Low-carb diets here, high protein diets there and so on. These are the choices we hear about every day of our lives. It never stops. We go and spend several hundred dollars a week toward getting Christy Brinkley’s or Jean-Claude Van Dam’s body by following their plans. But we are all different. Our bodies respond differently to various diets. We can’t look at our neighbor, follow their eating patterns, and have the same results as them. No, it will not happen. I explained the different body types (endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph) in earlier articles.
We need to understand that we are predestined to live with our type of metabolism and how our body reacts to different diets. How about these miracle Hollywood Diets? Do they cause weight loss? For some people, they do. Why wouldn’t they? You don’t eat for 48 hours except to drink fluids. Your body goes into shock and the only thing it will do is lose weight. It can be used for a special events for which you need to look slimmer (prom, high school reunion etc.). However, when you go back and eat normal food, what happens? Well, you gain back the water weight and sometimes you gain weight because you starved your body.
To start this article, I will explain a few things about the Food Guide Pyramid as an aid to eating healthy. You need to realize that by getting essential nutrition from your diet, you keep your energy level high and still keep losing weight. Following these guidelines is necessary to a healthy lifestyle. After understanding the Food Guide Pyramid and what your body needs every day to survive, you might understand the second part of this chapter, in which I will compare many diets on the market. I will explain in some detail some of the diets out there that do claim weight loss; however, their long-term effects might be destructive to your health. Sometimes drastic measures are followed by drastic results. You don’t want to find yourself with a heart attack at 30 years old because you consume only proteins and fats in your diet and your cholesterol level has reached a ridiculous level (>290). What you will read will make you realize that the body needs foods, including carbohydrates, to function. Eliminating them from your diet will have a destructive effect. After reading this chapter you’ll understand why.
So let’s get started.
Whether you are trying to lose body fat, have more energy, gain muscle mass or simply improve your overall health, nutrition plays an important role. Nutrition is the science of what we eat and how the body utilizes food. Many different strategies available will help you make smart dietary choices. However, the best nutritional plan is the one that considers your needs and physical activity level. The following principles were designed for a healthy individual without medical risk factors. If you have specific clinical concerns, please seek the advice of a registered dietitian.
In previous chapters, I talked about the concept of the Basal Metabolic Rate and how many calories your body needs, depending on your activity level. You will need to go back and review that information for this chapter.
Now what should you eat? The following information should be useful in your decision when it comes to the right food to eat.
Let’s get BACK TO BASICS. Food is made up of carbohydrates (simple and complex), proteins, fats, water and minerals. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats contain energy or calories. Water, vitamins and minerals do not provide energy but help your body convert nutrients into energy. Vitamins and minerals are essential to life and play a major role in energy production, nerve impulse transmission, proper heart functioning, as well as the growth, maintenance, and repair of bones and tissues. All nutrient categories, plus fiber, are critical to good health and physical performance. Nutrition experts agree that approximately 50-60% of caloric intake should come from carbohydrates (both simple and complex carbohydrates), 15-20% from protein and 20-30% from fat, with less than 10% from saturated fat. I’ve mentioned two types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. What is the difference?
Many people are confused about the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates – and many of the popular weight-loss books seem to do all they can to muddy the waters even further. Carbohydrates are one of three macro-nutrients that provide calories in our diets. The other two are protein and fat. Carbohydrates provide most of the energy needed in our daily lives, both for normal body functions such as heartbeat, breathing, and digestion and for exercise such as biking, walking, and running up stairs.
Carbohydrates are considered simple or complex based upon their chemical structure.
o Both types contain four calories per gram.
o In addition, both are digested into a blood sugar called glucose, which can then be used to fuel our bodies for work or exercise.
Somehow, simple carbohydrates have become known as the “bad” carbohydrates, while complex carbohydrates seem to be designated as the “good” carbohydrates. However, there is no real scientific or nutritional justification for these descriptions.
o Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly. Many simple carbohydrates contain refined sugars and few essential vitamins and minerals. Examples include fruit juices, milk, yogurt, honey, molasses, maple syrup and sugar.
o Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and are usually packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Examples are vegetables, breads, cereals, legumes and pasta.
Most experts recommend that 50 – 60% of the total calories in our diet come from carbohydrates. Yes – 50 – 60 %! Some of the diets out there tend to bring this level to 0% and instead concentrate on eating solely protein and fat. Not a good idea!
The bulk of the carbohydrate choices should be complex carbohydrates and most of the simple carbohydrate choices should come from fruits and milk or yogurt, which also contain vitamins and minerals. Avoid making the bulk of your carbohydrate choices from refined foods high in sugar since they are usually low in the nutrients we need to maintain health and energy levels.
Good carbohydrates: brown rice, wild rice, ancient grains like quinoa, millet, etc.; 100 % whole-wheat anything (bread, cereal and so on); all veggies and fruits, including potatoes. I prefer the sweet potatoes – loaded with beta-carotene along with other vitamins. Buy your food whole, green, and unprocessed.
When there is a “good” somewhere, the “bad” is not too far. What are the bad carbohydrates? Bad carbohydrates: white rice, white flour, white pasta, pastries, donuts, cakes, cookies, white bread of all kinds, refined sugary cereals.
Another carbohydrate that is very important to avoid is sugar. Everything that is with high sugar content is to be avoided. Fruit juice that contains 1% real juice and the rest… is, well, not too good for you.
The Food Guide Pyramid shows the relative quantities and recommended daily servings for the major food groups. Following the Food Guide Pyramid will ensure a well-balanced diet that includes the recommended daily allowance of all essential nutrients.
How many servings do I need each day?
o 1 serving of grains: 1 slice of bread (whole wheat only),
o 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta (whole wheat again),
o 1 oz of cold cereal and ½ bagel,
o 1 serving of vegetables: ½ cup cooked or 1 cup leafy greens
o 1 serving of fruit: 1 piece of fruit or ¾ cup of juice or ¼ cup of dried fruit
o 1 serving of dairy: 1 ½ oz of cheese, 1 cup of milk or yogurt
o 1 serving of meat, poultry: 2 -3 oz cooked meat, 1 egg, 1/2 cup of cooked beans
Following the FDA guidelines, this is the most appropriate way to feed yourself. By reading the following information, you’ll agree with me how extreme some diets can be and know to avoid them. Shock treatment can only be tolerated by your body for a very short period. You will not be able to keep up these diets and stay healthy. Again, nutritionists, dietitians, and doctors have criticized these diets. Knowledge is powerful, and by understanding the following information, you will make a wise decision about which diets you want to try.