When it comes to the conventional wisdom we have been provided with in the health and fitness world we have been misguided.
In this first post (of a a 3 part series) I am going to set the record straight on what matters when it comes to eating, where we have been steered wrong, and what we can do to get back on track.
We have been taught to fear food.
We avoid egg yolks red meat in fear that fat and high calories are the enemy.
We skimp on carbohydrates because they are “bad” and wonder why results don’t last.
We take out of the fat from our yogurt, label it fat free and add tons of sugar.
We replace sugar with artificial sugar and butter with margarine.
We fear potatoes and bananas as having too many carbs.
I fell into this trap years ago thinking that if I could just do more exercise and just eat less food that I would find success. I avoided butter at all costs. I turned to artificial sweeteners to give me my sweet fix. I thought carbs were bad. By the end of the day after my dreaded miserable 3-4 mile run I would eat everything in sight and go to bed and wake up in a state of guilt and shame.
There was no better option in my head to start the same way as I did the day before. Restriction was my golden ticket.
It did not make sense to wake up after a night of overeating and eat a moderate breakfast that make me feel happy and satisfied. I thought I didn’t deserve it. It didn’t make sense not to workout extra hard to try to burn off extra calories in fear of gaining weight.
After years of staying in this cycle I want to help others simply by helping break down where health and fitness went wrong.
Entire books are written on these topics but today I am sharing some perspective on where we went wrong with food.
We turn to artificial sweeteners, fat free, and non fat.
This is the downfall of the diet world at its finest. Artificial sweetness can mess with our bodies and brains in a number of ways. They can trick us into feeling full, they can make us crave certain foods later on, and pretty much offer nothing nutritional for our bodies. Usually fat free and non fat take out the fat and add sugar. Now check this out.
The book The Willpower Instinct address a subtle way that artificial sweeteners contribute to overeating and weight gain. “The sweet taste tricks the body into taking up glucose from the bloodstream in anticipation of a blood sugar spike. You’re left with less energy and less self-control, while your body and brain wonder what happened tot the sugar rush they were promised. This may be why recent studies how that diet soda consumption is associated with weight gain, not weight loss.”
Aka: your diet soda and fat free food habit is not helping you.
We choose the wrong carbs in the wrong amounts at the wrong times.
We get caught up in removing all carbs, good and bad, because they get lumped together as sugar. Yes essentially veggies are a sugar when broken down to its simplest form as a bagel is broken down into sugar but the difference is that vegetables contain many nutrients for our body and often are higher in fiber and water. This has less of an impact on blood sugar levels. That’s a good thing.
But all of a sudden carbs are the enemy. It is not the carb itself, it is that we are choosing the wrong carbs in the wrong amounts. We fear healthy foods like potatoes and bananas, restrict carbs of all kinds and eventually end up indulging more than we want because our bodies are crying out for a little bit of love and attention. I had a client avoid bread all day only to eat a pizza at night. Regardless of your thoughts on bread, doesn’t it make sense to eat a sandwich with two whole pieces of bread for lunch if that will help prevent you from overeating at night?
When it comes down to it, this is what you need to know about carbs.
Choose the right carbs (less processed varieties), in smaller amounts (the size of your hand when you make a fist), at the right times. Really there is no wrong time to choose a moderate portion of carbs, unless you know from your own experience that you do better rationing carbs at certain times.
We fear fats and proteins.
I still hear people say that they are afraid that fat will make them fat and protein will make them bulky. The truth is too much fat will make you fat and too much protein combined with an intense 6 day body building split designed to maximize muscle growth with a surplus of calories may create more muscle on your body that some refer to as bulk.
Protein plays a huge role in helping with satiety. Helping us feel full. When the body processes protein it takes more energy than protein or fats. Plus when you eat more protein you need less carbs and fats.
As for fats simply start to choose healthier ones like eggs, meats, nuts, avocado and less of the ones found in prepared foods. Because of the high calorie content, yes you do want to limit them but not eliminate them.
We restrict foods.
Restriction is our go to method. That is what we have been taught especially when we overindulge. When we restrict food, we restrict nutrients. And when we restrict nutrients we restrict good nutrition for our bodies.
We don’t need to just eat less. We need to eat smarter. We need more good food and less junk food. Is there a place for pizza, cookies, and wine? Sure. But if you make those choices more often than not, in too high quantities you will gain fat, you will feel like you have less energy, and you will be offering your body less nutrients.
Learn to balance your caloric intake without going into starvation mode. And that starts with allowing a little more flexibility in your diet. When you decide to eat better, do just that. Don’t cut out foods that you know you will add back in some day. Find ways to stay satisfied so you are able to stick with your diet and not give in because you feel bored and deprived. Keep it fun, keep it yummy, and trust the process by exhibiting patience and persistence.
The thing is, what you do this week or month, whether that is overeat or not workout, shows up down the road. This can work for us or against us. Eat well and exercise and in months you will see results. Eating poorly and skip workouts and in months you will see those results as well.
It is tough to make change when results are invisible. But if you want to make change you have to change something you do daily, even if the results are invisible at first. Replace what you want now for what you want long term.