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Fad Diets

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Fad Dieting

"I've tried everything, I lose some weight but when I go back to eating regular food I regain it all back."
  • I only eat veggies and drink water for two months.
  • Detox juices
  • The Blood type diet
  • Cabbage soup diet
  • Paleo diet
  • Cucumber and milk
  • I only eat fruit 
  • Drink this tea and lose weight

These are all examples of fad diets. Some better than others but really what they all have in common is that they tell you NOT to consume certain foods for the sake of maintaining a specific "diet". 

What is a Calorie?

A Calorie is chemistry. It is the measure of energy stored in food. More specifically the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of 1L of water by 1 degree Celsius. Food energy is turned into eat which is how we measure what we understand to be food calories.

Science and Your Body

70% of weight and body shape is hereditary. This is where we get body shapes like the ones below. 

Photo Courtesy: Precision Nutrition

Photo Courtesy: Precision Nutrition

However I believe that while you may be predisposed to a certain body shape it isn't an excuse to blame your parents for why you can't lose weight. No matter your body shape there's no reason you can't look the best YOUR body can be. You can lose some weight on any diet, but it comes right back on if it wasn't built upon proper nutrition habits. 

Psychological Aspect of Weight Loss

John goes on a diet to lose weight. And he is able to lose 10 lbs in 3 weeks. John proceeds to tell everybody how great his diet was. He gives full credit to the diet. The problem is John proceeds to go back to his usual eating habits and regains the weight. Instead of blaming the diet, he blames himself.  Does this sound familiar?

Often times these diets restrict and cut out a large macronutrient. That alone will force weight loss, albeit mostly water and glycogen stores. The diet had very little to do with the person's success and now it damages the individual's psyche because they don't believe they're able to succeed. And that alone is large enough of a reason to not entertain trying these types of diets. 

Many fad diets have little science to back-up their crazy ideas and claims. This is why the results aren't what you're hoping for. Just because something works for someone else doesn't mean that it works for you. When you're looking to lose weight like getting a thinner waist or smaller thighs, your body doesn't know that's all you want. Metabolically speaking, it adjusts and when you continue to consume the same amount of food you ate to lose weight; you stop losing weight. In the same way that exercise needs to be progressed so too does your nutritional protocol. 

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Are Those Calories Worth Eating

Being a former professional cook and now fitness professional, this question is always a subject of debate. 

Let's be honest, healthful food can only taste so good. REALLY TASTY food often contains high calorie ingredients like fats (cheese, oils, butter) salt, sugars and less than optimal cooking techniques (i.e. frying).

I like roasted chicken but you know what's even tastier? Fried chicken. Greek Yogurt parfaits are good but Ice Cream is even more delicious. 

The following is my opinion for you to agree or disagree with: If I'm going to indulge it's got to be worth eating. 

On a day to day basis I eat healthy food. I indulge a bit but 90% of my day is composed of lean proteins, a lot of vegetables, seeds/nuts, black coffee, and water. I rarely stray from this. My only compromise is if I somehow end up at a place I really have been wanting to try or an unexpected lunch meeting where I try to order a healthy item off the menu. On the weekend I make time to go out with Sara. Here we tend to make similar decisions about where to eat opting to support a small business producing a quality product.

I believe most people would benefit by having this mentality. What you decide is worthy of eating is completely up to you. If you're consuming these "worthy" meals in moderation, you'll end up eating more home cooked meals and saving a lot of money too. I would rather eat zero "healthy" pizzas and burgers then eat a really delicious one on the weekend. Skip the diet sodas and have a regular one once a week. All these things are a great way to live life while being mindful about what you're putting into your body. 

OVERVIEW

  • Opt to savor the foods you want to indulge in by saving them for the weekend. Instead of eating Jersey Mikes or Subway for lunch during the work week, bring food from home and enjoy a really tasty sub on the weekend. 
  • During the week eat more home cooked meal. This allows you to eat more nutrient dense-lower calorie meals. 
  • Support small local businesses, they are often more transparent about the quality of their food and will gladly talk about it if you ask politely. 
  • Have a plan if you veer off your regularly scheduled meals during the week when possible. If I'm going out to a restaurant, I always scope out the menu for a healthy option. 

5 Misunderstood Principles of Eating Healthy

Ate an extra carrot stick...so I need to add the calories! Carry the one...

Ate an extra carrot stick...so I need to add the calories! Carry the one...

1.  Eating healthy isn't 100% science. Keep things simple by following basic principles and using common sense

I don't count calories, macros or use any sort of fancy complicated formula or equation when preparing my food. 

I did a great job if: I ate real whole foods (especially plants), ate when I was hungry, stopped long before I got stuffed and fit in an hour of movement. 

Nutritional Science is the backbone of proper eating recommendations. You however don't need to actually know or implement all of that fancy-pants science into your dietary protocols.

The healthiest and leanest people I know don’t overthink nutrition science each day. But you know the people who do? Yo-yo dieters. These are the kinds of people who need an app for every single food they consume and freak out at any deviation. 

Take home: Unless you're an elite athlete or a physique competitor, you don't need to worry about the science. Being healthy and lean for life is EASY without a 4 year degree in Nutrition. Principles over plans.

Did you remember to soap and scrub your food? Yeah. No.

Did you remember to soap and scrub your food? Yeah. No.

2. Healthy eating isn’t black & white. It’s doing your best with what you have.

You can have the world's greatest meal plan and guess what? You just ran out of Kale and the store is closed! But..but..my plan calls for kale. NOW WHAT!!!!!????

Great scrap the whole thing, I'm going to eat that pie I bought?

Instead if you run out of kale, do you have ANY other vegetables in your fridge? Spinach? Romaine lettuce? Even frozen vegetables would suffice. 

Being able to make swaps and not just follow a black and white approach to your meal planning is vital to long term success. 

Take home: Even the best laid out plans can go awry and to make the best of any situation. Often we scrap our plans because we have unrealistic expectations for how we should be eating. 

3. Healthy eating isn't calorie counting. It’s paying attention to your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues.

This is a tough one for people to understand. They think if only I could eat "x" calories each day, I'd be so friggin hot and ripped. 

Except trying to tabulate your calorie intake and expenditure is a losing proposition. There are so many factors that can change nutrient density of vegetables and your proteins like: Variables during growth, your cook preparation style, and even varietal of vegetable. 

For some, if they are unable to count calories they don't quite know what to do with themselves. But if you were to look around the world, there are many people who are in great shape because they are more in tune with their body's hunger cues. 

Take home: Learning to pay attention and knowing when you're 80-90% (I'm comfortable) versus being stuffed (think after a buffet) is vital to not needing an app for that.

I'd say that Roast beef looks pretty good...I made this =) 

I'd say that Roast beef looks pretty good...I made this =) 

4. Healthy eating isn't always AMAZING. It's good but not that good either

Okay let's be honest steamed vegetables and baked fish isn't nearly as good as a hamburger or pizza.

You can however retrain your tastebuds to enjoy different types of foods, healthier foods. It takes time but it can be done. It's why we eat something from our childhood that we recall as AMAZING, and now it's only okay. 

Take home: Food should always taste good, but not so good that it blasts you out in outer space every time. Again this goes back to expectations about how food is going to taste. If you've only been eating big sugary and salty foods, of course the broccoli is going to taste awful.

5. Healthy eating isn’t easy. But if you get organized with your daily routine it enables living healthily, and you'll find it gets easier and easier

Piggybacking off the last point, yes it's tough to eat 2 cups of roasted cauliflower instead of that basket of fries. 

Remember the hardest part is starting. Decide to have oatmeal instead of cereal. Choose roasted chicken over fried tenders. Great job! Now there will be a bevy of friends, family, co-workers, Dr. Phil, TV, and magazines telling you otherwise. Stay the course! Have a support system that will back you when things get hard and remind you of the goals you need to achieve.

Take home: Luckily the more often you choose being healthy over a late night taco truck run, the easier it will get. I promise you it will. 

Bonus:  Healthy eating isn’t restriction. It's about striking a balance seamlessly into your life so you can make better healthy choices without feeling "deprived"

If I said to a client, starting tomorrow they could no longer have any dessert, I might end up in the poor house. Can't get between a person and their dessert!

But what might also happen is said client going home and inhaling all the ice cream, cake and cookies they can get their hands on. 

There's no such thing as "clean" or "good" foods and bad foods. There's simply food. 

I recommend to all my clients, indulge a bit everyday.

Take home: We don't set restrictions. But we do practice good portion control. Have a few cookies, just don't eat the whole bag!

 

Food is Not Fuel

"Gotta get you calories in! Food is fuel, gotta keep it up. Your body is like a car, keep it filled with gas and you're good to go!" - Overheard at the gym

When you treat food as simply fuel, calories, or energy you will miss out on a much larger picture about what food really is.

*Food Provides Micronutrients

For example Calcium helps:

  • build bones,
  • clot blood,
  • regulate blood pressure,
  • keep our muscles and heart pumping, and
  • maintain cell communication.

Magnesium plays a role in more than 300 enzyme systems and helps with:

  • protein synthesis,
  • muscle and nerve function,
  • blood sugar control,
  • blood pressure regulation,
  • energy production, and
  • transport of other minerals.

Folate (vitamin B9) helps:

  • convert food into energy,
  • the nervous system (including the brain) function,
  • tissues grow
  • red blood cell production.

None of these aforementioned nutrients provide fuel for the body because if you're missing key nutrients or vitamins in your diet your body won't work the way it's supposed to. 

Food Provides Phytochemicals

These are chemicals found in plants such as flavonoids, phenolic acid and stilbenes/lignans.   Some of the most well known phytochemicals are found in soy, teas, and berries. These nutrients have been known to:

  • offer DNA protection against free radicals,
  • protect against cancer,
  • decrease risk of heart disease, and
  • reduce overall mortality.

All these chemicals do a lot but one thing that it doesn't do is provide the body with only fuel for energy. 

Our bodies have priorities and will extract nutrients by any means necessary to keep you alive, even at the expense of your muscles! I'm sorry does your car catabolize it's own headlights to keep you driving when you're low on gasoline? The human body unlike a machine is a constantly evolving living organism. And as such is infinitely more complicated than a car will ever be. Cars are jealous of humans. 

Food as a Chef

As someone who has cooked professionally and stood for hours to provide customers with quality food I take the idea that food is only fuel with some offense. To some food means so much more than calories, carbs, fats and proteins. Food tells the world a story offering insight about you as a person. A parent cooks because they love being a provider for their children and spouse. For many food can be an outlet for creativity and without it they would wither away in a cubicle. To many on social media food is a status symbol of being "cool" because they had an opportunity to dine at the newest hipster foodie restaurant. Food is an adventure, because you get to try something once when you're traveling. Food is a social magnet for friends and families where you gather together and break bread with people you love. Where you get your food tells the world you care about supporting local small family run farms. 

So tell me again how food is ONLY fuel for your body?

 

*From Precision Nutrition

More Protein? No Whey!

Photo by  Celia Sun  on  Unsplash

Photo by Celia Sun on Unsplash

Protein supplements and meal-replacement products containing proteins have four commonly used scientific measure of protein quality. 

  1. Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) which is a measure of growth of animals consuming a fixed amount of dietary protein of a single type. Often considered less applicable to humans. 
  2. Biological Value of a protein is a measure of the amount of protein that is retained from total absorbed quantity for body composition. 
  3. Net Protein Utilization measure the amount of amino acids available by any one given protein source which are then synthasized in the body as a new protein. 
  4. Chemical Score is a measure of the concentration of the nine essential amino acids from a single protein source. 

Whey

Whey protein is one of two protein types found in milk often during cheese making, the other being casein. The two type soft proteins are separated from each other and whey was often considered useless. It was discovered that it was a high quality protein. 

It is a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids and rates well on all 4 measures for protein measures. 

Whey Isolate: Purest form (90-95% by weight) of whey that is great for those who are lactose intolerant as it has had all the lactose removed. 
Whey Concentrate: Most common form of whey protein (60-70% by weight). It is inexpensive and can easily be added to different types of products. 
Whey Hydrolysate: The protein has water added to the polymers breaking them down into it's individual amino acids. This is to help with the body's digestion and absorption. This is a more expensive form to produce. 

Casein

As I mentioned above, casein is distilled through the production of cheese. One for the most important differences in Casein from Whey is that it is an excellent source of glutamine. 

It has lower concentrations of BCAA's than whey and because of a higher lactose content can be problematic for those who don't digest the sugar well.

For many strength and physique athletes the slower digestion aides for longer periods of time when there will not be any consumption of food like while sleeping.

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Soy

Rich in BCAA but contains only a small amount of methionine. Most forms of soy are highly digestible and absorbed quickly but for many it is considered a slightly inferior source of protein. 

Soy isolate is fortified with methionine which now makes it fairly comparable to whey and casein. One of the disadvantages are the isoflavones (anti-nutrients) which have been shown to have an estrogenic effect in the body.

Other Commonly Found Proteins

Rice Protein

Gluten free, neutral tasting and very budget friendly. May be derived from genetically modified rice. 

Egg Protein

Fat free, contains a full spectrum of essential amino acids. May cause upset stomachs. 

Milk Protein

Often seen as Calcium casein ate. High in BCAA's, contains lactose which may or may not cause upset stomachs. 

Hemp Protein

Great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Provides fiber as well. 100% plant based protein. 

Which Protein should you take?

Well that would vary depending on your goals and dietary preferences. But first and foremost is making sure that you're getting the majority of your protein from whole foods and less processed animal and plant based sources. They're called dietary supplements and shouldn't be considered a main staple of your daily intake, rather in addition to.