With the Holiday season already here I found this blog, it should help. Very informative. Good luck to all of us!!!! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!
The Truth About Dieting
Posted by abornstein | December 13, 2011
If I was smarter when I was young health journalist, I probably would have eaten more cake. It’s tasty, I like it, and the infrequent indulgence could have served as the personal experiment I needed to better understand what it takes to be healthy.
When I first started in this industry, I spent more than 10 years educating myself with an overly complicated view of what it takes to be healthy. The desire to take care of my body and be able to help others take care of theirs led me to some extreme measures that weren’t necessary. But in the past five years, I’ve started to see food and health differently and I’ve begun to understand that as complicated as the human body is, making it function optimally isn’t a difficult process.
In fact, here’s a secret about dieting that will make many nutrition guru’s cringe: There isn’t one diet solution. Many eating plans work. And those that aren’t successful oftentimes fail because they are based on pseudo-science, over-complicate the process, and wear you down mentally.
The truth about dieting? It can be boiled down to three simple guidelines that can help you eat better and achieve the body you want.
1. CALORIES ARE (STILL) KING
“Good foods” vs. “bad foods.” It’s one of the oldest nutrition debates. And while we could talk all day about what you should be eating (more on that soon), calories are irrefutably the biggest influence on how much you weigh and how you look. You see, your body is a machine that plays by a simple rule: The law of thermodynamics. I’m no physicist, so I won’t pretend to cover topics in a way that isn’t necessary. Bottom line: If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. If you eat less, you’ll lose weight. This is why one of my favorite pieces of advice is, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” At the end of the day, if you’re over- or under-eating, it’s going to impact how much you weigh. That’s not to say that genetics and hormones don’t play a role in your body composition—they do. Resistance training training also makes a difference, as does the balance of foods you eat. But above everything else, if you’re trying to change your weight, focusing on calories will ensure that good things will happen. I’ve seen it too many times and it’s been replicated repeatedly by science.
The calorie rule is important for mental freedom that is oftentimes crushed during the dieting process, and why so many people hate the concept of dieting. When calories are the bottom line, any diet can include dessert. I know that people disagree, but if you eat snacks and still keep your calories low enough, you will lose weight. There’s plenty of evidence to support this, and until someone much smarter than me proves the law of thermodynamics wrong, we have no reason to believe otherwise. As such, if you want to change the way you look, tracking your calories is the best place to start. If you do the math, you will see changes.
THE TRICK: Most people don’t like counting calories. Admittedly, it can be a pain, but that’s why tools like the MyPlate Calorie Tracker make your job easier. When people track, most often they set daily calorie goals. I think that’s a little too rigid. Instead, I recommend creating a weekly calorie goal. This gives you more flexibility on a day-to-day basis, and should actually make hitting your goals easier, which will increase your likelihood for success. For instance, if you want to go out to a restaurant and eat a meal, that doesn’t have to sabotage your dietary goals, or you don’t need to starve yourself for the rest of the day. You just adjust your weekly allowance. Just make sure you don’t confuse this approach with, “I can eat whatever I want and then not eat for two days.” That’s called starvation. We’re focusing on creating an eating plan that is both flexible and sustainable.
2. BE FLEXIBLE
Yes, it’s true that you can eat crap and still lose weight. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s living proof that going on a diet of snack foods can cause you to drop pounds. In fact, a lot of pounds (try 27) and fast (just 10 weeks). But your body is a machine. You can put in bad fuel and still function, but why not use premium all the time, go in for oil checks, and keep the engine working as good as possible? That’s why it’s essential to eat good foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein. (meat, fish, poultry for the carnivores, and a variety of hemp, seitan, tempeh, and lentils) Basically, all the natural, “less-processed” foods that are loaded with micronutrients (think vitamins and minerals) that are good for your health. If you eat a good diet, you really don’t need to supplement with much else.
Some people might call this a Paleo approach. I just call it common sense. Unlike all-or-none diet approaches (I’m not picking on any diets), I have no problem with eating grains, enjoying dairy, or even occasionally snacking on some processed foods (yes, it’s true—I actually like white bread). Here’s the thing about food: Unless you have an allergy (very real for many people), or suffer from severe inflammation (another issue that most people don’t realize), there’s no reason why you can’t eat pretty much anything in your diet. Yes, I said anything. With one very BIG caveat: That “everything” should make up a small portion of the total calories you consume in a day or on a weekly basis.
This obviously leaves a lot of room for interpretation. But you know what? I’ve seen enough people improve their health on a variety of diets (high carb, low carb, high fat, high protein) to understand that a lot of different variations work. Personally, I follow a higher protein, moderate fat diet. And my carbohydrates are dependent on how active I am during the day. On days when I lift weights, I bump up my carbohydrates significantly (and drop fat). On the day I don’t lift, I drop my carb intake, bump up how much fat I eat, and keep my protein levels almost the same.
This was done by trial and error—it’s what I’ve found works best for my body. I’m a carnivore. I love chicken, steak, fish, and eggs, so the higher protein diet works for me. Plus, diets that are higher in protein have been shown to be better for your metabolism (protein burns more calories than all other food sources), and it helps you fight against cardiovascular disease, builds muscle, and keeps you fuller for longer periods of time. While some people (mainly bodybuilders) will overestimate how much protein your body needs, I’ve found that consuming a higher percentage of my calories from protein does my body good.
The reason I like the flexible approach is simple: When you eat this way, you get the best of both worlds. You consume the foods that will keep you lean, provide you with the most energy, and keep you healthy. These foods are the foundation of your diet. But you also have the flexibility to occasionally indulge and eat the foods that you love, even though they might not have any “health” value. They are still calories that will be part of your overall eating goal.
The hardest part with dieting is that it can be mentally exhausting. But if you have a big treat once every week, or small treats daily, then that frustration doesn’t exist. It’s better socially, mentally, and in my opinion, physically. The key is keeping yourself on track and making sure that your small indulgence isn’t actually a daily binge.
3. EAT WHEN YOU WANT
I’ll offer you a piece of advice that is something I wish I knew 15 years ago: Eat for YOUR schedule. Lifestyle factors are probably the biggest reason so many diets fail. (that and diets that are ridiculous and require extreme measures like eating 500 calories a day or only living off soup broth). You should never feel forced to fit your life into someone else’s plan. It’s why diets that insist 6 meals per day is the ONLY thing that works, that you can’t eat after 7 p.m., or three protein bars per day are necessary are all a healthy dose of dietary BS. If you follow rules 1 and 2, when you eat—or how often you eat—doesn’t matter. All that does is the total amount you consume and the ratio of proteins-to-fat-to-carbs (and determining the ratio that works best for you).
Now I say that timing isn’t “that” important because there are times that are beneficial to eat. For instance, eating after your workout is important to helping your body recover from the exercise. But this doesn’t mean you have to eat within 30 minutes or your muscles will go to waste. Instead, just remind yourself to eat and fuel up. You’ll notice a difference.
So what does this mean? IF you follow rules 1 and 2, then…
1) Any number of meals per day can work. I used to love eating 5 to 7 mini snacks per day. And if that works for you then follow that plan. But it’s not the only option. There’s nothing wrong with eating 2 or 3 meals per day if that works better for your schedule and your preferences. (eating bigger meals as opposed to grazing on small snacks)
2) You can eat at any time. Whether you’re a big breakfast eater or prefer your meals late at night, the timing doesn’t matter. Do what makes you happy (assuming you follow rules 1 and 2 and your late night meal doesn’t become a 3,000-calorie binge)
3) Your diet doesn’t have to negatively affect your social life or your family life.
When you follow these three tips, you’ll find that your diet becomes simpler and better. Food can be your ally, rather than a constant point of frustration. And as you gain a better understanding of your body and what works for you, you can start becoming more detailed in your dietary approach—if you so choose. But until that day comes, keep it simple. Health—much like fitness—should create happiness and longevity and shouldn’t cause stress. This is your life, after all. Enjoy it.
At the end of the day, remind yourself that food and eating should be pleasurable. So find out how much you should be eating, focus on maintaining a good balance of healthy foods, and don’t stress the minor details. You’ll soon find that you can eat your cake, and have the body you want too.
- Adam Bornstein
Have a question for me or want more health or fitness information? Follow me on: Twitter @BornFitness, Google+, or Facebook
Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/blog/blog/the-truth-about-dieting/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12.13.11#ixzz1gQzGrjqv