Nutrition for Health, Weight management & Performance
With the amount of magazine articles dedicated to getting a six pack in 6 weeks or slimming down for summer in 2 weeks it would be understandable to want to believe in these articles.
The simple truth is that any such claims are complete nonsense, the only way to truly effect positive healthy changes to our bodies is through a longer term commitment to exercise and dietary intake. That's not to say that these changes have to be too drastic, simply sustained. How many times have you seen a professional sportsperson who retires and then almost doubles in size? Despite how fit they were when competing its one of life's cruel realities that you cant bank fitness gains.
Losing weight may well be an outcome you desire but do you really want to weigh less or do you specifically want to shed excess fat (adipose tissue) and tone up the appearance of your body? This is a critical point as try any fad diet and you may indeed see short term weight loss. However in the vast majority of cases this will be down to a loss in muscle mass (muscle is heavier than fat) and water loss. The net effect is a few lbs. off the scales, but the same amount of fat on your body, albeit now sagging on a dehydrated less muscular physique which now requires less energy to be maintained so you have a lower BMR than you did before the diet. So unless you're a jockey or a prize fighter lets forget weight and talk about excess fat.
Oh by the way, BMR, basal metabolic rate (metabolism), is the energy (measured in calories) expended by the body at rest to maintain normal bodily functions. This is affected by several factors you cant change such as age, height and gender, some that you can usually affect like the environmental temperature and others you can have a direct impact on such as dieting and exercise habits.
As mentioned above, crash diets or in fact any diets do not work long term, in fact when normal dietary service resumes they can often lead to a great depositing of excess fat. This is due to factors such as the reduction in BMR and the fact that the body's response to a sharp reduction in calorific intake is to become better at conserving energy, thus further reducing BMR (often referred to as the starvation response). So just in case I haven't been clear on this, diets don't work in fact the only good diet is a good diet.
So What Should You Do?
The aim here is not to obsess over food. Don't try to be too precise working out exact meals to set portions & proportions. Its not about overhauling your diet overnight and its absolutely, positively 100% not about allocating points to food. What did you eat for lunch? I had 3 points, not sure we'd catch Homer drooling over mmmh 3 points loargghhh.
Oh and don't calorie count, for loads of reasons but Ill pick 2, 1) you know if you've eaten something energy dense or a treat like food and you know when you're eating something that is largely healthy so make sure you try and keep to 80% healthy and 20% treat (sometimes the lines are blurred so Ive included some basic but handy tips below). Therefore as long as you're sensible about food you don't need to count every last calorie, this brings me onto reason 2) those calories you're counting, you know, the ones nicely printed on the side of packets of food they're wrong, they're an average and they're allowed to be. In fact they're legally allowed a margin of error of 20% (A 2005 BBC study tested 70 products and over 570 nutrients and only 7% came in at the stated value with 1/5th outside the 20% margin of error). Kind of puts the kybosh on counting eh!
Wider Food Issues
Put simply, food is a multi billion pound industry and the weight management part of the food business is also huge. There are unscrupulous practices at play in the whole food industry, misinformation, experimentation and a reduction in choice. Some of this is from genuine good intentions, some is decidedly shadier. Our food is more heavily processed and refined that ever before in history, we also have an obesity epidemic that is reaching global proportions. Its worst in the west where processing and refining has been ongoing for the longest time, but its rising in the rest of the world. In fact wherever the western diet is becoming more prevalent. We also have rising rates of CV disease and diabetes, but we also have better treatment so less people die, which is good, but the cases are still rising and more people are living longer with less quality of life, which is bad.Now, I am more than happy to wax lyrical about food and the modern western diet, but quite frankly Id crash the server of this website, if I put down all my views and you would certainly stop reading this before I stop writing! I'm not a raving environmentalist (I only use teabags once) but the simple fact is, do some basic research into our food and you soon realise what a mess we've got ourselves into.Of course we want diets and overnight fitness programmes to work, were only human and it would make it all terribly easy but the fact is our bodies did not evolve the easy way.
Rather than go on and on, Ive attached a reading list below of some books Id recommend if this is something you'd like to read into in greater detail. These aren't fanciful theories but well researched, well written books backed up with evidence.
For now, just think about this for a moment, its food, when all is said and done, its food, humans have been eating food for centuries. We just need to make sure were eating as naturally as possible, so as to give our body the essential fuels everyone knows the Macro nutrients (Fat, Carbs & Protein) but consider the essential Micro nutrients (Vitamins & Minerals) - the more food is processed the more these vital ingredients are destroyed or degraded. This is explained far more eloquently in the attached link (just look out for the bit about a well known cereal and the rat experiment. Intrigued? Then what are you waiting for, click below, just remember to come back afterwards
Some clients may want nutritional advice, others wont and I certainly wont be forcing my views on anyone. However, for those that are interested then guidance can encompass nutrition for weight management, sports performance and healthy living. I also offer full nutritional analysis with diet diary - call me to discuss.
The key is to make subtle changes to your diet that are sustainable in the long term. This means you have to still enjoy your food and still think of it as food, not calories, macro/micro nutrients, and most definitely not as points!Handy hints & tips
Buy and eat food that your grandparents would recognise as food, if in doubt look at the ingredients, if you cant pronounce it be wary! cheesestrings anyone?
80/20 rule " try to eat as healthy as you can most of the time (say 80% good, then you can have some flexibility with the remaining 20% free of guilt)
Good selection of fruit and vegetables (try and hit several different colours is a good rule to follow)
Try for organic where finances and shopping allow
Look for farmers markets and local organic farm shops
Shop around the edge of the supermarket, this is usually where the less profitable & less processed foods are placed.
Limit your processed food intake
The more you eat healthy food the more you will limit processed food, not because you become a food militant but because you realise how tasty real food can be
Do not cut out fat from your diet! " you need the nutrients in animal fats to process nutrients & minerals
Low Fat foods compensate with sugar and sweeteners but the body can only store so much protein and carbs as fuel, any excess gets stored as fat anyway " so allow yourself fat just make sure its the good stuff and in proportion to your diet..
Avoid anything low cal " sweeteners like aspartame have been linked with debilitating side effects, including memory loss, headaches, slurred speech and vision problems. See, http://www.westonaprice.org/modernfood/aspartame.html
Here is some good suggested reading. They come highly recommended and will certainly open your eyes to some of the less obvious and questionable ˜accepted" practices within the food industry. Now I just want to clarify that whilst I do my bit for the environment such as recycling, in the spirit of openness and honesty I have to say that I'm mostly concerned with the quality of the food that I'm putting into my body and that of my family. To some people these books may have arguments that seem biased to suit the authors views, I myself take from them the facts pertaining to food, nutrition, science and most important of all common sense, then come to my own conclusions.
In Defence Of Food,
The Great Cholesterol Con,
We Want Real Food,
The Great Food Gamble,
Not On The Label,Shopped,
Dr Malcolm Kendrick
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