I used to work at a big box gym, and I would send my clients emails. I felt it was a great way to make sure I covered all the same information with all my clients. Sometimes my emails were spurred from conversations had during sessions, or sometimes it was just information that I wish people knew. I found some old emails, and I thought I would update them as blog posts for you all to read. Here is the first installment!
Food is today’s topic! As all of you should be aware of by now, diet is key to body transformation. Some people don’t like the work diet because they see it as a temporary means to lose weight. your diet is what you use to nurish your body. While you can be more drastic in what you (don’t) eat while working towards a goal, your diet should be a lifestyle. Food is categorized as fat, carbohydrate, or protein. I’m going to go over a couple things you should know about the differences. Fats are up first. Healthy fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The bad fats are trans fats and saturated fats. Once upon a time, low fat diets were considered healthy. One thing that people have come to learn however, is that healthy fats are needed to break down the protein and carbs we put into our bodies. Not to mention, most “low fat” foods have chemicals and ingredients on the label you can’t pronounce to replace the fats. Flax oil, omega 3 and 6, and fish oil pills are prevalent in today’s grocery stores because of this revelation. There is even a current thought that all saturated fats are not created equal, a steak or bacon is not as bad for you as a potato chip with equal amounts of saturated fat.
Carbohydrates are where your brain gets its energy from. This is one reason why I recommend people eat carbs at breakfast. When people are looking to boost their weight loss, I encourage cutting out non-vegetable carbs after lunch (this includes fruit, bread, grains, pasta, sweets). The thinking behind that is how our bodies store carbs. Carbohydrates are stored for twelve hours as glycogen (sugar) in our body. After twelve hours it is turned into adipose tissue (fat), if not used. We are mostly inactive at night, so the carbs eaten after lunch don’t always get burned before we go to bed. It is coming more to the forefront of media to talk about gluten these days, too. Gluten is not made the way it was when our parents were kids. We have super strains that are just not being absorbed by our bodies like it should. There is a big push to abstain from gluten, and I have to say, the more I read, the more I’m on the gluten free bandwagon!
Which leaves us with protein. Protein is the building block for muscle in your body. Protein takes longer to digest, making you feel satiated. Lifting weights causes micro-tears in your muscle fibers. Eating protein after a workout helps your muscles repair the damaged fibers. The reparation creates stronger and bigger muscles. Within a normal diet (read, NOT ATKINS) your body has the inabilty to store protein. Therefore, the protein you eat is absorbed by your muscles or excreted. As you increase your protein, this is why it is important to make sure your fiber intake increases as well, excretion cannot happen without adequate fiber.
As you start to read food labels, look for the amount of each kind of fat, of fiber and sugar, of protein. Which category does your food belong in? Make sure you are determining which category has the highest percentage, not just go by what other people may say about a food. When you look at skim milk, it contains 12 grams of sugar and 8 grams of protein, so it has more carbs than protein. In the Organics brand of peanut butter there is 12 grams of protein and 2 grams of sugar. I am going to eat peanut butter over skim milk for protein. Every person I have ever met over-eats in one of three areas. When checking food labels, look at the sugar, the sodium, and the saturated fat. Once you know what kind of “bad food” you crave, you can work on decreasing its prevelance in your diet. The best way to accomplish this is to simultaneously focus on increasing a good area, green veggies, anyone?
Now that you are looking at food labels, WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU EAT! It is the best way to hold yourself accountable for what you put in your mouth. My next guideline is to eat every three hours. At your three main meals, have some healthy fat to help digest the food. This may mean taking a fish or krill oil pill, adding flax oil to your cooking, or eating fish. When you are eating every three hours, you shouldn’t feel hungry all day. After every meal or snack, you should feel satisfied until the next meal or snack. If you go three and a half hours without eating, your stomach should be growling. To my clients who can’t eat that often, I offer this challenge. For five days set a timer to go off every three hours. When the timer goes off, “force” yourself to eat. Before the fifth day is over, you should be hungry if you go over three hours without eating. Once you have woken up your metabolism, and remind your brain what hunger and satisfied feels like, you can eat when you are hungry. Make sure you are not ignoring hunger signs, as well as not mistaking thirst for hunger.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore
Different programs work for different people, one thing I can offer is what worked for me. When I lost my first 33 pounds, in eleven weeks, I drastically changed my diet. Temporairily, I gave up drinking alcohol and eating out at any kind of restaurant. I began taking a multivitamin, fish oil, and a fat burner. I made sure to eat a high protein diet, eating every three hours. I never counted calories, but I recorded everything I ate. I’m the type of person that likes routine, so I ate almost the same thing every day for three months. Breakfast was coffee, three hard boiled eggs, and one cup of berries. Snacks were protein powder and water, peanut butter, or cottage cheese. Lunch was a spinach salad with mushrooms, peppers, and cottage cheese. Dinner was chicken or fish with brown rice and broccoli. I carried around a small bag of almonds, in case I was extra hungry. I drank a gallon of water a day. I eventually began figuring out my calories to make sure that my calories were balanced. Since I ate the same things over and over, I didn’t have to figure out a ton of different meals every week, instead I would add one or two meals to my rotation each week. I kept measuring cups in my food containers in the fridge, because I knew exactly how much I needed for a serving. For a long while, my husband and I followed the paleo diet. This means no processed food, no grains, no dairy, no starchy veggies, limited fruits. At dinner we sat down to eat our salad while the protein was still cooking. This way our salad was finished and being digested as we began our main meal. This helped curb overeating and post-dinner sweet tooth. We started with the plan in the back of the book, The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain. Last summer, I began the AIP diet, which is like paleo on steroids. No inflammatory foods, including gluten, dairy, nuts, seeds, nightshade veggies, and beans. As a family, we have decided to go gluten free, dairy is the next one to nix, but I’m doing it in stages. Each person needs to find their own lifestyle. I’ve had clients try South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, My Inner Skinny, Isagenix, Shakeology, Zone Diet, and Skinny Bitch. Whatever you try, make sure it is something you can do for lifestyle. This isn’t a temporary fix to your current weight situation. As you grow in your expertise of what works for your body and in your knowledge of different ideas and theories, you may change the style of eating you chose. Be flexible in what works, but consistent in finding what “real foods” eating means for you and your family.
What kinds of rules or guidelines do you set for yourself in terms of eating? What have you tried that hasn’t worked?