Posted on 16 Jul 2013
9 min read
Have you ever wondered why some people are able to eat as much as they like and stay slim yet others can’t?
And have you ever wondered why one diet may work for one person but not another?
Other than the fact that most ‘diet’ fads are unsustainable, the truth is that every single person on this planet is unique and every single person on this planet will have a different way of digesting and metabolising food.
So although it’s very difficult to advise what people should eat without running them through a metabolic-type test to determine what foods are best digested by their body, it is easy to say which foods you should definitely try to avoid.
With the amount of money that goes into marketing fast-foods and cheap, processed foods, it’s easy to see why more people are obese and suffering from cardiovascular diseases than at any other time in the history of the human race.
Due to the demand for cheap food, everything from the quality of our vegetables, fruits and even meats is being compromised.
A lot has been spoken of the necessity and validity of organic farming.
Some have argued that, nutritionally, there is no difference between the produce of organic and non-organic farms.
However, if you strip it back, it’s pretty obvious why organic produce is better for your body.
The human race survived thousands of years without pesticides, fungicides and all the rest of it – and this is no coincidence.
The quality of the soil determines the quality of the produce that grows from it, and to cut a long story short, these sprays are severely detrimental to soil quality, hence why, since 1937, we have lost 61% of our top soil.
Add to this the fact that our bodies are not evolved to adequately digest these sprays, and they therefore slow our metabolism and contribute to all manner of health problems without us even realising it.
It’s fair to say eating organic produce would go a long way to contributing to a healthier body.
Good soil means good grass/plants, which means healthier animals, which means healthier meat/dairy/eggs and everything else we get from animal produce.
Another thing we should try to eradicate from our diets is sugar and refined foods.
More specifically, simple carbohydrates, such as sweets, white bread, and processed, refined foods should be avoided like the plague if you are trying to lose fat and are serous about getting healthy.
Well, these all cause a large insulin spike when ingested, which cause food cravings and resultant fat gains.
So refined sugar is a serious no no; it has absolutely no nutritional value other than calories and is not a necessary part of your diet.
Other dangers of refined sugar include the fact it can suppress your immune system and raise your cholesterol levels.
Sugar also feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer in the breast, ovaries, prostate, pancreas, lung and stomach.
It also increases overgrowth of candida (yeast organism), increases chronic fatigue, increases PMS symptoms, and, as we all know, it’s terrible for your teeth!
Do not be mistaken thinking a ‘fat-free’ diet will stop you gaining weight; fat is not the villain, sugar is.
When you eat it, your body must borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolise the incomplete food.
Calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium are taken from various parts of the body to accommodate the empty calories of the sugar consumed.
It’s not unheard of for calcium stores to be so depleted in order to neutralise the effects of sugar that the bones becomes osteoporotic due to the withdrawn calcium.
Because of the sweet flavour and addictive nature of sugar and refined carbohydrates, it can be very difficult to steer clear of them.
Add to this the fact that food manufacturers add sugar to nearly everything they put on our shelves these days, and you can see why you should be extra vigilant of what is on the label.
The most misunderstood nutrient of them all.
There are good fats and bad fats; trans fats and saturated are the bad fats which are best avoided, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are those we need.
Trans fat is found in things like margarine, pastries, fast food – basically anything which includes hydrogenated oils.
They are bad as they can cause or increase our risk of everything from heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes.
Saturated fat is found in dairy products like whole milk, cheese, and butter, as well as fatty meats and egg yolks.
These should be limited in your diet but are nowhere near as bad for you as trans fat and do certainly have a place in a healthy and balanced diet.
Monounsaturated fat on the other hand can help lower LDL cholestrol levels and help prevent the heart disease risks posed by trans fat.
These monounsaturated fats are mostly found in seeds, nuts, and oils like olive and canola oils.
Omega 3 and 6 are immensely important fatty acids that are essential to our health, purely because our bodies are incapable of producing them on their own.
In particular DHA (docosahaxaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) Omega 3 fatty acids.
They are found in fatty types of fish like salmon and sardines as well as some nuts and oils.
Fish oil supplements are a great addition to your diet if you are serious about improving your health and are recommended on a daily basis rather than obtaining the Omega 3 from fish due to the toxic contaminants found in most fish produce these days.
There are more proven benefits to health associated to this supplement than any other.
As well as having benefits for weight loss and muscle gain, it reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels, reduces joint stiffness, can improve and even prevent cancer, hyperactivity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, and also improves our ability to concentrate and think clearly.
So if you want to build muscle, lose fat, improve your fitness and athletic ability and health in any capacity, 1-3 grams of Omega 3 (DHA and EPA) should help nicely!
Another essential fatty acid is CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) found in foods like beef, eggs, milk and turkey and are also recommended to be taken as a supplement.
For those interested in fat loss (most of us), CLA improves your lean mass to body fat ratio as well as enhancing muscle growth.
It decreases fat deposition, increases metabolism and practically cuts fat, especially around the midriff.
Now who said all fats were bad!
The daddy of the macronutrients plays a crucial role in the growth and repair of everything including skin, hair, and most importantly, muscles.
It’s found in foods like poultry, fish, beef, beans, nuts and eggs.
When training, our muscles are broken down with the intent of building them back stronger than they were before.
All research shows that there is no aspect of your diet more essential to this process than protein.
So without a high protein diet, muscle growth, muscle maintenance and workout recovery will not happen as effectively as it should.
Generally speaking, people will say they want to lose weight, but in reality what they want to do is lose fat, not muscle, which pound-for-pound weighs more than fat.
Research shows that eating a high protein diet is the key dietary factor in preserving lean muscle whilst body fat is lost.
In addition to usually being low in calories, high protein foods are more filling than other macronutrients (carbs and fat) which means eating enough of it each day is key to controlling hunger and preventing overeating.
Besides being the most filling, protein is also the most thermogenic, which means that it burns the most calories whilst being digested.
Everything we eat causes calories to be burned during digestion, protein just burns significantly more.
Your metabolic rate has a great impact on how your body uses food and adapts to training.
It is essentially a measure of the amount of calories you burn every day and this number varies daily dependant on activity levels.
If you want to speed up your metabolism, avoid low calorie diets.
Yep, you read that correctly.
Because they trigger the starvation mechanism which causes you to lose water weight, some muscle and only a little fat.
In order to increase your metabolism you have to eat little and often.
The evidence shows that people who eat every two to three hours have lower body fat levels and a faster metabolism than those who eat only two or three meals per day.
It pretty much goes without saying that this is only the case if the correct types of foods, as outlined previously, are being consumed.
Also, 10% of the calories we burn each day goes on digesting and absorbing food as mentioned previously, so the more times you eat, the greater the effect.
So the longer you go without meals, the more your metabolism slows to conserve energy.
In addition, you should ensure you eat breakfast every day, as there’s a reason why it’s renowned as the most important meal of the day.
This is because your body has gone eight to 12 hours without food so your metabolism will have dropped dramatically and it needs to be refuelled correctly to set you up for the day ahead.
The bodies internal chemistry is at its most active first thing in the morning, so anything eaten at this time will be utilised to the max.
Skipping breakfast slows your metabolism and can lead to sugar cravings and long term weight gain.
It’s a fact that people who eat breakfast consumer fewer total calories during the day than those who don’t.
What you eat first thing will determine what your body wants for the rest of the day, so avoid sweet, sugary choices (obviously) and make healthy ones instead.
Starting the day with a high-protein breakfast with complex carbohydrates and good fats, helps maintain muscle mass, curb hunger, reduce abdominal fat and prevents the lethal spikes in insulin you will experience otherwise which result in increased fat stores.
As previously mentioned, the human race has survived and evolved from thousands of years, and it is only in more recent centuries we have introduced more refined, sugary and un-nutritious foods into our diets.
As we are all individual, it’s impossible to advise generically what we should eat.
So listen to your body and bare in mind our bodies are designed to break down ‘real’ whole-foods and not processed and refined foods.
If you have exercised your muscles, be aware that you will need to consume more protein for growth and repair, and if your activity levels are low, be aware you may not need to consume quite so many carbohydrates.
If you do these simple things, you will no doubt look and feel a lot healthier and your body will thank you for it.