Let the goal of your nutritional plan be optimal health and the lean body shall automatically follow.
I strongly believe in the statement above. The saying that clothes make a man doesn’t apply half as much to clothes as it does to a healthy diet. Literally, the food you eat makes you. Some scientists have even arrived at the conclusion post studies that some of the foods you eat maybe contributing to elevated aggressive behaviours in individuals.
This is a question I get asked often, especially since the last few weeks. People wished to know what to eat in order to lose their weight. But managing your weight isn’t as simple as switching the item in the menu. There are a few factors to consider.
But rest assured, as far as losing weight and maintaining your health is concerned; nutrition is not a very difficult task to handle. It’s about having a balanced diet by making the right food choices, in the right quantity and quality and then sticking to it (a little cheating is OK… just a little).
The definition of nutrition in Wikipedia is given as:
Nutrition (also called nourishment or aliment) is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary (in the form of food) to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet.
Nutritional science tries to understand how the body breaks food down (catabolism) and repairs and creates cells and tissue (anabolism) – this process of catabolism and anabolism is called as metabolism. Nutritional science also examines how the body responds to food. This reveals the secrets behind why we gain fat from food and how we can shed fat from food.
Brigham Young University states that “nutritional Science investigates the metabolic and physiological responses of the body to food and diet, including the role of nutrients in the cause, treatment, and prevention of disease.”
But in most of our minds the question is a simpler one – What must I eat to lose weight?
Well, if the answer were as simple then everyone would be lean and fat free. Wouldn’t they? Losing weight or body fat is not just about creating a list of diet foods and simply eating them. Even good things used improperly can be harmful to you.
But the task of maintaining a fat free diet is NOT that difficult or complex once you understand the basics of creating healthy diet plans. The by product shall be a lean and fit body.
So let’s begin looking at these basics:
· Why do you need proper nutrition – Simple answer, isn’t it? Energy, tissue repair and overall maintenance of our health?
· Where does it come from – the food we eat – DUH!! can’t get more obvious
· Are you eating foods that may be adversely affecting your health? – Chances are most of us are doing this.
1. Food for energy
Most of us eat food for the satisfaction of our palates first, the ritual of timely eating set by years of practise and conditioning and finally as a means of bringing a sense of togetherness with the people we dine with. I am yet to come across someone who actually looks at food as a means to an end and not the ultimate goal itself.
The primary goal of your food is to provide you with energy, read calories, while not adversely affecting your body. Any food item you consume should primarily provide you with energy to carry on the daily tasks. However, most food choices that we make today are notorious for their fat deposits and cholesterol spiking capabilities. Fast foods like burgers, pizzas and soft drinks bring along a major spike in the sugar, saturated fat and cholesterol content of the food. Yet most of us opt for them over whole foods like Sprout salads simply because the fast foods taste better and easily available – tell me I am wrong.
Have you ever noticed that when you eat foods like white rice, white breads, burgers and the like so feel full immediately but are hungry within an hour of eating it?
Now, try this – get a medium bowl of sprout salad and chicken, save the mayo. You’ll feel the difference in your energy levels and won’t feel hungry for the next 3-4 hours.
To ensure the best foods for replenishment of energy, consume foods high in complex carbohydrates like:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Chick peas
The best part about choosing complex carbohydrates is that they are already laden with dietary fibre which is an incredible tool in fat loss. Remember, as far as possible, cook the complex carbs in their actual form without breaking them down too much. This ensures that the nutrients remain as close to their natural state as possible. For example: Opt for baked potato instead of mashed potatoes. The more you mash, the easier it becomes to digest and that defeats the purpose. Do pay a little attention to how much you eat. The quality of the food is as important as the quantity of the food. The first key to success in fat loss is a calorie controlled diet.
2. Food for Tissue Repair
Again, when at the cafeteria at work, I see people passing remarks because there isn’t anything there to eat. I agree with what they have to say but my reasons are entirely different. They are saying this because the foods they see there are either the same or not great to taste. I say this because I know the food lack enough nutrients to rebuild my body. They lack PROTEIN, the primary ingredient that your body is made up of.
When your diet lacks protein, the result is a poor constitution. Another ill-effect of this situation is that the body begin to cannibalize its tissues to provide for the needs generated at other sites within the body. The same is true when it comes to lack of energy within the body.
Again, when making food choices for protein skip the fast foods and don’t say that they contain eggs and chicken. They also contain mayonnaise and processed cheese which skyrocket the total calories packed in the entire burger. When choosing proteins select from sources like:
- Poultry and poultry products – chicken, duck and eggs
- Meats – lean cut portions of lamb and beef
- Vegetarian – soy, Chick peas (all variety) and the various beans.
Animal proteins are superior to vegetarian proteins in their amino acid profile. But that doesn’t mean you cannot have a complete protein profile in your diet if you’re a vegetarian. The trick is to mix multiple protein sources that compliment each other’s protein profile. While animal proteins might be the best sources of proteins, the thing to think about is that the strongest animals in the planet on land and sea are herbivorous.
3. Adverse effects of our food choices
Let’s be honest, if you were to take a long hard look at your diet and be straight with yourself you’d find the following appearing in there more often than it should:
Vegetarian food that is over cooked – Either cooked in generous amounts of oil or mashed to an extent that the basic texture is lost.
White Rice – I haven’t seen any other kind in anybody else’s diet – even at home.
Fast foods and fried chips – they appear more often than they should in our diet. No wonder obesity is a rising concern amongst the youth and children these days.
Simple and processed carbohydrates and Trans-fat foods like chocolates, ice creams, packaged ready to eat foods and sugar rich drinks and sodas.
The only upside of the food choices we make is the ease in availability and or preparation. Apart from that it is really just a cluster of hollow calories and other content that when consumed regularly can add up to health issues including and not limited to:
- Clogged arteries resulting in cardiac trouble
- Possible causes of joint problems
- The worst one, constipation or bowel related issues. This gives rise to another set of health issues
The best remedy is to for wholesome food groups when formulating your diet plans. Foods like unprocessed grains and cereals, lentils, pasture raised meats and fresh fish preferably not raised in a fish farm would be the ideal choice of food for a healthier and fitter you.
When embarking on a journey of lifelong fitness and health, proper nutrition will help you win half the battle. Exercise and adequate rest form the other half.