Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Weight Loss begins in the Kitchen

Posted in dining healthy, food, Health by commorancy on May 10, 2019

Many people are under the mistaken impression that you need a gym membership to lose weight. While it’s great that gyms may motivate you to improve your health, it may not help you lose weight. This article = ~19 minute read. Grab a coffee and let’s explore.

Preface

Before I begin this article, I just want to state that I’m not a fitness, medical or diet professional. I have experience with this subject due to my own reading and research on this topic. I’ve also had personal life experiences with weight loss and weight gain several times throughout my life. I’ve definitely come to find what it takes to manage weight properly (although, not always perfectly… we’re human, after all). This article is meant to be informative. It is not intended as professional advice in any form. If you need professional advice for your specific body situation, you should seek the help and advice of a medical or dietary professional who can properly assess your personal situation and weight loss goals.

The Kitchen Part I

Many people mistakenly believe that you need to run, or cycle or lift weights to lose weight. You don’t. Weight loss is not about how much weight you lift or how many miles you’ve cycled, it’s about a healthy relationship with food based on your current energy requirements. That starts in the kitchen.

The body wants to lose weight. It’s the way it was designed. Food replenishes (and gains) that weight if eaten to ‘excess’. The difficulty in knowing how much is considered ‘excess’. This is the key to successful weight loss. Exercise is for fitness. Food is for weight management. The kitchen is where the food is, not the gym.

Resting Metabolism

Most people are only active for short periods of time throughout the day. For example, that might be an hour at the gym or 30 minutes on the treadmill or bike… and so on. The rest of the 23.5 hours of the day, you might be sitting at a desk, sleeping or possibly walking only occasionally. Because the majority of that 24 hours is in a resting metabolic state, you need to eat to cover the resting metabolic requirements, not the small amount of active time requirements.

A good rule of thumb is the 2000 calorie a day diet as “recommended”. However, even this diet may provide more calories than your resting metabolism needs.

If you need to assess your resting metabolic rate (RMR), you should enlist a local diet professional to help you pin it down. There are tests where you sit and breathe for about 20 minutes. During that 20 minutes, the test assesses your oxygen levels and how many calories you burn. That can be extrapolated to an hour, then 24 hours. This gives you a very good baseline on exactly how many calories you need to eat to cover your daily requirements. If you add in exercise for 30 minutes, you can modify the calories of your RMR.

As an example of an RMR, I had mine tested at 24 Hour Fitness as part of a membership. My RMR came back at 1700 calories per day… 300 under the suggested 2000 calories per day. This means that were I to follow the 2000 calorie per day suggestion, I might continue to gain weight. This meant adjusting my diet to eat less than 1700 per day to create a calorie deficit (on days when I didn’t work out). I might be able to adjust my caloric intake upwards a little 100-200 calories if I spent time in the gym.

To put that in perspective, that would be adding an extra piece of bread or two, a piece of fruit or two or a small cookie or two. You can see that’s not a lot of extra food. Even then, I would want to eat these with a meal, not before or after the meal or as a snack.

The Exercise Con

Too many people mistakenly assume that, “If I add some ‘cardio’ to my day, I can eat what I want”. This is not true. In fact, you should continue eating normally even if you do add some measure of exercise into your day… particularly if you want to lose weight. Adding more food in an attempt to compensate for that small amount of exercise is likely to put on more pounds than take them off.

As a case in point, I once had a boss who biked into the office every day. From his house to the office was at least 20 minutes of cycling. In total, that would be 40 minutes of bicycling every weekday five days a week. In the 10 years that I worked for this company, he never dropped a single pound… and I never got the reason why until I realized that weight loss begins in the kitchen, not on a bike. In fact, the company bought us snacks including Popcicles (his favorite), nuts, coffee, cereal and milk. The kitchen was well stocked. This meant he always ate calories in excess if he were trying to drop the weight.

While exercise is great at getting and keeping the body’s systems fit, it might not help you lose weight unless you take steps to make weight loss a reality.

The Kitchen Part II

It’s true that weight loss begins in the kitchen, not in the gym. Weight loss is about what you eat, not how often you use a treadmill. The treadmill is great at cardio and raising your heart rate, but raising the heart rate is not about weight loss, it’s about fitness. There’s a distinct difference between fitness and weight loss. Yes, they go hand in hand, but they are separate distinct concepts requiring separate critical understanding.

To lose weight is all about arriving at a food lifestyle that helps aid you in your weight goals. For example, it’s about creating a food lifestyle goal such as eating only meals at meal times. Snacking is off the table, except only occasionally and only if you can’t make a meal.

Dietary Restrictions

I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss this aspect of a food lifestyle. Some medical conditions require eating only specific foods and sometimes at specific times of the day… particularly if you have diabetes. In the case of diabetes, you will need to keep your blood sugar in check. This means eating the right foods in the right amount to manage that.

Again, even this situation begins in the kitchen and it requires a food lifestyle change. Hopping on a treadmill won’t necessarily manage blood sugar levels (other than perhaps dipping blood sugar after exercise). In the case of diabetes, you should follow the advice of your medical professional in terms of frequency of eating.

Because diabetes can be difficult to manage at times, if you’re intent on weight loss, you should seek the counsel of not only your doctor, but ask your doctor to recommend a dietician who is knowledgeable about diabetes. This dietician can then work with your weight loss goals and still allow you to manage your diabetes properly. In the case of this (or any other weight loss article), you should disregard any Internet advice and follow the advice of a professional who is versed in diabetes, specifically your type.

Healthy Adults

With that said, this article is intended towards adults who do not have extenuating medical conditions that might make weight loss difficult. Even without diabetes or other medical conditions, we should all seek to moderate foods in our diet… including artificial products, refined sugars, white processed flours, processed cheese food and processed meats. We should seek natural, whole foods that are as close to nature as possible. I’ll talk more about this in the next section.

I’m the kind of person that if I have a food in the house, I’ll eat it. For me, that means not bringing home anything I don’t want to eat, such as candy. That means rarely bringing home diary free ice cream, potato chips, cheese dips, candy bars and so on. Because I’m somewhat lactose intolerant, I steer clear of milk, sour cream, cream cheese, extremely soft cheeses, yogurt or anything that contains a boatload of lactose. Milk has a secondary problem for me as well and that problem is casein. Casein is a milk protein that causes allergies in some individuals. For me, milk is a double-whammy of lactose and casein.

To avoid this, I choose alternatives such as non-diary creamer instead of milk when making foods that require milk. Non-dairy creamer is artificial, so I limit my use of this ingredient. But, when I need milk in certain recipes, non-diary creamer is my goto choice because it doesn’t trigger me with lactose and casein. When I make bread, for example, I use non-diary creamer instead of non-fat dry milk powder. For cereal, when I rarely eat it, I choose almond milk instead of non-dairy creamer. It just tastes better on cereal. However, I rarely eat cereal.. and even then, the only cereal I like is Crispix, primarily because it’s not like eating a bowl of straight-up sugar and it stays crispy in milk.

Whole Foods vs Processed Foods

Many people have claimed that processed foods may slow weight loss progress. I can disprove that. I occasionally eat processed foods (i.e., hot dogs, Velveeta cheese, Spam) and I’m still on the road to my weight loss goals. Eating these foods may slow down the weight loss process slightly, but it won’t outright stop the weight loss so long as you keep your caloric intake below your RMR.

What’s more important isn’t processed or whole foods, but calorie dense foods. For example, vegetables and fruits are far less calorie dense than, say, pound cake or brownies. This means you must eat more vegetables and fruits to eat an equivalent amount of calories in a piece of pound cake. For this reason, calorie dense foods should be considered a ‘once in a while’ treat. Another calorie dense food is beer, wine and spirits. Drinking a glass of wine adds a lot of calories to your diet. Think of a glass of wine the same as a sugary can of Coke. It’s basically empty calories. Alcoholic drinks consist mostly of water with, in the case of wine, alcohol and fruit sugars. You don’t get any nutritional benefits from Wine, but you might get limited health benefits from the alcohol due to its blood thinning capabilities.

Treats

You sometimes can’t get away from social situations with food and drink. This means that when you’re out and about at a restaurant or at a party, you might be required to indulge in foods and drinks which aren’t part of your lifestyle. You don’t really need to worry about this interfering with your weight loss goals as long as it’s a ‘once in a while’ situation. At a social situation, you can choose to abstain from eating these foods outright. However, abstinence may be seen by the host as displeasure with the food choices. In other words, you might be judged negatively for not eating the foods or drinking the drinks. If you know you’re going to have a problem in a specific social situation, it’s best to stay away rather than showing up and being a picky eater.

In these cases, you have two options. Attempt to avoid such social situations or choose to lightly indulge in the foods offered. Basically taste them and carry around the remaining food on a plate. You can even throw away the plate after a few minutes and grab something new. If you have a third option where the host provides you the choice of foods you can eat, then take advantage. However, few party hosts are that obliging, particularly if you’re taking a client out to dinner or to a company party. Be prepared to find something at the party to snack on. Or, alternatively, eat your meal immediately before the party and politely explain you’ve just eaten dinner.

You don’t need to eat a meal there, but you can pick whatever you find is the most healthy option. Sometimes they offer deserts with fresh fruits. Sometimes they offer hard cheeses. These are good options to help you retain your food lifestyle. Though, you can mark such social occasions as ‘treat day’. I’ll talk about ‘treat day’ a bit later.

Food Lifestyle

I know I’ve mentioned this term several times in this article and I think it’s about time that I define it properly. A food lifestyle is about changing your habit with food on an ongoing basis. The word ‘diet’ has a long held the connotation of being ‘temporary’. You diet, you lose weight, you go off the diet. You can’t do that and maintain a healthy weight.

To maintain a consistent healthy weight, you need to change your food choices on a permanent basis. This is the act of creating a continuous food lifestyle. A continuous food lifestyle is the goal if you want lasting weight loss, including weight maintenance.

You can’t go ‘on a diet’ and then later ‘go off the diet’. That’s a recipe for weight loss failure and is the key to Yo-Yo dieting. No. You want lasting change for the rest of your life. This means making food choices that you are willing to live with day in and out, week in and out and year in and out. You need to be able to live your food choices.

This also means a balanced approach to food. This means choosing to make home cooked meals over eating out. This means buying fresh whole foods to cook those meals.

If you’re used to eating out at McDonald’s weekly and eating out regularly throughout the week, making home cooked meals may initially be somewhat of a shock. It takes time to cook meals, but with the proper tools, you can cook meals at home in similar amounts of time as McDonald’s takes to prepare your meals.

For example, I can make a homemade hamburger and fries meal at home in as little as 15 minutes. It takes perhaps a little longer than it takes McDonald’s to serve a meal, but my meal means I can choose my ingredient choices. For example, I prefer actual Swiss cheese on my burgers. Few fast food restaurants offer that choice. If I want to use Avocado oil mayo on my burger, I’ve got that choice also. If I want Sriracha, it’s right there. For example, where will you find a burger made with Romaine lettuce and heirloom tomatoes? These combinations just don’t exist at fast food restaurants.

Making your meals at home means you can choose the ingredients that you like, that you will eat and that are hand-selected by you.

Homemade Meals versus From Scratch

Many people think that a home cooked meal signifies that it was made from scratch. In fact, that’s not necessary. For example, hamburger buns are a common thing we buy at the grocery store rather than making them ourselves. I’ve personally made hamburger buns myself and I prefer my home made versions, but it’s a time consuming process waiting for the bread to rise and then baking them.

You can easily make meals at home from packaged foods rather than making everything yourself. Obviously, you’re not going to go butcher a cow just to get a specific cut of meat. You’re going to visit a butcher counter and pick from those in the counter. That’s a time saving example.

Like the bread and steak examples, you can also make other foods from mixes or boxes. You don’t need to spend time doing everything from scratch. Yes, there is a satisfaction to making everything from scratch, but unless you have excessive amounts of time to kill performing these steps, making boxed or bagged mixes is perfectly acceptable time saving approaches to making home made meals.

You can even save yourself kitchen time by using a slow cooker or a pressure cooker. These are other cooking alternatives to getting the job done with the least amount of your time. You just need to find these time saving approaches. For example, using the microwave to grill hamburgers or steaks using specially designed microwave grills. These can be tremendous time savers.

Treat Day

As you approach a new food lifestyle, you’ll want to include a full treat day once a month. This day is the day where you can eat things not normally on your regularly scheduled food lifestyle. These might include eating out at your favorite restaurant, staying home and eating ice cream and/or popcorn in front of a movie. Perhaps you like drinking Coke or Pepsi or making an ice cream float out of these. Or, maybe it’s eating birthday cake.

These are treats you let yourself have once per month. You choose the day and then stick to it only on that day. These days are great days for social events, going to parties or hanging out with friends at a bar. This allows you to eat whatever you want and then fall right back onto your food lifestyle the following day. It’s a day where you don’t have to worry about what you’re eating. However, it’s always prudent to moderate your food intake no matter where you are. Being overindulgent in anything, particularly food, is never a good idea. You don’t want to wake up sick from eating too much food.

This day is actually important to your body. It’s a way to get your body out of its metabolism “comfort zone” and, for a day, make it change how it works. This breaks the monotony of eating similar foods day after day and aids your metabolism achieving your weight loss goals. Sometimes, the metabolism needs a little kick in the pants. That’s why treat day is important.

You don’t have to do a treat day every month if you don’t feel like it. Also, if you need to move your treat day to a different day, that’s also fine. However, having it on the same day makes it easier to manage and know when it is. I always preferred having treat day on a Friday as it was always like a tiny celebration.

You should also include a mini-treat snack once a week. This is a time when you can have a single treat, like a small sundae, a small cookie, a piece of chocolate, a small piece of cake or a dessert after your meal at a restaurant. You just want to tickle these taste bud receptors so you don’t get tired of your food lifestyle. These are to break the monotony of not having a sweet food at your meal. You don’t want to do these often, but you do want to do them occasionally to allow for a piece of chocolate or candy bar or glass of wine. We all need to indulge occasionally.

This system allows you to indulge in your favorite snack foods to prevent you from rejecting your chosen food lifestyle outright, forcing you back to a weight gain diet. You want to be able to treat yourself every now and then. The reason most “diets” fail is because they deprive you of the foods you love. A mini-treat prevents that deprivation problem.

What I have found is that even though I do have a treat available, I don’t always do it. Some days I just don’t want sweets or other treats. Occasionally, I do want them and that’s when I include a single treat during a day or I add it to my chosen treat day. If your monthly treat day is coming up in a few days, just hold on until then and have your snack then.

Note that fresh fruit and fresh veggies don’t count as ‘treats’. You can include these in your food lifestyle. Treats are defined as calorie dense processed foods such as wine, beer, spirits or decadent desserts such as a brownie with ice cream, cake or a candy bar. Yes, even a protein bar, a breakfast bar, a protein shake and even cereal should be considered ‘treats’. Basically, anything that is calorie and sugar dense should be considered a ‘treat’. The rule is, if it’s sugary and/or overly fatty, then it’s considered a treat.

Peanut Butter (or any nut butters)

Peanut butter is an odd food that seems like it should fall under being a ‘treat’. Depending on which version you buy, it might or might not.

The one thing I will say about peanut butter is to moderate no matter which version you buy. It’s a calorie dense food that’s reasonably fatty. If you buy commercially produced “smooth” peanut butters, these contain sugar. These peanut butters should be considered a treat.

If you buy All Natural (i.e., requires stirring), these are not considered as a treat. The difference between the commercial and all natural versions is additives. Commercial peanut butters insert additives to make it ‘smooth’ and to not separate. These additives, like sugar, make this version of peanut butter into a treat.

All natural peanut butters only have peanuts, peanut oil and possibly salt. These are the definition of whole foods. This type of peanut butter isn’t considered a treat, but peanut butter should always be used in moderation. For example, if you can buy freshly ground peanut butter from Whole Foods, this is actually the best type of peanut butter to get.

If you make a PB&J sandwich, this is definitely a treat no matter which peanut butter you choose. Jelly, jam and preserves are definitely considered a treat food because of the excessive amounts of sugar and because of its processed nature.

How many times removed from nature?

Eating natural foods is the goal of a food lifestyle. These are typically whole raw, steamed or cooked foods. You want to eat foods that are as close to nature as possible. For example, eating a raw Romaine lettuce leaf is as close as you can get to a natural food as it exists in nature. Once you process a food, such as turning a raw fruit into preserves, that’s considered to be removed from nature several times. Once to cook it down into a slurry, once to add in sugar and other additives and once to can it.

Bread is a food twice removed from nature. It begins as a whole grain which is pulverized and processed into a powder (once removed). Then that powder is mixed into water to make dough and then baked into bread (twice removed). Once something has been removed from nature more than once, it’s considered processed. Processed foods are not the goal of a healthy weight loss lifestyle. However, bread has a place where jam and preserves don’t.

Bread is a form of fiber and fiber aids in digestion and slows the conversion of sugar in the blood stream. Unfortunately, jams, preserves and jellies have removed all fiber from the fruit, which leaves pretty much jellied sugar. Because sugar is already readily abundant in nearly every food, there’s no need to add extra sugar in the form of jelly, jam or preserves. Yes, they taste good, but they should be considered a treat.

The point is that you need to count how many times a food has been removed from nature to determine if it works towards your weight loss goals. If it’s been removed from nature more than twice, you should rethink that food choice. This goes hand-in-hand with…

Fats, Carbs and Protein

The intake of calories comes from fat, carbohydrates and proteins.

Fat (aka lipid) is fatty acid of any type such as peanut oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, rapeseed oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, avocado oil, olive oil and so on. It also includes fats in meats. This category also includes steroids and waxes.

Carbohydrates are any form of sugar including both simple sugars and complex sugars. Simple sugars (two molecule) include glucose, galactose (not generally found as a food ingredient) and fructose (aka levose or levulose). Complex sugars (more than two molecules) include lactose (milk sugar), sucrose (table sugar), sucralose (artificially manufactured), dextrose and maltose. These types of simple and complex sugars can be recognized by the ‘ose’ at the end of the name. Starches are also a form of even longer chained sugar molecules. All sugars and starches reduce to glucose, fructose or galactose in the blood stream. For sugars to be reduced in the body, chemical reactions break the two or more molecule chains into simple sugar molecules for absorption by the body. The body can’t absorb complex sugars, only simple sugars.

There are also sugar alcohols including but not limited to erythritol, maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol and inositol. You can identify most sugar alcohols by the distinctive ‘ol’ at the end the name, with the exception of the peculiarly named sugar alcohol, isomalt. Sugar alcohols are curious things. While they can sweeten the food they are in (to a lesser degree than sucrose), they can also add some odd properties. One of these properties is a cooling sensation in the mouth.

Sugar alcohols are used in some cough drops and mints to enhance the mint cooling sensation. Another side effect of sugar alcohols is diarrhea, bloating and loose stools when eaten in sufficient quantity. The difficulty with sugar alcohols is that some people are more sensitive to these compounds than others. It’s best to avoid foods containing sugar alcohols simply to avoid unnecessary trips to the bathroom. It is worth noting that many foods labeled ‘sugar free’ actually contain sugar alcohols in replacement of the ‘ose’ type sugars. The FDA has granted food manufacturers the right to label a food as ‘sugar free’ when it only contains a sugar alcohol. Don’t fall for the ‘sugar free’ label. If you’re watching your sugar intake, sugar alcohols count as sugars.

Other alternative sweeteners include fructooligosaccharides or FOS. This sweetener is derived from the blue Agave plant as well as chicory, leeks, bananas, onions and a few other plants. This sweetener contains multiple molecules of sugar and must be broken down by the body’s chemical processes. This sweetener is not often used in the US, but may be found in some food preparations, including agave based sweeteners. It is a commonly used sweetener in Japan.

Simply for completion, sugars are found in most vegetables and fruits in varying quantities and in varying forms. Don’t get trapped into thinking you’re not eating sugars when eating fruits and vegetables. In fact, fruits can raise blood sugar levels equivalently to candies when eating particularly sweet fruits.

Stevia is short for stevia rebaudiana. While this compound is considered a sweetener, it is not a sugar at all. Instead, it’s actually a plant sterol (aka plant steroid). As a result, the use of Stevia does not raise blood sugar levels. This means it is safe to use as a sweetener by diabetics. However, because it is a type of plant steroid, it may interact with the body’s steroid receptors in other unexpected ways. There is some concern that Stevia may negatively interact with the kidneys, the nervous system and other body functions. It may even interfere with digestion. Toxicity studies assessing side effects around this sweetener are still being determined. As with any foods, you’ll want to assess your own effects after consuming it.

Proteins are any form of branched-chain amino acid. Meats, legumes and eggs all contain chained amino acids. An example amino acid type would be L-glutathione, L-arginine or Leucine are building blocks of all meat, legumes and eggs. Though, legumes contain both amino acids and carbohydrates. Eggs and meat do not contain carbs, but may contain fats. Amino acids are responsible for building muscle in the human body and are responsible for many other building activities within the body.

These three macronutrient types (fat, protein and carbs) form all of the foods in the world. There are also micronutrients within foods. These micronutrient types include the vitamins A, B, C, D, E as well as minerals. All vitamins and minerals are contained in various vegetables including but not limited to green leafy vegetables, beets and carrots as well as minerals (i.e., iron) in meats. Together, the macro-nutrients and the micro-nutrients combine to make up the human food diet.

Man Made vs Natural Food

Above, I discussed how far removed a food was from nature. This is an extension of that discussion. If a food is natural and whole, by its very definition, it is natural. A food made by a human is not natural. Let’s understand natural versus man made in this context.

Corn on the cob is a whole natural food. A tortilla (made from ground corn) is a man made food.

Whole wheat kernels are a whole natural food. Bread (made from ground whole wheat kernels) is a man made food.

Sugar cane is a whole natural food. White table sugar (made from sugar cane) is a man made food.

By extension, further foods can be made from some of the above man made foods. For example, white table sugar is the ingredient to make most confections including chocolate bars, candy bars, cake and even bread.

If a food is man made, it is by its very nature, not natural. If you’re in the store shopping and you’re trying to determine if a food is “natural”, it’s easy to determine. If it’s a box on a shelf, it’s man made. If it’s sitting on the produce aisle in its raw form, it’s natural.

Natural Foods

All of the plant produce products on the supermarket produce aisle are natural. The produce industry further sub-categorizes its produce into “conventional” or “organic”. These labels mean various things to various people. However, produce with the “conventional” label typically means that the plant was grown using standard farming practices, including the use of standard chemical (sometimes toxic) pesticides. The produce may be further dressed using waxes and other “beautifying” techniques to make them pretty for store displays.

Produce labeled “organic” typically means the plant was grown using all natural methods of growth, many times without using pesticides or hormones or fertilizer at all. If a pesticide is used on an “organic” labeled product, it is typically of a non-toxic variety (i.e., vinegar or lemon juice concentrate or similar type edible and easily washable, non-toxic pesticide). This produce is not “dressed” to look pretty. You’ll find that “organic” produce may be misshapen, discolored, smaller, more ripe and may go bad faster. The size difference may mean the lack of using hormones or using “organic” fertilizer (i.e., compost).

The difficulty with these labels is that who really polices them? When you get to the supermarket and see the “organic” label and its corresponding higher price tag, is it really pesticide free? Is it really “organic”? You don’t really know. For this reason, I typically opt for produce shopping by price rather than labels. The only time I shop by label is “Grown in the USA” or “Grown in California”.

When something is “Grown in Mexico” or “Grown in Guatemala”, you really don’t know what pesticides were used. In fact, because it’s grown outside the U.S., many U.S. banned pesticides are used on this imported produce. Additionally, many of the workers who harvest these fruits and vegetables in these countries may actually be sprayed by these toxic pesticide chemicals while still in the field harvesting. As a result of these farming practices, I typically prefer to steer clear of these imported fruits and vegetables and I choose to buy produce “Grown in the USA” or “Grown in California”… particularly thin-skinned root vegetables (i.e., carrots, beets) as well as celery, lettuce and tomatoes. Thicker skinned vegetables, like avocados, I might opt for Mexico produce, but only if they’re the right kind and the right price. If locally grown vegetables are available, I always opt for these.

The Kitchen Part III

As we return to the kitchen with our newfound knowledge, our food lifestyle should consist of whole real foods more often than man-made foods. Clearly, bread is a good thing and can be eaten in moderation, even though it is a man-made food. Rice, on the other hand, is a whole real food. Yes, its hull is removed and each grain is dried, but that’s about the extent to which it is modified, unlike grains of wheat.

Rice flour is available just as is wheat flour, but rice flour is less used to make baked goods than is wheat flour. The point is, bread has a place in the diet. However, so does rice. Both bread and rice are carbs. As a result, you want to treat them as the carbs portion of your plate.

When making meals, you want about equal parts fat, protein and carbs or 33% fat, 33% protein and 33% carbs dividing up your plate. Some say you should have less protein than fat or carbs, but that should be based on how your body responds to these macronutrients. If you can’t seem to lose weight, you might want to reduce your fat and carb intake a little, which will increase your protein intake.

There’s a complex relationship in the body between these three macronutrients. Each play off the other to help build muscle or increase fat. The point is, calories are the measure of how much energy you are expending. The macronutrients (which ultimately make up your calories), see to it that you gain or lose weight based on the number of calories you intake versus what you expend.

The kitchen is the place to make weight loss a reality via what you buy, what foods you make and how much you consume. You can add exercise in to help make your body fit and expend a bit more energy. However, if you do add in exercise, don’t get caught by the exercise trap thinking you can eat a lot more simply because you ran on a treadmill for 20 minutes. It doesn’t work that way. 20-30 minutes of exercise might allow you to eat one more piece of bread than you otherwise could. A single piece of bread is not very much food and definitely doesn’t equate to the calories in a candy bar or a pint of ice cream.

The point is, choose your calories carefully. Eat when it’s appropriate. Treat yourself occasionally. Eat in moderation. Don’t be suckered in by the exercise con that leads you to believe you can eat whatever you want simply because you took a 30 minute walk.

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Brooke Bates: Dieting failure?

Posted in Health, health and beauty by commorancy on May 31, 2010

I had recently watched a documentary that discussed Brooke Bates. At the time, she was 12 years old when she had liposuction to remove 35 pounds of fat. She was 220 before the surgery. After the liposuction, she began to gain the weight back and opted for lap band surgery to help her slow food consumption. The one thing that I didn’t see discussed was proper food counseling for Brooke or her parents. It may have happened, but it wasn’t discussed in this film. While dieting is part of the answer, the whole answer is in getting to the bottom of the eating and ultimately teaching Brooke (and people like her) about food.

Exercise alone is not enough to prevent weight gain. Why? It’s actually simple, more calories in than expended. The FDA and food industry conspire to keep us fat. Perhaps not intentionally, but then again who knows. The issue, though is that we see commercials showing us ‘healthy portions’. Yet the packages contain 3, 4 or 5 servings. But, the package appears as though it’s one serving. In fact, much of the front of the packaging is designed to mislead you into believing the package contains only one portion. Worse, though, is that many packages are extremely perishable once opened. So, you eat it or toss it. This perishable nature of the foods leads us to eat the whole package to keep from throwing anything away. Bad move, calorically. So, these are two strikes against the food industry… first, misleading advertising practices and second, packaging foods to intentionally spoil rapidly once opened.

The reality, though, is that restaurant portions are not healthy portions. If you visit any restaurant, the portion size is usually 900-1200 calories just for a meal. One meal. Multiply that times 3 + snacks. That’s 2700-3600 calories a day in meals alone (assuming 3 similar sized meals). Add snacks and you’re likely well over 4000 calories! That’s over twice the recommended calories for an adult (let alone for a child). Prepackaged food portions don’t really fare much better if you’re not looking at Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine or other intentionally designed lower calorie meals. For example, Marie Calendar’s and Stouffer’s regular meals are exceedingly high in calories per portion.

Looking at FDA’s recommendations of at most 2000 calories a day, I’d suggest with our latest sedentary lifestyles, it needs to be lower than that. Perhaps 1500-1700 calories a day just to maintain… and then even less to lose weight without adding substantial exercise.

There is no way to maintain weight, let alone lose fat, other than to calorie restrict. And, restrict we must. That said, the food and medical industry makes that exceedingly difficult. Not only do restaurants make it difficult, but so do prepackaged foods. For kids, it’s even more difficult because of school cafeteria food and vending machines. The foods they are serving are very calorically dense and processed. That is, these foods contain far more calories than these children should be eating in a single meal. But, this information is not being taught to children. Children see the portion sizes the cafeteria offers and the knowledge is implicitly taught that this is how you’re supposed to eat and these are the foods you are supposed to eat. Sorry, but pizza, tater tots and chicken nuggets do not make for healthy meals. These are meals that should be offered as a treat, a birthday dinner or other special occasion. These are not the types of foods that need to be served every day. Yet, here we are. Children need fresh, not frozen reheated foods.

Worse, our doctors tell us to lose weight. Yet, the medical industry tells is we are unhealthy when we do calorie restrict. How is that? You want us to lose weight, yet when we do we are eating unhealthy? That doesn’t add up. The diet that McDonald’s is serving is healthier than a calorie restricted diet that helps us lose fat? These are all mixed signals. Advertisers show us and tell us one thing. The medical industry tells us another. Our doctors tell us something else. Worse, no one really helps us. We’re actually left to fend for ourselves on finding our way. Because no one can agree, most people just naturally assume that what the restaurants and packages say is the truth. Hence, we are obese because of misinformation, lack of proper information and the need for convenience. After all, it’s far easier (and cheaper in many cases) to drive through McDonald’s and pick up a meal than it is to make something from scratch.

Anyway, as far as Brooke Bates, was liposuction and then inserting a lap-band the answer for Brooke? Clearly both she and her parents thought so. What does that mean for the rest of Brooke’s life? She has still not been taught the proper information about foods. With proper food counseling and teaching proper nutrition, teaching about calories and combining that with testing resting metabolic rate, a diet could have been devised to help Brooke eat the things she likes (in much smaller quantities) and still have the body she wanted. After all, if you want to lose the weight, you have to put your mind to that goal. Not for just a day, not for a week, or a month, but for the rest of your life. Dieting isn’t as much about restricting foods as it is rethinking your outlook on foods so that food consumption becomes a lifestyle for the rest of your life. Dieting isn’t temporary. It’s a permanent way of thinking about food that must start first with rational thought and then put into action through proper food consumption. Knowledge is the key and that’s where a successful healthy food lifestyle must start.

Eat To Live or Live to Eat?

Posted in Health by commorancy on January 14, 2010

If you’ve set your New Year’s resolutions to embrace fat loss, you’re probably asking yourself this question.  Or, further, you might be asking yourself what does this question mean?  The answer is pretty straight forward.  Do you eat food to survive or do you live to eat food?  The answer may surprise you, but you have to be willing to take a hard look at yourself to uncover the answer.  Let’s explore.

Trust

In America, food is very abundant and in a lot of cases, very cheap.  From fast food that’s 99 cents for a meal to expensive dine-in meals.  It’s your choice how you wish to dine.  The main difference between cheap and expensive food is in where the food originated and how or if it’s processed.  For example, foods that come from organic farms or from farms that don’t use hormones on their livestock may be better for you than those foods that do use these chemicals (depending on the farm).  Foods not refined are also better for you.  The one question you need to ask yourself is, “How was the food produced?”  The only answer that I can offer here is to tell you to buy foods from sources that you trust.

Can you trust Safeway?  Can you trust Lucky or Albertson’s?  Can you trust the corner grocer?  Can you trust Campbell’s soup or Kellogg’s Cornflakes?  Only you can determine which stores and which brands you trust.

There are many problems when purchasing from chain grocers.  They buy from many farmers and manufacturers in such bulk that it’s difficult for them to always offer you healthy choices in foods.  So, you may need to opt for more local grocer choices. If you purchase from local farms, you may find a lot more information on how the food was raised.  Once you establish your immediate trusts, you can then find the foods that work for your dietary needs.  Note, though, that trusts change over time.  Brands get acquired or disappear from the shelves, formulations change, etc.  So, even when you’ve had a trust with a specific brand or grocer, you should re-evaluate that trust from time to time to ensure the food is living up to your quality expectations.

Does all of this really matter?

That depends on you.  If you think it matters, then it matters.  Once it does matter, then you need to seek food choices that fit your needs.  The less picky you are, the more choices you have when shopping.  But, you may also be compromising your health by being less picky.  Also, if you have health issues that must be addressed by using specific foods, food choices do matter.

Five Star Dining

Let’s start by examining the expensive dining options first.  If you choose to dine at a 5 star restaurant, along with your excessively large bill, you may find that your food seems more fresh and tasty.  You may be correct in that assessment.  Generally, 5 star restaurants buy foods from the best quality growers and grocers.  In some cases, the chefs may even personally hand pick the meats and produce they want to use.  With lesser quality restaurants, the foods may come from a commissary (a centralized store distribution facility for that restaurant chain) or from a food distribution service like Sysco.  Where the 5 star restaurant is looking for grade A+ ingredients, lesser star restaurants may opt for grade C or even D foods (because they cost less).  Depending on the type of lesser restaurant, they may even serve you pre-prepared canned foods (like Pace Picante sauce). So, what you may be served in a 2 or 3 star restaurant may be no better than what you can buy and serve yourself from Safeway.  In some cases, it may be worse.

Secondarily, when you eat at a 5 star restaurant, you should find that each and every food is fresh made from scratch.  In fact, most of these level restaurants make your food immediately when you order.  So, there’s nothing pre-prepared.  It’s all made fresh (other than the prep work to cut up veggies earlier that day).  Even the deserts are prepared and baked fresh (or should be).  That’s the difference between Chili’s (a 3 star Bistro) and a 5 star restaurant.

Does 5 star dining make the food healthier?  Not necessarily.  True, the food should be made fresh.  True, the food is probably grade A+, but that doesn’t lessen the caloric value of the food.  In fact, many 5 star restaurants prefer rich foods with a high fat content (creams, butters and oils) because they make food taste more luxurious.  So, even though you may be consuming fresh foods prepared from fresh ingredients, you are not likely eating to lose weight.  One thing, though, that you will find in 5 star restaurants are smaller portion sizes.  Where Chili’s might overload your plate with a ton of food, you may find a 5 star restaurant serving your dinner in a small portion in the center of a big plate.  Yes, it’s very pretty and presentation is a big deal in a 5 star place, but the size doesn’t necessarily lessen the amount of calories in the meal.  If you’re concerned with calories, you should always ask before you dine (preferably on the phone before making a reservation).

Commitment

In order to make fat loss a reality, you have to both want to lose fat and commit yourself to change.  Commitment is the key.  With so many food choices out there and a lot of pressure to eat tons of food (especially by friends, relatives and co-workers.. not to mention the huge portions in restaurants), you need to distance yourself from that influence.  That means you need to consider creating your own foods from scratch in the portions that fit your needs.  You can opt to use pre-prepared meals that are frozen or even foods that come from Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine or Nutrisystems.  However, you can certainly lose the fat without the need for any specialty meals.  Let’s explore fat loss clinics…

Commercial Fat Loss Organizations

Companies like Jenny Craig, NutriSystems and Weight Watchers are good at what they do.  The trouble with these organizations isn’t that they help you to lose weight.  No. They definitely help you shed the pounds.  The trouble is, how do you keep the weight off once you leave their program?  None of these organizations offer proper weight management techniques after you depart.  They hook you into their ‘system’ using their packaged foods.  After you leave, they make it reasonably difficult to use external foods that are not part of their program. This is unfortunate, but it’s also a way for these systems to entice you back only to spend more money. Remember, these are commercial outfits in it to make money.  So, their goal is to get you hooked onto their program and then keep you coming back to spend more and more money.  As long as you are willing to do this, you can keep the weight off.

When using their food offerings, they use points systems or exchanges.  That’s great, as long as you are eating foods where you can easily determine those numbers.  If you start eating whole real foods from the store or a restaurant, you may not easily be able to determine points.  So, you’re stuck.  When you can’t determine the values, you don’t.  Because you can’t, you can’t easily determine how much of it you should be eating.  You then slip back into eating ‘real food’. So, it ends up in a vicious cycle that leads to fat gain.  This is the cycle that you want to avoid.  You need to understand foods at a more basic level that can be applied to any meal, not just those meals created by Jenny Craig.

Of course, this is not meant to berate these programs.  They are good at what they do.  If you have the means and are willing to stick with their programs, then you can lose the weight and keep it off.  But, you also need to determine a way to ween yourself from their program and use home made foods as a substitute or even meals at a restaurant and still keep the weight off.  How do you do that?

Knowledge

You need to empower yourself by understanding foods, understand how they act on the body and understand how to easily identify healthier foods from unhealthy foods.  So, what exactly does ‘healthy food’ mean?  That’s a really good question, let’s explore…

Healthy Foods

What is a healthy food?  We hear the term ‘healthy foods’ all the time.  As an example, a study has said that drinking Welch’s grape juice is healthy for you because the dark purple juice is now classed as an antioxidant.  So, there are now claims you need to drink more.  But, is grape juice really that healthy?  Antioxidants may be important to help cleanse the body of toxins, but grape juice is also concentrated and processed. Anything that is processed is not as healthy as the whole real thing.  For example, eating dark red table grapes provides the same antioxidant properties as drinking concentrated grape juice.  Additionally, eating the whole fruit provides you with fiber.  Note, however, that fruit is primarily sugar (fructose and sucrose) and fiber.  Processed juice is devoid of fiber, so the sugar in juice is digested almost immediately. Eating table grapes requires less immediate insulin release due to the time it takes to process the sugar out of the fiber.  Drinking grape juice, on the other hand, is akin to drinking a soft drink.  Granted, the soft drink has no antioxidant properties, but the sugar high is the same drinking both drinks.

Secondarily, is all grape juice created equal?  This goes back to the issue of trust.  Some juices are sweetened only with the juice from the fruit.  Others add additional sugars or sweeten with concentrated mixtures of sugars from the fruit.  So, they might extract a juice concentrated version and then extract a second version that’s a concentrated sweetener version.  They then mix the juice concentrate version with the sugar version to make the whole batch sweeter.  They can say it is 100% real grape juice, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t play games to get it sweeter.  Again, trust.  You need to trust how a company processes their foods.

Eating whole grapes does the same trick as drinking the juice.  However, when eating the whole fruit, you are less likely to eat as much (the fiber fills you up).  Because the fiber fills you, you are also less likely to eat as many calories in one sitting than you would drinking a glass of fiberless juice.  Reducing calories below the RMR is the key to losing fat, so that’s the goal here.

So, which is healthy in this example?  Clearly, vitamins and minerals are important.  You get the most vitamins and minerals by eating the whole fruit rather than concentrated and processed foods.  Many vitamins and minerals are destroyed during processing. This is why so many processed foods must be fortified (they add external vitamins) to make up for the destroyed vitamins and minerals.  In this case, eating the whole grape is more healthy than drinking heavily concentrated and processed juice.  This goes for any foods that are processed.

Steps Removed From Nature

Think of healthy foods in terms of how far they are removed from their natural state.  Clearly, a grape is the most natural state of this fruit.  Therefore, it is the most healthy form of this fruit.  As it is processed, each step away from its most basic natural state makes it one step less healthy for the human body.   So, the steps might look something like the following:

grape -> grape juice fresh squeezed -> grape juice boiled down (concentrated) -> grape juice syrup / grape juice sugars -> grape juice powder (dried) or flavoring ->  grape jelly fruit snacks or grape popsicles

So, the fruit starts first and everything else is derived from some processing step after the initial fruit.  For each step after the initial fruit, that reduces the healthy nature of the food.  For each step removed from nature, then, that determines how less healthy it is for the human body.

Food Processing

What exactly is food processing?  At home you think of a Cuisinart for food processing.  However, processing foods in manufacturing is a way to concentrate the foods into usable constituent components (sugars, starches, salts, flavorings, etc).  The idea is to take an initial natural food and distill it down into its constituent components for later reintegration into another food product.  For example, Pringles chips are made from potatoes.  But, they aren’t whole potatoes.  Instead, they are made from ground and processed potatoes (and other ingredients), then they use a special process to form the chip into that familiar Pringles shape and bake it in place.  While the potato may have started whole, once it’s in a chip form coated with salt, it is no longer whole and is now removed from nature at least 2, 3 or more times.

(To be continued in Part II: Eat to Live)

Disclaimer:  This information is not intended to be used as a diagnosis, to diagnose or as a diet.  It is strictly to be used for information purposes. You will need to find your own way to lose the weight.  These suggestions may work to help you understand the body’s processes, but you will need to choose the foods that keep you healthy and let you lose the fat.  Everybody’s body is different, so this information may not work for you. You should also consult with a doctor before launching any calorie restricted diet to determine any pre-existing conditions prior to dieting. This information is provided as is.  All risk of use of this information is assumed by the reader.  This information is copyright 2010 Randosity.  All rights reserved.
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