Welcome to Eat and Be Healthy! My nutrition, exercise and eastern medicine philosophy will improve your overall health and appearance. While the information presented here can apply to anyone, I focus on the person that has a family and works in an office environment (or the person who is often on the road). The reason I can bring this unique perspective to health is because I'm one of those people!
I have a wife and 2 kids, and I work at a Fortune 500 company where I spend most of my time in my cube or on the road (you can find more information about me in the "about me" page). I know how difficult it can be to make time for health, and that's why I provide information on how to do so. Below you find my blog on various topics: September 12, 2010: Nutrition and Eating Healthy- my first blog entry before I knew what a blog was! As I mentioned in the the "about me" page, I lost a lot of weight years ago and kept it off.
So many friends, family members and coworkers asked me how I did it, that I decided to write up a document that detailed what I learned. I'll be updating this site with more recent findings of mine, but this is the basic information that helped me years ago and it is all still true today. . .
I’m a very hyper person with little patience. Some even say that I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) tendencies. When reading, I like to cut to the chase immediately. So, for those of you that are like me, I’m going to start with my conclusions.
I’ll summarize here the way that every person should eat in order to lose weight and keep it off. Again, I will get into more details later, but there are two biological goals behind this method of eating: I guarantee that if you follow this simple advice, you will lose weight and keep it off. Again following the “cut to the chase right now” theme, I will list some food which you can eat, then follow with the background behind the eating plan later. So to begin, I will list what I mean by, “high quality” proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
You will notice that none of these foods are processed foods. You want your body to process foods, not a machine. The less processed a food is, the better off you are. I once heard someone say that almost everything you need in the supermarket can be found on the perimeter of the store.
I have found this to be true in my local supermarket and most others that I’ve been in. To demonstrate, I’ll take a mental walk through the supermarket that I shop at. I walk in and immediately hit the fruits and vegetables aisle. Next comes the fish counter.
I take a right turn and end up at the meat section. Next is the dairy along the back wall. At this point, I’m about 90% done with my shopping! Most of what is in the middle of the store is processed, packaged, processed “junk” that everyone should avoid!
Now that you know what to eat and when to eat it, I’ll explain why. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. They are turned into glucose (a sugar) by the body during the process of digestion. Some carbs are turned into glucose more rapidly than others.
An index called the Glycemic Index (GI) is used to measure the speed at which a carb turns into glucose. Low GI foods turn into glucose slowly, high GI foods turn into glucose quickly. As a high GI food is eaten and digested, blood sugar increases rapidly. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
As blood sugar spikes, insulin secretion also spikes in order to bring blood sugar down. The insulin does its job, and does it so well that blood sugar then becomes too low. In most people, this causes hunger, mood swings, and a lack of energy. This then becomes a cycle as the person eats their next high GI meal and blood sugar spikes again.
Many people know this as a “sugar high” and “sugar crash” which is experienced when eating sugary foods. What is less well known is that many carbohydrates, namely the high GI ones act the same way that sugar does. So what is an example of a high GI carb? Unfortunately, many of the staples of the typical American diet are high GI carbs.
White bread, bagels, white potatoes, pasta, white rice, pretzels, chips, and many other similar foods are all very high GI foods. And of course, sugar itself turns to sugar quickly! Sugars can also be found in surprising places so look carefully at food labels for sugar content. Eliminating or greatly reducing these high GI foods will most likely be the most difficult adjustment for most of you to make.
All of the carbs listed in the “high quality” list earlier in this article are low GI carbs that will not spike blood sugar levels as rapidly as high GI foods. A horrible side effect of this sugar cycle is a slowdown of fat burning. As blood sugar levels rise, fat burning stops. By going on a sugar roller coaster all day long, you are depriving your body of fat burning throughout the day.
If blood sugar levels are kept constant, fat burning will take place throughout the day. Your body will do the work of burning fat for you without you even trying! Inherently, proteins and fats take longer, and require more work to digest than carbs. They are very low GI foods.
Your body actually expends twice as much energy to digest protein than it does to digest carbs or fats. Fats are digested very slowly and help to keep you full longer. By combining protein and fat along with carbs, you further reduce the blood sugar spike, increase your metabolism during the process of digestion, and stay satisfied for a longer amount of time. This is why I recommend NEVER having a meal consisting solely of carbs.
As I stated in the beginning of the article, every meal should consist of a high quality carb, protein, and fat. Now you probably understand why I said that. Keep your metabolism high throughout the day: Everyone should eat every 3 hours. This equates to about 5-6 meals per day.
As you eat, your metabolism increases and fat burning takes place. By eating multiple times per day, your metabolism doesn’t have a chance to slow down, and your body doesn’t stop burning fat (unless the meal is one which spikes your blood sugar). Further, your body goes into a starvation mode after 3 hours. Once in starvation mode, your body will tend to retain foods eaten at the next meal.
By eating every 3 hours, you avoid this situation. Humans were designed to graze all day long; much like many animals do. Think of your eating the same way as an animal grazes (although I don’t recommend eating grass or hay all day long) and you will be pleased with the results. Ideally, you would eat every three hours throughout the entire 24 hour day.
Some insane bodybuilders actually set their alarm to go off during the middle of the night to eat. For the rest of the semi-sane population out there, waking up in the middle of the night isn’t a great idea. What is a great idea is to eat breakfast as soon as you get up. The longer you wait, the longer your metabolism stays depressed, and that equates to more time that your body is not burning fat.
One surprise recommendation I will make is that you should even eat a meal right before bed (assuming it falls within the three hour timeframe). The only exception here is that if you do eat before bed, don’t have too many carbs. You don’t need energy before bed, so spare the carbs for this meal. This topic is actually a difficult one because it differs from person to person.
What I will provide here are only general guidelines. You will need to experiment for yourself to see how low you need to go in order to lose weight. Also, it may be tough for you to keep up a very low calorie diet. Multiply your bodyweight by 10 (for those with a slow metabolism), 11 (for average people), or 12 (for those with a high metabolism).
For a 150 lb person with an average metabolism, their caloric intake would be around 1650 calories. Again, these are VERY rough guidelines and should be tailored to the way your body reacts to your eating plan. I personally found that when I started eating this way, I didn’t count calories at all and I still lost about 1 pound per week. It wasn’t until I lost about 30 lbs that my fat loss started to slow down and I started keeping track of my calories.
Keeping a food log is an excellent tool to figure out how many calories you are taking in and where you may be going wrong. At some point in time during your weight loss phase, you will inevitably plateau. No matter what you do, nothing will seem to help you lose more weight. The most likely cause of this plateau is that your body has become used to the reduced calories you have been taking in, and is actually slowing down your metabolism as a result.
At this point, it is necessary to “trick” your body by incorporating a higher calorie “cheat day”. The cheat day shouldn’t be an all out feast, but you can (and should) eat about 50% more calories than normal. This day is also a day to eat the foods you haven’t been eating that you may be craving. This cheat day can also be helpful for those who have not reached their plateau yet.
Even if there are no physiological gains for those people, there are certainly mental ones. It is difficult to stay on a regimented plan without any breaks for a long period of time, so for that reason, I think a cheat day is good for everyone. For those interested in why the cheat day works, the hormone called leptin is the one you can thank (and research further if you wish). I’ll also discuss ratios of your macronutrients here.
Again, this is a rough guideline and many articles will provide different ratios, but I found that 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat works quite well. Good luck, and happy eating!