For a moment, forget what you think you know about nutrition. The fitness scene is currently cluttered with so many fads and myths made by companies and individuals for their own personal gain. This article explains exactly what you need to know about eating and your goals.
What is Healthy Food?
Is food healthy if it makes you lose weight? Is food healthy if it is low in sugar and fat?
The truth is that healthy food is based on the quality and quantity of micro nutrients. These nutrients are required in small quantities to fulfill physiological functions. Food that is both high in fat and sugar can still be considered healthy if it contains micro nutrients. Lets see what this means in terms of weight loss:
A medium sized sweet potato contains 26 grams of carbohydrates which means it has 104 calories.
1 cup of dry Honey Nut Cheerios also has 26 grams of carbohydrates which means it has 104 calories.
In terms of weight loss and weight gain, both of these will have the same impact on your body at the end of the day. Your body cannot distinguish the carbohydrates derived from the sweet potato vs. the cereal. The sweet potato, however, contains certain micronutrients, minerals and fiber that aid the body’s digestion which is why its considered healthy. The cereal, on the other hand, does not contain the same micro nutrients but has the exact same amount of carbohydrates and thus calories.
In terms of weight loss and weight gain? they have the exact same impact. Both of these foods contain 106 calories.
But won’t the sugar in the cereal make me fat?
The Traditional Diet:
The glycemic index measures how quickly blood glucose levels (blood sugar) increase after eating a certain type of food. The notion that eating a food high in sugar will cause a rise in blood sugar which will result in that sugar being stores as fat if it isn’t used up as energy.
Welcome to Flexible Nutrition
(also known as IIFYM- If It Fits Your Macros)
The idea and scientific evidence behind the metabolic equation rules out the importance of the glycemic index. Consuming food in general throughout the day will result in increases and decreases in blood sugar whether its a simple carb like a piece of candy or a bowl of oatmeal.
These spikes in insulin will not affect weight loss if you are in a calorie deficit at the end of the day.
Calorie Deficit= eating less calories than your body requires to maintain its current weight
The graph shows the increases and decreases in fat due to food consumed. Net lyposis from eating less calories than your body requires will result in a loss of fat.
The whole idea that one food is better than the other because it won’t cause a drastic spike in insulin is blown out the water. In addition, the GI of high GI foods like white rice and white potato can be changed by eating protein, fats and fiber with it.
You don’t have to give up burritos, cakes, and chocolates as long as you eat the amount that allows you to remain in a calorie deficit.
It Doesn’t Mean You Can Eat Crap All Day
Technically it does. You could TECHNICALLY, eat one 3 pieces of fried chicken and a few pieces of chocolate provided you don’t eat anything else and still lose weight. But that would defeat the entire purpose of being healthy and feeling good.
What it Does Mean
It means flexibility. You don’t have to be confined to broccoli, brown rice and tilapia. You can eat three healthy, nutritious meals in a day and get away with eating a few pieces of dark chocolate or a small dessert if it fits the amount calories you’re allowed in a day. If you know how much you can eat in a day you can plan accordingly; for example if you have a dinner with friends and you don’t want to be lame you can skip the carbs at lunch and eat dessert instead.
Keep in mind that different foods have different nutritional values. 50 grams of oats will contain a different amount of carbohydrates compared to 50 grams of rice!
But What’s the Point of Eating Nutritious Food?
By eating whole, nutritious foods you will improve your overall performance and well being in your daily life and you’ll be able to stick to the amount of food you’re supposed to eat . For example, eating slow digesting carbs in the morning will provide you with sustained energy for a few hours while helping you maintain your calorie deficit as you won’t feel inclined to eat more within half an hour. It helps eliminate unnecessary snacking and makes you feel great.
Eating certain foods at certain times will also impact results. For example, eating slow digesting carbohydrates and protein an hour before you workout will give you the energy you need to train harder in the gym. Consuming simple carbs like a sugary Pop Tart after training along with some whey protein will replenish depleted muscles fast and aid recovery more efficiently as opposed to slow digesting carbs.
“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
How Much Should I Eat and How Do I Manage?
First of all, figure out the amount of calories required to maintain your current body weight. Subtract 500 calories from that so you’re in a deficit. Decide on a ratio for the amount of carbs, protein and fat that will comprise your calories and hit those numbers everyday. Different ratios are decided upon based on your goals and stats.
Remember: 1g of carb= 4 calories, 1g of protein= 4 calories, 1g of fat= 9 calories
If your goal is to lose weight, we suggest a diet with a low carbohydrate ratio compared to protein and fats.
Use a calorie tracker such as myFitnessPal and log all the food you eat in a day. It will show you the amount of macronutrients and calories in each meal. Eat what you want and log it in so you know you’ve hit the number of calories to stay in the deficit.
Get used to weighing food and understanding proprtions. Its not a big deal and takes a few weeks before it becomes second nature. You won’t even have to weigh your food in the future once you know what the various amounts look like to the naked eye.