As my first post I should provide a little background so I don’t seem like some random guy that found this blog and decided to start posting here. I am a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and also certified through Crossfit. I work at a Crossfit affiliate gym and also I have my own personal training clients. I was one of Alan’s friends going through school so he asked me to occasionally add insight and posts to help you guys keep going and answer any questions you may have. You will also have to excuse the rather lengthy post, I tend to get long winded on occasion.
First off (excuse the cheesy line), well done. You are taking steps to improve yourself and I applaud you for that. I will be happy to answer any and all questions you have for me no matter how minor or obscure.
I wanted to talk to you today about the quality of food that you generally eat. I’ll try and keep all the science mumbo jumbo out of it as best I can. A lot of the time when people think of “healthy” they think whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low/no fat whatever, etc. Some of that is correct and some of that is misconceptions.
What people don’t realize is why certain foods are considered healthy and why they are not. There are also varying degrees of how healthy foods are. So, what makes a type of food healthy? Is it all about macronutrient balance (Carbs, fat, and protein)? Or is it how nutrient dense it is? (Vitamins and minerals) And which one is more important? I can say without a doubt that the nutrients in the food that you eat are the most important factor.
So, nutrient dense foods huh? What are those? Well for starters vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy (mainly eggs). Notice anything missing from your previous conceptions of healthy food? Thats right, grains. The biggest block of the USDA’s approved “healthy diet” is gone. The reason for this is grains (yes, even whole grains) are basically empty carbs. There are very little nutrients present because of how they are cooked and generally how processed the finished product is. Go to your local supermarket and try and find a loaf of whole grain bread that does not have high fructose corn syrup (an artificial sweetener) in it. I bet it will be a lot harder than you think. Its doable but most companies stick that in everything, even if it’s not something that you would generally classify as sweet.
So, if grains are out of the picture what should I eat for my daily intake for energy? Simple, lots and lots of vegetables, a bit of fruit, and (bear with me) you don’t need to skimp on the fat. Honestly most of the calories that I eat in a day come from fat, next is protein, and finally a little bit of carbs. I don’t count my calories at all and just eat however much I like and just pay attention to the quality of food that I eat. I maintain a body weight of about 190 at 5’10” and my body fat % is somewhere between 8-10%.
Fat gets a bad rap because most people associate the fat we eat with the fat that gets stored in/on/around our body. They don’t associate the fat on our body with all the extra carbs that we just ate and didn’t actually use for energy. If the energy from all the carbs that we eat are not used where do they go? As much as I would like to say they magically disappear unfortunately for us, they get stored in cells for later use. And once our cells that require energy are filled to the brim with the energy where does all the extra energy go then? Simple, it gets stored in our “backup” storage, our fat cells.
To wrap up this exceedingly long post that kind of took on a mind of its own I will leave you with a simple message. Eat lots and lots of vegetables, a little bit a fruit (can go into the science of why you should limit your fruit intake if you want), go house on any lean meat you can find (unless you vegetarian, then I’ll have to think of new ways to get protein), and to hell with counting calories. My favorite sources for fat are eggs (protein too), bacon, and nuts. Fat will help you feel full so you wont be a ravenous unhappy person the whole day.