• When Diets Go Wrong

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    It has happened to all of us. You wake up one morning and POW, you’re heavier than you want to be. Our first thought is to go on a diet and eat less. We cut out lunch and have a “shake” for breakfast. Our thinking is that by eating less, our bodies will have to burn off fat to fuel our day. But this isn’t always true. Reducing our calorie intake drastically may actually make it more difficult to lose weight.

    Throughout the ages, humans evolved from eras of starvation. It is only recently that food in our society has been easily accessible. So “dieting” is a very recent development. Previously, the only low-calorie diet that existed was starvation. And those who could physically deal with starvation lived. So, throughout the thousands of years that humans have been around, our metabolism has fine tuned itself to increase the likelihood of survival when food isn’t plentiful. So, when we restrict our calories, we are essentially creating a modified starvation state, something our bodies have learned to deal with very well over the centuries. The end result is that collectively we are heavier than ever. Partly, it is because we are more sedentary now. But equally, as important is the fact that the quality of the American diet has changed dramatically.

    Numerous studies in various cultures have compared overweight and thin people to determine what is the optimal diet habit. Time and again, researchers have found that the total calories consumed are fairly the same between groups. So why are some overweight and some not? The difference between the two groups are what foods make up the total calories. Thinner people eat more protein and complex carbohydrates, while overweight individuals eat more simple carbohydrates and fat.

    This isn’t rocket science, people. We’ve known for a long time that eating healthy meant eating healthy foods, not necessarily cutting calories. Yes, you can over-eat the healthy stuff, but it’s a whole lot harder. And if you’re overweight to begin with, healthy foods are the key to giving you the fuel to lead an active lifestyle, which is ultimately what makes us all happier.

    Look it, losing weight is not something a person can do overnight. For as much as the “Biggest Loser” has done for inspiring people to get off the couch, it has created the gross misconception that a person can lose tens of pounds per week by drastically cutting calories. What people don’t see is the volume of work the participants do off camera, and the “Biggest Loser” franchise does everything it can to NOT publicize how many of the participants put all the weight back on and more, once the show is over. Successful weight loss comes from eating healthy foods in appropriate amounts, combined with adequate exercise of sustained vigorous intensity. Losing weight in the amount of 8 to 10 pounds per week cannot be maintained; losing 2 pounds per week can. And this type of weight loss comes from eating healthy and being active.

    So how do you “eat healthy”? Well, here are a few Golden Rules.

    1. Eat things that have 1 ingredient. By that I mean: apples, cabbage, chicken, fish, etc. Eating packaged foods get you nowhere in the weight loss game.

    2. Water is your ultimate friend. By some estimates, over 50% of Americans don’t drink enough during the day. This does 2 things: (1) it leaves your digestive system empty and wanting something to fill it (i.e. you eat more when you do eat), and (2) wreaks havoc on your body’s ability to regulate its multiple physiologic systems. End result, you undo any progress you make in your healthy eating habits from #1.

    3. Use some common sense in portion size. If you someone says you can eat double the amount of something because there’s less calories to it, then there’s probably less nutrients to as well. Nutrients equal food value. Eat for value, not for volume.

    The myth is that people are getting heavy by eating too many calories. Calories are a consideration it’s true, but overall they are not the cause of obesity in America today. Eating unhealthy IS the reason. Ultima is here to help fill in the blanks. We have a Registered Dietician on staff. Just ask the Front Desk to tap into that resource, or you can email me directly at jeffrey@ultimafitness.com. Your body will thank you for it and you’ll be a lot happier to boot!