Saturday, April 28, 2012

Low-Cal, Low-Sugar, Low-Fat = Low Benefit.

For so many, the word "diet" means simply eating less - but the reality is, it is just as important - if not more so - to manage what you are eating.

This is not the way to lose weight.

The words "Never hungry, never full" are words to live by - but they are not the whole story. A diet and healthy lifestyle involves more than just counting calories in & calories out - but rather realizing that it is the kind of calories you are consuming that matter!

The first lady, the lovely Michelle Obama was on David Letterman when she summed it all up in two sentences: "You wouldn't teach kids to water a plant with soda. We just don't think about ourselves that way." And she is right! We fill our bodies with sugar-free, low-cal, 'diet', and low-fat foods that do nothing for our bodies - they don't provide energy, vitamins, and/or minerals - and instead, cause our digestive system to work in over-drive to try and breakdown the various additives and preservatives that it wasn't made to process.

And here is the thing - all of these modified foods are hurting your attempts to lose weight and be healthy. Here is why:

Your body has a number of mechanisms to break down food, absorb it, convert it to energy, and process it as waste. Your body does not, however, have the enzymes and therefore the ability to break down artificial substances effectively. Food that your body cannot break down, convert to energy, or digest is - simply speaking- stored as fat. Feel bloated? Check the ingredients in your latest snack, the reason is probably there! In order to achieve optimal weight-loss, your body's digestive system should be working as effectively as possible - eliminating whatever food is not used for muscle building, cell-rebuilding, and ATP (energy) creation/usage.
Our low-cal, genetically engineered world...

And what's more, the simple "Calories in - Calories out" philosophy doesn't work for the long-run. Maybe you will lose an initial few pounds by counting and cutting your calorie intake, but you will have to continue to eat less and less and less, until you plateau and will stop losing weight, no matter how little you are eating. Additionally, in theory, with the "Calories in- Calories out" philosophy, you could have a 300-400 calorie piece of cheesecake instead of a healthy chicken breast and veggies for lunch. What is the problem here? Well, there are quite a few, but here are the big ones:

1)  The cheesecake will cause your sugar (glucose) levels to spike, giving a short-term artificial sense of energy, and then fall to lower levels later. Result? You start to lose lean body mass (muscle) - not fat - and lower lean body mass in turn means you consistently burn less calories. Sound complicated? More simply: Your body cannot get much of what it needs from the cheesecake, so it starts looking for other sources (your muscles).

2) A piece of cheesecake has approximately 4-6g of protein, while a chicken breast (3.5oz) has approximately 30g! A low-protein diet causes you to lose muscle mass - Result? Read point one again above.

3) Because your blood sugar has spiked and then fallen to a lower (than normal) level after, the next time you eat, you will have very low glucose levels, and your body will begin to produce more insulin. Translation: Overall, more fat is produced/stored. The goal should be to keep your body's sugar-levels stable.

I'm guessing she doesn't eat 100-calorie packs of Oreos
and she didn't eat dessert for dinner.
4) Eating protein helps your body feel full, meaning you will not feel hungry as soon after you eat as you will having eaten cheesecake. Simple carbs (for example, those low-fat cookies, most breads, chips - yes, even the low-fat ones! etc.) are not a source of energy for your body, and have no nutrients, so you do not be surprised when you feel hungry soon after indulging. But complex carbs are great for producing energy and stabilizing blood sugar. (Think: Oatmeal, brown rice, fruits, veggies - that is the stuff your body can work with!).

5) A low-calorie diet will not prevent you from getting diabetes from a high sugar diet, or the other cardiovascular ailments that come from a high fat diet. Likewise, one should also consider there reaction your skin has to a lack of vitamins and minerals, or the effect sugar also has on your teeth. Last time I checked, low-calorie diets do not prevent pimples or cavities, but healthy diets do.                                                  
(300-450 calories)
... but what will your body do with this?

Remember this the next time you think you want to have a small side-salad for dinner and a big bowl (read: carton) of ice cream for dinner - or skip lunch so that you can pig out on pizza later. Consider what a 100 calorie pack of low-fat cookies does for your body vs. a 250 calorie handful of dried fruit and nuts.
 (350-450 calories)
And what will your body do with this?

So where is the silver lining?! When you indulge - because we all do - you are better off eating the cheesecake and avoid fake sugars, artificial flavors, and all the other unnatural stuff that will throw your body out of whack.

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