Eating Enough vs. Eating The Right Thing

The Spring 2017 Nutrition Challenge is rolling into week 2 today and that means that 1/2 of the participants have navigated their first weekend and are now looking to Saturday for their sneaky little treat meal (we will get into the psychology of the cheat/treat/refeed meal and window later on down the road). 

Y’alls first week is like a warm up from my perspective. I am not going to judge to harshly or get super detailed on the feedback because you are just getting your bearings and figuring out your new routine. I there are glaring deficiencies then of course you will receive feedback with which you will be able to make the correction, but other than that it is just about getting into rhythm. 

Without fail, over the last five years, the number one issue we see is the amount of food people are consuming. IT IS ALWAYS TOO LITTLE! Part of this is simply because healthy food does not induce overeating the same way highly refined carbs or processed foods due. That has to do with your hormones and their ability to communicate with us properly, of course, and also because most people don’t get hyped to binge on broccoli. 

QUESTION: Why can you eat a large pizza in one sitting but after a decent sized salad (with meat and oil) you are relatively satisfied? The pizza obviously has far more to eat and to stuff into your belly so how does a salad that probably takes up 1/4 of the area get me the same result as pounds of pizza ingredients? Someday I will tell you the story of our old friends and foes Insulin, Leptin, and Palmitic Acid.

So given the choice of eating too little but eating the right things OR eating enough (or more) but eating the wrong things, how do we prioritize the variables?

[Let me be clear here, if you are going to offer up extreme conditions where you are eating 200 calories per day but it’s all broccoli then we are not in a good place at all. 

However, assuming we are eating 500+ calories per day (which is way way way low so please do not do that), then we can begin to discuss the priority of your food quality. ]

FIRST, THE QUALITY OF YOUR FOOD CHOICES

Low quality foods have a devastating effect on your health and wellness (and, in turn, your performance). Living off of packaged goods and bottled beverages is unlikely to lead to healthy hormone function and balance, or high quality sleep, or sustained energy levels through your day. And, what’s worse, is the scientific facts that sugar, highly refined carbohydrates, and other processed foods are directly contributing to a deterioration of our heart health, and increase in our blood pressure, and leading us down the road to pre-diabetic condition. Even the skinniest of us must be concerned that our organs just might be encased in fat (Skinny fat is a real thing. That is why skinny is not the goal. Healthy and happy is.). 

When we consume the right foods, even while underrating consistently, we see the changes we hope to. These changes are rotted in the health of hormones and their ability to do their jobseffectively. For example, insulin is a good guy. Insulin is what keeps us from having a surplus of sugar floating around in our blood (high blood sugar is not a good thing). But when we consume crap food we make it difficult for insulin to do its job. It is constantly called upon everytime we eat because everything we eat spikes our blood sugar (bread, pasta, sodas, sweeteners, desserts, snacks: basically processed carbs). And when we spike our blood sugar too often, our insulin stops responding as well. This is insulin resistance and this is not good. It is also not just the problem of pre-diabetics and type 2 diabetics. All of us seemingly “healthy” people are able to develop this and lose quality of life as a result. 

Consume the high quality foods (meaning the right choices for your health and wellness) and you will create an environment in which your hormones will thrive. And when your hormones are happy, you are happy!

AND THEN, THE AMOUNT YOU ARE CONSUMING

If the quality of your food is the first priority here, then the amount you eat is an extremely close 2nd. I will always prefer to see you eat healthy than eat enough BUT, because we are adults, we ought to be able to do both with ease. 

As mentioned in the nutrition presentation, our bodies are incredible. I mean our bodies are so incredible that we will never ever fully understand just how amazing they are. Basically your body is the most advanced computer or smart phone or driverless car you could imagine. And one of the body’s incredible features is its ability to adapt to the environment in which it lives. Eskimos are able to survive off diets that include protein and fat because hunting animals is about the only way to find food since having a garden in freezing whether is inefficient. But a community of people in a milder climate will not be as efficient processing ONLY meat and fat because they have plenty of access to vegetables and fruits. 

In the same way, our bodies fight for survival. At the end of the day, that’s what life comes down to. Surviving.  In order to do that, the body had to be able to make through times of famine or long periods, days, weeks, and even months, of low food consumption because food was simply not available. Maybe the crops froze or were destroyed by pests that year. Or maybe a neighboring tribe raided the village. The point is, the body still had to find a way. The way it did and does so is pretty incredible. When your body goes without food for a while it will switch to “survival mode.” It will use as little energy as possible which means you become sleepy and lethargic throughout your day. Non-vital functions are shut down and you basically become a shell of yourself because you are running on fumes in an effort to conserve any stored energy (body fat) you may still have. You also will try to store the little bit of food you do consume. That means more body fat. 

Eating less than 1,000 calories per day sounds like a great plan. Unfortunately the reality is that not only do we not thrive under these conditions, but we actually lose progress. We must offer our body enough fuel for it to operate the way it was meant to. Once it is operating at full capacity we will be able to lose the fat or see the changes we hope to see. 

And for those that are concerned or maybe who insist on having a hard number, an estimation would be 10 calories per pound of goal bodyweight (within 10 pounds of your current body weight. That means if I weight 225 but my goal is 200, i would only use 215 and not 200. Then as I lose weight that number would keep decreasing until it is 200). 

When eating high quality food, we have seen amazing results when we eat enough food each day. Focus on both of these very important elements and you will love the way you feel, the feedback your doctor gives you, and how you look when you step out of the shower. 

As always, do not hesitate to ask me any questions you might have in the comments.