Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. — Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C.
How many times have you picked up a low-fat or diet food only to find the eating experience was less than stellar? Maybe you were hungry in less than an hour or it tasted disgusting, or it just wasn’t what you were craving.
Regardless of your experiences, purchasing “low fat” or “diet foods” is futile. One of the biggest charades ever perpetrated by the food marketing industry was that “low fat” and “diet foods” are the key to health. It’s simply not true.
So, what is true? Let’s delve into some of the truths we know about good health and nutrition.
Food is Fuel
The key to any body transformation is the fuel you put into your body — that doesn’t mean low-fat foods or processed diet foods are the answer. Nor does it mean that you can never eat sweets or a decadent treat. Rather, it means that you need to think of food in terms of consequences.
Food must serve to fuel you and fuel your lifestyle, not leave you hungry or disappointed. Diet foods cut the fat and add sugar in its place. While this may reduce calories, it’s actually exposing the body to more harmful substances. Plus, fat is needed for a number of physiological processes including fat burning (more on that later).
Food is a Drug
Hear me out on this one. Food (like drugs) has specific effects, interactions, and side effects. Food has consequences. Food is very powerful. Food can affect you while you eat by meeting a craving, setting up fat storage, etc, but it can also affect you up to 72 hours later! Gaining a firm understanding that food is a drug is one of the most powerful things you can do for your health and your physique.
There is no Such Thing as a “Bad Food”
There is no such thing as BAD food, just bad eating habits. Personally, I am convinced that there are some foods that are better to eat at certain times than others or foods that keep you full longer and satisfied easier. But, there is no food that should be completely avoided because it is “Bad.” Food has all sorts of metabolic, hormonal, and chemical responses that follow its intake. When you time the type of food you eat with your daily activities, you can optimize the effects of that food on your body. Nothing demonstrates this better than the post-workout meal (more on that in a future article, so stay tuned!).
Carbohydrates Are Not Bad
Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are NOT bad. Remember — there is no such thing as a bad food, only not-as-good food and bad timing with foods. Carbohydrates are essential for energy, especially the energy needed for sports, exercise, and building muscles! They play a vital role in the body’s ability to increase lean mass. Perhaps the most essential role of carbohydrates is that of fuel for the ol’ noggin (The Brain).
Proteins are Vital
Proteins are, in my opinion, one of the most vital nutrient/food types there are. Proteins are essential and present in all cells of the body and make up important structures such as the cell membrane and intracellular material. They are essential for muscle contraction and movement and are vital in the formation of regulatory hormones and the activation of selected vitamins. They are also deeply involved in the regulatory, metabolic, and physiologic actions the body performs on a daily basis. Protein is filling, gives your metabolism a boost, and when consumed with carbohydrates, helps keep blood sugar swings in check. Additionally, it takes more energy or calories to digest proteins than it does fats or carbohydrates!
Fat Isn’t The Bad Guy
The word fat has a bad connotation to it. It has been unfairly deemed the bad guy and the cause of obesity both in America and around the world, which is incorrect! Fat is essential for optimum function and daily living on all levels! A few of the noteworthy functions of fat include:
- Protection and insulation of vital organs and the central nervous system.
- Providing the body with large amounts of stored and potential energy.
- Acting as a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins, D, E, A, and K.
- Controlling hunger pangs and giving the feeling of fullness (satiety).
Ditch the pop-culture, fashion magazine diet fads and memorize these truths instead. In future articles, we’ll go over the different kinds of carbs, proteins and fats and how to properly utilize them in your daily practices.