It seems to me that over the years eating has somehow become an over-complicated and analyzed thing. You would think that more information on a subject would be better, but it almost seems as if all this information is inhibiting what we humans were supposed to do – enjoy and eat food.
Now it does not help that most of the foods we call foods are actually highly processed food, full of things our body was not meant to handle. Such foods as the high fructose corn syrups and refined white flours for example.
On top of this there are so many different views of food and how it should be eaten and how much of what. Over just the past few years the thinking has done a full 180. It was eat lots of carbs and little fats, now it is eat lots of fats and proteins and little carbs. You also have the, eat only veggies and fruits people, the vegetarians, pescetarian, and many other tarian groups. I guess your safest bet is to just not eat, and stick to water (don’t do this you will die).
The question is what should I eat? Are fats evil? How about carbs (Legend has it that the devil created carbs. Sounds plausible), and what about proteins, why isn’t anyone talking about proteins?I guess they get a pass. How can three macronutrients get so over complicated?
Lots of questions
Here’s my attempt at simplifying what you should eat. This is my opinion, you can take it or leave it, but here it is.
Fats are good, proteins are good, and carbs, carbs are well, good. All three are good for you. You should be eating all three of them. Your body needs all three of them. None of them are inherently bad for you. All are good in the right quantities and from the right sources.
Picking the right foods is the problem for most people. So what is food? Strange question right? Food is something that is ingested for its nutritious substance, which comes from plants and animals. So food is meat, fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains. Food is not processed breads, pastas and meats.
There are 7 rules that Michael Pollan goes over in his book, In Defense of Food, which should help you make good
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Don’t eat any thing with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarkets; shop on the perimeter, and shop at farmers markets or grow your own food when possible.
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot
- Stop eating before you are full, leave the table a little hungry
- Eat as a family, not in front of the TV, but at the dinner table
- Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline.
If you follow these simple rules you will be healthier for it. There is no, eat this much fat or this many carbs. If you are eating real foods, as your body was designed to do, you will be doing just fine. And, have some control and don’t pig out every meal.
Stop over-complicating eating. You know what you should be eating for the most part. Eat in moderation and eat real foods. It sounds too simple to work, but it works and has worked since the dawn of time.
The past two weekends I have been away at conferences. There was the Elite Training Workshop at Cressey Performance and the NSCA Maine State Conference at the University of New England. Oh, and I was also an invited speaker for the UNE research symposium.
Let me just dust my shoulders off before proceeding.
What this all means is me spending a total combined time of roughly 24 hours sitting in cheap plastic unsupportive chairs, which has done wonders for my back. Luckily it paid off with me cramming my mind full of new ideas and knowledge, and a couple of cool drawstring swag bagz, spelled with a “Z”. Score!
Since all this new knowledge has been bestowed upon me, I will also let you drink from the cup of knowledge. Sorry, I can’t give all of you cool free drawstring swag bagz as well, but if it makes you feel better I would if I could.
Assessments, They’re Important
You have probably heard the saying “if you’re not assessing your guessing”, well it rhymes so it’s right.
When you are working with a new client, how are you supposed to know their past history and how they move, if you don’t do an assessment? The assessment should consist of some kind of questionnaire that delves into the past history of activities and injuries, along with some kind of movement screen.
From this information you can pull areas of weakness and exercises that they should and should not be doing.
If you are part of a gym that does not have coaches that can perform a full assessment, I would recommend you look into the self movement screen. This will at least give you some idea of some imbalances that you may have that you are unaware of.
So don’t guess, assess.
Look at the Demands of A Sport
Every sport requires a different skill set. There may be some overlapping between sports, but there is some facet of the game that makes it unique and that is why baseball and soccer have different names.
Baseball pitchers don’t have to run a lot so why go for 5 mile runs? Same with hockey players and football players, they are all quick explosive sports. Running long distance is the antithesis of this.
Side Note: I just used a big word in my writing and did not even have to find it in a thesaurus – little win.
Looking at overall energy demands of a sport is important, but it is also important to look at the movements that are used in the sport. Look at the work to rest ratio, the explosive vs. non explosive movement, and linear and lateral movements. A program should take all this into consideration.
Train for Effect
Well this sounds like a no brainer. Everyone who works out is training for some kind of effect, whether that is strength, fat loss, or sexiness. Everyone is training for an effect. So what does this mean?
When you write your exercise program you should not just think of exercises as movements that strengthen muscle groups – anyone can do that. I could pick any meathead in the gym to write me a program to get me stronger and there is a good chance some of my weights would go up, this doesn’t mean it was a good program.
There should be a purpose for each exercise. You have depressed shoulders so you program exercises X, Y, and Z to help fix that; your core is weak so you program this exercise over that exercise. The point is you want your exercises to cause an effect, its not just sets and reps with bench, squat, and deadlifts. Writing a good exercise program is so much more than that.
Think about the effect you want to cause.
Base of Aerobic Fitness
This is an idea that I guess I have always known but never actually put much thought into it. Your base of aerobic fitness is what allows you to progress to more strenuous activities, like sprinting. Without a base the individual will have nothing to build off of.
For example if you have a client, or you yourself have not had any form of training in over a year, you can not expect them to know how to pace themselves. By developing an aerobic base first, this will lead to better endurance, allowing them to do more work. Once you, or your clients, have an idea of how to pace yourselves then you can move on to harder activities.
What I mean by pacing is that a sprint should not be the same speed as a jog and visa versa. Without an aerobic base you and your clients may not know the difference or be at a fitness level to perform at a higher level. So get that base and then build off of it.
Ice Cream, Hot Dogs, and Omega 3’s
What do all three of these things have in common? Well, nothing really, except ice cream and hot dogs are not the healthiest food choices. So what is omega 3’s doing linked with these two outlaws of food health.
With our ability to inject almost anything into any food, we now have the ability to put omega 3’s into any food we want to. This includes foods like ice cream and hot dogs. So now my junk food will have some resemblance of being good for me.
So instead of taking fish oil pills I can now just eat some ice cream to get my daily recommended value of omega 3’s. And people can now say, “It’s ok that I eat ice cream every day because it’s good for me.” Let me just say, and this is my last point, a part does not make a whole. Just because something has some healthy part to it does not make it inherently good for you.
PRI Is A Lot of Smart
After hearing about PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) I now fully understand what the phrase “drinking from a fire hose” means. What is PRI? Well it was developed by some smart PT by the name of Ron Hruska.
Their principles are: “To explore and explain the science of postural adaptations, asymmetrical patterns and influence of polyarticular chains of muscles on the human body. To develop an innovative treatment approach that addresses the primary contributions of postural kinematic movement dysfunction.”
Intriguing right? Sounds like a whole lot of smart to me, something that I will have to look into.
These are some of the big things that I learned over the past two weeks. So assess, don’t guess, look at what the sport demands, train for an effect, get that aerobic base, ice cream is awesome but still not good for you no matter how you dress it up, and PRI, that is just smart.
Food is a big part of our lives, it gives us energy, it brings friends and family together, and most of all it does not judge you. It just looks at you and says, “Eat me friend, I am here for you”
Then, I and the food, run across a field at each other in slow motion, meeting in the middle, gazing at one another as if finally meeting your… Ok this has gone on long enough.
Ok, back to the point of this post.
It has become very trendy to try and eat all natural and organic foods. These foods are supposedly healthier for you, due to the fact that they have not been injected with HGH and other meat enhancing drugs, or MEDs* for short, and the fact that they cost more then ordinary foods. As we all know, the more it costs the better it is.
When you see ‘all natural’ you may think it is the same as buying organic. Natural means it should be from nature and nature does not use HGH and pesticides. Organic means coming from living matter. They both sound the same. So are they?
Not if you ask the USDA. The USDA has two very different criteria for what qualifies as natural and what is organic.
The term natural is meant to imply that the food was minimally processed and does not contain manufactured ingredients. The thing is, the government does not have a specific definition of the term natural and does not regulate the use of the term on products.
Artificial colors or flavors, artificial preservatives, and irradiated products/ingredients.
Pesticides and herbicides, GMOs, antibiotics, and growth hormones.
If GMOs and growth hormones are allowed in production then natural foods do not sound all that natural. Added to that is the fact that they are loosely regulated and no one has to tell how the food/animals were raised.
USDA Certified Organic
The term organic is well defined you can read it here if you want the nitty gritty of it.
Here is the short and sweet of what needs to be fulfilled to get a USDA Organic sticker on your products.
– No human sewage fertilizer used for animal feeds or plants
– No synthetic chemicals
– Farmland has to be free from prohibited synthetic chemicals
– No GMOs, Antibiotics, Growth Hormones
– Animals must be on pasture for pasture season
– Organic products separated from non- certified products
– Undergo on-site inspections
Putting It All Together
If you plan on spending money on so called, ‘all natural’ foods, then save and just buy generic. At least you know that they are not putting crap in your food. There is a chance that the company that puts ‘all natural’ on their products is actually following the loose set of guidelines that is not regulated by any second party. I mean hell, food companies are known for their honesty after all.
If you are trying to eat organic then make sure it is USDA certified organic. This is the gold standard in organic food. Don’t waste your money on foods that claim to be all natural. Either buy the generic or spend a little more and get the good stuff. Don’t pay more by straddling the fence on so called all natural foods.
*This is a made up acronym so do not think that MED stand for Meat Enhancing Drugs
If I have not mentioned it before, I love food. Or, I should say, I love eating food. The sad thing is, it does not even have to be good food. Most people will try something and if they don’t like it, they will just stop eating it. I, on the other hand, will realize that what I am eating tastes like garbage, but instead of doing the obvious and just stop eating, I will proceed to tell everyone how bad it is while I continue to eat the thing that I just got done saying tasted like a fresh diaper. Needless to say, I really enjoy eating.
(Warning Random Thought)
As a side note, I really did not like the movie Charlotte’s Web. It had way too much singing in it for my liking, even as a child. But it had one great scene in it that sums up my love for food. Here it is.
Wow, can you find any better choreography and cinematography in a children’s film? I think not.
A common question with us red-blooded food lovers is, how many meals should we eat throughout the day? If it were up to me, it would be every minute of every day, other then when I am sleeping. But this dream is just not possible, if I want to live a healthy life.
So is the answer three meals a day; the classic breakfast, lunch, dinner combo. Or is it 6 to 8 smaller meals throughout the day. How about only two large meals? Is any one way superior to the other? Some would argue, yes. Here is my take on the whole matter of meal frequency.
Goal of Eating
Like so many things in our lives it all starts with a goal. It is no different when choosing your meal frequency.
The over-all reason for eating is to fuel and replenish your body so it can function at its fullest potential. I would like to think eating could be a hobby, the real American pastime.
Looking at eating as strictly eating to fuel our bodies and not as a social, out of boredom, or hobby, is how we should look at eating the majority of the time. This is not to say that you should never just eat to eat, or to take a person of the opposite sex out to a nice dinner every once in a while.
People get caught up in eating three times a day because it is what they have done their whole lives. They think this is the right way to eat just because they have done it that way. You also have the people that eat small frequent meals thinking it will keep their metabolism up all throughout the day. This has been shown to be untrue in resent research.
There is the intermittent fasting group, the carb back loading group, and the palio group. (Have you noticed if someone is on the palio diet they will somehow work it into the conversation to let you know they are on the palio diet)
None of these styles of eating is right or wrong. They can all be very effective if it’s the right fit for your style of living. Some will prefer the sit down three large meals a day, for their life is able to support it. A mother that is always on the go may do better with unplanned small snake like meals throughout the day. As long as you are getting enough to eat and not eating a bunch of junk foods throughout the day, you will be fine with whatever eating style you choose.
What meal frequency comes down to, is what works for you. This depends on your daily schedule, the amount of food you need to eat, when you workout, and how you like to eat.
Eating frequent meals throughout the day does not work for me. It makes me want to eat all the time, causing me to snack more then I should. I usually start eating after my workout. I work out around 11:30, so I eat around 1:00. Then I’ll eat one last large meal at night. I do this because I enjoy eating large amounts of food at one time and because eating at night, 2 hours or so before bed, also prevents me from snacking.
I am also not locked into any one style if I know that I am going out to eat or traveling I may not eat anything all day. I will wait till dinner to eat so I can enjoy my meal and not just eat rabbits food and when it comes to traveling I know I will end up eating like crap so I just plan accordingly. This is what works for me. This style does not fit everybody’s life style. So find what works for you and do you.
You should always eat after your workout. Other then that, you can eat as many or as few times a day as you want. Just make sure you are eating enough food. A diet should not be something you force into your life, it should fit your life. This way you will stick to a healthy eating life style.