Dietary Basics
copyright Justinian Miller

Let's get right down to it! Summer's almost here and everyone is thinking about shaping up, right? You should know that what you eat plays a major role. There is too much information out there though. People may be thinking, "do I try that high fat approach I hear others raving about? How about that all fruit diet? Maybe a high protein diet is the answer, or even a liquid protein diet?" The list goes on and on. What we need now is simplification!

Listen carefully folks and you'll save yourself wasted time and effort! There are six main components of diet. Water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Each of these is vital to our existence and our health. So what we need is a balance. Under most circumstances I would not recommend any extreme approaches like a diet without carbohydrates such as is the newest craze these days. Although I've seen this diet work I don't recommend it for most.

People like Dr. Atkins have commercialized the problem our country has with excessive carbohydrate intake. Almost one third of our country is clinically obese according to studies. Why? Too many carbs, especially sugar! It's almost that simple. Take sugar out of our culture and the statistics of obese people would drop remarkably. Simple chain carbohydrates (cake, cookies, candy, ice cream, soda, flavored drinks, most breads, many cereals, etc.) raise the insulin level in the bloodstream causing a "slowing down" of the metabolism as well as creating potentially dangerous health conditions. Funny how we've all been brought up to sugar being "the reward" isn't it? My only problem is that for a healthy lifestyle we need balance!

Are carbohydrates the enemy? No! Only certain types are because of the over abundance we consume. Many carbs are rich in nutrients our bodies need. They are also a great source of energy for our lives; the trick is consuming the right types. Carbohydrates that are "complex" in configuration take longer to digest; therefore they create a sustained blood sugar level, as they are time released into our system. "Simple" carbs pass right into our bloodstream and force our system to secrete the "anti-fitness" hormone insulin. Complex carbs don't do that and therefore keep our metabolism elevated instead of slowing it down. Some examples of healthier carbs are yams, red potatoes, regular potatoes, brown rice, white rice, green leafy vegetables, plain oatmeal, whole grains and rye bread. Fruits and pasta are fine for maintenance, but for bodyfat reduction moderation is highly encouraged. Worth noting, fruits are considered a simple sugar, but don't create the same insulin surge as other less nutritious sugar sources.

Is protein necessary? How about fats, are they really dangerous? If we are looking to get into great shape we need a certain amount of protein. Without it we won't build and we could even lose muscle tone. That amount varies depending on health factors, age, heredity, goals, activity level and so on. I'll say this, if you're looking to build muscle (that includes basic toning also) you need protein throughout the day. This may vary from 60 grams (at a minimum) for a 120lbs. female looking for some muscle tone to over 350 grams for a male bodybuilder over 225lbs. With the absence of protein muscles cannot develop. Just make sure you balance a high protein diet with a high water intake so there isn't any extra strain placed on your kidneys. We need fat as well. Unsaturated fats are the best such as canola, corn and olive oils. Essential oils like primrose and flaxseed oil are also great for us! Saturated fats such as animal fat, coconut oil and palmseed oil should be taken in moderate amounts only. These are the "bad guys" that can cause us potential harm.

In conclusion weight loss or gain come down to simple mathematics. If you burn more than you take in, then you'll lose and the opposite holds true for a caloric surplus. The key however is not eating less but burning more through proper diet manipulation (eating healthy foods frequently throughout the day) and exercise! Try to keep this complex topic as simple as possible, and don't look for the "quick fix"! Results will happen quickly if done right, but try extreme measures and you'll end right back where you started. Trust me on this one! Look for permanent change and you'll get it! Be smart and good luck.

* Consult your doctor if you have any existing medical condition before starting a new diet or exercise program.


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