Saturday, April 17, 2010

Diet Overhaul, Step-One

Today, I was in another discussion about fat loss. A day doesn't go by without someone asking me about a diet program or how to lose fat. In theory, I think most of us know if we just cut out the junk, we will lose some extra body fat. There is no secret, quick fix. No magical supplement. No fat-burning foods. Just good nutrition, in appropriate doses, consistent over time combined with a good strength training program results in a gradual fat loss.

The problem is our 'toxic environment.' Everywhere you go, there is some sort of sugar-laden, factory-processed food. We need to take conscious steps to actively (and consistently) remove the junk, and make the effort to consume healthier, real foods. You don't have to never consume unhealthy, processed, sugary foods. But, let's be honest, we all love and crave sweetened or processed carbohydrate foods and drinks. And eating these foods increase your cravings for more of them. I would say nine out of ten people don't go more than two days without consuming some.

Going on a diet doesn't work. Even worse, many diet systems sell you expensive (compared to a whole food), processed foods in convenient, reduced serving sizes. I, instead, work with clients to overhaul their diets. It is a process to change. It takes knowledge, time, and commitment. The very things people are looking to circumvent. However, in time, you will find my way highly-effective, flexible, and sustainable.

So, let's get to the first step of my dietary overhaul: remove sweetened beverages. That includes artificially-sweetened beverages, too. Even though they don't have any Calories, the sweet taste can: 1.) increase cravings for sweet foods, which you may eat inconjunction or subsequent to the artificially sweetened beverage. 2.) Cause a rise in insulin levels, which in the presence of no rise in blood sugar, actually will result in a lowering of blood sugar, as a small percent of circulating glucose is shunted into fat cells.

Regularly sweetened beverages can have a ton of sugar in them. Consider a can of Mountain Dew has ten teaspoons of sugar in it! Worse yet, a latte, chocolate milk, or a cup of orange juice can have even more than that!

There is no or very little nutrition in these drinks. Even 100% fruit juice is a bad choice. The amount of sugar (upwards of 10% by volume) is not a good trade-off for some vitamin C or calcium. Eat red, yellow, or orange vegetables or berries instead for these nutrients.

The first step to overhaul your diet is to remove artificially and sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet. These drinks provide miniscule nutrition and a tremendous amount of sugar. Not only will you probably fail to recognize the amount of rapidly-digesting Calories you drank, but the physiological effect of these Calories raise insulin levels, which store more glucose and fatty acids in the fat cells, and stimulate your hunger and cravings for more sugar or processed carbohydrate foods. These easy-to-ingest, quick-absorbing carbohydrates are the essence of 'Bad Calories' and not only contribute to obesity, but are detrimental to your health. High levels of consumption are associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and fatty liver syndrome. Stick to water, teas, unsweetened coffee, and whole milk (yes, not low-fat or skim if you tolerate lactose and casein) and you are on your way to losing body fat and getting healthier.

Step two to follow...


kaitlin said...

why not skim milk?

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

I recommend whole milk because:
1. Most of the nutrients in milk are fat-soluble or fats themselves. Vitamins A, D, E, and K, along with the fatty acids conjugated linoleic acid, butyric acid, and others are found in the very part that is removed. See:

2. Fat is satisfying and filling

3.Think nutrition, not Calories.

I will blog more on full-fat dairy in the future.

Anonymous said...

Are all prepackaged foods bad for you? I've been eating the Amy's Kitchen's organic vegetable meals and have had a good bit of success with my weight loss.

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

Anon- I wouldn't say all packaged foods are necessarily bad. I know we don't always have time to prepare whole foods. Whole, organic, local foods are the best choices, but sometimes packaged foods can be wholesome. The key is to look at the ingredients. How processed are they? What sort of additives and preservatives are in there? How many ingredients are actually in the food food. Finally, do the ingredients look like a recipe or a chemistry experiment?