Monday, April 18, 2011

Food Rules 2.0: Updated Nutritional Strategies for Long-Term Fat Loss and Health

Last year, I developed my Food Rules to help clients improve their diets.  Prior to that, I would give clients personalized recommendations for Calorie and macronutrient intake.  It worked, for a while.  I found, like most of the research on diets shows, most people are horrible at adhering to any diet.  They may have some initial success, but after a even several months, they return to where they started.  I realized clients needed a more flexible nutritional strategy or framework, not a diet.  This was the birth of my Food Rules.

My Food Rules are a five-step guide to provide a flexible, long-term guide to healthy eating.  It is not simply a restriction of Calories, as this isn't always a practical long-term solution for most people.  My Food Rules are strongly supported by research of the last five years (including showing saturated fat intake is not associated with heart disease, grains can be addicting, and higher protein is satiating).  My Food Rules help you choose foods, not just count Calories and grams of fat, carbs, and protein.  They are also flexible and don't demand perfection.  I encourage you to break the Food Rules every tenth meal.  That is right, regular cheat meals.  Why?  Eating is and never will be simply pouring energy and nutrients into your body.  Eating has a huge social and psychological aspect that cannot be ignored.  So enjoying some home-made cookies or a pint of Ale every once in a while is encouraged.  But it won't knock you off the Food Rules wagon because you know it is part of the bigger picture.  A 80 or 90% adherrance rate over 12 months is spectacular and will offer significant results compared to 100% adherrance for eight weeks (usually followed by complete abandonment of the entire changes in your diet). 

My Food Rules, like most healthy eating programs work best in conjunction with exercise, especially strength training and higher intensity/shorter duration spurts of exercise (long, slow endurance exercise is good, but by itself provides inferior results).   As with my exercise training programs, my goal for you is to enjoy the process and for you to keep up these lifestyle changes forever.  I don't offer four or six week maximal fat loss programs.  And because of that, some people don't train with me.  There are many, many trainers that do offer that.  That is fine.  I have seen too many people go all-out for four weeks, just to never hear from them again until the following fat or fatter than when they first approached me.  I have had numerous clients make huge changes in body composition, but it was because they get it.  It is a long-term lifestyle change.  And they are still training with me, two, three, and four years later (I have only been in business for myself for five years).  They have maintained their health and physique improvements, not yo-yoing up and down like the average American. 

What is new?  Well, as in any scientific field, we continue to learn more about nutritional science.  In fact, the last five years has been very interesting.  And, that is what I want to add to the five simple Food Rules steps.  I want to give clients who have a pretty good grasp on using my Food Rules, a little more powerful information to make eating simpler- like it should be.  When eating becomes simpler and easy, long-term adherrance improves.  If nutritonal counselling takes hours to do, how easy is that for a client to absorb and apply?  Not very. 

Food Rules 2.0

Preface:  Eat a variety of whole, least-processed, real animal, marine, and plant foods 90% of the time, when you are hungry, while you are sitting and relaxed, off a small plate.  Eat with family or friends.  Enjoy the food.  Follow the Food Rules everytime you eat (accept when you enjoy a cheat food item- umm, ice cream).  There is no Calorie or macronutrient counting, but usually meals are approximately: low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and moderate in protein (compared to conventional recommendations).  Consequently, total Calorie content is significantly less than the typical American diet.  Additionally, it is highly satiating and satisfying, and can be kept up forever.

1.  Avoid Sugar and Artificially-Sweetened Foods and DrinksYour body can't handle large or even moderate amounts of sugar.  The only time sugar (in a moderate amount) is tolerated well is immediately after a strenuous workout (as muscle and liver glucose-transporting receptors and glycogen-replenishing enzymes are very active during this period).  You could use this window of time (up to 2 hours post-workout) to eat a serving or two of sugar or refined carbohydrates (this is the only time to eat your Cocoa Crispies).  People who are more insulin resistant (waist greater than 38 inches, carry most of their fat in their abdomen, or a high triglyceride/HDL ratio) should still keep sugar/refined carbs low even during the post workout window. 

Stick to water, coffee, tea (possibly some milk if tolerated) all other times.  Avoid juices, sodas, diet sodas, and energy drinks.

2.  Limit Grains To Little or None, Choose the Least Processed:  Most of the grains found in American supermarkets are processed flour.  While 100% whole wheat and bran provide fiber and other nutrients, some people would benefit from eating them very infrequently because they still provide a concentrated load of carbohydrates.  Fruits and vegetables provide more nutrients per equal weight or Calories.  The lower carbohydrate load from vegetables and low-starch fruits will benefit those who are insulin resistant (waist greater than 38 inches, carry most body fat in the abdomen, or a high triglyceride/HDL ratio). 

Think of a carbohydrate concentration continuum (vegetables--fruit--whole grains--refined grains--sugar).  Choose more "diluted carb" sources from the left of the continuum over the right.

3.  Prioritize  Protein Every Time You Eat:  Protein is an essential nutrient, especially if you are performing strenuous exercise.  It also is very satiating.  Eat a serving each meal, it will make you feel full quickly and you will feel less hungry during subsequent meals.   Choose from a variety of protein sources (such as animal, marine, and plant), as they all offer different nutritional profiles, such as content of: vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids.  How much?  It should take you 10-15 bites to eat all of the protein-containing foods each meal. 

4.  Eat Naturally-Occuring Fat: Don't fear fat.  Every time you eat, choose foods (again, unprocessed animal, marine, or plant sources) that have a significant source of fat.  Without sugar or processed carbohydrates, they are satiating and self-limiting.  Fat has been demonized for decades, but more and more research shows that (without processed carbohydrates and sugar) it is not bad, even saturated fat.  Diets high in fat (and low in carbohydrate) are associated with improved blood lipids (increased HDL and decreased triglycerides).  Fat has several other positive biological roles.  Most naturally-occuring fat sources (animal, marine, or plants) are a mixture of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats. 

The only fats you should avoid are processed plant oils, usually found in processed foods and margarine.  These contain higher levels of omega-6 and trans-unsaturated fats, which are linked to several health problems. 

5.  Eat As Much Vegetables, Fruit, or Berries You Want Each Meal:  These foods provide a ton of nutrients, fiber, bulk, and water.  They have a very low concentration of carbohydrates.  They are a good choice for those who are insulin-resistant.  The best choices are freshly-picked, local, and raw.  However, often cooked or frozen versions are still fairly nutritious. 

1 comment:

Amy said...

So I guess the Nacho Chips and Cheese that I had from a concession stand last night isn't part of the food rules?