Biochemical Individuality – because you are
Many have heard the old cliché “one size fits all” and have probably used it in one context or another? However, in nutrition, this saying, as with many others such as “if a little is good, more is better”, is not true. Each person is individually and emphatically different from another, e.g., gender, height, weight, age, bone structure, muscles, organs, nerves, cells, etc. Thus, the nutritional program for another individual will not necessarily work well for you. A good nutrition program requires a great deal of thought and planning; it must be personal. This does not mean diets; diets do not work.
Tip: You must change your eating habits to good ones to have a good nutritional program.
There are several ways of designing a nutrition program; with a little learning and planning, you can devise a great program of your own and, without spending large amounts of money for nutrition seminars in the process. In chapter 4, I have done this for you. Before we get there, let’s learn a little more about the why and how.
Fast (Junk) Food versus Personally Prepared Food
Fast foods or “junk” foods are not a good source of food because the nutritional values supplied by these foods are neither correct nor balanced. Typically, the values of nutrients given in these foods are an average, so you never really know the quantity. Also, the nutritional qualities of these foods are generally very low, making them nutritionally incomplete. Most fast foods have very little protein, the fats are processed (partially hydrogenated fats and thus, poor for the body), and the carbohydrates are mostly sugars that cause the body’s insulin levels to “sky rocket.” Spikes in the insulin level causes quick pick-up like the early morning high after eating a sugary breakfast; they depress the body’s fat burning metabolism and induce midday drowsiness. The only real solution to this dilemma is to purchase and prepare your own food. As an analogy, would you let someone borrow your car for one year? It is very likely that they will not care for it the same way you would and when it is returned, it also will likely not be in the best condition. If you cannot trust someone with your car, why would you trust someone with your personal nutrition? It is much more important.
Take the time to feed your body properly with good food, no matter how busy you are. Proper nutrition will make the difference between having average or truly exceptional performance.
Tip: Prepare some nutritious quick snacks and meals on the weekend for the time-crunched week ahead. For example, broiled chicken and broccoli – store in air-tight containers and take one with you for work, etc.
Meal Frequency – 2 meals per day versus 6 meals per day
A primary neglect of most is that of not eating enough meals, i.e., eating meals frequently enough. This is termed meal frequency, which has been used in the athletic and body-building industry for decades, but has only recently been more discussed for the average individual. I will illustrate why meal frequency is important. Most people eat breakfast and a huge dinner and that is all. They simply do not take the time to feed the body throughout the day. When you eat breakfast and then do not eat again for 6 to 12 hours, most of the nutrients are stored as fat. This is because you have conditioned your body and it “knows” it is not going to get any more food for awhile. As a built in safety mechanism, most of the food is therefore stored as fat, hopefully to be used later. To make matters worse, while the body is working or exercising without food, muscle tissue is cannibalized, i.e., eaten by the body for needed energy. So, you lose lean muscle mass, which results in less fat burning capability. This is because the body can burn protein more easily than fat. Ultimately this will cause weight gain. This is one reason why so many people have difficulty losing weight.
I recently spoke with a friend (Jeanne) at a medical office who was eating about 1,000 calories per day and even though she was following the meal frequency method, she was gaining weight. Why? Because of starving her body; she should have been eating about 1,600 calories per day due to her desired weight. Because she ate so little and only in two meals, her body responded by storing much of the food she ate as fat and she couldn’t lose weight.
Those who do not eat well also commonly complain about injuries, chronic fatigue, lack of fat loss, and poor muscle growth. Meal frequency is the simple answer to these problems.
You should eat 5 or 6 meals per day (I recommend 6). By doing this, you trigger many positive factors that will increase energy, burn fat, increase lean muscle mass, raise body metabolism, and more importantly, increase recovery rate – it will just help you feel better. The nutritional goal is not to eat 6 huge meals per day, but to eat 6, small meals throughout the day. The first meal will be early in the day (do not skip breakfast). A good breakfast will raise your body’s metabolism—all other meals should follow about 2-3 hours apart. The later you have your first meal, the slower the body metabolism will be to that point. Meal frequency will generally be shorter between meals in the morning and further apart in the afternoon. For the morning, frequency will be about 1.5 to 2 hours and for the afternoon, 2.5 to 3 hours (see table 2.2 as an example). What you are doing is spreading your calorie intake more evenly throughout the day rather than consuming it from 1-2 large meals. This makes it easier to control weight.
Tip: Don’t believe the “you can eat anything you want” diet quackery. Science and millions of people who have tried such diets have proven this wrong. Weight maintenance is all about balancing calories.
Good luck in your 2018 resolutions (portions of this article were extracted from Nutrition Made Simple).