Sunday, June 06, 2010

Diet for Life

Yesterday, I told you that I would share the information given to me at bootcamp on Friday all about nutrition.  Those of you that have been following this blog are aware that I don't consider myself to be on a diet, rather I focus on healthy eating. In terms of using the word "diet", I actually described it as a bad word.  One thing to remember during this post is that I will be using the word "diet" but it's just going to be used to describe the things that I eat.  The food that I eat each day is my diet - it's not a fad plan that's going to help me lose a bunch of weight only to return to eating junk.

Ok, now that we've cleared that up - we'll talk about how to control your diet so that it can be maintained every day for the rest of your life.  The information I am providing was the information provided to me by the trainers at bootcamp - it's not my opinion, it's professional advice - so PAY ATTENTION!! ;)

Any one that considers carbs or protein to be "the devil" are setting themselves up for failure.  Carbohydrates and protein are necessary for a healthy body.  We'll focus on carbs first.  Have you ever wondered why the word "hydrate" is at the end of carbohydrates?  That's because carbs help your body absorb water - the number one essential that makes your body work.  If you deprive yourself of carbs, you also deprive your body from proper water absorbtion - ultimately leading towards dehydration which can cause headaches, dizziness, etc.  Proper hydration helps energize your body and provides the fuel to run it properly.  This can help lead to more calories being burned during exercise.  If your body doesn't receive an adequate supply of water AND carbs, it will start to store body fat to help provide energy.  In order for carbs to do their job, you also need to be drinking plenty of water.  The recommendation for proper hydration is 100ozs of water a day!!  Now, let's move on to protein.  Protein helps repair and strenghten the muscles in your body.  Without the correct amounts of protein, your muscles begin to break down and fat begins to store around them.  Your muscles will become weak, and you will start to gain body fat.  Seeing a pattern here?  Basically, you will gain more body fat by depriving yourself carbs and protein - which means you will end up eventually gaining more weight.

Let's move on to how much you should be eating.  In order to obtain and keep a healthy body, you need to refuel your body about six times a day.  You should eat a small meal every 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Now, that doesn't mean that you eat 6 full meals a day.  In order to adequately refuel, you need to focus on 6 small meals a day that are focused on small portions.  Each meal should contain protein and carbs as well as a very small amount of fat.  Fat is another essential, although in much smaller amounts.  Fats help your body absorb vitamins and nutrients, so if you are focusing on a fat-free diet - that is very unhealthy to your body.  So, how do you know what the correct amounts of carbs, proteins and fats you should be eating?  Your diet should be made up of 60% carbs, 30% protein, and 10% fat.  That means that each meal should have 2 servings of carbs to one serving of protein.

I asked this question during a post the other day: "How many grams of carbs and proteins should I be eating?"  Well the answer to that question is in the form of formula.  Don't we all love formulas?  Don't worry, those that aren't great at math can do this - it's easy.  You take your desired weight, cut that number in half - and that's the grams of protein you should be eating every day.  The carbs should be pound for pound.  Your head spinning yet?? Let me show you....

My desired body weight is 140lbs.  If I cut that number in half, I get 70.  That means I should be eating 70 grams of protein each day and 140 grams of carbs each day.  Those numbers will help me get to my desired weight, and once I'm there will help maintain that weight. 

Ok, now on to portions.  Portion size is the vital key in maintaining your diet.  The best tool to help with portion control is the palm of your hand.  Each portion of carbs and protein should be about the size of the palm of your hand - not your entire hand - the palm.  When put together, the meal should fit on a small plate.  Now, you probably won't eat a piece of meat and 2 servings of veggies at each meal - but for the meals you do, use your palm as a guide.  A piece of meat should be no more than 4ozs and should fit (with room) into the palm of your hand.  If you eat eggs and toast for breakfast, 2 scrambled eggs and a piece of toast would be the correct portion. 

Lastly, I'm going to touch on suppliments.  Eating six meals a day can be quite difficult, especially to someone who leads an extremely busy lifestyle.  This can't be an excuse.  One mistake that I have been making is grabbing a piece of fruit to eat as my "snacks".  The problem with that - no protein.  An apple has 17 grams of carbs, but no protein.  So, how do I add protein to it?  By using a protein suppliment drink.  You can find protein suppliments in any healthy food store or Wal-Mart - but be careful when making your selections.  When choosing a suppliment, watch how much sugar and fat are in the suppliments.  You can buy protein powder that you can add to juice or water that contain no fat or empty calories.  Protein meal bars are also available.  The best ones that I found are the South Beach Diet meal bars - each bar has 100 calories, 15 grams of carbs, 5 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fat which are the perfect ratios for a meal.  There are other meal bars, but be sure to look at the carb to protein ratios and the fat content.  If a meal bar has 5 grams of protein but 12 grams of fat - STAY AWAY!!  Also remember that you can't eat 6 meal bars a day - that doesn't add up to enough carbs and protein.  A guide is to eat 3 meals a day with 3 "snack size" meals a day.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be staple meals to eat higher amounts of carbs and protein, and the other three meals can have less carbs and protein.

Ok, I think that about sums it up.  I will continue to dish out all of the great tips I learn while in bootcamp - this is a learning process for me, and I want to help pass on the knowledge I gain.

Till next time. ;)

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