Answers to Your Top 10 Diet
Dilemmas By Steve Edwards
From Team Beachbody - Click here for resources, tools and
information to help you to reach your health, fitness and positive lifestyle
1. Do I need supplements to lose
Supplements are often misunderstood.
Most of this comes from false advertising, but some of it is legit. A
supplement is generally a nutrient that you get in your diet in a condensed
form. However, it can also be something more akin to a drug attempting to fly
under the FDA radar. But unless you're hangin' around the bench press at your
local iron facility, chances are you're never going to hear of this type of
"supplement." As a general rule, they are safe and effective when used
Now we need to define "effective." You
definitely don't need supplements in order to lose weight and get fit. And no
supplement will get you healthy and fit unless your lifestyle is healthy and
fit. That being said, a proper dietary supplemental strategy can definitely aid
you in losing weight, especially when you're on a diet.
When you begin to exercise, your body needs
more nutrients in order to recover. If you are trying to lose weight, you're
probably feeding your body fewer calories. This is where supplements can really
help you out. By adding nutrients in a condensed form, you can ensure that your
body has ample fuel to recover while you are restricting calories. This can be
a huge advantage when trying to lose weight.
Conversely, those trying to gain weight have
the same issuesgetting enough nutrients from food in order to build mass.
It's the same deal. Add enough nutrients to optimally recover and your results
2. Shouldn't I eliminate carbs from
No. There are only three
types of nutrient-rich caloric sources: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
These need to make up around 100 percent of your daily calories and all have a
purpose in your diet. Carbs are for energy. Without them, your body is limited
in its capacity for not only athletics but for brain function. The amount of
carbs you eat should be directly proportional to how much activity you do. At
rest, your body probably needs you to eat between 30 percent and 40 percent of
its calories from carbohydrates to function at a base level. Assuming that you
do some moving around during the day, that number will rise. When exercising
all day long, your body will probably need 70 percent of its calories to come
from carbs. Therefore, your daily intake of carbs should range from around 35
percent up to 70 percent, with most of us falling somewhere in between. These
should be the most variable source of calories in your diet.
Here's something simple to consider. Your
body stores fats and proteins in your body's tissue. Only a small percentage of
carbs are "stored" by the body in the liver and blood and they must be burned
off. Eat carbs that you'll burn. No more, no less.
3. Doesn't eating fat make me
Dietary fat should not be confused with body fat!
They are two entirely separate things. Remember, we can only eat proteins,
fats, and carbs, and they all serve a function. Dietary fats are essential for
health and proper function of your bodily functions. Without them, your body
will break down and you'll get sick.
What's important is that you get the right
types of dietary fat. The wrong types of fat are saturated and trans fats and
the stuff you find in animal products and junk foods. Good fats are found in
nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and other plant sources in raw form. They should
make up between 20 percent and 35 percent of your daily calories, which doesn't
mean that you'll have between 20 percent and 35 percent body fat!
Fats are also dense. They have more than
twice the calories of proteins and carbs, 9 calories per gram compared to 4. So
you don't need to eat a lot of fat in order to get enough. But you need to eat
some. Choosing low- or nonfat meats and dairy products is a good idea. Get your
fats from plant sources.
4. What does 40/30/30
This is a percentage of carbohydrates,
proteins, and fats that your diet should consist of made popular by The Zone
diet. When you see a figure like this, it's usually stated in that order and
refers to a type of eating plan. Like I said before, the percentage of carbs is
what should slide the most. 40/30/30 is a good percentage for someone either
trying to lose weight or not highly active. A more active person's diet might
be 50/25/25. Someone riding the Tour de France might be closer to 70/15/15,
because they're burning about 1,000 calories of carbs per hour during the race.
5. Should I try
Many nutritionists don't recommend fasting
because you don't get your recommended daily nutrients. I am not of this mold.
People have been fasting ever since we've recorded human activity. I think it's
a great way to keep your body regulated and minimize cravings. Since most of us
eat more calories than we need, our bodies are always digesting. Fasting is a
good way to allow your body to finish this process and flush all the excess
junk in your system out of your system. Many fasts are called a "flush" and
come with concoctions that aid this process. They can help but your body will
flush itself anyway. But a guided fast usually ensures that it's somewhat
time-tested and, hence, safe.
One thing to keep in mind is that you can't
exercise much during a fast. Sans fuel, your body cannot recover from the
breakdown of exercise and you'll do more harm than good. Therefore, long-term
fasts are not recommended for fitness. They are usually spiritual journeys more
than anything else. But you can fast one day per week without problems. Just
make it your rest day.
6. Are protein bars and shakes good
for me and how often should I eat them?
These are called "food supplements" and are
basically condensed foods, like a supplement that you eat. They are designed,
generally, for three situations. One is to add protein to one's diet without
the additional fat and calories usually found in meat sources, which is
important for those on a restricted-calorie diet. Second, they are easy and
quick to eat, making them an easy choice for people on the go. Third, they can
add dense calories for those attempting to gain mass who need to recovery from
highly intense exercise.
That's it. They're just food, basically, and
you could live off of a diet of protein bars and shakes provided you made sure
that you covered your nutritional requirements (which would require some
homework). This isn't a practical or fun idea for most of us, which is why we
call them food supplements.
7. I don't like to cook. Which
frozen foods are good for me?
Learning to read food labels is one of the most
important steps in your transition to a healthy lifestyle. Most frozen foods
are awful. Some, like Weight Watchers, etc., are pretty good. There are now
many new and healthy frozen food companies joining the market as well, but the
only way to tell is by reading the label.
The big offender in prepared meals tends to
be sodium. If you eat a lot of frozen food, it's easy to get 10 times your
daily allowance of sodium. And, by the way, like carbs, your sodium needs vary
greatly with exercise. You lose sodium as you sweat. The RDA is set at a random
2,500 mg a day but you'll need more if you're sweating a lotyou can lose
over 1,000 mg an hour in warm conditionsand less if you don't. About 500
mg a day will run your standard body functions.
8. What is fiber, why do I want it,
and where do I get it?
Fiber is the indigestible part of a plant
and essential for regulating your digestive system, eliminating waste products,
and regulating your cholesterol levels. This is a good reason to make sure that
you get plenty of fruit, veggies, and whole grains in your diet, which should
consist of 25 to 40 grams of fiber a day. Remember that juices and processed
grains lose their fiber. You need to eat whole foods.
9. Is caffeine okay to lose weight?
How about Diet Coke and stuff?
Caffeine is a natural diuretic and
energy booster. Therefore, its effect on your diet and weight loss will be
positive given all other factors surrounding it don't hurt you. First of those
could be loss of sleep. Sleep is extremely important as your body does most of
its healing and rebuilding during this time. If caffeine affects your sleep,
that will offset all of its positive effects. Next are its additives. The
things we tend to mix with coffee or tea, like sugar, cream, and other assorted
flavor enhancers are generally all terrible for you and highly caloric.
Next is the diet soft drink question. Here
caffeine is mixed with a blend of phosphates, acids, and other non-caloric
goodies designed to give you a rush. The downside is the alteration of your
body's pH level, which affects your ability to absorb nutrients. Habitual diet
soda drinkers generally lose weight when they get off the stuff, showing there
is more to weight loss than calories alone. If your body can't use nutrients,
it's malnourished, no matter what you eat. So messing with your pH level by
drinking diet soft drinks is generally not in your best interest.
10. What's with all the hippie
stuff, like organic and raw foods? Should I be a vegetarian?
Certainly, obesity would be less of a
problem if everyone were vegetarian. But being a healthy vegetarian isn't a
totally brainless activity either. Many vegetarians eliminate meat but don't
alter the rest of their diet and opting for only fries and a Coke and dropping
the Big Mac is not a positive trade in your diet. Meat is easy because it's
loaded with nutrients and plenty of protein. It's also loaded with calories,
cholesterol, and saturated fat which are direct links to obesity and heart
Organic is just a labeling process that
usually means the food has been tampered with lessa good thing. While
difficult to do, a raw diet will ensure that your foods are less tampered with.
Of particular interest here are enzymes that help you break down and utilize
the nutrients for foods. Cooking and processing destroys these, which is the
best argument for a raw diet.
While all of these things are great, all
require a fair bit of work. You need to understand a bit about nutrition, and
you should, too, in my opinion. I mean, it's the most direct link you have to
living a healthy life, why not put a little time into it?
The best solution, for even the laziest of
us, is to make sure that your diet includes a lot of raw whole foods, many from
plant sources, and to try and buy organic when you have the chance. If you just
do this, you'll be a lot healthier and can even avoid being labeled a hippie as