Beyond the Diet

What You Will Learn:

  1. When Good Fruits Go Bad
  2. When Refined Carbohydrates Are Ok to Eat
  3. Where Dr. Atkins Went Wrong
  4. How Many Meals to Eat per Day

Diet is perhaps one of the most confusing areas of health because there are so many people claiming so many different diets are the “best”. There are more different diets on the market today than ever before. Which has the best formula? Well, this question does not have a cut and dry answer because there is a lot of metabolic variance in our population. Let me give you an example. Fruit is considered very good for you as long as you eat it in the package that nature provides. Generally speaking people do not develop diabetes or get fat from eating fruits. However, if you are diabetic or heavily insulin resistant then it would be in your best interest to limit your fruit intake until your insulin resistance is improved. Not to confuse you further but many diabetics can eat fruit freely without any negative consequences to their blood sugar. The simple point is the diet that works best for you is the diet that works best for you! We can make general statements about what is most likely to be healthy but in the end you must put it to the test for yourself. So let’s start with a review of the tried-and-true principles that appear to apply to most people, we will then speak to the possible exceptions. Remember, as we move into intermediate and advanced principles, we are moving away from cookie cutter suggestions into more fluid and customizable principles:

1. Eat your food in the package nature provides. Simply put, oranges are good, orange juice is not so good. Eat fresh veggies over canned veggies. High fiber grain products generally are healthier than low fiber grain products. Simple enough…le’s move on.

2. Refined carbohydrates are generally bad…most of the time. For most people refined carbohydrates are not useful unless food is scarce. In a world of culinary abundance refined carbs are the most common cause of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. However, there is a place for refined carbohydrates amidst people who workout heavily or take part in competitive sports. When you workout heavily you can quickly deplete your carbohydrate stores in your muscles. During heavy activity, muscle is damaged and requires repair. This repair can not take place until the sugar stores have been replaced and can then fuel the repair process. By taking your refined carbohydrates directly after weight training, when your muscles are most sensitive to insulin, you can enhance recovery from activity, speed muscle repair and decrease soreness. Here is the golden nugget for people who are not competitive athletes, when you intend to have a pasta meal or some other high carb meal, try timing the meal soon after your workout. This will help with recovery and keep your blood sugar from spiking. This is especially helpful if you are lifting weights. So, this means that if you simply refuse to give up your pasta then the second best option is to make a pact with yourself that you will exercise vigorously before having your meal.

3. Eat lean protein. One area where me and the late Dr. Atkins part ways in our protein philosophies is in the quality of the protein in question and the quantity. I do not ascribe to the philosophy that you can eat bacon, butter, high fat beef, etc for every meal and still be healthy. Great sources of protein include lean beef, chicken, eggs and fish. I believe that people should lean towards a raw, vegetable and fruit rich diet. If you eat meat, you must make sure that you make an effort to enhance your intake of living plant foods to help balance your body. I also suggest eating free range meat and eggs whenever possible. So how much meat should you eat? The answer is…it depends. When you look at our closest mammal relatives you see that the apes are primarily vegetarian, although, if a lizard happens to scurry by they may pick it up and toss it in their mouth. They are what is called opportunistic carnivores. I declare myself the same. I try to eat most of my food as raw vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, however, if a filet mignon falls on my plate I will eat that too. I suggest limiting meat intake to one serving or less per day and making sure that we eat lots of fruits, vegetables and healthy nuts. If you are a bodybuilder or on a heavy weight lifting program then you may want to increase this intake. Athletes and fitness buffs should get extra protein from egg whites and whey protein shakes and smoothies to account for their extra needs.

4. Meal Frequency, how often should we eat? This is a common questions, so let’s answer it. From my research I have come to the following conclusion. Generally, most people will be healthiest with small, frequent meals. This is especially the case with people who are working out on a regular basis. If you eat meals with refined carbohydrates then make sure that you limit the portion size and only three of the five or six meals contain refined carbs. You should allow a 4-5 hour period between those refined carb containing meals. This will allow time for the body to process the carbohydrates, metabolize out the insulin and will allow the body time to burn some of those carbs away between main meals.

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