The biggest difference I've noticed in my general level of health was when I cut out all refined sugars from my diet. It was a difficult thing to do, but was well worth it.
When I say all forms of refined sugar, I mean all forms. Sugar, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, etc, etc. There are a lot of names for sugar, and lately a lot of "health food" items have been sneaking in sugar by calling it something else.
Read all labels carefully. Avoid anything that is not sweetened exclusively by fruit. Once you do this, you'll find that 80% of food at the grocery store (yes, even health food stores) is out of the question. You'll be forced to eat things like fresh fruits and vegetables, and only the best breads.
It's easiest to make this switch in the summer when there is a lot of access to fruit. I first tried in the winter and only lasted a week. I tried again that summer and have been 100% sugar-free for 3+ years. The only thing I changed about my diet was the simple rule of no refined sugar, and my weight dropped 30 pounds over the course of the next year, and I stopped getting drowsy during the day.
If there is any single change in diet I recommend, it's cutting out all refined sugars. It's not easy but it's worth it.
It wasn't the sugar that caused you weight gain or loss.
What's important to here is that the composition of diet is going to affect those two numbers. Isocaloric diets (same energy in) with different composition will result in different changes in body composition, because they will have effects on energy out. (add: Even this is horribly oversimplified. Even diets with the same energy in AND out will have different results, because they affect which form of stored energy in the body that energy out number comes from)
No matter how much sheer force of will you put into wanting to burn calories, the amount of energy you have available to spend is mediated by processes that behave very differently depending on the type of food consumed.
Or, eating big hunk of rock candy is to eating a piece of fruit as eating a bunch of cocaine is to chewing coca leaves.
Also note that refining sugar from fruit can lead to the same kind of bad sugar. But if you're eating it in a whole piece of fruit, you're also getting all the other good things that come with fruit so it's a lot better.
The underlying reasoning makes sense to me - homo sapiens have existed for the 200,000 years (and our various ancestors for millions of years before that), and for the first 190,000 years we lived on and evolved with hunter-gather diets.
It wasn't until 10,000 years ago that agriculture was invented and our nutritional intake, lifestyle, culture, economics, and everything else changed with it. But physiologically we haven't fully overcome millions of years of adaptation to the hunter-gatherer diet.
Paleo is about constraining your diet to something as close to the hunter-gatherer diet as possible - no processed sugars or grains, but rather meat/fish/poultry, nuts, berries, roots, vegetables that don't require agriculture to obtain, some fruits, etc.
A few benefits off the top of my head - I'm less hungry, more satisfied, and have more sustained energy throughout the day, with less food. I feel 'cleaner' and healthier, and have almost no gas (the biggest revelation). And I've never had a terribly unhealthy junkfood diet, but Paleo is still a noticeable improvement.
You can also cheat and go 70%-80% Paleo, instead of strictly 100%, and still derive some benefits (enough to sell you on it), although 100% Paleo is exponentially better.
There's also no crazy initiation period like there is with Atkins and South Beach, you just go read a book about what constitutes Paleo food, and start integrating it into your diet and replacing non-paleo foods at your own pace.
I highly recommend checking it out:
It's also the easiest* food/health hack that I've ever experienced.
*easiest: I don't get food cravings, can still eat amazing food (try Vietnamese without the rice/noodles), and am actually enjoying exercising 30 - 45 mins a day.
Go Paleo/Primal, do a little exercise, eat bacon, gain washboard abs.
(although that last statement is a little flippant, a paleo lifestyle will help reduce a number of inflammatory diseases, and other issues associated with lectins, omega 3/6 imbalances, etc)
Lost 5kg in a month.
There are any number of ways to get your food. Shrink wrapped from a bulk supplier is only one of them.
Gather empirical data if you are skeptical. Try drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day, even if you're not thirsty. You'll feel more awake, you will be less prone to headaches, your eyes won't feel painful and dried out by the end of the day and you'll start to notice many other subtle benefits that add up to a big net positive in terms of how you feel daily.
1. Eat several small mini-meals all day instead of 3 big ones. Aim for 6-8 per day. This keeps your metabolism and energy level much more even throughout the day. If you eat your last one before 8pm you may notice losing a few pounds in your sleep as well.
2. Yerba Mate. Magical stuff. Much more sustained and focused energy for a longer period of time than coffee. Once it wears off you don't crash like coffee either.
-- Red meat.............Fish (and white meat if fish is too expensive)
-- White bread........Whole grain bread. A popular switch...make it.
-- Soda....................Tea? Or at least 100% fruit juice.
-- Peanut butter.......Natural peanut butter. Skippy natural is as good as normal.
-- Sugar...................Nothing. You don't need it.
4. Start reading labels. Remember: Not all calories are created equal. Look for how many of the total carbs of an item are from sugar. Look how many total calories are from fat.
Look for these 4-letter words...
-- Hydrogenated oil
-- Artificial _____
-- >4 syllables and you can't pronounce it (Yeah, someone's going to disagree. I'm just saying it's a rule of thumb)
Those are just a few I use daily. I hope some other people add to this list.
Why drop red meat? Eat more fish sure.
White bread -- get rid of the grains altogether. And, no, whole wheat bread isn't better for you:
So if we compare white bread to table sugar sucrose, white bread raised
blood sugar more. If we compare a whole wheat bread to white bread,
whole wheat bread raises blood sugar higher than white bread. And so
much higher than table sugar, and by the way, much higher than many
standard candy bars. So a Snickers bar is far better for you from a blood
sugar standpoint than two slices of whole wheat bread. So the reason for
that is the unique structure of carbohydrate in wheat. -- Dr. William Davis
Soda -- drink Tea, or water. Eat fruit. Fruit Juice isn't any better.
Peanut butter -- Replace it with actual nuts or nut butter if you must.
Sugar... Hey, we agree on something.
You don't have to drop red meat altogether, but I have for the most part (not to say I don't still enjoy a good burger from time to time). Red meat increases the risk of heart disease and doesn't provide the same nutritional value as fish.
As for the whole grain, I think you are only getting a piece of the difference between whole grain and bleached. Whole, unprocessed grains do raise your blood sugar higher than processed grains, which is actually a good thing if it doesn't quickly cause a blood sugar spike. That's what bleached/processed flour does. It causes a quick spike in blood sugar, so in that respect processed flour is more like a candy bar. Whole grains also provide more fiber, complex carbs, and nutrients that processed grains have had removed. In this article Dr. Weil went into some depth about whole grains and their glycemic index: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA400088.
And the fruit juices, well yeah it's just a temporary substitute. Now I only drink tea and water, but I used to have much more of a sweet tooth that I would please with fruit juice. Have you ever seen the experiment where someone puts a nail in a cup of soda and another in a cup of fruit juice? The nail is eaten away surprisingly quickly in the soda.
Most of my dietary changes started after reading "8 Weeks to Optimum Health" which I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to truly improve their health.
Other great tips here: https://www.defrancostraining.com/ask-joe-test/45-nutritions...
Recently I've found some shops carrying sunflower seed butter. Tastes great and sunflower oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.
My favorite way to drink it is sweetened with some sugar and then 5 or 6 drops of lemon juice added. It completely changes the flavor. Several of my non-tea-drinking friends love it when I prepare it like this.
Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to gain weight? Are you just trying to maintain?
I personally have not hacked my nutrition. I have used common sense.
If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to burn more energy than you consume.
Do you want to gain weight? Perhaps by lifting weights even, you will need to consume more energy than your body burns.
In terms of nutrient partitioning, just don't be an idiot about it. Experiment, find out what works best for you and you can stick with. Use common sense.
Yes, there are better foods than others in terms of nutrients, satiety, etc. However, No food needs to be eliminated or restricted. It will only set you up for failure and the ability to be consistent. There are no bad foods and there are no magic foods or ingredients that will cause weight gain or loss (for example, sugar causing weight gain).
If you want to lose weight and you have estimated you burn x calories, then eat less than x on a daily average or weekly basis. Do you want some ice cream some night before bed? Sure, go ahead, just fit it in your caloric goals, using common sense. Just don't eat excessive amounts going over your x allotment and you will still lose weight. You can even make calories a weekly goal and cycle them, workout days be higher than say a rest day. Just use your weekly average.
If you want to gain weight you will have to eat more than you consume. Using the same types of guidelines and common sense.
No one is the same. There are no magic ingredients, foods, etc that will cause gain or loss. You will need to experiment to find out what works best for you though (mood, satiety, appetite, attitude, etc).
Define your goal, keep general track of your progress (you don't need to be anal about it), and be consistent about it.
For example, I had started going grey in my early thirties and found that PABA deficiency and adrenal stress are two things known to promote grey hair. I treated the grey hair as a symptom of an underlying problem. I have less grey hair than I had ten years ago. I also suffered RLS (restless leg syndrome) for years and read some article at some point indicating that it could be due to iron and b-complex deficiency. For many years, any time I got RLS, I would take b-complex and then if that didn't resolve it I would follow up thirty minutes later with iron. Treating my RLS symptomatically began resolving more serious problems by addressing the underlying root causes and at the age 40 I suddenly began having regular menstrual periods for the first time in my life because I stopped being severely anemic. I had never been told there was a real problem with me having irregular periods. It was "normal" for my family, no big. Well, turns out "normal for my family" isn't actually proof of no problem.
I also tried taking things out of my diet that, by observation, appeared to be causing me issues and then researched after the fact why that might be so as to better understand it. One thing I eliminated early on was peanut oil. Turns out it is very pro-inflammatory and my main medical issue has a very significant inflammatory component.
I no longer take boatloads of supplements. I have figured out what foods support good health for me and what foods are a serious problem given my medical condition. I make sure I routinely get adequate quantities of those foods that meet my needs well and fairly stringently avoid those foods that cause problems and keep a keen eye on limiting foods that are tolerable but not ideal (as too much of such foods do start causing issues after a while). I got off a long list of drugs and I now also do a lot of walking for exercise. I have the best quality of life in terms of my health that I've ever had.
This is the part conventional “wisdom” doesn’t get: saturated fat in the diet doesn’t directly translate to saturated fats in the blood. It’s all how it’s metabolized. Saturated fat levels in the blood are influenced by the prevalence of carbs in the diet and the subsequent carb-generated lipogenesis process. -- http://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat/
I'd also recommend the schedule that I use, which is to eat a normal dinner, and then skip the following breakfast and lunch, and then eat dinner at your usual time. You get 24 hours of no food, but it doesn't feel like a whole day. You also get a beneficial side effect: if you have no food intake in the morning, you don't get nearly as hungry later in the day. It's much harder to eat breakfast and then skip lunch and dinner than to eat dinner and skip the next two meals. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day will also help alleviate the "empty" feeling.
I'm not a doctor, this is not medical advice, consult your healthcare provider before undertaking any diet or exercise routine, blah blah.
If you want to try it, it might be better to ease into it, for example try having some fruit instead of no food at all.
That's a roundabout way of saying that I do a lot of exercise. I can't recommend this highly enough for so many reasons, but to answer your question, one particular benefit is that I've found this regulates my appetite to the point where I eat only the calories that I need.
I just ran my first marathon and it felt GREAT. Totally worth 4.5 months of training.
Do your own research, and give it some thought.
(You might start by looking into "Paleo." You will see quacks there (as elsewhere) but generally speaking, its proponents seem better grounded in scientific understanding.)
"...a Pubmed search using the keywords “Paleolithic diet” [returns about] 67 hits. Of those 67 hits only 9 were papers that involved actual human or animal application of the diet, or even discussion of same... Nine papers of poor quality and not a single clinical trial demonstrating reduced morbidity or mortality"
Which is the 3rd part in this series:
* Vegetarian Adventists tend to have similar health outcomes as Mormons, who are not vegetarian but do abstain from alcohol and drugs and have strong sense of community
* Recent re-analysis of the Adventist Health Studies show the fish eaters – not the vegans or vegetarians – have the lowest relative risk for all-cause mortality (0.78 versus 0.89 for lacto-ovo vegetarians)
* Study found that non-vegetarian Adventists eat more doughnuts, drink more coffee, and eat more eggs than the vegetarians
* Researchers’ conclusion: “Among Seventh-day Adventists, vegetarians are healthier than nonvegetarians but this cannot be ascribed only to the absence of meat.”
“Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists” by Gary E. Fraser, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70 No. 3
I eat almost completely vegetarian (Indian) which is all home cooked so I can control the type of oil, the amount, and all other variables to make sure it stays healthy. Plenty of restaurants take healthy dishes and make them unhealthy...
I drink about 14-21 Oz. of water before eating anything (when I had a metric water bottle, I would try for a little more than a liter - I don't know if those volumes are even comparable).
Every Sunday, I make 1-1.5 pounds of dried beans or lentils for the week, according to recipes I found online . For breakfast, lunch A, and lunch B, I eat about 3 large spoonfuls of this, plus an egg, plus a lightly toasted corn tortilla (the tortilla keeps me sane, if you can skip it more power to you).
For my evening meal, I eat pretty much whatever I feel like making for myself. Practically, this means that I cycle through chile colorado, chile verde, pad thai, pad kee mao, green curry, and the occasional random thing I feel like making myself (what can I say, I'm a creature of habit). This probably isn't optimal, since I use all sorts of sugars and rice noodles and red meat and stuff, but I don't eat much (in large part because of the 20 Oz. of water I just chugged) and it doesn't seem to have any major adverse effects. There's often some sort of salad type deal in there too.
I only eat out socially. If I'll be eating alone, I pack myself the kind of lunch I described earlier. I also don't eat frozen meals of any kind. I don't eat cheese, and I only eat bread for my evening meal (if you can cut the bread entirely, more power to you. I just love bread and figure I can eat a slice or two at dinner and it'll be OK). I eat a cookie or two after lunch, but never anything sweet unless it's directly after a meal (itself directly after 20 Oz. of water).
I also intermittently take fish oil, glucosamine, and some random brand of one-a-days that I bought.
Unfortunately, my attitude towards this is that of an optimization solver and not a scientist, so I really can't disentangle the effects of e.g. not eating bread and e.g. exercise, but I'm pretty sure that if you just don't pay anyone else to prepare your food you're already taking a giant step in the right direction.
One big practical effect is that I've put a giant damper on my appetite. The amount of food I can eat in one sitting is probably half the amount of food I typically ate in one sitting two years ago, much less the amount of food I could, if pressed, eat in one sitting two years ago.
I only stuck to this seriously for about 5-6 months out of the year (the first 2-3 and the last 2-3), and I'm 40 pounds lighter than I was at my December 28 physical and I feel like a million bucks compared to how I felt then. I'd have probably knocked off 50-55 if I'd kept it up through the summer months. Well, that's what 2012's for!
My tip is to eat double-fiber bread. Also, it's generally expected that vitamin D recommendations will be increased significantly. I think they're around 400iu now, and likely to be set somewhere in the 1,000 - 5,000 range.