The fitFLEX writers have written extensively in a previous articles about body type and how your own body's type affects
the way that you should eat and train. There are so many different opinions and approaches with respect to dieting and
how it affects performance and appearance that the average person sometimes has difficulty wading through it all and getting
to a place of understanding.
Having spent years evaluating all of the changing viewpoints and methodologies, once can determine what works and what doesn't. Simply put, what works for one person may do very little for another. One of the most enigmatic concepts about diet and nutrition concerns dietary fat. Dietary fat has been made the scapegoat for so much of the overeat syndrome in America that most people are afraid to eat any form or amount of fat.
There are many forms of fat to steer clear of, but to say that fat is bad is somewhat misleading. Fat is a necessary and unavoidable part of nutrition. No one can eat totally fat free, no mailer how conscientious he tries to be. Human beings need fat in order to survive. Without dietary fat we would perish. However, our understanding of the way dietary fat acts on the body and the bodyfat that we carry around in our midsections is somewhat distorted.
You may be surprised to learn that fat is as important a component in the diet as carbohydrate. And carbohydrates are what the mass media recommend for us on a daily basis. So why is carbohydrate considered more important than fat in today's world? Why are carbohydrates perceived as good while fat is considered evil? That's what we have been told because doctors and nutritionists believe that we wouldn't be able to understand the research facts and they don't want to take the time to explain them to us. I think this dilemma can be explained quite simply by recalling that, beginning in the early '80s, carbohydrates were thought to be the single most powerful dietary weapon against many forms of cancer. What wasn't mentioned was the fact that not all carbohydrates are created equal. Starchy, insulin-producing foods like pasta, bread and rice have been hailed as wonder foods when all they are to some people is trouble.
Now that isn't to say that carbohydrates are negative and that people should omit them from their diets, but insulin-producing carbohydrates, like wheat-based foods, pasta and white rice, are catalysts for fat production and fat storage. Dietary fat alone does not make us fat. Often the true culprit is the starchy carbohydrate. Just watch the average fitness-conscious shopper in a grocery store, and you will see his cart filled with low-fat and fat-free items. They are devoid of fat - probably the kind of fat that would be unhealthful if it were ingested. But what those foods have in them, to make up for the lack of fat and consistency, is sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate in its worst form. After six or seven years of access to these products - and plenty more are in production and on their way - our people are as fat as ever because they are laden with carbohydrates.
That is precisely where dietary fat comes into the picture. We are so afraid of fat that we think by eating an ounce of it we will instantly blow up. That isn't true. Many carbohydrates that you are innocently eating at dinner can stimulate much more fat production in one sitting than ingesting a teaspoon of pure dietary fat at each meal throughout the day. If you were to consistently eat a big helping of potatoes or pasta during each evening meal for a period of two weeks, you would most certainly put on more bodyfat than if you were to eat two cups of vegetables along with a tablespoon of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil each night for the same two weeks. In fact, in the first scenario you would probably gain weight, and in the second scenario you would most certainly lose weight, most of it being bodyfat. Hard to believe? Well, let me explain.
A little-known fact is that fat burns in the flame of fat. Fat, taken in the diet without starchy carbohydrates (but vegetables instead), along with a high protein intake, causes the body to burn fat as fuel and produce ketones. Ketones are the body toxins and byproducts that your system throws off when fat is being burned. You don't ever want to maintain a very high level of ketones in the body for extended periods of time because they are hard for the kidneys to process and throw off without a great deal of water. Ideally you want to have ketones present in the bloodstream and urine only briefly, indicating a continual dip into the body's fat stores.
Your fat sources should be both poly-unsaturated and monounsaturated, as opposed to the more dangerous saturated group of fats. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats come from olive oil, grapeseed/canola oil, flax-seed oil, almonds, organic peanut butter and a variety of seeds. Saturated fats are found in meats, some dairy foods, oils normally used in baking and a host of processed foods. The saturated fats are the ones which are harmful to your body, and that turn into stored bodyfat, oxidizing and creating the potential for disease.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are filled with linolenic acid (omega 3 fatty acids) and linoleic acid (omega 6 fatty acids) that are healthful to the body, supplying "lubrication" to joints, skin, hair and teeth. They are the fats that are necessary for a healthy body. If they are carefully ingested, their side effect is that they can promote weight loss at the same time. With these fats you have to take in a daily amount of antioxidants to prevent the body from converting them to bad molecules. Vitamins, A, F, B and C are the primary ones to ingest for good health.
Your diet should be tailored to your body type. The usual determinant is the amount of carbohydrate your body can tolerate throughout the day. Most people are moderately to extremely carbohydrate sensitive. They have created this situation for themselves by eating large amounts of sugar and "empty" carbohydrates, in combination with starch carbohydrates, as the main staple of their existence. Yet they are still told to eat plenty of pasta, potato, white rice and bread. They wonder why they can never quite lose enough bodyfat to appear fit. If these people were to take in less starchy carbohydrate, more cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli), a variety of fruits producing low amounts of insulin, and supplement with grams of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, they would have more energy, less fatigue and a leaner body.
Rarely do you find people who are free of carbohydrate sensitivity today in this country. For them eating starchy carbohydrates causes no reaction whatsoever, other than increased energy levels and a lean body. But this phenomenon is extremely rare. Most of the pro bodybuilders I work with are carb sensitive to some degree because they have gotten overfat at some point in their lives. Extreme weight gains of fat in the off-season have created a dietary time bomb, lessening their chances of being able to eat starchy carbs and stay lean. For them and for my other everyday clients I prescribe two different kinds of diet based on metabolism, their body's history with fat, and what they perceive as their level of carbohydrate sensitivity.
The first diet is based on what the majority of carb-sensitive people can tolerate. The second is based on weight gain and fighting the ravages of a very fast metabolism. Both diets include a form of dietary fat that is usually a combination of monounsaturates and polyunsaturates. I prefer to use an oil like flax seed, which is extremely rich in monounsaturated omega 3 fatty acids and far outweighs the omega 6 fatty acids found in polyunsaturated fat. It isn't the most pleasant tasting of oils out there but, being the highest in omega 3 fatty acids, it is the most effective in producing lean and healthy results. Because flax-seed oil breaks down in heat and light, you can use it only on cold vegetable preparations, like salad, or ingest it directly before a meal.
Fats slow down the body's ability to absorb carbohydrate and process it into excess bodyfat. By taking your fats in before you eat both protein and complex carbohydrate, you enable it to have the greatest effect on weight loss and health.
The main carbohydrate-sensitive diet I recommend to my clients includes a high proportion of protein. Perhaps half comes solely from protein sources, which can include egg whites, low or nonfat dairy (if you can tolerate it), white-meat chicken and turkey, light-flesh fish (already rich in omega 3 fatty acids) like tuna and orange roughy, and the occasional slice of very lean beef. There are plenty of other protein sources, but these are common and easy to locate in your grocery store. You can also meet your protein needs by eating protein powders that come mostly from whey-based preparations.
I recommend mainly carbohydrates from vegetable sources, with the occasional starchy carbohydrate added in. These include broccoli (richest in antioxidants), spinach, cauliflower, salad lettuce, green or red peppers, tomatoes, but carefully excluding squash, beans, peas and corn. Another complex carb that I recommend is oatmeal, as it produces low-level insulin and is safe for a carb-sensitive person to eat. Avoid cream of wheat and cream of rice altogether unless you are the type of person who can tolerate and process them without carb sensitivity. These carbohydrates make up about 30 percent of the diet. Although vegetables have specific carbohydrate gram counts, they usually zero out at the end of the day because of the energy your body expends to digest them. Leafy green vegetables can be eaten in almost unlimited amounts. The more vegetable you eat along with the supplemented fats, the more energy you will feet throughout the day.
I have already outlined the fats that I recommend for supplementation, and they should constitute about 20 percent of the remainder of the daily diet. Remember that one gram of fat contains 9 calories while protein and carbohydrate both contain 4.5 calories per gram. So fat is twice the calorie- dense food that the other two categories are. Keeping that in mind, you must not think of fat as a food equal In proportion to carbohydrate in terms of volume. A good rule of thumb is to ingest approximately one tablespoon of flax-seed oil with each of three or four meals a day If you are eating five or six small meals daily, adjust your oil intake to teaspoons instead.
Some of the starchier carbohydrates are essential for the person who is not carbohydrate sensitive and needs to put on weight. The carb-sensitive diet will not cover all of their needs. A ratio of 40 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrate and 25 percent fat is recommended. This division is more conducive to sustaining weight that may easily be lost through a fast metabolism, and by a slow-oxidizing individual. This person may also eat a bit more red meat than one who is carb sensitive, and can have potatoes and brown rice (instead of white) along with plenty of leafy green vegetables.
Your own body really determines the amount of carbohydrates that you can safely and effectively eat. By experimenting with diet in a disciplined manner, carefully examining the results by looking at how your body responds, you can determine what ratios work best for you. These are guidelines that, for the most part, are effective for the two types of people. The ratios suggested aren't as important as the choice of foods that fill those categories. I advise all of my clients to keep a food journal, at least initially, so that they are able to intelligently determine what is working, with or without me.
Just remember, if you are constantly without energy, fatigued, and holding excess water and bodyfat, even though you are eating what you consider a healthful diet, your choice of carbohydrates may be what is dragging you down. All of the fat that you have been avoiding, properly measured and chosen from good sources, maybe the component that will change the way your body looks and feels in the end.