The healthiest foods are the most nutritionally dense ones and also the most satiating, which blunts hunger. Vitamin A helps maintain vision and skin growth, iron is needed for the production of red blood cells, a complete amino acid profile helps build muscle, and essential fatty acids are required for brain functioning. High quality foods sustain and promote life, as well as regulate weight management.
Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are. Jean Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826)
Plant and animal sources are the densest macronutrient and micronutrient sources. When combined, both sources will fulfill the daily nutritional requirements in fewer calories.
Vegetables and fruit are abundant with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Along with vitamins and minerals, meats cover protein and fat requirements. Essential fats and oils aid with the bioavailability of crucial vitamins and minerals, such as the commonly deficient iron.
A diet rich in meats, eggs, fish, vegetables, and fruits have been known to contribute to weight loss, prevent cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, acne, and tooth decay. Many physical and mental health ailments can be prevented or alleviated.
Vegetables and berries are extremely low in calories. Contrary to popular belief, meats, seafood and eggs can be relatively low in energy density as well.
While added fats and oils are very high in energy density, small amounts for cooking or flavour goes a long way.
Protein is the most satiating source, with fiber and water also contributing to satiety. Animal (protein) and plant (fiber and water) sources reduce appetite and hunger, promoting the feeling of fullness to prevent overeating.
Hyperpalatable and easily-consumable products that are sweet, salty, or fried are generally nutrient-poor, high in calories, and easy to overconsume. Calories and satiety are important variables for weight management.
Modern diseases such as obesity and the metabolic syndrome, along with cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, are linked to the Western diet, which largely consists of the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates and high omega-6 seed oils. Consuming nutrient-poor food sources contribute to overeating and addictive behaviours.
While overconsuming empty calories promote malnutrition and obesity, being underweight and unhealthy is the result of malnutrition by consuming fewer calories.
Sugar, made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, is a source of empty calories, and is particularly prevalent in junk food. Sugar is a contributing factor to diabetes, the obesity epidemic, high blood pressure, and raised triglycerides. Sugar also contributes to cancer growth. Eliminating added sugar from your diet will significantly improve your health.
Many seemingly innocuous "low-fat" products compensate with added sugar. Examples include barbecue sauces, ketchup, fruit drinks, yogurt, peanut butter, dried fruit, tomato sauce, salad dressing, gravy, seasoning mix, and granola.
Omega-6 fatty acids found in polyunsaturated seed oils are commonly consumed through fried foods and processed food. The typical ratio can be as high as 1:25 omega-3 to omega-6 in the Western diet. The ratio should be closer to 1:1 or 1:2.
Wheat flour is typically mixed with sugar and fat, sources high in energy density, to create baked products, which contains a massive amount of calories that can be consumed in one sitting. For example, a dish of fettuccine alfredo pasta is 1200 calories and a 12" medium cheese pizza is 1920 calories.
Sugar, fat, and salt are commonly added to improve palatability, however its function is to promote excess calories and overconsumption. A plain Belgian waffle without the butter and syrup is still 410 calories. Half a cup of unpopped popcorn without butter comes out to 260 calories. Even worse, easily consumable high-calorie beverages such as juice, sweetened coffee, pop/soda, and beer can double a day's caloric total from meals.
Refined carbohydrates are low in protein, water, and fiber, the primary components of satiety. Coupled with hyperpalatability, it becomes easy to overconsume.
A glass of orange juice is very different from an orange. Orange juice has added sugar for more total calories while fiber, the pulp from the orange, has been removed. The higher fiber in an orange helps with satiety and slows the absorption of sugars instead of causing a blood sugar spike.
Consider that it is more satiating to eat 6 large eggs than it is to eat 2 glazed doughnuts, even though both have the same amount of calories. It has been postulated that the body craves nutrients and would overeat until nutritional requirements are fulfilled.
Sugar is linked to addiction and thus is given prominence as a primary ingredient in hyperpalatable foods. The combination of salt, sugar, fat, and wheat flour creates many of the most common hyperpalatable foods that we commonly call "junk food."
Protein is considered to be the key to weight management as its effects on satiety are profound. Fiber and water are also important contributors to satiety. At least two of the three sources are abundant in animal and plant sources. On the other end of the spectrum, refined carbohydrates are poor for satiety and contribute to increased appetite. Satiating foods help prevent overeating.
The more energy dense food is, the more calories it packs. Sugar and fat are high energy density sources. For example, in a medium Dairy Queen Blizzard, the total calories are equivalent to 9 large eggs. Eating 9 eggs in one sitting, which is satiating, is more difficult to finish than a medium Blizzard as a dessert.
Another contributing factor to overeating and obesity is addiction. Hyperpalatable foods are designed to be addictive or overconsumed, echoing Pringles' slogan of "Once you pop, you can't stop." The sweet, salty, or fried properties of hyperpalatable foods target the brain's reward center, drawing parallels to drugs.
To check if you have a possible food addiction, taking the Yale food addiction scale quiz could reveal insights into your own dietary behaviours.
Food Addiction – A Serious Problem With a Simple Solution by Kris Gunnar.
Intermittent fasting is a technique where you adjust your eating schedule between two states: the fed state (the period of time during which you eat) and the fasted state (the period of time when you do not eat). This optimizes fat-burning periods when you're cutting, and minimizes fat accumulation during a bulk due to the increase in resting metabolism and utilizing body fat for fuel.
Fasting is not the same as starving. Starvation does not occur until after about three days of no caloric intake or extended periods of caloric intake lower than 1200 calories. Meal frequency has an insignificant effect on metabolism because the total number and quality of calories consumed in a day matters more. It does not cause muscle loss or negative effects on cognitive abilities or mood, which are effects of starving.
Did you know?
While you are sleeping, you are actually fasting.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have many positive long-term effects. During the fasted state, it increases growth hormone levels, improves the cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure, and decreases the risk of metabolic diseases, inflammatory responses, and diabetes, while also improving insulin sensitivity, which benefits the heart and brain. Fasting has also been shown to slow the rate of aging, thereby extending human longevity and health. It may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. During the fed state, the body metabolizes the necessary energy and nutrients.
You may drink water or consume extremely low-calorie beverages such as herbal tea and black coffee during the fasted state, otherwise the fasted state breaks and you enter the fed state.
Research suggests that men and women should approach intermittent fasting slightly differently. A 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour feast is recommended for men. For women, nutritionist Stefani Ruper suggests women should "listen to their body," while Martin Berkhan of Leangains suggests limiting the fasted state to fourteen hours for women.
Copyright © 2017 Simple Science Fitness/Joachim Lapiak.