Ideally your diet should consist of a mix of all three. Most nutritionists agree on about 65% carbohydrates, about 23% proteins and approximately 12% fat.

There are situations or life stages where these numbers can vary. Pregnancy, periods of metabolic growth and athletes who are weight training should obviously increase the protein percent.

Let’s look at the way all three of these macronutrients are digested and absorbed. Carbohydrates are used exclusively for energy. Fats are used mostly for energy but are also important for some other processes in the body. Protein is the really important nutrient. Not only is it used for muscle support, maintenance and growth but also for a myriad of other purposes such as hormonal structure, transport of other nutrients, hair and fingernail formation etc.

I have come up with a great way to explain this in layman form. Look at your mouth as if it were a hole in your body in which you put food , kinda like stuffing peanuts into a bag. Once any food (protein, fat or carbohydrates) gets inside your body through this hole it can only do one of three things: Become part of your body like skin, bones, muscle, cells, teeth, hair etc., be available for energy and actually used or stored, or pass out the other end. Now, to be more precise, protein is the nutrient that generally becomes some body part, fat and carbohydrates either are burned as energy or are stored for later use as body fat. There are however a couple of other structural uses for fat. It’s as simple as that.

It is true that carbohydrates are structured in such a way as to provide a quicker energy source whereas fat functions as a longer term energy source.

So the question still remains, in a weight loss program what should I cut out of my diet? This gets a little bit tougher. As we discussed in an earlier blog calorie intake is what matters. The proper way to reduce your caloric intake is to reduce your consumption of fats and carbohydrates, more specifically bad fat and processed carbohydrates. My next blog will address the issue of bad versus good fat and carbohydrates. See you then.

As you may have read in some of my earlier blogs I’ve stated that it doesn’t matter what time of day you consume your calories, their effect on your percent of body fat is the same. That is the truth; however there is a way to increase your metabolism simply by eating multiple and smaller meals daily.

The reason for this is a phenomenon called specific dynamic action or thermal effect of food. Simply put it’s the energy required to digest a meal.

There are muscles all along your digestive tract that contract in the process of digestion. From your jaw muscles through your esophagus, your stomach, and your intestines there is a caloric cost of moving and digesting a meal. Your stomach is especially involved. It has three groups of muscles designed to squeeze twist and compress a meal once it is in your stomach. These are muscles just like skeletal muscles. Well almost like skeletal muscles. They are constructed little differently however they do contract just like other muscles. From basic physiology we know that when a muscle contracts it uses energy or calories.

There is a caloric expense involved of between 20 and 30 cal per meal. So logically if you eat, say five meals a day your thermal effect of food would simply be 5×25 or 125 cal. If you ate only one meal a day you’d burn an extra 25 cal. That’s a difference of 100 cal a day. Over 30 days that’s nearly 1 pound of extra fat you would add following the one meal per day plan versus the five meals per day plan. Over a year, on the one meal per day plan that’s 10 pounds of fat you would add.

Given, that’s not a whole lot but using this information in conjunction with a lower total calorie diet, more activity and better food choices, you get a combined effect that is really the answer. We like to call this a lifestyle change.

There is another bonus for eating multiple meals. As a meal is digested your system extracts the various nutrients needed for maximum health. These nutrients circulate in your body for between two and three hours going round and round and exiting at the various cells where they’re needed. It stands to reason that if you eat five meals you get 10 to 15 hours of vital circulation (5x 2 to 3hrs.) feeding all your cells as opposed to just 2 to 3 hours on the one meal per day plan.

Your system is healthier when you get a more constant and enduring flow of nutrition feeding your cells rather than a shorter period of time each day.

Okay, let’s and you start with listing some of the more popular diets on the market. There’s the Atkins diet, the Hallelujah diet, the South Beach diet, the Hollywood diet, low fat diets, carbohydrate free diets, sugar-free diets, protein diets and the list goes on and on. Here’s the real truth.

If you subscribe to or purchase any of these diet plans, in the process of beginning the program, the format that you are directed to follow by the maker of the plan is always designed around your specific demographics, meaning age, sex, body weight, activity level and so on. Somewhere in a questionnaire or form they get this information from you.

Now, the only reason any of these diets will work for you is, regardless of the colorful design, interesting packaging, super claims etc. the plan is  designed to restrict your calorie intake to a point where you are eating less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight causing your body to use storage energy (body fat) to make up the difference.

Let’s look at a  specific example, Weight Watchers plan uses points instead of calories. Here’s how that works. A point represents between 60 and 70 cal. So if you are assigned 20 points a day that calculates roughly to 1300 cal. which Weight Watchers has determined is the CALORIC LEVEL you should be at to lose about 1.5 to 2 lbs of fat/week. Now let’s look at a low fat diet plan where you are assigned a maximum of 30 g of fat per day. The explanation here is a little more complicated. A gram of fat represents 9 cal. and If you’re limited to 30 g of fat per day, that’s 270 cal. Fat occurs as a natural macronutrient  in a large variety of foods. By limiting your fat grams you are also limiting the volume of food that you eat. If you cut back on fatty foods, you will just consume less calories.

Your next question might be, if it’s all about calories why do I see so many new and different weight loss plans on the market? Why don’t they say just reduce your calories and you lose weight?

Here’s the answer to that. Our brains are wired in such a way that we get excited about something new and different. People who promote these programs know that. If someone told you they would sell you a diet plan for let’s say $100 and when you bought it you got a piece of paper in the mail that said eat 1000 cal a day, you’d probably be upset.

Now look at this scenario. I’d like to sell you a weight loss plan for $100. Here’s what you get: A plan that is designed for your body type and through extensive research into “somatatyping”, I’ve developed this plan that’s designed especially for you. I’ll call it the “Soma” diet. When you get your package in the mail you get this combination of colorful cards. One card has a picture of your body shape on it. Also included are cards that have letters on them, one letter per card going from A through Z. The card with letter A on it has a picture of five different fruits, the Card with the letter B on it has a picture of five different vegetables on it. The rest of the cards have a selection of other food groups on them. You are instructed to select and eat one food from say every other letter in the alphabet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (A,C,E,G etc.). On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays you are instructed to select and eat one food from the cards with the other letters of alphabet on them (B,D,F,H etc.).

This plan obviously is more exciting and different but the truth is, again it boils down to the same thing. The plan is instructing you to consume less calories than you need to maintain your present weight, usually in an amount that will cause you to lose about 2 pounds per week.

Here’s another myth. Not eating enough will cause me not to burn fat or lose weight. Over the years this idea has been put forth, usually by companies trying to sell you something.

The truth is when we say not eating enough that’s exactly what it means. You’re not eating enough which means that your body will use its reserves and possibly some muscle tissue to maintain life. There’s no way around this. You can’t violate the law of physics which tell us that you need a certain number of calories per day to maintain your current body mass.

A calorie is not an object rather it’s a measure of heat. When you consume food it’s either converted into body mass, burned as energy or stored as body fat depending on your total intake versus your caloric expense over time.

Here is the truth. Your body does make some metabolic adjustment to starvation. When you consume less calories than you need for maintenance, your body perceives that you are in starvation and responds by slowing metabolism. However, it can only slow metabolism by about 10% at the most.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your body needs 2000 cal a day to maintain its current mass. It doesn’t matter whether you eat 1900 or 100 cal per day, your body will senses starvation mode because both values are under 2000 cal. If your body reacts by adjusting metabolism by 10% this means your body needs about 1850 cal a day now to maintain its current mass.

Continuing, let’s say that you’re actually on a 1000 cal per day diet. Your body needs 1850 cal, your eating 1000, so there’s an 850 cal difference. It takes 3500 cal to constitute 1 pound of fat loss. So, it would take you approximately 4 days to lose 1 pound of fat (4×850 equals about 3500 cal).

Diet myths come from the same sources as literary myths do; meaning there is usually some basis in truth which is stretched or altered to fit a given situation or to sell a given product.

Just what is a Calorie anyway?

We are always hearing about calories. We say cut your calories and you lose weight or if you want to gain weight add calories to your diet. Well, I bet you’d like to know just what a calorie is.

A calorie is not an object that you can touch. It’s actually a unit of heat or measure of heat. Let me explain it this way. All foods are composed of some combination of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, fiber, water or some amount of micronutrients. When you put food into your body and I do mean through the hole that is your mouth it becomes one of four things: part of your body such as muscles ,skin, bones, guts etc., Body fat, waste products, or heat.

Now, your specific body mass or body weight, whatever it is, requires a certain number of calories to maintain that mass or weight. Let’s say for example it’s 2000 cal per day. If you take the total calories consumed in a day and it is more than 2000 cal you will store the extra calories in the form of body fat.
Conversely, if you consume less than 2000 cal in a day (let’s say 1800) your body will take 200 from its storage (body fat) and you will lose weight.

Here’s the tricky part. We are talking about the total calories in a day, including all fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Fats and carbohydrates are used almost exclusively for energy. Protein on the other hand is used for multiple purposes including maintaining structures and transport of nutrients and even though it’s primary purpose is not energy it can be used as energy and certain situations, therefore it is included in the calorie total for the day.

What your body actually does is convert the carbohydrates or fat you have eaten either into body fat or actual heat that radiates from your body into the atmosphere and is recycled.

Healthy Foods that are High In Calories

Indeed some foods are what we call fattening or high calorie and yet they are healthy choices. On the other hand some foods are low calorie and are unhealthy choices.

Let’s look at an example. Peanuts are extremely high in calories and yet they are a healthy alternative to an unhealthy snack choice like a cupcake or some high-energy sugar filled bar. A cup peanuts is about 850 cal. You can eat 3 KING SIZE Snickers bars and get about the same amount of calories.

So, what’s the difference. That’s what this blog is all about. In earlier blogs I’ve explained that calories are what matters when it comes to gaining or losing body fat. If the calories per cup of peanuts and to 2 KING SIZE Snickers bars are the same why choose one over the other.

Let’s look at the ingredients in both. The peanuts or high in oils. However these oils are a healthy form of polyunsaturated oils that are actually good for you. The Snickers bar on the other hand is highly processed, has lots of sugar and unhealthy fats. Plus the Snickers bar is missing other nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients included in the peanuts.

Let’s look at another example, raisins. A cup of raisins is also about 250 cal. Yes raisins are high in sugar but it’s a natural fruit sugar from grapes, not processed or refined in any way. If you compare a cup of raisins as a snack to jellybeans or some other candy you get the same kind of comparison. The sugar in a candy is highly refined and processed and totally devoid of any other nutrition like vitamins, minerals and
phytonutrients. The raisins on the other hand have several nutrients embedded that are good for us.

So, when you’re trying to make the proper dietary choices be sure and consider not only the caloric value but also the nutrient density of your food choice.

Myth– Not eating enough will cause me not to burn fat or lose weight. Over the years this idea has been put forth, usually by companies trying to sell you something.

The truth is when we say not eating enough that’s exactly what it means. You’re not eating enough which means that your body will use its reserves and possibly some muscle tissue to maintain life. There’s no way around this. You can’t violate the law of physics which tell us that you need a certain number of calories per day to maintain your current body mass.

A calorie is not an object rather it’s a measure of heat. When you consume food it’s either converted into body mass, burned as energy or stored as body fat depending on your total intake versus your caloric expense over time.

Here is the truth. Your body does make some metabolic adjustment to starvation. When you consume less calories than you need for maintenance, your body perceives that you are in starvation and responds by slowing metabolism. However, it can only slow metabolism by about 10% at the most.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your body needs 2000 cal a day to maintain its current mass. It doesn’t matter whether you eat 1900 or 100 cal per day, your body will senses starvation mode because both values are under 2000 cal. If your body reacts by adjusting metabolism by 10% this means your body needs about 1850 cal a day now to maintain its current mass.

Continuing, let’s say that you’re actually on a 1000 cal per day diet. Your body needs 1850 cal, your eating 1000, so there’s an 850 cal difference. It takes 3500 cal to constitute 1 pound of fat loss. So, it would take you approximately 4 days to lose 1 pound of fat (4×850 equals about 3500 cal).

Diet myths generally originate from the same sources as literary myths do; meaning there is usually some basis in truth which is stretched or altered to fit a given situation or to sell a given product.

I have been asked several times over the years if it s possible spot reduce. The correct answer is no.
Body fat is stored under the skin and on top of the muscles. Let me explain how fat is stored using the abdominal area as an example. Let’s say you’re fat is 3 inches deep around the belly button. Move up 2 inches to the mid abdominal area, Here the fat is 2 inches deep. If you move up another 2 inches to the upper abdominal area it the fat will be about 1 inch deep and so on.

Now, when you go on a diet your body will use stored body fat for energy thereby reducing the total fat on your body. Here’s the key, as your body uses the stored fat up and down your abdominal wall it uses the fat at the same rate all along the abdominal wall from the belly button up to the chest.

Now, remember the 3 inches deep, 2 inches deep, and 1 inch deep visualization. When the body has used up the 1 inch in the upper abdominal area the 2 inches deep mid abdominal area is reduced to 1 inch and the 3 inches deep lower abdominal area fat has been reduced to 2 inches. Now, if you continue to diet the same way the 1 inch deep mid abdominal area will be reduced to zero and the 2 inch deep lower area will be reduced to 1 inch of depth. Now all of a sudden it looks like you lost all the fat from your upper and middle abs and you haven’t lost any off your lower abs, when in reality you just had more fat on your lower abs to reduce than you did on your mid or upper abs.

The fact is the lower abdominal area fat is the last to go and of course the first comeback.
Also just in case you ever wondered, there’s a good reason that most of our fat is stored around our central area or midsection. This is where our center of gravity is. It’s the most logical place to store fat because this is where extra body mass will not throw us off balance. Yes it’s true that some of us store it in the front, some of us store it on the sides and some of us store it in the back area but never the less fat is generally stored around our midsection.

I Can’t Stop Eating in the Evening

Are you one of those people who each almost nothing all day and then when you get home in the evening at dinner time you eat a huge meal followed by snacks and junk food later in the evening and by bedtime your stuffed? Well there’s a reason that you’re so voracious when you get home in the evenings. During the day eating almost nothing causes your body to think that you’re experiencing short term starvation, so when you finally see some food your body causes you to eat a greater volume because it thinks this may be the only thing you’ll get today. It truly is a survival mechanism. What can you do about this? Multiple small meals always works. Try it sometime. Try eating 3 or 4 small 3-400 calorie meals each 3-4 hours apart before 6pm. You’ll see that all of a sudden this tremendous psychological need to eat huge amounts is not there. In addition, you’ll see that you have greater energy during the day, plus you’ll get a more balanced flow of nutrients, fluid and fiber eating multiple small meals. Doing this will take some planning. However in today’s markets there are many food choices that make this easier. For example, all the 100 calorie packs you see advertised, plus there are hundreds of prepackaged bars and snacks some of which are actually healthy choices. These types of foods are convenient, you can store them for long periods of time and are pre-packaged, so you can take them with you anywhere you go. Just open and eat.

All Carbohydrates are not the same

Myth number five – all carbohydrates are the same. First let’s list some carbohydrates: table sugar, green beans, white bread, an Apple, honey, brown sugar, pasta, corn, soda crackers, most sweetened kids cereals and oranges. All of these foods either are 100% carbohydrates or mostly carbohydrates. As you will notice some of these foods are healthy and some not so healthy. The difference lies in the fact that some foods are whole foods and some are processed foods, healthy or unhealthy if you will. Whole foods contain all of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrient, and other elements that nature intended. Processing on the other hand involves the removal of many or most of these elements. In addition, processed foods are more calorie dense than whole foods so you tend to consume more calories when you eat processed carbohydrates. So, as you see all carbohydrates indeed are not the same.

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