Each and every one of us will no doubt have over indulged in recent weeks. This article is designed to highlight some of the traps we often fall into at this time of year; to underline in explicit detail the dangers but most importantly making some recommendations on how to get back on track.
Shielding the Six Pack!
It is a common misconception that a build up of body fat around the mid section is a direct cause of over eating or making poor dietary choices such as deep fried or fast food. These certainly could be contributory factors but this fatty build up is actually your body sending you a “cry for help”. The human body was not designed to consume artificial, chemically engineered products. Processed poor quality foods that are full of additives, chemical emulsifiers and colourings can be tolerated by the body for a finite time but there comes a point when your intestine becomes intolerant. Over time the frequency of “CRAP” (Caffeine, Refined processed foods, Alcohol and Pasteurized milk) we consume can cause irreparable damage to the digestive system and these waste chemicals that the body can no longer break down start to seep through the gut wall and get deposited around the waist as body fat.
Unwittingly consumers buy so called “healthy options” pre-packaged produce that is crammed full of additives and preservatives and loaded with poor quality ingredients that cannot be digested. Then they wonder why they can never get the six pack they have been striving for even though they exercise regularly, don’t over eat and think they are making healthy food choices. Over Christmas and New Year the volume of artificial foodstuffs we consume escalates well beyond manageable levels and at times this is out of our control with eating out and parties at a premium over the period.
Below are some changes you should think about:
- Consider the labels of the foods you are choosing to buy: the longer the shelf life the more artificial ingredients it is likely to contain.
- If the label comprises more chemical compounds, e-numbers and unpronounceable words than genuine ingredients, the chances are your digestive system will have the same trouble in processing them as your brain did in deciphering the contents.
- Wherever possible go natural and organic and if you have the time, aim to prepare and cook your own meals with wholesome natural ingredients.
- Be selective about where you get takeout food from; ask what kind of ingredients they use and whether they are fresh, wholesome or organic.
Breaking those bad habits and bringing back the balance
It’s very easy to continue with some of the unwanted eating habits developed during the period of festivities; especially when the cupboards are still brimming with leftover goodies. Consider the content of your fridge versus the content of your cupboards. This should indicate the ratio of short shelf life produce to packaged and processed CRAP. Most of the CRAP in your cupboards will be not only full of artificial chemicals and preservatives but also high GI (Glycemic Index).
High GI foodstuffs have a very ready usable energy source, the body converts such produce to glycogen (blood sugar) very quickly. The result is a powerful immediate impact on the metabolism in the form of a blood sugar spike – a massive surge into the blood stream; a “sugar rush”.
The sensation is an immediate high, an abundance of energy caused by the stimulant. Consider, however, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction: the crash is equally as pronounced as the high. As such the body is left in a state of craving for the next high (similar to drug addiction in many ways) and the eating and drinking of sugary snacks and drinks continues as the body is tricked into believing it needs another sugar hit.
This self perpetuating cycle will take on a snowball effect causing your metabolism to endure a sequence of peaks and troughs that in the end it simply cannot cope with. Ultimately it is precisely this type of eating behaviour that has directly influenced the massive upsurge in type ii diabetes and obesity in Australia and the rest of the developed world in recent years. Australia now lays claim to the unwanted label as the most obese country in the world per capita!
So what should we do?
- Opt for a balanced diet; every meal should consist of approx 40 – 45% protein (ideally meat, poultry or fish) 40 – 45% carbohydrate (preferably lower GI complex carbohydrate i.e. dark green veg such as spinach, broccoli or silver beet rather than high GI starchy potato, pasta or rice) and 10% fat (preferably unsaturated non trans fats – i.e. avocado, nuts and fish oil etc).
- A balanced diet has a combination of easy, medium and difficult to convert sources of usable energy and is therefore the perfect answer to delivering a constant steady release of energy throughout the day.
- Consuming up to 6 small well balanced meals and snacks a day allows you to keep energy levels at a constant and your body does not feel the need to store usable energy as fat. (Be careful in changing your meal plan from 3 – 6 daily – do not double your daily intake!)
Treat your body like a high performance car; provide it with a regular supply of good quality fuel and service it regularly for optimum results. I hope this provides some food for thought in your quest to regain your fitness in 2010!