This week is the third installment on the importance of managing food intake and calorie control. We are all aware that in U.S., most of us have standardized our daily nutrition based on grain and refined sugar based carbohydrates. We are also aware that most of us over consume calories from a blend of high calorie carbohydrates, sugary snacks and beverages. For this reason, calorie counting becomes less effective since our body is in a constant state of processing glucose overload.
Now if calorie counting and fad diets are not the answer, what should be done to truly manage calorie control? How much we eat each day of our specific macronutrients becomes the key to successful nutrition. Defining your personal macro-profile which is made up of carbohydrates, protein and fats consumed in a 24-hour period will build your nutritional road-map for ideal health.
It is important to shift your view on food consumption. For most of us, we eat for many unhealthy reasons. It could be a sugar addiction, stress relief or just because eating seems to make everything feel better. Hippocrates, the guy some call the founder of medicine, wrote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The idea here is to leverage the value of healthy foods consumed in proper balance in reasonable amounts that best maintains our overall health. This means eat for the sake of health, not for the sake of just eating.
The very first step that must be taken every morning when you get up is be aware of the cumulative effect from eating meals, snacks and calorie-filled beverages throughout your day. It is a simple matter to think about what it is you’re putting in your body all day long. The second step is the effective common-sense approach that is used across many diets and nutritional programs which is the 80/20 rule. Ensure that 80 percent of what you eat is whole, unprocessed healthy foods. Within that 80 percent of healthy foods, break down the macronutrients so your proteins and fats exceed the amount of empty carbohydrates you consume daily. Make sure a high percentage of carbohydrates you do consume each day consist of primarily fruits and vegetables. Move away from grains and sugars in your daily diet as much as you can. The 20 percent of the 80/20 rule can be foods that may be less healthy and allows you to still access some of your favorite foods.
Finally, stick with foods that pique your interests and taste buds, but fall into a super-healthy category. Here is a very short list of options for great results:
• Veggies: Baby spinach, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, mushrooms, peas, beets, peppers, avocados
• Fruits: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, melons, grapefruit, kiwi, papaya, pineapple
• Dairy: Butter, ghee, greek yogurt, hard cheeses, cottage cheese, kefir, feta, sour cream
• Nuts/Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sun flower, pecans, macadamia, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
• Meats: Beef, chicken, buffalo (USDA Certified Organic or 100 percent Grass-Fed). Fish is a good option, but be careful that it is fresh, not farm-raised and/or imported from a foreign country.
• Oils: Butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut oil
• Sweets: Dark 70 percent or higher cocoa chocolate, raw honey
• Beverages: Water, sparkling water with zero sweeteners, organic teas, coffee black
This is not about being on a diet, but more about managing the type of foods you eat in the proper balance with lower carbs, higher protein and fats. The net result that comes from changing the type and percentages of your macronutrients is it lowers your need and desire to eat. This in turn brings down your daily caloric intake and stops your daily glucose overload. Now add periodic fasting to help regulate healthy hormones, immune and brain function, then you start to really feel a positive change in your overall health.
Seventy percent of our total health footprint comes down to what we eat, balanced across percentages of our macronutrients and how many calories we eat daily. We all have unique nutritional needs, so finding your personal daily caloric sweet spot needs to be a priority if being healthy is important to you. Once you find that natural set point, your body fat percentage, body mass index and base metabolic rate should level off to match your genetic make-up for height, body composition and ideal body weight.
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Judd Jones is a director for The Hagadone Corporation in Coeur d’Alene.