It seems like that’s how many different weight loss and nutrition programs are floating around nowadays. From vegan to Atkins, they all make claims and have their ideas about why they are right in the absolute.
Here’s the thing. Most of us aren’t absolutes. Most of us don’t make dietary decisions and then never waiver. AND EVEN IF WE DID, we are not all alike AND we do change over time and so does our level of activity.
What one person needs to eat in order to improve their health may be very different from what their friend or neighbor needs to eat. What you need to eat today to improve your health may be different than what you need to eat a year or ten years from now.
So, now that you are in the abyss of uncertainty about what to eat (because some guy who wrote this blog that you’re reading is basically saying you can’t just pick up some diet plan and trust it is the right thing for you) be reassured that there are some fundamental principles that can guide you to healthier choices.
Here are some facts to help you:
- Excess fat around your internal organs (such as your liver) causes health problems.
- Internal inflammation causes many common health problems.
- People often have inflammation and don’t even know it. Most inflammation does not even cause symptoms that you would feel or notice until it gets really bad. Do you know anyone who has had heart bypass surgery? Inflammation is the likely culprit that led to their clogged arteries.
So, what can you do about it? Getting rid of inflammation solves many health problems. Even better, getting rid of inflammation BEFORE problems arise PREVENTS problems. In fact, contrary to popular belief, eating fat does not necessarily make you fat nor does it cause inflammation in the long run. (Note: all macronutrients; fat, carbohydrates and protein cause short-term inflammation just after eating.)1
When you decrease your carbohydrate intake enough, however, your body goes into a state of burning fat as its primary energy source. The word for this is “ketosis.” A ketogenic diet is one that brings people into ketosis. While I don’t believe what-so-ever that health requires being in ketosis all of the time, a person’s ability to function in ketosis and regularly be in ketosis certainly contributes to their health.
How to start:
- Decrease carbohydrates (sugars and starches) to decrease inflammation. Researchers have even stated that cancers cannot exist in the absence of carbohydrates.
- Get rid of “artificial foods” including:
- “Food” that is processed and comes wrapped in cardboard or plastic, with some few exceptions (see Align Wellness Weight Loss) and even then, only as they serve a specific short-term purpose.
- Foods like flavored yogurt, coffee drinks, and processed juices because sugar is added.
- Processed meats like salami because sugar is often added.
- Candies, cookies, cereals, granola, rice, etc.
- Replace them with:
- Foods with fat: avocados, fish, olives, “fat bombs” made with coconut oil, etc.
- Vegetables: chew on raw vegetables like peppers and carrots, or preserved vegetables like pickles. Prepare in advance plenty of cooked broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, green beans and the like.
- Stop snacking. Constant eating is a product of marketing and current sedentary lifestyles. Find a way to decouple eating from sitting.
- Water. You should be drinking about one-half your body weight in ounces of water every day. This is a great replacement for snacking. To figure this out, divide your weight in half. 180 pounds divided by 2 is 90 pounds. 90 is the number. 90 ounces of water is the target for this person. However, if the weather is hot and/or working out makes you sweat a lot, drink even more water.
How much of the artificial and carb heavy foods should you get rid of? The answer to this question is, “How much inflammation and health risk do you want to get rid of?” The more you want to lower inflammation and health risks, the more of these you need to remove from your life – at least most of the time. Think about getting your daily carbohydrate intake to around 25 grams or less.
Do beware that eating a high protein diet will keep you out of ketosis because your body burns extra protein by turning it into sugars. So, eating too much protein causes inflammation just like carbohydrates do. Furthermore, being on a ketogenic diet does not have to be meat based. It could even be vegan. The key is keeping the sugars and other inflammatory foods out of your diet. Some studies have even shown that the glycemic index of foods is individual dependent. This means that what is a high glycemic food (meaning it triggers a bigger insulin response) to one person may be a lower glycemic food to another.
In summary: There is no doubt that nutrition is complex. The above outlined facts are dealing ONLY with the macromolecules; carbohydrates, protein and fat. Yet, by keeping the amount of carbohydrates low, the level of proteins moderate and the amount of fat as the biggest form of calorie consumption, you will improve your health. If you like meat and notice you feel and function better with meat in your diet, then your consumption of meat can fall into these guidelines. If you love vegetables and/or you don’t like meat and/or you have moral guidelines that keep you from eating meat then your diet can still fit within these guidelines. Of course, this is easier if you are a vegetarian who eats eggs and dairy (as long as you are not allergic to dairy, preferably, non-pasteurized dairy).
And last, your food choices are further complicated by any food allergies you have.
Want to find out if you are addicted to carbs and if they are affecting your health? Send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you’d like us to send you the Two Week Carb Addiction Test handout. It’s our gift to you for caring about your health.
1. Mohanty P, Ghanim H, Hamouda W, et al: Both lipid and protein intakes stimulate increased generation of reactive oxygen species by polymorphonuclear leukocytes and mononuclear cells. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 75:767-772, 2002
2. Mohanty P, Hamouda W, Garg R, et al: Glucose Challenge Stimulates Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Generation by Leucocytes. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 85:2970-2973, 2000
3. Aljada A, Mohanty P, Ghanim H, et al: Increase in intranuclear nuclear factor κB and decrease in inhibitor κB in mononuclear cells after a mixed meal: evidence for a proinflammatory effect. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79:682-690, 2004