A Case For Protein
Okay, so a meal of all cookies is not the best idea. Got it. Then what? Use protein as the building block to your meals. We’ve all seen those charts that show how blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day. It is protein and healthy fats that help smooth out some of those fluctuations.
Further, there is a concept called The Thermogenic Effect of Food that also makes a good case for protein as the most important part of each meal. It goes something like this: It takes energy (i.e. calories) to convert food to energy. For carbs, the amount is 10% while for protein the amount is 28%. In real world terms this means that if you eat a 100 calorie slice of bread (all carbs), it takes 10 calories to process the slice and only 90 calories hit your system. Compared to a 100 calorie piece of meat where it takes 28 calories to digest the food and only 72 calories hit your system.
Now, don’t overdo it. This is not a case for an extreme diet like Atkins or SoBe. Just make sure every meal has at least one protein focused item.
The Role of Exercise
The timing your of exercise can help jump start your metabolism. When you exercise at one of the low points in your blood sugar, your body is forced to rely more on its fat stores. This is terrible for performance. However, when weight loss is the goal, it may be a viable strategy. One example of this is exercising first thing in the morning on a empty stomach. Obviously, don’t do this if you have blood sugar issues or have been warned against it in the past. This is also not the best time to go for a solo open water swim. Instead, pick a short duration low quality workout and complete it first thing in the morning in a safe environment that allows you to immediately stop exercising if you are not feeling good.
Keeping a diet log can be a powerful tool if used appropriately. Tracking calories rarely leads to long-term changes in eating habits. Rather, keep a diet log that includes the following categories at a minimum:
What you ate
When you ate it
When you exercised
When you woke up and went to bed
Why you at it
This last one is the most important item as it will help you begin to recognize unhealthy trends in you eating habits. Examples include eating when bored or overeating after hard workouts or when you skip the previous meal.
Set Yourself Up to Win
This might seem like that generic cover-of-the-magazine type of advice I rail against so often. But its so true I fell it worth mentioning.
We all have our weaknesses. Hopefully you know what yours are. If you do, don’t set yourself up for temptation and failure. Struggle with bad decisions at the grocer? Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. Have a sweet tooth? Don’t keep the candy within arms reach at work. Have a “trigger food” that will send you into a dietary death spiral? Avoid it at all costs. Busy week up ahead? Spend some time on Sunday preparing those healthy foods. Going to a holiday party that will be loaded with bad food? Eat ahead of time.
Again, all common sense. But are you really doing it?
This is the final portion of a shortened version of a presentation Coach Bees gave last month