Hola, friends! In my last article I left you with a few steps to begin working towards your short-term weight-loss goal. We started off by cutting out all simple sugars from your diet and walking at a brisk pace 3-5 times per week. Anyone do this? For those of you who have, you may already be seeing and feeling changes and are ready for what’s next. For others, maybe you were already ahead of the game so let’s keep moving forward with some diet talk.
WARNING: Informative stuff!! I would expect many readers to consider the following passages to be somewhat boring, but if you are serious and you want results, then continue reading. You might learn something new.
The word “Diet” has a different meaning to just about everyone, but let’s try and forget all those things and start from scratch. A diet is simply what you eat. The most basic breakdown of ANY diet, regardless of ANYTHING, will consist of juggling and adjusting between the consumption of three things; Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins.
Once you get a general grasp and a better understanding of these three categories you will be able to make food choices that you understand and hopefully will, for the rest of your life, become an invaluable tool. I will break each one of the three categories down just enough so that hopefully everyone can understand. Let’s touch on the subject of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates aka carbs are our number one source of energy. Complex carbs, such as oatmeal, are those that are digested slowly and are healthy when eating them in moderation. Simple carbs, such as white bread or sugar, are digested much faster and cause imbalances in our metabolisms. If, before beginning this program, your diet consisted of simple carbs/sugars, then you might find it difficult to stop eating them as your body has become addicted to the physiological responses that come from such a diet. My best advice would be to wean yourself off of these foods slowly and one at a time, starting with the worst ones first. This means sugary beverages, desserts, and pastries go first. Then you move on to replacing and reducing your intake of breads, pastas, and dairy products. Vegetables make a great replacement because they fill you up, and with the exception of just a handful of them (corn, potatoes, sweet peas), they are incredible for weight loss. When choosing anything that has been processed make it a habit to read the labels and the ingredients. For example, don’t be fooled by bread that’s labeled “WHEAT BREAD”. What you should be looking for is “100% WHOLE WHEAT”. Begin by reading the first ingredients of anything you buy. For those products that are flour-based, including cereal, crackers, and pastas, look out for this very misleading ingredient: “enriched wheat flour”. This is just white flour with added vitamins. If I added vitamins to donuts or soda it wouldn’t change the fact that it’s still very unhealthy. What you’re looking for is “100% Whole Wheat Flour” or “Stone Ground Flour”. If you don’t already check for this, then go check your pantry and you might be surprised with your findings. Other things to watch out for are high fructose corn syrup and, of course, sugar.
The science that’s behind diminishing the intake of simple sugars/carbs and even limiting the intake of healthier carbs is somewhat complicated, but let me try to explain this as simply as possible. When our bodies ingest simple carbs, such as white bread, they are broken down very quickly into sugar and absorbed straight into our bloodstream. It’s because it is digested so quickly that our blood sugar (glycemia) rises at a very fast rate.
Now, because having too much sugar in your blood is toxic, the body’s natural reaction is to store it somewhere else so that it can be used for energy in the future. The only problem with this is that sugar (glycogen) storage is very limited in our bodies. Let’s assume that most people reading this are not in a state of starvation or survival. Since there is basically no more room to store this sudden influx of sugar, our body automatically takes the sugar, turns it to fat, and stores it. So in short, the sugar is stored as fat. Keep that in mind next time you’re confronted with that sweet nemesis of yours.
This is a lot of information to “digest” so take your time in understanding it. And let me just say to you, if you are still reading this, give yourself a pat on the back!! Starting something is easy, but sticking to it is the toughest part and if you’re still with me, then that has to say something about you.
Keep up your current routine or the one I gave you and focus on altering your food intake which is equally as important. Bring your walking time up to a minimum of 45 minutes now and keep pushing towards 5 times per week. Next time I’ll be covering details on what your workouts should look like and some tips on how to choose what’s best for you and your current lifestyle.