Healthy Diet

Nutrition 101, the Truth and Lies of Eating Clean

This article is about healthy diet

As a fitness leader in the United States Navy, in charge of ensuring the weight standards of my members, it has come to my attention how ignorant the general population is in regards to proper nutrition. Prior to joining the Navy I led a sedentary life unconcerned with nutrition. This lifestyle culminated in a physique 40-50 pounds overweight with very little muscle mass. Disgusted with my appearance in the mirror, and determined to once again engage in athletic activities, I made a decision to change how I lived. I began working out 7 days a week, while starving myself of calories, ignorant of the effect this had on my body. The results were not as great as I had hoped, so I began to research about the nutritional needs of the human body. I became obsessed and spent hours on websites reading nutrition articles, fitness magazines, peer-reviewed journals, etc. The information I found revolutionized the misconceptions I once held about what it meant to eat healthy.

Nutrition is without question the most important factor involved in losing weight, maintaining weight, and remaining healthy. By starving myself and limiting my meals I was in effect sabotaging my progress. I can not even begin to express the number of times I have heard someone declare they plan to begin eating healthy by eating nothing but salads two to three times a day. The human body is quite literally the product of the food we ingest. Therefore if its nutritional requirements are neglected then the body adjusts by slowing its metabolism or other mechanisms that hinder progress.

One of the largest obstacles a person can overcome in the fight to eat healthy is to develop the frame of mind to eat for nutritional requirements rather than social pleasures and indulgences. I am not claiming that a person can never enjoy food again, but rather quite the contrary. It has been my experience that remaining disciplined to my diet I also enjoy eating more. During those periods where I neglect clean eating, the prospect of food begins to lose its appeal and food instead becomes a vehicle to satisfy impulsive urges. By maintaining an aspect of self-control I experience a greater level of satisfaction.

Nutritional needs of individuals also vary and depend upon numerous factors including activity level, weight, muscle mass, age, metabolism, and several other factors. Every person requires a mixture of all three macro-nutrients bounded down into proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Active individuals will obviously require more calories than sedentary individuals, especially in the form of protein and carbohydrates. It is also important to understand that not all proteins are equivalent. One should look for proteins such as eggs, lean meats, soy, and low-fat dairy that contain high amino acid profiles. In regards to carbohydrates an important concept is to eat carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index (formerly known as complex carbs). The glycemic index rates how fast carbohydrates are digested and the effect they have on blood sugar levels. By eating carbohydrates that are lower on the glycemic index then one's blood sugar will remain level without huge spikes. Fats must also be taken into mind. Fats are broken down into seated vs. unsaturated fats. An individual should attempt to limit the amount of scheduled fats in their daily intake.

Meal frequency is another very important factor that must be considered. America's tradition of eating three large meals per day could not have more catastrophic effects on the physiques and waistlines across the country. The first problem with this tradition occurs when an individual attempts to eat large amounts of calories and nutrients during a solitary meal. Unfortunately, only a limited amount of these calories and nutrients can be utilized in such a short time. Any remaining calories are there stored for as fat. The next problem occurs because the following meal typically does not occur for 6 hours or longer, causing the body to decrease its metabolism in an attempt to adapt to the lack of food ingested during this period. The solution is to eat many small meals throughout the day. By eating 5-7 smaller meals per day the human body is able to efficiently absorb the majority of the nutrients that are consumed. Also, by never allowing larger than 2-3 hours to elapse between meals, the body's metabolism remains at elevated levels effectively burning more fat.

While meal frequency is extremely important the time of the day that certain meals are eaten is equally important. Most studies have shown that it is important to eat high quality protein during each of the 5-7 meals every day (especially for active individuals). Proteins are utilized to help synthesize body tissue and repair the body. A constant intake of protein has been shown to help build muscle and can even help to burn fat. Carbohydrates are best ingested first thing in the morning, 1-2 hours before a workout, and immediately post-workout. Carbohydrates can also be eaten during other periods of the day, but it is best to reduce them as the evening progresses. By reducing the number of carbohydrates before bed, an individual's blood sugar will remain lower, which is of great benefit prior to sleep. Fats, on the other hand, are very beneficial to eat prior to bed. Healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats help to slow down digestion prior to sleep which ensures a steady / slow flow of nutrients will be delivered during this 8 hour period of fasting. Each macro-nutrient is vitally important, but the timing it is consumed is equally important.

Our generation is in an obesity crisis. By educating the general public to the nutritional misconceptions prevalent in society we can see change occurs. Do not fall trap to a fad diet claiming to produce miracle results, but rather learn these few key points to eating clean and enjoy a healthy life!

Written by Jeffrey Simons
Original Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Nutrition-101,-the-Truth-and-Lies-of-Eating-Clean&id=5857678

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