Fitness, Food, and the terrible N word….
*I am a Doctor of Philosophy. Not an MD. I am not a Doctor of a Biological Science. What this means is I am a researcher. Feel free to disregard any of this…or do your own research, but please remember, should you undertake anything, make sure you check with your medical provider if you have any health issues.
Hey everybody, today I thought it would be good to discuss nutrition. I recently completed Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Shred program. It was a brutal six weeks, or so I thought until I examined the work I would have to do on the Super Shred 8 program. While messaging an old friend, I was asked about my nutrition during the program. This got me thinking that nutrition is a really ugly N word that we are just truly afraid of. Now, please do not confuse my use of the concept of N word with other more pejorative terms. Those are wrong….bottom line. But for people looking at health and fitness, nutrition is a very difficult concept to grasp. Intellectually, we all understand it. But, what does that mean in a practical sense? How do we apply it? What are some of the challenges we face? So, I want to share my knowledge with you. This will be a bit of a long read, but please read it….and ask me questions if you need.
First, what is nutrition? I am going to provide a standard dictionary definition for you:
“the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth”
Great Rod….that is super easy. I get it. Thanks. All cleared up. I am ready to rock and roll. Yet, despite knowing this simple definition, we all struggle with this everyday. You see, we can have copious amounts of food with little to no nutritional value. And we can have highly nutritional food without any of the flavor that we have come to love and crave. For most, the biggest obstacle to health and wellness is the disconnect between food and nutrition. People have adopted the live to eat mentality as opposed to the eat to live mentality. This is highly dangerous to you as a human being. We will get back to that in a few minutes.
So let’s get to the nitty gritty of this issue. Bottom line, you need to watch your calories. You will read a ton of crap about eating properly. You will hear people say don’t eat before bedtime. Eat smaller meals. Do this…do that. I am here to tell you that all of that is really just psychological bullshit. Someone, somewhere is trying to sell you something. But the bottom line is calories. Don’t believe me? Read the linked article below about the nutritionist who ate twinkies and doritos. It will probably freak you out a bit. It certainly raises some serious questions about all this healthy eating stuff. Organic. Farm raised. Blah blah.
How about small meals? Yeah….I need to eat six small meals a day. Or I need not eat right before bed. Yeah, that is the trick. I need to do that. Well, take a gander at this article:
If you do not want to read it, here is the telling part “And a research review reached no conclusions about whether meal frequency helps or hurts with weight loss.”
What the shit man? You mean eating multiple small meals a day may possibly make me want to eat more? Damnit….damnit to hell.
Then, you have this little gem about Herschel Walker. The dude only eats one meal a day. And he is a freak of physical nature. It must be genetics.
So, according to this other blogger, you can actually gain some benefit from just eating one meal a day and it could actually be good for you. Ok, so now I am totally confused. I can eat twinkies just once a day as long as I do not exceed my total caloric intake and still lose weight and get healthy. That literally runs against the grain of everything I have ever heard in my life. Rod, I thought you said you were going to help me understand nutrition, not confuse the hell out of me. Thanks man….I hate you.
However, there is a point to all of this. You see, the real deal is that there is no magic solution. There is no surefire way to eat right or find a quick fix to your problems. In an earlier post, I equated fitness and health to yard work. To make your yard look beautiful, you have to put in the work. You cannot just plow over it with the lawnmower and expect it to look amazing. So, this is your challenge. What works for you? No one can tell you what works for you because each of us is different. It means you have to do the homework. You have to track your calories. You have to monitor your foods. You have to take into account your circumstances. YOU HAVE TO COMMIT TO DOING THE WORK!
What does this mean? I hear it all the time. Macros simply mean macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates). You have to monitor your macros means you need to look after the ratios of proteins, fats, and carbs in your diet. Earlier, we stated you could eat twinkies all day as long as you do not go over your calorie threshold. But, it you want to build muscle you will be hard pressed to do so as twinkies have no real protein content. On the flip side, you can ingest nothing but protein, but not have any carbs to help you with energy to do an activity. Fats are critical because without them, our bodies would have a really rough time. We need linoleic and linolenic acid to help with brain development, the controlling of inflammation, and blood clotting (Medline Plus, 2017). So, we have to create a healthy balance of macros to fuel our bodies. An imbalance can lead to all sorts of problems – heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, death……
Read these two resources to help you better understand what to do with macros and to truly understand the purpose of fats:
It sounds like rocket science, but it isn’t. It is work though. You have to track things for a bit. Write things down. Make the effort. Listen, I promise you that if you end up sitting there with an amputated leg or the doctor telling you that your diabetes made you go blind, you will wish you could get that time back and do the work. So, just do the work now. Suck it up…put in the effort.
I Effing Love Food
Listen folks, I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Mexican food was not just an item on a menu, it was a way of life. Enchiladas were their own food group. Tamales were darn near a religious experience. Drinking beer is likely preferred to water. It is no wonder that diabetes is a raging epidemic in the Rio Grande Valley. Nationally, diabetes is really causing problems. But, the South Texas region is literally ground zero for the epidemic.
Now, this may be anecdotal, but many people I know via Facebook regularly attend this little event called the Livestock Show and Rodeo. This is one of many events that occur back home where people just gorge themselves on some of the unhealthiest food imaginable. Listen, I do not fault people for doing this. Not one bit. Your body, your life. But, if you jump out of an airplane without a parachute, you probably should not complain on your way down that you are probably going to die. Sure, you might survive, but the odds are not in your favor. Wherever you live, you have to look at your culture, your surroundings, and your habits.
I have met a ton of Europeans that come visit Austin and they are totally shocked by the amount of food that we are served and, more importantly, the fact that people will consume everything put on a plate in front of them. Here is a fun fact:
“According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database, a 2-ounce serving of tortilla chips, or around 18 chips, contains 275 calories. Carbohydrates contribute the most at 150 calories per serving. Fats deliver 110 calories, while proteins offer 15 calories.Feb 4, 2014″
That is just 18 chips!! How many chips do you eat when you sit down at a restaurant? How many margaritas or beers do you drink?
“Eight ounces of a standard margarita on the rocks will set you back about 455 calories, while a 12-ounce margarita has about 680 calories. You can lighten up your drink by limiting the Cointreau — or triple-sec, which is sometimes used instead — and by using fresh lime juice instead of a sweetened version.Apr 23, 2015″
Now, if you are supposed to consume just about 2500 calories a day, imagine how you can blow through that. And then people wonder why they look the way they do or have diabetes. Sweet sassy molassey….it’s kinda obvious.
Look, I love food. I love cake. I love warm cookies and milk. I love all the same foods that a majority of Americans love. But at 6’8″, I weigh 229 and have 9.5% body fat. How? Because I monitor what I eat. I pay close attention to macros. I have cut out the unnecessary junk. Water is my preferred drink.
When my buddy asked whether I followed the Stoppani diet, I had to honestly say I did not. But, that does not mean that I did not pay attention to the overall needs of my body to gain muscle, lose weight, and function effectively. I consume a multi-vitamin. I drink protein shakes. I consume essential and branch chain amino acids. And I have one meal a day. That was referenced earlier as the Herschel Walker diet, but it is really commonly known as the warrior diet. That diet hearkens back to our old hunter, gatherer way of life. The tribe would hunt during the day, eating snacks of berries and such, and then feast on the kill at night. One meal….once a day. Small snacks during the day for energy. Calorie count all the way. Now, I can increase my caloric intake if I like based on the intensity of my workouts. The more I exercise, the more calories I can consume without gaining weight.
But, that works for me. You have to find what works for you. That is the trick. So, all this to say that you have to figure your needs out on your own. You have to have willpower and dedication to make things happen. There are no fad diets. No drinks. No silly programs. It is just guts and willpower and a little science. Remember, this is about eating to live. To fuel your body. Not living to eat. Not eating because it tastes good. Not eating because everyone else is doing it. It is about your health. That simple.
So, I hope you learned something today. I hope that this helps. As always, I am here to answer questions and offer my insight. I also want to hear from you all. Share your experiences. But remember, you have to put in the effort.
It is okay if you do not. No one is judging you. But, at the end of the day, the only person you can blame or pat on the back is yourself. You are your own best friend or your own worst enemy. Good luck….