Better Mind, Better Body: Get Set…

Submitted by Annapurna, Part 2 of 3

Now that you’ve started looking at yourself — what you want, why you want it — before you start a diet or fitness program, don’t rely on that stranger or friend who lost 10 pounds or the latest diet fad. All you need to know is available at your fingertips: the Internet.  Or the library.

Get to know what your body does to food, why protein is so important, the good carbs & fats vs bad carbs & fats, etc.  Get to know how your body responds to certain foods.  Gradually, between knowing yourself more and knowing what food does to your body, you’ll make decisions on whether to undo the hours and money you’ve put into yourself based on knowledge — not emotional reactions, judgment calls about yourself, or heresay.

Any diet — and by diet, I mean it’s real definition, food choices — has to do as much as with how your body metabolizes food as much what’s being eaten.  The physiology behind gaining weight is simple:  energy intake is greater than energy used.

Everything you eat is broken down by the stomach to keep the body fueled.   Carbs have a bad rep because they can be broken down into sugars and starches, which are stored as fat.  But, carbs are also broken down to glucose to produce the energy molecule ATP (adenosinetriphosphate) aided by vitamins and minerals.

The glycemic index (GI) is the degree to which foods raise your blood sugar and contributes to weight gain.  Good carbs = complex carbs, where the body must work to get to the sugars and starches.  They have to get through fiber, vitamins and minerals, even good fats and protein — all of which the body uses and needs.  Bad carbs = simple, refined carbs.  Refined, processed foods, such as in white bread or white rice, have already been stripped of nutrients, are quickly broken down, release lots of insulin, and with no nutrients in the way, are stored as fat.

Eating as per GI is what athletes naturally follow and healthy diets are based on, such as the South Beach Diet or The Zone.  It’s easier than counting calories and in my opinion, more beneficial.

First, eating doesn’t become about numbers.  It’s easier to remember what consists of complex carbs and good carbs, proteins, and good fats versus simple, refined, processed food.  It’s difficult to gauge if it’s a combo or you haven’t made the food yourself.  Eating good foods vs bad becomes common sense once you know what is “good” and why.  A habit is formed, a lifestyle, rather than a regimented straitjacket that won’t last.

Second, the bad rep carbs has is wrong as well as misleading.  A “low calorie” cookie is worse than quarter of an avocado and will make you hungrier faster.  It’s made of highly refined, processed food with no vitamins or minerals thus gets broken down the body quickly resulting in excess insulin and storage of fat.

Third, low fat is as misleading as low calorie.  Good fats are critical to lowering cholesterol.  They also help us know when we’re full. Simple carbs make us hungrier: can’t stop at one chip?  No one can.

Finally, eating as per GI will give you energy not just make you lose weight.  Complex carbs are broken down into glucose more slowly than simple carbs and thus provide a gradual steady stream of energy throughout the day.

Getting a better body isn’t just about numbers, but attitude as already discussed, and being able to use your body, whether it’s to play with your kids, live healthy enough to see your grandkids, exercise which is critical for any diet to work, or get through a workday with a sharp, concentrated mind.

This is just a gateway to the knowledge you should acquire.  Make it fun. Studies show that those who cook are less obese – -not only do thye knock out all the bad fats, carbs inevitably found in restaurant food but they know the ingredients and try deifferent recipes.

From the Zone to the South Beach to whole grains or Mediterranean food, whatever floats your boat, if you know what is good for your body, you can experiment!

This isn’t about a “diet.”  It will be a lifestyle change: how much of one depends on what your lifestyle currently consists of.  Recipes, research, changing up your exercise regiment makes it all more interesting and gives you more knowledge.  There’s no failure or guilt; just another adventure!

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