Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Americans are so funny when it comes to diet. Common sense is usually the last factor to come into play. We're always looking for the quick fix. The first "fix" came in the late 70s when Nathan Pritikin wrote The Pritikin Program for Diet and Fitness." All of the sudden fat was bad and carbs were the "in thing." Then the 90s brought the Atkins Diet craze which basically had everyone doing the exact opposite of the Pritikin diet. Now suddenly carbs were the enemy. (Makes you wonder if you should avoid any diet created by someone with a name ending in "kin." Don't worry there's no RunnerDudekin Diet in the works.)
The fact is that your body needs fat, carbs, and protein. Each plays an important role in keeping you healthy. The daily recommended allowance (DRA) of each is as follows
Carbohydrates = 45%-65% of your total caloric intake
Protein = 10%-35% of your total caloric intake
Fats = 20%-35% of your total caloric intake
Society seems to need an extreme method to latch on to to help modify their weight instead of looking at a more sensible approach (i.e., follow the guidelines and eat in moderation). For most Americans, if they make a concerted effort to reduce portion size as well as cut back on the amount of sugar and refined foods they're eating, they'd probably be very surprised to find the scales with a little lighter reading the next time they hop on them.
When I was a youngster, a meal at McDonald's consisted of a hamburger, fries and a soda. Actually that's all they had to offer. A little later they added the fish sandwich, but basically that was it. Oh yeah and the size of those burgers back then were the size that's in the kid's meal today. So 35 years ago an adult was basically eating one regular hamburger, a small fry, and a small soda. Still not all that healthy, but a lot better for you than the 1/2-pound Angus burger, large fries, and 32oz soda that many adults pickup today. Just the soda alone will eat up many of your daily calories. Did you know that the American Dietetic Association recommends that calories from sugar not exceed more than 10% of your total calories? One 12oz can of regular Coke exceeds that. Count up the number of regular soft drinks you consume each day? Then factor in your activity level? Guess where those calories are going if they're not quickly used after consumption
Almost all diets that impose strict limitations have an initially high success rate but then over time, individuals on those diets tend to gain back the weight. Why? It's hard to live a life of "I can't have that." Why not have a diet where you eat carbs, fats, and proteins, but in moderation?
Enjoy eating. Just eat in moderation. I know that's easier said than done. I was an overweight child through middle school and lost a little over 40 lbs before going to high school. Once a "fat kid" always a "fat kid", in your head at least. Like I said, it's a life chage, not a quick fix. Make common sense choices. Get active. Start slow. Maybe just start by switching to whole grain bread, then leaving off the fries, then swapping the Coke for a Diet Coke and then maybe eventually to water. Add a 15-20 minute brisk walk to your regimen each day. Then make it 20-30. Then maybe try running. Make whatever you do a habit. Aim for losing weight over time. Quick weight loss almost never remains lost. Decreasing your total weekly caloric intake by 3500 calories (or 500 calories per day) will help you to lose 1lb a week. Just think in 5 weeks with little effort, you may be 5lbs lighter. Whatever you do, start today. There's no better time!