Wednesday, July 18, 2012

All the diet rules you need...

In trying out all kinds of diet and exercise plans over the last few years, I’ve come to the very shocking revelation: they’re all based on the same set of general principles.

We get bound up in leptin vs. insulin, cheat days vs. fast days, supplements vs. real food, calories vs. movement, and we lose sight of the real core of the process: eat well, move every day, and try to stay positive.

I’m no Mr. Universe by any stretch, but I’m not obese and have no heart condition (that I know of). I like food, yes, but there’s a limit to how much crap I can and will eat, and I think it’s important for everyone to know their limits in this regard. I haven’t been drunk in almost fifteen years, and it still shocks me how many people think that’s strange. It’s a decision I’ve made. I don’t preach abstinence from alcohol by any means...although by the same token not being drunk makes some parties a bit more annoying, when it’s clear the objective of everyone else is to be as excessive as possible.

Soapbox aside, I also know what damage alcohol does to you, so I elect to avoid it in those quantities. That should be a good enough reason, and at 37 years old I think I can just flat out say, “no, I choose not to drink,” and have that respected at face value.

Anyway, my point is that healthy living is not difficult and it doesn’t require a lot of sacrifice.

“But Steve,” I can hear you whining, “I’m [insert ethnicity here]! You can’t really expect me to live without [insert flower-based and/or gravy- and/or sugar-laden ethnic dish here]!”

Yeah, I do. Because chances are the only reason that food is so endemic to your ethnicity is that at some point your ancestors were impoverished and bulking up on white flour was the only way to stave off hunger. And now that we know that a cup of spaghetti has the same nutrient profile as a can of Coke, maybe it’s time to recognize it for what it is.

Am I saying stop eating spaghetti or perogies? No. I love them too. I’m saying stop serving pasta as a meal on its own, and observe a little common sense.

And yes, you can live without it. You’re human. I’ve gone a year without eating pasta, and so far the only adverse effect has been losing weight. So...your choice.

OK, here are the rules to live by, based on a culmination of pretty well everything there is to read online and off that’s become available in the last 20 years:

1. If it’s white, or was white, or could become white, don’t eat it. The exceptions are cauliflower and eggs. I personally also exclude milk from this list, but still substitute almond milk in my coffee.
2. If you must eat grains, do it in the morning when your cells need (and are primed to use) the fuel.
3. Eat meat and vegetables.
4. If a thing has more than three ingredients on the label that you can’t buy elsewhere in the store, don’t eat it. You won’t be able to break it apart. For example, if you see a sauce that’s made up of twelve ingredients, and one of those ingredients is guar gum, don’t eat it. If there’s no aisle in the store that shelves “guar gum,” why would you eat it?
5. Break a sweat every day. Preferably while lifting something. Preferably something other than yourself. Walking doesn’t count -- you should be doing that anyway.

That’s it. Five rules: Avoid sugar and starch; eat grains in the morning, tapering off by lunch; focus on vegetables and protein; don’t eat overly processed foods; get off your ass. Even if you just start with this, chances are you’ll find you have more energy and might even start to see some pounds dropping off. Don’t worry about calories. Don’t worry about which exercise is best for whatever. Pick up some dumbbells and put down the Ding Dongs. It will work.


Post a Comment