This article is a collection of knowledge from fitness magazines, health websites and lots of reading on human biology, however I must say that I am not a dietitian or any kind of expert on the subject. With it I am attempting to shed some light into the human body-food relationship in hope of helping overweight people, people with anorexia nervosa or just people who want to maintain a healthy diet.
First of all you have got to understand how your body works when it comes to food. My theory is that when you learn the very basic “mechanics” of anything then you can use those basic rules to your advantage. Hopefully, if you don’t get what i mean by that, you’ll get the point when you finish reading this article!
To start with, an average male needs at least 2500 calories a day and an average female 2000 calories a day. These calories will be used for three different reasons.
- Support the body. That means an amount of your daily calorie intake will be metabolized to sustain your main bodily functions. These bodily functions that would take place if, say, you were to spend your day lying on a bed. So that would be your organs, your IMMUNE system and brain. Yes, poor diet means you are more likely to suffer a cold or something worse and have poor cognitive functions.
- Daily needs other than bodily functions. That means walking, working, exercising or whatever other you are doing during the day.
- Waste. Your body will only use the amount of calories it needs and the rest, unnecessary calories will hopefully be metabolized to leave your body. The reason behind the “hopefully will be explained below.
Depending on your dietary habits you can increase or decrease the amount of calories that are going to be metabolized out of your body to lose or gain weight respectively by speeding up or slowing down your metabolism. To succeed into increasing that amount, assuming you don’t have any major health problems that would get in the way, read the following very carefully!
Ideally you have to consult a doctor or another expert to determine how many calories you need a day. Our ancestors used to have dishes high in calories and fat but that was only because they were doing heavy work and they didn’t have the common luxury of central heating and home insulation that we now enjoy and they had to stay warm. However the change in the lifestyle was not followed by a change in dietary habits. That is essentially why people are getting fat! Their diet and their lifestyle are incompatible!
The amount I mentioned at the beginning was only for the average person, and now we are speaking about you in particular. Once you have established exactly how many calories you need a day divide that amount of calories, that you’d normally get in the two or three meals you are normally having a day to, at least 4, 5 or even 6 (if you can swing it) meals and snacks a day (3 meals and 2-3 snacks).
Frequent and smaller portions are better for speeding up the metabolism than few and big ones, even if the calorific value of the sum of the parts is the same in either case.
If you are having one or two meals a day your body things there is not enough food to go about and is thus using the calorific surplus that would otherwise go to waste to store fat for times of emergency. That is particularly alarming for men! Ever noticed how overweight men tend to develop breasts? That is because in breaking down fat the female hormone estrogen is produced and thus, as estrogen levels rise it suppresses testosterone levels, which causes loss of much coveted big muscles, smaller penis, smaller testicles, and bigger breasts and it goes on to create a vicious circle. The only advantage I can see in higher estrogen levels is the reduced chances of alopecia, aka baldness, as one of the reasons behind it is increased levels of testosterone. Ever seen some old women with facial hair and bald heads? As they age their estrogen levels are decreasing and the testosterone already present in their blood, although not increased, remain higher than estrogen levels and is thus causing all those changes.
Having many small meals and snacks throughout the day tricks your body into thinking that there is plenty of food so the body then not needing to worry about lack of food in times of emergency, does not only waste all of the daily calorific surplus but also burns the fat that was stored already. This way of eating speeds up your metabolism, because it works more often during the day even, even if it’s for a smaller duration each time, thus forced to work more efficiently to break down all the food that comes in more often than what it would if you were only eating 2 or 3 times a day.
Hence, you don’t have to restrict your self to certain foods and starve yourself to death in order to lose weight. That will only result in your body suffering because if you don’t get enough calories your body will feed on itself by breaking down muscle you need. That is essentially why people suffering from anorexia nervosa will, unless treated psychologically, eventually develop a heart condition and die. The body will eventually start breaking down the muscles of the heart to create calories to feed itself, weakening it down and thus rendering it impossible for it to keep up on pumping blood through the body. However, as miraculous as this diet sounds you still got to exclude from your diet foods high in fat(unless of course you got a very active lifestyle like our ancestors did, but you can allow yourself one guilty pleasure or two a week so you don’t feel like you are giving up too much for a healthy diet.
Ever heard of the expression “Breakfast of a king, lunch of a prince, supper of a beggar”? There is a basis behind that as the function of digestion is more active during the early hours of the day and less active during the evening. Try and follow that by eating the majority of your calories early in the day with a hearty breakfast, eating smaller and smaller meals through the day down to a light supper. Never eat after 9 in the evening unless it’s vegetables. A banana and an apple would make a great addition to your breakfast and an alternative to your morning coffee as bananas have a chemical that your brain seeks if it doesn’t get enough sleep and an apple does the same job as caffeine. Have your coffee, during midday since it acts as a hunger suppressant and it’s also a good lift-me-up. A nice double Espresso would do just fine. Espresso coffee might have the highest caffeine concentration but it is actually the lightest coffee you can get since the volume of the actual coffee is much less than half of the volume of other coffees. Nuts, although some of them are really high in fats, are a great way of snacking and a great source of other much-needed vitamins and minerals. Drinking plenty of water will ensure you are properly hydrated and make you feel fuller on top of that. Speaking of water soups are a great form of food, as you get all the calories you need, you get hydrated, you are getting fuller faster plus the food gets dissolved slower so it lasts longer!
Eat slow and enjoy your food. Your body will start producing digestive fluids in your stomach in the mere vision, smell or even thought of food! Case in point, just talking passionately about your favorite dish your mouth is getting watery! Treat each time you eat as the first time you are eating after days of starvation or excessive work. Close your eyes and take a deep whiff to savor the smell of it, trying to separate the ingredients if you can. Take the first bite but don’t rush to swallow it. Instead move it around your mouth, savor each taste and really take it in. Personally speaking, if one was to watch me go through that process would think I was having sex! Try and act the same if you can. Hopefully it will change your perception of food!
Don’t eat to stuff yourself because you are hungry, eat so that you won’t get hungry. The 6 meals a day will certainly help with that This way you don’t eat more than what you need to, since the message from your stomach that you are full takes 20 minutes to reach your brain, and by that time you have eaten 20 minutes worth of food more than what you really needed!
If you want to tone up you’ve got to have short and regular working out sessions that shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes three times a week. If you choose to go for three times a week you can alternate between weight and cardiovascular exercises and you have to keep varying your exercises all the time before your body get’s accustomed to those exercises and to alow your body time to heal itself from the exercising. When you exercise what you are essentially doing to your muscles is you are stressing them and causing microscopic tears on them, when you give them time to rest you body does what it knows how to do best, repairs them and makes them stronger so they can take heavier stress next time, which explains the bulkiness of a well-trained muscle. Ideally two or three different exercises for each muscle group that you can combine in a superset . The more muscle groups a single exercise engages, the more fat you will be burning. Also the biggest the muscle the exercise engages the more fat it burns! Thus sit ups are one of the best fat burners as gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle on the human body.
Do always keep in mind though, that the more calories you consume the more free radicals are produced! And free radicals are one of the main reason why we age! So look it up on-line for more info as this started as a small piece of info and it’s getting close to 2000 words, that’s almost a small essay for a university course!
This “diet” plan is the only natural effective and body/health friendly way to burn fat without risking wasting precious muscle tissue. Last but not least, diet is your eating habits, the kinds of food you habitually consume, not a special plan of what you are allowed to eat as the common misconception is. That is why in my previous paragraph I put the word diet in quotes.