True 180 Personal Training | Nutrition Addition by Subtraction

Nutrition Addition by Subtraction: Straight Talk on Better Nutrition

The concepts of super foods and metabolism boosting foods are not just wrong, but harmful.

In nutrition adding a “super food” to your current diet means you are just adding calories.  Adding extra calories makes any diet less healthy because over nutrition is toxic, and is likely the greatest driver of chronic inflammation in our society (also, more here if you want).

Before we get to the “how to” portion, let me make sure I am specific/clear about a few things that could be confusing and/or offensive from the intro:
Overnutrition:  this is more calories that your body needs.  This is about health not aesthetics.  We are all very different in how many calories we can healthfully store.  One researcher, Roy Taylor, who has successfully documented reversing type 2 diabetes, calls this your “personal fat threshold.” 

For example, at my current weight of 180-ish, my blood pressure is good.  When I gain 10lbs it gets borderline high.  5 more pounds and it is just plain old high (130-140 over 85-90+).  This was really surprising to me because at 195 pounds I have 13-ish percent body fat.  13% body fat is pretty lean for a man in his 40’s, and aesthetically I was fine with that. This seems to be where my personal fat threshold is, or where I run out of healthy storage and my body begins storing fat in my liver, etc. and it begins having a negative impact on my health.  Beauty comes in all shapes…

Super food:  there is no such thing as a “super food.”  That is a marketing term used to get clicks or sell products, or both.  There are no foods that are mandatory for anyone.  For example: Spinach is great, but if you’d rather eat some other kinds of green vegetable, you’ll be just fine, and you do need to feel pressured to figure out how to fit spinach and brussels sprouts and kale and whatever else is fashionable into you daily routine.
Diet: here it just means what you eat not any particular diet plan.

3 Most Common Categories
Fruit.  Whole, fresh or frozen fruits are usually low in calories, and high in fiber and nutrients.  Fruits are especially useful when we use them to replace something with more calories. To use breakfast for example:  you can replace your buttered toast (120-200 calories) with a cup of strawberries (49 calories). 

However, adding fruit on top of our normal diet – especially when we use fruit juice or smoothies as our “fruit” we’re just adding 100’s and 100’s of calories to our day, and that has profoundly negative impacts on your health.  Furthermore, fruit juice is not healthy – it is the nutritional equivalent of soda.  In other words, juice is water and a high fructose sweetener.  If you are thinking that juice is different because it is “natural” and “comes from a plant,” keep in mind that both sugar and high fructose corn syrup are processed extracts from plants where the calories + sweetening power are concentrated and the fiber is minimized… in other words, they’re nearly identical.

Fats.  Adding healthy fats to your regular diet will turn any kind of fat (even extra virgin, organic, cold-pressed) into something very unhealthy – an influx of extra calories. Each tablespoon of fat has about 120 calories.  A better way to look at the concept of “healthy fats” would be to see about replacing some of the less healthy fats in your diet with healthier ones.

Veggies.  Veggies are great in and of themselves.  Best of all is when we use them to replace higher calorie foods. Many clients find that replacing all or most of their starch at a meal with some kind of high fiber veggie is a great way to reduce their calories, boost fiber and still feel full.  Things become problematic when we cook the veggies in copious amounts of healthy fat and add them to our normal meals.

Bottom line:  the bottom line for everything here is that we are well served if we think about replacing or swapping out one thing for another vs. adding more food on top of what we’re already eating.

We live in an unprecedented time in human history: one of our greatest problems is that we have too much food in both quantity and variety.  We evolved for relatively limited variety (like when you couldn’t get decent raspberries in January), and where anything approaching gourmet took a lot of time and effort (Door Dash couldn’t make it magically appear).
For most of human history adding variety was a good idea, and now, for many, it’s not.  This is counterintuitive to be sure, and it is very helpful to remember that our environment has changes faster than we will ever be able to adapt.

Happy Adding by Subtracting!

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