One of the most important considerations in a nutritional protocol is the body’s hydration levels. Our bodies are mainly made up of water with our brain being comprised of 75% water, our blood being 92% water and our muscles being 75% water. Most people are chronically dehydrated and this affects every process in the body including the ability to digest food Research has shown that around 75% of our hunger pangs are signals of thirst with mild dehydration slowing your metabolism by as much as 3%. I highly recommend that you drink at least eight glasses of pure water every day. Drink a glass of water within 30 minutes of waking up, since you become slightly dehydrated through the night. Avoid drinking too much water while eating as this can dilute stomach acid and impair digestion and absorption of foods. Water is also needed to detoxify the body so when you are dehydrated your ability to eliminate toxins will be reduced and as a consequence this can lead to you holding on to excessive body fat.
Another great investment on the nutrition front is to convert to organic foods. It may seem a little expensive at first but in return for your health and we11 being it is a small price to pay. Not only is organic food free from chemical pesticides, preservatives, hormones and antibiotics it also has a much higher levels of nutrients than commercially farmed foods. The body needs easily accessible high quality nutrients every day to run itself. These nutrients are much more available in organic foods and also in much greater amounts.
It is also very important with regards to nutrients to not only get good quality foods but also to eat a diverse range of foods. This variety of food selection increases your chances of receiving the correct nutrients for your body to operate. If you only eat a restricted number of foods then your body only receives the nutrients available from those foods. Most people only eat about 15 different foods on a weekly basis and only get a limited amount of nutrients from these foods. By increasing your selection of foods you receive a wider variety of nutrients. Variety in food selection is also important in preventing food intolerances. Food intolerances develop when the body is exposed to the same foods so often that the immune system responds as if there is an invader present such as a bacteria or a virus. When this happens constantly it will deplete your immune system leaving you susceptible to further infections and can also be responsible for symptoms as varied as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and chronic headaches. A common problem among people today is wheat or gluten intolerance. The proteins in wheat and other grain products upset the gut lining and provoke an immune response which can lead to degenerative processes. As wheat products are so prevalent in the Western diet, complete or even temporary abstinence from it can provide promising results. Safe alternatives to these grains include corn, rice, buckwheat and millet.
Processed foods are always best to be avoided. Most of the vital nutrients are lost in the processing and have to be synthetically added back in. Anything that is fortified or has vitamins added in means everything of any use was destroyed in the processing. Processed fats and sugars cause particular problems in the body. Hydrogenated fats found in ready meals, margarines, fat replacement products and many sauces have been artificially altered to preserve their shelf life, a process that makes them harmful to your cells. They resemble healthy fats making it difficult for your cells to distinguish the two apart. They cannot perform the desired function within the cell and open the door to significant health problems. Refined sugars found in most foods tax the body because they convert to glucose very quickly in the blood causing the body to produce insulin. As well as lowering blood sugar, insulin promotes fat storage which is why a diet high in refined sugars and processed foods makes you fat. It is also the main cause of Adult Onset Diabetes where the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, gets so exhausted that it eventually has to make poor quality insulin which is ineffective and leads to diabetes and weight gain. It is vitally important to control blood sugar levels for this reason throughout the day. I strongly suggest you eat before you become hungry and have sensible snacks during the day to stop your blood sugar levels from dropping too much.
With regard to the correct balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates at each meal every single person is different. While one ratio may be correct for one person, it may have no effect on another and be downright dangerous for a third. We are all as different internally as we are externally and this needs to be reflected in our food weightings. Each meal should contain a balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates at every sitting with the exact ratios being individually specific. Listening to your body is an easy way to see if you have the balance right. If after an hour of eating a meal you feel energetic, bright and mentally alert chances are that you are close to your individual ratio. If, however, you feel hungry, lethargic and mentally tired then the food balance was inappropriate for you. Most people live on a diet that is high in refined sugars (or carbohydrates), high in processed fats, which are of no use anyway, and low in good quality proteins. By reducing carbohydrate intake through cutting down on refined sugars and processed foods and eating good quality proteins and fats most people will feel significantly better. Sensible sources of fats and proteins include oily fish, lean meats, nuts, seed and organic dairy produce. Great sources of non refined carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. By experimenting to find your personal fuel mix you will feel nutritional fulfilment, sustained energy and glowing health.
It is vitally important, particularly if you are trying to lose weight, to not cut calorie consumption. When you do the body thinks it is starving and stores fat as a self protective mechanism. This is backed up by the statistics that show that around 90% of all people who go on a calorie restricted diet gain all the weight back within a year and most gain more. This is because as humans we are self protecting organisms and during famine, which is what calorie restriction is, we produce fat storing enzymes. On these protocols initial weight loss comes through loss of body t1uid and muscle mass. Eventually the body breaks down its own tissue to survive and you sacrifice your health in that you become malnourished or you return to your normal eating habits with an increased number of fat storing enzymes and gain even more weight. It is important when trying to lose weight to eat enough calories so your body doesn’t produce these fat storing enzymes. With regular exercise you will create a negative calorific balance and weight loss will begin. Your exact number of calories will depend on your size, your metabolic rate and your activity levels. Without overeating, again experiment to find the right amount of food for your body to run it’s everyday processes. If you feel hungry, lethargic or irritable then chances are you’re starving yourself so up your calorie intake until you feel it is correct.
By taking all these points on board you will work towards losing any excess weight in the form of body fat, promote lean muscle tissue development and dramatically improve your health status. You will enjoy increased physical energy and mental clarity and greatly increase your chances of avoiding disease and degeneration.
Chris Hines CSCS
Fat Loss Specialist