Rational Dieting

Dieting can be a bitter pill to swallow. 

You work hard to resist the temptation of cravings and you count your calories. Essentially you do what you've been told will work. 

But it doesn't. 

At least not to the degree you want.

Our lifestyles are vastly different from even our grandparents generation. We spend a lot more time in our office chairs and on our sofas. Our diets are different also.

We eat much more than our grandparents generation. Even when we're dieting the sad truth is we're probably eating more than we need to. With our reduced activity and increased food consumption we've developed a serious obesity problem. 

For many of us we care how we look and understand how we look directly correlates with how we feel. This article is for you.

Do you remember the last day you didn't do much more than walk around the house or walk to the car and drive it to work, walk into the office and then drive home again and sit around on the sofa watching TV?

I have plenty of those days.

For the longest time I was left wondering why I still had fat on my midsection. I ate healthily, counted my calories and exercised regularly.

Not long ago I discovered what I call rational eating. 

In its most simple form, it means eating no more than what your body needs. If I spend most of my day sitting around the house doing some work on the computer and don't go to the gym or on a walk (which is pretty common in the cold winter) then I will adjust my calories drastically. 

For example on a typical day where I go to the gym for an hour and take a brief 10-20minute walk to clear my head, I will eat around 2200 calories. This is already low for what a Man is 'supposed' to eat. Yet I weigh a healthy 180lbs at 5'9 with about 10% bodyfat. Which for those of you don't know is athlete levels of bodyfat! 

However if I'm not doing much I'll drop those calories to around 1000 a day. Some days if I've consistently done little activity for an extended period I'll eat less or even nothing! 

This makes sense because if you aren't doing any exercise, where are those calories going? They're not. They will be stored by the body as fat. If you do less and less exercise you'll actually lose muscle as well which is by far, much more calorically taxing than fat. So the less muscle you have the less calories your body will even burn per day! 

What you do need to do is consider very carefully what macro-nutrients your body is taking in. Your macro-nutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fat. 

Let's explore some facts about each of these nutrients.

Protein - Protein is made up of amino acids. It's important for cell health and repairing the body. This is why bodybuilders eat so much of the stuff! If you're interested in holding on to your muscle this nutrient will play a huge role in your low calorie days!

Carbohydrates - These are essentially sugars. They are used to shuttle nutrients such as protein around the bloodstream by using the hormone insulin. You have both simple and complex carbohydrates. One group affect your insulin level very severely with dramatic spikes in blood sugar. These are known as simple carbohydrates. These should generally be avoided at all costs but on a low calorie day you should avoid them completely! 

These simple carbs include all of the foods of the white variety. Pastries, White Pasta, White Rice, White Bread. Also any other food including sugar e.g. cakes, biscuits and chocolate.

Complex carbohydrates have a low GI (Glycemic Index) score. This means the sugar is released slowly. This is extremely good for the body and prevents diseases such as diabetes. It also prevents the body from overloading and storing energy to fat. Some good examples of this food-type include Bananas, Wholemeal Pasta, Wholemeal Bread.

Fats - Fats are the highest in calories of all the macro-nutrients. While 1 gram of protein or carbs is 4 calories a gram of fat is around 9 calories. This is one of the reasons fat gets a bad rep. In general it is responsible for keeping healthy joints, brain function and even hair - Yep Ladies it makes your hair better! 

On a low calorie day I'd suggest keeping fats to a minimum. Around 20-40g is just fine. Get these from whole foods such as steaks and fish. You can also eat nuts and whole eggs. 

Remember on a low exercise/low calorie day your mission is to eat rationally. This means not only eating less but eating the right things in the right amounts. You need your protein to hold onto your important lean body mass, your fats to stay healthy and your carbohydrates to shuttle these nutrients around your body.

So a rational day of eating would be high in protein, moderate in fats and low in carbohydrates. In order to achieve this you should eat around 1 large meal or 3 small meals. You can eat Steak, Fish and Eggs as they are all very high in protein and contain healthy fats. As for your carbohydrates you can eat potato (not chips), brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholemeal bread. You'll need to select just one of these per meal and have a portion around the size of your hand. 

A method I sometimes practise on rational eating days is liquid nutrition. I'll take in a few protein shakes that day which allows me to get all the protein I need. I'll also take a few capsules of fish oils to get my healthy fats. This method is particularly useful if you're holding a lot of fat already and want to keep carbohydrates to a minimum e.g. < 50g / 200kcal per day.

So you're now fully educated in to why you should and how you can be a rational dieter! Go out now unto the world young pupil!