Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Nutritional 2 cents

Lately I have seen a lot of posts about eating habits. Some people seem to have a pretty good idea of what is good, while others, not so much. I took a nutritional science class over the summer & learned a great deal. I loved it so much I kept my text book. I'm also currently taking anatomy & physiology in college, which is tough but educational as well (which it better be!). 


Here's something I do know, eating smaller more frequent meals leads to steadier blood sugars. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it does to someone who is trying to lose weight, or someone who is hypoglycemic, like me.


When your blood sugar spikes and dips it can cause problems metabolically. High sugar can lead to that burned out feeling when it crashes (as well as cause excess to be stored in the fat cells among other problems). The crash is where it dips below normal. At low blood sugar levels your body is not able to function at optimal capacity. Since the primary source of fuel for your cells and the brain is glucose, if there isn't enough in your system the body starts to compensate by shutting some processes down (foggy head anyone?). The brain cannot function without its sugar fuel, and if there isn't enough in the system it will seek out the largest source of glycogen stores and begin to metabolize it to convert it into sugar. Any guess what that would be? Muscle tissue. Namely skeletal muscle (there are 3 types, and this is the most abundant in your body). This is where you hear the warnings about starvation mode, risks of low calorie diets (500 kcal, or less, but in actuality it's also less than 1000 kcal over a long period of time). The body stores everything it takes in, and burns as little as possible. So what may make you lose weight with severe caloric restriction will cause a major gain if you suddenly return to normal eating habits. Why risk it? 1200 kcal is low enough that combined with exercise can help boost metabolism & promote weight loss.


That being said, the second most common error I see is eating large portions of food that add up to 1/2 or greater of your daily requirements. I understand some days are hard to get enough to eat, but it will not do you any good to eat your days worth of calories in one meal. Your body can only process and use up to a certain amount of fuel at one time. Anything left over will be processed & stored. Not in your stomach or intestines. In your fat cells (adipose tissue). So say I skip breakfast, and say lunch too. Dinner rolls around & I'm famished, low blood sugar and binge happy. I eat ala drive through at the golden arches or something similar. I think, hey I haven't eaten all day it's ok to eat 1000 kcal in one meal. Nope. My body will take what it needs, which at that low energy state I assume wouldn't be even half of that, and it will take the leftovers and store it in those trouble areas I work my butt off at the gym to reduce. 


Eating right is a learning process. It takes time, dedication and education. We got overweight by not paying attention, not exercising and eating more than our body needed to run. In order to learn new healthier habits we must keep track of what we put in our mouth, choose healthier options, and create healthier habits. 


I hope my mad rambling made sense and helps those people who were like me and unaware of what my eating habits were really doing to my body. 


EDIT: I forgot to mention, higher BMI (Body Mass Index) means higher caloric needs. Where I need 1200, someone with a higher BMI may need 1800. Just food for thought!

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