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What is the Paleo Diet?

April 14th, 2014 No comments

The Paleo diet (the Paleolithic diet) can simply be explained as a special dietary lifestyle that focuses only on eating natural food (fish, meat, poultry, fruits, and vegetables). This natural food, however, must be only partially processed, or not processed at all.

Although the Paleo diet’s dietary menu is quite old, the Paleo diet itself is the most recent diet to hit the world of fitness. The Paleo diet reached its worldwide popularity thanks to Paleo diet related books like The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain, The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, and The Paleo Solution by Rob Wolf. These books made the Paleo diet widely known and practiced.

The Paleo diet’s basic principles are quite simple. Paleolithic Diet Theory presents a fully integrated, holistic, comprehensive dietary theory combining the best features of all other dietary theories, eliminating the worst features and simplifying it all.

Studies have shown that our bodies are optimized to consume quite different food from what we are now eating. Our bodies are best suited for our ancient ancestors' menus - natural food that can be eaten raw. Although the Paleo diet has many different, yet creative names, it's basically a low-carb, high-protein, and high-fiber diet. This is one very few diets that allow you to eat properly without cutting calories. Also, because this is a high-fiber diet, meals guarantee the feeling of fullness, which means that you won't be experiencing hunger pangs.

paleo

 What you can eat on the Paleo Diet

Aside from meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables, the Paleo diet also includes eggs, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils (like olive and coconut). The Paleo diet forbids grains, dairy, salt, legumes, potatoes, refined sugars, and refined vegetable oils. It's carnivore-friendly, but it is the cut on the grains and dairy that makes it difficult to follow for so many people. Have in mind that giving up on dairy products can cause health issues, as the human body is left without an important natural source of calcium. To avoid these issues, food supplements should be considered, especially Calcium and Vitamin D. Considering the fact that nuts, although rich in essential fatty acids and proteins, are real calorie bombs. You should get familiar with their nutritional facts prior to including them in your dietary plan. Check out a comprehensive infographic on nuts that should help you in doing so.

Because the Paleo diet comes with some serious renunciations, Loren Cordain says cheating is allowed, especially in the beginning. Cordain says beginners are allowed to eat whatever they want three meals a week, referring to these meals as "open meals."

Although the Paleo diet emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables -- and is therefore suitable for vegetarians and vegans -- Cordain says that it is practically impossible to follow a Paleo diet without eating fish, meat, seafood, and eggs.

Unlike our ancient ancestors, we have to buy most of our food (unless we are growing certain food for ourselves), and that is a flaw of the Paleo diet - high meat and fish prices. If we manage to put this "little" fact aside, the variety of recipes that follow Paleo diets is really huge, so the one thing you will never have to worry about is what meal you'll be preparing that day.

FOODS TO EAT

FOODS TO AVOID

Lean meat

Processed Foods and Sugars

Fruit

Dairy

Vegetables

Grains

Nuts and Seeds

Starches

Sea Food

Legumes

Good Fats

Alcohol

 

Healthier than Most Diets

Whatever else is said about the Paleo diet, it is your ticket to a healthier lifestyle. You'll be eating only food that your body is optimized for, and at the same time you'll be avoiding lots of food your body is not ideally suited for, all of that without feeling hungry all the time. It’s worth noting that there are no proven health benefits (like weight loss benefits, or cardiovascular benefits). If your goals are losing excess weight, and/or weight maintenance, exercise is a must. Have in mind that our ancient ancestors were always on the move, hunting and gathering their food. Their Paleolithic diet wasn't the only factor that made them fit, agile, and muscular.

As for the Paleo diet itself, it is something you can do on your own, thanks to a large number of articles, recipes and many other resources available worldwide.

About the author:
Goran Bogunovich's fitness career started some fifteen years ago. Since then he has been learning and testing knowledge on himself. His experience in fitness, strength training, nutrition and supplementation will benefit the fitwithus.com community.

America, I Love You, But You’re Fat

March 27th, 2014 No comments

The USA is wonderful. I love the great land, the beautiful scenery, the big history and the friendly people. I try to go to the States at least once a year but one thing that bugs me -- the same thing that bugs a lot of people when they visit the US -- is the inordinate number of obese people or the many “average just plain overweight” people you see.

It’s not just my perception, it’s a documented, statistical fact.

One Third of The U.S. Population is Considered Obese
The CDC reports that “more than one-third (age-adjusted 34.9%, crude 35.1%) of U.S. adults were obese in 2011–2012.” In actual numbers that meant “more than 78 million adults were obese.” It's an ongoing issue that has been known for a while: “most recent national data from 2011–2012 on obesity prevalence among U.S. adults show that there was no significant change since 2009–2010." 2

And it’s not going to get better in the near future, because...

Childhood Obesity Rises All the Time
In the last 30 years, childhood obesity has tripled. Over 15% of US kids are obese; not overweight... obese.

Figure 1: Trends in obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years, by sex: United States, 1971–1974 through 2009–2010. Source: CDC
graph-1Note: Obesity is body mass index greater or equal to the 95th percentile of the sex- and age-specific 2000 CDC growth charts.

That means things are going to get worse in the future. Obese kids are going to grow up to be obese people. They’re going to be obese people who have no idea what it’s like to be thin... ingrained in their self image, it's going to be very hard for them to ever be thin.

75% of Obese People Aren't Obese

A study released in 2011 interviewed men and women who didn’t think they were overweight were 71 per cent less likely to want to lose weight, while 65 per cent of women didn't feel the urge to diet.3 Of course not. That’s just part of the problem, of course.

The problem is that obese people don’t think they’re obese. A survey by IFIC Foundation Food and Health in 2010 found that only 23% of obese Americans think they are obese. That’s less than one in five who have a grip on reality. That number pretty much watches up with other surveys.

A survey by The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that 88% of adults think they are in good or excellent health, even though nearly half of them were taking as many as three or more daily medications for chronic medical problems.

And again, this problem of perception extends to childhood obesity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found in a survey that 50% of the parents of obese children don’t consider their children overweight, even. People latch onto the thinnest evidence to deny that there’s a problem that is not going away.

Are you depressed yet? There's more. NBC in 2012 quotes a Duke University study that shows that "the already obese are getting fatter. Severe obesity will double by 2030, when 11 percent of adults will be nearly 100 pounds overweight, or more." 4

This has been a growing problem that health experts have warned about for some time now. When it was predicted years ago, people denied it, they deny it's a problem today and they'll deny it's a problem ten years from now.

americas-obesity-epidemic

I’m looking at you America. Honestly, I love you but you are fat. And you really need to do something about it.

1 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm
2 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db131.htm
3 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1372310/U-S-denial-obesity-overweight-adults-dont-think-problem.html#ixzz2wivHad6e
4 http://www.nbcnews.com/id/47324248/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/no-end-us-obesity-epidemic-forecast-shows/#.Uy37XIWo3rs

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Best Recovery Foods and Supplements Post Workout

March 16th, 2014 No comments

The post-workout meal is one of the most important meals of the day. In the first 30 to 45 minutes after working out, your body craves protein and carbohydrates. This is the best time to drink a protein shake and have a complete meal that is rich in quality protein and carbohydrates. Post-workout foods and supplements can help athletes prevent muscle loss and recover faster after intense training. Good nutrition is essential for muscle growth and repair.

Here are the best recovery foods and supplements post-workout:

L-Glutamine

Even though athletes are advised to take their daily nutrients from real food, proper supplementation can speed up recovery time and promote muscle growth. L-glutamine is one of the best post-workout supplements. This amino acid helps muscles recover from all the stress that’s placed on them. It also strengthens the immune system, prevents catabolism, and helps build muscle. For optimal benefits, take at least five grams of glutamine daily. Bodybuilders need up to 15 grams a day.

BCAAs

Branched chain amino acids support muscle development and recovery. These natural compounds protect your muscles against the catabolic effects of a calorie-deficit diet. Whether you want to build muscle or reduce your body fat levels, BCAA supplementation is essential. These supplements increase the rate of protein synthesis, reduce muscle breakdown, and spike blood amino acid levels.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular sports supplements available today. Not only it helps increase muscle mass and strength, but also accelerates recovery time and improves exercise performance. If you take creatine daily, your muscles will look fuller and recover faster after strenuous workouts. Creatine supplementation increases the production of ATP, which helps improve athletic performance. As a result, you'll be able to do more reps and lift heavier weights.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a staple in any bodybuilder's diet. This type of protein enhances muscle recovery and growth, boosts the immune function, and improves physical performance. If you drink whey protein shakes post workout, add dextrose or other source of carbs. Those who want to build muscle can use a weight gainer containing whey protein and carbs. Unlike other types of protein, whey is easy to digest and contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs.

Complex Carbs from Foods

Oatmeal, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables should be part of your daily menu. These super foods contain complex carbs and dietary fiber. They help replenish muscle glycogen stores, aid in digestion, and help you build lean muscle. Whole grains are perfect for reloading the muscle energy stores. Green leafy vegetables contain high amounts of water, which helps replace the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat.

Antioxidants

If you want to lose weight and boost your metabolic rate, eat antioxidant-rich foods after working out. Berries, green tea, vitamin c chewable tablets(derived from natural resources) and broccoli are the best sources of antioxidants. These compounds help your body get rid of toxins and metabolic waste. Green tea reduces muscle damage induced by exercise and increases metabolism. If you drink a cup of green tea post workout, your body will keep burning calories at a faster rate.

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Know the Facts Before You Cut Calories

June 30th, 2009 No comments

The ridiculous 1200-1600 calorie a day diets that I spoke about in my last post don't often take exercise into account, even though most of the diets can be found in the pages of fitness magazines. When exercise is added it can create a big problem for dieters. As an example, if you shave calories down to 1600 a day and cut 500 more through exercise, it actually brings you lower than the approximately 1200 a day needed just to keep your brain and body functioning properly. Try and build metabolism boosting muscle with that kind of lifestyle. Am I the only one thinking this sounds like a good way to slow down and not speed up your metabolism?

And that’s not a number I pulled out of my head. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 1200 calories, or more accurately 10 calories for every pound of body weight on a woman and 11 for a man, is the number that your body requires just to keep internal organs functioning while you’re at rest. It is known as your resting metabolic rate (RMR). As soon as you get out of bed your caloric requirements increase.

I view those approximately 1200 calories as the end result, not the target. Say I eat 2100 calories a day. 400-500 go to my workouts, be they cardiovascular or strength. Several hundred more go to activity I engage in throughout the day, like when I walk to my kitchen, car or desk, tidy, water my plants, etc. And of course when I eat more I burn more calories through digestion. The point is at the end of the day I’ve used these calories up so I don’t store them as fat. What should remain is the 1200 calories that go to my body’s basic functions - although since I’ve been building muscle for over a year that base number has probably increased, because muscle requires more calories for maintenance than fat does. We should be trying to meet the goal of using up the calories we take in, not trying to create a deficit.

I should point out that I obviously don't know all the answers, I'm just tired of all the focus on cutting calories as the solution to every person's weight problems. I'd much rather see a "diet" that doesn't mention a calorie goal at all, but that encourages people to eat quality foods and eat small meals more often, which gives the body a steady supply of fuel so it doesn’t have to store unused energy as fat. What are your thoughts on weight maintenance?

Make a Healthier Pasta Salad

June 23rd, 2009 No comments

Cold pasta salads are synonymous with summer, but so are the excessive amounts of fat and calories that come with the creamy varieties. Not so good if you are trying to lose weight. Before you pick up a premade pasta salad at the grocery store for your next family BBQ, ask yourself if you'd be making the same purchase if the salad was just for yourself.

Even though my personal grocery list would never feature a store bought pasta salad, I usually wouldn't hesitate to grab one for a potluck or take a few scoops at a friendly gathering. Funny thing is I don't even like the overly saucy salads that much...has anyone else noticed the weird aftertaste? Like many unhealthy things they are just convenient. But homemade pasta salad can actually be pretty convenient as well, and a whole lot healthier.

The first rule for making a nutritious pasta salad is cutting down on the mayonnaise dressing, or even better skipping it altogether. Opt for your favorite oil and vinegar based dressing, such as Italian or herb. Then simply chop up any veggies you have on hand. Celery, green, red and yellow peppers, onion, carrot, cucumber, tomato - the combinations are endless. Add in some olives and feta for a Greek version. Canned tuna is a great way to add healthy protein. And I shouldn't have to say it but whole wheat pasta is a must. Never pass up an opportunity to increase your fiber intake.

Directions: Cook the pasta el dente so your salad isn't soggy and mix it all together. No really, that's all you have to do.

As with most foods, no matter how much you alter pasta salad it still won't be lacking in the calories department. So control your portions. Take a small scoop of a few and load the rest of your plate with veggies and some lean protein. And because we all like variety, let us know how you make your pasta salad.