Thursday, April 29, 2010

Understand Your Fat!

Fat is a very interesting nutrient. It's amazing how we have been taught to avoid it at all costs. Even when you turn on the TV, you are bombarded by commercials that equate fat to the plague.

Fat, like all other nutrients, has a very important role in a balanced diet. Unfortunately, a diet that is high in fat can lead to severe health complications which result in death. This is scary, and should not be touched upon lightly. The over consumption of fat in America is an epidemic, except that consuming fat is voluntary and easily moderated with the proper knowledge.

Fat is vital for a number of reasons, such as: our cell walls require fat , our organs use fat as a cushion from impact, fat is used to insulate ourselves from the cold, and much more. In reference to physical activity, fat is used for long term energy. A great comparison for the use of fat is like that between two runners. One runner is a sprinter and the other runs marathons. A sprinter engages in anaerobic activity, which does not require oxygen intake. Conversely, a marathon runner engages in aerobic activity, which requires oxygen intake. Since the utilization of fat requires oxygen, and the utilization of carbohydrates does not require oxygen, the marathon runner uses fat for energy. On the other hand, a sprinter uses a stored form of carbohydrates called glycogen, which does not require oxygen. If you think about it, a sprinter can literally sprint a 20-yard dash and hold his/her breath. Although I would not recommend it, it's true. A marathoner on the other hand can absolutely not run a marathon and hold his/her breath. Since carbohydrate stores only last about 45-50 min during physical activity, fat becomes the main source of energy.

Fat also slows down the metabolic absorption of nutrients. In other words, if you eat a lot of fat, your body will take a longer time to absorb nutrients when compared to not eating a lot of fat. This issue can complicate pre and especially post workout meals. A high fat meal before a typical gym workout is not recommended because your body will not have enough time to metabolize it all. Your body will benefit from a pre-workout meal that is high in complex carbohydrates and moderate in protein around 2 hours before exercise.

High fat meals as a form of post-workout nutrition are not beneficial because your body is starving for quick acting simple sugars to replenish glycogen stores and for protein to rebuild muscle that has just been broken down. Eating a lot of fat after a workout will compromise the absorption of vital carbohydrates and protein.

Fat (and I mean healthy unsaturated fat) is best to eat in the middle of the day or at least a meal before or after a pre/post workout meal. Use fat to your advantage! It's very filling and keeps us satiated. Having fat (such as peanut butter) during a mid-meal snack is awesome because you don't have to eat a lot of it and it will keep you full until your next meal. Just be aware that it is difficult to regulate fat intake and it is over twice as hard to burn than carbohydrates or protein!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

KFC Cares About You!

Well, not really. In fact, KFC really doesn't care about you. Replace bread with two pieces of deep fried "chicken" (I use quotations because the chickens used have been artificially raised), two pieces of bacon, and two slices of cheese and shove that bad boy in your mouth. You will have just ingested 540 calories, 32 g of fat, half of your daily limit of saturated fat, 0.5 g of transfat (the only KFC wrap/sandwich containing transfat) and food from three different animals! The definition of food is: Material, usually of plant or animal origin, that contains or consists of essential body nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals, and is ingested and assimilated by an organism to produce energy, stimulate growth, and maintain life.

In response to the definition of food, is it questionable that this "sandwich" helps to "maintain life"? If you ate this sandwich once per day, do you think your body is going to maintain itself? Or will your body suffer the consequences of eating high fat, artificial food? The documentary Super Size Me (where a person aspires to only eat McDonalds food for every meal of the day), shows how standard fast food literally breaks the body down. The food was so toxic that a month long experiment of only eating fast food couldn't even be finished due to acquired health complications.

Most people know that a Big Mac is bad for you. But this new sandwich crosses the line. It's desire to standout and be accepted as a meal is just plain offensive. Fast food corporations constantly devalue the definition of "food". Unfortunately, fast food is promoted as "fun", "easy" and "happy" (can't forget about the happy meal). In reality however, eating this fast food will not only make us unhappy in the long run, but will compromise our physical well being. The causes of Heart Disease have already been proven. This is scary because there are people in this world who are gullible, hungry and will absolutely eat anything that is cheap and marketed as acceptable (let alone appetizing).

For all of us who have the option (and knowledge) of choosing healthy food to eat, let us not take this privilege for granted. Eat foods that are local, fresh, and beneficial to the body. Do it for yourselves and for the people around you. Everyone's actions can go a long way.