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Eating for Health and Pleasure

Many people think that "eating healthy" and enjoying your food are two mutually exclusive choices. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, healthy eating is far more pleasurable than the typical eating pattern. Another misconception is that you must starve yourself to be lean. This actually will make you fatter in the long run (and it's likely to make you hard to live with in the short run--just don't go there).

What you want is to be lean, not skinny. You want those muscles that give your body its attractive curves, and you don't want to accumulate the brown fat that is essentially a disease factory. You must feed your muscles without feeding the brown fat that collects on bellies and thighs (and necks and other places where it ends up looking gross).

Feeding your muscles without feeding the brown fat is actually is easy to do. You don't need to count calories. You don't need to count carbs. You don't need to count fat grams. But you can count on looking better.

To feed your muscles without feeding your brown fat, you don't need some whacky diet and you don't need to spend money on special pills or powders to do it. Nor do you need to try to live on rice cakes and tofu. In fact, I recommend you don't eat rice cakes at all and use tofu only when a recipe calls for it.

The tips below will help you have the body you want, eat meals that you enjoy, and save thousands of dollars in medical bills. Say goodbye to Lipitor and hello to....

  • Eat six small meals a day. If you enjoy eating, why eat only three times a day? Healthy eaters eat twice that often. Why? Because after about three hours, your body goes into the catabolic state. This "starvation mode" means it burns less fat, stops storing calcium in the bones, and begins breaking down lean tissue (muscles and organs). Many people have three very small meals (snacks) and three "normal" meals. That's a successful strategy, and for the typical person it's probably the most convenient.
  • No time to cook three full meals and make three snacks a day? That's not a problem. Here's a snack trick used by construction workers and others who need physical energy during their work day. Pack an apple and a handful of nuts to make one meal. If you have a refrigerator handy, keep a jar of peanut butter in it and spread peanut butter on apple slices. Most "protein bars" on the market are nutritional nightmares, but you can find somegood protein bars here. If you don't have the money to spend on bars, there are other options. For example, if you boil two eggs they come in the perfect container for storage. All you need is a pepper shaker, and you're in business.
  • Never go on a "weight loss" diet. If you want to lose a lot of weight, you could have all four limbs amputated. But does that really make you better off? The correct thinking is "fat loss" rather than "weight loss." If you think in these terms, your discipline will be easier and your results will be better.
  • Enjoy all three macronutrients. The so-called "weight loss" diets that recommend no fat or low carb simply do not work. You actually need fat to burn fat and carbs to burn fat (the trick is to get the right kinds of fats and carbs). You need fats and carbs to be healthy; it is not mere coincidence that the best foods taste good due to the fats and carbs they contain.
  • Good fats. The marketing hype about margarine and other toxins has no basis in fact. Your body can metabolize a certain amount of saturated fat. So a little butter isn't going to clog your arteries (a lot of butter, however, means a lot of extra calories). Your body does especially with certain oils, such as olive oil. The oils in nuts are also very beneficial. Hydrogenated oil, such as that used in commercial shortenings and found in most baked goods, is highly toxic. Hydrogenated oil isn't just a risk factor for colon cancer; it's a cause. It's a risk factor for many other disorders, though.
  • Good carbs. If you get your carbohydrates from whole fruits and vegetables, it's really hard to "overdose" on carbs. Fruit juices are another matter; they are concentrated forms of fruit and highly glycemic (too much sugar hitting the bloodstream at once). Worse, however, is "corn sugar" (formerly known as high fructose corn syrup); this so overwhelms your body's endocrine system that it's known as an endocrine modifier. The modifications are not good.

More healthy eating, below....

  • Eat green, not grain. Whole grains like brown rice and rolled oats provide vitamins, fiber, and slow-absorbing carbs. Instant anything is toxic. The worst grain products to eat are refined wheat flour products; by federal law (in the USA), these must contain folic acid and the form used is nearly always the synthetic one. That form is so carcinogenic that a man eating a single bowl of cereal made with flour containing it doubles his risk of prostate cancer.
  • Get the right protein. Eggs are excellent, if you eat ones that aren't produced in farming factories (see Beans with whole grain rice is also excellent (see cholesterolvbeans.htm). If you'll do a little research on protein, you'll find many quality sources that taste good.
  • Eat the right amount of protein. If you imagine a half-inch thick slab of protein the size of the palm of your hand, that's probably about right for you for each meal. However, this is only a guide. If you are a hard training athlete, you will need more. If you are sedentary, you will need a bit less.
  • Avoid protein traps. The soy-based products are not as healthy as their makers would have you believe. What about whey protein powders? These are good for immediately after a hard workout. But the whey is a fairly short molecule that absorbs rapidly. Eat more than about 20g and your body starts storing the excess as fat. Better to use a protein blend, which (even if it contains whey) gives you a slower release and far better utilization for building lean tissue.
  • Avoid contaminated meat. The meat supply in the USA is contaminated beyond any degree of sanity, starting with the fact that the ruminant animals are fed genetically modified (for high sugar content) corn instead of grass (which contains the EFAs--Essential Fatty Acids--and other nutrients that make for a healthy animal). You can buy organic meat and dairy, but it's expensive. However, you pay only a bit more for healthy eggs than for factory farmed ones. The meat cost issue is being addressed, so keep your eyes open in that area if you like meat.
  • No junk. Period. You aren't "giving up" anything by making sure you don't poison yourself with sodas, high fructose corn syrup, refined grain products, hydrogenated oil, and feces burgers (due to the modern packing processes, all hamburgers contain feces). There is no reason to eat this stuff. Ever. You always have alternatives.
  • Avoid foods that come in packages with labels on them. Not all such foods are bad, but the mere fact there's a label means the food has been processed. It might be safe to eat, for example it might be "100% pumpkin" in a can of pumpkin pie filling. But the odds are anything in a container with a label contains high fructose corn syrup, some kind of chemical flavoring that is probably carcinogenic, hydrogenated oil, or something else you can't pronounce and should not eat. Rather than waste time squinting at labels, first reach for the foods that don't come in containers that have labels. You may well find these meet all of your culinary needs.
  • Go for nutrient-dense, calorie light. Most people do this the other way around. Now, think about something. If the food is dense in nutrients, won't it also be dense in flavor? Generally, yes. Rather than tasting like yet another form of sugar, nutrient-dense food has its own flavor. You can combine these flavors to make amazingly delicious meals that provide an arsenal of nutrition.
  • Eat out with care. Eating out is expensive, and it's a nutritional mine field. But sometimes it's the best alternative. Order simple dishes, and don't eat anything you can't identify. Instead of sauces, ask for seasonings. Instead of salad dressing, ask for oil and vinegar on the side (or just a cruet of olive oil, if nothing else). But instead of salad, which is typically iceberg lettuce-based, ask for a side dish of steamed broccoli, squash, or kale. Pasta dishes, being made with refined flour, are obvious non-choices. So are the bread, most appetizers, and most deserts. If you really want desert, ask if they can serve you baked (or microwaved) apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon; or wait until you get home for desert.
  • Make meals taste good. Good food isn't bland, unless you work at making it so. Tofu and rice cakes are for pansies, partly because that's what you'll be if you make those a cornerstone of your diet. It's much better to boil up some eggs and add them to stir-fried kale and other greens in olive oil. Add some garlic, onion, and nuts for even more nutrients and flavor that will knock your socks off.
  • Eat slowly. This is fairly easy to do, when your meals taste good. Savor the flavor. Chew and enjoy!



Article Authorship

The articles on this site are authoritative, because:

  • Every contributor is an expert in his or her field.
  • The articles comply with the accepted principles of the bodybuilder literature.
  • The articles comply with the teachings of such luminaries as 8-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

 Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.

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