In part two of Nutrition 101 I am going to stand on my soapbox and tackle some of the truths and myths about fat and carbohydrates. Sift through the material with a fine comb and adjust your nutritional intake to meet your personal needs. Note, much of the following is what I feel both from research I have done and how I transformed my body.
A little backstory. When I graduated high school I weighed 155 pounds. I had a lead that pitched me to try and walk on at Michigan Technological University. For those of you unaware, this is a division one program. As most of you are aware, division one hockey players are rarely 5’7” and 155 pounds. I felt like I needed to gain weight and build muscle.
Throughout college I experimented with every legal supplement under the sun (I was employed at GNC) and was in the weight room five days a week. There was a point where I weighed a solid 185 pounds and could bench press 315 for 8-10 reps (yay!). After college, like most people, I graduated found myself sitting at a desk on an 8-5 job and over the course of the next four years ballooned to 207 pounds. I think this was the most I ever weighed while stepping on a scale. Don’t forget I am only five foot seven inches tall.
I changed career paths and found myself in a 14 week fight for my life which was the Milwaukee Fire academy. It was no joke. Not only did I severely dehydrate myself, but my muscles were so broke down they could not repair overnight. This is when I first took a look at my nutrition. At graduation, I weighed 187 pounds and felt pretty amazing. I was lean, could run for miles and had strength to climb ladders, ‘hump’ hose and pull bodies from rooms.
My weight climbed slightly in the years following graduation and in January 2013 I weighed 195 pounds. That is when I began a strict intake of fat and protein. After about two weeks my body stopped craving sugar and started craving protein. My favorite meal was breakfast and I always consumed eggs and occasionally (about 2 pounds per week) nitrate and nitrite free bacon that I got from the local farmers market. I saved my bacon grease and would use this to cook vegetables. I found myself investing in organic and lean chicken, eggs and beef. I cut dairy products out completely. I stopped eating foods with high starch content including bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and corn.
What I found is that the more level you can keep your blood sugar, the more energy you will have throughout the day, the better you will sleep and the more productive your body will perform. I lost 32 pounds in three months with this strict diet.
Now, getting back to nutrition and how it affects you. Through my personal journey and research here are my suggestions; Get your carbs from vegetables, get your sugar from fruit and use fats for the energy to drive protein synthesis.
In my opinion carbs such as bread and pasta are far too refined for our body’s digestive systems. We have trouble breaking them down and get bloated. Not only that, but when combined with additional sugar intake from soda, juice and even sports drinks, a lot of carbs are stored as fat instead of burned for energy. The result, a bloated gut and increased weight gain.
On the flip side you have professionals telling you that low-fat is great for you. I beg to differ. If you are going to consume fat, consume it from the animal source and make sure its full fat. Choose organic butter or butter in general over margarine. Choose nuts over ‘baked’ chips. Choose almond milk over skim milk.
Speaking of milk. Don’t you find it odd that we consume milk from an animal we aren’t even related to? All while the same time people find it inappropriate to talk about people other than babies consuming human breast milk? What do you think the human body is more compatible with, cow or human milk? I understand vitamin D milk for children and advocate an organic brand until a child reaches the age of two. Those first two years are crucial in brain development and the brain needs fat to develop.
Steer clear of substitutes. Soda isn’t good for you, period. A diet Coke has a synthetic sugar substance and while it does not have any calories, your body still classifies it as a carb (sugar) and will store it if it’s not immediately needed for energy. Avoid processed foods. TV dinners originated around the same time that ‘home cooking’ took a decline.
In closing, get back to our roots. Take the time to cook up a chicken breast or steak. Indulge in some broccoli and grab an orange instead of a donut. Think about this for a second. Studies have shown that the current generation of children will be so far from knowing how to cook that they will rely almost solely on processed foods and ‘quick meals.’
If you want to be an elite hockey player, get in the kitchen, make yourself a meal plan following the aforementioned guidelines and fuel your body appropriately. In the long run a chicken breast, green beans and a sweet potato will have less calories, give you more energy and sustain your hunger for longer than a Big Mac.
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s to you, your kitchen and most importantly your health!