Food = Fuel.

I have a friend who refuses to view food as fuel, but that is what it really is, just fuel for the body.  He continually struggles with his weight and only finds temporary fixes with increased exercise over short time spans.  He’ll workout for a a few weeks or so, lose 10 pounds and then gain it all back because he still eats like he is in college.  He’s only addressing the symptom, not the problem…putting a bandaid on a broken arm.

Now I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy your fuel, but once you start looking at food as a source of what your body needs to function and less about eating just to satisfy a craving then the sooner you will gain control of the ultimate habit we all have, eating.

BTW, I read a lot of research articles on diet & exercise mainly because I’m a big nerd for that kind of thing… I try to learn as much as I can about how everything works.  Knowledge is Power.

Let’s get started…back to Food = Fuel.

My Metabolism.  When I started back in December 2009 my metabolism was messed up! It was slow and definitely working against me.  My metabolism was programmed to do exactly what I had told it to do…store as much fat as it could for the up coming winter.  I might as well have been a bear ready for hibernation.

I worked with a couple different trainers at my gym to get a plan together.

My Plan Components:

  1. Food (Fuel)
  2. Cardio (Walking, Running, Biking, Elliptical, Stairs, etc)
  3. Strength Training (Lifting Weights)

Of the three things above, trainer after trainer has told me FOOD accounts for at least 60% of the equation in weight loss.  No matter how hard you work the other 40% can’t make up for the 60%.  How much we eat, how often we eat and what we eat are all a part of the mix.  Unfortunately, just like in high school though 60% isn’t enough to be successful.  You DO need the other two parts. Today however, we are discussing food.

My Pre-December 2009 Diet:

  • Breakfast: Coffee
  • Lunch: Eat out at a restaurant with a co-worker
  • Dinner: Whatever I wanted
  • Snack Later: Potato Chips, ice cream, cake, pop corn, or a 2nd meal (no joke)

This diet was killing me slowly and I had the 75 extra pounds to prove it.

*My Diet Today: Serving sizes are all 1 single serving.

  • Breakfast (Pre-Workout): Coffee and a serving of Original Fiber One Cereal.  Sometimes a half glass of OJ too!
  • After Workout Protein: EAS Advantage Protein Shake (Chocolate!)
  • Mid-Morning Snack: Chewy Quaker Granola Bar (PB & Choc. Chip) or a banana/apple & water
  • Lunch: I bring my lunch a lot (Soup, lean hamburger, chili, grilled chicken, salad, lean steak) & water
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: Chewy Granola Bar again or a piece of fruit again & water
  • After Work Snack: Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt, a piece of fruit or a cheese stick!
  • Dinner: Baked fish, lean hamburger, chili, pork, turkey, spaghetti, etc.  I take the time to cook ahead so if I’m busy I always have something in the freezer/fridge that I can reheat in a pinch.  Planning ahead is a key to eating healthy!
  • Late snack: Yogurt again or a glass of skim milk

If you hate being hungry then my plan or something similar may be for you!  I eat 8 times a day.  I eat every 2-3 hours.  Some “meals/snacks” are only 100-200 calories.  No meal is over 500 calories.  By the end of the day I usually have consumed 1700-2000 calories.  Take away the calories I burned with exercise and I’m losing weight.  By the way, if you DON’T eat your body will store fat.  So not eating is counterproductive to your goal.

Why does eating every couple hours work?

Answer: Think of a fire.  You start a fire and it blazes to life.  After a while the fire dies down.  Throw on another small stick and it blazes up again.  Now this is SIMILAR to metabolism.  If you only throw on three large logs the whole day then there are a lot of times when the fire is really low and it takes some work to get it blazing again.  If you add some twigs and leaves every once in a while (small meals/snacks) then the blaze stays more even and it’s easier to get the large stuff to catch.

I have a small office at work and I find it interesting to watch the thermostat on the wall after I eat.  The room temperature goes up about 2 degrees 15-20 minutes after my snack.  Why?  My body’s metabolism is increasing and a by product is heat.

Some Things to Consider:

  1. A lot of hunger/cravings is mistaken thirst.  You need water, not food.
  2. Fiber makes you feel full.
  3. Eating smaller portions several times a day keeps the fire burning.
  4. Portion size is key.  Retrain yourself to know what a real portion size looks like….not what a restaurant tells you it is.
  5. Mom was right!  Chew your food slowly!  Once you are full, it takes your body 20 minutes to send the signal to tell you to stop eating.  If you scarf down a huge burger & fries in 10-15 minutes then the signal to stop eating won’t get to you in time.  Enjoy it, don’t inhale it!  🙂
  6. This one kills me, but I know it’s true…Diet Soda make you fat.  Regular Soda is even worse than diet soda.**

By the way, while I was writing this blog I had two snacks and a meal.

*Disclaimer: I plan for celebrations so I can take part in BBQs, holidays, birthdays and weddings.  On Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, The 4th of July, Elvis’ Birthday and other national holidays I eat what I want and indulge a little.  I don’t eat everything in site for an entire week though.  I have some of my Aunt’s applesauce cake at Christmas, enjoy my mom’s pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, eat a burger AND a brat on the 4th and drink a Bud Light or two at my Super Bowl Party.  I don’t indulge daily, I don’t indulge weekly, but when the time comes to celebrate I make sure I’ve worked hard enough to deserve that extra piece of mom’s fried chicken.  That’s why I don’t skip workouts and that’s why when I weigh myself October 8th my birthday cake from the day before is already a memory!

**See the video on my Links & Resources Page to learn how/why Diet Soda makes you fat.

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