What is nutritional health and fitness as a lifestyle you live every day – first consider that good nutrition does not come from dieting to lose weight, and becoming physically fit does not come from slowly walking on a flat treadmill.
And I certainly know that there is a big difference between natural nutritional health eating and how much you weigh.
I was so active I could eat anything that I wanted without gaining weight – but I ate so poorly that I ended up being placed on a statin, because my cholesterol went so high.
And then, after a back injury made me stop my physical activity, which was playing racquetball 5 days a week and lifting weights; I ended up gaining 55 pounds.
I never could play racquetball again, but I regained my fitness through weight lifting and high intensity exercise. This also helped me lose all the weight I gained, but instead of going on a diet, I also became nutritionally fit by eating very cleanly and healthy natural foods.
So, what is a nutritional health and fitness – to be most beneficial, it is a lifestyle that you live every day:
- Eating natural whole foods and avoiding processed foods
- Eliminating sugar, and bad fats that are highly inflammatory
- Controlling belly fat – there are people who aren’t overweight but have dangerous amounts of ‘middle torso’ fat
- Controlling weight by focusing on net calories expended = how many calories you eat – how many calories you burn off
- Resistance and dynamic interval workouts at least 5 days a week
Does this mean that you have to be perfect and can’t ever enjoy yourself?
Of course not. That would be an obsession and not a healthy life.
Many of your favorite recipes, including desserts, can be made with substitutions for the unhealthy ingredients. And interestingly, there is a carbohydrate manipulation strategy called a cheat day that has been shown to be effective for burning fat.
Work to follow your lifestyle guidelines consistently 80-90 percent of the time, which I have found very doable – and you will be living a lifestyle that leads to nutritional health and fitness.
Nutritional Health And Dieting
Dieting and losing weight by cutting calories only doesn’t have anything to do with good nutrition and establishing eating habits that can be followed long-term.
This is a reason why so many people who go on a diet, end up gaining back all the weight they loss – and very often they actually gain more weight than they lost.
Think about some of the food choices dieters make:
- Eating low fat foods
- Eating low carbohydrate meals
- Eating food with artificial sweeteners
- Eating foods marketed for losing weight and good health
Fats and carbohydrates are necessary macro-nutrients that are very important for good nutritional health – by definition, eating them do not make you fat.
Not only do fats have many nutritional and health benefits, some are essential and must be ingested through foods, because our body can’t make them. An example of this is the omega-3 essential fatty acids that are so beneficial that they are one of the highest recommended nutritional health supplements.
Additional benefits from healthy fats:
- Fats provide energy
- Some vitamins are fat soluble and need fat content to move them through the body
- Fats can make you feel fuller and eat less
- Fats can reduce insulin release, which can decrease cravings and the storage of carbohydrates in fat cells
But low fat foods and meals, likely have added sugar and processed oils, to try and make them taste better. And from a nutritional standpoint, look at the label and see how many ‘extra’ ingredients have been added.
Replacing 10 grams of fat with 10 grams of sugar is going to make the food have fewer calories; because fat has 9 calories per gram and sugar [carbohydrates] have 4 calories per gram.
Avoid the unhealthy inflammatory fats, like hydrogenated oils and trans-fats. These are some of the unhealthiest foods you can possibly eat, and responsible for an increase in bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
Also, realize that these can be shown on your low fat food label as zero. By a quirk in the law, anything with .5 grams or less can be called 0 – and serving sizes will be made unrealistic to the amount you would end up eating, just to attain this label amount.
Eat some healthy fats each day from foods like chia seeds, almonds, and avocados. And get rid of your vegetable oil and cook with coconut oil. Just be sure to watch your quantities, because the 9 calories per gram when snacking on healthy nuts can quickly add up.
Carbohydrates And Blood Sugar
Like fats, carbohydrates provide energy. But since carbs are sugars and starches, they also have a large effect on blood sugar levels and the release of insulin.
If you are predominantly eating simple carbohydrates, like those in doughnuts, refined foods, white bread, or pasta, then you are eating a food that will very quickly cause a blood sugar spike.
When this happens, you will have a large release of insulin, which can lead to an increase in fat storage.
Additionally, these blood sugar spikes that give extra bursts of energy, also result in energy crashes – so you crave more sugar for more energy, causing more fat storage, and an inflammatory and unhealthy situation for your body.
Overeating highly processed carbohydrates can also affect the levels of your hormone leptin, by making them rise too high and causing leptin resistance.
And since leptin is a hormone that controls fat loss, when you become leptin resistant you lose a large percentage of your fat burning potential, which can also continue when you start dieting.
Clearly, eating too many simple carbohydrates is a big nutritional health problem. However, there are also slower digesting complex carbohydrates, as well as those that are high in fiber that are beneficial as part of a nutritionally healthy diet.
Extremely low-carb diets are not necessary for nutritional health or losing weight, you just need to select the right types and eat them at the right time of day.
For instance, you want to eat most of your carbohydrates early in the day, when your metabolism is at its highest, and especially post-workout after high intensity exercise.
Post-workout is a time when you don’t have to be concerned with carbohydrates and fat storage.
When you eat a high protein and high carbohydrate meal after working out, the increase in insulin is used to replace muscle glycogen used when working out. As well, the protein and amino acids will be transported into your muscles, to help with growth and recovery – this is actually a combination of nutritional and fitness benefits.
Replacing Sugar With Artificial Sweeteners
Just like dieters eat low fat foods, they also eat foods that are sugar-free or are artificially sweetened.
And just like we discussed fats that are extremely unhealthy – high fructose corn syrup, which is one of the most widely used replacements for sugar, has also been called one of the most nutritionally unhealthy foods.
HFCS may be an artificial sweetener, but it is so sweet that it has the effect of making you crave more sweets, along with tending to make you not get full from eating foods that include them.
A reason for this would come from HFCS ‘turning-off’ your fat-regulating hormone leptin, which is supposed to tell your brain when it is full. But when the brain doesn’t get its signal, you just keep eating more – so this is an example of how foods without sugar can still keep you from losing weight.
A recent study shows how high fructose corn syrup has a bigger impact on your health than glucose from sugar:
Test subjects were divided into two groups—one was given a glucose (sugar) beverage to add to their diet, while the other group was given a beverage containing high fructose corn syrup to add to their diets. While both test groups gained weight, the group consuming high fructose corn syrup packed on intra-abdominal fat or belly fat.
And this type of fat can be very harmful to your health, by causing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Healthy Foods Marketing And Promotion
If you knew that a company’s mission statement was to “help more and more people achieve a healthier lifestyle”, and they had smoothies called stay healthy and trim down – would you feel confident that you could get a nutritionally healthy smoothie and one that you could even drink when you were dieting?
Well, one of their stay healthy smoothies has 465 calories, 108 grams of sugar, and only 1 gram of protein. And one of their trim down smoothies has 395 calories, 93 grams of sugar, and only 1 gram of protein.
These macros came from a Smoothie King nutritional information chart, for 20 ounce [their small size] servings. They also have a snack right category that has a smoothie with 548 calories, 125 grams of sugar, and only 2 grams of protein.
And this amount of sugar is supposed to be good for a healthier lifestyle?
I am not quite sure what you do to add this much sugar. One slice of oreo cheese cake from the Cheese Cake Factory has 460 calories and 32 grams of sugar, and even a 20 ounce can of coke, ‘only’ has 58 grams of sugar.
I drink smoothies every day. Here are the macros for one of my high protein nutritional health smoothies:
- 332 calories
- 38 grams of protein – time-released protein powder + plain Greek yogurt
- 18 grams of net carbohydrates after subtracting fiber – blueberries + spinach
- 5 grams fat – protein powder + unsweetened coconut milk
This smoothie is nutrient dense [especially with the spinach added], has low sugar content, and is healthy enough to be a meal.
Nutritional Health Education
So, don’t go on a diet only that may include some of these problem foods that appear to be lower calorie healthy choices.
Get a good nutritional health education, and then you can make choices that will be beneficial for your health, while also allowing you to control your current weight, or lose weight and fat and keep it off.
Physical Fitness Lifestyle Workouts
Now, I would never say that walking your dog, or those slow treadmill walks while you are reading your kindle, aren’t better exercise than doing nothing.
However, I could never say that these are workouts, with enough metabolic intensity for becoming physically fit. And they also don’t include the strength training that is very important to you as you get older.
You might use the treadmill for warming up and getting some aerobic exercise. But you can get the best overall fitness and fat burning benefits, if the majority of your workout includes strength training.
Why Is Strength And Resistance Training So Important
Just like nutritional health and body fat control comes from ongoing habits – physical fitness is also based on lifestyle, and continuing to push your body so it will retain its strength and lean muscle.
And as I know all too well, the best time to start is as young as possible. But this is also the time when lifestyle and concern with aging takes a backseat to raising a family and growing a business.
All of a sudden 20-30 years go by. You are overweight and ‘weak and aching’ – then you have some kind of health scare.
Hopefully, you will take care of yourself and not wait to make lifestyle changes until you have to.
Here are some of the things that make ongoing and strength training so important as you grow older:
- When you diet, the weight you lose is a combination of fat and muscle – and that loss of muscle will be on top of the loss and degeneration of muscle that comes with aging
- You can lose weight but still remain fat around your midsection – this is the most dangerous fat you can have and greater exercise intensity can keep this from happening
- Resistance and strength training helps with keeping your metabolism at a higher level – this in turn helps with insulin management and fat burning, instead of fat storage
- Increasing your strength and muscle makes the things you do in your everyday life far easier – and it also reduces the risk for serious injuries
Having Long-Term Quality Of Life
Nutritional health and fitness, just isn’t the typical way of life. Instead, nutrition and fitness can become replaced by such an extremely fast paced life that it leaves no time for proper eating and exercise.
And unfortunately, this also is a reason why health care costs are so high and there is an obesity epidemic in adults and children.
Don’t let nutritional health be replaced by nutritional abuse – and don’t let physical fitness be walking to the refrigerator and pushing away from the dinner table
Learn about nutrition and the benefits from eating natural, one ingredient foods. And especially learn how to read nutrient labels, so marketing and packaging quit ‘fooling’ you into think you are eating healthy.
Be sure to get started on a physical fitness lifestyle, regardless of your age. Even if you are middle age when you get started, you will be surprised with just how much you can still do – just get started and keeping pushing yourself.
And then you will be living a nutritional health and fitness lifestyle that helps ensure your quality of life as you get older.