Now of course, we’re not going to go all crazy in regards to the portions, and I’m not going to break my vegan edge. But we will still be enjoying the heartiness of the meal, even if for one day. Now the health nuts out there may be saying “Don’t eat all that fat, it’s bad for you!,” but new research is starting to indicate that perhaps we have gotten the whole fat debate wrong. Touched off by a big story from Time Magazine, it may be time to start reexamining the root cause of the obesity problem in the United States. I’ve already mentioned many times before about how large America is getting in the waist line, almost to the point where a third of the population is overweight and 26% is severely overweight. This is not just some scare tactic created by a few people wanting to sell some exercise equipment, but a real problem as we fight for the waistline of America. This has never been a fun subject to talk about, especially now that we are in an age where anyone with a keyboard or a smart phone thinks they have the intellectual equivalent of history’s greatest thinkers. There is not a day that goes by when we see flame wars on various websites talking about overweight people. And everyone uses every trick in the book, stating the acceptance of fat women is some feminist plot to make fat women feel good about themselves or saying we should have more so it will be easier for thinner, more in-shape men to get laid. Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff that is circulating on the internet. The world of history and truth at our fingertips and we just seek to slander people anonymously and look at videos of animals (guilty on the animal front!). And the worse thing is, this sort of “debate” only makes problems wore, for it either normalizes obesity or shames people into the continuance of their food addictions.
Let’s start off with the central theme of the debate. For decades, we have garnered a rather strange hate for fat, starting some time in the 1970s (I’m guessing here) when the whole “low fat” label started getting slapped on everything. Let’s face it, it worked for that particular era as fitness became quite trendy with the yuppies, and since everyone wanted to be rich and be yuppies in the seventies and eighties (I mean the movies made it look so tranquil and idyllic) that everyone wanted to be in shape. Fitness classes and jogging became the norm. Look at most of the movie stars from the eighties and they were clearly in the best shape of their lives during this era, merely because it was demanded of them. Being lean and fit was kind of a reflection of the times. Heck, even in “Rocky 3,” Apollo Creed told Rocky that he had to get leaner and more in shape, putting a nail in the coffin of the old school Mr. Atlas era of weight lifting and bulking up. People honestly believed that low fat foods were the greatest thing since sliced bread. Even national health boards started adopting the “low fat” dials for a good, consistent diet.
Now the difference in eating a diet low in fat as compared to eating foods that are labeled “low fat” is where the argument shifts gears, and this is where people need to understand the difference between the two camps. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/06/11/how-eating-low-fat-can-be-bad-for-your-waistline/ The nitty gritty of it all is the fact we need fat. In the purest sense, fat is essentially the gas tank we need to tap into when we do not have enough food to eat or we are in between meals. Without fat, we would be hungry all of the time and constantly eating. Unless you are lucky enough to live a lifestyle where you maintain virtually no fat (like you are a pro athlete of something), being able to eat constantly must be nice. But let’s be honest, the Average Joe working a desk job eight hours a day doesn’t have the same dietary needs, so a more controlled diet is necessary. And according to the research, this may be where the low fat trend has overreached. The biggest problem in the low fat trend has been the introduction of more refined sugars into the standard American diet. A lot of foods have these refined carbohydrates, like crackers, bread, candy, and various baked goods. Most people understand in order to make something low fat you have to increase the sugar content to replace the taste, which can be bad for you in more ways than one. http://www.today.com/health/ending-war-butter-are-fatty-foods-really-ok-eat-2D79795749 But it’s that desire to believe that reels us in, thinking that if we eat this particular food, it will be good for us. It’s kind of like the protein rage we have been interjecting into society for the last decade or so, gestating into a culture that eats a whole lot of meat and culminating in the creation of such abominable “entertainment” such as Epic Meal Time (two disses in as many weeks, I’m on a roll!). Never mind the fact a lot of plants have protein in them, and have a much higher content percentage than actual meat.
We basically have two types of cholesterol, the good (HDL) and the bad (LDL). Good cholesterol is the kind of fat we see more naturally in our foods, like when you eat a hunk of steak or you chow down a handful of nuts. Our body needs this in order to properly fuel it. On the other hand, LDL is pretty much the culprit for a lot of health problems. Typically, LDL survives quite fervently in polyunsaturated fats, or trans fats. Late last year, the FDA decided to remove the label for trans fats, no longer regarding it as “generally safe to eat.” This is basically the death knell for trans fat, because without the distinction, companies will have to prove that trans fat is generally safe to consume on their own dime. While some might consider this move to be another step toward a nanny state, personally I think it is kind of a move in the right direction, merely because the national health of our country is something we all need to start getting honest about. http://blog.parsonstrainingtucson.com/2013/11/trans-fat-its-stuff-that-makes-food.html
Now here is the biggest problem for the typical consumer when it comes to eating “low fat” labeled foods. When we have fat in our bodies, we release a hormone known as cholecystokinin, which is basically the hormone that provokes fullness in our bodies. Now, if you eat “low fat” foods, you have to realize you are eating a lot of sugar, which is not necessarily a good way to make yourself feel full. Since you’re body is digesting the sugar rather quickly, your blood insulin spikes and drops, causing you to want to eat more food to satisfy the dopamine effects you get from the sugars. It doesn’t take much to get hooked on sugar, for some studies have likened it to a government approved version of cocaine. In order to keep our appetites from getting out of control, we need to focus on food that is less sugar based than fat based.
Now of course, these new studies aren’t stating you should start trying the 96-ounce steak challenge at your local steak house on a regular basis, but it states you shouldn’t be so scared of the problem at hand. A couple examples one article indicated was using milk in your coffee, or using a little oil for your cooking or maybe eating a few ounces of meat. What the research is not saying is to go ahead and eat whatever you want! Personally, while a lot of people will rejoice and use this corresponding evidence to trump the indecisiveness on the science community, the same principles still apply to daily eating. If you eat too much of something, no matter how healthy it may seem for you, it’s still gonna be bad! I mean, I could eat a whole lot of soy based italian sausages and whole wheat pasta, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna get lean and fit. If I'm eating pasta and tofu sausage everyday with a tomato sauce that has some olive oil in it, I’m going to gain weight! But if I do it once or twice a month, which is what I normally do, it is a nice change of pace that will give me some fuel cells to work with in the near future.
Truthfully, the “low fat” movement is very similar to the ridiculous “no carbs” movement we seemed to have in the mid 2000s. Sure, eating foods with a lot of refined sugar and simple carbohydrates will be bad for you, but that is merely due to the fact the sugars will go directly into the bloodstream with little to no other use. This is where the anti-grains movement kind of kicks in. Yeah, rice, oats and whole wheat do have carbohydrates, but they are complex carbohydrates that our body needs as fuel, and due to the complexity of the said items, our entire body processes the food in a much different way, giving us the healthy benefits that we can extract from carbohydrates. I mean, a couple billion Asians can’t be wrong! I’ll admit, I was very anti-fats in the beginning of my personal training regimen, especially considering I had so much in the tank. And even though I still have a little pudge around the waist, I have slowly but surely added a couple fat filled items to my repertoire without much loss in my fitness. I have long been using Silk Coffee Creamer for morning cup of joe(s), but I have also been using extra virgin olive oil from time to time when I make my potatoes. I don’t do it often or put a lot, but it is nice to have a few extra reserves. And this is really where I think people will misinterpret the findings of this report. Just because fat is okay for us, doesn’t mean excessive amounts are all that good either. Just because we perceive food with no trans fat as being better for us, doesn’t mean it is (especially eaten in excess). It was like the blog post I had last year, where doctors concluded that have a little extra weight isn’t all that bad (but that meant like 10 extra pounds, not 50!).
Right now, it is pretty tough to determine what exactly is the best solution to help curb the obesity rate in this country, but there are a few things that I know to be true. Eat good food. Eat fresh cut meat, not the pre packed stuff. Eat vegetables and fruits and whole grains. Just eat everything in moderation, because that really is the key to everything. Eating a pizza everyday, even if it does have all the supposed food groups within its 20-inch borders, won’t make you healthy. Don’t make it a habit to say the least, but don’t get all guilty when you decided to indulge in a slice from time to time.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.