One thing I want this column to be is interactive. I’m active in the comments, and I value feedback and comments. Well, I happened to get one last Tuesday from an old friend that I’m sharing with her permission. My friend Melissa messaged me on Facebook and offered this (unedited and you know how it is on Facebook):
Tom, I’m PMing because I’m weird about talking diet in public haha. Anyway,I read your column and the chicken breast thing, yeah…that’s exactly what I do. I Cook Up 2-3 days worth on the grill. Keep mixed salad green prepped along with cucumber, bell peppers, ect cut. I keep a few avocados ripening at different stages, and tomatoes and fresh salsa handy. I use 1tbls olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste for dressing or the salsa. No hfcs at all. Check the salsa if you buy it! No gmo, so no corn or soy. No potatoes or rice or flour of any kind. I eat about 1400 a day currently. 15% carb, 40%, protein, remainder good fats. Pre prep is KEY! Almonds and low sugar or carefully measured fruits are fine. One serving a day with a protein/fat like natural peanut butter or almonds or cashews, 1 ounce. I weighed 287 lbs in April 2012. Today I weigh 172 lb.
She also notes that she eats tons of grilled veggies like eggplant and zucchini.
Now, I’m not in agreement on the non-GMO thing. I’m sorry, but GMO foods have been tested, and frankly a strong argument can be made that all of our foods are GMO. However, I’m also going to say that if you avoid GMO foods, you’re probably going to be healthier if for no other reason than you’re paying more attention to what you put in your body than the average person.
The rest is all solid advice that I agree with, at least for the most part. Starchy foods tend to be loaded with carbohydrates (and are often called “carbs” by some. When used this way, they’re generally considered separate from vegetables…which are also carbohydrates) so avoiding them is a very effective way to lose weight.
It can also be difficult. Starches tend to be inexpensive, so cash strapped dieters have difficulty eating like this. Plus, let’s be honest for a moment here. It’s damn strange for a lot of people to not have a starch on the plate. It is for me, and I know how this works from a nutritional standpoint.
However, it’s worth noting that it can be done. A lot of people are eating paleo these days. This kind of dieting actually handles the starch issue pretty well, and is pretty close to what Melissa seems to be doing. I’m not saying you should eat paleo, and I’m going to say that I’m not planning on eating paleo at this point. What I’m saying is that they have the starch issue handled, so check it out.
In fact, we had a pretty interesting discussion over at my blog last week that started over a sort of hoax study (the study was real, but was intentionally set up to be meaningless) that “devolved” into a nice discussion about biochemistry, carbohydrates, and a bit of bashing of the food pyramid. Go on over and check it out.
Now, with that said, let’s talk about me and my own journey.
The plan is to make little changes to my lifestyle so that I can keep this more sustained. This week, the change is simple: Eat more protein.
One thing that matters to me is building muscle. Muscle helps your body burn more calories even when you’re not exercising by speeding up your basal metabolic rate. The better your BMR, the easier it is to burn calories and, by extension, lose body fat.
The goal here is to work myself up to about 220 grams of protein in my diet. I’m lifting hard and heavy, and I want that much protein to help build muscle. I need two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, and I weigh 110 kgs. Now, this is more than the USDA Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of .8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but there’s a reason for this.
First and foremost, the RDA is designed for an average, sedentary adult to replace all the amino acids and such they lose naturally. Basically, it’s designed to keep an office drone from losing muscle. It’s not based on people trying to put on muscle or people who put their bodies through much, much more abuse such as athletes.
Now the question becomes, “How?”
Well, first, I’m throwing in a protein-heavy breakfast each day. Most days, if I bother to eat breakfast, it’s a couple pieces of toast (now on whole wheat or whole grain bread) or something like that. This week, eggs take more of a role. Omelettes, scrambled, whatever it takes to put the protein into my body. I’ll also be delving into some Greek yogurt, which tends to be pretty damn tasty (but not everyone agrees, naturally) as well. Plus, I’ll just have to eat more meat during most meals, which could be far worse. Throw in a few protein shakes, and I’m good to go.
What am I cutting? Nada. Not this week, anyways. Trying to get in more protein will be hard enough without also trying to avoid a different food.
The truth is, this may actually increase my daily calorie intake, which could result in some weight gain for the time being. So long as my clothes keep fitting OK — or at least start getting tight in cooler places like arms or across my chest — I’m not going to worry about it too much.
Down the road? Well, that’s for down the road, isn’t it?
What about you? What are you doing to get a little healthier? What do you want to see a column about? We’re here for you, so tell us what you want to see!