Saturday, January 14, 2006

Healthy And Energized! -- More Answers

T - F Eating right means not eating bad foods.

False! Eating right means avoiding bad foods and eating good foods.

The two modifications to that answer that make it true are:

First, as they've come to rap and sing on Sesame Street, rather than calling them bad foods, it might be better to call them sometimes foods. Most foods are fine in moderation, and infrequently.

Second, it's just as important to get good foods as it is to avoid the bad foods. Are you getting nutrients from the foods you're eating? Energy boosting B vitamins? Cancer-preventing antioxidants? Fiber?

Third, although this isn't mentioned, it's important to know which is which, and many people don't. Check out this short article on diet food impostors from Prevention magazine.

T - F To avoid retaining water, only drink water when you're thirsty.

False! You're body's not going to feel free to let that retained water go until it knows water is flowing in.

Not soda, not juice, but water.

Now while it is possible to overhydrate, it is difficult. The benchmark minimum has long been 8 glasses a day, but if you're active, feel free to pass that.

But do get your water.

T - F To lose weight and get healthier, skip meals.

False! In fact, I would say if you want to gain weight and lose health, skip meals.

Here's how it would help you gain weight and lose health:

First, to balance the fact you hadn't eaten, your body would lower your metabolism. Hence, less energy. And isn't energy the reason you want to lose weight? Plus, less energy means less movement. Less movement, less calories burned. Less calories burned, less weight lost.

Second, you'd be losing energy because you didn't have food in you, which would have all the same effects.

Third, this would help convince your body you were starving. And the more your body thinks you're starving, the more inclined it is to sack away the calories from the food you finally do eat as fat, since it doesn't know when the next famine's going to hit.

Fourth, when you finally do eat, your body's going to do what it can to get you to eat all you can, so that it can have more to store up for the next famine. Meaning you're going to be inclined to eat the most at the time when your body is most prepared to convert everything you eat into fat.

Instead, eat less, but it eat it more often. The more you spread out small meals (emphasis on small--you're not going for six four-course feasts here) throughout the day, the less inclined your body will be to store fat, and the more it will be inclined to give up the fat it already has.

T - F The longer you exercise, the better.

False! As Bill Phillips points out in Body For Life, and as research shows, too much training can actually prevent results.

You do not actually get stronger or healthier while you're exercising. You get stronger and healthier while you're recovering. Your muscles get broken down while you exercise, but it's while you're recovering that more grow back. During aerobic exercise, you push your heart, and during recovery your body makes your heart stronger.

So instead of having super-long workouts, it's better to scatter a couple of short (say, twenty minute) intense workouts throughout the day. Or one twenty-minute intense session in the morning, and another lower intensity session (say, a brisk walk) for longer in the evening.

If you absolutely have to be doing something athletic for longer than an hour (say, while playing a sport), don't try to do it without eating something. This is when gatorade or something similar is useful--to replenish those sugars in your blood and your muscles that have been depleted by all the exercise. This will help prevent injury, fatigue, and other stuff that you don't need to have going on during the fourth-quarter crunch.

More to come!

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