Friday, June 25, 2010

I was planning on attacking some recent comments on facebook supporting quackery but since it's 2:30am I'm going to keep this short and simple. Instead of tearing down someone else's ideas on health I'm going to briefly discuss what has worked for me. Why you ask? I suppose it's because I frequently get asked questions like, "how do you stay in such good shape?" "what do you eat?" "how often do you go to the gym etc...." Well, I don't mean to brag and I don't mean to boast but for 36 years old, I'm fitter than most! But all rimes aside, without further ado here are my proscriptive ideas on health:
I look at physical health as a necessary balance between 3 key elements: nutrition, sleep, and physical exercise. Think of these three constituents as 3 legs on the table of health. If any one is out of proportion with the others the table will be off balance. And obviously if any element is completely missing, the table of health falls.
Lets look at the first leg--nutrition. Many people underestimate the importance of correct nutrition in general and over estimate the importance of the particulars. Let me explain. I know many people who are obsessed with getting the right amount of magic vitamin x, or new "superfood" y, or this great "all natural" (so it must be good for you) herbal supplement that will make you live forever. People--These are just fads. Another way for supplement companies to empty your wallet.
What people really need to focus on is their calories in vs. calories out. It's very simple, all the magical herbs and supplements in the world will not stop you from gaining unwanted weight if you don't deal with this basic equation first. Here's the way it works: if you consume more calories than you burn, you're going to put on weight. If you burn more than you consume you will lose weight. Sounds simple right? But so many people get it wrong. They focus on the minutia of magical supplements and such and ignore the big picture while eating donuts. As a side note, you don't always want to consume less than you burn. If you are already at your ideal weight or underweight than you will want to adjust you caloric intake accordingly.
People ask me all the time how to lose weight. I always begin by citing this equation. Then I say, you can chose: you can continue the same caloric intake and exercise alot more, or you can eat alot less--the net result is the same. I say this just to illustrate a point, actually the correct thing to do is to both consume fewer calories and burn more. You'll achieve your goal faster.
Next level of importance in nutrition is macro-nutrition. It's not enough just to count calories, it is also important where those calories are coming from. Your body needs a certain amount of protein to function properly and you also need energy from carbohydrates and fats to live. There have been many fad diets in the area of macro-nutrition, some saying to get all your calories from protein and fat, some say mostly from carbs and so on. (Not so) surprisingly recent medical studies (I'll look for them later if you're really interested) have shown that when attempting weight loss, the respective ratios of macro-nutrients don't really matter. The only thing that was a factor in success was the calories in vs. calories burned equation. That's not to say that the proportions are not important but rather that for those who are interested in weight loss you should stop obsessing over details and just eat less (and/or do more!).
So what's the magical ratio? Depending on your lifestyle and metabolism it will vary from person to person. You need to experiment and see what works for you but I recommend something close to these values: Protein 20-30%, Carbohydrates 50-60%, Fats 15-25%. When it comes to carbohydrates it's really important that most of them are whole grain complex carbs. If you're not sure what carbs are good, use the "don't eat white carbs" rule. (I just made that name myself!). I.E. avoid white sugar, white bread, white rice, potatoes. And regarding fats everyone knows to avoid saturated fats...stick to vegetable fats when possible (avocado, olive oil).
But what about vitamins and super magical herbs, and this amazing new plant from the most remote rainforest in the world? Forget it. You can get everything you need from a balanced diet of whole foods.
But what if I'm sooo hungry and I overeat? Here's how you can reduce food consumption without feeling hungry (as a wrestler who had to cut weight for competition I'm an expert on this!). Before your main meal eat a HUGE salad and whatever vegetables you want because they have almost no caloric value but are high in nutrition (except potatoes!). Your stomach will start to send signals to the brain that it's full. Next eat the protein portion of your meal. Protein causes your body to release chemicals that make you feel satiated. Next eat the carbs and fats. Now you're done! Yum! and so am I. It's almost 3:30am....I'm gonna have to continue this later. Time for me to work on the sleep leg!


  1. If I may add a little to this based on my own experience: to me, exercise/activity is the key. If I exercise regularly I find myself craving less of the foods that contain saturated fats, and more fruits and vegetables. I also sleep much better when I am active.
    Another helpful tip is to always have fruits, nuts and snacky vegies more readily available/displayed at home. Make sure it is always easier to grab an apple from your kitchen table than to have to go out and buy a bag of chips or chocolate bar.

  2. Here ye here ye! I think we Palmer kids owe a debt of gratitude (weird phrase, I know) to our parents for showing us that healthy food can be delicious too. If anyone wants creative salad recipes to help stay happy and healthy night after night, let me know!

  3. What's krazie is that people already know this until they get talked out of it by promotional videos and 'that amazing lady Glenda down the street who is so spiritual'. They already know this intrinsically.

    By the by, "know thyself" is another key element. "I'm going to eat just a chicken salad for dinner. That's enough for me. I'm good. No really, that's all I want." Then you get home and "I'm just going to have a little pasta to tide me over." "I'll just have a glass of coke." Etc. Those get added in yo! Knowing that you are the kind of person who does this and then following your advice about eating the large salad first (and etc. and and etc.), will help. Good advice Amikins. DBB