By: Dr. Keith Kantor
We have briefly skimmed the subject of how the quality of food you eat and how you eat your food can either help or hurt your weight loss efforts. It has become increasingly harder to maintain a healthy weight by eating a “normal diet.” There are several theories behind this increased difficulty including:
- Our portion sizes are too big.
- The added chemicals and genetically modified organisms in the food are slowing our metabolism down.
- We are simply confused about how to eat and how much to eat.
We will deep dive into each of these concepts and offer strategies to help you overcome them as you progress with your healthy lifestyle efforts.
What is the correct portion size?
There is no exact answer to this question because appropriate portions are individual to one’s activity and metabolism. But, we can all agree it is easy to over eat in traditional American culture. The average portion has grown in the past twenty years; the University of North Carolina has offered comparisons listed below.
Then (20 years ago): 3’’ diameter portion; 140 calories
Now: 6’’ diameter portion (think Alpine bagels size); 350 calories
Spaghetti with meatballs:
Then: 1 cup spaghetti, sauce, three small meatballs; 500 calories
Now: 2 cups spaghetti, sauce, three large meatballs; 1,020 calories
Then: One “regular” sized, single-patty cheeseburger; 333 calories
Now: One “regular” sized, single-patty cheeseburger; 590 calories
Then: 1.5 oz.; 210 calories
Now: 5 oz.; 500 calories (don’t ask me about this math, they’re the ones with the statistics)
Strategies to overcome portion distortion
- Buy prepackages portions specifically meat products. You will avoid cooking too much and going back for seconds. While red meat is healthy in moderation, a large portion can be high in calories and saturated fats, practicing portion control with meat products will help regulate appetite.
- Eat slowly, it can take 15-20 minutes for our brain to realize that we are full from the foods we are eating, take your time at meals to avoid feeling “stuffed.”
- If you are eating out ask for a box as soon as the food is delivered or split your meal with your company so you can pack up half of your food for later or save money and calories by splitting your meal.
Quality of food truly does matter.
Added dyes, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones are all classified as metabolic disruptors that not only can hinder you from losing weight but they can increase your risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, thyroid disease, estrogen dominance, breast and prostate cancer. Consuming these foods regularly can decrease energy, which will result in less motivation to exercise, and the toxins from these chemicals can damage the liver and the ability to focus at school, work or to perform every day tasks.
Consuming foods that are not raised or processed with these harmful additives will promote a healthy metabolism, gut immune health, energy level, skin, and overall metabolism, increasing your ability to maintain your ideal weight without as much effort.
When the gut health is compromised from exposure to toxins your body can develop leaky gut, resulting in deficiencies in helpful vitamins and minerals. This can cause mild to severe inflammation, resulting in weight gain and intense cravings for foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates.
A study from Science Magazine found that mice without a protein known as toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5), also known as a healthy gut bacteria in their gut, gain excessive weight and develop full-blown diabetes and fatty liver disease when fed a high-fat diet.
The study authors found that these bad bacteria caused a low-grade inflammation in the mice, which caused them to eat more and develop insulin resistance.
But the most interesting part of this study is what happened when the researchers transferred the gut flora from the TLR5-deficient overweight mice into the guts of skinny mice: the skinny mice immediately started eating more and eventually developed the same metabolic abnormalities the overweight mice had. In other words, obesity and diabetes were “transferred” from one group of mice to the other simply by changing their gut flora.
Is there a diet that works for everyone?
No, everyone has to find a diet that works for him or her. Following rigid meal plans that can make you feel restricted will only backfire against you after you go off of the plan. It is better to become educated on how your body works and experiment with healthy lifestyle nutrition programs that promote eating foods without major restriction. Customizing a program through successful trial and error will not only help you find what works for you, you will also learn a lot about your body along the way. There are several progressive medical doctors that have philosophies that are very different from the misleading “diet and quick fix industry.”
Books we love:
- Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD
- The Obesity Code, by Jason Fung, MD
- The Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson, MD
Some people thrive with intermittent fasting while others do better with small snacks throughout the day, the same goes for low carbohydrate and moderate carbohydrates.
These plans should also emphasize behavior modification, learning how to identify when you are stress eating, your emotional triggers, and to eat when you are truly hungry. Nutrition when it is done right should not feel like deprivation, hunger or work. Consuming whole unprocessed foods including healthy fats, quality natural protein, high fiber vegetables, fruits and unrefined grains.
There is no magic pill or plan, achieving your ideal weight is truly a bonus of living a healthy lifestyle.