You have always been told WHAT to eat. Now it's time to learn HOW to eat.
By RON MOORE - CAPTAIN FITNESS November 2004
I am sure you know a guy that works out all week, does an 80-mile bike ride on the weekend and still wears size XXL spandex. Or there’s the girl that does one or two aerobic classes a day, hikes every Saturday, but has nothing to show for it. It's their eating habits. 70 percent of successful fitness programs are good eating habits. 15% is a progressive exercise program and 15% is the proper amount of rest. You are probably wondering what good eating habits are.
One thing a person with good eating habits doesn't do is break their food down to the cellular level. Some people spend so much energy worrying about what and how much of something is in their food that they skip meals all together. Let's face it; life existed on earth long before we knew so much about our food. Making a science project out of your meals by paying to much attention to what you eat will have no benefit if you haven't learned how to eat. A good trainer should train you how to eat as well as how to workout. Eliminating the obvious, frequency of consumption and metabolic consistency are the 3 steps to good eating habits.
Eliminate the Obvious
You know what I am talking about. Foods and beverages like: sodas, cookies, candies, alcohol, or any other food or beverage with no nutritional value. These types of food should not be on your food list or in the same sentence with weight loss or fitness. Some people say, “I only have 1 or 2 questionable foods per day,” not realizing that they add up to 30 to 60 questionable foods per month. One of the best weapons against questionable foods is a lunch box. Some of the questionable foods can be replaced with fruit, fitness bars and drinks or other snacks with nutritional value. You can control what goes in your lunch box. When you are at work and the vending machine begins to call your name, you simply ignore it and reach into your lunch box for something that is good for you. At lunch, when everyone else is driving to his or her favorite junk food distributor, you'll have a nutritious meal from home.
Frequency of Consumption
Skipping meals and eating late are the worst things you can do to your metabolism, making it very hard to get results from your exercise program. A standard consumption rate is 5 times a day, every 2 to 2 1/2 hours and consuming your last meal by 6:30 PM. There are many different ways to combine meals and snacks to consume 5 times per day. An easy way to arrange your day is to have a King meal for breakfast followed by a snack, then Queen meal for lunch followed by a snack, and lastly a Poor Mans meal for dinner before 6:30 PM.
The word breakfast means to break the fast from the night before. If you have your breakfast at 7:30 AM it will have been 13 hours since your last consumption. It takes 2 to 3 hours to digest the average meal so after 13 hours it is pretty safe to say you will be on E for empty. Now it is time to break the fast with your biggest meal of the day. Your stomach is empty, you have all day to digest it and a big meal means a high metabolism for the rest of the day. A snack at 9:30 or 10:00 AM will bridge the gap between your King breakfast and your Queen lunch. Your lunch is the second biggest meal of the day because half of the day is still left and lunchtime is an opportunity to have a meal not a snack.
Remember when you were young and would ask for a late afternoon snack and your mother would say no because it would spoil your dinner? Your late afternoon snack is the most important snack of the day and is known as the “spoiler snack”. The spoiler snack prevents you from going from lunch until 6:30 pm without food. The spoiler snack makes you are less hungry so it's possible to have a sensible Poor Mans dinner before 6:30 PM to complete your consumption for the day.
Think of your metabolism as a furnace that you want to burn hot throughout the day. The way to keep it burning is to throw food logs in it every 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
The furnace is the metabolism factory inside your body and little men are in charge of keeping it burning.
The carbohydrate men are in charge of creating the energy you need to perform your daily activities and exercise. The protein men are in charge of tissue repair and muscle building. The fat men help with floating things from place to place in the blood stream and insulation.
Consistency is the key to running a smooth operation. The little men like to establish a pattern of what time the work is coming in and how it will be divided between them. Each group of men have a set amount of work that they can handle or logs must be stored until the next day. For a person that exercises 4 or more times per week a good sports nutrition formula to follow is:
60% Carbohydrate logs
25% Protein logs
15% Fat logs
This will keep things running smooth and will not overwork one department or the other. If the percentage of logs exceeds the capability of one department, the excess logs will be sent to storage and burned on the next shift. What little cannot be stored will be sent to disposal as a slow second option. If the excesses continue daily, the storage department will grow and the little men become efficient at storing instead of burning the logs as they come in. Your storage department may be in the form of a big butt, a big gut or both.
The little men are a lot like us. When they first get to the factory, they are ready to work hard. By the end of the day they are ready to go home and rest. A good metabolic factory staff will pull the hunger chain every 2 hours or so for more work to stay busy. On the other hand, sluggish and inconsistent food delivery causes the fire in the furnace to go out and the workers are sent home early. When the late night delivery arrives, there's no one there to do the work, the food logs will be stored. If you can't see your feet or it feels like someone is following you when they’re not, you have probably found your stored food logs.
These principals can be applied to any eating style or diet program. Unlike a diet that begins on page one and ends at the end of the book, good eating habits last for a lifetime.