Over the past year or so I have posted a bit of info about Paleo eating and we have had a 30 day challenge which went well and everybody saw the benefits.
Here is a link to some of the feedback I received after the challenge. It is all very inspiring to others to try it and even though a lot of people didn’t continue to eat 100% Paleo, they all got something out of it and most of them eat predominantly Paleo foods most of the time.
But, I know that Paleo eating is not for everybody. It can be a little restrictive, so I thought I would tell you about the way of eating I am recommending if Paleo is not your thing. Having said that, if Paleo is your thing then eating in Zone ratios with Paleo food is the best!!
I recommend you buy “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf which will help you with food choices. You will benefit from eating predominantly Paleo foods.
We have also run several “no sugar” challenges which are fantastic. I believe it is in everybody’s best interest to cut as much sugar from your diet as possible, both for weight loss and health.
Here is a link to a couple of my older articles about sugar. Please read these before reading on with this article;
Is sugar making you sick?
Is sugar making you fat?
Now, there is nothing amazingly bad about sugar, it has the same calorie content as any other carb or protein, so it is not going to make you fatter than eating anything else based on the food (sugar) itself alone or the calories it contains, but the problem with sugar is what it does to your hormones. When your blood sugar levels rise, your body pumps out insulin to bring the blood sugar levels back to normal. Insulin is a storage hormone and it is necessary to our survival, hence why we have it in our body, but what is bad for us is the levels we produce when we have sugar and cause rises in blood sugar. Insulin is related to a whole range of health issues, number 1 being type 2 diabetes, but I am not going into here, I am going to focus mainly on its effect on weight loss.
As I said, insulin is a storage hormone, so when it is present in your body, you will store fat. Eat sugar, store more fat. That’s the simplest way of putting it and really all you need to know. Once you know that, you realistically should be saying “ far out, how can I have less insulin pumping through my body?”
Well, don’t eat any carbs and you won’t, but that’s not possible. Our body needs carbs. Carbs fuel our muscles and most importantly, our brain.
So what to do?
EAT BALANCED MEALS!
I know what you’re thinking, I already eat balanced meals. I have weetbix, fruit, yogurt and coffee for breakfast. Then I have a wholegrain sandwich with salad, a piece of fruit and another coffee for lunch. At night I eat pasta, but with a tomato sauce, no creamy sauces for me, they make you fat. I also have a 200g steak and some veggies. Sometimes for dessert I will just have a piece of fruit or some yogurt. If I’m feeling naughty I’ll have a piece of chocolate. See, all balanced! I just don’t understand why I can’t lose weight…
A balanced meal will consist of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The ideal balance shown to exhibit weight loss is 40:30:30
This means 40% of your calories will come from Carbohydrates
30% will come from Protein
30% will come from fat
That doesn’t mean you eat as much fat as what you do protein, because fat has more than twice as many calories per gram that protein has. There are 9 calories per gram of fat and 4 calories per gram of protein.
So if I wanted a meal that would be 300 calories, I would get 120 cals from carbs, 90 from protein and 90 from fat
Translate this to calories and you get 30g carbs, 22g protein and 10g fat. Simple!
What you will also notice is that this is an almost perfect 3,2,1.
Now looking at your current diet above, you only ate protein at night and it was way too much. The rest of the day was carbs, balanced with more carbs and topped off with more carbs.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking again. This is one of those high protein diets right?
Wrong! Just to reiterate, 40:30:30. Or a 300 calorie meal would be 30g carbs, 22g protein and 10g fat. Doesn’t sound too high protein to me…
WHY EAT BALANCED MEALS?
Because food affects your hormones and weight loss is dependant upon your hormones!
When you eat carbs, your blood sugar levels will rise. The rise will depend on how good or bad the carbs were, or how high or low they were on the glycemic index. The higher and more bad they are, the more insulin will be released.
A lot of research over the past few years is showing that abdominal fat is related to insulin. Some people are more sensitive to it than others.
It is not only carbs that will increase insulin, but too many calories at each meal can stimulate insulin too.
Insulin is a storage hormone, it stores fat and our body needs it, it just doesn’t need that much of it!
When you increase your insulin your levels, you will not burn fat for hours after that. Any workout will burn carbohydrates, which will help them not to be stored as fat, but it doesn’t do much for the fat that is already there.
There is a hormone in protein called glucagon. Glucagon is a mobilisation hormone. It tells the body to release carbohydrate to the liver to make blood sugar to feed the brain.
This is why we need to balance the carbs and protein, so that the hormones are also balanced.
Fat has a couple of uses, it helps to slow the entry rate of carbs to the blood stream helping to reduce the impact on insulin levels and it contains a hormone called eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are a master hormone that help keep other hormones under control.
So that is why we eat balanced meals!
ARE YOU SURE THIS IS NOT HIGH PROTEIN?
This is not high protein, it is moderate protein, don’t be confused that this is high protein just because I want you to eat protein at every meal.
Most people eat high carbs, low protein. This is helping to balance it out a little.
How much protein would you eat at night?
An average female would need approximately 90g. The average male would need 120g, maybe 150g depending on size and goals.
Now if your current protein portion size at night is 200 – 250g, you now have 100 – 150g of protein up your sleeve to spread throughout the day. Make sense?
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FATS?
Fats are actually the trickiest thing, because we need to get fat at every meal, but there are limited good fats. You’ve got avocado, nuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil. So you need to plan accordingly, maybe you have olive oil on all your salads, maybe you have avocado with meats, maybe you have nuts with a snack or if you have a meal that lacked the other fats. Remember to count the fat you cook with if you are cooking a stirfry etc. but, cooking fat should be kept to a minimum.
Lets look at nuts as a very common snack food. How many nuts do you eat as a snack? Honestly!
Well, I need you to eat 6 for the average female and 9 – 12 for the average male. So if you have 20 once a day, I am asking you to eat 6 nuts 3 times a day. Get it? Can you also see from this that you may be consuming too many nuts at the moment?
BUT WHAT CARBS SHOULD I EAT
Realistically on Zone, you can eat any carbs you want, but the worse the quality of the carb, the less you can have of it. So if you want a filling meal, you should be choosing good quality carbs.
The main thing we are looking at with the carbs is the glycemic index and the impact that food will have on insulin levels. So, something like bread or potato or rice that is high on the glycemic index, you can only have a small amount. Example, an average females portion of pasta would be ½ cup with a tomato sauce. No other carbs. Lets think about how that would look on the plate and how filling it would be. Not very appealing to the eyes and not very filling.
Lets think of something like stir fried vegetable with oyster sauce. An average female could have 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup green beans, 1 cup capsicum.
Now put that on a plate with your protein and see how satisfying and appetising that meal is.
OK, OK, SO NOW WHAT?
Well I think this rant has gone on for long enough, I have given you the why’s, I will give you the how’s in the next post. Here it is – Eating balanced meals for weight loss Part 2
Please go and buy “A week in the Zone” by Dr Barry Sears. This book will lay it all out for you and is a very informative easy read.
Any questions at all, please post in the comments section because your question is probably the same as what somebody else is thinking and I can answer everyone together.