Good morning you all. I believe my last blog entry was an introduction to my interpretation of “wellness” a couple of weeks back. Today I want to address questions that I often get asked regarding flexible dieting versus a diet constructed of whole foods.
Take the picture below for example both options provide 500 calories. So if you look at it scientifically, no matter the food choice, 500 calories are 500 calories. A calorie is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius; therefore, no matter where the calories come from, a calorie is still a calorie.
So what does flexible dieting mean? Flexible dieting is just as its name depicts. As long as your macros (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) fit within the totals that are prescribed for your diet (whether it be for weight gain or weight loss), then you will yield results.
A diet that is constructed of whole foods means that the individual chooses foods that are non-processed and in their most natural state. The same goes for this approach, as long as your macros (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) fit within the totals that are prescribed for your diet (whether it be for weight gain or weight loss), then you will yield results.
So if both styles yield the same results when it comes to fat loss (or gain), then what is the best approach, or the correct approach to a strategic diet. I will share with you all my personal opinion of each approach and the reasoning behind my choices.
To begin, I want to address my thoughts on flexible dieting. Flexible dieting is an approach to eating that allows you to eat any food you want as long as you can fit it into your prescribed totals. I personally find that this approach works great for a variety of people: those that are new to dieting, those with an untrained palate, individuals that like to incorporate “treat meals,” and the list goes on. Most individuals are familiar with a typical American diet. Americans tend to consume a lot of high-sodium, high-fat, processed foods. If you take an individual such as this and remove all of the foods that they currently consume and replace them with broiled fish and broccoli, the chances of them sticking to this unfamiliarity is slim. If the individual can still consume their usual Tuesday evening Tyson chicken nuggets with the only change being to bake them in the oven and trade in the traditional ranch dipping sauce for a healthier yogurt-based dressing, they will be more apt to follow a plan.
How many times have you heard someone say, or have even said yourself, “I don’t like vegetables,” often followed with the admission of having never tried it, or haven’t tried it since the initial taste (years prior)? If I gave this person a menu constructed mainly of fibrous veggies, then he/she would probably do one of two things: one, he/she would totally skimp on the veggies all together not meeting their totals for the day, or second, he/she goes on a binger three days in because their body is craving everything it’s not allowing for.
I think for someone to dive headfirst into a new eating pattern and replace everything they are familiar with is a disaster waiting to happen. The flexible approach can be a great introduction to healthier eating patterns, not only for those new to calorie (macro) tracking but can be extremely beneficial for those that suffer from an unhealthy relationship with food.
What about the “whole foods” approach to nutrition? Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed, meaning they have no additives or preservatives. This menu consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Most often than not, you will find those who adhere to a whole foods approach are thoroughly interested in the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) of each food just as well. The idea of a whole foods diet is for improving health and preventing disease. Heavily processed foods are full of refined flours and processed sugars often replacing the numerous beneficial Photochemicals and Antioxidants.
You have heard “you are what you eat?” Well, if you aren’t getting enough micronutrients (those vitamins and minerals that prevent certain cancers), then what are you eating? Often the most recent fad-diet online is what people believe to be the truth, and unfortunately, this information is usually incorrect.
Here’s what it comes down to, and its pretty simple really. Everything in life is about balance. We are human and one of our primary pleasures in life is food. If you find yourself consuming more processed foods than whole foods, make certain that you are choosing options low in fat and fortified with essential nutrients. Also, try slowly implementing vegetables into your meals to familiarize (or introduce) your palate to new flavors. If you aren’t consuming 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day with two of those being greens, then it is wise to consider supplementing with a multi-vitamin (women over the age of 30 should consider adding an additional calcium supplement paired with Vitamin D).
A healthy diet is one that helps to maintain or improve overall health. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be seduced by the occasional piece of chocolate cake.