In the exercise and training manual by Gold Gym, there is a phrase that sticks out within its first 40 pages: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” There seems to be some anecdotal evidence to this. There are people who exercise a great deal but never seem to lose any weight. Certainly, part of that has to do with sticking with the same exercises.
But part of that as well is their diet.
One fitness trainer remarked a few months ago that when trying to lose weight, only 40% of less is due to an exercise routine. 60% or more is due to a person’s diet, which means what kind of foods a person eats, which dictates the amount of nutrition they get in their bodies as well as how many calories they consume.
There are many different kinds of diets out there, for people who are looking to lose weight, stay at the same level, or gain weight. The U.S. News and World Report came out with their list of the top 40 diets for Americans within the past two weeks and one thing stands out from the diets at the top of their list: balanced nutrition is helpful for longevity.
Balanced nutrition simply means that calories (and macro-calories) come from a wide variety of different sources, and in the top diets, from whole foods. Calories are divided into three macro-nutrient categories: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. A balanced ratio between those three macro-nutrient categories seems to lead to more sustainable dieting.
To take each category one by one and explain gives the best answer to that question of how, but first it’s helpful to look the source of all nutrition, which is the whole food. Whole foods have been described in different ways to mean roughly the same thing. They are foods without preservatives, that have not been processed.
There has been a lot of talk about preservatives and processed food for the past 20 years or so, as the health movement has gained more steam. Whole foods simply mean foods that have not been processed, and processed being foods that have been changed in some way to less resemble themselves.
Processed food may be as simple as looking at the Instant Flakes for mashed potatoes in the supermarket, or that instant dinner that can be heated up in the microwave. Processed foods generally are generally less nutritious than whole foods, do not contain as much fiber, and are generally less healthy than whole foods.
Whole foods are the underpinning of the major diets that are listed at the top of the U.S. News and World Report’s list for the top American diet and for good reason: They present the opportunity to receive the most nutrients per calorie and are generally likelier to be free of pesticides and preservatives.
There are some other important points about diets as well. Carbohydrates can be looked at a simple or complex carbohydrates, which refers to how the sugar is arranged in the food (simple means a sugar molecule by itself, while complex means as part of a string, which takes it longer to be digested). Fats can be regarded as good fats or bad fats.
And protein is often debated in terms of how much we need and what kinds of foods are best to get protein (some lean meats and fish are advocated in the top two U.S. News and World Report diets, the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet).
Then there are microgreens, to move to a specific food. Microgreens are small greens that are often used as garnishes at fine dining restaurants to cover the top of soups, meat, and salads. They pack a huge nutritional punch for their size, often doubling or quadrupling the nutritional value of the same plant but one that is slightly larger.
They have some statistics associated with them.
- There are perhaps 100 types of common garden flowers that are both edible and palatable.
- Microgreens have been around for 20-30 years.
- The average fine dining cost per person in the U.S. amounts to $28.55.
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