I realize that I have fallen into a trap lately of grazing, particularly before bed. Now, we don't have anything particularly "bad" in our cabinets in my home, but even too many handfuls of GoLean cereal, or nuts and nut butters, or rice cakes...or whatever...add up. So I realized I'm starting to re-develop my grazing problem. Grazing is what I call eating between meals, a spoonful here, a handful there - you know, eating that is usually just to pass time and doesn't really serve any other purpose.
I've had this habit since I was a kid, I can't tell you how it started, but I liked to eat dinner, perhaps have a light dessert, and then around 9:00, continue eating. I'm not sure when the habit started, maybe High School when I was up late doing homework, but even today I have struggles if I'm up late on the computer, watching TV, etc., with not raiding the cabinets! It's unnecessary calories and as you know, I've suggested to all of you how good it is to stop eating within 2-3 hours of going to bed. Additionally, this is eating for the sake of eating, or sometimes even worse - emotional eating.
I've been talking a lot about eating healthy carbs lately and how a balanced diet of carbs/fat/protein is the best diet solution for any person exercising fairly regularly. Diets that highlight or eliminate one of the three macronutrients don't provide your body with what it needs!
A quick review:
Carbs are our body's immediate energy resource. They are easily digested and are essential for the body to perform daily functions, as it is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Insulin regulates the storage of carbohydrate, but if there is too much to handle, or if too much of your carbohydrate is sugar or "white," your body won't be able to utilize it fast enough and will store the remainder as fat. For some reason, many athletes and people trying to get fit seem to think that protein intake is more important than carbs, when in reality both are equally important. The truth is carbs are more directly related to performance and energy. Carbs get a bad wrap, but you couldn't live without them, so don't go "no-carb," go "smart carb." More on how to later!
Fats help absorb certain vitamins (A,D,E, and K), are the body's long term storage mechanism and help us feel full when we eat - a certain amount of fat (around 20% of diet) is necessary. They also make food taste good! Watch out for saturated fats which tend to be from animal fat. Good sources of fat are fish, avocado, olive oil, canola oil, and nuts. The body specifically needs the two essential fatty acids - Omega 3's and Omega 6's, which it cannot manufacture on it's own. Trans fats are a no-no, and are easily identified by seeing the words partially hydrogenated, or hydrogenated on a food label.
Proteins deliver amino acids to the body, which are the building blocks of all tissues - muscle, hair, skin, nails, etc. Other important functions are controlling osmolarity (fluid balance), creating antibodies for the immune system, and formation of enzymes and hormones. Animal sources of protein (meat, eggs, dairy) and soy are the main complete proteins, while other plant proteins are incomplete, meaning they don't contain all of the essential amino acids. Weight lifters keep special attention to the 3 branched chain amino acids, Leucine, Isoleucine, and valine, (think LIV) which simply stated are most related to building muscle.
Most of the time, we are given advice on what to EAT but forget that there are many types of drinks out there (and I'm not talking about just alcohol) that can blow your daily calories out of the water! It starts with soda...but ends up being a variety of other drinks that may not even cause our radar to go off, and some which may even seem "healthy." If you google "worst drinks in America" you can probably find a million different countdowns that go blow-by-blow what the highest calorie, highest sugar drinks are, but instead of worrying about a specific brand of this and that, I'm going to just give you an overview of the "types" of drinks you want to avoid.
Have you ever wondered what is going inside your body and brain when you have a specific craving? Who here has a sweet tooth? Ever get salt cravings? What about chocolate and fats? Well, in order to figure out what is going on inside your body, it is usually a good idea to look at the hormone involved, as hormones are the compounds which communicate to the brain what is going on in the body. These hormone signals don't "know" or care about weight loss, aerobic strength, fitness level, etc. They just "know" survival instinct and homeostasis - if something is lacking in your blood - glucose, sodium, iron, etc. - your body is going to do its best to get you to replace what is missing! This is often where cravings come from! However, you'll soon find what you crave is often NOT what your body needs!
I'm going to talk about 4 categories of "liquid" supplements today. I have written about all this individually, but thought because I am constantly getting questions about these types of things, I'd put it all in one email. By the end, you should know that protein drinks and recovery drinks aren't the same thing. Maybe carbohydrates are the best pre-workout supplement? Will protein powder make you gain weight? How do you use a meal replacement shake and why do many not work?