End of hiatus

I shall end my hiatus with this short update.

All has been unwell. But life goes on and my gears have started spinning again so I hope they keep my creative juices flowing. Expect to see some stuff up here soon.

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Healthy Pyramid Diet (Part 6 – Protein)

When protein is mentioned, one thinks of

1) The highly controversial High Protein and Fat, Low/Zero Carb Atkin’s Diet

2) Expensive and huge intimidating tubs of whey powder from GNC

3) Fatty and sinful slabs of steaks chuckful of artery-clogging cholesterol

4) Miracle protein sources such as soy, or more affectionately known as the ‘boneless meat’

5) Meat. (This invokes very different reactions; meat-lover salivate at the very thought while vegeterians lose their appetite)

The first thing you think of:

Looks like we have a lot to talk about 😉

The first thing about protein you should know is this:

Not all types of protein are essential for human function. There are only 8 types of proteins that are considered essential amino acids (EAAs). We will discuss this in future posts.

The second thing about protein you should know is this:

Not all protein is the same. Some are healthier than the others. It depends on the type, source and the method of processing/packaging/preparation.

For example, a grilled steak originating from a healthy and grass-fed cow that resides in a large farm in New Zealand is vastly different from a sausage, laden with preservatives and artificial flavourings/colourings, that has been deep fried in vegetable oil.

Guess which is a healthier choice?

The third thing about protein you should know is this:

Protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient. (You burn the most calories digesting it). It also provides the most satiety. (You feel full faster after eating protein).

Excessive protein intake DOES NOT lead to renal or kidney failure because the body fails to handle the huge influx of protein.

However, it is NOT recommended that you neglect eating your greens. A rich source of alkaline-forming fruits and vegetables is required to buffer the increase in acidity brought by consumption of (red) animal meat. A reduction in pH decreases the solubility of uric acid, making the urine more concentrated, thereby increasing the chances of developing a kidney stone.

It is only advisable to lower one’s protein intake in the event when one develops a kidney disease. Otherwise, feel free to eat fresh, organic meat but balance it with equal amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Neither does eating too much protein cause anyone to develop cancer; This claim resulted from a FALSE report that carcinogenic compounds found in undigested dietary protein in the colons. Ignore it.

Kindly ignore me. I'm just a piece of sensational bullshit.

 

Then again, I must remind you no one ever got healthy and achieved six pack abs from eating fried chicken, hamburgers and sausages/processed meats.

If the above constitutes what you consider as ‘meat or protein’, for the sake of your health and longevity, I implore you to reconsider your definition.

The last thing you should know is this:

Most people (including you and me) consume too little dietary protein. This is very true for most athletes (especially those who engage in resistance/strength training programmes). The majority of the population eats less than 2g/kg per bodyweight when we should be aiming for a minimum of 4g/kg per bodyweight.

Not much people seem to appreciate the importance of protein in our diet.

Definitely not this guy though..

But why is it imperative that one also mainains a minimum protein intake?

Protein has many uses and supports many bodily functions such as repairing muscle tissues after a workout, provide raw materials for the body to replace dead cells, increase meal satiety, provides lasting energy and burn fat. In short, protein is good and everyone needs to eat more protein.

Since we need more protein in our diet, it is important that we know where to get high quality protein from. Generally, health-conscious people (like the Japanese) sources dietary protein from cold-water fatty fish such as salmon and tuna or high quality meats like grass-fed beef and free range organic chickens. This will increase the intake of (very beneficial) fatty omega-3 acids as well as increase one’s satiety after a meal. (Look out for a future post concerning ‘organic food’)

Protein is also a vital component in sports nutrition. It is responsible for repairing fatigued and damaged muscles after exercising and this ensures the muscle grows and adapts to the training rigours. Remember: Training is catabolic (breaks down the body and muscles). We need protein to repair our muscles, hence the need for post-workout meals.

Lastly, high quality protein is not unhealthy at all. Examples of good protein sources include grass-fed beef, wild alaskan salmon and organic eggs. These food sources all contain very healthy nutrients such as omega-3 fats and are complete protein sources (have all the 8 EAAs). If you can rotate between any one of the three for 3 meals a day, your protein needs would be more than thoroughly taken care of.

However, beware of poor protein nutrition. Poor protein sources includes sausages, processed hamburger patties and fried chicken. The protein in these sources have been contaminated with disgusting additives and preservatives to ‘enhance’ the taste of the food and prolong shelf life.

A sure-fire way to determine the healthiness of a protein is to examine the ingredients list. Does it have more than 5 ingredients? Strike one. Does any of the ingredients sound foreign to you? (Does Natamycin or Pimaracin ring a bell? How about sodium nitrite?) Avoid them like the plague.

Just like Michael Pollan saying:

“Don’t eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

No one should ever consider compromising his or her health for the sake of saving a few dollars. If you have to, avoid eating processed foods or limit it to an occasional indulgence during festivities.

Conclusion:

  • Aim for a dietary protein intake of 4g/kg of bodyweight.
  • Eat only (if not, mostly) fresh, lean meat (white and red), eggs. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, try eating white meats (fish, chicken or turkey instead)

No dear, that's not white meat. Thanks for trying 😉

 

  • Avoid frying your meat. If you must, stir fry it over a low to medium heat. Grilling is a good option but do not eat the charred bits.
  • Barbecuing is advised against owing to the tendency for meat to stay slightly uncooked and the dubious preparation methods, as well as the chances for meat to char.
  • Avoid marinating your meat with any sweet and caloric-dense sauce. Usually, a black pepper and garlic would go very well with it.
  • If you are not allergic to dairy, consume fresh organic milk (Try the brand: Organic Valley), butter and cheese
  • If your intake of animal protein is high, ensure you are eating a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits as well.
  • Every meal you eat should have protein in it.
  • Never ever eat a double cheeseburger when you can have a New Zealand steak instead.

In the upcoming posts, I will talk about how different people require different dietary protein intake and how one can eat more protein to burn more fat. Stay tuned.

Till then, stay healthy

sgfitnessblog

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Posted in Diet, eating well, healthy pyramid diet, Meat, Nutrition, Protein | Leave a comment

End of hiatus

Sorry for the recent hiatus.

I have been busy with an overseas trip.

Please look forward to the next series of blog posts.

-sgfitnessblog

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Healthy Pyramid Diet (Part 5 – Carbohydrate)

1. Facts and Fallacies of Carbohydrates

I bet most of us have heard something similar to below once in a while:

You set yourself up for a energetic and productive day once you consume sufficient carbohydrates that gets your body.

Carbohydrates provide me with ‘quick energy’ and perks me up during the morning, when I feel especially down.

I love carbos. They give me the sugar rush I need whenever I’m low on energy.

(Below) Taken from Singapore Health Promotion Board website: http://www.hpb.gov.sg/foodforhealth/article.aspx?id=2638

Protein-rich food such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs … are placed at the third level of the pyramid. This means that while we need these nutrient-rich food, the number of servings recommended is smaller than that for grain food, fruit, and vegetables.

Seeing how most people can’t get by without their bowl of cereal every morning and others, their mug of milo or coffee, I’m therefore inclined to say:

Singapores generally feel that carbohydrates take priority amongst all other macronutrients and therefore, should include it the most in their diet.

Is this always the case? Must carbohydrates always take precedence over other nutrients? Is it possible for us to remain at a constant weight while eating equal ratios of protein or even *gasp*, fat?

The answer is “Yes.”

Firstly, some research as to why starchy carbs are not the best way to keep your energy elevated for sustainable periods of time.

Referring to the graph below,

1) Red line will denote your blood glucose level after you eat a bowl of oatmeal.

Your energy level is elevated to a level lower than what high GI food can cause, but it stays up much longer which is what you want- so it can provide you with sustainable energy to last you till your next meal so you will not experience hunger pangs, loss of concentration or any other symptoms of low blood glucose.

2) Green line will denote the level of your blood glucose after you consume a bowl of crispy pebbles cornflakes for breakfast.

The consequence of too much sugar

Yes, your energy level does rise, but for how long? In a few (an) hour(s), your energy level will crash and leave you feeling drained and tired. You end up losing focus.

On a separate note:

You can most certainly stay alive without eating any carbohydrates (and I really mean ZERO carbohydrates). As referenced before, carbohydrates are not essential nutrients. However, if we exclude carbohydrates from our diet, it will be at the peril of our health.

Carbohydrates are not essential nutrients in humans: the body can obtain all its energy from protein and fats

However, they are a fantastic source of nutrients, for example:

A whole grain

  1. Fiber (Any leafy or cruciferous vegetable, spinach, broccoli etc
  2. Phytochemicals i.e beta-carotene, lycopene (Any colourful vegetable like tomatoes etc)
  3. Antioxidants (Berries, kale, cabbage, grapes)
  4. Vitamins and Minerals (Citrus fruits rich in Vitamin C and spinach is rich in iron etc)
  5. Alkaline properties (Help to reduce acidity, improve cell function)

Most starchy carbs pale in comparison in all the above 5 factors. Even whole grains contain considerately less total fiber than say, an apple or cabbage. Another important factor is just how many percent of the food you are eating is whole-grain? Whole grain encapsulates all 3 components (Germ, Bran and Wheat) and some (if not, ALL) the whole-grain food you are eating is actually partially refined

Not all whole-grain is the same...

They also lack phytochemicals which is unique only to fruits and vegetables (exception: legumes like soy, more on that later). Phytochemicals are important because they impact everything from your hormonal status, to your disease risk to your ability to fight off colds and infections.

Bread, pasta and starchy carbohydrates (yes, that includes your multi-grain/enriched/high fiber) breads/rice generally contain MORE carbohydrates, are easier to break down into sugar and contain LESS nutrients (Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants etc) than Vegetables and Fruits.

If you want lose weight and increase your metabolism, this is NOT what you want. Why? Simply because fibrous carbs are generally LESS CALORIE DENSE but MORE NUTRIENT DENSE than simple carbohydrates

Less calorie dense: Contains less calories per unit weight. You can eat more of it and it will give you same amount of calories even when you eat less of something calorie dense

Nutrient dense: Contains more nutrients per unit weight. You get a lot more nutrients in when you eat something nutrient dense, making you full faster, preventing bingeing and overeating.

Refer to the apple and potato chips example. for a more detailed explanation.

So I hope I have established the ground that for the sole purpose of filling your stomach/keeping you full, Fruits and Vegetables are vastly superior to eating starchy carbs such as Bread, Pasta and Rice.

Hence, the bottom of the healthy pyramid should not be comprised of starchy carbs.

Beware of these possible whole grain imposers

2. How one can use carbohydrates to suit his dietary requirements and lifestyle

If you are very active and take part in many physically strenuous sports and activities, it will do you good if you eat a variety of carbohydrates and that includes starchy carbs.

To kickstart your day, eat mostly fibrous carbs (in bold below). This is to sustain your energy level throughout the morning till your next feeding. Choice of protein is up to you, it would be good if you use a slower-acting protein though, so it can be slowly released into the body.

A good example would be:

A bowl of oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder (casein or whey would be fine) and blueberries (feel free to add in raw coconut milk or organic milk to give texture)

Good choice. Keeps you fully, healthy and energised.

VS a bad example:

  1. 4 slices of toast
  2. Kaya / Chocolate spread (Nutella) / Some shitty peanutbutter brand (hydrogenated, salted etc)
  3. Fruit Juice

If you happen to be train in the morning, you may want to include some fast-acting carbs (in bold below) in your diet. They can break down into glucose and enter your bloodstream fast enough to be used for energy during training.

A good example would be:

1) A protein milk shake

  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • Organic milk
  • Banana
  • Yoghurt (optional)
  • Nuts / unsalted and non-hydrogenated natural peanut butter (optional)

2) Alternatively, whole egg omelettes sandwiched between whole grain bread with lots of vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and a dash of olive oil) would be sweet too!

VS a bad choice

Bad choice. Full of crap and marketing lies. Don’t eat this shit.
  1. Typical 3 in 1 Coffee (Wayyy too much sugar)
  2. Typical Breakfast cereal with milk (Breakfast cereal contains too much hidden sugar and too little protein/fat to provide sustainable energy – your energy level will crash a few hours later)
  3. Any sports drink (You don’t need it now)

After your physical activites/training, always be sure to have a post-workout meal/drink which should ideally consist of fast-acting simple protein (whey) and starchy or simple carbs. I will not go too in-depth about protein in this post but  protein is important because it helps repair your muscles (weakened and damaged from training hard).

A good post-workout meal example would be:

Rice doesn't have to be white to taste awesome

  1. Rice (unpolished/uunrefined/wild would be good) / Pasta from whole grains is acceptable too / Any other whole grains like barley, quinoa etc)
  2. Chicken Breast / Salmon / Tuna or Any organic poultry or cold water fatty fish
  3. Lots of fruits and vegetables (to replenish all the lost minerals and nutrients)
  4. Coconut water (rich in electrolytes, to refresh and hydrate yourself after a workout) OR any sports/isotonic drink (watch the sugar in it though)

VS a bad choice. Generally quite hard because any nutrition is useful post workout. However, some exceptions:

  1. Any oily greasy meal with zero/little protein and fast acting carbs
  2. Hot dogs / Fried Chicken (Any thing that is deep fried or overly processed)
  3. Any meal/food containing excessive sugar without at least some nutrients (sweet stuff like ice kachang)
  4. Any sugary beverage that promises to restore your body with electrolytes (soft drinks etc)

Fast-acting carbs help you to replenish your glycogen stores (which breaks down to give glucose, providing you with energy) and also restores your body’s energy balance. After training, your body will be in a state of energy deficit. Eating carbohydrates helps regenerate energy in the body so the body will not generate energy from undesirable sources such as burning your muscle protein to increase energy input (Imagine burning your muscles away just to provide energy, it defeats the purpose of going to the gym does it not?)

Why different people require different types and quantity of carbohydrates to ensure optimal health.

Some people wonder why they workout/train/run so much and yet seem to gain weight at an alarming rate just by eating rice/carbohydrates and there are those people who do not exercise at all and eat a lot of carbohydrates but still remain woefully skinny.

How your body handles/metabolises carbohydrates generally depend on the following factors:

  1. Age
  2. Body type (Ectomorph/Mesomorph/Endomorph)
  3. Activity level
  4. Type of physical activity
  5. Genes (Asians tend to have an easier time handling carbs)
  6. Most importantly, the kind of carbohydrates

These factors are intertwined meaning the function of any one variable is also influenced if other variables change. For example, we assume that older people have lower levels of physical activity.

1) Age

Ever heard of the saying or personally observed it yourself? “The older one gets, the slower his/her metabolism will be and the fatter he/she will get”

Is it true that older people cannot handle carbohydrates as well as children and teenagers? Yes and no.

In general, the older the person is, the lower his/her level of physical activity. I cannot imagine my grandmother (pushing her 80s) running about the field, chasing after a football.

However, life loves an occasional parody. Surprise surprise, there are some 70 year old nannies running distances that will make most seasoned ultramarathoners cry and there are also some children that make pigs look underweight.

http://www.youtube.com/v/ReYcQFaX07g?fs=1&hl=en_US

So does the statement still stand? You decide. (Author’s note: Though of course I have my reservations when it comes to their choice of exercise, but who’s to judge? They certainly look healthier than 99.99% of the people in their age group)

2) Body type

A mesomorph would arguably have the highest metabolic rate amongst all 3 body types since he/she has the most muscle mass (which increases the Resting Metabolic Rate – RMR). RMR contributes to one’s metabolism.

Also, a mesomorph tends to eat more than owing to his bigger size and high metabolism and this causes his Thermic effect of Eating (TEF) to increase, thus revving up his metabolism even higher.

Hence, a mesomorph would most likely be able to get away with eating a box of doughnuts without gaining too much fat.

However, one’s appearance is also a function of other environmental factors and upbringing (active and healthy family) so try not to hold on to any preconceived bias or judgement.

I did warn you you about your preconceived judgemental biasness

3. Activity level

If you are physically active, your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) increases and does, increases your energy expenditure, allowing one to eat more food/carbs in order to equalise this deficit.

If you are not physically active, chances are your metabolism will not be elevated and hence, you expend less energy. Thus food you eat will be more readily deposited as fat.

4. Types of physical activity

Research has shown and proven interval training to be superior in terms of fat loss as compared to constant state cardio.

Hence, if one were to run intervals for 20minutes as opposed to someone else who runs at a constant pace, he or she will definitely burn more fat.

I will post an article about interval training soon. Keep posted.

5. Genes

Genes may affect the body’s reaction to carbohydrates. Asians seem to handle carbohydrates better since we eat it (rice/porridge) on a more frequent basis. However, I have not read any definitive research about this yet.

Otherwise, ectomorphs and mesomorphs tend to metabolise carbohydrates faster, with the former burning it off too quickly and the latter either burning all of it off too or being able to retain some of it to replenish his glycogen stores

Endomorphs have a harder time though. If they do not watch what they eat, chances are they will put on some fat.

6. Lastly, but definitely not the least important, what kind of carbohydrates are we talking here?

Jane may eat a hell lot more carbohydrates than Jennie and still not put on weight if what she is eating bears resemblance to the foods below:

  1. Broccoli
  2. Celery
  3. Kale
  4. Spinach
  5. Fruits
  6. Unpolished whole-grain wild rice
  7. Oatmeal
  8. Whatever that is colourful (naturally), grows from the soil and isn’t too sweet

You get the picture hopefully.

Oh right, this concludes the carbohydrate section of the healthy pyramid diet series. Stay tuned to the next section on fats!

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Posted in Carbohydrate, Diet, eating well, fast food, Fitness, glycemic index, healthy pyramid diet, Introduction, Nutrition, Sugar, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Healthy Pyramid Diet (Part 4 – Carbohydrate)

Straight to the point:

So why do carbohydrates occupy the base of the healthy pyramid of Singapore?

To answer this question, firstly we have to understand

  1. What is general mindset and opinion towards carbohydrates amongst Singaporeans.
  2. How carbohydrates are advertised and promoted in real life which affects people’s perception of it.

1. What is general mindset and opinion towards carbohydrates amongst Singaporeans.

Singaporeans generally love their carbohydrates.

This is far from surprising as Asians, regardless of country of origin and race, generally eat a lot of carbohydrates. It is deeply entwined within our culture and heritage;  Nasi Lemak, Nasi Bryani, Roti Prata, Egg noodles and of course, rice (all variations: fried, chicken, sushi etc) – all these foods that have been around for decades and have were responsible for filling up my grandfather’s stomach.

I truly respect the different ethnic traditions and history of our predominantly, carbohydrate diet.

The media and health experts have generally given carbohydrates (except sugar) a clean bill of health and always recommend that we eat lots of it.

Popular grain food such as bread, rice, noodles, pasta … are great sources of complex carbohydrates. They are your body’s preferred fuel to support physical and mental activities. Fill your plate with enough grains at each meal to stay energized through out the day.

Excerpt taken from: http://www.hpb.gov.sg/foodforhealth/article.aspx?id=2638

No wonder Singaporeans love carbohydrates.


Hello foreigners, this is just a fraction of what SIngaporeans eat..

Our diets look a lot like this on a typical daily basis:

Toast (Ya Kun) for Breakfast? Settled.

Char Kway Teow for Lunch? On!

Chicken Rice or Bar Chor Mee for Dinner – Both lah!

The next day:

I want breakfast cereal (Kelloggs, Nestle and Post: All the leading brands)

Hokkien Mee sounds good for afternoon.

Wanton Mee or Zhar Cai for dinner?

Prata for supper!

In between, whenever our stomach growls, we rummage through our bags or scour the kitchens for some munchies – You know, just some cookies, biscuits or doughnuts – and for the healthier individuals, muesli and fruit bars. (Actually, I find most ‘muesli/energy bars’ out there to be a complete scam and waste of money.)

This amounts to quite a lot of carbohydrates! Our bodies are quickly turning into carbohydrate processing machines!

2. How carbohydrates are advertised and promoted in real life which affects people’s perception of it.

Needless to say, the Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) has been quite active in persuading the general population to eat healthier foods and avoid foods containing excess oil and lard (Char Kway Teow). They have even introduced a line of labels Healthier Choice Selection (HCS) to help the average Ben and Joe differentiate healthier variants of the foods they usually eat. Read more about it here:

http://www.hpb.gov.sg/foodforhealth/article.aspx?id=7498

This is a good initiative as it help consumers to pick foods that are healthier and contribute to their well-being.

In addition, they are also levelling up their criteria and updating their criteria and restrictions. For example, they have taken out white and polished grains as well as white and enriched breads.

With Reference to white/unpolished rice:

In view of the above, we regret to inform that HPB will cease the endorsement of HCS on white and polished rice with effect from November 2009.
In view of the above, we regret to inform that HPB will cease the endorsement of HCS on white breads with effect from November 2009.

Read more here: http://www.hpb.gov.sg/foodforhealth/article.aspx?id=2780

As seen, HPB has indeed done a great deal to promote better food choices amongst Singaporeans. However, more needs to be done in order to impart the knowledge that not all carbohydrates are as healthy as what they seem.

For instance, overconsumption of carbohydrates (which is basically what almost everybody is guilty of) is a major cause of fat gain.

The public needs to be educated on the direct relationship between the consumption of certain carbohydrates and fat gain.

How do carbohydrate consumption promote fat gain?

When we eat carbohydrates, we break it down into glucose. As part of the metabolic reactions (glycolysis) that converts glucose into energy for usage, an intermediate acetyl-CoA is formed. Acetyl-CoA is a chemical commonly used as an entry point in many synthesis reactions such as fat synthesis for example.

Excess Acetyl-CoA = Gain Fat. Period.

Basically, eating lots of carbohydrates causes an excess of acetyl-CoA, which joins together to form fat.

The reason why this results is because when we consume a diet high in simple carbohydrate (or sugar), they are easily digested and hence quickly converted into Acetyl CoA.. Without an avenue to transfer (expend/use) the energy, an excess production of Acetyl-CoA results. When they remain untouched, they join together to form fat.

Am I saying eating carbohydrates will make you fat? Depends. You probably will not get fat from eating spinach and broccoli but you will definitely get fat if you live off Factory Doughnuts. There are many factors to consider, and they have be explained below:

  1. The facts and fallacies of carbohydrates.
  2. How one can use carbohydrates to suit his dietary requirements and lifestyle
  3. Why different people require different types and quantity of carbohydrates to ensure optimal health.

I will touch on these points in the next post, which will also be the last post pertaining to carbohydrates. Inside it, I will include examples of meal plans which you can implement in your daily life so as to enjoy a healthier way of eating carbohydrates.

I hope you look forward to the concluding post! I have written it together with this post but broke them up for easier reading.

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In view of the above, we regret to inform that HPB will cease the endorsement of HCS on white and polished rice with effect from November 2009.In view of the above, we regret to inform that HPB will cease the endorsement of HCS on white breads with effect from November 2009.

Posted in Carbohydrate, Diet, eating well, fast food, Fitness, glycemic index, healthy pyramid diet, Introduction, Nutrition, Sugar | 1 Comment

Healthy Pyramid Diet (Part 3 – Carbohydrate)

Carbohydrates.

The foundation of the Singapore Healthy Pyramid Diet.

Some people swear by it, some hate it with a passion.

Regardless whether you are an atkins low carb diet fan or on any weight loss diet, if you are able to utilize the different types of carbohydrates, you can benefit from healthy weight loss, improvement in body composition and feel more energised throughout the day.

A quick recap on some of the things I disagree with the Singapore Healthy Pyramid:

Eating fat makes you more fat. We do not need (too) much protein in our diet. 2g/kg is sufficient to meet our body’s requirememnt. Too much (red) meat contains artery-clogging cholesterol which causes cardiovascular diseases.

Eat rice and pasta to increase satiety (the feeling of ‘fullness’) . Carbohydrates are good becaue they will not make you fat and gives you energy.

Limit one’s intake of dairy to reduce fat content. Butter and cheese contains saturated fat and should be replaced with plant-based oils. For example, margarine, canola oil etc

Did you notice that the points worth debating can usually be summarised into “Are proteins, carbohydrates and fats good for you?”

Let me just start by saying this:

“Protein, Fat, Carbohydrate are important for our survival. Each nutrient has an important role to play in the upkeeping and functioning of our body. ”

However, just because they are equally important does not mean you need to eat equal amounts of each macronutrient.

On the other hand, it is not healthy to severely limit any form of nutrient intake, be it Protein, Fat or Carbohydrate.

Therefore, just how exactly should one eat? High Carb, Low Fat? High Protein and Fat?

To tackle this question, I will examine each macronutrient individually.

Lets talk about Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are organic compounds that only consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, with a general formula of

Different kinds of carbs

CnH2nOn where ‘n’ is an arbitary number.

They can be classified as simple or complex.

As quoted from Precision Nutrition:

Simple carbohydrates are smaller, more easily processed molecules known as mono- and disaccharides since they contain either one sugar molecule or two sugar molecules linked together.

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are called polysaccharides since they have more than two sugar groups linked together.

We’ve got alot to cover in this chemistry lecture Moving on, Carbohydrates can also be differentiated into 3 broad dietary categories by ease of digestion and glycemic index (in descending order)

  • (Complex) Fibrous Carbohydrates
  • (Complex) Starchy Carbohydrates
  • Sugar (Simple Carbohydrate)

The Glycemic index is basically a measure of how different carbohydrates affect the blood sugar level.

Carbohydrates that break down into sugar and raise blood sugar level quickly have a high glycemic index score.

Carbohydrates that take longer to digest and be absorbed into the bloodstream have a lower glycemic index value.

Foods that are ranked lower on the glycemic index are generally healthier because they contain less sugar and help to control the blood glucose level by maintaining a sustainable release of sugar into the body. This gives time for the hormone, leptin, to signal to the body that it is full so one will not overeat.

Glycemic index (GI) will be explained more detailedly in future posts, where I will also talk about why it is not the most accurate way to assess the effect a food has on the blood sugar level.

Fibrous Carbohydrates

Termed the ‘healthiest’ carbohydrate amongst the trio, its claim to fame resulted from its rich source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and many other nutrients. Low Carb diet fans love it for being low carb and low cal, making it an ideal food choice for a weight loss diet.

Good stuff with a healthy dose of fiber

Sources of Fibrous Carbohydrates include but are not limited to:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Fruits (most)
  • Green Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Mushroom

Fibrous Carbohydrates are beneficial for us because it has a low glycemic index (GI) score so it provides our body with sustainable energy and hence, help control our blood sugar level within healthy levels. If one replaces it with other forms of carbohydrates, he or she will observe healthy weight loss, making the above food choices an important inclusion in any dietary weight loss plan.

Losing weight sounds pretty cool huh? Read on to find out more about the wonders of fibrous carbs.

Starchy Carbohydrates

Home of our favourite foods or even dietary staples (white rice and french fries no less!), starchy carbohydrates are obviously a recurring element in most people’s diets. Don’t believe me? Take this simple (and healthy) test.

Do 5 pushups everytime I mention a food which last week.

  1. Rice
  2. Bread
  3. Cereal
  4. Pasta
  5. Noodles
  6. Pancakes
  7. French Fries/Potato salad/Yams
  8. Any Breadtalk or Donut Factory product

I’ll give you a minute to catch your breath *Quite disappointed you can’t do 40 pushups with good form*

The molecular structure of complex carbohydrates are more complicated than simple carbohydrates. The body cannot metabolise it as fast as compared to simple carbohydrates. Therefore, they take longer to digest and keep us fuller for longer periods of time.

However, we are stepping into some controversial territory here (Complex starchy = bad VS Complex starchy = good).

Are they as innocent as they look?

This is what Jonny Bowden has to say:

I had this argument with Dr. John McDougall of vegetarian-diet fame, and I told him that the body “sees” a bolus of white potatoes exactly as it “sees” a big gob of sugar. He argued that was nonsense, and I argued that he needs to go back to biochemistry class.

Basically, Jonny is saying that complex carbohydrates like potatoes are the equivalent of table sugar – it breaks down and enter the bloodstream just as fast.

This means the overconsumption of certain complex carbohydrates (especially from dubious sources i.e fries) may actually equally jeopardise one’s health as sugar would.

Simple Carbohydrate (sugar)

Pinpointed as one of the major culprits responsible for the rapid rise in global obesity rates. (WHO predicts at least 300 million adults in the world are clinically obese) In certain places like Huntington, 1 in every 4 person on the street is obese.

However, that does not change the fact that we still love sugar. If not why are your eyes pinned to the picture below?

Our love for sugar can be attributed to human evolution.

In the past, when our caveman ancestors were hungry, they had to hunt for food or gather herbs and fruits to eat. Back then, they never had the convenience of having McDonald’s delivered to their dinner table. As such, they were probably always hungry and in need of energy. Thus, whenever they consumed something sweet, they discovered they would feel more energetic and alert. To remember this property of sugar, they relied on the distinct sweet taste.

Sugar - That's what you are actually eating.

Hence, the modern addiction to sugar.

Sugar comes in many forms including:

  1. molasses
  2. brown sugar
  3. honey
  4. maple syrup
  5. glucose
  6. fructose
  7. brown rice syrup
  8. high corn fructose syrup (HFCS)
  9. dextrose
  10. maltodextrin

Yep, that many.

And as illustrated many times above, blood sugar (glucose) is elevated after we digest a meal. Insulin is secreted prompting our body to shuttle these sugar into our organs (liver) or body cells (muscles and fats) where they are stored either as glycogen or triglycerides (fats), waiting to be mobilised/used up during physical activity.

But the important takeaway here is this

Not all sugar is equal. Some sugar is healthier than others.

You heard me right. I would love to explain more but I want to get to the healthy pyramid diet part (We’ve wait long enough!). I will talk about sugar in a more in-depth post soon.

Singapore Healthy Pyramid

Revisiting Carbohydrate’s role In the context of a Healthy Pyramid Diet:

So why do carbohydrates occupy the biggest space in the Singapore Healthy Pyramid Diet?

Want to find out? Then check this blog out tomorrow, when I’ll be editing it.

Till then, stay healthy

sgfitnessblog

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Posted in Carbohydrate, Diet, eating well, glycemic index, healthy pyramid diet, Nutrition, Sugar, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Pyramid Diet Part 2

In the previous post, I talked about the usual mindset and perception people have when they think of a healthy diet, using the healthy pyramid diet as an example.   

I ended the previous post asking:   

“Are all meat bad? (Are sausages the same as organic chicken breast?)”   

Using a cow as an example. (Most poultry like chickens are equally applicable)   

If I were to feed it with something other than its natural diet such as corn or grains, pump it with steroids to promote its growth and inject it with antibiotics to reduce infection (which results because of its unnatural diet) and eventually slaughter it, will the quality and source of the beef (or meat) derived from its carcass be the same as that of a healthy cow or animal that munches on grass (or insects/worms) and roams freely in the meadows?   

Followed by which, if I were to take the remains of its carcass (lips, butt, bone, bone marrow and other factory reject cuts), put it through a grinder and mix it thoroughly with a whole lot of additives, preservatives, colourings and flavourings, would you eat it?   

No, you would not. (Of course not all patties/nuggets are made like this but they all follow the same process)   

Fast forward to 4:30 and witness the epic moment when a bunch of children prove you (and Jamie Oliver) wrong.   

But if I deep fry it in cooking oil (probably used to fry countless batches of food before it) till the skin turns golden brown and crispy and the insides, fragrant and juicy, you would?   

And you would gladly pay 6 dollars for it to go with your coke and of course, fries – can’t live without it.   

There you have it - What kids think their Beef patties come from

 

I’m lovin it.   

This is the truth.   

What you are eating now (especially so if you are eating something from a package/pre-sealed bag, has more than four ingredients and can be eaten with your fingers) while reading this blog is probably not food at all. Travel a century back and show your great grandmother the juicy nugget or cocoa puffs you are eating and see what she says.   

She’ll probably keel over and faint – god bless her lovely heart, her diet is too rich in heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids for it to stop beating.   

Michael Pollan, an American author, journalist, activist and author of ‘In Defense of Food’ is fond of saying:   

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.   

Sure, you may think “Of course I eat food. What the hell is he saying?”   

But are you really?   

Oven heated ready-to-eat pizzas do not qualify as food. Same goes for those chocolate cookies you munched on for a late afternoon snack. Hell, even the devil (serpent) has a cleaner diet than most of us. You don’t see him passing Eve   

For those who think Dunkin' Donuts qualify as food

 

a pack of sugary doughnuts do you?   

That is exactly what Michael Pollan is trying to convey to us, through his book. An excerpt from a review on ‘In Defense of Food’.   

Because most of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it — in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone — is not really eating. Instead of food, we’re consuming “edible foodlike substances” — no longer the products of nature but of food science.   

   

 If I did not think the paragraphs above are important, I would not have bothered to write them out but instead jumped straight into the juicy nitty gritty bits of diet analysis.    

Nevertheless, it is important we are all clear on this:   

Anyone who invests ¼ or more of his pocket money or food budget in junk food eating needs to change diet. Fast.   

The whole point of me showing you the video and explaining what actually goes into the food you eat is so that you can understand:   

The source (and as a result, quality) of a nutrient is often more important than the quantity consumed.   

I would rather you eat 10 apples then eat a bag of Potato chips. Go ahead, ask why.   

Once broken down and absorbed, the body doesn’t necessarily recognise the difference between the gluccose (sugar) derived from an apple or from a coke. Nor is it able to differentiate  protein sourced from whey or ham.   

However, this does not mean that the quality of the food we is unimportant for our health, performance and body composition.   

The higher the food quality, the better the physiological response will be during the digestive, absorptive and nutrient delivery process.   

What this means is that the quality of food you eat has a direct impact on the amount of nutrients entering your body and how your body respond to them.   

In this case, the potato chips are loaded with salt (which causes the blood pressure to skyrocket), sugar (which causes the blood sugar level to fluctuate temporarily and may create insulin resistance) and trans fats which is extremely toxic to the human body because we are unable to metabolise it and it has been linked to increased incidences of cardiovascular diseases.   

You must eat 10 of this apples to get the same number of calories from potato chips

 

Lets do a comparison:   

Serving size: 1 pack of chips amounts to 198g. 2 small apples amount to 200g. This will be our basis for comparison: Which shall see which is more nutrient dense (contains the most nutrients per unit weight)   

For each serving size (200g):   

  1. The number of calories from potato chips is 972, (quite close to 1000)
  2. The number of calories from apples comes to 200.
  3. That is 20% of of what is found in potato chips.
  1. You get 64g of fat from chips (3/4 of it is transfats, a toxic kind of fat)
  2. You get 0g of fat from apples.
  3. Do I even need to say anything?
  1. You get 1485mg of sodium from potato chips
  2. You get 0g from apples

I do not know whether what I have illustrated above is clear enough to prove my point. Some may remark that what I am doing is unfair; By comparing a healthy food (apple) to a junk food (chips), it is as such as putting Small Billy from 6th grade with Brock Lesnar in the Nutrition version of the UFC Octagon.   

However, other than stressing upon you the evils of junk food, I also wish you realise this as well.   

To stay at a constant weight, our caloric intake must equal our caloric output. How will you feel after eating 10 apples as compared to eating a a bag of potato chips (200g no less).   

No doubt, you’ll be freaking bloated like a balloon if you took the former approach. If you tried the latter, you’ll probably feel slightly sick and notice some weight gain.   

Hence, what does this demonstrate? Healthier food are usually more nutrient dense (contains more nutrients per unit weight) than junk food but health food are also less caloric dense (contains less calories per unit weight) than junk food.   

In other words, healthy food (fruits, vegetables) makes you full faster (because they are usually larger in volume), but gives you less calories (allowing you to eat more) but yet provides the most nutrients and minerals than any kind of processed food.   

How great is that? Imagine if everyone were to trade a craving of potato chips for apples. I predict (modestly) that obesity rates will plummet, worldwide. It is one simple fact that we overlooked. I will resummarise everything said again.   

1g of a nutrient (say maybe carbohydrate) from an apple is the same as 1g of said nutrient from a potato chip. However, the substances that accompany this 1g of nutrient are vastly different when comparing both cases. Our body response can be dramatically different in this two scenarios.   

One causes our blood sugar and pressure level to soar, not taking into account, the long term effects of weight gain and possible consequences of trans fat intake.   

The other increases our satiety, makes us fuller and provides us with sustainable energy throughout the day.   

Make your choice.   

—   

But of course, the latter would not have you hogging the whole toilet to yourself just because your gastrointestinal tract (gut) suddenly became so active.   

Apples + Chips = Apple Chip (get it?)

 

Once you understand the above (not the apples and chips joke please), we can move on.   

note: The intention of this post is not to put down others and creating this infallible impression of me – that I am never guilty of eating unhealthy snacks and always shun fast food outlets like reruns of Lost season 1. I do give in, especially when the occasion calls for it, the whole family dropping in Carl’s Jr. for a celebration.    

But I haven’t bought a pack of potato chips in years and I never plan to ever again.   

So if I eat all my food from natural sources, I can and am allowed to eat any given amount?   

I wish I can give a clear cut answer for every question but there are always the 5 wives and 1 husband (Who, Why, When, Where, What and the adulterous but greatly envied How)   

What you need to eat (that means what your body requires for optimum function and performance) generally depend on the following factors:   

1) Body type and genes (Are you a mesomorph, endomorph or ectomorph? You can and mostly are a combination of two types)
2) Activity level (Sedentary/Active) and type of activity (Professional athlete/weekend warrior or computer programmer – guess who’s the ripped guy)
3) Culture and religion (Buddhists generally do not eat beef, Muslims stay away from pork)   

I will only address number 2 in this post. Part 1 will be covered more extensively in future posts.   

So you exercise. Cool. What is your workout routine like? Oh, so you try to hit the gym at least twice a week and jog for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Great. I see you are making a concerted effort to stay fit. (even though I don’t agree with this kind of fitness routine – but I digress – more to be said later on)   

Because you consider yourself active, you feel the need to supply your body with more energy via eating more rice and pasta (carbo loading they say) and you avoid eating fat unnecessarily to maintain your well earned six packs.   

I get it. You want to look good naked, but there is a better way. Read on for the next post where I will lay out my opinion on carbohydrate – how/when/why/what/which to eat?   

Don’t go silly on me and start asking where can you eat I mean, there is a reason why google exists right? Don’t expect me to keep spoon-feeding you.   

I will then follow it up with a separate post on protein and fat each before writing another entry to explain my frustration and dissatisfaction with the healthy pyramid diet. I believe this is the only way I can do justice to my readers (and myself) by explaining my stand as clearly as possible. Besides, this is the way I like to write – series of related posts which conjoin smoothly to form the big picture.   

Till the next post then (will be up real soon!)   

Stay healthy,   

sgfitnessblog   

—   

***Here’s an interesting point to look out for in the next post; If you were left stranded and marooned in NOCARBOHYDRATE island, you probably would not die even if your dietary carbohydrate intake is zero.   

Carbohydrates are not essential nutrients in humans: the body can obtain all its energy from protein and fats…   

Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbohydrate   

But I can promise you most people who follow this diet will just wilt like those Atkin fanatics. I am willing to bet my imaginary dog (and best friend), Jacob, three gold hair strands from my scalp (plucked when I turned 13) and my beloved lego collection. (consisting only of the red 4 X 4 blocks – I parade them around the house every Sunday at 4pm except on public holidays. Toys need to rest. Same goes for my brain – I was going to write a load of crap.)   

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Posted in Diet, eating well, fast food, healthy pyramid diet, Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment