Not all Fat is Created Equal.
There are two main types of body fat found in our bodies. Ironically, we tend to focus on subcutaneous body fat, which is the softer fat found beneath the skin. This is the fat that we can grab with our hands or skin-fold calipers. Subcutaneous fat is less damaging as it is superficial (closer to the surface), and is less likely to result in major health issues. Visceral fat is the unseen fat in your body. It is found deeper inside the body, around your internal organs. It’s a harder fat and has been linked directly to chronic diseases like heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and some cancers. Visceral fat hides well beneath the surface, we don’t see it, most people don’t know about it, and it’s the body fat we should actually be more concerned about.
Lucky for our health, visceral fat tends to be targeted first during weight loss. Unlucky for our esthetics, the subcutaneous fat we all see is targeted second.
Wellness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
We’re all wonderfully unique. It needs to be known that fitness doesn’t look like anyone or anything in specific. We all have a “best” version of ourselves, and we can’t ask for any more than that. In this delicious fruit bowl we call life, the three basic body shapes are apple, pear and banana.
Apples – you are identified by the majority of your body fat stored in your mid-section. This puts you at the highest risk of visceral fat accumulation, as well as the health risks associated with that.
Pears – you are identified by an accumulation of subcutaneous fat around the hips, buttocks and thighs. Not to say that you shouldn’t be concerned with visceral fat within your body, you are simply at a lower risk than your friend the apple.
Bananas – you are identified by your long and lean frame. Don’t be fooled with the lack of subcutaneous fat, visceral fat may still exist but hidden deep and unseen on your body.
Where your body carries weight naturally can be a factor in determining a lot of things for you. What doesn’t change is how to work with and manage your body type. Put down the junk food and grab an apple, pear, or banana – and get moving!
So far in our nutrition series we have looked at vegetable intake, protein and dietary fat. Because two of the macronutrients have been covered (protein and fat) that leaves us with the remaining biggie: carbohydrates.
Carbs have received some very bad publicity and have been demonized over the years but they are an essential part of a healthy diet. The key, of course, is to choose quality carbohydrates and either eliminate or reduce the processed, refined choices. Processed foods like packaged cakes, cookies or pastries, fast food, white rice, white bread and the like are the culprits that earn the bad reputation that is given across the board. Our bodies don’t manage these well and the more refined the item is, the worse it is for our health and our waistline. In addition to poor quality, there is also a very good chance that these products have a lot of added sugar which is a highly refined simple carbohydrate.
Many people are not aware that vegetables and fruit are carbs and they are one of the best choices available to us. Choose a rainbow of veggies and many of the fantastic summer fruits. They are full of phytochemicals and antioxidants and a great filler with few calories most of the time.
When choosing other carbohydrates, aim for whole grains and as little processing as possible. Think wild rice as opposed to white or cooked, steel cut oats instead of a packaged breakfast cereal. There are wonderful recipes available to make cooking more interesting and your whole food choices tasty as well as nutritious. Remember that only a quarter of your plate should be starchy (breads, rice, etc) carbs and on another quarter sits your protein source. The remainder will see your veggies filling out your plate, ensuring the best possible meal for you.
Did you know you can make a positive change for the environment through your eating choices? Eating green can be taken to various levels of impact. Here are eight steps you can take to help the earth while also improving your health:
- Eat organic. These foods are produced with significantly less or no chemicals. Not only are you helping your body by eating healthier foods, but you are protecting entire ecosystems (fields, water sources, insects, etc.). Factory farms often have a great deal of waste and some animal meat producers treat the animals in ways that are cruel.
- Eat what you have in your fridge. Food bits in landfills release methane gas, which increases global warming. By eating what’s in the fridge, you save on waste. What you don’t/can’t eat, put into a composte. Try not to over-buy to avoid food spoiling in the fridge.
- Avoid excessive packaging. Purchase foods that come in minimal packaging that leads to unnecessary waste. (Not to mention all the processing and chemicals that may have gone into making the package in the first place.) If you do need to purchase foods that come in packaging, try to grab items in packages you can reuse, like glass jars.
- Buy local. Farmers markets are a fun place to shop and you get the meet the food producers face-to-face. This relationship helps create a sense of responsibility in food producers. Buying local also cuts down on unneeded packaging, processing costs, marketing, shipping, etc.
- Start a garden. Growing your own food is fun, and gets you outside and moving!
- Choose fast reproducing fish. Anchovies and sardines are good examples of fish that reproduce quickly and are healthy to eat.
- Eat raw foods. This helps cut back on electricity costs/gas emissions – depending on your stove.
- Cut back on meat consumption. Raising meat can be rough on the environment. Livestock are responsible for a lot of methane gas in the atmosphere which has a significant impact on global warming. Plus, think of all the land and water required to grow the grain to feed animals and the chemicals used on those grains to keep them weed and insect free.
These are just a few ways you can eat green. Have any ideas of your own? Add your comments and share with us!
Nutrition is a broad topic and there are many, many questions that are regularly asked in regard to food intake. A typical client will ask questions about protein intake, “good” or “bad” carbohydrates, how to eat at restaurants and balancing eating for their training.
All those questions are important and deserve answers that are well thought out and pertinent to each individual. There is not just one eating plan that is perfect for everyone and individualization must occur, depending on a client’s goals.
Each month we will address a new issue around that of nutrition and we will begin with one of the most basic tenets of all: Eat your vegetables! This is one guideline that truly is for everyone and is overlooked far more often that it should be. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that a female between the ages of 19 and 50 eat 7-8 vegetable and fruit servings daily and males should take in 8-10 servings. Ensure that vegetables are on your plate more often than fruit if you’re looking to lose weight.
Choose brightly coloured varieties as often as possible; think Romaine lettuce in lieu of iceberg. Dark hues like purple, deep green, orange and red are terrific carriers of phytochemicals and antioxidants. A serving is a mere half cup cooked or full cup of raw veggies so check out the produce section and load up on those wonderful and healthy veggies today!
An article from EatingWell.com all about ways to cook up some of our old favorite veggies and some of the ones we all wonder how to fix up for dinnertime:
“If you want more fiber, nutrients and antioxidants in your diet—eat more vegetables! We know it’s tough to expand your vegetable vocabulary when you don’t know how to cook unfamiliar varieties, so we’ve compiled this cooking guide for 20 of our favorite vegetables.” Click here to read more.
On such a cold day (-34C), brrrr, here’s a story to warm you up.
Summer 2011 saw the creation of a community garden at Camp Chief Hector YMCA. We have recently added a greenhouse.
Last summer, with the help of campers and counsellors, we grew tomatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, carrots, radishes, herbs and kale.
We built a herb spiral in 2011 to add to the 12 planting plots and the 2012 addition is a small greenhouse for seedlings.
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