Nutrition

What you do in the kitchen is just as important as what you do in the gym. To effectively achieve your fitness goals, proper nutrition is an absolute must!

Can Body Fat Be Too Low?

When it comes to body fat, how low is too low?

When it comes to body fat, how low is too low?

Targeting a lower body fat percentage is a common workout goal. And it’s a great goal to have.

But in the same way that too much of a good thing isn’t good, too little of a bad thing isn’t great either. And the truth is, body fat isn’t entirely bad. It serves many important functions including insulation and serving as an energy source. Your body needs some fat to function properly.

Though these numbers can very slightly from source to source, the following are general guidelines on body fat percentages:

  • Essential fat: 10% – 13% for women, 2% – 5% for men
  • Athletes: 14% – 20% for women, 6% – 13% for men
  • Fitness: 21% – 24% for women, 14% – 17% for men
  • Average: 25% – 31% for women, 18% – 24% for men
  • Obese: 32+% for women, 25+% for men

If you drop below these ranges, you’ll likely experience chronic fatigue, slow workout recovery, nutritional deficiencies, increased risk of infection and so on. For women, low levels of body fat (less than 13% – 17%) result in irregular menstruation. In fact, low body fat levels can even result in infertility.

Believe it or not, some individuals actually have zero percent body fat. It’s a rare and potentially dangerous medical condition in which the body is unable to gain weight. The condition was popularized by Lizzie Velásquez who, because of her striking appearance and the resulting bullying, has given motivation speeches and even a Ted Talk.

While reducing your body fat percentage can be an effective goal, it’s important to be target healthy ranges – and to not take things to an extreme. Having too little fat can be a sign of an eating disorder. In these instances, it’s important to get professional help.

 

 

Lost 40 Pounds In One Month…

Dear Davey,

I’ve struggled with obesity since childhood. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve been paying more attention to my body.

In the last month, I’ve managed to lose 40 pounds by not eating. I know that you need to eat to survive, but I want to continue getting results. What advice do you have?

Thanks,
Jason

Smaller_Plate_Wont_Help_Your_Diet_Research_ShowsHey Jason,

Thanks for the email.

I have to say, you are playing a very dangerous game – and, it’s one that you’ll inevitably lose without a dramatic change in your habits and the guidance of professional help.

Despite all the science that demonstrates otherwise, many people resort to starvation as a weight loss technique. As you’ve discovered, it does yield initial results; if you stop eating, you’ll lose weight. But the problems with this approach are many.

For one, you’re slowing your metabolism. Your metabolism determines how many calories your body burns on a daily basis. Because your body is starving (generally 1,000 calories or less per day), it will do everything it can to reduce its calorie consumption. Eventually, you’ll need to start eating again – and, when you do, your metabolism will lag. With a reduced daily calorie burn, all those extra calories from food will be packed on as fat. The resulting weight gain, in many instances, exceeds the initial weight loss.

No to mention the dramatic impact of nutritional deficiencies.

We also know that diet AND exercise are required for best results. By just practicing one or the other, you’re selling yourself short. Though diet alone can result in weight loss, exercise is required to ensure that the lost weight is mostly fat and not muscle. It takes a lot of energy to maintain muscles – and our bodies are very efficient machines. If you’re not using your muscles during periods of calorie restriction and weight loss, you’ll be quick to lose them.

You mentioned that you’re paying more attention to your body. That’s important. But don’t just pay attention to how your body looks; pay attention to what your body is telling you. If your body is hungry or weak or tired, then listen to these crucial messages – and act on them. Feed your body with the foods it really craves, like a delicious, colorful salad or some lean meats and vegetables. As you fuel your body with nourishing foods, pay attention to how your body feels.

I’d also suggest giving yourself the gift of professional help. It is absolutely worth your time, money and effort to work with a nutritionist, weight loss specialist or healthcare professional. After all, you only get one body. Let’s keep it in a good, working condition.

Love,
Davey

Are Sprouted Grains Healthier?

sprouted grainsWhen it comes to healthy food crazes, it’s not always easy to separate fact from fiction. In recent years, sprouted grains have become increasingly popular – but do sprouted grains represent an actual nutrition advantage over traditional grains? Or is it just marketing hype?

First things first, sprouted grains are seeds that have just started to grow – but that have yet to develop into an actual plant. For this very brief period, the outer bran layer splits open and a young shoot may just be visible. Some sprouted grains can be added directly to foods like salads, while still others are baked into breads, cereals, etc.

Because some of the grain’s starch is used for sprouting, there’s a slightly higher percentage of other nutrients in sprouted grains. However, these differences are relatively small.

There’s also some preliminary evidence that sprouting a grain will improve its bioavailability. That’s just a fancy way to say that some of those nutrients – including minerals like iron and zinc – may be more easily absorbed after sprouting. As such, sprouted grains may be more beneficial especially for developing countries wherein iron and zinc deficiencies are more common.

In addition, some individuals report improved digestion with sprouted grains versus traditional grains. Sprouted beans, for example, may result in less gas or bloating.

The bottom line: Sprouted grains are whole grains. And all of us are better off eating whole grains instead of the refined grains found in white bread, most pastas, etc. But rather than buy into the benefits or hype of just one ingredient, we need to examine the nutritional properties of foods as a whole. I could make a sprouted grain cake… but, sadly, it’s still a cake.

5 Worst Nutrition Tips EVER!

badideaThe only thing more astonishing than the amount of misinformation about nutrition the willingness of people to follow it. Over the years, there’s been no shortage of terrible nutrition advice – and these are some of the biggest offenders.

  1. Don’t eat egg yolks. Why this advice sucks: It’s no secret that eggs are high in cholesterol and that most of the cholesterol is contained in the yolk. But dietary cholesterol tends to have a fairly low impact on the cholesterol levels in blood. Some people with high cholesterol diets have low blood cholesterol and some people with low cholesterol diets have high blood cholesterol. Beyond cholesterol, the yolks are packed with other important nutrients that are essential for your diet. Unless you have high blood cholesterol, eating the egg yolk is a actually nutritional benefit.
  2. Eliminate fat. Why this advice sucks: Decades ago, reduced fat diets and low-fat foods became extremely popular. Unfortunately, much of the low-fat hype and low-fat foods have survived through present day. In reality, fat doesn’t make you fat. Consuming more calories than you burn results in weight gain. Our bodies need healthy, essential fats – like those found in avocados and nuts and extra virgin olive oil. While fats are very calorie dense and should be consumed in moderation, opting for low-fat foods won’t do much to help the cause. In addition, many reduced fat foods are loaded up with sodium or sugar to help replace the favor. And that’s definitely not a good thing.
  3. Don’t eat carbs. Why this advice sucks: Carbohydrates, as it turns out, are crucially important to proper bodily function. Instead of reducing or eliminating all carbohydrates, it’s much wiser to eliminate simple carbs (i.e., sugar, candy, white rice, white bread, etc.) in favor of complex carbs (i.e., brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc.). By eliminating carbohydrates entirely, you won’t have the energy to power through your workout or any other physical activity. In addition, a lack of blood sugar from a low-carb diet can severely slow and limit brain function. Opt for complex carbs.
  4. Don’t eat after 7PM. Why this advice sucks: Science just doesn’t back this claim up. Studies have found that what you eat – and how much of it – is far more important in determining weight gain than meal timing. There’s nothing wrong with eating late at night. If you are eating late at night, pay special attention to what you’re eating. It’s not a green light to mindlessly snack on a bag of chips. Instead, continue to make smart nutritional choices all hours of the day.
  5. Detox your body regularly. Why this advice sucks: Detox diets are a marketing gimmick, plain and simple. Your liver and kidneys detoxify your body naturally. This isn’t accomplished by a packaged juice product that’s devoid of the essential nutrients your body needs. Not only are detox diets unhealthy and counterproductive, but they’re also downright miserable.

What’s the worst piece of nutrition advice that you’ve ever heard? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Is A Raw Diet Healthier?

rawdietI get a lot of questions about raw diets – and if they’re a health alternative or simply over-hyped.

As with most things in the health and fitness world, the answer isn’t cut and dry or black and white. If you’re looking for a simple yes or no, you won’t find it.

It’s accurate to say that there are aspects of a raw diet that are very healthy. Most raw diets are heavily plant-based – and most of us aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. Diets that include plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables are associated with a number of health benefits.

Raw diets also eliminate most processed foods. As such, raw diets tend to have lower amounts of sugar, sodium and trans fats.

It’s also true that some foods are healthier when eaten raw. Heat can destroy some nutrients and reduce the benefits of certain foods. For example, the benefits of extra virgin olive oil are greatly reduced once it’s heated beyond 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, by eating raw foods, you never have to worry about charring meats – and the carcinogens created by that process.

However, not all foods are healthier when consumed raw.

David Katz, M.D., who is director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, notes:

Raw food advocacy ignores the fact that some foods are more nutritious when cooked. The nutrient lycopene makes tomatoes red. It is a potent carotenoid antioxidant, long thought to reduce prostate cancer risk, although that effect per se is in doubt. Lycopene is fat-soluble, and much more “bioavailable” – that is to say, available for absorption and making contributions to our health – when tomatoes are heated in combination with an oil. Tomato sauces with olive oil are ideal, and raise blood lycopene levels far more effectively than eating raw tomatoes.

There’s another reason we cook food. To kill harmful bacteria and thus prevent us from getting sick. Uncooked and unpasteurized foods are more prone to illness; as such, raw diets aren’t recommended for young children, pregnant individuals or the elderly. If you have a weak immune system or chronic illness, then a raw diet probably isn’t a good fit.

Nutritional deficiencies can also become problematic. Protein and calcium, for example, are commonly deficient in raw diets. While it’s possible to get a balanced diet while eating raw, the reality is most people are ill-equipped or lacking the time and effort to formulate a proper nutrition plan.

For most of us, it makes more sense to incorporate those aspects of raw dieting that are healthy and sustainable rather than following the diet fully and completely.

But what do you think? Have you ever tried a raw diet?