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Food, Glorious Food

By on November 1, 2008
RoadKing Mag

Now that the Road King To Your Health column is off and running in the last few issues, truckers have been responding positively to it and writing for information.

Many asked about magic weight loss pills and miracle diets.

Do they work? If they did, there would be fewer overweight people in America. Weight loss pills, and most diets for that matter, are both ineffective and potentially harmful; long-term health-oriented programs are the only truly effective way to lose weight and keep it off.

The average male requires an intake of 2,000 calories per day and females require 1,500 calories per day. This should be your target even if you are significantly overweight. If you lower your caloric intake below the minimum recommended levels, your body will eventually adapt to living on fewer calories, and you will cease to lose weight. Even worse, when you return to a normal pattern of eating again, the lower metabolic rate will result in rapid weight gain. This is the well-known yo-yo effect of dieting that frustrates so many people who go from one “miracle” diet to the next.

Another problem with eating too little — whether by skipping meals or starving your body on low-calorie diets — is that you lose too much muscle along with the fat in the weight loss process. Muscle determines the overall metabolic rate of the body, so if muscle is lost, the metabolic rate will be reduced and you will burn fewer calories than before your diet. A low level of lean muscle tissue will also lead to a feeling of fatigue.

Is it true that fast weight loss can be achieved? Yes, but it is unhealthy and will not deliver long-term results. Only a lifestyle change that includes regular exercise, a sensible approach to healthy eating and the right mental attitude can do that.

Following a meal plan based on good nutrition will help you naturally lose weight, provided you don’t overeat. The single most useful piece of wisdom is common sense. You know what foods are healthy and unhealthy. Follow your inner voice!  

What to Eat
Make protein part of your meals, choosing lean beef (sirloin, round, flank), chicken breast, turkey breast, fish or eggs (preferably boiled).

Choose non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, lettuce (note: iceberg is not a good source of vitamins/minerals), onions, peppers, spinach, string beans and squash (summer varieties only).

Choose fresh fruits over dried or canned varieties. They are great for on- the-road snacking. Go for apples, melons, cherries, grapes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, plums, raspberries and strawberries.

And yes, you want to include carbohydrates — the starchy kind. Think brown rice, potatoes with skins on, yams and sweet potatoes, beans (lima and kidney), oatmeal (rolled oats) and cream of rice.

What to Drink
Drink plenty of water daily. You should be drinking at least 0.66 x body weight, in ounces per day. So, if you’re a 180 lb male, that’s nearly 7.5 lb of water, or 3.4 liters. Lack of water lowers energy level. Severe dehydration is dangerous. So when exercising or in hot conditions, drink more water than is recommended above. Often people confuse hunger with dehydration. Next time you think you are hungry in between meals, drink a few glasses of water. It helps!

Food preparation
Do not eat fried foods if possible. Broiling, grilling, steaming and baking foods allows excess fat to drain while cooking. Frying adds significant amounts of fat.

Trim fat from meat, and remove skin from poultry. Avoid real mayonnaise and heavy dressing. Try mustard and light dressing like vinaigrettes, Italian, etc.

Eat vegetables raw or steamed. (I understand that many folks cannot digest raw vegetables.) Steaming allows you to control the crispness or “crunchiness” of the vegetables. Overcooking vegetables destroys vitamins.

Stew Smith, former Navy SEAL, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

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