4 Min Read
The Fearsome Three Types of Food That Destroy Body Composition
You see the same guys at the gym every day, so you know they work out. One guy is constantly at the weight rack but is still a bit pudgy. Another seems to live on the treadmill, but he's gaunt and looks kind of sickly. Why do these two supposedly healthy men appear so unfit?
The difference is their body composition. The two men have vastly different amounts of fat, bone, muscle, and water. The weightlifter has a high percentage of fat mass, and the runner has a low muscle mass. For ideal health, a person should lose fat mass while gaining lean muscle mass.
In many people, body composition has little to do with weight and is more likely a metabolic imbalance. These metabolic risk factors often result in a guy who's thin on the outside and fat on the inside. Referred to as normal weight obesity, it can be dangerous because most people in this condition consider themselves healthy.
Building a better body
Body composition has as much to do with diet as it does hitting the gym. It's not just what you eat; it's how much and when you eat. Piles of research point to the following eating habits as the best methods for improving body composition.
The old calories in, calories out method of weight loss isn't entirely true. Every calorie is not the same, and your body processes them differently. A hundred calories from a steak are considerably better for you than from a Coca-Cola. Therefore, caloric reductions can get complicated.
According to studies, reducing your caloric intake does result in a loss of fat mass. However, long-term studies also show that caloric restriction is unsustainable. If a person only counts calories and disregards their source, they are doomed to fail.
If your goal is to eat fewer calories, eat more protein. Protein is your best source of both calories and amino acids. Most people will improve their lean muscle mass by ensuring they get approximately 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. For your best results, combine this protein intake with weight or endurance training.
Decreasing your carbohydrate intake is vital to improving body composition. Although many people consider a low carb or keto diet a fad, the research overwhelmingly proves a low carb diet significantly reduces abdominal fat.
One such study shows low-carb dieters lost 22.8% of their abdominal fat, compared to a mere 1% loss in low-fat dieters. Another study documents low-carb dieters reducing intra-abdominal fat by 11% while, once again, low-fat eaters only achieved 1% loss.
Time-restricted eating or alternate-day fasting reduces fat mass with a minimal loss of muscle mass. If you exceed the 36-hour mark in a fast, muscle mass deterioration begins. Intermittent fasting helps reduce caloric intake and reset the metabolic process.
For a more detailed look at intermittent fasting, check out this article from the Naked Truth blog.
Avoid the fearsome three
Remember when we said it's what, when, and how much you eat that determines body composition? Well, what you don't eat is just as important. These three types of food wreak havoc on your body composition:
1. Processed foods
These are foods made in a factory and not from a farm. They're the centers of grocery stores where all the cookies, crackers, and chips live. Fast food is also processed, and all these delicious items have a few things in common; scientists engineer them to be high in fat and carbs, have little nutritional value, and not satisfy hunger, so you eat more of them.
Since we're on the subject of little to no nutritional value, sugar stimulates the reward center of your brain, making it as addictive as cocaine. Food companies add sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, and it's many evil variations to keep you coming back for more. Sugar is a cheap ingredient and likely responsible for most of the chronic diseases currently plaguing humanity.
Most people consider the effects of alcohol to be relatively harmless if consumed in moderation, but that's what makes it dangerous. Once again, alcohol is calories without nutrition and also inhibits self-control. Even a low dose of alcohol affects your brain, kidneys, liver, pancreas, skin, heart, and digestive system.
The fearsome three have a common denominator - they're toxic to humans. If you get your food from a plastic wrapper or cardboard box, through a window, or sitting on a barstool, you're slowly poisoning your body. Sure it tastes and makes you feel good momentarily, but the long-term effects can be devastating.
Eat better, live better
Improve your body composition and your life by simply considering what you put in your mouth. Food is the fuel your body needs to live. How many times have you exited a convenience store with a bag of chips and an "energy" drink, or burrito and six-pack while premium gas pumps into the tank of your car? Think about that for a while.
If you want your body to perform at its best, give it the best fuel possible.
Anther. Wellness where you need it most.