Author: Tad Inoue
As a professional diet coach, the most popular question I am asked is “what is the best food for me to eat to lose weight?” While this is an impossible question to give a quick answer to, it is a question that speaks to one of the most important aspects of your diet, quality. In order to determine quality in your diet, you will have to ask yourself two basic questions: What function do I need from my food? And how do I need energy and protein delivered? The answers to these questions will enable you to determine the quality of your foods.
Not all foods are equal in their function and in their delivery into your system. And it is function and delivery that define the quality of your food. In order to give your body what it needs and accomplish your body goals, you will first have to accurately determine the function of each food that you eat. Selecting the foods with the right function should be based on your lifestyle, level of physical activities, genetic predispositions, and most importantly, your own body goals. There are a few general rules that will help you determine the function of each food.
Most foods you eat will fall into one or more of these three categories of function: (1) energy production, (2) roughage, and (3) tissue repair and building. Most foods that are not processed will typically fall into only one of these categories, but sometimes food can share more than one function. For example, green beans have a limited energy production function, but also have a roughage function. On the other hand, all flesh products such as fish, poultry, or beef always fall into one function, tissue repair and building.
If you have a high level of activity in your day, you will need a higher amount of energy producing foods, rich in complex carbohydrates, like rice, potatoes or whole grains in order to fuel your activities. However, if you are trying to lose body fat, then you may have to curtail much of your carbohydrate intake because your body will prefer to burn this clean source of fuel instead of freeing up your own body fat for fuel. Also, if you are trying to build muscle and recover from intense workouts, you will need to eat foods high in protein to help synthesize and rebuild tissue. In order to figure out a food’s basic function, you must also look at its macronutrient profile and its fiber content.
Carbohydrates are always tied to energy production, complete proteins are always tied to tissue repair and building, and fiber is always tied to roughage. Most foods will have trace amounts of all these macronutrients, but each is typically rich in one. The exception to this rule is processed foods like breads or cereals. The function of food can be easily determined once you know each food’s macronutrient profile. Analyzing each food’s macronutrient profile will usually tell you what primary function the food will serve in your diet. However, the quality of any food is always defined by its function, and its nutrient delivery.
All the nutrients in your foods get delivered at various speeds, and it is the speed at which your nutrients get delivered that can have a profound effect on your energy level, recovery, and your overall performance. For example, carbohydrates that are delivered too quickly can cause a strong insulin response and can indirectly stop fat burning and give you unpredictable energy levels if over consumed. On the other hand, if you deliver your nutrients slower and more evenly your energy level will be more predictable.
Nutrient delivery is important because your body will respond to its foods in various ways based on when and how quickly you get each macronutrient. Additionally, protein that is delivered evenly and throughout the day is desired if you want to preserve muscle tissue, but can also be helpful for your energy levels if you are restricting your carbohydrates. Fats however, tend to have a fairly consistent rate of delivery and usually enter the blood stream at an even and slow rate. Knowing some basic rules about foods and their delivery rates can be very helpful in making some decisions on quality in your diet.
Typically, most processed foods like breads or cereals have fast carbohydrate delivery, while foods high in dietary fiber like cruciferous vegetables (for example, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, and celery) and beans deliver energy much
slower. All flesh products like poultry, fish, and lean red meats will usually deliver their protein to your body at a consistent and even rate. And fats will typically enter your system at a slower rate than most carbohydrates and proteins. However, foods do not exist in a vacuum, the quality of your foods are effected by when you eat, and what you eat with them.
Timing: Putting Function and Delivery Together
Combining your foods together will often change the quality of your entire meal. If you eat fats with carbohydrates you will typically slow down delivery. You can also slow down the delivery of carbohydrates if you combine foods high in dietary fiber. However, if you eat fast acting sugars this can speed up delivery of all macronutrients and encourage storage. Depending on your personal body goals, you may want to combine foods in different ways to enhance delivery or slow down delivery.
Finally, the timing of meals can enhance delivery speeds. If you eat carbohydrate rich foods first thing in the morning or directly after intense weight training workouts, you will speed up the delivery of all your nutrients in that meal. In these cases, the speed of delivery is enhanced because of increased insulin levels. During these times in your day, your body will typically have normal insulin spikes that will encourage nutrient storage and help your body recover from low blood sugar or from intense physical activity.
So the quality of the foods in your diet is determined by the function and delivery of each macronutrient. Aligning each food’s function and delivery with your personal body goals can dramatically change the quality of each food in your diet. Putting the elements of quality together in a way that will accomplish your goals can be very difficult.
The first task in constructing a diet with quality in mind is to first know what your dietary goals are. What do you want to accomplish with your diet? Next, you will need to look at the factors that will mediate your diet, such as your physical activity, your genetic heritage, your lean body mass, and your stress levels. Finally, you will need to synthesize all these mediating factors with your personal body goals and put together the kind of quality in your diet that will enable your goals. Unfortunately, quality is only one factor in any dietary equation, but it is one of the most important ones. You will also have to take into consideration the quantity of your nutrients and the frequency in which you deliver your nutrients to your body. While this article isn’t intended to speak to nutrient quantity or frequency, the quality is the best place to start when assessing your own diet and where you may be falling short. After all, quality is king!
Tad Inoue is a professional diet coach for figure and bodybuilding. Tad has over 30 years of experience in the fitness industry as a nutritionist, diet coach, trainer, competitive bodybuilder and coach. For more information on diet coaching with Tad Inoue please go to http://www.TadtheDietCoach.com or email at Tad@Tadthedietcoach.com.
Be sure to Follow Rising Muscle today to receive even more news from the world of bodybuilding & fitness!