Nutrition Talk (as of today)

Nutrition is a complicated subject.  At least for me it is.  The reason I find it complicated is because the information seems to be ever-changing.  One day eggs are “bad” with all their artery-clogging cholesterol.  The next day eggs are “good” with all their muscle-boosting protein.  It gets confusing, and complicated, to try to eat right.

Add to that back-and-forth nonsense all the fad diets that encourage people to cut out entire food groups because they are “bad” (with research backing that claim up, no less)…now you have a serious dilemma when trying to eat healthy.

Of course there are a few areas in which every “expert” seems to agree…trans fats (hydrogenated oils) are bad, excess processed foods with added sugars are bad, and too many calories per day is bad.  All across the board these are accepted to be true.  I suppose those few commonalities are supposed to make us (consumers) feel better about eating.  Well, those rare agreements between “experts” do not make me feel any better.  Not one bit.

Another aspect of nutrition that makes it more complicated for the consumer is language.  When manufacturers were required to label their products with nutrition information and ingredient lists, the language changed.  Sugar was no longer just called “sugar” in most products.  Instead “sugar” became corn syrup or lactose, which deceived consumers into purchasing something they maybe would not have if they knew it was added sugar.

The following are random tidbits I have picked up over the course of the last eight and a half months.  (I am not a nutritionist, nor do I claim to be any sort of expert on this subject.  Additionally, what information is included below is likely to change within a few months/years.)

Sugar is also known as:
barley malt, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice invert syrup, fructose, fruit juice, galactose, glucose, granular fruit grape juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltodextrin, maple syrup, molasses, organic cane juice, sorghum, sucrose, and turbinado (this list is courtesy of WH Big Book of Exercises).

Nutrition “Secrets:”
1. The healthiest foods you probably are avoiding are: pork chops, mushrooms, red-pepper flakes, full-fat cheese, iceberg lettuce, scallops, vinegar, and chicken thighs.
2. Fatty foods you should eat (without guilt) are: meat with flavor (such as bacon, rib eye, dark meat chicken, and ham), whole milk, butter (not margarine), full-fat sour cream, coconut, chicken skin, and eggs.
3. Saturated fat is *not* a nutritional villain.  In fact, most types of saturated fat (there are over 13 types) have a positive effect on cholesterol (and some do not have any effect on cholesterol at all).  This, of course, means that the consumption of saturated fat is in *no way* linked to heart disease risk.
4. Foods that you think are healthy (but probably are not): yogurt with fruit on the bottom (added sugar), baked beans (enough sugar added to equal an 8-oz soft drink), california roll (two main ingredients are white rice and imitation crab), fat-free salad dressing (added sugar), reduced-fat peanut butter (added icing sugar), corn oil (high content of omega-6 relative to omega-3 has been linked to an increase in risk of cancer, arthritis, and obesity).
Info pulled from WH Big Book of Exercises.

The number one problem with my current diet is probably my ratio of carbs to protein.  I will be honest, I am not big on counting calories and I am not big on calculating how much of each nutrient I am consuming each day.  This is about to change, though.  First of all, my weight loss has slowed tremendously.  I think that can be attributed to many factors, one of them being my diet.  It has worked for me up to this point (eight and a half months).  However, now that my activity level is *way* up and the level of intensity is also *way* up, I think it is time to re-evaluate things.

The nutritionist I met with a couple months ago recommended I eat 85 to 90 grams of protein each day, which I easily manage.  However, this book recommends “1 gram of protein per pound of desired body weight.”  That would actually bring me to 180 to 185 grams of protein per day.  They also mention that sometimes that is just too much protein for a person to consume, but say that 125 grams should be considered the minimum requirement.  Maybe if I were consuming that extra 40+ grams of protein my muscles would be recovering more quickly.  When I work really hard (which is majority of the time I am in the gym, of course), that muscle group will be sore for 3 to 5 days.  Absurd.  I want to get back to an alternating schedule of working muscle groups, but I need the muscles to recover much more quickly to make that happen.

All of this seems unnecessarily complicated (in my opinion).  I wish things were much more cut-and-dry.  Conflicting information is everywhere and most of it is “backed by research that proves its validity.”  Ridiculous.

How do you figure out what you should and should not eat?  Are you following a specific dietary “plan?”  Do you calculate daily nutritional content (if so, how?)?



18 responses to “Nutrition Talk (as of today)

  1. Yes, it IS complicated. I ignore most of the food fads for what they are. My biggest no-no is sugar (and all those other things you’ve named along side it). I also try to eat very little of the white carbs that are only a breath away from sugar – white potatoes, white rice, white pasta. And I’m an unabashed carnivore! I do try to keep the red meats to a reasonably low level and I try to keep away from processed meats – and processed foods in general. Then, I go out and enjoy food! There are still a ton of things to feast on! Good luck with your food management 🙂

    • I, too, have cut out all white carbs and switched to 100% whole wheat. I have noticed that I am full much longer and rarely feel like I am starving. I often had that “starving” feeling before I switched…it was that roller coaster effect of high insulin/low sugar caused by the consumption of those white carbs. Thank goodness that is over!

      I will admit I rarely (if ever) eat red meat. Truth be told, I probably consume red meat less than six times a year. My main protein sources are chicken, fish/tuna, beans, and nuts (with some cheese thrown in for good measure, of course).

      I agree with you that there are still *tons* of great things to eat without all the high-sugar processed foods. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. WOW! The Nutrition “Secrets” just blew my mind. I have so many questions now after reading that. But, to answer your question, I am NOT currently counting calories, proteins, fats, etc. I am extremely overweight and have just started to make lifestyle changes. I’m starting out slow so I do not become overwhelmed and give up, yet again. I’ve added the exercise. I’m going every day alternating between just cardio and cardio with weights. I’m also changing how I was eat. Maybe I’m making the wrong changes now… but so far it seems to be working for me. I’m avoiding soft drinks, reducing red meat & eggs (cholesterol is a bit high) and switched to whole wheat bread. If I have a salad I do use regular salad dressing, just dip my fork into it instead of putting it directly onto the lettuce. I do use much less this way. I’m going to adjust to this and then examine things more closely. I’m also going to check out the book your quoting from! Thank you.

    • The book is *excellent* – seriously. Not only does it have hundreds of various exercises to keep your workout life interesting, but it has all sorts of other pertinent information (such as the nutrition information and diet recommendations). My trainer bought the book before I did and brought it to the gym one weekend. After flipping through it for just a couple minutes I told her I was just going to go buy it. That next day it was mine. 🙂 I often flip through for inspiration and innovative ways to add to my workouts.

      It does take time to find a good dietary balance…especially because you pretty much have to pick and choose what nutritional information is relevant to you. If you really love eggs, though, they are not considered a “bad” food any longer. The book documents that and gives even more information than I provided above.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. I know EXACTLY how you feel!! I have been struggling with the same confusing, conflicting information myself. So I’ve decided to just throw caution to the wind and listen to my body instead of all the diet and nutrition experts. I mean, we already know what’s good for us and what’s bad for us. Real food: good. Fake food: bad. Portions, portions, portions.

    Ever since I stopped trying to follow someone else’s idea of the perfect diet, I haven’t really craved junk or even eaten that much fake food. I realized that I already WANT to eat full-fat dairy, meat, lots of fresh veggies, minimal fruit, healthy fats and limited starchy carbs (except when it’s that TOM and all the rules go out the window for a few days 🙂 ). It’s the wildest thing. But I’m going with it. Sure, I still have slip ups and eat not-so-great stuff every now and again, but not like I used to when I was telling myself that I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) eat it. Now that I’ve eliminated the “forbidden” label from those foods, I don’t really want them that much. Weird.

    I think you should do what feels right for you. Don’t stress about what other people say. Eat foods that make you feel good and that you actually like to eat. This is a lifestyle change, so it should be something you can do for the rest of your life, you know?

    • I completely agree with you, Tammy! Every change I have made up to this point is something that I feel great about (and that I will be comfortable with forever). That is definitely the key!

      The only reason I am considering another revision at this point is because I can tell something is off. My body is definitely trying to send me a message, and I am just trying to listen. My body is not recovering as quickly as it once was…my muscles are staying sore much longer after working them. Also I find I am feeling “tired” much more quickly during workouts.

      Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot that really begs to be changed in my current eating habits. So, I am going to start with increasing my daily protein intake and see where that leads. If that does not help then I guess I will see about something else. Again, I just wish it were so much more clear.


  4. All the calculations required leave me with my hands up in the air. Result? I do not count calories and create ratios on my plate. Instead I eat what I know is good for me, try to avoid too much refined foods, cook my meals from scratch, and try to eat the way my grandmother did (who lived at a healthy weight to the age of 90). Nutritionism has become too much like a science and detracts, I believe, from the enjoyment of eating.

    • I completely agree, Colline! We (as a society) have become so overwhelmed with “bad” and “good” foods that it is nearly impossible to just sit down and actually *enjoy* eating. I have never liked counting calories. I always get caught up in the numbers and end up just stressing myself out trying to either reach a number or stay below it. The whole thing just makes me want to dive into some ice cream and shut out the whole bit! So, knowing that about myself from the very beginning (July), I just decided I was not going to do that to myself again. Surprisingly enough, it is working. I have not counted calories since then and the weight is coming off. Of course, that does not mean that I have not watched what I was eating or made changes. I certainly have, I just do not allow myself to get carried away with numbers. I have learned to listen to my body and its signals of hunger (real hunger). This has helped me *far* more than counting calories ever has!


      • Keep up the good work Erica – eating this way will ensure that once you reach your goal you will not start eating badly again as you will be accustomed to thinking about what you eat.

      • Thanks again, Colline! It is absolutely crazy to think I am so close to my original goal weight…already. I am only 37.2 pounds away from my initial goal weight…in only 38 weeks. When I started I had 130 pounds to lose! I always thought this could not be done…it was an impossible task. Of course, my view of weight loss has *certainly* changed dramatically since. 😉 That realization is what is really driving me now to want to help other people who feel as lost/hopeless as I once did. This journey has changed me/my life far more than I ever anticipated!


  5. I can tell a real difference in my day when I eat a “big” protein breakfast, where big = 25-30 grams of protein. I also try to eat some protein within 30 minutes of finishing a workout. Usually, that’s cheese or Greek yogurt (2% Fage). I really am a protein hound, and do better when I get my numbers up for the day, which means eating eggs, Greek yogurt, and plenty of meat.

    • I have increased my egg intake specifically within the last week. I have also jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon (feels so nice to be in the “in crowd” for once – LOL). The biggest difference I have noticed is that my muscles seem less sore, which is a great thing (of course). The past couple weeks physical therapy was killing my legs (I mean terribly). My legs were sore for three or four days (which means it was time to go back to therapy). Being that sore for that long meant I could not work my legs outside of therapy. That was stinky! This week, though, was different. Monday they killed my legs, but I was ready for a leg workout just last night (yeah me!). Thank goodness for that!


  6. Thanks for all of the helpful tidbits, Erica. I’ll keep this in mind as I progress on my journey. You might be interested in how my diet has changed. Hint: I’m not counting calories, grams, or carbs. And I’m still losing an average of 2 pounds per week. It’s at Keep us posted! Shelby

    • Hi Shelby!
      You’re very welcome! Every little piece of information can be helpful…and what works for some of us is not necessarily the best path for the rest of us. I think it is important to take into consideration things that others have tried (and either succeeded or failed with) – it helps all of us in the long run. 🙂

      Thanks so much!

  7. I’m also frustrated by the conflicting information out there. I pretty much follow the south beach diet. It is what some consider a low carb plan but it really isn’t. It IS a “good” carb plan. I don’t count anything. I make an effort to eat veggies (which I’d probably never choose to eat) and lean protein (which I’d typically not eat, choosing some carb instead). I limit my grains because I struggle to eat them in moderation.

    • I have certainly become *much* better at controlling portions since July. That had to be my *largest* obstacle to overcome. It seems like less work to me now, though, because I have started doing that naturally (instead of really having to think about how much I am putting on my plate). I started cooking less, in general, so that seconds, thirds, etc. were really not an option. That helps tremendously.

      I have not looked at the South Beach diet at all, honestly. Are you restricted in any way (such as “NO” grains/carbs)? I do not like diets that say absolutely NO _______. I feel like I *have* to break the rules. LOL – What does that say about me? 🙂


  8. It’s only complicated if you make it. These days, I keep it simple and it works. It took me weeks to pare down my diet and wean myself off junk, and I got the shakes, the trembles, and the night sweats – I think I was seriously addicted in a bad way. But now I’m eating clean, feel terrific and when a horrible flu went around a couple of weeks ago, our family were the only four people I know who didn’t get it (they all eat the same way now). Yes, my 7 year old and 5 year old also eat this way – and they like it!

    – RULE NO 1: Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce, that sound like they come from a factory or a science quiz. We’re not robots, we’re people. We’re meant to eat food, not numbers.

    – Don’t eat anything with a “nutritional info” panel on it. Everything with that panel is processed, which means I don’t want to eat it.

    – Don’t eat anything with health claims. If it says it’s “low in fat” chances are it’s high in sugar. Don’t eat anything from a fast food outlet. Don’t eat instant meals. Don’t eat ready-made *anything*.

    – Drink water. Water = good. Anything else = garbage. Milk = for babies (I don’t drink it, or eat dairy).

    – Eat real food. Mostly veggies, with a few fruits thrown in. A few raw nuts here and there (3 or 4 nuts a day, no more, any type). We eat meat once a week (on weekends, real cuts of home grown lamb), and I eat an egg maybe once every 2-3 days when I feel like it. Sometimes I’ll get fish from a friend who has caught it, or the local green lipped mussels, and eat that, but I won’t eat farmed fish.

    – Re protein. I’m doing serious bodybuilding and seem to be having no problems building MASSES of muscle (I’m 5’11”) on that much protein (meat once a week, couple eggs a week) – so I reckon all that “you need lots of protein” stuff is a load of BS. Besides, every food – even lettuce – has protein. I don’t know anyone who ever suffered from a protein deficiency – do you? I bet you don’t, and I bet no-one reading your blog does either. Excess protein will trash your bones and kidneys, BTW, not good.

    – Nutrition isn’t rocket science. Companies that sell junk food would like us to think it’s tricky, but it isn’t. Just eating a mix of fresh food will keep you healthy. People only get sick and fat when they eat packaged food, and processed junk.

    Yeah, that’s about it from my view really. Yummy whole food. Mmmmmm…and now I feel like I might go eat some veggie sticks..:)

    • So, am I to assume you never eat pasta of any kind? That would make me seriously bummed out (and likely to “cheat”). I *love* pasta. Although, I have cut down how often we eat it…maybe twice a month at this point. But, I have to admit, the thought of *never* eating it again freaks me out a little. Maybe I’m crazy. 🙂

      If you would not mind to share with me a “typical” weekly menu of yours, I would *love* to look it over. My daughters are 4 and 7, which can make my life a little complicated when trying new dishes (especially veggie dishes). My 4-year-old is *much* more “experimental” than my 7-year-old, though. If you have time:

      Thanks *so* much!

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