In such a health conscious period, it’s hard to decide which fad diet is best for you. But at the end of the day, it’s like what your mom said when you were a child, “Eat your veggies and play outside.” With enough exercise and wholesome food, everyone could help themselves enormously. The problem is that often people do not know how they should measure their food. They wonder what’s more important: fiber or carbs; meat protein or vegetable and dairy protein; Bread or fruit? I could fill the page with similar such questions, but the true answer to all of them is simple: learn about macronutrients, and you can quickly make your body happy. If you take advantage of knowing what a fat, a carbohydrate, and a protein truly is to your body, you will see results very quickly in any diet you try.
Fat is the most misunderstood macronutrient. I know what you’re thinking: fat is bad for you. And it’s practically a sin to say this out loud, but fat is okay, and it is even necessary to eat fats. Here’s a quick technical breakdown of what a fat is to your body and what it does once consumed. Consuming fats causes a mild insulin spike, and when they are digested, they are turned into something called a blood triglyceride. A blood triglyceride is essentially the energy you get from dietary fat. Additionally, when fats and carbs are consumed together, the carbs become more sugary, which if your body does not need, will be stored as fat deposits. However, since we once were animals, our bodies crave fats, and they take the priority when we digest food. For example, suppose you made fried chicken and potatoes. The grease from the chicken and the fat in the butter from the potatoes would be digested first. The practical application of this “fat-science” is to not to eat fats after working out or when your body needs quick nutrients if you want to see the best results. Since fat would be processed first, your body would not be able to rebuild muscles with protein or restore energy that was expelled through carbohydrate consumption because it would be too busy digesting fat during the critical time window where it needs proteins and carbs most. So, if you want to see best results in your diet, consume non-animal, natural fats as snacks in between meals and stay away from foods that are high in both fats and carbs.
Next up to bat is the carbohydrate-the food everyone loves to hate the most. Carbohydrates are found in things like bread, pasta, fruit, and desserts. Carbs cause a larger insulin spike than fats but based on carb source. Carbohydrates are different than other macronutrients because once your body is full of carbs, they turn directly into fat deposits if consumed. The weird part about carbs is that there is no proper number for how many your body needs. My boyfriend can hardly eat carbs because his body reacts to pasta just like it would a Hershey’s bar, but I can eat carbs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and my body won’t directly store them as fat. The trick with carbs is to find them naturally, and add them as a compliment to your meal. Another form of carbs is fiber, which does not cause insulin spikes like starch or sugar-based carbs would. Fiber often comes from enriched products or natural products like vegetables. Fiber is important
because it encourages your body to remove bad things like excess carbohydrates or fats so that they are not absorbed. Additionally, fiber is thermogenic and causes your body to burn calories when it digests it. To ensure you are getting enough fiber, you should have around four servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
Last but not least of the food-based macronutrients is protein. Proteins are essential to your body for rebuilding tissue and come in two forms: slow proteins and fast proteins. Slow proteins are absorbed for hours after consumption and generally come from animals. Fast proteins are used immediately by your body and are great for restoring your body quickly. Fast proteins mostly come from dairy and plants. Proteins do best when they are consumed with carbs because the insulin spike from the carbs helps them absorb into the body. The more amino acids in protein, the better it is for the body to use. Animal sources of protein such as meat, eggs, and dairy have the most complete animo acid profile. Proteins that come from plants can be absorbed much less efficiently. As a vegan, protein is a big worry, but protein is found in many sources besides meat. It can be found in broccoli, cereals, and it is even enriched in some pastas. Proteins are a bodily requirement and should be eaten with every meal and even snacks. The important thing to do is vary slow and fast digesting proteins so that your body never goes without it.
In order to see the best results in your diet or even just to understand how your body wants you to eat better, knowing at least the basics about macronutrients is necessary. Macronutrients rely on each other to keep your body healthy and well nourished. Though oftentimes people refer to a carb as sugar or fruits, a protein as meat or whey, and fat as terrible, the truth is that your body craves these things because it wants something they have. If interested, I will be following this article up with one on micronutrients and what your body needs to fight off germs, keep your teeth and bones white and healthy, and even micronutrients you should eat to boost your diet’s effectiveness.
Published also on The Odyssey
Breakdown on Veganism
When you hear the word “vegan” you might think, “Why would someone ever put themselves through that?” Or you many not even know what it means to be a vegan. Furthermore, you may have a very negative perception of veganism. For many people, even the word vegan carries a negative undertone. Vegans are often the bud of jokes and are accused of being over-sensitive and impractical. I believe that the confusion about why vegans make the choices they do and the jokes would stop if more people understood the basic theories that make veganism a logical choice. It’s especially exciting because I understand that it is an uphill battle to convince people veganism has a rational foundation. So even if your favorite food is bacon, I challenge you to keep reading because you can’t make fun of something until you are informed about it, and who knows, it may resonate with you. Vegans choose to not consume any animal based products for three reasons – the well being of the animals, the well being of themselves and the environmental effects that the meat and dairy industries have on the planet.
It’s no secret that what goes on in slaughter house is not glamorous, but I believe that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, much less meat consumption would occur. The animals slaughtered there are kept in unfathomably uncomfortable conditions and spend their entire lives dehydrated and sick. Many animals are kept in such tight quarters that they cannot turn around or take a single step. It is illogical to feel bad for crating your pets for more than a couple hours and not feel the same remorse when supporting an industry that commits far more cruel acts upon animals. I know, this is what you would expect from a vegan, right?
While all of this information seems standard to the moral pushing vegan stereotype, it’s not the only reason that people go vegan. For instance, I decided to make the switch from vegetarianism to veganism because I found on the days when I mainly ate vegan I felt amazing. A vegan diet insures that you are getting your proper nutrients and will have naturally occurring sugars and proteins, which work great with your body. And unlike the majority of Americans, vegans are never short on nutrients like fiber or nutrients like magnesium or zinc. Finally, eating vegan ensures that you are eating food that is not overly processed. Sure, there are those frozen soy meals, but most seasoned vegans find that the best way to eat is homemade.
There is still one more hurdle too – the environmental affects that being an omnivore causes. Sparing the science, the commercial meat industry is responsible for 95% of the increase in the amount of ozone in our atmosphere, an amount that is astronomically higher than ever before in recorded history and causing great concern to scientists. Actually, the unregulated waste from animal agriculture industry has virtually ruined all aquatic life that is around areas where the waste is disposed. Such waste disposal causes dead zones in the water where no fish can live and only algae remains and poisons our water. Animal waste falls out of the jurisdiction of all major federal
statutes and is a leading cause of the pharmaceutical contamination of our nation’s waters.
Believe me, I know that everyone is not meant to be a vegan and I know not everyone can be vegetarian. It is not within all of our means nor is it within all of our desires. However, there are many who are willing and fortunate enough to make this choice. I will leave you with this: if the entire world ate the same amount of meat that America eats, we would run out in less than 10 years.
Published also on The Odyssey