Female athletes come in all shapes, such as runners, power-lifters fighters, dancers, or women just out there having fun. Yet they all seem to make the same nutrition mistakes. The good news is that if you fix these things, you’re way ahead of the game!
Inspired by reader comments on How To Go Primal (without really trying), I’ve created a handy HTGP cheat sheet that lays out the options for three types of diets (and by diet, I mean eating routine, not Slimfast).
The premise here is that there are three very general types of categories of diets, based on human technological and cultural changes.
In the first part of this series, The Carb Myth Part I, I pointed out that people often replaced the fat in their food with carbs, primarily in the form of refined sugar. I also stressed that controlling carb intake was critical to ensuring successful fat loss and appetite management. I’d like to expand on this a little bit because currently, the low-carb mania is echoing the stupidity of the low-fat mania ten years ago.
The bottom line: refined carbs—processed sugars and simple starches—are still bad for you.
Ah, the 1980s and early 1990s, the era of ultra-low-fat diets. We were told that we could eat anything we want, as long as it didn’t have fat in it. Calories were irrelevant! Just purge the fat and you can eat everything with impunity! I don’t know about you folks, but I chowed down a whole lot of plain rice and brownies made with applesauce. Well, at the end of it all in early 1997, I was still overweight. Desperately, I tried to purge every last living fat molecule from my life. And through it all, I happily scarfed “fat-free” treats: Snackwells, hard candies, Jello, gelatos and sorbets, fat-free salad dressings with a weird chemical aftertaste… Are you doing the math by now, dear reader? It wasn’t the fat in my diet that was the problem, it was the carbohydrate intake. In other words, I had replaced some negligible fat calories with tons of sugar and starch calories.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that fruits and veggies, aka F/V, are good for you. They contain valuable vitamins and hundreds of other chemical compounds, as well as soluble and insoluble fibre. Also, they taste good! When I meet people who say that they don’t like F/V, it usually means that a) they have only tried a limited range and/or b) they don’t know how to cook them properly.
The short and sweet conclusion I promised? Drastic diets or diets without exercise chew through muscle. Less muscle means lower BMR and more relative bodyfat. Lower BMR means eventually putting on additional bodyfat in the long run. It puts your hormones out of whack and disrupts your appetite and eating patterns. Essentially your whole metabolic environment is screwed up.
It also means that short-term, drastic caloric restriction is not a good solution for long term weight maintenance and bodyfat loss.
Aside from the physiological effects, possibly the biggest reason why diets don’t work is that people regard them as short-term solutions to a long-term issue. The issue is usually insufficient activity/sedentary and poor nutrition. In some cases it can also be an underlying medical condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome or thyroid disorder. However building muscle can help in both those cases, as it improves insulin resistance as well as adding lean body mass.