The “perfect” diet does exist! A case against fad diets and quick fixes.

For my final presentation this semester I had to do a 10 minute presentation of a research topic of choice. I chose, “Micronutrient Gaps in Three Commerical Weight Loss Diet Plans”. This became an interest of mine when I was learning about the “B” Vitamins specifically. Much of the way we get our daily dose of “B” is through whole grains enriched with them. And with the rise of diets that advocate for removing carbohydrates I assumed many people would be deficient. I came across this study and it turns out, yes, many mainstream diets leave us deficient in important micronutrients. Why is this important to me? Because if you are like me, you have spent too many years being attracted to quick fixes and fad diets. These diets promise the world in weight loss and health but often fall short and we fail. When you look at diets from a scientific perspective you can see that you don’t need to spend too much money or time or even days feeling miserable and deprived if you want to achieve health and weight loss. It’s amazing how your physical and mental health can turn around just by eating better.

So since I know many mainstream diets did fall short nutritionally, I was curious if a diet was ever created that gave you 100% of your RDA of all vitamins and minerals. So using a food tracker called, (which is what they used in this study) I started playing around. It took a very very long time BUT it CAN be done.

Here is the menu for that

**total calories: 1520

Breakfast Smoothie: 1 cup spinach, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 tbsp. flaxseeds

Snack: 3 brazil nuts & ½ C nonfat milk

Lunch: 4 oz salmon, 6 Brussel sprouts and 1 cup broccoli, ½ avocado…Add ¼ tsp. salt & 1 tsp. olive oil

Snack: 6 dried apricots & 1 glass of milk

Dinner: 2 Oz steak, 1 cup spinach, 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup white beans, 1 cup mushrooms, use 1 orange with 1 tbsp. balsamic, 2 tsp. olive oil & ¼ tsp. salt for dressing

And this is just 1 configuration of foods. I am sure there are millions more. so if you have failed at 101 diets then don’t start the 102 diet. Or if a friend is going on and on and about the way you “should” be eating…don’t feel pressured. Just be happy and eat healthy. And always have dessert. The end.

How much water should you drink in a day?

Ah, water. The age old question is how much should I drink in a day? We all have picked up beliefs about how much water we need. We see people carrying around gallons of water. We are always told water is the key to weight loss and digestive health. So when this topic came up in my biochemistry class, I decided to share the info like I promised I would in this section of my blog.

Water makes up about 60% of our body weight.

And since water recommendations vary with age, gender and physical activity an “adequate intake” is recommended. That adequate intake recommendation is 2.7 liters or 90 oz for women. And 3.7 liters or 123 oz. for men. So how many cups is that? That’s 11.25 cups for women and 15.375 cups for men. (mom, check my math)

Now what does that actually mean in terms of standard water bottles? For us gals, over five standard 16.9 Fl. oz water bottles a day and for the men, over seven.

So are you drinking enough? I for sure am NOT but just knowing this information helped me up my intake. I hope it does the same for you.

If you struggle to polish off those Poland Spring bottles think of eating more fruits and vegetables which are high in water. 75-80% of our daily water intake comes from beverages. 20-25% comes from food, like nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Obviously, watermelon. And a small amount, is created from cellular metabolic reactions.

. But here’s the bottom line, I think we just need to drink more water. And like me, if you were drawn to this article because you googled, “how much water should I drink?” then you probably aren’t drinking enough. Does it suck to pee every 35 seconds? Yes. I think we can all agree on that but the benefits of drinking more water far outweigh the total toilet time.

What is a calorie?

I was at a party this weekend and someone asked me this question and I thought it’s not exactly the easiest thing to define. So let me try to help you understand it a little better and maybe it will then help you understand your food label a little more.

The most commonly known definition of a calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C. Probably not what you were expecting to hear right? And a lot of science and research is involved in how this original definition became the calories that we today know on the standard US Food Labels. So how do we simply understand that connection between that definition and what we eat? Well, energy used by the body is ultimately derived from the energy contained in the fat, carbs and protein we eat. So every time you eat, imagine energy being released into your body as heat. See the connection back to the original definition kind of? It’s confusing. And I don’t think you technically need to know that to the benefit of your health. The most important calorie information to me is how calories are calculated to give you totals on your food labels.

A food label for a Frozen Pizza.

TOTAL CALORIES IN 1 SERVING (1/3 of the pizza) = 340 calories

TOTAL FAT = 13 grams

TOTAL CARBS = 39 grams

TOTAL PROTEIN = 19 grams

1 gram of fat has 9 calories. So multiply 13 grams X 9 calories = 117 calories

1 gram of carbs has 4 calories. So multiply 39 grams X 4 calories = 156 calories

1 gram of protein has 4 calories. So multiply 19 grams X 4calories =76 calories

Then add that all together. 117 calories from fat+156 calories from carbs+ 76 calories from fat = 349 total calories. Pretty close to the 340 calorie total stated on the package for 1/3 of pizza. The total when using the 4-4-9 method will always be close to the total calories the package states. It may be exact and it may be a little off because this is an overly simplified method and FDA regulations for U.S. foods say individual companies can use different approved methods for determining Calories for their food. It will always be close, but maybe a few calories different. This is another reason why it’s important not to live and die so strictly to the calories in vs. calories out philosophy.

So you see where the calories come from? And kind of how they are calculated? And of course every grams of fat, carbs and protein offer different nutrients and vitamins and act different in the body. Which we’ll talk more about in a later lesson:)!