Thursday, February 3, 2011

Listening to Your Body - Part 2

Let me start off by saying I am so sorry for not posting yesterday! Between studying for my biochemistry exam and laying in bed with a heating pad on my tummy, I didn't realize I hadn't posted until nearly 1 AM. So again, I'm sorry!

So, on Tuesday, I wrote about listening to your body in terms of exercise, and today, I'm going to hit on listening to your body from a diet point of view. As a student in Biomedical Engineering, I have taken (and am taking) a ton of biology and chemistry classes, and if you think about it, that's exactly what a diet is. (Let me stop and say right here that I am NOT a nutrition major - so I might get something wrong, but yes, I have learned a lot about molecules and energy).  But like I said in my very first post - I am going to try not to bore anyone to death (because I know it definitely can be boring). So, for basis purposes, I'll hit the high points. First and foremost, the reason we eat is to give our body the energy it needs (ATP, ADP, free energy, blah, blah, blah). Next, you have carbohydrates/sugars, fats, and proteins, and your body digests and uses each of these differently. So, a good question to ask here is, which ones do our bodies need? And I've got your answer - all of them!

Right now I can see you giving me a confused look through your screen and saying - No Casey, carbs are the devil's food. And fat? Please.

And I say NO! Carbohydrates have a really bad rep in weight-loss circles everywhere. Now, repeat after me - We need carbs! The key is to get your carbs from healthy sources. And since carbs do turn to sugar, which turns to fat, I am in no way saying that you can eat all the carbs you want and not gain weight - that just ain't gonna happen. But what I will tell you is that you can get carbs from whole wheat (and other healthy foods) and it will be a-okay. In fact, if you are exercising on a daily basis, you absolutely have to have carbs. Have you ever heard of carbo-loading? If not, it's where marathoners, bikers, and triathletes will eat a very heavy carb diet for 4 days leading up to their big event. (When I picture this in my head, I see Lance Armstrong in full biking gear with a big mixing bowl full of spaghetti).This allows for extra storage of glycogen (the energy source that carbohydrates turn into) in their muscles, and it gives them more energy. Do you ever feel extremely exhausted after a hard workout? You probably need more carbs! My two favorite ways to get carbs are whole wheat bread (with Nutella, of course!) and whole wheat pasta. Also, most fruits have plenty of carbohydrates, too. Just remember - get what you need, and cut it off there!

Now to tackle fat. And I just want to say, ew. Have you ever looked at mayonnaise after it's been at room temperature for a few hours? Ugh, gag me with a spoon. But, as we all know, fat is what makes food taste good. And you need fat, too. And then I think of that guy from Weeds, "You wanna avocado? Its got that good fat." (I'm sorry for taking you into my mind today - it gets lonely in here). So you have your "good fat" (unsaturated) and your "evil fat" (saturated). The only difference between saturated and unsaturated fat is a double bond between carbons (that just amazes me since they are so different). So how to tell the difference? Liquid = good, hard = bad. Think the difference between olive oil and Crisco. You don't need any saturated fat in your diet - at all. But you do need unsaturated. This type of fat insulates your nerves, keeps your joints "oiled" and for women, is essential in reproduction.  If you don't have enough fat in your diet, you aren't able to absorb your fat soluble vitamins - and that just isn't healthy. Most people don't have a problem with getting enough fat in their diet, but when you go on an extremely restrictive diet, it could become an issue. Here are some things to look for that mean you need to up your healthy fat intake:
                                                         - dry, scaly skin
                                                         - hair loss
                                                         - problems with wounds healing
                                                         - excessive bruising
                                                         - and in women a loss of menstruation

Well, protein isn't so bad, you say. No, it isn't - it's essential to build lean muscle. BUT - and this is a big but - any protein that you don't use will turn to fat. You can't just drink nothing but protein shakes and build muscle. It just doesn't work. However, if you're a big body builder (and if you are, I'm not sure why you're reading my blog), then you will benefit from excessive protein. If you're not eating enough protein, your body is going to start taking the protein it needs from your muscles! And you worked hard for those! Fatigue and frequent sickness can be a sign of low protein in your diet. Also, you can buy strips that you pee on (sorry to be blunt) that will check that you're not getting too much protein, because that can be really dangerous for your kidneys. The most places you get your protein from are healthy by themselves - milk, beans, protein, and lean meats (turkey, fish and the like).  So make sure you get your protein, because every aspect of your body needs it!

A few other quick fixes you can get from food :
- Cramps? Try eating a banana to get some potassium!
- Bloated? Eat more fiber!
- Sweet tooth killing you? (hey that can feel like physical pain sometimes!) Try Nutella! It's sweet and chocolaty and wonderful and if you can keep it to 1-2 tablespoons then you're fine!

So to wrap it up - eat as much of a balanced diet as you possibly can. You're body knows what kind of foods needs, so pay attention! I hope y'all have a wonderful rest of the day!


  1. So apparently I'm not getting enough fat... I have a problem with bruises showing up when I have no idea how I got them, and with the exception of the chopstick incident, scratches and other stuff like that take FOREVER to heal. I thought my dry skin was just because I don't use enough lotion...

    Perhaps I should start eating my avocado breakfast again! Mental check reveals that while I don't have the worst eating habits in the world, I really don't have that many sources of fat. Hmmmm...