Nutrition Blog

مدونة التغذية – للنسخة العربية اضغط هنا

Nutrition is big area of interest for me and I’ve conducted extensive research and experimentation on it over the last 15 years. It is unfortunate that most information commonly shared in this field is incorrect, and it takes lots of effort to weed out the right from the wrong. I have only approved concepts which I had personally tested and proven the outcomes and results.

In this section I’d like to share my latest learnings with you, hoping to benefit everyone with the knowledge and help our society become healthier, fitter and happier in their lives. At the bottom you will also find some suggested books for further reading.

Before reading further, I would suggest you attempt to take this short quiz I created which test some basic concepts regarding nutrition. Check it out and try to figure out the underlying themes which make it easy to solve with only continuous pen stroke! Afterwards you can have a look at the answer key to better understand the principles involved (please contact me for the password).

 

General Concepts

  • A healthy lifestyle is not defined only by weight. Although weight is one factor, other measures include general health, energy, mental performance, quality of sleep, athletic endurance, mood balance, and blood chemistry indicators. To have   a healthy lifestyle you should measure yourself on all these factors.

 

  • Both diet and exercise are important for weight loss and healthy living.  Food has a higher impact on weight loss than exercise (for example eating a burger could gain you 600 calories, and it takes about 1 hour of running to burn that amount of calories, thus it is much easier to simply not eat the burger). On the other hand, exercise has the larger impact on physical fitness & health and it is important even for “slim” people as it helps improve circulation, endurance, mental functions, sleep quality, muscles and physical toning. Personally, I’ve reduced my food intake and go to them gym around 3-4 times a week, had good results with that so far.

 

  • When it comes to weight management, fats are not your enemy — rather carbs are. Carbohydrates include all sugars and starches such as bread, corn, rice, pasta, etc. Your intake of carbs acts as a lever to control the storage of fats. Just to clarify further, when you eat fats your body can simply burn them for energy, but when you eat carbs it tells your body to store the fat! Cutting carbs in your diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and stay healthy. Personally, I’ve removed most carbs from my diet (especially bread) and saw the effects.

 

  • Glycemic Index (GI) is a very important concept to grasp, as basically it described how much different types of carbs can control the storage of fats in your body. Foods with a high GI such as sugars and refined carbs (e.g. white wheat products) have a string and immediate effect on your body to store more fats. Foods with a low GI such as dark carbs and vegetables have a minimal effect on that, and thus are recommended to be eaten more often. Beware that fruits and honey have a high GI due to their sugar content and should not be consumed liberally!

 

  • Fiber is a useful food component which can help your body digest and remove waste more effectively and also lessen the bad effects of carbs. As a component of plant cell walls, it is found only in plant products and not animal products. Foods high in fiber include bran, whole grains, beans, nuts, vegetables and some fruits. I try to eat lots of fiber and usually around 20-30 grams are recommended daily.

 

  • Organic foods will not necessarily make you lose weight, though they are better choice for food quality overall. Such foods which are matching their natural condition and free of any chemical additives or contamination can certainly help avoid inflammation and toxicity in the body, whereas processed foods are quite harmful to us by contrast. It’s also advisable to eat fresh, natural, high-quality foods though you should still expect to have the same effects on your weight as any normal foods.

 

  • Cholesterol is a component of animal cells and thus exists only in animal products and no plant products (not even any plant-based oils). It is necessary for bodily functions and not always harmful. Typically, our bodies make all the cholesterol we need internally whether we eat it or not, and the amount we receive from our food has a minor effect on blood cholesterol.

 

  • Fats come in different types, and there are good and bad ones. Sources of good fat include avocado, coconut, olives, some nuts, and 100% natural/organic animal fats or butter. Bad fats are mostly the ones found in processed or unnatural foods such as fast food meals and packaged products, also other modified vegetable oils. Usually I make smoothies with avocados, berries, nuts, and greens as shown here.

 

  • Calorie-counting is not recommended as it does not work out mathematically as one might think! Foods interact without our body in complex ways, and simple match cannot account for your potential weight gain or loss. Just for basic knowledge it is useful to know that fats have twice the caloric load by weight (i.e. fats have around 10 calories per gram, which carbs and proteins have about 5 per gram).

 

  • Vitamins & supplements are useful for a healthy diet, if you feel our food intake may not cover all required nutritional needs. Good supplements to consider include Vitamin D and C, Omega 3, minerals like magnesium & zinc, and perhaps greens powders if you are not eating enough vegetables (like me). Personally I take a variety of supplements daily and had good effects from them — you can see my regimen in the photo below.

 

  • Antioxidants are useful in small amounts as they help clean up our cells and potentially help them survive for a longer period (i.e. possibly extending our lifespan or delaying signs of aging). Good sources for these are green tea and berries — though no need to over-consume them.

 

  • Blood chemistry should be monitored regularly for anomalies, perhaps once or twice a year. Suggested parameters to check are sugar levels, triglycerides, urea, liver functions, hormone levels, iron, vitamins D & B12. You can then ask your doctor what to do if any of the level are outside the normal range.

 

 

Sample Foods & Comments

Below you were see some of the foods I’ve encountered in different places (or made myself), with comments on what I think of them and the effects I saw.

 

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Healthy salad with a good mix of protein and vegetables (without that huge piece of bread on the side of course)

 

I make these at home sometimes, oatmeal or cereal with some fresh berries — but I use only cereals with zero sugars in them, and these are hard to find).

 

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Good balanced dish with greens, lean protein and whole grain

 

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This Japanese dish is healthy (and quite tasty) if you eat only half of that rice

 

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Mexican food: the grilled fajitas with veggies (top left side) are healthy but not the other dish on the green plate

 

Do not eat these! (not sure why I did)

 

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Usually eat breakfast like this at hotels — notice only one piece of brown bread (the danish was a mistake of course!) and the rest is proteins and veggies

 

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Excellent choice – just fresh grilled salmon & vegetables

 

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Again a great salmon salad if you just skip that breadstick

 

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This one is even better because of the avocados and berries

 

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Only grilled meat, seafood and broccoli on the plate — I don’t ask for any carb side dishes like corn, potato or rice

 

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One of the best super-food salads you can have

 

Not good food!  (but we all make mistakes eh)

 

Perhaps a bit too much protein here…

 

These are great options – no harm with quinoa

 

Used to cook this meat & vegetable dish at home

 

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Not a bad afternoon snack

 

These traditional meals are ok but just try to eat less of the rice (and prefer natural or organic chicken in possible)

 

Nope!

 

 

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