Peter Benedict (St. Andrews): The No. 1 Thing You Should Remember About Healthy Diets

Peter Benedict, St. Andrew’s College graduate, hopes to provide readers with information about sports training, athletics, and everything in-between. Read his blog below on what makes up a healthy diet:

The road to fitness is often long and trying, but that’s only in the beginning, before people find their stride. There is this misconception that fitness is a race, or a sprint, where the first person to the finish line wins the prize. The truth is, as with many things in life, fitness isn’t a race; it’s a marathon where the journey is the destination as well.

Unfortunately, many people approach fitness without respect or patience for the process. Among everything—whether bulking, exercising, or recovering—eating healthy is still viewed with less importance. Ever wonder why there continues to be crazy fad diets and trends year after year, despite warnings from experts? Or why there seems to be new slimming pills, teas, and other products in the market, claiming yet again a new—and often unverified—way to lose weight? This only shows how desperate and gullible people are to get fit in an instant, but there are no shortcuts to this journey, including healthy eating. In a nutshell, what you consume or put inside your body is what you’ll get. No more, no less.

No more, no less—this should give one a good idea just how strict calorie counting is in the fitness community. Why? What’s the deal with calorie counting, you ask? Many people may be surprised to know that the type of food they eat may matter less than calories. In other words, if your goal is to have a healthy diet, then by all means you shouldn’t deprive yourself that juicy burger or slice of cheese pizza as long as you’re keeping track of your caloric intake. This runs against what is commonly read in the media that one should shun unhealthy, “junk” foods no matter what, but healthy eating isn’t all that black and white.

In one research published at the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, Bray GA et al. found that the body’s metabolic responses were no different whether one had fast food (burger, French fries, the works), an organic beef meal, or a turkey meal with granola and organic orange juice. The only difference that was of statistical importance was the decrease in LDL cholesterol for the organic beef meal. Based on the findings of this study, one may come to the conclusion that calories and macros should matter more than fretting about organic, whole, and other green-marketing adjectives.

Of course, this finding alone doesn’t sanitize the awful reputation of fast food, but as part of the adage goes, “Too much of anything is bad” and in the case of eating healthy foods, the only bad thing it seems to be going on here is that you’ll miss the “unhealthy goodness” of burgers, fries, donuts, soda, and everything else branded as junk.

In the end, go ahead and treat yourself once in awhile. Cheat days wouldn’t be cheat days as long as you’re religiously keeping count of those calories and macros.

To read more from Peter Benedict St. Andrew’s College, stay tuned to this blog.

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