March 22, 2003

I Know What I Should Eat . . . But!
by Phil Kaplan

If you've been with me for any period of time, if you've been a regular listener of my radio show or you've attended any of my seminars, you know. If you want to boost metabolism, if you want fuel for consistent energy, if you want the raw material from which to build new healthy muscle tissue, you want to eat Supportively. But . . .

Sometimes I stumble upon words that just express a concept or idea so well they combine to become a component of my vocabulary. The words Supportive Eating have found their way into my regular dialogue. I coined the term more than 10 years ago and it stuck because it says exactly what it purports to say. Eating Supportively translates into, "eating in a manner that works to support your metabolism and your fitness goals." Disciples of Supportive Eating know precisely how that term translates into food. For those who may be new to the concept, and as a refresher before I go beyond the basics, allow me to summarize the "wants" of Supportive Eaters.

You want to eat frequently

By Fueling your body frequently, ideally every 3 - 3 1/2 hours, you send a continuous supply of vital nutrients into your body. Metabolism, by definition, simply means "the speed with which your body burns through food." To boost metabolism, to become one of those people who can eat anything and not get fat, it's essential that you put lots of food through the "food burning machine" with consistent regularity.

You want to limit bad fats and recognize and avoid sugar

We've heard fats are bad, and that's partially true. Bad fats are bad. Essential fats are vital. If you're going to eat supportively, the less supportive fats are to be minimized. Less supportive fats would be those that come from saturated or hydrogenated sources such as the fat in red meat, butter, or margarine. Too many people think that fats are evil, thus they believe that "eating right" is synonymous with "eating less fat." Eating less "bad fat" is a part of the puzzle, but it's not the entirety of it.

Many who try to follow "low-fat" eating regimens opt for fat-free cookies, fat-free pastries, and low-fat ice creams. The number one ingredient in these foods is sugar, and regular ingestion of simple sugar can completely throw fat burning ability out the window.

You want to recognize and restrict bleached, processed, and refined carbohydrates

A calorie is a unit of heat. While conventional diets have taught people for dcades to avoid calories, offering tricks for getting low-calorie meals or for taking in fewer calories in the course of a day, they fail to consider a very relevant factor. Metabolism, as stated above, is the speed with which your body "burns" through food. Burn is an appropriate word to use as restated that would equate to "the speed with which your body converts nutrients into heat." Right now your body is maintaining a temperature somewhere around 98.6 degrees. Every time you move, every time a muscle contracts, heat is produced and calories are burned. Recognizing that human movement burns calories, it should become clear that the act of eating and digesting food burns calories. Some calories, such as fats, are simple for your body to deal with, thus there aren't very many calories needed for the act of digestion. Conversely, when you consume "thermic" meals, meals that require a great deal of energy to digest, a significant number of calories are burned as that food travels through your intestinal tract. Proteins are highly thermic. Complex carbs are less thermic than proteins, but far more thermic than fats. When you take complex carbs, such as grains, and bleach them or process them using refining machinery, it's sort of like the machine did the work your body was going to do. Bleached and processed carbs, such as white flour or breakfast cereals, are easily converted to triglycerides and stored as fat. Clearly all calories are NOT created equal. Eat thermic meals throughout the day.

You want every meal to ideally contain a Lean Protein, a Starchy Carbohydrate, and a Fibrous Carbohydrate

A meal containing all three components has high thermic properties, contains slow release carbs for an ongoing fuel supply without significant blood sugar spikes, and contains the amino acids (building blocks of protein) that are used as the raw material from which you build new healthy cells. The fibrous carbs not only aid in digestion, but assuming they're chosen from natural sources, are usually rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and a host of other valuable micronutrients.

Here's the "But"

The challenge is, we live in the real world. We have family obligations, business trips, vacations, jobs, sporting events, sick days, and the desire to go out and get a little crazy every once in awhile. Those vital responsibilities, obligations, and irrepressable urges, make supportive eating challenging. There are some common questions that come in from people who "know what to eat . . . but." I'll address and answer a few of them here

What if I don't like vegetables?

I've had many people tell me they hate "all" vegetables. If I rattle off enough options, we can always find at least a few they're open to. Those that I find vegetable haters are often open to include corn and carrots as a starting point. The trick thereafter is to find ways to turn other veggies into little non-imposing treats. Celery or sliced cucumber can be dipped in fat-free Ranch Dressing (yes,there's likely going to be some sugar, but if it's part of a thermic meal and helps develop the "veggies are OK" belief, it's acceptable). If you're open to "dipping," try peppers. Even if you "hate" green peppers, yellow bell peppers and orange bell peppers have a unique flavorful taste. Creatively find ways to mix veggies into foods that you do enjoy. Perhaps you can chop up some mushrooms and add them into your morning omelet. Stick some sprouts in your turkey sandwich. Stir fry foods using some chinese vegetables such as watercress, snow peas, bamboo shoots, and baby corns.

Many people, when they think of vegetables, think of broccoli and cauliflower. There is in fact a massive field of veggies to choose from. Consider trying asparagus, baby carrots, leeks, eggplant, endive, red cabbage, kale, cherry tomatoes, beets, bok choy, brussels sprouts, chili peppers, jalapeno peppers, zucchini, artichoke, lemon grass, and squash. If you are an avid vegetable-hater, even with a massive list to choose from, you'll want to get fiber and antioxidants from other sources. While fruits are high in sugar, and not an ideal staple for someone seeking fat loss, if you are avoiding veggies completely, you should get an ample amount of fruit and supplement with an antioxidant formula and a multi mineral formulation.

What if I don't have time to prepare a complete meal?

Meals don't have to be ideal. Just make the best choice you can in the situation you're in. Whipping a sandwich together is simple, assuming you have the ingredients ready to go. If you prepare your fridge for the "sandwich in a bind" situation, you shouldn't have any difficulty finding a supportive meal option. If you're pressed for time, toss a few pineapple chunks into some fat free cottage cheese. Ideal? No, but nutritious and a source for proteins and carbs (pineapple is a source of a digestive enzyme, bromelain, and can aid in protein digestion). You can grab a few handfuls of nuts. Again, not ideal, but a source of protein and essential fats. Fat-free sugar-free yogurt is always available in any supermarket. Toss in some granola and/or some grapes and you've got yourself a quickie meal.

What if I'm stuck at the airport without any good food?

Airport restaurants aren't usually the best resources for supportive meals, but . . . you can always get a grilled chicken breast sandwich with some lettuce and tomato and toss the bread. Many airport restaurants have shrimp cocktail. I suggest carrying a meal replacement powder with you. You can also ask the nice people behind the ice cream / shake counter to make you up a meal replacement. The downside is, they may charge you for mixing water into your powder, but they have the ability to make it frothy and serve it in a large cup with a straw.

What restaurant is best for grabbing a supportive meal?

A sushi restaurant is a wonderful place to grab a supportive meal. Get a mixed salad with some ginger dressing, a sashimi appetizer, and a side of brown rice and you've got a supportive meal. Many sushi restaurants have rolls wrapped in cucumber, without rice and without crossing the boundaries of supportive eating, manage to create something delicous and healthy. For newcomers to sushi, try tuna tataki. Many sushi restaurants now have a crabmeat and spinach soup that is virtually a meal in itself. One of the best things about sushi is the convenience of the sushi bar. You can pop in without a reservation, sit right down, and in less than 10 minutes you're eating your supportive meal.

What if it's hopeless . . . if I just can't find a good meal and I'm tempted to grab a good old candy bar?

It's never hopeless. You just have to learn to observe a hierarchy of meal choices.

  • Fresh food is better than frozen.

  • Frozen food is better than canned.

  • A meal with nutritional value and some protein and complex carbs is better than a very high sugar snack food

  • A thermic meal is better than a shake

  • A shake is better than a bar

  • A sports nutrition bar with 30 grams of protein is better than a candy bar

And that brings us to the much misunderstood food alternative, the Meal Replacement!

Why do I say "misunderstood?" Well, because advertising and product hype lead people to believe there's something miraculous in those formulas, or some muscle building miracle packed inside the wrapper of a bar. Return to the supportive eating hierarchy above for a moment. Note that a thermic meal is better than a shake, a shake is better than a bar. That will always hold true. If you are tempted to believe that a bar or shake is "better" than a supportive meal, you can bet you're being misled.

Many of you have relied upon my EAT! formula for Supportive Nutrition for those times a meal is a bit too difficult to obtain through thermic food sources. I've made it abundantly clear, there isn't any magic in EAT . . . just the highest quality nutrients. I've also done something unique. I've portioned it in servings where one scoop equals 100 calories. That way it becomes simple to customize portion sizes. If you want a 30-calorie meal, that's simple. Three scoops. Just last week we received our first shipment of the new EAT! formula, EAT! Pro. It has some advantages over the previous formula and it's delicious in Vanilla Milk Shake and Chocolate Milk Shake flavors. Find out more about EAT! Pro! Buy more than one container and save $$! Click here for details.

The Games Labelers Play

In the last update I wrote about food labels as they relate to supermarket foods. When it comes to supplements, wow, the advertisers and sellers are having a field day! A deception field day! There are several tricks, some of which cannot be detected without a complete analysis that runs upwards of $1,000.

The first trick is, they fail to include the ingredients the labels say they include! How can they get away with it? Simple. Nobody checks! That allows manufacturers to list everything that is reputed to have some benefit

The second trick is they trademark names and use double talk to create the illusion of a miracle in a container. Rather than calling their protein blend, "protein," they give it a name such as Myomoligopeptide formula and call it their proprietary blend of protein. In some cases that's used to create "blends" that use inferior proteins with a token amount of whey or egg albumen.

The bars are full of deception, and they're also full of sugar. Many say "low carb" or "sugar free" yet if you look at the ingredient list, you'll find glycerine which is a sugar alcohol and does have the potential to spike blood sugar and limit fat release. As they create offerings with lower sugar, those bars are pumped up with fat. They have to be. As you remove the sugar, the bar loses its texture and consistency. All bars have a trade off - they either lower sugar and increase fat or vice versa. Does that make them bad? Well, no, not necessarily bad. Just not ideal. In trying to find the best bar possible, I used to opt for Parrillo bars as they were the lowest in sugar and had a high quality protein. I then found Lean Body bars to be my favorites as they were high protein and tasted much better than anything else on the market. Today, DETOUR bars have found their way into my office. Wow are they good . . . tasting that is. I think of them not as an ideal meal, but rather as a Snicker's Bar alternative with 32 grams of protein. I will grab a DETOUR bar once in awhile, but when I'm in my office I usually rely on my blender and my EAT! formula.

A shake is better than a bar since there isn't any worry about "texture" and "mouth feel" when creating a powder. I've managed to make EAT! Pro! without any sugar and with very low fat content. The ingredients are basic, but high quality. Whey protein. Egg protein. Maltodextrin (glucose polymers which act as a slow release complex carbohydrate). Vitamins. Minerals. You can find the ingredient label by scrolling down the following site page:

With a recognition that Supportive Nutrition primarily asks you to make the best choice possible, you'll also understand why the following remaining questions can all be answered with three words. "Have a shake."

  • What can I do if I travel and can't get to enough meals on the road?

  • What if I'm in the office for hours without a meal break?

  • What can I do if I drive most of the day stopping only for breakfast and lunch?

    • Have a shake!

OK, so with a meal replacement shake as an option for most scenarios, the "but" in "I know what to eat, but" is history. Anyone who might have felt inclined to say those words will now replace them with, "I know what to eat . . . and . . . I'm going to make the best choices possible!"

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Suggested Next Page:

Go to the Previous [ Update ] and Find out About Deceptive Food Labeling.

Find additional details on the new EAT! formula, [ EAT! Pro ]

Related Pages:

Previous Updates:

Update 3/6/03 - Deceptive Food Labels

Update 2/4/03 - The Relationship Between Sex and Fitness
Update 1/25/03 - Phil's Biggest Mistake - The EAT! Formula Screw Up
Update 1/12/03 - The Talk Show Illusion (Infomercials exposed)
Update 12/14/02 - Penis Enlargers and Breast Enhancing Pills
Update 11/20/02 - How Do I Lose This?
Update 8/27/02 - The Promise and the Real Story Behind the Infomercials
Update 8/01/02 - Clearing up Four Prevalent Myths

Update 6/20/02 - Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
Update 5/11/02 - Miracle GH, What "Works"
Update 3/25/02 - Women on Steroids and More on Core Training

Update 2/15/02 - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Fitness
Update 1/14/02 - Counting Calories
Update 12/28 - 'Twas the Night Before New Years
Update 12/8 - The New Electronic Ab Offerings
Update 12/12 - The "Magic" is Within You
Update 11/20 - Holiday eating!

Update 11/3 - Weight Loss Bread and other Nonsense!
Update 10/29 - Supplement Values
Update 10/3 - Getting Back to Doing What We Do
Update 9/19 - Tragedy and Love, RE: Sept 11
Update 8/15 - Myths, Fallacies, False Beliefs
Update 8/1 - The Internet, Leptin, Steroids, and more
Update 7/9 - The New Supplements
Update 6/14 - Seminar offerings and clarity on "Brownies"
Update 5/29 - Lose Weight, Eat Brownies?!?!?
Update 5/1/01
- Pizza, Beer, and Fitness
Update 4/7/01 - "Phil-osophies" and Rip-Off Realities!
Update 4/1/01 - Gourmet Recipes!
Update 3/15/01 - Research Has Proven?
Update 3/1/01 - Preparing for The New Infomercial
Update 2/1/01 - Time, Space, Matter, and Energy
Update 1/15/01 - Atkins hits the UK
Update 10/7/00 - Supplements, Additional Clarity
Update 7/27/00 - The Experts Round Table, Almada, Colgan, Parillo
Update 7/3/00 - Core Training & Metabolism Boosters

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