May 6

Food Quality 101


If you recap over the previous 2 blogs you will know that we are on the fourth layer of the pyramid. Number one was adherence, number two was overall energy intake and number three was macronutrients.


Now we are on number four, which is food quality. Remember what I said about food quality and how that can directly affect the quantity of food that you take in.


There have been plenty of studies on this now showing that when people eat as much as they like, so not given a set amount of food to eat, they will eat more calories from processed foods than they will from unprocessed Whole Foods.


If you’re wondering, what the hell is a processed food or an unprocessed food anyway? The definition of unprocessed or ‘whole’ food is a food that has undergone minimal (if any) processing before it is ready to eat.


Most foods require some sort of processing, so I don’t want you guys to freak out about this! I have not lost my evidence based standpoint.


However, we can all agree that foods such as fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, nuts and seeds, starchy carbohydrates that are grown from the ground, they require less processing than things like pop tarts, pizzas, ice cream, pastries, cookies and all those types of foods.


These are the foods and the differences that I’m talking about. Another thing about junk food is that it does not fill you up the same way and you become hungry again more quickly.


Also, your brain is wired to want to eat more of them! Sugar isn’t addictive, it doesn’t have the same properties as things like cocaine.  The thing about junk food though is that it does stimulate a dopamine response in the brain.


So when you eat something high in fat and sugar or high in fat and salt, it gives you a good feeling, thereby reinforcing the ‘habit-loop’ and making you much more likely to reach for that food again.


This is particularly strong if you eat these foods when you are stressed or sad, because they actually do make you feel better! Unfortunately it is very temporary.


If you want more information on the topic of the brain and reasons around eating, I can highly recommend ‘The Hungry Brain’ by Dr. Stephen Guyunet.


He is actually a former guest on the podcast, if you look for FlatWhite episode five, ‘Why we get fat’ with Dr. Stephen Guyunet, then you can find out more details there.


Quality of your food then can dictate the quantity. However, if you pay attention to the quantity of your food, you can theoretically eat only Pop Tarts if you want to and still stay lean.


There have been bodybuilders that have done this.  Jordan Syatt for example, did a McDonald’s challenge where he had a Big Mac every day but made it fit within his calories.


He still lost weight because he paid attention to overall calories and he ate plenty of protein.  He was proving that flexible dieting does actually work.


There has been loads of research and loads of people showing the same result in anecdotal evidence.


Now, the thing about this then, is that we do want to have a good quality of food in our diet for health purposes and also for feelings of better satiety, better fullness and just generally having a better balance of food.


In order to get enough vitamins and minerals, you simply need to eat a wide variety of foods in good amounts, so I don’t talk to people about specific vitamins and minerals, unless they have a deficiency.


If you’re worried about that then I recommend that you get tested and if you are deficient in something then you can look to increase that.


I would advise to not go for food intolerance tests, because these IgD tests are very non evidence based, there isn’t evidence to support them being used for this purpose.


The same goes for  DNA testing and things like that. We don’t have the science to basically give you a perfect diet profile for your body type, your gene type, or for your blood type.


In relation to food quality for health,  I recommend making sure 80% of your diet comes from Whole Foods.


If you’re getting a variety of dairy, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, then you’re probably going to be all right.


If you’re a vegan, then I do recommend that you supplement with vitamin B12, because you can usually only get that from dairy products.


For omega 3 fish oils, vegans will have to get that from a vegan supply, something like olive oil would be ideal.


If you want to know more about supplements I would recommend for health, there are blogs and podcasts from last week with more detail.


The 80/20 rule for most people, should give you plenty of vitamins and minerals.


A proviso I would put in is that if you are a smaller female, in a calorie deficit, then a multivitamin a day will cover you and give you less chance of picking up a deficiency.


But remember, as Andy Morgan said from, life is not a game of Supermario, you don’t get extra bonus points for hitting more vitamins and minerals.


As long as you’re having at least five pieces of fruit and veggie a day  and you’re eating a good variety of them with a good variety of other Whole Foods, you can still have 20% of your diet coming from processed foods.


You will get plenty of vitamins and minerals and you’ll be perfectly happy and healthy. That’s what life is all about.


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