As a nation, our knowledge, as well as our access to various types of foods has certainly increased over hundreds of years.
Nutrition, that being what we eat, has become a prominent topic of conversation, given our propensity to consume foods high in sugar, saturated fat, as well as live a more sedentary life in comparison to our forefathers. Such lifestyle changes in society have seen health experts make recommendations for how and what we should be eating.
One such recommendation is to base your diet around whole foods. We’ve all heard the phrase, but what does it actually mean?
Whole foods is a term used to describe food that is as close to its natural form as possible: unprocessed and free from additives or other artificial substances. The idea is that we eat the same way people did hundreds of years ago, when there wasn’t a newsagent or public house on the corner of every high street.
About 70% of the “food” available at the supermarket isn’t real food. It’s been manufactured by scientists to appeal to our need for something immediate and better tasting than what we can be bothered to cook ourselves.
Whole foods are said to be our best bet to improving health and preventing disease. This is because they are high in fibre, phytochemicals and contain a more complete micro-nutrient profile. With this being the case, whole foods are believed to protect against cancer due to having high concentrations of antioxidants.
The link between lower obesity levels and whole foods is simple: refined foods often contain added sugar, salt and/or fat, which adds considerably more calories. Not to mention we are likely to eat more of the food if it contains these substances.
Natural sugar (sucrose) is broken down and used for energy more readily by our enzymes than man-made sugar, which is less easily utilized by the body and so invariably ends up being stored as fat.
Examples of whole foods are whole grains (oatmeal, quinoa), fruits (apples, bananas), vegetables (kale, carrots), meat (skinless chicken, steak) and tubers (sweet potato).
Be sure not to confuse the term ‘whole food’ with ‘organic’. Organic means foods free of antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides and other synthetic chemicals.
Having been a football player, football coach, sports science graduate and now currently a home personal trainer in Romford, I try to encourage my clients not to overthink what they eat. Every person is different; no meal plan is going to suit everybody. A meal plan isn’t even necessary to lose weight, as the average person rarely sticks to eating exactly according to the plan.
Whatever the person was eating to cause them to put on weight, they will want to continue eating it. So it’s more about reducing the portion size, or frequency with which these foods are being eaten. There’s no secret, no “one-size-fits-all”. Eat like one would hundreds of years ago, with small doses of your favourite teats here and there.
Ryan Thomas is the At Home Fitness Personal Trainer in Romford, Essex. For more info about Ryan and the services he offers just click here.
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