Diet: Food – A Retrospective

So what have we learned, class?  Anyone?  I don’t hear any questions, so I’m going to assume you all understood and remember everything I have said until now, and I can go home and make cardboard forts.  Anyone?  No?  All right, see you all next week.

Toodle-loo, suckers.

Hey, what are you doing?  Who are yo – let go of me!  Hey!  HEY!  I asked if they had any questions, and no one answered.  What?!  Get off of – OW, THAT HURTS!  WHAT DO YOU MEAN “THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS”?!  I say, “If they can’t ask me questions while I’m typing but BEFORE I post, that’s their problem!”  OW, JESUS, FINE!  FINE!  You want me to summarize?!  I’ll summarize so much shit outta this that there will be summaries and shit all over the room!

Damn.  I didn’t even know there were blog police.  Fuckers.

I have come to the end of the basics of food with regards to weight-loss and I figured that I might as well go over the bullet points of each post.  This serves a few different ends.  One, it allows you to see all the info side by side which can help you understand the connections between each food group and your body.  Two, it allows me some room to extrapolate on ideas I was not able to fit into the original posts.  Three, it allows me to add jokes I wasn’t able to fit into the original posts.  Four, I slacked off and waited until the last minute to write this and I didn’t have time/wasn’t ready to start the exercise section yet (please forgive any spelllling erorrs and grammars it be bad).  Five, there is no reason five.  And lastly, six, because I damn well feel like it.  Everyone okay with that?  I can’t see or hear anyone oppose it, so I’ll assume we’re good to go.

SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT-LOSS IS ABOUT THE LONG RUN

Committing to losing weight is about realizing it is going to take a lot longer than a couple of weeks.  Or months.  Perhaps even years.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll eat right and move a little more and then be done with it.  If it has taken you a life time to become a large person, it’s going to take some time to work it off.

Awww man, why you gotta bring out the worried baby face?

But don’t worry.  It won’t happen as quickly as you would like, but it won’t take a lifetime to get rid of.  In fact, once you start losing weight, you’ll be amazed at how fast it can go.

AN EDUCATION IS YOUR GREATEST TOOL

Look, I really wish my blog could stand in for your education.  Not only would it mean you would have a one-stop shop, but it would also raise my ego through the roof.

Or in my case, to Jupiter, since I'm an arrogant bastard.

But you have to go further than my ramblings.  The things I needed and did learn were specific to my own challenges and behaviors.  I would have immense cravings to finish a box of oreos, so I learned what they were made of and what they did to me and that helped me start to put them down.  I don’t have time nor the energy to list every single food and what it does for you.  Wikipedia, library, books, internet, gyms, teachers, they have so much more information than I do, and unlike me, you can actually trust that their answers are 100% bullshit free.

Okay, so maybe more like 80%.

FOOD > EXERCISE

Not saying that you shouldn’t exercise, but when it comes to significant weight loss (25 lbs or more) it’s all about what you’re putting in your mouth.  Most big people don’t get that way because they aren’t moving enough but because they are eating too much.

DIETING ≠ NOT EATING

Look, people, I can’t stress this enough: Starving is not a diet regime, it is an international health problem and a killer of men, women and sadly children everywhere.  If you stop eating, your metabolism will slow to a crawl and your body will eat itself (fat, muscle, bone, organs) until you die.

THE REAL FOUR FOOD GROUPS

Using the analogy that your body is a car:

Protein – What the car of you is made of.
Carbohydrates – The gas the car of you runs on.
Fiber – The cleanser and maintenance on the car of you.
Fat – The oil of the car of you.

WATER – DRINK IT!

I don’t care how much water you think you’re drinking, you should be drinking more of it.  Milk, tea, coffee, soda, liquor (my love); all of these can and in most cases should be thrown out the window.  Just switching from soda to water will help you lose five pounds.  So drink more water.  Drink so much water, it’s uncomfortable.

YOU ARE MEAT

You are made of protein, so you should eat a lot of it.  Chicken, eggs and fish are great sources.  If you vegan or “animal friendly”, there are also seeds, nuts, beans and lentils.  If you’re, you know, normal, then there is also pork .and beef.  Try to stick with those first three though.

CARBS AIN’T BAD

The entire biological world runs on what carbs provide – glucose.  Who are you to argue with nature?

"I HATE YOU TREES!"

There are two kinds: simple (white bread, rice, sugar) and complex (roots, bran, oatmeal).  Each is good (although too much of the simple and you’re asking for trouble) and you should be eating both.

FIBER

A kind of carb that helps to “clean” you out.  It helps “flush” your system.  It aides in “making you poo”.  Also available in two kinds, just like carbs: Insoluable, which brings the swift movement of bowels, and soluable which helps regulate your insulin levels.

FAT GETS A BAD WRAP

There are three kinds of fat: Polyunsaturated fats (good fats, found in fish, nuts and leafy greens), mono-unsaturated (okay fats, founds in meat, dairy and avacados), and saturated fats (evil, heart-killing, tom-peeping, moustache-twisting fats, found in butter, lard and cream).  Try to get as much as you can of the polys, and stay away from the last group, no matter how good they make things taste.

SMALLER PORTIONS MEAN SMALLER TUMMIES

Your metabolism (the rate at which your body uses energy) is like a fire: If you feed it too much at once, you’re fire will be nothing more the embers.  Feed it too little, and your fire dies.  Feed your fire a reasonable amount of fuel every few hours and you will have a fire that could burn down the Boreal Forest.  Eat five small meals a day, spaced out two or three hours from each other, and you’ll stoke your fire and shed pounds.

"I can feel the fat just MELTING off!"

TIME FOR A PLAN

Your diet should consist of mostly leafy greens and other vegetables, and fruits, which should comprise almost half of your diet.  Next comes protein, which I think should take about a quarter of your diet.  The rest of the space should be taken up by complex carbs and fiber, and what little is left can be taken up by simple carbs and fat.  How you decide to fulfill these requirements is up to you.

TO EAT IS DIVINE, TO SNACK IS A SIN

Snacking is the mindless consumption of food that has nothing to do with hunger.  Train your brain to recognize the difference between wanting food and actual hunger.  If you must snack, then turn towards low calorie foods like dried fruit, nuts, or (my favorite) homemade popcorn.

SMOOTHIES ARE A GIFT FROM GOD

Replacing one of your meals with smoothies made from loads of fruit, milk (or soy milk), whey protein powder, nuts, seeds, oatmeal and anything else you can jam in a blender and drink will help load your body with vitamins and nutrients while not sending your calories count sky high, will help keep you fuller longer and will pep you up in the morning a lot quicker than that cup of coffee.

I haven’t told a joke in a while, so here is a picture of a giant rubber ducky.

Those are the basics.  After this I’m going to start talking about exercise more and how it relates to weight-loss.  As with the food portion, I will start off on the broad themes and then narrow down to specifics you’ll want to narrow in on.  After I’m done with that, I’ll go about bringing the two groups together and the way to create a personalized weight-loss plan.  There are other things I want to talk about when it comes to food (like dairy, and vitamins) but I’m still researching those and coming to understand where it fits into my diet, and I don’t want to blog anything regarding weight-loss if I haven’t been through it myself.

And that’s the key to most of the tips above, that I came to them through my own experiences.  I’m not a fit trainer who has had a perfect body their entire lives berating you on your screw ups, nor am I a doctor trying to push some pill or a “entrepreneur” trying to get you to buy into the new fad.  I am a guy who has lost 80 – 90 lbs over the last nine years.  Controlling my weight is a continuing struggle for me every day.  I still have the Fat Voice in my head telling me I’m not worth the trouble, I still have the urge to eat when I’m not hungry, and my emotions are still at the mercy of the scale.  But I haven’t given up.  This isn’t about being thinner, it’s about being able to live life without fear or regret, and if you are on the same road (or trying to start on the path) I’m here to cheer you on and let you know that it is worth it.  That you are worth it.

. . . . .

Okay, officer.  Can I go now?  One more joke?  Geez.  Fine, here’s a drawing of a turkey in a bottle.

Diet: Food – Shakes/Smoothies

(This post is late, I know, but the State of the Union happened, and then friends called me from the bar, and then we hung out at some dude’s apartment after driving aimlessly for a bit, and then I talked with my roommates for a couple hours once I got home.  But I worked hard to get this to you as soon as I could, a.k.a doing this instead of the work my employer is paying me to do.  Don’t tell them that I’m doing that, btw.)

All right, we’re almost done with the basics of what you need to know about food in order to start losing weight.  Or, to put it more correctly, we’re reaching the end of what I know about food when it comes to weight-loss.  And in retrospect, I don’t know as much as I thought I did.  I should take this time to mayhap cover my ass and state that I am in no way a professional (I’m not even an amateur, which implies a sort of desire to be professional; I am an anti-professional), and that before you begin any sort or drastic change in your diet, exercise routine and standard of living you should probably consult with your doctor/nutritionist/someone who at least attended a class of pre-med.  I’d hate to think of someone going out and just rushing into a weight-loss plan that I suggested, only to end up hurting themselves in the process.

But it’s most likely that no one has done that, right?  I mean honestly, how many people take me that seriously –

Oh. Oh my. Ahem. Moving on . . .

This is the main reason that I haven’t detailed out an exact meal plan for you.  I’ve stated before that everybody has to discover what works best for them, but that isn’t just about personal preferences.  There are food allergies, food intolerances, and specific dietary needs of those with various other diseases and conditions.  I love almonds, they are one of the glorious superfoods that has helped me lose a lot of weight, but one of my best friends is deathly allergic to them.  He can eat his weight twice over in peanuts, but one almond and he dies . . . or so he says.  How can you go 25 years on this earth and never have an almond?  A strange and dangerously irrational part of my mind wonders if someone just lied to him at some point in his childhood to see how gullible children are.  I’ve imagined crushing up an almond and slipping it into his cereal to see if anything really happens –

Sometimes it's just not worth being my friend.

That means what was great for me won’t work for him because he’ll die.  And just past the food allergies we have the food intolerances, things as the lactose (milk) intolerant or the gluten (wheat) intolerant.  These poor bastards don’t have the enzymes in their bodies to be able to break down and absorb the proteins in things like dairy and wheat.  A cup of yogurt or a slice of toast won’t kill these unfortunate sonsabitches, just make them extremely sick.  If you can’t sit down and have a cookie and ice cream every now and then without getting gassy and/or bloated with a bad stomach ache, then . . . well shit.  That just makes me sad.

Then there are people who have diseases or other conditions that dictate their eating habits.  I know a few people with diabetes so severe they have to not only watch their sugar intake but be acutely aware of every single carbohydrate they consume.  With conditions like ulcers or stomach cysts, anything with even the slightest of acids (including strawberries and tomatoes) can set off huge bouts of pain.  I have stayed away with giving advice on detailed meal plans because there are more people with these conditions than you would think, and if you try to create a diet regime that your body is going to reject/have an aggressive reaction to you are setting yourself up for failure.  You need to create a plan that does challenge you, but not at the expense of your overall health.  That is the bad way to lose weight.

But because I am a pain in the ass and must always take a contrary position even if it’s against myself, having said that I am going to highly recommend that you include one particular meal in your diet at least once a day.   It was a huge stepping stone for me, and without it I would not have been able to overcome the last 30 or so pounds that I lost.  It has been a major part of most successful weight-loss programs I have encountered, and it’s easy as all hell to make for yourself.

Smoothies and Shakes

After waking up in the morning, the first thing I reach for (after drinking a jug of water, doing fifty push-ups and browsing the internet for twenty minutes) if a protein shake.  A mixture or fruit, protein powder and milk is all I need to perk me up and get me ready for the day.  Now some of you may be asking, “What is the difference between shakes and smoothies?”  Well it’s a big difference, and it mostly has to do with dairy.

HAIRSPLITTER!

Now now, just keep your mouth shut if you happen to hate the subtle distinctions in life.  It may be the difference of one ingredient, but that one ingredient can make all the difference.

Smoothies are liquid meals that are comprised mostly of fruit and juice (which is just refined fruit) that are thick, viscous, chunky and extremely flavorful drinks.  Packed full of all the vitamins, antioxidants and a plethora of other beneficial qualities that come with fruit, smoothies can help your body obtain dire nutrients it may be missing out on if your diet regime is very restrictive.  Shakes (or protein shakes if you want to refer to them by their scientific name)  are drinks that are highly dairy based, contain a good portion of some kind of protein powder (creatin, soy, whey, etc.) and help the body replenish its cache of  more basic nutrients such as protein (do you see the reasoning behind the name protein shakes) and carbohydrates.

Now smoothies may contain dairy, such as yogurt, and the best shakes will contain lots of fruit.  But the biggest difference between these two categories goes further than ingredients; the difference has to do with intention.   Smoothies are more about vitamins and rejuvenation and shakes are more about the body’s basic building blocks and repairing.

Making a smoothie is insanely simple.  Take fruit, put it in a blender, and press frappe until any semblance of a solid is gone.  Any fruit will do, but citrus, apples and apple like fruits don’t really play all to well in the mix because of their texture and acidity.  But berries, bananas, mangoes, pineapples (which is a citrus, I know, but then . . . then . . . SHUT UP) and pretty much every other fruit out there will blend nicely.  To make it easier to drink (because simply blending fruit will leave you with a paste that is thicker that wet cement) you can add things like juice, soy milk and plain old regular milk, but if you don’t mind chewing your smoothie then this isn’t a problem.

"This smoothie is great. It's almost like I'm actually chewing all of that fruit myself!"

Making a shake is simpler (protein + milk + shake = food), if not a wee bit more pricey as you will have to buy some sort of protein powder to create it.  There are a ton of different protein powders out there, and some of them are just powder kegs of (powder keg, protein powder, get it?  get it?) of high calories designed for athletes.  In general, look for simple whey powder that doesn’t have a whole lot of special flavors added to it, opting for the bland stuff.  It won’t come with a lot of sugar and other additives that you probably don’t need if your not training to be able to pull a herd of sleeping elephants up Mount Everest.  It also won’t come with a whole lot of flavor this way, so adding things like some berries or cocoa powder is a good idea.

And it will make you feel like a scietist in a lab while you measure everything out.

To either of these options can be added a never-ending array of goodies to help improve the flavor and the impact of the drink.  Want a little bit more protein?  Add some peanut butter.  Want a fresh tang?  Add some yogurt.  A little drop of vanilla extract and honey will add some sweetness to party without sending your sugar intake too high.  You can even add things you never thought you would want in drink form, such as green and leafy vegetables.  It may sound a little disgusting (because it is) but when blended with a banana, strawberries and soy milk, you won’t much notice that cup of broccoli and spinach you tossed in there.

But if all the ingredients are more or less interchangeable, why is there a distinction between the two?  Can’t you make one super glorious smoothieshake instead of choosing one or the other?  Why are you hounding me about making a decision?!  LEAVE ME ALONE!

See? This is what happens when you question my authority - MADNESS

The reason for the distinction is, as I said before, about intent.  For the most part, if your aim is to lose weight you should be drinking more smoothies.  They are low calorie meal that will fill you up, keep you full, and provide a daily dose of fruits.  Shakes are geared more towards being pre and post workout meals, providing your body with protein, carbohydrates and, yes, calories, that you have burned off during rigorous exercise.  Shakes are designed to have more calories in them for this exact purpose, so to drink them as a daily meal if you’re not working out hard is counter productive as you will be filling your body with extra calories and not reaping the benefits from them.

For myself, I tend to drink more shakes than smoothies, although fruit still plays a big part in my concoctions.

– Cup of strawberries
– ½ of vegetables
– Protein Powder (Whey, Non-Flavored)
– Oatmeal (Ground into a Powder because I can’t understand things that aren’t in powder form)
– 1 ½ Cups of Non-Fat Milk
– Tbsp of Low Fat Peanut Butter
– ½ Tbsp of Cocoa Powder (Non-Sweetened)

It is a perfect way to start the day, filling you with all sorts of good stuff that will wake you up faster than that lousy cup of coffee your coworkers make, will help battle your morning hunger pangs to keep help keep you away from those delicious looking donuts sitting next to that crappy coffee, and it tastes great.  I have no joke to add on to that last part.  They just taste great, and that should be enough.

Will you have to buy a blender (or one of those magic bullet type of things) to make these?  Well, yes, but I never said the road to weight-loss was free.  But it is money well invested, and you’ll still spend less than if you went to a Robeks or Jamba Juice and got your smoothies everyday from them.

As I said before, smoothies/shakes helped me lose a good portion of my weight, and even when I am not focusing on weight-loss it is still a big part of my daily diet.  They just work.  And once you start drinking them, the sound of a blender in the morning will be like music to your ears.  Loud, crunching, whirring, mechanical chopping music.

Diet: Food – Snacks

I’m being good.  I’ve eaten my five meals; all small, spaced two to three hours apart, and mostly vegetables, fruits and grilled chicken.  I’m . . . I guess I’m feeling good.   I’m doing this weight-loss thing right.  I have more energy, that’s for sure .  I’ve gotten all the nourishment that my body needs to survive, and it’s the right kind  . . . . . why then, oh Christ and the Man-Jesus, why then am I STILL FUCKING HUNGRY?!

People in first world countries have to deal with a problem that, frankly, should be a crime until it is a problem for every person in every nation in the entire world: we have too much food.  The real issue is that most of that food goes to waste when we have children in this country who are going hungry, but that’s not what I’m talking about right now.  I’m talking about a behavior that develops by having whatever you want to eat available to you 24/7, and is one of the biggest factors of weight gain and obesity: Snacking.

Now I’m not talking about the mid-morning and afternoon snacks that I described in last week’s post.  Those aren’t snacks so much as they are meals.  What I am talking about is the mindless eating of whatever food happens to be around you.  It’s that midnight craving that will send you eating that gallon of ice cream in the back of your freezer, or the realization that you finished a whole econo-sized bag of tortilla chips while watching the game.  It’s that full box of oreos calling your name, incessantly, until you wharf down every single last one of them, which is what Cookie Monster goes through every single day of his life.

They scream when he eats them, too.

For the large, eating is not about hunger, it’s about compulsion.  In all honesty, a large person doesn’t know what real hunger is because they have enough fat stored in them to live off of for a season.  When I was hungry, my body was never truly in need of energy since I had such a cache around my butt.

That's not what I mean, and you know it.

But our brains, those brilliant and tricky motherfuckers, look around and see all of this food just sitting there like it owns the place.  This just ticks our brains off for some odd reason, and even though our stomachs are not crying out in hunger pangs, our brains trick us by saying its sensing ghrelin, which is the hormone that causes us to feel hungry, and away we go.  This can be dangerous because the larger you get, the more and more your brain stops recognizing when your stomach is actually producing ghrelin, and it may even stop recognizing leptin, which is the chemical your body creates to tell the brain it is no longer in need of sustenance.  This can happen very rapidly as the more you eat unconsciously, the more you start to see snacks as non-meals.

How many times have you eaten an entire bag of chips in the afternoon, only to sit down at the dinner table and eat a big meal?  Or munched on some cookies about a half hour before going to lunch?  We delude ourselves into thinking that what we’re eating is not an actual meal, that “snack food” is different than normal food and shouldn’t be entered into the equation, but that’s just not so.  Everything you eat has to be considered a meal because that is what your body is treating it as.  If you are trying to lose weight you must look at every single thing you put into your mouth as if it is part of your last (or next) meal.

But saying is a hell of a lot easier than doing in this case, as it takes a long time to retrain your brain to only make you feel hungry when you actually are.  The other part of the problem is we have also developed an addiction to the instant gratification of the fatty snacks that are either crunchy or gooey or creamy or crispy.  It is the need to taste something salty or sweet, to hear that crunch, to chew for a few brief moments and to feel something go down your throat.   This means that to snack on something healthy, let’s say some salad, doesn’t appeal to those snacking cravings because it won’t give us those sensations.  Have you ever opened the fridge to find something to eat, and although your fridge is fully stocked with a whole bunch of stuff that is good for you, you close the door and claim out loud that there is “Nothing to eat”?

Yes, you have.  Don’t fucking lie, you fucking liar.  You’ve done it three times today.  You can’t fool me.  I know.

. . . I was watching you . . .

We do this because we don’t really want food; we’re not even hungry.  What we want are those sensations, to be gratified, to be satisfied, and that has nothing to do with being hungry.

Now the simple thing to do would just be to just stop snacking, but I have tried this and all I found was a good motivator to go out on the street and steal food from anyone who happened to be walking by.

"Give me the ice cream, you little bitch! I'LL PUNCH YOU!"

You can’t just go off snack food cold turkey because it is a behavior, because they are habits that we have formed and reinforced over our lives and they can’t be dashed away in a matter of a few weeks.  We need to find some snacks that can satisfy our lust for those sensations but that don’t keep us fat at the same time.  After a lot of trial and error, I have found some foods to use as snacking material while trying to lose weight.

Dried Fruit – (Sweet, Chewy or Crunchy, Poppable).  Any fruit that has been dehydrated is a great snack food because their textures run from chewy (prunes, raisins, cranberries) to crispy and crunchy (apples, bananas).  Fruit also becomes sweeter and their flavor more intense when dried, so they can really help satisfy those of you with a sweet tooth.  The down side is that because the fruit is smaller it gives the illusion that they have less calories, which is not true, and it’s easy to over do it.  Before you know it, you have eaten the equivalent of three big bowls of fruit and that’s 2 and ⅞ bowls too much.

Seaweed, Kale Chips– (Salty, Crispy/Crunchy, Dippable).  Both seaweed and kale are loaded with nutrients (kale is the most nutritious leafy green out there), and when dried become extremely crunchy and very chip-like.  They are also extremely low on calories, so eating a whole bag won’t hit your waste line as much.  The bad part is the taste.  Whenever I eat these, I think, “So this is what dead leaves taste like”, which always inspires the nom nom noms in me.

nom nom nom

But they are also dippable so flavor can be masked, although the moment you dip these things in nacho cheese is the moment you start adding fat to your body again.

Nuts and Seeds – (Salty, Crunchy, Poppable).  Nuts and seeds are a perfect snack food as not only are they loaded with omega-3 fats, but they are also packed full with protein and vitamins, and are filling as a handful can hold you over for hours.  Almonds are considered one of nature’s “superfoods” and I personally always keep some around.  Peanuts are also good, as is peanut butter, which can help sate those “creamy” cravings.  The down side is they are still filled with fat and if you’re not careful you can over it do it just like the fruit.  And depending on which kind of nuts we’re talking about (cashews, macadamias, Brazil nuts), the fat content might outweigh the good attributes.

Popcorn– (Salty, Crunchy, Poppable).  I’m not talking about popcorn that you cook in a microwave or that comes in those large tins and split into three flavors.  I’m talking about air-popped popcorn or popcorn that you cook yourself on a stove top.  Popcorn is high in fiber, tremendously low in calories, and leaves you extremely full.  You can shovel in this stuff by the handful and never feel guilty.  The down side is that the flavor of popcorn can leave much to be desired.

These might just have more flavor than dry popcorn.

This means you have to add flavor to it, and that’s where fat can easily sneak back into the party.  But if done right, you’ll end up with the best snack food for weight loss.  All you need is a ¼ cup of unpopped kernels, a tablespoon of oil (vegetable is standard, but any oil will do), a ¼ teaspoon of salt, and five minutes.

  1. Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan on high.  Place four kernels in the oil, and cover.
  2. Swirl around the pot to coat the kernels, and when all four pop, take the pot off the heat, uncover, and dump in the rest of the kernels.
  3. You want to coat all the kernels with oil evenly, so carefully swirl the kernels in the oil, off the heat, for at least forty seconds.  You’ll see the kernels get much lighter in color.  After the swirling, leave the pot off the heat, letting the kernels cook for a minute or so.
  4. After a minute, it’s time to add your salt (use popcorn salt, or ultra fine salt.  If you can’t find it in the store, you can always stick some in the blender and make it yourself.)  This is also the time when you would add butter or some other fat, and where you could end up ruining the health benefits of the popcorn.  You don’t have to add anything, but your popcorn will most likely come out very chewy and fibrous.  I have found a little bit of fat can make the popcorn lighter and can also help spread the salt to every bite.  While the animal fats like butter or bacon fat can make your popcorn tremendously tasty, there are a slew of other oils (like sesame oil or olive oil) that are healthier and add major flavor to the popcorn.  No need to measure this, as you won’t need much more than 1/8 of a teaspoon.
  5. Once you have added your salt and oil, cover and place the pot back on high heat.  Swirl to coat the kernels, and then let it sit.  You want to make sure you have a cover that will let out steam, as the popcorn will be gummy if the steam is trapped in there with it.  Once the kernels begin to pop, start swirling the pot over the heat.  You need to keep it moving or else your will burn your popcorn and be left with many unpopped kernels.
  6. The instant the popping has stopped, transfer the popcorn to a bowl.  You won’t need to add salt as they will be tasty enough.  However, you could add a dash of cayenne pepper, or perhaps some powered ginger, if you wanted a little more kick.

Popcorn is my favorite snack food while losing weight. And if it’s air-popped, you could eat bowl after bowl of the stuff without fear of repercussion.  But even with that, the bigger part of the fight is the mentality, and if you are trying to lose a lot of weight you will have to teach yourself about moderation and self control, two things that snacking does not help with.  These foods can help ease the transition and conquer those initial cravings, but they are not a solution.  The solution is not just about replacing bad foods with good ones, it is also about only eating when you need to.  The day you can go without having to snack at all is the day you take the next step to changing your life.

Diet: Food – Regime

Oh, to be on an aggressive diet regime again.  Eating on an exact schedule, restricting the size of my meals to what can fit in the palms of my hands, no chips, white bread or liquor (no liquor except on the weekends, I’m not trying to be Jack Lalanne over here), and drinking enough water to make me think a magical portal has opened up at the edge of Niagara Falls and is redirecting its massive flow into my urethra.  But I also have more energy, more money since I don’t have to buy as much food either at the store or with eating out, and much more time.  Sure, I’m eating more frequently during the day, but the meals are tiny and don’t take that long to cook, if they need time at all.  And I’m using all the time that’s on my hands to imagine the different ways I would kill a person if they tried to get in between me and a juicy, delicious hamburger.  My favorite right now is where I simply ditch my quest for the burger and just eat the poor soul who’s getting in my way because when you first start a new regime you will eat anything, absolutely anything,until your body and mind have adjusted.

Is that pyrite? Sweet, scrumptious pyrite?

But it can also be a struggle before you even begin because crafting your diet is a very involved process and can be quite difficult.  It’s all well and good to know what each food is and what it does, when you should eat and how much, and what you should avoid, but that doesn’t help you figure out what you are actually going to eat.  That’s because there is a lot of options to choose from, and what works for me might not work for you.  So let’s take a look at another important concept of nutrition that will help a little in what you’ll be choosing for yourself.

THE CALORIE

How often have you gone to a box of cereal, a can of soup, or a bag of crackers, turned it around to find the nutrition label, and then promptly put it back because you spied that the calorie count of said item was too high?  Now ask yourself, honestly, if you understood what the hell that number meant.  I’m going to jump the gun a bit –

No, I didn't mean that. Fuck, you're literal.

– and presume you have no idea what the hell it meant.  That’s okay, no one does, and even when they hear the answer they’re not too sure of what to make of it.  A calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram (a little more than two pounds) of water by 1° Celsius (about 2° Fahrenheit), which is about 4.2 kilojoules (a more standard measurement of energy).

. . . uhh, is anyone still there?

Yeah, it seems like that definition is not very helpful, but it’s helping tremendously as to letting you know what that food is going to be doing for you and by how much.  If a cookie has 800 calories, other than being an incredibly luxurious cookie, it’s also going to be giving you about 3,360 kilojoules.  That’s enough energy to run an X-Box for nine hours.  That cookie is a day’s work as a videogame tester.  Sadly, we can not plug our entertainment systems into a slice of pie –

yet -

– as to gain access to that pie’s energy it must first be processed by your body and converted.  But that’s what calories are, energy, energy for you to help you run your body.   Once again, the world has demonized another nutritional necessity in their eagerness to put the blame of our fat asses on anything but ourselves.

But how does this help you decide what you are going to eat?  Well, it’s only a portion of the equation.  The human body is constantly burning calories as it takes energy to run your brain, heart, lungs and other organs, muscles and everything else.  Add on top of that any energy you might use up walking, or sneezing, or talking, or peeing or reading, and you’re eating up a lot of calories in the day.

Looking at these tiny turtles is burning calories.

Through a day of just sitting in a chair the human body uses up about 2,000 calories.  That number changes, of course, depending on your sex, age, height, weight and activity level, but it’s about right for a normal person.  That means that to keep your body from eating itself you will have to consume around 2,000 calories a day just to keep everything running like normal.  It gives you a number, a goal to focus on, and in dieting and weight-loss goals are very important (which I’ll talk about in a later post).  But with this goal we now have a rough guideline as to how much we should be taking in.

So that should be easy, right?  Meet that daily requirement and you’ll be set.  Yeah, and I shit ice cream and can light a fire with my mind.  You see, the problem is that our stomachs are not wired to let us know when we have gotten enough calories for the day, they are wired to tell us when they are full, and they’re not even good at that.  It takes twenty minutes for your stomach to send signals to your brain saying it’s full and then receive signals back telling you to stop eating.  You could have had an entire double-chocolate cake in those twenty minutes.

And trust me, it takes me a waaaaaaaay lot less than twenty minutes to down this sucker.

If you go to have breakfast at IHOP and you order the Colorado Omelet with pancakes (using their delicious blueberry syrup) and two cups of coffee with cream, you will have just ordered more than 1,500 calories.  If you eat that entire thing (and if you do, you’re an insane, unbridled animal) you will have consumed almost a day’s worth of calories and it’s not even 11 o’clock!  When you fill your system with more calories than it needs, it won’t turn those calories into energy but store them for later use, at which point you have to change pant sizes. You need to find the foods that will fill you up without sending your caloric intake sky high.

This is where our knowledge of different foods comes into play.  Carbohydrates give you tons of energy, but they don’t fill you up very well so by the time you are full you have eaten too much (a.k.a. pasta overload), so you’ll have to be careful.  Protein fills you up, but it can also come with a healthy dose of fat, so we’re going to have to limit ourselves to certain kinds (chicken, fish and eggs).  Fiber is extremely filling and also has the bonus of being a carb at the same time, so we’ll definitely want those.  And out of that group, fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients, fill you up, taste good and are extremely low in calories.

Are you starting to see a regime forming?  I know I can.  If you can’t, then you may need to go out and buy special glasses that keep your eyes wide open because it’s not that hard to see.  You shouldn’t even be surprised, as this kind of diet is what a lot of people nowadays are saying you should be on anyway.

"Do you see it yet? Should I make them wider?"

You’re going to want to make veggies and fruits the corner stone of your diet.  After that, you’ll want to put in a lot of protein (think a filet of mahi mahi, or two boiled eggs, or a chicken breast).  After that you can add some carbohydrates, the more fibrous the better (oatmeal, whole wheat, brown rice, bran).  And with whatever room you have left you can fill in with some happy food to help keep you sane (something like a piece of dark chocolate, a glass of wine, or one of those cute mini-muffins).  An example of a diet regime might be:

  • Breakfast – A cup of cooked Oatmeal with Strawberries and Blueberries.
  • Mid-Morning Snack – A Granny-Smith Apple and a Boiled Egg.
  • Lunch – Grilled Chicken Salad with Cranberries.
  • Afternoon Snack – Baby Carrots and Peanut Butter
  • Dinner – Tuna, Mixed Greens and Cheddar Cheese in a Tortilla

The possibilities are truly endless.  This is also where no one else can help you.  You will have to stumble blindly for awhile until you find what works best for you.  I found that it was too easy for me to eat lots of eggs and rice so those things have been stricken for my daily diet, but those may be the only things that end up working for you.

This hits on another important idea that I will talk about later: your regime will, and must, evolve.  You’re not going to get your perfect diet on the first go.  It took me years to get my diet to a place where it helped me lose the most weight while providing me with the most nutrients.  Part of that was me coming to terms with what I thought was okay to eat but was actually setting me back.  Pasta is a great way to carb up before running a marathon, but I’m not running marathons, or running for that matter.  Shit I barely walk, so it didn’t make sense for me to have pasta in my diet.  Sausage was hard to let go.  The day I stopped drinking liquor to help my diet, I cried myself to sleep.  This is why weight-loss has to be about the long run; you need to time to investigate, to challenge your ideas, battle your desires, and come to an educated conclusion.  And every time you change one part of your diet you will have to re-balance all the other meals again.  You need time to get it wrong so you can get it right.

And yet there are tips and guidance that I can give that seems to work with a lot of people.  There are more tips than this, but you’ve got a lot on your plate (and ironically, it’s an empty plate that’s the issue), these are just a few to help you get started.

– Instead of trying to make each meal 400 calories (2,000 calories for the day split into five meals), make your snacks smaller so that your breakfast, lunch and dinner can be bigger.
– Fill your morning with fruit.  It’s packed full of fiber, is very filling, and the sugars in the fruit will help pep you up for the day.
– Leafy greens don’t have to be eaten in a salad only.  Making a sandwich?  Use spinach instead of iceberg lettuce.  Having some rice?  Chop up mixed greens and throw them in, you’ll barely know they are there.
– Save the carbohydrates for lunch and the afternoon snack.  It’ll give you a boost of energy to make it through that afternoon grogginess.
– Design lunch and/or dinner to be the easiest meal to make.  After a long day at work, the last thing you really want to think about is what kind of healthy meal to make, which is when pizza, chicken wings and a liter of coke starts to looks really good.
– Use standard measuring tools (scale, measuring cups and spoons) until you can tell how much food you are putting on your plate by eye.  Once you’re trained to see a cup of rice and 4 oz. of chicken, it’ll never go away.
– Every time you start to get hunger pangs, drink a huge of glass of water and wait for five minutes.  You’ll find more often than not that you are no longer hungry, although you may still want to eat an entire double-chocolate cake.  When it comes to that, just remember being healthy and losing weight feels a lot better than fat tastes.

And this shit tastes REALLY good.

Diet: Food – Portion Sizes

Ahhh, a new year.  A time to celebrate the memories of the past 365 days.  A chance to rejoice in the possibilities that lay before us.  A precipice that we stand on, overlooking a vast empty void that we fill with hopes and promises to ourselves, only to ignore, forget, or some how else dash those hopes asunder and replace them with laziness and regret.

Once again, your unending optimism inspires us all, Ms. Debbie Downer.

But it’s also an opportunity to work off all of the pounds you may have gained over the holiday season, what with it’s mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, buttered rolls, so much ham and turkey you morph into a part-man-part-bird-part-pig mutant, wine and beer; where the most extreme physical activity you take part in is trying to unbutton your pants before you pass out on the dinner table and your face lands in the gravy boat.  And don’t try denying you didn’t put on weight.  If you spent both thanksgiving and Christmas (or their equivalents if you practice another faith or live in a different country, in which case explain to me kilometers because I don’t understand the metric system) with your family, odds are you ate tons of food without exercising that much because it’s hard to go for a jog when you’re stomach is so full that food is coming out of your ears.  I myself gained about 15 pounds since the beginning of the holiday season and am I depressed about it? Fuckin A’ I’m depressed about it, but let us not wallow in the negatives.  It’s a new year, by God, so let us look forward to better days and all that crap.

I’ve talked about attitude, education, the food groups and why the food you thought was bad is actually good for you.  This is important stuff to know, but none of it speaks directly to the actual act of dieting.  I have avoided the topic of a diet regime on purpose because although you may be beginning to understand food, you are missing a key element in the “Dieting for Weight-Loss” chain.  But I also understand that you may be sick of me just talking about losing weight instead giving you insight on how to actually do it, so to appease both your need for knowledge and my need to show off, today I will give you one of the most important weight-loss components while sating my appetite to be long-winded.

Honestly, I’m starting to feel like the adults from “Peanuts”.

Before we begin talking about what and how much you should be putting into your face, we need to discuss how your body is going to process all that food.  The procedure in which your body converts food into energy and how that energy is used is called metabolism.  How fast you turn food into energy, how fast your body uses that energy, and how it stores energy for later use is all dictated by your metabolism.  This is a word you’ve probably heard many times before and it’s usually given credit for being the key factor into how big or small a person is.  This is a partial truth, as your metabolic rate (or the pace at which your body burns calories) plays a crucial role in your overall weight.  But many people use metabolism either as a scapegoat for not being able to lose weight, or as a cover for not understanding why they are able to stay thin.  From what these people say, your metabolism is a set and done deal.  If you were born with a low (or high) metabolism, it’s going to stay that way for the rest of your life.

“One will be like a bean pole, and the other will be as large as alpha centauri. We’ve started a pool of which will be which.”

This isn’t true.  While your metabolism is affected (sometimes greatly) by genetics, age, sex and body mass, it isn’t set in stone.  Your metabolism is malleable, changeable, possible to alter and boost.  Because the science behind metabolism is complex and riddled with words I could never hope to understand, I am going to use one of my patented similes/metaphors to help the misguided masses understand how to control your metabolism.  The comparison is also going to make it easier for me to find humorous pictures to heighten the entertainment value of this post, as when you type “metabolism” into google, you get pictures like these:

It looks like a waterpark ride.

Your metabolism is like a campfire within your body, trying to burn bright in a cold forest night (how do you like THAT rhyme for poetic prose?), the logs on the fire is the food that you put into your body, and the poor, freezing campers around the fire is your body.

We have yet to know whether the dog is part of the campers or one of the wood pieces.

Depending on how big and how hot your fire is, the happier your poor campers are going to be.  Likewise, the bigger and hotter your metabolism is, the more fat you’re going to burn.  Now if you have never been camping nor built a sustainable fire, you might think that to control the fire is as simple as lighting a match and placing a log on top of it.  If you do think that, go outside and try it out.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait, I have a crossword I want to finish anyway.

Does anyone know an eight-letter word for “Egg Sucker”?

Did you try it?  Yeah, that didn’t work too well, did it?  You see, unless you already have a roaring fire, placing a big log on top of it is going to make it burn slower as the fire tries to convert this huge chunk of wood into useable energy.  If you’re not careful, your fire will slowly die to a few burning embers and a lot of smoke.  This is what it’s like when you eat a big meal: it’s like tossing a huge log on a tiny fire.  Your metabolism is going to slow down and stop burning so it can concentrate on converting the food into energy.  If you’re not careful and you put more food into your body before it has had time to process and use the energy from the previous meal, it’s going to store that previous meal instead of use it.

All that butter has to go somewhere, dammit.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is putting too little on your fire.  It’s a simple equation: Fire + Wood = Heat.  You take wood out of that equation and you won’t even have slow burning embers, you’ll have a pile of ash.  This is why starvation doesn’t work; sure, your fire will start to burn the fat that’s there if you don’t put in any more, but it’s going to die before it can finish the job.  What you need is a middle ground, portions that aren’t so big they smother your metabolism but big enough that they will keep your metabolism going.

And this is where my very first piece of practical dieting advice comes into play:  Eat small meals, but eat moreof them.  If you eat small meals (the actual size of the meal should be able to fit into the cupped palms of your hands) –

– like such –

– every two or three hours, it will be like feeding your fire dried leaves, twigs and sticks of all sizes just at the time when it’s finished burning off the previous wood.  This will keep your metabolism very hot for the entire day which is a great thing because the hotter and longer that fire burns the more fat your going to lose.

Ah crap, I think I’m losing my grasp on this metaphor.

I’ll get into what these meals should be comprised of next time, but I want you to start getting used to the idea of eating five small meals a day, spaced about two to three hours a part.  In the beginning it’s going to drive you batty.  First, you’ll have to get used to planning your days completely around when you eat.  To really lose weight you must be fanatical about eating exactly on time, and the schedule can take some getting used to.  Second, you’re going to feel hungry all the time.  Trust me when I say that you’re not really hungry; our brains are fantastic at making us think we feel things when we really feel the exact opposite.  This is because you have constructed habits over a life time that say you need to eat three big meals a day, with maybe some snacks in between.  After awhile of eating this way, our brains become convinced that it’s the way it should be and will make you feel hungry even if you have met your caloric intake for the day.  It does this because we taught it to be that way.  Plus, our brains are dicks.

"I made out with your girlfriend and then stole $5."

“I made out with your girlfriend and then stole $5.”

But after your body and your mind adapt to the new regime you’ll find yourself having more energy throughout the day.  You’ll also find that you are starting to slim down.

So stoke that fire a little bit more and then throw these leaves on there.  You’re on your way to losing that weight in no time.

But seriously, an eight-letter word for “Egg Sucker”.  Anyone?

Diet: Food – Fat

Oh lord.  I . . . I can barely move.  So, just so much turkey.  And mac n cheese.  And mashed potatoes.  And that . . . I don’t know what that was . . . stuffing?   I’ve never seen stuffing made with cornbread before, although it’s not completely impossible for it to be made of – in any case, it was delicious.  So much food, so much drink.  That’s what the holidays are for, to eat, drink and be merry; a time period that is a gift to us mortals so we can slip into denial and believe nothing we do will affect us for the rest of the year.  It’s the only way we can sit down to a meal that is primarily starch and butter and stuff our faces until food is, literally, coming out of our ears.  So let us take this respite between such foolish eating habits and the crash of reality that travels with the coming of the New Year to look at the last food group on our list.

Most of you are going to go running away from fat, and I understand the impulse.  Even with all the weight I have lost, I still have a negative gut reaction when facing fat and that’s mostly because after spending most of my life overweight I ended up seeing fat like this –

"I . . . TASTE . . . GOOD!"

– and while that image was very effective at making me afraid of everything I put in my mouth, it wasn’t very effective at keeping me from putting it in my mouth.  It also wasn’t very open to understanding, as every time I tried to ask that image of fat what it was about, all it said was, “BLLLEEERRRRAAA-CHHHHHHAUUUUUGHHHH-HHHHPPTPBPTPBP-TPBTPBPPFTT!”  Now I’ve looked at a lot of different dictionaries in many different languages, and there really is no translation for that statement.  Because I was too afraid of fat, too eager to ignore how much of it covered my body, I was never able to conceive of all the good things fat does for me and why it is essential to life.

One reason it’s hard to understand fat is because its function is extremely technical.  With words like eicosanoids, endocannabinoids, lipoxins, resolvins, isofurans, neurofurans, isoprostanes, hepoxilins, epoxyeicosatrienoic acids and Neuroprotectin D, trying to read up on fat can feel more like reading a manual in some alien language on how to put a stove together that runs on zero-point energy by harnessing the power of a dying star.

Step 1 - Unpack all part of the stove. Step 2 - Gain a complete understanding of astrophysics. Step 3 - Get a screwdriver.

It’s also because there are many different kinds of fat, and until you memorize the lingo it’s all going to seem like a mish-mask of scientific sounding term that you will never fully accept as being actual words.

"I think you're making this shit up." - Big Toe, to the Middle Toe

While the explanations may be a tad scientific, the implications are very real.  So perk up your ears and put on your thinkin’ caps, because we’re diving into the fat until you know it like the back of your hand.  You may also want to put on a wet suit or else your pores are going to get clogged with grease that will be very hard to wash off.  Jumping into fat is kind of disgusting.

All fats are made up of triglycerides, which are compounds that are made of glycerol (a natural alcohol derivative) and three fatty acids (the part of fat our bodies burn for energy).  Each fatty acid has a certain number of spots open for use, and they are usually taken up by hydrogen molecules.  It’s important to understand this because depending on how many spots of those three fatty acids are filled with hydrogen dictates what kind of fat you’ll end up with.

SATURATED
Saturated fats are formed when all the spots on a fatty acid are taken up by hydrogen.

MONO-UNSATURATED
Mono-unsaturated fats are formed when only one of the spaces in the fatty acid is empty.

POLY-UNSATURATED
Poly-unsaturated fats are formed when multiple spots in the fatty acid are empty.

Each one of these has different effects on the body.  I’ll start off with the healthiest:

Poly-unsaturated fats are the best kind of fats for you.  They can help lower your insulin resistance which will help your body regulate the sugar level in your blood, and can also help prevent cardiovascular disease.  Poly-unsaturated fats also include the two essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 (don’t ask me why they are called that, I’ve been reading all day and I still don’t understand.  Listen, I use all my smarts in my head to operate my car without crashing, a feat I usually succeed at  . . . most of the time.)  Benefits of consuming these two fatty acids include, but are not limited to: strengthening blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, relieving arthritis, fighting depression, preventing strokes and helping fight cancer.  It won’t cure those things as nothing you eat is the magic “end all disease forever” food, but it will aide in the struggle against them.  Poly-unsaturated fats can be found in almost all nuts, seeds, leafy greens and fish, as well as the oils that are made from those things.

Mono-unsaturated is not as healthy as its poly brethren, but it’s still pretty good stuff.  The benefits of this one are mainly in lowering your cholesterol and can also reduce your risk of heart disease.  Fats included in this one are olive oil, whole grains, red meat, milk and high fat fruits like avocados.

Saturated fats are the baddies.  They are also, unfortunately, the best tasting ones of the entire bunch.  They increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and dyslipidemia, which is a higher fat content in the blood.

On the schoolyard, being "Fat-Blooded" works just as well as being "Big-Boned".

These can be found in butter, cream, cheese, lard, coconut oil (used a LOT on your popcorn at the movies) and palm oil.

Now there are also things called trans fat and cis fats, which are even worse for you than saturated fats.  They start off as unsaturated fats, with one or more spaces on the fatty acid chain empty.  But through a process called hydrogenation, where hydrogen is intentionally stuffed into those empty spaces, the unsaturated fat loses all health benefits and becomes extremely bad for you.

Now unless you memorize the list of all of the kinds of fats and their forms, it can get hard to tell which kind of fat you are buying.  There is a good rule of thumb however: Saturated fats (as well as the trans fats) are filled with hydrogen which gives a much more stable structure to the fat, where as mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are not as stable.  This is a me-being-smart-way of saying that saturated fats are usually solid (think butter, cheese, shortening and lard) and that the unsaturated fats are usually liquids (oils).  The thicker and heavy the fat is, the more likely it has more hydrogen.  A side note: one benefit to having more hydrogen in the fat is that is will have a much longer shelf life.  When there are open spots in the fatty acid, there are more chances that an unwanted molecule (like iron oxide) will take up the empty space and make the fat go rancid.  If all spots are filled with hydrogen, the evils molecules can’t get in and the fat will last longer.

If you are trying to lose weight, you’ll want to strive to fill your fat needs with those unsaturated fats, especially the poly-unsaturated.  You can delve into the saturateds every now and again, but start thinking of those fats as rewards for being good, as an “every now and then” sort of thing.  Try to stay far away from trans fats as you possibly can since the risks outweigh what small (if any) benefits they might hold.  The important thing to know is that you shouldn’t stop eating fat altogether.  For one, it’s impossible as every food has fat, but two, your body needs fat.  I’ve said that the number one source for biological energy is carbohydrates and that it’s your brain’s main source of fuel, which is true; and yet there are parts of your body, such as connective tissue, membranes, and certain organs (like the heart, which I think I read somewhere is slightly vital) that get their energy (as well as their composition) directly from fat.

Fat is not the enemy.  Food is never the enemy.  Food is your friend.  Sure, some of your friends end up being total dicks and do nothing but rob you and kick you in the nuts, but most of the food you will encounter is only try to help you, either by providing nutrients, organic building blocks for your body, or pure energy.  No, food is not your enemy.  Bad habits are your enemy, ignorance and fear are your enemies, shame is your enemy.  Fat is not that scary monster from the beginning; fat is like . . . well . . . like a big happy fat guy –

Yeah, like this guy.

– who wants nothing but for you to be healthy and happy.  And so do I.

Now go take a shower.  You’re covered in grease and it’s dripping on my carpet.

Diet: Food – Fiber

Wow, my 150th post.  Almost half a year of daily posts.  I tell you, it’s felt like climbing a great big fucking mountain posting original material every single day, a dangerous mountain filled with bears of writer’s block, moose of bad humor and mountain lions of . . . scariness.  I never thought I would be able to keep the blog going this long, but that’s mostly because I never thought I’d live this long.  So let me take a deep breath and gaze upon my journey thus far.

Okay, so it’s not as impressive as a full year of daily posts, but I’m still proud.  I’m doing my damnedest to touch, educate and entertain you, my faithful and most beautiful readers, and I’m going to try to continue to do so for as long as I can and on a regular basis.
And speaking of being regular . . .Fiber.  Nature’s broom.  The supreme diuretic.  The intestinal Heave-Ho.  The stomach’s eject button.  The place where time and toilet converge.  The noble betrayer.  The noisy elephant.

I'll admit, I made some of those up.

More than any other food on my list of necessities, fiber is the one that is usually the most misunderstood because it causes us to poop and pooping is something not everyone is comfortable with talking about in polite conversation.

" . . . and I was pushing so hard, I burst a blood vessel in my eye . . ."

I should probably put down the pictures and start writing.  Besides the pooping, the biggest reason people don’t get fiber is because we’re not taught what fiber really is.  Do you know what fiber looks like?  When I say the word fiber, the picture that probably forms in your mind is a bran muffin, or maybe some prunes, or perhaps a chunk of dead, dried wood.  For me, it was the one scene in “Ace Venture: Pet Detective” where Ace is confronted by his landlord and asked why he has all this pet food if he doesn’t have animals in his apartment.  To which Ace replies, “Fiber.”  You can see how this image of fiber being pet food made me kind of want to run away from the stuff as fast as I could, but you can’t run from fiber because the truth is much larger than all of those examples.

Fiber is the portion of plants that our bodies can not digest.  Our digestive systems lack the enzymes that would break down fiber and turn it into energy, and so fiber either speeds through our system or just takes a seat for awhile in our tummies.  This means that every time you eat something that was grown from a seed buried in the earth, you are eating fiber.  All (ALL) fruits, vegetables, raw grains and seeds have fiber in them.  When you think of it like this, you’ll realize people have been trying to get you to eat fiber your entire life, you just didn’t know it.  But what have I said?  This weight-loss thing has to start with understanding, so here is a crash course to help you get to know fiber.

Fiber = Carbohydrates

I hate to tell all you low-carb nuts out there, but all the plants and fruits you eat are primarily made up of carbohydrates, the difference being that the carbs in all those plants are fiber.  The good news is that since fiber can not be absorbed by our bodies like other carbs it can not be stored as fat.  But this also means your body can’t convert fiber into energy, so you’re still going to need that piece of bread.

There are Two Kinds of Fiber

Much like there are two kinds of carbohydrates (simple and complex), there are also two kinds of fiber, and each is important.  The first, and the kind that we think of when talking about fiber, is insoluble fiber.  These kinds of fiber do not soak up any water while they are in your body, which means they just pass right on through your system taking anything in its way along with it.  This is the so-called “Nature’s Broom”, and it adds bulk to your stool while at the same time making it softer so it’s easy to pass.

Passing one of these is no fun. TRUST ME.

But it’s not just about “making you regular” as the process also helps clean out your colon and any gunk that may have been sitting there for who knows how long.  Sources high in insoluble fiber include whole grains, wheat, corn, nuts, seeds, potato and tomato skins, and most green vegetables.  Consuming these on a regular basis will not only help keep you healthy and your system clear, but is will also make that  most dirtiest of dirty acts that we all must do everyday be as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Listen, I’m sorry, I tried, but there is literally no metaphor or simile, no adjectives, that I could have used that would not have been rendered absolutely disgusting in the previous sentence.

The other kind of fiber is soluble fiber, and this stuff is amazing.  Unlike it’s speedy brother, soluble fiber does soak up water, which causes it to turn into this sticky jelly-like substance that moves slowly through our system.  It is the tortoise to insoluble fiber’s hare, and it definitely wins the race of benefits.  It can help prevent cardiovascular disease, lowers cholesterol and may help prevent certain cancers (the gut and the booty kind of cancers).  But its biggest benefit is that because it is sticky and moves so slowly through our system, it changes the way our body absorbs minerals and other nutrients, most prominently glucose (sugar).  By slowing the rate at which our bodies absorb sugar, soluble fiber helps regulate the glucose and insulin levels in your blood, and can fight off diabetes.  Foods that are high in soluble fiber are oatmeal, broccoli, legumes, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and onions, and many fruits including bananas and apples.

Fiber is an Ultimate Diet Food

No matter which kind it is, eating fiber provides one enormous benefit to people trying to lose weight in that it helps increase food volume without adding to your caloric intake.  In layman’s terms, it helps fill you up without making you fatter.  A bowl of oatmeal, albeit taken plain, will fill up your stomach without loading you up with calories.  It’s why eating salads while losing weight is so good: it will sate your appetite while providing a ton of nutrients while not expanding your waistline.  And just to sweeten the package even more, soluble fiber actually slows the emptying of the stomach, letting you feel full for a longer period of time.  Add some protein which also increases food volume without adding too many calories to the party, like chicken, and you’ll be punching anyone in the face trying to offer you seconds.

"I said, 'I don't want any more of your delicious food'!"

So eat it up, people.  Your inner elephant wants to get noisy.