When we are first being taught about nutrition, the Food Pyramid always springs to the forefront of conversation. Claiming that grains (made up of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta) make up the base of the food pyramid, it was thought we were supposed to receive an astounding fifty percent of our diet from carbohydrates.
Crazy! It’s this sort of fattening advice that perpetuates nutritional misperceptions which relegate people to an unhealthy lifestyle, condemned to believe they are doing the right thing and properly monitoring their diet when, in reality, they are actually making losing weight more difficult, more frustrating, and downright exhausting. What’s the most ridiculous part of all this? We know better.
Fortunately, government agencies and the United States educational system have released massive updates to the outdated policy; it’s just slow to take effect. In fact, the USDA is rightfully now recommending that half of your diet come from fruits and vegetables, and only 30% should come from grains—much better advice. Not to mention, the ‘experts’ are now also suggesting that protein makes up about twenty percent of our diet, a fantastic increase from the nearly nonexistent portion that was advised before.
All this said, there are still some considerable improvements to be made even to this new and improved My Plate System (the new and improved version of the Food Pyramid). For one, it does not really allot for healthy fats like nuts, oils, and organic dairy products—think butter and cream. These sorts of fats are a vital part of any diet, and most certainly should not be eaten sparingly. In actuality, you should be consuming about 25% of your calories through these open fats.
In regards to grains, I would chop it down to size and say they should only make up about 15% of your diet. There are only two meals a day where you should even consider eating grains, anyway, and those are breakfast and the meal after your workout. The reason for this is that research has proven glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are at their highest during these two points in the day.
With respect to protein, let’s beef that up to at least 35%. By increasing protein, you will have an increased thermic effect of feeding (which means you burn more calories just by eating protein), have better blood sugar control, see a decrease in body fat, and witness a significant increase in calorie-burning lean muscle.
Really, just by lowering grain consumption, you will improve your body’s capacity for processing carbohydrates, and then when you increase your protein intake, you can nearly DOUBLE your fat loss. It’s that easy.