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|Posted on January 10, 2013 at 3:25 PM|
There’s this concept in the fitness industry regarding food, or society for that matter, and that concept is clean eating. What is clean eating? How do clean foods differ from dirty foods? Foods that are widely considered clean are: veggies, whole grains, fruits, and lean cuts of meat. Dirty foods are typically fatty foods, or food that are high in sugar.
Most people would consider a burger, whether it has vegetables on it or not, as a dirty food, but they would consider steak a clean food. Most people would consider a baked potato a clean food, but French fries would be considered dirty, or junk food, by just about everyone, but why? Burgers are made out of beef, just like steak. Fries are merely sliced potatoes. How can the name, or how the food is cooked, make it a “dirty food?” A potato will have the same amount of vitamins in it whether it’s baked or fried. The only difference is the calories. The higher amount of calories CAN lead to obesity. Notice I emphasized the word CAN. Foods like French fries don’t have to lead to weight gain.
Now another question regarding burgers and fries is saturated fat. Saturated fat isn’t unhealthy. The notion that saturated fat is harmful is merely a hypothesis that has never been proven. Saturated fat was first indicted (scientifically) in a highly influential paper called “ Atherosclerosis” in 1953 by physiologist Ancel Keys, Ph.D. He wrote that while the death rate, in the US, was decreasing, the number of deaths attributed to heart disease was doing the opposite. His explanation for this was a comparison of fat intake and heart disease mortality in six countries: The U.S., Canada, Australia, England, Italy, and Japan. The US had the highest fat intake and the most deaths from heart disease. Conversely, Japan had the lowest intake of fat and deaths from heart disease. The other countries fell somewhere in between. Keys referred to this correlation as a “remarkable relationship” and started to publicly link fat intake with heart disease. This was eventually referred to as the diet-heart hypothesis.
At the time, many scientists were skeptical of Key’s claims. Jacob Yerushalmy, Ph.D.( founder of the biostatistics graduate program at the University of California at Berkeley) pointed out that while the data from the six countries supported the diet-heart hypothesis, statistics were available from twenty-two countries. When those countries were analyzed the apparent link between fat intake and heart disease vanished.
You’ll notice that Keys didn’t take the caloric intake of each population into account. The US has the highest amount heart disease, but the U.S. also has a high rate of obesity. Now, is that because of fat intake or caloric intake overall ? It’s well known that the US is one of the fattest nations on the planet. In just the last twenty years portion sizes in the U.S. have increased by 20%.
The problem is that most people carry on their daily lives with no concern as to how many calories they consume. Couple this with becoming accustomed to larger portions, and it’s no wonder that fatty foods are considered dangerous. People simply consume too many calories. This is the real culprit obesity and heart disease, and not whether I baked my potato or sliced it up and tossed it in the deep fryer. Most people don’t measure, count calories, or weigh their food. That’s the problem. They eat until their hearts content and pray to whoever their God is, if they pray at all, that it’s not too many calories. When they go on a diet, they avoid calorically dense food in the hopes to lose weight. If they lose weight, it’s by accident.
Look at weight loss programs like Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. Their whole motto is you don’t have to give up the foods you like to lose weight. You can still have burgers, fries, pizza, cake or whatever else your heart desires. Now, why isn’t the CDC all over them for promoting unhealthy eating, and subjecting people to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes just to make a buck? It’s because all those problems come from eating TOO MUCH food. You can have all of those goodies that you like; you just can’t eat them indiscriminately. If you can fit a burger into your caloric needs, dig in. If you want to have some dessert and you go over you caloric needs; well if you’re keeping track of the amount of calories you’re taking in, you can make the proper adjustment to the amount food you take in the following day, or you’ll have a clear picture of how many extra calories you need to burn off during your next workout.
A lot of people scoff at measuring their portions and tracking their calories, but tracking my calories allows to me to be even be more flexible with my eating when I’m dieting, and with apps like My Fitness Pal it gets even easier to count your calories.