The VERDICT: Good news! For the second straight week, the vast majority of the voters nailed it! Almost 75% of the 27 voters this week correctly answered that the second and third options, "Counting Calories" and "Eliminating fat to lose body fat" are indeed the least effective ways of the four options in the poll, in health-checking your diet! Good work!
The FACTS: While there are a lot of diets, methods, opinions out there, and it's impossible to list them all and provide commentary on them one-by-one, I'll do my best to provide answers for the ones in the poll.
1) Tracking Nutrient Balance - Absolutely, this is effective. Monitoring ratio of carbohydrates, fat, and protein is very helpful in determining if your diet is out of balance. A good ratio to follow is a 40%-30%-30% ratio of carbs-fat-protein. Remember, this is still useless if you're eating bad fat and bad carbs, the nutrients are a non-factor in that case, rendering the entire method useless. If you're an iPod or iPhone user, or have frequent access to a computer (of course you do, how else would you be reading this blog?), there's an application called "Lose It" (web address: http://www.loseit.com) which allows you to log all the food you eat and it automatically tracks nutrient summaries for you.
2) Counting Calories - While it's good to be aware of approximately how many calories you're consuming in a day to avoid overshooting or not reaching your daily requirements, the simple number of calories you eat in a day will not alone be able to tell you how healthy you're eating. Why? To quote Dr. Mark Hyman, "not all calories are created equal." In other words, since a calorie is a measurement of energy in food, it does not provide you with all the information to determine whether or not it is a calorie packed with healthy nutrients or whether it's a sugar calorie which will be absorbed directly into your blood stream. Is eating 2000 calories of candy equivalent to eating 2000 calories of lean chicken meat or vegetables? Obviously not. This is the inherent problem with using calorie counting as your only source of checks and balances.
3) Eliminating fat (from your diet) to lose body fat) - Not helpful. Why? You could say "not all fat is created equal." There is good fat and bad fat, and if you eliminate the good fat from your diet, you'll be missing out on some essential metabolism-boosting nutrients your body desperately needs. Where should your fat come from? Nuts, flax seed, healthy oils such as almond, olive and coconut, even a little occasional dark chocolate. What should you avoid? Trans fats (essentially, processed fats), hydrogenated oils, butter, basically anything you find in processed food, pastries, and junk food.
4) Monitoring Food Ingredients - Yes! Learn to read food labels! It will be a great change in the way you shop for food, as you'll become aware of just how much goes into what you see in the grocery store. You'll be appalled at most...even a seemingly harmless box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will have you scrambling for the fresh produce section, if you care about what goes into your body! In general, look for products with the least amount of ingredients on the label, but be sure to check those as well. The quality of your life depends on what you put into it, and that all starts with the food you decide to stock at home.
NEW POLL: This week, I'm going to have an actual poll, as opposed to a "quiz," which is what I've really been posting until this point! This week's topic: What is the biggest area of difficulty in your personal health life? Which of the following is the hardest obstacle for you, preventing you from being healthier or losing weight? I'll do a post this weekend based on the results from the quiz this week, to try to help you all out any way I can!
As always, thanks for reading!
- Dan -