There is a lot of information out there when it comes to nutrition. Which supplements to take. When to take them. What is intermittent fasting. Is the Keto diet good or bad. Plant based diets, whether to go gluten and/or dairy free. Which protein powder is best. Which vitamins strengthen the immune system.
And the list goes on and on.
With so many questions and so much information/misinformation out there it's easy to be confused and overwhelmed. I'm answering some of the most common questions asked by our Faithful Workouts community based on our own experiences but if there is one point I want to drive home to you, it's to recognize that God created you as a unique individual. There is no one-size-fits-all advice. At the end of the day you know your body best and it's best to honor and nourish your body in a way that works best for you.
What's the best diet?
What's the best sweetener?
How much sugar is OK?
Should I avoid carbs?
Diets that tell you that you can't eat any carbs are false. It's important to focus on "good carbs". Examples of good carbs are found in foods such as squash, brussel sprouts, beans, mango, and whole grains. They convert glucose into energy and good carbs are important for brain function. People who go on no-carb diets experience side effects like fatigue and brain fog. Good carbs help you to feel fuller longer, unlike bad carbs that spike your blood sugar and leave you craving more sugary foods an hour later.
Do you recommend detoxes or cleanses?
The idea behind detoxing and cleanses is that we need to periodically clear the “toxic waste” from our bodies in order to stay healthy. We often see an increase in people buzzing about doing a body detox after overindulging during the holidays and/or special occasions.
But is it healthy? Does your body really need a detox?
Yes, your body needs to detox. Your body accumulates potentially harmful particles from food and the environment. These include organic pollutants present in food, soil and water and research has shown that these pollutants can cause chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and an increased risk of mortality.
However, our bodies don't need a 3-day detox diet. As long as your organs are functioning correctly, your body is capable of filtering and eliminating any unneeded ingredients and byproducts.
A diet detox is nothing more than a short term answer that won't typically bring long term results. These types of diets that severely restrict calories or certain types of food from your diet don't typically lead to lasting weight loss and may not provide all the nutrients required by your body.
Although it can lead to rapid weight loss, you are losing mostly water, muscle and not much fat. Your body will then go into starvation mode after the fast is over, which may cause you to gain back any weight that was lost and sometimes more. Limiting nutrients from our bodies can also weaken our immune system.
So how do we get rid of harmful toxins without sacrificing our health? Our bodies are perfectly capable of doing a detox on its own. The only help it needs is to follow a consistent nutritious diet rich in whole foods. So, if you really want to detox your body and organs, eat cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables help clear alcohol and caffeine from your system faster than other foods.
In summary, people often do a detox out of guilt for overindulging and then go right back to their old way of eating. We recommend forgoing the detox, using self control to not over indulge in the first place and choose to put healthy foods into your body each and every day so you can support your body in what God naturally designed it to do!
Should I buy organic foods?
Organic is definitely one of those marketing buzz words that has us thinking food is a lot healthier but not all organic products truly fit that description. For example, a cereal bar labeled as organic using organic cane sugar with a total added sugar count of 18g is definitely not healthy. Sugar is sugar.
So don't let the word "organic" fool you into thinking it's good for you and I can't stress this enough, it's crucial to always read the ingredient list on what you buy to know if something is really healthy. Despite what it says on the front of the label with it's cute branding and graphics, the ingredients tucked away on the back of the label never lie.
Here are some tips when it comes to buying organic:
1. When buying produce, meat and dairy it is better to buy organic when possible. Organic meat and dairy are free of growth hormones.
2. To help simplify and prioritize your choices, The Environmental Working Group compiles an annual list “to identify which fresh fruits and vegetables are most and least contaminated with pesticide residues.” This means produce on the "Dirty" list should be organic whenever possible, and that you can purchase conventional produce from the "Clean" list. Check out the 2021 Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen.
3. For packaged food, keep in mind the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) definition of organic means it is generally free of synthetic substances; contains no pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. That means "Organic" can be put on the front of almost anything like sugar, tortilla chips and cookies.
4. If it comes in a package, it's likely an over processed food that offers little real nutritional value.
If you are on a tight budget, I know it can feel like buying organic meats, vegetables and produce is just out of the question but it's not. Here are some tips to buying organic foods on a budget:.
1. Purchase in-season produce, it will be more cost effective.
2. Forgo fresh for frozen produce for recipes like smoothies were fresh is not necessary.
3. Buy store-brand organic products vs. name brands.
4. Shop at budget-friendly stores.
5. Look for organic coupons.
6. Purchase sale items, especially meat and frozen foods where you can buy in bulk and stock your freezer.
7. Buy directly from a local butcher/meat market and local farmers. Nothing better than finding someone in your area selling farm fresh veggies, fruits and eggs!
8. Look into local co-ops and farmer's markets where you can cut out the grocery store middle man and higher prices.
Eating real whole foods in their most natural form is always best. When it comes to packaged foods, use moderation and consider if there is any nutritional value. Instead of a bag of organic chips that aren't really healthy as a processed food and contain virtually nothing good for you, choose an organic apple dipped in almond butter which is much more nourishing and provides fuel for your body!
Should I do intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is defined as restricted eating on alternate days or a daily-time restriction. It has become very popular but does it work for weight loss? Physical fasting does have value as it can allow your body to rest from the digestive process and it can bless you spiritually as a way to bring us closer to God but does it lead to weight loss? Is it a sustainable way to eat healthy long term? Probably not.
Let's use breathing as an example. We breathe, on average, 20x a minute. If you held your breath for 1 minute, do you breathe normally once you started breathing again? No, your body has to recover from the lack of oxygen before it can breath normally. Depriving your body of nutrition can have a similar effect.
It can be very difficult to make good food choices and eat moderate amounts when you have been denying yourself food for an extended time period of time. JAMA, Journal of American Medical Association, reports that researchers found statistically insignificant difference in weight loss in the intermittent fasting group and control group. They also reported loss of lean muscle mass, possibly due to lack of protein intake. When considering intermittent fasting, keep in mind what you are actually eating is more important than when you eat and when you don't. Ultimately eating healthy should not be complicated.
Should I take supplements?
So often we want to take a pill to improve our health, when in reality, there isn’t a pill that can replace a healthy lifestyle. It's best to get your vitamins and nutrients from the foods you eat. Supplements aren’t intended to be a food substitute because they can’t replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. So depending on your situation and your eating habits, dietary supplements may not be worth the expense.
Some people turn to supplements because they want to lose weight. They don’t want the calories or carbs that come with food so they just eat supplements. This is not a healthy way to lose weight! You could actually be harming your body and are straying from the path to better health.
We need to eat a healthy diet because the foods we eat can actually provide us with health benefits that supplements can’t replicate. Many foods don’t just have just one type of vitamin. For example, oranges contain vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, and other nutrients. It is important to eat different food because these nutrients work together to provide different things the body needs.
The bottom line is this, try to eat foods that give you the nutrients. Before you start taking a lot of supplements you may not need, talk to your doctor about a blood test to determine if you are vitamin deficient so you know you are taking the right ones for your body.
You can also find a wealth of information on our Faithful Workouts Blog and our This Not That series for healthy living and eating!