If you want to play the victim game we can blame modern farming techniques and the Industrial Revolution as to why most people's body composition isn't where they want it to be. However, I'm never one to feel sorry for anyone or like to hear who's fault something is. You simply learn, adapt, and change.
What happens when change is too slow? Our natural evolution is way behind technology! We have to stay smart and dare I say become "inefficient".
Are traits that use to be life-saving now life-threatening? A slow metabolism waaaaaayyyyyyy back in the day when food was more scarce was actually a good thing. Now that same slow metabolism will probably help lead you to a life of diabetes and orcardiovascular disease.
Cravings and the taste palette favoring sweet and fatty foods used to be to our advantage throughout evolution. A gram of fat has a 9 calories in it compared to a gram of carbohydrates and proteins only having 4 calories. That made consuming fat ideal and in most cases life saving. Now that food is in abundance and activity is minimal those extra 5 calories per gram may be contributing to some unwanted diseases.
Those sweet cravings and the satisfaction we get from eating sugar played an important role in giving the human species quick energy and fuel for the brain. Now those same cravings and want for sugary foods have helped lead so many people into a life of diabetes and obesity.
Quite simply modern farming and technology is way ahead in the race with our bodies evolution. Why do you think it's so hard to diet? Could it be that our bodies weren't meant to diet. Our evolution is still based on the fact that food is scarce and we move constantlythroughout the day. So when we see food our bodies are telling us eat! When we don't have food our bodies are telling us to get some! Therefore the concept of a diet is idiotic to our bodies.
One day far off from now our bodies will catch up with our modern lifestyle. We will all be far dead by then, but at that point the human body would be able to sustain eating 5 burgers with fries and a soda a day and still be ripped to the bone showing those six pack abdominal muscles without doing any physical activity.
For now though we must trick our bodies. To get the body composition that we want we must be inefficient. Certain macronutrients and certain types of macronutrients may be able to help us with this.
Between the three macronutrients, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, fat is the most efficient calorie source for us for the human body. It has the most potential energy per gram consumed, it is easily utilized into energy and can easily be stored for future use. Carbohydrates comes in second as far as efficiency for the body to use. Thirdly, protein comparatively is actually pretty inefficient for the body to use as energy. To rebuild muscle it is optimal, but to be converted for energy the body has to go through many complicated actions to effectively use it. Therefore protein has been studied and said to have a high thermogenic effect compared to fats and carbohydrates. This thermogenic effect basically means it revs up your metabolism. So for our modern lifestyle this "inefficient" nutrient is best for the current body composition we desire.
Carbohydrates is another nutrient we can look to to be more "inefficient" with. Simple carbohydrates is basically one or two molecules of sugar and can easily be broken down for quick energy uses. The body doesn't have to work too hard to break these sugar molecules down into glucose. Counter to simple carbohydrates is the complex carbohydrate which is multiple molecules of sugar that link together which takes much more time to break down therefore causing a much more steady flow of glucose to be released to the body for energy use. This "inefficient" carbohydrate also holds many nutrients in its molecular chain.
It might be an extreme example, but look at bodybuilders and what they eat in their diet to get the body composition that they have. They are definitely extreme, but they have a very high muscle to fat ratio, something almost all of us would like. What does their diet mainly consist of? Protein and complex carbohydrates. Therefore making their body "inefficient" and increasing the thermogenic effect(metabolism).
Many complex carbohydrates fall into my golden diet rule. The less man touches it, the higher chance it is healthier for you to eat.
Examples of Complex Carbs
- Legumes- Lentils, kidney beans, chick peas, split peas, pinto beans
- Whole grains- Buckwheat, brown rice, corn, wheat, barley, oats, sorghum, quinoa
- Most root vegetables- potatoes, yams, carrots
If you are struggling with your diet and body composition making a slight increase in protein and complex carbohydrates have been shown to help.
Have a great week,
Mark Radio is CPT through ACSM, certified nutritional counselor, and has a BA in Exercise Science. He is an Exercise Physiologist/Manager for Body Elite Inc. and owner of Hardcore Home Fitness, LLC.