Casually Explained: Being Healthy

Well, it’s pretty common knowledge that certain foods are healthy, and others aren’t so much, it’s pretty rare that you ever get an explanation as to why. And one thing that bothers me quite a bit is when someone says to eat something because: “It’s good for you!” or “It’s a superfood!” And almost universally, what that really translates to is: It grows in nature. Ironically, half the time, it only grows in nature because we’ve selectively bred it over thousands of years to be that way. And when half of our leading source of nutrition advice are Pinterest recipes, a lot of what we consider “common knowledge” is actually completely made up. As an example, one of the common terms you’ll see online with regards to healthy food is that something gets rid of toxins in your body, which really doesn’t make any sense. “If your body is filled with toxins and certain foods, remove them,” then that means “We could’ve brought back Steve Irwin with a blueberry smoothie.” In reality, almost all supplements or foods that get rid of toxins are really just laxatives or diuretics. So it makes you feel like they’re somehow flushing something away, when in reality, you could have just put three shots of vodka in your latte like a regular person. The next thing you’ll often run into are online recipes for anything made overnight with a mason jar, telling you’re not getting enough antioxidants. And one of the ways you can tell if you’re not getting antioxidants is by looking at your skin and seeing if it’s starting to rust. And while they do play a role in your body, the problem with suggesting that you should consume more is that it’s fundamentally like saying “The more oil you have in your car, the less likely it is to break down.” Which is not true, because too much actually makes things worse. The good news is that if you do have too much oil in your car, you can add the excess to your overnight oats, because motor oil is also high in antioxidants. Another common idea that’s recently started to shift is that you should never skip breakfast, which there is absolutely no scientific basis for except that breakfast food is my favorite. I think the funny thing is that when I used to tell people I skipped breakfast, they thought I was crazy, but now I can say: “I’m doing intermittent fasting.” And they’re like: “Oh, very disciplined.” When in reality, I just woke up at noon. Relatedly, the next thing that’s often incredibly misunderstood is diet. Especially with things like paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, and varying degrees of vegetarianism becoming so popular. We’ve all heard limitless jokes about: “How do you know if someone is a vegan; because they’ll tell you. Hahaha, classic comedy!” That’s not even the case anymore. I see way more people on low-carb ketogenic diets post things on the internet, like: “Look at this fool I saw today, eating an apple like an absolute normie,” as they show their Costco haul of pork rinds and butter. The most important thing to know is that generally speaking: Weight is regulated by calorie intake, so you have a certain amount of calories you burn in a day, and if you repeatedly intake more than that, you’ll gain weight, and if you intake less of that, you’ll lose weight. As a quick disclaimer, the exact amount of calories absorbed from food isn’t always 100%, which is why some people claim calories in, calories out isn’t true, but being exact, calories metabolized and absorbed minus calories burned always is true. Now for the average person, the amount of calories burned is around 2000 – 2500 calories a day, then the generally accepted rule is that there is 3500 calories in a pound of body fat. So say you wanted to get thick because it’s 2019, you would have to eat roughly calories above your daily maintenance for 71 days to gain 10 pounds. Then if we look at the composition of food itself, all food is made up of three primary macronutrients that serve a different bodily function, and each has a different calorie value: We have fat, which has 9 calories per gram. Protein, which has 4 calories per gram. And carbohydrates which have 4 calories per gram as well. And then there’s a fourth bonus macronutrient: alcohol, which has 7 calories per gram. As for their physiological roles, loosely speaking: Fat regulates hormones and stops your cells from imploding. Protein is for bodily function and muscular regeneration. Carbohydrates are primarily for aerobic and anaerobic activity. And then alcohol, which sadly just poisons you. The good news is that because too much alcohol is toxic, if your friend is passed out in the club bathroom, you can flush out the alcohol by popping a blueberry under their tongue, just like a senzu bean. Below that, we have fibre and micronutrients, which are all your vitamins and minerals, just make sure you get enough of these or your teeth will fall out. Now, with these fundamentals in mind, if we start to take a look at all the popular and successful diets out there nowadays, the fact of the matter is that almost all of them have good points but they also all have bad points. Meaning you’re not an enlightened member of the nutritional Illuminati, just because you’ve stopped eating bread. If we take a look at all the most common diets that cover the full spectrum of plant-based to animal-based, you can see they all have pros and cons. Veganism is sustainable and very nice to the animals, but it’s a bit hard to get the right macronutrients, and you constantly have to wonder if your friends don’t want you for dinner because of your dietary restrictions, or just your personality. Vegetarianism is sustainable and nice to the animals, but limited food choices. Paleo diets are good for weight loss, but again, limited food choice. Ketogenic diets, very good for weight loss because it massively regulates blood sugar, which affects cravings and appetite, but it’s extremely limited in terms of food choice. Not very good for anyone doing anaerobic sports because there are no available carbohydrates, but it’s actually not bad if you run ultra, ultra, ultra marathons. So the next time you go for a hundred mile run, make sure to bring your pepperoni holster. Carnivorous diets, these ones are a bit weird, and they’re very unsustainable, but very good for weight loss and autoimmune disorders / arthritis / certain types of depression. And while there have been some pretty miraculous anecdotes, the downside is that it has not been studied long term and everyone in the restaurant will think you’re a serial killer as you peel the breading off your KFC family bucket. For some reason the community is also really involved with cryptocurrency, so if anyone was actually in the nutritional Illuminati, this would be it. And then finally the classic “If It Fits Your Macros”, which means eating whatever you want as long as if it fits within the designated calorie limit and matches the amount of protein fat and carbohydrates you’ve allotted. This is common for athletes and people who want to be bodybuilders, but in the 7 years they’ve been going to the gym, they’ve only made 2 years worth of progress. Speaking of the gym, there are also a few misconceptions when it comes to exercise, and one of the most common jokes you hear in weightlifting communities is making fun of people who say: “I’m just looking to tone.” Because the only two variables to your physical appearance is the volume of muscle you have, and the volume of fat you have. It’s also incredibly difficult to gain muscle, so you’ll often hear girls and even guys say: “You know, I’m worried that if I start lifting weights, I’ll get too big.” And unfortunately, the thing is: No matter how much you believe you’re an anime protagonist, it just isn’t going to happen. Ultimately, there are two main ways of improving your physical health through exercise, which are strength training, and cardiovascular training. In other words: How strong is your body, and how strong is your heart… And lungs. And well, even 30 minutes to an hour of walking a day is enough to make sure everything keeps working, further training at the gym is not only a good idea, it’s a lifestyle. Where you can lift a heavy thing now, so you can be in pain for a while, and then lift a slightly heavier thing later, or ski on the elliptical until exhaustion so that once your heart eventually recovers, you’ll have more love to give.

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