Monday, April 19, 2004

Forget fad; eat balanced meals

Ask Dave

By Dave Patania
Personal trainer

Question: How can I make sense of this whole low-carb craze, and how can I make it work for me?

Answer: This whole low-carb frenzy is comical to me.

Take a step back and go down fitness memory lane. There was the low-calorie craze with people drinking Tab cola. Later they moved on to wearing ankle weights and doing Jane Fonda workouts. That was followed by diet pills and wearing plastic trash bags to help burn off fat. We also had the double whammy of low-fat, low-sugar crazes, and now we have the low-carb craze.

With every decade gone by and every fad burned-out and forgotten, the health status of Americans continues to decline at alarming rates. With so many low-carb products on the market, people are still getting fat because they overeat them, thinking that because it is low-carb, they can eat more.

The idea of curtailing the amounts of carbohydrates was around long before the low-carb craze; bodybuilders and elite athletes have been using meal formats such as that for the past 30 years. The difference is that they would adjust the intake of carbohydrates/protein based on their activity level, specific body needs and intensity rather than a fad diet.

Carbohydrates are not the enemy; it is the lack of nutritional discipline. If you eat moderate amounts of high-quality carbs (whole oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes) that are hard for your body to break down, thus allowing them to be utilized for energy, you will not get fat. When you aren't consistent with exercise and eat too many processed low-quality foods that get broken down too quicky and converted to body fat, you will gain weight.

Along with quality protein, fruits, vegetables and water, carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced meal format. Fitness pros and athletes who know what they are doing eat certain amounts and types of foods to fuel their body for optimum performance. Take a page out of their book and realize that if you are consistently active, eat five or six moderate meals a day and balance your carbs and proteins based on your activity levels, you will find success.

Forget the fads and work with a fitness pro and/or nutritionist to tailor a meal plan geared for your specific needs.


Contact personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail:

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