Friday, April 20, 2012

Berardi and PN, Part 5

JB on the ubiquitous topic of "how to look good naked."

[The goal is to] demystify the eating process so that eating right for different goals is something everyone thinks about. And something anyone can do.
If you want to improve your nutrition, you have to consider three things.My general principles are pretty simple and straightforward.
  • food type (what you’re eating),
  • food amount (how much you’re eating),
  • food timing (when you’re eating).
And truly, improving muscle gain, fat loss, sports performance, or health is as simple as tweaking one or more of these variables.

In the Precision Nutrition approach, you make these "tweaks" if your goal is fat loss:

....adjust your food type to include mostly lean proteins, green vegetables, and healthy fats; you’ll adjust your food amount by eating less food than normal; and you’ll adjust your food timing by including your biggest, most protein and carbohydrate packed meal right after your workout.

JB offers other "tweaks" for those who may want to gain muscle.  Then he gets a bit more specific, detailing the only five things you need to consider to LGN (look good naked):
First, to lose fat, you have to gradually decrease your calories. In other words, you have to start eating less.Second, to support your muscle tissue, you have to gradually increase your protein. In other words, eat more lean meat, chicken, fish, or whatever lean vegetarian source you choose. These foods help speed up your metabolism, help you feel full, and provide important amino acids.
Third, to create the right environment for fat loss, you need to gradually decrease your carbs. In other words, eat less sugar and starches – like processed gains. Eating too much of these foods can wreak havoc on your bloodstream, increasing hormones that lead to fat gain.
Fourth, to make sure you’re healthy throughout the process, you need to gradually increase the amount of veggies you eat. You can think of it this way: start replacing your grains with greens. If you do this, you’ll be getting more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
And fifth, to support your metabolism, you need to gradually replace your bad fats with healthy ones. By adding things like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish oils, you’ll speed your metabolism and lose more fat than ever.
That’s really it. If you do those things consistently, along with a solid training program, looking better naked is a pretty simple process.

The PN method uses these ideas and a few nuggets from human change psychology to get their clients into a new way of thinking about food and eating.  Do you think an approach like this would work for you?  

I suspect it will, but I would add that all behavior change happens most effectively when:
1.  You have leverage - you have a deep and powerful driver that's forcing the change.  Health scare?  Woke up one day and was just stunned by how far gone you are?  Feel tired or hungry or grumpy or some other bad feeling, that you know is related to diet?  Perhaps if it's all of the above - AND you realize that dealing with your food/health problem will have a POWERFUL POSITIVE impact on the people you love; now that's a potent change driver.  
2.  You are doing something every day to improve your knowledge.  This works for two reasons - one, there are many obstacles to getting diet right and one of the most significant is mis-information.  We think we're doing something that's helping, when in reality, it's hurting.  To get around the mis-information obstacles, you have to keep learning and refining your approach based on what you learn.
3.  You have some person or group with whom you share the wins and losses.  Humans are social animals, and behavior change is either reinforced or diluted by the company you keep. 
4.  You find ways that sustain the change but also make for easy habits to follow.  The harder it is to sustain the change, the sooner your motivation, which always falls to baseline unless you are actively working to sustain it (not an easy thing to do in the full catastrophe of life), falls below the effort level required to sustain the change.  IOW - the process as described above by JB is simple, but that doesn't mean it is easy!  Make it as easy as it can be.  

For me, this is where the idea of "combat meals" comes in.  I find things I can whip up in a flash, they are tasty enough that I will eat them, and I keep them handy so I'm never faced with making a decision on what to eat when I'm hungry.

And on that point, no dietary change will be effective if it requires that you do battle with hunger.  This is why carb restriction is so powerful for those who want to lose weight - you can eat fewer calories on a diet based in proteins and fats, without feeling hunger.  In fact, if you've been dieting for over a month, and still experience hunger, it's a sure sign that something's not quite right.  If you are using carb restriction - essentially, not eating processed foods, and therefore getting most of your carbs from veggies, and perhaps a sweet potato or a piece of fruit - you will feel hungry the first 10-30 days.  Be ready for that by having high fat, high protein combat snacks at the ready.  After the fat adaptation period, you body will have ample fuel (your belly and love handles), your blood sugars will be regulated, your hormones will be moving towards "healthy" from sick, and hunger will be infrequent and much easier to deal with. 

This concludes my introduction to you of John Berardi and his very impressive company, Precision Nutrition.  I've enjoyed having time this week to write these thoughts down, and hope the compare and contrast method has been of some use to you in formulating your approach to health and wellness.

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