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Is food your friend or foe?

By Denver Steyn on December 18, 2013

There seems to be a universal belief that an increased consumption of food will always result in weight gain and fat gain in particular. Whilst it is true that an excessive calorie surplus will cause weight gain, how many people are actually under eating and not even realizing? With the increasingly popular “clean eating” approach to nutrition, it can sometimes look like nothing more than some animal meat for protein with broccoli or a salad to fill the plate. This can have negative effects on many people and create a fear of food.

I have come across many who are under eating and over exercising due
to the misguided information provided by local fitness enthusiasts. Generally the recommendations are something on the lines of; no more than a certain amount of calories per day – or you will get fat, cardio to be performed for up to two hours per day – or you won’t burn fat, no sodium in your diet – or you will hold fluid, very limited carbohydrate intake – or you will hold fluid and get fat. This can result in a very unhappy, weak, and emotional individual wondering if this is what people really mean when they say they are living a healthy fitness lifestyle. And of course, this is not the picture we are trying to paint in the Fitness Industry.

The truth is, due the inability to consistently and accurately measure your daily energy output, many people focus on living a lifestyle of controlled eating and generous exercise that is believed to be geared towards their goals, but forget to ensure sufficient energy input (food) is provided.

The fear of food can result in multiple physiological and psychological problems. These include issues such as depression, panic, loss of sexual feelings, hormone imbalance, increased cravings, and reduced fat loss just to name a few.

When deciding what approach you will take in regards to eating for fat loss, I recommend that you take your physical activity and lifestyle into consideration, and start at a point where you are eating more than you previously thought was enough.

I give this suggestion based on the idea that it is much easier to track excessive over eating than it is to track under eating. More often than not the increased amount of food will translate to improved metabolism and hormone balance. This could also result in improved health markers and your body’s ability to process food more efficiently, leading to fat loss.

Being a natural competitive bodybuilder, I have tried many different ways of getting in shape, and I know first hand what it is like to under eat, and the negative effects it can have. So many people are stuck in a cycle of under eating followed by huge binge eating episodes. Generally it is in the format of weekdays being healthy and weekends filled with excessive amounts of junk, and even alcohol. I believe that most people’s cravings and binges are due to the numerous weekdays their body is underfed.

I have worked with multiple clients who I have instructed to double, and sometimes triple their food intake. This has almost always resulted in losses in fat mass, improved strength and energy, and improved mood and feelings.

Do not let the fear of food be a limiting factor in building the physique you desire.