Dietary Help

I'm writing this as a reference stub so I can send people here where they ask me one of the same three questions that all of my friends ask me at some point:

"I want a bike kinda like yours but that costs around $200-$300, show me how to use a camera, and make me a diet."

1 - Cheap single speed bikes just don't really exist. If I had the capital I would go to China and build a quality stainless and chromoly (I just remembered I want to learn more about metallurgy) single speed bike and sell them in the US for $200-$300. But I don't have that kind of money so a good and somewhat cheap place to buy from called Bikes Direct.

2 - Taking/making photos is half physics half composition. Ansel Adams was the master at the physics portion and if you read and understand this book you'll be well on your way.

3 - And now the real reason for this post - diet. Here's the golden rule that a good portion of people I tell this to refuse to accept. Anyone can lose weight. I don't care what glandular problem you have or how slow your metabolism. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. It's just math. At the risk of bringing up a terrible yet poignant event in history - have you ever seen what the Nazi concentration camp victims looked like? That's what happens when you burn more energy than you consume.

Here are some common truths I find to be helpful if a bit facile:

Consuming less calories while still remaining full seems to be the main goal. One of the easiest ways of doing this dietarily is to eat more fiber. Fiber is the part of a plant that your body can't fully digest. It sort of cleans you out and fills you up. It's worth mentioning that about 1/5 of your bodies energy is dedicated to digesting food. Since fiber doesn't release any energy into your body you end up burning more energy in digestion when you eat foods high in fiber. This is the main difference between white and whole grain rice, bread, etc. Foods high in fiber are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, flax seed, some cereals, etc.

There is no such thing as a "bad" food. Some just have more calories than others. The point here being portion. This may be the most important concept in dieting/changing your lifestyle. Eat more slowly, stop eating when you're full, don't eat because it's free... just think. A large part of portion control is being cognisant of what you're eating. Sometimes we go on autopilot and just stuff our faces. Sometimes it takes creativity or shear will power to overcome that one.

It's nearly impossible to be overweight if you eat nothing but vegetables and fruit. Seriously, minus salad dressing there are hardly any calories in a salad. Think about those rare occasions when you want a snack and you eat an apple. Think of how much that fills you up. That's something like 80 calories. One regular size snickers bar is 270 calories. How much does that fill you up? Now imagine eating 3 and a half apples. The energy content is that same but now you're much more full. This is the same argument as my one about fiber. Vegetables are essentially like a vitamin pill with fiber. The amount of calories in them is nearly negligible.

Oh, and drink more water. People often confuse being thirsty with being hungry. The price is right too. Assuming you're not above tap water. Similarly, stop drinking soda. It provides no substantive benefit to just about anyone's diet.

Vitamins and supplements: the evidence is confusing and all over the place. There's just so many variables that any experimental design is difficult. I personally don't take any.

Also, when you cook for yourself you begin to understand what goes into your food. You can start to omit parts of recipes that aren't contributing to a healthy diet. For example I rarely add the full amount or any of salt recommended in a recipe. Once you stop using it you stop missing it pretty quickly. Then when you do taste salt it's amazing.

And now to be a hypocrite; here are some foods that I consider amazing for one reason or another:

Ground flax seed - Tons of fiber. I add it to cereal.

Garlic (put in a garlic press) - Adds flavor without calories, there's also a ton of studies saying it has a myriad of other health benefits. Who cares, it's delicious.

Olive oil - Fat in general takes longer to digest and thus keeps you full longer. Olive oil has the added benefit of suppressing your appetite. Apples supposedly do a similar thing. If you have to heat it beyond 400 degrees don't use olive oil. Use grape seed oil or another oil that has a higher smoke point.

Tofu - You can buy a block of it from Whole Foods for $1.75 and its roughly equal to a few chicken breasts. Learn how to cook it in a Teflon pan. Filling, good for you, and sucks up the flavor of whatever you cook it with.

Egg whites - The best form of protein you can possibly get.

Broccoli or really just any vegetable - Filling, almost no calories, great for you.

Avocado - Great substitute for cheese on a sandwich. It's just better fat (monounsaturated) by which I mean that it's easy for your body to break down.

Goat cheese - Better nutrition profile than regular cheese and tastier.

Whole grain anything - Same calories as their white counterparts but lots more filling, don't spike your blood sugar, and they have more vitamins and minerals.