According to the 2011 national report on Obesity in Canada, 62% of Canadians are overweight and almost half of these people are obese. Are 62% of golfers overweight? Probably not, but many are, and this article will help people of all shapes and sizes.
If you are overweight and want to lose some fat, good for you! Losing weight can reduce joint/back pain and the risk of heart disease and other major killers. It may also help you feel cooler on the course and improve your game.
Causes of Obesity
We hear a lot about TV and junk food, but do you know when our body makes fat? It's after a big meal. We have to store the excess calories as fat, even if the meal was made of healthy, whole foods.
I call this fat "new fat tissue" because literally, we didn't have this fat a few hours ago (before that big meal).
I suppose one could gain a tiny bit of fat, five times a day, after five slightly-large meals. But that's not how Canadians eat. They usually have one or two huge meals and a few tiny snacks. This is a big fat problem.
The Healthy Snack Scam
Even people with the best intentions duff their snacks. I've talked to thousands of people about their nutrition and here is the public perception of a "healthy snack":
A handful of nuts
Nuts and fruit together
Yogurt (with or without nuts/fruit)
An All Bran Bar
There are a lot of healthy foods in that list, but zero healthy snacks. They aren't big enough (not enough calories) and they don't have enough protein.
Here is how this plays out:
You eat breakfast (healthy or not) at 8am and then a healthy lunch at noon. You eat an apple and almonds at 3 pm. You are hungry at 4 pm but don't get around to dinner until 6 or 7 pm. By then you are starving. You eat but can't seem to feel full. Despite your intentions, you eat too much, and your body makes new fat tissue.
Willpower won't help us stop eating when we set up our appetite for destruction by having wimpy snacks.
So instead of trying to eat smaller dinners, the solution is to eat bigger snacks (that also have protein).
Think of the blueprint of a small healthy meal. You probably see lean meat, vegetables, some olive oil, and potatoes. Great! Now keep that picture in your head, and think of the word "snack".
Snacks and meals should look exactly the same! Exceptions include sports nutrition and special weight loss cases.
"But Kyle, at 3 pm I don't have time for meatball marinara on spaghetti squash with broccoli!"
No problem. Aim for a "Level-Two Snack". It's not perfect, but it is much healthier than the alternatives listed above.
Chose one item from each group below to make a Level-Two Snack
Leftover meat - size of 1-2 golf balls
Mini can or full can of tuna or salmon
2/3 cup plain Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp protein powder in 1 cup water
1/2 cup baby carrots or sliced peppers
1 slice of whole grain bread
1 Pear, apple, or orange
1/4 cup nuts
1 cup leafy greens (some salad dressing)
Why Protein is Primo
Protein helps keep us full and does other important things like maintains our organs and muscles. These tissues are made of protein and are constantly breaking down, whether we eat protein to maintain them or not.
We lose 10% of our muscle mass per decade after age 30. Exceptions to this are people who do resistance training (lifting heavy stuff) and eat enough protein. Resistance training also maintains bone density.
Furthermore, we get less efficient at absorbing protein as we age. One diet control study fed a group of older adults the exact recommendation of protein every day - and they all lost muscle mass during the trial!
Instead of trying to eat smaller meals, eat bigger snacks that have 15-30 grams of protein (1-2 golf balls of meat). You will be less ravenous come dinner time and less likely to make new fat. You will have more strength, better energy, and reduce your risk of pain and disease. You might lose a few pounds a year instead of gaining a few.
And you might become a better golfer.
The busier you are, the more you will have to plan ahead. Try storing some snack foods in your car, briefcase, office and golf bags.
More columns by Kyle Byron
Kyle Byron is a clinically trained Nutritionist specializing in weight loss, muscle gain and sports performance. His coaching program helps people manage the stressful aspects of revamping their health.