A Deep Dive into Diets

By Max Zhu ‘23

When eating at the WPGA cafe, many rumours are often thrown around regarding our lunches, whether it’s the nutritional content or the taste. As someone who regularly goes to the gym and attempts to maintain a diet, cafe food is a great way to get the fuel you need. Below I’m going to be discussing an intro into diets and some common words you might hear. The articles are my opinion and I recommend doing further research to fit your needs.

When looking to start a diet, whether it’s gaining or losing weight, many terms are often thrown around: deficit, surplus, calories, and macros. This new terminology can often sound daunting or even discouraging, but it’s really not all that bad once you understand what they mean. However, on the journey to changing the way you eat, it’s a lot more than just learning a couple of new words or how to understand the nutrition facts on your chocolate bar. Losing weight is more than just a number on the scale.

It’s often thought of as “healthy” to lose weight. Losing weight requires you to be in a deficit, meaning the calories you take in should be less than the calories you burn. Now that could mean you eat a lot and exercise even more or you eat very little and exercise very little. However, the number on the scale doesn’t represent anything as your body is composed of both muscle and fat. When checking for progress you might weigh heavier but look leaner and the same thing vice versa. You could be eating fast food and junk food as long as the calories are under those that you burn and still be losing weight. Although it works for “losing weight” in no way is it healthy or sustainable as you will often be left feeling sluggish and bloated. The point is, weight isn’t a good determinant of whether you’re healthy or not. It tells you nothing regarding body fat, mineral balances, cardiovascular health, cholesterol levels, or much more.

Whenever people refer to the food’s “macros” it’s regarding the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Calculating protein is generally easy, you want roughly 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight to at least maintain your muscle. However, it gets more difficult with carbs and fats. Carbs are highly dependent on your goals and lifestyle, carbs can be a great tool for keeping you energized and ensuring endurance but, if they’re not used, they could end up turning into fat. A good rule of thumb is to have 40% of your daily intake be carbs, if you’re feeling a bit full I recommend lowering that number and if you’re feeling empty maybe try increasing the number of carbs or even your calorie intake as a whole. Determining how much fat to have is also pretty complicated, it’s often split into three categories: Saturated fats like red meat or dairy, unsaturated fats like avocados and nuts, or trans fats like fried foods and baked goods. The type of fats you eat can influence cholesterol levels and increase or decrease cardiovascular health. As the types of fats you choose to consume could dictate your energy. Eating trans fats could leave you feeling sluggish or tired, while saturated and unsaturated can leave you energized and satisfied. In the end, all types will give you energy but with  one gram of fat having more calories than both one gram of protein plus one gram of carbohydrates, it’s important that you make the right choice. Fats also aid in brain function and allow your body to easily absorb vitamins and minerals. In summary,  when foods are referred to as “macro-friendly” they generally have a good balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. 

You’re now probably wondering “What about my vegetables? What’s their importance?”. Many people see a diet of chicken and rice and assume that veggies aren’t important, however their importance is unmatched. Veggies can offer vitamins and minerals, prevention against diseases, strength of organs, and much more. 

With all this in mind, the crucial part of a diet is its maintenance. There’s no point in following an incredibly strict diet if you don’t stick with it, and it might be even worse if you relapse from your strict eating regime. 

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