Have you been struggling with bad eating habits or been trying to make a decision on how to eat “healthier”? We’re here to help! Over the next month, we’ll be releasing a blog post each week from CHT’s own Robert Langston that goes in depth on 5 of the most common dietary trends. This week’s article is the 2nd in the series and focuses on the Standard American Diet.
In this edition we will see how the S.A.D diet stands up against the objectives of Health, Performance and Aesthetics. We’ll also look at the ease of implementation of this approach. As a review…
The S.A.D (Standard American Diet) is
High in processed foods, also known as “non-foods”. Non-foods cost more in nutritional value to digest, absorb and eliminate than they deliver to the body. Non-foods are loaded with hard to pronounce chemicals that are used to color, stabilize, texture, emulsify, bleach, preserve, sweeten, flavor and soften the food. A lot of these foods are also genetically modified.
How does a SAD diet lead to these undesirable conditions?
The SAD diet is low in vegetables which provide our bodies with essential nutrients (phytochemicals, minerals, and vitamins). These nutrients help us digest food, lose fat, improve immune system functioning, improve energy and lower our risks for developing the chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
It is high in sugar and sweeteners. The average American consumes 150 to 170 pounds of sugar per year. Research shows that high sugar intake is closely linked with type 2 diabetes. High sugar intake is also linked to obesity. Excess sugar is converted into adipose tissue (fat) which is stored externally and internally.
High in hydrogenated and genetically modified cooking oils while also decreasing healthy oils. Research has shown that these oils contribute to high cholesterol due to the body trying to repair the internal walls of arteries damaged by these oils traveling through them. This increase in cholesterol could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
High in processed foods which are loaded with unhealthy oils, sugars, sweeteners, preservatives, refined grains and variety of other chemicals.
High in sodium which lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Athletic and gym performance decreases from the lack of nutrients in the diet. Our bodies require proper amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and micronutrients to properly perform and recover. SAD doesn’t provide our bodies with the proper amount of nutrient density to perform at our best.
The SAD can directly and indirectly lead to depression. Omega-3 EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) have a tremendous influence on brain function. On a S.A.D diet brain health suffers from this Omega-3 EFA deficiency and research has shown an increase in depression because of this. Depression reduces a person’s ability to perform in many areas of their life.
The SAD leads to erectile and fertility problems. Refined sugars have been found to impair sperm mobility in healthy young men. Men and women both experience a reduction in their primary sex hormones which result in decreased libido and sexual performance.
The SAD results in many digestive problems. Due to the high content of processed foods, the GI tract must go through a lot of work to rid them from our bodies. A lot of people experience bloating and GI inflammation because of this. Feeling bloated, constipated and swollen doesn’t lend itself to performing well in your life. GI inflammation has also been linked with lower back pain.
BODY COMPOSITION (aesthetics)
Reaching the objectives of a healthy lifestyle and positive body image following a SAD is nearly impossible with this macronutrient split. However, it could be possible if a person was to eat SAD foods while changing the macro split and following a good exercise program. Improvements in Body Composition are most often associated with an increase in lean protein, an increase in vegetable and micronutrient consumption, as well as a decrease in the amount of high glycemic index carbohydrate. While possible, most often the SAD is low in lean protein, most often includes little to no vegetables, and uses processed breads and refined sugar. Maintaining these objectives long term would prove challenging due to the low scores on the Health and Performance fronts.
This is by far the easiest and most convenient diet to follow. Fast foods and processed foods are very abundant. Just take a look at all of the restaurants that are able to serve guests in under 10 minutes and the food options available at those locations. Now look at the number of those locations compared to restaurants touting high quality food and preparation. Now compare prices. See what I’m getting at? The SAD takes very little planning and allows people to obtain food quickly and cheaply, not to mention that the added fats and sugars make it tasty.
Thank you for reading this edition of “You Can’t Outwork a Bad Diet”. Please be sure to leave questions in the comment section below and we will be sure to answer them for you! Our next article in the series will come out next week and provide insight on the Low Carb Diet.
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