Updated: Jun 13, 2019
Welcome back to To Your Health. In this month’s article, we will be taking a brief look at dieting and the pros and cons diets have on the body. As always, please remember that our goal is not to persuade you to our way of thinking, but rather to provide information so you may make educated decisions in your own personal quest for optimal health.
Ok, let’s get to it!
Singing is a physical activity that requires the coordinated efforts of the body and mind. In order to perform properly, the body needs an adequate supply of food on a daily basis. Food can be broken down into six classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, lipids (fats), proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Each of these nutrients is assistive in creating and maintaining optimal conditions in the body, helping it to develop to its fullest potential.
Nutrients can be assigned to three different categories: 1) those that primarily provide us with energy (typically expressed in Calories); 2) those that are important for growth and maintenance and; 3) those that act to keep body function running smoothly. There is often some overlap in the categories. Energy-yielding nutrients make up a major portion of most foods.
Got it? Good! Moving on…
In today’s society, there is a huge emphasis on “dieting”. Our nation is consumed by the allure of being thin (look at most commercials, billboards, magazine ads and, especially, the entertainment world). Isn’t it ironic, then, that we are becoming one of the most obese countries in the world? With all of the available diets and health foods currently available, we should be decreasing weight, not increasing it. So, what’s the problem?
Dieting is a band-aid solution. While they can help to lose weight quickly, they are often done at the expense of health and they don’t address the consequences of stopping the diet. What do I mean by this? Let’s take at quick look at the basis for some of the most popular diets today and in the recent past:
Low/No Carbohydrates – Many believe that the answer to shedding pounds is to cut out or cut back on carbohydrates. There are many meal products on the shelves of most grocery stores with the “no carb” or “low carb” labels. Why is this not the solution?
First off, research has proven that our bodies need carbohydrates (carbs) for energy. Carbs provide a major source of fuel for the body. Based on these facts, any diet that requires the removal of them automatically falls into the category of “nuh-uh”. Limited carbohydrate intake unnecessarily restricts fiber-rich foods. Fiber is necessary for proper functioning of body systems. The second argument is that all carbs are NOT created equal. It has been medically shown that some carbs induce weight-loss and some lower blood sugar.
Calorie Restriction – Calorie restriction slows metabolism down 10-15% and increases hunger and appetite. Caloric restrictive diets use lots of meal replacement products to keep calories down; unfortunately, statistics have shown that 95% of the people who use these plans and count their calories ultimately gain the weight back and, often, increase it! The weight that they do manage to lose is usually from muscle, not fat. The problem with this is that muscle dictates metabolism. As you lose muscle, you hinder the ability of the body to trigger high levels of thermogenesis (body heat) to burn off fat.
No Fat – You know that no-fat yogurt you’re so fond of? What it lacks in fat, it more than makes up for in sugar. Flavor is created by one of two things: sugar or fat. A tasty treat with a no-fat content has a high sugar content. Just read the labels. Is sugar (or a form of sugar) one of the first five ingredients? Low fat products keep both fat and sugar content low.
While in the short run these diets have (and can) work as “quick fixes”, they don’t have the proper nutritional content to provide healthy weight-management with permanent results. As singers, a healthy weight maintenance program – which results in a healthy body and voice – is vital.
Additionally, few diets emphasize the importance of exercise, especially weight-bearing exercises, as part of the dietary regimen. Remember, muscle dictates metabolism. The more muscle mass, the higher the metabolism which means the faster you burn off fat.
Ok, so let’s talk specifics.
The Carbohydrate Debate
As mentioned, not all carbohydrate foods are created equal; in fact they behave quite differently in our bodies. The Glycemic Index is one way to monitor carbohydrate effect. The Glycemic Index (GI) is simply a measurement of the impact of a carbohydrate on your blood sugar levels. For example, if you eat white bread, it has a very high glycemic index (nearly 100 on a scale of 1-100 with 100 being the highest) and it raises blood sugar very quickly. When blood sugar rises fast, your insulin levels also rise fast throwing a metabolic switch that tells your body to store fat. Low GI foods, especially those high in fiber like beans or lentils, do not raise blood sugar quickly and therefore help to maintain your blood sugar at more moderate levels where your body burns calories more efficiently and maintains optimal insulin levels. Low GI foods do not lower or slow down metabolism. A person can continue to stay on a LGI plan indefinitely.
Low GI diets help people lose and control weight
Low GI diets increase the body's sensitivity to insulin
Low GI carbs improve diabetes control
Low GI carbs reduce the risk of heart disease
Low GI carbs reduce blood cholesterol levels
Low GI carbs can help you manage the symptoms of PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome)
Low GI carbs reduce hunger and keep you fuller for longer
Low GI carbs prolong physical endurance
High GI carbs help re-fuel carbohydrate stores after exercise
Some examples of Low GI foods include:
Proteins: Serving size is approximately 3 ounces
Canned tuna, salmon, sardines (packed in water) chicken, turkey or hen (skinless), eggs or egg whites, fresh fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, flounder, snapper, trout, etc.), lean veal, non-fat cheese, non-fat soy cheese, nuts (almonds, peanuts, etc.), non-fat soy yogurt, non fat yogurt (plain), red meat (pork, beef, lamb, buffalo, venison) seafood (shrimp, scallops, clams, lobster, calamari, squid, octopus, mussels, etc), skim or 1% milk (1 cup), soy or rice milk (1% or non-fat), tofu (firm or soft), veggie or garden burger (low-fat or non-fat) yogurts can be 1% fat or non-fat) cheeses can have 0 to 2 grams of fat per ounce. Nuts are high in fat, so limit to a handful of raw unsalted nuts.
Vegetables/Salad Greens: Serving size is 1 cup unless otherwise noted
Alfalfa sprouts, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocado, been sprouts, beets, bell peppers (red, green or yellow), bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (red or white), carrots, cauliflower, celery, collared greens, cucumbers, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, green beans, hot peppers, jicama, kale, leeks, lettuce (all types), mushrooms, okra, olives (limit to 5), onions, parsely, radishes, sauerkraut (no sugar added), snow peas, spinach, tomato paste (2 tablespoons), tomato sauce (1/2 cup), tomato soup, vegetable juice (no salt ½ cup), vegetable soup (lowfat ½ cup) water chestnuts, watercress, yellow squash, zucchini.
Carbs: Serving size is ½ cup unless otherwise noted
Baked beans (no sugar added), beans (red, black, garbonzo, lima, mung, pinto, soy), bran (oat, rice or wheat 1 tablespoon), peas (green, black-eyed), lentils, low Carb bread (1 slice), high fiber bread (3 grams of fiber or more, 1 slice), soups (low fat bean, lentil, pea, vegetable, 1 cup), taro root (1/4 cup), winter squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti), yam or sweet potato (boiled, steamed or baked)
In addition to maintaining a LGI nutritional plan (or any diet for that matter), many experts have stated the importance of using vitamins, minerals and supplements.
Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements - Many believe that if they eat right, they do not need to take vitamin/mineral supplements. Nothing could be further from the truth! The argument against this theory arises when we evaluate the current condition of the earth and air and its effects on the quality of the food we eat. Many foods are often filled with pesticides, chemicals, imitation colors and flavoring, and preservatives. These chemicals get ingested and become toxic inside our bodies. This toxicity slowly begins to wear away at our internal systems, causing cellular damage and opening the doorway to a myriad of illness and disease (including, gout, lupus, cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, heart conditions, diabetes, emphysema, stress, headaches, fatigue, skin disorders, difficulty sleeping and more…). Vitamins/Minerals area an important component of health and should not be overlooked. For more help with your nutritional needs, try taking the Nutri-Physical Nutritional Analysis survey at www.SHOP.com
Dieting is a HUGE subject that we have barely touched upon in this article. With so many people offering their own insight and information, it can be very mysterious and confusing. Do your due diligence and get educated before making a decision and, as always, check with your doctor or dietician before embarking upon any diet or weight management program.
And that's To Your Health!
Craig M. Jones is a professional singer, musician, songwriter and vocal educator with over 30 years’ experience in the entertainment industry. He has performed locally and internationally, as both a singer and percussionist, with such notables as Orange Then Blue, Stan Getz and Walter Beasley. A member of The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), he strives to blend his knowledge of health and wellness into a cohesive vocal technique to both develop and support all musical styles and genres.
*The A4M is a not-for-profit medical society dedicated to the advancement of technology to detect, prevent, and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimize the human aging process. A4M is also dedicated to educating physicians, scientists, and members of the public on anti-aging issues.