Diet Considerations

The Disclaimer:

A Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) is not qualified nor is it within their legal Scope to give advice on matters regarding nutrition and diet. Advice would take the form of ‘prescribing’ what type and how much of a food or supplement one should take to achieve a health goal.

What a RMT can do is provide information regarding diet, nutrition, and sources to learn more. This is part of their mandate to empower and enable patients, helping them to achieve their health goals in-between appointments.

This blog post is intended to be informative.

There are a lot of people who say “I want to lose weight.” If we look closely we’ll see that what they could be saying is “I want to be skinnier” which is actually a different goal. What they might be doing is recalling a time when they were a particular size and also a certain weight, and they think “If I were to be that weight again, I could also fit into those jeans.” One of the first steps to understanding how diet can affect you is having a clear understanding of goals.

The next concept starts with the basic formula for losing weight. It’s assumed to be common knowledge that if you want to lose some weight or inches that you have to burn more calories than you eat. This is sound logic but it doesn’t always work that way. Our bodies haven’t evolved much in the past 7,000+ years; it doesn’t understand that food is always available in the pantry or the fridge. If we eat in a manner that is similar to when the weather was in a drought or a bad harvest, the body thinks that we are starving. If this happens, it won’t matter what we do, we won’t shrink much. Skipping meals, and gorging when you do eat are examples of a ‘starving’ pattern. However if we eat in a way that suggests that food is readily available, then the body freely expends energy. Snacking, smaller portions, and eating often are signs that food is plentiful and available.

Understanding the quality of calories is important. If you consume 100 calories of table sugar, your body gets a vastly different amount of nutrition than if you consume 100 calories of spinach. If you’re counting calories and not losing inches, or perhaps you’re working out and not bulking up, one explanation is that perhaps you’re not eating the type of calories that you need to.

How do you know what type you need? The first step is to look at the essentials. There’s a group of nutrients called the Essential Vitamins and Minerals because our body is not able to synthesize those nutrients. Here’s the catch: we need to eat all of them. Some, like the Omega 3, 6, and 9, are needed to be consumed in a specific ratio for optimal usage. If you’re eating a lot of one and few of another, it’s like having a car with no tires – you can’t do anything useful with it. Your body will hold onto what it can until it has all the materials it needs to function.

If you’ve seen the commercials with the African children that are skin and bones with the distended belly, that’s a condition called Ascites. Ascites is when the person consumes some nutrients but not the full compliment so the body cannot use them properly. Once they start getting the proper nutrition, the belly shrinks and the muscles bulk. After considering the essentials, the next step is to look at the 4 main food groups. If you’ve heard of the Canada Food Guide, it provides a good place to start to understanding what the body needs to function properly.

Some people actually need more calories. When the daily recommended calorie intake is 2,000 calories, really that’s for sedentary individuals. 1,500 of those calories is the heart beating and the brain thinking, essentially just existing. That leaves 500 calories for walking to work or carrying some groceries. If we look at people who work out every day, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson eats 5,000 calories in the form of 10 pounds of food. Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, was eating 12,000 calories daily during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The moral of the story is that if you have a physical job, workout, or do a lot of yard work at home, there’s a good chance that you need more than 2,000 calories to be healthy.

The thing with muscles, is that they will feed on themselves to repair. If you’re not getting the calories and protein that you need, your muscles will shrink and weaken. With muscles and working out, if you want your muscles to grow stronger, then you need to eat enough protein to repair after a workout plus extra so they can grow larger. There are varying sources on how much is enough but on the high end the ratio is 1 gram of protein for every pound that you weigh. So if you weigh 100 lbs then ideally you should be eating 100g of protein daily. That is a lot of protein if you’re thinking just meat and eggs but there is protein in rice, pasta, some vegetables, nuts, and believe it or not, spices. Specifically the seed persuasion. Sesame, cumin, hemp seed, black pepper, etc all have protein in them. Hemp seed is ~30-33% protein by weight, whereas a ham is only 17% protein by weight. With a little research and some math, it’s not as hard as one might think to get more protein in the diet.

For more information about diet, food, and Registered Dieticians, please see the following links:

Dietitians of Canada

The College of Dietitians of Ontario

Eat Right Ontario