Category Archives: It’s Bad For You

Proven: the mistake of missing a complete breakfast

Remember I once mentioned that having too little for breakfast makes one hungry all day, ie get fat? Well it happened today. I had an appointment this morning which gave me no chance to eat between 7.30am and 11.15am. A mistake.

Fact is, I had planned to take a break around 8ish to grab second breakfast, but it did not materialize. You could say it was my own fault, I decided not to leave my post.

So all I had then was a very small bowl of cereal with my usual two strawberries and a small handful of blueberries, and a floss bun. The floss bun in itself was an unusual addition – I normally do not eat such a thing for first breakfast. But I did it this morning thinking I needed a bit of extra carbs for the morning endeavor. It was probably a double trap. Not only was the quickly digested bun useless for the rest of the morning, but it has probably already settled down in my prime (read: waist) estate as more unwelcome fat.

Anyway, I did not eat again until 11.15am, and that was one slice of wholemeal bread. Lunch materialized at noon but I could hardly enjoy it as I was in a hurry. In any case, thereafter the hunger curse began.

I was hungry again at 2, had a slice of papaya. Harmless and good. Hungry again at 3.30pm, that’s odd…. Never mind since I was not working today, treated myself to a peanut butter and marmalade wholemeal sandwich.

Hungry AGAIN at 5pm, had dinner early at 5.30 – salmon sushi with 1/3 rice, and six cherry tomatoes.

Hungry AGAIN at 7.15, had an apple, hoping this would seem quite normal on a typical day for me.

Nope, hungry again at 8pm, had a 1/3 slice of wholemeal bread with 1/4 slice of cheese. Something is definitely wrong.

Yes, hungry yet again at 9pm. I was preparing my breakfast sandwich for tomorrow. Had half a cup of no-fat milk and stole a little bit of chilli tuna meant for the sandwich.

And no prizes for guessing – still hungry, right this moment while penning this. It’s 10.45pm and I now utterly refuse to entertain my stomach’s protests. In fact, it just growled. But I am using the sheer indignation of it all to punish myself.

I am simply flabbergasted. I swear I will never allow myself to miss a complete breakfast again. And neither should you.

Sweet is simple, sweet is fat

A couple of hours before gym, I try to take a source of energy, so that I don’t tire too soon during training.

It’s 4pm and there is a small bar of chocolate next to my nuts-raisin-cereal mix. I am tempted. I know that if I eat the chocolate, it will be digested very quickly as refined carbs and I have to burn it off soon if I do not want it to become fat. The nuts take longer to digest/convert to energy, which is why they are a healthier pre-gym snack.

Just how long does it take for the stomach to digest refined carbs, though? I remember my trainer saying, “Immediately”. Really?

Curious, I made a quick search on Google, and came across this article that nicely sums it up and explains the bit on energy. Here’s the gist:

Basically, our bodies derive energy from three types of food compounds:

  • Protein,
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates.

When protein and fats are eaten, they are used primarily to repair and manufacture cells. In order for them to be burned as energy, they must first be absorbed into our cells. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are immediately useable as energy by the body.

(Incidentally, this also explains why if you UNDER-eat carbohydrates, you not only start to burn fat, which is a good thing, you also burn muscle (protein), which is a bad thing).

When consumed, carbohydrates are converted into simple sugars which is a fuel for all cells.

Complex Carbs: carbohydrates in this form are slowly digested. Thus the release of their sugars/energy occurs slowly over hours. Complex carbohydrates are termed complex because the sugars are binded with fats, proteins and cellulose. It’s just more difficult to break down.

Complex carbs sources include .. well the keywords are “whole” and “unprocessed”. So, they would include whole foods like whole grain brown rice, wholemeal bread, whole fruits and vegetables such as potato, sweet potato and beans.

Simple or Refined Carbs: These are immediately broken down – within minutes. They also give the body a blissful but dangerous sugar rush. After such a meal, your body has a sudden excess of sugar. If you do not use it immediately, it does the next logical thing as a survivor – it keeps it safe. It stores the sugar in the form of fat, expecting you to use it some day.

Don’t blame your body, this is a survival mechanism that we inherited, and many animals in the wild still live by it.

Another important participant in this story is insulin – but that’s another story for another day. For now, take note of this non-exhaustive list of refined carbohydrates, and say goodbye to most of them, most of the time, if you want to lose weight.

Donuts

These you already know:

All sugars and syrups
Products with excess sugar
Soda drinks
sugary drinks, including sweetened fruit juice concentrates
Cookies and biscuits
Ice cream and most desserts
Chips and crisps
Pastries, pies, pizza and cakes
Candy, sweets, chocolate

These many may not realize:

White rice, pasta and noodles
All white breads, buns, wraps

In general, you can identify refined carbs by one main characteristic: mankind made them unnaturally yummy and you always wish you could have one.

Bread Dread

I was waiting at the bus stop next to a convenience store, when a delivery man plonked a large rack carrying a whole load of carbohydrates next to me.

Img_4275

I still love bread though I hardly eat it anymore, but these sweetened breads made with cheap flour and ingredients, stuffed with jams and poor quality creams and things – I even forbid my kids to have them. Needless to say, a whole rack of them next to me sent a bit of a chill down my spine. I stepped away gingerly.

Nuts, Cereal and Raisin Snack

I keep a bottle of this in the office.

Img_4305

It’s a mixture of baked walnuts, baked almonds, breakfast cereal and raisins. Lately I’ve also added baked cashews. It’s a relatively healthy snack that also gives an energy boost. I first concocted this because it was difficult to find an appropriate food to eat two hours before my 7 o’clock gym sessions. I feed myself a couple of handful of these whenever I need a little snack or I’m due for gym later.

HOWEVER, do be careful and moderate – most nuts contain high amounts of fat. While it’s not quite the same sort of fat as fried fats in potato crisps and other evil snacks, it’s still fat. My trainer and I have noticed that if I snack too much on nuts, my fat seems to go up too. Still, you can do much worse than nuts.

Buy good almonds – the type that’s got a fragrant, oily, nutty taste. You may notice almonds have very high fat content listed on the package, but don’t worry too much as it’s good fat. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the health-promoting kind similar to that in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. It’s quite dumb that some packages I’ve seen do not identify what kind of fat it is.

In any case, when you buy these nuts, pick only that which is baked or roasted. There should be NO OTHER INGREDIENT such as salt, oil or sugar!

For the breakfast cereal, choose your own favourites – naturally, something that isn’t overly sugar-laden. The one I’m using is Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries cereal, which is quite healthy as cereals go. As for raisins – the traditional Sun Maid’s will do!

Remember: nuts are a good nutritious snack, but watch out for the fats!