When discussing the obesity problem in America, the topic of portion sizes always comes up. While I agree that portion sizes are too big, saying we are eating too much is an oversimplification.
I gained 40lbs from overeating at mediocre American chain restaurants. My typical day comprised of a sausage egg McMuffin for breakfast; double quarter pounder with supersized fries and regular Coke for lunch; nachos, fajitas and an El Presidente margarita at Chili's for dinner. I put this all in a food tracker, and it adds up to:
Let's assume that I ate double portion sizes. I gained 40lbs. Cutting this in half is 1850 calories, which is about the daily recommended limit for the average person. If my weight gain was due to double portion sizes, then would I have "only" gained 20lbs if I ate half? Or maybe I would have still gained 40lbs, but at a slower rate? It's impossible to say. The only known quantity is that I gained 40lbs. No matter how you portion it, this was exceedingly poor nutrition.
I strongly believe that even eating the correct size portions at these restaurants will still lead to weight gain. That is why I avoid them like the plague. McDonald's beef is inferior quality to a supermarket. Even if one managed to lose weight eating the 'right portions' at chain restaurants, I seriously question what that person's visceral fat, the type that collects on organs, looks like.
Composition and quality of food matters.
This past week I didn't see big movements in my body composition, but I had some. I'm down about .4% bodyfat. I ate between 1600-2200 calories comprised mostly of lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, yogurt, fish, eggs, chicken, pork and beef with an occasional banana and sweet potato thrown in.
I do not for a second believe that if I replaced all these high quality calories with the equivalent numeric value at McDonald's that I would get the same result. I'm certain I would have seen an unpleasant rise in bodyfat. I would not have the energy to make it through my workouts with poor nutrition.
My obesity was a type of malnourishment. I ate poor nutritional quality food which caused excessive fat accumulation.
I don't really follow a calorie range anymore, but I was trying to get as close to 2000 calories as possible this week. My body didn't turn to fat storage mode, despite warnings I was exceeding my calories. For the past month, my weight was holding stable at 1200 calories, which means my body adapted my metabolism to maintain at that level. Now I've shifted it up to a higher value.
I trusted my body and myself that if I ate good, clean food, I would not put on fat. It seems that my diligence was rewarded. Certainly I would have liked to lose more bodyfat, but I didn't gain any, which is even more important.
I was not completely flawless, but I don't really believe in cheat days and my idea of moderation would be considered deprivation by some. I am very picky about what I chose to indulge in. I've had friends tell me to 'live a little' or that I can 'afford' the calories. I don't eat the breaded buffalo wings anymore because I don't like them. They taste like cheap oil, flour and salt with very little chicken meat. I am living well, that's why I refuse them. I cannot afford bad food any more than anyone else.
We had pizza a couple of weeks ago that was made from scratch. I made it Italian flatbread style and topped it with fresh ingredients from the store. I'd never claim it to be health food, but I still think it is better than the pizza joints. You could taste the fresh olive oil and thyme in my flatbread, and I rolled it super thin.
European style pizzas use a very thin crust. The bulk of American pizzas are in the dough, which are not made with fresh olive oil. It's most likely a cottonseed oil blend.
We had Chinese, too. I made spicy stir fried pork with asparagus and bell pepper. No MSG or corn syrup.
I prepared marinades for our BBQ grill this week. We'll be having spicy Korean chicken and kalbi. I also prepared a Mexican carne asada. It's way better than anything I ever ate at that chain restaurant I used to frequent, if I do say so myself.
One of these days I'll get around to writing how I make my "Master One Marinade to Rule Them All" that I use to quickly prepare Korean, Mexican and Indian marinades. There is a base paste that I make which is common to all three of these international styles, and it's just a difference in the spices to turn them into one or the other. Fast. Easy.
There are veggies to grill, too, of course. I'll be buying zukes and summer squashes to go on skewers along with these:
To me, this isn't a chore. I love making food almost as much as I love eating it. I don't enjoy all day cooking, though. My personal challenge is to make great tasting chef inspired food fast and efficient.
I don't carefully measure out portions anymore. If it's a fresh, whole ingredient, I eat what is necessary until I feel sated. Not full. Sated. There is a difference. One means overeating. The other means being well nourished.
I am responsible for what goes into my body. I make it myself. It's the only way to be sure.