The No-Nonsense Guide to Dieting in College, Made Easy Part 4: Six General Rules of Thumb (5-6)

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By Ari Snaevarsson, Health and Wellness Columnist

In the last article, we discussed Omega 3 and trans fatty acids. We can now turn our attention to the last two rules of thumb, regarding fruits, veggies, water, and planned meals.

  1. Getting your serving of fruits and veggies

People get way too hung up on this aspect of healthy eating. Fruits and vegetables are great ways to get in a proper intake of soluble fiber and a wide array of important micronutrients, but you will not lose weight simply by eating, say, apples instead of chips. I will expand on this more in the upcoming sections, but for the time being, please understand that weight loss/gain is dependent on an energy imbalance (eating fewer/more calories than you burn), not on specific food choices.

With that out of the way, I think it is hard to go wrong with getting in a serving of both fruits and vegetables whenever possible. This suggestion would not make as much sense outside the context of a college campus, but, admittedly, it can be hard to make healthy choices when you rely on dining hall food. For that reason, just grabbing a bowl of mixed veggies and a banana, or something along those lines, with each meal makes a lot of sense.

Not only will you get a healthy serving of micronutrients and phytonutrients, you will be choosing more satiating, high-fiber foods. This means you get full faster, and you get the added benefit of extra soluble fiber, regulating excretion more efficiently, positively affecting gut microbes, and potentially reducing caloric absorption[10].

That last point is worth expanding upon to prevent any confusion. Yes, I alluded earlier to the fact that fruits and veggies are not magical foods that cause you to lose weight, yet I mentioned the potential for a benefit of reduced caloric absorption.

There is undoubtedly a strong correlation between dietary fiber[11] and micronutrient[12] intake and weight loss, but it is essential that we understand these are aids to a calorically appropriate diet. Just as high quality gasoline can prove beneficial to an already high-performance car but no amount of it will make your beat-up 20 year-old station wagon run like new, these elements (of which fiber intake is going to be markedly more effective) can catalyze an already well designed diet, but alone are of little use. This does not speak to their tremendous health benefits though, and we will delve into the health vs. weight manipulation dichotomy in articles to come.

  1. Water and Planned Meals

The amount of health benefits associated with proper fluid intake is too great to simply jot down in a brief paragraph (true, a similar argument could potentially be made for all of these points, but in my opinion, water’s effects on nearly every single bodily function render it one of the largest and more complex topics of nutrition[13]).

For simplicity’s sake, carrying a BPA (Bisphenol A)-free bottle of water with you everywhere you go and adhering to the age-old “clear urine” rule is sufficient for ensuring adequate water intake.

The final rule of thumb I want to go over briefly is that of planning your meals. For the most part, a lot of the guidelines I have already mentioned and have yet to mention are going to be unnecessarily difficult to follow if all of your meals are dependent on when your friends eat.

If your diet consists of one Servo meal and three Taquitos from 7-11 one day and two Bullet meals, a box of Pop Tarts, and a bottle of Coke another day simply because that is when and where your friends are eating, the honest truth is about 75% of what I am going to highlight in this series is going to be near impossible to follow through with.

You need not always eat the same foods at the same dining halls at the same hours (this would break our sustainability rule), but having one or two regular places you go to eat daily, even if that means not always eating with friends, is going to be instrumental in allowing you to easily meet these guidelines, often without much thought at all.

Say, for example, you have a box of protein bars and some fruits from Servo in your room you use for breakfast each morning and you stop by the Dive every day after your 2pm to grab a shake and a fruit. Already, hitting protein requirements (we will talk about this later) and getting in a healthy amount of fruits are no longer concerns you have to deal with each day. Rather, like clockwork, you make a habit of going to the same places and getting similar food choices.

 

We have now covered why it is so important to concern ourselves, as athletes or simply as students who care about our bodies, with eating a healthy diet and we have touched on some general rules of thumb. In the next section, we will look at what meal plan is best for you, along with some simple ways to make healthy choices at all of the dining halls on campus without eating bland food after bland food.

Sources

  1. Jumpertz, Reiner, Duc Son Le, Peter J. Turnbaugh, Cathy Trinidad, Clifton Bogardus, Jeffrey I. Gordon, and Jonathan Krakoff. “Energy-Balance Studies Reveal Associations between Gut Microbes, Caloric Load, and Nutrient Absorption in Humans.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 94, no. 1 (July 1, 2011): 58–65. doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.010132.
  2. Slavin, Joanne L. “Dietary Fiber and Body Weight.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) 21, no. 3 (March 2005): 411–18. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2004.08.018.
  3. Astrup, A., and S. Bügel. “Micronutrient Deficiency in the Aetiology of Obesity.” International Journal of Obesity 34, no. 6 (June 2010): 947–48. doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.81.
  4. Popkin, Barry M., Kristen E. D’Anci, and Irwin H. Rosenberg. “Water, Hydration and Health.” Nutrition Reviews 68, no. 8 (August 2010): 439–58. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x.
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