Avoid the numbers on your bathroom scale and pay attention, instead, to the numbers that mean the most: your cholesterol, your blood pressure and your insulin sensitivity. Those numbers reflect metabolic fitness.
Metabolism includes all of your body’s energy activities, the chemical reactions and processes that occur every second of your life to provide energy for vital processes and movement. According to Professor Glenn A. Gaesser, Ph.D., author of a book that I love Big Fat Lies “Being metabolically fit means having a metabolism that maximizes vitality and minimizes the risk of disease — particularly those diseases that are influenced by lifestyle, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.” Recent studies indicate you might even add Alzheimer’s to that list. Measures of metabolic fitness reveal how well or efficiently your metabolism work. Metabolic fitness is a relatively new part of the fitness puzzle, one you can measure in a lot of ways, including assessments of your insulin resistance and sensitivity (blood sugar levels), resting and exercise metabolic rates, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
EATING FOR METABOLIC FITNESS
Your choices for foods are a vast landscape of choices. The number of new food products grows daily. Likewise, your decisions about quantity, quality, packaging, preparation, and so forth for your healthy and fit eating provide you with even more challenges. These challenges for many, lead to confusion about how to eat. One of the most common questions asked of me is this one, “Sally, what should I eat?” The answer to that ques on on one level is complex and on the other is as simple as looking at a 5.5” x 8” card – I am about to show that to you.
There are lots of reasons why Americans struggle with what to eat – and this isn’t the place to list them all. You probably know of this confusion first-hand and welcome a simple solution to it.
To provide you with nutrition that goes along with metabolic fitness, an easy-to-understand and simple diet plan is in order. That’s just what I have for you and it’s called eating in the Food Zones©. I have designed the Sally Edwards’ Food Zones chart to make one picture capture a thousand answers. The primary chart classifies foods based on its inherent metabolic load or stress. That is, what is the weight of that food on your physiology, your vital processes? The metabolically light foods, the low zone foods are the healthiest for your metabolism and you want to select foods from this zone and eat them often.
There are five different Food Zones. Each zone is number with low numbers 1-4 being low and lower metabolic load foods. Eat foods from the low numbers, lower is better. Each zone is color-coded with the lowest zones in shades of blue to green to yellow. The high load zones are in the hot colors from orange to scarlet red. One more time, the reasons that you want to eat in the calmer and gentler shades of colors is that foods from these zones optimize your energy and health. They are the foods that are least likely to lead you down the dreadful pathway of degenerative diseases like Syndrome X or metabolic disease.
In discussions around our household, we talk about what color or number zone we spent most of our nutrient intake in. I’ll hear conversations and encourage you to do the same like this one, “I had a tough day and ate mostly in the Orange Zone. It is a Zone 4 day for me but I had a Blue Zone breakfast.”
Before you can engage in understanding the language of the Food Zones study the five different colored Food Zones that is the foundation of eating a low metabolic load diet:
THE THRESHOLD LINE
A threshold, like a door threshold, is a cross over point between two spaces. In the Food Zones chart, the Threshold line is the white line. Above the Threshold line are the red zones which are the least healthy; some are even toxic. Below the white line are the healthier foods, enjoy them with care.
In one way, eating well can be summarized in a few words – eat below the threshold line. And yet, we know that it isn’t easy to eat well for more reasons than I want to discuss. Rather, make every attempt to eat foods in the low zones.
Across the top of the Food Zones chart are the headings for each column. Read them carefully to understand the quality of what you are eating:
The higher the number, the lower the quality of the food. Eat in the low number zones.
Describes what happens if you eat in that zone on a regular basis.
Lists the different types of fat with the fats in the low zone the highest quality.
Describes the types of grains that are in bread in order of quality
Lists the meats and vegetables with the least fat or the best quality of protein.
Qualities the best liquids with water being the best.
This is a fun column for all of the chocoholics that want to know which chocolates have the best health benefits.
Lists the roughage with the highest quality in the blue zones and foods with little to no fiber in the 5c zone.
Ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs.
Ranks how food is prepared with the least amount of altering of food the best choice.
A way of giving each rank a value from superb or avoid at all costs.
Following a few diet guidelines can make your eating for metabolic fitness and health which results in weight loss a simpler challenge. Here are a few Sallyisms or tips that I follow:
Individualized Nutrition: Each person needs to eat in accordance with their lifestyle and not a one-diet-fits all plan.
• Food Dynamics: Add a variety of foods including new foods to your food selection.
• Emotional Foods: Comfort foods and food cravings are normal. Try to respond by choosing foods in the lower Food Zones.
• High Energy Foods: High in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and lean meats.
• Support: Surround yourself with those who also eat a cardio-metabolic diet. Encourage your entire family to eat from the Food Zones Chart and to eat in the blue-green-yellow zones.
• Eat In or Make to Go: To better control portion sizes, nutrient density, and less processed food, eating in or packing a meal-to-go is your best choice.
• Flexibility: Not essential to eat only in the four low Zones. Exceptions are permitted, that is only human nature.
• Eating habits and behaviors: Eat frequent small amounts of nutrient dense foods.
• Quality: It is better to eat less quantity but more quality.
• Food Group Balance: Each meal should contain the three food groups: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
• The Rule of 3 Times: Eat three times the fruits and vegetables as you do meat and fat.
• Drink and Be Merry: Drink lots of fluids preferably water and below Threshold fluids.
• Follow the Weight Formula: Practice emotional zones, metabolic, and cardio-zones every day.
• Not a Diet but How You Eat: Think of Low Zone eating as the way you eat, not as a diet for a certain period of time.
• Eat Low Glycemic Load (GL) Foods: Eat foods that have low glycemic load because not all carbohydrates are equal.
Food Zones Chart
More to come ..
Keep your eyes peeled as we continue to release excerpts throughout upcoming weeks. If you want to read the entire book, make sure to swing by our online store and grab a copy: The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook.