This is the food pyramid. For those of you that grew up under a rock, this is the food guide that we’ve learned about since grade school showing us how to eat correctly. That’s great! The only tiny little bad thing about it, is that it’s not designed with your actual dietary needs in mind.
Let’s take a step back to the dark roots of the food pyramid for a second though.
It was first invented by, you guessed it, the Egyptians in early 4000 BC. It was made to be a device to trick their slaves into eating terrible things. Roughly translated, this pyramid says, from bottom to top:
So, as you can see, this is clearly not a correct macro nutrient ratio, especially for growing slaves that have to build giant monuments. After Ramses II (Also known as Ramses the Wicked) died, his twin brother Ramses II (also known as Ramses the Nutritionist) took power, and the food pyramid was done away with.
After that, it had it’s most recent appearance in Denmark, and then was picked up in 1992 by the USDA. The United States Department of Agriculture. This is problematic on two levels. First of all, I don’t need the Government telling me how to eat. They can’t be trusted. (Soylent Green anyone?) And secondly, it would seem as if the USDA has a vested interest in getting us to eat certain kinds of food based on what was best for the farmers and ranchers, and not on dietary constraints. That might not be true, but it’s definitely a conspiracy theory you should be aware of.
On top of that, science has shown us that a diet high in cereal grains is not a healthy way to go. If you eat somewhere in the middle of your 6-11 servings of carbs, even with a healthy choice like whole grain bread, you’re still looking at 120 cal per slice x 8 servings or 960 calories of pure carbohydrates. This might be ok if you’re an elite athlete training 4hours per day, but it certainly is not alright for your average cubicle hero.
Science has come a long way from where it has been. We’re almost at the end of the line with Low or No Fat diets, and we’ve since switched to demonizing carbs and making them the ones responsible for obesity in America, diabetes, and Rebecca Black’s rise to stardom.
However, this still has yet to be reflected in society’s general eating habits. Aside from the diet books and fitness magazines, there is very little change in what the FDA and the government recommends you eat daily. What change there is, is reflected in portion size, and not necessarily makeup of meals. A step in the right direction, but it doesn’t cut it.
Do we need government backing to eat well? No. If the government did tell us how to eat, would we do it? Probably not. Are we as a society lazy and weak willed? Yes. Am I undeniably handsome? Absolutely.
If you can, or if you care, try to stick to a diet that’s 40-45% protein 35-50% carbs, and 10-20% fats. The 50% carbs doesn’t mean ice cream and wonder bread though. Stick with low amounts of cereal grains, and high amounts of veggies and legumes,
And now for two enormous bonus tips for the people that have read this far:
1) I’ve heard it called the “green faces” diet. It’s easy. You can/should eat it if it’s green and grows, or if it had a face at some point. This relegates you to eating a lot of lean meats and protein, and vegetables. Perfect. Don’t eat it if it once had a face, but now is green. That’s bad.
Also, eggs count.
2) 100 grams to freedom. If you’re trying to cut down on weight, just restrict your carbohydrate intake to 100 grams per day. The idea is that you, being smart and efficient, will only eat the good carbs, and cut out the bad, but offers the insurance policy that even if you do eat poorly, you can only eat a small amount of bad stuff.
Try #2, let me know how soon you can see your abs.