What does “healthy” mean to you?
There are so many terms that get thrown around that we often forget what they even mean. An Example of this is the term “functional” when talking about types of exercises you should be doing. Then you’ll hear about people “hacking” fat loss, fitness, hunger, etc. Given that this is a healthy living blog, another term I see floated around on social media daily is “healthy“. What does “healthy” even mean anymore?
Are six pack abs healthy?
Is the Food Babe healthy?
Is ice cream healthy, ’cause IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)?
What’s not important is to try and lump all of these things into one category. What is important is to define what your healthy is.
Let me explain.
In the Spring / Summer, I like to spend a few months dieting down so I’m leaner for beach trips. When dieting, you have to be in a caloric deficit. Well dieting isn’t fun because it means you can’t eat pancakes or desserts as often as you may like. So when I would indulge a little and make some protein pancakes, I might top it off with sugar-free maple syrup.
Is sugar-free syrup healthy?
It’s super low calorie and allows me to satisfy my sweet tooth while still maintaining a lean physique. Ask a “real food” advocate, and they would be disgusted that I am eating something with more than five ingredients and words in the ingredients list that you cannot easily pronounce.
So who’s right?
Technically, we both are. It’s healthy in a sense that it is allowing me to satisfy my cravings without the high caloric impact. But you could also argue that it is not healthy because it is not real food. Since I’m the one dieting, and my goal is a defined midsection, and I know this isn’t something I am going to eat frequently, I would deem sugar-free syrup as healthy for me.
Let’s look at another example, ice cream.
In it’s simplest form, fat loss is about energy in vs energy out. Yes, it’s more complicated than this. Food quality matters. Sleep matters. Stress matters. Exercise matters. But, simply put, if input > output, fat loss will not occur.
Let’s say you follow the IIFYM lifestyle. It’s almost bedtime and you have 300 calories left of some fat and carbs to fulfill. You decide to have a serving of ice cream.
Is this healthy?
Depends on who you ask. Ask the real foodie, they say no. “Look at the ingredients list!” Ask me, I say yes. Your goal is to eat within a specific macronutrient total each day. Your ice cream fits that requirement. So for you, I would consider this healthy. Should you eat ice cream every day? Probably not. But did you just curb your cravings without sacrificing your fat loss efforts? Yerp. Healthy, done.
There are tons more examples of this. Should you eat the whole egg or just egg whites? It depends. Have some extra room for fat in your diet? Eat the whole egg. It’s one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Need mostly protein? Eat egg whites this time around. Both are healthy, though you may get different answers depending on who you ask.
So what’s the point in all this?
Don’t get wrapped up in what your co-worker or someone on Facebook says is healthy or not. If you see a lean person eating a giant plate of pasta, don’t just assume that pasta is a healthy option for you. Especially if you sit at a computer eight hours a day and watch DVR four hours a night. The lean person more than likely worked out at some point that day and is using the starchy carbohydrates to refuel from his / her workout.
If you are more confused now than when you started the article, fear not. Know that nothing in nutrition is black and white. Nor is it in fitness. Or any other realm either, really. There is always going to be a gray area. The idea is to, first, identify what your personal goals are. Are you trying to get abs? Are you just trying to look and feel better? Trying to build muscle? Figure this out first. Then identify your healthy.
If fat loss is something you currently struggle with, I have something I want to give you. I’ve created a [FREE] 8 part fat loss video series. Each module we cover a different aspect of your new fat loss lifestyle. We cover macronutrients, alcohol, supplements, exercise and plenty more. To learn more about it, check this out.
Brian Brian is a certified trainer and hormonal fat loss consultant through Metabolic Effect. His likes include the Carolina Panthers, IPAs and lifting heavy weights. His dislikes include traffic, negative people and the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can find Brian at his blog, on Twitter or Facebook. Come say hi.