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SKYBIRD: Dale Brown’s Ops Report
July 2002
Copyright © 2002, HDM Inc.

CCRR: Combat Crew Rest and Recuperation:
The last word on my exercise routine

The last factor in a good exercise routine is, of course, diet. Like the word “exercise,” it’s a scary and intimidating word.

Remember in my case the objective is fat loss. To lose fat you need to take in fewer calories than you expend--in my current scenario, to keep my net intake at or below 2,000 calories per day. You already know that there are three basic kinds of food--protein, carbohydrates, and fat. All are sources of calories; all are sources of nutrition. In basic terms, you need all three for proper bodily function.

[IMAGE] From here, you can get into all kinds of diet fact, fiction, and fantasy. There is truth, science, myth, and magic involved in every one of the fad diets out there. The bottom line: one diet does not work for everyone. You need to try different ways to make yourself feel better, get the nutrients you need, and still move towards the goal of getting healthy.

Here is what I’ve learned over the past few years of paying attention to this subject:

A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet works well for me. This is not an endorsement of the Atkins or Zone diet, just a statement of fact. Why does it work for me? Two reasons:

1) I like protein foods--meats, cheese, fish--better than I like high-carbo foods like vegetables and pasta;

2) Low-carbo diets help keep my blood sugar low when combined with exercise, without affecting my cholesterol level.

You must try everything. If it works, stick with it; if it doesn’t, try something else. Don’t take anyone’s word as gospel. I have been to professional dieticians who knew I was pre-disposed to diabetes that still suggested I eat plenty of fruit and drink plenty of milk, forgetting that the fructose or lactose in these foods are killers for diabetics. Why? They were emphasizing a low-fat, high-fiber diet as the way to lose weight. Did they forget that eating high-sugar foods increases my blood sugar? Their emphasis was on weight loss as the way to lower blood sugar--lose weight, lose fat, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol. The actual result: lower weight but higher blood sugar, no change in cholesterol, and higher blood pressure.

When my Dad went on this very same diet, he went from having just slightly elevated blood sugar to having to inject insulin, all within the space of a year. But he was doing everything they told him to do: eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods; cut back on red meat; skim milk instead of whole milk. Sound like a perfectly good, healthy diet?

If you’re a diabetic, this kind of diet is the kiss of death.

Here are my goals: lose fat, but do it without exacerbating all the other risk factors I possess. Get my net caloric intake at or below 2,000 calories, but avoid foods that elevate blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels. That’s why I chose the high-protein diet: I can eat foods I like without spiking my blood sugar.

The key to eating a high-protein diet: exercise. Exercising every day keeps the other risk factors low. I can eat foods higher in fat without increasing my cholesterol levels, and I can have some carbs without worrying about it spiking my blood sugar levels. The high protein diet also helps my muscles to rebuild and grow after weight training, which is important because I can see results--I can look at the exercise logs and see definite upward trends in strength, and I can look in the mirror and see results too.

I shoot for a seventy-ten-twenty split in protein, carbs, and fat, which equates to 437 grams of protein, 62 grams of carbohydrates, and 55 grams of fat. It is not easy to do. Become an expert in reading labels, and use the Diet and Fitness Journal or a good diet book to get accurate numbers. Once you crunch the numbers, look at where the calories are coming from. Surprised at how many carbs are in popcorn, how much sugar is in ketchup, or how much fat is in the mayo you use to mix your extremely healthy tuna salad up with? So was I.

So is all this working?

When I’m serious about the diet-exercise regimen, it works. I can lose weight, my blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol are at normal levels, and I feel and look good.

When I go off the regimen for whatever reason--illness, injury, deadlines, family obligations, the holiday blahs, whatever--a negative cycle begins. When I skip a day of exercise or pig out on foods I know I shouldn’t have, I feel bad, which leads to stress, which usually leads to more bad eating, more skipped workouts, more stress, more eating, etc., etc.

The goal then is to get off the negative cycle and back on the positive cycle: get on the treadmill, even if it’s only for twenty or thirty minutes; sign up for a trainer for a few sessions as a “tune-up;” try a different diet; read more books; join Weight Watchers; do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to break out of the negative cycle.

Want to know more? Want to give me your opinions, thoughts, experiences? Write to me at I’ll share your thoughts and ideas with the other subscribers. Thanks!

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