Hi guys,  Kris from Custom Fitness here, your personal trainer in Amarillo. I am always astounded by the mass of misinformation floating around on the internet.  Today we are tackling a huge myth popping up on social media: eating a salad for every meal makes you healthier.  If you’d like help weeding fact from fiction in your news feeds or would like a personalized assessment of your own eating habits, give us a call: 806-322-3188.

Okay, if we are all being honest, when you hear the word diet, salad is the first thing that comes to mind. We have built our view of health on restriction and body image discontentment. Now most Americans (men and women alike) seem to be in search of that perfect diet that will make their dreams come true; making them look and feel like they’re in high school or college again. And usually that “cure” means lots of salad! I honestly couldn’t tell you the number of clients and potential clients I’ve met through the years that truly believe that their weight / body issues just can’t be because they eat salads at least twice per day.  My neck hurts from all the double-taking.

First, I’d like to say that your body at 45 or 60 or whatever age you are past high school / college, isn’t supposed to be same as it was back then. Admittedly, it isn’t supposed to feel and look quite the way we’ve allowed it to either.

Second, in our society of restriction, we are always thinking in the realm of how to cut back excess. But we’ve gone too far; we’ve become so obsessed with the “excess” that we don’t really even have a clear picture of what that is anymore.

Back to our topic though (we’ll save that other stuff for another blog, stay tuned!) did you know that some of the best salad eaters and so called “dieters” I know have a very high body fat percentage putting them in an obese category of health? As a personal trainer in Amarillo, I have seen a lot of people disproving these theories of “healthy life” they have found online.

Now I know that your brain wants to believe that these are overweight people trying to lose fat by “dieting”. I won’t tell you that you are completely wrong. However, over half of these people from an outsider’s perspective would be considered “skinny as a rail”. They might feel like they had another 10 pounds to lose- not because of health concerns- but mostly that’s because they just aren’t happy with the lack of tone or excess jiggle in their arms or legs. How can that be? Well, body composition is a much different metric analysis process than BMI (Body Mass Index). Body composition tells us how much fat versus how much muscle a person has. When a person’s body has more fat than it should (more than 30% for women or more than 25% for men) they are considered, by current health standards, to be obese. The higher the percentage is in this category, the more it raises their risk for things like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. So let’s take the idea of the obese salad eater and see what’s really happening here.

When most people get a salad, they get a small one to reduce the amount they are eating. The salad is usually loaded with romaine or iceberg lettuce, has a few veggies but not much, if any, protein, a few ladles of dressing, and a recent popular addition the dried fruit or candied nuts.

This basically boils down to a bowl of nutrient deficiency. I’m not saying it doesn’t have any nutritional benefit; it’s in there somewhere.  I mean that this bowl of “rabbit food” isn’t give you the most “bang for your buck” nutritionally. A salad like this is almost the equivalent of the typical “protein shake” that may have a lot of protein but not much else other than sugar.

Without a complete meal (including protein, vegetable and healthy fat to create the balance of macros), the body simply cannot do the jobs it is meant to do. To over simplify the idea: imagine the internal processes of the body as a peg board. All of the peg holes are different shapes. The nutrients brought into your body are pegs corresponding to the shapes on the board. When you don’t eat a complete meal or enough of each nutrient, your board(body) has peg holes that cannot be fill with just “any old peg”(nutrient). Each hole has a specific shape and needs its match to keep it functioning.

Instead of thinking Diet=Salad, we need to figure out how to balance our plates and time it when our bodies need it most all the while incorporating a wide variety of nutrients (which should definitely be more than just a salad)in our daily diet. Sounds like quite the undertaking, but we’ll make it easy for you to identify what you need later on in this blog. Second, when we do eat salads, we need to figure out how to make them into a complete meal and not just a pile of certain pegs.

Let’s break this down: a salad should have a dark green leaf (like spinach, kale, etc.). Ever wonder why iceberg and romaine lettuce are so light colored?  It is because it is mostly water.  A salad should have a palm size or more of protein on it. A salad should be limited in extra “toppings” (I’m looking at you bacon bits), but be over loaded with extra veggies like bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, celery, etc. When adding dressing to your salad, instead of pouring it on via the ladle, try pouring the dressing into a small cup on the side then dip your fork first in the dressing and then taking a stab at your salad. This will reduce the “too much” issue and significantly lower the unnecessary calories in your salad. When adding healthy fats to your salad such as nuts, seeds, etc. make sure they are raw or roasted rather than “candied” or sugared.

By adding in extra protein (nuts, chicken, salmon, tuna, etc.) you’ll be able to better supply your body with the amino acids needed to build beautiful muscle tone. By adding dark leafs and extra veggies, you’ll be supplying your body with a full array of nutrients and phytochemicals to support your body’s metabolism and other functions. By reducing, changing or eliminating your dressing, you will be decreasing unnecessary calories which will help facilitate fat loss.

My personal favorites to add on top of salads for dressings are hot sauce or sauerkraut.

Here’s the thing, salads are great for you. Salads are a great nutritional addition no matter the goal. But there are several other factors to consider when we are trying to lose weight / fat that have to come in to top of mind such as nutritional balance, timing, servings sizes, etc.

When people come to me who have been “dieting”, their bodies are normally in a state of confusion and starvation. We typically have to take some time to first reset or undo what’s been done; we must create a sense of calm and strength within the body’s internal systems. Only then can we proceed with working towards their goals and showing positive progress on the scale.

Salad is not the answer to fat loss. Variety is key when it comes to making the body work correctly and through supportive nutrition you can create a large amount of variety while enjoying the foods you are eating and working towards your body transformation goals. If you would like to begin a new lease on life and get a handle on what to eat, give us a call and our trainers will set up a consultation: 806-322-3188 or contact us at info@customfitness.biz.  Custom Fitness also offers personal training, group fitness classes, and challenging programs.  Sound good? We look forward to hearing from you soon..