This is a catch phrase that appears to be gaining in popularity now.
Is not all food functional? Would the function of a powder sugar donut not be to satisfy a craving?
Just what in the world is considered a functional food today anyhow?
A functional food is a food claimed to have an additional function (often one related to health-promotion or disease prevention) by adding new ingredients or more of existing ingredients. The term may also apply to traits purposely bred into existing edible plants, such as purple or gold potatoes having enriched anthocyanin or carotenoid contents, respectively. Functional foods may be “designed to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, and may be similar in appearance to conventional food and consumed as part of a regular diet”. (1)
The term “functional food” kind of grates on my nerves. Listen, let’s be real for a moment. All food that provides you a nutritional benefit is functional to your good health. Now days, there already seems to be too many with a lack of understanding as to what comprises good nutrition, and then someone creates a term that further exasperates this confusion. If our schools still taught nutrition and health, these kinds of fancy terms along with a lack of nutritional knowledge would be much more rare than they are today. I find it sad we have people here in America that do not understand, and some who do not care, it is bad for their health to live on cookies, cakes, potato chips and soda pop. That is until their weight has become out of their control or has caused them health issues. related to their dietary habits. This is when they begin looking for the latest trends, fads if you will, in losing weight.
I’m going to be a Vegan!
I’m going to start my Keto tomorrow!
Or, one I saw recently:
I’m going to try Keto Vegetarianism…
People who become desperate to lose weight will very often begin looking for the newest fads to get their weight down. Or conversely, they may begin researching how to best lose weight and fall for the plans that sound the most scholarly, hence the term “functional food”. By consuming “functional foods”, I must be going about weight loss or management in the most efficient manner, right?
No, not necessarily.
At David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we promote keeping your stress down by “making your world small”. I strongly believe in the KISS principle;
Keep It Simple Stupid
I do not condone fad diets, nor do I advocate weight loss plans that allow you to keep doing that which got you fat in the first place. And I find it not in the least helpful when people present plans to the average individual where their terms are getting a little too technical sounding, such as “functional food”.
Without rehashing David’s Way Plan/Methodology in the entirety, I will sum it up in a nutshell. (You can click on the link for my plan in it’s full glory.)
My methodology is simple.
I will not tell you what to eat, though I do tell you to quit eating all sugar, simple carbs, and processed foods that contain simple sugars, unhealthy fats, high sodium and preservatives.
While I am not going to make your food choices for you, I will say to shop around the perimeter of your grocery store and only buy whole foods which you have to prepare yourself.
Meats and fish
Vegetables of all types
I instruct to only consume the amount of calories your body needs in order to lose weight in a healthy manner at 1 pound per week, or to maintain your weight. You can find your caloric needs on our Calorie Counter Pro. You will find that when you only consume healthy foods, it can be quite difficult to actually eat enough calories to maintain your weight. Be accountable to yourself in what you eat every day. Make nutritional accountability your permanent lifestyle, not a temporary diet.
With each meal, ensure you get a good mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Protein repairs and rebuilds all of our cellular structure. Complex carbohydrates fuel our bodies. Healthy fats help your body absorb important nutrients and produce essential hormones too.
I personally go for 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight. I have a target range of 100 to 150 net grams of complex carbohydrates with a minimum of 30 grams per day of fiber which offsets your total carb intake. (155g carbs – 30g fiber =125g net carbs) And the rest of my caloric intake is made up of healthy omega 3 fatty acid rich fats for 2200 calories per day.
If you get a good mix of these macro-nutrients with each meal and watch your calories, the macro-nutrient math will take care of itself.
My methodology is nothing new. It is how my generation grew up eating before our nation’s obesity epidemic came into being. We had 3 nutritious meals per day with minimal snacking in between. When dinner was over in the evening, the kitchen was closed until breakfast time the following morning. Today, we often hear about another catch phrase, “Intermittent Fasting”, but it too is not new. When dinner was over and you did not eat until breakfast, that is “Intermittent Fasting”. I actually like “IF” on the 16:8 protocol and advocate it for those who are on weight loss mode. It is effective, but does not need the special name. You can just make this a part of your new lifestyle without feeling as if you are doing something new and special.
“Functional Foods” is only a marketing tool. Do not get caught up in trying to only consume foods with this label. As long as you make the smart choice to practice sound dietary habits where you eat foods that provide you with all your nutrients and macro-nutrient needs, your health and weight will take care of itself, unless you have let your health deteriorate too far. Even then, sound nutrition can still improve your quality of life. This is something junk foods will never accomplish for you.