Ms Fitness Magazine article

For me, finding the perfect food program was an endeavor of learning to recognize how my body utilized nutrition. This was a process that took some time to master. You see, what works for one person may not work for another. Let me explain what I’m talking about by recounting some past experiences.

When I initially pondered the thought of competing in fitness contests, nutrition was my last priority. I never realized the importance of how food actually affects the physique until I stood on stage. It was somewhat of a rude awakening. From that point on I knew that if I wanted to be a fitness champion, I was going to have to develop an eating strategy that not only lowered my body fat but gave me enough energy to weight lift, do gymnastics, and complete daily aerobic sessions.

The first diet or food program (as I like to call it) I embarked upon was your typical low fat kind. Many of my fellow competitors were using this regimen successfully so I figured why not. I followed this plan religiously expecting great results. They never came. At best, my condition was "O.K." I began to realize that the low fat diet I was on wasn’t rendering the desired results. After eight weeks the thighs and buttocks area were not lean or hard. In other words, I still got nauseous having to see this in the mirror. This was not supposed to be happening since I thought I was eating the right way and I was training very hard.

Not being one to accept failure, I began researching everything I could on fats, protein, and carbohydrates and how they effected the human body’s ability to lose body fat. This led to the discovery of one of the best books I have ever read called "Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill": by Udo Erasmus. Until this point, I was basically in the dark about fats and their benefits. I was under the general impression that fats were bad for you and should be avoided at all cost. I had no idea that some fats are essential to the body and should be mandatory in a diet aimed at gaining lean muscle mass. Believe it or not, good fats, or essential fatty acids can actually help you shed body fat.

The next discovery I made came from reading some nutritional information written by Lee Labrada. Having been an athlete who practiced what he preached, I always listened to what Lee had to say, and this time he was talking to me. The article was about how some people are insulin resistant and just don’t tolerate sugar well. One in four Americans suffer with this problem. Insulin resistance is a condition of decreased responsiveness to insulin wherein the fat cells, liver cells, and muscle cells have become insensitive to normal levels of circulating insulin. This meant insulin levels would have to be increased in order for the cells to respond. Unfortunately, insulin tends to block lipolysis, the conversion of fat back to glucose, making it even more difficult to burn fat for energy. This had "Darby" written all over it. Most of the carbs I ate went right to the saddle bags. Enough said.

Lastly, everything I read on protein told me what I already knew. A hard training athlete needs plenty. I always favored a fairly high intake if nothing else. As a rule of thumb, I always made sure to take in at least one gram of protein for every pound that I weighed. My daily average usually falls around 150 grams. Since it is difficult to physically eat this amount, I have always preferred to supplement a whey protein complex between meals to meet daily requirements. I use ProPlex Plus by Labrada Bodybuilding Nutrition. It mixes easily and tastes fantastic.

Now that I had a more informed view of how the different aspects of nutrition could affect my condition, I developed a new program geared towards my specific needs. Since my protein intake was O.K., I concentrated on fats and carbs. The inclusion of essential fatty acids was a given. Since Udo Erasmus authored the book I so enjoyed, I sought out his oil blend marketed by a company called Flora. The blend is called Udo’s Choice, rather appropriately. A couple of servings of this every day gave me all my good fats I needed in the right combination. The remainder of fat in my diet came from lean beef, nuts, and seeds. My total fat for the day would be about 30-40 grams.

The main change made in my carbohydrate intake was in the type consumed, not the quantity. Actually, it seemed as though I was eating more when in reality I consumed fewer calories. Are you lost now? Let me explain. I knew that the carbs I ate while doing the low fat diet would have to be addressed. I needed to find the type of carbohydrate that would promote insulin management and prohibit the possibility of fat storage. Carbs like this would need to be dense in fiber to help slow absorption and keep blood sugar levels steady. Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots proved to be the magic combination for me. Mixed with the right amount of protein and fat, this was truly my lethal weapon for getting lean and muscular without suffering energy loss. These types of fibrous vegetables require so much digestion and assimilation that they turn your metabolism into a virtual furnace. Luckily I was inquisitive.

This food program assisted me in gaining scores of regional titles with a national and world title to boot. A good point to be made here is this; If the present course of direction your diet is taking you is stagnant or, worse…ineffective, take action. Don’t accept failure as an option. The answer is out there and it’s just waiting to be discovered. FIND IT!

For more information on nutrition look for Darby’s new audio cassette: How to get lean and feel great…MY WAY. Send check or money order for $10.95 plus $1.50 shipping to:

Darby Hart

Ms Fitness World

40 W. Nine Mile Rd. #2-215

Pensacola, FL 32534