The Athletes and Healthy Persons Food Pyramid By Will Brink

Most people are aware of the USDA Food Pyramid, where potatoes are treated like healthy vegetables and people are told to eat 6-11 servings per day of starches from breads, pasta, and white rice. It's a pyramid where all fats are created as equal, seemingly all bad and beans are some how with the protein group.

In short, it's a well intentioned pyramid that has led to a great deal confusion and even fatter Americans. I would like to briefly suggest a food pyramid for bodybuilders and other athletes.

My pyramid (see picture below) employs a more in-depth rating system over that of the standard pyramid. For example, the regular pyramid ignores the fact that not all carbs are created equal (due to their fiber content, etc) putting breads and pasta in the same category as healthier low GI carbs such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, legumes and others.

It makes the incredible blunder of lumping all fats in the same section (i.e., saturated, trans fats, mono unsaturated, etc.) and puts beans in with the meats and eggs section. Beans might be high in protein (for a plant based food) but how beans ended up in with the meats and eggs section is a mystery to me.

In truth, the standard pyramid invites an increase in bodyfat (up to 11 serving per day of breads, pasta and rice!) and other potential problems from the overly high carbohydrate intakes, most of which would be based on heavily processed carbs of the average American diet.

Furthermore, the standard pyramid ignores nutritional supplements altogether. In my view, that's an oversight and a mistake. No matter what a person's diet is like, supplements can and should play a role in optimal health and performance and therefore should be included. That's why I have given them their own position in what I consider a pyramid designed with optimal health and performance in mind.

Finally, the standard USDA pyramid ignores alcohol, which is ubiquitous in our society. Although not a "food" per se in the classic sense, I think a proper pyramid should be set up to help people lead a healthy life regarding what ever they put in their mouth on a regular basis and give them a quick reference to look at to keep track of that goal.

In short, a pyramid that ignores booze, supplements, differences in carbs and differences in fats, etc., is an incomplete pyramid in my view and only leads to fatter, less healthy and nutritionally confused people. Another important point to understand regarding the standard USDA pyramid is that the rankings and groups in that pyramid were not made exclusively on science, but politics.

It's well known that the positioning of many key foods was altered after those industries lobbied heavily to have them moved to a more favorable location on the pyramid. My attempt with this side bar is to rectify that situation. People that want to see the standard pyramid as a reminder should see: http://www .nal.usda.gov:8001/py/pmap .htm

Based on what you have read from the above and looking at the visual representation of the pyramid, the "new and improved" pyramid should be pretty self explanatory.

Click here to jump to the pyramid (which is on a separate sheet below this side bar so that you can print it out for quick referral.)

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