What's Wrong With the American Diet and How We Can Fix It

July 25, 2017 / in Nutrition / by Tyler Sutphen, FFC Union Station Personal Trainer

What's Wrong With The American Diet And How We Can Fix ItWhat’s the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “American food”? McDonald’s? Pizza? Or maybe BBQ?

America is one of the largest countries on the planet. Our obesity rates are also one of the highest, and they are only climbing as each day passes.

Currently in the US, 66.8% of people are considered overweight or obese. In children alone, about 33% are considered to be overweight or obese.

How is weight classification determined? BMI (Body Mass Index) is a widely-used method of measurement that is determined by a height to weight ratio.

However, the flaw with the BMI system is that it does not take into account muscle mass, so someone who has a smaller stature with significant muscle mass will fall under a high BMI. However, for the average population BMI is a reasonable data point to indicate your risk for disease.

The American Diet

So what contributes to this ever-growing average number of BMI classification in the US? The food we typically eat and our daily activity levels are to blame. Average American food consumption is built upon red meat, high sodium, dairy products, artificial sweeteners and processed foods.

Our eating habits lack in crucial areas that help keep us healthy and functioning at a higher capacity. These areas include fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, and whole grains. We have all heard about the food pyramid at some point during our lives, however that has now been replaced by what is called ChooseMyPlate.gov. This website is a great resource to use to learn more about nutrition, as it goes into detail about specific nutrients, outlines what your meal proportions should look like on your plate, and even give some recipes for you to try should you choose.

Behavioral Change

MyFitnessPalExample.pngNow, of course it would be unreasonable to request that we all change our diets to be perfect and only eat “clean” foods. So how do we find a good common ground nutritionally? I tell my clients that one of the best things that we can start doing when it comes to nutrition is behavior change.

You say you go out to eat four times a week? Let's try and limit it to twice a week. You like to eat large fries at McDonald's every Tuesday? Let's try and cut it down to a small or medium size. What I also recommend is that people use food logs to help track what they eat. Using apps like MyFitnessPal will open your eyes as to what you are consuming. (Check out our handy guide on how to use MyFitnessPal here!)

Another way to utilize this kind of app would be to have a trainer or someone you speak to regularly help keep you accountable by having them review it each week. When you know what you’re about to eat will be written down and reviewed by someone else, chances are that you will make healthier choices. Interested in guidance with your nutritional progress?

Fitness Formula Clubs offers dietetic services with our team of registered dietitians! The registered dietitian at the Union Station location is Mark Levine, who can be reached at mlevine@ffc.com.

Related: Register Now for a FREE 30-Minute Nutrition Consultation at FFC!

Getting Active

In addition to nutrition, changing your behaviors in regards to activity levels can help. In order to be considered an “active” individual, you need to achieve 10,000 steps every day, minimally. This can be achieved by parking your car farther away than usual so that you have to walk farther, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, or by working out regularly.

Working out regularly is considered to be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, and both should be combined with a well rounded strength training program. The intensity of your training can best be measured as moderate or vigorous depending on the time in each zone your in during heart rate training

Source: "Overweight & Obesity Statistics." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 01 Oct. 2012. Web. 22 May 2017.


About Tyler

Tyler Sutphen is a master trainer at FFC Union Station. Before FFC, he was a master trainer at XSport in Naperville, IL and prior to that, he interned at the MU Human Performance Institute in Columbia, MO. He holds a degree in nutrition and exercise physiology and is certified in both ACE personal training and Functional Movement Screen.


Tyler works with clients of all ages, gender and training goals. Two of his proudest fitness moments are currently 1) helping a client who had just gotten off chemotherapy lose 40 lbs over the course of 90 days and 2) helping another client to fix a muscular imbalance to walk properly again.

Want to contact Tyler to set up a complimentary consultation? You can email him directly at tsutphen@ffc.com! You can also follow along with him on his Facebook page here to receive a weekly fitness update every Monday, along with great tips, tricks and discussion.