Thursday, November 29, 2012

The "Eat Real Food" Diet Lifestyle

I spent some time compiling a hand-out I wanted to give to my clients. After inquiring what most gym goers are confused about, the biggest topic was what to eat!

This is not a “diet”, but a sustainable style of eating that will help you lose stubborn body fat, preserve and build lean muscle mass, decrease inflammation in your body, re-establish healthy hormone levels, and supply you with an abundance of energy. It is often referred to as a “paleolithic diet” for its emphasis on consuming foods that have been naturally-occuring since the paleolithic era. Consuming these natural foods have been scientifically-proven to help heal or alleviate gut problems (IBS, bloating, constipation, etc.), autoimmune conditions (arthritis, thyroid disorders, celiac disease, allergies, etc.), & stress-related illnesses (adrenal fatigue or insufficiency, insomnia, anxiety, etc.)

What do I eat for protein?
Fresh eggs, fish, beef, chicken, turkey, duck, pork, lamb, buffalo, bison, game meat.
What does a serving size of protein look like?
Females, the size of your palm (1/4lb.) Males, the size of two of your palms (1/2lb.)

What do I eat for fat?
Naturally-occuring fats in your meat (chicken skin, egg yolk, etc.), fish oils, butter, fresh coconut, avocado, olives, nuts, seeds.
What does a serving size of fat look like?
Females, one tablespoon. Males, two tablespoons. Fat is used to satiate your hunger. Fat does not make you fat and is crucial for healthy hormonal levels that will tell your body to preserve muscle and burn stored body fat.

What do I eat for carbohydrates?
Vegetables, fresh fruit (not dried), sweet potatoes, yams, butternut/acorn/spaghetti squash, beets, pumpkin.
What does a serving size of carbohydrate look like?
Females, one small banana, or a small sweet potato. Males, a large banana or large sweet potato. Amount of carbohydrate you consume should be dependent on how active you are. Consume 1-4 servings of fruit or a starchy vegetable per day. For reference, a small banana or sweet potato will have about 20-25g of carbohydrate. Vegetables provide negligible carboyhydrate, so consume in abundance.
When should I consume my starchy carboyhydrates to assist in recovery and performance in the gym?
Carbohydrates should always be consumed around your weight training, preferably within 30-45 minutes post-workout. You may also benefit from eating a small bit of carboyhydrate 1-3 hours pre-workout.
Don't I need carbohydrates for energy? How will I have energy only eating 70-150g of carbohydrate a day?
When you are consuming less carbohydrate throughout the day, you will be using stored body fat or dietary fat for energy. Fat is a rich, dense, and consistent source of energy. Your stored body fat supplies you with thousands and thousands of calories for energy. When carboyhydrates are slightly restricted, your body can access these fat stores more efficiently so you are a “fat-burning machine” and not a “carb-burning machine”. This will stabilize your blood sugar levels which will eliminate constant or ravenous hunger and mid-afternoon sugar cravings.

What foods should I avoid?
Gluten (wheat, barley, rye, quinoa, etc.), grains (pasta, rice, cereal, etc.), soy (beans, oil, tofu, etc.), vegetable oils (canola, corn, rapeseed oil, etc.), “low-fat” products (margarine, cookies, crackers), legumes (peanuts, beans), artificial sweeteners, added sugar (agave, honey, etc.), any food item with more than a few ingredients! These are all inflammatory foods that generally do not support a healthy body composition.

What additional supplements are recommended?
Quality omega-3 fish oil, vitamin D3, magnesium, and vitamin K3.
How many calories should I be eating?
If you are eating all natural foods found in nature, your appetite will normalize and you won't need to count calories to achieve your ideal body weight. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.
This seems really restrictive. How could I ever sustain this for life! Don't I get to live a little?!?
Stick to the 80/20 rule. For 80% of the time, eat clean, natural foods and avoid those that are negatively impacting your health. For the other 20% of the time, feel free to indulge (responsibly!) For example, if you were 80% compliant for the week, feel free to let loose and give yourself one full day to eat what you'd like. My only request is that you sincerely note how you feel before, during, and after consuming foods of your choice. Bloated? Tired? Gassy? Headache? Stuffy nose? Acknowledge how these foods make you feel, and make your own determination whether they are worth keeping in your diet.
I still don't think I can do this. You want me to give up my bread and pasta?!? Are you crazy!?
Don't focus on what you can't eat, but focus on what you can eat and how these choices are going to get you closer to your goals. An example menu may be bacon and eggs for breakfast, chicken thighs and roasted cauliflower for lunch, ground beef with sauted onions, peppers, and mushrooms for dinner. Still hungry after all that? Snack on some frozen berries, deli meat, veggies dipped or drizzled in butter, or a handful of nuts.
Won't all that saturated fat clog my arteries? Isn't butter bad for me? I have high cholesterol, won't this diet be dangerous?
Saturated fat in your diet does not directly correlate to saturated fat in your arteries. New studies have confirmed that eating saturated fats that are naturally-occuring in meat, butter and egg yolk do not increase your risk of heart disease or stroke. What does increase your risk of heart disease and stroke is consistently eating inflammatory foods and eating highly-refined or processed food (particularly those high in carbohydrate.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hacking Your Diet Excuses

I loosely recommend to my clients "eat more real food" or "eat as close to nature as possible". And while this could be one of the most simple rules of good nutrition, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's easy to implement. Here are a few of the common excuses why you just can't do it, and why I'm not taking them!
1. Trying to do everything at once.
While some people are those all-or-nothing types, I'd say that the average folk usually fares better with a one-step-at-a-time approach. For instance, instead of eliminating all processed foods right off the bat, start with breakfast. Instead of your chalky bowl of cereal, orange juice and dry toast (wheat or not!) try just a plate of bacon and eggs. Don't worry too much about calories--pay more attention to how you feel. EAT SLOWLY! Enjoy your meal, and acknowledge when you are satisfied. It's okay to leave a little on your plate. Once you realize how much you need to feel full, you'll know how much to cook and this will happen less often. Try just eating that one whole foods meal for a week. Next week, try for a breakfast AND lunch. The following week, all three meals. You got it!
2. Don't have enough time to prepare good foods.
People tend to think it takes hours to prepare and cook their own meals. And don't even get started on washing all those dishes! Reality of the situation? If you're smart and plan accordingly, cooking real food is simple, fast, and will even save you money. All I use to prepare food is a good pan (I love ceramic ones. Non-stick, so easy to clean, and has no toxic teflon), a vegetable steamer, and a crockpot. If you really want to get fancy, you might invest in a nice set of knives. But other than that, that's all you need. Too crunched for time to wash and chop your veggies? Go for frozen. Studies suggest that frozen is actually more nutrient-dense than fresh, since they're typically preserved at their peak. Also, since they're frozen, less chemicals (or wax!) are used to keep them fresher longer. Just dump them in your steamer, set the timer, and come back in 15-25mins. Cooking meat stressing you out? Put some chicken thighs on a roasting pan (skin included!), sprinkle some salt and pepper on them, and bake for 45-60mins. Broil some lamb or pork chops. Throw a chunk of ground meat in your pan, cover with a lid, and let it simmer for 10-20mins. Crockpot is the simplest of all... Throw a large roast and some frozen veggies in there with a bit of water and let cook for 8-12 hours. Easier than ordering from a drive-thru!
3. It's too expensive to eat real food.
If you eliminated all the times that you eat fast food or eat out, I'd guess you just put a couple hundred bucks back in your pocket per month. Seriously, record EVERY time you spend money out on food (and alcohol!) Now think about how much you'd be spending on real food. You can easily get all of your vegetables for .50 to 2$ a pound. Frozen vegetables, including peas, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, kale, and chopped onions are all usually 2$ and under for 16oz. (Side note: corn is not a vegetable! It's a grain!) If you're looking at sale items, you can usually find meat for 2-3$/lb. Seek out coupons and sale flyers in your area. I love Sprouts for their really good deals on quality meat, that are raised without antibiotics or hormones. And contrary to popular belief, sometimes Whole Foods has some great deals on their meat, like 3-4$/lb on humanely-raised beef roasts (chuck is my favorite!) Don't be afraid of the fattier cuts. Fat does not make you fat, and it's critical for healthy hormone functioning. And healthy hormones will give you a lean, strong body! What about cooking fats? These are also relatively cheap, since you won't have to buy them often. Coconut oil and butter are your best options, but olive oil is also acceptable (although not recommended for cooking at high temperatures, like sauteing.)
4. My family/friends/spouse doesn't support my new eating habits.
This is a major one. It's hard to make huge life changes alone, and even harder when the ones we care about question why we're doing it or even question the diet itself ("won't all that saturated fat clog your arteries?!?") Just keep your goals in mind. Reinforce the WHY... Why you are making these changes and why you believe this will work. You have to be strong and willful. Remind yourself of how good it feels to eat real food vs. the artificial, greasy, salty or sugary taste of processed food. Remind yourself how you are investing into your health to prevent stroke, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. Once the non-supporters see your results, there won't be any more discussion!
5. I'm not willing to give up all my favorite foods.
What if I told you that once you started eating this way, you'll establish new, healthy favorite foods? Our taste buds get "conditioned" to enjoy certain foods, especially those that are highly palatable. These include salty, fatty foods like potato chips, sugary foods like candy or cake, or very carb-dense foods like pasta and bread. Another things these foods all have in common is that they are high in carbohydrate. Carbs are notorious for releasing serotonin, or the "feel-good" chemical in our brain. Ever hear somebody say "I eat candy/cake/cookies/chips etc because they 'make  me feel good'?" From an evolutionary standpoint, this was important. We needed to enjoy carbohydrates because they provide energy and signal the body to store fat for times of famish. But in the modern world, this isn't necessary. We don't need those carbs... Even if we are exercising hard and lifting weights, the amount of carbohydrate that is NECESSARY for these activities is actually very little. If we feed our bodies with more natural sources of carbs from vegetables and fruits, and compliment it with satiating foods like meat and fats, our body begins to crave these foods. I'm not saying you can never eat a cookie again, but the less you eat them, the less you will even want them!
So there are five common reasons why people may not be willing to commit to a
healthy diet. No excuses! ;-)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pick Your Poison Wisely

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: I don't eat "perfect". As somebody in the fitness profession, it's unfortunate when people expect or assume that you are some sort of "food nazi" that never lets loose or splurges every now and then (whiskey on the rocks, anyone?) Even when you don't WANT to eat poorly, some days you may find yourself stuck at a gas station, about to gnaw off your travel companion's arm from hunger (my boyfriend now knows to never let his girl go hungry!)

Can't get much better than Wild Turkey Honey Whiskey!

I consider this situation a matter of picking your "poison". These foods may be packaged foods such as cookies, crackers, candy, any gluten-containing foods (nearly everything packaged,) fast food, legumes/beans, soy anything, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed meat (such as SlimJims, aka "mechanically seperated beef or chicken"), commercial protein bars, or soft drinks (including "100% juice" drinks.) Alright... "POISON" may be a strong word to label these foods, but you get my point. They are "less desirable" selections.
When I'm feeling naughty, (or forced to be in certain situations,) I typically never indulge with gluten. While I don't have celiac disease, I feel educated enough about this wheat protein that I know I should NOT be consuming this. Fortunately for me, I was never a huge pasta/bread fan, and the bloating afterward is just not worth it for me. I used to drink beer (which contains gluten, sorry,) but was tired of that bloated, "full" feeling. Anything highly procesed is also not appealing to me. Love me some salty SlimJims, but there's something just "wrong" about it...
I also won't willingly pick to eat sweets. Sugar is highly palatable and rewarding, which means it can be extremely hard to stop consuming. Completely eliminating sweets has probably been the best thing I have done diet-wise. I know that actually sounds like hell, and it quite possibly could be for most in the beginning, but I don't have any "cravings" and it's pretty liberating. I will admit that I am a sucker for dark chocolate, although I always aim for 85% cocoa content. In general, there may be about 12-15g of sugar in an entire 3oz bar. (Although I usually only eat a square or two.)

One of my favorites? Trader Joe's chocolate!

When worst comes to worst, my "indulgences" may include beans, peanuts, liquor, dry wine/champagne, rice, potatoes, or corn. I may do a diet soda in a mixed drink, but would never purchase diet sodas otherwise. Notice that most of my choices follow these guidelines: LEAST amount processed, CLOSEST to nature, and the LEAST amount of sugar. This still allows me some "wiggle room" in my diet but still isn't going to send me spiraling into a sugar coma. Win! So how do you indulge? What would you never touch?