Lean Habits - Eating to Lose


Heres an adapted version of Precision Nutritions 5 Lean Habits that I share with my nutrition clients. This isn't a diet plan, its a lifestyle. Many of us are too sedentary, and consume far too many processed, high sugar, high sodium, calorie dense foods. The key to weight maintenance is daily activity, and a diet consisting of whole, natural, unprocessed proteins, fruits and vegetables. If its comes in a box, package, or bottle, its probably devoid of any nutrient value and loaded with empty calories. Best selling nutrition and culture author, Michael Pollan, summed it up best "eat often, not too much, mostly plants." For more information on my diet and exercise prescriptions, feel free to contact me here.

5 Lean Habits

 1. Frequent Small Meals. Eat every 2-4 hours - eating boosts your metabolism via the thermic effect of feeding (TEF), and promotes stable blood sugar levels, combating cravings and binging. It also affects several hormones, which set the body up for either fat storage or fat burning.

 2. Protein First. Protein comes from the Greek word Proteios, meaning first or most important. Amino acids are the building block of every cell in your body. Choose a lean protein (poultry, fish, lean beef, pork, eggs, 2% dairy, whey protein supplements, soy) every time you put any food in your mouth - Make protein the focus of each meal. Protein boosts the metabolism, as its harder to digest than other foods. It also promotes muscle development which is more metabolically active than fat. Your body can store sugars and fats, but cannot store proteins, so its important to fuel this need regularly, or your body will tap into muscle to get the proteins it needs to function, thereby decreasing your metabolism, promoting fat storage.

 3. Lots of Veggies. 1-2 servings (1 cup raw, 1/2 cup cooked or 1 piece) of veggies and or fruits (4:1 ratio) every time you eat something. Veggies and fruits are nutrient dense and low in calories. They provide good carbohydrates and displace bad calorie dense carbs (breads, pastas, sugars, grains)

 4. Time Your Carbs. Starchy complex carbs (whole grains, pastas, breads, rice, cereals, snacks, sugars) only 1-2 hours following exercise. Otherwise, these carbs are converted to sugars and stored as body fat. Starchy carbs are simply long chains of sugars molecules. Feed your muscles with starches post workout when insulin sensitivity is greatest. Avoid these carbs on rest, and cardio days.

 5. Eat fat to burn fat. Eat more healthy fats throughout the day (nuts, nut butters, avocados, olives, olive oil, fish oil supplements, marine foods, chia seeds, flax) Fats are calorically dense, and provide satiety, keeping you full between meals.  Many of the tissues in the body are lipid(fat) based. Eating more fat, will enhance weight-loss, mood, hormone production, fat soluble vitamin absorption, and immunity.

You Can't Out -train a Bad Diet

In a recent online discussion with some industry leaders, the topic of a fitness professionals role in dispensing nutritional recommendations came up. You can follow that discussion here, but I  wanted to expand it on a little. You cant out train your diet. Most of my general population clients have weight loss or body comp goals. While its easy to present the value of moving and feeling better, shifting the focus away from aesthetic goals, most clients are more vain than that. Another large client base are athletes with performance goals. You cant out perform a bad diet either. As a CSCS and nutrition minor, I feel confident and qualified to dispense general nutrition and supplement guidelines as stipulated by my governing certifications and degrees. However, clients need to recognize the qualifications of the fitness pro they are working with and take what they say with a grain of salt, or sans salt :). Ask about their credentials and know only a registered dietician should be giving specific caloric suggestions and food combinations. Adverse side effects from too much or too little of certain nutrients or calories can leave an unqualified professional liable. I often take for granted, how little people know about nutrition and how it plays a role with their goals. I find most often, the aspiring Manhattan chic predisposes clients to infrequent eating, followed by poor choice binging at restaurants that don t have their guests nutrition in mind. Combine these heavily salted, high fat, high calories meals with excessive alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle, and you have a recipe for a US obesity epidemic. Simple changes such as 4-6 small meals a day, lean proteins, healthy fats, high fiber carbs, and increased non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids, can be life changing. Many clients fail to realize an alcoholic drink of any concoction, is going to exceed 100 calories, and a gram of alcohol is almost as calorically dense as a gram of fat. (7kcal/g vs 9) 2 drinks a day, over the course of the week, easily adds up to an additional 2000 calories. A pound of fat is 3500 calories. How long will it take you to gain another pound?? The average adult gains 2 pounds a year. Cutting your alcohol intake by 50% could dramatically drop your caloric intake. Eating more meals at home that out is an easy way to know what you are putting in your body. Restaurant foods are salted, sweetened and larded for pleasure, desensitizing our palettes to salt, fat and sugar. Even with healthy menu options its hard to turn down what we want in the moment versus our long term goals. Having said that, I do not believe there are "bad" foods, its the quantity of those bad or calorically dense foods. Learn portion control. A fist size of protein and high fiber carb is more than enough for most people. You do not have to clean your plate, save it for later. Skip the dessert and cut back on the alcohol. Little modifications over time can make all the difference over time. Be consistent with your diet and exercise. Make moderate eating and exercising a lifestyle. Consult a qualified fitness professional and nutritionist to help you get on the right track. Some mainstream applications I like for tracking calories and being more mindful of eating habits can be found at livestrong.com or loseit.com, both are conveniently available on blackberries and iPhones too.

For the fitness professional, remaining within ones professional scope of practice and referring out is important. But for many, simple lifestyle modifications can be more than an ounce of prevention, and fitness pros are the first in the line of defense for many diet related diseases and preventative care.

Macronutrients and Eating a Balanced Diet - Fat Phobia

As Americans continue to struggle with diet and obesity, we keep looking for things to eliminate from out diets as the next hot weight loss trend. First it was fat, fat free everything, which led to over consuming over processed carbohydrates, and a heavier population. Why are we so fat phobic? Dietary fat, should have a different name. Though its chemically similar to the adipose tissue we store in our bodies, and every cell is made of, including 2/3 of our brains, consuming dietary fat does not necessarily lead to storing more adipose tissue. Yes, dietary fat is calorically dense, so it should be eaten in moderation. That density though, packs a punch in terms of satiety. Fat slows down digestion, which slows down the rate at which you blood is flooded with the sugar from the carbs you are also eating. Foods, specifically carbohydrates are ranked according to their glycemic index, a scale measuring the level of blood glucose and insulin levels after eating.  Low glycemic foods are the secret to long-term health, reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and is the key to sustainable weight loss. Fat slows theses foods absorption rate, thereby lowering the natural glycemic index. Additionally, fat triggers hormones in the body that leave you more satisfied sooner, and longer. Healthy fats include mono and poly unsaturated fats, high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which have been proven to boost and protect brain and heart function. Foods rich in these fats, include olive,nut and seed oils, avocados, nuts and seeds, fish, and some plants. Additionally, some grass fed animal proteins and dairy now contain high levels of omega 3 and 6. Start incorporating healthy fats into your balanced diet of lean proteins, plant-based complete protein combinations and high fiber, low glycemic carbohydrates. These 3 macronutrients should be consumed at every meal and snack to control hunger, blood sugar, weight management, and physical and mental performance.

Look out for my next blog on macronutrients as I explore the mistakes and benefits of protein and carbohydrate consumption as part of a balanced diet.