1. Eat less
2. Eat more protein, fruits and veggies
3. Get moving
No matter your goals this is the simplicity of attaining them. If you utilize these rules with the correct foods you will feel satiated, happy with your eating habits, the taste of your food plus look and feel how you want too.
This may seem obvious but portion sizes in America are out of control. Eat slower, chew your food and take a breather. Hippocrates stated, “if you have eaten and still feel some hunger you have satisfied your body. If you have eaten until full, you have poisoned yourself.” That is not verbatim but the truth of this statement is evident. Low calorie diets, although not the current fad, produce less free radicals to increase disease and illness in the body. Eat right but do not be gluttonous in your eating. Calorie reduced diets increase longevity and health biomarkers. I continue to recommdent intermittent fasting for all my clients because it is simple, does not disrupt day to day activities and does not leave people feeling hungry.
Eat more protein, fruits and veggies
Everyone knows in this day and age the value of protein, fruits and veggies. Protein is largely taken for granted and although many Americans meet the minimum requirement there are benefits from consuming additional amounts of protein. There is a difference between organic fruits and veggies as well as organic grass fed meat as compared to conventional foods. When the option presents itself always choose organic and grass fed foods. The governments food pyramid suggests eating 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit with a serving size equaling ½ cup. There are no issues with consuming additional fruits and veggies as long as calorie consumption is taken into account. Truth be told more fruits and vegetables will only help you as they have everything your body requires. This of course assumes you are obtaining enough protein from quality sources such as eggs, poultry, fish and beef. Don’t misquote me and eat nothing but apples forever thinking you are getting what you need. Variety is key here. Make certain you are eating many different fruits and vegetables for optimal health. Make certain you are hitting as close to .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight to satiety and provide the micronutrients that plants do not give in large quantities. This will reduce your intake of processed foods and sugary snacks, which only increase your waste line and health woes.
If you’re reading this its because you have renewed vigor in obtaining optimal health. Fitness is essential to health. You do not have to run marathons in order to be in great shape or live a long and healthy life. Just be active for 20-30 minutes a day and change your activity and you can obtain the health you need. Again, more is better within reason. I prefer resistance training because I feel the benefits far outweight simple cardio routines. The point is that as long as you are doing something you are healthier than if you are not doing anything. A daily jogger who begins running marathons is not seeing much increase in fitness but a person who is your typical couch potato increases health biomarkers 50% or more simply by starting a training program. Don’t expect to do strong man competitions pulling tractor trailers and assume you won’t be sore for a few days. Proper exercise, proper rest, proper activities that keep your heart rate up and build lean muscle mass will protect your body from injury and disease and keep you healthy long into old age.
Set yourself up for success
Don’t make the mistake of jumping into the deep end right off the bat. Too many people fail initially because they try to go from a fast food diet to a completely healthy diet in one day. This will undoubtedly lead to failure. Begin slowly and make small consistent changes. Patterns and habits will evolve from this process and you will discover love for foods you never even though you would like.
• Simplify. Don’t worry about calorie counting or correct foods to eat together. Focus on fresh food that you know you will enjoy. Begin there and build meals that are quick and easy. Quick and easy meals can be saved for days and can be interchanged with other meals. Don’t worry if one doesn’t work or you don’t like it, move on and try again. Remember to go for organic, colorful foods and grass fed organic meats that have not been processed.
• Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables along with grilled chicken) to your diet once a day or switching from canola oil to organic, grass fed butter. As your small changes become habit you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
• Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy and reduce the risk of disease all while reducing your waist line and attaining the look you want and deserve. A mistake is a one time event, it’s the decision you make at the next juncture that will define how you proceed. If you mess up and eat a candy bar on a Monday afternoon that doesn’t mean your new way of eating is ruined. Continue with what you know is correct at the very next meal. It’s the consistency over time that will get you where you need to be.
Water and Exercise; these can not be overstated
Water. Water helps remove waste from the system and keep us functioning properly at the cellular level. Yet many people go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy and headaches among other illnesess. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices. Aim for half your body weight in ounces a day and you will be hydrated. This means that a 160lb person / 2 = 80 ounces of water a day.
Exercise. As indicated in rule 3, get out there and get moving. Exercising 20-30 minutes a day is the minimum requirement in order to remain healthy. Not exercising leads to many health issues. Use it or lose it definitely applies to the body. After the age of 30 your body begins losing lean muscle and after the age of 50 the rate can be as high as a half a pound of muscle a year. Increased protein reduces this muscle waste by providing needed amino acids and resistance training will blunt the loss altogether. If you are not utilizing your body it will shut down on you. Find something you like and start there. Walking is an excellent start for those that have not exercised in a long time. Getting the heart rate up will have profound changes on overall life satisfaction and will encourage dietary goals. Increase to some form of resistance training and make certain you are progressing. Always have a goal, do not let your training become stagnant.
Moderation is key
Most people assume moderation means all or nothing when it comes to choosing foods and training programs. This is not the case. Fad diets that come and go have you believe that you need to eat all meat or all juices or all fruits for a period of time. This is insane and not something anyone can continue for extended periods of time. The same is true for your training. You can not maintain any one training program forever without becoming bored and boredom leads to quitting. The body requires whole foods in a variety to obtain what it needs but it does not need pounds of it at a time. Likewise the body requires training regiments that challenge the muscles but not every exercise routine can or should be done at the same time.
• Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” Doing this creates a want for them. Just like telling a child "no" usually leads them to the behavior you are trying to diminish, you are setting yourself up for the same failure. Work towards reducing these foods a little at a time and search for underlying causes for cravings.
• Think smaller portions. Serving sizes are out of control these days. Some Italian restaurants serve more than a pound of pasta as the entrée not including the protein placed on the entrée or loafs of bread. Reduce these portions and eats foods that satiate your craving. Meals with higher amounts of protein can increase satiety and reduce the amount of negative foods you crave. A teaspoon of oil is the size of a matchbook. A 3-4 oz piece of meat will be approximately the size of your fist (depending on the size of your hand) and will equate to roughly 21-32 grams of protein. Using smaller plates can assist in reducing portion size.
Eat more protein, fruits and vegetables
Protein receives a bad rap. It is required to maintain lean muscle, which in turn reduces disease and increases health biomarkers. Make sure you are eating enough. I do not recommend less than the RDA recommendation of .8 grams per pound of body weight. Your body simply requires protein to function. Animal sources are the easiest way to increase protein consumption and reduce hunger/calories. Meat also provides necessary vitamins and minerals, which are more labor intensive to obtain from fruits and veggies alone.
Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of health—they are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
The more colorful fruits and veggies the better, attempt to eat as many different colors as possible. The brighter, deeper colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—and different colors provide different benefits. Some great choices are:
• Greens: Greens are packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, C, E and K, and they help strengthen the blood and respiratory systems. Be adventurous with your greens and branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce—kale, mustard greens, broccoli, Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options.
• Sweet vegetables: Naturally sweet vegetables add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets. Some examples of sweet vegetables are corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes or yams, winter squash, and onions.
• Fruit: A wide variety of fruit is also vital to a healthy diet. Fruit provides fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C, and so on.
Some people can’t eat this many fruits and vegetables in a day and juicing has become a very popular way to increase intakes. When juicing fruits and veggies you can sometimes obtain an entire days worth of these foods in a single glass! If you do decide to juice search for a juicer with a slow RPM that does not destroy the bonds of the foods you would normally eat. Whipping these foods in a blender at intense speeds creates quite a bit of heat that destroys the beneficial aspects associated with these foods. A great juicer to consider in this case is the Omega Vert as it has a slow auger that rotates at less then 80RPM so as not to destroy these bonds. Don’t rely on juicers entirely because you are not eating the necessary fiber that the body also needs and which helps you feel full.
Whatever your goals just make certain you have a plan. Even though you can eat 5lbs of veggies and fruits a day it doesn't mean you should. Yes, they are good for you but calories will always account for weight gain. What you eat must fit into your goal whether it be weight loss or muscle gain.
Shop local and organic.
The local farmer’s market, fruit stand or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group are great ways to get access to fresh, local produce. To find local growers, farmer's markets, and CSAs in your area or search online. Always go organic when possible because theses organic foods have been shown to have increased levels of necessary nutrients. In todays world of depleted soil and toxins we need all the nutrients we can get. A great new online food store is the green polka dot box, which carries an impressive amount of organic foods and items. For 2012 they have a new program called Harvest to Home, which will deliver fresh organic produce you order direct from farms they work with to your door! Visit them at The Green Polka Dot Box.
Switch to more healthy carbs.
Choose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources for long lasting energy. Unfortunately, the whole grains of today, especially wheat, are not what they were a few generations ago. Todays wheat products as well as gluten free products cause considerable harm to the body and impede weight loss (refer to my article on wheat). Other sources of good carbs are flax flour/meal/seeds, coconut flour, almond meal/flour among others.
A quick definition of healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs
Healthy carbs (sometimes known as good carbs) include flax flour/meal/seeds, coconut flour, almond meal/flour, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
Unhealthy carbs (or bad carbs) are foods such as all of todays wheat products, white flour, tapioca/corn/potato flour and starch, refined sugar and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber and nutrients. Unhealthy carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy leading to weight gain and health issues.
Tips for eating more healthy carbs
• Focus on obtaining most of your carbs from tubers and vegetables. If grains are a necessity in your life you can not do without utilize substitutes such as flax, coconut or almond. Experiment to find your favorites. Grains are not a part of the diet that should be focused on as they spike insulin and therefore fat deposits.
Enjoy healthy fats & avoid unhealthy fats
Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood and help prevent dementia. Many studies now indicate that mortality alone can be reduced by as much as 50% by consuming just 2.5mg a day of these essential fats.
Add to your healthy diet:
• Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame).
• Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements. Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and walnuts.
Great sources of fats can be found in fish oil supplements, flax seed oils, borage oil, coconut oil and many others. Remember that the American diet is very high in Omega-6 fats and this appears to have contributed to a lot of inflammation in the body. Balancing this fat content by increasing your Omega-3 intake can significantly reduce this inflammation problem.
Just be careful with the nuts and nut oils. Although there are benefits to many of these they are also high in omega-6 fats for the most part and are very nutrient dense. Thats a good thing right? Well yes and no. Eating nuts in abundance increases the amount of calories you eat significantly. 2 Tablespoons (which is not a hell of a lot) of almond butter has around 180 calories. I can eat that in one mouthful so it would be easy to eat upwards of 700-800 calories in one sitting! Limit nuts to a simple garnish or simply avoid the need for snacking with intermittent fasting and increased protein consumption.
Reduce or eliminate from your diet:
• Saturated fats, found primarily in animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products. Exceptions include avocados and oils like coconut oil, which are both extremely healthy. Coconut oil particularly taken in therapeutic doses of 3-4 tablespoons a day has shown to have strong effects on energy and cognitive function plus weight loss and heart health.
• Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Best to avoid all processed foods and fast foods.
Protein is not the end all be all
Protein in food is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy, and essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. A lack of protein in our diet can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein is particularly important for children, whose bodies are growing and changing daily.
Here are some guidelines for including protein in your healthy diet:
Try different types of protein. Meat is by far going to be your best source of protein and that is probably not a surprise to anyone. If you are a vegetarian, trying different protein sources—such as beans, nuts, seeds, peas— as these will open up new options for healthy meals. I do not recommend tofu or soy. Although many tout the health properties of soy other studies have implicated them as cancer causing food not to mention soy is almost entirely a GM (genetically modified) product now. You can get plenty of protein from other animal and plant based sources for optimal health.
- Beef, poulty, fish: All great options for meeting your protein needs (I recommend .8-1.5 grams per pound of body weight).
- Beans: Black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and lentils are good options.
- Nuts: Macadamia, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans are great choices.
- Avoid salted or sugary nuts and refried beans.
Limit sugar and salt
If you succeed in planning your diet around organic, grass fed meats, fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and good fats, you may find yourself naturally cutting back on foods that can get in the way of your healthy diet—sugar and salt.
Sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. By spiking insulin a whole host of negative health consequences are activated. Unfortunately, reducing the amount of candy, cakes, and desserts we eat is only part of the solution. Often you may not even be aware of the amount of sugar you’re consuming each day. Large amounts of added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, soy sauce, and ketchup.
Here are some tips:
• Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than the daily recommended limit! Try sparkling water with lemon or a splash of fruit juice.
• Eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.
• Look for low glycemic sugars such as stevia (the best in my opinion), xylitol, raw honey and coconut sugar. If you are going to have sugar at least the amino acids and minerals found in raw coconut sugar give you some health benefits over the processed toxic white sugar with no healthy qualities. Raw organic honey also has many fantastic health properties and xylitol has been proven to reduce cavities and dental issues. Stevia is my favorite simply because it is zero calorie, is low glycemic and is a plant.
How sugar is hidden on food labels
Check food labels carefully. Sugar is often disguised using terms such as:
• cane sugar or maple syrup
• corn sweetener or corn syrup
• honey or molasses
• brown rice syrup
• crystallized or evaporated cane juice
• fruit juice concentrates, such as apple or pear
• maltodextrin (or dextrin)
• Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Maltose, or Sucrose
Most of us consume too much salt in our diets. Eating too much salt can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) and lead to other health problems. Try to limit sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day, the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt. Remember that salt is necessary for bodily function but refined salt is the enemy. Consume unrefined salts like Celtic sea salt and Himalayan salt on foods. You can be modest with these salts as the norm for replenishing salt in the body requires approximately 1-1 ½ teaspoons a day. Your body contains a pound of salt and it constantly needs to be replenished with quality salt.
• Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods. Processed foods like canned soups or frozen dinners contain hidden sodium that quickly surpasses the recommended limit.
• Be careful when eating out. Most restaurant and fast food meals are loaded with refined sodium.
• Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.
• Cut back on salty snacks such as potato chips, nuts, and pretzels.
Home cooked meals are essential
Discover the beauty of eating at home. The best way to reduce processed foods and refined chemicals is to make your own meals. Many people get discouraged because they try to make the switch too quickly. Aim to complete one or two home cooked meals a week. Make it a challenge to search for new recipes and after you are comfortable with one or two meals a week add another night to your meal plan. This can carry over into breakfasts and lunches. Abrupt changes overwhelm most people who then feel the change is too hard and quit. Don’t let this happen to you. Avoiding eating out will save you cash and reduce your waist line while increasing your overall health.
Don’t give up
These tips seem hard to follow but if you build on them gradually eventually you will surpass what is written here. It is not hard to eat and live healthy, the initial step is always the toughest. By starting small and being consistent your body will become accustomed to eating and living right. Trust me, you will still miss sugary foods but your body will reject them more often than not when you eat them again in an extreme manner. Im not suggesting you give up everything you love but attempt to live healthier every day. You will discover tastes and foods you would have never imagined you would like. Do not be afraid to take a chance and try a new food, it may be something that you won’t be able to live without in the future.
- reduced caloric consumption is the only way to obtain a lean figure. I suggest intermittent fasting.
- increasing protein increases health biomarkers and reduces hunger
- increased fruits and veggies increases health biomarkers and decreases consumption of bad foods
- increased exercise increases health biomarkers. Resistance training is essential
- eat good fats, they won't make you fat, they will make you health
- Avoid/limit bad foods such as salt, sugar and refined carbs
- follow my consultation link to begin your transformation.