food, Personal wellness, Uncategorized

Carbs ARE the Enemy – If We Let Them Win

Well…it’s official. I’ve gone from a grammar geek to a nutrition nerd. Actually, I’m still a grammar geek but now I’ll walk around equipped with a red pen AND a BMI calculator.
What has me all worked up? Macronutrients. I know – super controversial. But it is! In the last two days I’ve read two articles citing studies that point to the real and present danger refined carbs present. What are refined carbs, you ask? They aren’t classy carbs that are well educated. Refined carbs are white rice and pasta, cakes, cookies, commercially prepared breads and baked goods. All the stuff we’ve grown to love.

In these articles, two things stood out to me as a middle aged woman (only one of these applies to you, fellas):

1. “A growing body of evidence seems to indicate that the modern Western diet – high in processed and refined foods – can lead to cognitive decline and dementia.” 

2. ” Each portion of carbs, such as pasta and rice, consumed per day correlated with experiencing menopause 1.5 years earlier. “

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m in no hurry to experience dementia or menopause so why wouldn’t I look at my diet and try to improve it? We’re not talking about taking more pills or doing something otherwise dangerous. This is about breaking up with nutrient-deficient carbs in exchange for with nutrient-rich foods like lean proteins, legumes, eggs, vegetables, etc.

I’m all about feeding myself properly to avoid taking a pill…call me crazy! As good old Hippocrates said, “Let food by thy medicine.” Right on, man.

What I’m here to tell you is that I know…and science supports…the fact that refined carbohydrates are not healthy. Period. So, instead of trying to convince you of that (I’m happy to send loads of research your way), I’m focusing on how I can help you break that addiction (it’s an addiction for real).

I love finding ways to eat what I crave but in a healthier way. So, as you consider your carb intake, keep these 3 tips in mind.

 

1. Fiber first. If you are going to have carbs eat those with lots of fiber. Fiber isn’t sexy but it’s a hardworking micro-nutrient that keeps you fuller, helps your digestive tract function properly, and it grabs cholesterol on its way out.  Read labels to see how much fiber is contained in a food.  Just because something says “whole grain” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You should be aiming for at least 25 grams of fiber a day and the easiest way to do that is to eat foods that have natural fiber in them – vegetables, fruit and whole grains that are minimally processed.

2. Sneaky sugar. Sugar is a carb. And it has many names. Worse yet, it’s in almost everything! Condiments. Pasta sauce. Dairy products. Naturally occurring sugar in fruit (fructose) isn’t the culprit here. Fruit also has fiber which is a benefit to your system (see tip #1). I’m talking about artificial sugars (even the calorie free versions) and sugars by other names – dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, carob syrup, maltodextrin, and the list goes on. There are some 60 different names for sugar. Don’t be fooled by the verbiage and check everything — sugar (and therefore carbs) can show up where you least expect it.

3. Fear not the Fat. Fat has a bad reputation. For decades, we were told to eat low or non fat foods. YUCK! The problem with eating no fat is that you aren’t satisfied after you eat. Furthermore, to take fat out and still make a food taste good, you have to add a bunch of artificial crap (did you ever read the label of nonfat sour cream? It’s a science experiment). Let me give a real example. It’s taco Tuesday and you make lean ground turkey taco meat and top it with non-fat sour cream and low fat cheddar cheese. There’s very little fat in that meal. You think it’s healthy and it may be low calorie but you eat one taco and it’s meh. Then you think, well, this is low fat so I can one (or 3) more. All the while, you aren’t really enjoying it because fake sour cream and cheese taste like plastic goo. You end up eating more, feeling less satiated and in a few hours you’re craving something else. Fat makes you happy. If you had made those tacos with grass-fed ground beef, real sour cream, real cheese and some yummy avocado slices on top, you would feel full and satisfied with 1 or 2 tacos. Why? Because, unlike carbs and protein, which have 4 calories per gram – fat packs a bigger calorie punch with 9 calories per gram. That helps keep you feeling full longer. When you cut fat out, you risk eating too many carbs and often, not the good ones. When you do, you play the blood sugar game of highs and lows all day – chasing more energy with coffee and a snack from the vending machine.

Word of warning: If you jump on the “fat is good” bandwagon but still eat a lot of carbs, your body will naturally use the carbs first and store the fat. Oops. Not what you wanted. So you need to balance it and chose wisely…from sources like nuts, avocados, coconut oil, salmon, shellfish and grass-fed or organically-raised meats. Spoiler alert…Trans fat is still nasty and bad. Don’t go there!
I hope these tips help you sort through the never-ending debate over carbs and fat. Protein somehow always looks good in these discussions…but that’s another topic for another blog post!

The bottom line is this…you need carbs. For your body and your brain.

The reality is…you probably don’t need as many as you’re consuming and if you want to lose weight, it could be what’s standing in your way.

With this new found knowledge you might be thinking, “hey I want to change my diet a bit and eat more of that yummy, healthy fat Niki was talking about.”

Yay! Wait, though…I haven’t even told you the best part of higher fat and lower carb… eating healthy fats can help you lose fat. True story.
So if wanting a little more fat in your diet while losing the fat on your butt seems like a win-win to you, consider joining me and other like-minded peeps in my KetoFast program – a combo of a Ketogenic meal plan with an Intermittent Fasting eating schedule.

A Ketogenic diet and lifestyle is higher in fat, low in carbs and moderate in protein. Done right, it helps your body adapt to using fat as a preferred energy source vs. carbohydrates. And, when combined with Intermittent Fasting (another educational blog post coming your way soon!) it makes your body a better fat burning machine.

My KetoFast program isn’t the typical Keto diet.

You can’t eat endless quantities of cheap, greasy burgers without the buns, and pounds of deli meat and convenience store beef jerky. It’s clean. Low in preservatives and sodium. It’s moderate in carb consumption (about 50 grams per day). These differences make it a lifestyle instead of a DIET (ugh, hate that word). Most people who start a DIET don’t succeed because it’s not sustainable. Strict Keto diets limit you to 20 grams of carbs a day. That’s very difficult to maintain especially when you consider that things like vegetables, nuts and some proteins contain carbohydrates. And, I’m not about advocating for a no carb approach.  It teaches you how to eat healthier all around for sustained weight loss and greater wellness.

If you’re interested, I’m going to be doing a webinar to explain the program and share some results my test group is experiencing. I’ll also be talking about how Intermittent Fasting plays a role and amplifies your results.

Hit me up if you’d like to receive an invitation to the webinar. If you’re already familiar with Keto and want info on the program. We start soon and I’d love for you to be part of it! Email me at nikicamp@gmail.com

I want us all to be better informed about the nutrients that fuel us so we can eat better, live longer and have active lives.

Have a happy and healthy day!

Niki

food, Uncategorized

Ditch the Diet.

do-you-know-what-youre-eating

In the world of food, nutrition and “dieting” there seems to be a trend a minute that people flock to in hopes of a quick fix for years of poor eating patterns. They hear that some way of eating has helped their neighbor, friend, relative lose 20 lbs. in two weeks and they are on board! Sometimes it’s a cleanse or a detox drink. Or an elimination diet or juice fast. Regardless of the tactic, the promise seems to always be a quick solution to a long-standing problem.

Not all these diets are bad or unhealthy (but some are). And, when done properly and with the right mindset and expectations, they can be a great way to jumpstart your metabolism or help you reset after a holiday season filled with heavy foods. However, most are not permanent lifestyles nor are they the solution for the yo-yo dieter who will try just about anything to lose the weight. They usually offer short term results and often lead to disappointment and greater weight gain after stopping.

When a client comes to me frustrated after years of dieting only to lose weight and then gain it back (plus more), I don’t start with another diet suggestion. As a health coach, my job is to assess your food journal and help you understand where your nutrition might be out of line with what your body needs. My job is to help you understand how your body uses food as fuel and guide you in choosing the right foods to feel your best and lose weight.

In looking at months of food entries for my clients, I can confidently say that our biggest problem when it comes to eating isn’t just how many calories we’re eating but rather the quality of those calories. A calorie isn’t just a calorie despite what you’ve been told in the past. Some calories are better than others and will help you lose weight, have more energy and build lean muscle. You need fiber and high quality protein, you need FAT (yes, fat) and sodium and all the nutrients.

And – truth bomb here – just because you work out consistently doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want if it stays within your calorie count. Your body is a finely engineered machine and requires fuel that is high quality.

Clean up that dirty diet

So, what do I recommend to my clients who have been trying diet after diet, and still not losing weight? Ditch the diet and clean up your plate! Yep. Take a good long look at WHAT you are eating and the contents of that food and clean it up. You will feel better, lose weight and have more energy. I recommend clean eating as a way of life, not a diet. And, guess what, it works.

You’ve likely heard of clean eating as it has been part of some dieting hype in recent years. It’s not an elimination diet or a cleanse. You can have every food group if you choose. You can eat meat or be a vegan. Paleo, Keto, Weight Watchers and all the other diets can be dirty or they can be clean. Junk food has a points value and highly processed meat can be “ok” on some diets.

I’m going to take the hype out and give you the straight scoop on why this way of eating – regardless of your age, size, fitness level, demographic, etc. – is one of best ways to structure your diet.

Fitness Magazine has one of the simplest explanations of clean eating “clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.”

To put it simply – clean eating is having an apple vs. apple sauce, eating steamed broccoli vs. frozen broccoli with cheese sauce added. Whole grains vs. white/refined grains. Organic, grass fed beef vs. pre-packaged, seasoned ground beef for tacos. Are you following me?

It’s sometimes a little bit more work over convenience. Most importantly, it’s about reading labels, being informed and making better choices. Clean eating doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated or time consuming. It just takes planning.

My tips for cleaning up your pantry, fridge and plate

  • First and foremost – track your diet for 3 days. You cannot improve upon what you are unaware of. Everyone has access to MyFitnessPal. Identify where you are eating more convenience, packaged or processed foods that can be swapped for their whole counterparts. Good indicators of a “dirty” diet are high sodium and saturated fat levels, and low fiber intake. If those are out of whack, chances are your diet is too.

 

  • Raid your pantry and read labels. My favorite app for food shopping is Fooducate. Scan a barcode; get a grade for that food. And, an explanation of that grade, definition of ingredients and healthy alternatives.

 

  • Sound it out. If you cannot pronounce the first 2-3 ingredients (which are listed in order of their quantity) then you should toss it. A whole grain roll should list a grain as one of the first two ingredients. Avoid fillers and sneaky sugars (corn syrup). Note: not all preservatives are bad – some are needed to keep your food safe. Things like steric acid, sorbic acid and ascorbic acid are preservatives that can occur naturally in some foods and help prevent mold, and spoilage. Scan the label and Fooducate will tell you why those ingredients are in your food.

 

  • Beware of marketing claims. Natural, organic and whole are some of the most common ones. Understand what they truly mean and the requirements for obtaining those labels. It’s not always a rigorous process. Also, be wary of endorsements by organizations like the American Heart Association (they put their seal of approval on Subway sandwiches). Research what it takes to get that claim put on a package. Sometimes it’s just a donation to an organization.

 

  • Don’t fall into the organic trap. You don’t have to buy EVERYTHING organic. Some things are more at risk for pesticide contamination, especially fruits and veggies. Google these two phrases… “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” food lists. It will tell you the fruits and veggies have the most risk for pesticide residue and should be bought organic.

 

  • All stores have good food. You don’t have to shop at a specialty store to get high quality food. Think local with farm markets and local grocers who get their meat and dairy locally. The closer the food is to you, the fresher it is and less processed it’s likely to be.

 

  • Make small changes. A complete overhaul of your diet can be overwhelming. Aim for one change a week. Start with leaner proteins with no added flavors or colors, or fresh veggies and fruit vs. saltier canned or sugar-added frozen varieties.

 

  • Be kind to yourself. All packaged food isn’t the enemy. We have lives to lead and families to raise.  Sometimes convenience wins. Aim for the 80/20 rule and indulge occasionally. Life is too short to never eat few Oreos or potato chips.

Dieting is no fun and I don’t recommend it

I believe that no food group should be off limits and that whatever you want to eat can be eaten in a cleaner, fresher way. Carbs aren’t the enemy, and neither is fat or dairy or sugar. Everything can be incorporated into your diet in the right way to allow you to enjoy eating while doing what’s best for your body.

Don’t overthink it. Start small. And, keep track of how you feel as you make changes. That’s the best reward.

And, guess what…you don’t have to do it alone. Working with a health coach to help you raid that pantry, provide recommendations and keep you accountable gives you the support you need to make these positive changes.

Jump back on that Resolution Wagon

If you’ve fallen off the New Year’s resolution wagon, let’s get back on track. My 6-week reset starts Feb. 12 (we prep this week) and you can be looking and feeling great by St. Patrick’s Day!

Message me for details. And, if you haven’t picked up my free Meal Planning & Prep Guide, get it here! It will get you started on the clean eating path and help you plan your meals each week.

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