Nutrition, Fitness, and Lifestyle
So we left off talking about food choices. What we thought was a healthy diet made us gain unwanted body fat. And the foods they told us to avoid are actually GOOD for us! Go back and re-read that from last week if you missed it. There's some great stuff there! For today, I want to stay on the topic of what we got wrong... there's just so much!
Calorie balance matters. You’ve all heard it. Eat less, exercise more. Calories in, calories out. How’s that working for ya? Once again, we were wrong! Scientists have learned that while calories are important, there’s a whole lot more going on. Your metabolism, and hence your ability to gain or lose weight, is largely dependent on a complex system of hormones that are greatly influenced by your food choices. So, while 6 Snickers bars may have the same daily calories as a well balanced diet, your body will not respond in the same way. Similarly, under-eating, regardless of the source of those calories, will lead to lasting metabolic damage that’s super tough to reverse. Whole sources of natural foods, while avoiding processed and packaged foods, with adequate energy for your day, is the way to go.
Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are genetic. While it’s true that a very small portion of individuals have genetic factors affecting their heath, the vast majority do not. It becomes a crutch, an excuse. The fact is, the thing we inherit the most is an unhealthy lifestyle. We tend to eat what our parents ate, and the value of lifestyle factors such as routine exercise, sleep patterns, and stress are learned at a young age. By addressing diet and other lifestyle factors, the risks that “run in your family” disappear for the most part. You have a lot more control of your health than we once thought.
Cardio is good for weight loss. We all have a runner friend who’s thin as a rail and runs 10 miles a day. We’ve grown up hearing about “cardio” - running, aerobics, spin classes - is the key to dropping unwanted weight. There’s a billion dollar industry in marketing home cardio exercise equipment. So why aren’t we losing? The fact is, long bouts of cardio training is excellent for your heart and overall health. But for weight loss, it just doesn’t do the job. We know now that shorter bursts of higher intensity exercise forces our body to reach into those fat stores for fuel, and boosts your metabolism for hours after your workout session.
Now, don't get discouraged or blow me off. I hear it all the time! People think that diet and exercise advice is always changing so they don't even listen. On the one hand, they're right! But it's not because of fads or snap judgements. In this case, nutrition and exercise science are very young fields of research, but they're booming! So we're learning more and more all the time. Food and fitness advice used to be given based on "theory" or what so-called experts thought made sense. Now, however, any good trainer/coach is going to base suggestions on sound scientific evidence. And that's what this is. You'll never hear me promote anything that hasn't been pretty intensely studied and shown to be true. Does that mean nothing will ever change? Of course not - because we in the field are learning more about the body every day. But I promise always to only give you the best advice and keep you up to date without all the confusion of mass media or profit-based hype.
Til next time....
We were wrong! We were very wrong. I am a a nurse practitioner, a nutrition coach, and a personal trainer. So when I say “we” were wrong, I mean all of us - exercise professionals, medical professionals, even so-called nutrition experts. A lot of the advice we’ve been giving you for years is being proven false. Worse still, much of the advise has made America sicker and fatter than ever before. I mean really, if long bouts of cardio, eating low fat, and balancing calories is the answer to our health problems and weight loss woes, why are we seeing more obesity and disease than ever before?
It’s really hard to change your thinking, I know. It’s even harder to get word out about health research. A lot of this stuff has been proven for decades, but we still don’t know about it! So today, as we close out the old year, I want to take some time to point out some things that might be holding you back from living the healthiest life you can. Buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride!
Fat is bad. Let’s face it, dietary fats have been vilified for a few decades. For many reasons, doctors thought eating fat led to higher cholesterol that clogs your arteries. We were wrong. In fact, we now know that diets too low in fat are associated with higher risks of heart disease and early death! Naturally occurring fats like olive and coconut oils, avocado, eggs, butter, and other animal fats are essential to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, a growing number of experts are recommending increasing fats, while drastically reducing carbs, in order to attain maximal health… oh, and it’s great for weight loss! Low carb, high fat diets are not just a fad. It’s been around for over a century and is proven safe and effective. Check out my FaBu-Life link for more information.
Sugar in moderation. Did you know that we eat more than 4 times as much sugar now as ever before in history of mankind? And I’m not just talking about candy bars and ice cream. The food industry has hidden sugar and it’s many cousins, in most foods. Why? Because it’s extremely addictive. They add it into your food, you eat more and more, they make money. Sounds conspiratorial, but it’s a fact. Ever tried quitting sugar? Studies show it’s more addictive than cocaine! To quit, it’s better to go cold turkey. By allowing “moderation” you’re only feeding the addiction little by little. Switch to naturally sweet foods and natural sweeteners like Stevia as a first step, then slowly reduce your dependence on the sweet taste. There’s a lot more flavor in food just waiting to be discovered!
Grains are good. Ever wonder why so many people have gluten sensitivity or intolerance? That wasn’t really “a thing” when we were kids, right? Agricultural practices have changed dramatically in the past century. So much so that most of the grains we eat (wheat, oats, corn, etc) are nothing like their ancestors. Hence, problems with human consumption. We were told to eat whole grains, up to 5-6 servings per day! But they’re making us sick. A diet high in grains is associated with inflammatory illnesses like Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, migraines, and so much more. There are a lot better ways to get fiber and nutrients in your diet. Ditch the grains for a few weeks and see how you feel.
Take a deep breath and process all that. Check back next time for a few more things we got WRONG! I want you to have all the tools you need to head into the New Year armed and ready for action!
I get asked all the time to recommend a diet that WORKS. So what's my answer. Well, it's complicated....
First, it depends on your definition of "it works." Pretty much anything that controls your food intake and increases the quality of the foods you eat will result in weight loss. But does that mean it "works?" How many times have you done that and then gained it back, often even more than you lost!? The problem is, if a way of eating isn't something you can do forever, then you will not keep the results!
Plus, what if "it works" means it messes up your metabolism? Yep, there are extreme diets out there with massive weight loss claims. But the severe calorie restriction ends up lowering your resting metabolic rate, so you gain it back and then some, even if you DO stick to it! Think Biggest Loser....
But you want to lose weight, you're willing to do whatever it takes, and you understand that it's a long process that will require consistency and will likely be lifelong. How do you choose which way of eating is right for you? I'm going to tell you a little about that.
First and foremost, I hope you know by now that there's nothing magic out there. No pills. No shakes. No meal plan. No workout program. Nothing will make it easy. It's hard. Very hard! No matter what route you go, you must decide to get rid of processed, packaged, and convenient food. After all, it's not even real food! And those products are responsible for more added body fat and diseases than anything else. Simply switching to real food "works" for a lot of people. That's what CLEAN EATING is all about. If your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't eat it.
Now, no one's saying you can't EVER have anything packaged or processed. There are financial limitations for some people. And access is sometimes an issue as well. And we've all found ourselves in less than ideal circumstances from time to time. You do your best. You make the very best choice you can at every opportunity. Pretty much never is your best option a bag of Doritos washed down with a Coke... be honest.
For the most part though, we have a lot of control over what we eat. We have to plan ahead and have the right things in the fridge, or in a lunchbox at work. But with a minimum of effort, it's all our own choices. So secondly, cut the excuses. You're a grown up. Learn about food. Shop for the stuff you need. Keep the crap out. Don't use the kids as an excuse. And by the way, "I can't cook" is lame... are you seriously the first generation in millennia who's unable to FEED itself?
OK, so what about the actual plans of eating? What's good? What's not? What's right for you?
Think about how you eat now and what you know you need to give up. We're all at different places with that. Take a step in the right direction, based on what you're doing now and what kind of goals you have.
Do you eat a lot of fast food and packaged junk? If so, then take the first step and move toward clean eating. Whole30 is a great 30-day plan to get you off the junk. You don't eat any foods that can cause inflammation or addiction type issues. So no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no dairy, no processed foods, no artificial ingredients of any kind, no white potatoes, no grains of any kind, and no alcohol. It's tough but eye opening and a great kick start into healthier living.
If you eat pretty clean, but want to drop some weight, then look at dropping carbs. Paleo is a great start. That basically involves eating meat, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. Most paleos avoid grains, legumes (peanuts too), potatoes, refined sugar, dairy (tho that varies!) and of course anything processed. The idea is to eat like our ancestors did. And it's a really healthy way of eating!
If you've been eating pretty close to paleo and still struggle to reach your goals, then the science shows lower carbs is the way to go. Cut the sweet potatoes and other starchy veggies. Drop the fruit. And limit your adult beverages. Whether or not you need to go full-bore keto is a personal decision. It's definitely got its benefits beyond weight loss! So, don't be afraid of it. Millions of happy keto'ers never thought they could give up bread!
The bottom line is what WORKS for one person may not be the answer for someone else. We all have unique metabolic needs. We come from different backgrounds and have different lifestyles. You have to make the effort to determine what's right for you, what you can live with long term, and what's going to make you happier. Life's too short to be food obsessed! Let it go, and move onto a focus on health and wellness. Then the weight comes off as a bonus!
Here's the thing... we're so diet weary aren't we? For decades there has been one thing after another claiming to be the final answer to our weight loss woes. Magic pills. Miracle shakes. Fad diets. None have worked the magic they advertise. Many have had harmful, even deadly, side effects. And most have caused us to gain even more weight! Combine that with being told for as long as we've lived that grains are good and fat is bad... it's no wonder we're skeptical!
I was skeptical too! I'm glad you are! I've spent the better part of the last year researching ketogenic diets and the health benefits being touted. I was determined to discount the claims and "prove" that this was just another fad diet. I was pretty shocked at first by what I found... mountains of evidence to support the keto lifestyle. It's been around over 100 years and is in fact how our early ancestors survived. We would not have continued to exist if the human body was not capable of maintaining ketosis - a secondary metabolic pathway in the absence of carbohydrate. I mean what the heck source of carbs did the hunter-gatherers have in the dead of winter? Meat was it, and the fat from the animals. Hence, keto!
Not only did I find tons of clinical research as to the safety and efficacy of ketogenic diets, I discovered that Americans have been essentially lied to and manipulated by the food and pharmaceutical industries. The food guidelines provided by the government are not based on science at all - they even admit that! Even worse, there have been back door deals, cronyism, and straight up fraud when it comes to our government and medical agencies' recommendations. It's enough to make you sick... oh wait... it absolutely IS making us sick! And fat!
So, the truth? More than 80% of diseases today are directly related to the food we eat. And of course ALL of the overweight and obesity epidemic can be attributed to food - over-consumption yes, but also the wrong balance of macro-nutrients. Many of us are eating according to the recommendations - lots of heart healthy grains, and limited fat. But what's happened to the obesity rate? It's skyrocketed!
More truth? The fats and cholesterol you EAT do not at all cause your blood cholesterol to rise. In fact when we eat higher natural and healthy fats, our blood cholesterol levels go DOWN as does our risk of heart disease. (Google the PURE study of you're geeking out on this and want more details.) The truth is, cholesterol is made in the liver... from excess carbs, sugar, and artificial fats! There's never been any evidence at all to support the theory that high blood cholesterol "causes" heart disease and clogged arteries.
Yes, I said "theory" - you see, in the late 1950s and 1960s one group of researchers claimed fat in your diet caused cholesterol to go up and that caused heart disease. Another group said no, no, no... it's the sugar in your diet that's causing the problem. You can guess which side had more influence. And they haven't turned back. The truth is blood cholesterol levels are way more complicated than we ever realized. There are more sub-particles being discovered and the roles of each are becoming more understood. Yes, some people with high "bad" cholesterol will have heart problems. But even more people with "normal" blood cholesterol are turning up with heart disease! We're beginning to understand that the cholesterol is there to help solve the problems that a diet high in processed foods, bad fats, and sugar is causing. In essence, cholesterol is there to patch up the damage to the arteries caused by inflammation! So, it's like fire fighters are there at the scene of a house fire... but they didn't CAUSE the fire!
Long way of saying this... you have nothing to worry about by eating more fats! You will NOT hurt yourself. You WILL have to arm yourself with knowledge and confidence though. More and more doctors are learning, but the majority are still stuck in old thinking. The likelihood is that your doctor's head will fly off if you tell them you're considering keto. In addition, your family and friends will think you're nuts. So, read up, talk to me, check out my FaBuLife website... gather information from non-biased sources and educate yourself.
Finally, the thing that convinced me most was this... there's absolutely zero, none, nada, research showing that keto is harmful. I learned that saturated fats are more studied than any other nutrient by far, and in all that research they have never, even once, been able to link saturated fats to disease. The theories were dead wrong.
Even more, when big name nutritionists and doctors are interviewed, they can't come up with rational explanations for their prejudice against keto. They'll say things like "it's too restrictive" or "it's not sustainable" or "people won't stick to it" to defend their stance against it. Well, hundreds of thousands of people have reversed health conditions including diabetes, lost weight and maintained it, and felt better than ever before, for 20 or more years! Sounds pretty sustainable to me!
Here's the thing... who makes money if the answer to everything is to change our diet? If we eat whole clean foods, the way God made them, and avoid processed crap, who loses out? If we treat diseases through proper nutrition first, and only add drugs and medical devices as a last resort, who's pockets get lined? You see "they" have a lot to lose if we all catch on. Did you know Kellog's corporation was the initial sponsor of the committee deciding on dietary recommendations? Yep - you think a company who's profits are determined by the amount of grains we eat was open minded in their recommendations?
What do I have to gain? Nothing. I make money selling exercise. If more exercise was the answer, I'd tell you that you needed ME more, and I'd sit back and collect your checks. But that would be a lie. You do need to exercise. But without getting your food right, it's of little benefit. I profit nothing from that recommendation. But, it's the truth. I want to see you get healthy, avoid chronic illness, reverse the symptoms you already have, and lose weight once and for all. THAT is only going to happen by drastically cutting carbs, maybe even going keto, and getting real whole nutrient dense foods into your diet without all the packaged and processed crap the food industry tells us to eat... think about it.
Remember if you're going to try keto, you HAVE to do it right! There's so much info out there... talk to me for trusted resources if you want to get started! And if you're worried about dropping carbs, even non-ketogenic low carb diets are tremendously beneficial. Start where you can. Just start.
THANKS y'all and let's talk again soon!
Ketogenic diets are one of the top 3 google searches so far in 2017. It's making its way through celebrities, TV shows, and of course FaceBook. There are some amazing weight loss success stories out there. But this isn't just another fad diet. The ketogenic diet has been around for over a century. It's used for numerous health conditions. And it's superior to any other method of weight loss in dozens of studies. Done properly, a ketogenic diet takes our metabolism to a whole new level of fat burning. But what exactly is a ketogenic diet and what do I mean by "done properly?"
A ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and moderate in protein. Some people hear that and panic thinking "high fat is bad" - right? Well, that's actually false! Decades of research have proven that a diet high in naturally occurring, nutrient dense fats are not at all unhealthy. In fact, recent studies have shown that a high fat diet is actually MORE healthy than a low fat one! Dietary fats do not raise your cholesterol... we'll talk more about that next week. For now, just know that keto is absolutely a safe way of eating.
So, in a ketogenic diet, you eat mostly veggies for your carbs - green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, pretty much anything that grows above the ground. And, you eat protein - meat, fish, eggs, poultry. And, you add healthy fats like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and nuts. That's pretty simple! When you do that, your body doesn't have enough carbohydrate (sugar) to burn, so it needs a different source of fuel. Our ancestors survived on this fuel source... called ketones. Without carbs, your body converts fat to ketones... then uses it to supply energy to the body. Once your body learns how to do this, it becomes quite efficient at it, and then the magic happens - you feel more energized, less hungry, and a lot of those nagging aches and pains disappear. Plus, your body starts to pull fat from your body to burn as well! TA DA! Weight loss!
Now, we do have to be careful because you certainly CAN do this all wrong. The whole point is to reverse the inflammation and metabolic damage caused by artificial and processed foods, especially excess carbs and fake fats. In order to do that, you have to be thinking about more than just making changes in your macros (carb, protein, and fat ratios). Instead, you have to focus on ridding your diet of processed and packaged foods, while consuming the highest quality nutrient dense whole foods. That means real food - stuff your great grandparents would have eaten. And that's where a lot of people get stuck. We're a convenience-based society, and that fact has totally taken over the food industry. But it's killing us. Literally. We have to get back to a whole foods diet - real meat, real plants, real fats - instead of opening a package or a box. THAT is what I mean by "done properly."
So there it is - basic keto. I'll dive deeper next time. For now if you want to make a change, start with getting more real food in your diet, and eliminating all sugars and starches (bread, pasta, potato, rice, corn). That alone will make a huge difference. Then, start thinking about keto and whether you want to give it a try. My FaBuLife program teaches you how. And there are lots of books and website resources that can help you. I'm happy to make some recommendations. Don't get tricked into any gimmicky promises you stumble across though! There's a lot of scammers out there trying to make a buck. This is a FANTASTIC way of eating with tons of health and fat loss benefits... but it's not easy and it's not quick. If you're going to do it, do it RIGHT! :)