Category Archives: Weight Loss

Before You Start Your “New You in 2020” Diet – Ask Yourself These Questions:

This week, and for the next 2-3 weeks, there’s going to be a lot of posts, emails, and marketing pushing different detoxes, diets, fitness challenges, and “New Year, New You” type programs to help you make 2020 your best year ever.

The problem is, when we select a diet, challenge, or program based upon what is trending or what worked really well for Cousin Eddie, we don’t necessarily set ourselves up for success. Unique attributes such as work, family demands, lifestyle, ability/enjoyment of cooking, time, food intolerances and genetics play a huge role in whether or not any diet or exercise program will be successful.

When conducting an initial consultation with a potential client, we always drill in on their past successes and struggles, personal preferences, and lifestyle in order to determine how to best support them through change and to determine what they will best need for success. It also helps us establish whether or not we will be the right health team for them to achieve their goals. At the end of this meeting, everyone in the room has clarity on next steps and what will be foundational to success. If continuing with us in not in their best interest, we do our best to refer them to someone who can better meet their needs.

When considering any program, it’s essential to do a self-assessment to determine if it is even worth your attention. Doing a self-assessment clarifies your individual needs and qualities and will allow you to identify the best plan that will get you to your 2020 goals. To get started, consider the following:

1. What are your food/movement preferences?

2. Is it more realistic for you to follow a specific meal/exercise plan or stay more flexible? 

3. What struggles have hindered you in the past?

4. What are your main obstacles to eating more healthy/getting fit? 

5. What have you tried in the past has yielded the most success? Why?

6. Do you do your own grocery shopping?

7. Do you do your own cooking?

8. Do you have any specific dietary requirements?

9. Do you prefer to exercise at a gym, home, or outside?

10. How much time do you have available to dedicate to the change needed to achieve your goals?

 

Don’t make the mistake of jumping into a program just because it’s popular with others. True success depends upon finding a plan that is based upon your individual needs, dietary preferences and exercise habits. When we jump on the current trend, we aim to fit ourselves and lives into an artificial construct that never took us into consideration to begin with. When it doesn’t work out, it enforces feelings of failure and grinds in ugly beliefs about our abilities, willpower, and overall success as human beings that seed doubt and do lasting damage. All of these plans work for some people, but no structured plan will work for all people. For your health, sanity, and happiness, find what works for you and stick to that. It’s not the easiest solution, but it’s the only one that will work.

Need some help? Contact us for a quick Discovery Call or an Initial Consultation and let us help you find what will work for you in 2020 and beyond!


Blasphemous Thoughts on Sports Nutrition

NOTE: This post was authored by Aimee Gallo and originally appeared in the Athleta Chi Blog in 2013. It has been slightly edited from the original post.


Chocolate Milk is Crap.

Yes – I said it!  I think chocolate milk is crap. The recovery food hailed by the world as the perfect post-workout replenishment falls far short of it in my book. Before I fully step upon my soap box, let me explain why chocolate milk rose to fame.

The key nutrition components to a complete recovery can be summed up in two categories: 1) nutrition repletion and 2) hydration. Here’s why the Dairy Council and many coaches and sports nutritionists are pushing milk at the finish line:

  • Chocolate milk contains the ‘ideal’ ratio of carbohydrates to protein. The 1:3 – 1:4 ratio not only replenishes glycogen, but also provides protein for tissue repair and transport of the carbohydrates more effectively into the cell walls.
  • Chocolate milk is liquid – therefore it contributes to rehydrating the body.
  • Chocolate milk is tasty – I mean, really! Who on earth doesn’t like chocolate milk?!?!
  • Chocolate milk is cheap, convenient and accessible. You can find it anywhere – even along a highway in rural Kansas at a truck stop or gas station.

The above facts are exactly why you are thinking chocolate milk sounds good right about now! However, I take the viewpoint that the human body is a miraculous vessel. When you think about all it does for you and all it puts up with, it’s not hard to understand on some level that it is an incredible machine – not unlike a Ferrari, Tesla or Lamborghini. Chocolate milk is like putting the cheapest diesel fuel you can find into your half-million dollar sports car. Here’s why:

  • Chocolate milk is a dairy food – and dairy foods come with a host of potential problems. They are highly allergenic (an estimated 60-75% of the adult human population exhibits signs of dairy intolerance) and often laced with excessive hormones from the conditions in which cattle are raised. Excess estrogen is already of great concern to many individuals as it is linked to hormone imbalances and possibly cancer in humans. Dairy products may exacerbate that. (My former teacher Dr. Mark Hyman has a compelling piece on dairy and the Food Guide Pyramid here if you want more info.)
  • Chocolate milk’s carbohydrate source comes exclusively from lactose (potential allergen) and high fructose corn syrup or sugar. HFCS is strongly suspect as being a contributor to diabetes and non-alcohol related fatty liver due to how it is digested in the body. Corn syrup and table sugar are, of course, the most nutritionally devoid form of carbohydrate on the market. Regardless of where any nutritionist or dietitian is on our highly political food spectrum, we all agree that sugar and corn syrup are not ideal sources of carbohydrate. So my question to you is, are they the sources you want to be pumping into your cells to repair them after a hard workout? Do you want the construct of your muscle tissue to come from vitamin-devoid sweeteners?

This stance alone has some of you wanting to squeeze the remainder of your milk carton in my face. I get it. I’m not taking a popular stance here. If milk judgment were my only offense, you might forgive me. But I have more blasphemy for you.

CARB LOADING

Our mainstay and go-to, the absolute foundation of endurance sports nutrition lies in carb loading. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of pancake feeds, pasta feeds, thai food feasts, and other meals I’ve had after long runs over the last 15 years. This was a myth I bought hook, line, and sinker. It made sense. It was widely backed by research. The entire sports nutrition community did it and backed it. And pancakes and pasta sound AWESOME after two to three hours on the road. Another easy sell! I began to question this logic though when it became more and more challenging to maintain my weight. I struggled to prevent weight gain when my training was at its highest – ten hours a week or more! At 5’2″ my stomach doesn’t hold enough food to make up for the calories I was losing, yet I was still challenged. Working with other endurance athletes – I saw the same struggles in them. It wasn’t until I understood the hormonal impact of carbohydrates in relation to fat burning and left the caloric model completely that I was able to lose the seven pounds I gained for my last races in 2010 AND be able to help other runners and triathletes lose the spare tire that refused to go away.

Looking around we all know that some people stay slender and others have to fight for it. The answer, however, isn’t in hours logged and miles run so much as it is in the food choices we make on an hour-to-hour basis. I, and other endurance athletes, find better results in carbohydrate moderation rather than continued carbohydrate loading. I discovered that there was no need to carb-up to the extent that I had been taught. Many runners will only lean out when they start moderating the quantity and timing of their carbohydrate intake. If you are burning loads of calories and still struggling with weight you’ll want to explore this possibility immediately. This holds especially true for females, as our cycling hormones heavily impact how we utilize carbohydrates during different times of the month and carbohydrate utilization changes again (not in our favor) after menopause.

My final blasphemy for the day is a hybrid of the above two. The pre-race spaghetti feed. For races less than two hours long, it is unlikely you will need to consume extra carbohydrates than you typically do unless you are on a carbohydrate-restricted diet. For many events such a feed is simply unnecessary. Events lasting longer than two hours are best fueled with moderate carbohydrate consumption the day before and with amino acid and carbohydrate replenishment during the event. Another consideration with the pre-race pasta meal again lies in food intolerances and digestive upset. Gluten intolerance is very common in my practice and increasingly common in the general population. Thus the pasta feed can lead to digestive upset during the race, increased inflammation and decreased recovery, poor moods, decreased alertness and motor skills (I kid you not), and overall lowered performance. Many clients have had a significant shift in performance simply by shifting the pre-race meal to sushi, brown rice pasta with loads of vegetables, or including a baked yam or potato with dinner the night before. Give it a try before your next race and see if you feel a difference! If you already have a gluten-free pre-race meal, I’d love to know what it is so I can share with my gluten-free athletes!

It is not my intention to create enemies with this post – only to open up the possibility for alternatives if what you are currently accepting as appropriate is, in fact, not working for you. Each person is unique and therefore requires a unique formula to achieve success on and off the trail.

For more insights into race recovery (including my favorite recipes), fat loss for endurance runners and using real foods to fuel you active lifestyle, sign up for our newsletter and receive tips directly in your inbox!

Inflammation Can Make You Fat

Obesity is associated with chronic, low-level inflammation. In some cases it can be hard to determine if obesity or inflammation came first, as each condition feeds upon the other. For the purpose of this brief article I will exclusively discuss inflammation’s role in obesity promotion.

Inflammation can promote obesity through disrupting the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. An effect that many cytokines have on the body over time is insulin resistance. Cytokines are a normal, natural response to inflammation in the body. They act as signalers to other cells to alter the immune response. TNF-α and IL-6 are cytokines that specifically promote insulin resistance in the body (Wellen & Hotamisligil, 2005). One study (Hotamisligil eta l., 1993) demonstrated that administration of recombinant TNF-α to cultured cells or to whole animals inhibits the action of insulin; this action is supported in a later study observing obese mice without TNF-receptors having better insulin sensitivity over their wild-type brethren (Uysal, 1997).
When the body is in a state of insulin resistance, additional inflammatory markers such as IL-1 can be increased, perpetuating inflammation and the cascade of cytokines system-wide. Untreated, chronically elevated insulin levels also make weight loss more difficult and drives cravings for foods which exacerbate weight gain, such as refined carbohydrates (Heller, 1994).

An anti-inflammatory diet is one that is rich in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed whole grains and lean proteins. It focuses on these foods, thus crowding out foods which elevate insulin such as white sugar, white flour, corn syrup, and processed food products. By focusing on reducing inflammation rather than counting calories, some individuals can regain mobility, energy, and improve their overall health while they lose weight without focusing on common weight-loss tactics which have a high risk of failure.

RESOURCES:

Heller, R.F. (1994) Hyperinsulinemic obesity and carbohydrate addiction: the missing link is the carbohydrate frequency factor. Medical Hypotheses, 42(5):307-12.

Hotamisligil, GS, Shargill, NS, Spiegelman, BM. (1993) Adipose expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha: direct role in obesity-linked insulin resistance. Science, 259:87-91.

Uysal, KT, et al. (1997) Protection from obesity-induced insulin resistance in mice lacking TNF-alpha function. Nature, 389:610-614. 

Wellen, K.E., Hotamisligil, G.S. (2005) Inflammation, stress, and diabetes. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 115(5):1111-1119. doi:10.1172/JCI25102.

Caloric Density: how to maximize satisfaction and lose weight

Different foods contain different concentrations of calories per set unit. For instance, you may have heard that fat is 9 calories per gram while protein and carbohydrate is 4 calories per gram. Insoluble fiber (what grandma called ‘roughage’) is a type of carbohydrate unabsorbed by the body, so it contributes no calories.

When you look at the graph below, you can see how filling vegetables are. This is because they contain lots of fiber and water and little starch (the kind of carbohydrate we can absorb), fat and protein.  This is why vegetables are the cornerstone of any dietary plan that focuses on achieving a healthy body weight.

stomach-chart-caloric volume foods

Here you can see caloric density in action. The plates on the left would not be enough to keep me satisfied for a day, but I can hardly imagine getting in all the food to the right within 24 hours! Fresh fruits and vegetables provide ample fiber and water that fill the stomach and signal the body to stop the hunger signal.

EnergyDensityPR

 

Choosing a vegetable rich meal ensures you feel fuller on fewer calories. Need help getting your greens? Join my new, free 30 days Glorious Greens challenge!

 

Study Says Low Fat Better Than Low Carb?! Not So Fast!

Photo from WebMD
Photo from WebMD

The media’s been all aflutter over a recent study that claims that low fat dieters actually lost more fat than low carb dieters during a study that was published in Cell Metabolism this month. The BBC, NPR and many other major news outlets quickly spread this news and social media was on fire about it last week.

Let’s take a closer look at the study itself before we jump to any conclusions, yes?

Firstly, kudos to the researchers for creating a controlled environment. One of the most challenging aspects of dietary research on human beings is that self-reported data is notoriously unreliable and impossible to control. It is, however, cheap and easy to get in abundance, which makes it a common source of data.

That said, the tight controls utilized in this experiment are very, very expensive, so what we have is a small study (19 obese people) on a lowered carbohydrate (140 grams/day) or very low fat diet (17 grams/day) for 6 days on each diet. Note that this is actually not a comparison between a ‘low carb’ diet and a low fat diet. It is a comparison between a moderate carbohydrate diet and a very low fat diet. Protein intake was the same regardless of diet.

My initial criticism is that 6 days is not long enough to determine the diet that will burn the most fat. As anyone who has done Atkins will tell you, the results of that first week on a very low carb diet are nothing like subsequent weeks, nor is the sustainability of that diet determined within 6 days.

My second criticism: changes in fat were measured through DXA, which is considered the gold standard for changes in fat distribution over time. This tool is not sensitive enough to accurately detect smaller changes made over a brief amount of time.

My Third Issue: This study is conducted on obese individuals who are otherwise healthy. As in, simply obese. No diabetes, no heart disease indicators, no hormonal disruption nor signs of other co-existing health issues. How much of the obese population ACTUALLY fits into that category? One of the greatest problems with research done today is that the need to control variables creates such a narrow population available for study that many significant errors are made when broadening those results out to reality. For instance – drug X is may be effective at suppressing breast cancer tumors. It is confirmed repeatedly in individuals with breast cancer. Drug X goes to market and only later, after many deaths, is it discovered that Drug X increases heart attacks by 300% within 2 years of prescription for individuals with diabetes. Because good science demands controlled variables all of the chaos of the real world cannot be considered. When we then take what we see in the lab and apply it to real life there are *always* unforseen consequences (SSRIs increasing suicide rates in teens comes to mind). I bring this up not to poo-poo the scientific method, but to remind everyone that any scientific result is not Truth until it has had ample time in a real world setting. It is not uncommon for 15-30 years to pass before enough eyes report enough evidence to get the tables turned on what has become common practice.

 

Whenever something like this comes out in the media we must always look at it with a skeptical eye. Newspapers are designed to sell and surprising, conflicting, dramatic headlines get our attention and get viewership. It’s really, really easy to just throw your hands up in the air and walk away from all of it in frustration. Honestly that is not a bad idea! Many people who do just that do not end up feeling any more certain about what will work for them, and that has it’s own set of frustrations.

By time a study reaches big news outlets it is either old news or radically blown out of proportion. To find what works for you, go back to the basics – explore what was most satisfying and sustainable in *your* past. Be assured that human beings have historically done very very well on abundant water and produce, so get those veggies in and carry a bottle of water around. The rest of it is fine-tuning that only you can do through trial and error and taking both lifestyle and your unique genetic body into consideration. If you feel overwhelmed you may benefit from hiring a professional to go over it with you. Be leery of anyone who has a one solution for all approach. There are very few singular solutions for every human being on the planet.

 

To read more about the study and it’s limitations, click here: Really-low-fat vs somewhat-lower-carb – a nuanced analysis

To read the study itself, click here: Cell Metabolism Study

Calorie Counting: Legendary or Lame Sauce?

I’ve been around the nutrition and fitness circles long enough to see several trends come and go…and come back again.

Right now we are in what I believe to be the tail end of a phase that shuns calorie counting. My prediction is that in the next 5 years you will start seeing more and more people return to food logs and monitoring methods to get results because complete avoidance of logging and monitoring is not getting desired results.

[Tweet “Nutrition Prediction: a return to food logs and monitoring tools.”]

For most of my practice I have discouraged counting calories. I find the practice not only agonizing but detrimental, as it perpetuates a simplistic view of weight loss and drives disordered thinking and behavior. That said, I am also finding that strict avoidance of monitoring tools is too simplistic for some people and can impede results.

Some of my clients find that a weight loss plateau is quickly turned around when they start logging food intake. Most people choose to use an online calorie counting tool like My Fitness Pal or Calorie King whether or not they are looking at calories simply for ease of use. While they may be doing a stellar job at getting vegetables, fiber, and protein they may discover that their portions are yielding a total intake that is detrimental to progress. For instance, chicken breast has 35 calories per ounce while pork shoulder has nearly double that yet both hold similar protein amounts. This does not mean we need to avoid fattier cuts of meat, as some find them far more effective at preventing cravings. What it does mean is that just as we cannot lump all calories as being equal we cannot lump all foods within a group as being equal. This may be stating the obvious, but it’s easy to forget when focusing on a few simple guidelines.

[Tweet “Simplicity for the sake of implementation cannot be to the detriment of results.”]

Simplicity is highly desirable in this information overloaded world we live in. However, it must be taken as a starting point and not an absolute. If you find you are doing the right things and not seeing results, a first place to go may be a food log. If you have a history of self-judgment and recrimination you will want to do some mental prepwork and have a support system to help combat negative thinking. Consider yourself an anthropologist studying the eating habits of a newly discovered organism. Review your data with an impartial eye and look for possible foods that may be sneaking in and derailing results. Do you finish the kids’ dinner in addition to your own? Do you notice you eat past fullness? If nothing obvious stands out here, consider using MFP or Calorie King to monitor calories for 3-4 days. You may find the reason results are elusive is that there are fattier cuts of meat or the peanut sauce on your favorite zucchini noodle dish is way more than you ever thought it could be! Use the information as power to adjust portions or choose differently, not as a tool for shaming and judging.

If you are not yet mentally at a place where a food log feels like a safe and effective exercise, there are many other ways to increase mindfulness and determine if there is an unconscious behavior inhibiting success. Read more here:

The Importance of Mindfulness

 

Three Ways to Stay Full Longer

Chew, chew, chew, it is the thing to do!

Llama chewingThe benefits of chewing one’s food cannot be emphasized enough, simply because it is so damn simple yet so freaking hard! Chewing does three main things to increase satiety:

  1. it signals the lowering of ghrelin levels (a ‘hunger’ hormone) and boosts satisfaction hormones CCK and GLP-1*, basically sending a message to the body that reads something like this: “We’ve got chow incoming! Turn down the alarms!”
  2. Chewing also increases our capacity to absorb nutrients by breaking down the cell walls and allowing enzymes to more efficiently do their job in preparing food for absorption in the digestive tract. If you get more nutrients per bite, you are likely to need fewer bites to satisfy your body!
  3. Additionally, chewing takes TIME. And the more time we spend with a meal the more time we have for satiety hormones to communicate to one another and finally to get to the brain, signaling fullness. We become more full on less food (more than 10% less, according to the study cited below)

When I first learned this concept I was told that chewing 50 times per bite was a good place to start (this came from Andrea Beaman, who learned it from macrobiotic teachings which advocated no less than 100 chews per bite!) I assumed I was chewing 20 times before swallowing and was shocked to discover I averaged about 9 chews per mouthful!! Bumping it up to 50 was like slow suicide; but I was able to increase it to 30 and noticed that I was full with 20 – 25% of my meal still sitting on my plate. It was a startling realization of how little food my body actually needs and how powerful those hormones can be when we use them to our advantage.

Takeaway: Chew each bite 30 – 40 times before swallowing.

Pump Up the Volume

About 10 years ago a book called Volumetrics came out, essentially stating that volume trumps calories when it comes to weight loss. This concept takes advantage of the fact that stomach size is limited, so you want to fill it with more bulk per calorie. This is not a new concept; in the 90’s Dr. Shapiro put out a fantastic book called Picture Perfect Weight Loss that gave a pictorial view of this concept (as shown here)

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 1.02.12 PM

 

Here it’s easy to see which is going to be more satisfying. When choosing a volumous plate, reach for whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The Volume factor is one reason why my fat loss clients are strongly encouraged to make every meal 50% fibrous, watery veggies. You know the kind – stir fry veggies and salad greens – vegetables which are very dense in vitamins, minerals and phytonutients and very low in calories. Vegetables give you the most bang for your buck for staying slim, boosting overall health, and combatting inflammation and aging.

Takeaway: Make sure produce shows up at every meal and snack.

Pick Protein

If the fiber and volume of veggies fill you quickly, then protein provides the satiety staying power. Protein is a long-range satisfying food. It takes a long time for the body to break it down to utilize the amino acids which means it stays in the stomach longer and delays gastric emptying. Protein foods also boost dopamine levels in the brain, keeping us alert and mentally engaged and thus preventing snacking in the late afternoon in an attempt to revitalize lagging energy.

Takeaway:

*http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21775556

What’s Your Sabotaging Persona?

We all have things which trip us up and set us off course from our goals. The most common difference between those who succeed and those who do not is simply that the successful ones pick themselves up and keep going. They do not allow a set-back or self-sabotage permanently derail them. When things are not working they keep hunting for the answers, spending as much time inward as outward finding solutions to their challenges.

An effective way to cease self-loathing and blame when slipping up is to identify and be on the lookout for your sabotaging personality. What are the situations or thoughts that precede a slip up? Below are some common sabotaging personas. Identify yours and begin to see this persona not as who you are, but an aspect of you that seeks to get a need met through food, excessive Facebooking, avoiding exercise, etc. This persona is just misguided and doing its best. It’s your job not to let it continue to call the shots and run your life, just as you wouldn’t let an 8 year old boy run the family household.

Below are some of the most common personas that show up in our clients. Do any of them sound familiar to you?

perfectionism


The Black and White Persona
(aka – the Perfectionist): “I don’t have time for 30 minutes, so I don’t have time at all…” “I had that handful of M+Ms at lunch and blew it, I might as well have XYZ”, “I’m scheduled to lose a pound a week and I’ve only lost ¼ pound this week; this isn’t working.” “I’ve lost 20 pounds, but all I see is the last 10 I haven’t gotten rid of” The Perfectionist is NOTORIOUS for expecting things to be a certain way. If they aren’t, well, F-it! This persona needs to be reminded that life does not progress in a linear fashion, and life never turns out exactly as we expect. Letting go of the tight grip of control allows this persona to relax and enjoy more of life, develop a greater sense of trust in oneself, and prevent or eliminate ulcers. This persona needs it hammered in that in life, progress, not perfection, is the goal. Perfection is a myth in the realm of unicorns and leprechauns. If you can only fit in 15 minutes of intervals, go as hard as you can for those 15 minutes and be proud of yourself for getting 15 minutes more than the Perfectionist would have given you! If you have a dietary slip up, let it be history and make a better choice the next time you pick up your fork.


Untitled design (1)The Victim
– “my kids left it on their plate”, “in-laws were in town”, “there was nothing else in the house”, “it’s so hard” … this person always has a reason why someone or something has gotten in the way of his or her efforts. The reality is there can always be a reason NOT to – to combat this persona you need to start listing the reasons why you CHOOSE TO. This persona wants to avoid the burden of responsibility. By playing the victim card, he or she has all the reasons why it just isn’t going to work. Exploring the fear of responsibility and what that means to this persona as well as staying deeply connected to the reasons WHY you WANT TO take responsibility for your health, happiness, and your life are needed to put this persona in its place.VerucaSalt


The Self-Entitled
– you know this persona is present when you hear the words “I deserve it”. Somewhere in this person’s life food became the prize for a job well done, the consolation prize for a bad day or just because she feels like it! Often times all this persona needs is to think of other things which are also special, decadent, and just as rewarding as a plate of pasta or dessert. These will be things you typically do not do for yourself because they are just a little too decadent – fresh flowers from the farmer’s market, a massage, a weekend afternoon in bed with a good book, refusing to check email or voicemail for a set period of time, a manicure, or a bottle of ridiculously expensive, imported aged vinegar for your fat-loss friendly salads are some ideas to get you started. It will be important to examine what this persona is really looking for as the Self-Entitled is the one most likely to subversively create problems by transferring food treats to clothing treats or other consumables which can lead to financial problems down the road (if this is one of your saboteurs, you may notice that she pops up as a ‘retail therapist’ already!)

The People-Pleaser – this persona eats Grandma’s cookie so she won’t be upset, gets injured by signing up for a race that his buddies are doing even though he knows he’s not prepared, gives in and gets another glass of wine or an appetizer because others at the table are doing so, uses the kids as a reason to keep trigger foods in the house, or finds herself in front of the fridge after a confrontation or argument where she felt unable to express what she really wanted to say. Food can be an excellent means of ‘shutting oneself up’ to keep the peace and in many families the acceptance of desserts, second portions, and food in general is synonymous with acceptance of the preparer’s love. Combating this persona requires a commitment to staying connected to oneself in social situations and starting to test the belief that others will be upset if you stay true to your needs and desires. Start with the easiest situations (work functions and parties, for instance) and work your way towards more challenging scenarios as you experience success.

The Hider – this persona finds all the reasons to stay small, unknown, and unseen. It stays in the dead end job where you remain unappreciated, says “It’s too late, I can’t, “It won’t hiding kittenwork anyway” when considering breaking out and doing something new and exciting. In relation to food, the Hider eats when you get ‘too thin’ … feels exposed as the weight comes off, even while feeling more confident. At it’s root it’s afraid of unwanted sexual advances or attention, of being seen or appreciated for the ‘thin’ self; afraid of success and what that means. This persona needs a lot of compassion and love to release the fear associated with successful fat loss. If sexual or emotional trauma is at the root of this persona’s action, receiving professional counseling is highly recommended. Other barriers to welcoming success can be talked through with a life or health coach, through self-improvement books, and journaling and self-examination.

Which persona do you most identify with? Many people have more than one! Keep on the lookout for the situations and places these personas show up to learn more about how they operate so you can find ways to discourage their impulses and behaviors. As they say, “Keep your friends close, and your sabotaging personas closer.” 🙂

Gluten-Free Lean Living Recipe Round-up!

Here is a collection of recipes to get you through the weekend – each has been hand-selected to offer variety and support the Lean Living Lifestyle!

 

Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

Chicken Zucchini Enchilada Edit: Use Daiya cheese to keep it dairy-free and belly happy!

 

Kale Salad with Grapefruit

 

De-Shelled Taco Salad Bowl by Jill Coleman of JillFit Physiques

Easy Lemon Chicken

Chocolate Milk is Crap! (and other blasphemous thoughts on sports nutrition)

Yes – I think chocolate milk is crap. The recovery food hailed by the world as being the perfect post-workout replenishment falls far short of it in my book. Before I fully step upon my soap box – again! – let me explain why chocolate milk rose to fame:

The key nutrition components to a complete recovery can be summed up in two categories: 1) food and 2) hydration. Here’s why the Dairy Council and many coaches and sports nutritionists are pimping milk at the finish line:

  • Chocolate milk contains the ideal* ratio of carbohydrates to protein – the 1:3 – 1:4 ratio that not only replenishes glycogen but also provides protein for tissue repair and transport of the carbohydrates more effectively into the cell walls. *ideal if you are male. Women do better on a 1:2-1:3 ratio
  • Chocolate milk is liquid – therefore it contributes to rehydrating the body
  • Chocolate milk is tasty – I mean, really! Who the heck doesn’t like chocolate milk?!?!
  • Chocolate milk is cheap, convenient and accessible. You can find it anywhere – even along a highway in rural Kansas at a truck stop or gas station.

The above facts are exactly why you are thinking chocolate milk sounds good right about now! However, I take the viewpoint that the human body is a miraculous vessel. When you think about all it does for you and all it puts up with it’s easy to understand that it is an incredible machine – not unlike a Ferrari or a Tesla or a Lamborghini. Chocolate milk is like putting the cheapest unleaded fuel you can find into your half million dollar sports car. Here’s why:

  1. Chocolate milk is a dairy food – and dairy foods come with a host of potential problems. They are difficult for many to digest (an estimated 60-75% of the adult human population exhibits signs of dairy intolerance) and often laced with excessive hormones from the conditions in which cattle are raised. Excess estrogen is already of great concern in many individuals and is linked to hormone imbalances and possibly cancer in humans. Dairy only exacerbates that. (My former teacher Dr. Mark Hyman has a compelling piece on dairy and the Food Guide Pyramid here if you want more info).
  2. Chocolate milk’s carbohydrate source comes exclusively from lactose (potential allergen) and high fructose corn syrup or sugar. HFCS is strongly suspect as being a contributor to diabetes and non-alcohol related fatty liver due to how it is digested in the body. It also must be metabolized through the liver before getting into cells so it is not appropriate for optimal glycogen replenishment. Corn syrup and table sugar, are of course, the most nutritionally devoid form of carbohydrate on the market. Regardless of where any nutritionist or dietitian is on our highly political food spectrum,  we all agree that sugar and corn syrup are not ideal sources of carbohydrate. So my question to you is, are they the sources you want to be pumping into your cells to repair them after a hard workout? Do you want the construct of your muscle tissue to come from vitamin-devoid  sweeteners?
  3. Chocolate milk doesn’t have enough protein to repair muscle. Period. We need about 25-30 grams of protein post-workout (that includes at least 3 grams of leucine) to stimulate muscle building and repair. Chocolate milk does not provide this.

This stance alone has some of you wanting to squeeze the remainder of your milk carton in my face. I get it. I’m not taking a popular stance here! If milk judgement were my only offense, you might forgive me. But I have more blasphemy for you.

You Know You Want To.

 

Carb loading. Our mainstay and go-to: the absolute foundation of endurance sports nutrition lies in carb loading. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of pancake feeds, pasta feeds, thai food feasts and other meals I’ve had after long runs in the last decade. This was a myth I bought hook, line, and sinker. It made sense. It was widely backed by research. The entire sports nutrition community did it and backed it. And pancakes and pasta sound AWESOME after 2-3 hours on the road. Another easy sell!  I began to question this logic though when it became more and more challenging to maintain my weight. I struggled to prevent weight gain when my training was at its highest – 10 hours a week or more! At 5’2″ my stomach doesn’t hold enough food to make up for the calories I was losing, yet I was still challenged. Working with other endurance athletes – I saw the same struggles in them. It wasn’t until I understood the hormonal impact of carbohydrates in relation to fat burning and left the caloric model completely that I was able to lose the 7 pounds I gained for my last races in 2010 AND be able to help other runners and triathletes lose the spare tire that refused to go away. Looking around we all know that some people stay slender and others have to fight for it. The answer, however, isn’t in hours logged and miles run so much as it is in the food choices we make on an hour to hour basis. I, and other endurance athletes like myself, find better results in carbohydrate moderation rather than carbohydrate loading. I discovered that there was no need to carb-up or recover to the extent that I had been taught. Many runners will only lean out when they start moderating the quantity and timing of their carbohydrate intake. If you are burning loads of calories and still struggling with weight you’ll want to explore this possibility immediately.

My final blasphemy for the day is a hybrid of the above two. The pre-race spaghetti feed.  For races less than 2 hours long, it is unlikely you will need to consume extra carbohydrates than you typically do unless you are on a carbohydrate restricted diet. For many events, such a feed is simply unnecessary. Events lasting longer than two hours are best fueled with moderate carbohydrate consumption the day before and with amino acid and carbohydrate replenishment during the event. Your pre-race meal is to top off the tank, not fill it to overflowing.

Another consideration with the pre-race pasta meal again lies in food intolerances and digestive upset. Gluten intolerance is very common in my practice and increasingly common in the general population. Thus the pasta feed can lead to digestive upset during the race, increased inflammation and decreased recovery, poor moods, decreased alertness and motor skills (I kid you not!) and overall lowered performance. Many clients have had a significant shift in performance simply by shifting the pre-race meal to sushi, brown rice pasta with loads of vegetables, or including a baked yam or potato with dinner the night before. Give it a try before your next race and see if you feel a difference! If you already have a gluten-free pre-race meal, I’d love to know what it is so I can share with my gluten-free athletes!

It is not my intention to create enemies with this post – only to open up the possibility for alternatives if what you are currently accepting as appropriate is, in fact, not working for you.  Each person is unique and therefore requires a unique formula to achieve success on and off the trail.

What fueling strategies have you found to be successful for your long workouts?