Written By: Devon Kroesche, CSN Social Media Intern
Memorial Day Weekend is less than a week away, and many of us are packing our bags and headed to the beach for the first time in quite a while. Others may have plans for a backyard BBQ and pool party with friends. This unearths a wave of mixed emotions: the obvious excitement for a weekend getaway from the daily grind, and perhaps some lingering anxiety about donning a swimsuit and revealing your “beach body”.
Why adopting an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality is negatively affecting your weight (and a bunch of other things).
We’ve all heard about the importance of diet and exercise on health and performance, but did you realize sleep is just as important? With schedules that are packed with work, school, social and family obligations, (the list goes on), sleep often feels like an afterthought. You know, that thing you get to when everything else on the checklist gets done? But having good sleep habits allows our bodies to recover, promotes hormonal balance, results in improved focus and increased ability to handle stress (both mental and physical). Poor sleep habits, on the other hand, can result in fatigue, reduced performance, higher body fat percentage (2), hormonal imbalance (12,13) and increased risk for illness and injury (1). According to the CDC, over 1/3 of American adults sleep less than 6 hours a night on average (the recommended minimum is 7 hours per night to keep potential health problems in check.) Recently, a major review found that shortened sleep (less than 6 hours per night) resulted in an increased likelihood of obesity in both children (89%) and adults (55%). Another study found that when restricted to 5 hours of sleep for 5 nights, participants gained an average of 1.8 pounds (4). Now imagine if that happens more than just five nights out of the year.
As you may be aware, increased body weight is associated with an increased risk for many diseases, however, there is no well-established proof that higher body weights cause diseases.
In fact, weight cycling (often seen with dieting/yo-yo dietiting) may more likely be a causative factor in the development of diseases (insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia) than weight or BMI alone.
Research suggests that behavior change may play a greater role in health improvement in the absence of weight loss.
Not only can taking the focus off of weight feel empowering, but it has also been shown to significantly improve psychological & behavioral outcomes, particularly in improvements in self-esteem & eating behaviors. Health indicators such as blood pressure & cholesterol levels have also shown improvements with behavior changes regardless of weight loss.
Still not convinced? Let’s look at one of the largest & longest dietary intervention clinical trials– The Women’s Health Initiative. In this clinical trial, 20,000 women maintained a low-fat, reduced calorie diet & increased their activity levels, however after almost 8 years, there was no significant change in weight from the starting point. In fact, abdominal fat (measured by waist circumference) slightly increased.
We do not fail diets. Diets fail us.
Along with lowering our self-esteem, dieting may increase the risk of:
Weight gain / regain
High cholesterol levels
Decreased muscle mass / metabolism
Stress, anxiety & depression
Body dissatisfaction & preoccupation
Disordered eating / eating disorder behaviors
Devaluing of health promoting behaviors
You have the power to achieve health & well being independent of your weight.
I challenge you to re-think dieting this year and instead put your energy toward developing self-care & pro-health behaviors that leave you feeling good about yourself & your body!
At Case Specific Nutrition, we pride ourselves on offering individualized care to each of our clients. Are you ready to take a new approach? Email me at email@example.com to set up a consultation!
With the coming New Year, you’re probably thinking about what diet & exercise resolutions to make this year. You are also sure to see countless “detox” diets & cleanses popping up all over the internet.
This year, instead of opting for a restrictive, potentially counterproductive “detox diet” support your body’s natural detoxification pathways via liver, kidneys & digestive tract with the following tips from a dietitian:
Include more plant based foods:
These foods contain antioxidants, B-vitamins & fiber help support our body’s natural detoxification processes.
Antioxidant rich foods: Berries, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, orange veggies, coffee, tea, dark chocolate & spices such as cinnamon
Aim for ½ of your plate to be filled with a variety of veggies. Add fruit to breakfast, a snack or dessert – 1-2 servings per day is a good goal.
Build a wholesome plate:
Including veggies, protein, complex carbs & healthy fats at meal times will help promote satiety & energy levels that keep you going until your next meal!
Drink more water:
Staying properly hydrated allows your kidneys to remove waste products from your body via urine
Fluid recommendations vary from person to person- in general, you can estimate by dividing your body weight by 2.
Moderate alcohol intake:
Excessive alcohol intake can be taxing and damaging on your liver & kidneys. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to 1 drink per day for women & up to 2 drinks per day for men. A note on red wine: Red wine contains polyphenols (antioxidants that help prevent cellular damage which can lead to heart disease & cancer.) If you choose to consume alcohol, including a 5 oz glass of red wine with dinner may have some protective effects.
Get enough sleep:
Sleep is the time for our body’s to rest, repair & recover. Adequate sleep promotes cardiovascular, kidney health, immune health & healthy weight (by balancing our hunger hormones ghrelin & leptin) as well as our insulin levels (the hormone responsible for healthy blood sugar levels.) Adults over the age of 18 require 7-9 hrs of sleep per night.
Move your body:
Not only can regular physical activity help support cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, bone health, mental function & sense of wellbeing, but it is also essential for regular bowel movements (one of our bodies detox methods!) Adults should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week.
Clean up your social media:
Although social media does not directly impact our physical health, it can have an impact on our self-esteem, mood & overall sense of well-being. If you’re currently following accounts that make you feel less-than or poorly about your self & self-image, it may be time to replace those accounts with ones that bring you joy & enhance your life!
3 cups old fashioned oats
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. dark chocolate chips
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a non-stick muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients (oats–salt).
3. In another bowl whisk together all wet ingredients (egg–applesauce).
4. Add dry ingredients slowly into wet ingredients, whisking to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Transfer batter into muffin tins (about 1/4 c. per slot).
6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until tops are slightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.
A very common question I get – “How much cardio are you going to make me do?”
Well, it depends…
First off, most people need to understand their ultimate goal. If it’s fat loss, then you will be using cardio as a tool to burn more calories. If you’re an athlete, you’re going to use cardio as a way to enhance your performance. Having coached competitive swimming now for 10 years, I understand there’s a clear cut difference between peaking someone for a long distance swim, and peaking someone for a 5-10lb fat loss goal.
Second, you need to take a look at your daily activity, not just what you do in the gym. Do you work a desk job? Are you a construction worker? Are you a stay home mom constantly running around chasing your child? Each one of these questions will have a different approach when it comes to cardio – why add more cardio to your day when you’re already running around like a crazy person?
In terms of burning calories and having a short-term goal of shedding unwanted body fat, cardio is a simple as placing your left foot in front of your right. Over and over again.
So yes, walking counts. Even simpler, think movement – cleaning your house, chasing your kids, taking your dog out for a walk, etc. You name it, it counts as “cardio.”
If you work a desk job, and want to lose an extra 10-20lbs, think about what has changed over the last few years. On second thought, let me take a stab at it…your eating habits haven’t been the greatest and you sit way more these days, meaning you move less. Am I right?
Okay, Eddie, so what are you saying?
Keep things simple and don’t kill yourself in the gym with 5-7 days worth of cardio – I know I don’t and neither to any of my clients. Plus, is that even sustainable? Before you decide to add more to your already busy schedule, see where you are first. And how you do that is simple, invest in some sort of step tracking device (Apple Watch, FitBit, etc.) Track your steps for a week to gather initial data, and adjust from there.
Here’s my rule of thumb if your goal is to lose unwanted weight/body fat – assuming you have sound lifting program and you are eating according to your goals
• Gather a baseline with your steps, what’s your weekly average? I like to work all my clients up to ~70,000 steps per week
• If you are hitting 3,000 steps, or less, per day, aim to hit 5,000-7,500 steps per day for 1-2 weeks
• If you are hitting 5,000-7,500 steps per day, aim to hit 10,000-12,500 steps per day (on average, 10,000 steps will burn 500 calories).
• Find activities you ENJOY to increase your step count (walk your dog, play more with your kids, clean your house more often, park further away when you go to the grocery store, etc.)
The key, like anything else, is to have a plan, be consistent, and have patience. Now get up and move more!
Founder/Coach for AMP Fitness LariosTraining@Gmail.com
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup tomato, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 15 oz. can chick peas, drained/rinsed
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 15 oz. can light coconut milk
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. red pepper curry paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. pepper
1. Spray large pot with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Dice onion and place in pot to sauté for 2-3 minutes. As onions become translucent add garlic.
3. Dice tomato and carrots and add to pot after garlic cooks for 1 minute. Let cook for 5-8 minutes until carrots soften.
4. Add pumpkin puree and chick peas (drained and rinsed). Stir until well combined.
5. Stir in coconut milk and spices. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
“I’m deep into my career, it’s hard to find time to workout after work.”
“Ever since I became a mom, it’s hard to find time for myself.”
“With taking care of my family and my busy job, it’s hard for me to spend hours and hours in a gym.”
The list goes on…
Look, I totally get it – we’re busy people, and once we have a family, our priorities shift. The key is to find a structure that fits you and your lifestyle. Asking a mom, or career-minded woman, to be in the gym for 5-7 days per week, for hours on end, is silly. Not to mention counterproductive. I mean, who can keep with that high demand in a gym? I know I can’t.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you there’s a magic pill out there to transform you overnight, but there is an easier way. All it takes is a small step forward and deciding to take action.
So how many days to I really need?
In order to progress, regardless of the goal, you need a plan and you need to execute. Most importantly, you need to understand why you are doing what you are doing with your program. Why? If you don’t know what’s going on, how will you know if the plan is working?
Since I love having all of my clients in the gym, the goal is to learn how to efficiently weight train, be progressive, and not spend hours and hours on end on the treadmill. In turn, this will begin to shape your body the way you have always wanted.
Here’s a simple cheat sheet:
New to the gym (consistent for less than 6 months) 2-3 days per week is a great start
6 months or longer in the gym (consistent and progressive) 4-5 days per week
Vary your rep ranges and exercise selection from workout to workout
6-12 reps, 12-15 reps, 15-20 reps
Rest 1-3 minutes between sets
Track your progress! Make sure you are moving in the right direction
Cardio? We’ll cover that later 😉
Don’t take my word for it, click HERE to get Melissa’s point of view!
Is Intermittent Fasting a Diet fad or return to a more logical eating style? There are so many diet trends. Even as a nutrition expert it becomes easy to brush past them as “just another pitch”. To avoid this, I remind myself I am a counselor, and as such I need to be prepared to field a variety of questions. I need to be able to promote or breakdown any concept that comes my way. So, a few years ago, when Intermittent Fasting (IF) came across my desk in a conversation, I decided to dive into the research. Initially unsure of the concept, I dove into the forum corners of the internet to learn what IF was, then like any good medical professional, I turned to the literature for supporting rationale. To my surprise, the concept held weight. Here is the who, what and why about what IF can do for the body.
The phrase “intermittent fasting” sounds intimidating to the average person. Our society has become so fearful of any level of hunger (or too excited by feelings of complete fullness) that the word fast often becomes synonymous with starve. IF is not starving. At baseline, it is a very intuitive concept: our body does not need food all the time. If we look back over human history, we can see that food abundance has only existed in the last 100 years, and food excess for the masses is only as recent as the 1950s and 1960s. Before these periods, most people had some level of food scarcity. That meant missing a meal occasionally or frequently. Once again our minds shift to the suffering of the great depression, or an image of a homeless person looking for a chance to eat. IF is not the same as those things. Instead, IF is the practice of shrinking the time in which you eat. There are 24 hours in a day, and ideally we are not eating, or in a fed state, for a majority of those hours. Keeping food in a 12 hour span is step 1 for any IF dieter. Why?
Without going into too much detail, every time our body eats, we secrete insulin. Insulin is a storage hormone, it signals our body to store. When we eat too often or during too long of a period, insulin gets secreted, and the levels rise in the blood. This leads to two things: increased appetite and further increased insulin. This is why snacking gets so out of control. We eat something small, it digests quickly, insulin spikes, the food stores, we get hungry again, eat, insulin spikes once again before the previous meals hormone secretion is gone. Insulin accumulates and over time our body becomes used to it. Just like an antibiotic, we need a higher dose to do the same thing. Our body produces more insulin, which makes us even hungrier and signals the body to store. This cycle leads to the grazing tendencies of many cultures. Want to perform a fun test? Walk down a busy city street. If there are a bunch of kiosks and storefronts selling snacks, chances are you will see higher rates of obesity than in cities where the focus is on main meals (snacking is absent).
To summarize what we just discussed: IF at its base is controlling the hours you eat to allow insulin levels to drop back to a normal baseline. This regulates appetite, and gets your body out of the “storage mode” it knows too well. For women, eating in an 8-10 hour span is recommended for weight loss. For men, 10-12 hours is usually a small enough window to find benefit. If you are an athlete, or performing a physically demanding event, these rules should not apply. The “intermittent” part of this concept is that it should fit your schedule. I find it helps my patients to either think about it as: break your fast 12 hours from last night’s dinner, or eat dinner within 12 hours of when you eat breakfast. Either way, it forces you to think about when you are eating, which is something we all need help with from time to time.
*** Mythbust *** Breakfast: In the US, the “Breakfast” meal is the meal we eat when we wake up. Everywhere else, and more accurately, it is the first meal of the day- the meal that literally Breaks your Fast! This can be 6a, 9a, 1p, etc. Whatever you eat first is breakfast. So, if your lunch meal is your first meal, it is also your breakfast meal. This is important. The comment “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is only true if you are talking about it as the first meal of the day. This is because the quality and balance of food is extremely important in regulating appetite. An easy example to consider is comparing someone who rolls out of bed, grabs a granola bar and a coffee and starts their day, to a person who gets up, drinks some water, gets ready, goes to work, checks some emails, then takes a break around 9 to heat up oatmeal with some nuts and berries in it. Who will be hungrier at lunch? Who is more likely to make a better choice at lunch? Because of the breakfast and lunch meal, who is most likely to raid the vending machine for something simple and sugary? The quality of breakfast matters more than the time it occurs.
The focus on quality becomes relevant to all our meals. I always tell my clients that snacks snooze your appetite, they delay the appetite to a later time, while meals satisfy. A focus on real food at key points in the day is extremely valuable. Our society has evolved from a 3 meal per day society into a snack all day society over the past 50 years. We can thank our busy schedules and the time demand that comes with hyper productive technology and automation. Unfortunately, these advances have led to a work force that sacrifices it’s short-term energy and long term health to meet the demands. The disappearance of minimally processed, filling meals at breakfast and lunch is closely correlated to the tendency to over eat at night, complain of cravings, energy dips in the afternoon and of course, snacking. Is correlation causation? Perhaps not always, but I guarantee many of you reading are seeing consistencies.
With the focus on quality comes the focus on spread of food. Once we keep our food in a set period of time, we want to make sure there is time between meals. This allows insulin to rise, fall and dissolve. This regulates appetite and most people notice themselves needing to eat less often immediately. That is the core concept of a breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacks are meant to bridge gaps. They are not a daily need to entitlement. They are valuable to curb appetite until quality food can be consumed. They are useful for athletes or those participating in demanding physical feats. Most often, our meals should be our priority.
Once you have selected or identified the hours to keep your food in, an ideal spread of quality food to keep your body satisfied, you are ready to see the steady benefits of eating the way our body intended. Instead of following a meal plan that forces you to eat when you are full, or even worse a meal plan that has you counting the minutes to your next meal, IF allows your body to find a natural rhythm.
For those with high fasted insulin levels (lab draws and symptoms can confirm), the next phase of the intermittent fast is to pick 1-2 days per week and extend the fasted period. For the extended fast, if you normally eat in a 12 hour span, shrink food to an 8 hour span. This extension of the fast drops insulin levels further, and allows the body to get into an unfed state. Don’t worry, this is not something that “crashes” your metabolism. You are not skipping meals. You are controlling when you eat. Your body still has adequate food coming in, it is just spaced in a more practical way for weight loss.
***Let me guess, your personal trainer tells you that you’re going to wither away or lose muscle. Something to remember: bodybuilders and individuals building muscle want high insulin levels- they are extremely active, with high levels of muscle mass, so storage means additional growth of these tissues. Further, they do not have excess fat cells signaling storage into fat, rather they have excess muscle cells asking for energy. So, the lean and fit trainer that boasts about the 6 meals per day they eat- good for them, I do that too! There are definitely people who benefit from that, but many of the overweight and obese clients seeking our advice are looking to shed weight and adjust their hormones. For these people, the “eat more to lose” will often times lead to frustration. Additionally, our bodies have evolved over a long period of time, and humans have survived thousands of years of famines, droughts, and periods of scarcity. If the first thing our body did when we missed a meal was ate our muscle, we would not have survived the trials of time. Our body does not want to consume our muscle tissue. That is a last resort. It is worth noting however that our body does closely regulate muscle. It only keeps what it needs. So for the bodybuilder with an extra 40 lbs of lean mass, if it does not get used, the body will break it down. This is where the fear of muscle wasting comes from. Once again, advice that is relevant to a specific population, yet somehow made it to the ears of the general public. For those who do not have excessive muscle, fear not, your biceps are safe.
Another common concern that goes along with the fear of muscle wasting is that not eating will ruin your metabolism. Something that most do not understand is the metabolism is just a title for the total burn of the body. Our cells and organs use energy to survive, heal, reproduce and function daily. Our heart beats, our brain thinks, our nerves conduct, our cells divide. These events require energy and produce heat (measured in calories) as a byproduct. While it is true that out metabolism varies (+/- about 40% on any day), fasting does not lead to permanent reductions in metabolic rate, especially when compared to standard caloric restriction. Eating less in general reduces metabolism, but with IF, you are not necessarily eating less. Many times, you are simply eating in a more natural, regulated, and intuitive way, which is quite beneficial. Remember, there is a difference between the person that skips meals thanks to stress all day then settles for low quality food and the intermittent faster than plans when to eat and focuses on the quality of food to regulate insulin and other hormones.
Just like every dietary concept, this is not a one size fits all. Not everyone should do this, and not everyone benefits from this concept. During consultations, my team evaluates our patients extensively before building a program. This is a tool we use for those with hormonal barriers to weight loss. The people that are maintaining or gaining weight on low calorie diets are the most common population. On the contrary, IF is rarely a recommendation you see in the lean and fit, the athletes, the hypermetabolic, and those losing weight for the first time. Our body is a complex system, and IF is just another key that can help some unlock their puzzle of optimal health.
Water, Unsweetened Tea, Black coffee are okay in the fasted state
No artificial sweeteners during fasted state
Fasting in the morning is often the easiest time (our breakfast sparks our appetite) – it is easier to stay fasted once fasting.
Extended fasts are easiest on days with less physical activity and days with mental stimulation. A busy morning flys by.
If you are exercising to perform- do not fast on those
If you are exercising to lose fat (slow and steady cardio) you can fast
Fasting does not need to occur daily, look at your schedule and listen to your body
Ask to have your fasted insulin levels checked- it is not a common lab to order