With so many nutrition protocols and “diets” out there, it’s quite common for people to feel overwhelmed and confused - and be in total “information overload” as one of my clients accurately refers to this abundance of (mis)information.
In this blog post, I break down the nutrition basics. If you have been struggling with blood sugar control, fat loss, muscle gain, or seeking proper nutritional information to “just feel well”, these are the simple rules that you should be following.
1. EAT BREAKFAST WITHIN 1-HOUR OF WAKING EVERY DAY
Forget the fasting. Well, at least until you’ve woken up your metabolism. Most people don’t eat enough, or frequently enough which can lead to a sluggish metabolism. Starting each day with breakfast stunts the release of cortisol, the stress hormone which promotes fat storage and creates insulin resistance. Also, skipping breakfast and going about your day will cause your blood sugar to drop, resulting in an increased risk of making a poor nutritional choice as your first meal of the day, such as bagels, muffins, doughnuts, and those nasty breakfast sandwiches that wreck your blood sugar. Keep it simple, protein, veggies, and healthy fats. I usually make a quick omelet with avocado on the side or have two sausage bacon bites which you can find in my Diabetic Breakfast Solutions recipes book (shameless plug).
2. EAT SOMETHING EVERY 2-3 HOURS
Aim for 6-8 “feedings” per day - even if it’s only a few almonds. Doing so will keep blood sugar levels stable, decreasing the chances of overeating. Also, doing so will wake up the metabolism and let your body know that it will be getting fed regularly, this will allow for stored fat to be made available to burn for energy.
3. EAT PROTEIN WITH EVERY MAIN MEAL
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner should always contain a source of protein and don’t skimp on it. Most people don’t eat nearly enough protein and it shows in their body composition. Everybody knows that protein builds muscle, but it also is the most important macronutrient for a fast and flexible metabolism. It takes a lot of work for the body to break down sources of protein, it actually burns more calories. Also, eating lean sources of protein helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied longer. Shrimp, ground turkey, and boneless chicken thighs are my absolute favorite cost-effective sources.
4. ELIMINATE LIQUID CALORIES
This is the quickest way to cut excess fat storing calories from your diet. I’m not saying to eliminate the cream from your coffee but, skipping the sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juice will make a massive impact on your blood sugar and insulin response/requirements. The bottom line is the secret to fat loss is blood sugar control. Period. Sugary drinks, including fruit juice (the good stuff is in the actual fruit!), don’t serve you and will only contribute to being in a caloric surplus, which leads to fat storage.
Most people don’t drink nearly enough water. Our bodies are comprised of about 60% water and “water in is water out”. Drinking water helps to remove toxins from the body, regulate body temperature, reduce headaches, and improve energy levels. Start with the standard “8 glasses a day” and then challenge yourself to get 2-4 liters (0.5-1 gallon).
5. EAT 1-2 CUPS OF VEGETABLES AT EACH MAIN MEAL
Fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants aplenty. What most people are missing from their nutrition can easily be obtained by simply eating veggies at each main meal. Go for the green ones first, these will have the most fiber and help to control blood sugar, and keep you feeling full and satisfied. Spinach, green peppers, arugula, romaine, bok choy, and kale are my personal favorites. Try sautéing them in garlic and butter, you won’t be disappointed!
6. DON’T FEAR HEALTHY FATS
Eating fats does not make you fat. In fact, I call that “the big FAT lie”. We all remember the low-fat craze of the ’80s and 90s. Well, that directly correlates with the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic that we have today. When they remove fat from a product to make it “fat-free” they take away everything that makes that food satiating. Can you guess what they replace the fat with? Yup, sugar.
Here’s a great article that details how the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to point the blame at fat.
It’s always helpful to remember that our brains and hearts are mostly comprised of fats. Having a diet rich in saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats can dramatically improve health and even lead to fat loss. A good rule of thumb is to eat an equal amount of all three per day.
Saturated fat sources: animal fats, meats, eggs, cheeses, butter, and coconut oil.
Monounsaturated fat sources: avocados, nuts, nut butter, and extra virgin olive oil.
Polyunsaturated fat sources: fish oils, flaxseed/oil, nuts, nut butter, salmon, and seeds.
The “bad fats” you should avoid are the trans fats and hydrogenated oils found in deep-fried foods, shortening, margarine, pastries, cereals, ice cream, cakes, cookies, buns, and bread.
The above-mentioned fundamentals are the building blocks that I use both in my own personal nutrition protocol and my clients. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the minutia, worrying about things like alkaline and acidity and caloric deficit vs. expenditure. Just keep it simple and stick to the basics until you have mastered those!
Questions about anything I’ve outlined above? Reach out anytime!
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