Your Cyclical Fat Loss Plan: Carbs, Calories and Fats!

Crawl Before You Walk

Before we get into calorie cycling I wanted to address some initial fat loss tips if you are getting started. Your initial fat loss plan should be simple.

Just because something is simple doesn't mean it is going to be easy though. Stay on course and be consistent with your fat loss efforts. The imperfect nutrition plan you follow is better than the perfect one you don't follow. Keep that in mind! 

Focus on high quality whole foods that come from nature and avoid man made processed foods. Make sure you are eating enough protein  (0.8-1g/lb) and train hard in the gym.

Also make sure you are getting at least 8-9 hours of solid sleep per night. Create a nutrition, gym and lifestyle game plan you can realistically stick to and use until it no longer works.

Squeeze every last ounce of fat loss you can out of this simple approach before you consider moving on to something new.

If you are above 20% body fat, stop reading this blog post and start doing the above steps. Don’t over complicate things and get paralyzed by trying to overhaul everything at once. Make a plan, be consistent and start seeing progress.

Nature Is smarter than us

When it comes to cycling whether it be nutrients or calories, we have instinctively done this since the beginning of time.

Calorie and nutrient cycling are not a new method, and has been done by our ancestors for many years without thinking about or giving it a name. Cyclical eating is what it is called these days.

From an evolutionary perspective when we ate before grocery stores, we had to eat what was provided by nature.

When eating with the seasons we would have times of greater caloric intake, and times where we would consume less calories because food was scarce.

When eating cyclically different foods and nutrients would be available, or not available depending on the time of year.

This dictated how we ate back then, and it just so happens nature is pretty good at giving us what we need.  

With grocery stores on every corner and imported foods stocked on the shelves we have moved away from local and seasonal eating. We are now able to eat our favorite foods year round, regardless of the season.

Calorie Cycling Vs.  Linear Dieting

For those who are are looking to achieve fat loss you can achieve it multiple different ways that all work. A common method used  to achieve fat loss is a daily calorie deficit.

A person will find how many calories they need to maintain their weight and then eat below that every day.

If someone needs 1800 calories to maintain body weight, but eats 1500 calories seven days a week this is a 300 calorie daily deficit.

Another method is to have more calories or carbs on days when you're more active and work out, and less on days where you are not training or working out. This second method is calorie/ carb  cycling.

Calorie and carb  cycling are methods of raising and lowering calories and carbs on certain days to make sure you keep losing fat, but don’t let the metabolism slow from under eating for too long.

Problems With Linear Dieting

The closer someone gets to their ideal body composition the more detailed their plan will need to be to hit those specific goals.

With less body fat  you have less room to make mistakes, and can compromise the lean muscle you have worked hard for while slowing down your metabolism.

Simply cutting calories until you reach your goal works for a short period of time, but can make you pretty miserable along the way.

Assuming you were able to starve yourself into an ideal body composition it rarely works long term, and generally causes extreme weight rebounds.

Our bodies are efficient machines, and very adaptable. When the body adapts to a calorie deficit it intelligently respond by burning fewer calories.

Because fewer calories are being consumed, the body slows the metabolic rate down to ensure fewer calories are burned. This keep you at an even energy balance and ensures that fat loss doesn't happen for a number of reasons. 

During long periods of caloric restriction a master hormone named leptin is reduced. The reduction in leptin causes a slowed metabolic rate, increased hunger and reduced energy expenditure, a recipe for fat loss disaster and frustration.

Because leptin is such a big player in the hormonal game the reduction causes a lot of downstream impacts with other related hormones.

Leptin affects testosterone, thyroid and growth hormone which all regulate fat loss, muscle growth and many other mental and physical functions.

Advantages of Calorie Cycling

Calorie cycling promotes metabolic flexibility by causing the body to adapt a different amount of calories and carbs.

It keeps the body guessing when there is a caloric deficit one day, and then a caloric surplus the next. The different days of different calorie intake provides a different stimulus for the body to adapt to.

With days that differ in caloric intake it allows people to break the routine of dieting and avoid eating the exact same foods day in and day out.

You are able to switch up food choices and keep variety in the diet instead of eating the same foods daily it also allows a mental break from the grind of linear dieting. 

As mentioned above both calorie and nutrient cycling are a natural way of eating for us as humans. Before grocery stores we naturally cycled both calories and nutrients depending on the season and what foods were available.

From a social standpoint calorie cycling allows more flexibility. You are able to go out and enjoy food and great company while not stressing about caloric intake or eating too many carbs.

Getting lean isn’t worth it if you can’t enjoy time with loved ones, and kick your heels up from time to time.

Hormonal  and Metabolic Health

Maybe the largest benefit people get from calorie cycling is the positive impact it has on hormones. Specifically the hormones leptin, thyroid hormones , Growth hormone and testosterone.

By spiking calories on higher days you up regulate these hormones making sure to avoid the hormonal pitfalls that many people experience when they put themselves into a large calorie deficit for too long.

You also keep your metabolism from slowing down dramatically, which allows you to make greater long term fat loss happen and greater overall hormonal and social health. 

 Manipulating The Macros

On higher calorie days the extra calories should be coming predominantly form carbohydrates as they have the greatest effect on thyroid, leptin and metabolic function. 

Protein and fats can be kept constant to make life easier, and if there is a small rise in fast it is not a huge cause for concern but carbohydrates need to take priority for this to be effective. 

Keeping  protein at a constant level is very useful for protecting lean muscle mass and  remaining satiated on lower calorie days.

Protein is a very high satiety food that leaves us feeling fuller for longer. It also breaks down into  the amino acids that make our neurotransmitters responsible for our moods and ability to focus.

The two macronutrients that will be manipulated on high and low calorie days are carbohydrates and fats.

On higher days when you are more active the majority of the extra calories should come from carbohydrates to build muscle,promote recovery and keep hormones healthy.

On less active days fats will be the main energy nutrient allowing you to keep insulin low and tap into dietary and  body fat as fuel, while staying in a caloric deficit.

The constant protein and high fat intake on these days will keep people fuller for a longer period of time allowing for lower calories.

During lower days it is better to avoid the starchy carbohydrates, and go higher on fats and non starchy veggies while keeping protein constant. 

How Many High and Low Days ?

The specifics of how many high and low days you have per week will come down to a few different factors. One of the biggest ones will be how much body fat you realistically have to lose.

For someone who is obese they should have more lower calorie days, as their body will be able to hand that deficit with slowing down the metabolic rate. 

However someone who is already lean will likely need more high days to prevent metabolic slowdown as they have less fat to lose, and can likely handle carbohydrates very well. 

Another consideration is your training style and how many days per week you train. Ideally your higher calorie and carbohydrate days would be on the same day that you hit the gym, and lower calorie days would be on rest or less active days. 

There are definitely outlined strategies that work for people, but don’t forget the most important principle of nutrition is to experiment and see what works best for you.

If you are not losing any fat after three to four weeks, it could be that you need to exchange a high carb day for a lower carb day until fat loss resumes.

If your training is going poorly and you are having a hard  time recovering you might require another higher carb or medium carb day. You’ll have to tinker a little to see what  fits you best.

5 low days - 2 high days

If you have a lot of weight to lose and could be considered obese or very overweight, this is going to be the method for quicker fat loss.

By spending most of the week in a lower carb and calorie state it will allow for rapid fat loss, but the higher days will keep leptin high and your metabolism humming. 

Because carbohydrates have a greater impact on leptin,  the majority of your extra calories on the high days should come from carbs.

3 low days - 1 high day

This a very typical way to cycle for fat loss. You will do three days of low carb and then have a one day spike in calories coming mostly from carbohydrates to help with recovery and hormonal function.

This is a good  strategy for someone who is in the 15-20% body fat range. For those who train really hard and do a decent amount of metabolic conditioning this may be difficult on lower carbs and the option below would be better to use.

1 low day - 2 high days

This is a good option for those who are below 15% body fat and are looking to preserve or build lean muscle as their priority, while dropping some fat is secondary.

Because there are more  high calorie and high carb days compared to low days, fat loss may be slower. However as someone gets closer to their ideal level leanness it will be a slower process.  

Because this person has less  body fat they will be more insulin sensitive and able to handle more carbs without  gaining much fat.

If you are performance driven and mainly concerned with gaining muscle, and willing to lose fat at a slower rate this is a good option.

If you are training four days a week  lifting heavy combined with some metabolic conditioning or sprints this will be your ticket.

You will get in enough carbs and calories to promote muscle growth and recovery on training days, and be in a deficit on recovery days.

  • Use the basics first, and ride that train until it breaks down and stops working.  Use carb/calorie cycling as a strategy once basic stops getting results. 
     

  • Cycling calories and nutrients is an age old practice that our ancestors did by eating with the seasons.
     

  • Cyclical eating is  an effective strategy for helping people to lose body fat, and achiever more specific body composition goals. 
     

  • Pick a calorie/carb cycling strategy based on how you react to lower carbs, muscle mass, workout volume and intensity and the amount of  body fat you have to lose. 
     

  • Set your calories and macronutrient goals for the high and low days. There are carb cycling calculators online you can use. 
     

  • Keep protein constant each day at .8-1g/lb of body weight
     

  • Keep fats lower on higher carb days
     

  • Keep carbs lower on low calorie days, increase fats a little for energy. 
     

  • Ultimately you will need to do some self experimentation to see what works best for you personally based on your own needs. Be your own guru and go with what works best  for you!

Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.


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Why We Overeat Part 2: Stress

Hey folks if you haven’t already read part 1 of this series on overeating: Feast and Famine go ahead and do so to get some context for this post.

In the first part of this series we discussed how hunger works, and the fact that are hardwired for cycles of feast and famine.

Our ability to feast during certain times helped us to survive when dealing with famine. This same reward system that was crucial for overeating now works against us because our evolutionary habits don’t match with our current environment and modern foods.

When it comes to something as complicated as overeating, there are a lot of factors to consider and understand.

Once people understand the triggers for overeating they can work  towards a habit based reduction in the triggers and habits that lead to overeating.

In this blog post I am going to be discussing one of the biggest dark horses in overeating; stress. We have all heard mentions of stress or emotional eating,but Why does stress  cause people to overeat and make less healthy food choices ? Is it more of a mental or physical trigger ?

keep reading to learn more.

What Is Stress ?

Before we dive into the effects of stress lets define what it is,and dispel the myth that all stress is bad. Stress can be defined as a mental, physical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.

Stresses can be external such as ( social situations, environmental or psychological) or internal such as illness or a  medical procedure.

As an example building muscle from going to the gym and lifting heavy weights  is a beneficial stress response. Mini challenges to the immune system that allow it to grow stronger and fight off larger infections is a beneficial stress as well.

Certain forms of stress  that are short in duration are good for the body, but the poison is in the dose. Most folks are overdosing on stress daily.

How Stress Works In Your Body

We are adapted to handle infrequent short bouts of intense stress followed by time to rest and recover. Unfortunately our modern lifestyle is one of chronic low grade stressors that happen all day long with no time to recover.

Life requires the body to constantly be checking and establishing equilibrium.This equilibrium is known as homeostasis, for the purpose of this blog we are going to apply this to the  processes of appetite regulation, energy storage and use  as it relates to overeating.

Our stress response is a flow of adaptive changes that start in the central nervous system. This stress response is designed to be intense and  short in duration which causes mental, behavioral and physical changes.

Lets say we encounter a mountain lion on while on a hike. In response to the threat of a  mountain lion the body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to make the heart beat faster, increase the pulse  and move blood to the extremities to prepare for fighting or running away.

The secretion of cortisol also triggers the uptake of blood sugar into the cells to make sure all your energy can go towards fighting or running.

This stress causes the body to use all available blood sugar stored in the muscles or in the blood stream. The mountain lion sees you and runs away but you can still feel the effects of the stress hormones.

Adrenaline runs it course and is cycled out of the system in a short amount of time.Cortisol sticks around for much longer and signals the body to refuel after the stressful event.

We need to eat  sugar and  pack on  fat to make sure we’re prepared for any future fight or flight events.  

In everyday life a more likely stress is money for bills, traffic or an overbearing boss at work. The response is the same as the mountain lion though.

Adrenaline and cortisol is released to cope with the stress response. Your body doesn’t realize you are not fighting or running away.

The cortisol tells your brain to replenish sugar and store fat  in anticipation of the next stressful situation.  

Our stressed out lifestyle is just like coming across the mountain lion all day long.  We are not adapted to handle this volume of stress, but our body does it’s best  to adapt.

Assume our body has a stress bank, and each time you get stressed you make a withdrawal from the bank. We are all operating in extreme stress debt.

Just the same as any other bank sooner or later you have to pay back what you owe. The  currency we pay back our debt with unfortunately is our health.

Stress and Willpower

As we evolved and our brains grew we developed a larger prefrontal cortex. This prefrontal cortex allows us to set goals and regulate our actions.

This is the most evolved part of our brain that helps us to manage, and delay gratification. The prefrontal cortex helps you resist those sugar cookies because you want to look good for a trip to Mexico.

When the stress response is triggered it inhibits the function of our prefrontal cortex. Your ability to delay gratification and think of long term disappears.

In a fight or flight situation being impulsive is an advantage because your only focus is acting quickly and managing immediate threats.

In this state our body is concerned with improving  mood as quickly as possible, regardless of the consequences.

Someone who has something to live for is going to run much faster than a depressed person. The cravings are also  amplified to make sure you consume the foods that hit the reward center in the brain and elevate mood.

When this impulsive behavior is combined with reduced willpower and a perceived need to replenish blood sugar and elevate mood, it is a perfect recipe for overeating.

If overeating was due to occasional stress it wouldn’t be a problem. Our lifestyle and society is not conducive to occasional stress.

Comfort Foods = Sugar, Fat and Addiction

We are hardwired to crave dense sources of energy in the forms of sugar and fats, and processed carbohydrates. 

After consuming these energy dense foods the section of the brain that regulates stress starts to calm down and relax.

The reward system in the brain is triggered and dopamine is released to improve mood. It is a slippery slope when someone eats a food to feel better, not out of hunger.

Over time the same amount of food doesn’t elicit the same mood response, and the person has to eat more to achieve the feeling they are looking for.

Slight overeating can snowball into binging in an attempt to alleviate stress and feel better. The feelings of guilt and shame only create more stress and a vicious cycle that begins and ends with overeating.

While we are adapted to handle a certain amount of stress, beyond a certain point it damages our health and leads to cravings, drained willpower, impulsive behavior and eating to make us eat feel better instead of because of hunger.

I highly encourage you to find a form of stress reduction to do throughout the day. It can be taking your dog for a morning/nightly walk, writing in a journal, going to a yoga class or doing a form of meditation.

The very last post of this series is going to be dedicated to different methods that can be used to address each of the problems that stress provides.

In part 3 of this series I’ll be writing on another huge component of overall health that contributes to overeating.. stay tuned to see what it is!

Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.


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Paleo and Vegans: More In Common Than You Think

My journey into nutrition and a healthier lifestyle began with veganism. I saw the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and it opened my eyes to the poor foods I was eating on a daily basis.

I felt much better as a vegan than I had in the past, but I experienced some drawbacks too. This was a vast improvement from how I had eaten my entire life, but knew that I could feel better.

As I learned more about nutrition and wanted to improve how I felt. I decided to switch to vegetarianism with a lot more fish and eggs in my diet. This was another improvement and I felt much better than when I was vegan, but knew that I was not done tweaking.

I heard about the paleo/primal lifestyle from a few different people who had great success. After learning more about the paleo principles I decided to give it a try.

When I removed grains and processed carbohydrates from my diet and ate more vegetables and healthy fats, it was the best I ever felt. I no longer required that afternoon coffee and was able to finally drop the excess body fat I struggled with since an early age.

Even within the ancestral template I am still tweaking how I eat on a daily basis these days. I have experimented with a very low carb ketogenic diet, and a higher carbohydrate with white rice and white potatoes. I continue to make switches in my nutrition and lifestyle on the quest to improve how I look, feel and perform.  

Everyone has their own journey into a healthier lifestyle and it requires tweaking and experimenting to see what works for them.

Many different factors including goals and genetics, climate and stress dictate how a person can optimally fuel themselves.  What could be perfect for one person is a disaster for another, nutrition is highly individualized.

Paleo, Vegan, Primal, Weston A Price, Vegetarianism - everyone has a dog in the fight for diet supremacy. Anybody who is dedicated to a diet is looking for dramatic changes in the food industry.

For the whole foods movement to gain steam the diet dogmatic folks will need to put aside the differences, and focus on what we can all agree on. Only by banding together can we actually make a difference in our broken food system.

Whether Paleo or Vegan the only way we are going to make a ripple in the food industry is if we realize together we are much stronger  than we are separated. We are going to need every comrade possible to go against the food industry and elicit any change.

We all have a roadmap to optimal health, and similar goals at the very end of the path. How we get there may differ, but we’re all going to the same place and face the same struggles along the way. This blog post is going discuss what vegans and paleo folks have in common.

Let Hunger Guide You, Not Calories

To get rid of the obsessive nature around food, we need to get back in touch with our innate hunger signal.  People worry too much about counting calories and grams of fat.

When people are are eating a healthy diet with adequate protein, fat and lots of vegetables chances are pretty good you will naturally be in a caloric deficit.

In both the vegan and paleo camps there is a an emphasis on eating when you are hungry and not eating when you are not, pretty simple. 

We have built in mechanisms that regulate our food intake.  This way of using hunger allows us to eat until we are full and not overeat.

Excessive Sugar Intake Is Unhealthy

There is no debate that excessive consumption of added sugar is bad for us all. Sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane sugar and agave are very harmful and are widely used in packaged foods. Sugars are empty calories, and a metabolic toxin.

Most people are not going out of their way to consume excessive amounts of sugar, but because it is a staple in processed foods, people are consuming more than they think.

The best way to ensure you are avoiding sugar is to eat foods that come from nature, no package or label necessary. Also make sure to read labels and become learn the different names for sugar there are over 56 names!

Fermented Foods and Gut Health Are Important

The importance of having a healthy gut is really on the home front of health these days. Having a healthy gut biome is crucial to the overall health of everyone!

One of the best ways to support the healthy bacteria in our stomach is to consume probiotic rich fermented foods such as kraut, kimchi, beet kvass, fermented vegetables and kombucha. There has been some interesting information about eating prebiotic rich foods.

Prebiotics give your body the necessary terrain to grow these beneficial bacteria. These prebiotic foods are rich in resistant starch which is resistant to digestion in the gut and passes through to the colon undigested to feed the healthy bacteria.

The microorganisms in our gut have far reaching impacts on the body from our moods, energy and cravings to immune system health.

Processed Carbohydrates Should Be Reduced

There are plenty of healthy cultures from around the world that consume a  diet consisting mostly of carbohydrates, however those carbohydrates are from natural sources, not a factory.

Carbohydrates are a hot button topic in nutrition, but even the low carb evangelists can agree that unprocessed sources are less detrimental to health than processed carbs.

There is a lot of debate about carbohydrates all over the internet, but no one can argue that processed carbohydrates are calorically rich, but nutrient poor.

On the other side vegetables and natural starches are nutrient dense and do not have a ton of calories. If you are interested in a more extensive discussion of carbohydrates check out my blog post:

http://www.evolvenutritionaltherapy.com/eat-to-evolve-blog/2015/1/7/are-carbohydrates-bad-for-you-

We All Need Healthy Fats

Fats play pivotal roles in cellular membrane composition, energy, neurological and blood sugar health - we can all agree these are very important. Whatever way you choose to eat, healthy fats are a basic requirement  for health.

Some of the largest sources of fat in the paleo and vegan communities are the same: coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds avocado oil and coconut products.

Obviously a vegan would opt to not consume some of the fats in the paleo community such as butter and grass fed beef, yet both  choose to avoid the highly processed man made oils such as: corn, soybean, canola, margarine and hydrogenated oils.

We can all agree the we need these natural fats that come from nature to make us healthy, and that the man made fats deteriorate our health.

Health Expands Beyond Just Nutrition

When it comes to looking, feeling and performing at your best certain aspects of life  are just as important, if not more so than nutrition.

Nutrition is a vital component of optimal health, but a healthy lifestyle goes beyond just food. To be truly healthy you have to have a healthy lifestyle, not just three nutritious meals.

We are designed to move frequently and at varying intensities. Exercise means different things to different people, but we all require and benefit from it metabolically and psychologically.

Sleep and stress management are other components that play a huge role in our health and are frequently looked over. I feel that sleep is the most overlooked aspect of health and the benefits of quality sleep are astounding when you read the research.

Another area that has been widely discussed in the health and wellness realm for the past few years is stress management.

You can have the best diet in the world, but if you are a stress ball your health will suffer. Too much stress can cause poor digestion, blood sugar problems, adrenal stress and sleep problems. Taking 20 minutes day to go for a walk outside, meditate or engage in some stress reduction will work wonders for your health.  

Coconut Is Back On The Menu

For a period of time everyone was avoiding coconut products because of the saturated fat content that supposedly caused cardiovascular disease.

We have since learned coconuts are among the healthiest foods on the planet, and do not damage our health or cause cardiovascular disease.

The medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and lauric acid from coconut have a wide variety of benefits  such as neurological health, joint health, energy, weight loss, heart health and also heart health.

Supplements Can Not Take The Place Of An Healthy Diet

With the current state of our soil and the way animals are raised there are certain nutrient deficiencies that we are going to have despite our best efforts.

Other nutrients are very hard to obtain in adequate amounts from whole foods. The smart use of supplements can be a good insurance policy for the hard to get nutrients.

When it comes to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients whole foods are the best option. Whole foods are very complex, and there are many enzymes and certain vitamins that play a crucial role in the effectiveness of nutrients.

Far too often the focus  is on an isolated nutrient while ignoring the other reactions in whole foods that make a nutrient useful. Supplements should be used to help with an already healthy diet, not in place of it.

Dairy Is A Grey Area Food

Dairy is one of the grey area foods that some people do fine with, but others react negatively.There are sects of vegetarianism and paleo/primal communities that have adopted dairy.

Those who are adhering to a more traditional paleo and vegan lifestyle will avoid dairy products. With the  widespread avoidance of dairy, many great dairy free alternatives have come to surface that meet the needs of paleo and vegans alike.  

Coconut milk, almond, cashew and rice milks have all come to be popularized

Vegetables Are Important For Optimal Health

Vegetables are universally accepted as a health food by everyone Paleo to Vegan. When it comes to nutrient density eggs and organ meats are two of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, but not everyone will eat grass fed liver.

People from every style of eating are far more willing across the board to consume vegetables to improve their health.

Vegetables are calorie for calorie some of the  highest foods in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The high nutrient content combined with fiber and being lower in calories makes them a perfect weight loss food and good for overall health.

Whole Foods Are More Nutritious Than Processed Foods

We have evolved over the ages eating real nutrient dense foods that come from nature. These foods are very rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes. these natural foods are alive.

A large portion of our diet in this day and age is not real food. Chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavorings, food dyes, processed oils, artificial sugars are not a food.Yet we eat an astounding amount of these "non foods" daily.

These foods are very nutrient poor, but calorically rich. Our body has a brilliant communication system between the brain and  gut that allows us to eat enough to be nourished, and turn off hunger afterwards.

The signal from the gut tells the brain that nutrient needs are met, and to turn the hunger signal in the brain off. But when we eat these “dead” foods our gut does not receive the nutrients it needs and keeps the hunger signal in the brain turned on.

This hijacking of the hunger signal makes overconsumption a regular part of the day. Over time this repeated over consumption of these high calorie low nutrient foods leads to obesity and metabolic problems.

There Are A Wide Variety Of Diets That Are Healthy

In nutrition dogma runs rampant and people become so entrenched in their personal  beliefs that they end up giving the one size fits all “magic bullet diet".

We all have different genetics, needs, goals  and stresses that should shape our nutrition. There is a lot of  debate about which diet is “the right” diet, but more importantly it needs to be asked what is “the right” diet for you.

When it comes to leading a healthy life it needs to be viewed as a  marathon not a sprint. The style of eating that you can do consistently, that makes you look, feel and perform your best is what works for you.

There are certain things that we all know are bad for health and should be avoided such as excessive sugar, hydrogenated oils and processed foods.

Hydrogenated and Man Made Trans Fats Are Harmful

Trans fats do occur in nature, but for our purposes I’m talking about processed man made trans fats. They are unnatural polyunsaturated fats that are chemically altered to resemble saturated fats, but without the benefits of saturated fats.

These polyunsaturated fats are chemically altered to become hydrogenated fats by exposing them to excessively high heats (damaging), pressure (damaging) and hydrogen gas with nickel.

By making these unnatural hydrogenated fats they resemble saturated fats in texture, and can last much longer on a shelf. Sounds like a healthy thing to consume right ? Rhetorical question folks.

These foods are highly inflammatory due to the unnatural omega 6 fatty acid content. The overconsumption of these fats has been linked to higher small dense LDL particles which are damaging, and lower fluffy HDL cholesterol particles which are healthy.

There have also been links to metabolic damage and adipose tissue around the abdomen. Avoid these oils at all costs.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

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12 Simple Nutrition Changes That Make A Big Difference

When it comes to making changes some people are ready to go all in right away, and others need much smaller habits that are built over time.

Neither one of these approaches is better than the other. I have noticed that a lot of people do much better developing small habits that add up over time to big  lifestyle changes.  

I speak with clients frequently who have made large changes going all in on diets and exercise routines. As a result they lost twenty pounds and got in good shape for little bit, but it didn’t last.

Eventually they returned to their old default habits which isn’t surprising. Habits built over time allow people to lay the groundwork for long term change.

I like to use the example of laying the foundation for a house to illustrate my point. You can build the foundation for a house out of poor quality materials and go too fast to meet a deadline.

That house will look good and stay up for a bit, over time though it will fall apart because it lacks the foundation to support the house.

This is the equivalent of the diet mentality. The foundation of this house is just like trying to take on too many big habits at once  - poor quality materials are used,  and the foundation is built too fast, as a result the house can be held up for a short while but eventually falls apart.   

A different example is the foundation for a house made out of good quality materials carefully crafted over time.

As a result of the quality materials and the time spent to build a solid foundation the house is built to last. The foundation of this house took longer to build, and it will last longer as a result.This type of foundation is the equivalent of building habits over time. With a foundation like this you can make add ons to the house without worrying about the foundation falling apart.

In this blog I am going to be discussing the small habits that people can implement on a daily basis that can will over time lead to a new healthier lifestyle.

In my nutrition practice I have clients work on a new habit every two weeks, but you should go at whatever pace you need to keep things move forward in a sustainable fashion.

The beautiful thing about using habits is that they allows you to rely on a routine instead of willpower. The problem with willpower is that we have a limited amount each day, it is a limited resource.

We are bombarded with decisions from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep each night. The more decisions you can put on autopilot per day using habits and routines the more you can use that willpower to focus on other aspects of life and health.

Changes pertaining to lifestyle and health can be very challenging in the beginning, but over time the more you develop these habits the easier they will become. By mastering one small habit at a time you will achieve long term success and end up with a healthier long term lifestyle.

Drink More Water Daily

Our bodies are made up of 60% water, yet as  society water is the most common macronutrient deficiency. Water is the most important macronutrient in the body, period.

No matter what your health goal is drinking more high quality water on a daily basis will help you reach that goal quicker. Drinking more water is one of the smallest habits  that will elicit the big changes.

One of the biggest problems is that most folks assume all liquids contribute to their daily water consumption. The majority of liquids people drink on a daily basis are diuretics, and pull water from the body instead of adding to it.

The most common diuretics are: coffee, caffeinated/some herbal teas , soda, fruit juice, dried fruit and alcoholic beverages.  

Habit: If you currently drink 32 ounces of water a day start by drinking 48 ounces of water 4  times a week for the next two to three weeks. Set a timer or keep a water bottle on your desk to to help remind you about the habit. Over time work your way up to half your bodyweight in ounces as a goal.   

Keep Your Own Snacks On Hand  

Preparation is key when it comes to changing food habits. Food temptations are everywhere and making sure you have good quality snacks on hand reduces temptations.

If you have already paid for a food and brought it to work, you have invested time and money into this habit change.  

Everyday life will throw schedule changes and delays, if you find yourself unprepared and hungry, no worries.

It's easy these days to track down a place that has nuts and a piece of fruit or hard boiled eggs and veggie sticks. The goal is over time to not reduce the need for snacking in-between meals.

Habit: Keep a stash of healthy snacks on hand to make sure you are not left with poor options or tempted by the typical afternoon hunger. When you feel the afternoon low, instead of grabbing coffee and a pastry have small healthy snack. The goal is over time to reduce the need for snacking.

Include Vegetables At Every Meal

There are a lot of subjects up for debate in nutrition, but everyone can agree that eating more vegetables is a great to improve health.

Vegetables are some of the most nutrient rich foods on the planet and provide tons of vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients that contribute to health. Another added benefit is that vegetables are very low in calories and leave people feeling fuller for longer.

By increasing the vegetables in your diet you are leaving less room in your stomach for processed carbohydrates.

Habit: If you are currently eating one serving of vegetables a day, make a habit out of having one serving of vegetables at every meal 3-4 times this week. Aim for a fist sized portion of veggies on your plate 3 times a day. As this becomes a habit over time, make a greater percentage of your plate vegetables.

Batch Cook

When adopting a healthier lifestyle you are going to end up doing more cooking, there is  no way around it. It is not sustainable to try to cook every meal from scratch three times a day, but there are ways to save time while cooking healthier meals.

The biggest time saver is to cook large batches of food instead of single meals, and eating leftovers.

You may end up chopping  extra veggies or waiting for the larger batch to cook. The trade off for this is that you have healthy leftovers that can be eaten for breakfast,lunch or dinner without having to make a decision about what to eat.

Habit: Pick one night a week and set aside extra time to make one of your favorite meals in a larger portion than normal. Over time as this becomes a part of your routine, increase the batch cooking to 2-3 dishes or 2-3  times per week. Another option is to pick a day like sunday and make that your meal prep day where cook a few different meals to fuel you throughout the week.

Embrace The Salad

Salads are a quick and easy on the go lunch that includes everything we are looking for in a meal. Salads have lots of vegetables and when you add a protein source and some healthy fats in the way of dressings you are good to go.

An added benefit of embracing the salad is even if you are out to lunch/dinner salads are served served everywhere. Making requests to add or subtract something from a salad or opt for olive oil and vinegar as a dressing are simple changes that allow you to keep on track.

Habit: You can batch make a huge salad packed with veggies and store in the fridge at home. Each day toss a few handfuls of pre made salad in your lunch container and add some protein. To avoid the soggy salad situation bring salad dressing to work leave there for daily use.

Use The Crock Pot

There are very few things on this earth as simple as using a crock pot, it literally does all the cooking for you. From cooking roasts to making soups and even batch cooking quiches, the crock put is a gift from the powers that be.

My typical crock pot recipe includes a large chunk of meat with spices rubbed all over, chopped root vegetables, and a 1 cup of water or broth. I leave these ingredients in a crock pot and turn it on medium. When I come home I have a few days worth of meals that have been cooked for me.

Habit: If you are low on cash and need a  crock pot visit the nearest Goodwill. Goodwill always has a few crock pots in great shape at a great price. Pick one morning or night and make sure you have fifteen to twenty minutes extra to get everything ready. Put all the ingredients in the crock pot and turn it on and let the magic happen. The crock pot is an awesome tool for meal prepping and batch cooking. There are millions of healthy crock pot recipes on google.

Relax and Chew Your Food

We have our parasympathetic and sympathetic states that are better known as the rest and digest and fight or flight. To adequately digest foods we need to allow our bodies the relax and not be stressed.

The problem is that people do not take the time to relax before or while eating. Meals are eaten while staring a computer, TV or cell phone screen leading to digestive problems.

To add fuel to the fire most people are inhaling their food, and barely chewing before swallowing.  Chewing is an important part of the digestive process. Saliva contains an enzyme named amylase which begins the breakdown of carbohydrates in the mouth.

The more we chew our foods and break them down, the less our stomach has to pick up the slack left by our lack of chewing.

By not taking the time to chew our foods we can also consume much larger quantities of food than we need. We have finished our entire meal before our body has the time to realize we have over eaten.

When eating the gut sends a signal that it is full and well nourished in effect turning hunger off in the brain. When you eat very fast and do not chew you can eat far more food than your body requires. You will end up exceeding what your body needs, and excess will be stored as body fat.

Habit: When you sit down at a meal take 5 deep breaths before your first bite and look at your food for a few seconds. Over time increase the amount of breaths you take before the first bite. When you are starting a chewing habit don’t worry about the number of times you chew, but instead put your fork or spoon down between bites to start with. By putting your utensil down you will naturally slow down and chew more. Focus on one meal a day that you are not going to be rushed at and put the fork down between bites. As the habit progresses aim to chew every bite  20-30 times and make it a liquid before you swallow.  

 Eat More Protein To Stay Satiated For Longer

Eating more protein boosts your metabolic rate increasing the amount of calories you burn while resting. Protein also helps to curb appetite making people eat fewer calories overall.

By consuming more protein rich foods you will feel fuller for longer. Not to mention whether you are trying to build muscle or burn fat, consuming more protein can help with either of these goals.

Eating more protein is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to give your metabolism a push in the right direction. By keeping appetite regulated and not focusing on hunger other changes will be much easier to make when food is not on your mind all the time.

Habit: When eating more protein avoid the bars and protein powders, they are packed full of nasty ingredients. Focus on high quality whole food sources from animals and plants. You can begin this habit by batch cooking three different different protein sources for the week.Then focus on eating a palm sized portion of protein at each meal. If you find yourself hungry in between meals include more protein at meal times to help.

 Replace Bad Fats and Oils With Quality Ones

Something as simple as switching out the processed unhealthy fats for traditional ones  can have long reaching health impacts.

Most people today consume large amounts of trans fats and hydrogenated oils from processed foods. Vegetable oils are another problem with our current diet.

These rancid vegetable oils create inflammation oxidative damage in the body. The vegetable oils I’m referring to include: soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, canola or cottonseed oils.

Replace these highly processed fats with the nutritious traditional fats that have nutritive value such as grass fed butter or ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil.

Raw nuts or nuts that have been soaked are another good source of fats. The caveat  with nuts is that they are very easy to over do. Use nuts like condiments in the diet, sparingly!

Habit: Read labels on foods at the grocery store to avoid  trans, hydrogenated and vegetable oils.Remove these fats and oils from the house, and throw them in the trash. Next time you go to the store purchase grass fed butter/ghee , coconut oil and avocado oil to cook with at medium to high temps. Use olive oil for low temp cooking or cold uses.

 Eat a Protein, Fat and Veggie  Breakfast

By eating a breakfast that is mostly protein and fats you are able to feel more satiated on less food, and stay full for much longer.

When you choose a fat and protein breakfast instead of something like a breakfast cereal you can avoid the need for constant snacking and that  mid morning coffee crash.

The protein and fat breakfast combination allows you to keep more stable blood sugar for longer. You will be able to avoid the blood sugar highs and lows that most people experience when eating processed carbohydrates and sugar for breakfast.

An added benefit to the stable blood sugar is that your body burns body fat and dietary fat for fuel in the absence of carbohydrates. By keeping insulin low you allow the body to take advantage of the fat burning hormones.

Habit: If you are currently eating breakfast cereal with skim milk and toast don’t try to overhaul everything at once. Start adding more of the protein and fats every few weeks. If you are currently eating a bowl of cereal with low fat milk and two pieces of toast with jam start with one or two small  changes at a time. Two immediate changes would be using whole milk in your cereal instead of low fat milk, and adding one hard boiled egg while subtracting one piece of toast. After those changes have become a habit reduce the cereal by ⅓ and add another hard boiled egg to breakfast. On your other piece of toast substitute grass fed butter or peanut/almond butter instead of the jam. Continue making small tweaks to breakfast until you eat a breakfast that looks like a few eggs and ½ avocado or leftover meats and some veggies drizzled with olive oil.

 Read Nutrition Labels

When it comes to food advertising and packaging every food company would like you to believe that their product is a healthy option.

When you flip over most packages and read the ingredient list it tells a very different story. Most of these foods contain multiple sources of hidden sugars, vegetable oils, chemicals, preservatives,dyes  and are very dense in processed carbohydrates.

By simply flipping a package over and taking a few seconds to read the ingredient list and knowing what you are putting in your body you have the necessary information to  make better decisions about what you are going to eat to improve your health.

Habit: If you are currently going to the grocery store and not looking at labels I encourage you to read the full label of every 3rd item going in your basket. Ask yourself the honest question: Is this food going to make me healthier or damage my health ? Use this label reading habit to seek out healthier alternatives to foods you know will damage your health. Over time read more and more labels, and make the transition to buying whole natural foods that don’t have labels.

 Know The Difference Between Thirst, Boredom and Hunger

With the amount of people walking around chronically dehydrated everyday our  bodies are screaming out for water. The problem is that we as a society ignore this thirst signal to such a degree that we mistake it for being slightly hungry.

Another common theme amongst people is eating out of boredom. We are very lucky to live in a society of abundance, especially with regards to food. Many people eat because they are bored, not because of hunger.

Many common snack foods are so hyper palatable that they trigger the pleasure centers in the brain and release feel good hormones. This food gets associated with the feeling good which in turn keeps us going back for more. This mindless overeating leads to weight gain and many health problems.

Habit: The next time you feel hungry in between a meal drink a glass of water and wait 10 -15  minutes. After the 10- 15  minutes check in if you still feel the hunger grab a small snack. If you are not feeling hungry anymore chances are good you are thirsty not hungry and should have another glass of water. Next time you find yourself looking in the fridge or cupboard even though you are not hungry stop and think am I hungry or bored ? Instead of giving in to mindless eating go for a walk outside.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


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Why You Should Eat Your Carbs At Night

Everybody has heard the common wisdom that you should consume the majority of your calories and carbohydrates early in the day.

The reasoning behind this  is simple, when you consume your calorically and more carb dense meals earlier in the day you have more time to burn those calories off.

Going against the grain is pretty typical here on the Eat To Evolve blog. Contrary to popular belief there is a good amount of evidence that consuming the majority of your calories and carbohydrates specifically at night is more beneficial than having them earlier in the day.

I read about this theory from leaders in the fitness and nutrition industry Nate Miyaki and Jason Ferruggia.

I’m well aware that this goes directly against what you have been told by folks in the health fitness industry, but if they were right more folks would be walking around in great shape.

If something is not working for the majority of people the approach needs to be changed, not clung to with the vulkan death grip.

In this blog post I’m going to explain the benefits from a scientific, evolutionary and willpower  standpoint of why eating the majority of your calories and carbohydrates at night time can help you reach your health and fitness goals.

Follow The Evolutionary Leader

One of the most innate reasons for this style of eating is our evolutionary patterns of fasting and feeding. As early man we regularly spent the day hunting, fishing, gathering  and tracking animals and highly active.

Many times these hunts were done in a fasted state without food relying on stored body fat as fuel.

Digestion is an energy intensive process ,and these fasting periods allowed our early ancestors to be more active and alert without being slowed down by a full stomach.

Our ancestors would return home with the days gathering or catch ready to feast. During the night was leisure time spent with others  feasting on the food caught or gathered throughout the day, allowing them to relax and refuel for the next days hunt.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I want to live exactly like a caveman I love the my iphone, fridge and hot/cold running water.

However from an evolutionary standpoint we are hunting and gathering in the  form of going to work and training in the gym these days.

We should follow evolutions lead, eating lighter during the day and use our nights to feast and recover from the days activities in preparations for the next.

We are designed for this style of eating, people want to typically eat bigger at night anyway, and from a practical and sustainability standpoint it fits most peoples lives very well.

Win Against Willpower

How many times have you heard of someone going off the rails eating a ton of cookies or a pint of ice cream at breakfast or lunch?

it’s not common, and the main driver behind our decision making is our willpower. Our willpower is a limited resource that we expend throughout the day with every decision we make.

By the end of the day most people have emptied their willpower piggy bank with countless decisions.This decision fatigue  is why the cookies and ice cream binges happen at night,  we have the least willpower to resist ben and jerry or the keebler elves.

We still operate on the same sacrifice and reward systems that have helped us survive for thousands of years. With this evolutionary framework we have the basic hard wiring to overeat and store excess energy as body fat for times of famine.

The problem with this evolutionary framework is we rarely have famine, but food is available everywhere. We should construct our diet in a way that allows us to fulfill this need to eat large while not consistently overeating all the time.

Folks are are going to be able to eat lighter during the day, and make much better food choices if they know that they are going to get to eat a larger more satisfying meal at night.

On the opposite side it is going to be more difficult to feast all day, and then eat lighter at night. Larger meals at breakfast and lunch are going to leave you feeling sluggish and make it more difficult to focus and get things accomplished.

Looking at things from the practical side most people are not as hungry during the day when they are working, moving and handling stressful situations.

Folks are going to be the hungriest at night time after they have completed the days endeavors and are ready to relax, eat and prepare for the next day.

This larger meal at night time with denser carbs also triggers that satisfaction we are looking for, reducing the cravings for processed high sugar desserts.

Have Your Cake, And Burn It Too

Naturally most folks are going to eat a dinner that is larger than lunch or breakfast because they get to cook and eat it with no time constraints or stress around the food.

Being extra hungry is typical if this meal is following a hard trip to the gym or an athletic endeavor. The body has the need to restore the glycogen your muscles burned during your exercise.

This means that by consuming those carbohydrates later in the day post exercise, you will use them to repair and restore before any are allowed to get stored as fat, unless you eat significantly beyond your needs.

By eating lighter during the day and avoiding dense carbs you allow the body to take advantage of fat burning hormones for a longer stretch of time as well.

You can have your carb cake and eat it too, gluten free hopefully. Think of eating light during  as your fat burning portion of the day.

Try to consume proteins, healthy fats, non starchy vegetables in your fat burning portion of the day. At night time after a day of activity or a hard training session at the gym again consume protein and safe starches (yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, plantains, white rice) and some veggies and smaller portions of fat.

You should match the amount of carbs you are consuming to your activity level to prevent fat gain.These night time carbs allow you to build muscle, repair and refill the tank for the next day.

There is the long standing misnomer that eating bigger at night time will lead to fat gain, but we have come to realize that food choices, total calories and macro breakdown as a whole for the entire day are what is most important.

Each individual meals numbers don’t matter nearly as much as the numbers as whole at the end of the day.

Improve Your Sleep

By keeping those larger more carb dense meals at night time you can relax and digest while winding down for the night and getting ready for bed.

Try to eat two hours prior to your bed time to give adequate time for digestion before sleep. In the same way that the larger meals early in the day will make you tired and sluggish, this same reaction can be used to improve sleep. Below I’ll explain why this sleepy reaction dense carbs can happen.

The neurotransmitter serotonin is converted into the hormone melatonin which is needed for falling and staying asleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid that needs to cross the blood brain barrier for conversion into serotonin which becomes melatonin.

Other amino acids compete with tryptophan for entry across the blood brain barrier and into pineal gland making it less available for uptake.

The release of insulin in response to carbohydrate consumption drives these competing amino acids into the cell and makes the tryptophan more available with far less competition.

If you are eating a low carb diet and find that you are in a bad mood and are suffering from poor sleep it would be a good idea to try doing some denser carbs at night and see if sleep or mood improves.

Maybe pick a day and do a clean carb refeed meal for this purpose.

Enjoy Yourself Socially

Nobody wants to be the person who continually orders salads whenever they are out to dinner. We want to enjoy ourselves, be social and have a larger more relaxed meal when out with people.

Good food and great people are meant to be enjoyed together. Think steak and potatoes or sweet potatoes if you will.

This goes hand in hand with the psychology of our sacrifice and reward centers, it is much easier to eat lighter and healthier during the day if we know that our reward is going out at night with loved ones.

The key here is to make this way of eating fit your life not the other way around. When folks start allowing their nutrition plan to rule their lives it is going to be a recipe for failure.

You may gain some short term success from the diet quick fix, but the long term lifestyle changes win the race.

What Does This Approach Look Like ?

Depending on what your goals are a morning fast may provide benefits for you. Black coffee or with a few added tablespoons of heavy cream can help with extending fasts.

You can have lunch be our first meal of the day, or If you have no interest in fasting make your breakfast a protein and fat only combination such as eggs and bacon or eggs and ½ and avocado.

For lunch it should consist of a solid proteins source, non starchy veggies and some healthy fats.

You could even include a serving or two of fruit in this eating lightly stage. Some folks perform much better in the gym when they have some fruit beforehand but you will have to experiment to see if this works for you.

At night time use the tendency to eat more calories and carbs to your advantage by eating mostly protein and denser carbohydrates at this stage.

Try to avoid a ton of fats in this meal as we are looking to purposely spike insulin and drive amino acids into the muscle and recover and get ready for the next days hunt or work

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


Name *
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Phone *
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