Why We Overeat Part 3: Sleep

In part 2 of this series on overeating we discussed how the stress response we live with daily  contributes to overeating. Understanding the stress hormones and fight or flight is important to understanding today’s topic: sleep and overeating.

If you have not done so read Why We Overeat Part 2: Stress, before diving into today’s blog on sleep. Not getting enough sleep is a big stress on the body!

Getting a good night of sleep is vitally important to overall health and well being. Any efforts in the gym,kitchen or life to look, feel and perform better are stalled by not prioritizing sleep. 

If you are consistently not getting enough sleep there is a good chance you are  overeating as a result, and may not realize it.

What is it that causes us to overeat when we don’t get enough sleep ? Is it due to willpower ? hormones ? or is there an evolutionary advantage that is at odds with our current lifestyle ?  Read more to learn the answer!  

Sleep Makes It All Better!

Sleep is a basic human requirement, it is mothers nature’s way of forcing our hand into regenerating and rejuvenating.

Our endocrine, neurological, immune, musculoskeletal and digestive systems all rely on sleep to function correctly. This means every system in your body requires good quality sleep work at its best.

A good night sleep has  shown to increase memory and cognitive clarity, improve stress tolerance, better hormonal profiles, increased immune function, improved athletic performance, increased muscle mass, decreased body fat and better mood and energy throughout the day.

If I could  sell the benefits of sleep in a pill form I would be the most successful supplement producer in the world, living on a yacht, sleeping on a bed of gold coins and eating dinosaur eggs for breakfast.

I am here to tell you the health benefits listed above are not going to cost you a dime. All you have to give up is the mindless TV or facebook  and close your eyes when the sun goes down.

How We Are Designed To Sleep

From the smallest microbes in the soil to the largest elephant on the planet we are all synchronized to the orbit of the planet.

This synchronized orbit controls the light and dark cycles that tell us when we should be awake and when we should go to sleep  known as our circadian rhythm.

We have  special nerve cells in our eyes that detect the level of blue light from the sun. The light from the sun  helps signal to brain, and the body whether we should be wide awake or getting prepared for bed.

As the sun sets at night there is a signal sent to an area of the brain called the pineal gland. That signal tells the brain and body it’s time to start winding down. In preparation for sleep the pineal gland begins secreting the hormone melatonin.

We have a number of uses for melatonin in our brain, but one the biggest jobs is it  decreases the stress hormones that promote being awake and alert.

As we sleep melatonin also enhances the appetite suppressing effect of leptin in the body. Leptin keeps you feeling fed while you sleep, instead of feeling hungry and waking you up. The more you sleep the more melatonin is produced.

Sleep is also a huge driver in the production and timed release of our neurotransmitters. The most notable neurotransmitters regulated by sleep are serotonin and dopamine, and associated with mood regulation.

As you read in Why We Overeat Part 1: Feast and Famine;  dopamine and serotonin both play large roles in driving our behaviors to eat certain foods that hit the reward center in our brain and cause us to want more of that food.

While Serotonin and Dopamine play a role in mood they are also big players in focus, motivation and the ability to concentrate.

Serotonin is converted to melatonin, so by sleeping in alignment with our biological rhythms the body times the release of serotonin so it can be converted into melatonin allowing us to wind down at night and sleep through the night.

We are designed to wake up in the morning light with high cortisol secreted from our adrenal glands.The stress hormone cortisol allows us to be awake, alert and ready to handle stress. We should have declining cortisol throughout the day, with it lowest at night so we can wind down and sleep.

We should also wake up from our sleep hungry with low blood sugar levels, and low insulin (storage hormone) because it has been at least 8 hours since our dinner the night before so blood sugar will be low along with insulin.

A Light Accomplice

Electricity and light provided a new era in which humans could have greater control over our environment. While it lead to many great advances in society, it came with a cost disrupting our circadian rhythm, and sleep cycle.

Electricity gave us renewable, cheap, never ending light. This light was a  way to control our environment unlike we ever had before.

The biggest discovery before electricity was fire, it allowed us to cook food and control our environment in way unlike before.

When you start to control your environment it will also change you if you are able to adapt. We have adapted to the constant light, but not all adaptations are positive ones.

Long hours of artificial light and constant dense carbohydrates register as the longer days of summer. Summer means it is time to eat more and gain body fat.

A New Way Of Living

So What happens when we don’t get enough sleep and how does this impact our appetite and overeating tendencies ? I thought you would never ask!

With a lack of sleep you end up with extremely low energy, decreased willpower, lower cognitive function, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, fat gain and hormonal dysregulation.

The unending light registers to the body as as long days of summer. From an evolutionary perspective it is an advantage to eat more sugar and carbohydrates to gain fat in preparation for winter.

These days we live in a constant "summer" according to our biological rhythms, that signal us to constantly eat, and gain fat in preparation for reproduction. 

You are staying up late watching TV or checking facebook instead of sleeping, the excess light blue light suppresses melatonin production.

The extra blue light keeps the stress hormone cortisol elevated much later than it should be, causing melatonin to be low. 

This late night artificial light also interferes with conversion of serotonin into melatonin. We need melatonin production to relax and sleep.

Cortisol And Insulin

High cortisol raises insulin and  means low melatonin. Low melatonin  makes it even more difficult to get to sleep.

The elevated cortisol late into the night means that it will not be raised in the morning when we need it to wake up and be alert. Coffee anyone ?

You use caffeine to help with feeling tired, but it only causes cortisol to stay elevated when it should be reducing throughout the day. This constantly high cortisol makes you feel rushed all the time and in a stressed state.

Cortisol is a blood sugar mobilizer causing higher blood sugar throughout the day. Stress and blood sugar dysregulation both lead to overeating on their own, but there is a lot more to this puzzle.

Our circadian rhythms are supposed to control our insulin production  and stress mechanisms. When we do not sleep enough cortisol stays elevated to help mobilize blood sugar to aid in the stress of being awake longer than we should.

Because you haven’t slept enough the body is less effective at managing blood sugar causing you to be hungry throughout the day and night.

Less sleep means reduced willpower, leading to  more impulsive unhealthy food choices. The thing is you are not hungry, you are tired and stressed out.

Melatonin, Leptin and Ghrelin

Less sleep means less melatonin production. The length of prolactin secretion depends on melatonin production.

If melatonin is disrupted by too little sleep, prolactin will be secreted during the day instead of night time when it should be. Prolactin secretion has a relationship to the satiety hormone leptin.

Leptin is produced in our fat cells  and is used a dipstick that tells the brain what our body fat levels are, and helps regulate satiety.

Ghrelin works opposite leptin and is the hunger stimulating hormone.  Depending on the season, and our body fat levels our appetite will be adjusted to eat more or less through leptin and ghrelin.

When the production of prolactin is pushed into the day, it suppresses leptin’s signal to the brain. Suppressed leptin registers as a lack of body fat meaning we need to eat more.

As a result the brain increases the cravings for carbohydrates and sweets through Ghrelin. Decreased sleep leads to decreased leptin, and increased ghrelin meaning you are going to have an increased appetite

As you get fatter the leptin from the increasing fat on your body makes you leptin resistant meaning that your leptin receptors have been overloaded and do not work properly.

Without the adequate function of leptin,your appetite stays switched on day and night causing you to overeat constantly.

The signals that you are sending your body is that you are living in a constant state of summer with shorter nights and longer days, and stressed out.

The adaptation to the constant summer is to keep your appetite increased, especially for sweets and carbohydrates.

The problem is living  in summer with no winter to balance out the feast and famine is sending the signal to overeat and store fat year round.

All feast, and no famine to balance the equation has lead us to a state of fat gain, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Sleep Tips

A good starting place to avoid overeating and improve health is to prioritize sleep. When the sun goes down start winding down and have a routine for getting to bed.

Put away the screens at least an hour before bed to start making melatonin and calming down. If you have to be in front of a screen for work get a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. They block the blue lights and allow you to start making melatonin.

Avoid stressful activities and engage in some type of myofascial release such as using a foam roller or lacrosse ball to kick on the rest and digest parasympathetic and help you relax for sleep. Completely black out your room and make your room a little colder, both of these help with deeper more restorative sleep.

If you would like to read on more ways to improve your sleep read my blog post: 10 Ways To Improve Sleep

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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How Break Fat Loss Plateaus

How To Break Fat Loss Plateaus

When it comes to fat loss we have been lead to believe it is a straight line towards your ideal body. Just change how you eat, sleep and exercise to look like the cover model, right ?  

Changing how you eat,sleep and exercise will absolutely lead to initial fat loss, but adjustments will need to be made.

At some point fat loss will stall, and what worked previously will no longer work. At this point it is time to make changes, not abandon ship altogether. Fat loss is a zig zag for most, not a straight line.

In response to stalls in fat loss many people begin to feel frustration and desperation. When you feel this way it is easy to look at common advice to just diet harder and exercise more.

Because a moderate amount of something works well doesn’t mean that more is better, this can apply to exercise and caloric deficits as well.

 

Basics First

When it comes to reducing food intake the body is intelligent, and attempts to keep energy balanced. Less calories in means less calories out.

This translates into a slowing of the metabolism, and less fat being burned. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and running to the next diet, we are going to tinker in the margins and make some smart modifications.

Here are some areas I have people get honest about where they are currently are:

  • Eating too few or too many calories  

  • Not getting adequate protein intake

  • The amount of stress in your life (sleep, calories and exercise can all be stressors)

  • The amount of sleep you are getting consistently (8-9 hours, black room)

  • Lifting heavy and sprinting a few times a week

  • Frustration with fat loss and scale obsession

  • Track your food intake for a few days and double check your numbers

  • Daily non training activity (walking,hiking, mobility, yoga)

  • Stress reduction practice

After looking the above areas over, and being honest about where you are at if there is one you are not currently doing work on that before adopting the habits later in the post. The above areas will need to be addressed before moving forward.

For those who have a check mark next to each area above I am going to give some basic recommendations on where to start to help you get back on the fat loss train.

I do not know what will work for you you individually so you will have to tinker and see what fits, and what doesn’t. I am here to offer the ideas and what has worked for my clients.

Do not try to adopt all these habits at once, that is going to be another added stress. Pick a few that seem like they fit and work on them until fat loss picks up again.

Zig Zag Calories:I know it seems counterintuitive to increase the calories, but when you have been in a caloric deficit for a long period of time the body adapts to burn fewer calories, because less are coming in.

Start increasing your calories by 100 the first week. Next Week bump up the calories by another 50-150 calories making sure that you're not gaining significant weight.

You should  begin to progressively lower calories again after 8-12  weeks of more calories, or if fat loss begins again.

Protein Priority: With the increased activity and training your need for protein will also increase. Most people do well in the one gram per pound of bodyweight.

A simple action step is to have 1-2 palm sized portions of protein at each meal. An added benefit is that protein is a high satiety food keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

Protein also requires more energy for the breakdown and absorption than fats and carbohydrates, this is known as the thermic effect.

Chew  Your Calories: Look at what you are putting in your coffee, alcoholic drinks per week or the green smoothie you are drinking three times a week.

Calories that we drink add up very quickly without us realizing it. This includes the green juices from health food stores, look at the calories, sugar and carbs it contain. When anyone is looking to reduce body fat or break a plateau I have them chew all their calories. Simple and easy!

Carbs post workout: I’m not talking about the doughnut and ice cream pints you see on instagram. A few potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro or a bowl of fruit post workout will help with recovery , but also by lowering cortisol you will be able to burn a little more body fat.

I would encourage someone to increase post workout carbs by 25-30 grams until you notice progress again. Everyone has a different tolerance to carbohydrates and a great guide to help is Mark’s Daily Apple carb curve.

Take A Deload Week: Instead of being completely inactive for this deload week I like to see folks walking 45-60 minutes a day or going for a few hikes.

Get outside, play and have fun! Dedicate 15-20 minutes to mobility and restoration. This would be a time to address any nagging injuries or mobility issues. Take the dog for an extra walk every day or decide you are finally going to learn slack lining.

Relax : Stress is a true killer of both building muscle and losing fat. Start by dedicating 5-10 minutes to some form of stress reduction. This could be a morning walk, yoga, or meditating.

There is a great guided meditation app for the iphone named Head Space that takes about 10 minutes and is perfect for beginners.

Make Sleep A Priority: 8-9 hours in a pitch black and mildly cold room. Guard it religiously and develop a routine around it. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep read my post on ways to improve your sleep.

Avoid Chronic Cardio: I’m not talking about a few short 20-30 minute recovery runs, but the folks who slog away on the treadmill for 60+ minutes in an attempt to burn more calories.

While you will burn calories you are also pumping out the stress hormone cortisol which causes fluid retention and inflammation.

This long distance running will also dramatically increase appetite, especially for those denser carbs that you burn running.

Sprints: Once you have returned from your deload week begin incorporating 1-2 sprint sessions per week. These are ideally done on the same day as a weight training session.

You can hit a track, hill, rower, exercise bike or prowler for these sprint sessions. They should be 30 seconds of all out max effort combined with active rest for about one minute. Start with 5-7 rounds of sprints per session and increase as you adapt.

Consider Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent fasting (IF) does not work well for everyone, however there many folks  that it seems to kick start their fat loss.

IF is purposely engaging in periods where no calories are consumed and eating your food within a certain time frame. It can be especially helpful for those who are stuck in a fat loss plateau.

There are a number of methods to choose from but most include not eating for a period of 16-24 hours. This time includes when you are asleep.

Typically people stop eating after dinner  around 8pm and go to sleep.When you wake instead of eating breakfast have coffee or tea and eat for the first meal of the day at lunch.

This would be the normal 16-18 hour fast. Other folks go a full 24 hours without eating, this could be a 2pm Tuesday to 2pm Wednesday fast that allows you to fast for 24 hours, but still eat every day

Closing Thoughts

The above tips are a great start for anyone who has a good start on fat loss but it has since hit a wall with fat loss.

Remember that the common idea that you are not working hard enough and need to restrict calories further and exercise more, not only doesn’t work but can wreck your metabolism as well.

By slowing down the metabolism it will make breaking your next fat loss plateau even more difficult.

Instead choose to tinker in the margins and make sure your body is nourished and healthy enough to begin losing fat again.

Once someone approaches their ideal body composition it will require a lot more work and exact science to hit certain marks.

Before you get too down on yourself for not being as lean as you want ask if you have been putting in the work to get there ?

If not, realize that fat loss is not always easy and like anything worth while take consistency and dedication. To achieve sustainable fat loss you need to adopt sustainable habits to get you there.  

Are You Chasing The Magic Bullet ?

There is very a popular idea in the fitness and health industry that “miraculous” shortcuts exist. These shortcuts  require little to no effort, but  produce remarkable results.

This is the magic bullet theory that we have been sold. The magic bullet rests on the idea that there is one exercise, superfood or supplement can transform your body composition and dramatically improve your health. 

This style of thinking about health and fitness leads people  down a path that always ends in frustration and confusion.

The idea of the magic bullet also leaves people looking for the easy route and shortcuts or hacks  instead of working hard and showing dedication to something they value. 

The instant gratification we all experience is more the norm than the exception. We want fast results and immediate gratification with as little work as possible.There is endless information at our fingertips twenty four hours a day.

We can stay in our car and pay for food through a through window. We are impatient  and want all the results as quick as possible with as little work as we can get away with.

There no surprise we treat our health and fitness the same way. There is always the next big supplement, superfood or fitness hack that allows you to opt out of the hard work. I don't think we should cut corners when it comes to our health. 

Frankly there is no valid shortcut, hack or magic bullet when it comes to optimal health. If there was a magic bullet someone besides the infomercial guy at midnight selling fat burning supplements would know.  

There absolutely are more efficient and intelligent ways to train and fuel your body. The missing part of the shortcut that no ones discusses is dedication, hard work and consistency. The magic bullet is just that: dedication and consistency.

Somewhere along the way as a society we learned to shy away from hard work. Getting uncomfortable and putting the time in to get what you deserve became viewed as a bad thing.

Every kid gets a trophy these days, and this is leading to a skewed perception of real life and how the world really works. 

The fact in life is  not everyone gets a trophy for their efforts. Some folks are just going to be stronger, more attractive and smarter.

This is the way the genetic cookie crumbles, your genetics are not a choice, but hard work and persistence  is a choice you make everyday!

 From successful business owners to phenomenal athletes who are asked about their path to greatness, they all share something in common: Hard work and staying consistent day after day, whether they felt like it or not.

No one has ever achieved something amazing because they found the shortcut, hack or easy route. As long as each day you commit to getting better and showing up you are on the path towards a better version of yourself.

The best part is to transform your body or health you don’t need to buy anything. You just need to make the decision that you are ready and committed to changing what you are not happy with.

Being dedicated and making changes is going to be difficult at first. It will feel like you HAVE to go to sleep earlier, eat cleaner or  hit the gym after work.

Your focus  will be on what you have to give up for these new habits. When these habits become part of your life you longer think about, the mind starts to shift and something interesting happens.

You start to view these habits as something you GET to do. You begin to think about what you are gaining from these habits. You start to build your own resistance to those temptations, and  you gain momentum heading towards a better version of yourself.

If your goal is to get as healthy as humanly possible and reach your fitness goals  I am going to give you the recipe to achieve this  below this will require dedication and being consistent, but these are the true magic bullets:

Eat nutrient dense whole foods that improve your health , and consume these foods everyday. Eat enough food to support your daily activity level and reach your goals.

Match your activity level to your food intake. Eat  less of the foods that you know are holding you back from reaching your goals.

If you are eating a squeaky clean paleo diet, but are still  eating a full jar of almond butter every two days be honest with yourself about your negative habits.

Exercise intelligently and  consistently. Do not be afraid to work hard and feel some discomfort, this is where you will grow physically and mentally.

When you exercise strive to work harder than you did yesterday. Be honest about where you are in your fitness journey and realize too much and too little exercise are sides of the same coin

.Find a good middle ground between pushing yourself and throwing up during your workout. 

Sleep 8-9 hours every night in a pitch black cool room. Sleep will help with any health or fitness related goal.

You will not always hit the mark on this, but make it a priority and shoot for the 8-9 hour mark. Even if this means you spend this much time in bed get in the habit of being in bed earlier and getting away from electronics. 

Develop a stress management practice that you enjoy and can stick with long term. It doesn’t have to be fancy: go for a morning walk, think of five things you’re grateful for or create a vision of what you want your day to look like, meditate, or go to a yoga class.

Get deep into your thoughts and away from electronics and other people if you can.

Take time to recover from exercise and work on mobility. We all sit too much and our poor movement patterns reflect this, it will only get worse unless you work on it.

Recovery and mobility work improves training and everyday movement. Greater mobility allows you  move efficiently and work harder in the gym while staying pain free.

Move more often throughout the day. We are designed to move at various levels of intensity throughout the day.

The time spent in the gym is relatively short and intense. Many of us are missing the other end of the spectrum which is low intensity movement. Take movement breaks and stretch, go for walks or hikes, sit in a squat position for a bit or roll around on a foam roller. 

If you do the above things consistently, frequently and for as long as you can, your health, fitness and body composition will speak for itself. This is as far from the magic bullet as you can get. No miracles, hacks or shortcuts to be found here. 

It is simple but it is not easy, and will require sacrifice. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and your health is worth while.

When it comes to your health I urge you to stop looking for the magic bullet, hack or shortcut and realize, you know what needs to be done. Start today with one better decision and begin building momentum towards better health.

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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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.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


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12 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight On A Low Carb Diet

There are many factors that go into sustainable fat loss. These factors go far beyond counting calories, macros or whether you are vegan or paleo.

The fat loss war is bigger than just the diet and exercise portion. It is about the signals you are sending to your body on all home fronts that need to be considered diet, exercise, stress, sleep, lifestyle, genetic factors and your hormonal profile are all contributors to the fat loss war. 

Many people see significant benefits in their ability to lose fat by reducing carbohydrates and sugars. It has proven to be very effective for a lot of clients I have worked with.

However just like any other piece in the health puzzle, what fits someone else and helps them attain their goals may not work for you. We are all bio-individuals and have a number of different needs and factors that make you unique, and one of  kind. A snowflake of sorts! 

The individual needs of each person reaches farther than their diet and exercise regime. Many of these individual factors need to be recognized and planned for when waging a war against body fat.

In this blog post I am going to explain the main reasons beyond lowering carbs that you are not losing weight, and what to do about it. 

Too Much Stress In Your Life

The reality for a lot of people is that a healthy diet and exercise alone are not enough to achieve the fat loss they are looking for. We live in a fast paced world packed with unnatural stress.

Our body recognizes stress as a stimulus which it responds to the same  no matter where it  comes from. Whether you are getting chased by a sabertooth tiger or getting reprimanded by your boss, the body reacts the same way.

This stressful lifestyle puts our body in a constant state of fight or flight causing the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

Chronically elevated cortisol can increase unhealthy food cravings, muscle breakdown, fat storage and makes insulin resistance much worse. Sounds like a recipe for fat gain huh ? 

The Fix: Take a step back from your life and honestly assess how much stress you deal with on a daily basis, and what stressful situations could be eliminated. Adopt a stress management technique such as meditation, journaling, walks outside and deep breathing. These simple steps could help your overall health not only weight loss.

Your Carbs Are Higher Than You Think

It is very common to underestimate how much we eat, and overestimate how much we exercise. There is also the fact that some folks are far more sensitive to carbohydrates than others, and it's going to cause them to lose or gain weight much quicker.

The leaner you are chances are pretty good you can tolerate more carbs without fat gain than someone who is very overweight. 

If your weight loss has plateaued  log your food for a day or two and put it into some sort of fitness tracker like Fitday or My Fitness Pal to see where your carbohydrate intake is and adjust to meet your goals from there. 

The Fix: If you are not a hard charging athlete and are taking in over 100-150 grams of carbohydrates per day  dial back on carbs until fat loss begins again. To enter nutritional ketosis where many find accelerated fat loss go for 50 grams of carbohydrates from vegetables,  berries and other lower glycemic load foods or fruits.

You Need To Move More Throughout The Day

The caloric deficit we create daily with exercise is fairly small, and can become caloric excess with a snack or extra helping of food.

You should not be exercising to burn calories, but instead because mentally and physically there are many benefits.With exercise you will be able to create a better metabolic environment, build muscle and improve your mood and feeling of well being.

Not all exercise has to be a sweat drenched high intensity trip to the gym, aim for three to five hours per week of low level physical activity like walking or hiking.

Lift weights to build muscle mass which in turn improves your hormonal profile and helps to burn body fat in the long run. Use some short interval training or sprints as your cardio, it will boost growth hormone and can help to oxidize (burn) fat long after you are done.

The Fix: Incorporate 3-5 hours of low level walking and hiking along with 3-4 bouts of strength training per week. If you really want to make a push to burn extra fat include a sprint session or two. 

You Need More Sleep

Not getting enough sleep causes people to feel hungrier , have less willpower , blood sugar dysregulation, decreased performance in the gym, difficulty losing body fat/ building muscle and can negatively impact your hormones.

Lack of sleep is a stress on the body that can wreak havoc on our health, especially when trying to perform at an optimal level daily. 

Not getting enough sleep causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is efficient at helping us store body fat. To add fuel to the fire, our largest release of the  muscle building/ fat burning hormone (growth hormone) takes place while we are in the deepest stage of sleep.

Sleep is not negotiable, and is required for health. your results in the gym, work and life will suffer if you don’t get between 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night consistently.

The Fix: Get to bed before 11:00 and shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. If you have trouble falling asleep clean up your sleep hygiene and start to make a night time routine to help you wind down and get to bed earlier. If you need tips for helping to improve your sleep refer to my earlier blog post “ 10 Ways To Improve Your Sleep”

You Are Eating Too Many Calories

Low carb is an effective strategy for a lot of people, but at the end of the day when you are trying to lose fat calories do matter.

What makes a low carb diet so effective is that it reduces the appetite and naturally makes people consume less calories.

If your fat loss has stalled but you are doing everything else right, look at how many calories you are taking in on a daily basis.

Be aware though that all calories are not created equal, and have different hormonal effects on the body because of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they contain or lack.

As you approach your ideal body composition the small details become a larger part of the picture. 

The Fix: Take a look at some of the more calorically dense foods in low carb diets like nuts, nut butters and cheese that people can go overboard with ,and reduce consumption. Use a calorie tracker like My Fitness Pal or Fitday and see what your calories for three days are. When going for fat loss shoot for the range of 10-12 times body weight in calories. I am not encouraging anyone to count macros or calories long term, but just for a few days to get a realistic idea of how many calories you are taking in. 

You Are Not Eating Enough Vegetables

Many folks who adopt a low carb diet assume that they should avoid vegetables and fruits because they contain carbohydrates, but this is a big mistake.

Plants are some of the most nutrient dense foods and contain vitamins, minerals and lots of indigestible fiber that help with fat loss. The indigestible fiber you get from fruits and veggies helps you to feel fuller for longer and reduces the cravings.

Make sure to consume healthy fruits and vegetables with every meal and avoid the ‘low carb treats” and bars.

You will need to personalize your fruit intake, because some of them are higher in carbohydrates and will prevent you from entering ketosis. Fruits such as berries and other low glycemic load fruits can fit in the low carb diet because they are lower in carbs and higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The Fix: Consume 1-2 cups of low glycemic vegetables at every meal to give your body the nutrients it needs and keep you fuller for longer. Some vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates and can be enjoyed are: spinach, kale, collards, eggplant, broccoli, celery, bok choy, mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, onion, garlic.

You Are Over Consuming Dairy Products

Even though dairy is lower in carbs it does contain a good amount of protein and like carbs,  protein can be insulinogenic.

Protein much like carbohydrates when over consumed can raise insulin levels. This insulin  causes fat storage.  Even if you have no negative reactions to dairy, consuming it multiples times a day can cause extra spikes in insulin shutting down fat burning capabilities, and stalling fat loss progress.

The Fix: If fat loss has stalled reduce and eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt and cream. Because butter is very low in protein and lactose it will not spike insulin, you can also get Ghee which is butter fat with all the milk solids removed.

You Have Restricted Calories For Too Long

Being in a calorie deficit for too long can create some problems with the metabolism and can slow weight loss. When in a caloric deficit for too long it will slow down the metabolism.

The body is very intelligent and realizes that less food is coming in and in response it becomes more efficient by slowing the rate at which we burn calories to prevent starvation.

To prevent the metabolism slowing down people will purposely spike calories from healthy foods, especially from carbohydrates once a week. This weekly spike in calories sends the signal to the body that we are not starving and to  keep the metabolism humming along.

The Fix: If you have kept your calories and carbohydrates restricted for a long period of time and fat loss has stalled you may want to consider picking a meal or day once a week and  eat higher calories especially from carbohydrates at this meal/day. These should still be healthy foods, this is not a license to crush a dozen doughnuts once a week.

You Are Putting On Muscle Mass

Don’t live and die by the scale, while it can be helpful the scale does not tell the entire story when it comes to losing weight.

When you start to incorporate a more active lifestyle with better sleep and better eating habits  an environment to put on muscle mass and improve bone density has been created.

The great thing about  gaining muscle mass is it will help with fat loss. But because muscle mass is denser than fat,  weight on the scale may stay the same or go up.

The Fix: Take greater stock in other measurements that are not related to the scale. Make sure to keep how you look, feel and perform in your mind. If you staying at the same weight but body composition is changing in the mirror for the better don’t sweat the scale.

You Are Not Being Honest With Yourself

A lot of people will tell someone that they want to lose weight, but their actions do not match what they are saying. Everyone has met the person who tells everyone at a gathering they are on a strict diet.

Twenty minutes later the same person is at the food table stuffing their face with cookies, candy and potato chips. When asked  about their “diet” they explain that they are going to restart it tomorrow.

Months later you run into the same person again and ask them how the diet  is going and they respond saying it didn’t “work” for them. I highly doubt it was that the diet didn't work. That person was not ready for the large change they attempted to take on. 

The problem is that most people are not honest with themselves about what they really want in that moment. Delaying gratification is very difficult and can take years of practice.  

There should never be any shame or guilt around food choices, just consequences. If you value eating four cookies every day more than fat loss or getting healthier that is your personal choice, no judgement. However don’t tell people you don’t know why you can’t lose that last ten pounds.

The Fix: Be completely honest about what you value in your life and why that is important to you. Do not beat yourself up over slip ups. Instead recognize in that moment you valued what you chose over the delayed gratification of staying on course. The beauty is that next time you have the opportunity to make a better choice. 

You Are Eating Processed Low Carb Foods, Not Real Foods

There are plenty of low carb bars and processed foods that can be found in the grocery store. Low carb does not always mean it is a healthy option.

When adopting a new style of eating you have to be aware of the buzzwords that the food industry will use to sell you products.

When switching to a lower carb diet replace those carbs with whole nutrient dense food that comes from nature such as fish, meat, eggs, vegetables and healthy fats.

When reducing carbs it is very important to eat more fats. You are taking one energy nutrient away in the form of carbohydrates, and need to replace it with fats for energy. If you try to go low carb and low fat at the same time you will be starving all the time and feel horrible.

The Fix: Eat nutrient dense whole foods that come from nature such as meats, vegetables, fish, fruits, eggs, nuts, seeds and healthy fats such as coconut products, butter, palm oil, avocados and olives and olive oil.

You Are Impatient

One healthy meal will not make you lean, just like one unhealthy meal is not the cause of weight gain. Changing your lifestyle and staying consistent is the key to the battle against fat loss.

Some people are able to lose fat very quickly while others will lose fat slower. If you are someone who loses fat slowly don’t jump ship after a month saying it didn’t work, you need to be patient and adopt a new lifestyle that includes sleep, exercise, stress management and healthy eating. Diets fail but lifestyle changes do not. 

Adopting new habits can be very intimidating and difficult for people. I like the example of the mountain that is made up of pebbles.

The mountain is the persons goal and the pebbles are small habits that will get them to their goal. Most people want to move the entire mountain on the first day, but quickly get discouraged when the mountain doesn't budge.

What works better is to move a pebble a day, and over time you will move that mountain, but one pebble at a time. Small habits add up to big changes and goals being met. 

The Fix: Be patient and know that it will take time, if you stay patient and stick to the plan the reward of that consistency will be looking, feel and performing your daily tasks better. Given a long enough time to make these changes you can lose weight, but not everyone will look like a fitness model with just these tips. Be honest and realistic with yourself about your habits, and learn to love the process.

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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