Lets start with the Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates -The good the bad and the ugly.
Marketing has created a fear of carbohydrates in us all, I think. So many diet books out there that tell you when you cut the carbs you cut weight. And while that’s true to a point, you end up losing mostly water unless you are cutting back on overall calories as well.
Why is that you ask? Because muscles store water with carbohydrate (energy, aka glycogen). So when you stop consuming carbs, you initially lose a lot of water weight. Removing your carbs will also result in you loosing fibre from your diet which can mean that you become constipated and won’t eliminate wastes from your body timely or effectively. The one good thing from most of these low carb diets though, is that they get you off eating things like muffins, croissants, pastries and breads and other flour based products. And that can help with your weight loss or weight management goals long term!
So here’s the scoop. Don’t eliminate carbohydrates! They are an important macronutrient, they provide energy for your body and your brain. Ever get cranky towards the end of a long training effort or race? Or what about when you miss a meal. Your brain runs are carbs, so don’t starve your brain. But, we do care where they come from. Carbs are broken down into 3 main categories, Sugars, Starches and Fibres. We want more fibre and starches than sugars. Carbs should make up at least 40% of your diet and up to 50-60% if you are a vegetarian or an endurance athlete.
The good Carbs – good carbs contain naturally occurring sugar that the body can metabolize slowly due to the fibre, leading to balanced brain function, mood attitude and useful energy. They are not stripped of their nutrients. The also contain vitamins and minerals and they are needed to regulate protein and fat metabolism.
- Vegetables: All veggies in their natural state (or pretty close to it). That means no frying, because you can turn good carbs bad!
- Lentils, Legumes and Beans. These are great sources of complex carbohydrates that offer a lot of protein as well. Think of the choices: Pinto beans, Chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, Adzuki beans, mung beans, navy beans, Romano beans, green lentils, red lentils, split green peas, yellow peas. Beans and lentils contain a lot of fibre, protein, b vitamins and minerals. The adzuki bean is said to be a weight loss bean as it helps to remove wastes from the body.
- Grains and Grasses. Gluten Free: Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Quinoa, Teff, Amaranth, Oats (though usually contaminated with gluten). Gluten Grains- Barley, Rye, Kamut, Spelt and wheat. You should eat a variety of grains to reduce risk of developing an intolerance/ sensitive. While these grains are whole they are healthy and slow to digest. When they are processed they do the same as the refined flours and sugars mentioned earlier.
- Fruits– All fruits are good carbohydrates too. I’m talking about fresh fruit and not canned, juice, or dried. Just try to limit intake to 2-3 servings per day (ie 2-3 tennis balls). Dried are OK as long as they are organic and you don’t eat to0 many. Take dried apricots. Would you ever sit down and eat 10 fresh apricots at a time? Likely not, but 10 pieces of dried apricots have concentrated sugar and go down pretty quick. Not to mention, dates have 36g of sugar in just 2! Dried fruits can be good for sugar substitutes in baking and great before, during or after long exercise, but otherwise they will likely elevate your blood sugar very quickly.
What about Wheat? Most people eat too much wheat, like all day, every day. So while it’s a healthy grain (for some), eating too much of it can have a negative effect on the blood and organs, leading to food intolerance. It has become highly allergenic, because of the excessive intake in our society. So rinse your grains, soak your grains well, cook them well and chew them well to increase digestibility. Also try sprouting if you want to reduce the gluten in gluten contain grains. Want to know more about wheat? Read Wheat Belly by William Davis. It’s also a good idea to rotate your grains. As I’ve said many times variety is key, especially when managing minor food intolerances. Your genes will also dictate if you have a genetic predisposition for not tolerating gluten well. Theres a group of 7 HLA genes that produce protein which are responsible for how the immune system distinguishes between the body’s own protein and foreign, potentially harmful proteins. These HLA genes are the most important genetic predictors of gluten intolerance.
Simple carbs are the sugary, refined type including cakes, cookies sweets and anything made with added, refined sugar, or flour or white rice. Also included in this are flour-based products like breads and cereal grains, and all processed packaged foods.
During the refining process, the majority of the minerals and vitamins are removed and these foods behave like pure sugar, rushing into the bloodstream causing blood glucose disturbances and sugar cravings. Eat too many of these and you will have mood swings and cravings. You may get depressed, angry and irritable, feel ill and get fat! Excess bad carb residues are stored as fat in the body and can increase risk of diabetes and possibly Alzheimer’s .
And, alcohol is another BAD carb. I could go on about why, but here’s an article for those that want to dive a little deeper. I suggest you read it. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-alcoholic-beverages
So lets get started with a recipe full of good carbs! Ginger Split Pea Soup!
Don’t fear fat!!! For too long we have be told to fear fat. Don’t eat nuts because the have fat in them. Buy low fat this, that and the other. Well listen up because we need fat. Fat is not the enemy, sugar is, and science is confirming that. Go back to the post where I talked about sugar evils and if you haven’t watched the Fifth Estate video on Sugar, now is the time. And look at the chart below. Low-Fat is making us fat!
- Fat tastes good,
- makes us feel full,
- Tells us to stop eating
- helps with hormone production,
- Is present in every cell in the body (making cells possible)
- Give foods flavour
- Are key components in our nervous system allowing messages to travel as fast as they do
- Gives us mental grounding,
- Help us absorb vitamins A, D, E and K,
- Help get calcium into the body, via vitamin D absorption
- Is a stored form of energy for emergencies – roughly 4000 calories per pound of fat!
- Provide protect to our organs from trauma (Careful though we don’t want too much visceral fat)
- Keeps us warm in cold climates
- Provide immune system support
Ready to eat up? Not so fast. Here’s a quick lesson on good fats and bad fats.
Fats to avoid:
- Rancid (ie old oils)
The first 4 are ways the food industry uses to partially preserve packed foods from spoilage so they can sit on the shelf for years without going bad. Modified and fractionated are other terms for hydrogenation. Hydrogenation alters the chemical structure of fats and alters the way the body metabolizes these fats. When you take an unsaturated oil that is liquid a room temperature (think of your sunflower seed oil or other nuts/seed oils and you make it solid (aka margarine) you turn it from a healthy fat to a bad fat. Keep this in mind when you hear fast food places saying they use Trans fat free oils. Well when you fry an unsaturated oil you change the chemical structure from good (Cis) to bad (trans). Beware of marketing claims.
Saturated fats from coconut oil– these contain medium chain triglycerids (MCT) The size of the fatty acid is extremely important because physiological effects of medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are distinctly different from the long-chain fatty acids more commonly found in our diet. It’s the MCT in coconut oil that make it different from all other fats and for the most part gives it its unique character and healing properties. Besides increasing your energy level (they are digested rapidly), there are other very important benefits that results from boosting your metabolic rate: it helps protect you from illness and speeds healing. When metabolism is increased, cells function at a higher rate of efficiency.
Other saturated fats from animal products should be consumed minimally. (Beef, pork, lamb, poultry, milk, butter, cheese, yogurt). It’s not to say that they are bad for you, but you don’t want a whole bunch of saturated fat in the diet. Look for the leanest cuts of meat (less white marbling).
Monounsaturated fats: Olive oil, Almond oil, Avocado
Polyunsaturated fats: Soybean, Sunflower, safflower, corn, sesame, peanut, other nut and seed oils.
Omega 6 oils: Soybean, safflower, sunflower, corn oil, wheat germ oil, sesame
These are necessary in the diet, but consume in moderation. While we need these oils in our diet, we usually over consume them creating an imbalance with the omega 3 which leads to inflammation
Omega 3 oils: Flaxseed oil, pumpkin seed oil, walnut oil, Cold water fish (oil), Canola oil
Make a point to consume omega 3 sources on a daily basis to help balance out omega 6-3 ratio.
Omega-3 help with joint lubrication, shock absorption, control inflammation, boost the immune system, help with cholesterol and blood pressure management. Cold water fish provide EPA and DHA which are only 1 conversion in the body away from producing the anti-inflammatory compounds, where as flax, chi and canola, need to go through a few more conversions before they are available to the body in the same way. Cold water fish examples are: Salmon, Mackerel, Cod, sardines, tuna, halibut, and haddock.
If you want some reading material pick up a copy of Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, by Udo Erasmus
Today’s recipe is made out of almost entirely fat. Homemade Nut Butter!
Protein is our third type of macronutrient. While protein used to be the talk of the town in diets, the popularity has shifted to carb and fat shaming in popular media. Protein is incredibly important in the body. We eat food containing protein to obtain amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks that make up our proteins are responsible for:
- Our structure (contractile proteins, fibrous proteins)
- Our hormones (most of the non-steroid hormones)
- Our enzymes
- Our immune chemicals (immunoglobulins and antibodies)
- Our transport proteins
Protein is key in muscle-building, so if you’re not getting adequate protein you may find it difficult to build or maintain muscle mass, and you may feel weak or tired. Other symptoms of a low-protein diet may include:
- Hair loss, Cracking, brittle nails, Flaky, dry skin,
- Poor immunity
- Feelings of lethargy, or irritability
- Difficulty keeping warm
- Stomach discomfort
If we don’t get enough protein, our body will start to plunder it from parts that we need, such as our muscles.
Most diets should consist of 20-30% protein to make sure you are meeting your needs. Active individuals need more protein, approx. 1.2-2.2g per kg body weight.
Most people think about how much protein, but they don’t think all that much about the quality of the protein they’re eating. There are huge differences in the chemical makeup of a given protein source, and how valuable that protein is nutritionally. The higher a protein’s quality, the more easily it can give your body the amino acids it needs to grow, repair and maintain your body. A high-quality protein has a good ratio of essential amino acids, and allows our body to use them effectively. Amino acid composition is more important than digestibility.
You can have way more protein than you need, but if the protein you’re eating is low in an important amino acid (known as the limiting amino acid), it causes a bottleneck that stops everything else from working (or at least slows things down). High-quality proteins have more limiting amino acids, which means the bottleneck is lessened and our bodies can use that protein source better.
A person’s body needs a balance of all 22 types of amino acids to function correctly. The body cannot produce nine of these acids, called essential amino acids. A complete protein source refers to a type of food that contains all nine.
One of the main differences between plant and animal proteins involves their amino acid contents. Animal proteins are said to be complete as they offer all 8 of the essential amino acids. Plant based proteins are referred to as incomplete as they lack 1 or more of the essential amino acids. An exception being quinoa which is often incorrectly referred to as high protein, when it is actually a complete protein with only about 8g protein per cup.
The following are examples of plant-based foods rich in protein:
- certain fruits, such as avocados
Which is better- Plant or Animal?
Certain sources of animal protein can contain high levels of heme iron and vitamin B-12, while some plant-based foods lack these nutrients. On the other hand, plant-specific nutrients, called phytonutrients, and some antioxidants are absent from sources of animal protein. Animal products contain saturated fat and higher levels of cholesterol than sources of plant protein. A person may wish to avoid animal products for these reasons. Fibre is another important factor. Only plant-based foods contain fibre, which helps to keep the digestive system balanced. Eating more plant protein may also improve a person’s overall health. Rather than focusing on a single type of protein, it may be better to focus on eating a wide variety of foods. This can help ensure that you get a healthful balance of amino acids and other vital nutrients
All about protein powders:
2 cups oats
2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/3 Cup coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup or 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/2 mashed banana)
3/4 oat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup unsweetened unsulfered coconut flakes (optional)
1 tsp turmeric
3/4 cup crushed nuts or seeds (walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Mix 2 cups oats and 2 cups non dairy milk together and let sit for at least an hour
- In a separate bowl combine melted but not hot coconut oil, maple syrup and 4 eggs
- In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients
- Combine all bowls together and mix well.
- Pour into 8 X 8 or similar shape greased baking dish and bake for 45-50 mins