Oh my goodness – nutrition and diet information is everywhere!
And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.
Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important, if not more so. Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.
When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we?
You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of nutrient-dense and minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
- A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
- Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. You don’t need to overdo it here. Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats at every meal.
How you eat and drink
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don’t forget about drinking your food.
Smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness. Beware of concentrated fruit juices which will spike your blood sugar and cause a subsequent “crash” of energy.
A properly made smoothie is a great as a meal replacement as it should contain protein, fiber and healthy fats which will help keep your blood sugar stable and fuel your metabolism. Just don’t gulp it down too fast.
Here is a recipe for one of my favorite smoothies – I have some variation of this most mornings for breakfast.
Recipe (Smoothie meal): Berry Green Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1-2 tablespoons ground flax seed or chia seeds
1 cup berries of your choice (I fresh freeze mine for a thicker smoothie)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup spinach (I use fresh frozen)
stevia or raw honey to taste
1 scoop of a “clean” protein powder or collagen
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for making substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference. A lot of people like the creaminess that comes from adding some frozen banana or ½ an avocado.
Bonus: Chia and flax seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.