What is the number one cause of obesity?
The combination of a diet high in saturated fats, excessive carbohydrates and sugar intake combined with lower caloric expenditure is the “perfect storm” for creating overweight and obesity. Processed foods are readily available and contain not only those ingredients, but preservatives and additives that are counter productive to a healthy diet.
What is a low glycemic diet?
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking system that tells you how much a particular carbohydrate food item will affect your insulin level. Carbohydrates that break down rapidly have the highest GI, while slowly digested carbohydrates have the lowest GI. The Glycemic Index is defined as the rate of glucose absorption relative to pure sugar. A low glycemic diet has been proven to be effective in regulating blood sugar, losing weight, and managing diabetes. A low glycemic diet will not harm your health like many of today’s fad diets, but rather will actually reduce your risk from heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon and prostate cancer.
A low glycemic diet, high in fiber is a healthy alternative that balances unrefined complex carbohydrates (low GI foods) with lean protein and healthy fats to help stabilize blood sugars, increase energy, lose weight, and feel fuller longer.
The old Food Pyramid is out, the Food Plate is in.
The food pyramid has been dismantled in favor of a simple plate icon that urges Americans to eat a more plant-based diet. One half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables with whole grains and lean protein on the other half, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Low-fat dairy on the side, such as a cup of skim milk or yogurt, is also suggested. Daily drinks should be replaced with water, sugar fee teas-such as green tea. These rules should be applied to all 3 main meals of the day.
Why do we need Nutraceutical Supplements?
Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and other agents such as anti-oxidants) are essential for life but in lesser quantities than macronutrients. Vitamins and minerals act as coenzymes, which are at the heart of every bodily and neural function. Numerous enzyme processes are dependent on micronutrients. Many nutrients act as antioxidants, controlling the free-radical activity that wears our bodies down. Moreover, gene expression, both protective and harmful, is impacted by micronutrients. Recent studies sow that vitamins and minerals also help control chronic inflammation, now believed to be at the root of aging, degeneration, and dozens of diseases.
The bulk of your micronutrients should come from the food you eat. If you are eating an optimum, nutritionally balanced diet you will be getting most of the essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you require for optimal health. It is possible, however, that you may not be ingesting sufficient quantities. To acquire micronutrients in quantities sufficient to prevent aging-related diseases and dysfunction it is likely that you will need a supplement source in addition to your food.
In addition to the fact that many Americans do not consume adequate amounts of many micronutrients and that micronutrient absorption is adversely affected by numerous common medications, there are, in fact, several additional reasons to consider supplementation even when consuming a healthful diet and not taking medications.
Many of today’s foods are not as rich as they once were in vitamins and minerals by the time you consume them. Soils are depleted in many areas due to some farming methods. In many areas, too, soils are damaged from exposure to toxins, herbicides, and fertilizers. The heavy use of pesticides and herbicides adds risks from ingesting toxins. Selective breeding for water and pith (fibrous parts of fruits and vegetables) has created produce that ships well and weighs a lot. The downside is less vitamin content. Many of the newer hybrids are as much as 50% lower in nutrients. Many foods are harvested before the food has ripened fully, to avoid spoilage before arriving at the market. Green fruit doesn’t have a chance to sun-ripen; it is artificially ripened with ethylene. Harvesting produce before it is fully ripe robs us of the full potential nutritional value. The traditional Mediterranean nutritional lifestyle involves purchasing produce at the market daily, when it is at its peak, maximizing the nutrient content.
Top 10 diet tips!
- Eat smaller portions, more often. Five small meals throughout the day will help increase your metabolism.
- Drink water, preferably iced or un-sweetened green tea instead of sugary drinks or diet drinks to boost metabolism, and improve hydration, digestion and satiety. Do not drink soda…EVER!
- Make your grains, whole grains, and start to educate yourself on other alternatives such as quinoa. Quinoa may have the same caloric content as whole grains, but it is a complete protein and will keep you fuller, longer.
- Change your dairy to low fat or non-fat and switch your yogurt to non-fat Greek yogurt. It has high protein content, and is very versatile.
- You have to move. Your body is a calorie-burning furnace. There is no big mystery to loosing weight. What you put into your mouth, you must find a way to burn off. Irrelevant of your fitness abilities, you must move around for at least 30 minutes a day. Try to break a sweat everyday, find something that you enjoy doing that is physical.
- Do not diet. Change your eating in a way so you are not depriving yourself. The moment you feel hunger, your body goes into starvation mode and stores fat. If you have a comfort food or dessert that you cannot live without, find a way to re-create it in a healthier way. This will prevent you from taking “cheat days” and making food this forbidden fruit that is fun to abuse.
- If you enjoy alcoholic beverages, stay away from the mixed cocktail or those drinks containing soda. Plain, sparkling soda is great though, and mixes well with most spirits, with a wedge of lemon or lime. Dry, red wine is also a preferred alternative. Drink one glass of water per alcoholic beverage.
- Mindful eating. Become more in tune with your body and when you really need to eat. Take a moment and ask yourself if you are really hungry, or if you are eating for another reason. Stay clear of eating your meals in front of the computer or T.V, if you enjoy your meal at the table, you are aware of every bite, instead of robotically consuming your food. Watch your portion size and know when to put down your fork. You don’t have to clean your plate. Make good snack choices at night, stay away from snacks heavy in carbohydrates. Apple with peanut butter is one of my favorite late night snacks.
- Even balanced with a protein or a good fat, high glycemic carbohydrates are best consumed after exercise. Adrenaline, which is released during exercise, remains active for approximately one-hour post-exercise and suppresses insulin. This creates a one-hour time frame when carbohydrates can be readily absorbed to replenish muscle glycogen without increasing insulin.
- Snacks are important to maintain your metabolism and not go into starvation mode. Familiarize yourself with healthy snack choices and portions. Nuts are a great snack, but you should eat no more than a closed fist amount of nuts, not a whole bag. Protein bars and shakes are excellent, especially post or pre workout, but beware that a lot of these store bought bars are full of sugar, chocolate coated and highly processed. Store bought granola has one of the highest sugar contents of most cereal. In the recipe portion of this website, I will provide you with healthier, lower glycemic-high protein homemade option. If you must buy store-bought, pay attention to the labels and look for organic or raw options.
Foods to Always Avoid?
- Processed Foods: Processed, packaged foods have almost completely taken over the diet of Americans. Unfortunately, most processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives. But the trouble is not just what’s been added, but what’s been taken away. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients designed by nature to protect your heart, such as soluble fiber, antioxidants, and “good” fats. It can be overwhelming at first to sort out what is a processed food, because most people think of it as a greasy burger and fries from a fast food joint. Most of it is lurking in your own pantry; here are some items to purge from your kitchen:
- Canned foods with large amounts of sodium or fat
- Breads and pastas made with refined white flour instead of whole grains
- Packaged high-calorie snack foods such as chips and candies
- Frozen fish sticks and frozen dinners that are high in sodium
- Packaged cakes, cookies and crackers
- Boxed meal mixes that are high in fat and sodium
- Sugary breakfast cereals
- TRANS FATS: Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils.” Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages. Trans fats are in moist bakery muffins and crispy crackers, microwave popcorn and fast-food French fries, even the stick margarine you may rely on as a “heart-healthy” alternative to saturated-fat-laden butter.Once hailed as a cheap, heart-friendly replacement for butter, lard and coconut oil, trans fats have been denounced by one Harvard nutrition expert as “the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history.” Why? Research now reveals trans fats are twice as dangerous for your heart as saturated fat, and cause an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 premature heart disease deaths each year.Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol. That’s double trouble for your arteries. And unlike saturated fats, trans fats also raise your levels of artery-clogging lipoprotein and triglycerides.
Check the ingredient list for any of these words: “partially hydrogenated,” “fractionated,” or “hydrogenated” (fully hydrogenated fats are not a heart threat, but some trans fats are mislabeled as “hydrogenated”). The higher up the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil” is on the list of ingredients, the more trans fat the product contains.
- Soda: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that drinking a soft drink every day is not all that good for your health. I’m not saying that an occasional soft drink is going to kill you or even make you overweight, but having one or more every day sure doesn’t seem like the path to living life to the fullest. I’m not talking about soda water, or sparkling water. Come on, something that is artificially colored, and full of sugar, and god knows what un-pronounceable chemicals is not going to be good for you. For those of you that are not aware, here are some fun facts:
- One 12 ounce can of sugary soda has about 150 calories
- One can a day times 30 days (one month) = 4,500 calories
- One pound of fat = 3,500 calories
- One can a day for 12 months (one year) = 54,000 calories or 15.4 pounds of fat!
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the calorie information above and how it contributes to obesity. Also, think about this, what happens to these calculations if you drink one of those 44-ounce soft drinks from the convenience store per day?
Let’s move on to the sugar facts:
- 4 grams = 1 teaspoon
- One can of soda contains the equivalent of about 40 grams of sugar
One can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar
What are the best Alternative Sweeteners?
Naturally occurring sugars can be found in whole foods starches like whole grains and beans. These complex carbohydrates offer the body balanced energy. Sweeteners, naturally or chemically processed, are not considered whole foods and, therefore, should be eaten in moderation. Although any excess of a sweetener is unhealthful, some sweeteners are better for your health than others. The following information chart lists some of my favorite natural sweeteners that you will find in either the bulk bins or in the baking section of most grocery stores. You can experiment with them by substituting them into your favorite recipes.
AGAVE NECTAR: Derived from the Blue Agave plant (an Aloe Vera relative); 28% sweeter than sugar, similar to honey’s sweetness; rich in fructose (almost 90%)
BROWN RICE SYRUP: Mild, subtle flavor; made with cooked brown rice and sprouted barley; high in complex carbohydrates so it has a gentle effect on blood sugar levels.
CANE SUGAR UNBLEACHED: From the sugar cane plant; but not chemically bleached like white sugar.
CRYSTALLINE FRUCTOSE: Refined simple sugar, chemically processed from sugar or beets; no nutrients but releases glucose into the bloodstream somewhat more slowly than white sugar.
HONEY: Refined by bees, honey is 20–60% sweeter than white sugar; darker honey has more minerals; select raw honey.
Grade B MAPLE SYRUP: Concentrated from maple sap by cooking; rich, woodsy taste with small amount of trace minerals; choose pure, organically grown brands; high in simple sugar sucrose, so it gets absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly.
MOLASSES (unsulphured): Highly processed simple sugar (35–70% sucrose); by-product of sugar refining; high in minerals (especially Blackstrap).
STEVIA EXTRACT: Non-caloric herbal sweetener made from the stevia leaf; because it doesn’t affect blood glucose levels, research indicates that stevia may be used by both diabetics and hypoglycemics; slight molasses and licorice flavors; tends to have a slightly bitter aftertaste.