Nutrition Principle #1 to Losing Weight and Looking & Feeling your Best

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Nutrition Habit #1: Consume a balanced diet that is rich in Fiber

Carbohydrates (CHO):
are fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads, pastas and rice. Carbohydrates in your diet will be sent to your liver and either burned for energy or stored as fat (70% conversion ratio). Did you know the only energy your brain can use is carbohydrates? That’s why low-carb diets never work for the long-term. You wind up being tired, irritable and have a hard time focusing.

You will want to ensure your diet is 50-60% carbohydrate content – approximately 50% of your total calories should be in the form of fruits and vegetables and complex carbohydrates which are your whole grain products and no more than 10% from simple carbohydrates (cakes, cookies, ice cream etc.) Be sure to avoid white (enriched, refined, bleached) breads, pastas and rice. Avoid foods where sugars like High Fructose Corn Syrup are listed as one of the first few ingredients.

And you’re also going to want to limit your intake of no-fat or low-fat products. You are probably thinking “What? Limit no-fat foods? But aren’t they the answer to all my fat-loss prayers?” It is interesting to note that since the explosion of no-fat products onto the market, our population continues to get fatter and fatter! You would think we would start to get skinnier as we consumed more of these no-fat products! But what do you think makes those no-fat products taste so good? Sugar –and lots of it! And what do you think sugar is made of? A lot of calories! Excess calories, whether they come from no-fat cookies or full-fat cookies, are still going to show up on our hips and thighs and abs.

Protein: Protein gets broken down into small amino acids which go to the liver to be used for growth, repair, and maintenance of muscles and tissues. If not used, it will be converted to glucose and then fat (70% conversion ratio)

Balance your diet with 15-20% protein. You can go to our website at to determine your individual protein needs. Click on Client Zone. Then click on Cool Tools.

Good Sources of Protein:
*Salmon, along with most other fishes and sea foods.
*Poultry (w/out skin and white meat is leaner)
*Beef (Lean cuts)
*Pork (white cuts)
*Soy Products
*Egg Whites
*Whey Products

Fat: Fats get broken down into smaller fatty acids and are used for cell functioning, insulation (protection and warmth) and energy. If not used, it becomes an amazing source of stored energy
The average person carrying 30 pounds of body-fat is carrying 105,000 calories of stored energy – that’s enough energy to complete 40 marathons back to back!

Your diet should be 20-30% fat content. Note: A no-fat diet is unrealistic and unhealthy.

Reducing Fat: While reading labels, look at the order of ingredients. If fat is listed as one of the first, second or third ingredients, the product is likely to be high in fat and is best to be limited or avoided. Items like lard, animal shortening, oils, butterfat, whole milk solids, shortening, and margarine are all fats.

Some obvious foods that you are going to want to avoid are as follows:
*Fried foods – fried foods are saturated in fat and oil and calories!
*Creams – very high in fat content
*Processed foods – like cakes and cookies, etc.

While a reduction in fat is usually a good thing for most people, there is a point of diminishing returns and health risks. Just so you know, fat is the best fuel ever designed! We can make fat out of almost anything we eat and use it for energy. Can you imagine if your car could do that? Put in potatoes and the engine miraculously converts them into gas. In goes apples and instantly we get gasoline. Fat is an amazing fuel that provides us with a limitless amount of energy. Instead of hating fat and blaming it for all our problems, we should be astounded and respect it for its outstanding capabilities. Certain fatty acids are also necessary for good health, and “fat soluble” vitamins require fat for absorption into the system.

It is true that most people do not have to worry about getting too little fat in their diet, but there is another reason to be less obsessed about reducing fat to super-low levels; fat contributes to feelings of satiety (fullness) and helps reduce food cravings. Many people who cut a lot of fat out of their diets, often eat far too much of other ”non-fat” foods that are high in calories. So the key is to just make sure that your total fat intake is within the accepted guidelines of 20-30% of total daily calories. No more than 10 percent of this should come from saturated fats. The average fat content of most diets is greater than 43 percent – this of course, is one of the reasons our society is getting fatter! When deciding to reduce your fat intake, remember that there are fats in your diet that are obvious – these are the ones you can see – foods such as butter, margarine, cooking oils, spreads, and fat on meat. And there are also fats that are hidden in processed foods such as cakes, cookies, ice cream and potato chips. It will be important to limit your intake from both these fat sources.

Unsaturated fats, especially the monounsaturated ones, are considered healthier and are found in nuts, seeds, olives, and vegetable oils. However, we’ve discovered many people consuming very high amounts of nuts because they’ve heard or read nuts are healthy. A healthy amount of nuts is a HANDFUL. More than this and you are consuming a huge amount of calories. They call it “Trail-Mix” for a reason! You should be on a HIKING TRAIL expending a huge amount of calories to need the energy from the trail-mix. It’s not called “Office-Desk Mix” or “Sitting watching football Mix”!

Increasing your Omega 3 & 6 Fats found in fish, walnuts, olives, avocados, flaxseed is also a healthy habit. You can obtain healthy levels by eating a 4 ounce serving of fish three times per week or 2-gram fish oil every day or an ounce of walnuts a day.

Saturated fats are found in animal products such as beef, butter, dairy products and lard. You have probably also heard of trans fatty acids. These are the end products of a process called hydrogenation, in which vegetable oils are hardened. You should avoid consumption of this type of fat. Butter is a saturated fat and margarine contains trans fatty acids, both of which can increase the risk for heart disease.

As you begin to reduce the amount of fat and increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products in your diet, your fiber intake will automatically increase. Fiber is so important in our diets because it keeps us full longer therefore, helping to suppress our appetites. But as you initially start to adopt many of these healthy habits, you may notice that you start to experience a lot more intestinal gas. To reduce the initial negative effects of a high fiber diet, change your diet gradually, and soon your body will adapt to your new, healthier diet. You may also want to consider taking a product that will help you manage these side-effects such as Beano. You’ll get the recommended 20-35 grams of fiber each day by consuming a minimum of 2 servings of fruit, 3 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of whole grains.

Sample Meals when you’re Busy:

You’ve got to get the kids ready for school…laundry started….dishwasher emptied. You’ve got emails to answer…Appointments and meetings to make…Projects to complete…Your daughter needs to be dropped off at soccer practice; your son at basketball. Many people report that life is so busy that it’s difficult to stick to a healthy eating plan and instead, they find themselves resorting to fast-food way too often. But eating well is what’s going to provide you the energy and the mental stamina to perform at your best. Here are some quick solutions to eating healthy:

Try these balanced, quick breakfast options: You have got to eat breakfast no matter how busy you are. Think of it as filling up on an empty tank. Imagine how much better your engine will rev when it’s got what it needs.

*low fat yogurt and some mixed raisins, granola and dried fruit
*cold or hot cereal with milk and fruit
*toast and fruit
*peanut butter and banana sandwich
*bagel with cream cheese and a piece of fruit
*homemade muffin and a banana
*fruit smoothie made from milk, yogurt and fruit

Here are some easy, lunch ideas to go:

*raw veggies with a container of plain yogurt for dipping
*sandwiches (tuna in pita bread or thick whole wheat bread, vegetables & cheese on a bagel, turkey & vegetables in pita bread, ricotta cheese & jam on your favorite bread, hummus & tomato on a baguette, cottage cheese & pineapple on a kaiser bun)
*pita pizzas with vegetables and tomato sauce
*low fat crackers and cheese
*left-overs from dinner
*soup or chili made on the weekend
*baked potato
*pasta salad made on the weekend

Here are some healthy mid-morning and a mid-afternoon, low-fat, high-energy snack ideas.

*low-fat yogurt and fruit
*raw vegetables and yogurt dip
*fruit and yogurt dip
*Powerbar or Harvest crunch bar
*Rice Cakes
*glass of juice or milk
*hard boiled egg
*low-fat crackers and cheese
*a couple fig bars

Wind down in the evening with one of these dinner options:

*Whole grain Pasta with Marinara Sauce
*Salmon, Tuna or other fish option with vegetables and brown rice
*Vegetable stir fry with chicken, beef or fish
*Homemade Pizza
*Hearty salad with chicken, nuts and crunched tortilla chips

It’s difficult to achieve great things and be great, when you don’t feel great. So make the commitment to paying better attention to your nutrition, and enjoy the positive consequences to all areas of your life.

Free Days:

And when we say balanced – we really means balanced. A balanced diet will help you maintain a healthy body composition and weight and provide you with the nutrients for optimal health and functioning. All foods can be eaten in a healthy diet – you just need to have some boundaries and parameters. A successful nutrition plan will focus on what you need to be consuming every day rather than what you should not be eating. For example, set a goal of eating 3 fruits for the day instead of deciding to not eat any chocolate. In addition, allow yourself one or two “free” days every week. For example, if you love pizza, and chocolate, then one day a week allow yourself to indulge in these items. This will eliminate the feeling of being deprived of your favorite foods and you will be less likely to experience the inevitable binge that goes hand-in-hand with total elimination of your favorites. This type of plan is feasible for most people. You are not telling yourself you are never going to eat chocolate again, but instead, just limiting how much and when you will indulge. Just make sure you don’t go crazy on your free days. It’s not a free ticket to gorge! And try to avoid making deals with yourself regarding your free days. If Saturday is your free day, make sure you stick to Saturday. For example, avoid indulging on Thursday because there’s an office party and then promising that on Saturday, you will skip your free day. Often you end up of taking more free days than you agreed to and all of a sudden every day turns into a ‘free’ day.

I suggest (and follow) the 80:20 rule for nutrition, which states that if you are eating well 80 percent of the time, you can allow yourself to indulge the other 20 percent. Eating well 80 percent of the time will definitely keep you healthy and will be a much more enjoyable process. This type of belief system is long-term focused. It is important that you decide to only do things that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. The only way to do this is to achieve your goals while upsetting your life as little as possible. Look at it this way – even our Northwest Personal Training Personal Trainers indulge so don’t try to be ‘perfect’. That will just set you up for disappointment!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

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