Fortitude, Nutrition, Personal Development

ConQuer Your Mind – Part 1 “What You Feed Grows”

The following video expands on the chapter one idea “What you feed grows” from my e-book How To ConQuer Your Mind To Achieve Your Goals.

The truth is that until you get your mindset right, your success in any goal will be temporary and limited at best. Watch as I share some thoughts about how you can change your behavior with a focus on mindset first.

You can get the e-book for free from the Team Quadzilla Facebook page, or directly HERE. Stay tuned for more videos to supplement the e-book content.

Fitness, Nutrition

Ask the Dietitian: What is Your Opinion of the Ketogenic Diet?

Full-fat everything you want — it sounds like a dream diet to lose weight on, right? The ketogenic diet, or keto diet for short, has risen to diet trendom. Health-wise, the ketogenic diet has also been shown to be beneficial for mental disorders, epilepsy, type 2 diabetes  and even weight loss. Even so, this diet is quite controversial.

Let’s explore this diet together, so you can make an informed decision for your personal health.

WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb and moderate protein diet. Despite recent popularity, the “classic” KD has been used for almost 100 years to treat children with epilepsy. It was later adapted into the well-known commercial weight-loss program, the Atkins diet. Different versions of this diet exist, but these two are among the most common:

  • Classic Ketogenic Diet: This diet uses a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 for fat to nonfat (Think: protein and carbohydrates) in grams.
  • Modified Atkins Diet: This diet restricts carbohydrates to 20 grams of “net” carbs daily. “Net” carbs are defined as total carbohydrates minus dietary fiber.

Take a look at the chart below to see how the KD stacks up against what experts recommend; the difference is drastic. Keep in mind that the definition for a “classic” KD may be different than what people who practice a more mainstream ketogenic lifestyle for weight loss will consume. A modified version of the KD is more flexible on the number of carbs you can have in a day, so low-carb vegetables (think: broccoli, spinach, lettuce) won’t count against you. High-fat, keto-friendly foods include those higher in saturated fat (e.g., bacon, cheese, butter) and lower in saturated fat (e.g., olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds).

*Note: A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats will likely have a macronutrient (e.g. fat, protein, carbs) profile within the “acceptable macronutrient distribution range” (AMDR).

HOW DOES THE KETOGENIC DIET PROMOTE WEIGHT LOSS?

You may wonder how eating up to 90% of your calories from fat while turning a blind eye to calories can lead to weight loss. Nobody knows exactly but researchers have a few good guesses:

  • Fuel Switching. Eating a lot of fat and severely limiting carbs pushes you into “ketosis,” a state where mostly fat is burned instead of carbs. Even the brain, an organ that preferentially uses glucose (a sugar) for fuel must adapt to using fat in the form of ketones.
  • Appetite Control. Those on the KD claim it dampens their appetite. This is because ketones may play a role in signalling satiety within the brain.
  • Metabolically Expensive. Just because you transitioned into ketosis and can burn fat more efficiently doesn’t mean your body won’t need carbs at all. To keep blood sugar within a reasonable range, the liver converts protein into glucose through a process called “gluconeogenesis.” OK, biology lesson stops here. Just know that this process demands a lot of energy and burns an additional 400–600 calories daily.

The KD may be great for short- and medium-term weight loss, but there’s no clear outlook on what it will do to your health in the long run — and this puts many experts on edge.

WHY IS THE KETOGENIC DIET SO CONTROVERSIAL?

The US News expert reviews give the KD about 2 out of 5 stars. Right off the bat, here are two major reasons why this diet sank so low:

  1. It promotes foods high in fat, even saturated fat, which is bad for heart health. A diet that puts few limits on bacon, butter and full-fat cream automatically draws backlash.
  2. It can eliminate whole food groups if followed stringently. This includes high-carbohydrate vegetables, most fruits and whole grains. This could lead to nutrient deficiencies in the long run.

READ MORE > EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DASH DIET 


ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS?

Despite the controversy, let’s balance pros and cons. Yes, the KD is solid therapy for children with epilepsy, but they’re always under careful clinical supervision to correct for any micronutrient deficiencies. The KD is showing promise as therapy for Type 2 diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, etc. but the science isn’t yet well-established. The same applies for long-term weight loss.

THE VERDICT

Hopefully I’ve given you enough food for thought. In my opinion you should still try to lose weight first by following a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But, to be frank, I’m flexible on the ketogenic lifestyle, especially if you’re pursuing this diet with the help of a qualified health professional.

Clearly, the KD is restrictive and isn’t for everyone. Be realistic about whether this diet will align with the lifestyle you want. If you have a sweet tooth or love your fruits and veggies, you will likely struggle on keto. Those who are vegetarian or vegan will also find the KD challenging.

Finally, just because the diet is a poster child for all-you-can-eat bacon doesn’t mean you have to eat this way. There are healthy fats to choose including avocado, olive oil, walnuts and fatty fish.

by Trinh Le, MPH, RD

My humble opinion on the matter is that while Keto might be a great kick-starter for your weight loss goals, I don’t see this diet as sustainable (or healthy) for the long term. I firmly believe “balance is best,” and that includes real food from all the food groups in proper portions. You don’t need to restrict food groups or count calories when you follow my favorite resource for healthy eating – 90/10 Nutrition. Start with 90/10 first. You might find like me that you can “Eat like this forever!”

Fitness, Nutrition

Essential Guide to Healthy Eating

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Healthy eating does not have to be difficult or complicated. As an advocate for healthy living, understanding food and basic nutrients is important to me. I believe that to change your body (and physical health in general), you must start with your mind first, then your food, and THEN your exercise. You can’t outwork a bad diet, and you’ll never enjoy a lifestyle of healthy eating until your mindset is right about food.

Rather than re-creating the wheel, I’ve simply gathered some resources from the MyFitnessPal Blog that does a great job of simplifying the basics of healthy eating. I like these linked articles because they explain the importance of often persecuted food groups and defends my personal opinion that eating a balanced variety of foods is better than any restrictive “diet-of-the-month” that requires you to cut all carbs or fats. Take some time to read these links and educate yourself. Consider this your crash course in healthy eating.

Essential Guide to Macros

Essential Guide to Protein

Essential Guide to Fat

Essential Guide to Carbohydrates

Want more? Check out my video presentation of a Nutrition 101 course I taught for my employer.

Fitness, Nutrition

Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping

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Want your family to eat healthier? It all starts with a healthy shopping list. If your cupboards and fridge contain mostly healthy foods, everyone in your family is likely to eat better. If the junk food is not in your house, you can’t eat it. Duh.

Surprisingly, healthier eating can lower your grocery bills, too. It’s true that ready-to-eat meals and packaged foods save time, but they can cost more and some have too much salt and fat. I was skeptical of this claim like you are, until I tried it myself. If you want real, sustainable change in your health, you’ve got to get the food part right. The good news is that it’s not that hard to do.

Follow these tips to get the most nutrition bang for your buck.

Stock Up With Staples

These pantry basics will give you the foundation you need for better family nutrition at home.

– Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables

  • Canned: Look for low-sodium vegetables and no-added-sugar fruits. We use a lot of canned green beans. Warmed up with whole wheat pasta and some lean meat for a super simple meal.IMG_0434
  • Frozen: Use what you need for a meal, then put the rest of the bag back in the freezer. We use a ton of frozen mixed veggies. I like to nuke the frozen veggies with raw broccoli. It steams the broccoli perfectly in 2 mins. Added to some pre-cooked chicken breast and whole wheat pasta or seasoned sweat potato chunks for a delicious healthy meal.
  • Dried: Check the label for and avoid added sugar, especially on fruits. I like raisins and dates. They are super sweet on their own to help satisfy my sweet tooth.

Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and non-instant oatmeal

Steel-cut oatmeal costs just pennies per ounce and is a good source of fiber. I’ve cut a lot of bread out of my diet lately, but I still go for super cheap Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats. No need to pay for the fancy stuff.

Beans, lentils, and peas

Packed with protein and other nutrients, they’re a great way to stretch your food dollar. Save! Use them in everything from soups to chili to burritos. Packaged dried beans cost less but take some planning to cook. Low-sodium canned beans are another option. Rinse canned beans to lower sodium even more.

Nuts like almonds, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts

Lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs We eat lots of chicken breast, natural deli turkey, 93% lean ground turkey or beef, and eggs. Lots of eggs. So cheap and filling when mixed with veggies in a stir fry or omelette.

Low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products

Children under age 2 should have whole milk unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Yes, you can eat cheese. Real cheese though. Velveeta is not real cheese. Read the ingredients. We like Sargento Cheese. Yogurt and cottage cheese is tricky. Read the ingredients.

Buy Healthy Snacks

How to keep your kids from going overboard on chips, cookies, and other snacks? Make it easy to find the healthy stuff. We’ve learned that kids will adjust to the food you have. Don’t assume you must have junk food snacks for the kids because that’s all they will eat. You are in charge.

Keep these healthy options on the center shelf of the fridge: (this list is on our fridge)IMG_0616

  • cut-up fruit
  • baby carrots and low-fat ranch dip
  • string cheese
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • low-fat yogurt

And these on the counter:

  • dried fruit and nut mix
  • pretzels
  • whole-grain crackers and peanut butter

3 Surefire Healthy Grocery Shopping Rules

To keep your food choices on track with your family’s health goals, follow these three basic rules as you cruise the supermarket aisles.

Don’t shop hungry. Ever notice what winds up in your cart when you shop with hunger pangs? Eat a nutritious snack beforehand so the munchies don’t take control of your shopping.

Make a healthy shopping list. Even if you know what you need, a list saves time and prevents impulse buys. Organize your list into sections according to the store’s layout. Shop for the healthy items first, picking up the treats last. We use the Kroger ClickList to automate our shopping. When you shop from home via internet, you are far less likely to add items to your cart that aren’t on the list. Saves buckets of money!

Hug the walls — most of the time. Stay focused. Avoid parts of your grocery store with the unhealthy choices. The edges of the store (the perimeter) tend to have the healthiest choices. Detour down center aisles for beans, whole-grain pastas and cereals, and canned and frozen vegetables and fruit. Skip the aisles with chips and other temptations, or get only the items on your list. When you’re grocery shopping with kids, the temptations can be especially distracting.

Let us know your healthy grocery shopping tricks to save time, money, and sanity.

SOURCES: University Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University: “Convenience costs;” “Snacks for healthy kids;” “Stretch your protein dollar;” “10 tips for saving at the grocery store;” “Ways to save money in 2010;” and “What’s a good buy?”American Dietetic Association: “Raising healthy eaters from preschool to high school” and “Save time and money at the grocery store.”The University of Maine Cooperative Extension: “Winning ways to grocery shop with young children.”WebMD Health News: “Baby Milk Recommendations Changed.”

Fitness, Nutrition

10 Easy Healthy Eating Resolutions

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Ah, the New Year. Everyone is talking about the tricks to making this your best year yet. But “have the best year yet” is a pretty lofty resolution that probably gets ditched before Groundhog Day. Am I right, or am I right? Instead, why not resolve to make small changes that add up to a great year – starting with eating healthier – cuz it seems everyone vows to eat better in January.

Here are 10 healthy-eating resolutions to help you feel and look your best, no joke. The great news is they’re all easy — so you can choose one or all 10! Regardless, I promise even one small change from this rock star list will lead to a healthier you.

1. DITCH THE PACKAGED PRODUCTS

The first (and best!) way to clean up your diet is to ditch the packaged products lurking in the pantry. That’s right, the ones that are full of all of those chemical preservatives and fillers you can’t pronounce. Read the ingredients list and not just the nutrition label. Ingredients is king when it comes to healthy eating. Cookies, crackers, canned soups, instant grain mixes and microwave meals: Pitch them all and start fresh with a clean pantry.

Ask yourself how many of those things you really need. Then, figure out the ones you can make yourself. We can help! For example, make your own nut butter or a one-hour jam with fresh produce (and no preservatives). Instead of keeping ancient jars of salad dressing, mix up your own vinaigrette.

2. FILL YOUR PANTRY WITH PRODUCE-FRIENDLY STAPLES

Now that your pantry has been cleaned of packaged products, you’ll need to restock with healthy grains, herbs, spices and ingredients that will help you transform all that fresh, seasonal produce into delicious meals! Great olive oil, lemons, whole grains, legumes and a nice loaf of whole-grain bread are good places to start!

3. DRINK MORE WATER

Healthy eating means healthy drinking too. A super simple way to keep yourself full and reduce the portions you eat is to start each meal with a large glass of water. Many of us don’t drink enough water anyway, and there are so many health benefits to being well hydrated. Substitute your daily soda with water and watch your body change! You will feel better, have more energy, and you will lose weight with this one thing.

4. BUY A RICE COOKER, SLOW COOKER OR AN INSTANT POT

If you’re still making everything on the stove top a la minute, you’re missing out on a great healthy eating hack (and therefore missing out on a nearly-no-brainer way to make healthy meals). Pick up a rice cooker, slow cooker or Instant Pot and completely revolutionize the way you cook and eat this year. The model you choose depends on how you eat; slow cookers (recipes) are the least precise of the bunch, but high-end rice cookers have functions for every grain you can imagine wanting to cook and they’ll cook it precisely while you’re out playing, working or getting in your workout. (Your rice cooker will even cook oatmeal perfectly while you’re sleeping so you wake up to a delicious breakfast!) Instant Pots are great, too, and cook entire meals in pressure-cooker style. Regardless of the model you choose, picking one of these counter top helpers sets your healthy eating on the right track.

5. EAT FOR COLOR

Having great ingredients on hand is key to making and eating healthy, delicious meals but pairing the foods together to make them nutritious and balanced is also vital. Aim to get 4–5 different colors in your bowl at each meal. It’s easier than you think, and certainly more fun. By adding colorful foods to each plate, you’ll add interesting flavors and appealing textures — and each of those ingredients brings a whole lot of nutrition to your meal. Crunchy purple cabbage, brilliant orange pumpkin, vibrant and fresh cilantro and crunchy black sesame seeds are all great examples of ingredients that might not be in your repertoire but guarantee you’ll never have one of those boring green salads again! And, if you find yourself in a pinch, you can always add a colorful smoothie to your lunchbox or breakfast spread.

6. BYOL (BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH)

Bringing your own lunch is another super-simple way to guarantee a great, healthy meal in the middle of the day. It’s a money saver, too. Practice the eat-for-color rule above, and prepare yourself a little mini-picnic with great leftovers from last night’s dinner. It doesn’t take much more than a bit of forethought to produce a great packed lunch. By bringing your own meal, prepared in your own kitchen, you’re doing something good for your body and your wallet.

7. BATCH COOK FOR THE WEEK

This year, make a vow to have leftovers. Really! And, promise yourself that every week you’ll spend a little time preparing them — all at once. By picking a day each week to batch cook for the week ahead, you’re setting yourself up for a week of healthy meals. Select a protein, grain and several colorful vegetables to prep and have on hand so meals come together in a snap. This makes colorful eating and lunch packing a breeze, and means you’re never feeling left in a lurch when it comes to dinner.

8. MAKE BREAKFAST AHEAD

When life gets crazy, breakfast is the easiest meal to miss. But, we all know it’s also the most important meal to eat. Eating a balanced breakfast helps keep your metabolism running and is vital to loading up your system with healthy nutrients you’ll use throughout the day to work, play or exercise. Without them, your body and brain get sluggish and you lose motivation and focus. By making breakfast ahead in Mason jars to take with you as you rush out the door in the morning, you’re making sure you never head into a nutrient deficit, and instead head into the day feeling ready to face it! I love having my daily dose of dense nutrition for breakfast every morning. It’s technically made ahead, takes only 2 minutes to mix, and keeps me full until lunch.

9. MAKE SALAD FOR DINNER

Even if you batch-cook and fill your pantry and refrigerator with beautiful, healthy ingredients, there will be nights when you realize you just really didn’t think about dinner. For nights like that, keep a bunch of kale or spinach on hand and make it your salad for dinner night. Even just once a week, you’ll find that this lighter, fresh, healthy, balanced meal is a nice way to re-balance yourself. Alternatively, you can have breakfast for dinner to mix it up.

10. SWAP YOUR SWEETENERS

No healthy eating strategy should be without healthy treats, so vow to swap out refined sugars for healthier options at every meal. Think about the source of the sugar and consider using maple syrup or honey instead of refined sugar. And, when you’re reaching for dessert, try having fresh fruits and antioxidant-rich dark chocolates instead of their super-sweetened counterparts.

Special thanks to Lentine Alexis for doing the heavy lifting on this article and for my friends at 90/10 Nutrition for helpful links that make this article a great resource.