Tag Archives: whole foods

Tips For Boosting Your Metabolism

What exactly does “metabolism” mean? We hear it talked about enough, but do we really know what it is or what it needs to stay vibrant and healthy? I’d venture to guess that most of us have no clue. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! 🙂

Metabolism: the chemical processes by which a plant or an animal uses food, water, etc., to grow, heal and make energy. Hmmmm… sounds important. A properly functioning metabolism ultimately means the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy body. How can we get our metabolism to function optimally? Implementing the following tips into your daily diet would be a great start!

Metabolism Boosting Tips:

  • Eat whole foods and lots of veggies- the more you’re able to eat unprocessed foods that come from the earth and animals, not labs and factories, the more your metabolism will like you.
  • Eat and drink the right foods-
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus
    • Lemon and lemon water
    • Celery
    • Apple cider vinegar
    • Green tea
    • Garlic
    • Berries
    • Grapefruit
    • Apples
  • Exercise to get your metabolism up and running (literally!)
  • Plan ahead- Try to stick to a somewhat set eating schedule. This will allow your body to be more aware of when it’s actually hungry. It also helps maintain hormonal balance. This is essential for weight loss, as an imbalance in certain hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin, will cause “false hunger”.
  • Aim for 3 small meals and at least 1-2 small snacks throughout the day. When we go too long without eating, our metabolism slows down in an attempt to conserve resources aka FAT. Our body doesn’t want to give it up easily, unfortunately. From an evolutionary perspective, this was advantageous because sometimes we would have to go long periods of time between meals. When you’re hunting and gathering, obtaining food on a consistent basis isn’t exactly a sure bet. So, the metabolism slows, as does weight loss. FEED your metabolism, don’t starve it! In small quantities throughout the day, of course.
  • Don’t cut calories to under 1200 per day. As I just stated, we need to eat in order for our metabolism to function. If you’re consistently feeding yourself too little, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. And you’re hungry, which probably pisses you off. Learn to listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs and in what quantity. As a result of all the crap we eat on a daily basis- with all the additives, fake ingredients, and inflammatory oils, many of us are highly imbalanced hormonally and don’t get the signal to stop eating. Luckily, with time and effort, this can be fixed!
  • Incorporate heat-generating spices into your daily meals. Cayenne, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon are all excellent choices.
  • Drink your water! You’re probably not drinking as much as you think. Measure out your water each morning for a week to determine exactly how much you should be consuming. You should be drinking roughly 60-70 oz./day. I recommend filling up a water bottle with measurements for ease. After awhile, it will become second nature to drink that amount.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. I know, I know. You’ve heard this one a million times, but it really is true! It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, and in fact shouldn’t be, but simply something to get your metabolism running for the day. Also, what we eat first in the day sets the stage for the rest of the day. So don’t go for the donuts at work; that cup of yogurt with berries would be a much better bet.
  • Get adequate sleep. Another one you’ve probably heard a million times and scoffed at, but again, it really is true! Some people say they can live off, and even thrive, on less than 6 hours/night. This is what I say to that: you’re either lying or you’re kidding yourself. Study after study has shown that quality sleep positively affects our hormonal signaling, leading to less feelings of false hunger. If you have chronic sleeping problems, it would greatly behoove you to figure out why.
  • While I strongly believe in starting with diet when engaging in self-improvement measures, targeted supplements can be a helpful metabolism-boosting tool for some people. Here are some great examples:
    • Vitamin B6- helps with water retention, reduces sugar cravings, and helps supply fuel to cells, which then burn calories more efficiently.
    • Chromium- stabilizes blood sugar and reduces carbohydrate cravings.
    • CoQ10- generates cellular energy and increases body’s ability to transform food into energy.
    • Turmeric- excites the production of bile juice which breaks down fatty foods.
    • Vitamin D- studies have shown a strong correlation between obesity and low vitamin D levels.
  • If you’ve tried all of the above for more than a few months and your weight is hanging tough and you feel sluggish as ever, then you should consider getting your thyroid checked.

The sum total of your efforts will certainly be rewarded. However, like most things in life, it’s not going to happen overnight. Way too many people expect to feel magically healthier, more energized, and automatically slimmer simply from eating a salad. Once. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, or reality, but it simply doesn’t work like that. You have to make your health a top priority, be consistent in your behaviors, and put in the effort! It will pay off though, of that I’m certain. 🙂

Don’t Diet… Eat for Health!

Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, L.A. Weight Loss…. What do these companies have in common? Well, besides the fact that they force you to buy low-quality food with loads of artificial ingredients… You may lose weight on them, but will likely regain that lost weight as soon as you start eating normally again, which will lead to greater overall weight gain in the long term. I don’t know about you, but paying to gain weight doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.

BUT GREAT NEWS! There is a simple solution… eating for health! This means that you focus on eating the most nutrient-dense foods available, as much as possible. By doing so, you’re giving your body the fuel it needs to burn that fat off. Enough with the starvation diets- We need to feed our metabolisms in order for weight to come off.

If you give the body what it needs, you’ll see the scale drop. It may not happen overnight, but it WILL happen.

Also, by focusing on optimal health instead of weight loss as the main objective, you’re ridding yourself of the guilt you get after eating anything that’s not “diet friendly.”

I’m a perfect example of this concept- While I have never been overweight, I have ALWAYS wanted to lose 5-10 (or more!) pounds. I tried everything: vegetarianism, calorie-counting, excessive exercise (followed by excessive binges on junk food), etc. The minute I stopped caring about my stomach roll, it went away! I believe it’s because I used to be more concerned about my appearance than my health. When optimal health and disease prevention became my focus, the pounds slowly fell to the wayside, never to return.

What do I eat on a daily basis to maintain my weight loss? Whole foods. It’s really that simple. Oh, and lots of fat. Interesting observation- When I started eating meat again and began buying exclusively full-fat, whole milk products, I lost 7 pounds in roughly 2 months. That’s quite a lot for someone that’s short and already pretty slim. Because I was a veggie, I ate way too many starches and carbs and not nearly enough fat and protein. My macronutrient ratios were all out of whack. By balancing these important ratios, I was able to not only lose weight, but get rid of various health problems as well. I used to have mood issues, low energy levels, joint pain and inflammation, and horrendous allergies. I no longer have any of these issues. Well, except these damn allergies! The point is I stopped focusing on calories and started focusing on nutrients. And it worked tremendously.

We, as a society, need to stop punishing ourselves for any alleged deviation from “a healthy diet”. Times are a changin’ and our definition of what constitutes health food has dramatically evolved over the years. Gone are the days of margarine, 6-11 servings per day of bread and grains (thank you Food Pyramid for steering people in the wrong direction for decades), and low-fat everything. Today we know that fats are good for us, red meat is not the devil, and too much bread makes us feel like crap. Let’s get back to the basics people! Traditional foods are the way to go.

By consistently eating fresh, unprocessed, whole foods, weight loss WILL happen. And it’s not as hard or time-consuming as you might think! It simply takes advanced planning and commitment. It is TOTALLY worth it, trust me 🙂

Whole Foods Grocery List

whole foods 1

Want to achieve optimal health and vitality? Then buy these foods and ONLY these foods. Packaged, processed foods are largely devoid of nutrients, contain ingredients we can’t pronounce and the body doesn’t recognize (because it’s man-made food!), and can alter our brain chemistry so we ravenously crave them. GET OUT OF THE BOX!! Your health depends on it.

Vegetables4-7 servings per day

Brassica family

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnip
  • Watercress

Carotene Family

  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Corn
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter squash- acorn, butternut, spaghetti
  • Radicchio
  • Red pepper
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes

Allium Family

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Scallions

Other

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms, especially maitake and shiitake
  • Jicama
  • Okra
  • Parsnip
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash- yellow and zucchini

Fruits- 2-3 servings per day

Flavonoid Family

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Figs
  • Purple grapes
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Carotene Family

  • Apricot
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon

Citrus Family

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tangerines

Other

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Pineapple

Beverages

  • Filtered water
  • Chai tea
  • Green tea
  • Herbal teas- ginger, chamomile, liver detox, slippery elm, rooibos
  • Vegetable juices
  • Coconut water
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk

Whole Grains- 1-4 servings per day

  • Whole grain breads
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa

Nuts & Seeds1-2 servings per day

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

Legumes– 1-2 servings per day

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas, hummus
  • Edamame
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Tempeh
  • Miso soup

Cold-Water Fish– 3-5 servings per week

  • Salmon- wild
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Tuna- eat sparingly due to high mercury content and unsustainable fishing practices
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Trout

 Animal Foods2-4 servings per week

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Turkey

Dairy– 1-2 servings per day, if tolerated

  • Butter
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Cheese- feta, goat, asiago, parmesan, romano, mozzarella
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt

Herbs & SpicesUse liberally

Fresh Herbs & Spices

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Ginger root
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon

Dry Herbs & Spices

  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

Miscellaneous

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Maca powder
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Sea veggies- hijiki, nori, wakame, dulse
  • Olive oil
  • Salsa
  • Sea salt
  • Stevia
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup- grade B
  • Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • Vanilla extract

Notes

  • Eat organic, fresh, seasonal produce as much as possible. Farmer’s markets are a convenient and cheap way to accomplish this.
  • Eat organic animal products and pastured/grass-fed, if possible. Full-fat dairy is preferable as well.
  • Wild-caught fish are usually preferable to farmed.
  • It’s all about quality over quantity. It’s going to be more expensive to buy organic, but well worth the additional costs.
  • Check the ingredients labels on all packaged goods- don’t buy anything with names you can’t pronounce.
  • Diversity of foods is key. Buy different fruits and vegetables each week for a varied nutritional profile.
  • Shopping primarily at Whole Foods and farmer’s markets will help make the above suggestions easier.

Macronutrient Superstar: Protein

The building blocks of our muscles, skin, tendons, bones, hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters- protein is an essential nutrient for the body. We hear lots of paradoxical reports concerning how much protein we should be eating… Some people would advise unlimited amounts, while others think we, as a society, eat way too much. This is why you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet- it’s just too damn confusing and conflicting!

The answer is this: there is no “right” amount of protein. It depends entirely on each individual and their specific constitution and biological make-up. While height and weight certainly play a part, they are certainly not the ONLY parts. Current health and immune status, genetics, activity level, and life stage all fit into the equation as well. Eat what works for YOUR body.

Major Roles of Protein

  • Used to build, maintain, and repair cells, enzymes, immune system, and hormones
  • Helps maintain volume and composition of bodily fluids
  • Transports nutrients to various parts of the body
  • Can be used for energy is necessary
  • Responsible for pigment of eyes
  • Provides the raw materials for collagen and elastin, which literally hold us together and are a primary component in our skin
  • Immune system and nervous system require protein to make their messengers

Healthy Sources of Protein

  • Eggs
  • Meats and poultry
  • Fish
  • Tempeh
  • Cheese- cottage, cheddar, feta, etc.
  • Whole milk yogurt (plain)
  • Whole milk
  • Spirulina
  • Nuts and seeds- almonds, chia and flax seeds, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, pistachios, pecans, etc.
  • Protein powder
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Peanut and almond butter

Ways to Increase Intake

  • Eat meat or fish (almost) daily. More specifically, aim for a 3 oz. portion 6x/week, with a 1 day break. Think meatless Mondays! It gives your body a break- proteins are the hardest of the macronutrients to digest- AND gives the environment a break- animal food production is notoriously energy exertive and greenhouse gas emitting.
  • Consciously try to eat a protein-packed food at EVERY meal.
  • Add nuts and seeds into your daily diet.
  • Make sure you always make or order salads with your choice of lean protein, i.e., fish, steak, chicken, or tempeh. Quinoa is a great addition as well.
  • Put a scoop of protein powder into your smoothie or yogurt each morning. You could also make a protein “shake”- simply put a scoop of the powder (chocolate would be preferable) and 1-2 Tbsp. of almond butter into a glass of almond or whole milk and stir. It’s really that simple. And tasty!
  • While any type of full-fat plain yogurt will do, Greek yogurt is great because it typically has double the protein. Add cinnamon, protein powder, walnuts, and chia seeds for a delicious, healthy, and filling breakfast.
  • Eat eggs for breakfast (or dinner!). Eggs are one of the world’s most nutrient dense foods, so feel free to eat 1-2 daily. Don’t worry about the cholesterol content- studies have shown that there is no clinically significant relationship between dietary cholesterol consumption and heart disease.