Veggie Wraps: Easy Quick and Simple Lunch
The collard greens make great wraps, warm or cold.
Sprouted Mung beans, cooked according to package.
Quinoa, cooked according to package
2 tbsp olive oil.
Collard leaf greens
Generally quinoa needs twice the amount of water to cook. You bring it to a boil without the lid, then turn it down to a simmer, add the olive oil, cover the pot and give it 15 min or so.
Quinoa is high in protein and, for most, very easy to digest. Gluten free quinoa grown in Canada is available at Costco and most local grocery stores.
Cooking Mung Beans:
Sprouted mung beans should be rinsed in a sieve with water, placed in the pot and then covered with three times the amount of water than beans. Bring them to a boil with out the lid, then turn down and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse again.
Mung beans are a cooler neutral food with a sweet flavour. Mung beans detoxify, improve digestion and alleviate inflammation in the body. They are also useful in the treatment of edema (swelling) of the lower extremities, high blood pressure, impatience and restlessness. I found sprouted mung beans by the Sasha Bread Co. at Longo’s in Guelph, and they are commonly available at most local grocery stores.
The quinoa and mung beans may be mixed, then placed into small jars like the one pictured above. these can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month. Easy to grab and go for lunch.
Collard greens are a part of the cabbage family and therefore are helpful to detoxify. They help both phase I and II liver detoxification and provide a good source of fiber. It’s a dark leafy green so a good source of magnesium as well. Break off the end and eat it or tuck it up into the quinoa and mung bean mix and make your wrap. They can be eaten raw, or lightly steamed. To steam, rinse then place on a plate and put in microwave for 30 seconds.
Plastic Free Beeswax Wrap
I make wraps travel well in a beeswax dipped cotton cloth. It’s a bit sticky so it sticks when you fold it. Mine was a gift. I’ve seen them at Goodness Me! and Stone Store in Guelph, and also found a great recipe to make your own plastic free food wrap.
From the heart and kitchen of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND
Valentine’s Day Dessert- a KISS Recipe!
Keep It Simple Sweetie!
Don’t you just love simple desserts? This won’t take long to make. There is no baking. It is free of gluten, dairy, egg, corn & soy! haha – It’s just fruit. So it’s vegan too.
How easy to please any squeeze.
All you need is a heart shape cookie cutter, a knife and some fruit. Any melon will do. To cut the kiwi fruit, just peel it, then carve out a little notch along the oblong. Then sliver off a little along either side to make it shaped like a heart. Then cut across to make slices.
Spread a little love! It keeps you young & vibrant.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND
There’s no getting around it — if you want to lose weight, your nutrition game needs to be on point. As the saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet.
But, there’s nothing worse than suffering through a diet that makes you miserable — especially when you still don’t see the results you want. Many fad diets are based on rules that are easy to memorize — No starchy carbs! Fast for 16 hours every day! — but are impossible to sustain.
Eating healthy isn’t supposed to be a temporary blip. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it takes commitment.
If that sounds daunting, it’s probably because you’re used to diets that kind of suck. But they don’t have to. Eating healthy isn’t about swearing off your favorite foods and nibbling on kale leaves all day. It’s about learning to fuel your body the right way and understand how to eat so you can lose weight without feeling deprived.
One of the most important lessons you can learn from losing weight successfully is how to eat healthfully. For the rest of your life.
We favor nutritionally balanced, long-term approaches to weight loss, but the truth of the matter is that counting calories, calculating macros, monitoring portion sizes, or even cleansing may or may not help you lose weight for a variety of reasons, many of which have to do with sustainability.
So, we’re not going to provide you with a list of 25 foods to eat that are “good” for weight loss. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out the detailed recommended food and beverage lists in the Beachbody Portion Fix Eating Plan or any Beachbody program nutrition guide.
But keep in mind that these are just places to start your healthy eating education. We want to drive home the facts that it’s your weight to lose, it’s your preferences, and it’s your life that should help guide you to what you should eat — not only to lose weight, but also to live a more vivacious life.
This isn’t to say that you won’t need to retrain your palate to accept whole foods without much adornment (ie., lots of added salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats), or that you won’t need to sacrifice the richness of some of your favorite comfort foods (we’re looking at you, mac and cheese) for healthier, slimmed-down versions, or that you won’t need to trim back on portion sizes. You will likely need to do all of these things in order to lose weight.
But, the key mindset to embrace is that you do have choices. You ultimately get to determine what will and won’t go into your weekly meal plans. What you eat to lose weight shouldn’t be all that different from what you eat to maintain your health after you shed the excess pounds. So, yes, you’ll likely need to cut calories to lose weight, but you’ll also need to learn how to eat differently to maintain your results.
No matter which way you prefer to cut calories, you should focus on improving the quality of the calories you do ingest first and foremost. We’ve reduced it to three simple steps you can start today to maximize the calories you do consume when you want to lose weight.
3 STEPS TO
1. Drink water first and most.
When you’re trying to lose weight, cleaning up your diet also means watching what you drink. If done right, juices or shakes can be healthy weight-loss tools to enhance your nutrition plan, and Shakeology is a good way to assure you’re getting plenty of nutrients when eating at a deficit (or anytime!). Just try to keep your calories from beverages to a minimum (most Shakeology varieties contain about 160 calories per scoop).
Of course, water is calorie-free and incredibly good for you. Beachbody recommends you drink your body weight, divided by two, in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds — that would be 150 divided by 2, which equals 75. That’s 75 ounces of water you should be drinking every day. To a die-hard soda drinker (even a diet soda drinker) or someone who doesn’t think about hydration much at all, this might seem like a lot of extra trips to the bathroom. To make all that plain water more palatable, try:
- Carbonated water. Try flavored varieties without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and caloriesUnsweetened tea. Use caffeine-free tea if desired, and spruce up the flavor with lemon or lime slices, or muddled fruit
- Adding sliced citrus, cucumbers, strawberries, pineapples, or fresh mint leaves
- Adding citrus peels
- Flavoring with natural combos: ginger + cucumber + mint, or pineapples + orange peel, or strawberries + kiwi + basil.
Your mom may have told you as a 5-year-old not to fill your belly with liquid so you’d eat some dinner, but feel free to defy that rule as an adult. In fact, one study published in the journal Obesity asked 84 obese adults to either drink two cups of plain water before their main meals every day for three months, or to imagine the feeling of being full. Those who drank water before their meals lost about 2.6 pounds more than those who didn’t. These findings suggest that drinking water before your meals may be an easy way to take the edge off hunger, and possibly stop you from eating too much.
2. Replace refined, processed foods with whole ones.
It may seem obvious that in order to lose weight and eat healthier, you need to cut way back on fried foods, creamy casseroles, and sugary confections, but it may seem less obvious what to eat instead.
As much as possible, try to cut back on highly processed foods, such as frozen meals, packaged snacks, sugar-laden cereals, bottled sauces, meats with added preservatives, etc. Instead, choose whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, lean proteins (ie., chicken, turkey, eggs, tempeh), healthy fats (ie., avocados, hummus, extra-virgin olive oil, nut butters), and whole grains (ie., oatmeal, barley, whole-grain bread, brown rice).
Whole foods provide nutrient-dense fuel that contribute to greater satiety (when compared to processed foods).
The naturally occurring fiber, water (in foods like fruits and vegetables), or protein in these foods can contribute to an increased feeling of satisfaction — often with less food (read: fewer calories).
Protein can help you feel satiated longer than carbohydrates or fat. This may be due to increased thermogenesis (the metabolic process of your body burning calories), which influences that physiological “I’m satisfied” feeling you have after consuming higher amounts of protein.
Fiber, a form of carbohydrate found in plants that humans lack the enzyme to digest, helps us feel fuller on fewer calories. A food diary analysis of successful MyFitnessPal (MFP) users (defined as those who came within five percent of their goal weights) revealed the faithful food trackers who came closest to their goals ate 30 percent more fiber. That may seem like a lot, but really the difference was only three grams per day more than other MFP users — the equivalent of having one small apple or swapping a traditional English muffin for a whole wheat one.
3. Add volume with vegetables.
Volumetrics is a way of eating that may help you feel satisfied by consuming foods with low calorie density, or less calories for any given amount. It’s essentially a fancy way of telling people to eat the majority of their calories from mostly vegetables and fruits.
Low calorie density foods such as apples are higher in fiber and water, so you’re able to eat more in volume for a similar amount of calories (compared to a higher calorie density food such as apple pie). There’s evidence to say that fiber helps you feel fuller faster, and keeps you satiated long after you eat. A small study did find that water incorporated into food (as in the case of soup) did help subjects eat less, but not if that same amount of water was served in a glass on the side.
One study confirms that when people eat foods low in energy density, their total daily calories are significantly less than when they eat foods high in energy density.
If you’re hoping that eating more whole foods will help you lose weight, you’ll want to eat these foods in lieu of processed foods, not in addition to them. Because, in the end, weight loss generally boils down to eating fewer calories.
The topic I’m going to address today is how to handle holiday stress with greater ease.
If you think about it, we could make “holiday stress” a great opportunity to teach us how to manage “any time” stress. A great place to start is having our priorities straight so you’re clear on what matters and what doesn’t.
5 Tips for Holiday Stress Relief:
1. Write in your journal
Now is a good time to sit down, take a deep breath, and write in your journal to help you get organized and remember what the holidays are really about.
First, write down everything that needs to be handled. Then identify things that you can let go of or delegate to someone else. Even if you need to handle everything, taking the time to write it all down will help you feel less overwhelmed.
Now that you have written down and organized your to-do list, think to yourself, “What will be my state of ‘being’ while I’m doing all of these things? Will I be joyful or stressed, grateful or overwhelmed?” And, write a paragraph on this topic. Asking these questions is really important if you want the holidays to be something you actually enjoy. The busyness of the holidays doesn’t have to cause stress if you choose a calm and joyful way of being as you check off tasks from your to-do list.
Next, let’s get more specific. Write down how you would like certain aspects of the holidays to go. How would you like to experience cooking the holiday meal or having people over? While cooking, will you feel angry that you have to cook such a big meal, or curious and excited about making a new dish for your family? Or, while shopping, will you feel obligated or resentful that you have to buy for so many people, or grateful that you have the means to buy presents to begin with?
Now, make two columns in your journal. In one column, write the names of the people you are buying gifts for. In the second column, write what you are grateful for about this person. Leave out all the things they have or haven’t done, or what they’ve said or didn’t say – all of that ultimately doesn’t mean anything. Instead, write how they contribute positively to your life. Then take this list with you shopping so that the present you purchase is an expression of your appreciation for them. This can help you remember what the holidays are really about: celebration and gratitude for our friends and family.
2. Keep things in perspective
Rather than truly celebrating family and friends, we often get caught up in how things “look.” We worry about the holiday cards, or whether our hair and outfits look alright, or if we ordered enough pies for everyone. When you start to spiral into worry, go back to your shopping list of names and why you’re grateful for these people – does it really matter if your hair looks perfect that day?
I’m not saying to show up to your holiday events in your pajamas, but by choosing what you focus on, you can allow whether a certain situation will create stress or joy within you. Are you going to focus on whether your outfit looks perfect or focus on the joy you experience with your cousin who you haven’t seen in a while? You have a choice. Consciously choosing gratitude and joy will create positive situations and bring you closer to those you love.
And, if you’ve mastered this level of focused decision-making during the holidays, you can easily apply it throughout the year when there are less distractions.
3. Consider the past
Here is another topic to write about in your journal: What are the memories that get stirred up during the holidays? Which memories create a clenching in the pit of your stomach, or a fear-based emotion, or that feeling of “here we go again.” What creates that in you? Write them all down, be very real about it. Don’t let your mind take hold of the negative emotion and spiral you down into the same old pattern – nothing will change that way.
So write these memories down in your journal and what they stir up in you, then write whether they really matter in the grand scheme of things – get some perspective. And then consider whether you should communicate with someone so that this pattern doesn’t happen again, or just let it go. In either case, make that change internally to change that pattern. Do it now before it’s too late and suddenly it’s Christmas Eve and the same situation occurs. Also, write down enjoyable holiday memories and prioritize doing those activities again this year.
4. Learn to say “no”
If you have always lived the holidays with great stress, but have not done anything about it (as if the outside world will suddenly shift for you and make it all good), then nothing will change because at the end of the day nothing and nobody makes you feel in any way other than how you choose to feel, what you choose to allow in your field. That is very important to remember.
Because there are so many challenges, the holidays present so many amazing opportunities to take control of your life and to empower yourself. Let’s say you’ve cooked the turkey for your family for 30 years but never enjoyed the task, this is your opportunity to finally say “no.” You’re not a victim, you don’t owe anything, so don’t disempower yourself. If you don’t like having 50 people over every Hanukkah, but you allow it to happen because you’re not willing to experience the consequences of saying “no,” then you are allowing resentment to exist in you, once again. Am I saying that changing a pattern is easy? Of course not, but you must always remember that your life is under your control.
If spending quality time with your husband and children during the holidays is important to you, then make the time. Be more organized about the shopping, start way ahead as opposed to waiting to the last minute. Choose the events that you want to attend, and say “no” to the rest. Be empowered in what you are deciding to celebrate this year.
5. Make it a holiday for YOU
It is crucial for your well-being to learn what is important to you, and to prioritizing these things during the chaotic holiday season. It’s important to be very real and honest about the things that you never enjoy doing and yet, you still do them over and over again. You allow these situations to destroy your peace every single year. What is up with that? What would happen if you spoke up and said, “stop”? Make the holidays something different this year; make it a holiday for you, for how you feel.
Every day of this celebration, actually celebrate by having the courage to eliminate that which is not important to you. This allows a clearing for what does bring you joy. For example, if you’re not spending days in the kitchen preparing a meal for 50 people, you’ll have more time to play games with your children.
Try it and do your best not to feel obligated. If you feel guilty, engage with that experience with compassion and kindness for yourself. Remember, everybody is caught in the whirlwind of the holidays and the guilt of it all. We are all doing the best we can, so it’s nobody’s fault. But, you are in charge of what this holiday season could be for you and your family.
So, I invite you to be in a state of celebration for yourself this holiday season. In your journal, write: “What if this holiday was exactly what I wanted it to be. What would that look like? What if I had the courage to sit down with my family and discuss what we wanted to do and what we did not want to do this year?” Wouldn’t that be nice?
With these intentional actions – which are ultimately actions of love for yourself and the people who are important to you – you can make this year a true celebration, a true holiday, a true honoring of each other, peace, joy, and well-being. I hope this was helpful, thank you.
First, remember that there’s no better time of year to remind yourself of why you want to lose weight in the first place. Your friends and family care about you and want you to succeed. They want you to be happy, healthy, and on your way to becoming the person you want to be in 2018!
Also, seeing your loved ones at these gatherings is a great reminder that the holidays are about so much more than the food. Those delicious dishes and desserts are just tokens of the love you share among the most important people in your life. When you focus on what really matters, it’s not so hard to let a treat or two pass you by.
In fact, there’s no reason you can’t successfully lose weight (or at least maintain your weight) during the holidays. But it helps to have the right mindset — and a plan — for getting through holiday meals and parties keeping your weight-loss goals intact.
6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain:
1. Eat a filling breakfast and lunch
Don’t starve yourself before the big meal! You may think you’re “saving up calories,” but the hungrier you are when you arrive, the more likely you are to make poor food choices and wind up eating more than you might have otherwise. Start the day with a healthy, satisfying breakfast and a reasonable lunch, so you won’t be ravenous by the time the holiday meal is served.
2. Avoid “grazing” before and after the meal
Whatever time your family typically sits down at the table to eat (our holiday mealtime is around 4pm) — hors d’oeuvres, snacks, cocktails, and even desserts are often passed around before and after the meal for guests to “graze” on. To avoid overindulging, I set the time when I plan to start eating, as well as the time when I will stop. Then, once I get up and leave the table, I move on to other activities, such as reminiscing with grandma or playing with the kids. Just like I tell my clients — “Dinner and done… find other fun!”
3. Prioritize your treats
We all look forward to treating ourselves during the holidays, but all those temptations can quickly become overwhelming! When I’m at a holiday party, I scan the entire table of food first, and then choose the two or three that I want the most — the ones that are most likely to make the night feel extra-special. Then, I take my time and savor each bite!
4. How do you want to feel as you’re leaving?
Before even arriving at the party (and perhaps once again before taking your first bite), imagine how you want to feel when it’s time to leave. Stuffed like a turkey? Or happy, satisfied, and proud of yourself for keeping your goals on track? You’ll be amazed at how powerful this mental exercise can be in allowing you to enjoy the gathering to the fullest without overindulging.
5. Be active
Try building a healthy activity into your day, whether it’s a hike or a neighborhood game of touch football. Last year, my family and I laced up our hiking boots and hit the trail before dinner! If you’re giving gifts, think about toys and games that promote an active lifestyle. If you’re too old for toys (is anyone too old for toys?), then get out there and play with your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or even your pet.
6. Incorporate healthy food swaps
If I’m hosting the party — or even contributing a dish for the table — I like to share traditional dishes made using healthy food swaps designed to be every bit as filling and delicious as the originals. Greek yogurt makes a creamy stand-in for mayo in dressings and pasta salads. Mashed cauliflower rather than potatoes for a healthy swap that still tastes delicious (for the skeptics, try half-and-half cauliflower and potatoes). “Noodles” made with veggies are another big hit in our house. And for dessert, I serve cinnamon-spiced baked apples, either by themselves or topped with a little dollop of whipped cream, to satisfy apple-pie cravings.
Most of all, be sure to stay positive! If things don’t go exactly as planned, don’t beat yourself up. Just stay focused on your goal and the weight loss will follow. There are plenty of weight-loss days ahead in 2018! And I’ll have lots more helpful advice to share with you when the 2B Mindset launches. Meanwhile, together with the entire Beachbody community, I want to wish you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.
Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health
Do you find that the scale moves up a few pounds during this time of the year? During summertime, we’re focused on our bodies, given we know we’ll be wearing the revealing clothing that goes with the season. But when fall and winter come around, that mindset falls away like autumn leaves. Maybe it’s our primitive instinct to bulk up when the weather gets colder; it probably also has a lot to do with our busy holiday shopping and social schedules interfering with our regular workouts, and with all the tasty holiday treats lying in wait to tempt us everywhere we turn, regardless. But don’t let the layers of clothing become layers of fat. These tips can help you avoid holiday weight gain this season.
Avoid Holiday Weight Gain With These 10 Simple Tips
Staying healthy and fit during the holidays isn’t impossible. You just need the right tools! With convenient workouts you can do at home on Beachbody On Demand, and a craving-crushing drink like Shakeology, it will be easier than ever to end the year on a healthy high note.
1. Travel smart
Many people find themselves traveling during the holiday season, but that’s not an excuse to eat unhealthily and avoid exercise. Plan your meals in advance, and pack snacks when you are either on the road or in the air. Good travel snacks can include nuts or dried fruit. To help you be a happier traveler, get a good night sleep before you leave to increase your mood and alertness. Eating a heavy meal before traveling can make you sleepy, so eat a small, low-fat meal before you head out the door.
2. Get enough sleep
Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and get a full night’s rest as often as you can. If you fail to get a good night sleep, it can make you grumpy the next day and make it harder to focus on your healthy goals. No one wants to travel with a grouchy person, so do everyone a favor and get some shut eye. Sleeping well can also help you reduce your calorie consumption, because it inhibits the release of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin while promoting the release of leptin, another hormone that limits hunger. And keeping that hunger in check is a good idea when you find yourself surrounded by holiday goodies. Check out these natural sleep remedies to help you get some shut-eye.
3. Drink enough water
You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll say it again: drink water! During the busy holiday season it can be easy to forget to fill up enough cups with H2O, but it can do wonders with keeping you healthy. It helps regulate your body temperature, helps with the digestion of food, and it can help you limit your caloric intake. How? Try drinking a glass of water before each meal, and you’ll likely feel more satisfied on less food because your stomach already has some liquid in there. And if you alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water, you’ll slow down your consumption of high-calorie beverages. If you don’t think a glass of plain old H2O is appetizing enough, here are 10 tasty ways to add flavor to your water.
4. Approach cocktails with caution
We’re not telling you to avoid alcohol completely – wine is allowed in Portion Fix after all! But do pace yourself by having at least one glass of water in between each drink (see tip #3). Remember that one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and yet it yields virtually no energy or health benefits. Calories from alcohol can add up quickly, so be mindful of how much you are drinking. Also, drinking may reduce inhibitions at the dessert buffet, which can lead to a few too many sugar cookies. If you do indulge in eggnog, which is super-high in calories in its traditional form, try this lighter version that clocks in under 150 calories.
5. Get an accountability partner
The holidays are filled with temptation, and it’s your job to stop it in its tracks. But…that can be really tough to do on your own. If you need some assistance in fighting the temptation of cookies and cocktails and candies (oh my!), don’t be afraid to ask for help. An accountability partner can help you stick to your goals when your willpower gets a little shaky. Tell a family member that you’re trying to eat healthier, so they can give you a gentle reminder when you’re eyeing that second slice of cake. Or, get a group of friends and do morning workouts together. You’ll probably find that power in numbers is a key part in avoiding holiday weight gain. And if you can’t confide in someone in person, then try reaching out to a Team Beachbody Coach, who can help you stay on track even from afar.
6. Use screen time wisely
Who says the TV can only be used to watch classic holiday movies and rivalry sports games? Take over the screen for a few minutes and turn on one of your favorite Beachbody On Demand workouts. Don’t worry, you won’t have to be using precious TV time for hours at a time, there are plenty of workout that are less than 30 minutes! You can even get the whole family involved with the kid-friendly Double Time program, or the fun dance routines in Country Heat. And you don’t have to hog the TV. You can also cue up Beachbody On Demand on your computer, tablet, or phone. And when you you do decide to cozy up for a made-for-TV holiday film, encourage your family to get up in between commercials for some jumping jacks or push-ups. Make it a competition to see who can do the most during the break and watch the sibling rivalry do some good for once.
7. Make recipes healthier
Most recipes can be made healthier without compromising the recipe. Just check out how Autumn and Bobby Calabrese do it on FIXATE, Beachbody’s healthy cooking show. With a few substitutions, you can limit unnecessary salt, sugar, and fat in some of your favorite holiday recipes…and we doubt that your guests will notice. Here are some of our personal favorite holiday recipes made healthier, like Gingerbread Protein Pancakes and Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin.
8. Avoid serving food family-style
When food is placed right on the dining table, it’s much easier to grab a second helping. So make it harder: Keep the extra food away from the dining room. If you leave it in the kitchen, out of sight, it forces everyone to think about getting up to grab another helping. Here’s a tip: If you still feel hungry after your first plate, wait for 15 minutes and drink a full glass of water, then decide whether you want more food.
9. Eat smaller amounts more often
Instead of starving yourself all day so you can overindulge in that one, giant meal, have smaller meals throughout the day. At family holiday gatherings in particular, it’s asking too much to resist the lavish aromas of the kitchen, so being mindful of your portion sizes is important. You can still enjoy all your family-favorite recipes – just enjoy them in moderation. You’ll likely feel much better at the end of the meal that way.
10. Stay active
Whether you cue up a workout on Beachbody On Demand or gather up the troops for a walk around the block, regular exercise can help with so many of the challenges you face during the holiday season. It can help you cope with the stress of traveling by releasing endorphins that help boost your mood and energy. At the airport, if you have time, walk beside those moving sidewalks instead of standing and letting them carry you to your terminal. If you’re traveling by car, take frequent breaks, get out of the car, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you’re staying home for the holidays, get the family involved! Depending on the climate, go ice skating, hiking, sledding, skiing, biking, or walk the dog. And go for a walk together after your big meal—it’ll help you all digest better.
We’re not asking you to deprive yourself of any holiday cheer. Just be aware of your body and the temptations and pitfalls it faces this season. Because the holidays have a way of testing your self-control, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place well in advance for dealing with them. That way, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding holiday weight gain and remaining on your regular regimen of exercise and dieting. You can even make it your New Year’s resolution to keep a healthy lifestyle and continue working toward your goals.
There’s an equal amount of confusion and hype surrounding a low-carb diet.
Research shows low-carb diets can be an effective way to shed pounds — although not necessarily superior to weight-reduction results achieved by other diets, such as a low-fat or reduced-calorie diets.
But a low-carb diet plan isn’t as straightforward as the name might have you believe.
“A low-carbohydrate diet can have a wide, unclear definition,” says Holly Klamer, M.S., R.D., “but in general terms, it means following a diet that has less than 45–65 percent of [total daily] calories from carbohydrates.”
(For reference, the recommended carbohydrate range for adults, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is 45–65 percent of total daily calories.)
In general, however, most low-carb diets focus on limiting refined grains and starches (like white bread, pasta, and potatoes) in favor of lean protein, whole grains, non-starchy veggies, and low-glycemic fruits.
But with so much varying information out there, it can be easy to misinterpret a low-carb diet or to implement its principles in an extreme or unsustainable way.
The intention behind the diet — to reduce the amount of unhealthy carbs you consume on a regular basis — isn’t inherently a bad idea, but you need to be smart about how you execute it. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid.
7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes
1. Ignoring the nutritional value of carbs
These foods provide our bodies with the natural, sustained energy we need to function and stay active. “A carbohydrate-dense fruit such as a banana can give you the fuel you need to increase the intensity of your workout; [you might] burn more calories [as a result],” says Klamer.
High-quality carbs are also chockful of vital nutrients like B vitamins, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Klamer says reducing your carbohydrate intake to super low levels puts you at risk for deficiencies in these areas.
2. Eating too much unhealthy fat
Eating low-carb isn’t an excuse to go nuts on beef, pork, eggs, butter, cheese, and other foods with high trans or saturated fat content.
Eating a diet high in trans fat isn’t heart-healthy, says Sharon George, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. Consuming high levels of trans fat may cause your liver to produce more LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol.
According to the American Heart Association, too much “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and not enough “good” cholesterol (HDL) may put you at risk for certain types of disease.
In fact, one study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health found that a low-carb diet high in animal protein (dairy and meat) was associated with higher all-cause mortality, while a low-carb diet high in plant protein (veggies, tofu, lentils, etc.) and lower in trans fat was associated with lower all-cause mortality rates.
Researchers found that substituting saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats and limiting consumption of refined carbohydrates may be beneficial for overall health.
The overall takeaway: Cut back on trans and saturated fat consumption, while also reducing refined carbs (think: white bread, pasta, rice, sugary pastries, cookies, etc.).
Instead, eat healthy fats, such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Great sources of these types of fats include salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocados, seeds, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil.
3. Misunderstanding portion sizes
If you don’t have a basic idea of portion sizes — say, what a single portion of brown rice or steel-cut oats actually looks like — you’re likely to either over- or underestimate how much food you need.
Understanding portion sizes can help prevent overeating while also ensuring you consume enough nutrients to fuel your body properly.
Denis Faye, M.S. and Beachbody’s executive director of nutrition, says the Portion Fix plan advocates for a healthy balance of macronutrients: 30 percent of your total daily calories from protein, 30 percent from healthy fats, and 40 percent from carbs — the majority of which should be unprocessed and unrefined.
“By going with 40 percent carbs, we’re able to make the majority of carbs [in the plan] produce-based without crushing people [who are] new to healthy eating under a kale, broccoli, and mixed-berry avalanche,” says Faye.
There are three containers for carbs in the system: Purple is for fruits, green is for veggies, and yellow is for other carbs like whole grains. You fill each one up with its corresponding foods anywhere from two to six times a day, depending on your predetermined calorie target range; no measuring or overthinking necessary.
Faye also notes that the 40 percent carbs guideline isn’t a hard-and-fast rule: “Starting your diet at 40 percent carbs allows you to experiment and increase your carbs to a level that best works for you, which is much easier than trying to slowly reduce carbs to find your sweet spot,” he explains.
4. Eating too much protein
“Getting enough protein is hugely important for both health reasons and because it aids muscle recovery,” says Faye. (Protein breaks down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.)
Eating less carbs certainly means you’ll need to eat more protein (especially if you want to crush your workouts), but it’s important not to go overboard.
“When [your] carbohydrate intake is significantly decreased, the body starts breaking down stored carbohydrate sources [glycogen, for energy],” says Klamer. “When these stores get depleted, the body will start altering fat and protein to make carbohydrates.”
Gluconeogenesis (which means “creating new sugar”) is the metabolic process by which the liver converts non-carbohydrate sources (like fats, amino acids, and lactate) into glucose to regulate blood sugar levels.
Gluconeogenesis usually occurs when your body doesn’t have sufficient carbohydrates to properly fuel your brain and muscles.
Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can’t be stored for long-term energy, which means the body has to convert this excess protein into either glucose or fat storage, possibly negating the effect of eating low-carb and making it more difficult to lose weight.
To avoid getting too much of a good thing, aim for protein to make up a solid 30 percent of your diet, not half. For ideas, check out these healthy, high-protein snacks for when you’re on the go.
5. Not considering activity level when determining carb intake
“Carbs are fuel. They’re massively important and the body is super efficient at processing them, which is a blessing and a curse,” says Faye. “If you get the right amount [of carbs], they’re the ideal fuel for exercise, health — even for fueling your brain.”
But what’s the ideal amount? That depends, in part, on your level of activity and how much weight you want to lose. If you exercise a few times a week and make a point to move often throughout the day, you probably don’t need more than 40 percent of your daily calories from carbs. This amount ensures you get enough carbs to energize and fuel your body, but not so many that you can’t burn them off through regular exercise and your daily 10,000 steps.
6. Eating too many carbs
Just as it’s possible to eat too few carbs when starting a low-carb diet, it’s also possible to eat too many.
What constitutes an excess of carbs varies for each individual depending on metabolism and activity level, but in general, consuming more than 45 percent of your total daily calories from carbs isn’t technically a low-carb diet plan, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
If carbs make up half or the majority of your food consumption, you may be missing out on other essential macronutrients like lean protein and healthy fats. Protein is necessary for building muscle, and healthy fats provide our bodies with energy, aid in nutrient absorption, and facilitate cell growth and function.
7. Eating too many processed low-carb foods
Just because a food is low-carb doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy. Highly processed foods like bacon, certain deli meats, and low-carb snack bars don’t have many carbohydrates, but they’re often loaded with excess sodium, trans fats, and other additives.
Eating low-carb foods with refined and processed ingredients may not provide you with the nutrients you need to feel satisfied and energized. Before you load your shopping cart or plate with any item that has a low-carb label, consider the quality of the food in front of you.
If a food contains refined grains, artificial additives, added sugar, or ingredients you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t cook with at home, it’s probably highly processed.
Whenever possible, choose whole or minimally processed carbs. “Naturally occurring carbohydrates like the ones found in whole foods such as whole grains, dairy like yogurt and milk, and fruits and vegetables, provide important nutrients,” says Gorin.
How to Reduce Your Carb Intake in a Healthy Way
Adopting new eating habits takes time and patience, which is why it’s important to go slowly and be realistic about your expectations for weight loss.
“Many people get discouraged when starting a low-carb diet because it can take weeks to see results [from actual fat loss],” says George. Though you might see a lower number on the scale in the first week of eating low-carb, this change is probably a result of losing water weight.
The process of shedding fat and gaining muscle, however, might be more gradual. If that’s the case, remember that slow and steady wins the race.
Cut back on less-healthy carbs first
“If you’re looking to reduce carbohydrate intake,” says Gorin, “I recommend reducing the types of carbs that aren’t beneficial — [like] processed foods that contain added sugars and refined [grains].”
Items such as soda, candy, desserts, chips, and other processed foods don’t supply your body with enough vital nutrients. You don’t need to completely nix these foods from your diet, though (unless you want to!).
Instead, aim to enjoy them sparingly and with smart modifications. With Beachbody’s Portion Fix Eating Plan, for example, you can indulge in the occasional treat made at home using whole foods and natural ingredients, such as unsweetened applesauce, pure maple syrup, or extra-virgin coconut oil, to make treats like peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, strawberry lemonade bars, or red velvet cupcakes.
Eat carbs with more nutritional value
“If you are choosing to eat less carbs, it is important to make the carbs you do eat as nutritious as possible,” says Klamer. Try to eat low-glycemic, high-fiber carbs whenever you can.
For more fiber and nutrients, Klamer recommends whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and brown or wild rice. Other fiber-rich foods include black beans, lentils, broccoli, barley, artichokes, and raspberries.
(Pro tip: Need ideas on how to lose weight and get fit? Download our free “100 Ways to Lose Weight” guide here!)
High-Quality, Nutrient-Rich Carbs
Not sure which carbs to enjoy? Here are some examples of totally delicious and Portion Fix-approved carbs to add to your diet:
- Sweet potato
- Beans (kidney, black, garbanzo, white, lima, fava, etc.)
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Potato, mashed or ½ medium
- Corn on the cob, 1 ear
- Oatmeal, rolled
- Pasta, whole-grain
- Couscous, whole wheat
- Bread, whole-grain, 1 slice
- Pita bread, whole wheat, 1 small slice (4-inch)
- Bagel, whole-grain, ½ small bagel (3-inch)
- Tortilla, whole wheat, 1 small (6-inch)
*Green and purple containers:
- Peppers (sweet)
- Winter squash
The 20-Second Takeaway
Many people who start low-carb diets take them to extreme measures, and can end up drastically reducing their carb intake, consuming large amounts of unhealthy fats, or not incorporating enough nutrient-rich carb sources into their meals.
That doesn’t mean low-carb diets are bad, though — they can be an effective weight-loss strategy, but you need to be thoughtful about the approach you take.
In general, focus on limiting processed and refined carbs, and eating more high-quality carbs from whole grains, fruits, and veggies. You’ll gradually lose weight and get all the nutrients you body needs to thrive.
BY: Paige Smith
Have you tried this? Dairy free, gluten free dreamy nut cheese. Made from raw cashews and nutritional yeast, herbs and spices, this is sure to be a holiday favourite.
A few of my patients came in to me and asked if I had tried nut cheese. I hadn’t. Until this past weekend. It’s much like the cashew basil pesto I made in the summer with lots of basil from the garden, garlic and cashews, but this is more like cheese. It’s the nutritional yeast that seems to give it that tangy cheese like flavour. You can buy it already made and I have found it at Stone Store in Guelph and Goodness Me!
Making nut cheese takes a little forward thinking, but it is not difficult. You can customize the flavour when you make it yourself. So you could do a cinnamon and cranberry, or a garlic and herb, or use crazy amount of basil.
Start with some raw unsalted cashews available at places like Costco, Bulk Barn or Goodness Me! The later two have nutritional yeast (Bob’s Red Mill brand) as well. You can get herbs and garlic, or other ingredients just about anywhere.
- 2 cups (240 g) raw cashews
- 1-2Tbsp minced garlic (depends on how strong your garlic is and how you like it)
- 1 lemon, zested
- 2 lemons, juiced (1/4 cup or 60 ml)
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) water
- 2 Tbsp (6 g) nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
- press on dried parsley, dill or other dried garden herbs, as you like.
- Place cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. I use a pyrex glass one with a fitted lid. Do it in the morning and leave on the counter for the day (12 hours). If you can’t get to them right away, drain, place back in bowl, and store in refrigerator for up to 24-36 hours.
- Once soaked, drain cashews thoroughly and add to blender/food processor. Add minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, nutritional yeast, salt and olive oil.
- Process until very creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. It should look like the consistency of hummus. Then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon zest for tartness, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, garlic for zing, or salt for flavour/balance.
- If it is a bit wet, scoop out the contents and drain a fine mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Discard any liquid.
- Otherwise you can directly lay down two layers of cheesecloth (or a clean, fine, absorbent towel) and place nut mix into the centre. Gather the corners and twist the top gently so you may form the cheese into a what looks like a gouda cheese round. A twist tie or elastic might help hold it.
- Place the drained cheese round into a sealed glass container in refrigerator to set for at least 6 hours, preferably 12, or until excess moisture has been wicked away. It is ready if it holds its form when unwrapped from the cheesecloth.
- To serve, unwrap from cheesecloth and place onto a serving board. Gently pat a coat of chopped herbs on to the round.
- Enjoy chilled with crackers or vegetables. Cheese will hold its form for 1-2 hours out of the refrigerator, but best when chilled. I’ve also seen it whipped up with the herbs and placed in a dollop on the serving tray.
- Leftovers keep well for up to 5 days, if covered in the refrigerator.
From the heart and kitchen of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND
Everywhere you turn, there are bowls of Halloween candy that are full of spooky ingredients like sugar, fat, chocolate, soy lecithin, polyglycerol polyricinoleate, sodium metabisulfate, resinous glaze, and carnauba wax — yum!
OK, let’s be honest — a list of sketchy ingredients isn’t going to stop anyone from hoovering a handful of [insert favorite Halloween candy here]. We’re not here to rain on your candy parade; you can still enjoy the scary good sweet stuff — if you eat them in moderation and if you know which ones you really should avoid (or eat less of).
Use this guide to tally up your sugary treats and don’t let the “fun-size” options fool you: They may be smaller, but the calories, fat, and sugar content still pack a significant punch.
For reference, when it comes to added sugars, the American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) for women and kids aged 2 to 18, and no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) for men. Per day.
The Worst Chocolate Halloween Candies
Whether they’re stuffed with caramel, nuts or coating delicious crispy wafers, chocolate candies are hard to resist. Chocolate taps into our deep-seated love for both sweets and fats. Sadly, it’s not the good kind of fat since most chocolate candies are made with partially hydrogenated fat or palm oil. Beware of these top 10 offenders:
1. Whoppers (1 tube): calories 32, fat 1.2 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated palm oil, whey (milk), cocoa; malted milk (barley malt; wheat flour; milk; salt; sodium bicarbonate), resinous glaze, sorbitan tristearate, lecithin, salt, natural & artificial flavors, calcium carbonate, tapioca dextrin.
2. Milky Way (1 mini-bar): calories 38, fat 1.6 g, sugar 1 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, chocolate, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), corn syrup, sugar, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, skim milk, less than 2 percent milkfat, cocoa powder processed w/alkali, malted barley, lactose, salt, egg whites, chocolate, artificial flavor.
3. M&Ms (1 fun-size pack): calories 67, fat 2.3 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate, sugar, cornstarch, less than 1 percent: corn syrup, dextrin, coloring (includes blue 1 lake, yellow 6, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, red 40 lake, blue 2 lake, yellow 6 lake, yellow 5 lake, blue 2), gum acacia.
4. Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme (1 mini bar): calories 67, fat 4 g, sugar 1.6 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, vegetable oil, nonfat milk, corn syrup solids, enriched wheat flour, lactose, 2 percent or less of cocoa, whey high fructose corn syrup, chocolate, lecithin, baking soda, salt, natural flavor and artificial flavor, tocopherols, PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate, a compound that reduces viscosity).
5. Kit Kat (1 fun size bar): calories 70, fat 3.7 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, wheat flour, nonfat milk, cocoa butter, chocolate, palm kernel oil, lactose, milk fat, contains 2 percent or less of: soy lecithin, PGPR, yeast, vanillin, artificial flavor, salt, sodium bicarbonate.
6. Snickers (1 fun size bar): calories 80, fat 4 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate, peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, milkfat, skim milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, lactose, salt, egg whites, chocolate, artificial flavor.
7. Twix (1 cookie): calories 80, fat 4 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (cocoa butter, chocolate, skim milk, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, PGPR, artificial flavors), sugar, enriched wheat flour, palm oil, corn syrup, skim milk, dextrose, less than 2 percent of food starch-modified, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, soy lecithin, artificial flavor.
8. Almond Joy (1 snack size): calories 80, fat 4.5 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: corn syrup, milk chocolate, coconut, sugar, almonds, 2 percent or less of vegetable oil, cocoa, whey, salt, hydrolyzed milk protein, lecithin, sodium metabisulfite.
9. Butterfingers (1 fun-size bar): calories 85, fat 3.5 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Corn syrup, sugar, ground roasted peanuts, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, cocoa, molasses, and less than 1 percent of dairy product solids, confectioner’s corn flakes, nonfat milk, salt, soy lecithin, soybean oil, cornstarch, natural flavors, TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone, a preservative) and citric acid (to preserve freshness), annatto color.
10. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (1 cup): calories 67, fat 2.3 g, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, corn syrup solids, soy lecithin, PGPR, emulsifier), peanuts, sugar, dextrose, salt, TBHQ.
The Worst Straight Sugar Halloween Candies
Straight sugar candies are mostly made with sugar, sugar, and more sugar, and dressed up with artificial flavors and dyes. These types of candy provide a quick sugar rush since they’re uninhibited by fat or protein, which can slow down their digestion.
11. Smarties (1 roll): calories 25, sugar 1.5 tsp
Ingredients: Dextrose, citric acid, calcium stearate, natural and artificial flavor, color (red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, yellow 6 lake, blue 2 lake).
12. WarHeads Extreme Sour Hard Candy (4 pieces): calories 50, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Corn syrup sugar, microencapsulated malic acid (malic acid, hydrogenated palm oil), citric acid, gum acacia, deproteinized soybean oil, ascorbic acid, artificial flavors, carnauba wax, corn starch, blue 1, red 40, yellow 5.
13. Sour Patch Kids (1 treat-size bag): calories 55, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, invert sugar, corn syrup, modified cornstarch, tartaric acid, citric acid, natural and artificial flavoring, yellow 6, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1.
14. Airheads (1 bar): calories 60, sugar 2 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose, modified food starch (corn), partially hydrogenated soybean oil, less than 2 percent of: citric acid, water, artificial flavors, artificial colors, red 40, blue 1, yellow 6, yellow 5.
15. Apple Pops (1 pop): calories 60, sugar 2.5 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, palm oil, skim milk, heavy cream, malic acid, whey, salt, artificial flavors, sodium caseinate, soy lecithin, artificial color (includes FD&C blue 1, FD&C red 40), turmeric coloring.
16. Skittles (1 small pack): calories 67, sugar 3 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, less than 2 percent of: citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, natural & artificial flavors, colors (red 40 lake, titanium dioxide, red 40, yellow 5 lake, yellow 5, yellow 6 lake, yellow 6, blue 2 lake, blue 1, sodium citrate, carnauba wax.
17. Candy corn (19 pieces): calories 140, sugar 7 tsp
Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze (shellac), salt, dextrose, gelatin, sesame oil, artificial flavor, honey, yellow 6, yellow 5, red 3.