Kale And The Thyroid

5905454471_7e0ce0ef97_nKale is, and has been, the new “it” vegetable for a while now. I think it was also the “it” vegetable a few decades ago, then went away and came back. Anyone who wore bell bottoms in the 90’s thinking it was so new, only to see pictures of mom rocking the same thing in the 70’s knows that sometimes happens.

But now, we have a few articles – like this one on “The Dark Side Of Kale” – discussing the potential for kale and other cruciferous vegetables – including broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts –  to cause problems with our thyroid. Here’s the gist of the article: Continue reading Kale And The Thyroid

All About Carbs

berry-pancakesCarbs. Everyone generally interested in nutrition and healthy eating seems to be talking about carbs these days. But before I tell you all about them, I must address one of my biggest pet peeves and one of the biggest myth that seems to be floating around – the idea that you can “give up carbs”. Let me just say definitively that you cannot. Why? Because they are in everything that is good for you. Fruits. Vegetables. Even whole dairy. Because, you see, “carbs” are not pasta, rice, and baked goods. “Carbs” is really just an abbreviation for carbohydrates – the body’s main source of energy. So, you can give up grains. You can give up starchy carbohydrates. But you can’t really give up ALL carbohydrates. Allow me to explain further…

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and can be found in simple or complex structures. They provide fuel and are the body’s most readily available source of energy.

Why do you need them?

1270914_10104168540393451_1482221392_oWhen you eat carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into the simple sugar glucose, which is then transported throughout the body to provide energy, fuel important reactions, and maintain blood sugar levels. Any glucose not used immediately is stored in your liver as glycogen. During quick bouts of exercise, like a 100 meter sprint, the body uses glucose as the main source of fuel. But when it needs additional energy during longer workouts, it will draw on its glycogen stores, as well as stored fat, for energy. Having enough glycogen stored up for the body to use will allow you to perform at your best, both in competition and training. On the other hand, not getting enough carbohydrates and energy to meet your needs over an extended period of time can weaken your immune system – meaning you could get sick more often – and make you feel less energetic.

Where do you find them?

photo 3Carbohydrates come from a variety of sources, and some are better than others. Some of the better sources of carbohydrates include fruits and vegetables, starches like sweet potato, and some whole grains (quinoa, oats, barley). Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of carbohydrates because they have more fiber and other nutrients like vitamins and minerals (that occur naturally, not through fortification) and are less energy dense. Which carbohydrates you choose will depend on your goals (I’ll get to that in a minute).

The carbohydrates to avoid include baked goods, simple sugars (like table sugar and syrups), processed grains (or “white” grains), and other processed snack foods.

How many should you be eating?

392034_2510639963358_1858750564_nHow much carbohydrate you need depends on the intensity and volume of training, gender, and type of sport. Research indicates that elite (college and professional) athletes need 6-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight (weight in kilograms = weight in pounds divided by 2.2). Women and less active athletes will be on the lower end of that range, while men or endurance athletes will be on the higher end. However, most recreational athletes  will need fewer carbohydrates, as they are not training over 2 hours per day as those athletes do. For most people I recommend 3-6 grams/kg of body weight, depending on your training. For example, a runner who does CrossFit twice a week and is trying to maintain weight will want to eat more carbohydrates than someone who does CrossFit four times a week and is trying to lose weight.

The thing about carbohydrates is there is not enough evidence to recommend exact levels to everyone. How much you need depends on your training, weight, and goals, but also on your subjective feelings. Two people might eat the same proportion of carbohydrates, and while one person feels fantastic, the other feels low energy and lethargic. All things considered, if you can’t focus at work you likely need to eat more carbohydrates.

Should You Be Giving Up Grains?

During the Transformation Challenge, a lot of us are giving up grains for 6 weeks. But after the challenge, how should you deal with reintroducing them? Or should you at all? Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your weight goals in mind. If you’re trying to lose weight, keeping grains mostly out of your diet  – while allowing yourself greater liberation in other areas – is a good way to cut out unnecessary calories. If you’re trying to gain weight (or have trouble maintaining it), it is much harder to get enough calories and carbohydrates without grains. It’s possible, but far more difficult (and expensive).
  • Keep your fitness goals in mind: Endurance sports will require more carbohydrates than anaerobic sports (like CrossFit).
  • Keep the grains healthy. Even if you do add back in grains, don’t add in the Eggo waffles, Oreos, and white grains. Add back in bread with only a few ingredients in it (less than 5),brown rice, oats, barley, etc.

A Vitamin A Day May Not Actually Keep The Doctor Away

5905454471_7e0ce0ef97_nFor most people, a jar of multivitamins on your countertop is a marker of a healthy person. Of course, I have always been convinced that you can get all the nutrients you need from food if you eat the right foods. Looks like science might be proving my point. An article yesterday from Science Daily reported on 2 articles published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which found that taking a daily vitamin/mineral supplement really has no clear benefit for most healthy people.

What does this mean?

This means you don’t need to spend $17.99 a month for vitamins at CVS. It means vitamins and minerals do the most for your body when they come from food. Continue reading A Vitamin A Day May Not Actually Keep The Doctor Away

The Deal On Dairy

118970265_b42657315c_mDairy isn’t paleo. Most people who have read about/heard of the paleo diet know that. But WHY isn’t dairy allowed? Is it really that bad for you? I like looking at pros and cons so I’m going to break it down that way.

Dairy Pros

1. If you buy the right stuff, it’s pretty natural. I’m not talking about cheesecake flavored yogurt, ice cream, or strawberry milk. I’m talking about grass-fed milk and butter, plain Greek yogurt, etc. Whole milk is removed from a cow, heated to 145 degrees F for 30 minutes or 162 degrees F for 15 seconds (that is the Pasteurization process) and then bottled. Of course, this can be different at a big factory farm type dairy. But if you are buying organic, grass-fed milk, you’re getting a pretty unprocessed product. Continue reading The Deal On Dairy

Why Aren’t White Potatoes Paleo?

I know, it’s confusing. There are a bazillion different iterations of the paleo diet – some include dairy, some allow dark chocolate and added sugars in dried fruit, some are OK with paleo baked goods and some aren’t, etc. One thing most paleos do, though, is eat plenty of sweet potato, pumpkin, and winter squash but avoid the white potato. Why no love for the white potato in the paleo diet? Two words: glycemic index.

What Is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index is a number based on an equation developed by scientists a few decades ago to quantify the effect of various foods on blood sugar. Continue reading Why Aren’t White Potatoes Paleo?

Should You Try Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) has emerged as one of the many trendy diet options these days. Basically, “intermittent fasting” is the practice of periodically alternating between fasting – drinking just water and perhaps low calorie drinks like coffee – and non-fasting, i.e. eating normally.

Fasting Plans 

IF comes in a variety of plans and structures. The most popular of these are:

Empty Dishes

Periodic Fasting – eat normally for 5 days of the week. For 2 non-consecutive days, reduce calorie intake, usually to 500-600 calories. You can spread out the calories into smaller snacks or eat one meal after 24 hours of fasting (so, say you started at 7 pm the night before, you could eat 500-600 calories at 7 pm the next day).

Restricted Eating Period – eat normally, but only for a set window during the day. Most people using this plan eat during an 8 hour window starting around 10 am – 12 pm and lasting until 6 – 8 pm. This essentially equates to skipping breakfast and making lunch your first meal. Continue reading Should You Try Fasting?