nutrition

Thank Sleep is Important? Think Again!

We all know sleep is important, but you may not know the half of it! Disordered sleep has an incredible negative impact on all sorts of facets of your health!

Why Is Sleep Important?

A good night’s sleep is essential for our overall well being. In fact, it’s as important as healthy nutrition and regular exercising.

However, our to-do list is becoming longer and longer each day, and sometimes 24 hours just isn’t enough to take care of all our responsibilities! Because of this, we sometimes neglect the importance of sleep, and the question is: how long our body can put up with this new and fast way of life?

Facts About Sleep You Didn’t Know

Did you know that between 50 and 70 million people in the United States have chronic sleep disorders and that the number hits more than 2 billion people worldwide? People suffer from a variety of sleep issues that are either connected to the lack of sleep or some health problems.

More than 35% of the people in the US get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, and about 45% of them reported that inadequate sleep affected their daytime activities.

1. You Can Gain Weight Because of the Poor Sleep

Poor sleep is strongly linked with gaining weight. Sleep deprivation causes changes in hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. In fact, sleep deprivation is one of the greatest risk factors for obesity.

Children who don’t get enough sleep at night are 89% more likely to be obese, and adults are 55% more likely. Furthermore, less sleep lowers your energy and motivation for exercising, which also leads to unwanted weight.

To stay fit and healthy, it’s crucial to get enough sleep at night (between 7 and 9 hours).

2. Good Sleep Can Improve Concentration and Productivity

Sleep has a huge impact on brain functions. These include cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance.

A study conducted on medical interns showed that interns who had an extended schedule of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns who had more time to sleep. Another study showed that sleep deprivation could have the same impact on the brain as alcohol intoxication.

On the other hand, enough good-quality sleep can improve problem-solving skills and memory performance in both children and adults.

3. Sleep Improves Your Immune System

Even a small loss of sleep could decrease the strength of our immune system. A two-week-long study showed that people who slept for less than seven hours per night were almost three times more likely to get a cold than people who got eight or more hours of sleep.

The study was done after 14 days when people were given nasal drops of a cold virus. If you often get colds and you’re tired of it, getting more than eight hours of sleep at night could be very helpful.

4. Sleep Has a Huge Effect on Emotions and Social Interactions

Less sleep decreases the motivation for social interactions. One study showed that people who didn’t get enough sleep were less able to recognize facial expressions, happiness, and anger in other people. Researchers believe that sleep deprivation affects our ability to recognize important social signs and process emotional information.

The Bottom Line

Getting enough sleep is very important. It’s not only important for our social interactions, but also for our health. Try getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night and see how your life gets better!

Want more? Check out this infographic here: Sleep Stats and Facts

5 Reasons to Get Fit THIS FALL!

Let’s be honest, there’s always a million and one reasons to get in shape, but this week we’ve got 5 major reasons to get fit THIS Fall!

1. Fighting the Winter Flu

Are you one to catch that winter cold? Is this then your excuse to not stay active when it gets cold? Exercising in cooler temperatures helps strengthen your immune system and decreases your chances of getting a cold during the wintertime. The cells in your immune system will love you for that and better fight off all bacteria!

2. Beauty of Autumn

Even though temperatures are dropping, it is also such a beautiful time of the year! Don’t waste these days sitting around and doing nothing. Enjoy that beautiful autumn weather by going for a walk or run. Maybe even take up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing!

3. Resist Fall Comfort Food

Turkey, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate…there are many unhealthy temptations during this time of year. However, if you stay active this season, your body will start to naturally crave healthier foods. Resist excuses. Resist temptations. Await results!

4. Make Use of an Empty Schedule

Did you have a busy summer and no time to work out? Then this is one less excuse you can use. Make the most of your time by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Invest time on your fitness now, and avoid Spring/Summer regret!

5. Get a Head Start on your New Year’s Resolutions

Studies show it takes about 4 weeks for the body to adapt to new lifestyle changes. If you start your workout routine now, you’ll not only be one step ahead of your New Year’s resolutions but also more likely to meet them.

Have a Fit Fall by building your immune system, health, and nutrition by being consistent in your workouts and sleep schedule, getting outdoors, using the extra “indoor” time to cook/prep, and ultimately setting yourself up for a strong start in the new year!

Let’s Get to Know Erythritol: A Low Calorie Sweetener

We’ve talked about sugar and artificial sweeteners. But you might wonder, where do sugar-alcohols like Erythritol (ur-i-thruh-taal) fit in? It does occur naturally in some foods, but most of what you see is manufactured by fermenting wheat or cornstarch. Erythritol often is found with other sugar substitutes like stevia. Other sugar alcohols include xylitol, glycerin, sorbitol, etc.

Zero Calorie?

Erythritol is pretty much zero calorie sweetener at .2 calories per gram (table sugar is 4 calories per gram). This is because your body can not break it down; it doesn’t get metabolized and is excreted through urine within 24 hours. This also makes it a good option for diabetics. Erythritol has been approved by the World Health Organization since 1999.

Even though it is called a “sugar alcohol” it generally comes in a powder or granular form, and as you can see above it can look very much like table sugar!

But Is It Any Good?

Erythritol has 60-80% the sweetness of table sugar. It comes as a powder or granular form. It does not have a bitter aftertaste like some sweeteners and people can generally tolerate erythritol better than other sugar alcohols. You’ll find erythritol in many sugar free foods and snacks like Crystal Light Pure, sugar free candy, protein bars, gum, sugar free fruit spreads, Smart Cakes and muffins, Vitamin Water Zero, etc. It is also found in the brand Truvia sweetener.

Even Dentists Like It!

Dentists like erythritol because not only does it not cause tooth decay like sugar, it helps prevent it and reduce the formation of plaque. Sugar, on the other hand, turns into acid in your mouth when combined with mouth bacteria.

Is It Natural?

As we said before Erythritol can be manufactured by fermenting wheat or cornstarch, but it can also be found naturally in carrots, cherries, mushrooms, and more. Japan has been using erythritol since the early 1990s as a natural sugar substitute. Still, in the end, erythritol might be a good sugar substitute for you, but whole foods should still be the bulk of your diet.

Possible Side Effects

Like most sugar alcohols when used in large amounts, erythritol can cause diarrhea, gas/bloating, and/or an upset stomach. If you choose to use erythritol, as with most things, do so in moderation. At the same time, most people can handle a gram for every kilo of body weight (or .45g per pound). That means at 150 pounds someone could presumably consume more than 13 teaspoons without ill effect. However, if you suffer from IBS, it’s probably better to stay away from sugar alcohols.

5 Incredible Fall Shake Recipes!

Whether it be for a meal/snack on the go, to get that protein in, or to satisfy a sweet tooth, shakes have become a HUGE part of the nutrition world. With Fall here, we’ve got some stellar shake recipes that are sure to leave you feeling satisfied! What is more “fall” than apples, squash, and cookies!

October is Pumpkin season! Try this nutritionally complete pumpkin shake loaded with vitamin A and other nutrients from your pumpkin puree.

PUMPKIN SHAKE
• 1 frozen banana
• 2/3 c pumpkin puree
• ½ c plain Greek yogurt
• 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
• ½ c milk (unsweetened almond, etc)
• 1 TBSP maple syrup
• ½ tsp vanilla
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice and ice to thickness desired.

Not only does pumpkin puree work well for shakes, but butternut squash does too!

VEGAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SHAKE (for 2!)
• Roast a butternut squash in cubes
• Blend 1.25 C roasted squash
• 1.5 C unsweetened almond milk
• 3-4 pitted medjool dates
• 1 T chia seeds
• 1-2 t cinnamon to taste
• 1.5 t vanilla extract
• ½ t ginger
• a sprinkle of ground cloves and ice to desired thickness.

TIP: Not ready to roast a whole squash for a shake? You can buy frozen squash cubes in the frozen vegetables area of your supermarket or simply substitute canned squash puree!

Get the full recipe here!

Have your bushel of apples from apple picking? Craving the great taste of apple pie?

APPLE PIE SHAKE
• 1 apple
• ¼ plain Greek yogurt
• ½ tsp vanilla
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
• ice to taste

Maybe fall conjures images of cookies baking in the oven more than apples and squash. Have no fear, we have your shake needs covered!

OATMEAL COOKIE SHAKE
• ¼ c old fashioned oats
• 1 frozen banana
• 1 c unsweetened almond milk
• 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
• 1/2 TBSP honey
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp vanilla
• 1/8 tsp ground ginger
• 1/8 tsp nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp salt

This shake from our friends at Precision Nutrition offers a complete meal replacement option since it includes your protein, vegetable, carb, and fat!

APPLE AND GREAT GRAINS SHAKE
• 6 oz water or unsweetened almond milk
• 1 scoop Vanilla Bio-Whey protein powder
• 1/2 apple or 1 small apple cored and sliced into wedges
• 6-8 raw almonds
• 1/2 cup uncooked oats
• 1 fist of spinach
• ice and cinnamon as desired

TIP: Blend all ingredients (except spinach, cinnamon, and ice) for 1 minute. Add spinach and blend until smooth. Add ice and cinnamon to desired consistency.

Want to make your own shake, but not sure where to start?

Check out this guide on how to build your own complete shake with 6 easy steps:
1. liquid
2. protein
3. veggie
4. fruit
5. fat
6. topper

PN Build Your Own Shake Guide

Get The Skinny on Healthy Fats!

Plain and simple, our bodies need dietary fat. Did you know your BRAIN is made up of nearly 60% fat? A diet too low in fat robs your brain of the materials it needs to function properly. It’s not just the essential fatty acids and omega 3’s either (fats found in food like salmon, avocados and nuts) but also some of the saturated fats which we have been told for years to avoid, including natural animal fats!

Why You Can’t Eat “Fat-Free”

Essential Vitamins

Vitamins such as A, D, E and K are not water soluble and require fat to get transported and absorbed by the body. These vitamins are crucial for brain health and many of our vital organs.

Healthy Fats keep your lungs working properly

Our lungs are coated with a substance composed almost entirely of saturated fat. Premature babies who are lacking this substance are given something called “surfactant” to keep their lungs functioning properly. Without enough saturated fat, our lungs can be compromised. Some studies are now looking at the link between the low consumption of saturated fat and Asthma as a result of the breakdown of this fatty layer.

• Healthy Fats for a Strong immune system

Saturated fats such as those found in butter and coconut oil play key roles in immune health. Loss of too much saturated fatty acids in white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A great source of saturated fat is from animal fats like grass fed dairy and butter or fatty fish like salmon (wild is generally a better choice).

• Healthier Body Composition

One benefit of eating healthy fats is better body composition! This refers to your % of fat-weight versus % of lean-weight. Eating healthy fats help you lose body fat by improving metabolism, balancing hormones (hormones that help you feel full longer) and eliminating constant cravings.

Tips for Putting it in Action

• Fats: What and how much?

You should include healthy fats at each meal, but there is no need to pull out a measuring spoon every time you eat…a portion size of healthy fats is the size of your thumb! Nuts and seeds are a great source of fats. Certain oils are also excellent sources, like extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil.
PRO TIP: Have you tried using avocado oil spray? A great option to get the healthy fat in without overdoing it!

• Balance and Variety

Balance your diet with a variety of fat types (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated) from high quality foods like: seeds, nuts, seafood, coconut, avocado, olives. Avoid the processed foods that contain the unhealthy fats like “Hydrogenated” fats or Trans Fats

Sugar? Starch? Carb? What’s The Difference!

Last week we talked about forms of sugar (words ending -ose) and how they are different or alike. In many cases the sugars broke down to, in at least part, glucose. Glucose is used by your muscles to perform work. Sugars are SIMPLE carbohydrates. COMPLEX carbohydrates are what we call “starches”.

Why Do I CARE??

GLYCOGEN! Glycogen is why you care.

Glycogen is one of TWO forms of energy storage in the body:

1. Glycogen stored in muscle and the liver.

2. Triglycerides (i.e. FAT) stored in adipose tissue.

So, let’s get to the point…Your body can store 1-day’s worth of glycogen. The trick is, your body will use your “one day” stores of glycogen BEFORE relying on the stored energy in your fat cells. Meaning, you MUST exercise off your daily stores before you can mobilize the energy stored in the fat cells. Keep your energy/food intake in check!

Why Complex Carbohydrates Matter

All forms of sugar, and starch, break down into glucose. Starch is a COMPLEX CARB (i.e. 3-10 sugars linked in a long COMPLEX chain) vs sugar being a SIMPLE CARB.

Starch/complex carbs break down slower than simple carbs/sugar. Since complex carbs break down slower, we stay “full” longer. Complex carb examples include peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Stick with complex carbs in your diet vs simple carbs for overall health!

Starch come in the forms of digestible and resistant starch. Digestible starch is quickly turned into fat if we don’t use it right away. Resistant starch doesn’t get digested in the small intestine like digestible starch, instead many types ferment in the large intestine and act like fiber! Resistant starches are not broken down into glucose in the stomach, so they have a lower calorie content, also improve insulin sensitivity/lower our blood sugar levels and keep us full longer (thanks to the slow digestion). Although there are various types of resistant starch, some examples are grains, seeds, legumes, potatoes and unrefined rice.

WAIT: White rice is “refined”, which means it’s been processed, and the fiber has been broken down making it a SIMPLE carb. Brown rice however is a whole grain – fiber intact – so it is a complex carb. Purchase whole grain rice!

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs??

Why are the terms “good carbs” and “bad carbs” floating out there? GOOD carbs can be considered those that not only contain energy/glucose (i.e. refined sugar) but also vitamins and minerals (i.e. vegetables – more bang for your your calorie-buck).

EXERCISE improves how our body moves sugar/glucose into our muscles, eventually causing you to require much less insulin than someone who is physically inactive.

Julia’s Story and Transformation!

Julia’s Story:

I have been asked several times what am I doing? I have been working out at Ellipse Fitness Allouez for two years. I had seen the promotions to join previously and always thought of checking it out but never acted on it.

They had a promotion for 21 days program and I made the call. The day I signed up was the same day that a dear Aunt … Aunt Delores, my mother’s sister, passed away – September 15, 2017. My fun- loving cousin Kathy, Delores daughter, recently joined Ellipse and now we find time to attend kickboxing sessions together.

Fortunately, being older your memory goes so I don’t really remember much about the first few weeks. Of course, I did feel sore and could not believe how unfit I was. But I surprised myself that when the three-week program ended, I decided to keep going.

There were three reasons why I was able to keep going.

First, the members at the 9:00 a.m. session! They were and are very welcoming and supportive of each other. As I attended other times that is true in the other classes, too.

Second reason, the workout sessions are planned out and each day is different bringing challenges and fun. Kickboxing on Thursday is one of my favorite days.

The third and final reason of course on why many members including myself stay are the trainers. Supportive and nonjudgmental are the best words to describe them. You don’t have to be the best at any exercise and that was true for me. You do need to show up and work the best that you can that day and they will help you on your journey to get stronger and more skilled at the exercises.

I had not exercised much other than walking. My weight went up and down over the years. Growing up on a dairy farm I knew I had some muscles in there someplace from carrying those full pails of milk and throwing around bales of hay. Those years were replaced with desk jobs and less and less activity.

Our family history includes heart disease and diabetes along with my own mother’s passing of Ovarian cancer. I have been blessed with only a few health issues which includes two surgeries on my elbow which has developed into arthritis. So, the time seemed right to be more proactive in my own health journey. And that is what it comes down to is time. What you value is where you will spend your time, which includes the time you have to spend with family, friends, faith, volunteer work, exercise or what you think is important.

Once I got past the three weeks of the program, I found myself going 4 days a week and soon it was 5 and sometimes 6 days. The strength workout days do bring challenges for my arm and Cujo and other trainers are great at finding alternatives that work the same muscles.

Along with planned workout days they also have recipes and nutrition advice for weight loss and health. Ellipse trainers keep updated on what is trending in the fitness industry and are constantly educating members through personal tips at each class as well as on their social media outlets.

Since I started, I have lost 57 pounds and 60.5 inches.

I will admit that when I started, I did say to myself many times – “not sure I can do that exercise.” As the time went on and did what I could I began to feel more skilled to try it and continue to add more repetitions as well as weight that I was lifting. I enjoy and feel strong when I do pushups, Trx rows and rope waves.

The 100-workout challenge is a challenge to encourage members to get in the gym the second half of the year. The challenge starts July 1 and ends December 31. Making time to get to class has been a priority in my journey so was pleased to tie with Angie to reach that goal by October 30, 2018.

Another milestone was the four-hour fitness marathon that I completed as part of the Victory over Violence event this past March. Who knew I could or would want to exercise for that long of a timeframe? But I did!

I recently had lunch with a friend that congratulated me on my health accomplishments. She shared this thought with me … “what if you had not done this at this point in your life? Wonder what health issue or illness you averted by making yourself and your health a priority?” Something for all of us to think about.

If you have been on the lookout for a gym or fitness place that can help you reach your health goals and also a place to challenge you and have fun – Ellipse Fitness Allouez is that place. I am not an at home workout person and needed to go to a location for classes, people and motivation.

I am grateful to have found Cujo, Heather, Christine, Bry, Erin, Anna and Corrin. The trainer that I work the most with is Cujo and I am not sure I would have gotten this far without his nonjudgmental approach to fitness and his constant planning alternatives for members who need that to get started or to rehab from a medical injury. That allowed me to say “I can do that” and before I knew it, I was doing more complex moves.

I don’t think I have done anything extra ordinary so am pleasantly surprised that I am an inspiration in my journey. As Cujo and others can attest to I think this is taking me longer to get “there” than I thought it would. What I have found is that even with the ups and downs this is the first time I am confident of keeping the weight off and will continue on getting healthier.

Sugar: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It’s not hard to find SUGAR. It’s in a slew of food and drink products and most often can be found in packaged foods with ingredients ending in the letters -ose like glucose, maltose, dextrose, lactose, fructose, sucrose; it’s all sugar.

Is one better than the other? In the end, all sugars have 4 calories per gram. The differences comes down to any notable nutrients/antioxidants and HOW they affect the body/glycemic load. This week we’re looking a little deeper at what makes each type of sugar different.

Sucrose

Common table sugar (as pictured above). Sucrose contains 50% glucose and 50% fructose. We’ll break each of these down further later on. Sucrose tastes sweeter than glucose but not as sweet as fructose.

Glucose

Glucose comes from the Greek word for “sweet” and contains 1 glucose molecule. Glucose syrup is typically made from breaking down the starch in corn or wheat. Glucose syrup isn’t overly sweet and thus is typically used along with other sweeteners and helps extend the shelf life of products like ice cream [from crystalizing]. Glucose can be metabolized throughout our body, unlike fructose that can only be metabolized by the liver.

Fructose

Although FRUIT is high in fructose, it’s difficult to get excessive amounts from fruit, plus fruit is also very high in FIBER which is nature’s way of balancing it out. Eat fruit, skip the fruit juice (which takes out the fiber)!

If you are a label-reader then you surely have seen “High Fructose Corn Syrup” as a common ingredient that seems to pervade nearly every product on the shelf from ketchup to cookies to cereal. This is concerning because not only is a high intake of fructose bad for your waistline, but it can increase your risk of all sorts of diseases from heart disease to diabetes and even some types of cancer. Check out this link below for a DIY tutorial and you can see first-hand the process involved!
http://www.diyhfcs.mayaweinstein.com/

Maltose

Maltose is made of 2 glucose molecules. Maltose can be found in starchy grains, vegetables, and some fruit. When grains are sprouted in water and then dried, the enzymes in the grains release maltose. You can find it in brewing stores since it is an important part of brewing beer and whiskey. Maltose can also be sold as crystals or syrup, for baking or sweetener.

“Malted” cereals use malted grains to create the natural sweetness. The calories in maltose is equivalent to other sugars, but the potential benefit of maltose over other sugars is that it does not contain any fructose, which can be more harmful in large quantities.

Check out this video to see how malt syrup can be made!

Brown Rice Syrup

Similar to maltose, this is made by soaking, fermenting, and boiling down rice. Brown rice syrup contains 45% maltose (2 glucose molecules), 3% glucose (1 glucose molecule), and 52% maltotriose (3 glucose molecules). This actually puts the glycemic index HIGHER than table sugar. ALSO, arsenic is a toxic chemical known to be found in rice. Boiling rice down into a syrup compounds the amount of potential arsenic. Even though scientific research is limited, choosing fewer items with brown rice syrup may be in your best interest.

Molasses

This syrup is boiled down from refined raw cane sugar or sugar beet juice. The crystals from the boiling process are removed, leaving molasses.

FYI: Blackstrap molasses is when the syrup has been boiled a THIRD time. Each boiling of a sugar produces a different type of molasses. Molasses may be seen as slightly better than “table sugar” since it does contains some nutrients and antioxidants, but essentially…sugar is sugar.

Well alright, there was a lot more “Bad” and “Ugly” than there was good, but at least now you are equipped with knowledge of these different types of sugars and can prepare yourself to read those labels and make more educated decisions!

Make the Most of The Late Summer Harvest!

Summer is almost over but there’s still plenty of vegetables that are still being harvested or still need to be harvested. Late Summer Harvests include vegetables like onions, potatoes, garlic, shallots, leeks, cabbages, celery, eggplant, peppers, pumpkins and winter squash! This week we will be talking about recipes to go with the late summer harvest!

Celery

Grab some celery from your local farmer’s market or CSA and appreciate it since celery can be a little tough to grow…it isn’t greatly tolerant to heat or cold or drought. This finicky plant is great for cooking, salads, and more though. Plus, it boasts wonderful health benefits like reducing inflammation, aiding in digestion, and helping to alkalize our often highly acid diets.

Bell Peppers

Harvested in late summer, they are a member of the nightshade family which is the same family as tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes (but not sweet potatoes!). Some people have sensitivities to nightshade produce that may experience gas, joint inflammation, headaches, and more. BUT, if you don’t have sensitivities they are also high in vitamins and antioxidants including a boatload of vitamin C. Red peppers pack the most nutrition since they have been on the vine the longest. TIP: All bell peppers start out green then change to yellow or orange before ripening to red.

Leeks

Leek’s are good at holding onto grit, so let’s talk prep! The tops will look darker than the rest. Cut the darkest part off and compost those or save for soup stock. Next cut off root (the fuzzy stuff at the bottom). The stem can be cut into rings or chiffonade (thin strips). Rinse the cuttings in a colander to get any grit out. TIP: Like onions and garlic let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking.
Leeks can be tossed into pot roast, added to a pan of roasted vegetables, tossed into soups, added to a green salad, or tossed with cooked green beans to add a new flavor. Check out this link for a Salmon and Leek Dish!

Eggplant

A relative of the tomato, can be healthy when prepped in less “heavy” ways than the traditional eggplant parmesan. Eggplant is a non-starchy vegetable that can be grilled, roasted, stewed, breaded, or sautéed and can be used in many different types of recipes. Often used as a meat substitute in dishes like lasagna, it packs a meaty texture with its higher fiber content. Not sure where to start? Try this grilled eggplant and yogurt dip recipe! Just serve with pita chips or vegetables and you’re all set for your next dish to pass!

Garlic

Garlic is a perennial that grows in spring and is ready for harvest in the late summer. It is ready for harvest when the bottom two leaves turn brown. Garlic needs to be cured/dried out for about 2 weeks (like on a covered porch) before using. Rumor has it, the number of leaves on the stem will tell you how many cloves of garlic you will have! Garlic has a laundry list of health benefits, so make sure to include it in your regular recipes. Not used to using raw garlic? Just buy a garlic press and it is easier than you can imagine to mince your own garlic. BONUS: Although you probably run into vampires, garlic repels mosquitoes too!

Squash

If you are not a squash fan, odds are you just haven’t tried the right one or had it prepared in your tastes! Squash come in many varieties, textures, and flavors. Load up on different winter squash at your local farmer’s market since they can store for months in a cool dry area. Spaghetti squash are super easy to grow and can be microwaved or baked to produce strings/”noodles” that are tasty just with a little butter and salt, combined with spaghetti sauce, or added into a variety of recipes. Other squash can be roasted, pureed for sauces, and even cubed and frozen for later use. Follow this link for a Squash Breakdown!

What’s The BIG Deal With “Macros”?

If you’ve been around a bodybuilder, you’ve likely heard them talking about getting their “macros” in. Balancing your macronutrients is honestly just another way to look at food consumption, just like any other approach such as Whole 30, Precision Nutrition’s hand/palm/fist/thumb approach, or any other.

If you haven’t found an approach that works well for you yet, maybe macro dieting is the method right for you! Macro dieting/Flexible Dieting can help with portion control as well as more balanced nutrient intake and paying more attention to processed food intake. As with most approaches, finding the right balance will help with energy levels, cravings, and even quality of sleep and workouts.

What ARE Macros?

The three MACROnutrient categories are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Speaking in terms of calories, carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram. Is a macro the same as a vitamin or mineral? No, vitamins and minerals are MICROnutrients which are also very important! Your body needs less of them (hence the word micro) but they are vitamins and minerals needed for immune function, blood clotting, bone health, growth, and so much more!

How Much Should I Eat?

Macros are based on your height, weight, age, activity level, and goals. For example, a 150-pound, 5’ 5” female who is moderately active and wants to have a steady weight loss would be around 1700 calories per day broken down to a pretty typical 40/30/30 ratio: 40% carbs at 170g, 30% protein at 124g, and 30% fat at 56g.

You can find your own macro calculator here:
https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator

NOTE: Calculators are not perfect or right for everyone. A more accurate calculation would calculate based only on LEAN tissue since body fat % plays a roll in the energy needs of the body.

Carbohydrates

*Gasp* Carbohydrates ARE needed for energy. Carbohydrates also tend to be where we consume the micronutrients we need in our diet. Whole foods are the best source for carbohydrates because they will pack more fiber. Fiber is the part of carbohydrates that reduce our risk for disease, improve digestion, etc. Optimally, women should obtain at least 35g of fiber per day and men, 48g.

Fat and Protein

Fats give us energy, support cell growth, and aid in the absorption of vitamins and nutrients (our BRAINS are fat-based! So the next time someone calls you “Fathead” perhaps a “Thank You!” is in order).

Mix up the types of fat you eat to get a balance of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats.

Proteins are the building blocks of our muscle (and most the rest of our body for that matter). A very lean protein is a protein with 1g of fat or less per ounce. Lean protein is 1g-3g per ounce. When looking at your labels, first determine how many ounces you are looking at like a 3-ounce fillet of beef/chicken/pork/fish. If your 3-ounce fillet has 9g or less of fat, you have a lean cut of protein.

Keep in mind that any strict form of eating may not be suitable with a history of disordered eating. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any major changes in the way you eat and be aware of any interactions with medications. Like most healthy ways of eating, eating your macros will come in the form of eating every 3-4 hours, choosing whole foods, and eating your vegetables! In the end, eat mostly plant-based foods and find the system that works best for your lifestyle and goals, and you will likely see success!

Interested in more reading? Check this out:
https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/macro-diet-counting-macros-weight-loss-better-nutrition