Instead of Subtracting, Try Adding!

Regarding nutrition, we, humans, tend to simplify what is an incredible complex problem, that of obesity.
As a result, it seems to me, we are now in dire straights (an elegant way to say we are in deep…. shhhhht.¬† ūüôā

pexels-photo-207153 (1)
Source: pixabay.com

A lot too many scientific studies in nutrition are in a way “fake”.
I distrust statistics, particularly those based on questionnaires. I’ve completed myself such questionnaires, thinking I’m honest and then, after keeping a journal for a while, I’ve discovered that I’ve been honest only in my mind.
Many studies are based on small sets of people, with a limited number of parameters and on a very short time. They usually end with an honest “we’ve noticed this and that but more research is needed”. Only problem, is that media or commercial diets or other interested parties¬†present these observations as super scientific results.

Most recommendations nowadays seem to me to be so simplistic!
“Eat less” mantra has been replaced by all kind of restrictions, like “eat low carb”, “eat high fat, low carb”, “fast for 2 days a week”, “eat only veggies”, “give up¬† sugar”,”eat only low fat dairy” and so on.

Been there, seen that. Along the last 20 years, I’ve given up sugar, limited saturated fats, been for 2 weeks on a “no carb diet”, been fasting, been on a 1600 kcal diet for some time, been on a diet high in protein, with less carbs, more veggies for months, ate no bread for more than a month, been exercising a.s.o.
I’ve got ridden of more than 20 pounds, put back half of them and now I’m on a plateau and struggling not to put on. And honestly,¬†I’m getting tired of all this nutrition bruhahaha.

However, some research, even if limited,  is worth taking a second look at and some results are good food for thought.
And I do trust chemistry and biology established facts, like what you see in chemical reactions and with a microscope. Scientific facts, not mere statistics.

I’m fond of an idea (someone smarter than me got it, I’m sorry I don’t remember who, maybe Mike Polan). Instead of subtracting, try adding!
Add more good food in your life, like organic food, vegetables, fruits but also fish, quality diary and cheese, eggs, home cooked recipes. Add more interesting activities, physical but not only.

You can do some science yourself. Keep a journal, note the essential at least. Calories, portions, carbs, protein and fat, energy density, your exercises and from time to time your weight, waist, glicemia and blood pressure. Right now, online tools, like that MyFitnessPal, a good wi-fi scale and a pedometer make it so easy!
Review this journal, from time to time. Try to know yourself better.

pexels-photo-264537.jpeg
Source: pixabay.com


Checklist

  • Don’t accept easily scientific studies results, check any result from more studies and for a longer time.
  • Distrust media, always review the original study.
  • Avoid the simplistic solutions, especially those that “subtract” a food group from your diet.
  • Do some science yourself. Keep a journal, note the essential at least.¬†Review from time to time your journal, looking for “patterns”, trying to understand better the relation between your lifestyle and your body.
  • Instead of subtracting, try adding!
    Add more goodies in your life, like organic food, vegetables, fruits but also fish, quality dairy and cheese, eggs, home cooked recipes. Add more interesting  activities, physical but not only.
staniel-cay-swimming-pig-seagull-fish-66258.jpeg
Source: pixabay.com

Some  interesting studies
They might give you some ideas, worth to try, while keeping a journal.

Slow eating speed may be linked to weight loss

Slowing down the speed at which you eat, along with cutting out after dinner snacks and not eating within 2 hours of going to sleep may all help to shed the pounds, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Eating less not the best way to lose weight, study shows

By Ana Sandoiu, 1918, Medical News Today

‚ÄúThe results show that choosing healthy, lower-calorie-dense foods was more effective and more sustainable than just trying to resist large portions of higher calorie options. If you choose high-calorie-dense foods but restrict the amount that you‚Äôre eating, portions will be too small, and you‚Äôre likely to get hungry,‚ÄĚ Zuraikat goes on.

Barbara Rolls, a professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State and a co-author on the study, also  chimes in.
‚ÄúThe study supports the idea that eating less of the higher-calorie-dense foods and more of the nutritious, lower-calorie-dense foods can help to manage hunger while consuming fewer calories. You still have a full plate,‚ÄĚ she adds, ‚Äúbut you‚Äôre changing the proportions of the different types of foods.‚ÄĚ

PREDIMED Study

The PREDIMED (PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea) multicenter, randomized, primary prevention trial assessed the long-term effects of the Mediterranean diet (MeDiet) on clinical events of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Polyphenol Levels Are Inversely Correlated with Body Weight and Obesity in an Elderly Population after 5 Years of Follow Up (The Randomised PREDIMED Study)

A greater polyphenol intake may thus contribute to reducing body weight in elderly people at high cardiovascular risk.

Note.  The most important food sources are fruit and vegetables, green tea, black tea, red wine, coffee, chocolate, olives, and extra virgin olive oil. Herbs and spices, nuts and algae are also potentially significant for supplying certain polyphenols. Some polyphenols are specific to particular food (flavanones in citrus fruit, isoflavones in soya, phloridzin in apples); whereas others, such as quercetin, are found in all plant products such as fruit, vegetables, cereals, leguminous plants, tea, and wine.

Yogurt consumption and abdominal obesity reversion in the PREDIMED study.

Total yogurt consumption was not significantly associated with reversion of abdominal obesity status and a lower waist circumference. However, consumption of whole-fat yogurt was associated with changes in waist circumference and higher probability for reversion of abdominal obesity. Therefore, it seems that whole-fat yogurt has more beneficial effects in management of abdominal obesity in elderly population at high cardiovascular risk.

pexels-photo-209460.jpeg

 

Diet Yes, Uncompromising No

via Daily Prompt: Uncompromising

A lot of common sense is necessary when reading nutrition and diet information and one should double check all with reliable sources. Especially if you’re not a nutritionist or doctor ( I’m not),¬† one might have it all wrong.
And, who said this, Mark Twain maybe:
“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint”.
You have to keep an open mind but sometimes it’s hard to¬† have a dialogue with uncompromising people, be they doctors, nutritionists or their followers.

Some have made kind of a religion out of their diet and when it comes to religion, one must be very careful, you won’t like being labeled the bad witch and “be executed”.

I guess on fashion are now¬† the Vegans and Ketogenic Dieters. Some are even “aggressive” on the net. Just go to one of their forum, try to tell them in a sensible way that you don’t agree with this or that and see what happens.

I haven’t realized that Ketogenic Diet has become such a religion and humbly commented on a page that I think it’s quite dangerous for my old age.
I kind of know this from my own experience, I’ve tried a week without carbs and my heart told me to stop.
I’m right now “fighting” with a commercial Ketogenic Diet page, which is¬† bombarding me with stupid messages trying to prove me I’m wrong. It’s worse than a virus. Some of the persons sending me these messages seem to be “fake”. I’ve given up, unfollowed,¬† deleted my message on their page and hope this will be enough.

Meanwhile, though I used to think that any diet had something good, even the cabbage soup one, I’ve recently became quite uncompromising myself¬† with such extreme diets.

I won’t comment on Ketogenic Diet other than I guess that, like all low-carb diets in the past, it cannot last for life, at least not for most people. After going back to normal, in less than 2 years you will put back all you’ve lost and more. The best you can hope for is to keep your kidneys and heart healthy.

With Veganism, it’s a bit more complicated.¬† It’s… how shall I put it,¬† so politically correct, such nice and noble ideas at first glance…
They want to change the world for better but can the whole world afford to be so noble?
We are omnivore and there are nutrients that we cannot find in plants or we find them easier and more affordable in  animal products. Not to mention the Arctic People or poor mountain people, what are they supposed to eat?
Strangely enough, being omnivore might help Nature in fact, just think about it.

Sometimes it’s pure economics, you simply cannot afford to be a Vegan and stay¬† healthy. But most Vegans will not accept this idea nor will they make concessions.

I myself prefer the traditional moderate approach in my country.
Be Vegan on Fridays, eat fish instead of meat at least one day a week, fast from time to time, like in Spring before Eastern or in Winter, before Christmas.
Eat “lighter” on Summer, mostly veggies, fruits, cheese, eggs, dairy and poultry.
Not too strict though,¬†uncompromising¬† it’s not for me.

The Romanian veggie recipes are so delicious and today is my “Vegan” day.
I  will eat zakuska, hummus and home made jam at breakfast, beans soup at lunch, a fruit salad, an umami pilaf for dinner. One of the Winter salads will be on my table, for sure.
But on weekend, it’s barbecue!

pexels-photo-533325.jpeg
Source: pixabay.com

 

Calories, How Much?

I’m rethinking my whole lifestyle and, of course, there is this question begging for a scientific¬† answer: “How much should I eat not to get fat anymore?”
And the next question would be “How much from carbs, protein and fat?”

First of all, I’ll get rid of what did not work in the past:

  • Eating less. Nope, didn’t work for me. I have been eating 200 – 400 less than what was recommended for me, plus exercising, and still couldn’t get rid of surplus pounds.
    It seems sometimes my body has a mind of its own “Aha, this poor lady is in danger of starving, let’s make some more fat deposits“.
    My question is “How many calories should I eat to stay healthy?” and not “How many calories should I eat to lose weight?”
  • Eating more than 50% of calories from carbs. Nope, this is not going to happen to me anymore. Some carbs are spiking my blood sugar, I’ve done some simple tests with the aid of a glucometer. And, my journal tells me more than 4 portions of bread or other starches a day,¬† do fatten me. So does sugar. If you don’t eat lots of starches, only 2-3 portions a fruit a day and almost no sugar, having more than 50% of calories from carbs is quite difficult.
  • Eating low carb, low fat dairy, low fat, low anything. I’ve been there, tried that.
    Full fat dairy doesn’t fatten me, it’s proved. Low carb make me feel so miserable, no energy, feeling like an old dirty bag, I won’t even think of trying it once again.
    Low fat? Nope, limited yes, but not low. I like too much my whole fat dairy, my sofrito sauce, my avocado and my olive oil salad dressing and it seems science is on my side this time.
    I’m not saying that these diets won’t work. I’m saying that they didn’t work for me on a long term. And let’s be honest, we don’t know their effects on a long term, if somehow one manages to follow them a long, long way.
  • Any restriction that will make me hungry won’t work. But fasting, the Romanian traditional way, deserves a second look. I’ll deal with this later, not now.

Next, I need some serious advice or, maybe, a trusted tool to calculate how much I need to eat to survive, do my daily chores, exercise a.so.
I’ll cross-check¬† the number of calories obtained with the figures recommended by a trusted¬† health organisation or site.

The best method of assessing the basic energy needs, those necessary for my body to function when resting,¬† is in a metabolic lab through the doubly-labelled water technique. Maybe one day I’ll have access to this method but for the moment all I have are some formulas, supposed to be quite good.
Like the The Cunningham Formula (Resting Metabolic Rate RMR):

RMR = 500 + (22 x LBM) where LBM = lean body mass in Kg

All you need is a good scale to tell you how much fat you have in your body.
Some refer to this formula as the Basic Metabolic Rate or BMR.
I’m not so sure how accurate is this formula, as far as I know,¬† fat cells do need also some energy for daily chemical reactions.

To this BMR I have to add the calories for my daily activities and here comes trouble.

How much calories do I spend in my daily activities? Almost impossible to tell, I’m not a robot, I’m not either a fitness freak. Some days I do exercise more, or do heavy housework, other days I spend mostly in front of a computer with just half an hour walk.

Here’s another nice formula I’ve found on the net and I wonder what can I make of it:

Daily energy requirement = BMR + thermic effect of food + NEAT

The thermic effect of food¬†is the¬† energy we spend for digestion, absorption, and disposal of¬†the food we eat.¬†A commonly used estimate of the thermic effect of food is about 10% of one’s¬†caloric¬†intake, though it varies substantially for different foods or nutrients. For example,¬†dietary fat¬†is very easy to process and has very little thermic effect (may be as low as 5%), while¬†protein¬†is hard to process and has a much larger thermic effect, up to 35%. You’d better read more in Wikipedia, quite an interesting subject
For the moment, I’ll stick to the 10% figure. This means that if I eat 2000 kcal a day, 200 Kcal will be burned by the body just processing my food.

NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.  This is the energy we need each day for non-exercise daily activities.

Move a Little, Lose a Lot: New N.E.A.T. Science Reveals How to Be Thinner, Happier, and Smarter by [Levine Md, James, Selene Yeager]
See this book on Amazon
According to Dr. James Levine, the Mayo Clinic researcher who is currently studying this phenomenon, NEAT can vary between two people of similar size by up to 2,000 calories a day. One study that measured NEAT in lean and obese people, all of whom were sedentary and had similar jobs, found that lean people stood or walked more than two hours longer each day than obese people.

If I take this very seriously, it means that maybe not only my slow metabolism might be a cause for my weight problems, but also my “slow” NEAT.

 

I’ve attempted to calculate my¬†daily energy requirement with the aid of this book “Move a little, Lose a lot” by James A Levine and the site¬†calorielab.com

Somehow I’ve obtained a total of 2300 kCal, exercises not included, of course, nor the “hard working” house chores (see on¬†calorielab.com¬†how many calories¬†these might burn)
I’m amazed because up till now I’ve been striving to stay between 1800¬† – 2000 kcal, recommended by other sites and diets. This has been the calories number for me, for losing weight. It hasn’t work so far but I haven’t get fatter either. I’m stuck on a plateau.

I’m not sure what to do with my new calorie total.¬†I can do it easily but… isn’t it too much? I don’t know what science is behind this number and most probably it is not accurate.
I won’t lose more time on this, I’ll start with a bit less, 2200, because webmd¬†is recommending this number of calories for my sex and age (I’ve had a lot of good advice from them). However, I won’t eat all of the 2200 kCal¬† unless hungry. If after increasing my daily calories, the scale will start to show more, I’ll simply adjust this number.
While it’s so hard to get rid of surplus pounds, one can very quickly put on so it’ll be easy to spot if I’m eating too much.

I’d better focus¬† on improving gradually my NEAT. I’ll start with finding activities that burn more calories than just sitting and watching TV or using the computer.
And I’ll keep in mind what I’ve already discovered, that what I eat is more important than how much I eat.

Checklist

  • Get rid of what did not work in the past. Like, eating less, eating low fat, eating low carb a.s.o.
  • Find your basic energy needs. You need a performant scale for this or access to a metabolic lab.
  • If you’ve chosen to calculate yourself your BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate), you can use the Cunningham formula:
    BMR = 500 + (22 x LBM) where LBM = lean body mass in Kg
  • The thermic effect of food¬†is the¬† energy we spend for digestion, absorption, and disposal of¬†the food we eat.¬†A commonly used estimate of the thermic effect of food is about 10% of one’s¬†caloric¬†intake
  • Calculate NEAT, The¬†Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the energy we need each day for non-exercise daily activities. You’ll find the calories needed for various daily activities on this site¬†calorielab.com
  • Calculate your Daily energy requirement, using this formula
    Daily energy requirement = BMR + thermic effect of food + NEAT
  • On the days you exercise, add the calories needed for each type of exercise. You can find them here¬†calorielab.com
  • Review the calorie number obtained by cross-checking with the figures provided by health organisations or trusted sites.
  • You might consider keeping¬† a journal and reviewing this calorie limit weekly. Adjust if necessary.
  • More important,¬†improve your NEAT. Find more daily activities to keep you moving.
    Also, keep in mind that what you eat is more important than how much you eat.

The Science Behind

The Science of Why Caloric Restriction Fails

Dr. Jason Fung – Nephrologist, 2017, Better Humans Coach

Our body acts much more like a thermostat. That is, the body seems to have a certain Body Set Weight (BSW). Any attempts to increase above this BSW will result in our body trying to return to its original weight by increasing TEE (increasing metabolism to burn off the excess calories).
Any attempts to decrease below this BSW will result in our body trying to return to its original weight by decreasing TEE (decreasing metabolism to regain lost calories). No wonder it is so hard to keep the weight off! As we slow our metabolism, we must further and further reduce our caloric intake to maintain weight loss.

The truth about low-fat foods

By Kerry Torrens РNutritional therapist, 2016, BBC Good Food

Certain fats, like those in nuts, seeds and oily varieties of fish provide essential fatty acids (including the omega-3 variety). These essential fats are important for maintaining healthy blood vessels, making hormones and for the correct functioning of our nervous system. The fat in our diet also helps us absorb certain vitamins, the fat-soluble ones, which include A, D, E and K. Following a very low-fat diet makes you more likely to be low in these vitamins and that can impact your immunity, limit the body’s ability to heal itself and have an influence on bone health.

Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you?

By Marcelo Campos, MD, 2017, Health Harvard

A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it‚Äôs so hard to stick with that people can‚Äôt eat this way for a long time. It is also important to remember that ‚Äúyo-yo diets‚ÄĚ that lead to rapid weight loss fluctuation are associated with increased mortality. Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months (for most people that includes a ketogenic diet), try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term. A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.

Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?

By James Vlahos, 2011, New York Times Magazine

Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. ‚ÄúExcessive sitting,‚ÄĚ Dr. Levine says, ‚Äúis a lethal activity.‚ÄĚ
Working late one night at 3 a.m., Dr. Levine coined a name for the concept of reaping major benefits through thousands of minor movements each day: NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. In the world of NEAT, even the littlest stuff matters.

Eating less not the best way to lose weight, study shows

By Ana Sandoiu, 1918, Medical News Today

“The results show that choosing healthy, lower-calorie-dense foods was more effective and more sustainable than just trying to resist large portions of higher calorie options. If you choose high-calorie-dense foods but restrict the amount that you’re eating, portions will be too small, and you’re likely to get hungry,” Zuraikat goes on.

Barbara Rolls, a professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State and a co-author on the study, also  chimes in.
“The study supports the idea that eating less of the higher-calorie-dense foods and more of the nutritious, lower-calorie-dense foods can help to manage hunger while consuming fewer calories. You still have a full plate,” she adds, “but you’re changing the proportions of the different types of foods.”

 

P1270299.JPG
Photo Emilia Dragne

 

Walking the Calories

It’s Sunday, it’s late morning and it’s raining a lot but my feet are telling me they feel like walking in the nearby beautiful park. Walking in the rain? Why not, I have an umbrella. The fresh hot coffee afterwards makes me already smile. Also, the thought that I’ll burn some of those nasty calories I managed to eat the evening before.

When I started the difficult road from fat to fit, I was in an extremely bad shape and was sure I didn’t had the time or mindset or anything in my power to exercise.

And…I was convinced exercising is useless in a diet. “Just eat less”.
And… I find jogging, aerobic and other “extreme” fitness chores even now boring. Sorry folks, I can’t help it.Then I’ve stumbled upon some interesting and useful science items on the net.
To make a long story short, you don’t need extreme fitness (although if you do it, bravo for you).¬†Just walking for at least half an hour can help a lot.
But you have to do it every day. No use walking only in weekends. Walking every day is not an easy thing to do in the beginning if you are a computer or TV freak, if you have a very busy office life or if you have quite a lot of excess fat (a nice way to say you’re really too fat to move easily).
Sometimes you need outside help, like a friends group or a forum to keep you moving.
Some forums are very supportive, excellent ideas and a lot of advice.  Try, for example, http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/categories.
Just walking might be boring,¬†if you don’t have some friends to walk with. Here comes technology to the rescue. Try any mobile device with music, audio books or radio programmes.
Investing in a pedometer has been one of my best ideas so far. I’ve started very low, less than 2000 steps a day and increased the number from week to week.
I love my little green fitbit froggy but any other pedometer will do.
Photo Emilia Dragne

In my experience walking is good for your feet and brain but it’s not enough for your body. ¬†You need more to feel fit and wit and you need to build some muscle.
A bit of gymnastics will come naturally. Simple exercises like cycling now and then on a static bicycle, some exercises with small weights. Any kind of physical activity will do, in fact, including dancing, cleaning your house, shopping, gardening etc.
A sport, any sport, will do wonders for your body.
I’ve ¬†been lucky that I’m a nut about swimming. Must have been a duck in a previous life. I’ve enrolled in a swimming club (not easy to find and quite expensive in Bucharest but cheaper than doctors and medicine).
From time to time I  manage to find some pond, lake or sea to swim a whole day long.

A few days ago, I’ve analyzed the data in my daily journal.
Such a journal is extremely useful for your diet. Besides controlling better what you eat and drink, it’s vital to look from time to time at historic data. They can tell a lot, even ¬†if you don’t ¬†have the basic knowledge of statistics and Excel.
For example, my journal  shows that the best recipe in a month to put a pound on is to eat a bit more, whatever healthy food,  while exercising too little or at all.
Calories do matter, take them for a walk.

Checklist

  • Start walking. Start with 20 minutes every other day and increase this from week to week.¬†
  • Try to find a community of people helping each other to become fit to support you: a forum on the net, friends, relatives, a club, a team.
  • Put technology to work and invest in a mobile device with music or audio books or radio.
  • Invest also in a pedometer (step counter) device.¬†
  • Find other opportunities of physical activity, even if this means just cleaning your house or shopping.
  • Try to find a sport you can afford and enjoy.
  • Aim for at least 90 minutes daily of physical activity.
  • On days you eat or drink more than you’d need to (like a party or some emotional burst for ex.) ¬†try to exercise a lot more. Dance, swim, walk as much as possible a.s.o. A couple of days will do the trick and bring you back on the path.
  • Keep a “diet journal” and review it from time to tome.
Photo Emilia Dragne

 

The Science behind all these

Is diet or exercise more important in combating obesity?
“Diet and exercise has the same importance if you are trying to lose weight.
Research shows physical exercise on its own or diet on its own is not an effective weight
loss strategy, they need to be combined. Weight loss will only be achieved if energy input
(food and drink) is lower than the total energy expenditure ( activity of daily life and physical
activity). Research shows that to lose weight you need to exercise more than 60-90
minutes/day at moderate intensity if energy ( food and drink) intake is not modified.”

Epigenetic Changes to Fat Cells Following Exercise
The cells of the body contain DNA, which contains genes. We inherit our genes and they cannot be changed. The genes, however, have ‘methyl groups’ attached which affect what is known as ‘gene expression’ — whether the genes are activated or deactivated. The methyl groups can be influenced in various ways, through exercise, diet and lifestyle, in a process known as ‘DNA methylation’. This is epigenetics, a relatively new research field that in recent years has attracted more and more attention.

All Fat Is Not Bad: Study Shows Exercise Creates “Good Fat”
“Our work provides greater motivation than ever to get out there and exercise,” Stanford
said.
These studies suggest that even if you’re not losing weight, exercise is still training your fat¬†to be more metabolically active; even if you don’t see the results on the scale, you are still improving your overall metabolism and therefore your health.

Long, Low Intensity Exercise May Have More Health Benefits Relative to Short, Intense Workouts
Standing and walking for longer stretches improves insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels more than an hour of intense exercise each day does, but only if the calories spent in both forms of exercise are similar.

A Dash for Mediterranean Lifestyle

Maybe you’ve read about the Mediterranean Diet and Dash Diet, the healthiest diets for this year.

Mediterranean Lifestyle, there’s nothing more I would like for my healthy life.
Lots of fish, veggies and fruits, olive oil, yogurt and a good cheese now and them. A nice blue sea to swim, a good wine and more leisure in my life. Sitting with family and friends at lunch….Sounds like a holiday.
But… can you do it like this? Nope, not unless you’re very rich or live on the Mediterranean Seaside. I’m not.
What about the DASH lifestyle? Well, this I can do and actually did.
And…it didn’ t work for me, no lost pounds, not feeling better either.

However I need some diet rules, I need to know the “when and what and how much”.
The diet which I’ve adopted a long time ago and I’m adapting all the time, The South Beach Diet,¬† has been good enough to stop me from putting on.
But it seems I’m on a plateau, and honestly, a bit tired of dieting..

Most of the days, my diet is nowadays something like this:
Breakfast: 1 portion proteins (including diary), 1 portion carbs, 1 portion veggies, between 400 – 500 kCal
Lunch: a soup (veggies and/ or meat or beans), 1 portion proteins (meat, beans, diary or cheese), 1-2 portion veggies, 1 fruit, 1 portion carbs, between 600 – 800 kcal.
Five o’clock snack:¬† 1 fruit, 1 whole fat diary, 1 portion carbs, around 300 kcal
Dinner: 1 portion protein (meat, beans, cheese, diary), 1 veggie or a fruit, 1 portion carbs maybe. Between 300 – 500 Kcal week.

One fasting day a week (no animal products) and one fish day a week.
At least twice a week a tomato sauce.
Trying hard to exercise more, at least 2 hours, plus 2-3 hours a day standing, doing some house working or walking.

I need fresh ideas, some changes in my lifestyle. I’d take a closer look at what are considered now “the best diets”.

The DASH Diet

f761bb8e30e46feb90f773db84cb8696
Source: http://www.theginamiller.com/2016/01/the-best-diet-of-2016-dash-diet-tops-the-list.html

There is no meal plan on the DASH Diet, actually. And it’s a lot more than I’ve ever had. This seems to me a fattening diet, honestly.¬† And one can easily build a most unhealthy menu. Like drinking daily 2-3 cups of fruit juice, eating almost daily 2 tbsps of peanut butter, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp of mayo, 1 stake,¬†8 slices of bread,¬† 1 cup of dried fruits, several portions of potatoes (considered ordinary vegetables?!) a.s.o.
No wonder this didn’t work for me.¬†More than 2 carb portions at a meal tend to spike my blood sugar, especially if I start my meal with carbs.
Plus, it seems to me it’s a bit outdated.
Eating low-fat diary? Eating less eggs because they have cholesterol? Nope, I don’t think so.
Anyway, I eat a lot more veggies, a veggie portion for me is 200g, a lot more than DASH veggie portions.
One good idea in this diet is to limit salt, which I already do. Nothing new.

Mediterranean Diet

Let’s take a closer look at the Mediterranean Diet.
Actually what we are being told in so many studies and articles is that¬†it’s¬†high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil and low on meats and diary.
Is it so?

Here is The Mediterranean {Pyramid of Greece

greecemeditdiet_eufic
Source: https://www.thedailymeal.com/travel/food-pyramids-around-world-slideshow/slide-4

And you might want to answer the Predimed Questionnaire of adherence to a Spanish Mediterranean Diet:

p14_meddiet_english_version
Source: http://www.predimed.es

 

I don’t see any¬†“dont’s” on diary, eggs, cheese in these presentations.¬† And going to Greece, Spain, France, there are high chances you will eat lots of cheese and whole fat yogurt.

pexels-photo-688663
Photo by Dana Tentis from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/strawberry-cheesecake-688663/

Principles are fine, research is on the Mediterranean side. Still, there’s no meal plan, no calories limit, one can easily get fat with this “diet” too.

Take-Out

Actually these are not diets for weight loss, rather general principles for a healthy life.
So what am I gone do?

For the moment I’ll stick to my diet, which I’ve been building for several years now.
It seems I’ve already adopted most of the Mediterranean Diet principles and I eat less salt than anyone in my friends and family circle.

What I’m going to change a bit is the “what”: the ingredients and the recipes.
Instead of¬† subtracting, I’ll enrich my diet with recipes of the Mediterranean Cuisine.
Yumi!

pexels-photo-725997.jpeg
Photo by Dana Tentis from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/cooked-shrimp-with-noodles-725997/

 

 

 

 

Nature’s Vitamin and Mineral Pills

4447913_s (1)

I won’t bore you with¬†the vitamin and mineral supplements theory, it’s up to you to have them or not and there’s plenty to read¬† about on the net on this subject.
Instead, I would like to present you a few of the¬†“nature’s wonder pills”.
The kind of food with so many nutrients packed in a small quantity.
So healthy and tasty,  one should enjoy them quite often.

 PEANUTS

Peanuts provide over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients. They’re a good source of many vitamins and minerals and contain 25% protein.
Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than carrots or beets. Natural sources of fiber and with a very low glycaemic index, they have also the reputation to lower LDL cholesterol.
They are filling,  meaning hunger is tamed for much longer, and therefore fewer calories are consumed in the long-run.

animal-squirrel-sciurus-bird
Source: pixabay.com

 

But‚Ķ there‚Äôs always a ‚Äúbut‚ÄĚ with good food, isn‚Äôt it?
One serving of peanuts should be only a small handful or 2 tbsp of peanut butter.
This means around 200 Kcal. More than that is quite a lot!

RASPBERRIES

Rasberries are included by many among the world’ s healthiest foods. They have a low-glycemic index (so they fill well) and contain among the highest proportion of dietary fiber (20% fiber per total weight).

pexels-photo-221100.jpeg
Source: pixabay.com

A portion of raspberries, a bowl, will bring you half of the Vitamin C needed. Raspberries contain a phytochemical, ellagic acid, believed to have anticancer properties.
New research rave about raspberries ketones, stating they’re able to block fat and carbs from being turned into extra pounds.
But don’t rush to buy ketone pills, which might be dangerous to your health, better eat the fruit.
If you buy frozen berries, look at the label and make sure sugar and additives are not added.

All in all, berries are a great source of antioxidants and should be a part of your recommended daily fruit portions as often as possible.
Try them with yogurt or kefir or cream, best dessert ever.

pexels-photo-357586.jpeg
Source: pixabay.com

POP-CORN

pexels-photo.jpg

Pop-corn is naturally high in fiber, minerals and antioxidants, low in calories and free of sugar.
A nice snack, provided you take care what brand you choose.
Sometimes large amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium are added which change it to junk food. Read the label before buying.

And keep this in mind: no¬†more than a bowl, when you’re on diet.

 

 

BEANS

No diet can be imagined without the “magic” beans.
Beans are high in folate, potassium, magnesium and iron.
A serving of beans will help you feel full more quickly, because the rich fiber content fills your stomach and causes a slower rise in blood sugar. That should keep off hunger longer and give you a steady supply of energy.

pexels-photo-89236.jpg
Photo by Ela Haney from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-red-beans-hot-89236/

Beans come with a nasty side effect, an embarrassing flatulence.
You can reduce this a lot through several cooking techniques:
РChange the water several times during the soaking and cooking process
– After soaking them overnight, change the water, rinse them well.
– Boil them on high heat in lots of water for 10 minutes and through away the resulting liquid. If you have sensible guts, repeat this.
– Combine the beans with legumes like carrots, celeriac and celery, bell peppers and especially tomatoes.
– Add herbs and spices, like thyme and caraway
– Eat them with toast, raw onion or leek and a pickle.
– Drink a small glass of liquor.

Don’t eat too much, they’re also packed with calories.
100 g cooked beans might bring you as much as 300 kcal.

Here’s one delicious quick recipe:

Tuna and Red Beans Salad
Put in a bowl some canned tuna fish, olive oil, scallion or leek cut in 1 inch chunks, a tbsp lemon juice or vinegar.¬†Add a can of red beans or a can of chickpeas, drained and rinced. Toss gently. That’s all folks, enjoy.

And don’t forget, Nature’s pills are more effective if you keep moving!

4447910_s

 

 

My Insolite Breakfast

This month my goal has been to know myself better and I’ve really managed to.
You’ll find some of the tests I did to this purpose in my blog article The numbers in My Food.¬†¬†

IMG_4986
Photo Emilia Dragne

Time now to start rethinking my meals and the first in line is my breakfast.
I don’t know what other people eat for breakfast, I’d be terrible bored to eat each morning the same meal. I do love the “all-inclusive” breakfasts of my seaside holidays.
This puts another pressure maybe on my lifestyle or… maybe not, with what I’ve recently learned.

 

Q. Do I need a rich breakfast each morning?

Yes I do. I need a daily breakfast for the simple reason that I’m very hungry in the morning. Maybe, this is because my dinner is just a snack and I fast for 12 hours at least. Also, it has to be a rich one as I need more energy than for the rest of the day to exercise, do my house chores, write my blog, do some shopping and other activities. I’m a “morning” person.
If you have a different lifestyle, breakfast might not be so important for you, it’s up to you to decide. Maybe a sandwich and a cup of coffee or a yogurt or milk with some oats and dry fruits, orr just a piece of fruit and a biscuit would suit you perfect.

Q. What shall I eat for breakfast?
Carbs and fats? Protein, fats and carbs? Should I include lots of fibers? Do I need sugar for more energy?

My tests have showed me that if I start my breakfast, after fasting 12 hours, with¬† a lot of carbs, mostly high glycemic load, my blood¬† sugar spikes! No matter what and how much else I eat after that at breakfast, in less than 2 hours I’ll¬† have to snack again.

I need a breakfast that will increase normally my blood sugar, with a difference of less than 40 related to the baseline. In two hours, glucose in my blood should be back to the baseline.
It’s not possible to exclude high glycemic load foods but you can eat smaller quantities and combine them as much as possible with low glycemic or no carbs foods.¬† It should include fibers and some fats which lower the glycemic response.
It’s not possible to estimate accurately the glycemic load of such a breakfast. I’ll have to test further my glycemic response to some of my most frequent breakfast combinations.

What else? I know for sure, from previous years’ diets,¬† that more than 4 starch food portions a day do fatten me, also too much fat (more than 35% from total daily calories).

Also, my breakfast should have a low energy density (less than 1.5 kcal per gram) but if it’s around 2,¬† I’ll accept it for the next moths. No higher than 2 (which is a medium energy density,)¬† though.

All these mean I’ll have to limit fats and sugars.
Bit tricky, don’t you think?

Q. How much shall I eat for breakfast? 

P1090224

If I eat more that 500 kcal, most from carbs, I tend to have a fluctuating blood sugar for hours. I’m not sure how healthy this is, fact is such a breakfast will make me tired¬† for the rest of the day.
Less than 400 kcal, is not ok either as I’ll need a snack after 2-3 hours to keep me going.
I don’t want to snack in the morning, I have things to do and I don’t think it’s healthy to keep my blood sugar dancing up and down all the day long. Maybe it’s just my opinion, but as I don’t seem to get rid of more pounds with the 3 meals + 2 snacks a day, for the next months, I’ll stick to 3 meals a day.
Of course, if I get hungry I’ll eat a light snack, a piece of not so sweet fruit or a veggie, with¬† some cheese or other protein,¬† or a handful of seeds and nuts, something that won’t raise much my blood sugar.

My Ideal Breakfast

I confess I’ve started a new lifestyle¬† 5-6¬† years ago with what I think has been a healthy breakfast, while following the South Beach Diet.

Pity they’ve killed that version of the SB Diet,¬† for commercial reasons. It was closest to a healthy Mediterranean Diet combined with a low glycemic load diet and it still suits me somehow, at least I haven’t put on lately.
Their recommendation for breakfast is simple: 1 protein portion, to start with, either of animal or vegetable origin,  half a veggie portion (around 100 g) and 1 carb portion, whole grains or low to medium glycemic load.

I’m trying to improve this breakfast, knowing what I know now on nutrition data.

P1550178
Photo Emilia Dragne

All questions answered, my ideal insolite breakfast pattern should be like this:
– between 400 – 500 kcal and less than 2 kcal/ g energy density
Рa protein portion like 1-2 eggs, 25 g of soft cheese or 50 g of Bulgarian cheese, a piece of lean ham or 2 tbsp of hummus
– half a portion of veggies (100 g), like a salad, a tomato, a pickle, 2 tbsp of zacusca
– one portion of carbs like a slice of bread, half a cup bulgur or rice, a few biscuits or a handful of pasta. Carbs should not exceed much 50 g (not so sure about this, just trying to limit the daily carbs, it seems too much carbs add to my weight).
I won’t limit to whole grain as I already combine carbs with veggies.
– I’ve given up, long time ago, almost all added sugar, be it artificially or not. However, I still eat from time to time a tbsp of jam or honey, but not daily.
– a cup of tomato juice, kefir, yogurt, tea or mineral water, depending on calories and what else is included in my breakfast
– coffee, can’t do without, one of my little pleasures.

All of these should be eaten over 20 minutes – half an hour.
Bit of advice, do take time to eat your meals. Swallowing your food like a wolf won’t do,
it’ might raise too quickly your blood sugar.
If still hungry, wait 15 minutes before eating anything else. Give your brain time to decide if you still need more. This really works!

Here are some of my most frequent breakfasts

Food Quantity (g) Calories (kcal) Carbs g Fats g Proteins g Energy Density
Bulgarian Cheese 50 149 1 13 7 2.98
Spaghetti al dento 100 213 43 1 8 2.13
1 hard boiled egg 50 75 1 5 6 1.51
Tomato juice, 1 cup 250 41 10     0.16
Coffee, 1 cup   4 1      
TOTAL 450 483 56 19 21 1.07
1 hard boiled egg 50 75 1 5 6 1.51
Spinach cooked with 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, 4 tbsp 100 156 5 14 4 1.56
Bread, wholegrain, 1 slice 25 75 13 1 4 2.98
Kefir 3.5 % fat 200 101 10 5 5 0.51
Coffee, 1 cup   4 1      
TOTAL 375 411 29 24 19 1.10
1 hard boiled egg 50 75 1 5 6 1.51
Oat bran, 2 tbsp 28 111 19 2 5 3.97
Yogurt 3.5 % 140 87 7 5 5 0.62
Chia Seeds, 1 tbsp 9 43 4 3 1 4.82
Avocado, 1/4 50 81 8 5 1 1.62
Honey with lemon juice 1 tbsp 12 32 8     2.67
Coffee, 1 cup   4 1      
TOTAL 289 434 46 20 18 1.50
Canned fish in tomato juice 50 121 8 5 12 2.43
Little Broom Salad with lemon juice, no oil 193 76 16 0 3 0.39
Bread, wholegrain, 1 slice 25 75 13 1 4 2.98
Honey with lemon juice 1 tbsp 12 32 8     2.67
Yogurt 3.5 % 140 87 7 5 5 0.62
Coffee, 1 cup   4 1      
TOTAL 420 395 52 11 23 0.94
Hummus, 2 tbsp 100 234 20 14 7 2.34
Bread, wholegrain, 1 slice 25 75 13 1 4 2.98
Coffee, 1 cup   4 1      
Little Broom Salad with lemon juice, no oil 193 76 16 0 3 0.39
Yogurt 3.5 % 140 87 7 5 5 0.62
TOTAL 458 476 56 20 18 1.04
Bulgarian Cheese 50 149 1 13 7 2.98
Olive oil, 1 tbsp 14 122   14   8.68
1 tomato 120 23 5   1 0.19
Bread, wholegrain, 1 slice 25 75 13 1 4 2.98
Coffee, 1 cup   4 1      
Almonds, a handful 20 113 4 9 4 5.65
TOTAL 229 485 24 37 16 2.12

Keep in mind that this is my ideal breakfast. Don’t follow me, I urge you not to.
If you find some useful ideas here, help yourself, make them your own. Make my karma happy.
However, build your own personal breakfast pattern based on your body response to food and your preferences and lifestyle.

 

P1170438
Cauliflower, cottage cheese, leek, eggs baked for half an hour. Photo Emilia Dragnne.
%d bloggers like this: