New Year, New Rules: Stop Counting!

If there has been on single mistake in my career as a registered dietitian, it has been preaching the notion of calorie manipulation and control. The theory makes perfect sense, eat fewer calories than your body needs and lose weight. However, in practice, I have many follow up visits where my patients have reported following the set calorie number and no movement on the scale. I have even more follow up visits were some successful patients have regained all of their shaken weight. Talk about a major credibility bummer. After a few years of trials (on behalf of those I counseled and even myself) and studying the latest research available, I have turned the corner and cut calories out of my life. Literally, I choose to forget that they even exist.

Turns out, I’m not the only one who got the clue that what we (and by we I mean the nutrition experts) were selling was not working. In Jonathan Bailor’s New York Times bestseller The Calorie Myth, Bailor shouts to the masses why believing calories are the end all, be all will cause just as much damage as the daily cigarette. Bailor and I are in agreement on two major myths:

Myth #1: Calories in = Calories Out

This argument is as old as time and as frustrating as trying to understand the lives of the Kardashians. The principle goes that our bodies need a certain number of calories to function. If they do not have that set number of calories then the brain sends out signals to break down your body’s own fat to make up for the deficit… aka weight loss. And the opposite side to the argument is that if the body is over the needed calories, the calories are converted to stored fat. Problem solved, now everyone go forth and eat less and be skinny! (Note the sarcasm).

Now consider the real life calculation Bailor describes. Comparing the years 1977 and 2006, the average person increased their calorie consumption by 570 calories per day. If calories in truly equals calories out, then the average person would have gained more than 100 pounds per year since 2006 and weigh somewhere around 1,000 pounds. Clearly this is not the case for the average person. So the question becomes when did does the mathematical statement become untrue? Or is it that the mathematical statement of calories in equals calories out was never true. I am opting for the later.

Myth #2: Calories are all created equal

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. This was the classic weight watchers argument. Each food is labeled with a certain number of points (assigned by the calorie count) and participants are allowed a set number of points each day. Spending my points on Twinkies and Pumpkin Spice Lattes would equal the same weight loss as spending my points on kale and quinoa. Luckily, Weight Watchers has updated their stance; however, not many others have.

In one rat study, unlimited access of high quality, nutrient dense food was given to one group while the other group got unlimited access of low quality, nutrient poor foods. As one can expect, the low quality group of rats gained more weight. Even more, the low-quality rat group could not consistently lose the weight that they have gained while eating the poor choice foods. Where one gets its calories is the name of the game. It is not how many points or calories in food that matter. Source matters.

 

The SANE Food Rules:

Bailor proposes the use of four principles for judging the “healthiest” foods around. This system blows calorie counting out of the water.

FOOD RULE #1: Satiety

How full does a certain food make you? Do you want more food as soon as you finish your plate? Or does a certain food help to satisfy the craving as well as the 4 hours until the next meal? Consuming high quality protein, high fiber vegetables, and plenty of water are main ways to getting a high satiety rating.

FOOD RULE #2: Aggression

Our bodies react as a full system approach to food. It is not just our tummies doing the work. Hormones in the endocrine system play a major role in breaking down food particles and getting the nutrients where they need to go. Focus on limiting carbohydrates (grains, sweets, starchy vegetables, dairy, and fruits) and always paring a carbohydrate with protein or fat. This will help to limit the hormonal response to food entering the GI track.

FOOD RULE #3: Nutrition

Nutrient density has luckily been a major topic of experts of the last few years and for good reason. We need certain vitamins and minerals to actually be alive. Nutrient density is the amount of nutrients per calorie of food. 50 calories of kale has a vast amount more of nutrients than 50 calories of a pop tart. Getting your share of non-starchy vegetables goes a long way.

FOOD RULE #4: Efficiency

How quickly is a calorie stored as fat? Is it relatively easy for the body to make the chemical conversion from a whole food compound to a fat cell. Or does the body actually have do a significant amount of work to store the food item? Avoid excess starches and sweets as they are easily converted to body fat.

 

Here are some of Bailor’s tips for each of his recommended food group. I thought many of these were great thoughts to keep a hold of.

SANE Carbohydrate Pointers:
  • Cover half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables.
  • If it cannot be eaten raw, don’t eat it.
  • Stick with fresh or frozen.
  • Greens are great.
  • The deeper the color the higher the SANiety.
  • Raw is ideal but not required.
  • A swerving is about one to three handfuls depending on how “dense” the non-starchy vegetables are.
  • Low-carb diets are great, but your SANE Lifestyle doesn’t have to be one.
  • Ninety percent of what you see in the grocery store is carbohydrate.
  • Carbohydrate is nonessential, so focus on carbs that carry along with them the most essential nutrients possible.

 

SANE Protein Pointers:
  • Nutrient-dense protein should cover a third of your plate.
  • Eat protein in 30 – 55 gram servings throughout the day.
  • Eat a total of 100 grams of protein per day.
  • Eat protein every time you eat.
  • Eat seafood daily (ideally sources higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury, such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, oysters, etc)
  • High-quality, nutrient-dense sources of protein are critical.
  • If you avoid animal products, you can still be SANE.

 

SANE Whole-Food Fats and low-Fructose Fruits Pointers:
  • Whole-food fats are essential; low-fructose fruits are not.
  • Go out of your way to eat fatty seafood, cocoa/cacao, and coconut.
  • Avoid unnatural process fats completely.
  • If needed, use stable, natural processed fats such as coconut oil for cooking.
  • Do away with processed fruits (canned in syrup) completely.
  • Pair whole-fat fats or low-fructose fruits with non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense protein whenever possible.
  • Whole-food fats and low-fructose fruits are SANE desserts superstars.
  • If you really struggle with your weight, you will be likely to have better results if you focus on whole-food fats instead of low-fructose fruits.

 

 

References:

Bailor, Jonathan. “The Calorie Myth.” Harper Ware (2014).

Keesy, RD, and MD Hirvonen. “Body Weight Set-Points: Determination and Adjustment.” Journal of Nutrition 127 (9) (1997).

Rolls, BJ, EA Rowe, and RC Turner. “Persistent Obesity in Rats Following a Period of Consumption of a Mixed, High Energy Diet.” Journal of Physiology 298 (1980): 415-27; Pub Med PMID: 6987379

Let’s Supper: 9th Edition!

The holiday season brings a ton of EXTRAS to the to-do list. De-stress with a comforting, nutritious, and simple meal at home.  *Note: All recipes serve 4.

Supper 1:

Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil over roughly chopped butternut squash (1 – 2 pounds), 2 small sweet potatoes, and 1 yellow onion on baking sheet. Season with a tablespoon curry powder, teaspoon cinnamon, teaspoon nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes until lightly brown and tender. Transfer veggies to deep stock pot over with 1 – 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Begin to mash veggies to release flavor. Add 2 cups of low sodium, veggie broth and 1 cartoon of culinary coconut cream. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes before blending with immersion blender or stand blender. Transfer back to stock pot and bring back to simmer. Option to add toasted and buttered, gluten free bread on side. (I prefer “Food for Life” flax and rice gluten free bread).

Supper 2:

Kale & Cabbage Salad with Rotisserie Chicken

In a large serving bowl, add shredded bunch of kale and 1 head of cabbage. Massage 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt to greens for 2 minutes. Set aside to allow oil to soften greens. Combine 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper in small bowl before whisking in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add shredded rotisserie (organic if possible) chicken to greens with diced Fuji apples and crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper for finishing.

 Supper 3:

Pork Chops with Roasted Carrots & Greens

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 12 carrots into 1 – 2 inch slices. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon raw honey, salt, and pepper. Transfer to sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes. Season pork chops with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of curry powder. In cast iron skillet, cook chops for 1 – 2 minutes on each side. Place 1 pat of butter on each chop before placing in oven for 5 – 10 more minutes (depends on thickness of chop and temperature preference.) At the end of pork chop and carrot cooking, sauté 2 bags/bunches of spinach in 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil and chopped garlic. Season spinach with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Plate pork chop, carrots, and greens as soon as spinach is wilted.

Supper 4:

Sausage and Brussel Sprouts

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon and add large diced yellow onions. Once onions are softened, add 1 package of diced chicken and apple sausage. Allow to heat through before adding 1 pound, halved Brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to incorporate. Pour 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of chicken broth to pan. Cover and allow sprouts to steam for 8 minutes or until tender. Uncover and add 2 – 3 sliced apples to pan. Stir again to combine. Once apples are tender, the dish is ready to serve.

 

Grocery List:

Produce:

1 large sweet potato (or 2 small)

1 medium butternut squash

2 onion, yellow

1 bunch lacinato kale

1 head cabbage

1 lemon

4 Fuji apples

12 carrots

2 bunches/bag spinach

Garlic

1 bunch/1 pound Brussel sprouts

 

Protein:

1 rotisserie, store bought chicken (organic is preferable)

4 small pork chops

1 package apple chicken sausage (I like Applegate brand.)

 

Cold/Diary:

Butter (unsalted, grass-fed)

1 round goat cheese (grass fed, if available)

 

Pantry:

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 carton of culinary coconut milk

Vegetable broth, low sodium

Chicken broth, low sodium

Apple cider vinegar

Maple syrup, grade A or B

Raw honey

Dried herbs: Curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, red pepper flakes

 

 

5 Minutes to a Better Booty

Dreaming of a perky, yoga pants don’t know what hit them, BOOTY? Small, concentrated movements are fab at hitting all the right muscles. The trick is to perform all of the movements at various angles to incorporate the 3 glutes. These 5 moves can be performed standing or down on all fours. I recommend doing both ways to see how it feels different. Perform a few times each week to really see the change happen.

 

To start, stand or lower down to hands and knees.

0:00 – 0:30 Right Leg: Horse kicks Leg with bent knee facing down, and foot flexed, pulse back from the hip leaving hips tucked
0:30 – 1:00 Right Leg: Attitude pulses Knee bent, opened, and parallel to ground, pulse up from outer buttock
1:00 – 1:30 Right Leg: Attitude cross pulses Knee bent, opened, and parallel to ground, pulse leg  towards midline of body
1:30 – 2:00 Right Leg: Hydrant to arabesque Leg coming to right side with bent knee opened and parallel to ground, extend leg straight behind
2:00 – 2:30 Right Leg: Arrow lifts With straight leg, knee facing outerward, and slightly outside of body line, raise leg from hip to midline, lower to opposite side
2:30 – 3:00 Left Leg: Horse kicks Leg with bent knee facing down and foot flexed, pulse back from the hip leaving hips tucked
3:00 – 3:30 Left Leg: Attitude pulses Knee bent, opened, and parallel to ground, pulse up from outer buttock
3:30 – 4:00 Left Leg: Attitude cross pulses Knee bent, opened, and parallel to ground, pulse leg  towards midline of body
4:00 – 4:30 Left Leg: Hydrant to arabesque Leg coming to right side with bent knee opened and parallel to ground, extend leg straight behind
4:30 – 5:00 Left Leg: Arrow lifts With straight leg, knee facing outerward, and slightly outside of body line, raise leg from hip to midline, lower to opposite side

 

Food For Thought: Grass-fed Craze

Grass-fed has become a huge buzz term in the health arena. Here is a amazing video from the Weston A. Price foundation explaining not only why eating grass fed is important for our health but also why is important from an agricultural stance.

Remember, every grocery store visit or meal ordered is a vote you have to influence farmers, distributors, big food companies, and restaurants. The buying power is a very effective tool to help change how our food is produced to how much it cost.

The Savage Mix: Mega Moves for 3 Workouts #1

Want a full week of workouts? Ask and you shall receive. Here are 10 Mega Moves that will sculpt, tone, and whittle the WHOLE body. Add in more weights one day for greater muscle strength. Add cardio moves between each set for a heart pounding calorie burn.

 

How To: Watch each of the videos below and practice the moves. Decide what your goal for the workout will be. Is it to power and shape your muscles? Equal balance for toning and cardio? Or do you want to get your heart rate up? Grab a mat, timer, a set of hand weights and go!

For hand weights, a set of medium to heavy weights are 8 – 15 for women and 20 – 30 for men. Light weights would be around 5 pounds for women and 10 – 15 for men.

Check out the weekly calendar at the bottom to get an idea of how to plan your week.

Mr. T

Seated Arm Tilt

Power Lunge Right

Cross Slide Right

Power Lunge Left

Cross Slide Left

Rev Tuck

Tri Dip Scoop

Side Attitude

Three Legged Dog

 

Power 20

20 minutes, 2 rounds, 1 minute per exercise, heavy set of weights. Focus: Strength. 
Mr. T Hinge forward on right leg as left leg lifts straight behind, return to standing, row with arm, knee forward with right, alternate directions
Seated Arm Tilt Squat with extended lateral arms, tilt upper body to one side, return to standing, alternate sides
Power Lunge Right Lunge with right leg forward, pulse up x3 with bicep curl, extend all way up as bicep curl to overhead press
Cross Slide Right Plank position, right knee to left shoulder, extend right leg to lateral leg raise, side plank with right arm extended.
Power Lunge Left Lunge with left leg forward, pulse up x3 with bicep curl, extend all way up as bicep curl to overhead press
Cross Slide Left Plank position, left knee to right shoulder, extend left leg to lateral leg raise, side plank with left arm extended.
Rev Tuck Arms bent in front of face, pulse arms up x3 with raising heels, curve spine to tuck in x3
Tri Dip Scoop Tricep Dip x3, hips up to tabletop position, push through to scoop out abs
Side Attitude Lunge to right side, lift right leg to side with bent knee, return leg down, lift right leg behind with bent knee, alternate sides
Three Legged Dog Plank position push up, down dog position with one leg lifted (alternate lifted leg)

(Repeat all ten moves)

 

Toning Blend

30 – 40 minutes, 3 – 4 rounds, 1 minute per exercise, light set of weights. Focus: Balance of cardio and toning. 
Mr. T Hinge forward on right leg as left leg lifts straight behind, return to standing, row with arm, knee forward with right, alternate directions
Seated Arm Tilt Squat with extended lateral arms, tilt upper body to one side, return to standing, alternate sides
Power Lunge Right Lunge with right leg forward, pulse up x3 with bicep curl, extend all way up as bicep curl to overhead press
Cross Slide Right Plank position, right knee to left shoulder, extend right leg to lateral leg raise, side plank with right arm extended.
Power Lunge Left Lunge with left leg forward, pulse up x3 with bicep curl, extend all way up as bicep curl to overhead press
Cross Slide Left Plank position, left knee to right shoulder, extend left leg to lateral leg raise, side plank with left arm extended.
Rev Tuck Arms bent in front of face, pulse arms up x3 with raising heels, curve spine to tuck in x3
Tri Dip Scoop Tricep Dip x3, hips up to tabletop position, push through to scoop out abs
Side Attitude Lunge to right side, lift right leg to side with bent knee, return leg down, lift right leg behind with bent knee, alternate sides
Three Legged Dog Plank position push up, down dog position with one leg lifted (alternate lifted leg)

(Repeat all moves 2 – 3 more times.)

 

Cardio Burn

20 minutes, 1 round, 1 minute per exercise, cardio move for 1 minute between each set. Focus: Heart and calorie burner.
Mr. T Hinge forward on right leg as left leg lifts straight behind, return to standing, row with arm, knee forward with right, alternate directions
High Knees
Seated Arm Tilt Squat with extended lateral arms, tilt upper body to one side, return to standing, alternate sides
Jumping Jacks
Power Lunge Right Lunge with right leg forward, pulse up x3 with bicep curl, extend all way up as bicep curl to overhead press
Skating  (jump side to side)
Cross Slide Right Plank position, right knee to left shoulder, extend right leg to lateral leg raise, side plank with right arm extended.
Jump Rope
Power Lunge Left Lunge with left leg forward, pulse up x3 with bicep curl, extend all way up as bicep curl to overhead press
Burpees  (jumping plank position to standing position)
Cross Slide Left Plank position, left knee to right shoulder, extend left leg to lateral leg raise, side plank with left arm extended.
High Knees
Rev Tuck Arms bent in front of face, pulse arms up x3 with raising heels, curve spine to tuck in x3
Jumping Jacks
Tri Dip Scoop Tricep Dip x3, hips up to tabletop position, push through to scoop out abs
Skating  (jump side to side)
Side Attitude Lunge to right side, lift right leg to side with bent knee, return leg down, lift right leg behind with bent knee, alternate sides
Jump Rope
Three Legged Dog Plank position push up, down dog position with one leg lifted (alternate lifted leg)
Burpees  (jumping plank position to standing position)

 

Weekly Schedule, Option 1:

Monday – Cardio Burn

Tuesday – Power 20

Wednesday – Off

Thursday – Cardio Burn

Friday – Toning Blend

 

Weekly Schedule, Option 2:

Monday – Power 20

Tuesday – Cardio Burn

Wednesday – Off

Thursday – Power 20

Friday – Toning Blend

 

Weekly Schedule, Option 3:

Monday – Toning Blend

Tuesday – Off

Wednesday – Toning Blend

Thursday – Off

Friday – Toning Blend

All Health Begins in the Gut

All health begins in the gut… Wait, what?!? In the traditional sense, most of us think that the stomach as having one function of getting our food where it needs to go. Instead of taking the gut for granted, we need to recognize it as a vital role for both the WHOLE body.

 

Many in the health arena are coining the term of Gut-Brain. There is a close collaboration between the gut and brain in order to maintain both physical and mental health. Our nervous system is tightly integrated into the stomach with almost 100,000,000 neurons (this is as many neurons in the spinal cord) in the stomach lining. These neurons ensure that our food is digested, our IMMUNE system is regulated, and our brain is informed about nutritional status, inflammation, and stress.

So, the gut is a big deal. How do we keep it healthy? One answer: Nurture our bacteria. Our guts house 100 TRILLION bacteria. I’m going to let this Ted Talk scientist give a vivid picture of the impact of these microbes.

For your gut microbes, diversity is good! Low microbial diversity, or dysbiosis,  is associated with inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and the presence of disease causing bad bacteria. Healthy individuals’ microbes have also been shown to produce more fatty acids to aid in weight management. To top if off, dysbiosis is associated with inflammatory bowel disease or syndrome.

The Savage Solution:

Each fermented, probiotic foods such as grass-fed cow-milk yogurt, goat’s milk yogurt, kefir, komucha tea, saucerkraut, pickles (check label for additives), or raw cheeses. Include a serving or two of these foods every day.

Supplement with a quality probiotic. Look for a high number of probiotic stands (15 billion to 100 billion) and over 10 different strands. Also be sure to check the expiration date on the bottle. (If taking a probiotic for a specific purpose, be sure to research what best strains to consume.)

Avoid the overuse of antibiotics in both medicine and food supply (ie antibiotics in meats).

Avoid the overuse of such medications as antacids, steroids, acid blockers, and birth control.

Avoid excess processed sugar in your diet.

Asian Spiced Chicken with Root Vegetables

Combining Asian spices with fall friendly root vegetables is a twist on the usual side dish. Trust me, this will be a go to veggie dish to pair with any meat. Chicken goes nicely here but pork would be an tasty sub.

Ingredients

4 bone-in chicken breast (organic, if possible)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons yellow curry powder

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 large turnips, large dice

3 medium parsnips, large dice

6 medium carrots, large dice

10 small golden beets (or 2 large), large dice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1/2 tablespoon dried sage powder

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free option)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix spices for chicken rub (garlic, curry, chili powder, plus salt and pepper to taste). Drizzle chicken breast with olive oil and rub spice mixture on each piece. Place on baking sheet and cook for 35 to 45 minutes (depending on oven).

While chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the diced turnips and parsnips to the water and cook for 2 minutes. Using large spoon, transfer the turnips and parsnips to baking sheet. Continue with carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes followed by beets for 5 minutes.

Season the vegetables with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, thyme, rosemary, and sage. In the same oven, cook the veggie mixture for 25 minutes.

Once slightly browned, remove the vegetables. In small bowl, combine white vinegar and soy sauce. Drizzle with over the vegetables and taste for any needed salt and pepper.

Fill over 1/2 of plate with veggies and a side of chicken for a great Savage Standard portioned plate!

(Note: Some bone-in chicken breast may be larger than protein need. Cutting in half is always an option! Save for lunch!)