Monthly Archives: December 2015

Common Mistake, Packing The Wrong Snacks

The next couple of blogs will focus on common nutritional mistakes I see initially in my clients.

 

There’s 23% more snacking going on this year than last.  I bet even Santa is packing a few extra treats to get him through the night!  According to Mintel’s research, Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015, half of adults snack two to three times a day.  And while older generations grew up rarely snacking, millennials (age 21-38) report snacking four or more times a day and mostly snack for emotional or functional reasons, to cope with stress or improve energy.  For older people snacking is associated with special occasions like games and gatherings.  Sadly, nearly a quarter snack due to boredom.  And probably the most significant finding is that 62% of people snack to satisfy a craving.

Is It A Snack Or A Meal?

The first thing to consider before judging snacking habits is to understand the intent.  Millennials apparently often use their snacking in place of a meal.  The other reasons – special occasions, boredom and cravings are a different animal.  Each requires a different strategy.

myplate_blueIf someone is using snacks to make a meal their combined snacks should make up a healthy plate – with veggie, protein, fruit/whole grain carb and dairy.  See below for some ideas.

Many of my clients in the beginning are surprised that the chips, nuts, cheese, ice cream and baked goods from snacking are providing sometimes a third of their total daily calories – and not giving their body the nutrients it needs.  Most people are unaware of the serving size on the label and are eating directly out of the container.  And yes, nuts are high in those heart healthy unsaturated fats but 1/4 cup contains 200 calories.  One ounce of most cheeses have over 9 gms of mostly saturated fat – amounting to over 100 calories.  Some ice creams have over 7 gms of fat in a half cup serving.  And ice cream, chips and baked goods are double villains, not only high in fat, but delivering a good portion of carbs – up to 22 gms in just one serving.

If It’s A Snack, Then Make It Deliver The Right Nutrients

Snacking should be a time to get some veggies and fruit.  Not only are they low in fat and calories (providing the dip is low-fat), but they will help move number on your scale downward.  The OmniHeart Trial determined that a diet focused on vegetables and fruits reduced systolic blood pressure, as well as heart disease-causing LDL and triglycerides.  These foods can also reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer.  The OmniHeart study recommends 11 daily servings of veggies and fruits based on a 2000 calorie diet.

I recommend my clients aim to get a veggie or small carb and protein as their snack.  Putting more emphasis on non-starchy veggies will reduce the calories, provide good fiber and water.  Add a good dip like hummus, whipped cottage cheese with chive and spices or herbed plain fat-free Greek yogurt will give you the protein to stave off hunger.  Here are some good snack ideas:

  • Wasa crackers topped with low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup of plain fat-free Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of fruit
  • 1/2 peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Cut up veggies with hummus, whipped cottage cheese dip or Greek yogurt dip
  • Low fat cottage cheese with fruit
  • Hard-boiled egg with fruit
  • 2 tbsp of nuts with 1 tbsp of raisins
  • 3 cups of air popped popcorn with spray oil and light salt

But You Say You Want A Little “Some’in, Some’in” To Snack On

Well, I get it.  We all need a little something chocolately or crunchie or creamie.  But how about if things actually still fit my goal of having adequate protein and slow burning carbs?  Some of my desserts contain more than the usual amount of protein and are high in fiber.  Both these things are important because they prevent a sudden rise in blood sugar which is the precursor to most cravings.  Want something chocolaty?  My Divine Chocolate cake is made with oat flour, cocoa powder and chia seeds making it high in fiber and higher in protein than most chocolate cakes.   Want something creamy and crunchie?  My Quinoa custard is made with Greek yogurt, quinoa, raisins and eggs also making it high in protein and fiber.  My Mango frozen yogurt is made with fruit and Greek yogurt, making it high in protein.  Every dessert I make I try to enhance my adding ingredients to boost fiber, protein or both.

Breaking Old Snack Habits

I was a chip-aholic before I knew better.  And I confess there still are times where the craving hits me.  But on those rare occasions I keep it small by buying a small serving.

In general, what has worked for me and for many of my clients who successfully lose weight and keep it off, is to eat a breakfast with adequate protein to help control hunger, keep unhealthy snacks out of the house and out of eyesight at work, drink plenty of water, seltzer or tea,  and pay attention to hunger levels, never allowing ravenous hunger to develop.  Snacks have many purposes but packing healthy ones will keep you from packing on the pounds.

 

 

 

 

Getting The Best Protein For Breakfast?

My last blog I talked about the logistics of eating – in particular, the nutritive and emotional value of food.  The next few blogs I want to focus on each of these areas in more detail, starting with common nutritional mistakes I first see in my clients. 

Many people start their day with a bowl of cereal.  The cereal aisle at the store has undergone so much change over the past ten years with a shift from sugary cereals to organic, whole grain and sometimes protein-enriched choices.  But, just because a cereal is organic or has added protein, is it better for us?  Are there better, simpler choices to eat first thing in the morning. Here are some things to consider.

Role of Protein In Your Body

Protein is the workhorse of your body. Protein has a role in just about every function for survival: cell structure and function, waste clean up and intracellular response.  Dietary protein allows these physiological actions to occur in order to support our immune health, hormone production and cell to cell communication.

There are 20 amino acids in the proteins of the body.  These amino acids are like a Lincoln Log House.  You need each piece to build a complete house.  Take out a few pieces and it will fall down.  If our body does not get all of them it can’t survive.  Eleven of them can be manufactured, but there are nine of them our bodies  can not make, they must be consumed.  Our bodies do not store protein like it does sugar and fat.  If we do not consume enough protein our bodies will breakdown muscle tissue in order to get the amino acids it needs.  An indication of this is muscle wasting and increased fatigue.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The Institute of Medicine has set the Recommended Daily Allowance of protein at .36 gms per pound of weight.  Someone weighing 200 pounds will need to consume about 72 gms of protein daily.  An estimated 45% of U.S. adults don’t get enough protein or have impaired protein utilization and experience muscle wasting as a result.  One study indicated that consuming more than 30 gms of protein at one time did not yield a higher absorption.  Thirty gms of protein is about four ounces of meat, fish or poultry.

Most of the people I work with get ample protein at dinner but not enough at breakfast unless they are eating eggs.  Most cereals, unless they have protein enhancements (usually from soy byproducts) don’t have enough protein unless the serving size is doubled.  But do you really want the doctored-up soy isolated-enhanced cereal?

Soy Isolates and Concentrates As A Protein Source

soy isolates

Special K protein enhances protein by using soy isolates

Soy isolates are formed by taking out most of the carbohydrates and fats from defatted soy flour, making it 90% protein.  Soy concentrates are made from removing some of the water-soluble carbohydrates from defatted soy flour, making it 70% protein.

Soy protein is being added to cereals, protein bars and just about anything stating the product has “added protein”.  There’s controversy over the benefits of eating all this extra soy.  Some studies link the added consumption of soy isolates to improved glycemic control in postmenopausal women with diabetes, as well as some beneficial results in cardiovascular health in monkeys and reduced tumor incidents rats.  And there was even one study even indicated increased soy protein consumption reduced thyroid cancer risk.

But there is still some controversy over increased soy consumption and breast cancer.  There are some supportive studies, but also some that show increased hyperplastic epithelial breasts cell and estradiol production in post menopausal women who consumed additional soy protein isolates.  Furthermore, the USDA is now studying furan, a possible human carcinogen, that’s found in soy protein isolates.

The practical side of me says, why take a risk with man-made, manipulated proteins when there are plenty of non-controversial choices out there?  I’m not against soy, but maybe just stick with the real thing: edamame, soy milk, tofu, miso and tempeh, not the manufactured isolated soy proteins that could be the real culprit just through the process of manufacturing them.

Other Benefits of Eating Adequate and the Right Kind of Protein

Protein takes longer to break down than carbohydrates so consuming enough helps with satiety which helps you feel fuller longer between meals.  One study also shows that eating 30 gms of protein per meal improved body weight management and risk factors contributing to heart disease.  Keep in mind that there is still some controversy of eating too much protein at one time and that doing so can lead to osteoporosis, increased risk of cancer, impaired kidney function and heart disease if the protein is coming largely from beef and other high saturated fat protein sources.

What’s The Best Protein For Breakfast?

The best sources of protein should be low in saturated fat, be whole and non-manipulated, and be quick and easy to put together.  Here are some of the things I recommend for breakfast:

  • smoothie.  It delivers 30 gms of protein through the Greek yogurt, the flax seed and milk.
  • Two pieces of sprouted whole wheat toast with 3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese.  It delivers about 30 gms of protein since the sprouted wheat contains more protein.
  • frittata wedge in a whole grain wrap with spinach.  I often times make this frittata recipe for dinner and then save the rest for a quick breakfast.  The saturated fat is reduced by substituting egg whites for some of the eggs.  I also boost the protein by adding Greek yogurt.  Look under ingredients for words, “whole” or “100% whole” to find out if it is whole grain.  I like La Tortilla’s wraps and also Valley Bread Whole Wheat Lavash wraps.
  • A cup of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt topped with a half cup of fruit and 2 tbsp of chopped walnuts.  This Greek yogurt will deliver 23 gms of protein and you get some nice fiber and heart healthy omega 3’s with the fruit and nuts.  Try to move away from the flavored and fruited Greek yogurts since they have much more sugar and far less protein.
  • Leftovers from the night before!  Why not eat some left over salmon or chicken?  Put it in a wrap with some greens and you have a perfect breakfast.  Why not think out of the box.

I believe in eating “whole” foods that have not been processed, recreated or enhanced with added protein or fiber or some other doctoring.  If there are enhancements to be made, I want to do them myself in my kitchen.  I have not always eaten this way but as I have learned more about nutrition I believe the less handling and “re-creating” of what goes into my mouth, the better I feel, the more energy I have.