Week 3 is done, how were the exercises? I hope the plan was fairly simple to follow, if you had any issues or there was confusion please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or a message on Facebook and I’ll help! Week 4 is about getting those exercises to become a habit by doing them at least 3 times this week with one day off in between. And don’t forget to do some cardio and flexibility as well.
Today I’m going to discuss some of what I call “Nutritional Grey areas”. Those are things that you may have been told are healthy or have been considered healthy in the past that may or may not be for some people. I’ll break down the three most common:
1. Animal Protein
With protein and animal meat consumption, many people wonder how much is necessary, or is it even necessary at all? This is such a complex question, it’s based on so many factors, like your blood type (type O’s need more than the rest, type A’s the least), if you workout and if so how much muscle are you trying to put on, etc. As a trainer, my first reaction is to tell you to eat as much protein as possible, but as a nutritionist, I want to caution you from eating too much animal protein as it can be a contributing factor to many illnesses, not to mention our bodies were not designed to eat the amount of animal protein many Atkins or Paleo type programs call for. As omnivores, we do best as a species with a plant based diet supplemented by animal products, not the other way around. I’ve often told people the best “diet” in the world would be pescetarian, which is a vegetarian who eats some fish and eggs. I consider myself a “flexitarian” which means I eat animal protein occasionally. I personally try to eat animal protein only once a day max, and have at least one completely vegetarian day a week. I’ve also heard of some flexitarians who eat veg all week and only have meat on the weekends. Do whatever works for you, just try and eat less meat and try to incorporate more beans, lentils, peas, tofu, quinoa and nuts and seeds. Vegetarian and vegan diets are also quite healthy when they focus on whole plant foods and vegetarian protein, but it can be easy to focus on processed carbs and fake meat substitutes since they are so convenient.
Dairy is another complex issue. On the one hand, you have foods like greek yogurt and cottage cheese with live bacterial cultures, both containing lots of protein and the probiotics we need. But is a glass of milk a day really necessary for calcium like we’ve been told all these years? And is it even all that good for us? Unfortunately the answer to both is no. We’ve been fed a lot of marketing from the dairy board to make us believe that milk is a good source of calcium, when in fact the acid in the milk actually robs our bones of calcium, while at the same time delivering calcium to our bones. Seems pretty inefficient no? The most bioavailable forms of calcium are dark green veg, nuts and bones (the reason why bones are left in canned salmon). Dairy also increases our production of phlegm, not to mention it may cause a host of other issues. That is why it is on the eat less list, and I would prefer if you do consume it, that it is mostly cottage cheese and yogurt with live cultures. Nut, hemp and rice milk are a little better but most of the ones you buy in the store are heavily processed and contain many artificial ingredients. If you do want to consume these it’s far better to make them yourself.
Wheat is another confusing topic. For years every book, magazine, and dietician was telling you that wheat isn’t bad, as long as you eat whole wheat. But with the Wheat Belly Diet being so popular and gluten intolerance on the rise, many people have been asking me my opinion on whether wheat actually is good for you. Here’s my take: wheat is a food that has radically changed from what we originally cultivated thousands of years ago, so much so that many of our bodies have a hard time digesting it properly. Not to mention, it is very processed before it even gets to the flour stage, making it much easier for your body to convert it into sugar, even the whole wheat variety. Most breads, baked goods and cereals are also laden with preservatives and harmful chemicals, because nobody wants their bread to go moldy or not taste fresh, even after weeks on the shelves! And if that’s not bad enough, non organic wheat is also sprayed with Glyphosate to kill all the wheat at the same time making it easier to harvest. And Glyphosate has been proven to cause cancer and is suspected to be the main reason for the extreme rise in recent years of gluten intolerance! Besides Celiac disease which is an allergy to wheat, gluten sensitivities or intolerances can cause many people inflammation and digestion problems as well. It does have some good points, whole wheat flour is full of fiber and contains a fair amount of protein, vitamins and minerals, but if you suffer from joint problems or seem gassy or sluggish, you may want to cut it out for a while to determine if wheat is the culprit. Blood type also has some influence on whether or not you can tolerate wheat, AB blood type seems to have the least difficulties with it. At the very least you may want to think about cutting back on how much you eat and possibly switching to organic and more ancient or sprouted varieties. You can also try traditional sourdough breads as they contain very little gluten. My serving suggestion is no more than two a day, which is two slices of bread or 1 cup of pasta, but only after you’ve tried going a while without it.
So as you can see, whether you choose to eat these foods or not and in what amount really boils down to preference and goals. If your ultimate goal is to just be healthier and live longer then you should try to cut back on all three as much as is possible. That doesn’t mean you need to become a 9th level gluten free vegan, but eating these foods no more than one serving a day would be a good place to start. If you have other goals in mind (weight loss, muscle gain, disease control etc.) then you may need to modify. Contact me if you need a more detailed plan to achieve your goals! Next week is the last week of Clean and Lean specific posts, but this isn’t just a quick weight loss plan, this is how we should eat for life, so I will be continuing to discuss it throughout the year to keep us all on track. Good luck!
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