The following is for informational purposes only. The reader is advised to always check with his or her doctor, nutritionist or other healthcare provider before starting any weight loss program or diet. The information below is a brief overview and contains the opinion of the author in some instances. In addition, always seek professional guidance if implementing any of the information below.
Most people begin an exercise or weight loss program without going to their doctor for a complete physical and blood work up. I feel this is an extremely important step in the process of regaining or improving your health or losing weight. It’s important to know if you are beginning on an “even” playing field or if an under lying health issue could be holding you back. It’s discouraging when you have been working out for several months and no progress has been made. Many times there may be an issue with a person’s thyroid, sex hormones or adrenals that can negatively impact progress. Worse yet, sometimes there could be an autoimmune disorder as well.
By seeing your doctor these issues can be ruled out with a physical and blood work up. I have had several clients decide they did not want to get a physical when they started. After 6 months of hard work their progress was minimal. They decided to see their doctor and discovered they had a thyroid issue or diminished testosterone and one even had elevated cortisol levels from stress. If they knew this from the beginning, those 6 months of hard work would have yielded far better results. So I highly recommend seeing your doctor to establish a clean bill of health.
Below are the tests I recommend. These are suggestions but talk to your doctor. In my opinion, the “Normal” ranges have a large gap for the general population, not the individual. So it’s good to know what is “Normal” for you when you are apparently healthy. Also, if you fall into the normal range but are at the low end, the doctor should consider treatment if you are experiencing symptoms. However, in my opinion, the symptoms should be treated and not the range!
Complete metabolic panel- (Be sure it includes a liver & Kidney panel and fasting blood glucose)
Lipids and cholesterol– Heart disease
Vitamin D levels- Bones, mood and immune function.
TSH- Thyroid stimulating hormone- metabolism.
Free T3 & Free T4 (Docs will tell you it’s not needed but insist on doing it!!!)
C-Reactive protein- Detects inflammation.
Sed rate- Indicator of inflammation and autoimmune disease.
B12- Energy production
Cortisol- Adrenal gland function and belly fat- MUST BE an AM blood test.
Ferritin- Detects Anemia and may indicate hypothyroidism if its low. Also could identify Vitamin C deficiency, which effects healing.
Total iron- General fatigue
Hemoglobin- Goes with Iron, shows body’s ability to carry oxygen.
Homocysteine- Good indicator of possible heart disease and Folic acid can lower it.
Total Free Testosterone and SHBG testosterone (SHBG= Sex Hormone binding globulin)- Fatigue, muscle loss, weakness weight gain. (MUST BE a Morning TEST)
PSA- (No need if you’re under 40 with no symptoms)
Estrogen -NOTE there are three estrogens- E1 -Estrone, E2 -Estradiol, E3 -Estriol and each has significance in women’s health.
Progesterone- works in a balance with estrogen.
Food allergies and intolerances:
Another important component in the fight to remain young is to stop inflammation in the body. One of the biggest culprits for this are food allergies and food sensitivities. Most times if you have a food allergy you will experience more severe symptoms like hives, inability to breath or even sudden death if medical attention is not given. So food allergies to things like peanuts definitely won’t go un-noticed; however many times we can develop sensitivities that slowly chip away at our immune defenses with a low level assault that leaves us with unexplained symptoms like, a runny nose, bloated stomach, joint pain, headaches, heart arrhythmia’s, swelling, changes in menstruation or just general lethargy. If you are experiencing any of this you may have a food sensitivity or a Histamine intolerance.
The problem with food sensitivities is that many times they can slip under the radar because standard blood tests for food allergies won’t detect them. There are a few things you can do starting with the easiest and least expensive option:
1- You can do an elimination diet for atleast a month. It usually takes that long to clear the reactive substances from the body before you will feel like yourself again. After a month, introduce the foods back in your diet one at a time and see if you have any symptoms reappear. Symptoms may take up to 48hrs in some instances. You may want to see a good nutritionist or dietician for more detailed information on this type of diet plan because it is not as easy as it sounds.
2- Another option is a practice that utilizes muscle testing. It’s called Applied kinesiology.
3- There are also several different types of doctors that specialize in this line of work. They are: Dr. Functional medicine, Dr. Naturopathy or a Dr. Osteopathic medicine. He/she may do a saliva test or other blood tests. This is a good link to the types of tests you may ask them about. Testing.
The other concern I mentioned was a Histamine Intolerance. Histamine plays an important role as a neurotransmitter in communicating with the brain. It is also is contained in our stomach acid. Some people do not have the ability to clear histamines from high histamine foods we eat combined with the histamine in our stomach acid. Ask your doctor about this possibility as well. Here is a great web site that explains more on this.
EATING FOR SUCCESS:
In addition to helping us be the best we can be, eating a balanced diet is extremely important for slowing down the effects of aging and disease. There are several categories I will touch on that I feel are the most important aspects to creating and maintaining a meal plan that will make you much stronger, leaner and help you age gracefully. Keep in mind these are guidelines for a normal healthy adult and in no way should be taken over the advise of your physician, dietician or other healthcare provider. This is for informational purposes to give clients an idea of what I do to stay in shape.
If trying to lose weight, be sure to eat 10% calories less than your maintenance calories. This will help minimize the amount of muscle tissue lost and will be a safe and slow way to lose weight. The best way to roughly determine your maintenance calories needed per day, is to multiply your body weight by 13 if your active and 11 if you’re inactive. There are other ways to get a more precise number but this is a good starting point that can be moved up or down depending on age, lean body weight, activity level and male vs female. Another thing to keep in mind is to fluctuate your daily calories, one day higher another day lower, but have a weekly goal total. This keeps the body guessing so it doesn’t slow the metabolism or down regulate it from a consistent calorie intake. Remember, the faster you lose weight, the more muscle you lose!
It’s important to eat protein with every meal. This will prevent your body from eating that hard earned muscle tissue and will ensure you have enough available at all times to for repair and keep your system functioning at it’s best. It will also help you feel full longer because it takes longer to digest. Note: 1/3 of the calories in a gram of protein are used up during the digestion of it. This is mostly where the term “Thermic effect” of food comes from. It is a good idea when following a resistance program to include more protein in your diet. About 1.6 – 1.8 grams per Kgm of body weight. (See food quality for examples of the types recommended)
Be sure not to go more than 3-4 hours without food and try to have your largest meals early in the day or before the busiest part in your daily schedule. Eating every three hours helps keep your metabolism running high. Not eating this way will slow your body down because it wants to conserve energy. This is caused by the release of cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue for energy during periods of starvation. This muscle catabolism (breakdown) is put in high gear after 24-36 hours. So try to eat 5-6 smaller meals per day instead.
BEFORE & AFTER WORKOUT MEALS:
This is a crucial meal to eat and is the best time for nutrient absorption. Your body is rushing to replace the things it needs, like Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates. So it’s called the “Window of opportunity”. This is the only time I advocate separating your carbs and proteins. Protein is digested in an acidic environment and carbs in an alkaline environment. Eat the carbs and fats first, wait 30 mins and then eat your protein. Eating a whey protein protein drink shortly after the workout will help provide the body with fast digesting complete proteins to help rebuild the muscle you just broke down. That is why some people advocate whey protein drinks after workouts.
The glycemic index is a good guideline to follow for carbohydrates, which is explained, in the next bullet point-Food Quality. I believe sugar is probably the biggest culprit for sabotaging a persons weight loss success; however after a workout the body wants to replenish your muscles stores of sugar (Glycogen). It can do that fast with simple sugars via insulin, the most anabolic hormone in the human body. Insulin is secreted in response to elevated blood glucose (sugar) to help maintain sugar homeostasis or balance. Once insulin is done replacing muscle glycogen extra calories are stored as fat! So any other time you eat excess sugar all you are doing is creating a FAT storing machine.
“Simple” Sugar and refined carbohydrates should be avoided. When it comes to carbs, choose foods that are a “complex” carbohydrate and not “simple”. Simple and complex carbs are defined by their given Glycemic Index number:
The Glycemic index- indicates how fast a food is converted into sugar. Too much Simple sugar denatures the receptor sites for most of our metabolic hormones like insulin. Too much sugar can cause insulin resistance, which can cause the body to secrete more because it becomes insufficient. The more insulin that floats around the less efficient it becomes. This can lead to diabetes.
The following is a breakdown of the glycemic index. A number below 55 is considered a Complex carbohydrate. Above 55 is considered a Simple sugar.
The Glycemic Index broken down:
Low GI =55<
Medium GI =55>69
High GI = 70 or more (you can find this at any health food store or online)
The glycemic index can be found by doing a Google search.
The Glycemic load- is also important, which is how much sugar is in a serving. The glycemic load has become an equally important statistic as the index. The index is used to predict glycemic load. Glycemic index (x) the total grams of carbs per serving. Divide that number by 100. A number from 1-10 is considered low. 11-19 is moderate and over 20 is high. Always shoot low.
What are Net Carbs? Taking the total grams of carbs in a food and subtracting the fiber content will determine net carbs. Most people like to count net carbs because they believe dietary fiber does not affect blood sugar and our bodies can’t pull calories from them. This statement holds true to insoluble but not soluble fibers. So a good rule of thumb when counting net carbs is to determine which ones are soluble and insoluble. Fiber choices are explained more in depth below.
What are “Sugar Alcohols”? They are artificial sweeteners added to foods. Many are not digestible and have fewer calories than carbs, which is why they are used. It’s easy to tell which foods have them because they will usually list the term “net carbs” in the ingredients list. Some common names are glycerol, erythritol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol and lactitol. Basically any ingredient that ends in an “ol”. Each one listed above has different properties that determine which type of foods they are best used in. What makes these undesirable is that they can cause cramping and a host of other digestive issues and other indirect dysfunctions. Why are they not recommended? Most of these sweeteners are excreted in our urine, which in turn increases the frequency of urination. The increase in urination causes a loss of crucial minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. All these are related to cramping. Magnesium however is vital for muscle relaxation as well as many other vital processes. If we can’t get muscles to relax they become stiff and rigid over time and lend themselves to stiff and sore joints.
Other important food quality aspects are:
1. No bread or white flower. Unless it’s sourdough, pumpernickel or Ezekiel.
2. No fried foods.
3. Limited Saturated fats- however, an occasional steak, butter or cream is acceptable. These are a much better choice- avocado’s, walnuts, almonds, egg yolk, olives, flaxseed, hemp seed and chia seeds. Replace chicken as well with turkey and fatty fish like salmon and sardines.
4. Eliminate all vegetable oils (used in any way) and select the following instead. Olive oil, avocado oil, peanut oil and coconut oil.
Note: Do not cook with olive due to its low smoke point, which is the point or temperature at which it begins to “smoke”. This is a concern because at this point it not only becomes harmful but also dangerous. Once oil begins to smoke, it is getting close to its “flash point” and could catch fire and ignite the gasses it’s giving off. That’s why olive oil is best used on salads and other cold foods. It does not mean they can’t be used to cook with, just use extra caution. The term “virgin” olive oil is common. What this refers to is at what point the oil is stored after processing it from crushing nuts and seeds or pressing olives in this case. The faster it can be stored it is referred to as “virgin”. This is why they called raw or “virgin”. You can guess then what “Extra virgin” and these other adjectives mean. Stored even faster.
- No Trans Fat– it’s usually in many fast foods and processed meats. When you see “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils on an ingredient list, the food contains trans fats. Trans-fat can raise (LDL) cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. The same goes for vegetable oil, which denatures the coding on lipid molecules making it harder for the cell to identify. NOTE: Sugar does this as well. That’s why more and more cardiologist are having patients that are experiencing elevated cholesterol levels refrain from sugar. High fructose corn syrup is a huge culprit. It’s a manufactured sugar that is in most processed foods and drinks today.
- High fructose corn syrup or (HFCS) is a manufactured form of sugar or corn syrup that consists of glucose and fructose in an “unbound” relationship. This unbound relationship is not like other sugar molecules that are bound and require digestion. Since fructose is sweeter than glucose, the corn industry chemically changed the corn syrup molecule by converting some of the glucose into fructose which makes HFCS sweeter the regular corn syrup. This form of sugar (HFCS) is much cheaper to produce as well. What is unsettling is that the production of HFCS is proprietary and process of how it is made remains unknown. The fructose portion of HFSC bypasses digestion and goes straight to the liver where it converts the fructose into fat, making HFSC a major contributor to fatty liver. In addition, this fructose does not signal insulin secretion to lower blood sugar and causes us to continue eating because the hunger mechanism is not regulated properly and the we never feel full. Since we continue to eat, the glucose portion of HFSC requires insulin to lower blood levels. When the fat cell becomes saturated with glucose it converts the glucose into fructose inside the cell. The higher concentrations of fructose in the cell can be dangerous. So the body turns off accepting more glucose from insulin and the individual becomes insulin resistant. Subsequently, more and more glucose will be left circulating in the blood and become a major contributor of diabetes.
Eat a variety of proteins, fish, turkey, eggs and lean meats. Lentils are high in protein and excellent when combined with BROWN rice as well as peas.
- Eat as many green vegetables as you wish and choose other “colors” as well. Keep in mind vegetables that grow in the ground like carrots, beats, potatoes and parsnips have more calories per serving than most vegetables that grow out of the ground.
- Make your meat and dairy grass fed and antibiotic free. A personal favorite of mine is Greek yogurt. Also, if you’re lactose intolerant a good substitute for milk is almond milk. A brand called “Silk” is excellent and the unsweetened version only has 35 calories per serving. Note- if you are lactose intolerant whipping cream and fermented cheeses like Parmesan have next to no lactose in them from the fermenting process.
- Consume fruits consisting of a low glycemic index. I believe focusing on berries is best. For more variety these are good as well- apples, kiwi, cherries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches & plums.
- Eat whole grains and not white flower. For example- Eat brown rice not white and have wheat pasta instead of regular. Also, it’s better to eat what are called “sprouted grains”. It’s a process in which the grain is soaked in water and then removed so it can sprout or germinate. Lectin is a plants protective mechanism to help keep insects away so it can eventually germinate or sprout under the right temperature and moisture conditions. When humans eat lectins, they can irritate the digestive tract and cause things like leaky gut. Sprouting can be done at home but it is a tricky process and if not done right can be harmful.
- Instead of cereal select oatmeal (Old Fashioned) or cream of wheat.
I always recommend not salting your food and to be aware of food labels and how much sodium is in the product. Daily sodium intake for normal healthy adults should be below 1500mgs a day. There are approximately 9 different types of salt. I like to use Himalayan pink salt. It tastes cleaner and has 84 essential minerals your body requires. It can reduce muscle cramping and spasms, promote blood sugar health and also help to promote a healthy PH within the cells.
It is very important to drink approximately 1 oz. per kilogram of body weight (89kg =195lbs / 89 ounces a day) spread out evenly throughout the day. It will not only keep you healthy and hydrated but it will also aid in fat loss. When the kidneys don’t get enough water they work harder and don’t function at their best. The liver is forced to work harder to help out and “puts aside” its less important tasks, like burning fat for energy. Instead it will use more carbohydrates, which is easier to use than fat and much more is stored in the muscles than the liver.
One more important water fact. Try not to drink too much with a meal because it will dilute the digestive enzymes. Have it about 10 minutes before a meal or 45 minutes after. NOTE: for athletes or people sweating a lot be sure to drink a 7% carbohydrate solution using glucose polymers. This will help absorption during extensive sweating. That is about 30-40 calories per 8 ounces.
Fibers are the structural parts of plants. Most are complex carbohydrates. Fibers can also be classified according to their solubility in water. Two types of fibers include soluble and insoluble. In general, water-soluble fibers dissolve in hot water and occur in high concentrations in fruits, whole grains, oats, barley, legumes, and some vegetables; water insoluble fibers are found in higher concentrations in vegetables, wheat, and cereals. It is important to include both types of fiber in your diet. Water-soluble fibers delay the stomach’s emptying and the transit of chyme through the intestines; they have also been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Water insoluble fibers accelerate the transit time of chyme and increase fecal weight. In the body both types of fiber slow starch breakdown and delay glucose absorption into the blood. Most healthy adults require approx. 21-40 grams of fiber a day.
Many people have a need or desire to eat late at night before bed. I am a firm believer in not eating carbohydrates at least 4 hours before going to bed. That means any carbohydrate other than green leafy vegetables or other low calorie vegetables i.e., hearts of palm, artichokes, tomatoes, onions and string beans. I also feel competitive athletes or other persons striving to obtain a low level of body fat and who are on a calorie restricted diet, should consume about (2) oz. of lean meat protein right before bed. Turkey is best for it’s L-tryptophan content, which helps us fall asleep. This form of protein will provide the body with a “time released” version of amino acids while you are sleeping, which is 8 hours without food. This is a good habit to minimize muscle breakdown and keep hunger at bay. To re-iterate, I believe in doing this only when the individual is on a calorie-restricted diet. So be sure your not eating a lot of junk or empty calories late night.
VITAMINS & SUPPLEMENTS:
There are two kinds, water soluble and fat-soluble. Fat-soluble are stored in our bodies adipose tissue so they are easier to overuse and become dangerous, especially to organs like the liver. As we age our digestive systems are not as efficient due to aging, poor diets, antibiotics, prescription drugs, alcohol and other environmental factors. So supplements, if taken wisely under a knowledgeable professional, can be a good addition, especially a good protein supplement or bar. I am not a big believer in taking vitamins if you are healthy and under 40 years of age. Vitamins are needed in small amounts and minerals even less. Some vitamins, if taken in excess, such as Vitamins A, D, and E & K are harmful to the liver. Too much Vit B6 (More than 600mg/day) can cause loss of sensation in peripheral nerves. Too much Vit D can cause excessive Calcium deposits. If you have a poor diet or have been advised to by a Nutritionist, Dietician or Physician or you are involved in a vigorous exercise program, I believe supplements have their place and can be a good addition to a healthy lifestyle. If you are one of those people that must eat on the run, it’s important to remember, protein supplements ARE NOT meant to be meal replacements and only to be used as a supplement to your regular diet.
More below on supplements.
AS ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING ANYTHING, ESPECIALLY IF YOUR HAVING SURGERY or PREGNANT!!!!! Supplements are not regulated so many times you are not getting what is reported on the label in product strength, contents or quality. The following recommendations are for informational purposes and in no way should be adopted or applied unless discussed with your physician.
Supplement RULES: SERIOUS BUSINESS.
1) ALWAYS, check with your doctor or other healthcare provider before taking any supplements: See a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine)
2) May interfere with Surgeries, Medications, or other procedures. For example:
- Fish oil & gingko biloba- inhibit Clotting.
- Grapefruit- can endanger a person taking medication because it blocks the enzyme your body uses to break down certain drugs. In turn the body can reach toxic levels of the medication. Not just grapefruit but other citrus fruits like limes and others. The medication list is long but involves cholesterol meds, anti anxiety drugs, blood pressure meds and ones that fight infections to name a few.
3) Be careful not to “Double Dip”- Extra accidently taken- i.e. two supplements have the same thing in it.
4) Be sure to read labels for food and other allergies you may have.
5) Be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the labels.
CATEGORIES OF SUPPLEMENTS:
METHODS OF APPLICATION:
-Pro-hormones- Precursors for actual hormones, i.e. Mark McGuire-Adrostennedione
-Anti-oxidant’s- prevents cell membrane oxidation. Cut open an apple and squeeze a lemon on it.
-Vitamins- Water-soluble & fat-soluble.
-Minerals- Usually metals like zinc, copper, iron etc.
-Herbs- Plant sources in which many drugs are made from i.e. The salicin in willow bark converts to salicylic acid which is what aspirin is made from.
Herbalism, Nutrition almanac, Deep nutrition, Sports Nutrition.
The supplements below are currently used by the medical community and have proven health benefits.
* Co Q10- Heart health, helps create energy. Must be taken if you are on statin drugs aka Cholesterol lowering meds.
* Vitamin & Mineral- Food based, no “Mega formulas”. Usually for pre-natal.
* Vitamin D3- Bones, immune system.
* Omega 3 (DHA / EPA) – Mental health, heart and inflammation and also thins the blood.
* Trans resveratrol – Knotweed and Red wine. Good for anti aging.
* Turmeric-(Curcumin)- Gives mustard it’s yellow color. This is a CO2 inhibitor like Ibuprophen for inflammation. It’s natural though.
* Magnesium- Help relax muscles and most Americans are deficient. –sublingual Magnesium Citrate is my favorite or a powdered version called- Calm.
* Probiotics- Heal intestinal dysbiosis as well as fermented foods (Immune system)
Good luck and I hope this helps