EAT ON PURPOSE
Eating on purpose is about WHAT we eat as much as WHO we bring to the table.
The brain is made of 60% fat. Did you know that? Then wouldn't it make sense after all we've been told that fat is not either bad nor good but essential to life? Our bodies and brains are so intricately interwoven that a lack in one type of food will cause cravings for things that may tip the scale rather than balance it.
The brain is the only carbohydrate dependent organ in the body. Yet - the majority of glucose that we need can be manufactured from fat and protein.
Becoming more conscious of carbohydrates in our pasta/bread/dessert centric society is simple and part of becoming a more informed consumer.
5 basic ketogenic principles that I adhere to and advocate are:
01. Fat adaptation: Becoming fat adapted is like training your body for a marathon except this time, you're switching from Keds to Nikes. By eliminating sugar, our bodies turn to its abundant fat stores and uses it for its energy. A lean person has about 30 lbs of stored fat and only 1 lb of stored glucose (carbs). It's pretty clear that evolution made a decision on which fuel source our bodies prefer, no?
02. Metabolic flexibility: Constant around the clock eating trains the body to look for continual sources of glucose (sugar) to burn. When we become metabolically flexible cravings for food lessen because the button, which is likened to a dimmer switch, gets turned down. We stop seeking highly palatable foods because we have the sustenance - namely from fat and protein and low glycemic fruits and vegetables - to wait until our next feeding window. When we're metabolically flexible, the body has learned to use stored fat for energy and allows the body ample time to digest.
03. Eating fat - which means not fearing fat. Most bodies are accustomed to burning glucose for energy (it's okay, it's not your fault). However, fat has an uncanny ability to keep us fuller longer and when we're full = the less we forage (think late nights digging through the cabinets). Giving ourselves more of what we need and less of what we don’t, keeps our engine running at a higher caliber - and who doesn't want an efficient vehicle driving them through this wild ride called life?
04. Fasting: simpler said then done. In order for the body to reap from our nutritional inputs it needs time. I don’t suggest women adhere to strict fasting but I personally practice NOT grazing. Eating continually throughout the day keeps us looking for food rather than burning through what we’ve eaten - therefore eating nutritionally dense, high quality food is important. Longer spans between feeding windows give the cells in our body (especially our liver) a chance to regenerate which contributes to increased efficiency, a slowing down of the aging process and a medical phenomenon known as autophagy.
05. Stress and Inflammation: The root of all illness is inflammation. Prolonged stress leads to high levels of cortisol, our body's stress hormone. Stress alters the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate both the inflammatory and immune responses. From acne, to adrenal fatigue to weight gain to irritability - combating inflammation requires de-stressing the body and one of the primary ways we do that is through choosing foods that calm, nurture and nourish the body on a cellular level. Sugar is one of the main foods that causes inflammation, not to mention depression, in our bodies. By simply eliminating it we remove the majority of our self imposed stress.
06. Supplements: I definitely agree that we should be getting the majority of our nutrition from food. However, there is a distinct and medicinal place for herbs, adaptogens and in some cases, supplements. The ones I personally recommend include:
Magnesium - regulates muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and makes protein, bone, and DNA
Potassium - a key mineral that the body relies on heavily. Particularly beneficial in the early stages of fat adaptation as the kidneys secrete sodium & potassium. Also helps to lower blood pressure.
Vitamin D3 - a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus. Having the right amount of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus is important for building and maintaining strong bones.
Omega 3/Fish Oil from a reputable source - high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3s have been studied in various mood disorders, such as postpartum depression, with some promising results. In bipolar disorder (manic depression), omega-3s may be most effective for the depressed phase rather than the manic phase of the illness.
Zinc - needed for immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function
Copper - enables the body to form red blood cells. It helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, and it contributes to iron absorption.
Sodium (salt, preferably pink salt) - essential for life. It's regulated in the body by your kidneys, and it helps control your body's fluid balance.
Ashwaganda - an ancient medicinal herb - it can reduce anxiety and stress, help fight depression, boost fertility and testosterone in men, and even boost brain function
***For women specifically: Black Cohosh - commonly been used to treat symptoms of menopause, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), painful menstruation, acne, weakened bones (osteoporosis), and for starting labor in pregnant women.
Eat when you’re hungry
Stimulate but don’t over caffeine-ate (listen to your body, observe your adrenals. If you're tired - sleep. If you want a boost, coffee/tea may help you feel less depressed but if you have a habit of drinking coffee consider taking a break. Over use is abuse and can lead to imbalance and cause more fatigue rather than more energy.)
Eat fat with protein (ex. steak with butter, salmon with mayo)
Eat fat with vegetables (ex. olive oil on salad or non starchy vegetables)
Eat protein with carbs (ex. lean turkey on rice cakes, grilled fish & winter squash)
Don’t eat fat with carbs (ex. meatballs and pasta, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches *the fat and carbs compete for digestion)
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Head on over to the Food page and get some simple inspiration to add to your repertoire!