Combining Foods for Optimal Health
In seeing patients every day, we inevitably have to focus on nutrition and combining macronutrients for health and vitality. This can be a little more advanced because we are now discussing combining your carbs, proteins and fats in the most optimal way for weight loss and energy. This is beneficial for competitors, athletes, individuals looking to shed a few pounds and for professionals looking to make it through a long day at the office. These are the clients and patients I see all day long in my practice and this is a general guideline for the average person. Please remember that each person is unique and we can run specialty labs to determine your best course of action. There is also metabolic typing assessment that can determine if fats, proteins or good carbs work best for you or a combination (mixed type) of the three. With that being said, most people don’t run serum, saliva and urine tests to figure out their optimal levels.
Let’s start with some factual information. Insulin levels are high in the morning and most people grab cereals, bread or bagels which increases insulin even more leading to a midday crash. Even the healthy carbs like vegetables and fruits are best to have in moderation in the morning so you can level out your insulin levels and not have the highs and lows that come with blood sugar fluctuation. Traditional recommendations have been to start your day with lots of carbohydrates and then have more protein later in the day. I can surmise a general observation that diabetes and obesity have never been at higher rates than in the past five years and people are consuming energy drinks at an alarming rate. Take a look around your office or workplace and look at all the people grabbing a coffee or energy drink at 2 or 3 p.m. They are looking for excessive caffeine or sugar to prop up declining blood sugar levels or even hypoglycemia. You see when you have carbs like bagels, bread and cereal in the morning, your blood sugar levels rise, insulin is produced by the pancreas to carry the excess sugar to the cells. If the cells are full, the excess sugar is sent back to the liver (glycogen) for use later on and/or it is stored as fat. My recommendation is to start your day off with more protein and healthy fats. This will normalize your blood sugar and insulin levels in the body and give you sustained energy.
The second step is to have more healthy carbs in the afternoon to keep the sugar levels normalized and a steady balance within the body. Again, this goes against the conventional model you have been taught but it works at reducing fat and keeping your energy levels naturally high throughout the day. I would go with some lean meat and avocados, almond butter in the morning with one vegetable and some more vegetables and a couple of fruits in the afternoon augmented with some more meat/eggs and coconut, nut butter, etc. Try it out and see how it works. This is from a mentor of mine whom I respect in the health field. Dr. Sara Gottfried states: “Focus on protein and healthy fats in the morning and carbohydrates in the evening. We tend to be more insulin-resistant in the morning so if we eat carbohydrates at that time, like fruits and grains, we will store it as fat more quickly.” 1
People hear this term a great deal but most of my clients don’t know what it means and why it may be useful for some people when trying to lose weight. Intermittent fasting is simply a temporary pattern in the timing of how you eat. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them with the greatest benefit specifically for weight loss. I will recommend this to some of my clients if they want to change things up and avoid becoming stagnant. It is a way to get your body moving again. Here is a little background on how the body recognizes food. Your body is in a “fed state” when it is digesting or absorbing food. This typically lasts for three to six hours. Your insulin levels will be higher as insulin is being produced to deal with the influx of nutrients. Your body typically goes into a fasted state around 10 to 12 hours after your last meal and your insulin levels will be lower. The way in which I will describe or define intermittent fasting is eating your normal daily caloric intake of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates from 11 in the morning until 7 at night. That will leave 16 hours where you go without food. People who are in good health with no underlying health issues can try this if they want to lose some weight and understand their body better. I would consult with your doctor as people with documented health issues should not try this. Some examples of people who should not try this are diabetics, people with autoimmune conditions, HPAA deficiencies, disease, and many more health concerns. My patients and clients enjoy changing up their routine and tricking the body so your receptors stay sensitive and ready for the signals your body will send it.
Mike, FDN, PT
About the Author:
After completing his Degree at Ryerson University and spending 15 years in Corporate, he graduated from the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition program in California and is now the CEO of Interactive Body Balance where he oversees a vibrant functional medicine health practice. Transitioning from Corporate to the entrepreneurial paradigm has involved seeing patients and clients via the conventional method but also virtually. He has authored the popular self-help book titled “The Transformation From Within” and the Functional Medicine Book ” How To Restore Your Health”, hosts the highly ranked ITunes Podcast called Interactive Body Balance, is creating multiple online health courses while also presenting to audiences around the world.
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