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Find out how toFight Fat with Food.
Today, what to eat has become a most important question as we quickly realize our physical health pays the price for poor nutrition, and that human health is on the decline across the planet. Perhaps the best way to grapple with the situation is to better understand what foods – and, more specifically, what balance of macronutrients – will protect your health over time. And boy do I love it when the answers are right at my fingertips!
Macronutrients Vs. Micronutrients
Fats, proteins and carbohydrates are “macronutrients” – nutritional components of the human diet that the body requires in large quantities in order to carry out its essential functions. Other elements of nutrition, such as minerals and vitamins, are called “micronutrients,” and they are needed in much smaller amounts. Even though micronutrients come from food and are not consumed in huge quantities, they are equally important.
See alsoHow We Got the Fat Thing All Wrong.
As a nutritional therapy practitioner (NTP) and advocate of clean eating, I recommend consuming macronutrients in the following ratio: 30% fats + 30% proteins + 40% carbohydrates. Because “carbohydrates” is a confusing term to some, I’d like to clarify that half your carbs should come from whole, soaked grains and half from fruits and vegetables.
The 30/30/40 ratio is an excellent place to start, as it gives your body an opportunity to be properly nourished. If we acknowledge the fact that some of us feel better when we limit or avoid whole grains and that others do better with more fat, then we must also realize that the ideal balance of macronutrients for one person is not the ideal balance for another. The proportions I recommend can be changed to better suit your personal needs and how your body responds to the macronutrient breakdown, but if you’ve never looked closely at fat/protein/carb proportions before, now is the time to begin.
Should You Go Grain-Free?
Recently, I removed all grains from my daily eating due to the difficulty I seem to have processing gluten. I made the decision to do so when I noticed abdominal bloat, pain and gas after eating oatmeal. Now that I’ve made the change, I feel and look so much better and my stomach once again has abdominal definition. I don’t necessarily recommend everyone avoid grains though, so don’t follow in my steps unless you too are having tummy troubles after eating them. You can check with a physician or naturopath to determine whether or not you have gluten issues.
See also Should You Avoid Gluten?
In response to eating fewer carbs from grains, I am now eating more healthy fats sourced from fatty fish, organic unsalted butter, coconut butter (a particular favorite), goat cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, oils from nuts and seeds, and certain animal proteins containing fat. Did you know that you must consume fat to burn fat? But your fat choices must be well sourced. It’s also interesting to note that the body can make carbohydrates from protein in a process called “gluconeogenesis.”
My current macronutrient breakdown looks more like this because of my gluten intolerance: 40% fats + 35% proteins + 25% carbs (20% from leafy greens + 5% from fruit). Several weeks into this new way of eating, I lost six pounds, saw the return of my abs and experienced an increase in energy!
Don’t worry; this macronutrient formula still falls within recommended NTP guidelines. Some people go as high as 50 to 65% fat consumption and still manage to keep themselves trim and healthy, but that depends on many factors including sources of fat, activity level and the individual’s body chemistry. You have to experiment a little to figure out what works best for you.
3 Squares or 6 Small Meals?
I am strict about following the eat-clean habit of consuming six small meals per day. This is the only way to maintain steady blood glucose levels, which is one of the drivers for maintaining an efficient, fat-burning metabolism. The last carbs I usually eat each day are at dinner – and always sweet potatoes, greens and other vegetables. If I am nibbling at my fingernails with hunger late in the evening, I tend to reach for a hardboiled egg and half an apple. I usually check if it’s actual hunger by drinking a glass of water or cup of tea first – sometimes hunger is nothing more than thirst.
That hardboiled egg is an important go-to food for me, as protein is the backbone of a fat-burning, body-building diet, holding together and healing all tissue. It must be consumed with fat for it to be properly metabolized. If you’re used to sticking to egg whites only, consider adding one yolk to your omelette or scrambled eggs to better metabolize the protein. I also love salmon, nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt, bison, venison, beef tenderloin, chicken and turkey as lean protein sources that contain healthy fat.
You may find yourself wondering why I’m suggesting you eat more fat. Well, the macronutrient is so important to human health that some cultures prize it over all else. In upcoming issues I will talk more about this necessary and misunderstood nutrient. I just love discussing it! I feel as if I am using a dirty word every time – it’s fun!
Meet your macronutrients: Fats, proteins and carbs
But what are they for? Tosca Reno breaks it down for you
- Provide a source of energy
- Are important in the construction of cell membranes
- Play a role in slowing the absorption of food for energy production
- Are necessary for healthy liver function
- Enhance the flavor profile of food
- Are required for the proper absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K
- Support the body’s immune system
- Aid muscle fibers to contract and move
- Produce enzymes that help catalyze chemical reactions in the body
- Produce hormones
- Support structural components – cartilage, keratin, collagen and elastin
- Are a source of energy
- Promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract
- Promote overall bodily function