Monthly Archives: August 2010

The 4-1-1 on Protein

Hello everyone!  Long time no blog.  I hope your weekend was as great as mine.  In the midst of yard work, getting my “back-to-school” hair do, attending a wedding and a birthday party, Shea and I took a little field trip to Decatur to do our farmer’s market run and finally try out Farm Burger.  If you live in the Atlanta area, you gotta get over there and try this place.  They use all grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free beef, and all the produce comes from local farms.  It was a super yummy Saturday night date spot!

Speaking of quality protein, it’s time I do a post about it.  I’ve already covered  carbs and fats, so now I need to talk about proteins, what they are and why we need them.  Also, I’ve received several questions about how to combine all these macro-nutrients together to make balanced meals, so I’ll address that too.  So here goes nothing!

What are proteins?

Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies.  We use and assemble approximately 50,000 different proteins to form our organs, nerves, muscle and flesh.

What are the roles of proteins in the body?

  • Hormones are proteins that regulate our metabolism and almost every function in the body.
  • Antibodies are proteins that help fight infection.
  • Enzymes are proteins that initiate and manage all biochemical processes.
  • Hemoglobin is protein in the form of red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • Proteins consist of amino acids that make up our sex hormones and 95% of our muscles, including our hearts.  RNA and DNA also require amino acids, so we need proteins for our genes to function properly.

So what does all this mean for us?  It means we should be consuming high-quality, complete proteins on a daily basis to maintain a healthy system!  Approximately 30% of our daily caloric intake should come from protein.  This is especially important for endurance athletes and others that demand a lot from their bodies!

What kind of protein should I be eating?

  • Poultry and eggs – go for free-range, organic varieties with no hormones or antibiotics.  They cost more than the regular brand, but it’s worth it!
  • Grass-fed beef – also more expensive, but it’s more humane and so much better for us.
  • Whole, raw or cultured dairy products
  • Low-toxicity seafood – go for lower mercury fish such as tilapia or Alaskan salmon.  Farm-raised salmon and tuna can be very high in mercury!  This is a great resource on the dirty dozen of seafood!
  • Beans – soak them to reduce the “musical fruit” effect!

How do I balance proteins with fats and carbs?

Fats should also make up 30% of our diet, and carbs make up the other 40% (Remember to stick to low glycemic fruits and veggies!  Keep starchy carbs to a minimum (10-15%) and try to always go for whole grain options!).  Cut down on sugar intake, saving it for special occasions rather than everyday use!

Keep it balanced! We need carbs for quick energy and fuel for the brain, fats for long-burning fuel and proteins for healthy muscles and tissues!

So how can we be sure that we’re following this 40/30/30 model at every meal?  Well, it’s pretty dang hard!  Unless you want to carry around a book of food counts and make sure everything you eat fits into this model, I think it’s easier to just ballpark it.  Also, remember that this is just a range and some people need a bit more or less of certain macro-nutrients.  Be aware of your body and how you feel after meals and adjust accordingly.  Your body will let you know what it really needs!

Look at this well-balanced meal: Plenty of low glycemic carbs in the form of fruits and veggies, high-quality protein in the form of grilled chicken and kidney beans, and fats in the form of dressing and avocado.

Since the price (and quality) of beef and pork has gone way down in recent years, many Americans are getting way too much protein in the form of red meat.  In addition to selecting the high-quality grass-fed variety, try to cut back to 1-2 servings a week and also incorporate a variety of other proteins into your diet.  This guy agrees!

How can I tell if I’m combining fats, carbs and proteins in the right ratio?

When you’re eating well-balanced meals that are properly prepared and nutrient dense, you feel like this:

  • Full and satisfied, no desire for more food and don’t get hungry soon after eating
  • No sweet cravings
  • Energized by food, strong sense of energy and well-being
  • Strong clarity of mind
  • Uplift in emotions after eating

Here are some signs that you might not be combining your foods well, or that you’re eating poor-quality fats, carbs and proteins:

  • Feel physically full after meals, but still hungry
  • Don’t feel satisfied, like something was missing from the meal
  • Sweet cravings
  • Feel hungry soon after meals, constant need to snack
  • Too much or too little energy
  • Become hyper or jittery
  • Energy drops, fatigue, exhaustion after meals
  • Feel mentally sluggish or spacey
  • Inability to think clearly and quickly
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

As you can see, not only will eating nourishing, balanced meals keep your blood sugar stabilized, but it will help you feel and look better, be more satisfied with your meals and live your best life!

As always, I welcome your questions about proteins or the 40/30/30 model, as well as your suggestions for well-balanced meals that use high quality fats, proteins and carbs.

Here’s to a new week and a fresh start to our nutritional health!

A Mexican Fiesta the Whole and Healthy Way

My name is JoAnna and I am addicted to Mexican food.  There, I said it.  They say admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery.  I’ve sabotaged some serious weight loss progress in my day with a good old gorge fest on chips, queso, burritos and everything in between.  I can try to resist it, but at the end of the day, Mexican is a cheap option that almost everyone can agree on, and we all need to get our fix now and then!  So I’m thinking, why give up something I adore (not quite as much as sushi, but it’s way up there) when I can just give it a healthy makeover?  So last night, that’s exactly what we did!

Shea and I had my sister Rosie over for dinner since she was all sad and lonely with her hubby out of town.  Our Mexican menu consisted of chicken fajitas/chicken fajita salads with Shea’s homemade fresh pico de gallo and my guacamole.  Moral of the story: you can still enjoy Mexican, simply by taking the focus off using large quantities of cheese, sour cream and other unhealthy fixings and instead loading up with fresh, organic, colorful veggies. We also used organic, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken and whole grain sprouted fajitas.  Here are all the recipes so you can have your own fiesta in the comfort of your very own casa!

Chicken Fajitas/Chicken Fajita Salad

  • Marinate boneless chicken breasts in lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper and grill them or saute them on the stove.
  • Saute garlic, red and yellow bell peppers, and onions in a separate skillet.
  • When both the chicken and veggies are fully cooked, combine for serving.
  • Serve into tortillas for fajitas or over lettuce for salad and add Mexican fixings (Salsa, cheese, olives or whatever else you want!)

There were plenty of leftovers for lunch today.

Guacamole

  • Peel and slice fresh avocados.
  • Add fresh cilantro, onions, tomatoes, lime juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mash up to desired consistency (I like mine nice and chunky!) and serve.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I make some mean gauc!

Shea’s Homemade Pico de Gallo

Finely chop and combine the following ingredients:

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 cerano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • juice from 2 limes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Goes great with organic tortilla chips or as a topper on fajitas or salads.

Put it all together, and you’ve got a fresh Mexican meal, minus the bad fats, preservatives and guilt!

Pair all this with my all-natural margarita, and you’ve really got yourself a fiesta!

Even though you can’t control exactly what goes into your food when dining out at a Mexican restaurant, you can do your best to follow these same principles, avoiding or at least going easy on the dishes heavy with fried foods, cheese, sour cream and other heavy sauces and loading up on grilled meats, salsa and veggies.  And don’t let the chips be your undoing!

Adios Amigos!

To Detox or Not to Detox?

It seems like every time we turn on the radio or television, we’re bombarded with ads and infomercials for “get fit quick” programs.  It’s so easy to fall for all the gimmicks, whether it’s an appetite suppressant, a fancy workout regime, a meal replacement or an energy drink.  But the reality is, we didn’t put our weight on overnight.  It was the result of the choices we made and the habits we formed over an extended period of time.  And there really aren’t any short cuts for losing weight, if you do it the healthy way that is.  Once again, we have to make wise choices and form healthy habits over an extended period of time if we want to look and feel better.

So even though we know all of this, why do we keep falling for all the crash diets?  That’s easy – we get frustrated and impatient.  We want to be at our goal weight RIGHT NOW, and we’re willing to do anything to get there, even if it’s not the healthiest route to Svelte-ville.

Speaking of crash diets, this post is all about detoxes and cleanses, and the wrong and right way to carry them out.  While they are meant to facilitate the clearing of toxins and other harmful materials from our bodies, more and more people are using them as a quick fix, a way to shed pounds before a big event or vacation.  We hear about the celebrities doing them before the big awards shows, so they must be a good thing for everyone, right?…WRONG!

Detoxification is the body’s NATURAL internal cleansing process and the way it constantly heals and repairs itself from the damage done by toxins (chemicals, pollution, allergens, medications, poor-quality foods, stress, heavy metal exposure, etc.).  It frees up cells and organs to function properly and efficiently.  Detoxification and cleansing processes are nothing new.  They’ve been around for thousands of years across many cultures through fasting, sweat lodges, colonics, herbs, exercise, etc.  They have been found to bring emotional and spiritual clarity and improve physical health and energy.

The body treats processed foods as a toxin!

Eating a properly prepared, nutrient dense whole foods diet is the first step to making sure your body is effectively detoxing all the time.   After all, junk foods are toxic to the body, and eating too much food in the wrong combination impairs the detox process.  We eliminate toxins through our cardiovascular, lymphatic, digestive, urinary, and respiratory systems as well as our skin.  The liver is the body’s master detoxification site, responsible for cleaning the blood that nourishes the whole body.  It filters the toxins  and prepares them for elimination.

Before we jump into an extreme detox or fast, we must first do everything we can to make sure all our elimination pathways our open.  We need to eat healthy foods to facilitate good digestion, stay adequately hydrated and take steps to balance our blood sugar, minerals and essential fatty acids.  We can also do other things to facilitate the elimination of toxins during a cleanse, such as getting daily exercise, sitting in a sauna or getting a massage.

So make sure you carry out your next cleanse or detox program the RIGHT way.  If you’re thinking about trying one as a crash diet in order to lose weight quickly, please think again.  It can be very dangerous to our bodies when we go from all to nothing and back to all in such a short amount of time.  However, if you’ve been working on your health for a long time and are already taking steps to eat well, exercise and make other healthy choices, a cleanse can be an appropriate way  to clear out your elimination systems and give them a fresh start once or twice a year.

If a person doesn’t have good digestion, even the healthiest diet can clog the body’s detoxification pathways, making a cleanse pointless and even harmful!

Another thing to note is that how we break a fast or cleanse is just as import as the cleanse itself.  It’s important that we ease back into our regular way of eating, rather than going all out and eating whatever we want.

If you have questions about various detox programs or therapies you’ve heard about, please let one of our staff members know.  At Longevity, we provide a number of detoxifying therapies, such as lymphatic treatments, hyperbaric therapy, massage, foot baths and saunas, and carry several high-quality cleansing supplements, herbs and health shakes in our nutrition shoppe.