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Eating

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan and Menu That Can Save Your Life

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A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables.

There are many different types of low-carb diets, and studies show that they can cause weight loss and improve health.

This is a detailed meal plan for a low-carb diet. What to eat, what to avoid and a sample low-carb menu for one week.

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan

What foods you should eat depends on a few things, including how healthy you are, how much you exercise and how much weight you have to lose.

Consider all of this as a general guideline, not something written in stone.

The Basics

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils and maybe even some tubers and non-gluten grains.

Don’t Eat: Sugar, HFCS, wheat, seed oils, trans fats, “diet” and low-fat products and highly processed foods.

Foods to Avoid

You should avoid these 7 foods, in order of importance:

  • Sugar:Soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, candy, ice cream and many others.
  • Gluten Grains:Wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Includes breads and pastas.
  • Trans Fats:“Hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
  • High Omega-6 Seed- and Vegetable Oils:Cottonseed-, soybean-, sunflower-, grapeseed-, corn-, safflower and canola oils.
  • Artificial Sweeteners:Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Cyclamates and Acesulfame Potassium. Use Stevia instead.
  • “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Products:Many dairy products, cereals, crackers, etc.
  • Highly Processed Foods:If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.

You MUST read ingredients lists, even on foods labelled as “health foods.”

Low Carb Food List – Foods to Eat

You should base your diet on these real, unprocessed, low-carb foods.

  • Meat:Beef, lamb, pork, chicken and others. Grass-fed is best.
  • Fish:Salmon, trout, haddock and many others. Wild-caught fish is best.
  • Eggs:Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
  • Vegetables:Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and many others.
  • Fruits:Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries, strawberries.
  • Nuts and Seeds:Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • High-Fat Dairy:Cheese, butter, heavy cream, yogurt.
  • Fats and Oils:Coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil and cod fish liver oil.

If you need to lose weight, be careful with the cheese and nuts because they’re easy to overeat on. Don’t eat more than one piece of fruit per day.

Maybe Eat

If you’re healthy, active and don’t need to lose weight then you can afford to eat a bit more carbs.

  • Tubers:Potatoes, sweet potatoes and some others.
  • Non-gluten grains:Rice, oats, quinoa and many others.
  • Legumes:Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, etc. (If you can tolerate them).

You can have these in moderation if you want:

  • Dark Chocolate:Choose organic brands with 70% cocoa or higher.
  • Wine:Choose dry wines with no added sugar or carbs.

Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and may provide health benefits if you eat it in moderation. However, be aware that both dark chocolate and alcohol will hinder your progress if you eat/drink too much.

Drink

A Sample Low-Carb Menu for One Week

This is a sample menu for one week on a low carb diet plan.

It provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day, but as I mentioned above if you are healthy and active you can go beyond that.

proteinrules

 

Monday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with blueberries and a handful of almonds.
  • Dinner:Cheeseburger (no bun), served with vegetables and salsa sauce.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and eggs.
  • Lunch:Leftover burgers and veggies from the night before.
  • Dinner:Salmon with butter and vegetables.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast:Eggs and vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Shrimp salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner:Grilled chicken with vegetables.

Thursday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, berries, almonds and protein powder.
  • Dinner:Steak and veggies.

Friday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch:Chicken salad with some olive oil.
  • Dinner:Pork chops with vegetables.

Saturday

  • Breakfast:Omelet with various veggies.
  • Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with berries, coconut flakes and a handful of walnuts.
  • Dinner:Meatballs with vegetables.

Sunday

  • Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
  • Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, a bit of heavy cream, chocolate-flavored protein powder and berries.
  • Dinner:Grilled chicken wings with some raw spinach (salad) on the side.

Include plenty of low-carb vegetables in your diet. If your goal is to remain under 50 grams of carbs per day, then there is room for plenty of veggies and one fruit per day.

If you want to see examples of some of my go-to meals, read this:
7 Healthy Low-Carb Meals in Under 10 Minutes.

Again, if you’re healthy, lean and active, you can add some tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as some healthier grains like rice and oats.

Some Healthy, Low-Carb Snacks

There is no health reason to eat more than 3 meals per day, but if you get hungry between meals then here are some healthy, easy to prepare low-carb snacks that can fill you up:

  • A Piece of Fruit
  • Full-fat Yogurt
  • A Hard-Boiled Egg or Two
  • Baby Carrots
  • Leftovers From The Night Before
  • A Handful of Nuts
  • Some Cheese and Meat

Eating at Restaurants

At most restaurants, it is fairly easy to make your meals low carb-friendly.

  1. Order a meat- or fish-based main dish.
  2. Ask them to fry your food in real butter.
  3. Get extra vegetables instead of bread, potatoes or rice.

A Simple Low-Carb Shopping List

A good rule is to shop at the perimeter of the store, where the whole foods are likelier to be found.

Organic and grass-fed foods are best, but only if you can easily afford them. Even if you don’t buy organic, your diet will still be a thousand times better than the standard western diet.

Try to choose the least processed option that still fits into your price range.

  • Meat (Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, bacon)
  • Fish (Fatty fish like salmon is best)
  • Eggs (Choose Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs if you can)
  • Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Lard
  • Olive Oil
  • Cheese
  • Heavy Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Yogurt (full-fat, unsweetened)
  • Blueberries (can be bought frozen)
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Fresh vegetables: greens, peppers, onions, etc.
  • Frozen vegetables: broccoli, carrots, various mixes.
  • Salsa Sauce
  • Condiments: sea salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, etc.

I recommend clearing your pantry of all unhealthy temptations if you can: chips, candy, ice cream, sodas, juices, breads, cereals and baking ingredients like wheat flour and sugar.

Breakfast Ideas

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8 High-Protein Breakfasts You Must Try!

Throw away your alarm clock and toss out your bland morning shake. These 8 protein-rich breakfast recipes are so good they’ll be enough to get you up and going!

When you’re trying to fit more protein into your diet, eating just whole foods can be a jaw-tiring, stomach-filling challenge. In search of more high-protein items to increase their daily protein intake, many people make the right choice of supplementing with quality protein powder. Where they often go wrong, however, is in their approach.

I see too many people fall into the cycle of chugging bland protein shakes in between equally bland meals of chicken and broccoli. Eventually, they end up hating the thought of having to slam down another shake to hit their macros. If you’ve fallen into this trap—or feel yourself teetering near the edge—the athletes of MET-Rx and I are here to help you switch things up and find the best alternative uses for your favorite protein powder!

If you’ve been slamming a shake for breakfast, consider this article your protein salvation. Jump out of bed in the morning and give one of these absolutely delicious protein-packed recipes a shot.

1

BANANA PROTEIN MUFFINS

Who doesn’t love baked goods in the morning? (No one I know.) This mouth-watering recipe is a favorite from four-time Olympia Figure champ Nicole Wilkins’ kitchen. No need to hit the bakery—or blow your fitness goals—when you can make this tasty breakfast option in your own oven.

INGREDIENTS

LARGE BANANA: 1


EGG WHITES: 3/4 CUP


NONFAT, PLAIN GREEK YOGURT: 1/2 CUP


OATS: 3/4 CUP



SUGAR: 2 TBSP (OR SPLENDA BAKING SUGAR)


OPTIONAL: EXTRA BANANA SLICES FOR THE TOP OF THE MUFFIN


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pop all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Spray 12-tin muffin tray with cooking spray. Divide mixture evenly among 12 muffin tins. Place a thin slice of banana on top of each muffin.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 muffin
Recipe yields: 12 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 81
Fat1 g
Carbs12.3 g
Protein5.9 g

2

PUMPKIN VANILLA OATMEAL

Eating the same old oatmeal every morning is no fun. Mix things up with Nicole’s new twist on oatmeal. In just five minutes, you’ll have a new love and appreciation for the oats you’ve grown to adore!

INGREDIENTS

ROLLED OATS: 1/2 CUP


WATER: 1 CUP


CANNED PUMPKIN: 1/3 CUP



PUMPKIN PIE SPICE: 1/2 TSP


MAPLE SYRUP: 1 TSP (OR SUGAR-FREE SYRUP)


CHOPPED PECANS: 1 TSP


CHOPPED RAISINS: 1 TSP


DIRECTIONS
  1. In a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl, combine the oats and water. Pop them in the microwave for two minutes.
  2. Remove oats from the microwave and stir in the canned pumpkin, protein powder, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup. Top with raisins and pecans. Enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 bowl
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 298
Fat9.4 g
Carbs41.9 g
Protein16.2 g

3

BROWNIE OVERNIGHT PROTEIN OATMEAL

Just when you thought your protein-oatmeal barometer had reached the peak of awesomeness, and that a protein-rich breakfast couldn’t get any better, I’m here to prove you wrong. This chocolate-loaded dish is one of Nicole’s overnight-oat favorites. Add this amazing oatmeal recipe to your breakfast arsenal and pull it out when you’re craving a little something sweet!

INGREDIENTS

UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK (OR LOW FAT MILK OF CHOICE): 1/2 CUP


NONFAT, PLAIN GREEK YOGURT (OR MASHED BANANA OR PUMPKIN): 1/4 CUP


UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER: 1 TBSP (OR MORE, TO TASTE)


SEA SALT 1 TSP


STEVIA OR SPLENDA: 2 PACKETS


OLD-FASHIONED ROLLED OATS: 1/2 CUP



DIRECTIONS
  1. In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.
  2. Divide between two small bowls, mugs, or mason jars.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight so that the oats soften and absorb the liquid.
  4. Top with chopped nuts or topping of choice! Enjoy cold or microwave for 30-60 seconds to enjoy warm!

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 bowl
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 283
Fat7 g
Carbs36.5 g
Protein23 g

4

PROTEIN PANCAKE MUFFINS

Any protein breakfast recipe roundup would be seriously lacking without powered-up pancakes. Celebrity chef Gavan Murphy, otherwise known as “The Healthy Irishman,” has whipped up some of the finest-tasting pancake muffins in all of the land. Check them out for yourself!

INGREDIENTS

UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK: 1-1/2 CUPS


RIPE BANANA: 1


ALMOND EXTRACT: 2 TSP


EGG: 1


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in food processor, or if making by hand, mash the banana until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly to make sure there are no lumps.
  3. Spray muffin tin with canola oil, coating all sides. Fill each muffin tin 1/4 way to the top.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when pierced into a muffin.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 muffin
Recipe yields: 10 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 53
Fat1.4 g
Carbs10.4 g
Protein3.9 g

5

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Who said that in order to stay in shape you had to lay off the sweets? Not in this case! Here’s a cookie recipe from Chef Murphy that uses protein powder and healthy fats to make dessert meet your macros.

INGREDIENTS

NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER (OR MET-RX POWDERED PEANUT BUTTER): 1/4 CUP


RIPE BANANA: 1


CHOPPED WALNUTS: 1/2 CUP


QUICK OATS: 1/2 CUP


UNSWEETENED SHREDDED COCONUT: 1/2 CUP


EGG WHITES: 2


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mash banana until smooth.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on an oven tray and spoon bite-sized portions of cookie mix onto tray.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 cookie
Recipe yields: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 184
Fat10.8 g
Carbs14.2 g
Protein10.5 g

6

COCONUT VANILLA PROTEIN CREPES

You don’t have to go to France in order to eat an amazing crepe. In fact, thanks to Chef Murphy, you can make them right in your own kitchen! Bon appétit!

INGREDIENTS: CREPE MIXTURE

EGG WHITES: 4


INSTANT OATS: 1/2 CUP


RIPE BANANA: 1



VANILLA EXTRACT: 1/2 TSP


INGREDIENTS: FILLING INGREDIENTS

NONFAT GREEK YOGURT: 1 CUP


NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER (OR MET-RX POWDERED PEANUT BUTTER): 2 TBSP


GROUND CINNAMON: 1/2 TSP


VANILLA EXTRACT: 1/2 TSP


HONEY OR AGAVE: 1 TBSP


DIRECTIONS
  1. Put all crepe ingredients in a blender, and mix for 30 seconds. If mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon of water until a smooth, pourable batter consistency is achieved.
  2. Cook crepes in coconut oil for 20 seconds each side in preheated pan.
  3. Fill each crepe with banana and yogurt filling.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 crepe with filling
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 608
Fat7.5 g
Carbs71 g
Protein65 g

7

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN CUPCAKES

Model, actor, and Body Fortress athlete Mike O’Hearn doesn’t have much time to spend in the kitchen baking. But when he decides to make himself a tasty breakfast treat to kick-start the morning, he whips up these bad boys. Try them for yourself, and let your inner superhero loose!

INGREDIENTS

OAT FLOUR: 1 CUP



UNSWEETENED COCOA: 6 TBSP


EGG WHITES: 4


NONFAT GREEK YOGURT: 1/4 CUP


UNSWEETENED ALMOND MILK: 1/2 CUP


BAKING SODA: 1/2 TSP


VANILLA EXTRACT: 1 TSP


STEVIA: 1/4 CUP (OR NATURAL SWEETENER OF YOUR CHOICE)


SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS


DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and spray cupcake tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mix all ingredients together using blender or food processor, and divide evenly into 12 cupcake tins.
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 cupcake
Recipe yields: 12 cupcakes
Amount per serving
Calories 141
Fat3.6 g
Carbs12.6 g
Protein13.9 g

8

SUGAR-FREE CHOCOLATE CRAZE PUDDING

When you’re in a time crunch and need to get out the door as soon as possible, having a quick breakfast already prepared will help you resist the urge to walk out the door on an empty stomach. I keep a bowl of this delicious pudding in the refrigerator at all times for just such occasions!

INGREDIENTS

WATER: 16 OZ.


JELL-O SUGAR-FREE INSTANT PUDDING: 2 TBSP


DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix 1 packet of MET-Rx Meal Replacement Chocolate with 16 ounces of ice-cold water.
  2. Blend at low speed for 20 seconds.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of your favorite Jell-O Sugar-Free Instant Pudding.
  4. Blend at high speed for 1 minute, refrigerate for 1 hour, and serve.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving size: 1 bowl
Recipe yields: 1 serving
Amount per serving
Calories 260
Fat3 g
Carbs20 g
Protein39 g

Reinvent your approach to eating and transform your body

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It’s time to  end the debate of all debates.

You want to lose weight, gain muscle, and  change your body—but without worrying about whether you’re eating the right  foods. After all, countless diets pronounce that they provide the ultimate  solution to your goals. Only problem is, they all differ in the types of foods  they suggest, the timing of meals, and how much you can eat.

But all  diets are dependent on one common factor: macronutrient composition. That is,  the protein, carbohydrate, and fat content in the foods you eat. Macronutrients  are the single most important factor that determines a diet’s success or  failure. Every diet has its own macronutrient manipulation. On one end of the  continuum are the low-carb diets, such as Atkins and Protein Power (and some  variations of the Paleo Diet). More towards the middle are diets like The Zone  and South Beach. On the other end of the continuum are high-carb/low-fat diets  such as Pritikin and Ornish.

So who’s right? Recent evidence in the  International Journal of Obesity suggests that the diet you can stick to best is  the right one – regardless of the exact breakdown of macronutrients. But this  still leaves questions about how to determine your needs to simplify eating.  Consider this your final answer, and the guide you need to finally determine the  most effective plan for you.

Hitting your goal for the day is the most important aspect of  eating protein, whether it’s for fat loss, building muscle, or just maintaining  your weight.

The Eating Guide

Are you a calorie counter who wants an even  more focused plan? Once you figure out how many calories you want to eat per  day, use this plan from Alan Aragon (alanargon.com) to balance your  macronutrients and drop fat fast.

Key
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories

Protein
Eat one gram of  protein per pound of your goal body weight.
So if you  want to weigh 200 pounds, you’d eat 200 grams of protein per day for a total of  800 calories.

Fat
Remember,  the amount of fat you want will depend on many specific factors. As a rough goal  on a fat loss plan, eat .5 grams of fat for your goal body weight.  Using the 200 pound model, you would consume 100 grams  of fat per day, or 900 total calories.
If you find  that this is too much and you gain weight (reminder: fat does NOT make you fat),  aim for .3 to .4 grams of fat per pound of goal body weight. Listen to your body  and you will see changes.

Carbohydrates
Carbs are dependent on how much protein and fat you  consume in your diet. That is, you’ll eat carbs to fill in the remainder of  calories needed in your diet.
Using the formula above,  let’s say you wanted to eat 2500 calories per day.
Add  your protein (800 calories ) and your fat (900 calories) and then subtract it  from the total number of calories you want to eat (2500-1700 = 800 calories).
Divide the remainder number of calories (800) by 4,  and you’ll have a target number of carbohydrates you should eat (200 grams).

Therefore, on this sample diet you’d eat:
200 grams of protein (800 calories or 30% of your  diet)
100 grams of fat (900 calories or 40% of your  diet)
200 grams of carbs (800 calories or 30% of your  diet)

PROTEIN

WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT   Protein is the major structural and functional component of  all cells in your body. Proteins literally play a necessary role in many of the  biological processes that allow you to live and function. Not to mention, about  25 percent of your muscle mass is made up of protein—and the rest is made up of  water and glycogen (your body’s stored form of carbohydrates). So it’s no wonder  why so many diets place a heavy emphasis on protein. But the reason you need to  eat so much is simple: Unlike other nutrients, your body can not assemble  protein by combining other nutrients, so enough must be consumed in your daily  meals in order to achieve your desired health and appearance.

BIGGEST MYTH Despite what you might  have heard, your body can process a lot more protein than you think in each meal. Like a big steak dinner? Don’t worry, you can handle it. The most common  claim is that your body can only handle 20 to 30 grams per meal and that the  rest will go to waste. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The idea that your body can only handle limited amounts  of protein was one of the initial reasons why people began eating meals every 2  to 3 hours. It was a tactic designed to prevent wasting food, while also raising  your metabolism. However, science has proved that your body can take as much  time as it needs to digest and absorb protein and utilizes all of the nutrients  appropriately. With the exception of a massive protein binge—where you consume  more protein in one meal than your body can handle in an entire day—you can feed  yourself larger doses as part of a healthy approach to your diet.

ADDING PROTEIN TO YOUR DIET  While  most people think that protein is most important before and after your workout,  this isn’t true. Hitting your goal for the day is the most important aspect of  eating protein, whether it’s for fat loss, building muscle, or just maintaining  your weight. Setting your protein goals is a fairly simple process. Research  shows that a range of .5 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is ideal  if you are active. If you want to be even more specific, a good general  guideline is to eat about 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass  (LBM). However, most people don’t know or can’t reliably measure their LBM. As  an alternative, consume 1 gram of protein per pound of your goal body weight.

That means if you’re a fluffy 200 pounds and want to be a  lean, toned 180 pounds, simply eat 180 grams of protein per day. Learning what  food intake amounts to 180 grams of protein – or any macronutrient – is a matter  of tracking your intake.

Food journaling software like LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate  can help you record how much protein you’re really eating.

THE BOTTOM LINE The pitfalls of  under-doing protein far outweigh those of overdoing it. Meeting protein  requirements is particularly important when you’re trying to lose weight because  protein is the most muscle-sparing and metabolic macronutrient, and it also  keeps you full.  If you struggle to achieve your protein target through whole  foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, and milk products, you can easily  supplement your diet with protein powder (whey, casein, or egg). There’s no need  to nitpick over the precise distribution and timing of protein throughout the  day, just concentrate on the total for the day, and consume protein at doses and  times that suit your schedule and personal preference.

FAT

WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT    Fat is a major fuel source for your body and has multiple  functions, such as helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, regulating  inflammation, and hormone production. Like protein, fat is considered to be  nutritionally essential because certain fatty acids (linoleic acid &  alpha-linolenic acid) cannot be sufficiently produced by your body for survival,  and thus you must fulfill your needs by eating fatty foods. That’s right. Read  that sentence again: You must eat fat. Although essential fatty acid deficiency  is uncommon among adults in developed countries, the consumption omega-3 fatty  acids is often too low for the purpose of optimizing health and preventing  disease.

BIGGEST MYTH Let’s settle the  score once and for all: Fat does not make you fat.

Once  you get beyond that myth, there are many other misconceptions that could steer  your eating habits in the wrong direction. Most notably, many people still  believe that saturated fat is a dangerous substance that causes heart disease  and should be avoided. This myth has survived for at least the last 3 decades,  and has refused to die despite numerous studies that have shown that saturated  fat is actually good for your body. In a recent invitation-only scientific  consensus meeting, the Department of Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen  determined that saturated fat does not need to be avoided. What’s more, a recent  review failed to find a link between saturated fat and coronary heart disease.  More importantly, it’s not just that saturated fat isn’t bad; the scientists  found that eating saturated fat benefits your health.

That doesn’t mean that all fats are safe. The Dutch  analysis found that excessive trans-fats (from hydrogenated vegetable oils in  shortening, commercial baked goods, and refined snack foods) still pose a  significant threat to your health.

ADD FAT TO YOUR DIET   The best way to prevent heart disease is to simplify your  diet. Eat more whole and minimally refined foods, including an increased  proportion of vegetables, fruits, and nuts—and know how to balance your omega-3  fatty acids. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 0.5-1.8 g/day of  combined EPA and DHA, which are omega-3 fatty acids with potent heart-protective  properties. This intake can be achieved by either consuming two to six one-gram  capsules of fish oil, or by having roughly three to six ounces of fatty fish per  day. Vegetarians should realized that achieving the same EPA  and DHA levels  with flaxseed oil is a much less efficient process, requiring roughly double the  dose.

THE BOTTOM LINE Unfortunately,  there isn’t a gold standard for the amount of fat you need in your diet.  Instead, it should be determined on an individual basis. The most recent report  by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that you  eat at least 20 to 35 percent of your total calories from fat. But realize that  eating slightly more than this won’t cause added fat storage as long as your  total calories match your goal for weight gain, loss or maintenance. If you  still want a target, divide your weight in half and eat that many grams of fat.  So if you’re 180 pounds, you would aim to consume 90 grams of fat per day.

CARBOHYDRATES

WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT   Carbohydrates have many functions, but their main role is to  provide energy to the cells in your body. Carbohydrates are unique because they  are not considered essential. That’s because your body can synthesize its needs  from non-carbohydrate sources though processes called gluconeogenesis and  ketogenesis. As a result, the other foods you eat (proteins and fats) can be  converted into energy, meaning that your general survival does not depending on  eating carbohydrates. As mentioned before, this can’t be said about amino acids  (protein) or essential fatty acids (fat)—both of which you need to obtain from  foods.

Still, while carbohydrates technically are not  essential, you do need them when living an active lifestyle. Not to mention,  fruits and vegetables are two of the most important sources of carbohydrates,  and both provide nutrient-rich calories that protect against disease.

BIGGEST MYTH Carbs do not make you fat.  (Picking up on a theme?)

Ever since the low-carb craze  began in the early 1990s, carbohydrates have been demonized as the cause of the  growing obesity rates. And while a low-carb diet does have many health benefits  and can lead to lasting weight loss, there is no “metabolic advantage” to going  low carb. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical  Nutrition compared a low-carb diet with one that was higher in carbohydrates.  The result: There was no difference in weight loss or changes in the ratio of  muscle-to-fat. What’s more, when researchers compared a low-carb diet with a  low-fat diet (and higher in carbs), they discovered that neither was better at  boosting metabolism.
You can analyze studies and research  all day, but the bottom line is simple: You can eat carbs and still lose weight.  The diet you choose will be largely dependent on many personal preferences and  eating styles, and whether it’s low carb or higher in carbs, both strategies can  be equally effective at creating change.

ADD CARBS TO  YOUR DIET Generally speaking, if you’re active you need  anywhere between one to three grams of carbohydrate per pound of lean body mass.  The carbohydrate requirement tends to range more widely than the other  macronutrients because it’s largely dictated by how many calories you’re trying  to eat per day, and your total amount of activity. In other words, determining  the right amount of carbs is really the fourth step in your diet plan. First,  figure out how many calories you need, then set goals for proteins and fats.  Once you establish those guidelines, then your remaining calories for your  weight goal should be filled in with carbs.

THE BOTTOM  LINE Carbohydrates, just like fat and protein allotments,  should be comprised mostly of whole and minimally processed foods. For most  people, carbohydrates are a form of dessert. And if you’re eating healthy, about  10 to 20 percent of your total calories can basically come from any foods you  want. Your choices among carb-dominant foods (fruit, milk, starchy vegetables,  non-starchy vegetables, grains, legumes) should be based on your personal  preference and tolerance, while maintaining as much variety as reasonably  possible. As a rule of thumb, eating two to three fruits and two to three  vegetables per day will usually fill up the majority of your carbohydrate  allotment, while providing beneficial nutrients that will help your overall  health.  Easy enough, right?

 

YOU MUST EAT AFTER TRAINING!!!!!!

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You’ve just finished an intense training session.  Do you know what—and when—you need to eat in order to maximize your results? Than focus, learn and listen!

Yes, things have changed a bit over the past decade.  As the population grows fatter, more research has shown that eating as soon as possible pays off HUGE dividends. (I know you NJ people know about dividends).

First, a quick run-down of the science behind eating for recovery, then a word about fluids, and finally, we get into the timing of your post workout eating, the types of foods that work the best, and some of the guiding principles to keep in mind. Let’s go!

WHAT’S THE POINT OF EATING AFTER EXERCISE?

It’s all about two things: recovery and storage. You need to recover the losses you undertook during the exercise, and your body is simply better at storing that recovery fuel right after your workout. Sure, you can eat later—but the benefits won’t be as good.

Your muscles need carbohydrate and fluid to replace glycogen and water losses during the exercise. The muscles store more glycogen immediately after exercise than they do later.” The quicker your muscles recover, the sooner they will be ready to “perform’ for your again.

You want to stick to carbs and protein. Why, exactly? Becuase protein provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue that is damaged during intense, prolonged exercise. It can also increase the absorption of water from the intestines and improve muscle hydration. The amino acids in protein can also stimulate the immune system, making you more resistant to colds and other infections.

While you might find some advice that suggests carbs will serve you fine on their own, most studies find that athletes who refueled with carbohydrate and protein had 100 percent greater muscle glycogen stores than those who only ate carbohydrate. Insulin was also highest in those who consumed a carbohydrate and protein drink.” The magic ratio seems to be 4:1—for every four grams of carbs, you should have one gram of protein.

IMPORTANT POINT.  Eating post-workout is most important for those who workout nearly every day—and hopefully that’s you.  To make gains, whether it be strength, lean muscle, speed, flexibility, etc, you need your muscle to recover ASAP.

But if you only exercise 2 -3 times per week, you don’t need to worry as much about post-exercise foods because your body will have enough time between workouts to recover.  You should probably focus on healthier proteins and veggies, so you don’t put on extra fat.

THE RE-HYDRATION ESSENTIALS.

Let’s keep it simple.  Re-Hydration is always your #1 priority, especially if you’ve gone for a run and haven’t had access to any water during it.

For you OCD-ers, Science says weigh yourself pre- and post-workout, and use the difference to replace fluid losses. For example, drink 16 fl oz of water for every 1 lb lost. .

WHEN TO EAT.

Do we need to eat right away? You might say no, not exactly—you probably want to get some fluids into you, towel off, get changed, take a quick shower—whatever your normal post-workout routine is.

However, those first 15 minutes are crucial! The enzymes that help the body resynthesize muscle glycogen are really most active in that first 15 minutes. The longer we wait to eat something, the longer it takes to recover.

If you can’t get to some proper food within those first 15 minutes, make sure you get something in your stomach within an hour, maximum, post-workout. You won’t get much increased storage at all if you wait longer than that.

WHAT TO EAT—WITH REAL SUGGESTIONS.

Ah, and now the crucial question, where we move away from talk of abstract carbohydrates and protein, and into actual suggestions for the kind of things you should scarf down post-workout.

The simple solution may be a post workout drink.  3:1 combo of carbohydrate and protein is perfect and shakes are easier to digest than real foods and make it easier to get the right ratio. If you can’t make one at home, most of the 24 hour convenience stores carry them.

Columbia University comes at us with some real food suggestions: “eat a few slices of turkey on a wheat bagel, or have a large glass of protein fortified milk. The most important nutritional strategy post workout, though, is fluid replacement. Drink water, juice, or carbohydrate rich sports drinks to replace what you sweat out.” All good advice, although be careful of sports drinks that function more as sugar-delivery systems than workout tools.

Make sure you don’t use your post-workout eating as a chance to load up on too much sugar, or things you might not eat if you hadn’t worked out. And avoid fats for the same reason you avoided them before you exercised: they’re too hard for your stomach to digest after all that work.

Also, avoid falling into the trap of becoming reliant on sports food supplements, believing this to be the only and/or best way to meet your recovery goals. This often results in our athletes “doubling up” with their recovery, consuming a sports food supplement that meets certain recovery goals, e.g. liquid meal supplement, then following this up soon afterwards with a meal that would help them meet the same recovery goal, e.g. bowl of cereal with fresh fruit.

Unless constrained by poor availability or lack of time, we are best advised to favor real food/fluid options that allow ussto meet recovery and other dietary goals simultaneously.  This is especially important for athletes on a low energy budget. Top advice.

THE FINAL BITS OF ADVICE.

Eating after exercise takes some time to get used to. Remember that if you’re working out just 2-3 times a week, it’s not as critically important to concentrate on your post-workout recovery. But if you’re working out nearly every day—it’s essential.  If you are trying to gain muscle-it’s more than essential.

And don’t think of your post-workout food as a proper meal: the portion sizes should never get that big. Keep it small -a fist-sized quantity. Low-fat chocolate milk works very well. The goal is not a post-exercise meal. It’s really a post-exercise appetizer to help the body recover as quickly as it can.” That’s a strange-but-perfect way to think about it: a post-exercise appetizer.

Keep these general principles in mind, eat clean and healthy above all, and you’ll be recovering from K2’s workouts in no time. Well, maybe not in no time…