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Nutrition Secrets for Losing Weight with Smoothies
This chapter offers some secrets that can help you get your metabolism burning at peak rate. We each have different and specific nutritional needs. For example, at any given point in time we may have nutrient deficiencies, or our metabolism may be effected by toxins or our immune systems may be triggered by food allergens. You can test your metabolism by experimenting with the following strategies to see what works for you. For example, reducing exposure to toxins will help some people shed pounds immediately, while others see more weight loss when they avoid foods they're allergic to. You'll know you're impacting your ability to lose weight when you start to shed pounds.
Simple sugar is unhealthy because it delivers empty calories (calories without nutrients), and raises cholesterol and triglyceride levels, causing insulin resistance, inflammation and insulin fluctuations that can lead to weight gain. To monitor your intake of sugar, check the sugar content on food labels. Keep in mind that sugars are simple carbohydrates and are included in the total number of carbohydrates listed on a label.
Our daily recommended carbohydrate intake, which includes fruits and vegetables, is calculated based on our size and activity level. The American Diabetes Association recommends about 45-60 grams of carbohydrate at a meal. All of the smoothies in this book provide the number of grams of carbs per serving. This carb number includes both complex carbohydrates, such as those from whole fruits, as well as sugars from fruit juices. My recipes contain between 15 and 30 carbs per smoothie, which is clearly well under the ADA's recommended intake. I have carefully designed the smoothies in this book to be low carb and low calorie.
ADD PROTEIN TO SMOOTHIES TO INCREASE MUSCLE AND DECREASE FAT
Adding protein to smoothies supplies the amino acids we need for efficient weight loss. Studies show that protein reduces the appetite as well as food cravings, and it also provides the amino acids that drive metabolism. The amount of protein we need varies depending on our activity level, age and gender but to give you a general idea, most adults need about 50 grams of dietary protein daily. To learn more check out the Centers for Disease Control (cdc gov), which provides a Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein chart on their website.
The following chart provides some examples of my favorite sources of protein for smoothies.
Protein powders14-32 grams in 3 tablespoonsGreek yogurt16-20 grams in ½ cupCottage cheese14 grams in ½ cupYogurt10 grams in ½ cupHulled hemp seed5-7 grams in 2 tablespoonsChia seed6 grams in 2 tablespoonsHemp protein powder5 grams in 2 tablespoonsNuts5 grams in ¼ cup
DRINK PROTEIN WITH YOUR CARBS
The ideal weight loss smoothie is low calorie and proteinenhanced to supply just enough fuel for consistent energy without the fat storage. Protein is a key macronutrient for weight loss, as it supplies amino acids that are the building blocks for many of the biological functions in our bodies. Increasing the protein in our diets helps provide the nutrients we need to keep our metabolism at peak performance. Protein foods, such as chia seed, hulled hemp seed and protein powders, can be added to smoothies to help balance the carbohydrates. Protein and fat help to slow the breakdown (digestion) of the entire meal, thus reducing the amount of sugar from the carbohydrate being released into the bloodstream at one time. Therefore, the protein helps give our metabolic processes time to use the calories from our food as energy rather than storing the calories as body fat.
AVOID TOXINS TO LOSE WEIGHT MORE QUICKLY!
Some toxins have a direct link to obesity, because they affect the liver. When the liver is busy cleaning up toxins, it can't properly break down insulin, which continues to circulate longer in your bloodstream, grabbing up sugar and storing it away as fat. The more toxins, the more body fat storage!
GLASS IS HEALTHIER THAN PLASTIC
Avoid phthalates, such as bisphenol A (BPA), which are toxins found in most plastics. Studies have found that exposure to these compounds through our food and water may be a causative factor in the development of obesity. You can minimize your exposure to these compounds by purchasing and storing foods and juices in glass rather than plastic. Foods and juices are increasingly available in glass containers, as many food product manufacturers are becoming aware of consumers' health concerns around the toxicity of plastics.
BUY ORGANIC WHEN IT MATTERS
Avoid agricultural chemicals by buying organic products. The Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) has a handy list of the "Dirty Dozen," which are the most heavily sprayed types of produce. For example, apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines, peaches, spinach and strawberries are all heavily sprayed, so it's best to buy organic. The USDA's "Organic" seal also lets you know a product is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which is important because GMOs are inherently grown with the use of more agricultural chemicals than other types of crops. The EWG also provides a "Clean Fifteen" list, which is the least sprayed types of produce such as avocado, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, papaya and pineapple. It's not as important to buy organic when it comes to these foods.
SWEETEN WITH FIBER
Sometimes we want to add a little sweetness to a smoothie. This can be done with fiber-rich foods such as dates, prunes and figs. They add sweet flavor but they break down slowly in our bodies because of their iber. This is a huge beneit because slowing the digestion of the carbohydrates gives our bodies longer lasting energy and less storage of body fat.
BE A FOOD DETECTIVE: READ NUTRITION LABELS
When you buy food products such as yogurt, be sure to read the "Nutrition Facts" labels to see how much sugar, fat and protein is in each serving. Some yogurts have as much sugar as a candy bar. And don't assume that less sugar equals low calorie. Often, sugar-free or reduced-sugar foods have even more calories than their original counterparts and may contain harmful artiicial sweeteners.
Nutrition facts food labels are on most food products and make it possible to calculate the macronutrient (carbohydrates, protein and fat) levels in each serving of that food or drink. It's important to be aware that the numbers listed reflect one serving. Always take a quick glance at the number of servings per container even when it seems like it should be obvious. For example, small bottles of juice that most of us would intend to drink as one serving are often designated as 2 or even 3 servings. This is common with food labeling. You can avoid this trap by simply being aware and looking at the number of servings and then multiplying the number of grams of carbs by the servings number to get the total number of carbs for that product.
AVOID INFLAMMATION TRIGGERS AND LOSE WATER WEIGHT
Inflammation is becoming a common health issue, as so many people suffer from food allergies and toxicities due to food processing and sugar content. Inflammation can cause bloating, joint pain, headaches, stiff back and cellulite. However, by reducing the body's inflammation, cellulite seems to magically disappear as we excrete extra water weight.
Therefore, avoid food allergens that cause inflammation. Some of the most common allergenic foods are wheat and gluten, corn, eggs, reined sugar, milk and soy. Many people who react to dairy foods can still digest yogurt, however. Yogurt is a cultured product, which means it contains pro-biotic organisms that help break down the natural sugarsthe lactosemaking it easier to digest and assimilate. In my nutrition practice, my clients have reported losing up to 15 pounds of water weight within days of removing an allergenic food from the diet. Keep this in mind as some of your "body fat" may just be water weight from inlammation.
NUTRIENTS BOOST METABOLISM
We use nutrients in our bodies 24/7. If we develop nutrient deficiencies, this can slow our metabolism down and even halt some systems. For example, protein, glutathione, zinc, chromium and B vitamins are all critical nutrients in metabolism. A high-quality daily supplement, such as MediClear powder from Thorne Research, can be added to smoothies and will replenish nutrients daily. Berries and other super-foods such as pomegranate, cinnamon and holy basil are so rich in nutrients that they're like an antioxidant supplement themselves, especially when eaten daily.
DRINK YOUR SMOOTHIE IMMEDIATELY
Smoothies do not travel well. The ingredients start to separate and oxidize almost immediately after blending. Try to drink your smoothies within a few minutes after blending while the nutrients are still fresh and vital.
A SMOOTHIE A DAY IS THE SKINNY WAY
Studies on the weight-loss effects of different food nutrients are continuously being reported. The research is very exciting, but keep in mind that the results are based on daily exposure to those nutrients. For example, we can't expect fiber or turmeric to help us lose weight if we ingest them only once a week. However, when we incorporate these nutrients into our daily routine, they can have a profound effect on our health. Our bodies are in a constant process of cell turnover, hormone production, and fat gain and release. By incorporating certain nutrients into our daily smoothies we support our bodies in the continual process of fat loss and muscle gain.
PROBIOTICS ARE KEY TO DIGESTION AND WEIGHT LOSS
There are thousands of different healthy bacteria that live in our gut, orchestrating our metabolic functions. Without proper gut flora we can't absorb nutrients such as polyphenols. Keep this in mind as you read about the powerful phy-tochemical nutrient studies throughout the book. We need a healthy gut flora for proper digestion and nutrient metabolism. We get these important organisms via cultured products such as cultured coconut milk, yogurt, kefir and supplements.
A "SMOOTHIE SNACK" VS. A "SMOOTHIE MEAL"
As mentioned in the Introduction, smoothies that are low in calories (fewer than 250 calories) are perfect little energizers between meals. Energy-dense smoothies with more than 250 calories can be used as meal replacements. Keep in mind that a 250 to 350 calorie smoothie is still fairly low in calories, and you may need to supplement it with a snack if you are active or have a higher calorie need. Most of the smoothies in this book are low-calorie energizers.
EFAs HELP BURN BODY FAT
We need essential fatty acids (EFAs)which are healthful fats from foods such as avocado, nuts and seedsfor our skin and cells, nerves and fat-burning enzymes. EFAs are the essential oils/fats that we need to take in through our diet, as we can't produce these internally. Just one gram of EFAs per day appears to increase the production of fat-burning enzymes. One gram of EFAs is about 1 teaspoon of chia seed or 2 teaspoons of hulled hemp seed. In the recipes that follow, I generally recommend adding 1-2 tablespoons of chia seed, hulled hemp seed or protein powder to each smoothie to boost protein as well as EFAs.
ADDING FIBER TO SMOOTHIES IS KEY TO BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
When we make smoothies, we're blending rather than juicing so that we retain the iber from the fruits and vegetables we're including. This is beneicial because essential minerals attach themselves to this fiber. Also fiber holds onto water as it moves through the digestive tract, helping us hydrate. This allows the body to absorb water as needed, which vastly improves hydration (see the discussion about the importance of hydration that follows). Additionally, when iber is added to a smoothie it helps reduce the glycemic load of the entire drink. The glycemic load is a system that assigns a number to specific foods based on how much they will increase a person's blood sugar level when eaten. For example, oranges are low at 40 while sugar is high at 100. When we add iber to our meals we can reduce the overall glycemic load of that meal, as fiber slows the breakdown of foods in the digestive tract. This slows the release of its nutrients into the bloodstream. Thus reducing the risk for a spike in blood sugar, which triggers the pancreas to respond with insulin. Once insulin has been released into the bloodstream, its job is to shunt the sugar into cells for energy and the excess is stored away as fat. Therefore, increasing iber in our meals and smoothies helps reduce the insulin response, which helps reduce the potential for calories to be stored away as body fat. There are many high-quality iber products on the market these dayssuch as glucoman-nan, pectin, chicory fiber and acacia fiberthat are gentle and dissolve well in smoothies.
SMOOTHIES ENHANCE HYDRATION
Dehydration may give us the false signal that we are hungry when actually we are simply thirsty and in need of water and possibly electrolytes. Coconut water, fruit juices, and fruits and vegetables will boost water content and electrolytes in smoothies. You can also stay hydrated by drinking filtered water throughout the day and adding ice to your smoothies. Ice also helps emulsify (blend together) the smoothie. Adding liquids to smoothies, such as green tea, herbal teas and coconut water, can also increase hydration.
BREAKFAST KICK-STARTS YOUR METABOLISM
Once you leave the house, the day can get pretty busy. You might eat out or forget to take supplements. Having a daily morning smoothie is an effective weight-loss strategy. By getting that morning boost of nutrients and protein, you'll be starting the day off right no matter where the day takes you. Eating breakfast, especially a high-protein breakfast, also helps those who have lost weight keep it off. Studies have found that people who miss their morning meal are more likely to be obese.
INCREASE SPICES AND HERBS
BUT DECREASE SUGAR, FAT AND SALT
Holy basil, turmeric powder and black pepper provide powerful nutrients for weight loss. The world's oldest medical system, the Ayurvedic Medicine system of India, uses culinary herbs daily for the prevention and treatment of disease and imbalance. In India they use turmeric and black pepper to reduce inflammation, and they use holy basil (Tulsi) to balance blood sugar. Holy basil is a medicinally potent herb that has an amazing fragrance and flavor and happens to be a perfect smoothie ingredient. Studies have found that its anti-oxidants have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. It also contains active compounds, such as ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, carvacrol and linalool, that each provide powerful health beneits. Ursolic acid has been found to inhibit certain cancer cell types; rosmarinic acid has antianxiety effects; carvacrol reduces inflammation; and the scent of linalool has been found to reduce stress. Whenever I'm watering my holy basil plants I breath the fragrance in and feel relaxed and happy.
Unfortunately we don't use many culinary herbs in the United States. In fact, the standard American diet relies heavily on sugar, fat and salt for lavor. By adding spices and herbs to foods we create flavor, move away from sugar, fat and salt, and also add nutrients that help us lose weight and keep us healthy.
You now have the power and knowledge to experiment and start your weight-loss journey!