Facts about Fats

FATS – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE TRUTH

We all know that too much of certain fats (saturated in particular) are bad for you and can raise your cholesterol, increasing the likelihood of heart disease and other illnesses. But what are they and are they that bad for us??

For years, fat has been the bogeyman of bad health. Increasingly, however, research is showing that not all fats are equal. Some oils and fatty foods contain chemicals called essential fatty acids, which our bodies need for good health. How do you know the difference between good fats and bad fats?

 

MONOUNSATURATED FATS

How Much Have these in small amounts as they can help to keep your cholesterol levels healthy.
Found in Avocado, Olives, Rapeseed oil, Almonds, Cashew nuts, Hazelnuts, Peanuts, Pistachios, and any spread made from these nuts.

 

POLYUNSATURATED FATS

How Much Have these in small amounts as they can help to keep your cholesterol levels healthy (lowers LDL cholesterol) and provide essential fatty acids (Omega 3 & 6)
Found in Oily fish, Corn oil, Sesame oil, Soya oil and spreads made from these oils. Flaxseed, Pine nuts, Sesame seed, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts.

 

SATURATED FATS

How Much In moderation – this fat will raise your cholesterol!! Try to swap for unsaturated fats.
Found in Processed meats (burgers, sausages, ham), fatty meats, hard cheeses including cheddar, whole milk, cream, butter, lard, ghee, suet, palm oil, coconut oil.

 

TRANS FATS

How Much AVOID! Will increase your cholesterol. Any food with hydrogenated oils or fats in them will most likely contain trans fats.
Found in Takeaways, fried foods, biscuits, cakes, pastries, hard margarines.

 

The two essential fatty acids most important to good health are omega-3 and omega-6. But we need these in the right balance in order to protect our hearts, joints, pancreas, mood stability, and skin.

Unfortunately, we eat way too much omega-6, which is found in the corn oil and vegetable oils. Too much omega 6 can raise your blood pressure, lead to blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke, and cause your body to retain water.

We don’t eat nearly enough omega-3, which can reduce our risk for heart disease and cancer. Omega-3 is found in fish and fish oil, all green leafy vegetables, flax seed, hemp, and walnuts.

 

HOW MUCH FAT DO YOU REALLY NEED?

Most experts recommend that we get 30% of our calories from fat, although we can survive fine on as little as 20%, even 10% if you’re like most of us, you’re getting plenty of fat – most Americans consume about 40% of their calories from fats in meat, butter, cheese, baked goods, etc.

The better question to ask is, are you getting the enough of the right fats?

MAKING THE SWITCH

To make the switch to heart- healthy fats, start by avoiding the truly unhealthy fats – trans fatty acids.

These trans fats come from vegetable oils that were chemically modified so they are solid like butter. Because these oils don’t spoil as quickly as butter, they are used in most packaged cookies, chips, crackers, and other baked goods sold in the supermarket, as well as in margarines.

The solidifying process – called hydrogenation – extends the shelf life of food, but it also turns polyunsaturated oils into a kind of man-made cholesterol. Trans fats can increase your level of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and may increase your risk of heart disease. What’s more, these man-made fats are taken up by the body much easier than are omega-3s. So trans fatty acids not only harm your health, they also block the absorption of healthy fats.

 

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS:

THERE ARE SOME FATTY SNACKS THAT BOOST YOUR HEALTH!

Go Nuts

Nuts are the latest high-fat food to undergo a change in dietary reputation. Researchers found that women who reported eating a half serving of peanut butter or a full serving of nuts five or more times a week showed as much as a 30% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And the findings go on.

BRING ON THE FISH

For a while now, cold-water species of fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, striped bass, sardines, and herring have taken the spotlight as the best protein-rich food source because they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.

Studies show that people who eat such fish two times a week have less heart disease, a reduced risk of cancer, and improvements in mental health, particularly in mood function.

THE GOOD OILS

The health message about oils has not changed and is very simple. Stick to olive oil or canola oil.

Olive oil is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, which do not raise blood cholesterol levels. It also is a good source of vitamin E and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, reducing the oxygen-related damage to the vascular system.

Canola oil, on the other hand, has loads of monounsaturated fatty acids in the form of oleic acid. This acid has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and it may lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels without changing “good” HDL levels.

Also, canola oil is high in two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that our bodies can’t make: alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid.

 

FAT FACTS

  • We all need fat to Most people gain an average of just 1g of extra body fat a day.
  • A typical adult has approximately 50 billion fat cells, which means there are more fat cells in a human body than people on earth.
  • Current guidelines for fat intake are no more than 30g saturated fat/day for the average man and no more than 20g saturated fat/day for the average woman. For trans fats, both men and women should have no more than 5g/day.
  • We need some fats in our diets are they play an important role in our body and the essential fatty acids found in fats cannot be made by the body. Healthy skin and hair are all maintained by fat. Fat helps the body absorb the fat- soluble vitamins A D E and K through the bloodstream.
  • All fats are high in energy and just 1g provides 9kcal, but along with unused carbohydrates and proteins any unused fats will be converted into body fat!
  • The places you predominantly store fat and the places you lose it from are largely determined by gender and your genes.
  • Cholesterol is made in the liver and is carried in two different forms in our blood: LDL and HDL. (Low-density lipoprotein and High-density lipoprotein). LDL levels are what’s raised by consuming too much saturated fats whereas HDL cholesterol has a positive effect by removing any excess cholesterol and transporting it to the liver where it is broken down and disposed of.

 

BEWARE THE FOOD LABELS AND ‘LOWER FAT’ FOODS!

TOTAL FATS

FAT >17.5g of fat per 100g
LOW FAT < 3g of fat per 100g or 1.5g of fat per 100ml for liquids (1.8g of fat per 100ml for semi-skimmed milk)
FAT-FREE < 0.5g per 100g or 100ml

 

SATURATED FATS

HIGH IN SATURATED FAT >5g of saturates per 100g
LOW IN SATURATED FAT < 1.5g of saturates per 100g or < 0.75g per 100ml
SATURATED FAT-FREE < 0.1g of saturates per 100g or 100ml

 

A product MUST contain at least 30% or less when compared to a similar product for it to be labelled lower fat, reduced fat, or light. Bear in mind though that these foods might not necessarily be low in calories, sometimes the fats will be replaced by sugars and may result in a similar energy content.

Facts about the Keto diet

If you find yourself in a conversation about dieting or weight loss, chances are you’ll hear of the ketogenic, or keto, diet. That’s because the keto diet has become one of the most popular methods worldwide to shed excess weight and improve health.
Research has demonstrated that adopting this low-carb, high-fat diet can promote fat loss and even improve certain conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cognitive decline.

 

KETOGENIC DIET BASICS

The keto diet is very low in carbs, high in fat and moderate in protein. When following a ketogenic diet, carbs are typically reduced to 20 to 50 grams per day, though looser versions of the diet exist. Fats should replace most of the carbs and deliver approximately 75% of your total calorie intake. Proteins should account for around 10-30% of energy needs, while carbs are usually restricted to 5%. This carb reduction forces your body to rely on fats for its main energy source instead of glucose — a process known as ketosis. While in ketosis, your body uses ketones — molecules produced in the liver from fats when glucose is limited — as an alternate fuel source.

During ketosis, your body converts fat into compounds known as ketones and begins using them as its main source of energy.
Some research suggests that ketosis may be helpful for type 2 diabetes and neurological disorders, among other conditions. Achieving a state of ketosis can take some work and planning, it is not just as simple as cutting carbs.

 

BENEFITS OF THE KETO / LOW CARB DIET

 

LOW-CARB DIETS REDUCE YOUR APPETITE

Hunger tends to be the worst side effect of dieting. It is one of the main reasons why many people feel miserable and eventually give up. However, low-carb eating leads to an automatic reduction in appetite when in ketosis. Studies consistently show that when people cut carbs and eat more protein and fat, they end up eating far fewer calories.

 

LOW-CARB DIETS CAN LEAD TO MORE WEIGHT LOSS

Cutting carbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight.
Studies illustrate that people on low-carb diets lose more weight, faster, than those on low-fat diets — even when the latter are actively restricting calories. This is because low-carb diets act to rid excess water from your body, lowering insulin levels and leading to rapid weight loss in the first week or two.

In studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, people restricting their carbs sometimes lose 2–3 times as much weight — without being hungry.

In a year-long study in 609 overweight adults on low- fat or low-carb diets, both groups lost similar amounts of weight.

 

A GREATER PROPORTION OF FAT LOSS COMES FROM YOUR ABDOMEN

Not all fat in your body is the same. Where fat is stored determines how it affects your health and risk of disease.
The two main types are subcutaneous fat, which is under your skin, and visceral fat, which accumulates in your abdominal cavity and is typical for most overweight men.

Visceral fat tends to lodge around your organs. Excess visceral fat is associated with inflammation and insulin resistance — and may drive the metabolic dysfunction.

Low-carb diets are remarkably effective at reducing this harmful abdominal fat. In fact, a greater proportion of the fat people lose on low-carb diets seems to come from the abdominal cavity. Over time, this should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

 

TRIGLYCERIDES DROP DRASTICALLY

Triglycerides are fat molecules that circulate in your bloodstream. It is well known that high fasting triglycerides — levels in the blood after an overnight fast – are a strong heart disease risk factor. One of the main drivers of elevated triglycerides in sedentary people is carb consumption — especially the simple sugar fructose. When people cut carbs, they tend to experience a very dramatic reduction in blood triglycerides. On the other hand, low-fat diets often cause triglycerides to increase.

 

INCREASED LEVELS OF ‘GOOD’ HDL CHOLESTEROL

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often called the “good” cholesterol. The higher your levels of HDL relative to “bad” LDL, the lower your risk of heart disease. One of the best ways to increase “good” HDL levels is to eat good fat. Low-carb diets usually include a lot of fat. Therefore, it is unsurprising that HDL levels increase dramatically on healthy, low-carb diets, while they tend to increase only moderately or even decline on low-fat diets.

 

REDUCED BLOOD SUGAR AND INSULIN LEVELS

Low-carb and ketogenic diets can also be particularly helpful for people with diabetes and insulin resistance, which affect millions of people worldwide.
Studies prove that cutting carbs lowers both blood sugar and insulin levels drastically. Some people with diabetes who begin a low-carb diet may need to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% almost immediately.
In one study in people with type 2 diabetes, 95% had reduced or eliminated their glucose-lowering medication within six months.
If you take blood sugar medication, talk to your doctor before making changes to your carb intake, as your dosage may need to be adjusted to prevent hypoglycaemia.

 

MAY LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE

Elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, is a significant risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
Low-carb diets are an effective way to lower blood pressure, which should reduce your risk of these diseases and help you live longer.

 

EFFECTIVE AGAINST METABOLIC SYNDROME

Metabolic syndrome is a condition highly associated with your risk of diabetes and heart disease. In fact, metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms, which include:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated fasting blood sugar levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Low “good” HDL cholesterol levels

However, a low-carb diet is incredibly effective in treating all five of these symptoms. Under such a diet, these conditions are nearly eliminated.

 

IMPROVED ‘BAD’ LDL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS

People who have high “bad” LDL are much more likely to have heart attacks. However, the size of the particles is important. Smaller particles are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, while larger particles are linked to a lower risk.
It turns out that low-carb diets increase the size of “bad” LDL particles while reducing the number of total LDL particles in your bloodstream. As such, lowering your carb intake can boost your heart health.

 

THERAPEUTIC FOR SEVERAL BRAIN DISORDERS

Your brain needs glucose, as some parts of it can only burn this type of sugar. That is why your liver produces glucose from protein if you do not eat any carbs. Yet, a large part of your brain can also burn ketones, which are formed during starvation or when carb intake is incredibly low.
This is the mechanism behind the ketogenic diet, which has been used for decades to treat epilepsy in children who do not respond to drug treatment.
In many cases, this diet can cure children of epilepsy. In one study, over half of the children on a ketogenic diet experienced a greater than 50% reduction in their number of seizures, while 16% became seizure-free.
Very low-carb and ketogenic diets are now being studied for other brain conditions as well, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

 

IS KETOSIS SAFE AND DOES IT HAVE SIDE EFFECTS?

A ketogenic diet induces a state called ketosis. This is different from ketoacidosis, a serious condition that can happen when a person is unable to manage diabetes. Ketosis is safe for most people, especially if they follow it with a doctor’s supervision. However, it can have some negative effects, especially at the start. It is also unclear how a ketogenic diet may affect the body long term.

 

THE LOW CARB/KETO FLU

In the beginning of ketosis, you may experience a range of negative symptoms. People often call these the “low carb flu” or “keto flu” because they resemble symptoms of the flu. These may include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Increased hunger
  • Poor sleep
  • Nausea
  • Decreased physical performance.

These issues may discourage people from continuing to follow a ketogenic diet before they start noticing the benefits. However, the “low carb flu” is usually over within a few days.

BAD BREATH IS ALSO COMMON
One of the more common side effects of ketosis is bad breath, often described as fruity and slightly sweet. It is caused by acetone, a ketone that is a by-product of fat metabolism. Blood acetone levels rise during ketosis, and your body gets rid of some of it via your breath. Occasionally, sweat and urine can also start to smell like acetone. Acetone has a distinctive smell — it is the chemical that gives nail polish remover its pungent odour. For most people, this unusual-smelling breath will go away within a few weeks.

LEG MUSCLES MAY CRAMP
In ketosis, some people may experience leg cramps. These can be painful, and they can be a sign that you need to drink more water. Leg cramps in ketosis usually stem from dehydration and loss of minerals. This is because ketosis causes a reduction in water weight.
Glycogen, the storage form of glucose in muscles and liver, binds water.
This gets flushed out when you reduce carb intake. It is one of the main reasons why people lose weight
rapidly in the first week of a low carb diet.
It is important to continue to drink plenty of water to reduce the risk of dehydration, changes in electrolyte balance, and kidney problems.

KETOSIS MAY CAUSE DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS
Dietary changes can sometimes lead to digestive issues. This is also true for ketogenic diets, and constipation is a common side effect in the beginning.
This is most commonly due to not eating enough fibre and not drinking enough fluids. Some people may also get diarrhoea, but it is less common.
If the switch to a keto diet dramatically changes the way you eat, you are more likely to have digestive symptoms.
Nevertheless, digestive issues are usually over within a few weeks.

ELEVATED HEART RATE
Some people also experience increased heart rate as a side effect of ketosis. This is also called heart palpitations or a racing heart. It can happen during the first few weeks of a ketogenic diet.
Being dehydrated is a common cause, as well as low salt intake. Drinking a lot of coffee might also contribute to this. If the problem does not stop, you might need to increase your carb intake.

 

OTHER SIDE EFFECTS OF KETOSIS

Other, less common side effects may include:

  • KETOACIDOSIS: A few cases of ketoacidosis (a serious condition that occurs in diabetes when it is not effectively managed) have been reported in breastfeeding women, triggered by a low carb diet. However, this is rare
  • KIDNEY STONES: Although uncommon, some children with epilepsy have developed kidney stones on a ketogenic diet. Experts recommend regular monitoring while following the diet
  • RAISED CHOLESTEROL LEVELS: Some people get increased total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • FATTY LIVER: This can develop if you follow the diet for a long time
  • HYPOGLYCAEMIA: If you use medications to manage your blood sugar levels, speak to a doctor before starting the diet, as they may need to adjust the dose

Some of the negative effects, such as dehydration and low blood sugar can lead to emergency room visits. The keto diet is not suitable for people with conditions, including:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver failure
  • Carnitine deficiency
  • Porphyria
  • Disorders that affect the way their body processes fat

 

HOW TO MINIMIZE POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS

Here is how to minimize the potential side effects of ketosis:

  • DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. Consume at least 2 litres of water a day. A significant amount of weight lost in ketosis is water, especially in the beginning
  • GET ENOUGH SALT. The body excretes sodium in copious amounts when carb intake is low. Ask your doctor if you should be adding salt to your food.
  • INCREASE MINERAL INTAKE. Food’s high in magnesium and potassium may help relieve leg cramps
  • AVOID INTENSE EXERCISE. Stick to moderate levels of exercise in the first week or two
  • TRY A LOW CARB DIET FIRST. This might help you reduce your carbs to a moderate amount before moving onto a ketogenic (low carb) diet
  • EAT FIBRE. A low carb diet is not a no-carb one. Ketosis typically starts when your carb intake is less than 50 grams a day. Eat fibre-rich foods like nuts, seeds, berries, and low carb veggies

 

KETOGENIC DIET MEAL PLAN

Switching over to a ketogenic diet can seem overwhelming, but it does not have to be difficult. Your focus should be on reducing carbs while increasing the fat and protein content of meals and snacks. To reach and remain in a state of ketosis, carbs must be restricted.
While certain people might only achieve ketosis by eating 20 grams of carbs per day, others may be successful with a much higher carb intake. The lower your carbohydrate intake, the easier it is to reach and stay in ketosis.
Therefore, sticking to keto-friendly foods and avoiding items rich in carbs is the best way to successfully lose weight on a ketogenic diet.

 

KETO-FRIENDLY FOODS TO EAT

When following a ketogenic diet, meals and snacks should centre around the following foods:

  • EGGS: Pastured, organic whole eggs make the best choice
  • POULTRY: Chicken and turkey
  • FATTY FISH: Wild-caught salmon, herring, and mackerel
  • MEAT: Grass-fed beef, venison, pork, organ meats and bison
  • FULL-FAT DAIRY: Yogurt, butter, and cream
  • FULL- FAT CHEESE: Cheddar, mozzarella, brie, goat cheese and cream cheese
  • NUTS AND SEEDS: Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and flaxseeds
  • NUT BUTTER: Natural peanut, almond, and cashew butters
  • HEALTHY FATS: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut butter and sesame oil
  • AVOCADOS: Whole avocados can be added to almost any meal or snack
  • NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES: Greens, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers
  • CONDIMENTS: Salt, pepper, vinegar, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and spices

 

KETO-FRIENDLY BEVERAGES

Sugar can be found in a wide variety of beverages including juice, soda, iced tea, and coffee drinks. While on a ketogenic diet, high-carb drinks must be avoided just like high-carb foods. Sugary beverages have also been linked to various negative health issues — from obesity to an increased risk of diabetes. Thankfully, there are many tasty, sugar-free options for those on the keto diet. Keto-friendly beverage choices include:

  • WATER: Water is the best choice for hydration and should be consumed throughout the day
  • SPARKLING WATER: Sparkling water can make an excellent soda replacement
  • UNSWEETENED COFFEE: Try heavy cream to add flavour to your cup
  • UNSWEETENED GREEN TEA: green tea is delicious and provides many health benefits

If you want to add some extra flavour to your water, try experimenting with different keto-friendly flavour combinations. For example, tossing some fresh mint and lemon peel into your water bottle can make hydration a breeze.

Alcohol should be restricted while following the Keto diet.

 

FOODS TO AVOID

Avoid foods rich in carbs while following a keto diet. The following foods should be restricted:

  • BREAD AND BAKED GOODS: White bread, whole-wheat bread, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, and rolls
  • SWEETS AND SUGARY FOODS: Sugar, ice cream, candy, maple syrup, agave syrup and coconut sugar
  • SWEETENED BEVERAGES: Soda, juice, sweetened teas, and sports drinks
  • PASTA: Spaghetti and noodlesGRAINS AND GRAIN PRODUCTS: Wheat, rice, oats, breakfast cereals and tortillas
  • STARCHY VEGETABLES: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, corn, peas, and pumpkinBEANS AND LEGUMES: Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans
  • FRUIT: Citrus, grapes, bananas, and pineapple
  • HIGH-CARB SAUCES: Barbecue sauce, sugary salad dressings and dipping sauces
  • CERTAIN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: Beer and sugary mixed drinks

Though carbs should be restricted, low-glycaemic fruits such as berries can be enjoyed in limited amounts if you are maintaining a keto-friendly macronutrient range.
Be sure to choose healthy food sources and avoid processed foods and unhealthy fats. The following items should be avoided:

  • UNHEALTHY FATS: Margarine, shortening and vegetable oils such as canola and corn oil
  • PROCESSED FOODS: Fast food, packaged foods, and processed meats such as hot dogs and lunch meats
  • DIET FOODS: Foods that contain artificial colours, preservatives, and sweeteners such as sugar alcohols and aspartame

 

SAMPLE KETO MENU FOR ONE WEEK

The following menu provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day. Some people may have to reduce carbohydrates even further to reach ketosis.
This is a general one-week ketogenic menu that can be altered depending on individual dietary needs.

MONDAY

  • BREAKFAST: Two eggs fried in pastured butter served with sauteed greens
  • LUNCH: A bun-less grass-fed burger topped with cheese, mushrooms, and avocado atop a bed of greens
  • DINNER: Pork chops with green beans sauteed in coconut oil

TUESDAY

  • BREAKFAST: Mushroom omelette
  • LUNCH: Tuna salad with celery and tomato atop a bed of greens
  • DINNER: Roast chicken with cream sauce and sauteed broccoli

WEDNESDAY

  • BREAKFAST: Bell pepper stuffed with cheese and eggs
  • LUNCH: Arugula salad with hard-boiled eggs, turkey, avocado, and blue cheese
  • DINNER: Grilled salmon with spinach sauteed in coconut oil

THURSDAY

  • BREAKFAST: Full-fat yogurt topped with Keto granola
  • LUNCH: Steak bowl with cauliflower rice, cheese, herbs, avocado, and salsa
  • DINNER: Bison steak with cheesy broccoli

FRIDAY

  • BREAKFAST: Baked avocado egg boats
  • LUNCH: Caesar salad with chicken
  • DINNER: Pork chops with vegetables

SATURDAY

  • BREAKFAST: Cauliflower toast topped with cheese and avocado
  • LUNCH: Salmon burger topped with pesto
  • DINNER: Meatballs served with zucchini noodles and parmesan cheese

SUNDAY

  • BREAKFAST: Coconut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and walnuts
  • LUNCH: Cobb salad made with greens, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese, and turkey
  • DINNER: Coconut chicken curry

 

HEALTHY KETOGENIC SNACK OPTIONS

Snacking between meals can help moderate hunger and keep you on track while following a ketogenic diet.
Because the ketogenic diet is so filling, you may only need one or two snacks per day, depending on your activity level. Here are some excellent, keto-friendly snack options:

  • Almonds and cheddar cheese
  • Half an avocado stuffed with chicken salad
  • Guacamole with low-carb veggies
  • Trail mix made with unsweetened coconut, nuts, and seeds
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Coconut chips
  • Kale chips
  • Olives and sliced salami
  • Celery and peppers with herbed cream cheese dip
  • Berries with heavy whipping cream
  • Jerky
  • Cheese roll-ups
  • Parmesan crisps
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Greens with high-fat dressing and avocado
  • Keto smoothie made with coconut milk, cocoa, and avocado
  • Avocado cocoa mousse

Though these keto snacks can maintain fullness between meals, they can also contribute to weight gain if you are snacking too much throughout the day. It is important to eat the appropriate number of calories based on your activity level, weight loss goal, age, and gender.

 

A SIMPLE KETOGENIC SHOPPING LIST

A well-rounded ketogenic diet should include lots of fresh produce, healthy fats, and proteins.
Choosing a mixture of both fresh and frozen produce will ensure that you have a supply of keto-friendly vegetables and fruits to add to recipes.
The following is a simple ketogenic shopping list that can guide you when perusing the grocery aisles:

  • MEAT AND POULTRY: Beef, chicken, turkey, and pork (choose organic, pasture-raised options whenever possible)
  • FISH: Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring are best
  • SHELLFISH: Oysters, shrimp, and scallops
  • EGGS: Purchase omega-3-enriched or pastured eggs whenever possible
  • FULL-FAT DAIRY: Unsweetened yogurt, butter, heavy cream, and sour cream
  • OILS: Coconut and avocado oils
  • AVOCADOS: Buy a mixture of ripe and unripe avocados so that your supply will last
  • CHEESE: Brie, cream cheese, cheddar, and goat cheese.
  • FROZEN OR FRESH BERRIES: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  • NUTS: Macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios
  • SEEDS: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
  • NUT BUTTERS: Almond butter, peanut butter
  • FRESH OR FROZEN LOW-CARB
  • VEGETABLES: Mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, peppers, onions, and tomatoes
  • CONDIMENTS: Sea salt, pepper, salsa, herbs, garlic, vinegar, mustard, olives, and spices

It is always worthwhile to plan your meals ahead of time and fill your cart with the ingredients needed for a few days’ worth of healthy dishes. Plus, sticking to a shopping list can help you avoid tempting, unhealthy foods.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

A healthy ketogenic diet should consist of about 75% fat, 10-30% protein and no more than 5% or 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day.
Focus on high-fat, low-carb foods like eggs, meats, dairy, and low-carb vegetables, as well as sugar-free beverages. Be sure to restrict highly processed items and unhealthy fats. The popularity of the ketogenic diet has made it easier than ever to find a wide array of interesting and healthy keto meal ideas online. Using these notes as a guide to get you started on the keto diet can set you up for success and make transitioning to a high-fat, low-carb diet a breeze.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting, also known as intermittent energy restriction, is an umbrella term for various meal timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting and non- fasting over a given period. Methods of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting, periodic fasting, and daily time-restricted feeding.

But… before embarking on an intermittent fast or deciding how often you should fast, you should speak with a healthcare professional first.

6 METHODS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING

1. THE 16/8 METHOD

The 16/8 method involves fasting every day for about 16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to approximately 8 hours. Within the eating window, you can fit in two, three, or more meals.

This method is also known as the Leangains protocol and was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan. Doing this method of fasting can be as simple as not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast.

For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 p.m. and don’t eat until noon the next day, you’re technically fasting for 16 hours.

For people who get hungry in the morning and like to eat breakfast, this method may be hard to get used to. However, many breakfast skippers instinctively eat this way. You can drink water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages during the fast, which can help reduce feelings of hunger.

It’s very important to primarily eat healthy foods during your eating window. This method won’t work if you eat lots of processed foods or an excessive number of calories.

2. THE 5:2 DIET

The 5:2 diet involves eating what you typically eat 5 days of the week and restricting your calorie intake to 500–600 for 2 days of the week.
This diet is also called the Fast Diet and was popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley. On the fasting days, it’s recommended that women eat 500 calories and men eat 600. For example, you might eat normally every day of the week except Mondays and Thursdays. For those 2 days, you eat 2 small meals of 250 calories each for women and 300 calories each for men. The 5:2 diet has been found to be effective at helping with weight loss.

3. EAT STOP EAT

Eat Stop Eat involves a 24-hour fast once or twice per week. This method was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon and has been quite popular for a few years. Fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day amounts to a full 24-hour fast. For example, if you finish dinner at 7 p.m. Monday and don’t eat until dinner at 7 p.m. Tuesday, you’ve completed a full 24-hour fast. You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch — the result is the same. Water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid foods are permitted. If you’re doing this to manage your weight, it’s very important that you stick to your regular diet during the eating periods. In other words, you should eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all. The potential downside of this method is that a full 24- hour fast may be difficult for many people. However, you don’t need to go all in right away. It’s fine to start with 14–16 hours and then move upward from there.

4. ALTERNATE-DAY FASTING

In alternate-day fasting, you fast about every other day. There are several different versions of this method. Some of them allow about 500 calories during the fasting days. However, one study found that alternate-day fasting wasn’t any more effective at producing weight loss or weight maintenance than a typical calorie-restrictive diet. A full fast every other day can seem rather extreme, so it’s not recommended for beginners. With this method, you may go to bed very hungry several times per week, which is not very pleasant and probably unsustainable in the long term.

5. THE WARRIOR DIET

The Warrior Diet was popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler. It involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and eating one huge meal at night. Basically, you fast all day and feast at night within a 4- hour eating window. The Warrior Diet was one of the first popular diets to include a form of intermittent fasting. This diet’s food choices are quite like those of the paleo diet — mostly whole, unprocessed foods.

6. SPONTANEOUS MEAL SKIPPING

You don’t need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to reap some of its benefits. Another option is to simply skip meals from time to time, such as when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat. However, some people eat every few hours lest they hit starvation mode or lose muscle. Others’ bodies are well equipped to handle long periods of famine and can miss one or two meals from time to time. You know yourself best. So, if you’re not hungry one day, skip breakfast and just eat a healthy lunch and dinner. Or, if you’re traveling somewhere and can’t find anything you want to eat, you may be able to do a short fast. Skipping one or two meals when you feel inclined to do so is basically a spontaneous intermittent fast. Just make sure to eat healthy, balanced meals during the non-fasting periods.

EVIDENCE-BASED HEALTH BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING

Numerous studies show that it can have powerful benefits for your body and brain.

Here are 10 evidence-based health benefits of intermittent fasting.

1. CHANGES THE FUNCTION OF HORMONES, CELLS, AND GENES

When you don’t eat for a while, several things happen in your body. For example, your body changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible and initiates important cellular repair processes.

Here are some of the changes that occur in your body during fasting:

  • INSULIN LEVELS: Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning.
  • HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE (HGH)
  • LEVELS: The blood levels of human growth hormone (HGH) may increase dramatically. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits.
  • CELLULAR REPAIR: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells.
  • GENE EXPRESSION: There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease.

Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting are related to these changes in hormones, the function of cells, and gene expression.

2. CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT AND VISCERAL FAT

Many of those who try intermittent fasting are doing it to lose weight. Intermittent fasting will make you eat fewer meals. Unless you compensate by eating much more during the other meals, you’ll end up taking in fewer calories.

Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss. Lower insulin levels, higher HGH levels, and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy. For this reason, short-term fasting increases your metabolic rate, helping you burn even more calories.
In other words, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It boosts your metabolic rate (increases calories out) and reduces the amount of food you eat (reduces calories in). Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 3–8% over 3–24 weeks. This is a huge amount. Also, a loss 4–7% off the waist circumference over 6–24 weeks, which indicates that people lost visceral fat.

3. CAN REDUCE INSULIN RESISTANCE, LOWERING YOUR RISK FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES

Type 2 diabetes has become a very common diagnosis in recent decades. Its main feature is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance. Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and to lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels. Intermittent fasting may also be highly protective for people who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

4. CAN REDUCE OXIDATIVE STRESS AND INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY

Oxidative stress is one of the steps toward aging and many chronic diseases. It involves unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals react with other important molecules, such as protein and DNA, and damage them. Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, another key driver of many common diseases.

5. MAY BE BENEFICIAL FOR HEART HEALTH

Heart disease is currently the world’s biggest killer. It’s known that various health markers (so-called “risk factors”) are associated with either an increased or decreased risk of heart disease. Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve numerous different risk factors, including:

  • Blood sugar levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood triglycerides
  • Total and LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Inflammatory markers

The effects of fasting on heart health need to be studied more in-depth before recommendations can be made.

6. INTERMITTENT FASTING INDUCES VARIOUS CELLULAR REPAIR PROCESSES

When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy. This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time. Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

7. MAY HELP PREVENT CANCER

Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells. Fasting has been shown to have many beneficial effects on the metabolism that may lead to reduced risk of cancer. Promising evidence from studies indicates that intermittent fasting or diets that mimic fasting may help prevent cancer. There’s also some evidence showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy in humans.

8. HAS BENEFITS FOR YOUR BRAIN

What’s good for the body is often good for the brain as well. Intermittent fasting improves various metabolic features known to be important for brain health. Intermittent fasting helps reduce:

  • Oxidative stress
  • Inflammation
  • Blood sugar levels
  • Insulin resistance

Fasting also increases levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). A BDNF deficiency has been implicated in depression and various other brain problems

9. MAY HELP PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease. There’s no cure currently available for Alzheimer’s, so preventing it from showing up in the first place is critical. Studies show that intermittent fasting may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or reduce its severity. In a series of case reports, a lifestyle intervention that included daily short-term fasts was able to significantly improve
Alzheimer’s symptoms in 9 out of 10 people.

10. MAY EXTEND YOUR LIFESPAN, HELPING YOU LIVE LONGER

One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan. Small studies have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way as continuous calorie restriction. Although this is far from being fully determined in humans, intermittent fasting has become very popular among the anti-aging crowd. Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.

POTENTIAL INTERMITTENT FASTING SIDE EFFECTS

Intermittent fasting is safe for most people. However, studies have shown that intermittent fasting does have some minor side effects. Plus, it’s not the right choice for everyone.

1. HUNGER AND CRAVINGS

It may be no surprise that hunger is one of the most common side effects related to intermittent fasting. When you reduce your calorie intake or go long periods without taking in calories, you may experience increased hunger. Studies suggest that hunger is a symptom people typically experience during the first days of a fasting regimen. One 2020 study looked at 1,422 people who participated in fasting regimens lasting 4–21 days. They tended to experience hunger symptoms only during the first few days of the regimens. So, symptoms like hunger may resolve as your body adapts to regular fasting periods.

2. HEADACHES AND LIGHT-HEADEDNESS

Headaches are a common side effect of intermittent fasting. They typically occur during the first few days of a fasting protocol. A 2020 review looked at 18 studies of people undergoing intermittent fasting regimens. In the four studies that reported side effects, some participants said they had mild headaches. Interestingly, researchers have found that “fasting headaches” are usually located in the frontal region of the brain and that the pain is typically mild or moderate in intensity. What’s more, people who commonly get headaches are more likely to experience headaches during fasting than those who don’t. Researchers have suggested that low blood sugar and caffeine withdrawal may contribute to headaches during intermittent fasting.

3. IRRITABILITY AND OTHER MOOD CHANGES

Some people may experience irritability and other mood disturbances when they practice intermittent fasting. When your blood sugar is low, it may cause you to feel irritated. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, can occur during periods of calorie restriction or over periods of fasting. This can lead to irritability, anxiety, and poor concentration. Studies in women found that participants were significantly more irritable during an 18-hour fasting period than they were during a non-fasting period. Interestingly, the researchers found that, although the women were more irritable, they also experienced a higher sense of achievement, pride, and self-control at the end of the fasting period than they reported at the start of fasting.

4. FATIGUE AND LOW ENERGY

Studies show that some people practicing various methods of intermittent fasting experience fatigue and low energy levels. Low blood sugar related to intermittent fasting can cause you to feel tired and weak. Plus, intermittent fasting may lead to sleep disturbances in some people, which can cause tiredness during the day. However, some studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce fatigue, especially as your body becomes adapted to regular fasting periods.

5. MALNUTRITION

If a person engages in very long fasting periods and doesn’t replenish their body with enough nutrients, this could result in malnutrition. The same goes for poorly planned continuous energy restriction diets. People are generally able to meet their calorie and nutrient needs on various types of intermittent fasting programs. However, if you don’t plan or practice your fasting program carefully over a long time period or restrict calories to an extreme level, you might experience malnutrition along with other health complications. That’s why it’s essential to consume a well-rounded, nutritious diet while practicing intermittent fasting. Make sure you never overly restrict your calorie intake. A healthcare professional who’s experienced in intermittent fasting can help you come up with a safe plan that provides an appropriate number of calories and the right amounts of nutrients for you.

WHO SHOULD AVOID INTERMITTENT FASTING?

Although intermittent fasting may be a smart choice for some people, it’s not appropriate or safe for others. Some people may be at risk of dangerous side effects if they participate in intermittent fasting.

Healthcare professionals generally advise that the following people avoid intermittent fasting:

  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Young children and teens
  • Older adults who experience weakness
  • People with immunodeficiencies
  • People with current or past eating disorders
  • People with dementia
  • Those with a history of traumatic brain injury or post concussive syndrome

This list is not exhaustive and there are exceptions. For example, healthcare professionals have used fasting to treat epilepsy in children.
If you have a medical condition or are currently taking medications, it’s important to discuss the benefits and risks of intermittent fasting with a trusted healthcare professional.
Certain people may be more at risk of adverse side effects related to fasting, so it’s important to determine whether intermittent fasting is the safe choice for your specific needs.
Additionally, if you experience prolonged side effects when practicing intermittent fasting, this may be a sign that it isn’t working for your body. These side effects could include:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Faintness

Don’t continue intermittent fasting if the program makes you feel miserable. Even though this way of eating has been tied to many health benefits, there are many other things you can do to benefit your health that don’t involve fasting. Follow a balanced and nutritious diet, get proper sleep, engage in regular physical activity, and manage stress — these are much more important for promoting overall health.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Intermittent fasting is a very popular weight-loss method, but its benefits extend beyond that. It can help you live a longer and all-around healthier life too, according to studies, but it doesn’t work for everyone. If you decide to try intermittent fasting, keep in mind that diet quality is crucial. There are many apps can help with this and even have timers on this (like the FREE Fastic app). If you’re interested in starting intermittent fasting, consider speaking with your doctor or a nutrition expert today. They can help you determine whether it’s safe for you.

Facts about Protein

Protein provides the body with approximately 10 to 15% of its dietary energy and it is the second most abundant compound in the body, following water. A large proportion of this will be muscle (43% on average) with significant proportions being present in skin (15%) and blood (16%).

 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF PROTEIN

  • Helps in sustaining bone
  • Plays a vital role in building a strong immune system.
  • Aids in the smooth functioning of the nervous system.
  • Helps with muscle contraction and coordination.
  • Beneficial in the renewal and restoration of cells and
  • Influences osmosis therefore helping balance and maintain the body’s fluid equilibrium.
  • Helps maintain healthy hair, nails, and skin (keratin and collagen respectively).
  • Aids in balancing out hormones (enzymes are protein catalysts).
  • Aids transportation of nutrients around the body (e.g., haemoglobin and ferritin).

 

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE MUSCLE!

HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE EATING?

According to the British Nutrition Foundation, the value is set at 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight per day. So, for an adult weighing 85kg they should be intaking AT LEAST 63 grams of protein per day. However, the amount of protein we require changes throughout our lives, depending on our activity levels and goals.

To build muscle the figure can go up to 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day.

When it comes to fat loss and a better-looking body, protein is the king of nutrients. You don’t need to restrict anything to benefit from a higher protein intake… Protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism, but you won’t lose weight if you don’t eat fewer calories than you burn.

Proteins are comprised of long chains of amino acids and there are 20 different ones.

The name of these 20 common amino acids:

Alanine Arginine Asparagine
Aspartic Acid Cysteine Glutamic Acid
Glutamine Glycine Histidine
Isoleucine Leucine Lysine
Methionine Phenylalanine Proline
Serine Threonine Tryptophan
Tyrosine Valine

 

Out of these 20, there are 9 amino acids that are needed in your daily food intake, and are therefore classed as essential (bold).

 

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS?

Amino acids are organic compounds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, along with a variable side chain group.

Unlike nonessential amino acids, essential amino acids can’t be made by your body and must be obtained through your diet.

The best sources of essential amino acids are animal proteins like meat, eggs, and poultry.

When you eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids, which are then used to help your body with various processes such as building muscle and regulating immune function.

 

ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS HEALTH BENEFITS

 

MAY HELP IMPROVE MOOD AND SLEEP

Tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin, a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter in your body.

Serotonin is an essential regulator of mood, sleep, and behaviours. While low serotonin levels have been linked to depressed mood and sleep disturbances, several studies have shown that supplementing with tryptophan can reduce symptoms of depression, boost mood and improve sleep.

 

CAN BOOST EXERCISE PERFORMANCE

The three branched-chain essential amino acids (valine, leucine, and isoleucine) are widely used to alleviate fatigue, improve athletic performance, and stimulate muscle recovery after exercise.

 

CAN PREVENT MUSCLE LOSS

Muscle loss is a common side effect of prolonged illnesses and bed rest, especially in older adults.

Essential amino acids have been found to prevent muscle breakdown and preserve lean body mass.

 

CAN YOU HAVE TOO MUCH?

Consuming too much protein on a regular basis can cause intestinal discomfort and indigestion. Usually resulting in bad breath and gastric problems. In severe cases, consuming too much protein can also increase your risk of kidney damage due to excessive levels of nitrogen found in the amino acids that make up protein.

COMPLETE PROTEIN – Provides all the amino acids we need. Sources – Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dairy, Eggs, Quinoa, Soy.

INCOMPLETE PROTEIN – Provides some but not all the amino acids our bodies need.

Sources – Grains, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds.

 

SUPPLEMENTATION

Protein powders come in various forms. The most popular ones are whey, soy, and casein protein. The most used is whey, because it’s a water-soluble milk protein and contains a very high range of protein and less fat. Furthermore, it’s a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the amino acids necessary for human dietary needs. People who are vegan may prefer soy or plant-based protein.

HOWEVER, you could get the same benefits from introducing high-protein foods to their diet as snacks or adding them to their normal meals to enhance the protein content.

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WITH TAKING A PROTEIN SUPPLEMENT

 

CONVENIENCE

Are you someone with a hectic schedule? Then a protein shake might be your best bet.
They’re an easy and convenient alternative and a good source of complete, high-quality protein. So, if you need a quick supply of protein or are unable to prepare a whole meal, a protein shake is of course a better option than going without.

 

SPEED

One benefit of protein shakes is that it only takes around 30 minutes to reach the muscle after drinking. This means it’s absorbed a lot quicker when consumed immediately after a workout. Solid food on the other hand takes more time to digest and the body requires longer to break down the protein and send it to the muscles. As you can see protein powder has an advantage when you take it directly after your workout, but during the day protein food is sufficient.

 

FAT CONTENT

Another big difference besides the digestion is the fat content. Most protein powders and supplements have little to no fat content. So, you lose those synergistic affects you get from eating grass fed meats and fish.

 

PROTEIN QUANTITY AND QUALITY

One 30g scoop of whey powder contains about 21g to 27g of protein. That’s the same amount of protein as in a 4-ounce chicken breast, 250g of non-fat Greek yogurt or 1 ½ cups of black beans. Although the powder has a higher concentration of protein it has a lack of other nutrients that naturally accompany proteins found in meat, fish, dairy products, or whole grains. Protein food offer vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and healthy fats unavailable in protein powder.

TASTE AND SATISFACTION

Chocolate, coconut, cookies, and cream: it’s no surprise that protein powder usually gets its taste from added artificial sweeteners. The use of artificial sweeteners in commercial processed food products, even in health supplements is widespread. The advantages are reduced costs and low to zero calorie content. The disadvantage, is that this artificial taste doesn’t come close to the natural goodness of fresh food. Plus, sipping on a protein shake is nowhere near as satisfying as a real meal.

 

AMINO ACID

FUNCTION

SOURCES

RDI*

Leucine
  • Haemoglobin formation.
  • Protein synthesis.
  • Helps maintain glucose levels.
  • Prevents breakdown of muscle proteins after trauma or severe stress.
Cheese, Soybeans, Beef, Chicken, Pork, Nuts/seeds, Fish/ seafood, Beans. 42mg/kg of body weight per day
Isoleucine
  • Primary function is to boost energy levels and to assist the body in recovering from strenuous physical exertion.
  • Also, one of the three amino acids that make up Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAA).
Soy products, Meats, Fish, Dairy products, Eggs, Legumes. 19mg/kg of body weight per day
Valine
  • Promotes muscle growth.
  • Tissue repair.
  • Maintains a proper nitrogen balance in the body.
  • One of the three amino acids that make up BCAAs.
Cheese, Soybeans,
Beef, Chicken, Pork,
Nuts/seeds, Fish,
Beans, Mushrooms,
Wholegrains.
24mg/kg of body
weight per day
Threonine
  • Enhances production of antibodies.
  • Important constituent of neurotransmitters.
  • Necessary for glycine and serine formation.
Lean beef, Soy,
Pork, Chicken, Liver,
Cheese, Shellfish,
Nuts/Seeds, Beans,
Lentils.
20mg/kg of
bodyweight per
day
Methionine
  • Produces molecules critical for normal cell function.
  • Involved in cysteine production and other sulphur-containing amino acids.
Nuts, Beef, Lamb,
Cheese, Turkey,
Pork, Fish/shellfish,
Soy, Eggs, Dairy
products, Beans
Methionine +
cysteine = 19mg/
kg of body weight
per day
Phenylalanine
  • Key role in biosynthesis of other amino acids.
  • Important in the structure and functions of many proteins and enzymes.
  • Converted into the amino acid tyrosine.
Soybeans, Cheese,
Nuts/seeds, Beef,
Lamb, Chicken, Pork,
Fish, Eggs, Dairy,
Beans, Wholegrains.
Phenylalanine +
tyrosine = 33mg/
kg bodyweight per
day
Tryptophan
  • Helps to produce niacin, melatonin, and serotonin.
Milk, Eggs,
Pineapple, Tofu,
Cheese, Nuts/seed,
Turkey.
5mg/kg of body
weight per day
Lysine
  • One of the three amino acids that make mu BCAAs.
  • Vital to life – provides glucose to the body through metabolism (metabolised into Acetyl-CoA to for ATP* – the body energy currency).
  • Can be used to treat cold sores along with Vitamin C (additional tablets or in cream form – usually GP will prescribe).
  • Important in supporting the immune system.
Lean beef, Cheese,
Turkey, Chicken,
Pork, Soy, Fish/
shellfish, Nuts/seeds,
Eggs, Beans, Lentils.
38mg/kg of body
weight per day
Histidine
  • Histidine is used to produce histamine, a neurotransmitter that is vital to immune response, digestion, sexual function, and sleep-wake cycles.
  • It’s critical for maintaining the myelin sheath, a protective barrier that surrounds your nerve cells.
Meat, fish, poultry,
nuts, seeds, and
whole grains.
14mg/kg of body
weight per day

 

Facts about Carbohydrates

CARBS – GOOD OR BAD?

Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibres found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. Though often removed in trendy diets, carbohydrates — one of the basic food groups are important to a healthy diet. It’s important to state from the start that not all carbs are the same and not all of them are bad for you!

What matters most when it comes to carbs is the type, quality and quantity in our diet that is important.

 

TYPES OF CARBOHYDRATES

  • SUGAR – Found naturally in most foods such a fruit, honey, milk (lactose)
  • STARCH – Comprised of many sugar molecules bonded together. Very common in food that come from plants. Bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta all release their energy slowly throughout the day
  • FIBRE – Cover the diverse range of compounds found in the cell walls of foods that come from plants. Good sources include fruit and veg with skins on, wholegrain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and pulses (beans, lentils )

In a healthy balanced diet, carbs should be the body’s main source of energy and 1 gram of carbs provides 4kcal.

To provide this the carbohydrate molecules are broken down into glucose (a form of sugar) before getting absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream insulin helps the glucose enter your body’s cells which, in turn, provides the fuel your body needs.

HOWEVER! Excess glucose will be converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles; any excesses of glycogen will be converted to fat. Long term this can lead to Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Type II Diabetes, and other such health issues!

The two main forms of carbohydrates are:

  • Simple Carbs – sugars (such as fructose, glucose, and lactose).
  • Complex Carbs – starches, which are found in foods such as starchy vegetables, grains, rice, breads, and

The body breaks down (or converts) most carbohydrates into the sugar glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Foods that are high in fibre and starchy carbohydrates will release glucose slower than the carbohydrates found in sugary drinks and food.

It’s well reported that we do not eat nearly enough fibre in our daily food intake, just 18g on average. The government guidelines are that we should have at least 30g of fibre a day!

SHOULD I CUT OUT THE CARBS? – NO!

Our bodies can function well enough without sugar, but we cannot eliminate carbs from our diet.

Carbohydrates help to fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system. For instance, fibre is a carbohydrate that aids in digestion helps you feel full and keeps blood cholesterol levels in check. A carbohydrate- deficient diet may cause headaches fatigue weakness difficulty concentrating nausea constipation bad breath and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Carbohydrates are also the body’s main source of energy and the without them our body will to turn to fat and protein for energy instead. This means if you are trying to maintain muscle, increase muscle or speed up your metabolism, you don’t want to be burning up protein / muscle. Losing the carbs means you will also lose vital nutrients needed by the body, such as calcium, iron, and B vitamins.

As stated above, if there are no carbs in your diet your body will use protein or any non- carbohydrate substances into glucose. This in turn will raise your blood sugar and insulin levels!

 

BOTTOM LINE

IF YOU EAT MORE CALORIES (REGARDLESS OF THEIR SOURCE) YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT.

According to the Government’s ‘Eatwell Guide’, just over a third of your diet should be comprised of starchy food (potatoes, pasta, rice etc. and another third should be fruit and veg which means that over half your daily calories should come from starchy foods, fruit, and veg.

 

COMMON QUESTIONS –

  • WILL CARBOHYDRATES MAKE ME FAT?

Whilst carbs, protein, and fat all provide your body with energy, your exercising muscles solely rely on carbs as their main source of fuel. However, there is a limit to how much glycogen can be stored in your muscles; therefore, they need to be topped up regularly to maintain energy levels. A low carb diet will lead to a lack of energy during exercise, fatigue will set in earlier and your recovery time will be delayed. Eating too much of anything will lead to an increase in weight.

  • CARBOHYDRATES & EXERCISE

Whilst carbs, protein, and fat all provide your body with energy, your exercising muscles solely rely on carbs as their main source of fuel. However, there is a limit to how much glycogen can be stored in your muscles; therefore, they need to be topped up regularly to maintain energy levels. A low carb diet will lead to a lack of energy during exercise, fatigue will set in earlier and your recovery time will be delayed.

  • WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO EAT CARBS?

When you should eat carbohydrates particularly for weight loss is the subject of much debate, but there’s little scientific evidence that one time is better than any other. It is recommended that you base all your meals around starchy carbohydrate foods, try and choose higher-fibre, wholegrain varieties when you can.

 

EATING CARBS IN MODERATION MAY HELP YOU LIVE LONGER

While a low-carb diet might be beneficial for weight loss, a 2018 study found overweight dieters who cut their carbohydrate intake lost an average of 13 pounds…   cutting carbs could also cut years from your life.

 

THE LATEST RESEARCH

Two new studies found connections between low-carb diets and premature death. In a study published in The Lancet, researchers followed 15,428 adults and found a connection between carbohydrate consumption and the risk of dying during the 25-year study period.

Moreover, research presented at the 2018 European Society of Cardiology conference reviewed the results of seven studies with 447,506 participants over 15 years and found an association between low-carb diets (defined as fewer than 26% of daily calories from carbohydrates) and an increased risk of premature death, including death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The reduced intake of fibre and fruits and increased intake of animal protein, cholesterol and saturated fat with these diets may play a role in increased mortality risks.

 

THE BIGGEST RISK

The participants who adopted low-carb diets and replaced carbs with animal proteins and fat were at the greatest risk of premature death. In other words, cutting out bread and pasta but eating beef and pork instead is a recipe for health issues.

That’s because it’s not just about adding unhealthy foods but cutting those that are full of nutrients. Joan Salge Blake,

RD, clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University and author of “Nutrition & You” believes the potential for weight loss leads a lot of dieters to cut carbs but warns, “You end up eliminating a lot of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and dairy products— all carbohydrates — that are part of a healthy diet.”

 

HOW MUCH AND WHAT TYPES OF CARBS SHOULD YOU AIM FOR?

You should get between 45–65% of your daily calories from carbohydrates, according to the U.K. Dietary Guidelines. In fact, in a 16-week study, increasing your healthy carbohydrate intake helped participants lower their body mass index, weight, fat mass and insulin resistance.

The Lancet research found the risks of premature death were minimized when filling up on healthy complex carbs from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates. But the research continues to show healthy carbohydrates are the healthiest fuel for our bodies,”

Dr. Hana Kahleova, study author and director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explained in a statement.

THE BOTTOM LINE

A low-carb diet might help you lose weight in the beginning but, over the long-term, there is no benefit and there might even be significant risks. Instead, try eating everything in moderation, including carbohydrates, and making sure to opt for complex over refined sources.

Ensuring that you are not eating in a calorie excess is key.

Detox Diet

Detoxification (detox) diets are more popular than ever. These diets aim to clean your blood and eliminate harmful toxins from your body. However, it is not entirely clear how they do this, what specific compounds they’re supposed to eliminate, and if they even work.

WHAT IS A DETOX?

Detox diets are generally short-term dietary interventions designed to eliminate toxins from your body. A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Sometimes a detox also includes herbs, teas, supplements, and colon cleanses or enemas. This is claimed to:

  • Rest your organs by fasting
  • Stimulate your liver to get rid of toxins
  • Promote toxin elimination through faeces, urine, and sweat
  • Improve circulation
  • Provide your body with healthy nutrients

Detox therapies are often recommended because of potential exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment or in your diet.
These diets claim to also help with various health problems, including obesity, digestive issues, autoimmune diseases, inflammation, allergies, bloating, and chronic fatigue.

However, research on detox diets is lacking, and the handful of studies that exist are significantly flawed.

THE MOST COMMON WAYS TO DETOX

There are many ways to do a detox diet — ranging from total starvation fasts to simpler food modifications.
Most detox diets involve at least one of the following:

  • Fasting for 1–3 days
  • Drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, water, and tea
  • Drinking only specific liquids, such as salted water or lemon juice
  • Eliminating foods high in heavy metals, contaminants, and allergens
  • Taking supplements or herbs
  • Avoiding all allergenic foods, then slowly reintroducing them
  • Using laxatives, colon cleanses, or enemas
  • Exercising regularly
  • Completely eliminating alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, and refined sugar

Detox diets vary in intensity and duration.

WHICH TOXINS ARE ELIMINATED?

Detox diets rarely identify the specific toxins they aim to remove. The mechanisms by which they work are also unclear. In fact, there is little to no evidence that detox diets remove any toxins from your body.
What’s more, your body can cleanse itself through the liver, faeces, urine, and sweat. Your liver makes toxic substances harmless, then ensures that they’re released from your body.

However, there are a few chemicals that may not be as easily removed by these processes, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and heavy metals.

These tend to accumulate in fat tissue or blood and can take a very long time — even years — for your body to flush. These compounds generally are removed from or limited in commercial products today.
Overall, there is little evidence that detox diets help eliminate any of these compounds.

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THESE DIETS?

Some people report feeling more focused and energetic during and after detox diets. However, this improved well-being may simply be due to eliminating processed foods, alcohol, and other unhealthy substances from your diet. You may also be getting vitamins and minerals that were lacking before. Some people also report feeling unwell during the detox period.

EFFECTS ON WEIGHT LOSS

Very few scientific studies have investigated how detox diets impact weight loss. While some people may lose a lot of weight quickly, this is often due to loss of fluid and carb stores rather than fat. This weight is usually regained quickly once you go off the cleanse.
One study in overweight Korean women examined the lemon detox diet, which limits you to a mixture of organic maple or palm syrups and lemon juice for seven days. This diet significantly reduced body weight, BMI, body fat percentage, waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference, markers of inflammation, insulin resistance, and circulating leptin levels.

If a detox diet or any diet involves severe calorie restriction, it will most certainly cause weight loss and improvements in metabolic health — but it’s unlikely to help you keep weight off in the long term.

DETOX DIETS, SHORT-TERM FASTING, AND STRESS

Several varieties of detox diets may have effects like those of short-term or intermittent fasting.
Short-term fasting may improve various disease markers in some people, including improved leptin and insulin sensitivity.
However, these effects do not apply to everyone. Studies in women show that both a 48-hour fast and a 3-week period of reduced calorie intake may increase your stress hormone levels.

On top of that, crash diets can be a stressful experience, as they involve resisting temptations and feeling extreme hunger.

POTENTIAL BENEFITS

A few aspects of detox diets may have health benefits:

  • Avoiding dietary sources of heavy metals and POPs
  • Losing excessive fat
  • Exercising and sweating regularly
  • Eating whole, nutritious, healthy foods
  • Avoiding processed foods
  • Drinking water and green tea.
  • Limiting stress, relaxing, and getting good sleep.

But note, following these guidelines is generally linked to improved health — regardless of whether or not you’re on a detox diet.

SAFETY AND SIDE EFFECTS

Before doing any sort of detox, it is important to consider possible side effects.

SEVERE CALORIE RESTRICTION

Several detox diets recommend fasting or severe calorie restriction. Short-term fasting and limited calorie intake can result in fatigue, irritability, and bad breath.

Long-term fasting can result in energy, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies, as well as electrolyte imbalance and even death.

Furthermore, colon cleansing methods, which are sometimes recommended during detoxes, can cause dehydration, cramping, bloating, nausea, and vomiting.

OVERDOSING

Some detox diets may pose the risk of overdosing on supplements, laxatives, diuretics, and even water. There is a lack of regulation and monitoring in the detox industry, and many detox foods and supplements may not have any scientific basis.

In the worst cases, the ingredient labels of detox products may be inaccurate. This can increase your risk of overdosing, potentially resulting in serious — and even fatal — effects.

AT-RISK POPULATIONS

Certain people should not start any detox or calorie- restricting regimens without consulting a doctor first.
At-risk populations include children, adolescents, older adults, those who are malnourished, pregnant, or lactating women, and people who have blood sugar issues, such as diabetes or an eating disorder.

YOUR BODY’S BUILT-IN DETOX

Many of these extreme dietary shifts can do more harm than good. One example is the turmeric cleanse. While turmeric is good in small doses, larger doses can cause symptoms such as increased anxiety or sleeping difficulties.

The human body has many processes to eliminate so- called toxins from the body. These include sweating and urinating as the body’s own means of ridding itself of things it doesn’t need.

The best way to support the organs that detoxify the body, and their respected processes, experts say, is eating a healthy diet, getting an average of 30 minutes of exercise a day, getting plenty of rest at night, and drinking enough water to stay hydrated.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Your body is frequently exposed to toxic substances. However, most of the time, it can remove them without additional help.
While detox diets may seem tempting, their benefits likely have nothing to do with vanquishing toxins, but rather with eliminating various unhealthy foods.

A much smarter approach is to eat healthier and improve your lifestyle rather than go on a potentially dangerous detox cleanse.

Empowering Women: The Role of Exercise in Managing Menopause

Written by Michelle Kenny

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the unique experiences and challenges women face throughout their lives. One significant aspect that has often been shrouded in silence but is now gaining recognition and discussion is menopause.

It’s never too early to start thinking about menopause and its potential effects on your body. In fact, introducing exercise into your routine long before you reach perimenopause—the transitional stage leading to menopause—can have a transformative impact on how you experience these later years of life.

Exercise isn’t just about looking good; it’s about feeling good from the inside out. And when it comes to menopause, the benefits of regular physical activity are manifold:

Managing Menopausal Symptoms: Exercise has been shown to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with menopause, including hot flashes, mood swings, and fatigue. By releasing endorphins and regulating hormone levels, exercise can help women feel more balanced and in control of their bodies during this tumultuous time.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight: As metabolism tends to slow down during menopause, weight gain can become a common concern. However, regular exercise can counteract this by boosting metabolism and helping women maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of obesity-related health issues.

Building Muscle Mass: Strength training exercises, such as resistance training, are particularly beneficial during menopause. Not only do they help build and maintain muscle mass, but they also strengthen bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis—a common concern for postmenopausal women.

Reducing Stress and Improving Mental Wellbeing: Exercise is a powerful stress reliever, promoting the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that boost mood and alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.

Incorporating activities like yoga and Pilates into your routine can also enhance relaxation and mindfulness, further improving mental wellbeing.

Improving Sleep Patterns: Many women experience disruptions in their sleep patterns during menopause, often due to night sweats and hormonal fluctuations. Regular exercise can help regulate sleep cycles, leading to more restful and rejuvenating sleep.

Enhancing Mobility with Age: As we age, maintaining flexibility and mobility becomes increasingly important for overall health and independence. By incorporating cardio and flexibility exercises into your routine, you can improve balance, coordination, and range of motion, allowing you to stay active and engaged in life’s activities.

The beauty of exercise is that it’s never too late to start reaping its benefits. Whether you’re in your 20s or your 60s, making positive changes to your lifestyle can have a profound impact on your health and wellbeing. So, if you haven’t already, why not take this International Women’s Day as an opportunity to prioritise your health and introduce exercise into your daily routine?

Remember, as women, we have the power to shape our own experiences and rewrite the narrative surrounding menopause. By embracing exercise as a tool for empowerment and self-care, we can navigate this transition with strength, resilience, and vitality. Your body—and your future self—will thank you for it.

Facts about Minerals

Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including keeping your bones, muscles, heart, and brain working properly. Minerals are also important for making enzymes and hormones.

The body needs many minerals; these are called essential minerals. Essential minerals are sometimes divided up into major minerals – macromineral’s and trace minerals – microminerals. These two groups of minerals are equally important, but trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than major minerals. The amounts needed in the body are not an indication of their importance.

  • You need larger amounts of macromineral’s. They include: Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulphur.
  • You only need small amounts of trace minerals. They include: Iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.

Most people get the amount of minerals they need by eating a wide variety of foods. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a mineral supplement.

People who have certain health problems or take some medicines may need to get less of one of the minerals. For example, people with chronic kidney disease need to limit foods that are high in potassium.

A balanced diet usually provides all the essential minerals. The two tables below list minerals, what they do in the body (their functions), and their sources in food.

MINERAL

FUNCTION

SOURCES

Sodium Needed for proper fluid balance, nerve

transmission, and muscle contraction.

Table salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk,

breads, vegetables, and

unprocessed meats.

Chloride Needed for proper fluid balance, stomach acid. Table salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, meats, breads, and vegetables.
Potassium Needed for proper fluid balance, nerve

transmission, and muscle

contraction.

Meats, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes
Calcium Important for healthy bones and teeth; helps muscles relax and contract; important in nerve functioning, blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, immune system health. Milk and milk products; canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines); fortified tofu and fortified soy milk; greens (broccoli, mustard greens); legumes.
Phosphorus Important for healthy bones and teeth; found in every cell; part of the system that maintains acid-base balance. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, processed foods (including fizzy drinks).
Magnesium Found in bones; needed for making protein, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, immune system health Nuts and seeds; legumes; leafy, green vegetables; seafood; chocolate; artichokes; “hard” drinking water.
Sulphur Found in protein molecules Occurs in foods as part of protein: meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, legumes, nuts.
Iron Part of a molecule (haemoglobin) found in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the

body; needed for energy metabolism.

Organ meats; red meats; fish; poultry; shellfish (especially clams); egg yolks; legumes; dried fruits; dark, leafy greens; iron- enriched breads and cereals; and fortified cereals.
Zinc Part of many enzymes; needed for making protein and genetic material; has a function in taste perception, wound healing, production of sperm, normal growth and sexual maturation, immune system health, Meats, fish, poultry, leavened whole grains, vegetables.
Iodine Found in thyroid hormone, which helps regulate growth, development, and metabolism. Seafood, foods grown in iodine-rich soil, iodized salt, bread, dairy products.
Selenium Antioxidant Meats, seafood, grains.
Copper Part of many enzymes; needed for iron metabolism. Legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, organ meats, drinking water.
Manganese Part of many enzymes. Widespread in foods, especially plant foods.
Fluoride Involved in formation of bones and teeth; helps prevent tooth decay. Drinking water (either fluoridated or naturally containing fluoride), fish, and most teas.
Chromium Works closely with insulin to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels. Unrefined foods, especially liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, nuts, cheeses.
Molybdenum Part of some enzymes. Legumes; breads and grains; leafy greens; leafy, green vegetables; milk; liver.

 

10 FACTS ABOUT MINERALS

  1. All nutrients require minerals for proper cellular function.
  2. Minerals are needed for healing. Minerals are difficult to absorb into the body.
  3. Minerals can be taken as a dietary supplement.
  4. Trace minerals are found in small parts in the body and are needed in small amounts in people’s diets. Minerals work to regulate many body
  5. People think that minerals are only found in animal products but all the food groups have foods high in
  6. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of
  7. Whole grains are high in magnesium, selenium, and
  8. A mineral is a naturally occurring solid formed through geological processes that has a characteristic chemical composition, a highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical
  9. Minerals in composition from pure elements and simple salts to very complex silicates with thousands of known forms.
  10. The study of minerals is called mineralogy.

Vegan Diet

WHAT IS A VEGAN DIET?

The vegan diet is an eating plan that eliminates all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey.

People decide to adopt veganism for different reasons, such as ethical concerns, health reasons or religious principles.

Others may decide to become vegan to improve the environment as plant-based diets are thought to generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use fewer natural resources noting that the environmental impact of any diet depends on multiple factors, including the way that foods are produced, packaged, and transported.

For those who decide to follow a vegan diet for health reasons, as veganism is associated with a multitude of benefits and may help prevent certain chronic diseases. Vegan diets have been shown to improve heart health, increase weight loss, and support blood sugar control.

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF VEGAN DIETS

There are different varieties of vegan diets. The most common include:

  • WHOLE-FOOD VEGAN DIET: A diet based on a wide variety of whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • RAW-FOOD VEGAN DIET: A vegan diet based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, or plant foods cooked at temperatures below 118°F (48°C).
  • 80/10/10: The 80/10/10 diet is a raw-food vegan diet that limits fat-rich plants such as nuts and avocados and relies mainly on raw fruits and soft
    greens instead. Also referred to as the low-fat, raw-food vegan diet or fruitarian diet.
  • THE STARCH SOLUTION: A low-fat, high-carb vegan diet like the 80/10/10 but that focuses on cooked starches like potatoes, rice, and corn instead of fruit.
  • RAW TILL 4: A low-fat vegan diet inspired by the 80/10/10 and starch solution. Raw foods are consumed until 4 p.m., with the option of a cooked plant-based meal for dinner.
  • THE THRIVE DIET: The thrive diet is a raw-food vegan diet. Followers eat plant-based, whole foods that are raw or minimally cooked at low temperatures.
  • JUNK-FOOD VEGAN DIET: A vegan diet lacking in whole plant foods that relies heavily on mock meats and cheeses, fries, vegan desserts, and other heavily processed vegan foods.
    Although several variations of the vegan diet exist, most scientific research rarely differentiates between these different types of vegan diets.

 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF VEGANISM

VEGAN DIETS CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT

Vegans tend to be thinner and have a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-vegans. This might explain why an increasing number of people turn to vegan diets to lose excess weight. Part of the weight-related benefits vegans experience may be explained by factors other than diet. These may include healthier lifestyle choices, such as physical activity, and other health-related behaviours.

 

VEGAN DIETS, BLOOD SUGAR AND TYPE 2 DIABETES

Adopting a vegan diet may help keep your blood sugar in check and type 2 diabetes at bay.
Several studies show that vegans benefit from lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity and up to a 78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-vegans. Part of the advantage could be explained by the higher fibre intake, which may blunt the blood sugar response. A vegan diet’s weight loss effects may further contribute to its ability to lower blood sugar levels.

 

A VEGAN DIET MAY HELP KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY

Observational studies report vegans may have up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure and 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease. These effects could be especially beneficial since reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar may reduce heart disease risk by up to 46%.

 

OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF VEGAN DIETS

Vegan diets are linked to an array of other health benefits, including:

  • CANCER RISK: Vegans may benefit from a 15% lower risk of developing or dying from cancer.
  • ARTHRITIS: Vegan diets seem particularly effective at reducing symptoms of arthritis such as pain, joint swelling, and morning stiffness.
  • KIDNEY FUNCTION: Diabetics who substitute meat for plant protein may reduce their risk of poor kidney function.
  • ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: Observational studies show that aspects of the vegan diet may help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

 

A VEGAN SHOPPING LIST

A healthy vegan diet should contain a variety of whole grains, proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables.
Foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, soy products, and nutritional yeast can all help boost your protein intake throughout the day.

Meanwhile, avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are nutritious, vegan-friendly choices for healthy fats.
Here is a sample vegan shopping list to help get you started:

 

FRESH PRODUCE

  • VEGETABLES: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, kale, onions, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.
  • FRUITS: apples, bananas, blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kiwis, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, etc.

 

FROZEN PRODUCE

  • VEGETABLES: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans, peas, vegetable medley, etc.
  • FRUITS: blackberries, blueberries, cherries, mangoes, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries, etc.

 

WHOLE GRAINS

Barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, farro, oats, quinoa, sorghum, teff.

 

BREADS AND PASTAS

Brown rice and pasta, Whole-wheat pasta, sprouted bread such as Ezekiel bread, brown rice wraps.

 

PROTEIN SOURCES

  • NUTS: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, etc.
  • SEEDS: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • LEGUMES: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, etc.
  • SOY PRODUCTS: tempeh, tofu, etc.
  • PROTEIN POWDERS: pea protein powder, brown rice protein, hemp protein, etc.

 

DAIRY ALTERNATIVES

  • MILK SUBSTITUTES: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, oat, rice, and soy milks, etc.
  • YOGURT SUBSTITUTES: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, and soy yogurts, etc.
  • VEGAN CHEESE: vegan parmesan cheese, shredded and sliced varieties, etc.

 

EGG ALTERNATIVES

Aquafaba, arrowroot powder, chia seeds, corn-starch, flax meal, pre-packaged vegan egg substitute, silken tofu.

 

HEALTHY FATS

Avocados, avocado oil, coconut oil, flax oil, olive oil, unsweetened coconut, tahini.

 

SNACKS

  • Edamame
  • Dark chocolate
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit leather
  • Hummus
  • Nut butter
  • Pita chips
  • Popcorn
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Seaweed crisps
  • Trail mix

 

SWEETENER

  • Coconut sugar
  • Dates
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Monk fruit
  • Stevia

 

SPICES AND CONDIMENTS

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground ginger
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Paprika
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

 

Note that many processed vegan products found at the store — such as vegan meat substitutes — are often loaded with sodium, fillers, additives, and other ingredients that may harm your health.

Try to stick to mostly whole, unprocessed foods — and steer clear of mock meats and other highly processed vegan ingredients and premade meals.

 

SAMPLE MEAL PLAN

Here is a sample one-week meal plan that features a few of the nutritious foods that can be enjoyed on a vegan diet:

 

MONDAY

BREAKFAST: tempeh bacon with sautéed mushrooms, avocado, and wilted arugula.

LUNCH: whole-grain pasta with lentil “meatballs” and a side salad.

DINNER: cauliflower and chickpea tacos with guacamole and Pico de Gallo.

SNACKS: air-popped popcorn, kale chips, and trail mix.

 

TUESDAY

BREAKFAST: coconut yogurt with berries, walnuts, and chia seeds.

LUNCH: baked tofu with sautéed red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and herbed couscous.

DINNER: mushroom lentil loaf with garlic cauliflower and Italian green beans.

SNACKS: bell peppers with guacamole, fruit leather, and seaweed crisps.

 

WEDNESDAY

BREAKFAST: sweet potato toast topped with peanut butter and banana.

LUNCH: tempeh taco salad with quinoa, avocados, tomatoes, onions, beans, and cilantro.

DINNER: oat risotto with Swiss chard, mushrooms, and butternut squash.

SNACKS: mixed berries, vegan protein shake, and walnuts.

 

THURSDAY

BREAKFAST: eggless quiche with silken tofu, broccoli, tomatoes, and spinach.

LUNCH: chickpea and spinach curry with brown rice.

DINNER: Mediterranean lentil salad with cucumbers, olives, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, kale, and parsley.

SNACKS: roasted edamame, sliced pear, and energy balls made from oats, chia seeds, nut butter, and dried fruit.

 

FRIDAY

BREAKFAST: overnight oats with apple slices, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and nut butter.

LUNCH: black bean veggie burger with steamed broccoli and sweet potato wedges.

DINNER: mac and “cheese” with nutritional yeast and collard greens.

SNACKS: pistachios, homemade granola, and coconut chia pudding.

 

SATURDAY

BREAKFAST: breakfast skillet with tempeh, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, and zucchini.

LUNCH: garlic-ginger tofu with stir-fried veggies and quinoa.

DINNER: bean salad with black-eyed peas, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, and onions.

SNACKS: roasted pumpkin seeds, frozen grapes, and celery with almond butter.

 

SUNDAY

BREAKFAST: whole-grain toast with avocado and nutritional yeast alongside a vegan protein shake.

LUNCH: lentil chili with grilled asparagus and baked potato.

DINNER: vegetable paella with brown rice, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, artichoke, and chickpeas.

SNACKS: almonds, fruit salad, and carrots with hummus.

 

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES AND PRECAUTIONS

Although a well-rounded vegan diet can be healthy and nutritious, a vegan diet that is not properly planned can harm your health.

 

NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES

Vegan diets may be associated with an increased risk of several nutritional deficiencies. This is because meat, fish, and poultry are rich in several important nutrients that are mostly lacking in plant-based foods, including protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Animal products like eggs and dairy are also high in protein and micronutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, iron, and magnesium. Completely cutting these foods out of your diet can increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies.

Vegans may be at a higher risk of deficiency for vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, iron, and protein.

This can lead to an increased risk of issues like anaemia, weakened bones, and impaired immunity.

Low levels of vitamin B12 can be especially concerning during pregnancy, as a deficiency could potentially increase the risk of neural tube defects and impair your baby’s brain and nervous system.

Including a variety of nutrient-rich ingredients and fortified foods in your diet is necessary to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs. Vitamin B12 and vitamin D can be found in fortified foods, such as plant-based milks, cereals, and nutritional yeast.

Meanwhile, protein, zinc, and iron are found in legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds. Including moderate amounts of iodized salt in your diet can also help you meet your needs for iodine.

 

SUPPLEMENTS

It can be challenging to meet your nutritional needs while following a vegan diet. Certain nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, and iodine, are found primarily in animal products and certain fortified foods. Plus, while non-heme iron occurs in a variety of plant foods, it may not be as well absorbed as the heme iron found in animal products.

 

SUPPLEMENTS TO CONSIDER

Some vegans may find it difficult to eat enough of the nutrient-rich or fortified foods above to meet their daily requirements. In this case, the following supplements can be particularly beneficial:

  • VITAMIN B12: Vitamin B12 in cyanocobalamin form is the most studied and seems to work well for most people
  • VITAMIN D: Opt for D2 or vegan D3 forms
  • EPA AND DHA: Sourced from algae oil
  • IRON: Should only be supplemented in the case of a documented deficiency. Ingesting too much iron from supplements can cause health complications and prevent the absorption of other nutrients
  • IODINE: Take a supplement or add 1/2 teaspoon of iodized salt to your diet daily
  • CALCIUM: Calcium is best absorbed when taken in doses of 500mg or less at a time. Taking calcium at the same time as iron or zinc supplements may reduce their absorption
  • ZINC: Taken in zinc gluconate or zinc citrate forms. Not to be taken at the same time as calcium supplements

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Balanced vegan diets are healthy, nutritious, and associated with a variety of health benefits, including improved heart health, blood sugar, and body mass. Following a vegan meal plan can help you incorporate many nutrient-rich, whole foods into your diet to provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Keep in mind that supplements and proper planning are essential to avoid deficiencies in several critical nutrients.

A Vegetarian diet

The vegetarian diet has gained popularity in recent years with estimates that vegetarians now account for 18% of the global population. Apart from the ethical and environmental benefits of cutting meat from your diet, a well-planned vegetarian diet may also reduce your risk of chronic disease, support weight loss and improve the quality of your diet.

WHAT IS A VEGETARIAN DIET?

The vegetarian diet involves abstaining from eating meat, fish, and poultry. There are several forms of vegetarianism, each of which differs in their restrictions.

The most common types include:

  • LACTO-OVO-VEGETARIAN DIET: Eliminates meat, fish and poultry but allows eggs and dairy products.
  • LACTO-VEGETARIAN DIET: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry, and eggs but allows dairy products.
  • OVO-VEGETARIAN DIET: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products but allows eggs.
  • PESCATARIAN DIET: Eliminates meat and poultry but allows fish and sometimes eggs and dairy products.
  • VEGAN DIET: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, as well as other animal-derived products, such as honey.
  • FLEXITARIAN DIET:A mostly vegetarian diet that incorporates occasional meat, fish, or poultry.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Most vegetarians avoid meat, poultry, and fish, though some also restrict eggs, dairy, and other animal products. A balanced vegetarian diet with nutritious foods like produce, grains, healthy fats, and plant-based protein may offer several health benefits, but it may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies if poorly planned. Be sure to pay close attention to a few key nutrients and round out your diet with a variety of healthy whole foods. That way, you’ll enjoy the benefits of vegetarianism while minimizing the side effects.