Fruit – Should You Eat It?
I get lots of questions about fruit. Should you eat it? How much should you eat? When should you eat it?
The Food Pyramid tells us that fruit is essential…more essential even then meat and beans.
While fruits do have vitamins and minerals and many have antioxidants that are good for you, fruits are all carbs….
So essential to your diet?…Honestly, not really.
Vegetables can really give you the exact same nutrients you will find in fruits.
For instance, we always turn to oranges or orange juice for Vitamin C. But bell peppers actually have MORE Vitamin C than oranges do.
HOWEVER, fruit is delicious and nutritious so can be included in moderation.
Here are my guidelines for including fruit in your diet.
- Eat seasonally and locally. Eat fruits that are in season and local. When fruits are in season, they are going to be at their peak…aka pack in the most nutrients. And when they are local, you are also get them the freshest.
- Eat organic if thin-skinned. If your fruits have a thin skin that you don’t peel off or can be easily penetrated by pesticides, buy them organic. Or from a farmer’s market since most of the stands there carry local produce even if they can’t afford to pay for the label.
- Treat it as a treat and snack. Fruit is sweet and higher in carbs. Use it as a sweet treat to curb cravings. It can also be a decent snack especially when paired with a fat to help hold you over so that you don’t just get hungry a few minutes later. Try an apple and almond butter…Or a banana and almond butter…YUM!
- Don’t make fruit the basis of the meal or treat it as an “unlimited” food. I personally try to avoid smoothies for breakfast unless mixed with fats and protein. Alone fruit won’t keep you feeling full for very long, which can cause people to consume more calories than they actually need. And again…It has lots of carbs and those add up quickly, which makes it a food you can’t just eat as much as you want of….unlike vegetables…and even protein. It is hard to eat “too much” protein or vegetables. It isn’t hard to eat too much fruit.
- Make lower carb fruit the fruit you consume most often. Just like proteins, vegetables and carbs in general are not created equal, neither are fruits. There are some fruits that should be included more often than others. Tropical fruits, for instance, should be included only every so often. While berries can be eaten more often. They are lower in carbs and are super nutrient-dense with lots of antioxidants. Choose your fruits wisely. As with all foods you consume, you want to get the most bang for your buck possible!
- Eat fruit on carb days. Fruits are great for carb days. They are healthy and nutrient-dense. Cycle your fruit consumption just like you cycle your carbs.
- Fruits and fruit juices are not the same thing. Consume fruit in its natural state. Juices with anything added, even if they say all-natural, contain way more sugar and crap. And it is way easier to consume way too much fruit when it is in liquid form. Avoid juices as much as possible.
The fruits I indulge in most often are berries and apples. They are my favorite…especially apples and almond butter.
What fruits do you include in your diet?
Calorie and Carb Cycling – What does your body NEED?
I got into an interesting discussion last night with clients about diet and what they SHOULD be eating every day. Women especially seem to get very obsessed with restricting their calories when they are trying to lose weight.
My simple answer when they asked me what they should be eating and how many calories they needed was:
Your body’s needs change daily.
They of course rolled their eyes at me and shook their heads because they knew I loved giving that very vague answer.
Some days you are super active and require more fuel while other days you aren’t as active and don’t need as much. Some days you are super hungry while other days you aren’t.
Yet so many people restrict their calories (and their carbs) to the exact same level each and every day.
And that maybe why they aren’t getting the results they want.
You need to fuel your body’s needs. And those needs aren’t the same day-to-day.
If you do an intense workout, YOU ARE GOING TO NEED TO EAT MORE. If you deprive yourself of food when your body needs it, you are going to hinder your progress – be it weight loss or strength gains.
Just like if you eat too much on days when you aren’t active you are going to hinder your progress.
Eat when you are HUNGRY.
People are often shocked when I say this, but…IF YOU AREN’T HUNGRY DON’T EAT! And if you are…THEN EAT!
There is really no most important meal or the day. If you aren’t hungry for breakfast, then don’t eat it!
And if you are hungry at 10 p.m., EAT!
You aren’t going to get fat just because you ate after a certain time of night. If your body needs the fuel, it will use it no matter when you eat. It isn’t like your metabolism decides to just shut off because it is 8 p.m.
Your body is pretty good at telling you what it needs.
You just need to learn how to listen because most people don’t really pay attention. They mistake boredom for hunger or even thirst for a need for food. They can also get caught up in thinking they need to eat every few hours or their metabolism will just shut off so they force down food even when their body isn’t really asking for it.
So how do you learn to listen to your body? How do you know when to cycle your calories and carbs?
HOW TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY:
Think before you eat. It’s really that simple. For example….If you just ate like an hour ago (and it was a filling healthy lunch) and you are sitting at your computer doing some boring work and are struck by a desire to just eat, ask yourself, “Am I hungry or am I bored?” I’m guessing more often than you know, your answer will be BORED. Maybe try drinking some water before you dive in. Dehydration is also another common trigger of “hunger pangs.” And so is stress. Think before you eat.
While I know many people may be shocked by what I will say next….Fasting can be a great way to get in tune with your body. I’m not suggesting you start starving yourself, but occasional intermittent fasts can be a great way to realize how often you eat for reasons unrelated to hunger. I found I became way more in tune with my body when I did intermittent fasting.
I no longer NEED to eat at certain times. And some days I don’t eat till late in the afternoon while other days I need to eat something the second I get up.
The point is though that I can RESPOND to my body’s NEEDS. I don’t just have to eat because I’m conditioned to mentally want something at a certain time of day.
Another great way to get in tune with your body is to keep track of your diet, activity level, emotions and lifestyle.
I know this sounds super annoying, but it can be super helpful if you are really struggling to make a healthy lifestyle stick. There are going to be common trends. Emotions may trigger eating binges. Or you may find out that on certain days when you were more active and ate more carbs you had better results than on days when you worked out intensely yet forced yourself to continue to restrict your carb intake.
Tracking reveals patterns so that we aren’t just guessing at what is going on. Guessing generally leads to frustration and failure.
WHEN/HOW TO CARB AND CALORIE CYCLE:
To put it simply as I stated above – eat when you are hungry and listen to what your body craves.
If you don’t workout, your body won’t need the carbs and calories that it does on days when you do workout. And more intense workouts, especially cardio workouts that really deplete your glycogen stores, are going to require more carbs and more calories.
Respond to your activity level and what your body is craving. (And just because your body is craving carbs doesn’t mean you have to give in and go eat a bunch of crap. There are lots of ways to do a carb re-feed without eating unhealthily.)
Plan days of low carb (around 50 grams) for days when you don’t workout or workout lightly. If you have a super hard intense workout, don’t be afraid to up your carbs to even 200-300 grams. Keep the carbs healthy, but fuel the workout.
While you don’t want your carbs to be up at 200g every day (because if you need that many every day you are probably OVERTRAINING), having a few days where you do get up over 150g is ok and even go.
Also, play around with carb timing. Have some carb refeed days and then have some days where maybe you just have carbs AFTER your workout when your body will quickly grab them up to rebuild.
Generally I break down my diet into three days.
Low day – Around 50 grams of carbs, high fat, high protein.
Medium day – Around 100-120 grams of carbs, medium/low-fat, high protein
High day – Around 200-300 grams of carbs, low-fat, medium protein
This basic plan works for me and I always feel energized.
But there are lots of ways to carb cycle – you can do whole day refeeds or just specific meal refeeds after your workouts.
I must say that there are times where I fast, workout and then basically just have carbs after my workouts and that is my refeed for the day.
The point is to listen to your body and not be stuck believing that the only way to get results is to restrict your diet completely.
While low carb can be a great way to kick-start your diet and may even have help you have great success, you may just find that carb and calorie cycling is what you need to get over that last little hurdle. Sometimes a little more can be better when it comes to weight or fat loss.
And while I have no problems running a half marathon fasted and after a week of low carb, you may just find that your body requires MORE carbs to fuel your activity level and help you reach the strength and performance gains you desire.
Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to eat more calories or carbs especially when your body is asking for them! You may just find your goals are easy to reach when you aren’t so militant about restriction.
Calorie Cycling: Are you cutting out TOO MUCH?
Today I want to take a second and talk about weight/fat loss and dieting. While I always drive people to have performance goals, a great percentage of the clients I deal with do have weight loss goals as one of their reasons for wanting to start with training.
Some are completely aesthetic goals. Some are health related.
But whatever the reason, weight loss is a very common goal.
And many people think that weight loss or body fat loss means cutting everything out.
But can cutting out TOO MUCH actually be the reason why they aren’t seeing results?
If you cut out too much, your body is going to think it is starving. And when your body thinks it is starving, it is going to try to slow everything down so that it can protect the stores that it has.
AKA your metabolism slows down, which fights against you losing the weight/fat you were trying to lose.
Not to mention that if you aren’t fueling properly, your body is going to be stressed, which will negatively affect your hormone levels.
And you aren’t going to have the energy to workout or even really make it through the day functioning at a high level.
All those hours you are putting in at the gym may not be paying off because you don’t really have the energy to push your body to work as hard as it needs to for you to make the strength/muscle/cardiovascular gains you are looking to make.
And I bet you are now shaking your head, thinking, “But I need to really cut calories or I won’t lose weight! Even Bob Harper’s diet says to eat only 800 calories a day for three weeks!”
If you eat 800 calories a day and expect your body to function at a high level, you are kidding yourself. At that rate, you are going to stall very quickly and your body is going to revolt.
Plus, 800 calories from meat and veggies is going to affect your body way differently than 800 calories of M&Ms. You are going to see drastically different results if you eat the RIGHT FOODS.
You now may be thinking, “Ok so you are one of those “quality matters more than the number of calories.”
I do think creating a calorie deficit matters. BUT I think that quality of the food you consume matters just as much.
And while I’m a fan of low carb, I do believe that cutting out too much of ANYTHING, be in calories or a macronutrient, for prolonged periods of time leads to plateaus and potentially even backslides.
So what do you do if cutting out a ton of calories isn’t the way and it isn’t only about eating the right foods?
I call it carb cycling, but it could very well be described as calorie cycling as well.
I meet my body’s needs.
And every day my body doesn’t need the same thing.
Some days I completely deplete my glycogen stores. I do a super tough workout and have had a few days of lower carb. And now my body needs carbs.
And if I don’t do a carb refeed, I’m going to be a grouchy low-energy person. I’m going to be angry and not very fun to be around. My workouts will suffer and that will only serve to make me more peeved.
So I avoid letting that happen.
I do a carb refeed. I respect what my body needs.
Just like I respect the fact that on some days my body wants breakfast and on others it doesn’t. Some days it needs 3,000 calories and other days it is fine with only 1,500.
And the thing is, your body functions best when it is getting what it NEEDS!
If you want to lose fat, if you want to lose weight, yes, you’ve got to make changes to your diet. And yes, you will need to create a calorie deficit at points, but you’ve also got to respect what your body needs to keep functioning at a high level.
Because when your body functions well, it will also do a good job of losing the weight and performing well.
But on top of that, cutting out “enough” calories to lose weight, or cutting your carbs, doesn’t mean you do it to the same extent EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Cycle in high days. Cycle in low days. When you workout, fuel your workout. Replenish your body.
When you don’t workout, don’t give it calories or foods it doesn’t need.
The cycling allows you to create the calorie deficit and/or carb fluctuations you need over the weeks, months, or even years to lose the weight/fat without your body feeling deprived or stressed so that your hormone levels and metabolism work against you.
If you’re progress has stalled, take a look at your diet. You may just be cutting too much out.
Just like we vary our workouts to create some “muscle confusion” since our body adapts, we need to vary our diet since our body will adapt and try to prevent starvation if we cut out too many calories.
Have you ever suffered from the, “If I barely eat I’ll lose more weight” mentality?
When did you realize that NOT STARVING yourself actually led to greater results!?! (Maybe right now…..)
NOTE: STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF EVERY DAY! If you cycle calories and carbs, your weight will fluctuate day to day. Pick one day a week or even each month to weigh. Do not put it right after your carb refeed.
I love the high carb days!
So right now Ryan and I are doing a carb cycling experiment and so far I LOVE it. ABSOLUTELY LOVE!
Also, I’ve seen great results over just about two weeks. We will see how things continue over the next month or so.
But anyway, one of the things I love the most is that I can now add in one of my favorite meals that I used to make when Ryan and I did our low-fat (ICK!) experiment.
FRIED RICE….or at least my version of the dish!
We’d stopped eating fried rice because we used soy sauce in it and soy sauce has gluten in it.
We also stopped making the dish because we in general preferred to get our carbs from fruits and veggies.
HOWEVER, I’ve found that I feel better during my intense workouts when I consume a few more carbs so I started to add back in potatoes and rice. This summer I even went through a big homemade corn tortilla phase, which I’ve now grown out of.
Anyway, since we started adding in more carbs, I started to want to make the Fried Rice again since I’d loved the dish.
Which is when we found Organic Tamari, which replaces soy sauce and has no gluten. YUM!
I now make this dish as often as I can. We literally have had it every single high carb day during our carb cycling!
With a little chicken or fish and the gluten-free Tamari, this is a great lower fat, high carb meal…that is still perfectly Primal!
Below is the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as Ryan and I do!
1 lbs chicken breasts
2 cups uncooked white rice
3 chopped green onions
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup Tamari
Cook the rice based on the directions on the package. We usually get the “slow” cooking rice but that is up to you.
Chop up the chicken and cook it in a separate pan. Once the chicken is basically cooked, add in bean sprouts and green onions. Add cooked rice to meat mixture. Put in sesame oil and Tamari.
Make sure the heat is up on your pan so you can get a little crisp to the rice.
Then make two holes in the mixture and crack an egg into each hole. Let the egg cook for a second before tossing the rice with both eggs.
Once everything is mixed, enjoy!
On our high carb days we keep our protein intake the same, but try to get no more than 50 grams of fat, which isn’t easy after being so used to eating high fat!
However, there are only 42 grams of fat if you eat ALL of the fried rice that the above recipe makes. This really should serve about 4-6.
(Picture to come tonight after I make it!!)
Also, a big shout out to Epic! Awesome training session today! Haven’t climbed a rope in a while. Also got to experience my first faux knife fight! LOVE IT! You guys are awesome!