Topic: Gaining Peace + Intentional Nutrition.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Gaining peace in a world full of chaos can be hard to say the least. And gaining peace in terms of your health and wellness journey is even harder. Often times we find ourselves fretting over the small things and our anxiety takes over. But God calls us to let go of the anxiety. Easier said than done, right?
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
God calls us to trust Him. He wants us to have peace in our hearts. So I challenge you today to pray a prayer of peace. Pray that He gives you peace with whatever you are going through in life. When you gain that peace, you will be able to really address this health journey you so long for.
Many people (much more than you may realize) struggle with anxiety to some degree or another, especially when it comes to weight loss. Not knowing exactly what to do. Being overwhelmed by all the information out there. Stressing about everything they eat. The struggle is real. And the struggle is hard.
Webster’s dictionary definition of anxiety is:
“apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill”;
“an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it.”
This week I want to equip you with tools that will help you plan for the outer work you are doing which will in turn support the inner work of peace. Finding peace with yourself is one of the first steps, as we addressed earlier in this program, so now it is time to address the plan that will help lessen the anxiety.
Last week we briefly discussed making sure you get all macronutrients in your diet… but now let’s really dive in to WHAT macros are. Eating intentionally can play such a huge role in your overall health and wellness. I want to dive into the main points for you to focus on when it comes to nutrition.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “macros” a lot in today’s world and a lot of people have no clue what this means. And that’s ok… so let me start off by defining macros. Macros are the main composition of food and include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each one of these play a different role in our bodies and we need all of them for a well balanced diet. When it comes to weight loss, the most important thing to understand is macronutrients.
So let’s break it down.
Carbohydrates are what your body uses for fuel for day-to-day functions. These can come in healthy versions such as veggies, fruits, potatoes, grains and legumes, however, a lot of people tend to lean toward the not-so-healthy versions such as processed foods, breads, cookies, cakes, sweets etc. Healthy carbs are an essential part of digestion and keeping your blood sugars steady! Carbs can be simple carbs or complex carbs. The simple carbs are the carbs you see in fruits, veggies and sugar. These are typically easy to break down and you can either use them or store them quickly. Complex carbs come from rice, potatoes, quinoa etc. These take longer to break down and help you feel full. Carbs are either used as energy or stored as fat when the storage centers are full! So it is really important to focus on fibrous veggies and complex carbs.
Proteins build and maintain muscle. They also break down slowly, thus burning more calories during digestion. Ladies, don’t let “muscle” scare you. You need muscle to help you lose weight and keep it off. Muscles increase and ramp up your metabolism as well: one pound of muscle can burn up to 20 calories per day at rest, whereas one pound of fat only burns 5 calories per day.
Your body cannot store protein so you are constantly having to replenish it. You get protein from real food but you can also supplement with protein powders, etc. When getting protein from food, you want to eat LEAN protein. 1 gram of protein equals 4 calories. Typically, you will want to get at least .8-1x your bodyweight in grams of protein. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs, you will want to get 160-200 grams of protein a day to maintain your muscles.
Healthy fats are also an essential part of any diet. Fats are actually very important in your hormonal balance as well as weight loss, but you have to choose “good fats.” Good fats consist of avocado, olive oil, nuts, eggs, etc. 1 gram of fat is equal to 9 calories. Typically, you want your fat calories to be lower than the calories you receive from proteins and carbs. Eaten in moderation and in conjunction with the right amount of carbs on each particular day (high carb day vs. low carb day), they help your energy levels stay steady and keep you from feeling hungry.
My favorite way to track my macronutrients is to carb cycle.
Carb cycling is just what it sounds like, eating more carbohydrates on some days (high carb days) to promote muscle growth and eating less carbohydrates (low carb days) on some days to promote fat loss and minimize fat gain. This is my favorite technique for weight loss because it gets results fast and you are not deprived! Cycling carb intake also allows you to utilize fat for fuel as opposed to carbohydrates. The pattern of alternating high carb, moderate carb and low carb days tricks your metabolism into burning fat and a lot of calories. That, combined with timing your workouts based on what and HOW you are eating that day, allows you to increase fat burning all day long. The carbs are then used to build muscle while burning fat!
What is amazing about counting macros combined with a carb cycling lifestyle is you can adjust your macros to reach certain goals. You can increase or decrease carbs, proteins, or fats to focus on building muscle, burning fat, etc. Although tracking your macros is essential in hitting your goals, nutrition choices need to go beyond the basic IIFYM (if it fits your macros), and the numbers you need depend on what your goals are. Everyone has different goals and different body types and activity levels ... all these things affect what your macros should be on a day-to-day basis.
So why do you need to count your macros? Because it is so important when it comes to reaching your goals. Getting the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your diet is essential to meet your goals – whether you want to build muscle or lose weight – or both! Getting too much or too little of any macronutrient can mess with your metabolism, energy levels, muscle gains/losses, fat gains/losses, or hormone levels. Tracking your macronutrients is essentially tracking where your calories are coming from. So this week we are going to practice tracking our macros in MyFitnessPal with a PURPOSE!
For years, the fitness industry’s party line in terms of weight loss has been to restrict your calories and eat multiple small meals spread out throughout the day to keep your metabolism working all day long. That is, until recently. With new research coming out about the benefits of intermittent fasting in terms of weight loss and overall health...the industry is beginning to take note. While this incredibly effective nutritional strategy has not yet become mainstream, it is becoming more and more popular as the results truly do speak for themselves.
Because intermittent fasting is still relatively new on the scene, there is a lot of confusion about what it is and how to implement it effectively. Intermittent fasting is not a diet; it is an eating schedule. It says nothing about which foods you CAN eat, but rather WHEN you can eat. You are cycling between patterns of eating and fasting (not eating).
Your body is constantly in one of two states - fed or fasted. When you are in a “fed” state, your body is working hard to produce insulin to break down and digest food. However, in a “fasted” state, which is typically between 8-10 hours after the digestion process has stopped, your body is given a break from insulin production and is able to pull into your fat stores. Interesting enough, people rarely enter into a “fasted” state. We are taught to eat small meals regularly throughout the day which is keeping up in constant digestion. I’m here to tell you that this is not necessarily the right thing to do when wanting to keep/build lean calorie burning muscle while decreasing fat.
When you practice intermittent fasting, you allow your body to de-stress from a constant production of insulin and your blood sugar can regulate itself. It reduces stress on your cells and organs, allowing them to heal naturally and re-group. Intermittent fasting also helps to normalize your hunger hormones! Studies show that this lifestyle actually increases your metabolic rate - causing you to burn more calories throughout the day.
There are several ways to follow an intermittent fasting lifestyle but the most common ways are either a once a week 24 hour fast, or the daily 16/8 protocol (this is what I follow).
Implementation is super simple: pick an 8 hour window and consume all of your calories/macros during that 8 hour window, then fast for the other 16 hours of each day. People typically fast overnight, unless they work a night shift. During your fasting window, you can consume water, black coffee and herbal teas while still keeping your body in a fasted state. I typically fast from 7pm at night then break my fast with a hearty meal around 11am. This can obviously be adjusted based on your schedule and family’s needs. The placement of your eating window is not important as long as you are fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8!
When beginning to use this strategy, you may want to ease your way up to 16 hours: starting with 12 for a few days, then bumping it up to 14 for a few more before going all in at 16 hours. Also, when starting out be sure that you are consuming enough calories during your eating window, which can be a challenge when you are first getting used to the 16/8 strategy.
Intermittent fasting has incredible benefits for those wanting to burn fat, increase their energy, and prevent illness. Using the 16/8 fasting protocol is incredibly sustainable and will give you the results you are looking for!
So what are the most recognized benefits of carb cycling and intermittent fasting?
- It allows you to eat the foods you love (within reason)
- It allows you to build muscle while burning fat
- Intermittent fasting heals your body
- Intermittent fasting allows your body to return to its natural state
- It fits into any lifestyle
- It gives you more energy
- It increases metabolic rate and regulates blood sugar levels
Since we addressed the most effective nutritional strategies for fat loss, let me now address the ever-controversial topic - calorie-restricted diets. Yes, these types of diets will get you results pretty quickly. However, let’s dive into the long-term side effects of calorie restriction.
While living in a calorie deficit can yield weight loss (it always does), it is not the healthiest option. When you live in a calorie deficit for too long some of the long-term side effects include abnormal hormone fluctuations (including adrenal and thyroid), trouble concentrating and memory loss, weight loss plateau and a very slow metabolism, mineral deficiencies, and so much more. You will begin to burn muscle, and when that happens your metabolic rate decreases making it hard to lose fat. You may begin to feel like you can never get “toned” like you want even though you may be eating “healthy” and working out.
Please understand that a long-term calorie restricted diet is NOT the way to live your life. Your body needs fuel to burn fat.