Saturday, February 22, 2014

Habit 2: Eat Protein Dense Foods with Each Meal

Last week, we wrote about the importance of slowing down while eating. Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition pointed out that slowing down was important to allow our brain to recognize that we are full. This strategy allows us to stop before we overeat, and is a key element which will allow us to reach our fitness and aesthetic goals.

Martina Avellino, PhD.
Now that we have covered our bases in terms of how we should eat, let's look at what we should eat. Precision Nutrition advocates that it is crucial to eat protein dense foods with each meal, despite some statements to the contrary. Some experts would have you believe that this strategy involves eating too much protein--which is harmful at worst, or futile at best.

Martina Avellino, of Integra Training, and one of England's top trainers and brightest minds, disagrees with the protein naysayers. Avellino states, "Eating protein in every meal is important for satiety and to ensure that overall protein intake is adequate. Additionally, protein can positively affect hormonal balance that favours an optimal body composition."

This is because protein consumption aids in stimulating the release of glucagon. Glucagon, a hormone that is secreted by the alpha cells of the pancreas, breaks down glycogen to release glucose. This reduces the glycogen storage in the body, and in turn makes us less likely to store carbohydrates as fat.

In order to meet protein needs, Erika Volk (founder of Erika Volk Fitness) say that men and women should consume protein based on their weight and activity level.

 Erika Volk
Volk says that, "to prevent a protein deficiency, healthy adults need a baseline intake of .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. However, if you are participating in an exercise program or are trying to lose weight, you should aim to consume .64-.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight."

Michael Baker, a Tier 3+ trainer at Equinox has an easier way to measure the protein sizes if you don't have a digital scale handy. "A protein serving size should be between 20 and 30g, which is about the size of your hand."

"Women should seek to get one portion per meal, whereas men should aim for two servings of protein at each meal."

Follow these guidelines and you ensure that you consume adequate protein, rev up your metabolism, improve recovery, and reduce body fat.

This is part two of a five part series on The 5 Habits of Good Nutrition. Stay tuned for the rest of the series. 

Special thanks to Martina Avellino, PhD. of Integra Training, Erika Volk of Erika Volk Fitness, and Michael Baker of Equinox.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Habit 1: Eat Slowly and Stop at 80% Full

Most of us scarf down food like a young Yasiel Puig (LA Dodgers star outfielder), never knowing where our next meal is coming from. Many would classify this behavior as ridiculous or unsavory, given both the excess of and the access that most of us have to food. More importantly, this speed eating it is antithetical to our goals of leanness, performance, and health.

Courtesy: AP
Instead of devouring our food like a wild animal, we should eat slower and savor each bite. Each meal should last for an average of nearly 20 minutes.

Dr. John Berardi, of Precision Nutrition, says that this might be the most important of his 5 Habits. "It takes about 20 minutes for our satiety mechanisms to kick in. In other words, the communication between our gut, to our brain, and back to our gut is slow. Because of this, if we eat quickly, we're likely to eat far too much in the 20 minute time period before our brain finally says: "I'm content. You can stop eating now."

Admittedly, a meal that lasts for 20 minutes can be daunting for someone who has become accustomed to racing through meals. In that case, even slowing down a little can make a big difference.

This habit will help you to eat less and to better gauge fullness. So, the next time you sit down for a meal, relax and take your time. The future-and leaner you-will thank you.

This is part one of a five part article on the 5 Habits of Good Nutrition. Stay tuned for the rest of the series.