It’s March and National Nutrition Month (NNM) is upon us. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created NNM to bring awareness to the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an award-winning weight management expert, I’m sharing some of the most common nutrition advice I share in my busy practice in helping individuals meet their weight goals.
Pro Tip #1: Include 20-30g of protein in your first meal of the day.
This is a big one. Having breakfast with 20-30g of protein has been shown to decrease ghrelin, your hunger hormone. Lowering ghrelin will help you eat less throughout the day, watch portions, and prevent mindless snacking. For those who are intermittent fasting, make sure your first meal has at least 20-30g of protein — it doesn’t have to be breakfast. Starting your day with protein will also balance blood sugars, helping you sustain your energy and keep you fuller longer.
I see many people make the mistake of only having carbs in the morning, such as fruit, toast or cereal. A better option would be eggs, plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt, cottage cheese or ANY of the Designer Protein powders. All Designer Protein powders contain high quality protein to help you meet your goals. My favorite, Designer Egg, has 25g of high quality protein from eggs. (I will talk more about the benefits of eggs in my upcoming blog in April — stay tuned!)
Pro Tip #2: Think high fiber when it comes to carbs.
Yes, you can still have carbs and lose weight, I promise: it’s all about what type of carbs. Carbs can be found in foods such as milk, yogurt, starchy vegetables (winter squash, corn, potatoes, and peas), beans, nuts (some more than others) and grains. You want to think high fiber. My rule of thumb is at least 4g of fiber per 100 calories in all processed grains (breads, crackers, cereals or tortillas). Ideally you want to focus on whole food carbs like fruits, peas, corn, whole potatoes and butternut squash. Of course when enjoying carbs, watch your portion and pair it with a protein or healthy fat. Carbs alone break down much quicker than protein or fat in the stomach resulting in getting hungry sooner. That being said, when eating fruit, pair it with nuts or cheese or enjoy it in a smoothie with Designer Protein powder to help watch portions, sustain energy, and keep you full.
Pro Tip #3: Get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep builds your foundation for the day. Anything less than 7 hours of sleep can increase cortisol and ghrelin in your body. Cortisol is one of your fight-or-flight stress hormones and tends to make you crave carbs because carbs gives you quick energy. You may find yourself day dreaming about chips, candy and pretzels when you’re tired because both cortisol and ghrelin, your hunger hormone, are high. First step is to bring awareness to these cravings and recognize it’s your sleep deprivation taking over. The next step is to take a look at your sleep hygiene. Try to reserve your bed for sleep and sex only and avoid playing on your phone or tablet 30-60 minutes prior to bedtime.
Pro Tip #4: Start your day with a glass of water.
Hydration is key. Depending on the weather and your activity level, people need roughly half their body weight in liquids a day. I often hear people starting their day with a cup of coffee. This is fine, but coffee contains caffeine which is a diuretic. We typically start our day dehydrated because we haven’t had water consistently through the night — having coffee first thing may dehydrate us even more. Dehydration can cause low energy, headaches, poor concentration and food cravings since we can get water from food. Simply start your morning with 8-16 ounces of water and continue to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Pro Tip #5: Aim for 4-5 cups of veggies, or more, a day.
Veggies are anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense, add bulk to your meal, gets you fuller quicker and helps you meet you vitamin and mineral needs. Consuming 8-10 servings (roughly 4-5 cups) has been shown to have significant health benefits such as reducing your risk for heart disease and cancer. In regards to weight management, including 4-5 cups of veggies into your daily diet is the best way to make sure you meeting your nutrition needs and help you feel satisfied during meal time.
I could go on forever on this subject, but these are my top 5 nutrition tips. Tune in for more nutrition savvy tips in future blogs.
If you’re having trouble getting in your protein, veggies or hydration. Try my simple, lower calorie, balanced carb, and high protein smoothie recipe: blend 2 scoops of Designer Egg protein powder, 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup ice and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or water) and enjoy!