After the *incredible* response I received from my recent post “Calories are Stupid” [THANK YOU for all of your kind and inspiring words, emails and comments!], I wanted to follow up with something a little more tangible for you guys. Something you can use as an every day guide to make healthy eating stupid easy.
Something that you can focus on for 4 seconds instead of the 10 minutes it takes you to count every calorie, carb, and fat gram of whatever you’re eating for lunch. I use this guide just about every time I think about what I’m going to eat. And you know what? Sometimes I say f*ck it and I order a tequila and chicharones [those are deep fried pig skins and that actually happened last weekend].
But 95% of the time, I’m able to apply and use this simple guide. Sometimes I’m eating really “clean” with eggs and broccoli cooked in coconut oil, while other times I’m being a little naughty with a fat guac burger. But the beauty of this guide is that there is room for wiggle room. The idea is that if you’re eating what you’re supposed to, you won’t have the room to overdo it on crappy food.
Because I’m a huge fan of cheesy acronyms (and just being cheesy in general), let me introduce you to: PHFF
Protein, Healthy Fat, and Fiber
Why PHFF? Protein, healthy fat and fiber are powerful agents in blood sugar control. Each nutrient slows the uptake of sugar into the blood and stunts the insulin response. Remember, insulin is a fat storing hormone, so the less insulin released, the better! Also, these are the nutrients that you keep you full for hours. And each has it’s own specific, rockstar function, meaning it’s important to incorporate all 3 or at least 2 out of 3 at every meal.
Protein is the most satiating nutrient. You will ultimately feel more satisfied and stay fuller, longer by eating protein with every meal. There is also a good amount of evidence that suggests that protein is the most important nutrient when it comes to weight loss. That makes total sense if it’s what keeps us full. And protein supports muscle metabolism. Fill up on Greek yogurt, grass-fed beef, seafood, chicken, pork, eggs, cottage cheese, and high quality protein powder.
Healthy Fats taste good! And they also follow right behind protein when it comes to satiety – they keep you so full and so satisfied. And! Healthy fat lessens the blood sugar response and this is VERY important in terms of your metabolism. We won’t hit on that here, but this blog post about blood sugar control will explain it all. The best sources of fat? Whole food sources. Nuts, seeds, coconut, chia seeds, nut butter, avocado and cacao – yep, dark chocolate! These are the best because most also contain fiber. But grass fed butter, cheese, coconut oil, coconut milk, cold pressed oils, and organic heavy cream are great, too!
Fiber fills. you. up. Fiber is a carbohydrate, but I make the distinction because fiber is metabolized a little differently. It doesn’t spike blood sugar like most forms of carbohydrates – as a matter of fact, it slows down the uptake of sugar into the blood. My favorite fiber sources are non-starchy veggies (eat as much as your heart desires!), starchy veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plantains, fruit, lentils, beans (love lentil or chickpea pasta!), chia seeds, flax meal, and acacia fiber. Fiber is also a crucial contributor to healthy gut bacteria, which is so important for a healthy immune system and just overall good health.
But, how much of each do I eat?
This leads me to my next important step – stop worrying about how much to eat. Your body will tell you what it needs. A young, overweight female’s recommendations look far different from an active, fit middle-aged man’s recommendations. But, I know you guys want some sort of guidelines and I’m just here to serve the people, so fine, I’ll give you a very general rule of thumb to get you started.
Protein: 1 serving = 20-30 grams
Healthy Fats: 1 serving = 12 grams fat
Fiber: a total of at least 25g/day (around 8g/meal)
You should get at least 1 serving of each at each meal. Most of you will need more, but you can play around with amounts. Don’t stress about this part – just start eating PHFF and listen to your body!
Can I lose weight with PHFF?
Duh. And I recommend losing weight this way. You see, when our blood sugar is out of control, we store more fat. Without healthy fats, protein and fiber, carbohydrate intake causes spikes in blood sugar and when we do it over and over again, we store more and more carbohydrates as fat.
Stable blood sugar not only prevents us from storing fat, it helps us burn fat. I talk a lot about insulin being a fat storing hormone, but glucagon needs a little notoriety here as glucagon is the fat burning hormone. Not to get super scientific on you, but when insulin isn’t at work storing fat, glucagon is out burning shit up.
Go forth! Spend a day eating this way and tell me what you think!