The podcast and radio show is called EAT THIS with Lianne. While I incorporate food into each episode, topics of late like sauna and cold plunge, meditation, listening to yourself, mental health, and other broader health topics that relate to food, I felt like we hadn’t had a focused discussion about the food that’s on your plate in a while. Sure, knowing how to stabilize your blood sugar with a glucose monitor that Chris and I have used in the past months and talked about in episodes 149 and 154, is so important, but taking a step back and looking at the most basic nutrients, namely macronutrients or more commonly known as macros is a worthwhile conversation to have. For all the micronutrients and vitamins, you can head back to episodes 109 and 135 to learn about vitamins and minerals, which includes my much loved and really effective supplement line, Take This by Lianne. Still, this episode is all about food – the carbohydrates, proteins, and fat that make up what you eat every meal and snack as an informative reminder and round-up. I want you to look at your plate with fresh eyes and make the choices that you do each and every meal, knowing what is helping or hindering your goal of better health. So today, on EAT THIS with Lianne, the macronutrients or macros that make up each meal and mouthful and how to tweak what you’re eating for better health.
After starting some personal training sessions, I stood on a scale that talked to an app, after adding in my height, age, and goals like how many times a week I am going to work out, the app spat out what macro percentages I needed to consume every day to reorganize my body composition. I need to move from less muscle mass to more, reduce my cellular age that is two years older than my actual age – so that’s not good – and get my muscles strong as I’m at a stage of life where maintaining muscle is at its most challenging. You may not be in perimenopause, but your challenge could be that you’re not exercising with enough resistance, like weights that do build more muscle mass that drives your metabolism and help your reaction time, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and more, and with the problem as the clock does not rotate backwards and make us younger as the minutes, hours, days and weeks fly by.
Protein, fats, and carbohydrates are known as macros if you’ve heard that term used before today. Getting the balance right with these can feel rather elusive, and looking down at your plate can bring joy to your favourites. Still, a tweak here and there can maintain that excitement, but also help you to refine what’s on your plate so that there’s a satisfaction further to what your mouth feels. There are diets out there like low carb options and high fat with the typical Keto diet, which by the way, has just made headlines that it can increase the risk of a heart attack, making all this that much more confusing. Another topic I talked about on the radio lately was a diabetic medication called Ozemyic, that’s a fast fix used for weight loss while it’s the magic bullet of the moment, it will soon fail as all fads do. We can’t cheat by not eating well. It’s the most basic thing we do every day, next to breathing and sleeping, so let’s break down the average plate and daily intake.
Ok, carbs, I’m looking at you. Usually advised to make up 55 – 65% of your plate, I beg to differ. As a reminder, carbs are fruit, veggies, whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, oats, beans, legumes, and even dairy products, all of which can give you energy from what they are digested into in the form of glucose. These variations include fructose, high fructose corn syrup, and sucrose, depending on if you’re opting for more refined versions of carbs. Think about your bowl of cereal, your muffin on the way to work, your bagel, sandwich, pizza, pasta, and any food that contains sugar. How your body deals with carbohydrates, from digestion to metabolizing them for energy, differs depending on the amount of processing of your carbohydrate of choice. Think baked or jacket potato with the skin on versus thin-cut fries that hit the deep fryer and come out a far more toxic food product than before they went in. Or my personal favourite, potato chips or crisps. I’m now opting for those cooked in avocado oil if you can’t quite give them up altogether on Dr. Brockenshire’s recommendation. The love-hate of carbs is real. From craving them when you need comfort to taste so good that it’s hard to believe that they are bad, to needing the fibre and being confused about what is a good carb or what is a bad carb and why leave you wondering or perhaps blissfully in denial about your favourite food of the moment causing that abdominal waist expansion that we know is the cause of way too many diseases as I talked about in episode X about belly fat. Some say, and I’d agree, that the refined carbohydrates out there, which 70 – 80% of the supermarket is full of, contribute to obesity, overweight, type 2 diabetes and the insane rise in it – this used to be called late onset diabetes – and now the youngest person in the literature was a 3-year-old Hispanic girl from Texas who was admitted to an obesity clinic at 35 kg and through diet and exercise, within 9 months reversed the diagnosis. Taking all carbs out of your diet can pose problems, as carbohydrates are fiber-rich. The fiber in foods, which is what processed foods are severely lacking in, slows the rate at which food enters your bloodstream and increases the speed at which food exits your body through the digestive tract. Fiber is needed to capture old hormones, cholesterol, toxins, and anything your body needs to remove after the liver breaks it down. Fiber is your best friend to help clear your acned skin, reduce cravings, balance your blood sugar, remove that elevated cholesterol, and help you lose weight because you feel fuller for longer if you eat a whole food with real fiber than if you do a white something that is a rush of sugar needing insulin to push it into the cells and give you energy. We get about 8 g of fiber a day on average, when in fact, we need between 30 and 50g a day. And this can also reduce your risk of colon cancer by as much as a third and breast cancer by almost 40 per cent. Fibre also provides food for cells in your colon, those good bugs and bacteria called your microbiome, and that leads to better mental health because of the gut-brain axis and a stronger immune system, to name just a few benefits. Head back to episode 45 for more on gut health and microbiome.
How do you manage your carbohydrate intake without throwing it off kilter entirely? A top tip that I’ve enjoyed lately is konjac noodles. They are white and kinda rubbery but come from a highly viscous dietary fiber from the root of the elephant yam, called a super fiber. This konjac holds up to 50 times its weight and slows everything down in your gut in a good way so you will feel fuller longer, which helps with weight management and those cravings you get. Any fiber, but this super fiber can be used as a noodle replacement in stir-fries or any kind of bowl that you make – I love adding fried-up mushrooms, smoked salmon, or a couple of eggs and a massive handful of greens and fire cider-based dressing that we made lately. It can help with constipation, lower your serum cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure, and help deal with insulin resistance. If you’re trying to go low carb, give these a try, and for less refined carbs, load up on seeds like flax and chia, all nuts. However, peanuts are at the bottom of the list as the others have essential fats in them, as many greens as you can – raw or wilted, lots of people do better with wilted or steamed veggies overall if they make you gassy eating them raw, half your plate needs to be a mix of veggies and colourful fruits. Chris, can you guess which fruit has the most fiber? Raspberries win the race here with 8 g of fiber per cup. Eat the skin of your apple and pear, and mango and persimmons are the best fiber options, but I found mango spiked my glucose level, so add it to your smoothie with protein and fat, and it’ll stabilize. Any carbohydrate that is in its unadulterated form, like brown rice versus white rice or white rice flour if you’re gluten-free, is THE best option for carbohydrate and fiber intake and will give you the micronutrients like B vitamins, minerals like magnesium, calcium, chromium, selenium, and even vanadium, that you need to run this body like a purring and well-tuned Ferrari.
Macro number 2 is protein. Protein provides us with the building blocks of life—helping us make muscle, connective tissue, hair, blood, enzymes, and neurotransmitters, and it has become a controversial topic. Why? Because of the divide between eating plant-based or vegan – no animal products versus keto-type diets of high protein and fat, which mostly has to come from animals. That aside, let’s look at protein like a wall of perfectly stacked bricks. Those bricks are amino acids, and while there are 8 that are essential out of the total of 22 that our body needs to make cells, repair cells of every kind from bone to muscle, teeth, immune cells, even your nails, hair, and even your eyelashes. Sometimes we need more of certain amino acids like Carnitine to help the body turn fat into energy. Carnitine is important for heart and brain function, muscle movement, and many other body processes or Theanine that, I’ve taken as a supplement. It is the amino acid in green tea and mushrooms and has been shown to affect brain functions by relieving stress disorders, improving mood, and maintaining normal sleep. It’s a great addition to my Real Mushrooms Reishi from Real Mushrooms, Physica Energetics Magnesium Bis-Glycinate, and HPA Axis (I’ll link supplements in the show notes), this supplement combo that I take before bed for an incredible night’s sleep. Anyway, back to protein… these amino acids come from the protein on your plate. Whether it’s chicken, steak, broccoli, non-GMO soy, ricotta or cottage cheese, greek yoghurt, eggs, fish, beans and lentils, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds, or an easier-to-measure protein powder, getting enough protein every day is one thing that I do believe that we need to focus on. If you are exercising and trying to build muscle, or you are keeping your skeletal muscle, which is what keeps you upright, able to walk, stand, and all the basics that include carrying your shopping up, keeping your grip strength to turn the key in the front door of your home, which in later years can truly start to wane, consuming enough protein is essential for muscle maintenance and growth. Protein can potentially promote fat loss when paired with resistance training and helps rid that stiffness after exercise.
Optimizing for protein, people do better in pretty much all aspects that, include better body composition, lean muscle mass, insulin, and muscle control, leaving you feeling satisfied as it slows down the release of carbs in your meal and protects tissue. The Atkins diet, which was high in protein, was one of the first fad diets I can remember. While it was another magic bullet kind of diet, it did get people to eat way more protein. How much is enough? 0.80mg/kg is the bare minimum of protein intake per day, so for a 130-pound individual, that would be approximately 47 grams. We don’t want minimum health, though, do we? We want optimal health, so the exact amount of protein you need depends on many factors, including activity level, age, muscle mass, and overall health, eating 100 g a day of protein. Interestingly the app calculation was just over that for me, so I was falling behind on that big time. I’m going to throw out some numbers here that aren’t easy to keep track of, but they’re in the show notes. If your goal is building muscle, target an intake of 0.4 grams per kilogram of body weight per meal over four meals to reach a minimum of 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. What that means is that the same 130-pound individual actually needs a range of 94 to 130 grams of protein per day to build muscle, so if you’re not a gym rat, then that 100g of protein a day is a goal. So think about protein first as you build out your meal or snack. I’ve been having a can of tuna on a bed of greens, fried mushrooms on the side, a sprinkle of hemp seeds, avocado oil mayonnaise (a pickle mixed in because that’s how tuna needs to be eaten as my mom made it, but the pickle provides no protein value), dressing, and I’m full for hours. That comes in at over 40 g of protein. I’ve found a non-whey protein powder that I can make up to 30 g in one glass, and because if I eat dairy, I blow up, I’m avoiding the one cup of greek yoghurt that would be around 24 g of protein.
- Four eggs (24 grams of protein)
- Three beef meatballs (15 grams)
- Two slices (2 ounces) of turkey bacon (10 grams)
- 3 ounces of turkey breast (24 grams)
- One can of tuna (27 grams)
For vegans and vegetarians, it’s harder, but there are a lot of plant-based protein powders out there that can help you on your day, nuts and seeds, organic rolled oats, a big bowl of veggies that include broccoli, all count. It’s more work but it can be done. There are vegan bodybuilders who manage, and that documentary from years ago – Name? – showed that it can be done.
Vegan and vegetarian protein sources: ¼ cup of protein granola (10 grams of protein), One scoop of plant-based protein powder (20 grams)
- 1 ounce of nuts (5 grams)
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter (7 grams)
- Two tablespoons of chia seeds (about 10 grams)
- One tablespoon of hemp seeds (4 grams)
- Two slices of rye bread (10 grams)
- A protein granola bar (8 grams)
- ½ cup of rolled oats (5 grams)
Mushrooms are a source of protein, and what gets put on your plate can be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, but it’s worth the focused effort for weight management, longevity, and keeping you strong and upright.
Yet another loaded topic in these macros, but essential as every cell in your body has a lipid layer or fats incorporated into them. When you pinch your skin, and it doesn’t bounce back as well, that’s you needing more fats and antioxidants, so your fats don’t get burned essentially. Fats stoke a potential fire called oxidation, which comes from exercise, stress, and even breathing.
Fats to stay away from – most vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, corn, and especially soybean oil, which now makes up about 20 per cent of our fat intake because they are found in so many processed foods, including my favourite, chips. Essential fats from fish are mostly what your brain needs to work, and although you can get it from algae, many people can’t break it down to DHA or EPA, the brick version of the protein that I talked about in the fat world.
A review of all the research on saturated fat published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. As with all fats, quality becomes key here. The fats in a fast-food bacon cheeseburger will have an entirely different effect than the saturated fat in coconut oil. Let’s stop classifying it all as the same.
Sure, eating too much fat can put on pounds for every gram of fat, you get twice the calories that you do with carbs and protein, but it’s getting smart about the fats that you use. Extra virgin olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet. The main focus for fats is on omega-3 fats, nuts, coconut oil, avocados, and, yes, even saturated fat from grass-fed or sustainably raised animals.
The body gives you signs of whether or not you are getting enough quality fat. The higher quality of the fat, the better your body will function. Warning signs to look out for include, dry, itchy, or flaking skin, soft, cracked, or brittle nails, hard earwax, tiny bumps on the backs of your arms or torso, achy, stiff joints,
Good fats to eat:
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts (one study showed a handful of nuts a day reduced death from all causes by 20 per cent)
- Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp
- Fatty fish, including sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon
- Extra virgin olive oil (a study showed that those who consumed 1 liter a week reduced heart attacks by 30 per cent)
- Grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products
- Extra virgin coconut butter, is a great plant-based source of saturated fat.
Fat can be about 20-30% of your diet, and it’ll be more of you’re in keto land, but do be careful, please.