Whenever people ask me about losing weight and about carbs, I’ve found that people are mixing a lot of information up, and getting it wrong. I’ll try to simplify it.
Carbs play an important role in health and digestion, certain carbs are good and some are just plain bad for you. Zero or extremely low-carb diets should only be taken on for a few weeks (like for a fitness show or photos), or for those with a medical condition (like epilepsy, uncontrollable diabetes, or SIBO patients) while under a doctor’s supervision since extremely low carbohydrate diets lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and digestive issues.
A low-carb diet is vague and has no exact definition, so it can mean different things to different people. What I suggest is that people follow a healthy lower-carbohydrate diet, by that, I mean, don’t eat the way a typical American eats with a plateful of pasta with meatballs; a breakfast bagel with cream cheese, lox and orange juice; or a grilled cheese sandwich. Those meals have too much unhealthy, processed carbs and not enough protein. If the carbohydrate doesn’t grow in the field, on a plant, or on a tree, it’s processed and not good for your body. Instead, go for fruit, not juice (which isn’t fresh, pasteurized [heated], with pulp [fiber] removed); and eat vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, peas, corn, and zucchini (great for making make noodles), a variety of beans, and some nuts (nuts are mostly fat, but contain carbs too). Healthy, whole-food carbohydrates are full of nutrients, fiber and protect us from disease. Eat your vegetables!
The amount of carbs you should eat per meal really depends on how many times a day you eat, if you’re overweight, underweight, if you’re male or female, how tall you are, how active you are, what medical conditions you have, and how old you are. According to the National Academy of Medicine, you don’t want to eat fewer than 135 grams of carbs on a daily basis, which is about four 1/2 cups plus ¼ cup of carbs (totaling 2 1/4 cups per day). So, if you eat four times a day, you’ll want to pair your lean protein with ½ cup of carbs, and one snack with ¼ cup of carbs (like a half of banana, an orange, or two figs).
I generally eat 135-150 grams of carbs each day, which I consider to be a lower-carbohydrate diet, and a great starting point for most females. For an active man that is 5’7 or taller, 165-200 grams of whole food carbs, should meet your nutritional needs.
When you change your diet from too few carbs, or too many processed carbs to an appropriate amount of whole-food, nutrient dense carbs, you’ll have a lot more energy, fewer digestive issues, preserve muscle, lose unnecessary fat, and feel and look much better.
Photo: Sweet potatoes are a high carbohydrate food, but are very healthy; just make sure to pair it with a lean protein, and don’t eat more than 1/2-3/4 cup per meal.
I love tacos! I could eat tacos every day! Vegan vegetable tacos, shrimp tacos, chicken fajitas tacos, steak tacos, shredded pork tacos…yummy! Here’s how I stay slim and still eat tacos every week:
- Use corn tortillas, not flour tortillas. They are smaller, have fewer calories, and great for those than cannot eat gluten or wheat.
- Grill or broil dry tortillas. Don’t fry or put oil on the tortillas, that adds extra fat and calories, and doesn’t really make the meal taste that much better.
- Skip the cheese. The salt and extra fat is unnecessary if the other ingredients are fresh.
- Go light on the guacamole. Avocados are a healthy fat, but they are a high-calorie fruit, so use just a dollop of guacamole on each taco.
- Limit yourself to 2 or 3 tacos. Portion control is essential for weight loss, and don’t stuff those tacos so much that the contents don’t stay in the taco shell.
- Choose lean proteins. The fattier the meat, the more calories you’re eating, so choose chicken breast over chicken thighs, carne asada steak over shredded pork or duck, ground turkey breast cooked in stock over ground turkey cooked in its own fat and/or oil. Or, just go for a veggie taco with beans, sautéed onions, zucchini and bell peppers.
- Go light on the sour cream. While sour cream has about 23 calories per tablespoon, a few dollops can add up to an extra 100 calories you don’t need. Drizzle on the sour cream or, use an unsweetened vegan coconut yogurt, which can be 1/4 th the calories of sour cream.
My dairy-free tacos, prepared above with sliced red bell peppers, cabbage and green onions; chopped fresh cilantro, and plenty of red and green hot sauce, is what I serve to my guests, get rave reviews, and they don’t even know the tacos are guilt-free or low calorie.
We should all strive to be strong, mentally and physically. If you’re not seeing results in strength or muscle size, there’s four possible reasons why that is.
- You’re doing the same thing all the time. If you do the same exercises for more than 4-6 weeks, you won’t get stronger because that’s when results plateau. While you’ll become more efficient at those exercises, since practice is what makes it easier, it won’t make you stronger. Make sure to switch up your workouts every month; it’s a lot more fun to try something different.
- You’re working each muscle group once a week. While you may become better at whatever exercises you do over time, muscle maintenance is for weekly workouts. If you want muscle growth, you need to work all muscles at least twice a week.
- You’re not getting enough nutrients. Muscles need protein and various nutrients to grow. You also need a variety of nutrients for energy and overall health. If you’re eating chips, crackers, cookies, and chicken, you’re not going to see the gains you’d like if you were eating vegetables, a variety of lean proteins, fruit, with a sprinkling of seeds and nuts.
- You’re not sleeping enough. The majority of muscle repair takes place at night, so don’t skimp on sleep!
Photo: me at World Gym, now TG in Pacific Beach.
These dairy-free & nut-free popsicles are creamy, with a hint of chocolate and coffee liquor, with a touch of sweetness.
- 1 large ripe banana, broken into six chunks
- ¾ cup Pacific oat milk, original
- 1 ounce Kaluah
- 1 T cocoa powder, level
- 1 scoop Now egg white protein powder
Place ingredients in the order above in a small blender cup, and mix until fully incorporated. Pour into three popsicle molds and freeze for 12 hours. Keep frozen.
Nutrition per popsicle: Calories 142 Carbs 22 Fat 1 gram Protein 7 grams
*Flavor may change if using brands not listed above.
Having a friend to exercise with to motivate you to workout, and to be accountable, is an incredible gift, but, what if you’re the one that wants to work out, and your friend doesn’t want to? What if that friend that doesn’t like to exercise dreads it, and demotivates you; or that friend is frequently late, cutting your workout short. Or maybe your workout buddy finds excuses not to exercise and cancels. In those instances, working out with your friend is a really bad idea, because you’re not exercising enough and/or not hard enough.
Another reason not to exercise with your friend, is that it’s really rare to have a buddy who has exactly the same goals, strength and flexibly as you do. You might really like some exercises and she may hate those. She may have knee issues and won’t do plyometrics, but you want to do box jumps. Or, maybe she pushes you too hard, or makes you lift too much weight, which can lead to injury; that’s not good either.
I’ve trained husbands and wives, moms and daughters, and best friends, and the problem is always that one person is stronger than the other, which means, that I, as their personal trainer, has to pay more attention to one person more than the other, and some exercises may not be hard enough for the client that is more fit. So the client that is weaker gets more attention, which isn’t fair to the stronger client; I do this to make sure no one gets hurt.
When I’m training two people, it’s a challenge, and limiting, since I have to find two exercise machines that are close to each other (and available, which can be hard when the gym is busy), and an area large enough that will accommodate the three of us, and those exercises have to be ones that both people can do.
The other problem is that when one person cannot make the training appointment, the other person typically cancels the training session completely, either because they don’t want to pay the full cost of personalized training, or because they are so used to training with their partner, they don’t workout at all.
The bottom line is that, if your workout partner motivates you, you get along, your schedules work perfectly together, you enjoy your sessions more, and your exercises are more effective and you get more done, then your workout buddy is a keeper. But if your exercise partner is causing you to miss sessions, cuts sessions short, pushes you too hard, picks on you, stresses you out, dictates all the exercises, or is holding you back from getting stronger, it’s better to workout on your own.
Everyone knows to avoid fatty animal meat; one of the reasons is due to it’s high cholesterol, but vegan alternatives can be bad for our health too.
Lots of vegan products are made with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients, chemicals (usually disguised as flavors), sugar, and various flours and oils.
What’s growing in popularity due to it’s yummy taste is the Impossible Burger. The ingredients should stop you from trying it though:
Impossible Burger ingredients: water, sunflower oil, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors (numerous chemicals), leghemoglobin (GMO soy), yeast extract, salt, konjac gum, xanthan gum, (GMO) soy protein isolate, synthetic vitamins, and methylcellulose (1).
That’s a lot of stuff! There’s GMO ingredients, and the problem with GMO foods is that GMO crops use pesticides that have proven to cause cancer and other dangerous problems for humans.
The Impossible Burger also has more fat and carbs, is high in salt, has less protein, but more fiber than beef burgers (1). I make turkey burgers at home with herbs and spices, without fillers, or soy. If you want a vegan burger, and don’t want to eat soy, GMO or potentially dangerous chemicals from entering your system, make a vegan burger from scratch. The commercial food industry has no interest in you, only your money.
- Source: “What is the Impossible Burger, and is it healthy?” Healthline. 2019. Apr. 25. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/impossible-burger?utm_source=Sailthru%20Email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=authoritynutrition&utm_content=2019-04-25&apid=#bottom-line
I used to put spirulina powder, for its many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; in my fruit smoothies, and I even made a raw vegan spirulina pie at one point, but I stopped consuming this algae because the taste was too strong.
I’m glad I stopped putting this dark green powder in my food because it’s been shown to be contaminated with toxins, heavy metals, bacteria, and can harm the liver (1).
- Source: “What are the side effects and dangers of Spirulina.” Healthline. 2019. Jun 4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/spirulina-side-effects?slot_pos=article_1&utm_source=Sailthru%20Email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=authoritynutrition&utm_content=2019-06-14&apid=#bottom-line
There’s no foods that will guarantee fat loss, but these three foods fill me up, and when I add them to my diet consistently, I lose body fat, and it’s typically belly fat.
When I’m really hungry, I tend to grab nuts, eat nut butter, tortilla chips, or a bar, but every time I do this, my weight creeps up. Our bodies have a set weight point that it likes to be at, so the hunger signal turns on when we try to lower our calorie intake. You can lower that set point, but it’s going to be challenging initially.
When I want to lose bodyfat, but I’m really hungry, even though I’ve eaten my quota of calories for the day, I do one or all of the following:
- Down a zero calorie tea blended (put in your blender) with ice, 16 oz. of cold filtered water, and 1 tablespoon of sweetened vanilla protein powder. This fills me up very quickly (don’t sip it, drink it fast), and it’s yummy too.
- Eat broccoli, roasted cauliflower, snap peas, or green beans. Either add one or more of these items to some or most of your meals, or snack on them when cravings kick in. Make sure to cook them without butter, cream, or cheese, and if using olive oil, use just a small amount. Add salt and spices.
- Drink water. Most people don’t drink enough water and walk around dehydrated, which is why they don’t feel good. Your body may confuse dehydration with hunger. Our bodies are 60% water so we typically need to drink one or more percent of our weight in liquid ounces a day. So if you weigh 125 pounds, you should drink at least 125 ounces of water each day. Once you grab water instead of extra food, you’ll be able to drink the amount of water your body needs.