“What can I eat on the keto diet?!”

When you nearly eliminate an entire macronutrient—in the case of keto, it’s carbohydrates—getting the right balance of nutrition becomes a bit more challenging.

Folks who are interested in trying keto often wonder:

  • Can I still eat vegetables? If so, which ones?
  • Is fruit completely off-limits? How about grains?
  • What about foods that have a small amount of carbohydrates, like cheese?
  • Is bacon a protein or a fat? How often can I eat it?
  • Is butter healthy? How much can I have?!

That’s why we created this handy keto food list for people who want to give it a go.

Warning: You might notice that this infographic is a bit different from other keto guides you’ve seen.

We’re not going to tell you that some foods are completely off limits. That’s just not our style. Instead, we’ve sorted foods typically thought of as “no-no’s” on the keto diet into an “eat less” bucket.

By thinking of foods on a continuum from “eat more” to “eat less,” you’ll be able to follow the keto diet and still include a range of nutritious foods. (Although, with severely restrictive diets like keto, we always recommend working with a medical practitioner, especially if you plan to follow the diet long-term.)

Use our continuums to make keto food choices that are “just a little bit better,” whether you’re browsing the grocery store aisles, cooking a homemade meal, or ordering from a menu.

Plus, learn how to:

  • Incorporate a mix of keto-friendly proteins, vegetables, and fats to create nutritious meals
  • Strategically improve your food choices—based on what you eat right now—to feel, move, and look better.
  • Customize your intake for your individual lifestyle, goals, and (of course) taste buds.

As a bonus, we’ve provided space to create your own personal keto food list on a continuum. That way, you can build a delicious menu that’s right for you—no headaches required.

Download this infographic for your tablet or printer and use the step-by-step process to decide which foods match your (or your clients’) keto goals.

Download the tablet or printer version of this infographic to discover your own personal keto food list (or, if you’re a coach, to help your clients do the same).

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If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post ‘What should I eat?!’ Our 3-step guide for choosing the best keto foods for YOU. [Infographic] appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

The Basics | History | Carb Allowances | Benefits | Cons | How to Coach | Food List

Many of us know at least one person—if not several—who swear by keto.

We also know plenty who’ve said “it was awful.”

Which makes it sound a lot like… ALL DIETS.

So here’s the only question that matters:

Is the keto diet right for you?

And if you’re a coach, should you recommend it to your clients?

In this article, we’ll help you figure it out.

How? By helping you understand what the keto diet is, where it came from, and what all the hype is about. You’ll learn the pros and cons so you can weigh whether it makes sense for you (or your clients).

Plus, we’ll connect you to a food list that shows you what and how much to eat.

And then we’ll take you out to dinner… okay, that’s obviously going too far. (We don’t even know each other yet!)

But the rest of it? We’ve got you covered.

Keto diet basics

By keeping carbohydrates very low, ketogenic diets (or keto for short) trigger your body to use ketones—instead of glucose—as its primary fuel source.

To better understand what that means, we need to go into a little biology.

Human bodies require a constant supply of energy, primarily in the form of glucose. You get that glucose, mostly, from eating carbohydrates.

So what happens if you don’t eat carbohydrates?

Ketosis and gluconeogenesis, to the rescue.

Our bodies house an elegant system of safety nets that have gotten us through the hard times of human history. (Think: famines, hunting things that sometimes got away, no vending machines…)

If food isn’t immediately available, our bodies turn to stored glucose—called glycogen—mostly found in liver and muscle cells.

We have enough glycogen to provide a couple of days worth of glucose. But once glycogen is depleted, and food is still scarce, our nerve, brain, and blood cells start to get, well, hangry.

Cue the back-up systems:

▶ Ketosis turns on when overall calories or carbohydrates are very low. This might happen when fasting, exercising intensely for a long duration, sleeping, and (you guessed it) following the keto diet. Our liver breaks down fat to create ketones, which can feed cells in lieu of glucose. (Although most cells prefer glucose over ketones any day, brain, nerve, and blood cells are particularly picky about getting energy from glucose.)

▶ Gluconeogenesis is your body’s way of making glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, like fats and proteins. These fats and proteins can come from the diet, or they can come from stored fat, muscle tissue, or organ tissue.

Ketosis and gluconeogenesis are normal responses to glucose depletion.

But how did ketosis become a central feature of a trendy diet?

The keto diet wasn’t developed for weight loss.

It was developed to treat epilepsy.

Physicians understood that fasting helped to reduce seizures. But they obviously couldn’t tell patients to fast indefinitely.

The keto diet, however, mimics fasting by triggering ketosis.

It’s not clear why ketosis reduces seizure frequency. It may be that manipulating macronutrients has an effect on neurotransmitters and brain metabolism.1 There are many theories, but the truth is, no one knows for sure.

Eventually, the fitness industry discovered the keto diet. And naturally they thought, “If the keto diet mimics fasting, this must be the key to getting totally cut, while still eating cheese!”

(As with most magic bullets, the reality is more complicated, and not particularly magical. But more on that later.)

Carbs: How low are we talking, exactly?

Generally: The ketogenic diet consists of about 70-90% calories from fat. As a result, the remaining 10-30% of calories will come from a mix of carbohydrates and protein combined.

Why the ranges? Because there are several keto and low-carb diet variants.

Diet Protein % Carb % Fat % Description
Original keto 6% 4% 90% Designed to induce and maintain ketosis, as a dietary intervention for epilepsy.
Popular keto 20% 5-10% 70-75% A more balanced and sustainable version of the original keto diet, as modified by popular diet culture. (Usually intended for weight loss.)
Performance keto 30% 5-10% 60-65% Used to support athletic performance and muscle development.
Low carb ~30% 20% 50% Carbs are lower than a typical balanced macronutrient diet, but the exact ranges can vary. All keto diets are low carb, but low carb doesn’t necessarily mean keto.

Most Americans consume a moderate- to high-carb diet, getting just under half of all their calories from carbs.2

(Oh, the joy of bottomless noodle bowls.)

Despite this, some people love the keto diet. They say they’re not as hungry, and that their energy feels stable.

Meanwhile, others feel miserable. Their energy or athletic performance suffers. They develop digestive problems. And heck, they just miss pizza and fresh, in-season peaches.

In fact, the keto diet can be so tough to follow that even people with epilepsy often prefer medication to the diet.

Ketogenic diet benefits

People who have success with the ketogenic diet (understandably) want to toot the keto horn of glory extra loud.

“On what other diet can you eat butter?! And cream??!”

And they’re not wrong. A strict ketogenic diet offers several benefits.3

Benefit #1: The keto diet may help you lose weight faster (initially).

It’s true: People who do keto seem to lose slightly more weight more quickly than people who do other diets.4 5 6 7

This relatively quick drop on the scale can be super motivating.

“Yay! It’s working!”

Unfortunately, that initial drop in body weight has more to do with water loss than fat loss.

Here’s how that works:

When you stop eating carbs, your body’s carbohydrate stores—a.k.a. glycogen—quickly get used up. Glycogen holds a lot of water, so when glycogen drops, water weight does too.

Your liver and the muscles are the main storehouses of glycogen. The bigger your liver and/or muscles are, the more glycogen they can hold.

That’s why those huge, brawny MMA fighters can drop 15-20 pounds before a weigh-in, just by manipulating carbs (and usually salt).

But if you analyze the body composition of those water-manipulated athletes—or an early keto dieter—you’ll see that their body fat percentage probably hasn’t changed much.

In other words:

Manipulating body water will change weight mass, but not fat mass. You’re not actually leaner, you’ve just lost water.

For better or worse, that early scale drop can make people feel like they’re moving in the right direction, which can inspire them to more positive actions.

Benefit #2: The keto diet may help suppress your appetite.

When someone restricts calories, they often experience rebound hunger that makes that lower-calorie diet hard to follow consistently.

But one study showed that when people go on a calorie-restricted, keto-style diet, they experience less of this compensatory hunger.3 They may even spontaneously consume fewer calories, other research has found.8

Why might this happen?

Reduced food options can lead to something called “sensory-specific satiety.” Meaning, when people eat the same foods all the time, those foods become less appealing.9

Also, liquid calories—soda, juice, even milk—are generally off-limits on the keto diet, so people usually consume a greater proportion of calories from solid foods, which are more filling.10 11 12

Lastly, higher blood levels of ketones—which rise when carbs are restricted—may help to suppress appetite.13 14 15

Benefit #3: The keto diet might feel psychologically freeing (for some).

With keto, there’s not a lot of negotiation. The rules are pretty strict: You can eat this, but not that.

While many people find keto too constraining, others actually like the rules and clarity.

It means less options, and therefore less decision-making. This can free up a lot of mental space, which makes a diet (at least psychologically) easier to follow.

Benefit #4: The keto diet may help improve blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.

The keto diet may improve hemoglobin A1c (a marker of average blood sugar levels) in people with type 2 diabetes16 17 and/or metabolic disease.18

But the benefits of keto on cholesterol and triglycerides—two other markers related to metabolic disease—aren’t as clear.

Some research shows the diet supports normal blood lipid levels—raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.19 20 21 However, other research shows it can raise LDL cholesterol22, which is typically a risk factor for chronic disease.

So, while keto may help correct metabolic disease for some—including better cholesterol profiles and blood sugar regulation—it can worsen cholesterol and other markers for chronic disease for others.

Confusing, right?

Unfortunately, that’s where nutrition research is limited, and individual variability makes things, well, kind of unpredictable.

We do know, however, that fat loss can help normalize cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar regulation.23

In other words, if the keto diet is helping you lose weight, and you’re maintaining a regular movement routine and eating as many colorful veggies as possible, you’re probably on the right track. If you’re worried about cholesterol, you can work with your doctor to check your levels.

Ketogenic diet cons

Just as some people feel super on the keto diet, others feel like… crap.

They’re draggy and bloated, and are tormented by dreams of sprinting baguettes that remain just out of reach. From a nutritional standpoint, a long-term, strict keto diet also has some drawbacks.

Con #1: It’s lonely being the person who can never eat bread, pasta, or heck, even an apple.

It seems like so many of life’s celebratory moments revolve around carbs.

Cake for birthdays. Beer on Fridays after work. Sharing a cookie with your niece. Your aunt’s famous dumpling soup.

All of that can make the ketogenic diet feel a little… isolating.

And if there’s anything we know about diets, it’s that they only work so long as you can stick to them.

Which brings us to our next point.

Con #2: The keto diet is really hard to stick to long term.

Many keto dieters start adding more carbs over time—and this includes people who are trying to follow keto strictly, long-term research (trials lasting over six months) shows.

By a year’s mark, most keto dieters have gone from less than 50 grams to over 100 grams of carbs per day.24 25

That’s roughly the combined amount of carbohydrate in a bowl of cereal, a banana, a bagel, and a serving of rice. This means about 16 to 22 percent of their daily calories are coming from carbohydrates (assuming a 1800- to 2400- Calorie diet). By any measure, these intakes aren’t keto.

Luckily many people can experience the benefits of keto (especially improved blood sugar) without strictly following keto or staying in ketosis.26

Con #3: The keto diet might back-up your bowel movements.

The keto diet—which reduces or eliminates fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes—tends to be extremely low in soluble and insoluble fiber. (This is especially true in the original version of the keto diet.)

Poop frequency is correlated with eating fiber-rich plants, as well as drinking fluids (alcohol excluded).27

So, as you might imagine, people on the keto diet may find they’re hitting the loo for a number two a little less frequently.

It also means that the healthy bacteria in your gut—whose primary food source is soluble fiber—isn’t getting fed. Indeed, adherents of the ketogenic diet show a decreased amount and diversity of beneficial intestinal bacteria.28 29

Two possible workarounds to this issue: a fiber supplement and possibly a probiotic supplement. (To learn more about the pros and cons of probiotics, check out: Probiotics: Do they really work?)

Con #4: A keto dietary pattern might increase your risk for a variety of diseases.

In addition to being low in fiber, a strict keto diet backs colorful fruits and vegetables, and is high in fat, including saturated fat.

Here’s why that kind of dietary pattern can lead to problems:

▶ Fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake is protective against a range of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and overall mortality.30 31 32

▶ Meanwhile, excess saturated fat consumption is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease33 and may promote fatty liver disease.34 (To find out how much saturated fat is safe to eat, check out: Saturated fat: Is it good or bad for you?)

But you don’t have to do keto to follow this kind of dietary pattern.

The Standard American Diet—often called the SAD diet—is similarly low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables, and high in saturated fats. Unlike keto, it’s also high in refined carbohydrates.

And, as you may have guessed, the SAD diet is also linked to a range of chronic diseases.35

These dietary patterns—whether via keto diet or SAD—aren’t likely to serve our long-term health.

The keto flu: Yucky, but not contagious

As your body switches from burning glucose to burning ketone bodies for energy, flu-like symptoms—like drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, low appetite, and abdominal pain—can pop up.

Some people also experience concentration issues, trouble sleeping, and irritability or low mood.

This doesn’t happen to everyone, and it’s usually over in a week.

To ease the symptoms, stay hydrated, rest when you can, and make sure you’re getting enough calories to meet your energy needs (even if most of those calories won’t come from carbs).

If symptoms of fatigue, low appetite, or dizziness become severe or persist for more than a week, discontinue the diet and consult your medical doctor.

Con #5: The keto diet is missing some key nutrients.

In order to reduce carbs, the keto diet restricts or eliminates grains, legumes, and many vegetables. People can eat some non-starchy vegetables (like leafy greens, cucumber, and celery), but in limited amounts. For fruit you’re looking at a small apple or one handful of berries.

If you’re doing a strict version of the diet—like the original keto diet—protein foods are also relatively sparse. (Popular and performance keto diets allow more protein, so this isn’t a problem in these versions.)

Along with fiber and (potentially) protein, the keto diet tends to be deficient in these vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium

If you’re doing keto long term, consider supplementing with a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Can you use the keto diet to manage medical conditions?

As mentioned, there’s evidence that the keto diet (or actually most low-carb diets) can improve the health status of those with type 2 diabetes and/or metabolic disease.17 18 19

However, if you’re a coach, remember that unless you’re specifically qualified to do so, you can’t directly treat a medical condition like diabetes or high cholesterol.

If your client is diagnosed with one of these conditions and you think a low-carb or ketogenic diet might help, work with your client’s doctor.

Alternatively, you can also encourage your client to seek out a professional specifically dedicated to this area. In Canada, look for a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). In the US, look for a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). These professionals are qualified to treat and manage diabetes through a combination of diet, lifestyle modifications, and if needed, medications prescribed by the individual’s doctor.

Who shouldn’t do keto

While many healthy adults can try a ketogenic diet without issues, the diet’s a hard “no” for some.

Here are a few of those cautionary groups:

Pregnant women

Putting pregnant humans on a restricted diet doesn’t tend to get a pass from the ethics board, so most of the research we have on keto during pregnancy is on rats or mice.

And the rodent data is pretty grim: Ketogenic-style diets fed to pregnant rats altered organ growth in embryos,36 or dramatically increased the chances of pups dying within a week of birth.37

Competitive athletes

Getting the edge over an opponent may mean racing fractions of a second faster or lifting fractions of a pound more. Athletes and coaches know: Every advantage (however slight) counts.

And based on the most compelling research, a severely low carb diet can impair performance as much as eight percent.38 39

People with type 1 diabetes

Although the keto diet (and low carb diets in general) can be helpful for managing type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes is a whole different ball game.

People with type 1 diabetes can’t make insulin. You can think of insulin as a key that lets sugar from the blood into the cell, where it can be used for energy.

Without insulin, sugar can’t enter the cell. It hangs out in the blood, causing damage to tissues and organs. If blood sugar builds up enough, it creates a life-threatening state called ketoacidosis.

Although the keto diet can lower blood sugar coming from dietary sources, potentially reducing the amount of insulin someone needs to take, people with type 1 diabetes will always need medication.

That’s because blood sugar can rise due to reasons other than carbohydrate consumption. (For example, stress can raise blood sugar.)

And, although diet and exercise can be excellent complementary therapies for type 1 diabetes, they too must be tightly controlled and monitored. Manipulating carbohydrate intake (or even engaging in extreme exercise) can be risky, and definitely requires medical supervision.

Ketosis and ketoacidosis: Not the same thing

They sound similar: They share the prefix keto-, because they both involve ketone production.

But ketosis and ketoacidosis are very different things.

Ketoacidosis—often called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)—is a life-threatening occurrence that happens when both ketones and blood sugar get dangerously high, causing the blood to become very acidic.

Ketoacidosis can occur in people with type 1 diabetes if they don’t get enough insulin, or if insulin isn’t working well due to illness, infection, pregnancy, stress, or too much dietary sugar.

Ketosis is a normal response to low blood sugar. When glucose is depleted, the body turns to fat for energy, which releases ketones. Ketosis is not an emergency, nor is it harmful.

In summary:

Ketoacidosis (high blood sugar and high ketones) = Medical emergency

vs.

Ketosis (low blood sugar and ketone production) = Normal response to low blood sugar

People with a history of disordered eating

It can be risky to play with restrictive diets if you—or your client—has dealt (or deals) with disordered eating, even if the interest in the diet isn’t directly related to weight control.

Instead, people struggling with disordered thoughts, feelings, and behaviors around food can work on developing appetite awareness and mindful eating, as well as learn to detach food choices from self-worth, success, or failure.

How to coach clients

To do a ketogenic diet well, it takes strategy and planning.

That’s where coaches come in.

Here are a few big-picture tips to help your clients do a keto diet in the healthiest way possible.

1. Explore and experiment.

If your client is determined to try keto, don’t give them a lecture about potential nutrient deficiencies and the perils of bacon.

That’ll just alienate them—and likely prompt them to find another coach who will coach them through a keto diet.

Respect your client’s desires and perspectives, even if you disagree with them.

If a client comes to you pumped to keto their butt off (and doesn’t fall into one of the aforementioned no-no groups), here’s a great line to use:

“Let’s try it!”

Get curious about their attraction to the diet, and their ability to execute it.

Do they have the time (and interest) to prepare special meals, negotiate social eating, and tally grams of carbs? Can they afford almond flour-everything?

Help them know what to expect, but cultivate a sense of discovery, too.

2. Evaluate how things are going.

As your client progresses, continually check in with one of our favorite coaching questions: “How’s that working for you?”

(We actually created a quiz to help you—or clients—figure this out: Best diet quiz: How’s that diet REALLY working for you?)

Be honest about the feedback: What’s worked well? What hasn’t?

Maybe the diet is making them feel lethargic and moody, or they miss eating what their family is having. Or maybe it’s going great, and they can’t wait until their next filet of macadamia nut-crusted salmon with a side of cloud bread.

Capitalize on what’s going well, and help your client do more of that. For the stuff that’s not working so well, troubleshoot with your client on how to make it easier, or drop it and move on.

The keto diet works best in very specific populations, and if your client doesn’t fall into one of them, let them know it’s not a personal failure.

3. Help clients navigate social eating.

For clients, sometimes getting healthier does mean making different choices from their loved ones, and having awkward (but important) discussions about health priorities.

However, when their diet is markedly and consistently different from the people around them, it can be a little isolating.

So encourage clients to participate in communal eating, because the alternative means missing out on a rich part of life—connection to others.

To make that happen, help clients brainstorm ways to be social while remaining on keto. You might suggest that clients:

  • Make keto-friendly dishes to bring to parties.
  • Eat keto-friendly foods that overlap with their family’s nutritional needs.
  • Decide if and when they want to make exceptions to their diet (Christmas dinner, their daughter’s birthday, a foodie weekend trip with friends).

4. Supplement strategically.

People following a strict keto diet long term should work with a qualified nutritional or medical consultant to help prevent and manage any deficiencies.

Focusing on specific nutrient-dense foods (e.g. colorful, non-starchy vegetables, Brazil nuts, omega 3-rich fatty fish, and small portions of berries) can help fill nutritional gaps.

But often, supplements—like fiber or specific vitamins or minerals—will be part of a keto dieter’s long-term health protocol.

5. Stay within your scope of practice, and refer out as needed.

Unless you’re licensed for medical nutrition therapy, you’re not authorized to prescribe any type of diet for medical conditions.

Don’t tell your client that they should go on a keto diet to cure their diabetes or their epilepsy.

Also, the keto diet can alter certain cardiovascular markers—LDL and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides—which only a doctor can interpret and monitor.

A nutrition coach can help with meal planning, keeping a food journal that tracks the correlation between diet and symptoms, as well as overall support and accountability.

The point is: You can play a tremendously important role in helping clients stick to a diet, just do it within your scope of practice.

The keto diet plan: What to eat

The keto diet is largely composed of fat—but that doesn’t mean eating bacon and dark chocolate indiscriminately.

Food quality and nutrient density still matter.

While many people following a strict ketogenic diet will still need to supplement, they can still get a good range of nutrients from:

  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Berries
  • Occasional other fruits and starchy vegetables in small portions
  • Omega 3-rich seafood
  • Poultry and eggs
  • Pastured meats
  • Quality whole food fat sources like avocado, nuts, seeds, egg yolks, coconut, and olives

For a complete visual guide, use our keto diet food list infographic.

And to find out just how much protein, carbs, fat you should eat on the keto diet, plug your info into our macros calculator. (It’s FREE and gives you a customized plan based on your diet preferences and goals.)

As you use these resources, please keep in mind: There is no one-size-fits-all keto diet.

Our list will help you focus on minimally-processed whole foods while also prioritizing overall nutrient intake balance as much as possible.

If you’re a coach, you may have clients who follow different keto diets—and that’s okay. The important part: helping them stay successful and healthy on whatever diet (or no-diet) they choose.

The truth is, some people do feel and do better on a ketogenic diet.

Meanwhile, others thrive on a higher carb diet.

For better or worse: There’s no one diet that’s a magic bullet for everyone.

As a human species, we’re diverse. And that’s actually worth celebrating.

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17. Westman, Eric C.; Tondt, Justin; Maguire, Emily; Yancy, William S. (15 September 2018). “Implementing a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to manage type 2 diabetes mellitus”. Expert Review of Endocrinology & Metabolism. 13 (5): 263–272. doi:10.1080/17446651.2018.1523713. PMID 30289048. S2CID 52920398.

18. Gershuni, Victoria M., Stephanie L. Yan, and Valentina Medici. 2018. “Nutritional Ketosis for Weight Management and Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome.” Current Nutrition Reports 7 (3): 97–106.

19. Dashti, Hussein M., Naji S. Al-Zaid, Thazhumpal C. Mathew, Mahdi Al-Mousawi, Hussain Talib, Sami K. Asfar, and Abdulla I. Behbahani. 2006. “Long Term Effects of Ketogenic Diet in Obese Subjects with High Cholesterol Level.” Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry 286 (1-2): 1–9.

20. Yancy, William S., Jr, Maren K. Olsen, John R. Guyton, Ronna P. Bakst, and Eric C. Westman. 2004. “A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a Low-Fat Diet to Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia: A Randomized, Controlled Trial.” Annals of Internal Medicine 140 (10): 769–77.

21. Sharman, Matthew J., William J. Kraemer, Dawn M. Love, Neva G. Avery, Ana L. Gómez, Timothy P. Scheett, and Jeff S. Volek. 2002. “A Ketogenic Diet Favorably Affects Serum Biomarkers for Cardiovascular Disease in Normal-Weight Men.” The Journal of Nutrition 132 (7): 1879–85.

22. Shilpa, Joshi, and Viswanathan Mohan. 2018. “Ketogenic Diets: Boon or Bane?” The Indian Journal of Medical Research 148 (3): 251–53.

23. Ge, Long, Behnam Sadeghirad, Geoff D. C. Ball, Bruno R. da Costa, Christine L. Hitchcock, Anton Svendrovski, Ruhi Kiflen, et al. 2020. “Comparison of Dietary Macronutrient Patterns of 14 Popular Named Dietary Programmes for Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factor Reduction in Adults: Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis of Randomised Trials.” BMJ 369 (April): m696.

24. Huntriss, Rosemary, Malcolm Campbell, and Carol Bedwell. 2018. “The Interpretation and Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72 (3): 311–25.

25. Wyk, H. J. van, R. E. Davis, and J. S. Davies. 2016. “A Critical Review of Low-Carbohydrate Diets in People with Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetic Medicine: A Journal of the British Diabetic Association 33 (2): 148–57.

26. Chen, Chin-Ying, Wei-Sheng Huang, Hui-Chuen Chen, Chin-Hao Chang, Long-Teng Lee, Heng-Shuen Chen, Yow-Der Kang, et al. 2020. “Effect of a 90 G/day Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Glycaemic Control, Small, Dense Low-Density Lipoprotein and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in Type 2 Diabetic Patients: An 18-Month Randomised Controlled Trial.” PloS One 15 (10): e0240158.

27. Sanjoaquin, Miguel A., Paul N. Appleby, Elizabeth A. Spencer, and Timothy J. Key. 2004. “Nutrition and Lifestyle in Relation to Bowel Movement Frequency: A Cross-Sectional Study of 20630 Men and Women in EPIC-Oxford.” Public Health Nutrition 7 (1): 77–83.

28. Paoli, Antonio, Laura Mancin, Antonino Bianco, Ewan Thomas, João Felipe Mota, and Fabio Piccini. 2019. “Ketogenic Diet and Microbiota: Friends or Enemies?” Genes 10 (7). https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10070534.

29. Ang, Qi Yan, Margaret Alexander, John C. Newman, Yuan Tian, Jingwei Cai, Vaibhav Upadhyay, Jessie A. Turnbaugh, et al. 2020. “Ketogenic Diets Alter the Gut Microbiome Resulting in Decreased Intestinal Th17 Cells.” Cell 181 (6): 1263–75.e16.

30. Aune, Dagfinn, Edward Giovannucci, Paolo Boffetta, Lars T. Fadnes, Nana Keum, Teresa Norat, Darren C. Greenwood, Elio Riboli, Lars J. Vatten, and Serena Tonstad. 2017. “Fruit and Vegetable Intake and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Total Cancer and All-Cause Mortality-a Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies.” International Journal of Epidemiology 46 (3): 1029–56.

31. Yip, Cynthia Sau Chun, Wendy Chan, and Richard Fielding. 2019. “The Associations of Fruit and Vegetable Intakes with Burden of Diseases: A Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 119 (3): 464–81.

32. Wang, Ping-Yu, Jun-Chao Fang, Zong-Hua Gao, Can Zhang, and Shu-Yang Xie. 2016. “Higher Intake of Fruits, Vegetables or Their Fiber Reduces the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Diabetes Investigation 7 (1): 56–69.

33. “WHO | Effects of Saturated Fatty Acids on Serum Lipids and Lipoproteins: A Systematic Review and Regression Analysis.” 2016, August. https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/nutrientrequirements/sfa_systematic_review/en/.

34. Rosqvist, Fredrik, Joel Kullberg, Marcus Ståhlman, Jonathan Cedernaes, Kerstin Heurling, Hans-Erik Johansson, David Iggman, et al. 2019. “Overeating Saturated Fat Promotes Fatty Liver and Ceramides Compared With Polyunsaturated Fat: A Randomized Trial.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 104 (12): 6207–19.

35. Micha, Renata, Jose L. Peñalvo, Frederick Cudhea, Fumiaki Imamura, Colin D. Rehm, and Dariush Mozaffarian. 2017. “Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States.” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 317 (9): 912–24.

36. Sussman, Dafna, Matthijs van Eede, Michael D. Wong, Susan Lee Adamson, and Mark Henkelman. 2013. “Effects of a Ketogenic Diet during Pregnancy on Embryonic Growth in the Mouse.” BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 13 (May): 109.

37. Koski, K. G., and F. W. Hill. 1986. “Effect of Low Carbohydrate Diets during Pregnancy on Parturition and Postnatal Survival of the Newborn Rat Pup.” The Journal of Nutrition 116 (10): 1938–48.

38. Burke LM, Ross ML, Garvican-Lewis LA, Welvaert M, Heikura IA, Forbes SG, et al. Low carbohydrate, high fat diet impairs exercise economy and negates the performance benefit from intensified training in elite race walkers. J Physiol. 2017 May 1;595(9):2785–807.

39. Burke LM, Whitfield J, Heikura IA, Ross MLR, Tee N, Forbes SF, et al. Adaptation to a low carbohydrate high fat diet is rapid but impairs endurance exercise metabolism and performance despite enhanced glycogen availability. J Physiol. 2020 Jul 22.

40. Rodriguez, Nancy R., Nancy M. DiMarco, Susie Langley, American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. 2009. “Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 109 (3): 509–27.

41. Jenner, Sarah L., Georgina L. Buckley, Regina Belski, Brooke L. Devlin, and Adrienne K. Forsyth. 2019. “Dietary Intakes of Professional and Semi-Professional Team Sport Athletes Do Not Meet Sport Nutrition Recommendations-A Systematic Literature Review.” Nutrients 11 (5). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11051160.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post The Keto diet plan: Your complete how-to guide appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Guy Prihar is like a lot of folks who come to Precision Nutrition for help: really into science, and always up for a deep dive.

In 2016, then in his mid 40s, Prihar started to feel super sluggish in the afternoons. It got to the point that his energy dips were interfering with his work as a legal professional.

He’d always taken pretty good care of his health and fitness. So he wondered: ‘What’s going on? What am I missing? Is it a nutrition thing?’

His questions led him down a rabbit hole of nutrition information. He experimented with low-carb and keto diets, which helped with his initial energy slumps.

“The more I learned, the more curious I got,” he explains.  “After a while I decided I wanted more of my own information. I didn’t just want to rely on what people on the internet were saying.”

And that’s how he ended up taking the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification—with no plans of ever becoming a professional nutrition coach.

Curious about Prihar’s experience, we asked:

Here’s what Prihar had to say.

Precision Nutriton Grad and Nutriton Coach, Guy Prihar

Guy Prihar had important questions about his diet, so he got Precision Nutrition Certified and became his own expert coach.

1. What made you choose the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification?

While Prihar searched for ways to learn about nutrition, he started hearing good things about PN. And he noticed that a lot of the online coaches he respected were PN Certified.

So he did a little digging.

“I heard that Precision Nutrition was really up to date on the latest research, the actual published data. And that’s what I wanted,” Prihar says.

“I wanted to understand how things work, and see the latest research. That’s what drew me to PN.”

2. Why a certification? Why not just learn on the internet for free?

Some people in Prihar’s situation would just head to the internet.

And that’s where Prihar started too. He got results from keto and low-carb, and the online groups he participated in.

But after a year, he wanted more.

It wasn’t that he necessarily wanted to make big changes to his own health and fitness. It was mostly that he wanted to learn.

He wanted to learn things for himself, from a reliable source.

And he didn’t want to waste his time on what he calls “bro science.”

He explains: “Suppose someone achieves a great body transformation for themselves. Then they present some sort of workout routine or nutrition as, ‘Here’s what I did. You should do this’. I never buy into that stuff, because I don’t necessarily trust someone’s self reporting. I want to actually see the data, and understand how things work.”

Plus, Prihar wanted a trusted source to bring everything together for him in one place, rather than having to try to piece it all together himself.

3. What did you like best about the certification material?

Like many science-minded folks, Prihar is wary of a lot of the information that is passed around these days.

Even more so because, while he now works in the legal field, he actually has a degree in biology.

“I really like that PN points to actual research that I can find if I want,” says Prihar. “I even went and looked at some of the papers PN cited in the textbook.”

He was also pleased to see that the scientific concepts he was familiar with were well-communicated.

“There was some basic information I already knew about, that I’d learned about years ago when studying biology,” he says. “I could tell that PN was doing a good job at presenting that information, which gave me more confidence and trust in the information that was new to me.”

4. Was the Precision Nutrition Certification worth the money?

Prihar’s answer is simple:

“Yes,” he says. “I wanted the most recent information, so for me it was worth it to get that.”

“I really liked reading the material. It was cool to revisit some of the biology that I had learned years ago in university, so I got a kick out of that.”

Unlike his university education, though, the certification got him thinking about the real-life application of the scientific concepts he was learning.

“I especially liked how this was more geared on a macro level,” he says. “Whereas before I would be studying, for example, genetic interactions or protein-protein interactions, PN takes it to a bigger level—like, here’s what we observe on a performance level, on a human level. Here’s what this means for people. I really appreciated that.”

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

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If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post Do you have to be a coach to get Precision Nutrition Certified? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Nehal Solaiman was in her third trimester of pregnancy, and things weren’t going as planned.

As a clinical pharmacist, Solaiman didn’t need a physician to tell her what she already knew: She was gaining weight too quickly.

Thanks a lot, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, she thought.

As it turned out, however, her reduced thyroid output wasn’t the only issue. Solaiman also had gestational diabetes. Higher than normal blood sugar levels were causing her baby to grow too big, too quickly, raising her risk of a wide range of complications.

“I wanted to get healthier, but without dieting or deprivation,” says Solaiman, PN1, who was working at a hospital in Alexandria, Egypt. “I tried to learn everything I could about nutrition so I could help myself.”

Her efforts paid off. By the end of that third trimester, Solaiman no longer had gestational diabetes—and she delivered a healthy baby boy.

The experience inspired her to earn a nutrition certification from Precision Nutrition, then launch a side business as a nutrition coach.

What would drive someone who’s already got a busy career to start a part-time nutrition coaching business? 

We wondered that, too. So we asked.

In this interview, Solaiman shares what she learned from a Precision Nutrition certification that changed everything for her. She also reveals how she landed 10 clients during a global pandemic, and why she gets so much satisfaction from being a nutrition coach.

If you’re thinking of getting a nutrition certification or launching a side hustle as a coach, you’ll find her answers illuminating.

Precision Nutriton Grad and Nutriton Coach, Nehal Solaiman

Nehal Solaiman added a rewarding side business as a nutrition coach to her busy clinical pharmacy career.

++++

What can healthcare professionals learn from a nutrition certification?

After using nutrition to solve her issues with gestational diabetes, Solaiman discovered a new mission: to help women with similar problems.

“I wanted to help them understand their bodies—and learn how to lose weight without deprivation,” she says.

As part of her pharmacy training, Solaiman had studied nutrition and biology. But she didn’t know how to help people change. It was one thing to tell someone that broccoli was good for them. It was another to inspire them to actually eat it.

“As a nutrition coach, I didn’t want to just hand them a paper and send them home,” she says. “I wanted to help them change their behavior: to sleep better, reduce their stress, and overcome emotional eating and other barriers.”

Why is the Precision Nutrition certification a good fit for medical professionals?

Solaiman didn’t need to study the Krebs cycle, metabolic pathways, or even the role of specific vitamins and minerals. She had that down.

What she was missing: the art of coaching. How could she truly help people change—especially with the many barriers that stood in their way? “For me, PN filled a gap,” Solaiman says. “Units 1 and 3 were all about coaching psychology—and I loved that. This was all new for me.”

Precision Nutrition’s emphasis on deep health coaching—helping people to thrive in every part of their lives—sealed the deal.

What would drive a busy pharmacist and mother to launch a side business?

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Solaiman was working in a hospital.

Her son, Younis, was just a year old—and she didn’t watch to catch the virus at work and then bring it home.

So she took a leave of absence.

She launched an online coaching business partly to bring in an income, but it was about a lot more than money for her.

She saw this as a long term career move—and a way to help people change their lives for the better.

How do you grow a coaching business during a pandemic?

It all started organically, when her sister-in-law learned that Solaiman had recently become certified as a nutrition coach.

“She was a nursing mother, and she heard how I’d transformed my health during my pregnancy,” says Solaiman. “She wanted to lose weight—but not by going on a strict ‘eat this, not that’ diet.”

Solaiman set up regular Zoom meetings, along with daily check-ins.

Within three months, her sister-in-law was down more than expected: 30 pounds (14 kilograms). “She told me that she never felt deprived,” Solaiman says. “This new way of eating had become her lifestyle.”

Soon her sister, three other inlaws, and their friends were reaching out to Solaiman for help. Around this time, Solaiman began promoting her coaching services on Instagram.

Roughly six months after landing her first client, she had 10 regulars.

What’s Solaiman’s recipe for success?

Because of COVID, 100 percent of Solaiman’s client interactions take place virtually. She schedules two Zoom sessions a month with each client, and offers daily support with WhatsApp.

“Using WhatsApp, they can message me whenever they need help or are struggling,” she says.

Her clients come to her in search of fat loss. To help them, Solaiman takes a whole-person approach, addressing everything from sleep to stress to emotional eating.

“I try to get to know their whole story: their lifestyle, job, family, stressors, sleep habits, everything,” she says.

She creates personalized programs for each client, using the Precision Nutrition Calculator to teach them how to sort foods into “eat more,” “eat some,” and “eat less” categories. Clients use hand portions—an easy method that helps you quickly gauge how much to eat—to ensure they’re getting enough lean protein and vegetables.

“I also help them to focus on making each meal a little bit better,” Solaiman says. “Rather than completely give up foods they love, they learn how to change how they cook, their portion sizes, or the timing of certain foods.”

Will she return to clinical pharmacy?

Yes, she will, she says.

But she’ll continue to coach nutrition on the side, too.

“Eventually it’s my hope that nutrition coaching is my main job and clinical pharmacy becomes the side job,” she says. “I love to help people. Though I can do that as a pharmacist, I can help even more people as a nutrition coach.”

Solaiman primarily wants to work with women.

“They often don’t know why they’re so tired or why they’re gaining weight,” she says. “I want them to understand that this is more about their health than about their shape. It’s your blood sugar, insulin response, and hormonal balance that really affects how you feel. When someone brings those factors into a healthy range, they also tend to lose weight. But they don’t have to focus on the scale or the numbers in order to do it.”

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post Could a nutrition certification lead to a thriving side business?  appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

‘What can I eat on a fully plant-based diet?!’

Whether you’re new to the world of 100% plant-based eating or an experienced vegan looking for some more variety, it’s natural to wonder about your options.

Carrots and broccoli are a given.

But what about plant-based and vegan “meat” products? Are they worth trying?

Plus, plant-curious folks have been warned it’s hard to get enough protein on a plant-based diet, or that they need to be extra careful to avoid deficiencies. Understandably, they want to make sure they’re meeting their needs.

So often, our clients want to know things like:

  • Is peanut butter a decent source of protein?
  • How often should I eat soy?
  • Since I don’t eat fish, which healthy fats should I incorporate? 
  • Can you eat pasta? (Please say yes.)

Questions like these are why we created this easy-to-use, visual food list for fully plant-based and vegan eaters.

It’s designed to help you make choices that align with your needs, whether you’ve been living fully plant-based for years or are a total newbie.

Fair warning: We’re not going to give you an official fully plant-based food list divided into “approved” and “off-limits” categories. 

That often leads to feelings of frustration and deprivation. And it rarely helps people find an approach they can sustain.

Instead, we’ll show you how to think about plant-based foods on a spectrum from “eat more” to “eat some” to “eat less.”

Use this continuum to make choices that are “just a little bit better,” whether you’re browsing the grocery store aisles, cooking a homemade meal, or ordering from a menu.

As a bonus, we’ve provided space to create your own personal plant-based foods continuum. That way, you can build a delicious menu of healthy options that are right for YOU.

(And if you want a FREE fully plant-based nutrition plan that instantly gives you the amounts of calories, protein, carbs, and fat you need to achieve your goals, check out the Precision Nutrition Calculator.)

Download this infographic for your tablet or printer and use the step-by-step process to decide which foods line up with your (or your clients’) goals.

This fully plant based food list shows you how to choose the best vegan diet foods for your body, goals, preferences, and lifestyle.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post ‘What should I eat?!’ The fully plant-based diet edition. [Infographic] appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

What is Vitamin D? | How Much Do You Need? | Vitamin D and The Sun | Food Sources | Best Supplement | Deficiency | Nutrient Interactions | Vitamin D and Immunity

Vitamin D is starting to sound, well, too good to be true.

Hundreds of research studies suggest that vitamin D can help prevent everything from osteoporosis to autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.1

Doctors are recommending it. Health podcasters are talking about it. Even your mom is nagging you about it.

With all the hype, many people are wondering:

“Should I take vitamin D?”

We have your answers.

In this article, we’ll show you how to figure out if vitamin D supplementation is right for you.

You’ll learn why it’s important for your health, how much you need, and what to know before you think about taking a vitamin D supplement.

Oh, and when you’re done reading, you can send this article to Mom. (And give her our best, will you?)

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that we (mostly) get from the sun, but also from certain foods, and of course, from supplements.

And actually, “vitamin D” isn’t just one single thing. Vitamin D refers to a group of compounds.

Let’s meet the family:

  • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) can be made by plants (such as mushrooms) and yeasts.
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) comes from animal products like fish, egg yolks, and cheese. We also make vitamin D3 on the surface of our skin when we’re exposed to sunlight.
  • Calcifediol (25-hydroxyvitamin D) is the form of vitamin D that’s measured in blood tests. It actually starts out as vitamin D3, but once vitamin D3 enters your bloodstream your liver converts it into calcifediol.
  • Calcitriol (1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D) is the most metabolically active form of vitamin D. It’s created in your kidneys from calcifediol. Unlike its precursor vitamin D3, calcitriol is no longer considered a vitamin: It’s a hormone.

Whoa. So much shape-shifting. Sneaky.

What does vitamin D do?

Recent research suggests that nearly every cell of our body has receptors for vitamin D. Not surprisingly, it has wide-ranging effects in the body.

Vitamin D helps support your:

  • immune system
  • cell function
  • blood sugar regulation
  • bone health
  • calcium absorption and circulation
  • normal blood pressure

(Did you know that most vitamins and minerals have broad health effects? Learn more: All about vitamins and minerals.)

How do I know if I need to supplement?

For many of us, supplementing with vitamin D is a good idea. Especially if we fall into one of the categories of people who are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency. (Take the quiz below to find out if that’s you.)

However, the only way to know for sure if we’re deficient is to get a blood test.

In order to optimize bone health and minimize the risk of disease, people should aim to achieve a blood level of vitamin D of at least 50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL).2 (The “sweet spot” might be closer to around 75 nmol/L, or 30 ng/mL.)

To meet this target, here are the suggested daily vitamin D intakes (from combined food and supplement sources), for different stages of life:

General recommendations for vitamin D intake

Age Recommended daily vitamin D intake
0–12 months 400–1000 IU/d
1–18 years 600–1000 IU/d
18–70+ years 800–2000 IU/d
Pregnant / breastfeeding (>18 years) 800–2000 IU/d

Most healthy adults should be able to maintain an adequate blood level of vitamin D (50–100 nmol/L or 20-40 ng/mL) by getting about 800-1000 IU daily of vitamin D, from both food and supplement sources.

In cases of more severe deficiency, some people may need to take more vitamin D than we’ve listed above. Work with your medical doctor to figure out the right dose for you, and how long to take it for.

How do you get vitamin D?

The best vitamin D source, ever: The sun

Many people can meet their vitamin D requirements through sunshine alone. And as far as “natural sources of vitamin D” goes, sunlight is a tippy top choice.

A good general guideline: Get about 10-20 minutes a day of midday sun, with face, arms, hands, and legs uncovered (and no sunscreen).

The amount of vitamin D you get (and absorb) from the sun depends on a bunch of things, like geographic location, skin tone, clothing style, sunscreen use, age, and overall health.

So, depending on who you are, and where you are, you may need more sun than the above recommendation.

The best vitamin D food sources

You can significantly bump up your vitamin D intake by prioritizing certain foods in your diet.

Here are some of the best sources3:

The table is divided into two columns: The column on the left is labelled “Food,” and shows a list of vitamin D-rich foods. The column on the right is labelled “Vitamin D content” and shows the amount of vitamin D (in international units and micrograms) in each food. The selection of foods is listed in order of highest amount to lowest amount of vitamin D. Starting from the top row, the list reads: 3 ounces of cooked rainbow trout has 645 IU or 16.2 mcg of vitamin D. 3 ounces of cooked sockeye salmon has 570 IU or 14.2 mcg of vitamin D. 1 cup of 2% vitamin D fortified milk has 120 IU or 2.9 mcg of vitamin D. 1 cup of vitamin D fortified soy, almond or oat milk has 100 to 144 IU or 2.5 to 3.6 mcg of vitamin D. 2 canned sardines—drained—has 46 IU or 1.2 mcg of vitamin D. 1 large cooked egg with yolk has 44 IU or 1.1 mcg of vitamin D. 3 ounces of braised beef liver has 42 IU or 1 mcg of vitamin D. 3 ounces of canned light tuna fish—drained—has 40 IU or 1 mcg of vitamin D. 1 ounce cheddar cheese has 12 IU or 0.3 mcg of vitamin D.

The best vitamin D supplement

Vitamin D supplements can come as a pill, liquid, sublingual spray, or (yes) chewable gummy worm.

While the delivery method of the supplement isn’t so important4, the form of the vitamin D in it is.

Usually, you’ll find two forms of vitamin D available in pharmacies and health food stores:

  • Vitamin D2, derived from yeast or mushrooms (and vegan-friendly)
  • Vitamin D3, typically sourced from lanolin (from sheep’s wool)

While both forms can raise blood levels of vitamin D, vitamin D3 appears to do a better job of optimizing vitamin D levels, as well as maintaining these levels longer-term.5,6,7

So, unless you’re avoiding animal products, look for a supplement that contains vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

However—and this is important—taking vitamin D when you’re not deficient will have little to no benefit—and may even cause harm.8

(More on how to assess your risk of deficiency below.)

The interaction between vitamin D, calcium, and other nutrients

Meet vitamin D’s “colleagues.”

The following nutrients support vitamin D’s role in the body, as well as mutually benefit from vitamin D’s presence.

  • Calcium is absorbed better in the presence of vitamin D. That’s one of the reasons vitamin D is important for bone health. But, taking too much of both can cause calcium to build up in places where it doesn’t belong: soft tissues like the kidneys and arteries.9
  • Vitamin K helps direct calcium to where it’s supposed to go (mostly, the bones).10 Taking vitamin K with vitamin D may prevent calcium from depositing into the soft tissues.11,12,13
  • Magnesium may help convert vitamin D to its more metabolically active forms. Research shows that taking magnesium with vitamin D is more effective at correcting a vitamin D deficiency than vitamin D supplementation alone.14,15
  • Vitamin A can prevent vitamin D toxicity, and vice versa.3 Also, some studies suggest that increasing vitamin A can reduce the calcium buildup that can happen with higher levels of vitamin D.16

There’s one caveat here: Taking high doses of vitamin D along with high doses of any of these vitamins and minerals can, in some cases, backfire and contribute to health problems. (Especially if you have other nutrient deficiencies.)

While it’s very unlikely to “overdose” on nutrition from food, supplements can allow you to mega-dose, and that’s where potential issues could arise.

If you’re unsure about how to balance your supplements, talk to your medical doctor.

Vitamin D deficiency

Most experts agree that having a blood level of:

  • 30-50 nmol/L (12-20 ng/mL) of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, or 25(OH)D is insufficient for optimal health
  • <30 nmol/L (12 ng/mL) of 25(OH)D is considered a severe deficiency

Levels in both of these ranges likely benefit from supplementation.17,18,19

How common is vitamin D deficiency?

Statistics suggest that between 20 and 40 percent of adults and children worldwide have insufficient levels of vitamin D.19,20,21

Now here’s a fun quiz (well, fun for health nerds like us):

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you’re at an increased risk of vitamin deficiency.

Do you:

  • Live far from the equator, and/or experience winter? It’s nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunlight during certain seasons—usually the colder months—even if you spend lots of time outside.22
  • Have darker skin? Melanin—the pigment that makes skin dark—reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D when it’s been exposed to sunlight.17 In the US, 89 percent of Blacks and 69 percent of Hispanics are deficient in vitamin D.23
  • Fall into the “50+” age category? Age decreases the body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D on the skin.24
  • Have a chronic illness, malabsorption issues, or have a BMI that categorizes you as “obese”? People with certain illnesses, malabsorption, or obesity don’t necessarily have trouble making vitamin D on the skin, but they’re more likely to have issues absorbing and metabolizing it.25,26
  • Tend to cover up when you go outside (either with clothing or sunscreen)? Wearing clothing that covers most of your body—for religious, style, or health reasons—or wearing sunscreen, protects your skin from UVB and UVA light, blocking vitamin D synthesis. Burn or skin cancer survivors may be especially prone to slathering up with SPF.
  • Just not go outside much (during daylight)? Whether due to illness or shift work, if you’re not able to go outside when the sun is highest, you’ll miss the window for optimal vitamin D synthesis.

Diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency

As you might imagine, the worse a deficiency is, the more likely negative health effects start to show up.

More extreme deficiencies of vitamin D dramatically increase the risk of premature death, infections, and many other diseases.27

Some diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency:

  • Osteoporosis, and general weakening or softening of the bones26
  • Immune dysfunction, such as autoimmune conditions and increased susceptibility to infection28
  • Type 2 diabetes29,30
  • Cardiovascular disease31,32
  • Cancer, especially cancer mortality33,34,35
  • Obesity36
  • Depression37

Problem is, we don’t have clear evidence that improving vitamin D status alone reverses or improves these conditions. Nor do we know for sure if vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is actually what causes them in the first place.

Although vitamin D deficiency is related to these conditions, we’re still trying to figure out how.

Vitamin D and Immunity

For years, vitamin D has been touted as an immune booster.

As a result, it’s become a popular “just in case” supplement during flu seasons, and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But remember how we said that supplementing with vitamin D won’t likely benefit you if you aren’t deficient?

That applies to immune function too.

Taking extra vitamin D when your levels are normal won’t give you “super immunity.”

It’s true that vitamin D deficiency is linked to more frequent and more severe infections, like upper respiratory tract illnesses,38 and COVID-19.39,40

So yes, if you’re worried about your immune health and you suspect you have a vitamin D deficiency, get tested.

If you have a confirmed deficiency, get those D levels into a normal range: 50-100 nmol/L (20-40 ng/mL) of 25(OH)D.

(Your doctor can help you figure out the right dose of vitamin D, and how long to take it for.)

On the other hand, if your vitamin D levels are normal, there’s no reason to supplement.

Learn more: 8 ways to optimize your immunity and protect your health.

Vitamin D: Your next steps

1. If possible, get some (safe) sun exposure, and aim to eat vitamin D-rich foods.

Many people’s vitamin D requirements can and should be met through sun exposure and diet alone.

Eat vitamin D-rich foods, along with a range of colorful fruits and veggies high in vitamins and minerals—like calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin A—that support vitamin D’s work in the body.

As a coach, unless you have another designation that qualifies you to practice Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), you’re best to stick with food and lifestyle practices to help your clients meet their vitamin D requirements.

Coaches can educate clients about their risk factors, or provide general guidelines for vitamin D intake, but only qualified MNT practitioners can diagnose and treat deficiencies.

2. If you suspect a deficiency, get a blood test.

When possible, get a blood test to confirm suspected deficiencies. (That goes for other nutrients too—like iron or vitamin B12—not just vitamin D.)

And, remember that in the presence of other deficiencies, we should be careful about supplementing with high doses of vitamin D.

Consult a doctor to help you determine if there’s a deficiency, and if so, what dose to take to remedy it.

3. Be mindful of those who are more vulnerable to deficiency.

If you have a client who:

  • has malabsorption issues
  • has darker skin
  • lives far from the equator
  • covers up (either with clothes or sunscreen)

…know that vitamin D deficiency is common.20

And most people low in vitamin D won’t “feel” it.

While some might get colds or flus a bit more often,41 many people don’t have any symptoms at all.

If a client falls into one or more of the “at risk” categories (especially if their diet is also low in vitamin D food sources), it’s not a bad idea to suggest that they work with a doctor, and get tested.

The bottom line: Even if something is essential to our health—like vitamins, minerals, water, and, oh, let’s say, a good stash of toilet paper—more isn’t always better.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Schottker B, Haug U, Schomburg L, et al. Strong associations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations with all-cause, cardiovascular, cancer, and respiratory disease mortality in a large cohort study.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):782-93.

2. Kimball, Samantha M., and Michael F. Holick. 2020. “Official Recommendations for Vitamin D through the Life Stages in Developed Countries.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 74 (11): 1514–18.

3. “Vitamin D.” n.d. Accessed March 29, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

4. Grammatikopoulou, Maria G., Konstantinos Gkiouras, Meletios P. Nigdelis, Dimitrios P. Bogdanos, and Dimitrios G. Goulis. 2020. “Efficacy of Vitamin D3 Buccal Spray Supplementation Compared to Other Delivery Methods: A Systematic Review of Superiority Randomized Controlled Trials.” Nutrients 12 (3). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030691.

5. Tripkovic, Laura, Helen Lambert, Kathryn Hart, Colin P. Smith, Giselda Bucca, Simon Penson, Gemma Chope, et al. 2012. “Comparison of Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3 Supplementation in Raising Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 95 (6): 1357–64.

6. Logan, Victoria F., Andrew R. Gray, Meredith C. Peddie, Michelle J. Harper, and Lisa A. Houghton. 2013. “Long-Term Vitamin D3 Supplementation Is More Effective than Vitamin D2 in Maintaining Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status over the Winter Months.” The British Journal of Nutrition 109 (6): 1082–88.

7. Vieth, Reinhold. 2020. “Vitamin D Supplementation: Cholecalciferol, Calcifediol, and Calcitriol.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 74 (11): 1493–97.6

8. Khan, Safi U., Muhammad U. Khan, Haris Riaz, Shahul Valavoor, Di Zhao, Lauren Vaughan, Victor Okunrintemi, et al. 2019. “Effects of Nutritional Supplements and Dietary Interventions on Cardiovascular Outcomes: An Umbrella Review and Evidence Map.” Annals of Internal Medicine 171 (3): 190–98.

9. Michos, Erin D., Miguel Cainzos-Achirica, Amir S. Heravi, and Lawrence J. Appel. 2021. “Vitamin D, Calcium Supplements, and Implications for Cardiovascular Health: JACC Focus Seminar.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 77 (4): 437–49.

10. Ushiroyama, Takahisa, Atushi Ikeda, and Minoru Ueki. 2002. “Effect of Continuous Combined Therapy with Vitamin K(2) and Vitamin D(3) on Bone Mineral Density and Coagulofibrinolysis Function in Postmenopausal Women.” Maturitas 41 (3): 211–21.

11. Shea, M. Kyla, and Rachel M. Holden. 2012. “Vitamin K Status and Vascular Calcification: Evidence from Observational and Clinical Studies.” Advances in Nutrition 3 (2): 158–65.

12. Shea, M. Kyla, Christopher J. O’Donnell, Udo Hoffmann, Gerard E. Dallal, Bess Dawson-Hughes, José M. Ordovas, Paul A. Price, Matthew K. Williamson, and Sarah L. Booth. 2009. “Vitamin K Supplementation and Progression of Coronary Artery Calcium in Older Men and Women.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89 (6): 1799–1807.

13. Masterjohn, Christopher. 2007. “Vitamin D Toxicity Redefined: Vitamin K and the Molecular Mechanism.” Medical Hypotheses 68 (5): 1026–34.

14. Deng, Xinqing, Yiqing Song, Joann E. Manson, Lisa B. Signorello, Shumin M. Zhang, Martha J. Shrubsole, Reid M. Ness, Douglas L. Seidner, and Qi Dai. 2013. “Magnesium, Vitamin D Status and Mortality: Results from US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 to 2006 and NHANES III.” BMC Medicine 11 (August): 187.

15. Uwitonze, Anne Marie, and Mohammed S. Razzaque. 2018. “Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 118 (3): 181–89.

16. Johansson, S., and H. Melhus. 2001. “Vitamin A Antagonizes Calcium Response to Vitamin D in Man.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: The Official Journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 16 (10): 1899–1905.

17. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium. 2011. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Edited by A. Catharine Ross, Christine L. Taylor, Ann L. Yaktine, and Heather B. Del Valle. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).

18. Holick, Michael F., Neil C. Binkley, Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, Catherine M. Gordon, David A. Hanley, Robert P. Heaney, M. Hassan Murad, Connie M. Weaver, and Endocrine Society. 2011. “Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 96 (7): 1911–30.

19. Amrein, Karin, Mario Scherkl, Magdalena Hoffmann, Stefan Neuwersch-Sommeregger, Markus Köstenberger, Adelina Tmava Berisha, Gennaro Martucci, Stefan Pilz, and Oliver Malle. 2020. “Vitamin D Deficiency 2.0: An Update on the Current Status Worldwide.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 74 (11): 1498–1513.

20. Parva, Naveen R., Satish Tadepalli, Pratiksha Singh, Andrew Qian, Rajat Joshi, Hyndavi Kandala, Vinod K. Nookala, and Pramil Cheriyath. 2018. “Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and Associated Risk Factors in the US Population (2011-2012).” Cureus 10 (6): e2741.

21. Cashman, Kevin D., Tony Sheehy, and Colette M. O’Neill. 2019. “Is Vitamin D Deficiency a Public Health Concern for Low Middle Income Countries? A Systematic Literature Review.” European Journal of Nutrition 58 (1): 433–53.

22. Wacker, Matthias, and Michael F. Holick. 2013. “Sunlight and Vitamin D: A Global Perspective for Health.” Dermato-Endocrinology 5 (1): 51–108.

23. Forrest, KY, Stuhldreher, WL. Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults.  Nutr Res. 2011 Jan;31(1):48-54.

24. Chalcraft, Jenna R., Linda M. Cardinal, Perry J. Wechsler, Bruce W. Hollis, Kenneth G. Gerow, Brenda M. Alexander, Jill F. Keith, and D. Enette Larson-Meyer. 2020. “Vitamin D Synthesis Following a Single Bout of Sun Exposure in Older and Younger Men and Women.” Nutrients 12 (8). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082237.

25. Silva, Mariana Costa, and Tania Weber Furlanetto. 2018. “Intestinal Absorption of Vitamin D: A Systematic Review.” Nutrition Reviews 76 (1): 60–76.

26. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board, and Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium. 2011. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. National Academies Press.

27. Wang, Hanmin, Weiwen Chen, Dongqing Li, Xiaoe Yin, Xiaode Zhang, Nancy Olsen, and Song Guo Zheng. 2017. “Vitamin D and Chronic Diseases.” Aging and Disease 8 (3): 346–53.

28. Aranow, Cynthia. 2011. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” Journal of Investigative Medicine: The Official Publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research 59 (6): 881–86.

29. Li, Xinyi, Yan Liu, Yingdong Zheng, Peiyu Wang, and Yumei Zhang. 2018. “The Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Nutrients 10 (3). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10030375.

30. Pittas, Anastassios G., Bess Dawson-Hughes, Patricia Sheehan, James H. Ware, William C. Knowler, Vanita R. Aroda, Irwin Brodsky, et al. 2019. “Vitamin D Supplementation and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes.” The New England Journal of Medicine 381 (6): 520–30.

31. Kassi, Eva, Christos Adamopoulos, Efthimia K. Basdra, and Athanasios G. Papavassiliou. 2013. “Role of Vitamin D in Atherosclerosis.” Circulation 128 (23): 2517–31.

32. Al Mheid, Ibhar, and Arshed A. Quyyumi. 2017. “Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Disease: Controversy Unresolved.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 70 (1): 89–100.

33. Yin, Lu, José M. Ordóñez-Mena, Tianhui Chen, Ben Schöttker, Volker Arndt, and Hermann Brenner. 2013. “Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Serum Concentration and Total Cancer Incidence and Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Preventive Medicine 57 (6): 753–64.

34. Han, Jianmin, Xiaofei Guo, Xiao Yu, Shuang Liu, Xinyue Cui, Bo Zhang, and Hui Liang. 2019. “25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Total Cancer Incidence and Mortality: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies.” Nutrients 11 (10). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102295.

35. Keum, N., and E. Giovannucci. 2014. “Vitamin D Supplements and Cancer Incidence and Mortality: A Meta-Analysis.” British Journal of Cancer 111 (5): 976–80.

36. Earthman, C. P., L. M. Beckman, K. Masodkar, and S. D. Sibley. 2012. “The Link between Obesity and Low Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations: Considerations and Implications.” International Journal of Obesity 36 (3): 387–96.

37. Anglin, Rebecca E. S., Zainab Samaan, Stephen D. Walter, and Sarah D. McDonald. 2013. “Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression in Adults: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The British Journal of Psychiatry: The Journal of Mental Science 202 (February): 100–107.

38. Hughes, D. A., and R. Norton. 2009. “Vitamin D and Respiratory Health.” Clinical and Experimental Immunology 158 (1): 20–25.

39. Baktash, Vadir, Tom Hosack, Nishil Patel, Shital Shah, Pirabakaran Kandiah, Koenraad Van den Abbeele, Amit K. J. Mandal, and Constantinos G. Missouris. 2020. “Vitamin D Status and Outcomes for Hospitalised Older Patients with COVID-19.” Postgraduate Medical Journal, August. https://doi.org/10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-138712.

40. Carpagnano, G. E., V. Di Lecce, V. N. Quaranta, A. Zito, E. Buonamico, E. Capozza, A. Palumbo, G. Di Gioia, V. N. Valerio, and O. Resta. 2021. “Vitamin D Deficiency as a Predictor of Poor Prognosis in Patients with Acute Respiratory Failure due to COVID-19.” Journal of Endocrinological Investigation 44 (4): 765–71.

41. Schwalfenberg, Gerry K. 2011. “A Review of the Critical Role of Vitamin D in the Functioning of the Immune System and the Clinical Implications of Vitamin D Deficiency.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 55 (1): 96–108.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post “Should I take vitamin D?” Here’s what the science says. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“What can I eat on the Paleo diet?!”

Eating like ancient humans sure sounds cool. But it brings up a lot of questions:

  • Is grass-fed cattle similar to the wild game Paleolithic people hunted?
  • Are potatoes okay? What about sweet potatoes? 
  • What cooking oil should I use? (Did Uncle Grok even use cooking oil?)
  • Do I have to give up all sweets? 

It can also be tricky to figure which foods fit into which macronutrient categories. Like bacon, for instance. Is it a protein? Or a fat? Or both? (More importantly, can I eat it?)

Questions like these are why we created this handy, Paleo food list infographic for folks who want to give it a go.

Fair warning: Most Paleo food lists give you a lot of hard-and-fast rules. So you might notice that our list… is a bit different.

First, we showcased minimally-processed foods typically encouraged on the Paleo diet in an “eat more” section. If you’re a Paleo purist, you’ll want to choose most (or all) of your foods from that category. 

If you’re more flexible, you’ll see that we’ve sorted highly-processed foods as well as some foods typically seen as Paleo “no-no’s” into “eat some” and “eat less” buckets.

Take ice cream. Ancient humans didn’t have freezers. Nor did they have Rocky Road. But maybe you want to have a small scoop once a week with your kids. Are you still on the Paleo diet? 

According to our Paleo food list, you are. 

By thinking of foods on a continuum from “eat more” to “eat less,” you’ll be able to occasionally indulge in ice cream and other cherished foods while staying true to Paleo ideals most of the time. You’ll also be able to ease into the Paleo diet rather than starting… and stopping… and starting… and stopping. 

Plus, as you put more focus on the “eat more” category, you’ll probably find that you naturally “eat less” from the other categories. 

Use our continuums to make Paleo choices that are “just a little bit better,” whether you’re browsing the grocery store aisles, cooking a homemade meal, or ordering from a menu.

(And if you want a FREE Paleo diet nutrition plan that instantly gives you the amounts of calories, protein, carbs, and fat you need to achieve your goals, check out the Precision Nutrition Calculator.)

Download this infographic for your tablet or printer and use the step-by-step process to decide which foods match your (or your clients’) Paleo goals.

This Paleo diet food list shows you how to choose the best Paleo diet foods for your body, goals, preferences, and lifestyle.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post ‘What should I eat?!’ The Paleo diet edition. [Infographic] appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“What should I eat on the Mediterranean diet?!”

Let this handy Mediterranean diet food list be your guide.

You might notice our list is a bit different than what you’ll find elsewhere.

The reason: It’s not a two-column “Eat / Don’t Eat” or “Good / Bad” food list.

Instead, we’ve sorted everything into a continuum—from “eat more” to “eat some” to “eat less.”

That way, no food is forbidden. And you’ll be able to easily see which foods you should emphasize—higher quality, more nutritious options—versus which foods you should eat less frequently (but not give up entirely).

A cool side effect: By putting more focus on the “eat more” category, you’ll probably find that you naturally “eat less” from the other categories. And that’s when the health benefits start to kick in.

No matter what your starting point, think of this food list as a tool. One that helps you make progress over time, rather than pursue perfection all at once.

Our advice: Aim to make Mediterranean diet choices that are “just a little bit better” than you’re making now, and keep improving over time.

That’s how lasting change happens.

This infographic will show you how. Use it to:

  • Incorporate a mix of Mediterranean diet-friendly proteins, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fats
  • Strategically improve your food choices—based on what you eat right now—to feel, move, and look better.
  • Customize your intake for your individual lifestyle, goals, and (of course) taste buds.

As a bonus, we’ve provided space to create your own personal Mediterranean diet food list on a continuum. That way, you can build a delicious Mediterranean-style menu that’s right for YOU.

(And if you want a FREE Meditteranean diet nutrition plan that instantly gives you the amounts of calories, protein, carbs, and fat you need to achieve your goals, check out the Precision Nutrition Calculator.)

Download this infographic for your tablet or printer.

This Mediterranean diet food list shows you how to choose the best Mediterranean diet foods for your body, goals, preferences, and lifestyle.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post ‘What should I eat?!’ The Mediterranean diet edition. [Infographic] appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

The Mediterranean diet even sounds good.

It conjures images of stucco villas perched over sparkling seas, where fresh sardines leap onto your plate, already golden, crispy, and dripping with olive oil.

And let’s not forget the vino.

But scientifically-speaking, the Mediterranean diet is also good for you.

That’s because it’s associated with a lowered risk of many diseases, plus a longer lifespan.

There’s a caveat, though: Maximizing these health benefits isn’t about just eating popular Mediterranean “superfoods.”

The real “secret” to the Mediterranean diet? Consistently eating a range of nutritious whole foodsand adopting certain lifestyle practices.

In this article, we’ll give you all the details. You’ll learn:

Hop on the gondola and let’s explore.

Mediterranean Diet Basics

Back in the 1950s, Ancel Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota, noticed something:

Poor, small towns in Italy hosted strikingly healthy citizens.

He attributed their robust health to their diet—largely composed of whole grains, legumes, fruit, and vegetables, moderate amounts of fish, and low amounts of dairy and meat.

Their primary fat source was olive oil, and they drank wine moderately.

These Mediterranean villagers also flavored their meals with an abundance of herbs, garlic, and onions.

Their food choices added up to a diet:

  • Low in saturated fats, with almost zero trans fats
  • Moderate to high in unsaturated fats
  • Moderate in protein
  • Rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates
  • Rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals

Italians weren’t the only people eating this way. Researchers documented similar eating patterns in Spain and Greece.

Over the decades since Keys’ original findings, the Mediterranean diet has been applied and studied in other contexts—like Canada, the US, India, and Western Europe. It still holds up.

So there is something special about a traditional Mediterranean eating style.

And at the same time…

It’s not just about the food.

In addition to having a distinct dietary pattern, “traditional” Mediterraneans also tend to practice specific cultural and lifestyle habits.

For example, they buy their foods locally, making multiple trips a week—often by foot—to local farm-sourced vendors.

They may also harvest produce from their own garden. This means that food is exceptionally fresh, and exercise is rolled into the act of procuring foods.

Mediterranean cooking and eating tends to be slow, social, and joyous.

Often, meals are eaten with family from multiple generations. It’s common for everyone to gather at Nonna’s every Sunday, where they’ll eat her handmade gnocchi with sauce made from her own garden tomatoes.

Compare that to how people frequently eat in modern Western culture.

Many of us are conditioned to quickly scarf down whatever’s in front of us. Often, that may be something highly-processed that’s easy to prep and clean up, such as a packaged burrito or a salad bowl of cereal.

Plus, it’s not a leap to imagine that breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or maybe all three!) are consumed in front of a device or steering wheel—perhaps while alone or barely speaking.

If really stressed and pressed, we might even eat over the sink.

That’s no way to enjoy a meal.

More important: If this describes your eating habits, you may be missing out on part of what makes the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle so notable.

That’s because:

  • Eating locally is associated with better nutrition, less-processed food, obesity prevention, and lowered risk of diet-related chronic disease.1
  • Eating communally is related to better nutrition, especially in children who eat with their families.2 In addition, those who eat socially often feel happier, are more trusting of others, are more involved in their local communities and have more social support.3,4
  • Eating slowly is linked to a lowered risk of obesity, even when controlling for other lifestyle habits such as alcohol consumption, exercise, and smoking.5 And if you’re looking to lose weight, learning to eat slowly can help you moderate food consumption and feel more satisfied.6
  • Eating home-cooked meals more often (at least five meals at home per week) is associated with eating more fruit and vegetables.7

In other words…

Getting all the benefits of a traditional Mediterranean diet isn’t just about what you eat. It’s also about where, why, and how you eat.

Eat more like a traditional Mediterranean, and you’ll probably experience some health benefits.

But live more like a traditional Mediterranean? That’s next-level stuff.

Mediterranean Diet Pros

The Mediterranean diet is one of the most robustly studied therapeutic diets.

But unlike many diets, it wasn’t developed based on a hypothesis of what should work. Nor did it become popular because an influencer “got great results on it.”

The Mediterranean diet rose to prominence based on what lots of real people were already eating and doing.

The original followers of the Mediterranean diet weren’t “on a diet” at all—they were just living their lives. That means it’s been shown to be a sustainable, long-term approach for a very large number of people.

Now let’s take a look at the specific health benefits it provides.

The Mediterranean diet may lower your risk of chronic diseases.

It’s associated with lowered incidences of:

▶ Cardiovascular disease

The Lyon Heart Health study, which involved 605 patients with heart disease, tested the Mediterranean diet against a control therapeutic diet. After four years, those on the Mediterranean diet had a 50-75 percent reduced risk of another heart attack.8

The Mediterranean dieters also consumed more fiber, vitamin C, and omega 3s, and less saturated fat and cholesterol than those on the control diet.

▶ Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is associated with improving blood sugar regulation, as well as a 19-23 percent reduced risk of future diabetes risk. So, adopting a Mediterranean diet may help prevent type 2 diabetes.9

For those with established diabetes, a lower carbohydrate version of the Mediterranean-style diet seems to help control blood sugar.

(To get a Mediterranean diet that’s customized for your goals and preferences, check out the Precision Nutrition Calculator.)

▶ Angina

A Mediterranean diet rich in alpha-linoleic acid (plant-based omega-3s) and plant sterols—primarily from nuts, seeds, and plant oils—helps reduce the severity of angina.10,11

▶ Alzheimer’s disease

In a study of 1188 healthy elderly Americans, those who adhered closely to a Mediterranean-style diet had a 32-40 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.12

The risk of Alzheimer’s was reduced even further (67 percent less likely to develop the disease) with more exercise and a more consistent Mediterranean eating pattern.

▶ Cancer

The Mediterranean diet may contribute to a reduced risk of cancer, possibly due to a predominance of foods rich in antioxidants and fiber. And, according to some research, the closer people stick to the Mediterranean diet, the lower their likelihood of a cancer diagnosis.13,14,15

▶ Erectile dysfunction

Men who followed the Mediterranean diet for two years had fewer symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED)—as well as improved blood vessel function and lower markers of inflammation—compared to those on a control diet.16

The Mediterranean diet may help reduce ED by reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for ED.17

In addition to (or perhaps because of) reducing the risk of many diseases, the Mediterranean diet is also associated with a longer lifespan.18

This chart shows popular Mediterranean diet foods and their benefits. From the top: 1) Extra virgin olive oil provide polyphenols and phytochemicals (which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects); 2) Fruits/vegetables/whole grains provide fiber (which help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol); 3) Legumes/nuts and seeds provide phytosterols (which help moderate cholesterol absorption); 4) Fish provides polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help regular inflammation and balance cholesterol

The Mediterranean diet isn’t about eliminating “bad foods.”

Instead, it’s about eating a delicious range of foods that most people enjoy—without prohibiting anything.

Think: “inclusion” not “avoidance.”

For example, sweets aren’t eaten regularly, but they’re not “forbidden” either. They’re just treats—to be enjoyed on occasion (and hopefully with lots of gusto and pleasure).

This means that the diet is practical, flexible, and psychologically, kind of freeing. Not surprisingly, research shows this kind of approach often leads to better results.19

And indeed: The Mediterranean diet appears to be one of the easier diets to stick to.

In a study of 250 people that compared long-term dietary adherence, 57 percent of people on the Mediterranean diet were still following it after a year, compared to 35 percent of people who tried the Paleo diet.20

Mediterranean Diet Cons

Most diets have some drawbacks, usually related to what they restrict. This often makes them psychologically or nutritionally challenging—or both.

Because the Mediterranean diet is inclusive of so many foods, it doesn’t provoke either of these challenges.

But there are other reasons why the Mediterranean diet may not be the “perfect” approach. (And to be clear: There is no perfect diet.)

Not everyone agrees on what the Mediterranean diet is.

Because the Mediterranean diet wasn’t purposely created by a group of doctors, dieticians, or scientists, it doesn’t come with strict rules. It’s more of a “pattern” of eating.

For example, if someone’s following a gluten-free diet or a vegan diet, you can assume that gluten-containing or animal foods are eliminated.

But with the Mediterranean diet, nothing’s really excluded.

Ultimately, there’s just a focus on particular foods—such as olive oil, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and seafood.

For some, these fuzzy borders can make the Mediterranean diet seem more complicated than it is.

Case in point: If a person likes clearly-defined rules and precise meal plans, the Mediterranean diet might feel really challenging.

What makes the Mediterranean diet great can also make it hard.

Traditional Mediterraneans don’t tend to eat a lot of red meat (because the region lacks the land to raise cattle). To be clear, though, this isn’t an indictment of red meat.

It’s simply cause-and-effect: They eat fresh foods that are available locally, which we’d consider a “core principle” of the diet.

That might sound ideal, but it can be problematic for many people.

If fresh food is either inaccessible or unaffordable, following a “true” Mediterranean diet may not be practical (or possible). Same goes for someone who feels like they don’t have time or energy to prepare nutritious meals.

The Mediterranean diet may not be the best choice for weight loss (unless you combine it with other strategies).

People who start following a Mediterranean diet do typically lose weight.

This is interesting because:

Restriction—of food groups or calories in general—isn’t a central principle of the Mediterranean diet. 

When people lose weight on the Mediterranean diet without attempting to modify portions, it’s probably due to something known as dietary displacement.

In other words, calorie-dense, highly-processed foods—for example, pastries, soda, and chips—are “crowded out” by lower-calorie, higher-nutrient whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins.

While whole foods are hard to overeat, highly-processed foods are basically designed for overeating.

(Learn more: Manufactured deliciousness: Why you can’t stop overeating.)

So when switching to a more whole foods diet, you may eat fewer calories—without even trying to.

However, if you’re set on losing a specific amount of weight, you’re better off using an intentional strategy than relying on it happening by accident.

Our advice?

Combine the healthy variety of foods the diet promotes, as well as the lifestyle factors—like movement and mindful eating—with intentional portion regulation.

For portion recommendations to match your individual nutrient requirements and health goals, check out our Nutrition Calculator. (There’s even an option to tailor your recommendations to fit into a Mediterranean-style diet.)

Red wine: What’s the actual deal?

Is red wine good for you?

Meaning: If you’re not already drinking red wine, should you start?

As with most nutrition debates, it’s complicated.

The benefit of red wine potentially comes from its abundance of phenolic compounds, which are plant chemicals with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (Note: These compounds are 10 times higher in red wines than in white or rosé wines.)

Moderate consumption of red wine is associated with lower blood pressure21, higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and lower levels of inflammation. (Alcohol also acts as a blood thinner, which may be helpful for preventing clots.)22,23

For cardioprotective effects, international guidelines suggest limiting red wine to about 5 ounces (150 mL) a day. Drink more than that, and the health benefits fade. Higher alcohol consumption is associated with higher blood pressure, more inflammation, and worsened blood sugar regulation, not to mention an overall increased risk for many chronic diseases.24

The verdict?

If you delight in the occasional glass of red wine with dinner, you probably don’t need to stop.

However, if you’re a non-drinker, most health experts recommend that you don’t start. 

Besides, there are less controversial foods that are even better sources of phenolic compounds, such as many culinary herbs and spices, teas, berries, and olives.25

(If only a cocktail of oregano, cloves, green tea, elderberries, and black olives were more appealing…)

For more on the pros and cons of alcohol consumption read: Would you be healthier if you quit drinking?

How to coach someone on the Mediterranean diet

If it’s not clear by now, here’s the beauty of the Mediterranean diet: It doesn’t require perfection.

What’s more, clients can start benefiting even if they don’t change what they eat right away.

Our approach: Have your client choose one practice at a time, and see how it works for them. As they successfully incorporate it into their life—give it a couple of weeks—they can choose another.

This helps ease them into it, and before they know it, they’re stacking several new practices that can drive meaningful change. Only it doesn’t feel daunting or difficult.

And that’s a powerful formula for change.

Here are the main tenets of the Mediterranean diet, which you can work on with clients one-by-one.

Savor and enjoy your food.

Help your clients eat more mindfully.

This means: Slow down. Look at the food; smell the food.

Chew carefully, paying attention to textures and flavors. Put your fork down between bites. Breathe.

Like any kind of practice, this isn’t all or nothing.

In fact, it’s quite hard for many people. So don’t expect hour-long meals right off the bat.

Most clients will benefit from adding just five minutes to their usual routine.

Even this little extra time can allow them to notice a little more, relax and de-stress a bit, and get more enjoyment from their eating experience.

(Read more: Try our 30-day slow eating challenge.)

Connect with loved ones.

While regularly eating with loved ones may not be possible for all clients, you can help them move towards more connection, however that looks in their life.

Encourage clients to invite friends over for a potluck, join a community gardening project, or visit their local farmers’ market to connect with farmers who grow and raise food locally.

Even if their household’s schedules are hairy and varied, suggest trying to schedule a weekly meal where everyone can eat together.

This isn’t just good for grownups, by the way.

Research shows that children who eat with family tend to eat more nutritiously2, and girls have a lower risk of developing an eating disorder.26

Plus, the benefits of eating together extend throughout life: Seniors who go from living and eating alone to dining communally in a nursing home or retirement community tend to eat better quality food, have more stable body weights, and have lower rates of depression.27

Move daily.

This can certainly include more conventional exercise like weight training, but it can also be: house work, walking a pet, running around with kids, using a treadmill desk, or just walking to the grocery store and back.

Here’s a practice we love: An Italian tradition called “la passeggiata.” This describes a leisurely after-dinner stroll through the neighborhood with family.

It’s a great way to combine activity, social connection, and mindfulness, which is probably why it’s thought to have significant health benefits.28

We also like intermittent workouts. These are 5- to 10-minute mini-workouts that clients can do throughout their day, without having to set aside 30 minutes or an hour for intentional exercise. (Learn more: How to do intermittent workouts.)

Eat what’s fresh and local(ish).

Mediterranean regions have access to specific fruits (like figs and grapes), vegetables (tomatoes and wild greens), and fats (olives, walnuts, and seafood).

Because of the region’s geography, red meat isn’t as common as chicken and seafood, which Mediterraneans can raise in a small backyard or fish from the nearby sea.

You and your clients might have different foods available.

Instead of getting stuck on specific Mediterranean foods, adopt the logic behind food choices.

Traditional Mediterraneans generally ate foods that were grown locally, and therefore were as fresh as possible. Those foods were also then mostly prepared at home.

The takeaway: Help clients get curious about the seasonal and local foods in their region. Then, help them build a repertoire of simple recipes that they can make from those foods.

The big benefit here: This automatically cuts out many of the energy-dense, ultra-processed foods that people often overconsume.

Emphasize plants, plant fats, and seafood.

The Mediterranean diet probably works in part due to specific dietary patterns rather than individual foods.

These patterns include:

  • Focusing on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as the base of the diet
  • Swapping out saturated fats (from fattier cuts of meat and high-fat dairy products) for more unsaturated fats (from nuts, seeds, and olives / olive oil)
  • Including small, daily portions of dairy like yogurt and fresh or aged cheese
  • Rotating protein sources, mainly from seafood, legumes, poultry, and eggs
  • Replacing desserts with fruit
  • Using generous amounts of natural flavor-enhancers, such as garlic, onions, and fresh and dried herbs

Giving clients this overview can be helpful, but asking them to make all these changes at once can be overwhelming.

Instead, turn these patterns into daily actions that clients can practice one at a time, until they’re ready to add more.

For example, they could choose any one of the actions below, and practice it for two weeks.

  • Add 1-2 extra portions per day of fruit and vegetables to their diet
  • Eat a serving of nuts and seeds a day, for a snack
  • Include quality protein at every meal
  • Switch your processed carb favorites to whole grains, beans, lentils, and starchy vegetables
  • Swap treats and desserts for fresh fruit
  • Moderate alcohol intake to one drink per day (or less)

Let’s say, for example, they want to swap dessert for fresh fruit.

Does this mean they have to give up cake? Absolutely not. What you’re looking for is progress.

For example: If they have dessert every day, could they trade that for fruit four or five days a week? Or if that feels too hard, three days? Or even just one day?

Don’t worry if it seems too easy. Easy is good because it allows them to experience success. They can build from there.

(Learn more about this coaching technique: The genius way to help clients change.)

Another approach? Have them look at their current dietary habits and get creative about “Mediterranean-izing” them. Here are a few examples:

Currently eating… Mediterranean version
Butter
Bacon bits
Cream cheese / mayonnaise
Steak
Olive oil
Toasted nuts / seeds
Avocado
Salmon

The Mediterranean Diet Food List

Traditionally, the Mediterranean plate includes:

  • A high proportion of vegetables and fruits
  • A high proportion of whole grains
  • A moderate proportion of protein from seafood, legumes, poultry, eggs, and Greek yogurt
  • A moderate proportion of fats from nuts, seeds, olives / olive oil, and fresh and aged cheeses
  • A low proportion of animal-derived fats like lard and butter
  • A low proportion of protein from red meat
  • A very low proportion of sweets and dessertsThe Mediterranean diet food and lifestyle pyramid. Starting from the bottom of the pyramid: Regular physical activity; Rest & relaxation; Connection & social engagement; Outdoor time Water and herbal teas Local and seasonal vegetables & fruits; Whole grains Olives & olive oil; Nuts & seeds; Legumes; Fresh herbs & spices Dairy; Fish & seafood; Poultry & eggs Red meats; Butter; White rice & bread Sweets

For a complete guide, use our Mediterranean diet food list infographic to help yourself and your clients choose foods that are more Mediterranean-aligned.

As you use the list, please keep in mind: There is no one-size-fits-all Mediterranean diet.

Our list will help you focus on minimally-processed whole foods while also keeping your overall nutrient intake balanced.

If you’re a coach, you may have clients who follow different diets—and that’s okay. The important part: helping them stay successful on whatever diet (or no-diet) they choose.

Great nutrition coaches recognize that each client’s eating pattern can be individualized based on:

  • What makes them feel best
  • What supports their personal goals
  • What’s realistic for them to follow 

One tool that can help: Our Best Diet Quiz. It’s a quick and easy assessment that helps you figure out how well a diet is working for you (or your client).

And if you decide that the Mediterranean diet isn’t right for you?

That’s okay.

There are many other ways to eat—vegetarian, fully plant-based (a.k.a. vegan), Paleo, keto, carb cycling, reverse dieting—that can also help you reach your goals.

You can also check out the “anything” diet in the Precision Nutrition Macro Calculator. It allows you to create a free nutrition plan that’s personalized for your body, eating preferences, and goals. (Yes, you can eat “anything.”)

Because ultimately, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks is the “best diet.”

All that really matters: Finding what diet works best for YOU.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Martinez, Steve, Michael Hand, Michelle Da Pra, Susan Pollack, Katherine Ralston, Travis Smith, Stephen Vogel, et al. 2010. “Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues, ERR 97.” US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service 5. http://dx.doi.org/.
  2. Dallacker, M., R. Hertwig, and J. Mata. 2018. “The Frequency of Family Meals and Nutritional Health in Children: A Meta-Analysis.” Obesity Reviews: An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 19 (5): 638–53.
  3. Herman, C. Peter, Janet Polivy, Patricia Pliner, and Lenny R. Vartanian. 2019. “Effects of Social Eating.” In Social Influences on Eating, edited by C. Peter Herman, Janet Polivy, Patricia Pliner, and Lenny R. Vartanian, 215–27. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  4. Dunbar, R. I. M. 2017. “Breaking Bread: The Functions of Social Eating.” Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology 3 (3): 198–211.
  5. Tanihara, Shinichi, Takuya Imatoh, Motonobu Miyazaki, Akira Babazono, Yoshito Momose, Michie Baba, Yoko Uryu, and Hiroshi Une. 2011. “Retrospective Longitudinal Study on the Relationship between 8-Year Weight Change and Current Eating Speed.” Appetite 57 (1): 179–83.
  6. Spiegel, Theresa A., Thomas A. Wadden, and Gary D. Foster. 1991. “Objective Measurement of Eating Rate during Behavioral Treatment of Obesity.” Behavior Therapy 22 (1): 61–67.
  7. Mills, Susanna, Heather Brown, Wendy Wrieden, Martin White, and Jean Adams. 2017. “Frequency of Eating Home Cooked Meals and Potential Benefits for Diet and Health: Cross-Sectional Analysis of a Population-Based Cohort Study.” The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 14 (1): 109.
  8. Kris-Etherton Penny, Eckel Robert H., Howard Barbara V., St. Jeor Sachiko, and Bazzarre Terry L. 2001. “Lyon Diet Heart Study.” Circulation 103 (13): 1823–25.
  9. Martín-Peláez, Sandra, Montse Fito, and Olga Castaner. 2020. “Mediterranean Diet Effects on Type 2 Diabetes Prevention, Disease Progression, and Related Mechanisms. A Review.” Nutrients 12 (8). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082236.
  10. Estruch, Ramon, Miguel Angel Martínez-González, Dolores Corella, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Valentina Ruiz-Gutiérrez, María Isabel Covas, Miguel Fiol, et al. 2006. “Effects of a Mediterranean-Style Diet on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Randomized Trial.” Annals of Internal Medicine 145 (1): 1–11.
  11. Singh, Ram B., Gal Dubnov, Mohammad A. Niaz, Saraswati Ghosh, Reema Singh, Shanti S. Rastogi, Orly Manor, Daniel Pella, and Elliot M. Berry. 2002. “Effect of an Indo-Mediterranean Diet on Progression of Coronary Artery Disease in High Risk Patients (Indo-Mediterranean Diet Heart Study): A Randomised Single-Blind Trial.” The Lancet 360 (9344): 1455–61.
  12. Scarmeas, Nikolaos, Jose A. Luchsinger, Nicole Schupf, Adam M. Brickman, Stephanie Cosentino, Ming X. Tang, and Yaakov Stern. 2009. “Physical Activity, Diet, and Risk of Alzheimer Disease.” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 302 (6): 627–37.
  13. La Vecchia, Carlo. 2004. “Mediterranean Diet and Cancer.” Public Health Nutrition 7 (7): 965–68.
  14. Verberne, Lisa, Anna Bach-Faig, Genevieve Buckland, and Lluis Serra-Majem. 2010. “Association between the Mediterranean Diet and Cancer Risk: A Review of Observational Studies.” Nutrition and Cancer 62 (7): 860–70.
  15. Benetou, V., A. Trichopoulou, P. Orfanos, A. Naska, P. Lagiou, P. Boffetta, D. Trichopoulos, and Greek EPIC cohort. 2008. “Conformity to Traditional Mediterranean Diet and Cancer Incidence: The Greek EPIC Cohort.” British Journal of Cancer 99 (1): 191–95.
  16. Esposito, K., M. Ciotola, F. Giugliano, M. De Sio, G. Giugliano, M. D’armiento, and D. Giugliano. 2006. “Mediterranean Diet Improves Erectile Function in Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome.” International Journal of Impotence Research 18 (4): 405–10.
  17. Beck, Leslie. n.d. “The Complete A-Z Nutrition Encyclopedia: A Guide to Natural Health: Managing Over 75 Health Concerns With Diet Vitamins Minerals Herbs: Beck, Leslie: 9780143169437: Books – Amazon.Ca.” Accessed January 26, 2021.
  18. Lasheras, C., S. Fernandez, and A. M. Patterson. 2000. “Mediterranean Diet and Age with Respect to Overall Survival in Institutionalized, Nonsmoking Elderly People.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 71 (4): 987–92.
  19. Gibson, Alice A., and Amanda Sainsbury. 2017. “Strategies to Improve Adherence to Dietary Weight Loss Interventions in Research and Real-World Settings.” Behavioral Sciences 7 (3). https://doi.org/10.3390/bs7030044.
  20. Jospe, Michelle R., Melyssa Roy, Rachel C. Brown, Jillian J. Haszard, Kim Meredith-Jones, Louise J. Fangupo, Hamish Osborne, Elizabeth A. Fleming, and Rachael W. Taylor. 2020. “Intermittent Fasting, Paleolithic, or Mediterranean Diets in the Real World: Exploratory Secondary Analyses of a Weight-Loss Trial That Included Choice of Diet and Exercise.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 111 (3): 503–14.
  21. Weaver, Samuel R., Catarina Rendeiro, Helen M. McGettrick, Andrew Philp, and Samuel J. E. Lucas. 2020. “Fine Wine or Sour Grapes? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Red Wine Polyphenols on Vascular Health.” European Journal of Nutrition, April.
  22. Agarwal, Dharam P. 2002. “Cardioprotective Effects of Light-Moderate Consumption of Alcohol: A Review of Putative Mechanisms.” Alcohol and Alcoholism 37 (5): 409–15.
  23. Ruf, J. C. 1999. “Wine and Polyphenols Related to Platelet Aggregation and Atherothrombosis.” Drugs under Experimental and Clinical Research 25 (2-3): 125–31.
  24. Markoski, Melissa M., Juliano Garavaglia, Aline Oliveira, Jessica Olivaes, and Aline Marcadenti. 2016. “Molecular Properties of Red Wine Compounds and Cardiometabolic Benefits.” Nutrition and Metabolic Insights 9 (August): 51–57.
  25. Pérez-Jiménez, J., V. Neveu, F. Vos, and A. Scalbert. 2010. “Identification of the 100 Richest Dietary Sources of Polyphenols: An Application of the Phenol-Explorer Database.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 64 Suppl 3 (November): S112–20.
  26. Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne, Marla E. Eisenberg, Jayne A. Fulkerson, Mary Story, and Nicole I. Larson. 2008. “Family Meals and Disordered Eating in Adolescents: Longitudinal Findings from Project EAT.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 162 (1): 17–22.
  27. Kimura, Y., T. Wada, K. Okumiya, Y. Ishimoto, E. Fukutomi, Y. Kasahara, W. Chen, et al. 2012. “Eating Alone among Community-Dwelling Japanese Elderly: Association with Depression and Food Diversity.” The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 16 (8): 728–31.
  28. Egolf, B., J. Lasker, S. Wolf, and L. Potvin. 1992. “The Roseto Effect: A 50-Year Comparison of Mortality Rates.” American Journal of Public Health 82 (8): 1089–92.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post The Mediterranean Diet: Your Complete How-To Guide appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Definition | How Probiotics HelpWhen to Take | How Long Do They Take to Work? | Signs Probiotics Are Working | Side Effects | How to Improve Gut Health | Prebiotics

“Should I take a probiotic?”

Some people say probiotic supplements are the answer to whatever ails you: digestive complaints, brain fog, immune system problems—even cancer.

And then there are those who liken probiotics to multivitamins: a surefire method of creating very expensive urine—or in this case, poop.

The truth is, taking a probiotic can be worth it.

But any potential benefits depend on factors like: Who’s taking the probiotic? Under what circumstances? And for what goal?

In fact, even though I’m a coach with a PhD in this area, most of my clients don’t take probiotics.

That’s not because they don’t ever work. It’s because we only know they work in certain situations.

That’s why in this article, I’ll guide you through:

Ready? Let’s learn all about these little bugs.

++++

What are probiotics?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics are “live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”1

A simpler definition would be:

Probiotics are bacteria (and sometimes yeasts) that offer health benefits.

Probiotics come in supplement form and are also found in various fermented dairy products.

Fun fact: Based on the current evidence, fermented dairy, such as yogurt and kefir, is the only food that can be considered probiotic.

Other fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, natto, and miso may have health benefits, but aren’t probiotic because they don’t contain the types of bacteria that fit the definition above. Also, pickled foods don’t fit the definition either (sorry!), though they’re certainly delicious.

There are dozens of strains of probiotics.

They often have long names that may seem difficult to remember and even harder to spell. I’ll mention quite a few of them in this article—not to make your head hurt, but because specific health benefits depend on specific strains.

The full name of each strain includes its genus, species, subspecies (if applicable), and an alphanumeric designation that serves as an identifier.

Unless you’re a scientist, you’ll mostly hear strains referred to by just their genus and species (i.e. Lactobacillus reuteri or Bifidobacterium longum).

Occasionally, you’ll also see the specific strain included by name and/or numeric identifier.2

These distinctions can be important because, in some cases, different strains of the same genus and species have very different effects. For example, Escherichia Coli Nissle is probiotic, but Escherichia Coli Shiga (sometimes shortened to just E. Coli) is pathogenic, meaning it’ll make you sick.

To put this into real-life terms, at the genus level, we’re talking about the difference between a dog and a wolf. When we get down to the strain level, it’s like specifying between a dog and a dingo. In the chart below, you can see how the probiotic taxonomy compares to that of an animal.

A table showing how differences in genus, species, and subspecies or strain compare between probiotic strains and animals.

For both probiotics and animals, differences at the strain or subspecies level can be more important than you might expect.

Some of the most common probiotic strains come from following genera (not to confuse you more, but genera is the plural of genus):

  • Lactobacillus
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Saccharomyces (these ones are actually yeast!)
  • Streptococcus
  • Enterococcus
  • Escherichia
  • Bacillus

Lastly, some probiotic supplements contain multiple strains. Often, these are given a special product name, such as VSL#3, a multi-strain probiotic with Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, and one strain of Streptococcus that you’ll learn more about later in this article.

Why are probiotics a thing?

A lot of times, people hear “bacteria” and think, ‘Oh, that’s the stuff that makes you sick.’ But our bodies are actually packed with different types of bacteria and other microbes—especially our gut.

That’s what we mean when we talk about the gut microbiome, the complex ecosystem of microbes (and their genetic material) that live in our GI tract.

These microorganisms are with us when we’re born, and they do more than just freeload. When everything’s working properly, they:

  • help ferment undigested nutrients to produce beneficial compounds, in some cases (those are called postbiotics)
  • prevent harmful bacteria and yeast from overpowering the gut by starving them out or actually attacking them (cool, right?!)
  • play a part in regulating immune responses to infections and potential allergens
  • influence energy balance and potentially body composition
  • may (potentially) influence mood, behavior, and cognition.

As you can see, our GI microbes have several important and wide-ranging jobs. So it’s understandable that people want to prioritize their gut health. Thus, the interest in probiotics.

But what are we actually talking about when we use the term “gut health”?

It depends on the context. But usually, when we talk about having a healthy gut, we mean:

Having a diverse gut microbiome with a wide array of different types of microbes and microbial genes.

Diversity is crucial, because it prevents one niche group of microbes from overpowering the rest of the population, which could make you sick.

It’s also important because we know our gut microbes have key metabolic and immune functions related to their genetic material. Except… we don’t totally know which microbes do what.

So a wider variety of microbes means more genes to perform a variety of functions to support our health.

When there isn’t a wide enough array in a person’s gut, it’s called dysbiosis. You might hear people saying gut dysbiosis is bad and scary, and that you need probiotics to “fix” it. You may also hear that dysbiosis causes leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability.

(You can read more about leaky gut later in this article, but long story short: There’s no agreed-upon way to diagnose leaky gut, and it’s not something you need to worry about.)

It’s true that dysbiosis can cause problems or signal there’s a problem in your gut, and that probiotics might help. But not always. That’s because…

There’s no single “healthy” gut profile.

A healthy person’s gut profile (or the different types and amounts of microorganisms they have in their gut) could look completely different from another healthy person’s gut.

The same goes for people with various diseases: two people with the same GI disease, for example, may have vastly different gut profiles.

So while probiotics can help in certain situations (see them here), there’s still a lot we don’t know about how our gut works and what probiotics can do. And when it comes to gut health overall, I often say we’re being sold a problem so we can buy a solution.

That’s why it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open for disinformation and sales tactics related to gut health.

In particular, watch out for anyone/anything claiming that:

  • gut dysbiosis, gut imbalance, or leaky gut is the cause of any disease
  • they can diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent dysbiosis or leaky gut
  • you need supplementation, detoxing, or any sort of “gut reset”
  • they can design a specific diet for you based on the microbes in your gut
  • there’s a specific profile of a “healthy” gut or dysbiosis
  • they have the ability to directly modify your gut microbiota in a specific way
  • studies from rodent or cell culture are directly representative of the human gut microbiome

The bottom line: There’s still so much we don’t know about the gut microbiome that it’s impossible to define “good” or “bad” gut health.

What’s more…

The benefits of probiotics aren’t a sure thing.

At most, we have moderate evidence that certain probiotic strains might help alleviate certain health issues.

Turns out, it’s very tricky to do research and draw conclusions on the benefits of probiotics. That’s because:

There are hundreds of known strains of gut bacteria.

And potentially hundreds or thousands more that we haven’t been able to identify yet. It’s going to take a while to sift through them all and understand their effects.

Designing high-quality research is tough.

There’s no standardization in:

  • Probiotic strains
  • Dosage for trials
  • Treatment time

So when we look at the outcomes of different studies, they may not be comparable due to how the research was designed. That can make it difficult to draw conclusions.

Much of this research is done on animals.

These studies are useful in telling us how things might work in the gut, but we can’t extrapolate the findings to humans.

There may be some bias in which strains get studied.

Certain strains tend to come up more often in research than others. When scientists see that a certain strain seemed effective in one study, they might (consciously or unconsciously) select it for another study.

Also, some research may be funded by commercial entities (for example, a specific brand of yogurt), which affects which strains are studied.

Ultimately, this all means we have less information about some strains, and more information about others.

Response to probiotics is highly individual.

A supplement might work wonders for one person—but offer no benefit to another—due to differences in gut profiles and other factors.

What’s more, some people appear to be resistant to supplementation.

One study had a group of people take a Lactobacilli supplement.3 Then, researchers sedated each volunteer and then inserted a long, flexible tube into their intestines to see if the probiotic strains had successfully enriched their gut.

(If this sounds hauntingly like your last colonoscopy, you’d be right on.)

Researchers also asked volunteers to hand over their feces for analysis.

The results? The scientists found remnants of the probiotic in everyone’s poop. But during the colonoscopies, they discovered some participants’ guts weren’t enriched with the probiotic strains. For these people, the probiotics essentially passed right through them. So…

Finding #1 was that people responded differently to the probiotic strains.

Finding #2: Fecal counts were not a reliable measure of how well a probiotic “worked” in this study. And most studies use fecal counts as their main measure of how well a probiotic “worked.”

Which leads us to…

Measuring whether probiotics “work” is tricky.

Just because you pooped out microbes doesn’t mean they took up residence and started multiplying in your gut, as evidenced by the study mentioned above. But taking samples from a person’s gut requires, well, getting a tube stuck into your intestines. And it’s not always easy to find enough people who are willing to endure that in the name of science.

The benefits of probiotics: When is a supplement a good idea?

Check out the chart below to see the health concerns probiotics are shown to help with. After that, I’ll delve deeper into each issue individually.

A table showing the evidence for using probiotics for various health concerns, including weight loss, constipation, IBS, immunity, mental health, and more.

Right now, probiotics are only shown to be beneficial for a handful of specific health concerns.

One thing I need to get out of the way:

There’s no probiotic supplement that works like a multi-cooker—solving five different problems all at once.

Instead, probiotics work more like a bread maker with a persnickety on-off switch. They only do one thing, and they only do that one thing… sometimes.

Probiotic supplements are both strain-specific and population-specific. So there’s no need to pop them the way you would a multivitamin.

You have to be taking the right strain for the right job, and there has to be some evidence that the strain can actually do that job. Even then, there’s no guarantee a probiotic will help solve the problem.

So a crucial first step in deciding which probiotic to take is to ask yourself:

Why do I want to take a probiotic?

Because based on what we currently know, probiotics may help in just a few specific situations.

Taking a probiotic may be helpful if:

You’re taking antibiotics.

Antibiotics kill off some of your gut’s microbes, which can cause a form of dysbiosis. (Remember, dysbiosis is when you don’t have enough diversity in your gut.)

This type of imbalance provides opportunities for pathogenic bacteria (the nasties that make you sick) to multiply and take over. That’s why some people get diarrhea while taking antibiotics.

One example: Clostridium difficile (often called C. Diff) normally hangs out in your gut. But it doesn’t cause problems, because the rest of the microbes in your gut keep it in check. Except, when you take antibiotics, C. Diff might get the opportunity to thrive, which can make you really sick.

So if you have to take antibiotics, taking probiotics alongside them may help reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.4 Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii seem to work best.

But you may want to wait and see if you actually get diarrhea before starting a probiotic. Why? Starting a probiotic too soon can backfire when it comes to getting your gut back to normal.

One study dug deeper into this by looking at a healthy group of people who were taking antibiotics.5

Some participants took Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, some took the antibiotics only, and some got a transplant of their own pre-antibiotic poop after finishing their antibiotics (also known as an autologous fecal transplant).

The people who got back to their baseline fastest? The ones who got the fecal transplant, followed by the ones who took the antibiotic alone.

In last place: the group that took a probiotic.

The researchers theorized that the probiotic overpowered the participants’ native microbes, making it take longer to recover.

The takeaway? Since getting an autologous fecal transplant isn’t an option (they’re not FDA-approved for this purpose and, well, they’re a little inconvenient), the next best things are:

  • Do nothing, and only use a probiotic if you get antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • Take Saccharomyces boulardii along with your antibiotic, which has been shown to help, but doesn’t seem to have the same overpowering effect as Lactobacilli strains.

You have infectious diarrhea.

Got a stomach bug that’s causing diarrhea or traveler’s diarrhea? Taking Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or Saccharomyces boulardii might help.

There are differences between what works best depending on the cause of diarrhea, as well. For instance, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG seems to work better for diarrhea associated with C. Diff infections than it does for general infectious diarrhea.6 If you’re not sure which to try, consult your doctor or pharmacist for their advice.

You have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus probiotics appear effective for reducing symptom severity in people with IBS.7,8,9

Caveat: Because some of the research uses quality of life scores and most of the strains seem to offer the same effect, there may be a placebo effect at play.

Still, if you have IBS, it may be worth it to give probiotics a try. Some research suggests taking a single strain on a short-term basis (8 weeks) is most helpful.10 Other research notes that a combination of Bifido and Lactobacillus works best, particularly if constipation is a problem.11 (Remember how I mentioned it’s tough to draw conclusions from probiotics research? This is a good example of that.)

So if you’re thinking of taking a probiotic for IBS, consider checking in with your gastroenterologist or a registered dietitian experienced with GI disorders about which strains to try.

You have ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis, a form of irritable bowel disease, may respond well to certain probiotic strains.

In particular, VSL#3, which is a combination of several different strains, may induce remission and prevent flares. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t seen the same consistency in treating people with Crohn’s disease.

You’re being treated for an H. pylori infection.

Heliobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that can live in your digestive tract and cause ulcers. Certain strains (Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Saccharomyces boulardii) may have a synergistic effect with conventional treatment. And if you’re being treated with antibiotics, it could reduce any associated diarrhea.12

You want to reduce your cholesterol/improve heart health.

File this one under: Probiotics might help, but certainly shouldn’t be the primary thing you do to improve your cardiometabolic health.

Some evidence indicates that certain strains can improve lipid profiles, meaning we see reductions and either total or LDL cholesterol, as well as improved insulin sensitivity.13,14 In the case of cholesterol, the findings were specific to fermented dairy (think: yogurt) rather than a supplement.

Before you read on…

I’m about to tell you about a bunch of situations when taking a probiotic isn’t going to help.

You might respond to some of these by thinking something like:

“But I saw a study/article/documentary saying probiotics help with [fill in the blank]!”

That’s great! This is an exciting and emerging area of research, and we’re learning new things about probiotics every day.

But scientists don’t consider one or even a few studies showing a positive effect to be high-quality evidence. In order to draw a conclusion, a given effect needs to be repeated in several studies, and ideally reviewed and analyzed in a systematic review or meta-analysis.

So, for the health situations below, this may mean that:

  • There hasn’t been research on probiotics and this health issue.
  • There has been research, but not enough to draw a conclusion.
  • There has been research, but the effects observed are inconsistent, negative, or non-existent.

We may eventually discover that probiotics DO help with some of these health concerns. But at the moment, there’s not enough evidence for health professionals to make recommendations they can stand behind.

Phew. [Deep breath.]

Probiotics are unlikely to help if:

You’re dealing with depression, anxiety, or another mental health concern.

Yes, the gut-brain axis is a thing. But we still have a lot to learn about it.

Much of the mainstream discussion around using probiotics for mental health revolves around the idea that if your gut produces more serotonin (sometimes called the “happy hormone”), you’ll have better mental health.

While it’s true that 95 percent of your body’s serotonin is produced outside the brain (including in the gut), this isn’t the exact same serotonin that makes you feel happy.15

Serotonin produced in the gut doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it won’t impact your mood.

Why am I pointing this out? The science simply doesn’t support the idea that having more serotonin in your gut means you’ll have better mental health. And overall, the evidence for using probiotics to help treat the following mental health issues is weak:16

  • Depression: It looks like probiotics might have an antidepressant effect, but there’s not enough evidence to say that definitively.17
  • Anxiety: Preclinical studies in rodents show a benefit, but, so far, these benefits haven’t been observed in humans.
  • Mood: In general, it seems probiotics may have an effect on mood. But researchers are careful to note that at the moment, we don’t know enough to make recommendations.18

Importantly…

Probiotics should never be used in place of traditional mental health treatments. (Seriously.)

And even if you’re considering probiotics as something to try alongside therapy or medication, it’s probably not worth it.

Autism and probiotics: Can they help?

People with autism tend to report a range of GI symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

This leads some experts to wonder:

Is an imbalance in gut flora to blame?

Unfortunately, we still have more questions than answers. In several studies that included people with autism, GI and behavioral symptoms sometimes worsened while they were taking probiotics.19

There’s also been lots of buzz about the promise of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) in people with autism. (You can read more about FMTs below!)

One study did show behavioral symptoms improved over time when people with autism received FMTs, but there was no control group, or a group of people who didn’t receive FMT treatments.20

So while the findings seem promising, it’s impossible to say whether improvement could be attributed to FMTs without a control group.

You want to lose weight.

It’d be so nice if probiotics could help us lose fat. Unfortunately, there’s no compelling evidence that probiotics can help with fat loss. Some studies have shown a reduction in waist circumference or BMI, but the effects are too inconsistent to draw conclusions.21

You have a rash or acne.

As of now, probiotics are not recommended for eczema, atopic dermatitis, acne or any other skin complaint.22,23

You have GERD.

For those experiencing discomfort related to gastroesophageal reflux disease, probiotics may seem like a nice alternative to conventional medications. Unfortunately, while some early study results have seemed promising, they’ve been inconsistent. So there’s not enough evidence to show that probiotics can help in this situation.24

You have occasional gas or other digestive issues.

If you’re wondering if probiotics can help with intermittent gas or stomach upset, the answer is no. Research shows probiotics don’t help with indigestion that has no specific, diagnosable cause.25

You’re concerned you have a leaky gut.

Though intestinal permeability, aka “leaky gut,” has been associated with various diseases and certain medications, it’s not something that can be diagnosed as a health problem (despite what Instagram “experts” may say).

When a person does have intestinal permeability, they won’t have any outward symptoms of that issue specifically—though it’s possible they may have other digestive complaints.

And regardless of whether you believe leaky gut is a “thing,” there’s no evidence probiotic supplements help repair the gut lining in people with intestinal permeability.

You have a yeast infection or recurring UTIs.

People often look for natural alternatives to treating these issues, but probiotics are unfortunately not proven to help with yeast infections or prevent recurring urinary tract infections.26,27

You want to be the healthiest person on your block.

You’re better off making lifestyle changes to support your overall health than taking a probiotic.

You want to “boost” your immune system.

We know that probiotics can play a role in enhancing immunity in certain specific situations.

For example, when you take a probiotic to help with infectious diarrhea, that’s a function of immunity. And one study showed probiotics might reduce the severity of upper respiratory tract infections in athletes.28

That said, for overall immune health—something a lot of people are interested in now given the pandemic—there are quite a few other changes you can make that will have a greater impact. (To learn what they are, check out this infographic on how to optimize your immunity.)

Fecal transplants: Are they evidence that probiotics work?

Sometimes, people cite the success of fecal transplants as evidence that probiotics work.

But what is a fecal transplant, exactly? The technical term is fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). Basically, a healthy person’s stool is mixed with saline and then inserted into the patient’s colon.

So yes, we’re talking about poop transplants here.

We don’t know exactly how or why FMTs work, but they’ve been shown to be 80-90 percent effective in helping people with C. Diff infections that don’t respond to other methods of treatment.29

It’s thought that FMTs might help these patients by repopulating their gut with microbes that edge out C. Diff.

These results made scientists wonder about their other potential applications: In people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, autism, obesity, and more.

Despite great hopes for FMTs, results have been mixed in trials using them in patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.30 And in trials with people with obesity, no effects were observed on body weight or composition.31,32

At the moment, fecal transplants are only approved by the FDA for treating C. Diff after other treatments haven’t worked.

And does the success of FMTs underscore the effectiveness of probiotics? Not really.

Probiotics contain a much smaller number of strains and a much lower total microbial content than FMT preparations.

So essentially, just because FMTs seem to work in people with C. diff does not necessarily mean everyone should be taking probiotics.

Taking a probiotic 101: The most common questions, answered

Question #1: How do I choose a probiotic?

You’ll need to consider several factors.

Factor #1: Species, strain, or multi-strain probiotic

The species or strain(s) that will make the most sense for you depends on the reason you’re taking a probiotic. Refer to the chart above to see which specific probiotics are relevant for you.

Factor #2: Price

In most cases, taking a probiotic is a short-term thing, so price may not be a huge factor. But if it’s something you’d need or want to take long term, consider: Is the financial commitment reasonable for you?

And could you get the same benefit from lower cost (and potentially free) interventions, such as eating more whole foods and fewer highly-processed ones? (Learn more: The 5 principles of good nutrition.)

Factor #3: Dosage

We know that the effective dose for all probiotics is somewhere between 106 to 109 colony-forming units (CFUs). (FYI, those little numbers mean ‘10 to the sixth power’ and ‘10 to the ninth power. Or simply: 1 million to 1 billion CFUs).

Look for probiotics that deliver this dose in one or two administrations per day.

Also: Be sure to take probiotics before their expiration date. If you take them afterwards, you may not get the number of CFUs on the label.

And… that’s it. Don’t worry about whether your product is refrigerated. (Turns out, that doesn’t matter.)

When it comes to third-party quality certifications, these aren’t as important as they might be for protein powders and other supplements. But if you’re an athlete and want to be extra safe, it’s not a bad idea to look for a probiotic certified by NSF or USP.

The most important thing is matching up the right strains with the right health problem.

Question #2: When should I take my probiotic?

It’s best practice to take probiotics right before a meal, which seems to increase the odds of the little bugs doing their job in your digestive tract.33

If you’re on antibiotics, it’s natural to wonder if the antibiotic will wipe out the probiotic. After all, antibiotics kill bacteria, right?

The short answer: You don’t really need to worry about this; your probiotic will be fine. (And if you’re concerned, you could ask your doctor or pharmacist about antibiotic and probiotic timing.)

The long answer: Antibiotics do kill bacteria. But they work in different ways.

Some antibiotics disrupt the cell wall or membrane of the bacteria they target, others prevent protein synthesis so the bacteria die off, and others damage the bacteria’s genetic material.

Because of this, antibiotics don’t kill all the bacteria they come into contact with, so they may or may not affect the probiotics you take. And they may or may not affect your native microbiome.

Also, some probiotics are yeasts, like Saccharomyces boulardii, so they’re not affected by antibiotics.

(And to be honest, as an expert in this field, I’m less concerned about antibiotics throwing our native microbiomes off-kilter than I am about bacteria in our guts developing antibiotic-resistant genes. This is caused by antibiotic abuse or misuse, and can cause antibiotics to stop working when we really need them. But that’s another topic entirely…)

There’s also this: No matter when you take your probiotic and antibiotic, they’re both going to be hanging around in your GI tract for about a day.

That means to some degree, everything is going to get mixed together anyway, which is why this really isn’t something to be concerned about.

Quick question: Can probiotics survive stomach acid?

Yes, they can.

Most probiotic capsules are coated in a way that prevents stomach acid from getting to them. Once they reach the small intestine, the coating is dissolved.

There are even some types of Lactobacilli that live in the stomach. So the idea that stomach acid kills all probiotic strains isn’t quite right.

Question #3: How long will it take a probiotic to work?

There’s no standardization in how long you should take probiotics.

If you’re taking probiotics for antibiotic-associated diarrhea, you’ll want to take them until you’re feeling better. This could be anywhere from one to eight weeks, for instance. But if you don’t notice any improvement in your symptoms after a month, it may not be worth continuing.

If you’re taking probiotics for IBS, some research suggests people do better when they take them for shorter periods of time, as in less than eight weeks.

As a general rule of thumb, I’d recommend taking a probiotic for a month. Then, use the steps directly below to determine whether it’s working for you.

This works out conveniently, since most probiotics are packaged in a one-month supply. That way, you can make a decision about whether to continue before you buy more.

Question #4: What are the signs your probiotic is working?

To answer this question, you want to be really clear on what you hope to achieve by taking a probiotic.

Let’s say you’re hoping for improvement in your IBS symptoms.

You’ll want to set up a little self-experiment to evaluate whether probiotics are helping or not.

So start by asking: What would “improvement” look like?

Maybe it’s that you’re able to get through an entire day at work without digestive discomfort.

Or a week without having to miss out on something you wanted to do because of your IBS.

Or it could be more specific: less diarrhea, constipation, or stomach cramps.

Whatever parameters you decide on, the next step is to get in touch with your inner scientist. (We’ve all got one lurking in there!)

Collect your data. Grab a journal or keep notes in your phone, and track any changes you notice.

You might keep track of data points like your daily symptoms (or lack of symptoms) and/or your bowel movements and their qualities (using the examples in this handy visual guide to poop health).

Every two weeks, reevaluate. How are things measuring up against the metrics you decided on?

Over time, you’ll see a trend. Either the probiotics are helping, or they’re not. And from there, you can decide on your next move.

Question #5: Are there any side effects?

Probiotics can sometimes worsen GI symptoms. It’s pretty uncommon, but they can occasionally cause bloating or diarrhea.

It’s also important to be aware of potential drug interactions. For instance, people on oral chemotherapy drugs should check with their doctor before taking probiotics.

(And really, if you’re on any prescription medication, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.)

Lastly, in people who are extremely immunocompromised, there’s the potential for bacterial or fungal translocation.

That basically means if you have a big ulcer, it may be big enough for bacteria or yeast from probiotics to pass through and get into the bloodstream. And that would cause a total body infection, which is really dangerous.

Of course, this is a rare complication but worth noting for people with a compromised immune system.

How to support a healthy gut without supplements

If you came to this article wanting to ensure you’re looking after your gut health, this section is for you.

When people ask me if they should take a probiotic or if there’s anything in particular they can do for better gut health, there are two big questions I want to answer:

  • Are they getting enough fiber from a variety of sources?
  • Are they getting enough physical activity on a regular basis?

I ask these questions because these are the two biggest factors that seem to determine microbial diversity.

So if you’re interested in taking probiotics for general health or for one of the issues listed in the “probiotics are not likely to help” category, you’ll want to be sure you’re implementing these two lifestyle changes first.

Not only are they often less expensive than probiotics, but they’re more likely to improve your health overall. Also, if you’re taking probiotics for purpose there’s good evidence for, these practices will be supportive.

Lifestyle change #1: Eat a nutrient-dense diet with enough fiber from a variety of sources.

If you want to support a diverse microbiome, this is probably the most important thing you can do.

Eating a wide variety of fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is your best bet. Add in some lean proteins and healthy fats and you’ve ticked the nutrient-dense box, too.

This whole fiber thing is really important.

One probiotic study done on healthy bodybuilders looked at the group’s gut profiles.34

Though it wasn’t the main aim of the study, the researchers noticed that bodybuilders who didn’t get enough fiber had microbiomes similar to people who were sedentary.

In other words, they weren’t getting the microbiome benefits of exercise (more on that in a sec), possibly because they weren’t eating enough fiber.

Interesting, right?

What are prebiotics?

You may have heard that you should be eating prebiotics, a form of fiber that “feeds” the microbes in your gut. If you regularly eat fiber-rich foods like the ones mentioned above, you’re getting enough prebiotics in your diet. We don’t know which microbes prefer which types of fiber yet, so eating a wide array of different fiber sources is the best approach.

What about probiotic foods?

Probiotic foods may also be worth including in your diet. They’re associated with a host of beneficial health outcomes, such as a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.13

And just a reminder: The only food that’s classified as probiotic right now is fermented dairy. This includes fermented yogurts and kefir.

What happens if a fiber-rich diet causes GI issues?

Sometimes, people eating a whole-food, fiber-rich diet experience bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive symptoms. This can be confusing, especially if you’re putting a lot of effort into eating well for health reasons.

In this situation, people often wonder if there’s something wrong with their gut health or if they need to take a probiotic.

The answer: probably not.

The bacteria in your gut ferment some of the fiber you consume. As they do so, they produce gas. That’s not a sign of poor gut health. It’s just a natural response to eating more fiber.

But if eating more fiber-rich foods causes noticeable and sustained GI symptoms, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.

If you get a clean bill of health or if your doctor has ruled out everything except IBS, the next step would be to start a personalized FODMAP elimination and reintroduction diet with the help of a specially-trained nutritionist or dietitian.

(To learn more about FODMAPs, and for everything you’d ever want to know about doing an elimination diet check out Precision Nutrition’s FREE downloadable e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Elimination Diets.)

Lifestyle change #2: Incorporate movement on a regular basis.

In general, exercise is a good thing for your microbiome. Active people tend to have more microbial diversity, research shows.35 So commiting to a regular movement routine is a great next step for gut health.

But there is a sort of ‘Goldilocks effect’ with exercise.

For instance, endurance exercise is associated with something called exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome, and people with IBS may notice discomfort with intense exercise.

So like anything else, you need to find the right balance that works for you.

Focus on physical activity that:

  • you actually enjoy
  • you can do regularly (i.e. several days a week)
  • makes you feel good and energized, not drained or sick.

Extra credit: Focus on deep health.

If you’ve already got your fiber and exercise habits down, that’s great news. Wondering what else you can do?

There’s a lot of talk about the impact of sleep, stress, and other factors on gut health, but we don’t have much in the way of human data on how they impact microbial diversity.

How does alcohol impact gut health?

We know too much alcohol can be detrimental to gut health.

But interestingly, moderate red wine consumption seems to be associated with greater microbial diversity, possibly due to the polyphenols in wine.36

And actually, these effects are more realistic than the resveratrol buzz we always hear about red wine, because all polyphenols seem to interact with our microbiota.

So I’d recommend drinking rarely, or in moderation of red wine specifically.

(Wondering if you’d be healthier if you quit drinking? Find out in this article on the real tradeoffs of alcohol consumption.)

So as a next step for people who have the two main lifestyle changes down, I recommend focusing on practices that support your deep health, or your overall health.

These can also help you make intentional decisions about what you eat and how you move, bringing it all full circle.

What do those practices look like? Some places to start include:

  • Managing stress
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Taking care of your emotional and mental health
  • Seeking connection through meaningful relationships
  • Shaping your environment to support your health and wellbeing

This might seem a little anticlimactic if you’re really charged up about getting better gut health.

I get it. The microbiome is a fascinating area of research. But in the scheme of things, we have very little in the way of practically-applicable data.

While we wait for more evidence, we do know this: The behaviors that are associated with many other positive health outcomes may also be beneficial to our microbes.

That’s actually good news, because it means in most cases, we don’t need fancy, expensive supplements for a better microbiome.

So the stuff that’s good for your overall health? It’s probably also good for your gut.

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References

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16. Fond G, Boukouaci W, Chevalier G, Regnault A, Eberl G, Hamdani N, et al. The “psychomicrobiotic”: Targeting microbiota in major psychiatric disorders: A systematic review. Pathol Biol. 2015 Feb 1;63(1):35–42.

17. Liu RT, Walsh RFL, Sheehan AE. Prebiotics and probiotics for depression and anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Jul;102:13–23.

18. McKean J, Naug H, Nikbakht E, Amiet B, Colson N. Probiotics and Subclinical Psychological Symptoms in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Apr;23(4):249–58.

19. Ng QX, Loke W, Venkatanarayanan N, Lim DY, Soh AYS, Yeo WS. A Systematic Review of the Role of Prebiotics and Probiotics in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Medicina [Internet]. 2019 May 10;55(5).

20. Kang D-W, Adams JB, Coleman DM, Pollard EL, Maldonado J, McDonough-Means S, et al. Long-term benefit of Microbiota Transfer Therapy on autism symptoms and gut microbiota. Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 9;9(1):5821.

21. López-Moreno A, Suárez A, Avanzi C, Monteoliva-Sánchez M, Aguilera M. Probiotic Strains and Intervention Total Doses for Modulating Obesity-Related Microbiota Dysbiosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Jun 29;12(7).

22. Makrgeorgou A, Leonardi-Bee J, Bath-Hextall FJ, Murrell DF, Tang ML, Roberts A, et al. Probiotics for treating eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 21;11:CD006135.

23. Petersen EBM, Skov L, Thyssen JP, Jensen P. Role of the Gut Microbiota in Atopic Dermatitis: A Systematic Review. Acta Derm Venereol. 2019 Jan 1;99(1):5–11.

24. Cheng J, Ouwehand AC. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Probiotics: A Systematic Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Jan 2;12(1).

25. Agah S, Akbari A, Heshmati J, Sepidarkish M, Morvaridzadeh M, Adibi P, et al. Systematic review with meta-analysis: Effects of probiotic supplementation on symptoms in functional dyspepsia. J Funct Foods. 2020 May 1;68:103902.

26. Xie HY, Feng D, Wei DM, Mei L, Chen H, Wang X, et al. Probiotics for vulvovaginal candidiasis in non‐pregnant women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2021 Jan 8];(11).

27. Schwenger EM, Tejani AM, Loewen PS. Probiotics for preventing urinary tract infections in adults and children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Dec 23;(12):CD008772.

28. Möller GB, da Cunha Goulart MJV, Nicoletto BB, Alves FD, Schneider CD. Supplementation of Probiotics and Its Effects on Physically Active Individuals and Athletes: Systematic Review. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019 Sep 1;29(5):481–92.

29. Cammarota G, Masucci L, Ianiro G, Bibbò S, Dinoi G, Costamagna G, et al. Randomised clinical trial: faecal microbiota transplantation by colonoscopy vs. vancomycin for the treatment of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015 May;41(9):835–43.

30. Lopez J, Grinspan A. Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Jun;12(6):374–9.

31. Yu EW, Gao L, Stastka P, Cheney MC, Mahabamunuge J, Torres Soto M, et al. Fecal microbiota transplantation for the improvement of metabolism in obesity: The FMT-TRIM double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial. PLoS Med. 2020 Mar;17(3):e1003051.

32. Zhang Z, Mocanu V, Cai C, Dang J, Slater L, Deehan EC, et al. Impact of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation on Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome-A Systematic Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Sep 25;11(10).

33. Tompkins TA, Mainville I, Arcand Y. The impact of meals on a probiotic during transit through a model of the human upper gastrointestinal tract. Benef Microbes. 2011 Dec 1;2(4):295–303.

34. Son J, Jang L-G, Kim B-Y, Lee S, Park H. The Effect of Athletes’ Probiotic Intake May Depend on Protein and Dietary Fiber Intake. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Sep 25;12(10).

35. Mitchell CM, Davy BM, Hulver MW, Neilson AP, Bennett BJ, Davy KP. Does Exercise Alter Gut Microbial Composition? A Systematic Review. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Jan;51(1):160–7.

36. Le Roy CI, Wells PM, Si J, Raes J, Bell JT, Spector TD. Red Wine Consumption Associated With Increased Gut Microbiota α-Diversity in 3 Independent Cohorts. Gastroenterology. 2020 Jan;158(1):270–2.e2.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post Do probiotics really work? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Saturated fat can create quite the dietary dilemma.

For most of your life, you’ve probably been told it’s unhealthy. That saturated fat clogs your arteries and leads to heart attacks.

On the other hand, type in the right Google search words, and you’ll find research-based articles that say that thinking is outdated and wrong.

A frequent claim: The idea that saturated fat is “bad” was based on bad science, and that, in reality, it’s perfectly healthy. So healthy, in fact, you don’t need to restrict it. (Some say you should even eat more of it.)

There’s also this: Foods that contain saturated fat often taste delicious.

You get the picture.

It’s enough to leave you standing in your grocery store’s butter section, frozen in indecision. In the end, maybe you grab a stick but secretly wonder if you’re holding a grenade.

Like many other things we eat (carbs! red meat! soy!) saturated fat is… controversial.

But in order to make informed food choices for yourself and your family—or if you’re a coach, help your clients do the same—you want some clarity.

Here’s the truth about saturated fat.

++++

Why do we think saturated fat is bad?

In 1978, the Seven Countries Study was published. This study, led by American physiologist Ancel Keys, noted:

  • a higher incidence of heart disease in countries where the consumption of saturated fats was high (like the US)
  • a lower incidence of heart disease in countries where the consumption of saturated fats was low (like Italy, Greece, and Spain)

From this observation, Keys hypothesized that saturated fats cause cardiovascular disease (CVD), and should be avoided. He also proposed that unsaturated fats from plants were protective, and should be emphasized.

(Cool fact: These observations led to the concept of the Mediterranean diet.)

It’s in large part due to the Seven Countries study and Ancel Keys that we have this association between saturated fats and heart disease.

But is it true?

Well, yes, but it’s complicated. If you’ve been following us for a while, you may have noticed that nutrition science is seldom black or white.

For example, it’s rare that we can say one entire category of food is “bad” for everyone—or, for that matter, “good” for everyone.  (Learn more: Why we’ve told 100,000 clients: There are no “bad” foods.)

The same is true of saturated fat. While for some people it may increase cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease, for others, it doesn’t.

And, as with many other things, “it’s the dose that makes the poison.”

Excess saturated fat isn’t good for anyone. (But that advice applies even to less controversial things, like water, so we’re not saying anything interesting there.)

It’s been about half a century since Keys made his observations. Since then, science has continued to chip away at the truth about saturated fat.

We’ll tell you everything we know, including what saturated fat does in the body, what foods it comes from, and how much of it to eat.

Fats: A crash course

Before we discuss the different types of fats, let’s zoom out and talk about fats in general. (If you’re aren’t up for a biochemistry lesson, you can skip right to the next section if you want.)

All fats are composed of fatty acids and a compound called glycerol. Fats we eat tend to have one glycerol “backbone” with three fatty acids attached to it. These are known as triglycerides.

To help you visualize, when drawn, the chemical structure of a triglyceride looks a lot like a capital letter “E” (the arms of the “E” are fatty acids).

See?

Each fatty acid is composed of a “chain” of carbon atoms that are chemically bonded to each other.

This “chain” can be 2 to 24 carbon atoms in length. In other words, fatty acids can vary in size.

What’s more, each carbon atom has two open “spots” where it can bond with up to two hydrogen atoms.

How these spots are filled are what determines a fatty acid’s chemical structure. (Sometimes, hydrogen only fills one of the two open spots.)

If you had to re-read that a couple of times—and still don’t quite get it—don’t worry. For one, that’s normal. This is abstract stuff. (We’re talking about atoms!) And secondly, it doesn’t really matter.

Just know this: The terms “saturated,” “monounsaturated,” and “polyunsaturated” all describe fatty acids with slightly different chemical structures, due to the kinds of bonds they have.

These structural differences in chemical structure result in different functions and effects in the body.

What are saturated fats?

Saturated fatty acids (and fats) are called “saturated” because if you look at their chemical structure, each carbon atom forms a single bond with two hydrogen items.

The result:  Their carbon chain is “filled” to capacity (saturated!) with hydrogens. (You can’t fit any more.)

Saturated fat isn’t one single thing. It’s actually a family of many different types of fatty acids.

Remember how we said fatty acids have different chain lengths? You can have 4-carbon saturated fatty acids, 6-carbon saturated fatty acids, 8-carbon… you get the point.

Here are a few examples of types of saturated fatty acids (SFA):

  • Butyric acid (a 4-carbon SFA produced by gut bacteria via fiber fermentation)
  • Caprylic acid (an 8-carbon SFA found in coconut)
  • Palmitic acid (a 16-carbon SFA found in palm oil and animal fats)
  • Stearic acid (an 18-carbon SFA found in red meat and cocoa butter)
  • Arachidic acid (a 20-carbon SFA found in peanuts)

(Note: We’ve used the common names for these fatty acids. For the scientific names, consult the chart in this nerdy document, courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.)

Saturated fats vs. unsaturated fats: What’s the difference?

Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats have one double bond (thus the prefix “mono”) because two spots aren’t taken up by hydrogen. (When two carbons have an open spot, they form a double bond with each other.)

Polyunsaturated fatty acids have multiple double bonds (thus the prefix “poly”), because they have multiple spots that aren’t taken up by hydrogens.

Here’s an easy way to tell if a fat is saturated or unsaturated:

If it’s solid or semisolid at room temperature (21℃), it’s probably saturated. (There are a few exceptions.) Think: butter, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.

If it’s liquid, it’s very likely unsaturated. For example, sunflower oil, canola oil, and olive oil.

This is why: Because unsaturated fatty acids have one or more double bonds, there’s a “kink” or a bend in their physical shape. They can’t pack together as tightly, making them ”loose” and liquid at room temperature.

Meanwhile, saturated fatty acids are straight, and can pack tightly together. That keeps them solid at room temperature.

Most dietary fat sources are made up of some combination of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fatty acids.

Trans fats: The real “bad” fat

The last type of fat is trans fatty acids. And if there’s one type of fat you want to avoid, it’s this one.

Trans fatty acids are usually the product of industrial food processing, where polyunsaturated fats are artificially “saturated” with extra hydrogen.

As we’ve seen, the chemical structure of saturated fatty acids makes them straight, while the chemical structure of unsaturated fatty acids gives them at least one bend. This shape affects their function in the body.

When unsaturated fatty acids go through chemical hydrogenation, the fatty acids take a trans configuration, which straightens the molecule so that it looks (and acts) more like a saturated fat.

Food manufacturers like using trans fatty acids in their products because it extends the shelf life of a food.

Human bodies though, don’t deal with trans fats so well.

In fact: Trans fatty acids are directly linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, complications during pregnancy, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and allergy.1,2,3

The FDA has even determined that industrially hydrogenated fats are no longer “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS), and have taken steps to have them removed from our food supply.4

However, trans fats are still around. Vegetable shortening, some margarines, some cooking oils, and the processed foods and baked goods made from them all have trans fats.

That’s why it’s still important to read ingredient labels: Any product that lists “partially hydrogenated oil” contains trans fats.

If you’re thinking about your health, you should minimize or avoid these products as much as possible. The World Health Association (WHO) recommends that people limit their consumption of trans fats to 1 percent or less of daily calories.5

Note: There are also a few naturally occurring trans fats, called ruminant trans fatty acids, like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and vaccenic acid (VA).

These trans fatty acids get their name because they’re created via bacteria in the stomachs of “ruminant” animals, such as cows, sheep, and goats. Unlike industrially produced trans fatty acids, ruminant trans fatty acids aren’t associated with negative health effects.6

Which foods are high in saturated fat?

As we mentioned, most fat-rich foods are a mix of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.

And actually, even foods that are considered “fats” are a mix of nutrients overall. (For example, avocado also contains carbs and protein in addition to fats, as do walnuts, and most other whole-food fat sources.)

Foods we call “fats” usually have fat as the predominant macronutrient. Similarly, foods we call “saturated fat sources” have saturated fat as the predominant fat type.

Dietary sources of saturated fat

Foods with a higher proportion of saturated fats include:

  • Butter
  • Whipping cream
  • Whole fat milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Coconut (oil, milk, flesh)
  • Cacao butter (dark chocolate)
  • Fattier cuts of beef, lamb, and pork
  • Palm oil

Foods with a higher proportion of unsaturated fats (but still have some saturated fats) include:

  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseeds
  • Avocado
  • And others

Okay, but will butter kill me faster or not?

Finally, an answer to your burning question.

No. Saturated fats aren’t inherently bad.

A healthy diet will naturally include some saturated fats, because saturated fats are in many healthy foods (such as nuts and seeds, animal products, coconut, and avocado).

But, like most foods, saturated fats are best consumed in moderation.

Here’s why…

Saturated fats, cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease

Those Mediterraneans—the ones observed by Ancel Keys—may have been on to something. With their diets based around vegetables, whole grains, fruits, seafood, olives, nuts, and a little bit of dairy, they showed remarkably low rates of heart disease.

In contrast, the Americans in that study—with their diets rich in saturated fat, meat, dairy, and dessert, and lower in vegetables—had some of the highest rates of heart disease in the world.

With the help of science, we now understand those observations a little better.

Here’s what we know:

▶ Saturated fats consumed in excess (over 10 percent of daily calories) increase LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol, as well as the likelihood of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular events overall.7,8

As saturated fat intake goes down, so does the risk of cardiovascular events.8

However, saturated fats don’t increase your risk of dying. They also appear to have little to no effect on cancer risk, diabetes, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure.8

▶ Trans fats, on the other hand, increase both your risk of cardiovascular diseases and death.9

▶Meanwhile, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat intake is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death.10

What does this all mean?

Well, it means that when it comes to fats, we should:

  • Prioritize foods rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, like most nuts and seeds, seafood, olives and olive oil, and avocado.
  • Moderate foods rich in saturated fats, like fattier cuts of meat, high fat dairy products and the foods made from them, palm oil, and coconut.
  • Reduce or eliminate foods rich in trans fats, like processed foods, vegetable shortening, and margarine / cooking oils made with hydrogenated oils.

So, should everyone just cut down on saturated fats?

Most people in Western countries eat a fairly high proportion of saturated fats. So many people should think about reducing their saturated fat intake.

(Also, as far as we know, reducing saturated fats doesn’t seem to have any harmful effects.)8

But…

Cutting back on saturated fat isn’t always a good thing, because it depends on what you’re adding in its place.

We know that when saturated fats are eaten in excess, replacing some of those saturated fats with unsaturated fats can improve health.11

However, when people lower their consumption of saturated fats, replacing those calories with refined carbohydrates, the risk of heart attack goes up.12

Also, not all saturated fatty acids in the saturated fat family have the same effect. For example, stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid found in beef and cocoa butter, seems to decrease or have no effect on LDL cholesterol.13

The reality is this: How saturated fat affects the body is influenced by lots of other things, like:

  • Amounts and types of other fats in the diet
  • Fruit, vegetable, and fiber consumption
  • Calorie excess
  • Exercise frequency and intensity
  • Stress load and management
  • Genetics

And more.

So, it’s complicated.

Based on the body of evidence, it seems that when it comes to keeping dietary fats in a healthy range, we want to consider two things:

  1. Amount: Not too much and not too little. Roughly 30 percent of your daily calories should come from different types of fat (saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated).
  2. Ratio: Aim for roughly equal proportions of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

Specific numbers aside, the take-home message is this: If you’re eating a pretty balanced whole foods diet, and you’re not eating excess calories, you probably don’t need to worry too much about your saturated fat intake.

But, you also probably shouldn’t purposely increase your intake of saturated fats for so-called “therapeutic” effects (example: the butter coffee trend).

That puts saturated fats squarely in the “enjoy in moderation” category.

How much saturated fat should I eat?

As always, the answer is: It depends.

But a good general guideline is that saturated fats should make up about 10 percent or less of total daily calories.14

That means a sample 2,000 Calorie diet can have about 200 Calories—or about 22.2 grams—coming from saturated fats. (Adjust up or down according to your specific energy requirements.)

Here are a couple examples of what this might look like:

  • 7 oz sirloin steak = 12 grams saturated fat
  • 1 oz chunk of cheddar cheese = 6 grams saturated fat
  • 3 large eggs = 5 grams saturated fat

= 23 grams saturated fat

Or:

  • 6 oz salmon = 5 grams saturated fat
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil = 12 grams saturated fat
  • 1 avocado = 4 grams saturated fat

= 21 grams of saturated fat

As you can see, it’s easy to meet this 10 percent.

It’s also easy to go over 10 percent, especially if fattier cuts of meat and cooking fats like butter, coconut oil, or palm oil are regulars in your diet.

However, if along with these sources of saturated fat, you’re also getting…

  • A good balance of unsaturated fats (from extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds)
  • Adequate protein, carbohydrates, and colorful fruits and vegetables from a variety of minimally-processed whole foods (Learn more: “What foods should I eat?”)
  • Daily movement from stretching, walking, resistance training, dancing, old-fashioned butter-churning

… you probably don’t have to be anxious about saturated fats.

If you want to find out exactly how much fat—and carbohydrate, protein, and vegetables—your (or your client’s) body needs for your preferred eating style, check out our awesome Nutrition Calculator.

Our big-picture advice for your everyday life: Don’t get too caught up in (or overwhelmed by) the numbers.

Instead, focus on the following four points.

1. Get a mix of fats.

Humans evolved eating a varied and seasonal diet. We thrive best on a mix of fat types—in relatively equal balance—from different types of foods.

This balance comes naturally if we choose a wide selection of diverse, whole, minimally-processed foods that contain fat, such as:

  • nuts and seeds
  • avocados
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • fatty fish
  • beef, pork, and lamb
  • poultry
  • wild game
  • olives and extra-virgin olive oil

Include one or two of the above fat sources at every meal, and you’ll probably meet your fat needs.

2. Avoid trans fats.

Try to minimize or eliminate refined and processed foods containing industrially produced fats and artificially hydrogenated fats (read: trans fats).

This happens naturally the more you center your diet around whole foods. (Learn how: The 5 principles of good nutrition.)

3. Consider the whole person.

Most importantly, match your saturated fat intake to your (or your clients’) unique body, preferences, and needs.

People who have cholesterol or cardiovascular issues in their family may be (genetically) more sensitive to the negative effects of saturated fats, and therefore should limit their consumption.

However, sometimes eating slightly higher amounts of saturated fat is appropriate. For example:

  • Larger, more muscular, and more active people can eat proportionately more in general, including more saturated fats. Though, it’s still a good idea to keep saturated fats in the range of 10 percent of total daily calories.
  • If it’s meaningful for you or your client to have croissants, dark chocolate, and coffee with cream, don’t “ban” it. Moderate it, understand the tradeoffs, and savor the heck out of it.
  • Some people feel good on a higher fat diet. For those folks, eating more fats (including saturated fats) might be appropriate. However, if saturated fats are a main calorie source, consider working with your doctor to test cholesterol levels and blood lipids periodically to ensure they’re in a normal range.

4. When in doubt (but still curious): Experiment.

Above, we suggested limiting saturated fat consumption to about 10 percent of total daily calories.

Now, for most people, that’s a good, conservative recommendation, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease.

But what if you want to try a higher fat diet—say, the keto diet—and increase your consumption of fats overall?

Well, just try it.

To do this in a way that helps you know whether this kind of diet works for you or not, just adopt this mindset: Think like a scientist. 

Decide what outcome you’re looking for while trying a higher fat diet: Reduced cravings? Fat loss? Better energy? (Read more: 3 diet experiments that can change your eating habits—and transform your body.)

Then, take some baseline measurements:

  • Weight, girth measurements, photos
  • Energy level, sleep quality, digestion, mood (you can simply gauge these on a scale from 1 to 10)
  • Cholesterol (LDL, HDL, and total), triglycerides, fasting blood sugar (work with your medical doctor to get and interpret these measurements)
  • Anything else you want to track, like cravings or meal satisfaction.

Next, begin your experiment: Increase your fat consumption.

“Check in” every week or two to assess (most of) the above measurements. (If you’re working with a medical doctor to check cholesterol and other blood markers, repeat a blood test after about three months.)

If things seem to be going well for you, keep going. Every few months, evaluate how you’re doing overall.

Feeling and looking better? Avocado and coconut shakes still delish? Blood tests get a thumbs up from doc? Cool! Keep going and re-assess in another six months or so. (For a quick and easy way to determine how your diet is working for you, try our Best Diet Quiz.)

Feeling crappy and blood lipids creeping up? Okay then. Scale back the fat—saturated fat especially.

Tinker with things until you (and your doc) are happy.

Ignore the marketing claims for butter coffee—as well as the ones for celery juice—and see what your own body says.

Most likely, that stick of butter isn’t a grenade. Nor is it a golden elixir of health.

It’s just butter.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Oteng, Antwi-Boasiako, and Sander Kersten. 2020. “Mechanisms of Action of Trans Fatty Acids.” Advances in Nutrition 11 (3): 697–708.

2. Souza, Russell J. de, Andrew Mente, Adriana Maroleanu, Adrian I. Cozma, Vanessa Ha, Teruko Kishibe, Elizabeth Uleryk, et al. 2015. “Intake of Saturated and Trans Unsaturated Fatty Acids and Risk of All Cause Mortality, Cardiovascular Disease, and Type 2 Diabetes: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies.” BMJ 351 (August): h3978.

3. Dhaka, Vandana, Neelam Gulia, Kulveer Singh Ahlawat, and Bhupender Singh Khatkar. 2011. “Trans Fats-Sources, Health Risks and Alternative Approach – A Review.” Journal of Food Science and Technology 48 (5): 534–41.

4. Center for Food Safety, and Applied Nutrition. n.d. “Trans Fat.” Accessed January 13, 2021.

5. “Nutrition: Trans Fat.” n.d. Accessed January 13, 2021.

6. Gebauer, Sarah K., Jean-Michel Chardigny, Marianne Uhre Jakobsen, Benoît Lamarche, Adam L. Lock, Spencer D. Proctor, and David J. Baer. 2011. “Effects of Ruminant Trans Fatty Acids on Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: A Comprehensive Review of Epidemiological, Clinical, and Mechanistic Studies.” Advances in Nutrition 2 (4): 332–54.

7. “WHO | Effects of Saturated Fatty Acids on Serum Lipids and Lipoproteins: A Systematic Review and Regression Analysis.” 2016, August.

8. Hooper, Lee, Nicole Martin, Oluseyi F. Jimoh, Christian Kirk, Eve Foster, and Asmaa S. Abdelhamid. 2020. “Reduction in Saturated Fat Intake for Cardiovascular Disease.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 8 (August): CD011737.

9. Zhuang, Pan, Yu Zhang, Wei He, Xiaoqian Chen, Jingnan Chen, Lilin He, Lei Mao, Fei Wu, and Jingjing Jiao. 2019. “Dietary Fats in Relation to Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of 521 120 Individuals With 16 Years of Follow-Up.” Circulation Research 124 (5): 757–68.

10. Guasch-Ferré, Marta, Nancy Babio, Miguel A. Martínez-González, Dolores Corella, Emilio Ros, Sandra Martín-Peláez, Ramon Estruch, et al. 2015. “Dietary Fat Intake and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and All-Cause Mortality in a Population at High Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 102 (6): 1563–73.

11. Wang, Dong D., Yanping Li, Stephanie E. Chiuve, Meir J. Stampfer, Joann E. Manson, Eric B. Rimm, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. 2016. “Association of Specific Dietary Fats With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality.” JAMA Internal Medicine 176 (8): 1134–45.

12. Jakobsen, Marianne U., Claus Dethlefsen, Albert M. Joensen, Jakob Stegger, Anne Tjønneland, Erik B. Schmidt, and Kim Overvad. 2010. “Intake of Carbohydrates Compared with Intake of Saturated Fatty Acids and Risk of Myocardial Infarction: Importance of the Glycemic Index.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 91 (6): 1764–68.

13. Jesch, Elliot D., and Timothy P. Carr. 2017. “Food Ingredients That Inhibit Cholesterol Absorption.” Preventive Nutrition and Food Science 22 (2): 67–80.

14. Liu, Ann G., Nikki A. Ford, Frank B. Hu, Kathleen M. Zelman, Dariush Mozaffarian, and Penny M. Kris-Etherton. 2017. “A Healthy Approach to Dietary Fats: Understanding the Science and Taking Action to Reduce Consumer Confusion.” Nutrition Journal 16 (1): 53.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

 

The post Saturated fat: Is it good or bad for you? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

It’s a question that comes up from new Precision Nutrition Coaching clients all the time:

“I’ve been tracking my calories in and calories out religiously… but I’m not losing as much weight as I should. Why isn’t this working?!?”

Yes, conventional wisdom states that reducing your calorie intake (or increasing the amount you burn) by 500 calories a day should lead to about 1 pound of fat loss per week. (Math: 500 calories a day x 7 days = 3500 calories a week = 1 pound.)

But that conventional wisdom is wrong. As discussed in this article all about the myth of metabolic damage, your metabolism is adaptive. As you eat less, your metabolism slows, throwing off common assumptions about calorie balance.

This excellent weight loss calculator—based on the NIH Body Weight Planner and adapted from research collected at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases—takes into account the adaptive nature of metabolism and gives more accurate information on how hard you’ll have to work (and how long it may take) to reach your goals.

(Keep reading below the calculator to learn why it’s more advanced than many others.)

Weight Loss Calculator: Start Here

Click the “Get Started” button below to enter your information and get your FREE nutrition plan.

An illustration of the Precision Nutrition Macros Calculator for Calories and Portions surrounded by fruits, grains, fish, and vegetables.

Nutrition Calculator

How much should you eat? Let’s find out.

© Precision Nutrition

To understand why this calculator is so helpful, let’s use an example client: Vanessa.

She’s 40 years old, 5’ 6” tall, weighs 185 pounds, has a very low level of activity at work, and a moderate level of exercise activity.

Based on this information, the calculator has determined that she needs around 2,445 calories per day to maintain her weight.

Let’s say Vanessa would like to lose 40 pounds (so a goal weight of 145 pounds) in a sustainable way over the course of the next year, without doing any additional exercise.

The calculator suggests she’ll need to reduce her food intake to around 1,770 calories per day. (That’s 675 calories fewer than required for maintenance.)

If you do conventional calorie math, these numbers don’t make sense.

A daily calorie deficit of 675 calories would lead to a deficit of 246,375 calories over a full year. (Math: 675 calorie deficit x 365 days = 246,375 calories.)

This would, theoretically, lead to a 70-pound weight loss for Vanessa. (Math: 246,375 calorie deficit / 3,500 calories in 1 pound of weight = 70 pounds lost.)

But the body doesn’t work that way. Instead, Vanessa would lose only about 40 pounds. (Which is still awesome, obviously.)

Why this very large disparity?

As mentioned above, your metabolism adjusts as you eat less and lose weight. And conventional math doesn’t take this complex nature of human metabolism into account.

That’s why it’s important to make sure your expectations about weight loss and body change are in line with how your body actually works.

This calculator helps with that. It makes it easier to set appropriate behavior goals and gives you a more realistic view of what your potential progress could look like.

More Benefits of this Weight Loss Calculator

The Precision Nutrition Weight Loss Calculator is special for other reasons, too.

It not only takes into account your personal details (height, weight, age, sex), physical activity levels, and the amount of weight you want to lose, but also allows you to:

  • Choose your dietary preference. (You can select from Paleo, keto, vegetarian, fully plant-based/vegan, Mediterranean, and of course, “anything”)
  • Adjust your macronutrient preference. (If desired, you can change the amount of carbs, fat, or protein to better fit your needs.)
  • Use “hand portions” to easily track your food intake. (More on this below.)

The Weight Loss Calculator takes all this information and uses it to estimate your calorie and macronutrient needs. It also automatically converts those numbers into food portions that are equivalent to parts of your hands. (For example: your palm, fist, thumb, and cupped hand.)

The benefit: You don’t ever need to weigh and measure your food, or log the details of every meal into a food tracking app.

Instead, you can use our hand portion tracking system to take the hassle out of calorie and macro tracking—and still achieve your targets.

Once the Weight Loss Calculator runs your numbers, it’ll generate a FREE nutrition plan that’s personalized for your body, preferences, and goals and will show you exactly what to do.

Ready to get started? Enter your information in the Weight Loss Calculator above, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?

Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.

That’s why we work closely with Precision Nutrition Coaching clients to help them lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.

It’s also why we work with health, fitness and wellness professionals (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.

Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021.

If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, we encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.

  • You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
  • You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.

If you’re ready to become the fittest, strongest, healthiest version of yourself with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.

[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].

The post Precision Nutrition’s Weight Loss Calculator: Eat less? Move more? Here’s what it really takes to reach your goals. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Basics | Benefits | Risks | Coaching Advice | What to Eat | Diet Quiz

In my experience, there are at least two types of vegans:

Person #1: Their eyes twinkle, skin glows, and energy soars. They’re a walking, talking endorsement of 100 percent plant-based eating.

Person #2: Tired and pale, they look as if they’ve just lost two pints of blood.

In comment fields all over the internet, you’ll see Person #1 telling Person #2 that 100 percent plant-based diets are the absolute best way to eat—for everyone. And in the very same comment fields, you see Person #2 saying: “100 percent plant-based diets are dangerous!

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Both—and neither.

I’m sure that answer sounds confusing. That’s because, as I’ll soon explain, the pros and cons of fully plant-based diets are nuanced. Some people benefit, while others struggle—and the reasons why are pretty surprising.

In this article I’ll dive into all of that, as well as:

Let’s start with a question that isn’t remotely straightforward:

What are 100 percent plant-based diets?

Not everyone defines “fully plant-based” and “vegan” the same. Because of that, it’s helpful to start this story by explaining how Precision Nutrition uses these terms.

Plant-based nutrition

Though some people define “plant based” as “plants only,” our definition is broader and more inclusive.

For us, plant-based diets consist mostly of plants: vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

In other words, if you consume mostly plants with a small amount of animal-based protein, you’re a plant-based eater by our definition.

(Read more: A complete guide to plant-based nutrition.)

Whole-food plant-based diet

This eating pattern emphasizes whole, minimally-processed plant foods. Essentially, you’re eating plant-based foods as close as possible to the way nature grew them.

Fully plant-based diet

This eating pattern emphasizes foods from the plant/fungi kingdom, without any animal products.

Vegan diet

A vegan diet is a lifestyle. Vegans strive to avoid actions that bring harm or suffering to animals in any way.

In addition to not consuming animals, their eggs, or their byproducts (such as milk or honey), vegans often avoid purchasing products made from animals (such as fur or leather) as well as products that have been tested on animals or created with animal experimentation.

They also tend to boycott businesses that rely on animals for entertainment, such as circuses, rodeos, and bullfights.

Within the four main types of plant-based eaters listed above, there’s quite a bit of variation.

Take whole-food, plant-based eaters.

Few people eat only whole foods, so think of this eating style as a continuum.

On one end: Fully plant-based eaters who subsist mostly on store-bought cookies, crackers, white bread, and vegan hot dogs.

On the other end: people who consume lots of veggies, fruit, legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains.

We’d consider someone to be on a whole-food, plant-based diet if the majority of what they consume is both minimally-processed and plant-based.

Similarly, some fully plant-based eaters and vegans are more strict than others.

I’ve counseled some people who never consume animals or animal products. I’ve also worked with clients who are more flexible. They’ll make exceptions for certain foods in certain situations—such as when they’re at social gathering and vegan options are not available.

If you’re a coach, these nuances are important because they affect the health benefits and pitfalls your client might experience.

The Benefits of Fully Plant-Based Diets

Many people assume that one of the big benefits of plant-only diets is this: They reduce risk for disease.

And a number of studies seem to support this.

For example, when researchers in Belgium used an online questionnaire to ask nearly 1500 vegans, vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, pescatarians, and omnivores about their food intake, they found that vegans scored highest on the Healthy Eating Index, which is a measure of dietary quality.1

Because of this improved dietary quality, fully plant-based eaters and vegans tend to have a lower risk for a wide range of diseases.2,3,4,5,6

But there’s an important caveat: Vegans and fully plant-based eaters score higher on the Healthy Eating Index not because they forgo meat, but rather because they tend to eat more minimally-processed whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds.

In other words, many fully plant-based eaters tend to follow a whole-food, plant-based approach.

And according to a huge, long-term study, the inclusion of minimally-processed whole foods may be key to reaping the benefits of a vegan diet.

When researchers looked at health outcomes of hundreds of thousands of female nurses as well as dozens of male health professionals over more than two decades, they found that heart disease risk depended on the types of plant foods people consumed.

Vegetarians and vegans who consumed mostly minimally-processed whole foods had a lower risk of developing heart disease. Vegetarians and vegans who consumed an abundance of fries, sweets, sugary beverages, and other highly-processed foods, however, had an increased risk.7

The Cons of Fully Plant-Based Diets

Any time someone omits entire food groups, that person must work harder to get all the nutrients their body needs. People who are fully plant-based or vegan tend to struggle with four nutrients in particular.

Calcium

In addition to keeping bones and teeth strong, calcium helps muscles—including your heart muscle—work properly.

Because vegans omit dairy products—which supply nearly a third of the 1000 to 1200 milligrams of calcium the typical person needs everyday—they’re at risk for calcium deficiency.

Case in point: A recent review of 20 studies involving 37,134 people found that vegans had lower bone mineral density and higher fracture risks than meat eaters—or even vegetarians.8

To get enough calcium from non-dairy foods, use this advice.

▶ Consume several servings of high-calcium plant foods a day.

Calcium-rich plant foods include leafy greens (collards, turnip greens, kale), calcium-set tofu, calcium fortified plant milks, sesame seed butter, black strap molasses, okra, broccoli, figs, beans, almonds, edamame, and soy nuts.

To increase absorption, cook calcium-rich greens before eating.

▶ Cut back on salt, alcohol, and soft drinks.

When people consume a lot of alcohol, salt, and soft drinks, they tend to take in fewer nutrient dense, minimally-processed whole foods.

For example, when someone chooses a soft drink, they’re not choosing a calcium-enriched plant milk. When they sit down with a bowl of salty chips, by default they’re not having broccoli, figs, or soy nuts.

Many soft drinks are also a rich source of phosphoric acid, which may throw off the body’s calcium-phosphorus balance.9,10,11,12,13

▶ Exercise.

Resistance training (like weight lifting) and weight-bearing cardio (think jogging and tennis) both stimulate bones, helping to protect against bone loss.14

Vitamin B12

This vitamin helps bodies to form DNA, strengthen and repair blood vessels, and protect nerves.

Because B12 is involved in red blood cell formation, deficiency can lead to a decrease in red blood cells (a condition called pernicious anemia).

Though a few plants contain substances that the body can convert to B12, we don’t absorb and use these substances as readily as the form of B12 present in animal products.15

Plus, many people over age 50 are already deficient, whether they eat meat or not. That’s because, as we age, our stomachs make less acid (which helps metabolize B12) and intrinsic factor (which helps the body absorb B12). And some medications—such as acid blockers—reduce absorption even more.

For these reasons, a daily B12 supplement is the best approach for:

  • People over 50.
  • People who take medications that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, such as those used to treat reflux, ulcers, and diabetes.
  • People who are partially or fully plant-based.

Even with supplements, some people might show signs of deficiency: fatigue, dizziness or loss of balance, and reduced mental function.

In those cases, their health care provider can check their B12 levels with a blood test and potentially prescribe intramuscular (injected) B12, which is better absorbed than oral (including sublingual) supplements.

Omega-3 fats

These fats help prevent heart disease. They’re also involved in the development of eye, nerve and brain tissue (especially in fetuses and babies).

Omega-3 fats come in a few forms:

▶ Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA)
The richest sources of EPA and/or DHA generally come from the oceans. Fatty varieties of seafood are particularly rich sources: salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, and oysters. Vegans can get smaller amounts from sea vegetables (think: seaweed and algae).

▶ Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Plant foods rich in ALA include flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds/hearts, walnuts, soy, dark leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables.

Our bodies must convert ALA into EPA or DHA before using it. About 90 percent of the ALA fat is lost during the conversion. In other words, if you consume 2.5 grams of ALA from plants, your body will only convert and use about 10 percent, or about .25 grams.16

Bottom line: To optimize their omega-3 intake, fully plant-based eaters should try to consume legumes, nuts, flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed, walnuts, and other ALA-rich foods daily.17

If needed, consider adding a vegan (algae-based) DHA supplement.

Iron

Because iron carries oxygen around the body, low levels can lead to fatigue.

Animal products are a particularly rich source of a type of iron called heme that our bodies easily absorb. Plants like beans, peas, and lentils contain non-heme iron that isn’t as readily absorbed. To help boost iron intake and absorption, use this advice:

▶ Cook with cast iron cookware. It can increase the iron content of the food you eat.18

▶ Don’t drink coffee or black tea with food. These drinks contain tannins that inhibit the absorption of iron.

▶ Consume vitamin C powerhouses. They can boost absorption when consumed with iron-rich foods. Use the chart below for ideas. For example, make a tofu stir fry with broccoli or a bean salad with tomatoes, peppers, and a squeeze of lime.

Rich in non-heme iron Rich in vitamin C
Pumpkin seeds

Tofu

Tempeh

Edamame (soybeans)

Lentils

Beans

Peas

Sunflower seeds

Nuts

Hummus

Almond butter

Leafy greens

Fortified foods

Potatoes

White and oyster mushrooms

Amaranth

Spelt

Oats

Quinoa

Dark chocolate

Citrus fruit and juices (ex: oranges)

Cantaloupe

Strawberries

Broccoli

Tomatoes

Peppers

Winter squash

Watermelon

Guava

Kale

Kiwi

Potatoes

People who thrive on vegan and fully plant-based diets

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, some people flourish on vegan and fully plant-based diets, whereas others tell me they can’t perform in the gym, are hungry 24-7, and just feel terrible.

Here’s what makes the difference.

People who do best:

✓ Have a genetic predisposition that suits them for this eating style. They feel fantastic when they eat more plants and less (or no) meat.

✓ Like eating minimally-processed whole plant foods such as vegetables, beans, and lentils.

✓ Are willing to put in the effort to include foods rich in key nutrients or/and take supplements as needed to avoid deficiencies.

✓ Have an open-minded “I’ll try anything once” approach to eating. No vegan option is off-limits. (Algae smoothie, anyone?)

✓ Have the time and inclination to search out vegan restaurants, meal-delivery options, and recipes.

✓ Have support from family/friends.

✓ Have a deep “why” for being 100% plant-based, such as, “Protecting and preserving the wellbeing of animals is a priority for me.”

✓ Are flexible about their plant-based identity. They’re okay consuming eggs, dairy, seafood, or even meat from time to time, if no other options exist.

People who struggle:

Feel physically terrible when they stop eating animal protein, even if they’re taking steps to patch deficiencies.

Cook for picky eaters who either love meat or hate plant foods—or both.

✓ Prefer highly-processed refined foods over whole plant foods.

Lack a strong “why” for going plant-based.

Lack the time and energy to investigate new recipes or restaurants.

How to coach someone on a fully plant-based diet

To help clients avoid deficiency and stay consistent, use this advice.

Don’t assume a vegan or fully plant-based eater never eats meat.

It’s counterintuitive yet true: Some people who identify as vegans or fully plant-based eaters will consume animal products in certain situations.

As a coach, this is important information—because flexibility can help your clients avoid deficiencies.

Ask questions like:

  • What does “vegan” or “strictly plant-based” mean to you?
  • Could you tell more a little more about what foods you enjoy eating and what foods you choose to eliminate?
  • What do you eat and how often?
  • What did you eat yesterday?

The answers may surprise you.

When I posed those questions to a college-aged client, she said, “I am a strict vegan, except when I’m drunk. Then I get fast food and will order a hamburger.”

When asked how often she drank, the client answered, “Well, I party three times a week, so I get hamburgers three times a week. But otherwise I am a strict vegan.”

Help clients ease in.

Some of your clients will attempt to go from a meat-heavy to a strict vegan diet overnight. Often after they’ve watched a documentary about the benefits of plant-based diets.

While this commitment to big, fast dietary change is commendable, it often ends in frustration. Why? Strict vegan and fully plant-based diets require clients to know and use several skills. Consider:

  • How does one make tofu taste like bacon? Or chicken? Or paneer?
  • What brands of vegan yogurt taste the best? What about plant-milk?
  • Which vegan-sounding packaged foods actually contain animal-based ingredients such as rennet, chicken broth, or gelatin? (Hint: Your clients will want to carefully read the labels on commercially-prepared breakfast cereals, soups, condiments, stuffing mixes, yogurt, and candy, among other foods.)
  • What should they say when friends invite them over for dinner and all of the options include meat or animal products?

In other words, switching from omnivore to vegan will mean learning how to cook a wide range of foods and recipes, shopping for different foods, and navigating social situations in completely new ways.

Because of that, I’ve found that clients ultimately are more successful if they ease in.

To do this, imagine a fully plant-based or vegan diet as a volume dial. A 10 on the diet is 100 percent plants, 100 percent of the time. A zero is their current way of eating.

They might turn their dial up to a 1—cooking one vegan meal a month or week. Then, if that goes well, they might advance to what they define as 2 or 3. And so on. They might not ever get all the way to 10—and that’s okay. As long as they’re adding more plant foods to their diet, they’re making progress.

Should you talk clients out of a vegan diet?

In a word, no.

When you dictate the terms, your client no longer feels like you’re in it together. Rather than your carefully thought-out reasons, your client hears: “My coach thinks I’m wrong.”

And that doesn’t feel good.

So what do you do if your client wants all-in on a vegan diet—but you suspect they may not be ready? You might say:

“Wow, that’s so great that you’re really taking initiative and learning more about nutrition on your own time! That’s awesome.

We can go at this a couple of ways. We can explore a strict plant-based plan right off the bat.

Or we can continue on with the old plan for a while.

Another option: We blend the two plans and see if we can find the best of both. In other words, you would keep what you like about your current plan, and adopt a few things from plant-based eating.

Maybe, for example, you try a meatless meal once or twice a week. Or if you really want to ramp up your plant-based eating, aim for meat-free before dinner, most days of the week.

Of those options, what feels like a good fit to you?”

Once they’ve chosen a direction, respect that decision, and use your coaching wizardry to help them overcome obstacles.

Ask clients about their favorite foods.

There are plenty of super high-tech ways to test people for nutrient deficiencies, such as running their food diary through a nutrient database.

But if you don’t have access to decent nutrition software, there’s a low tech option: Show clients lists of foods that are rich in calcium, B12, iron, and healthy fats. Then ask them to do two things.

  1. Cross out foods they don’t eat
  2. Circle foods they do eat

For example, let’s say you’re looking at a list of calcium-rich foods. The client might cross out cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and all other dairy products. Then, of the foods that are left, the client circles leafy greens, calcium-set tofu, broccoli, figs, beans, edamame, and almonds.

“I really don’t like sesame seed butter,” the client says, “And I’ve never heard of blackstrap molasses.”

That gives you something to work with. Once you know what foods the client likes to eat, you can work together to come up with recipes and meal prep strategies to help your client eat those foods more regularly.

Know that, for some people, fully plant-based and vegan diets just don’t work.

As I’ve mentioned: Some people do amazing on fully plant-based and vegan diets. Their skin glows. They have a pep in their step. They seem energized, healthy, and vibrant.

Other people, however, seem as if they’re wasting away.

They’re hungry all the time. They can’t stop thinking about cookies, brownies, and bread. And they may even have signs of deficiencies: fatigue, insomnia, thinning hair, brittle fingernails, and broken blood vessels.

The most telling piece of evidence: When they tell me, “If I eat a little bit of meat, I feel better.”

It’s tempting to assume this is evidence the client is doing vegan “wrong.” But for at least some people, there may be a deeper, genetic component.

I’ve counseled couples who are doing vegan diets together. One person is vibrant whereas the other is struggling. Same diet (heck, even the same table). Just different bodies.

I call this “failure to thrive on a plant-based diet.”

If this describes a client who otherwise seems to be eating an abundance of minimally-processed whole foods, it’s time to ask the question: Is this diet really working for you? (The self assessment below will help you find out).

The fully plant-based diet: What to eat

This is probably a bit of a no-brainer, but I’ll say it anyway: People on 100 percent plant-based diets tend to eat a lot of plants: veggies, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and vegetable oils.
Depending on the person, they might occasionally include animals or animal products—a little fish sauce here, a whipped cream topping there.

Ultimately, the goal for all plant-based clients isn’t perfection.

Rather, it’s progress: Eat more minimally-processed whole plant foods and fewer highly-processed refined foods and animal products.

For a more complete, customized plan, plug your info into our Nutrition Calculator. (It’s FREE and is personalized for your eating preferences, goals, and lifestyle.)

Fully plant-based diets: Do they work—for you?

For best results, think of a new plant-based or vegan diet as a mini research study with a sample size of one—you (or your client).

▶ Define what fully plant-based means to you or your client.

▶ Try it for a few weeks and then evaluate how it all went. Did it work? Do you look, feel, and perform better?

For help, use this short quiz—it’ll help you assess if your vegan diet is working for you. You can come back to the quiz time and again—and for any diet approach—so you might want to bookmark it.

▶ Based on what you learn from your experiment, either stay the course, make some changes to improve your success (say, more beans, fewer chips), or abandon the mission.

No matter your results, remember this: it’s okay.

This isn’t about earning awards for plant-based perfection. It’s about progress, consistency, and finding out what works for your body

And if you ultimately decide that fully plant-based eating just isn’t for you, it’s no big deal. There are so many other ways to eat—Mediterranean, keto, intermittent fasting, or paleo, to name a few. Or consider trying the “anything” diet laid out in our Precision Nutrition Macro Calculator. Keep experimenting with new things.

Eventually, you’ll land on the best diet—for you.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Clarys P, Deliens T, Huybrechts I, Deriemaeker P, Vanaelst B, De Keyzer W, et al. Comparison of nutritional quality of the vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diet. Nutrients. 2014 Mar 24;6(3):1318–32.

2. Rizzo NS, Sabaté J, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Fraser GE. Vegetarian dietary patterns are associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome: the adventist health study 2. Diabetes Care. 2011 May;34(5):1225–7.

3. Melina V, Craig W, Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 Dec;116(12):1970–80.

4. Huang R-Y, Huang C-C, Hu FB, Chavarro JE. Vegetarian Diets and Weight Reduction: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Gen Intern Med. 2016 Jan;31(1):109–16.

5. Yokoyama Y, Nishimura K, Barnard ND, Miyamoto Y. 22 – Blood Pressure and Vegetarian Diets. In: Mariotti F, editor. Vegetarian and Plant-Based Diets in Health and Disease Prevention. Academic Press; 2017. p. 395–413.

7. Oussalah A, Levy J, Berthezène C, Alpers DH, Guéant J-L. Health outcomes associated with vegetarian diets: An umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Clin Nutr [Internet]. 2020 Mar 11; Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2020.02.037

8. Satija A, Bhupathiraju SN, Spiegelman D, Chiuve SE, Manson JE, Willett W, et al. Healthful and Unhealthful Plant-Based Diets and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S. Adults. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Jul 25;70(4):411–22

9. Iguacel I, Miguel-Berges ML, Gómez-Bruton A, Moreno LA, Julián C. Veganism, vegetarianism, bone mineral density, and fracture risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2019 Jan 1;77(1):1–18

10. Hemler EC, Hu FB. Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: All Plant Foods Are Not Created Equal. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2019 Mar 20;21(5):18. [10]

11. Rapuri PB, Gallagher JC, Kinyamu HK, Ryschon KL. Caffeine intake increases the rate of bone loss in elderly women and interacts with vitamin D receptor genotypes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Nov;74(5):694–700.

12. Fatahi S, Namazi N, Larijani B, Azadbakht L. The Association of Dietary and Urinary Sodium With Bone Mineral Density and Risk of Osteoporosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Am Coll Nutr. 2018 Aug;37(6):522–32.

13. Berg KM, Kunins HV, Jackson JL, Nahvi S, Chaudhry A, Harris KA Jr, et al. Association between alcohol consumption and both osteoporotic fracture and bone density. Am J Med. 2008 May;121(5):406–18.

14. Tucker KL, Morita K, Qiao N, Hannan MT, Cupples LA, Kiel DP. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):936–42.

15. Benedetti MG, Furlini G, Zati A, Letizia Mauro G. The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Dec 23;2018:4840531.

16. Watanabe F, Yabuta Y, Bito T, Teng F. Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians. Nutrients. 2014 May;6(5):1861.

17. Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012 Jan;3(1):1–7.

18. Gebauer SK, Psota TL, Harris WS, Kris-Etherton PM. n-3 fatty acid dietary recommendations and food sources to achieve essentiality and cardiovascular benefits. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6 Suppl):1526S – 1535S.

19. Geerligs PDP, Brabin BJ, Omari AAA. Food prepared in iron cooking pots as an intervention for reducing iron deficiency anaemia in developing countries: a systematic review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2003 Aug;16(4):275–81.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post Fully plant-based and vegan diets: Your complete how-to guide appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“What can I actually eat on a plant-based or vegetarian diet?”

It’s natural to wonder about your options.

Carrots and broccoli are givens—of course. But are all plant-based foods “okay” to eat?

So often, our clients want to know things like:

  • Is peanut butter a decent source of protein?
  • How often should I eat soy products?
  • Since I don’t eat fish, how do I get enough omega 3 fats? 
  • Are plant-based burgers okay?
  • Can I eat pasta on a plant-based diet? (Please say yes…?)

It can also be tricky to figure which plant-based foods fit into which macronutrient categories.

Take chickpeas, lentils, and veggie burgers. Are they mostly protein? Carbohydrates? Fat? (HELP!)

Questions like these are why we created this handy, visual food list for plant-based and vegetarian eaters. 

Fair warning: We’re not going to tell you that some foods are “good” and “bad”—or tell you there’s a “right” way to eat.

That’s just not our style. But we will show you how to think about foods on a spectrum from “eat more” to “eat some” to “eat less.”

This approach promotes one of the most crucial philosophies of our nutrition coaching method: Progress, not perfection.

Use our continuums to make choices that are “just a little bit better,” whether you’re browsing the grocery store aisles, cooking a homemade meal, or ordering from a menu.

Plus, learn how to:

  • Incorporate a mix of plant-based proteins, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fats.
  • Strategically improve your food choices—based on what you eat right now—to feel, move, and look better.
  • Customize your intake for your individual lifestyle, goals, and (of course) taste buds.

As a bonus, we’ve provided space to create your own personal plant-based foods continuum. That way, you can build a delicious menu of healthy foods that are right for you—no questions asked.

(And if you want a FREE plant-based nutrition plan that’s personalized for your body, goals, and lifestyle, check out the Precision Nutrition Calculator.)

Download this infographic for your tablet or printer and use the step-by-step process to decide which foods line up with your (or your clients’) goals.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post ‘What should I eat?!’ How to choose the best vegetarian and plant-based foods for your body. [Infographic] appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

The Basics | Research | Pros | Cons | How to Coach It | Food List

First popularized in the 1970s, the Paleo Diet encourages the consumption of foods ancient humans are thought to have eaten hundreds of thousands of years ago—before the dawn of modern agriculture. Think: roots, seeds, fruits, fish, game, and other morsels people could easily gather or club to death.

What are the benefits of this diet? The risks? And is it right for you?

This article will provide those answers.

That way, you can maximize the diet’s benefits while minimizing the diet’s pitfalls. (And yes, they ALL have pitfalls.)

So if you or your clients want to try Paleo—but don’t know where to start—keep reading. You’ll learn:

Paleo Diet Basics

The Paleo diet—also referred to as the Paleolithic diet, Primal diet, and Ancestral diet—is based on two central ideas.

Idea #1: Humans adapted to eat particular kinds of foods.

According to Paleo enthusiasts, our ancient human genetic blueprint doesn’t match our modern diet and lifestyle.

Until about 10,000 years ago, humans ate what they hunted (meat, fish) or gathered (fruit, vegetables, roots, tubers, nuts, seeds, eggs, honey).

Then most of the world figured out agriculture. We moved from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic period. Planting and farming provided us with a consistent and relatively reliable food supply, without which modern civilization could never have developed.

Fun fact: The 10,000-year time frame since the dawn of the Neolithic period represents only about one percent of the time we humans have been on Earth.

Idea #2: To stay healthy, strong, and fit—and avoid the chronic diseases of modern times—we need to eat like our ancestors.

Paleo enthusiasts claim that eating like our ancient ancestors will improve your health and our well-being.

The Paleo diet also makes some key evolutionary assumptions:

  • Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were robust and healthy. If they didn’t die young from accident or infectious diseases, they lived about as long as we do now.
  • When Paleolithic hunter-gatherers shifted to Neolithic agriculture, they got relatively sicker, shorter, and spindlier.
  • Modern hunter-gatherers are healthy, and their health declines when they switch to a modern diet.

Paleo Diet: The Truth

So you might have noticed that we attributed the two central ideas to “Paleo enthusiasts.”

And that phrasing was intentional.

Because there are some issues with both ideas.

Hunter-gatherers were not pristine models of health.

To begin with, they harbored various parasites. They were also subject to many infectious diseases.

What’s more, a study in The Lancet looked at 137 mummies from societies ranging all over the world—from Egypt, Peru, the American Southwest, and the Aleutian Islands—to search for signs of hardening of the arteries (a condition known as atherosclerosis).

They noted probable or definite atherosclerosis in 47 of 137 mummies from all four geographical regions, regardless of whether the people had been farmers or hunter-gatherers, peasants, or societal elite.

The deciding factor? It was age, not diet. Mummies who were older than 40 when they died tended to have hardening in several arteries, compared to mummies who’d died at younger ages.1,2

There wasn’t just one Paleo diet—there were many different ones.

Our ancestors lived pretty much all over the world, in diverse environments, eating varied diets.

And some of them did indeed consume foods that are typically shunned on the Paleo diet.

Like grains.

Like cereals.

Like beans.

Ancient humans may have begun eating grains and cereals before the Paleolithic era even began—up to three or even four million years ago, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.3 And not only did our Paleolithic ancestors eat legumes, these were actually an important part of their diet, several research reviews reveal.4-6

In other words, the idea that Paleolithic humans never ate grains, cereals, and beans appears to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Modern fruits and vegetables aren’t like the ones our ancestors ate.

Early fruits and vegetables were often bitter, much smaller, tougher to harvest, and sometimes toxic.

Over time, we’ve bred plants with the most preferable and enticing traits—the biggest fruits, prettiest colors, sweetest flesh, fewest natural toxins, and largest yields. We’ve also diversified plant types—creating new varieties such as hundreds of cultivars of potatoes or tomatoes from a few ancestral varieties.

For example, over many years, farmers selectively bred Brassica oleracea—also known as wild mustard—into plants with bigger leaves, thicker stalks, or larger buds. This eventually created the many different vegetables of the Brassica family: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and kohlrabi.

These vegetables seem quite different from one another, but all originated from the same plant species.

Most modern animal foods aren’t the same.

Beef (even if grass-fed) isn’t the same as wild game such as bison or deer meat. Because wild game move around a lot more than domesticated animals, they’re leaner and their meat contains less fat.7

This doesn’t make modern produce or modern meat inherently inferior or superior. It’s just different from nearly anything available in Paleolithic times.

So the claim that we should eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and meats because we’re evolved to eat precisely those foods is suspect. The food we eat today didn’t even exist in Paleolithic times.

No matter how you slice it, Paleo proponents’ evolutionary arguments don’t hold up.

But that doesn’t mean the diet itself is bad.

Maybe it’s good for completely different reasons than they say.

(For a deeper dive into the science, see The Paleo Problem.)

Paleo Diet Pros

Despite our qualms with the historical underpinning of Paleo, the diet likely gets more right than it gets wrong.

Paleo-style eating emphasizes whole foods.

This is a massive improvement over the average Western diet. The top six calorie sources in the U.S. diet today are grain-based desserts (cake, cookies), yeast breads, chicken-based dishes (and you know that doesn’t mean a grilled chicken salad), sweetened beverages, pizza, and alcoholic drinks.

Those aren’t ancestral foods—nor foods that, when consumed in abundance, promote good health. So when proponents of the Paleo diet claim that our modern Western diet isn’t healthy for us, they’re absolutely correct.

Paleo-style eating has been extremely effective for improving several chronic diseases.

According to several studies, the Paleo diet can help improve blood pressure, glucose tolerance, inflammation, thyroid levels, and blood lipids.8-11

Paleo will likely leave you feeling satisfied.

The Paleo diet may be more satiating per calorie than some other eating styles.12,13

Why? Paleo encourages the consumption of vegetables and meat—two food groups that dampen hunger and increase post-meal satiety.

Vegetables contain relatively fewer calories than other foods. Meat is rich in protein, which helps to trigger the release of appetite-regulating hormones.

Paleo Diet Cons

All restrictive diets, including Paleo, share two potential pitfalls: inconsistent compliance and nutritional deficiency.

We’ll start with compliance.

Paleo can be tough to maintain.

Restrictive diets like Paleo can be easier in the short term because you don’t have many decisions to make. It’s simple—just eat the foods the diet says to eat. Don’t eat the foods the diet says not to eat.

No thinking. No measuring.

But long term? It’s harder—because not everyone in your life is following Paleo.

Not every restaurant serves Paleo meals.

Plus, some of the foods on your “don’t eat” list may be foods you love.

Like fresh-baked bread.

Like most desserts.

Like pumpkin lattes.

This is why strictly following a list of “good” and “bad” or “allowed” and “not allowed” foods tends to be problematic for many people. It’s less effective over the long-term—because ultimately, it decreases our consistency. (Read more: The problem labeling foods as “good” or “bad.”)

So it makes a lot of sense that people struggle to remain consistent on Paleo over the long term.

In a study of 250 people, only 35 percent of dieters stuck with the Paleo diet for a full year, compared to 57 percent of people on the Mediterranean diet and 54 percent of people who tried intermittent fasting. When compared to the two other diets, people who tried Paleo lost less weight, too.14

Restrictive diets make deficiency more likely.

Anytime you cut out foods and food groups, you must work harder to replace what you lose. It takes more effort to get the nutrients you need.

In the case of Paleo, you’ll have to work harder to get enough of these nutrients:

Calcium: Dairy offers a rich source of highly absorbable calcium. As the chart below shows, our bodies take up 97 percent of the calcium from cheese, yogurt, and milk—but much less from non-dairy sources.15

This chart shows the calcium content and absorption of common foods, starting with the highest (the first number is calcium content; the second number is how much is absorbed): Cheddar cheese (1.5 ounces): 361 mg/350 mg; Yogurt: 332 mg/319 mg; Milk (1 cup): 311 mg/299 mg; Tofu (3/4 cup): 230 mg/187 mg; White beans (3/4 cup, boiled): 141 mg/35 mg; Spinach (1/2 cup cooked): 129 mg/77 mg; Bok choy (1/2 cup cooked): 84 mg/36 mg; Chinese cabbage (1/2 cup shredded): 79 mg/75 mg; Broccoli (1/2 cup cooked): 33 mg/7 mg; Spinach (1 cup chopped, raw): 31 mg; 2 mg

To get enough calcium while on Paleo, make sure you’re eating at least a fistful of dark leafy greens (collards, kale, bok choy) every day.

Riboflavin and Thiamin: These B vitamins are present in high amounts in cereals, grains, beans, and milk—all foods that are off limits on Paleo. To make sure you’re getting enough, consume plenty of green veggies, fish, mussels, and eggs.16

Carbohydrate: If you train intensely, you may struggle to get enough carbohydrate on the Paleo diet. If you exercise intensely on a regular basis, the modified Paleo diet (see next section) may be a better option.

Fiber: Early humans actually ate a lot of fiber—as much as 100 grams a day.17 Many health organizations recommend somewhere between 25 and 35 daily grams—and most people consume half that amount, even when they’re not omitting fiber-rich beans, legumes, or grains for the Paleo diet.

To make up for the fiber from those foods, consume high-fiber produce several times a day. Good options include beets, apples, figs, berries, spinach, okra, Brussels sprouts, pears, and avocados. See the “Top Paleo-Approved High-Fiber Foods” below.

Top Paleo Approved High-Fiber Foods

Food Soluble Fiber (g) Insoluble Fiber (g) Total Fiber (g)
Avocado (medium, California) 3 6 9
Guava (1 cup raw) 2 7 9
Raspberries (1 cup) 7 1 8
Hubbard squash (1 cup cooked) 4 3 7
Jicama (1 cup raw) 3 3 6
Brussels sprouts (1 cup, cooked) 2 3 5
Pear (1 medium) 2.5 3 5.5
Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi (1 cup cooked) 3 2 5
Turnip, mustard, or collard greens (1 cup cooked) 2 3 5
Cabbage (1 cup cooked) 2 2 4
Apple (1 medium) 1 3 4

Enter the Modified Paleo Diet

Because of the pitfalls we just mentioned, the Paleo diet has evolved to include moderate amounts of starch (especially sweet potatoes, but also white potatoes and white rice), as well as some dark chocolate, red wine and non-grain spirits (such as tequila), and limited amounts of grass-fed dairy.

Beyond making life more pleasant, these additions make social situations a lot easier to navigate.

They also make healthy eating more attractive and achievable.

In the end, moderation, sanity, and your personal preferences are more important than any specific food list.

How to Coach Someone on Paleo

Maybe you’re a big believer in Paleo.

Or perhaps you don’t believe in it at all.

Or… you’re agnostic about the whole thing.

Regardless of which camp you’ ve decided to set up a tent, remember that your client’s wishes come first.

So rather than spending a lot of emotional energy thinking about how to talk your client into Paleo (or out of it), get curious about helping your client do Paleo—or any other diet—even better.

Here we’ve included sample conversation openers and advice for situations that will likely come up. (You can use these questions on yourself, too.)

The situation: In looking over your client’s food log, you’ve noticed a pasta dinner here, a cookie there.

As the weeks go on, you see more and more non-Paleo foods.

Bring it up, with non-judgement and warmth. You might say:

“Hey, based on your food logs, it doesn’t seem like you’re strictly following Paleo anymore. Which is totally okay. But I’m wondering: Is this something you want to continue to try doing?”

The situation: Your client tells you, “I really want to do Paleo, but I’m struggling. I don’t think I can stick with it.”

Explore why your client is struggling. You might say:

“Okay, so what does that mean to you? What does struggling look like? What parts are harder for you? When is it easier for you?”

Depending on what your client reveals, you can work together to find solutions to help your client overcome obstacles.

The situation: Your client says, “I know I should get back to it. I really should do this for my health. I know that. But. I don’t know. I feel so stuck.”

The word “should” indicates that your client may like the idea of Paleo, but may not truly want to follow the diet. To dig deeper, you might ask:

“So why do you think you should do this? Can you tell me more about that? Why do you feel this diet would help you progress toward your goals?”

Your client’s answer may either reveal that following a strict diet actually doesn’t align with their values anymore, or they may revive a more compelling reason to keep going. Either way, you have a clearer sense of how to continue.

(For even more guidance, check out this article: How to talk to your clients about the latest Netflix documentary.)

The Paleo Diet: What to eat

Traditionally, the Paleo plate includes:

  • animals (meat, fish, reptiles, insects) and usually, almost all parts of the animal, including organs, bone marrow, and cartilage
  • animal products (such as eggs and honey)
  • roots/tubers, leaves, flowers and stems (in other words, vegetables)
  • fruits
  • raw nuts and seeds, coconut, avocados, and olives

Many Paleo proponents have recommended that eaters start with the above, then slowly gravitate to the modified Paleo diet by introducing grass-fed dairy (mostly yogurt and other cultured options), and small amounts of legumes that have been soaked overnight.

With that in mind, consider how you could move along a spectrum, starting from your current eating pattern to choices that are more Paleo-aligned.

For a complete guide that includes how much protein, carbs, fat you should eat, plug your info into our macros calculator. (It’s FREE and gives you a customized plan based on your diet preferences and goals.)

Please keep in mind…

There is no one-size-fits-all Paleo diet.

You’ll find NUMEROUS “eat this / not that” Paleo lists all over the internet, but even Paleo experts aren’t all in agreement.

Our advice: Focus on minimally-processed whole foods while also keeping your overall fat intake in balance.

If you’re a coach, you may have clients who follow a wide range of food lists—and that’s okay. The important part: helping them to stay successful based on whatever list they choose.

Don’t try to be perfect.

Doing a few good things pretty well (like eating more veggies or protein) is much better than trying to get a lot of things perfect (and then giving up completely because it’s impossible).

And by introducing small changes slowly over time, you increase your chances of long-term success.

Modify Paleo to fit your lifestyle and needs.

For example, if you’re following the Paleo diet and you’re also fully plant-based, to reach your protein requirements, you’ll want to include some soy. You may also want to prioritize nuts and seeds.

Paleo diet: Does it work—for you?

There’s really only one proven way to know if the Paleo diet works for you:

Try it.

Treat it like an experiment. Go all-in—for at least two weeks.

Then, after at least 2 weeks, use this assessment—Quiz: How’s that diet working for you? — to decide if your eating strategy is working.

No matter your results, remember this: it’s all okay.

Even if you never quite master the Paleo diet and instead gravitate toward a “Paleo Lite” style of eating (80-90% Paleo, 10-20% non-Paleo), you’ll most likely still see benefits.

That’s because just slight shifts toward the “eat more” foods and away from many of the “eat less” foods can make an enormous difference.

How do we know?

We’ve seen it happen with client after client after client.

And if you decide that Paleo isn’t for you? No biggie. It’s not the only eating style around. There are many other ways to eat—Mediterranean, vegetarian, fully plant-based (vegan), Keto, carb cycling, reverse dieting—that can also help you reach your goals.

Keep experimenting with new foods, new strategies, and new eating styles. Adopt what works. Deep six what doesn’t.

Eventually, you’ll discover the ultimate best diet—for you.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Thompson RC, Allam AH, Lombardi GP, Wann LS, Sutherland ML, Sutherland JD, et al. Atherosclerosis across 4000 years of human history: the Horus study of four ancient populations. Lancet. 2013 Apr 6;381(9873):1211–22.

2. David AR, Kershaw A, Heagerty A. Atherosclerosis and diet in ancient Egypt. Lancet. 2010 Feb 27;375(9716):718–9.

3. Wang C, Lu H, Zhang J, He K, Huan X. Macro-Process of Past Plant Subsistence from the Upper Paleolithic to Middle Neolithic in China: A Quantitative Analysis of Multi-Archaeobotanical Data. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 3;11(2):e0148136.

4. Sponheimer M, Alemseged Z, Cerling TE, Grine FE, Kimbel WH, Leakey MG, et al. Isotopic evidence of early hominin diets. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A [Internet]. 2013 Jun 3; Available from: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/05/31/1222579110.abstract

5. Cerling TE, Manthi FK, Mbua EN, Leakey LN, Leakey MG, Leakey RE, et al. Stable isotope-based diet reconstructions of Turkana Basin hominins. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jun 25;110(26):10501–6.

6. Cerling TE, Chritz KL, Jablonski NG, Leakey MG, Manthi FK. Diet of Theropithecus from 4 to 1 Ma in Kenya. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jun 25;110(26):10507–12.

7. Davidson B, Maciver J, Lessard E, Connors K. Meat lipid profiles: a comparison of meat from domesticated and wild Southern African animals. In Vivo. 2011 Mar;25(2):197–202.

8. Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC Jr, Sebastian A. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug;63(8):947–55.

9. Lindeberg S, Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjöström K, et al. A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia. 2007 Sep;50(9):1795–807.

10. Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, Branell U-C, Pålsson G, Hansson A, et al. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009 Jul 16;8:35.

11. Abbott RD, Sadowski A, Alt AG. Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet as Part of a Multi-disciplinary, Supported Lifestyle Intervention for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Cureus. 2019 Apr 27;11(4):e4556.

12. Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Erlanson-Albertsson C, Ahrén B, Lindeberg S. A paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease. Nutr Metab. 2010 Nov 30;7:85.

13. Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Lindeberg S, Hallberg A-C. Subjective satiety and other experiences of a Paleolithic diet compared to a diabetes diet in patients with type 2 diabetes. Nutr J. 2013 Jul 29;12:105.

14. Jospe MR, Roy M, Brown RC, Haszard JJ, Meredith-Jones K, Fangupo LJ, et al. Intermittent fasting, Paleolithic, or Mediterranean diets in the real world: exploratory secondary analyses of a weight-loss trial that included choice of diet and exercise. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Dec 27; Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz330

15. Miller GD, Jarvis JK, McBean LD. The importance of meeting calcium needs with foods. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Apr;20(2 Suppl):168S – 185S.

16. Genoni A, Lyons-Wall P, Lo J, Devine A. Cardiovascular, Metabolic Effects and Dietary Composition of Ad-Libitum Paleolithic vs. Australian Guide to Healthy Eating Diets: A 4-Week Randomised Trial. Nutrients. 2016 May 23;8(5). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu8050314

17. Eaton SB. The ancestral human diet: what was it and should it be a paradigm for contemporary nutrition? Proc Nutr Soc. 2006 Feb;65(1):1–6.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post The Paleo diet: Your complete how-to guide. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Types of Diets | Benefits | Risks | Coaching Tips | What to Eat | Diet quiz

Pop quiz: Which of the following is a plant-based diet?

  1. The Mediterranean diet
  2. The vegetarian diet
  3. The vegan diet
  4. The flexitarian diet

The answer: All of the above.

If you’re surprised by that revelation, know this: You’re 100% normal.

After all…

When it comes to plant-based diets, there’s a heck of a lot of confusion.

In this article, we’ll attempt to clear things up by exploring several questions.

Plus, you’ll find a quiz that can help you test your diet.

What are plant-based and vegetarian diets?

Let’s start with the debate about plant-based diets and meat.

Some plant-based eaters include meat—and some don’t.

This even includes people who identify as vegetarians.

Imagine a continuum, with 100% carnivore at one end and 100% vegan (no animals or animal products) at the other.

On that continuum, plant-based eaters fall closer to vegans than they do carnivores, eating more plants than meat. But, as the graphic below shows, “more plants than meat” allows for lots of variations.

Graphic that shows the variation of plant-based diets, placing foods on a scale from low to high Meatiness of Plantiness.

▶ Strict vegans fall into the “plant-based” bucket, as the “plantiness” of their diet is 100 percent.

▶ Generally, vegetarians don’t eat meat or seafood, but do sometimes consume animal products such as eggs and dairy. Though their food choices are less plant-focused than a vegan’s, they’re still plant-based eaters.

▶ Flexitarians, semi vegetarians, or part-time vegetarians tend to consume meat and seafood—either occasionally or in small amounts. But because they eat more plants than meat, they also fall into the plant-based bucket.

▶ People who follow Mediterranean or Paleo diets might eat meat as often as every day. But they tend to also eat a lot of whole plant foods. As long as plants make up a significant portion of what they eat, we’d consider them plant-based, too.

This chart (see below) shows what different plant-based eaters are willing to eat and not eat.

Chart shows what different types of plant-based eaters are willing to eat and/or do. 1) Flexitarian: red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, plants, buy leather/furs; 2) Pollo-vegetarian: poultry, eggs, plants, buy leather/furs; 3) Pescatarian: seafood, plants, buy leather/furs; 4) Lacto-ovo vegetarian: eggs, dairy, plants, buy leather/furs; 5) Lacto-vegetarian: dairy, plants, buy leather/furs; 6) Ovo-vegetarian: eggs, plants, buy leather/furs; 7) Fully-plant based: plants, buy leather/furs; 8) Vegan: plants

The above only paints a partial picture—as many plant-based eaters don’t fit into just one box. There are pescatarians who eat seafood, eggs, and dairy—as well as pescatarians who eat seafood, but no other animal products.

Similarly, some vegetarians and fully plant-based eaters are okay with products made from animals (such as leather or fur), while others are not.

Still other people allow animal products into their lives sometimes—but not other times. For example, one of our clients sees herself as a vegan who never eats animal products in any form—except for cupcakes. If she’s in a bakery and no vegan options are available, she’ll enjoy whatever looks delicious.

Pros of Plant-Based and Vegetarian Diets

Plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Gallbladder disease 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

However, plant-based eaters may be healthier not because they eat less meat—but rather because of the following reasons:

Reason #1: Plant-based diets attract health-conscious individuals.

Generally speaking, plant-based eaters are the kind of people who floss their teeth, exercise, take the stairs, sleep 7 to 9 hours, and get regular check ups.6

In other words, they might be healthier not only because of what they do and don’t eat, but also because of their overall lifestyle.

Reason #2: Plant-based eaters tend to eat more plants. (Duh.)

Plant-based eaters tend to score pretty high on something called the Healthy Eating Index, which is a measure of dietary quality.

Because plant-based eaters usually consume more minimally-processed whole plant foods that have known health-protective effects, they drive down their risk for disease.7

Reason #3: Minimally-processed plant foods tend to be nutrient-dense.

Just one example: A cup of broccoli, berries, or black beans contains more nutrients than a slice of pizza, for much fewer calories. Depending on the plant food, these nutrients can include:

  • Antioxidants, which help protect our DNA from free radical damage.
  • Phytonutrients, plant chemicals thought to promote good health.
  • Myconutrients, health-promoting compounds found in mushrooms.
  • Fiber, indigestible plant material that bulks up stool (reducing constipation), as well as helps regulate appetite and control cholesterol and blood sugar.
  • Healthy fats like the monounsaturated fats found in avocados and the polyunsaturated fats found in seeds and nuts.

Reason #4: Minimally-processed plant foods tend to fill us up, crowding out processed foods.

Plants contain a lot of water, which adds weight and volume to food, without adding calories. They also contain fiber to slow digestion.

End result: They’re pretty dang filling.

So when people consume more plants, they tend to eat fewer ultra-processed refined foods like chips, cookies, and mac and cheese. 8, 9

(If you’ve ever had a “salad baby,” you know how hard it is to follow up with a milkshake or a bag of chips.)

The Cost of Restricting Food Groups

Whenever you make a dietary change, you face some tradeoffs.

See the chart below: As dietary restrictions increase, time-commitment and nutrient deficiency risk go up, too.

On the other hand, as consumption of highly-processed foods increases, time-commitment drops—while deficiency risk rises.

This chart is titled “The Continuum of Nutrition.” At the top of the chart is a horizontal green bar: On the left end it reads, “Greatest Nutrient Variety”; on the right end, it reads, “Greatest Deficiency Risk.” On the left side of the chart, there’s a vertical orange bar. On the bottom end it reads, “Harder to Maintain”; on the top end, it reads, “Easier to Maintain.” Types of eating styles are plotted based on where they fall on both continuums. “Whole food omnivore” ranks well on “easier to maintain” and “greatest nutrient variety.” “Whole food pescatarian” is a little harder than that in both categories, but still scores well overall. “Whole food vegetarian” and “whole food vegan” both move farther away on both continuums, with “whole food vegan” being the hardest to maintain and having the least nutrient variety of the aforementioned approaches. However, all of these approaches provide great nutrient variety than the processed food version of each approach. Those fall in the same order, but are each at progressively greater risk of nutrient deficiency.

Reason #5: Strict food rules can work.

It takes work—label reading, food prep, menu scrutiny—to follow a well-rounded plant-based diet, which leads to healthier choices. Plus, if someone’s a strict vegan or vegetarian, the “don’t eat” list can eliminate less nutritious, high-calorie foods, like wings and pork rinds.

(Learn more: The modern diet dilemma: Is it better to eat meat? Go vegan? Something in between? The truth about what’s right for you.)

Is it possible to eat enough protein on a plant-based diet?

Despite popular belief, many plant foods contain decent amounts of protein.

So, protein deficiency among plant-based eaters isn’t as common as you might think.

Check out how plant proteins stack up.

FOOD PROTEIN (in grams)
Animal-based protein sources Per palm-sized portion*
Skinless chicken breast, grilled 31
Cottage cheese 25
Greek yogurt, plain 22
Shrimp, cooked 21
Eggs 12
Plant-based  protein sources
Seitan, cooked 22
Tempeh, cooked 18
Tofu, drained and cooked 16
Plant-based fat sources Per thumb-sized portion*
Pumpkin seeds 2
Peanut butter 3.5
Plant-based carb sources Per cupped hand*
Cooked lentils 8
Bread, multigrain 5
Pasta 4
Non-starchy vegetables Per fist*
Broccoli 3
Spinach 1
Carrots 1

* Palm-sized = 3-4 oz cooked meat / tofu, 1 cup cottage cheese / Greek yogurt, 2 whole eggs; Cupped handful = 1/2-2/3 cup cooked grains / legumes, medium-sized fruit / tuber;
Thumb = 1 tbsp; Fist = 1 cup

A couple of caveats:

▶  Whole foods are important. Clients who regularly consume tempeh, legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds will have little trouble meeting their protein requirements.

On the other hand, clients who eat mostly refined pasta, refined bread, vegan cupcakes, and toaster pastries may struggle.

▶ Plant-based proteins are generally not as rich in essential amino acids—nor are they as well-absorbed—as animal-based proteins.

For folks who rely solely on plants, protein needs slightly increase, compared to omnivores, to account for this protein quality discrepancy. See our article about plant-based proteins to learn more.

The Cons of Plant-Based Diets

Here’s the bad news…

Anytime you omit entire groups of foods, you must work harder to get all the nutrients your body needs. This is especially true if someone:

  • Is fully plant-based or vegan.
  • Tends to eat a diet rich in highly-processed foods.

To reduce the risk for deficiencies, aim for a diet composed of 80 to 90 percent whole, minimally-processed foods.

Also, consider the following nutrient-specific advice.

Calcium

In addition to keeping bones and teeth strong, calcium helps muscles—including your heart muscle—work properly.

Dairy products offer a particularly rich source, with each serving supplying nearly a third of the 1000 to 1200 milligrams the typical person needs every day.

To get enough calcium from non-dairy foods, use this advice:

▶ Consume several servings of high-calcium plant foods a day. Calcium-rich plant foods include leafy greens (collards, turnip greens, kale), calcium-set tofu, sesame seed butter, blackstrap molasses, okra, broccoli, figs, beans, almonds, edamame, soy nuts, and fortified plant milks. To increase absorption, cook calcium-rich greens rather than consume them raw.

▶ Cut back on salt, alcohol, and soft drinks. When people consume a lot of alcohol, salt, and soft drinks, they tend to take in fewer nutrient-dense, minimally-processed whole foods. For example, when someone chooses a soft drink, they’re not choosing a calcium-enriched plant milk. When they sit down with a bowl of salty chips, by default they’re not having broccoli or figs. 

▶ Exercise. Weight-bearing exercise stimulates bones, helping them to increase their density and reduce risk of fractures.

Vitamin B12

Our bodies need B12 to make DNA, strengthen blood vessels, and keep nerves working. Because B12 is involved in red blood cell formation, deficiency can lead to anemia.

Though a few plants contain substances that the body can convert to B12, we don’t absorb and use these substances as readily as the B12 present in animal products.10 Plus, many people over age 50 are already deficient, whether they eat meat or not.

That’s because, as we age, our stomachs make less acid (which breaks down B12) and intrinsic factor (which helps the body absorb B12). And some medications—such as acid blockers—reduce absorption even more.

For these reasons, a daily B12 supplement is a good idea for:

  • People over 50.
  • People who take medications that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, such as those used to treat reflux, ulcers, and diabetes.
  • People who are partially or fully plant-based.

Even with supplements, some people might show signs of deficiency: fatigue, dizziness or loss of balance, and reduced mental function.

In those cases, their health care provider can check their B12 levels with a blood test and potentially prescribe intramuscular (injected) B12, which is better absorbed than oral (including sublingual) supplements.

Omega-3 fats

These fats are helpful in preventing heart disease as well as important for the development of eye, nerve and brain tissue (especially in fetuses and babies).

Omega-3 fats come in a few forms:

▶ Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA):
The richest sources of EPA and/or DHA are found in sea vegetables (such as seaweed) and seafood, especially fatty varieties like salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, and oysters.

▶ Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 
Flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, soy, dark leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables are all rich sources of ALA.

Our bodies must convert ALA into EPA or DHA before using it. About 90% of the ALA fat is lost during the conversion. In other words, if you consume 2.5 grams of ALA from plants, your body will only convert and use only about 10 percent, or .25 grams.11

Bottom line: Non-seafood-eating clients will want to include legumes, nuts, flaxseed oil, hemp, ground flaxseed, walnuts, and other ALA-rich foods daily.12

Iron

Because iron carries oxygen around the body, low levels can lead to fatigue.

Animal products are a particularly rich source of a type of iron called heme that our bodies absorb more easily than the non-heme iron found in beans, peas, lentils, and other plants. (Your body absorbs about 15 to 35 percent of the heme iron you eat, but only about 2 to 20 percent of non-heme iron.)

To help boost iron intake and absorption, use this advice:

▶ Increase absorption by consuming iron-rich plant foods with foods high in vitamin C. Use the chart below for ideas. Maybe you make a tofu stir fry with broccoli or a bean salad with tomatoes, peppers, and a squeeze of lime.

Rich in iron Rich in vitamin C
Pumpkin seeds Citrus fruit and juices (ex: oranges)
Tofu Cantaloupe
Tempeh Strawberries
Edamame Broccoli
Lentils Tomatoes
Beans Peppers
Peas Winter squash
Sunflower seeds Watermelon
Nuts Guava
Hummus Kale
Almond butter Kiwi
Leafy greens Potatoes
Fortified foods
Potatoes
White and oyster mushrooms
Amaranth
Spelt
Oats
Quinoa
Dark chocolate

▶ Cook with cast iron cookware. Research shows it can increase the iron content of the food you eat.13

▶ Don’t drink coffee or black tea with food. These drinks contain tannins that inhibit the absorption of iron.

People who thrive on plant-based diets

Some people jump right into plant-based eating with gusto and stay immersed for life. They look and feel amazing, so much so that they can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t eat this way.

Other people? They struggle. They don’t feel good and/or just can’t get in the hang of it.

What makes the difference?

People who do best on plant-based diets:

✓ Have an open-minded “I’ll try anything once” approach to eating. Sea veggies? Slimy fermented soy? Bring it.

✓  Embrace minimally-processed whole foods such as vegetables, beans, and lentils.

✓ Have the time and inclination to search out vegetarian recipes, restaurants, and meal-delivery options.

✓ Have support from family/friends who may also follow their lifestyle.

✓ Have a deep “why” for being plant-based, such as “I just can’t stand the idea of harming animals” or “I want to do everything possible to shrink my carbon footprint.”

✓ Are flexible about their plant-based identity. They’re okay consuming eggs, dairy, seafood, or meat from time to time, if no other options exist.

People who struggle on plant-based diets:

Cook for picky eaters who either love meat or hate plant-foods—or both.

✓ Prefer highly-processed refined foods over minimally-processed plant foods.

Lack a strong “why” for going plant-based.

Lack the time and energy to investigate new recipes or restaurants.

How to coach clients on plant-based diets

To help clients succeed, consider this advice.

Strategy #1: Don’t assume you know what clients mean when they say, “I’m a vegetarian” or “I’m plant-based.”

As we mentioned earlier, there are many types of plant-based and vegetarian eaters. So ask questions like:

  • What does “vegetarian” or “plant-based” mean to you?
  • Could you tell me a little more about what foods you enjoy eating and what foods you choose to eliminate?
  • What do you eat and how often?

Clients have given us a wide range of answers to those questions.

Some say they’re vegetarian before dinner. Pre-dinner they eat no meat. During dinner, however, they’ll have whatever everyone else is having.

Others eat vegetarian while at home, but anything goes in social settings.

Strategy #2: Understand their why.

Different people have different reasons for adopting a plant-based diet—and some of those reasons are more powerful drivers of motivation than others.

It’s probably easy to see how someone who is allergic to eggs could easily stop eating them for the rest of their life.

But let’s say someone has a vague notion that “meat is bad”—based on a documentary they watched. And they happen to love bacon. And burgers.

Sure, their vague “meat is bad” perception might motivate them… for a while. But as the memory of the documentary fades, they’ll probably find that bacon and other beloved foods creep back in.

(BTW, if nutrition fads leave you frustrated, check out: How to talk to clients (and your mother) about the latest Netflix documentary.)

In these cases, we like to use an exercise called “the 5 Whys.”

Originally used by the Toyota Motor Corporation and adapted for nutrition coaching by Precision Nutrition, it cuts to the core of why we want something.

Ask your client: Why do you want to go plant-based?

Then, based on whatever the client offers, ask why again.

And so on, up to five times.

Here’s an example from one of our vegetarian clients. It took 4 whys to get to his true reason:

Coach: So, tell me a little more about your reasons for being a vegetarian. Why do you want to do this?
Client: Well, I grew up vegetarian. In my religion, we don’t eat meat.
Coach: That’s really interesting. Tell me a little more about that. Why do you believe you shouldn’t eat meat?
Client: {Laughs} I don’t personally believe that. My religion says that.
Coach: Okay, I see. But why do you do it if you don’t really believe it’s bad?
Client: See, it’s my family. My siblings and parents are more devout than I am. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still religious. I’m just not as religious as they are. And I don’t want them to think badly about me.
Coach: I can understand why you’d want to remain close to your family. I’m curious: If you’re only a vegetarian because you don’t want your family to think badly of you, why do you remain vegetarian when they’re not around?
Client: Truthfully? I don’t. I mean, I don’t eat a lot of meat, mostly because of guilt. But, if my family isn’t around, I’m happy to go to rib fest, you know?

This conversation helped this client to understand that he was probably going to eat meat from time to time. His “why” just wasn’t powerful enough to help him completely abstain.

Plus, he was okay with eating meat—as long as his family didn’t see him do it.

Strategy #3: Talk about likely obstacles.

Work together to brainstorm situations likely to arise—and how clients plan to deal with them.

  • What will they do when they’re out with friends who encourage them, “Oh come on, just have one wing”?
  • How will they respond when grandma says, “I know you love meatloaf. That’s why I made this—just for you honey”?
  • How will they handle restaurants with little to no plant-based or vegetarian options?

After talking through some of these likely situations, ask clients: How comfortable are you with flexibility?

In other words, do they want to choose plant foods no matter what? Or are some animal products okay… in certain situations?

Remind clients that:

An imperfect plan done consistently beats a perfect plan done rarely.

Some of our clients have said that an imperfect plan means they’re okay eating:

  • Commercially-prepared soups made with chicken broth, but not if they contain chunks of meat.
  • Meat, if a friend serves it to them, but not if they’re home preparing their own meals.
  • Salads, even if it comes with small bacon bits sprinkled on top.
  • Wings, if it’s a special occasion.
  • Turkey, stuffing, and/or gravy at a holiday meal with extended family.

Flexible clients can think about health habits being like a volume dial.

If they’re new to plant-based eating, they might want to start with the dial pretty low. Maybe it’s at a 1, with them consuming a plant-based meal once a week or even once a month.

Over time, they might want to up the dial to a 3, with all of their breakfasts 100-percent plant-based.

They might decide that a 5 is as far as they want to go. Or they may want to keep increasing the volume, eventually ending up at a 10, with every single meal coming from plants.

But just because they get to a 10 doesn’t mean they need to stay there.

Some days, it’s easy to eat at a 10. Other days, many people find they must lower the “volume,” allowing for a little meat or animal products.

By turning the volume down and up as needed, people can continue to embrace plant-based eating consistently.

(To learn more, check out this infographic: How to use the “dial method” to improve your diet, fitness, and health.)

Strategy #4: Brainstorm ways to shape their environment.

Plant-based eaters live in the same environment as everyone else—which is to say, chances are good they’re:

  1. Surrounded by highly-processed food options.
  2. Often choose foods based on convenience.

This environment will influence their food decisions.

You’re more likely to eat food that’s close and easy to grab than food that’s farther away or out of sight.

And you’re less likely to eat food that requires work to prepare—washing, peeling, slicing—than food that can go straight from the fridge or cupboard and into your mouth.

To eat enough minimally-processed whole foods, clients will want to make those foods easy to eat. At that same time, they’ll want to make highly-processed refined foods harder to eat. To accomplish this, they might:

  • Always have ready-to-munch sliced veggies in the fridge.
  • Soak beans and/or lentils every Sunday.
  • Buy bagged, prewashed salad mix.
  • Store highly processed snacks on a high shelf, out of sight.

By making these tweaks, they’ll be much more likely to grab and eat the foods that help them meet their nutrition requirements.

The Plant-Based Diet: What to eat

Traditionally, a vegetarian’s plate is filled with a lot of plants: vegetables, fruit, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and oils. Depending on the person, there might also be some dairy, fish, or eggs.

Using the food lists shown in this infographic—a visual guide to plant-based eating—consider how you could move along a spectrum, starting from your current eating pattern to choices that are more whole food and plant-based, and less processed.

For a complete guide that includes how much protein, carbs, fat you should eat, plug your info into our macros calculator. (It’s FREE and gives you a customized plan based on your diet preferences and goals.)

Plant-based diets: Do they work—for you?

There’s really only one proven way to know if a plant-based diet works for you:

Try it.

Treat it like an experiment. Define what plant-based means to you. Then dive in—for at least two weeks.

After at least 2 weeks, take this short quiz—it’ll help you assess if your eating strategy is working. You can come back to the quiz time and again—and for any diet approach—so you might want to bookmark it.

No matter your results, remember this: It’s all okay.

As we mentioned earlier: You can always turn down the “volume.” Rather than eating plants for most meals, you might try for half of them. Or for just breakfasts. Or one dinner a week.

Or whatever other option feels doable to you.

This isn’t about earning awards for plant-based perfection. It’s about being consistent—with whatever incrementally better habits you can manage.

And if you decide that plant-based eating just isn’t for you? No biggie!

There are many other ways to eat well. (You might consider Mediterranean, Keto, Paleo, reverse dieting, or intermittent fasting as other options).

Or try the “anything” diet laid out in our Precision Nutrition Calculator. Keep experimenting and trying new things. Eventually, you’ll land on the best diet—for you.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Rizzo NS, Sabaté J, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Fraser GE. Vegetarian dietary patterns are associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome: the adventist health study 2. Diabetes Care. 2011 May;34(5):1225–7.

2. Melina V, Craig W, Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 Dec;116(12):1970–80

3. Huang R-Y, Huang C-C, Hu FB, Chavarro JE. Vegetarian Diets and Weight Reduction: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Gen Intern Med. 2016 Jan;31(1):109–16

4. Yokoyama Y, Nishimura K, Barnard ND, Miyamoto Y. 22 – Blood Pressure and Vegetarian Diets. In: Mariotti F, editor. Vegetarian and Plant-Based Diets in Health and Disease Prevention. Academic Press; 2017. p. 395–413

5. Oussalah A, Levy J, Berthezène C, Alpers DH, Guéant J-L. Health outcomes associated with vegetarian diets: An umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Clin Nutr [Internet]. 2020 Mar 11; Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2020.02.037

6. Espinosa A, Kadić-Maglajlić S. The Mediating Role of Health Consciousness in the Relation Between Emotional Intelligence and Health Behaviors. Front Psychol. 2018 Nov 8;9:2161

7. Clarys P, Deliens T, Huybrechts I, Deriemaeker P, Vanaelst B, De Keyzer W, et al. Comparison of nutritional quality of the vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diet. Nutrients. 2014 Mar 24;6(3):1318–32

8. Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, Harris DM, Galuska D. Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption – United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017 Nov 17;66(45):1241–7.

9. Martínez Steele E, Baraldi LG, Louzada ML da C, Moubarac J-C, Mozaffarian D, Monteiro CA. Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2016 Mar 9;6(3):e009892

10. Watanabe F, Yabuta Y, Bito T, Teng F. Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians. Nutrients. 2014 May;6(5):1861.

11. Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012 Jan;3(1):1–7

12. Gebauer SK, Psota TL, Harris WS, Kris-Etherton PM. n-3 fatty acid dietary recommendations and food sources to achieve essentiality and cardiovascular benefits. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6 Suppl):1526S – 1535S.

13. Geerligs PDP, Brabin BJ, Omari AAA. Food prepared in iron cooking pots as an intervention for reducing iron deficiency anaemia in developing countries: a systematic review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2003 Aug;16(4):275–81.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post Plant-based nutrition: A complete guide for vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians, and more. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Is your current way of eating working for you?

And how do you know?

Let’s say you’re following a Paleo or vegetarian diet.

Or maybe you’re practicing mindful or intuitive eating.

Or you’re adding back carbs after doing keto for a few weeks.

Or you’re switching from strict calorie counting to using hand portions.

How do you know if those efforts are REALLY paying off?

Yes, you could just go by the scale or your measurements. But that doesn’t tell you much about your energy level, ability to think clearly, or how you feel.

It also doesn’t tell you whether the benefits you’re noticing outweigh any mental, physical, emotional, or social costs they might come with.  Because even if a diet gets you super pumped or lean, it may or may not be worth it to you if it means giving up nachos for the rest of your life.

(Watch this video to learn more about the kind of costs we’re talking about.)

That’s why we developed this quick and easy 16-question quiz.

It can help you decide whether to keep doing what you’re doing, make a few dietary tweaks, or abandon the approach altogether (ideally, for something that works way better for you).

How and when you use the quiz depends on the current state of your eating affairs. Consider which of the following describes you:

1. You’re wondering if your status quo is okay.

Maybe you’re not on a specific diet at all. You just eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Is that working?

Take the quiz now to find out.

2. You’re thinking about starting a new diet.

Bookmark this page. (People still do that, right?) Start the diet, keeping notes on what you eat, how you feel, and any issues or frustrations that pop up.

After at least two weeks, come back and take the quiz.

3. You’ve recently started a new eating approach or diet.

Maybe you’re counting macros, using hand portions, increasing your consumption of whole foods, or something else.

If you’re at least two weeks in, go ahead and take the quiz now.

4. You’ve been following a diet or new approach for a while.

Many weeks or months (or years!) in, you’re wondering: Is this eating plan meeting ALL of my needs? Can I stay on this plan long term and remain healthy, energetic, and happy?

Take the quiz now to find out.

The self-assessment

Choose the number that best matches how strongly you agree with the following statements.

On a scale of 1 (never) to 10 (always), most of the time…

1. When I eat this way, I feel pretty good in general.

Never
Always

012345678910

2. When I eat this way, I have reliable, sustained energy without crashing.

Never
Always

012345678910

3. I try to choose the best quality foods available.

Never
Always

012345678910

4. This way of eating is easy to do and fits into my everyday life.

Never
Always

012345678910

5. I know what kinds of foods to choose and eat.

Never
Always

012345678910

6. I feel confident and capable cooking and preparing food and meals.

Never
Always

012345678910

7. When I eat this way, I rarely struggle with food cravings or urges to overeat.

Never
Always

012345678910

8. When I eat this way, I digest my food well.

Never
Always

012345678910

9. I’m performing and recovering well.

Never
Always

012345678910

10. On social occasions, such as going out with friends to a restaurant, I can almost always find something I enjoy and feel comfortable eating.

Never
Always

012345678910

11. I truly enjoy the taste and experience of what I eat.

Never
Always

012345678910

12. I feel calm and relaxed about my food choices. It’s no big deal, just part of my life.

Never
Always

012345678910

13. The way I’m eating matches my specific goals for health, fitness, and performance.

Never
Always

012345678910

14. The way I’m eating measurably helps me progress towards my goals.

Never
Always

012345678910

15. The way I’m eating reflects my deeper values, or the way I want to live.

Never
Always

012345678910

16. Even if other people pressure me to do something differently, or my style of eating doesn’t match others around me, I’m able to follow my own cues or goals.

Never
Always

012345678910

Total score:

128 and above: Crushing it!

This way of eating is working beautifully for you. Keep on doing your thing.

104 to 127: This is promising.

Overall, things are going well with your eating experiment. You might consider making some small changes, but it looks like you’re moving in the right direction.

80-103: Mixed results.

This approach might be working well for you in some areas, but you’re probably struggling in others. Consider if there are any tweaks you could make that would make it feel more sustainable.

Less than 80: This isn’t working for you.

Based on this assessment, you’re experiencing some issues. But don’t feel bad about that. Instead, think of it as an experiment that helped you understand something important: This eating approach may not be for you—at least not right now.

Where do you go from here? That ultimately depends on you.

Success depends on a plan you can stick with consistently that has trade-offs you’re comfortable with. (To learn more about what we mean about trade-offs, check out: The cost of getting lean.)

With that in mind, you might decide to:

Read up on other diets.

Maybe you’re interested in learning about:

Or perhaps you just want to follow a well-balanced diet that allows you to consume a wide range of foods—with no hard exclusions. (In that case, use our Nutrition Calculator and check out “the anything diet.”)

Get a customized plan.

Plug your info into the Precision Nutrition Calculator. This FREE macro calculator provides you with an individualized plan based on your personal diet preferences and goals.

Make one small change.

For example, you might:

Whether you make a big change or a small one, keep an experimentation mindset. Try something that seems like it might work for you. Test it out for a couple of weeks. Use the above tool to evaluate how it went—and keep moving forward from there.

Over time, you’ll keep some strategies and jettison others.

Eventually, you’ll arrive at the best diet—for you.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

The post Best diet quiz: Is that diet REALLY working for you? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Basics | IgG TestsFree Tests | Accuracy | Downsides of IgG Tests | Meal Planning

Do expensive food sensitivity tests work?

Are there lower cost (or free) ways to root out food sensitivities?

And, perhaps most important, what should people do with their results?

In this article, you’ll learn the answers to those questions (and more!), including:

+++

Why get a food sensitivity test?

When people decide to get a food sensitivity test, they’re usually desperate to feel better. For years they’ve been bothered by stomach upset, bloating, embarrassing gas or belching, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or brain fog.

Despite giving up any number of foods—gluten, dairy, onions, garlic, this list goes on—their problems persist.

So, when they learn about food sensitivity tests that require only a finger prick’s worth of blood, they’re relieved. They can’t wait to find out what’s wrong—and finally get back to living without an unpleasant digestive emergency lurking around the corner.

How do I know this?

As a registered dietitian, I’ve counseled hundreds of people with mysterious and maddening GI woes. 

Plus, I was practically born with an upset stomach.

During my childhood, my mom took me from one specialist to another. Medical experts suggested I might be sensitive to gluten. Or maybe dairy.

Or gluten and dairy?

No matter what I stopped eating, I just couldn’t shake my digestive issues.

By the end of high school, I had the runs nearly every day.

If you can imagine that, then you can no doubt understand why I decided to major in nutrition and eventually become a registered dietitian. I was looking for answers to help me solve the problem once and for all.

Maybe you can also understand why, during my freshman year in college, I found myself in the waiting room of a naturopathic physician who offered food sensitivity testing.

Despite what the test revealed that day, it would take me years to unravel what was really wrong. And that long search taught me many important lessons.

The best ways to identify and deal with food sensitivities.

Most people can test for food sensitivities and intolerances at home—no needles, blood work, or special kits required. 

Though at-home options like food journaling and elimination diets aren’t as easy as pricking your finger and sending your blood off to a lab, they’re more accurate and effective.

And there’s this: Some people—myself included—can clear up their symptoms without giving up a single food.

Put another way, millions of people are convinced that they can’t eat dozens of foods when, in reality, few (and, in some cases, none) of those foods are actually a problem for them.

I’ll explore all of that in this article, diving deep into the latest science as well as my personal experiences.

It’s my hope that what you’re about to learn not only helps you understand what’s actually going on, but also allows you to enjoy eating a wide variety of foods again, without fear. (Related: ‘What foods should I eat?’ Your three-step guide to choosing the best foods for your body.)

Let’s start with a few definitions.

What are food sensitivities?

Some people use the term “food sensitivities” as a catchall to describe a wide range of adverse symptoms that can be brought on by eating certain foods.1

Other people define sensitivities more narrowly.2 For them, food sensitivities are what’s left over when the following problems are ruled out

  • Food allergies: When the immune system mistakenly treats a component in food as if it were a germ. This can lead to a wide range of allergic responses: hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, and life-threatening drops in blood pressure.
  • Food intolerances: The inability to process or digest certain foods. For example, someone who is lactose intolerant doesn’t have adequate amounts of the digestive enzymes needed to break down lactose, a sugar present in dairy products.
  • Celiac disease: An autoimmune reaction that triggers gut inflammation and diarrhea when someone consumes gluten, a protein found in many grains, most notably wheat.

Still other people use the word “sensitivity” interchangeably with “intolerance.” They throw around the term IBS (short for irritable bowel syndrome)—trying to indicate that something in the diet is making someone feel sick, but they’re unsure of the culprit.

It’s all pretty confusing, so let’s make it simple.

For the purposes of this story, I’ll borrow a definition from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: “A food sensitivity occurs when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food.”3

Types of food sensitivity tests: What works?

Alrighty, so let’s circle back to what I started to tell you at the beginning of this article—about the day I underwent food sensitivity testing.

The naturopath pricked my finger and sent a few drops of my blood off to a lab.

About a week later, the doctor handed me a 10-page report that, she said, revealed I had a “weakened” immune response to dozens of foods: sugar, dairy, cooking oil, gelatin, baking powder, cornstarch, chocolate, butter, cheese, popcorn, pretty much all grains, veal, liver, beef, tree nuts, corn, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.

As I glanced over the report, I considered the food typically served at the campus dining hall.

I’d wanted clear answers and a workable plan to put into action. Instead, I left feeling overwhelmed and helpless. How could I possibly eliminate all of those foods for the rest of my life?

Is IgG food sensitivity testing accurate?

With food sensitivity testing, a lab analyzes how immunoglobulin G (IgG), an immune system antibody, reacts to roughly 100 different foods. The idea is that elevated IgG levels signal a food sensitivity.

This premise seems logical.

After all, that’s similar to the premise of food allergy blood testing, which measures a different antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).

When levels of IgE are elevated, it indicates someone’s immune system is pumping out substances that trigger parts of the body to swell up, break out in a rash, shut down, and/or eject things from the GI tract (a.k.a. vomiting).

Though IgE tests can deliver false positives, they’re relatively accurate, correctly diagnosing allergies 70 to 90 percent of the time.4 This is how you can know if you have, say, a nut allergy.

Unlike IgE tests, IgG tests are unregulated and unproven.

The few studies that seem to support IgG testing have been criticized for a variety of design flaws.5

(To learn what to look for in a study, see How to read scientific research.)

The premise behind IgG tests has also been called into question. That’s because elevated IgG probably isn’t a bad thing. Most experts consider it a normal immune response.

Our bodies likely develop IgG antibodies to all the foods we eat.

These antibodies may even be how the body marks a substance as “safe.”

As the chart below shows, when IgE is high, someone likely has a food allergy. But when IgE is low and IgG is high, it’s a sign that the body has become tolerant to a particular food.6

IgE IgG
Likely food allergy High Low
Likely food tolerance Low High

 

Put another way, if your blood reacts with IgG to a specific food, it probably doesn’t mean you’re sensitive to it. Rather, it may mean you’ve eaten that food somewhat recently.5,7

As a result the following organizations all strongly recommend against taking IgG food sensitivity tests:

  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology3
  • The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology8
  • The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology7

As the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology put it:

“The inappropriate use of this [IgG food sensitivity] test only increases the likelihood of false diagnoses being made, resulting in unnecessary dietary restrictions and decreased quality of life.”

3 big downsides of IgG tests

Maybe you’re thinking: So what if IgG tests are unproven? Does it really matter if someone wastes money on a test that doesn’t work?

It does matter—for at least three important reasons. An inaccurate food sensitivity blood test may mean that:

  1. You continue to eat foods that could be the source of your issues—because those foods didn’t react to the IgG in your blood.
  2. You stop eating a lot of foods that are perfectly okay for you to eat. That’s no fun. Worse, you could develop nutrient deficiencies.
  3. You fail to diagnose the true problem. This was the case with me. Roughly fifteen years after my IgG test, I underwent a colonoscopy. It revealed a rare, incredibly slow-moving, genetic ovarian tumor—one I’d likely had since birth. The tumor had grown outside of my ovary and through the wall of my digestive tract. Once I had my cancer removed, my digestive problems vanished.

Important note: All three of these downsides—especially the risk of nutritional deficiencies—intensify when children are involved.

On top of the drawbacks listed above, when young children are coddled and prevented from exposure to various foods, they’re more likely to develop allergies and/or sensitivities to those very foods as they get older.9

All this begs the question: How can you find out whether you really have food sensitivities? And if you do, what should you do about them?

6 problems that mimic food sensitivities

I thought I had food sensitivities. In reality, I had cancer—a tumor that had invaded my digestive tract.

My situation, however, is incredibly rare. Most people with bloating and frequent diarrhea don’t have cancer. Much more common, however, are the following:

1. A tendency to gulp down dinner

When we eat quickly, we swallow air bubbles, which lead to a puffy, bloated, gassy feeling.

And because it takes some time for the “I’m full” signal from the stomach and intestines to reach the brain, fast eating often triggers overeating, which only compounds that uncomfortable post-meal sense of unease.

(If you want a strategy that could be helpful here, check out the 30-day slow eating challenge.)

2. Too much fiber too quickly

Some people experience stomach pain, gas, and bloating after suddenly increasing their fiber intake.

For example, a client might decide to start eating nine servings of vegetables for a New Year’s resolution. If they hadn’t eaten many veggies before, this sudden change will overwork the GI tract’s peristalsis muscles as well as disturb the flora that live in the gut.

When they temporarily reduce their fiber intake and then slowly increase it, they feel a lot better.

3. Not enough fluids

Water is also incredibly important, as it helps to move stool through the digestive tract. Getting enough becomes essential if someone is increasing fiber intake.

A good general rule: When adding a serving or two of fiber, up your water consumption by 1-2 glasses.

4. Gut flora imbalance

Antibiotics can wipe out levels of friendly gut bacteria, allowing more problematic bugs to take over, leading to diarrhea and other symptoms.

Starting Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (for children) or Saccharomyces boulardii (for adults) within two days of your first antibiotic dose may help reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.10

5. Stress and lack of sleep

Stress diverts blood flow away from the GI tract, making it harder for the body to digest food effectively. End result: gas, pain, and bloating.

Before meals, I encourage my clients to try a Box Breathing sequence:

  • Inhale for 4 seconds.
  • Hold for 4 seconds.
  • Exhale for 4 seconds.
  • Hold for 4 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.

This short breathing exercise helps trigger relaxation, sending blood flow to the GI tract, priming it to digest the food about to be eaten. It can also help people to slow down.

End result: the heartburn, stomachaches, and bloating eases.

(For more strategies on how to reduce stress, read: How stress prevents weight loss.)

6. Food aversion

Sometimes the mere thought of a food may make someone sick, though the mechanism isn’t fully understood.

These aversions often occur in young children who’ve gotten sick—for example, from food poisoning or stomach flu—after eating a particular food. Their brain then seems to link the nauseated sensation to the food.

Zero-cost ways to test for food sensitivities—at home

When clients come to me with GI symptoms, I use two different tools to help them connect what they eat with how they feel.

Tool #1: Food journaling

For roughly a month, my clients keep track of:

  • What they eat and drink
  • How they eat (for example, wolfing down fast food while driving to an appointment vs. slowly savoring a home-cooked meal)
  • How much they eat (until just satisfied versus stuffed)
  • How they feel, and especially bothersome symptoms such as diarrhea, headaches, bloating, and stomach pain
  • How they sleep
  • Their stress level 

Once they have 30 days of data, we take a look at their journal entries in search of patterns.

To highlight those patterns, I like to bring a client’s attention to days when they experienced vexing symptoms, such as stomach upset. Then I ask:

“What do you notice in your journal in the 2 to 3 days leading up to that flare up? See anything interesting?”

If applicable, I also draw attention to any stretches of time when they had no symptoms at all—and I’ll ask the same question:

“What do you notice in the days leading up to this good stretch? Did you do anything differently during those days that you didn’t do in the days leading up to the flare up?”

This journaling exercise helps people identify sensitivities as well as see they may not have as many sensitivities as they thought.

For example, after looking over their journal, a client might say, “Whoa, I accidentally had dairy on Sunday, and I didn’t have any diarrhea the next day. That’s really weird. But I did have diarrhea just about every day this other week—and I was eating perfectly then. But I was super stressed out. Do you think there’s a connection?”

Want to try this with yourself or a client? Download this free Food and Feelings Journal to get started.

An illustration of a food journal you can use to help identify food sensitivities. Each day, the journal has you track how many hours you slept and to rate your stress levels from 1-10. It has space to enter the time you ate each meal, what you ate, how you ate (for example, slow and mindfully or fast over the sink), and what you noticed (for example, a stuffy nose an hour after eating or nothing, felt okay).

A simple way to start identifying food sensitivities.

Tool #2: The elimination diet

Elimination diets work a lot like a science experiment to help people identify foods that lead to a wide range of bothersome symptoms. And they do pretty much what the name suggests: exclude certain foods for a short period of time—usually three weeks.

After three weeks, clients then slowly reintroduce specific foods one at a time, each reintroduction spaced a few days apart. As they do so, they monitor their symptoms for possible reactions. Unlike food sensitivity blood tests, elimination diets are the gold standard for identifying food sensitivities.

The problem with elimination diets? They take time and effort.

Do I wish I had a fancy, high tech, super science-y way (like a blood test) to give clients a definitive answer? Absolutely. I do. Because a fancy blood test is easier (for most people) than food logs and elimination diets.

Right now, however, this trial and error approach to testing out different foods is the best we’ve got.

But… we have a tool that makes it easier: Precision Nutrition’s  FREE ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Elimination Diets.

This easy-to-use resource includes extensive food lists, recipes, and complete how-to instructions—everything you need to know to try an elimination diet with yourself for a client. (And like I said, it’s 100 percent free.)

How to talk to clients about food sensitivity testing

If you’re a nutrition coach, maybe you’ve had this experience: A client tells you that a food sensitivity test just revealed they can’t eat 47 different foods.

Maybe it’s a young parent who’s already at wit’s end trying to find dinners that all three kids will eat.

“It’s hard enough to cook for my family and make it nutritious and now I have 47 things on my list that I can’t eat anymore,” the client says. “What am I supposed to do?”

Despite my reservations about food sensitivity blood tests, I never start by debunking someone’s test results. That would just make them feel more confused, and possibly alienate them.

Instead, I say something like this:

“If you want to jump in and cut those foods out, we can start there. But, if you don’t mind, I’d love to talk about where you’re eating, why you’re eating, and how you’re eating. Because it’s all connected to what you’re eating and how you feel..”

From there, I usually ask clients a lot of questions:

  • How long does it take you to eat your meals?
  • What’s your sleep like?
  • Do you usually eat at home… or do most meals happen somewhere else, say in the car?
  • How would you describe your stress level?

This conversation often opens the door to food journaling. That’s key, because, as I mentioned earlier, a food journal can help clients see—for themselves—what triggers symptoms, and what doesn’t.

For people with multiple food sensitivities, this tool makes meal-planning easy.

Let’s circle back to the parent I mentioned in the previous section. How do you help someone who—legit or not—has a “can’t eat” list that includes 47 foods?

Shine a spotlight on everything they can eat rather than emphasizing what they can’t.

To do so, I print out lists of foods in the following categories: lean proteins, veggies, smart carbs, and healthful fats. Working together with a client, we circle all of the foods they can eat.

Then I ask clients to pick their favorite 10 to 15 in each category.

Once they know their favorites, they can scour cookbooks and cooking sites for recipes and meal ideas that feature those ingredients. (Psst: The local library often stocks all the cookbooks they need.)

Knowledge really can be life-changing.

I’m happy to tell you that my latest scans detected no evidence of cancer in my body. Even better, I now know I can safely eat many, many foods that I once thought were off-limits for me.

Like Brussels sprouts, which happen to be one of my all-time favorite vegetables. Oh, and chocolate. I’m definitely happy that food has come back into my life.

This bears repeating: Most people with digestive problems don’t have cancer. Unlike me, they may have a food sensitivity or two.

Or maybe they don’t have a food sensitivity at all—but rather one of the six (common) issues that mimic food sensitivities.

Our psychological state and our ability to manage our stress has a much bigger impact on digestion than most people realize.

And whether they have a sensitivity or not, many people might be avoiding a lot of foods they could be eating. And they’re living in fear that the meal they just consumed might have them racing to the nearest bathroom.

For these people, food journaling and elimination diets can not only save them money, they can be illuminating, and empowering. These free tools can help them enjoy eating (and life!) all over again.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. General Information on Food Allergies and Sensitivities. University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

2. Campos M. Food Allergy, Intolerance, or Sensitivity: What’s the Difference, and Why Does It Matter? Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical Schoo.

3. Food Tolerance Definition. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

4. Abrams EM, Sicherer SH. Diagnosis and management of food allergy. CMAJ. 2016 Oct 18;188(15):1087–93.

5. Kelso JM. Unproven Diagnostic Tests for Adverse Reactions to Foods. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2018 Mar;6(2):362–5.

6. Jones SM, Pons L, Roberts JL, Scurlock AM, Perry TT, Kulis M, et al. Clinical efficacy and immune regulation with peanut oral immunotherapy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Aug;124(2):292–300, 300.e1–97

7. Stapel SO, Asero R, Ballmer-Weber BK, Knol EF, Strobel S, Vieths S, et al. Testing for IgG4 against foods is not recommended as a diagnostic tool: EAACI Task Force Report. Allergy. 2008 Jul;63(7):793–6

8. Carr S, Chan E, Lavine E, Moote W. CSACI Position statement on the testing of food-specific IgG. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2012 Jul 26;8(1):12.

9. Chin B, Chan ES, Goldman RD. Early exposure to food and food allergy in children. Can Fam Physician. 2014 Apr;60(4):338–9

10. Blaabjerg S, Artzi DM, Aabenhus R. Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Outpatients-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Antibiotics (Basel). 2017 Oct 12;6(4). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics6040021

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

<!—Snippet to hide

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

–>

 

The post Food sensitivity tests: Which ones REALLY work? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

What is carb cycling? | Potential benefits | Quiz: Will carb cycling work for you? | Carb cycling plans

There’s a reason carb cycling is so popular.

According to people who are most enthusiastic about this method (often very fit-looking folks), it’s the perfect diet. They say carb cycling can help you:

  • Get the accelerated fat loss that comes from a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet… while still eating carbs and… without sacrificing exercise performance.
  • Avoid frustrating fat loss plateaus by better regulating hormones like leptin and insulin.
  • Gain muscle without gaining much fat.

But are these claims true? And even if so, will they hold true for YOU?

This article is going to help you decide if you should give carb cycling a try, or if instead, you might get better results with other strategies first.

(Strategies that might be more effective—for you personally—and require a lot less effort.)

Before we get started, though, let’s get one thing out of the way: Here at Precision Nutrition, we’re neither pro-carb cycling nor anti-carb cycling.

We’re pro-sustainable results. 

So we’re here to help you learn:

  • What carb cycling is
  • How carb cycling works (and how well it works)
  • Whether or not carb cycling is the right strategy for YOU (we’ve got an interactive quiz with your name on it)
  • How to carb cycle (if you decide to go for it)
  • How to determine if your carb cycling plan is actually working—so you can get the results you really want

Now get ready: Your crash course in carb cycling starts now.

Want the most important carb cycling information at your fingertips?

Download our carb cycling PDF guide, which includes: 

  • A carb cycling cheat sheet for quick and easy reference
  • A pre-carb cycling assessment
  • A step-by-step plan for figuring out if it works for you

Want to get it right now? Download the PDF carb cycling guide here.

If you’re a coach, these will be great to use with clients. And if you’re trying carb cycling yourself, you’ll have the info you need at the ready.

++++

Okay, so what is carb cycling?

Carb cycling is when you fluctuate between eating low-carb foods and high-carb foods.

The most common carb cycling approach is to eat fewer carbohydrates on some days and more carbohydrates on other days.

People who carb cycle usually end up calorie cycling, too. This means they eat fewer calories on their “low-carb days” and more calories on their “high-carb days.”

For example, a typical carb cycling schedule might look like this:

  • Non-workout days: low carb, low calorie
  • Workout days: high carb, high calorie

But that’s not the only way to cycle your carbs. Some folks carb cycle within a single day.

So they’ll eat high-carb foods around their workout, but have low-carb foods the rest of the day.

Because a typical carb cycling schedule requires counting macros or hand portions—and a good amount of nutrition planning—we consider it an intermediate to advanced nutrition strategy. Read: It’s kind of a pain to do and can pretty challenging for most people to do well.

As a result, it tends to work best for those who are highly-motivated: amateur and elite athletes, bodybuilders, and people who are paid based on how they look and perform.

You might be wondering… 

Why focus only on carbs and not protein or fat?

First and foremost, varying your carbohydrate intake may have a positive impact on many important hormones (we’ll dig more into that in a minute).

Fluctuating your fat and protein intake, on the other hand, won’t affect hormones for the better.

There’s also this:

Not-so-great stuff can happen when you don’t get enough protein or fat.

For example, if your fat intake stays too low, your menstrual cycle might halt. And if your protein intake stays too low, you can lose muscle and experience mood swings.

You’re probably not interested in any of that, let’s just keep this conversation about carbs.

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What does carb cycling do, exactly?

In theory, it can do quite a few things. So we’ll give you a rundown of the top five potential benefits of carb cycling.

But before we do, it’s important to know: There’s hardly any human research on carb cycling.

Mostly, we have anecdotal reports about how carb cycling works, along with a few hypotheses based on biochemistry.

Those are valuable, but on a 1 to 10 scale of scientific confidence, carb cycling ranks closer to a 1 than a 10.

So keep that in mind when you hear or read claims about carb cycling.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers. Here’s what carb cycling might do.

#1: Carb cycling may help keep your metabolism humming during fat loss.

When you eat less—say, to lose fat—your body responds in a variety of ways. For example:

  • Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) drops
  • You expend less energy when you exercise
  • Your daily activity outside of workouts tends to decrease naturally (you move around less without even realizing it).

So as you lose weight, you have to continue reducing how much you eat in order to keep seeing results.

Example: Let’s say you start a 2,000 calorie a day diet and lose weight steadily for a while. Over time, you might find that stops working. So you might have to cut back to 1,800 calories to kickstart weight loss again.

This is called metabolic adaptation, and you can no doubt see why it’s a problem.

The more your metabolism adapts, the more you have to restrict your food intake.

As a result, the harder it’s going to be to achieve your goal—and maintain your weight loss down the road. (Learn more: Can eating too little actually damage your metabolism?)

But carb cycling proponents say the approach can prevent metabolic adaptation.

The rationale: Regularly mixing in high-carb, high-calorie days “jumpstarts” your metabolism and keeps it from adapting.

Again, there’s no strong evidence to support this claim, but it also hasn’t been refuted.

(By the way, metabolic adaptation is the same principle behind reverse dieting, another advanced nutrition strategy.)

#2: Carb cycling may help regulate hormones affected by fat loss.

Intense dieting can mess with your hormones. Specifically:

  • Leptin
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Reproductive hormones (testosterone and estrogen)

If you’re trying to lose fat, leptin’s a particular concern. (Even though thyroid hormones, testosterone, and estrogen seem to get all the press.)

Released by fat tissue, leptin plays a key role in hunger and metabolic adaptation.

The more body fat you have, the more leptin in your blood. Your brain uses leptin levels to make decisions about hunger, calorie intake, nutrient absorption, and energy use.1

That’s a lot of factors related to fat loss.

Now here’s where it gets interesting: When you reduce calorie intake, even just for a few days, leptin levels drop.2

This tells your brain you need to eat to prevent starvation.

The takeaway: Leptin is one of the reasons you feel so hungry when you consistently eat less. 

Leptin is also considered the “master controller” of other hormones, meaning that when leptin drops, so do thyroid and reproductive hormones.

Okay, so what does this have to do with carb cycling?

The idea is this: By periodically eating more calories from carbohydrates (known as “refeeding”), our leptin levels will temporarily rise.

Hypothetically, this would tell your brain that you’re well-fed, causing a temporary decrease in hunger and appetite.

And because of this little high-carb, high-calorie break, it might feel easier to stick to a lower calorie intake on low-carb days. Plus, you could be less likely to experience the negative effects of not having enough of other important hormones.

There’s some evidence for this, though it’s very limited. What’s more, the “refeeds” involved are usually longer than one day.3

Still, there may be very real psychological benefits.

When you’re generally eating lower-carb and lower-calorie, getting in a higher-carb, higher-calorie day on purpose can feel really good physically and mentally. (Who doesn’t love a “cheat” day?)

#3: Carb cycling may make it easier to stick to a low-carbohydrate diet.

Low-carb diets can be effective for fat loss, especially for people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.4 (It should be noted, though, that they’re not necessarily more effective than low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets.5 6)

What counts as low carb? You might call any diet that provides fewer than 30 percent of your daily calories from carbs a “low-carb diet.” (Experts often debate the exact percentage here, with some saying it’s 20 percent and others saying it’s even less.)

The ketogenic diet, a popular form of low-carb eating, is more specific. It’s very low in carbs, and very high in fat (usually <10 percent carbohydrate and >60 percent fat).

(To understand more about the differences between keto and low carb, see: The ketogenic diet: everything you need to know.)

Though low-carb and ketogenic diets can be effective for fat loss, most people can’t stick with them over a longer period of time. (This also goes for any other kind of restrictive eating style.)

So it’s been suggested that alternating between lower-carb and higher-carb days may better help people maintain a lower-carb eating style—and their results—long-term. In the case of someone doing keto, this is referred to as a cyclical ketogenic diet.

You could think of it this way: You eat a ketogenic most of the time but have little mini-breaks—that last a day or two—where you can enjoy higher-carb meals.

#4: Carb cycling may support athletic performance on a low-carb diet.

The ketogenic diet is also sometimes used by athletes who want to be fat adapted. Being fat-adapted allows you to burn greater amounts of fat at higher exercise intensities, according to several studies.7 8 9

Burning more fat always sounds like a good thing, of course. But how might it help with exercise performance?

That deserves a little more explanation.

Here’s the background: To fuel long bouts of endurance exercise, your body normally relies heavily on carbohydrates stored in the form of glycogen.

Unfortunately, your body can only store so much glycogen at a time. So if you exercise long enough, you’ll run low on carbs and have to slow down.

That’s why endurance athletes usually consume 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour during competitions. It gives them more fuel so they can keep going hard.

This is where being fat-adapted may come in handy.

As many of us know all too well, it’s easy for your body to store lots of fat in the form of fat tissue.

Even very lean people have 15 times more energy available from stored fat than from stored carbohydrate.10

So if you become fat-adapted, your body relies more heavily on fat—instead of carbs—to fuel long endurance exercise.

That would mean you wouldn’t have to deal with the inconvenience (and potential GI distress) of consuming an energy gel every 90 minutes during a longer exercise session.11 Plus, it might make you less likely to “bonk.”

Some have even suggested being fat-adapted could help improve exercise performance and recovery, too, though this is debated by researchers.12

Now, keep in mind: All of the above is only referring to how a ketogenic (low-carb, high-fat) diet might benefit endurance performance.

So how does carb cycling fit in?

The idea is this: You get fat-adapted by eating a ketogenic diet for several days. But then you cycle in a couple of high-carb days.

These high-carb days allow you to max-out your glycogen stores. The hope is that you can do this without disrupting the hypothetical performance benefits of the ketogenic diet.

Combined, this could give you the best of both worlds: Lots of energy to burn, from both carbs and fat.

It’s important to note, though, that the evidence doesn’t currently support the performance benefits of a ketogenic diet on a wide scale.

So based on what we know now: For most people, adopting a cyclical ketogenic diet specifically because you want to perform better is most likely more trouble than it’s worth.

#5: Carb cycling may promote muscle gain without fat gain.

Fat gain almost always accompanies muscle growth.

But some carb cycling enthusiasts say the key to gaining muscle without gaining much fat is the hormone insulin.

Whenever you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises, and insulin is released.

Insulin helps regular your blood sugar levels. It also plays a key role in muscle growth and glycogen storage.

The hypothesis goes:

  • If you eat high carb on days you resistance train, you can take advantage of insulin’s muscle-building and recovery properties
  • If you eat low carb on rest or conditioning workout days, you can simultaneously lose fat and improve insulin sensitivity, making the high-carb days even more effective

That’s the high-level version. But the reality? It’s a lot more complicated than that, and there aren’t any diet studies that support it.

(Learn more: The truth about carbs, insulin, and fat loss.)

So…

Remember: We’re not totally sure carb cycling works.

What are we more confident about?

The big rocks.

Imagine your time as a jar that can be filled with a finite number of rocks, pebbles, and grains of sand.

The big rocks are the eating and lifestyle practices most necessary to see results. (You can read more about these in our article on the 5 universal principles of good nutrition.)

The pebbles are things that’ll help but aren’t totally necessary.

The sand is purely “bonus” stuff. It may help, but it’s not crucial, and it won’t have a big impact.

Carb cycling is a sand habit.

Illustrations showing how different health and fitness habits, including carb cycling, impact body composition. Big rock habits make the most impact, pebble habits make a little impact, and sand habits (like carb cycling), make minimal impact.

Carb cycling might make a small difference, but it doesn’t come close to big rock habits in terms of impact.

So… does carb cycling work?

If you mean, “Can carb cycling help me lose fat and improve body composition?”, the answer is yes. As long as, overall, you’re expending more calories than you’re consuming.

It might even work great for you, if it’s a good fit for your eating preferences and lifestyle.

But if you mean, “Is it superior to other methods?”, that’s hard to say. Because lack of evidence.

Our take: If it provides any incremental benefit, it’s minute. For most people, it’s a high effort, low impact deal.

(The key term here is most people. For example, if you’re an athlete with more than one competition in a day, nutrient timing is a whole lot more important.)

Who should try carb cycling?

Though carb cycling isn’t right for everyone, it can work for specific types of people.

You’re most likely to benefit from carb cycling if…

▶ You have your big rock habits down. 

You’re already eating lots of minimally-processed whole foods and little highly-processed fare. You’re exercising. You’re getting plenty of quality sleep. And you’re eating mindfully.

And because these big rocks are already in place, carb cycling becomes something to experiment with—instead of being the primary method of achieving results.

Since we aren’t 100 percent sure carb cycling works in all scenarios (in fact, not even close to 100 percent sure), this is an important box to check before getting started.

▶ You’re already very lean but want to get leaner. 

When you’ve already gotten super lean, your body will start to fight every last bit of fat loss. Cycling calorie and carb intake might help stave off the metabolic adaptation that often occurs with a chronic, ongoing calorie deficit.

Plus, cycling intake can make a calorie deficit feel like less of a grind. That’s because it lets you block off “eat less” days into small, manageable units instead of several weeks of miserable, hungry slogging.

▶ You want to manage training and nutritional stress (and are already implementing other key strategies).

If you’re concerned about how the stress of hard training and a chronic calorie deficit is affecting your hormones, you might consider carb cycling.

Provided you’re also doing other things to manage their total stress load—like sleeping enough, meditating, and practicing self-compassion—periodically “topping off” energy and carbohydrate stores can tell your body that everything’s okay, and starvation isn’t imminent. This is particularly useful for:

  • Women (whose central hormonal regulation systems may be very sensitive to nutritional deficits, which is one of the reasons intermittent fasting isn’t always so great for women)
  • Leaner people (who usually have less circulating leptin)
  • Anyone who doesn’t tolerate stress well or who already has a high stress load

▶ You’re trying to cut weight or change the appearance of your physique for competition.

Carbohydrate intake affects fluid balance in the body, which can impact both weight and appearance on competition or shoot day.

▶ You’re aiming for incremental gains. 

Let’s say you’re an advanced lifter. You’re already in great shape, and you’re pretty close to your genetic ceiling. Carb cycling might be the difference between you gaining one pound of muscle versus three pounds of muscle in a year. For an advanced lifter, that’s awesome progress.

But let’s say you’re a beginner lifter, and you’re just starting to make gains.

Carb cycling probably won’t make a big difference for you. And it might distract you from consistently implementing the big rocks that are going to push you forward.

In fact, it’d be smart to keep this strategy in your back pocket in case you need it later on, when you’re more advanced and no longer benefiting from newbie gains.

▶ You don’t tolerate carbs well. 

People with underlying metabolic issues (such as poor blood sugar control or elevated inflammation) may not feel great (think: bloated and tired) after eating large amounts of carbohydrates.

This group may nevertheless be able use carbs effectively when active. So they may benefit from getting the bulk of their carb intake around workouts.

(Even better, with time and sustained activity, they may become more metabolically healthy, which means improved overall carb tolerance and more dietary flexibility.)

▶ You have a solid handle on other aspects of their health. 

Changing your habits always comes at a cost. (This is something we cover in-depth in our article, The cost of getting lean).

For example, carb cycling might cause you to interact less socially because of stricter rules around mealtimes.

Or let’s say keeping track of how much and when you’re supposed to eat makes you feel stressed and overwhelmed. In that case, carb cycling could have a negative effect on your mental health.

For some people, these trade-offs may be worth it. For others, not so much. (We’ll help you figure out which category you fall into in the quiz below.)

▶ You find it an enjoyable way to eat. 

When it comes to nutrition, it’s what you do consistently that matters most.

And you’ll be much more likely to do what you enjoy. But if you hate an eating approach? It’s probably not going to last long.

So whether you carb cycle or eat low-carb, low-fat, Paleo, plant-based—it doesn’t really matter. If you can follow an eating style consistently, it fits the life you want to live, and you enjoy it, you’ll get results.

What about “carb cycling kickstart” challenges?

Usually, we don’t recommend carb cycling as a first step to better eating habits. 

That’s because popular carb-cycling challenges are often hyperspecific, requiring you to eat exactly five meals a day and adhere to precise macronutrient ratios.

Few people can stick to something like that for very long.

So is it likely that a 14-day carb cycling challenge will change your life forever?

Not really.

But it’s possible. 

We know that action leads to motivation. So if doing this kind of program helps you get motivated to take more steps to improve your nutrition habits, that’s awesome.

People who see early success with their nutrition efforts are more likely to continue making progress thanks to the motivation boost.

But if you choose this route, we’d like to offer one helpful nugget of advice: Have some sort of transition plan in place to help you get to a more sustainable eating pattern afterward.

Where to start? You can increase your chances of long-term success by picking out some “big rock” habits to focus on afterward.

Should YOU try carb cycling?

Let’s find out.

Use this handy quiz to determine if carb cycling makes sense for you.

1. Do you know what you hope to get out of carb cycling?
Consider: Do you want to lose fat? Gain muscle? Better regulate stress or your hormones?

No idea
100 percent clear

012345

2. Are you looking for a major body transformation or smaller incremental gains?
Consider: Is this the first step of your nutrition journey, or one of the last?

Transformation
Smaller gains

012345

3. Have you already tried less advanced strategies (example: eating more veggies) to accomplish your goal?
Consider: Is there anything less complex you could try first?

No previous steps
Tried everything else

012345

4. Are you already consistent and confident with your “big rock” habits?
Consider: Will you be able to keep up with your fundamental nutrition practices while you carb cycle?

Not consistent at all
Super confident

012345

5. How comfortable are you with rigid eating rules?
Consider: How do you feel about needing to eat exactly 5 meals or exactly 6 portions of lean protein each day, for example?

Flexibility is very important
I’m okay with rules for now

012345

6. Do you feel comfortable treating carb cycling as an experiment?
Consider: Are you okay trying carb cycling even if, ultimately, your experiment determines that this style of eating isn’t for you?

No, I need to be sure it’ll work
I’m all for experimenting

012345

7. Are you okay with making tradeoffs to follow a specific eating style?
Consider: How would carb cycling impact the way you eat at social gatherings or family meals? Are there foods you might have to skip out on that you normally enjoy?

Not okay
Totally comfortable

012345

8. Will following a super-specific eating plan stress you out?
Consider: Does the idea of not being able to “wing it” with your nutrition—in a restaurant or when you’re running low on groceries, for example—sound stressful?

Extremely stressful
I’m good with a specific plan

012345

Total score:

32-40: It’s a go!

Sounds like you’re in a great place to give carb cycling a try. You’re clear on your goals, your big rocks are in place, and you’re willing to make the tradeoffs.

24-31: Proceed with caution.

Carb cycling may or may not make sense for you. If you’d still like to give it a try, use outcome-based decision making (using the data you collect about your experience to decide what to do next) as you experiment with one of the protocols below.

Basically, that means checking in with yourself and being honest about how it’s going for you.

0-23: Consider keeping carb cycling in your back pocket. 

It looks like you’d benefit from less advanced nutrition and health practices. (That doesn’t mean you should never try carb cycling in the future.)

These fundamental practices include eating lean protein with meals, choosing minimally-processed whole foods most of the time, consuming several servings of colorful veggies each day, getting restful sleep, and reducing stress, among many others.

If you’re still interested in carb cycling after getting those big rock habits in place, retake this quiz, and see how you do.

How to carb cycle for fat loss or muscle gain

Here at Precision Nutrition, we use a variety of carb-cycling methods depending on a person’s goals and nutrition experience.

Below, we’ve outlined the two carb cycling methods we use most often. Before we dive in, though, let’s go over two key points.

1. Customize your carb cycling schedule. 

To adjust these carb cycling plans for your goals and body, you’ll want to use the Precision Nutrition Calculator. This will help you determine your baseline nutrition needs (in calories, macros, and/or hand portions).

Ultimately, no matter which cycling strategy you use, total calorie and macronutrient intake for the week should remain the same as if you’re not cycling.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to gain muscle, and the calculator determines you need a daily intake of:

  • 7 palms or 210 g protein
  • 6-8 fists of veggies
  • 8 handfuls or 250 g carbs; and
  • 7 thumbs or 100 g fats.

On a “typical” diet, that’s what you’d try to eat every day. To apply these numbers to carb cycling, start by multiplying the recommended daily carb intake by 7. That’s your total carb intake for the week.

Based on your carb cycling method, you’ll adjust your carb intake for a given meal or day. You’ll eat the same amount of carbs as you would without carb cycling, but distribute them a little differently throughout the day or week. Your fat and protein amounts will be the same every day. (Don’t worry: The complete directions are below.)

2. Treat carb cycling as an experiment.

As we covered above, carb cycling isn’t a super reliable method for getting results. That means it may or may not work for you.

And because carb cycling requires a decent amount of energy and attention, it’s important to treat it like an experiment until you understand how well it fits into your life.

We place a heavy emphasis on self-experimentation here at PN because it’s one of the best ways to find out what works for you as an individual. (Learn more about nutrition experiments here: 3 diet experiments that can change your eating habits—and transform your body.)

To set up your carb cycling experiment, consider:

  • What’s the goal you’re trying to achieve?
  • How will you know if you’re making progress? Will you measure your weight, body composition, girth measurements, exercise performance?
  • How often will you check in to determine whether you’re making progress or not?

We’d recommend using either of the methods below for at least two weeks before evaluating. Then, complete the carb cycling self-experimentation assessment below to see how things are going.

Carb cycling plan #1: Use high/low days.

This carb and calorie cycling approach is very simple and is based on your level of daily activity. Remember, first calculate your average daily needs using the Precision Nutrition Calculator. Then you’ll fluctuate your daily carb intake as follows.

  • On days with minimal physical activity: Eat mostly protein, vegetables, and healthy fats with minimal carbs (about 25-50 percent of your estimated daily carb need from the calculator, whether in grams or cupped handfuls).
  • On days with physical activity and/or planned exercise: Add starchy carbs to the baseline diet (about 150-175 percent of your estimated daily carb needs, whether in grams or cupped handfuls).

And that’s pretty much it.

To put this in context, let’s assume you were estimated to need an average of 8 handfuls or 250 g of carbs daily. On your days with minimal activity you’d aim for about 2-4 handfuls or 62-125 g of carbs. And on your days with lots of physical activity, you’d have about 12-14 handfuls or 375-435 g of carbs.

Carb cycling plan #2: Use post-workout/anytime meals.

Another approach is to put the bulk of a day’s carbohydrate intake in the meal that follows physical activity (post-workout), while minimizing carbohydrates at other meals (anytime).

For a visual of what a Post-workout (PW) or Anytime (AT) meal could look like, see below.

Illustrations showing two different types of meals you could use on a carb cycling schedule. An anytime meal has protein, veggies, and fats, and a post-workout meal has protein, veggies, fruit, and starches.

Alternating between Anytime and Post-Workout meals is a simpler approach to carb cycling.

An AT meal, as its name implies, can be eaten any time outside of exercise.

An AT meal:

  • Has serving of lean protein (about 1-2 palms, or as calculated)
  • Has a serving of healthy fats (about 2-3 thumbs, or as calculated)
  • Fills out the remainder with non-starchy vegetables (ideally colorful ones)

An AT meal can also include a small portion of high-fiber, slow-digesting carbohydrates, such as beans, lentils, or fruit (generally fewer than 25 percent of the total calories for that meal).

The PW plate is for meals that take place after physical activity. This meal type helps us take advantage of the body’s metabolic response to exercise, and the improved glucose tolerance that occurs during the post-exercise period (or any period following higher amounts of physical activity).

A PW meal:

  • Has a serving of lean protein (about 1-2 palms, or as calculated)
  • Is lower in healthy fats (about 0.5-1 thumb, or as calculated)
  • Has a large serving of carbohydrates (generally at least 50 percent or more of the calories for that meal, or about 3-5 cupped handfuls or as calculated)

On non-workout days choose one meal to be post-workout. Breakfast and dinner are the most common options.

Here’s a sample schedule:

Monday: workout day Tuesday: No workout but still physically active Wednesday: No workout and not physically active
Meal 1: Anytime Meal 1: Anytime Meal 1: Post-workout
Workout Ride bike to work and work physically active job
Meal 2: Post-workout Meal 2: Post-workout Meal 2: Anytime
Meal 3: Anytime Meal 3: Anytime (possibly Post-workout if extra calories needed) Meal 3: Anytime
Meal 4: Anytime Meal 4: Anytime Meal 4: Anytime

A quick note on advanced carb cycling methods

More advanced forms of carb cycling can be used by people like elite amateur and professional athletes, people whose income is tied to their appearance (like models), and bodybuilding and figure competitors.

If you’re a coach and you’re interested in learning more about these advanced protocols, we cover them in-depth in our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

If you’d like to try advanced carb cycling yourself, we’d recommend doing so with the assistance of a qualified nutrition coach.

Carb cycling: How’s it REALLY working for you?

After you’ve been carb cycling for at least 2 weeks, use this assessment to decide if the eating strategy is working for you.

Think about your recent experiences with carb cycling. Then, choose the number that best matches how strongly you agree with the following statements.

On a scale of 1 (never) to 10 (always), most of the time…

1. When I eat this way, I feel pretty good in general.

Never
Always

012345678910

2. Compared to how I was eating before, I feel better when carb cycling.

Never
Always

012345678910

3. When I carb cycle, I have reliable, sustained energy without crashing.

Never
Always

012345678910

4. Carb cycling feels doable, and fits into my everyday life.

Never
Always

012345678910

5. When I carb cycle, I feel good mentally and emotionally.

Never
Always

012345678910

6. I feel confident and capable cooking and preparing meals while carb cycling.

Never
Always

012345678910

7. When I carb cycle, I feel I am consistently keeping up with the other nutrition, fitness, and health practices that make me feel my best.

Never
Always

012345678910

8. When I carb cycle, I rarely struggle with food cravings or urges to overeat.

Never
Always

012345678910

9. When I carb cycle, I digest my food well.

Never
Always

012345678910

10. I’m performing and recovering well while carb cycling.

Never
Always

012345678910

11. On social occasions, such as going out with friends to a restaurant, I can almost always find something I enjoy and feel comfortable eating.

Never
Always

012345678910

12. I feel calm and relaxed about my food choices. It’s no big deal, just part of life.

Never
Always

012345678910

13. Even if other people pressure me to do something differently, or my style of eating doesn’t match others around me, I’m able to follow my own cues or goals.

Never
Always

012345678910

14. Carb cycling is helping me eat in a way that matches my specific goals for health, fitness, performance, etc.

Never
Always

012345678910

15. I feel I can still truly enjoy food, how it tastes, and the experience of eating.

Never
Always

012345678910

Total score:

120 and above: Crushing it!

This way of eating is working beautifully for you. Keep on doing your thing.

105 to 119: This is promising. 

Overall, things are going well with your carb cycling experiment. You might consider making some small changes, but it looks like you’re moving in the right direction.

76 to 104: Mixed results. 

Carb cycling might be working well for you in some areas, but you’re probably struggling in others. Consider if there are any tweaks you could make that would make it feel more sustainable.

Less than 75: Carb cycling is not working for you. 

Based on this assessment, you’re experiencing some issues with the carb cycling protocol you’re currently following. Success depends on a plan you can stick with consistently that has minimal tradeoffs.

And don’t feel bad about this. This experiment helped you to understand something important: Carb cycling may not be for you—at least, right now.

Carb cycling may or may not work for you.

No matter what happens during your carb cycling experiment, remember this: It’s all okay.

You might learn that you just can’t stick to a carb cycling regimen.

Or that you feel terrible when carb cycling.

Or maybe you feel great.

Or perhaps you learn that carb cycling is your favorite way of eating.

Or that it’s just not worth all the effort.

Or something else.

It’s all good.

The key is to keep an open mind and go with the best available evidence: your own personal experience (based on the assessment above).

Collect your data and then reflect on how things are going. If you stick to the facts, you can’t go wrong.

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9. Lane SC, Camera DM, Lassiter DG, Areta JL, Bird SR, Yeo WK, et al. Effects of sleeping with reduced carbohydrate availability on acute training responses. J Appl Physiol. 2015 Sep 15;119(6):643–55.

10. Volek JS, Noakes T, Phinney SD. Rethinking fat as a fuel for endurance exercise. EJSS. 2015;15(1):13–20.

11. Yeo WK, Carey AL, Burke L, Spriet LL, Hawley JA. Fat adaptation in well-trained athletes: effects on cell metabolism. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Feb;36(1):12–22.

12. Ma S, Huang Q, Tominaga T, Liu C, Suzuki K. An 8-Week Ketogenic Diet Alternated Interleukin-6, Ketolytic and Lipolytic Gene Expression, and Enhanced Exercise Capacity in Mice. Nutrients. 2018 Nov 7;10(11). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu10111696

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

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If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

–>

 

The post Carb cycling: Is this advanced fat loss strategy right for YOU? (Take the quiz.) appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

It’s not breaking news that vitamins and minerals are essential to good health.

Most of us have been told that since we were in diapers.

Heck, even Lucky Charms brags about being “fortified with 12 essential vitamins and minerals.” So they must be important!

But why, exactly?

How many vitamins and minerals are there, and what do they actually do? What foods contain them? And if you have a deficiency, how do you know?

Also, is there more nutrition in a grape-flavored Fred Flinstone chewable vitamin than in an orange-flavored Wilma?

(No.)

We’ve got your answers.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What vitamins and minerals are
  • Why we need them to stay healthy
  • How you absorb and use them

Plus, we’ll give you a complete list of all the vitamins and minerals, what they do, how much you need, signs of deficiency, and what foods to get them from.

If you’re only interested in a specific vitamin or mineral, use the list below to jump right to it.

Otherwise, scroll on by these quick links, and we’ll dive into everything you need to know about vitamins and minerals.

What are vitamins and minerals?

We know that vitamins and minerals come from our diet and also supplements, but what are they?

Well, they’re molecules. Or—in the case of minerals—elements.

But there are also a few other (more practical) things we know…

Vitamins and minerals prevent disease, but also help us feel energetic and healthy.

Years ago, medical professionals noticed that certains symptoms and diseases seemed to be directly related to food intake.

Some people got sick even when they were eating adequate calories and protein while others didn’t. Scientists determined that the types of food people ate—or more accurately, didn’t—seemed to be the difference.

The most famous example (which you’ve no doubt heard before):  Sailors on long sea voyages were prone to developing scurvy—unless they ate citrus fruit. Turns out, all it took was the occasional lemon slice to keep their bleeding gums at bay.

From that and other examples, scientists reasoned that there must be important compounds in foods that prevent—and perhaps even cure—diseases.

These compounds were vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and minerals come from food (and maybe supplements).

Some nutrients can be created in the body—for example, some of the B vitamins can be made by bacteria in the gut—but some can’t.

So we have to get our vitamin and mineral requirements from nutritious foods (or supplements), eaten regularly.

Whole, minimally-processed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, dairy, and animal proteins are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Our bodies rely on them to support normal physical functions like digestion, reproduction, growth, and energy production.1,2

If you don’t consume enough of a vitamin or mineral, you’ll develop a deficiency.

Sometimes, if diet quality or calorie intake is low, or digestion and absorption is compromised, we don’t get enough of a vitamin or mineral to meet our body’s needs.

If this goes on long enough, we can develop a deficiency.

Specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies will cause specific symptoms (more on that below), and can even cause or exacerbate chronic health conditions.  

Nutrient deficiencies are common. Over 30 percent of Americans have some kind of micronutrient deficiency.3

That’s a clinical deficiency we’re talking about. Clinical deficiencies are often the endpoint of a prolonged vitamin or mineral insufficiency and usually have pretty obvious symptoms.

However, milder forms of deficiency, often of multiple micronutrients, are much more common.4,5 These milder forms of deficiency are called subclinical deficiencies.

For example, it’s estimated that about 20 percent of the world has a subclinical magnesium deficiency. In certain populations—like people with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes—it might be as high as 75 percent.6

Subclinical deficiencies are harder to recognize, as they don’t always have clear, predictable symptoms. But it’s likely that suboptimal levels of any vitamin or mineral—or multiple micronutrients—will have negative effects on the body. (Even if there’s no obvious outward symptoms.)

Here are the most common deficiencies in the US, according to the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)7:

Micronutrient Prevalence of Clinical Deficiency
Vitamin B6 11% of the total population
Iron 10% of females aged 12-49, and 7% of children aged 1-5
Vitamin D 9% of the total population (31% of non-hispanic Blacks)
Vitamin C 6% of people over the age of 6
Vitamin B12 2% of the total population

What’s more, deficiencies are particularly common among certain populations:

  • The elderly, who may have trouble preparing, chewing, or digesting foods
  • Women (aged 19-50), particularly if pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Athletes, who have higher nutrient requirements because of the extra demands on their body
  • People with darker skin tones, who may be particularly at risk for vitamin D deficiency8 (overall, many people—about 24 percent of Americans9, 37 percent of Canadians10, and 40 percent of Europeans11—have suboptimal levels of vitamin D12)
  • Chronic dieters or people who struggle with disordered eating, due to restricting specific food groups or calories overall
  • People with lower socioeconomic status, who may have challenges accessing fresh, nutritious foods

So, now that we know how important vitamins and minerals are, let’s find out more about what each nutrient does, and which foods contain them.

(If you want to jump over the details here, and get to practical advice for optimizing your vitamin and mineral intake, go ahead and click here.)

Vitamins

Vitamins serve a variety of roles in the body. One of the most important things they do is when they act as coenzymes.

Coenzymes enhance the action of enzymes and help carry out reactions in the body, for example, contracting a muscle.

Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed with dietary fat. If we don’t eat enough dietary fat, we don’t properly absorb these vitamins. That’s why a very low-fat diet can lead to deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins.

We can excrete fat-soluble vitamins through our poop, but we can also store them in our fatty tissues. Fatty tissues include things like body fat stores, but also cell membranes, which are made up of fat. Because we store them, we don’t necessarily have to eat these vitamins every day.

Water-soluble vitamins don’t require fat to be absorbed. However, they’re also generally not stored in high amounts in the body and can be excreted in the urine. As a result, we need to eat them more often.

Water-soluble vitamins

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 is involved in producing energy, as well as synthesizing DNA and RNA, the nucleic acids that carry our genetic material.

Vitamin B1 Deficiency: Symptoms include burning feet, weakness in extremities, rapid heart rate, swelling, lack of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and digestive problems.

Toxicity: None known.

Vitamin B1 Food Sources: Sunflower seeds, asparagus, lettuce, mushrooms, black beans, navy beans, lentils, spinach, peas, pinto beans, lima beans, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, tuna, whole wheat, soybeans

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 helps produce red blood cells and metabolize toxins in the liver. (It’s also what turns your pee bright yellow when you take a multivitamin!)

Vitamin B2 Deficiency: Symptoms include cracks, fissures and sores at corner of mouth and lips, dermatitis, conjunctivitis, light sensitivity (photophobia), inflammation in the mouth, anxiety, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Toxicity: Very rare. Excess supplementation can cause liver damage.

Vitamin B2 Food Sources: Almonds, soybeans / tempeh, mushrooms, spinach, whole wheat, yogurt, mackerel, eggs, liver

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 plays a role in repairing DNA, keeping nerves healthy, and controlling cholesterol levels.

Vitamin B3 Deficiency: Symptoms include dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and inflammation of the stomach.

Toxicity: Very rare from foods. Supplemental nicotinic acid (a form of niacin) may cause skin flushing, itching, impaired glucose tolerance and digestive upset. Taking high doses for months at a time can cause liver cell damage.

Vitamin B3 Food Sources: Mushrooms, asparagus, peanuts, brown rice, corn, green leafy vegetables, sweet potato, potato, lentil, barley, carrots, almonds, celery, turnips, peaches, chicken meat, tuna, salmon

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Vitamin B5 helps to form acetyl-CoA, an important molecule involved in energy production. It also helps keep skin healthy.

Vitamin B5 Deficiency: Very unlikely. Only in severe malnutrition may one notice tingling in feet.

Toxicity: Possible nausea, heartburn, and diarrhea with high-dose supplements.

Vitamin B5 Food Sources: Broccoli, lentils, split peas, avocado, whole wheat, mushrooms, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, eggs, squash, strawberries, liver

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is involved in glycogen breakdown, nervous and immune system function, and the formation of neurotransmitters and steroid hormones.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency: Symptoms include inflammation of the skin and digestive system, sleeplessness, confusion, nervousness, depression, irritability, and anemia.

Toxicity: High doses of supplemental vitamin B6 may result in painful neurological symptoms.

Vitamin B6 Food Sources: Whole wheat, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, potato, garbanzo beans, banana, trout, spinach, walnuts, peanut butter, tuna, salmon, lima beans, chicken

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Vitamin B7 is involved in energy production, as well as DNA replication and transcription.

Biotin Deficiency: Very rare in humans. Note that raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that binds to biotin and prevents its absorption. Regularly eating raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency.

Toxicity: Not known.

Biotin Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, most nuts, whole-grain breads, avocado, raspberries, cauliflower, carrots, papaya, banana, salmon, eggs

Vitamin B9 (Folate / Folic acid)

Folate helps to form new proteins and is also involved in fetal development.

Folate refers to the naturally occurring form found in foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin, used in most supplements and fortified foods.

Vitamin B9 Deficiency: Anemia (macrocytic / megaloblastic), low white blood cells (leukopenia), low blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), weakness, weight loss, cracking and redness of the tongue and mouth, and diarrhea. In pregnancy, there is a risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery, and neural tube defects.13

Toxicity: None from food. Large doses of supplemental folic acid can mask an underlying vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B9 Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains, green peas, avocado, peanuts, organ meats

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is involved in DNA synthesis, and also helps to form and maintain healthy blood and nerve cells. Vitamin B12 needs “intrinsic factor” (a compound secreted by the stomach during digestion) to be absorbed. We can store decades worth of this vitamin in our body—but it should still be consumed regularly.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Symptoms include pernicious anemia, neurological problems, mouth inflammation. Strict vegans and plant-based eaters may be more at risk.14

Toxicity: Extremely rare, even with supplementation. Only a small amount is absorbed orally, thus the potential for toxicity is low.

Vitamin B12 Food Sources: Liver, trout, salmon, tuna, haddock, egg, dairy. Vitamin B12 isn’t found in plant foods.

Choline

Choline is a nutrient often grouped together with the B vitamins. It’s involved in building cell membranes and neurotransmitters (like acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter for muscle impulses). It may also help lower inflammation.

Choline Deficiency: Symptoms include problems with thinking and memory, muscle and nervous tissue damage, or even liver and kidney disease.

Toxicity: Toxicity is rare from food, but excess supplementation may lead to low blood pressure.

Choline Food Sources: Colorful fruits and veggies, organ meats

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C is probably most famous for its role in supporting the immune system. However, it also helps build collagen, keeping skin and joints healthy; synthesize norepinephrine, an adrenal hormone; and metabolize cholesterol.

Vitamin C Deficiency: Symptoms include bruising, lethargy, dental cavities, tissue swelling, dry hair, skin, and eyes, bleeding and infected gums, hair loss, joint pain, delayed wound healing, and bone fragility. Long-term deficiency results in scurvy.

Toxicity: Possible problems with very large vitamin C doses include diarrhea and a higher risk of kidney stones.

Vitamin C Food Sources: Most (fresh, raw) colorful fruits and vegetables

Fat-soluble vitamins

Vitamin A (Retinoids and carotenoids)

The vitamin A family includes animal sources (retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid) and plant sources (carotenoids). They help maintain eye health, and support immune function and wound healing.

Vitamin A Deficiency: Difficulty seeing in dim light and rough/dry skin.

Toxicity: Hypervitaminosis A is caused by consuming excessive amounts of preformed vitamin A (found in supplements but also in animal products, like liver). Preformed vitamin A is rapidly absorbed and slowly cleared from the body. Nausea, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, dizziness, and dry skin can result. Excess intake while pregnant can cause birth defects. Carotenoid toxicity is rare.

Vitamin A Food Sources: Liver, egg yolks, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, squash, cantaloupe, bell pepper, beets

Vitamin D (Ergocalciferol / cholecalciferol)

Vitamin D is actually a group of prohormones (hormone precursors). The plant form of vitamin D is called ergocalciferol (vitamin D₂) and the animal form is called cholecalciferol (vitamin D₃). Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, immune system function, and regulating glucose tolerance.

Vitamin D Deficiency: In children a vitamin D deficiency can result in rickets, deformed bones, delayed growth, and soft teeth. In adults a vitamin D deficiency can result in low bone density and tooth decay. People with darker skin are at higher risk of deficiency.

Toxicity: We can’t get too much vitamin D from the sun; only excess supplementation. Too much vitamin D will elevate blood calcium levels and may cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, excessive urination, itching, muscle weakness, joint pain, and calcification of soft tissues.

Vitamin D Food Sources: Although it’s not a food, the most available and “natural” source of Vitamin D is from sunlight exposure. It’s also in fortified foods, mushrooms, salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, shrimp, egg yolks, and beef liver.

Learn more about Vitamin D here: All About Vitamin D

Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols)

Vitamin E is not actually a single vitamin, but a family of eight compounds: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. The vitamin E family are potent antioxidants, and are also involved in cell-to-cell communication.

Vitamin E Deficiency: Symptoms include muscle weakness, impaired vision, acne, red blood cell damage, and problems with muscle coordination (ataxia).

Toxicity: There is a potential for impaired blood clotting.

Vitamin E Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, olives, avocado

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a family of vitamins that includes vitamin K₁ (the plant-based form) and vitamin K₂ (the animal-based form). Vitamin K is involved in normal blood clotting and also plays a role in keeping bones healthy.

Vitamin K Deficiency: Tendency to bleed or hemorrhage, and anemia.

Toxicity: May interfere with blood-thinning medications No known toxicity with high doses.

Vitamin K Food Sources: Broccoli, green leafy vegetables, parsley, watercress, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green beans, green peas

Minerals

Our bodies and the foods we eat contain minerals. Most minerals are considered essential (meaning: we need to get them regularly from our diet).

However, certain molecules found in food can change our ability to absorb minerals. This includes compounds like phytates (found in grains) and oxalates (found in spinach and rhubarb), both of which inhibit mineral absorption. Proper cooking can reduce these compounds, and thus, increase mineral absorption.

Minerals are categorized as macrominerals or microminerals.

Macrominerals are required in larger amounts and include minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Microminerals are required in small or trace amounts. They include minerals such as iron, chromium, and zinc.

Macrominerals

Calcium

Calcium is the most common mineral in our body. It’s involved in muscle contraction, teeth and bone formation, and hormone secretion.

Calcium Deficiency: Long-term inadequate intake can result in low bone density, rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis.

Toxicity: Will cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, thirst, increased urination, kidney stones and soft tissue calcification.

Calcium Food Sources: Dairy, green leafy vegetables, legumes, tofu, molasses, sardines, okra, perch, trout, Chinese cabbage, rhubarb, sesame seeds

Chloride

Chloride is involved in digestion and absorption (it helps make up hydrochloric acid in the stomach), as well as cell functioning.

Chloride Deficiency: Extremely rare, but may happen in cases of excessive fluid loss (through vomiting and/or diarrhea).

Toxicity: Not known.

Chloride Food Sources: Almost all whole foods contain chloride (e.g. fruits and vegetables, lean meats)

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is the “P” (phosphate) in “ATP”, the body’s principal form of energy. Phosphorus plays a role in energy transfer, bone formation, enzyme production, and oxygen regulation.

Phosphorus Deficiency: Very rare, except in cases of severe malnutrition.

Toxicity: Very rare.

Phosphorus Food Sources: Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, fish, buckwheat, seafood, corn, wild rice

Potassium

Along with sodium, potassium helps to maintain the electrochemical gradient, which is what determines how ions move across a cell membrane.

Potassium Deficiency: Usually caused by protein wasting conditions, or excessive use of diuretics, which can cause loss of potassium in the urine. Low blood potassium can result in cardiac arrhythmias or even cardiac arrest.

Toxicity: Symptoms include tingling of extremities and muscle weakness. High dose potassium supplements may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Potassium Food Sources: Sweet potato, tomato, green leafy vegetables, carrots, prunes, beans, molasses, squash, fish, bananas, peaches, apricots, melon, potatoes, dates, raisins, mushrooms

Magnesium

Magnesium has hundreds of roles in the body. Some of those include: Metabolizing carbohydrates and fats, synthesizing proteins and DNA, and helping to relax and repair muscles.

Magnesium Deficiency: Symptoms include muscle cramps and twitching, nausea and loss of appetite, abnormal heart rhythms, and problems with thinking, mood, and memory. Magnesium deficiency is fairly common and may also play a role in hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

Toxicity: Excessive supplementation can lead to diarrhea (magnesium is a known laxative), impaired kidney function, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, and shortness of breath.

Magnesium Food Sources: Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark leafy greens, potato, cacao (dark chocolate)

Sodium

Along with potassium, sodium helps to maintain an electrochemical gradient across the cell membrane. It’s also involved in regulating body fluids, blood volume, and blood pressure.

Sodium Deficiency: Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, cramps, fatigue, and disorientation. Athletes who sweat a lot and hydrate without added electrolytes might be at risk of sodium imbalance.

Toxicity: Excessive intake can lead to increased fluid volume (edema), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. High blood sodium usually results from excessive water loss.

Sodium Food Sources: Any processed foods, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables

Sulfur

Sulfur is abundant in the body and is part of three important amino acids: cysteine, methionine, and taurine. It’s also involved in liver detoxification and collagen synthesis.

Sulfur Deficiency: Deficiency is rare unless someone is on a strict, low-protein diet (or has some type of malabsorption syndrome).

Toxicity: Unlikely from food consumption.

Sulfur Food Sources: Foods high in protein (like meat, eggs, seafood), garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables

Microminerals

Iron

Iron helps to form hemoglobin, red blood cells, and blood vessels. It’s essential for helping transport oxygen throughout the body. Dietary iron comes in two forms: heme iron (from animal foods) and non-heme (from plant foods). Consume iron with vitamin C to enhance absorption.

Iron Deficiency: Low iron can lead to anemia with small and pale red blood cells, and lowered immunity. In children, iron deficiency is associated with behavioral abnormalities. Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world. Menstruating women, pregnant women, and strict plant-based eaters are most at risk.

Toxicity: Common cause of poisoning in children. Excessive intake of supplemental iron is an emergency room situation. Too much iron is associated with an increased  risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Iron Food Sources: Red meats, organ meats, molasses, lima beans, kidney beans, raisins, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, dark poultry meat, fish

Zinc

Zinc is involved in growth and development, neurological function, reproduction, immunity, cell structure and function, and more.

Zinc Deficiency: Symptoms include growth impairments, lowered immunity, skeletal abnormalities, delay in sexual maturation, poor wound healing, taste changes, night blindness and hair loss. Those at risk for deficiency include the elderly, alcoholics, vegans, and those with malabsorption.15

Toxicity: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Chronically taking too much zinc can result in copper deficiency.

Zinc Food Sources: Mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas, baked beans, cashews, peas, whole grains, flounder, oats, oysters, chicken meat

Copper

Copper is an antioxidant and is also involved in energy production, collagen formation, and protein synthesis.

Copper Deficiency: Anemia that doesn’t respond to iron therapy, loss of hair and skin color (hypopigmentation of skin and hair is also noticed), low white blood cell count.

Toxicity: Rare. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term exposure to lower doses of copper can result in liver damage.

Copper Food Sources: Mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, barley, soybeans, tempeh, sunflower seeds, navy beans, garbanzo beans, cashews, molasses, liver

Chromium

Chromium plays an important role in glucose and fat metabolism and supports the role of insulin. High-sugar diets can increase chromium excretion in urine, which means people may need more chromium.

Chromium Deficiency: Symptoms include impaired glucose tolerance and elevated circulating insulin

Toxicity: Generally limited to industrial exposure. Long-term supplement use may increase DNA damage.

Chromium Food Sources: Lettuce, onions, beef, organ meats, whole grains, potatoes, mushrooms, oats, prunes, nuts, nutritional yeast

Iodine

Iodine is essential for healthy thyroid function and the production of the thyroid hormones T₃ and T₄.

Iodine Deficiency: Impairs growth and neurological development. Deficiency can also result in decreased production of thyroid hormones and enlargement of the thyroid. (Click here for more about impaired thyroid, and what to do.)

Toxicity: Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, burning mouth / throat / stomach, and enlargement of the thyroid.

Iodine Food Sources: Sea vegetables, iodized salt, eggs, dairy

Selenium

Selenium is an antioxidant, and also plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism.

Selenium Deficiency: Can contribute to arthritis, or juvenile cardiomyopathy (heart disease). Can also limit glutathione activity, increasing oxidation.

Toxicity: Multiple symptoms including skin problems, hair and nail brittleness, gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, and nervous system abnormalities.

Selenium Food Sources: Brazil nuts (but not too many—just six Brazil nuts can provide 800 mcg of selenium, exceeding the upper limit of the recommended intake!), mushrooms, barley, salmon, whole grains, walnuts, eggs

Manganese

Manganese is an antioxidant and is also involved in carbohydrate, amino acid, and cholesterol metabolism.

Manganese Deficiency: Not typically observed in humans.

Toxicity: Generally from industrial exposure.

Manganese Sources: Green leafy vegetables, berries, pineapple, lettuce, tempeh, oats, soybeans, spelt, brown rice, garbanzo beans

Molybdenum

Molybdenum plays a role in nutrient metabolism, as well as the breakdown of drugs and toxins.

Molybdenum Deficiency: Extremely rare.

Toxicity: More likely than deficiency. Still very rare.

Molybdenum Food Sources: Legumes, whole grains

3 things to know when addressing your (or your clients’) nutrient needs.

Whether you want to feel your best, or you’re helping clients do the same, making sure your basic nutrient requirements are being met is essential.

For guidance on the right amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (in other words, macronutrients), check out our super cool tool: The Precision Nutrition Calculator.

You can use the above list of vitamins and minerals to get a general idea of what nutrients do and where to get them. But when evaluating your own (or a client’s) specific micronutrient needs, consider these three points…

1. People differ (a lot) in their vitamins and mineral requirements.

Many factors—body size, sex, health conditions and medications, stage of life, activity level, and others—can affect people’s micronutrient needs, as well as how they absorb and use them.

That’s partly why we didn’t include a “recommended daily intake” range for the above nutrients. It just varies too much. Consider the needs of a menstruating Crossfit athlete versus the needs of a sedentary, elderly male on multiple medications.

(If you still want a reference, the FDA has this handy chart. Remember that these are just estimates, and don’t necessarily reflect optimal amounts for all people.)

Generally, though, people have deficiencies for three reasons:4

  • Insufficient intake due to low appetite, restricted diets, illness, or any other situation where certain food groups or calories are reduced or not absorbed properly
  • Increased need due to illness, injury, surgery, intense physical training (like athletes), or periods of growth (like pregnancy)
  • Increased loss due to excessive sweating, diarrhea, bleeding, or medical conditions or procedures that lead to a loss of nutrients through urine or other body fluids

If any of these reasons apply to you or your client, be extra wary of deficiencies. Of course, always work with a qualified medical professional when addressing medical issues or clinical deficiencies.

2. Don’t supplement willy-nilly.

If you suspect micronutrient excess or deficiencies in yourself or your clients, get testing to know for sure.

Work with doctors and/or pharmacists when considering supplements, or want to know if your or your clients’ health status or medications interfere with micronutrient absorption and use.

While many supplements are safe, and most people benefit from a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, other supplements (see iron, above) may be harmful if taken when they’re not needed.

3. When addressing a potential deficiency, prioritize whole foods.

It’s hard to go wrong with whole foods. (Ever heard of a broccoli overdose?)

Also, most benefits from micronutrients seem to come from a well-balanced diet, rather than supplementation.4

As much as possible, choose whole, minimally-processed foods (like the ones we’ve included in our list) when filling nutritional gaps.

You’ll want to include foods like:

  • colorful fruits and vegetables
  • mushrooms
  • herbs and spices
  • lean proteins such as red meat (particularly organ meats), wild game, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs
  • beans and legumes
  • whole grains
  • dairy

These foods are the most vitamin- and mineral-rich, but they also contain other nutrients whose benefits we’re only just starting to understand. These other nutrients include:

  • Phytonutrients, found in plant foods, and can act as antioxidants, lower inflammation, and even influence hormone function
  • Myconutrients, found in mushrooms and edible fungi, and can help fight bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens
  • Zoonutrients, found in animal foods, like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and creatine, which can help us lower disease risk, build strength and muscle, and preserve brain function

Nutrition science is a relatively young field, and we’re still learning how foods and nutrients affect us.

But that old “apple a day” saying? There’s something to it.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

1. Higdon J. An Evidence-Based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals. The Linus Pauling Institute. 2003.

2. Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy. L. Kathleen Mahan, Sylvia Escott-Stump. 2003.

3. Bird JK, Murphy RA, Ciappio ED, McBurney MI. Risk of Deficiency in Multiple Concurrent Micronutrients in Children and Adults in the United States. Nutrients. 2017 Jun 24;9(7).

4. Shenkin A. Micronutrients in health and disease. Postgrad Med J. 2006 Sep;82(971):559–67.

5. Bailey RL,West Jr. KP, Black RE. The Epidemiology of Global Micronutrient Deficiencies. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2015;66(2):22-33.

6. DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018 Jan 13;5(1):e000668.

7. CDC’s Second Nutrition Report: A comprehensive biochemical assessment of the nutrition status of the U.S. population.

8. Taksler GB, Cutler DM, Giovannucci E, Keating NL. Vitamin D deficiency in minority populations. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Feb;18(3):379–91.

9. Schleicher RL, Sternberg MR, Looker AC, Yetley EA, Lacher DA, Sempos CT, et al. National Estimates of Serum Total 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Metabolite Concentrations Measured by Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry in the US Population during 2007-2010. J Nutr. 2016 May;146(5):1051–61.

10. Sarafin K, Durazo-Arvizu R, Tian L, Phinney KW, Tai S, Camara JE, et al. Standardizing 25-hydroxyvitamin D values from the Canadian Health Measures Survey. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Nov;102(5):1044–50.

11. Cashman KD, Dowling KG, Škrabáková Z, Gonzalez-Gross M, Valtueña J, De Henauw S, et al. Vitamin D deficiency in Europe: pandemic? Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr;103(4):1033–44.

12. Cashman KD. Vitamin D Deficiency: Defining, Prevalence, Causes, and Strategies of Addressing. Calcif Tissue Int. 2020 Jan;106(1):14–29.

13. Shah PS, et al. Effects of prenatal multimicronutrient supplementation on pregnancy outcomes: a meta-analysis. CMAJ 2009;180:E99-E108.

14. Craig WJ. Health effects of vegan diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1627S-1633S.

15. Tuerk MJ & Fazel N. Zinc deficiency. Curr Opin Gastroenterol 2009;25:136-143.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

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If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

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Source: Health1