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5 Misunderstood Principles of Eating Healthy

Ate an extra carrot I need to add the calories! Carry the one...

Ate an extra carrot I need to add the calories! Carry the one...

1.  Eating healthy isn't 100% science. Keep things simple by following basic principles and using common sense

I don't count calories, macros or use any sort of fancy complicated formula or equation when preparing my food. 

I did a great job if: I ate real whole foods (especially plants), ate when I was hungry, stopped long before I got stuffed and fit in an hour of movement. 

Nutritional Science is the backbone of proper eating recommendations. You however don't need to actually know or implement all of that fancy-pants science into your dietary protocols.

The healthiest and leanest people I know don’t overthink nutrition science each day. But you know the people who do? Yo-yo dieters. These are the kinds of people who need an app for every single food they consume and freak out at any deviation. 

Take home: Unless you're an elite athlete or a physique competitor, you don't need to worry about the science. Being healthy and lean for life is EASY without a 4 year degree in Nutrition. Principles over plans.

Did you remember to soap and scrub your food? Yeah. No.

Did you remember to soap and scrub your food? Yeah. No.

2. Healthy eating isn’t black & white. It’s doing your best with what you have.

You can have the world's greatest meal plan and guess what? You just ran out of Kale and the store is closed! plan calls for kale. NOW WHAT!!!!!????

Great scrap the whole thing, I'm going to eat that pie I bought?

Instead if you run out of kale, do you have ANY other vegetables in your fridge? Spinach? Romaine lettuce? Even frozen vegetables would suffice. 

Being able to make swaps and not just follow a black and white approach to your meal planning is vital to long term success. 

Take home: Even the best laid out plans can go awry and to make the best of any situation. Often we scrap our plans because we have unrealistic expectations for how we should be eating. 

3. Healthy eating isn't calorie counting. It’s paying attention to your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues.

This is a tough one for people to understand. They think if only I could eat "x" calories each day, I'd be so friggin hot and ripped. 

Except trying to tabulate your calorie intake and expenditure is a losing proposition. There are so many factors that can change nutrient density of vegetables and your proteins like: Variables during growth, your cook preparation style, and even varietal of vegetable. 

For some, if they are unable to count calories they don't quite know what to do with themselves. But if you were to look around the world, there are many people who are in great shape because they are more in tune with their body's hunger cues. 

Take home: Learning to pay attention and knowing when you're 80-90% (I'm comfortable) versus being stuffed (think after a buffet) is vital to not needing an app for that.

I'd say that Roast beef looks pretty good...I made this =) 

I'd say that Roast beef looks pretty good...I made this =) 

4. Healthy eating isn't always AMAZING. It's good but not that good either

Okay let's be honest steamed vegetables and baked fish isn't nearly as good as a hamburger or pizza.

You can however retrain your tastebuds to enjoy different types of foods, healthier foods. It takes time but it can be done. It's why we eat something from our childhood that we recall as AMAZING, and now it's only okay. 

Take home: Food should always taste good, but not so good that it blasts you out in outer space every time. Again this goes back to expectations about how food is going to taste. If you've only been eating big sugary and salty foods, of course the broccoli is going to taste awful.

5. Healthy eating isn’t easy. But if you get organized with your daily routine it enables living healthily, and you'll find it gets easier and easier

Piggybacking off the last point, yes it's tough to eat 2 cups of roasted cauliflower instead of that basket of fries. 

Remember the hardest part is starting. Decide to have oatmeal instead of cereal. Choose roasted chicken over fried tenders. Great job! Now there will be a bevy of friends, family, co-workers, Dr. Phil, TV, and magazines telling you otherwise. Stay the course! Have a support system that will back you when things get hard and remind you of the goals you need to achieve.

Take home: Luckily the more often you choose being healthy over a late night taco truck run, the easier it will get. I promise you it will. 

Bonus:  Healthy eating isn’t restriction. It's about striking a balance seamlessly into your life so you can make better healthy choices without feeling "deprived"

If I said to a client, starting tomorrow they could no longer have any dessert, I might end up in the poor house. Can't get between a person and their dessert!

But what might also happen is said client going home and inhaling all the ice cream, cake and cookies they can get their hands on. 

There's no such thing as "clean" or "good" foods and bad foods. There's simply food. 

I recommend to all my clients, indulge a bit everyday.

Take home: We don't set restrictions. But we do practice good portion control. Have a few cookies, just don't eat the whole bag!


More Protein? No Whey!

Photo by  Celia Sun  on  Unsplash

Photo by Celia Sun on Unsplash

Protein supplements and meal-replacement products containing proteins have four commonly used scientific measure of protein quality. 

  1. Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) which is a measure of growth of animals consuming a fixed amount of dietary protein of a single type. Often considered less applicable to humans. 
  2. Biological Value of a protein is a measure of the amount of protein that is retained from total absorbed quantity for body composition. 
  3. Net Protein Utilization measure the amount of amino acids available by any one given protein source which are then synthasized in the body as a new protein. 
  4. Chemical Score is a measure of the concentration of the nine essential amino acids from a single protein source. 


Whey protein is one of two protein types found in milk often during cheese making, the other being casein. The two type soft proteins are separated from each other and whey was often considered useless. It was discovered that it was a high quality protein. 

It is a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids and rates well on all 4 measures for protein measures. 

Whey Isolate: Purest form (90-95% by weight) of whey that is great for those who are lactose intolerant as it has had all the lactose removed. 
Whey Concentrate: Most common form of whey protein (60-70% by weight). It is inexpensive and can easily be added to different types of products. 
Whey Hydrolysate: The protein has water added to the polymers breaking them down into it's individual amino acids. This is to help with the body's digestion and absorption. This is a more expensive form to produce. 


As I mentioned above, casein is distilled through the production of cheese. One for the most important differences in Casein from Whey is that it is an excellent source of glutamine. 

It has lower concentrations of BCAA's than whey and because of a higher lactose content can be problematic for those who don't digest the sugar well.

For many strength and physique athletes the slower digestion aides for longer periods of time when there will not be any consumption of food like while sleeping.



Rich in BCAA but contains only a small amount of methionine. Most forms of soy are highly digestible and absorbed quickly but for many it is considered a slightly inferior source of protein. 

Soy isolate is fortified with methionine which now makes it fairly comparable to whey and casein. One of the disadvantages are the isoflavones (anti-nutrients) which have been shown to have an estrogenic effect in the body.

Other Commonly Found Proteins

Rice Protein

Gluten free, neutral tasting and very budget friendly. May be derived from genetically modified rice. 

Egg Protein

Fat free, contains a full spectrum of essential amino acids. May cause upset stomachs. 

Milk Protein

Often seen as Calcium casein ate. High in BCAA's, contains lactose which may or may not cause upset stomachs. 

Hemp Protein

Great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Provides fiber as well. 100% plant based protein. 

Which Protein should you take?

Well that would vary depending on your goals and dietary preferences. But first and foremost is making sure that you're getting the majority of your protein from whole foods and less processed animal and plant based sources. They're called dietary supplements and shouldn't be considered a main staple of your daily intake, rather in addition to. 

Is __________ healthy? How to Read a Food Label

Photo by  on  Unsplash

Photo by on Unsplash

This list was recent published alongside the article "Is Sushi "Healthy"? What About Granola? Where Americans and Nutritionist Disagree by the NY Times.

Occasionally we stand in an aisle at the market and we're wondering, is this healthy? I don't see why technology can't be of some help there, but what's most alarming is that most of the list is  either a raw ingredient or a pre-packed item which usually means it has a food label. 

Of the 50 foods, assuming you aren't cooking from scratch, usually come prepackaged with a label.

  • hummus
  • popcorn
  • peanut butter
  • nutella
  • granola
  • chocolate
  • coconut milk
  • canned tuna
  • feta cheese
  • beef jerky
  • greek yogurt
  • turkey bacon
  • yogurt
  • dried fruit
  • tofu
  • cottage cheese
  • polenta (it's technically cornmeal, but if it's polenta, that means it's now been cooked and seasoned, thus should come with a food label)
  • smoked salmon
  • sparkling water
  • brown sugar
  • rye bread

I left out pizza, as it could or could not be frozen so I didn't add that. 

And of the 50, here are the raw, typically unprocessed ingredients:

  • couscous
  • quinoa
  • shrimp
  • tuna
  • rice
  • honey
  • tilapia
  • watermelon
  • pork
  • chicken
  • salmon
  • basmati rice

My two big take aways from this article:

1. Most people have an extremely vague sense of how to select food for a balanced  nutritious diet. I understand this is a small sample size, but definitely indicative of the fact that we are extremely undereducated when it comes to knowing what is a solid quality source of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Sadly this article only covers the glaring issue of not knowing WHAT to eat and not how much to eat. We should know chicken (not fried) is probably a solid choice and possibly not know the portion sizing, instead the majority of Americans don't know either!

2. We don't know how to read a food label, or interpret a food label. 
(Note: I understand that this has been a problem for years considering all the rumblings about attempting to redesign the label to make it even easier to understand. Sadly I don't think it's that difficult to understand but a'las sigh.... 'Merica.)

Starting from the top: Serving Size

Many manufacturers try to pull one over on consumers by listing 12g of sugar in one serving, not the whole package which contains 8 servings. Whatever imaginary label this comes from (I took this label off the FDA website) it contains a whopping 96g of sugar per package. 

Your daily allowance of sugar should remain below 10% of total calories.

Total Calories

Learn to use percent Daily Values (DV) to help evaluate how a particular food fits into your daily meal plan. The calories and percentages listed are based off an adult consuming 2,000 calories a day. 

A food item with 5% of DV of fat provides 5% of the total fat that this individual should consume a day. Percent daily values are for the entire day not only one meal or snack. 

YOU may need more or less than 2,000 calories per day, so for some of the nutrients you're going to need more or less than the listed 100% DV.

You should also aim for lower amounts of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium. Look for higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Most Americans do not consume enough fiber, which should be 35g/day for all adults. 

Goes without saying but if a majority of your diet comes from fruits and vegetables without labels, you'll be better off. 

Other Nutrients

  • Protein
    A percentage Daily Value for protein is not required on the label. Eat moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, plus beans and peas, nut butters, seeds and soy products.
  • Carbohydrates
    There are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber. Eat  fruits and vegetables plus whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta.
  • Sugars
    Simple carbohydrates, or sugars, occur naturally in foods such as fruit juice (fructose) or come from refined sources such as table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup.

It stands to repeat again: Added sugars will be included on the Nutrition Facts label in 2018. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming no more than 10 percent of daily calories from added sugars.

Ingredients List
Decide what you want (and don't) in your food.

  • Hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils (source of trans fats)
  • High fructose corn syrup (not necessarily because it’s handled much differently than other sugars, but it usually indicates a non-nutritious food)
  • Added sugars (including hidden sources like syrups)
  • Artificial colors (example: FD&C Yellow #5)
  • Canned items not labeled BPA free
  • Atlantic or farmed salmon (instead of wild caught)
  • Products from China (which has recently been busted for many food safety violations, such as melamine in baby formula and heavy metals in various foods and herbal preparations)
  • Animal ingredients
  • Gluten
  • Non-organic
  • Nitrates/nitrites
  • High sodium

When in doubt remember the following

Prioritize Ingredients Over Calories