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Six Incredibly Simple Nutrition Rules To Be Lean & Muscular For Life

Six Incredibly Simple Nutrition Rules To Be Lean & Muscular For Life
















The year 2013 was marked by new heights of nutrition insanity. You’re not alone if you found yourself more confused than ever about what to eat in light of the obscure nutrition recommendations from the government and outrageous claims from food marketers.
What’s the solution to all this nutrition madness?
You need an individualized nutrition approach that speaks to your energy needs and genetics, but that is based on science. This article will give you six nutrition rules for a sane and simple way of eating.
Before we get to the rules, let’s look a bit closer at why good nutrition has become such a demanding endeavor. In fact, nutrition never has been especially simple.
We often get nostalgic, thinking that nutrition was easier in another era. For example, a lot of people are turning to the Paleo diet for leanness and health as seen with the fact that it was the most searched nutrition term on Google in 2013.
The Paleo diet can provide a practical, simpler approach to eating. Yet, a lot of people make the mistake of idealizing the way our ancestors ate or assuming that all cavemen had access to pure, abundant food. Not so.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors spent the vast majority of their days searching for food to survive. Not only was finding food a huge time investment, chewing took hours because they subsisted partly on raw and extremely fibrous foods, such as uncooked root vegetables, such as potatoes.
With present-day understanding of how our genes are affected by diet and a “paleo-template,” here are six nutrition rules to be lean and muscular life.
#1: Understand Why High-Protein Diets Promote Leanness
Do you have to eat a high-protein diet to lose fat?
There are other fat-reducing methods, but high-protein, lower carb whole food diets consistently work well for the majority of people who try them. You should be familiar with the four primary reasons higher protein diets improve body composition:
•    If your goal is fat loss, preserving lean muscle mass should be a primary focus of nutrition because it is critical for maintaining your metabolism. If you lose muscle, your body burns fewer calories daily, which is a main contributor to rebound weight gain on the typical calorie-restricted diet.
For example, a recent study that compared the effect of three different protein intakes (the RDA of 0.8 g/kg, double the RDA of 1.6 g/kg, and triple the RDA of 2.4 g/kg for protein) as part of a calorie-restricted diet illustrates this.
All groups lost about the same amount of weight. The double the RDA dose of 1.6 g/kg of protein effectively protected lean muscle mass. The higher triple RDA dose of 2.4 kg didn’t have any additive effect, whereas the RDA dose of 0.8 kg led to muscle loss over the 3 week study.
•    It costs the body more calories to process protein than carbs or fat, which is referred to as thermogenesis. Quality is paramount here: A study showed that when subjects ate animal protein (meat) they had 17 percent higher increase in resting energy expenditure than a group who ate vegetable protein (beans and plant sources).
•    Protein is filling. When people eat a greater percentage of their diet from protein, they feel more satisfied and eat fewer calories overall. A review of the issue found that for every 1 percent increase in protein intake, people naturally decrease calorie intake by between 32 and 51 calories daily.
•    High-quality protein helps manage blood sugar and insulin, decreasing cravings for sugar.
The easiest way to lose fat is to eat a fairly high-protein diet. The ratios of protein, carbs, and fat are variable and based on all those unique traits that make you different from your peers: genetics, current body composition, fitness, goals, stress level, preferences, and so on.
Take Away: Increasing your protein intake is the best place to start if your goal is leanness because it protects muscle muss, increases energy use, and is sustainable because it reduces hunger.
#2: Focus On Protein Quality For Fat Loss: Get 10 Grams of EAAs Per Meal
High-quality protein is defined as a protein source that provides at least 10 grams of essential amino acids (EAAs) at every meal. The EAAs must be present in the body for muscle tissue repair to occur, and they can’t be stored in the body, which is the reason you need a steady supply of these building blocks.
Research shows that eating the 10-gram-threshold of EAAs per meal is associated with having less body fat and more muscle mass in people of all ages. For example, over the course of a 5-year study, individuals who had higher quality protein intake had the greatest reductions in waist circumference.
In another study, scientists found that those who ate the EAA “threshold” of 10 grams per meal in a 24-hour period had significantly less visceral belly fat.
In another approach, a German study identified metabolic markers that were associated with body fat percentage and found that the higher the serum level of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), the less body fat subjects had. BCAAs include three of the most important EAAs, leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
The association between higher BCAA levels and less body fat was consistent for both men and women and was independent of exercise participation. BCAA levels were also associated with greater lean muscle mass.
Eating high-quality protein is so effective at optimizing body composition because providing a consistent stream of 10 grams of EAAs will maximally stimulates protein synthesis to keep you body repairing tissue and building muscle.
Of interest, researchers believe that overweight, sedentary people have dysfunctional BCAA metabolism and an inability to stimulate fat burning. They experience a “derangement in muscle metabolism that favor the development of obesity and metabolic diseases.”
This is one reason that, although we often say “fat loss starts in the kitchen,” exercise is absolutely essential to achieve it because it optimizes metabolism for protein synthesis and the burning of fat for energy.
Take Away: For leanness, plan your diet so that you achieve the threshold 10 grams of EAAs per meal. Eggs, fish, beef, milk, and whey protein are the highest EAA containing foods.
#3: Enhance Fat Metabolism With Balanced Macros & Whole Food
In order to lose fat or simply maintain your body composition, your body must be capable of metabolizing the dietary fat you eat and the fat you’ve got stored.
First, you need your body to effectively metabolize the fat you eat so that it can be used to make hormones, optimize brain health, and absorb essential vitamins. Something as simple as a stressed out liver or chronically poor sleep will impede metabolism of dietary fat.
Second, your body must be “metabolically flexible” so that it is able to readily mobilize and burn stored body fat as well as glucose (carbs). A failure in metabolic flexibility leads to fat gain and insulin resistance.
How do you ensure healthy metabolism of the fat you eat and the ability to burn the fat you’ve got stored?
Two methods of improving fat metabolism are exercise and replacing carb intake with fat. When you reduce the percentage of your calories that come from carbs, you decrease insulin and shift the body to burn fat rather than blood sugar. However, obese people don’t respond to this strategy as effectively as lean people.
In one study, 12 lean and 10 obese men were given a high-fat diet (70 percent fat, 15 percent protein, 15 percent carb) for three days. The lean subjects increased the amount of fat their bodies burned for energy, whereas the obese subjects did not. Researchers think that over the longer term, obese people would respond to the shift in macronutrients, but the process is uncomfortable because energy levels are compromised.
Using exercise to teach the body to burn fat is more effective for obese people. In the study just mentioned, the same two groups of men went through a washout period, then did 10 days of aerobic exercise (1 hour a day at 70 percent of maximal). This time, both the lean and obese subjects increased fat burning, indicating that exercise is a catalyst for the overweight to become more metabolically flexible.
A contributing factor to optimal fat metabolism is the amino acid carnitine. Carnitine is a potent fat burner because it is responsible for the transport of fats into the cells to be used for energy in the body.
In the German study mentioned in #1, along with BCAAs, subjects with higher free carnitine levels had significantly less body fat. The researchers interpret this link between carnitine and lower body fat to be evidence that people with more muscle mass will have an enhanced ability to burn fat.
Take Away: If you’re overweight, you must exercise because this is the most effective tool you have to improve their body’s ability to burn fat for energy. Eat a higher fat, lower carb diet with high-quality protein to supply carnitine and EAAs.
#4: Don’t Get Confused By Protein Backlash
In a high-carb culture, protein backlash is understandable. Nutrition, medical professionals and the media incorrectly warn us that a high-protein diet will tax kidney function, cause kidney stones, and leech bones of calcium, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
In fact, protein intake up to 2 g/kg/body weight a day is completely safe for healthy kidneys and appears to improve bone health. A study of competitive athletes concluded that daily protein intake, as high 2.8 g/kg won’t damage the kidneys in healthy athletes. The National Kidney Foundation recommends that the one group that should not eat a high-protein diet is those who have clinical kidney dysfunction or who are on dialysis.
Meanwhile, a large-scale analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of 31 studies found a small but significant benefit from greater protein intake on bone strength at several skeletal sites including the lumbar spine in every category of the population, from children to elderly men and women.
In addition to observational evidence that higher dietary protein benefits bone strength, we know that bone building requires a steady pool of amino acids in the body and over 50 percent of bone is made of protein. Eating more protein increases levels of insulin-like growth factor-I, which is a major regulator of bone building.
So you fully understand how it works, higher protein diets do tend to increase acid formation in the body, which leads to a loss of calcium (this is calcium that’s already been absorbed). However, calcium absorption during digestion is increased with diets higher in animal protein, which may offset that loss.
In addition, there’s a wealth of evidence that other factors such as lean mass percentage and muscle strength are more important for bone health than the calcium issue.
For example, sports scientists are well aware that the most effective way to strengthen bone is with activities that load the spine with heavy weights. Weight-bearing exercises that produce a large ground reaction force such as jumping also build bone.
Take Away: Don’t get confused by the misinformation about protein intake in a high-carb culture. Higher protein diets are safe for healthy people and they convey benefits for bone strength, muscle maintenance, and fat loss.
#5: Improve Gut Health to Optimize Protein’s Benefits For Muscularity
Do you remember the media storm that reported that carnitine and red meat were associated with heart disease? Although these reports completely missed the boat, there are some dangers to a high-protein intake that have to do with gut health.
Gut bacteria will live off of what you eat. People who eat more animal protein tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables and consume less fiber, though this tendency may not be typical in people who follow a Paleo-type diet. Low-fiber, higher animal protein diets have been found to increase inflammatory gut bacteria.
For example, a recent study from Tufts University of young (ages 18-35), normal-weight healthy people found that those who had more lean muscle mass had higher levels of biomarkers of inflammatory gut metabolism. These markers are considered metabolic toxins that have been linked with adverse health conditions, including gastric cancer, obesity, and type II diabetes.
The Tufts researchers suggest that although a high dietary protein intake is important for the optimization of muscle mass, an overconsumption of dietary protein that leads to the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria is dangerous.
A possible solution is to support the growth of beneficial anti-inflammatory gut bacteria with a diet high in vegetables, fruit, and something called resistant starch, which is found in foods such as bananas, oats, peas, maize, and potatoes. According to Mark Sisson, one of the easiest ways to improve gut flora is to consume raw unmodified potato starch.
This approach is supported by what we know about present day hunger-gatherers such as the Kitavan Islanders in Oceania who eat an ancestral diet that is high in resistant starch and other fibers that stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory bacteria in the gut. The Kitavans eat no Western foods (grains, flour, sugar, oil) and are lean and virtually free of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Take Away: Don’t let a blind spot such as lack of fiber in your higher protein diet compromise health. Support gut health with a variety of vegetables, fruit, probiotic foods, and resistant starches.

#6: Balance High-Quality Protein With Fruits and Veggies

You won’t be surprised to learn that the Tufts University study also found that higher metabolic markers of BCAAs were associated with greater lean mass and insulin sensitivity. However, the news was not consistently positive for subjects who had better body compositions.
There was strong evidence that subjects with more lean mass had more oxidative stress and inflammation. Scientists were concerned with this association and suggest that people who eat diets rich in protein should increase fruits and vegetables because they are well documented to increase blood antioxidant capacity and reduce inflammation.
A related benefit of phytonutrient-rich foods is that they support mitochondrial health, which is suppressed on a high-protein diet. You may recall from elementary biology that mitochondria turn energy from food into ATP to provide energy for cells to fuel activity. The byproduct of this process is free radicals, which bounce around, damaging everything in sight, and accelerating aging.

The best way to avoid free radical production is to not eat. No joke! This is the reason calorie restriction and fasting are beneficial for longevity since they improve mitochondrial health and prevent aging.
A more practical method is to get your carbs from plants, and eat the rest of your energy from high-quality protein and beneficial fats. The nutrients in plants eliminate free radicals that cause inflammation. Favoring fat at the expense of carbs provides a “cleaner” burning energy source, generating fewer free radicals than carbs.
Take Away: Get your carbs from protective phytonutrient-rich foods such as blueberries, grapes, kiwi, tart cherries, raspberries, blackberries, leafy greens, peppers, pomegranates, and some starches. Avocado, olives, coconut oil, whey protein are other antioxidant-rich foods to include as you go high in fat and protein.

The Exercise and Nutrition Guide to Staying Young

Fri, 05/24/2013 – 2:26pm — Editor

It’s not something we think about every day, but once in a while this thought creeps into the mind of most everyone over 30; “I don’t feel as invincible as I use to”. That’s because sometime around 30 our bodies start to change, specifically our hormone production starts to decline. This declining hormone production affects the way we feel, perform and even think.
A reduction in testosterone production occurs as we age
The reduction in testosterone production that occurs as men age can contribute to increased feelings of fatigue, insomnia, weakness, increased body fat, lack of motivation, depression, and decreased sex drive. This decrease in testosterone level also adversely affects women (yes, women have testosterone to) causing low energy, diminished sex drive, anxiety and depression.
Growth hormone production also declines as we age
Our growth hormone production also declines as we age, in men and women alike. The decline in growth hormone also begins sometime around 30. This decline in growth hormone production has a significant impact on the aging process, including decreased lean body mass, lower bone density, less strength, and depression, as well as negatively impacting cell reproduction (affecting such aging issues as reduced skin elasticity, plus slower hair and nail growth).
Slow down the aging process through a combination of exercise and nutrition
Fortunately, you can significantly reduce the decline in hormone production and slow down the aging process through the proper combination of exercise and nutrition. Just a few (but highly critical) adjustments to your exercise and nutrition program can make a dramatic difference in the way we look, feel, perform, and our overall quality of life. Here are a few important guidelines we should all try to follow:
1) Incorporate High-Intensity Exercise
Short high-intensity exercise has been shown to boost testosterone as well as growth hormone production. There is probably no more important adjustment you can make to your fitness program when you are over the age of 30, than incorporating short-duration and high-intensity exercise. Explosive functional training or plyometrics burst type exercises (like we offer at G&L.com) will engage your fast muscle fibers and stimulate growth hormone production as well as lean muscle development.
As we age, the days of long and slow cardiovascular conditioning should be left behind, because a primary goal of our workouts should be to increase youthful hormone production. Unfortunately, excessive endurance training can have the exact opposite effect on overall good health, and when overdone can lead to a further decline in growth hormone production. Both Gabby and Laird make high intensity functional workouts the mainstay of their fitness program, as should we all.
2) Boost Intake of Essential Amino Acids
Our bodies depend on the availability of certain essential amino acids to both stimulate and optimize growth hormone production. The amino acids Glutamine, Arginine and Lysine when taken orally immediately after exercise and just prior to sleep is an effective growth hormone releasing agent, providing you combine high intensity training. These amino acids are found in protein such as fish, chicken, eggs and lean meat, but can more easily be obtained in the proper quality and timing through amino acid supplementation (such as TRUition Max).
3) Strength Training
As we age, it is also important to include strength training into your routine fitness program. Your body especially needs the benefits of weight barring exercise as we age, to maintain both skeletal and muscular strength. Unfortunately, you see far too many people gravitate to the treadmill and elliptical trainer as they age. When in fact the weight room or resistance equipment is what they really need. By simply moving to the next resistance exercise with minimal rest (circuit training), you can improve cardiovascular health while also providing your body all the benefits of strength training.
TRUition co-founder Don Wildman, who is still an avid cyclist and competitive racer at the age of 80, always reminds his friends and fans that he considers his infamous circuit training program far more important to youthfulness and overall good health than his cycling. “When time is at a premium, I always make sure my strength training workouts come first. If I had to make a choice, I would always choose circuit training over any other type of exercise”.
4) Consume More Protein
Without question, consuming plenty of fresh plants, fruits, and vegetables is important to overall good health. We all need the phytonutrient and immune boosting antioxidants from a broad diversity of fruits and vegetables (see TRUition Greens).However, because muscle development declines as we age; proper protein intake becomes even more important.
In order to get the full benefit of your strength training program, proper protein intake both before and after exercise is recommended. Such foods as eggs, lean meat, fish and chicken are high in protein. A cup of coffee before your morning workout is simply not the right fuel for muscle development, nor is pancakes or bagels with cream cheese. Some organic egg, or better yet an organic whey protein shake, is what you need (see TRUition Whey). Whey protein is actually more bioavailable than fish, meat, chicken or eggs, and therefor easier to digest and quicker for your body to utilize.
5) Get Proper Rest
There are two very important aspects of rest which can’t be overlooked or substituted in any way. During our periods of rest our muscles recover and rebuild. Without proper rest between high intensity workouts, we will not be able to effectively build more muscle. Additionally, hormone production is at its highest just after exercise and while you’re sleeping.
Once again, one of the primary fitness goals of anyone over 30 should be to offset declining hormone production in order to stay young. You simply must take the time to rest properly in order to get the maximum benefits from you exercise and nutrition program. There is no way around it.
Develop these few critical exercise and nutrition habits and stay young
It doesn’t take much to slow down (and in some cases reverse) the aging process. If you have been inactive for years, had a poor diet deficient in protein, fruits and vegetables, and a high stress lifestyle which lacks proper rest, then following the 5 anti-aging guidelines explained above will be life changing. We should all want to live a long and high quality life, and to help make that happen you just need to develop a few critical exercise and nutritional habits.
Written by
John Wildman
THE G&L Team

10 Nutrition Tips You Should Be Following

In a sea of misinformation, t’s easy to get confused…
In Part 1 of this article, I discussed 5 simple nutrition tips that are easy to follow, and help you wade through all of the confusing and conflicting nutrition information that’s out there.  These tips will not only help you achieve a lean physique, but they are also fantastic for optimal health and performance.  Today, I am bringing you 5 more.

Keep in mind, if you’re new to the nutrition game, you might not want to try incorporating all of these at once, as that can be super overwhelming.  Maybe just incorporate one tip at a time until it becomes a habit, and then incorporate another.

If you’re a veteran of sound nutrition, use these as a checklist to make sure you’re still on top of your game, at least 90% of the time.

6. Time your carbs appropriately.
From low carb to no carb, good carb to bad carb, low glycemic to high glycemic, it’s enough to anyone feel crazy!
While low carb diets can be very effective for fat loss, they can be difficult for many people to follow, and consistently following a low carb diet without incorporating higher carb meals or days can lead to health issues, namely sluggish thyroid function.
So how do you incorporate carbohydrates into your diet without inhibiting fat loss?
Simple.  Make your carbs work for you by timing them correctly.
Immediately post-weight training, our muscle cells are more insulin sensitive than normal, and our fat cells are less insulin sensitive.  This is the body’s way of ensuring that nutrition consumed post-workout gets shuttled where it’s needed most (to the muscle for repair).  So within an hour or so after a weight training workout is the best time to consume starchy carbohydrates (with an easily digested protein source of course), and if you weight train very intensely, you may actually want a small meal of protein and carbs before you weight train as well.
It’s also important to keep in mind that everyone is different and some people function much better on a moderate to higher carb diet, so experimentation is key.
– Try eating both lower and higher amounts of carbs and see how you feel.
– Try having carbs pre-workout and see how you feel.
– Try different sources of carbohydrates at different times and see how you feel.
– Make sure you give yourself a week or two to adjust to the dietary changes before coming to any major conclusions.
As for good carb sources, try: sweet potatoes, red potatoes, white potatoes, rice, butternut squash, berries, or gluten-free oats.
For more information about carb sources and how they affect your body, check out this article. 

Not all carb sources are created equal…
7. Include healthy fats with most meals.
For years, the health industry was convinced that we should be afraid to eat fat, because it will not only make us fat, but give us heart disease and high cholesterol.  Now we realize that that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Eating good sources of healthy fats will not only keep you full and satisfied, but it will help stabilize your blood sugar, mood, and energy levels. Sound familiar? (see: tip #4).
Even though the health industry is coming around and starting to recognize the benefits of fat, there is still a lot of confusion about which fats are ‘good” and which are “bad.”
Here are a few of my favorite fat sources: olive oil, real butter, coconut oil, avocado, nuts/nut butter, whole eggs, walnuts, ghee, cashews, fatty fish, grass fed beef.
Here are the fat sources I try to avoid: fats from conventionally fried food, mass produced cakes/pastries, most vegetable oils (corn, soybean, cottonseed, canola, safflower), hydrogenated oils.
8. Taste the rainbow! 
And no, I don’t mean eat more Skittles (even though they can be a delicious treat on occasion).
By “taste the rainbow” I mean include more colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet.  Many of us stick with the same vegetables all the time (I am totally guilty of this!)

Choosing from a variety of fruits and veggies not only gives you a wide variety of nutrients, but it prevents dietary boredom!
There are several color categories for fruits and veggies and the wider a variety of foods you get from these different categories, the more likely you are to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health.  Here are just a few examples of fruits and vegetables from each category:
White: onions, mushrooms, garlic, bananas
Yellow: butternut squash, peppers, yellow squash, pineapples
Orange: peaches, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes
Red: beets, cherries, watermelon, tomatoes, radishes
Green: bok choy, kale, swiss chard, spinach, avocado, kiwi, lime
Blue/Purple: eggplant, purple cabbage, plums, blueberries
9. Eat According To The Season
In today’s over-abundant society, it’s hard to imagine a world without grocery stores on every corner, and whatever kind of food we want, right at our fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As lucky as we are to have these options, our bodies aren’t designed to eat certain foods in abundance year-round.  That’s why certain fruits and vegetables grow seasonally, and that’s also why we crave different foods at different times of the year.  During the fall and winter we tend to crave hearty meats and root vegetables, and during the spring and summer we often crave lighter fare like fresh fish, fruits and vegetables.
Try to pick foods that are grown locally and are in-season.  Visiting your local Farmer’s Market is a great way to ensure that you’re making good choices.
10. Experiment with pulling out foods.
Food allergies and sensitivities can wreak havoc on your digestive system and negatively affect nutrient absorption and energy levels.  The worst part is that many people don’t know they are suffering from them.
The 8 most common food allergens are: milk, corn, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish.

Don’t let these common food allergens wreak havoc on you!
Try pulling some or all of these foods out of your diet for at least 3-4 weeks, adding them back in one at a time to gauge your reaction.  Give yourself a full 2-3 days to see if a reaction occurs.  Common reactions include: rashes, breakouts, stomach pains, constipation or diarrhea, brain fog, exhaustion, or just a general feeling of malaise.
Those 8 foods are a good place to start, but you can always try pulling out any food that you suspect you might not tolerate well.
There you have it!  10 nutrition tips you should be following to ensure you always feel, look, and perform your best!

Nutrition and fitness resolutions for 2012 – The Washington Post

By ,

Jan. 1 is still a few days away, but it’s not too early to start thinking about ways to make 2012 your most healthful year yet. I touched base with some of the folks I interviewed for this column during 2011 to ask them about their plans for the coming year. Here are some of their resolutions for eating, drinking and being healthful through the holiday season and beyond.
Plant-based diet
“In 2012, I will be eating a mostly plant-based diet of root vegetables, lentils, garbanzo and black beans, unprocessed grains and my homegrown herbs and spices — and my own-grown papayas and pineapples — to target my entire detox system and for immune-strengthening benefits. My 2012 fitness goal: Bones willing, I am training to improve my marathon time, ride my bike more and maintain general fitness with yoga.”
Setting a good example
“God willing, I’ll go another year following my nutritionist’s plan for me, which proscribes not only refined sugar and refined grain but several other foods that I’ve proven I don’t eat moderately. I’ll continue to seek out whole foods grown sustainably, including in my two organic veggie gardens. My goal is not only to feed our family tasty, nutritious food but to show our 2-year-old, Joseph, that nutrition matters, and so does living our values. And I’ll keep spreading the science and experience of food addiction to all who will listen.”
Self-control strategy
“I find big resolutions are often broken. So I incorporate small steps along the way to long-term good health. For example, I’ve just begun an exercise in self-control that’s working. I start my lunch with an apple and a glass of water, and then I wait. Ten full minutes. Then I eat my actual lunch. The apple, the water and the food pause help me feel fuller, making my sandwich or salad more satisfying. In the new year, I’m going to try a similar exercise with dinner.”
— Duffy MacKay , vice president, Council for Responsible Nutrition
Treadmill trick
“Even though I’m a longtime vegan and eat healthfully, I’m a lazy exerciser. A few months ago, I set up a board on my treadmill so that I could place my laptop on it and walk slowly while working. Added to brisker outdoor walks, it’s amazing how easy it is to rack up 5 to 6 miles per day — sometimes more. In addition, I try to make each meal at least 50 percent raw. Between these two strategies, that stubborn weight creep around the middle has been melting away!”
— Nava Atlas , author of “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” and creator of the Web site VegKitchen
Greater grains
“The gluten-free diet can be high in empty carbohydrates, calories and fat. I write about and live the gluten-free lifestyle every day and even spent last year testing nearly 200 recipes for a gluten-free cookbook. You see where I’m going with this? I’ve got to lose five pounds. But I am not great about dieting to lose weight. After all, one diet is enough. So I am going to try to eat more legumes, vegetables and high-fiber gluten-free grains like quinoa, buckwheat groats, brown rice and amaranth. More grains and fewer cookies is my mantra for 2012.”
Nurturing others
“Staying healthy is not just for ourselves, nor even just for those we love, but for everyone our lives touch — even in the most indirect ways. Nurturing others often sets up a positive feedback loop, reducing our own stress, improving our health, giving us more to give. This holiday season, I’ll try to sing in harmony with my family, laugh with little kids and listen to my elders’ stories. As for food, health comes not just from what you eat, but how you eat (slowly enough to savor) and how you share — in peace. So that’s what I’ll try to pay attention to.”
How to incorporate veggie days
You may have noticed that a number of folks here mentioned making plant-based foods a bigger part of their diets. That’s a great idea. D.C.-based dietitian Jennifer K. Reilly advocates taking that effort a few steps further. Reilly, author of “Cooking With Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Skinny Dish!,” follows a mostly vegan diet and thinks many other people could benefit from eating less animal-based food.
Reilly knows that might be a daunting prospect for those who, like me, can’t imagine life without meat, cheese, milk or eggs. So she offers these ideas for easing into vegetable-oriented eating habits.
1 Workweek veggie days: “If you can’t move to a completely plant-powered diet, then a Monday-through-Friday or Monday-Wednesday-Friday plan is fantastic,” she says. “Enjoy beans and lentils for protein, and load half your plate with veggies to encourage satiety without breaking the bank on calories.”
2 Once-a-week vegan detox: Reilly says this is “a great way to keep your body running smoothly and keep your youthful looks and energy.” During the detox day, your diet should be free of gluten and refined sugars, and include 60 to 80 percent raw foods, lots of filtered water and herbal teas.
3 Sample vegan day: Green smoothie, raspberries, vegetables and hummus, brown rice and lentils, a large green salad with raw sunflower seeds and avocado, curried sweet potato soup, and raw vegetables dipped in tahini dressing. Says Reilly: “After 21 days of these new habits, they’ll be as solid as gold!”

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