National Nutrition Month - Are you sabotaging your diet?

Are you sabotaging your diet?

Yes, the focus of March is Nutrition … I have subtle and important information to share. Let’s figure out if you are sabotaging your diet. 

Many of the people and patients I have encountered struggle with attaining their ideal body weight or BMI – why?

Most lack a thorough knowledge of what to eat,
Others are not monitoring what they eat, and
Many others are not managing the subtle saboteurs.

The Critical Piece

A critical piece to resolving some of these questions is the need for data/measurements. None of us would fly in an airplane if the pilot informed us that they were flying without looking at an instrument panel, yet most of us never measure or account for what we eat. How can we expect a pilot to get from point A to point B without using gauges? How do we achieve our maximum healthy eating lifestyle without some form of counting or measurements?

What’s the right course?

For many years I have been recommending the use of different apps to measure dietary intake allowing each of us to fine tune our nutrient intake to maximize our health. Many have taken this advice and found it very helpful and for some it was a revelation about just how much fat, carbohydrates or calories certain foods contained. For pilots, they remain on course or alter their course based on instrument reports. The same type of feedback would help all of us remain on course to meet our nutrient needs.

Understanding Fat and Calories

Now, I love nuts, and we all have read that nuts are healthy and packed with healthy fats, right? Well to a point, but this is one of those situations when we need to read the fine print. It’s important to understand the components of a food’s fat and caloric contents.

While nuts are high in healthy fats and protein, they are loaded with calories, mainly from the fat content. As an example:

  • 1 ounce of cashews = 157 calories, 12 grams fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein
  • 1 ounce of pistachios = 159 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of protein

The point is, we need to measure and account for this and everything else every day.

What about protein?

What should be the daily intake of protein?

Protein is a controversial subject. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is established by the National Academy of Medicine indicating that protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound of body weight.

These numbers represent the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements; the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick and NOT the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day or to build muscle mass or recover from an illness.

Another set of guidelines that we could apply are a daily protein intake of about 0.45-0.55 grams per pound of body weight. According to research supported by members of the Protein Summit 2.0, this amount would be beneficial for healthy metabolic function, addressing the needs of aging adults or those attempting to gain muscle mass through strength training. About 10% to 35% of your total calories in a day should be protein.

These recommendations are like those I proposed in the Power of 5. By following these recommendations, spacing out intake to 4-5 times a day and limiting intake of 20-30 grams of per meal, we could achieve a reasonable goal. By consuming protein dense foods, lentils, mushrooms, nuts and seeds, eggs and fish, we could also limit those with high concentrations of carbs and fats.

More Plant-Based Protein Sources

It’s easy to find plant-based sources of protein at the grocery store. Just look at all these options! These foods also are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients.

  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Chickpeas
  • Greens
  • Lentils
  • Nut Butter
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Seaweed
  • Soymilk
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Veggie Patties

Don’t Sabotage Your Diet

As we celebrate National Nutrition Month, it is a great time to reflect on what tools and gauges we are using such as (Lose It!, MyFitnessPal, and many others) and how we are fine tuning our own dietary intake to meet our goals for healthy weight, BMI, and waist size.

To a long and healthy life,
David Bernstein, MD

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