Ask a Professional: Nutritionist
Because they really do know best.
When it comes to the health and nutrition space we still have A LOT of questions, which we kind of blame on the fact that everything is constantly changing. Who knows, tomorrow kale could be thrown to the curb only to be replaced with another power green, you know? And in our pursuit of getting a grasp of it all and upping our health game in general, we've already quit diet coke (yeah, it was as intense as you can imagine) and decoded the food labels on our favorite snacks. We're pretty much on a roll and it's not even the New Year. The best part though? When we found out that you guys have a ton of questions, too. Like, is it better for your metabolism to eat three well-rounded meals or mini-snackish ones throughout the day? What's the best way to safely gain weight (without filling up on unhealthy foods)? And what can you really do to prevent that hunger headache that comes around like clockwork at 3PM every. damn. afternoon? So we dialled up the professional nutritionists who practice what they preach when it comes to this stuff and they answered ALL your questions (and even threw in some new recipes for you to try :clap:). We know, we know, they're overachievers.
I exercise a lot and I am finding myself constantly hungry even if I have just eaten. What should I eat to conquer my hunger?
"That's a great question! Your body may be going through a phase, as our bodies sometimes do. It's not uncommon for people to go through a period where they feel they are always hungry, sometimes even waking up in the middle of the night because their tummy is growling for more food. If your hunger seems uncharacteristic, then it could be your body going through a phase. You mentioned that you exercise frequently and you think that's related to your insatiable hunger.
Have you always exercised that much? Did the uncharacteristic hunger start when you started exercising more? Whatever the case, if your body is telling you it's hungry, give it what it wants. Our body's know what's best for us! If it's a phase, there's a reason for it. Trust your body and feed it clean fuel. Now, what are you eating? Are you nourishing yourself properly to maintain an increase in physical activity? It is true that when you are spending more calories, you need to intake more. We know that not all calories are equal which is why it's important to look closely at your diet and cut out sugar, cut down on processed foods like white breads, pastas, and most things that come out of a box or a can. All of these things are very low in the nutrients that your body needs, you may feel full for an hour or so but you aren't taking in any real nutrients, and your body is still hungry.
Take out all the empty calories from your diet, and replace them with fresh whole foods (whole foods are anything that has one ingredient, i.e. pears, carrots, fish.) Fresh veggies are the best way to nourish your body and meet all of your nutrient requirements to live an active life. Clean proteins like cage and horomone free eggs and chicken as well as sustainably sourced fish are a great replacement for any protein you're eating currently. You can always up your protein intake, I recommend 1/4 of your plate go be a quality protein if you thrive on animal protein and are looking to gain muscle. Making these changes and giving your body what it needs will surely satiate your hunger. and don't forget to listen to your body!"
- Emily van Raay, Holistic Health Coach & Founder of Models for Wellness
Alternative ways to boost my energy instead of another cup of coffee?
Peppermint/mint tea—naturally stimulates the senses to perk you up.
Hot water with 1/2 a lemon—citrus perks you up with its brightness.
Matcha latte with almond milk—green tea gives a kick of caffeine and it's rich in antioxidants.
Yerba matte—a great natural energy booster and natural powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Dried fruit and nuts—dates or goji berries are great for a quickly digested source of natural sugar/energy and walnuts are filled with omega-3s and antioxidants.
Apple or banana with almond butter—stabilizes blood sugar and is a quick source of natural sugar/energy, protein and omega-3 healthy fats.
Avocado toast—avocado is rich in omega-3s and super sustaining."
How can I gain weight without eating pasta, bread and a lot of nut butters?
“The fastest way to gain weight is to eat fat and carbs together. If you’re avoiding gluten and nuts, then some other choices would be a big grain bowl with rice, squash, avocado, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds. While this is healthy, it’s a weight gain food (many women mistakenly think they’ll lose eating this, but that’s the rare woman). Smoothies are another great choice because you can load them up with calories. I recommend a smoothie made with a vegan protein powder, coconut milk (from a can), 1 tbs of coconut oil, avocado, banana, cinnamon and spinach. This smoothie is about 600 calories! Meal timing is also important too; eat a very very big dinner and snack every two hours. Be patient, weight gain is slower than weight loss.”
- Dana James, Nutritionist CDN, CNS, Food Coach NYC
If I'm an athlete, is it okay to eat whatever? What's the ideal diet for a runner/triathlete?
“When it comes to diet and athletic performance, you will get out what you put in. Most serious triathlon athletes work with a nutritionist when they are first training to find the right combination of carbohydrates and protein to optimize their performance. The right diet is critical during the training period to not only support the stress you are putting on the body but to prevent injuries. I once saw a triathlon athlete who ended up with muscle deterioration because he was not paying close enough attention to his body's nutritional needs during training.
In general, you want your calories to have high nutrient density. The bulk of your diet should be made up of whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Your body is not the government, it cannot run on a deficient and as an athlete you are making high demands. Empty calorie soft drinks, candy and snack foods should be avoided as much as possible.”
- Kelly Dorfman, Licensed Clinical Nutritionist & Author
Is it actually better to eat small meals throughout the day or three?
"The problem with grazing on small meals throughout the day is that digestion is extremely taxing on your body! It's important to give your body a chance to process, absorb and use all the essential macro and micronutrients in your food, and it cannot do that when you are constantly throwing more work (i.e. food) its way. In addition to better absorption, when you give your body a break in between meals, your body is able to detoxify and repair its tissues, organs and cells (which may just be the secret to a longer life). This is why many health experts actually recommend taking breaks from eating and snacking. The benefits of short-term food restriction can include greater fat burning ability, reduced insulin resistance, preservation of muscle tissue, and lower rates of inflammation and oxidative stress. As for the whole idea that eating more frequently stokes your metabolism via thermogenesis? There's a lot of research that suggests it's simply not true, and beyond that, eating more often throughout the day increases the likelihood of overeating if you don't choose the right things, which ultimately means weight gain. So this is why we say, stick to three balanced, nutrient-dense meals a day. To ensure you’re energized and satisfied throughout, make sure you optimize each mealtime by including lots of nutrient-dense superfood ingredients in every breakfast, lunch and dinner."
- Whitney Tingle & Danielle DuBoise, Co-Founders, Sakara Life
How do you stop sugar cravings?
“Stay hydrated–drink plenty of pure water, mineral rich water, and herbal teas as well water-rich foods like fruits and veggies. Did you know that dehydration can cause cravings for sugar and salt, headache, irritability and nausea? Our bodies are mostly made up of water and our cells needs lots of it, in order to maintain balance. It is recommended to drink halcf of your body weight. If you’re 150 pounds then you should have 75 ounces or 9 1/2 cups of water, tea and water-rich foods. Try one of my favorite drinks, GTs Kombucha. It’s packed with electrolytes and has no artificial sweeteners and has sugar craving busting probiotics in them."
- Nikki Ostrower, Nutritionist, NAO Nutrition
What should you eat during that 3:00PM slump?
“No matter who you are and what you do during your day, you’re likely to be afflicted with the slump–that infamous hour around 3 or 4pm when your lunch fuel has burned off and you need a serious pick-me-up. This time of day requires a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, so avoid the vending machine or corner store with homemade snacks. Keep your healthy habits on track with these tasty ideas that will see you through until dinner!
Savory snacks: Raw Nut Pulp Hummus: if you make your own nut milk and need a use for the leftover pulp, try this recipe out! It’s incredibly delicious and great with some veggie sticks or on crackers. High in both protein and fiber, it seriously fills the gap. Kickin’ Chickpeas: These addictive little crunchies and better than chips! Easy to make and totally customizable, keep a stash in your bag at all times for when the craving for something savory and salty hits. The Life-Changing Crackers: The name says it all! These babies are flour-free and packed with nuts, seeds and whole ingredients. They stay super crunchy so I make a big batch on Sunday for happy snacking all week long.
Sweet snacks: Mango Sunshine Cashew Bites: Take your tastebuds on a tropical holiday! Not-too-sweet and completely satisfying, these are the perfect on-the-go indulgence. Raw Salted Caramel Apple Dip: This is a great at-your-desk snack. Just bring a few slices of your favorite fruit and dip away! Superfood Nut Butter Cups: Like your favorite peanut butter cup, but that’s actually good for you. You’re welcome."
- Sarah Britton, CNP