Can Carb Cycling Help You Lose Weight?

Carb cycling for weight loss is gaining popularity; however, there may be a healthier way to reap the same benefits! 

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You’ve heard plenty of mixed reviews for low-carb diets, but what about carb cycling? The trendpopular with body builders and some athletesis generating buzz as a weight loss method. Here’s the lowdown on how carb cycling works; its potential benefits; and a more simple, less strict alternative.

What is carb cycling, exactly?

While there isn’t one standard protocol, carb cycling typically involves alternating lower-carb days with higher-carb days. Typically fat intake increases on lower-carb days, and decreases on higher-carb days; while protein intake remains consistent. Many advocates recommend this regimen: On days when you do strength training, consume a higher amount of carbs (say 200 grams), a low amount of fat, and a moderate amount of protein. On days when you do a cardio workout, eat a moderate amount of carbs (about 100 grams), protein, and fat. On rest days, eat fewer carbs (30 grams), a higher amount of fat, and a moderate amount of protein.

Another approach involves keeping both protein intake and fat intake fairly consistent, and modifying only your carbohydrates. With this method, lower-carb days are also lower-calorie days.

What are the benefits?

Proponents of carb cycling claim that the eating pattern helps increase muscle mass, decrease body fat, and improve fitness performance. However, research on the diet is limited. One 2013 study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, looked at the effects of intermittent carb and calorie restriction in 115 overweight women aged 20 to 69, all of whom had a family history of breast cancer. The women were randomly assigned to one of three groups for three months. The first group consumed a calorie-restricted, low-carb diet two days per week. The women in the second group followed the same diet, but were allowed to eat unlimited amounts of protein and healthy fats (such as lean meat, olives, and nuts) on the low-carb days. The third group followed a standard, calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet seven days a week.

Researchers found that the women in both low-carb groups had better results: They lost roughly 9 pounds on average, compared to about 5 pounds in the Mediterranean group. Insulin resistance also decreased by 22% percent among the standard low-carb dieters; and 14% percent among those allowed extra protein and fat on low-carb dayscompared to just 4% among the Mediterranean dieters. (The results were particularly significant for the study participants, as losing weight and lowering insulin resistance may help prevent breast cancer.) While this study didn’t involve the same carb cycling approach used by body builders and athletes, it does offer some insight into the potential benefits of limiting carbs part-time, but is doing so practical? Slashing carbs, even a few days a week, needs to be sustainable in order to generate lasting results.

The authors of that 2013 study also found that a higher percentage of women on the low-carb diets experienced constipation, headaches, bad breath, light-headedness, and food fixation. These unpleasant side effects parallel with many who severely restrict their carb intake. The side effects also result in many low-carb dieters, giving up the diet or wind up binging on forbidden foods.

Is there a more sustainable approach?

One of the main philosophies behind carb cycling is limiting carbs when the body doesn’t need them as much. In a nutshell, carbs serve as fuel (like gasoline in your car) to help cells perform their jobs. Eating a large amount of carbs on days when you’re not very active doesn’t make much sense, because your body requires less fuel (much like how your car needs less gas for a ride across town compared to a road trip). Carbs that are not burned for fuel create a surpluswhich can prevent weight loss, or lead to weight gain.

On the flip side, a carb limit of 30 grams is very low, even on less active days. That’s the amount of carbs in one cup of broccoli, one whole apple, and five baby carrots. For a better balance, practice “carb matching, “or aligning your carb intake with your energy needs, which may vary from day to day, or morning to afternoon. This approach essentially involves eating larger portions of clean, whole food carbs to support more active hours; and curbing carbs when you expect you’ll be less active. For example, if you’re planning to do a morning workout, have oatmeal topped with a sliced banana for breakfast beforehand. However, if you’re headed to the office to sit at a desk for several hours, a veggie and avocado omelet with a side of berries would be a more appropriate a.m. meal.

Carb matching helps with weight loss and improves fitness performance, while supporting all-day energy and a wide range of nutrients, so it makes sense. Many pro athlete, who train or perform several hours a day, require more carbs than “office” athletes, who may fit in a morning workout, then sit in meetings the remainder of the day. Carb matching also involves aligning your carb needs with your age, height, ideal weight, sex, and occupation. After all, a young, tall man with an active job and an ideal weight of 185 pounds is going to have a higher carb requirement than an older, petite woman with a sedentary job and an ideal weight of 135 pounds.

While carb cycling involves drastic shifts, carb matching is all about creating balance; not too little, and not too much. If you’ve tried carb cycling, and it either hasn’t worked for you, or doesn’t seem like a strategy you can stick with, try moderating your carb intake based on your activity level instead. Regardless of which approach you try, stick with these two important rules of thumb:

1) Always make quality a priority by choosing fresh, whole foods. (And remember not all carbs are created equal.)

2) Listen to your body! It’s cues are pretty good at guiding you toward a “just right” balance.

Adapted from: Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Shake the salting habit! Replace salt with lemon, herbs and spices.

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Taking a break from dieting may improve weight loss

Research showed in a randomized controlled trial, that taking a 2-week break during dieting may improve weight loss. 

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Avoiding continuous dieting may be the key to losing weight and keeping the kilos off, according to the latest research from University of Tasmania. In findings (published September 2017) in the International Journal for Obesity, School of Health Sciences researchers showed in a randomized controlled trial, that taking a two-week break during dieting may improve weight loss. The study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia, investigated the body’s ‘famine reaction’ to continued dieting and its impact on weight loss in men with obesity. During the study, two groups of participants took part in a 16-week diet which cut calorie intake by one third.

One group maintained the diet continuously for 16 weeks while the other maintained the diet for two weeks, then broke from the diet for two weeks eating simply to keep their weight stable, and repeated this cycle for 30 weeks in total to ensure 16 weeks of dieting. Those in the intermittent diet group not only lost more weight, but also gained less weight after the trial finished. The intermittent diet group maintained an average weight loss of 8 kg (17 lb) more than the continuous diet group, six months after the end of the diet. Head of the University of Tasmania’s School of Health Sciences Professor Nuala Byrne, who led the study with a team of collaborators from Queensland University of Technology and the University of Sydney, said dieting altered a series of biological processes in the body, which led to slower weight loss, and possibly weight gain.

“When we reduce our energy (food) intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected; a phenomenon termed ‘adaptive thermogenesis’ — making weight loss harder to achieve,” Professor Byrne said. “This ‘famine reaction’, a survival mechanism which helped humans to survive as a species when food supply was inconsistent in millennia past, is now contributing to our growing waistlines when the food supply is readily available.” Professor Byrne said while researchers in the past had shown that as dieting continued weight loss became more difficult, this latest MATADOR (Minimising Adaptive Thermogenesis And Deactivating Obesity Rebound) study looked more closely at ways to lessen the famine response and improve weight loss success. However Professor Byrne said while this two-week intermittent diet proved to be a more successful means of weight loss compared with continuous dieting, other popular diets which included cycles of several days of fasting and feasting were no more effective than continuous dieting.

“There is a growing body of research which has shown that diets which use one to seven day periods of complete or partial fasting alternated with ad libitum food intake, are not more effective for weight loss than conventional continuous dieting,” she said. “It seems that the ‘breaks’ from dieting we have used in this study may be critical to the success of this approach. “While further investigations are needed around this intermittent dieting approach, findings from this study provide preliminary support for the model as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss.”

Adapted from: University of Tasmania. (2017, September 18). Taking a break from dieting may improve weight loss: Research showed in a randomized controlled trial, that taking a 2-week break during dieting may improve weight loss. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170918222235.htm

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Take time for tea! Tea contains polyphenols, it’s good for your bones and it provides a soothing cup of comfort in any season. It it also a good plant fertilizer!!

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How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

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Protein is incredibly important. If we do not get enough from our diet, our health and body composition suffers. However, there are vastly different opinions on how much protein we actually need. Most official nutrition organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.

This amounts to:

  • 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
  • 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

Although this meager amount may be enough to prevent downright deficiency, studies show that it is far from sufficient to ensure optimal health and body composition. It turns out that the “right” amount of protein for any one individual depends on many factors… including activity levels, age, muscle mass, physique goals and current state of health. So, what amount of protein is optimal and how do lifestyle factors, such as weight loss, muscle building and activity levels factor in? Let’s find out…

Protein – What Is It and Why Do We Care?

Proteins are the main building blocks of the body. They are used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various tiny molecules that serve important functions. Without protein, life as we know it would not be possible.

Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are linked together similar to beads on a string. The linked amino acids form long protein chains, which are then folded into complex shapes. Some of these amino acids can be produced by the body; however, others must come from the diet. The ones we can not produce and must get from our foods are called the “essential” amino acids.

Protein is not just about quantity but also about quality. Generally speaking, animal protein provides all the essential amino acids in the right ratio for us to make full use of them (only makes sense, since animal tissues are similar to our own tissues). If you’re eating animal products ( meat, fish, eggs, or dairy) every day, then you’re probably already doing pretty well, protein-wise. If you do not eat animal foods, then it is a bit more challenging to get all the protein and essential amino acids that your body needs. Most people do not really need protein supplements, but they can be useful for athletes and bodybuilders.

BOTTOM LINE: Protein is a structural molecule assembled out of amino acids, many of which the body cannot produce on its own. Animal foods are usually high in protein, with all the essential amino acids that we need.

Protein Can Help You Lose Weight (and Prevent You From Gaining it in The First Place)

Protein is incredibly important when it comes to losing weight. As we know, to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we burn. Eating protein can help with that, by boosting your metabolic rate (calories out) and reducing your appetite (calories in). This is well supported by science.

Protein at around 25-30% of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets. However probably the most important contribution of protein to weight loss, is its ability to reduce appetite and cause a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. Protein is much more satiating than both fat and carbs. In a study in obese men, protein at 25% of calories increased feelings of fullness, reduced the desire for late-night snacking by half and reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%.

In another study, women who increased protein intake to 30% of calories ended up eating 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding more protein to their diet. However,  protein doesn’t just help you lose, it can also help prevent you from gaining weight in the first place.

In one study, just a modest increase in protein from 15% of calories to 18% of calories reduced the amount of fat people regained after weight loss by 50%. A high protein intake also helps to build and preserve muscle mass, which burns a small amount of calories around the clock. By eating more protein, you will make it much easier to stick to whichever weight loss diet (be it high-carb, low-carb or something in between) you choose to follow.

According to these studies, a protein intake around 30% of calories may be optimal for weight loss. This amounts to 150 grams per day for someone on a 2000 calorie diet. You can calculate it by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075.

More Protein Can Help You Gain Muscle and Strength

Muscles are made largely of protein. As with most tissues in the body, muscles are dynamic and are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. To gain muscle, the body must be synthesizing more muscle protein than it is breaking down. In other words, there needs to be a net positive protein balance (often called nitrogen balance, because protein is high in nitrogen) in the body. For this reason, people who want a lot of muscle will need to eat a greater amount of protein (and lift heavy things, of course!!!).

It is well documented that a higher protein intake helps build muscle and strength. Also, people who want to hold on to muscle that they’ve already built may need to increase their protein intake when losing body fat, because a high protein intake can help prevent the muscle loss that usually occurs with dieting. When it comes to muscle mass, the studies are usually not looking at percentage of calories, but daily grams of protein per unit of body weight (kilograms or pounds). A common recommendation for gaining muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg. Numerous studies have tried to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle gain and many of them have reached different conclusions.

Some studies show that over 0.8 grams per pound has no benefit, while others show that intakes slightly higher than 1 gram of protein per pound is best. Although it is hard to give exact figures because of conflicting results in studies, 0.7-1 grams (give or take) per pound of body weight seems to be a reasonable estimate. If you’re carrying a lot of body fat, then it is a good idea to use either your lean mass or your goal weight, instead of total body weight, because it’s mostly your lean mass that determines the amount of protein you need.

BOTTOM LINEIt is important to eat enough protein if you want to gain and/or maintain muscle. Most studies suggest that 0.7 – 1 grams per pound of lean mass (1.5 – 2.2 grams per kg) is sufficient.

Other Circumstances That Can Increase Protein Needs

Disregarding muscle mass and physique goals, people who are physically active do need more protein than people who are sedentary. If you have a physically demanding job, you walk a lot, run, swim or do any sort of exercise, then you need more protein. Endurance athletes also need quite a bit of protein, about 0.5 – 0.65 grams per pound, or 1.2 – 1.4 grams per kg.

Elderly people also need significantly more protein, up to 50% higher than the DRI, or about 0.45 to 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight. This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia (reduction in muscle mass), both significant problems in the elderly. People who are recovering from injuries may also need more protein.

BOTTOM LINEProtein requirements are significantly increased in people who are physically active, as well as in elderly individuals and those who are recovering from injuries.

Does Protein Have any Negative Health Effects?

Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems. It has been said that a high protein diet can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis. However, none of this is supported by science.

Although protein restriction is helpful for people with pre-existing kidney problems, protein has never been shown to cause kidney damage in healthy people. In fact, a higher protein intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and help fight diabetes, which are two of the main risk factors for kidney disease. If protein really does have some detrimental effect on kidney function (which has never been proven), it is outweighed by the positive effects on these risk factors.

Protein has also been blamed for osteoporosis, which is strange because the studies actually show that protein can help prevent osteoporosis. Overall, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to stay healthy.

BOTTOM LINE: Protein does not have any negative effects on kidney function in healthy people and studies show that it leads to improved bone health.

How to Get Enough Protein in Your Diet

The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs and dairy products. They have all the essential amino acids that your body needs. Plant protein options include quinoa, legumes and nuts.

All of this being said, there really is not a need for most people to actually track their protein intake. If you’re just a healthy person trying to stay healthy, then simply eating quality protein with most of your meals (along with nutritious plant foods) should bring your intake into an optimal range.

What “Grams of Protein” Really Means

This is a very common misunderstanding. Grams of protein indicate the grams of the macronutrient protein, not grams of a protein containing food, such as meat or eggs. For example, an 8 ounce serving of beef weighs 226 grams, but it only contains 61 grams of actual protein. A large egg weighs 46 grams, but it only contains 6 grams of protein.

What About The Average Person?

If you’re at a healthy weight, you do not lift weights and you do not exercise much, then aiming for 0.36 to 0.6 grams per pound (or 0.8 to 1.3 gram per kg) is a reasonable estimate.

This amounts to:

  • 56-91 grams per day for the average male.
  • 46-75 grams per day for the average female.

Educate yourself on the current research regarding protein intake and your lifestyle! Are you eating enough? Or do you need less? Or do you need more? Be good to your body!

Adapted from:  Kris Gunnars, BSc Authority Nutrition 

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Make a move! Take the stairs, park a few blocks away or anything else you can do to take extra steps to get where you need to go.

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New research on probiotics in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer

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In an innovative approach to colorectal cancer (CRC) prevention and treatment, scientists are studying ways to replace missing metabolites in patients prone to gut inflammation and CRC. A new study in The American Journal of Pathology describes how administration of histamine-producing gut microbes to mice lacking the enzyme histidine decarboxylase (HDC) reduced inflammation and tumor formation. These results suggest that alteration of the gut microbiome with probiotics may become a new preventative or therapeutic strategy for patients at risk for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-associated CRC.

“We are on the cusp of harnessing advances in microbiome science to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of human disease,” explained James Versalovic, MD, PhD, pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Milton J. Finegold Professor of pathology & immunology at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston). “By simply introducing microbes that provide missing life substances, we can reduce the risk of cancer and supplement diet-based cancer prevention strategies.” Researchers conducted a series of experiments using mice that were deficient in HDC, the enzyme required to convert histidine to histamine. Experimental mice were orally administered the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri 6475, which is known to possess the histidine decarboxylase gene (hdc+) and is able to convert histidine to histamine; control animals received a placebo. The probiotic was administered both before and after the mice received a single dose of a colonic carcinogen (azoxymethane) plus an inflammation-inducing chemical (DSS) to induce tumor formation. Fifteen weeks later, the mice were sacrificed and the tissues removed for study.

The probiotic increased expression of bacterial HDC and amounts of histamine in the colons of the mice. Using positron emission tomography (PET) to visualize the tumors, control-treated mice showed evidence of tumors and increased glucose uptake in colon walls. In contrast, mice administered the probiotic had fewer and smaller tumors and significantly diminished areas of glucose uptake.

Inactive L. reuteri strains (those deficient in HDC activity) did not provide protective effects. These mice showed increased numbers of “hot spots” indicative of tumor formation and increased abdominal glucose uptake. However, the active probiotic reduced inflammation induced by the carcinogen plus DSS, as indicated by suppressed pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression (i.e., those encoding KC, interleukin (IL)-22, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and IL-1?) and reduced cytokine concentrations in plasma (i.e., KC, IL-22, and IL-6). The active probiotic also counteracted an increase in immature myeloid cells induced by the carcinogen. According to Dr. Versalovic, “These observations are consistent with the conclusion that histamine-generating probiotic L. reuteri may attenuate AOM+DSS-induced colon carcinogenesis, at least in part, via enhanced maturation of circulating myeloid cells and concomitant reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines.”

The role of histamine in human cancer is still unclear. However, when investigators analyzed data obtained from 2,113 CRC patient samples taken from 15 datasets, results showed better survival in patients with elevated patterns of HDC and histamine receptor gene expression. These findings indicate that histamine-generating probiotics, in the presence of sufficient protein (L-histidine) intake, may improve outcomes for patients with sporadic and IBD-associated CRC.

“Our results suggest a significant role for histamine in the suppression of chronic intestinal inflammation and colorectal tumorigenesis. We have also shown that cells, both microbial and mammalian, can share metabolites or chemical compounds that together promote human health and prevent disease,” said Dr. Versalovic.

 

Adapted from: Elsevier:  (2017, September 13). New research on probiotics in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer: Histamine-producing probiotic reduces inflammation and suppresses colon tumors in mice by supplying missing enzyme, according to report. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170913084437.htm

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Cut portions! If you think leaving just a little something on your plate won’t matter, think again. It will. Small amounts of uneaten food add up to calories that stay on the plate, not on you.

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Your stools reveal whether you can lose weight

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Something as simple as a feces sample reveals whether you can lose weight by following dietary recommendations characterized by a high content of fruit, vegetables, fibers and whole grains. This is a finding of a new study conducted at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The bacteria we all have in our gut may play a decisive role in personalized nutrition and the development of obesity. This is shown by several studies that have delved into the significance of these bacteria.

“Human intestinal bacteria have been linked to the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity, and scientists have started to investigate whether the intestinal bacteria can play a role in the treatment of overweight. But it is only now that we have a breakthrough demonstrating that certain bacterial species play a decisive role in weight regulation and weight loss” says Professor Arne Astrup, Head of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The ratio between the two groups of intestinal bacteria is crucial

A relationship between two groups of intestinal bacteria is decisive for whether overweight people lose weight on a diet that follows the Danish national dietary recommendations and contains a lot of fruit, vegetables, fiber and whole grains. In the study 31 subjects ate the New Nordic Diet for 26 weeks and lost an average of 3.5 kg, whereas the 23 subjects eating an Average Danish Diet lost an average of 1.7 kg. Therefore, weight loss was on average 1.8 kilos greater in the subjects on the New Nordic Diet.

High proportion of Prevotella bacteria lead to weight loss

When the subjects were divided by their level of intestinal bacteria, it was found that people with a high proportion of Prevotellabacteria in relation to Bacteroides bacteria lost 3.5 kg more in 26 weeks when they ate a diet composed by the New Nordic Diet principles compared to those consuming an Average Danish Diet. Subjects with a low proportion of Prevotella bacteria in relation to Bacteroides did not lose any additional weight on the New Nordic Diet. Overall, approximately 50 percent of the population has a high proportion of Prevotella-bacteria in relation to Bacteroides-bacteria.

“The study shows that only about half of the population will lose weight if they eat in accordance with the Danish national dietary recommendations and eat more fruit, vegetables, fibers and whole grains. The other half of the population doesn’t seem to gain any benefit in weight from this change of diet,” says Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen. He continues: “These people should focus on other diet and physical activity recommendations until a strategy that works especially well for them is identified.”

The researchers emphasize that they have already confirmed the results in two independent studies, so they are certain that these results are credible.

Personalized weight loss guidance

The results show that biomarkers, such as faecal samples, blood samples, or other samples from our body, which says something about our state of health, should play a far greater role in nutritional guidance. Simply because biomarkers allow us to adapt the guidance to the individual. “This is a major step forward in personalized nutritional guidance. Guidance based on this knowledge of intestinal bacteria will most likely be more effective than the “one size fits all” approach that often characterises dietary recommendations and dietary guidance,” says Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth.

Adapted from: Faculty of Science – University of Copenhagen. (2017, September 12). Your stools reveal whether you can lose weight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 11, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170912093122.htm

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Quality Over Quantity! Try not to worry so much about calories or fat, rather focus on eating whole foods that are prepared simply.

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What Is High-Protein Bread—and Should You Try It?

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You may have seen pics of high-protein breads (or bagels, waffles, or tortillas) popping up on Instagram lately. High-protein baked goods are really taking off, as the popularity of protein-packed everything (from snack chips to coffee creamer!) reaches a fever pitch. But what is high-protein bread exactly, and should you be adding it to your shopping cart? Here are a few things to know before you try a loaf. This was a new finding to me!

Different brands use different sources of protein

Some high-protein breads include the same ingredients typically found in protein powders, such as isolated whey protein, pea protein, soy protein, or egg white protein. Other brands use wheat protein, or vital wheat gluten; while others use ground nuts or pulses, such as almond flour or chickpea flour.

You should always check the ingredients

Because there’s no standard formula for high-protein bread, it’s important to scan the packaging for things you may want to avoid. For example, those with inflammatory conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, chronic sinusitis, and IBS should avoid gluten, as well as dairy and soy. Those allergic to nuts or eggs should also steer clear of these products. In general, skipping packaged products made with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or “mystery” additives (any ingredients you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce) is the smart and healthy choice!

High-protein may or may not mean low-carb

It depends on the bread’s other ingredients. For example, one product on the shelves have a whopping 14 grams of protein. However, the first ingredient is whole wheat flour, and each slice packs 12 grams of carbohydrate (which is nearly the same amount in white bread!) and 2 grams of fiber. Thanks to all the added protein (from added whey and wheat proteins), the bread is higher in calories than traditional whole grain bread, with 50 more calories per slice.

Meanwhile a high-protein bagel on the shelves contain 14 grams of protein, packed with 16 grams of carbohydrate, but 14 of those grams come from fiber (meaning a net of 2 grams of carb). That’s much different from a regular bagel, which may contain more than 50 grams of carb, just a few grams as fiber, and about 9 grams of protein.

How you eat your bread matters

If you enjoy toast with salmon or an egg on top, for example, or you eat it with Greek yogurt, do you really need your bread to pack an extra 14 grams of protein per slice? Probably not. Remember, simply adding protein to a food doesn’t make it healthy (much like removing fat from foods didn’t make them good for us, and actually contributed to the obesity epidemic), and keep in mind that it is possible to get too much protein. Excess protein can either prevent weight loss or even lead to weight gain.

The bottom line

The wide variation in ingredients and macronutrient content makes it tricky to say whether high-protein bread is worth buying. If you’re trying to eat more protein and curb excess carbs, I recommend focusing on whole foods first. Protein needs should easily be met by consuming foods, such as eggs, seafood, meat, Greek yogurt, and pulses.

If you’re vegan, or your protein sources are limited for some reason (maybe due to allergies or food preferences), a protein-packed bread may help you fill the gap. However, again, be sure to check the ingredients, and choose products that are clean and natural. If you’re Paleo or gluten-free, some of the high-protein bread products aren’t for you. Take the high-protein, high-fiber bagel described above: It’s low in absorbable carbs, but contains wheat (a no-no for both diets).

If you’re a clean eater, you want to avoid any type of bread that’s highly processed, whether it’s high-protein or not. Instead, stick with whole food options, such as sweet potato toast, or homemade cauliflower “buns.” As long as you’re not grain-free, there are plenty of regular breads made simply with whole grain flour (including gluten-free options), yeast, honey, water, and salt.

Finally, if you’re a competitive or professional athlete with protein needs that are higher than the average person, high-protein bread might be something to consider. This is also an option for athletes who get tired of protein shakes and bars, and can only eat so many eggs or chicken breasts. Just remember quality is king, and strategy is important. Eating protein-rich bread without regard to how the bread was made, or the overall balance of one’s diet isn’t smart nutrition. Protein may be trendy right now, but it isn’t the only answer for your health, fitness, or weight loss goals. So look beyond labels, marketing claims, and Insta trends before you spend your money or your macros on high-protein bread (or any other buzzy food).

Adapted from: Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Punch Up Your Fiber! Fiber has a ton of health benefits but for weight loss, it keeps us FULL! Instead of a ‘ho-hum’ granola bar, boring cereal flakes, or random whole grain products, look for ones that pack the punch of fiber. Goal: pick ones with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving…..and don’t forget the water bottle.

Daily Inspiration 

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Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body mass index

Weight gain and obesity has been described as an epidemic and a complex problem in the United States. Previous research has linked poor diet to weight gain and high body fat, and eating later in the day has also been described as a risk factor for weight gain; however, the impact of an individual’s body clock, independent of the time of day of food consumption, has not been explored.

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In a recent study published online in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) on September 6, 2017, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) investigators examined the relationships between body fat and body mass index, and the timing of food consumption, to time of day and to the body’s circadian or body clock. This is the first time that the timing of meals have been studied in real world settings, in relation to melatonin onset, which marks the onset of sleep. “We found that the timing of food intake relative to melatonin onset, a marker of a person’s biological night, is associated with higher percent body fat and BMI, and not associated with the time of day, amount or composition of food intake,” stated lead author Andrew W. McHill, PhD, researcher with the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at BWH. “These findings suggest that the timing of when you consume calories, relative to your own biological timing may be more important for health than the actual time of day.”

Researchers analyzed data collected from 110 college-age participants enrolled in a 30-day observational study to document sleep times and daily meal intake. A mobile phone app was used to time-stamp, document and record the participants’ food intake over seven consecutive days of their regular routines. For one night during the 30-day study, participants were studied at the BWH Center for Clinical Investigation to assess the timing of their melatonin onset, marking onset of sleep, and their body composition.

Researchers found that individuals with high body fat percentages consumed most of their calories shortly before going to sleep when melatonin levels were high, compared to individuals with lower percentages of body fat. Researchers note that they were unable to detect a relationship between the clock hour of food intake, caloric amount, meal composition, activity/exercise level, or sleep duration, and either of these body composition measures. The researchers acknowledged several limitations that need to be considered for future work, including the fact that the population of college-aged individuals may not be representative of the entire population in terms of food choice and circadian or body clock rhythm.

Researchers concluded that these results provide evidence that the consumption of food during the circadian evening/night, independent of more traditional risk factors such as amount or content of food intake and activity level, plays an important role in body composition.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (2017, September 8). Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body mass index. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 8, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170908205421.htm

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Get to know Your Body! Meal plans and calorie trackers are great learning tools; however, a healthy relationship with food is the best tool in your tool box. Start by using your body’s physiological responses to learn what is helping or hurting you (hunger, stress level, energy levels, digestion, etc.). Assess your sleep, daily routines, and environment and how it affects your eating. Stop and ask yourself, ‘why am I eating this?

Daily Inspiration 

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