pH Level &The Low Down on Nuts & Seeds

After writing this post, I can’t get that song “It’s peanut butter jelly time” out of my head…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3pbJ2tmYMg ……oh youtube…..
Let’s just start off by stating that I can’t really eat peanuts. Peanut butter, peanuts at a baseball game, peanut sauce…nope! Have a not so good reaction. Peanuts are ‘acidic’ and they just don’t make me feel great. So when I started doing this vegan/macrobiotic challenge I was worried that I’d have issues because I know that nuts and seeds are used often in vegetarian/vegan dishes. Well, it turns out that I’m able to eat nuts and seeds that are on the ‘alkalizing’ side of the pH spectrum, and also eat in moderation (ex: small portion, 2x/week). If you eat a crapload of nuts, like when snacking at a baseball game on a bag of peanuts, it’s likely that you will feel like a load of crap. Lesson learned, certain nuts & seeds are better for you than others, always eat in moderation, think of nuts and seeds as a ‘dessert’ or ‘snack’ or ‘seasoning’.

My fave nuts and seeds are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds (which are all considered ‘alkalizing’). It’s important to sprout your nuts and seeds or lightly pan or oven roast them in order for them to be easily digested, more alkaline and become ‘alive’ so that your body can absorb the wonderful array of nutrients these little guys are packed with. Soak nuts in water overnight to sprout or roast your pumpkin seeds in a pan to ‘open’ the outer layer of the seed. Read quick tidbit below about pH level, acidity/alkalinity, and link to a chart of alkaline/acid-forming foods.

“Balanced body chemistry is of utmost importance for the maintenance of health and correction of disease. Acidosis, or over-acidity in the body tissues, is one of the basic causes of many diseases, especially the arthritic and rheumatic diseases.
All foods are “burned” in the body–more commonly called “digested”– leaving an ash as the result of the “burning”, or the digestion. This food ash can be neutral, acid or alkaline, depending largely on the mineral composition of the foods. Some foods leave an acid residue or ash, some alkaline. The acid ash (acidosis) results when there is a depletion of the alkali reserve or the diminution in the reserve supply of fixed bases in the blood and the tissues of the body.
It is, therefore, vitally important that there is a proper ratio between acid and alkaline foods in the diet. The natural ratio in a normal healthy body is approximately 4 to 1 — four parts alkaline to one part acid, or 80% to 20%. When such an ideal ratio is maintained, the body has a strong resistance against disease. In the healing of disease, when the patient usually has acidosis, the higher the ratio of alkaline elements in the diet, the faster will be the recovery. Alkalis neutralize the acids. Therefore in the treatment of most diseases it is important that the patient’s diet includes plenty of alkaline-ash foods to offset the effects of acid-forming foods and leave a safe margin of alkalinity.
A healthy body usually keeps large alkaline reserves which are used to meet the emergency demands if too many acid-producing foods are consumed. But these normal reserves can be depleted. When the alkaline-acid ratio drops to 3 to 1, health can be seriously menaced. Your body can function normally and sustain health only in the presence of adequate alkaline reserves and the proper acid-alkaline ratio in all the body tissues and the blood.
For optimum health and maximum resistance to disease, it is imperative that your diet is slightly over-alkaline. The ideal ratio, according to the world’s foremost authority on the relationship between the acid-alkaline ratio in the diet in health and disease, Dr. Ragnar Berg, is about 80% alkali-producing foods and 20% acid-producing foods.” From: http://www.alkaline-alkaline.com/ph_food_chart.html
 
Follow this Link for a chart of alkalizing and acid-forming foods: http://www.alkaline-alkaline.com/ph_food_chart.html
 

So the macrobiotic challenge is in part about ‘alkalizing your blood’. Although most grains are considered acid-forming, they are balanced by the emphasis on lots of veggies and dark leafy greens (green smoothies, veggies in every meal). Grains are also less acidic than animal protein and dairy products AND are much easily digested, have fiber to ‘clean’ your digestive tract, and so on. Grains like millet and buckwheat are actually considered on the ‘alkalizing’ side of the spectrum. Greens are most alkalizing. I must say that after having one of my green smoothies, I feel revived and energized beyond your imagination, workouts are amazing, and everything seems ‘clearer’. This is the true example of how food should be your fuel! Learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

Eat more ‘alkalizing’ foods to ‘clean up your blood’, avoid disease and feel better!

Lots of water! Avoid alcohol and flavored drinks.

Eat ‘cooling’ foods (ex: avocado) in warmer seasons and ‘warming’ foods in colder seasons.

Eat nuts/seeds in moderations.

Avoid too many acid-forming  & constricting foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs).

Eat grains & legumes in their ‘whole’ and natural state (not rolled, steel cut, processed, canned) and in moderation and correct portion sizes (1 serving grains = 1 clenched fist; 1/4C beans) and with veggies.

Next post I will talk about ‘constricting’ and ‘expanding’ properties of foods and how this affects your well-being!

To Your Health, Natty Mac

Small Plates! And I’m NOT Talking About Tapas – Key to Weight Loss & Proper Diet

Hey there RawFitnesser’s!!
Let’s talk nutrition! Oh, if I had a dollar for everytime I was asked how much protein, carbohydrates, veggies, fats should I be eating with each meal…well, I wouldn’t have many dollars! Why? People don’t ask because they think that just because they’re eating healthy foods for each of their meals, their daily consumption is right on track for the goals they want to achieve…for the most part, this can result in frustration because these people aren’t seeing the results they thought they’d see.

Don’t go out and buy some scale to weigh your food, this will likely drive you crazy…and who has time for that!!! It’s all about the macronutrient ratios in each of your meals. Macronutrient ratio? The ratio of protein to carbohydrate to fat in each meal. And I break carbohydrate into ‘starchy carb’ (whole food, unprocessed, ex. oatmeal, sweet potato) & ‘veggie carb’ (greens, salad, broccoli). Fats should be ‘healthy’, unsaturated, no trans fat, think omega-3’s!

First, start journaling everything you eat and drink throughout the day. Use an online food journal like www.fitday.com to help calculate your daily totals of calories, protein, carbs & fats. I’d love for you to journal for the rest of your life because it really helps people stay consistent with their diet, but I know this may be unreasonable to ask. So, commit to journaling for 3-4 weeks. By the end of 3-4 weeks, it will come natural. You will know how much & what to eat daily for your meals to stay within your daily caloric goals and macronutrient ratios of protein (35%-40% total daily cals.), carbs (30%-45%), and healthy fats (20%-25%). Down the road, if you feel like you’re ‘relapsing’ and getting off track with diet, start journaling again to get your butt back on track!

Second, use smaller plates!! Here in the U.S. our ‘average’ plate sizes just keep getting larger and larger, and we keep filling them up with more and more food and our daily caloric intake keeps gettin’ higher as well as those waistbands! Use smaller plates. A general rule, your protein portion should be the size of your palm (minus your fingers!), your ‘veggie carbs’ should be the size of your 2 hands cupped together, and your (un-processed, whole food) ‘starchy carb’ portions should be no more than the size of your ONE clenched fist. Protein sources should be lean & low-fat, make sure that your daily diet includes at least 20% healthy fats.

Third, as I’ve already stated…macronutrient ratio for each meal is important. Start your day off with a healthy breakfast! And yes, it should include each one of the macronutrients (protein/carbs/healthy fats). Good example 1/2 cup oatmeal, 4 egg white w/spinach omelete, fish oil supplement. Try to include your ‘starchy carbs/grains’ (like oatmeal) to your earlier meals. Your body needs the fuel from the starchy carbs to get through the day, and also this way you will burn off those carbs by dinner. Eat for what you will be doing NEXT, this applies to the macronutrients. I eat a hearty breakfast (protein:starchy carbs, ex. oats & protein powder) to fuel my morning workout…and then eat a somewhat lighter lunch (protein:veggie carbs, ex. steamed veg & egg white omelete) because I will be working at a desk for a couple hours and somewhat sedentary…my dinner is light as well (protein:veggie carbs), because…guess what? I’ll be going to sleep soon after and don’t need as much ‘fuel’. Depending upon your workout program, daily activity level and goals, your macronutrient ratio will differ from the next person. But as a general rule, heavy weight lifting programs & goals to gain lots of lean muscle? You’ll NEED protein to recover those muscles & carbs to refuel the glucogen stores you lost during your workout so you can have the stamina for the next days workout, so don’t starve yourself of these macronutrients. Trying to shed the fat & slim down? You’ll still need to lift weights because you need that lean muscle to keep your metabolism up and burn fat, but you may be doing a less intense weight lifting program & more cardio, so your need for protein and starchy carbs will be a little lower & your diet should consist of lots of ‘veggie carbs’, moderate amounts of lean proteins, and low-to-moderate healthy fats. Keep fats lower but not below 20% & make sure they’re healthy fats!

I know this is a lot of information, and you may be like…what the hell are you talking about?!?!?!? To simplify, some general rules on portions for different types of food are below. Also, contact me at nmeconi@customizedpt.com if you’d like an individualized nutritional plan & exercise plan for your specific needs & goals. For those that have that drive and motivation to stick to a plan but just need a little ‘jump start’ because they aren’t sure what their diet & exercise should be, my ‘Jump Start’ program I offer is a perfect fit for you. Inquire at nmeconi@customizedpt.com for information regarding my ‘Jump Start’ program or other personal fitness training services offered by Raw Fitness!

General Rule for a Single Portion (taken from my fav site, bodybuilding.com)

  • Cereal (1 c.) = a baseball
  • Salad Dressing (2 Tbsp.) = a shot glass
  • Nuts (1 oz.) = a cupped palm
  • Cheese (1 oz.) = a ping-pong ball
  • Lean Sirloin Hamburger (3 oz.) = a mayo jar lid
  • Peanut Butter (1 tsp.) = one die
  • Beef (3 oz.) = a bar of soap
  • Rice (1/2 c.) = an ice cream scoop
  • Potato/Sweet Potato = a computer mouse
  • Butter (1 tsp.) = a Scrabble tile
  • Fruit (1 c.) = a tennis ball
  • Cooked Pasta (1/2 c.) = a golf ball
  • Fish (3 oz.) = a checkbook
  • Chicken (3 oz.) = a deck of playing cards

As always, good luck on your endeavors! – Nat –