The Forever Diet [REPLAY]

September 2, 2023

From the research and our experience in clinic, we know a highly restrictive diet is not a long-term weight management plan. In today’s show, we’ll be discussing why those diets haven’t worked in the past and how there IS a way of eating that is a sustainable way of life and not a temporary solution. The bonus to this approach is that you can still lose weight while feeling satisfied and not deprived – it’s what we call “The Forever Diet”. Tune in to learn more about some popular nutrition trends as we give you some questions to ask yourself to gauge what works for you and your individual biochemistry.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. Listeners, let me ask you to think about something this morning. Over recent years, what comes to mind when you think about the latest diet and weight loss trends? Have you thought about them? Are there new diets that you've tried yourself over the last few years and have maybe been really successful at at first, and they just weren't sustainable for you in the long term to keep your weight loss off?

Well, think about throughout your life, if you've been on a weight loss journey, what diets have you tried that haven't worked long term? Okay. Now that I got you thinking early this morning, stay tuned because today we'll be discussing why those diets haven't worked in the past. There's a way of eating that is a sustainable way of life and not a temporary solution. The bonus is that you can still lose weight while feeling satisfied. It's a thing. And not feeling deprived. That's a thing. It's what we call “The Forever Diet”.

So our hope today is to change your way of thinking about the word, “diet”. I'm Melanie Beasley. I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. I've had a of nutrition experience over the past 35 years. A good amount of my clients have come to me asking about weight loss, of course, and they wanted to know what the best weight loss plan was. And more and more, I would say, are interested in a weight loss plan that is going to benefit their health.

Temporary weight loss diets have negative health effects

And I know from the research that temporary weight loss diets can lead to a slower metabolism and often binge eating. Let's face it. A person cannot sustain an overly restricted diet for a very long period of time. We get that deprivation brain. Maybe you can do it for a few weeks or a few months, but because our body is so intelligent, it doesn't allow us to continue this way. So eventually we fall off the diet and then usually we'll start binging and overeating because we have missed these foods. This is because our bodies sense starvation and are longing for nutrients.

A highly restrictive diet is just not a long-term weight management solution. It just isn't. Joining us this morning to join this discussion is Kara Carper. Kara, you also have many years of experience as a nutritionist working with a variety of clients like me. What have you found to be true about this long-term weight loss management?

KARA: Yeah. Well, first of all, good morning listeners. Like Mel said, I'm Kara Carper. I'm a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist, and I'm really, really honored to be here today to be talking about this important topic. I remember in the eighties and nineties; do you remember this; when the advice was to eat no fat or low fat?

MELANIE: Oh, yeah. I used to teach that advice. I apologize to any client I had out there.

KARA: That was the message at the time.

MELANIE: That was what the science seemed to support.

KARA: Mm-Hmm; at the time, it was counting calories, restricting calories, all for the purpose of weight loss. You know, after the…

MELANIE: We were a hungry nation at that time.

KARA: Oh, we, we sure were. And we'll talk more about why that hasn't worked.


KARA: After low fat, no fat, I remember the Atkins coming into fruition. And that's basically a high protein, mostly protein food plan. In fact, I have kind of a funny, not funny story about the Atkins diet. It was in my thirties and I just decided to jump on the Atkins bandwagon.

MELANIE: Which is different than the Atkins diet now. They've changed.

KARA: Yes. And, and even specific diets have changed over the years.

MELANIE: Yeah. Oh, go ahead. I'm sorry.

KARA: No, no problem. I just, I have had a lot of friends doing it and I thought, well I check this out. I didn't even know what I was getting into or if it was right for my individual biochemistry or… was very active, you know, athletically at the time. Well, Mel, I lasted one day on the Atkins diet.

MELANIE: Was, did it used to be high protein, low fat?

KARA: Yeah. It was essentially just you know, eggs, steak, chicken. I don't recall eating any vegetables or any healthy fats that day; the one day that I did it.

MELANIE: Wow. Yeah.

KARA: But what I do remember is the end of the day comes around. I met my mom at a restaurant and I ordered just a piece of steak. I was so weak, so lightheaded that I remember lying down in the booth at the restaurant.

MELANIE: Oh, Kara.

KARA: And my mom had to drive me home and we had to leave my car there. So, I mean, the bottom line is it, that did not work for me even for one day. I have very sensitive blood sugars and I don't think I put the connection together that being an avid exerciser and just sustaining on protein with very little healthy fat or veggie carbs, that just was not right for me. So, but Mel, in general, you know, we are proponents of eating protein, of course for moods, energy and metabolism. But that trend just didn't work for my body.

MELANIE: Well, I mean, eating a lot of protein is great, but we're designed to eat plants too.

KARA: Exactly. We got to balance it out.

MELANIE: We have to balance it out. I remember doing something similar to that and I was eating, it was, again, it was one of the trending diets back then and I was eating a ton of protein and it was low fat, and so there was no fruit. And I remember seeing and smelling an orange, and I never craved an orange so much in my life.

KARA: Oh, again, our bodies are so smart. They're giving us messages.


Sustainable & practical solution for weight maintenance

KARA: Hey, you're missing something. Right? So I guess to answer, circle back to your question about long-term weight loss and weight maintenance, both my personal and professional experience have been the same. The most sustainable and practical solution for folks wanting to lose weight is to focus on eating real, whole unprocessed foods several times per day. You know, it's easy to want to know what's the magic diet? What's the magic pill for quick weight loss? It may not sound as exciting to prepare and eat real whole foods day in and day out.

MELANIE: But it doesn't sound magical.

KARA: It doesn't sound magical.

MELANIE: But it is magical.

KARA: It definitely is the magic solution. And I recall a colleague saying to me years ago, “To get the best results in any area of your life, it's the small baby steps.”

MELANIE: I love that.

KARA: …that feel kind of boring every day. And those result in the biggest changes.

MELANIE: Yes. Because anything eventually, if you've done it long enough, is going to become boring. So you feel like really excited and hopeful when you start one of these diets because you're like, okay, this is going to be the trick, the magic wand that's going to work for me. But eventually it becomes tedious like anything else. We've got solutions.

KARA: We sure do.

MELANIE: You know, that's going to help.

KARA: Yeah. So stay tuned.

MELANIE: Yes. And really getting back to basics like a good night's sleep, drinking enough water, going for a walk outside, eating several balanced meals and snacks each day of real food can make a world of difference. It's no magic pill, no quick fix. But this is a blueprint for a long-term health and weight loss. And that's what we want. We want to get about the business of life, not always thinking about what we're eating. Right?

KARA: Exactly. Yeah.

MELANIE: So many messages have left us so confused. The messages are everywhere. You can, any social media platform you can find diet information. And after the low-fat, low-calorie trend, there was the high protein trend and then it switched to high fat, low carb trend. By the time we see clients, they're so confused and their heads are spinning.

KARA: I know.

MELANIE: And they're like, can you just help me?

KARA: It's so bad.

MELANIE: Figure it out.

KARA: It's kind of..

MELANIE: It's, it's a joy to help someone say it's really simple.

KARA: Yes. It, it can be simple. It doesn't have to be complicated. We just hear everything of, you know about these diets. I've heard that there are still popular weight loss plans that are offering packages to buy bars and shakes and you know, have people consume under 15 or even 1200 calories per day for quick weight loss. So that is definitely not a sustainable way to live your life.

MELANIE: Eventually you're going to have a holiday. You're going to eat out. You're going to be, yeah. You can't be counting calories all the time. That it just doesn't work. So over the years I've had clients come to me asking about Whole 30, Paleo, Carnivore, HCG, The Zone, plant-based and the master cleanse. And more and more and more; not saying any of these are bad, but there's, there's always a trend happening and goodness, it's no wonder that people are confused and don't know where to start or what to do. Let's get into some of the recent trending diet advice. Have any of you listeners heard of the term, intermittent fasting?

What is intermittent fasting & is it an effective approach?

So we are going to talk about that.

KARA: Yeah.


KARA: So intermittent fasting could be interpreted a few different ways. I mean, technically we all fast every day between our last meal of the day and our first meal of the next day.

MELANIE: We are fasting.

KARA: We are. Right. That's where the, the word breakfast came from. You're breaking your overnight fast. Typically when people are following intermittent fasting, they're eating in a smaller window than they usually would. So I'll just give some examples. That might look like eating within an eight hour window and then not eating for the remaining 16 hours. Maybe you've heard of the term 16/8 and that just stands for 16 hours of not eating or fasting and an eight hour window of eating. But some people, you know, they take it a little more extreme and they do it. They, some people think more fasting is better, and they shorten that interval and maybe they're eating for six hours and 18 hours of fasting.

MELANIE: So it's, it's important, and I want to revisit this when we come back from break, because it's important that there is a place for this, but it may not be the best place for an individual. And you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. This morning we are sharing with you what we call our “Forever Diet”, a way of eating so that you'll never have to diet again. Stay tuned.


KARA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Our discussion topic today is “The Forever Diet”. It's a term that we use to explain what to eat as a way of living in contrast with a lot of common weight loss diets that just are not sustainable long term. So let's skip back into our topic and Mel was going to say a little bit more about, we had introduced the idea of intermittent fasting, and we'll kind of go over some of the pros and cons.

MELANIE: So I really think there is a pro there. You know, if we've got people that are grazing and snacking at night, it, it's very difficult to lose weight if it's not a structured, you know, small snack. I'm talking about you're done with dinner and then the box of crackers comes out and the wine and the cheese and you know, that's a problem. So when we say let's draw the line in the sand here, the window of time is that we're talking about is enough to get the nourishment that you need in.

Now if you're, if you're down to four hours or six hours, it is really, really hard to get the amount of protein and nourishment and antioxidants and bi flavonoids and all of the nutrients that we need in that small window of time that your body needs to perform appropriately. And that's where the danger comes in because it becomes starvation, not fasting.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: And so, and it's also very difficult to get everything in one meal in this enormous meal because your body can't absorb that amount of protein in one sitting.

KARA: So you're talking about, when folks take it a little further, they're not doing the 16/8, but maybe they're fasting for 20 hours, and their eating windows in four hours.


KARA: And that becomes so short that it's very challenging to get what our bodies need in that short timeframe.

MELANIE: Yeah. And then just to live a social life, you know, that be that that's a difficult way, and it can work for a period of time because it's literally a form of cutting back calories. So of course you're going to lose weight. But is it sustainable?

KARA: Yeah. And is it healthy for the biochemistry?

MELANIE: Of our body; because our body works all day long. So, you know, I understand some key points behind it. I'm okay with someone, you know, trying it on to see if it works for them, but generally it doesn't work long term, and I never would say shorter than an eight hour window.

KARA: Yeah.

What is the ketogenic diet & when is it recommended?

MELANIE: It just doesn't, it doesn't play out well for the, the body's biochemistry like you were saying. And then there's another diet trend my clients ask me about all the time. We've all heard it. It's the ketogenic diet, commonly called keto. And this is, this diet is just extremely low carb, high fat. It was created by a therapeutic diet. It, that's what it was for, is a therapeutic diet to be used for certain neurological conditions like epilepsy, Parkinson's, even Alzheimer's disease. And it can dramatically improve the lives of people suffering from those certain conditions.

Is keto recommended for weight loss?

So it does have a place therapeutically, but many of my clients ask about going keto for weight loss because they've heard in the media or from a friend who lost weight very quickly following a keto diet. And so I've asked my clients a lot of questions to determine whether or not keto would be a good fit for them because the last thing I want to have happen is to lose weight quickly and then gain it all back plus gain an additional amount of pounds.

When we lose weight very, very quickly, we have to be careful because when the body fat breaks down, it does release toxins. So you have to look at what's going on with their health because if they're dumping all these toxins in their body from their body fat, it can actually make them sicker. So it's very restrictive. It's challenging to maintain. So, like I said, I ask a lot of questions and we think about it together before diving into that way of eating.

KARA: I mean, I think that's so important is just really figuring out the individual needs of your clients. So that's great that you ask all those questions. Even though we are partial to our Nutritional Weight and Wellness whole foods, real food, unprocessed eating plan, we do get a lot of questions about, people want more information on intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet. So we'll just spend a little bit more time explaining what they are. I'm sure there are folks who are not familiar with those.

MELANIE: And I think it, there's a place, you know, there's a place for these.

KARA: Yeah. We'll talk about when there could be a time and a place for either of those.

Conditions the ketogenic diet may be helpful for

MELANIE: 100%. And just like any eating plan, it's never a one size fits all. I mentioned that the ketogenic diet has been successfully used in the medical field for years, according to the Cleveland Clinic, has been used to reduce seizures since the 1920s. It's also used therapeutically for other brain conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, autism, and some folks with type two diabetes can benefit from the keto diet if it's implemented carefully and ideally with a nutritionist or other medical professional monitoring the results so that they don't become nutrient deficient.

How does the ketogenic diet work?

KARA: Correct. Yeah. The ketogenic diet, you know, it's a way of eating. You had mentioned this, it's, it's mostly fat, high fat, very low carbohydrate, and moderate protein. The reason that some people do notice improvement, whether it's improvement with their brain in the case of epilepsy or Alzheimer's, or maybe they do notice weight loss because what's going on inside the body is that the ketogenic diet resets how the body uses and breaks down food.

MELANIE: Usually Kara, our bodies are running on energy that is being fueled by carbohydrates. And since those are easier to break down to use as energy, that's generally what we're doing.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. The keto plan says, I mean, it is really low though. It says keep the carbohydrates at 20 grams in the beginning and then eventually you can go up to 50 grams per day. So it's that low carb eating, it forces the body to start getting energy by breaking down body fat since the carbs are not available as the preferred energy source.

MELANIE: Yeah. They call that they're becoming fat adaptive instead of carb adaptive. So it’s beneficial. Right?

KARA: Exactly.

MELANIE: This is what we want. We want to burn fat.

KARA: A typical keto plan has 70 to 80% of calories coming from fat, 20% coming from protein, and about five to 10 coming from carbohydrates.

MELANIE: And of course the name ketogenic explains the diet because the body starts converting fat for energy instead of carbs. And ketones are produced from that fat breakdown. And the body goes into a state called ketosis. Some people can test themselves. Right? You can get urine or saliva strips, I think, through Amazon even to check if they are in ketosis or not.

KARA: Yeah. They're really easy to get these days. And, you know, there's no doubt that someone with a neurological condition could benefit from this type of eating plan. And like you said, if it's done cleanly and correctly. We'll talk more about what we mean by cleanly. It can reduce inflammation in the body and the brain. And you know, as dietitians and nutritionists, we know that a high carb, especially processed carb, high sugar way of eating, create more inflammation. So we're proponents of being on the lower end of carbohydrates just to reduce that inflammation.

MELANIE: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's important to say. And the Cleveland Clinic also says that the reason seizures are regulated on a keto diet is not, it's really not well understood. But, you know, when you think about that low inflammation piece, that has got to have something to do with it, but the low sugar component and the high fat component alter the excitability of the brain and reduce the tendency for a seizure to happen. So it can be really beneficial.

Is following the keto diet safe long-term?

Dr. Sarah Gottfried, who is a medical doctor and wrote the book, Brain Body Diet, she makes an interesting point about keto, that there are no long-term studies on people who have followed this type of eating plan because it's so new and the jury is still out on the long-term effects of eating extremely low carb and high fat. I personally in clinic have seen hair loss.

KARA: You had mentioned that when we were talking prior to the show.

MELANIE: Not everyone. But I have some that have lost hair, but they, it's so difficult for them to give up that what seems to be working for their weight loss. But she doesn't suggest keto for more than a month without doing some monitoring of blood sugar and also, you know, paying attention to the body symptoms along the way.

KARA: Yeah. So again, it's, it's getting back to the importance of asking clients and listeners those questions. So, have any of you listening tried the keto diet? How did you feel? How long did you stay on it? Did you feel good? Or did it seem hard and restrictive? These are all really important things to be thinking about because it's not a one size fits all plan when it comes to selecting an eating plan that's right for you.

MELANIE: You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. For those listening live this morning and maybe have been tuning in live for years, we want to thank you. Did you know that we also offer our radio shows via podcast so you can listen anytime? We also started a midweek mini episode to our podcast called “Ask a Nutritionist” that comes out every Thursday. These have been very popular because they're just mini episodes discussing a specific topic that has been requested by you, our listeners. To find our “Ask a Nutritionist” podcast episode, search for Dishing Up Nutrition. Wherever you find your podcast. We'll be right back.

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KARA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Before break, Melanie mentioned that we have something sort of new called “Ask a Nutritionist” mini episode. It's a series on our Dishing up Nutrition podcast. We get inspiration for each topic directly from you. So if you would like to request a topic, find our private group on Facebook by searching Dishing Up Nutrition.

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All right. So Mel, before break, I mean we were, we're kind of going into pros and cons of the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting and, and what it looks like to have a lifelong sustainable plan that we call “The Forever Diet”. But I do want to get back into our conversation about the ketogenic diet and just some of the downsides that I'm sure you hear with clients and see.

So if you have tried keto, have you ever gotten so caught up in just counting grams of fat, counting your carbs, making sure they're low enough, monitoring the protein that you stopped focusing on the actual quality of your food? So here's an example: going through the Hardee's drive-through and ordering a double bacon cheeseburger with no bun would technically fall into the macronutrient range, right?


“Dirty keto” vs. “clean keto”

KARA: High fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate. You might even test yourself for ketones and find that you are in ketosis. But we have to think about the long-term health effects, you know, and not just on weight, but what about longevity and the health of our cells?

MELANIE: Yeah. And that's where the dirty keto, right? That's the dirty keto.

KARA: Yeah, that's the term.

MELANIE: It's just not a nutrient dense way to eat and which is stressful to the body. It's not getting what it needs to survive. So we want survival. We want all our systems working at go. That reminds me of that documentary, Supersize Me, when Morgan Spurlock ate fast food for 30 days and gained a ton of weight and he developed fatty liver. The producers had to stop the experiment because his health declined so quickly. Even without the carbs, it's easy to rely on poor quality proteins and fats when trying to eat keto. And that just defeats the whole point of being healthy, you know, thin and sick is, is not where we want to end up.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. We don't ever recommend compromising health in the pursuit of weight loss.

MELANIE: Yep. Yep.

KARA: And that way of eating, it's sort of a shortcut for doing the keto diet without paying attention to the quality of our foods. You know, I think it's easy to not get the vegetables, the fiber, the minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that we need that sustain our bodies. So on the flip side, if that's the dirty keto eating, a clean way of eating keto would still have the same macronutrients: that higher fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate.

But that type of clean plan would consist of healthy oils: butter, avocado, nuts, seeds, maybe some heavy organic whipping cream, other full fat dairy and coconut products. And the proteins ideally would be coming from healthy animals.


KARA: Free range chickens, pasture raised meat, wild caught fish. And we don't ever want to forget about the several cups of non-starchy vegetables; leafy greens. You call them the stinky vegetables. Right?

MELANIE: The stinky, yeah. The disease fighters, they're, they're fighting for us.

KARA: So if you're a longtime listener and you know about our Nutritional Weight and Wellness way of eating, you may hear some similarities there. The type of eating that we typically suggest, Mel, when you're meeting with clients, you know, it would focus on high quality proteins, mostly those non-starchy vegetable carbs and of course the healthy oils and fats.


KARA: So it's really the main difference between Nutritional Weight and Wellness, our forever diet and the ketogenic diet is the quantities. Right? The quantities of the carbohydrate and the fat.

MELANIE: You know, and if you get a mile high above this, and my husband always says, if you get a mile above and you look down, this is the way the food has been produced naturally. Right? There's healthy nuts, seeds, animal fats, animals, produce.

KARA: Simple.

MELANIE: Simple. It's what occurs in nature and it's what keeps the body strong and healthy.

KARA: That's why a real food plan is so appealing for most people. Once they understand that the ketogenic diet has more of a restrictive nature, as well as some other plans that we talk about that aren't sustainable. You know, it's important to have enough real food in a day to maintain a proper metabolism. And a lot of people just in a pursuit for weight loss, they're not eating enough and their bodies are in this starvation mode, which we know actually creates fat storage, which is instead of what they want to do, which of course is fat burning.

MELANIE: Yeah. Yeah. And I had a client and she had, she came to me. She'd been on keto for a while and her weight had stalled. She wasn't losing weight. She actually, the weight was creeping on. And so when I sort of started working with her about incorporating, you know, some berries or some blueberries or a little bit of sweet potato, she was ecstatic. She was terrified that she was going to gain weight. And I said, and the body kind of knows what it needs and when you start giving it what it needs, maybe your weight will pop up initially a little, but then it will, it will relax and come back down and, and sure enough, she lost an additional 20 pounds and she's thrilled that she gets to eat her blueberries.

KARA: Yeah. You know, like you said, it's just less restrictive.

MELANIE: Less restrictive. And so she can eat out with her husband now and go to brunch with a girlfriend.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: Well it's not, you know, we don't want to forget that eating real nourishing food throughout the day not only supports metabolism like it did for my client, but helps other things as well. Like, are your knees aching when you, you come up from the basement stairs? Are you forgetting where you parked your car in the target parking lot? So maybe you're not aging. It's just that you're not nourishing your brain and your body enough.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. That's so true. Real food benefits, you know, everything. It's, it's not just for weight loss It's for, like you said, for lowering inflammation and knee pain. Or it can help with brain and memory. It can benefit heart health. So was your last blood pressure reading a little high when you went to the local drugstore to check it? Well, there's so much benefit for your overall health when following a long-term sustainable plan of real whole foods, but also that doesn't feel restrictive.

Breaking down “The Forever Diet”

MELANIE: We talked about “The Forever Diet”. So let's break it down into some real practical advice for our listeners. I advise my clients to eat four to six times a day. And that looks like three meals with one to three snacks, depending upon their biochemistry and what their personal needs are. With every meal, they include four to six ounces of good quality protein, a tablespoon of healthy fat, and one to three cups of vegetables. That's just a recipe for good health.

And I had a client that came to me and she was intermittent fasting. Again, her metabolism had stalled and she was losing hair, like I mentioned previously. It was also starting to affect her hormones. So there was a lot going on there with her hormones that we had to sort of correct. And she was pretty miserable and she was terrified of gaining the weight that she'd lost back.

So we started just stretching her window a little bit and then her body began to respond. She started feeling like she could see her kids after school and she didn't have to take a nap throughout the day. She was just malnourished and she wasn't getting, she was getting a lot of fat, but it was what you were saying, it was almost like a dirty keto, intermittent fasting situation. So she was getting a lot of fat, but it wasn't good fat. And so she wasn't making the hormones from the good cholesterol and fat that she needed.

So we just sort of corrected it, brought it back to real food, started stretching her window. And as her body responded, I got her into two meals a day. She was only eating one, trying to get everything in in one sitting, which was making her sort of digestively upset after. Then she was all aboard because she felt like she got her life back and her body began to respond positively. And she was able to move her body more, be active, participate in social situations. And so it was one of those situations where it was intermittent fasting, keto gone south.

KARA: Sure.

MELANIE: And so we had to do some damage control and it took a season for her body to respond positively. But she trusted me, thank goodness. And we got her there and she's doing great.

KARA: Oh, that's, that's a wonderful story. I like how you kind of coached her into being less restrictive kind of gently and also cleaning up the quality of the foods at the same time.

MELANIE: Because if you've had great success doing something with one goal, which is weight loss, is typically, you know, why these diets were designed socially, you're terrified of gaining that back.

KARA: Sure. Of course.

MELANIE: It's, it's like the one thing I've gained ground on. But if we don't nourish the body, the body breaks down.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: So I want to talk a little bit about that some more when we get back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you can believe that next weekend is already Memorial Day weekend, we Midwesterners celebrate as not only the beginning of summer, but for us the beginning of cabin season. So if you struggle with healthy eating while at the cabin, we have some great ideas for you to stay on track and come back from the long weekend without the guilt and the discomfort from a weekend of indulging in some foods that don't do a body good. Visit our website: and search for the article, “Healthy Eating at the Cabin”.


KARA: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. At Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we don't put you on a diet. We actually don't really like that word, diet, because sometimes it has a negative connotation.

MELANIE: No one likes the word.

KARA: Short term, restriction, sacrifice. When's the end date going to be over? We look at food differently. We look at what food does for you, how it influences our natural body process, whether that's a digestive process, hormones, it could be reducing cravings, maybe improving sleep or mood; definitely reducing inflammation and pain. And don't forget, food, what we eat, especially those fats and oils can affect even our hair and nails and how well our brain is working and how we think and what our memory's like.

So I could go on and on about how food affects our body and brain. We start with food and prioritize health and how you feel. You become healthy at a cellular level and weight loss naturally follows. I'm going to say that again. Health comes first and weight loss follows. That can be a hard concept for folks.

MELANIE: It can be. And I really love the idea of my clients becoming friends with food again. Once you've been on these restrictive diets, food feels like the enemy and it just feels like your nemesis. And we can make friends with food.

KARA: Yes. Food should be fun. We should be able to enjoy it and not dread the process of following some kind of a diet for weight loss. So unfortunately, many folks are not taught about that in school, in their health class, or even at the doctor's office. Certainly not at some of these diet centers that are popping up.

MELANIE: Food is on our side. It's, it's, it's what keeps us alive. It's what keeps us sustained and what keeps us healthy and moving. It's, it's our friend.

KARA: It is. It's our friend. So Mel, you shared a great story about your client who is kind of practicing what we would call dirty keto, intermittent fasting in a really short, restrictive window. And you know, you kind of coached her on incorporating more nourishing foods for a longer period of time, cleaning up kind of the quality of the proteins and the fats. It kind of got me thinking, you know, we often see, especially with women; I'm sure this happens with men as well; but a lot of women tend to shortchange the amount of protein that they're eating.

Protein is critical for many aspects of our health

MELANIE: Oh that's, that's a real problem.

KARA: Yeah. I know you see this clinically day in, day out. Here's why it's so important. We need protein for so many things, especially for metabolism. Protein increases metabolism up to 30% for several hours every time we eat it. Protein is what's giving us energy to move our bodies. It supports brain health and function so we can make better decisions. And if you're a longtime listener, you've heard us talk about protein is the building block for amino acids and that helps produce our neurotransmitters like dopamine. If we have enough dopamine, we will not have cravings for sugar, even alcohol. So think about it, if you have adequate dopamine, is it going to be easier to maintain a real food plan? By all means, it is.

MELANIE: You know, and that protein is so key. If you're losing weight, you, you want to maintain your muscle. You don't want to end up, you know, saggy and baggy because you burn through. The body can break down muscle for fuel. And so it's really important to get enough protein that you are sparing muscles and not losing muscle.

KARA: It’s so important because a, a lot of that, often that quick weight loss is actually muscle loss, which in the long term actually can sabotage the, the efficiency of metabolism.

MELANIE: And guess what? When you gain weight back, you're not gaining muscle back. You're gaining body fat.

KARA: Yeah. Kind of backfires.

MELANIE: So that's why your metabolism slows down because muscle plays a role in how fast your metabolism is. So listeners, I challenge you this morning to weigh out your cooked protein a few, for a few meals. How are you doing? Are you getting in four to five ounces at a meal? And I guarantee you when you start doing that, you feel satiated, satisfied, happy. And like Kara you were saying, you begin making those feel good neurotransmitters in your brain. That, it’s sustainable.

Include healthy fat with each meal and snack

And then next we would recommend a serving of healthy fat with each meal and snack. And this could look like grass fed butter or eggs sauteed and some olive oil, sauteed veggies for breakfast, an olive oil dressing or an avocado in your salad. Almond butter, you know, in your protein shake. So adding that fat is going to increase the leptin in your brain. It's going to make you feel satisfied. And we were never satisfied in the eighties because we never had enough fat.

KARA: The low fat licorice.

MELANIE: We were just hungry.

KARA: That didn't cut it for me.

MELANIE: No wonder we ate the whole bag.

Eat vegetable carbohydrates with every meal

KARA: And finally, we can't forget about the importance of vegetable carbohydrates with every meal. What that's going to do, it's going to give you a variety of essential nutrients to keep you healthy and feeling your best. That could look like a few handfuls of greens: spinach, arugula, kale cooked up in an egg scramble for breakfast is, that's delicious. Maybe you have deli meat, nitrate-free deli meat wrapped around baby cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. It could be a cup of leftover veggie packed chili as a snack or maybe alongside your salmon filet for dinner, you have some roasted Brussels sprouts or grilled asparagus; sounds delicious.

MELANIE: Sounds delicious. That sounds great.

More on trending diets: concern of restriction & lack of nutrients

KARA: I want to circle back to, you know, what we've been talking about this hour, how some of these more trending diet plans with the pursuit of weight loss being the goal can be just kind of restrictive and void of nutrients and calories as well.

MELANIE: Yeah. That's the piece, that's the piece we that concerns us.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: …is when it, when you’re void. And so I just read something, an article, research article that said that we utilize our protein best in the early hours of the day. So you think about breakfast. So if you're having an egg and maybe a slice of bacon, you're really not getting very many grams of protein in there for what the body needs. And so we really want to start our day with a good dose of protein.

So what I had for breakfast to get that early morning protein in is I have two eggs. I have six little sausages that are grass fed, and then I had half a cup of berries and a handful of arugula with a little olive oil. And that, you know, that gave me a good dose of protein and that keeps me satisfied. And I'm not jonesing for something in about two hours. You know, it keeps me a good three to four hours, really satisfied. But now that I know we really need to get that protein in the early hours. Our body utilizes it the best, which is great for bone and muscle. It becomes really important.

KARA: Yeah. And so I think what it sounds like what you're saying, Mel, is if somebody wanted to try intermittent fasting, let's just say it was for improving glucose numbers, or maybe they wanted to lose a little bit of fat, instead of the trend, which seems to be getting up in the morning, maybe drinking coffee until noon or 1:00 PM.


KARA: And then folks start their eating window and then let's just say they stop it at 8:00 PM, that ends up being a really short window and again, probably a little restrictive and void of nutrients.

MELANIE: Mm-Hmm. I would encourage, you know, if you want to, I would start earlier and end earlier because our metabolism naturally begins to wind down in the evening. So that's the perfect time if you're going to have a window to maybe shut the kitchen at six.

KARA: Yeah. Just kind of flipping that whole concept around.

MELANIE: And generally you're more successful too because as, as the metabolism slows down, you're not burning through what you normally would be.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: When your body sleeps, it says, well, I don't need this fuel now. So we're just respecting the body's rhythms that way.

KARA: Right. And another thing too is I think night eating can become kind of a common thing. That is not great for weight loss, typically. It depends what the food is, but often it's the snacky food that people are craving.

MELANIE: And we have to remember gravity helps digestion.

KARA: Right.

MELANIE: So if we eat a lot in the evening and then we lay down, you're making the body work really hard and we want to give the body a break and encourage digestion in the way the body normally works and, and walking and being upright, gravity helps digestion. So we're respecting, we're respecting the body so it can not be starving, get the nutrients it needs. You are satisfied. You can live a, a life and you can be providing the body with all of the nutrients you were talking about through the real food eating.

Questions to ask yourself when considering a food plan

KARA: Mm-Hmm. And we had mentioned this earlier, but it's, there isn't anything that's a one size fits all. And so, of course, it's so important that all of you listening are just asking these questions to yourself. Whatever plan you choose to try, whether it's the forever diet, the Nutritional Weight and Wellness way of eating, which is more, you know, the three meals and maybe one to two snacks per day; protein, vegetable carbs, healthy fats. Or if you, if you want to experiment with something like intermittent fasting, ask yourself these questions. You know, how's your energy? How are your cravings?

MELANIE: What's your skin look like?

KARA: What are your moods like? It could be that you just end up on a blood sugar roller coaster and feel restricted. And so that's what we wanted to share today.

MELANIE: Yeah. Good. Really good words there, Kara; loved what you said there. Listeners, thank you for joining us this morning. Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It is a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining Kara and I today.

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