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Adjusting Your Macros – What’s the Right Ratio for Me?

Adjusting Your Macros – What’s the Right Ratio for Me?

It is so hard with all the different diet trends out there to know what the right diet is out there for you. Low carb, high fat? Ketogentic? High carb vegan? Everything in moderation? Then, these experts say “But, ultimately it’s what works for you” with no further information as to how to figure out what that is. AHHHHHHH!

I’ve definitely struggled with this myself. I’ve tried calorie counting with nothing off limits, high carb and running marathons, low fat, low carb and high fat, and fasting (that’s never lasted very long). None of these are for everyone, and I have come to realize that long term, none of these are for me.

In my high school and college years, I tried to calorie count. Some days, I thought eating only low fat ice cream and cheerios was okay as long as I ate under 1500 calories that day and did some sort of exercise. At the end of college and in the beginning of my working career, I started running half marathons and marathons. I was still watching my calories, but I focused on carbs because I thought that is what my body needed, and I thought because I was running I had the permission to eat whatever I wanted: pizza, hard cider, sugar cookies, and every other processed junk out there. I was carb loading for races with apple juice, crackers, and pasta. I craved sugar and didn’t feel that great all the time. I drank several cups of coffee a day to get through! Plus, my weight hit a plateau even though I was exercising more.

Then, in the winter of 2013, I had a case of acid reflux and a stomach ulcer. This made me take a long, hard look at what I was eating. When researching foods that caused acid reflux and inflammation in the gut, I realized this was the main part of my diet. At that time, I cut out fried foods, dairy, alcohol, coffee, grains, hydrogenated fats, and sugar. I realized how little focus I was putting on fruits, vegetables, and just real food in general. By cutting out those foods, I quickly lost 5 lbs. Once my stomach healed, I added some of those foods back but definitely more in moderation.

Then, my husband and I decided to have a baby. I researched the best foods for fertility and pregnancy. The researched showed eating lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like avocados, and good quality protein like salmon. I also started eating eggs for breakfast every day. Over my pregnancy, I moved from eating at egg sandwich to an egg wrap with a sprouted tortilla to an eggs with avocado and sauteed greens. I was feeling great in the morning. My lunches started to include salads, and my snacks were fruit, nuts, seeds, and whole fat yogurt. I had a great pregnancy and labor, and I only gained 20 lbs, while being able to run until 36 weeks pregnant.

After my son was born, I played around with a low carb, high fat diet. This worked well for a short period of time for me as a therapeutic intervention. I think I needed to do this to help cleanse my body of inflammation and some insulin resistance from previously being on a processed, high carb diet. Plus, breastfeeding and pregnancy had caused a fatty acid deficiency. I was eating a half batch of “Get Some Ice Cream”, feeling rushes of energy afterward, and losing weight. Then, after a few months, I started to get more tired and gain weight. I was confused since I wasn’t eating more or less “clean”, running more, and still breastfeeding. It took awhile to realize that my body just didn’t need that much fat anymore since I had become such a high fat advocate, and I realized I needed more carbs especially as a woman, who breastfeeds, runs, is a tired mom, and was looking to have another child and needed my cycle to come back.

So, at 13 months postpartum, I made adjustments again. I decreased my fat slightly and started to really be mindful of how many servings of fat I was having a day. Since I no longer had a fatty acid deficiency, I didn’t need as much fat. I looked to Jonathan Bailor’s SANE approach of 3-6 servings of whole food fats a day. I started to look at how many I was having and realized I was knocking out most of those just through breakfast by having avocado, Bulletproof coffee, and cooking in butter. I thought it was eye opening that Jonathan notes that you should have 30 g of protein in the morning, and percentage-wise whole eggs fall more in the category of whole food fats as opposed to quality protein. This made sense since I always seemed to feel hungry if I didn’t have some salmon or bacon with breakfast. Protein is especially critical in the morning for women. Plus, many days I was using some combination of the following: Primal Kitchen mayo, Bulletproof collagen bar, nuts or nut flours, cocoa, fatty treats like Get Some Ice Cream, cooking with coconut oil or butter throughout the day, and coconut meat. I realized I needed to be much more mindful of my fat intake and give my body more of the other things it needed like carbs and protein.

Along with my diet, I wanted to address my cortisol since I suspected it was higher than I would like, and being a busy mom, wife, runner, and breastfeeder, I had adrenal fatigue. I started to increase my carbs again by having fruit and a serving of whole food starch with dinner like white potato, sweet potato, or plantain. I still wasn’t eating processed carbs though. So, my diet was still real food based. Most of what I eat is not in a box, needs to be refrigerated, and doesn’t have a label. I also switched my cup of coffee in the morning to a cup of swiss water processed organic decaf with only a splash of milk or cream. I also started taking a whole food fruit powder, Camu Camu, for Vitamin C. Finally, I incorporated liver into my regular diet, making a liver and beef meatloaf, for B vitamins and Vitamin C along with continuing to eat brazil nuts (selenium) and seaweed (iodine) for thyroid health.

As you can see, it’s no wonder people get confused since one protocol may not even be right for a person long term. Some diets are just therapeutic interventions to heal, and then, we hope to find a healthier moderate diet afterward long-term. I can even argue that a raw vegan diet will make you feel great in the short term due to the cleansing nature of the foods, cutting out processed ingredients, and the increase of glutathione in the body. That doesn’t mean we can function without the essential Vitamins A, D, K2, and B12 that are only from animal foods.

It may help to go into these “diets” or “nutrition protocols” with an experimental mindset. Tell yourself you will try it for X amount of time, maybe 30 days, like the Whole30. Take notes of how you feel and do research as to why this may be the case. What did you add? What did you remove? Then, once you get through the 30 days, you can either chose to keep certain things the same or introduce foods back in and see what macro-nutrient ratios work for you. I would assume that many Americans would benefit from starting with a low carbohydrate diet for 30 days and then assessing whether adding more real food carbohydrates back in makes them feel better or not. It may even work for some to include more carbs every few days and not every day. When you are playing with your macros after the therapeutic intervention, your weight may fluctuate as you make wrong turns. Just think of these moments as data to prevent getting discouraged. A few lbs is easy to fix. Moving to a real food based diet will make the most impact long term.

This is where I have currently ended up with my macros to lose weight, heal my adrenal fatigue, balance my hormones, and sleep better. I was listening to the Ancestral RD podcast, and they discussed three things that really struck me:

  1. It is sometimes hard to get enough carbohydrates on a real food, highly plant based diet.
  2. Sometimes, it is important to track your calories occasionally to make sure you are getting enough on a real food diet.
  3. Those with adrenal fatigue or are active should get at least 30% of calories from carbohydrates and to heal hypothalamic amenorrhea, you should potentially titrate up to 50% from carbohydrates.

So, I started tracking my calories and worked on incorporating more carbohydrates while reducing my fat intake. I realized that it was actually hard for me to get enough calories since all my snacks are veggies and fruit, especially while breastfeeding and running. No wonder I was waking up in the middle of the night to pee! Learn more about how this may indicate you have cortisol disregulation in this podcast. The gist is that when cortisol rises, vasopressin (what prevents you from having to pee) is suppressed, and you have the urge to pee. So, I was having a rise in cortisol a few hours to early because I was not eating enough carbohydrates. I started eating a macro ratio of approximately 40-50% carbohydrates, 20-30% fat, and 20-25% protein. I will see how this goes for a while and will have to adjust over time as my stress and activity change.

 

Being in a Fat Burning State

Being in a Fat Burning State

Since I was trying to conceive in 2014, I started learning about eating healthy fats. As I went through pregnancy and became a new breastfeeding mom, my diet shifted more and more to higher fat, lower carbohydrate. I have enjoyed having more stable blood sugar and an easier time maintaining my typical weight, which is 130 lb on a 5’7″ frame. This gives me a thin, athletic build with just a touch of curves. Then, in trying to restore my cycles to conceive a second child in combination with nutritional research for Noah, I started to eat even higher fat and lower carbohydrate. I eat mostly grain free and focus on protein and fat in the morning and midday. If I have carbohydrates, it is a serving in the evening to support my adrenals and circadian rhythms.

This has led to severaeggsl batches of Bulletproof ice cream, Bulletproof coffee, veggies cooked in grass-fed butter, and egg and avocado breakfasts. Recently, I have noticed that I can make it 4-5 hours without needing or wanting a snack or having that ‘hangry’ feeling. It has been wonderful. Last Wednesday, I was working hard to get the final stages of a huge project for Willow Tree Family Center done because I am working on launching a nutrition program with them. I was working on recipes, food photography, and finalizing blog posts for both their site and mine. Plus, Wednesday isĀ  my day off with my son, and he is my priority. I treasure those Wednesdays with him, especially since I was mainly using those days to take him to appointments in the early months.

That day, I had gotten up early to do my “Miracle Morning” that consists typically of a 30 minute run, reading my affirmations, looking at my vision board, listening to an audio book, and writing (usually work stuff, 3 things I am grateful for, and to dos for the day). So, I had made some extra coffee, sat out on our deck after the r20160706_121000un, drank 2 cups of Bulletproof coffee, and had an omelette with greens and avocado. I was full and busy while immersed in playing with Noah and having fun cooking, writing and taking pictures. The next thing I knew it was 1 pm, and I felt only a little hungry. I wanted to curb my hunger and keep going since Noah was napping at the time. So, I grabbed the coconut milk hot chocolate I had made for a photo. I had mixed about half a bar of chocolate with a 1/4-1/2 can of coconut milk. I sipped on that for a bit until the cup was gone. I felt energized and completely satisfied. My ideas were flowing, and I was powering through a ton of work. I knew I was totally running on fat. I remembered hearing Dave Asprey make a comment once that he wouldn’t have protein at lunch when he had a presentation in the afternoon to keep his mental focus and prevent brain fog. I now understood the feeling of running on fat through the day and that even having protein, which can go through the process of gluconeogenesis, will cause a dip in blood sugar. then dinner came, and I was somewhat hungry but didn’t want to stuff myself. I had asparagus, a scoop of sweet potato, and a piece of chicken. We went swimming as a family, put the kids to bed, and I finished the last photos I needed. One of these included a photo of Bulletproof ice cream as a custard. I made the custard, divided the batch into two picture worthy bowls, took my pictures, and slowly devoured one of the bowls. Directly after eating the custard, my head starting tingling, I felt insanely happy and energized, and I felt high. It was something I have never felt from food. I also noted that on the scale the next morning, I had lost over 2 lb of weight/bloat.

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My only conclusion was that I assumed my body is getting better at being in a fat burning start when eating healthy fats. These healthy fats are helping to balance 20160706_224531my hormones and give my body the tools to perform all the processes it needs, especially since I am breastfeeding. By consuming healthy fats, this in turn reduces inflammation.

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Guide to Adrenal Fatigue Treatment and How to Balance Cortisol

Guide to Adrenal Fatigue Treatment and How to Balance Cortisol

Can’t wake up in the morning? Can’t fall asleep at night? Want to nap at your desk at 3 pm? Bloated? Stressed? Losing your mojo?

You probably have adrenal fatigue. In today’s world, it is very hard not too. We sleep too little (and don’t get good quality sleep), we drink too much coffee, we eat too much sugar, we work too much, and then to top it off we feel we need to overexercise to lose weight.

adrenalfatigue

 

We can’t always reduce our stress or drastically change our life, but we can “hack” or support our health in our current life. There are many options for adrenal fatigue treatment.

First, I would recommend you completely evaluate things you can control or change like your consumption of sugar, coffee, and alcohol. Also, if you are feeling extreme fatigue you should make sure your exercise is in 20-30 minute segments and not endurance training. HIIT workouts are great for this. For me, I started focusing on short 30 minute runs and 5k races instead of half marathons and marathons after my son was born because the lack of sleep and breastfeeding was too much to tack endurance training on top of. Plus, the time commitment was adding more stress. I would also stress that planning your meals to balance your blood sugar is very important. Start your day with some protein and fat. Do not start your day with just a carbohydrate or just a cup of coffee. I have personally found that I cannot do carbohydrates, except vegetables, in the morning, or I will be hungry soon after and not as focused. If I only have protein and high fat for breakfast, I can go longer without needing food and have high mental clarity to get things done. These lifestyle changes may be all you need in terms of adrenal fatigue treatment.

For some, the lifestyle changes may not be enough to treat their adrenal fatigue. So, there are some other adrenal supporters in the form of supplements. I have heard many other nutrition specialists recommend Ashwaganda, but it isn’t something I have personally tried. I like:

  • Vitamin C (I consume a tsp of Camu Camu powder every morning).
  • Vitamin B complex – Energy!!!
  • Vitex – good adrenal supporter and hormone balancer
  • Rhodiola – good adrenal supporter and hormone balaancer
  • Salt (First thing, I wake up and down 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt in water)

I use this grouping of supplements for several reasons. Vitamin C and salt are food based. Vitex supports my hormonal health and has helped me avoid PMS and postpartum depression. Plus, I used it to balance my hormones when trying to conceive both times. Salt has helped my body with digestion and have a bowel movement first thing in the morning. If you are not having a bowel movement within 20 minutes of opening your eyes, that is a sign of constipation that could indicate a deeper imbalance. This initially cleansed my system and diminished some bloating I had when I started this practice due to stress surrounding starting my business. Salt super charges the adrenals in the morning and helps you wake up just like a cup of coffee does. Vitamin C helped my cycles regulate and boosted my immunity. Vitamin B helped with my energy, especially when my son wakes up through the night to feed.

Aside from supplements, I started thinking about the quality of my sleep. I realized I wasn’t eating enough carbohydrates to support my cortisol regulation, and therefore, I started reducing my fat intake and increased my carbohydrate intake to 40-50% of calories. I tracked my calories for a short time to make sure I was eating enough food and in the right ratios. Also, I discovered I could improve my sleep quality by wearing blue blocking glasses at night when looking at screens.

Have you tried adrenal support? Has anything worked for you?

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