weight loss

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

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Have you heard about Intermittent fasting or tried it yourself? I discuss this with many of my patients as it is an effective tool for preventing and reversing disease, as well as help with weight loss and digestion. To implement should be considered carefully however. 

What is Intermittent Fasting:

Simply put intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating and not eating, lasting from short term fasts to longer daily fasts. When you are in a fasted state your body is focused on recovery instead of digesting food, however we have been taught over the years to eat frequent small meals, never allowing our bodies to get into the fasted (and recovery) state, except for overnight. There are a variety of approaches to fasting but I usually suggest starting with the 16:8 method as I find this to be easiest to implement for beginner β€œfasters.” You can still have your coffee in the morning, try it with a little collagen and/or MCT oil, and lots of water. 

  • 16:8 Method - aka time-restricted feeding. Eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours. Just skip your breakfast and ensure you break your fast with a whole foods, nutritious lunch. You can implement the 16:8 method up to 7 days a week. It helps to create a habit of not-snacking too late in the evening since the later you eat, the later you have to wait for food in the morning. πŸ™‚ 

  • 24 Hour Fast - This is a daily fast where you only eat 500-600 calories. This may be necessary for more advanced conditions to reset the body or those that need to jump start weight loss. You would do this 1-2x/week or 1-2x/months. 

  • Fasting Mimicking Diet - This is a 4-5 day fasting period with very low calories mimicking fasting in your body, allowing the body to enter a full ketogenic state. You would implement this method 1x/month for more deteriorating health, and only 1-2x/year when you are fairly healthy. This method is more about longevity and cellular repair. 

Reasons To Implement IF:

  • Decreases body fat and weight while maintaining muscle. It allows a favourable shift in metabolism to preserve muscle. During a fast (usually 18-24 hours) cells shift from using glucose to fat as fuel. 

  • Improves cardiovascular disease risk profile. A decrease in cholesterol up to 20% can occur. A decrease in LDL by about 25% after 8 weeks on alternate daily fast have been shown. A decrease in triglycerides by 32% has been shown, all with no change in HDL levels. 

  • Decreases overall inflammation. As I have mentioned you body focuses on recovery during the fasting time. 

  • Improves brain health by decreasing oxidative stress in the body.

  • Improves blood glucose levels and therefore improves insulin sensitivity. This is important for those with metabolism syndrome, pre-diabetes or diabetes. 

  • Improves digestion by helping promote a normal migrating motility complex (most active overnight). It also favourably influences the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. 

When To Avoid:

  • Best to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding when you are supporting both you and baby. 

  • Avoid during times of increased stress. Your brain uses many calories so when you are overwhelmed intermittent fasting may negatively impact you. Please talk to your ND about this. 

  • Caution for those with low blood sugar issues. 

  • Caution for those with a history of an eating disorder. 

  • Caution for those on certain medications. Please speak to and ND. 

Think about fasting like rebooting your computer. Sometimes you just have to turn it off and reboot for it to work properly again. Our body is very similar! 

Come talk to me if you have any questions.

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen

Food Friday: Quick & Easy One Pan Meals!

On busy days when you get home later than expected or have little time to spend in the kitchen cooking AND doing dishes, one pan meals come in very handy! I usually reserve more complex meals to the weekend when I have more time to cook and can indulge a little more. During the week I focus on pretty simple meals making sure I have protein, a little fat and lots of veggies, unless I am having leftovers from what I cooked on the weekend (see below for some decadent inspiration!). You don't have to slave away in the kitchen to come out with something delicious and nutritious. 

For one pan meals, I think about 2 things - what protein do I want and what veggies go with that, including a green veggie of course. It is that simple! It helps to have a variety of spices in the cupboard to change things up, such as rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, basic chicken spice, curry. Below are two examples of one pan meals that I have been known to whip up. Honestly the best things about this are the few dishes you dirty and how easy it is to make leftovers. This is also a great grain free or paleo meal. 

One game changer in making a delicious meal is roasted veggies. If you haven't roasted brussels sprouts, broccoli or beets before you are in for a treat! Beets would take the longest to roast but they are great with carrots and sweet potatoes. Check out this recipe to try that. 

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One Pan Meal #1: Chicken, Sweet potato, Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breast, skinless, boneless
  • chicken spice of your choice
  • 2 handfuls brussel sprouts, cleaned and cut in halves 
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into wedges 
  • 1-2 tbsp cornstarch 
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sweet potato spice options - cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, curry powder, paprika

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper or nothing if you have a good non-stick pan. In one bowl, toss brussels sprouts with a little olive oil, salt & pepper to coat. In a second bowl, toss sweet potato wedges with cornstarch to lightly coat, salt then olive oil and spices of your choice. Spread veggies evenly on the pan and put in the oven. Depending on the size of your chicken breast, you may want to add chicken 5-10 minutes into cooking, it should take 18-20 minutes per 1.5in. Sprinkle chicken with chosen spice. After 15 minutes, flip veggies. They should be lightly browned on one side. Roast for another 10-15 minutes until tender and crispy and chicken in cooked through. Voila! 

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One Pan Meal #2: Salmon, Carrots, Asparagus 

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillet, skin on or off
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large rounds 
  • 1 bunch asparagus 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic reduction (homemade or store-bought) OR dried/fresh rosemary for salmon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper or nothing if you have a good non-stick pan. In one bowl, toss carrots with a little olive oil, salt & pepper to coat. Evenly spread asparagus on the pan and roll with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Add carrots and salmon to pan and drizzle a little olive oil over salmon and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness of salmon. Asparagus should be slightly browned but not faded in colour, carrots should be slightly softened and salmon should be flaky. Add to plate and drizzle asparagus and salmon with balsamic reduction. Voila! 

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen

5 Reasons That Scale May Not Be Budging

Although I sometimes wish we could mimic brown bears and pack on weight and hibernate in the winter, our lives keep moving forward in the colder months. The weight, however, may still be something you have acquired and are struggling to shed. Although it may be keeping you warm at night, it might be preventing you from doing activities you love or feeling like yourself. Have you tried different diets or exercise routines but are not seeing results? Below are 5 reasons why that scale may not be budging:

1. Lack Of Sleep:

During stage 4 sleep is when we decrease inflammation, eliminate toxins and decrease cortisol, our stress hormone. It has been shown that lack of sleep increases the hormone ghrelin which stimulates hungry[1]. Therefore when we have a poor sleep, we tend to eat more the next day. We also are less inclined to make better food choices and get some exercise. Aim for 7-9 hours a night with little or no interruption.

2. Hormone Imbalance:

A common complaint for menopausal women is their belly fat, or the so-called muffin top. A decrease in estrogen stimulates a production of body fat to store estrogen. High estrogen, causing PMS symptoms, can also be a problem as it is associated with water retention. Good liver support is necessary in these cases to ensure proper estrogen excretion and balance.  

3. Chronic Stress:

When we are exposed to chronic stress, either from work, family or other factors, our nervous system is in overdrive. A spike in cortisol spikes blood sugar and can lead to increased hungry, cravings and body fat[2]. When we become burnt out our cortisol level drops, leaving us with an imbalanced hormonal system and low energy. Decreasing stress by adding more gentle exercise such as yoga, deep breathing or an adrenal support supplement may be helpful.

4. Food Sensitivities:

Do you ever feel bloated or that your stomach is hard? It may be due to a food sensitivity. This is another common barrier I see in my practice and something that is easy to control. If you are eating something your body does not agree with, an inflammatory response is produced. Inflammation leads to water retention. In my practice, when we eliminate a food sensitivity, determined via an IgG blood test or an elimination diet, we almost always see weight being shed quickly.

5. Lack Of Protein:

A lack of protein in our diet can lead to mood disorders, memory loss, increased appetite and cravings, decreased metabolism, sleep disruption, muscle loss and weight gain. In fact, I find that many patients are eating too many carbs and not enough protein when they initially come visit with me. Protein packs a punch because it stimulates the activity of many of our fat-burning and appetite-controlling hormones when we consume it in the right amounts. A serving should be the size and width of your palm and eaten three times a day with a smaller serving as a snack. For weight loss, start by having protein at each meal and only one meal a day with a focus on carbohydrates.

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If you are discouraged from not seeing the scale budge, you may be experiencing one of these 5 barriers. Some extra support and testing may be all you need to start seeing results. I have seen big shifts in weight when we address these issues and even add in a little jump start. I am here to help!  

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen

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References:

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00662.x/full

[2] http://www.psyneuen-journal.com/article/S0306-4530(00)00035-4/abstract

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Food Friday: Sloppy Joe Sweet Potatoes

www.skinnytaste.com (My dish looked a little sloppier...as it should!)

www.skinnytaste.com (My dish looked a little sloppier...as it should!)

Don’t we all love food that reminds you of a childhood memory? This recipe brings me back to being a young girl at camp…oh wait…maybe I’m imagining myself in the movie It Takes Two as one of the Olsen twins. πŸ˜ƒ  Whatever the memory is, sloppy joes are a delicious comfort food. This recipe is a healthy twist on the classic, filled with veggies and served on a flavourful sweet potato. This dish is gluten free, dairy-free and even Paleo. It is very quick and easy to make on a weeknight or Sunday, for week day leftovers. Be sure to get good quality ground beef, such as from Getaway Farm Butcher Shop in the Hydrostone or the Seaport Market. SkinnyTaste.com, where this recipe comes from, is filled with recipes that are healthy, delicious and lower calories. 

Ingredients: (3-4 servings)

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, washed and dried (or a few small ones)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef 
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt, such as Montreal Steak (or pinch of each: paprika, ground coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes)
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots, small
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 clover garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce 
  • 2 tsp tomato paste (I freeze leftovers in tbsp portions)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 chopped green onion, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Cook the sweet potatoes by poking holes all over with a fork, then cook in oven at 425F for about 45-60 minutes, or until tender. You can even pre-cook the sweet potatoes. 
  2. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and seasoning to the pan and cook, breaking it up into small pieces. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, mushrooms and red peppers to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and add red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, cook 4-5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, paste and water to the skillet, stir to combine. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook until carrots are tender, about 15-20 minutes. 
  3. To serve, cut sweet potatoes open, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and top each with 1/2 cup of meat and green onions for garnish. 

Enjoy! Remember to let me know what you think. 

Are you looking to get on track with your diet this year? Come visit me for the healthy way to cleanse. :)

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen