Quit sugar! Start fasting! Eat less carbs! What the #### are we supposed to do?! The message has become completely convoluted. I was talking to someone recently about how confusing the message has become that many people simply don’t know what to do. People get caught up in all these “tactics”, like the ones listed above, that they’ve forgotten the basics.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know I recently received a copy of Luke Hines’ new book, Smart Carbs. I really like the book for the ingredients he uses, and the simple way he explains the science behind those ingredients and how they influence the body.
The reason some ingredients are better for you than others is due to their chemical make-up and the way the body breaks them down and uses them.
If you want to lose weight, the simple answer is to consume less calories than you’re expending, and increase your level of physical activity to expend more calories. But certain ingredients are better for you, while others are worse.
Whenever I’m working with someone, I always recommend “adding in” to your lifestyle before “taking away”. It’s an important distinction related to the psychology of behaviour modification and healthy living, but that’s a topic for another day.
The reason some ingredients are better for you than others is due to their chemical make-up and the way the body breaks them down and uses them. Here are seven ingredients that, although are high in calories, the body responds very well to and help to fill you up.
7 Ingredients That Will Change Your Life
- Extra-virgin olive oil
The main type of fat found in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Research shows that MUFAs benefit insulin levels and help control blood sugar. Olive oil is also high in antioxidants, which help protect against free radicals and the formation of cancer cells. Free radicals rob electrons from other cells and cause damage to those cells.
- Coconut oil
There is more controversy over coconut oil than any other ingredient. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which effects your body differently to most other fats. In fact, saturated fat from coconut oil can boost fat burning and and provide you with quick energy. Recent studies have shown that saturated fat increases levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and converts the ‘bad’ small, dense LDL cholesterol to ‘benign’ large, fluffy LDL cholesterol. It’s important to acknowledge that HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol aren’t actually cholesterol at all. They are in fact proteins — proteins that transport cholesterol.
- Coconut milk
Made by mixing the flesh of mature, brown coconuts with water, coconut milk is full of beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, iron and magnesium to name just some. However, the majority of the calories from coconut milk comes from saturated fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs go straight to the liver and are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body. They can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones. Unlike regular fatty acids, ketones are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and providing the brain with an alternative energy source to glucose. Studies suggest that the brain operates more efficiently on ketones rather than glucose.
- Grass-fed butter
The belief that butter is bad for you is quickly becoming debunked. Studies from all over the world, including one from Australia, show that people who eat full fat dairy have a lower risk of heart disease. But grass-fed butter — butter from cows who ate grass as opposed to grain — is much healthier than regular butter. It is much higher in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K2. If you’re lactose intolerant, go for ghee.
A lot has been spoken about fish and how healthy it is for you. But just because a lot has been written about it doesn’t mean I’m not going to include it. Fish is super good for you, especially your heart and brain. One of the worlds best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, fish is also loaded with protein, iodine and vitamin D. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the body should be 1:1 but in today’s Western world, it is often as high as 1:20, and in the worst cases 1:50. Increasing your intake of omega-3 is one way of levelling out your omega-3:omega-6 ratio.
Ever heard that bananas are a good source of potassium? Well, did you know that avocados, which are also a fruit, contain more potassium than bananas? And unlike most fruits that consist primarily of carbohydrates, avocados are high in monounsaturated fats. We’ve already spoken about how good monounsaturated fats are for you, but there’s more to avocados than just the healthy fat. Avocados are also high in folate and vitamins K, C, B5, B6 and E. Avocados are a fantastic addition to a smoothie bowl for their fantastic ability to bind the ingredients and provide the thicker consistency.
Another one that has been maligned for some time now that is coming out the other end as an unsung hero. Like fish, eggs are a great source of high-quality protein, which provides your body with the necessary nutrients to build and repair itself. Protein also helps to fill you up, meaning you can eat less and feel content. Egg whites contain selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12, zinc, iron and copper. The often feared yolk is high in fat and cholesterol; however, eggs raise your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and like coconut oil, converts your ‘bad’ small, dense LDL cholesterol to the ‘benign’ large and fluffy LDL cholesterol.
There are so many convoluted messages about what we should and shouldn’t eat. These ingredients are scientifically proven to be healthy and very good for you. There are discrepancies in the way they are produced so looking for organic, wild-caught and grass-fed are best. At the end of the day, eat what makes you feel good and discard the rest.
Which ingredient would you like to try more?
Leave your answer to that question in the comments section below.
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Photo credit: J.J Valdivia
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