by Jenniferlyn Kryvicky, MS, LN
In the MBShine program, we speak a lot about concepts of nutrition as a tool for transformation. Nutrition is a key part of health, however we cannot adjust nutrition in a vacuum, ignoring all other aspects of ones self - family needs, personal needs, wants, hopes, desires, stressors, etc.
Understanding that, if we turn our attention back to the plate for this topic, one highly effective method of transformation and weight loss - even improving health markers - is to work out the calories needed for our body to run at a composition of fat and muscle that is right for us. We do this by calculating out the macronutrient ratios or needs in your protein, fat, and carbohydrate goals and then you find foods and eat whatever you like as long as it fits within those macronutrient targets. This is commonly referred to as "IIFYM- If It Fits Your Macros".
I for one really like the concept on one hand, as it promotes food flexibility and shows that you can eat a wide variety of foods that interest you as long as you have balance across all of the major calorie sources and are getting in enough proteins and fats to achieve your composition goals. Winning! On the other hand there is no focus or even mention of food quality. Whomp-whomp-whomp.
Wait, didn't you accidentally leave out carbohydrates above? Don't we need to eat enough of those too? Honestly, there is no minimal carbohydrate requirement in our bodies due to their ability to create glucose from other substrates (such as protein), however some people do very well on low amounts and others do better with higher amounts. That is why as a practitioner, I try to steer the conversation back to NUTRITION instead of CALORIES or MACROS. I attempt to do this by separating out the non-starchy fiber-filled vegetables from the starchy and less-fibrous carbohydrates.
All plants are carbohydrates however not all carbohydrate sources are equal in nutritional value or metabolic influence, and this is what keeps some people who are on carb-restricted diets thinking that they need to avoid vegetables all together as they are going to work against their goals. This is actually the opposite of the truth for most people, and avoiding nutrient and fiber rich foods can actually cause much worse issues in our systemic health. We need to switch the conversation from avoiding carbohydrates to increasing our fiber through colorful and nutrient rich vegetables!
So, how do we do that?
"Your diet doesn't need a name or a
Why Fiber and Not Carbs for Weightloss and Health?
Unfortunately, focusing too much on hitting a specific macronutrient target can limit your flexibility to maximize your micronutrients. This is why the MBShine Nutrition Plan gives you macronutrient ranges and not fixed targets, and why we have split out non-starchy vegetables from the carbohydrate group.
While it is true that there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, nutrient-dense foods can contain carbohydrates, such as the non-starchy veggies which contain more vitamins and minerals. Getting your non-fiber carbohydrate intake below around 40% tends to improve your nutrient density and metabolic flexibility.
Micronutrient deficiencies (such as being low or deficient in potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E, and C) may negatively impact mental health, and such deficiencies are common in the United States. To compound the issue, psychological stress may negatively impact micronutrient concentrations in the body.
A diet that incorporates a varied and colorful rainbow of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, spices, and herbs provides essential minerals and vitamins which can be a powerful tool in promoting mental wellness and combating chronic disease as well.
When we speak of non-starchy and fiber filled vegetables and fruits we are looking at leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, celery, onions, mushrooms, radishes, jicama, etc. These vegetables are not only packed with the micronutrients our body needs to perform, the fibers within them are helpful to our elimination and regulation.
The types of fibers:
Focus on managing non-fiber carbs, not total carbohydrates.
In their eagerness to go low carb or keto, some people end up excluding nutrient-dense foods because they contain carbohydrates. This is where you need to find the optimal carbohydrate intake that suits both your goals and your own body's requirements. If you are active, you will need (and likely crave) more carbohydrates to support your activity levels. However, if you are keeping an eye on your blood sugars, then you should actively manage your carbohydrate intake and reduce it to the level that your blood glucose stabilizes. The MBShine plan allows for this flexibility in need - suggesting 50g-100g of net carbs to start with, which will be well below 40% of total caloric intake for most people but is still not down to the ketogenic levels. We encourage our clients to explore and experiment with lower and higher carbs to see how they feel, perform, and recover.
How do I know I am getting enough nutrients for my body but not too many starchy and sugary carbohydrates?
I personally use two tools for managing carbs in a smart way:
Other benefits of increasing your fiber:
How to increase fiber-rich foods
DIVERSITY BUILD RESILIENCY AND STABILITY in our bodies.
Coaches BK and Jenniferlyn are wellness professionals who have a passion for helping others create their best shining lives. Both are former engineers who have found a path to wellness and triathlon due to their own journeys. Together they will share recipes and informative posts on various wellness topics.