Diets, Plant Based, Uncategorized, Vegan Ketogenic

Vegan Low Carb Detox

I am planning a super exciting project for the end of January: a 21 Day Vegan Low Carb Detox. Detoxying helps support your body’s healing abilities. Environmental toxins, poor diet and lifestyle put incredible demands on our bodies and this is why we need to make sure we do a detox at least twice a year.

Why a Vegan Low Carb Detox?

A detox is like pushing the reset button. Avoiding certain foods during a detox doesn’t mean that these foods are harmful, but they might require your body to expend more energy using the nutrients they provide. Furthermore, eating the same foods over and over, no matter how healthy they are, can cause you to become sensitive to them. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, is a common problem today. It increases the likelihood that you will react to what you eat because it allows undigested food particles to cross into your bloodstream. Your body will fight off these invaders and cause unpleasant symptoms.

This Detox will be vegan because most of us eat too much animal protein, which is harder to digest. Some argue that plants are hard to digest because of their cellulose content, but I think it is faulty reasoning. The cellulose is simply fiber, it helps clean out your digestive tracts and reduces your risks of cancer. Considering all the healing and detoxing protocols revolving around meat (GAPS,WHALS protocol, Whole 30, AIP, SCD), I have struggled for a while with the place of meat in a health promoting diet. I have come to the conclusion that eating meat is fine, but in moderation. Also, it is best to consume organic meat.

However, in the context of a detox, the goal is to consume nutrients dense foods while facilating the digestive process. It is well know that animal protein sources are highly thermogenic. For this reason, many weight loss programs require a clean source of animal protein with every meal. Since detoxing is the goal rather than weight loss, let’s make our meals as easily digestible as possible. When your body is not busy digesting, it is regenerating. Even so, you may find that you lose weight simply by avoiding sugar and inflammatory foods.

Now you know why I chose vegan. Why did I chose low carb? Because after years of overindulgence, most of us struggle with uneven blood sugars and some level of insulin resistance. And, yes, carbs increase insulin levels. By keeping your daily carb consumption to between 30 and 150 grams, you might see the following benefits:

  • fast weight loss;
  • reduced hunger;
  • better control over insulin and blood sugar;
  • enhanced cognitive performance;
  • lower risk for heart disease factors.

However, as for meat, I want to make it clear that is is a temporary detox measure, not a long term plan. For most of us, carbs are an important part of a healthy diet. Each of us is different and need to figure out what works for our body.

If you would like to join our January Detox group, comment below or email me. You can also join later in the year if you miss the January one. Here is what you will get: access to our Facebook community and our weekly live videos, a booklet explaining the plan and how it works, a meal plan, grocery shopping lists, recipes that will include all your nutritional information as well as advice on supplements and essential oils to support your detox. All this for free (all you need to purchase is your supplements if you decide you want them). I hope to see you there!

Advertisements
Diets, Plant Based, Vegan Ketogenic

Plant-Based Ketosis

I recently was listening to an interview with Dr. Toni Bark, from the Center of Disease Prevention, talking about the ketogenic diet. I had already briefly considered this diet as an option to pursue optimal health, but I had put the idea aside because it doesn’t seem sustainable long term, some claim that it’s dangerous (the Paleo Mom does a great job at providing a balanced view of the risks vs benefits of the ketogenic diet here) and I have come to believe that limiting animal products is also important for maintaining optimal health. But in the interview, Dr. Bark mentioned a few things that made me reconsider :

1- The brain functions better on ketones, which explains why this diet has been used to treat brain disorders (like autism and epilepsy). It is interesting to note that the ketogenic diet is meant to emulate a state of starvation. It originated from the discovery that fasting, which changes the body’s metabolic state, reduces and even cures epileptic seizures. This state can be replicated with a very low carbohydrate intake.

2- Inflammatory markers dissipate when a person is in ketosis (Dr. Bark personally measured it on her patients).

3- Most interesting of all, she puts her cancer patients on a plant-based ketogenic diet. I had never heard of anyone doing this before and I wanted to learn more about it. Here are the fats she promotes: coconut oil, MCT oil, hemp oil, fish oil, oil ice oil, flax oil, krill oil, hemp hearts and chia seeds. She encourages the consumption of avocados, seeds and nuts to maintain ketosis.

Now, I would like to dwell longer on the plant-based ketogenic diet. As a reminder, the ketogenic diet is high fat (70% of your daily calorie intake), moderate protein (25%) and low carb (5%). After 2 or 3 days of eating less than 20g of carbs, most people enter ketosis.

I already mentioned the fats that can be used in a ketogenic plant based diet, but what about proteins? Think nuts and seeds! You might want to activate your nuts and seeds by soaking them for a few hours before consuming them, please read this on the topic. Also, people underestimate the amount of proteins found in vegetables. Still, it would be very difficult to get enough fat and proteins without increasing slightly the amount of carbs and, although it might slow down weight loss and take longer to enter ketosis, it is advisable to increase your net carb intake to 30-40g. Clean vegan protein powders (like SunWarrior and Garden of Life RAW) will provide more proteins and green powders will be helpful to ensure enough greens in your diet (since greens will have to be temporarily reduced to attain ketosis).

I think I might give it a try, and use this page for inspiration on meal ideas. I also found a great little ebook here, but although it is a great starting point for my meal plan, it doesn’t include the macronutrients ratio for each recipe. It claims to offer a vegan keto meal plan, but the daily carb amount provided doesn’t seem reliable. For example, on day 1, the plan says 34g of carbs for the day, but my calculations dictate otherwise. Breakfast has 20g of carbs, 37g of fat and 32g of proteins. Lunch has 14g of carbs, 13g of proteins and 22g of fat. Dinner has 12g of carbs, 5g of proteins and 4g of fat. Great low carb meal plan, but not quite keto! Still a helpful starting point!

 

 

 

 

Diets, Plant Based

Fasting Mimicking Diet: A 5 day experiment 

I have written about the benefits of fasting before, during my experimentation with the Bone Broth Diet. The Bone Broth Diet prescribes two days of fasting (500 calories are allowed) per week (not consecutive). I didn’t want to do that because I felt it was not sustainable long term. Plus, the benefits of fasting mimicking beyond fat loss really kick in after 48 hours (here is an interesting paper on the topic). Fasting mimicking as a way to enjoy the benefits of fasting without eliminating food completely is based the work of Valter Longo. If you live in Italy or the United States, you can even purchase two kits with prepackaged foods and supplement to undertake your own fasting experiment in compliance with his parameters (which I will discuss below) for one low payment of $600!

Needless to say, I set out to plan my own meals. The first rule is to keep all meals vegan during the fast, but I also wanted them to be grain free and legume free. Also, the program normally would include supplements, but I don’t know what they are and I just kept up with my normal supplement regimen. While researching the diet and reading the findings of the study, I discovered that there is a specific recommended macronutrients ratio to follow. In fact, during the study, the subjects ate 1090 calories, 10% protein, 34% carbohydrates and 56% fat on the first day. During days 2-5, they ate 725 calories, 9% protein, 44% fat, 47% carbohydrate. I decided that I didn’t need to stick to these percentages perfectly and my goal was to keep my caloric intake to about 750 on days 2-5 while consuming about the same amount of fat and carbohydrate and about 10% protein.

I used the Fitness Pal app to calculate my calories and macronutrients. I was off on the first day, it was what I would call a transition day. I had one slice of Against All Grain World Famous Sandwich Bread for breakfast with some homemade unsweetened chia seed jam, two cups of a creamy green soup that I made from one of my books for lunch and a mixture of roasted broccoli, peppers and mushrooms for supper. I discovered about the macronutrients ratio while figuring out what I was going to make for supper and, at that point, I realized that consuming enough fat would mean way too many calories in my meal. At that point, I decided I would skip lunch for the remainder of the experiment. For breakfast, a smoothie consisting of a whole avocado, 1/3 cup of berries, a greens powder and water is easy and satisfying. It yield a bit less than 300 calories and presents the right macronutrient profile. For dinner various veggies with oil, nuts and/or avocado also work well. I had lettuce wraps with zucchini hummus, cucumber pieces, peppers, tomatoes, and homemade guacamole one night. Greens with a creamy cashew coconut milk sauce another night and a salad two other nights.

I just loved the results from this experiment. I lost all my symptoms and felt like I gained clarity about food. Fasting mimicking should be done every month for optimal benefits. I might end up doing that in the long run, although for now, I decided I would wait 2 or 3 month and do the Green Smoothie Girl Detox program. In the meantime, I will keep meat eating to a minimum and avoid grains and legumes. After feeling well for a few weeks, I will try to reintroduce legumes and then, gluten free grains.

Diets, General Health, Paleo, Plant Based

Paleo? Plant Based? Who is Right?

Last week, I ended the Bone Broth Diet by eating some Einkorn flour pancakes. I have been feeling unwell ever since. It made me wonder if all grains should be out for me. During the week, I watched the Tyroid Secret series and lots of interviews were pointing to a paleo approach to healing. There are no doubt that grains can be inflammatory (a little more on this here) and should be avoided by some people. But, at the same time, I have been learning from Chris Beat Cancer (his Website is truly a wealth of information) and a lot of what he says makes sense. He promotes a cup of beans a day, very little meat, oatmeal for breakfast and potatoes as a health food. Not quite paleo, right? In some of his videos, he talks about the fact that, traditionally, people didn’t eat as much meat as we do because they saved it for special occasions. Only the rich could eat as much as we do and their overeating (meat, sugar, processed grains and dairy products) would cause them to suffer from diseases of affluence (like our Western culture today). In an interview with Dan Buettner, author of the Blue Zones, he explains that a huge factor in the cultures that enjoy longevity is that they eat at least a cup of beans a day. He promotes a plant based diet for optimal health and that is how he helped a lot of cancer patients get healthy. His goal is to nourish the body enough to allow it to heal. I may not have cancer, but that is also how I think I should be able to get better. The problem is, I think I might be sensitive to grains. I have been unwell ever since I reintroduced them in my diet and every time I eat them, my weight goes up a few pounds (a sign of inflammation?). I am not sure about legumes though, I haven’t tested them without grains.

I am still trying some new supplements I purchased last week, but if I don’t see any improvements this month, I think I might have to go paleo again. I might also look at other gut healing diets (like the GAPS diet or I was also considering the WHALS protocol).

Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Kellyann's Bone Broth Diet, General Health, Ketogenic, Paleo, Plant Based

Next experiment: Ketogenic or Bone Broth Diet ?

It’s been almost a week since I finished the Autoimmune Protocol and I have been wondering about what my next experiment should be. I have been eating following mostly Dr. Fuhrman Lose 10 in 20 plan. I like his Nutritarian approach, nutrient dense and plant rich, small amounts of animal products and no processed foods, flour and sugars. Here is the source for Dr. Fuhrman’s great food pyramid:

img_1519

The problem is, although I like that each meal contains lots of veggies, I tend to get bored with the recipes, as most of them seem to revolve around black beans and tomatoes or mushrooms and kale. It seems to me that they also use a lot of corn. Besides that, I need to get my blood sugar under control and this plan doesn’t keep me satisfied for long periods. I crave sweets all the time and I frequently feel hungry. I want to loose weight (between 5 and 10 lbs would be great), but not by starving myself. I want to find the right diet that will help me reach my ideal weight and maintain it effortlessly (or almost) by conquering my cravings. For this reason, I feel that plans with a reduced sugar load might be the answer for me. I have recently been learning about the Ketogenic diet and I am intrigued. A ketogenic diet is high fat, moderate protein and low carbs. My Keto Kitchen presents a clear food pyramid for the keto diet:

img_1520

Studies are being done to demonstrate its effectiveness as an anti cancer diet, since cancer cells need sugar to survive. However, I would try to keep meat protein consumption at 20% because of the possible link between meat protein and some forms of cancer. Also, I have seen meal plans that involve dairy and processed foods like low carb tortillas. I think a dairy free whole food plan would be preferable. I found the plan in the Keto Beginning particularly appetizing. After about a week of low carb intake, the body will be in ketosis and start using fat and ketones for energy instead of glucose. After about a month, the body will reliably use fat/ketones as a source of energy, this state is called keto adapted. The benefits of using fat and ketones rather than glucose for energy are, for example, stabilized insulin levels and reduced inflammation in the body. It reduces hunger and contributes to overall wellbeing. Once one has reached this state, carb consumption can be increased while maintaining ketosis. Also, one will usually go back to eating more carbs at some point following a certain pattern (like carb cycling).

The third option I was considering was Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet. It is similar to the Ketogenic diet, in that it works mainly by stabilizing blood sugar and reducing inflammation, but it includes more carbs and does not aim at maintaining a ketogenic state. Basically, all grains and legumes are eliminated as well as all forms of sugar. Bone broth is consumed daily for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties. An other cornerstone of the Diet are its fast days. Have you heard of fasting mimicking? It offers all the benefits of fasting, but still allows for some food intake (this post is particularly informative). Fast days offer tremendous healing and detoxing benefits on top of aiding weight loss by reducing caloric intake. During these days, one should consume 5 cups of bone broth and a light meal or 6 cups of bone broth. I am leaning towards trying this one, as it seems more attainable and sustainable. Plus, I have read that ketosis might not be appropriate for nursing mothers. My plan would be to keep it safe by following the Bone Broth Diet without fasting days. Nursing mothers are always advised to steer clear of helpful supplements, herbs and diets. I know this is to ensure they produce enough milk and that their milk is safe for the baby (as free of toxins as possible), but I suspect part of it might be a liability issue. I might decide to try fasting, I will simply listen to my body. Also, my baby is approaching one year of age, so maintaining milk supply is not as much of a concern. I am giving myself another week to decide what the next step is, since I have to wait till next Friday to go grocery shopping. More on that next week.

 

Plant Based, Superwoman Slimdown

Superwoman Slimdown Results

Here, we are it’s the end of this light cleanse. It was very different from everything I have tried so far because it was heavily based on legumes and grains. My energy level was high and my mental clarity as well. My bloating did not improve and my nose was still a little stuffy at night.

My measurements and my weight didn’t change, but I didn’t adhere to the recommended portions since I am nursing. Still, most nights, I went to bed feeling a bit “hungry ” because I am used to snacking in the evening and I wanted to follow the rule to not eat 2-3 hours before bed. Having jumped right into phase 2, I did this cleanse for only 7 days. Phase 1 was about eliminating gradually unwanted foods and most of them were already not part of my diet. I did not go through a proper phase 3, I decided to continue on with an autoimmune protocol as I suspect nuts, grains and legumes might be an issue for me. For this reason, I had a cheat day before jumping into my new plan. I had sourdough bread, wine, and gluten free homemade sweets. I woke up the next morning feeling sluggish. This demonstrates how well this plan had worked. Except for the one morning when I had a bit of a brain fog (which made me suspect other foods as the culprits). I felt so good! My only complaint is that I feel the recipes are too heavily based on grains and legumes. The meal plan allows for plenty of veggies (2 salads a day most days, plus the veggies hidden in the recipes), but I would have enjoyed more recipes without grains or legumes.

Although The Superwoman Slimdown is an accessible cleanse, helpful for those who would like to improve their eating habits, I don’t think I have found the Ultimate yet.

General Health, Plant Based

The Problem with Eating Meat

First, I want to start by saying I am not a vegetarian. I don’t believe animals are creatures equal to humans deserving the same treatment. I am a Christian and I believe God gave us dominion over them and offered them for our subsistence after the Flood. When Noah and his family left the ark, God said to them: Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. (Genesis 9:2-3). The climate had changed drastically and plant food was going to be sparse. But it might not be optimal for man to eat animals, it might be a second best when we have access to vegetation. And I am not even talking about conventional meat, there is a host of other problems with industrially raised meat that I will not mention here. I am talking about possible problems with eating organic, humanely raised animals:

1- Meat is low in fiber and takes longer to digest than plant food. In transit through the intestines, it can putrify and produce toxins. We secrete less hydrochloric acid than cats for example, and our intestines are long compare to theirs, which allow them the rapid expulsion of their waste products.

2- Although research about eating habits is not perfectly reliable, since so many factors need to be taken into consideration about the subjects and it’s impossible to eliminate all variables, there is a body of evidence suggesting that meat consumption can cause inflammation and, in some forms, cause cancer.

3- Animals store more toxins than plants because they have a higher fat content.

4- One study showed that meat consumption increased allergies (this page presents an extensive list of studies pointing to the risk associated with the consumption of meat).

5- Eliminating meat from one’s diet will improve his or her gut’s microbiome in a matter of days.

6- A plant based diet will provide just enough protein. Eating to much protein is easy to do when consuming meat and too much protein is associated with weight gain, diabetes, inflammation and cancer.

7- Good quality meat is expensive and there is a reason for the fact that eating meat used to be for the more wealthy people. It should be considered as an indulgence.

I think a good summary here might be: Everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Cor. 6:12)

General Health, Plant Based, Superwoman Slimdown

Detoxing for the breastfeeding mother

It’s January and well, like everyone else I wanted to implement some changes to loose a few pounds and improve my overall health. A detox seemed like a great idea, and after watching the Green Smoothie Girl’s mini masterclass, I was excited to get started on her detox protocol. However, I found out during the fourth video that pregnant and nursing mothers should NOT proceed with this detox. I am determined to do it someday, maybe next Fall, when my baby is older and mostly fed solids.  In the meantime, I had to find something that would allow me to detox safely. A little googling goes a long way and after a total of, maybe 10 seconds, I had found the Superwoman Slimdown. It’s a gentle cleanse that is plant based. During phase 1 over a period of seven days, the offending foods are removed (alcohol, caffeine, sugars, processed foods, dairy, animal proteins, soy, corn, gluten, nightshade plants). The next seven days, the cleanse phase, is dedicated to sticking to the plan and restoring health. The last phase, is the reintroduction phase. Each food is reintroduced one at a time and it is important to wait 3 days between each new introduction. The program comes with a journal to fill out, so on day 7 to 10, I will give an account of my results. Now, I am at the end of day 4 of phase 2 and I feel really good. I jumped in phase 2 right away because my diet was already very close to what was expected. I only had to eliminate animal proteins and sugar.

I will give a little more info about the program when I will write about my results, but for now, a few things breastfeeding mothers should keep in mind before embarking on a detox:

1- Toxins can be transferred to the baby through breast milk, that is why it is very important to detox gently.

2- Milk production can be affected by a lack of food, it is important for the breastfeeding mother to satisfy her nutritional requirements.

3- Detoxing can be achieved through other means than food. For example, oil pulling, dry skin brushing and eliminating toxic chemicals in the home. It’s a good idea for the breastfeeding mother to be focusing on these rather than eliminating food from her diet.

Nourishing a new baby is a very important job, and the primary principle is to simply insure the health of the nursing mother. Also, there are practices that help detoxing and that don’t compromise milk production.