Nourishing protein Bars

These bars are my go to. They’re super easy to make – just blend in your food processor, and melt some chocolate! Everyone I’ve made these bars for absolutely LOVES them!

Nourishing Protein Bars adapted from Passionate homemaking
    2 cups  whole almonds
    1/4 cup  ground golden flaxseed
    1/2 cup  organic dates  (about 6 whole pitted dates)
    1/2 cup  organic unsweetened coconut flakes
    1/2 cup  organic raw almond butter
    1/2 tsp  unrefined sea salt
    1/2 cup  organic coconut oil, melted
    1-2 Tbsp  organic maple syrup
    2-3 tsp  vanilla
    1 handful 100% baking chips, or 3-4 unsweetened chocolate baking squares, melted
    6 drops  vanilla creme liquid stevia (optional)
    *Use more chocolate for a thicker coating

To make your protein bars:
  1.  Place almonds, flaxseed, dates, coconut, almond butter and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine.
  2.  In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil using LOW heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla and maple syrup.
  3.  Add melted oil mixture to the food processor and pulse/grind ingredients until it forms a coarse paste.
  4.  Scoop out the mixture and press down hard into an square bar pan.
  5.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler, add stevia last when finally melted. Pour the chocolate mixture on top of the already pressed down bars. Smooth out and place into the fridge or freezer until chocolate has hardened. To serve, take bars out of fridge/freezer for at least 30 minutes. Work a knife around the edges gently and pop out bar onto pieces of plastic wrap. Wrap and freeze or fridge for later enjoyment.

Fat Bombs with hempseeds

This is one of my favorite recipes for a “fat bomb” : a piece of food, high in fat compared to the size. Or in other words, it has a high fat/density ratio 🙈 These are great for #paleo, or keto diets, or for ladies that need to keep their dietary #fat levels UP ☝🏻

FAT BOMBS with hemp seeds
adapted from Healthful Pursuit

Topping/crust:
1 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cups hemp seeds
1/2 cup coconut chips
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2-1 tsp vanilla

Fudge layer:
1 unsweetened chocolate bar
8 oz full fat coconut milk
Stevia as sweetener or vanilla, as desired
Pinch salt

Directions: 1) Mix the topping ingredients together, after melting the coconut oil, and mix until combined. 2) Melt chocolate and warm coconut milk together in a double boiler over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted and incorporated into coconut milk. 3) Smear inside of glass 8×8 pan with smidge of coconut oil. 4) Put half of coconut/hemp mixture inside and press down. 5) Layer on top the chocolate. Be careful smoothing it out. 6) Gently add remaining of topping on top of the chocolate. Smooth carefully.

Put in fridge to set overnight! Before cutting into squares, let sit on counter for 10 minutes. ENJOY 😊

Should I go keto or not?

The keto diet has been a popular weight loss diet for several years, and I often get questions from my patients if the keto diet is right for them.

There are four things I consider when making the recommendation for keto or not.

But first let’s talk through some basics.

The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to use ketones as fuel source. You eat to fuel your body. Your body takes fuel and turns it into energy, which is called ATP, and all your cells need ATP to do their jobs. You can eat sugar or food that converts to sugar, and glucose will be turned into ATP. Or you can make ATP through eating fat; fat is broken down into ketone bodies, and ketones are used to make ATP. (This is a simplified description of the scientific pathways).

If someone is eating a diet that is high in sugar or carbohydrates, then the body will use sugar as it’s main fuel source. This means there is considerably less fat burn, because the body is using sugar as fuel. So when people are trying to lose serious weight, going “keto” is appealing because eventually, with restriction of carbs, you will use up much of the excess sugar in storage, aka glycogen, and then you will start to use fat as a source of fuel.

Making ATP from glucose is a long process. Making ATP from ketones is a “cleaner” pathway, but when utilized less, takes a lot of metabolic effort by the body to switch into that pathway again. That’s why the transition from a standard diet to a keto diet can create symptoms like the “keto flu.” The keto flu happens because there is an imbalance in electrolytes that occurs with going keto (so those electrolytes need to be replaced), and because the process of transitioning from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner can cause symptoms of brain fog, headaches, and some fatigue.

Now let’s get to those three points.

  1. What are your goals/ purpose of going keto?
  2. Do you have any evidence of metabolic in the present or in the past?
  3. Do you have any issues with thyroid?
  4. Are you working with a health professional that can advise you?

I first ask WHY people want to go keto because keto isn’t for everyone. There is this “buzz” that keto will solve all evils, and that is not the case. I sometimes see keto cause more problems than it solves! Keto is effective for a very particular set of people.

  1. People who are 30+ pounds overweight
  2. People who are insulin resistant
  3. If the person is male

In general, males tolerate macronutrient restriction (changes in protein, fat, carbohydrate levels) well, unless there is some underlying metabolic issue. This is because men are wired to adapt to stressors (and diet changes of this magnitude are a type of stressor for the body) in different ways than women. Men, unlike women, are not physiologically programmed to create and carry babies. Because men’s bodies do not have to potentially nourish a human every month, most men can handle stress much better than women, simply because of this hormonal difference. Women’s bodies are more physiologically sensitive to stressors (life stress, diet stress, emotional stress, physical stress), and I see this all the time in my practice.

The keto diet should not be a long-term diet, because the keto diet does not have enough diversity to support the microbiome long term. The keto diet is also very restrictive. The mainstream keto diet that you research on the internet is devoid of vegetables, and is high in meat and dairy. Because of this I recommend a whole foods high fat, moderate protein, low to moderate carbohydrate diet, as a long-term diet template after keto. It is similar to a paleo diet.

Insulin resistant people do well on keto. This is because with very little dietary sugar being consumed to disrupt blood sugar, less insulin is made overtime, and so cells become “more sensitive” to the normal signal of insulin again. I use a keto diet for typically 3 months in insulin resistant people; sometimes 6 months if they need extra support.

Let’s talk about point #2 – if a person has a history of chronic stress, restrictive eating, overexercise, and/or diagnosed eating disorder, I do not recommend keto to these women. The reason is because there has been past damage to their metabolism, and assuming their metabolism is now functioning correctly, adding in keto can signal to the body that “famine” or a time of not being “safe” is coming, so the person ends up feeling more metabolically suppressed and it affects their adrenal function and mental/emotional wellbeing.

#3 Keto is not for people who have thyroid issues, because it can decrease T3 levels in the body with the severe restriction of glucose.

And lastly, if someone is not being monitored by a licensed health professional, I don’t recommend the keto diet. Keto diets are hard to maintain because carbs are kept so low (usually less than 30 grams per day), and with the transition to keto, some people have a rough time, and may miss some concerning symptoms that indicate they need to stop, or they might need specific supplemental support (example: leg cramps due to electrolyte imbalances of sodium, magnesium and potassium). I also see people who “go keto” only eat meat and cheese – and this is not a healthy diet. For keto diets to be “done right” you need to eat low carb non-starchy vegetables often, vary up the kind of fats you eat (cheese, olive oil, nuts/seeds, coconut oil, fish oils), and make sure you’re getting moderate (not too high and not too low) levels of protein. Working with someone who has a strong nutrition background is key for this.

From my perspective, if you’re going to committ to a restrictive diet – you WILL need support – and if you’re going to commit, then you want to do it right to make sure you get the results you were looking for, and all the work and effort you put in wasn’t wasted!

Thank you for reading. Share this with friends and family if you found it useful!

Dr. Meg

Weight loss series, pt. 3 GLUCAGON

This is part three in a hormones and weight loss series!

Check out the video series on YouTube for a more in-depth explanation.

The first week we talked about CORTISOL

The second week we talked about INSULIN

and now we are talkling about GLUCAGON

Let’s recap….

CORTISOL is a hormone made by your adrenal glands, that’s high in the morning and trickles off throughout the day – it helps wake you up in the morning, it helps you deal with stress, and is antiinflammatory in low levels. But we want cortisol at a GOLDILOCKS LEVEL — not too high – not too low.

When cortisol is too high (often due to long term stress or chronic exercise) then you break down proteins in your body (catabolic state) and you store fat, you store the sugar you eat (increase of glycogen synthesis), and you make glucose from other sources (like your precious protein levels or fat).

Exercise increases cortisol, which is why we don’t want too much exercise.

INSULIN is a hormone made by your pancrease, it rises when your blood sugar goes up. It also increases protein synthesis, fat synthesis, and the storage of glucose for later use (glycogen synthesis). If blood sugar is high, then insulin is high, and if insulin is high then your cells become blind or resistant to the signal of insulin, and we can’t bring glucose into our cells for fuel… and then we get FAT and inflammed.

High insulin is a huge issue with most of my patients, and it’s really the secret to a lot of people’s weight loss woes.

ALL OF THESE HORMONES function to balance blood sugar — so if your blood sugar is not balanced, you’re in trouble. BLOOD SUGAR IS #1.

Now lets talk about glucagon…

GLUCAGON IS ESSENTIALLY THE OPPOSITE of insulin. Glucagon increases blood sugar when blood sugar is low, so a rise in blood sugar will DECREASE glucagon. It is also secreted by the pancreas.

It increases:

– glycogenolysis (use of sugar for fuel)

– gluconeogensis (use of fat and protein for fuel)

^both these increase blood sugar levels in the fasting state

So basically glucagon takes stored fuel (like glucogen from the liver) and release glucose to the blood stream.

Glucagon and insulin are always in a ratio because they are always going to be excreted depending on what is happening metabolically (high blood sugar state, or a lower blood sugar state).

One is higher the other is lower and vice versa.

So glucagons function is to keep your blood sugar stable when you ARE NOT EATING!!

Remember insulin increases the storage of FAT so we don’t like high insulin

<<Glucagon helps make KETONES – and that we will discuss in another video>>

We cannot have high insulin and high glucagon at the same time!!!

WE NEED TO FIX YOUR INSULIN ISSUE FIRST. So if you want to lose weight not gain weight, you need to decrease insulin first, because then we can benefit from the effects of glucagon.

So lets say we fixed the insulin problem, now how do we get proper glucagon secretion? It’s simple –> eat protein and lower your blood sugar levels.

1) PROTEIN RICH MEALS WHICH ARE LOW IN CARBOHYDRATES

2) LOWER BLOOD GLUCOSE

Getting glucagon right IS LIFESTYLE ONLY. You can’t really take supplements to help – unless they are supplements that help with insulin sensitivity.

For more information – please watch my video on YouTube about the importance of glucagon!

Hope this helps with your weight loss journey!

— Dr. Meg

Getting started with natural birth control

I’m going to teach you 3 main things today –

#1 – What basal body temperature tracking is and why it’s important

#2 – What charting is

#3 – Why you need to pick a mothod to interpret the data you gather

And if you have no idea what I am talking about it, I am going to explain it – and PS. this is also a YouTube video!

Let’s start with WHAT IS Basal Body temperature tracking – This a practice where a woman takes her basal body temperature every morning and uses that data to learn about her cycle.

When tracking your “BBT” aka basal body temperatures, you must follow some basic temping rules in order to get good accurate temperatures.

  1. A thermometer that goes to the hundreths place
  2. Taking your temperature at the same time each morning
  3. Being consistent – roll over and wake up and put the thermometer in your mouth (reduce any extra movement that can increase your basal body temperature)
  4. You must have 4 hours of consequetive sleep for the reading to be accurate. If you are breastfeeding, are a shift worker, or tend to wake up in the middle of the night, you need to get a wearable thermometer called TempDrop, which I will explain in another post.

The next thing you need to learn is how to CHART! Charting is where you take your basal body temperature data and put it on a chart. Then you connect all the dots of temperatures, to create a line. It looks something like this:

This is an example of an ovulatory cycle. You can see the “temp shift” in the middle of the chart, which indicates ovulation occured this cycle. Ovulation leads to production of progesterone which raises women’s body temperature. You can also see fertile cervical mucus in the middle of the chart that indicates ovulation is about to occur.

When you are charting you have multiple options HOW to chart:

  1. You can paper chart – which is buying a paper charting notebook or creatine one yourself and doing the data input manually – this is geat to customize what your charts look like and to add in any symptoms you are also tracking in your cycle
  2. You can chart on your phone using an App. Kindara is the app I recommend for NEW charters – it’s free and easy to use, and I have no affiliation with them.

Most importantly, DO NOT USE APPS THAT ARE PREDICTIVE – like Natural Cycles. This can result in an unplanned pregnancy. Your cycle changes each month, so you do not want an app to predict for you when you are safe for unprotected sex and when you are not fertile. The only way you can safely make those decisions is to interpret your data… which leads us to our last point.

You need to pick a method – methods have rules you must stick to in order to properly interpret your data. Put simply, a method teaches you how to interpret the data you take. Data includes basal body temperatures, cervical mucus, and cervical position. Cervical position changes throughout a womans cycle – and this can be felt by inserting one or two fingers into the vagina and feeling for the orientation of the cervix. When a woman is fertile the cervix is high, soft, open; when is is not fertile the cervix is low, firm, closed.

Common methods:

  1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility aka “TCOYF” (also is a book by Toni Weschler) – this is my personal favorite, as you can buy the book and teach the method to yourself
  2. Sensi-plan
  3. Marquette
  4. Billings
  5. And more

Combining your data about temperatures, cervical fluid and cervical position gives you what we call your “chart,” which is the display of your data – which allows you to easily look at apply your methods rules. There is a chart created for each menstrual cycle.

Women who use this type of natural birth control, which is most commonly known as the fertiltiy awareness method, like this method because it helps them learn the times in their cycle were they can go unprotected with their partner vs using a barrier method or withdrawal method.

Charting helps you determine when your fertile window opens and when it closes.

This allows you to know when you are fertile, and when you are not, so that you can either time sex to achieve pregnancy, or you can abstain or use a barrier method to avoid pregnancy.

And in case you haven’t heard, this idea of natural birth control works because WOMEN ARE NOT FERTILE EVERY DAY OF THEIR CYCLE!!

What makes a woman fertile is the time the egg stays alive (which is only 12-24 hours) + help from cervical mucus that extends the life of the sperm and shuttles the sperm to the egg. Sperm can live inside the body for about 5-6 days in the right conditions. This is why you need RULES to interpret your data because you can’t have unprotected sex whenever you want and not get pregnant. Creating a chart, and using a METHOD to interpret your data allows you to have the tools to make the right decisions throughout your cycle.

Lastly, this birth control method is best used for:

  1. women in stable monogamous relationships
  2. young girls wanting to understand their bodies and their cycles
  3. women of any age trying to assess for ovulation, or figure out period problems
  4. cycling women of any age who wants to learn more about their cycles

We are going to go more in-depth in subsequent posts. I purposely left out a lot of info because this topic needs to be broken down into separate articles.

If you found this information useful, please share it with someone who needs it! And see this video on YouTube, if you’d like a video explanation!