Diet Plans for The New Year – Which is right for you?

Banh Mi Gourmet Style

At Intelligent Gourmet, we know it’s not about losing weight – it’s about living your best life. And, the only way to do that is by giving your body everything it needs to thrive. That said, for many of us, part of becoming healthier, happier people involves undoing some of the less-great decisions of our pasts and, yes, losing weight. Unfortunately, changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight (though one diet claims otherwise), and an actual “Diet” might be just what you need to kick-start your efforts. Here are a few Intelligent Gourmet-Approved plans.

With all the diets below, you can mix and match to create your own healthy and delicious eating plan that works for you. What matters is keeping your nutrition high, your calories controlled, and your exercise up! Be sure to combine your eating plan with a regimen of physical activity that is right for you. Whichever weight loss plan interests you, be sure to first discuss it with your primary health care provider.

The Mediterranean Diet
Resources: The New Sonoma Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, The Omega Diet, The New Mediterranean Diet

Who should consider this:
• People with families, since it has a wide variety of foods and is something everyone can do
• Those with a risk of heart disease
• Anyone who wants to maintain their healthy weight
• People interested in lifestyle changes and learning to eat for optimal health

The Mediterranean Diet is the recommended diet of the Mayo Clinic. Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Every meal is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts legumes, seeds, herbs and spices – with moderate amounts of seafood, poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Red meat and sweets are a once-in-a-while treat.

The Anti- Inflammatory Diet

Resources: The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, The Inflammation Free Diet Plan

Who should consider this:
• Those with a family history of heart disease
• A family history of arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease
• Anti-aging buffs looking for younger-looking skin
• Those with inflammation-related health problems

Anti-Inflammatory Diets focus on foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. You’ll be eating salmon, lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts and low-fat dairy, but you’ll have to avoid processed foods made with flour, sugar or other sweeteners. No breads, cereals, crackers, fried foods, fruit juice, pasta, pizza, soda, or even frozen yogurt allowed. The up-side? You’ll look great!

Gluten Free Diet
Resources: Wheat Belly, Grain Brain, The G – Free Diet

Who should consider this:

• People with diagnosed celiac disease
• People with skin allergies
• Those with auto immune disease
• People with chronic inflammation
• Diabetics

If you don’t like to read labels this diet isn’t for you. It requires eliminating all contact with gluten to be effective. This diet is fabulous for people who love to make their food from scratch, using whole ingredients, since you’ll want more control over exactly what you’re putting into your body. Or you can always order Intelligent Gourmet meal plans. 😉

Vegan/Vegetarian Diet
Resources: Forks Over Knives, Eat to Live, The Kind Diet, The China Study

Who should consider this:
• People with hypertension
• People with high cholesterol
• Heart patients

The American Dietetic Association has given the official “Okay” to vegetarian and vegan diets as being healthful and nutritionally adequate. As if we needed their permission! The health benefits of a vegetable-centric diet are many, though it can lead to over-dependence on carbs unless you’re careful. Careful is really the watchword for vegetarian and vegan diets. You have to be careful to ensure you’re getting enough protein and micro-nutrients since you’re cutting out a significant source (meat). My tips are: Keep sweets and fatty foods to a minimum, go with whole grains, and eat a wide variety of whole foods that include protein-rich staples like lentils.

A Fat Burning, Low Calorie Diet
Resources: The New Abs Diet, The Flat Belly Diet, From Belly Fat to Belly Flat, The L.A. Shape Diet

Who should consider this:
• Those who want to drop a few pounds quickly
• Exercise junkies
• Non-foodies
• Models

What I like about these types of diets is the emphasis on eating less and moving more. That’s a recipe that always works! There’s a heavy emphasis on protein-rich foods like almonds and beans, allowing you to feel full for longer, and refined carbs and sweets are kept to a minimum. Just be sure that your “low calorie” diet is at a minimum of 1,200 calories a day – no less. Otherwise you’re burning muscle, not fat!

Beat Your Hangover with Bananas!

Hangover remediesDrank too much last night? Then you’re probably looking for the fastest way to cure a hangover. The secret isn’t “Hair of the Dog,” or burnt toast, or black coffee – it’s not even greasy food. No, the cure for hangovers is actually quite healthy: bananas.

Alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to flush out key nutrients faster than usual, and your body has lost a lot of electrolytes and potassium in the last 8-10 hours. Replenishing these with a delicious smoothie will speed up your recovery time.

My Almond & Banana smoothie is the perfect hangover remedy – it’s packed with yellow fruit, which replaces the potassium lost in the detox process. Plus, bananas boost your electrolytes, as an added bonus Almonds are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that works against the harmful free radicals that are a component of alcohol.

  • 1 large ripe bananas, peeled, sliced
  • 2 cups chilled vanilla almond milk (we prefer the unsweetened with only 45 calories, 365 brand by whole foods is organic to boot)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of almond butter
  • 1 scoop of a good plant based protein powder
  • 1 cup of ice cubes
  • a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth (I apologize in advance for the noise). Divide smoothies among several glasses and enjoy!

Chocolate is full of the potassium that you lose during recovery, so your sorry state is a good excuse to indulge and add a heaping scoop of raw cacao to your shake. If you drink it for breakfast you might feel better faster.

Pitfalls of Losing a Pound a Day

Vegan SushiYes, friends, it’s January, and the hucksters are peddling their Lose-Weight-Fast diets all over the internet. Enter Rocco DiSpirito’s “Pound a Day Diet.”

On paper, it sounds great. Lose a pound a day on what he calls “metabolic fasting” (the theory is that your metabolism won’t turn to sludge if you intersperse low calorie days with higher calorie days). While on the diet, you eat delicious food that only takes a few minutes and a handful of ingredients to make, with recipes based on the “Mediterranean diet,” including lots of protein, vegetables, and moderate carbohydrates. Here’s why it works: “Pound a Day” dieters are restricted to 850 calories per day on weekdays and 1200 calories on weekends, consumed in frequent, small meals. Yes, you will lose weight. But you might lose your health and well being too.

While the “Pound a Day Diet” sounds like the perfect quick-fix to all your weight-loss problems, there’s a reason health professionals don’t recommend going below 1200 calories a day. Several reasons, in fact.

The Real Consequences of Rapid Weight Loss

  • At less than 1000 calories a day, it’s nearly impossible to get the vitamins, protein and minerals your body needs to avoid malnutrition.
  • At less than 100 calories, your body shifts from active calorie-burning mode into calorie-storing mode, effectively shutting down your metabolism.
  • When your metabolism shuts down, you’ll feel tired and lethargic, even if you eat “snacks” throughout the day. Your body just doesn’t have enough fuel.
  • Your body will start to burn muscle, not fat. This has mental, as well as physical, effects, such as: confusion, anxiety, depression, and memory loss.

Personally, I think the “Pound a Day” plan needs to add 200 to 400 calories in order to be nutritionally sound and safe. No, you may not lose weight as fast, but you’ll be better off for it. In fact, supplementing this diet with a couple mason jars of good, green juice might be just the thing to replenish missing nutrients. And don’t forget a handful of nuts – good fats are important on any diet!

5 Flu-Fighting Superfoods!

Flu fighting superfoods, oranges

Flu season started early this year, with swine flu quickly asserting itself as the dominant strain (it’s a bad one folks!). Experts are encouraging everyone to get the flu vaccine this year (which they do every year), but I know there are quite a few people who won’t. If you’re not keen on the flu shot, then you’ll need to boost your immunity every way you can. Get enough sleep, get enough sun, and get enough of these five superfoods.

Catch some Catechins with Green Tea

Catechins are specific antioxidants that help prevent viruses – and reduce sick time if you’ve caught a bug already. Green tea is one of the best sources, but also cocoa, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, apples and pears.

Guard Yourself with Garlic
Studies have shown that when people take a garlic supplement for at least 12 weeks, they caught fewer colds – which may be because no one wanted to go near them! All jokes aside, garlic does have potent antioxidants and antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties. The Flu, however, is a virus, and won’t be affected with antibiotics. However- garlic is also high in Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system no matter what your body is fighting.

Savor the Immune System Boost from Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes aren’t just high in vitamin C, but also in vitamin A – which supports mucus membranes, like those in your nose and throat. These membranes are your first line of defense against bacteria and invading viruses, so when your diet strengthens them, you’ll stay healthier.

Support the 70 Percent
Seventy percent of your immune system is in your gut, and the best way to support your health there is through the probiotics found in yogurt, tempeh, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Curb Illness with Herbs
Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric, and Chili are a powerful combination. Ginger, Chili and Turmeric are anti-inflammatory, while Garlic has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. They can all be found in vegetable-packed Chinese food (time for a stir-fry!) and Indian recipes.

Come by Intelligent Gourmet and ask us to whip up an immune-system-boosting juice just for you! There’s no better way to help your body fight off infection than by helping it heal itself through food!