What’s in a Replacement?

I have been very conscious of the source and quality of the food that I prepare for Diane and I, especially over the last year, having switched to a Low-Carb way-of-eating.  I find the health benefits of this approach far outweigh the cost of better quality foods and the breaking of old eating habits. I have become a fat-burning athlete that doesn’t need continuous high-carb supplements to perform. I’m not hungry all the time, and I get to eat all those great-tasting foods like eggs, bacon, sausage, steaks and green vegetables. It is a  great transition from hunger cravings at 10 am, crashing in the afternoon and always wanting more to eating when I am hungry, controlling my weight without extreme effort, and better overall attitude and motivation.

One of the key ideas of this low-carb approach is that you restrict all carbs (sugars, grains, starches) and focus on getting enough quality protein to support your lean-body mass (LBM). Once you have enough protein, you then eat good fats to satisfy your hunger and provide the remaining calories.   Notice that the only limitation is on the amount of carbs in my diet (<30g / day). Everything else is not restricted (including total calories). For me (LBM ~60 Kg) I should get at least 120g of protein in my diet per day to support my bodies needs, going over is ok, but less than 120g is bad. Eating less proteins  means that my body must take protein from existing tissues to provide the needed amount (i.e. lose muscle).  The amount of fat can vary also… if you don’t eat enough fat to provide enough calories to support your daily calorie expenditure, you will lose weight as you get the required calories from body fat. If you eat more, you will get the calories from your diet and maintain your weight.  See Volek and Phinney “The Art and Science of Low-Carb Performance” and others.  From Volek and Phinney:

How Much Fat
As you adjust your body weight and training intensity, your consumption of carbohydrates and protein will remain fairly stable despite changes in goals and activity levels, whereas how much fat you consume will
be dictated by your energy demands, body weight and composition goals, and satiety.
If you want to lose weight, the total amount of fat consumed will be reduced. If weight loss is not a goal, your dietary fat
needs to be maintained at a level that matches your energy expenditure, thus holding your body weight stable.
The only thing that stands between you and full access to your body fat stores is a brief period of adaptation to a low carbohydrate
diet. We hope it is apparent that a low carbohydrate diet that allows you to optimally access your fat stores and increases mitochondrial fat
oxidation is rational ( AND optimal )
Think about it – if about 20% of your daily energy comes from protein and 5% from carbs, where’s the other 75% of your energy going to come from? The answer, of course, is ‘fat’. ( AND ) Yes, when you are losing weight (i.e., shrinking body fat stores), some of what you burn does not need to be supplied by your diet.

There are plenty of great protein sources out there:   grassfed meats such as beef, pork, chicken, bison, etc.; eggs (nature’s perfect food); and the occasional snack of nuts (almonds, pistachios).  But how do you get  quick and easy protein into your diet?  One way is a protein shake sometimes referred to as meal-replacment shakes.  There are several products available that make protein shakes— but be careful. The ingredients list on these products doesn’t fit the “real food, healthy food and no diets or quick fixes”  requirement as noted in Dani Stout’s blog “Ancestral-nutrition.com.”  Dani Strong has evaluated several of the more popular protein products. She describes Herbalife as:

the diet recommended by Herbalife is not only unhealthy, but also promotes disease. I mean really, I can’t even count the ingredients in the junk above. Among them are hydrogenated soy, canola and cottonseed oils, margarine, autolyzed yeast extract (also known as MSG), artificial flavors, wheat protein and corn syrup.

( See more at: http://ancestral-nutrition.com/herbalife-is-a-scam/#sthash.CamnAJsI.dpuf)

Looking at the ingredients in Isagenix, Dani Stout notes:

Below are common ingredients found in Isagenix products:

  • rancid vegetable oils
  • gluten
  • soy
  • agave syrup
  • isolated fructose additives
  • fractionated palm kernel oil corn
  • synthetic vitamins and minerals that are not bioavailable

( See more at: http://ancestral-nutrition.com/an-unbiased-review-of-isagenix/#sthash.ZviZT9cg.dpuf)

Heard enough? Maybe not, another popular meal replacement product is from Advocare, Dani Stout notes that there is not much difference between Advocare and the other two. Advocare products contain soy, fructose, sugar, corn syrup, beet syrup, sucralose, inositol, palm kernel oil, vannillin, maltodextrin and the catchall “natural and artificial flavor.”  What is that?! Per Dani Stout:

According to the FDA,

The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants listed in 182.10, 182.20, 182.40, and 182.50 and part 184 of this chapter, and the substances listed in 172.510 of this chapter.

This means that MSG, GMOs and a ton of other sketchy ingredients can be listed as “natural and artificial” flavors.

( See more at: http://ancestral-nutrition.com/an-unbiased-review-of-advocare/#sthash.2PlARRDj.dpuf)

After reading these reviews, I think you’ll choose better. But what is better?

I find for a simple high-protein snack a hard-boiled egg does nicely — easy to bring with you, keeps well and is individually wrapped. Has 6g of protein, 5g of fat and very low carb (.6g) per large egg.  Hammer Nutrition’s Whey powder is also good and free of bad ingredients. There are other whey powders both flavored and unflavored that are good. Look at the ingredients list.

Another good choice is to make your own protein shake. This recipe is easy to make, no artificial anything, no GMO, no processed sugars and less carbs than the commercial products (From Dani Stout, with my changes):

2 Egg yolks (farm raised, antibiotic free) (we raise our own!)

1 Cup whole milk

1 scoop whey isolate powder (such as Hammer Nutrition’s Whey)

2 Tbs Great Lakes Gelatin

Nutrition Facts: Makes 2  ~1/2 cup servings, per serving: 192 calories, 8.7g Fat, 21.1g Protein, 7g Carb.

I will often  make a protein coffee in the morning — 8oz coffee, 1 TBS MCT Oil, 1 Scoop of Hammer Whey, 2 TBS Great Lakes Beef Gelating and a TBS of heavy whipping cream. Mix it all together and you have 244 calories, 20.5g fat, 1.0g Carbs, and 23g protein.  Kind of like a tasty and healthy latte with a kick (but no sugar)! Satisfying and easy to do when you want something quickly.

Here’s to your health!

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