Maintaining a healthy weight requires healthy food choices and eating the right amount of fuel or calories to support your fitness and activity level. Focusing on eating fewer calories may seem like the best strategy, but you may need more fuel than you think.
You may need more fuel if you have recently increased your activity level, have a daily practice of fasting, have been told you need to build muscle mass, or know you are underweight.
Many people have incorporated intermittent fasting, which can reduce inflammation by limiting fuel consumption to a specific time of day. But giving up a meal can be a missed opportunity for fuel, protein, and precious phytochemicals necessary for inflammation control. Similarly, a common flaw of weight loss diets is skimping on calories. Too few calories usually mean too few nutrients which can result in an energy shortage and degrade workouts. If you need to gain weight, nutrient, and calorie-dense meals are necessary to meet your increased needs. It may sound contradictory, but nutrition science uses the same principle to support weight loss and weight gain. Make high-nutrition quality choices with a few adjustments to meet the needs of these seemingly opposite goals.
The Breakfast Burrito offered by Chef Reyna this month is an excellent example of combining food as medicine in a fuel-dense format. Traditional chorizo, high in saturated fat, is replaced with plant-based chorizo full of fiber and antioxidant-containing herbs. It is also a great way to get healthy Omega 3 fat from almonds and olive oil to balance the saturated fat from eggs. Eggs are a great protein choice. Did you know eggs also provide lutein, vitamin B12, iron, choline, vitamin D, and selenium? If you prefer a 100% plant-based version, swap in beans for the eggs. You can check all the boxes to fuel your day by delivering both slow and fast-burning carbs with protein and healthy fat.
If you need to gain or maintain weight, incorporating a high-nutrient and fuel-dense meal like this can be essential. If you are trying to lose weight, focus on nutrient density while keeping fat and simple carbs in check. For example, skip the tortilla and assemble the recipe in a bowl. Whatever your health goals, making time to prepare nutritious meals will make a world of difference in your health.
Linda is the founder of Nutrition Muse and current Director of Nutrition at Lifewellness Institute in Point Loma, CA, where she is responsible for patient clinical care and corporate wellness education for local and international corporations. Using the premise that ‘every molecule in your body is sourced from food’, she focuses on food as the foundation for health and supports her clients through lifestyle changes to make the most impact on health.