Good morning! Wow, the past few days have been an absolute whirl wind! I spent Thursday-Monday in California for ExpoWest, the biggest natural health and foods expo in the world.

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Basically, it was Disneyland for a health foodie like me Winking smile

I was there with the awesome flapJacked team– and my boo (who also happens to be flapJacked’s newest employee!) and was both excited to represent such a great (and tasty!) company, but also to get to experience the craziness that is ExpoWest.

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And although it was all about natural health food and products, I veered pretty far from sticking to my nutrition plan while traveling.

Exhibit A) I crossed off “Eat at In-N-Out” off of my eating bucket list.

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Yes, I’m a nerd. The people next to us in line told us that we were clearly from out of town as we donned hats and carefully recited our orders (2 by 1, protein style; fries animal style…I have no idea.)

So this week, I’m very much looking forward to eating whole, real, nutritious food again as a change from a billion samples of protein bars, gluten-free pizza, and a bajillion varieties of popcorn.

It’s been glorious to eat real, whole food again, and that brings me to today’s topic:  5 general nutrition guidelines to follow, whether you’re in weight loss or maintenance mode.

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1. Eat protein with every meal and snack.

Then fill the rest with veggies and healthy fat, and then carbs if needed. This change to my diet has made the biggest impact on my health, as I describe why in this post. Following this guideline ensures a high satiety factor, regulated blood sugar and insulin levels, and keeps the metabolism up, as protein takes the most energy for the body to digest.

2. Stay away from foods that don’t spoil after a week or two.

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I’ve previously worded this as “if it doesn’t have a mother or grow from the ground, don’t eat it,” but that can get misconstrued. Foods like apples, chicken, spinach, and avocados can’t stay on the shelf for months upon months without spoiling. With the exception of bottled oils, dried fruits/meats, and some grains, aim to eat foods that can be eaten in their original form, i.e. cherries instead of cherry-flavored yogurt and grapes instead of grape juice concentrate.

3. Eat within 30-60 minutes after waking up.

I’ve mentioned this one quite often on the blog, and I’m 100% certain that there will be some people who read this who don’t agree, and that’s fine. In my experience and opinion, eating upon waking up is still the way to go. It

I know Intermittent Fasting is all the rage right now, but there’s just not enough studies on it to convince me that it’s better than eating more often when it comes to both general health and weight loss. In fact, this study shows that IF is not an effective way to lose weight,  this study concluded that IF caused a transient increase in cholesterol in adults and this one concluded that it induces diabetes and obesity and aggravates atherosclerosis (in mice.)

4. Eat plenty of carbs, but not all the time.

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While I tend to emphasize protein over and over again, I don’t mean to demonize carbohydrates- at all. I love carbs, and I eat them when it’s appropriate for my metabolism. After a moderate-intense workout, I always make sure to have a decent amount of carbs (with some protein.) And we all know that carbohydrates help for getting a good night sleep. Additionally, just as it’s beneficial to eat a carb-heavy meal after a tough workout (a stressor,) I also tend to eat more carbs if I’m under a tight deadline with work, or have more stress one day than another.

5. Stick to these rules 80% of the time if you want to maintain or lose very slowly, and 90% of the time if you want quicker progress.

It really comes down to consistency. A treat here or there is fine, but if your goal is to maintain a physique you’ve worked for or to attain a certain physique, those indulgences should be chosen wisely. Many people really overestimate how much that 10 or 20% of the diet is, where in reality, it’s only a small slice of your weekly nutrition.

For example, let’s say you eat 5 meals a day – that’s 35 meals a week. If you’re following a 90/10 sort of plan, that’s only 3.5 indulgences in a week, maybe a burger one night, some fries another, and a cocktail another.

6. Get rid of any food-related guilt  – and this is probably the most important guideline, if you ask me!

If you didn’t follow the above guidelines (or whatever guidelines you might follow) one week (or 2, or 3) don’t berate yourself with guilt. Food-related guilt isn’t typically healthy or all that motivating, and usually just ends up in a vicious cycle of feeling guilty a lot. If you indulge a little too much, cut yourself a break and remind yourself that when it comes down to it, it’s just food, and then get back to your usual healthy eating.

What are some general nutrition guidelines you try to follow for a healthy lifestyle?

Have you ever been to ExpoWest?

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