สิ่งประดิษฐ์ง่ายๆของนักศึกษาวิทยาลัยช่วยให้พยาบาลทำงานและผู้ป่วยได้พักผ่อน

ระหว่างเปลี่ยนวันที่โรงพยาบาลแห่งมหาวิทยาลัยเพนซิลเวเนียแอนโธนีสการ์โปน – แลมเบิร์ตก้าวเข้าไปในห้องพักผู้ป่วย ไฟดับ แต่เขารู้ว่าเขาต้องเปลี่ยน IV โดยไม่รบกวนผู้ป่วย

เขามีทางเลือกสองทางคือเปิดไฟเหนือศีรษะหรือพยายามใช้ไฟมือถือเพื่อนำทางในความมืด

มันเป็นปัญหาที่กลืนไม่เข้าคายไม่ออกที่เขาพยายามแก้ไขโดยการคิดค้นสิ่งที่เขาและผู้ร่วมก่อตั้งเรียกว่า ยูไนท์ไลท์ไดโอดเปล่งแสงที่สวมใส่ได้หรือ LED ที่ช่วยให้พยาบาลส่องสว่างในพื้นที่ทำงานได้โดยไม่รบกวนการนอนหลับของผู้ป่วย

นายสการ์โปน – แลมเบิร์ตและผู้ร่วมก่อตั้ง Jennifferre Mancillasกำลังเรียกแสงสว่างว่าเป็นความก้าวหน้าสำหรับเจ้าหน้าที่ดูแลสุขภาพแนวหน้า

“ เราภูมิใจในตัวเองที่ได้รับการออกแบบมาโดยเฉพาะสำหรับสภาพแวดล้อมทางคลินิก” Mr. Scarpone-Lambert อายุ 21 ปีผู้อาวุโสจากมหาวิทยาลัยเพนซิลเวเนียกล่าวซึ่งได้พบกับ Ms.Mancillas วัย 36 ปีในปี 2019 ที่ แฮ็กกา ธ อน ได้รับการสนับสนุนจาก Johnson & Johnson ที่สนับสนุนให้พยาบาลร่วมมือกันแก้ปัญหาการดูแลสุขภาพ

พวกเขาสามารถจัดหาเงินทุนให้กับผลิตภัณฑ์ซึ่งผ่านต้นแบบและการทำซ้ำ 30 แบบด้วยเงินช่วยเหลือและเงินส่วนตัวตลอดจนเงินทุนจากตัวเร่งการเริ่มต้นและรางวัล Ms. Mancillas กล่าว จากการเริ่มต้นของพวกเขา Lumify Care ทั้งคู่ระดมทุนได้ประมาณ 50,000 ดอลลาร์

บนหน้าปัด uNight Light ซึ่งขายปลีกในราคา $ 22 อาจดูไม่แตกต่างจากไฟพกพาอื่น ๆ เช่นที่นักปั่นจักรยานและนักวิ่งใช้ อย่างไรก็ตามมันมีคุณสมบัติที่แตกต่างจากคนอื่น ๆ ในตลาดรวมถึงโหมดแสงที่แตกต่างกัน – สีน้ำเงินสีแดงและสีขาว แสงสีฟ้าสามารถช่วยส่งเสริมความตื่นตัวนาย Scarpone-Lambert กล่าว

“ แสงสีแดงของคุณสามารถใช้เพื่อขยายการมองเห็นหลักของคุณได้” เขากล่าว “ และยังก่อกวนน้อยกว่าแสงสีขาวสว่างอีกด้วย แสงสีขาวสามารถใช้ในการประเมินทางทันตกรรมและหากคุณต้องการดูบางอย่างอย่างใกล้ชิดมากขึ้นเช่นเลือดหรือของเหลว”

การศึกษาบางชิ้นแสดงให้เห็นว่าสีแดงสามารถกระตุ้นปฏิกิริยาการต่อสู้หรือการบินของบุคคลและการตอบสนองทางจิตใจเช่นความกลัวหรือความวิตกกังวลซึ่งทำให้ร่างกายรู้สึกตื่นตัวมากขึ้นตาม Mariana G. Figueiroอดีตผู้อำนวยการศูนย์วิจัยแสงสว่างของ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute อย่างไรก็ตามจำเป็นต้องมีการวิจัยเพิ่มเติม

แสงสีแดงซึ่งมีความยาวคลื่นยาวสามารถช่วยส่งเสริมความตื่นตัวในขณะที่แสงสีน้ำเงินซึ่งมีความยาวคลื่นสั้นกว่ามีแนวโน้มที่จะทำเช่นเดียวกันในขณะเดียวกันก็ระงับ เมลาโทนินซึ่งเป็นฮอร์โมนที่ช่วยควบคุมการนอนหลับเธอกล่าว

เครดิต…David Maialetti / The Philadelphia Inquirer

2019 การศึกษาของมหาวิทยาลัย Thomas Jefferson กล่าวว่าร้อยละ 44 ของพยาบาลให้การดูแลในความมืดเกือบตลอดเวลาและแสงไฟของโรงพยาบาลอาจส่งผลเสียต่อจังหวะการทำงานของผู้ป่วย

นางแมนซิลลาสซึ่งทำงานเป็นพยาบาลในหอผู้ป่วยหนักทารกแรกเกิดที่โรงพยาบาลเด็กวัลเล่ย์ในมาเดรารัฐแคลิฟอร์เนียกล่าวว่าเมื่อเร็ว ๆ นี้เธอได้ตรวจท่อหายใจของทารกโดยใช้แสงยูไนท์โดยไม่ต้องควานหาปากกา

“ มันเป็นเครื่องมือที่คุณไม่รู้ว่าคุณต้องการจนกว่ามันจะถูกต้องบนสครับของคุณและคุณก็ชอบว่า ‘โอ้ยยยยยยยยยยยยยยยยยยยยย “ มันทำให้ชีวิตง่ายขึ้นมาก”

Isis Reyes แพทย์พยาบาลในหออภิบาลการผ่าตัดหัวใจที่ Rush University Medical Center ในชิคาโกกล่าวว่าผู้ป่วยบ่นว่าถูกรบกวนในเวลากลางคืนเนื่องจากพยาบาลให้ยาตรวจร่างกายหรือตรวจสอบเครื่อง

“ ฉันมีเพื่อนร่วมงานคนหนึ่งที่จะสวมไฟกลางคืนแบบที่นักวิ่งใช้บนหน้าผากของเขา” Ms. “ เขาจะใส่แบบนั้นตอนกลางคืนจริงๆและมันก็ตลกดีนะเพราะมีพยาบาลบางคนที่พูดว่า ‘โอ้ยยยไอ้หมอนี่มันเกินไปแล้ว’ แต่มันก็ใช้ได้ผลกับเขา”

สำหรับ Rebecca Love ประธานของ สมาคมนักวิทยาศาสตร์พยาบาลนักนวัตกรรมผู้ประกอบการและผู้นำuNight Light แสดงให้เห็นถึงความจำเป็นที่พยาบาลจะถูกมองว่าเป็นผู้นำด้านนวัตกรรมการดูแลสุขภาพซึ่งเป็นบทบาทที่เธอกล่าวว่ามักถูกสงวนไว้สำหรับแพทย์เนื่องจากโครงสร้างกำลังที่เป็นระบบ

นักประดิษฐ์กล่าวว่าพยาบาลมากกว่า 400 คนได้ทดสอบแสง uNight Light และมากกว่า 90 เปอร์เซ็นต์กล่าวว่ามีประโยชน์ พวกเขาได้รับคำสั่งซื้อ 1,500 รายการและจะเริ่มจัดส่งในเดือนหน้า

การระบาดของโรคซึ่งได้ครอบงำโรงพยาบาลเป็นการตอกย้ำถึงความต้องการอุปกรณ์ดังกล่าวนาย Scarpone-Lambert กล่าวและกระตุ้นให้เขาและ Ms.Mancillas นำอุปกรณ์ดังกล่าวออกสู่ตลาด

“ ฉันจะบอกว่ามันเป็นเรื่องของโควิดที่ทำให้นวัตกรรมประเภทนี้มีชีวิตขึ้นมา” เขากล่าว “มัน เน้นย้ำถึงข้อความสำคัญที่เจ้าหน้าที่ดูแลสุขภาพและผู้ป่วยระดับแนวหน้าสมควรได้รับการสนับสนุนมากขึ้นกว่าเดิม”

ทำไมบางคนที่ได้รับการฉีดวัคซีนยังคงได้รับ Coronavirus

รายงานที่กระจัดกระจายจากทั่วประเทศสามารถเล่นได้เหมือนการประชดอย่างโหดร้าย: มีคนตรวจพบเชื้อไวรัสโคโรนาในเชิงบวกแม้ว่าพวกเขาจะได้รับวัคซีนโควิด -19 หนึ่งหรือทั้งสองเข็ม

เมื่อเร็ว ๆ นี้เกิดขึ้นกับสมาชิกสภาคองเกรสอย่างน้อยสามคน:

แต่มีรายงานในคนในกลุ่มชีวิตอื่น ๆ ด้วยเช่น Rick Pitino, a โค้ชบาสเก็ตบอล Hall of Fameและ พยาบาลในแคลิฟอร์เนีย.

ผู้เชี่ยวชาญกล่าวว่ากรณีเช่นนี้ไม่น่าแปลกใจและไม่ได้ระบุว่ามีบางอย่างผิดปกติกับวัคซีนหรือวิธีการฉีดวัคซีน นี่คือเหตุผล

  • วัคซีนไม่ทำงานทันที ร่างกายใช้เวลาสองสามสัปดาห์ในการสร้างภูมิคุ้มกันหลังจากได้รับยา และวัคซีนที่ใช้ในสหรัฐอเมริกาตอนนี้จากไฟเซอร์ – ไบโอเอ็นเทคและโมเดิร์นน่าต้องใช้การฉีดวัคซีนครั้งที่สองสองสามสัปดาห์หลังจากครั้งแรกเพื่อให้ได้ประสิทธิผลเต็มที่

  • และไม่ทำงานย้อนหลัง คุณสามารถติดเชื้อได้แล้วและไม่รู้ตัวเมื่อได้รับวัคซีนแม้ว่าคุณจะเพิ่งทดสอบผลลบก็ตาม การติดเชื้อนั้นสามารถพัฒนาต่อไปได้หลังจากที่คุณได้รับการยิง แต่ก่อนที่การป้องกันจะหยุดลงอย่างสมบูรณ์จากนั้นจึงปรากฏในผลการทดสอบที่เป็นบวก

  • วัคซีนป้องกันการเจ็บป่วย แต่อาจไม่ใช่การติดเชื้อ วัคซีนโควิดกำลังได้รับอนุญาตโดยพิจารณาจากความสามารถในการป้องกันไม่ให้คุณเจ็บป่วยต้องเข้ารับการรักษาในโรงพยาบาลและเสียชีวิต นักวิทยาศาสตร์ยังไม่รู้ว่าวัคซีนมีประสิทธิภาพเพียงใดในการป้องกันไม่ให้ไวรัสโคโรนาแพร่เชื้อให้คุณเริ่มต้นด้วยหรือป้องกันไม่ให้คุณส่งต่อไปยังผู้อื่น (นั่นเป็นเหตุผลว่าทำไม ผู้ที่ได้รับวัคซีนควรสวมหน้ากากอนามัย และรักษาระยะห่างทางสังคม)

  • แม้แต่วัคซีนที่ดีที่สุดก็ยังไม่สมบูรณ์แบบ อัตราประสิทธิภาพของวัคซีน Pfizer-BioNTech และ Moderna นั้นสูงมาก แต่ก็ไม่ถึง 100 เปอร์เซ็นต์ เนื่องจากไวรัสยังคงแพร่กระจายอย่างไม่สามารถควบคุมได้ในสหรัฐอเมริกาผู้คนหลายล้านคนที่เพิ่งได้รับการฉีดวัคซีนจะต้องติดเชื้อไม่ว่าในกรณีใด ๆ

การเปลี่ยนแปลงสภาพภูมิอากาศอาจส่งผลต่อสุขภาพของคุณอย่างไร

อนิจจาดร. แจ็คสันศาสตราจารย์กิตติคุณแห่งมหาวิทยาลัยแคลิฟอร์เนียลอสแองเจลิสกล่าว“ มนุษย์ตอบสนองเฉพาะสิ่งที่เป็นภัยคุกคามต่อพวกเขาในขณะนี้ ตอนนี้ชาวแคลิฟอร์เนียตระหนักมากขึ้น – ไฟดังกล่าวได้รับความสนใจจากผู้คน” ฤดูไฟป่าอยู่ในขณะนี้ เริ่มต้นเร็วกว่ามากและสิ้นสุดในภายหลังอันเป็นผลมาจากสภาพอากาศที่ร้อนขึ้นทีมวิจัยระหว่างประเทศรายงานใน The New England Journal of Medicine ในเดือนพฤศจิกายน

ดร. ฟรัมคินศาสตราจารย์กิตติคุณแห่งมหาวิทยาลัยวอชิงตันบอกกับฉันว่า“ ผู้คนจำนวนมากที่ไม่คิดว่าการเปลี่ยนแปลงสภาพภูมิอากาศเป็นปัญหาสำคัญเมื่อเทียบกับตัวเองจะให้ความสำคัญกับปัญหานี้อย่างจริงจังเมื่อพวกเขารู้ว่ามันเป็นปัญหาด้านสุขภาพ ตัวอย่างเช่นคลื่นความร้อนไม่เพียง แต่คร่าชีวิตผู้คน แต่ยังลดความสามารถในการทำงานคุณภาพการนอนหลับและผลการเรียนในเด็กด้วย”

“ สภาพอากาศที่เปลี่ยนแปลงของเราจะส่งผลกระทบต่อสุขภาพของผู้คนมากขึ้นเมื่อเวลาผ่านไป” ดร. แจ็คสันกล่าว คนทุกวัยจะเกิดอาการแพ้ทางเดินหายใจและผู้ที่เป็นโรคภูมิแพ้อยู่แล้วอาจคาดหวังว่าอาการเหล่านี้จะแย่ลงเนื่องจากพืชและต้นไม้ตอบสนองต่อสภาพอากาศที่อบอุ่นและปล่อยสารก่อภูมิแพ้ในสถานที่ต่างๆมากขึ้นและเป็นเวลานานขึ้น

โรคติดเชื้อที่เกิดจากเห็บยุงและพาหะอื่น ๆ ก็เพิ่มขึ้นตามสภาพอากาศที่ร้อนขึ้น แม้อุณหภูมิที่เพิ่มขึ้นเพียงเล็กน้อยในเขตหนาวก็เพิ่มโอกาสในการแพร่ระบาดของโรค Lyme ไข้จุดด่างดำของ Rocky Mountain โรคไข้สมองอักเสบและการติดเชื้อที่เกิดจากเห็บอื่น ๆ เช่นเดียวกับโรค West Nile ที่มียุงเป็นพาหะไข้เลือดออกและแม้แต่มาลาเรีย

การเปลี่ยนแปลงสภาพภูมิอากาศเป็นอันตรายต่อความปลอดภัยของอาหารและแหล่งน้ำโดยการส่งเสริมสิ่งมีชีวิตที่ทำให้อาหารเป็นพิษและการปนเปื้อนของจุลินทรีย์ในน้ำดื่ม อุทกภัยและพายุเฮอริเคนสามารถแพร่ระบาดของโรคฉี่หนูได้ เพียงแค่เดินผ่านน้ำท่วมก็สามารถเพิ่มความเสี่ยงของการติดเชื้อแบคทีเรียในเลือดได้ 15 เท่า

สิ่งเหล่านี้เป็นเพียงแค่ความเสี่ยงด้านสุขภาพที่เชื่อมโยงกับภาวะโลกร้อน พวกเขามีความกว้างขวางและต้องการความพยายามทั้งทางสังคมและส่วนบุคคลเพื่อลด ใช่สังคมกำลังเปลี่ยนแปลงแม้ว่าจะช้า ฝ่ายบริหาร Biden ได้เข้าร่วมข้อตกลงเกี่ยวกับสภาพภูมิอากาศของปารีสอีกครั้ง General Motors ผู้ผลิตรถยนต์รายใหญ่ที่สุดของประเทศประกาศว่าจะ อุทิศตัวเองให้กับยานยนต์ไฟฟ้า และโครงการด้านพลังงานสีเขียวอื่น ๆ และ Ford, Volkswagen และอื่น ๆ กำลังทำเช่นเดียวกัน

เกรงว่าคุณจะรู้สึกว่าไม่สามารถสร้างความแตกต่างได้ฉันขอแนะนำขั้นตอนบางอย่างที่เราหลายคนทำได้เพื่อช่วยรับประกันอนาคตที่ดีต่อสุขภาพสำหรับทุกคน

กรณีของผู้บริจาคอสุจิแบบอนุกรม

ยิ่งไปกว่านั้นไม่เหมือนกับธนาคารสเปิร์มในเนเธอร์แลนด์ซึ่งห้ามการบริจาคโดยไม่ระบุชื่อธนาคารสเปิร์มระหว่างประเทศมักจะลงทะเบียนผู้บริจาคภายใต้นามแฝงหรือหมายเลข นอกจากนี้พวกเขายังพึ่งพาลูกค้าในการแจ้งการเกิดของลูกด้วยความสมัครใจเมื่อติดตามลูกหลานของผู้บริจาคอสุจิและการนับจำนวนนั้นไม่ถูกต้อง และไม่มีทะเบียนระหว่างประเทศของผู้บริจาคสเปิร์มดังนั้นผู้รับจึงไม่มีวิธีง่ายๆในการรู้ว่าผู้บริจาคของเธออาจบริจาคมาจากที่อื่นหรือมีพี่น้องลูกครึ่งกี่คน

นางเดอบัวร์กล่าวว่าเธอได้ติดต่อกับแม่ที่มีลูกโดยนายเมเยอร์ในออสเตรเลียอิตาลีเซอร์เบียยูเครนเยอรมนีโปแลนด์ฮังการีสวิตเซอร์แลนด์โรมาเนียเดนมาร์กสวีเดนเม็กซิโกและสหรัฐอเมริกา หลายคนติดต่อกับแม่ชาวดัตช์สองคนซึ่งเป็นเพื่อนของ Ms. van Ewijk และพวกเขาได้ยืนยันบัญชีของตนกับนักข่าวคนนี้

หญิงชาวเยอรมันคนหนึ่งบอกกับ The Times ว่าเธอได้รับสเปิร์มของ Mr. Meijer ผ่าน Cryos; แม้ว่าเขาจะบริจาคภายใต้นามแฝง แต่เธอก็สามารถคิดชื่อจริงของเขาได้ ในปี 2019 เธอได้รับจดหมายจาก Cryos โดยแจ้งว่าผู้บริจาคของเธอ“ ได้บริจาคในประเทศนอกเดนมาร์กดังนั้นจึงละเมิดสัญญาที่เขามีกับ Cryos เพื่อบริจาคให้กับธนาคารสเปิร์มของเราโดยเฉพาะ”

จดหมายเสริมว่า“ ซึ่งหมายความว่าผู้บริจาคได้รับการกล่าวหาว่าตั้งครรภ์ได้มากกว่าการตั้งครรภ์ที่ลงทะเบียนในระบบของเรา” บริษัท ยังแจ้งเจ้าหน้าที่สาธารณสุขของเดนมาร์กด้วยจดหมายดังกล่าวและได้หยุดแจกจ่ายน้ำเชื้อของเขา

ในอีเมลนาย Meijer กล่าวว่าเขาจำไม่ได้ว่าถูกบอกว่าเขาถูกห้ามไม่ให้บริจาคที่คลินิกอื่น ๆ :“ คลินิกทำการตรวจคัดกรองและสัมภาษณ์ด้านสุขภาพและพันธุศาสตร์อย่างเข้มข้นและฉันก็ผ่านมันทั้งหมด แต่ฉันจำขั้นตอนนี้ไม่ได้อย่างชัดเจน เกี่ยวกับมัน.” ในอีเมลฉบับที่สองเขากล่าวว่า“ ไม่มีข้อตกลงที่เข้มงวดระหว่างธนาคารสเปิร์ม (จนถึงไม่นานมานี้) เพื่อตรวจสอบว่าผู้บริจาคไม่ได้บริจาคที่อื่นหรือไม่”

เมื่อได้รับความคิดเห็น Peter Reeslev ผู้บริหารระดับสูงของ Cryos ยืนยันว่าผู้บริจาค Cryos ไม่สามารถลงทะเบียนได้โดยไม่ต้องตระหนักถึงประโยคพิเศษ “ ไม่” เขาเขียนในอีเมล “ ผู้บริจาคลงนามและให้คำมั่นสัญญาว่าจะไม่บริจาคในสถานประกอบการเนื้อเยื่ออื่น ๆ นอกเหนือจาก Cryos ก่อนหน้านี้และห้ามบริจาคสเปิร์มให้กับธนาคารสเปิร์ม / ศูนย์เนื้อเยื่ออื่น ๆ ในอนาคตด้วย”

เขากล่าวเสริมว่า“ ในระดับทั่วไป Cryos แยกตัวเองออกจากการบริจาคอสุจิต่อเนื่องในรูปแบบใด ๆ เนื่องจากความสำคัญของโควต้าการตั้งครรภ์ไม่เกินชาติ” ในแต่ละประเทศที่พวกเขาส่งสเปิร์มไป

Your Essential Guide for Optimal Health

It’s not breaking news that vitamins and minerals are essential to good health.

Most of us have been told that since we were in diapers.

Heck, even Lucky Charms brags about being “fortified with 12 essential vitamins and minerals.” So they must be important!

But why, exactly?

How many vitamins and minerals are there, and what do they actually do? What foods contain them? And if you have a deficiency, how do you know?

Also, is there more nutrition in a grape-flavored Fred Flinstone chewable vitamin than in an orange-flavored Wilma?

(No.)

We’ve got your answers.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What vitamins and minerals are
  • Why we need them to stay healthy
  • How you absorb and use them

Plus, we’ll give you a complete list of all the vitamins and minerals, what they do, how much you need, signs of deficiency, and what foods to get them from.

If you’re only interested in a specific vitamin or mineral, use the list below to jump right to it.

Otherwise, scroll on by these quick links, and we’ll dive into everything you need to know about vitamins and minerals.

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What are vitamins and minerals?

We know that vitamins and minerals come from our diet and also supplements, but what are they?

Well, they’re molecules. Or—in the case of minerals—elements.

But there are also a few other (more practical) things we know…

Vitamins and minerals prevent disease, but also help us feel energetic and healthy.

Years ago, medical professionals noticed that certains symptoms and diseases seemed to be directly related to food intake.

Some people got sick even when they were eating adequate calories and protein while others didn’t. Scientists determined that the types of food people ate—or more accurately, didn’t—seemed to be the difference.

The most famous example (which you’ve no doubt heard before):  Sailors on long sea voyages were prone to developing scurvy—unless they ate citrus fruit. Turns out, all it took was the occasional lemon slice to keep their bleeding gums at bay.

From that and other examples, scientists reasoned that there must be important compounds in foods that prevent—and perhaps even cure—diseases.

These compounds were vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and minerals come from food (and maybe supplements).

Some nutrients can be created in the body—for example, some of the B vitamins can be made by bacteria in the gut—but some can’t.

So we have to get our vitamin and mineral requirements from nutritious foods (or supplements), eaten regularly.

Whole, minimally-processed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, dairy, and animal proteins are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Our bodies rely on them to support normal physical functions like digestion, reproduction, growth, and energy production.1,2

If you don’t consume enough of a vitamin or mineral, you’ll develop a deficiency.

Sometimes, if diet quality or calorie intake is low, or digestion and absorption is compromised, we don’t get enough of a vitamin or mineral to meet our body’s needs.

If this goes on long enough, we can develop a deficiency.

Specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies will cause specific symptoms (more on that below), and can even cause or exacerbate chronic health conditions.  

Nutrient deficiencies are common. Over 30 percent of Americans have some kind of micronutrient deficiency.3

That’s a clinical deficiency we’re talking about. Clinical deficiencies are often the endpoint of a prolonged vitamin or mineral insufficiency and usually have pretty obvious symptoms.

However, milder forms of deficiency, often of multiple micronutrients, are much more common.4,5 These milder forms of deficiency are called subclinical deficiencies.

For example, it’s estimated that about 20 percent of the world has a subclinical magnesium deficiency. In certain populations—like people with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes—it might be as high as 75 percent.6

Subclinical deficiencies are harder to recognize, as they don’t always have clear, predictable symptoms. But it’s likely that suboptimal levels of any vitamin or mineral—or multiple micronutrients—will have negative effects on the body. (Even if there’s no obvious outward symptoms.)

Here are the most common deficiencies in the US, according to the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)7:

Micronutrient Prevalence of Clinical Deficiency
Vitamin B6 11% of the total population
Iron 10% of females aged 12-49, and 7% of children aged 1-5
Vitamin D 9% of the total population (31% of non-hispanic Blacks)
Vitamin C 6% of people over the age of 6
Vitamin B12 2% of the total population

What’s more, deficiencies are particularly common among certain populations:

  • The elderly, who may have trouble preparing, chewing, or digesting foods
  • Women (aged 19-50), particularly if pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Athletes, who have higher nutrient requirements because of the extra demands on their body
  • People with darker skin tones, who may be particularly at risk for vitamin D deficiency8 (overall, many people—about 24 percent of Americans9, 37 percent of Canadians10, and 40 percent of Europeans11—have suboptimal levels of vitamin D12)
  • Chronic dieters or people who struggle with disordered eating, due to restricting specific food groups or calories overall
  • People with lower socioeconomic status, who may have challenges accessing fresh, nutritious foods

So, now that we know how important vitamins and minerals are, let’s find out more about what each nutrient does, and which foods contain them.

(If you want to jump over the details here, and get to practical advice for optimizing your vitamin and mineral intake, go ahead and click here.)

Vitamins

Vitamins serve a variety of roles in the body. One of the most important things they do is when they act as coenzymes.

Coenzymes enhance the action of enzymes and help carry out reactions in the body, for example, contracting a muscle.

Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed with dietary fat. If we don’t eat enough dietary fat, we don’t properly absorb these vitamins. That’s why a very low-fat diet can lead to deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins.

We can excrete fat-soluble vitamins through our poop, but we can also store them in our fatty tissues. Fatty tissues include things like body fat stores, but also cell membranes, which are made up of fat. Because we store them, we don’t necessarily have to eat these vitamins every day.

Water-soluble vitamins don’t require fat to be absorbed. However, they’re also generally not stored in high amounts in the body and can be excreted in the urine. As a result, we need to eat them more often.

Water-soluble vitamins

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 is involved in producing energy, as well as synthesizing DNA and RNA, the nucleic acids that carry our genetic material.

Vitamin B1 Deficiency: Symptoms include burning feet, weakness in extremities, rapid heart rate, swelling, lack of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and digestive problems.

Toxicity: None known.

Vitamin B1 Food Sources: Sunflower seeds, asparagus, lettuce, mushrooms, black beans, navy beans, lentils, spinach, peas, pinto beans, lima beans, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, tuna, whole wheat, soybeans

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 helps produce red blood cells and metabolize toxins in the liver. (It’s also what turns your pee bright yellow when you take a multivitamin!)

Vitamin B2 Deficiency: Symptoms include cracks, fissures and sores at corner of mouth and lips, dermatitis, conjunctivitis, light sensitivity (photophobia), inflammation in the mouth, anxiety, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Toxicity: Very rare. Excess supplementation can cause liver damage.

Vitamin B2 Food Sources: Almonds, soybeans / tempeh, mushrooms, spinach, whole wheat, yogurt, mackerel, eggs, liver

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 plays a role in repairing DNA, keeping nerves healthy, and controlling cholesterol levels.

Vitamin B3 Deficiency: Symptoms include dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and inflammation of the stomach.

Toxicity: Very rare from foods. Supplemental nicotinic acid (a form of niacin) may cause skin flushing, itching, impaired glucose tolerance and digestive upset. Taking high doses for months at a time can cause liver cell damage.

Vitamin B3 Food Sources: Mushrooms, asparagus, peanuts, brown rice, corn, green leafy vegetables, sweet potato, potato, lentil, barley, carrots, almonds, celery, turnips, peaches, chicken meat, tuna, salmon

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

Vitamin B5 helps to form acetyl-CoA, an important molecule involved in energy production. It also helps keep skin healthy.

Vitamin B5 Deficiency: Very unlikely. Only in severe malnutrition may one notice tingling in feet.

Toxicity: Possible nausea, heartburn, and diarrhea with high-dose supplements.

Vitamin B5 Food Sources: Broccoli, lentils, split peas, avocado, whole wheat, mushrooms, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, eggs, squash, strawberries, liver

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is involved in glycogen breakdown, nervous and immune system function, and the formation of neurotransmitters and steroid hormones.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency: Symptoms include inflammation of the skin and digestive system, sleeplessness, confusion, nervousness, depression, irritability, and anemia.

Toxicity: High doses of supplemental vitamin B6 may result in painful neurological symptoms.

Vitamin B6 Food Sources: Whole wheat, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, potato, garbanzo beans, banana, trout, spinach, walnuts, peanut butter, tuna, salmon, lima beans, chicken

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Vitamin B7 is involved in energy production, as well as DNA replication and transcription.

Biotin Deficiency: Very rare in humans. Note that raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that binds to biotin and prevents its absorption. Regularly eating raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency.

Toxicity: Not known.

Biotin Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, most nuts, whole-grain breads, avocado, raspberries, cauliflower, carrots, papaya, banana, salmon, eggs

Vitamin B9 (Folate / Folic acid)

Folate helps to form new proteins and is also involved in fetal development.

Folate refers to the naturally occurring form found in foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin, used in most supplements and fortified foods.

Vitamin B9 Deficiency: Anemia (macrocytic / megaloblastic), low white blood cells (leukopenia), low blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), weakness, weight loss, cracking and redness of the tongue and mouth, and diarrhea. In pregnancy, there is a risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery, and neural tube defects.13

Toxicity: None from food. Large doses of supplemental folic acid can mask an underlying vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B9 Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains, green peas, avocado, peanuts, organ meats

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is involved in DNA synthesis, and also helps to form and maintain healthy blood and nerve cells. Vitamin B12 needs “intrinsic factor” (a compound secreted by the stomach during digestion) to be absorbed. We can store decades worth of this vitamin in our body—but it should still be consumed regularly.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Symptoms include pernicious anemia, neurological problems, mouth inflammation. Strict vegans and plant-based eaters may be more at risk.14

Toxicity: Extremely rare, even with supplementation. Only a small amount is absorbed orally, thus the potential for toxicity is low.

Vitamin B12 Food Sources: Liver, trout, salmon, tuna, haddock, egg, dairy. Vitamin B12 isn’t found in plant foods.

Choline

Choline is a nutrient often grouped together with the B vitamins. It’s involved in building cell membranes and neurotransmitters (like acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter for muscle impulses). It may also help lower inflammation.

Choline Deficiency: Symptoms include problems with thinking and memory, muscle and nervous tissue damage, or even liver and kidney disease.

Toxicity: Toxicity is rare from food, but excess supplementation may lead to low blood pressure.

Choline Food Sources: Colorful fruits and veggies, organ meats

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C is probably most famous for its role in supporting the immune system. However, it also helps build collagen, keeping skin and joints healthy; synthesize norepinephrine, an adrenal hormone; and metabolize cholesterol.

Vitamin C Deficiency: Symptoms include bruising, lethargy, dental cavities, tissue swelling, dry hair, skin, and eyes, bleeding and infected gums, hair loss, joint pain, delayed wound healing, and bone fragility. Long-term deficiency results in scurvy.

Toxicity: Possible problems with very large vitamin C doses include diarrhea and a higher risk of kidney stones.

Vitamin C Food Sources: Most (fresh, raw) colorful fruits and vegetables

Fat-soluble vitamins

Vitamin A (Retinoids and carotenoids)

The vitamin A family includes animal sources (retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid) and plant sources (carotenoids). They help maintain eye health, and support immune function and wound healing.

Vitamin A Deficiency: Difficulty seeing in dim light and rough/dry skin.

Toxicity: Hypervitaminosis A is caused by consuming excessive amounts of preformed vitamin A (found in supplements but also in animal products, like liver). Preformed vitamin A is rapidly absorbed and slowly cleared from the body. Nausea, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, dizziness, and dry skin can result. Excess intake while pregnant can cause birth defects. Carotenoid toxicity is rare.

Vitamin A Food Sources: Liver, egg yolks, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, squash, cantaloupe, bell pepper, beets

Vitamin D (Ergocalciferol / cholecalciferol)

Vitamin D is actually a group of prohormones (hormone precursors). The plant form of vitamin D is called ergocalciferol (vitamin D₂) and the animal form is called cholecalciferol (vitamin D₃). Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, immune system function, and regulating glucose tolerance.

Vitamin D Deficiency: In children a vitamin D deficiency can result in rickets, deformed bones, delayed growth, and soft teeth. In adults a vitamin D deficiency can result in low bone density and tooth decay. People with darker skin are at higher risk of deficiency.

Toxicity: We can’t get too much vitamin D from the sun; only excess supplementation. Too much vitamin D will elevate blood calcium levels and may cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, excessive urination, itching, muscle weakness, joint pain, and calcification of soft tissues.

Vitamin D Food Sources: Although it’s not a food, the most available and “natural” source of Vitamin D is from sunlight exposure. It’s also in fortified foods, mushrooms, salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, shrimp, egg yolks, and beef liver.

Learn more about Vitamin D here: All About Vitamin D

Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols)

Vitamin E is not actually a single vitamin, but a family of eight compounds: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. The vitamin E family are potent antioxidants, and are also involved in cell-to-cell communication.

Vitamin E Deficiency: Symptoms include muscle weakness, impaired vision, acne, red blood cell damage, and problems with muscle coordination (ataxia).

Toxicity: There is a potential for impaired blood clotting.

Vitamin E Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, olives, avocado

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a family of vitamins that includes vitamin K₁ (the plant-based form) and vitamin K₂ (the animal-based form). Vitamin K is involved in normal blood clotting and also plays a role in keeping bones healthy.

Vitamin K Deficiency: Tendency to bleed or hemorrhage, and anemia.

Toxicity: May interfere with blood-thinning medications No known toxicity with high doses.

Vitamin K Food Sources: Broccoli, green leafy vegetables, parsley, watercress, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green beans, green peas

Minerals

Our bodies and the foods we eat contain minerals. Most minerals are considered essential (meaning: we need to get them regularly from our diet).

However, certain molecules found in food can change our ability to absorb minerals. This includes compounds like phytates (found in grains) and oxalates (found in spinach and rhubarb), both of which inhibit mineral absorption. Proper cooking can reduce these compounds, and thus, increase mineral absorption.

Minerals are categorized as macrominerals or microminerals.

Macrominerals are required in larger amounts and include minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Microminerals are required in small or trace amounts. They include minerals such as iron, chromium, and zinc.

Macrominerals

Calcium

Calcium is the most common mineral in our body. It’s involved in muscle contraction, teeth and bone formation, and hormone secretion.

Calcium Deficiency: Long-term inadequate intake can result in low bone density, rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis.

Toxicity: Will cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, thirst, increased urination, kidney stones and soft tissue calcification.

Calcium Food Sources: Dairy, green leafy vegetables, legumes, tofu, molasses, sardines, okra, perch, trout, Chinese cabbage, rhubarb, sesame seeds

Chloride

Chloride is involved in digestion and absorption (it helps make up hydrochloric acid in the stomach), as well as cell functioning.

Chloride Deficiency: Extremely rare, but may happen in cases of excessive fluid loss (through vomiting and/or diarrhea).

Toxicity: Not known.

Chloride Food Sources: Almost all whole foods contain chloride (e.g. fruits and vegetables, lean meats)

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is the “P” (phosphate) in “ATP”, the body’s principal form of energy. Phosphorus plays a role in energy transfer, bone formation, enzyme production, and oxygen regulation.

Phosphorus Deficiency: Very rare, except in cases of severe malnutrition.

Toxicity: Very rare.

Phosphorus Food Sources: Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, fish, buckwheat, seafood, corn, wild rice

Potassium

Along with sodium, potassium helps to maintain the electrochemical gradient, which is what determines how ions move across a cell membrane.

Potassium Deficiency: Usually caused by protein wasting conditions, or excessive use of diuretics, which can cause loss of potassium in the urine. Low blood potassium can result in cardiac arrhythmias or even cardiac arrest.

Toxicity: Symptoms include tingling of extremities and muscle weakness. High dose potassium supplements may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Potassium Food Sources: Sweet potato, tomato, green leafy vegetables, carrots, prunes, beans, molasses, squash, fish, bananas, peaches, apricots, melon, potatoes, dates, raisins, mushrooms

Magnesium

Magnesium has hundreds of roles in the body. Some of those include: Metabolizing carbohydrates and fats, synthesizing proteins and DNA, and helping to relax and repair muscles.

Magnesium Deficiency: Symptoms include muscle cramps and twitching, nausea and loss of appetite, abnormal heart rhythms, and problems with thinking, mood, and memory. Magnesium deficiency is fairly common and may also play a role in hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

Toxicity: Excessive supplementation can lead to diarrhea (magnesium is a known laxative), impaired kidney function, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, and shortness of breath.

Magnesium Food Sources: Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark leafy greens, potato, cacao (dark chocolate)

Sodium

Along with potassium, sodium helps to maintain an electrochemical gradient across the cell membrane. It’s also involved in regulating body fluids, blood volume, and blood pressure.

Sodium Deficiency: Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, cramps, fatigue, and disorientation. Athletes who sweat a lot and hydrate without added electrolytes might be at risk of sodium imbalance.

Toxicity: Excessive intake can lead to increased fluid volume (edema), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. High blood sodium usually results from excessive water loss.

Sodium Food Sources: Any processed foods, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables

Sulfur

Sulfur is abundant in the body and is part of three important amino acids: cysteine, methionine, and taurine. It’s also involved in liver detoxification and collagen synthesis.

Sulfur Deficiency: Deficiency is rare unless someone is on a strict, low-protein diet (or has some type of malabsorption syndrome).

Toxicity: Unlikely from food consumption.

Sulfur Food Sources: Foods high in protein (like meat, eggs, seafood), garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables

Microminerals

Iron

Iron helps to form hemoglobin, red blood cells, and blood vessels. It’s essential for helping transport oxygen throughout the body. Dietary iron comes in two forms: heme iron (from animal foods) and non-heme (from plant foods). Consume iron with vitamin C to enhance absorption.

Iron Deficiency: Low iron can lead to anemia with small and pale red blood cells, and lowered immunity. In children, iron deficiency is associated with behavioral abnormalities. Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world. Menstruating women, pregnant women, and strict plant-based eaters are most at risk.

Toxicity: Common cause of poisoning in children. Excessive intake of supplemental iron is an emergency room situation. Too much iron is associated with an increased  risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Iron Food Sources: Red meats, organ meats, molasses, lima beans, kidney beans, raisins, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, dark poultry meat, fish

Zinc

Zinc is involved in growth and development, neurological function, reproduction, immunity, cell structure and function, and more.

Zinc Deficiency: Symptoms include growth impairments, lowered immunity, skeletal abnormalities, delay in sexual maturation, poor wound healing, taste changes, night blindness and hair loss. Those at risk for deficiency include the elderly, alcoholics, vegans, and those with malabsorption.15

Toxicity: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Chronically taking too much zinc can result in copper deficiency.

Zinc Food Sources: Mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas, baked beans, cashews, peas, whole grains, flounder, oats, oysters, chicken meat

Copper

Copper is an antioxidant and is also involved in energy production, collagen formation, and protein synthesis.

Copper Deficiency: Anemia that doesn’t respond to iron therapy, loss of hair and skin color (hypopigmentation of skin and hair is also noticed), low white blood cell count.

Toxicity: Rare. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term exposure to lower doses of copper can result in liver damage.

Copper Food Sources: Mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, barley, soybeans, tempeh, sunflower seeds, navy beans, garbanzo beans, cashews, molasses, liver

Chromium

Chromium plays an important role in glucose and fat metabolism and supports the role of insulin. High-sugar diets can increase chromium excretion in urine, which means people may need more chromium.

Chromium Deficiency: Symptoms include impaired glucose tolerance and elevated circulating insulin

Toxicity: Generally limited to industrial exposure. Long-term supplement use may increase DNA damage.

Chromium Food Sources: Lettuce, onions, beef, organ meats, whole grains, potatoes, mushrooms, oats, prunes, nuts, nutritional yeast

Iodine

Iodine is essential for healthy thyroid function and the production of the thyroid hormones T₃ and T₄.

Iodine Deficiency: Impairs growth and neurological development. Deficiency can also result in decreased production of thyroid hormones and enlargement of the thyroid. (Click here for more about impaired thyroid, and what to do.)

Toxicity: Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, burning mouth / throat / stomach, and enlargement of the thyroid.

Iodine Food Sources: Sea vegetables, iodized salt, eggs, dairy

Selenium

Selenium is an antioxidant, and also plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism.

Selenium Deficiency: Can contribute to arthritis, or juvenile cardiomyopathy (heart disease). Can also limit glutathione activity, increasing oxidation.

Toxicity: Multiple symptoms including skin problems, hair and nail brittleness, gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, and nervous system abnormalities.

Selenium Food Sources: Brazil nuts (but not too many—just six Brazil nuts can provide 800 mcg of selenium, exceeding the upper limit of the recommended intake!), mushrooms, barley, salmon, whole grains, walnuts, eggs

Manganese

Manganese is an antioxidant and is also involved in carbohydrate, amino acid, and cholesterol metabolism.

Manganese Deficiency: Not typically observed in humans.

Toxicity: Generally from industrial exposure.

Manganese Sources: Green leafy vegetables, berries, pineapple, lettuce, tempeh, oats, soybeans, spelt, brown rice, garbanzo beans

Molybdenum

Molybdenum plays a role in nutrient metabolism, as well as the breakdown of drugs and toxins.

Molybdenum Deficiency: Extremely rare.

Toxicity: More likely than deficiency. Still very rare.

Molybdenum Food Sources: Legumes, whole grains

3 things to know when addressing your (or your clients’) nutrient needs.

Whether you want to feel your best, or you’re helping clients do the same, making sure your basic nutrient requirements are being met is essential.

For guidance on the right amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (in other words, macronutrients), check out our super cool tool: The Precision Nutrition Calculator.

You can use the above list of vitamins and minerals to get a general idea of what nutrients do and where to get them. But when evaluating your own (or a client’s) specific micronutrient needs, consider these three points…

1. People differ (a lot) in their vitamins and mineral requirements.

Many factors—body size, sex, health conditions and medications, stage of life, activity level, and others—can affect people’s micronutrient needs, as well as how they absorb and use them.

That’s partly why we didn’t include a “recommended daily intake” range for the above nutrients. It just varies too much. Consider the needs of a menstruating Crossfit athlete versus the needs of a sedentary, elderly male on multiple medications.

(If you still want a reference, the FDA has this handy chart. Remember that these are just estimates, and don’t necessarily reflect optimal amounts for all people.)

Generally, though, people have deficiencies for three reasons:4

  • Insufficient intake due to low appetite, restricted diets, illness, or any other situation where certain food groups or calories are reduced or not absorbed properly
  • Increased need due to illness, injury, surgery, intense physical training (like athletes), or periods of growth (like pregnancy)
  • Increased loss due to excessive sweating, diarrhea, bleeding, or medical conditions or procedures that lead to a loss of nutrients through urine or other body fluids

If any of these reasons apply to you or your client, be extra wary of deficiencies. Of course, always work with a qualified medical professional when addressing medical issues or clinical deficiencies.

2. Don’t supplement willy-nilly.

If you suspect micronutrient excess or deficiencies in yourself or your clients, get testing to know for sure.

Work with doctors and/or pharmacists when considering supplements, or want to know if your or your clients’ health status or medications interfere with micronutrient absorption and use.

While many supplements are safe, and most people benefit from a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, other supplements (see iron, above) may be harmful if taken when they’re not needed.

3. When addressing a potential deficiency, prioritize whole foods.

It’s hard to go wrong with whole foods. (Ever heard of a broccoli overdose?)

Also, most benefits from micronutrients seem to come from a well-balanced diet, rather than supplementation.4

As much as possible, choose whole, minimally-processed foods (like the ones we’ve included in our list) when filling nutritional gaps.

You’ll want to include foods like:

  • colorful fruits and vegetables
  • mushrooms
  • herbs and spices
  • lean proteins such as red meat (particularly organ meats), wild game, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs
  • beans and legumes
  • whole grains
  • dairy

These foods are the most vitamin- and mineral-rich, but they also contain other nutrients whose benefits we’re only just starting to understand. These other nutrients include:

  • Phytonutrients, found in plant foods, and can act as antioxidants, lower inflammation, and even influence hormone function
  • Myconutrients, found in mushrooms and edible fungi, and can help fight bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens
  • Zoonutrients, found in animal foods, like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and creatine, which can help us lower disease risk, build strength and muscle, and preserve brain function

Nutrition science is a relatively young field, and we’re still learning how foods and nutrients affect us.

But that old “apple a day” saying? There’s something to it.

References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What It Is, How It Works, and How to Do It [Free PDF Guide]

What is carb cycling? | Potential benefits | Quiz: Will carb cycling work for you? | Carb cycling plans

There’s a reason carb cycling is so popular.

According to people who are most enthusiastic about this method (often very fit-looking folks), it’s the perfect diet. They say carb cycling can help you:

  • Get the accelerated fat loss that comes from a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet… while still eating carbs and… without sacrificing exercise performance.
  • Avoid frustrating fat loss plateaus by better regulating hormones like leptin and insulin.
  • Gain muscle without gaining much fat.

But are these claims true? And even if so, will they hold true for YOU?

This article is going to help you decide if you should give carb cycling a try, or if instead, you might get better results with other strategies first.

(Strategies that might be more effective—for you personally—and require a lot less effort.)

Before we get started, though, let’s get one thing out of the way: Here at Precision Nutrition, we’re neither pro-carb cycling nor anti-carb cycling.

We’re pro-sustainable results. 

So we’re here to help you learn:

  • What carb cycling is
  • How carb cycling works (and how well it works)
  • Whether or not carb cycling is the right strategy for YOU (we’ve got an interactive quiz with your name on it)
  • How to carb cycle (if you decide to go for it)
  • How to determine if your carb cycling plan is actually working—so you can get the results you really want

Now get ready: Your crash course in carb cycling starts now.

Want the most important carb cycling information at your fingertips?

Download our carb cycling PDF guide, which includes: 

  • A carb cycling cheat sheet for quick and easy reference
  • A pre-carb cycling assessment
  • A step-by-step plan for figuring out if it works for you

Want to get it right now? Download the PDF carb cycling guide here.

If you’re a coach, these will be great to use with clients. And if you’re trying carb cycling yourself, you’ll have the info you need at the ready.

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Okay, so what is carb cycling?

Carb cycling is when you fluctuate between eating low-carb foods and high-carb foods.

The most common carb cycling approach is to eat fewer carbohydrates on some days and more carbohydrates on other days.

People who carb cycle usually end up calorie cycling, too. This means they eat fewer calories on their “low-carb days” and more calories on their “high-carb days.”

For example, a typical carb cycling schedule might look like this:

  • Non-workout days: low carb, low calorie
  • Workout days: high carb, high calorie

But that’s not the only way to cycle your carbs. Some folks carb cycle within a single day.

So they’ll eat high-carb foods around their workout, but have low-carb foods the rest of the day.

Because a typical carb cycling schedule requires counting macros or hand portions—and a good amount of nutrition planning—we consider it an intermediate to advanced nutrition strategy. Read: It’s kind of a pain to do and can pretty challenging for most people to do well.

As a result, it tends to work best for those who are highly-motivated: amateur and elite athletes, bodybuilders, and people who are paid based on how they look and perform.

You might be wondering… 

Why focus only on carbs and not protein or fat?

First and foremost, varying your carbohydrate intake may have a positive impact on many important hormones (we’ll dig more into that in a minute).

Fluctuating your fat and protein intake, on the other hand, won’t affect hormones for the better.

There’s also this:

Not-so-great stuff can happen when you don’t get enough protein or fat.

For example, if your fat intake stays too low, your menstrual cycle might halt. And if your protein intake stays too low, you can lose muscle and experience mood swings.

You’re probably not interested in any of that, let’s just keep this conversation about carbs.

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What does carb cycling do, exactly?

In theory, it can do quite a few things. So we’ll give you a rundown of the top five potential benefits of carb cycling.

But before we do, it’s important to know: There’s hardly any human research on carb cycling.

Mostly, we have anecdotal reports about how carb cycling works, along with a few hypotheses based on biochemistry.

Those are valuable, but on a 1 to 10 scale of scientific confidence, carb cycling ranks closer to a 1 than a 10.

So keep that in mind when you hear or read claims about carb cycling.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers. Here’s what carb cycling might do.

#1: Carb cycling may help keep your metabolism humming during fat loss.

When you eat less—say, to lose fat—your body responds in a variety of ways. For example:

  • Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) drops
  • You expend less energy when you exercise
  • Your daily activity outside of workouts tends to decrease naturally (you move around less without even realizing it).

So as you lose weight, you have to continue reducing how much you eat in order to keep seeing results.

Example: Let’s say you start a 2,000 calorie a day diet and lose weight steadily for a while. Over time, you might find that stops working. So you might have to cut back to 1,800 calories to kickstart weight loss again.

This is called metabolic adaptation, and you can no doubt see why it’s a problem.

The more your metabolism adapts, the more you have to restrict your food intake.

As a result, the harder it’s going to be to achieve your goal—and maintain your weight loss down the road. (Learn more: Can eating too little actually damage your metabolism?)

But carb cycling proponents say the approach can prevent metabolic adaptation.

The rationale: Regularly mixing in high-carb, high-calorie days “jumpstarts” your metabolism and keeps it from adapting.

Again, there’s no strong evidence to support this claim, but it also hasn’t been refuted.

(By the way, metabolic adaptation is the same principle behind reverse dieting, another advanced nutrition strategy.)

#2: Carb cycling may help regulate hormones affected by fat loss.

Intense dieting can mess with your hormones. Specifically:

  • Leptin
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Reproductive hormones (testosterone and estrogen)

If you’re trying to lose fat, leptin’s a particular concern. (Even though thyroid hormones, testosterone, and estrogen seem to get all the press.)

Released by fat tissue, leptin plays a key role in hunger and metabolic adaptation.

The more body fat you have, the more leptin in your blood. Your brain uses leptin levels to make decisions about hunger, calorie intake, nutrient absorption, and energy use.1

That’s a lot of factors related to fat loss.

Now here’s where it gets interesting: When you reduce calorie intake, even just for a few days, leptin levels drop.2

This tells your brain you need to eat to prevent starvation.

The takeaway: Leptin is one of the reasons you feel so hungry when you consistently eat less. 

Leptin is also considered the “master controller” of other hormones, meaning that when leptin drops, so do thyroid and reproductive hormones.

Okay, so what does this have to do with carb cycling?

The idea is this: By periodically eating more calories from carbohydrates (known as “refeeding”), our leptin levels will temporarily rise.

Hypothetically, this would tell your brain that you’re well-fed, causing a temporary decrease in hunger and appetite.

And because of this little high-carb, high-calorie break, it might feel easier to stick to a lower calorie intake on low-carb days. Plus, you could be less likely to experience the negative effects of not having enough of other important hormones.

There’s some evidence for this, though it’s very limited. What’s more, the “refeeds” involved are usually longer than one day.3

Still, there may be very real psychological benefits.

When you’re generally eating lower-carb and lower-calorie, getting in a higher-carb, higher-calorie day on purpose can feel really good physically and mentally. (Who doesn’t love a “cheat” day?)

#3: Carb cycling may make it easier to stick to a low-carbohydrate diet.

Low-carb diets can be effective for fat loss, especially for people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.4 (It should be noted, though, that they’re not necessarily more effective than low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets.5 6)

What counts as low carb? You might call any diet that provides fewer than 30 percent of your daily calories from carbs a “low-carb diet.” (Experts often debate the exact percentage here, with some saying it’s 20 percent and others saying it’s even less.)

The ketogenic diet, a popular form of low-carb eating, is more specific. It’s very low in carbs, and very high in fat (usually <10 percent carbohydrate and >60 percent fat).

(To understand more about the differences between keto and low carb, see: The ketogenic diet: everything you need to know.)

Though low-carb and ketogenic diets can be effective for fat loss, most people can’t stick with them over a longer period of time. (This also goes for any other kind of restrictive eating style.)

So it’s been suggested that alternating between lower-carb and higher-carb days may better help people maintain a lower-carb eating style—and their results—long-term. In the case of someone doing keto, this is referred to as a cyclical ketogenic diet.

You could think of it this way: You eat a ketogenic most of the time but have little mini-breaks—that last a day or two—where you can enjoy higher-carb meals.

#4: Carb cycling may support athletic performance on a low-carb diet.

The ketogenic diet is also sometimes used by athletes who want to be fat adapted. Being fat-adapted allows you to burn greater amounts of fat at higher exercise intensities, according to several studies.7 8 9

Burning more fat always sounds like a good thing, of course. But how might it help with exercise performance?

That deserves a little more explanation.

Here’s the background: To fuel long bouts of endurance exercise, your body normally relies heavily on carbohydrates stored in the form of glycogen.

Unfortunately, your body can only store so much glycogen at a time. So if you exercise long enough, you’ll run low on carbs and have to slow down.

That’s why endurance athletes usually consume 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour during competitions. It gives them more fuel so they can keep going hard.

This is where being fat-adapted may come in handy.

As many of us know all too well, it’s easy for your body to store lots of fat in the form of fat tissue.

Even very lean people have 15 times more energy available from stored fat than from stored carbohydrate.10

So if you become fat-adapted, your body relies more heavily on fat—instead of carbs—to fuel long endurance exercise.

That would mean you wouldn’t have to deal with the inconvenience (and potential GI distress) of consuming an energy gel every 90 minutes during a longer exercise session.11 Plus, it might make you less likely to “bonk.”

Some have even suggested being fat-adapted could help improve exercise performance and recovery, too, though this is debated by researchers.12

Now, keep in mind: All of the above is only referring to how a ketogenic (low-carb, high-fat) diet might benefit endurance performance.

So how does carb cycling fit in?

The idea is this: You get fat-adapted by eating a ketogenic diet for several days. But then you cycle in a couple of high-carb days.

These high-carb days allow you to max-out your glycogen stores. The hope is that you can do this without disrupting the hypothetical performance benefits of the ketogenic diet.

Combined, this could give you the best of both worlds: Lots of energy to burn, from both carbs and fat.

It’s important to note, though, that the evidence doesn’t currently support the performance benefits of a ketogenic diet on a wide scale.

So based on what we know now: For most people, adopting a cyclical ketogenic diet specifically because you want to perform better is most likely more trouble than it’s worth.

#5: Carb cycling may promote muscle gain without fat gain.

Fat gain almost always accompanies muscle growth.

But some carb cycling enthusiasts say the key to gaining muscle without gaining much fat is the hormone insulin.

Whenever you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises, and insulin is released.

Insulin helps regular your blood sugar levels. It also plays a key role in muscle growth and glycogen storage.

The hypothesis goes:

  • If you eat high carb on days you resistance train, you can take advantage of insulin’s muscle-building and recovery properties
  • If you eat low carb on rest or conditioning workout days, you can simultaneously lose fat and improve insulin sensitivity, making the high-carb days even more effective

That’s the high-level version. But the reality? It’s a lot more complicated than that, and there aren’t any diet studies that support it.

(Learn more: The truth about carbs, insulin, and fat loss.)

So…

Remember: We’re not totally sure carb cycling works.

What are we more confident about?

The big rocks.

Imagine your time as a jar that can be filled with a finite number of rocks, pebbles, and grains of sand.

The big rocks are the eating and lifestyle practices most necessary to see results. (You can read more about these in our article on the 5 universal principles of good nutrition.)

The pebbles are things that’ll help but aren’t totally necessary.

The sand is purely “bonus” stuff. It may help, but it’s not crucial, and it won’t have a big impact.

Carb cycling is a sand habit.

Illustrations showing how different health and fitness habits, including carb cycling, impact body composition. Big rock habits make the most impact, pebble habits make a little impact, and sand habits (like carb cycling), make minimal impact.

Carb cycling might make a small difference, but it doesn’t come close to big rock habits in terms of impact.

So… does carb cycling work?

If you mean, “Can carb cycling help me lose fat and improve body composition?”, the answer is yes. As long as, overall, you’re expending more calories than you’re consuming.

It might even work great for you, if it’s a good fit for your eating preferences and lifestyle.

But if you mean, “Is it superior to other methods?”, that’s hard to say. Because lack of evidence.

Our take: If it provides any incremental benefit, it’s minute. For most people, it’s a high effort, low impact deal.

(The key term here is most people. For example, if you’re an athlete with more than one competition in a day, nutrient timing is a whole lot more important.)

Who should try carb cycling?

Though carb cycling isn’t right for everyone, it can work for specific types of people.

You’re most likely to benefit from carb cycling if…

▶ You have your big rock habits down. 

You’re already eating lots of minimally-processed whole foods and little highly-processed fare. You’re exercising. You’re getting plenty of quality sleep. And you’re eating mindfully.

And because these big rocks are already in place, carb cycling becomes something to experiment with—instead of being the primary method of achieving results.

Since we aren’t 100 percent sure carb cycling works in all scenarios (in fact, not even close to 100 percent sure), this is an important box to check before getting started.

▶ You’re already very lean but want to get leaner. 

When you’ve already gotten super lean, your body will start to fight every last bit of fat loss. Cycling calorie and carb intake might help stave off the metabolic adaptation that often occurs with a chronic, ongoing calorie deficit.

Plus, cycling intake can make a calorie deficit feel like less of a grind. That’s because it lets you block off “eat less” days into small, manageable units instead of several weeks of miserable, hungry slogging.

▶ You want to manage training and nutritional stress (and are already implementing other key strategies).

If you’re concerned about how the stress of hard training and a chronic calorie deficit is affecting your hormones, you might consider carb cycling.

Provided you’re also doing other things to manage their total stress load—like sleeping enough, meditating, and practicing self-compassion—periodically “topping off” energy and carbohydrate stores can tell your body that everything’s okay, and starvation isn’t imminent. This is particularly useful for:

  • Women (whose central hormonal regulation systems may be very sensitive to nutritional deficits, which is one of the reasons intermittent fasting isn’t always so great for women)
  • Leaner people (who usually have less circulating leptin)
  • Anyone who doesn’t tolerate stress well or who already has a high stress load

▶ You’re trying to cut weight or change the appearance of your physique for competition.

Carbohydrate intake affects fluid balance in the body, which can impact both weight and appearance on competition or shoot day.

▶ You’re aiming for incremental gains. 

Let’s say you’re an advanced lifter. You’re already in great shape, and you’re pretty close to your genetic ceiling. Carb cycling might be the difference between you gaining one pound of muscle versus three pounds of muscle in a year. For an advanced lifter, that’s awesome progress.

But let’s say you’re a beginner lifter, and you’re just starting to make gains.

Carb cycling probably won’t make a big difference for you. And it might distract you from consistently implementing the big rocks that are going to push you forward.

In fact, it’d be smart to keep this strategy in your back pocket in case you need it later on, when you’re more advanced and no longer benefiting from newbie gains.

▶ You don’t tolerate carbs well. 

People with underlying metabolic issues (such as poor blood sugar control or elevated inflammation) may not feel great (think: bloated and tired) after eating large amounts of carbohydrates.

This group may nevertheless be able use carbs effectively when active. So they may benefit from getting the bulk of their carb intake around workouts.

(Even better, with time and sustained activity, they may become more metabolically healthy, which means improved overall carb tolerance and more dietary flexibility.)

▶ You have a solid handle on other aspects of their health. 

Changing your habits always comes at a cost. (This is something we cover in-depth in our article, The cost of getting lean).

For example, carb cycling might cause you to interact less socially because of stricter rules around mealtimes.

Or let’s say keeping track of how much and when you’re supposed to eat makes you feel stressed and overwhelmed. In that case, carb cycling could have a negative effect on your mental health.

For some people, these trade-offs may be worth it. For others, not so much. (We’ll help you figure out which category you fall into in the quiz below.)

▶ You find it an enjoyable way to eat. 

When it comes to nutrition, it’s what you do consistently that matters most.

And you’ll be much more likely to do what you enjoy. But if you hate an eating approach? It’s probably not going to last long.

So whether you carb cycle or eat low-carb, low-fat, Paleo, plant-based—it doesn’t really matter. If you can follow an eating style consistently, it fits the life you want to live, and you enjoy it, you’ll get results.

What about “carb cycling kickstart” challenges?

Usually, we don’t recommend carb cycling as a first step to better eating habits. 

That’s because popular carb-cycling challenges are often hyperspecific, requiring you to eat exactly five meals a day and adhere to precise macronutrient ratios.

Few people can stick to something like that for very long.

So is it likely that a 14-day carb cycling challenge will change your life forever?

Not really.

But it’s possible. 

We know that action leads to motivation. So if doing this kind of program helps you get motivated to take more steps to improve your nutrition habits, that’s awesome.

People who see early success with their nutrition efforts are more likely to continue making progress thanks to the motivation boost.

But if you choose this route, we’d like to offer one helpful nugget of advice: Have some sort of transition plan in place to help you get to a more sustainable eating pattern afterward.

Where to start? You can increase your chances of long-term success by picking out some “big rock” habits to focus on afterward.

Should YOU try carb cycling?

Let’s find out.

Use this handy quiz to determine if carb cycling makes sense for you.

1. Do you know what you hope to get out of carb cycling?
Consider: Do you want to lose fat? Gain muscle? Better regulate stress or your hormones?

No idea
100 percent clear

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2. Are you looking for a major body transformation or smaller incremental gains?
Consider: Is this the first step of your nutrition journey, or one of the last?

Transformation
Smaller gains

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3. Have you already tried less advanced strategies (example: eating more veggies) to accomplish your goal?
Consider: Is there anything less complex you could try first?

No previous steps
Tried everything else

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4. Are you already consistent and confident with your “big rock” habits?
Consider: Will you be able to keep up with your fundamental nutrition practices while you carb cycle?

Not consistent at all
Super confident

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5. How comfortable are you with rigid eating rules?
Consider: How do you feel about needing to eat exactly 5 meals or exactly 6 portions of lean protein each day, for example?

Flexibility is very important
I’m okay with rules for now

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6. Do you feel comfortable treating carb cycling as an experiment?
Consider: Are you okay trying carb cycling even if, ultimately, your experiment determines that this style of eating isn’t for you?

No, I need to be sure it’ll work
I’m all for experimenting

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7. Are you okay with making tradeoffs to follow a specific eating style?
Consider: How would carb cycling impact the way you eat at social gatherings or family meals? Are there foods you might have to skip out on that you normally enjoy?

Not okay
Totally comfortable

012345

8. Will following a super-specific eating plan stress you out?
Consider: Does the idea of not being able to “wing it” with your nutrition—in a restaurant or when you’re running low on groceries, for example—sound stressful?

Extremely stressful
I’m good with a specific plan

012345

Total score:

32-40: It’s a go!

Sounds like you’re in a great place to give carb cycling a try. You’re clear on your goals, your big rocks are in place, and you’re willing to make the tradeoffs.

24-31: Proceed with caution.

Carb cycling may or may not make sense for you. If you’d still like to give it a try, use outcome-based decision making (using the data you collect about your experience to decide what to do next) as you experiment with one of the protocols below.

Basically, that means checking in with yourself and being honest about how it’s going for you.

0-23: Consider keeping carb cycling in your back pocket. 

It looks like you’d benefit from less advanced nutrition and health practices. (That doesn’t mean you should never try carb cycling in the future.)

These fundamental practices include eating lean protein with meals, choosing minimally-processed whole foods most of the time, consuming several servings of colorful veggies each day, getting restful sleep, and reducing stress, among many others.

If you’re still interested in carb cycling after getting those big rock habits in place, retake this quiz, and see how you do.

How to carb cycle for fat loss or muscle gain

Here at Precision Nutrition, we use a variety of carb-cycling methods depending on a person’s goals and nutrition experience.

Below, we’ve outlined the two carb cycling methods we use most often. Before we dive in, though, let’s go over two key points.

1. Customize your carb cycling schedule. 

To adjust these carb cycling plans for your goals and body, you’ll want to use the Precision Nutrition Calculator. This will help you determine your baseline nutrition needs (in calories, macros, and/or hand portions).

Ultimately, no matter which cycling strategy you use, total calorie and macronutrient intake for the week should remain the same as if you’re not cycling.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to gain muscle, and the calculator determines you need a daily intake of:

  • 7 palms or 210 g protein
  • 6-8 fists of veggies
  • 8 handfuls or 250 g carbs; and
  • 7 thumbs or 100 g fats.

On a “typical” diet, that’s what you’d try to eat every day. To apply these numbers to carb cycling, start by multiplying the recommended daily carb intake by 7. That’s your total carb intake for the week.

Based on your carb cycling method, you’ll adjust your carb intake for a given meal or day. You’ll eat the same amount of carbs as you would without carb cycling, but distribute them a little differently throughout the day or week. Your fat and protein amounts will be the same every day. (Don’t worry: The complete directions are below.)

2. Treat carb cycling as an experiment.

As we covered above, carb cycling isn’t a super reliable method for getting results. That means it may or may not work for you.

And because carb cycling requires a decent amount of energy and attention, it’s important to treat it like an experiment until you understand how well it fits into your life.

We place a heavy emphasis on self-experimentation here at PN because it’s one of the best ways to find out what works for you as an individual. (Learn more about nutrition experiments here: 3 diet experiments that can change your eating habits—and transform your body.)

To set up your carb cycling experiment, consider:

  • What’s the goal you’re trying to achieve?
  • How will you know if you’re making progress? Will you measure your weight, body composition, girth measurements, exercise performance?
  • How often will you check in to determine whether you’re making progress or not?

We’d recommend using either of the methods below for at least two weeks before evaluating. Then, complete the carb cycling self-experimentation assessment below to see how things are going.

Carb cycling plan #1: Use high/low days.

This carb and calorie cycling approach is very simple and is based on your level of daily activity. Remember, first calculate your average daily needs using the Precision Nutrition Calculator. Then you’ll fluctuate your daily carb intake as follows.

  • On days with minimal physical activity: Eat mostly protein, vegetables, and healthy fats with minimal carbs (about 25-50 percent of your estimated daily carb need from the calculator, whether in grams or cupped handfuls).
  • On days with physical activity and/or planned exercise: Add starchy carbs to the baseline diet (about 150-175 percent of your estimated daily carb needs, whether in grams or cupped handfuls).

And that’s pretty much it.

To put this in context, let’s assume you were estimated to need an average of 8 handfuls or 250 g of carbs daily. On your days with minimal activity you’d aim for about 2-4 handfuls or 62-125 g of carbs. And on your days with lots of physical activity, you’d have about 12-14 handfuls or 375-435 g of carbs.

Carb cycling plan #2: Use post-workout/anytime meals.

Another approach is to put the bulk of a day’s carbohydrate intake in the meal that follows physical activity (post-workout), while minimizing carbohydrates at other meals (anytime).

For a visual of what a Post-workout (PW) or Anytime (AT) meal could look like, see below.

Illustrations showing two different types of meals you could use on a carb cycling schedule. An anytime meal has protein, veggies, and fats, and a post-workout meal has protein, veggies, fruit, and starches.

Alternating between Anytime and Post-Workout meals is a simpler approach to carb cycling.

An AT meal, as its name implies, can be eaten any time outside of exercise.

An AT meal:

  • Has serving of lean protein (about 1-2 palms, or as calculated)
  • Has a serving of healthy fats (about 2-3 thumbs, or as calculated)
  • Fills out the remainder with non-starchy vegetables (ideally colorful ones)

An AT meal can also include a small portion of high-fiber, slow-digesting carbohydrates, such as beans, lentils, or fruit (generally fewer than 25 percent of the total calories for that meal).

The PW plate is for meals that take place after physical activity. This meal type helps us take advantage of the body’s metabolic response to exercise, and the improved glucose tolerance that occurs during the post-exercise period (or any period following higher amounts of physical activity).

A PW meal:

  • Has a serving of lean protein (about 1-2 palms, or as calculated)
  • Is lower in healthy fats (about 0.5-1 thumb, or as calculated)
  • Has a large serving of carbohydrates (generally at least 50 percent or more of the calories for that meal, or about 3-5 cupped handfuls or as calculated)

On non-workout days choose one meal to be post-workout. Breakfast and dinner are the most common options.

Here’s a sample schedule:

Monday: workout day Tuesday: No workout but still physically active Wednesday: No workout and not physically active
Meal 1: Anytime Meal 1: Anytime Meal 1: Post-workout
Workout Ride bike to work and work physically active job
Meal 2: Post-workout Meal 2: Post-workout Meal 2: Anytime
Meal 3: Anytime Meal 3: Anytime (possibly Post-workout if extra calories needed) Meal 3: Anytime
Meal 4: Anytime Meal 4: Anytime Meal 4: Anytime

A quick note on advanced carb cycling methods

More advanced forms of carb cycling can be used by people like elite amateur and professional athletes, people whose income is tied to their appearance (like models), and bodybuilding and figure competitors.

If you’re a coach and you’re interested in learning more about these advanced protocols, we cover them in-depth in our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.

If you’d like to try advanced carb cycling yourself, we’d recommend doing so with the assistance of a qualified nutrition coach.

Carb cycling: How’s it REALLY working for you?

After you’ve been carb cycling for at least 2 weeks, use this assessment to decide if the eating strategy is working for you.

Think about your recent experiences with carb cycling. Then, choose the number that best matches how strongly you agree with the following statements.

On a scale of 1 (never) to 10 (always), most of the time…

1. When I eat this way, I feel pretty good in general.

2. Compared to how I was eating before, I feel better when carb cycling.

3. When I carb cycle, I have reliable, sustained energy without crashing.

4. Carb cycling feels doable, and fits into my everyday life.

5. When I carb cycle, I feel good mentally and emotionally.

6. I feel confident and capable cooking and preparing meals while carb cycling.

7. When I carb cycle, I feel I am consistently keeping up with the other nutrition, fitness, and health practices that make me feel my best.

8. When I carb cycle, I rarely struggle with food cravings or urges to overeat.

9. When I carb cycle, I digest my food well.

10. I’m performing and recovering well while carb cycling.

11. On social occasions, such as going out with friends to a restaurant, I can almost always find something I enjoy and feel comfortable eating.

12. I feel calm and relaxed about my food choices. It’s no big deal, just part of life.

13. Even if other people pressure me to do something differently, or my style of eating doesn’t match others around me, I’m able to follow my own cues or goals.

14. Carb cycling is helping me eat in a way that matches my specific goals for health, fitness, performance, etc.

15. I feel I can still truly enjoy food, how it tastes, and the experience of eating.

Total score:

120 and above: Crushing it!

This way of eating is working beautifully for you. Keep on doing your thing.

105 to 119: This is promising. 

Overall, things are going well with your carb cycling experiment. You might consider making some small changes, but it looks like you’re moving in the right direction.

76 to 104: Mixed results. 

Carb cycling might be working well for you in some areas, but you’re probably struggling in others. Consider if there are any tweaks you could make that would make it feel more sustainable.

Less than 75: Carb cycling is not working for you. 

Based on this assessment, you’re experiencing some issues with the carb cycling protocol you’re currently following. Success depends on a plan you can stick with consistently that has minimal tradeoffs.

And don’t feel bad about this. This experiment helped you to understand something important: Carb cycling may not be for you—at least, right now.

Carb cycling may or may not work for you.

No matter what happens during your carb cycling experiment, remember this: It’s all okay.

You might learn that you just can’t stick to a carb cycling regimen.

Or that you feel terrible when carb cycling.

Or maybe you feel great.

Or perhaps you learn that carb cycling is your favorite way of eating.

Or that it’s just not worth all the effort.

Or something else.

It’s all good.

The key is to keep an open mind and go with the best available evidence: your own personal experience (based on the assessment above).

Collect your data and then reflect on how things are going. If you stick to the facts, you can’t go wrong.

References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

 

Food Sensitivity Tests: Which ones REALLY Work?

Basics | IgG TestsFree Tests | Accuracy | Downsides of IgG Tests | Meal Planning

Do expensive food sensitivity tests work?

Are there lower cost (or free) ways to root out food sensitivities?

And, perhaps most important, what should people do with their results?

In this article, you’ll learn the answers to those questions (and more!), including:

+++

Why get a food sensitivity test?

When people decide to get a food sensitivity test, they’re usually desperate to feel better. For years they’ve been bothered by stomach upset, bloating, embarrassing gas or belching, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or brain fog.

Despite giving up any number of foods—gluten, dairy, onions, garlic, this list goes on—their problems persist.

So, when they learn about food sensitivity tests that require only a finger prick’s worth of blood, they’re relieved. They can’t wait to find out what’s wrong—and finally get back to living without an unpleasant digestive emergency lurking around the corner.

How do I know this?

As a registered dietitian, I’ve counseled hundreds of people with mysterious and maddening GI woes. 

Plus, I was practically born with an upset stomach.

During my childhood, my mom took me from one specialist to another. Medical experts suggested I might be sensitive to gluten. Or maybe dairy.

Or gluten and dairy?

No matter what I stopped eating, I just couldn’t shake my digestive issues.

By the end of high school, I had the runs nearly every day.

If you can imagine that, then you can no doubt understand why I decided to major in nutrition and eventually become a registered dietitian. I was looking for answers to help me solve the problem once and for all.

Maybe you can also understand why, during my freshman year in college, I found myself in the waiting room of a naturopathic physician who offered food sensitivity testing.

Despite what the test revealed that day, it would take me years to unravel what was really wrong. And that long search taught me many important lessons.

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The best ways to identify and deal with food sensitivities.

Most people can test for food sensitivities and intolerances at home—no needles, blood work, or special kits required. 

Though at-home options like food journaling and elimination diets aren’t as easy as pricking your finger and sending your blood off to a lab, they’re more accurate and effective.

And there’s this: Some people—myself included—can clear up their symptoms without giving up a single food.

Put another way, millions of people are convinced that they can’t eat dozens of foods when, in reality, few (and, in some cases, none) of those foods are actually a problem for them.

I’ll explore all of that in this article, diving deep into the latest science as well as my personal experiences.

It’s my hope that what you’re about to learn not only helps you understand what’s actually going on, but also allows you to enjoy eating a wide variety of foods again, without fear. (Related: ‘What foods should I eat?’ Your three-step guide to choosing the best foods for your body.)

Let’s start with a few definitions.

What are food sensitivities?

Some people use the term “food sensitivities” as a catchall to describe a wide range of adverse symptoms that can be brought on by eating certain foods.1

Other people define sensitivities more narrowly.2 For them, food sensitivities are what’s left over when the following problems are ruled out

  • Food allergies: When the immune system mistakenly treats a component in food as if it were a germ. This can lead to a wide range of allergic responses: hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, and life-threatening drops in blood pressure.
  • Food intolerances: The inability to process or digest certain foods. For example, someone who is lactose intolerant doesn’t have adequate amounts of the digestive enzymes needed to break down lactose, a sugar present in dairy products.
  • Celiac disease: An autoimmune reaction that triggers gut inflammation and diarrhea when someone consumes gluten, a protein found in many grains, most notably wheat.

Still other people use the word “sensitivity” interchangeably with “intolerance.” They throw around the term IBS (short for irritable bowel syndrome)—trying to indicate that something in the diet is making someone feel sick, but they’re unsure of the culprit.

It’s all pretty confusing, so let’s make it simple.

For the purposes of this story, I’ll borrow a definition from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: “A food sensitivity occurs when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food.”3

Types of food sensitivity tests: What works?

Alrighty, so let’s circle back to what I started to tell you at the beginning of this article—about the day I underwent food sensitivity testing.

The naturopath pricked my finger and sent a few drops of my blood off to a lab.

About a week later, the doctor handed me a 10-page report that, she said, revealed I had a “weakened” immune response to dozens of foods: sugar, dairy, cooking oil, gelatin, baking powder, cornstarch, chocolate, butter, cheese, popcorn, pretty much all grains, veal, liver, beef, tree nuts, corn, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.

As I glanced over the report, I considered the food typically served at the campus dining hall.

I’d wanted clear answers and a workable plan to put into action. Instead, I left feeling overwhelmed and helpless. How could I possibly eliminate all of those foods for the rest of my life?

Is IgG food sensitivity testing accurate?

With food sensitivity testing, a lab analyzes how immunoglobulin G (IgG), an immune system antibody, reacts to roughly 100 different foods. The idea is that elevated IgG levels signal a food sensitivity.

This premise seems logical.

After all, that’s similar to the premise of food allergy blood testing, which measures a different antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).

When levels of IgE are elevated, it indicates someone’s immune system is pumping out substances that trigger parts of the body to swell up, break out in a rash, shut down, and/or eject things from the GI tract (a.k.a. vomiting).

Though IgE tests can deliver false positives, they’re relatively accurate, correctly diagnosing allergies 70 to 90 percent of the time.4 This is how you can know if you have, say, a nut allergy.

Unlike IgE tests, IgG tests are unregulated and unproven.

The few studies that seem to support IgG testing have been criticized for a variety of design flaws.5

(To learn what to look for in a study, see How to read scientific research.)

The premise behind IgG tests has also been called into question. That’s because elevated IgG probably isn’t a bad thing. Most experts consider it a normal immune response.

Our bodies likely develop IgG antibodies to all the foods we eat.

These antibodies may even be how the body marks a substance as “safe.”

As the chart below shows, when IgE is high, someone likely has a food allergy. But when IgE is low and IgG is high, it’s a sign that the body has become tolerant to a particular food.6

IgE IgG
Likely food allergy High Low
Likely food tolerance Low High

 

Put another way, if your blood reacts with IgG to a specific food, it probably doesn’t mean you’re sensitive to it. Rather, it may mean you’ve eaten that food somewhat recently.5,7

As a result the following organizations all strongly recommend against taking IgG food sensitivity tests:

  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology3
  • The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology8
  • The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology7

As the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology put it:

“The inappropriate use of this [IgG food sensitivity] test only increases the likelihood of false diagnoses being made, resulting in unnecessary dietary restrictions and decreased quality of life.”

3 big downsides of IgG tests

Maybe you’re thinking: So what if IgG tests are unproven? Does it really matter if someone wastes money on a test that doesn’t work?

It does matter—for at least three important reasons. An inaccurate food sensitivity blood test may mean that:

  1. You continue to eat foods that could be the source of your issues—because those foods didn’t react to the IgG in your blood.
  2. You stop eating a lot of foods that are perfectly okay for you to eat. That’s no fun. Worse, you could develop nutrient deficiencies.
  3. You fail to diagnose the true problem. This was the case with me. Roughly fifteen years after my IgG test, I underwent a colonoscopy. It revealed a rare, incredibly slow-moving, genetic ovarian tumor—one I’d likely had since birth. The tumor had grown outside of my ovary and through the wall of my digestive tract. Once I had my cancer removed, my digestive problems vanished.

Important note: All three of these downsides—especially the risk of nutritional deficiencies—intensify when children are involved.

On top of the drawbacks listed above, when young children are coddled and prevented from exposure to various foods, they’re more likely to develop allergies and/or sensitivities to those very foods as they get older.9

All this begs the question: How can you find out whether you really have food sensitivities? And if you do, what should you do about them?

6 problems that mimic food sensitivities

I thought I had food sensitivities. In reality, I had cancer—a tumor that had invaded my digestive tract.

My situation, however, is incredibly rare. Most people with bloating and frequent diarrhea don’t have cancer. Much more common, however, are the following:

1. A tendency to gulp down dinner

When we eat quickly, we swallow air bubbles, which lead to a puffy, bloated, gassy feeling.

And because it takes some time for the “I’m full” signal from the stomach and intestines to reach the brain, fast eating often triggers overeating, which only compounds that uncomfortable post-meal sense of unease.

(If you want a strategy that could be helpful here, check out the 30-day slow eating challenge.)

2. Too much fiber too quickly

Some people experience stomach pain, gas, and bloating after suddenly increasing their fiber intake.

For example, a client might decide to start eating nine servings of vegetables for a New Year’s resolution. If they hadn’t eaten many veggies before, this sudden change will overwork the GI tract’s peristalsis muscles as well as disturb the flora that live in the gut.

When they temporarily reduce their fiber intake and then slowly increase it, they feel a lot better.

3. Not enough fluids

Water is also incredibly important, as it helps to move stool through the digestive tract. Getting enough becomes essential if someone is increasing fiber intake.

A good general rule: When adding a serving or two of fiber, up your water consumption by 1-2 glasses.

4. Gut flora imbalance

Antibiotics can wipe out levels of friendly gut bacteria, allowing more problematic bugs to take over, leading to diarrhea and other symptoms.

Starting Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (for children) or Saccharomyces boulardii (for adults) within two days of your first antibiotic dose may help reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.10

5. Stress and lack of sleep

Stress diverts blood flow away from the GI tract, making it harder for the body to digest food effectively. End result: gas, pain, and bloating.

Before meals, I encourage my clients to try a Box Breathing sequence:

  • Inhale for 4 seconds.
  • Hold for 4 seconds.
  • Exhale for 4 seconds.
  • Hold for 4 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.

This short breathing exercise helps trigger relaxation, sending blood flow to the GI tract, priming it to digest the food about to be eaten. It can also help people to slow down.

End result: the heartburn, stomachaches, and bloating eases.

(For more strategies on how to reduce stress, read: How stress prevents weight loss.)

6. Food aversion

Sometimes the mere thought of a food may make someone sick, though the mechanism isn’t fully understood.

These aversions often occur in young children who’ve gotten sick—for example, from food poisoning or stomach flu—after eating a particular food. Their brain then seems to link the nauseated sensation to the food.

Zero-cost ways to test for food sensitivities—at home

When clients come to me with GI symptoms, I use two different tools to help them connect what they eat with how they feel.

Tool #1: Food journaling

For roughly a month, my clients keep track of:

  • What they eat and drink
  • How they eat (for example, wolfing down fast food while driving to an appointment vs. slowly savoring a home-cooked meal)
  • How much they eat (until just satisfied versus stuffed)
  • How they feel, and especially bothersome symptoms such as diarrhea, headaches, bloating, and stomach pain
  • How they sleep
  • Their stress level 

Once they have 30 days of data, we take a look at their journal entries in search of patterns.

To highlight those patterns, I like to bring a client’s attention to days when they experienced vexing symptoms, such as stomach upset. Then I ask:

“What do you notice in your journal in the 2 to 3 days leading up to that flare up? See anything interesting?”

If applicable, I also draw attention to any stretches of time when they had no symptoms at all—and I’ll ask the same question:

“What do you notice in the days leading up to this good stretch? Did you do anything differently during those days that you didn’t do in the days leading up to the flare up?”

This journaling exercise helps people identify sensitivities as well as see they may not have as many sensitivities as they thought.

For example, after looking over their journal, a client might say, “Whoa, I accidentally had dairy on Sunday, and I didn’t have any diarrhea the next day. That’s really weird. But I did have diarrhea just about every day this other week—and I was eating perfectly then. But I was super stressed out. Do you think there’s a connection?”

Want to try this with yourself or a client? Download this free Food and Feelings Journal to get started.

An illustration of a food journal you can use to help identify food sensitivities. Each day, the journal has you track how many hours you slept and to rate your stress levels from 1-10. It has space to enter the time you ate each meal, what you ate, how you ate (for example, slow and mindfully or fast over the sink), and what you noticed (for example, a stuffy nose an hour after eating or nothing, felt okay).

A simple way to start identifying food sensitivities.

Tool #2: The elimination diet

Elimination diets work a lot like a science experiment to help people identify foods that lead to a wide range of bothersome symptoms. And they do pretty much what the name suggests: exclude certain foods for a short period of time—usually three weeks.

After three weeks, clients then slowly reintroduce specific foods one at a time, each reintroduction spaced a few days apart. As they do so, they monitor their symptoms for possible reactions. Unlike food sensitivity blood tests, elimination diets are the gold standard for identifying food sensitivities.

The problem with elimination diets? They take time and effort.

Do I wish I had a fancy, high tech, super science-y way (like a blood test) to give clients a definitive answer? Absolutely. I do. Because a fancy blood test is easier (for most people) than food logs and elimination diets.

Right now, however, this trial and error approach to testing out different foods is the best we’ve got.

But… we have a tool that makes it easier: Precision Nutrition’s  FREE ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Elimination Diets.

This easy-to-use resource includes extensive food lists, recipes, and complete how-to instructions—everything you need to know to try an elimination diet with yourself for a client. (And like I said, it’s 100 percent free.)

How to talk to clients about food sensitivity testing

If you’re a nutrition coach, maybe you’ve had this experience: A client tells you that a food sensitivity test just revealed they can’t eat 47 different foods.

Maybe it’s a young parent who’s already at wit’s end trying to find dinners that all three kids will eat.

“It’s hard enough to cook for my family and make it nutritious and now I have 47 things on my list that I can’t eat anymore,” the client says. “What am I supposed to do?”

Despite my reservations about food sensitivity blood tests, I never start by debunking someone’s test results. That would just make them feel more confused, and possibly alienate them.

Instead, I say something like this:

“If you want to jump in and cut those foods out, we can start there. But, if you don’t mind, I’d love to talk about where you’re eating, why you’re eating, and how you’re eating. Because it’s all connected to what you’re eating and how you feel..”

From there, I usually ask clients a lot of questions:

  • How long does it take you to eat your meals?
  • What’s your sleep like?
  • Do you usually eat at home… or do most meals happen somewhere else, say in the car?
  • How would you describe your stress level?

This conversation often opens the door to food journaling. That’s key, because, as I mentioned earlier, a food journal can help clients see—for themselves—what triggers symptoms, and what doesn’t.

For people with multiple food sensitivities, this tool makes meal-planning easy.

Let’s circle back to the parent I mentioned in the previous section. How do you help someone who—legit or not—has a “can’t eat” list that includes 47 foods?

Shine a spotlight on everything they can eat rather than emphasizing what they can’t.

To do so, I print out lists of foods in the following categories: lean proteins, veggies, smart carbs, and healthful fats. Working together with a client, we circle all of the foods they can eat.

Then I ask clients to pick their favorite 10 to 15 in each category.

Once they know their favorites, they can scour cookbooks and cooking sites for recipes and meal ideas that feature those ingredients. (Psst: The local library often stocks all the cookbooks they need.)

Knowledge really can be life-changing.

I’m happy to tell you that my latest scans detected no evidence of cancer in my body. Even better, I now know I can safely eat many, many foods that I once thought were off-limits for me.

Like Brussels sprouts, which happen to be one of my all-time favorite vegetables. Oh, and chocolate. I’m definitely happy that food has come back into my life.

This bears repeating: Most people with digestive problems don’t have cancer. Unlike me, they may have a food sensitivity or two.

Or maybe they don’t have a food sensitivity at all—but rather one of the six (common) issues that mimic food sensitivities.

Our psychological state and our ability to manage our stress has a much bigger impact on digestion than most people realize.

And whether they have a sensitivity or not, many people might be avoiding a lot of foods they could be eating. And they’re living in fear that the meal they just consumed might have them racing to the nearest bathroom.

For these people, food journaling and elimination diets can not only save them money, they can be illuminating, and empowering. These free tools can help them enjoy eating (and life!) all over again.

References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

 

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หรือคุณกำลังเปลี่ยนจากการนับแคลอรี่แบบเข้มงวดเป็นการใช้ ส่วนมือ.

คุณจะรู้ได้อย่างไรว่าความพยายามเหล่านั้นได้ผลจริงหรือไม่?

ใช่คุณ สามารถ เพียงแค่ไปตามมาตราส่วนหรือการวัดของคุณ แต่นั่นไม่ได้บอกอะไรมากเกี่ยวกับระดับพลังงานความสามารถในการคิดอย่างชัดเจนหรือความรู้สึกของคุณ

นอกจากนี้ยังไม่ได้บอกคุณด้วยว่าผลประโยชน์ที่คุณสังเกตเห็นนั้นมีมากกว่าต้นทุนทางจิตใจร่างกายอารมณ์หรือสังคมที่อาจมาพร้อมกับหรือไม่ เนื่องจากแม้ว่าการรับประทานอาหารจะทำให้คุณสูบฉีดมากหรือมีน้ำหนักน้อย แต่มันอาจจะคุ้มค่าหรือไม่ก็ได้สำหรับคุณหากนั่นหมายถึงการเลิกใช้นาโชไปตลอดชีวิต

(ดูวิดีโอนี้ เพื่อเรียนรู้เพิ่มเติมเกี่ยวกับประเภทของค่าใช้จ่ายที่เรากำลังพูดถึง)

นั่นเป็นเหตุผลที่เราพัฒนาแบบทดสอบ 16 คำถามที่ง่ายและรวดเร็วนี้

สามารถช่วยให้คุณตัดสินใจได้ว่าจะทำในสิ่งที่คุณทำอยู่ต่อไปปรับแต่งอาหารเล็กน้อยหรือละทิ้งแนวทางไปเลย (ตามหลักการแล้วสำหรับสิ่งที่ได้ผลดีกว่าสำหรับคุณ)

คุณจะใช้แบบทดสอบอย่างไรและเมื่อใดขึ้นอยู่กับสถานะปัจจุบันของการรับประทานอาหารของคุณ พิจารณาว่าข้อใดต่อไปนี้อธิบายคุณ:

1. คุณสงสัยว่าสถานะเดิมของคุณโอเคไหม

บางทีคุณอาจไม่ได้รับประทานอาหารที่เฉพาะเจาะจงเลย คุณเพียงแค่กินอะไรก็ได้ที่คุณต้องการเมื่อใดก็ตามที่คุณต้องการ ที่ทำงาน?

ทำแบบทดสอบทันทีเพื่อหาคำตอบ

2. คุณกำลังคิดที่จะเริ่มรับประทานอาหารใหม่

คั่นหน้านี้ (ผู้คนยังคงทำเช่นนั้นใช่ไหม) เริ่มต้นอาหารจดบันทึกสิ่งที่คุณกินความรู้สึกของคุณและปัญหาหรือความผิดหวังที่ปรากฏขึ้น

หลังจากผ่านไปอย่างน้อยสองสัปดาห์ให้กลับมาทำแบบทดสอบ

3. คุณเพิ่งเริ่มแนวทางการกินใหม่ ๆ หรือการควบคุมอาหาร

บางทีคุณอาจจะนับมาโครใช้มือเพิ่มการบริโภคอาหารทั้งตัวหรืออย่างอื่น

หากคุณเข้ามาอย่างน้อยสองสัปดาห์ให้ทำแบบทดสอบทันที

4. คุณได้รับประทานอาหารหรือแนวทางใหม่ ๆ มาระยะหนึ่งแล้ว

หลายสัปดาห์หรือหลายเดือน (หรือหลายปี!) คุณกำลังสงสัยว่าแผนการรับประทานอาหารนี้ตอบสนองความต้องการของฉันทั้งหมดหรือไม่? ฉันสามารถอยู่ในแผนนี้ในระยะยาวและมีสุขภาพที่ดีมีพลังและมีความสุขได้หรือไม่?

ทำแบบทดสอบตอนนี้เพื่อหาคำตอบ

การประเมินตนเอง

เลือกหมายเลขที่ตรงกับความเห็นของคุณกับข้อความต่อไปนี้มากที่สุด

ในระดับ 1 (ไม่เคย) ถึง 10 (เสมอ) ส่วนใหญ่แล้ว …

1. เมื่อฉันกินแบบนี้ฉันรู้สึกดีโดยทั่วไป

2. เมื่อฉันกินด้วยวิธีนี้ฉันมีพลังงานที่เชื่อถือได้และยั่งยืนโดยไม่ต้องพังทลาย

3. ฉันพยายามเลือกอาหารที่มีคุณภาพดีที่สุด

4. วิธีการกินแบบนี้ทำได้ง่ายและเข้ากับชีวิตประจำวันของฉัน

5. ฉันรู้ว่าควรเลือกและกินอาหารประเภทใด

6. ฉันรู้สึกมั่นใจและมีความสามารถในการปรุงอาหารและการเตรียมอาหารและมื้ออาหาร

7. เมื่อฉันกินด้วยวิธีนี้ฉันแทบจะไม่ต่อสู้กับความอยากอาหารหรือกระตุ้นให้กินมากเกินไป

8. เมื่อฉันกินด้วยวิธีนี้ฉันจะย่อยอาหารได้ดี

9. ฉันกำลังแสดงและฟื้นตัวได้ดี

10. ในโอกาสทางสังคมเช่นการออกไปเที่ยวกับเพื่อน ๆ ที่ร้านอาหารฉันมักจะหาอะไรที่ชอบและรู้สึกสบายใจที่จะกิน

11. ฉันชอบรสชาติและประสบการณ์ของสิ่งที่ฉันกินอย่างแท้จริง

12. ฉันรู้สึกสงบและผ่อนคลายกับการเลือกอาหาร ไม่ใช่เรื่องใหญ่แค่ส่วนหนึ่งของชีวิตฉัน

13. วิธีที่ฉันกินนั้นตรงกับเป้าหมายเฉพาะด้านสุขภาพความฟิตและประสิทธิภาพ

14. วิธีที่ฉันกินอย่างวัดผลได้ช่วยให้ฉันก้าวไปสู่เป้าหมายได้

15. วิธีการกินของฉันสะท้อนให้เห็นถึงคุณค่าที่ลึกซึ้งของฉันหรือวิธีที่ฉันต้องการมีชีวิตอยู่

16. แม้ว่าคนอื่นจะกดดันให้ฉันทำอะไรที่แตกต่างออกไปหรือสไตล์การกินของฉันไม่ตรงกับคนรอบข้าง แต่ฉันก็สามารถทำตามคำแนะนำหรือเป้าหมายของตัวเองได้

คะแนนรวม:

128 ขึ้นไป: ขยี้มัน!

วิธีการรับประทานอาหารนี้ได้ผลดีสำหรับคุณ ทำสิ่งต่างๆของคุณต่อไป

104 ถึง 127: นี่เป็นแนวโน้มที่ดี

โดยรวมแล้วสิ่งต่างๆเป็นไปได้ดีกับการทดลองกินของคุณ คุณอาจพิจารณาทำการเปลี่ยนแปลงเล็ก ๆ น้อย ๆ แต่ดูเหมือนว่าคุณกำลังไปในทิศทางที่ถูกต้อง

80-103: ผลผสม

วิธีนี้อาจได้ผลดีสำหรับคุณในบางพื้นที่ แต่คุณอาจกำลังลำบากในบางด้าน พิจารณาว่ามีการปรับแต่งใด ๆ ที่คุณสามารถทำได้ซึ่งจะทำให้รู้สึกยั่งยืนมากขึ้น

น้อยกว่า 80: สิ่งนี้ไม่ได้ผลสำหรับคุณ

จากการประเมินนี้คุณกำลังประสบปัญหาบางประการ แต่อย่ารู้สึกแย่กับเรื่องนั้น ให้คิดว่าเป็นการทดลองที่ช่วยให้คุณเข้าใจบางสิ่งที่สำคัญ: แนวทางการกินนี้อาจไม่เหมาะกับคุณอย่างน้อยก็ตอนนี้

คุณจะไปที่ไหนจากที่นี่? ขึ้นอยู่กับคุณในที่สุด

ความสำเร็จขึ้นอยู่กับแผนการที่คุณสามารถยึดมั่นได้อย่างสม่ำเสมอซึ่งมีการแลกเปลี่ยนที่คุณพอใจ (หากต้องการเรียนรู้เพิ่มเติมเกี่ยวกับความหมายของการแลกเปลี่ยนโปรดดู: ค่าใช้จ่ายในการรับแบบลีน.)

ด้วยเหตุนี้คุณอาจตัดสินใจที่จะ:

อ่านข้อมูลเกี่ยวกับอาหารอื่น ๆ

บางทีคุณอาจสนใจที่จะเรียนรู้เกี่ยวกับ:

หรือบางทีคุณเพียงแค่ต้องการรับประทานอาหารที่สมดุลซึ่งช่วยให้คุณสามารถบริโภคอาหารได้หลากหลายโดยไม่มีข้อยกเว้นใด ๆ (ในกรณีนั้นให้ใช้ เครื่องคำนวณโภชนาการของเรา และดู “อาหารอะไรก็ได้”)

รับแผนกำหนดเอง

เสียบข้อมูลของคุณลงในไฟล์ เครื่องคำนวณโภชนาการที่แม่นยำ เครื่องคำนวณมาโครฟรีนี้ช่วยให้คุณมีแผนเป็นรายบุคคลตามความต้องการและเป้าหมายด้านอาหารส่วนบุคคลของคุณ

ทำการเปลี่ยนแปลงเพียงเล็กน้อย

ตัวอย่างเช่นคุณอาจ:

ไม่ว่าคุณจะทำการเปลี่ยนแปลงครั้งใหญ่หรือการเปลี่ยนแปลงเล็ก ๆ จงมีความคิดในการทดลอง ลองทำสิ่งที่ดูเหมือนว่าจะเหมาะกับคุณ ทดลองใช้สองสามสัปดาห์ ใช้เครื่องมือข้างต้นเพื่อประเมินว่ามันเป็นอย่างไร – และก้าวต่อไปจากที่นั่น

เมื่อเวลาผ่านไปคุณจะเก็บกลยุทธ์บางอย่างและทำลายคนอื่น

ในที่สุดคุณก็จะได้รับประทานอาหารที่ดีที่สุดสำหรับคุณ

หากคุณเป็นโค้ชหรือคุณต้องการเป็น …

การเรียนรู้วิธีฝึกสอนลูกค้าผู้ป่วยเพื่อนหรือสมาชิกในครอบครัวผ่านการรับประทานอาหารที่ดีต่อสุขภาพและการเปลี่ยนแปลงวิถีชีวิตในแบบที่ปรับให้เหมาะกับร่างกายความชอบและสถานการณ์เฉพาะของพวกเขาเป็นทั้งศิลปะและวิทยาศาสตร์

หากคุณต้องการเรียนรู้เพิ่มเติมเกี่ยวกับทั้งสองอย่างให้พิจารณา การรับรองโภชนาการที่แม่นยำระดับ 1 กลุ่มต่อไปจะเริ่มในไม่ช้า

A Complete Guide for Vegetarians

Types of Diets | Benefits | Risks | Coaching Tips | What to Eat | Diet quiz

Pop quiz: Which of the following is a plant-based diet?

  1. The Mediterranean diet
  2. The vegetarian diet
  3. The vegan diet
  4. The flexitarian diet

The answer: All of the above.

If you’re surprised by that revelation, know this: You’re 100% normal.

After all…

When it comes to plant-based diets, there’s a heck of a lot of confusion.

In this article, we’ll attempt to clear things up by exploring several questions.

Plus, you’ll find a quiz that can help you test your diet.

What are plant-based and vegetarian diets?

Let’s start with the debate about plant-based diets and meat.

Some plant-based eaters include meat—and some don’t.

This even includes people who identify as vegetarians.

Imagine a continuum, with 100% carnivore at one end and 100% vegan (no animals or animal products) at the other.

On that continuum, plant-based eaters fall closer to vegans than they do carnivores, eating more plants than meat. But, as the graphic below shows, “more plants than meat” allows for lots of variations.

Graphic that shows the variation of plant-based diets, placing foods on a scale from low to high Meatiness of Plantiness.

Strict vegans fall into the “plant-based” bucket, as the “plantiness” of their diet is 100 percent.

Generally, vegetarians don’t eat meat or seafood, but do sometimes consume animal products such as eggs and dairy. Though their food choices are less plant-focused than a vegan’s, they’re still plant-based eaters.

▶ Flexitarians, semi vegetarians, or part-time vegetarians tend to consume meat and seafood—either occasionally or in small amounts. But because they eat more plants than meat, they also fall into the plant-based bucket.

People who follow Mediterranean or Paleo diets might eat meat as often as every day. But they tend to also eat a lot of whole plant foods. As long as plants make up a significant portion of what they eat, we’d consider them plant-based, too.

This chart (see below) shows what different plant-based eaters are willing to eat and not eat.

Chart shows what different types of plant-based eaters are willing to eat and/or do. 1) Flexitarian: red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, plants, buy leather/furs; 2) Pollo-vegetarian: poultry, eggs, plants, buy leather/furs; 3) Pescatarian: seafood, plants, buy leather/furs; 4) Lacto-ovo vegetarian: eggs, dairy, plants, buy leather/furs; 5) Lacto-vegetarian: dairy, plants, buy leather/furs; 6) Ovo-vegetarian: eggs, plants, buy leather/furs; 7) Fully-plant based: plants, buy leather/furs; 8) Vegan: plants

The above only paints a partial picture—as many plant-based eaters don’t fit into just one box. There are pescatarians who eat seafood, eggs, and dairy—as well as pescatarians who eat seafood, but no other animal products.

Similarly, some vegetarians and fully plant-based eaters are okay with products made from animals (such as leather or fur), while others are not.

Still other people allow animal products into their lives sometimes—but not other times. For example, one of our clients sees herself as a vegan who never eats animal products in any form—except for cupcakes. If she’s in a bakery and no vegan options are available, she’ll enjoy whatever looks delicious.

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Pros of Plant-Based and Vegetarian Diets

Plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Gallbladder disease 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

However, plant-based eaters may be healthier not because they eat less meat—but rather because of the following reasons:

Reason #1: Plant-based diets attract health-conscious individuals.

Generally speaking, plant-based eaters are the kind of people who floss their teeth, exercise, take the stairs, sleep 7 to 9 hours, and get regular check ups.6

In other words, they might be healthier not only because of what they do and don’t eat, but also because of their overall lifestyle.

Reason #2: Plant-based eaters tend to eat more plants. (Duh.)

Plant-based eaters tend to score pretty high on something called the Healthy Eating Index, which is a measure of dietary quality.

Because plant-based eaters usually consume more minimally-processed whole plant foods that have known health-protective effects, they drive down their risk for disease.7

Reason #3: Minimally-processed plant foods tend to be nutrient-dense.

Just one example: A cup of broccoli, berries, or black beans contains more nutrients than a slice of pizza, for much fewer calories. Depending on the plant food, these nutrients can include:

  • Antioxidants, which help protect our DNA from free radical damage.
  • Phytonutrients, plant chemicals thought to promote good health.
  • Myconutrients, health-promoting compounds found in mushrooms.
  • Fiber, indigestible plant material that bulks up stool (reducing constipation), as well as helps regulate appetite and control cholesterol and blood sugar.
  • Healthy fats like the monounsaturated fats found in avocados and the polyunsaturated fats found in seeds and nuts.

Reason #4: Minimally-processed plant foods tend to fill us up, crowding out processed foods.

Plants contain a lot of water, which adds weight and volume to food, without adding calories. They also contain fiber to slow digestion.

End result: They’re pretty dang filling.

So when people consume more plants, they tend to eat fewer ultra-processed refined foods like chips, cookies, and mac and cheese. 8, 9

(If you’ve ever had a “salad baby,” you know how hard it is to follow up with a milkshake or a bag of chips.)

The Cost of Restricting Food Groups

Whenever you make a dietary change, you face some tradeoffs.

See the chart below: As dietary restrictions increase, time-commitment and nutrient deficiency risk go up, too.

On the other hand, as consumption of highly-processed foods increases, time-commitment drops—while deficiency risk rises.

This chart is titled “The Continuum of Nutrition.” At the top of the chart is a horizontal green bar: On the left end it reads, “Greatest Nutrient Variety”; on the right end, it reads, “Greatest Deficiency Risk.” On the left side of the chart, there’s a vertical orange bar. On the bottom end it reads, “Harder to Maintain”; on the top end, it reads, “Easier to Maintain.” Types of eating styles are plotted based on where they fall on both continuums. “Whole food omnivore” ranks well on “easier to maintain” and “greatest nutrient variety.” “Whole food pescatarian” is a little harder than that in both categories, but still scores well overall. “Whole food vegetarian” and “whole food vegan” both move farther away on both continuums, with “whole food vegan” being the hardest to maintain and having the least nutrient variety of the aforementioned approaches. However, all of these approaches provide great nutrient variety than the processed food version of each approach. Those fall in the same order, but are each at progressively greater risk of nutrient deficiency.

Reason #5: Strict food rules can work.

It takes work—label reading, food prep, menu scrutiny—to follow a well-rounded plant-based diet, which leads to healthier choices. Plus, if someone’s a strict vegan or vegetarian, the “don’t eat” list can eliminate less nutritious, high-calorie foods, like wings and pork rinds.

(Learn more: The modern diet dilemma: Is it better to eat meat? Go vegan? Something in between? The truth about what’s right for you.)

Is it possible to eat enough protein on a plant-based diet?

Despite popular belief, many plant foods contain decent amounts of protein.

So, protein deficiency among plant-based eaters isn’t as common as you might think.

Check out how plant proteins stack up.

FOOD PROTEIN (in grams)
Animal-based protein sources Per palm-sized portion*
Skinless chicken breast, grilled 31
Cottage cheese 25
Greek yogurt, plain 22
Shrimp, cooked 21
Eggs 12
Plant-based  protein sources
Seitan, cooked 22
Tempeh, cooked 18
Tofu, drained and cooked 16
Plant-based fat sources Per thumb-sized portion*
Pumpkin seeds 2
Peanut butter 3.5
Plant-based carb sources Per cupped hand*
Cooked lentils 8
Bread, multigrain 5
Pasta 4
Non-starchy vegetables Per fist*
Broccoli 3
Spinach 1
Carrots 1

* Palm-sized = 3-4 oz cooked meat / tofu, 1 cup cottage cheese / Greek yogurt, 2 whole eggs; Cupped handful = 1/2-2/3 cup cooked grains / legumes, medium-sized fruit / tuber;
Thumb = 1 tbsp; Fist = 1 cup

A couple of caveats:

▶  Whole foods are important. Clients who regularly consume tempeh, legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds will have little trouble meeting their protein requirements.

On the other hand, clients who eat mostly refined pasta, refined bread, vegan cupcakes, and toaster pastries may struggle.

Plant-based proteins are generally not as rich in essential amino acids—nor are they as well-absorbed—as animal-based proteins.

For folks who rely solely on plants, protein needs slightly increase, compared to omnivores, to account for this protein quality discrepancy. See our article about plant-based proteins to learn more.

The Cons of Plant-Based Diets

Here’s the bad news…

Anytime you omit entire groups of foods, you must work harder to get all the nutrients your body needs. This is especially true if someone:

  • Is fully plant-based or vegan.
  • Tends to eat a diet rich in highly-processed foods.

To reduce the risk for deficiencies, aim for a diet composed of 80 to 90 percent whole, minimally-processed foods.

Also, consider the following nutrient-specific advice.

Calcium

In addition to keeping bones and teeth strong, calcium helps muscles—including your heart muscle—work properly.

Dairy products offer a particularly rich source, with each serving supplying nearly a third of the 1000 to 1200 milligrams the typical person needs every day.

To get enough calcium from non-dairy foods, use this advice:

▶ Consume several servings of high-calcium plant foods a day. Calcium-rich plant foods include leafy greens (collards, turnip greens, kale), calcium-set tofu, sesame seed butter, blackstrap molasses, okra, broccoli, figs, beans, almonds, edamame, soy nuts, and fortified plant milks. To increase absorption, cook calcium-rich greens rather than consume them raw.

▶ Cut back on salt, alcohol, and soft drinks. When people consume a lot of alcohol, salt, and soft drinks, they tend to take in fewer nutrient-dense, minimally-processed whole foods. For example, when someone chooses a soft drink, they’re not choosing a calcium-enriched plant milk. When they sit down with a bowl of salty chips, by default they’re not having broccoli or figs. 

▶ Exercise. Weight-bearing exercise stimulates bones, helping them to increase their density and reduce risk of fractures.

Vitamin B12

Our bodies need B12 to make DNA, strengthen blood vessels, and keep nerves working. Because B12 is involved in red blood cell formation, deficiency can lead to anemia.

Though a few plants contain substances that the body can convert to B12, we don’t absorb and use these substances as readily as the B12 present in animal products.10 Plus, many people over age 50 are already deficient, whether they eat meat or not.

That’s because, as we age, our stomachs make less acid (which breaks down B12) and intrinsic factor (which helps the body absorb B12). And some medications—such as acid blockers—reduce absorption even more.

For these reasons, a daily B12 supplement is a good idea for:

  • People over 50.
  • People who take medications that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption, such as those used to treat reflux, ulcers, and diabetes.
  • People who are partially or fully plant-based.

Even with supplements, some people might show signs of deficiency: fatigue, dizziness or loss of balance, and reduced mental function.

In those cases, their health care provider can check their B12 levels with a blood test and potentially prescribe intramuscular (injected) B12, which is better absorbed than oral (including sublingual) supplements.

Omega-3 fats

These fats are helpful in preventing heart disease as well as important for the development of eye, nerve and brain tissue (especially in fetuses and babies).

Omega-3 fats come in a few forms:

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA):
The richest sources of EPA and/or DHA are found in sea vegetables (such as seaweed) and seafood, especially fatty varieties like salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, and oysters.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 
Flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, soy, dark leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables are all rich sources of ALA.

Our bodies must convert ALA into EPA or DHA before using it. About 90% of the ALA fat is lost during the conversion. In other words, if you consume 2.5 grams of ALA from plants, your body will only convert and use only about 10 percent, or .25 grams.11

Bottom line: Non-seafood-eating clients will want to include legumes, nuts, flaxseed oil, hemp, ground flaxseed, walnuts, and other ALA-rich foods daily.12

Iron

Because iron carries oxygen around the body, low levels can lead to fatigue.

Animal products are a particularly rich source of a type of iron called heme that our bodies absorb more easily than the non-heme iron found in beans, peas, lentils, and other plants. (Your body absorbs about 15 to 35 percent of the heme iron you eat, but only about 2 to 20 percent of non-heme iron.)

To help boost iron intake and absorption, use this advice:

▶ Increase absorption by consuming iron-rich plant foods with foods high in vitamin C. Use the chart below for ideas. Maybe you make a tofu stir fry with broccoli or a bean salad with tomatoes, peppers, and a squeeze of lime.

Rich in iron Rich in vitamin C
Pumpkin seeds Citrus fruit and juices (ex: oranges)
Tofu Cantaloupe
Tempeh Strawberries
Edamame Broccoli
Lentils Tomatoes
Beans Peppers
Peas Winter squash
Sunflower seeds Watermelon
Nuts Guava
Hummus Kale
Almond butter Kiwi
Leafy greens Potatoes
Fortified foods
Potatoes
White and oyster mushrooms
Amaranth
Spelt
Oats
Quinoa
Dark chocolate

▶ Cook with cast iron cookware. Research shows it can increase the iron content of the food you eat.13

▶ Don’t drink coffee or black tea with food. These drinks contain tannins that inhibit the absorption of iron.

People who thrive on plant-based diets

Some people jump right into plant-based eating with gusto and stay immersed for life. They look and feel amazing, so much so that they can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t eat this way.

Other people? They struggle. They don’t feel good and/or just can’t get in the hang of it.

What makes the difference?

People who do best on plant-based diets:

✓ Have an open-minded “I’ll try anything once” approach to eating. Sea veggies? Slimy fermented soy? Bring it.

✓  Embrace minimally-processed whole foods such as vegetables, beans, and lentils.

✓ Have the time and inclination to search out vegetarian recipes, restaurants, and meal-delivery options.

✓ Have support from family/friends who may also follow their lifestyle.

✓ Have a deep “why” for being plant-based, such as “I just can’t stand the idea of harming animals” or “I want to do everything possible to shrink my carbon footprint.”

✓ Are flexible about their plant-based identity. They’re okay consuming eggs, dairy, seafood, or meat from time to time, if no other options exist.

People who struggle on plant-based diets:

Cook for picky eaters who either love meat or hate plant-foods—or both.

✓ Prefer highly-processed refined foods over minimally-processed plant foods.

Lack a strong “why” for going plant-based.

Lack the time and energy to investigate new recipes or restaurants.

How to coach clients on plant-based diets

To help clients succeed, consider this advice.

Strategy #1: Don’t assume you know what clients mean when they say, “I’m a vegetarian” or “I’m plant-based.”

As we mentioned earlier, there are many types of plant-based and vegetarian eaters. So ask questions like:

  • What does “vegetarian” or “plant-based” mean to you?
  • Could you tell me a little more about what foods you enjoy eating and what foods you choose to eliminate?
  • What do you eat and how often?

Clients have given us a wide range of answers to those questions.

Some say they’re vegetarian before dinner. Pre-dinner they eat no meat. During dinner, however, they’ll have whatever everyone else is having.

Others eat vegetarian while at home, but anything goes in social settings.

Strategy #2: Understand their why.

Different people have different reasons for adopting a plant-based diet—and some of those reasons are more powerful drivers of motivation than others.

It’s probably easy to see how someone who is allergic to eggs could easily stop eating them for the rest of their life.

But let’s say someone has a vague notion that “meat is bad”—based on a documentary they watched. And they happen to love bacon. And burgers.

Sure, their vague “meat is bad” perception might motivate them… for a while. But as the memory of the documentary fades, they’ll probably find that bacon and other beloved foods creep back in.

(BTW, if nutrition fads leave you frustrated, check out: How to talk to clients (and your mother) about the latest Netflix documentary.)

In these cases, we like to use an exercise called “the 5 Whys.”

Originally used by the Toyota Motor Corporation and adapted for nutrition coaching by Precision Nutrition, it cuts to the core of why we want something.

Ask your client: Why do you want to go plant-based?

Then, based on whatever the client offers, ask why again.

And so on, up to five times.

Here’s an example from one of our vegetarian clients. It took 4 whys to get to his true reason:

Coach: So, tell me a little more about your reasons for being a vegetarian. Why do you want to do this?
Client: Well, I grew up vegetarian. In my religion, we don’t eat meat.
Coach: That’s really interesting. Tell me a little more about that. Why do you believe you shouldn’t eat meat?
Client: {Laughs} I don’t personally believe that. My religion says that.
Coach: Okay, I see. But why do you do it if you don’t really believe it’s bad?
Client: See, it’s my family. My siblings and parents are more devout than I am. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still religious. I’m just not as religious as they are. And I don’t want them to think badly about me.
Coach: I can understand why you’d want to remain close to your family. I’m curious: If you’re only a vegetarian because you don’t want your family to think badly of you, why do you remain vegetarian when they’re not around?
Client: Truthfully? I don’t. I mean, I don’t eat a lot of meat, mostly because of guilt. But, if my family isn’t around, I’m happy to go to rib fest, you know?

This conversation helped this client to understand that he was probably going to eat meat from time to time. His “why” just wasn’t powerful enough to help him completely abstain.

Plus, he was okay with eating meat—as long as his family didn’t see him do it.

Strategy #3: Talk about likely obstacles.

Work together to brainstorm situations likely to arise—and how clients plan to deal with them.

  • What will they do when they’re out with friends who encourage them, “Oh come on, just have one wing”?
  • How will they respond when grandma says, “I know you love meatloaf. That’s why I made this—just for you honey”?
  • How will they handle restaurants with little to no plant-based or vegetarian options?

After talking through some of these likely situations, ask clients: How comfortable are you with flexibility?

In other words, do they want to choose plant foods no matter what? Or are some animal products okay… in certain situations?

Remind clients that:

An imperfect plan done consistently beats a perfect plan done rarely.

Some of our clients have said that an imperfect plan means they’re okay eating:

  • Commercially-prepared soups made with chicken broth, but not if they contain chunks of meat.
  • Meat, if a friend serves it to them, but not if they’re home preparing their own meals.
  • Salads, even if it comes with small bacon bits sprinkled on top.
  • Wings, if it’s a special occasion.
  • Turkey, stuffing, and/or gravy at a holiday meal with extended family.

Flexible clients can think about health habits being like a volume dial.

If they’re new to plant-based eating, they might want to start with the dial pretty low. Maybe it’s at a 1, with them consuming a plant-based meal once a week or even once a month.

Over time, they might want to up the dial to a 3, with all of their breakfasts 100-percent plant-based.

They might decide that a 5 is as far as they want to go. Or they may want to keep increasing the volume, eventually ending up at a 10, with every single meal coming from plants.

But just because they get to a 10 doesn’t mean they need to stay there.

Some days, it’s easy to eat at a 10. Other days, many people find they must lower the “volume,” allowing for a little meat or animal products.

By turning the volume down and up as needed, people can continue to embrace plant-based eating consistently.

(To learn more, check out this infographic: How to use the “dial method” to improve your diet, fitness, and health.)

Strategy #4: Brainstorm ways to shape their environment.

Plant-based eaters live in the same environment as everyone else—which is to say, chances are good they’re:

  1. Surrounded by highly-processed food options.
  2. Often choose foods based on convenience.

This environment will influence their food decisions.

You’re more likely to eat food that’s close and easy to grab than food that’s farther away or out of sight.

And you’re less likely to eat food that requires work to prepare—washing, peeling, slicing—than food that can go straight from the fridge or cupboard and into your mouth.

To eat enough minimally-processed whole foods, clients will want to make those foods easy to eat. At that same time, they’ll want to make highly-processed refined foods harder to eat. To accomplish this, they might:

  • Always have ready-to-munch sliced veggies in the fridge.
  • Soak beans and/or lentils every Sunday.
  • Buy bagged, prewashed salad mix.
  • Store highly processed snacks on a high shelf, out of sight.

By making these tweaks, they’ll be much more likely to grab and eat the foods that help them meet their nutrition requirements.

The Plant-Based Diet: What to eat

Traditionally, a vegetarian’s plate is filled with a lot of plants: vegetables, fruit, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and oils. Depending on the person, there might also be some dairy, fish, or eggs.

Using the food lists shown in this infographic—a visual guide to plant-based eating—consider how you could move along a spectrum, starting from your current eating pattern to choices that are more whole food and plant-based, and less processed.

For a complete guide that includes how much protein, carbs, fat you should eat, plug your info into our macros calculator. (It’s FREE and gives you a customized plan based on your diet preferences and goals.)

Plant-based diets: Do they work—for you?

There’s really only one proven way to know if a plant-based diet works for you:

Try it.

Treat it like an experiment. Define what plant-based means to you. Then dive in—for at least two weeks.

After at least 2 weeks, take this short quiz—it’ll help you assess if your eating strategy is working. You can come back to the quiz time and again—and for any diet approach—so you might want to bookmark it.

No matter your results, remember this: It’s all okay.

As we mentioned earlier: You can always turn down the “volume.” Rather than eating plants for most meals, you might try for half of them. Or for just breakfasts. Or one dinner a week.

Or whatever other option feels doable to you.

This isn’t about earning awards for plant-based perfection. It’s about being consistent—with whatever incrementally better habits you can manage.

And if you decide that plant-based eating just isn’t for you? No biggie!

There are many other ways to eat well. (You might consider Mediterranean, Keto, Paleo, reverse dieting, or intermittent fasting as other options).

Or try the “anything” diet laid out in our Precision Nutrition Calculator. Keep experimenting and trying new things. Eventually, you’ll land on the best diet—for you.

References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

The Paleo Diet: Your Complete How-To Guide

The Basics | Research | Pros | Cons | How to Coach It | Food List

First popularized in the 1970s, the Paleo Diet encourages the consumption of foods ancient humans are thought to have eaten hundreds of thousands of years ago—before the dawn of modern agriculture. Think: roots, seeds, fruits, fish, game, and other morsels people could easily gather or club to death.

What are the benefits of this diet? The risks? And is it right for you?

This article will provide those answers.

That way, you can maximize the diet’s benefits while minimizing the diet’s pitfalls. (And yes, they ALL have pitfalls.)

So if you or your clients want to try Paleo—but don’t know where to start—keep reading. You’ll learn:

Paleo Diet Basics

The Paleo diet—also referred to as the Paleolithic diet, Primal diet, and Ancestral diet—is based on two central ideas.

Idea #1: Humans adapted to eat particular kinds of foods.

According to Paleo enthusiasts, our ancient human genetic blueprint doesn’t match our modern diet and lifestyle.

Until about 10,000 years ago, humans ate what they hunted (meat, fish) or gathered (fruit, vegetables, roots, tubers, nuts, seeds, eggs, honey).

Then most of the world figured out agriculture. We moved from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic period. Planting and farming provided us with a consistent and relatively reliable food supply, without which modern civilization could never have developed.

Fun fact: The 10,000-year time frame since the dawn of the Neolithic period represents only about one percent of the time we humans have been on Earth.

Idea #2: To stay healthy, strong, and fit—and avoid the chronic diseases of modern times—we need to eat like our ancestors.

Paleo enthusiasts claim that eating like our ancient ancestors will improve your health and our well-being.

The Paleo diet also makes some key evolutionary assumptions:

  • Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were robust and healthy. If they didn’t die young from accident or infectious diseases, they lived about as long as we do now.
  • When Paleolithic hunter-gatherers shifted to Neolithic agriculture, they got relatively sicker, shorter, and spindlier.
  • Modern hunter-gatherers are healthy, and their health declines when they switch to a modern diet.

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Paleo Diet: The Truth

So you might have noticed that we attributed the two central ideas to “Paleo enthusiasts.”

And that phrasing was intentional.

Because there are some issues with both ideas.

Hunter-gatherers were not pristine models of health.

To begin with, they harbored various parasites. They were also subject to many infectious diseases.

What’s more, a study in The Lancet looked at 137 mummies from societies ranging all over the world—from Egypt, Peru, the American Southwest, and the Aleutian Islands—to search for signs of hardening of the arteries (a condition known as atherosclerosis).

They noted probable or definite atherosclerosis in 47 of 137 mummies from all four geographical regions, regardless of whether the people had been farmers or hunter-gatherers, peasants, or societal elite.

The deciding factor? It was age, not diet. Mummies who were older than 40 when they died tended to have hardening in several arteries, compared to mummies who’d died at younger ages.1,2

There wasn’t just one Paleo diet—there were many different ones.

Our ancestors lived pretty much all over the world, in diverse environments, eating varied diets.

And some of them did indeed consume foods that are typically shunned on the Paleo diet.

Like grains.

Like cereals.

Like beans.

Ancient humans may have begun eating grains and cereals before the Paleolithic era even began—up to three or even four million years ago, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.3 And not only did our Paleolithic ancestors eat legumes, these were actually an important part of their diet, several research reviews reveal.4-6

In other words, the idea that Paleolithic humans never ate grains, cereals, and beans appears to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Modern fruits and vegetables aren’t like the ones our ancestors ate.

Early fruits and vegetables were often bitter, much smaller, tougher to harvest, and sometimes toxic.

Over time, we’ve bred plants with the most preferable and enticing traits—the biggest fruits, prettiest colors, sweetest flesh, fewest natural toxins, and largest yields. We’ve also diversified plant types—creating new varieties such as hundreds of cultivars of potatoes or tomatoes from a few ancestral varieties.

For example, over many years, farmers selectively bred Brassica oleracea—also known as wild mustard—into plants with bigger leaves, thicker stalks, or larger buds. This eventually created the many different vegetables of the Brassica family: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and kohlrabi.

These vegetables seem quite different from one another, but all originated from the same plant species.

Most modern animal foods aren’t the same.

Beef (even if grass-fed) isn’t the same as wild game such as bison or deer meat. Because wild game move around a lot more than domesticated animals, they’re leaner and their meat contains less fat.7

This doesn’t make modern produce or modern meat inherently inferior or superior. It’s just different from nearly anything available in Paleolithic times.

So the claim that we should eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and meats because we’re evolved to eat precisely those foods is suspect. The food we eat today didn’t even exist in Paleolithic times.

No matter how you slice it, Paleo proponents’ evolutionary arguments don’t hold up.

But that doesn’t mean the diet itself is bad.

Maybe it’s good for completely different reasons than they say.

(For a deeper dive into the science, see The Paleo Problem.)

Paleo Diet Pros

Despite our qualms with the historical underpinning of Paleo, the diet likely gets more right than it gets wrong.

Paleo-style eating emphasizes whole foods.

This is a massive improvement over the average Western diet. The top six calorie sources in the U.S. diet today are grain-based desserts (cake, cookies), yeast breads, chicken-based dishes (and you know that doesn’t mean a grilled chicken salad), sweetened beverages, pizza, and alcoholic drinks.

Those aren’t ancestral foods—nor foods that, when consumed in abundance, promote good health. So when proponents of the Paleo diet claim that our modern Western diet isn’t healthy for us, they’re absolutely correct.

Paleo-style eating has been extremely effective for improving several chronic diseases.

According to several studies, the Paleo diet can help improve blood pressure, glucose tolerance, inflammation, thyroid levels, and blood lipids.8-11

Paleo will likely leave you feeling satisfied.

The Paleo diet may be more satiating per calorie than some other eating styles.12,13

Why? Paleo encourages the consumption of vegetables and meat—two food groups that dampen hunger and increase post-meal satiety.

Vegetables contain relatively fewer calories than other foods. Meat is rich in protein, which helps to trigger the release of appetite-regulating hormones.

Paleo Diet Cons

All restrictive diets, including Paleo, share two potential pitfalls: inconsistent compliance and nutritional deficiency.

We’ll start with compliance.

Paleo can be tough to maintain.

Restrictive diets like Paleo can be easier in the short term because you don’t have many decisions to make. It’s simple—just eat the foods the diet says to eat. Don’t eat the foods the diet says not to eat.

No thinking. No measuring.

But long term? It’s harder—because not everyone in your life is following Paleo.

Not every restaurant serves Paleo meals.

Plus, some of the foods on your “don’t eat” list may be foods you love.

Like fresh-baked bread.

Like most desserts.

Like pumpkin lattes.

This is why strictly following a list of “good” and “bad” or “allowed” and “not allowed” foods tends to be problematic for many people. It’s less effective over the long-term—because ultimately, it decreases our consistency. (Read more: The problem labeling foods as “good” or “bad.”)

So it makes a lot of sense that people struggle to remain consistent on Paleo over the long term.

In a study of 250 people, only 35 percent of dieters stuck with the Paleo diet for a full year, compared to 57 percent of people on the Mediterranean diet and 54 percent of people who tried intermittent fasting. When compared to the two other diets, people who tried Paleo lost less weight, too.14

Restrictive diets make deficiency more likely.

Anytime you cut out foods and food groups, you must work harder to replace what you lose. It takes more effort to get the nutrients you need.

In the case of Paleo, you’ll have to work harder to get enough of these nutrients:

Calcium: Dairy offers a rich source of highly absorbable calcium. As the chart below shows, our bodies take up 97 percent of the calcium from cheese, yogurt, and milk—but much less from non-dairy sources.15

To get enough calcium while on Paleo, make sure you’re eating at least a fistful of dark leafy greens (collards, kale, bok choy) every day.

Riboflavin and Thiamin: These B vitamins are present in high amounts in cereals, grains, beans, and milk—all foods that are off limits on Paleo. To make sure you’re getting enough, consume plenty of green veggies, fish, mussels, and eggs.16

Carbohydrate: If you train intensely, you may struggle to get enough carbohydrate on the Paleo diet. If you exercise intensely on a regular basis, the modified Paleo diet (see next section) may be a better option.

Fiber: Early humans actually ate a lot of fiber—as much as 100 grams a day.17 Many health organizations recommend somewhere between 25 and 35 daily grams—and most people consume half that amount, even when they’re not omitting fiber-rich beans, legumes, or grains for the Paleo diet.

To make up for the fiber from those foods, consume high-fiber produce several times a day. Good options include beets, apples, figs, berries, spinach, okra, Brussels sprouts, pears, and avocados. See the “Top Paleo-Approved High-Fiber Foods” below.

Top Paleo Approved High-Fiber Foods

Food Soluble Fiber (g) Insoluble Fiber (g) Total Fiber (g)
Avocado (medium, California) 3 6 9
Guava (1 cup raw) 2 7 9
Raspberries (1 cup) 7 1 8
Hubbard squash (1 cup cooked) 4 3 7
Jicama (1 cup raw) 3 3 6
Brussels sprouts (1 cup, cooked) 2 3 5
Pear (1 medium) 2.5 3 5.5
Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi (1 cup cooked) 3 2 5
Turnip, mustard, or collard greens (1 cup cooked) 2 3 5
Cabbage (1 cup cooked) 2 2 4
Apple (1 medium) 1 3 4

Enter the Modified Paleo Diet

Because of the pitfalls we just mentioned, the Paleo diet has evolved to include moderate amounts of starch (especially sweet potatoes, but also white potatoes and white rice), as well as some dark chocolate, red wine and non-grain spirits (such as tequila), and limited amounts of grass-fed dairy.

Beyond making life more pleasant, these additions make social situations a lot easier to navigate.

They also make healthy eating more attractive and achievable.

In the end, moderation, sanity, and your personal preferences are more important than any specific food list.

How to Coach Someone on Paleo

Maybe you’re a big believer in Paleo.

Or perhaps you don’t believe in it at all.

Or… you’re agnostic about the whole thing.

Regardless of which camp you’ ve decided to set up a tent, remember that your client’s wishes come first.

So rather than spending a lot of emotional energy thinking about how to talk your client into Paleo (or out of it), get curious about helping your client do Paleo—or any other diet—even better.

Here we’ve included sample conversation openers and advice for situations that will likely come up. (You can use these questions on yourself, too.)

The situation: In looking over your client’s food log, you’ve noticed a pasta dinner here, a cookie there.

As the weeks go on, you see more and more non-Paleo foods.

Bring it up, with non-judgement and warmth. You might say:

“Hey, based on your food logs, it doesn’t seem like you’re strictly following Paleo anymore. Which is totally okay. But I’m wondering: Is this something you want to continue to try doing?”

The situation: Your client tells you, “I really want to do Paleo, but I’m struggling. I don’t think I can stick with it.”

Explore why your client is struggling. You might say:

“Okay, so what does that mean to you? What does struggling look like? What parts are harder for you? When is it easier for you?”

Depending on what your client reveals, you can work together to find solutions to help your client overcome obstacles.

The situation: Your client says, “I know I should get back to it. I really should do this for my health. I know that. But. I don’t know. I feel so stuck.”

The word “should” indicates that your client may like the idea of Paleo, but may not truly want to follow the diet. To dig deeper, you might ask:

“So why do you think you should do this? Can you tell me more about that? Why do you feel this diet would help you progress toward your goals?”

Your client’s answer may either reveal that following a strict diet actually doesn’t align with their values anymore, or they may revive a more compelling reason to keep going. Either way, you have a clearer sense of how to continue.

(For even more guidance, check out this article: How to talk to your clients about the latest Netflix documentary.)

The Paleo Diet: What to eat

Traditionally, the Paleo plate includes:

  • animals (meat, fish, reptiles, insects) and usually, almost all parts of the animal, including organs, bone marrow, and cartilage
  • animal products (such as eggs and honey)
  • roots/tubers, leaves, flowers and stems (in other words, vegetables)
  • fruits
  • raw nuts and seeds, coconut, avocados, and olives

Many Paleo proponents have recommended that eaters start with the above, then slowly gravitate to the modified Paleo diet by introducing grass-fed dairy (mostly yogurt and other cultured options), and small amounts of legumes that have been soaked overnight.

With that in mind, consider how you could move along a spectrum, starting from your current eating pattern to choices that are more Paleo-aligned.

For a complete guide that includes how much protein, carbs, fat you should eat, plug your info into our macros calculator. (It’s FREE and gives you a customized plan based on your diet preferences and goals.)

Please keep in mind…

There is no one-size-fits-all Paleo diet.

You’ll find NUMEROUS “eat this / not that” Paleo lists all over the internet, but even Paleo experts aren’t all in agreement.

Our advice: Focus on minimally-processed whole foods while also keeping your overall fat intake in balance.

If you’re a coach, you may have clients who follow a wide range of food lists—and that’s okay. The important part: helping them to stay successful based on whatever list they choose.

Don’t try to be perfect.

Doing a few good things pretty well (like eating more veggies or protein) is much better than trying to get a lot of things perfect (and then giving up completely because it’s impossible).

And by introducing small changes slowly over time, you increase your chances of long-term success.

Modify Paleo to fit your lifestyle and needs.

For example, if you’re following the Paleo diet and you’re also fully plant-based, to reach your protein requirements, you’ll want to include some soy. You may also want to prioritize nuts and seeds.

Paleo diet: Does it work—for you?

There’s really only one proven way to know if the Paleo diet works for you:

Try it.

Treat it like an experiment. Go all-in—for at least two weeks.

Then, after at least 2 weeks, use this assessment—Quiz: How’s that diet working for you? — to decide if your eating strategy is working.

No matter your results, remember this: it’s all okay.

Even if you never quite master the Paleo diet and instead gravitate toward a “Paleo Lite” style of eating (80-90% Paleo, 10-20% non-Paleo), you’ll most likely still see benefits.

That’s because just slight shifts toward the “eat more” foods and away from many of the “eat less” foods can make an enormous difference.

How do we know?

We’ve seen it happen with client after client after client.

And if you decide that Paleo isn’t for you? No biggie. It’s not the only eating style around. There are many other ways to eat—Mediterranean, vegetarian, fully plant-based (vegan), Keto, carb cycling, reverse dieting—that can also help you reach your goals.

Keep experimenting with new foods, new strategies, and new eating styles. Adopt what works. Deep six what doesn’t.

Eventually, you’ll discover the ultimate best diet—for you.

References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, preferences, and circumstances—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.