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This guide is all about “PFC”. PFC is an acronym for the macronutrients in your food, “protein, fat, and carbohydrates”. The foundation to this is eating real, whole foods and having all three of these macronutrients in a healthy balance at all meals and snacks.
Eating “real, whole food” means you choose foods in their most natural form and limit the amount of refined/processed foods you consume. This ensures you get all the things you need to perform your best, but it limits the amount of unnecessary stress your body might endure to break down and absorb triggering ingredients into the system. This will decrease your cravings, and help you feel satisfied and lose the weight you desire.
I know the drill. You come home from a long day of work, ravenously hungry (not to mention, crabby) and you grab the first thing you find in the cupboard. Maybe chips, popcorn, or nuts. You grab a handful, and then another, and then another… and you’re still hungry. Why? You have low blood sugar. Likely, the last meal of your day was lunch and your blood sugar has drastically dropped. You now either have more activities to do or you need to make dinner so you won’t eat for another 1-2 hours. How can we fix this?
By eating a protein, fat and carbohydrate every 3-4 hours throughout your day.
The most important thing about your diet should be that you are eating real food. This is what it all comes down to. You should know the ingredients in the food. The easiest way to do this is to buy whole food and combine a protein, fat and carbohydrate every time you eat (PFC!). This will keep your metabolism running well, keep cravings at bay, and provide you with sustainable energy and focus.
- Carbohydrates provide your body with quick energy and cause your blood sugar to increase the most.
- Protein provide the building blocks for you body and help keep your metabolism running well.
- Healthy fats keep us satisfied, help us absorb the fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K), provide energy for our bodies at rest or light activity, pad our organs and make hormones.
Why should we eat a carbohydrate, fat and protein together?
Carbohydrates, fat and protein are all metabolized differently in our bodies. By eating these in conjunction with each other, we are able to have stable blood sugars.
Why would we need stable blood sugars?
- Help our bodies burn fat for energy, instead of storing it
- Ensure our muscles get fueled for exercise
- Help us have lasting energy throughout the day without crashing
Our blood sugars are heavily influenced by carbohydrates. When we eat a carbohydrate (bread, fruit, potato) they are used as energy within 30-60 minutes of consumption. If we had too much carbohydrate (an entire birthday cake) and don’t need it for energy, our bodies will store it as fat, using the hormone insulin.
On the other hand, fats and proteins are digested much more slowly and are not used as energy right away. They slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, causing you to be satisfied and full longer. They also keep your blood sugar levels stable so that you can burn fat!
Balancing the right types and amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats can help keep a hormone called glucagon running smoothly throughout the day. This hormone is our fat burning hormone. It opposes the hormone insulin.
Insulin is released when we eat a high amount of carbohydrates or we eat carbohydrates alone.
If we keep our blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, glucagon can be released and do its work of burning fat!
How much carbohydrate, fat and protein should I eat?
It’s much easier to gauge your intake through eyeing portion sizes rather than meticulously counting calories or weighing your food. This is a good way to know how much you should eat as a quick method.
Below are recommendations for a meal. For a snack, I recommend just cutting the portion sizes in 1/2 or consuming something that has protein and healthy fat (like almond butter) with a carbohydrate (like 1/2 an apple).
- Protein: A palm size, the thickness and circumference of your hand, amount every meal (4-6 ounces of meat, fish or
poultry; 2-3 eggs)
- Healthy fat: 1-2 tablespoon servings per meal (1 T oil (coconut oil, butter, extra virgin olive oil, etc. or 2 T nut butter, 1/2 avocado, 1 oz. cheese)
- Carbohydrate: 2-3 cups of non starchy vegetables every time you eat a meal. These vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals and won’t raise your blood sugar as much as starchy vegetables or fruits. (Non starchy: dark green (kale, spinach, broccoli), onions, mushrooms, peppers, etc.) You can also have some starchy vegetables or fruit (sweet potatoes, corn, peas, apples, etc.) with your meals. Everyones needs are different but I recommend sticking to 1/2 cup and see how your blood sugar reacts to that along with your protein and healthy fat.
When do I eat?
Eating every 3-4 hours is a great way to keep blood sugar levels stable and keep your cravings at bay. And remember, every time you eat, eat a protein, fat and carbohydrate TOGETHER. This would work out to 3 meals per day and 2-3 snacks per day.
Another point is to make sure you are having a bedtime snack. This will help balance your blood sugars through the night so you can have restful sleep to promote glucagon, suppress insulin and be a fat burning machine! For a bedtime snack, make sure you eat a a few tablespoons of healthy fat and 1/4 – 1/2 cup of carbohydrate together.
- Example: ½ cup of strawberries with 2 T. almond butter or a few slices of peaches + ¼ cup full fat coconut milk sautéed in a pan
You can also include protein, but this does affect some people’s ability to fall asleep, so assess yourself!
Examples of PFC balanced meals:
- 4-6 oz. of chicken/meat/fish (protein) + 2-3 cups of steamed broccoli/green beans (carbohydrate) with 1 T of butter/coconut oil (fat)
- 4-6 oz. of wild caught salmon (protein) with 2 T of melted butter (fat) + 2 cups of spinach salad and 1/2 cup of sweet potato (carbohydrate)
- Balanced smoothie with 1 full scoop of grass fed whey protein (protein) + 2 T almond butter (fat) + 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 banana and 2 cups spinach (carbohydrate)
- 2-3 scrambled eggs (protein) cooked in 1-2 T butter or coconut oil (fat) with spinach, onions, mushrooms, peppers, etc. (carbohydrate)
Examples of PFC balanced snacks:
- 1-2 hard boiled eggs with 2 T natural nut butter and ½ cup of berries
- 1/2 cup plain, full fat Greek yogurt (protein and fat) + 1/2 cup of mixed berries (carbohydrate)
- 2 oz. of white albacore tune (protein) with 1 T extra virgin olive oil (fat) and chopped celery, onion, pear or grapes (carbohydrate)
You may find that omitting the starchy carb or fruit at meal or snack times helps keep your blood sugar levels stable, or you may find that including ½ cup at a few meals helps with it. It is important to listen to your body because everyone needs are different!
Remember: it is not about counting calories! This guide can help you listen to how your body feels and gauge the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate you need every 3-4 hours. If you mess up for 1 meal, in the next few hours, you have a chance to make a better decision!
What do I drink?
Minimum of 8 glass of water/day
Other options: fruit flavored water (place frozen raspberries or slices of lemon and lime into a glass bottle), sparkling water or mineral water, herbal or green teas, butter coffee or tea, bone broth, organic coconut milk (1 can mixed with 3-4 cans of water), “Natural Calm” magnesium supplement (~325 mg magnesium per 2 tsp; can help with sleep)
What should I NOT eat?
These foods create inflammation in the body which can lead to weight gain and a host of different medical conditions.
- Hydrogenated oils of any kind (cool whip, regular peanut butter, baked goods, etc.)
- Interesterified fats (similar to hydrogenation)
- Monoglycerides, diglycerides
- Partially hydrogenated oils of any kind
- Refined vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, soybean, refined palm oil, cottonseed, corn oil, etc.)
- Store-bought baked goods
- Trans fats
*Hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils or monoglycerides/diglycerides= trans fat!