The Eco Diet 02/18/11
Nutritional Consultant, Vanessa De Ascencao, shares diet tips for a lean and clean body.
Weight loss is pretty simple: eat less and move more. There’s no magic to it. All diets, be they low-carb or low-fat, basically work the same way – they reduce your overall calorie intake. The Eco-Diet proposes a diet that consists of healthy, fresh food and appropriate supplementation.
Success Comes with Consistency
Ideally if we want to lose weight, we want to lose fat and maintain lean body mass, which requires a specific macro-nutrient ratio and resistance exercise. The right ratios of nutrients and not food per se are what we should be looking at. The nutritional component of eating is the part of the equation we can take responsibility for and change almost instantaneously.
Start by identifying toxins present in your body and the foods you consume which inhibit your desired results. For example, you may suffer from water retention, uncontrollable cravings or feel lethargic and depressed, which are signs that the body is not functioning optimally and is out of balance. Food today is loaded with chemicals, hormones and additives, using multiple processing methods that alter our body chemistry and taste buds so we eat more! Some foods, like sugar, are also highly addictive, which affects our endocrine system, brain and body chemistry. The first step is cleansing the body of these toxins and supporting it with proper nutrition, supplementation and exercise to create the optimum condition to ‘get lean’. A holistic approach to nutrition and lifestyle is required for a healthy self-regulating mind and body that is naturally slim.
Natural, fresh, whole food is better for your waistline and overall health and wellness. The cleaner you eat the leaner you’ll be. The truth is that when we eat food in its natural state (whole foods) you automatically eat less as they are less calorie dense.
Eat organic food as much as possible, and make sure that any animal products you consume, like dairy, are hormone free. Make sure at least half your diet comprises raw fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, with the rest lean, hormone-free protein and some wholegrains. Remember natural, unprocessed food is nutrient dense. Processed food is calorie dense.
Your diet will help you achieve 90% of your goals, so there is actually no need to exercise endlessly. Your diet takes care of fat loss while exercise sculpts your body, especially effective resistance training. Cardio plays a crucial role in cardiovascular health, but plays a secondary role in terms of fat loss.
In terms of supplements and whole foods, I am a huge fan of Spirulina. It contains over 100 nutrients and the full spectrum of essential amino acids, chlorophyll, enzymes and antioxidants – virtually everything you need for a healthy body and active lifestyle. It’s a “whole food” natural vitamin and the assimilation of nutrients from whole foods is superior, and how nature intended humans to ingest vitamins and minerals! 99% of vitamins on the shelf are synthetically manufactured.
The Low Down on Spirulina
- 300% more calcium than milk
- 2300% more iron than spinach
- 3900% more Beta Carotene than carrots
- 375% more protein than tofu
A recent study shows that the blue-green algae Spirulina increases fat oxidation by 10.5%. On top of the new research, which shows Spirulina increases the time to fatigue and fat metabolism, it is already known that Spirulina is rich in important nutrients and protein. The high protein content is seen to be alkaline in nature and therefore a good alternative to many of the acidic protein sources and supplements available.
A Lean Diet:
Wake-up: Hot water. Juice of ½ a lemon. Five Spirulina tablets
½ cup rolled oats with berries or some grated apple and cinnamon.
Or a slice of rye bread with avocado, cherry tomatoes.
Or one chopped apple or pear, 15 almonds (raw with skins), 100g fat free, plain yoghurt or cottage cheese, add some cinnamon.
Five Spirulina tablets. Quinoa with turmeric and chili, large mixed salad of your choice with vegetables. One tablespoon cold pressed olive oil.
Or a large salad with roasted beetroot, butternut and pumpkin sprinkled with pumpkin seeds
Hummus and veggies or apple with 15 raw almonds or a tablespoon of sugar free natural peanut butter.
Large raw salad and cooked vegetables with brown rice or some goats cheese.
Steam fried tofu with loads of mixed vegetables. One tablespoon cold pressed olive oil on the salad.
Or sweet potato, beetroot and butternut baked in the oven and added to a large salad and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.
Below are some great options for lunch or dinner.
Bean, Potato and Beetroot Salad
Serves 8 (2 tablespoons each)
450 g potatoes, cut into 3cm pieces
2 cups frozen broad beans
450 g can baby beets, drained, quartered
2 cups watercress sprigs, about half a bunch
1 small onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup fat free French dressing
Cook potatoes in large saucepan of boiling water for 8-10 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, and rinse under cold water.
Place beans in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water. Stand for 5 minutes, or until tender, then drain, and rinse under cold water. Peel and discard skins. Place beetroot on a plate lined with a paper towel, and pat dry.
Put potatoes, beans, watercress, onion, beetroot and parsley in a bowl. Drizzle with dressing, and toss to combine.
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup cracked wheat (bulgar)
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 olive oil
Place tomato, wheat, lemon juice in a bowl, and stand for 30 minutes, or until the wheat has softened. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together.
Veggie Sesame Salad
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
4 cups savoy cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1/3 cup honey soy dressing, salt reduced
Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add sesame seeds, and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden.
Place cabbage, carrot and zucchini in a large bowl, add dressing and two-thirds of the seeds. Toss to combine, top with remaining seeds to serve.
Chickpea and Tomato Salad
400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine chickpeas, onion, tomatoes, and coriander in a bowl. Add vinegar, and oil, and toss to combine.
Cover in plastic wrap, and stand for 30 minutes for flavours to develop before serving.
Vanessa Ascencao, MSHN (Masters of Science In Nutrition) is a dynamic, inspirational and highly qualified nutritional consultant. She brings a fresh and revolutionary approach to health and wellness having spent 10 years working with some of the greatest minds in metaphysics, nutrition, health and fashion. Visit www.ecodiet.co.za for more, or contact Josi Page on +27 (0) 82 322 6042 for further information, interview requests, presentations and consultations.