ANEWtrition Answers

Top Four Orders at Fast-Casual Restaurants

Reality check - not everyone makes Instagram-worthy, picture-perfect, homemade, from scratch meals all of the time. I know I don’t. So, I’m sharing my top four go-to orders in popular fast-casual restaurants. But before you read on, you must know that these meals are for my needs and your needs are different. This list isn’t meant to be copied. Instead, it’s meant to give you a look inside the brain of a dietitian at a fast-casual restaurant to help you make decisions that will not only result in a delicious meal, but will also help you feel satisfied and nourished.

Moe’s or Chipotle
The build your own, tex mex options are some of my favorites because I love beans, cheese, spicy peppers…all of it.

What I’m Ordering: Burrito Bowl or Taco Salad

Why: I love nachos, so when I want the flavor of nachos without the chips, I order a burrito bowl or taco salad. It’s essentially the same thing without the chips. Start with a leafy green base, add beans, and I usually skip the rice since I’m not the biggest fan of rice. Load up on veggies and a plant-based protein like tofu. Top with salsa and a choice of guac or sour cream.

Panera is everywhere and they’re really stepped up their options in the last few years. I love the self-order kiosk because I can see every ingredient and can make modifications to my meal easily.

What I’m Ordering: You Pick 2 with Soup and Salad

Why: Variety is number one. I enjoy that I can get multiple flavor combinations with the soup and salad. I also know that I love the multigrain roll and I would rather enjoy that on the side with soup than have that same bread as a part of a sandwich. This has to do again with flavor. I know that if I order a sandwich, I will still want the roll, so it’s worth it to me to skip the sandwich and eat a roll along with the soup and salad instead. I’ll mix-up the soups, but usually go for one that’s vegetarian with mostly a plant-based source of protein like beans. Salads vary, but I always remove the fried toppings since the other toppings are enough to satisfy the flavor I’m looking for in a salad.

Coffee is a must in my life, but surprisingly, Starbucks is also a go-to when looking for food on the road or in the airport.

What I’m ordering: Protein Box or Egg White, Turkey Bacon Sandwich

Why: The Starbucks Protein Box is great because it has apples, peanut butter, a delicious roll with raisins, eggs, and cheese. It’s like a little bento box and it’s convenient for eating on the go. I’ve also stashed the peanut butter packet to eat later if I’m not hungry. Pick up a banana while you’re at Starbucks if you want a snack of banana and peanut butter later. The breakfast sandwich has nothing to do with the egg whites. It’s more about the lean protein in the turkey bacon versus a sausage option and the whole grain muffin. If they put a full egg on this sandwich I wouldn’t be mad (and in fact would prefer). But this works if you’re looking for a filling option with whole grains.

I’m not in this sandwich chain often, but on long road trips this makes for a good staple if nothing else is available.

What I’m Ordering: Veggie sandwich with cheese on whole wheat bread

Why: Vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables. I add flavor with vinegar and oil plus mustard and black pepper.

Good for You and Convenient: Can they go together?

When I talk to a group about nutrition, I often remind those in the room that the goal is to look at their reality and make decisions for their health and goals based on that reality. How many times have you said “I will start tomorrow.” or “I will eat a different way when life calms down.” or “Things are just crazy right now, I can focus on that once this passes.”

What if we stopped and recognized that the reality just might be that life doesn’t just “calm down.” So many of us are busy and we aren’t just busy one day - we are always busy. Consider this, if you travel regularly for work then your reality is spent in airports and at restaurants. If you wait until you no longer travel for work to make decisions to support your health then you’re likely going to be retired before you ever focus on it. Meet yourself where you are…today. Once you shift your focus and accept that sometimes what will help you feel your best does not look picture perfect then you can accept your own reality and you can start making decisions based on that reality. If busy doesn’t sound like you or if you feel like you have it all figured out then great - please message me and tell me what you’re up to. For everyone else, read on.

You’re busy. And busy people love convenience, right? I know I do! Which is why I’m sharing my top five tips for eating well while on-the-go or away from home.

  1. Green Base

    By far one of the easiest ways to add more vegetables to your diet is to have the vegetables be the first thing on the plate. Add the rest of it right on top. This can be done in almost every restaurant since it’s just leafy greens you’re adding. Sometimes there’s a side of wilted greens on the menu, too which makes this really convenient and leads me to the next point..

  2. Double Up

    Ask for double vegetables on the side or an extra serving of vegetables with your meal. If the entree comes with one, ask for an extra. This only increases the amount of vegetables on the table which increases how many you’re likely to eat.

  3. Sides can be Apps, Too!

    Appetizers are supposed to be appetizing - that’s the way that works. But sometimes appetizers are lacking in the produce department. Let your eyes wander to the other parts of the menu and even check out the sides. Could one of those make sense as an app? Probably and you’re more likely to find a veggie there anyway. It’s also true that you’re likely to eat a lot of whatever hits the table first since you’re hungry! Why not make it packed with vegetables?

  4. Produce Can Travel

    I’ve shared my history of traveling with produce in the past and it’s still one of the most steadfast recommendations I can provide. If you don’t have it with you then you’re less likely to eat it. I have an apple, wrapped in a paper towel, in my bag right now. Tupperware containers of sliced peppers, snap peas, berries, figs, and many other varieties of produce have made it into my bag or in the center console of my car at some point. You can also find produce on the road in gas stations, grocery stores, roadside stands - so many places if you keep your eyes peeled. Remember, it’s just a matter of picking it and stashing it in your bag so that you have it because if you don’t have it, you won’t eat it.

  5. Convenience Stores - a surprising oasis

    Gas stations get a bad reputation for having nothing healthy, but I disagree. Here’s why:

    1. You’re almost guaranteed to find a piece of fruit.

    2. Every gas station sells still or sparkling, unsweetened water.

    3. You’re likely to find a good protein choice, too - cheese sticks, trail mix, yogurt - all of these make regular appearances in gas stations.

    Don’t let the bad reputation of gas station food have you believe that you’re doomed if you left your snacks on the counter before you left.

Still looking for more ideas? Keep reading - Allison’s Top Four Orders in Popular Fast-Casual Restaurants

Coffee, Dehydration, and Your Workouts

I've been asked more than once if coffee is something that should be avoided. Usually the question centers around dehydration due to the caffeine content, but that's often accompanied by the question of "is it good for me?" as a general statement. Lucky for us, the research shows that coffee does not have negative health impacts and might actually be protective in some cases. Great news for the daily cup of coffee drinkers! 

Caffeine Content Matters
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans specifically addressed caffeine intake in the form of coffee. Luckily for avid coffee drinkers, three to five, 8 oz cups per day was shown to be safe. However, the three to five cups of coffee must be equivalent to 400mg of caffeine. Some methods for brewing coffee result in a higher caffeine content. If you're curious about your regular cup then check out this chart from the Center of Science in the Public Interest for more. Additionally, the recommendations specifically point to healthy adults, not children, teens, pregnant or lactating women, or those with chronic conditions who may be more sensitive to caffeine. Some research has also shown that moderate intake of coffee may be protective against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Since coffee is a source of antioxidants, those antioxidants can play a role in the reduction of chronic inflammation which can be protective against certain chronic diseases.

Caffeine and Your Workouts
Caffeine is a hot topic in the sports world because of the research that supports its consumption for improved endurance. Most of this benefit is coming from the effect that caffeine has on the central nervous system. Lots of popular sports supplements emphasize that caffeine can help in burning fat, but the slight increase in metabolism and the effect on fat as fuel is not as substantial as many supplements would have you believe. For those looking to use caffeine as a means for improving endurance, the recommendations vary. Most recommendations are between 3 to 6mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight with the understanding that more is not better and may have negative health impacts. So, a 150lb person (68kg) would aim for approximately 200-400mg of caffeine within the hour before exercise. This can be consumed in the form of a supplement, but is also easily reached with coffee alone. Energy drinks and other supplements containing extreme amounts of caffeine are not recommended.

Does Caffeine Cause Dehydration?
In the dosages listed here, caffeine intake does not result in a negative impact on fluid balance or in an increased sweat rate. Up to 400mg of caffeine or approximately 4 cups of coffee brewed with 100mg caffeine each, will not contribute to dehydration. This can put your mind at ease for reaching for a cup of freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning instead of a glass of water (although hydrating with water is a must!). 

Sugar, Fat, and Everything Else Added to Your Coffee
Ordering coffee in a local coffee shop can sometimes require google to help with deciphering the menu because there are so many choices. The basics are this: choose a beverage that tastes good to you and that you enjoy, but with as little added sugar and saturated fat as possible. Many of the national coffee chains have coffee beverages with extreme amounts of added sugar which puts them well beyond the amount found in a typical soda. For example, one Venti Iced Caramel Frappucino at Starbucks has 84g of sugar, the majority of which are added. If you compare that to the fact that women should be aiming for no more than 24g of added sugar per day and men no more than 36g, that is well over the mark in your morning beverage alone. Beverages with added saturated fat are also to be considered in the total amount of saturated fat to be consumed for the day. That same beverage contains 10g of saturated fat if prepared with whole milk which is about half of the daily recommended intake.

The bottom line: enjoy your coffee, but do so without the additives. Just find a good cup of coffee and I promise you won't need all the sugar and saturated fat!


Who are the Everyday Athletes?

Everyday athletes are running their first race, they’re trying new fitness trends, they’re in the boutique fitness studios, or they’re hitting the hiking trails. Some are signing up for their first 5K while others are planning to race in long distance, endurance events like marathons and full Ironman races. They’re not Olympians or NFL players, they’re not collegiate or masters athletes…they’re the everyday athlete hitting the fitness studio and crossing the finish line.

With this comes unique challenges in performance fueling. The everyday athlete’s energy needs are vastly different from the professional athlete.

But sports nutrition messaging rarely differentiates.

Sports beverages and performance fueling supplements are marketed to the general population, but meant for the professional. This doesn’t mean the everyday athletes don’t require special attention to performance fueling. It simply means the approach must meet their needs in the fitness studio, on the race course, and in their daily life (like at the desk job).

If you’re an everyday athlete then I’m here to help you fuel for performance in the studio and on the street. I’ll help you understand your energy needs, learn how to manage your nutrition for your everyday life, and enable you to perform at your max with proper fueling. Want to learn more?

Let's connect! 

Food Tips for Any Airport in the Country

In the dreams of food-lovers around the world, all airports would be a food oasis. I imagine a market hall like you might find in Manhattan or LA when I think perfect airport food. Multiple options, plenty of healthy choices if you want them, and all prepared by skilled chefs. End of that daydream…I just left Newark Airport as I write this and if you’re familiar with it then you know it’s the opposite of a fancy food market. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a travel expert, but my job sends me on the road enough for me to have developed survival skills for frequent travel. Am I perfect? No, this is the person who has dipped potato chips into buffalo sauce in an airport sandwich shop. I may be a dietitian, but I am a human, too. Is that something I do every time I’m in an airport? Not a chance. I frequent them way too often to make that a habit. The point is, if you’re regularly on the road, it’s a good idea to make airports fit as an extension of your everyday, healthy habits, not a place where you forget how you’ll feel if you chug beers and eat salty snacks before every flight.

Start with Hydration
Make it a habit to bring an empty water bottle with you (no liquids in security, don’t say I didn’t warn you) or be ready to purchase a water in the terminal. No excuses on this one. Hydrate well when flying because dehydration is almost inevitable unless you’re focused on avoiding it. This is especially true if you do decide you’re having a drink before your flight. Flying plus alcohol and no water equals feeling absolutely terrible when you land.

Pack a Snack
Sometimes it’s not always reasonable to pack your own snacks, but if you find yourself feeling really on top of things then don’t hold back. From experience, I know containers of fruits and vegetables are easy to store in a purse or bag and they make it through security without issue. Granola bars, packets of dry cereal, trail mix, and cheese sticks are all excellent choices that travel well and are much less expensive if purchased outside of the airport.

Get Creative
Packing snacks isn't always practical, I get it, but that doesn't mean eating well is out of the question. Consider these tips to get your through:

1.       Create your own parfait with plain yogurt, lower sugar granola, and fresh fruit. Use a cup from a coffee stand to mix it up. It works and will be much lower in sugar than the pre-made options in the cooler case.

2.       Snack boxes are a great option, but sometimes they’re too heavy on the cheese and have limited protein and fruit/vegetables. Build your own with improved portions: cheese stick, fruit cup, hard-boiled egg, and whole grain crackers. You’ll eat less cheese, more fruit, and likely add a whole grain where you didn’t have one before.

3.       Explore the “healthy snack” section of the food stand. This is almost sure to exist and there are a lot of great options available now that snack companies are realizing we want (and need!) healthier options. Just a few of my favorites include KIND Nuts & Spices bars, Made Good granola bites, Harvest Snaps pea crisps, and Sahale trail mixes. And fruit. You can't go wrong with an apple or banana. 

4.       Skip the bottles of “pressed” juice or other smoothie-like drinks. They sure look nutritious and have the claims on their labels to make you believe it’s true, but most are just glorified apple juice. If you’re worried about keeping up your immune system while traveling then choose a piece of actual fruit, eat some veggies, drink plenty of water, and keep your hands washed. Those three things will go a much longer way in preventing you from getting sick than an overpriced juice drink.

Happy travels!


Why I'll Never Tell You to Drink Juice to Lose Weight

I love a good, green juice. I purchase juice from local juice bars and I enjoy it, I won't deny that, but I will never tell you to drink juice for weight loss. Nor will I tell you to drink juice to cleanse, detox, to cure your cold, or speed up your metabolism. 

The belief that juice can cleanse your body is a mainstay in the popular health conversation and many latch on to the idea with a type of emotional desire for juice to be the answer to every physical and mental problem they've ever encountered. (Like on Instagram when you see a post of a green juice paired with an inspirational quote and someone standing on the side of a mountain solving all their problems.) All joking aside, I understand how juice has a health halo. Walk into a juice bar and you just feel healthy. It's the kind of feeling you get when you walk into a farmers market or step foot on an organic farm. Maybe it's all the fresh produce, the colors, the smell, the fact that we rarely see that many fruits and vegetables in one spot in our day-to-day lives. But then you see the claims written on the wall (actually written on the wall) and in the pamphlets - "Juicing is a great way to lose weight!" or "Juicing will detox your body and increase your energy!" ugh. 

Let's break it down. Fresh juice is a concentrated source of nutrients. Logically this makes sense. You take a few pounds of any fruit or vegetable and press it into juice then yes, you will end up with a liquid that is packed with nutrients and some of those may even be more bioavailable. You'll also end up with a liquid that is a concentrated source of calories. The missing component? Fiber. Arguably one of the most important nutrients when it comes to weight loss. Fiber contributes to satiety, it helps to keep you full, plays a role in the prevention of chronic disease, and more research is showing the important connection between fiber and the gut microbiome. Curious to learn more? See links below:

Article 1: "...a high-fiber content diet stimulates variations in the gut microbiota towards performing several beneficial functions such as protection from inflammation, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure."

Article 2: "A handful of studies have shown that people who eat more fiber have a greater diversity in their microflora—and having greater diversity means these individuals have more varied types of bacteria strains residing in their gut..." 

Juice and the Promise of Detox

There is no scientific evidence to support the need to go on a juice cleanse to detox the body. What we do know is that there are toxins in our environment (exotoxins) and there are toxins created by normal processes in our bodies (endotoxins). Fortunately for us, the healthy human body is efficient in removing toxins via sweat, urine, respiration, and stool. We also have these important organs called the kidneys and liver that aid in detoxification processes.

A juice cleanse is not going to enhance the detoxification process and in fact, some argue it could hurt the natural detox processes already in place. For example, if we know that foods with fiber also contain prebiotics that are beneficial in feeding the good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract then wouldn't it make sense that eliminating those sources of prebiotics may negatively impact the gut microbiome which in turn leads to impaired gastrointestinal function? 

Simply put, if you're concerned about toxins in your environment then begin to identify the ones of most concern and take steps to eliminate them. Are you eating too much added sugar? Then move away from the processed foods with added sugar and more toward whole foods. Do you drink too much alcohol? Do you smoke? Are you not exercising as much as you should? Do you eat a diet high in saturated and trans fats? All of these questions are important when it comes to a natural detox. It's about supporting your health with the foods you eat and the life you live on a consistent basis. It isn't about going on a juice cleanse for five days and then right back to your toxic habits. Avoid the "cleanse" and work to build healthier habits to have a greater impact over the long-term. 

If I'm Not Doing a Juice Cleanse - What Am I Doing?

Now that we all agree to avoid juice cleanses, what's next? This may sound counter intuitive, but if you love juice, drink it! Just make it a part of your total diet, not the sole component. Even better, if you want a drinkable fruit then try a smoothie. Smoothies include the entire fruit (hello fiber!) and they're still packed with nutrients. You can add veggies like spinach, sweet potatoes, kale, or even squash for a nutrient and fiber boost. But be sure to avoid the added sugar like honey and other syrups and stick to the natural sweetness of fruit. The key is to make drinking juice and/or smoothies a part of your diet while still eating whole fruits and vegetables. 



4 Tips for Staying Healthy (and sane) on a Business Trip

I’m saying it – business travel can wreck your health. In fact, a major shift in your day-to-day has the potential to create a stress response that’s significant enough to damage your mental, physical, short-term, and long-term health. It’s all impacted. The question then is how to avoid the negative consequences of a hectic lifestyle. (Hint: it’s possible)

It has taken me a long time to figure out how to feel good while on the road. At first it was all survival mode. Make the flight, don’t get lost, and show up looking somewhat presentable. Repeat. It’s safe to say those early days of travel were not my high points. But, just like you become a pro at getting through the security line at the airport, you also become a pro of taking care of you while on the road. I’m sharing a few of my top tips to make healthy travel a reality. 

Pack with Activity in Mind
Exercise gear is not an option. I stick to a carry-on, but my sneakers are the first thing to go in the bag. Sometimes it may feel a little ambitious to throw an extra couple pairs of leggings or sports bras into the mix, but for me it’s important to have the gear available no matter what. Excuses are no longer an option.

Be Creative in your Food Choices
The food environment on the road can be a serious challenge, but I’m living proof that it isn’t impossible to eat well at any point during the trip. The key? Creativity. Whether you’re faced with a fast food restaurant, a gas station, or an oasis of healthy options, creativity is a must. Here are a few of my top tips:

  1. Pack snacks in your carry-on. This includes disposable containers or fruits and vegetables, granola bars, packets of peanut butter, etc. I’ve eaten fresh figs out of a Tupperware container while waiting to board a plane. Make it happen!
  2. If you’re driving, find a grocery store at your destination and stock the mini-fridge in the hotel with produce like baby carrots and tomatoes, and snacks like hummus, cheese, and yogurt. You can also stock-up on snacks suitable to leave in the car such as bars, dried fruit, trail mix, veggie crisps, etc. Check out the list below for a few of my favorite travel snacks.
  3. Eating dinner out every night can be a challenge for good nutrition, but it isn’t impossible. Think color. Vegetables must always make their way to your plate. Even if you order fries, ask for a side salad or opt for a veggie burger instead of a beef burger. It’s easy to look at a business dinner as an opportunity for a “treat” after a long, hard day at work, but be mindful of what you really want. Indulge on the food that sounds the best, but build the rest of your meal with nutrient-rich options.  

Get Moving
Cities are a perfect place to try new fitness classes. For example, some of the best spin studios are in the bigger cities and I’m always going to find a way to sneak a class into my travel schedule. Visiting a smaller town? Don’t stress. Find a park or a downtown space with sidewalks and head out for a walk or run. Finally, hotel gyms are always an option, so even if it’s not up to your gym standards just remember that it’s temporary. Put in your earbuds, find your favorite podcast, and get to it. 

Stay Hydrated
It’s easy to get caught-up in the day-to-day of business travel and forget to stay hydrated. Focus on unsweetened beverages throughout the day and be sure to limit the alcohol at night. Your body is already experiencing a change in schedule with sleep, activity, and food. When you add excess alcohol to the mix then things can really get out of whack. Plus, you’re lowering your immune system which will likely result in a sluggish or sick few days over your precious weekend back home. Be kind to your body, even during those business dinners when the wine is free-flowing. 


Allison's Top Picks for Travel Snacks

  1. Produce - baby carrots, tomatoes, bananas, apples, grapes, raspberries. Any kind of easy to eat fruit or vegetable is the number one snack to add to your list.
  2. Whole grain bread - this may seem ambitious, but if you're going to be in one place for more than a few days then a small loaf of whole grain bread is great for mini peanut butter sandwiches. Fiber plus a little fat helps to fill you up.
  3. Hummus - great for dipping veggies and is a source of protein and fiber. This is a great healthy snack for the hotel room.
  4. Mini peanut butter, almond butter, or sunbutter packets. Healthy fats plus a small amount of protein makes for an ideal addition to fruit or whole grain bread as a breakfast or snack.
  5. B'More Organic skyr is high in protein and low in sugar. If you have a mini fridge then stock-up on this drink for a probiotic boost which contributes to a healthy immune system (key for travel). Plus, it makes for a good snack of protein and carbs after you hit the hotel gym. 
  6. Kombucha - probitoics, here they are again. Keep your GI tract happy with the addition of probiotics however you can get them. Yogurt and fermented foods are the top sources. Kombucha isn't a requirement, but it is tasty!
  7. Granola bars - easy to throw in the bag for an on-the-go snack. Look for bars with 10g of sugar or less. If you can't find those then opt for half a bar and a piece of fruit as a snack. 

Disclosure: I have partnered with B'More Organic. I have no relationship with other products shown in this post.


How to Spot and Avoid Added Sugar

Cane syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, sucrose, nectar, honey, brown rice syrup. Would you be surprised to know that each is simply another name for added sugar? Added sugar is becoming increasingly difficult to recognize in ingredient lists, but knowing its existence and making a decision to avoid it, is important to longevity and health. Added sugar in the diet, especially at the levels Americans are currently consuming, is known to contribute to an increased risk for chronic disease - diabetes, heart disease, and obesity to name a few. It’s found in condiments, granola bars, cereals, breads, beverages, pastries, sweets, and more. It’s in so many of the foods we commonly eat that the average American now eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. The good news? Added sugars can be easily identified and reduced.

To start, you must recognize the difference between added sugar and natural sugar. Added sugar is the sugar added to a food during processing. Think sugar in candies and cookies. Similar to salt or coloring, it is a part of the processing of the particular food. Natural sugar is the sugar present in the food without processing. For example, fructose isn’t added to an orange or banana, but is found naturally in the fruit. Similarly, lactose isn’t added to milk or yogurt, but is found naturally in dairy. Where the added sugar comes in is when a fruit, for example, is sweetened by adding honey, sugar, or syrup, such as might happen with some fruit juice drinks or when yogurt is sweetened by the addition of syrup in fruit mix-ins. Another more common example of added sugar in a dairy product is chocolate syrup such as is found in chocolate milk.

The number one contributor of added sugar in the American diet is sugar-sweetened beverages. Consider that one can of soda has about 150 calories, most of which come from added sugar. That’s equivalent to 9 tsp of sugar (1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams sugar). Simply eliminating added sugars from the beverages you drink is one of the first steps in making a significant impact on the total amount of added sugars eaten per day. Other sources of added sugar in the American diet include candies, cookies, cakes, pies, and fruit drinks like fruit punch. Add to that the sugary cereals and quick breads along with ice cream and sweetened yogurt then you quickly see how a typical American diet can reach the 22 tsp mark.

Follow these steps to cut your added sugar intake to the recommended amount of 6 tsp per day for women and 9 tsp per day for men:

  • Skip sugar-sweetened beverages and opt for water, sparkling water, or unsweetened coffee/tea.
  • Limit cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries. Opt for dark chocolate covered fruit for a sweet treat instead.
  • Avoid yogurts and yogurt drinks with added sugars such as those with fruit on the bottom. B’More Organic yogurt skyr is flavor-packed without using added sugar.

Disclosure: I have partnered with B'More Organic and this content was originally created for and published on the B'More Organic blog.

Ketogenic Diet: You Asked, ANEWtrition Answers

Recently, I had the privilege of writing and publishing an article for Not only was it an opportunity to research a hot topic and speak to experts in the field, but it had the unexpected benefit of showcasing some of the confusion around not just carbohydrates, but the ketogenic diet in general.

EatingWell's Facebook page is active with multiple posts per day, so when the ketogenic article went up, I spent some time reading through the comments. Below are a few of the points that stood out along with my responses:

Myth 1: A high fat diet equals low carbohydrate
Multiple comments consisted of referencing the high fat foods eaten, but few recognized that some high-fat foods also contain carbohydrates. As stated in the article, the ketogenic diet doesn't have a standard definition, but most studies have stuck to 25-50g of carbohydrate or less per day. Dairy is one of the most commonly missed sources of carbohydrate and high fat dairy is still dairy meaning it contains carbohydrates despite the fat content. The carbohydrates in dairy come from the natural sugar called lactose which consists of galactose and glucose. This is called a disaccharide (double sugar) and requires an enzyme, lactase, to be used during digestion. One cup of whole milk contains 12g carbohydrate and a standard container (6oz) of full-fat yogurt contains around 8g of carbohydrate. Eat one serving of each and you're nearing the carbohydrate limit of the ketogenic diet.

A few key points:

1. The ketogenic diet is challenging to maintain and much of the research has relied on controlled environments where food is administered and tightly regulated, a feat difficult to duplicate in the real world.

2. Following a diet this strict makes it more likely that you'll miss out on key nutrients commonly found in fiber-rich, carbohydrate-containing foods like fruits, beans, and whole grains. 

3. Plant-based diets are known to contribute to a lower risk for chronic disease and there is mounting evidence that plant-based diets may be beneficial for the environment. Read more.

4. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, please do not confuse the recommendation of eating more plants, like whole grains, beans, and legumes, to be a recommendation to eat more ultra-processed foods high in added sugars and salt. Simply adding plants and whole food sources of carbohydrates to the diet does not mean you must also add highly processed, sugary, salty, and fat-laden foods to the diet. If I recommend whole grains, I'm not simultaneously recommending all processed, grain products. This all or nothing approach is one of the most challenging and prevalent practices I hear every day in conversations with clients, colleagues, and friends. I see it on social media, read it in blogs and hear it in traditional media. Walk into any major bookstore and the covers of diet books will tell you just how extreme our approach to nutrition can be. The science of nutrition isn't all or nothing. It's nuanced, it's complicated, it's evolving. Nutrition is personal and deeply rooted in culture, environment, skills, access, knowledge, and preferences. Recommendations should be based in science, but flexible in approach and application. 

Nutrition is personal and deeply rooted in culture, environment, skills, access, knowledge, and preferences. Recommendations should be based in science, but flexible in approach and application.

Myth 2: Encouraging the avoidance of the ketogenic diet means the science is flawed and "sugar-funded" studies are behind the information. 
Yes, in its most basic form, carbohydrates are broken down into sugar in the form of glucose, but the package of the carbohydrate matters. If you're talking about a whole grain versus a sugar-sweetened beverage or even a refined grain for that matter, then the effect is much different. Consider the fiber-rich package of a whole grain - this slows digestion, is a source of prebiotics feeding the healthy gut bacteria, and provides phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals known to contribute to long-term health. The sugar-sweetened beverage is simply refined sugar absorbed quickly into the bloodstream resulting in a rapid increase in blood sugar and subsequent insulin spike. 

If we're referencing "sugar-funded" studies then I assume we're speaking of the added sugars in the Standard American Diet. The unfortunate reality is that it makes business sense for a company that creates a product that's high in added sugar to also have supporting research to say that added sugar doesn't harm health, same goes for any company creating a product that features any other type of ingredient whether it be soy, cocoa, berries, etc.. Does this mean that all industry-funded studies are inherently biased? No, but many argue that the number is severely skewed meaning more industry funded studies are biased than aren't. However, it's naive to assume that research does not take place using industry funds since there simply isn't enough public money for the amount of research that needs to be done. As a dietitian, I know it's my responsibility to communicate nutrition science in a clear and accurate way. This includes identifying funding sources and potential conflicts of interest.  

If you'd like to read more on the conflict of industry-funded studies, specifically as they relate to the sugar conversation, then you can do that here and here.

Myth 3: The ketogenic diet improves athletic performance. 
Research has shown time and time again that carbohydrates are the limiting factor for athletic performance. Still not convinced? Read more:  

Re-examining High Fat Diets for Sports Performance: Did We Call the 'Nail in the Coffin' Too Soon?

Ketone Bodies and Exercise Performance: The Next Magic Bullet or Merely Hype?

Carbohydrate Dependence During Prolonged, Intense Endurance Exercise.


Note: This article does not apply to the recommendation that the ketogenic diet be followed by individuals with uncontrolled seizures or other neurological conditions. In certain populations, this approach is highly successful, but diet modifications should be done under the care of a physician or dietitian.

New Year, Same You

ANEWtrition isn’t about quick fixes and magic bullets. Your long-term health and well-being deserve more. It’s time to make your New Year authentic and most of all, fulfilling.
— Allison Knott, MS, RDN, LDN

It all started with my email. An undercurrent of frustration with constant New Year resolution conversation reached its boiling point while staring at my inbox. It's full of New Year’s attempts to inspire me to do things differently starting January 1st. From starting the year with a new diet to changing my budgeting habits, the subject lines simultaneously bring me a feeling of hope in a “new me!” and guilt in that “wow, maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong for an entire year or worse, a lifetime.” (Cue the total meltdown) I know I’m not alone in this. I hear it every day – “I will start my new diet in the new year” or “I’m joining a gym in the new year” or “I’ll change my spending habits and learn to save….in the new year.” January 1st brings a feeling of starting fresh, being different, and invokes the idea that we can suddenly be an improved version of ourselves. The feeling is so powerful that we continue to hold on to it year after year despite knowing through our own, personal research, that resolutions fail. And the guilt sets in when we realize that not only do we have personal challenges, but we are being reminded of them in full force this season - as if we haven’t been trying to face those challenges head-on for the last 365 days(!).

Let's be real. January 1, 2017 will be a New Year, but you will be the same you. The same you that worked every day in 2016 to be a better version of yourself. The same you that wakes up with the urging desire to maintain your mental and physical health. The same you that has the ability to transform in a second or the option to take your time in growth and transformation over months or years. The same you that will acknowledge the New Year on January 1st with excitement in knowing that every day brings the opportunity to grow. Embrace the same you. 

Starting today, ditch the idea that you’ll suddenly become a different person with a new relationship to food or a new acceptance of your body on January 1st and instead, realize that every day is your opportunity to take steps in the direction you want to go. Don’t fall into the trap of unsustainable diet extremes or drastic cleanses. You have the wisdom to know that dieting extremes ultimately lead to guilt, deprivation, or a feeling of failure. Own the fact that you didn't fail, but the diet failed you. Own the reality that January 1st isn't any more magical than this very moment. Own the fact that because you aren't making an extreme change or committing to a resolution doesn't mean that you're giving up or are resigning to be stagnant. 

Positive change doesn't happen at the stroke midnight. It happens when you give yourself permission to learn while understanding that you may stumble in the process. Be so humble that when you fall, you pick yourself up and move forward yet again. This New Year, discover your same you. Reacquaint yourself with what makes you feel your best.

Eliminate the negative, outside voices telling you what you should be, should do, or should look like and start with these three, simple steps to get back you in touch with your same you

1.       Unsubscribe and delete emails touting diet transformations, cleanses, or those sneaky new year, new you claims that make you feel like total shit. Am I right? 

2.       Unfollow toxic, unrealistic brands and people on all social media. You wouldn’t hang a before and after weight loss photo of a stranger on your bathroom mirror, would you? Don’t let those images hang in your memory day after day either. We're all different - we look completely different and we have our own ways of accomplishing our goals.  

3.       Write down one goal to begin working toward – today. Not the “lose weight because I think I should" kind of goal. I’m talking about those goals that are what you truly desire. You know, the kind that make you feel great inside and out. Now break it down into multiple, manageable goals and make them specific. Write one of them down and hang it in a place where you’ll see it every day.