EW Healthy Lifestyles Blog – Do You Eat To Live Or Live To Eat?

VOLUME 2: Nutrition

February 05, 2021

Do You Eat To Live Or Live To Eat?

Understanding and implementing sound nutritional principles is key to living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight but eating in an optimal way can be complicated. Keep in mind that it’s impossible to reach your fitness goals without proper nutrition, no matter how hard you exercise. It’s key to understand the difference between good food and bad food and why combining a healthy diet with an active lifestyle is optimal!


In this edition, Jimmy discusses why food choices will always outtrump exercise. Andrew guides us through the importance of pre and post exercise nutrition. Chris presents the Mediterranean Diet as a great way to eat optimally. And Matt helps us understand the concepts of good carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

I hope your New Year is off to a healthy start! And, if you want to move better, feel better, and live better, start with eating better!
In health,

You Cannot Outrun Your Fork! by Jimmy Dunn

“I’ve gained 30 pounds over this last year because of my knee pain.  I just can’t get out and walk like I used to.” As a physical therapist who sees a lot of people with osteoarthritis, I hear this sentiment frequently. And on the surface, it makes sense. If a person can’t exercise as often, it stands to reason they won’t burn as many calories, therefore gaining weight, right?  

Well, not really. Study after study indicate that if weight loss is the goal, exercise alone is a poor strategy. Caloric intake, not lack of activity, is the fuel for our obesity epidemic.  

Many people have the misconception that it’s possible to eat what you want and just work it off in the gym, or at Orangetheory, or on your Peloton or Mirror at home. Companies thrive on that idea, and actively sell weight loss as a benefit of using their products or services, when that’s simply not the case. 

While there is no doubt that exercise has several health benefits (improved strength & flexibility, cardiovascular function, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers), weight loss, alone, is not one of them.  

For this reason, I always advocate, weight loss happens in the kitchen, not in the gym! 

Eat Better // Live Better! 


Mediterranean Diet: More Than A Fad by Chris Brandt

Highly regarded as one of the healthiest diets in the world, the Mediterranean Diet is more than just a diet, it is a lifestyle.  

Research suggests that following a Mediterranean “lifestyle change” can aid in weight loss, help control blood-sugar levels, reduce risk of depression, and reduce inflammatory factors which can lead to heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s.  

So, what is it? It is certainly not fad dieting or starvation but a sustainable, long-term approach to healthy eating and living. 

First studied, in earnest, in healthy Mediterranean societies demonstrating increased longevity, happiness, and decreased incidence of disease. One common factor was diet. While food choices or types differed from one group to the next, they all demonstrated the same underlying principles.  

The wonderful thing about the Mediterranean diet is you do not have to count calories! Rather, you make better food choices. Switching out butter for olive oil; fish and chicken rather than red meat; and fresh fruit instead of dessert are easy changes. Choices that will have lasting impacts on your health. Red wine is also allowed, in moderation of course. 

Start by changing shopping habits at the grocery store. Stay to the outer edges of the store and avoiding inner aisles. You will find it easier to select fresh, whole foods. Check labels to avoid added sugar, refined grains (white bread etc.) trans fats, refined oils (soybean oil, canola oil), and processed meat (hot dogs, processed sausage etc.). A simple and effective strategy.  

As with any lifestyle change, the diet is only part of the whole. Combine moderate exercise and have social interaction. Adult should participate in 2-2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week. If you feel that you are already in great shape, a research study by St. Louis University found that 5k times improved by 16% after just 4 days on the Mediterranean diet! 

Eat with friends, prepare your food, walk more, and sit less and you will be well on your way to better health! 

The menu choices for the Mediterranean diet are huge. A great resource for recipes, guidelines, and more reading material can be found at https://oldwayspt.org/traditional-diets/mediterranean-diet.  

To your health! 

Want to Exercise Better? Pre and Post Exercise Food Choices Are Key! by Andrew McInnis

It turns out that what we put into our bodies both pre and post workout matters more than we think.  

We have all heard the slogan you are what you eat and that holds true when we are fueling ourselves to exercise properly. The looming question though is, what should I eat and when should I eat it regarding my workouts? 

Food is fuel and how, what, and when we eat can have a dramatic effect on performance and recovery. Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats are the main sources of calories (fuel) and our body breaks them down differently. 1 gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories (about 0 minutes of running), 1 gram of protein has 4 calories (about 0 minutes of running), and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories (about 1 minutes of running). With this in mind, we need to know some facts about what our body needs before a mild, moderate, and exhausting bout of exercise.  

When we first begin to exercise our body needs a quick energy source – carbohydrates. Consisting of mostly simple sugars and starches, carbohydrates are broken down easily and provide a quick, much needed, fuel for our muscles. Examples of some common pre workout foods are bananas, strawberries, muffins, granola, or granola bars.  

As a side note, consuming the right number of calories prior to exercise depends on the level of activity we are about to perform. Walking is an example of a low-level stressor and you may only need to eat a low-calorie fuel source in preparation. Whereas, in preparation for a HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) session, a higher calorie sources, such as a muffin or Poptart, my personal favorite, may be indicated. All of these should be eaten 30-60 minutes prior to your workout as your body needs the proper time to break these foods down. 

And note, we must make excellent choices based off a balanced diet and not using a workout as a green light to consume more calories than we use. Overeating is overeating, and you will convert excess calories to fat which over time produces weight gain. 

Post-activity nutrition is equally important. After a workout, muscles are fatigued and broken down. Exercise causes microtears in our muscle fibers, a necessary step in the process of building back up even stronger. Choosing good proteins and fats are vital in the process.  

Proteins are the building blocks for muscle regeneration and are most effective within a 30-minute window after exercise. Again, dependent upon exercise intensity, a proteins shake can be an effective source. Light to moderate exercise sessions typically would not require a supplemental protein source. Meal planning is key. 

Consume a balanced meal one to two hours post exercise. Lean meats, saturated fats, and vegetables are optimal. Examples of commons meals would be turkey burgers with avocado slices, a quinoa bowl with grass fed beef and stir fry vegetables, or baked fish with leafy greens. Do not be afraid to perform a simple google search and peruse the web for recipes.  

When portioning out your meals here is a quick tip! If you do not have a measuring cup around, you can use your hand to portion servings. Eat a handful of healthy carbs, a fist of fish or lean meat, and a thumb’s worth of fats.  

Eat well and keep moving!!!!! 

Good Carb, Good Fat, Good Protein by Matt Smith

Many factors go into maintaining proper body weight and health. Often, we underestimate the importance of healthy eating. Placing an emphasis on sound nutritional principles along with exercise and an active lifestyle is key to success! Understanding macronutrients, what’s good and bad, and how to make good choices can be daunting. So, let’s jump right in and learn all about good carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and how we can use them to sustain a healthy lifestyle. 

Protein supports mood and cognitive function and provides energy for the body. Protein is also necessary for maintaining, building, and repairing muscle tissues, cells, and organs throughout the entire system. Additional health benefits include optimizing immune system function, reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and maintaining a healthy weight by curbing appetite. This, in turn, helps you to feel “full” longer. Daily intake varies by body size, age, and activity level with a general recommendation of 60+ grams of protein per day on average. 

Good high-quality proteins to add into your diet include: 1) Fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids 2) Poultry, removing the skin and using organic/free-range if possible 3) Dairy, with skim milk/cheeses (beware of added sugars and processed cheeses!) 4) Beans, packed with fiber and a good protein substitute for non-meat eaters and 5) Nuts and seeds, which are high in fiber along with being “good fats”. Avoid proteins that have a lot of extra fat, sodium (salt), or sugar added that include: cheap/fatty cuts of meat, processed lunch meats, protein bars/shakes with unnecessary added ingredients, and sweetened yogurts. 

Carbohydrates are always a “hot topic” up for debate. FACT: All carbohydrates are not bad, and your body requires them for optimal function! Carbohydrates are a primary fuel source. They are broken down into glucose, which is used for energy throughout the day or turned into fat (stored energy) for later. 

Good carbohydrates are known as “whole” carbohydrates and are found in whole grain breads, cereals, whole wheat flour, vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and quinoa/legumes. Whole carbohydrates are unprocessed and contain natural fiber. They take longer to be broken down by the body (which helps control a balanced insulin response) and are efficiently processed for energy. 

Bad carbohydrates are often referred to as “refined” carbohydrates. They contain low amounts of fiber and other essential nutrients. These “refined” carbohydrates contain mostly white flour and sugar, and are found in white breads, cakes, cookies, white rice, certain cereals, and other sweetened treats/beverages.  

Healthy fats are vital to nutritional success! However, not all fats are created equal. Knowing the difference between good and bad fats is important. Choosing healthy fats, just like protein and carbohydrates, are essential to optimal fueling and energizing of your body.   

Good choices include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types both improve blood cholesterol levels and decrease risk for cardiovascular disease. Monounsaturated fats include: nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans), vegetable oils, peanut/almond butter, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats include: fish (salmon, herring, trout, etc.), walnuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and soft margarine. They contain omega 3/6 and are known as “essential fats” since the body cannot produce them. Incorporating both in moderation will protect your heart and improve your quality of life. 

Bad fats play a role in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, high LDL (bad!) cholesterol, and obesity. These excess calories from eating too much fat are what leads to weight gain. The two types of “unhealthy” fat include both saturated fats and trans fats. Butter, margarine, shortening, fried foods, baked goods, processed snack food, beef/pork fat, tropical oils (coconut/palm) and other high fat dairy foods are included in the “bad fats” category. Remember that trans fats should be avoided all together and saturated fat should be limited during consumption. 

I hope all of this is helpful on your journey towards a healthier lifestyle! 

All the Best! 

Matt Smith PT, DPT 

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