Ask the Nutritionist: Diet facts, myths, and tips

We teamed up with an experienced nutritionist, to answer all of our diet questions. In this blog, we will cover the do’s and don’ts of dieting, some common misconceptions about our daily food intake, and examine the science of how the human body metabolizes and digests food on a daily basis.

Margot Maarleveld is a nutritionist living in Palo Alto, CA. With over 30 years of experience, Margot specializes in consultation services, advising her clients on how to eat a healthy diet, how to lose and maintain their weight, and how certain foods can impact their daily energy levels. We interviewed Margot to help educate our readers on how to keep a healthy lifestyle.

Blog: What are some key aspects to living a healthy life?
Margot: Know what you are eating, exercise or move daily, and sleep 6-8 hours every night.
Blog: What types of activities can be done to satisfy exercising daily?
Margot: Just get out and move. Whether thats a long, fast-paced walk, or a swim, you just need to do something that increases your heart rate daily.
Blog: How many calories should a male and female consume each day for weight maintenance?
Margot: This is different for everyone, but on average, a woman should eat around 1600 calories daily, and a man should eat 2000 calories daily. 
Blog: What foods should people absolutely stay away from if they’re trying to lose weight?

Margot: I don’t believe in making any foods “off-limits” because then it just taunts people. However, I would try to limit the intake of any processed foods. This means, any food that has been stripped of nutrients and turned into something else. You can think of these as any high-caloric foods, such as desserts, white bread, white pastas, and sugars. 
Blog: What is so bad about white bread and white pasta?
Margot: These foods have been stripped of all nutrients and turned into a simple carb. Carbohydrates do give you energy, but too many are detrimental. This is pretty much the worst thing you can do to your body. When you eat more carbs than you need, your body stores this, which then turns into fat cells.
Blog: Is sugar a carb?
Margot: Yes, sugar is a carb!! 
Blog: Are there any good carbs?
Margot: Yes, complex carbs! These are high grain, less processed foods. Foods such as whole grain bread and brown rice are higher in fiber and good for your energy levels. A favorite alternative of mine to bread is Wasa Bread, which is basically a high-fiber cracker that I enjoy with cheese or avocado.

Blog: Let’s talk about fat. Can you tell us about different kinds of fat?
Margot: There is saturated and unsaturated fats. Think of saturated fats as the bad fats and unsaturated fats as the good fats. Unsaturated fats are great for breakfast and snacking, because they take your body longer to digest, thus keeping you full longer. This may include avocados, olives, nuts etc. Still, you should try to eat no more than 7 grams of saturated fat every day. 
Blog: What about high-protein diets, like the keto diet? Is that healthy?
Margot: Generally speaking, women should have around 70 grams of protein daily, and men, around 90 grams. However, we all have way more. Protein is very good for other parts of your body, such as your muscle tissue, hair, nails, and skin. Proteins really help rebuild tissue that gets used up all the time.
Blog: That’s great to hear, I’ll keep drinking my protein shakes then!
Margot: Be hesitant when it comes to these. Consuming your calories in liquid form isn’t always the best method, because when you chew, certain minerals are forced into your digestive tract that can be very helpful. Drinking doesn’t give your mouth time to deposit those minerals into your food intake. If you want to know more about this, read this article.

Blog: Good to know. What other myths have you heard?
Margot: I have heard them all! A common misconception is that foods such as carrot cake, banana bread, and salad are healthy just because it contains a healthy word. This is not at all true. In fact, some salads are extremely unhealthy, such as Caesar salad, and many dressings such as ranch, thousand island etc. These can add 1000 calories to your salad!
Blog: That’s terrifying. I have also heard that skipping a meal is good, because then you can cut down on your calorie count for the day.
Margot: Another myth! You should actually eat many small meals throughout the day to continue giving your body something to work on (digest). This also helps prevent the feeling of starvation, which leads to overeating. Once you’re very hungry, this might result in consuming more food than your body needs.
Blog: What are your thoughts on breakfast?
Margot: The most important meal of the day! Eating early in the day gives your body the energy it needs to function. If your body doesn’t get this after a night of fasting, then this may result in what we discussed earlier, overeating due to that hungry feeling.

Blog: What else do you want people to know?
Margot: Never eat after 8 o’clock at night! Train yourself to stop eating certain things or at a certain time. “What your eyes see is what the mind wants,” so don’t keep unhealthy foods in your house. Be careful with saturated fats (processed foods). Lots of sugar is often used in processed foods that makes them more appealing, and we don’t even know it! Always know whats in the food you’re eating.
Blog: That is incredible helpful information! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us. Readers, if you have any questions, let us know and we will ask the expert!

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