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Book:  Eat Smarter

Author:  Shawn Stevenson

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Stevenson, S. (2020). Eat smarter : use the power of food to reboot your metabolism, upgrade your brain, and transform your life. New York: Little, Brown Spark.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. When 10 kg of fat is dissolved, 8.4 kg a fat is excreted as carbon dioxide via the lungs, while just 1.6 kg is released as water. In other words, approximately 84% of the fat you lose is eliminated through your breath when you breathe out! And only about 16% of the fat you lose is through urine, sweat, and other fluids. It is estimated that about one-third of the weight loss happens as you breathe during a full night of sleep. (pg. 52)

  2. Simply drinking water can have the metabolism impact of powerful fat loss hormones. Drinking adequate amounts of water can literally trigger the release of stored body fat. Drinking water can also increase your metabolism rate through a process called “water induced thermogenesis”. By drinking about 17 oz of water within a couple minutes, you can temporarily boost your metabolism rate by 30%. The total calorie burn is around 25 calories. Doing this 3 to 4 times a day can help folks burn an additional 75 to 100 calories. None of the processes of metabolism can take place without the presence of water. It is simply that important. Drinking water provides an immediate boost to your metabolism because it makes everything work better. I recommend drinking 16 to 30 oz of water within the first 10 minutes of waking up. (pg. 163)

  3. Intermittent fasting is not conventional calorie restriction. By rationing your calorie intake into your fasting window, you will not need to significantly restrict your calories to lose fat. Instead, your metabolism will literally be working more efficiently and be more acclimated to burning fat for fuel. The metabolic switch typically occurs 12-plus hours after cessation of food consumption. Simply finishing your last meal of the day by 8pm and having your first food after 8am the next morning is an easy example of kick-starting these benefits. (pg. 302)


Other Key Ideas:

Often foods have inaccurate estimates of the calories contained in their foods. Noting that each gram of protein contains 4 calories, each gram of carbs contains 4 calories, and each gram of fat contains 9 calories, the calorie label on your food is based on that and that alone. Putting our faith into these gross estimates has haunted many dieters. (pg. 23)

It's generally accepted that protein takes the most energy to digest, with approximately 20 to 30% of total calories in the protein going into digesting it. Approximately 5 to 10% of the calories in carbs are used just to digest it, and the caloric energy used to digest fats is usually in the range of 0 to 3%. This is called the thermic effect of food. Let's say you eat a hundred calories of protein your body will require 20 to 30 of those calories just to digest and absorb it. In actuality, you're only receiving 70 to 80 calories from the 100 calories you consumed. (pg. 24)

One food that tends to not abide by conventional calorie metrics are nuts. One study found that when the average person eats almonds, they receive just 129 calories per serving rather than the 170 calories reported on the label. (pg. 26)

Digestion is so complex and fluid that we will likely never be able to perfectly pinpoint how many calories will absorb from a particular food we eat versus someone else. Again, don't get the idea that calories don't have significance: It's a system we have that can give us some guidance, but it's far from being the only thing that matters. (pg. 29)

Your liver is the top doc in charge of your body's drug metabolism. When you hear about drug side effects on commercials, they are really a direct effect of how your liver is able to handle them. The goal is to work on your lifestyle factors so that you can be on as few medications as possible along with the help of your position. Your liver will do it best to support you either way, but it will definitely feel happier without the additional burden of too many medications. (pg. 41)

There are several wonderful supplements that can be helpful for your health, but becoming an overzealous natural pill popper might not be good for you either. This is not to say that the right supplements can't be great for you. This merely points to the fact that your liver is responsible for metabolism, so popping a couple dozen different supplements each day can be a lot for your liver to handle. (pg. 41)

Your body quickly converts sugar into fat. Our fastest method of delivering sugar to our cells is through the consumption of liquid sugar. This is what soda and juices do better than anything else to make us gain fat. Some people might think they have their soda drinking under control, but this could be the number one thing that's causing your body to be resistant to weight loss. (pg. 55)

One of the biggest downfalls of typical cookie-cutter fitness diets is the lack of diversity. Rotating in foods like blueberries, almonds, and pistachios can do wonders for your health. Blueberries are definitely a real power player in the metabolism community, but occasionally swapping and some raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries can help round out the diversity team. (pg. 66)

Fiber is important. Every 10 gram increase in daily fiber intake leads to an additional 3.7% reduction in stomach fat accumulation. Some of the highest sources of fiber include avocados, sweet potatoes, pears, black beans, broccoli, and apples. Getting an optimal amount of fiber is clearly a component in your fat loss equation, but be smart about it. The current recommended amount of daily fiber is 25 to 30 grams. But remember, too much fiber can actually have detrimental effects. Either way, most people aren't getting enough, and they're missing out on incredible fat-burning benefits because of it. (pg. 71)

Protein is great at burning body fat and helping regulate your appetite. Adding more protein, specifically for your first meal of the day, decreases the signals in the brain that stimulate appetite and leave to overeating. Increasing protein intake leads to enhanced weight loss and reduced blood fat levels in study participants. Over the course of a five-year study, no nutrient reduced the amount of belly fat for study participants more than protein had. (pg. 97)

There's an extraordinary amount of data stating that eggs are a health affirming, viable source of whole food protein. Studies have shown that eating eggs for the first meal of the day can improve levels of hunger, and enhance overall weight loss. (pg. 105)

Nuts and seeds are fat dominant, which means that they do contain more calories per gram than a lot of other foods. Yet if the nuts and seeds are sourced and prepared properly, they are natural dietary fats that can provide a huge assist for your metabolism. A group of participants who ate almonds before their meal lost more body fat and more stomach fat compared to a group who didn't eat almonds. Almonds are a fat fighting food, but they appear to work best when including a handful at the beginning of your meal. (pg. 112)

Some experts assert that fruit can make you fat, while others say that fruit is supportive of losing fat. The truth is, it depends on you and your unique metabolism. What I can say without hesitation is that we definitely need to watch out for the big sugar fruits that are common today. Much of today's fruit has been bred to contain more calories in more sugar. And in some cases, a lot more. For many people struggling with fat loss, the problem isn't that they're eating too many grapes - it's that they're likely drinking too much grape flavored soda. Fruit is not the enemy. Take advantage of fruit, but don't let it take advantage of you. (pg. 130)

Eating more vegetables has a dramatic impact on metabolism. Increasing vegetable consumption intrinsically increases the rate of fat loss. Increased intake of vegetables is found to be protective against weight gain and obesity. People who eat more than four servings of vegetables per day have the lowest risk for weight gain. (pg. 134)

There are a lot of questions about consuming carbs before working out. If you're training for a competition or to get bigger and stronger, then some pre-workout carbs can be a welcome friend. But if our goal is fat loss, then eating before your workout, particularly carbs, is kind of defeating the purpose. So many people have been taught to eat carbs before they workout, even though their goal is fat loss. They unfortunately end up trying to out-exercise what they just ate. However, carb consumption after exercise was found to increase fat burning rather than being stored as fat. Carbs and protein after lifting weights triggers Improvement in strength and body composition. If fat loss is the goal, you want those carbs after you workout, not before it. (pg. 138)

There's no hard science on how much water each of us needs, but what we do know is that most people aren't drinking enough. Simply take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half. That number is the target number of ounces per person of water per day. We don't need to go much higher than that. (pg. 169)

If your magnesium levels are low, then you're automatically going to have a difficult time  improving your metabolism. Simply ensuring that you're getting enough of this essential mineral can help to support your body's ability to burn fat and optimize your hormones. The problem is that at least 56% of the US population is deficient in magnesium. (pg. 175)

Ensure that 80-plus percent of your food each day is from real foods that you can actually still recognize where they came from. Whole foods including veggies, fruits, meat, as well as eggs and dairy, are what you need. These round out the bank of real food, and this literally gives us tens of thousands of foods to choose from. (pg. 179)

Blueberries can potentially affect genes related to fat burning. Blueberries are found to be protective against weight gain. Having a serving of blueberries three times per week can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by 34%. If it's good for fat loss, it's probably good for your heart too. (pg. 181)

When it comes to micronutrient density and managing hunger, there are few foods that fit the bill like eggs do. Whichever way a person might like their eggs, the important thing is they're opening some additional fat loss benefits. Participants who ate two eggs per day had lower levels of hunger between meals. The people eating eggs also reported fewer cravings throughout the day. (pg. 185)

The more green veggies you can get in during the day, the better. A huge leverage point so many people miss out on is getting in green leafy veggies with the first meal of the day. By incorporating them into your breakfast, you are starting your day with a greater metabolic advantage. You can mix and match different protein dense foods and fats, but the leafy green vegetables provide the ultimate edge due to their micronutrient density and their fiber. Include two servings in your first meal, and shoot for 5 to 7 servings each day. Finally, people who eat one to two servings of leafy green vegetables each day experience fewer memory problems and cognitive decline. (pg. 196)

A recent study found that just a 2% drop in your body's baseline hydration level can lead to impairment in tasks requiring attention, motor coordination, and executive function. Hydration is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. Mild dehydration has a significant negative impact on fatigue, mood, and reading speed. The best supplements in the world can't outmatch the power of your brain’s primary nutrient need, water. (pg. 235)

The inclusion of mushrooms can improve your memory and reduce risk of cognitive impairment by 50%. Mushrooms are an excellent source of nutrients like potassium, copper, and B vitamins that are known to be supportive of cognitive function. Add two to four servings of mushrooms per week and you'll dramatically reduce your risk of memory problems. (pg. 238)

Americans often work hundreds more hours per year than the majority of industrialized nations. We also have much higher rates of anxiety, depression, and chronic diseases than practically anywhere else in the western world. Now, I'm in no way advising you work less hours if you genuinely love what you do, but there is a clear connection between stress, lack of sleep, and excessive work hours. (pg. 245)

Added sugar has been found to cause major disruptions to sleep quality. The conception of added sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to an objective loss of one hours-worth of sleep each night! When total calories remain the same in the diet, a higher ratio of added sugar can steal some of the sweetness from your dreams. (pg. 285)

Going from an unstructured eating window of about 15 hours a day to a more specific 10 to 12 hour window leads to a significant increase in weight loss, improved sleep, and more energy throughout the day. Your fasting window can be literally anything you want. A 12-hour fast is a pretty simple place to start for most folks. You can begin with a 12-hour window and then increase it to 13 or 14 hours if it feels good to you. Remember, after just 12 hours of fasting, a metabolic switch gets flipped that enhances the performance of many hormones.  A 16-hour window is the documented sweet spot for lots of folks. Anything from a 12 to 18 hour fasting window works best. Anything longer than that is just not necessary. (pg. 309)

When we see the social media posts of people, it's usually their life's highlight-reel, and not their real reel. Many of these people struggle with problems in different areas of their lives. But if all you see is their selfie from their trip, you might just believe their life is perfect, even when it's often not close to the truth. The thing we need to get out about social media is the mirage of it all. What we compare ourselves to today is often not even real. We see what others want us to see. And with filters, camera angles, lighting, and a little editing, the final product can be drastically different from what the reality actually is. (pg. 350)

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