How Much Protein?

“Most people think lean physiques are built on protein powders and shakes. Truth is the leanest people eat mostly REAL food.” – Jill Coleman

Protein, a macronutrient that every cell of your body needs, is an essential part of a healthy diet. Proteins are the main structural materials of the body, and have the most varied functions of any molecules in the body. Proteins make enzymes, hemoglobin, the contractile proteins of muscle actin and myosin, immunoglobins, hormones and more. There are both animal and plant sources of protein, each providing different types of protein – complete or incomplete.

A complete protein contains all nine of the essential amino acids that your body needs. Animal sources like lean meat and poultry are sources of complete protein.

An incomplete protein is missing one or more of the essential amino acids that your body needs. Plant sources like grains and legumes contain significant amounts of protein, but need to be combined with other incomplete proteins in order to provide all nine essential amino acids.

Combining incomplete proteins together, or eating a combination of complete and incomplete proteins, is a way to ensure you are getting all the essential amino acids your body needs. Here are complementary proteins that make complete proteins:

  • Whole Grains + Legumes
    • whole wheat bread with peanut butter
    • brown rice and beans
  • Whole Grains + Dairy
    • granola and yogurt
    • whole wheat pasta and cheese
  • Vegetables + Dairy
    • broccoli and cheese
    • veggie lasagna with cheese

Protein intake should be measured on a daily basis, not necessarily on a per-meal basis. Growing kids need about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight and adults need about ½ a gram of protein per pound of body weight. This isn’t difficult, as protein is found in many foods and can add up quickly!

If you’re a vegetarian, don’t worry! There are an abundance of plant-based protein sources including vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, broccoli and kale and legumes and beans like soybeans, kidney beans, tofu and lentils. Vegetarians need to think about their food groups. There are basically three groups: beans and pulses, grains and nuts and seeds. To get complete protein from one meal, you need to eat two of the three groups together. In other words, peanut butter (nut) on whole grain bread (grain); brown rice (grain) and lentils or peas (pulse); hummus (made from chickpeas, a pulse) and tahini (made from sesame seeds). Soybeans contain all the essential amino acids which makes tofu and tempeh great foods for vegetarians.

If you’re ready to explore a variety of plant and animal based protein options, but need help getting started, contact me to schedule a personalized coaching session and pantry makeover – the first step to a healthier you.


Karla Leal

Your Certified Health Coach

Do You Think Your Child Could Be The Next Obese Person You Know?

Today’s children are becoming more and more unhealthy; statistics show that the problem is reaching epidemic proportions. Childhood obesity is costing governments billions and the price on the children’s health and mental state is even higher. It is the duty of all parents to know how to keep their kids healthy.  All over the world, an alarming number of children are now falling prey to the badly feared condition of obesity. As a result, quite early on in life, they have to deal with diseases like diabetes and conditions relating to a weak heart.

Most modern parents are hardworking busy people who just don’t have the time to cook different, freshly prepared meals every single night for their family. With the cost of living rising constantly, parents are finding they have to work longer and longer hours just to pay the bills. As a result of this, children’s diet and health is neglected, and groceries are bought with two things in mind, price and convenience. Kids are left to entertain themselves, which usually means watching TV, playing video games or the internet.

Things have to change or we will find in the not so distant future that our children will die before us. They need to get back to eating fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy proteins such as fish and chicken, and start getting more exercise and fresh air.

Smart nutrition needs to be incorporated to prevent child obesity.  Millions of children all over the world fall prey to child obesity and only because their parents are unable to monitor their diet. If you are looking for child obesity prevention, then you need to indulge your child as less as possible. Read about foods that can help in sprucing up nutritional value in your child’s body without causing it to gain more weight. In this regard, fast foods like burgers, aerated drinks and fries are best avoided. As a parent, you can always try to incorporate better food alternatives in your child’s diet.

An intelligent diet for your child would contain a lot of leafy greens. Vegetables are usually rich in vitamins and minerals and give your child the body nutrients he or she needs. Child obesity prevention is also effective when you add a lot of fruits to your child’s diet. Like with anybody else, a child’s body reacts negatively to large unbalanced meals. You can get rid of this by getting your child into the habit of taking small meals throughout the day.

The best way to get your children to eat the healthy fruit and vegetables they need is through the parents being role models and taking more responsibility into their children’s nutrition. You can create any recipe you need in minutes without spending a fortune, and you can even sneak the odd green vegetable in their pastas, eggs, sandwiches, rice, chicken and even in tasty smoothies and they will never know. Freezing smoothies and creating ice pops is also a great fun way to get them to enjoy it. The possibilities are endless.

As for the exercise, well sometimes that will take some of your precious time, but your child’s health and future is more important than anything. Childhood is the time when the body undergoes vast changes as it proceeds towards a more mature state. Building the right habits is an extremely important aspect at this stage. Thus, an exercise routine should almost be a given in your child’s life. Just nipping down to the local park to play soccer or a little bike ride is all it takes if done regularly. And sometimes, when you really just don’t have the time, you have to make your child go out and play. It may sound a little harsh, but it’s a whole lot better than playing video games for keeping them healthy and fit. Going by the popular order of the day, you don’t need to take your child to a gym. He or she can engage in rigorous sport or even take up an activity like running, cycling or swimming and keep a healthy weight. However, no matter what the routine is like, you will have to insist so that there is some consistency about it. Make sure your child does not skip this routine often. To make things seem easier for him or her, you can read up about the consistent advantages of physical activity and then share them with your child.

It is our responsibility to ensure our children grow up to be as healthy as possible. Children obesity is rising continually and it needs to be stopped. Teaching our kids how to eat and live healthy is the best way possible for them to become healthy, successful adults.

By Karla Leal

Certified Health Coach

Simple Tips for Optimal Digestion

Are you one of those on the run busy people? Many of us have lives full of responsibilities, tight schedules consequently we are usually grabbing something “quick and easy” to eat, furthermore, barely chew it and then drink a big soda pop, iced tea or water. If this describe you, you may have noticed some digestion issues and some lack of energy. Most of us can get away with this to some degree when we are young, but the older we get, the more our digestion becomes challenged by a rushed lifestyle.

Here are some tips to help your digestion improve:

  1. Slow down, take a few breaths, say a thanksgiving for your food, and slowly begin chewing thoroughly. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, first we chew our food, breaking it down into smaller and smaller particles so the saliva mixes with the food and start the digestion process through its enzymes. Chew at least twenty to thirty times before you swallow it.
  2. Start thinking in terms of slow eating instead of fast food. Not taking the time to properly chew and eat your food interferes with the initial digestion process and can lead to many problems down the line such as indigestion, acid reflux, leaky gut syndrome and constipation.
  3. Block enough time in your busy schedule to destine it to exclusively eat, preferably enjoying your food with family and friends as often as possible, like Europeans do.
  4. Limit the amount of water you drink with meals, especially ice-cold liquids, because they can affect proper digestion. Too much liquid with meals dilutes the digestive enzymes in the mouth and in the stomach, consequently the food is not properly digested. If you like to have a drink with your meal is preferably to choose warm teas to aid digestion like ginger or chamomile herbal blends.
  5. Do not overeat. Your meals should not be bigger than your fist size. Eating too much food even if it is healthy food, puts a strain on the digestive system and can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, acid reflux and constipation. Many studies have shown that people who habitually under-eat live longer and are healthier than their overeating counterparts. Smaller portions and grazing during the day to have 5 to 6 smaller meals is much healthier than eating three big meals.
  6. Combine your foods properly. A great important rule is not too mix heavy protein food like meat with starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes or refined carbs like bread and pasta. This teaching challenges the tradition of hamburgers and sandwiches or meat and potatoes so popular in the American culture. This is not to say to stop having them forever, the goal is to ideally have them less often. Protein and carbohydrates require different digestive enzymes.
  7. If you are experiencing digestive challenges try eating your protein with only vegetables, especially including some high water content foods like green leafy vegetables. A salad, steamed vegetables, a small piece of free range poultry or fish are a great alternative to meat, potatoes and bread.  If you choose to have a meal of grains than protein, use whole grains like brown or wild rice, quinoa, millet or spelt combined with lightly steamed vegetables and a salad.

All the mentioned above ideas are conductive to good digestive health but also its a great way to maintain a good alkaline balance in your body, which is one of the pillars of a healthy eating program.

Karla Leal

Certified Heath Coach





Three Reasons Why Breakfast is the Most Important Meal for Growing Children

Our bodies need fuel 24/7. Have you send your child to school without a “healthy” breakfast? Have you started a day without eating a nutritious breakfast? This is like trying to move a car with an empty gas tank.

If getting healthier was one of your new year’s resolution, it is still a good time to start shifting to healthier habits since we are still in the first trimester of 2017. The most important habit to develop is to wake up ahead of time in order to be able to enjoy a nutritious breakfast with your family. This practice also helps build family bonds and start your day in a happy attitude mode around your loved ones.

Here are the top three benefits you and your loved ones will get from having a daily healthy breakfast:

#1 Breakfast promote better moods and behavior because you are nurturing your body with the right fuel to think and act in harmonious ways. It is hard, specially for school age kids, to sit, focus or concentrate at any activity if they are hungry and their blood sugar is dropping rapidly. When blood sugar its a roller coaster with ups and downs, the same will happen to our body and mind.

#2 Breakfast helps keeping you and your children lean because it sets the nutritional tone for the day. Research has shown that people who skip breakfast or eat junk-food breakfast are more likely to be over-fat. When we start the day with a healthy breakfast, our body is more likely to stay on track all day long plus several studies have shown that we would also be more likely to eat healthier food throughout the day.

#3 Healthy breakfasts help building and maintaining brighter brains by activating the metabolism which plays a big role in the brain function. Our brain needs steady supply of good nutrients to function at its best and if we eat junky food to start the day off this automatically decrease our ability to think and concentrate. After a couple of hours of eating a junky breakfast or meal, we may experience hunger, lack of energy and consequently the inability to focus and think clear.

Incorporate healthy and nutritious ingredients into your daily breakfast plate. Add protein in order to activate your brain, fiber-filled carbs to provide steady supply of nutrients to your body, omega 3 oils which build smart brain cells, minerals such as calcium and iron to help your brain biochemistry to work better.

Here are some of our favorite breakfasts:

  • Whole grain waffles or pancakes topped with blueberries and peanut or almond butter (if not allergies)
  • Oatmeal (non-instant) with blueberries and yogurt
  • Whole wheat banana-nut bread and yogurt
  • Whole wheat tortilla wrapped around scrambled eggs and diced tomatoes, purple onions and spinach
  • Veggies omelet, whole wheat toast and fruit
  • Zucchini pancakes, add a cup of shredded zucchini to whole wheat pancakes
  • A glass of almond, flax, or coconut milk, peanut butter and sliced bananas on whole wheat English Muffin ( I love Ezequiel brand commonly found at the frozen organic department of grocery stores)
  • Healthy Cereal with milk or non-dairy milk substitute such almond, flax, or coconut milk. My daughter loves the brand  “LOVE GROWN”  “Original POWER O’S”and it has become our favorite cereal at home. This is an unsweetened, gluten & corn free cereal, non GMO, made out of navy, lentil and garbanzo bean. Its ingredients list are very safe and the nutritional label is compliant with our 3-6-3 guidance for nutritious cereals we posted in our earlier blogs.

Thank you to Dr William Sears, as his books and researches are one of the bests I have known so far!

by Karla Leal

Certified Health & Wellness Coach