Preparing meals to get the most nutrients into your body and for them to be absorbed is really pretty simple once you learn the most important power couples of foods. This makes things so much easier when you are preparing snacks, smoothies, even large meals. There are certain myths of food combinations that are floating around on the internet which is why I wanted to share with you the top 5 food combinations to get the maximum benefits from your meals to fuel your day
1. Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat Combination:
I recommend building most of your snacks and meals with this simple, yet amazing trio combination. This aids in muscle repair and will really help sustain your energy throughout the day. Pairing carbohydrates and proteins is a key that a lot of people miss. There are a lot of misconceptions about carbohydrates, so many people tend to exclude them from their diet, which really, is doing your body a disservice. Did you know that your body’s metabolism runs off of glucose- which comes from carbohydrates? If your body does not have some sort of carbohydrate at least a few times a day, your metabolism will not function to the best of its ability. That means – even to digest and process protein and fat, your body NEEDS carbohydrates. I am not talking about just bread – in fact I would recommend more whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, millet just to name a few. Complex carbohydrates that slowly digest and do not raise your blood sugar in a hot minute. Carbohydrates work as a taxi for the protein, carrying it where it needs to go faster. So while protein works with muscle repair and energy, fat keeps you full longer. This way nutrients trickle into the places that they need to be in and stay there longer which is great for endurance or long days at the office. Protein and fat also help with brain function. If you are a busy business owner this combination is good for you.
How does this work with juicing you ask? Have a tsp of almond butter with your juice to help it digest slowly into the muscles. Have a small snack of whole grain crackers as well with your juice. That is a perfect snack for a midday slump instead of reaching for the candy bar or bag of potato chips.
Sources: Greek Yogurt with almonds or walnuts and fresh fruit, whole grain rice crackers with nut butter, quinoa with vegetables and cheese, or salmon with brown rice and vegetables.
2. Iron and Vitamin c:
Pay attention to this combination if you are vegetarian. While the body can readily absorb iron from animal sources most of the time, iron from plant sources like spinach, kale, etc., need the help of vitamin C to get the full benefit and have it properly absorbed and sent to where it needs to go. This pairing needs to be consumed in the SAME MEAL to get the benefits of enhanced iron absorption. Iron helps the body fight off fatigue and soreness by carrying oxygen to the muscles.
Sources: Lentil salad with lemon and red bell peppers, spinach strawberry salad with pumpkin seeds, Brussel sprouts with sesame seeds with a little lemon.
3. Vitamin D and Calcium:
I am sure this is not the first time that you have heard how important vitamin D is for your health but let me stress this… IT IS SOOO VERY IMPORTANT that you are getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a very large role in our immune system and if you are not getting enough, you will start to experience all sorts of health problems which can certainly be avoided. I check ALL of my clients’ vitamin D levels and keep a close eye on that number. I have done a lot of research on this amazing vitamin and trust me, I am not saying this for my own health, you need to be aware of what your number is. The magic number is over 50. So how can you get those most of the vitamin D in the foods we eat? Add calcium. Your body needs vitamin D to effectively absorb calcium, which is often lost in sweat. Calcium keeps your muscles healthy as well as keeping your bones strong. The key to this combination is to spread it out throughout the day since the body can only absorb small am ounts of calcium at a time.
Best sources of calcium: yogurt, broccoli, arugula, dried figs and almonds. Vitamin D is naturally present in fatty fish like salmon and tuna as well as egg yolks.
4. Carotenoids and Dietary Fat:
Did you know that a diet too low in fat can actually do more damage than if you consume large amounts of fat? The fat I am talking about is the good fat obviously – not a stick of butter as Paula Deen would want, of course that is terrible for you no matter how you look at it. A diet too low in fat can also leave your body ill equipped to absorb vitamins and carotenoids that aid in immune system function. Your body can only absorb these fat-soluble vitamins and compounds when fat is present.
Healthy sources include: Avocados, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, paired with brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
5. Complementary Protein Pairings:
Protein is the building block for muscles, organs and connective tissues in the body. There are many animal protein sources as well as many vegetable protein sources. So whether you are a plant based eater or you like a little meat in your diet, this combo could offer you some great health benefits. Vegetable protein sources offer the combination of protein, fiber and multiple vitamins and minerals without saturated fats found in animal protein. Beans and other protein rich plant sources typically do not have all of the amino acids in them to call them a complete protein which is why it is good to pair them with foods that contain the other needed amino acids, this will make the meal a complete protein packed with multiple nutrients and minerals. These combos do not have to be eaten in the same meal, but they do need to be eaten within the same day to get the full benefit.
Sources and Combos: Rice and beans, hummus and pita bread or rice crackers, lentils with nuts and seeds.