In conversation with Eve Persak, COMO Shambhala’s nutrition consultant, the following general dietary program highlights specific nutritional considerations for athletes interested in streamlining their overall weight and improving body composition. Eve shared a few COMO Shambhala signature recipes that support a leaner physique with proven perks for stabilizing blood sugar levels, removing impurities for more efficient nutrient processing, moderating calories, and controlling appetite.
The lean Diet PRINCIPLES
The key principals of a ‘Lean Diet’ include; starting the day with a protein-rich meal, consuming ‘useful’ carbohydrates and consider the timing of your meals.
Our first meal sets the tone for the rest of the day. While many breakfast menus emphasize breads, cereal, pastries, or porridge, the latest research suggests that favoring protein – rather than starches or grains – can better encourage weight loss efforts. High-quality, complete protein paired with ample fibre offers prolonged satiety, curbs craving, sustains energy, and better regulates the glycemic load.
Eggs are considered the ‘gold standard’ for protein, as they contain all essential amino acids in good amounts. The yolk is rich in vitamin D and biotin (both involved in metabolism), and contains 40% of the high quality protein included in whole egg has to offer.
As it is digested most slowly of all the macronutrients, including modest amounts of fat in your meals helps to satisfy you for longer and control cravings.
Green vegetables are high in fibre, light in overall calories and carbs, and offer a bonus dose of minerals and phytochemicals. Instead of butters, margarines or sweetened spreads, just a drizzle of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil finishes this dish with plant-based, heart healthy, anti-oxidant rich fats.
Contrary to popular practice removing carbohydrates or grains completely in an effort to manage weight-loss, is largely unnecessary and usually unsustainable in the long-run. When consuming carbohydrates it’s important to mind the type of carbohydrates and the timing of their inclusion. Including modest amounts throughout the day from natural and whole sources usually “feels” better for the individual and reduces physiological or psychological longing for the macronutrient that’s absent.
High fibre, low- GI
To suit the ‘Lean Diet’ Eve usually promotes carbohydrates that are high in fiber, low in glycemic index, gluten- or wheat-free and unprocessed. These will aid satiety, prevent drastic blood sugar fluctuations, and sit easily on the digestive system (less likely to cause gastrointestinal upset or abdominal bloating). The portion of wild rice and yellow corn in the ‘Lean’ lunch recipe ticks all these boxes (a wholegrain basmati would offer even greater blood sugar control for individuals vulnerable to hyperglycemia).
Mid-day, rather than breakfast or dinner
When it comes to timing, some research suggests that carbohydrates consumed earlier in the day are metabolized more efficiently than later at night. So, the mid-day is an ideal time to add them moderately. Many opt to leave them out of their evening meal entirely. However, a carb-free dinner feels less gratifying as a final eating opportunity after a long day. To honour your goals but feel less deprived, opt for small portions of ‘useful’ carbs.
The Jerusalem artichoke in the ‘Lean’ dinner recipe is a perfect example of a lower-carb, nutrient-rich wholesome ingredient. It’s reminiscent of the potato, but offers inulin – a prebiotic that nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gut – and 20% of the daily value of plant-based iron (helpful for individuals reducing meat intake). Other useful carbohydrates include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and kale.
Certain foods stand out when it comes to weight loss. In addition to offering valuable nutrients, they also provide added benefits for boosting metabolism, controlling hunger, promoting a sensation of fullness, reducing excess snacking and overall caloric consumption from the day’s start to finish. Incorporating these foods into your usual meals and snacks can have cumulative effects – encouraging you closer to your goal weight or helping you shed that stubborn centimeter from your waistline. Here are a few that are included in this ‘Lean’ collection of recipes.
The seaweeds in the dinner recipe are a rich source of minerals. Kelps for their fucoxanthin – a brown colored pigment found in hiijiki and wakame. Like other carotenoids, fucoxanthins offer a slew of wellness benefits, but one pertains to weight loss, in particular. Current metabolic studies show that fucoxanthin helps shift cell behavior from fat storing to fat burning. These compounds seem to discourage fat collection in the midsection especially – an area about which overweight individuals often feel most insecure and medical experts deem most troubling for chronic disease risk.
A growing body of research suggests that the balance and behavior of the bacteria found in the GI tract have full body effects – even with weight regulation. Probiotics – the beneficial gut bacteria we want to boost in number – play a role in regulating the hormones and neuropeptides responsible for hunger and fullness. So include probiotic rich foods – like fermented vegetables, yogurts, kefir, sauerkraut, natto and miso – to both nourish your gut and maintain a healthy weight.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are often privately regarded as foods to be avoided for individuals managing weight. They are higher in calories and fat than other foods for just a small 30-40 gram serving. However, current studies unanimously caution against leaving them out of your daily intake. Actually, ensuring a single daily dose of these petites actually adds a lasting feeling of satisfaction that ultimately reduces overall daily intake and support weight loss. And rather than meticulously metering out a portion’s worth of nuts or seeds, the ‘Lean’ salad recipe is an example of how to blend them enjoyably into a larger meal.
COMO Hotels and Resorts are committed to advocating a holistic approach to wellness. From Bhutan to Miami,Their properties draw inspiration from their compelling locations and evolve organically from their cultural surroundings. Cuisine remains a fundamental element of the COMO experience and working with the best experts in the field, they provide clients with tailored programs and menus that support the body from the outside in. Their cookbook, developed by COMO’s Group Executive Chef over a 10-year period, is now available from Amazon. Alternatively, it is available in Singapore at COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, Culina and SuperNature.