What is the difference between a meal replacement drink and protein shake?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a meal replacement drink and a protein drink? I get this question all the time.  It’s really important to know the difference so you can make the best choice based on your health goals.

A meal replacement drink contains significant amounts of the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and fat.  As the name implies, it is meant to relace a meal.  The balance between carbs, protein, and fat are meant to mimic a small meal (or large meal—depending on which drink you choose).  For a typical meal replacement drink, the carbs can range anywhere from 15-45 g of carbs (the equivalent of 1-3 carb servings).  Protein can range anywhere from 7-40 g (the equivalent of 1-5 protein servings).  The fat content can range from 5-15 g (the equivalent of 1-3 fat servings).  Typically they are fortified with vitamins and minerals too, so it’s like taking a daily multivitamin. 

Which drink you choose is up to your health goals.  The one drawback to meal replacement drinks, is the amount of added sugars, which can range anywhere from 4-24 g (the equivalent of 1-6 teaspoons)!  Here are some ideas:

Boost
Boost Original
  • Boost Original, Ensure Original, or Carnation Instant Breakfast only have about 1.5 servings of protein, a little over 2 servings of carbs, and 3 teaspoons of added sugars.  Because of the added sugars and low protein, I rarely recommend these drinks.  They could be used as a snack replacement if you are trying to gain weight.
  • Boost High Protein, Ensure High Protein, Carnation Instant Breakfast High Protein, Slim-Fast, Special K, etc.  These types of drinks have a higher protein content and provide about 2 protein servings.  The carb amount is around 30g on average.  These drinks are great for meal replacements because of the balance between protein and carbs.

A protein drink is high protein and low carb/sugar.  They contain at least 20 g of protein and at most 40 g (3-5 protein servings).  They have little or no added sugars or fat.  They are meant to add more protein to your diet and don’t provide energy (carbs).  Protein drinks are a perfect supplement for you if you struggle to get adequate protein at every meal.  In fact, I prefer to call them “protein supplement drinks” to remind my clients that they supplement the meal, not replace the meal.  If you rely on protein drinks only at your meal, you might be tired, hungry, and sluggish because you are not eating any complex carbohydrates. 

Some examples of protein supplement drinks that I recommend and my clients love:

  • Premier Protein
  • Boost Max
  • Ensure Max
  • Fairlife Nutrition Plan 30g Protein
  • Fairlife Core Power
My favorite protein supplement drinks

How might you use a protein supplement? 

  • After a hard workout at the gym, drink a protein drink and eat a piece of fruit within 1 hour of finishing your workout.  Your muscles will soak up the protein to start re-building and the carbs will fuel the muscle building process. 
  • Drink a protein drink for lunch when you don’t have time to leave the office.  Eat a banana, box or raisins, whole grain crackers, or an apple for carbs (brain power) and fiber (fullness) with it.
  • Drink one for breakfast to round out your favorite high-carb breakfast (oatmeal, whole grain toast with avocado, whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, etc.)

If I had to choose my personal favorite, it is the Fairlife.  I love to drink one for lunch and eat a banana on my busiest work days.  The combination of carbs, fiber, and protein keep me satisfied and fueled for a few hours until I can eat a balanced snack.

Do you need help with your diet? Check out my Intentional Eating 101 Program.

Now that you know the difference between protein drinks and meal replacement drinks, which one are you going to choose?  Comment below to share your ideas.

Are you addicted to food?

Have you ever felt like you are addicted to food?  I can’t tell you how many of my clients have expressed this belief about themselves.  Is food addiction even a thing?  The research on food addiction is very limited, but I can share with you some of the latest research and what we do know.

First, it’s very important to clarify that food addiction is a process addiction.  That means it is the act of eating and the feelings you have about eating certain foods that is addictive, not the food itself.  As you engage in overeating and eating foods you consider bad or trigger foods, your brain releases dopamine which makes you feel good.  After chronically overeating, the dopamine receptors are down regulated and then you need to eat more and more to get the same dopamine response.  This is the same process that occurs in other addictions like gambling, shoplifting, gaming, and phone use. 

Many people falsely believe that food addiction is a chemical addiction like drugs or alcohol.  That’s not so.  Drugs and alcohol contain chemicals that are physically addictive.  But foods commonly considered addictive (flour, sugar, salt, and chocolate) are not actually chemically addictive.  Sure, they do make you feel good, but you are not dependent on them.  For example, if you find chocolate to be a trigger food for you then when you eat chocolate you feel a hit of dopamine. You have a piece of chocolate and then want more and more.  However, let’s say you don’t find orange juice to be a trigger food and so when you drink orange juice, there is no dopamine hit.  So, it’s not the sugar from the chocolate or the juice, it’s the act of eating something that you feel is forbidden or you have strong feelings about. 

The act of overeating causes a similar pathway in the dopamine response.  The more you overeat, the less your body releases dopamine and then you need to eat more and more to get the same response.  Just like gambling and gaming, for example.

So, what does all this mean? It’s good news actually.  It means you don’t have to avoid your favorite foods forever because you think you are “addicted” to them and you have to abstain like you would from alcohol.  It means that you can eat your favorite foods in moderation after learning how to manage cravings, compulsive eating desires, and your feelings surrounding certain foods.   

How do you do that?

1. Keep a food journal where you write down the food you eat, your level of hunger/fullness, and the feelings you have surrounding that meal/snack. 

2. Identify the emotions that lead up to overeating/compulsive eating. 

3. Try to catch yourself when you are feeling those emotions and deal with them in a more constructive way.

This list is very simplified. I know it’s not as easy as that.  It takes a lot of introspection, outside support, and patience with yourself.  And that’s what I am here to help with.  I want you to feel in control of food instead of food controlling you.  Sign up for my Intentional Eating 101 program and you can start your journey to feeling better and getting healthier!

What will you commit to this year?

I confess, I have been dragging my feet on writing a new blog article. So much has happened over the last year in the world and in my own life, that some things just seem too trivial. I couldn’t get the motivation to write about new foods, recipes, or the latest nutrition fads. None of that seems important when so many of us have burdens of loss of loved ones and friends, lost jobs, financial problems, or health problems.

I have suffered a loss greater than I ever thought I would. My sweet husband, Lee, died of cancer on August 16, 2020, just 10 months after his diagnosis. Like many of you, my world has been turned upside down and it’s a struggle to feel right-side-up again.

You may read his obituary here.

So what nutrition topic can I write about that will even seem important right now? Well, let me first list what IS important: my support system, my faith, my career, and my health. There are so many things out of my control right now, but I can control how I take care of myself. You can control how you take care of yourself. (However, the outcomes aren’t always under your control–like incurable stage 4 cancer.)

What I want to talk about in this newsletter, is how you can control how you take care of yourself. You can choose to keep your yearly check-ups with your doctor (virtual or in-person), whether to take your meds or not, whether to exercise or not, what foods to eat, and how to spend your free time. Trust me, I know that when under stressful circumstances it is hard to do all of those things. You only have so much willpower and a lot of it used just getting through the day. But that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to not try. You can choose to do one thing (or more) everyday to take care of yourself.

As for me, I commit to take care of myself as best as I can, so I can be there for you, for my kids, my colleagues, my friends, and my family.

What do you commit to do?


How can I help?

Here are some ways I can help you reach your health goals:

  • Monthly Masters Group: Tuesday, January 12, 2021 @ noon (virtual or in-person): Brenda Hoehn, guest speaker, with Procare: “Physical Regeneration and Strength Upgrade”. Send an email to kelli.worley@intentionaleating.net to RSVP.
  • Want to work with me to find the best diet plan for you, but don’t have time to come to appointments? Sign up for Virtual Intentional Eating 101 here.
  • Having bariatric surgery this year? Learn Everything you Need to Know Before Bariatric Surgery here.
  • This year I will finally re-vamp my Support Group. If you want to be added to the list for the beta launch, reply to this email and let me know.
  • Sign up to become a new one-on-one client here.
  • Last, I want to give you what you need. If you have any ideas or need something specific, send me an email.
The Best App for Calorie Counting

The Best App for Calorie Counting

With hundreds of calorie counting apps to choose from, it easy to get overwhelmed or waste your time on ones that aren’t very useful.  I know you’ve been there.  Either it’s confusing to use, the data is wrong, or you are distracted by ads.  I have used so many different calorie counting apps over the years with my clients and have never been 100% satisfied.  That is until I discovered Nutritionix Track.  I have started using this app with my clients and so far they and I love it.  

Here is what we love about it:

  • Easy and attractive dashboard and diary
  • Multiple ways to add your daily food: upload a picture, search in the database, add your own foods, scan the package barcode, or use the “freeform box.” 
  • It offers a unique feature that I have not seen anywhere else.  The “freeform” option allows you to say your diary and using advanced technology it accurately determines what you ate.  Just takes a minute to log all your food!  (Watch the video below to see how it works.)
  • If you are trying to NOT think about calories, the picture option is a great way to log your food without worrying about the nutrition.
  • You can add your own recipes.
  • It tracks your weight, fluid intake, and exercise.
  • You can link it with popular fitness trackers, like Fitbit and HealthKit.
  • Shows macro and micronutrients.
  • No ads.
  • You can connect your diary with your dietitian (me!) and I can view your foods from my computer. 

One of my clients said, “My favorite feature is the Freeform box.  It’s so much easier to log my food rather than type it out.”

Have you ever had a financial goal, like pay off your car or save for your vacation?  I bet the first thing you did was figure out how much money you needed to save and then made a plan to save that money.  Part of that plan probably included making a budget.  What does that have to do with nutrition?  Everything!  If you have a health goal, you have to know how to get there.  And what you put in your mouth will move you towards or away from that goal.  That is why I recommend calorie counting, especially with the Nutritionix app. 

Watch the video to see it in action.

For more apps that I recommend, check out my FREE Guide: 25 Best Apps for Optimal Health

Click here to download

How Intentional Eating can Help you Manage Chronic Disease

First, let’s define Intentional Eating since it is the basis of all my programs. By definition, intent is “aim” or “purpose.” So, what is your “purpose” or “aim” with eating? There is no right or wrong answer. Occasionally it might be for pure pleasure, other times for fuel, most of the time to satisfy hunger, or to improve your health. Knowing your intent with food is essential in managing chronic diseases and improving your health.

Now, let’s take you through the steps of Intentional Eating.

  • Know your why. Why do I want to eat? What is my intent with food? Am I hungry? Bored? Sad? Stressed? Getting ready to exercise? Before putting one bite in your mouth, it’s important to identify the “why” so you can make sure you are eating for the right reasons.
  • Know your what. What am I going to eat? This is the most important step in managing chronic diseases. By carefully choosing “what” you can optimize energy, sleep, hormones, blood sugars, blood pressure, etc. The list could go on and on. Choosing the right foods is key to feeling great.
  • Know your how. Am I eating at home? In the car? With other people? Fast? Slow? Standing up? Sitting down? Managing “how” you eat will maximize the food that you put into your body so you can feel your best.

Intentional Eating does not have to be tricky or difficult. It just takes some practice. By paying attention to why you eat, what you eat, and how you eat, you will see how different foods affect you in different ways, You will be empowered to make the food choices that give you the results you want.

Click here to become an Intentional Eater

Intuitive Eating and Managing Chronic Disease

The other day I was trying to get my 4 year old (going on 13 years old) to hurry and eat her snack. She was telling some long story and was doing more talking than eating. In a rush I asked, “Can’t you just eat faster?” She said, “I don’t know how to do that, seriously. But I can eat and talk at the same time.” Which she then proceeded to take a big bite of her “cracker sandwich” and started right back into her story.

I couldn’t help but be reminded how much we have to learn from babies and children about eating. I can’t tell you how many times I have reminded my clients that we all used to know exactly how much we needed to eat, the pace we liked to eat, when we were full, and when we were hungry. If you observe toddlers and childrens’ eating patterns, you will be quite surprised. One day they eat so much you think they are a bottomless pit. Other days they hardly eat a thing and you wonder how they have so much energy. They don’t rely on diets or rules to tell them when to eat. Somewhere along the way we stopped trusting ourselves and started trusting other people to tell us what our bodies needed. We ignored our inner hunger and fullnes cues and let emotions and fads guide our eating.

It doesn’t have to be like that. You can eat like a kid again and still be healthy. I know you can because that’s how I eat, that’s how my children and teens eat, and that’s how I help my clients eat. My virtual program Intentional Eating 101 is all about experimenting with the food you eat and how it makes you feel so you can manage your chronic diseases while still eating the foods you love. Over 8 weeks it teaches you how to tune into your body and tweak your choices along the way to find the right balance for you.

Click here to start today

In the meantime, observe kids eating and see what you have to learn. Let me know what you find out by commenting on this post.

Until next time: Eat happy…Move happy…Live happy.

Sleep your Way to Weight Loss

Did you know that lack of sleep may be the missing key to your weight loss results?  Let me explain why the right amount of sleep is essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Why is sleep important?

It refreshes us physically, emotionally, and mentally.  It gives our bodies time to repair and grow and our minds time to relax and renew. 

What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

When we are sleep deprived on a short-time basis, it negatively affects our mood, concentration, performance, and metabolism.  On a long-term basis, it can contribute to obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease, comprimised immunity, and decreased quality of life. 

What does a good night’s rest look like?

Our bodies cycle through different types of sleep, called REM and non-REM sleep.  About 25% of our sleeping hours are spent in REM sleep, which is an active sleep.  Our eyes dart back and forth and we dream.  The remaining 75% of the time we are in non-REM sleep, which is restorative, relaxing, and restful.  In addition, our body naturally follows a rhythm of energy and sleepiness throughout the day.  From around midnight to 7 AM and 1-4 PM our body becomes sleepy.  (This can vary person to person depending on your schedule and genes.)  But in general, we follow a rhythm throughout the day.  Knowing yours can help with maximizing your energy levels throughout the day.

How does sleep affect my weight?

  • Sleep deprivation may cause the obesity gene to “turn on.”
  • Being overweight may lead to sleep problems which then promotes additional obesity.
  • Not getting enough sleep may increase appetite and cravings, especially for carbohydrates.
  • Some studies show people ate up to 500 extra calories a day when they didn’t get enough sleep.
  • Sleep deprivation can impair glucose tolerance and increase secretions of cortisol, thus increasing our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What may interfere with my sleep?

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Depression
  • Nighttime exercise
  • Large meals
  • Chronic pain
  • Certain medications
  • Poor sleep environment

What can I do to get enough sleep?

The first thing is to rearrange your schedule so you allow for 7-9 hours of sleep.  Next, turn off the tv and computer 1 hour before bed.  Ensure your room is dark and at a comfortable temperature.  Try to go to bed at the same time each night to develop a good routine that is predictable for your body.  Do something relaxing before bed, such as stretching, yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.  Last, see your doctor if things interfere with your sleep such as insomnia, medications, shift-work, or snoring.

So tell me, what do you do to ensure a good night’s rest?  Do you get enough sleep?  Why or why not?

For help improving your health, click here to become a new client.

Note: I used the following article in preparing this blog post: “The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain — Research Shows Poor Sleep Quality Raises Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk,” By Nancy L. Kondracki, MS, RD, LDN, Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 14 No. 6 P. 48.  It can be accessed here: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/060112p48.shtml

How does exercise affect your motivation to eat well?

How does exercise affect your motivation to eat well?

Some days you want to eat well and some days you don’t. Have you ever noticed if your exercise affects how you eat? A research article published in the May 2019 edition of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics looks at this very question.

After surveying 1600 women between the ages of 40-50, the following obeservations were made:

  • Those who exercised with the main motivation to lose weight, were less likely to eat intuitively, less likely to listen to their body’s feelings of hunger and satiety, more likely to restrict their food choices based on a specific diet, and more likely to eat for emotional reasons instead of physical reasons.
  • Those who exercised because of intrinsic motivation (health, enjoyment, improvement of mood, and pleasure) were more likely to eat intuitively, listen to their body’s signals of hunger and fullness, not restrict their eating to a certain diet, and eat for physical reasons instead of emotional ones.
Exercise for fun, not for weight loss!

This study illustrates that if you can focus on exercise for the positive benefits it brings to your life, instead of weight control or improving your appearance, you may be more likely to eat intuitively. And why is that important? Because intuitive eating has been linked to the following benefits according to other research:

  • Improved well-being and mood
  • Greater body acceptance and appreciation
  • Higher self esteem
  • Greater satisfaction with life
  • Lower body mass index

Aren’t those amazing benefits? I think so too. If you need help learning how to eat intuitively, trust your body, and exercise for the right reasons, click here to fill out a request to become a client.

How to Properly Sanitize Produce and Groceries

I know everyone is concerned with making sure they don’t get the Coronavirus.  And some people are worried about getting it from their food at the grocery store (or take-out).  I’m here to teach how to properly clean your groceries to reduce your risk of getting any kind of germ from the store.  (All of this is backed by the latest research, by the way.)

  • To wash your fruits and vegetables, rub them under running water in the sink.  The action of rubbing is what removes dirt, bacteria, and viruses from the skin.  Do the same for fruits and vegetables that you don’t eat the skin (watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, etc.).  For small fruits, like berries, wash them under running water in a colander or you can submerge in water and swish them around.  This is also a good technique for leafy greens.  After submerging in water and shaking, rinse them off.   
  • Do not use soap to wash your fruits and vegetables.  Using soap is not necessary to clean your produce and the residue may even upset your stomach.
  • You will not get sick from eating fruits and vegetables and so they do not need to be “sanitized.”  The COVID-19 virus is not transferred from food.  Let’s just say that somehow some virus got on your fruit from someone else in the grocery store (which probably won’t happen).  There will not be enough of the virus on your fruit to make you sick.  The virus is spread by close contact with infected people.
  • Bottom-line: The absolute best prevention is to wash your fruits and vegetables with running water while rubbing them with your hands to wipe off any dirt and germs.
  • As for your other groceries, there is no need to wipe down these foods, even if you are immune-comprised.  Again, the virus does not live on these items and even if it did, there is not enough to infect you.  If you insist on being 100% sure, then leave them in the garage or outside (if they are non-perishable) for 24 hrs.  Research has found that heat and humidity kill the virus.
  • Bottom-line, please don’t stress about your food and waste your time on sanitizing with bleach solutions.  The best thing you can do is wash your hands.  There is no better way to keep you healthy than to wash your hands after coming home from the grocery store, after putting your groceries away, before preparing food, and before eating. 

I hope you are all enduring this pandemic well.  I want to remind you that I and my other dietitians are here for you.  To schedule your telehealth session from the comfort of your own home or office, please click here.  We are here to help you navigate your new normal and how to adapt your eating and exercise routines.

How to Avoid the Quarantine-15 (aka How to NOT gain weight while stuck at home)

I know you’ve seen them: the memes about how much weight we are going to gain while stuck at home, the pictures of food all over social media, comfort-eating, and baking galore. How else can we release some energy while stuck at home?  Cleaning out our closets is no fun.  And you can only take so much news.  My clients are starting to ask, “How can I stop gaining weight?”  

Step 1: Have a plan.  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  If you just plan to eat whatever you have around, it might not the best thing for your body.  But if you have a loose plan, then you will most likely go for the planned meal.  I try to have a list of about 7 dinners that we have all the ingredients to make.  That way when dinner comes we are not tempted to order take-out.  Having a plan also keeps you from making more frequent runs to the grocery store.

Step 2: Designate only one area in your house for eating.  If eating locations become a free-for-all, you might start finding crumbs in your laptop, on your couch, and in your bed.  Limit eating to just the kitchen or dining room table and you will eliminate a lot of mindless eating.

Step 3: Make a list of positive things to do when you want to reach for food and are not hungry.  Now that you are working from home, do you find yourself drawn to the kitchen when you need a break or are bored?  You’re not alone.  Everyone does it!  Instead, keep a list on your fridge or pantry door with other enjoyable tasks.  Here are some examples: go outside for fresh air, stretch, call a friend, write in your journal, put on your favorite music, work on a hobby, write a letter or card, play a game, pray, meditate, do something creative, clean out a drawer, organize your files, etc. 

Step 4: Set regular meal and snack times.  Make a realistic eating schedule for everyone in the family.  After each meal or snack, clean up, turn the lights off, and “close” the kitchen until the next meal or snack.  With children of various ages, this is a work in progress for me.  But I’m trying.

Step 5: Embrace it.  You know what, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you gain some weight over the next few months? We are all going through an experience we’ve never been in.  It’s OK if you eat more than usual, stress-eat, or boredom-eat.  This is a learning experience.  Be patient and compassionate with yourself.  Take it one day at a time (one bite at a time) and you’ll get through this.  Give yourself a hug and keep this in perspective.  There are a million things worse than gaining weight.

We are OPEN and happily seeing clients virtually!  All insurance companies have temporarily allowed telehealth and we are so pleased to be able to still meet with our clients and help you through this difficult time.  Go here to become a new client.  Or, if you are a returning client, go here to schedule an appointment.  I look forward to “seeing” you from the comfort of your home or office.  We are here for you.