After listening to Cynthia Sass, youll want to rush to the market to stock up on berries, beans, spinach, yogurt and nuts. The registered dietitian and best-selling author advocates putting only the most natural, nutrient-dense and hunger-satisfying foods in your body.
In her latest book, Sass Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches, she tells readers how to build their diets around fresh, colorful produce, lean protein, small amounts of healthy fat and fiber-rich whole grains.
No matter the audience, her core message is clear.
Its all about the quality, quantity and timing of foods. When you eat is as important as what you eat, Sass said. Even if youre eating fewer calories, but they are all refined and theres no fruits and vegetables in your diet, youre not optimizing your health.
Sass spoke recently about her food philosophy.
Q. Is your advice for weight loss similar to your advice for athletes?
A. Yes. For weight loss, you want to provide enough fuel to be active yet still lose weight. Both groups need some readily available carbohydrates before exercise. The right type and amount of carbs, plus what you eat after working out to recover, are key.
Q. What are the right and wrong carbs?
A. Highly processed and refined carbs and sugars in general are not optimal. And right before exercising, you dont want too much fiber, which can upset your (gastro-intestinal) system. I like bananas and high-quality whole grains such as brown rice and oats. My philosophy: Whole, all-natural foods that are nutrient rich are best. You also need vitamins and antioxidants, so if you just have carbs, you dont get the complete package.
Q. Tell us more about timing meals correctly.
A. You have to make sure the gas tank is full before you hit the road. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up to fuel the morning hours. Then refuel again so you eat about every three to five hours. If youve been exercising or (are) very active, eat within an hour of stopping. Be sure to include protein so you can start to recover and heal.
Q. Protein is needed after working out?
A. Protein ... provides the raw materials that heal and repair muscle tissue. You have a window of opportunity, within an hour of training, to deliver that raw material. Thats where a protein shake might come in handy. But watch quantity.
Q. Is there a nutrition myth that youd like to correct?
A. The biggest one for everybody is that its just about calories in and calories out. We have new research that says the quality of a meal is important because of how food is used by the body. You want whole, all-natural foods and a wide variety of them so more nutrients show up for work. Remember, eat to fuel the next activity and to provide the raw materials for recovery. Variety, quality and timing are the most important strategies.
Q. Whats missing from most meals today?
A. Americans – 75 percent – fall short on fruits and vegetables. Fitting those in, that one change alone, can make a big difference in performance and recovery. Its not possible to take a pill to make up for that loss.