Category

Nutrition

Why Dieting is Ineffective and What to Do Instead

By | Nutrition

By Nick Rizzo

We are all guilty of it. You put on a little extra weight and you decide “it’s time to go on a diet.”

Instead of working to actually improve your eating habits, you instead decide to make some radical changes based on a singular proposed idea of what it means to “eat healthy.”

You jump on the latest “dieting trend”. They all claim to be backed by science and guarantee amazing results.

The unfortunate truth is that most of this information has been altered by well-intentioned gurus and cynical marketers. Taking only the studies that support their own biases, ignoring what doesn’t, and avoiding discussions around the glaring gaps in the research they claim as evidence.

Let’s look at two of the most basic and most prevalent lies in the industry.

1. Calories in – Calories out = Changes in body fat

The calorie-counting model of dieting is talked about as being a science fact. I have even overheard trainers say things like “It’s not hard, just eat less calories” when talking about weight loss. The thing is, it isn’t that simple.

That’s because this concept relies on the myth that the calories ingested are independent of the calories you burn throughout the day – a point that was proven false by The Women’s Health Initiative dietary modification trial that followed 50,000 women for seven and a half years. The experimental group ate 342 calories less per day on average, ate 10% less fat, and exercised 14% more. The result? The experimental group lost a whopping .88 pounds on average, and their waist to hip ratio actually increased.

This is only one of the many myths surrounding this general approach to dieting.

2. Another great example is low-fat diets, which only rose to prominence due to the extremely flawed 7 Countries Study by Ancel Keys.

The thing is, this study was actually supposed to include 22 countries, but he ended up removing the rest of the countries from the study as the data that they were producing did not align with his hypothesis.

It is this flawed research that gave rise to things like the Mediterranean diet and the belief that fat is the enemy. In reality, eating too little fat can actually be dangerous. Not eating enough fat can reduce your body’s ability to absorb the necessary fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.

Fat is also critical for the health of our brain and the overall nervous system. That’s because 60% of our brain is made up of fat. And the myelin sheaths that cover the nerves throughout our body are made up of 100% fat.

Lastly, it is foolish to believe that a style of diet that works for one region will be similarly beneficial for a completely different population. This does not account for genetic and epigenetic profiles of these vastly different populations that are isolated from one another.

Let’s focus more on what you should be doing instead.

5-Step Approach

1) Throw what you think you know about dieting out the window.

There a ton of myths and misconceptions parroted as truths. Start with a clean slate and focus on learning what is best for you.

2) Become more attentive to what your body is telling you.

Are you hungry? Then, it makes sense to eat. Are you thirsty? Drink some water.

Simple right? It is. But it gets a bit more complex when we look at other feelings our body conveys to us. How many times have you started eating because you were bored, because you simply walked through the kitchen, or because you were stressed? I am sure you have done at least one of these before, but you probably don’t think it sounds too weird because of how commonplace it is. To that I say, would it be weird if you ate every time you had to pee? Or what if you brought a sandwich with you every time you showered for a little mid-shower snack? Needless to say, that is a bit weird. But the same can be said about bored or stressed eating.

Additionally, it begins to degrade your relationship with your body and food because food starts to become the answer for things outside of just hunger and nutrition.

By being mindful of what your body is telling you and responding appropriately, you can start to identify and eliminate these poor associations with eating.

3) Eat mindfully.

Next time you are at lunch or out to eat, get your “people watching” on. You will see everyone talking, having a good time, and then as soon as the food comes out, people enter into this feasting trance. Overcome with excitement about eating, they just continue to eat and eat without stopping until the plate is cleared or they have overeaten.

Try to mindfully slow the pace of your eating. Take the time to appreciate each bite. Make sure you are helping yourself to digest your food by chewing more. And when you have eaten about half of your food, take a small break. Use this break to check in with how full you are or if you are still hungry. After a few minutes, if you are still hungry, feel free to keep eating.

4) Address your eating habits by making one change to one meal at a time.

When people try to make changes to their eating habits, they usually try to set up restrictive rules to force a change. They want to change their entire diet in a single day.

Instead, start with focusing on making one small change to the first meal of the day. Continue to make these small changes every one to three weeks. This is the most effective way to approach improvements, because of the science behind habits.

Our habits are engrained in us and changing everything at once is extremely difficult, so even though you may be able to stick with it for the first week, you typically won’t last very long. That’s because your brain is designed to do what takes the least amount of effort as possible.

Changing one small aspect of one meal is significantly easier and will produce the least amount of stress for you. Make a change that is just challenging enough to produce a meaningful benefit without it being overwhelming.

5) Eliminate shame from your diet.

One thing that can set you back is feeling shame and the negative self-talk that comes from eating a not-so-healthy meal.

We are all human, we get cravings, we have favorite foods, and you shouldn’t feel bad for it.

It is perfectly okay to enjoy these foods at parties, family gatherings, when you’re out to eat, or just because. The key is to enjoy these things in moderation and let go of the belief that you should feel bad about it. You shouldn’t.

The thing is, eating well is not a sprint, it is a marathon. If you are eating healthier overall, every day, then over the long term a “guilty pleasure” or two will do very little to hold you back.

Be flexible. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your food. All while improving your overall relationship with food, one meal at a time.

About Nick Rizzo

Nick Rizzo is the Training & Fitness Content Director at RunRepeat.com. He uses his education in the sciences, experience as a researcher, and 10+ years in the fitness industry to craft comprehensive content to educate, motivate, and support readers with information backed by science.

3 Portable Protein Snacks

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

Help your clients to eat better in the long run by making small changes over time, like swapping sugary snacks for protein-filled snacks that help to curb hunger, and build and repair muscle. Here are three dietitian-approved options that are also perfect for on-the-go eating.

TIP: Remind clients that a way to avoid turning a snack into a meal (unless of course a large snack is warranted!) is to try not to snack while distracted with things like working, driving or watching TV. When we are distracted we tend to overeat.

Delicious hard-cooked eggs

Two eggs serves up 12 grams of hunger-curbing protein, vitamins and minerals, all for a mere 140 calories.

What’s more? With Eggs2go! TM you’ll get a boost of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fats. It’s a natural alternative to supplements. All it takes is adding flaxseed to a hen’s diet!

TIP: Look for Eggs2go! TM in packs of two in the deli section of grocery stores or packs of six in the egg section. These pair great with raw veggies like grape tomatoes or sugar snap peas.

Todd’s Better Snacks

New to the snack market, these lightly puffed flavoured crisps are made from high-quality Canadian egg white protein (each bag contains 2 ½ egg whites), plus prairie lentils (and are peanut and gluten-free). They can satisfy a savoury snack craving and help curb hunger until your next meal with 10 grams of protein in each portion-controlled bag.

TIP: Todd’s Protein Crisps are available in BBQ, salt and vinegar, sour cream and onion, sea salt and vinegar flavours and can be ordered online: Todd’s Better Snacks.

Almonds

These are an oldie, but reliable goodie. Just a small handful of almonds (23 almonds, one ounce) packs six grams of protein plus four grams of fiber for a winning hunger-curbing combo with that crunch appeal many of us crave in a snack.

What’s more? You also get about 50% of your antioxidant vitamin E needs, helpful to keep our immune system in tip top shape.

TIP: Pack up single-serve containers with a small handful of almonds for easy grab-and-go snacks. Keep them at work, in the car and in your gym bag. Almonds pair well with banana slices, a mandarin orange or crisp apple.

Find out more Healthy Snack Ideas for Adults and be sure to visit www.unlockfood.ca

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.

Lemon Coconut Energy Balls Recipe

By | Nutrition

By Shelby Stover

Gluten Free and Vegan – Makes 8 balls

Having healthy snacks on hands is crucial for busy days! These lemon coconut energy balls are loaded with nutrients, easy to pop in your mouth and will help keep you fuelled as you run out the door.

I’m a firm believer in helping my clients find something that is simple for them when it comes to their health goals. And there’s nothing simpler than a no bake snack you grab and go!

These no bake, gluten free, vegan balls comes together quickly and are loaded with nutrients. They’re naturally sweetened with dates and the coconut and chia seeds contain some healthy fats, and thanks to the fresh lemon juice, they’re also a bit uplifting which makes them a pretty awesome midday snack.

Plus, they require zero baking, which is a win with most of my clients! Whip up a batch or two and keep them in the freezer for busy days. Dates don’t freeze solidly so you can just pop these into your mouth right out of the freezer. However, most people prefer to have them sit at room temperature for a few minutes.

Paired with a piece of fruit, these no bake balls are an energy boosting snack to help keep you moving. They’re also the perfect size for little hands. Kids love these balls because they’re sweet and I, as a mom, love them because there’s no added sugar!

Ingredients:

  • 1 C dates, soaked for 20 minutes in warm water
  • 1 TBS water (from the soaked dates)
  • 1/8 cup + 1/8 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut, divided
  • 1/3 C oat flour
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBS chia seeds

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, blend the dates and the water until mostly smooth (leaving behind some chunks is perfect!).
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, saving 1/8 cup coconut for later.
  3. Mix until everything is combined.
  4. Use your hands to portion and roll the mixture into 8 balls.
  5. Place the remaining coconut onto a plate and roll the balls in it to coat them. You’ll have to press down slightly for the coconut to stick.If you want to skip this step for time, just add the coconut into the mixture with everything else!
  6. Place the balls in the freezer for one hour to set.

About Shelby Stover

Meet Shelby Stover, a Strength & Nutrition Coach and the person behind the blog Fitasamamabear.com, a health, fitness and food blog geared towards moms! Shelby is a busy mom to two little girls, a crazy foodie and a regular DIY beauty lover. She loves sweaty workouts, tasty and super simple meals and living as naturally as possible- though there’s definitely a lot of trial and error there!

Website: www.fitasamamabear.com
Instagram: @fitasamamabear 
Facebook@fitasamamabear
Twitter: @FitasaMamaBear
YouTube: Shelby Stover

Increase Weight Loss with NEAT

By | Nutrition

By Eric Williamson, RD, MSc, CSCS, PhD (C)

You’re working out, you know you’re eating less and you’re still not losing weight?  Is it a slow metabolism that you can’t do anything about?  For most people, not quite.

A well-controlled research study conducted at The University of Copenhagen took 61 overweight men and split them into three groups: one group had no calorie deficit (control group), one was put in a moderate calorie deficit (-300 calories) and another was put in a large calorie deficit (-600 calories). Diets were controlled and the deficit came from energy expended on the different structured exercise programs they were put on. The subjects maintained these programs for 13 weeks. At the end of the study, both deficit groups lost equal amounts of fat, 4.0 kg in the -300 calorie group and 3.8 kg in the -600 calorie group.

If the one group was in a 2x greater caloric deficit, why didn’t they lose more weight?  A big part of this answer is a little something called Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).

NEAT is the amount of energy you burn aside from scheduled workouts. This is by fidgeting, maintaining posture and, in large part, ambulation (i.e. mainly sitting, standing and walking). For some people, calorie deficits result in doing less of these things, meaning less calories burned over the course of the day compared to if they had not been exercising and restricting calorie intake. The real kicker is that this reduction in activity is completely unbeknownst to the individual experiencing it.

How do you counter this? Step counting can be an effective solution.

Your next best strategy is to wear a pedometer or download a step counting app. Set a daily target and increase this target by 50-100 steps per week towards 10, 000 steps/day for optimal health. When you’re aiming to lose weight, make sure this number doesn’t go down!

There is also another bonus. 

Calorie deficits and losing fat are stressful on the body. They can set off some physiological alarm bells that there is not enough food available in your environment, so you better do something about it! This can put you at risk for mood disturbances (i.e. grumpiness and depression), insomnia, poor recovery from workouts and other effects of stress. Walking, particularly in a scenic environment, can provide a form of stress relief to counter this.

Eating nutrient dense foods, exercising and still having trouble losing fat?  Don’t let your brain trick you into becoming lazier. Take control of your NEAT!

About Eric Williamson, RD, MSc, CSCS, PhD (C)

Eric Williamson is a registered dietitian and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. within the area of exercise nutrition and metabolism. Eric works all athletic backgrounds from elite athletes to those looking to balance fitness with busy work and family lives. His primary goal is to help people find the most effective nutrition strategies for their unique physiology and lifestyle while balancing the many other important areas of their lives to achieve overall success and fulfillment.

Watermelon Gazpacho Recipe

By | Nutrition

By Julie Daniluk, RHN

Not only are watermelons 92% water, they are also packed with magnesium and potassium. Magnesium and potassium are often lost in our sweat during exercise, along with sodium, and need to be replenished immediately. Potassium and magnesium are known as electrolytes because they help carry the electrical signals in the body and allow our muscles to contract and relax.

This recipe is perfect for a hot summer night! Remember that the soup needs time to chill before serving.

Makes 10 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 8 cups watermelon, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups English cucumber, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 1/4 cup organic olive oil, divided
  • pinch of pink rock salt or grey sea salt, to taste

Optional:

  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced

Garnish:

  • Fresh herb such as basil

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except oil and vinegar into a bowl and mix well.
  2. Transfer half the recipe to a blender and blend at high speed.
  3. Add half the vinegar and then slowly pour in half the olive oil. Salt to taste.
  4. Pour soup into a large bowl and then repeat the previous steps to make the second batch.

Recipe reprinted with permission by Julie Daniluk RHN and Random House

Canada / ©SlimmingMealsThatHeal2014. Check out Julie’s 100-Day Transformation Program.

Catch Julie’s incredible session “Anti-inflammatory Nutrition for Energy and Natural Performance Enhancement” at the canfitpro 2019 convention! Get your tickets before it’s too late!

About Julie Daniluk

Nutritionist, Julie Daniluk, RHN, hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show, now shown in over 70 countries. Her award-winning bestseller, Meals That Heal Inflammation, has helped over 100,000 people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great. Julie’s latest book, Hot Detox, was the #1 Canadian health book in 2017, with 11 weeks on the best-seller list.

She has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including The Dr. Oz Show, and is a resident nutrition expert for The Marilyn Denis Show.

Check out amazing recipes and nutrition tips at juliedaniluk.com and connect with Julie on Facebook at Julie Daniluk, Instagram Twitter or email her at info@juliedaniluk.com

Cool Treat: NuTricia’s Dark Sweet Cherry Almond Nice Cream Recipe

By | Nutrition

By Tricia Silverman, RD, MBA

This is my go-to healthy indulgence. I love ice cream, but eat it sparingly due to the sugar and unsavory ingredients that are often added. NuTricia’s Dark Sweet Cherry Almond Nice Cream is a healthful and yummy treat that makes you feel like you are getting the real thing.

Serving: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ Tbsp almond butter (optional)
  • ½ cup soy milk or almond milk or skim milk

Directions

In a blender, blend all the ingredients, adding the milk slowly…you may need to add a little more or less milk depending on the consistency you desire.

Ideally, it should resemble the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

Nutrient Information

  • 210 Calories
  • 7 g Protein
  • 34 g Carbohydrate
  • 6 g Fat
  • 5 g Fiber
  • 0 Added sugar

About Tricia Silverman

Tricia Silverman is a registered dietitian, wellness coach, and fitness instructor.

She’s a canfitpro 2019 conference presenter, and 2018 SCW Fitness Florida Convention Presenter of the Year.

She created and leads the SCW Nutrition for Active Aging Certification.

Fat is Not the Enemy

By | Nutrition

By Kathleen Trotter, PTS

Listen as Kathleen Trotter, PTS, gives you a few good reasons why we should be eating healthy fat instead of sugar.

About Kathleen Trotter

Kathleen Trotter holds a Masters in Exercise Science, is the author of two books including the new book Your Fittest Future Self, and is a Personal trainer, Nutritionist, Pilates Specialist and Life Coach.

Visit her website KathleenTrotter.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

Probiotics and Weight Loss

By | Nutrition

By Eddie Fatakhov, M.D.

 

What is a probiotic?

Probiotics are not only live microorganisms found in supplements and some fermented foods such as yogurt and pickles, but they have also been found to have a variety of health benefits. These benefits include vitamin K and B production, the breakdown of insoluble (indigestible) fiber, immune system support, the improvement of mental health, improvement of heart health, reduction of certain allergies and skin conditions, and (possibly one of the most sought after effects) the reduction of belly fat.

What is the link between probiotics and body fat?

There are large populated families of primarily friendly microorganisms (bacteria) living in your digestive system, two of which are families tied to the management of body fat – bacteroidetes and firmicutes. According to a wide variety of studies, body weight is related to the balance of these two families of bacteria.

These studies look at the difference between the gut bacteria in normal-weight people versus overweight or obese people. The major difference found was that obese subjects had an imbalance in their firmicute levels versus their bacteroidetes.

Which probiotics help you lose weight?

Not all probiotics are created equal. While there are many strains available, only a few have been proven to have positive effects on weight. One strain that studies have found to assist in weight loss is the Lactobacillus family. Studies have found the following to be true:

  • When paired with diet and exercise, eating yogurt with Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus helped to reduce body fat by 3–4% over a six week period.
  • The effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplements was measured on 125 subjects for weight loss and weight maintenance. The study found women taking the probiotics over a three month period lost 50% more weight than the placebo group.
  • Lactobacillus gasseri is one of the most productive probiotic when it comes to weight loss. This specific probiotic inhibits dietary fat absorption. This means the calories your body would otherwise “harvest” are excreted instead.

How can probiotics help you lose weight?

While research is still ongoing, here are some of the ways probiotics are thought to assist in weight loss:

  • They release GLP-1. Probiotics may play a part in the release of GLP-1 (appetite-reducing hormone). Studies have shown increased levels of GLP-1 may actually help you burn calories and fat.
  • They increase production of ANGPTL4. Levels of the protein ANGPTL4 may rise from probiotic use. This production might actually lead to decreased fat storage.

Are probiotics safe?

There are many types of probiotics available today. Because of this, it’s good to remember that some have a lot of research behind them and some do not. Here are some things to know before you buy a probiotic:

  • Mild side effects are possible such as gas or bloating within the first few days of use.
  • All foods with probiotics are not created equal. While these foods usually have good levels of live bacteria – “live and active cultures” yogurt, kefir, aged cheeses, brined pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso – products that claim to have probiotic benefits might not. Enriched juices, cereals, and snack bars may have less than promised levels or weakened forms of the organisms.
  • Probiotics might not be safe for everyone. People with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients in treatment, should avoid probiotics.
  • Expiration dates and storage are very important. Because probiotics are living organisms they have a limited shelf life. Using probiotics before their expiration dates and following the suggested storing advised on the product label maximizes their potency.

Before taking any supplements we recommend talking to your doctor to ensure you are taking one that is right for you.

About Eddie Fatakhov

Eddie Fatakhov, M.D., a.k.a. Dr. Fat-off, is a Board-Certified Physician, Nutritionist, and author of the new book, “Dr. Fat-Off: Simple Life-Long Weight-Loss Solutions.”

Email him at eddie@drfatakhov.com or visit his website Eddie Fatakhov, MD. You can also follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Meal Prepping Steps for Success

By | Nutrition

By Angela Wallace, MSc, RD, PTS

Are you busy? Do you sometimes feel like there aren’t enough hours in your day? If you answered yes, you NEED to start meal prepping! It might seem like another chore, but it will save you time, energy, and money (and once you get into the swing of it, it becomes so easy). Being a busy individual means you need energy to keep up with your busy schedule. In addition, if you are working with clients you need to keep them motivated, requiring some extra energy. Fueling your body properly and ensuring you take time to eat healthy meals can make all the difference in your energy levels and your overall health, which will ultimately help you serve your clients best.

How can you start meal prepping?

Step 1: Pick 1-2 days a week to shop for the groceries you need for your meals and snacks.

Step 2: Once you have selected those days, make a plan prior to shopping. For example, if you shop on Sundays, take 5-10 minutes to think about what the week ahead looks like (when will you be working late? when will you need meals at work? when will you be too lazy to prep or cook anything?). Based on your answers to those questions, you can make a plan of what you want to have each day. Know that it is OKAY to plan to eat out on super busy days; it’s the planning aspect that is key. When we don’t plan we end up turning to eating out way too often, and ultimately spending more money than necessary.

Tip: If this is completely new to you, I would suggest starting by planning one meal a day, perhaps your dinners. Keeping breakfast and lunch options simple (i.e., a smoothie and a salad). I still only plan my weekly dinners, my breakfast rotates between oats, smoothies and eggs, and my lunches tend to be leftovers (from my planned dinners). Decide which meal would be best for you to plan ahead so that you can avoid eating out as much as possible.

Step 3: Stick to your proposed plan at the grocery store and get the ingredients you need to make it happen.

Step 4: Set aside time to prepare your meals. This will look different for everyone. For some, it might mean prepping 2-4 meals in advance for their busy week, for others it might mean just prepping a few items to make dinner time super quick. I often cook a fresh meal every night, keeping it simple during the week. For example, I might make veggie burgers, grilled chicken and Greek salad, and tuna melts (all 30 minutes or less). Find what works for you and stick to it!

Healthy Eating On-The-Go Tips

  1. Prep simple foods at the beginning of your week. Chopping and portioning fruit and veggies can be a simple way to start out. This way you can grab these items before you run out each day. You could even prepare some protein or grains ahead of time – if you have planned to have quinoa during the week ahead, why not cook that beforehand?
  2. Make use of your home freezer. If you do get around to batch cooking, make room in your freezer to store pre-prepared options for super busy weeks. Whenever making soups or stews, it’s always a good idea to make a large batch and freeze it. This also works well with healthy muffins for a quick grab-and-go in the mornings!
  3. Just like you schedule clients, schedule time to plan your meals. Grocery shop and care for yourself.
  4. Start small, perhaps you only start by prepping your dinners or your snacks each day. Start with one area and keep building.
  5. Keep your fridge, freezer, and pantry well stocked. What items do you use most? Do you always need some fresh fruits and veggies, cans of tuna, oats, etc.? Figure out your common food patterns and make sure you have what you need to make meal prep and cooking super simple.
  6. Use your ingredients more than once. This can mean using spinach in a smoothie, salad, and stir-fry. Plan to include your produce in different meals to make your life easier and reduce food waste.
  7. When out, read the food labels. Pay attention to the calories and sugar in each of your choices. Try looking at the menu ahead of time, so you know what your best options are when dining out.
  8. Don’t stress if things don’t always go as planned, sometimes things get crazy and sometimes you won’t have any desire to cook. Being prepared and having the items you need in your home will help ensure you get right back on track.

Cheers to happy and healthy meal prepping and eating!

About Angela Wallace, MSc, RD, PTS

Angela Wallace bio pic

Angela Wallace is a registered dietitian nutritionist, family food expert, and certified canfitpro personal trainer. She specializes in women’s health, with a focus on weight loss and digestive conditions. She uses a ‘non dieting approach’ with her ultimate goals being to help people find a balanced lifestyle and healthy relationship with food. Visit her website www.eatrightfeelright.ca

 

These introductions align with the guidelines found in canfitpro’s Heathy Eating & Weight Loss (HWL) certification program.  Learn more about how this program can help you and your clients fuel for optimal health.

The Healthy Eating and Weight Loss Coach course has changed my outlook on my lifestyle choices. I have a different mindset when I go grocery shopping and I am already making healthier choices, I can’t wait to use my new found knowledge to help my friends and family improve their lives as well. My PRO TRAINER was wonderful, she made sure that the course was very interactive and was able to answer all of our questions. The online course and manual are well structured and easy to follow.  I would not hesitate to recommend this course to anyone who is interested in making a positive change in their life.

—-  S Mackie

Crickets: A New Superfood

By | Nutrition

By Kristina Nel

In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a report entitled Edible Insects – Future prospects for food and feed security. This report recommends integrating edible insects into our diet, in order to maintain a high-quality diet and reduce our environmental footprint. The publication of this paper had a catalyzer effect on the popularity of eating insects in North America. But why insects? Because they are nutritious, eco-responsible, and taste delicious! If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of adding crickets (the most commonly consumed insect in North America) to your diet, keep on reading.

Health Benefits of Eating Cricket

Cricket is truly what we call a “superfood” i.e. a nutrient-rich food with health-promoting properties considered to be especially beneficial for general health and well-being. This edible insect is packed with macronutrients and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, which are all crucial to support optimal health.

Did you know that cricket is 60% protein, whereas beef is only 20-30% protein? In other words, cricket contains 2X more protein than beef on a per weight basis! Not only is cricket high in protein, it is also a complete source of protein. This means that cricket protein contains all the essential amino acids that your body cannot synthesize on its own and that you must obtain through your diet. Protein is an important macronutrient. It is used by the body for muscle synthesis and muscle repair. Therefore, protein is crucial to maintain lean body mass, especially for active people whose muscles deteriorate during exercise.

Cricket is also high in calcium. As it happens, cricket contains 1.6X more calcium than milk on a per weight basis. Calcium is an important nutrient that plays many roles in the human body, including the formation and maintenance of healthy bones, as well as the insurance of proper muscle contraction. Calcium is especially important for athletes because they lose more minerals through perspiration, and because low calcium levels increases the risk of experiencing muscle cramps during physical effort.

Cricket is also rich in iron. Actually, cricket contains 2X more iron than spinach on a per weight basis Iron is an essential nutrient, meaning it must be obtained through the diet. It is a component of hemoglobin; the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Hence, it is particularly important for athletes because it ensures that muscles are oxygenated and working properly, and it helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy during exercise.

Another important nutrient found in large quantities in cricket is vitamin B12. As a matter of fact, cricket contains 7X more vitamin B12 than salmon on a per weight basis. Vitamin B12 is an essential B vitamin that participates in maintaining the body’s homeostasis and plays a crucial role in blood and neurological functioning. Vitamin B12 is involved in the production of nerve cells, DNA, and red blood cells. Therefore, it is important for athletes to have adequate levels of vitamin B12 to ensure that the oxygen carrying capacity of their blood is not compromised.

Environmental Benefits of Eating Cricket

It is estimated that the world population will exceed nine billion people by the year 2050. In order to meet the needs of this rising population, it will be necessary to almost double the current food production. However, this is not a feasible solution given that the current means of production are nearly insufficient to feed the present population. The biggest problem lies in the growing demand for animal protein. Farming animals requires lots of space, feed and water; it creates lots of strain on the Earth.

In terms of resources, crickets are much more sustainable than any other traditional animals currently being farmed. For instance, crickets require 12 times less feed, 13 times less land, 2000 times less water, and produce 100 times less greenhouse gases than beef. This is a huge difference considering the fact that the livestock sector generates as much greenhouse gases as the transport sector, and monopolizes two thirds of the cultivated surfaces on Earth.

With that being said, it is no surprise that edible insects are consumed more and more in North America. While there is a certain psychological barrier that must be overcome due to the lack of edible insects in dietary customs, there are lots of ways to consume crickets that make the transition to an entotarian diet much more comfortable. For instance, many companies are adding crickets to their products such as energy bars, protein bars, protein powder, chips, pasta, etc. In addition, you can start cooking with cricket powder, which can easily be added to all the meals you cook and the treats you bake!

Check out the Food and Agriculture Organization report for more information.

About Kristina Nel

Kristina Nel is the Product Development Manager for Näak. She joined Näak’s dynamic team in January 2019. Kristina graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition and a concentration in Sports Nutrition in 2017. She also graduated from McGill University with a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition in 2018, after completing research on endurance runners and their dietary habits. During her university summers, Kristina spent her time tree planting and working different jobs in the reforestation industry. When she isn’t busy coming up with new product ideas and creating content for work, she can be found rock climbing, skiing, or planning her next adventure!