Today we are so thrilled to have Ashley Erikson of Ashley’s Health contributing to our PN lineup. She’s breaking down a very hot topic that will no doubt pique plenty of interest: connecting the dots between specific foods and weight lost. Ashley started off her career as a physical trainer but has slowly migrated to health consulting. As you can see, Ashley seriously knows her stuff.

Losing weight isn’t easy, but we all do know it begins in the same place: making the right food choices. It’s not just about calories in and calories out, it’s also about the science behind the foods themselves. By choosing foods that are richer in antioxidants and phytonutrients you make actively make the right food choices. Why do antioxidants matter?  Well because they protect your body’s cells from being damaged by free radicals. By protecting the cells you protect the DNA inside the nucleus of every cell. This all leads to better functioning cells, which leads to better and more efficient energy production within each cell. Which in turn increases the quality of metabolism, the body’s ability to convert fats and sugars into energy.

Making the wrong food choices can slow down antioxidant production in your body, which unfortunately can lead to more free radicals damaging cells. This will not only slow down the energy production each cell offers, but eventually leads to more fats being stored. When this happens in large quantities of cells it leads to inflammation, a lack of energy overall, and weight gain.  Free radicals do serve a few purposes though, one of which is to take down viruses and bad bacterias that enter into the body. Antioxidants protect the cells from free radicals so the free radical can take out negative elements in the body.

This is why it’s vital that we eat foods and drink liquids that we know our filling our bodies with nutrients that consist of antioxidants. Our body is truly defined by our cells, since our body is the combination of trillions of cells and if we don’t take protect them we’re not taking care of ourselves. We talk in depth about how calories are not created equal in the upcoming program Prescribe 20 (more info at the bottom of article!)


Energy is Our Metabolism

All of our living cells create energy off of the food we eat.  Our body is constantly using and burning energy. This is a part of the metabolic process that’s going on in the body. Our food is broken down and then converted into energy, so we can function and operate in our everyday lives.

How Your Body Gets Antioxidants

Our body naturally produces antioxidants enzymes, our genetic makeup helps control this, but our body relies heavily on external forces to give it more antioxidants. Those influences are the food we eat, the rest we receive, and the environment we live around.

Calorie Counting vs. Focus on Antioxidants

Calorie counting for weight loss can be dangerous because low calorie diets may not provide the rich nutrients that offer high amounts of antioxidants. For instance, a 100 calorie snack pack may be low in calories but it’s also extremely low in antioxidants.  Focusing on eating foods that are very high in antioxidants will speed up the metabolism.

Foods High in Antioxidants

Plant-based foods normally contain the most significant levels of antioxidants. Antioxidant levels can be measured using a scale known as the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity scale, or ORAC scale. There are now scanners that can show you the antioxidant level count in your blood before and after  you eat these foods. According to Keri Glassman, author of  the O2 Diet, she suggests over 30,000 ORAC points daily..

Some common foods that score big numbers on the ORAC scale include:

Goji Berries – 13,600 points/serving
Artichokes – 7,900 points/serving
Lemon Water – 3,200 points/serving
Red Grapefruit – 1,900 points/serving
Figs – 2,900 points/serving
Beans (most) – 7,900 points/serving
Cherries – 3,500 points/serving
Dark Chocolate – 5,900 points/serving
Blueberries – 9,700 points/serving
Cinnamon – 7,000 points/serving
Plums – 4,100 points/serving


Metabolic Syndrome and Antioxidants

Alright, now for the scare tactics. Diets very low in antioxidants can lead to metabolic syndrome. What is metabolic syndrome? It’s the combination of risk factors that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other disorders. Risk factors include a large waistline, high triglycerides, low HDL, hypertension, and high fasting blood sugar. People who exhibit three or more of these factors are said to have metabolic syndrome. A diet high in antioxidants and low in sugar can prevent or cure metabolic syndrome by helping people lose weight, minimizing triglyceride levels and more. Combined with regular exercise, the diseases above don’t stand much of a chance.  So, in a nutshell, you’ve got this. 😉

You know where you’ll get a lot of antioxidants?  In our upcoming program, Prescribe 20.  We focus on whole foods – and highlight an antioxidant rich plant based diet. Will you feel the best you have in years?  Yep, probably.  If you’re ready to turn things around this January, join us, and use the code iamready for a cool 20% off.  Learn more and register here.

Ashley is the mother of three boys, a blogger, a trainer and now a health consultant. She has lived back and forth between Utah and Colorado, she now resides in Provo, Utah.  Follow Ashley and stay up to date on eating healthy and feeding your family well – check her out on her Twitter or blog today.