EATING SIMPLE AND SMART
with Member Lauren Kane
Ex-pastry chef and nutrition expert, Lauren Kane, debunks fad diets, explains macro-counting and reveals a realistic and nutritious approach to eating.
Buzzing around the world of diets circa 2020 are “keto” and “intermittent fasting.” Will they stick or will experts eventually devalue them and point out the health issues they cause? As the past few decades prove, it’s probably the latter. Much like the changes in the way we wear jeans throughout the years, trendy diets come and go. Yet, the fear of carbs brought on by the Atkins diet that invaded most households in the early 2000s has lingered despite scientific proof debunking its merit. With a background in nutrition and passion for fitness, Hill Country Indoor member Lauren Kane weighs in on fad diets and reveals her secrets to a sustainable yet healthy approach to eating.
“Your body actually likes carbs. It’s its preferred energy source,” Lauren Kane says.
Kane earned a degree in nutrition at the University of Texas before heading off to the East Coast to become a pastry chef—attending school, acquiring an internship and then moving to New York for a career in a bustling culinary scene.
“In my last semester of college, I was taking medical nutrition therapy classes, which is basically about assigning diets to people with diabetes and heart disease. I realized I didn’t want to go into the clinical side of it,” Kane says.
Upon reflection, Kane wishes she was able to focus on exercise science, but, at the time, didn’t see an opportunity for it. Though she still has a passion for cooking and baking, after moving back to Austin and working in the industry down- town, the long hours, low pay and lack of evolution in the food scene unlike New York forced her to retire her baking pin in search of something more stable and less consuming.
Now, she works in software, but appreciates the ability to go home and put work away. In doing so, she has more time and energy to do the things she loves including health coaching on the side. Fueling her is an insatiable hunger to help people reach their nutrition and fitness goals.
“I love to see people feel good about themselves and gain confidence. I have one client who has a daughter and wants to be a better role model for her. Now, she is getting active and enjoying things with her family and says, ‘I can go on a family walk and not feel out of breath or tired.’ So, it’s seeing people super proud of themselves that really drives me,” Kane says.
Though she has a solid understanding of nutrition, Kane learned everything she knows about health coaching through a supplement company called First Phorm. Through quarterly transformation challenges, the company’s mission is to help people get healthy rather than sell supplements.
“Their whole approach is a supplement is just that—you can’t reach your goals by taking a protein supplement. So, I really believed in their mission,” Kane says. “Now, I look into what clients are currently doing, what their goals are and what they enjoy eating and how to make small adjustments instead of eliminating or restricting.”
Kane epitomizes putting into practice what she preaches and shares her personal goals and regimens as well as some strategies and tips for turning healthy eating into a lifestyle.
Feeling Good And Meal Prepping.
Kane provides a fresh look at how her fitness and nutri- tion goals can and should work in tandem by revealing her fitness routines and meal prepping insights.
“Right now, I’m trying to get stronger and just feel good. Physically, I’ve met what I’ve wanted to and
I think for a while that’s kind of what I chased. Looking back on it, I realized I just wanted to feel good, feel strong, be able to perform well [and kick ass in a workout]. Nutrition-wise I’m trying to maintain
that,” Kane says.
As far as her fitness routine is concerned, Kane goes for a daily 35-45-minute walk seven days of the week. Resistance training is her primary focus six times a week for an hour and when she doesn’t feel like resistance training she takes a MayhemX or Tabata class at HCI. The main takeaway is she keeps her options open yet consistent with things that work for her and that she enjoys and doesn’t overdo it in ways that lead to burnout.
Kane also keeps the fuel she needs readily available to support her work- outs. Her meal prepping strategy is simple yet savvy and way more feasible than attempting intricate recipes.
“I do try to meal prep, but I don’t do it in a way where I am prepping each individual meal. I’ll typically prep
my protein instead—cook a bunch of chicken or some kind of beef and ground turkey. So, that way I have it available to throw together with vegetables. I’ll also have some rice and potatoes on hand,” Kane says.
Weighing In On Macro-Counting.
Though it might seem tedious, the next step in Kane’s routine is using a scale to weigh out her macro- nutrients. Using a scale is much more accurate, but Kane ensures everything can be done without a scale. For instance, a palm size of meat is about a serving or four to five ounces of meat. Kane chooses to scale things out to get the most out of what she is able to eat.
“I want to know that I’m getting all of the pasta or rice or sweet potatoes. I have three meals a day and two snacks. I do macro counting, so I don’t follow any diets. I just calculate how many calories I’m getting based on what my body needs and based on what my goals currently are as far as maintaining weight or losing weight or gaining muscle. I prioritize protein and eat lots of carbs and veggies and all the things.”
For those who need a crash course, macro nutrients are nutrients your body needs in large amounts which Kane also iterates is much simpler than people think. The breakdown is protein, carbohydrates and fats.
“So, when you’re doing macro-counting, you want to figure out what your TDEE is or your total daily energy expenditure and then based off your goals you either want to be in deficit, or surplus or maintain,” Kane says. “So, basically, with that you have a total number of calories you want to set for the day. First, you set your protein amount and I set one gram of protein per goal body weight and then depending on if you like carbs or fats more, you set a minimum on one and then try to hit all of your numbers each day like a game,” Kane says.
Holiday Eating And Yo-Yo Dieting.
Of course, Kane leaves the scale at home when going out to eat, for birthdays, vacations and other holidays. She emphasizes the importance of enjoying those times and notices the stress holidays and special occasions cause her clients, but coaches them through it.
“I tell them Thanksgiving is one day out of 365 days of the year so, I want you to remember one day is not going to ruin your progress. The key is in the days lead- ing up to and after and not letting that over-indulgence turn into a week or even a month,” Kane says. “Maybe don’t have two full slices of pie. Try having half of one and half of another. Enjoy your thanksgiving dinner and then get back on track.”
When losing weight is the goal, fad diets might seem to work in the short term, but Kane cautions yo-yoing with diets that aren’t safe to keep up. Whereas diets like the Mediterranean diet are based on balance and the lifestyle of people in a specific region, other diets that center around immediate weight loss can cause more harm than good.
“I would say try to think of something as a sustainable practice that is part of a lifestyle change rather than trying something for thirty days to lose thirty pounds,” Kane says.
What does sustainable practice look like?
“When you completely cut out things you like, you restrict your calories, you do 60 minutes of cardio every day, it’s not sustainable. Nobody wants to do those things so, you end up completely falling off-track instead of saying, ‘okay, can I be healthy most of the time and still eat the foods I enjoy?’ I never wish I didn’t have to eat the foods I make, I eat foods I like,” Kane says.
Prioritizing Protein And Finding Balance.
With meal prepping and macro-counting, Kane prioritizes protein for a reason. Retaining lean muscle mass, building more muscle, staying full for longer are among the reasons protein should be a priority.
“Protein is also metabolically expensive so it takes more energy to break down burning more fat. Protein is also important for a lot of the processes that take place in your body. So, your hair, skin, nails are made of protein and it’s important to make sure your body is able to, first, meet all of those functions and then, have enough protein to build muscle,” Kane says.
While Kane eats food she actually enjoys eating and encourages others to do the same, she has cut out alco- hol, most processed foods and foods high in saturated fats. She is not, however, dairy- or gluten-free. Her final words of advice on balance are:
“Prioritize protein, stay hydrated, try to drink 100 ounces of water a day, eat more volume of vegetables that fill you up. Try to cut out processed foods. Eat things you enjoy and try to find healthier options of what you enjoy.”
With balance comes reward and Kane also says if she wants something like ice cream, she’ll eat ice cream. The irony in being an ex-pastry chef, however, is she doesn’t usually have a sweet tooth.
Dietitians Versus Coaches.
While dietitians are mostly reserved for medical issues and eating disorders, Kane says go to health coaches with a nutrition background to learn about nutrition and talk about your calorie needs. She also emphasizes the importance of doing your research. Things to look for in a health coach include plans that are specific to you and your goals.
“If somebody gives you a 1000-calorie diet that is just chicken, broccoli and rice, I would run the other direction. If they’re not asking you about what you enjoy, what your daily activity looks like or what your goals are or not getting into the specifics, it’s probably not going to help you,” Kane says.