Catalina Levitt is a certified nutritionist and body builder. She recently won the International Natural BodyBuilding Association’s Open Division in 2021. She is a leading online nutritionist who helps clients all over the world via Zoom to lose weight and lead a healthier life.
Levitt is often surprised by the number of “tips” accessible online about achieving better health without putting in the work and knows it can be mind-bogglingly difficult to find out what works best for you.
Levitt outlines the main reasons why your diet isn’t working – and strategies to improve eating habits.
Where does nutrition fall apart?
Levitt has a few top tips for clients looking to live healthier. The tips are based on her own experiences coaching her clients as well as her own strategies developed as part of her training program to compete in a variety of all natural body building competitions.
Fats are essential in any diet
Diets that eliminate fats tend to substitute for carbohydrates. Excess carbs spike blood sugars. These are both concerning side effects for people who are trying to be healthier and control their caloric intake.
The body is in a constant battle to control both blood sugar and insulin levels, which can in turn impact cortisol production. Cortisol is a factor in the body storing fat, so this is one factor that is particularly important in a healthy diet.
Dietary fat can help balance energy levels, and keep hunger under control. Levitt suggests adding healthy fats with each meal. “Raw nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado, olives, grass-fed butter or free range eggs.” are great examples she says.
Get carbs back on the menu
Just because good fats are back on the menu doesn’t make carbs a “no-go” zone.
When people reduce carbs, Levitt suggests that they risk eliminating fiber, which is essential for digestion. Researchers are forever asking, which is better, low fat or low carb? But Levitt says there isn’t a single correct answer.
Some people do better with more carbs, and some do better with more fat. Everybody is different and a person’s particular circumstances and physical constitution need to be evaluated by a nutritionist.
Colorful vegetables are key
Human bodies need lots of nutrient-dense foods to live a long life. The problem people face with macros (the nutrients we need in larger quantities to give us energy, so fat, protein and carbohydrate) or calorie-based plans is that they fixate on numbers, scales and measurements, without acknowledging the nutrient density in foods, and how your metabolism responds to that.
Diet staples like chicken, olive oil, and rice provide trace quantities of protein, fat, and carbs, but what about their nutrient density and variety? Generally speaking, less color means fewer nutrients. When people consume lots of colorful vegetables, healthy fats, and essential proteins, their metabolism activates, extracting various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep bodies humming.
Stress aggravates the body, and can result in excess body fat. Stress is inevitable but it is often overlooked in areas beyond mental health.
Even if people ignore their levels of stress, minor daily stressors can threaten metabolic balance.
Levitt says that cortisol level needs to be in a state of balance in order to shed body fat. Reducing stress has been shown to improve metabolism. Meditation, stretching, yoga, reading or listening to podcasts are all tactics for mindfully reducing stress.
Be aware of what you eat
Levitt also states that practicing awareness during meals can help reduce cortisol and abdominal fat. She suggests cutting out blue light from screens and being aware that you don’t have to always finish what’s on the plate. Using smaller plates is also a good idea for bringing awareness to your eating habits.
Levitt concludes by reminding people not to eat the same things every day. She suggests incorporating a variety of nutrients from real foods.