Balanced Bites Podcast Episode #228: All About Carbs with Christine Hronec

All About Carbs with Christine Hronec - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced BitesTopics:
1.  News and updates from Diane [2:07]
2.  Something new that I’m into: weighted vest and sashimi [4:22]
3.  Introducing our guest, Christine Hronec of Gauge Girl Training [7:22]
4. Introducing the carbohydrate [11:06]
5. How eating carbs helps you lose fat [14:58]
6. Where to start, how to monitor and tweak [22:38]
7. Why a longer time frame is helpful [35:54]
8. A little bit on fat and protein balance [44:15]
9. Concerning pregnancy and breastfeeding [51:02]
10. Spacing carbs around workouts [58:35]
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You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 228: All About Carbs with Christine Hronec 
Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast with Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe. Diane is a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo, The 21-Day Sugar Detox, and co-author of Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. Liz is a nutritional therapy practitioner, and the best-selling author of Eat the Yolks and The Purely Primal Skincare Guide. Together, Diane and Liz answer your questions, interview leading health and wellness experts, and share their take on modern paleo living with their friendly and balanced approach. Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Diane Sanfilippo: Hey everyone, welcome back to the show. I’m super pumped today. Diane here on my own without Liz, but I do have a very special guest, and I know you guys are going to be really excited to learn from today. I have Christine Hronec of Gauge Girl Training; I know you guys have heard me talk about her a bunch as my coach for the last 12 weeks and we’re going to be chatting all about carbs today. Before we get into my interview with Christine, let’s hear a word from one of our sponsors.
Diane Sanfilippo: The Balanced Bites podcast is brought to you in part by the Full Body Fix. In addition to editing this podcast, Dr. Scott Mills, my husband, is a chiropractor who creates resources for athletes and every day people to eliminate pain and improve the way you move. The Full Body Fix is his recently released online video program that will teach you step by step exercises to overcome the most common aches, pains, and movement faults. From plantar fasciitis to lower back pain and sciatica, to carpal tunnel syndrome and elbow pain, the Full Body Fix has you covered. Learn more at to see all the protocols, and enter code BALANCEDBITES for an extra $10 off your first purchase.
1. News and updates from Diane [2:07]
Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, actually before my interview what I’m going to do is give you guys just a couple of quick event updates, because I’ve got two to tell y’all about here. Number one, February 27th, if you’re in the San Francisco bay area, there’s a big event at UCSF. I’m not speaking, but it’s a big paleo event; Chris Kresser, Robb, Wolf, Michelle Tam, Chris Masterjohn, Stephan Guyenet are all speaking, so we’ll put a link to that in the show notes. It’s at UCSF, and I haven’t been able to find it just Googling, so come over to the blog, check out the post for this episode, and if you’re in the bay area February 27th I will be there attending, but I will not be speaking. So you guys can come hang out, come see me, bring your book to get signed. I just think it’s going to be an awesome event, and it’s for anyone. It sounds like it’s a talk on the paleo approach and evolutionary medicine, so it’s going to be really cool. I’m very excited about that; I shifted my calendar around a little bit so I could make sure I could attend. So that’s first thing.
Second thing, if you’re in Portland, heads up as you’ve heard the past couple of weeks we’ve been announcing March 17th we will be in Portland doing a live episode of the podcast. I’m super excited this. I’m trying to finalize a few details; we’ve got a venue, I’m just trying to finalize what’s going on with the food, because we’re going to have food for you guys. We want you guys to be able to come right after work, not worry about food, etc. So, tickets will be on sale for that really soon. Keep your eyes peeled everywhere; make sure you’re on my emailing list so you get the updates.
And the very last thing I want to tell y’all is that next week Monday is the February 21-Day Sugar Detox kick off. So if you’ve been wanting to do that and you’re listening, perhaps Thursday Friday whenever you’re hearing this, you can jump in any time. You can get started on the first, or you can start any time thereafter. It’s totally cool. If you do not have the books and you jump in with the online program, you’ll get the quick start guide right away, which will obviously get you going without the need for the printed books to just kind of jump in. of course, I like for you guys to always have at least a few days to prepared ahead of time, get you food ready, etc. So that’s it for my updates.
2. Something new that I’m into: weighted vest and sashimi [4:22]
Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, let’s do a new thing I’m into lately. Christine, {laughs} we didn’t even introduce you yet.
Christine Hronec: {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: But I want you to tell us a new thing you’re into lately, because I think that’s a really fun ice breaker. Before we even get your bio; so people don’t even know who you are yet.
Christine Hronec: Awesome. Well, a new thing I’m into lately, which is pretty random but it’s related to my training. I have really been into using a weighted vest for my fasted cardio. I’ve been wearing this awesome; I feel like a superhero.
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Christine Hronec: Like 10-pound weighted vest, and it’s neoprene. It’s pretty, it’s purple, and it basically adds additional resistance to my morning fasted cardio. It’s awesome. I like to walk on an incline on a treadmill at a pretty low rate; high incline, and I probably get an extra 10-15% more out of my workout just by adding this awesome vest.
Diane Sanfilippo: Very cool. So, the new thing that I’m into lately is my sashimi breakfast bowl {laughs}. I posted about it over on Instagram; I think I posted it to Facebook too. It’s not cheap to grab that sashimi at Whole Foods, but sometimes if I go after a workout in the morning and I grab it, or I grab it for dinner and then have a little bit left for the next morning; I’m kind of obsessed. A couple of weeks ago I feel like someone asked me over on Periscope; what’s your favorite protein source? And I was like, I don’t know, I don’t have a favorite. And then I realized my favorite protein ever, like the thing I would always choose on a menu is going to be raw fish. {laughs} Raw fish and actually raw beef, so like beef tartar, if it’s on a menu and I can eat it, I’m ordering it. If there’s some kind of sashimi or even a ceviche, which ceviche is not completely raw; I am all about that stuff. I don’t know what it is. I’m not; I don’t think I’m any kind of ethnic heritage that would have a ton of raw fish.
Christine Hronec: {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t know where it comes from, but I love it. I love the texture of it, I like how it feels to eat it. I just love it. It’s buttery and delicious, and that’s what I’ve been into. I like adding nori paper to my sashimi bowl; so I’ll do Sea Snax and kind of crumble them up. And that’s my jam. That’s what I’m into lately.
Liz Wolfe: Our podcast sponsorship today comes from Vital Choice, an online purveyor of the world’s best wild seafood delivered right to your door; because juggling a busy life shouldn’t mean you have to forgo healthy meals. At, you’ll find wild Alaskan salmon, halibut, tuna, sable fish, and cod, as well as prawns, crab, and scallops. You’ll also find grass-fed organic Wagyu beef, free range heritage chicken, fresh frozen organic berries, and dark organic chocolates. Make a vital choice by eating the highest quality food you can. Vital Choice; come home to real food.
3. Introducing our guest, Christine Hronec of Gauge Girl Training [7:22]
Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so as I mentioned, my friend and coach Christine Hronec from Gauge Girl Training is joining me today for this chat, all about carbs. I’m really pumped about this; she’s a perfect guest to be talking about this. And I will let Christine give you guys a little bit of background on herself and introduce herself.
Christine Hronec: Hey everyone! It’s Christine Hronec with Gauge Girl training. I’m the CEO and founder of Gauge Girl Training, which is an online meal planning and coaching service. I’m a food scientist for another business that I co-own, which is called Muscle Gauge Nutrition. It’s a private label manufacturing company for whey protein, dietary supplements, amino acids and whatnot, and I got into the industry from the manufacturing point of view. When I started with Muscle Gauge Nutrition, I’m actually a chemical engineer by training, I moved into biotech, and I consulted in the nutraceutical field for several years before I became a business owner in that field.
Once I started with Muscle Gauge, I just basically started drinking the Kool-Aid, so to speak. I fell in love with the nutrition industry. I began training for bikini competitions, I had the opportunity to train and coach a lot of amazing people, and through that process that’s where Gauge Girl Training emerged. It’s been amazing journey. I love, love, love what I do. I love being able to break down the science for people to help them reach their goals, and that’s what brought me here today, where I met Diane. Because I’ve been working with her for the last 3 months, and it’s been a really great process.
Diane Sanfilippo: Very cool. So I know a lot of people who are listening are like; oh, she’s a chemical engineer, food scientist. I think some people will be put off because they feel like the real food community, it’s not all about the molecules and all that kind of thing. But the truth is, if we want to understand otherwise this stuff works in the body, kind of marrying the science and that detail and that level of things with what we know and practice is kind of where the magic happens, and that’s really a lot of what you’re doing with meal planning, some workout planning, all of that with clients.
So a lot of people, they feel like the science part is maybe not as important as understanding real whole foods, and eating whole foods, and being really focused on that. And that’s fine and that’s fair, but there is an element, obviously a big one, of understanding the science of how this stuff works. Especially, we get tons of people; literally, the questions flow in every single week; “I’ve been eating paleo fir this many years, and I’m having trouble losing body fat.” Or, “I have adrenal fatigue, can I eat carbs?” The same questions over and over, and I understand why we’re being asked it, because we’re not answering it. So if we’re not able to answer it with just “eat real food” and “eat foods that feel good to you”, all of that, this next level is the kind of stuff that you’re doing where it’s like, what’s the breakdown that’s going to help you feel good and help you reach your goals kind of all together?
That’s the thing that I thing has been the most enlightening for me in working with the plan that you created for me. It’s that naturally, I would actually eat a lot less carbohydrate. I’m looking at what I’m eating on my week off now; less carbohydrate, more fat, and less protein. And while that might seem easy, and it’s like, well why not just eat what you naturally would eat? Well, that doesn’t help me reach my goals and it actually doesn’t make me feel my best, either. It’s just it may be what’s easy to grab because it’s “paleo” or it’s the stuff that’s in the house.
4. Introducing the carbohydrate [11:06]
Diane Sanfilippo: So let’s talk a little bit about the background on carb. This whole episode is going to be about carbs; so let’s talk about, what is a carbohydrate? What does it do in the body? Where are we getting it in our diet? Let’s just start with the basics. What are carbs, what does our body do with them, what do we need them for, what don’t we need them for?
Christine Hronec: Sure. So, carbs are saccharides. When I think of carbohydrates, I want you guys to visualize a string of pearls, because there are two types of carbs. There’s simple carbs and there’s complex carbs. So simple carbs, think of sugars. They’re like one to two molecules; thing of things like fructose, think of honey, think of things like that. Fructose is essentially the sugar that is naturally found in fruit. Complex carbs, they’re going to be a longer string of pearls. Think of things like grains, starches, potatoes, yams, beets, carrots, and whatnot.
So, that is what carbs look like molecularly. When I close my eyes, and I imagine a carb I picture strings of pearls. I either picture pearls that are like one to two pearls long, or very, very long strands of pearls. Now, these pearls essentially, they’re made up of 3 different atoms. They’re made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. And where one gram of carbohydrates has 4 kilocalories per gram; it’s actually what we know as calories, but technically it’s a kilocalorie.
Carbs are very important; they are so important, and carbs are not something that should be feared. They are not something that we should look at and run from because there’s so much stuff that’s been popularized in the culture today that would make you think that carbs are bad, but carbs are important for cellular function. The problem is, most people get too many carbs. It depends a lot on the quality of your foods, it depends on your goals. So if you were trying to figure out how many carbs you would need in order to thrive, a good rule of thumb to start is to look at about 40% of your daily caloric intake.
So, for those, let’s say you’re eating roughly 1500-2000 calories per day. This would mean that approx 600-800 of those calories would come from carbs, or 150-200 grams per day. Now this is in general; this is very in general, this is very broad paint stroke; this is not the end all, be all for everyone, and what is going to work for you is going to depend on how active you are, it’s going to depend on your genetics, and several other factors. But carbs are so important. Anything we do when it comes to energy and moving around, we rely on glycogen.
Every time you moved and got up and stood up and down, just any motion, even the motion and energy I need to speak right now; if any time I spoke, my body relied on fat for that; it’s a survival mechanism. Your body doesn’t want to give up its stored fat, because we’re trying to survive, in the most primal sense of the word. So our body relies on glycogen as the first energy source to support just human function .So anyone who is trying to burn fat needs to understand that you first need to burn off glycogen before you can even get into fat burning mode, and that’s actually a good thing, because you’re body does need glycogen to survive. It’s to help you so that way you’re not shriveling away into nothing. {laughs} So glycogen is definitely the first defense of energy for our body before we even get into stored fat.
5. How eating carbs helps you lose fat [14:58]
Diane Sanfilippo: So based on that, I think kind of a natural easy next question, and you guys, the questions that came in on this stuff; basically, there’s about 5 or 6 questions, and they’re all kind of the same. So what I’m doing with Christine today is really just tackling the topics and demystifying some of this stuff, because you all need to put the pieces together for yourself, because we have 20 questions that came in that are all really the same question, with just a nuance of something different that’s specific to you as a person. So, we want you guys to listen to what we’re saying. When Christine says, well if this, then that; and if this, then that. You have to listen to that. If she’s saying; well if you are training harder you might need more; then listen to that. And if you’re not training harder you might not need more; listen to that if that’s you. It’s not one way is the best way; it’s, this is how to apply it to you and your own needs. You’re going to have to listen to it and kind of apply it differently.
So, the one question I have about that, Christine, is a little bit, just a personal curiosity, and I know we have so many people listening who have done a low carb diet and have been really successful with that. How does it work then, for us; first of all if we are eating; like, I’m eating a lot more carbs than I was before, I’m on your plan, and I’m losing body fat. I’m not losing muscle, I’m losing body fat, and I am training to where I understand that I’m definitely burning through glycogen, but I feel like it’s almost surprising that I am able to lose body fat eating this much carb based on, in the past I’ve definitely done a low carb thing, I know I lost a lot of water weight doing that but it actually took me a lot longer to lose weight eating low carb than it took to do it this time. It took maybe half as much time following your plan than it did when I was following a low carb approach.
Can you help us understand why, if we need to burn glycogen before we can get to body fat, how does it work? How am I able to lose this fat, and how are people able to lose it? You’ve even got people on your plan who aren’t quite as active, but you still have them eating carbs. How does that work, how do we get to that?
Christine Hronec: Sure. Well the first thing I just wanted to reiterate, which you did a really good job explaining, which is; we are as differently chemically on the inside as we are physically on the outside. So I can’t reiterate that enough. The one thing that is missing here that I think a lot of people are missing is this; eating carbs releases insulin where most people know insulin; they think of it as the fat storing hormone. However, insulin is also the muscle building hormone, and there is a tipping point. So I’m going to repeat that; most people think of insulin as the fat storing hormone; however, it is also the muscle building hormone. Insulin is an anabolic hormone. So having insulin in your system actually helps you build lean muscle mass. Here’s the problem; if you go too low on your carbs, you sacrifice muscle mass. If you sacrifice muscle mass, you are compromising your metabolism and your ability to burn fat while at rest. If you go too high, however, on carbs, which you’re going high on insulin, you will sacrifice fat loss.
So, everybody’s “sweet spot” to maintain energy and build muscle is going to be different. However, that sweet spot is a sliding scale; it’s going to vary on so many different factors. And like I said before, we are as different chemically as we are physically. But having carbs is so essential because insulin is a muscle building hormone and it’s a fact that’s neglected, and looked over very often.
Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s a good point, because a lot of people who are talking about low carb as an effective means for fat loss; actually, when I look at, this is not a scientific view, this is what I’m seeing in practice across the board, people who are eating low carb very often are not the same as those who are in the gym cranking it out with workouts, hard charging athletes, etc. Yes, we probably both know there are tons of people are like bodybuilders, whatever else, who eat low carb, follow a low carb diet. I’ve seen; you know, I did pretty well weight training eating low carb. Eating 30 grams of carbs a day, weight training, not getting into that super glycolytic high intensity interval type of working out. I felt fine doing that. As soon as I pushed to more than 5 minutes of some kind of cardio type intensive exercise, I got a headache and I felt like I was going to pass out because I did not have the glycogen in my system that I needed for that workout.
And we see a ton of people who write in to us, a lot of women especially because we know our listeners are probably 80-90% women who are trying to do Crossfit, for example, and they’re not getting enough carbs. I see this in 21-Day Sugar Detox people who are trying to detox harder and not eat the carbs that I tell them to eat when they’re working out. So we see people just not feeling well at all; but I think a lot of people are scared that eating carbs is going to make them gain body fat, have trouble losing body fat, and what you’re saying is; look, if you’re actually trying to build muscle here, which we were talking right before the show. I remember Robb Wolfe used to joke, your metabolism is not some made up thing in your armpit, your muscle mass dictates your metabolism here. So this is exactly what you’re saying; if you’re trying to build muscle, if you’re eating carbs that are going to help you build the muscle. You’re actually weight training, you’re also eating protein. We’re not going to talk a ton about protein today, but all that stuff has to be happening, that will continue to up your metabolic rate naturally because you’re actually building that muscle that can do that for you.
So it’s just a lot more complicated than eating something and not eating something, because at the end of the day we do need to balance it for our energy for our workouts, for all of that stuff.
Christine Hronec: Yeah, and I think there was a question we discussed earlier about how many carbs you need to thrive, and why people get scared of higher levels of carbs. And people can walk away having a very high level of confidence; once you know what your BMR is, what you’re basal metabolic rate is for your body, and for your age, your height, you’re weight, all those things considered; it’s really important for everybody to know because we are all so different.
How much energy is needed just for your body to function at rest doing nothing, and then from there applying an activity factor, because if you are a cross fitter, if you are somebody who is doing things that are way more intense, because if you know you’re base level and then you apply an activity factor, you can see how much nutrients your body actually needs if you’re trying to maintain a certain body mass. But if you’re trying to drop that, that can be tweaked too. I just want to reiterate that there are very clear cut scientific approaches that can tell you exactly how much you should be taking to support the type of activity that you’re doing.
6. Where to start, how to monitor and tweak [22:38]
Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so I think we want to talk about that; how people can at least; obviously, this isn’t going to get into the specifics of every nuance, like something you might do with a custom plan or whatever. But what are some baselines of how many carbs to people need. Let’s just take; I don’t know if you have an example here, if you can do one that’s like an average woman, let’s say she’s 35. I’m not going to; {laughs} because you’re going to want to do all the math I know if I throw an example.
Christine Hronec: Yeah. {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: You’re going to be like, hold on I’m going to enter it all into my calculator! But your average woman that comes to you, she probably is about 35.
Christine Hronec: Mm-hmm.
Diane Sanfilippo: X amount of fat loss she wants to have. What’s a starting point for someone at home to start to think about; how do they get started on that? How much time should they expect to work from that and make tweaks and changes. Because I know based on the plan that you gave me, it’s like, ok this is based on where you’re starting, your age, how much I think you need energy-wise throughout the day, and also based on workouts. And then a few weeks later, we’re looking at my progress and how I’m feeling, and then we tweaked it a little bit. And then another few weeks later.
So, where can people start when they’re at home, and they’re like, “well I don’t even know what to do! One person tells me to eat 50 grams! One person tells me to eat 200 grams!” Where can they start, how can they monitor things, do a little bit of math maybe, and then tweak and go from there?
Christine Hronec: Yeah, the first rule of thumb; this is a very broad paint stroke, but first rule of thumb is you would want approx 40% of your daily caloric intake to be from carbs. So what should your daily caloric intake be? There are a lot of calorie calculators you can find online that would say how many calories you would need to be consuming for your specific goal. Whether that’s maintenance, whether that’s weight loss, fat loss, or muscle gain. So once you figure out what your daily caloric intake should be, you can begin to break that down into the macros, and today we’re specifically interested in carbs. Make sure that approx 40% of that is carbohydrates.
I’d say that’s a really good place to start. In general, we’re talking; this is a very broad paint stroke, again, but I’m going to say approx 150 grams per day for the average woman who is trying to lose weight but stay sane. {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}
Christine Hronec: And do it in a way that’s not going to drive you crazy. Because I mean, carbs make you happy, I’m just saying. {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.
Christine Hronec: They make you happy.
Diane Sanfilippo: So I think that number to a lot of our listeners is like, “oh my gosh!” I feel like what we’re doing right now, and you guys, for those of you who are listening who maybe listened back when I ate low carb for a while, I never claimed to be the person who is like, “I know the one way everyone should do anything.” That’s not my job, it’s not my position. I’m not a scientist, I’m a nutritionist. So I’m here to help you guys discover, what’s a way of balancing your nutrition to make the foods you’re eating work for your goals, make your body healthier first and foremost. I want people to be healthy first and foremost, but after that {laughs} if you have goals, paying attention to this stuff does matter.
So for a lot of women listening, this is like the flipside of when we told people not to be scared of fat. Now we’re like, Ok, we went so far with the fat. We demonized carbs so much that people then got so scared of all carbs. Having; 40% sounds almost crazy to me; but I know it also does sound like kind of a Zone percentage, which I’ve seen in the past, that can be extremely effective for people for fat loss, a 40/30/30 approach. That’s 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. That’s what the general Zone breakdown is for people who aren’t familiar with that. I’m not saying that’s the way to go for everyone, it’s just one that’s out there.
But I think what happened was we got so unafraid of fat that then we kind of became afraid of carbs to a lot of people’s detriment. That helps a ton of people; it helps a huge population of people who have type 2 diabetes, even type 1 diabetes, maybe 40% for them. Maybe it’s ok if it’s real food carbs; it might not be. But I think that when we realized that people were eating too many of the wrong kind of carbs, then we started demonizing all carbs. Right? It was like {laughs} But that’s not something…
So this goes back to the conversation that I always have with people, good carbs versus bad carbs. And in this case, I’m actually broadening my definition of good carbs to unprocessed whole real food carbs. It might be white rice; it doesn’t mean it has to be only a sweet potato, only a white potato. There’s a time and a place for this stuff, and everyone has to try and figure out how to eat it without going crazy, and I think that’s one of the things Christine has given me back with the plan that I’ve been on, that I’ve seen happening with a lot of other women and I know a lot of you guys are listening. It’s the same sigh of relief that we got when we learned that eating fat won’t make you fat; because it won’t. Eating one thing of anything is not what makes anybody gain fat. It’s eating too much of anything or the wrong amount and too much; it’s a caloric excess in general, an energy excess. This is not to the 10-calorie calculation; we’re talking a massive energy excess that’s happening, which is extremely easy to do when we’re not scared of fat. it’s really to pack on a lot of extra calories.
I know I was probably eating; I was probably eating 500 calories a day that I didn’t need for my energy, but part of that was happening because it was fat, it was easy to add. Part of it was happening because I wasn’t eating the carbs that I needed to feel good throughout the day and to fuel my workouts. So I was eating more food, more fat, and it didn’t actually help me reach my goals and it didn’t help my energy feel better. So, this has been a really good learning experience.
I think a lot of women are having this struggle, where they’re so relieved to not be scared of fat anymore, but now it’s like; well, we don’t have to be scared of it. {laughs} I know my first meal plan had egg whites in it; we don’t have to only eat egg whites. We have to look at the whole picture, and not have every single meal that we eat be a fat bomb party if that’s not supporting our goals, right? If that’s working for you, this podcast is not for the people who are eating keto, eating low carb, and feel great and it’s working for you. This is not to tell you “stop doing that.” I’m never going to tell someone, if you feel great and what you’re doing is working for you, don’t do it. That’s not the point. The point is if what you’re doing isn’t working for you, and you’re curious, could eating more carbs first of all make me feel happier, more sane, and more balanced, and second of all, also help me reach my goals? Which you guys, that’s the point where I’m at now. I feel like this has given me back something of just a freedom of, “oh, ok.” {laughs} I can eat those foods and reach my goals and feel really good at the gym and feel like an athlete again, which I was missing for the last couple of years.
Christine Hronec: Yeah, and I just wanted to touch on the point that you were talking about when it comes to the quality of the food that you take in, because that’s actually a very big factor when it comes to carbs. Like you were saying, a lot of people overeat carbs, and we’re talking about just the masses eating a lot of garbage. But a perfect example of where carbs started to get a bad reputation, because when people became scared of carbs they became scared of all carbs. And a great example of that is something like blueberries, right? Blueberries, they’re a great super food, they have fiber, they have antioxidants, they have minerals. But if you just extracted the pure fructose inside the blueberries and had that as an isolated compound where it no longer becomes a real food, that in and of itself could become toxic. Because as a whole food is meant to be consumed and absorbed and digested by your body, there are cofactors, there are nutrients. Those other things that come in with the whole food that actually helps to facilitate the way your body absorbs it, digests it, and the way it works in your system. So the quality of the food that you take has a huge impact on all of this as well. It’s not something that should be taken lightly, because isolated compounds that aren’t real foods interact with your body differently.
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Diane Sanfilippo: So, I think that’s one other thing; when people hear about macros and want to get… whenever people hear about anything that’s not something they do, they don’t know about it, or things they have heard, people just want to automatically be against something, or anti; some people do. I’m not that way. {laughs} I’m a pretty open minded person in general. I’m like, “that’s cool. Who’s that working for? Ok, that’s interesting, what can I learn about that?”
I think the better mindset for everyone to always have is to be open minded and curious versus close minded and dogmatic, and just like; well, this is the truth, because you guys, this stuff is kind of always evolving and changing. And what works for you as an individual will evolve and change. What worked for you 5 years ago if you maybe wanted to lose body fat 5 years ago, and now you’re coming back to it; sometimes the same thing doesn’t work. And it’s not because that approach is flawed, perhaps. Your whole life has probably changed, and you don’t even realize it. You think you’re doing all the same things, and you’re not.
If I think I could eat a way that I was eating in the past and it would work now, and I neglect the fact that I now run a business that’s totally different than I ran 5 years ago, my stress level is different, my activity is different, everything is different. But for whatever reason, we just throw our hands up, and we think; “No, I should just do the same thing!” It’s not always going to work.
The other thing I just wanted to say I think is a good point you made, Christine, in that we always teach people about food quality; just because we’re talking about macros doesn’t mean we think micros are not important. Because as you were saying, cellular energy, that’s fueled by macronutrients, but it’s fueled by micronutrients, too. We can’t have that stuff happen without vitamin C, and B vitamins. It’s not the approach that you have when you teach people this stuff. A lot of people have heard of IIFYM, which stands for if it fits your macros.
Christine Hronec: {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: And you kind of giggle about it.
Christine Hronec: Yeah.
Diane Sanfilippo: But you know, a lot of people; it gave people some freedom because some people went so far into that world, to this concept of clean eating where anything you might eat that wasn’t a clean, whole, real food; which you guys do this in paleo all the time. If it’s not paleo, it’s killing you. Or if it’s not clean food, you can’t eat it, it’s harmful, it’s killing you. People just want to be super black and white about things, and you know ,the truth is if somebody wants to eat something that’s kind of a treat and it fits into their overall macro plan for the day, for that person, if it works for them do it. But when you guys give meal plans to people, it’s like chicken and string beans and quinoa and rice or something; it’s real food. It’s not a plan that’s like; here’s the numbers, eat whatever you want. It really is like, these are the foods we want you to be eating.
I think that makes a really big difference, because it’s that level that; it holds somebody accountable to fueling their body in an appropriate way to be responsible for their health, not just for potentially a short term fat loss fix. Right?
Christine Hronec: Agreed.
7. Why a longer time frame is helpful [35:54]
Diane Sanfilippo: So what’s one of the reason why you have people typically; I know you have a 30-day approach on your site, but I’m sure that for most people, you like a 12-week plan. It’s just, it’s really effective. Why is it that 12 weeks is a good time frame. I know why I think it’s good, but I want to hear from you what your experience has been working with people for probably more than the last 4 years and probably hundreds of clients. Why is that longer time frame really helpful for people?
Christine Hronec: I think for several factors. I think one of the most important is it gives people time to acclimate the changes to their lifestyle, and really get all the gears in line and get some momentum going. Because the beginning stages can be really tricky for some people. Some people may see very rapid weight loss in the beginning; others it may take a little while for them to get used to it. I think the types of approaches that I would have people do are things they wouldn’t naturally try to do on their own, so there’s just a big lifestyle adjustment piece that I see people go through.
Now, some people they’re great, they’ll do whatever you say and they’ll follow it through line by line, but there’s a lot of people that struggle with change. Change is hard for people, and I think by giving yourself more time we can see how your body responds to different foods, different macro levels, and then make tweaks and changes. Because, honestly, like you said, 30 days just isn’t enough time. This is meant to be a lifestyle change; this is not a quick fix, this is about how your body responds and helping people create habits and looking at food and training in a way they can actually sustain for life, not just for a short period in their life.
Diane Sanfilippo: I think that was probably the biggest thing that helped me. The two times in the last 5 years that I fluctuated in my body fat levels or my weight; the first was, yeah, it was about 5 or 6 years ago, and it was before I started doing Crossfit or right at the same time, and I started doing paleo, did not lose any body fat, but I learned about low carb and keto stuff. And the person who told me about was a trainer who is a friend of mine still, and he said to even get started it’s going to be initially a minimum of 4-6 weeks of starting to eat lower carb and actually get into ketosis. Which of course, we know it can happen faster for a lot of people but literally by him saying it’s going to take this long, it changed everything about the way that I focused on it. Because it was like, this isn’t going to be a quick fix, this isn’t going to happen overnight, you have to know that you’re ready to commit to it.
I actually think, you guys; yeah, I have a 21-day program, a lot of you guys do a 30-day paleo challenge, you do a challenge at your gym for 30 days, and if those don’t seem to work for you, if you don’t seem to have the changes you want, if you go right back into your old ways of eating, if you go right off track at the end of it, hear what we’re saying about something that’s a much longer time frame. Something like 12 weeks; you guys, 12 weeks actually sounds easier than 3 months, for some reason.
Christine Hronec: {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: That higher number, for some reason, sounds easier. But 12 weeks, Christine’s right. You can’t help but make things a lifestyle. What I have gained from doing this for 12 weeks; and we’re not saying this like, everyone has to do a 12-week plan. It’s not about that; it’s the mindset that, especially women. We just want things to be a quick fix because we’re so tired of something. And when we’re ready, we want our body to also be ready and responsive as quickly as we feel like it should be. But the truth is, expecting massive change in a month when you’ve been doing something a certain way for a year, 5 years, 10 years. It’s unrealistic, and I think it’s kind of an unhealthy expectation. Because as much as you can start to break a lot of the habits that you had when it comes to food choices in that short amount of time; I definitely think, Christine you had the first 3 weeks of my plan, it was no off plan meals.
Christine Hronec: Correct.
Diane Sanfilippo: Everything was on track for those first 3 weeks. And I have to tell you; it was hard for the first week or two. By the third week, I was like; I can see why. Because I don’t actually even want the things that the first weekend came up, the second weekend came up that I was like; oh, I wish I could have that gluten free banana bread! The first couple of weeks, the people who watched me every day on Periscope, they’re like, “you’re not even talking about that banana bread anymore.” Because I really, I did start to crave the foods I was eating. And even now, I feel like it’s changed so much about just the way I even think about food.
So, I just think you guys all need to hear that as you’re thinking about how to change your nutrition to stop thinking about the really short term. Stop thinking about 21 days or 30 day or even 60 days; start thinking 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, a year. Because that’s really where that lifestyle change happens.
I cannot believe I’m at the gym at 7 o’clock in the morning these days, and the days I don’t do it, I’m like; I miss it. It’s weird! {laughs}
Christine Hronec: Here’s the thing that I tell people, which goes hand in hand with exactly what you’re saying. If you don’t invest the time in yourself to really figure it out and mange and learn how; some people are so used to using food to cope and all these different things. If you don’t invest the energy in yourself to do this the right way for a real lifestyle change, you will be losing that same 25 pounds you’re entire life. You’ll try every diet under the sun, you’ll try again and again, year after year, but you’re going to be in a rut no matter what. It’s just a matter of what end of the cycle you’re on.
So it’s 100% worth it, whatever approach you take, to just set a realistic expectation that you know what, this is going to take time. But if I really, really, really want to maintain this type of physique for life, this is just what’s going to happen. Or you’re going to drive yourself crazy bouncing back and forth your whole life. That’s just what’s going to happen.
Diane Sanfilippo: Absolutely, I think that’s, it’s so spot on and I think what I’ve seen from a lot of the women who are doing plans now. And it’s not just women doing them, but it is a huge number; that a lot of them have this weight lifted off of their shoulders just at the idea that this is going to take some time. They’re having great success in the short term too, but giving ourselves that freedom to realize; stop with the expectations that are so unrealistic, you know?
Christine Hronec: I agree.
Diane Sanfilippo: And this is not about; you work with bikini competitors, and a lot of them, and even like yourself I know, with your own physique, you can make really good changes within 30 days because you’re living teetering much closer to your goal kind of at a consistent place all the time, and a lot of those competitors might be there, where a 30-day or a 6-week thing is super effective for them. Most of us are not that person. Most of us aren’t living in that place, or we’re not there all the time, at least when we start out. At least when we find something that we’re like; ok, let me try this thing, see what I can learn from this.
And you guys; learning about this and learning, even Christine saying 40% of your calories from carbs; even hearing that, you don’t have to hear that and think; “well now that’s the answer.” That’s the starting point. That’s for you to say, ok let me try that. Let me see that first of all I don’t die eating that way.
Christine Hronec: {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: I may not just start to gain weight eating that way, because that means the rest of your breakdown also has to be adjusted, right?
Christine Hronec: Yes.
8. A little bit on fat and protein balance [44:15]
Diane Sanfilippo: One of the things that I’ve done that’s been, it was very challenging at first and actually is totally not challenging now is lowering my fat intake. So I don’t know if you want to talk a little bit about that, Christine, talking about the balance of, even though this is a mostly carb talk, let’s talk a little bit about the balance of what happens with protein and fat in the rest of the day, because I’m sure you’re seeing a lot of the women coming in who I’ve probably referred to you were eating a lot more fat, a lot less protein than you probably want them to eat, and even less carb. So why do you think that happens, and what is it that this shift does to help us feel more satiated all day and help us reach our goals? Even though it’s blowing people’s minds that we’re eating carbs and losing body fat.
Christine Hronec: I think it has to do with supporting lean muscle mass, because like you were saying, metabolism is real and having an appropriate amount of protein and an appropriate amount of carbs to release insulin to support a muscle growth is going to be so essential to tapping into fat loss. It’s very straight forward; I’ve seen it again and again and again, so many people are not taking in enough protein, or just taking in a level of fat that’s too high based on their activity level as well as what their specific physique goals are.
Going a little bit higher in fat, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you have a specific physique goal in mind, those things are not necessarily going to accomplish it if that and you’re activity are not all in alignment. There are several approaches; this is not a one size fits most. But it has to be a very fine balance; if someone absolutely insisted that they eat a certain amount of one; like fat for instance. They want to have 100 grams per day; that can certain be accomplished, and you can certainly have a certain look with that. But another thing will have to change. So the activity level will have to change. There are so many variables, but if you want to tweak one, you’re going to have to compromise with another.
But the main thing that it affects is essentially the muscle building hormone; you’re supporting your body’s ability to have lean muscle mass, because when you have a high protein diet, and we’re not getting into protein today, but a high protein diet gives your body a positive nitrogen balance. Protein is the only macro that has nitrogen. Positive nitrogen balance forces your body to use fat for fuel, so those things are actually real. Those pathways for how fat is removed from your body, and we can get into a whole nother talk on that another time, but those scientific principals are real. {laughs} They’re not made up. It’s just how the body works.
Diane Sanfilippo: I think that is actually a really good conversation to have another day, where we talk about the importance of protein and the role of protein in the diet. Naturally, most people who have certain goals of body fat loss, especially women, are not eating as much protein as they might need for those goals. It’s not that we all need 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or even a gram or a gram and a half. It’s not that everyone needs this much to just be a healthy individual; it’s, if you have this goal, here’s a good way to eat to support that goal. {laughs}
I can tell you guys, this is way more protein than I was eating before. Maybe not way more, but considerably more. But it’s supporting my goals, and I think that it’s just something that we maybe don’t want to pay attention to. What about also the satiety factor of the different balance of macronutrients? One thing we got away from when we started moving away from carbs for energy, especially the junky bad carbs, those are the easier ones for people to grab, just eating really junky bagels and Poptarts and whatever pastries, and frappuccinos and all the things that carry tons of carbs that would leave people hungry in a couple of hours, but kind of for the wrong reasons. You have us eating every few hours, but I’m not getting hangry.
Christine Hronec: Mm-hmm.
Diane Sanfilippo: It’s not the same; I’m like, ok, I’m hungry again. But it’s not, I crashed and I had that blood sugar crash to where I’m hangry and freaking out. If that’s happened to me in the last 12 weeks, it’s because I really waited way longer than I should have based on after eating a meal that was not that big to begin with. I know that it happens because of the choices I made, not following along as I should.
So we’ve been teaching people eat more fat. We’ve been saying eat more fat and more protein to have that satiety longer; but what is it about these different balance of macros that even eating more carbs and less fat, that’s still satiating. Is it because of the protein; is it both? Is it kind of the balance of everything? What is it that’s helping? I feel like I’m shocked at how not hungry I’ve been.
Christine Hronec: Yeah, it’s going to depend; this kind of goes back to the just eat real food concept where; well, protein of all the macros, protein is going to have the highest effect on satiety than fat, than carbs, and it’s very effective in that. But when it comes to the carbs, fiber rich foods are very satiating. Things that have whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds. These types of things; having a certain amount of fiber in your body. Fiber is a certain type of carbohydrate that can help increase satiety more than starches or sugars.
So the quality of the food that you’re eating is going to have a huge difference. So this is why moving away from isolated compounds, even though it’s still technically a carb, it does make a difference on things like just your overall well being, your satiety. It’s not about eating a bunch of muffins, even though it’s the same amount of carbs in donuts, but they don’t contain any fiber. So, researches have been finding that people who eat more fiber tend to have lower body weights than those who consume low fiber diets. Part of it has to do with fiber; a big piece of it is protein. And it’s just a matter of sticking to real whole foods to support that.
9. Concerning pregnancy and breastfeeding [51:02]
Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so we have one area of questions that I wanted to address briefly, because we did have a bunch of questions on it, and I’m just going to throw you guys some notes that Liz gave us, because a lot of you; most of the questions we got, you guys, these were all submitted over on Instagram, so if you’re not following Balanced Bites podcast on Instagram, go follow there because we post sometimes a week, sometimes a couple of weeks ahead of time a teaser of a topic that we’re going to address on an upcoming episode when we address it. It’s always a little up in the air, just depending on what we’re juggling.
But a lot of you ladies were asking about carbs and pregnancy or breastfeeding, and the overarching note that I have from Liz, which this is something I’ve heard from pretty much every practitioner under the sun who has talked about this. You guys are concerned about losing the baby weight; people are concerned about milk supply disappearing when they’re going a little bit lower carb. People are also concerned; let me see what the other one was; just body composition in general.
And based on everything we’ve talked about today, hopefully you all are hearing that eating the carbs is not the singular thing that’s going to make that body fat loss be the struggle. Liz has got the note for all of you guys, “Eat all the carbs. Especially fruit, it’s high in potassium, which you’re body really needs to process the sugar.” Commonly people think of fruit as a dessert, but she wants you guys to know that two to three pieces a day of fruit is not too much, between meals, as a snack is fine. With your meal, whatever you’re going to do with it.
I think even, you know, getting this kind of note from Christine on it of maybe looking at the percentage that you’re eating. I don’t look at weighing or measuring as a reason or a means by which to limit foods. I look at it as information; I look at it as a way to know what’s happening. Because you guys, if you don’t know what’s happening, how can you change it? Right? That’s the reality. If you’re in denial about how much fat you’re taking in, versus carb, versus protein, if you don’t know what’s happening, how can you consciously change it? Of course, you can make different choices and put different things on your plate.
But look; if you have a tendency to limit food, to restrict, to have issues around eating disorders, this is not who I’m talking to right now. I’m talking to the woman who really feels like this information could be helpful, and knowing how to build your plate differently and doing that consistently over periods of time; I have readjusted how I build my plate these days and it’s working because it’s taking into account my entire lifestyle right now. So women, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you have to remember that the thing that worked for you in the past was based on you not being pregnant at the time.
Christine Hronec: {laughs}
Diane Sanfilippo: Based on a totally different set of circumstances, and I really do think. You guys, I witnessed this with Liz, quite honestly, it was not her number one goal; lose the baby weight. You guys all heard her talk about this on past episodes, but I saw her probably 8 months after she had the baby, something like that I think it was. She pretty much looked the same as she did before she had the baby, and I’m not saying that to be like, “Oh, she has some secret answer for everyone.” But I know her focus was on nourishing her body in the right way and paying attention to it and not just eating all the food all the time. Liz is definitely not a live to eat person. She loves food, but she’s not like how I am, where {laughs} I mean, I’ll just eat everything that’s in front of me. She has a better balance, I think naturally, and doesn’t need to always count things; right. She just knows naturally eating more carbs made her feel better, her milk supply has been good, all of that has been fine.
So ladies, keep that in mind. If you want to enter what you’re doing now into a calculator and see what’s happening. Maybe you’re eating only 25 or 30% of your calories from carbs; maybe getting it up to that 40, maybe getting it up to 50% would help. Maybe looking at the fat intake, and adjusting it a little. The problem is, that’s hard to do once you’ve been eating more fat. It feels like {laughs} unfun and unfair to pull that fat out, but you need to adjust. And I’ll tell you what, you guys; for every little bit of fat you might scale back on just a tiny bit, you get twice as much in carbs. {laughs} because we’re getting a lot more calories from the fat than we are from every gram of carb.
So, you can rebalance things, you can still be eating a fair amount of fat, just not maybe as much as you’ve been eating, and just adjust it. You have to adjust it and see what’s going on.
We did get one question; she was saying, I’m not necessarily paleo, I’m eating some gluten free grains, tried to cut it and milk supply decreased. Don’t worry about cutting; eat the ones that make you feel good. Get some organic white rice, organic polenta. Try and get the high quality stuff if you can. I’ve been doing steel cut oatmeal; I feel good eating that. There have been times where my body is just feeling tired and depleted, and I’m like, I need to eat a bowl of steel cut oats, and I literally feel like, holy cow, my body wanted that so badly and it feels really, really good. It’s just going to depend on your situation. Ladies, just cut yourself a break here. But own it, be honest with yourself about what’s happening. Enter it in somewhere.
Christine, you guys…
Christine Hronec: Yeah.
Diane Sanfilippo: A lot of people use My Fitness Pal or some of those trackers; just see. Write down what you’re eating. Measure it one day. You know what I mean? Measure it for two or three days and see what it is.
Christine Hronec: Yeah, I just wanted to reiterate that fact. Because, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. So if you don’t know what 40% carbs looks like for you; again, that’s a very broad brush stroke. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. So even if you don’t want to live this way; I’m not saying everybody needs to be entering everything in a fitness app or a macro app all day long. But for a short period, for a few days, it’s definitely worthwhile documenting it, seeing what those numbers add up to, and being honest and real, because I know so many people like to underestimate what they’re actually eating when they enter that data in there. I don’t know why people do it, but they do. But you can’t manage what you can’t measure, so if you are very serious about making real changes, start documenting it. See where you really are, because only once you put everything out there on the table and we look at it, you see what’s happening. Only then can you make improvements.
Diane Sanfilippo: Amen. That was something we talked about with Gretchen Rubin; “we manage what we monitor.” And I think you guys know this, in other aspects of your life. And most of you ladies are trying to manage your body weight by monitoring what happens when you step on the scale, and by simply stepping on the scale every day, you’re actually not doing something that’s changing what is on the scale. Getting on the scale doesn’t change what’s happening on the scale; you have to manage something else. Monitoring that body weight. Look, for some of you that may be something that is a compass, right? I know that when my body gets to a certain point, it’s almost like an awakening. It’s almost like; oh, I’ve been out of balance for a while now. I don’t even have to be on the scale to know it or see it. But that’s not the thing that we’re talking about {laughs} in terms of just looking at that.
10. Spacing carbs around workouts [58:35]
Diane Sanfilippo: The one other thing I wanted to touch on before we wrap up this episode, because I feel like we are, maybe we’ll need to talk about this in some other context and talking about the role of protein, the role of fat, and how we can look at adjusting some of that is; carbs and exercise, the timing of it, the amount. Let’s just talk about that for a few minutes before we wrap up this episode, because I know that’s a huge question. How do we approach that? Where do we start from? Do we think about pre-workout, post workout? What’s the basics for that?
Christine Hronec: So, it depends on what type of training you’re doing. If you’re doing resistance training of any sort, there is a post workout window where you are uniquely insulin sensitive, and that window is where carb intake can really help partition muscle growth. And it’s really important to replenish your glycogen during that time because in any weight training workout; let’s say you’re doing, I don’t know ,even 15-30 minutes of resistance training, you’re doing anywhere from 6 to 20 sets of resistance training, no matter what it is. Your stored glycogen goes down as much as 40% during that time, and it absolutely needs to be replenished if you want to recover and not feel like garbage and weak and lethargic and starving after your workout.
So it’s really important to get some good post workout nutrition, and getting some carbs in addition to protein post workout. Most people are pretty familiar with the anabolic window for protein post workout, but carbs are equally important, depending on your goals, but in general they are very important.
Diane Sanfilippo: So, I know we have pretty much finished our full time for today, but what’s; if we’re going to tell people really quickly a gram amount to use incrementally post workout; 15 grams of carbs, 30 grams of carbs; what’s amount they can start with as, let me test this. Let me see how I feel doing this, how does this work for me. What’s just a number and some kind of increment that people can start to work from? Because even though it does depend on different people; we have to measure and track it and see how that works for us, but what do you usually give people as something to start with?
Christine Hronec: A ballpark I’d say is around 1 piece of fruit, which we’re talking anywhere from 25 to 30 grams of carbs. It’s a good starting place.
Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so that’s a good point for you guys; like a banana. Kind of a good gauge.
Christine Hronec: Yeah, or an apple.
Diane Sanfilippo: An apple. Something to just start with, see how you feel replenishing with that, go from there. Good points.
You guys, we have crushed an hour, {laughs} so we will probably do a part 2 to this and maybe talk about more specific questions that came in, now that we have the background on it and all this stuff that you guys can have the foundation from, so that’s where we’re going to wrap up this episode. Christine, thank you so much! {Laughs}
Christine Hronec: Yeah, thank you, it was a pleasure.
Diane Sanfilippo: It was awesome. So that’s it for this week. You can me, Diane, at and Liz at You can fine Christine at Don’t forget to join our email lists for free goodies and updates you don’t find anywhere else on our websites or hear about on the podcast even. And while you’re on the internet, please leave us a review in iTunes. We’ll see you next week.

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