What do Jessica Alba, Molly Sims, and Chelsea Handler all have in common? A very low key, results driven diet thanks to holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque who created her system, the Fab Four, to help quell underlying anxiety about following a quote-unquote "healthy diet." LeVeque uses food to balance hormones so you aren't constantly, "craving carbs and reaching for your next snack." Instead, her key to wellness, and weight loss centers around balance. Her system of protein, fat, fiber, and greens makes counting calories or adhering to strict diets a way of the past. Here, the foodie extraordinaire breaks down why eating less meals is better, and what to eat when you do.
Why is “eat to feel full, not to get by” your mantra?
Eating to get by always seems to backfire because you aren't turning off hunger you're simply delaying it. It's compounded when you count calories because you prioritize low calorie per gram options like carbohydrates and cut out (hunger calming) nutrients like fat. When you reach for a green juice, RX bar or Lara bar, it's important to understand these snacks are comprised of—in this case, all carbohydrates digesting into blood sugar. As the sugar enters your bloodstream, your pancreas quickly releases the hormone insulin to bring the blood sugar down, which is your blood sugar crash, and 90-120 minutes later the crash has you craving carbohydrates and reaching for your next snack. I would honestly rather have my clients intermittently fast than starting their day on that type of a blood sugar roller coaster, that has them constantly snacking. The latest endocrine science tells us that eating every three or four hours actually sets us up for not only exhaustion and premature aging, but also less fat burning. Why? When you eat, you begin the six-hour process of digestion, which requires your body to expend a lot of time and energy to break down food into molecules that can be absorbed and utilized. This process includes "the storage hormone" insulin that can last in the bloodstream for 6 to 8 hours post-release preventing fat breakdown.
What is the premise behind the "Fab Four?"
I encourage my clients to load up on what I call the Fab Four at every meal: protein, fat, fiber, and greens. Fab Four meals turn off hunger hormones, squelch inflammation, and provide the body with the perfect complete meal of essential nutrients. The Fab Four is the light structure for eating healthy without “eat" or "do not eat" lists. Simply look at your plate and ask yourself, "Do I have all four components?" Protein ups collagen, muscle tone, and metabolism; fat benefits hormones, skin, and cellular health; fiber promotes gut microbiome proliferation and detoxification; and greens (or veggies deep in color) provide cancer and inflammation-fighting phytonutrients. This combination is a fail safe for my clients to stop fighting not to eat and instead mix their nutrients and easily go 4-6 hours without thinking of food or snacking on processed foods.
You mentioned that you used to obsess about food. How did you find balance in eating well without it running your life?
Calories and diets expect us to be non-emotional humans. The minute I stopped trying to live by strict rule sand simply used light, science-driven structure to stay on course, I was no longer chained to an unsustainable or overly restrictive diet. It’s about learning simple tips and tricks to eat to satiety and naturally balance your hunger hormones, not fighting not to eat. It’s about ditching the food drama. No more aggressive cleanses; no more frustrating do-not-eat lists; no more yo-yo inducing fad diets. I wasn't coming home from a bachelorette in Cabo into a juice cleanse. I finally understood how to have my cake and eat it too!
What’s the difference between hunger and appetite? How do you balance your hunger hormones with food?
We’re driven to eat by hunger, a physiological impulse hard-wired into our brains and bodies. Hunger is regulated in the brain by the hypothalamus, which signals when the body is satiated and when it needs more food to reach that state. When we consume foods that are a healthy balance of essential fatty acids, amino acids, fibrous vegetables, and greens, our brains tell our bodies that we are sated and we stop eating. Our bodies then begin the multi-hour process of digestion and absorption. You have eight hunger-related hormones that scream at you to eat, all regulated by different actions or specific foods. One of the most empowering, liberating things about the Fab Four is that together they naturally balance all eight hunger-related hormones. And not just for an hour. If these food sources are clean and nutrient-dense, without added ingredients that the body doesn’t need, our bodies naturally use up the energy supplied by the food through our daily physical and mental activities and sleep. However, if we consume addictive foods that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates, then our brain signals to our body that it is still hungry and we are driven to eat more food, this is food driven appetite. These processed foods release loads of the reward hormone dopamine in our brain making them highly addictive and craving-worthy when we are stressed, too.
Why shouldn’t we be afraid of fat?
High-quality fats support our immune system, help our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, K and E, improve cognitive function, build cell membranes and help balance hormones, it really is the key to anti-aging. Not to mention, it's the only macronutrient that never causes the release of the fat storage hormone insulin.
What are some meal examples that would be Fab Four approved?
Bone broth vegetable soup with avocado and herbs, chicken cauliflower rice bowls, spicy salmon or shrimp lettuce cup tacos, chopped salad with hard boiled eggs or a veggie omlette.
What’s the ultimate breakfast to avoid a mid-afternoon crash?
The ultimate breakfast is the Fab Four Smoothie. I created the Fab Four Smoothie formula to help my clients learn how to build a low sugar meal replacement smoothie. This is very different from the many juice shops, grocery smoothie bars and smoothie recipes online, which can be loaded with sugar—specifically fructose sugar from excess fruit, agave, dates, and juice. This one limits fruit and instead helps you fill up on protein, fat, and fiber which naturally helps to elongate and balance your blood sugar curve. This combination keeps you from crashing before lunch and sabotaging your healthy eating efforts.
What’s your stance on caffeine?
I have no problem with caffeine in moderation, preferably only in the morning. I just ask my clients to buy organic tea or coffee. And if they are fighting adrenal fatigue, I pull clients off caffeine.
How do we eat our way to clean, glowing skin?
Healthy skin requires hydrating Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins for collagen and elastin production and trace minerals for repair, protection, and cell regeneration. At Be Well, helping my clients maintain red carpet ready skin is a science that requires them to incorporate leafy greens and fiber to help proliferate healthy gut bacteria and wild fish rich in omega 3s, vitamin D and B vitamins; sardines are my favorite.