Functional medicine nutritionist Dana James is an essential resource to some of the tautest bodies around. (Margot Robbie, for starters!) Naturally, we demanded answers to our most pressing conundrum du moment — how can we whip ourselves into prime summer shape?
We had the longest NYC winter on record or something. We ate too many fries, and it was a mistake. How can we redeem ourselves?
If you’re trying to lose weight, come off all dairy and gluten as a starting point. Those foods are often inflammatory within the body, and inflammation inhibits the breakdown of body fat. Unless you’re certain that you’re not sensitive to dairy or gluten, you should come off them for four weeks.
So, what are we eating? Let’s start with breakfast…
Protein, because it stimulates the breakdown of body fat. I recommend basic smoothies—a cup of nut milk, a cup of frozen fruit, and two tablespoons of plant-based protein powder. No other additions, unless they’re noncaloric superfoods! But only make them at home, because if you buy them, they’re going to be loaded with too much fat, which will inhibit the weight loss. No chia, flax, almond butter, hemp seed, or anything like that, because you don’t need to add to the caloric content.
What are these noncaloric superfoods you speak of?
Ashwagandha, which works on the stress response; Rhodiola, which helps with mental acuity; and a greens or a reds powder is fine.
What’s your vision for lunch and dinner?
They should look the same. For ease, think of six ingredients. Start with half a plate of vegetables; three different types of them is great. Then one quarter of the plate should be protein, and the remainder is split between carbs and fat. It’s true that you can’t spot-train fat, but you can eat in the way that removes fat in those challenging areas by changing the hormones. This is where my archetypes come into play!
How does exercise factor in to weight loss?
Depends on how fast you want to lose. If you’ve got four weeks to lose the weight, then exercise five days a week for 45 minutes to an hour. You use the diet to strip down body fat, and you use the exercise to sculpt muscles. When you’re eating in a way that gets the body fat down, you don’t need to do really intense training classes or run for an hour and a half. You
can take a Pilates or dance class that makes the muscles pop, so the body overall looks more
beautiful and toned.
How does your summer diet differ from what you eat during the winter?
I eat with the seasons. In winter, I typically eat two cooked meals; in summer, I tend to eat more raw foods. In the transitional seasons of fall and spring, one is cooked, and the other is raw. In summer, when I’m shopping from farmer’s markets, I love to have grilled fish and salads with lots of fresh herbs. When it’s cold, my diet includes more broths and soups. For breakfast in June, who doesn’t want to have an amazing berry smoothie? But in the middle of December, do you still want that? Hell, no—I want eggs! [Laughs]
What should we be drinking?
Lots of filtered water! Counter your alcohol with exercise. If you’re downing two glasses of rosé every day, cut the carbs and get yourself to the gym.
On the alcohol front, what can we drink?
I’m a huge fan of tequila.
[Laughs] Tequila and mezcal are your best choice, because of the impurities in wine. Your second choice is an organic or biodynamic wine.
One glass, right? Maybe two?
Not more than that! [Laughs]
The Hamptons lifestyle can be both punishing and indulgent. Barry’s Bootcamp in the morning, Bostwick’s for lunch…
Most of my clients come see me in April to get leaner, and then they go out to the Hamptons. At best, they maintain their weight, and at worst, they gain 10 pounds. Outside of the Hamptons, that doesn’t exist—the Hamptons promote a certain type of eating and drinking. By the end of the summer, most people who go to the Hamptons have gained weight, and that’s very specific to the area’s demographic.
Why does this happen?
New Yorkers relish summer to such an extent that we almost go on a bingefest! I split my time between New York and L.A., and it’s more balanced there. People want to look good all year round, because nine months out of the year there, it’s easy to be in a bikini.
When you’re in the Hamptons, where do you eat?
I love The Crow’s Nest!
You’re really into fresh herbs. Why?
They increase liver detoxification, so they’re going to help with that alcohol you’re drinking! [Laughs]
Are we going to live in such austerity forever?
One of the biggest fallacies out there is that in order to maintain weight loss, you need to continue eating in a certain way. Well, that’s crap! Purely from a mathematical perspective, when you’re planning on losing weight, you need to eat a smaller amount of food. Once you get to your goal, you can increase the amount of food you’re eating in order to maintain your weight. Sometimes, someone can go from a 1,100-calorie diet when they’re losing weight up to a 1,600-calorie diet. That’s a massive difference! You can go ahead and have that pasta and not gain any weight. The most important thing is that you change your perception of how you use food. If you’re a reward or comfort eater, and you continue to do that, you’ll gain the weight back. The behaviors need to be consistently altered for you to see success in the long-term.
Check out the full issue of The Daily Summer here for more great stories.
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