Author Archives: Ashley Seei

About Ashley Seei

Nurse Practitioner Ashley is a board certified Nurse Practitioner who is excited to follow her passion back into women’s health. She has five years of experience as a Nurse Practitioner in family medicine, as well as, five years of bedside experience in high risk labor and delivery. Ashley is a native of Illinois, but moved to Arizona in 2015 to accelerate her nursing career. She achieved her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa where she also played volleyball. While working as a nurse in 2017 at Banner University Medical Center, she completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing at Chamberlain College of Nursing. Read More About Ashley Seei

Woman planning her low-carb diet

The Low-Carb Vegetarian: Tips and Recipes

This entry was posted in Fitness and Nutrition and tagged , , on by .
Low-carb diets have become a popular way to lose weight, and they have other health benefits as well, such as improving cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, and lowering blood pressure.

Consequently, a low-carb diet is an important way for people with certain health issues such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and some neurological disorders to improve their health and quality of life.

Aside from the science behind low-carb diets, one reason many people have success losing weight while eating a diet that is void of carbohydrates is that there are no calories to count or hunger pangs to endure. For this reason, many people report that low-carb eating doesn’t feel like they are dieting. However, this has led to a widespread belief that low-carb diets must consist of indulgent meats and cheeses or even confusion regarding which foods can be part of a low-carb plan.

Key among the groups curious about low-carb eating are vegetarians and vegans. Because low-carb diets are often heavy on meat, many people mistakenly think vegetarians can’t do low-carb diets. However, that is simply not the case – there is such a thing as a low-carb vegetarian diet.

How to Eat Less Carbs as a Vegetarian or Vegan

Planning Vegetarian Meals

There are some simple ways you can transition to a low-carb diet, even if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Below are some ways to minimize carbs in your diet and some recipes to get you started.

Make the Swap

One of the easiest ways for vegetarians looking to cut down on carbs in their diet is to simply make a conscious effort to swap carb-heavy foods out for non-carb foods. The key here is mindset: don’t think of it as eating less or going without. Rather, just replace the starches and sugars you eat with vegetables, nuts, and fats.

If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian (you eat dairy products and eggs but don’t eat meat or fish), many dairy products are low-carb, as are eggs. Keep an eye out for dairy products without added sugar to incorporate into your diet.

Here are some tips for replacing carbs with dairy and egg products for vegetarians:

  • Choose omega-3-enriched, pastured, or free-range eggs when possible.
  • Eat grass-fed butter, which simply means the butter is made from the milk of grass-fed cows.
  • When eating yogurt or kefir, eat those with live cultures, such as probiotics, and opt for the full-fat,
    unsweetened products.
  • Cheese is a great way to add flavor to low-carb foods, and it is high in nutrients.

If you are a vegan and do not eat any food derived from animals, including dairy and eggs, you’ll find there are many low-carb plants and foods that are great substitutes for carbs in your diet. Please note that these are also great for vegetarians as well. Not only are these low-carb foods, but some of them are high in protein and fat, which makes them a filling option for any meatless diet.

  • Vegetables are an obvious choice because many of them have very few carbs, including onions, cauliflower, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, and broccoli.
  • Nuts and seeds are a smart choice for low-carb diets because not only are they low in carbs, they are also high in good fat and protein. Some great options are walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and macadamia nuts.
  • Chia seeds are an especially great choice because most of the carbs in chia seeds are derived from fiber, making them a good source of protein and fat.
  • Fruits, especially berries like blueberries and strawberries, can be incorporated into a low-carb diet. Other fruits should be enjoyed in moderation because there are some carbs in most fruits.
  • Fatty fruits like avocados offer high fat content with few carbs.
  • Legumes such as peas and green beans are low in carbs. While other beans like pinto beans and chickpeas are higher in carbs, they include a lot of fiber and protein and can be eaten in moderation as part of a low-carb diet.
  • Healthy fatty oils like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil can be low in carbs.
  • Soy foods like tempeh is protein-rich with low carbs.
  • Dark chocolate that has a high cocoa content, like 70-85% or more, is a low-carb/high-fat option.

So, What Is the Best Low-Carb Vegetarian Food?

A vegetarian diet should include a carefully planned variety of foods that are packed with nutrients, especially protein since meat is the primary supplier of protein in non-vegetarian diets. This is even more true for vegans. So, while one food cannot supply everything we need to sustain a healthy lifestyle, soy is often considered the best low-carb source of protein and fat when consumed in foods like tempeh.

Solidify Your Concept of Low-Carb

So, are vegetarian meals high in carbs? The answer is that they can be.

While there is no exact number or precise ratio that determines a food or diet to be “low-carb,” creating a meal plan based on solid, low-carb suggestions limits your carb intake and, thus, gives you the healthy benefits of eating low-carb without the unhealthy trade-off. Finding your personal balance may take some experimenting, but you’ll eventually find a happy medium that yields the health outcome and results you’re aiming for.

To start off, you can follow the recommendations for the average daily carb intake.

  • Low – Consuming as little as 20-50 grams of carbs per day can produce weight loss results fairly quickly because it will put the body into ketosis, the metabolic state of high energy consumption, which is the foundation of the keto diet. This is a great range for vegetarians with a weight loss goal, but it is not a practical range for vegans.
  • Low-Medium – Consuming 50 to 100 grams of carbs per day is a mid-range carb-limiting diet that will also lead to weight loss, especially if you take care to exercise.
  • Medium – 100-150 grams of carbs per day is still a good range for successful weight loss, especially with lots of exercise. Note that vegans should aim for the 100-150-gram range to ensure the body has enough food and nutrient intake to produce adequate energy.

Aim for Veggie-Friendly and Low-Carb Meal Plans

You can use pre-created meal plans to get a good idea regarding how to meld low-carb and vegetarian diets.

An ideal menu for a low-carb vegetarian (not vegan) diet would be similar to the following sample meal plan:

  • Breakfast: Olive-oil-fried eggs and vegetables OR full-fat yogurt with berries
  • Lunch: Carrots and cucumbers dipped in hummus with some nuts on the side OR leafy greens, hard-boiled eggs, and blueberries tossed in olive oil
  • Dinner: Chili beans, cheese, sour cream, and salsa OR eggplant moussaka

A sample meal plan for vegans:

  • Breakfast: Avocado toast with tomatoes OR full-fat coconut yogurt with nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Lunch: Large, leafy green salad with tempeh avocado, non-starch vegetables, vegan cheese, and pumpkin seeds OR coconut and cauliflower soup
  • Dinner: Shirataki noodles with vegan alfredo sauce and mushrooms OR vegan walnut chili with sliced avocado and vegan cheese

Low-Carb Vegetarian Recipes

If you’re inspired to try a low-carb diet, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo flavor. Fill out your meal plan with our favorite two recipes, sure to fill you up and taste great, too.

Broccoli Fried Rice

Vegetarian Broccoli Fried Rice

This fresh take on classic fried rice creates a refreshing bed of chopped broccoli on which you can add anything your heart desires, from chopped nuts, sauteed veggies, or scrambled or boiled eggs if you’re not vegan. Depending on the add-ins you opt for, this could be a side or the main entree. Then, keep leftovers in the fridge for a quick heat-and-go lunch.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

To make this, you’ll need:

  • 6 c chopped broccoli, including stems
  • 2 t toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small red pepper sliced thinly
  • and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 c shredded carrots
  • 1/3 c peas
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 t fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 T tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 green onion, diced


  1. Blend broccoli in a food processor until it is similar in size and shape to rice (about 10-20 seconds).
  2. Add sesame oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add peppers, carrots, and peas, cooking the vegetables until softened (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add broccoli, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, mixing all the ingredients together.
  4. Once well combined, smash the mixture down with a spatula and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Then, flip it over and cook the other side for another 5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!


Grilled Cauliflower Steaks With Romesco Sauce

Vegetarian Grilled Cauliflower Steaks

If you’re a vegetarian, you’ve likely heard all the hype about cauliflower steaks – now is your chance to try this truly modern-day way to grill out. As a bonus, the Romesco sauce truly makes the dish.

Makes: 4 servings

To make this, you’ll need:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste

Sauce ingredients:

  • ¼ c slivered almonds
  • ½ large tomato on the vine, chopped
  • ½ c thinly sliced roasted red peppers, packed
  • ½ T fresh lemon juice
  • One t minced garlic
  • ¼ t sea salt
  • ¼ t ground cumin
  • Sliced parsley


  1. Remove leaves from the outside of the flower and cut the stem off completely so the flower is flat across the bottom.
  2. Hold the cauliflower on a cutting board, sitting flat on the base where the stem once was. Using a very sharp knife, cut down through the center of the cauliflower, making two-inch thick slices like you would slice bread.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  4. Mix oil, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl and brush the cauliflower steaks with half of the oil mixture.
  5. Cook on each side for 8 to 10 minutes, adding the rest of the mixture to the other side before flipping, making sure you have those deep grill marks. Steaks should be tender all the way through when pierced with a fork.

To make the Romesco sauce:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Spread almonds onto a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly golden; they can burn very quickly, so keep a close eye on them. Set aside.
  3. Place the half tomato into a food processor and process until smooth and completely broken down.
  4. Add all other ingredients listed for the sauce above and almonds to the food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
  5. Serve sauce atop the cauliflower steaks and garnish with parsley.
  6. Enjoy!


Learn More From Arizona Gynecology Consultants

Learning more vegetarian tips from Arizona Gynecology Consultants

Whether you’re looking to lose weight pre-surgery or are simply striving for a healthier lifestyle, eating a low-carb, vegetarian diet can get you there. Browse our blog for more tips on diet and nutrition as well as other low-carb recipe suggestions.

For more information about healthy weight loss and how eating healthier can improve your overall health, schedule a consultation with Arizona Gynecology Consultants.

Low-Carb Meal Prep Ideas for Busy Weekdays

Low-Carb Meal Prep Ideas for Busy Weekdays

This entry was posted in Fitness and Nutrition and tagged , on by .
Eating a healthy diet – especially one that requires attention to specific macronutrients – can seem almost impossible to manage in your day-to-day life.

Whether you have children, a heavy work schedule, or various other time-consuming stressors, your diet may eventually seem like the least of your concern.

Unfortunately, weight-related health problems continue to mount in this country, and many of them can be attributed to diets that ignore our true metabolic needs.

Worse, there are many misconceptions about attention to a healthy diet, including that it is expensive, time-consuming, and takes away all the flavor of life. It isn’t surprising that many people don’t feel they have time or mental resources to eat well – just as it can be hard to resist your favorite snacks or that extra piece of cake at the office meeting, it can be difficult to return home from a busy day and have to think about a healthy meal to create for dinner. With the pressure placed on us on a daily basis, it’s no wonder many people opt for a drive-through burger rather than a healthy home-cooked meal.

Fortunately, there is a way to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself on those busy weekdays: meal prep.

What Is Meal Prepping?

Meal prepping has become the way of the modern world. As people from all walks of life become busier and spend less time in the house, it becomes essential to find a way to cook food in the small window of time available between arriving home and activities, social gatherings, relaxing, and bedtime. Meal prepping can reduce the stress of figuring out what you are going to eat each day by pre-planning and creating meals ahead of time for the week.

meal prepping

Aside from time savings, the goal of meal prepping is also to help you eat a more nutritious diet. Instead of stopping by your local fast food joint on the way home, you’ll have a healthy meal ready and waiting. Plus, by monitoring portion sizes and reducing the use of carbohydrates, you can ensure you’re getting the essential nutrients you need without risking overconsumption.

In addition, despite what you may think, meal-prepping does not require an entire day of cooking/planning. Instead, meal-prepping can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

  1. Batch Cooking – Make a large portion of one meal and keep it frozen or refrigerate it for those extra busy work days.
  2. Ingredient Prep – If you have a recipe in mind for the week, buy and prep the ingredients ahead of time to reduce your time in the kitchen.
  3. Grab and Go Meals – Prepare individual portion-sized dishes that you can grab and go. This way, you are getting a regulated amount of nutrients every day.

Meal-Prepping Made Easy with These Low-Carb Recipes

Eating a low-carb diet can actually help your body lose weight because as your body adjusts to reduced carb intake, it will begin a process called dietary ketosis. Also considered a state of metabolic being, ketosis requires the body to create energy from fat instead of blood glucose. In this way, ketosis can potentially help you lose weight and suppress your appetite. Therefore as your body adjusts to this change, you may find yourself needing to eat less and less, causing you to shed the pounds.

This can be a scary change for any carb-loving person. Fortunately, with the help of some tasty recipes, enjoying a low-carb diet can be much more delicious than you’ve ever imagined. Preparing in advance can help make eating a healthy lunch or dinner a snap, even in the middle of a busy work week.

Suggested Reading: Metabolism and Weight Loss

Salmon Stuffed Avocados

Salmon Stuffed Avocados

If you are looking for a very quick, easy-to-make meal full of essential omega-3s, proteins, and fresh flavor, look no further than your pantry.

What You’ll Need:

  • Medium-sized mixing bowl
  • Sharp knife for chopping vegetables
  • Small mixing bowl


  • ½ c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ c diced celery
  • 2 T of fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 2 t mayonnaise
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • 2 5-oz cans of salmon
  • 2 avocados
  • Chopped chives for garnish


  1. Combine all ingredients except the two avocados in the mixing bowl. Mix until they are thoroughly combined.
  2. Cut the two avocados into equal halves.
  3. Remove the pits from both avocados and scoop out about one tablespoon of flesh from each half.
  4. Mash the avocado flesh and then combine the flesh with the salmon mixture in a medium-sized bowl.
  5. Scoop ¼ cup of the mixture into each avocado half, creating a small mound on top.
  6. Garnish with chives.
  7. Enjoy!

Garlic and Herb Shrimp on Spaghetti Squash

Garlic and Herb Shrimp on Spaghetti Squash

If you have a pasta craving, this is the perfect low-carb alternative. What makes it even better is that it can be almost entirely prepared in an electric pressure cooker, then portioned and refrigerated for you to enjoy throughout the work week.

What You’ll Need:

  • Electric pressure cooker
  • Microwave
  • Cooking mit
  • Mixing bowl


  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1lb raw, peeled, and deveined shrimp
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t dried basil
  • A couple of pinches of salt
  • A couple of pinches of pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Fresh parsley to garnish
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Warm your pressure cooker for 5-10 minutes (on the Instant Pot, use the sautee feature).
  2. While the pot is warming, poke holes along the middle of the squash with a fork.
  3. Soften the inside of the squash by microwaving it for five minutes.
  4. Cut squash in half (horizontally) and use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds.
  5. Drizzle the squash with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  6. Place the squash in the instant pot and securely close the lid.
  7. Set the pressure knob to sealing. Select “manual” and leave the squash in the pot for approximately seven minutes.
  8. Prepare the shrimp while waiting for the squash to cook. To do this, add them to a bowl and combine the spice mix, including the minced garlic. Once thoroughly combined, refrigerate the shrimp until cooking time.
  9. Once the seven minutes is up, use an oven mitt to release the pressure knob to venting. Wait till all the steam is released from the pot before removing the squash. Wipe out the pot.
  10. Now it’s time to cook the shrimp. To do so, select “saute” once again. Let the oil heat up first and then place the shrimp in the pot in a single layer. Cook the shrimp until opaque.
  11. Once the shrimp are ready, press cancel and remove them from the pot.
  12. Using a fork, shred the inside of the squash so it resembles spaghetti.
  13. Serve the squash and the shrimp together and garnish with parmesan and parsley.
  14. Enjoy!

Chicken Gyro Bowl

Chicken Gyro Bowl

If you’re a fan of Mediterranean food, you will want to check out this no-carb chicken keto bowl. Instead of utilizing a wrap or pita, the chicken gyro bowl combines all of your favorite ingredients in a bowl for lunch or dinner. It’s easy to change up this recipe, too – simply add your favorite veggies or eliminate ingredients you don’t like. Just remember to keep it low-carb!

What You’ll Need:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • One-gallon freezer bag
Ingredients for Chicken Marinade:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 T sour cream
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • ¾ t salt
  • ½ t pepper
Bowl Ingredients:

  • 24 oz of boneless chicken
  • ¼ c diced red onions
  • 2.5 c diced cucumber
  • 1 c diced tomatoes
  • 40 kalamata olives
  • 1 c feta cheese
  • 1 c Keto Tzatziki Sauce


  1. Combine all the chicken marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  2. Place chicken in the one-gallon freezer bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, seal the bag, and shake
  3. Refrigerate the chicken in the bag, allowing it to marinate for four hours
  4. For baked chicken, place in a glass baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Or, grill the chicken until cooked through.
  5. After the chicken is cooked all the way through, cut into thin slices
  6. Divide the veggies, cheese, chicken, and sauce between four bowls
  7. Enjoy or refrigerate for later

Mexican Lettuce Wraps

Mexican Lettuce Wraps

Mexican food is a favorite of people across the country. However, for those on low-carb diets, it may seem impossible to enjoy all your favorite Mexican cuisine. You can use lettuce to create a Mexican bowl or as a substitute for flour or corn tortillas..

What You’ll Need:

  • Large skillet
  • Whisk
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Strainer
  • Cutting knife


  • One head of iceberg lettuce or one package of romaine lettuce
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 lb of ground beef or turkey
  • ¼ t of salt
  • 5 T of your favorite salsa
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ t ground cumin
  • 1 c avocado (diced)
  • 1 c julienned jícama
  • ¼ c diced red onion


  1. Chop lettuce. You will need about 8 small leaves or 4 large leaves.
  2. Wash the lettuce and place into a strainer to remove excess water.
  3. Saute the meat in a pan with oil and salt for about 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. While the meat is cooking, whisk together salsa, vinegar, and cumin in a small bowl.
  5. When the meat is cooked thoroughly, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a mixing bowl.
  6. Combine the meat with the salsa mixture.
  7. Serve the meat in the lettuce leaves and top with diced avocado, onion, and jícama.
  8. Enjoy!

Coconut Curry on Cauliflower Rice

Coconut Curry on Cauliflower Rice

Indian cuisine is bursting with flavor and can be some of the healthiest food to enjoy when you are trying to cut back on calories. Though many dishes are typically served with rice and naan, it is very easy to substitute the carbs with carb-free cauliflower rice.

What You’ll Need:

  • Large cooking pot
  • Cutting knife
  • Mixing spoon


  • 4 c riced cauliflower (prepare this ahead of time or buy it pre-prepared)
  • 2 c cauliflower florets
  • 2 c broccoli florets
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 3 c butternut squash, cubed
  • Pepper as desired
  • Salt as desired
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 2 t ground turmeric
  • 2 cans (13.5 oz) coconut milk
  • 3 T green curry paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ c yellow onion, diced
  • ? c chicken broth
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil to taste


    1. Heat olive oil in a large pot.
    2. When oil is hot, add the cubed chicken. Season with your desired amount of salt and pepper and cook until the chicken begins to brown on both sides. Set aside once done cooking.
    3. Add garlic, onion, and chicken broth to the pot, stirring occasionally. Cook until onions become fragrant.
    4. Add the green curry paste evenly to the mixture and stir.
    5. Next, stir in the turmeric, coconut milk, chili powder, coriander, ginger, salt, and pepper
    6. Once completely combined, stir in the chicken, broccoli, red bell pepper, squash, and cauliflower florets. Wait for the mixture to boil.
    7. Reduce heat to low and cover with a lid. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables feel tender.
    8. Remove from heat and let cool.
    9. Portion into four servings with cauliflower rice at the bottom.
    10. Enjoy after cooking or refrigerate to eat throughout the week.

Carb-Free Antipasto Salad

Carb-Free Antipasto Salad

Antipasto is a traditional Italian first course, and is often served in the US as a salad with the addition of cold pasta. However, you can mix up this flavorful antipasto salad with a zero-carb substitute: seasoned cauliflower.

What You’ll Need:

  • Gallon sized bag
  • Cooking pot
  • Cutting knife
  • Small mixing bowl

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 4 cups chopped raw cauliflower
  • 1/3 lb salami (preferably Genoa), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 prosciutto, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 lb pepperoni, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 oz pepperoncinis, drained
  • 5 oz roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, 13.5 oz, drained and quartered
  • 3 oz black or Kalamata olives, pitted and drained
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 6-7 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Ingredients for Dressing:

  • 2 t lemon juice
  • ½ c red wine vinegar
  • ½ t pepper
  • 1 c olive oil
  • ¾ t salt
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 2 t dried oregano


  1. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Bring cauliflower florets to a boil in one inch of water or steam to desired tenderness.
  3. Drain cauliflower, pat dry, and pour into a freezer bag with half of the dressing.
  4. Let marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
  5. Before serving, toss all the remaining ingredients in the large mixing bowl with the cauliflower and pour in the remaining dressing.
  6. Stir and enjoy!

Weight Loss Help for Women

Many women struggle with a cycle of weight loss and weight gain that seems to be on repeat throughout their lives. It can be difficult to address this issue and even more challenging to achieve a body weight they are comfortable in. Fortunately, there is help and weight loss education for those who want to address their metabolic needs with a medical weight loss program.

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we are proud to offer a medically assisted weight loss program. Our knowledgeable team is dedicated to helping you identify a medical weight loss program that works for you and tailor it to your needs.

Weight Loss Program Education

Weight Loss Education Related to Our Program

This entry was posted in Fitness and Nutrition and tagged on by .

Weight goals don’t come to fruition without weight loss education. At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, our weight loss program is individualized to each patient’s unique metabolic needs, personal goals, and lifestyle obstacles. Each provider will guide you in discussing your weight loss challenges, previous modalities, hormones, nutrition, exercise, and each medical management option available.

A key component in being successful is sticking with a good nutritional plan, exercising, and sleep hygiene. Your provider will have a visit once a month to check vital signs, answer lifestyle questions, adjust nutritional needs, and even recheck labs to show how your body is responding to your daily efforts and accomplishments.

Weight Loss Education: Macronutrients and Calories

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the main types of macronutrients in food. All three provide energy (measured in calories), but the amount of energy in 1 gram differs. When looking to decrease the intake of daily calories to lose weight, we want to focus on eating complex carbohydrates and proteins.

Calories per gram in each macronutrient:

  • 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate or protein
  • 9 calories in a gram of fat

These nutrients also differ in how quickly they supply energy. Carbohydrates are the quickest, and fats are the slowest. If you eat a bag of chips, you may notice you are hungry again in one hour due to the quick metabolism of carbohydrates. Therefore, choosing a snack high in protein will keep you full longer and have less calories.

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are digested in the intestine, where they are broken down into their basic units:

  • Carbohydrates into sugars
  • Proteins into amino acids
  • Fats into fatty acids and glycerol

So, losing weight requires being in a calorie deficit!

What Is a Calorie?

A calorie is a unit of measurement that describes the amount of energy acquired from food and drinks. As noted above you see that fats hold higher calories when eaten. When we eat something, our bodies break it down and transform it into energy, which we use for activities like breathing, circulation, digestion, and movement. The quantity of energy required by everyone differs depending on activity level, age, gender, and metabolism.

What Is a Calorie Deficit?

A calorie deficit is achieved when the body burns more calories than it consumes through food and drink. When we eat less calories per day, the body will take from stored energy reserves such as fat tissue. As the body uses its fat stores for fuel, this can contribute to weight loss over time. When we overindulge on high calorie foods, we must burn these calories by physical activity to remain in a calorie deficit. The goal is to decrease caloric intake to 25% less than your total daily energy expenditure. Athletes need to eat calorie and protein dense meals as they are active for many hours each day. Everyone requires different needs based on lifestyle and calories burned by working or physical activity.

A deficit of 500 calories per day, which amounts to 3500 calories per week, should result in about one pound of weight loss per week. This basic equation is just with nutrition changes alone! Mathematically you can see that consistent calorie deficit is necessary for long-term weight loss.

Suggested Reading: Metabolism and Weight Loss

Eating Low-Calorie and Nutrient-Dense Foods

Have you noticed how colorful your food is each day? If your diet consists of many fats and carbohydrates your plate is likely to be white, beige, or brown in color. Make it a goal to eat colorful foods that provide vitamins and nutrients in each meal. Such foods are fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, nuts, and fish. Eating fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help you stay full for a long time, limiting your overall calorie intake.

Examples of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats

Limit your intake of high-calorie and low-nutrient foods and beverages such as sugary drinks, fried foods, and sweets. Processed foods and beverages tend to be high in simple carbohydrates, fats, and refined sugars. These foods hold zero vitamins or nutrients. Home cooked meals are encouraged in our program to limit the consumption of refined sugars, fried foods, or carbohydrate rich meals.

What Is Protein?

Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. They also strengthen our bones, muscles, cartilage and help cellular repair. Protein rich foods contain amino acids, B vitamins, selenium, choline, zinc, phosphorus, copper, vitamin D, A, and E vitamins.

Based on the National Institutes of Health, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of nutrients you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. This measurement is the minimum amount an individual needs to maintain health and cellular restoration.

To determine your daily protein intake, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36. For a woman who weighs 140 pounds and who is sedentary (does not exercise), that translates into 53 grams of protein a day. This is the minimum amount of protein required to meet the body’s needs and supports a healthy weight.

Examples of high protein foods:

  • chicken breast
  • tuna
  • tofu
  • cottage cheese
  • beans
  • lamb
  • milk
  • lean beef/steak/pork
  • shrimp
  • eggs
  • lentils
  • quinoa
  • seeds
  • protein powder/bars
  • salmon/fish
  • turkey
  • Greek yogurt
  • edamame
  • nuts
  • cheese
  • shellfish

What Is a Carbohydrate?

Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches, and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel and are broken down into sugars. These sugars are absorbed with digestion and cause elevated sugar levels in the blood. With the help of insulin, the glucose enters the cells and fuels our activities. As you can tell carbohydrates are necessary! However, when there is extra glucose in the bloodstream it is stored and converted into fat cells. The intake of carbohydrates is limited in our weight loss program to 50 grams per day. If a patient has a heavy exercise routine or weight lifts, then these grams per day will change due to the body’s need for energy. Also, we have patients focus on complex carbs rather than simple carbs.

There are three main types of carbohydrates:

  • Sugar – Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate. It occurs naturally in some foods, including fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products. Types of sugar include fruit sugar (fructose), table sugar (sucrose) and milk sugar (lactose).
  • Starch – Starch is a complex carbohydrate. This means it is made of many sugar units bonded together. Starch occurs naturally in vegetables, grains, and cooked dry beans and peas.
  • Fiber – Fiber also is a complex carbohydrate. It is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cooked dry beans and peas.

Complex vs. Simple Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are classified as complex or simple based on their chemical structures and how quickly the sugar is digested and used for energy. In order to maintain weight loss, many studies show that we consume complex carbs and avoid simple carbs.

Complex carbohydrates have three or more sugars, digest slower, and provide a more sustained energy source. These contain higher levels of fiber that can also provide a feeling of being fuller longer.

Simple carbohydrates have just one or two sugars and are made with refined sugars or processed sugars. These carbs do not contain vitamins, nutrients, or fiber. It is suggested to avoid these high caloric carbohydrates. Weight loss requires eliminating simple carbohydrates as they are “empty calories” and hold no nutritional value to the body.

Examples of complex carbs:

  • beans/legumes
  • peanuts
  • vegetables
  • brown rice
  • peas
  • corn
  • fruit
  • potatoes
  • lentils
  • whole grain bread
  • oats
  • quinoa

Examples of simple carbs: Try to avoid these.

  • soda/pop
  • sugary coffee
  • cookies
  • candy
  • fruit juice
  • white bread
  • cake
  • chocolate
  • energy drinks
  • pastries
  • ice cream
  • french fries/ chips

What Is Fat?

The highest macronutrient in caloric breakdown (9 calories per gram) is fat. There are different forms of fats and some are healthier than others. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that less than 10% of calories a day should be from saturated fats, which is about 13 grams per day allowed. Furthermore, even lower is The American Heart Association suggests a goal of 5% of daily calories from saturated fats. Saturated fats are known to cause an elevation in bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL). Your provider will check lipid panel, as high cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries that can precede cardiovascular disease.

Saturated fats – Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. The most common sources of saturated fats are meats and dairy products.

Unsaturated fats – Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature. Vegetable oils, nuts and fish have mostly unsaturated fats. There are two types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The American Heart Association does recommend the majority of fats you consume are unsaturated.

Foods high in saturated fats include:

  • fried foods
  • lamb
  • butter
  • cheese
  • baked goods
  • pork
  • creams
  • chocolate
  • beef
  • poultry with skin
  • whole milk
  • dairy products

Monounsaturated fats are from plants and may lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They also may improve the control of blood sugar levels. Replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats in the diet may lower the level of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Triglycerides are fat cells that circulate in the bloodstream and are stored in the body’s fat cells. Eating plant foods high in monounsaturated fats, particularly extra virgin olive oil and tree nuts, may benefit heart health and blood sugar regulation.

Examples of Monounsaturated fats:

  • avocado
  • sesame oil
  • salmon, halibut, herring
  • olives
  • almonds, cashers, peanuts
  • cheese
  • peanut oil
  • pecans, pistachios
  • dark chocolate

How to Read Nutrition Labels

Our weight loss program encourages keeping the total carbohydrates under 50 grams per day, sugars less than 30 grams per day, and meeting the body’s protein intake based on body weight per day (average is 50-100 grams per day if not exercising).

Below are two different labels from yogurts found at your grocery store. Once you learn to read labels, you will be able to meet your daily health goals! These yogurts are very similar in design and advertising but take a closer look at the amount of carbs and sugars.

Calories 210: Fat 8g, Carbs 25g, Sugars 23g

Calories 210

Calories 90: Fat 2g, Carbs 3g, Sugars 2g

Calories 90

Reading labels is key to keeping your carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and sugar intake goals throughout your weight loss journey! Many food items are labeled as high protein and low sugar, but not until you turn each item around and read the label will you truly know the grams per calorie you are consuming.

Another example of the importance of reading labels is found in meal replacement shakes or “healthy protein drinks.” The shake on the right has almost FOUR TIMES the amount of carbohydrates! Remember carbohydrates break down into sugars, which in excess will turn into fat cells. The less carbohydrates and sugars, the better.

The low carb protein shake with
Carbs 3g, Sugars 1g, Protein 22g


The higher carb protein shake with
Carbs 11g, Sugars 1g, Protein 20g

Carbs 11g

*The total macronutrients within protein shakes are also different with brands of protein bars*

Refined Sugars in Drinks

One more example of hidden calories, carbohydrates, and sugar comes from COFFEE. Now that you know what to look for on ingredient labels, compare these three options from a popular coffee shop. One coffee can maximize or even double your recommended carbohydrate and sugar daily intake! Excess sugars will turn into fat cells that will lead to weight gain.

Iced Energy Drink

iced energy nutrition info

Worst drink option

Vanilla latte/breve

vanilla latte nutrition info



americano nutrition info

Best option

Options for low calorie and high protein foods:

  • boiled eggs
  • beef/turkey jerky
  • lean turkey and cheese rolls
  • cottage cheese and berries
  • mixed nuts
  • edamame
  • salad with lean meat
  • protein smoothie
  • peanut butter and celery
  • cucumbers and light dressing
  • string cheese
  • chicken or tuna salad
  • hummus and veggie sticks
  • Greek yogurt and chia seeds
  • protein bar
  • shrimp and cauliflower rice
  • quinoa and chicken bowl
  • spaghetti squash and ground turkey
  • plantain chips

Daily Checklist For Weight Loss Success

  • Keep total carbohydrates less than 50 grams per day
  • Keep total sugars less than 30 grams per day
  • Consume minimum grams in protein per body weight needs 50-100 grams
  • Avoid refined sugars, fats, processed/fried foods, sugary drinks, alcohol
  • Drink half your weight in ounces of water per day
  • Sleep 7-8 hours each night
  • Walk at least 5,000 steps per day
  • Exercise at least 150 minutes per week

It is recommended by the American Heart Association that every person gets at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity. Including muscle strengthening activities twice a week. Exercise has been proven to decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiac failure, dementia, and depression.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants for Weight Loss Education

Medically assisted weight loss program for women in Arizona
We offer a medically assisted weight loss program for women in Arizona, customized and focused on strategies that bring consistent results. Many women struggle with a cycle of weight loss and gain. Learn integral lessons about nutrition, your body, and healthier habits. Contact Arizona Gynecology Consultants to book an appointment at a time that is convenient for you.

Suggested Health and Weight Loss Resource:

This site has an abundance of information regarding macronutrients, examples of foods, recipes, grocery lists, and more!

PCOS Awareness Month

September is PCOS Awareness Month

This entry was posted in Health FAQs and tagged on by .

Irregular periods? Could it be due to PCOS?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorders among women of reproductive age. PCOS affects 5 million women in the United States, which is about 1 in 10 women (CDC, 2020). Menstrual disorders are defined as absent periods, heavy periods, unpredictable periods, or periods that occur infrequently or too frequently. A woman who is not on any hormonal birth control, should have their period about every four weeks.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal imbalance where your ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens or male sex hormones. Women with PCOS have increased levels of testosterone, multiple follicles on the ovaries, and/or irregular periods. PCOS signs and symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, excessive body or facial hair, hair loss, acne, obesity, infertility, insulin resistance, and polycystic ovaries.

PCOS affects all areas of the body, not just the reproductive system. Due to the hormone imbalance, 70% of women will have insulin resistance that can lead to obesity (NIH, 2016). Obesity places a woman at risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease. Some women with PCOS develop a condition called endometrial hyperplasia, where the lining of the uterus becomes too thick. This condition is due to not shedding the endometrium and increases the risk of endometrial cancer. It is important that a woman with these symptoms schedule with their gynecologist to discuss likely causes and treatment.

PCOS Symptoms

How is it diagnosed?

Your provider will take a detailed history on your periods, symptoms, physical signs, check labs, and sometimes order a pelvic ultrasound. To diagnose PCOS, clinicians use the Rotterdam criteria. This criteria is met by having 2 out of 3 of the following; increased levels of androgens or signs such as facial hair, acne, or male pattern hair loss, irregular or absent periods, or having polycystic appearing ovaries on pelvic ultrasound.

What is the treatment?

There are a variety of treatment options to help manage PCOS. Your provider will tailor the specific treatment options to your goals, health concerns, and whether you want to become pregnant. PCOS is most commonly treated using combined oral birth control with progestin and estrogen. The consistent balance of hormones in your body will help regulate the menstrual cycle and lower androgen levels. In combination with birth control pills or used separately are insulin sensitizing medications such as Metformin. These medications help the body respond to insulin, lower glucose levels, regulate weight, decrease androgens, and establish normal menses.

Lifestyle modifications play a vital role in managing PCOS as well! Maintaining a low carbohydrate and low sugar diet has been shown to balance hormones and periods. Due to the known insulin resistance with PCOS, patients should eliminate carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, tortillas, potatoes, cereal, bagels, rice, etc. Healthy replacement foods include spaghetti squash, cauliflower, quinoa, mixed vegetables, or zucchini slices. Low carbohydrate options are eggs, turkey, fish, salads, mixed nuts, protein bars, yogurt, cheese, etc. Our providers provide a weight loss program that includes nutrition, exercise, and medication management! We suggest a maximum of 25 grams of carbohydrates a day and less than 25 grams of sugar a day.

Want to learn more about PCOS?

The providers at Arizona Gynecology Consultants are trained and knowledgeable on PCOS diagnosis, treatment, and helping each patient reach their goals. PCOS is more complex than having irregular periods, as studies show it also affects many aspects of your metabolism and long-term health.

Learn more about PCOS