When it comes to nutrition and weight loss, there’s a lot of noise out there. All of the information can be completely overwhelming or confusing for a lot of people, which is why I decided to create a simple philosophy that could also work as a tool for my clients.
The Fab Four is what I created to help my clients remember the four things they should be including in every meal to ensure they’re getting beneficial nutrients and the right balance of foods to manage hunger and keep hormones in check.
So, what exactly is the Fab Four? It’s the combo of protein, fat, fiber, and greens.
You need protein to help you feel full and also build or maintain muscle. Fat can help you kick cravings, since it slows down the digestion of food and makes you feel satisfied.
Fiber helps keep you full without elevating blood sugar. Plus, it feeds healthy probiotic gut bacteria and detoxifies your digestive system. And greens provide crucial nutrients and micronutrients needed to help your body fight inflammation and stay well.
Here’s what this looks like in a smoothie:
- protein powder, such as pea protein or a collagen protein (protein)
- avocado or almond butter (fat)
- ground flax or chia seeds (fiber)
- spinach or kale (greens)
You can also add some almond milk, ice, or both, depending on how you like the consistency.
For a meal, you want to fill your plate with leafy greens like kale or arugula, add some fiber-rich veggies like cucumber or cauliflower, protein like chicken or fish, and also 1 to 2 tablespoons of fat, like a Primal Kitchen dressing, olive oil, or half an avocado.
Basically, you want to include the Fab Four in every meal and smoothie, as this specific combination of foods can help:
- turn off hunger hormones (which means you feel satisfied longer)
- burn fat more efficiently
- regulate your blood sugar for four to six hours
The Fab Four isn’t a diet plan. It’s a form of light structure that can help you make sure you’re hitting your nutrition goals and getting what you need to feel calm, full, and satisfied, no matter what lifestyle you choose. When you feel full and satisfied, it’s much easier to stay on track and focus throughout the day.
I talk about how the Fab Four works for blood sugar a lot with my clients. Making sure your blood sugar stays even without dramatic dips or spikes is really important to maintain consistent energy levels, lose weight sustainably, and curb cravings.
You can picture your blood sugar levels like a curve. You want that curve to stay steady and even, flowing close to the midline, without dramatic highs or lows.
The way to manage your blood sugar is to make sure you’re getting the right combination of nutrients (protein, fat, fiber, and greens) and avoid excess sugar and simple carbohydrates.
Another health issue tied to blood sugar is insulin resistance, which is a condition that happens when your body isn’t able to use blood sugar efficiently for energy.
This causes your body to become less sensitive to insulin. When that happens, your cells are resisting the insulin response, meaning your blood sugar is high even when insulin is supposed to bring it down.
Lots of my clients who are struggling to lose weight tell me that they don’t understand why they can’t lose weight even when they’re eating a whole, clean diet.
A lot of times, once I ask them exactly what they’re eating, they say they’re starting their day with a smoothie loaded more than 2 cups of frozen fruit; eating “clean,” natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, or agave; or drinking fruit and veggie juice, which has no fiber or protein (what you need to keep your blood sugar from spiking).
To be clear: I’m not saying that fruit is bad or a problem. It’s just important to understand that your body can only handle so much fructose (a type of sugar in fruit and sweeteners) at a time.
Having around 15 grams of carbohydrates coming from fruit is a great amount for a snack. This is equal to about 1 cup of berries or melon or a small piece of fruit.
Fruit is packed full of fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a healthy, nutrient-dense way to curb a sweet tooth. It’s helpful to pair fruits with a protein or healthy fat to decrease the impact it has on blood sugar. This helps keep the body full for longer and can deter overeating.
Something else that’s part of the Fab Four philosophy is being conscious about snacking. A lot of the time, we snack out of habit or boredom, or because we think we need to eat every two hours to keep our metabolism going.
But the opposite is actually true. If you’re eating balanced meals with enough nutrients, you shouldn’t have to snack to make it to the next meal. Ideally, you can eat a Fab Four meal and then not eat again for four to six hours.
If you’re truly starving before then, you may not have the right balance of nutrients. Or maybe you’re dehydrated and not drinking enough water. It’s actually better for your metabolism to not snack too soon, particularly if you’re not biologically hungry yet. Your body needs the in-between time after meals to digest and burn fat.
The key to losing weight while still feeling satisfied is to try and follow a light structure (like my Fab Four guidelines) and avoid restrictive diet plans or detoxes.
When you follow a light structure and understand the science behind how what you eat affects your body, hormones, and metabolism, then it’s easier to make smarter choices that will help you reach your goals.
Kelly LeVeque is a celebrity nutritionist, wellness expert, and best-selling author based in Los Angeles. Before starting her consulting business,Be Well By Kelly, she worked in the medical field for Fortune 500 companies like J&J, Stryker, and Hologic, eventually moving into personalized medicine, offering tumor gene mapping and molecular subtyping to oncologists. She received her bachelor’s from UCLA and completed her postgrad clinical education at UCLA and UC Berkeley. Kelly’s client list includes Jessica Alba, Chelsea Handler, Kate Walsh, and Emmy Rossum. Guided by a practical and optimistic approach, Kelly helps people improve their health, achieve their goals, and develop sustainable habits to live a healthy and balanced life. Follow her onInstagram.