This program is life changing. After eating so incredibly for a month, I can't imagine eating any other way.
The Science Behind Our Meals
We could go on and on here, but we’ve listed the top 5 reasons we don’t want you to count calories:
- They’re a metric of energy, not nutrition.
- Calorie in does NOT equal calorie out. Most people count calories when looking to lose or maintain weight, but that is not safe because the way we assimilate nutrients and absorb calories depends on the quality of the food and the makeup of your microbiome! A study published by Dr. David Ludwig (a professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) and colleagues in The Lancet in 2004 suggested that a poor-quality diet could result in weight gain even when it was low in calories.
- Your microbiome (that 6 pounds of bacteria living in your gut!) is a huge determining factor as to how many calories you will absorb from your food. The best way to create a healthy and diverse microbiome is to eat a plant-based, whole-food diet (hello Sakara Life!).
- Restricting calories is a stressor. When your body is stressed and believes it is starving, it wants to hold on to fat. By eating more of the right foods, you tell your body it’s okay to burn fat. Many times the body resists long term weight loss by increasing hunger.
- Nutrient dense foods are often sacrificed when people restrict calories. Our salad dressings are some of the highest nutrient content of any food. They’re also high in calories, which is why misinformed calorie-fearing people may not eat them. Without proper nutrients, your body won’t efficiently burn fat or build muscle. It’s food quality and composition that matter, not volume
- In order to cut calories, many people resort to things like 100 calorie snack packs, diet soda, and fat free yogurt. These foods might be lower in calories, but they make you crave more food and can be extremely harmful on your body and microbiome.
Thoughts from our experts:
Newton’s first law of thermodynamics states that the energy of an isolated system is constant. In other words, in a laboratory, or “isolated system,” 1,000 calories of broccoli and 1,000 calories of soda are, in fact, the same. I’m not saying Newton was wrong about that. It’s true that when burned in a laboratory setting, 1,000 calories of broccoli and 1,000 calories of soda would indeed release the same amount of energy.
But sorry, Mr. Newton; your law of thermodynamics doesn’t apply in living, breathing, digesting systems. When you eat food, the “isolated system” part of the equation goes out the window. The food interacts with your biology, a complex adaptive system that instantly transforms every bite.
The same number of calories from different types of food can have very different biological effects. In a study of 154 countries that looked at the correlation of calories, sugar, and diabetes, scientists found that adding 150 calories a day to the diet barely raised the risk of diabetes in the population, but if those 150 calories came from soda, the risk of diabetes went up by 700 percent.
"Some calories are addictive, others healing, some fattening, some metabolism-boosting. That’s because food doesn’t just contain calories, it contains information. Every bite of food you eat broadcasts a set of coded instructions to your body—instructions that can create either health or disease."– Dr Mark Hyman, M.D., Medical Director, Cleveland Clinic
One of the number one questions we get is “but will I get enough protein on a plant-based diet?”. The answer is YES!! In fact, you’ll get about 40% more than your daily requirement (42 grams) and you’ll be getting all the amazing benefits that come with eating plants, like lots of important fiber (97% of people are deficient in this key nutrient!), phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and water. In fact, 97% of American get more than enough protein every single day, so why is everyone so obsessed? Well, protein does play a vital role in thousands of biological processes like giving cell walls their structure, transporting and storing key nutrients, repair tissues (such as bones, skin, hair and muscles) as well as helping the body rid itself of toxins and waste.
But the protein myth is real. Almost all of us have been taught that more is better, and that protein only comes in the form of animals or dairy. We (along with thousands of medical doctors and scientific studies) are here to dispel that myth and confirm that plant protein is abundant, powerful and nourishing:
"If you eat a variety of whole foods of plant origin (vegetables, legumes, 100 percent whole grains and fruits) and not refined food-like products, it is very unlikely that you could be deficient in protein intake, even if your needs are higher (after major surgery, for example). In other words, if you get enough whole plant foods everyday, you get enough protein.
The more protein—especially animal protein—one eats, the higher the risk of different chronic diseases. For example, in a recent study of more than 6,000 people in the best nationally representative dietary survey in the United States, those between 50 and 65 years old who reported high protein intake had a 75 percent increase in dying from any cause, a four-fold increase in cancer death risk during the following 18 years, and a five-fold increase in death from diabetes. Those with moderate intake had increased cancer death risk three-fold when compared with the low protein intake group! It is important to note that these associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived. The composition of amino acids, building blocks of protein, derived from animals is different than from plant proteins. What we need are amino acids, not the proteins themselves. As for the amount of protein we eat, it is not practical or very accurate to measure that on a daily basis. 0.8 g/kg is generous. According to the World Health Organization, 0.5 g/kg is adequate for good health. Make sure you get enough calories from unprocessed whole foods of plant origin and you will get more than enough protein.” — Dr Mladen Golubic, MD, PhD, Cleveland Clinic
"Low-carb, high-animal-protein diets promote heart disease via mechanisms other than just their effects on cholesterol levels. Arterial blockages may be caused by animal-protein-induced elevations in free fatty acids and insulin levels and decreased production of endothelial progenitor cells (which help keep arteries clean). Egg yolks and red meat appear to significantly increase the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer due to increased production of trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO, a metabolite of meat and egg yolks linked to the clogging of arteries. (Egg whites have neither cholesterol nor TMAO.)
Animal protein increases IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone, and chronic inflammation, an underlying factor in many chronic diseases. Also, red meat is high in Neu5Gc, a tumor-forming sugar that is linked to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of cancer. A plant-based diet may prolong life by blocking the mTOR protein, which is linked to aging. When fat calories were carefully controlled, patients lost 67 percent more body fat than when carbohydrates were controlled. An optimal diet for preventing disease is a whole-foods, plant-based diet that is naturally low in animal protein, harmful fats and refined carbohydrates. What that means in practice is little or no red meat; mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and soy products in their natural forms; very few simple and refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour; and sufficient “good fats” such as fish oil or flax oil, seeds and nuts. A healthful diet should be low in “bad fats,” meaning trans fats, saturated fats and hydrogenated fats. Finally, we need more quality and less quantity.” - Dr Dean Ornish, NYT
Let us clarify, this does not mean chew your water (though, now that you mention it, maybe it’s worth a shot?). What we mean by eating your water is to consume enough water-rich plants like cucumber, romaine lettuce, fresh berries and melons— all over 90% water. The water that’s trapped in fresh plants is caught in a phytonutrient-rich web of vitamins, minerals and fibers that help your body absorb more water more slowly, which means you’re more hydrated for longer periods of time!
Before Whitney and Danielle started Sakara, they thought they we’re eating “healthy”. They ate avocado toast on Ezekiel bread, trail mix, organic fiber cereals and energy bars. Basically, food groups lacking in one of the most vital nutrients-- H20! Eating water is one of the ways Whitney finally healed her cystic acne. It forced her to focus on fresh, organic and vibrant plants that not only drenched her cells with hydration but also came with all the incredible benefits of getting enough phytonutrients and plant fiber, which in turn helped to heal her gut. She likes to say she didn’t have a skin issue, she had a gut issue. So, get ready to enjoy a plethora of organic, water-rich plants in all of your Sakara meals and expect to reap all the dewy benefits!
From the experts:
Dr Howard Murad, M.D.
"Anyone knows that eight glasses of water – while still a way of putting water into your body – also means eight trips to the bathroom. When we eat more water-rich foods, we absorb water more slowly because it is trapped in the structure of these foods. That slow absorption means that water in food stays in our bodies longer, with a multitude of additional benefits.
A cucumber is a great example of this. Because cucumbers are 96% water, eating a three-ounce cucumber is almost the same as drinking three ounces of water, but better. Besides being full of hydrating H2O, raw fruits, vegetables and other key water-rich foods contain nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber that can improve your health, develop your immune system, strengthen your muscles and boost your athletic performance.
Dehydration can contribute to loss of energy, headaches and general sluggishness. This is why drinking water has been typically recommended by healthcare professionals for decades. However, to keep our bodies in optimal health, we not only need to stay hydrated but also ingest enough vitamins and nutrients to help our bodies function properly.
By eating your water, you are not only hydrating with H2O, but are also filling your body with everything it needs to become strong and healthy. Our bodies are constantly regenerating, creating new cells to replace old, damaged ones. So, it is important that we eat and drink with a deliberate focus on promoting cellular health. The best way to do this is to keep our body saturated with cell-building elements such as vitamin A, alpha lipoic acid, oleic acid, polyphenols, folic acid and vitamin C. These nutrients can all be found in water-rich foods such as raw fruits and vegetables.
Drinking too much water can actually cause a loss of vitamins and minerals as they get flushed out as the body voids excess fluids. Many people who train for marathons or other long endurance fitness activities have experienced this damaging depletion of vitamins and minerals which can lead to exhaustion, muscle cramping and even heart palpitations. The key is to “strategically hydrate” by eating your water throughout the day so that your body has a steady stream of hydration and nutrients to keep it energized and working optimally."
Howard Murad, M.D. is recognized as a leading visionary for his scientific innovations, total body approach to youth building and overall wellness. His mission and passion is to help people unlock their potential to look younger, to feel younger and to live healthier, happier and more rewarding lives.
One of our favorite pillars (if we had to choose). Eating enough greens (4–6 cups!) every single day is one of the secrets to getting that Sakara Glow. Greens are one of the most potent and powerful foods on the planet. This doesn’t mean you’re only eating salads (though if you’re new to eating greens, it may feel like it!). Instead, you’re eating your meal AND greens.
"Greens are the least consumed food in the standard American diet, and the most essential for inner and outer health. They come the closest of any food to meeting our ideal nutritional requirements. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that romaine lettuce has more fiber than sirloin, but you may not know that calorie for calorie, it has double the protein, ten times the amount of iron, and a hundred times more calcium. If you asked me to recommend the one thing that would have the biggest impact on the health of your gut and skin, it would be to eat as many leafy green vegetables as you can.
If you want to encourage the growth of good bacteria, heal inflammation, improve motility, crowd out parasites, eliminate yeast, get rid of belly fat, dissolve gallstones, balance your pH, quiet down your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), prevent diverticulosis, cut your risk of colon cancer in half, boost your energy, lose weight, banish your bloat, and really glow from the inside out, then the single most important thing you need to do is eat greens every single day.
There’s a lot to choose from: kale, spinach, chard, collards, parsley, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, beet greens, arugula, broccoli, bok choy, and all kinds of lettuce. And a lot of ways to fix them: steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, boiled, roasted, raw, in salads, in smoothies, or on their own. However you eat them, leafy greens are the embodiment of food as medicine. You don’t have to like them; you just have to eat them. If you do nothing else, commit to eating leafy greens every day for the next ten days and I promise you, amazing things will start to happen inside and out." — Dr Robynne Chutkan
Fat has gotten a really bad rap. For decades it was thought to be the culprit of a host of diseases including obesity, heart disease and high cholesterol. Current science dispels those claims and has taught us that getting enough of the right fats (cold-pressed, organic, non-processed, vegetable-based fats) is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and in fact, fat does not make one “fat”. Healthy fatty acids, like the ones found in avocado, cold-pressed olive oil and nuts and seeds help nourish our fattiest organ - the brain! This is especially important for all of you calorie counters out there! If you count calories, you probably, and naturally, have a fear of fat. After all, a gram of fat has more calories than a gram of carbohydrates or protein. One of the other 577 reasons we don’t count calories — you miss out on essential nutrients! A low fat dressing is almost always highly processed, loaded with sugar and inflammation causing. Trust us, you’ll not only enjoy all of our rich, nourishing dressings, your body will too!
From the experts:
Dr Mark Hyman, M.D.,
Functional Medicine Doctor, Medical Dir. of the Cleveland Clinic and doctor to the Clintons.
Fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks. The average person is made up of between 15 and 30 percent fat! Yet for decades, we’ve unfairly demonized dietary fat, diligently followed a low-fat diet that almost always equates into a high-sugar and high-refined carb diet that contributes to insulin resistance, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and numerous other problems.
When Whitney and Danielle first created their pillars (after years of science and nutrition training and self study), they hesitated putting this pillar up as part of the full nutrition program…. why? Because it felt overdone, over mentioned and kind of cheesy. And after all, what are the Sakara pillars if not cutting edge, inspiring and innovative?! But after going back and forth on different names and other ways of phrasing, in the end, they decided that there was simply no other way to say it. EAT THE RAINBOW. It sounds easy, but when was the last time you ate a colorful meal three times a day? Unless you’ve been on Sakara, probably not recently. Even if it’s a ‘healthy’ meal, we tend to gravitate toward the same things— avocado toast, quinoa and stir fry, kale salad etc. Yet, it’s one of the most important ways to know you’re getting the full array of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients!
Every color reflects a different set of phytonutrients, so by eating the rainbow, you’re ensuring you’re getting all different types. For instance, red plants like tomatoes, watermelon and strawberries tend to contain phytonutrients like lycopene, Vitamin C and anthocyanin. Yellow produce has beta carotene, Vitamin A and alpha carotene. And green plants contain phytonutrients like chlorophyll, iron, magnesium and Vitamin K. Eating the rainbow is a beautiful, visual reminder that food is medicine!
From the experts:Dr Mark Hyman, M.D.
Functional Medicine Doctor, Medical Dir. of the Cleveland Clinic and doctor to the Clintons.
Beyond simply being a mechanism for conveying calories, food is a source of special ingredients than can prevent and treat disease and transform your health. These are called phytonutrients – special plant chemicals that are not calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, but special molecules that interact with your biology, special molecules that act like switches on your DNA to heal your body.
Food contains information that speaks to our genes, not just calories for energy. We are learning from research in the field of nutrigenomics, that good “talks” to our DNA switching on or off genes that lead to health or disease. What you eat programs your body with messages of health or illness.
For example, a recent scientific review of the effects of glucomannan, a soluble fiber derived from the Asian potato like tuber, Amorphophallus konjac, and its effects on obesity establishes the value of traditional foods as medicine.
Long used to make konnyaku, a jelly prepared in Japan for over 1500 years, and whose medicinal properties were appreciated as early as the 6th century, konjac fiber or glucomannan has multiple benefits. Konjac is much more viscous than usual fibers, retaining up to 17 times its weight in water.
Expanding in the stomach, small and large intestine, it absorbs fat, accelerates elimination, reduces cholesterol, blunts sugar absorption and facilitates weight loss, in part by increasing feelings of satiety.
In short, it helps you lose weight and get healthy. This is only one among thousands of examples of what modern science is teaching us about the healing properties of food.
One of the most important factors to looking and feeling your best is getting all of the different nutrients you need. Given the state of our food system (depleted soil, overly processed foods, GMO’s, etc.), it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to the quality and quantity of organic, mineral-rich plants you’re getting into your diet everyday. At Sakara, that means adding extra nutrients to every meal with carefully sourced produce and superfoods. A superfood is a food that is high in nutrients for it’s size. Think goji berries, adaptogenic herbs, hemp seeds, chia seeds and spirulina. These added nutrients are incredibly important as most Americans (85%) do not get the recommended daily amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, and getting it from your food is scientifically proven to be the most effective and potent way to get your daily dose.
From the experts:
Barbara Bush is the CEO of Global Health Corps. Hugh Welsh is the president of DSM North America
It is called “hidden hunger” and it robs billions of people the opportunity to reach their full potential.
With hidden hunger, officially known as micronutrient deficiency, people eat enough calories, but fail to get essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. It’s a well-recognized issue in developing countries, where organizations like the World Food Programme and many others work tirelessly to ensure that people – particularly young children – get the essential nutrition they need to reach their full physical and cognitive potential.
While awareness of malnutrition in the developing world is high, micronutrient deficiency is rarely discussed in the US. However, it is a serious and growing challenge in all segments of our population.
About 85% of Americans do not consume the US Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily intakes of the most important vitamins and minerals necessary for proper physical and mental development.
This pillar of nutrition might not always make your nose happy, but it’s one of the most important and abundant minerals in the human body and is involved in hundreds of biological processes. Even though this important nutrient is famous for giving off the rotten egg smell, it’s called the Beauty Mineral because it helps keep your skin clear and supple and your hair and nails strong and healthy. Collagen production in your body depends on getting enough sulfur in your diet! Sulfur is a component of glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in the human body and a potent detoxifier. On average, you’ll find about 2-4 cups of sulfurous veggies in a Sakara day. Sulfur is found in the family of veggies known as brassicas, aliums and mushrooms. Brassicas are things like cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and bok choy, whereas garlic, leeks and onions are classified as aliums.
Dr Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City. She has made it her mission to spread the word about the importance of food as medicine after healing herself from late stage M.S. through nutrition.
I want you to be eating at least 3 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables, which in addition to antioxidants, also have health-promoting sulfur compounds in them. Sulfur-rich foods nourish cells and mitochondria, and specifically help the body to be more efficient in eliminating toxins. Sulfur is also important for synthesizing protein and for producing collagen, which makes up all of your connective tissues. If you have joint issues, you need sulfur! It also helps give you strong, beautiful skin, hair and nails. Diets containing sulfur have been associated with improvements is skin dormers and arthritis.
There are literally thousands of studies showing the health benefits of the compounds in the sulfur-rich family. One of the most relevant pathways for research in sulfur-rich vegetables involves their contribution to blood vessel health. This should matter a great deal to anyone with multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as those with other autoimmune problems. In addition to helping with MS, sulfur-rich veggies can help people with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis due to helping with the narrowing of the blood vessels.
Other known benefits of sulfur-rich veggies include:
- Anti-cancer properties
- anti-microbial action
- Blood vessel health
- Heart health
- Hormone balance
- Immune cell action support
- Liver health
Your body is incredibly intelligent and intuitive. It knows when it needs more or less of certain nutrients, it knows how to tell you when it’s thirsty, hungry or sleepy. It’s in tune with every action and reaction from a cellular level all the way up to the mechanical level. Body intelligence is about building a body you can listen to. Even though our bodies are incredibly capable and smart, there are thousands of environmental and nutritional toxins that disrupt the way your body maintains balance and is able to communicate effectively to your brain. For example, many non-organic foods are sprayed with pesticides that are known neuro-toxins and can impact the way you think, feel, sleep and act. High fructose corn syrup is another ingredient that can massively impact your body’s ability to speak to itself and keep your insulin levels stable.
Food is information and we’re either feeding it information that can promote healing or information that can cause disease and promote imbalances. Because of all the environmental disruptors and the fact that we’ve dissected our plate in such a way that it’s based on labels, numbers, vitamins, nutrients and calculations which puts an importance on what you can count, rather than the quality of what you’re eating, body intelligence is something we all need to strive for. The point of living the Sakara Life is to build a body you love living in and one you can listen to! They say the gut is the second brain, but it’s really the first one… ever heard the expression “listen to your gut”? That’s because a healthy gut is linked to intuition and feeling connected. We want you to be able to tap into your intuition and use it as a guide to help you all of life’s adventures.
Science & Advisory Council
Robin Berzin MD
Dr. Berzin is a functional medicine physician and the founder of Parsley Health. Her goal is to make holistic healthcare affordable.
Bobby Flay is a celebrity chef and an overall inspiration both as a master of food and flavor, as well as a business man.
Aviva Romm MD
Mindbodygreen.com called Aviva Romm one of the 100 Women to Watch in Wellness, and we’re definitely watching.
Raphael Kellman MD
Dr. Kellman a.k.a. “the microbiome doctor,” is a bona fide trailblazer in integrative and functional medicine.
NUTRIENT RICH & CHEF CRAFTED
Our meals are inspired by everything from the latest microbiome research to Michelin-starred restaurants in NYC, and combine expert nutritional design with sophisticated culinary technique.
INGREDIENTS YOU CAN TRUST
To ensure your meals are as delicious and nutritious as possible, we source all of our ingredients from trusted suppliers and organic farms that use healthy, sustainable agriculture practices.
DELIVERED FRESH TO YOUR DOOR
Within 48 hours of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients arriving at our kitchens, your meals are on their way to you, packed in chic, eco-friendly cooler bags or boxes (depending on location).
With Sakara, I am nourishing my body exactly how I want to, but in a way I never had time to.
Nothing sounds better to me than that Sakara salad in the refrigerator.