Working with health coach Kelly LeVeque is like having a super-smart BFF on speed dial—only, she happens to be ridiculously brainy about all things holistic nutrition. It's why celebs like Emmy Rossum, Chelsea Handler, and Kate Walsh turn to the wellness expert when they want to fine-tune their diets. LeVeque's super-positive philosophy (she's all about creating healthy, sustainable eating habits for life) is the foundation for her latest book, Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever.
Here, in a series for Well+Good, the certified nutritionist and Be Well founder is opening up about the wellness trials and tribulations of some of her most famous clients. (Stars: They really are just like us.)
This week? Jessica Alba. LeVeque began coaching the 36-year-old actress and founder of The Honest Company over three years ago, when they were introduced by a mutual friend. Alba was looking for ways to supercharge her diet for an added energy boost. Here's the all-star intel.
What makes Jessica the happiest of all is her family and friends—she’s so close to those around her. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her parents, Cathy and Mark (who are adorably in love), and watching her in the kitchen with her daughters, Honor and Haven.
Jessica also loves breaking a sweat. A couple of her go-to workouts are a spin class or an upbeat vinyasa flow. For a boss like her, consistent exercise is so important because it helps manage stress hormones, like cortisol, which can easily cause cravings. More than anything, though, Jessica wanted to recalibrate her clean eating, feel more in balance, and squelch inflammation.
Here's the nutrition protocol I prescribed to help Jessica power through her days.
Cool-girl client: Jessica’s a powerful force for world health and a great example for being a conscientious businesswoman.
Why she came to me for coaching: Between acting, being a mom, running The Honest Company, and, at that time, working on launching Honest Beauty, she felt exhausted and knew that the best way to get more out of her body was to adjust what she was putting in it. Our goal was to edit her eating plan in a way that gave her the energy to do all that she needed to without requiring a ton of extra effort or thought.
My nutrition prescription: I reviewed Jessica’s typical daily menu and right away I noticed how much she cared about what she ate. She had such a healthy mindset! But a few things stood out that I wanted to tweak.
Some days Jess wasn’t eating breakfast—and finding herself starving by lunch. She would reach for an organic vegan rice bowl as her meal, then maybe find herself craving some popcorn as a snack a few hours later. By eating back-to-back starchy carbohydrates, she was disrupting her blood-sugar balance. (Carbs break down into glucose, which is then stored for fuel. Since her system was overloaded, she wasn’t storing as much glucose, perpetuating cravings.)
But like so many of us, she wanted the freedom to choose to have some carbs. My recommendation was for her to pick one per meal and have a serving size, so she wasn’t spiking too high or compounding things from one meal to the next.
One big thing that Jessica pulled back on after we started working together was soy. It's full of phytoestrogens, which research suggests may contribute to health problems. Also, more than 90 percent of soy in the US is genetically modified.
Like so many of us, she wanted the freedom to choose to have some carbs.
The game-changing meal for her plan: For breakfast, I suggested Jessica have a Fab Four Smoothie (1 serving of protein, 1–2 Tbsp almond butter, 1–2 Tbsp chia seeds, a handful of greens, and 1–2 cups of almond milk). She liked fruit, but I didn’t want to spike her blood sugar, so we limited it to 1/3 frozen banana. I also taught her my chia seed pudding recipe. The idea was to balance her blood sugar from the get-go with something that was a great source of fiber. If you do that in the morning, it lays the foundation for the rest of the day.
For lunch and dinner, I encouraged her to build a Fab Four plate, and not to think about what she shouldn’t eat. Making protein, fat, fiber, and greens the cornerstone of each meal worked wonders for her.
And her favorite snack? Guacamole! I 100 percent approve because the main ingredient—avocado—is a source of healthy fat (specifically, monounsaturated fat). Fat breaks down into fatty acids, which help facilitate hormone production and are important for cell development. It also helps elongate your blood-sugar curve and turn off your hunger hormones.
The real-girl hurdle she had to clear along the way: Jessica’s husband, Cash, is the best—he’s so smart, driven, and supportive of his wife...except he likes to bring home pizza! Leftovers aren’t his thing, so sometimes ordering a pizza for the family is more his style. I joke that it’s the “husband hurdle”—it’s so much easier to eat clean, prepared meals when it doesn’t smell like pizza! I remember one time I was over at their house and Jess and I had a plan to get Cash on the Fab Four wagon. It worked…for a few days.
What happened when she brought it all into balance: I think what really clicked for Jess was how she absorbed the information about blood-sugar balance. She has such a strong intellectual curiosity, loves to geek out on the science behind nutrition, and truly enjoys understanding the how and why. My goal is always to provide my clients with the knowledge that will empower them, so they can achieve their goals and self-sustain. When we dug into blood sugar—and then she felt what I was talking about—I think it all just fell into place.
Like Alba, LeVeque helped actress Emmy Rossum boost her energy (and manage her PCOS). And another actress who's cut back on her soy intake? Blake Lively—here's why.
This story was originally published on June 27, 2018; it was updated on June 28, 2018.
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