Stephanie Klein of Simplex Health: “Cook at home”

Cook at home. I’m not talking gourmet here. Meals don’t need to be fancy, complicated, or laborious! Learn the basics to prepare your own meals vs. relying on fast and convenient foods. By preparing your own food, you’re in control of what’s being added, avoiding added sugar, inflammatory oils, and other unwanted additives. This is […]

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Cook at home. I’m not talking gourmet here. Meals don’t need to be fancy, complicated, or laborious! Learn the basics to prepare your own meals vs. relying on fast and convenient foods. By preparing your own food, you’re in control of what’s being added, avoiding added sugar, inflammatory oils, and other unwanted additives. This is a very important step in overcoming food addiction and achieving sustainable weight loss.

So many of us have tried dieting. All too often though, many of us lose 10–20 pounds, but we end up gaining it back. Not only is yo-yo dieting unhealthy, it is also demoralizing and makes us feel like giving up. What exactly do we have to do to achieve a healthy body weight and to stick with it forever?

In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve A Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently” we are interviewing health and wellness professionals who can share lessons from their research and experience about how to do this.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Klein.

Stephanie Klein, RD, LDN, CDCES, CLT is a Registered Dietitian and Clinical Director of Diabetes Prevention and Reversal at Simplex Health. Having spent a number of years working in outpatient healthcare, she recognizes nutrition is underutilized in the prevention and management of chronic disease. As a strong advocate that food can be a powerful form of medicine, Stephanie is driven to use her passion and knowledge to help provide personalized nutrition care for the purpose of preventing and treating chronic disease.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory? What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Growing up in the 90’s, I ate the Standard American Diet consuming A LOT of refined and processed foods. Thinking back, I remember always feeling hungry, and having a hard time paying attention and staying awake in grade school. Each morning started with a bowl of sugary cereal with low-fat milk, and a cup of fruit juice. Even into my high school and college years, I ate this way thinking I was eating ‘healthy’, focused on low calorie and low-fat foods. After all, this is about as far as a lot of my nutrition education went. It wasn’t until after college when I was finishing up my dietetic internship that I would reflect on and question my own diet. I got very sick, and was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. Confused and scared, I quickly turned to research and discovered functional medicine and nutrition. I soon learned that all the so-called “healthy” foods I was eating were actually contributing to my ‘chronic’ disease. From this personal experience, I became even more passionate about root cause resolution and educating others on nutrition.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given in my clinical career. However, David Rambo, Founder and CEO of Simplex Health, provided me with the opportunity to live out my passion for functional medicine and nutrition into practice. I had been looking for an opportunity to do just this for a number of years with no success. While functional medicine is now gaining much more traction, it was challenging to find a like-minded practitioner or company to work with when I was initially looking for an opportunity. Being able to do what I love each day and help others on a larger scale is a blessing.

I’m also thankful to my husband for being my biggest supporter — of both my career and personal health journey. I’m a better clinician from all I have experienced and endured on my own journey and he has been nothing but supportive through it all.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I wouldn’t say it was a mistake per se, but more of a turning point. In the beginning of my career, I spent several years working in an outpatient diabetes center and became an insulin pump trainer. I found myself placing a lot of individuals with type 2 diabetes on insulin pumps, and it frustrated me that I couldn’t do more to help them. No one ever talked about the possibility of disease reversal using diet. While I loved being a pump trainer and I’m incredibly grateful for that experience, I knew I wasn’t helping these patients enough in the long run when we take into consideration the root cause of insulin resistance. This only further validated in my mind the tremendous need for therapeutic nutrition and lifestyle interventions as they pertain to healthcare’s treatment of chronic disease like type 2 diabetes.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Educate patiently. Advocate Passionately. Inspire constantly. “ I’m a huge believer in being your own biggest health advocate. From both my personal and professional experience, no one is invested more in your health than you are. The more educated you are, the more you can advocate and inspire others.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Part of what excites me at Simplex Health is researching and creating new, progressive, clinically- and evidence-based protocols to support our growing patient base. I also work a lot in the gestational diabetes space, overseeing our Gestational Diabetes Program. I happen to love this population of women. We’re currently working on creating a study in pregnant women to assess the effectiveness of low-insulin dietary interventions on metabolism during pregnancy. The prevalence of gestational diabetes continues to increase, and oftentimes outdated diet guidelines fail these women. We know the significant role nutrition plays in supporting healthy maternal and neonatal outcomes in women with or at risk for gestational diabetes but very few studies have been done on this. It’s my hope that this study can help pave the way for more therapeutic nutrition intervention in pregnancy and gestational diabetes in the future.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field?

I’ve spent the last decade providing outpatient nutrition counseling to individuals and families to help improve their health. I’ve helped countless patients lose weight, normalize blood sugar, reduce lipids, and reverse symptoms and disease. My personal health journey has only further ignited my passion to educate people on proper nutrition for the purpose of preventing or reversing chronic disease. I practice what I preach each and every day!

How can an individual learn what is a healthy body weight for them? How can we discern what is “too overweight” or what is “too underweight”?

The Body Mass Index (BMI) scale is a tool utilized by most healthcare professionals to assess the weight category of an individual. This scale uses one’s height and weight to determine their BMI value and these values correlate to underweight, normal, overweight, and obese categories. Generally, a BMI between 18.5–24.9 is considered to be a ‘healthy’ body weight. A BMI < 18.5 is considered to be ‘Underweight’ where a BMI of >25 is ‘Overweight’. There are numerous websites that will calculate BMI for an individual if they plug in their height and current body weight.

One pitiful of this method however that I should mention is it does not directly measure one’s total body’s fat. So someone can have low body fat and a higher percentage of muscle mass, and actually have an elevated BMI categorizing them as Overweight. This would then be a misrepresentation of one’s weight and health status.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons why being over your healthy body weight, or under your healthy body weight, can be harmful to your health?

Obesity increases the risk of numerous chronic conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In fact, obesity is believed to account for up to 85% of the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This is primarily due to elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) and inflammation. In addition, having excess body weight puts stress and pressure on the joints, causing pain. Addressing obesity and helping patients achieve a healthy body weight is therefore an important goal for reducing one’s risk of chronic conditions.

Being underweight can also be a sign of poor health or inadequate nutrition. Underweight individuals are at greater risk of nutrient deficiencies if they are undereating or have malabsorption issues inhibiting them from being able to gain weight. Being underweight can also make an individual more susceptible to poorer immune function. For women, being underweight can also have an effect on reproductive hormones, leading to missing periods and infertility.

In contrast, can you help articulate a few examples of how a person who achieves and maintains a healthy body weight will feel better and perform better in many areas of life?

Yes. Maintaining a healthy body weight often goes hand in hand with improved physical and metabolic health. This correlates with improved energy levels and increased productivity to focus on the things they love to do. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can also boost mental health. Obesity has been linked to increased anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. This is something I often see in practice. Many people’s confidence, self-esteem, and mood will improve when they reach their weight loss and health goals.

Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve a Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently?”. If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrate foods. Consuming concentrated sugar and refined carbohydrates result in blood glucose and insulin spikes. The body stores this excess glucose as fat which can lead to weight gain and metabolic disease. These foods also offer little to no nutritional value Examples of refined carbohydrates include sugary beverages, white bread, bagels, cereal, crackers, noodles, and sweets. On the contrary, whole food carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils provide dietary fiber which prevents spikes in glucose, supports satiety, and feeds the good bacteria present in the gut.
  2. Cook at home. I’m not talking gourmet here. Meals don’t need to be fancy, complicated, or laborious! Learn the basics to prepare your own meals vs. relying on fast and convenient foods. By preparing your own food, you’re in control of what’s being added, avoiding added sugar, inflammatory oils, and other unwanted additives. This is a very important step in overcoming food addiction and achieving sustainable weight loss.
  3. Stop grazing. Consuming frequent meals and snacks means insulin is always circulating and your body never gets the chance to “dip” into the energy stores it has. For most adults, it’s important to have approximately 3–4 hours between meals in addition to a healthy overnight fast. Our bodies are intended to have both feeding and fasting windows.
  4. Incorporate healthy fat with meals. Yes, more fat. I feel the need to include this one since most people turn to fat and calorie restriction to achieve weight loss. Fat has been demonized in our country for decades, and wrongfully so. Most Americans have long limited their fat intake due to concerns about over increased caloric intake and heart disease. Fat however is important to not only keep us satiated at meals (which prevents overeating) but also to help keep down insulin levels. But quality matters when it comes to fat. I recommend adding fats such as avocado, olive oil, raw nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter or ghee.
  5. Include regular movement for physical activity. Our bodies are designed to be active. A sedentary lifestyle combined with a Standard American Diet is the perfect recipe for gaining excess body fat. Aim to include physical activity most days, whether it is walking, dancing, gardening, or playing sports. Physical activity shouldn’t feel like a chore. It’s important to find an activity that brings you joy — one you can maintain long-term!

The emphasis of this series is how to maintain an ideal weight for the long term, and how to avoid yo-yo dieting. Specifically, how does a person who loses weight maintain that permanently and sustainably?

That’s a great question! We see this all too often, patients will try various ‘diets’ and when they stop, they regain their weight, and sometimes more. This is because most crash diets focus primarily on calorie restriction vs. supporting hormones and nourishing the body. We strive to educate patients on how foods impact satiety, blood glucose, and insulin levels, as well as how to properly construct a meal to accomplish these things. When patients learn to embrace whole, nutrient rich foods, they will feel fuller, and naturally eat less. They also feel more empowered. I don’t recommend calorie counting. The key to sustainable weight loss is diet quality, not quantity.

What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to lose weight?

Counting calories is the most common mistake because it often doesn’t lead to sustainable weight loss. That’s because there tends to be little focus on the quality of the food. A diet full of ultra-processed, low-quality foods that don’t support satiety leaves patients feeling restricted and frustrated.

Another mistake I see is eating too often, even when you’re not hungry. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is not only about what we’re eating, but when we’re eating. I often find patients grazing throughout the day , eating frequent meals and snacks around the clock. This may be their attempt at trying to “boost metabolism” , or it could be attributed to not eating a proper meal to stay satiated enough between meals. This also can happen because they’re eating out of boredom or stress. When we don’t allow for periods of fasting between meals, the body remains in a storing state, unable to utilize energy stores.

What errors cause people to just snap back to their old unhealthy selves? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?

Dieting’ versus nutrition and lifestyle changes: Simply put, diets don’t work. That’s because this restrictive style of eating can lead to increased stress, deprivation, and even disordered eating. It’s just not sustainable. The focus should instead be on committing to a new lifestyle of healthy eating habits to support good health.

Not taking time to plan ahead. I know firsthand how busy we all are today, but our health shouldn’t go on the back burner. Planning is such an important part of eating healthy long -term, and this usually begins at the grocery store. When it comes to planning, keep it simple. When grocery shopping, aim to shop the perimeter of the store selecting a variety of fresh produce to keep on hand. Think about your protein options for the week — eggs, beans, fish, meat, etc. Keep a variety of pantry or freezer items on hand for when you’re running low on fresh food. For instance, keep bags of frozen veggies to toss in a quick meal. Keep raw nuts, seeds, beans/legumes, and canned oily fish in your panty for easy protein options.

Lacking support. Often, patients will be very motivated to make a diet and lifestyle change but their spouse/significant other/children aren’t willing to part ways with unhealthy food choices. This makes it extremely challenging to successfully implement sustainable change. Getting the support of loved ones is so crucial. Even if loved ones are unwilling to change their own habits, there are many ways they can still offer support. My advice would be to talk to your loved ones about why implementing a healthy diet and lifestyle change is so important to you as it pertains to your health and your life.

How do we take all this information and integrate it into our actual lives? The truth is that we all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

I’ll start by saying processed and sugary foods are addicting. Plain and simple. This is where the food is in control of us vs. us being in control of the food. Slowly wean out highly processed foods containing refined sugars, oils, and salt. This combination, found in most highly processed foods, behaves similar to an addictive drug, causing us to crave and desire more: a known tactic used by the food industry. The more someone can eliminate these foods, the less dependent they become on them. Real food becomes easier to incorporate when we’re not battling food addiction and cravings. It starts to taste good too!

Set small, achievable goals. For example, maybe your goal this week is to consume 2 different vegetables each day. By setting small, realistic goals, you’ll avoid setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. For instance, what if your goal was to lose 5 lbs. by the end of the week? This would not be very realistic, yet I see goals like this a lot. It’s important to gradually keep building on healthy habits. The more success one has with ‘micro’ goals, the more motivation they’ll have to meet those big end goals.

On the flip side, how can we prevent these ideas from just being trapped in a rarified, theoretical ideal that never gets put into practice? What specific habits can we develop to take these intellectual ideas and integrate them into our normal routine?

It’s okay to take your time on organizing your ideas and goals in your head, before taking action. There’s no need to jump into changing everything right away. Having a healthy mindset and feeling mentally prepared to embrace long-term diet and lifestyle changes is important.

Think about what your motivator is. Ask yourself, ‘Why is healthy eating important to me?” or “Why is weight loss important to me?” Sometimes the answer to that is enough to motivate one into action!

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

There’s so much that can be done to help improve our health but it really starts at the policy level. Healthy food needs to become more accessible and affordable to everyone. Our food system needs to change. Chronic disease continues to be an overwhelming and growing burden to our health system today. Processed food fuels chronic disease, and that processed food stems from our broken food system, which is influenced by policy. We need better agricultural practices and laws that ban harmful food additives and support regenerative farming practices to provide healthier food which, in turn, means a healthier population.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Dr. Jill Biden or Kamala Harris. As the current Vice President and first lady, both have the potential to tremendously influence food and nutrition at the policy level, similar to Michelle Obama. While in office, Michelle did a lot to campaign for healthier food and nutrition education, mostly amongst children — so important given the alarmingly rising rates of childhood obesity. I believe both Kamala and Dr. Biden also have an interest in health and wellness, and could both be very influential, pushing for the much needed overhaul to our food system. Dr. Jill Biden and I also happen to both be from the Philadelphia area and share the same alma mater. We both graduated from West Chester University 🙂

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Visit us at!

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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