Mushrooms - Underrated Health Food

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Mushrooms - Underrated Health Food

Mushrooms may be one of the most underrated foods when it comes to overall health and wellness in the field of nutrition. At their core, mushrooms are edible fungi that contain a host of proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antibiotics and antioxidants. They are categorized as Saprophytes, plants that do not contain chlorophyll and extract the nutrients from dead/dying plant and animal matter in order to grow. 

While there are around 140,000 species of mushrooms, not all of them are safe for human consumption. Those that are, however, has a variety of health benefits.

Cholesterol: The fiber and enzymes contained in mushrooms have been shown to help lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. They also contain high levels of lean protein, which promote healthy utilization of cholesterol in the body. 

Diabetes: Mushrooms contain natural insulin and enzymes to aid in the breakdown of sugars and starches in the bloodstream. They also aid in the proper functioning of the pancreas, liver, and other endocrine glands, thereby promoting proper insulin production and regulation.

Immune system: One of the antioxidants contained by mushrooms is Ergothioneine, which is beneficial in boosting the immune system as protecting the body against free radicals. Ergothioneine is an amino acid, and also contains sulfur which is often deficient in most people. 

Weight management: In a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, trading one portion of red meat for one cup of white capped mushrooms lead to significant weight loss. In fact, mushrooms are one of the only foods that can be eaten in excess with not negative side effects due to their plant protein content, low carbohydrate value and non-existent fat content. 

Anemia: Anemia is characterized by someone who has low levels of iron in their bloodstream, which can result in fatigue, headaches, reduced neural function, as well as possible digestive issues. Mushrooms are a good source of iron, making them particularly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans. In addition to this, the body is able to absorb over 90% of the iron found in mushrooms.

Breast Cancer & Prostate Cancer: Mushrooms have taken on a medical role when it comes to the prevention and treatment of both breast cancer and prostate cancer. They contain Beta-Glucans and conjugated Linoleic acid, both of which have anti-carcinogenic effects. Linoleic acids suppresses the effects of excess estrogen in the body, which can lead to the expression of breast cancer cells. On the other hand, beta-glucans inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells. Several studies show the benefits of introducing mushrooms medicinally to the diet in both scenarios. 

Bone health: Mushrooms also contain high levels of calcium, which are important for bone strength and the prevention of osteoporosis. 

 

Not sure how to cook mushrooms? Check out this recipe for sauteed mushrooms with a just a few ingredients that you can add to just about any meal. 

 

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"Coconut oil isn't healthy."

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"Coconut oil isn't healthy."

This article has been floating around and it's creating a lot of confusion. Part of the problem with nutrition is that there is so much information out there - how are you supposed to know what to believe?

This article talks about how coconut oil contains a lot of saturated fat, which is known to increase LDL (bad cholesterol). So the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Advisory states that it is unhealthy. Before you jump to throw it away, here's the FULL story when it comes it coconut oil and other saturated fats.

Saturated fats have become the scape goat for heart disease since the 1950's when scientists fed rabbits high levels of cholesterol and it caused arterial damage in their hearts. We aren't rabbits, though, and the last time I checked rabbits don't eat meat (which is where most saturated fats come from - animals fats).

In case you missed it, it recently came out that the sugar industry paid off Harvard researchers to blame fat for heart disease.

Read here: http://www.npr.org/…/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-pa…

In addition to this, the body creates cholesterol whether you eat it or not. The less you consume, the more it creates and vice versa, as it is needed by every cell in the body while also being vital for the immune system. Your body is a smart and adaptive.

You can learn more through the link to the Pursuit of Thriving blog below, which details how cholesterol got it's bad reputation and why cholesterol (like that found in egg yolks) is good for you:

http://www.always-growing.com/…/eggs-how-healthy-are-they-r…

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Tracking Exercise from a Macro Standpoint

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Tracking Exercise from a Macro Standpoint

When it comes to tracking your macros, you put EVERYTHING into your tracking application - and I do mean everything. You track your proteins, carbs, fat, fiber, the oils you use to cook, your water intake, etc. 

But there are some varying schools of thought on whether or not you should track your exercise when it effects your macros. At Always Growing, we say no tracking of exercise in the apps, but encourage you to always track your workouts for fitness purposes such as improving your weights/benchmarks over time.

In apps like My Fitness Pal, when you add your exercise to your daily tracking, it converts that exercise into an estimated amount of calories burned during that period of exercise. When this happens, it adds more calories to your daily intake allowance. So if you started with 1,500 calories allotted to you for the day, and you burn 250 calories on the elliptical that morning, you're now able to consume 1, 750 calories that day. 

This becomes a problem when the macro calculations have already taken into account your average exercise levels. Our macronutrient profiles take into consideration your current body weight, your body type, your goals and your exercise levels already without you tracking them based on the average number of hours per week you are active. By adding exercise and calories burned, you can significantly skew and overestimate the calories you should be consuming daily.

Not to mention that these are estimations only. As unique individuals, we burn calories at different rates and all machines are making estimated guesses on how many we have burn - aka they aren't always accurate. When you're doing an activity such a CrossFit, the app can't take into account how many pull ups and cleans you did at what weight, or how high your heart rate was. When you're climbing a mountain, the app can't determine what grade increase there was or again, how high your heart rate was. 

Therefore, tracking your exercise can negatively affect your results, especially if you're goal is to lose weight. Your coach has taken all of this into account already for you, and we love that you're hitting an extra round of cardio on any given day, but let it be an extra bonus for you and leave the adjusting of macros to us. 

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Training Day Macros & Non-Training Day Macros - How Glycogen Actually Works

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Training Day Macros & Non-Training Day Macros - How Glycogen Actually Works

I get this question a lot from clients - Should I have a different set of macros or calorie intake for my non-training days? But the answer may not be as simple as most think. To understand better, it helps to know how glycogen works in the body through what you eat.

What is glycogen?
Glycogen is a polysaccharide (a sugar) which is the body's main way of storing energy in the muscles. When carbohydrates are present in the diet, the liver converts the glucose (sugars) of the food into glycogen to be stored in the liver and muscles for exercise use. These are our energy stores for movement. When we exercise, we deplete our glycogen stores over time. Think about doing a large amount of push ups - at some point you can no longer push yourself of the ground and your muscles begin to fail. This is glycogen depletion. Your muscles no longer have the energy needed to perform the movement. 

When it comes to macronutrients in athletes, carbohydrates are our main source of fuel for energy in our workouts. It can, of course, become far more complicated by introducing nutrient timing, though we won't touch on that right now. 

The common misconception is that for days where you aren't using as much energy in the form of exercise (aka rest days) you don't need to eat as much energy in the form of carbohydrates. 

If you're doing this for physique purposes ONLY, this ideology works. If you're looking for performance improvement or to simply be fueled for your workout (i.e. CrossFiters and most of my clients), however, this does not work.

The human body functions on mildly deficient stores regularly. Glycogen is synthesized and re-synthesized within a 24-36 hour window. This means that what I eat today with my synthesized into glycogen in the next day to day and a half.

So let's say Thursday is your rest day. If you eat less carbs on Thursday, when you go to workout the following day on Friday, you will be very glycogen deficient, likely performance poorly, and well like crap through your workout.  So now you're thinking, in order to have lower glycogen levels on rest days, it would benefit you to have lower carbohydrate intake the day prior to your rest day (Wednesday). This however can also directly effect your workout that day and not allow you to recover properly from your workout if you're not refueling your muscles directly following your workout. 

The best option is to have the mindset that your rest days are re-feed days and treat these as recovery days where you are not lowering your caloric intake, but ensuring that you have sufficient glycogen stores for training in the upcoming days.

For this reason, I don't prescribe my performance-based athletes training day macros and rest day macros. For personalized nutrition plans, including macronutrient profiles to incorporate nutrient timing to fuel your workouts, click here or email me at deidre@always-growing.com

 

 

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My Fitness Pal vs. Personalized Coaching

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My Fitness Pal vs. Personalized Coaching

Nutrition is complicated.

There are a few ways that macronutrient levels are determined in the world of nutrition. Applications like My Fitness Pal use factors such as your age, weight, height, gender, and normal daily activity level to calculate your calorie level per day. They also ask how much weight you would like to lose or gain per week in order to determine what type of calorie deficit or increase your total calories should reflect. This is not an indicator of how much you should expect to lose each week, since everyone is different and your calorie intake does not take into account different factors like exercise type, nutrient timing, food quality, etc. My Fitness Pal also asks for your goal weight, solely for the purpose of sending you reminders regarding how much weight you gain lost/gained. Spoiler alert: everyone gets the same macro ratios through MFP. The only thing that changes to personalize it to you is an increase of decrease in calories. 

Other popular macronutrient calculations incorporate your lean body mass to determine your protein intake first and foremost. Following this, carbs and fats are calculated to fill in the remaining caloric intake. 

At Always Growing, your macronutrient profile is based off several factors, including your current weight, goals, body fat percentage, body type, genetics, activity levels, and the type of training your doing. Everyone is unique when it comes to the proper nutrients their body needs to perform optimally as we all metabolize foods differently. For instance, someone who is tall and slender will metabolize their food at a different rate than someone who is short and curvy. Likewise, men and women tend to metabolize nutrients differently, which leads to storing body fat in different parts of the body. Someone who works out more often will have different energy needs than someone who is just starting out and working out less often.

Needless to say, there are A LOT of factors outside of your weight and your lean body mass. 

This means that there is not a one-size-fits-all macro plan. There is no ratio designed for everyone and what works for one person will not always work for everyone. Often times, tweaking a macronutrient profile is necessary to find the perfect combination of nutrients for you. Furthermore, different types of athletes have difference carbohydrate needs - ultra runners need different fueling than powerlifters. 

In addition to this, where you store fat on your body and how to lose it can give clues to hormonal imbalances resulting from poor or inadequate nutrition. When your nutrition does not fuel you and compliment your unique needs, it can lead to hormonal imbalances in not only cortisol (the hormone responsible for your response to exercise) but also more serious imbalances in sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

When it comes to your nutrition, getting coaching from someone who knows the in’s and out’s of human physiology becomes detrimental to not only your success but your long-term health.

In addition to years of experience, Deidre holds various certifications in nutrition as a trainer and health coach. She studied at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a holistic health coach to provide overall nutrition guidance to athletes, while also acknowledging that everyone is different and has different needs. Here she studied not only the importance of a whole foods diet, but also alternatives diets such as veganism/vegetarianism, ketogenesis, and paleo. She also studied through Precision Nutrition to develop her coaching to be more scientifically based and customizable for each athlete.

Always Growing offers a wide range of nutrition plans to achieve your goals - whether that’s to perform better in the gym or just look good naked. Coaching makes all the difference.

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Supplements - Our Top Recommendations

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Supplements - Our Top Recommendations

At Always Growing, we recommend supplements to client to do just what they are intended for... SUPPLEMENT a balance and healthy nutrition plan. We don't have a long list of supplements to take to get results fast, fat burners lose 10 pounds in a few days, or even excessive natural supplements. We do, however, recommend a few key vitamins to most clients. 

  1. Fish oil - Fish oil contains omega-3 fats, which are beneficial not only for heart health, but brain health due to their anti-inflammatory effects. While most people know that they should be taking a fish oil, not all products on the market are created equally. When buying a fish oil, check the label to see how much EPA and DHA is in each serving. We recommend a daily dose of 2-4 grams. Labels will typically list EPA and DHA levels in milligrams (mg) and there are therefore 1,000 milligrams in each gram. Many popular fish oil pills contain very little EPA/DHA, which is the stuff that benefits you, so make sure to get fish oil that is highly concentrated. Our favorite it SFH Fish Oil - it's a liquid that you refrigerate after opening and doesn't have a fishy taste. In fact, their fish oils come in a variety of flavors (orange, lemon, chocolate, berry).
  2. Vitamin D - Vitamin D is important for absorption of calcium to our bones. Typically we get Vitamin D as it is synthesized through our skin from sun exposure, but we don't always get out 30 minutes of exposure per day. If you've ever felt a little down on cloudy days, you're lacking your Vitamin D! This vitamin is also linked to depression and mood, so adding it to your supplement regimen benefits most people. 
  3. Post-workout Shake - Some sort of protein shake is important if you are active. Most people aren't dying for a meal after their workout, so a shake is the perfect way to get nutrient quickly into your bloodstream post-workout to recover properly. Look for a protein shake that contains both protein and carbohydrates, or be prepared to add a carbohydrate to your post-workout routine. 
  4. Magnesium/ZMA (only if you have trouble sleeping) - For those who have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, there are two options. First, try taking magnesium 30 minutes prior to bed. Studies have shown that magnesium decreases cortisol (your fight or flight hormone) and can help relieve insomnia. If this doesn't seem to do the trick, the next option is ZMA (Zinc Magnesium Aspartate). This all-natural supplements also contains magnesium to help you fall asleep and achieve REM state longer. Fair warning here, when taking this supplement you will likely experience very vivid dreams. 

That's it. Eat well to get lots of nutrient-rich foods into your diet and mix up the sources of your food often (aka don't only resort to chicken and broccoli), and you'll be getting everything you need. 

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Are You Eating Too Much or Not Enough?

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Are You Eating Too Much or Not Enough?

When I meet with clients looking to cut weight or body fat, they are often concerned they're eating too much and are nervous about how I'll ask them to eat less and how that will effect them. The truth is, however, that most people are not eating ENOUGH food. I hear more clients than not say they didn't think they could eat as much food, and then they see their unwanted weight disappear.

You see, the media and general culture has taught us that we are probably eating too much and this leads to body fat accumulation and weight gain. While this is certainly a real outcome, it's often not the case. When we put a general guideline on how much we should be eating as a population, we lose the customization that each of us need. By saying that everyone should consume roughly 1,200 calories per day leads to a lot of room for error, especially as most Americans eat primarily carbohydrates which the body converts to fat when eaten in excess. 

Each of us has unique energy needs to survive - for our body to function normally, and to sustain the lives we lead. These energy needs are based on not only the mass of our bodies (our weight) but also the tasks we perform throughout the day. The energy spent by someone who works on a construction site for 10 hours per day is going to be largely different than someone who sits at a desk in front of a computer. Their needs are different, and if these two people ate the same amount of food (even if their weight was similar) would have two very different experiences in terms of hunger and energy levels.

To take things a step further, our bodies are composed differently genetically, and we therefore metabolize foods differently. Tall and thin males can notoriously eat endlessly without gaining weight or body fat, whereas women who are short and curvy don't see the same outcome. These differences make our dietary needs unique.

So what happens when you aren't eating enough, or even not the right amounts of nutrients to sustain your body's needs? Your body turns your food into fat, it pulls energy from your muscles, and depletes your cells of nutrients to continue to function as best as it knows possible. When you get your nutrition aligned with the energy and macronutrient needs of your body, you'll be able to optimize your body fat percentage, support your every day functions and energy levels, and help with any training you're doing. 

Food in excessive is not the enemy it has been made out to be. By eating enough food, you'll feel better and likely look better. For help determining your unique energy and macronutrient needs, check out my custom plans

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H2O - Staying Hydrated

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H2O - Staying Hydrated

Whether you're exercising daily, running a marathon, doing a one-day obstacle course or not being active at all, hydration is one of the most vital things for overall health. 

With up to 60% of the whole human body being composed of water, to say that you need it to function properly is an understatement. When you're even mildly dehydrated ,your body is unable to function properly and can slow down different function to preserve itself. Not to mention if you're trying to lose weight or gain muscle mass, it's nearly impossible for your body to purge itself of waste without being properly hydrated. 

Without considering exercise in your lifestyle at all, I always recommend drinking 50-75% of your body weight in ounces minimum.

This means if I weigh 150 pounds, I need to be drinking between 75-112 ounces of water daily.

Plus, if you live in a high and/or dry climate (like Colorado) you should be drinking an additional 32 ounces daily. 

If you exercise, you should be drinking even more water since you'll be sweating and losing water. Sweating is the body's natural method for cooling down. The average person loses between 0.8-1.4 liters (or 27-47 ounces) of water per hour of exercise. During exercise, we need more water. The enhanced metabolic rate of muscle contraction requires a larger delivery of nutrients and oxygen along with faster waste and heat removal form the body.

I often tell my clients that if they've ever been knee deep in a workout and started feeling really crappy, chances are they were not properly hydrated going into the workout. If you've ever felt like your face and body are unable to cool down while you were exercising, that's dehydration. Without proper hydration, your body isn't able to sweat and you start to get that "I can't breathe, I'm so hot, my head might explode" feeling. 

Here are a few tips to make sure you're hydrated leading up to your workout:

  • One to two hours before your workout, drink 20 ounces of water. Then, 15 minutes before you begin, drink another 8 ounces of water.
  • During your workout, you should be drinking approximately another 8 ounces.

Fun fact for you - losing just 2% of your body weight in fluid can decrease performance by up to 25%. So if the goal is to perform well and increase your capacity for work, you need to prepare by hydrating well.

A well-hydrated athlete feels stronger and can work out longer and more effectively.  The heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood to the body, and oxygen and nutrients can be transported more efficiently to the muscles you’re working during exercise.  That means you’re going to have more energy, and the same exercises you struggled with when dehydrated will seem much easier.

Even if all of your nutrition is out of whack, start with water. Allow your body to function the way it was meant to and build on that hydrated foundation.

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Energy and Immune Boosting Shot

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Energy and Immune Boosting Shot

I concocted a little shot today that I wanted to share with everyone. 

I initially made this mixture as an energy shot and have done so in the past by juicing ginger root. Ginger root is a warming remedy as it increases blood circulation and lowers blood pressure. It will also put some pep in your step if you shoot it straight. I'm personally not a big fan of the taste of ginger, so I wanted to add something naturally sweet with it. 

Not everyone has access to a juicer. They're wonderful and I highly recommend using them for adding vitamins and minerals to your diet without having to eat loads of vegetables. But expensive and timely to use and clean up. So instead, I wanted to create a juice shot that didn't require a juicer but merely a hand juicer for the oranges. 

Here's what I put in it:

  • 2 small oranges hand juiced (approximately 1/2 cup of orange juice)
  • 1/2 inch ginger root finely grated by hand
  • A pinch of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon or less of raw honey

Easy as that. Mix and enjoy.

 

While I made this for energy, I realized these ingredients also have a lot of immune system support benefits, as well as anti-inflammatory qualities. The ginger root is a natural herb for inflammatory and is recommended for fighting colds/the flu. Turmeric is one of the most powerful herbs around with its anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies show that turmeric is as powerful as many prescription level medications on the market for anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, pain killers, arthritis, cholesterol fighters, etc. The bottom line is this: a pinch is a good addition no matter who you are. Oranges contain a ton of Vitamin C, which we know is vital for supporting our immune system in fighting away illness. And the honey is just in case you're not a fan of the bitter taste of ginger. 

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Are You Sleep Deprived?

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Are You Sleep Deprived?

With all of the commitments in our lives - work, family, friends and play - we often find ourselves utilizing an "I'll sleep when I'm dead" mentality to overcome how tired we are. I'm certainly guilty of this at times, but sleep is one of the most important factors to your overall health. In fact, it may be more important than your nutrition and exercise. 

First, ask yourself a few questions:

Are you always sleepy?
Do you sleep soundly at night or wake up through the night?
When is the last time you remember dreaming?
How many hours of sleep do you get every night?
Do you go to bed at the same time each day and get up at the same time?

Sleep deprivation has become such a widespread issue in our society that most people don't even realize there's a problem. As we've come to used to being sleepy or falling asleep at our desk, we've just accepted that this is how life feels. But it's not!

When you're not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night, you're essentially shooting your health efforts in the foot. When we sleep, our brain waves slow down allowing us to relax and recover. The brain waste management systems are very active during our deep sleep as they remove toxins to improve cognitive function. This is also when muscles and tissues repair themselves, which is why sleep is so vital for building muscle and exercise.

When these things don't take place during your sleep, sleep deprivation can become a chronic issue, leading to consequences including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Obesity
  • Psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Mental impairment
  • Higher possibility of injury
  • Poor quality of life

Many studies show that sleep parallels the success of both muscle building and weight managements plans. In other words, if your goal is to build muscle or lose weight, you should also set goals for getting enough sleep nightly. Without sleep, you'll be limiting your success or completely hindering it. 

Here are few easy tips for resolving sleep deprivation in your life.

  1. Make sleep a priority. Invest the time in yourself to get enough sleep!
  2. Start winding down before it's time to get into bed and don't fight your circadian rhythm. Turn off electronics and dim the lights. Many electronics now have a night setting to help your brain adjust for sleep. 
  3. Go with the flow of light as much as possible - a.k.a. wake up with the sun, and go to sleep when it gets dark. If this doesn't work for your schedule, set times to be up and go to bed, and try to stick with it even on the weekends.
  4. Avoid drinking caffeine late in the day. If you have trouble falling asleep at night or wake up throughout the night, try removing caffeine from the second half of your day. You could be caffeine sensitive and not realize it.
  5. If you have trouble sleeping at night, try bedtime teas with natural herbs or taking a magnesium pill.
  6. For athletes, I recommend trying ZMA. Zinc Magnesium Aspartate is widely used in the athletic community as a recovery method. It's all natural and will help you get into a deep sleep and REM state. Be warned, it will give you vivid dreams. Everyone reacts differently, so start with a small dose.

When it comes to your overall health, sleep is one of the biggest factors. So take care of yourself, allow your body to recover fully, and get rested up so you can be fully awake to enjoy your life.

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Balance and Alcohol

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Balance and Alcohol

There are few cardinal rules when it comes to my coaching:

  1. You should NEVER be hungry.
  2. Your diet is what you eat day in and day out, and it does not have a deadline.
  3. Practice balance. 

Today I want to talk about the third rule: Practice balance. When I refer to balance, I'm talking about your nutrition (and really anything in life) that you could potentially get burnt out on. When it comes to our diet, we want to eat well as much of the time as possible, but sometimes things come up that try to derail our nutrition. 

This could be cravings from day to day. For the most part you want to steer clear and re-learn ways of dealing with your cravings, especially sugar cravings, as you clean up your diet. It could also be going to a new restaurant and wanting to try a delicious sounding plate, but unable to do so because it contains something you've vowed not to eat anymore. And this is where balance comes into play. 

I recommend an 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, you should be good - eat clean, eat what you've dedicated yourself to eating, get in the veggies, your supplements, your water, etc. The remaining 20% of the time (or less if you have superb will power), BE BAD. Indulge and treat yourself to things you've always loved to eat (ahem - chocolate), try something new at a restaurant even though it has something noncompliant, order dessert. Your nutrition is hugely important to your health, but so is your happiness. Remember to practice balance and be bad every once in a while without guilt. 

This brings us to today's topic - alcohol. I'm going on a bachelorette party this weekend, so festivities are on my mind and I know this is something that comes up often as indulgences

"Can I still drink a beer?!"

Here are a few important facts about alcohol to keep in mind, as well as the best and worst picks for your adult beverages when keeping your diet in mind. 

  • Alcohol has almost twice as many calories per gram than carbs and proteins. For example, a 5 oz. glass of wine contains 110 calories, 91 of which come from the alcohol itself. 
  • Alcohol can damage the stomach, kidneys and liver due to often being a yeast by-product, which can cause inflammation of the gut lining and lead to serious kidney and liver diseases. 
  • Alcohol provide empty calories - a.k.a. lots of calories but very little nutritional value.
  • Alcohol inhibits fat loss and can cause fat gain. When you drink alcohol, your body uses it as fuel first (when it should be using fat as fuel) and does so until it's out of your system. 
  • Moderate alcohol consumption in healthy adults has shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Having a glass of wine with your meal can help you live longer - in fact it reduces the risk of death 18 percent. 
  • Red wine contains antioxidants, resveratrol, and polyphenols that are good for heart health. 

Alcohols From Best to Worst

1. Tequila - This should be distilled 100% agave tequila, otherwise tequila often contains a huge amount of refined sugars. Many tequilas made in the U.S contain other alcohols besides tequila (up to 49%) while still being labeled as tequila. The agave plant is not a grain, and contains simple sugars like fruits. 

2. Red Wine - If you're not a liquor person, red wine is the best choice for you. Because of it's heart health benefits, it's one of the best alcohol options when drunk in moderation. Red wine trumps white wine, because white wine removes the skin of the grape (and consequently the resveratrol) and contains more sugar, hence the sweeter taste. 

3. Beer - Beer is made from wheat, barley, and hops. If you're among the paleo community, it should be a dead giveaway that this isn't the best option for you. Beer also contains a ton of carbs, and while there are low carb options, are you really going for low-carbs foods or whole foods? Think about it.

4. Mixed drinks - Many spirits are okay on the rocks, but that's not how they're typically served. If you mix anything with a sugary soda, mixer, or fruit juice, you'll be getting a large amount of carbs and sugars in your drink, leading to huge calorie intake in the form of a drink with no other nutrients. 

Obviously this list isn't exhaustive, but it provides your best and worst options. That being said, remember that balance is key to the happiness and sustainability of any diet. Choose wisely, indulge every now and then, and create the nutrition plan that suits you best. 

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Eggs - How Healthy Are They With All That Fat and Cholesterol?

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Eggs - How Healthy Are They With All That Fat and Cholesterol?

Have you ever thrown away an egg yolk because you were concerned about the cholesterol or fat it contains? Or have you ever considered eating less eggs because of their fat content? Maybe you've questioned how many eggs are too many to eat in one day?

As concerns for heart disease and high cholesterol have become leaders in health concerns for many, eggs have been put on the chopping block as an unhealthy food item. So, how healthy are eggs really?

First, we need to look back in time at how heart disease and the fear for heart disease developed since it's a relatively new occurrence in our history. The first recorded heart attack was in 1912, and by 1930 there had been over 3,000 heart attacks reported. Thirty years later, over 500,000 heart attacks were reported. Needless to say, heart attacks were on the rise and people started to worry.

Two theories developed to explain what was becoming more common. First there was the lipid hypothesis, which stated that high cholesterol in the blood stream causes heart disease. The second hypothesis was the diet-heart hypothesis, which stated that saturated fats and cholesterol that we eat from sources such as animals products raises blood cholesterol levels. These both led to the increase of the pharmaceutical company's role in heart disease through prescriptions for statins and other cholesterol lowering medications. 

There was a lot of research done, but unfortunately it wasn't exactly accurate and became widely distributed as truth in an attempt to decrease heart attacks as quickly as possible. Imagine you're the mayor of town and there's a problem causing your townspeople to die. When any research is provided with a resolution, chances are you'll provide it to your town as soon as possible to help the people and town you love. Right? That's what happened in this case. There was a study done in 1954 where a researcher fed cholesterol to rabbits, and it caused arterial damage in the rabbits. How similar are humans to rabbits, though? Not very similar as it turns out. With different natural diets, digestive systems, and differences in nearly every internal system, the study should not have been concluded to be applicable to the diets of humans. 

A few years later in 1956, a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in crop oils (corn, soybean, canola) was advocated by Irving Page and Jeremiah Stamler in a televised fundraiser for the American Heart Association. These two men also went on to create the nutritional guidelines in 1961 for the American Heart Association. And so, the anti-saturated fat, anti-cholesterol message became ingrained in the mind of Americans despite living healthily for centuries eating these types of foods. As a result, obesity more than doubled worldwide between 1980 and 2008. 

So if they got it wrong, then what really causes heart disease? If you keep in mind that humans have eaten these foods for centuries without facing heart attacks, saturated fats and cholesterol are likely not the culprits. Research points to sugar, stress, nutrient deficiency, nutrient imbalances, damages fats (like those from processed crop oils), and chronic inflammation as contributing factors to increasing heart disease. Not animal meats and not eggs. 

Okay, so you can eat your eggs but you still don't want to have high cholesterol, right? Not quite. Lots of research shows that people with high cholesterol actually tend to be healthier and love longer than those with low cholesterol. Cholesterol is a lifesaving, health-promoting substance, and it performs incredibly important functions in the body. Every cell in your body needs cholesterol at some point during its life. Cholesterol is important for fighting infections and can disable toxins produced by bacteria to further support the immune system. 

Cholesterol in your food does not determine your blood cholesterol levels either. The body naturally creates cholesterol and creates less when more is introduced through the diet - the body is smart and self-regulates. Furthermore, foods high in cholesterol are jam-packed with other important nutrients, vitamins and minerals. 

Eggs are one of the best foods for you to get plenty of saturated fats efficiently through your food. They're a natural source of both protein and fat, and filled with Vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, D, Calcium and Magnesium. Most of these nutrients reside in the yolk. 

Is there a limit on how many eggs you should be eating? Nope. You would have to eat a ridiculous amount of eggs before I would recommend you eat less eggs. That being said, it's important to get a variety your nutrients from a variety of sources. This is also dependent on your personal goals and if you have specific protein and fat content goals for your diet, but in general eggs get the green light. 

 

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White Rice vs. Brown Rice

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White Rice vs. Brown Rice

In the past several years, it's become widely spread that  brown rice is a healthier option over white rice. But is this really true? 

Many clients are shocked when I mention white rice, so let's look into this topic a little bit to help you make the best decision. 

First, what's the difference between white rice and brown rice anyways?

Brown rice is the whole form of rice. The shealth, known as the bran, that covers the grain of rice remains intact in brown rice, which is what gives it the brown color. White rice, on the other hand, is a refined version of rice and does not contain the bran.

Brown rice

Pro's
The bran that remains on brown rice grains contains fiber and is very beneficial for your digestive health. It also contains magnesium, phosphorous, B-vitamins and protein. This is why it's commonly said that brown rice is the healthier option for you. More nutrients = healthier. Brown rice is also lower on the glycemic index and can help decrease the risk of diabetes. 

Con's
The bran often absorbs pesticides and chemicals that are sprayed onto it during the farming process. One of the biggest chemicals to be of concern is arsenic. Some studies show that brown rice contains 50% more arsenic than the daily safety level issued by the EPA, especially when eating more than one serving per day.

White rice

Pro's
As the bran is removed through the refining process, all of the potentially harmful chemicals are removed leaving only the tasty white center of the original rice seed. It's a good source of carbohydrates due to its low sodium levels, especially for those with high blood pressure and kidney problems. 

Con's
White rice does not contain as many beneficial nutrients as brown rice. It does, however, still contain many of the essential amino acids we need in our dietary intake.

So what about taste? There are a few key differences as shown below. 

 

So... which one is better?

Ultimately they both have benefits and disadvantages. The best thing to do is eat both. You don't always have to eat brown rice or always eat white rice. You can both forms of rice to create variability in your diet. It's important to keep your diet constantly varying - if you eat the same thing day in and day out, what vitamins, amino acids, nutrients and fuel might you be missing out on? 

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Depression - Not Exactly a Chemical Imbalance

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Depression - Not Exactly a Chemical Imbalance

Depression effects over 51% of the U.S. population. If you were to ask someone to describe what depression is, the common answer is that "depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that leads to feeling severely sad, hopeless, and unimportant making it often difficult to live a normal life."

This will be hard to swallow, but that's not correct. At least, that's not the actual cause of depression.

YES - There are often outside forces that cause depression in many people. 

YES - There is a chemical problem and something is physically wrong with the brain of those people experiencing depression. 

But chronic depression is a result of an unhealthy lifestyle, namely poor nutrition practices, according to many studies. This occurs through increased levels of systematic inflammation (which is bad for you, in case you missed the blog on inflammation). Endless data exists showing the relationship between diet quality and systematic inflammation, even going as far as to show that higher intakes of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, fish and legumes are associated with reduced plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers.

Likewise, traditional Western diets containing high levels of carbohydrates and sugars have shown to increase the inflammatory response in the body. One study went so far as to show that fast food consumers are 51% more likely to develop depression than those who avoid fast food. It consisted of nearly 9,000 participants who had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants. After six months of examination, 493 or the participants were diagnosed with depression or began taking antidepressants. 

What this all means in layman's terms is the you may be feeding your own depression through the food you eat. Fast food and processed carbs are making you and your brain sick. 

Anti-depressant medications have become widely prescribed and the amount of people taking them has skyrocketed in the past two decades. Between 8-10% of the U.S. population is estimated to be taking anti-depressant medication. This spike does not, however, indicate an increase in depression. These medications treat the symptoms of depression without treating or resolving the cause of the problem. This is important because depression is a precursor to many other serious illnesses caused by systematic inflammation.

Depression increases the risk for:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease

Experts like Daniel Amen, MD believe that depression, obesity and Alzheimer's are all very similar diseases with different expressions in the body resulting from an unhealthy lifestyle. This means that you if currently suffer from depression, the likelihood that you can develop these diseases in the future is significantly increased. 

Here are four ways to fight depression WITHOUT the use of medication:

  1. Diet - Remove excess carbohydrates and sugars (in the form of refined and processed foods i.e. bread, pasta, baked goods, processed junk). Fill your diet with fish, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and foods that fight inflammation.
  2. Sleep - Research shows that getting 5 or less hours of sleep per night may boost our risk of depression to 53%.
  3. Exercise - Getting 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times per week has been shown to be out of the best antidepressants. 
  4. Sunlight - Serotonin production in the brain is directly related to sunlight exposure.

Depression is no easy disease to overcome. Dietary changes can make a huge difference, but ongoing coaching is likely necessary in many cases. These holistic changes in your lifestyle and nutrition can change not only the inflammation in your body, but the health of your brain and your entire life.

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F*ck the Scale - Why Your Weight is JUST a Number

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F*ck the Scale - Why Your Weight is JUST a Number

Note: If cursing offends you, I'm sorry in advance of you reading this blog.

This topic particularly pertains to women, thought I know that is a generalization. A good portion of my nutrition clients are women who want to lose weight. I love working with these women and helping them achieve those goals, as well as find new ones they might have not yet considered.

For instance, I want you to have to buy a smaller pants size before I want you to lose 10 pounds. I also want you to feel amazing and beautiful before we reach your ideal goal weight. 

We live in a society where our weight has become an iconic measurement of our self-worth. When we don't feel good about our body and our health, we look at our weight as affirmation that something has gone wrong. This is where I hear, "I've gained 5 pounds since XYZ happened." 

The real root of those concerns is this:

  • I don't feel sexy
  • I don't feel good in my body and don't like the way it looks
  • I don't have any energy
  • I don't feel confident with my body
  • I'm bloated, constipated, and feel sick
  • I'm uncomfortable in my clothes
  • I don't feel good about myself

When did our weight become way to measure our self-worth? Is a number on a scale what's going to make you feel better? And what happens if you never reach that number? What happens if you feel better in your body, feels sexy, lose inches, but you GAIN weight? *Gasp - I know.

I want to share a little story about myself as we get into this. When I went to college and the notorious freshman 15 lbs. snuck up on me. It stuck around for most of college and when I graduated, I started working out. I had gone from around 130 lbs. pre-college to 140 lbs. during college, and I hated it. I remember wanting to be 115-120 lbs. and it seriously pained me that it seemed like I would never get back down to that weight. I started getting fit and healthy, working out regularly and you know what happened? I gained MORE weight. But this time, it was muscle. 

Over the past few years, I have fluctuated between 140 lbs and 155 lbs, depending on my training regimen and my nutrition. The difference however, is I have never been leaner in my life. That damn scale was lying to me the whole time. And it's been lying to you too. 

The same weight held by different bodies looks differently. The number is just a number and tells you nothing about the health and happiness of each of the beautiful women shown below, who all weight 154 lbs. 

For a long time, the scale has served as our own worst enemy that we keep in plain sight in our own bathroom. We see it and it beckons us to measure ourselves and feel bad about whatever number is on the scale. As we grow from adolescence to adulthood, the number grows with our bodies and we feel badly about it. Let me repeat that - we feel ashamed of our growing and maturing bodies.

This leads to body image issues and oftentimes eating disorders to try to reach a weight that is no longer obtainable in our bodies. Fuck the scale. Nobody needs it. Many women have said "fuck the scale!" and decided to smash them in a therapeutic ritual to no longer be defined by a number - you can be inspired here, here and here

The advice I give to my clients is based on a few questions:

  • How do you feel when you weigh yourself on the scale?
  • Is it serving you in a positive way or causing you anxiety?

Rather than worry about the gravitational pull of the Earth on your body (aka your weight), let's focus on feeding a healthy body whole foods that nourish it and allow it to grow. Let's focus on exercising our body because we love it and want to it be fit and healthy, rather than to lose weight. My work through fitness and nutrition is not derived out of hatred for the body, but through love for it and nourishing it. This is the simple wisdom I hope to impart on every client I come in contact with.

Happiness and health are the true measures of beauty, and no object is capable of measuring that, so fuck the scale. You don't need it where you're going. 

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Inflammation - What's the Big Deal?

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Inflammation - What's the Big Deal?

Inflammation is the precursor to many diseases and has been recognized as such for thousands of years. Recently, however, inflammation has been on the rise among the general population as a result of the common Western diet. Today I’ll simplify inflammation, what it is, and what it can cause, as well as how to naturally remedy inflammation in your body through food.

Inflammation is a vital part of our survival. Think of inflammation in the body like this.. Let’s say you go for a light jog and accidentally roll your ankle. Even if you’re not in a huge amount of pain, you’ll probably notice your ankle start to swell. This is the body’s reaction to an injury in the body and serves as a healing mechanism to bring fresh blood and nutrients to the area to not only heal it, but protect it from further damage. This type of inflammation is good. 

But what if you continue to roll your ankle or cause the same damage over and over? Then inflammation becomes chronic and never ceases.  When we look at inflammation in the large scale perspective of the whole body, imagine how hard the body is working to provide nutrients and protection to all areas of the body inflamed. What results is exhaustion and ultimately the inability to help all areas of the body. 

One of the biggest ways that our body is often under continuous stress and inflammation is from sensitivities to food and improper ratios of nutrients. Our gut ends up under attack in the face of poor nutrition, which results in ongoing inflammation.

As this happens, disease is able to make it’s way into the body as the immune system is being exhausted through its attempts to heal your gut. Cytokines are secreted by the immune system to help, but can be pro-inflammatory and make many diseases worse. Just a few diseases that result from chronic inflammation include:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancer

Inflammation as a once-in-awhile reaction is essential, but as inflammation becomes ongoing especially in areas of the body that are crucially linked to our health, such as the gut, it becomes a very serious issue.

How Do We Fix Chronic Inflammation?

The common Western diet fuels inflammation through the excessive presence of carbohydrates and unhealthy fats in the diet. We’ll discuss each of these in depth to give you the most tools for combatting inflammation, take control of your gut health, and consequently your overall health. 

Carbohydrates

Excessive carbohydrates in the diet have been linked not only to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome outside of any gut sensitivities. If you are in fact sensitive to certain carbohydrates, their intake becomes much more detrimental to your health. Inflammation results from the introduction of carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (GI) into the body. These are typically those carbs low in fiber and high in sugars and starches (think potatoes, bread, pasta, etc). 

To promote overall gut health, the best carbohydrates for you include those with low glycemic indexes that are high in fiber - vegetables. The fiber allows your digestive track to operate optimally and regularly, which the low GI prevents your body from releases mass amounts of insulin to accommodate for the sugars entering the blood stream. Less insulin being released allows the body to be in a more neutral state with steady blood sugar levels, and thus less inflammation. (Check out the GI of any food here).

Fats

Next and equally important is the fat intake of our diet. In the common Western diet, it’s very easy to get certain fats, especially omega-6 fats, saturated fats, and trans fats. The issue, however, is in the ratio of these fats with the healthy fats required for our bodies to function. 

Our bodies produce neither omega-6 or omega-3, which means that we need to get them from our diet. Omega-6 sources include plant oils and factory-farmed animals, while omega-3 comes from fish and their oils, as well as some seeds. 

We ideally need a 1:1 ratio between the two omega’s. These two fats compete for space in our cells, which means that the amount of intake is not as important as the ratio between the two. The average Westerner’s ratio is around 1:20 omega-6 to omega-3 respectively. To equalize the ratio between the two, we need to introduce more omega-3 fats into our diet regularly. This is where fish oil supplements come into action. You should be getting 2-4mg of the DHA and EPA (omega-3’s) present in fish oil supplements.

Saturated fats are those we typically get from animal fats and I want to stress that these are good fats when in moderation and from grass-fed animals. Trans fats are vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated for a better shelf-life, and are typically used by fast food chains for cooking their food. Both saturated fats and trans fats can work against the anti-inflammatory efforts of omega-3 fats and should be present in the diet in limited amounts.

If you want to learn more about fats, which to eat, and in what quantities, check out my Fierce Program designed for women. 

Action Plan

Here’s the quick and dirty for reducing inflammation:

  • Eat less carbs with a high GI (breads, pasta, potatoes, etc.) and more carbs with low GI (vegetables).
  • Incorporate more omega-3 into your diet through eating fish or by taking a fish oil supplement.
  • Avoid trans fats always.
  • Opt for grass-fed animal sources whenever possible.

Need help determining if you're being plagued by inflammation as a result of your nutrition? Contact me and let's set up a free consultation. 

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I'm Sick - Can I Still Workout?

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I'm Sick - Can I Still Workout?

That cold going around has finally caught up to you and you're trying to decide if you can manage a workout and "sweat it out" or if it's best to stay home and rest. I hear this question all the time from clients, or see them pushing through an hour of working out that may be better spent resting in bed. Here's a quick guide to help you make the best call.

Strenuous exercise can sometimes can too much stress on the body when the immune system is already weak. Prolonged vigorous exercise is often enough to temporarily weaken the immune system. Things like marathons or training sessions longer than an hour, cause the immune system to weaken naturally as the body recuperates. Moderate and resistance training on the other hand strengthens the immune system over time (when it is healthy to begin with). But what about when the body is already under the stress of a fighting immune system? 

My rule of thumb for my clients is that low intensity exercise (walking, jogging, swimming, yoga, etc.) are okay while you're sick. If you have a fever, it's typically best to take the time that you would otherwise use working out to rest. A fever is the immune system's way of heating your body above its normal temperature to kill off whatever found its way inside that is making you sick. Let your immune system army work against the illness, rather than distract it with your fatigued muscles and high heart rate. 

Let your symptoms guide you. If you feel like your head might explode from congestion, it's probably not going to be in your best interest to increase the need to breathe harder. Likewise, if you're feeling energized, take a walk and get outside. The low intensity exercise will help boost your immune system to get back to normal. 

Other symptoms to watch out for that indicate you need rest, not a workout include:

  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Overall fatigue

If you find that you're getting sick more and more often, consider that you may be overtraining. When you feel a cold coming on, refer to our tips to avoid and cure illnesses holistically. Take the time your body is asking for to repair itself and come back strong once you are well. 

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The Great Coffee Debate

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The Great Coffee Debate

To drink coffee or not to drink coffee.. That is the question.

You've probably heard at some point in time that coffee is bad for you. Maybe you're a coffee addict and you can't to kick the habit and frankly you don't want to. As a big coffee lover, I wanted to discuss the pro's and con's of coffee and caffeine. The story and research isn't quite as one-sided as you might think.

When we consider nutrition and our diets, we must look look at them from a very bio-individual perspective. This means that what may work for my diet, may not work for you. This cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to coffee and caffeine consumption. Some people can consume several cups of coffee per day to maintain alertness and concentration, while still sleeping soundly through the night and maintain regular health. Others are sensitive to caffeine and the resulting alertness is discomforting. Some face digestive discomfort from the introduction of coffee to the diet. Even for those who enjoy coffee and do not notice any immediate negative effects, many experience adrenal fatigue. 

So where do you fall? Here's a quick breakdown of some of the health benefits and consequences of coffee to consider.
 

Health benefits of coffee

  1. Alertness - Even low doses of caffeine have been shown to boost mental performance
  2. Mood - Many people report improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability following small doses of caffeine (250 mg).
  3. Concentration - Studies suggest that caffeine can help you perform a variety of tasks at a faster rate.
  4. Performance - There is a lot of research currently being conducted surrounding the use of caffeine by athletes to increase performance and prolong the effects of fatigue. Caffeine decreases the use of glycogen stores during a workout up to 50%, allowing for longer durations of exercise. 
  5. Diabetes prevention - Coffee contains minerals and antioxidants that help prevent diabetes by stimulating muscles to burn fat and sugar more efficiently. 
  6. Antioxidants - The antioxidants in caffeine help to stabilize free radicals and stop them from doing damage. These phytonutrients can reduce tumor cells. 
  7. Disease Prevention - Caffeine keeps dopamine molecules active, preventing diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s according to researchers at Harvard. 


Health concerns of coffee

  1. Cardiovascular problems - Just four cups of caffeine can raise blood pressure for several hours, which is a factor correlated to cardiovascular disease. Making the heart work harder and pump faster can lead to “burn out.”
  2. Stress - Typically we consume coffee and caffeine at the beginning of the day, which causes stress hormones to be released to get the body moving at full speed. By decreasing or removing caffeine, we can lower the stress hormones in the body
  3. Emotional distress - When more than 2 grams of caffeine is introduced in the body, the heart is stimulated and blood vessels dilate, leading to increased blood pressure and breathing. These reactions to the caffeine tend to cause irritability, restlessness, insomnia and agitation.
  4. Gastrointestinal problems - For some, coffee and caffeine can cause the stomach muscles to contract, leading to bowel movements. This can be troublesome for those with irritable bowel syndrome. 
  5. Nutritional deficiencies - Caffeine inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and can lead to the urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
  6. Reproductive concerns - Caffeine has varying effects of the reproductive system of both sexes. In men, urinary and prostate problems can be reduced by eliminating caffeine and coffee from the diet. In women, breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage and menopause are exacerbated by caffeine.
  7. Adrenal fatigue - Caffeine is a stimulant that binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. This leads to a range of reactions, which causes an increase of stimulation of the adrenal glands. This can lead to vulnerability to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue. Some of the most common symptoms include low blood sugar, heart palpitations, excessive mood responses after eating carbohydrates, dizziness and light-headedness upon standing. 

 

Ask yourself these questions to determine if consuming coffee is the right choice for you:

Do you currently drink coffee or some form of caffeine? 
How does your stomach feel after drinking coffee? Do you have any immediate digestive issues following your consumption? 
Are you drinking coffee out of habit or for energy?
Have you experimented with other energy sources in the morning? 
Are you drinking more than 3 cups of coffee per day?
Are you able to sleep soundly?
Do you experience any of the symptoms mentioned for adrenal fatigue? 

 

My biggest recommendation for coffee drinkers is to drink your coffee without added sugars first and foremost. Drinking your coffee black or with added fats (grassfed butter, coconut oil, MCT oils) is the best way to ensure that you are not unintentionally harming yourself. By adding fats to your coffee, you're not only adding some flavor, but also providing yourself with a morning dose of fat to fuel your brain. 

If you think you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue, send me a message at deidre@always-growing.com. We can discuss your concerns and conduct tests to determine a plan of action to make sure your inflammation and adrenals are under control. 

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Tips for Healthy Eating on a Busy Schedule

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Tips for Healthy Eating on a Busy Schedule

Life is busy. Between work, school, friends, family, and getting everything tackled throughout the week, our nutrition can fall to the wayside if we don't make it a priority. Here I'll provide tips and tricks to keeping your nutrition on track no matter the curve balls that come your way.

1. Have a plan. Any goal without a plan in place has a higher chance of failure. In fact, not having a plan in place is the biggest pitfall I see when it comes to my clients reaching their nutrition goals. While you might be able to have strong willpower to avoid non-compliant foods throughout the day, convenience may overwhelm you and cause you to settle on what's readily available. The easiest way to avoid this happening is to have meals and snacks available for your day no matter where you're at. Meal prep is key to have meals to suit your needs as well as avoid picking something based on cravings. Every meal can be prepped ahead of time, or you can prep only the meals you'll need while out of the house and unable to cook. You can also prepare snacks to relieve your cravings between meals. For example, if you get a sweet tooth in the afternoons, you can pack fruit to snack on and satisfy that craving. 

2. As part of your plan, have a schedule in mind. Set aside time once or twice a week to do meal prep. Create a Sunday routine to grocery shop and do meal prep for the week, or for a few days. You can set aside another evening during the week to do additional prep if cooking for the whole week is overwhelming or if you'd like to keeps things fresh and mixed up.  You can also write out a flexible schedule for meals you'd like to cook throughout the week based on what groceries you have available. 

3. Anticipate hanger and have easy back-up snacks ready. Ever get stuck in a long meeting or in traffic on your way home for dinner? How about after a workout when you forgot your protein shake and you're out of prepped food? And then hanger strikes.. Try keeping easy snacks in your car, your desk, your gym locker, or wherever you find you need an extra boost to help keep you on track rather than grabbing a junk food snack to keep moving. Go for foods that don't require refrigeration and can be kept easily for longer durations - cans of nuts, trail mixes, apples, jerky, etc. This way, when you're in a bind you'll have a go-to snack to hold you over without putting junk calories in your body. 

4. Know how to satisfy your cravings. Our body is super smart and knows when we're missing vitamins and nutrients that it needs to function optimally. It's also good at asking us for those nutrients, we just have to know how to provide them properly. The below chart shows cravings we typically experience and what our body could be asking for during those cravings. By using this guide, you can give your body what it's begging for while staying on track. 

Make your nutrition plan work for your busy schedule. By putting a plan in place and having go-to's for staying compliant, you'll be able to put your nutrition first and reach your goals. 

You can’t be committed to your bullshit and to your growth. It’s one or the other.
— Scott Stabile

 

 

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Forget Low-Fat, Eat the Bacon!

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Forget Low-Fat, Eat the Bacon!

For a long time there has been a war on fats, claiming that the intake of fats, particularly saturated fats, leads to weight gain and heart disease. This ideology became popular in the 1970's, leading to the low-fat diet. However, here was not significant proof to uphold these statements that became highly repetitive in the media. Studies over the past few decades have shown that not only are there no difference in weight loss between diets containing fat and those that are low-fat, but low-fat diets can be harmful by leading to increased triglyceride levels and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. Increased weight gain and heart disease have further resulted from these fat restrictions since the replacement for fat in the standard American diet has consisted of simple carbohydrates which are stored as fat in the body. 

So today I want to clear fats' name. In fact, healthy fats could be one of your best allies when it comes to optimizing your nutrition and changing your body composition. 

The amount of fat you should have in your diet varies based on your goals. However, in most cases, you need more fat than you realize. If you'd like to know how much your daily fat intake should be, shoot me an email and I can work with you.

Aren't we trying to reduce body fat? Why do we need fats in our diet? 

  • Every cell in the human body consists of fats for cell walls and membranes, as well as for nutrients transport into and out of cells.
  • Fats also make up hormones and steroids in the body.
  • They allow for important vitamins (such as vitamin D, A, E and K) to be absorbed. 
  • They are also vital for proper brain function. Got brain fog? More fats will likely help.
  • Inflammation is managed through healthy fats such as omega-3's.
  • Most importantly, when the body is in a resting state (aka not exercising) we use fat to fuel our bodies through activities such as sitting, working, and other day-to-day things. If we are not getting adequate fat intake, the body is not conditioned to utilize fats readily available in the digestive system for energy.

Also, fats are delicious. Our brains and bodies are engineered to crave fat. We need it for energy and for functioning properly, so if you're craving meat, chances are your body is asking for not only the protein, but the fat that comes with it.

So where do we get all of the necessary fats from our diet? 

  • Animal meats and fats - These should be your main source of fats since they are naturally occurring
  • Fatty fish - salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter and ghee
  • Nuts and seeds - Almonds, pistachios, cashews, macadamias, chia, flax, etc
  • Fish oils

Not all fats are created equally. Those listed above include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats - the good fats when in moderation. Trans fats are those that can be dangerous to your health, particularly cholesterol levels. These fats are known to be hydrogenated, meaning they are combined with hydrogen gas to create a longer shelf life. 

Here are a few common foods trans fats are found in:

  • Commercially baked products - cookies, cakes, crackers, bread, doughs
  • Packaged snack foods - chips, candy, crackers
  • Solid fats - stick margarine, vegetable shortening
  • Fried foods - french fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets
  • Pre-mixed products - cake and pastry mix, pancake and waffle mix
  • Anything containing "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredients

Check the ingredients of the products you buy. All hydrogenated ingredients contain trans fats, and restaurants often use partially hydrogenated fats to cook food. If possible, ask that your food be prepared with olive oil.

So many clients are shocked when I tell them that bacon can be included in their diet. It's as simple as this - buy quality bacon! Bacon is a natural protein and happens to have a decent amount of fat contained in each serving - natural fat that is. Buy bacon that doesn't contain sugar in particular. Just like you should be for everything you buy, check the ingredients and make sure that the bacon contains quality ingredients and zero sugar. Then enjoy that delicious natural animal fat! 

 

 

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