Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Okay, so let’s start here: There’s a reason that every diet you try works at first…then completely backfires and you gain more weight.  That reason is what we are going to focus on in this post and it’s a total game changer.

That reason ISN’T that your body is somehow different, or that you don’t have enough willpower to stay away from the chips at 9pm every night.  It’s that you aren’t eating the right foods.

You aren’t eating the foods that support the hormonal state of fat loss.  It’s that simple (simple….not necessarily easy).  I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  Learning how food works and how to use that to hit your goals is a HUGE game changer, and so that’s exactly what you’re going to learn about today.

So let’s figure out if you’re in the right place.  If this method is going to work for you the way it did for me and does for my clients.

My method, my way of eating is not going to be for everyone.  It’s for a very specific group of people who have tried EVERYTHING.  People who have spent the time, logged the hours and also spent a small fortune on dieting and supplements and all of the things out there, but have never been able to make it work for real life.  So let’s spend a bit of time and figure out if your’e in the right place.

#1.  NOTHING is working.  You’re still gaining or maintaining no matter how little you eat.

So if you’re making the same mistake I was, then you’re definitely in the right place.  I thought that the less I ate and the more I exercised the skinnier I would get.  I thought it was as simple as calories in minus calories out.  As long as the calories out were bigger I’d lose weight.  I was soooooo wrong.

I learned that calories were a very small part to a very big picture.  You see it’s not JUST about calories.  Whether you burn or store fat is determined by hormones NOT by energy in vs energy out.  Yes that plays a small roll, but the TYPE of energy in is WAY more important because the food you are eating and the particular way it digests is completely integral to setting the stage for the right hormones to be in control.

I learned that starvation mode is a real thing.  Your metabolism literally downregulates when you don’t eat enough.  If you add exercise into that equation you can actually start to GAIN weight since your stress hormones spike (‘cause your body is in TROUBLE).

Think about that.  Are you getting this?  This is IMPORTANT.

#2.  You are in the right place if you are eating healthy, following all the diet rules and STILL not losing weight

Big mistake #2 for me was thinking that healthy food automatically meant weight loss.  This was probably MY biggest mistake, and the most frustrating because I felt like I was doing everything RIGHT.  I was eating ridiculously ‘healthy’ foods and still stuck feeling fat, exhausted and like I was missing out on all the things I loved like wine & chocolate.  It was seriously frustrating!  We’re going to spend some time on this, because it’s a HUGE gap in the industry and in any other ‘diet’ you’ve tried.

#3 You are in the right place if you crave carbs every single day and your willpower is just not enough.  If at the end of the day you’ve got nothing left to avoid those chips or popcorn or whatever your guilty pleasure is. 

This is one of the biggest diet fails for everyone I’ve worked with.  The belief that it’s NORMAL to have to avoid certain foods using willpower, and success depends on the strength of our willpower.  When I learned that cravings actually had a physiological basis. That I craved carbs because my blood sugar was unbalanced and my body was desperately trying to achieve balance, my mind was blown.  I still didn’t really believe it.   Now I KNOW that it’s true, because the carb cravings really do disappear when your blood sugar becomes balanced.  I see it happen time and time again and honestly I’m always a little blown away.

Now isn’t that mind-blowing?  All of this time spent thinking that these cravings were all about your mood and your likes/dislikes, when there is something so basic and easily controlled driving them?  Can you imagine how good it feels to finally be in control of cravings?

Finally….you are in the right place if you are so sick and tired of the B.S. out there.

You don’t ACTUALLY even believe that anything will work anymore but you haven’t completely given up yet.  That’s why you’re reading this.  No matter how sick and tired of it all you are – you still want to lose weight and there is no shame in that.

So if after reading about my big mistakes you’re still here and ready to learn, that means that  you know you’re in the right place.  I’d love to hear from you-which one resonated the most?  I told you that for me it was believing that healthy foods were also great for weight loss….ummmmmmmm nope.  Comment on this post and let me know!

Now I want to say something that I consider to be a major truth. It was DEFINITELY the truth in my case, and it is for most of my clients.  What you ‘know’ about dieting is totally wrong…

Your cravings and impulses for junk food are NOT emotional…they’re physiological.  Until we understand what’s going on in our bodies when we eat specific foods, we are setting ourselves up to fail over and over again.  Now I don’t know about you, but I find that really really frustrating.  It feels like everything you’ve done has been so wasted, and yet the truth of it is so much easier than the restrictions or the supplements that are constantly thrown at us.

The secret to how food works, is making sense of macronutrients (Fat/Protein/Carbs) and how they work in our bodies.   In my program The Faster Fat Burn Method, you will learn how certain foods affect your hunger and fat loss.  Let’s move on to the three steps, or the 3 secrets to faster fat loss without giving up wine or chocolate:

Step 1: You need to completely eradicate the whole willpower myth and you need to understand that it’s not willpower.  It’s the underlying blood sugar and inflammation issues.  Willpower will never ever win against inflammation & unbalanced blood sugar.  That means traditional dieting is setting yourself up to fail.  In order to balance blood sugar we need to pay attention to the three real food groups (macros) and keep them in balance.

Get rid of inflammation.  I was making a critical mistake every other time I attempted to lose weight, and that’s BEFORE I even picked the diet to try.  You see, I was ignoring the fact that I was inflamed and that’s a weight loss killer.  Actually if I’m honest, I wasn’t IGNORING it per se, I didn’t even know inflammation was a thing.  You probably don’t either….or of you do you don’t realize how interconnected inflammation is with fat storage.  It’s pretty crazy so I’m going to start by explaining it.
So what exactly is inflammation?  Inflammation is when your body is reactive & irritated and attempting to flush fluids and resources to an area as a reaction.  Acute inflammation is normal and it’s a process that helps restore balance and healing after an injury or illness.  Chronic inflammation is bad news and is caused very often by the foods we are eating and don’t even realize are irritating to us.  So what does inflammation do?  Well it causes us to be puffy and retain excess fluid which makes us feel (and look) fatter to begin with.  Brutal.  Secondly, it worsens your insulin resistance meaning your body needs to make extra.  Insulin is your fat storage hormone (as you’ll learn in the next step) so this is NOT good.  More insulin = more fat storage.  Inflammation also causes something called leptin to be less effective.  Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full, so when you are inflamed your hunger can be out of control and you never quite feel satisfied.  This of course makes you eat more and since there is so much insulin available to store fat, guess what happens.

If you can get rid of inflammation big things happen.  Bloating goes way down so you feel thinner right away.  Your jeans do up so much easier.  You aren’t puffy.  Being inflamed saps your energy so your energy goes way up!  This is huge for managing those afternoon sugar cravings.  Also-you sleep better and your skin is clearer.  Basically, cleaning up inflammation is a HUGE deal and without doing that you can’t make much progress in lasting fat loss.  Makes sense, right?  So how do we do that?  What’s the trick to losing fat without willpower?  We get blood sugar & inflammation caused by our diets under control BEFORE we start a fat loss program.  Boom, inflammation managed.  So that’s step 1.  Deal with the blood sugar & inflammation FIRST so you start out with big wins like inches down, bloat gone and energy up and THEN start the fat loss.

Step 2 is to flip the switch over to fat burning mode by changing up the hormones in charge.  Fat is being stored or released according to hormones.  There are so many hormones and factors that work together with fat storage or release, but we’re just going to focus on the two main hormonal players to keep it simple.

Let’s first talk a little bit about how fat actually works.  Fat evolved as a way for us to survive periods of famine, right?Basically, when we evolved we were generally in a situation where food was available all the time OR we were in a situation where no food was available.  Because our bodies are smart and adaptive, they figured out a way to take the energy from food when it was readily available, and store it away for when it wasn’t.  The solution was fat cells.  Your body uses fat cells as storage lockers to put away extra energy.

So in order to store energy, your body relies on hormones calling the shots.  Insulin is a power hormone.  It’s released from the pancreas in response to sugar entering the blood & moves the sugar (glucose) from the blood to the cells to use for energy.  Insulin tells the liver to store excess sugar as glycogen.  When glycogen stores max out, it tells the liver to convert excess sugar to fat so the body can store it for use later.

Glucagon is the other power player.  Glucagon acts directly opposite to insulin & is responsible for breaking down stored fat & carbohydrates and using them for energy.  Glucagon and insulin are counterparts, which means when insulin is high, glucagon is low and vice versa

This is huge.  The type of foods you eat directly impacts whether insulin or glucagon is high.  The TYPE of food you eat is directly responsible for either building up those storage lockers OR for helping to empty them.

This is BIG, right?  Like calories are NOT the be all and end all.  Calories have no impact on these hormones.  Isn’t this great information?  Don’t you find this just mind blowing after all of those years of counting calories, and only reading the calorie component of the label?  I know I sure did and I honestly still do.

So things should be making a little more sense now, they should be coming together and you should be able to start to see that healthy foods, quote unquote, may not be healthy for every goal.

Let’s use a few examples.  This first one is unrelated to fat loss, but it’s a really good illustration of this point.  So kale is healthy, right?  It’s a superfood, right?  I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.  What about for someone who has severe IBS?  For that person, kale is actually extremely UNHEALTHY because it’s so rough. It actually irritates the intestine and causes a flare up in a ton of people.  So yes, kale is healthy.  It has all these vitamins and minerals and fiber BUT it’s not healthy for Joanna who has severe IBS or IBD.  Make sense?

Okay this one really hits home.  Oatmeal is healthy, right?  Steel cut oats?  Lots of B vitamins, fiber?  Sure.  But is oatmeal great for fat loss?  Mainly carbs, no fat leading to blood sugar instability and even potentially inflammation (grains can be super irritating).  In this case, I’d say no.  So…healthy food but NOT ideal for the current goal.

You need to use this lens to look at all of the ‘healthy’ foods that you’ve been eating, thinking they support fat loss.  You also need to look through this lens at the quote unquote unhealthy foods you’ve been avoiding.  Make sense?

We now have inflammation managed so we can start to see actual fat loss.  After that we moved on to hormonal fat burning and using the right foods to make sure that happens.  Step 3 is to stop sabotaging ourselves by falling for the latest or even oldest fad diets.  I’m going to tell you something-weight loss on these diets is almost always due to calorie restriction.  Calorie restriction is dangerous because your body can’t keep it up forever, so eventually it has to end.  Also, when you restrict your calories, your metabolism falls suit and declines over time.  When you start eating a regular amount of food again, it doesn’t just come back up.  This is what the rebound weight gain effect is so huge.

Now we’ve been through a LOT of information here, so I want to quickly recap the 3 steps to faster fat loss for you, so it’s not all muddled.

  1.  Reduce inflammation and start to balance blood sugar to get rid of cravings and start fat loss.
  2. Flip the metabolic switch to fat burning mode by using the right macros.  Create balanced meals so blood sugar is stable and the fat burning hormones are in the driver’s seat.
  3. Avoid the biggest problem most people have: calorie restriction.  Make sure you’re eating enough.

So what I’ve done is I’ve put all of that information that I just shared with you, into an online program.  Its called  The Faster Fat Burn Method, and what The Faster Fat Burn Method is, is a way for us to work together, a way for you to implement everything you’ve just learned in this post over the next 12 weeks and beyond.  Click Here to learn more!

5 Natural Ways to Deal with Bloating

Do you ever feel a bit “overextended” in the belly after a meal? Perhaps “gassy?” Have you ever carried a “food baby?”  Well, bloating is common. Up to 25-30% of people experience it regularly. It happens when you have trouble digesting. The symptoms come from excess gas, reactions to foods, or food not moving through you as well as it could.  There are many reasons you might experience these symptoms. Maybe because of a serious condition (disease), or a food allergy or intolerance (what you eat). It can also result from how you eat.

If you have a serious digestive issue like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), then make sure you eat accordingly. Same goes if you know certain foods give you gas. Simply avoid them.  If you’re already doing those things, and still experience bloating, here are some great tips for dealing with it naturally.

1 – Don’t overeat

If you overeat at a meal, then you’ll feel bigger around the mid-section. You’ll feel more pressure in your abdomen. Plus, you’re giving your digestive system a hard time. It’s better to eat until you feel almost full and not overindulge. Grab an extra snack or small meal throughout the day if you have to. Just don’t over-stuff yourself in one sitting.

2 – Avoid sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. In an ingredients list, they end in “-ol,” and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods. Some people experience bloating after eating foods with these. So, try avoiding them and see if that helps you.

3 – Avoid swallowing air

Sometimes the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system is from swallowing air. Things like carbonated drinks are the biggest culprit here. You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, so try ditching these.  You can also swallow air when eating too quickly or while talking. Which leads me to…

4 – Eat slower, more mindfully, and less stressed

Eating too fast isn’t doing your digestive system any favors. You can help the food move along by chewing it thoroughly and slowing down your eating habits. Be mindful and enjoy the time you are spending eating your meals. Savor them.

The feeling of stress can also cause increased bloating. Stress-reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. Try meditating or deep breathing (but not while you’re eating). 🙂  You can (and should), however, take three deep breaths BEFORE starting to eat your meal.  It helps to center you, reduce stress and is the starting point of mindful eating.  It gives you a moment to look at your food and feel grateful or excited to eat it.  Additionally, if you start your meal with three deep breaths, you are more likely to eat more slowly allowing you to eat less.  If eating less causes anxiety (it did for me), just save what you don’t eat.  You can have it in an hour or two.  I promise, it will be ok.

5 – Try Biome Medic

If your bloating is accompanied by poor digestion, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, weight gain etc. it may be linked to poor gut health.  We all know that most of our food is sprayed with pesticides and almost all corn, soy and wheat products in the US are genetically modified.  Biome Medic is the first and only organic, non-GMO product that

1. REMOVES the toxic chemical glyphosate from your microbiome
2. SUPPORTS the “good” bacteria to boost your immunity
3. REBUILDS the gut villi for better nutrient absorption, digestion and weight loss

My family and I love this product.  My readers can use code: CoachMarisol for a $50 discount on their first order.  Do yourself a favor and get on it!

6 – Try peppermint

Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try steeping fresh peppermint leaves, or a peppermint tea bag, and drinking it slowly. See if that helps reduce your symptoms.

 

Conclusion

There are a bunch of natural ways to deal with bloating.  First, avoid it by not eating things that give you gas or aggravate a digestive issue. Try not to overeat, consume sugar alcohols, or swallow air. Also, eating more mindfully and reducing stress can help too. Finally, if you are experiencing bloating along with other symptoms like exhaustion, skin breakouts, and/or joint pain, try the newest superfood product to hit the market: Biome Medic.  Here’s a quick 4 minute video packed with information to help you care for you and your family’s health.

If you do all of these, and still experience bloating, then you may have a food intolerance; this could be from an allergy or intolerance. If you have a major concern, then please see your doctor. Your doctor can help to rule out a serious and/or chronic condition.

 

Recipe (peppermint): Peppermint Mocha Creamer

1 can coconut milk

½ cup almond milk, unsweetened

2 tbsp cacao powder, unsweetened

½ tsp peppermint extract or essential oil (food-grade and safe for internal use)

3 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)

 

Instructions:  Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.  Store in a sealed container in your fridge.  Serve & enjoy!

Tip: While the non-peppermint ingredients in this creamer may or may not be “de-bloating” for you, try these ideas too:

  • Grow peppermint yourself;
  • Chew on the fresh leaves; and/or
  • Steep them for tea.

 

References:

https://www.jenreviews.com/bloating/

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/how-to-get-rid-of-bloating/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fix-gut-fix-health

The True Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercise. It can improve your health on all levels. We’re not just talking about being fitter and stronger. We’re talking about overall health and longevity.  Regular exercise improves your heart health, brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and arthritis. Beyond those, it also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep. And exercise prevents death from any cause (“all cause mortality”).

Convinced yet?  The benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation and blood sugar levels. They come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and pulling on your bones.  You don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough.  And you don’t have to do a particular kind of exercise. All four types of exercise have health benefits. They are:

  • Endurance (brisk walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, aerobics, cycling, swimming)
  • Strength (climbing stairs, carrying groceries, lifting weights, using a resistance band or your body weight, Pilates)
  • Balance (standing on one foot, Tai Chi)
  • Flexibility (stretching, yoga)

Don’t forget, all exercise counts, even if you’re not doing a sport or in a gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store and doing household chores also count towards your weekly exercise goal.  Let me take a minute to prove to you how healthy exercise really is. Here are a few key points.

Exercise for heart health

Exercise reduced cardiac mortality by 31% in middle aged men who previously had a heart attack.  Regular exercise reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure).

Exercise for brain health

Exercise can improve physical function and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease. It also reduces changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise improved mental functions by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is involved in learning and memory. It also increases the size of the part of the brain for memory and learning (the “hippocampus”); this was shown mostly with aerobic exercise.

Exercise for muscle and bone health

Regular physical activity can help maintain strong muscles and bones; this is particularly true for strength exercises. As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass and bone density. So, to prevent osteoporosis, exercise regularly.  PRO TIP: And don’t forget that balance exercises and Tai Chi can help prevent falls.

Exercise for diabetes

People with diabetes who exercise have better insulin sensitivity and HbA1C values (the marker of glycemic control).  Exercise does this because by contracting your muscles, you’re fueling them with sugar in your blood. This helps to manage blood sugar levels better than without exercise.

Conclusion

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits of exercise.  By doing just 30 minutes 5 days/week, you can vastly improve your health. Since there are different benefits for different types, try mixing up what you do throughout the week. You don’t even need an “official” workout. Walking to the grocery store or doing household chores can count too.

If you’re just starting, then pick something you enjoy, get some accountability (exercise tracker or a buddy), and start.  What’s your favorite exercise and how often do you do it?

Recipe (exercise recovery): Coconut Water Refresher

Serves 2

1 cup coconut water

2 cups watermelon

½ tsp lime juice

1 dash salt

1 cup ice

2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Instructions: Blend the first four ingredients until well mixed. Add ice and pulse until ice is crushed.  Pour into glasses or water bottle and add chia seeds. Shake/stir before drinking.  Serve & enjoy!  Tip: The chia seeds add extra fiber, protein, and omega-3s.

 

References:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFBBjynBpSw&t=3s

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-benefits-of-exercise/

https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Fracture/prevent_falls_ff.asp

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/exercise-is-good-for-diabetes

https://authoritynutrition.com/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/healthy-movement

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity

How Much Sugar is Too Much?

It’s official! Organizations and governments are (finally) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake.  While this is a step forward, there are still a few problems. One – they don’t all agree with each other. And, two, I don’t necessarily agree with them either.

We all know sugar is NOT a health food. It isn’t full of nutrition, and excess consumption is not associated with great health.

The problem is that sugar is everywhere. It’s naturally occurring. It’s also added to just about every processed food there is. And this “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases we see today. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. Too much sugar is a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it.  So let’s talk about how much sugar is “too much.”

Added sugar vs. naturally occurring sugar. What do some of the officials say?

Before we talk about the “official” numbers (and why I don’t agree with them), you need to know the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.

Fruit and other healthy whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risks of many chronic diseases.

“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are concerning. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 25,000 deaths per year were due to sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked goods, candies, soups, sauces and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list as many names, often ending in “-ose.” These include glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc.

So, “Total sugars” = “Naturally occurring sugars” + “Added sugars.”

The “official” change is the new Nutrition Facts tables. You may remember that in Canada and the USA, they declare the amount of sugar, but don’t give it a %DV (% daily value); this means, they’ve never had a “benchmark” maximum daily value to use. They haven’t declared how much is too much. Now, both countries are implementing a %DV for sugar.

In Canada, the %DV is based on 100 g/day of total sugar. Unfortunately, this number is large because it includes both naturally occurring and added sugars. The %DV is in-line with the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation’s recommendations of no more than 90 g of total sugars per day.

In 2008, the average daily total sugar intake in the USA was 76.7 grams per day; this is less than these two benchmarks. Yet, it doesn’t seem that people are getting healthier.  I’d argue that 100 g per day total sugar is still too high.

In the USA, the labels are changing too. They are not declaring “total” sugars but will differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars. They have decided on a maximum of 50 g of “added” sugars each day. Unfortunately, this is still more than the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum of 24 g/day added sugar for women, and 36 g/day added sugar for men.

What is a better daily sugar goal?

While these official numbers are a step in the right direction, they’re not what I would recommend.  For one thing, I’d ditch as many processed food as possible, regardless of their sugar content. There are a ton of studies that show that processed foods are bad for your health. Period. I wouldn’t recommend eating your “daily value” of sugar from sweetened processed foods. I don’t recommend even 50 g of “added” sugar per day. Get your sugar from whole, unprocessed fruits first.                                                                                                                                    Second, you don’t even need to max out your daily sugar intake. I promise! Try to reduce your sugar intake below these “official” amounts for an even better goal.

Tips to reduce your sugar intake

Here are some of my most popular recommendations to reduce your sugar intake, so you don’t get too much:

  • Reduce (or eliminate) sugar-sweetened beverages; this includes soda pop, sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Instead, have fruit-infused water. Or try drinking your coffee/tea “black” or with a touch of cinnamon or vanilla instead.
  • Reduce (or eliminate) your desserts and baked goods and bake your own instead. You can easily reduce the sugar in a recipe by half. Or try my delicious (no added sugar) dessert recipe below.
  • Instead of a granola bar (or other sugary snack), try fruit, a handful of nuts, or veggies with hummus. These are easy grab-and-go snacks if you prepare them in a “to-go” container the night before.

Let me know in the comments your favorite tips to reduce your sugar intake!

If you are suffering from fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, weight gain, sleeplessness, break outs and/or fat around your belly that’s impossible to hide – too much sugar in your diet may be to blame.  It’s not your fault.  Food companies design food to be highly palatable & hide sugar in it’s various forms in all the processed foods we eat.  You have to be a label detective to understand it sometimes.  Are you over it?  Are you angry?  Do you want to break free from sugar addiction?  Do you want to stop dieting, live a healthy lifestyle and eat delicious food that helps you burn fat?  If so, you can check out my 12 week program here.  It’s a whole foods based approach with lot’s of yummy & easy recipes, tools, and support.  Now for our tasty treat.  See recipe below!

 

Recipe (No added sugar): Frosty

Serves 1

¾ cup almond milk (unsweetened)

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)

½ banana, frozen

Ice cubes

Instructions: Add everything into a blender except ice. Blend.  Add a handful of ice cubes and pulse until thick and ice is blended.  Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Feel free to add  a handful of spinach for added nutrients – don’t worry, you won’t see or taste it!  Frosty not sweet enough?  A squirt of stevia should do the trick!

References:

https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/diet-nutrition/ultimate-guide-deal-sugar-withdrawal/

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-labelling-changes.html?_ga=2.256456139.1337838755.1500915116-364691916.1498677123

https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm#images

http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/healthy-eating/reduce-sugar

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.WXYtbYjys2w

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-sugar-per-day/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/truth-about-sugar

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-break-the-sugar-habit-and-help-your-health-in-the-process

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-spot-and-avoid-added-sugar

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-too-much-added-sugar-increases-the-risk-of-dying-with-heart-disease-201402067021

 

 

Can’t Meditate? Here are 9 Other Ways to Break Free From Stress

I know! Meditation is the secret sauce to take your wellness up to the status of the elite gurus. It’s the “be all, end all” for the health of your entire mind-body-spirit. It’s the absolute must-do that is the only path to beating the infamous health-buster called “stress.”

Don’t get me wrong; practicing meditation is an excellent approach to optimizing your health and overall well-being. Meditation is great for relieving and dealing with stress, and all of the issues that come along with it. But it’s not the only way to get there.  The whole purpose of meditating is to calm the mind and emotions and relax our physical body too. And there is always more than one way to get there.  Let’s talk about some of the other things to try if meditation is not exactly your thing.

Journaling

Spending some time every day writing out your thoughts can help to relieve stress. You can use journaling to list the things you’re grateful for, this is known as gratitude journaling. You can use it as a “brain dump” to get all of your thoughts and ideas out of your head to soothe your mind. You can use “ever since” journaling to describe your life after you reach your goals.  I like to keep pen and paper next to my bed.  When I start thinking about stuff

Reading

It’s one thing to read to learn something that you have to learn, or to advance your knowledge.  You can also read for pure pleasure. To get caught up in a story and just relax is one of my favorite forms of self care!

Coloring

Adult coloring books are all the rage! Not *that* kind of adult, but coloring pages with lots of detail and tiny areas to color in. My favorite ones are the irreverent swear word coloring books – I know they’re not for everyone but sometimes you just have to swear! They’re so funny and satisfying and they can take hours. You can always opt for something simple, like kids coloring pages too. The idea is the same. Repeated movements and focusing on the art you’re creating can help to clear your mind.

Knitting or crocheting (or other crafts)

Knitting, crocheting or other yarn activities are a great way to de-stress; this is a skill that comes in all levels from beginner to advanced. You can choose a quick little rectangular scarf to make, or a detailed sweater. You can choose the pattern, size, and yarn. Once you get into the flow of these skills, they’re great to do when you’re feeling stressed. Not only can they relax your mind to focus on your work, but you can end up warming yourself or others with the products you create.

Gentle exercise

Gently moving your body is another great way to de-stress. Activities that are slower and less intensive are ideal. Things like walking, yoga, stretching, or tai chi can all be great ways to relax your mind and improve your strength and balance at the same time.

Sleep in or take a nap

A common cause of increased stress hormones is lack of sleep. Too little sleep and too much stress go hand-in-hand. So, getting enough good quality sleep is important to help you break free from stress without having to meditate.  Try diffusing calming essential oils to create a relaxing environment for a nap.  One of my tricks to falling asleep is to read something that’s mentally challenging or boring.  It tires my brain out and I fall asleep pretty quickly.  Need a little more help?  This is my favorite all-natural, organic, non GMO supplement.  It’s changed my life – seriously!  If you choose to try it, you’ll get a $50 discount at checkout.  You’re welcome!

Pamper yourself

Maybe you love getting massages or mani/pedi’s? Maybe you love a long bath or lighting candles? Perhaps you can add your favorite relaxing music to the mix for a pampering evening? Spending some time to pamper yourself regularly is great for your mind, body, and spirit.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, progress muscle relaxation and even humming – yes humming can help you relax.  For more in depth info and step by step instructions to implement these techniques, check out this article from my friend John Parrott at RelaxLikeaBoss.com.

Spend time in nature

This is my all time favorite way to de-stress.  You don’t have to head away for vacation to relax in nature. While a calm beautiful beach or cabin in the woods may be amazing, you don’t have to go that far. Even spending time on the grass at your local park or playground, or walking on a wooded trail in your neighborhood can do the trick.  Luckily I’m in Los Angeles where hiking trails and beaches are abundant.

Make time for people and pets you love

It’s so important to spend time with family, friends, and pets whom you love. New research is coming out about the health issues related to loneliness. Reach out and plan to hang out with your besties, or even offer to take your neighbor’s dog for a walk in the park (I’ve done this).

Try a Natural and effective Product to Aid You

Feel like you need a natural organic, non-GMO superfood product to help calm your nerves and really relax?  From Chill Sprays to Leafy Greens Powders to Calming Enzymes, we’ve got plenty of pure, premium options to fit your needs.  This bundle is awesome for boosting your mood and helping you to relax.  Click Here for additional tips and effective products to try.  Use code CoachMarisol for a $50 discount on your first order! Woohoo!

Get to know a professional

Sometimes your stress cannot be healed by simple strategies like the ones mentioned above.  In these cases, reaching out to a professional can do you good.  There are many options available – psychologists and therapists are two to name a couple.  What’s the difference?  Click Here to check out a great post by Better Health so you can make the best choice for your needs.

 

Conclusion

Stress reduction is the goal. How you do it, be it meditation, supplements or otherwise, is not that important. What’s important is that you find what works for you.  Try journaling, gentle exercise, improving your sleep, spending time in nature, and reaching out to a professional to make the time you deserve for yourself.

Have other great ideas? Let me know what helps you de-stress in the comments below.

 

Recipe (calming): Lavender Essential Oil

Instructions to inhale directly: Add up to 6 drops of undiluted essential oil to a handkerchief/tissue and inhale occasionally. Use up to 3 times per day.

Instruction for steam inhalation: Add 3 – 12 drops of undiluted essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Inhale slowly and deeply for 5 – 10 minutes. Use up to 3 times per day.

Tip: Lavender isn’t the only calming essential oil. You can also use angelica, balsam, benzoin, bitter orange, cedarwood, celery, chamomile, cornmint, cumin, curry, frankincense, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, labdanum, laurel, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, palmarosa, parsley, patchouli, peppermint, rose, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, scotch pine, spearmint, star anise, sweet basil, sweet orange, thyme, or ylang ylang.

 

References:

http://relaxlikeaboss.com/relaxation-techniques/

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/what-is-the-difference-between-a-therapist-and-a-psychologist/

https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/pain-relief/one-guide-natural-stress-relievers/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/getting-control-stress

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-power-and-prevalence-of-loneliness-2017011310977

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/do-essential-oils-work/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=aromatherap&lang=eng

 

 

Need a Mood Boost? Eat This.

No question that what you eat can affect how you feel, right?  Combine that with the emotional ties we have to the holidays and we can either sore through them with energy and happiness or we can get stressed out and feel down in the dumps.

Mental health and brain health are complex. So are the foods we eat, and the ways our bodies interact with those foods.  While, we don’t know the exact mechanisms how food and nutrition help, we know a few ways food impacts our moods.

We know that the wrong kinds of food can affect our physical being…but did you know they can also affect our mental and emotional one? Although, the different and special vitamins and minerals in certain health foods may be able to support a more positive mood if eaten often enough.

First, what we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate (ever heard of serotonin?). They are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.

Second, what we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings. Let’s talk about mood-boosting and mood-busting foods.

Mood-boosting foods

Some nutrient deficiencies look like mental health problems; this includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium. So, getting enough vitamins, minerals, (and other things like antioxidants) are key. These nutrients not only reduce inflammation but also fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies. Including those that create neurotransmitters. So make sure you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.  Berries and dark leafy greens in particular help fight the depression.  There are molecules in berries that show positive effects on mood.  And dark leafy greens have powerful immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.

Also pay special attention to vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), as it’s not naturally occurring in too many foods. Selenium is an essential mineral found in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.

Second, make sure you get enough protein. Protein is your body’s main supply of amino acids. Amino acids are very important for mood issues because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating small amounts of protein with every meal; this includes dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, and meat.  If you’re on the go, a clean protein shake can help.  Here’s my favorite.

Third, complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and quinoa are great too. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone). So, if you want to relax, try these in the evening.

Fourth, fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae) are also mood-boosting. Omega-3s are definitely “brain food” and may help to ease some symptoms.  A heavenly breakfast, lunch or snack is avocado slices wrapped with lox – yum!

FUN FACT: One study showed that giving one multi-vitamin and one omega-3  fish oil tablet per day to prison inmates reduced the incidence of violent behavior by 50%!

Last but not least, make sure you’re hydrated. Mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.  When drinking water isn’t enough, make sure you have clean sources of electrolytes – sports drinks don’t cut it.  They are full of artificial sweeteners, colors and chemical additives.  If you want to try a pure, organic, non GMO source of nature’s electrolytes – this is my favorite.

Mood-busting foods

You won’t be surprised to hear me say processed foods are mood-busters, right? One study suggests that eating a lot of processed foods devoid of nutrients can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent! This is on top of the research that shows nutrient deficiencies can look like mental health problems.

“But it makes me feel good!”

Yes, some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily. Some big food companies study how to maximize the “pleasure” centers with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the color, texture, and taste; they can light up our taste buds and make us feel good… for now.  A few other things to avoid are:

  • Alcohol (nervous system depressant)
  • Caffeine (may worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep)
  • Sugar (messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation).

 

Conclusion

Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits; and, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. If you need a mood boost, stick to minimally processed nutrient-dense whole foods. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (including leafy greens), nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. Avoid common mood-busting foods like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

Do you have more than just a “bad mood”?  If you are suffering from depression, altering your diet with the tips mentioned above will be helpful but understanding what depression is and accessing valuable information for different treatment options is vital.  My friends at Be-Healthy have amazing resources for you.  Click Here to read  their post with more detailed information on additional diet tips, the meaning of and treatment options for depression.

And remember, sometimes “feel good” junk foods, only make you feel good temporarily. So, try my recipe for fruit salad, below.

Recipe (mood boosting): Fruit Salad

Serves 6-8

1-2 cups pineapple

1-2 cups cantaloupe, cubed

1-2 cups blueberries, fresh

1-2 cups blackberries, fresh

1-2 cups green or red grapes, sliced in half

fresh chopped mint (optional)

Instructions: Place all fruit in a large bowl and gently toss.

Serve & enjoy!  Tip: Substitute or add any ready-to-eat fruit, like chopped peaches,  raspberries, apples etc.

 

References:

https://behealthy.today/food-for-depression/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-and-mood

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-to-fight-depression-naturally-with-nutrition

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/foods-increase-happiness/

https://blog.puriumcorp.com/2016/05/27/how-foods-affect-your-mood/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create a Stress Free Holiday

The holidays are here – a time of year that’s known for its busy nature that can lead to quite the load of stress.  After all, we just celebrated Thanksgiving (you’re either recuperating from traveling, cooking, housing guests etc.), you likely have several invitations to parties and events collecting on your counter/email/FB, a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to, and the daunting task of Christmas shopping for everyone on your list.  All of this, on top of your normal every day life.  It can be overwhelming to say the least.

I want to share some of my personal favorite ways to navigate this busy, stressful time of year and make this season a lot more enjoyable, less stressful and a time you will remember with fond memories.

These secret weapons of mine include…

Put forth great effort to be present.  It can be difficult, I understand.  It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook or our email when we have a free moment – do you do the same?  One way I like to dodge this is to leave my electronics in another room.  Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from communicating with your gathered love ones.  When I’m feeling particularly scatter-brained, what really helps ground me is focusing on my senses.  What do I smell?  What do I hear?  What do I feel?  Stopping and thinking through what’s going on around you at that very moment really brings you into the present moment unlike anything else.  It’s a wonderful tool to use to dial in and be present (I especially like to do this when I sit down to a meal) – and is a great tool to use year-round, not just during the holidays!

Give up those expectations.  Remember: Expectations are premeditated resentments – Alcoholics Anonymous.  A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be perfect.  That’d be lovely, of course – but putting your entire extended family in one house is bound to have something go awry.  Therefore, dropping the expectations of perfection will allow you to be prepared for when something may spring up.  There is joy to be found in each situation, so even when things don’t go exactly as planned – spend your energy finding gratitude in your circumstances and enjoying as much of your time as you possibly can.  Tis the season!

My favorite – Find time to move.  It’s incredibly important to keep movement in your schedule, no matter how busy you may feel.  Even if it’s just a brisk walk after lunch or dinner – make it a habit to bundle up in your favorite scarf and winter coat to go for a walk alone to clear your mind, or with someone you enjoy being around.  Be sure that you are getting your time outside in nature, breathing in fresh air, while burning off some calories and keeping your heart rate up.

What are your favorite ways to get some movement in during the cold months?  My favorite way is working out with a group.  It can be hard to not only stay on track but commit to self care this time of year.  Having an appointment in your calendar for a fitness class where your new friends are expecting you, makes it a bit easier to do what may feel like a burden.  Oh, and how good do you feel after?! Having the support of a group during this time makes it even easier to continue to workout on your own, eat healthier and generally elevate your mood.  It really is the best thing I do for myself these days!  Not sure where to start?  Check FB events, Meetp.com or simply google group fitness in your neighborhood.  If you’re in the Los Angeles area and want to join me in a workout with Trainer Ashley Stauffer (first times free!), click here for event info.  Can’t wait to see you there!

Here’s wishing you some stress free weeks leading up to the holidays.  Let me know if any of these tips work for you in the comments below.  If you have any other tips to share I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Group Fitness for Fun and Happiness!

If you’ve never worked out with a group – you’re missing out!  Unlike going it alone, partaking in a group workout provides not only a better and deeper workout, but encouragement and accountability at the same time.  Most group classes are small enough for the trainer to provide individual attention too so you often get the benefits of a private workout with the extra bonuses of being surrounded by like-minded people giving it their all.  I mean, are you really going to quit with 3 minutes left on the clock?  Not if you’re in a group.   I can honestly say that I’ve turned off the workout video with just a few minutes to spare because I was “done”.  Have I ever walked out of a workout class before it was over? Never.  Have I seen others do it?  Not unless there was an unrelated reason for it.

I’m inspired to write this article today because I had the pleasure of working out with RFT (Raw Functional Training) Trainer Ashley Stauffer and her clients in her Wednesday night Boot Camp style class last week.

It felt good to get through a challenging workout while I was being given attention from Coach Ashley and encouragement from the more advanced clients in the group. I got out of my house and -big bonus- got to spend time doing something productive to enhance my well being with other people.  I didn’t know anyone there but when you show up, you’re all there for the same reason.  High fives at the end closed the deal.  I’ll be back next week (perfect pre-Thankgsiving body prep!).

Something you may not know about me – I have two jobs and am also working towards a new Corporate Wellness Certification.  My personal time is limited and my social life is non existent.  I found that although I’m eating healthy, working out, staying on top of my work and studies, I was still missing something.  I’ve been disciplined and have been keeping my head down for a couple of years now.  It’s not easy to admit but my social life needs generating.  I’m not interested in drinking at bars or spending money going out to eat.  As an adult who has been transitioning into a new woman with big goals, I don’t really have many of the same friends that I used to a few years back.  Do I have the time to go out on “blind” friend dates?  No.  Have I tried? Yes…

Something I realized recently, is that showing up for a group workout is very safe and self serving.  It’s safe because you are there to do a predetermined thing (of your choosing) for a specific amount of time and are not committed to socialize or stay late.  If you do connect with the group or an individual, it’s simply because bonds are naturally created as we enjoy working out together and our endorphins are pumping.   At the end of the day, we just did something we love with each other and have something in common.  Now THATS a date!

Coach Ashley taking a breath during our workout!

If you’re needing some motivation or just want to expand your social circle, I encourage you to search some group fitness classes in your neighborhood.  There are many ways to do it and many gyms, studios and trainers offer first time freebies.  If you want to join me this Wednesday, Ashley has provided a free class to You Empowered subscribers.  It’s the perfect way to prep for the indulgence of Thanksgiving.  We’re proactive people right?  Who knows, you may just meet your new best friend there (I think I might have).   In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am sharing what I’m grateful for: My new friendship with Coach Ashley and her generosity in providing my people with a kick-ass workout fro free.   Reply to this post to save your spot!

See you on Wednesday, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Coach Marisol

Water – How Much Do I Really Need to Drink?

Water is essential for life. You can only survive a few days without it. And being hydrated is essential for health. I could argue that water is the most essential nutrient of them all. Water is needed for every cell and function in your body.

Water is a huge part of your blood; it cushions your joints and aids digestion. It helps stabilize your blood pressure and heart beat. It helps to regulate your body temperature and helps maintain electrolyte (mineral) balance. And that’s just a few of its roles.

Dehydration can impair mood and concentration, and contribute to headaches and dizziness. It can reduce your physical endurance, and increase the risk for kidney stones and constipation. Extreme dehydration can cause heat stroke.

So, water is critical for life and health.  But, just as way too little water is life-threatening, so is way too much. As with most things in health and wellness, there is a healthy balance to be reached.  But, there are conflicting opinions as to how much water to drink. Is there a magic number for everyone? What counts toward water intake?  Let’s dive right in.

How much water do I need?

Once upon a time, there was a magic number called “8×8.” This was the recommendation to drink eight-8 oz glasses of water every day;  that’s about 2 liters of water.

Over time, we’ve realized that imposing this external “one size fits all” rule may not be the best approach. Now, many health professionals recommend drinking according to thirst. We have complex hormonal and neurological processes that are constantly monitoring how hydrated we are.  And for healthy adults, this system is very reliable.  Unfortunately for the many who have lived so long without drinking enough water, thirst is not enough.  Our bodies prioritize how we use the water in our bodies.  Signals like headaches and fatigue can become normal and many people do not register this as a need for water.  When we deprive our body cells of water, they start to react differently.  If the water going out of your body doesn’t match the water coming in, you end up with less water in your blood.  Your blood volume drops and it thickens.  Your brain doesn’t get enough blood, meaning it doesn’t get enough oxygen or nutrition.

A good rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces of water per day.  For example, a 160lb person should drink 80oz of water per day.  If you are not used to drinking this much water, you will be running to the bathroom a lot.  Once your body gets used to the water intake, your cells will adapt and you won’t be running to the bathroom as often.

Besides thirst and other signals from your body, pay attention to how dark and concentrated your urine is. The darker your urine, the more effort your body is making to hold on to the water it has. Urine is still getting rid of the waste, but in a smaller volume of water, so it looks darker.

There are a few other things to consider when evaluating your hydration status.  Your water needs are based on age, activity, climate, diet and health concerns.  Water Intake should increase in the following situations:

  • Hot/Humid Temperaturs
  • High Altitude (above 8,200 feet)
  • During Exercise
  • Illness – incidents of fever, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding

So, ditch the “one size fits all” external rule, and pay more attention to your body’s subtle cues for water.  To much water can result in disrupted sleep and mineral imbalances.  Too little water can result in fatigue, hunger, headaches, sugar cravings and confusion.

What counts toward my water intake?

All fluids and foods containing water contribute to your daily needs.  Water is usually the best choice. If you’re not drinking pure water, consider the effects that the other ingredients have on your body. Drinks containing sugar, alcohol, and caffeine will have effects besides hydration. Sugar can mess with your blood sugar balance. Alcohol can make you feel “buzzed.” And caffeine can keep you awake.  Coffee, soda, alcohol and energy drinks are not water.  They contain water, but also contain dehydrating agents.

Also, many foods contain significant amounts of water. Especially fruits and vegetables like cabbage, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, celery, spinach, lettuce, apples, pears, oranges, grapes, carrots, and pineapple. These foods are over 80% water, so they are good sources of hydration.  So, you don’t need to count your plain water intake as your only source of hydration. All fluids and foods with water count.

Conclusion

There is no magic number of the amount of water you need. Everyone is different. Children, pregnant women, elderly people need more.  Episodes of vomiting or diarrhea will also increase your short-term need for more water.  The most important thing is to pay attention to your thirst. Other signs you need more water are dark urine, sweating, constipation, yawning, sleepiness and craving sweet foods.

Water is your best source of fluids but many fruits and vegetables are over 80% water so don’t forget about them.  Let me know in the comments: What’s your favorite way to hydrate?

Tasty hydrating beverages.

Want to boost your hydration and nutrient intake simultaneously?  Check out my FREE Green Smoothie Challenge.  Since discussed how the brain is affected without proper hydration, here’s one of the many delicious recipes you’ll get:

Brain Fuel: Packed with plenty of good fats and fiber to get you thinking good thoughts all day long:  2 cups spinach, 2 cups ripe pears, 1 cup frozen mango, 1/2 avocado, 2 cups water.

Instructions: Place your fruit into the blender with 1-2 cups of filtered water and blend for 25 seconds.  Add your leafy greens and blend until very smooth (30 seconds in a powerful blender and longer if your blender is not as powerful

 

Let me know in the comments: What’s your favorite way to hydrate?

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-water-should-you-drink-per-day/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/water-water-everywhere-2016110310577

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/why-you-should-raise-your-glass-water

 

Paleo Diet 101

You may have heard of the “paleo” diet. It was the world’s most popular diet in 2013.  But what is it? Is it a fad? Is it right for you?  Scientist and “Paleo Mom” Sarah Ballentyne, Ph.D. defines it as:  “The Paleo diet is a nutrient-dense whole foods diet based on eating a variety of quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  It improves health by providing balanced and complete nutrition while avoiding most processed and refined foods and empty calories.”

The name “paleo” is from the “paleolithic” time when earlier humans (thousands of years ago) were hunters and gatherers. It is thought to represent the era of nutrition before agriculture.

What you can (and can’t) eat on the paleo diet

Of course, being a “diet,” paleo has food guidelines. The paleo diet was created to increase the amount of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods; while reducing the number of gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods.  But this doesn’t mean there are only a couple of foods to choose from! There is a pretty wide variety of food to choose from in the paleo diet.

You can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat (including organ meats), seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and spices.

The paleo diet excludes processed and refined foods (e.g. sugar, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, etc.), grains (e.g. wheat, oats, rice, etc.), dairy, and most legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.).

The paleo diet can be thought of as more of a “template,” rather than a strict set of rules.  It’s a diet that seems to be easy to maintain, and with little to no negative side effects. There is no measuring or counting of calories or carbs. And there are plenty of delicious and nutritious foods to choose from.

Many proponents of the paleo diet even encourage experimentation by adding in a few of the (healthy whole) foods on their list of exclusions. High-quality dairy, white rice, or potatoes may be added to less restrictive forms of the paleo diet.

How does the Paleo diet affect health?

Several clinical studies have been done to find out whether there are health benefits of eating this way.  Some of the research has shown that the paleo diet can help with weight loss and belly fat. That alone may be reason enough to give it a try.  Not to mention its effect on several modern-day chronic diseases.  For example, it can improve risk factors for heart disease. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and even reduce symptoms of some autoimmune diseases.  It’s also thought to be “gut-friendly” because it includes a lot of high-fiber foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds), fermented foods (which contain gut-friendly probiotics), as well as being full of nutritious natural foods.

Who should consider a paleo diet?

Some people recommend the paleo diet for those with food intolerances or autoimmune diseases. Those at high risk for heart disease or diabetes may also be good candidates to give the paleo diet a try.  If you react to gluten or lactose, this diet removes them both by eliminating all grains and dairy.

Even if you don’t choose to go paleo, the elimination of added sugars, processed and refined foods can (should?) be a goal to move toward.

Conclusion

The paleo diet is based on what hunters and gatherers ate thousands of years ago. It is a whole-food based, nutrient-dense diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood, and fermented foods.  Science has shown that it can help some people to lose weight, reduce risks of heart disease, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce inflammation.  At the very least, eliminating added sugars, processed, and refined foods are a great goal, even if you decide not to “go paleo.”

Recipe (Paleo): Banana Muffins

Serves 12

3 large eggs

5 mashed bananas

½ cup almond butter

¼ cup coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup coconut flour

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a food processor or stand mixer, blend eggs, bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla.

In a large bowl mix coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add blended wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined.Spoon batter into muffin tins, ¾ full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden.  Serve & enjoy!  Tip: You can top muffins with walnuts before baking.

Need more recipes?  Here’s a massive list of fantastic paleo recipes from Athletic Muscle

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/paleo-diet-meal-plan-and-menu/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/start-here/paleo-diet/

https://authoritynutrition.com/5-studies-on-the-paleo-diet/

https://athleticmuscle.net/paleo-diet-recipes/