Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh

 

45691688 - weighting scales with  measuring tape. diet concept. 3dYou totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you?

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.

I mean, it doesn’t define you (obviously).

 

What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.  Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).

Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”?  The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

THAT is what we’re talking about here.

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).

Yup – that apple!

And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”.  The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is.  It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.

 

Am I an apple or a pear?

It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape.  You can do it right now.

Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category.  Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.

For men the number is 40”.

Of course this isn’t a diagnostic tool.  There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases.  Waist circumference is just one of them.

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

 

Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:

  • Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways.  First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food.  Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
  • Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer.  It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
  • Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
  • Move more. Get some aerobic exercise.  Lift some weights.  Walk and take the stairs.  It all adds up.
  • Stress less. Seriously!  Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
  • Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

 

Recipe (High fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussel SproutsRoasted Brussel Sprouts

Serves 4

  • 1 lb brussel sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • dash salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400F.  In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice.  Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Toss.  Bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K.  You may want to eat them more often.

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-abdominal-fat-and-risk

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/visceral-fat-location

http://www.drsharma.ca/inspiring-my-interest-in-visceral-fat

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-definition/abdominal-obesity/

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/weights-poids/guide-ld-adult/qa-qr-pub-eng.php#a4

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-proven-ways-to-lose-belly-fat/

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-tips-to-lose-belly-fat/

Why is My Metabolism Slow?

 

42267056_sYou may feel tired, cold or that you’ve gained weight.

Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.

You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Why does this happen?

Why do metabolic rates slow down?

 What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.  There are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don’t worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”!  In fact it’s so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  • low thyroid hormone
  • your history of dieting
  • your size and body composition
  • your activity level
  • lack of sleep

We’ll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

 Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right.  But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.  Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

 

Your history of dieting

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When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you’re eating enough whole foods to fuel your body without overdoing it.

 

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one.

However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.

dumbbellTip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

Which leads us to…

Your activity level

cartoon-exerciseAerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’re also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day.  Also, exercise regularly.

 

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

 

 

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

 chocolate-chia-pudding

Serves 4

  •  ½ cup Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups water
  • nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Sliced Banana (optional)
  • Shredded Coconut (optional)
  • Fresh Berries (optional)

 Separate banana slices among 4 dessert bowls or jars (see photo).  Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.

 Add  other ingredients (except Chia Seeds) and blend.  Pour into a bowl and mix in Chia Seeds until combined.  Pour on top of banana slices.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.  Top with berries and/or shredded coconut.

 Serve & Enjoy!

Tip: Blend in your favorite protein powder or hemp seeds for additional protein power!

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat

Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night

 

11752815_s Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

 

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)  OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

Knowing this, it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.brain-sparkle
  • To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  • To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night.  For real!

Try not to skimp!

(Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)

Tips for better sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  Seven. Days. A. Week.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but make sleep a priority for a few weeks and your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack).  Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert.  By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

 

Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”):

Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
  • 2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.  Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.  Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?

 

References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep

Men… Losing Strength? This Hormone Can Help

Yes, we’re talking testosterone.  That muscle-building hormone.  But I’m not going to recommend that you take any anabolic steroid hormones or anything like that.  I am going to give you two solid tips on how you can boost your testosterone levels naturally with supplements.

Tip #1: Get enough zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with a number of processes in your body (it helps over 300 enzymes).  Zinc helps your immune system, helps to produce critical proteins and DNA, and also helps with wound healing.  Enough zinc is necessary to maintain healthy skin and for optimal ability to taste and smell.  Zinc is an antioxidant and can be supplemented to support optimal levels of testosterone because it helps the enzymes that converts cholesterol into testosterone.

zinc-in-foodZinc is found mostly in red meat, poultry, egg yolks, and shellfish.  Some plants can also provide zinc such as beans and nuts.  The best dietary source is oysters.

The daily recommended dose of zinc for men is 11 mg/day (for women it’s 8 mg/day).  Low zinc levels are rare but tend to occur in vegetarians/vegans, athletes, and people who sweat a lot (zinc is lost in sweat).                                And low zinc levels have been linked to low testosterone levels.

Of course if you don’t get enough zinc in your diet you can always supplement.  Before you do, however, consider a few things:

  • It is possible to get too much zinc so unless your doctor tells you never take more than 40 mg/day. For many people just 5-10 mg/day is enough to prevent deficiency.
  • Zinc supplements can also interact with certain medications so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if zinc supplements are safe for you.
  • Zinc supplements are best taken 2-hours away from any medications (if it’s safe to use it at all while taking those medications) and should be taken with food.

 

Tip #2: Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” is actually the most common nutrient that we in North America just simply don’t get enough of.  Not only is it not very abundant in foods but most places far from the equator don’t get enough sunlight to produce adequate levels year round.

Hello winter; goodbye sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D is known to help us absorb calcium from our foods and is also necessary for our immune system, nervous system, and muscular system.  As with zinc if you’re deficient in this nutrient you may experience increased testosterone levels after supplementing.

Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with bone conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.  It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found in fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks.  Unfortunately it isn’t abundant in most other un-fortified foods.

The bottom line with vitamin D is that you may need to supplement.  Of course if you’re always outside in the sun or eat fatty fish every day you may be the exception.  You can always ask your doctor to check your blood levels to be sure because vitamin D is another one of those nutrients where more is not always better.

Here are a few tips to supplement with vitamin D safely and effectively:

  • Read your labels and don’t overdo it. Never supplement with more than 4,000IU/day unless supervised by your doctor.
  • As with zinc (and most other supplements) you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any medications.
  • Take your vitamin D with some fat to help your body absorb this vitamin. It is often recommended that you take it with the largest meal of the day.
  • Note that vitamin D is also found in cod liver oil, and multivitamins, so you may not need to take it separately (read your labels).

 

Summary:

If you aren’t getting enough zinc and/or vitamin D every day your testosterone levels may be a bit low but don’t overdo these two essential nutrients.

 

Recipe (vitamin D and zinc): Honey Sesame Salmon

Serves 4

  • 2-3 lbs salmon fillets
  • ¼ cup soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey or coconut nectar
  • 1” of ginger, shredded or 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 t
    ablespoons diced green onions or chives
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

 Mix soy sauce/tamari/aminos, sesame oil, lemon juice, honey/coconut nectar and ginger together to make a marinade.                                                                                                              Place salmon in a glass dish and cover with marinade.  Let sit for a few hours or overnight.  Heat honey-sesame-salmona large cast iron frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil.  Place salmon in pan skin side down and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Pour marinade into the pan, lower the heat and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.  Sprinkle with diced green onions/chives and sesame seeds.

 Serve and Enjoy!

  Tip:  Wild salmon can contain up to 4 times the amount of vitamin D as farmed salmon.

References:

https://examine.com/nutrition/how-can-i-increase-testosterone-naturally/

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_elements_tbl-eng.php

http://thewellnessbusinesshub.com/yes-nutrient-deficiencies-heres-proof-can/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/

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

https://examine.com/supplements/Zinc/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=183&lang=eng

https://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/

https://authoritynutrition.com/8-ways-to-boost-testosterone/

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show?ndbno=15087&fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=Abridged&count=&max=25&offset=0&sort=c&qlookup=&rptfrm=nl&nutrient1=328&nutrient2=309&nutrient3=&subset=0&totCount=5376&measureby=m

Men… Losing Strength? This Hormone Can Help

leapord-print-muscle-manYes, we’re talking testosterone.  That muscle-building hormone.  But I’m not going to recommend that you take any anabolic steroid hormones or anything like that.  I am going to give you two solid tips on how you can boost your testosterone levels naturally with supplements.

Tip #1: Get enough zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with a number of processes in your body (it helps over 300 enzymes).  Zinc helps your immune system, helps to produce critical proteins and DNA, and also helps with wound healing.  Enough zinc is necessary to maintain healthy skin and for optimal ability to taste and smell.  Zinc is an antioxidant and can be supplemented to support optimal levels of testosterone because it helps the enzymes that converts cholesterol into testosterone.

Zinc is found mostly in red meat, poultry, egg yolks, and shellfish.  Some plants can also provide zinc such as beans and nuts.  The best dietary source is oysters.

The daily recommended dose of zinc for men is 11 mg/day (for women it’s 8 mg/day).  Low zinc levels are rare but tend to occur in vegetarians/vegans, athletes, and people who sweat a lot (zinc is lost in sweat).  And low zinc levels have been linked to low testosterone levels.

Of course if you don’t get enough zinc in your diet you can always supplement.  Before you do, however, consider a few things:

  • It is possible to get too much zinc so unless your doctor tells you never take more than 40 mg/day. For many people just 5-10 mg/day is enough to prevent deficiency.
  • Zinc supplements can also interact with certain medications so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if zinc supplements are safe for you.
  • Zinc supplements are best taken 2-hours away from any medications (if it’s safe to use it at all while taking those medications) and should be taken with food.

 

Tip #2: Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” is actually the most common nutrient that we in North America just simply don’t get enough of.  Not only is it not very abundant in foods but most places far from the equator don’t get enough sunlight to produce adequate levels year round.

sunshine-vitamin

Hello winter; goodbye sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D is known to help us absorb calcium from our foods and is also necessary for our immune system, nervous system, and muscular system.  As with zinc if you’re deficient in this nutrient you may experience increased testosterone levels after supplementing.

Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with bone conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found in fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks.  Unfortunately it isn’t abundant in most other un-fortified foods.

The bottom line with vitamin D is that you may need to supplement.  Of course if you’re always outside in the sun or eat fatty fish every day you may be the exception.  You can always ask your doctor to check your blood levels to be sure because vitamin D is another one of those nutrients where more is not always better.

Here are a few tips to supplement with vitamin D safely and effectively:

  • Read your labels and don’t overdo it. Never supplement with more than 4,000IU/day unless supervised by your doctor.
  • As with zinc (and most other supplements) you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any medications.
  • Take your vitamin D with some fat to help your body absorb this vitamin. It is often recommended that you take it with the largest meal of the day.
  • Note that vitamin D is also found in cod liver oil, and multivitamins, so you may not need to take it separately (read your labels).
  • Click here for my favorite  Multivitamin Supplement!

 

Summary:                                                                                                                                                            If you aren’t getting enough zinc and/or vitamin D every day your testosterone levels may be a bit low but don’t overdo these two essential nutrients.

Recipe (vitamin D and zinc): Honey Sesame Salmon                                                                     Serves 4

  • 2-3 lbs salmon fillets
  • ¼ cup soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey or coconut nectar
  • 1” of ginger, shredded or 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons diced green onions or chives
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

honey-sesame-salmonMix soy sauce/tamari/aminos, sesame oil, lemon juice, honey/coconut nectar and ginger together to make a marinade.  Place salmon in a glass dish and cover with marinade.  Let sit for a few hours or overnight.  Heat a large cast iron frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil.  Place salmon in pan skin side down and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Pour marinade into the pan, lower the heat and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.  Sprinkle with diced green onions/chives and sesame seeds.  Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  Wild salmon can contain up to 4 times the amount of vitamin D as farmed salmon.

References:

https://examine.com/nutrition/how-can-i-increase-testosterone-naturally/

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_elements_tbl-eng.php

http://thewellnessbusinesshub.com/yes-nutrient-deficiencies-heres-proof-can/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/

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

https://examine.com/supplements/Zinc/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=183&lang=eng

https://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/

https://authoritynutrition.com/8-ways-to-boost-testosterone/

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show?ndbno=15087&fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=Abridged&count=&max=25&offset=0&sort=c&qlookup=&rptfrm=nl&nutrient1=328&nutrient2=309&nutrient3=&subset=0&totCount=5376&measureby=m

Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating is Wrong and it's Making You Fat and Tired

 

Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere!

And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?

Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.

Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

 What you eat and drink

The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important.  Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.

When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we?

You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

healthy-eating-3

Every day this is what you should aim for:

  • A colorful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
  • Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads.  Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible.  You don’t need to overdo it here.  Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.healthy-fats

 

 

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.

 Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.  Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.

 Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savor every bite.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.  This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less.  Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And don’t forget about drinking your food.

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.

Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal (see recipe below) and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack.  And don’t gulp it down too fast.

If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.  You can also check out one of my favorite clean protein and fiber add-ins here.

 

Summary:

 Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.

 

Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 big handful spinach
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 chopped peach (you can find frozen if not in season)
  • 1 cup organic Coconut Milk (canned, full fat)
  • water – to thin out smoothie to your liking

Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).

Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the liquid.

Blend, Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions.  Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.

Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they  contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.

 

References:

http://summertomato.com/wisdom-wednesday-salad-dressing-is-your-friend

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-reasons-you-are-not-losing-weight/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

 

53102954 - buffet dinner dining food celebration party conceptSometmes those holiday feasts are just amazing (My Sister in Law’s  Lechon Asado is to die for!).  And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance.  It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.  Took me a couple of weeks to get over the Christmas food hangover myself!

But it doesn’t always stop there.  Sometimes we overeat on regular days.  Or at regular meals.  Or  All. The. Time.

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.  (Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

Win-win!

 

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?  This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment, being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.  Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.  When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.  Eating slower and chewing more also allows your digestive system to properly break down your food reducing indigestion, constipation, bloating and gas.  So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, swallow before putting more food in your mouth, and put your fork down between bites.  You can also serve yourself half of a portion, enjoy it then get up to serve yourself the other half.  You may not need to eat the entire second helping!

 

Tip #3: Start with the salad (and load up on veggies)

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.  But don’t start there (Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).

Veggies (greens in particular) are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Green vegetables are the most commonly missing food in modern diets. Learning to incorporate dark leafy greens into the diet is essential to establishing a healthy body and immune system.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller.  They’re “satiating” and these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.  Try a Baby Kale Salad or Some Roasted Brussel Sprouts as a delicious appetizer – Hello Pinterest (my best friend for healthy recipes)!

 Summary:

                  Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad                                  to help avoid overeating at meals.

 

Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas

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If you’re not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:

  • Slices of lemon & ginger
  • Slices of strawberries & orange
  • Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
  • Chopped pineapple & mango
  • Blueberries & raspberries
  • The possibilities are endless!

Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning.  They’re already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

 

 

 

What it Metabolism?

65453317 - silver cube word metabolism on wooden table

65453317 – silver cube word metabolism on wooden table

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight.  But what exactly does this all mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!). The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate.  One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.  This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too!

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!   As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you’re not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).  You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don’t forget the mind-body connection.  There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.  This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.  So remember to eat your lean protein (easy recipe below), lift some weights and get some rest to keep your metabolism in shape!

Here’s a super simple recipe for chicken breast.  It’s a great source of lean protein and so versatile:

Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

  • Serves 4
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  •  1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (I like to also add Garlic Powder for a more garlicky flavor)
  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • dash salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old

Preheat oven to 425F.  Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper.  Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

arms-up

Protein for Breakfast; How To

53022857_mlWe all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…right?  Eating within the first hour you wake up keeps you metabolism humming.  Unfortunately, Americans have become accustomed to eating “breakfast foods” full of sugar and simple carbs.  Cold cereals, pastries, bagels, granola bars and various other options are out there for convenience.  I’ll admit that I used to eat these foods too.  Ever wonder why your bagel or breakfast bar with 10+ grams of protein only lasts you about an hour (or less) before you are starving again?

Processed foods cause a blood sugar spike that gets you going at first but lets you down with a crash within a short period of time.  They don’t provide the nutrition your body needs to think clearly, manage stress and maintain endurance.  Whether you’re going for a run or running the office, a power breakfast of 20-30 grams of protein is essential to start your day.

No time to cook?  No problem!  With a little planning, you can set yourself up for a quick meal and out the door.

We know eggs are awesome.  Boil and peel a dozen eggs on Sunday.  Two eggs and half an avocado or 1/4 cup of hummus are delicious together and give you some healthy fats & carbs to get you to snack time.

Yummy hot cereal anyone?  Use a slow cooker or rice cooker to make a batch of steel cut oats or other grains like quinoa, buckwheat or barley for the week.  Heat some up with nut butter, milk of choice and fresh or dried fruit.  I like to add pure protein powder & chia seeds for staying power.  A good thermos is great for this.  Get to work a few minutes early and calmly eat breakfast in your car before going in.  It’s a game changer.

How about a good quality protein shake?  Look for a product with no sugar.  Add some berries and greens like organic spinach for a hit of fiber and antioxidants.                                    Click here for my favorite.

Lastly, I am also a fan of dinner for breakfast.  Leftovers like pot roast & lentils can go a long delicious way (throw it in your thermos or make it a wrap!).

How do you do breakfast?

Order my favorite clean, non-GMO  protein shakes, booster and bars today!

 

 

Does Your Upbringing Affect Your Success?

Chantal, mom, me '90sThere are many psychological and social studies about how your upbringing and childhood experiences form your adult persona.  As I thought about this question, I realized that no matter what, I am my mother’s daughter.

An orphan raised in a convent, my mom emigrated from Spain at the age of 17 to pursue her dreams.  She arrived in this country without knowing English, armed only with the tenacity to build her future.

We were a blue collar family. She worked tirelessly to ensure that her children had the best education she could provide.  She encouraged a rigorous academic schedule, participation in extracurricular activities, celebration of our cultural heritage, and spiritual growth. My siblings and I have accomplished our dreams because she never allowed our financial situation to hold us back. She ensured that we applied for any possible scholarships, and took advantage of every opportunity, even if it meant more overtime for her. As a result, my siblings and I have all traveled different paths and become successful in our fields.

I believe that I am a product of my mother’s guidance and love and am fortunate to have had such unconditional support from her. It’s so important to acknowledge the people who have helped us become the people we are today.

As a health coach, my relationship with my clients becomes very personal.  I do my best to guide them to explore themselves and their relationship to their world.  I’d like to think I’ve developed my “motherly” skills from my personal hero.

Here’s to you mom!