Burn Your Own Fat For Fuel Using Ketones


Have you ever heard of a ketogenic diet? A ketogenic diet means your body is using ketones for energy production rather than sugar. Ketones are an alternative fuel source for the body, and are produced when eating a high fat and low carbohydrate diet. This type of diet is called “ketogenic” because your body is in a state of “ketosis” meaning fueled by ketones rather than sugar (aka glucose).

Here are 9 reasons why you want your body to be fueled by ketones instead of sugar:

 

1. You literally burn your own fat for energy


Your body can run on either glucose or ketones. Which would you choose? Well, when you look at what this actually means: Glucose is produced from the breakdown of glycogen (strings of glucose), this means you are burning glycogen to produce fuel for your body. Ketones on the other hand are produced from the breakdown of fat (fatty acids), this means you are literally burning your own fat stores to produce energy. You can make ketones from eating very low carb (sub 50 net carbs), fasting, or consuming a product that can induce or supply the production of ketones (such as MCT oil).



 

2. No more “Hangry”


You know that feeling when are so starving that every little thing is irritating, and you need to eat right. NOW? Terrible feeling right? Blame the carbs! After a blood sugar spike from eating carbs, this will trigger insulin whose job is to get that sugar out of your blood as fast as it can (because sugar in your blood is toxic and inflammatory), resulting in an even lower blood sugar than you started with. Low blood sugar (aka hypoglycemia) is that terrible anxiousness you are feeling. No bueno! And how do you make that feeling go away the fastest? Eating sugar. And the vicious cycle continues.

Fat is the only macronutrient that won’t raise blood sugar, and therefore won’t spike insulin. Yes, that means protein can also raise blood sugar when eaten in excess. That is why a ketogenic diet favors a higher fat and moderate protein intake.



 

3. Ketones favor less mental stress


The presence of ketones increases the production of the primary calm inducing neurotransmitter, GABA, while at the same time decreasing the primary stress inducing neurotransmitter, Glutamate. Ketones do this by assisting in the conversion of glutamate to GABA in the brain, thereby favoring a more calming state. Increasing the activity of GABA is essentially what most anti-anxiety medications aim to do as well – pretty cool you can get the same effects by just changing your diet!



 

4. Ketones favor a more focused state


For the same reason ketones favor calmed brain activity, they also favor a more alert and focused state. As stated above, more GABA compared to glutamate in the brain favors a less stressed state, meaning there is less “noise” in the brain, allowing for greater focus and mental clarity.  This is why medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are marketed as a product that can increase focus and cognition – because they give the body ketones that can be used for fuel without having to be in actual ketosis from eating low carb.



 

5. Ketones are a more efficient source of energy

Ketones and glucose are both used as fuel by mitochondria to produce energy (aka ATP) – mitochondria are the part of a cell that takes fuel (either glucose or ketones) and manufactures energy from it. When comparing the output of energy produced from the use of ketones vs. glucose, more energy is produced when using ketones, thereby making it a more efficient fuel source. The presence of ketones also up-regulates the amount of mitochondria in cells, so more mitochondria means more energy produced. This is another reason for the improved focus and mental clarity seen with a ketogenic diet. 



 

6. Ketones act as antioxidants


Research has found that ketones act as antioxidants because they protect against oxidative damage from free radicals. When ketones are used to produce energy (by mitochondria) this process does not cause the release of free radicals, as does glucose when it is used to produce energy. Free radicals aka oxidative damage cause damage to cells and aid in the development of chronic disease, cancer, cognitive decline and other brain diseases, and aging. 



 

7. Ketones may prevent cancer growth


Compared to normal cells, cancer cells metabolize a much greater amount of glucose meaning they need more glucose to thrive. Cancer cells may preferentially use sugar to fuel their growth and proliferation, and research has shown that they may not be able to use ketones as fuel. Research has also shown greater response to chemotherapy when in a fasting state inducing ketosis. There is more research needed in this area, but ketones as a preventative measure for cancer is looking very promising! 



 

8. Greater absorption of nutrients


Major vitamin, antioxidants, and other nutrients need to be taken with fat to be able to be absorbed. This includes Vitamin D, Vitamin E, lycopene and beta-carotene such as in tomatoes, and the B vitamins.  Making sure you are taking in plenty of fats will ensure you are getting the most out of your food and supplements.  

 




9. Ketones are neuro-protective


Fueling the brain with ketones has shown to help with brain disorders such as seizures, brain cancer, Parkinson’s Disease,  traumatic brain injury (TBI), and Alzheimer’s Disease. There is a widely cited case of a physician who put her husband on a ketogenic diet as treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and he improved within a couple of months. More research is needed on the direct effect of ketones for the prevention of diseases that affect the brain, but so far its looking very optimistic!

Side note: Ketones can supply up to 70% of the energy needed by the brain. It is true that your brain requires some glucose to function, but glucose can come from protein, it does not have to come from carbohydrates. It is a misconception that carbohydrates are necessary in your diet – they are not. Protein and fat are the two macronutrients your body definitely needs to manufacture all of the necessary components of the body.

All works cited can be found in the hyperlinks 

 



Think you need to take an antibiotic? Read this first.




Have the sniffles and feel a sore throat coming on? Wondering if you need to take antibiotics?! Before heading to the nearest urgent care, read below and ask yourself the following questions first.



How long have I had symptoms for?

It’s been just a few hours but feeling worse? Don’t jump to conclusions yet. At the beginning of an acute illness, symptoms tend to get worse before they get better, and it is very hard to tell if you have a viral or bacterial infection (or allergies!) at this point.

If your symptoms have lasted for a week or longer, this is a sign that you may benefit from taking antibiotics.

Are my symptoms improving or getting worse?

This goes along with the above question. If after a few days your symptoms seem to be getting worse and not better, this may be a sign that your infection is bacterial or your immune system has weakened and now you are infected with a bacterial infection. Just keep in mind that it is very hard to tell between a bacterial or a viral infection when it has been under a week.



My throat is sore and I have a cough – do I have Strep throat?

If you have a cough, that is actually an indicator that you likely DO NOT have Strep throat. Symptoms of Strep throat include swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck, swollen tonsils with white streaks, fever, no cough, and sudden onset throat pain.

Main takeaways…

Keep in mind that the majority of colds are viral in origin, which means antibiotics will not help you. Some of the best things you can do to feel better and get better include drinking lots of fluids, rest, and hand washing.



About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab.





Top 12 Bad Habits of Office Workers





If you are someone who goes to an office everyday or several days a week, you may have accumulated some bad habits along the way that may be negatively affecting your health. Through my experience, I have noticed the following bad habits of my office worker patients…

1. Your work area is a mess

Think messy desk, messy mind. Prevent distractions and keep a clear head by keeping your work space neat and tidy.




2. You don’t take time to prepare a healthy breakfast

If you aren’t taking a few minutes in the morning to prepare a healthy and satisfying breakfast, there is a good chance you will just grab a pastry or muffin on your way to work. Don’t make this mistake and take just ten minutes to prepare something healthy for breakfast such as eggs.

3. You order delivery

Ordering food to your desk is a mistake for a few reasons, most notably that this means you likely won’t get up from your desk or leave your office. This means less walking and less activity for your body. Instead, try to pack a healthy lunch most days of the week. 

4. You dine out every day

Dining out is better than ordering delivery, however, this means that you will likely not be getting a very healthy meal and it’s more costly than bringing your own lunch. Also think about the time you waste waiting in line to order food. Again, try and pack a lunch and bring it to work.



5. You don’t take a walk at lunch

Getting outside and getting some light exercise is great for both your body and mind. Even just getting ten minutes of activity is helpful for boosting the feel good hormones, plus sunlight is great for giving you a boost of energy to get through the rest of the afternoon.

6. You don’t keep a water bottle at your desk

If you don’t have water easily accessible at your desk, you are less likely to drink much water during the day. Dehydration can lead to a number of negative consequences including decreased productivity, headaches, and fatigue. Having a water bottle at your desk serves as a reminder to keep yourself hydrated.



7. You get an afternoon coffee and pastry

That afternoon coffee and pastry might sound like a nice treat, but you will pay for it later. Having caffeine later in the day can lead to sleep problems at night and the pastry causes a spike and subsequent drop in blood sugar. Instead, just take a walk outside and leave the coffee for the morning.

8. You don’t practice good posture

If you sit at a desk and use a computer, there is a good chance you are hunching over a good amount of the day. Hunching your back leads to back and neck problems.

9. You don’t stretch at work

Sitting at a desk all day leads to aches and pains most notably in the back, shoulders, and neck areas – especially if you aren’t practicing good posture. Take a few minutes a day to stand up and reach your hands above your head and then sweep them down to your toes, do some head circles, and take some twists. Doing these small moves will help to prevent aches and pains from coming on.

10. You have a snack drawer

A snack drawer is way too tempting – it makes it too easy to snack all day! Instead, eat a healthy and filling breakfast and a good lunch to prevent needing to snack.

11. You eat at your desk

Eating at your desk is a bad habit for a number of reasons, most notably that you will be easily distracted by what is on your desk and/or by your office workers who are in the near vicinity.

12. You don’t get up from your desk for hours at a time

Sitting all day can lead to stiffness and back problems. Make a point of getting up from your seat at least every hour.

Main takeaways…

Think about whether you are making any one of these bad habits at your office, and if so, aim to change these into good habits to benefit your health and your quality of life.




5 Common Reasons You’re Craving Salty Foods




Have you ever found yourself craving salt seemingly out of nowhere? Read below to learn 5 common reasons you are craving salty foods.



1. You’ve been consuming too much salt

If your diet is high in salt, then you will have a higher tolerance for salt and need more and more. Take a look at the sodium content of the foods you eat. For most individuals it is recommended to not go above 2,300mg of sodium per day.

2. You’re dehydrated

An indirect way that your body tells you that you need more fluids is to have you crave salty foods. Salt follows water meaning eating salty foods will then prompt you to drink more water to dilute the salts in your body.

3. You’ve been exercising intensely

When you exercise, you don’t just lose water but you also lose electrolytes – aka salts. Intense exercise or heated exercise causes you to sweat more, which means you will lose exponentially more salt and can cause you to crave salty foods to bring your body back to equilibrium.



4. You’ve been eating very low carb

Eating very low carb (aka keto) causes your body to shed extra water and salts. That is why it is generally recommended to add in extra salt when eating a very low carb diet.

5. Your diet is high in processed food

Processed food is generally high in sodium (aka salt) so if you regularly consume high sodium foods, you will continue to crave that higher salt content.




Sneaky Reasons You’re Packing on the Pounds During the Holidays




The dreaded holiday weight gain, many of us have fallen victim to this – but you don’t have to! Read below to learn the sneaky reasons why you are putting on the pounds during the holidays.



You’re drinking your calories

During the holidays there are many indulgent beverages that are high in carbs and calories. Some of the top offenders include egg nog (FYI: Egg Nog typically has about 20 grams of sugar per HALF a cup), seasonal coffee drinks (ex: pumpkin spice latte), and high sugar cocktails.

Fix it: It’s totally fine to have an indulgent beverage every once and a while, but once you start making it an everyday habit, that’s when the pounds can start creeping on. Be mindful of what you are drinking because those liquid calories will add up.

Desserts at the office

A cookie here, a donut there, after a few weeks of indulging on treats at the office you can start to see the pounds creeping on.

Fix it: If you are going to indulge, it should be the best of the best. Also, remember that just because a treat is offered to you, it does not mean you have to eat it.

Stress

It is very common to feel stressed during the holidays, whether it be due to family dynamics, buying gifts, traveling, cooking, etc. there are many situations during the holidays that can make you stressed. Not only is stress a terrible feeling, it can also be a factor that causes you to gain weight. Stress often causes individuals to overeat and/or reach for high carb, high calorie foods because eating carbs releases the feel good hormones in your body. Stress also causes the hormone cortisol to increase, and cortisol is a hormone that promotes fat storage.

Fix it: First identify what triggers stress for you and then make a plan of how you can alleviate that stress. Some examples of how you can decrease the stress response may include asking your spouse for help in the kitchen, saying “no” to social engagements that you don’t really want to do, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep.



Skipping exercise

The holiday season is such a busy time that many of us don’t make time for exercise. Exercise is what helps to keep your focus on staying healthy and serves as a reminder to be mindful of your eating. Exercise helps to prevent you from packing on the pounds way beyond just burning calories and revving your metabolism – it also boosts the feel good hormones, suppresses stress hormones, helps to prevent stress eating, boosts energy, and also just serves as a reminder to stay healthy.

Fix it: Make exercise a priority during the holidays. I always recommend doing exercise first thing in the morning because it will give you energy and decrease stress before you start the day.

Skipping meals

Skipping meals to “save up” for dinner is NEVER a good idea – it ALWAYS backfires. Why? Because when you skip a meal, not only does that make you ravenously hungry (and hangry!) but also leads to overeating and a slowed metabolism.

Fix it: Aim to eat a mix of protein, fiber, and heart healthy fat at each meal every 3-5 hours. Note that if a meal is not keeping you full for at least 3 hours, you need to eat more.

Holiday parties

Holiday parties tend to have lots of desserts and high calorie beverages, which can make it hard to stick to a healthy diet.

Fix it: Make a point to eat BEFORE the party so that you don’t fill up on desserts or other high carb foods. Sip on water at the party and stick to a two drink maximum when it comes to indulgent beverages.




Top 10 Tips To Prevent Holiday Weight Gain



 

The holidays are definitely a time to indulge and treat yourself with family and friends. That being said, no one wants to indulge and then pack on the pounds in the process.

Read below to learn the top 10 ways you can prevent holiday weight gain:




1. Don’t snack

Little bites of this and that during the holidays can lead to weight gain because you don’t realize how much you are actually snacking. Having just a bite of cupcake, donut, muffin, cookie, etc (you get the idea) can actually lead to a high intake of sugar and calories (aka empty calories) without you even realizing.

Fix it: Aim to eat a large meal every 3-5 hours during the day. If you feel the need to snack, increase the protein and vegetable content of your previous meal.



2. Choose one treat

Whether that treat be a glass of wine, a mug of egg nog, a cookie, choose one and no more. This way you are still allowing yourself to enjoy the treats of the holiday season, but in moderation and in a more mindful way.

3. Don’t skip meals

It might seem like a good idea to skip a meal or two to “save” up on calories for a big meal you have ahead. Don’t do it! This never works out well for a few reasons. Number one is that it can make you so hungry that you end up eating WAY more of the indulgent meal than you would have otherwise – i.e. one piece of cake turns into two pieces or more.



4. Walk after eating

Moving your body after eating will help your body use some of those calories for energy and will help to prevent those calories from being stored as fat. It will also help digestion of the meal and lower your blood sugar naturally.

5. Sleep

Lack of sleep can cause you to crave and reach for foods high in sugar because sugar gives you a quick energy boost and also releases feel good hormones in your body.

Fix it: Aim to get around 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.



6. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about being present, embracing the moment, and not worrying about all of the things on the to-do list. Being more mindful with your eating means you will not be snacking mindlessly and you will enjoy your meals more too.

7. Don’t stress

Stress can cause you to overeat and overeat carb rich foods because carbs makes you feel better.

Fix it: Exercise daily, practice mindfulness, and don’t put things off until the last minute are some ways to prevent stress from building up.

8. Drink a glass of water before every meal

Water takes up room in your stomach and makes you more full. Another reason to fill up on water is that sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger, meaning you think you are hungry when actually you just need a glass of water.



9. Fill up on vegetables and protein

Fiber and protein are the dream team because both take a long time to digest and act together to keep you fuller longer. Fill up the majority of your plate with vegetables and protein to prevent yourself from overeating on the sugar and carbs.

10. Exercise daily

Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent weight gain during the holidays because it decreases stress, increases feel good hormones, boosts energy, burns calories and revs metabolism. 

Bonus tip: Keep in mind that exercise should never be seen as a punishment for over indulging. Stick to exercise that you enjoy and think of it as a mood and energy booster rather than seeing it as just a way to burn calories.

Main takeaways…

Use one or more of the above tips to prevent the pounds from creeping on during the holidays.



About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab.





Top Tips To Prevent Holiday Stress




The holidays can be a very joyous time of year, filled with parties, friends and family. That being said, the holiday season can also bring about a lot of stress.

Read below to learn the top tips to prevent and reduce stress during the holiday season:




Don’t procrastinate

Procrastination is one of the worst things you can do to yourself, especially when it comes to the holidays. Don’t leave everything until the last moment because that is a guaranteed way to put yourself in a place of panic. 

Have a plan

Having a plan is how you can prevent yourself from procrastinating. Make a list of everything you need to get done and designate different days to get everything checked off your list. Making a plan early on helps to prevent stress and anxiety later.



Identify the triggers

Understand what the triggers are that make you feel stressed during the holidays. Is it shopping for gifts? Having to cook for a large group? Travel? When you understand what your stress triggers are, you can better plan to make them less stressful.

Sweat it out

Holidays are an extremely busy time, which is why exercise is so important this time of year. Exercise gives you energy, helps you sleep better, and helps to lower stress hormones in your body.



Cut down on sugar and carbs

The holidays are full of tempting desserts and high carb meals. Eating foods high in sugar and carbs causes a rollercoaster in your blood sugar levels, which leads to stress in your body, moodiness and hangry.



Go easy on the alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are often flowing during the holidays, and one too many cocktails can leave you feeling more stressed than you started. Make a point to watch your alcoholic intake during the holiday season.

Main takeaways…

Know that stress will happen during the holidays, but stress can be much more manageable if you have tools to help you get through it.




11 Best Sources of Protein




The best sources of protein are sources that are highly bioavailable – meaning your body can absorb the protein and use it directly. The most bioavailable protein sources come from animal products because they contain all of the amino acids – this is unlike plant sources that are incomplete and less bioavailable. When choosing an animal based protein, get the greatest bang for your buck by choosing organic, pastured, and/or grass fed products. These products are free from hormones and antibiotics, have twice as many nutrients and antioxidants compared to conventional products, and contain a better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (which you want and is hard to find). In practice, when I am advising a patient about how to maintain muscle, lose fat, or maintain their ideal body composition, it all comes down to protein intake.

Below you’ll see I listed typical protein, fat, and carbohydrate  content to give you an idea of how much the food source contains, but it can vary by brand.

Below are the healthiest and easiest sources of protein to use as snacks and meals: 




1. Eggs

One egg has: 

6 grams of protein

5 grams of fat

0.6 grams of carb



2. Egg whites

One egg white has:

5 grams of protein

0 grams of fat

0.2 grams carb



3. Chicken breast

1/2 cup cooked has about:

20 grams of protein

2.5 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



4. Chicken thigh

1/2 cup cooked has about:

17 grams of protein

7 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



5. Turkey 

1/2 cup cooked (ground) has about:

17 grams of protein

8 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



6. Salmon

1/2 cup cooked has about:

16 grams of protein

5 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



7. Cod

1/2 cup cooked has about:

20 grams of protein

4 grams of fat

0.5 grams of carbs



8. Cottage cheese

1/2 cup has about:

12 grams of protein

5 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



9. Plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup has about:

11 grams of protein

grams of fat varies widely (no limit on fat advised)

grams of carbs varies widely (look for less than 10 grams of carbs)



10. Beef 

1/2 cup has about:

15 grams of protein

12 grams of fat

0 grams of carbs



11. Whey protein

1 scoop of whey protein has about:

20 grams of protein

grams of fat varies widely (no limit on fat advised)

grams of carbs varies widely (look for less than 5 grams of net carbs)



How to use this guide

The next time you are wondering what to snack on or what protein source you should use for your next meal, choose one of the above to add some variety!

References

  1. myfitnesspal.com
  2. fatsecret.com 



 

EAT THIS, SKIP THAT! At Breakfast




Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because what you eat (or don’t eat) will play a huge part in how you feel the rest of the day. Yes, that one meal in the morning will affect your mood, blood sugar, hunger, and food choices for the rest of the day – wow! So what do you choose when it comes to choosing your breakfast?!

Below lists what to eat and what to skip when it comes to breakfast:




1. If you are craving pancakes…

SKIP: Pancakes 

Pancakes are high carb and low fiber (yes even whole wheat) and low in nutrients – and that’s before you add any type of topping or filler (ie syrup). Pancakes should really just be called “cake” because that’s basically what they are. There are certainly ways to make healthy versions of pancakes, but traditional pancakes are a no-no.

EAT: Oatmeal

Instead go for the gluten-free oatmeal. This way you are still getting the carbs you crave minus the sugar, and some fiber and resistant starch to keep you full. 




2. If you are starving…

SKIP: Breakfast burrito

I get it, you are starving, and a breakfast burrito sounds very tempting, but All of the ingredients in your typical breakfast burrito are filling enough! You don’t need the wrapper which has little to no nutritional value.

EAT: Omelette

Get more bang for your buck with an omelette which gives you a great combination of eggs, veggies, and maybe even a cheese or another protein which will keep you full and satisfied.




3. If you are craving juice…

SKIP: All juices (unless made only from vegetables)

Juice is basically a fruit squeezed of all its sugar and put into a glass for you to drink. When you just drink the juice you are missing out on vital nutrients and fiber which comes from the fruit itself – not it’s fluid.

EAT: Fruit bowl

Always go for the whole food rather than the liquid coming from the food. The food itself has the majority of the nutrients and all of the fiber compared to its juice.



4. If you are craving coffee…

SKIP: Everything but black coffee

When a “coffee drink” has more ingredients other than coffee, it’s not really coffee anymore. Your frappuccinos, mochas, lattes, pumps of different flavored syrups, are not doing you any good because they contain zero healthy nutrients and are just adding chemicals, sugar, and empty calories.

DRINK: Black coffee (i.e. ingredients include only water and coffee beans)

 If you want coffee, stick to the real deal, and if you want to fancy it up then get a cold brew or add a splash of almond milk. 



5. If you are craving a bagel…

SKIP: Bagel

Did you know that a standard bagel is equivalent to four pieces of bread?! This super high carb meal causes your blood sugar to skyrocket and then shoot right back down making you feel lethargic and sleepy – the last thing you want to feel like in the morning! No one needs that much carb in one sitting.

EAT: Open face egg sandwich

Add slices of avocado or another egg or protein source if you are extra hungry. Adding more protein or fat will not cause any blood sugar changes, and will keep you more full and satisfied.



6. If you are craving a bowl of oatmeal…

SKIP: Quick oats

Also referred to as “instant oats” these type of oats have been highly processed meaning they have been stripped of most of their nutritional value. And definitely stay away from the pre-packaged instant oats that have been infused with maple and other sugars.

EAT: Irish oats

Irish oats are also called steel-cut oats and are the least processed of the oats. This means they will give you the greatest nutritional value.



7. If you are cravings a bowl of cereal…

SKIP: Raisin Bran

I can’t even count how many times a patient has told me they are trying to eat healthy and so they started eating Raisin Bran. This cereal has approximately 17 grams of sugar in one serving! To put this into perspective, guidelines recommend no more than 25 grams of sugar per DAY!  And unless you are precisely measuring this serving you are likely taking in even more.

EAT: Fiber One Original

Fiber One is hands-down the best choice in terms of cereal. It is high in fiber, low in calories, and contains zero sugar. However, It’s not gluten-free, but it is the absolute best choice when it comes to choosing cereal.



8. If you are craving yogurt…

SKIP: Flavored yogurt

In general, all flavored yogurts have too much sugar. Anything over 5 grams of sugar is too much, and most have over 10 grams – no bueno. Be especially weary of “fat-free” marketing because this almost always means additional sugar has been added to give it flavor (since the fat has been taken out).

EAT: Plain Greek yogurt

Plain is the main thing you want to look for, Greek is best because this type of yogurt contains the greatest amount of protein. Still check the nutrition label because sometimes plain yogurt still has a ton of sugar in it. To add some sweetness consider adding some berries and nuts.



6 Healthy Desserts To Curb Your Sweet Tooth




Who doesn’t love a treat? Especially when the treat is actually not bad for you – woo hoo! Unfortunately, treats and desserts are either super high calorie and high sugar, or taste like cardboard and make you crave treats even more. What to do? Well, here at The Mindful Tech Lab we have a small dessert almost every single evening and below is a list of our favorite healthy treats. All are low sugar and low calorie, so you don’t have to worry about derailing your diet when consuming them. Hooray!

Below lists our favorite healthy treats:



1. Dark Chocolate

This is our number one favorite healthy treat. Always go for dark chocolate because it has the greatest amount of nutrients and health benefits, as well as being the lowest in sugar of the chocolates. Look for dark chocolate that has over 80% cocoa, because the higher the percentage of cocoa, the lower the sugar – check our the nutritional labels and compare. Note that the higher the percentage of cocoa the  more bitter the taste due to the lower sugar content, so consider starting on the lower end of percent cocoa and work your way up.



2. Berries

We love blackberries and raspberries because they are low in sugar, high in fiber, and taste great! Both fresh or frozen are good choices, just make sure if you buy frozen that it is not sweetened. A good trick is warming up frozen berries in the microwave because when it melts it tastes like pie filling! Stick to one serving of berries which is 1/2 cup, it can be very easy to triple this serving size, so pay attention to the serving size.



3. ARCTIC ZERO

We love ARCTIC ZERO frozen desserts because their products are gluten free and lactose free, and they use only natural ingredients, no artificial sweeteners and no artificial coloring. We also love that they sweeten their products with monk fruit, which is a natural sweetener and has a great taste. The main ingredient they use is whey protein, which gives it some protein and flavor. Our favorite lowest sugar flavors are Salted Caramel and Vanilla Maple.



4. Halo Top

If you are really wanting that ice cream taste and texture without all of the sugar and empty calories, this is your brand! Halo Top makes both dairy based and vegan products, but so far we have only tried the dairy based. The dairy based desserts are high in protein (around 12 grams) because they are made with eggs, milk, and cream, and low in sugar (around 5 grams) because they are sweetened with the natural sweetener stevia (a sweetener we approve of). The vegan desserts are coconut milk based and are also sweetened by stevia. The vegan products are lower in protein compared to the dairy based (about 3 grams) but are also very low in sugar (about 4 grams) which makes this product a great choice as well.



5. Plain greek yogurt with stevia or berries

This means low sugar greek yogurt, around 5 grams of sugar – very important to read nutritional labels here!! Even “plain” greek yogurt can have up to 20 grams of sugar without even tasting sweet – crazy right! Give it some flavor by sweetening with the natural sweetener stevia or monk fruitwith some warmed up berries. Watch the serving size of this and stick to 1/2 cup.



6. Hot chocolate

A low sugar hot chocolate is one of the best healthy desserts because it gives you high volume with low sugar and calories. We really like the brand Lakanto, who makes a drinking chocolate with about 2 grams of carbs and less than 10 calories per serving. We’ve tried A LOT of different products, and this one is the best in terms of taste and ingredients. It is sweetened by monk fruit, which is a natural and zero calorie sweetener. This product is also dairy free, gluten free, and vegan. Mix it with a cup of warmed unsweetened almond milk!

Enjoy!




10 Tips From The World’s Most Accomplished Strength Coach




We recently attended the Bulletproof conference in Pasadena where we got to listen to the top experts in the field of health and wellness. One of these speakers was Charles Poliquin, who is defined as the world’s most accomplished strength coach. He has trained several olympic medalists, professional athletes, and fitness world champion’s. He definitely knows his stuff when it comes to getting and staying fit!

Below is a list of the main takeaways we got from his session, some tips we knew and we’ve shared with you before in other posts on our website, but it was great to hear him echo the same things we teach as well!

1. No Steady-State Cardio

There were some choice words to describe steady-state cardio, but the main takeaways  were that it ages the brain and that it promotes muscles wasting and fat gain. Yikes!



2. Yes to high intensity interval training (HIIT)

He describes exercise in the form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) as not being cardio, and as being a highly effective way to burn fat and gain muscle. If you are a runner or biker add sprint intervals to reap the benefits rather than longer exercise at a steady-state pace.



3. Eat protein on rest days

Rest days are when your muscles are recovering and building back up to be stronger. The building blocks of muscle comes from amino acids which are found in protein.



4. The first thing in your mouth dictates the rest of your day

What you eat or drink first thing in the morning sets you up to burn or gain fat for the rest of the day. For this reason, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.



5. Meat and nuts for breakfast

He does not recommend a specific macronutrient requirement for breakfast, but does recommend starting each day with a mix of meat and nuts to start the day.



6. Magnesium at night time

Taking magnesium at night time aids  muscle recovery and helps with sleep. I didn’t catch how much he recommends, but I recommend 400 mg or more at night time – note that taking too much too can cause diarrhea.



 

7. One hour of strength training 4 days a week

You can get super fit if you workout smart. He recommends one hour sessions of strength training, 4 days a week. If you can’t go for a full hour every day (I normally can’t) then just make the workout sessions shorter and go 5-6 days a week. Note: He is speaking about how to get super ripped for a competition or something of that nature, you likely do not have to even do this much to get fit!



8. More muscle equals longer life

He equates the amount of muscle is an indicator of longevity – the more muscle you have, the longer the life.



 

9. Lose fat with strength training

To lose fat you need to start strength training. Strength training builds muscle, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn at rest. Also after strength training this causes your body to expend energy trying to repair itself, meaning you burn an elevated amount of calories even after the workout is done.



10. Stick to basic exercises

Avoid over thinking exercise. Stick to the basics to see the best results. Exercises recommended included deadlifts, squats, chin-ups, and overhead presses.



The Worst Vacation Habits Making You Gain Weight




Taking a vacation is one of the very best things you can do for yourself because it’s a time to make happy memories and to reset and recharge. That being said, vacation can also be a time that you sabotage your healthy diet and exercise routine if you don’t plan accordingly.

Read below the worst vacation choices making you gain weight:

Choosing a hotel without a gym

If your hotel does not have a gym you won’t even have a chance to stick to any sort of exercise routine. If you are new to exercise and aren’t a huge fan of exercise, this can be a slippery slope of getting you back into old habits of not exercising. Not having a gym also means you won’t be able to burn off those extra calories you are consuming while on vacation, which means quicker and more weight gain.



Taking a road trip

A road trip is not doing you any favors when it comes to keeping up an exercise routine and sticking to a healthy diet. Think about the typical road trip snacks – chips, pretzels, and other 7-11 choices – plus the dining options on the road tend to not be the healthiest. 

Not to say you can’t make a road trip healthy, it just takes extra planning in terms of packing healthy meals and scheduling many pit stops to take walks and get exercise.

Staying at an all-inclusive resort

Staying at an all-inclusive means you must eat as much as you can to get your money’s worth right!? Er, maybe not the best plan when trying to stick to a healthy diet 😉 Also keep in mind that resorts understand that most of their guests feel this way and so the quality of the food may suffer to increase the volume available.



Relying on airport food

Lets be real, the majority of the food you will find in the airport is fast-food and it is difficult to actually find something healthy. Plus the food is highly marked up in price so you certainly aren’t saving any money by eating at the airport.

Relying on airplane snacks and meals

Not only is the food more expensive on the airplane, it also tends to not be the tastiest and definitely not the healthiest.



Not packing workout clothes

If you don’t pack appropriate clothes to exercise in, you’re not even giving yourself the option to exercise when on vacation.

You only drink specialty cocktails

Specialty cocktails are one of the worst diet mistakes you can make because they literally have zero nutritional value and are loaded with calories, sugar, and carbs – the recipe for fast weight gain.



Drinking too much

It won’t kill your diet to have one specialty cocktail, but once you start going past one cocktail those calories will add up to extra pounds on fat on your body quickly. Plus, drinking alcohol can make you crave unhealthy meals and lower your will power when it comes to making healthy decisions.

Not making a plan to exercise

If you aren’t making a plan for when you will workout, there is a good chance it’s not going to happen. 



Not packing sneakers

You are setting yourself up for a very sedentary vacation if you choose not to pack sneakers. 

Grazing all day

Snacking all day at the pool is only going to result in overeating, especially when the snacks are tasty foods like fries and chips.



Not utilizing the kitchen

If your hotel room has a kitchen and you aren’t using it, this is a definite mistake! This means you are also missing out on the ability to save some money and to eat healthy.

Personal experience: If we stay at an Airbnb or a hotel with a kitchen we always make a point of finding a market to pick up a few food items that we can easily make into meals and/or snacks. Some of our favorite simple and healthy meals and snacks include cutting up fruit, frying up some eggs, making nut butter banana sandwiches, or buying prepared foods and putting them together to make a meal.

Choosing the buffet

A buffet is doing you no favors if you are trying to stick to a healthy diet. With so many options, it’s easy to over serve your plate and go back for seconds or even thirds! Plus who can pass up all of the desserts.

Main takeaways…

Above are the top vacation habits to break when it comes to sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine.