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.



12 Positive Affirmations for Success




Positive affirmations help to change your thinking and beliefs, in order to drive real change and positive results. It’s all about the mindset!

How to use them:
1. Take a deep breath
2. Speak or think your affirmation
3. Visualize yourself applying it to your life

Here are 12 of our favorite positive affirmations for success, enjoy!

 

1. “I live a positive life and only bring the best into my life.”




2. “Today, and every day, I choose to be happy.”




3. “My life overflows with happiness and love.”




4. “Today is full of opportunity and I open my heart to receive it.”




5. “Today, and every day, I choose to be confident.”




6. “I am completely in charge of my life.”




7. “I act daily with courage and confidence.”




8. “I open my life to the world and the world gives me love in return.”




9. “I act, think, and communicate like a true leader.”




10. “I inspire others to be their very best self.”




11. “Today, I choose to leave my old bad habits behind and take up new, more positive ones.”




12. “Everything that is happening to me now is happening for my greater good.”





 

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. 




Top 11 Breakfast Practices Making You Gain Weight




Breakfast can either make or break your diet – start off with the wrong breakfast and it can be very hard to get back on a healthy eating track for the day.

There are many mistakes you can make at breakfast time that can definitely derail your diet and expand your waistline. Don’t make the most common mistakes. Read below to learn the top breakfast habits making you gain weight:




1. Choosing granola

Granola is one of the biggest diet mistakes you can make in the morning because it is loaded with sugar, carbs, and a ton of calories. To make matters worse, it is often labeled as a “healthy” meal which can cause many individuals to load up on it because it’s healthy right? No. Step away from the granola, it will make you gain weight without you even realizing.

Professional experience: I had a new patient come in for a yearly physical, she was in her mid 40s and had been gaining weight steadily for the past few years despite having a personal chef (yes!) and seeing a personal trainer a couple of times a week. When I asked about her diet, she said that for breakfast she was eating homemade granola (by her personal chef) made with “all natural and healthy” ingredients like honey and maple sugar, plus yogurt and fruit. I stopped her right there without hearing anything else and told her how that breakfast was definitely sabotaging her efforts to lose weight and was most certainly a cause for her steady weight gain.

A year later I saw the woman back for her yearly physical again and I almost didn’t recognize her – she had lost at least 50lbs! Plus her skin and hair was noticeably smoother and more youthful.

This type of scenario happens in practice ALL of the time. Even with a personal chef AND a personal trainer, this doesn’t mean you will just naturally lose weight.

2. A bowl of “whole grain” cereal with milk

Cereal is in the same category as granola – it’s just sugar and carbs with little to no protein or healthy fat. It’s slightly worse than granola only because it is also highly processed. Not only will cereal not fill you up, it sets you up to be hungrier later because it spikes your blood sugar and then brings it back down just as quickly – meaning a hangry you later. Even worse, when you pair cereal with milk this adds even more sugar because a cup of non-fat milk has around 12 grams of sugar! The bottom line is that cereal is doing you no favors, skip it.

Professional experience: Cereal is definitely the most common breakfast of choice that I hear from patients. It seems to be either Cheerios or Raisin Bran and the patient almost always tells me they eat cereal because they are trying to eat healthy. I generally recommend instead eating eggs because they are easy to cook and are excellent for you.



3. Eating plain toast

Toast is actually better than cereal or granola because it tends to be lower in sugar. That being said, it is still all carbs and will not keep you full for very long, will spike your blood sugar, and make you hungry not too long after eating.

Healthy tip: Make toast part of a healthy breakfast by adding a protein and/or fat to help slow the release of carbs into your bloodstream. I personally love adding almond butter to toast, grass-fed butter, or adding an egg on top.

Don’t add this: Skip the jams and jellies because these are basically pure sugar. One trick I like to do to is warm up frozen berries and add them to almond butter on top of toast – you can see this on our Instagram page.

4. Using flavored coffee creamer

Cream by itself is actually fine as long as you use a tiny amount, but flavored coffee creamer with added sugars and artificial ingredients is doing you know favors. The sugary creamer adds tons of sugar and calories without you even realizing it. The serving size is also normally very small, like a tablespoon or less, so unless you are measuring it out, you are probably at least tripling this.



5. Eating a bagel

Bagels are a no-no in the morning because most bagels are equivalent to four pieces of bread or more – yikes! This means tons of carbs, tons of calories, and very little nutritional value. Eating a bagel will make you hungry not too long after eating and can set you up to crave carbs and sugar for the rest of the day.

Healthy tip: Make a bagel healthier by eating half a bagel and adding a protein and/or fat like eggs or almond butter. Another trick is scooping out some of the middle of the bagel and adding in the eggs or other fat/protein combo.

6. Oatmeal toppings

Who eats oatmeal plain? Probably no one. Oatmeal in itself is fine, but the toppings are what get you and can make you gain weight. Think toppings like brown sugar, milk (FYI milk is loaded with sugar), and dried fruit. All of these make your oatmeal a sugary carby disaster that will most certainly lead to weight gain.

Healthy toppings: There are certainly healthy toppings you can add to your oatmeal. Some of my favorites include walnuts, almond butter, frozen berries (helps to cool it down), unsweetened nut milk, and stirring in an egg white or two.



7. Watching TV while you eat

Mindless eating leads to overeating and not feeling satisfied with the meal – the perfect recipe for weight gain. Take the few minutes you have in the morning to sit down and give full attention to your breakfast. This will cause you to slow down and to fully enjoy the meal.

8. Grabbing a pastry

Hopefully you know that eating a pastry in the morning is not doing your weight any favors. Pastries are loaded with carbs, sugar, and unhealthy fats and can make your body go into fat storage mode.

Professional experience: When I was working in Manhattan, pastries were a super common breakfast food I heard from my patients so I wanted to throw this one in the list.



9. Eating fruit only

Fruit is packed with vitamins and other great nutrients, but fruit is also packed with sugar. Fruit has some fiber to help slow the release of the sugar into your bloodstream, but it will still likely raise your blood sugar rapidly. This means you will be hungrier sooner and can put your body into fat storage mode.

Healthy tip: Pair fruit with a couple of eggs, or add in some nuts for some fiber and healthy fat.

10. Drinking juice

Juice is worse than just eating fruit because juice has zero fiber and is loaded with sugar, meaning a greater blood sugar spike and increased hunger.

Skip the juice and go for whole fruit with a side of protein or fat.



11. Sipping a chai latte

Think you are being healthy by just sticking to a coffee drink in the morning? Unfortunately, nope. Drinking a chai latte as well as any other coffee drink that doesn’t consist of just coffee beans is generally a diet disaster. A chai latte is one of the worst offenders because it sounds like it would be healthier than a mocha or a Frappuccino, but it is actually loaded with just as much sugar (or more!) and has more carbs than a candy bar – yikes!

Main takeaways…

When it comes to breakfast, skip the sugar and carbs and stick to protein, fat, and fiber to keep you full and to prevent you from packing on the pounds.




Best High Carb Vegetables To Add To Your Diet




I feel like I am always bashing carbs, so good news today because this article is all about the carbs I do recommend! While I do advise low carb eating, I don’t advise anyone to be zero carb because all vegetables have carbs and you should be eating as many vegetables as you can. Below lists my top recommended higher carb vegetables:

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium and Vitamin A, as well as many other vitamins and minerals. I recommend adding half a cup to a cup of baked sweet potato to your dinner.



Butternut squash

Butternut squash is very similar to sweet potato. We love baking or steaming butternut squash, or even making it into a mash and adding some grass-fed butter. I recommend half a cup to a full cup serving.



Carrots

Carrots make a great snack because they give you that crunch plus they have great flavor. If you like cooked carrots then try steaming or baking them and adding to your dinner.

Parsnips

Parsnips are a surprisingly sweet vegetable. Parsnips are great to spiralize into noodles, but you can also cut up in slices and bake in the oven. Because parsnips are on the sweeter side, I advise a cup or less for a serving.



 

Beets

I love beets because they have a great mix of sweetness and earthy flavor. I love adding about half a medium beet to a smoothie after a workout or roasting beets in the oven.



Main takeaways…

The above vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, fiber, and good carbs. These higher carb vegetables are nutrient dense, meaning you don’t need very much to get a high dose of nutrition. Unless you are watching your weight or you are very sensitive to carbs, you can eat as much of the above as you want. If you are trying to lose weight or you have a harder time with carbs, then you may want to limit serving sizes to a half a cup to one cup cooked of the above.



 

Saltiest Foods Making You Bloated and Heavy




Do you ever consider how much sodium you are consuming? Most individuals need under 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This might sound like a lot, but it actually adds up very quickly and most will actually eat twice as much of this recommended amount. Ok, so why should you care? Well, aside from being linked to heart problems and certain diseases, too much sodium can also make you very uncomfortable. This is because an overload of sodium in the body leads to fluid retention, weight gain, bloating, and all around puffiness – nobody wants any of that 🙂

The tricky thing about sodium is that a meal doesn’t even have to necessarily taste salty to be loaded with it, so it can be hard to tell how much sodium you are taking in. That is why it is best to at least have some understanding of what foods inherently have a higher level of sodium so that you can cut back on certain food items as needed.

Read below to learn where sodium is hiding in your foods:

Bread

Does bread taste salty to you? Nope, didn’t think so, but yes it is often loaded with sodium.

Decrease your sodium intake from bread by choosing lower sodium breads and by sticking to one piece of bread at a time (aka open face sandwich) or skipping the bread entirely.

Note: Bread includes ALL bread items such as pizza, toast, sandwiches, buns, breaded chicken or fish, etc.



Processed foods

Processed foods tend to be loaded with sodium to make them taste good. Check the sodium content and the serving size before buying.

Not sure what processed foods are? Think about it this way, any food that has more than one ingredient is likely a processed food. Processed foods are some of the worst foods you can eat anyway, so this is just another reason to cut back on them 🙂

Canned foods

Canned products such as beans and soups are often loaded with sodium, so definitely read the nutrition label before buying! Look for cans that say “low sodium” or “reduced sodium” so you know at least the brand is trying to lower the salt content.



Cheese

I LOVE cheese but cheese is definitely packed with sodium. You don’t have to cut cheese out, just watch portion sizes because the sodium can add up quickly with just a few bites. The saltiest cheeses include American, blue, parmesan, and feta.

Salted nuts

The thing about salted nuts is that it’s hard to stick to one serving which is typically 1/4 a cup, because the salt makes you want to eat more and more of the nuts. This leads to hundreds of milligrams of sodium added to your day without you even realizing it.

Instead of salted nuts, go for raw nuts which tend to be healthier anyway because they haven’t been processed or roasted like most salted nuts have.



Deli meat and cured meats

Deli meats and cured meats are some of the saltiest foods you can eat. Especially when you pair these with cheese or make a sandwich (think condiments, bread, cheese, etc).

Tomato based foods

Tomato based foods are typically loaded with sodium so be mindful of this when eating pasta, pizza, salsa, and tomato soup.

Condiments

Check the condiments you use on a regular basis for their sodium content and serving size. The sodium to serving size can be deceiving because the serving size is generally extremely small and most individuals tend to use at least triple the amount.

For example, mustard has around 50 mg of sodium in a teaspoon – who only uses a teaspoon? Ketchup has around 150-200 mg of sodium in a tablespoon – who uses only a tablespoon?



Restaurant dining

Most restaurant meals are loaded with sodium and just one meal can surpass a days worth of sodium – no bueno!

The worst offenders tend to be asian based dishes – think soy sauce, sweet and sour soup, broth, etc. The dishes with the least amount of sodium tend to be salads.

Main takeaways…

We do need some sodium in our diet, but most of us take in WAY too much sodium on a daily basis. Use the above as a reference for some of the saltiest foods that are out there and where you could cut back on your sodium intake.

Remember, all hope is not lost if you overdid it on salt one day – read this article on how to get rid of excess salt overnight to feel lighter faster.




How to Lose Weight Literally Overnight




Want to lose some weight overnight? You definitely can! The catch is that it won’t be fat, but it will be extra water weight that you are holding onto. Water weight can account for several unwanted pounds around your midsection as well as around your entire body. The trick to decreasing this extra water weight is to cut back on your sodium (aka salt) intake. Salt attracts water and so the more salt you have in your body, the more water you are going to hold onto.

Note: Our bodies do need some sodium – guidelines recommend a max of 2,300mg or 1,500mg for certain chronic conditions – but the majority of individuals are consuming more than double what is recommended, yikes!

Read below to learn how to cut back on your sodium intake and lose pounds fast:

Drink more water

It might seem counterproductive to drink more water when you are trying to lose water – am I right? But the extra water will help your body to flush out extra sodium you are holding on to. The worst thing you could do is to decrease your water intake because that will just make your body cling to every last drop it can hold on to.

Put it into action: Aim to get 64 ounces of water at least per day. If you are exercising, add on another 16-24 ounces or more. It’s pretty hard to drink too much water, so drink as much as you can.



Exercise

Exercise is probably the number one best way to get rid of extra water weight because when you sweat you are sweating out excess salts as well as excess water.

Put it into action: Aim to get a sweaty exercise session in at least 2 days a week, but more the better.

Assess food labels

A food doesn’t have to even taste salty to be loaded with sodium. Check the sodium and serving sizes of the foods you eat on the regular to identify areas where you might be loading up on sodium without even realizing it. Some foods that are packed with sodium that you may not realize include condiments, bread, cereal, and deli meats.

Put it into action: Measure out serving sizes to make sure you aren’t taking in more sodium then you want and choose foods with lower sodium.



Load up on vegetables

Vegetables are essentially sodium-free and are high in water, both of which will prevent your body from holding onto excess fluid.

Put it into action: Aim to get a handful of vegetables at every meal, you don’t have to change anything about your meal just add the veggies in.

Load up on fruits

The sodium in fruits is negligible and fruits are also high in water which will help your body to flush out excess sodium from your body.

Put it into action: Load up on low-sugar, high-water fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, and melon



Eat potassium and magnesium rich foods

Potassium and magnesium in particular are minerals that will help your body to get rid of the extra salt and water.

Put it into action: Eat foods high in magnesium and potassium such as bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados.

Dine in

The unfortunate truth about dining out is that the meals tend to be packed with sodium without you even realizing it. When you make your own meals you have full control over everything that goes into your meal and you know exactly how much sodium is in it.

Put it into action: Make your favorite meals at home and incorporate whole foods that are low in sodium such as vegetables and fish.

Main takeaways…

You can literally lose weight overnight, you just need to drink more water, load up on water-rich foods, get sweaty, and cut back on salty foods.




Simple Swaps To Cut Carbs and Calories





Let me start this first by saying that some carbs in your diet are completely fine, but most of us are consuming WAY too many carbs without even realizing it. We tend to overeat carbs because it’s easy to do so – they don’t keep us as full as fat and protein. Unfortunately, this overload of carbs and calories leads to weight gain, blood sugar issues, and various chronic diseases. 

Read below to learn simple swaps to decrease carbs and calories in your diet:

Instead of rice…

All forms of rice are high in carbs and calories, and are low in fiber, low in protein, and low in fat. What happens when you eat something high in carbs and low in everything else? You eat more and more because it takes longer to get full and satisfied.

Use cauliflower rice!

You can either make cauliflower rice at home by finely chopping cauliflower or by using a blender, or go the easy route and buy already riced cauliflower from the grocery store. Cauliflower rice has that same crunch as regular rice and acts as a great base for meals – without the calories and carbs.



Instead of pasta…

It’s no secret that pasta is very dense in carbs and calories – one cup has at least 40 grams of carbs and over 200 calories! And this is without sauce or anything else added to it, plus most individuals eat double or triple the serving size – talk about a food coma!

Use butternut squash!

Butternut squash noodles still give you that texture of pasta but without all of the carbs and calories! One cup of squash noodles has around 80 calories and 15 grams of net carbs. Many restaurants now offer butternut squash rather than pasta noodles or you can make it at home yourself.

Instead of pancake flour…

Flour for making pancakes tends to be high in calories, high in carbs, and low in nutritional value.

Use banana!

Replace the flour with a mashed banana! Bananas have some carbs, but they also have fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health.



Instead of jams and jellies…

Jams and jellies are normally made of sugar, syrup, artificial flavoring and colorings – you’re better off with just plain sugar in this case!

Use berries

Mash up some berries and use this instead! Berries have enough sweetness on their own and don’t need all of the sugars and syrups added to make them taste good.



Instead of toast

Toast tends to be high in carbs and low in fiber.

Use sweet potato

Thinly sliced baked sweet potato not only tastes delicious, but also cuts down on carbs and gives you more fiber.

Instead of tortilla

Tortillas tend to be the highest in terms of calories and carbs – you’re better off with bread if you had to choose between the two!

Use lettuce

The best part of a burrito or taco is the filling, so skip the tortilla shell and use a lettuce leaf instead!



Instead of chips

Think about how chips are so easy to overeat, it’s because they are high in carbs and calories, and low in fiber and nutrition.

Use sliced veggies

Sliced veggies like carrots still give you that crunch but are much lower in calories and carbs and high in nutritional value.



Instead of mashed potatoes

White potatoes are packed with carbs and low in fiber.

Use mashed cauliflower

You won’t be able to tell the difference! An easy way to make mashed cauliflower is to steam cauliflower until it is soft, then mash yourself or use a blender. Super simple and delicious without all of the calories and carbs.

Main takeaways…

Not only are the above foods going to help to cut carbs and empty calories from your diet, but they are also a great way to add more nutrients into your diet!

 




Food Products You Didn’t Know Contained Gluten




What is gluten?

First of all, what is gluten? Gluten is the main group of proteins found in wheat and other cereal grains, including barley and rye. Gluten is often added to food products because it is elastic and acts like a glue to bind ingredients together.

What’s the problem with gluten?

The problem with gluten is that it can be highly inflammatory for many individuals, and may even set off an immune response in highly sensitive individuals.

Below lists the top food products you likely didn’t know were packed with gluten:

Couscous

Couscous may not look like a typical gluten containing food, but it is most definitely not a gluten-free food. Couscous is made from wheat so if you are trying to avoid gluten, then you will want to avoid consuming couscous.



Brownies

Brownies may not look like they contain gluten either, but yes, unfortunately they do. Note that all desserts that come from boxes (also including cookies and cakes) will likely contain gluten. Look for gluten-free versions of your favorite treats.

Gravy

Most gravies contain flour to thicken them up, and flour is gluten. Unless the gravy specifically says it is gluten-free, assume that gravy is loaded with gluten. Don’t want to give up gravy on Thanksgiving? Make your own! There are countless recipes online for gluten-free gravy.



Imitation crab

Be aware that sushi restaurants will use imitation crab for some of their rolls, most notably California rolls. Gluten is often mixed within the imitation crab, meaning you are consuming gluten without even realizing it. Ask the restaurant if they use imitation crab (hopefully they don’t!) and if they do, then avoid ordering rolls that contain it.



Salad dressing

Many salad dressings will have wheat products added to help keep the ingredients together. For this reason, skip the salad dressing or just use plain old olive oil and vinegar.

Bonus tip:

Instead of using salad dressing, try using another binding agent such as hummus or guacamole. For a full list of salad dressing alternatives read here.



Soy sauce

You might be surprised to hear that soy sauce contains gluten, but yes, it is loaded with it. Soy sauce is made from fermented wheat, making it a highly gluten containing food. Look out for other marinades and sauces that use soy sauce as an ingredient, such as teriyaki sauce.

Bonus tip:

If you love the flavor of soy sauce, try liquid aminos which is gluten-free. This is what we will use when we order sushi, or we’ll add to veggies to boost the flavors.

Oats

Unless the oats specifically say gluten-free, assume they contain gluten. Oats in themselves are gluten-free, but most of the time they are processed with wheat products making them non gluten-free.



Meatloaf

Meatloaf typically is made with breadcrumbs, so unless these breadcrumbs are gluten-free, assume you are getting gluten if you order this. Other tasty foods that fall into this category are crab cakes, croutons, and anything breaded.

Cornbread

Even though “bread” is in the name, many do not realize that cornbread is not gluten free. This is because most recipes call for wheat flour to be mixed with corn flour for making cornbread. Unless you see that the cornbread is labeled gluten-free, assume it is packed with gluten.



Licorice

Wheat is often used to bind all of the ingredients together in licorice. There are many sticky candies that use wheat or another gluten agent to bind the ingredients together, so always try and read the ingredient list – or just cut the gummies out completely!

Pie

The gluten in pie typically will come from the crust because most pie crusts are made with gluten containing products, such as flour.

Canned soup

Many canned soups will contain gluten and wheat products to help bind the ingredients together.

Alcohol

Many different types of alcohol contain gluten, including, whiskey, bourbon, and rye.

Wine, tequila, and rum should be free from gluten and are ok to consume if you are trying not to take in gluten.



Pickles

Pickles themselves are gluten-free, but often pickles have malt vinegar applied to them which comes from wheat. Look for pickles that have been pickled using white vinegar or are specifically labeled gluten-free.

Main takeaways..

Gluten is in a wide variety of foods, both savory and sweet, and there really isn’t a great way to tell if a food contains gluten or not – just assume it does contain gluten unless proven otherwise. It is important to note that there are many MANY other foods that contain gluten, but above are some of the most commonly unknown sources.

Resources

  1. https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/sources-of-gluten/




Top 10 Reasons To Eat More Fiber




Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Unlike other carbohydrates that eventually get broken down into sugar, fiber passes through the digestive tract undigested. This indigestible property of fiber is what makes it so unique and why it has amazing health benefits. Guidelines recommend you consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day, unfortunately, the majority of individuals get less than half this amount. Understanding the amazing benefits of fiber is crucial to prompt you to consume more of it, read below!

Below lists the top 10 reasons to eat more fiber:

1. Prevents hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a very common condition I see in practice in both men and women, and can be very painful and irritating. Did you know that eating enough fiber is part of the protocal to prevent hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are inflamed veins in the rectum that can be internal or external and cause a great deal of pain. Prevent hemorrhoids by eating a high fiber diet now.



2. Keeps you full

Unlike other foods that your body is able to break down so that your cells can absorb their nutrients and calories, fiber can’t be broken down at all.  Your body will still try very hard to break down fiber, which ultimately slows down the digestion of your food through your digestive tract, making you feel fuller longer preventing constant hunger and snacking.



3. Prevents constipation

Fiber adds bulk to your stool to allow for easier bowel movements through your digestive tract. Eating enough fiber is essential to preventing constipation and is the number one treatment for constipation – along with drinking enough water. If you aren’t eating any fiber or if you are eating very low fiber, there is no bulk to your stool to pull it down which means it will sit longer in your digestive tract.



4. Adds texture to your meals

Fiber adds that crunch that we crave and adds great texture to foods. Compare eating and apple to drinking apple juice. That crunch we get from munching on an apple is the fiber, whereas there is zero crunch with apple juice because it is straight water and sugar without the fiber. This is why eating an actual food is always better than drinking the juice of the food.



5. Calorie Free

Your body can’t absorb the calories from fiber and you may even burn calories from trying to digest it. Pretty amazing right! Fiber is literally the one thing that can eat that will never lead to fat gain.



6. Decreases bad cholesterol

Increasing fiber is the best natural way to decrease cholesterol, and is always my number one recommendation when I see patients who have high bad cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to bad cholesterol in your body and removes it physically from your body when you release a bowel movement.



7. Prevents high blood sugar

As discussed above, fiber slows digestion, meaning if it is taken with a high sugar food it will help to blunt the blood sugar spike that typically comes from that food.



8. Keeps the weight off

Due to all the reasons above (keeping you full, keeping your blood sugar stable, etc) you are less likely to overeat because the fiber slows things down and makes you feel more satisfied. Fiber also causes your body to burn more calories just from trying to digest it, and fiber may bind to calories and remove them from your body before they are absorbed.



9. May prevent cancer

Eating a diet high in fiber is associated with decreased chance of colon cancer. This may be due to how fiber soaks up toxins and removes it from your body with each trip to the restroom.



10. Prevents diverticular disease

Diverticular disease is inflammation and herniation of the muscular walls of the colon, and is very serious and normally presents as very painful stomach pain. The best way to prevent diverticular disease is by eating a high fiber diet.



Main takeaway…

Increase your fiber to at least 25 grams per day to reap all of the above benefits! The most fiber rich whole foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.



References

  1. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/dietary-fiber.html
  2. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/factsheets/Dietary_Fiber.pdf
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
  4. https://online.epocrates.com/diseases/1644/Diverticular-disease/Prevention




Healthy Meal Ideas on a Budget




If you read my article on the cheapest health foods to buy (read here) then this article will help to put those foods and more into easy meal ideas for you. I had to learn how to prepare healthy meals on a tight budget when I was in college for several years, and these are the meals that I ate in college and some that I still eat today – some I got to burnt out on and don’t eat on the regular anymore 😉

Read below to learn simple, healthy, and cost effective meal ideas:

Nut butter banana sandwich

This is my all time favorite sandwich that I lived off of in college and I still make it all of the time even today. This sandwich is so simple, takes very little prep, and is super cheap! All you need is a nut butter of your choice, a banana, and bread or pita or a wrap.

Recipe: 

1 tortilla wrap, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons almond butter. Add all ingredients to the wrap, fold in half and enjoy.

Cost: around $1.50 per sandwich



Loaded oatmeal

I made oatmeal almost every single morning in college, but I added more to it to make it healthy and delicious. I normally would start with oats, then add chia seeds for some fiber, stir in an egg to get high quality protein, and then stir in a banana and/or top with frozen berries. All of the above ingredients are super cheap and healthy, and really make this oatmeal filling.

Recipe:

1/2 cup oats, 1-2 eggs or egg whites, 1-2 Tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup frozen berries. Mix all together on a stove and add water to the consistency of your preference.

Cost: $1.50 to $2.50

Eggs with eggs

Eggs are the all around best food you can buy for your money! They are one of the healthiest foods you can eat plus they taste great and are super cheap! I recommend always going for organic or pasture-raised eggs.

There are SO many ways to enjoy eggs, but one easy recipe is just cooking eggs on the stove and eating them on their own.

Recipe:

4 eggs. Crack in a pan with cooking spray or coconut oil. Enjoy!

Cost: $1.00 to $1.50 per meal (4 eggs)



Oatmeal banana cookies

These are my FAVORITE cookies and they are so simple and super cheap to make. Literally all you need is a couple bananas and some oats, but you can also add cinnamon, vanilla, or other spices of your preference. You can either have these as a snack or make as a meal.

Recipe:

1 banana, 1/2 cup oats, cinnamon. Mix all together. Form into balls and place on baking sheet at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Cost: about $0.50 for the above recipe

Vegan quinoa salad

Quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein, making it a great protein choice for vegans and vegetarians. Quinoa is incredibly versatile and pairs well with just about anything.

Recipe:

1 bag frozen vegetables, 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa. Roast the bag of veggies and cook the quinoa on the stove. Option to add 2 Tbsp of hummus or other dip, spices, and sauce such as soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.

Cost: $3.00 to $3.50 per meal

Non-vegan tip: Take the recipe above and add organic chicken, fish, or eggs for extra protein. This will mean adding on somewhere between $1.00 to $5.00 to the cost.



Chicken salad

When I refer to “salad” I don’t just mean leafy greens, but cooked vegetables as well. You get more bang for your buck with cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower compared to leafy greens. This is because cruciferous vegetables have more fiber and more nutrients, meaning they will fill you up and make you feel more satisfied. As I stated in the article about buying healthy foods on the cheap (read here), I recommend buying frozen vegetables and uncooked organic protein to save money.

Recipe:

1 bag frozen vegetables, 1 chicken breast. Roast the veggies in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Cook the chicken breast on the stove with coconut oil. Option to add 2 Tbsp of dip such as hummus, spices, and sauce such as soy sauce.

Cost: $7.00 to $8.00 per meal

Egg salad

If you don’t want to go to prepare chicken or fish then try eggs instead. Eggs are a complete protein just like other animal products, but are easier to cook and are less expensive.

Recipe:

1 bag of frozen vegetables, 2-4 organic eggs. Roast the veggies in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Choose your favorite way to prepare eggs (hard boiled, fried, poached, etc) and top your veggies with the eggs. Option to add 2 Tbsp of dip such as hummus, spices, and sauce such as soy sauce.

Cost: around $3.50 to $5.00 per meal



Protein smoothie

Smoothies are great because they are an easy way to pack in a ton of nutrition and keep you hydrated at the same time, plus if you are in a rush you can take them on the go with you and drink along the way.

Recipe:

There are so many ways to make healthy and cheap smoothies – I could dedicate an entire article to that! – but the most simple recipe is a scoop of protein powder, 7 cubes of ice, 1-2 cups of water, 1/2 cup frozen berries or 1/2 frozen banana all added to a blender.

Protein powder tip: I recommend finding a protein powder that has 5 or less grams of sugar, less than 10 net carbs, and around 20 grams of protein per serving. Also make sure you like it! If you don’t like the taste, you won’t want to make the smoothie.

Cost: $2.00 to $2.50

Paleo pancakes

These are the simplest pancakes and only require two ingredients: banana and egg. They are also very healthy and packed with protein to keep you full for hours.

Recipe:

1 banana 2-3 eggs. Mix the banana with the eggs, cook on the stove. Enjoy! You can eat the pancakes just like this, or add nut butter on top for some healthy fat and extra nutrients.

Cost: $1.00 to $1.50 per meal



Avocado egg salad

Avocados aren’t necessarily the cheapest food, but when you pair them with eggs it makes for a super healthy and cheap meal! It’s fine to go cheaper and buy non-organic avocados because the thick outer shell should protect the inside from pesticides and other chemicals.

Recipe:

1 small avocado, 2-3 hard-boiled eggs. Mash the avocado and add to chopped hard-boiled eggs. Option to add spices such as paprika, pepper, and hot sauce.

Avocado tip: I recommend buying small avocados so that you can use the entire avocado for one meal.

Cost: $3.25 to $4.00 per meal

Main takeaways…

These are just a few of many healthy meals you can make on a budget. You can certainly make variations of the above, omit or add other ingredients to your preference, and use this list of healthy cheap foods to guide you. No excuse not to eat healthy anymore! 🙂




 

A Calorie is Not a Calorie.





Calories are essentially units of energy that you get from the carbohydrate, protein, and fat content of foods you eat and are used by the body to perform basic function of living such as breathing, digesting, walking, talking, etc.

Simply put, calories become a problem when you absorb more calories than you need because they will be stored as fat for later use. This may have been great during the caveman years when food was scarce, however that is not the case today.

A very common misconception is that all calories are created equal, and that 100 calories of say potato chips are absorbed the same way as 100 calories of say chicken. Here are some reasons why calorie counting doesn’t always add up and some incentives to eat more natural foods:

1. Your body does not absorb all calories from some foods. 


For example, almonds. Recent studies have found that about 20% of the calories from almonds are not absorbed by the body. This means if a package advertises a serving of almonds to be 160-170 calories, you are actually only absorbing about 120-130 calories. Read more about this here.

2. You body absorbs more calories from cooked foods compared to raw foods.

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Cooking breaks down the bonds in food that hold it together, which makes it easier for your digestive system to break down the food. In effect, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the food and less energy and calories are lost to digestion. When foods are raw, all of the bonds are intact making your digestive system work harder to break down the food. Think about when you bite into a raw carrot compared to a cooked one, which is easier? Read more about this here.



 3. Your body burns more calories with protein. 


Up to 30% of calories from protein are lost to digestion, meaning if you eat 100 calories of protein you are only really absorbing 70 of them. This is because proteins are built up of several amino acids, which very have strong bonds holding them together. It takes a lot of effort by your digestive system to break these bonds down, in effect causing you to take in less calories.



 4. Your body absorbs less calories with fiber. 


There are a couple main reasons you will take in less calories with fiber rich foods. First of all, the human body cannot absorb the calories from fiber. This means the calories listed in your food that are attributable to fiber are not actually used (fiber is listed as a carbohydrate in nutrition labels with 4 calories per gram). Secondly, our digestive systems work extra hard attempting to break down fiber leading to more calories being lost in the digestion process. This means your net calorie intake from fiber rich foods is a fraction of what the nutrition label might say.

5. Your body absorbs less calories from whole foods compared to processed foods. 


The reasons behind this are similar to cooked versus raw food in that bonds have been broken down during the manufacturing process to make foods easier for you to eat. A good example of this was a study done that had individuals eat one of two sandwiches. The sandwiches had exactly the same number of calories, differing only in the amount of processing they had undergone. One was white bread with processed cheese and the other was a multi-grain bread and cheddar cheese. Researchers found that it took about 50% more energy digesting the multi-grain sandwich with cheddar cheese and this resulted in about 10% less calories absorbed. Read more about this here.



Another way to think about this is comparing biting into a chip to biting into an apple, which do you think takes more work to break down just starting with the mouth? Food companies are smart, they know the easier a food is eat, the more you will eat, and the faster the food will be absorbed. Unfortunately this leads to not only overeating and absorbing every single calorie ingested, but will also be unlikely to keep you full for long considering virtually all nutrients have been stripped from your food in the manufacturing process.

6. Gut bacteria can influence how many calories are absorbed. 


Gut bacteria help with the breakdown of food and effect the amount of calories you absorb from food. Research shows that there are two main types of gut bacteria that regulate calorie absorption, the firmicutes and the bacteroidetes. Obese individuals tend to have more firmicutes in their gut while lean individuals tend to have more bacteroidetes. Researchers attribute this to firmicutes being able to extract more calories from food and store it, leading to weight gain.

A sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in fat and sugar has been found to increase the firmicutes in the gut, while physical activity and a diet high in plants and low in sugar and fat is associated with more bacteroidetes in the gut. This is a relatively new research area, and more research is currently being done to better understand the role of bacteria in our gut.