5 Tips to Reset your Diet This Spring

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

During the winter, we always tend to enlist warm, comforting foods so that we can ride out the colder months. And studies have actually shown that we consume more calories overall during the cold seasons. 

At best, these dishes may include homemade stews, casseroles, chilis, and more. But when it’s dark and cold outside, it might be tempting to get food delivered directly to the cozy confines of our couch… without any cooking required.

If you pair these heavier-than-usual meals with the basic fact that most people work out less during the winter, you can find yourself feeling less than your best when spring rolls around. But hey, that happens. The key is to not let a few months of indulgent eating turn into a few more.

Today, we’re here to explore the five sure-fire ways you can reset your diet this spring and turn the rest of the year into the best of the year.

#1 START MEAL PLANNING

If you’re hungry around 7 p.m. and you don’t have a dinner plan, even your best intentions will tend to go awry. You should avoid hunger-induced decisions by always planning your meals ahead of time. 

So buy groceries and do some meal prep on Sunday (or whenever you have the time) so you’re always equipped with healthy options for every night. Healthier decisions are easy when you have a full fridge and you’re equipped with a game plan. 

#2 TAKE THINGS ONE MEAL AT A TIME

Between all your duties at work, with your family, in your social life, or in your other obligations, something has to give. Unfortunately, the expense is often our health. 

If prioritizing your diet feels a little intimidating, you should try starting with one meal every day. You could try making your oats overnight so you can bring them to work and make sure you have a healthy breakfast to start the day. 

If your dinner is the one meal you want to target, simply create a weekly menu of what you’ll eat every night. Once you can just get one of your daily meals under your total control, you can begin to address the others. But, you might notice that this relatively small step is enough to make a drastic impact on your entire health and diet.

#3 FOCUS ON ADDING, NOT SUBTRACTING

Denying yourself all your favorite foods is a recipe for disaster. You’re likely going to start craving these foods and you’ll sabotage all your hard work by simply overdoing it. Instead, think about adding new healthy options to your daily menu and plate. If you want to eat a pizza, eat a pizza. 

But don’t go heavy on the garlic bread and pair that pizza with a large salad. This will ensure you get plenty of fresh, healthy produce at every meal and filling your stomach with greens might mean you eat less pizza overall.

#4 START LOGGING YOUR MEALS

Tracking what you’re eating is the perfect way to understand how many calories and nutrients you’re getting on a daily basis. You can use apps, notes, journals, or anything that allows you to keep track of a database in which you can list all the individual foods you eat. 

Beyond all the eye-opening intel that comes with understanding your daily calorie consumption, logging your meals will help keep you accountable and achieve smaller, short-term goals you set for yourself.

#5 USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM

Everything is easier if you’re doing it with the support of someone close to you. So find someone near you who wants to make a similar, positive change in themselves… and do it together! 

There’s really no one way to describe this approach. For example, if your spouse is along for the ride, you should trade-off the grocery shopping and cooking. If it’s a colleague of yours, you can bring healthy lunches to the office together and keep yourself accountable. And if you’re doing it with a long-distance friend, you should check-in periodically with encouraging texts. It doesn’t matter what approach you choose, as long as you’re not going to undertake this effort all alone.

6 Breakfast Rules to Follow for Better Performance

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether you want to call it your breakfast or just the first meal you’re eating later on in the day, what you choose to eat will determine the quality of your nutrition and set you up for weight loss success or failure. 

Eating as soon as you wake up in the morning isn’t exactly necessary, but there’s strong research pointing to the fact that eating a balanced breakfast is one of the best ways to start your day.

Your metabolism can get a real boost from eating in the morning and nutritious choices will set your pace for the rest of the day.

To ensure you make the most out of your breakfast when you’re aiming to lose weight, here are a few rules you can follow to make sure you’re maximizing your breakfast every day.

#1 MAKE YOUR BREAKFAST SAVORY, NOT SWEET

Too often, you’ll see people eating sugar-heavy meals for breakfast. This means elevated insulin levels first thing in the morning. The result? An energy crash. For example, oatmeal with honey and fruit-based smoothies are some of the more popular breakfast choices out there because they seem healthy. And even though they are, they might not lead to the best choices in terms of weight loss. Having a sweet breakfast will likely lead you to crave more sugar throughout the day.

Instead, make your breakfast savory. Include healthy fats, complex carbs, and think in terms of eggs with avocado or a veggie hash with toast and sausage.

#2 INCLUDE A LOT OF PROTEIN

Protein is a satiating macronutrient, and consuming it sends signals to the brain that you’re full. This means you’re not going to feel as ravenous by the time lunch rolls around. And eating more protein has other benefits, too! Consuming adequate, high-quality proteins will help you avoid losing muscle while you’re on a caloric deficit, which often happens with weight loss, especially when you try to lose too much weight too fast.

#3 EXCLUDE “NAKED” CARBOHYDRATES

It’s true – carbohydrates are an important source of energy in the morning, but it’s much smarter to pair that toast or cereal with some fat, fiber, or protein to up the satiety factor and keep your blood sugar levels stable. In fact, you can get in all of the essential components (protein, carbs, fat, and fiber) and guarantee yourself a balanced breakfast. That could mean adding avocado and egg to a toast or some Greek yogurt and nuts to a handful of berries.

#4 DON’T DRINK CALORIES

A massive amount of people in the world start their days off with coffee. However, sugar, oils, flavored creamers, and butter used in drinks like instant coffee will turn your morning cup of coffee into a sugar-heavy dessert. 

If you can, try drinking your coffee black or with just a splash of milk. While it may take some time to adjust to the new taste, eventually, you’re going to love the fact that the calories in your coffee will be basically around zero.  

Similarly, you can make sure your smoothies have a great mix of healthy fats and protein. You can save up on calories by adding some spices and even using water or milk as a base instead of fruit juice.

#5 PUT YOUR BREAKFAST ON A PLATE

We often tend to eat breakfast on the go. But whenever you can, make sure to sit down and take a minute to savor your meal. Seeing your food placed on a plate or inside a bowl will help you stay in touch with your portions and avoid the risk of overeating while getting distracted. Any meal is much more satisfying when you consume it mindfully. Not only that, but this approach will help you feel fuller sooner, one key benefit that allows you to avoid feelings of deprivation as you’re losing weight.

#6 ALWAYS TRY TO FIND TRENDS

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you realize you get unusually hungry around 4 p.m. on some days and not others? Or find yourself craving certain foods later in the day after skipping breakfast?

Most likely, the cause of this is directly tied to your nutrition and how well you’re able to provide your body with a good balance of proteins, carbs, fats, and fiber earlier in the day. 

By managing your meal intake either through an app on your phone or with an old-school pen and paper will help you find trends that allow you to manage your dietary habits much more effectively. 

You can save yourself hundreds of calories every day and still feel more energized if you give your body what it needs at the right time every day. 

7 Foods to Avoid Before a Workout (and What to Try Instead)

Hey Angels and Alphas,

What to consume right before heading off to the gym can be an important consideration for many active people, but what NOT to consume can be just as important when determining the quality of your pre-workout nutrition. 

Exercise exercises a massive amount of blood to be pumped through your working muscles, and consequently, blood flow to the stomach is usually reduced while you’re training. Because of this, you don’t really want your stomach to be working harder than it has to. 

While some athletes do have an iron stomach that can take on anything, most people, in general, should avoid consuming these 7 foods we’re about to discuss:

#1 BEANS

Think in terms of black bean burgers and veggie-bean burritos. Beans are not exactly easy for the body to digest, so they’re often linked to excess productions of gas and difficult digestion. Athletes on high-fiber vegetarian diets may have a GI tract that’s naturally adjusted to handle a load of beans with no problems, but for most people, it’s a pre-workout fiber bomb. It’s a culprit for an upset stomach because of the indigestible carbohydrate raffinose, which beans are an abundant source of.

#2 CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES

We’re talking about broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and more. While these vegetables are traditionally healthy and contain antioxidant properties, the high amounts of sulfur-containing compounds inside them might cause excess production of gas. These veggies are naturally abundant in raffinose, making eating a bowl of veggies before a workout session practically a guarantee for digestive distress. 

#3 DAIRY PRODUCTS

If you’re sensitive or even intolerant to lactose, it’s important to avoid it. Especially before training. Lactose-intolerant athletes should definitely stay away from lactose-heavy dairy products such as soft cheeses and milk because they could lead to intestinal cramping. Hard cheeses, kefir, yogurt, and lactose-free milk are all delicious dairy options you can still go for if you’re on a low-lactose diet.

#4 FRIED FOODS

Before you head off to the gym, do your best to avoid greasy foods such as fries, pizza, burgers, and their equals. They contain high amounts of saturated fats that stay in the digestive system for longer and are difficult to digest. They can cause bloating and cramping.

#5 FRUIT JUICE

While natural fruit juice does contain carbs and fluids (which are both important pre-workout requirements,) chugging down a cup of juice immediately before a workout is definitely not a good idea. Fruit juice is abundant in fructose, a natural sugar that cannot digest as quickly and could cause stomach cramping, especially for people with irritable bowel syndrome of sensitivities to fructose. Juices such as orange juice or tart cherry are a great choice for active people as they provide you with vitamins and minerals required for your body to recover, but it’s best to consume them as a part of your post-workout smoothie or a meal at least an hour before your workout.

#6 DESSERTS

Pastries, scones, and ice creams are a big “no” on today’s list. Desserts are high in cream, butter, and oils – they’re not what your body needs when it’s trying to perform at its best.

#7 SPICY FOODS

While some people might have no problem training after eating an extra-hot bowl of Thai food, spicy foods stimulate our digestive system so much they can even cause heartburn, which is definitely not what you want during a workout. Before working out, athletes are advised to avoid spicy foods for up to 24 hours so they can give their digestive tract much-needed rest.

HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD FUEL UP WITH INSTEAD

Before a workout, you want to choose bland foods that are easy to digest.

Next time you’re running out the door for a workout, stick to a simple carbohydrate that can be easily digested. Some good options here include a slice of toast with jam, a banana, a box of raisings, or a few sips of a sports drink. 

If you’ve got at least an hour before your workout, here are a few more satiating options to consider:

  • Turkey sandwich on some whole-grain bread
  • A bagel with banana and peanut butter
  • Rice bowl with veggies and chicken
  • Oatmeal with nut butter and fresh berries 
  • Smoothie bowl or yogurt

14 Nutrition Buzzwords – Explained

Hey Angels and Alphas,

With a plethora of buzzwords popping up day after day in the nutrition and weight loss world, you might be caught in a web of words that’s, to say the least, overwhelming. 

Though there’s no one way to define what’s clean, healthy, or natural when it comes to the foods we eat, we can make an effort to learn some of the more popular terms and buzzwords that are gaining traction in the fitness world.

Today, we’re here to do exactly that. By exploring 14 of the most popular nutrition buzzwords that are gaining more and more prevalence in 2022.

Let’s get started.

#1 ANTIOXIDANTS

Antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium not only delay, but prevent cell damage by removing or even calming the potentially dangerous agents naturally produced inside your body. 

In a nutshell, they help protect your cells and play a key role in preventing a lot of chronic diseases. They’re abundantly present in veggies and fruits.

#2 CRUCIFEROUS

This refers to a family of vegetables, including cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. In short, this describes anything in the family Brassicaceae, also known as Cruciferae. They’re called this way because their petals form the shape of a cross and they’re touted for their health benefits. 

Some of those include a high antioxidant content, high fiber, and glucosinolates, which research has shown have a significant effect on some chronic diseases. 

#3 GLUTEN-FREE

Gluten is a mixture of proteins that are naturally found in wheat and some grains. It’s found in any food that’s made from wheat, barley, or rye, as well as countless processed foods. Foods that have “gluten-free” on the label simply do not contain these proteins. 

#4 KETO

Keto is the rising star in the diet world and it’s reminiscent of Atkins and other low or no-carb diets. Keto is a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat, designed to put the body in a state of ketosis in which the body is forced to utilize fat and some amino acids for energy instead of carbs.

#5 MACRONUTRIENTS

Macronutrients refer to protein, carbohydrates, and fats. In other words, your “macros.” These big three macronutrient groups are essential and should not be eliminated from your diet in the long term.

#6 MICRONUTRIENTS

Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals. They make up the collection of micronutrients and play a critical role in keeping your body and metabolism functioning well.

#7 METABOLISM

Metabolism is an umbrella term used to describe all the chemical processes that keep the body alive and functioning. These processes require energy in the form of calories which is where the measure of calorie burn starts to gain importance.

#8 OMEGA-3’S

These are fatty acids that include alpha-linolenic acid naturally found in plant oils, as well as eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid. They’re both found in marine oils. They have been shown to play a vital role in brain function and metabolism.

#9 ORGANIC

Organic foods are foods that are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. They also, by definition, cannot contain modified organisms. But organic doesn’t always mean healthy. Organic sugar is still, at the end of the day, a form of added sugar.

#10 PALEO

Paleo is a way of eating based on the early human days of hunters and gatherers. Followers of Paleo stick to plenty of fruits, veggies, meat, seafood, and nuts while eliminating most types of dairy, beans, and grains.

#11 PHYTONUTRIENTS

Phytonutrients are healthy compounds such as polyphenols and antioxidants that are naturally found in veggies and fruits. They’re simply nutrients that are found in plants. “Phyto” just means “plant.” All of them have different functions, and therefore, benefits. Many yet to be discovered. 

Though this is not the only indicator, you might be clued in that some types of phytonutrients present as the different colors of certain fruits and veggies. Orange foods such as pumpkin and sweet potatoes are great sources of beta-carotene. Red foods such as watermelon are abundant in lycopene.

#12 PROBIOTICS

These healthy bacteria (or live cultures) populate your gut microbiome and even help promote digestive and immune health. You’ll find an abundance of probiotics inside kefir and yogurt, as well as other fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut.

#13 PREBIOTICS

In simple words, prebiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut. These good bacteria helpers are usually found in foods such as bananas, asparagus, onions, garlic, honey, sunchokes, chicory, and more.

#14 SUPERFOODS

As of yet, superfoods have no clear definition. The term refers to foods that allow you to get the most nutrition per bite. Compared to some other foods, they deliver more antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Though you’ll see many powders and supplements claiming that they’re a “superfood”, everyday foods such as berries and avocados usually top the list. 

Why Low Blood Sugar Is Disrupting Your Sleep

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night after a post-work weight loss cardio session… or felt really restless as soon as the time came to go to bed? One of the possible culprits could be a drop in blood sugar.

How can your blood sugar drop as you’re spending the entire night sleeping? Low blood sugar can be one of the culprits to restless sleep because even though your body is sleeping, your body is still using up glucose as an energy source for your internal bodily processes to function. 

That could result in sweatiness, shakiness, stress, and other responses that keep you up at night. Low blood sugar can also be called hypoglycemia.

But we all know getting quality sleep is important for everyone. In fact, not getting enough quality sleep will negatively affect your health and weight, and people who tend to low in fewer hours of sleep or don’t get consistent sleep are more likely to have a higher body mass index. Making sure you’re getting in enough quality sleep is actually one of the foundational cornerstones of a good weight loss strategy.

WHY YOUR BLOOD SUGAR DROPS AT NIGHT (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT)

While natural alternations in blood sugar are often thought to only apply to people who struggle with diabetes, adults without diabetes also experience the same dips and raises in their blood sugar which all have effects on the body. How much you eat, what you eat, and at what times are also factors that will impact your blood sugar levels.

Here are a couple of reasons why your blood sugar might slump around bedtime…

#1 IF YOU SKIPPED DINNER OR DIDN’T EAT ENOUGH

If you skipped your last meal of the night either because you were too busy or you did it intentionally, the result would likely be a small slump in blood sugar. Or maybe you didn’t eat enough and went to bed on an empty stomach. 

You might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to fall asleep with an empty stomach. That’s a good time to grab a light, nutritious snack, even if it’s an odd time to be eating. It’s perfectly natural to listen to your body’s hunger cues. 

To make sure this doesn’t happen in the future, make sure you’re consuming a balanced dinner that keeps your blood sugar steady – and that you’re not going to bed hungry.  

#2 YOU ATE THE WRONG BEDTIME SNACK

A pint of ice cream, crackers, chocolate, or cookies can all be examples of bedtime snacks that have a negative effect on your blood sugar. High-sugar, low-fiber snacks can cause a big spike and then a sharp drop in blood sugar (and this can happen even during the night as you’re sleeping.)

A better option might actually be a snack that pairs high-fiber carbohydrates with a food that’s high in protein – this combo will trigger an even, balanced blood sugar response. One example could be Greek yogurt sprinkled with some whole-grain granola or cottage cheese and berries. 

#3 IF YOU DRINK ALCOHOL

Some people actually find that drinking alcohol before bed causes their blood sugar to drop. This happens because alcohol increases your insulin response (which can take your blood sugar levels down very low), and this inhibits the natural processes through which the body can turn non-carbohydrates into glucose. 

It’s important to keep your drinking to a minimum if you want to decrease its negative effects. If anything, it does not help that a potential hangover could be a part of your morning. So try to decrease the amount you drink at night when you’re out with family and friends. Sip water after every drink so you can offset the dehydration that comes with alcohol, which can make things much, much worse.

#4 IF YOU’RE WORKING OUT HARD BEFORE GOING TO BED

When you start a strength training workout or head out for your run, your body will release stress hormones that increase blood sugar. This is all natural and normal, and in the end, exercise will improve blood sugar levels as a whole. 

However, if you exercise with high intensity before bed, you may cause a spike and then dip in blood sugar similar to what you would do if you ate something sugary before bed.

Here, you have two options: either experiment to find the correct timing for your exercise or at least make sure you eat something after your workout (if late-night workouts are your thing to begin with.)

The Easiest Exercise Regime for Losing Weight

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you want to lose fat, it all comes down to the calories in vs calories out equation, also known as creating a caloric deficit. And you need it over and over every day. Without a caloric deficit, you will find it much more challenging to achieve weight loss results. Do it for long enough, and your body will start using the existing fat stores it currently has for energy. The result? Losing fat (and weight altogether.)

There are countless ways you can create a caloric deficit through dietary changes, but one other important element is exercise. In fact, exercise could serve as an amplifier to your results.

In one study, overweight and obese women followed a diet and exercise program for one year. What they found is that they lost more weight than women who followed a program consisting only of dietary changes. (More specifically, 10.8% versus 8.5%).

If you’re sitting right now thinking, “what type of exercise should I add to my fat-loss plan?” The answer might stand in considering the easiest option: Arguably, one of the easiest types of getting into exercising is creating a walking routine.

Check out this study that dates all the way back to 2009. It concluded that walking was associated with less weight gain over time. Or, in other words, walking is the easiest thing you can do to maintain (or even lose) weight over the long haul.

Walking constitutes getting your daily dose of regular cardio in, and it can also lower levels of abdominal and organ fat. Both of them play a role in the development of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and more. Even though you might not initially see much change on the scale, some studies have found that regular aerobic exercise helped to improve liver fat by up to 25% in people who were overweight or obese… and this was regardless of the intensity of exercise!

DEVELOPING A WALKING ROUTINE

Thankfully, it doesn’t get much more straightforward than walking. It’s the fundamental form of locomotion every human being learns as soon as they can stand on two feet. It can be done in any environment with minimal equipment.

Walking at any pace will offer its own set of benefits, but developing a walking routine and varying intensities may even bring you greater fat-loss advantages. On average, you’ll tend to burn about 150 calories in 30 minutes. But if you up the intensity a bit, you can go up to 170-180. 

What could you really qualify as high-intensity walking, anyway? According to the CDC, walking at a pace of about 2 and a half miles per hour is considered “brisk” walking. It even falls under the category of moderate-intensity exercise.

However, if you were to walk at a pace of about 2.5 mph, the intensity you would feel depends a lot on your height, weight, terrain, fitness level, and more. That’s why, for simplicity’s sake, you might be better off gauging your intensity on a scale of 0-10. On this scale, 0 will correspond to sitting, while 10 will correspond to the maximum level of effort you can exert. According to the CDC, brisk walking should feel about the 5-6 level.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can start with these easy recommendations:

1. Aim to get in at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity walking every week. To maximize the health advantages you experience, double that recommendation.

2. Be sure to start pairing your walking routine alongside a healthy diet. While your exercise can help you develop the caloric deficit you need, your diet will also be critical. The key to fat loss is how much energy you expend in each exercise session, as well as how many calories you’re going to be consuming through your diet.  

3. Think of your walking routine as a steppingstone for more activity. At some point, you will naturally be drawn to doing more. Once you start deciding to make your walks a little longer or do a walk on your off day, it’s time for you to move up!

Water Weight and its Effects on Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When you’re moving toward your current weight-loss goal, you’ll often find yourself stepping on the scale and discovering you’re either a few pounds heavier or lighter than the day you did before. 

Stepping on the scale and discovering that you’re light a few pounds can help motivate you on the way to building healthier habits.

That being said, we all know that fluctuations on the scale could be largely due to day-to-day fluctuations in water weight and not direct fat loss.

Today, we’re going to examine the role of water weight in your weight loss efforts and explain why you should be mindful next time you step on the scale.

WHAT IS WATER WEIGHT?

What we see as a direct decrease in body weight could be a change in fat, water, and muscle. Water makes up approximately 60 percent of your body weight and it’s naturally one of the first things you lose.

Fat mass cannot change overnight. But you can lose as much as 4-5 pounds of water in a single day. Your body is constantly removing and replenishing water through the foods and drinks you consume. 

By contrast, it’s practically impossible to lose a pound of fat overnight. Let’s do the math – with 454 grams of fat in 1 pound, assuming one gram of fat contains about 9 calories, you would need to burn close to 4,000 calories overnight.  

WHY DOES WATER COME OFF FASTER THAN FAT?

Many people who are chasing a weight-loss goal tend to eat fewer calories and do more exercise. When you cut off calories and carbs in order to achieve weight loss, the first place your body is going to go for that extra energy is your glycogen stores. 

These stores are housed in the liver and skeletal muscles. Glycogen is normally stored alongside lots of water so tapping into it will release that water. Exercising more often will also cause you to lose water weight through all the sweat you’ll be evaporating. You’ll still be losing fat, but at a much slower rate than water. 

THE 5 FACTORS THAT AFFECT WATER LOSS

Certain nutrients and foods can change your body’s water levels in the short term.

#1 LOW-CARB DIETS

As mentioned above, when you cut carbs out of your system, you’re going to release a lot of water since the body is going to tap into its glycogen stores.

#2 A DIET HIGH IN PROTEIN

If you increase your protein intake so you can lose weight, your body will excrete more water. Protein breakdown will cause urea and other wastes to be created that require water to remove them from the body.

#3 SALT

Your body naturally retains water so it can dilute excess sodium. While this has a tiny effect on water weight, it can be harmful to you over time. Holding on to that excess sodium and fluid will increase your blood pressure. 

This means your heart has to work harder, causing wear and tear on your entire cardiovascular system. Whether or not water weight is something you’re trying to manage, eating less sodium is likely a good idea.

4. CAFFEINE

Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it’s going to cause water loss and increased urination. Studies have shown that this effect is even stronger in individuals who are deprived of caffeine or new to the substance. If you regularly drink coffee, drinking coffee and tea will do little for your water weight as a whole

5. EXERCISE

High-intensity workouts, especially those in humid, hot weather, will increase your water loss due to high sweat rates. This is why long-distance runners always weigh themselves before and after a run to see how much fluid they should be drinking to replace the sweat they lose. It’s known that even the mildest form of dehydration can have a negative impact on your exercise performance.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS…

Water weight can be annoying since nobody feels like being bloated – but thankfully, that’s a short-term issue. It’s absolutely normal for your water weight to fluctuate on a day to day basis. 

This is why weighing yourself weekly could even be a better idea than weighing yourself daily. Long-term changes in your body will result from changes to lean muscle and fat so day-to-day water weight isn’t something that should bother you. Keep in mind good hydration will help you lose weight by curbing off hunger and enhancing fat burn.

The Difference Between Weight Loss and Body Recomposition

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When you’re thinking about weight loss, it’s always important to remember stepping on the scale is just one of the many ways you can track your progress. It’s absolutely normal for weight to fluctuate due to countless reasons, including how much water you have (or hadn’t) had to drink, your stress and anxiety levels, your hormones, electrolyte balance, time of the day, and more. However, stepping on a scale once a day or once a week and looking at the trends can be a good variable you can track that will help you determine whether you’re making progress or not. 

While weight loss focuses on burning off fat stores and seeing the number on the scale trend downward, body recomposition refers to creating changes in the body’s fat to muscle ratio. 

This involves reducing fat tissue while simultaneously building and leaning out muscle. In doing so, your weight will remain largely the same throughout the process, since muscle weighs more than fat. 

Is there really a healthy body composition?

Unlike body weight, body composition is much more difficult to measure and it’s not directly tied to any number or variable. A bodybuilder may register as “overweight” when asked about their weight, and someone who clocks in at “underweight” may actually have an unhealthy amount of fat mass. You have DEXA scans, bioelectrical sales, bod pods, hydrostatic weighing, and all of these other methods of measuring body composition. That being said, they’re not only expensive, but sometimes they’re difficult to access and even inaccurate.

Instead, what we recommend in terms of telling whether or not you’re successfully building muscle and losing fat is to just look in the mirror. You might notice some changes in the contour, shape, and different parts of your body and muscles. Your clothes might also begin to feel a little different. You can also take regular progress photos to track small changes that might not usually be noticeable at first. 

How do all your macros fit in?

Whether your goal is to lose weight or achieve a better body composition, both of these will require healthy eating and exercise. If you’re already counting macros, you’re likely familiar with the process of breaking down your total calorie budget into a ratio of protein, carbs, and fat.

  • If your goal is to lose weight, you should lower your target carbohydrate intake by 5–10%
  • If your goal is to build muscle, you should prioritize protein by lowering your carbohydrate and fat ratios by 7–10%

As you progress, you will start noticing that you need tweaks in your ratio, which is something a dietitian can really help you with.

How does exercise play a role?

For weight loss, 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense physical activity is vital and this could be as simple as adding more steps/walking more throughout your day.  

If you’re trying to focus on body recomposition, prioritizing strength training will be the most important factor of your success.

As you begin losing weight and/or gaining muscle, you will notice you have a more difficult time keeping up with the momentum you used to have when you initially began working on that goal. But you shouldn’t get discouraged. Plateaus are just a part of the process. If you’re not seeing the results you expect, you should consider changing up your strength-training routine or incorporating new moves and experimenting with new training methods.

The bottom line is…

Whether you’re someone who is looking to lose fat or you’re someone who wants to build muscle as they’re losing fat, both approaches will require consuming quality whole-food sources that include lots of protein, fat and carbs. By nourishing your body consistently and proactively for better performance and adding regular exercise to your day, you naturally improve your health, strength, and mood, which goes beyond the number on the scale or a simple body composition scan. 

The 3 Fundamentals of Mental Health You Should Always Keep in Check

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When most people exercise or try to lose weight, eat right, and place an emphasis on sleep, they’re doing it to improve their overall physical health. But all three factors are known to massively impact your mental health, as well.

A recent study by the University of Otago in New Zealand, published in Frontiers of Psychology, explored this interesting link. They noted that sleep, exercise, and diet are all associated with proper mental hygiene, and the researchers wanted to determine which of these three elements will hold the strongest correlation to overall mental health. 

This study surveyed more than 1,000 young adults all over New Zealand and the US, and they found their answer: sleep, physical activity, and diet, in that order, were the main predictors of proper mental health and overall well-being.

Let’s talk about each of these in a little bit more detail.

#1 HIGH-QUALITY SLEEP

The findings of the researchers heavily stressed the importance of sleep quality over sleep quantity. Too little sleep (which was basically measured at less than eight hours,) and too much sleep (about 12 hours) were associated with lower well-being, higher depressive symptoms, and sleep quality outranked sleep quantity in predicting mental health.

This suggests that sleep quality should usually be promoted alongside sleep quantity as one of the best tools for improving mental health and well-being in the lives of young adults.

Sleep is also known to impact your mood heavily, as well as your stress and anxiety levels. And let’s not forget how vital sleep is to the immune system, concentration levels, heart health, and the ability to manage your weight. The CDC recommends 7-9 hours of sleep, but as the study noted, you should be aiming for quality, not quantity. Keeping regular bedtimes, avoiding screens before bed, skipping heavy foods and alcohol before bed, all of these will aid in your effort to improve your overall sleep quality.  

Experts have suggested that eating balanced meals (and snacks) throughout your day will leave you feeling less tempted to indulge at night. Same goes for avoiding caffeine, sugary drinks, or anything that could potentially give you heartburn or indigestion.

#2 REGULAR EXERCISE

In this study, exercise was the second most important factor when it came to determining mental health and wellness. That’s hardly a surprise, as for years, exercise has been conclusively linked to better mood and happiness. Exercise will basically kick off a cascade of feel-good chemicals inside your body. Have you ever heard of the runner’s high? Even though temporary at first, regular activity will result in long-term benefits to your health. 

A 2019 study actually found that replacing sedentary time with about 10-15 minutes of rigorous exercise such as circuit training or HIIT (or with about an hour of moderate-intensity activity) reduced overall risk of depression by a whopping 25 percent. That’s huge! 

Additional research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies actually showed that people who exercise for 150-300 minutes every week were over 50 percent happier than people who weren’t as active. 

#3 EATING RAW FRUITS AND VEGGIES

According to the study done by the University of Otage, mental health scores were usually the highest among people who ate about 4.5-5 servings of raw fruits and veggies every day. (If you needed another reason to stock up on uncooked produce, this is it.)

It’s hard to go wrong here, really, since many different options for raw fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins, fiber, and vital phytonutrients. Study researchers noted that certain foods and veggies have higher levels of vitamin C and E, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties and can boost your mood and reduce chances and risk of depression.

Researchers recommended plenty of cucumbers, carrots, green beans, broccoli, spinach, and other leafy greens (dark ones, to be exact.) In terms of fruit, you have to include a lot of apples, assorted citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, and bananas. These raw fruits and veggies all have the potential to impact your mental health in the best of ways. 

The 4 Most Popular Weight Loss Plans, Ranked by Sustainability

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When you’re on a weight loss journey, and you’re doing your best to lose weight for good, it’s essential to choose an eating plan that you can see yourself sticking with for the rest of your life. 

To help you explore all the most popular options and choose the right nutrition plan for yourself, we’re here to break down the 4 most popular eating plans and explore them in a little bit of detail so you can make an educated choice on which one you should research on your own.

Here is your brief introduction to the top four diets, ranked from the most to the least sustainable. 

#1 THE MOST SUSTAINABLE: MEDITERRANEAN DIET

The Mediterranean diet continues to take the top spots in weight loss plan lists because it’s filled with natural foods all of which are rich in micronutrients and fiber, all of which contributes to achieving weight loss results. 

This diet is low in sugars and unhealthy saturated fats, reducing your overall caloric intake all while protecting heart health. Numerous studies have shown the Mediterranean diet to be an effective weight-loss strategy, especially when paired with a slight caloric deficit and an exercise program.

When you eat like someone living in the Mediterranean, your diet will likely consist of plenty of whole grains, leafy greens, beans and olive oil, poultry and fatty fish, and the occasional glass of red wine. Cheese is great in moderation, but red meat is limited to once or twice a week, while processed foods are largely removed from the pantry.

#2 INTERMITTENT FASTING

You might find that intermittent fasting is easier to maintain than some of the other diets on this list because it adds a lot of structure to your diet without forbidding any foods or requiring you to completely overhaul your fridge.

There are numerous ways to go about intermittent fasting, but the most common one includes shrinking your eating window and, in turn, consuming fewer calories. One of the most approachable editions of IF is the 16:8 method in which you consume all your meals for the day in an 8-hour period and fast for 16 hours after it.

#3 THE PLANT-BASED DIET

Rich in veggies and fruits that are abundant in natural fibers, a plant-based diet is low in calories and fat but will help you feel fuller for longer due to its high fiber content. Research actually shows that vegan diets have accounted for the most weight loss results out of any diet, followed by vegetarian diets and meat-friendly diets. While vegan and vegetarian diets can be difficult to stick with since you’ll need to eat a minimal amount of animal products, you can approach it with the flexitarian mindset in which you eat only a small amount of meat in a more flexible dietary regime.

#4 THE LEAST SUSTAINABLE: THE KETO DIET

In many ways, keto is actually the opposite of all the above eating plans. It’s high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbs. The goal of this weight loss plan is to launch your body into a state of ketosis in which fat is burned for fuel instead of carbs.

Rapid weight loss will often follow, and some studies have even called keto a highly effective strategy for weight loss. But you will likely struggle to stick with it in the long term. Barriers include the limited options when you eat out and the side effects that come with it, including headaches and constipation. You might be very tempted to load up on a lot of unhealthy fat sources, and for those reasons, it’s best to check up with a healthcare professional before you attempt to jump on keto (let alone stick with it.)

THE BOTTOM LINE IS…

That the best diet you can find is one that you’re going to be able to stick with in the long term. One that doesn’t rely on restrictions and keeps the rules simple. If a diet is calling for too much restriction or calorie cutting, it’s not going to be an effective way to lose weight and keep the weight you lose off after you lose it. Instead, you should always look for green flags such as an emphasis on whole foods, simple guidelines, and sustainable lifestyle changes if you want to achieve the weight-loss results you’re looking for.

Sticking with New Year’s Resolutions Throughout February and March

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Every year, millions of people around the world make New Year’s resolutions. According to recent surveys, on top of that list of resolutions remain the goal to improve fitness and diet, lose weight, and lower down on that list, save money. 

Each one of those goals is a noble one, but what other studies have shown us is that the majority (about 2/3) of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions within a month. 

And it’s understandable – making lasting changes to your life isn’t easy. 

But this year, you’ll be armed with five of our best strategies for making your resolutions stick past the month of January.

Let’s jump right into it.

#1 REEVALUATE YOUR GOALS ON A WEEKLY AND MONTHLY BASIS.

The one-month mark into the year is an excellent time to reflect on all your resolutions. Are they realistic? Do they serve you? Are they still in line with what you hope to achieve? Answering these questions will help you determine if you’re on the right track. 

There’s absolutely no shame in tweaking your resolutions if this will allow them to better fit your needs or schedule. Or you can even dial back certain goals if you’ve found them to be unproductive or unrealistic. Being ambitious and having goals is great but setting and achieving a simple goal is better than making and dropping a goal that’s overly ambitious. 

#2 GO BACK TO YOUR WHY.

Resolutions are born from the desire to make a positive lifestyle change. That’s why so many goals include getting fit, eating better, becoming more organized, or taking control of your finances. However, there is often a more important ”why” that lurks just beneath the surface of these simple concepts. 

Think about it – what really compelled you to make your resolutions? Maybe it was feeling healthier. Having more energy. Getting out of bed more easily. Feeling more confident. Or maybe you want to improve all the vital markers from your last physical exam so you can guarantee better health and longevity. The exact “why” is yours; it’s personal, and that’s what makes it so powerful and so special. But we guarantee digging deep to find that reason will remind you of all the effort you’ve put in so far… and motivate you to move forward.

#3 MIX IT UP and TRY NEW THINGS

If one of your resolutions happens to be eating healthier, you’ll be happy to know that there are endless possibilities for you when it comes to finding new, healthy meal options. You can flip through your favorite magazines or browse countless recipes on the Internet. Some websites even allow you to find recipes based specifically on your health and fitness goals. For example, you can try out vegetarian recipes, high-protein recipes, and so much more. If you’re counting calories, all the better. You can log recipe numbers directly in your calorie log.

#4 ALWAYS KEEP YOUR WORKOUTS FRESH

Exercising more has always been a great goal. If you’re someone new to fitness, you might start off with a walking routine and move on to cardio and weightlifting. If you’re someone more accustomed to exercise, you could try jogging, strength training, HIIT, or even a Pilates class. 

All these options will be vastly beneficial to your body, but if you do the same workout each time, you’re more likely to run into a plateau or lose motivation. Instead of relying on all the same old movements, try new things. 

There are countless resources available online that can help you make that happen. You can find workouts, types of training, and new exercises you can add to your routine and use them as inspiration and motivation for when you’re getting stagnant with your current routine.

#5 MORE ACCOUNTABILITY

It’s very easy to fall off the resolution wagon once February rolls around. But still, one healthy month is better than nothing. But if your goal is to make lasting, positive changes, it will be helpful to build more accountability measures inside your goals. You can schedule time a few times a week so you can evaluate your progress or just keep a journal to note how well you fare. Both will be great ways to check in with yourself and your progress. 

One of the best ways you can stay accountable is involving your friends and family into your resolutions. Let them support you and hold you accountable for those days when you think you’re close to giving up. They won’t let it happen.

Keeping Up Your Weight Loss Motivation Strong Throughout February

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you are one of the people that decided to make significant changes to your diet or exercise routine before the end of the year, you probably know it sounds great in December when you’re looking ahead to January. 

But when the New Year comes, and that initial rush of excitement and motivation you have starts to wane off, you should know… that’s natural and normal! 

If you currently find yourself in that mid-February slump, here are some expert-backed tips on how you can power through it and approach the rest of the year with a completely new kind of energy!

#1 START EMBRACING THE FIZZLE

You might have been completely ready to turn your life around, but you found that the new year can bring many new perspectives and opportunities. But all of the “new” will soon simmer down, so at that point, you must be ready for a change. 

Now is the absolute best time to reevaluate your goals and ask yourself if there’s a shift you need to make somewhere. Experts advise that you should set resolutions that you’re emotionally connected to in a positive way. 

If you, at some point, find yourself saying you “should” be doing something, then you’re bringing a negative connotation to it and you’re bringing yourself down. Instead, reevaluate your goals and focus on the ones you should truly be taking on, then make the February shifts necessary to achieve them. 

#2 REEVALUATE YOUR HABITS

Sometimes, even our best plans can go awry. For example, if you plan to go to the gym every single day after work, but you end up missing half of the days because things pop up or you’re just slumped after work, you’ll soon realize that’s probably not a good time for you. Even with the greatest of intentions, you may be working against yourself. Or maybe daily exercise is just too much for you to tackle on top of your schedule, and you’d feel much better playing a sport you enjoy like Football during the weekends. It’s all about what works for you and what brings you not only the physical rush of excitement and progress, but also a sense of belonging and accomplishment. 

#3 PRIORITIZE SLEEP

If there’s one thing you should do to increase your chances of achieving your goals, it’s getting some better sleep. Lack of quality sleep will make a person feel run down, irritable, and unmotivated. On the other hand, better sleep will lead to much more productive workouts and better energy levels. Your goals will be built on a foundation of a couple of main things, and one of them will always be your sleep quality. 

#4 DON’T ATTACH YOURSELF TO SINGULAR METRICS

Even if you went into the new year blasting and you’re not seeing the scale reflect actual weight loss, just know that this doesn’t mean you’re not doing things right or that you should give up. 

Maybe you’re eating more consistently now, consuming better snacks, taking longer walks after work, or can use some other measurement of progress beyond just the number on the scale. 

Running a mile, doing five pushups, or just feeling better about yourself, are all winning changes that will benefit your health even if you’re not at your desired weight yet.

#5 PLAN YOUR NEXT MOVE

It’s difficult to find a year’s worth of motivation in one single goal, so you should always continue to change things up and find new ways to challenge yourself. Maybe the next couple of weeks you can challenge yourself to eat an extra serving of veggies at every dinner. 

Or maybe you’ve recently hit a 5-minute mile, why not consider signing up for a marathon and testing your skills out? 

If you need help setting a goal, remember the SMART rule. 

(SMART is essentially an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and lastly, timebound.) Experts say the sweet spot lies in setting resolutions just below, or above your current ability or routine. When you set a resolution that is too easy, you get bored. When you set resolutions that are too difficult, you will only introduce anxiety and self-doubt before you even begin. So find the nearest achievable goal that makes sense… and go for it. 

How Often Should You Really Weigh Yourself?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Imagine the following scenario. You decide it’s time to put in your focus and energy into losing weight. 

Then you decide to start exercising properly and you embark on a healthier eating plan. 

You put in the work for a good week, sweating yourself out in the gym every other day and trying to eat and cook healthier meals.

The time will come to check in on your progress, so you’re going to step on the scale and witness the moment of truth.

And then you see you haven’t lost any weight!

So what do you do now? Do you continue with all the exercises you’ve been doing and new, healthier eating plan? Or do you just throw in the towel and instantly go back to everything you were doing before? Or maybe even start restricting your eating more and more, making weight loss happen faster? 

There are all absolutely reasonable (and normal) reactions that you would have to not seeing the result you want show up on the scale.

But what you should realize in this moment is that weight loss, weight gain, or even weight maintenance, can sometimes be tricky to navigate. Putting things simply, even the scale you have can be extremely tricky to navigate as your weight is going to fluctuate up and down not only throughout the course of the day, but also the weeks and months.

Weight fluctuations are incredibly common because your weight in this current moment is determined by a variety of different factors. 

They include, but are not limited to, how well hydrated you are, how recently you ate something, what time of the day it is, what the climate is, what your exercise routine is… and the list goes on and on. A few extra pounds of weight fluctuation here and there is not going to be the result of fat gain because your body is just doing what it’s supposed to do – regulating physiological functions.

So the question here arises – how often should you weight yourself so you get the most accurate depiction of the progress and results you’re making?

Whether your goal is to maintain, lose, or gain weight, let’s start off by talking about the scale. 

The very first and most important question you need to ask yourself is: 

“If I weigh myself (daily, weekly, periodically) actually help me or harm me? Since there will never be a magic answer for how often you’re going to weigh yourself, figuring out what is motivating and helpful for you as an individual is what’s going to help you make the right decision. 

WEIGHING YOURSELF DAILY

Many people will find that weighing in daily will provide you with a sense of accountability, and it’s helpful for having a great idea of where you’re at with your progress. For many of us, it helps keep management and progress on track. If you’re able to write down your weight daily, you will be able to follow overall trends and not stress about the day-to-day fluctuations. This is the healthy way of weighing yourself daily.

Will you let a 1-pound gain ruin your mood? Or, are you absolutely ecstatic by the sight of losing 1 pound? If the daily weigh-ins affect your mood in a significant way, then you might want to reconsider. The number on the scale should not have direct power over your mood, and the events of day cannot impact your general quality of life. 

WEEKLY WEIGH-INS

Weighing weekly can have its advantages — it allows you to track progress while still having six whole days to not focus on your weight. For the best result possible, pick a day that’s consistent every week, and weigh yourself in the morning. Try to find trends if you can, but don’t get caught up in the minutiae. 

Recognize that it’s probably going to take a few good weeks before you have a good picture of where you’re headed. This can be a great tool to keep yourself accountable without making you ride the whole daily emotional roller coaster that the scale can bring.

WEIGHING YOURSELF OCCASSIONALY

Some people will always opt for the occasional weight check-in. And people may do this at home or just rely on the scale at the doctor’s office or the gym and get an idea of where they’re going. People who opt for the occasional weigh-in often have alternative ways of identifying shifts in their weight, such as the ways their clothes fit or how strong they feel as they’re exercising.

How Much Is Enough When It Comes to Protein?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When people in the strength training or weight loss communities hear the term “protein intake”, they might just think about building and retaining muscle. But protein is much, much bigger than that. 

Protein is an essential part of our bodies, a macronutrient that allows our bodies to work properly from head to toe. Getting the right amount of protein is vital to health and longevity, but that “right amount” will largely be different for every individual.

You can think of the protein macronutrient as a collection of the worker bees of your body. The body doesn’t store protein in any way. 

The proteins found inside your body are made up of components called amino acids. They act as the manpower of movement, the immune system, the carriers of oxygen in your blood, and so much more. Each protein and amino acid have their own job and they’re doing them pretty much all the time. Protein doesn’t tend to sit around idle inside your body and your muscles aren’t “stored” protein in any way. 

When it comes to the muscles inside your body, they require dietary protein to ensure that your body has the necessary building blocks to maintain and even build lean muscle mass. Without a surplus of available amino acids, it will be difficult for your muscles to grow in size or strength. 

And of course, having enough protein inside your body isn’t enough to build muscle on its own. You need to include resistance training inside your daily routine if you want to get on the fast lane to muscle growth. 

Nine out of the twenty amino acids are essential – this means the body cannot make them on its own. You must consume them through your diet. Animal proteins are called “complete” proteins because they contain all nine of these essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins such as legumes, for example, are not all complete proteins, however, they can be paired together to meet your protein needs. One example could be eating beans with brown rice. You also have options such as tofu, a plant-based complete protein.

So how much protein do I really need in my diet?

Generally, health and wellness authorities have set a recommended daily intake of about 0.8g per kilogram of body weight. However, this could technically be seen as the minimum daily average intake required to meet the requirements of pretty much 99 percent of people out there.

And while this is a great place to start, there’s a ton of wiggle room left based on individual lifestyle and fitness goals. 

For example, athletes may consume more than twice this amount. People who are trying to decrease body fat (but maintain muscle) could possibly consume even more. 

Before you even ask the question “how much protein should I consume,” you probably realize you have to track your intake to begin with. That’s why it’s advisable for you to use an app or a notebook where you can record your daily protein intake and adjust per your needs from there.

A few eating styles actually suggest that a percentage of your total calories will determine whether or not your protein needs are sufficient. This doesn’t, however, account for individual bodies and goals. 

Therefore, determining your overall protein intake (and needs) would be best defined by using your weight as a starting point.

Most formulas use kilograms as their unit of measurement. 

You can easily convert your weight to pounds by using this formula:

Your weight in pounds / 2.2 = your weight in kilograms

For example: if you weigh 150 pounds / 2.2 = about 68 kilograms

Determining your daily protein needs.

The range of recommended protein intake will vary throughout different populations. You should always consider protein intake as a range for you to experiment with, not a number that’s set in stone.

Working inside a range will give you more flexibility based on your current hunger, activity levels, your goals, and how you’re currently feeling.

These guidelines are based on sources provided by health and wellness associations. While this is a useful place to start, it’s best to consult a physician or registered nutritionist if you want to determine an ideal protein intake range. 

Recommended Protein Intake by Average Dietary Guidelines0.8 g/kg of body weight

Average healthy adult1.0–1.4 g/kg of body weight

Active adult who exercises regularly1.1–1.5 g/kg of body weight

Active adults who want to lose weight1.6–2.1 g/kg body weight

Endurance athletes1.3–1.7 g/kg of body weight

Weightlifters looking to gain muscle1.2–2.1 g/kg of body weight

How Much Do You Need to Walk to Achieve Weight Loss?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Regardless of your age or current fitness level, there are tons of benefits to starting your own walking routine coupled with proper nutrition. 

To do it right and achieve the amazing weight loss and fat burning benefits that come with a consistent walking routine, you’ll need to make sure that you’re walking far enough, that you’re walking at the right intensity, and that you’re paying attention to your diet.

Here’s what you should know about getting started with a walking weight loss routine:

WEIGHT LOSS AND WALKING DURATION

According to experts over at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), people should strive to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day or up to 150 minutes a week. While this can help you achieve optimal cardiovascular fitness and combat health risks, you’re likely going to need a little more than that if you want to achieve weight loss and be in great shape.

If you’re someone who is overweight and you’re trying to lose weight, or you’re someone who is trying to keep weight off after losing it, ACSM experts suggest that you increase that number up to between 200 and 300 minutes every week. 

Breaking this down bit by bit, all you really need is a 1-hour walk 4-5 days a week, and you’ll be able to achieve massive weight loss results. Any extra time you spend exercising on top will even add to your calorie burn and improve your fitness level.

WALKING INTENSITY IN YOUR WALKING ROUTINE

It’s a fact – not all walks are created equal. That’s why it’s important for us to continuously measure our heart rate and strive to reach a moderate-intensity level during our walk. According to the CDC, moderate-intensity exercise could be defined as any activity that raises your heart rate to 50-70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

If you decide to increase the intensity of your walk, either by adding in short periods of running or adding some sort of resistance training to the mix, exercising at a much higher activity level (say 80 percent of your maximum heart rate) will require the duration of your walk to be cut in half just so you can achieve the same exact benefit. In other words, you’re much better off with a 60-minute walk that’s moderate intensity instead of a 30-minute walk at a vigorous pace. 

The most accurate way to measure the intensity of your walk is to keep a heart monitor, but you might also want to keep track of your perceived exertion level. Just ask yourself, on a scale of 0-10 (0 being sitting and relaxing and 10 being peak exertion), how you feel at different times during your walk, and make sure you keep the number at around 5 or 6… with high-intensity activity starting at around 7. 

HOW DOES WALKING COMPARE TO RUNNING?

Walking can provide the exact same health benefits as running and comes with a lower risk of injury. However, it’s true that, when it comes to weight loss, the duration is key for people who prefer walking. 

According to experts over at the American Council of Exercise (ACE), an average 150-pound (68kg) runner will burn 340 calories on a three-mile (5k) run when they average a 10-minute mile. In turn, this averages out to about 11.3 calories per minute. 

But if you take a 150-pound (68kg) walker that exercises at a moderate pace of three miles per hour, he will burn 224 calories during a three-mile (5k) walk (60-minutes total). This will average out to about 3.7 calories per minute.

While this shows that running is, indeed, a much more efficient activity for burning calories, you can make up the difference if you just walk longer. In the example mentioned above, you would need to walk for about one hour and 30 minutes if you want to achieve the same calorie burn as a run of about three miles.

HOW DOES TRACKING YOUR MEALS PLAY A ROLE?

Calculating and then recording your daily number of steps, mileage, time, and even exercise intensity is going to be a great way to succeed faster on your road to losing weight. But the last part of the equation is just as crucial – your nutrition. 

Logging your meal intake with an app or a notebook, as well as your workouts, will help you get a more accurate picture of what you need to work on if you want to lose weight and keep it off. 

HIIT vs Hiking – What’s Better for Weight Loss?

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to weight loss, and there are countless science-backed strategies you can try that will help you achieve your goals. But the most important thing has always been to adopt healthy habits such as drinking more water and moving your body. 

These are things you can incorporate in your day-to-day life, and when it comes to training for weight loss, HIIT and hiking are both two habits you can adopt pretty easily into your life.

For people who want to start easing into regular cardio practices for their health, walking or hiking are great entry points. Research shows they’re great at improving heart health, aiding weight loss, and improving your mood. 

One piece of research that surveyed more than 50,000 regular walkers found that walking was associated with a 20% reduction in risk for all-cause mortality. That’s huge!

Once you’ve gotten on track to a regular walking habit, it could be a great potential challenge for you to switch to a new variation and keep things new and exciting. 

Both hiking and HIIT fit the bill. 

So today, we’re here to break down the pros and cons so you can decide between the two.

BENEFITS OF HIIT 

High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, can sound pretty intimidating. 

To be even more specific, the whole “high-intensity” part. That being said, this workout technique, which involves intense bursts of activity mixed with comfortable rest periods, is actually one of the more beginner-friendly types of training. Research has shown this type of training can improve your athletic performance, strength, and cardiovascular health, as well as skyrocket your metabolism for a few hours.

This type of training has been long proven to be an effective way to build muscle, burn extra calories, and increase your metabolic rate so you’re burning more fat.

When it comes to hiking, you can choose your own adventure. It’s generally easy to adjust your work effort in a way that best suits you. For example, maybe you pick up your speed for 20/30/60 seconds at a time, then ease back into a comfortable rest period. You can also choose your terrain so you can add more or reduce the resistance of your training, be it on a flat surface, hills, sand, even the pool.

BENEFITS OF HIKING

Hiking is exactly what it sounds like: heading for the hills and doing some incline walking. This specific type of workout will target the posterior chain of your body, your hamstrings and glutes, and it will spike up your heart rate so you burn more calories.

You can easily tackle the outdoor hills and reap the calming effect of nature. Just be aware that, if you’re doing incline walking indoors on a treadmill, you should never hold on to your sides as this reduces the overall hiking effect and leads to poor body mechanics.

Similarly, one more thing you have to remember is that what goes up must come down. You have to take into account your way back as downhill places will put more load on your thighs and joints. If your legs aren’t strong enough, this is a recipe for knee pain later on. This doesn’t mean you should avoid hill walking or running, but basic exercises such as bodyweight squats and even lunges will help you develop the muscular foundation you need to sustain long hikes.

IS ONE TYPE OF TRAINING BETTER THAN THE OTHER?

While HIIT offers a big calorie burn for a short amount of time, hiking allows you to push yourself to the max. A good rule of thumb you should follow is to have at least one low-intensity training day between two days of HIIT. 

Hiking is a great fat-burning workout, but it can be very stressful on your joints if you don’t take the necessary precautions. But if you don’t have any pre-existing knee issues and you love to hike outside in the nature, hiking might be a better choice for you.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS…

Ultimately, it will come down to personal preference. But now that you know the benefits and applications of each type of training, you will be able to pick one or even incorporate both types of walking so you can stave off boredom and mix up your schedule. At the end of the day, the best type of training is one you’ll do consistently, so whatever you choose to pursue, make sure it’s something you can see yourself sticking with.

Here’s Why Compound Exercises Burn So Many Calories

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Hey Angels and Alphas, 

Very few of us really have the time for hour-long weightlifting sessions every day. 

So if you’re someone who is short on time and you’re trying to develop a strength training routine, you need to use your time as wisely as possible, as effectively as you can. 

This is one of the big reasons why compound exercises are gaining popularity as one of the types of exercises that will help you get stronger, faster, leaner, and pretty much in better overall physical condition. 

Unfortunately, countless people around the world still train their bodies like they’re just a collection of loosely connected parts. Some athletes promote these isolation exercises, or exercises in which you only target one muscle group of the body, as an effective way to develop strength in certain movements and body parts. 

They choose exercises that hit specific muscle groups, such as knocking out a set of bicep curls, seated leg extensions, lateral raises, or another similar exercise, in hopes of reaping the maximum benefit for each body part. But while this approach may indeed help you get stronger, it’s definitely not a fast track to your goals, nor is it as sustainable as doing compound training.

WHAT ARE COMPOUND EXERCISES, REALLY?

Compound exercises can be defined as multi-joint movements that basically stimulate several muscle groups at the same time. These can include squats, bench presses, deadlifts, pushups, any exercises that engage your body beyond one singular muscle group can be considered a compound exercise.

If you’re doing a squat, for example, your knees, ankle joints, and hips are all going to move simultaneously, making this a thorough multi-joint movement. That being said, rows and pullups also involve your shoulders, biceps, forearms, and most importantly, your back. Exercises such as the pushup or chest press will work your triceps, shoulders, and chest. 

Compound exercises differ from isolation exercises, which by definition, involve only a single joint or stimulate one muscle group. Some examples of these types of exercises could be triceps extensions, lateral raises, front raises, hamstring curls, bicep curls, and so on.

Don’t get me wrong – isolation exercises can be an amazing way to add volume and focus on singular muscle groups that you feel may need some extra attention. For example, if you’re interested in adding size to your biceps and improving your pullups, tacking on a few extra sets of biceps curls will be one of your keys to victory.

However, compound exercises should fundamentally form the base of your strength training routine. Compound exercises will essentially treat your body as a complex system of interconnected joints, muscles, and nerves – as exercises should. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into the benefits of compound exercises and explore some of the perks you can take advantage of.

BENEFITS OF COMPOUND EXERCISES

First of all, greater overall strength gains.

The more muscles and joints you can utilize to help you complete a certain movement, the more weight you can move. The more you practice each exercise, the more you’ll be able to start lifting over time. 

This process of gradually and increasingly boosting up the weight helps your body to adapt and get stronger much more quickly when you’re focusing on movements that include more than one muscle group.

Second, they’re more efficient.

Bottom line is, if you want to get more bang for your buck, go for compound exercises. They will work several muscle groups at one time, perfect for people who have a busy schedule or simply want to fit more into their training sessions.

Third, they burn more calories.

The more muscle tissue a certain exercise uses, the more oxygen gets used up, the more calories you burn overall. If you just knock out a set of walking lunges, you’ll instantly see how quickly you get short of breath. This is because you’re moving through space and using multiple joints and muscles, and compound exercises will burn more calories than isolation exercises like lying down for hamstring curls.

Fourth, more functionality.

Multi-muscle, multi-joint exercises will typically mimic everyday movements better than single-muscle, single-joint exercises. For example, let’s take the deadlift. It mimics the motion of picking up heavy objects such as furniture, boxes, grocery bags, etc. off the floor. Squats replicate the motion of sitting down and getting up from a specific position. And finally, doing a pushup would be similar to pushing yourself up from the floor.

Fifth, more improvements in performance.

Compound exercises, especially exercises that reproduce typical everyday movements, will help you improve your balance, reaction time, coordination, stability, and so much more! All of these are vital to improving your athletic performance in the long run, or simply lifting heavier.

Flavored Water, Sparkling Water, and Your Weight Loss Efforts

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Nowadays, a stroll through the section for bottled water at your local grocery store will have you overwhelmed by all the available options.

Sparkling, electrolyte, flavored, mineral water, you name it. And it should come as no surprise that 0-calorie, flavored water is an extremely popular choice whether you want to lose weight or simply maintain a healthy hydration habit.

But are these beverages actually healthy, considering you’re trying to lose weight? Aren’t they akin to diet soda that’s full of artificial sweeteners? Don’t these sweeteners make you crave more sweet flavors later in the day? 

That’s exactly the topic we’ll be covering today.

NATURAL FLAVORS AND ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

Many beverages that are typically calorie-free utilize “natural flavors” to add taste. While these aren’t artificial sweeteners per se, it’s not really immediately clear what natural flavoring means. Sure, they might be zero calories, but this isn’t necessarily synonymous with the word healthy.

Some companies utilize essential oils and fruit extracts, but with the vague label “natural flavoring,” it’s pretty difficult to tell what’s actually inside them and how they affect us.

That being said, beverages that utilize this type of flavoring are still better than conventional soda (or sometimes even diet soda.) A lot of dieters are drinking these beverages in hopes of replacing soft drinks. By making this simple swap, regular soda drinkers are able to get the usual satisfaction they would get from a refreshing, bubbly drink without all the unnecessary calories.

Some editions of calorie-free sparkling water might also use artificial sweeteners which are somewhat controversial. 

With artificially sweetened beverages, there are no additional calories, which can indeed make them a great option in terms of flavor, if you are someone who is OK with artificial sweeteners.

The FDA has conducted research that actually supports the idea that they are safe to consume. But a lot of nutrition pros are skeptical about this. 

While moderate consumption might indeed be OK, the natural sweeteners and no additional added sugars could possibly trigger extra cravings. For some people, consuming something sweet, even if it’s free of sugar, can make them crave even more sweet flavors later in the day.

Still, this will ultimately come down to the individual and what they can handle. As of right now, there’s no real hard evidence that natural flavorings or artificial sweeteners will sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

Let’s talk about carbonation and weight gain.

One big reason why sparkling water is becoming so popular among dieters is that consuming carbonated beverages on an empty stomach is very filling. Carbonation takes up a lot of space in the stomach and it is shown to increase both gastric activity as well as your heart rate. Both of these factors can contribute to feelings of fullness. Though this is unlikely to have major effects on your satiety over the course of a whole day, sparkling water may be a great tool for preventing unplanned snacking.

People who are against flavored sparkling water and its alternatives point to this research published in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice. It found that carbonation might have some link to weight gain and should be avoided by dieters at all costs. Still, some experts remain unconvinced.

In the study above, people who drank carbonated water had ghrelin (the hunger hormone) levels that were six times higher than people who drank regular water. They also had three times higher ghrelin levels than people drinking non-carbonated sodas. That doesn’t speak well for sparkling water. However, the research did not *directly* tie sparkling water to excess weight gain.

Some experts agree and note that there’s no solid evidence that carbonation causes weight gain. It’s important to note that countless things can stimulate hunger throughout the day and many people tend to sleep too little. Many people also experience stress and yo-yo diets and fall prey to increased hunger. In other words, countless things can increase your appetite, and flavored sparkling water might just be one of them. That being said, it’s still probably less impactful than lifestyle practices that are shown to have more significant impact.

6 Ways to Lose More Weight by Walking

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you want to be successful when losing weight (and keep it off long term), you have to create the healthy habits that will make up an overall healthy lifestyle. One of those habits, undoubtedly, is walking. 

Fad diets usually love to promise quick fixes only to end up backfiring on you and causing more weight gain. This is because they require drastic changes that are simply not sustainable. Often, it’s just the little things (such as sipping on more water) that end up making the greatest difference.

Walking is essentially one of the easiest and most effective ways you can go about improving your health and supporting your weight loss efforts. If you want to amp up your calorie burn, simply try these expert tips:

#1 ONCE A WEEK, HIT THE TRAILS

A moderately-paced walk at about 5 kilometers an hour, for 45 minutes, will burn about 180 calories. But if you start hitting the trails instead, a similar pace over time will burn almost double the calories (clocking in at around 320.) Replace one of your weekly walks with hiking, and you’ll be able to burn an additional 600 calories a month. Might not seem like much, but it adds up.

#2 ADD 1-MINUTE INTERVALS INSIDE YOUR WALKS

A leisurely walking pace of about 5 kilometers an hour for 5 minutes will burn about 20 calories. If you increase the pace and walk at a 8 km/h pace, you’ll burn about 50 calories in that same time. While you may not be able to hold this pace for a long time, just adding five 1-minute intervals inside your walk will help you burn 150 calories over a half-hour walk. Do this a few times a week, and you’ll be able to burn about 700 calories a month on top of what you’re already burning.

#3 THROW IN A SET OF LUNGES 

If you simply include a 5-minute set of step-ups on a park bench or just a couple of walking lunges to your routine, you’ll be able to boost up that calorie burn by about 50 calories. If you do this four times a week, you’ll be up an additional 200 calories. And by the end of that month, you will burn about 800-900 calories extra.

#4 ADD AN EXTRA 15 MINUTES TO YOUR WALK 

If you do this a couple of times a week, you’ll see your results change completely. Taking a few shorter walks throughout your entire day is going to be a great way to increase your overall calorie burn and step count, all while combating the negative consequences you will usually experience if you follow a sedentary lifestyle. 

But if you take a 15-minute walk before dinner at a 5 km/h pace, you’ll burn an extra 50 calories. You can also break these down into three shorter walks before each of your meals. And by adding these 15 minutes of extra walking to your day, you’ll be able to add an additional 400-500 calories each week, or just about 2000 for the entire month.

#5 STAY ACTIVE WITH YOUR KIDS

Nothing beats spending some quality time and playing around with your children. The good news is you can spend your time with your loved ones and lose weight at the same time. By playing a few games of hide and go seek for about 30 minutes a day, you’ll be able to burn about 150 calories extra. And if you do this three times a week, you’ll be up an additional 450 calories that week. Over a month, that’s just about 2000 calories on top of what you’re already burning.

#6 WALKING TO WORK

If you’re someone who lives in an urban area, and you don’t live that far away from work, walking to work can be a great way to get early-morning exercise, a boost of creativity, and improved productivity. If you’re working from home, take the time you’d usually commute and go for a short walk. 30 minutes will burn about 130 calories. If you do this at the end of the day, you’ll burn an additional 300 calories every day. And if you make this a habit and do it three times a week, that will clock in at about 4000 calories extra. Score!

11 Health Acronyms You Should Know

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether you’re someone who has been on a weight loss journey for a while, someone stepping inside the gym for the first time, or a seasoned veteran who has been competing for years, there are always new things you can learn about the world of health and fitness.

But when you’re a newbie to living healthy, it can often feel as though people who have been doing it for a while are speaking a completely different language than you. 

With that in mind, we decided to create a list of the most common fitness, health, and nutrition acronyms that will help you decode the things you’re hearing at the gym or reading online.

Let’s get started.

HEALTH

#1 BMI. Your body mass index is a measurement that indicates the rate of obesity by calculating the relative percentages of muscle and fat in your body based on your weight, height, and sometimes, other factors.

#2 BMR. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body is going to burn simply by performing daily bodily activities such as breathing, digesting, etc. This can help you determine how many calories you need to consume on a daily basis.

NUTRITION

#3 RDA. RDA refers to your recommended daily allowance, or in other words, the amount of a nutrient that is going to meet your requirement if you’re the average healthy individual.

#4 GI. Glycemic index. Your glycemic index is a measure of how quickly blood sugar rises after eating a specific type of food. Foods that rank higher on the GI scale will exhibit more rapid and steep spikes in your blood sugar and will usually contain a large amount of added sugar or refined carbs.

#5 IIFYM. If It Fits Your Macros is a nutrition and fitness philosophy originally coined by the bodybuilding community. It’s a flexible approach to selecting foods based on your calorie and macronutrient composition. It will allow you to meet your nutrition goals while accommodating the occasional sweet treat.

FITNESS

#6 BPM. Beats Per Minute. This is how your heart rate is measured. Knowing this number allows you to monitor how hard your body is going to be working and how many calories you’re going to burn during a specific sweat session. You can figure this number out through a heart rate monitor or by taking your pulse. (To take your pulse, simply press your fingers to your wrist and count the number of beats you feel in ten seconds. Then multiply that number by six and you have your BPM.

#7 HRM. Heart rate monitors are devices that measure how fast your heart is beating. They can come in many forms – strapped around your chest, on your hand, or even on the sides of the treadmill or elliptical machine at your gym.

#8 RPE: Your perceived rate of exertion. This is a scale of 1 to 10 in which 1 is easy and 10 is beyond difficult. This allows you to measure how hard you’re pushing yourself during a workout. For example, a walk could be anywhere between 2-3, while an intense weightlifting workout might deserve a solid 8 or 9.

#9 AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible. You might have seen this in workout write-ups. AMRAP is exactly what it sounds like – doing as many reps on a particular exercise as you can. The focus is usually on the form of the exercise, so it’s better to complete 10 perfect pushups than 50 sloppy ones.

#10 HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training. This is a short, but intense workout, such as a circuit training or Tabata drill, that brings together cardio and strength training so it can maximize time and efficiency and give you an intense workout in a short period of time.

#11 DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS is the stiffness and pain that will set in about 24 to 48 hours after a difficult workout. It’s perfectly normal and it’s a sign that your body is responding well to your efforts to train by recovering the tissue that has been broken down during your training process.

Does Training Increase or Decrease your Appetite

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

From increasing muscle to burning off fat to keeping your heart healthy and strong, exercise will affect your body in many ways. Exercise – especially if it’s long and intense – will even change the ways your body responds to different hunger cues. At least for a certain time.

Here are all the details you need to know about how your workouts affect your hunger (and vice versa.) 

EXERCISE HAS AN IMPACT ON CRAVINGS AND HUNGER AS A WHOLE

Changes are, you’re not going to feel hungry immediately after a workout, specifically because blood gets diverted away from your stomach so it can power your working muscles. That’s why it’s difficult to digest food when you’re training.

Incidentally, the fact that digestion slows down is one of the main culprits for nausea during exercise. This also makes it hard to perceive hunger when your gut feels nauseated or churny. 

And let’s not forget, exercise also has an effect on the hormones that regulate hunger. 

For example, research in the American Journal of Physiology has revealed that a 1-hour run can cause ghrelin, a hormone related to appetite, to drop, and increase the levels of peptide YY, a gut hormone that suppresses appetite. In just one 90-minute strength session, you can lower ghrelin levels, suggesting that mode of exercise could make a difference. 

Another factor to consider here is the intensity of your training. A couple of small studies published in various publications have found that running for short durations at high intensities will affect ghrelin levels more than running for longer periods at a lesser intensity. 

Your appetite will usually stay suppressed for a certain amount of time once your workout is over, but how long this period lasts will be determined by the duration and intensity of the exercises you do. Sometimes, people don’t feel hungry again until their body has had a chance to cool down and relax.

Short, low-intensity exercise could also play a role in suppressing hunger, but the higher the intensity and duration, the bigger the effect. This happens because you need to exert a certain amount of effort to achieve the same hormonal and blood shifts. 

IF YOUR GOAL IS TO PERFORM BETTER AND LOSE WEIGHT…

Whether your exercise regime involves losing weight or increasing performance, it’s vital that you refuel after your workout. If you don’t have an appetite, this might be a tad harder to do, or you might usually assume that you don’t need to eat since you’re not hungry. 

That being said, if you’re trying to build strength and improve your performance, you have to make an effort to get nutrients after a tough session. You’re going to need protein for repair and muscle recovery, as well as carbs to replenish your glycogen stores. 

Glycogen is basically the form of carbohydrates your body uses for fuel in intense exercise. If you tend to skimp on your post-workout meal, you’ll either feel sluggish during your workout or feel cravings for carbs later on.

POST-WORKOUT NUTRITION IS VITAL

The longer and harder you train, the more important it becomes to eat a well-balanced snack or meal within an hour of finishing. Regardless if you’re hungry or not. If you’re not hungry, liquids may be an easier choice for easy digestion, such as a protein shake blended with fruit.

If you are someone who is hoping to use the appetite-suppressing powers of exercise to eat fewer calories throughout the day, and try to speed up your weight loss that way, you may have to rethink your approach. 

You’re still going to need energy, and your body is still going to crave calories later on. And when your hunger returns, you may find it to be ravenous, making you less likely to make healthy food choices.

Also, you shouldn’t choose your exercises based solely on how well they’re going to suppress your appetite. It’s always healthy to include both cardio and strength training variations since they bring you different benefits, and along with that, it’s important to choose activities you truly enjoy so you find something you’re truly going to stick with in the long-term.

Feeling Stiff and Sore When You Wake Up?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you get sore after a tough workout, that’s completely normal. Pulling and pushing heavy weights, going out for a long endurance run, or performing some high-intensity intervals will test your muscles, stress your joints, and allow you to experience the glory of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS.)

But feeling sore right after you wake up can happen because of a variety of other reasons, and they’re all worth exploring. That’s exactly what we’ll be doing today.

According to experts, when you move, the tissues that surround your joints start secreting a fluid that lubricates your joints and allows your bones to easily move past one another. If you stop moving for long stretches of time, say between 7 and 9 hours (during sleep,) you might expect all that immobility to lead to pain, stiffness, and inflammation.

This can be further exacerbated by your body’s natural affinity to stifle inflammation during sleep. A 5-year study from the University of Manchester discovered that a protein called cryptochrome is directly tied to your biological clock. It serves to repress the inflammatory pathways while you’re sleeping at night, making the symptoms of inflammation such as stiffness and pain feel way worse when you wake up.

This general temporary soreness is pretty common, even more so as we age, and it will usually go away after 10–15 minutes of moving around once you wake up. 

Even so, here are five tips you can apply instantly if you want to alleviate some of that morning stiffness and start your day up with vigor and energy.

Let’s get started.

#1 FINDING THE RIGHT PILLOW

An unspoken rule of sleep is that your pillow should match your sleeping style. If you sleep on your back, you need a different pillow than the one a stomach sleeper would use. Everyone should have a pillow that supports the natural curvature of their neck and allows the head, neck, and spine to align as you’re lying down. This helps you sleep with more comfort, prevents muscle strain, and reduces undue soreness the next day. 

#2 INSTANTLY GET MOVING

Yes, even though exercise can make you sore, regular exercise will go a long way to keeping your joints lubricated and your muscles enduring and strong. If you can’t really make it to the gym every day for some reason, you can still schedule movement into your day. People who have sedentary jobs should aim to get up from their desk every hour so they can walk around for a few minutes before they actually sit back down to work.

#3 TRY MEDITATION AND STRETCHING BEFORE BED

Meditation has always been an amazing way to relieve stress. And stretching feels good pretty much any time of the day. But going to bed as relaxed as possible will help your mind and body stay relaxed as you’re sleeping. Try a simple stretching routine if you want to relax your muscles or just engage in a short meditation so you can prepare your mind for sleep. If you’re still stiff in the morning, you can wake your body up with a series of stretches such as cat-cows, hip-openers, and child’s pose.

#4 EAT MORE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS

Anti-inflammatory diets have always been customizable and flexible, so while you may need to reduce your intake of a few foods, you’ll still have no shortage of delicious food to consume. Load up on berries, avocados, fatty fish, nuts, veggies, and you’ll be able to enjoy treats like dark chocolate while still keeping an overall healthy and balanced diet. Not only do these foods taste good, but they’re also packed with nutrients that fight inflammation and keep you healthy.

#5 GET MORE VITAMIN D

A lack of vitamin D can be associated with anything from reduced brain function to poor immunity. That being said, vitamin D’s impact on your muscle and bone health can have a major impact on your mornings. Increase your levels by taking a supplement or going the natural way and spending 15-20 minutes more in the sunlight every day.

Everything You Need to Know About Food Sensitivities

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Throughout dealing with cravings, hormonal imbalances, stress eating, and all the potential roadblocks standing between you and your dream weight, weight loss can sometimes feel like a detrimental uphill battle. 

But on top of that, you could be eating that simply don’t agree with your body, and this could be another contributing factor that is slowing down all your weight loss efforts.

Today, we’re here to talk about food sensitivities, what experts have to say about them, and how to deal with them if you suspect that you’re dealing with a food sensitivity.

WHAT IS A FOOD SENSITIVITY?

Usually, food sensitivities, food allergies, and food intolerances are all used interchangeably, but they are far from the same.

Food allergies will usually result in an immune system reaction. If you are someone who his allergic to foods, your immune system will start creating immunoglobulin E antibodies. Symptoms can vary from itching, swelling, and burning all the way to anaphylaxis (the reaction you see in movies that requires immediate medical attention.)

Food sensitivities are pretty much the most under-studied of the bunch. They’re very similar to allergies in the sense that they’re reactions typically controlled by the immune system that happen in response to specific nutrients. Symptoms of sensitivities can change and vary, meaning reactions aren’t guaranteed to happen in the same way.

Food intolerances are usually related to symptoms of the GI tract. They can occur when your body doesn’t have the ability to digest specific types of food. One of the most famous examples of this is lactose intolerance. When you lack the digestive enzyme required to digest lactose, this can cause digestive symptoms that aren’t related to immune responses.

If you’ve ever heard of FODMAPS, they’re the most common substances involved in most food sensitivities. They can include amines, sulfites, caffeine, gluten, dairy, and more. Generally, they will contribute to even more chronic inflammatory symptoms such as reflux, joint paint, eczema, psoriasis, migraines, and more. It could be extremely common for people with sensitivities to change up their symptoms day by day and week by week. 

Food sensitivities can also prevent you from losing weight, science says.

For starters, if you’re someone who has a difficult time losing weight but you’re not really experiencing any other symptoms, you should likely look into food sensitivities as your first course of action. Experts have suggested that there aren’t any specific scientific pieces of research that conclude food sensitivities cause weight gain.

But even so, if you experience psoriasis, eczema, or other issues of the GI tract, as well as inflammatory symptoms, this could cause some resistance in your weight loss efforts. And one of the leading factors here include food sensitivities. That’s because there is a wide variety of ways through which food sensitivities contribute to difficulties in losing weight.

First, and probably most important, research on inflammation and weight loss has looked at how increases in weight typically lead to inflammation… and not the other way around! Experts have observed that once the underlying inflammation from various food sensitivities becomes manageable and you address it, this will likely speed up your weight loss efforts and make them much easier. Once you’re in that better, healthier state, you will find it much easier to settle into a healthy weight without having to resort to weight-loss strategies.

There’s also another factor that could contribute to sensitivities halting your weight loss efforts. When you don’t feel well, generally, you don’t feel as if it is necessary to spend energy on activities such as cooking healthy food and exercising, all of which are essential to speeding up your weight loss efforts.

And lastly, food sensitivities have been known to cause discomfort and bloating, and this, in its own right, could mimic weight gain. If you’re someone who starts restricting the foods you eat because you’re not really certain about which foods are causing you trouble, you might end up eating more and more processed food. And we all know how detrimental this could be for your weight loss journey.

7 Ways to Get More Deep Sleep

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Health and weight loss experts all agree – not getting enough sleep is bad for you.

It messes up your immune system, your heart health, and your efforts to lose weight. And while getting enough sleep is vital in its own right, it’s also necessary to spend enough time in each phase of your natural sleep cycle – especially deep sleep. 

WHAT IS DEEP SLEEP?

Everyone sleeps in cycles, and most people usually go through 4-6 sleep cycles every night. Before you reach REM sleep, the phase in which you dream, there are two main stages:

Light sleep (non-REM): This phase is made up of two distinct phases, N1 and N2. In this phase, you have fallen asleep, but you’re easier to wake up.

Deep sleep (non-REM): This type of sleep is also called N3, and your body requires it to feel rested in the morning. If you wake up during the stage of deep sleep, you will feel groggy and tired. 

People spend about a quarter of their night in deep sleep. The majority of it comes in the cycles during the first half of the night. Deep sleep is sometimes called slow-wave sleep. This is because if we look at the brain waves on an EEG, deep sleep will create large, slow, wave-type patterns that indicate that the brains activity is minimal.

All your sleep phases are important for your health, but deep sleep is one of the most crucial ones. During deep sleep, your body goes into self-repair mode, releasing growth hormone, repairing damaged tissues, and consolidating your memories.

7 WAYS TO GET MORE DEEP SLEEP

#1 SKIP THE DEPRESSANTS AND STIMULANTS

Experts have long known that stimulants and depressants such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and cannabis have an overall negative impact on sleep and reaching adequate levels of deep sleep. You might think anything with this sedative effect will help with deep sleep, but experts point out that quality sleep and sedation are far from the same.

#2 STAY BUSY THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Keep your body (and your mind) active with exercise and complex, engaging work, social interactions and purpose-driven activities. This has all been shown to result in better, deeper sleep at night.

#3 USE YOUR BED FOR SLEEP AND SLEEP ONLY

With so many people working from home, it’s difficult to snuggle up in bed during the day. This, however, can create some sleep difficulties. You should leave your bed if you’re awake for more than 10-15 minutes. Find low-key activities to do until you feel the signs of sleepiness, then return to bed.

#4 SKIP NAPS… OR TAKE THEM EARLY

The term “sleep pressure” refers to how much your body needs to sleep. Low sleep pressure can decrease deep sleep and make it even more difficult to fall asleep at a regular bedtime. Taking naps close to bedtime will lower your sleep pressure and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Consider having an accurate timing and schedule for naps, if you’re someone who wants or needs to take them.

#5 GO TO BED EARLIER

You might get even more deep sleep if you increase your sleep hours before midnight. If you’re the average sleeper that doesn’t have trouble staying asleep or falling asleep, and if you tend to go to bed later (11 p.m. or later), try experimenting with going to bed earlier and see what difference this makes for your recovery.

#6 TRACK YOUR MEDIA CONSUMPTION

Listening to discouraging reports or all the negativity in the news right before bed is a bad idea. It will keep your mind racing throughout the night. Opt for shows that are more entertaining and lighter later in the day and do your best to reduce screen exposure at least an hour before you go to bed.

#7 DON’T WORRY ABOUT A FEW BAD NIGHTS

Just like we can all have bad days… we can all have bad nights. They happen now and then. Of course, we may start feeling more tired during the day after a bad night, but shorter periods of bad sleep are pretty much recoverable after one or more nights of high-quality, deep sleep.

5 Calorie-friendly and Budget-friendly Breakfast Meals

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

While you’re on a budget, be it a calorie budget or a financial one, breakfast is one of the best meals that has nutritious, affordable alternatives. This is because a lot of the ingredients for traditional healthy breakfasts can be bought frozen or in bulk. If you want to achieve weight loss or maintain your current weight, you probably want your first meal of the day to be one that’s calorie-conscious. 

That’s why we’re here today to explore some of our best picks for go-to breakfasts that won’t break the bank and will set your entire day up for optimal energy and healthy eating.

Let’s get started.

#1 OVERNIGHT OATS

In the breakfast game, oats are a power player. They’re very affordable, can be purchased in large quantities, and last a long time in your pantry. It’s more budget-friendly to even buy the canister of oats instead of packs. Another good reason to get oats in the canister is that they contain much less added sugar than their packet counterparts.

Overnight oats can then be made in massive batches for the entire week ahead. And let’s not forget, you can get very creative with what you add to them. You can add milk, cinnamon and fruit, berries, honey, everything! Oats have a plethora of health benefits such as being rich in fiber, helping you stay fuller for longer and lowering bad cholesterol.

#2 GREEK YOGURT PARFAIT

Greek yogurt is one of the most budget-friendly, low-calorie, healthy foods you can recommend to anyone. Their 0 percent variety clocks in at 90 calories, no fat, and a whopping 17 grams of protein per cup. It’s absolutely perfect for feeling and staying satiated while you’re cutting back on calories, and not to mention, they’re super affordable.

Want a great go-to breakfast option? Make-ahead yogurt parfaits. Just add ¾ cup of 0% yogurt to a small jar or bowl. Then add a layer of fruit such as berries, chopped melons, or even seedless grapes. Avoid using apples or bananas since they tend to brown. Next, add half a cup of granola. Then crush a tablespoon on top of your favorite unsalted nuts and sprinkle them on top. And boom – you have a make-ahead breakfast that will last you the entire week.

#3 EGG MUFFINS

Eggs are one of the most powerful yet easily digestible sources of protein. Not to mention, they’re very budget friendly. Egg muffins are incredibly versatile. You can add pretty much any herb, veggie, or protein to them for a well-rounded breakfast.

Be creative about what you add to your muffins – you’ve got spinach, red peppers, onions, seasoning, proteins, and so much more. The best thing about eggs is that they can be enjoyed several ways, from eating a whole egg to boiling egg whites. And they’ve got the nutritional value to back it up. 

#4 BLUEBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIES WITH KALE

If you’re a smoothie person, you’re going to love this. Clocking in at about 300 calories per serving, this budget-friendly meal is super affordable since its ingredients can be bought in bulk. The fruit and kale are both loaded with vitamins and minerals that lower inflammation. And lastly, the protein and carbs inside it will satisfy your hunger and keep you energized the whole day. 

Here’s an ingredient list:

  • 1/2 cup of low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen bananas
  • 1–2 cups frozen kale, washed and dried

Just be sure to place the kale at the bottom of your blender so it gets blended correctly. And feel free to make this smoothie even more budget-friendly by swapping out ingredients for ingredients that are in season.

#5 PROTEIN OATS

Every good breakfast list starts and ends with oats. Oats are so versatile that we included them here twice, and protein-packed oats are even easier to make. Just start with ½ cup of oats, cook like you normally would in a microwave, and then simply stir a beaten egg into your oats just before the cooking ends. 

You’ll get both fiber and protein in a filling mix, and this breakfast will keep you going and energized for hours to come. You can add defrosted frozen fruits for even more antioxidants and fiber and bring added benefits to your meal such as brain health, heart health, and better insulin resistance.

5 Winter Activities You Can Enjoy with your Friends and Family

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Depending on where you are in the world, you could either be facing cold, short, dark days, or sunny and bright days that are more welcoming to the idea of a fitness journey. But if you make an effort to involve some preparation in your cold-weather workouts, you can turn even the most moody winter day into a fun, exciting series of outdoor activities that will make you forget it’s cold outside. 

You shouldn’t be spending the sweater season in front of the TV or on the couch. Instead, schedule these 5 activities with all your loved ones and you’ll all collectively be able to get some fresh air, ward off the winter calories, and improve your mood. 

Let’s get started.

FIRST, GO SLEDDING

If there are kids around, you should know nothing beats the thrill of sledding down the largest hill you can find in the neighborhood… and then running for another round. 

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a child or a grown adult. Sledding is a great workout, and pretty much anything you can do in the snow that involves carrying or climbing involve resistance training. 

This means sledding essentially becomes a built-in workout that gets your heart going, burns calories, and makes the perfect situations for candid photos with your friends or loved ones. It’s a win-win!

SECOND, CREATE A SNOWY WONDERLAND

Kids (and adults) enjoy making the most out of the snow. Join youngsters in building snowmen, snow forts, and other contraptions. If you’ve got enough willing participants, you could even surprise everyone with a friendly snowball fight. But keep in mind activities performed in the snow get your heart rate going much faster. 

They can easily make for an efficient workout, but since they’re a fun way to get a workout, they actually feel like play.

THIRD, DON’T BE AFRAID TO HIT THE SLOPES

If you’re a fan of skiing and snowboarding, you know the type of full-body workout only they can give you. Not to mention, you can torch upwards of 300 calories an hour while skiing, and most ski resorts offer lessons to pretty much anyone. They’re something you can involve all your friends and family in. 

Research has even shown that these types of winter sports work as incredible mood enhancers. Naturally, they’re the perfect option for when you’re up against the winter blues. 

FOURTH, TRY OUT ICE SKATING

Ice skating is one of those winter activities that engages every major muscle group in your body. Your arms, legs, and core work together to keep you upright and gliding at all times, and this stress adds up. 

Skating could make for a date, an active get-together with all your friends, or even a new and exciting skill you can teach your kids (with a cup of hot cocoa at the end.) You might struggle and even fall down a few times, but the cardio workout and all the shared memories you’ll get out of it are definitely worth it.

FIFTH, WINTER HIKES/WALKS

Even 30 minutes of walking can help you burn upwards of 150 calories. This can easily add up when you’re trying to shed pounds and maintain weight. And if you have to push through chilly weather to get those minutes in, you’re making your walk all the more special. 

Schedule in your hiking trails and capture the gorgeous winter views, and before you know it, you will have racked up a serious step count. And all of this while enjoying the company of your friends and family and taking in the entire winter atmosphere. 

THE BOTTOM LINE IS…

Winter is an amazing time of year to spend with those close to you, and it’s especially important during this season that we get out of our sedentary habits and put our fitness and health first. When winter rolls around, most people put their health goals on the backburner. 

However, when we get to the plethora of activities and winter sport options out there, we can see how this season can be a great opportunity to actually progress with our goals and challenge our bodies in new ways… all while staying with our loved ones and having fun no matter the weather.

5 Ways to Track Your Food (and Weight Loss Success)

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you’ve been trying to lose weight for a while, you know logging your macros and calories is one of the best ways to stay on top of your diet. It’s also one of the best ways to lose weight in a manager manner.

But there’s actually much more to what you can do about your eating habits if you decide to track certain parts of your lifestyle.

Especially if you are able to switch up the metrics that you’re tracking.

Today, we’re going to explore some of the best food tracking strategies that will help you manage your intake and stay equipped with key observations that improve the way you eat.

#1 TRACKING YOUR FIBER INTAKE

Fiber is found in a ton of nutrient-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, lentils, fruits, and veggies. Experts recommend we get at least 25 grams of fiber (for women) and up to 40 grams of fiber (for men) per day. 

Proper diet management through fiber tracking can be a great way to encourage yourself to choose more fiber-rich foods at every meal and snack.

#2 STAY ON TOP OF HUNGER AND FULLNESS

Keeping tabs on your hunger and fullness both before and after you eat can be very revealing. You can simply keep track of this inside the notes section of your food diary. You might be tempted to eat less naturally by learning when you actually get hungry instead of overextending your hunger period and then overeating.

Here’s a heads up: some signs of hunger can be much more subtle than a growling stomach. Some signs might include fatigue, loss of concentration, headaches, and more. We always encourage people to track these trends and learn about their own bodies and their signals of hunger.  

#3 COUNTING YOUR COLORS

One of the most unique takes on tracking is to simply pay attention to how many colors you’re eating throughout the day. Especially when it comes to fruits and veggies.

Colors are commonly broken up into five categories. White, purple/blue, green, yellow/orange, and red.

Track how many of these colors you’re eating in a day and set a goal that you’re going to eat as many of these colors every day as possible. 

Each of these different colors will likely represent different health-promoting nutrients and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, fiber, potassium, and so much more.

When you initially begin this form of tracking, you will quickly realize how many colors are completely missing from your diet. And if that’s the case, you should make the effort to pump up your fruit and veggie intake. You can also top your yogurt with various berries, put bell peppers inside pasta, or even make rainbow quinoa for a healthy side dish. 

#4 TRACK YOUR MEAL FREQUENCY

Skipping a meal could be a massive problem. It could cause people to fall short of their nutritional goal. It can make it difficult for you to get vital nutrients such as essential minerals, fiber, and protein. Skipping meals especially early in the day can lead to binge eating and food cravings in the evenings. 

That’s why you should always track how often you’re eating and when you’re eating your first meal of the day. Make sure you’re making time for at least three meals a day so you can improve your energy levels, boost the quality of your workouts, and maintain balanced blood sugar levels.

#5 WRITE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS

This practice will equip you with a very powerful tool on your way to weight loss success. Just keep notes in your diary about how you’re feeling before and after you eat a certain food. Keep track of what you’re eating and what emotions are involved in each meal. 

Sometimes, you might find that you’re eating out of boredom or cravings instead of actual natural hunger. Understanding how and why you eat something can be detrimental to cleaning up your diet.

5 Walking Routine Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Lose Weight

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know a consistent walking routine can be one of the best ways to go about getting rid of excess belly fat and toning your body. But if you’ve recently hit your first weight loss plateau, don’t worry. From simply doing a leisurely stroll to omitting any efforts for strength training, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 most common walking mistakes you must avoid if you’re someone who wants to lose weight and burn fat through exercise.

#1 NOT UPPING THE PACE

Walking at a leisurely pace is surely better than no exercise at all. But that being said, research shows that brisk walking is your best choice for torching calories and losing weight. If you find it difficult to keep up the pace, try doing it for shorter intervals of about 2 minutes. This will serve as a steppingstone into HIIT and can help you rev up your metabolism and break through any weight-loss plateau.

#2 NOT CHANGING YOUR ROUTE

If you always still to the same old route, you should consider trying a new environment that can challenge you more. To boost your actual weight-loss efforts, a change of scenery a couple of days a month is definitely something you should go for. 

This could be the beach, a hilly trail, an urban hike, or even a new park you’ve never went to before. Not only will this give you a mental refresh, but you’ll also be able to engage with a new terrain and work muscle groups that you don’t usually engage.

#3 NOT DOING STRENGTH TRAINING

Strength training will play a massive role in your weight loss journey since it helps build muscle, which burns more calories as it is more metabolically active than fat, resulting in more weight loss at rest. Whether you do simple bodyweight exercises or go directly for the bars and dumbbells, strength training can help you build a strong core, develop glute and hip strength, and help you ultimately prevent injury… meaning you’ll be able to reach your goals sooner. 

#4 POOR WALKING FORM

Poor walking technique will not only slow your pace, but also cause you to tire more quickly. Since this can have a massive effect on how far (and how long) you’re able to walk, you have to work on improving your form every time you step out the door. 

On your next walk, pay attention to the big three: 

Your stride lengths… some walkers simply tend to overstride. And if your steps are too long, your speed suffers. It also means more stress is put on your joints. To check your stride length, simply lift a foot and lean forward. The place where your foot naturally falls is where you should generally be striking the ground. Shorter steps will allow you to walk faster. 

Your arm swings… swinging your arms will be a great way to propel yourself forward and get more power during your runs.

Standing tall… never slouch while you’re walking, even when you get tired. While you might need to strengthen your core to make this happen, you should always work on keeping your back straight and your head straight up. 

#5 YOU’RE SEDENTARY FOR A LONG TIME

Studies have shown a direct correlation between obesity and sedentary behavior. Even if you are going out for your daily walk, it will be much harder for you to lose weight if you spend the majority of your day sitting down. 

Setting an alarm reminder to get up and walk for about 5 minutes every hour has been shown to counteract the negative effects of sitting too much. Moving more throughout your day will also increase your step count, helping you lose even more weight and contributing to your overall health.

5 Pantry Staples to Stock Up on for Weight Loss

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Despite your best intentions, it can be a struggle to make healthy food choices. Between all the meal planning, grocery shopping, and food prepping, it’s very easy to just give up or fall off track. But through simple practices such as stocking your pantry with healthy food options, you’ll be able to ensure you always have something on hand when hunger strikes.

Below, we’re going to explore five foods that are absolute must-have staples in your pantry. Stock up on each of these, and you’ll see how they lead to promoting better decision-making and healthier eating at home.

#1 FRUIT BARS

The healthiest snacks you can find out there have simple, whole-food ingredients. They also contain low or no added sugar. And finally, they actually bring you some nutritional value. A pantry staple like this will help you meet your fruit goals, whether it’s when you need a snack on the go or when you’ve run out of other meal options.

#2 CANNED TUNA

Very few people eat the generally recommended two servings of seafood per week. That’s why canned tuna is one of the best pantry staple picks out there. They’re rich in vitamin D which is absolutely essential for immune function. 

They’re also abundant in omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory fats that are vital to brain and heart health. Not to mention, it’s a great source of protein. Tune is much more versatile than you might think. It’s not just for tuna salad sandwiches. Try tossing it inside some pasta with olives and veggies for a more well-rounded dinner or mix some tuna together with sesame oil and tamari and serve it over a batch of greens. 

#3 PULSE-BASED PASTA

A typical box of pasta is made from water and flour. But pulse-based pastas are made from more nutritious ingredients such as lentils and chickpeas which provide added protein and fiber. Cooking with some pulse-based pasta is a much quicker and easier way to add balance to your meals because you don’t necessarily have to cook a separate protein component. It’s all in one product and you can just add veggies and sauce and enjoy a delicious, nutritious meal. 

#4 OATS

Unsweetened dry oats have a ton of benefits going for them. They contain a wide spectrum of nutrients such as magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, fiber, and more. Oatmeal is a pretty natural choice when you have dry oats lying around, and here’s a fun fact: if you eat them raw, they’ll provide you with more prebiotic fiber known as resistant starch. 

Studies have shown that resistant starch assists with the body’s blood sugar regulation and weight management. It can also help reduce the bloating caused by gas. To make the most out of them, sprinkle some raw oats over a salad, on top of some avocado toast, or use them to coat your homemade energy bites. They’re delicious, healthy, and versatile – a true staple.

#5 WALNUTS

Walnuts contain more ALA (which is an anti-inflammatory fatty acid) than any other nut. Each serving of walnuts contains 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and a ton of polyphenol antioxidants which are all healthy for the gut. 

Several studies have found associations between walnuts and improved appetite control. This may be why data from the Nurses’ Health Study has shown that people who have boosted their walnut intake have gained less weight and had a lower risk of developing obesity over a 20-year follow-up period.  

Walnuts are versatile. You can eat them by themselves, add them to yogurt, oatmeal, salads, pilafs, you name it. And you can also use crushed walnuts in place of breadcrumbs when cooking seafood or chicken. But remember, while unopened walnuts are an amazing pantry staple, they should be usually kept in the freezer once opened.

5 Habits that Supercharge Your Weight Loss Efforts

Hey Angels and Alphas,

As you’re reading this, advertisements for fad diets are influencing people into a promise for quick results if they overhaul their diet and take drastic action for a few weeks.

Real talk: we know it’s a trap. Shed pounds quickly, they come back. This affects your metabolism, making losing weight even more difficult. In a similar way, cutting out your favorite foods from your diet (or entire food groups) is difficult to maintain in the long-term, leading to an ever larger risk of yo-yo dieting. 

A better alternative is to create weight loss changes by gradually adopting small, sustainable habits into your life. And when you’re starting a new weight-loss program, and you want to make it as easy as possible at the outset and remove all the limiting factors, you’re guaranteed to make progress. 

To keep your motivation going strong and keep you losing weight in a healthy way, try implementing these weight-loss promoting habits into your day and see what happens:

#1 SET A FIBER GOAL

It’s pretty well-known that tracking what you eat is a great tool to achieve faster success and better management. But you can dial-in even further and starting with one single goal: getting 20-30 grams of fiber every day. 

High-fiber foods include oatmeal, whole grains, leafy greens, legumes, and fruit, all of which can help you fill up for fewer calories. 

Research has shown that people who aimed at a 30-gram per day goal for their fiber intake (and successfully reached an intake of about 10 grams per day on average) ended up losing nearly 5 pounds over the course of a year. 

#2 TAKE YOUR TIME DURING YOUR LUNCH BREAK

Taking the time to slow down and be mindful about why and what you’re eating will actually go a long way toward helping you feel more satisfied by the meal and reducing your overall levels of stress. 

In fact, during one study, people who listened to a form of guided meditation during lunch and brought their conscious attention to the look, smell, and flavor of the meal, ate about 440 fewer calories than people who just zoned out in an audiobook. That’s a massive difference.

#3 DRINK BEFORE YOU EAT A MEAL

The next time you’re experiencing a hunger craving, what you should try is simply drinking a glass of water. Drinking two cups of water before each meal can actually make you feel more satisfied and lower your calorie intake by about 10-12 percent. 

Drinking a cup of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, could help you save about 50-70 calories every meal, amounting to over 20 pounds a year. Might seem like a small number but adds up in the long run. Not only that, you’ll find it much easier to hit your hydration goals.

#4 ADD BURSTS OF MOVEMENT TO YOUR DAY

If you’re someone working from home or at a desk, you should stand up and stretch for about 1-2 minutes every 30 minutes to an hour. 

You can literally set it as an alarm in your phone or calendar, and you’ll be able to get in 15 minutes of stretching which is about 45 calories every day. 

That’s about 5 pounds when spread out throughout the whole year, and not to mention, you get the added relief from tightness and knots in your shoulders and back.

#5 DO MORE STRENGTH TRAINING

When it comes to training, few types of exercise are as effective for losing weight as strength training. Strength training is one of the most effective exercises for increasing your metabolic function. 

This means that, when lifting heavy weights and challenging your muscles, you’ll be able to burn more calories and rev up your metabolism as your body will recover and rebuild, and further maintain lean muscle mass as you lose weight. 

If you were to simply add one hour of rigorous resistance training to your week, you’ll be able to burn about 440 calories every single week and achieve the lean, muscular, athletic build you might be looking for when trying to lose weight.

5 Easy Nighttime Weight Loss Hacks

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

You can ask an expert or anyone, and they will agree that there is no secret fast track to achieving long-term weight loss. 

You have to be consistent, dedicated, and have faith in the idea that each decision and habit you create is ultimately good for you, and they’re all investments in a healthy lifestyle. All of this is possible through a smart approach, starting with your nighttime routine. 

If you’re someone who wants to lose weight, preparation is absolutely crucial. It takes a ton of commitment and consistency, and if you don’t have absolutely clear guidelines on what you need to do to prepare, weight loss can become an exhausting and confusing process.

A balanced nighttime routine can be an absolute game-changer for anyone looking to lose weight since it will help you de-stress and smoothen out your entire daily routine. When stress becomes chronic or prolonged, like something you have to deal with every day, this can directly impact your health. 

For example, if your immune response is essentially hampered, you might be craving comfort foods that lead to weight gain. Digestion, cardiovascular measures, and mood are all negatively affected.

So try ending your day nicely by setting a nighttime routine with these simple, nighttime hacks that will take you less than 10 minutes:

#1 DO SOME SIMPLE BREAKFAST PREP

Instead of skipping your breakfast and overeating at lunch, there are tons of healthy options you can go for that you can make ahead of time… even while you’re sleeping! For example, overnight oats are an amazing way to prepare large batches of breakfast. You can also try steel-cut oats to get their least-processed form. 

Oats are an amazing way to get in the necessary soluble fiber, which helps you feel more satiated after eating and less hungry by the time you get to lunch. Greater satiety will equate to overall fewer calories consumed, helping you maintain and lose weight.

#2 HAVE A SNACK AND LUNCH PLAN

If you’re someone who does meal prep on the weekend, this shouldn’t take long. But you can also take advantage of leftovers and pack them the night before! This could include your pre-cut veggies for a salad, or this can mean making a grain bowl with whatever protein, whole grains, and veggies you can get your hands on. 

Snacks can also be a part of a healthy eating plan. The night before, you can pre-cut fruits and veggies and put them in containers or single-serve bags. This will help you separate individualized portions of food that can be easy to over-do on such as nuts, peanut butter, or trial mix.

#3 DO SOMETHING THAT RELAXES YOU

At the end of the day, both your mind and your body are exhausted from the day’s events and stressors. And since the next day is likely going to be full of those exact stressors, it’s vital that we take some time to wind down. 

When you’re stressed out, your bodies respond in a physical way and you have to purposefully do something so you can relax your whole system. 

This might include deep breathing, gentle walks, or yoga. All of these activities trigger the natural relaxation responses inside your body, and they’ll help you get up and start the next day fresher and ready to take on the world.

#4 KEEP A JOURNAL

Journaling can be therapeutic in the literal sense, and it can help get the thoughts from your head onto paper, so you don’t keep them with you at night. This is a great way to help you visualize all your goals, and even doing something such as writing a short to-do list for your next day will help you fall asleep faster. 

#5 MEDITATION

Meditation, or just the act of slowing down your thought and being mindful, is an amazing way to reduce stress and it is directly linked to a variety of benefits. Meditation isn’t all about turning off your thoughts, instead it’s more about learning to observe them without judgment. Start off with 5 to 10 minutes at a time and see if this allows you to feel calmer, setting you up for a good night’s sleep. In turn, you will feel much more refreshed the next day. 

Strength Exercises that Runners MUST Do to Progress

sports nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

You already know running is one of the best forms of exercise for people who want to improve their cardiovascular health, lose weight, and gain endurance. So much so that certain athletes in running-related sports spend the majority of their exercise hours running, be it for a marathon or another sport-specific activity.

We’ve talked about the importance of strength training in cardio-based sports in many posts, and today, we want to share our quick checklist of exercises runners can do to make sure they’re solving the most common challenges that runners experience. 

That being said, these challenges are related to bone health, muscle health, and joint health, and as runners spend so much time and energy training their skills and endurance, sometimes they leave out one important aspect of training – developing strength. With this quick checklist of exercises that any runner can easily implement into their day, you’ll be able to strengthen the foundation of muscle your body uses every time you go out for a run.

Let’s get started. 

First, the weighted calf raises. 

It’s one of the simplest exercises out there, yet it’s profoundly effective at developing calf strength and strengthening joints throughout your legs. All you have to do is get a step/platform and a weight, then stand on the platform with your heels hanging off the edge and use your other hand to hold on for balance. Then rep away. 

This exercise will help you build stability, strength, and extra endurance in one of the most important areas of your lower body, the calves. You might have built a lot of endurance in your calves but be lacking in strength – this will lead you to joint or mobility issues later on. To make sure you have a strong foundation of muscle, try calf raises. 

Second, the half-kneel hip flexor stretch.

When it comes to running, developing strength in your hips is crucial. And if you’re someone who runs all the time or trains consistently for marathons, chances are your hip flexors can quickly become strained and stressed. This can happen over time if you’re not recovering properly or not addressing small ailments that come and go. By doing this exercise, you’ll start strengthening your hip flexors and providing yourself with more power and stability while running. This will also translate into more endurance as you will be learning how to utilize your muscles more efficiently while running.

Third, Hip Bridges. 

Your glutes are the core of your running and inertia power, and this is an amazing exercise to make them both stronger. You start off lying on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Then squeeze your glutes and lift your hips, engaging the glutes, and hold at the top before you lower back down. It’s a wholly focused, controlled movement that must be done in a way in which your hips, knees, and shoulders are in a straight line to maximize intensity and hip development.

Fourth, Bulgarian Split squats. 

This exercise is similar to the lunge, but it will really ramp up the resistance you experience in your quads. It’s one of the best general exercises out there for runners. It’s essentially just like a lunge, done with one of your legs placed on a bench behind you. You keep your body as straight as possible and drop until one knee is at a 90-degree angle, and then your other knee (placed on the bench) is close to touching the ground. Add a dumbbell to this exercise, and you’re going to see why this exercise is notorious for its intensity.

3 of The Most Underrated Exercises You Should Already Be Doing

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know there’s no shortage of exercises you can do to target any and every muscle group you want to work in the male and female fitness world. Just turn to Google, and you will instantly find a plethora of the best moves for abs, a bazillion lunge variations, and thousands of new planks you never knew existed… all of them attached to a fun new Instagram challenge for you to try.

And while it’s never a bad thing to have options, all of these exercises can make it seem like the only way to really work your muscles the right way is to do it through countless bizarre ways and complex moves.

But fitness doesn’t have to be – and actually shouldn’t be – that complicated.

The more complicated an exercise is, often the less muscle engagement you’re actually going to have. When you favor such moves, you tend to forget about all the “old-school” exercises such as squats and pushups that have been the golden standard for years because they work really well.

Simple stuff works better than anything if you’re doing it correctly. 

Today, we’re here to talk about three of the simplest exercises that are more effective than you would initially think. You’ll be surprised at how difficult they are to complete when you perform them properly. But that’s where their beauty lies.

#1 THE PERFECT SQUAT

Squatting is an essential functional movement. You do it all day without even thinking about it. Whenever you pick up your kid, lift a heavy bag of groceries, or sit in a chair, you’re doing squats. Since we squat so often in our day-to-day life, squatting in the gym could yield some benefits. And contrary to what most people will tell you, squats strengthen the muscles around your lower back and your knees.

If you want to do a perfect squat, start off with just your bodyweight until you reach perfect form. In both cases, here’s how the movement is performed:

Start by engaging your abs – this will stabilize your low back.

Push your glutes back, hinging at the hips initially, then go ahead and bend your knees to lower toward your feet. Allow your knees to freely travel forward. It’s completely OK if they move a bit past your toes, but make sure you don’t overextend too far — your torso and lower leg should stay parallel.

Then simply lower as far as you can without compromising this alignment in any way.

2. PUSHUPS

Pushups simply have all the criteria necessary to be an incredible exercise. You can do them anywhere, anytime, and you can even modify them in countless ways. 

They work for any gym-goer from beginner to advanced, they are a compound movement meaning they work multiple muscle groups in the same exercise, and they’re effective for building strength.

And if that wasn’t enough, experts point to the fact that many people tend to focus on how much they can lift off the rack or floor, but during the negative part of an exercise (in which you lower the weight) people tend to let gravity do the work for them instead of controlling the movement. 

Pushups will force you to move more slowly throughout an exercise, helping you build more strength.

To do a perfect pushup, go slowly and maximize your muscle engagement. 

Perform pushups in which you don’t bang out tons of reps but instead lower yourself to the count of 3 or 4, then go back up to the count of 1 or 2. Focus on getting great range of motion. Begin the exercise at the top with your elbows almost locked and lowered. Then push back up. 

3. GLUTE BRIDGES

If you suddenly decided to stop doing your glute bridges because you weren’t feeling them in your glutes enough, you’re just not doing them correctly. That’s no reason to abandon the exercise altogether. 

Glute bridges are to lower body exercises what your usual pushup is to upper body exercises. They’re an essential strengthening movement. They teach the body to move with the glutes as the “boss” of all the lower-body movements.

To do the perfect glute bridge, peel yourself off the mat slowly rather than lifting yourself up. Here are the four steps to a perfect glute bridge:

  1. Start by tilting your hips to eliminate the space between the mat and your lower back.
  2. Lift your glutes slowly off the floor without lifting your back.
  3. Now lift your lower back off the mat, putting yourself at the top of the glute bridge.
  4. Return to your starting position by simply reversing through all four steps.

Stability vs. Balance – Basics of Functional Training

male fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the entire fitness community has been cheering on functional training for the last couple of years. This has reached the point where functional training is all the rage, and as with anything (and any similar trend) in the fitness world, there are always a ton of people running around trying to tell you what it is, what it’s not, and what you should do about it.

That being said, there are a ton of misconceptions about functional training that are still floating around in the air after the initial rush of people spreading misinformed opinions. 

One of these misconceptions, one that we’d like to clear up today, is that functional training is the same as balance training.

When you ask someone if they’re doing any functional training (and they actually are), they will usually proceed to tell you all about the exercises they do for balance such as stability exercises and proprioceptive training. That’s why today, we’re here to talk about balance, stability, functional training, and clear up a lot of these misconceptions so you can get a better understanding of what’s best for you.

With that said…

Functional training is essentially all about training movements instead of muscles. It’s focused on the transference of energy from one point to another. Example – when you’re picking up a box, you’re transferring energy from the ground up. This is usually where the question arises of balance vs stability.

The two have been widely mistaken and usually defined as the same thing, but they’re completely different (and each individually important) aspects of a well-rounded strength and conditioning routine.

Stability has to do with being stable – that’s not coming as a shock to anyone. It’s about firmness, strength, and resistance to disturbances of balance. 

Balance has to do with the even distribution of weight that allows an object to remain firm, upright, and you guessed it, stable. 

Within the training world and training nomenclature, balance has its place in health, wellness, and even rehabilitation. But when you’re trying to talk about stability, you’ll most likely be referring to training that creates an environment of stability so it can enhance strength and “practice” this transfer of energy. This is most likely done when your feet are both planted on the ground.

When you’re training for balance, you’re aiming to create an environment of instability. This means energy transference will basically be adversely affected from joint to joint to core to the exit point. Both of these are technically considered functional training. But they’re so, so different. 

As athletes, we all know we should be following a balanced workout program, but as humans, we sort of tend to do what we like and totally avoid what we don’t. Along those lines, two aspects of training, balance and stability training, probably take a back seat to cardio and strength training for most of you. However, you could ultimately benefit by regularly practicing both these training protocols and integrating them into your daily life.

That’s why the first thing to know is that stability and balance are two vastly different things. 

Another way to look at it is that stability is your ability to control your body position from head to toe through a specific movement, while balance will be the ability to maintain your center of gravity over a central base of support. For example, static leg-split squats challenge your balance, but doing something like walking lunges challenges your stability. 

Once you know the difference between these two training protocols, you can make a more educated choice on which one to integrate into your program, but ultimately both can find a place in it.

5 Must-Do Stretches to Prevent Soreness & Injury

male fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

There’s a lot of controversy in the fitness world because of the research as to whether stretching prevents injuries. 

But one thing is clear: stretching will help you improve both your range of motion and your flexibility. These two factors play a vital role in terms of warding off injuries in the long-term, and they can also improve your fitness performance altogether.

Having improved flexibility will allow you to increase your range of motion. In turn, this helps the athlete become more efficient at moving, and the body is less likely to get injured. Healthy mechanics of the body and healthy training usually go hand in hand and stretching has crucial implications for athletes that want to rehabilitate, or better yet, prevent injuries.

One small study actually found that some inflexibility in specific areas of the body can be an asset for some runners. Even so, every good runner will have a pretty healthy amount of muscular pliability, so in no way does this translate to stiffness to the point of impairing movements.

The key is this: knowing when to do which type of stretching. 

There are two basic types of stretching: static and dynamic. 

Static stretching is all about holding certain postures. This elongates your muscles. Stretching has been proven to have a detrimental effect on performance when done before a certain activity. The main theory as to why this happens is that when a muscle is too elongated before an activity, it loses its ability to generate explosive power during movements. Therefore, static stretching should be done after your training, or as a means of rehabilitation.

Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, has been shown to have the opposite effect. Dynamic stretching uses active movements to allow you to stretch and train the muscles to fire in a specific way, preparing them for explosive moments such as lifting weights, running, jumping, etc.

Consider integrating the following series of stretches into your pre-workout and post-workout routine. Before training, do dynamic stretches to prepare and engage. After training, do static stretches to release and restore.

PRE-WORKOUT STRETCHES (DYNAMIC)

#1 WALKING LUNGES (do about 15-20 meters of walking lunges)

Start off by standing with your feet at hip-width apart. Perform a lunge, basically stepping your left leg forward, and as you plant your left foot, lower your body down as low as you can. Your left knee should be at a 90-degree angle, and it should also be perfectly aligned with your left ankle. Slowly come back to the center, stand up, and repeat this with your right leg.

#2 LEG SWINGS (do a couple of sets, at least one for each direction)

Start off with some forward leg swings by standing next to a wall so you can keep balance. While you’re keeping both your legs straight, simply swing your left leg in front of your body, and then behind your body. This counts as one leg swing. 

Don’t swing past the point of discomfort. After you repeat with your right leg, switch to sideways leg swings to add variety. Similar to the first variation, swing the left leg toward the right, sweep your foot across your body and then go back to the left. Repeat with your right leg.

#3 THE FRANKENSTEIN (do about 15 meters forward then 15 meters back)

While your feet are hip width apart, stretch out your arms in front of your body and keep your palms facing downward. Then simply march forward, all while swinging your left leg up in front of your body. Be sure that you can maintain perfect posture and keep your knees straight so you’re creating a 90-degree angle with your body. Once you plant your left leg back on the ground, proceed to swing your right leg up.

POST-WORKOUT STRETCHES (STATIC)

#1 THE PIGEON (do the pigeon pose for 1-2 minutes)

Start off in the initial pushup position. Then bring your right leg forward, placing your bent knee and your thigh in front of your body. Your right foot should be sitting near your left hip. Then, your left leg should remain extended right behind your body, and the top of it should be resting on the ground. While supporting your body with your hands on either side, simply feel the stretch and hold for about a minute on each side.

#2 THE SCISSOR STRETCH (do about a minute of scissor stretches on each side)

Start with your feet together and step your right foot forward a couple of feet. Then carefully bend forward at your hip, reaching down toward the ground and placing your hands on the sides of your right foot. Hold for about a minute and switch sides.

3 Signs You Have to Develop Strength in your Upper Back

male fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Your lats, or in other words, your latissimus dorsi muscles, are probably not something you really focus on when you’re working out. Abs, biceps, glutes, sure. But lats often get overlooked in favor of muscles that are more visible, muscles that are easier to activate. 

What countless people don’t realize is that these muscles, which span a massive portion of your back muscles, actually do a lot of work for you, and focusing on making them stronger is one of the best things you can do for your overall strength. 

Your lats basically attach to the middle and lower back, your lower ribs, your pelvis, and your upper arm, and they’re crucially involved in the pulling movements with the arms such as rows, pullups, pulldowns, as well as the extensions and rotations of your arms.

They even play a massive role in exercises where you wouldn’t usually expect them to play a role. With proper form, your lats can actually help pull your spine into a proper, more extended position for a certain deadlift, resisting the usual tendency of the back to basically round up from the weight of the bar.

In simple terms, yes, you want your lats to be as strong as possible.

But what are some signs that your lats need work? Here are 3 signs to watch out for.

#1 IF YOU CAN’T FULLY EXTEND YOUR ARMS OVER YOUR HEAD…

If your lats are tight, they’re weak. No two ways to go about it. If your lats and scapular regions don’t allow you to fully extend overhead, this is a clear sign that they need some work.

Here’s one way you can test your range of motion: simply lie down on your back, bend your knees while keeping your feet on the floor, and naturally, this should flatten out your lower back. Then try to extend your arms overhead and then to the floor behind you, all without bending your elbows. If your elbows bend or you notice your arms touch, you should start working on both strength and range of motion for your lats.

Shoulder mobility might not really seem like a big deal, but it’s vital. The shoulders are utilized in pretty much every upper body movement you do. When you’re lifting, reaching, holding objects in your day-to-day life or workouts, you usually rely on the optimal function of your shoulders at all times. The biggest supporters of the shoulders are, you guessed it, the lats.

#2 IF YOU CAN’T DO A PULLUP

Countless people are working on achieving their first pullup (or even chinup) with no success. They’re strong, at a healthy weight, and they’ve been working out with negative pullups or band-assisted pullups for awhile. But if you’re in this situation and you still can’t do a pullup despite putting in the work, this could likely be because of neglected lats. The lats are where your strength should come from when you’re doing a pullup, and other shoulder and back muscles usually operate as secondary movers that aid in stability.  

Though people will often try to pull up with their biceps or traps during the movement, the most efficient muscles to utilize here are your lats. Don’t expect to go much further in reps if you don’t focus on building up that lat strength. 

#3 IF YOU’VE GOT BAD POSTURE

To be completely fair, this could largely be due to a variety of factors. The fact is, making your lats stronger will help you massively with further postural issues. There are countless factors that contribute to this – for example, if someone is training a lot of pressing and pushing movements without really doing any pulling movements, strengthening the lats will go a long way to improving posture.

For some people, weak lats could be at the root of their bad posture. Sitting all the time with poor posture will lead to a weak mid and upper back. This, in turn, damages your abdominal strength. A strong core is an absolute must for good posture, so the exercises where you have to resist rotation (such as landmine presses or the Pallof press) can help train both those regions at the same time.

Best Supplements for Women who Love Working Out

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Here’s a quick question – do you think there are more supplements in the world of female fitness or male fitness? Anyway, we all know there are countless companies selling fat burners, proteins, creatines, stimulants, and countless other forms of supplements. 

And even though these companies spend a ton of time and money targeting the right people through their advertising, many of them do not categorize their supplements by gender.

Naturally, this leaves a lot of women wondering – should we be taking the same supplements as men? Should we be taking as much as they do? Should we be taking them at all? 

The fitness community has, of course, overcomplicated the issue with countless posts about how healthy supplements are and how women can use them to the best effect, creating even more confusion. 

That’s why we’re here to day to make it all much simpler and more straightforward.

We’ll spare you dozens of hours of research and we’ll give you one simple solution – if you feel like you want to take a supplement because you’re not getting enough of a given nutrient from your diet, do it. But when it comes to creatine or pre-workout stimulants, all you have to do is make sure you’re taking a smaller dose.

Essentially, there is little difference in the supplements men and women take. However, since women tend to weigh less than males on average, it’s much safer to adjust dosage for weight and make sure you’re taking a smaller size dose of creatine, pre-workout stimulants, and other such supplements. 

When it comes to answering the question “what supplements women should take”, this is entirely up to you and will depend on the goals and aspirations you have. With that said, here are some of the more favorable options. These are my top three picks for underrated, lady-friendly supplements that will help you fill the gaps in your diet and gain a performance advantage in the gym.

Creatine – when it comes to creatine, most men stick to the 5g a day rule. If you’re a seasoned gym lady and you want to get the benefits of creatine, simply take half that dose (which is still plenty for you). Take 2.5 grams of creatine, a few times a week, and your creatine stores will be saturated and abundant.

Lutein – lutein is a part of a fat-soluble class of nutrients called carotenoids. It’s usually found in dark-green veggies, as well as various fruits. It’s an antioxidant that concentrates into your eyes to help protect them against free radical destruction and resulting age-related degeneration, the leading cause for blindness in women. Lutein is also found to support general health in reproductive tissues. It’s also found in the skin and may protect against the sun’s damaging rays.

Pro-biotics – an essential part of your gut health. The excitement around them seems to have no end – scientists are currently investigating the connections between your gut bacteria and countless aspects of your health such as your immune function, mental health, skin health, and physical performance. However, there’s no FDA-approved amount that you should be taking every day. 

BCAAs – Whether you’re sweating it out with cardio or lifting heavy, BCAAs are going to help you properly recover your muscles after your workout. They’ll also help you prevent soreness and even retain more of your toned muscle mass while you’re losing weight! If your diet is lacking in protein, BCAAs are the best (and one of the most delicious) way to increase your protein intake and reap all the health benefits.

3 Reasons Why Women Should Do Heavy Strength Training

female fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Ever since the dawn of bodybuilding and female fitness, women have broken down into two groups: those who strength train and those who don’t. It’s hard to believe how so many women, to this day, avoid weightlifting and strength training because of their fear that they will become too muscular. If you’re in that way of thinking, there’s one simple realization you have to make – if you’re not incorporating strength training into your routine, your training routine is essentially incomplete.

If your overall goal is to tone your body, become more athletic, lose weight, look good, feel good, and be more energetic, you can’t go on spending countless hours on the treadmill expecting this to happen. You’re missing out on one very important aspect of training – resistance. It offers massive physical and mental health benefits that will not only help you achieve your desired goals faster but will also allow you to push yourself past your potential and into new, undiscovered territory for your body.

In case you’re still skeptical, here are my top three reasons why more women should be incorporating strength training into their routine… as soon as possible!

You’ll actually achieve better weight loss results. 

If you’re training to slim down and lean out, and everything you’re doing is some slow, steady, low-intensity cardio, you’re not going at this in the most productive way possible. 

If you simply add some weight training into your routine, you will immediately see a vast difference in the number of calories (and fat) you burn on a daily basis. 

This is because strength training leaves an “afterburn” effect that will have you burning calories for the rest of the day after you’ve finished training. This effect can also be produced with high-intensity cardio (or HIIT), though if you want to maximize it, you can simply incorporate a few resistance training exercises into your post-run routine. Ultimately, strength training will lead you to burn more fat, not less.

When you’re strength training, your body remains in a fat-burning state long after you’ve finished your workout. This translates to burning up to twice as fast as you would if you only did low-intensity cardio sessions. And on top of that, building some lean muscle will actually help you burn more calories in the long-run (and look better) since muscle is more metabolically active than fat – meaning the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. 

More strength and more curves! 

Muscle strength and muscle power are incredibly underrated. If you’re using resistance bands, barbells, dumbbells, even your own body weight, you’ll not only be building up muscle strength and endurance… you’ll also be adding more lean muscle mass to your body’s natural build, allowing you to get the curves you want exactly where you want them.

Less stress and more energy. 

Countless studies have linked the positive impacts of weightlifting to mental health. When you’re in the gym, you’ll be passionately focused on your reps, sets, and exercises, and your mind falls into a near-meditative state. 

Not to mention, if you start your day off with a workout, you’ll be energized throughout the whole day because of the inertia of movement you’ve created. People have this misconception that exercise will make you tired, whereas the exact opposite is true – a workout will fuel you with energy and have you fired up and ready to go for the rest of the day. Training has also been shown to alleviate depression and lower anxiety due to its strong anti-stress effects.

Ultimately, once you get the snowball rolling down the hill, and you see yourself struggle, push past plateaus, and grow into a new you… you will find yourself reaching a point where you let go of all your worries and you just focus on improving yourself. That’s exactly what I want for you, and I think strength training is one amazing way to achieve it.

The 10 Best Weight Loss Workouts – Ranked

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether you’re looking to lose a lot or a little weight, exercise is an important component of any weight-loss plan. But not all workouts are created equal when the goal is shedding pounds. Ahead, trainers rank their favorite research-backed workouts for weight loss.

#1 BODYWEIGHT WORKOUTS (A-TIER)

Bodyweight exercises can be used to do both cardiovascular/endurance training and, when pushed to the extent, and strength training. When your body allows it, you can do bodyweight cardio training such as high knees, jumping jacks, burpees, etc. and alternate them with boxing punches in plank jacks, squat jacks, squat jumps, or a low squat. 

While you might think you need some equipment to do strength training, in reality, you can focus on making bodyweight exercises more challenging and pushing your body further. This creates a similar way of getting stronger such as using heavier weights throughout an extended period of time.

#2 BOXING (S-TIER)

If you’ve ever done a shadow boxing or heavy bag class, you know that boxing is one of the heaviest, sweatiest forms of cardio. 

One study even looked at adults with high levels of body fat and discovered that a high-intensity boxing regimen up to four days a week was the most effective method for reducing body fat when compared to walking and running workouts.

#3 CIRCUIT TRAINING (A-TIER)

The workout of choice for countless personal trainers when they’re introducing beginners to the gym. A high-intensity, steady-state circuit workout can hit different than HIIT since there’s minimal rest involved. 

For example, performing 6 exercises for 1 minute each without rest truly pushes the boundaries of what your body is capable of. When you can do a circuit like that three times, then rest a few minutes between sets, you’ll be providing the maximum benefit with a tiny time commitment workout. Speaking of HIIT…

#4 HIIT (S-TIER)

High-intensity interval training is pretty much the most well-known form of weight loss training next to straight up running. 

This is because it’s a great way to lose body fat. HIIT exercise has been shown to be much more effective than steady-state exercise when it comes to weight loss. Why it’s not really clear why that is, HIIT does seem to work better than other forms of cardio for the majority of people out there.

#5 ROWING (A-TIER)

Rowing is another full-body workout that’s low-impact – meaning it’s highly effective at helping you rack up calorie burn and lose weight. Furthermore, it’s accessible for people at any level of physical ability.

Research published in the Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine discovered that people who had impaired vision (who often have low levels of physical fitness) were able to lower their fat mass by adding the practice of rowing to their routine five days a week.

#6 RUNNING/CYCLING (A-TIER)

Running and cycling can be extremely effective for weight loss, providing you’re not compensating for the calories you burn through a massive post-run snack refuel. There are many ways to boost your calorie burn while running, such as adding sprints or turning it into an all-out HIIT session. 

#7 STRENGTH TRAINING (S-TIER)

Lifting weights not only helps you lose weight through calorie burn, but also improves your metabolic rate and helps you burn calories post-workout. While pretty much any type of weightlifting or strength training will be genuinely beneficial to your body, experts recommend heavy weightlifting in particular. 

Engaging in heavy lifting is one of the best ways to increase bone density and muscle size, as well as maximize the number of calories you burn during and after your session. 

#8 SWIMMING (B-TIER)

Swimming is one of the best low-impact workouts out there. Because it’s really easy on the joints, it’s an amazing pick for people who find other forms of cardio too harsh. And there are other pros, too! Low risk of injury in a full-body workout. 

Improving body composition throughout the entire body. And so much more! Research has continuously shown that swimming is an amazing method people of all ages can use to improve body composition.

#9 WALKING (A-TIER)

Believe it or not, simply bringing up your step count can be an incredibly solid fat loss strategy. Walking trends to count as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, also known as NEAT, which is pretty much a way of saying “the calories your body will burn during your regular daily activities.” 

NEAT will, on average, account for about 15-20 percent of the total daily energy expenditure of your body. Increasing it can significantly improve your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and your digestion — all while burning a ton of calories at the same time.

#10 YOGA (A-TIER)

Yoga classes (or doing yoga solo at home) can help work on flexibility and strength, burn calories, and allow you to destress. Yoga can burn about 200 calories in a 30-minute session. 

One large-scale research review concluded that yoga is an effective way to manage your body weight. But apart from the calories you’ll burn while doing it, yoga will also support other factors in your body that make weight loss easier, such as lowering stress.

6 Mental Tricks You Can Use to Get Back on Track

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Getting back on track to weight loss, healthy eating, or training hard – whatever those things mean to you – can sometimes be tricky after you’ve taken time off. But whether you’ve taken a break from developing certain habits over the holiday season or you’re simply going to be refreshing your nutritional habits as you’re moving into the New Year, you have to get your head in the game. 

After all, the “back on the wagon” mentality can actually bring its own mental challenges. Luckily, there will be countless ways you can adjust your mindset and make it much easier to wrap your head around all the positive changes you’re implementing. Here, dietitians are going to be sharing their own tips.

#1 THINK ABOUT ADDING, NOT SUBSTRACTING

Consider all the different things you want to be eating rather than what you’re going to be aiming to remove from your diet. That way, working your way toward much healthier habits is likely going to feel less overwhelming. Instead of cutting out all the chips and pizza from your diet, try adding a new serving of veggie to your meals every day. Pizza with salad will be a much more balanced meal and may help you eat less in the long run.

#2 KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE

It won’t really matter what you do between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, it only matters what you do between New Year’s Day and Christmas Day. The holiday season is the busiest time of the year – make sure to enjoy foods that are worth splurging on and just move on into your routine after the holidays. You aren’t going to serve yourself if you just dwell on the past. Set some realistic goals and get moving!

#3 REMEMBER SETBACKS ARE A PART OF THE PROCESS

Getting back on track can easily feel intimidating if you’re someone who is afraid of messing up their diet. So it can really help to acknowledge that you’re definitely going to slip up from time to time – and that’s totally OK. Plan for all your setbacks by just identifying which areas you’re going to be struggling with. 

Maybe it’s exercise or consistency, maybe it’s the drinks on the weekends. Do your best to plan ahead for the occasions. Realize they’re just a part of the process and aim to minimize their impact. Recognize that progress is going to get you to the goal – not perfection.

#4 REMEMBER NOTHING LASTS FOREVER

Another obstacle standing in the way between you and changing how you eat is worrying that you just won’t be able to eat your favorite foods again. But keep in mind that the changes you’re making now might involve making some sacrifices. But once in a while, you should treat yourself to all the foods you love. 

Plus, as you’re getting closer and closer to your goals, there may even be more room for the foods you actually enjoy. 

#5 FOCUS ON THE QUALITY

It might seem counterintuitive at first, but you should never start a diet by simply cutting calories out. If you’re not eating the correct balance of micronutrients to actually satisfy your body, simply trying to restrict to a smaller amount of food is a recipe for disaster. 

Instead, focus on the quality of your food – choose more nutrient-dense options and fewer processed foods. Learn more about your own hunger and satiety cues. Do your best to set yourself up for success by giving you body quality, then leave the quantity as your second priority.

#6 UNDERSTAND THAT NOTHING IS OFF LIMITS!

There are no foods that should be strictly forbidden from your diet. Everything and anything can find in a well-balanced, healthy diet. The only thing you have to do is choose how much food you’re going to eat. Maybe you’re someone who just loves ice cream. 

Why would you completely take it out of your life? It’s just a matter of controlling your portion size and making sure you’re not overindulging. 

Remember that the foods you love to eat are easily available, and they’re not going anywhere but aim to exercise self-discipline and treat yourself with those foods as you’re still making progress.

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