Mental Hacks for Overcoming Your Toughest Workouts

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Some workouts, whether they’re intense weight loss workouts or crushing weightlifting bouts, can feel so satisfying that they actually remind us why we exercise in the first place. But then, there are days in which all we want to do is call it quits halfway through our workout. On these days, it’s very useful to have a plethora of mental hacks and tricks you can use to keep yourself going.  

Sometimes, you might need a lot of tools just to be able to get through a specific workout. But because mental hacks work better for some workouts and worse for others, it’s always a good idea to have multiple tricks up your sleeve.

Before you start using any of these mental hacks, take stock of the big fundamentals that contribute to your overall health: your nutrition, sleep and hydration. And if you’re dragging in your workout, this issue could be physical rather than mental. Sometimes, we will have an emotional reaction, but this will be our body trying to tell us that we need to eat, drink, or rest more. 

So assuming your sleep, nutrition, and hydration are all on point, here are a couple of mental hacks you can use to get yourself through your workouts on those days where willpower is scarce.

1. YOUR PLAYLIST IS YOUR BIGGEST HACK

Research has long proven that music can help us exercise longer and harder. Middle-aged study participants who listened to music while undergoing a cardiac stress test (which is basically a treadmill exercise test that is usually used to diagnose certain heart problems or gauge the safety level of exercise) were basically able to last a full minute longer than patients who didn’t listen to music, according to a 2018 research published inside the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Go into your workouts being armed and ready with a playlist of songs that will give you energy. We all have those songs that, when we hear them, we just feel the positive energy inside our body. The songs don’t even have to be positive and upbeat, as long as they give you energy every time you hear them. 

So, in those times when you hit a speed bump during your workout and need a surge of energy that will carry you to the finish line, blast one of those songs from your playlist.

2. LET SOMEONE HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE

If you’re one of those people struggling to get out the door to do your workout in the first place, you can recruit a friend to come with you. You will be less likely to flake on that other person than you are to flake on yourself. And when you’re at the gym (or on your run), you will be more likely to have fun if you bring a friend along.

Or, if you’re someone who prefers not to work out with friends, just put yourself on the hook by paying for a class or a trainer so you have more incentive to go. One of the first things you should ask yourself is, what will make it more likely that I will do that workout to the end? For some people, investing money into their workouts upfront does that for them.

3. DEFINE A FINISH LINE

When you’re in the middle of your sprint or your high-intensity interval, and you notice that voice inside you is screaming at you to stop and relax for a second, that’s just your brain trying to cope with the energy demands of working at that particular pace. 

In order to calm down that voice that is begging you to quit, just give yourself an endpoint. 

Tell yourself something like: “You’ve only got three more reps to go,” or “You can do anything for 30 more seconds.” When you’re giving yourself a finish line to keep moving toward, you’re also helping your body understand that you’re not going to need to put out that much energy for much longer. 

4. FILL IN THAT MENTAL SPACE

Repetitive mantras or sayings can help you grit your way through those long, high-intensity intervals because they fill up the mental space. You should know this hack may be the most helpful if you’re doing repetitive cardio exercises such as cycling or running. 

You can basically count your steps or your pedal strokes, count to a specific number and start over, or repeat something positive in your brain like “go, go, go” to the rhythm of your steps (or you know, pedal strokes.) You’re basically distracting your brain, so it doesn’t think about stopping. You’re basically forcing something into that information processing part of your brain, so it doesn’t have time to process any negative thoughts. 

Try out these tips next time you’re hitting your HIIT intervals and see how much further you can get than usual.

Here’s Why Your Neck Position Is Vital During Weightlifting

male fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

One of the least talked about topics in all of male and female fitness is the position of your head and neck. And no wonder since they’re probably the last thing you think about when you’re lifting weights.

Most people who sit at computers or use smartphones all day have a less-than-ideal posture to begin with, and this can further carry over into our sweat sessions and cause some unexpected trouble.

Have you ever seen someone look up while they’re deadlifting? Or hunching forward while they’re doing cable flys?

Some physical therapists call this upper crossed syndrome. Think chin jutting forward and rounded shoulders. This posture comes from working on a computer, sitting at a desk, biking, gaming, driving, coding, and a lot of other activities that keep us in a fixed position for a long period of time. 

The muscle that basically brings the shoulders up and the neck forward is constantly tensed up, all while the muscles that pull the shoulders and neck back (and down) get stretched, causing a small muscular imbalance.

Even when we tend to stand up and get ourselves over to the gym, we sometimes tend to stay in this position. And our bodies always love to take the path of least resistance. When you are in proper alignment, holding this takes more effort and activation so people (especially those who have experienced some sort of muscular imbalances) will naturally drift toward that forward head position. 

HERE’S WHY NECK AND HEAD POSITION IS VITAL WHEN LIFTING WEIGHTS

When the head and neck are not in their proper alignment during exercise, your spine will be less stable, and your core will be unable to activate properly. This will ultimately lead to chronic pain and a greater risk of injury to your neck or lower back. 

While neck posture and forward head are problematic in pretty much all types of exercise, they are especially harmful when weightlifting. When you are adding additional load to your body, proper form will become even more important because you’re risking a lot more.

It’s not uncommon to see people overutilizing their small neck muscles to help lift the weight or to accomplish the current exercise. Most often, this will look like a person tipping their chin up while they are doing an exercise. If their neck is not properly supported by the trunk of the body, the neck muscles will overcompensate.

What’s more, this poor posture will lead to even worse posture in the future. It just creates an endless cycle unless you start taking action.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FIX YOUR POSTURE

You’re in luck – all it takes to fix this issue when you’re in the gym is some increased awareness. You can work with a trainer to correct this issue, and that would be ideal, but if you’re on your own, here’s what the experts recommend you try out:

Create a verbal cue for yourself. If you want to get your neck and head stacked over your shoulders, it may help to remind yourself of a very specific cue before and during your actual workouts. The most common cues include things such as ‘tuck your chin’ and “put your ears in line with your shoulders. Another great one is “feeling like you have a double chin.”

Create a spatial cue for yourself. If it’s not a verbal cue, you can try a visual one. A great starting cue is to imagine someone pulling a string from the top of your head as if you’re attempting to grow taller. This will help lengthen your neck and will ensure your chin isn’t jutting forward unnecessarily. 

Finally, try to get some external feedback. Always check your form in the mirror, or better yet, record a video of your form. When you’re doing an exercise such as the bench press, check where your head is at all times and exactly at which moments it’s touching the mat. If you are in proper alignment, the lower portion of the back of your head is going to touch, and there will only be a small space left under your neck. If the space under your neck is large or actually closer to the crown of your head, your chin may be up too far, and you’re probably out of alignment.

Simple Ways to Add More Fiber to your Day

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Fiber has been the unsung hero in creating sustainable diets, weight loss results, and lasting health. Not only does it keep our gut microbiome healthy, but it also removes waste from our bodies, helping us maintain our healthy weight. Higher consumption also tends to lead to a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and all types of cancer.

With all that being said, a large part of the population is still not getting in the required daily amounts of fiber even though fiber is in most healthy food options in local stores.  

That’s why today, we’ll be talking about how you can add extra fiber to your day and sneak in rich fiber sources that will fuel your diet and spark a healthy change in your entire diet and lifestyle.

First of all, what is fiber exactly?

Fiber is an indigestible carb. Fiber passes through your digestive tract relatively undigested and it’s only found in plant-based foods.  

Fiber comes in two types: soluble and insoluble. As a general rule of thumb, soluble fiber is found on the inside of the plant while insoluble fiber is usually found on the outside of the fruit. The skin of an apple has insoluble fiber, while the inside is mostly soluble. Fiber-rich foods are made of both types though the body uses them in different ways.

SOLUBLE FIBER basically dissolves in water just like other bodily fluids. As it moves through the digestive tract, it creates a gel-like substance and absorbs water. Once it reaches your colon, it’s fermented by bacteria and this produces short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, improving overall gut health and fueling your gut cells.

The benefits include lowering LDL and total blood cholesterol, stabilizing blood glucose levels, increasing fullness and delaying hunger, and improving immunity and gut health.

INSOLUBLE FIBER doesn’t dissolve in water – it absorbs it. While insoluble fiber is basically not fermented by the bacteria in the colon, it still has a massive positive effect on the body. 

How much fiber should you really be consuming?

The recommended intake for dietary fiber on a 2,000-calorie diet is about 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams for men. That said, while some people can easily handle that higher intake, others can manage on less.

So where do we find great sources of fiber we can easily include in our day?

If you’re looking for soluble fiber, you can try:

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Most beans
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Sweet potato
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Berries
  • Pears
  • Dried fruit
  • Apples 
  • Oats

Sources of insoluble fiber include beans and lentils, green peas, okra, corn, fruits with seeds, leafy greens like spinach, and most whole grains.

Here’s how to go about increasing your fiber intake:

To get your necessary daily intake of fiber, you don’t have to do all that much. But it can be hard on a busy schedule or you’re not eating many fruits or veggies throughout the day. 

Here are a few tips you can instantly use:

  • Add beans to your salads.
  • Eat fruits and veggies with their skin on (even potatoes.)
  • Sprinkle hemp or flex seeds onto your salads or in your soups.
  • Add chia seeds to your smoothies.
  • Replace pasta with bean-based or whole-wheat versions.
  • Bake using high-fiber flours. 
  • Choose breads, wraps, and rolls that have at least 5 grams of fiber in each serving.

The bottom line is…

Getting in your necessary daily dose of fiber can go a long way toward improving your overall health, lowering your risk of dangerous diseases, and keeping you satiated so you have an easier time achieving weight loss. 

A diet that’s rich in veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes is naturally high in fiber, and adopting this way of dieting can be one of the best ways to manage weight, stay full between meals, cut down your cravings, curb your appetite, and all while keeping your gut (and the rest of your body) as healthy as they can be.

Simple Tweaks that Push You Through Weight Loss Plateaus

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

So, you’ve stopped consuming soda and you haven’t eaten ice cream in months. Naturally, you’re seeing weight start to peel off. And you’re also going to the gym, burning off extra calories, and you’re seeing all your efforts paying off. 

But at some point, you notice results are starting to dwindle and you’re feeling stuck, uncertain of how to proceed. If that’s the case, then congratulations – you’ve hit a weight loss plateau. 

If you’re at a healthy weight but you’re still above your dream weight, you want to get rid of those pesky 5-10-15 pounds that are still lingering. And if you’re at a healthy weight, this might mean the weight you’re trying to reach is difficult to sustain. Your body usually likes to maintain a stable weight, also known as the set-point weight. While it can generally be adjusted, it will take you some time to get there. 

As you’re on the process of losing weight, you may be tempted to cut calories drastically or overtrain so you can shed pounds faster. This will only backfire since your muscle can also be used as energy, slowing down your metabolism so it spares energy. 

Whether you find yourself slightly above that natural set-point weight or you’re pressed to lose those final few pounds, here are a few ways you can instantly generate healthy adaptations necessary for you to shed more pounds and overcome a weight-loss plateau.

#1 FOCUS ON THE QUALITY OF YOUR FOOD

Busting through weight-loss plateau has proven to be more than just a game of calories in and calories out. Suddenly, processed foods no longer make the cut, making room for quality whole foods including veggies, beans, high-fiber fruits, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

#2 MAKE SURE YOU GOT YOUR NUMBERS RIGHT

Research has shown us that people sometimes overestimate how many calories they burn when they’re training and they underestimate how many calories they’re consuming. To better approximate your caloric needs, first find out how many calories your body is burning every day at rest by using a basal metabolic rate calculator. Use that as a benchmark to subtract the rough number of calories you burn through your training. And make sure you’re always wary of the little bites of food you take here and there. 

These calories DO count, and they tend to add up more quickly than you can imagine, even if they’re nowhere near your plate. Mindlessly munching on leftovers, reaching for midday snacks, or even taking a bite out of your friend’s pizza can all add up to invisible calories that you’re not counting in your weight loss equation.

#3 GET MORE QUALITY SLEEP

A full night’s sleep is an absolute necessity if you’re looking to get your weight in check since it’s so vital to your hormonal balance. Small amounts of sleep deprivation can lead to more hunger, increased cortisol, more body fat accumulation, sugar cravings, and more. 

#4 FOCUS ON INCREASING MUSCLE MASS

If you want to burn more calories at rest, increase the amount of muscle you have. Lift (progressively heavier) weights and follow a strength-training program and you’ll do wonders for your weight management. 

The more muscle you have, the more calories you’re burning just by sitting on your couch, and the more body fat you’re shedding. Not to mention, strength training workouts are also great for burning calories and they can run independent of your usual cardio efforts.

#5 GET MORE PROTEIN

Protein has the highest thermic effect of any food, meaning that consuming protein will burn the highest number of calories during digestion. But that’s just the smallest reason you’d want more protein in your diet.  It contains amino acids leucine, well-researched to be a powerful catalyst for burning body fat.

How to Set a SMART Goal for Your Walking Routine

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know walking for weight loss seems like a simple habit. It’s just about walking 30 minutes a day, on most days. Sounds easy, right? But anyone who has tried developing this habit knows that taking even one walk a day can be a challenge if you have a busy life. Furthermore, once you do establish walking as a daily habit, it can be one of the easiest things to skip on. 

If you’ve already hit that point where you’ve seen noticeable changes to your health and weight due to your walking routine, having a goal tied to your routine can be a massive boost to your motivation and can turn your walking into a form of training. 

Regular, daily exercise you’re getting with the purpose of becoming fit must have a goal attached to it – so let’s learn how to set a SMART goal for your walking routine. 

HOW TO SET A SMART GOAL 

Once you have the habit down and you’re able to dedicate about 30 minutes of your day solely to walking, let’s return to the golden standard of setting SMART goals.

This means the goals you set have to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Here’s how you’ll be able to use this framework with a walking routine goal. 

SPECIFIC: Decide what you’re aiming to achieve with your walking. Do you want to cover a certain distance each day, get your steps in for the day, or lose a specific amount of weight? You should try to make your goal as specific as possible, for example “walking at a 16-mile pace for 5 kilometers.”

MEASURABLE: Obviously, if your main goal is to lose weight, you might think measuring something such as the number on the scale will accurately measure your success, but that’s not always the case. Try to make your specific goal measurable, or measure it by how consistent you’re able to be with a specific behavior or activity.

ACHIEVABLE: If you’re just now starting from scratch, don’t think your best decision is going to be going into an all-out intense routine. A good goal is one that stretches beyond the abilities you currently possess, but it’s also one that you can imagine yourself achieving. 

If your first reaction to your goal is “I’ll never be able to do that”, then you will want to first try smaller goals along the way and gradually build up to higher intensities. Achievable also means you’ll be able to clearly see the steps you have to success, and those should all be things that are doable in your everyday life and sustainable given your lifestyle. 

RELEVANT: If your goal is to walk about 14 hours a week, you might think that’s impossible on a full-time job or a busy schedule that includes kids, work, hobbies, responsibilities, and more. Many of us naturally fall into the trap of choosing a fitness goal that feels good, but doesn’t come naturally to us given the lifestyle we have. Ask yourself – do you have the ability and capacity to train for the goal you’ve set? 

TIME-BOUND: You can always set a “date to do X by” or you can look for something with a little more significance. For someone who prefers a serious deadline, you might want to consider booking something that forces you to be in your top walking shape and just work back from that date. This could be a long tour of the city that’s preferably self-guided or a long hike somewhere in the mountains. Whatever it is, get a friend with you and write it down on the calendar for extra accountability.  

Once you have your SMART goal in your mind, you can begin to plan your walks based on the goal you’ve set. Once you have your date-based goals set, look at the smalls steps you have to take to achieve them. 

If it’s going to take you 4 hours to cover 12 miles, you now have your goal distance and time in mind. And always consider your terrain – tough hikes take much, much longer than you initially think they will. From there, think about how you should be training for that terrain. Maybe this includes doing extra walks or walking longer distances on the weekends.

How to Replace Dieting with Lasting, Healthy Changes

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Anyone who is trying to or has tried to lose weight at some point understands the notion that diets don’t work. In fact, it’s increasingly becoming common knowledge.

That being said, diets and fads are still everywhere, promising us that we’ll achieve X if we do Y for a Z time period. They make bogus health claims, but people still rush to them hoping to achieve an Instagram body, a six-pack, or whatever that diet has promised them.

Any dieter has that breaking point in which they realize just how much diets are negatively affecting their quality of life.

If you’re in that position and you’re finally ready to break from the vicious dieting cycle, here are a few ways you can approach this.

The problem isn’t in you, it’s in the dieting mindset.

Dieters are often led to believe that they’re doing something wrong when their diet ends up not working for them. Or that they’re “lacking willpower” for not being able to stick to a diet. This isn’t because you’re a failure or you don’t have enough motivation, it’s because diets are not designed to work. They’re designed to have people coming back to them. 

Weight is just an arbitrary number that will naturally fluctuate from day to day. Throughout your life, you can always try to manage, increase, or decrease your weight, but that doesn’t always equate to health-promoting changes. Weight isn’t the most accurate predictor of your performance or your health for that matter, so keep that in mind and make sure to not obsess over the number on the scale.

What you should be doing is identifying the health-promoting behaviors that are pushing your weight in the direction you want it to go.

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s always better to focus on what you can do to add to your quality of life instead of what you shouldn’t be doing or eating. When you’re using negative terms such as “avoid” or “don’t eat this past X o’clock” this will only end up backfiring on your health. 

Instead, you should focus on positive, health-promoting behavior changes, though those are different for everyone. One person might enjoy learning to cook at home, one person might fall in love with an early morning running habit, or some people might decide to start hitting the gym.

 Whatever it is – cooking at home, trying new veggies every week, trying new recipes, training, jogging, taking long walks, focus on the small behaviors you can add to your life to push yourself toward a healthier lifestyle. 

How should you measure success… without a scale?

Using the scale as a measure of progress doesn’t really make sense because that number is arbitrary, though it could be a good pointer. There are many other ways you can test yourself and see how you’re performing on a variety of parameters. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Your ability to run up stairs carrying a full laundry basket. 
  • Your ability to play on the floor with your children. 
  • You no longer require medication for certain conditions.
  • You don’t feel so out of breath when running. 
  • You ran a 10K.
  • Your cholesterol is in a healthier range.
  • You can eat ice cream without feeling guilt.
  • You know more than five ways to cook enjoyable meals with veggies.
  • You eat carbs on every meal instead of depriving yourself.
  • The possibilities here are endless. 

The bottom line is…

Dieting does not necessarily equal health. In fact, more often than not, it doesn’t. But creating small, sustainable changes in our everyday lives can help us develop the long-term changes necessary to achieve a healthier body and lifestyle. 

The smaller the change, the easier it is to implement and sustain, and while diets will often have you sacrificing entire food groups or running mile after mile at the gym, the result you want to achieve will be much more achievable (and you’ll actually be able to sustain it) if you don’t take the diet route and instead focus on the small, incremental changes that, in the long run, lead to a better, healthier lifestyle.

Achieving Weight Loss in the Busy Autumn Season

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Around this time of year, many of us have to deal with a change in our schedules – whether it’s getting the kids to school, moving to a new city, starting a new job, or just wanting a fresh start after Labor Day, the chances are you’re going to have to deal with a few tweaks from our usual summer routine.

The fall is a great time to take a step back and examine your health goals, where you were when summer started, and how you’re going to go into the winter season to ensure you’re staying healthy and active.

No matter what your current lifestyle is or how you’re planning on approaching the new season, here are a few tips on how you can adjust your goals to this changing of seasons.

STEP #1 PUT A NEW EMPHASIS ON MEAL PREP

Those easy summer dinners on the grill every Saturday start slowing down once the colder months come in. Healthy eating generally takes a little planning and preparation as your schedule (and that of your family) tends to pick up. 

Every weekend, take a few minutes to schedule what you’re going to be eating throughout the next week and make sure you always have something prepped and ready for when you’re going to work, when the kids get home from school, and just whenever you find it convenient. Weekends are also a great time to meal prep, roast veggies, make grains for grain bowls, or make a big batch of meals you can heat up throughout the week.

STEP #2 RETHINK YOUR DAILY MOVEMENT

If you no longer have time to get up early in the morning and go for a run, that’s okay! There are other ways you can get in the enjoyable movement your day needs. A few small increments of movement – even 5-10 minutes – will have a lasting positive effect on your health and your body when spread throughout the day.

Set a reminder in your phone every few hours so you get up and get a little movement in. Lunchtime activity can also do wonders for our digestion if you head out for a 10-15 minute stroll after eating. And if you’re one of the people who love yoga or go for runs a few times a week, identify the gaps in your new schedule that will allow you to still do them.

STEP #3 NEVER FORGET YOUR “ME” TIME

Once fall gets into its full swing, people who are generally busy might be tempted to eschew their “me time” in favor of other responsibilities and obligations they have, such as their work, family, their social life, and more. But over this, this can be mentally and physically exhausting. 

If you’re not making time for yourself, make it a must to add it to your calendar. Just like you would an important meeting. Do the same necessary planning that it takes in order for it to happen because it is just as important. What you choose to do during your free time is entirely up to you, and it can depend on what mood you’re in or what you need in any given moment. 

Sometimes, it might be an all-out sweat session in the gym. Sometimes, it might be meeting with a friend over coffee. Whatever it is, remember the busier and more stressful your schedule is, the more time you need to take off and relax.

The bottom line is…

As the fall season rolls around, you have to start giving yourself some grace as you start fitting into a new schedule. Especially if this adds more stress to your life. While there is no one right way to exercise, be mindful and practice self-care, or nourish your body, it’s all about finding what works best for you in a particular moment and then using it to make progress toward your health and fitness goals.

It might take you some time to adjust, but reevaluating your health goals, staying active, and taking time to cool off should be the cornerstones of a healthy transition into a new, busier schedule.

The Ultimate Guide to Lunges

male fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether you’re jogging, running, kicking, jumping, or just doing any kind of activity at all, lunges should be an instant add to any male or female fitness program.

The lunge is one of the gold standards in lower-body movements that maps directly to walking and running movement patterns while helping you develop extra mobility and strength in your quads, hamstrings, glutes, your back, your core, and countless stabilizer muscles. It also helps you improve your balance, coordination, as well as unilateral (one-side) strength. 

The bottom line is, it’s one of the most functional exercises you can do.

And that’s exactly why there are a bazillion ways to do it, to progress it, change it, modify it, and add extra load. But that also means that are just as many potential wrong ways to do it. 

Today, we’re here to provide you with a lunge checklist – while still focusing on the basics, you’ll be able to learn how to use the lunge strategically and use variations of this exercise to achieve specific benefits.

Before you start, here are all the fundamentals of a good lunge:

  • Maintain your posture tall and upright throughout the entire movement.
  • Engage your core throughout the movement. 
  • Lower your body in a slow and controlled manner.
  • Bend your knees to 90 degrees.
  • Your front knee should basically track over your 
  • Control the movement with your hips, knees, and your ankles. 

HOW TO PERFECT YOUR LUNGE:

When it comes to doing a proper lunge, the trickiest part is getting the correct position and maintaining the exact same alignment throughout your movement. To develop the correct lunge form, try a split squat – or a stationary lunge – starting at the ground up.

How to do a split squat:

Start in the half-kneeling position on a floor or a mat. Both your knees should already be bent to 90 degrees and your legs should be about shoulder-width apart. While you’re maintaining a tall, upright posture, you’ll press into both feet and straighten both your legs. Continue this movement by coming to a stand without hinging at your hips and repeat this movement.

ADDING TO YOUR LUNGES

#1 THE WALKING LUNGE

If you’ve already established perfect foot placement and movement patterns in your lunges, you can now begin to fine-tune them using different variations and ways of adding load to the exercise.

When you’ve mastered the mechanics of proper lunges, your first step towards progress should be to do a more functional movement that incorporates walking. In other words, the walking lunge. 

Here’s how to do a walking lunge:

Begin with your feet at shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips or down by your sides. Step with your foot forward, landing in the same position that you otherwise would if you were to do a normal lunge. Lower your left knee until it’s just above the ground. As you usually would, press through with both feet and straighten both legs. Then from an upright position, step with your other foot forward, repeating the process on the other side. 

Pro tip: Don’t walk like you would on a balance beam. You can freely place your feet in a staggered line. 

#2 THE CURTSY LUNGE

How to do the curtsy lunge: 

Begin by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your arms hanging at your sides. Step your left leg behind and outside the right leg. Bend both your knees, lower straight down with an upright posture, and keep your left knee aligned with the middle left toes. When your left thigh is reaching parallel with the floor, then press through both feet and return to your starting position. Repeat on the right side.

#3 THE LOADED LUNGE

The final step in your lunge-learning journey is going to be adding external resistance to your lunges. This is not a necessary step if you’re someone who is not interested in training with weights – if you’re just looking to do bodyweight lunges, that’s fine. 

Choose a weight that can challenge you yet allows you to maintain your perfect form (including the bending of your knees, keeping your foot aligned with your toes, and keeping your body straight and upright. Adding this resistance will help you turn this functional movement into a strength-builder that targets all your leg muscles.

How to Make Your Meals and Snacks More Filling

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Everyone knows that the key to proper nutrition and optimal energy levels are the satisfying meals and snacks that keep our blood sugar steady. 

In the weight loss community, a lot of people who first try to lose weight will make the mistake of eating diet-culture-approved snacks and meals that lack the vital nutrients necessary to create positive change in the body. 

And one of the first things to learn in this situation is that each nutrient can actually be used with a specific purpose and can be made to work for you instead of against you. 

Instead of avoiding certain nutrients, we should actually strive to create the right balance of nutrients inside our bodies via wholesome, filling, nutritious meals. 

Today, we’re here to explore some tips for making the most out of your meals by learning how to use nutrients strategically to tailor your meals to your body’s needs and stay full for longer.

LET’S TALK ABOUT FAT

Fat takes the longest time for our bodies to digest. This also means it helps you stay fuller for longer after your meals. Healthy fat also keeps your blood sugar steady, keeping you away from the cycle of spikes and drops that can zap your energy levels and make you hungry all the time. 

By adding fat sources to your meal, you’re not only reaping the benefits of longer-lasting satiety and blood sugar balance, but you’re also improving the taste of your meal. 

You can try roasting veggies in olive oil or just using it as a salad dressing base. You can also try sandwiches with avocado instead of mayo, or nuts, seeds, and grain bowls, peanut butter, pieces of cheese with fruit, the possibilities are endless! 

WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN?

Protein also plays an important role in satiety and it takes some time for the body to digest it. 

Low-protein meals and snacks are usually not that filling, yet that’s an easy problem to fix since there are countless great protein sources you can get. If you’re looking for protein-rich meat, you can go with chicken, fatty fish like salmon or tuna, turkey, grass-fed beef, eggs, and more. Plant-based options such as hemp and chia seeds, tempeh, tofu, and quinoa and oats are also rich protein sources. 

To boost the protein content of your meals, you can try adding Greek yoghurt, edamame, or just adding hard-boiled eggs (or egg whites) to your side.

CARBS (AND FIBER)

Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body can’t completely digest. This also works to slow your digestion and keep your blood sugar steady. A lot of fibers are basically fermented in the large intestine and they contribute to the production of healthy gut bacteria. 

Meals rich in fiber keep you fuller for longer, and they’re very easy to make since they’re abundant in plants. Veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, all of them are rich fiber sources that keep you satisfied for extended periods of time. 

On the other hand, sources of both simple and complex carbs are vital to a balanced diet, so don’t skip on your rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, and other whole grains. They’ll all provide your body with the necessary resources it needs to stay energized, reduce cravings for sweets, and promote meal satisfaction. 

THE GOLDEN RULE OF SNACKING

If you’re looking for a simple way to include all these foods in your diet, use the rule of twos – for every snack you have, make sure you’re getting in at least two of the three nutrients listed above. They’re filling along, but they’re more filling (and even more satisfying) when they’re consumed together.

  • Some great examples:
  • Greek yoghurt with berries
  • Bananas with almond butter
  • Sliced apple with walnuts
  • Hard-boiled eggs with whole-grain toast
  • Whole-grain crackers and peanut butter
  • Pita chips with avocado

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER…

All you need to create a satisfying meal or snack is two out of the three main nutrient groups. With a few tweaks and planning, you can quickly create meals and snacks that keep you full for a long period of time and keep your energy levels steady throughout the day. 

Instead of thinking about what nutrients you need to restrict from your diet to achieve a certain goal, focus on what you can add to your diet (and when you can add it) so you stay satiated, full of energy, and still progressing toward your goal. 

Nutritious, Protein-rich Foods that Go Beyond Red Meat

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

With high-fat and high-protein diets pretty much always being popular, it may seem like you have complete freedom to always load up on red meat. That being said, regardless of what type of eating plan you’re following, red meat is still very high in saturated fat when compared to leaner cuts and other sources of protein altogether. 

With most experts agreeing that saturated fat intake increases the risk of heart disease, among other issues, it’s no secret to anyone that we should be making an effort to minimize our consumption of red meat and focus on acquiring protein from leaner sources.

For that exact reason, it’s smart that we make leaner proteins our mainstay. Most people consider red meat to be something they can eat freely, when in reality, people shouldn’t be eating red meat any more than 2 times a week. 

Instead, let’s take a look at some other options we have and what protein sources we can focus on that will also help us feel full, build muscle, and lose weight:

#1 LEAN CHICKEN

No surprises here, chicken is the lean meat protein source most athletes and regular gym-goers go for when they’re trying to get in more protein. Chicken is low in calories, low in saturated fat (as long as you avoid the skin,) and contains up to 31 grams of protein for a 3.5-ounce serving. 

When compared to red meat, for instance, a top round cut, it will tend to bring in about 70 percent of the calories for the same amount of protein.

#2 SHRIMP

A similar serving of shrimp, about 3.5 ounces, offers about 20 grams of protein on average with just one gram of fat and a whopping 93 calories. 

When you’re grocery shopping for shrimp, try to look for shrimp that’s farmed in the U.S., which was rated as the best choice in terms of the natural sustainability.

#3 SARDINES

Sardines are small fish that are often overlooked but they pack a massive punch when it comes to their flavor and their protein. You can buy them fresh, throw them on the grill, or pick them up in a can, which you’ll often find in flavors like olive oil and lemon if you’re not sure about the taste. 

One can comes with around 25 grams of protein. And with sardines being oily fish, they are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You can eat them for lunch just like you would in a tuna salad and charge yourself up with healthy protein and fat for the rest of the day.

#4 TEMPEH

When it comes to soy proteins, you are probably already familiar with tofu. Tempeh, on the other hand, is made from fermented, cooked soybeans. 

It’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that create proteins. A 3.5-ounce serving comes with about 20 grams of protein and it actually works as a great substitute for meat in sandwiches.

#5 COTTAGE CHEESE

Countless people start opting for Greek yogurt when they’re looking for dairy that’s high in protein. But cottage cheese is another awesome choice. One cup brings in about 24 grams of protein, but just make sure you skip the 0 percent fat and go for 2 percent. 

This will add more taste and satiety. You can pretty much minimize added sugar by just looking for unsweetened versions and then adding in your own toppings such as nut butter or fruit.

#6 PEA PROTEIN POWDER

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian and you’re looking for non-animal options, pea protein is a pretty great source of protein you can use in smoothies. 

Made from yellow peas, just one serving of pea protein comes with about 25 grams of protein, zero saturated fat, and it’s also a great source of iron (up to 35 percent of your daily requirement.)

#7 CHIA SEEDS

With just one tablespoon of chia seeds, you’ll get in about 2g of protein. They can be used in breakfasts, sprinkled on top of soups or salads, or just as healthy, protein-abundant desserts. They also work great to replace eggs in vegan cooking because they’re hydrophilic and they’ll expand when soaked in water for about 15-20 minutes.

How to Level Up Your Walking Routine for More Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you’ve ever tried walking for weight loss, you may have noticed a few potential fitness stations throughout your walking route. And something similar happens to most people who start gaining momentum with any kind of low-effort fitness activity… they started instinctively wanting to up the pace.

Adding various new cardio and strength-based movements to your walk will up the ante a little bit and can potentially help you improve your overall fitness much faster or lose more calories. 

And with the Fall season approaching, we’ve decided to explore some bodyweight exercises you can add to your current walk to do exactly that. They don’t require equipment and you can do them throughout your walk, for a few total sets over the course of the walk.

Let’s dive right in.

#1 WALKING LUNGES

Walking lunges are subtle strength-training exercises you can fit into your walk without having to worry about turning heads or looking silly. Rather than taking your normal step forward, extend your stride and take a big step forward with your hands on your hips. Then lower yourself into a lunge by bending both your knees. 

Push through with your feet and take a big step forward with your other foot, repeating the lunging process. Do about ten on each side for each set, and you’re golden!

#2 MOUNTAIN POSES

You might say a boring stand-in-place posture won’t really do much for your fitness, but the mountain pose is actually an important precursor to planks and pushups. Stand with your feet at hip distance apart and your arms straight down at your sides. Then pull your shoulders back and down and try to maintain a straight posture for as long as possible. For most people, doing this alone feels challenging! 

From this position, just keep your gaze fixed straight ahead and activate your core (pretend like someone is about to punch you in the abs and you’re bracing yourself for it.) Hold this position for 30 seconds and release.

#3 CALF RAISES

Calf raises are the most subtle exercise you can include to your walk yet they’re an effective way to work on your ankle mobility and put some load on your calf muscles. Just find a stable, level surface and slowly rise up on your toes, followed by slowly lowering back down. Imagine that mountain pose again and activate your core while you’re performing this for the highest impact. You should aim for about 15-20 reps, with all of them being slow and controlled. 

Level up this exercise: find a curb or stair to do calf raises on and put the ball of your foot on the stair. Allow your heel to then drop below the stair’s level as you’re coming down from the calf raise rep. This will give you the ability to go deeper into the ankle stretch and work your calves with more intensity.

#4 JUMP ROPE 

One of the best ways to get your heart rate up is to add a few jumps to your workout. The best thing about jump rope is that it’s a very small movement and most people won’t even notice you’re doing it. In this case, you’re pretending that you’re jumping rope and bouncing on your toes while jumping about an inch off the ground for every rep. 

If you’re someone who works in an office or at a computer and you’re experiencing wrist tightness, you can add the wrist twirl movement you’d usually do when jumping rope. Aim for 50-100 repetitions.

If you do decide to bring along a rope on your next walk and take a few minutes to use it, you can pretty much turn your walk into one of the most effective fat-burning HIIT sessions out there (with intervals of rope jumping followed by slow strolls.)

#5 RUN UP STAIRS

Flights of stairs can not only add another intense cardio element into your workout, but they’re also amazing for your glutes and quads. Most walkers usually try to avoid stairs and hills, but experienced walkers embrace them – they’re a challenge that the muscle isn’t used to so why not leverage them? No pun intended. 

Try adding some spring and speed up your running up stairs as much as possible. If your route has 2-3 long flights of stairs, you can do a few sets and build up the intensity.

Here’s How Weight Loss Changes Your Brain

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Everywhere you look in the weight loss community, you see health and fitness professionals put emphasis on how excess weight changes our bodies. Not just related to the way we look, but also in terms of the cardiovascular effects, insulin resistance, bone and joint health, metabolic syndrome, and other problems. 

But just like it has an effect on all of these things, excess weight (and losing it) has effects on the brain.

For example, studies have suggested that there’s a link between diabetes, depression, hypertension, inflammation, and all of them each combine to raise the risk of cognitive problems with these problems continuing into adulthood. 

But does that mean losing weight will make you smarter or more mentally acute?

The truth is, it’s complicated. There are even a few temporary brain changes that happen during the weight loss process that won’t feel beneficial at all. That being said, it’s helpful that we’re aware of how much weight loss plays a role in the ways our brain operates and we’re able to recognize the importance of the connection between our brain and our body.  

Let’s take a brief look behind the process our bodies go through when they lose weight and identify which aspects have to do with changes to our brain…

#1 GOING INTO SABOTAGE MODE

In one study, researchers examined participants who lost about 10 percent of their bodyweight, and what they found was that they had less leptin before losing the weight. 

Leptin is a hormone that signals satiety and prompts you to stop eating. When you have lower total fat, these cells shrink down since leptin is released by fat cells. This signals an energy deficiency to the brain. Your brain’s natural response to this is to ramp up your calorie intake, making you crave food high in calories.  

When this happens, here’s one thing you should know… get more sleep.

Sleep balances your leptin levels. With sleep, exercise, stress reduction, and a reduced sugar intake, you can get your hormones on track for weight loss success. 

#2 LOWER OVERALL BRAIN VOLUME

In one more recent study, researchers found that excess body fat was linked to a lower overall brain volume, a potential precursor to age-related cognitive issues. The study found that the higher the amount of weight participants carried in their midsections, the more pronounced this effect became.

They theorized that this may be because belly fat produces cytokines, small proteins that are involved in cell signaling which, when too abundant, can actually start to become inflammatory. When this happens, it can have a massive negative effect on various types of neurotransmitters, lowering overall brain volume.  

If you’re actually losing weight because you’re adding new cardiovascular exercises to your routine, you should know that this increases brain volume, as well. Especially when it comes to high-intensity activity. 

Higher brain volume is generally associated with problem-solving and information processing, and prevalent in these studies was the increase in the size of the hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for learning and memory. 

#3 YOUR BRAIN GETS TUNED UP

In one study done on women who lost weight as a result of surgery, researchers found that participants did better on certain executive function tests compared to the performance on the same tests before their surgery. They were literally more adept at strategizing, organizing, and planning even though they lost the weight through surgery. 

The results were potentially related to the way women metabolize sugar at a higher rate in their brains than those who are at a lower weight. Once they lost weight after the surgery, the participants’ brain metabolism rates had shifted to a lower level.

The bottom line is…

The mechanisms involved in the way your brain-body connection works can be complex, but one thing is definitely clear: losing weight does affect the structure of your brain, and it does so rather positively.

Losing excess fat will likely result in lowering your risk of chronic and cognitive disorders, as well as allow your body to become more efficient and metabolizing sugar, giving you the ability to process information more efficiently.

3 Ways to Maintain Muscle While Losing Weight

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

In general terms, weight loss is a good thing. As noted by the CDC, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight can lower your blood pressure, your blood sugar, and your bad cholesterol.

That being said, the one downside of weight loss is that if often comes with losing muscle tissue – which will not only burn more calories at rest than fat which makes it useful in its own right, but it also gives the body its shape and functional abilities. When you cut weight, about 20 to 30 percent of the weight you lose will come from muscle, according to research. 

That being said, unless you take steps to prevent losing muscle. Here’s what you can do if you want to hold onto the muscle tissue you have right now:

#1 CONSUME MORE PROTEIN

One of the most basic things you should do if you’re trying to lose more fat without losing your existing muscle is to increase your protein intake.

According to a paper from the ISSN, increasing your protein intake from the average recommendation of 0.8 grams to anywhere between 1.2 and 2.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, while also restricting your calories by up to 30 percent, will allow you to maximize fat loss while maintaining existing muscle mass.

To give an example, a 185-pound male who consumes about 150-200 grams of protein every day can theoretically maintain muscle mass even when cutting his overall caloric intake by 30%. To get your protein range in grams, divide your bodyweight by 2.2 to get your weight in kilos, then multiply by 2. 

How should you go about increasing your intake of protein?

As with all other macronutrients, you will want to look to sources that are whole foods, and you can even turn to protein supplements if you’re experiencing trouble meeting your daily needs. That being said, protein supplementation should be used only in diets that are fundamentally sound. Even though they aren’t any better than creating a muscle-building response than other protein sources that have a similar amino acid profile, they may be more practical for people who struggle to get in enough protein. 

Whole-food sources of protein include nuts, beans, Greek yogurt, eggs, seeds, cottage cheese, lentils, seafood, meat, and more.

#2 ADD RESISTANCE TRAINING

In addition to increasing your daily intake of protein, adding strength training exercises to your routine can help you maintain muscle while you’re shedding fat.

Weight training is crucial to overall health and there’s plenty of evidence supporting the notion that it can help you preserve muscle while you’re dieting.

Resistance training breaks down your muscles, stimulating a process known as muscle protein synthesis that repairs broken tissues. Provided you have enough protein available, this repair will help your muscles grow back stronger.

Recent reviews have revealed that strength training can help elderly people and obese people maintain muscle while they’re following calorie-restricted diets while they’re losing the same amount of fat as those who didn’t do any strength training.

If you’re a beginner in strength training, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you start with 2 or 3 sessions a week. After six months of consistent training, you’ll have the option to add more weekly sessions. In those first few sessions, all you should prioritize are squads, chest presses, deadlifts, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses – the fundamentals.

#3 DON’T DO TOO MUCH CARDIO

Cardio exercises such as swimming, running, and cycling can indeed help you lose fat when combined with a healthy diet. 

Not to mention, cardiovascular activity also offers a variety of other health benefits that make it all the more worth your time. For example, running has been shown to lower your risk of death from heart disease by 45 percent.  

That being said, you shouldn’t take cardio to the extreme all in the hopes of shedding fat. Many folks to all in cardiovascular training and losing weight by drastically cutting calories and running mile after mile which is stressing on the body and rather counterproductive.

Instead of running yourself silly and risking all your muscle in the process, just stick to a combined routine of cardio and strength training. And with HIIT being a potential one-size-fits-all solution, it’s safe to say you have plenty of options when it comes to exercises you can do if you want to preserve your muscle while still shedding away fat.

The Crucial Role Resistant Starch Plays in Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ve probably heard it would be useful to consume more oats, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, bananas, and other filling carb sources. But do you know what all these foods have in common? They’re all high in resistant starch, a type of prebiotic fiber that has been shown to reduce abdominal fat, aid weight loss, and slow digestion. 

Resistant starch is one starch type that does not get completely digested while in your digestive tract, hence the name “resistant” starch, as in resistant to digestion. Starch that’s resistant ferments in the large intestine and feeds the healthy bacteria in our colon.

Resistant starch plays a very important role in weight loss as it can be a powerful tool to promote reductions in abdominal fat, as well as the ability of starch-rich foods to keep you fuller for a long period of time.

In case you were looking for more reasons to add resistant starch-rich foods to your diet, we’ve broken down the four most important science-backed ways resistant starch helps us lose weight. 

#1 IMPROVES YOUR INSULIN SENSITIVITY

The more well-optimized your insulin sensitivity, the more efficiently your body is going to use insulin, and this will lower your blood sugar after meals. Weight loss will boost your insulin sensitivity and research shows resistant starch helps with that.

Overweight or obese people who consume up to 15 grams of resistant starch per day experienced lower fasting insulin, fasting glucose, and better insulin sensitivity, according to a 2019 research published in the journal Nature.

#2 BOOSTS YOUR SATIETY

When foods are high in resistant starch, they linger a little bit longer in your system. Resistant starch will not only help fill you up, so you consume less at every meal, but research has also shown that consuming up to 30 grams of resistant starch every day (which is about 1 cup of oats, brown rice, or one green banana) for up to six weeks helped reduce the hunger hormones of overweight adults, reduced mindless snacking, and helped them lose more weight.

#3 IT’S A FAT BURNER

Replacing a part of the carbs in your diet with resistant starch will actually increase fat burning by up to 30 percent. That’s why University of Colorado researchers found out in their 2004 study. In a few animal studies, consuming more resistant starch was associated with a reduction of abdominal fat and an increase in the oxidation of fat.

#4 PROMOTES HEALTHY GUT BACTERIA

Resistant starch functions as a powerful prebiotic fiber that provides energy to the good bacteria in our colon, improving our metabolism and digestive health. 

Research has even shown that consuming up to 100 grams of resistant starch every day will have a massive positive impact on our gut microbiome, as well as improve our glucose metabolism and help us cut down abdominal fat.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS…

Despite all the known benefits of a diet high in resistant starch, the average American still consumes fewer than 20 grams of starch every day. 

If you are looking for dietary tweaks you can make that are going to make a significant difference in the amount of fat you lose around your belly, the amount of energy you have throughout the day, and the number of pounds you shed overall, one tweak you can make is to just tailor your diet around foods high in resistant starch. This will allow you to stay fuller for longer periods of time and avoid sugar cravings by keeping blood sugar levels balanced. 

You can skyrocket your intake by adding more whole foods such as rice, potatoes, oats, bananas, konjac noodles, green banana flour, and more. Just remember to slowly and gradually bump up your intake of resistant starch to give your body time to adjust to the new resources you’re providing it with. Eating too much at once may cause some bloating and GI discomfort, so make sure to consume plenty of water when you start increasing your intake of resistant starch.

How Running Impacts your Bone Health

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

In the world of male and female fitness, when people imagine a “runner”, you get one of two basic stereotypes. 

You either get the runner who is super fit, in optimal health, and looks unstoppable – someone who is going to be racing marathons in their 80s. 

Or you get the second stereotype: the person who is constantly trying to manage pain, injuries like stress fractures, and struggling to add more miles and go further than they did the month before.

And do you know what the difference between those two people is?

Bone density.

Depending on your lifestyle, training, and diet, you may actually be setting yourself up for a life in which running makes your bones stronger… and you could be setting yourself up for a life with issues such as osteopenia in the far future.

So how should we optimize our running and training? How should we go about creating our running routine, so we’re not damaging our future and instead building a solid foundation that helps us grow our bone density and become better, stronger runners?

The first and most important element is consistency.

Running technically counts as a weight-bearing activity which is, in its own right, good for bone health. Even if you were to just run one minute every day, you would still reap health benefits and that’s actually proven. 

When you’re putting a load on your bones you’re essentially improving them and remodeling them. Unlike, let’s say, a cyclist or a swimmer, a runner is performing an endurance activity that is also load-bearing. With every single step, you’re actually delivering force through your legs as your weight is hitting the ground. According to studies, running is actually on par with weight training when it comes to helping you develop bone density. If you’re a trail runner who is constantly jumping over roots and rocks, you have an even bigger advantage since the added plyometrics can further help improve bone density. But that doesn’t mean you should be skipping your strength training.  

The second element is performing weight-bearing activities.

As you’re getting older, strength training is absolutely crucial for increasing bone density. This doesn’t mean you have to head to the gym and do reps with massive weights without a clear plan. Lifting weights, or doing things such as bodyweight exercises, is a good way for runners to add extra intensity to their routines. 

But runners must make an extra effort to ensure they’re performing weight-bearing exercises with perfect form. If you don’t feel ready to start stacking a weight bar, grab some resistance bands and start building a foundation you can use to grow stronger later on.

The third element is perfecting your run form.

If you’re a runner, you have to take steps toward strengthening your hips and glutes. Making these muscles stronger is key to perfecting your run form and ensuring better mileage. If you’re working with a certified PT, you have to make sure you’re prioritizing your obliques and hip abductors so you’re more stable during runs. 

As you’re getting fatigued, you naturally start running differently and this can stress the body in a variety of ways, causing stress fractures or other issues. Fatigue is another great reminder that you might be reaching into overtraining territory. Which brings us to our final point… 

The fourth element is making sure you’re not overtraining.

This is especially vital for runners since the correct volume to achieve optimal bone density is unknown and too much running can cause wear and tear on your joints. 

Everybody has a different balance point between enough training and too much training, where doing too much would be counterproductive toward the goal. If you’re overtraining, like a lot of runners do, while also undereating, like a lot of runners do, you can compromise your bone health instead of improving it. 

You might be led to believe that the majority of stress fractures and overtraining occur in high-level runners, but the exact opposite is true. If you want to avoid stress fractures and guarantee good health while also reaping the benefits of your running routine, you have to give your body adequate rest. 

There’s no way around it. When it comes to running, never push through pain and never keep running if you experience pain.

Let’s Talk About Running, Walking, and Knee Health

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

I’m sure you’ve heard someone tell you that running, be it for weight loss or just regular jogging, is definitely “bad for your knees.” And sometimes, you might have even experienced short-term twinges of pain in your knees or right after you’ve had a long jog. 

But the latest research out there actually points toward the opposite – developing a running and walking routine could be very beneficial to your knee cartilage, helping keep you mobile and healthy as you’re aging. 

On the one hand, it looks a little paradoxical. When you measure the impact that running has on the body, it’s easy to see that your knees are taking a pounding by basically absorbing up to three times of the individual’s body weight with each step.

That being said, running has been long known for strengthening your bones, and other decade-long studies have found it is not associated with an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. 

To learn more about this, researchers over at the University of Maryland used strategies such as gait analysis and musculoskeletal modeling to analyze the impact running has on the knee cartilages. 

They wanted to find out whether or not cartilage withstands the stress induced by running and actually adapts to it rather than wearing them down (which often happens in a variety of animals.) 

What they did was bring together 22 otherwise healthy participants and had them run and walk while the researchers are gathering data on gait, the force applied with footfall, and knee mechanics. 

Finally, they created a computer model to predict what would happen to a healthy knee cartilage over an extended period of time if it experienced the natural stressors caused by running.

They’ve discovered that, if cartilage breaks down without the adequate time to repair itself in between sessions of running, it can ultimately lead to wear and tear on the knees. In the model, people who walked daily had a 1/3 chance to develop arthritis by their mid-50s, while daily runners had a 98 percent change of eventually developing arthritis. 

Those numbers are pretty scary, but here’s the good news.

When the researchers started factoring in the natural ability of the knees to repair themselves and create thicker, stronger cartilage, the incidence for both groups fell to just about 13 percent which is way more consistent with what we’re seeing out in the real world. 

Not to say that knee pain isn’t an adequate and legitimate concern, but several structural problems can lead to pain, including something like “runner’s knee.” This is an issue in which the patella moves out of alignment, causing stress and irritation on the cartilage. 

Another issue is patellar tendinitis, also known as “jumper’s knee” – it’s basically an injury to one of the tendons that connect your shinbone to your kneecap. 

You then have IT band syndrome, which occurs when you have a tight iliotibial band that squeezes a fluid-filled sac between the band and the exterior of the knee.

That being said, all of these are short-term injuries. 

Long-term damage due to something like osteoarthritis could potentially be reduced significantly by the cartilage’s natural ability to repair and adapt to stress and damage. 

In the study done by the University of Maryland, researchers noted that running lead to the accumulation of a great deal of damage per unit of distance traveled. This means the knees have to respond and adapt to extend their shelf life but determining the exact amount of volume needed was a more difficult task.

Since runners actually do not have a higher incidence of developing knee osteoarthritis than people who don’t make a habit out of running, research has concluded that running doesn’t tend to wear out the joint’s cartilage. 

This is great news for walkers, runners, and cardio-lovers. If you’re someone who likes to jog mile after mile and you love the benefits it gives you, keep it up – there are countless health and fitness benefits that come with running and they definitely outweigh the small risk you’re putting your joints at.  Same with walking routines.

If you have a running or walking routine and you’re experiencing any pain in the knees or joints, you might want to consult an expert. Depending on your situation, you might need to take a break from your routine, or you might actually be making your knees better and stronger.

Should You Do a Sugar Detox?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether you’ve already realized it and you’re aware of the problem, or you’ve never even thought about addressing it, the fact is a lot of people nowadays (even those trying to achieve weight loss) are addicted to sugar. And why wouldn’t they be – it’s everywhere!

Even though added sugars are in almost all the food we consume, this is still an unhealthy addiction, and that’s the reason why a lot of people have been jumping on the sugar detoxing trend as a way to start cutting back on their sugar intake.

Countless studies have explored the way sugar impacts the brain’s reward system. While this system is there to help us survive, it’s still highly involved in the development of addictive behaviors.

And let’s not forget – sugar by itself is pretty bad for us, especially in excess. It causes inflammation and damage to the heart and liver, impairs our cognitive function, and contains a lot of empty calories that easily stack up and make us pile on fat reserves. 

While your body does actually need glucose to function, excess amounts of sugar have long been known to have detrimental effects on your health. So how do we break free from the cycle of constantly spiking our blood sugar and experiencing cravings at the drops?

Sugar detox can be one way to do that – or at least gain some massive momentum on the path to drastically reducing your sugar intake.

Here are a few quick questions for you:

Do you find yourself experiencing cravings for simple carbs? Sweets, candy, chips, pasta, bread, or other simple carbs that are notorious for breaking down into sugar quickly inside your body are some of the more common foods people get cravings for.

And have you ever found yourself eating sweets even if you didn’t really want to, to stop eating sweets once you’ve started? 

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you might be a prime candidate for a sugar detox. 

But the good news is that, when you start cutting back on sugar, you’re going to open yourself up to healthier food options and you’re going to be consuming fewer empty calories which will give you the ability to add more substance to your diet.

When it comes to sugar detoxes, many people report a lot of cravings especially in the first few days after starting the detox. This is completely natural – if you’re used to consuming a certain amount of sugar and then drastically cut down your intake, your body is going to respond. 

Sugar detoxes, however, can be made to work when you know how to reduce your sugar cravings and keep your diet balanced while you’re doing the detox.

Doing things such as…

  • Increasing your protein intake
  • Increasing your fiber intake
  • Increasing your intake of healthy fats
  • Consuming more whole foods
  • Consuming more foods with a low GI index

Have been proven to help you maintain balanced blood sugar levels and reduce if not eliminate cravings.

That being said, you should still keep in mind that countless foods that would usually be healthy are secretly packed with sugar in disguise – these include sauces, salad dressings, bread, and a wide variety of grocery store staples.

If you’re still planning to do a sugar detox so you can cut back more drastically on sugar and gain momentum toward a long-term reduction in your intake of sugar, you should keep in mind that cravings will strike you at some point.

That’s why you should keep a variety of healthy snacks available – even if you do take steps to minimize cravings, you still have to be ready for the moments when they do strike. In those cases, keep healthy snacks at hand which you can use to replace the sugary snacks you used to consume.

Whether you want to do a sugar detox or not, we can all benefit from decreasing our sugar intake at least a little bit. That, or, at least find better sources of carbs instead of simple or processed carbs. 

The key you should always be striving for is balance – if you feel like you’re consuming a little too much sugar and this is affecting your weight and performance, a sugar detox can help you cut back drastically on your intake. That being said, sugar remains a vital part of our diet – but don’t let it drag you by your nose, manage your intake, and use it in the moments your body needs it.

The Simple Process to End Sugar Cravings

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Anyone who has ever tried to achieve weight loss has faced the reality of food and sugar cravings. And that’s completely normal. 

While we’re all conditioned to think there’s something inherently wrong with craving sugar, especially the diet culture that’s always like a devil on your shoulder telling you certain foods are bad. Well, newsflash: they’re not. 

Craving sugar can be managed somewhat easily by making a few small tweaks in your diet game, your eating patterns, and your mindset. 

Let’s talk about each of those tweaks, the science behind them, and how you can use them to reduce or eliminate your own sugar cravings!

#1 EAT REGULARLY

Irregular meal times or skipped meals tend to be one of the biggest reasons we crave sweets. If you go long stretches without eating pretty much anything, skipping breakfast for a quick coffee and then working through your lunch can set you up for cravings in the early afternoon. So the reason you’re getting the craving is physiological. 

You’re not giving your body what it needs so it finds the easiest way to let you know to go get it. When you skip meals, you can experience blood sugar drops and that’s a place you don’t want to be in. 

Sugar is the quickest way to get out of that danger zone since the body easily turns it into energy. That’s why we crave sugar. All of this can be fixed with a big breakfast or a wholesome lunch. 

#2 DON’T IGNORE CARBS

If you’re skimping on carbs but still eating regular meals, you may be noticing you’re still getting cravings for carbs and sweets. This doesn’t mean you’re doing dieting wrong or that carbs are bad. It happens because your body needs carbs! Remember, carbohydrates are not the evil substance that diet culture would like you to believe they are. They’re the body’s preferred source of energy. 

If you’re not eating them, even if you have enough protein and fat in your system, you’re still going to experience cravings. The remedy here, if you still want to avoid simple sugars, is to consume complex carb sources including whole grains, peas, beans, oatmeal, potatoes, and more.

Try to aim for complex carb sources that include lots of fiber such as whole grains, potatoes with the skin, and fruits – they promote satiety and keep your blood sugar levels balanced and steady throughout the day so you experience fewer cravings.

#3 YOU STILL NEED (A LITTLE) SUGAR

Many individuals tend to consume too much added sugar which may in some way contribute to the risk of chronic disease. But there are still various physiological and psychological reasons why people crave sweets. 

If you deprive yourself of food that you genuinely enjoy, and feel miserable as a result, this sort of beats the purpose of being healthy. In a lot of cases, people tend to overvalue what they can’t have until they finally “cave” in and eat more than they can handle. 

Then come the feelings of discomfort, guilt, and deprivation. It’s entirely possible to change courses here! Just remove cake from your “restricted” list completely. At first, you might eat a little bit more than usual, but over time, you’ll stop craving it if you have it available. 

You still have to regularly include sweets in your diet if you’re someone who loves them. You can’t just put them in an “off-limits” list and forget about something your body craves.

The bottom line is…

There’s a quick mindset shift to be made where you stop thinking your cravings for sweet and sugary foods needs to be “managed” and “controlled.” Instead, by focusing on giving your body what it needs, you will build a much better relationship with food and you’ll naturally eliminate cravings that often result from deprivation. 

Deprivation will always result in something missing from your diet, and if you want to maintain a healthy, balanced, and sustainable diet, you have to make everything available to yourself but stay mindful about the consequences of every decision.

By simply eating at regular, predictable intervals and not depriving yourself of carbohydrates, you can eliminate the majority of reasons why people crave sweet and sugary foods to begin with.

4 Habits that Slow Your Metabolism and Make Weight Loss More Difficult

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Everyone in the weight loss community knows that your metabolism plays a crucial role in pretty much every aspect of your health and fitness. From managing your energy levels to metabolizing sugars to losing weight, metabolism has a role in just about everything your body does. 

Mainstream health authorities all agree that your metabolism tends to slow down with age (as you might suspect.) But does that mean you should be giving up without a fight?

Even though your metabolism naturally slows down as you age, how your body handles that all comes down to what kind of habits you have and how well you take care of yourself. 

For this reason, today we’ve come together to explore some of the habits that have been scientifically proven to negatively impact your metabolism as you age. When you know what habits to avoid, you’ll naturally be drawn to healthier alternatives that will, as you age, keep your metabolism functioning optimally for weight loss and fitness success.

As time goes on, you want to avoid implementing these 4 habits into your daily routine so you can keep your metabolism functioning properly.

#1 NEVER SKIP BREAKFAST.

One of the best ways you can start your day in terms of keeping your metabolism running is by eating a nutritious breakfast that consists of all three major macronutrient groups – proteins, carbs, and fats. 

This is because your metabolism naturally slows down as you’re sleeping, and consuming food naturally fires it back up and sets your body up for calorie burn throughout the entire day. 

When you’re skipping breakfast and you’re not giving your metabolism a head start in the morning, you’re essentially telling your body not to expect a lot of calories to come through during the day, placing it in a fat preservation mode.

But when you do eat breakfast, you’re sending the signal to your body that there will be plenty more calories taken in throughout the day so it can set itself up for calorie burn instead of conserving the calories that come in.

When you allow your body a balanced mix of proteins, carbs, and fats when you wake up, you’re fueling your body for the rest of the day and fueling your metabolism with the resources it needs to keep your body’s internal furnace burning. 

#2 SITTING TOO MUCH!

Countless people live in a constant daily routine of going from their office chair to their car to their couch, naturally leading them to a very sedentary way of life. And while sitting for extended periods of time is necessary in today’s work culture, it can also lead your body to shift into a mode of energy conservation, negatively impacting your metabolism. 

According to the NHS, sitting for longer periods of time will naturally lead to slowing down your metabolism, poorly affecting how your body regulates blood pressure and breaks down fast. 

#3 TOO MUCH STRESS.

Too much stress isn’t really a habit as much as it is a result of a variety of habits that have to do with a poor ability to manage stress. When stress starts building up in your body, it causes the rapid production of a hormone called cortisol. 

Cortisol then causes the body to raise appetite levels and this can also increase the cravings for comfort foods… and on top of that, it can cause a decrease in your desire to exercise. 

All these things negatively impact your metabolism. And while we can’t control stress levels, you can definitely make an effort to manage them. Be it through mindfulness, exercise, meditation, we can all take steps toward protecting our peace. 

#4 NOT GETTING ENOUGH REM SLEEP. 

We all know how even one night of bad sleep can cause us to feel cranky, sluggish, and it literally impairs our cognitive processing abilities. 

You think that’s bad? Imagine the effects of chronic sleep deprivation on the body that go way beyond creating hunger cravings and getting you cranky. Problems like hormonal imbalances (which are common in sleep-deprived individuals) will further throw your metabolism off balance and make it difficult for you to manage your weight and appetite. 

The fix here is simple – always make sure you’re getting your 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night and you’ll be able to keep your metabolism in check, among all the other biological factors that are directly linked to sleep such as energy levels, cognitive processing, memory, and more.

What’s the Best Time of Day to Take a Walk?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you’ve ever gotten up early in the morning to take a walk, you know that even though getting out of bed isn’t the easiest task, the energizing feeling you get from a long morning walk (and the weight loss that comes with it) are hard to beat. 

But did you know that the same walk, depending on the time of day you do it, can either feel relaxing or energizing – one can help bring you up and let you start the day, another can settle your nerves and calm you down after a long day. 

Here’s something you should know: morning walks feel different from evening walks, and both of those differ from the effect you get walking during the middle of the day. The effects on the body change based on the time of day you take your walk.

There appears to be a big difference between the effect of exercise when it’s performed in the morning as compared to the evening. These differences are controlled by the body’s natural circadian clock. 

Morning exercise basically initiates various gene programs inside the muscle cells, making them even more productive and better capable of metabolizing fats and sugars. Exercising in the evening, on the other hand, will increase your full-body energy expenditure for a long period of time. 

Here’s how running in the morning, running in the midday, and running in the evening, each have different effects:

MORNING WALKS

Morning exercise basically primes your muscles to burn and metabolize sugar and fat effectively throughout the day. This has been studied and researched – one study done in 2013 showed that people burn up to 20 percent more body fat if they exercise in the morning before consuming food. In addition, this may also help lower your blood pressure – especially if you’re older or overweight.

Morning walks are great from a behavioral standpoint because regardless of how the rest of the day shakes up, you’ve at least checked your exercise off the list. Starting the day off with healthy exercise helps keep healthy habits in check throughout the rest of the day.

MIDDAY WALKS

If you’ve had a tough morning at your office or at work, a pre-lunch walk could help you prevent overeating and choosing a meal that’s less healthy. This was found in a 2016 study that researched the role of exercise after “mental work”, such as working on a report or attending corporate meetings. 

It found that people eat fewer calories at lunch if they have a walk before lunch. This is because glucose and lactate that was produced through exercise provided more energy to the brain just like eating a snack would.

And it doesn’t really take much – short walks or even brisk walking for a few flights of stairs can completely change your body and turn it from sedentary to active, helping undo the damages done by prolonged periods of sitting down.

EVENING WALKS

Running or walking after dinner is usually a great idea (if you do it at least an hour after your meal.) Studies done back in 2018 found out that just 15 minutes of walking after a meal could be enough to aid digestion and speed up the digestive process. It also helps reduce symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. 

If you walk after dinner, you’re also less likely to consume dessert because you give your body enough time to realize it’s actually satisfied. Studies done in 2019 have discovered that exercising in the evening can lead to a reduction in feelings of hunger, helping prepare your body for rest and recovery.

The bottom line is…

Morning walks energize us. Midday walks help us gain mental clarity and have even been shown to boost creativity. Evening walks do the opposite to morning walks, lowering our cortisol levels and relaxing us so we get ready for overnight rest. 

Whichever one of these you choose to do, just make sure you keep it up. It’s great to both start and end your day on a healthy note, so whichever one you choose to do, you should know you’re reaping a plethora of health and fitness benefits that you should really be proud of.

6 Fruits and Veggies in Their Seasonal Peak

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

With the season of fresh produce officially here, fresh produce loaded with vitamins, fiber, and phytonutrients is hitting the shelves like wildfire. According to most dietary guidelines, fresh produce should take up about half of what your plate is during each meal. Fortunately for everyone, fresh produce is delicious! 

If you’re focusing on what’s currently in season, you can pretty much eat whatever produce you choose at its peak flavor and nutrition. 

Today, we’re here to talk about 6 in-season produce goodies that are packed with all the vital nutrients and vitamins you need to not only stay fit but make massive fitness progress this summer.

Let’s get started:

#1 CANTALOUPE. 

Cantaloupe is pretty great all on its own, but if you want to go above and beyond your usual fruity snack, you can add cantaloupe to some cottage cheese with a little sprinkle of almonds. It makes for a quick and refreshing summer snack you can eat at breakfast or lunch, with protein helping to fill you up and keep you satiated. 

When you’re looking for cantaloupe, always go for ones that feel heavy and have a sweet smell. The cantaloupe stem should slightly yield when pressured with your thumb. When it’s cut, you should store it in a container in the fridge that’s airtight.

#2 BLUEBERRIES.

During the summer, you should always have some blueberries nearby. Pop them in your mouth for a hydrating and satisfying snack. You can add them to a yogurt parfait or just blend them into your favorite smoothie.

Always choose berries that look plump, blue, and firm. Store them in a fridge and wash them with water (preferably cold) before eating.

Choose berries that are plump, firm and blue (berries with a red tinge were harvested too early and won’t ripen). Store blueberries in the fridge and wash them off with cold water just before eating.

#3 APPLES.

Apples are some of the healthiest, high-fiber fruit you can grab and eat on the go. They pack easily into lunches or slices and pair well with dip such as peanut butter. If you want to sometimes get creative during your summer barbecues, we suggest using your slices of apple as a base of a s’more instead of your usual cracker. You can also easily cut them and add them to coleslaw for a sweet and crunchy lunch.

Good, in-season apples are firm to the touch and have no visible cuts or bruising. They will ripen pretty quickly if they’re left on the counter – unless you are planning to eat them within a couple of days, you can store them in the crisper drawer of the fridge. 

#4 WATERMELON.

Nothing quite embodies summer like a juicy slice of watermelon. Cut some and directly serve it at your next barbecue for a hydrating snack anyone can enjoy. Watermelon is a tasty addition to your spinach salads including feta cheese. For that cooling treat, you can blend your watermelon and strawberries into a quick slushy. 

When you pick out your watermelon, the only thing you have to pay attention to its colors. If they’re bright green and shiny, chances are they’re not fully ripe yet. When picking yours out, try to find the field patch – a light-colored spot where the watermelon had sat on the ground while growing. If it’s yellow, you’re in luck.  

#5 TOMATOES.

Summer tomatoes are amazing, and they can be served either raw or cooked depending on how you like them. You can slice them and serve them with salt and pepper for a quick side dish or you can add them to your Caprese salad with basil and mozzarella. You can’t go wrong with them. 

Ripe tomatoes should feel firm with some give to them and have a pleasant aroma. Avoid tomatoes that have blemishes or even dark spots. Store them at room temperature and you’ll get to enjoy their peak ripeness. Don’t leave them in the fridge, and if you have to, don’t do it for more than a couple of days.

#6 ZUCCHINI/ SUMMER SQUASHES.

Summer squashes are great when grilled with roasted peppers, onions, and mushrooms. You can also add them to your kebabs, or even try air-frying them alongside panko breadcrumbs for a refreshing, healthy take on the usual fried zucchini you find at bars. 

When picking out your zucchini, make sure it’s firm to the touch and a portion of the stem is still intact. Store them in the fridge and they can last for up to two weeks!

Is Supplemental Fiber Worth It?

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Fiber is a nutrient that gets a lot of attention from nutritionists – and deservedly so! It’s a nutrient responsible for everything from regulating your digestion to controlling your blood sugar and managing your cholesterol levels. It essentially feeds the good and healthy bacteria in our gut, promoting a healthy and flourishing microbiome.

Not only that, but fiber is also helpful when you’re trying to achieve weight loss. Due to its nature of being slowly digested, especially when compared to simple carbohydrates such as grains and sugars, it can promote longer-lasting satiety.

Fiber is abundantly found in fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fiber supplements are getting more and more popular among weight-loss enthusiasts. But a lot of nutrition pros can’t really agree on whether or not they’re as good as the real thing.

When you take, for example, a naturally occurring fiber source such as a fruit or a vegetable, you have a source of fiber that’s minimally processed. Foods with added fiber or those that supplement it altogether contain higher amounts of processed fibers. While research has long studied and proven the efficacy of fiber when it comes to weight management, research on whether or not processed fibers fit that same bill is scarce.

Naturally occurring fibers will always be your best bet. 

Whether you’re on a weight loss diet and you’re using fiber as a way to promote more satiety and a healthy gut microbiome, or you’re trying to gain weight and fiber is just a part of your overall macro intake, you will always want to focus on getting your fiber from natural sources such as beans, brown rice, nuts, fruits, veggies, etc. 

Fiber is coincidentally found in foods that are chock full of other vital nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and certain phytochemicals that bring immense health benefits to our bodies. If you’re trying to center your diet around certain healthy foods, you’ll have a much easier time losing weight and staying healthy overall. 

But there are exceptions to this rule…

When you cannot possibly get enough fiber through your diet alone (and let’s face it, that happens to a lot of people), a fiber supplement can be a useful replacement. One thing you should know, however, is that fiber supplements are usually related to a fair amount of stress on the GI system which can cause stress and discomfort. 

That’s why it’s vital that if you want to increase your fiber intake, you do that slowly and gradually instead of all at once. Supplements can help you make that transition to an overall healthier diet and lifestyle, though you can’t rely solely on them. If you want to get in more fiber through your diet, you have to focus on increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods in a way that’s sustainable toward your overall diet. 

How do we get more fiber in naturally and reap all the health benefits?

#1 If you’re going to use a supplement, choose the right one. 

Some people who have certain dietary restrictions or limitations may not be able to acquire all the natural fiber they need from whole foods. So if you’re one of the people who opt for a fiber supplement to ease your way into higher intakes, make sure you read the label twice and avoid any supplement that includes artificial flavors and colors.

#2 Spread your fiber throughout the day. 

If you can have a small-to-moderate amount of fiber as a meal or snack, you’ll not only be able to increase your fiber intake very easily, but you’ll also be promoting lasting energy, satiety, and stable blood sugar levels throughout your entire day. 

#3 Keep tracking your intake. 

If your ultimate goal is to lose weight, you should be aiming to get enough fiber every single day. This equates to about 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, most of which ideally comes from plant-based sources. 

A supplement can be useful here, but if you’re not tracking your intake in any way, you’re probably not reaping all the benefits you could, and you’re likely either consuming too much or, most likely, too little.

The Proper Way and Time to Weigh Yourself

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

The majority of people who are on a weight loss journey make an effort to weigh themselves daily. But the way they do it and the time they do it can vastly differ, and because you’re weighing yourself to gather data you can use strategically on your journey, it only makes sense that you would make an effort to commit to a way of weighing yourself that’s consistent and productive.

So how many times a day should you weigh yourself, anyway? When exactly is the best time to do it? What kind of scale should you use? Does any of this matter?

The answer to that last question is yes, yes it does.
But let’s take a look at the other questions and answer each of them below…

First off, what kind of scale should you use?

If you’re trying to lose weight (or gain weight), the most important thing you need to remember is to stay consistent. That means you have to use the same scale every single day – even if the number on that scale is a little off, it should still be accurate enough to give you a good idea of whether or not you’re making progress.
That being said, the number one marker for a good scale is accuracy. Nowadays, you can literally get a scale that connects to your favorite apps and devices, and some even claim to be able to measure body fat levels. Whether you’re into all of that is up to you, but in general terms, just get a scale that’s accurate and calibrate it correctly.

What time of day is best for stepping on the scale?

Again, the most important thing here is consistency.
If you’re trying to compare how much you weigh in the afternoon after you’ve had lunch to how much you weigh as soon as you wake up in the morning, you can literally fluctuate up to 5-10 pounds over the course of a day.
You have to make sure you’re not mistaking that for weight gain or weight loss.
Most people tend to weigh themselves first thing in the morning. This will typically be the longest stretch of time you go without eating a meal, meaning your weight won’t be affected by the food and liquid you’ve consumed.

What about weighing yourself after a workout?

It can often be tempting to jump on the scale right after you’ve finished your workout. You could be stripping down to take a shower, and after all, the scale could be right there.
But guess what – unless you train the exact same way every single day, you won’t be able to get the most consistent output of data. You’ll be comparing apples to oranges and the scale won’t be reflecting your true weight.
If you, let’s say, sweat a lot, you will tend to lose a lot of water weight over the course of a workout. And if one day you hydrate well, and the other day you don’t hydrate as well, you’ll see a difference on the scale that won’t be reflecting true changes in your weight or body composition.

What should you be wearing when you’re weighing yourself?

Since your goal is to weigh yourself, you should try your best to only weigh your self. In general, clothes can add up to 2-3 pounds of extra weight. Same for your shoes. If you’re that motivated to get the most accurate read as possible, you can remove any excess clothing you have.
If you’re weighing yourself in the morning, that’s even easier to do. Since you tend to wear different shoes and clothes every day, wearing them during these weigh-ins will lead to producing inconsistent results from day to day.

And finally, how often should you really weigh yourself?

How often you do it largely depends on why you’re doing it. If you’re just sort of “checking in”, then, by all means, you can hit the scale every other day or even once a week.
But if you’re on a mission to drop pounds (or gain them) you might be persuaded to turn weighing yourself into a daily habit. The more data you can get on your weight, the better you can manage it.
Even though daily measurements can be a little noisy and largely affected by how much you ate (or didn’t) during that day, they’re still a great way to gain insights into your progress and performance. That’s why it’s easy to say why if you’re committed to a goal, weighing yourself daily is your best option.

Setting Up Your Kitchen for Meal Prep Success

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When it comes to weight loss, one of the best things you can do to enhance your results and make your diet all the more sustainable is to have a supportive kitchen environment. Your kitchen should be your partner in healthy eating, and give you a space that ultimately supports your goals.

Learning how to get a delicious and nutritious meal on the table as soon as possible is a great skill to have, though it requires two basic things: (1) the right mindset and (2) an organized, well-stocked kitchen. 

Today, we’ve compiled some of the best tips you can start using to optimize your cooking space and skyrocket your confidence in the kitchen!

FIRST OF ALL, MINDSET MATTERS

When it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle, your mindset will make or break you. In some cases, just the fact that your kitchen is messy (coupled with an out-of-control mindset) will actually make you more vulnerable to a lot of unhealthy food choices. 

This is why things like how you feel in your own kitchen are so important, just like it’s important to create a positive mindset about healthy eating. Here’s how you can make your kitchen a more comfortable, productive environment: 

Pre-clean everything. Before you start to cook, make sure everything is clean. Wash all the dishes, take out the trash, clear off the table and the countertops, and only then start working your magic.

Set your mood. As you are prepping for dinner, turn on some music, take a few deep breaths, and make the conscious effort to relax and enjoy the experience.

Think ahead. Keep all your healthiest snacks in plain sight instead of shoving them around the countertops. Store all your snacks, treats, and chips in a drawer or a cabinet where they’re not so easily accessible.

Organize your fridge. Store healthy leftovers and snacks in transparent containers in the very front of your fridge so you get to see them easily when you’re in a rush for a meal.

Snack correctly. Make your own grab-and-go snacks, including salmon jerky, trail mix, or bags of popcorn. Stock your fridge with hard-boiled eggs, hummus, or chia pudding, as well as other homemade energy snacks.

Keep a food diary. Record inspirational quotes, track progress and record new recipes and reminders in a food diary. This diary will also give you accurate insights into different eating patterns you have, and it’s a great thing to have handy somewhere in your kitchen.

Organize and remove all the clutter from your kitchen.

If your kitchen is organized, you’ll be creating healthy meals much more quickly and more productively. From the utensil drawer all the way to the spice rack, the more organization and decluttering you can do, the better. Here are a few ideas you can use to get started:

Out of sight, out of mind – when it comes to your appliances, get strategic. If you want to make more meals in your crockpot or use that air-fryer more often, make some space for it, so it’s not a chore to get it out and use it.

Mind your oils – check the expiration dates of all your cooking oils. Chances are, some of them might be expired. And make sure to replace your highly processed veggie oils with olive oil or avocado oil.

Take inventory – organize and repurpose all your duplicate utensils and the items you have in your kitchen. Do the same with all your cookware. Also, you can take note of what you need and what you don’t already have.  

Store similar things together – you’ll always know what you have on hand. Store all your measuring spoons in a mug where you can easily reach for them. Stock all your baking equipment together. All your smoothie fixings in one basket near your blender. You get the idea.

Organize your spices – remove any duplicates and stack your delicious spices by how often you use them. Separate all your spices, herbs, and oils that you use regularly and keep your favorites near your countertop for easy access when cooking.

The bottom line is…

If you want to get healthy, you have to think about more than just food. It’s also about how you feel in your own environment. 

That’s why taking the time to organize and restock your kitchen will be one of the first and most important steps you can take toward creating cooking and nutrition habits that actually stick. Use these strategies, apply a bit of patience, and you’ll be able to transform your relationship with food in a way you never thought possible.

How to Have More Energy on a Low-carb Diet

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

It’s always absolutely vital that we pay attention to our hunger signals, regardless of whether we’re trying to lose weight or what kind of diet we follow. If you’re someone who is currently following a low-carb diet and you’re constantly feeling random hunger cravings or you’re suffering from low energy levels, there could be a couple of different explanations for why this happens.

Right now, let’s look at the four most common culprits and how you can solve each of them and have more energy while you’re on a low-carb diet.

#1 YOU’RE STILL IN THE TRANSITION PHASE.

If you’re currently new to low-carb diets, sometimes all you need to do is give it more time. If you started it all of a sudden, this dramatic shift in gears in your eating patterns could be a big adjustment to your entire body which can take a toll on your overall energy levels.
As your body is working overtime to adjust to this new state, it will take time and lots of energy for it to complete this transition successfully. As time goes on, your body will adjust to a mode that’s used to metabolizing a higher protein to fat ratio.

#2 YOU MAY BE EATING LOW CALORIES.

Depending on the diet and routine you had before you went low-carb, you may have cut too many calories from your diet while you’re trying to consume fewer carbs. That’s why you need to make sure you’re adequately fueling your body with enough energy to supply the body’s essential functions.

And if you’re someone who is active *and* you’re on low carb, you need to make sure you’re getting plenty of calories on top of what you’d usually need.

#3 NOT EATING ENOUGH FAT.

This ties to our previous point, but heart-healthy fats such as nut butter, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, whole eggs, and avocados are vital sources of energy for the body, and they will help you absorb the essential fat-soluble vitamins and minerals your body needs.
They’re also crucial when it comes to satiety, so if you’re not getting enough fat in and you’re feeling hungry throughout the day, this could very well be the reason you have low energy levels.

#4 YOU’RE SHORT ON SOME VITAL NUTRIENTS.

Cutting carbs altogether sometimes ends up backfiring on your weight loss goals. Instead, you should aim to focus on complex carbs, including whole grains. Not to mention, complex carbs also contain important micronutrients (and fiber) that play a big role in giving your body what it needs.

Keep an eye out for these 3 nutrients and make sure you’re including plenty of sources in your diet:

#1 VITAMIN D, from the perspective of cells, works as fuel for the mitochondria, the living batteries inside our cells that fuel us. Vitamin D also promotes the absorption of calcium and helps humans build cells, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. That being said, very few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Some brands of milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D but they’re usually limited or not included in most low-carb diets. If you’re looking for a good source of vitamin D that’s also low in carbs, you can try eggs, canned tuna, swordfish, salmon, and sardines.

#2 MAGNESIUM is found in countless high-carb foods such as whole grains, beans, breakfast cereals, rice, potatoes, and more. It’s a nutrient required for the production of energy and regulation of protein synthesis, as well as glucose control. Both these systems will lead to lower energy if they’re not adequately fueled. Low-carb foods that are rich in Magnesium include spinach, cashews, peanuts, fatty fids, avocado, and more.

#3 CHOLINE is best known for its role in the development of the brain. But it’s also a nutrient that helps build cell membranes, as well as regulating the function of your liver. Pasta, rice, and wheat are all great sources but they’re high in carbs. Low-carb sources of choline you can go for are regular boiled eggs, though choline is only found in the yolk. Other low-carb sources include chicken, beef, and fish.

Committing to Dieting Like You Commit to the Gym

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether they’re trying to achieve weight loss or muscle gain, it seems like most people who train consistently have no problem getting to the gym. They show up like clockwork three to five times out the week, they’re getting stronger, they’re making progress, and this kind of commitment definitely pays off.

But the same can’t be said for the majority of people trying to diet.

For many people, committing to a more sustainable yet healthy nutritious plan is really the hardest part of fitness as a whole. But making these long-term changes to your diet is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
So right now, let’s take a look at the psychology behind committing to the gym and see how we can apply these same principles to our diet so we can maximize our results:

#1 STAYING MINDFUL

Eating and hunger are two things you’re going to have to deal with for the rest of your life. We often don’t realize that we’re eating to comfort ourselves, to lower our stress levels, or to stuff down some other emotion we don’t want to feel.
That’s why if you suspect that if you’re using food to emotionally unpack, this can make it difficult for you to turn eating into a more measured, managed type of task.
Try this one tip: every time before you sit down to eat a meal, take note of how you’re feeling. Focus on everything you see, think, feel, and smell before and after you’re done with your meal. This will help you spot a lot of patterns you weren’t aware of.

#2 THINK LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY

Short-term doesn’t work. Well, it does, but it works in the short-term… and that’s not what we’re going for here, is it? As soon as the “short-term” diet is over, you’re back to your old ways.

When it comes to dieting and living a healthy lifestyle, you have to consider your goals and expectations and do your best to make your new plan as sustainable as possible.
You can still embark on a new and exciting diet challenge and use it as a stepping stone for creating longer-lasting habits. But as the challenge ends, you need to find a way to transform what you’ve learned into long-term changes.
At the end of the day, sustainability and consistency are the two elements that will decide whether your diet makes sense for you or not. Those are the things that you should be putting the most focus on.

#3 BUILDING AND STACKING HABITS

“Having a healthy diet” is actually a combination of countless smaller things. Meal prepping, counting calories, tracking macros, including variety in your diet, making sure you’re getting the right macro amounts for your specific goal, and so much more.
When all of these little tasks become habits of yours, they’re not going to require any willpower or motivation to do. They become just like your gym routine or the shower you take every morning.
You’ll be naturally drawn to them as you get used to them. Once eating a vegetable with every meal becomes a habit for you, and once you start getting into a rhythm where you’re prepping healthy meals and consuming them at the appropriate times, you’ll see how the need for “motivation” will instantly disappear.
Pro tip: take these habits one at a time and build each of them over the course of 21 days. This could be as simple as committing to drinking a glass of water when you wake up, taking 2 hours of your day on Sunday to prepare meals and snacks for the week, or just eating a veggie with every dinner. Once the first action becomes a habit, add another habit, and see how you’re going to feel 12 months from now.

#4 USE YOUR FAILURES TO GROW AND MOVE FORWARD

How many times have you tried a diet only to either cut it prematurely or regain the weight back once you were finished?
Well, what did you learn from that? Your failures should serve as little data points that allow you to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and they teach you in what areas you might need to work on.

Instead of getting discouraged when you regain weight back after dieting, just use that as a lesson to move toward more sustainable, effective modes of eating that will actually help you achieve your long-term fitness and health goals.

The Role Fiber Plays in Your Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

One of the simplest weight loss strategy tweaks out there that actually brings real results to people is a fairly simple one: just adding more fiber to their diet.

That’s right – when you’re dealing with weight loss, fiber is perhaps the most powerful nutrient you have at your disposal. Research has suggested that eating more fiber can help you lose weight in a variety of ways, both direct and indirect. 

How?

Well, for one, fiber helps you stay satiated because your body can’t digest it as fast as, say, a gram of fat. Fiber fills you up quickly and keeps you satiated by slowing down your digestion, allowing food to enter your bloodstream at a much slower rate. 

But not only is fiber great for its effects on the appetite, but it also has other benefits for people trying to lose weight. 

And they all start in the gut.

What role does fiber play in your gut health? 

Fiber is key for maintaining a healthy GI tract, which, in its own right, has shown to have massive positive effects on your weight. With about 100 trillion bacteria living just in your large intestine, it’s safe to say the organisms living inside your gut play a major role in various aspects of your health… including your weight.  

Just like your body, your gut bacteria need to consume healthy nutrients so they can function optimally. When you’re eating soluble fiber, it will slowly travel through your digestive tract and reach your gut bacteria, where it is ultimately fermented and used for energy. 

During this process, your body produces a fatty acid known as butyrate. Butyrate is essentially a short-chain fatty acid that improves the release of certain gut hormones that could ultimately help regulate your body’s insulin production and hasten the uptake of glucose in both fatty and muscle tissue. 

This helps you manage your blood sugar levels, prevents weight gain, and as a whole, short-chain fatty acids also allow you to regulate fat metabolism by speeding up fat burning and eradicating fat storages. They will also help your cholesterol and lower inflammation levels throughout your body.

So how does fiber relate to belly fat?

Eating a variety of certain fermentable fibers will help ensure that you have more diversity in your gut microbiome. Some studies even suggest that people with a larger variety of bacteria living in their gut will have less visceral belly fat. One study even suggests that increasing your fiber intake by just 8-10 grams a day will decrease your risk of gaining belly fat!

And there’s also something to be said about cravings…

Fiber is a very powerful tool for stopping food cravings in their tracks and preventing them altogether. When you’re consuming refined carbs and foods high in sugar, this can cause post-meal dips and spikes in blood sugar which tend to leave you feeling like you’re craving for some sugar. But fiber is here to help balance those blood sugar levels and prevent these cravings from appearing.

When it comes to fiber, you have two options:

Fiber comes in two different forms: soluble and insoluble. Both of them play an important role in the way your body manages weight loss. 

Soluble fiber will slow your digestive process – it mixes with water inside your digestive tract to form a gel. It also acts as a prebiotic, proving your gut bacteria with vital nutrients in a process known as fermentation.  

Insoluble fiber, sometimes referred to as roughage, helps your body pass food through the digestive system more efficiently. This helps you maintain optimal gut health and prevents constipation. Insoluble fiber is not fermented by your body’s gut bacteria.

You can actually find soluble fiber in countless fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, avocado, and more. Some great sources of insoluble fiber include fruits eaten with their skin, nuts, seeds, brown rice, celery, wheat bran, and more. 

That’s why it’s no coincidence that diets that include those foods help you lose weight and prevent further weight gain. 

What does all of this mean for you?

It means that, if you’re looking for an easy way to kickstart your weight loss, you can start adding fiber to your daily diet! This will help keep you satisfied and full between your meals, as well as support a healthy gut microbiome, turning it into one of the most powerful weight-loss tools at your disposal. 

Fiber is perhaps one of the healthiest nutrients you can put in your body, directly linked to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, insulin resistance (all of which can massively affect your weight.)

4 Water Training Exercises for Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

While water exercise tends to have a reputation of either being for seniors or only for athletes trying to pose as Muhammad Ali, water training actually has so many benefits that put it on top of other traditional forms of exercise. 

Because of how our bodies tend to act and move in the water, there’s a place in the pool (or sea/ocean) for every person from the professional athlete to the just-now-starting beginner. 

In case you were wondering how training in the water could benefit you, here’s just a few of the proven benefits:

Added resistance. Water can actually make your exercises harder. It’s like having millions of little weights attached all over your body, working against every single movement you try to do. Depending on your velocity and the action you’re performing, exercises can have a much greater level of intensity when they’re performed inside a body of water. 

Buoyancy. Depending on the depth of the water you’re training in, buoyancy lightens the apparent weight of your body and the load your joints experience up to 90 percent! That’s huge! For the people who experience joint pain or want to indulge in a low-impact workout that’s still high in intensity, there’s no better place than inside the pool. 

More flexibility and higher range of motion. Water workouts can actually allow for safer, more comfortable and pain-free ranges of motion because of the lower load that’s put on the joints and the added “massaging” of body tissues by the water.

More calorie-burn. When the pain of movement is taken away and some extra resistance is added, it’s easy to see how the exponentially harder exercise inside the water can result in extra calorie and fat burn because of the healthier energy balance achieved. 

It’s comfortable and fun! We all know how much we stress sustainability and finding exercise you actually enjoy doing. The water brings a cooling effect on your body and some research out there points to the fact that water fitness leads to an increased feeling of well-being. As you jump, move, and splash throughout the water, this can make for fun and engaging exercise. 

Now that we understand the clear and proven benefits of water training, let’s talk about a few exercises you can do.

These exercises can be done either individually as you see fit, but it’s always great that you follow the AMRAP approach (short for as many rounds as possible.)

Perform 8-10 reps of each movement for as many rounds as possible in 10-15 minutes. See how many rounds you can complete and try your best to beat that number next time!

#1 TORSO ROTATIONS

If you want to engage your core like never before, try out the extra advantage of water resistance for a 360-degree core torso rotation.

To do it right, stand tall in the water with your feet at shoulder width. Stretch your arms out in front of your body and press your palms together. Keep your arms straight and your shoulders back (and down), then proceed to rotate your upper body 90 degrees to the left, then 180 degrees to the right. 

#2 THE TUCK JUMP

Did anyone say endurance? Tuck jumps in the water will make your heart pound! They engage the muscles on the front side of your body, including your abs and quads. 

To do it right, simply stand tall while your arms are in the water. Jump both feet off the ground and then pull your knees to your chest. Then extend your legs and land back on the ground so you can absorb the impact at your ankles, knees, and hips. 

#3 SINGLE-LEG WATER SQUATS

This exercise can be challenging enough on land, even for the elite athlete. With the added support of the water, the single-leg squat can help you emphasize your coordination, balance, and unilateral strength as you perfect your squat form inside the water.

Here’s how to do it: stand on your left leg with your right leg extended out in front. Press your hips down and back, sink as low as possible (based on the water depth) and keep your left knee aligned over the middle left toes and press back and up so you can stand up. Perform repetitions on both legs.  

#4 CROSS-COUNTRY WATER SKI

To reap the benefits of this movement pattern, you no longer require snow or expensive equipment. 

To do it right, begin in a split stance with your right leg in front and your left leg behind with your left arm stretched out in front of your body and your right arm reaching behind you. Then actively drive your arms and legs throughout the water (switching their positioning.) Continue to switch with the opposing arms and legs.

The Easiest Weight Loss Exercise You Can Do to Lose Extra Weight

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know that creating a caloric deficit is as simple as making a few dietary changes, but we all also know that exercise goes a long way toward helping you achieve that deficit. 

In fact, exercise could serve as a way to amplify your results – in one study, obese and overweight women who followed both an exercise program and a diet for up to one year lost significantly more weight than women who followed a diet-only program. (10.8 percent vs 8.5 percent.)

If you’re someone trying to lose weight and you plan on adding exercise to your routine, you might want to consider starting with the easiest option – brisk walking.

One study done over the course of a decade and a half, published back in 2009, concluded that walking was directly linked to fat loss and less weight gain over time. In other words, walking regularly could not only help you lose weight, but it could help you maintain it over the long term.

Walking was found to be a potent cardio exercise, lowering levels of organ fat and abdominal fat, which both play a key role in the development of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Even though you may not be seeing a change on the scale, walking will be an effective fat-burner for those of you who are used to following a diet-only plan.  

But not only is walking a great way to get rid of stubborn fat reserves, but it’s also great if you’re trying to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. Cardiorespiratory fitness is vital for your health and longevity, so much so that some physicians in the U.S. measure it in routine check-ups as a prime health sign. Low cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with a higher risk of death from any cause. Lucky for you, walking will help you make the necessary steps toward preventing that. No pun intended. 

So how can we implement brisk walking into our routine and reap the weight-loss advantages?

Well, walking is a pretty straightforward activity, however, turning it into a consistent habit and even a planned routine can be somewhat difficult. That being said, walking is still the fundamental form of movement for a human being. It can be done in any environment with pretty much no equipment. 

Walking, regardless of your pace, will offer a vast array of benefits. But walking at a brisk pace could potentially lead to the highest amount of weight loss results. 

Consider the following estimates:

A person who weighs 155 pounds who walks for up to half an hour a day (at a pace of about 3.5 mph) will burn roughly 150 calories. 

If that pace is bumped up to 4 mph, the person will burn roughly 170 calories in the same amount of time.

But what actually qualifies as brisk walking?

According to the CDC, brisk walking is walking at a pace of at least 2.5mph. This falls under the category of exercise with moderate intensity.

However, how intense this feels to you will be entirely subjective and determined by your current fitness, height, weight, terrain, etc. 

One helpful tip here is to gauge your intensity on a scale of 1 to 10. Imagine 1 was sitting, while 10 amounts to the highest level of effort possible. Brisk walking should be somewhere in the middle. 

If you’re not sure where to start, you can try the following recommendations by the CDC: 

Focus on getting at least 2 and ½ hours of brisk walking every week. If you want to reap even greater health benefits such as the reduced risk of a plethora of chronic conditions, your aim should be about 5 hours a week.  

Still, if you’re trying to lose weight, you have to pair your new walking routine with a healthy diet. While exercise can help you create a caloric deficit through the calories you burn, your diet will still be the critical determining factor in whether or not you reach a deficit or a surplus. 

The key for fat loss is determining how much energy you’re expending with each of your training sessions and finding out how many calories you’re consuming through your diet. 

If you’re either new to exercising altogether or you’re suffering from a chronic condition, experts recommend that you seek help from a professional.

Let’s Talk About Heat Training and Heat Exhaustion

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We’re all aware that, during the warmer months (or downright hot months,) we all tend to spend more time outdoors. We’re jogging, cycling, running, relaxing on the beach, enjoying the sun, and all of the perks that come with the warm, summer weather. 

But for those of you who take the extra step and actually train and perform intense exercises in the sun, you should know that doing this carries some extra risks. 

With all the training in the hot, summer weather comes the increased risk of developing heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or other dangerous illnesses that can be extremely harmful (or even deadly.) 

That’s why it’s important for us to take measures to decrease the risks and avoid these complications, and even if they do occur, we must still learn to recognize the symptoms and take appropriate actions so we can stay safe.

Let’s talk about heat exhaustion for a second.

Heat exhaustion is not uncommon in warm climates, yet it can be a very serious, even life-threatening problem. Experts note that exertion-related heat illness is the number one cause of death in young athletes. It also affects laborers, military personnel, firefighters, and other people who are required to exert themselves in conditions of extreme heat.

When it comes to the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, they may vary. They include an increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, mild to moderate dehydration, weakness, fatigue, and more. Sometimes, dizziness and mild confusion will also occur, and in some rare cases, people might even lose consciousness for a brief period of time.

If you or another person you know is suffering from heat exhaustion, it’s absolutely vital that steps are taken to cool the body off immediately.

This means removing excess clothing and equipment, immersing the person or athlete in cold water (if that’s possible,) or a tub of water anywhere in between the temperatures of 2 and 16 degrees Celsius. 

If immersing the body in cold water is not possible, you should make an effort to rapidly initiate an alternative method of cooling. This can include applying ice packs to certain parts of the body where the largest blood vessels are located (such as near the groin or under the arms.) 

Another method could be spraying water over the person’s body or using fans to blow air over moist skin so a process known as evaporative cooling with start to take place. Water should be reapplied as needed, fanning should be performed continuously, and most importantly, the vital signs and mental status of the person should be assessed. 

This can all sound pretty scary, even anxiety-inducing, for some people who are out and active in the sun all summer. 

So what are some steps we can take to prevent this so we don’t need to resort to cold tubs of water, cooling fans, and even the sometimes necessary medical assistance? 

As with all efforts to stay active in the sun, there are five basic guidelines you should follow so you can stay safe and productive. They include:

Hydrating properly. Always take breaks to drink plenty of water, regardless of where you are. If you’re outdoors and you’re running, you should run for about a mile and then walk the next mile so you have time to drink some water, cool down, and allow the water to do its magic on your body. 

Pay attention to timing. Always try to exercise either early in the morning or late in the evening. 

Choose the right location. If you can, do a water workout inside the pool or just exercise in a shadier area where there is less direct exposure to the sun.

Pick out your outfit with the heat in mind. Always wear loose-fitting clothing that allows you to keep yourself cool and evaporate unnecessary sweat. You can also choose outfits that are light in color because this reflects the heat, as opposed to dark clothing that absorbs it.

Take it slow. If you’re training in the sun, take things *very* slowly. Make sure you are properly acclimatized to the hot weather and that you’re actually used to exercising outdoors. If you’re not, start out slowly and build your way up so you can increase the intensity and length of your workouts so your body has time to adapt to the heat. 

The bottom line is…

The summer heat is no joke. While it does add to the fun of the season and opens up the doors to countless activities, heat illnesses still exist and they’re dangerous. If you’re exercising in warm environments, take the necessary precautions and wear the right (light) clothing, drink plenty of water, take breaks, and try to avoid the heat as much as possible until you gradually build up a tolerance for it. 

How to Prepare and Dress for Hot-weather Training

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Hot-weather walking or running, whether you do it for weight loss or not, can feel absolutely terrible… and pretty much impossible to dress for. All the sweat, the sunburn, the chafing, all of that doesn’t make up for the fact that our bodies are great at thermoregulation (for the most part.) 

Researchers have long known that the more aerobically fit you are, the better your body is at handing hot temperatures. But what about those first few days or weeks when the hot weather is just setting in, or those days on which exercising feels like you’re in a sauna?

That’s when your wardrobe and ability to prepare will play a major role in how comfortable and efficient you’ll actually be during exercise. 

Today, we’re here to talk about a few tips from the experts on how you can strategically pick out your clothes and accessories so you can stay safe and comfortable while you’re training during the hottest months of the year. 

Let’s get started.

First, you must learn to understand “real feel” temperatures. 

Contrary to popular belief, not all heat is created equal. Levels of humidity can make the effects of heat better or worse by dampening the rate at which sweat evaporates from your body. 

Sweat isn’t just an annoyance that happens when you’re getting too hot. It’s the body’s mechanism for cooling itself down, and this effect can only happen as sweat begins to evaporate. When the humidity is high, sweat tends to stick around. 

Not only that, but the more you have to work to cool your body off, the hotter you’re going to feel. If you’re riding a bike, you won’t feel nearly as hot as you will when you’re running. This is because of the air flow helping sweat evaporate off your body. 

To get you started on preparing and dressing for the hot weather, here are a few major pointers you can use for your prep:

#1 SHADE YOUR FACE

The sooner you invest in some breathable, sweatproof caps, the better. Aim for one that provides UV protection, keeps the sun off your face and scalp, and helps you keep the sweat out of your eyes. 

You may prefer to wear a headband or buff so you can keep your hair off your face, or you might choose to wear no cap at all if you have short hair. But if you do that, just realize that you’ll be getting a lot of sun exposure on your scalp.

#2 TOPPING IT OFF

If the weather is hot, make sure any skin exposed to the sun has sunscreen covering it. Perhaps the easiest way to avoid sunburn is to simply cover up as much of your skin as possible while you still allow your skin to breathe so it can cool itself down. 

Countless athletic brands are making clothes that are ultra-lightweight that also provide UV protection while consuming moisture and keeping you chill. There really isn’t a fabric that works as well for wicking sweat as much as just having bare skin. But covering your skin for protection from the sun’s radiation is absolutely vital, especially if you’re training. 

Using clothing is one of the best ways to protect your skin from the sun. But make sure what you’re wearing is actually bringing you UV protection. 

Plain white T-shirts are only rated at around SPF 7, which is minimal. Some athletic clothing provides up to SPF 50, and if you’re going out for a long run or walk, you might want to bring those along. This will save you from the need to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours. 

#3 CHECK YOUR FABRICS

When it comes to clothing, opt for light and minimal. Put on a lot of sunscreen, and then let the air hit your skin as much as possible so you can speed up your natural cooling process. When it comes to your choice of fabrics, the lighter the better! While loose fits might feel great initially, most people prefer tighter fits, and when fabrics start to soak, they sort of wear you down.  If you’re not working extra hard, wear loose clothing that provides you with enough air flow. If you’re going to be training hard, once the loose clothing gets wet, it’s much more prone to chafing. 

Shorts and tank tops that usually feel fantastic in 60-degree weather won’t do much for you in the 90-degree heat. Look for fabrics that boast moisture-wicking properties. And don’t forget to skip that cotton T-shirt (which will just end up soaked up and suffocating you in a matter of a few minutes.)

7 Tips to Make Halloween as Healthy as Possible

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Let’s face it – for both youngsters and adults, trick-or-treating is a very lucrative (but not really nutritious) business. Especially if you’re in the business of collecting extra calories. Based on the nutrition labels on some of the more popular candy brands, rough estimates suggest that the average child will accumulate up to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night. That’s more than some people get in a week.

When you examine that fact, Halloween does end up becoming pretty scary. And you know what the scariest part of Halloween is? If all those calories are not gobbled up with the right moderation, just those treats could add up to 2 pounds. Yikes!

We’re all for enjoying a few Halloween candies here and there. Some of them are downright delicious. But with the abundance of candy you have at home, at work, and the candy given around Halloween parties, it can be very easy to go overboard. 

Today, we’ve compiled 7 tips you can use to make sure you effectively manage all these extra calories in the upcoming candy-filled days.

#1 IF YOU’RE BUYING CANDY, WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE

Hold off and don’t go breaking open those bags of candy until you hear that first youngster trick-or-treating at your door. Take a step further and make sure you wait until Halloween day to purchase your treats.

#2 MAKE SURE YOU FILL UP AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE

Prepare your usual healthy meals and healthy finger foods for you and the kids to munch on before you head out for all the Halloween festivities. Doing so will reduce the desire to instantly fill up on candy as soon as you (or your kids) can get your hands on it.

#3 PLAY YOUR ROLE IN THE CANDY EXCHANGE

Your children will want to enjoy their Halloween treats. But what if you can make them enjoy them without noshing on them? Allow your children to enjoy them for a day, then propose the following trade: their bag or pillowcase full of candy in exchange for a new toy of their choice. Then you can take all their leftover candy and donate it to a charity, organization, or keep it for guests or colleagues at work.

#4 IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN AROUND YOU, BE A ROLE MODEL

Children love to emulate. So if you take a balanced and healthy approach to your candy consumption, children around you are likely to do the same and learn from your healthy habits. You can enjoy one or two small pieces at a time and allow the same for your kids, just keep in mind that children are watching you and learning from you on how to behave come Halloween night. 

#5 GIVE OUT HEALTHY, NON-TRADITIONAL TREATS

Some more interesting choices of treats such as bouncy balls, glow sticks, hacky sacks, and others will be inexpensive, calorie-free treats you can give out and actually promote more physical activity. Plus, they’ll probably be more fun for children than another handful of miniature candies. 

#6 KEEP A TALLY OF ALL THE MINIATURE TREATS YOU TRY

Those miniature treats end up stacking up. It’s easy to have 3-4 treats the sizes of entire snacks throughout the course of your day. You might think you’re making smarter choices in this regard, but when you do the math, the fat and calories will quickly add up to a few full-sized candy bars.

#7 ENJOY THE HALLOWEEN DAY FOR WHAT IT IS

Never forget that Halloween, just like any other holiday, is just one day of the year. If you and your family have already made healthy eating a habit, it’s totally okay for you to enjoy a few days of overindulgence. But be honest with yourself. 

Plan on making a nutritious, tasty, healthy meal over the weekend and immediately go back on track with your healthy eating habits as soon as all the trick-or-treating is over. 

If you’ve developed a healthy mindset and a productive relationship with food, you don’t have to stress about Halloween overindulgence too much. After all, the holiday is synonymous with candy, sweets, and treats.

7 Road Trip and Vacation Snacks You Can Bring Anywhere

Nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

With summer officially here, your gas tank full, your playlist loaded, and your bags packed, all that’s left is finding the right nutrition for your summer adventures. 

Good road trip snacks can not only keep you fueled and alert as you’re making your way across cities, but they’ll also keep you full of energy while other poor dieting decisions can actually have you feeling sluggish and not even enjoying your trip.

While there’s nothing wrong with eating what you like, part of the fun of road trips involves actually stopping at a random bakery on the side of the road and then getting nostalgic with your favorite childhood snacks. 

But road trips shouldn’t involve stressing over your favorite food choices. It’s possible to make smart choices on the road, choices that will keep you progressing toward your fitness goals while you’re still enjoying all the little snacks you want to enjoy.

Today, we’re here to talk about 7 snacks approved by dietitians, most of which you can make at home and keep with you until the time is right.

#1 DIY TRAIL MIX

Trail mix with nuts, seeds, and even a small amount of dried fruit, can become one of your easiest go-to snacks full of protein and filling fiber. Another variation of this could be the classical “ants on a log” snack made up of celery sticks, raising, and peanut butter. All of these are crunchy, fiber-rich options that bring together healthy fat and much-needed protein.  

#2 PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES

When you’re trying to make snacks for the road, the key is in keeping it simple. If you layer a slice of whole-grain bread with some peanut butter and put it in a baggie so you can bring it with you, both children and adults have something to enjoy that’s both filling, delicious, and healthy. If there’s a nut allergy running in your family, you can try sun butter (which is made up of sunflower seeds.)

#3 GRAPES AND WALNUTS

Walnuts are pretty much becoming an ideal snack since recent research has suggested they have brain-protecting nutrients that enhance your concentration and improve your processing speed. 

You can pretty much eat them straight out of the bag or pair them with a more portable fruit such as grapes or bananas. Grapes also tend to have a high water content, which is all the more important when you’re trying to stay hydrated on the road. Not to mention, both of these foods help you fight fatigue – something you definitely want when you’re trying to stay energized on your trips.  

#4 STRAWBERRY-POPCORN TRAIL MIX

Dietitians have long talked about the benefits of making a quick trail mix of popcorn (with walnuts) and freeze-dried strawberries for a sweet, energy-boosting, nutritious snack. Popcorn includes carbs and fiber, walnuts contain extra fiber and flavor, and any delicious fruit you add will only add to the potency of this snack and provide you with healthy antioxidants and natural sugars that will give you energy without the blood sugar crashes.

#5 YOGURT PARFAIT

Countless convenience stores, coffee shops, and even gas stations, are now starting to offer pre-made yogurt parfaits that include nuts, fruits, granola, and more. These are all excellent options for those of you who are looking for quick, grab-and-go snacks while you’re on the road. Not to mention, they’re all sweet treats that contain protein and fiber – it’s a win-win!

#6 PROTEIN BARS

Protein bars, when they’re nut-based or contain a high amount of nuts, are typically a great all-in-one snack. They contain protein, carbs, and healthy fats, and this trio will help you get fuller much faster… and stay full for much longer. 

#7 JERKY AND CHEESE

Jerky and cheese (dehydrated) can easily become your best friend on any road trip you’re going on. If you have the time to prepare shelf-stable snacks for your road trips, jerky and dehydrated cheese are the way to go. Some great non-perishable snacks are your typical fruit and raw veggies and crackers, but it’s often difficult to get non-perishable protein options. These two snacks fix that – they’re great road trip options for those of you needing some extra protein (turkey, beef, etc.) 

They’re also shelf-stable and they taste delicious (if you’re into them.) Still, there aren’t really a lot of dehydrated cheeses out there, and sometimes dehydrated cheese is labeled as “cheese crisps.” Either way, if you can find a bag that contains at least 7-8 grams of protein per 100 grams, you have yourself one of the best, nutritious, delicious, long shelf-life having snacks for your road trips.

5 Mistakes Walkers Make that Sabotage Weight Loss Success

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

People who make a habit out of walking know how helpful it is when it comes to weight loss. But what most of them don’t understand is that a lot of little things can end up having a detrimental impact on your fitness and weight-loss progress.

Today, we’re here to explore the most common mistakes walkers make that sabotage their success in losing weight and keeping it off.

If you’re someone who walks for weight loss, make sure to avoid these mistakes if you want to reach your goals within your desired timeline.

#1 NOT BEING CONSISTENT

While it’s always true that you need to build up your tolerance to exercise and slowly and gradually progress toward higher mileages and intensities, it’s also true that countless walkers and athletes, in general, tend to underestimate what they’re capable of.

Walking, in particular, is such a low-intensity activity that it can be done every day by the majority of people out there. By not being consistent with it and not doing it daily, you could be negatively impacting your overall fitness and weight-loss goals.

Consistency is what’s actually going to build the habits necessary for you to achieve the long-term weight loss success you’re looking for. Make sure to walk daily, or at the very least, try to get in a certain minimum number of steps every day.

#2 NOT INCLUDING ANY VARIETY IN YOUR WALKING ROUTINE

At first, you might believe results will come if you just go out the door and exercise. The problem is your body will adapt to whatever you’re doing. So if you don’t add any variety into your routine, you will likely hit a plateau at some point.

To continue working toward that weight-loss goal, you’re going to need to avoid always walking at the same pace and add a few higher-intensity intervals. The good news? These variations of workouts are just perfect for those days in which you might not have a lot of time to get in your number of steps.

Once your endurance starts improving, you can do similar training intervals during your walk by increasing your speed, jogging for a short period, or walking on an upwards elevation. All of these will add some intensity to your walking and allow you to burn more calories than usual.

#3 SITTING DOWN FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE DAY

Here’s a study that proves sedentary behavior is a leading factor in weight gain and obesity.

Even if you’re training for up to an hour a day and you’re getting in your 10,000 steps every day, sitting around for long periods between these two bouts of exercise will definitely decrease the amount of results you’re getting and seeing.

This is a notion most experts agree with, so while we definitely should be focusing on a near-daily exercise habit, we still have to make sure we’re not being sedentary for large chunks of the day.

If you’re in the office, just make sure you get a 3-5-minute break every hour so you can get up and move around. This will provide you with an extra boost in your daily steps and calorie burn, and it will help you break the cycle of sitting down for extended periods of time.

#4 WALKING ALONG THE SAME, FLAT ROUTES

Similar to exercise intensity, your body will adapt to the terrain on which you most commonly walk. While it’s always okay to walk on your favorite neighborhood routes most of the time, you should consider hitting an off-road trail once or twice a week. This will help you add some variety and burn even more calories in the process.

Hillwalking is another option that will give you a great bang for your buck, increasing your calorie burn while building some strength at the same time.

#5 NOT DOING ANY OTHER FORMS OF EXERCISE

Even though walking can be a great introductory form of exercise for people who are just getting started, achieving weight loss requires us to use various forms of exercise to get the best results.

For instance, walking up to five days a week and doing higher-intensity exercises on the days in which you’re not walking can be a great strategy for adding more variety and calorie burn in your workouts.

While you may be used to doing your walking routine as your main form of exercise, you should know that, when it comes to exercising for weight loss, you can’t go wrong with adding other forms of exercise such as swimming, strength training, cycling, HIIT, or other modes of exercise that will aid your calorie burn and help you build strength and endurance.

Fruits on Keto: What to Eat and What to Avoid

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know and understand keto, especially everyone dealing with weight loss. Keto usually involves consuming a lot of fat and basically eliminating most if not all of the carbs from your diet so your body can start using fat as fuel instead of carbs.

But after all, if we want to reap the diet’s benefits, we have to cut a lot of food from our diet that would usually be considered healthy and nutritious, including many fruits.

On average, just about 5 percent of your daily calorie intake should be coming from carbohydrates when you’re on keto.

So when it comes to fruits, they’re kind of tricky to deal with on keto.

To keep your glucose levels low enough for your body to start burning off fat, you would usually need about 25 grams of carbs (or less) a day. But even then, most of that should come from veggies, nuts, and dairy.

This leaves little room for fruit (which is naturally higher in carbs.) In fact, just one little serving of some fruit can technically knock out your daily carb budget on a keto diet.

Since sugar is a carbohydrate and it goes toward your overall allowed intake on a keto diet, you have to limit the amount of fruit you consume and carefully track your intake based on how it fits your overall carb intake.

Some fruits can actually be keto-friendly (when consumed in moderation.)

Luckily, you can still make fruit work for you if you consume small amounts of very specific fruits and incorporating them sparingly into your diet. In a lot of cases, you will still be knocking off a big chunk of your daily carb budget so you have to make sure you’re tracking your intake throughout the day.

Let’s take a look at some fruits you can opt for if you want to treat yourself to some sweet fruit but still stay within your daily carb allowance:

#1 TOMATOES

Tomatoes are a fruit, after all! Tomatoes are subtly sweet and they’re abundant in minerals such as potassium and vitamin C – both are worth adding to your ketogenic meals. Pair a few tomato slices with avocado or just add some diced tomatoes to your salad to reap the benefits (and sweetness) of this fruit.

#2 AVOCADO

Avocado is high in fat, and it’s basically a staple for all keto dieters. Not only does it provide you with about 20 essential minerals and vitamins, but it’s also high in fiber, so it keeps you satiated. You can add your avocados to keto smoothies or just by themselves with a little seasoning on top.

#3 STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries are also rich in potassium, and they make a great source of fiber. With a few sliced strawberries into a fat-filled salad, you can add some extra sweetness to your ketogenic meal, or just enjoy them with some unsweetened whipped cream.

#4 RASPBERRIES

Raspberries are very high in fiber (with a whopping 6 grams per serving.) They’re also low in sugar which makes them the perfect fit for keto dieters. When those sweet cravings strike, just grab a handful of raspberries and you’ll have everything you need in the palm of your hand. Literally.

#5 WATERMELON

Watermelon is a fruit that’s extremely high in water content. It’s also rich in antioxidants (and, you guessed it, potassium.) It’s sweet yet very low in calories, and it serves as a great refreshing snack during these hot summer days.

That being said, there are a few fruits you definitely want to avoid when you’re on a ketogenic diet. And certain fruits just won’t be as easy to fit into your keto framework. They include:

Apples – Even though apples provide about 5 grams of fiber, they are still too high in carbs for a keto dieter.

Dates – dates have a caramel-y flavor and a high potassium content, yet they’re still small sugar bombs. Consider them a no-go.

Grapes – Grapes not only taste darn good, they’re also a very rich source of antioxidants. But they still contain a high amount of net carbs per serving, knocking out more than half of your daily carb allowance.

Bananas – another fruit high in potassium, bananas are one of those fruits very high in carbs and very difficult to implement in a keto diet.

Pineapple – just like most tropical fruits, pineapple is very sweet which makes it a no-go on keto. If you’re craving that tropical flavor, you can enjoy some shredded coconut which is very low in carbs.

How to Keep Weight Off Once You Lose It

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know weight loss isn’t easy. Dropping pounds, whether it’s a few pounds or a lot, is one of the most common fitness and health goals ever.

According to a survey done by the CDC over the course of a few years, nearly 50 percent of all Americans reported trying to lose weight during the past 12 months.

The desire to achieve weight loss will result in countless methods and strategies. Some of them are grounded in established science, and some of them are quick fixes promoted by questionable fitness experts or early-morning infomercials.

That being said, recent studies published in the journal Obesity have tried to find the most effective psychological and behavioral strategies shared by people who are able to not only lose weight but keep it off.

So how did they do it? How do people successfully keep weight off once they lose it?

The study linked to above analyzed individuals who maintained 20+ pounds of weight loss over the course of three years. They found several factors that differentiated them from the people who didn’t manage to keep the weight off.

In addition to just eating healthy, those factors included self-monitoring, the development of strong habits, and some psychological coping strategies. These shared traits have not only resulted in a longer duration of weight-loss success but also a lower perceived effort to keep the weight off.

Let’s face it – long-term weight maintenance is a challenge to say the least. That’s why it’s the people who had their life a little more aligned that could manage keeping weight off once they lost it, meaning they had factors such as exercise, sleep, diet, and emotional health in check and working together.

Let’s examine some of the differentiating factors and find out why they worked so well:

#1 DEVELOP STRONG HABITS

Any successful weight-loss program, at least one that works in the long term, requires that a person forms a lasting habit. By doing this, they decrease the chance of weight fluctuations and regaining lost pounds. In the study above, the stronger the habits people developed, the more likely they were to maintain healthy eating and exercise.

However, if there is a habit you need to remove, that might take some more work. For example, if you’re one of those people who eat when they’re bored, you might want to take on a different activity so you don’t fall into the trap of cravings and overeating. Letting go of your unhealthy habits is sort of like building a habit, you’re just redirecting your habit’s trigger to something else, something more healthy and productive.

#2 SELF-MONITOR

There are countless ways you can self-monitor yourself for weight loss. In the study above, plus studies we’ve talked about before about journaling, people have had tremendous success with weight loss if they added more management into it – writing down, tracking success, recording their workouts, etc. Pay attention to your choices and how they impact your progress.

By having a plan, taking steps toward your goal, and measuring your progress, you’re giving yourself the highest odds of success not only in losing the weight, but in keeping it off, as well.

#3 COPE WITH STRESS

Any change in your life can instantly cause stress and anxiety. Changing your diet and exercise habits can do the same. But learning to cope with stressors in a healthy way can make those moments dissipate. In the study, specific strategies such as thinking about past success and remaining positive have been shown to be productive toward maintaining weight loss success.

So don’t be afraid to take note of your achievements, small and big. Recognize and celebrate those successes and use them as fuel to get more motivation. By focusing on the things you actually can influence, you’ll gain more control of yourself and your journey and you’ll learn to accept what you can and can’t control.

The bottom line is…

As you’re trying to lose weight, it can be easy to solely focus on calories in vs calories out. But achieving that progress, and maintaining that progress, is a much more complicated process.

When it comes to maintaining an exercise and diet regimen, you have to consider both the science and the psychology that goes into it. The more knowledge you get on how training and nutrition work, and the more knowledge you get about your own self and your behavioral patterns, the more control you’re going to have over your journey, and you’ll be able to keep the weight off for good once you lose it.

How Yo-yo Dieting Negatively Impacts your Muscles

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

As people age, there is a certain amount of lean muscle and function less that occurs during a process called sarcopenia. It starts in your 30s, and it picks up steam with every decade. Although this is a completely normal progression, there are a couple of actions you can take to either speed it up… or slow it down.

For example, being sedentary for a long period of time can give sarcopenia a boost, causing a loss in lean muscle mass when compared to someone who stays active.

And you know what’s another big fuel for sarcopenia? Yo-yo dieting.

Studies have suggested that weight cycling can have a horrible ripple effect on your strength and function. We’ve already highlighted how yo-yo cycles are tough on your health in a variety of ways (specifically your hormones, heart, and metabolism.)

Now, we can add muscle loss to that list.

In one of those studies, researchers have looked at about 200 people with a mean age of 52 and an average BMI of 38. They were basically categorized into three groups:

  • People who don’t cycle weight
  • People who cycle weight
  • People who cycle weight a lot (more than 5 cycles in their life)

Cycling of weight was defined as a voluntary loss of weight of more than 6 pounds, followed by an involuntary weight gain of the same amount… within a year.

Although using BMI as a measure has had some significant limitations, the actual point of the study was to examine the loss of muscle rather than just BMI averages. That means researchers have looked beyond the scale and average BMIs and have actually measured muscle strength through things such as handgrip exercises, bone mineral density, and percentage of lean muscle to fat mass.

They found that the more weight cycling someone did, the higher the risk of low muscle mass. The people who did not cycle weight experienced the least amount of muscle mass loss.

Basically, if the study participants had stayed at the same weight, even if they were technically overweight, they would have had less muscle mass loss. According to most experts, this is because of how the body tends to put that weight back on.

When you regain some weight, you’re almost always adding more fat than you usually had. This can be problematic for the people who lose muscle mass when they lose weight (which is something common with crash diets or significant calorie restriction.) When the weight comes back on, the muscle doesn’t come back with it.

What does this mean for you?

Most people hate adding more fat back on because of how it looks and feels. But what’s worse is how this affects your body.

Fat mass can actually prevent amino acids from working properly within your muscle tissues. Basically, you don’t synthesize protein as well as you would without the same amount of fat mass. This means your muscles aren’t getting what they need to maintain or build strength.

That can put you at a higher risk for a condition called sarcopenic obesity. And this can get worse and worse if the cycle of yo-yo dieting continues.

But here’s some more bad news: yo-yo dieting will tend to build up that fat you always regain easily in your midsection. This is called visceral fat, the more “dangerous” type of fat that wraps around your vital organs, and it’s directly linked to conditions such as stroke and heart disease.

With yo-yo dieting, you might think you’ll be putting on more time and energy into getting healthier, but you’ll only end up less healthy than you started.

Here’s what we can do about it:

Given the massive amount of evidence about the dangers of cycling weight – including it literally shortening your life – it makes sense that you would completely drop yo-yo dieting and focus on the slow-and-sustainable route instead.

Obviously, you should be focusing on just building good habits and staying within your calorie means, as well as tracking your progress with a journal or an app. But what you’re eating should be only one part of your overall plan for weight loss.

So not only should you drop yo-yo dieting altogether, but you should also focus on getting enough sleep, hydrating more, de-stressing, training your strength and endurance, and finally, just being patient. Stay away from episodes of cycling weight, but this will be much better for you and your health in the long term.

Journaling as the Number 1 Tool for Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether you’re someone already on a weight loss journey or you’re someone just making their first steps toward one, you should know one thing: research shows that tracking what you eat and journaling about your journey is one of the most effective tools you have at your disposal for making faster, more consistent progress.

In one study of over 1,700 overweight individuals that participated in a weight-loss program, the people who journaled about their progress lost twice as much weight as the people who didn’t record what they were eating.

Other studies that have followed people over shorter periods of time have discovered the same: keeping a food diary was a strategy that lets people hold themselves accountable when they’re on their journey. It also gives people valuable insights into how much they’re consuming and what eating patterns they’ve created.

But here’s why food diaries are really so effective when it comes to weight loss.

They hold you accountable. Unless you’re writing things down, you’re likely not managing your intake as well as you could. When you’re counting the calories for the day, you’re very likely to forget about the spoonful of nut butter you chugged down or the bite of your kid’s mac and cheese at lunch. Small things like that add up and a lot of us are mindlessly eating throughout the day – journaling helps us bring awareness into this unhealthy habit. And this is true regardless of whether or not you decide to incorporate counting calories into your journal or not.

The overall conclusion of a variety of studies is that people make healthier choices when they’re writing down everything they eat. Tracking their intake allows them to think twice about having that extra snack.

It also allows you to recognize trends. If you always take a bite of your kids’ food so you can encourage them to finish their meals, or if you always get a sugar craving around 4 p.m., these are all clear patterns you need to be aware of because they will end up creeping up hidden calories into your diet.

While they may seem insignificant, little bites here and there will make a huge impact in the long term. When you write down every bite you consume, you will start discovering new habits you never even knew you had.

So how do we journal effectively for weight loss?

To keep a productive food journal, you can either use a pen and paper or use an app to record everything you eat and drink throughout the day.

That being said, there are still a few tips you should know about making the most out of your journal:

#1 LOG INSTANTLY!

As soon as you eat something, log it. Don’t wait until the end of the day because you’re killing the whole point and you’re more likely to forget something. Plus, doing it at the end of the day means you’ll likely underestimate your portions. So log your portions after – or even before – you even consume them.

#2 DON’T FORGET THE EXTRAS.

If you want your food journal to be accurate, it’s vital that you pay attention to all the extras you might not think you’re including – the cream in your coffee, the dressing on your salad, the butter on your toast, etc.

These extras will make up for a lot of the calories you consume so never forget to include them and make sure you add tweaks into your diet, such as making your own homemade salad dressing or drinking your coffee black.

#3 LOG YOUR MOOD!

If you write down your mood before and after a meal, you’ll recognize some pretty interesting patterns. You might be one of those people that eats when they’re bored, tired, or stressed. Emotional eating is a big factor that prevents people from losing weight successfully. But logging can help you identify your cues and stop them right in their tracks.

The bottom line is…

It may seem kind of obsessive to log everything you eat, but once you get into the habit of doing it, it becomes so much faster and easier. And it’s without a doubt one of the best habits you can have when it comes to weight management and overall health. Armed with more information about your diet, you will find it easier to adopt healthier habits and achieve the results you’re looking for much, much faster.

3 Sources of Electrolytes You Need This Summer (and 3 You Must Avoid)

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

As soon as summer rolls around, many of us naturally gravitate toward sports drinks filled with electrolytes so we can prep for our outdoor workouts and summer hikes with the right nutrition.

But what exactly are electrolytes… and why are they so important to our health?

In this post, we’re going to break down the science behind these little powerhouses, and we’ll learn to find out if we’re short on them, which ones we should focus on, and which ones we should skip.

What are electrolytes exactly?

Electrolytes are minuscule minerals that go around your body and carry an electric charge. They’re vital to keeping your muscles flexing, your nerves firing, and your heart beating.

Everyone thinks that fluid is the numero uno in preventing dehydration, but these electrolytes are the secret sauce that maintains the fluid balance in and out of our cells… as well as efficiently deliver fluid to our muscles during exercise.

Essential electrolytes include:

  • Calcium and magnesium, which support your metabolism and muscles
  • Sodium, potassium, and chloride, which regulate your body’s fluid balance

When you start breathing faster and sweating a lot, all your electrolytes are lost. That’s why you have to replenish your stores by using the right meals and drinks to avoid these imbalances.

Naturally, this means you need more electrolytes in the summer.

Summer brings along hot temperatures, easily dehydrating you in a short time if you’re not consuming enough fluids and taking in the right nutrients.

When it’s hot outside, sweat simply can’t cool you off as quickly as you would like it to. Your body will get hotter, you will lose more electrolytes, and you will lower your fluid balance. As soon as you start getting dizzy, start cramping, or get a racing heart all of a sudden, you know you need to hydrate ASAP.

So how do we get enough electrolytes in and support our body’s natural fluid levels?

On your typical summer day, eating a balanced diet and drinking enough fluid is all you’re going to need.

But if you’re someone who likes to exercise in the hot weather or you plan to spend your day at the beach, you have to make sure you’re taking in more fluids and back them up with electrolyte-rich snacks.

Here are 3 sources of electrolytes that make it easy to maintain your fluid balance during hot summer workouts:

  1. SPORTS DRINKS

Studies have shown that milk will hydrate you better than water. But you don’t see a lot of people carrying milk at the gym. Sports drinks, on the other hand, are easy to carry around and packed with vitamins and minerals that aid your recovery and muscle growth. Just make sure you’re not choosing one that’s packed with unnecessary sugar.

  1. TRAIL MIX

Trail mix that’s salty and sweet is a classic snack for hikers. This is because it’s the perfect combination of electrolyte-rich foods. You have lightly salted nuts such as almonds, dried fruits like apricots and raisins, and sometimes even fruits inside your typical trail mix bag.

  1. PICKLED FOODS

Olives, pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi are some of the more lesser-known sources of electrolytes… but they’re awesome post-workout snacks. Since tomatoes are also a good source of potassium, experts recommend you regularly combine them with olives. Pickled foods are some of the best post-workout fuels when it comes to training in the hot summer weather.

On the other hand, there are a few overrated sources of electrolytes you definitely should be avoiding. If you’re an athlete training for optimal performance, avoid these:

  1. SPORTS DRINKS WITH TOO MUCH SUGAR

Some popular sports drinks contain more sugar than sodas. This can be okay for athletes but extremely harmful to the average gym-goer. Abundant in added sugars and artificial ingredients, sports drinks high in sugars are not necessary in most cases. Especially if your goal is to lose weight.

  1. ELECTROLYTE WATERS

Just like sports drinks, electrolyte waters (or gels) are generally not a good option for the average gym-goer. Unless you’re working out for hours or you’re training for a marathon, they have no use for you.

  1. COCONUT WATER

Coconut water is tasty, popular, and very high in potassium. But it’s low in some of the most essential minerals you need, such as chloride and sodium. It doesn’t really provide the optimal balance of nutrients that your body needs. And plus, the amount of electrolytes in the bottle could vary vastly based on how long the coconut has stayed inside the bottle.

5 Stretches for Common Sedentary Lifestyle Pains

male fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Everyone in the female and male fitness world is well aware that, in this age of constant digitalization and connectedness, many people spend the majority of their days sitting down and staring at phone screens and laptops.

This fact has only become more visible since the pandemic because the world quickly transitioned to a work-from-home culture that had us living and working in the same space surrounded by all our devices.

While this way of working has brought certain freedom and convenience, it has also become a pain in the neck – literally.

The fact is, if you sit for an extended period of time, you’re at a higher risk of developing bad posture (and things that are much, much worse.)

Poor posture, such as slumping in your chair, will often lead to chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain.

Not to mention, the long-term effects of a lifestyle of prolonged sitting can cause more than pains and aches… it can even lead to blood clots and increasing your risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. It will also cause you to gain weight and lose strength in certain muscle groups (specifically the glutes and legs.)

How can we avoid sitting too much?

Overall, it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to sedentary lifestyles. Doctors and experts around the world have devised a couple of ways you can keep yourself from the negative effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time.

  • If you’re talking on the phone, get up and move around.
  • Get up from your desk for a short period of time and walk around for 3-5 minutes.
  • Whenever you can, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Climbing the stairs is an awesome weight-bearing activity that benefits your bones, muscles, and heart.
  • Park farther away from where you are going so you get in some extra steps in throughout the day.

So how do we relieve the usual work-from-home pains if we already have them?

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, it can be difficult to avoid sedentary lifestyle pains entirely. Below, we’re going to talk about the five most common ailments people with sedentary lifestyles experience and how to relieve each of them accordingly.

Your wrists. Excessive typing causes a lot of people to deal with cramp ups in their wrists. To relieve this, all you need is a standing shoulder stretch to alleviate the stiffness and ease tension. Stand up straight and cross your right arm across your chest, all while holding your left hand for about 15 seconds. Repeat with your left arm across your chest, and each time you should feel less and less tension.

Your shoulders. Your shoulders will become stiff after a few hours of sitting on a computer. With a simple standing shoulder stretch, you can alleviate some stiffness and tension. Stand up straight and then cross your right arm across your chest and hold that with your left hand for up to 30 seconds.

Your neck. Neck rolls are some of the most effective and easy stretches for loosening your neck muscles. Just start with your head tilted slightly to the right side and then roll your head front and to the right and the left side. Perform up to ten rolls for each side or until you feel the tension relieved.

Your lower back. If your lower back is taking the damage from all that sitting, it’s likely going to be tight. Sit on the floor with both your legs in front of you… with your shoulders back and back straight. Simply cross your left leg over your right and your left knee bent upward. Then place your right arm on the outside of your left leg and simply twist your upper body left/right. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds and repeat for both sides.

Your entire body: Use the child’s pose stretch as it is one of the most versatile exercises that stretches not only for the thighs, but also the shoulders, hips, and back. Simply kneel on the floor with your glutes touching the back of your calves. Press your legs together and spread apart in a V. Then lean forward with your arms stretched so your abdomen will lay across the top of your thighs. Then inhale through your nose for up to 10 seconds and exhale slowly. Repeat this for about a minute.

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