5 Summer Weather Hacks for More Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know that usually, the search for weight loss hacks starts just before summer actually arrives because people are in anticipation of beach season.

But the warm weather months are also an amazing time to either get started or just revamp your weight-loss efforts. After all, we all have a thing for these mood-boosting summer days, nutritious foods and cookouts, and the countless opportunities to get outside for a fun workout.

That being said, we still have to stick to our healthy eating plan even when those summer barbecues are making it a little difficult.

That’s why today, we’re here to talk about 5 weight-loss hacks you can use to stay on track to your goals without missing out on all the fun and parties that come along with the hot summer days ahead.

#1 ALWAYS DRINK BEFORE YOU EAT SOMETHING

Any health expert will tell you fluid intake has to go up during hot summer months. That’s all the more true if you’re someone who is active in the outdoors.

However, sometimes this can lead to mistaking hunger for thirst, and you might end up eating a bunch when all your body needs is some hydration… and that’s not really helpful if you’re trying to stay on track with your weight loss goals.

That’s why we suggest drinking two cups of water before you sit down to eat a meal. This will keep you hydrated, and you’ll be much less likely to overeat. If you’re having trouble staying on track with your water intake, try using an app or calendar notes and remind yourself to stay extra hydrated.

#2 IT’S FRUIT AND VEGGIE SEASON… USE THAT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!

If you find yourself on a block party or a summer barbecue, don’t start dwelling on how you can eat less. Just focus on eating more of the good stuff! Why not make half of every meal a fruit or a veggie?

Summer staples include mangoes, berries, watermelon, corn, peaches, tomatoes, peppers… all amazing options that are both delicious and rich in vitamins, minerals, and much-needed fiber. And let’s not forget – natural sugars and fiber will help you stay full and keep those cravings at bay.

Here’s a review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that proves increasing your fiber intake can help you lose body fat in case you needed another reason to stock up on fruits and veggies this summer!

#3 PACK UP YOUR OWN SNACK BARS!

Whether you’re at the beach, the pool, a ballgame or a park, snacks from the concession stands are likely going to be packed with saturated fat and sodium. Why not save extra money (and calories) by making it a habit to pack your own little bag of healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, dried fruit, or nut mixes?

#4 DON’T FORGET ABOUT ICECREAM

When summer rolls around, we’re all tempted to stock up on ice cream pints at home. Instead, why not make ice cream more special by going out for dessert as a special occasion? (Bonus points if you end up walking there.)

If you’re thinking about stocking up on sweets, not just ice cream, remember to keep those portions in check and think small. Mini popsicles and mini ice-cream cones are all great options. If you have a toddler at home, make mini-muffins and aim to exercise the same portion control for yourself as you would for them.

#5 DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AN BLACKOUT YOUR ENTIRE BEDROOM

I can’t stress this enough. One of the most important hacks for losing weight in the summer is honoring your need for quality sleep.

If your social calendar is revving up this summer, you have to make it a priority to not sacrifice your sleep. Research has proven time and time again that sleep-deprived people eat more calories per day. This could be for a variety of reasons, but most experts agree it’s because your ghrelin and leptin levels (which are both hormones that regulated hunger and satiety) get disrupted when you don’t get enough sleep.

Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that the average extra calories a person consumes when they’re sleep-deprived is about 385 calories!

That’s why I always recommend, when the time to catch some Zs rolls around, keep distractions to a minimum and do your best to darken your bedroom with the help of light-blocking shades. Remember, in the summer, daylight hours are longer.

The 5 Most Eco-friendly, Sustainable Snacks in the World

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Have you noticed there seems to be a growing awareness among mainstream nutrition brands and consumers about how important sustainability is in the food system?

Understanding the practicality and versatility of foods and ingredients, and then reducing food and water waste, all play a significant role in the health of both our bodies and our planet as a whole… and everyone seems to be catching on to that.

Today, we’re not talking about sustainability as in foods you can easily implement into your diet. We’re talking about sustainability as in healthy to the ecosystem, easy to produce, and productive for the entire planet.

The snacks we’ve listed below are not only a great way to fuel your body… they’re a great way to care for the planet and its ecosystems.

Today, we’re here to explore some of the easiest, nutrient-dense ideas for delicious and sustainable snacks you can use to fuel your weight loss efforts and promote the sustainability narrative that’s becoming more and more important as the days go by.

  1. HARD-BOILED EGGS

Hard-boiled eggs are a weight loss favorite for many athletes since they’re some of the most convenient, budget-friendly, protein-packed snacks you can get. The egg industry has been working overtime to try and reduce the carbon footprint egg production is making over the last five decades. And they’ve done a great job with disease control, hen housing, hen feeding, and the reduction of natural resources required to produce them.

Right now, it takes about 2/3 of the water it took to produce a dozen eggs 50 years ago. And the greenhouse gas emissions of the egg industry has dropped by about 70 percent.

As an egg-lover, one of the best things you can do is to bet on locally-made eggs. Organic, certified humane, and pasture-raised are also things you should be looking out for on egg labels.

  1. POPPED WATER LILY SEEDS

Are you a fan of popcorn? If the answer is yes, now’s your chance to enjoy some popped water lily seeds. They’re basically a staple in the Ayurvedic culture and they’re a sustainable snack pretty much anyone can enjoy. Not to mention, cultivating lily seeds isn’t damaging to the ecosystem and few if any water lilies are destroyed in the picking process. They also come in different flavors – sea salt, white cheddar, chocolate, and more.

  1. PEANUTS

Responsible farming techniques are a big part of what makes food production sustainable. And since peanuts are basically a legume, they grow underground, unlike most tree nuts. This allows peanuts to have nitrogen-fixing characteristics that benefit the soil they once grew on and feed nutrients back to the soil, further helping the next batch of crops grow. This property allows them to help conserve fertilizer for further crop use.

Moreover, peanuts are extremely water efficient. They rely mostly on rainwater. And even though America’s agriculture industry accounts for about 80 percent of the average consumption of water, peanuts have a very low water footprint of about 5 gallons an ounce, way less than other nuts.

  1. ALMONDS

Yes, almonds require a lot more water to produce than the peanuts we talked about above, but almond farmers worldwide have been doing an amazing job cutting down on the quantity of water necessary to produce them. Few if any almonds go to waste during the production since the trees, shells, and hulls all have their own purpose and can be reutilized for other farming purposes. There’s also researching going on as you’re reading this that’s exploring the use of almond hulls for livestock bedding, mushroom cultivation, aquaculture, and more.

  1. LENTILS

I know what you’re thinking. Since when are lentils a snack? But just know this: lentil-based dishes and roasted lentils can certainly fit the bill for a healthy, delicious, and nutritious snack. They’re also very efficient when it comes to the amount of water that goes in producing them and they fertilize the soil where they grew just like peanuts because they absorb (and then use) nitrogen from the air.

You can pretty much whip up your own hummus from lentils instead of, let’s say, chickpeas or something. Certain brands also offer these dry-roasted lentils with premium spices and olive oil. Each of these pouches is biodegradable, resealable, and offers a nutritious and sustainable power snack with a minimal carbon footprint.

Can Eating Soup Help Your Weight Loss Efforts?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

With the weather cooling off in the Autumn and Winter seasons, you might be one of the people who rush in to start adding warm soups to their diet.

Not only are they easy to make, easy to consume, and comforting, but they can also be super nutritious if they’re filled with fiber-rich, low-calorie veggies.

They also have another massive perk: soups could actually help you lose weight, hydrate properly, and feel satisfied and satiated.

Let’s talk about the science behind soups…

Researchers have discovered that, when you start off your lunch with a serving of low-calorie, low energy-dense soup, such as veggie-filled chicken broth, you tend to eat 20 percent fewer calories than your usual lunch meal. And then, you tend to eat just as many calories as you otherwise would throughout the rest of the day instead of feeling ravenous and further trying to make up for the missed calories at lunchtime.

Over the long term, eating 20 percent fewer calories at lunchtime will help you a lot while you’re trying to achieve great weight loss results.

Experts suggest that, when you consume soup for lunch, you tend to eat the same amount for dinner mainly because soup is a really satisfying food. If you start comparing calories in and calories out when it comes to soup, or crackers, or another typical lunch meal, you start to realize that you’re going to get much more soup in your body at lunchtime because of the lower calorie density it has.

The water that soup contains gives you that volume, weight, and absolutely no additional calories… and just like other water-rich foods, it gives you more bang for your calorie buck.

Okay… but what’s the difference between soup and a glass of water?

If you want your meal to feel satisfying, the water needs to be cooked inside the soup itself… you won’t get that result if you just eat the ingredients and drink the glass of water separately.

Soup also provides your body with multiple signals of satiation:

  • When soup actually reaches your stomach, the volume of it starts stretching your stomach, helping your body release hormones related to satiety… indicating to your body that it’s full.
  • When you see a bowl full of soup, you’ll recognize you’ll actually be enjoying a pretty large amount of food.
  • Smell and taste are also vital contributors to satisfaction and satiety levels.

So how do we use soup to our advantage when we’re trying to lose weight?

Both clear soups and broth-based soups are amazing options for the first course of a meal. They tend to be lower in calories when compared to cream-based soups, pureed soups, chowders, and more.

There’s also egg drop soup which is a great example of a soup that’s both broth-based and low in calories, with approximately 66 calories for every cup that’s about 150 grams.

Other soups, such as potato soup, can contain up to 350 calories. What you should be looking for is something that’s high in fiber and contains lean protein so you’re getting the maximum satiety possible out of it.

If you do opt-in for chowders, cream-based soups, or bisques, they will serve you better as the main course of a meal rather than the first. If it’s your first course, however, look for one that has at least 10 grams of protein. Then, you also have bean-based soups, which are absolutely amazing because they’re both high in protein and high in fiber.

One thing you should be careful about, though, is the level of sodium inside your soups.

There’s, more often than not, a fair amount of salt added to these homemade soup recipes. And many canned soups are also high in sodium. That’s why you should consider replacing some of the salt that’s in your soup with other spices such as pepper.

If you do end up choosing a soup that’s pre-made, try to go for one that has less than 20 percent of your daily value of sodium per serving.

And finally, keep in mind that canned soups contain more than one serving and the amount of sodium that’s in there increases based on how much you consume. Other than tracking sodium levels, you have nothing to worry about – soups are an amazing meal that can aid your weight loss efforts like few others can.

Changing Up Your Workout After Achieving Your Weight Loss Goal

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

So… you’ve just reached your weight loss goal. What happens now? Well, maintaining these weight loss results is just one part of the equation, and that’s tricky enough in its own right.

And when it comes to changing up your nutrition plan, it’s probably a great idea to start adding some food back slowly that you might have restricted.

And at the same time, experts keep recommending that continuing your exercise routine for overall health is the best way to make sure the calories-in, calories-out equation is still working in your favor.

But as you move into maintenance mode, you don’t have to keep your workouts exactly the same. In fact, doing so will probably end up working against you. Changing things up will actually bring you massive advantages when it comes to maintaining your weight, adding more muscle to your frame, or moving forward toward your next fitness goal.

First, let’s start directing our attention to a new goal that’s not related to weight loss so you can keep yourself motivated. And second, when we start focusing on the types of exercises we actually want to do and enjoy, we’re going to set ourselves up for a lifetime of great fitness experience.

In the article ahead, we’ve outlined 7 science-backed workout tweaks you can apply to your exercise regime that will help you make the switch from weight-loss mode to weight maintenance.

Let’s take a look.

#1 SET A NEW PERFORMANCE GOAL

When you set a new performance goal, you have a new goal to chase and you will have a much easier time since you’ll be piggybacking off your recent success. You might want to try to hit a certain number of bodyweight pullups, pushups, start deadlifting your own bodyweight, or something else.

#2 DIAL DOWN YOUR WORKOUT VOLUME

When switching from weight loss to maintenance, the first step is usually to dial down your training volume. You’ll still spend some time working out, but you might either reduce the number of workouts you do per week or just the reps and sets you perform during your workouts. This will help this phase a little bit more sustainable both physically and mentally.

#3 DIAL DOWN ON YOUR CARDIO

This ties back to our previous point but reducing the number or length of cardio-only workouts you’re doing is the right way to go. Generally speaking, the first thing you want to do when you’re coming out of a calorie deficit is to reduce your cardio to roughly around 2/3 30-minute sessions a week. This change is mostly beneficial for the people who have been logging lots of cardio sessions in order to burn more calories. For those of you who like and enjoy cardio, keep it in there. Remember, your goal here is to make things more sustainable, so whatever works for you is best.

#4 FOCUS MORE ON BUILDING MUSCLE

Focusing on lean muscle gain is the most common post-weight loss goal. We work toward building muscle by lifting heavy starting at the 4 sets, 6-10 rep framework, and we often do a split routine to hit all the vital muscle groups. This means you might have lower body days, upper body days, push days, pull days, and focusing on building strength gradually to increase the amount of muscle you’re putting on.

#5 START TRAINING AROUND A SPECIFIC SPORT

Another way for you to mix things up and keep your workouts focused is to choose a hobby or sport that you really want to get better at. From there, you can actually start building a strength-training program around that sport. For example, golfers need more rotational core power, tennis players need upper body strength and mobility, and so on.

#6 PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ENERGY LEVELS

Moving out of your weight-loss phase means you’ll likely be eating more calories. This can be a plus for the people who love exercising but struggle with maintaining a high energy level… or the people who feel sore after workouts while in a calorie deficit. Most people will likely have more energy and recover better once they start eating more – if energy levels allow it and you’re feeling good after workouts, that might mean you can actually train more than you did when you were trying to lose weight.

#7 FOCUS ON WHAT FEELS GOOD

Some people who are switching from weight loss to maintenance mode might not have a specific workout goal in mind. They’re just happy, and they want to stay healthy and maintain their weight. In this case, you might want to keep it simple and focus on basic strength and mobility. Let your enjoyment of your workouts be what guides you, as well as how you feel before, during, and after your training sessions.

Losing Weight Quickly vs Slowly – What’s Better?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

You’ve probably heard that when it comes to losing weight and the process of weight loss in general, slow and sustainable is the way to go.

And that’s because most fitness and diet professionals (who actually know what they’re talking about) advocate for consistency and sustainability over the idea that you should just do a complete overhaul of your fitness and diet habits so you can reach perfection.

That being said, losing weight slowly – meaning in the range of 1-2 pounds a week – might not always be the best option for those of you looking for long-term success.

Here’s why.

There’s a case to be made for fast weight loss

For adequate weight loss, the energy you consume has to be lower than the energy you expend – a concept known as energy balance. This means you have to maintain a caloric deficit if you want to shed pounds. And the higher the deficit, the faster this usually happens.

You might have also heard that research shows people who lose weight fast are more likely to bring it back up. This is because when we lose weight, our metabolism starts adapting downward – so when weight loss is over, we have to keep eating less and less food to maintain this new weight. This is also why dietitians recommend the less “rapid” approach – so the body has a chance to gradually adapt to this new normal instead of shocking the body with something it can’t sustain.

However, there’s new and emerging research showing that, for some people, losing more than 2 pounds a week can still be sustainable.

And while this won’t apply to everyone, there are several reasons why some people who lose weight rather quickly can actually keep it off.

Experts have suggested that losing more than 2 pounds a week may also indicate that people have made extremely effective changes to their exercise and diet regimen. And what’s vital in those cases is that keeping up those healthy habits for months to come can be both effective and sustainable.

Not to mention, quick weight loss can be an amazing motivator to keep doing what you’re doing. Some people might give up prematurely on their weight loss goals because they are not seeing the results they want quick enough. But if someone sees their efforts are paying off – and paying off well – they will have all the more reason to keep going.

Furthermore, there’s research out there that points to the fact that quick weight loss improves bad cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin resistance, and insulin sensitivity way more significantly than slow weight loss. These positive changes to your overall health can make it easier to maintain that weight loss and sustain it.

Let me give you a scenario: there are actually times where someone might need life-saving surgery, and in order to perform that surgery, rapid weight loss is necessary. That being said, expediting weight loss under the proper care of a doctor is the best possible method.

But let’s be honest – even if you are losing weight quickly and it’s working out great for you, the key is in sustainability. It’s vital for you to find a weight-loss regime that not only works for you now but will work for you for the rest of your life.

And there’s also a case for the slow approach to weight loss

On the other hand, losing weight quickly could be successful in the beginning… but may fail to be sustained in the long term. People could initially lose a ton of weight (not a literal ton,) but then rapidly start experiencing burnout. That’s because the changes they made, like, for example, exercising more than usual or restricting their diet from certain food groups, can cause more harm than good. For this reason, people find that sustaining a smaller calorie deficit is much easier to accomplish in the day-to-day.

Moreover, rapid weight loss could also make you lose muscle, slowing down weight loss in the future. Slow weight loss, on the other hand, could potentially help you retain more of your muscle mass as you’re shedding fat. Lean muscle mass must be preserved as we age because, not only is it more metabolically active than fat tissue, but it also tends to be much, much harder to gain as we get older. Preserving what you have is vital.

To wrap it all up…

If you’re considering the fast lane route to weight loss, take a step back and think about where you want to be six months or a year from now. Do you want to continue eating fewer calories just so you can maintain your weight? If the answer to this question is a resounding NO, then you might find that the slower approach is the better option for you.

How To Not Gain Weight After Quitting Smoking

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Every smoker, whether they’re interested in weight loss or not, knows that quitting smoking is the right step for their long-term health. But in the short term, it surely doesn’t feel like it is. You’ll experience quitter’s flu, withdrawal headaches, fatigue, and not to mention, you might begin to gain weight quickly.

And as it turns out, you’re not going to be the first. Post-smoking weight gain is a real thing, and today, we’re here to talk about why it happens and what you can do about it.

Let’s get started.

FIRST… THE METABOLISM SHIFT.

When you smoke, you’ll experience a slight increase in your metabolic rate. When you quit, that rate naturally goes back down. If your calories go up with it, you know what the result is – weight gain.

Even though your metabolism might technically be better for weight control when you’re smoking, this doesn’t mean you still have good metabolic health overall.

There are several factors vital to metabolic health, including blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Smoking will negatively affect all of them… and impair your respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

You probably know that your heart rate increases when you’re smoking – one of the reasons why heart disease is the most common cause of deaths related to smoking. To compensate for this, you have to stay on top of your calorie tracking. Among other tactics such as strength training, aerobic workouts, meeting your protein goals, and more.

SECOND… THE HUNGER SPIKES.

A lot of smokers, when they stop, notice that they start getting hungry in a way they never did. They start craving carbs, starchy foods, sugar, and they end up chugging down snacks and pastas… salads and fruits simply don’t make the cut.

This happens because nicotine essentially binds to receptors in your brain that control your appetite. They then create a signal that communicates that you’re satiated even if you haven’t really eaten anything. Nicotine basically hijacks your hunger response… which is why countless smokers have less appetite after they vape, chew, or smoke.

Furthermore, some smokers are reluctant to quit only because they’re afraid they’ll gain weight if they do. But when it’s all said and done, we know the health benefits of quitting cigs make regulating your appetite and weight worth it.

You don’t have to just settle for being hungry all the time. There are countless strategies you can use and implement to tame that appetite spike, such as adding more fiber to your diet, eating meals on a regular schedule, eating more healthy fats, focusing on protein, and managing your relationship with food.

This brings us to our next point.

THIRD… REGULATING YOUR EMOTIONS.

Nicotine doesn’t just give you a buzz… it gives you comfort. Sometimes, this can be the result of habit – if you’re one of those people that reach for a sig when they’re stressed and turn it into a self-soothing behavior. But more often than not, it’s the nicotine itself and its mood-altering characteristics.

Recognizing this effect and then properly addressing it goes a long way toward quitting for good.

A good place to start when addressing these emotional challenges is to actually adopt some mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Deep breathing exercises, mantras, meditation, all of these could be ways to emotionally empower yourself and overpower the emotional urge to smoke.

And don’t forget – there are strategies you can use to prevent post-smoking weight gain.

Whether you’re trying to quit smoking or not, preventing weight gain begins with being aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. For this reason, food logging could be a great tool. Exercise is also a great helper because not only does it help you with that calories-in, calories-out fiasco, but it also helps you boost your mood.

The first step is always to start eating strategically, not just trying to eat less. Spend some time preparing food, buying food that’s local, and focus on nourishing and fuel rather than taste and enjoyment.

The empowering feeling you get from the self-care you practice through eating healthy is not just going to help you manage weight – it’s also going to keep you mindful and allow you to quit smoking easier because you’re paying attention to your emotional health.

For a lot of people, smoking is a source of stress relief and comfort. It helps keep their mood balanced. Without smoking, high-sugar foods and high-carb meals become similarly unhealthy substitutes.

That’s why you have to be mindful of the role tobacco plays in your life and use it to adequately combat this habit and end it once and for all.

7 Ways to Shift Your Set Point Weight Correctly

female fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Have you ever felt like your body is just hovering around certain numbers on the scale? No matter how much you try to clean up your diet or how much cardio you do, you can’t get the weight to move.

When it comes to weight loss, however, this is referred to as the set point weight theory. It suggests that the body will combat to maintain this specific weight range tightly regulated by your genetics and you have little control over that.

Set point weight is a theory that could, technically, be the result of evolution – wanting to hold on to excess energy may have allowed our ancestors to stay safe from famine. But it could also come down to the simple design mechanisms of the human body.

Your body works very hard to maintain a balanced internal environment. This means it’s constantly adjusting temperature, hormone levels, energy levels, and so much more. And just like your body sweats to cool you off, it might hold onto energy when you start cutting calories or working out too hard.

Sure, while you might be born with upper and lower set point ranges for your body weight, you still have the power to shift that and end up where you want to end up.

Here are 7 ways you can get started on the journey to doing exactly that:

#1 LOSE HALF A POUND A WEEK (OR AT LEAST AIM TO DO SO)

Fad diets that promise quick results are uncomfortable and largely unsustainable… they’re, in a way, build to backfire. The more rapid the changes you make, the more your body wants to fight back. To prevent this from happening, aim to lose a safe, healthy amount of weight every week and month.

If your body is getting the nutrition it requires to properly function, or just a little less than it’s used to, it’s going to be much more willing to finally let go of all that extra energy. This will help you lose more weight in the long term – and keep it off.

#2 FOCUS ON THE 5-10 PERCENT RULE

Research has proven that losing 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight is a smart approach. Losing more than 10 percent of your total body weight causes it to backfire and make it much harder to maintain weight loss results.

#3 LOG YOUR FOOD

Tracking what you’ve been eating is one of the most surefire strategies to lose weight. While monitoring your calories can help you notice if you’ve been overeating, it can also help you focus on your macronutrient breakdown.

Most people are shocked at how little protein they consume or how little fiber they’re taking in through their diet. Find ways to ramp up that protein intake.

#4 LOSE WEIGHT IN PHASES

If you want to lose 20 pounds, you need to first set that 5 percent goal. After that, try to maintain your new weight for a couple of months before starting another cycle of weight loss. This allows your body to gradually adjust to the new weight… and give you a psychological break from limitations you might be putting on yourself. The extra time taken might be worth it.

#5 THINK ABOUT PROBIOTICS

Changing your gut bacteria and their environment will help your weight-loss efforts and might change your set point weight. One recent review showed that probiotic supplementation has helped slightly reduce body fat percentage and body weight. If you’re thinking about supplementing with probiotics, or just eating more probiotic-rich foods, talk to your RD first.

#6 START STRENGTH TRAINING

Your basal metabolic rate is basically the number of calories your body burns while you are resting… meaning when you’re just sitting around breathing, sleeping, or fidgeting.

One way for you to shift your weight into a healthier range is to increase your BMR. Body composition is key here: muscle tissue will burn more calories than fat tissue, so you should be aiming to increase your muscle mass by doing compound movements that work multiple muscle groups at a time. This includes squats, pullups, deadlifts, and more.

#7 INCREASING YOUR NEAT

It’s a fact – the number of calories you will burn during your exercising is relatively small compared to the number of calories you burn through daily activities. The moment-to-moment calorie burn, also known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT,) can be a useful tool to propel you to your new set point weight.

When you’re losing weight and taking in less and less calories, you tend to subconsciously start moving less than your body wants to.

The fix here is to add more NEAT into your life… by taking the stairs, carrying groceries, working standing up, cleaning up around your house, and more.

How Our Sleep Changes as We Age

male fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

It’s a well-known fact that infants could sleep for up to 17 hours a day. And no, it’s not because they’re lazy babies, it’s because their bodies need it.

School kids require more sleep than teenagers, teenagers require more sleep than adults. And as we age, our sleep requirements change, along with our circadian rhythm – which dictates exactly when we feel alert and when we feel tired.

There are also countless lifestyle factors that change as we age, and they age an impact on our sleep.

If you’re someone who is still growing or you have a very demanding exercise or work schedule, your body will likely need more sleep so it can aid its growth and recovery.

And for a lot of people, aging is tied to sleep concerns, and these sleep issues are, in their own right, tied to a myriad of health problems from weight gain to heart disease… that’s why it pays to understand how sleep changes as we age.

How exactly does aging affect sleep – and why?

According to the National Library of Medicine, countless people experience more difficulty as they’re trying to fall asleep and trying to stay asleep, and as they get older, they wake up earlier in the morning. Overall sleep time could potentially decrease, even if the time in bed does not.

And yes, there’s a reason for this. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the circadian rhythm of the body experiences a “phase advance,” which means it shifts forward in time as we age.

This phase advance is typically experienced in the form of getting tired earlier in the day, waking up earlier in the morning, and more. It can also mean that older adults spend more time in the earlier hours of the day, in the lighter stages of sleep, and actually achieve less deep sleep throughout the night.

But even though people who are older may be getting less sleep, this isn’t because they’re wired to function on fewer hours of sleep. Older adults also require the same amount of sleep as young adults… roughly 7-9 hours every night.

How does our sleep change through the decades?

On average, you’re more likely to be a night owl in your 20s. Preferring the evening hours over the early morning is usual. You may potentially be struggling to function early in the morning which is basically a carryover from the post-puberty years of adolescence.

When we are young, we can technically get away with less sleep, but this absolutely changes as the years go by. More people develop a fondness for turning waking up early in the morning by the time they get to be 30 years old. Unfortunately, that’s when total sleep time starts to decrease for most people.

Our 30s and 40s are usually filled with demanding jobs, stress, family lives, career, and more. That’s why we tend to fall into much longer lifestyle patterns during these decades… with routines that are more structured. When those routines do not prioritize sleep, or don’t allow us enough rest every night, it can be difficult to break the habits that you’ve developed over the years.

It’s a well-known fact that the total amount of sleep we get decreases linearly as we age… with an average of 10 minutes of lost sleep per decade.

And what’s more… the way we sleep also changes. The percentage of deep sleep we actually get every night starts to decrease linearly with 2 percent per decade until the age 60.

In your 60s and beyond, the loss of total sleep time plateaus.

Sleep issues start presenting themselves in different ways for each gender.

There have been meta-analyses done of over 65 studies, and they’ve found that women are more likely to have trouble falling asleep as they age… but that being said, men are more likely to experience a shorter total sleep time, and to wake up more often during the night.

All that can actually seem a bit depressing, but there’s still hope for those of us who want a restful night’s sleep!

General wellness, sleep hygiene, a regular sleep schedule, avoiding late meals, limiting screen time, and winding down before you go to sleep can help you fall asleep much faster and enjoy much more restful sleep.

Considering that sleep is so vital to your health and wellness, making these adjustments is definitely worth the effort.

Here’s Why Men and Women Handle Stress Differently

male fitness

Hey Angels and Angels,

Have you ever noticed, for example, when looking at your mom and dad, that they’re rather inconsistent in their reactions when facing a difficult situation?

Men and women could experience stress in different ways, and respond to different stress triggers. According to the APA (American Psychological Association), women have more physical and emotional responses to stress than men.

While these stress reactions will ultimately play an emotional role, they can also translate to impact on their exercise, diet, and weight.

Stress leads to weight change…

That’s no secret to anyone. According to the APA, 45 percent of women and 40 percent of men say they’ve gained weight during the pandemic. On the other hand, 20 percent of men and 17 percent of women have reported that they unintentionally lost weight during the pandemic.

The reason? External stressors.

Some people consume comfort foods as a reaction to challenging circumstances, more often without even realizing they’re responding to anxiety-inducing situations. And the situation doesn’t even have to have anything to do with food.

The APA reported that many more women were actually leaving the workforce (and feeling more stress) in response to that work-at-home division of labor, likely feeling as if it were falling more on them. Sure, if you already had a plan for education or child care (and taking care of them wasn’t a part of your job description) the thrust falls upon you.

And other high-stress situations such as the pandemic could make females more likely to turn to food for comfort, or on the flip side, cause their appetite to significantly drop.

We often see women portrayed as emotional eaters on television and in the movies… with characters stereotypically chugging down pints of ice cream to soothe their feelings. But this behavior doesn’t just affect women.

Men can also be emotional eaters. Emotional eating is more of an association where we say, okay, this is how I will comfort myself or this is what I’m going to do when I’m bored. Whatever that emotional trigger is… the response is usually that person’s favorite comfort food.

Making yourself a priority…

Women can often find themselves in the role of the caregiver, whether they are looking after their partners, children, or parents. Men could also be caregivers, but statistics show two out of three family caregivers in the United States are women, likely leading to the increasing stress levels. If you’re in a position like this, you might want to find time for yourself and the activities you enjoy so you can have an easier time managing stress.

Even if you don’t have a lot of free time on your hands, a few minutes here and there, whether it’s for a walk, or a meditation, or a healthy meal… is really all you need to get yourself in a better frame of mind.

Doing things like this will decrease your desire to reach for junk food, spend unhealthy screen-time, or skimp on your workouts.

Making small, incremental changes in the places in which you spend the majority of your day can result in massive wellness rewards. This means that figuring out creative ways to change up your work environment (so it’s less stressful) could be one of the best things you can do to slowly adapt to a more stress-free way of life.

You might find it helpful to create new healthy rituals such as listening to podcasts, creating nightly routines, and reading more instead of checking your social media every night until you go to sleep.

Be more mindful…

Whether you’re a female or a male, practicing mindfulness will help you lower your stress levels – guaranteed. It will also help you focus on your exercise and diet. And recognizing what you’re actually doing (and how that differs from what you’d want) will help keep you away from emotional eating and responding to emotional stimuli.

Ask yourself this: when you begin to feel stressed, are you able to directly link it to something specific? If you keep a journal or log and you’re looking for those repetitive triggers and patterns, this could be the first step to deconstructing your stressors.

And always remember to leverage physical activity for releasing stress…

Both women and men undoubtedly benefit from exercising regularly. Physical activity is one of the most well-researched and proven ways to improve your mood and lower stress levels. Just be sure to watch out for your intensity level and not stress yourself further.

Remember that exercise is also a form of stress… and if you’re already stressed, you might not get many benefits from doing HIIT or going out for long sprints. Instead, use exercise as a way to release the stress you’ve built up instead of building on top of it.

How Badly Does Alcohol Negate Your Workout Gains?

male fitness

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you do your due diligence when it comes to fitness and weight loss, you go to the gym, you focus on your diet, and you lead a generally healthy lifestyle, you would think you deserve a glass of wine at the end of the day, right?

After all, you see countless endurance athletes (and then some) swear by beer as one of the greatest post-race recovery drinks… but why is that?

We’ve come together today to briefly explore the effects that alcohol has on you, your body, and your progress toward your fitness goals.

Let’s get started.

How does alcohol relate to your strength and performance in the gym?

Indulging in a 16-ounce IPA probably won’t instantly negate all the hard work you’ve put in inside the gym and outside of it… but it’s an odd pairing, for sure.

If your goal would be to improve your performance and increase your strength, your best bet would obviously be to limit your alcohol intake after you work out… or just eliminate it from your life entirely.

Alcohol is known to slow down the process of protein synthesis, and that’s the exact process that your body uses to aid muscle growth.

Not to mention, alcohol increases dehydration. If you’re often indulging in heavy drinking after you work out, like the men in this study done way back in 2014, the negative effects of alcohol on muscle-protein synthesis are something you should be wary of.

On the other hand, studies have shown that moderate drinking (with moderate being defined as one drink for women and two drinks for men) makes little to no difference on their actual recovery. You also have other factors in play here – how physically fit you are, how often you normally drink, when you drink, as well as how hydrated you are.

When it comes to the myth that drinking beer after a run or race has benefits because beer contains carbohydrates, you can pretty much forget about that. Beer doesn’t have nearly enough carbohydrates, or electrolytes, to make any measurable difference in your body’s recovery processes.

Sure, alcohol may not totally destroy your athletic performance… but when it comes to weight loss, it’s definitely prohibiting it at least to some extent. If you’re chugging down multiple drinks several times throughout the week, you are stacking on a ton of empty calories to your diet… which are, interestingly enough, hard to track.

Mostly, this type of drinking can further encourage other bad habits when you start reaching out for those late-night nachos or skimping on the sleep you need to optimally recover.

There’s a best-case scenario for you beer and wine-lovers…

If you wish to ensure maximum recovery even on a drinking day, it might be in your best interest to wait and have your cocktail only after you’ve properly rehydrated and refueled on much-needed protein.

If you’re only indulging in alcohol on special occasions, you should focus more on what you’re drinking rather than when. Typical cocktail ingredients include soda and juice, both really high in sugar, and they can effortlessly skyrocket your calorie count.

That’s why if you absolutely want to have a drink, you should focus on some light beer or vodka with a squeeze of citrus. And don’t forget, always have a full glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume so you’re balancing their diuretic properties.

If you’re someone who wants to indulge after a race or after your workout is complete, studies actually recommend drinking less than (or equal to) 0.5g for every kilogram of bodyweight. At this rate, it’s determined that alcohol is unlikely to impact most aspects of your recovery. This translates to a 140-pound athlete (or around 63 kilos) should drink about 5 percent ABV beer, or in other words, stick to less than two beers, assuming that each beer contains an average 10-15 grams of alcohol.

6 Gut-friendly Alternative Carbs for Weight Loss

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether you’re someone looking to lose weight or just maintain it, we all know how important it is to maintain a well-balanced diet that consists of all three major macronutrient groups: protein, fats, and carbs.

And while carbohydrates often get a very bad rap in the weight loss community, certain types of carbohydrates, especially those that contain resistant starch, can promote proper gut health and reduce inflammation (among other amazing benefits.)

What exactly is resistant starch?

Just like the name suggests, resistant starch is… well, resistant.

It resists digestion and absorption in the small intestine, and then travels to the large intestine where it can naturally be broken down and fermented by the bajillions of gut microbes that reside there.

So how does this benefit gut health exactly?

Resistant starch is another name for what we call prebiotics. Prebiotics basically serve as the food for probiotics. A gut that is heavily populated with the right type of microbes will have a much easier time regulating blood sugar function, as well as give you the added benefit of a stronger immune system that creates vitamins for the body.

When the bacteria in your gut start feeding on these prebiotics, they naturally produce specific fatty acids that then nourish the lining of your gut and strengthen your gut microbiome.

This lining is made up of just a single layer of cells which is like tile with grout in the middle. When your gut lining is nourished and resilient, it protects things from going in and out and escaping from your gut that, among other problems, can cause damaging inflammation.

How does resistant starch help with weight loss?

There’s this 2015 study published in the Journal Biomedical and Environmental Sciences that concluded that eating foods packed with resistant starch can reduce your overall calorie intake, lower your blood sugar levels, and increase satiety.

Sure, more human research is needed, but there’s another theory from animal research that consuming more resistant starch may allow the body to burn more fat.

When it comes down to it…

If you’re someone who wants to lose weight, improve digestion, decrease inflammation, and help manage your weight and blood sugar, you will need a certain type of diet… which most likely consists of plant-based foods that incorporate different types of starch, including resistant starch. These types of foods will also fit if you’re on a low-carb diet.

The right way to start is to incorporate some of the foods we’ve listed below in your diet. Keep in mind that certain probiotics can cause gas and pain in some people, especially those who have a sensitive intestine or experience irritable bowel syndrome.

Here’s a list of the foods containing healthy starch:

  • Oats

Raw oats contain way more resistant starch than their cooked alternatives. Try them either in no-bake granola bars, overnight oats, or just add 1 or 2 tablespoons to your morning smoothie.

  • Unripe Bananas

On their own, green bananas sure aren’t very delicious. However, you can try adding them to your morning smoothie or try roasting them for an enjoyable low-sugar snack.

  • Green Banana Flour

Easily found on Amazon, real green banana flour makes it super simple to add this starch into your favorite foods and meals such as smoothies or oatmeal.

  • Cold Potatoes or Rice

Research shows that after these carbs have been cooked and then cooled after, they contain more resistant starch. Try making them into a potato salad or add them into delicious burrito bowls.

  • Konjac

These trendy “miracle” noodles — also known as shirataki noodles — are made from a type of resistant starch native to the konjac root. Try using them as an alternative (and actually delicious) pasta noodle.

  • Tiger Nuts

The tiger nut is a root vegetable that’s rich in fiber. You can buy it pre-roasted so you can snack on it at work or throughout the day. Then use the flour in recipes as a replacement for traditional white flour.

Can You Walk Too Much for Weight Loss?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know you can get too much even out of the good things in life. Or at least anything we do too much has the potential to become a bad, or less good, thing.

And walking, just like all types of exercise, can become one of those things you can get too much out of.

At first glance, it might sound counterintuitive… too much walking? It’s really a strange question since every article you read online would likely encourage you to walk more, not less.

But if you’ve landed on this article, chances are you may have hit a point where you simply can’t walk anymore because you’re either not seeing the results you want or you’re feeling too stressed and can’t physically do more.

Unfortunately, those are both signs that you need to make a change. While walking isn’t something you can stop doing completely (for obvious reasons,) you may want to re-evaluate your approach and the place walking has in your training regime.

When does walking become “too much?”

While there’s no researched specific time cap on how long you can walk before it becomes a problem, there’s definitely a moment in which the will to walk becomes unhealthy.

In general, if you are someone just walking for their basic fitness, it would be extremely hard to overtrain yourself solely off of walking… provided you’re eating enough calories.

But if you’re walking for weight loss, this can become a little bit more obsessive. You’re entering into a territory where you’re stressing out your body and creating this dependency on walking as a way to burn off extra calories. If you catch yourself walking after every meal just so you can “burn it off,” this is a sign that walking could lead to negative consequences such as an altered metabolic rate or heightened cortisol levels.

If you’re a regular at the gym, you’re no stranger to the physiological “need” to exercise. And you know how difficult it could be to take rest days sometimes when you feel like you’re on a great roll with your training. But creating this dependency isn’t a good thing and shouldn’t be looked at as such.

Coming back to the “too much of a good thing” fiasco, experts agree – exercise is great for improving your fitness and boosting your mood but becoming dependent on it is treading on thin ice.

If you’re into long walks for your general wellness and fitness, great. But make sure you’re hydrating and fueling yourself properly if you’re walking for more than a couple of hours.

Here’s why you should walk FASTER… and not LONGER.

If you’re interested in losing weight the healthy way, walking for long periods of time might not be the best way to do it. Instead, adding some speed to your stride is the better solution.

Walking primarily burns fat for fuel. If you want to stay in a slow pace and not get into the higher aerobic zone (where you’re burning both fat and carbs,) then you’re not being as efficient as possible.

In reality, walking slowly might only burn fat (which is great and all,) but it happens at a much slower rate than you otherwise would burn calories if you picked up the pace. You’ll breathe a bit harder, sure, but your overall caloric burn will go through the roof.

The key is in the talk test: you should be able to hold a conversation while you’re walking, otherwise, you’re likely pushing yourself a bit too far.

And speeding up has proven to be better for your overall longevity, too!

Especially in the situations when walking more isn’t possible due to either time pressures or a less walk-friendly environment, speeding up and getting your heart rate up is an amazing option that’s also easy to incorporate in your life. Faster walking paces have shown to be associated with a much lower risk of all-cause mortality. Walk faster – live longer.

And finally, it’s important to remember that if you’re living a sedentary lifestyle, and you want to suddenly start doing lots of walking, you should first build up a regimen that slowly eases you into the duration and intensity you want so you can avoid potential risks and injuries.

It’s possible to both underdose and overdose on exercise and walking is no exception – build up slowly, don’t go too far, don’t become dependent on it, and you’ll have one of the best ways to burn fat mastered.

How Saunas Help You Live Longer and Maintain Heart Health

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Have you ever been to a sauna, be it for weight loss or just to try it out? Most likely, you have, seeing that almost every gym is equipped with one now. If you have been to a sauna, you know that just a few minutes of basking in that dry heat can help you relax your muscles, open up your lungs, and do wonders for your stress levels.

Because of these well-researched benefits, countless health enthusiasts are adding the sauna to their regular health and wellness regimen.

Not to mention, residents of Finland are way ahead of the game, with Finland being a country that has more saunas per capita than any other in the world… about one sauna per household! As it turns out… they’re really onto something.

The many health benefits of saunas!

There was a long-term study done by the University of Eastern Finland that basically looked at the impact that saunas have on cardiovascular incidents and overall mortality. What they did is they analyzed the frequency of sauna use among people who were middle-aged (about 2,300 people,) over the course of about 20 years.

They broke these people down into groups based on how often they used saunas:

  • One sauna per week.
  • 2-3 saunas per week.
  • 4-7 saunas per week.

What they found is that the more saunas they used, the better it was for their health.

A higher frequency of sauna use and sauna bathing was directly linked to a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal cardiovascular disease, fatal coronary heart disease, and pretty much all-cause mortality (which is absolutely huge.) Now that’s what we call compelling data.

Now, before you get the urge to move to Finland, or at least install a sauna in your house, there’s more we should talk about.

Building on this piece of research, there is a scientific review that looked at all the available trials and studies on saunas and their effects on cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular outcomes.

What they found was pretty similar to the research we talked about before. It furthered the case for adding a sauna to your health and wellness regimen.

The researchers, who were based in the UK and in Finland, noted that there is an emerging amount of evidence suggesting that bathing in a sauna had numerous health benefits, most notable of which was the reduction in the risk associated to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and countless neurocognitive diseases.

This research also showed that bathing in a sauna had numerous health benefits for conditions such as the common cold, and not to mention, certain skin conditions, headaches, and even rheumatic diseases.

But the most mind-boggling of all the findings was perhaps the fact that sauna bathing caused a reduction in all-cause mortality among participants.

Saunas… are basically kind of like a form of exercise.

Sure, sitting still in a very, very hot room isn’t the same as running a 5K or jumping on the treadmill for a couple of HIIT sprints. But luckily, sitting in all that steam might be doing way more than you believe.

That same scientific review that we talked about basically found that the physiological responses that bathing in a sauna generates somewhat correspond to those produced by moderate physical activity such as walking.

And once more, that’s some BIG data when it comes to health and wellness. But unless you believe that there’s a reason to stop exercising, the scientists have noted that exercise combined with saunas is such a powerful one-two punch for your cardiovascular health. When you’re keeping your fitness levels in a great overall medium, courtesy of strength training and aerobic exercise, bathing in a sauna can help you further by allowing you to leverage those numerous health benefits.

Saunas can be an added level of protection against the risk of cardiovascular disease… and pretty much all-cause mortality! If your local gym has a sauna, or you have one in your home, it might be an excellent idea to include it in your wellness regimen.

If you’re already exercising, make sure to keep it up. If you’re not exercising, do your best to start. But regardless of which step you’re at in your wellness journey, there is growing evidence that sauna sessions translate to big health benefits… make sure to use that to your advantage.

You Blew Through Your Calorie Budget: What Now?

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know that lasting change starts by developing small, sustainable habits that turn into a lifestyle. Like sipping on water throughout the day, exercising, cooking more at home, and more.

But still, we’re only human – it’s natural for slip-ups to happen on our quest to lose weight and improve our dietary habits.

But still, on the days you overeat, one of the worst things you can do is to throw in the towel and start beating yourself up. That’s why we should remember that consistency always outperforms perfection… and all the missteps are just a part of the process.

Here are a few tips on what to do if you find yourself in the middle of the day with 0 calories left to enjoy for that day…

#1 MAKE A HEALTHY, WHOLESOME MEAL

One meal (or one day) of overeating will not have a massive impact on your progress. But if that day turns into a week, you’re in trouble. Instead of automatically tossing the towel and telling yourself you’ll start over tomorrow, start by chugging down a few nutrient-dense foods at your next meal. The whole day or week will not be a wash if you indulge a little bit… just make sure you get back on track as soon as possible.

#2 DON’T BE NEGATIVE

Yes, you slipped up. What’s next? Shaming yourself? No – what’s next is refocusing on the reason you’ve set your goals in the first place. Are you training to look stunning? Or are you training for a marathon? Do you want to just be healthy while you chase your grandkids around? Remind yourself that your journey will be filled with peaks and valleys… so keeping a positive attitude is key.

#3 ALWAYS TURN TO FRUITS AND VEGGIES

If you find yourself effortlessly sailing through your calorie budget, and this is happening on a regular basis, you’re likely not consuming enough fruits and veggies. That’s the bottom line. If you’re feeling light on produce, do your best to recalibrate and make sure every meal or snack you consume manages to get in at least one fruit or veggie… which are generally high in fiber and low on calories, helping you keep your blood sugar stable. This goes a long way to keep those cravings at bay.

#4 DON’T GO DOWN THE SPIRAL

You can’t just promise yourself “this will never happen again” and call it a day… it probably will happen again. There’s always going to be that day where you take on that extra piece of cake or slice of pizza. But blowing through your calorie budget doesn’t really say anything about you and who you are as a person – that’s why it should not dictate you and your emotions or allow you to shame yourself. Don’t punish yourself if you feel bad about overeating. It’s not the overeating that will keep you from progressing as much as the negative thoughts and must then be fueled by more comfort food. Don’t go down that spiral.

#5 ASK YOURSELF HOW YOU’RE FEELING

Emotions are often directly linked to food. That’s why it’s always helpful to address how your food choices are impacting your life choices. One way to do this is through journaling, and another way is to just sit down and write down how you’re feeling after each meal you consume. Try to think of some non-eating ways you can make yourself feel better when feelings of anxiety and stress arise. Take a break, take a walk, do some meditation, phone a friend, anything that doesn’t involve empty calories.

#6 EXERCISE!

We’ve already talked about how you can’t just burn off the calories you consume the same day you consume them. But instead of sitting on the couch on your overindulgence day, make sure to prioritize your movement. This doesn’t mean you have to do anything intense, just enough exercise to boost your mood and get you through your slump. In turn, you’re going to feel better about going back to your healthy habits.

#7 THINK ABOUT IT… HOW OFTEN DO YOU EAT?

Examine and strategize on your calorie budget… are you eating often enough? Are you eating enough? Are you eating too much? If you’re consuming about 3 meals a day with 1-2 snacks in between, you’re in the golden medium for optimal metabolism. But if you find yourself thinking about food all the time and you start feeling cranky and tired a few hours after a meal, there could be signs that you’re developing a bad relationship with food that won’t support your weight-loss goals.

5 Types of Fish You Can Eat for Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

It’s no secret to anyone that fish is a great addition to a healthy, balanced weight loss diet – granted you choose the right kind and preparation.

Most fish are very high in protein but contain a minuscule amount of calories when compared to other protein sources such as beef or poultry. Protein is also great for increasing satiety and preventing overindulging in or between meals. They’re also high in healthy fats and loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, all vital nutrients that promote heart and brain health and help you manage your weight.

That being said, one thing we can’t forget to mention is that adding seafood to your diet won’t directly lead to you losing weight. However, incorporating nutrient-dense options into your balanced diet and committing to a regular exercise routine will propel you toward your weight-loss goals… fish is just one way to achieve that balanced, nutrient-rich diet.

Here are 5 nutrient-rich types of fish you can instantly add to your weekly meal plan:

#1 CANNED TUNA!

Canned tuna hits the perfect weight loss meal plan trifecta… it’s versatile, it’s healthy, and it’s affordable. Tuna canned in water is one of the best protein-rich options for those of you looking to lose weight. However, it still keeps the calories lower than most chicken options when you compare the same portion sizes. For a 3-ounce serving of tuna, you have about 70 calories, whereas 3 ounces of grilled chicken would equal to about 120 calories on average.

Canned options also provide a long shelf life and can be incredibly convenient when thrown into simple and quick meals. Just make sure you’re one of the people who buy light tuna, since it’s considered a fish low in mercury. When you mix it with avocado and spread it on top of toast or even apple slices, you’re in for a healthy and delicious meal that racks up your protein intake like *snap* that.

#2 SARDINES

Sardines are one of the unspoken champions of seafood (and weight loss.) These small fish are often overlooked, but they’re still an inexpensive and delicious option for those looking to rack up their protein intake. A can of sardines, which is about 4 ounces, contains 25 grams of protein and about a third of your daily calcium needs. They’re also rich in vitamin D and iron, helping you decrease inflammation throughout the body through their omega-3s (which is vital when trying to lose weight.) And they’re rather low on the food chain which means they contain fewer contaminants such as metals and mercury.

#3 SALMON (wild-caught)

When salmon is wild-caught and not one of its farmed varieties, you’ll find that it’s much more flavorful. Salmon is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein – three ounces of wild salmon contains about 23 grams of protein for about 150 calories, which keeps you satiated and helps you preserve lean muscle mass.

For an easy, healthy, and delicious meal containing salmon, top a bed of seasonal veggies with a serving of baked (or smoked) salmon.

#4 COD

Cod makes for an excellent addition to any weight-loss meal plan because of its impressive nutrient profile (and a rather mild flavor.) A standard serving of cod has about 20 grams of protein at just 90 calories, helping you stay satiated and manage your weight more easily.

And did you know the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in which they found that people who consumed cod at lunch consumed 10 percent less food at dinner when compared to people who consumed beef for lunch?

And another similar study discovered that people who ate five servings of cod per week lost 4 more pounds compared to people who consumed the same amount of calories but without seafood?

#5 HALIBUT

If you’re looking for a simple, delicious, and nutritious meal, one of your easiest go-to choices is frozen fillet of white fish such as halibut. A 3-ounce serving of halibut can supply your body with about 20 grams of protein at just 90 calories. Not to mention, it’s packed with nutrients such as magnesium, selenium, and vitamin B12.

And let’s not forget, white fish is less oily than, let’s say, salmon, for example. It can be baked without thawing which makes it very easy (and fast) to cook.

5 Ways to Sneak More Protein in Your Breakfast

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether or not you’re one of the people who count their macros, we all know that if we want to lose weight or gain muscle, the key is in getting adequate protein to satisfy our body’s needs.

And you’ve also probably heard that it’s important to include it in every meal – skimping on protein all day long and then just forcing yourself to eat a big steak for dinner isn’t going to be the same as getting your proper protein in throughout the day with meals and snacks.

As it turns out, it’s especially important for you to get enough protein in the morning. With a protein-rich breakfast, you won’t only feel satisfied with your morning meal, but you’ll also be keeping hunger at bay for the majority of the day, eliminating any cravings and staying satiated.

How much protein you need is going to vary based on your height, weight, exercise regime, health status, everything. But a general guideline is that healthy, active adults should aim for about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight every single day.

When it comes to sneaking enough protein in your meal, breakfast can be your biggest challenge of the day.

Sure, eggs are an easy and delicious option, but if you want to make sure your meal is packing an adequate amount of protein to keep you full and on track with your goals…

Here are 5 ways you can add more protein to your breakfast without much hassle:

#1 POWER UP YOUR SMOOTHIES

Smoothies are one of the best ways to sneak in some veggies before noon… but they’re also a great and easy vehicle for protein. As long as you’re okay with dairy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t add some Greek yogurt or even cottage cheese to your morning smoothie – they’re going to thicken the smoothie and make it much more creamy, and it’s not going to add any unnecessary added sugar to the mix.

Nonfat Greek yogurt can even add a little bit of flavor to fruity smoothies, and a simple 6-ounce serving packs about 100 calories for 15 grams of protein. And nonfat cottage cheese can add to your berry-based smoothies and make them taste like cheesecake… all with the added benefit of 20 grams of protein and 120 calories for every 6 ounces you put in your smoothie.

#2 TRY SOME OVERNIGHT OATS!

Oats, whether they’re stovetop or microwave, are a great source of fiber and healthy carbs. But they often lack in the protein department since they’re made with just a tiny bit of milk or just water. But overnight oats that are usually made with Greek yogurt will give them a whole new mixture and flavor with its satisfying, pudding-like consistency.

With a simple, yogurt-based recipe for overnight oats, you can rack up 20 grams of protein at breakfast… and not to mention, it’s super easy to switch out different nuts, seeds, and fruits until you get the taste you need while the Greek yogurt does all the protein packing you need.

#3 PROTEIN POWDER!

There are many people out there who just don’t like protein powder. And that’s okay! But if you’ve found one you like, you have the perfect addition to any oats or smoothies you eat at breakfast without any actual effort on your part. The trick here is to pair your protein powder with very flavorful ingredients so there’s no distinct taste in every sip… or bite.

And for those of you who enjoy their extra expresso or dose of caffeine in their breakfast, coffee-induced overnight oats can pack a whopping 20 grams of protein with a really distinct coffee flavor.

#4 LIQUID EGG WHITES!

If you’re someone who swears by their morning bowl of oatmeal, this is for you: start cooking your stovetop oatmeal just like you normally would, then remove it from the stove and stir half a cup of egg whites for every cup of oats you have. Once you gently add the egg whites, put everything back on the stove (on low heat) and stir until the mixture becomes thick. The egg whites won’t change the flavor, however they’ll add a fluffy texture to the whole thing. There’s no need to say this, but we’ll say it anyway – egg whites are pure protein.

#5 YOU CAN EVEN TRY TOFU!

If you’re looking to shake up your breakfast rotation, or you’re just vegan, scrambled tofu is an awesome substitute for eggs and it even has a similar consistency.

If you add veggies just as you would to your morning omelet and swap the cheese for a sprinkle of tofu, you’re going to get that protein boost you need for a fraction of the calories of usual cheddar or Parmesan.

10 Habits that Slow Your Metabolism

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whether you weight loss lovers realize it or not, getting older is not the only reason your metabolism can slow down. According to a review in the Public Health Nutrition Journal, getting older is associated with progressive declines in basal metabolic rate. And on top of that, you have countless daily habits that ultimately drain your metabolism even further.

That’s why today, we’re here to talk about 10 habits you need to watch out for if you want to improve your energy levels and keep your metabolism in check.

#1 SKIPPING BREAKFAST

A nutritious breakfast is by far the best way to start your day in terms of health management. Your metabolism slows down while you’re sleeping and eating after you get up can immediately boost it up and allow you to burn more calories throughout the day. When you eat breakfast, what you’re telling your body is that you’re expecting a lot more calories to come in through the day. When you skip breakfast, you put your body in a conservation mode instead of burning any incoming calories.

#2 TOO MUCH SITTING!

If you’re one of those people that goes from their bed to their office chair to the couch at home, you’re probably no stranger to the term sedentary lifestyle. If you sit for extended periods of time, you’re putting your body into energy-conservation mode, slowly killing your metabolism. This also affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, break down body fat, and manage blood pressure.

#3 NOT ENOUGH PROTEIN

Protein isn’t just a muscle-building, satiety-promoting nutrient. It’s also vital for sustaining healthy weight. When you consume too little, you’ll have trouble maintaining and building muscle mass – and we all know how important that is for your metabolism. Not to mention, protein requires more energy to break down than fat or carbs, so you’ll end up burning more calories purely through digestion.

#4 NOT HYDRATING ENOUGH

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a study in which researchers discovered that drinking 500 milliliters of water increases your metabolic rate by up to 30 percent for almost an hour. Drink water throughout the day so you can stay hydrated and you’ll even get that extra benefit of a boosted metabolism.

#5 TOO MUCH STRESS

When your stress levels increase, so does your body’s production of a hormone named cortisol. Higher cortisol is linked to an increased appetite, decreased desire to exercise, comfort eating, reduced sleep quality, and more – all things that negatively impact your metabolism. While stress levels are something rather hard to deal with, managing them can help you come a long way toward protecting your metabolism.

#6 REFINED CARBS…

If you’re someone who loves pasta or white bread, you should know this could be leading you to a slower metabolism. Research has shown that people who consume the most refined carbs end up burning fewer calories and have higher rates of the ghrelin hormone; the hormone responsible for managing hunger and satiety.

This happens because refined carbohydrates turn into glucose very quickly; blood sugar is used for energy by the body but when it’s not utilized, it immediately goes into your fat stores.

Carbohydrates are a vital source of energy, though skipping refined carbs in favor of unprocessed, fiber-rich carbs will be one of the best choices you can make for your diet.

#7 NOT ENOUGH DAIRY

Some interesting research published in the journal Nutrients discovered that people with higher intakes of cheese, yogurt, milk, and similar dairy products have the lowest rates of obesity. This is essentially a part of a bigger study on the relationship between dietary calcium and energy metabolism regulation, but it serves as a pointer toward the fact that dairy products are great metabolism boosters.

#8 SLEEPING IN A HOT ROOM

Did you know that sleeping in a cold room – either by turning down the heat in the Winter or leaving the A/C on running in the Summer – actually leads to increasing levels of “brown fat” which generates internal heat and helps you burn calories? According to research, the best room temperature is around 19ºC.

#9 NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP

Even one night of bad sleep is enough to have you feeling sluggish and lacking focus. Imagine stringing a few of those nights together in a row – or a lifetime of inadequate sleep – and you’ll learn why science shows sleep deprived people experience hormonal imbalances and a decreased metabolism.

#10 TOO MUCH FAST FOOD

Not only will ordering a burger with fries at your local drive-thru add a ton of extra calories to your day but it may also cause your metabolism to slow down. Due to the high fat content, this food takes longer to digest, and this can slow down your metabolism… while stress can compound this problem. Studies have shown that women who experience at least one stressor in the last 24 hours have burned around 100 calories less after eating a meal containing 900 calories than the women who were not stressed. That small difference adds up to 11 pounds of weight gained/lost every year.

How to Start from Ground Zero with HIIT

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

High-intensity interval training (or HIIT, for short) is a very, very, very popular form of exercise especially in the weight loss community that basically alternates short periods of intense exercise with short recovery periods.

It’s specifically prevalent among people who take studio classes or go to on-demand workouts, though HIIT can also be performed by yourself, at home or at the gym. Because these intervals burn a ton of calories per minute, they’re often the go-to for people who want to lose weight because they’re more intense than steady-state exercises such as walking or jogging.

HIIT is super versatile, anyone can do it, and anyone can benefit from it, whether they’re a newbie, a pro, young, old, experienced or inexperienced.

But with “high-intensity” being the core principle of this workout method, you definitely don’t want to be diving in and overdoing it.

Here’s how you can get started with HIIT the right way…

There are countless benefits to high-intensity interval training workouts, but they can also be rigorous, intense, and even stressful on the body, especially if you’re someone new to working out or someone new to HIIT in general.

That’s why if you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with short, intense bursts of exercise, you have to take it slow and ease into these workouts. Regardless of your exercise regimen, you have to remember the key is in finding a workout type that is enjoyable and sustainable… don’t burn yourself off by going too hard on your first HIIT workouts, absolutely nothing good will come from that.

HIIT beginners can definitely benefit from learning the ins and outs of HIIT at in-person classes or by taking an online program by a trainer who’s actually trustworthy. This will help you become more familiar with the moves, intensity, and overall format of this exercise method. Still, you can check your local area for classes or get in-person sessions with a trainer at well-regarded gyms.

When it comes to HIIT, there’s a very fine line between pushing yourself and pushing yourself way too far. If you’re new to HIIT, you need to have some (at least minimal) guidance so you don’t end up hurting yourself or setting the wrong habits… but this goes with any exercise method.

Create your HIIT beginners’ schedule…

If you’re not used to it, high-intensity interval training can put enormous stress on the body. We always advise beginners to space out their workouts and basically limit the number of sessions they do per week until they get to a point where HIIT feels a little bit more comfortable. This allows their bodies to adequately recover and learn from the intense sessions they’re being put through.

Sure, working hard and training your body to become stronger is the overarching goal of the whole journey, but you can’t just go out there training without the proper care taken. Recovery is just as important as working hard. Recovery will allow your body to reduce soreness, prevent overtraining, and avoid injury. Not to mention, you’ll give yourself the time you need to adjust as you incrementally start placing more and more stress on your body with every next workout.

As you’re getting started, you should be aiming for no more than 3 days of HIIT per week. You can also build in a couple of active rest days, cross-training, or even light resistance training to fill out your week. But you should, without a doubt, give yourself 1-2 days of rest each and every week to help your body adapt and recover. This will also ensure you’re getting primed for HIIT each session… so you can work harder and achieve the results you’re really looking for.

SIMPLE, SAMPLE WORKOUT

Need some inspiration to get started with HIIT? Here’s a sample workout, as well as a pretty general plan you can use to build your week around HIIT.

Use this as your starting point, then add and amp up your training as you adapt and get stronger.

MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, AND SATURDAY – HIIT

Perform each of the exercises below in 30-second intervals, all while doing 30 seconds of training followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat this circuit 5 times for a 25-minute workout that evaporates fat, skyrockets your endurance, and helps you burn a ton of calories.

  • Squats
  • Mountain climbers
  • High-knees
  • Skater jumps
  • Treadmill sprints or plank jumps

TUESDAY/THURSDAY – LIGHT ACTIVITY

Anything can go here. Light cardio, cross-training, weight training (if it’s not too much,) active rest, walking, bike riding, anything that gets your heart rate going without too much added stress on the body.

FRIDAY/SUNDAY – REST

Spend these last two days resting, recovering, and relaxing. You’re definitely earned it.

Do You Feel Hungry All the Time? Here’s Why.

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When you’re on a weight loss journey, it’s easy to start seeing hunger as a bad thing. And while it’s surely an inconvenient feeling, it’s as innate as the need to yawn.

Hunger is a crucial biological signal, and to understand what this means, we have to refresh our understanding of the autonomic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is made up of our sympathetic nervous system and our parasympathetic nervous system. While the first controls our body’s response to threats, the latter is our body’s counterbalance that returns the body to a state of calmness.

Our bodies need (and want) to spend some time in that “rest and digest” mode for the ANS and SNS to properly function. During this mode, your heart rate decreases, your blood pressure lowers, and digestion and absorption are greatly increased.

As a result, you probably won’t feel the need to eat all throughout the day. Most people feel at their best when they consume smaller meals more often.

If you find yourself feeling hungry throughout the day, here are a couple of reasons you could be experiencing this:

#1 NOT ENOUGH FIBER OR PROTEIN

It’s no secret to anyone that we all need macronutrients like protein, carbs, and fat regardless of whether or not we’re trying to lose weight. And we should all know that not all calories have a similar impact on satiety.

While carbs are great for providing quick energy, nutrients such as protein and fiber are great for sustaining energy. Studies published in the Nutrition Journal discovered that high-protein snacks are directly linked to reduced hunger and higher satiety. It’s a well-known fact in the fitness community that high-protein or high-fiber foods are great for generating satiety due to the slow breakdown and release of energy from those foods.

#2 EATING TOO QUICKLY

Rushing through meals is sort of common for a lot of people, but this makes it hard to register feelings of satiety and fullness. That’s why you always have to make it a priority to slow down.

If you tend to just devour your meals and snacks as soon as you get them, you should try consciously allocating a specific amount of time to finish your meal.

Include small sips of water between your bites, and also reflect on your fullness level after each and every bite. Use all of your five senses and allow yourself to enjoy your meal – always check in with yourself and ask yourself “how does this taste?” “do I enjoy the texture of this meal?” “Is it satisfying my needs for the moment?”

You’ll likely find that you feel full much sooner than you thought (and not to mention, you’ll feel satiated for longer.)

#3 YOUR HORMONES ARE OUT OF BALANCE

If you’re in a state of constant daily stress, the hormone cortisol (linked with stress) rises, causing an increase in appetite. And not to mention, stress eating usually causes people to reach for foods that are more palatable, such as refined carbs and sugary foods.

Don’t forget to always line up some other coping mechanisms to help you deal with stress aside from just eating – exercise, talking, journaling, meditation, reading, anything but not stuffing yourself with empty calories.

#4 YOU’RE EXPENDING MORE ENERGY THAN YOU ACTUALLY REALIZE

A mismatch of energy levels will often lead to increased (or constant) hunger. If you’re exercising more, whether it’s at longer durations or higher intensities, your appetite will likely increase because your body will be trying to burn through more calories than usual.

Other life changes and lifestyle tweaks could also lead to increased energy needs. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, chasing kids around, got a new job, taking daily walks, pretty much anything could be an unrealized energy expender that boosts your calorie needs.

#5 YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP

Sleep plays a significant, or rather vital, role in regulating your hormones. As we mentioned above, not managing your hormones properly will lead to cortisol skyrocketing alongside your hunger levels. Short sleep durations are also linked to elevated levels of ghrelin, one of the key hormones in regulating appetite. Furthermore, they’re also linked to decreases of leptin, the satiety hormone.

What does this mean? It means that when you’re short on sleep, you’re more likely to feel hungry and crave refined foods. That’s why you should take some time to develop a healthy sleep schedule and avoid alcohol and heavy dinners before bed so you can make sure your digestive system is doing efficient work and that you’re getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep that keeps your hormones in check.

7 Healthy Foods that Aren’t That Healthy

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know that the quest to maintain a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet can be difficult and confusing – especially with all the food labels marketed as “healthy.”

But next time you’re trying to make an educated choice about what to buy from the grocery store for your next meal, you should remember this list of 7 foods that mask themselves as healthy yet can actually sabotage your weight-loss goals and kill your progress. And, when you’re in doubt, always scrutinize the labels and make your own versions of those meals at home.

Here are our picks for the foods that are healthy, but only sometimes…

#1 GRANOLA!

When combined with healthy ingredients such as rolled oats, dried fruit or nuts, granola might fool you into thinking it’s a pretty healthy meal. But the danger lies in all the sugar levels and mismatched portion sizes. You always have to make sure you’re checking the nutrition labels at the grocery store so you can opt for a brand that has the least amount of added sugars. After that, stick to the portion size suggestions – it can be very easy to overindulge if you’re not being extra careful.

#2 NUT BUTTER…

Just like granola, countless nut butter brands (especially the ones that claim to be all-natural) have a ton of added sugar, trans fats, and other ingredients counterproductive to your weight loss efforts. When you are reaching out for a protein-rich spread you can use for your toasts or breakfasts, always remember the number 1 rule that nut butter should generally just contain 1 ingredient: nuts. You can also try to make your own and customize it however you want it.

#3. WHITE BREAD!

White bread is super tricky. Especially when you’ve got countless options on the grocery store aisle, bread can be difficult to deal with. Most whole-wheat bread is actually FAR from whole wheat. Unless the package explicitly says “100% whole-wheat,” the bread is probably just white bread with some wheat flour sprinkled in. When you’re looking at white bread labels, make sure you grab one without sugar alternatives such as corn syrup.

#4 SALAD DRESSING!

Let’s get one thing straight – store-bought salad dressings are jam-packed with preservatives, added sugars, and salt, which is a recipe for weight-loss disaster. Their high calorie count can literally cancel out the fact that you’re eating a salad and turn it into a calorie bomb. When it comes to salad dressing, this is one thing we believe you should always do your best to make at home and mix up for yourself. There are plenty of simple, delicious, and healthy salad dressing recipes that won’t skyrocket your calorie intake. When in doubt, just use some olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and salt… and shake it! It’s tasty, simple, and actually healthy.

#5. GLUTEN-FREE SNACKS.

Every time you’re purchasing a snack that is altered to be gluten-free, you are essentially stripping away a big part of its taste and texture. When this happens, something has to pretty much make up for that loss… and brands usually choose sugars and chemicals. If you’re genuinely intolerant to gluten, then these will be the better option overall, but if you’re not… they’re definitely not as healthy as they seem.

#6. SMOOTHIES.

Yes, some smoothies are actually great for you – the ones that are properly portioned and contain only real fruit and veggies. But then, there are smoothies packed with sugars and unnecessary additives. Popular brands and chains often use sugar-packed yogurt or ice cream as a base for their smoothie which makes their calorie count go through the roof. That’s why you should always be sure to ask for the full list of ingredients when you’re ordering, or better yet, just make your own smoothies at home.

#7. ENERGY BARS.

If that’s all you’ve got time for, an energy bar can be a delicious and healthy option for fitting inside your macros. However, when the grocery store has way more brands than you could ever hope to count, it’s time to go deep on exploring the label. Many mainstream protein bars are full of trans fat and sugars, meaning you’re much better off eating whole foods after you’re finished with your workout. When you’re in a hurry, look for the energy bar with the shortest ingredient list… one with ingredients you actually know and can pronounce.

5 Training Tweaks for More Weight Loss

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Hey Angels and Alphas,

When you’re on a weight loss journey, exercise is a vital part of the whole equation – that’s no secret to anyone. And even though most experts already agree that working out on its own will not be enough to lose weight, there are still more than enough reasons for you to include it in your weight-loss journey.

Most people who have been successful with their weight-loss goals can definitely tell you it took a few failures before they got down the right workout strategy – the one they benefitted from the most.

Today, we’re here to explore exactly the most successful tweaks that gym-goers have used to rev up their workouts and make them more effective for weight loss. And even those small differences will result in big results in the long haul.

#1 DON’T JUST WORK OUT TO LOSE WEIGHT

You will notice you will start to lose weight when you stop focusing on exercising solely for the purpose of losing weight. And you can see this effect whenever you start working with a fitness client.

The moment you start focusing on exercises that are enjoyable and fun, you will find a rhythm that works for you and you won’t feel any pressure that “you must do this in a specific way, for this long, at this time, or else you won’t see results.”

When you get this internal shift that you must do what you enjoy and stay active, weight loss will start to happen on its own.

#2 ADD HEAVY STRENGTH TRAINING TO YOUR WORKOUT

High-intensity interval training does have its own share of benefits – no one denies that. But many experts actually recommend that, if you want to lose weight, you should start prioritizing heavy strength training over HIIT or another form of cardio… which may be a surprise given HIIT’s popularity and touted benefits.

Too many people start focusing too much on cardio when they jump on a weight loss journey. There are a few reasons why strength training is often a much better first pick. Not only can it burn just as many, and if not more, calories, but it can also help you develop more muscle mass which will allow you to burn more calories at rest. Strength training builds muscle mass which increases your basal metabolic rate… which means your body consumes more calories even when you’re not exercising.

#3 INSTEAD OF CARDIO, DO SUPERSETS

If you just incorporate a day of superset training into your routine, you will potentially see much better results in your progress toward your weight loss goal. During a superset, your heart rate is elevated both during and after the exercise, making it one of the best options for people looking to burn fat. This small tweak has propelled clients to their goal, and let’s be honest, you will get a great pump and you’ll love these workouts way more than you do your cardio workouts.

#4 MAKE YOUR RECOVERY A PRIORITY

When it comes to weight loss, many people tend to believe that taking days off is not as important… or not necessary at all. If you’re already pretty fit and you want to get leaner, this tends to be true in the majority of cases.

Though it sounds counterintuitive at first, skipping a part of your workouts will favor your recovery a lot… and make all the difference in the world. That “no days off” mindset will absolutely ruin your health goals and make you miss out on your potential weight loss results.

You have to give your body the adequate rest it needs, and this isn’t just true with strength training. You will drop much more body fat, sleep better, and have more energy in your intense workouts, if you just increase the amount of rest you’re taking throughout the rest – and this includes active rest.

#5 TAKE BIG BREAKS DURING STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUTS

Sometimes, rest breaks make all the difference in your workout performance and the results you get from it. You can be someone who is super high-energy who always approaches strength training workouts with a “the more, the better” attitude, and you’ll naturally want to boost your heart rate up when lifting weights.

But when you start to take more (or larger) breaks between your sets to catch your breath before the next round, you will start seeing a massive difference in your performance especially during strength training bouts. You’ll find that you will have much more energy for the next set, leading you to become stronger, put on muscle easier, and find yourself dropping extra weight extra fast.

Debunking the 4 Biggest Myths about Carbohydrates

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

While many people are jumping on keto and other low-carb diets in hopes that limiting carbs will help them lose weight, we all know that carbs are an essential macronutrient. Cutting back on carbs too quickly can easily lead to low energy levels and cause you to overeat.

There are countless misconceptions about carbohydrates, but in reality, they’re not the bad guy.

When you start prioritizing whole-food, healthy sources of carbs such as whole-grain bread, potatoes, and brown rice, you will start feeling satiated thanks to the high fiber content and potentially experience fewer cravings for sugar.

Today, we’re here to talk about the 4 things everyone wishes they knew about carbohydrates before they started dieting… by debunking 4 of the biggest carb myths out there:

Myth #1 You can’t lose weight if you eat carbohydrates.

How many people have you heard say they’re “cutting carbs” to lose weight? Maybe you’ve even done it to yourself. That being said, registered dietitians surely want you to know that it’s not the only way you can lose weight.

It’s true that keto dieters, or people who just drastically cut carbs, experience weight loss much faster, at least initially. That being said, this may be due to the initial loss of water that happens when you cut carbs. You will likely end up gaining the weight back once you give up this strict style of eating.

Ultimately, studies show that overall weight loss results from low-carb and keto diets can match other, less restrictive plans.

What’s more, adding carbs to your weight-loss plans is often much more sustainable. Countless gym-goers have tried cutting carbs in order to lose weight, but they end up feeling better and getting much more joy and satisfaction from eating when they start including healthy carbs in their diet. But this has to do with choosing complex carbs.

Myth #2 Carbs will cause you to gain fat.

Another crazy idea floating around is the idea that carbohydrates are more easily stored as fat than protein and fat… which just isn’t true. Carbohydrates are essentially sugar in their most broken-down form, which is extremely easy for your body to break down.

If you eat a cracker, before it has even had the chance to be swallowed, the digestive enzymes in your saliva have already begun the chemical breakdown process. In fact, because this molecular makeup (of carbs) is so easy to break down, the body chooses them as its primary form of energy for the brain, muscles, and pretty much every organ.

When you have excess sugar in the body, one of three things happens:

  • Your body will begin a process of lipogenesis, or fat storage.
  • Your body acts like they’re a waste of energy to create a storage site to it basically increases its metabolic rate enough to burn through the sugars.
  • Your body stores them as glycogen in your muscle tissues or the liver so it can use them for energy later.

The first option consumes the most energy so your body will not immediately opt for that unless it has to. But this happens when you’ve eaten much more food than your body can actually put to use. The bottom line is – it’s NOT that easy for carbs to turn into fat. It’s actually rather difficult.

Myth #3 All carbs are created equal.

Wrong! Many people instantly think of bread and pasta when it comes to carbohydrates, but carbs come in many forms, and some are way more healthful than others. And when someone says they’re cutting carbs, most often they’re removing those carbs such as bread and pasta from their diet.

But beans, peas, legumes, fruit, veggies, milk and yogurt, and whole grains are all amazing, healthy sources of carbohydrates. It is definitely a good idea to limit your consumption of carbs that are overly-processed such as desserts and white bread, but studies have already confirmed that wholesome carbs actually lead to better, healthier, longer lives.

Myth #4 Carbs are bad for your health.

Carbs are actually good for your health in more ways than one can explain. If you eat healthy carbs, long-term health outcomes tend to improve – not the other way around. Complex carbs play a vital role in diabetes and heart health, and not to mention, the fiber found in carbs is of tremendous importance when you’re trying to manage cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, maintain steady energy levels throughout the day, and even lose weight.

The Case For (and Against) Eating 3 Meals a Day

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

For the majority of people, not just those trying to lose weight, three meals a day is just the norm. You have breakfast, you have lunch, you have dinner, and (for many of us) a little grazing in between.

But with the rise of new nutrition trends such as intermittent fasting (IF) and time-restricted eating (TRE), which basically have you skipping meals or entire days of eating as well as having smaller eating windows, it’s absolutely understandable that you’d start to question how many meals a day you should actually be eating if you want to slim down.

According to a study done in 2012, published in the journal Obesity, people who eat up to six smaller meals a day instead of three big meals usually have fewer cravings throughout the day. And in reality, both groups lose the same amount of weight.

So… should you be ditching the three meals a day thing so you can try IF, TRE, or another new form of performance eating?

Let’s debate the cases FOR and AGAINST the three meals a day plan.

FOR

Generally, consuming three meals in one day alongside one or two small snacks is a great rule of thumb for weight loss. When you have a structured meal plan in place, you’ll be achieving the results you’re looking for and you will be satisfied with and by your food.

Eating three meals every day can indeed help you stay full for longer, reduce hunger and cravings, and prevent the overeating that happens on the “one meal a day” diet. An example – overweight adults who consumed oatmeal for breakfast were generally more satisfied and consumed fewer total calories compared to people who only drank water in the morning, according to a 2015 study in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.

While we definitely need more research to prove this, a viable option here would be the three-meal-a-day plan combined alongside two meals a day plus a couple of snacks. Skipping breakfast and hitting that time-restricted eating quota can also help you slim down further and make the plan much easier to maintain.

For many people, making breakfast the biggest meal of the day and following that up with smaller meals makes much more sense in terms of having energy. Research actually shows that eating more calories early in the day will benefit your blood sugar control which will decrease cravings.

When you eat more frequently, and add some more snacking throughout the day, this will lower your overall calorie intake and body mass index… and can actually help increase your intake of filling fiber and your intake of essential minerals and vitamins.

AGAINST

If three meals a day actually works for you, go for it! But there’s basically no hard evidence that a three-meal eating pattern can be more effective in terms of losing weight than others. If that’s your goal, you should choose whatever best fits your lifestyle.

But that being said, we still recommend choosing smaller mini-meals rather than three big meals because (1) this allows more flexibility and (2) results in a more filling and nutrient-dense meal thanks to a greater fiber intake.

Without a doubt, three meals a day will not be a good approach if most of those meals are huge. There’s a big problem you can notice with people who choose this meal plan is that they go heavy on those three meals, and not to mention, some of them leave their dinner too close to bedtime which is linked to less weight loss results.

The bottom line is…

You have to find out what works best for you. Most restrictive diets or non-traditional eating plans such as time-restricted eating aren’t very sustainable unless you can turn them into a habit. And if your plan is not sustainable, you won’t be able to stick with it and you will rebound and regain all the weight you lost.

The research on the topic is mixed. The ideal meal frequency for weight loss isn’t accurately determined as of yet. But we can all agree that what works best for you will ultimately… be the best for you.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, and you’re interested in the three-meals-a-day approach, make sure you’re adding a few 100 calorie snacks between your meals and tracking your intake so you can calculate your overall calorie goal and keep your hunger in check.

Using Intermittent Fasting to Aid Weight Loss and Lose Belly Fat

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When you’re on a weight loss journey, you know that WHEN you eat might be just as important as the foods you choose.

While intermittent fasting is far from a “new” trend, it has really been gathering more and more attention lately.

As part of a recent study done in 2019, researchers followed 19 grown adults who had metabolic syndrome and spread their meals over a 14-hour window, meaning they limited their “eating hours” to a 10-hour window followed by 14 hours of fasting.

They found this was associated with weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, and a smaller waist circumference.

Not to mention, the study also showed that time-restricted eating was one of the best ways to decrease visceral fat, also known as the dangerous fat that gets stored inside the stomach and is directly associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

So what’s the most optimal intermittent fasting window when we want to lose belly fat?

Basically, “time-restricted eating” is only a form of intermittent fasting – not the whole thing. Instead of deciding to fast on specific days or several 24-hour periods within a week, time-restricted eating is all about limiting your meals to a certain time window throughout the day.

Eating and drinking during, let’s say, a 10-hour window, allows your body to rest, digest, and restore for the next 14 hours while you’re spending your time sipping on water, coffee, or tea. According to the study co-author, Satchin Panda, PhD, essentially, your body starts to anticipate when you will eat and prepares itself for the most optimal metabolization of food.

And it’s not just this one study, too – other studies on time-restricted eating have shown pretty much the same results.

University of Alabama researchers came together to do a similar weight loss study where they split obese men with prediabetes into two separate groups.

The first group ate all of its meals within an 8-hour window, while the other group had its meals spread over a 12-hour window.

While both groups maintained their weight, those who restricted their eating to a smaller window had lower insulin levels, lower blood pressure, and reduced insulin sensitivity… which is *big* for people with prediabetes.

Study authors noted that the brain essentially works together with other organ systems to “coordinate” the body processes such as hormone production. When we manage food intake, these systems have a better chance of staying in alignment. While many Americans eat their largest meals at dinner, they are forcing the organs in their gastrointestinal system (including the liver) to do heavy-duty work while the brain is preparing to wind down and go to sleep. Time-restricted eating, on the other hand, aligns those rhythms and keeps your metabolism working properly.

The unique mind-body connection and intermittent fasting…

Research authors also suggested that while it might take your body only a few days to adapt to time-restricted eating, your brain might need much longer. This is because mealtimes are usually based on longstanding lifestyle habits and cultural norms.

And although the end goal for time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting is essentially the same, longer fasts became more difficult and more difficult to maintain. What’s more, research published in JAMA found out that about 40 percent of participants assigned to a fasting diet… just dropped out of the study. And for the people who actually went through and stuck with it, fasting on alternate days was no more effective in terms of losing weight than their daily calorie restrictions.

Bringing it all together…

Intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating can both provide massive health benefits and have the potential to positively impact your well-being… but we still need more studies and research to determine the long-term effects and make this a viable approach for losing visceral fat.

Most of the current research on time-restricted eating has focused on overweight middle-aged and young adults, though the results seem to be promising – a time-restricted eating window of about 14/10 hours has been directly linked to a smaller waist circumference and lower bad cholesterol.

For the people like you that are trying to shed pounds, balancing physical activity with a balanced energy intake is the best approach to losing weight overall, though this 14/10 window can help you achieve better results in less time.

Using “Stoplight Foods” To Aid Weight Loss

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

There are countless ways you can decide what you’re going to add to your plate – you can read nutrition labels, count calories, follow point systems, or stick to a strict diet that tells you exactly what and when to eat.

And the “stoplight food” system is a great option for those who want to add more healthy foods and veggies to their diet without much hassle.

The stoplight system is essentially a visual guide for the consumers that want to make good food choices.

  • Just like in traffic, green means go. Those are foods you should eat consistently and regularly.
  • Yellow foods are sometimes foods.
  • Red foods should be limited or just avoided altogether.

That being said, we all know there are no universal rules for what foods you should include in your diet. For example, many dietary programs consider green foods to be the most nutrient-rich such as veggies and fruits. Yellow foods tend to have a bit more fat such as granola bars and dried fruits. Red foods are basically chips, donuts, junk foods and more.

However, other stoplight systems are usually tailored toward the calorie density of certain foods. That means that high-fat foods could be slapped with a red or yellow label regardless of whether it’s a healthy source of fat.

Example:

Red: Nuts, olive oil, chia seeds

Yellow: Lean protein, beans, avocado

Green: Fruits, veggies, oatmeal, quinoa, berries

The countless benefits of spotlight foods!

First of all, let’s examine the benefits of the stoplight system as a whole.

For one, it essentially boils down nutrients into a very easy-to-understand format. And when diets get simple, they become sustainable, and translate into real life changes.

You have some studies out there have shown us that the stoplight system can instantly change consumer behavior and reduce the purchases of foods labeled “red” while increasing the purchases of green foods. Sometimes, this could mean reducing intakes of added sugar, saturated fat, even sodium.

One study in PLOS ONE looked at over 20,000 Canadian people and found that the stoplight system reduced calorie consumption by almost 5 percent, sodium by 6 percent, and total fat by a whopping 13 percent.

Another study used the stoplight system to “code” different beverages based on sugar contents. Monthly sales of drinks labeled “red” dropped by almost 20 percent while green beverages (e.g. low-fat milk, water, tea) rose from 12 to up to 38 percent! That’s HUGE!

Whenever the stoplight system is applied, people start buying fewer red foods and more green ones.

This green-yellow-red labeling is super easy to understand as opposed to the alternative where you have to wade through all the claims on the front of the package and spend some time decoding all the ingredients yourself. This system also means you’ll be much less likely to be swayed by marketing terms such as low-carb, keto-friendly, natural, or organic.

However, there are some drawbacks…

As with countless other diets and dietary approaches, there are drawbacks to this stoplight method. Namely, you have to basically understand exactly which criteria the stoplight system you’re using is based on… and the criteria that make sense for you, your diet, and your goals.

Each stoplight system has a different criterion for all the food categories. This can be sometimes confusing when you’re trying to choose foods based on a mix of stoplight systems.

And a certain system may not even meet your personal nutrition needs, too. For instance, if you’re a vegan athlete, you can really use seeds and nuts to then meet your nutrient needs. But when you see them labeled “red,” you might think you should avoid them (when foods like these can be super useful for you.)

This can further reinforce the idea that some generally good foods can be labeled bad, affecting how you view food.

And when you consume something labeled red, you will think you’ve done something bad… just because you wanted a handful of almonds? And this will affect how you look at foods in the future, even long after you’ve stopped paying attention to the green, yellow, and red… not to mention, past research has indicated that guilt over food can actually promote more weight gain!

Bringing it all together…

The stoplight food method can be an effective way to simply your dietary approach, and it’s something definitely worth considering. As with any weight loss and diet tool, you have to maintain your awareness of your physical and mental health… not to mention your relationship with food.

4 Signs You’re Not Consuming Enough Carbs

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

You probably know that a lot of today’s weight loss and diet trends, keto in particular, have led to a massive skepticism about carbs… and cutting back on pretty much everything from butter to bread to bananas. That being said, is swapping your morning oats and afternoon apples for eggs and avocado really a good way to support your weight loss goals?

And yes, the number of carbs we need to thrive really depends on each individual’s needs and lifestyles… but there are still signs you need to watch out for – if you need more carbs, your body will let you know.

Let’s be clear – your body NEEDS carbs.

Carbs are not inherently good or bad unless you label them as such. Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel and energy source, and they provide us with the energy we require to do our daily activities and exercise. They are also the brain’s primary fuel source. Without carbs, we can’t function optimally.

When we consume carbs, our bodies break them down into sugar which is then converted into energy straight from the bloodstream – or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.

If you want to keep your body fueled properly, traditional dietary guidelines recommend that you get about 45-60 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates.

And if you’re not getting enough carbs, your body lets you know… here’s how:

#1 BRAIN FOG AND FATIGUE

The most obvious (and often first) indicator that you’re not getting enough carbs is that you will feel physically and mentally exhausted. In addition to feeling sluggish (and sleepy) throughout the day, many people will experience headaches and have trouble focusing until they don’t consume ample carbs.

#2 FEELING MOODY

Not only will you have trouble focusing, but you will also experience changes in your mood… especially irritability. When you fall short of your body’s needs for carbohydrates, your mood and blood sugar take a hit.

Not to mention, in addition to being the body’s preferred fuel source, carbohydrates also play a direct role in the production of serotonin, the hormone that helps you balance your mood which is often associated with a feeling of well-being and happiness.

Whenever you’re experiencing sharp changes in mood, always check-in if you’re low on carbohydrates.

#3 POOR WORKOUT PERFORMANCE

If not eating enough carbs leaves you feeling sluggish throughout the day – both physically and mentally – imagine what it can do to your workouts.

Insufficient carbs may not be that problematic if your workouts aren’t high-intensity. If your workouts are low-intensity, your body can better use fat and oxygen for power. But your performance in high-intensity workouts will be greatly diminished. This is because high-intensity exercise depends on glucose from the carbs in your bloodstream or the glucose stored in our liver or muscles.

#4 DIGESTIVE ISSUES

Perhaps the biggest downside of missing out on the carbs your body needs for fuel is that you will also miss out on the filling, satiating fiber that comes with them.

When you start cutting back on fruits, veggies, and whole grains, you are essentially eliminating a lot of fiber out of your diet. And without fiber, you will end up feeling constipated and have trouble digesting your food properly.

And considering the fact that the majority of Americans fall short on fiber, reducing your carb intake basically guarantees you have trouble.

That’s why you should focus on increasing your carb intake in a healthy way…

If you’ve experienced any of the problems mentioned above, you should focus on eating enough carbs and monitoring your digestion and how you feel throughout the day.

To do this, you can either start tracking your meals for a few days so you make sure 45-60 percent of your calories are coming from carbs. Or, in more practical terms, make sure about 25 percent of your plate consists of fruits, veggies, of whole grains.

So what really constitutes a “healthy” carb? Any whole-food source. Whole grains, oats, brown rice, beans, lentils, berries, apples, squash, potatoes, the options are endless!

If you are concerned about how increasing your carb intake will impact your waistline, just remember that the fiber that comes in these natural whole grains will help keep you fuller for longer and you will be more satiated between your meals, eliminating a lot of sugar cravings and supporting your efforts to lose weight over the long haul.

More success with weight loss, more energy, better focus… why would you NOT consume more healthy carbs?

7 Healthy Spring Foods to Add to Your Shopping List

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

As we all know, spring brings in both a metaphorical and a literal breath of fresh air as the weather starts to warm up after the cold and long winter months (at least in most part of the world.)

Along with that warm weather, the blooming flowers, and the extra outdoor activities, also come in a variety of healthy and delicious foods.

From the in-season produce to the fresh flavors that our taste buds love, light and zingy flavors of spring foods also mimic the entire mood of the season.

And for the people who are looking to lose weight, add muscle, or just generally be healthy, spring offers a lot of new and nutritious opportunities for nutrient-dense diet picks.

Today, we’re here to explore 8 spring foods that you can’t go wrong with adding to your plate, regardless of what your health and fitness goals are.

#1 ASPARAGUS

Asparagus is by far one of the most versatile veggies during the Spring season. They’re budget-friendly and packed with vitamin A that promotes good eyesight, vitamin K to help your bones and ward off heart disease, and insoluble fiber to improve your digestive health.

Simply seasoning some grilled asparagus with some olive oil, salt, and pepper is absolutely delicious. If you’re someone looking for something more dynamic, try this asparagus pea pasta bowl or an asparagus rice bowl with pesto.

#2 ARTICHOKES

Artichokes are sort of a March-May veggie. They turn very soft when you cook them and have this nutty flavor similar to asparagus. They’re also very budget-friendly and are chock-full of vitamins C and K, folate, and antioxidants. All these nutrients actually work together to support your health by lowering bad cholesterol.

Artichokes have a good reputation because of the luscious and yet cheesy spinach and artichoke dip that’s such a healthy and delicious party favorite.

#3 CARROTS

Introducing one of the most budget-friendly veggies out there, carrots have a fiber content that makes them an amazing choice for people looking to manage blood sugar. They’re rich in vitamin A that’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that the body can absorb a lot of this nutrient even when the carrots are cooked.

They can be eaten alone, in salads, in desserts, caramelized when cooked, there are just so many options when it comes to carrots. Roasted carrot butter, carrot cake bites, roasted carrot salad, you name it – it’s healthy and delicious.

#4 EGGS

Yes, eggs aren’t really a spring food per se, but they’re such an amazing protein you can just throw in any spring recipe. Eggs also contain omega-3 fatty acids that boost brain health and lower inflammation, and the healthy fats inside the egg yolk also increase the absorption of healthy vitamins. They’re also abundant in choline, promoting proper cell function and fat metabolism.

#5 LIME

Limes are so much more than your favorite margarita addition. They usually start to peak around May, which is later than the other spring foods on this list, but their date can vary on a ton of factors – mainly where you live. Limes are generally an amazing low-calorie flavor booster for any spring recipe you’re cooking up. And they’re also rich in vitamin C, aiding immunity and healthy skin, as well as the well-known citric acid, known to prevent kidney stones like no other.

#6 RHUBARB

Rhubarb is a spring veggie that goes for a few dollars a pound depending on where you live… but it’s an undercover nutritional superfood! Thanks to its high levels of calcium and vitamin K, it’s one of the best fruits out there for bone and heart health. Not to mention, its high fiber content does wonders for your digestion.

People usually treat rhubarb like a fruit, but it’s not. It’s naturally sour due to the high malic acid content, but it’s traditionally a great addition to desserts and jams.

#7 Strawberries

When strawberries are in season, they tend to be very budget-friendly. They’re low in calories and sugar when compared to other fruits from their color, and they’re incredibly potent antioxidants. They are also about 90 percent water, supporting your hydration. And with the added potassium and magnesium, they keep your blood pressure in check.

Strawberries can be added to smoothies, salads, desserts, everywhere – even just out the carton. For a few more creative options when incorporating strawberries, you can try oatmeal strawberry pies, chia jams, cashew butter toasts with strawberry salad, and so much more.

3 Reasons You’re Regaining the Weight You Lost

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

It’s no secret to anyone – the process of losing weight can feel like a roller coaster in pretty much every aspect of the word.

When you start off, you might be dropping pounds fast and you feel excited, motivated, and invigorated to keep doing what you’re doing. You’re working hard, shedding pounds like crazy, and you feel like you’re about to reach that dream body you’ve always desired.

And at other times, something as simple as a happy hour at work can make you feel like you’re back on that slow incline, wishing you could jump off the ride altogether and forget about all the progress you’ve made so far.

This is a well-known cycle in the weight loss community, and it’s often referred to as weight cycling. Regaining the weight you lost during your weight loss journey can have countless repercussions when it comes to your health, including a massive spike in body inflammation that has been linked to autoimmune diseases, among other dangerous illnesses.

But did you know research has shown that more than 80 percent of people with obesity who lose weight… end up gaining it back?

That’s a BIG number, and it’s one you must always keep in mind when you’re on a weight loss journey. Because the fact is, your journey doesn’t stop when you hit that desired number on the scale.

Today, we’re here to explore three of the biggest reasons why you might be putting pounds back on after you’ve lost them… and how to prevent this from happening in the future:

#1 IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE LOSING A LOT OF ENERGY…

As you’re on a weight-loss journey and you’re shedding pounds, your body will usually start to compensate by trying to hold all of its available energy (meaning calories.) This is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to bust through weight loss plateaus. On average, for every two pounds you lose, research has shown us that your body will try to get you to eat roughly 100 calories more than you otherwise would.

The fix here is a rather simple one: When you feel hungry, immediately reach for some water. Research has shown us that, among adults, poor hydration has been directly linked to a higher body mass index… which means sipping on some water before eating could be one of the best things you can do to prevent racking up pounds after you’ve lost them.

#2 IF YOU’RE NOT FOCUSING ON THE REAL PROBLEM…

Experts have agreed that most weight-loss efforts fail to address the underlying psychological factors that motivate our health and nutrition choices. Unless those psychological factors are confronted, and dealt with, your relationship with food and health will not really change, causing you to immediately go back into your old patterns of behaviors the second you get comfortable with your progress.

Here’s how to fix it: journal! If you try journaling regularly and writing about how you feel, especially when it comes to exercise and nutrition, you will, without a doubt, achieve more consistent and sustainable progress.

By keeping a diet log, and logging all the food you eat and how you feel when you eat them, you will start to recognize patterns – is it stress that causes you to reach for sugary snacks? Or maybe it’s the trigger that you’re always mindlessly munching on processed foods while you’re watching Netflix?

Recognizing those patterns will help you become aware of them and they will no longer control you as much as they used to.

#3 IF YOUR APPROACH TO WEIGHT LOSS WAS AN OVERHAUL

Even after all the misconceptions about diets have been debunked, people still fall into the fad diet trap. They shed pounds in the short-term, achieve a goal, and then instantly go back to their old behaviors when they get off their restrictive, hard-to-maintain diets. Once they revert back to their old patterns, they regain the weight – simple as that.

The fix? Make your approach sustainable. Shift your eating and exercise habits by creating small, incremental, controlled changes. Stack these small changes on top of each other. Within a few months, you’ll look back and realize how much your lifestyle has changed… and you won’t feel any pressure or stress to go back to your old ways. When you compound these small changes, you’re changing yourself in the long term and creating lasting results for your health and your body.

4 Metabolism-Boosting Foods to Add to Your Die

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

We all know that if we want to lose weight, gain weight, or even just maintain your weight, the key is and always has been in “calories in vs calories out.”

That being said, the total amount of calories you burn will likely be made up of the calories you burn when you exercise and the calories you burn through your metabolism… and the latter amounts for a much higher number of calories burned daily.

The process of converting calories into energy is a process that occurs naturally throughout the day – the calories we use when we breathe, when we digest, and when we’re just generally being alive and active are known as our basal metabolic rate (BMR.)

And if we increase our BMR, we increase our daily calorie burn.

This naturally brings us to the process of thermogenesis… which is just a fancy way of saying the metabolic process through which your body produces heat by burning calories. You can think of the process of thermogenesis like your body’s internal furnace. You basically crank up that furnace when you exercise, when you’re digesting food, when you’re cold, and for countless other reasons, resulting in calorie burn.

According to the Journal Nutrition & Metabolism, the diet-induced thermogenesis will account for up to 15 percent of your total calories burned throughout the day.

So the question is – can we increase our metabolism by eating specific foods? The answer is yes… but it’s not that simple.

There’s no food that will boost your metabolism in the long haul. However, some foods can help give you a little bit of a boost after eating. Let’s see how eating these four specific foods can affect your metabolism:

#1 FOODS HIGH IN PROTEIN

Protein takes more energy to break down than other nutrients. Consuming an adequate amount of protein from your daily meals and snacks can help boost that metabolic burn and the thermic effect of the food after a meal. Essentially, it will take up more energy for your body to digest a high-protein meal.

If you want to take advantage of this, you have to make sure you’re consuming an abundant amount of protein regardless of whether it’s animal or plant protein. Some amazing sources include lean beef, eggs, legumes, chicken, beans, and more.

#2 CAFFEINE

Caffeine is a stimulant that impacts the central nervous system. As such, it can help you burn more calories… and potentially, more fat. One study has shown us that caffeine can increase our metabolic rate by up to 11 percent… while other studies have discovered that people who consume around 270 milligrams of caffeine every day burn an extra 100 calories.

That being said, caffeine affects people differently. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you should be really careful and make sure you’re not overdoing it. 270 milligrams of coffee is equivalent to about 3 cups of coffee… which will likely be way too much for a lot of people.

#3 HOT OR CHILI PEPPERS

If you’re one of those people who likes spicy food, your metabolism is in luck! Capsaicin, a chemical found in peppers, has been shown to play a slight role in boosting your metabolism.

Experts point us to research that suggests that consuming around 150 milligrams of capsaicin could result in burning an extra 50 calories every day. And while this doesn’t sound like much, this effect can compound and account for about 5 pounds of weight loss per year.

#4 TEA, GREEN TEA, OOLONG TEA

Furthermore, the caffeine found in tea has also been proven to boost your metabolism in small amounts. Some studies have shown us that oolong tea could potentially increase the body’s energy expenditure by up to 10 percent over a 2-hour period. Tea could also be very effective in increasing the oxidation of fat in the body, further helping you burn fat.

But regardless of what you eat to lose weight… you still have to exercise!

Eating specific foods is surely a great way to ignite that internal furnace in your body… but moderate training and high-intensity exercise are also vital (and necessary) metabolism boosters.

We know that metabolism is increased significantly after interval training, and it even stays elevated for a longer period of time after periods of steady-state activity. That’s why if you want to keep your metabolism going and that furnace burning hot, you have to supplement your healthy diet with plenty of intense exercise.

5 Thought Patterns that Sabotage Your Weight Loss Success

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

You know losing weight (and keeping it off for good) is a goal that requires creating a lot of sustainable, healthy habits in your life that are related to nutrition, movement, and wellness.

And regardless of how much weight you’re looking to lose, the one critical component that can make or break your journey is your self-talk.

Weight loss is often an emotional roller coaster, with the number on the scale serving as only one of the triggers for feeling well or feeling poor. But in reality, it’s your mindset that can serve as your most powerful tool for getting you through the ups and downs of your weight loss journey.

And there’s the research to support this. Experts have long known that people who use positive self-talk are way more successful at shedding pounds and losing weight – and they’re also better at getting back on track after setbacks.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can just switch up happy thoughts and have way more success in your journey all of a sudden – it doesn’t work that day.

It’s completely natural for you to have some thought patterns that are actually sabotaging your progress but re-educating yourself and busting a few of the myths behind weight loss will help those thought patterns go away and be replaced by much more productive and healthy ways of thinking.

Today, we’ve compiled 5 of the most common forms of negative self-talk we’ve encountered among clients, and how to handle each of them:

#1 “I CAN’T EAT X UNLESS I DO Y.”

Look – rewarding yourself for a job well done is one thing. But if you’re thinking about what you’re eating based on your body’s reward system, you could be walking on very thin ice. The thinking of “I can have whatever I want as long as I work out” will only lead you to feel disappointed and resentful when you eventually don’t live up to your own expectations.

Have some grace when it comes to yourself. You don’t need to be perfect all the time to achieve your goal and you don’t need to reward yourself for every run with a spoon full of nut butter.

#2 “EATING LATE AT NIGHT MEANS I’LL GAIN WEIGHT.”

That’s only true to some extent. A calorie is a calorie. But if you consume most of your calories during the day, you will likely end the cycle of overeating in the evening that so many people fall victim to. We tend to overeat in the evenings and that’s where the problem lies with this misconception.

But as long as you maintain a caloric deficit, that’s what’s important for weight loss. Think of food as a way to fuel your body. If you’re hungry – your body needs fuel. Listen to your body instead of assuming.

#3 “THE SCALE ISN’T MOVING SO THIS ISN’T WORKING.”

There’s not an expert under the sun that won’t agree the scale itself is an incomplete metric. Countless measurements aside from that number on the scale can help you realize how far you have actually come and help you create a new set of goals. Many people get frustrated with how the number isn’t moving so they throw in the towel thinking they’re doing something wrong.

But the scale can be deceptive. Checking it daily can make or break your motivation, but it’s most often the latter. Instead, you should be tracking how well your clothes fit, how strong you’re becoming, and how you’re able to perform during workouts. That’s a much better way to realize your progress and boost your self-confidence.

#4 “CARBS ARE THE ENEMY”

Carbs get a bad rap but they’re a vital part of your diet. Carbs fuel your brain, your red blood cells, your central nervous system, everything. If you deprive your body of this essential fuel, you are likely going to do more harm than good.

Eating the right kinds of carbs will not only skyrocket your weight loss progress but it will also help you maintain your desired weight once you get it. Focusing on whole grains, legumes, fruits, and tubers is one of the most sustainable ways to eat well since people can naturally gravitate toward carb-rich foods.

#5 “I HAD A COOKIE THIS MORNING, SO THE DAY IS RUINED.”

Balance is all about being able to incorporate different types of foods into your regular routine without setbacks. This thought pattern is prevalent amongst people who have that all-or-nothing mindset. And sure, it may be easy for you to look at foods as good and bad, but that’s not always the case if you’re spending the majority of your time eating non-processed, healthy food.

The truth is, many of us will likely stick to a diet as long as we’re able to follow it thoroughly. Don’t let that one day, one morning, or one cookie, turn into a cycle of bad behaviors. Don’t sabotage yourself and you will bounce back stronger than before.

5 Ways Meal Prep Helps You Lose Weight

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Early Sunday mornings on social media can provide you with a ton of great weight loss insights: entire counters filled up with hard-boiled eggs, colorful veggies, lean chicken, and brown rice… all ready to go, perfectly placed in portioned containers for meals throughout the week. It’s meal-prep goals at their finest.

We all know that spending a few hours to make sure you have all the meals you need for the week is one of the most productive strategies for reaching your health and fitness goals.

If you want to adopt healthier eating habits and lose weight, you have to make it as easy as possible to follow a balanced diet. Sometimes, it might feel challenging, overwhelming, or too time-consuming, and that’s exactly what will stop your progress and prevent you from making it sustainable.

Meal prepping actually makes it so much easier to eat healthy, regardless of what your day looks like. Work stress, busy schedules, last-minute deadlines, everything adds up and you’re likely to reach for more calorie-dense foods in those situations. Meal prep gives you this no-brainer healthy alternative and supports your goals.

Meal prep allows you to lose weight without willpower. Instead, you have a plan!

And while that’s all well and good, many people still find meal prepping to be rather laborious, and many people don’t actually enjoy cooking. If you loosen up your meal prep, however, you will likely find it much more natural to fit it in your schedule.

So how do we make meal prep a little bit more flexible?

The good news? You can still shed pounds with less complicated meal prep than those you see on social media. Today, we’ve compiled a few tips you can use to make the meal prep process less complicated and more sustainable.

#1 HAVE A GENERAL IDEA OF WHAT YOU WANT

Before you head off to the grocery store, take a look at your week. Create a rough outline of what you’ll be making, and leave some room for extra meals and leftovers.

Maybe you plan only 2-3 breakfasts and 2-3 lunches throughout the whole week. Breakfast could be some overnight oats. Lunch could be lean chicken breast over a bed of greens. Dinners could be whole-grain pastas or turkey burgers.

Give yourself the freedom to mix and match proteins, carbs, and veggies – this will make your entire meal prep journey more sustainable. Look for what’s in season, what’s in store, and create this general overview of what you’ll be eating throughout the week to support your fitness goals.

#2 SHORTCUTS ARE A GOOD THING (IN THIS CASE)

One thing a lot of people don’t realize about meal prep is that you don’t even need to make it all yourself. You can choose what part of your meal prep is actually dependent on you and streamline the rest. Maybe you find that the whole wash-chop-clean process of preparing veggies is too time-consuming for you.

That’s where all the pre-washed veggie bags, salad kits, and other similar products can come in handy. A lot of the work is already done for you and all you need to do is cook. You also have heat-and-eat grains such as quinoa or rice, as well as countless pre-made options in the frozen foods section.

Or if there’s a specific ingredient you want to eat more of, say beans, and you find them particularly time-consuming to cook. They can also come in ready-to-eat bags. Same is true for other foods such as lentils and beets.

#3 PREP YOUR MEALS ONCE, EAT THEM TWICE

Chopping a dozen veggies and fruits for the week isn’t fun for anybody. But it’s also not fun to have to take out your cutting board every single day. Why not combine the two tasks, get your cutting board out, and cut one extra item to save yourself a ton of time?

If you’re chopping down broccoli, just cut red pepper strips as an extra snack and save it for tomorrow. If you’re making something like farro, just double the batch and you’ll have a whole extra meal done for you.

#4 MEAL PREP ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE THE ENERGY FOR IT

Sure, the weekend is normally a time when people have more time to meal prep. But if that doesn’t work for you, that’s completely okay. Prepping in the moments when you have the energy and time makes it way more enjoyable and sustainable instead of always dreading the upcoming Sunday. Remember – whether it’s portioning your snacks one morning or just stocking up on frozen meals, make it count.

#5 UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY

It’s easy to prep the same meals over and over. But it gets boring fast. Not to mention, it leads you to overeating on certain foods or ditching meal prep altogether. Always create extra leeway so you can make impromptu decisions and try new-to-you fruits, veggies, and entire meals. This will keep things interesting and help you create a much more flexible and sustainable path to weight loss success.

Why Excess Belly Fat is So Dangerous – And Easy to Lose

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When we’re talking about belly fat and weight loss, we’re often most concerned with the aesthetic characteristics that come with it, not realizing that belly fat is one of the main precursors to a variety of life-threatening diseases.

And when it comes to actually reducing your risk of such diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, we fail to realize that slimming your waistline down could be much more important than simply shifting the number on the scale or getting a nice set of abs.

Almost 40 percent of American adults live with obesity. This, in its own right, increases the chances that people develop diseases such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and more. But your body mass index doesn’t even need to be greater than 30 for you to be at risk of these obesity-related conditions.

The bottom line is, where your fat is located matters a lot.

Even if you’re sitting at a normal weight right now, or you’re just slightly overweight, having a waistline that’s greater than 35 inches (in women) and around 40 inches (in men) is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol – all precursors to much more dangerous conditions.

The reason? Visceral fat.

Visceral fat is just another word for belly fat, and it poses a much greater risk to us than all of our total fat combined. Visceral fat is a health hazard, and such be addressed as one.

Some new research published in the journal Menopause has pretty much added to the already robust set of evidence that carrying some extra weight around your waist can lead to serious health problems. In one study, researchers took a group of women who had so-called “central” obesity.

What this means is they had significantly higher rates of CAD, coronary artery disease, compared to other women who were classified as obese based purely on their overall body mass index. This was just the latest in an ever-increasing list of studies that have shown that your waist circumference is a much better predictor of heart disease than your weight.

And yes, while the connection between cardiovascular disease and your waist circumference is not that well understood as of yet, experts are beginning to suspect that excess belly fat may be making it harder for your body to process blood sugar.

On top of that, visceral fat might also trigger extra inflammation in the body, another big risk factor when it comes to cardiovascular disease.

And the mere width of your waistline isn’t just directly linked to heart disease. Based on data gathered from more than 650,000 adults, experts have discovered that men who have a waist circumference higher than 43 inches have a much greater (50 percent greater) risk of death during a period of 14 years than men whose waists measured 37 inches or less.

When we’re talking about women, the risk was even greater. 80 percent greater risk of death associated with a waist circumference of 37 inches compared to 28 inches or less.

The solution? Lose belly fat and reduce your risk of dangerous diseases.

A total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and overall physical activity every week seems to be one of the gold standards when it comes to weight loss – or at least that’s what researchers have touted.

If you’re someone who is troubled by their high waist circumference or you’re experiencing certain cardiovascular disease risk factors alongside a greater waist circumference, we have to emphasize that starting out slowly and working your way up toward an achievable weight loss goal is what you should be focusing on.

Taking walks, going to the gym, jogging in the morning, playing sports, practicing yoga, all of these options will not only become an enjoyable activity that helps you grow into a better and healthier you, but they’ll also slim down your waistline significantly and help you reduce your risk factors.

The bottom line is, obesity puts strain on more than just your waist – it puts strain and inflammation on your entire body.

And when it comes down to it, we know for a fact that belly fat is often the first one to go when we start exercising and taking care of our diet. If we lose the weight, we reduce the risk. It really is as simple as that.

Can a Sweet Snack Be Considered Performance Food?

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you’re a foodie or nutrition lover, you know very well that simply scrolling through any social media feed for a few minutes will result in you seeing countless images of what appears to be mouth-watering sweet snacks.

And sure, while the images alone might have you craving that piece of cake or cookie (obviously,) you can then go to the caption of that image and see them being labeled as “healthy.”

But is that too good to be true?

Before you go ahead and start making sweet snacks and cookies to support your health and fitness goals, it’s important that we take a small step back and find out whether or not these foods are actually helping you progress toward your goal… or bringing you back.

Let’s take the example of a sweet, delicious cookie, and use that example to figure out whether a cookie recipe can live up to the “healthy” label.

First of all, the key to finding out whether a sweet snack is good for you is always in the ingredients.

When you’re going over and reviewing your favorite recipes, go straight to the list of ingredients. If the only modification you can find is substituting regular old cane sugar for coconut sugar, we have some news for you: it’s still sugar. Nothing about the actual nutritional value of the cookie has changed.

By reading through the ingredients and potentially making meaningful swaps or additions from whole-grain flour options such as spelt or buckwheat, high-fiber ingredients such as oats, chia, or flax, or even nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, and nuts, you’ll find that you can actually add a ton of health-boosting properties to your foods. By adding these nutrient-rich ingredients to your recipe, you will indeed boost the “healthfulness” of your sweet snack.

Second of all, remember to focus on the purpose of the snack. 

How can you decide if something is healthy for you if you don’t first relate it to your goals? Think about it: why (and when) are you eating the sweet snack? When you opt for recipes that basically fit inside your required nutrient profile, you’re golden.

If you’re chugging on a sweet snack as a pre-workout so you can consume some energy-giving carbs, which is actually the preferred source of energy for your body during intense workouts, you’re actually using that sweet snack productively.

You can also use that sweet snack as a grab and go meal, or even add some protein powder or fiber-rich veggies to help fill you up and reduce the impact it will have on your blood sugar levels.

And when you go as far as to increase the fat content of your snack with coconut oil or something like nut butter, you will be adding a ton of satiety to your snack and you’ll be able to fuel your body for lower-intensity exercise since your body tends to use more fat as energy during this type of training.

Just because it says “healthy” doesn’t mean it actually is healthy for you and your goals.

Most dietitians cringe at the word “healthy.” While that word can definitely have good intentions, for the most part, healthy tends to be a very vague word, almost to the point where it has absolutely no meaning. What’s healthy for you and your goals will not be healthy for the next person, and it can be extremely difficult for recipe creators to label their recipes as healthy if they don’t know who’s the “end consumer.”

That’s why you have to go the extra mile to understand your individual needs and define the results you would like to achieve. Only then can you actually choose sweet snacks that are “healthy” for you, or in other words, productive towards your goals. Only then can you use foods to promote better health and better fitness.

Finally, just focus on eating the original!

What does this mean? Well, we know that mashing a bunch of oats and nut butter together alongside some healthy fruit can result in a sweet snack that’s definitely rich in terms of nutritional value. That being said, attempting to add a bunch of healthy ingredients to a meal hoping it makes it better can trigger those indulgent cravings that potentially backfire on you and your goals.

Not only can they provide a “healthy halo” to a food that results in overeating on that “healthy” food, but it might also be likely to eat one healthy snack and then bring in some less nutritious options to satisfy your cravings.

A lot of the time, what’s truly healthy for you is to just eat mindfully and enjoy the treats you’re treating yourself to. It’s very easy for a mindset of guilt to overtake you if you’re on a fitness journey and trying to eat well, but it’s also very easy for you to fool yourself into thinking you’re being healthy when you’re really chugging down spoon after spoon of nut butter and racking up calories.

Yes, you should use sweet snacks to fuel your nutrition needs and your performance goals but remember that satisfaction should also be factored into the “bigger picture” of your health and fitness.

How Much Fruit Is Too Much Fruit?

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Whenever you’re trying to lose weight or you’re trying to manage your insulin resistance, it’s absolutely crucial that you remember what a big role sugar plays in achieving your goals.

But, unlike sodas, cake, sweets, candy, and other forms of sugar that are highly concentrated and easily absorbed, the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and most vegetables have actually been linked to lower risks of obesity and other metabolic disorders and diseases.

The caveat here, however, is that fruit must be consumed in its raw, whole-food form, not juiced or dried like a lot of the fruit options you’ll find at your local grocery store.

But how is consuming a fruit whole different? And why is it better?

Basically, when you’re consuming a fruit whole, for example, an apple with the skin on, you get the entire package. This package includes two types of fiber: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.

Naturally, these two fibers weave in and work together to essentially create a barrier (also known as fiber lattice) that finds its way in the small intestine and significantly slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed in your body. This means you’re not going to experience the blood sugar spikes that cause insulin resistance (and serve as a precursor to diseases such as diabetes.)

But instead, most of the sugar will actually travel down into the lower part of your small intestine where the highest percentage of your gut bacteria and your gut microbiome are located. When they’re there, the bacteria in your gut have a chance to eat and metabolize most of the sugar from the fruit in a healthy and productive way.

Furthermore, you have some fruits that have a low glycemic index (GI index.) The GI index is something you’re likely familiar with if you’re someone who cares about blood sugar spikes and drops. The GI system essentially ranks foods in relation to how they each affect your blood glucose. The lower the GI ranking, the slower the digestion of sugar, and therefore, the lower the blood sugar spike.

Foods that have a higher GI ranking basically cause a more immediate and more robust rise in your blood glucose after you consume them. And when your blood glucose level is high, your body is going to work much longer and harder in order to produce insulin… The result? A more likely change toward insulin resistance over time.

And finally, the natural sugars found in fruits and veggies, as part of the whole fruit, will likely come packaged alongside massive levels of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. And we all know a diet rich in antioxidants can help tremendously if you’re someone dealing with insulin resistance.

Here’s why you should avoid other forms of sugar…

When we’re talking about the sugars found in smoothies and juices, they are essentially much more hyper-concentrated forms of sugar.

They simply do not create the same fiber lattice effect that slows down their digestion, causing rapid spikes in blood sugar. When you put a bunch of fruit in the blender or juicer, what you’re doing is breaking down and shredding the cell walls of the fruit, meaning that the insoluble fibers necessary to create the lattice are simply not there.

And finally, when you eat whole fruits, you tend to consume them at a much slower pace, leading you to consume much less overall instead of just chugging down a smoothie.

Bringing it all together…

The bottom line is, there’s really no need to worry about “too much fruit.” As long as the fruit is whole and it’s part of a diet that’s balanced and packed with other healthy options such as lean proteins, veggies, and whole grains, fruits can only make that better.

Most Americans, however, are not consuming enough veggies and fruits on a daily basis. That’s why you should break the status quo and fill your plates up with delicious and healthy fruit and veggie options that will help your weight loss goals, your health goals, and your life goals.

If you’re someone who has a hard time struggling with insulin resistance, what you should be doing is focusing your attention toward foods higher in fiber and lower on the GI scale, such as blueberries, blackberries, grapefruit, apples, and so on. And if you pair your fruits with healthy options such as nut butter, you’ll be adding satiating protein and healthy fats that will keep you fuller for longer and make for a punch-packing meal.

5 Ways to Get Back on Track with Your Weight Loss Goals

Hey Angels and Alphas,

It’s officially been over a year since the coronavirus pandemic turned the lives of so many people upside down. For some people, more time at home means more time to spend working on their health and fitness goals, while for others, it might mean the exact opposite.

For some, the entire lockdown experience has been eye-opening, and they report feeling better physically with less restaurant food. And for others, the isolation has only resulted in extra snacking and comfort eating.

The inability to leave the house whenever or as often as we’d like, as well as the increased demands for homeschooling and remote work, has led many people to neglect their weight loss goals.

And some newly released research indicates that the vast majority of people ended up gaining more weight during the pandemic.

If you’re one of those people who hasn’t gained any weight during the lockdown, great job! But please realize you’re the exception.

And now that the world is reopening, it can be somewhat tricky trying to balance the urge to celebrate having freedom with the desire to get back on track with your weight loss goals.

The first and most important thing you have to remember is to cut yourself some slack. If you’ve struggled for a while, don’t instantly rush into being hard on yourself. After all, life has changed at its core. Reopening will definitely bring some benefits for the people who are interested in losing weight, but it will also introduce some new challenges, as well.

The key is striking the balance between getting back on track with a smart strategy and enjoying all your new freedoms. Here are 6 ways to do exactly that.

#1 SET A CLEAR AND DEFINED GOAL

If you don’t have the right plan, you won’t have the right results. You need to have all the specifics in mind and a clear vision of what you want your weight loss results to look like. When you set SMART goals, standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, you will look beyond just losing weight and you’ll give yourself a much stronger “why” so you can stay committed more easily.

#2 MAKE HOME COOKED MEALS

It can be extremely difficult to stay focused on your goals if you’re someone celebrating coming out of a traumatic experience such as a lockdown. Experts have said that the lockdown was basically a collective trauma, and the attitude around getting together with all your friends and family will be a celebratory experience. And with celebration comes food. Furthermore, since the weather is about to warm up in most parts of the world, get-togethers and home-cooked meals should prioritize healthy options.

#3 SHARE YOUR GOALS

When chasing goals, social support can be one of your key motivators and accountability triggers. Whenever you let your friends know that you’re working on weight-loss goals, you will be prompted and held accountable by them. If you’re upfront with everyone in your social circle, they will understand you whenever you want to choose a healthier place to eat or whenever you decide to skip desserts and drinks.

#4 REWARD YOURSELF AND GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT

Don’t be so hard on yourself if you’ve gained a lot of weight. The world was locked down! Remember to engage in positive self-talk and keep a positive thought pattern. Over the past year, your body has gone through tremendous amounts of stress. At the end of each day, you should reflect on one thing that worked out really well for you or something that helped you push yourself forward toward your goals.

Moreover, if you do decide to splurge on a night out, don’t shame yourself and wave in the white flag. Realize that it has been a while since you really had the ability to work on your weight loss goals. Just remember to make a healthier choice next time.

#5 ALWAYS REMEMBER TO PLAY THE LONG GAME

As the world is starting to reopen, everyone will be quick to start chasing goals and achieving results. There’s already a boost in the interest in fad diets that promise you quick weight loss. While it is possible to lose 10-15 pounds in one month, what’s more important is that you sustain it. Instead of going for the extremes, always remember that the slow and steady approach will bring you better results in the long-term. Don’t be so quick to jump on a fad diet just because the world is opening up and Summer is right around the corner. Take your time and be strategic – your body will thank you for it.

How Burnout Kills Your Weight Loss Progress

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Have you had a moment where you just felt you were doing everything right to lose weight? You were eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and logging your calories. And yet, you didn’t feel like you were getting closer to your weight loss goals. And even worse, you might have even started going back up in weight.

New research on weight loss has come up that has pointed to the fact that your weight loss efforts might be completely sabotaged if you’re dealing with burnout. Whether it’s family, relationship, or workplace stress, burnout essentially keeps you in a state of constant chronic overwhelm, ruining the efficiency of your healthy habits.

And that’s likely because few, if any, weight loss programs incorporate new and healthy ways to deal with stress. If you’re using all your energy to deal with stress, fatigue, and overwhelm, you might not have enough energy left to make healthy choices in regard to your exercise and diet regime.

IF YOU’RE CONSTANTLY DEALING WITH STRESS

Studies have examined the relationship between exhaustion, fatigue, workload, and healthy behaviors. And what they’ve discovered is that the vast majority of people usually feel weary and worn out after an exhausting workday.

They discovered this by asking almost 1,000 people a few questions related to how they react to their workload and whether or not they agree with statements such as “I feel worn out after work.”

These same people were also asked to log their eating behaviors and exercise intensity levels so researchers could measure the potential prevalence of binge eating, stress eating, and percentage of calories from low-quality foods.

They discovered that the higher the workload and exhaustion levels, the higher the probability of people reporting poor eating habits and sedentary behavior. The result? Weight gain.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRESS AND BURNOUT?

In the 21st century world, stress and fatigue are basically prevalent in a huge variety of career choices and occupations. Whenever big projects with close deadlines appear, and workloads and meetings get stacked on top of each other, there’s simply no way this doesn’t somehow reflect on your health.

But there’s a big difference between just being exhausted after work, when you have the feeling you need to crash on the couch after work… and actually burning out. Burning out involves chronic stress and leads to a number of negative health impacts.

That’s why working to recognize the early signs of burnout can sometimes be the best thing you can do for your weight loss goals. Most people think burnout just feels like high stress levels, but that’s not always the case.

Stress causes us to feel frazzled, irritated, and foggy, but that being said, we’re still able to complete most of our everyday tasks. Burnout happens when you see difficulty completing projects and reaching deadlines, as well as beginning to essentially dread your upcoming workdays.

While people who are stressed get easily irritated, those experiencing burnout will likely feel indifferent or almost numb since they can’t get the energy together to invest a lot of conscious thought into their workday.

The result? Difficulty sleeping, lower sense of accomplishment, more self-doubt, more alcohol, and, not surprisingly, more negative health outcomes. Weight gain being one of them. Especially when cortisol levels in our bodies start to increase.

Burnout and weight gain are two sides of the same coin. When cortisol levels in our bodies spike, those who feel burned out often reach for comfort foods so they can feel better. Food becomes an emotional go-to that relieves them for a short period of time and leaves them to go overboard on calories.

HERE’S WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

If you feel like you’re starting to tip your way into burnout territory, then it’s definitely time for you to implement more self-care and unwinding strategies throughout your day.

And you might believe that your workplace will not benefit from this, it’s actually a step in the right direction since burnout tanks your productivity and dealing with it in a healthy way will end up bringing you more results at work.

Making exercise a priority, meditating, doing yoga, doing deep breathing, sticking to schedules, and creating a consistent bedtime routine are just some of the things you can do to start alleviating some of that burnout.

Nobody ever said you should be handling stress on your own, too! Talk to someone and get help in putting these new wellness strategies in place.

Even if you’re not feeling burned out, you should know that you shouldn’t wait until you start feeling burned out to begin implementing more self-care practices in your day. They will make a huge difference on your weight loss efforts, your productivity, your focus, and your entire life.

What to Do If You’re Still Not Losing Weight

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

Weight loss plateaus are stressful. Anyone who has ever tried to lose a significant, or even small, amount of weight knows how much healthy eating, exercise, and focus is necessary to keep that patience, commitment, and dedication to losing weight.

Sometimes it might be difficult for you to get things started. However, most often, weight loss starts to bring in results only to be followed by a stressful plateau.

And no matter how quickly you’d like to shed off that weight, it can definitely be a slow and difficult process even when you feel like you’re doing everything right.

So why do plateaus happen? Is it stress, not enough sleep, improper calorie counting, bad food, a sedentary lifestyle, or something else?

Let’s examine the steps you need to go through to keep your weight loss progress alive and break through that frustrating plateau.

STEP #1 – REEVALUATE YOUR DIET.

If you’re someone who journals or takes notes about their food, this will be easy. If you aren’t, then start logging before you feel disappointed about a weight loss plateau.

When it comes to logging, everything counts – even liquids and small snacks. If you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning every day, your body simply cannot shed those excess pounds no matter how hard you try. Conversely, the same can be said if you’re eating too little. If you’re undereating, you’re going to force your body to start preserving energy which slows down your metabolism, deteriorates your lean muscle mass, and makes you store even more fat.

According to experts, losing significant amounts of muscle will lower your basal metabolic rate and basically change how many calories you naturally burn throughout the day. And if your BMR changes, so do your calorie requirements.

If you’re eating about 2,000 calories every day, this might result in weight loss for the first couple of weeks, but that same amount could be too much or too little when your BMR decreases. And if you continue to consume that same number of calories, you are guaranteed to hit a plateau.

When it comes down to it, diets can only work for those short-term weight loss plateaus, but they’re not really good solutions for the long-term. The word diet itself implies a temporary change. It will not produce the lifelong, consistent, sustainable results you’re looking for – only a change in lifestyle will do that for you.

And if you’re eating right, eating mindfully, and exercising correctly, you shouldn’t be putting a deadline on it.

STEP #2 – REEVALUATE YOUR EXERCISE REGIME.

As you’re hitting weight loss plateaus, your workouts are going to change. When you introduce some sort of new variation, you’ll have a much easier time stimulating progress.

You can’t just do the same things over and over and expect to see the progress you desire. Your body will become more efficient at particular activities to the point where they don’t produce the same stress necessary for growth. Your body learns to adapt after doing the same things over and over, and it even burns fewer calories to carry out the same process. Make sure to always mix it up.

When you’re trying to lose some weight, incorporate a combination of cardio and strength training in your routine. When you combine the two, this isn’t only the healthiest option for you, but it’s also the most effective option in terms of supporting your weight loss goals. While resistance training will help you gain muscle, cardio will help you burn calories.

And without even moving, a pound of new lean muscle tissue will help you burn about six calories a day. The more muscles you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest.

STEP #3 – REEVALUATE YOUR SLEEP SCHEDULE.

The link between improper sleep and obesity is a well-researched one. Even one night of restricted sleep will negatively impact your weight loss efforts – studies from the Department of Exercise Science at USC proved that. And no, catching up on sleep over the weekends will not be enough to reverse those changes.

Not to mention, not getting enough quality sleep will have cascading effects on your body. It will disrupt hormones that control appetite and hunger and cause a ton of daytime fatigue that will keep you away from the gym.

Make sure you’re always getting the necessary 7-8 hours of sleep every night to support the optimal functioning of your hormones and achieve proper weight loss results.

And finally… remember to stay consistent!

We all know losing weight isn’t easy. And it’s common for everyone to experience ups and downs as they go… and not just on the scale! That’s why if you hit a plateau and you’re doing everything right, just hang in there. Tweak your diet, add some new exercises, check if you’re getting enough sleep, and I guarantee you will be getting back on track in no time.

Why the Keto Diet and Cheat Days Are a Bad Mix

weight loss

Hey Angels and Alphas,

There are many people out there who commit to healthy eating so they can lose weight, and they also indulge in a cheat day in which they essentially take a break from their regimented eating.

And while some experts have claimed cheat days can indeed help you keep your diet on track (especially as a part of the 80/20 mentality where you eat nutrient-dense meals 80 percent of the time and indulge in the remaining 20,) there are other nutrition pros who believe cheat days can be even more harmful…

And this can be especially true if you’re on the keto diet.

Let’s be honest – cheat days are something purely mental. Their main idea is that you can stay motivated and stay on your strict regimen if you have those cheat days to look forward to and enjoy… but are there any actual health benefits to the practice?

And moreover, there’s actually some new research out there pointing to the fact that cheat days may have a negative effect on your heart health – especially if you’ve been on the keto diet that’s just getting more popular by the day.

Recent studies have claimed that digging into plates of your favorite chips or tossing back a beer or two on your day off may actually damage blood vessels in your body.

What’s the science behind it?

In the recent study, otherwise healthy adults were asked to consume about 75 grams of sugar in a medium beverage in order to mimic the high intakes of sugar on cheat days. Then, they did the same after following the ketogenic diet for the course of a week.

What they found is that, in the latter case, blood vessels in the body had a very difficult time dilating which put them at an increased risk of heart attacks.

Why?

The healthy volunteers, when following the ketogenic diet for even a short period of time, became relatively intolerant to glucose (aka sugar.) When their bodies started adapting to consuming higher amounts of fat, they (almost instantly) became worse at processing carbohydrates and glucose. This means that while the cells can return to their full function when the blood sugar levels in the body dropped down, the high-sugar cheat meals during cheat days can actually backfire into long-lasting damage to the body.

There were also no biomarkers of blood vessel damage that were observed before following the keto diet. Therefore, the study concluded that the ketogenic diet made the participant’s blood vessels more susceptible to this type of damage.

So how do cheat days play a role?

Basically, cheat days are there for us to enjoy the foods we crave but have restricted ourselves to not consume. But in the case of the ketogenic diet, which is all about going low on carbs, you will most likely be craving simple carbs that cause greater, more rapid spikes in blood sugar levels when compared to other, more slowly digesting forms of complex carbs.

Researchers noted that cheat days will also likely result in some temporary weight gain due to the water retention and gastrointestinal stress – this is because the body isn’t that used to processing foods that are very high in sugar and sodium when you follow a diet that’s a little bit more restrictive.

And there are other downsides to cheat days, too!

Dieters who are prone to obesity, who also exceeded their recommended calorie needs one day during the week, were documented to be less likely to engage in physical activity during their cheat days… when compared to those less prone to obesity.

By removing cheat days and forgetting the idea that certain foods are just “off-limits,” this resulted in people not being that pulled toward those foods they were once craving so badly.

Bringing it all together…

While it’s absolutely vital for everyone to find an eating style that is sustainable and productive for their health in the long term, there’s more research necessary to conclude whether or not cheat days are actually good for you.

One thing’s for sure, if you’re on a ketogenic diet, you should be wary of your cheat days and still avoid simple, fast-digesting carbohydrates as they will cause damage to your body over the long haul.

Cheat days might leave you feeling bloated, and craving other unhealthy foods, and by switching your diet up to a more balanced complex of protein, fat, and carbs will be a smart choice for those of you looking to lose weight and get fit.

The 6 Food Flavors & Their Superpowers

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When you’re thinking about the right nutrition for your fitness goals, it’s completely normal that you’d become fixated on the macronutrients – protein, carbs, and fats. But most often, we forget that’s not the only factor in play that determines our health and performance. For hundreds of thousands of years, our bodies have been learning and guiding us as we are navigating between nutritious food and poisonous food.

For example, in ancient Ayurvedic practices, each of the 6 main flavors is associated with some sort of nutritional value that our bodies crave. That’s why it’s helpful for us to understand what exactly our bodies are telling us when they’re asking for certain flavors, what we’re really tasting when we eat the foods we choose, and how that relates to our health and fitness.

The six tastes – salty, sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, and astringent – all come with their own special perks. Here’s what they’re all about:

SALTY FOODS.

Our bodies naturally start craving salty foods whenever we’ve experienced dehydration or our bodies are full of lactic acid. Salty flavors can also aid in tasting food thoroughly, and they also help rehydrate and lubricate our body tissues, especially when digesting food.

But if you hear “salty food” and you understand that as processed snacks and fries or salty chips, that’s not what I mean. Think sea veggies, broth, flaky salt, but even fries and chips are okay in moderation.

SWEET FOODS.

Foods that are sweet, such as fruits, veggies, natural sugars, and more, are key for helping us rebuild bodily tissues and calm our nervous system. If you’ve spent your whole day with high-intensity, adrenaline-pumping training or experiencing physical or emotional challenges, our bodies will often ask for sweet flavors.

When we’re experiencing these cravings, we most often run for a dessert or sweet treat. But going the route of grains, fruits, and natural sugars will still satisfy that craving and leave you feeling much more satisfied in the end.

SOUR FOODS.

Sour foods not only aid our lymph system and bodily tissues in detoxifying, but they also allow our bodies to more easily absorb crucial minerals from the food we eat. This isn’t something you’ll usually crave, or it will be at least something difficult to detect, but we do sometimes crave sour foods when they are missing from our diet. This includes fermented foods, yogurt, or even a squeezed lemon or lime added to our favorite meal or drink.

SPICY FOODS.

If you’ve ever had a spicy food craving, you’re essentially craving pungent flavors. These flavors are great for stimulating our digestion and eliminating toxins and waste from the body. They include garlic, herbs, spices, chili peppers – they’re all pungent – and they’re all extremely valuable toward achieving a natural nutritional balance and performing at our best.

BITTER FOODS.

Bitter flavors are also very well known for helping us detoxify. They even reduce inflammation. And while flavor isn’t really something you’d crave at all, sometimes you might find yourself “just wanting a salad.” Because of the herbs, spices, and leafy greens inside salads, they’re often associated with this flavor. But when you top up your leafy green salad with other delicious and nutritious ingredients, there’s no limit to how healthy your salad can get.

ASTRINGENT FOODS.

Astringent flavors are also very hard to discern as a craving, but they’re still there. Raw fruits, veggies, legumes, and herbs all include various astringent flavors, and they’re all known to help us absorb more water, remove waste from the body, and relieve inflammation.

Bringing it all together…

When you’re putting together your meal plan for the next week, pay attention and try to weave in as many as many of the six tastes you can as possible. Some of them calm you, others rehydrate, others help you digest, and others help you detoxify. The bottom line is, as long as you’re providing your body with enough proteins, carbs, and fats to keep yourself going, using flavors strategically is the next step to maximizing your nutrition and your health.

And don’t worry about giving your body what it wants – even if you might think that almond butter cookie will tip you off your calorie balance every once in a while. It’s not just the ingredients that are important, but also the tastes you’re experiencing that help you improve your health so you can perform at your best – in the gym and outside of it.

Why Healthy Eating Can Distress Your Stomach

nutrition

Hey Angels and Alphas,

There’s definitely a big irony in the world of nutrition in which when you make the decision to commit to whole, nutrient-dense foods and a lot of fruits and veggies, you expect to feel better than ever. But that’s not always the case.

Suddenly, you might find you’re feeling bloated all the time, feeling nauseated, or having other forms of GI distress.

It’s important for you to know this is referred to as the “transition” phase in which your body’s digestive system will essentially adjust to these new food choices.

When you start eating healthier, either by consuming more fruits and veggies or swapping the refined carbs for some whole grains, you might find that your stomach gets upset. You might feel full all the time, feel bloated, or have nausea.

But this is a short-term effect – don’t ditch your healthy strategies.

Let’s dive deep inside the reasons why this happens and how you can make this transition smoother and easier.

If you have food sensitivities or allergies…

You might be one of those lucky people that never experience food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities. But did you know almost half of these allergies start once you reach 18?

Especially if you’re trying a broad variety of foods that are completely new to you, there is a huge possibility that you might encounter new sensitivities or intolerances you didn’t know about. And while a true food allergy will cause a dangerous, potentially life-threatening situation, here we’re talking about much milder forms that leave your stomach upset or cause inflammation in the body.

Your best bet here would be to introduce new foods one at a time and see how your body responds to them. Instead of starting a completely new meal plan out of the blue, start introducing one new food every couple of days and see how well you tolerate them. This will help you pinpoint and immediately remove foods that don’t serve your health.

If you’re not consuming enough fiber…

A lot of people tend to tailor their “diet makeover” by turning to more juices or reducing carbs. But what this leaves them with is a diet stripped of fiber from fruits and veggies.

Even though countless experts have proven that juice “cleanses” are not as productive as marketed, they’re still extremely popular as a “reset” eating plan. And sure, they do stack your body with vitamins and minerals, but they can be extremely tough on your digestive system. Because you’re stripping your diet of fiber, your digestive system is fighting back.

When you’re not consuming enough fiber, you will notice that you’re getting constipated or experiencing mild crams. And not to mention, juice “cleanses” don’t support the optional function of your body’s natural detox organs (the liver, kidneys, and intestines) which all rely on fiber to operate correctly.

If you’re getting in too much fiber…

Let’s say you’re one of those people that decides to go the healthy, whole-food route and include more pasta, lentils, chickpeas, veggies, and whole grains in any form, inside your diet. In that case, you should know that ramping up your fiber intake too quickly can cause GI distress.

Fiber has countless benefits for the body, one being helping keep us full for longer. It helps us manage insulin better. And regulate blood sugar. And reduce the risk of chronic diseases. What doesn’t fiber do? It also aids your digestive system in processing and moving food in and out of the body.

Here’s a pro tip: as you’re increasing your fiber intake, always focus on increasing your water intake, as well. When you’re not hydrating enough, fiber won’t move through your system as well as it should. And that’s when nausea, constipation, and GI distress kick in.

Keep in mind, increasing your water intake is always a good idea if you’re changing your diet. It will help you adjust to new food choices more quickly and, if you’re someone who wants to enjoy the best of both worlds, you can try vegetable-based soups and other similar choices to ensure proper hydration during dietary transitions.

Bringing it all together…

Integrate healthy choices into your diet slowly and consistently, and you should have no problems during these short transition phases from one diet to another.

When you try to make big, dramatic changes to your diet overnight, your digestive system will fight back, and you will need to make adjustments to your hydration and fiber intake just to keep your body on track. Even though you might need to make some adjustments, this will resolve within a few weeks and you will be well on your way toward a healthier diet.

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