Dr. KwaZ blog

Sharing The Tips And Tricks I Have Learned Through The Years

Almonds have an amazing profile of antioxidant and nutritional benefits, making them a great candidate for fighting disease.

They can improve brain function, hinder the onset of cancer, and much, much more.

Pound for pound, fresh nuts might seem expensive - not when you consider the many health benefits. 

1. Almonds can benefit your intestinal health

Regular consumption of almonds can benefit the production of helpful bacteria in the intestines.

Stool samples were collected from study groups after consuming almonds regularly for a period of time. There were notable increases in Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp.

These changes were noted with daily doses of as low as 56 grams of almonds - or ten grams of almond skins. The bacteria in question are responsible for a number of health factors. Promoting their growth can help prevent dangerous intestinal diseases, and promote the development of healthy tissues and metabolism.

Almonds - even just the skin - can modify the efficacy of intestinal flora, leading to better health.

2. Almonds can lower LDL cholesterol, limiting heart disease

Despite having a relatively high fat content, almonds are known to eliminate cholesterol from the body. The fat content of almonds is largely monounsaturated - the ‘good’ type of fat that helps lower the risk of heart disease.

When substituting almonds in a high-carb diet, researchers found that the risk of heart disease was decreased by up to 30 percent. The benefits stack when almonds are included with other healthy foods, as well. If they’re included in a diet plan that includes foods from all groups, the decrease in cholesterol and heart disease can be increased.

Almonds are high in potassium. Potassium is a mineral that’s responsible for opening up veins and arteries, allowing for more efficient blood flow. This helps clear the cardiovascular system of cholesterol and further reduces the risk of coronary disease.

Magnesium - another mineral that almonds are full of - is also responsible for maintaining a proper blood flow. The content of these two minerals, along with almonds having a high antioxidant content, ensures that they can effectively fight off cholesterol and heart disease. They’re also useful in fighting off recurring or chronic diseases.

The combination of antioxidants, minerals, and monounsaturated fats make almonds a powerful fighter against heart disease.

3. Almonds are powerful fighters against diabetes

Almonds are shown to decrease spikes in blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes are linked to damaging cholesterol, which leads to the creation of free radicals.

A free radical is an atom missing an electron in its outer shell. To compensate, it will steal an electron from its neighbour atom, creating another free radical. This creates a destructive chain that can result in cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

A study done on fifteen participants involved feeding them five meals and monitoring blood sugar before and after. The statistics taken after the meals containing almonds showed a moderate blood pressure and an increase in antioxidants. The statistics taken after subjects consumed meals with bread (high in carbohydrates) showed a decrease in antioxidant density.

Almonds can help alleviate and potentially even prevent diabetes.

4. Almonds can help keep your skin young and healthy

Almonds contain a range of antioxidants and nutrients that can be useful in combating aging skin. These benefits are most obvious when almonds are extracted and used as an oil.

Of particular note, almonds are very high in vitamin E. There are other skin-benefiting antioxidants in almonds, but vitamin E is very good for the skin. It fights of free radicals that can affect that dermis, leading to cancer or prematurely aging skin. Vitamin e also acts as an anti-inflammatory which can prevent inflammation-related skin issues.

If you want to keep your skin looking young, add almonds into your diet.

5. Almonds help regulate blood sugar in healthy individuals

Studies have shown that almonds are amazing at maintaining a healthy glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure that can show a person’s blood sugar level.

During a study in which subjects were given white bread (filled with empty carbohydrates - high on the glycemic index)

The effects seem to start with consumption of two or more ounces of almonds. Eating one ounce of almonds along with the bread showed no decrease in the glycemic index. However, eating two or more showed decreases in the G.I. directly proportional to the amount of almonds consumed.

Eating almonds with high-carbohydrate meals can help you maintain a healthy glycemic index. 

6. Almonds are a great cognitive supporter

Almonds are one of the best brain foods you can buy! They contain both L-Carnitine and riboflavin - two nutrients that are very important in maintaining brain health. These help reduce inflammation that can lead to brain disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Almonds stimulate the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for helping your neurons ‘fire,’ or communicate, effectively. A deficiency in acetylcholine can lead to things like ‘brain fog,’ in which thinking becomes unclear or confused. It can also lead to headaches and eventually, cognitive decline that can turn into disease.

Acetylcholine is also hugely responsible for an individual’s memory. When studied after consuming almonds for an extended periods, rats were shown to have greater memory recall. When neurons fire faster, it’s easier for them to create or recall ideas and memories - leading to better memory retention.

Eating almonds can help improve brain function.

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7. Almonds can help you lose weight!

Research suggests that overweight folk who supplement their diets with almonds will lose weight more effectively. With a low-calorie diet, the almond’s intense array of nutrients and monounsaturated fats help a person shed unnecessary weight.

The study group found that people using almonds in their weight loss program consumed more fat, but 25% of that fat was monounsaturated. This is the fat that helps clear the cardiovascular system of cholesterol. The other group, eating a carbohydrate rich diet, consumed less fat - but only 5% of it was monounsaturated.

Both diets had the same amount of calories. After the study period was over, the group that had consumed almonds instead of carbs showed significantly more weight loss than the other group. Their blood pressure was also reduced, whereas the control group saw no difference in blood pressure.

Including almonds in a low-calorie diet intended for weight loss can amplify the effect of the program!

8. Almonds not only help you lose weight - they can prevent weight gain!

Despite nuts being associated with weight gain, recent studies show the opposite. The high amount of monounsaturated fats in almonds can help you lose weight by regulating cholesterol and blood sugar.

Not only that, but a study shows that simply including almonds in your diet can inspire people to be healthier. A study group was told to add almonds into their diet. They were given no other instructions. At the end of the study, they were evaluated again. A significant number of test subjects had made their own positive changes to their diet!

The levels of certain key nutrients and vitamins were measured to be much higher than they would be simply from supplementing almonds.

Almonds aren’t just healthy - they’re inspiring! They can inspire you to make better decisions with your diet.

9. Almonds help with energy production

Three nutrients in almonds are of particular interest in those interested in being efficient at producing energy. These nutrients are manganese, copper, and riboflavin. Copper and manganese help in the production of superoxide dismutase. This chemical helps fight off free radicals that can form in the mitochrondia - the powerhouse of the cell!

Ensuring the mitochondria stays healthy is vitally important for maintaining well-functioning cells. Without mitochondria, your cells won’t producie energy and your body will begin to lose its ability.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2,) has an interesting function. It attaches to certain proteins that allow oxygen-based energy to be produced in the body. This oxygen-based energy production occurs in areas like the lung and hearts. It can be counter-effective if there is a lack of riboflavin, leading to oxidation and the forming of free radicals. Riboflavin ensures that there’s a proper flow of oxygen and that it can be converted effecively to energy.

Almonds play a vital role in replenishing the body of nutrients required for energy production.

10. Almonds can help prevent gallstones

Looking at data compiled over the last 20 years, it’s been shown that people who eat almonds regularly have a 25 percent lower chance of developing gallstones. Certain nutrients in the almonds bind to bile acids in the gut, helping to maintain a healthy amount.

Gallstones are hardened deposits of fluid. They form in your gallbladder, which is just beneath your liver. They’re formed when there is an excess of bile. Bile is usually released into the small intestine, but when there is an excessive amount, it can get stuck in the gallbladder and harden. Gallstones are extremely painful to pass.

The studies show that nuts are efficient in doses as low as an ounce a week. That’s like eating two pieces of toast with a spoonful of nut butter on each!

11. Almonds are a good source of protein

Almonds are a great source of quality protein. A quarter cup of almonds provides you with five grams of protein, which is about ten percent of the recommended daily allowance. Since almonds are low-carb and contain only quality, healthy fats, this is a great amount of protein.

Protein is the building block for muscles and can help a person maintain strength and energy. With inadequate protein intake, people will grow weak and their muscles will lose strength and quality.

Regular almond intake will help you get enough protein.

12. Almonds have an impressive array of vitamins and nutrients

In a quarter cup of almonds, you will get a varied amount of nutrients. The World’s Healthiest Foods rates almonds to be very good sources of biotin (49 percent of your daily value,) vitamin E (40 percent of your daily value,) manganese (27 percent of your daily value,) and copper (26 percent of your daily value. Almonds actually have the highest amount of biotin, pound for pound, than any other raw food. The contender for second place is the sweet potato, which contains only 29% of your daily value of biotin.

World’s Healthiest Foods also considers almonds to be a good source of vitamin B2, phosphorous, magnesium, molybdenum, and dietary fiber.

Vitamin E is very useful in fighting inflammation. It helps maintain healthy skin structure, elasticity and flexiblity.

Manganese is helpful in the maintenance of bones and teeth, much like the similar-sounding nutrient magnesium. Most diets have plenty of manganese in them, but you don’t need to worry about overdosing - excessive magnesium intake won’t cause you any damage unless it’s very extreme.

Biotin is a B vitamin that’s crucial for the body to properly metabolize food.

Copper is important in a lot of different ways. It helps you maintain strong ntissues, maintains your blood volume, and helps your mitochondria produce energy. Most diets are deficient in copper.

Almonds are an excellent source of biotin, Vitamin E, manganese, copper, magnesium and fiber.

13. Almonds increase the absorption of other nutrients

Certain nutrients and vitamins - such as vitamin A and D - are fat soluble. This means the body needs an adequate supply of fat to absorb them. Good fat - don’t go jumping down to McDonalds to get a burger to increase your nutrient absorption, because the negatives will quickly outweigh the bads.

Fortunately, almonds are chock full of polyunsaturated fats. These are the most effective fats for helping vitamins which are not soluble in water. Additionally, almonds contain some antioxidants and nutrients that can regulate bile production (too much bile can tax your system of nutrients) and promote intestinal health.

Almonds can also help you absorb nutrients better from the rest of your diet!

14. Almonds can protect against osteoperosis

Digested almonds leave behind a kind of residue, known as ash. It’s an alkaline substance, which helps maintain the pH level of our blood. Our blood, at its most healthy, keeps an alkaline pH of around 7.4 Sometimes the pH of the blood is offset by eating foods that are too acidic. This is why alkaline foods are necessary in the human diet.

When the blood becomes too acidic, the blood steals calcium from our bones. Calcium helps return the balance of the blood to its optimal pH of 7.4 - at the expense of making your bones more brittle and susceptible to further disease.

Eating almonds can prevent this by leaving its alkaline ash behind in the body. Additionally, the high magnesium and phosphorous content helps strengthen any bones that may already be damaged by osteopersosis.

Those who struggle with osteoporosis should consider eating almonds. They help alkalize the body and maintain proper blood pH.

15. Almonds help maintain bone and dental health

Phosphorous and magnesium - two nutrients that almonds are high in - are essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Almonds also help the body absorb other nutrients, so calcium from other dietary sources will be absorbed more effectively.

Calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium together in sufficient amounts will ensure that your bones and teeth stay strong and healthy long into your life. You will be less likely to develop cavities, broken bones, or teeth yellowing.

Almonds will help your bones and teeth stay strong!

Suggestions for incorporating almonds into your diet

There are ways aside from simply eating almonds to reap their nutrients.

  • Almond flour is one way to reap the benefits of almonds. Look for simple ingredients - preferably, you want a flour with almonds as the sole ingredient. You can use almond flour to replace white flour in most instance - making bread, thickening soups, whatever floats your boat. Some of the nutrients are destroyed in the processing, but almonds are so filled with vitamins and antioxidants that you’ll still be getting a ton of beneficial ingredients.

  • Almond butter is a great way to consume almonds. It’s creamy, delicious, can be spread on toast or mixed into smoothies. Again, you’ll want an almond butter that’s got a minimal amount of ingredients - no added oils or sugars. You can also make your own almond butter by blending a bunch of them in a food processor and maybe adding a little bit of coconut oil or olive oil for texture.

Tips for ensuring your almonds maintain their maximum nutritional benefit

You want to buy almonds that aren’t baked or roasted. Raw almonds can be hard to come by in the states, since the FDA mandates that all almonds be processed for preservation. This often involves high-heat processing. Unfortunately, a lot of the essential fatty acids in almonds are sensitive to heat, and can turn bad when baked or roasted - even turn into carcinogens.

You can, however, increase the already amazing potency of almonds. If you soak them and sprout them, some of the almond’s protective enzymes will diminish. Some of these are known as antinutrients and prevent the full nutrition of almonds from being absorbed. You can soak them for as little as 24 hours. Make sure to rinse them before eating them.

Regardless of whether your almonds are soaked or not, you’ll want to store them in a cool, dry place. This will ensure the maximum amount of preservation for the vitamins and minerals.

Delicious Almond Recipes For You To Try Out

These are a few of my favorite almond recipes. You might not want to supplement your diet or healthcare program with handful after handful of raw nuts. Fortunately, almonds are highly versatile. They can be used in a huge number of dishes, from western chickens to eastern styled stir fries to curries.

Almond butter is a great substitute for peanut butter and can be used on toast, or as a substitute for peanut butter in a number of recipes. It packs just as good of a flavour with a higher nutritional profile.

Most of the recipes included have a quick prep time and a quick cooking time. They’re simple and efficient ways to get a good dose of the antioxidants and nutrients available in almonds.

The first recipe I’ll start you off with is one for a simple almond butter. You can use this in any other recipe that requires almond butter - or replace the peanut butter in your own favourite recipes with this!

1. Almond butter recipe

Almond butter is simple to make and easy to pair with lots of different foods. Peanut sauce? Try making almond sauce instead. You can use it as a topping on toast, or put it with different fruits - I like it with apples. I like to use unsalted, dry roasted almonds.

You’ll need

3 cups of almonds. That’s it! (You might need a teaspoon or a tablespoon of oil.)

Throw the almonds in a food processor and pulse them until they become a thick consistency. If they don’t stick together and get ‘buttery,’ you can throw in a teaspoon to a tablespoon of your favourite vegetable oil until the consistency is more appropriate.

This will keep in the fridge for up to three weeks. You can add cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, or any of your favourite spices to change up the flavour or tweak it to your personal preference.

2. Overnight oatmeal with almond butter

This is an interesting recipe that uses a slow cooker to make oats. It really brings out the natural flavour of the oats, and infuses the flavour of the cinnamon, spices, and honey. It’s a good way to get a protein and carbohydrate loaded breakfast that will keep you full at least until lunchtime. You can top it up with your favourite fruits or seeds for extra nutritional benefit and flavour.

This recipe makes enough for two or three people.

You’ll need

Two cups of water

One cup of milk

Half a cupOne pinch of salt

A quarter cup of almond butter

Two to three tablespoons of honey

The process!

Get a four-cup measuring cup. Mix the water, milk, oatmeal and salt together in it. Put all this in a slow cooker and cover it with enough water - around two cups. If you don’t measure this exactly, that’s okay - less is better than more, though.

Turn the slow cooker on low.

When you wake up, your oats will be nice and cooked. Stir in the almond butter and honey. You can now add any spices you want - cinnamon, nutmeg. Serve with milk if you prefer, or have it by itself or with chopped up fruits or berries on to.

This meal will keep you nutritionally satisfied for at least half the day!

The recipe I based this off won the best porridge contest award on Food52!

3. Almond Butter Soba Noodles With Garlic Shrimp

This dish is an amazing blend of a lot of different flavours. It’s also one of the reasons I suggest using almond butter instead of peanut butter - a lot of people would glance over this recipe and expect peanut butter to be used in place. The almond butter makes it lighter, creamier, and more nutritious. This recipe cooks fairly quickly, but only serves two people.

You’ll need

For the garlic shrimp:

One and a half teaspoons of vegetable oil

Eight to ten white prawns

Two cloves of garlic

Half a teaspoon of salt

A quarter teaspoon of black pepper

For the sauce:

A quarter cup of almond butter

Two tablespoons of ponzu sauce

Two tablespoons of honey

One and a half tablespoons of rice wine vinegar

A tablespoon and a teaspoon of soy sauce

Two teaspoons of sesame oil

For the rest:

Eight ounces of soba noodles

One carrot

A third of a cucumber

Three leaves of cabbage

One teaspoon of black sesame seeds (pre-toasted, or you can do it yourself)

One teaspoon of toasted almonds

The method:

To cook the garlic shrimp, put all the ingredients listed under the garlic shrimp section in a large bowl. Marinate them for half an hour. If you bought sesame seeds that aren’t pre-roasted, you can roast them in a skillet by turning the heat on medium high, putting the seeds in the skillet, and heating them while stirring/shaking until the aroma begins to rise.

To cook the shrimp, heat the skillet up. Saute the shrimp for five minutes or until they’re cooked. Take them away from the element and put them in the fridge.

Now make the sauce. Place all the ingredients listed for the sauce section in a bowl. Mix them until they’re combined. Put the sauce in the fridge with the shrimp for half an hour.

To make the meal, first shred your cabbage, peel and julienne your carrot, and julienne your cucumber. Toss the soba noodles in the sauce, then put a handful of your cabbage on a plate and put the noodles on top of them. Garnish the noodles with your julienned carrots and cucumbers, and finally put the shrimp on top. You can heat the shrimp up prior to serving, if you’d like. Lightly decorate with your roasted sesame seeds, and - voila! The meal is ready.

4. Almond Butter And Spinach Smoothie

Winter has never been revered for being the best season for smoothies. However, a lot of people let their diet get away from them in winter! This is a nice way to add a cupful of nutrients into your daily intake. The preparation is quick, and the product worthwhile. Having this alongside the powerhouse oatmeal would be enough to keep you going all day.

You’ll need

A tablespoon of almond butter

Two cups of spinach

A cup of almond milk - vanilla flavour preferred

Half a banana

A quarter cup of frozen, chunked pineapple

The process

As I’m sure you imagined, the process is quite simple - just like any other smoothie. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend away. When everything’s fully combined, your smoothie will be a beautiful, bright green and the spinach will be completely blended. It should still be cold, so drink it up right away!

Something as simple as eating toast with almond butter can have a huge impact on preventing gallstones.

 

By: Jen Miller

 

A special thank you and credit to Jen Miller (www.jenreviews.com) as source for all of the above information. Dr.KwaZ has not verified to ensure the above statements are true but this has proven to be a reliable source.

New Study Finds Secret to a Faster Metabolism

Eating carbohydrates makes you store belly fat.  Eating protein puts on muscle. Most people know that. But a recent study1 in the Journal of the American Medical Associationfound that when you over eat on a low protein diet, you store bad fat around your organs including the liver, kidneys and pancreas.  But if you eat a high protein diet, you add muscle and increase your resting metabolism and muscle mass.  Since muscle burns seven times as many calories as fat, that’s a good thing.

In the study, researchers admitted 25 brave volunteers to a hospital ward for 12 weeks.  They controlled everything they ate and did.  But they made them all overeat about 1,000 calories a day. The only different was where the calories came from – protein or carbs.

The low protein group (5% protein) lost 1.5 pounds of muscle, and gained 7.5 pounds of fat.  The high protein group (25% protein) gained 6.3 pounds of metabolically active muscle. They also gained fat because they were being force fed. But even though they gained more total weight, they were LESS fat than the low protein group.

This is why all Dr.KwaZ meal plans take this information into consideration and has clients gaining muscle while losing fat! Something that 99% of the world find impossible!.

This has important implications for our thinking about calories.

Bottom line: Not all calories are the same.  Some calories make you store fat, while others make you store muscle.

In a world where for the first time in history more people are overweight (2.1 billion) than underweight this has important implications.  And the world is getting bigger – over the next 30 years, the prevalence of obesity will double and mostly in countries like China and India (because how do you get twice as many fat people in a country like America where 65% are already fat)!

Here’s the take home.  Quickly absorbed carbohydrates from the bulk of the American and increasingly the world’s diet – from sugar, high fructose corn syrup and white flour, are very efficiently turned into belly fat in the body.2  And that leads to obesity and diabetes, or what I call diabesity.

Another recent study found that the free fructose in high fructose corn syrup (not in fruit), led to dramatic increases in belly fat, inflammation, blood pressure, blood sugar and even pre-diabetes in adolescents.3

Carbohydrates and protein trigger produce very different chemical messages in the body independent of calories.  Carbs lay down the fat, while protein lays down muscle. 4

This study on protein adds to a whole slew of research that proves that higher protein diets (25%) does all sorts of obesity fighting things to your body and your brain.

  1. It makes you feel more full than an equivalent amount of calories from carbs.
  2. It leads to more weight loss in “free-living” humans as compared the ones who were force fed extra calories.
  3. It prevents gaining weight back after you have lost weight.5
  4. It speeds up metabolism and builds muscle so you burn more calories all day long and even while you sleep.

Reducing belly fat and building muscle is quite simple.  And it is not just about the calories you consume. It is about where those calories come from.

Here are a few simple tips to speed up your metabolism and get rid of belly fat.

  1. Skip the sugar  – in all of its forms. Especially liquid calories from any source (soda, juice, alcohol) all of which store belly fat. Be on a mission to get high fructose corn syrup out of your diet, it is especially good at laying down belly fat.
  2. Ditch the flour – wheat flour, especially, is just like sugar. Did you know that 2 slices of whole wheat bread raise your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of table sugar?
  3. Start the day with protein not starch or sugar.  Try whole omega-3 eggs, a protein shake, nut butters or even kippers! Skip the bagels, muffins and donuts.
  4. Have protein with every meal – try nuts like almonds, walnuts or pecans, seeds like pumpkin, chia or hemp or have beans, chicken or fish.

Somehow we are still duped by the idea that all calories are the same. They are not. Hopefully, soon the practice of nutrition and medicine, and our government nutrition advice will catch up with the science. Then perhaps we can make a dent in the tsunami of obesity, diabetes and chronic disease coming right at us.

My personal hope is that together we can create a national conversation about a real, practical solution for the prevention, treatment, and reversal of our obesity, diabetes and chronic disease epidemic.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

1. Bray GA, Smith SR, de Jonge L, Xie H, Rood J, Martin CK, Most M, Brock C, Mancuso S, Redman LM. Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2012 Jan 4;307(1):47-55.

2. Stanhope KL, Schwarz JM, Keim NL, et al. Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans. J Clin Invest. 2009;119(5):1322–1334.

3. Pollock NK, Bundy V, Kanto W, Davis CL, Bernard PJ, Zhu H, Gutin B, Dong Y. Greater fructose consumption is associated with cardiometabolic risk markers and visceral adiposity in adolescents. J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):251-7.

4. Devkota S, Layman DK. Increased ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein shifts the focus of metabolic signaling from skeletal muscle to adipose. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011;8(1):13

5. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Nieuwenhuizen A, Tomé D, Soenen S, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr. 2009;29:21–41.

 

BY: Mark Hyman MD is the Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Same weight

That's right! Your scale could be lying to you. In fact, if you are on one of the Dr.KwaZ's programs, there is no doubt your scale lies to you every so often, and it lies even more to ladies.  Women's hormones on a monthly basis can really fluctuate the scale. You know the old saying,: muscle weighs more than fat! Well, it does. The problem is that it is very hard to do enough things right to be able to gain muscle and burn fat. But there are those of us who can. Here is the good news: everyone can! You just have to have a healthy lifestyle and perform your fitness activities and meals in a well thought out manner. Stop focusing on the numbers, instead here are some far more significant ways of measuring how far you’ve come.

TAKE PROGRESS PICS

The camera and mirror never lie. Unlike scales, that only show you numbers, the progress photo shows your body shape. Whether you’ve become more toned or muscular. It shows how much your shape has changed or what area you need to exercise more. Try to take them at the same time, same location and same lighting every week. 

YOUR CONFIDENCE

Ensure you are making small weekly goals as well as long-term goals. Keep it simple to start, like" cardio 3x/ this week or drink 64 oz of water today. Build up your confidence to help you achieve those great goals. 

WHAT YOU EAT

Your attitude towards food will change. Why? Because when you see how being healthy pays off you can get hooked on the feeling of pride and progress. So if you used to binge on chocolate and unhealthy foods before and now you feel guilty or the craving has gone, this is when you know you’ve made progress.

When the scale doesn’t move, don’t give up. Don’t lose focus on what you want to achieve. Remember, you control the number. The number doesn’t control you.

How do you measure your progress? If the numbers don’t show you a difference, try these methods and tell us what they told you instead. 

The Skinny:

Mason Jar Salads are super easy and super healthy. You can cut your meal prep time in half for those days you're in rush. 

 

How do the greens not get soggy?

The basic idea when packing salads in jars is to start with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients with the dressing on the bottom of the jar and work your way up through the lighter ingredients until you end up with the salad greens themselves. As long as your jar doesn't accidentally tip over in your bag, the delicate greens will be well-protected from the dressing until you're ready to eat.

How does everything get mixed together?

When you're ready to eat your salad, just unscrew the cap and shake it into a bowl. Everything gets pretty compacted in the jar, so some vigorous shaking may be needed! This shaking also helps to toss the salad ingredients with the dressing. Once the salad is in the bowl, you can toss it some more with your fork to make sure everything is evenly coated.

What's the best jar to use?

Any canning jar can be used, but wide-mouthed jars are the easiest for both packing the salad into the jars and shaking them out again. Pint-sized jars are great for individual side salads of mostly greens with just a few "extra" salad toppings. Use quart-sized jars for larger lunch and dinner salads that have a lot of extra veggies and salad goodies. Two-quart jars (or larger) are great if you're taking the salad to a potluck or cookout.

How long will jars of salad keep in the fridge?

With the lid sealed tightly, these salads can last for several days in the fridge — up to five days or so. If you're making salads with soft ingredients or perishable proteins, like avocados, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, or cooked chicken breast, wait to add those ingredients until the day you plan to eat the salad. Also, if you have a vacuum-sealer attachment for your canning jars, vacuum-sealing the salads right after assembling them will keep your greens and veggies even crisper and fresher.

Do you think this would help you? Share it with someone who could use this idea!

What is the best source of carbs and nutrient timing post workout?

There are three things we look for in a post workout carbohydrate:
  

1: High on the glycemic index.   

2: High on insulin index.  

3: Low in fructose.  

You need to spike insulin post workout if you want to replenish your glycogen stores. Foods that you might think are good but are not will include: grapes, mango, banana. Which could have high as 4.9% for fructose content. Also, avocados would be a poor choice because they have a high-fat content. You should be looking for fruits like apricots, Kiwi's, pineapples, figs, white rice and rice cakes. You also must have fast acting protein like whey or iso whey which will increase the amount of glycogen stored by approximately 32%. Having said that, the anabolic window has recently been studied to be a lot larger than originally thought. So don't worry too much about trying to get the carbs in before the 30-minute mark. You have more like 2 hours. 

 

By: Today.com

Looking at Megan McGee today, it's hard to believe there was ever a time when she lacked confidence and felt bad about herself. But several years ago, McGee was in a bad place in her life and wound up gaining 75 pounds.

"I was 19 and I started dating someone — it was an unhealthy relationship," McGee, now 26, explained. "I stopped seeing my friends, stopped going to the gym, and started gaining weight."

The Ashford, Surrey, United Kingdom, resident felt like she lost herself. She couldn't look in the mirror without hating how she looked. One night, she was getting ready to go out and something snapped.

 "I couldn't find anything to wear. I was dreading going out because I didn't want to be the fat friend. I broke down and cried," McGee recounted. She didn't end up going out that night; instead, she decided she had to make a change.

"I looked at myself (in the mirror) and I said, 'The amount of energy you're spending hating yourself, you could use that time and energy for changing yourself into who you want to be.'"

This was three years ago and McGee hasn't looked back since. She joined the weight-loss program Slimming World and took control of her life.

"I was really excited to start. Joining the plan felt like a glimmer of hope, and like I would gain control of my life again," she said.

 Here are the five steps McGee took to start living a healthier lifestyle:

1. Plan your meals ahead of time.

"Back when I was heavier, I was eating less. I would skip breakfast, eat a sandwich for lunch, and then end up binge eating in the evening," McGee remembered. Now, she prepares for her day the night before.

"I learned how to portion my plate, to include veggies, carbs and proteins."

2. Find an activity you enjoy doing.

McGee started by walking more with her dog, then she got a bike and started cycling a lot. But what really worked was finding a fitness class she loved.

"I started taking Zumba classes, and I really enjoyed it!" McGee said. "When you enjoy something, you want to do it more."

3. Realize you're not alone.

"I've had weeks where I cried, but the support network provided by Slimming World gave me a safe place where I could cry, but they would still help me focus on the positives," she said. "They helped me celebrate, even on the weeks that I had gained (weight)."

4. Have hope.

"There are millions of people who struggle to lose weight, if we're all in it together, it makes it less scary," McGee explained. "You should never feel ashamed of where you're at."

5. Continue to live your life.

McGee isn't a slave to the number on the scale.

"I've gone on holidays where I expect to gain weight, and when I return and get back in my routine, it's off again," she explained. "I'm living life in the healthiest way possible — physically and mentally."

                          

By: Erin Brodwin

Every year, supplements send roughly 20,000 people to the emergency room.

Last year, the world's largest dietary supplement maker, GNC Holdings Inc, agreed to pay $2.25 million to avoid federal prosecution over its alleged sale of illegal pills and powders.

And the Food and Drug Administration has ordered the makers of several supplements to recall their products after scientists found traces of illegal and potentially dangerous molecules in their formulas.

Still, while many supplements are useless, there are others that we can't enough of simply by eating a healthy diet.

So here are the supplements you should take — and the ones to avoid.

 Protein powder: Get it — eat beans, tofu, nuts, fish, or meat instead.Marketed as necessary for weight gain and muscle building, protein is one of the best-selling supplements in the US.

Protein is good for you — it helps build muscles — but most Americans get plenty in their diets. In fact, most of us get too much. Meat, fish, beans, tofu, and nuts are rich in protein. Plus, numerous companies have been accused of spiking their protein powders with cheap fillers — another reason to avoid the powdered stuff.

Homeopathic remedies: Skip them — they don't work.

 Advocates of homeopathy — which involves diluting an active ingredient until there's no measurable quantity left — claim that the treatments can do everything from relieving colds to calm anxious pets.

But homeopathy has repeatedly been shown to be ineffective. A 2005 study published in the medical journal The Lancet found the approach was roughly as effective as a placebo.

Workout boosters like Jack3d or OxyElite Pro: Skip them — they've been linked to illness and at least one death.

For years, the makers of these supplements, whose active ingredient is dimethylamylamine (DMAA), claimed that they increased speed, strength, and endurance.

But in 2011, after two soldiers who used Jack3d died, the US Department of Defense removed all products containing DMAA from stores on military bases. A 2015 indictment against Dallas company USPlabs, which makes OxyElite Pro, accused the company of falsely claiming that its product was made of natural plant extracts. In reality, it contained synthetic stimulants made in China. The indictment also claimed that the use of OxyElite led to several liver injuries and at least one death.

 Zinc: Take it — it's one of the only ingredients shown to shorten colds.

Zinc seems to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses, the bugs that cause the common cold.

In a 2011 review that looked at studies of people who'd recently gotten sick, researchers compared those who'd started taking zinc with those who just took a placebo. The ones on zinc had shorter colds and less severe symptoms.

Creatine: Get it — Unless you eat red meat instead.

We all produce natural, low-level amounts of creatine, a compound that helps our muscles release energy. Studies show that we produce more of it when we eat meat regularly.

Research suggests that taking creatine supplements could have moderate benefits on specific kinds of short-intensity workouts. It appears to help muscles make more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a chemical-energy transporter. But unsurprisingly, there's no evidence that it's beneficial for other types of exercise involving endurance or aerobics.

 Weight-loss pills like "Hydroxycut": Skip them — their claims are dubious.

Weight-loss supplements like Hydroxycut claim that they can help you slim down with a boost of "pro clinical" ingredients. The formula once contained Ephedra, a powerful stimulant linked to 155 deaths that was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2003.

Today's ingredients are simply caffeine and four herbal extracts: Lady's mantle, wild olive, komijn, and wild mint. Several studies show caffeine can help boost metabolism and encourage moderate, short-term fat burning. But no long-term studies show caffeine helps with sustained weight loss.

 Folic acid: Take it if you're pregnant or want to get pregnant.

Our bodies use folic acid to make new cells. The National Institutes of Health recommends that women who are currently pregnant or who want to get pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily since their bodies demand more of this nutrient when carrying a growing fetus.

Several large studies have also linked folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy with decreased rates of neural-tube defects, which are serious and life-threatening defects of a baby's brain, spine, or spinal cord.

Green-coffee extract: Skip it — the only study backing it was pulled.

"You may think magic is make-believe, but this little bean has scientists saying they've found the magic weight-loss cure for every body type," Dr. Oz said of green-coffee extract on his show in 2012.

Unfortunately, there was only one study backing green coffee's alleged weight-loss capabilities, and it was funded by the extract's manufacturer. The study was retracted a few months later.

Green-tea extract: Try it — it's been linked with some health benefits, and is generally considered safe.

A series of preliminary Mayo Clinic studies conducted in 2010 showed promise for the potential use of a chemical component of green tea (epigallocatechin gallate) in reducing the number of cancer cells in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Research on green tea consumption in people with other forms of cancer has been too limited to say whether it's beneficial.

Brewing and drinking green tea is the easiest way to get the extract, but it's also added to foods like yogurt and other beverages, or available in pill form.

 Gingko Biloba: Skip it — the studies don't prove it helps.

Ginkgo biloba, which comes from the maidenhair tree, is one of the best-selling products in the US for memory loss and is often marketed as a "brain booster."

But the evidence is inconsistent. A small 2006 study found ginkgo was as effective as the drug donepezil for boosting attention and memory in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. But a large 2008 study of healthy older people found no evidence that ginkgo helped to prevent dementia, including Alzheimer's. A 2009 follow-up study also found no evidence that gingko slowed cognitive decline or memory loss.

Fluoride, it's about time we discuss. This is a naturally occurring mineral which is said to help prevent tooth decay. The forms of fluoride added to our water are not natural forms.

Fluoridation began over 55 years ago with the belief it will decrease tooth decay. As of 2014, 66.3% of the U.S received fluoridated water. We are 1/8 countries in the world that supplies over 50% fluoridation. By contrast, 98% of Europe as well as China, Japan and India do not fluoridate, citing health, ethical, and ecological concerns.

Two of the forms of fluoride (fluorosilicic acid/ sodium fluorosilicate) are bi-products of fertilizer and refining industries respectively. Both the CDC and Pesticide Action Network databases clearly define these substances as extremely toxic in high amounts to humans and animals...but it's in our water.

The prestigious Lancet journal has classified fluoride as a neurotoxin and raised concern over developmental disabilities as it has been connected to lower IQ levels in multiple studies.

We excrete 50-60% of fluoride per day and the rest builds up in bones and the brain's pineal gland (extremely important release of antioxidant, anticancer, and sleep regulating melatonin).

There are multiple animal and human studies that suggest fluoride is directly implicated in the development of osteosarcoma cancers. Dr. Elise Bassin found a 5-7 fold increase in osteosarcoma in boys by age 20 when ingesting fluoridated water mid-childhood. The study that followed and disproved this finding was very poorly designed and lead by (not coincidentally) a long time Colgate editor and chief and paid consultant.

Do we need it? The answer is a resounding NO. Particularly because both countries that fluoridate and those that do not have seen very similar drops in decay since the 70's according to the W.H.O. We are adding a proven poison in low doses to everyday drinking water. Think about this...a pea sized amount of toothpaste has 0.3mg of fluoride whereas a 16 oz glass of water has 0.5mg...Why is there a warning saying to call poison control if we swallow more than we use to brush? Tag others and spread this to all 🏽.

 

 

Planning a meatless menu for the week has its pluses and minuses. On one hand, you don’t need to worry about using up chicken breast or ground beef before it gets wonky on you. On the other, it can be dangerously easy to buy way more produce than you can finish in five days, skimp on protein, or find yourself in a recipe rut when you’re trying to stick to affordable, veggie-based meals.

Not anymore, friends. With this meat-free meal-prep plan that calls for just eight ingredients and some weekend prep, we'll show you how to get inexpensive and well-balanced meals from Sunday through Thursday without getting bored with what's on your plate.

STEP 1:
Head to the grocery store.

Take, oh, about 45 seconds to write down your list—or simply screenshot this list to bring with you to the supermarket (because we know you never forget your phone).  

 Storage Containers:

  • 4 airtight containers (1 for cooked brown rice, 1 for cooked spaghetti squash, 1 for roasted broccoli, 1 for chickpeas)

  • Plastic wrap for the avocado (or an avocado saver)

STEP 2:
Prep everything in 30 minutes.

Devoting a bit of extra time on Sunday will make for effortless eats all week.

1. Cook brown rice.
If you’ve got a rice cooker, simply follow the instructions. For the stovetop method, combine rinsed rice with about 3/4 cup water and a pinch of sea salt in a pot, then bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat, place a lid on the pot, and let it hang out for about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, cool, and then store the rice in an airtight container.
2. Cook the spaghetti squash. 
Check out our foolproof, step-by-step guide to get it justttt right. Store in an airtight container once cooled.
3. Roast the broccoli.
If your oven is big enough, you can save some time and roast your broccoli alongside the squash. Break off florets from the head; place on a baking sheet; and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until you see the tops getting slightly brown. Once cooled, store in an airtight container. Fast alternative: Broil the broccoli on high for 10 minutes for extra crispy florets.
4. Rinse chickpeas.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas from the can and store them in an airtight container.
5. Spinach, avocado, and feta can stay as is until you need them. Bagged spinach is usually pre-rinsed, so you’re all set there. Cut into the avocado and open the box of crumbled feta only right before you use them. Rub a dab of olive oil on the avocado flesh you're not using and wrap in plastic to prevent it from going brown on ya.
6. Store tahini.
Tahini can last up to six months, so even though you only need three tablespoons this week, you can look forward to using this flavorful sesame seed butter for as long as it will last (which we don't predict will be very long since you'll want to just stick a spoon in it). Check the instructions on the bottle to see if it needs to be refrigerated.

STEP 3:
Celebrate the fact that 5 vegetarian dinners are ready for the week.

Enjoy the delicious rewards of your Sunday labor with easy dinners through Thursday night (and then get a well-deserved night out on Friday).

Satisfying Sunday
  • 1/2 cup brown rice

  • 1/4 cup feta

  • 1/2 cup chopped baby spinach

  • 1/2 cup roasted broccoli

  • 1 tablespoon tahini

How to eat: Nuke the rice to get it warm (drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of water to keep it from going dry in the microwave), then stir in the chopped spinach and feta. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve with broccoli on the side, drizzled with tahini for extra flavor.  

Meatless Monday
  • 1/2 spaghetti squash

  • 1/2 avocado, diced

  • 1/4 cup chickpeas

How to eat: Reheat the spaghetti squash on the stove or in the microwave with a drizzle of olive oil. Toss avocado and chickpeas with salt and pepper, and add to the bed of spaghetti squash. 

Tahini Grain-Bowl Tuesday
  • 1/2 cup brown rice

  • 1 cup roasted broccoli

  • 1/4 cup chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons tahini

How to eat: Combine brown rice, broccoli, and chickpeas in a bowl; season with salt and pepper; and drizzle with (a ton of) tahini.

White Wine Wednesday
  • 1/2 spaghetti squash

  • 1/2 cup feta

  • 1 cup spinach

How to eat: This recipe needs about a minute on the stove as you heat up your spaghetti squash in some olive oil; throw in the spinach for the last 30 seconds to get it wilted. Take it off the stove and stir in the feta. Season with pepper to taste. And then pour yourself a glass of white wine, since you're halfway done the work week.

Throw-It-All-In Thursday
  • 1/2 cup spinach

  • 1/2 avocado

  • 1/2 cup chickpeas

  • 1/2 cup roasted broccoli

  • 1/4 cup feta

How to eat: Top a bed of spinach with the rest of the ingredients, then drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. It’s filling enough to hold you over during happy hour, but light enough so that you can still partake in midnight munchies (if that's your thing).  

Let’s be real. Sometimes a hot meal is just out of the question, especially when road trips, late-night work shifts, and nasty office microwaves get in the way.

But hey, that’s not so bad. You can still enjoy plenty of good food, and we aren’t talking about settling for cheeseburgers and curly fries on your next lunch break. These healthy, portable foods are ones you can prep ahead of time so you can easily toss them in your bag before rushing out the door. Stocking your kitchen with them is one of the easiest ways to stick to your healthyish eating plan (that one you promised yourself on Sunday morning). Enjoy them all week... no zapping necessary.

Breakfast

 

1. Eggs

Meal-Prep: Hard-boil 10 eggs on Sunday, purchase a couple of avocados, and your breakfast is ready all week long. Not a fan of boiled eggs? Put a tiny bit more effort into your prep and make these super-easy tomato egg cups or bacon egg muffins instead.

Bonus Tip: They (boiled eggs and egg muffins) last in the fridge Monday through Friday and are just as good cold or at room temp as they are warm.

2. Sausage

Meal-Prep: All sausage types can work here, but our favorite is chicken sausage. There are so many varieties (apple! spinach feta! spicy pepper!) that our taste buds never get bored. They typically come precooked, so all it takes is a quick sauté in a pan (about 8 minutes) to get them a little crispy.

Bonus Tip: With just a few veggies, you can create one-pan sausage meal-prep recipes or stir-fries that make for quick, healthy breakfasts all week. Change it up each day by enjoying one as a full link, slicing another into circles and adding to your egg scramble, and chopping up one into bite-size pieces and sprinkling over oatmeal for a savory touch (don't knock it 'til you try it).

3. Oatmeal

Meal-Prep: There's so much to love about oats. Not only can you purchase a massive bag of them for under $5, but they're loaded with fiber and are one of those foods that will last you all week. From overnight oats in a jar to baked oatmeal recipes, you're ready for a run-out-the-door breakfast that doesn't need to be reheated.

Bonus Tip: These meal-prep overnight oats might be our favorite breakfast ever. See ya, microwaved oats that always explode in the nuker.

4. Bacon

Meal-Prep: There's *always* room for bacon. Instead of creating a hot mess on the stovetop, cook the strips in the microwave with paper towels covering each layer. This is the only nuking you'll do all week, because they last in the fridge for five days.

Bonus Tip: Our favorite thing to do with bacon is make a BLAT: bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato. It takes two minutes to throw together. Just be sure it's cool to use your coworker's mayo. And don't forget that you can add bacon to your egg muffins or crumble it up over the top of a salad.

 
Carbs

 

5. Sweet Potatoes

Meal-Prep: When it comes to vegetables, some last longer than others. Kale? Not so much. Leftovers are usually wilty by morning. But sweet potatoes? Man, we could eat those babies all week... at any temperature. Meal-prep sweet potatoes by starting with three on Sunday: In a 425-degree oven, bake one whole and cut another into cubes.

Bonus Tip: You'll be able to eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... and dessert (I mean, how good are sweet potatoes?!). Want a new sweet potato recipe that you've probably never tried? Make these breakfast baked sweet potatoes stuffed with peanut butter and banana (!!!).

6. Quinoa

Meal-Prep: Just like oats, quinoa can be batch-prepped for an easy breakfast, lunch, or dinner throughout the week. These hearty seeds can be used a million different ways, but our favorite trick? Just make a ton on Sunday and you can enjoy it for breakfast (just like oatmeal) with a dash of almond milk and your favorite toppings, or add spinach, veggies, and goat cheese for a way to round out your meal.

Bonus Tip: TBH, we like quinoa best at room temp or right out of the fridge anyway. If it's clumping together, just add a splash of water or milk and fluff with a fork.

7. Pasta

Meal-Prep: Who doesn’t love a big, hearty bowl of pasta? And it doesn't always have to be a warm Italian meal. Pasta is one of the best foods to eat cold too. It lasts 3-5 days in the fridge, and your mix-in options are limitless. From summer pasta salads to vegan lasagnas, we think cold pasta is just as good as cold pizza.

Bonus Tip: Need more inspo than just spaghetti and red sauce? Check out this visual guide to the most common pasta types and how to cook them. Every single one is delicious right out of the fridge.

8. Lentils

Meal-Prep: We know what you're thinking.... But I have to heat lentil soup! It's soup! We agree, but soup isn't the only thing lentils are good for. If you cook a few large servings of lentils on Sunday, they will last you all week long. To cook, bring 1 cup lentils in 3 cups water to a boil, cover, and reduce to simmer until water is evaporated, about 15-20 minutes.

Bonus Tip: Not sure what to do with all of those beans if they're not going into a soup? Create a filling hummus to use on eggs in the morning or with your chicken at dinner.

9. Chickpeas

Meal-Prep: Chickpeas (some call them garbanzo beans) are underrated. While you might only think of draining them from a can and adding to a salad for that soft texture, we say give them a roast on Sunday. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, add chickpeas to a roasting pan, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 10 minutes. When a salty-snack craving hits, eat them right from a baggie or add to salads for a crunch.

Bonus Tip: If you don't feel like cooking the chickpeas, they're just as good right out of the can. Even better? Use them as a base in brownies... because we could all use a little more chocolate in our lives.

 
 
Protein

 

10. Tofu

Meal-Prep Tip: The beauty of tofu is it picks up the flavors you cook it with. So no, you don't have to cook it, but it's a hell of a lot tastier when you add some sauces and spices. We think it's best tossed in a wok with bell peppers and onions, and a splash of soy sauce and olive oil.

Bonus Tip: If you're totally fine with eating tofu right out of the package, just be sure to store it in water in the fridge to prevent it from drying out. If you think tofu is boring and can't imagine not adding more flavor to it, this banh mi sticky tofu bowl will change your mind.

11. Tuna

Meal-Prep: Whoever created canned tuna must have been a meal-prep master. Canned tuna is one of those ingredients you can bring everywhere, and you don't even need a fridge (as long as it's still in the can). You can toss a can in your gym bag for a portable protein source, but if you like to be a little more prepared, meal-prep it in advance by making a tuna salad with a touch of mayo, peppers, walnuts, and grapes.

Bonus Tip: Don't think canned tuna can make a good meal? Here are nine ways you can turn the chicken of the sea into a delicious meal. Warning: If you plan to eat it at work, you may get some stink eyes.

12. Salmon

Meal-Prep: If you're cooking salmon for dinner, add a few more fillets to the pan, because this fish can last you for the next few days. Rather than heating it up in a microwave and making the entire office smell like a fish market, just eat it cold over a bed of lettuce with some sliced veggies and avocado. We also love adding it to an egg scramble. You don't have to have smoked salmon.

Bonus Tip: If you don't feel like spending last week's paycheck on salmon fillets, look for a frozen version that will be significantly cheaper per pound. Want to spend even less? Salmon comes in a can too.

13. Chicken

Meal-Prep: It's not meal-prepping without chicken! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with oil. Add chicken breasts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until opaque on the inside. Let them cool and divide up into containers, so you can bring them to work all week.

Bonus Tip: Don't get bored with the same chicken every day. One day, add bite-size chunks to this cranberry walnut salad; the next, shred a breast and toss with buffalo sauce and chopped-up celery and carrots. Then get really crazy and roll them up in a corn tortilla with avocado and hot sauce for an easy take on chicken tacos.