The holidays are approaching and many will indulge, skip workouts, be stressed and gain weight during this jolly season. You don’t have to be one of them. Instead of denying yourself the fun of holiday treats, or beating yourself up for indulging in them afterward, allow yourself to splurge when it’s really worth it. Here are some strategies to hack the holidays.
Pack in the Protein
Be sure to always have some protein at a meal, especially if your splurge food is sugar or really any high carb based foods. This will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you full for longer. Keep track of what you’ve binging on and make it up in your workout the next day. Start your day with a protein-packed shake. This will help stabilize your blood sugar, as well as getting a dose of probiotics that will aid in digestion and keep your stomach from bloating.
Plan to get some burn, baby!
Plan to get some exercise in on the morning of a big holiday, like Christmas or Boxing Day. Go for a run, take an Aerobics, Zumba or Spinning class .. just get moving!
Plan it as something you have to do, not just something you may or may not have time for.
Combat the Food Coma
Go for a walk after a big meal to speed up digestion and avoid the crash. The dishes can wait and you can PVR the rugby or cricket game. What will really help you feel better after a big meal is a nice brisk walk around the neighbourhood. Rally your family and make it fun group activity.
Preempt the Party
Make yourself a protein shake full of nutritious ingredients, before you head out to a holiday party. It is a great way to avoid hunger and overindulgence when you arrive. Watch as everyone else dives into the appetizers while you just calmly wait for the main course.
Drink Cleaner Cocktails
The amount of sugar in most store-bought mixers is a sure-fire way to spike your blood sugar and set you up for a hangover. Stick to cocktails that only use clean ingredients like freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or other citrus fruit juices and/or club soda. When choosing clean-burning alcohol, put tequila, vodka and organic wines at the top of your list. Don’t forget to put a limit on your drinks and stick to it, while including a glass of water between every drink you have.
Ask for New Workout Threads
Put some new fitness gear on your wish list for Christmas. Not only will this keep you motivated before you get them, it will be a big motivation to get to the gym before the New Year’s resolutions begin. New workout clothes, a gym bag, lifting gloves —what will motivate you most?
The hustle and bustle of the jolly season can tire one out.
Download a meditation app and squeeze in a 10- or 20-minute meditation to help focus and relax your mind. After all, the holiday season is better for you and everyone around you if you are relaxed and gracious.
A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they might lack sufficient protein.
However, many experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can provide you with all the nutrients you need.
That said, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others.
And higher-protein diets can promote muscle strength, satiety and weight loss.
Here are 17 plant foods that contain a high amount of protein per serving.
Seitan is a popular protein source for many vegetarians and vegans.
It’s made from gluten, the main protein in wheat. Unlike many soy-based mock meats, it resembles the look and texture of meat when cooked.
Also known as wheat meat or wheat gluten, it contains about 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). This makes it the richest plant protein source on this list (8).
Seitan is also a good source of selenium and contains small amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus.
You can find this meat alternative in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, or make your own version with vital wheat gluten using this recipe.
Seitan can be pan-fried, sautéed and even grilled. Therefore, it can be easily incorporated in a variety of recipes.
However, seitan should be avoided by people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Seitan is a mock meat made from wheat gluten. Its high protein content, meat-like texture and versatility make it a popular plant-based protein choice among many vegetarians and vegans.
Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame
Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans.
Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide the body with all the essential amino acids it needs.
Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled prior to consumption and can be eaten on their own or added to soups and salads.
Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans prior to pressing them into a patty.
Tofu doesn’t have much taste, but easily absorbs the flavour of the ingredients it’s prepared with. Comparatively, tempeh has a characteristic nutty flavour.
Both tofu and tempeh can be used in a variety of recipes, ranging from burgers to soups and chilis.
All three contain iron, calcium and 10-19 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
Edamame are also rich in folate, vitamin K and fibre. Tempeh contains a good amount of probiotics, B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus.
Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans, a complete source of protein. They also contain good amounts of several other nutrients and can be used in a variety of recipes.
At 18 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), lentils are a great source of protein (12).
They can be used in a variety of dishes, ranging from fresh salads to hearty soups and spice-infused dahls.
Lentils also contain good amounts of slowly digested carbs, and a single cup (240 ml) provides approximately 50% of your recommended daily fibre intake.
Furthermore, the type of fibre found in lentils has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon, promoting a healthy gut. Lentils may also help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, excess body weight and some types of cancer (13).
In addition, lentils are rich in folate, manganese and iron. They also contain a good amount of antioxidants and other health-promoting plant compounds.
Lentils are nutritional powerhouses. They are rich in protein and contain good amounts of other nutrients. They may also help reduce the risk of various diseases.
Chickpeas and Most Varieties of Beans
Kidney, black, pinto and most other varieties of beans contain high amounts of protein per serving.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another legume with a high protein content.
Both beans and chickpeas contain about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml). They are also excellent sources of complex carbs, fibre, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese and several beneficial plant compounds.
Moreover, several studies show that a diet rich in beans and other legumes can decrease cholesterol, help control blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and even reduce belly fat.
Add beans to your diet by making a tasty bowl of homemade chili, or enjoy extra health benefits by sprinkling a dash of turmeric on roasted chickpeas.
Beans are health-promoting, protein-packed legumes that contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, sold commercially as a yellow powder or flakes.
It has a cheesy flavour, which makes it a popular ingredient in dishes like mashed potatoes and scrambled tofu.
Nutritional yeast can also be sprinkled on top of pasta dishes or even enjoyed as a savoury topping on popcorn.
This complete source of plant protein provides the body with 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fibre per ounce (28 grams).
Fortified nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese and all the B vitamins, including B12.
However, fortification is not universal and unfortified nutritional yeast should not be relied on as a source of vitamin B12.
Nutritional yeast is a popular plant-based ingredient often used to give dishes a dairy-free cheese flavour. It is high in protein, fibre and is often fortified with various nutrients, including vitamin B12.
Spelt and Teff
Spelt and Teff belong to a category known as ancient grains. Other ancient grains include einkorn, barley, sorghum and farro.
Spelt is a type of wheat and contains gluten, whereas teff originates from an annual grass, which means it’s gluten-free.
Spelt and teff provide 10–11 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), making them higher in protein than other ancient grains (23, 24).
Both are excellent sources of various nutrients, including complex carbs, fibre, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese. They also contain good amounts of B vitamins, zinc and selenium.
Spelt and teff are versatile alternatives to common grains, such as wheat and rice, and can be used in many recipes ranging from baked goods to polenta and risotto.
Spelt and teff are high-protein ancient grains. They’re a great source of various vitamins and minerals and an interesting alternative to more common grains.
Hemp seed comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is notorious for belonging to the same family as the marijuana plant.
Hemp Seed contains no THC, the compound that produces the marijuana high.
Although not as well-known as other seeds, hemp seed contains 10 grams of complete, easily digestible protein per ounce (28 grams). That’s 50% more than chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Hemp Seed also contains a good amount of magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and selenium. What’s more, it’s a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the ratio considered optimal for human health.
Interestingly, some studies indicate that the type of fats found in hemp seed may help reduce inflammation, as well as diminish symptoms of PMS, menopause and certain skin diseases.
You can add hemp seed to your diet by sprinkling some in your smoothie or morning muesli. It can also be used in homemade salad dressings or protein bars.
Hemp seed contains a good amount of complete, highly-digestible protein, as well as health-promoting essential fatty acids in a ratio optimal for human health.
The little green peas often served as a side dish contain 9 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), which is slightly more than a cup of milk.
What’s more, a serving of green peas covers more than 25% of your daily fiber, vitamin A, C, K, thiamine, folate and manganese requirements.
Green peas are also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and several other B vitamins.
You can use peas in recipes such as pea and basil stuffed ravioli, thai-inspired pea soup or pea and avocado guacamole.
Green peas are high in protein, vitamins and minerals and can be used as more than just a side dish.
This blue-green algae is definitely a nutritional powerhouse.
Two tablespoons (30 ml) provide you with 8 grams of complete protein, in addition to covering 22% of your daily requirements of iron and thiamin and 42% of your daily copper needs (33).
Spirulina also contains decent amounts of magnesium, riboflavin, manganese, potassium and small amounts of most of the other nutrients your body needs, including essential fatty acids.
Phycocyanin, a natural pigment found in spirulina, appears to have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Furthermore, studies link consuming spirulina to health benefits ranging from a stronger immune system and reduced blood pressure to improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Spirulina is a nutritious high-protein food with many beneficial health-enhancing properties.
Amaranth and Quinoa
Although often referred to as ancient or gluten-free grains, amaranth and quinoa don’t grow from grasses like other cereal grains do.
For this reason, they’re technically considered “pseudo-cereals.”
Nevertheless, they can be prepared or ground into flours similar to more commonly known grains.
Amaranth and quinoa provide 8–9 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml) and are complete sources of protein, which is rare among grains and pseudo-cereals.
Also, amaranth and quinoa are good sources of complex carbs, fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.
Amaranth and quinoa are pseudo-cereals that provide you with a complete source of protein. They can be prepared and eaten similar to traditional grains such as wheat and rice.
Ezekiel Bread & other Breads made from Sprouted Grains
Ezekiel bread is made from organic, sprouted whole grains and legumes. These include wheat, millet, barley and spelt, as well as soybeans and lentils.
Two slices of Ezekiel bread contain approximately 8 grams of protein, which is slightly more than the average bread.
Sprouting grains and legumes increases the amount of healthy nutrients they contain and reduces the amount of anti-nutrients in them.
In addition, studies show that sprouting increases their amino acid content. Lysine is the limiting amino acid in many plants, and sprouting increases the lysine content. This helps boost the overall protein quality.
Similarly, combining grains with legumes could further improve the bread’s amino acid profile.
Sprouting also seems to increase the bread’s soluble fibre, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene content. It may also slightly reduce the gluten content, which can enhance digestion in those sensitive to gluten.
Ezekiel and other breads made from sprouted grains have an enhanced protein and nutrient profile, compared to more traditional breads.
Milk that’s made from soybeans and fortified with vitamins and minerals is a great alternative to cow’s milk.
Not only does it contain 7 grams of protein per cup (240 ml), but it’s also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 (50).
However, keep in mind that soy milk and soybeans do not naturally contain vitamin B12, so picking a fortified variety is recommended.
Soy milk is found in most supermarkets. It’s an incredibly versatile product that can be consumed on its own or in a variety of cooking and baking recipes.
It is a good idea to opt for unsweetened varieties to keep the amount of added sugars to a minimum.
Soy milk is a high-protein plant alternative to cow’s milk. It’s a versatile product that can be used in a variety of ways.
Oats and Oatmeal
Oats are an easy and delicious way to add protein to any diet.
Half a cup (120 ml) of dry oats provides you with approximately 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. This portion also contains good amounts of magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and folate.
Although oats are not considered a complete protein, they do contain higher-quality protein than other commonly consumed grains like rice and wheat.
You can use oats in a variety of recipes ranging from oatmeal to veggie burgers. They can also be ground into flour and used for baking.
Oats are not only nutritious but also an easy and delicious way to incorporate plant protein into a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Wild rice contains approximately 1.5 times as much protein as other long-grain rice varieties, including brown rice and basmati.
One cooked cup (240 ml) provides 7 grams of protein, in addition to a good amount of fiber, manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and B vitamins (52).
Unlike white rice, wild rice is not stripped of its bran. This is great from a nutritional perspective, as bran contains fibre and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Washing wild rice well before cooking and using plenty of water to boil it is a necessity.
Wild rice is a tasty, nutrient-rich plant source of protein. Those relying on wild rice as a food staple should take precautions to reduce its arsenic content.
Chia seeds are derived from the Salvia hispanica plant, which is native to Mexico and Guatemala.
At 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of fibre per 1.25 ounces (35 grams), chia seeds definitely deserve their spot on this list (58).
What’s more, these little seeds contain a good amount of iron, calcium, selenium and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and various other beneficial plant compounds (59, 60).
They’re also incredibly versatile. Chia seeds have a bland taste and are able to absorb water, turning into a gel-like substance. This makes them an easy addition to a variety of recipes, ranging from smoothies to baked goods and chia puddings.
Chia seeds are a versatile source of plant protein. They also contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.
Nuts, Nut Butters and Other Seeds
Nuts, seeds and their derived products are great sources of protein.
One ounce (28 grams) contains between 5–7 grams of protein, depending on the nut and seed variety.
Nuts and seeds are also great sources of fibre and healthy fats, in addition to iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin E and certain B vitamins. They also contain antioxidants, among other beneficial plant compounds.
When choosing which nuts and seeds to buy, keep in mind that blanching and roasting may damage the nutrients in nuts. So reach for raw, unblanched versions whenever possible.
Also, try opting for natural nut butters to avoid the oil, sugar and excess salt often added to many household brand varieties.
Nuts, seeds and their butters are an easy way to add plant protein, vitamins and minerals to your diet. Opt to consume them raw, unblanched and with no other additives to maximize their nutrient content.
Protein-Rich Fruits and Vegetables
All fruits and vegetables contain protein, but the amounts are usually small.
However, some contain more than others.
Vegetables with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
They contain about 4–5 grams of protein per cooked cup.
Although technically a grain, sweet corn is a common food that contains about as much protein as these high-protein vegetables.
Fresh fruits generally have a lower protein content than vegetables. Those containing the most include guava, cherimoyas, mulberries, blackberries, nectarines and bananas, which have about 2–4 grams of protein per cup.
Certain fruits and vegetables contain more protein than others. Include them in your meals to increase your daily protein intake.
Protein deficiencies among vegetarians and vegans are far from being the norm.
Nonetheless, some people may be interested in increasing their plant protein intake for a variety of reasons.
This list can be used as a guide for anyone interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into their diet.
By Kim McDevitt, MPH RD on August 28, 2017
Top 5 Fat Myths
The discussion around fats and our diet has gone across the spectrum and back again. There was a time when we were told to avoid fats of any form, launching the fat-free dietary craze and then we ran in the complete opposite direction, thanks to Atkins and the low-carb lifestyle, practically maxing out our dietary fat intake.
So where’s the line? How much is too much and what’s not enough? And, if you are going to eat fat, what foods are best? Because, you’ve likely heard, not all fats are equal.
Let’s work through some of beliefs and notions and schools of thought around dietary fat, all while understanding one bottom line. Not all fats are not bad. But, the type of fat and how much fat you eat MATTERS.
Myth 1: No form of dietary fat is okay to eat
Yes, there are dietary fats that you should limit. These include avoiding trans-fats and saturated fats, due to their ability to raise cholesterol and potentially have negative consequences on your health . Avoid these fats by limiting your intake of foods that are high in these fats, including butter, meats, margarine as well as processed and deep fried foods.
However, these are not the only types of dietary fat. There are also “good fats” which include mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fat that includes Omega-3 fatty acids. When these are eaten in moderation and replace trans-fats and saturated fats, they have the potential to have positive affect on heart health.
Beyond heart health, dietary fat also helps with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, vitamin A,D, E and K. Foods with this type of fat include olive oil, sesame oil, avocado, peanut butter and many nuts and seeds. Omega-3 ALA is a fatty acid that cannot be made in the body, therefore you must get them from your diet. Omega-3 ALA can convert into different types of fatty acids once in your body, These are known as DHA and EPA with plant based source being ALA. Walnuts, flaxseed oil and ground flax, chia or hemp seed are high in Omega-3s ALA.
Myth 2: Fat-Free Foods are a smart snack choice
There was a time when it seemed every food marketed and manufactured was fat-free or offered a fat-free alternative. Fat tastes good! And fats are also slower to digest in our body (Mahan, Kathleen. et al (2012). Krause’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process. Elsevier/Saunders. 13th edition. , versus carbohydrates). So, with the removal of fat the addition of other ingredients including sugar, salt or other unhealthy ingredients occurs in order to make up for removed flavour, texture and taste.
Myth 3: Eating too much fat will make you fat
Along with the fat-free craze came the notion that the more fat you eat the more fat you will have on your body. While it is true that per gram fat yields higher calorie than protein or carbohydrate (9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram), the type of macronutrient isn’t the root of the problem. Rather, overall total calorie intake and exceeding your daily calorie needs is likely to result in increased weight gain.
Myth 4: Eating fat will increase your risk of heart disease
While it is true that excessive intake of trans fats may increase your risk of heart disease, plant-based sources of unsaturated fat can help support heart health. Monounsaturated fats may positively influence cholesterol in the body thus supporting heart health. These fats may help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the body thus supporting heart health. Good sources of monounsaturated fats include: avocado, olives, olive oil, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Myth 5 : So you’ve actually bought into the ‘fat-is-good’ craze but now you’re pushing the other end of the spectrum. How much fat is too much?
Today there are just as many articles out there promoting a high-fat diet as there are shunning it. And, thanks to many people seeing weight changes by restricting carbohydrates and increasing fats, it has become a popular way of eating. However, you can overdo it. As mentioned above, there are some fats you should be avoiding all together, others you should limit and some that you need to make sure you’re including!
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines help us navigate this by recommending the following:
- Consume less than 10% of your calories per day from saturated fat
- Total fat intake for adults age 19 and older should make up 20% to 35% of your diet. This means if you eat 2 000 calories per day around 500 of those calories should come from fat. Aim to hit this goal from the unsaturated good fats, like :
- Avocados (monounsaturated fat)
- Olives (monounsaturated fat)
- Nuts (walnuts are rich in Omega-3s ALA)
- Seeds (chia, flax and hemp seeds are rich in Omega-3s ALA; pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are rich in monounsaturated fats)
- Cold-pressed oils (Such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, hemp seed oil)
Why am I so hungry all the time? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Sometimes it’s real hunger and we need to eat but other times we are ravenous just 30 minutes after eating! What’s up? Today we’re taking a look at hunger, what causes it and what we can do to manage it.
WHY AM I SO HUNGRY ALL THE TIME?
It’s crazy, right? You just ate a huge meal and an hour later, you’re starving. What gives? Why am I so hungry all the time?! You might feel like you’re always hungry, or maybe you’re not hungry at all until you eat, and then you’re ravenous, or maybe y0u just ate a huge meal, feeling totally stuffed, only to be hungry again shortly after. Your hunger is always there and often in charge of your whole day.
FIRST OF ALL, YOUR HUNGER ISN’T IN CHARGE
I’ve been there, guys. My hunger used to be in charge, big time. The slightest sensation of hunger and I was in a panic that I needed to eat and I needed to eat now. I’ve since accepted that my hunger is not an emergency. Hunger isn’t in control and you have the power to decide how to respond to it.
AM I REALLY HUNGRY?
If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t starving. We are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where we have access to as much quality food as we need. Your body will be just fine if you don’t feed it at it’s beckon call.
I’m not saying don’t listen to your body. Often, we’re legitimately hungry and it’s time to re-fuel. However, sometimes what we’re experiencing isn’t true hunger. If we can develop a better understanding of hunger and use our common sense, we can determine if we’re truly hungry and need to eat.
Our bodies are highly intelligent and complex but they don’t always know exactly what’s best for us, so next time you find yourself “starving” when you recently ate a meal, it’s time to look a little further. In addition to feeling hungry, sometimes our brains come in with an appetite and ask for things we really don’t need. Say hello to cravings!
It can be challenging to make quality food choices if you’re always hungry. You arrive home from work ravenous and it’s tempting to grab the first thing you see rather than preparing a healthy meal. You ate a sugary breakfast that left your stomach asking for more just 30 minutes later so you decide to hit the vending machine. Feel too hungry, too often and it’s almost impossible to consistently make good food choices.
If you’re constantly battling hunger, eating quality food in the right amounts becomes difficult to maintain, so we end up making poor choices and so continues the cycle.
What might be missing in your diet and what aspects of your lifestyle could be improved to help manage hunger?
WHAT CONTROLS HUNGER
Hunger is primarily controlled by hormones and hormones are affected by the what and how much we eat. There are a number of key hormones that affect hunger. Leptin and ghrelin are considered to be the “hunger hormones” but serotonin, dopamine, neuropeptides and glucagon also play a role.
Understanding how ghrelin and leptin work can help us get hunger under control and reduce the frequency and intensity of hunger sensations. Today, we’re just going to look at ghrelin because it’s the bad boy responsible for making you feel so damn hungry all the time.
WHAT IS GHRELIN?
First of all, I think ghrelin is an appropriate name for this hunger hormone, don’t you think? It reminds me of gremlin, or some pesky, little monster that lives in our bellies, always freakin’ hungry and demanding that we feed it. Rawr!
Ghrelin is secreted by the stomach and is responsible for causing feelings of hunger, hanger and “I might die and/or kill someone if I don’t eat.” Ghrelin also encourages the body to store fat, particularly around the liver and abdominal area. Just what we’re looking for, right?
Luckily, we can tame hunger by controlling ghrelin levels though food and lifestyle choices. Ghrelin is affected not only by what we eat but by everything from stress to sleep, so approaching nutrition from a total wellness perspective can go a long way.
AGAIN, WHY AM I SO HUNGRY ALL THE TIME?!?
We know that ghrelin is responsible for causing us to feel hungry and that ghrelin levels are affected by our food and lifestyle choices. What is it exactly that we’re doing and eating that’s affecting ghrelin? Let’s look at how we can manage ghrelin, then look at what else can increase hunger.
5 WAYS TO CONTROL GHRELIN LEVELS
- Avoid very low calorie diets.Heavily restricting calories (we’re talking 1000 calories per day or less) increases ghrelin production and abdominal fat storage. Your body is like, hey I’m starving over here! I’m gonna store every little bit of food I get, just in case I need it. This doesn’t mean you can’t reduce body fat though a slow and steady calorie deficit but extreme restriction of calories is dangerous for both your physical and your mental health.
- Eat fibre and high-volume foods.When the walls of the stomach experience stretching or pressure from high-volume, fibrous foods, ghrelin production is suppressed. Keeping the belly full of high-volume foods can go along way in managing hunger. I find including a few servings of vegetables at breakfast really helps keep me full throughout the morning.
- Eat more omega-3s. You can use an omega-3 supplementwith EPA and DPA and/or include plenty of foods in your diet that contain them. When we don’t get enough EPA and DHA, it can increase ghrelin production and thereby fat storage around the abdominal area. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has also been shown to boost leptin and reduce inflammation in the body.
- Support healthy digestion.A healthy gut can help control hunger and body weight. To promote healthy digestion, enjoy fermented foods and beverages, digestion-supporting foods, spices an d herbs and consider a probiotic supplement.
- Eat less fructose.Fructose raises ghrelin levels and suppresses hormones that trigger fullness. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat fruit but you try to avoid processed foods which typically have a high amount of fructose in them, often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. There’s nothing good in there. Eat real food.
Ghrelin is also affected by stress, exercise and sleep, so always remember that total wellness is key!
Okay, we looked at how we can control ghrelin production but what else has an effect on hunger? Well, there’s one huge factor that not only causes hunger but neglecting to manage it can have a number of negative impacts on the body. Did you guess what it is? Yep, blood sugar!
HOW BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS EFFECT HUNGER
Maintaining stable blood sugar is one of the most important jobs the body does for us and we don’t always make it an easy one. We sometimes overeat or eat too much sugar, creating spikes in blood sugar that our body has to scramble to correct. This is tough on the body and is at the root of diabetes, obesity and a number of other health concerns.
BLOOD SUGAR PEAKS AND VALLEYS
Hunger is triggered by low blood sugar and this triggering can happen whether you actually need re-fuel or not. If our blood sugar gets too low, our energy levels drop and we experience hunger sensations. Alternatively, high blood sugar can be toxic and dangerous for the body. Big spikes in blood sugar cause big crashes in blood sugar, which causes hunger, leading to overeating and poor food choices. Maintaining stable blood sugar through a healthy diet can go along way in reducing hunger.
WHAT CAUSES SPIKES IN BLOOD SUGAR
Well, it’s pretty simple. Eat foods primarily made up of sugar and you’ll experience a spike in blood sugar and consequent crash. High blood sugar can also be caused by overeating. When we overeat, our bodies go into overdrive to deal with an abundance of sugar.
As the body deploys insulin and quickly compensates to bring blood sugar levels back down, we experience low blood sugar shortly after eating. That’s your body sending you a message that you need to bring your blood sugar levels back up ie. hey, I’m hungry, feed me!
When we experience this kind of hunger it’s pretty clear we don’t need to eat again.We just ate. Don’t add fuel to the fire. Let your body deal with the effects of overeating before you give it more to handle.
HOW TO PROMOTE STABLE BLOOD SUGAR
There are plenty of ways we can assist the body in maintaining stable blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are always going to go up and down but the key is preventing big peaks and valleys. Eat a bunch of sugar on an empty stomach, spike your blood sugar, the body compensates, crashing blood sugar levels, the body sends you a hunger message, you eat again, the cycle continues.
You don’t need to immediately react to that hunger!
Ideally, we’d prevent these blood sugar spikes in the first place. Lets look at a few ways we can help promote stable blood sugar levels.
10 WAYS TO BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR
- Include healthy fats at every meal.Fats have the lowest impact on blood sugar levels and help increase satiety by slowing down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. Get those avocados and nuts into your diet!
- Eat enough protein. Compared to carbohydrates, protein is digested more slowly and when it’s consumed on it’s own, doesn’t create the spike in blood sugar that carbs do. Remember, low-sugar protein powder and bars are okay to help supplement protein but it’s important to include whole food protein sources in your diet.
- Eat a balance macronutrients at each meal to help slow down the digestive process. Carbohydrates are essential and typically make up somewhere between 40 and 60% of a healthy diet. The key is to include a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein with every meal to help slow down their digestion and keep you full. That being said, sometimes we want quick digesting carbohydrates, for example, when we’re weightlifting or performing high-intensity exercise but we’ll look at that another day!
- Eat more non-starchy vegetables.These high-volume, fibrous veggies are digested more slowly than starchy vegetables and have a low impact on blood sugar.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can cause an immediate rise in blood sugar and then a large drop a few hours later. If you do consume alcohol, do so in moderation and with some food in your stomach.
- Include fibre with every meal.Similarly to fat and protein, fiber can help to promote satiety and help slow digestion, preventing spikes in blood sugar. Fiber also provides a range of other health benefits and is a very important part of a healthy diet.
- Excercise. Exercising on a consistent basis lowers your blood glucose and helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Start the day with a balanced, higher protein meal.Even though I love oatmeal and smoothies at breakfast, it’s important to include a balance of fats and protein. A good choice for vegans and vegetarians is a non-starchy vegetable scramble with tempeh or quinoa porridge with nuts and hemp seeds.
- Don’t skip meals. Eat balanced meals and snacks every 3-4 hours or so to help keep blood sugar stable and prevent overeating.
- Eat ceylon, or true cinnamon.True cinnamon has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels. Try mixing it into tea or coffee, using it in baking and other recipes, sprinkling it on hot and cold cereal and even using it to spice curries. There are a number of benefits to including ceylon over regular cinnamon in your diet, so while it’s a bit of a splurge, if you can get your hands on some, I think it’s worth it.
LIFESTYLE CHOICES AFFECTING HUNGER AND BLOOD SUGAR
Stress, exercise, dehydration and sleep all play a roll in hunger.
Not managing our stress levels can cause cortisol levels to remain high in the body, effectively increasing our appetite. We’ve all been there. Stress eating, emotional eating, whatever you want to call it. High stress levels can effect our appetite, which is psychological drive that causes us to crave particular foods, not to be mixed up with real hunger. Mindful eating and bringing awareness to times you overeat can distinguish between appetite and true hunger. A food journal is often helpful in this case!
EXERCISE, HYDRATION AND SLEEP
As for exercise, daily movement promotes a healthy metabolism, proper digestion, helps to manage stress and of course, has wide range of other health benefits. Do it. Every day!
Dehydration is huge too, and you’ve probably heard it 100 times. Drink more water! As for sleeping, a lack of quality sleep may have a direct effect on how hungry we feel. Sleep duration has been found to reduce levels of leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone and increase levels of ghrelin, stimulating hunger. Not only that, a lack of quality sleep effects mood, recovery, memory, blood sugar and energy levels. I’ll be talking about my routine for a great nights sleep in an upcoming post. Don’t miss it!
Alright! That was really fun to chat about. We talked all about ghrelin, how to manage it to control hunger and what we can do to promote stable blood sugar. Where to go from here….
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
When it comes to nutrition and fat loss, knowledge is power. Arm yourself with the tools you need to succeed. Read, listen to podcasts, surround yourself with people who share similar goals and that you can learn from. The more we understand about our bodies and how powerful the food we eat is, the easier it becomes to consistently make quality food choices. That chocolate chip muffin might not be as appealing when you know it will cause a spike in blood sugar, causing you to crash and leaving you feeling hungry shortly after eating it, creating an endless cycle.
WHERE TO START
If that all seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry about it! Pick one thing to focus on. Maybe you start by including one omega-3 rich food in your diet every day. Or maybe instead of a whole chocolate chip muffin, you eat half along side a big tofu and vegetable scramble. Maybe you focus on getting to bed an hour earlier this week.
Improvement over perfection, guys. It’s a lifelong journey and it isn’t a linear one! These aren’t the rules and they certainly aren’t set in stone. Sometimes we’re going to eat the damn (vegan) doughnut. These are simply some steps you can take to help get a hold of your hunger. One step of a time, you don’t have to do all these things at once. Perfection only sets us up for failure. Consistency and steady improvement are the golden ticket.
It’s never to late to educate yourself, improve your diet and keep striving towards your best self. When we feel good, feel comfortable in our skin and have plenty of energy, everything in life gets easier, so keep after it, guys!
Strive to be the best version of yourself, at any given time, with what you have.
March 17, 2017 by
Not everyone is on board the ship that holds these beliefs though. Some people, myself included, are a lot more skeptical when it comes to the healthfulness of milk. I actually think Arnold hits the nail on the head with his statement. He may have been half-joking, but the fact is that milk is indeed for babies. There’s no doubt that milk is the perfect food for a growing child. It’s not the perfect food for an adult though.
What role does milk play in the mammalian diet?
The milk of each mammalian species here on Earth was designed by evolutionary forces (e.g., natural selection) to support the growth and development of the young of that species. It was obviously not designed to promote health or longevity in members of another species.
This basic fact is often left out in discussions about milk. Instead of taking a step back and asking what role milk plays in our diet, dietitians typically jump straight into the specifics and examine what types of nutrients and other compounds that are present in the white liquid we call milk.
This approach is very common in nutrition, regardless of what type of food that’s being investigated. This is unfortunate, because this approach doesn’t really give us a good answer as to whether or not it’s healthy to consume the food in question.
The fact that a specific food is high in certain vitamins or minerals or low in certain nutrients that are believed to cause us harm doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a healthy food. It’s important to see the forest for the trees. If we stand too close to the object under investigation, we’ll be able to closely inspect its composition and details; however, we may be unable to see the big picture of things.
Milk, regardless of what animal species it’s derived from, contains an impressive repertoire of nutrients, growth factors, hormones, and bacteria. These compounds are there for a reason; they didn’t just happen to be there by chance, which seems to be what some people think.
Here’s what a recent review paper had to say about the role milk plays in the mammalian diet:
Milk plays an exceptional role in the beginning of mammalian life and performs its biological function by delivering its amino acid hardware and exosomal microRNA software. These messengers of milk have only one primary mission: to activate and maintain mTORC1-dependent translation and other mTORC1-mediated anabolic effects during the period of postnatal growth and postnatal metabolic programming.
Mammary gland-derived exosomes transmit a sophisticated array of microRNAs that function as a “Trojan horse”, like a retrovirus infection, to “transfect“ the newborn infant with maternal microRNAs that modify infant’s gene expression at the level of posttranscriptional regulation [9,293,294]. In this context, milk is best viewed as each mammalian mother’s nutrigenomic doping system, accelerating postnatal anabolism, cell growth, and cell proliferation of the offspring. (1)
The unique properties of milk
Milk is a very special food. It is produced with the exact purpose of nourishing a growing child. Over evolutionary time, the milk of each species here on Earth has evolved, changing in its composition and nutritional characteristics. These changes have occurred as a result of selective forces acting upon the natural world.
Milk is also an extraordinarily dynamic food: it can change a lot in a very short time. These short-term changes are shaped by mother-child interactions. You may find it surprising to hear, but research has shown that a lactating mother can respond to her child’s needs by altering the production of antibodies and other compounds found in her breast milk (2). This is obviously not something she does consciously, but rather something that occurs naturally as a result of signaling between the mother and child.
This process clearly highlights that milk is a food that’s specifically produced for babies. It is tailored to provide babies with all the nutrients, microbes, and immune-enhancing substances they need to grow into healthy, strong adults that are able to reproduce themselves one day. Because that’s of course the fundamental reason why evolution “bothered” to design a white liquid that provides “everything” that young, fragile infants need to grow and survive in the big, scary world we find ourselves in; it helps them pass on their genes.
“But… I’ve heard that we’ve adapted to drink milk. If I’m not lactose intolerant, why shouldn’t I drink milk?”
I often come across people who make the case that we have adapted to drink milk. In support of this statement, they present evidence showing that a large proportion of the population in many European countries is able to digest lactose without experiencing gastrointestinal distress. In other words, they have a lactose-persistence phenotype.
What a lot of these people fail to recognize is that natural selection doesn’t select for health, but rather for reproductive success. The fact that you’re able to digest and make use of the nutrients in milk without experiencing any acute health problems doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy for you to drink milk.
Lactase-persistence alleles didn’t spread in European populations because those people who were able to digest lactose lived longer, healthier lives than those who weren’t capable of breaking down this milk sugar, but rather because the former had a higher reproductive success than the latter. I.e., they got more surviving offspring.
This isn’t surprising, given that milk is a very nutritious food. Particularly during times of scarcity, it would have been a significant evolutionary advantage to be able to digest milk.
Often, health and reproductive success are linked; but not always. For example, some chronic diseases develop primarily late in life and have little impact on reproductive success. It’s therefore important that we don’t confuse evolutionary fitness with physical fitness. If a trait confers increased reproductive success, it will spread, regardless of how it affects the health of the organism. As we’ll see in the next section, milk consumption has been associated with a range of adverse health effects. Since most of these health effects have little impact on evolutionary fitness, natural selection doesn’t pay them much attention.
Some of the problems with milk
I’ve talked quite a bit about the problems with milk here on the blog in the past. Let’s briefly summarize the core points…
- Milk has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases and health disorders
Milk seems to play a role in the pathogenesis of several chronic diseases and health disorders, including heart disease, insulin resistance, acne vulgaris, and Parkinson’s disease (1, 3, 4, 5).
- Milk is packed with substances that are not a natural part of the adult human diet
Milk contains a wide range of hormones, bioactive peptides, and other similar compounds, some of which breach the gut barrier and induce adverse health effects (3).
- Pasteurization and homogenization may change the structure of some of the nutrients found in milk
Pasteurization and homogenization can force milk casein and fats into new configurations that make the proteins stackable into fibers/amyloids (6). These milk protein fibers may play an important role in diseases such as type I diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease (6).
- Milk is extremely high in calcium
Contrary to what dairy lobbyists want you to believe, the fact that milk is very high in calcium could actually be a bad thing, as an abnormally high intake (from an evolutionary perspective) of calcium may cause mineral imbalances and increase the risk of heart attacks, among other things (3). Moreover, several large meta-analyses have shown that calcium intake is not significantly associated with hip fracture risk in women or men (7, 8, 9). One of these analyses even found that calcium supplementation may increase hip fracture risk (8). Yes, calcium is important, but maybe we’re better off getting it from green vegetables?
- Cow’s milk consumption may adversely affect bone health
Recent research suggests that regular consumption of milk and other dairy foods may increase the risk of osteoporosis (10). In other words, milk may actually weaken our bones, as opposed to strengthening them.
- The macronutrient characteristics of milk differ markedly from that of other foods
Milk (e.g., cow’s milk) is unique in that it contains whey protein, casein, and the disaccharide lactose, as well as many other special nutrients. It’s undoubtedly beneficial for a growing mammal (e.g., a calf) to take in these compounds; however, the scientific research indicates that it’s not beneficial for an adult human, which is not surprising, given that these nutrients are a novel component of the adult human diet. A low intake of these nutrients is unlikely to do much harm; however, a high intake may certainly do. Casein has been shown to trigger opioid-like effects in the brain (one of the main reasons cheese is so addictive) (11, 12); whey is very insulinogenic, may destabilize the gut microbiota, and promote the development of acne vulgaris, among other things; and lactose has been linked with premature cataract formation (3). If that wasn’t enough, milk also contains high concentrations of saturated fat (About 60% of the fat in milk is of the saturated kind).
Milk is a growth stimulant
Another problem with milk that I haven’t talked much about here on the blog in the past has to do with the impact it has on growth and development. Given that milk’s role in the mammalian diet is to support and promote the development of the young, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that milk has been shown to stimulate growth. In children, there’s a strong association between cow’s milk consumption and linear growth. Children who drink a lot of cow’s milk as they grow up tend to become taller than those who don’t (13, 14, 15).
It’s often assumed that this effect is beneficial. After all, we all want strong and tall children. There’s only one (big problem): Cow’s milk wasn’t “designed” to be a health food for the young members of the species Homo sapiens, it was designed to nurture and strengthen calves. I very much question the conventional idea that it’s good for children to drink milk because milk makes them taller.
Unlike what some people think, milk’s effect on growth can’t solely be attributed to its high nutritional value. Milk is capable of activating evolutionary developmental genes, such as FTO and MTOR, which are very important for perinatal programming. This signaling cascade is a natural part of the developmental phase of mammals and helps promote proper growth and development. However, it’s certainly not a natural part of adult life.
A solid body of research suggests that persistent activation of these signaling systems is a major health hazard promoting ageing and early onset of age-related diseases (1, 14).
Here’s what the review paper mentioned earlier had to say about this issue.
Daily consumption of cooled pasteurized milk thus allows excessive intake of milk’s amino acid hardware and milk’s gene-regulatory software, which in a synergistic fashion upregulate mTORC1 signaling enhancing mTORC1-dependent anabolism and mTORC1-dependent mRNA translation. It is becoming apparent that this unnoticed modification of epigenetics by milk consumption has had an enormous impact on modern human nutrigenomics 10,000 years since the Neolithic revolution.
… Permanent overactivation of mTORC1 signaling is the key mechanism driving mTORC1-mediated age-related diseases of civilization [16,17,18,19,67,89,287,293]. … Persistent milk signaling leads to alterations in cell homeostasis, ER stress, cellular malfunctions, organ damage and thus early onset of age-related diseases. (1)
The bottom line
I’d like to finish off with the quote below, which I feel nicely summarizes the main problems with cow’s milk consumption.
Persistent abuse of a developmental nutrient and programming system of another mammal such as Bos taurus, a species whose initial growth rate is four times that of humans, is thus a major pathogenic factor promoting the epidemic diseases of civilization . Wiley was right when she pointed out that persistent cow’s milk consumption is a novel human behavior potentially exerting long-term adverse effects on human health . Taken together: “No milk today, that’s what this message means, the end of obese and Western disease!”. (1)
Protein gets a lot of attention, especially in a plant-based diet where the issue of complete and incomplete protein comes into play, along with protein per amount of weight, which is something else to consider. For instance, we don’t need to combine foods as we once thought to form a complete protein (such as beans and rice). That protein myth died years ago, thankfully when we found out our bodies are capable of using all sources of amino acids to form complete proteins.
Not Just Grams … What to Consider When Measuring Protein
It’s also important to consider that amounts in grams aren’t the only thing that matters when measuring protein in a food. You should also consider what percentage of total calories protein makes up in a food. For instance, beef and animal foods are high in calories and though they contain a good size amount of protein, per amount of calories, beef and animal proteins (even fish) are higher in cholesterol-forming saturated animal fats, where most of their calories come from. Plant-based foods on the other hand, have fewer calories, a variety of sources of amino acids that form complete proteins in the body and per weight, their percentage of protein in the amount of total calories is relatively high.
Some plant-based foods are higher in protein percentage than others, however, so making sure to include a variety of plant-based foods in your diet is important for achieving the amount of protein your body needs. Beef contains 7 grams of protein per ounce for about 75 calories, so let’s compare some better plant-based options that don’t come with the health risks beef and animal proteins do.
Here are five foods with more protein per gram than beef that also come with a higher percentage of protein per amount of calories:
Per gram, Spirulina is 65% protein, the highest amount of protein percentage of all foods. In just 1 teaspoon, you’ll get 4 grams of protein, which is unheard of for all other foods. Spirulina is also a great source of iron, providing 80 % of your daily needs in just 1 teaspoon and at only 30 calories. You can add this blue green algae to your smoothies to mask the taste and know you’re getting in a nice dose of B vitamins, protein, iron and vital trace minerals. Since it’s also alkalizing, spirulina also reduces inflammation, unlike animal foods that contribute to it.
Yes, the humble Spinach contains 51 % protein (about 5 grams per cup at only 30 calories). It’s also a good source of iron and Vitamin C. This much-loved green is also a great source of folate, an important vitamin for women that contributes to strength, brain function and reproductive health. Adding a couple cups of spinach to your smoothie, salad, wrap, soup, or any other way, is an easy way to sneak in 10 grams of protein without the need for a supplement powder whatsoever.
Hemp is one of the best, easy-to-use foods that’s rich in all essential fatty acids and all 20 amino acids. Per ounce (about 2 tablespoons) has 10 grams of protein, is high in fibre and most of its calories come from beneficial proteins and Omega fatty acids. Unlike animal-based proteins and sources of fat, hemp is very alkalizing to the body and also boosts the mood and energy thanks to high amounts of magnesium. It can also increase metabolism due to it containing 45 % of your daily iron requirements in just one ounce. You can also use hemp protein, another fantastic way to get this whole food into your diet. We enjoy it in smoothies, raw treats, but you can even stir it into oatmeal and bake with it in place of flour if you like. Although, it is better to consume hemp raw (not cooked), as heat destroys the fatty acids.
Per calorie, broccoli has more protein than beef, which about 4.5 grams per 30 calories. Broccoli is also packed with amino acids, fibre, Vitamin B6 to improve your mood and is one of the best vegetables linked to fighting cancer.
Almonds and almond butter both provide 7 grams of protein in one ounce, along with heart-healthy fats and Vitamin E. They’re also a good source of calcium and provide high doses of beneficial magnesium.
Peanut butter is another high source of protein, with 8 grams per two tablespoons of peanut butter. While higher in calories than beef per ounce, these nut butters are rich in amino acids per ounce and also recommended as a good source of plant-based protein.
Plant-Based, High Protein Smoothie
Combine all these foods into a smoothie for a crazy, high-protein meal that your body will love and one that will shock you in how great it tastes! You’ll never know it contains good-for-you veggies!
Servings : 1 Large or 2 Smaller
1 Cup baby Spinach
4 Frozen Broccoli Florets (gives it a surprisingly great thick texture and the other ingredients hide the taste)
1/2 Cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries or Blueberries
1 Tablespoon Cacao Powder (also a great source of protein and more iron than beef)
2-3 Tablespoons Hemptons Shelled Hemp Seeds
1 Tablespoon raw Almond Butter or Peanut Butter
1 Cup Non-Dairy Milk like Almond, Soy, Hemp or Rice Milk
Sweetener of choice – to taste (Stevia, 1/2 A Banana, A Date, A Fig, Raw Honey Or Maple Syrup)
Add all the ingredients to your blender, blend together, decant and enjoy!
Written and published By Kamal Patel at examin.com
Last week was abuzz with headlines ranging from …
● “Nutella causes cancer!” to …
● “Don’t worry, Nutella doesn’t actually cause cancer!”
Which one is correct?
Neither. Here’s what the research actually said. If you’re in a rush, read the blue boxes or the end of the post. If you’re curious, read the whole thing. It’s super interesting, we swear!
A report came out in May of 2016 from a European food safety agency. Under review were some potentially carcinogenic compounds found notably in refined palm oil. And Nutella contains refined palm oil.
So why did all the buzz happen seven months after that report? Because the Italian maker of Nutella, Ferrero (which invented the chocolate-hazelnut spread in the 1940s and currently uses about a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply), decided to start fighting back this month, responding to outcry and proposed regulations in Europe. And the media took note.
Anyway, back to the report. It focused on three specific compounds:
● GE (Glycidol Ester) is the compound that gets most of the press. The GE content of palm oil is much higher than that of other oils.
● 3-MCPD and 2-MCPD can both be produced alongside GE, and can be harmful on their own.
The report found that GE is bad news, at least in animal studies. As a “genotoxin”, it can damage DNA, which is a causative step in the formation of cancer cells. 3-MCPD harmed the kidneys and male reproductive organs of the experimental animals. Data on 2-MCPD were scarce, so we won’t talk more about it.
A report from May of 2016 was revisited by the media in January of 2017, after the makers of Nutella launched an ad campaign defending its use of palm oil — a campaign spurred by Nutella being pulled off the shelves of some Italian supermarkets, and by potential regulations in Europe. The report looked at three potentially harmful compounds in palm oil, with the media especially focusing on GE (Glycidol Ester).
It turns out that babies are at the greatest risk of consuming too much GE, because some babies rely on infant formulas as their sole food source. And guess what can be quite high in GE? Yup, infant formulas. This is yet another reason why breastmilk is pretty great, though in some cases formulas are the only option to feed a baby.
The below chart, copied from the European agency’s report, shows two important points:
● Babies and children tend to consume much more GE (and 3-MCPD) than adults.
● Babies who drink formulas have it the worst off, with more than twice the average intake.
Hold on a sec! This whole Nutella scare may actually apply more to babies (particularly those fed formulas) than to adults. That’s because adults eat a variety of foods, whereas babies don’t. Older children aren’t off the hook, since they often eat a lot of snacks that can contain GE, and also eat a lot in proportion to their bodyweight in order to grow.
People absolutely love shrugging off cancer reports. Either that, or letting the report scare the heck out of them. We like to take the middle ground, as in the case of last year’s big red meat and cancerreport. So … how important is it for you to cut down on Nutella?
The full paper is massive (159 pages) and contains one little line that isn’t mentioned in the abstract:
The report looked at animal studies, mostly in rats and mice. None of the studies were in humans. This severely limits the conclusions that can be drawn from the data, for two reasons:
● We aren’t exactly like rodents. For example, they can make their own vitamin C out of glucose; we can’t, so we have to eat it. More to the point, cancer studies in rodents often don’t translate to humans, partly because rodents seem to be more susceptible to cancer.
● When you lack human data, you end up with really rough risk estimates. For GE, the report’s authors took the dose that caused cancer in rats and divided it by 25,000, then used that number as the “safe” level in humans. Without human data, though, it’s hard to know if this really, really large (and somewhat arbitrary) number isn’t overly cautious.
Finally, one should remember that, in real life, people don’t consume steady supplies of isolated compounds. Nutella is composed of several ingredients, and we eat it in combination with other foods, in different and varying amounts over time.
We lack human data on those compounds, so nobody knows how dangerous they really are. Given the discrepancies that can occur between rodents and humans with regard to cancer, the report might not apply all that well to us. That doesn’t mean you should eat refined palm oil or Nutella all day every day; it just means that the report was really just an initial step in the research.
The report was not a study of Nutella, and that’s what scaremongers don’t seem to understand. GE is formed at processing temperatures above 200ºC (nearly 400ºF). Nutella is processed at much lower temperatures specifically so as to reduce the production of contaminants like GE.
Plus the report explicitly states that between 2010 and 2015, GE levels in palm oils and other fats went down by half due to changes in manufacturing.
Nutella is produced at fairly low temperatures that minimize the production of GE. The report is of greater concern for people who eat refined palm oil that isn’t known to be produced at safe temperatures.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore the report, though. At the very least, you should ask yourself this question: Why was refined palm oil targeted? The answer: Because it is rich in a type of fat called DAG (diglyceride), whereas other oils have more of the normal stuff, triglyceride. And as far as the research group could tell, refined oils are the only direct source of GE in the human diet.
Smelly oils, like palm oil, often need higher heats to deodorize them, otherwise people wouldn’t use them as cooking oils and in food products. And while vegetable oils are somewhat low in DAG when fresh (around 1–3%), once stored and transported they can have double that amount even before refining.
Purified DAG oil was actually studied for genotoxicity back in 2005, with no link being found. Which may seem confusing, since purified DAG oil has around 80% DAG and palm oil around 10% — but genotoxicity tests can differ, as can refining processes. Anyway, purified DAG cooking oil was a big hit in Japan, under the name of Enova, and there’s been a decent amount of research into purified DAG potentially helping with weight loss and metabolic syndrome.
But wait, why don’t you see Enova on supermarket shelves anymore? Because it was voluntarily discontinued in 2009 due to potential toxicity concerns! In other words, it was a canary in a coal mine.
The high DAG content of palm oil is part of what makes it potentially harmful. People don’t use purified DAG oil anymore, but high-DAG oils could be a concern. If you don’t eat refined oils, nor foods that contain them, you don’t have to worry about this report.
DAG can’t produce GE without reacting with chlorine. In fact, 3-MCPD fits under the category of CHLOROpropanol, so chlorine is crucial to this story. Therefore, to be safe:
● Don’t cook your oils in chlorinated pool water (joke).
● Be careful when heating Splenda/sucralose (not a joke).
Splenda, a.k.a. sucralose, is a polychlorinated artificial sweetener. So it’s got chlorine in spades. While Splenda is safe according to current evidence, not much of that evidence is on heated Splenda. It turns out that heating Splenda could generate substantial amounts of the potentially harmful compounds we talked about above.
Other ways chlorine might figure in the equation aren’t that well researched. For instance, it’s possible that fertilizers containing chloride could make the problem worse, but there’s been very little research.
Heating Splenda (e.g. baking with Splenda) may generate chloropropanols. Researchers don’t know much about this, but keep it in mind if you’re a Splenda junkie.
Although palm oil has an especially high GE content, other oils can be a concern, too. Moreover, most people eat foods containing refined oils (e.g. potato chips and baked goods) more often than they eat isolated refined oils (e.g. sunflower oil), so those foods are the greater practical concern. The charts below (copied from the report) show GE levels per kilogram of foods and isolated oils.
Although palm oil has been singled out, other refined oils, whether in isolation (e.g. sunflower oil) or in foods (e.g. potato chips and baked goods), can also be a concern.
You probably just want to know the answer to this question: Should I worry? Luckily, the answer is similar to our takeaways from other reports.
If you eat a diet of mostly unprocessed plants and animals, you’re fine. Carcinogens are everywhere; it’s the dose that makes the poison. But if you eat foods containing refined oils on a daily basis, especially high amounts of refined palm oil, you may want to lower your intake.
High-heat processing is not very healthy, especially for oils; it can produce a variety of potentially toxic substances, from the ones mentioned in this report to other scary initialisms like PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Again, of course, it’s the dose that makes the poison, so the occasional junk food or fried food isn’t a deal breaker.
Humans may eat unhealthy foods and live unhealthy lifestyles, but we’re not lab rats. The report covered only animals studies, which often don’t apply all that well to humans. We don’t know if humans detoxify these compounds differently from rats. We do know that, in our bodies, some of these compounds are conjugated to glutathione in order to neutralize them, and that glutathione is one of our bodies’ powerhouse antioxidants — the production of which is also supported by a healthy diet. So eat your greens!
There’s so much information/misinformation about losing weight. Here are the things nobody told me; the things that I wish I’d known when I started losing…
Throw Away Your Scale
No, seriously. Throw it away. For me (and I think for many people), the scale was just a way to torture myself and continue my cycle of treating myself poorly. Gain a Kg? I thought I was awful and should just stop eating at all. Lose a Kg? I’m great and should celebrate by eating a pizza. The natural up-down fluctuation of our body weight shouldn’t drive us crazy, but it can and for a lot of us, it will.
Still want to use the scale as a tool and not a crazymaker? Use a scale at the gym, or that one at the supermarket. Just don’t keep one in your house. It can be very addictive and it’s frankly a bad way to rate your progress. I can fluctuate up to 2 kgs in a given day due to water/food, glycogen retention and a lot of other issues. Weigh yourself at the same time of day in the same clothes, no more than once a week. Buy a tape measure and measure every two weeks. (Taking pictures once a month is something I really wish I’d done!) Rejoice when your pants fall down … and, throw away your scale.
Fitness is a three-pronged approach.
You need to do cardio, weight training and flexibility training. Just do cardio and you’re on your way to skinny-fat. I see plenty of women who just do cardio and they look alright in street clothes, but when they come into the spin room, they’re just as jiggly as someone who could stand to lose a few. Just do weights and don’t incorporate flexibility training and you’re on the way to bunchy town: short, tight muscles that don’t feel or look good. Just do flexibility training and you won’t burn many calories. I do cardio, yoga and weights. This also goes a long way in preventing workout burnout. I shudder at the mere thought of just doing an hour on the treadmill every day. Boring. Mix it up. Your body and your sanity will be better for it.
What you eat is really, really important.
Remember, you cannot out exercise a bad diet … ever!
You can lose weight eating packaged, processed food with little nutritional value. But, yuck. You’ll be hungry. The portions won’t be large, the nutrients will be lacking and you’ll feel deprived. Most nights for dinner, I have an enormous salad. Ten cups of greens, a homemade dressing with olive oil and lemon juice (or balsamic) and sometimes I throw in some chicken or seafood, or nuts or a bit of white goats’ cheese. I struggle to get that enormous bowl up to 450 calories. It’s huge.
Moral of this story? Eat your vegetables, eat your lean protein sources (and occasionally not so lean—good fats in moderation are a good thing). Eat a handful of nuts. A teeny-tiny ounce of nuts takes the edge off your hunger for hours. Remember, moderation – a handful only because just 28g of nuts is nearly 200 calories. But, nuts have it all going for them: They’re portable and they keep you full. Keeping those nuts handy will save you from many a low-blood sugar induced eating frenzy.
Calories equal energy. That’s its definition. Choose calories that are full of energy and nutrients, not full of chemicals and rubbish. Anything that’s marketed as “good for you” (I’m talking to you, 100-calorie packs) most likely isn’t. If it needs marketing (when was the last time you saw a TV commercial for an apple?), it needs to be sold. Don’t believe me? Just Google around and find some cigarette ads from the 1940s, when those were marketed as healthy and natural. The 100-calorie pack is the low-tar cigarette of our generation. Be smarter than the food industry. Eat foods with one ingredient. That’s my best diet/health advice in one sentence.
The diet and fast food industry want you to stay fat.
Any “get-thin quick” scheme is just that. They want you to “get results” and then pack the pounds back on and come back because “it worked so great the last time.” Any diet that you can’t be on the rest of your life is a bad one. You can’t repent for a month and suddenly never gain weight again.
Any industry depends on repeat business to keep afloat. The diet industry is no different. If diets worked, everyone would go on one, lose weight and keep it off and never have to shell out any money ever again. The same holds true for the processed/fast-food/chain-restaurant food industry. They want you addicted to their food, craving more and coming back. They don’t care that what they’re selling can make you fat and kill you. They just want your money.
Now, I’m not perfect. From time to time, I indulge in junk food. But it’s rare and it’s an indulgence. I hardly ever want it anymore, though, because it makes me feel awful. I can’t believe sometimes that it used to be the cornerstone of my diet.
You will go into mourning for the old you.
I’ve saved this for last because it was the most shocking to me. I lost 25 kgs, became a fit and healthy person and then got really, really depressed and didn’t know why. On some level, I finally realized, I missed my old life. I missed going out and not caring what I put into my body (it was fun at the moment). I missed feeling bad about something and knowing that as soon as I got that ice cream home it would all go away. I missed being invisible once I started getting more attention (especially from the opposite sex).
After I lost the weight, my life as I knew it was over. I got divorced from food as a coping mechanism. Food was, for a period in my life, my best friend. I had to mourn that loss. I had to spend time figuring out who this new person, who would rather go for a walk than for pizza, was. I lost friends in the process (I made new ones after a while). I had to re-learn how to cope with emotions. I had to learn that it was okay to cry rather than eat. I had to learn that it was alright to say I was upset about something out loud, using words rather than food. I had to learn that it was perfectly well and good to stand up for myself rather than eat. I had to learn how to do a lot of things rather than eat. If your change is true and lifelong, you will most likely go through this process, too.
Accept it as part of the journey you’re taking.
Whether you’re headed to your weekly soccer game, crossfit box or a new HIIT bootcamp class you’re likely to wonder, “Should I eat before a workout?”
Honestly, heading into a workout properly fuelled can mean the difference between a good and mediocre workout – and, other than working out without a grumbling tummy, the correct food will help fuel you throughout your training session, so you don’t start strong and then fade as you run out of energy. Selecting the right foods can help your performance (and body) reap the rewards.
That said, what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it are all factors that aren’t always as cut and dried as one may think. The time of day you work out can influence your food choices and quantities. For example, if you’re exercising right after work, you might have a substantial lunch three to four hours before the workout (optimal time for digestion) followed by a snack closer to the workout if needed. However, if you’re a morning person and work out before the rest of your day starts, you may only have a small snack or drink before heading out the door.
While many fuelling guidelines before sport are dependent on the intensity of your workout and your stomach sensitivity, there are some common mistakes we should avoid.
Avoid these three pre-workout fuelling mistakes:
Getting too hungry
Even if you’re looking to drop a few kilos, heading into a workout session hungry can result in lower energy levels and might not help you lose weight – as your body may actually go into starvation mode. In fact, it may cause you to have a sub-optimal workout followed by over consumption of food after.
Instead, have more energy so you can work out harder, by choosing a balanced meal (that includes carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and aim to eat it with plenty of time to digest before hitting the gym, circuit or field. If you need a little something right before your workout choose something small, such as a piece of fruit or raw vegetable crudité with a nut butter.
How much you eat is definitely dependent on a number of factors, including your size, fitness level and duration of your exercise. There was a time when it was advocated to only focus on carbohydrates as a pre-workout meal. We now know that having a meal that is more balanced to include both carbohydrates and proteins is a far better to provide you with a sustained fuel while exercising e.g. it won’t give you a lift only to drop you as your blood sugar gets depleted i.e. like when you eat or drink a high sugar food or liquid. Regardless of your activity, avoid getting trapped in the carbo-load mind-set and instead eat sensible portions and give your body enough time to digest the food prior to your workout.
Eating too much fibre
One component of carbohydrates, found in foods in varying quantities is fibre. Fibre is found naturally in foods like oats, fruits and vegetables and are often added to snacks such as granola bars and cereals. As high fibre foods, especially before exercise, may cause sensitivity in your stomach e.g. bloating, gas etc. it is recommended you stay away from these prior to excersizing. If you realy do feel like that granola bar, leave it for after.
When preparing your pre-workout meals or snacks try and choose foods that can settle comfortably in your stomach, such as piece of fruit or sports drinks/mixes that are a source of mixed carbohydrates and proteins. You may find that these foods are easy to digest before your start moving.
So, what are good options to reach for before your workout?
Here is a list of my top six foods :
Any fresh fruit will do but bananas are a favourite thanks to their portability. Eat alone 30 minutes before your workout or make it more of a substantial snack by adding a nut butter. Bananas also offer your body potassium, an electrolyte required by the body that is lost during exercise via sweat.
Vegetables like beetroot and carrot are very beneficial pre-training as they not only provide nutrients, but can actually assist in boosting performance (think additional nitrogen in the case of beetroot). So blitz up a pure vege or vege/fruit combo smoothie with a scoop of plant based protein. Just give yourself enough time to digest before actually training e.g. at least an hour.
Rolled oats are a great option to have for breakfast when you’ve got some time to digest before heading to your workout (like a weekend morning). However, because they are higher in fibre, you will want to give yourself some time to digest.
Dried Fruit and Nuts
For an easy grab-and-go option a few handfuls of dried fruit and nut trail mix can do the trick. It can be a good snack when you need something on the fly because you can get nutrients and energy for very little volume. Nuts and fruit can provide a combination of carbohydrates, good fats and protein, but watch portion sizes. Calories in dried fruits and nuts add up quickly and so does fibre.
Gluten-free or 100% Whole Grain Bread with Nut Butter and Jam
Sometimes you can’t beat a good old peanut butter and jam sandwich. For a portable snack, pack a PB&J and eat it two to three hours before leaving the office and heading to work out. The peanut butter provides protein while the bread and jam can help to top off your glycogen stores.
For the times when food just isn’t an option, consider a good sports drink – and here I don’t mean reaching for the over coloured, flavoured and sugared drinks masquerading as “sport drinks” these days. Choosing a drink that will offer you carbohydrates for energy and some proteins. A fruit juice mixed in a shaker with a helping of plant based protein powder will do the trick. If you prefer adding some caffeine, add a small helping of green tea.
Keep the container in your gym bag and shake one scoop in your water bottle before and you’ll be ready to go.
The bottom line
A hard workout, especially one significantly over 60 minutes in length, can deplete energy stores in the body. Proper fuelling of balanced meals or snacks can be effective in helping support your energy levels during the workout.
And finally, practice makes perfect. You will likely find that some foods work great before your workout and others not so much. Practice your fuelling just like you do your sport and never test anything new on game or race day!