Myth of Supplement Danger

It seems that as of late the press will often focus on the potential danger of new supplements in the vitamin market. While this is not necessarily untrue, especially when considering beginners who haven’t quite gotten used to experimenting with a healthier diet and overall lifestyle, it does seem to have blown out of proportion. That is, while there are some possible risks associated with new and emerging supplements that have not been on the market for long,  they are not exactly dangerous.

In fact, according to a recent study courtesy of the peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, there have been literally zero deaths at the hands of supplements. In this scenario, a supplement is being defined as “any amino-acid or single ingredient herbal product.” Said definition encompasses creatine, chondroitin, and melatonin to name but a few.

This information stems from a, to repeat, peer-reviewed, respected, and accurate medical journal entitled the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. This is viable information from a valuable source that happens to disagree with the household name of the FDA. This information is being pulled from here. For further evidence and reading that that article actually pulls from, click here.

Now, of course some supplements can end up harnessing a negative impact on your body when taking too many at once. This sort of irresponsible consumption can be harmful in any regard though. If you exercise too much, you can become dehydrated. But if you drink too much water, you can develop water intoxication. If you stay out in the sun too long, you can develop skin cancer. It should honestly go without saying that too many supplements can be bad for you.

To be safe, one should always abide by the age-old idiom “everything in moderation.” Be responsible and take everything with a grain of salt even when that everything comes from the hand of authoritative sources like the Food and Drug Administration. Practice common sense. Practice rationality. There is no reason to go overboard when moderation will do the job just as well.

To be frank, something needed to be said considering the rampant negative publicity permeating the nutritional market today, especially when that negative publicity can become outright libel. Cheers friends. Have a good one.

Raising the Internal Thermostat

Similar to your house’s thermostat which controls the internal temperature of your home, you have what I like to call an internal thermostat that controls how far you can go in achieving your goals, especially when it comes to your self image. You see, the way a thermostat works is that once you set it, for example, to 70 degrees, the thermostat will make sure that the temperature doesn’t deviate too far from that number. The same concept happens with our internal thermostat. Once we set a certain bar regarding how fit we can be, how much weight we can lose, or how successful we can be, we will never go higher or past that bar. In other words, that bar will limit our growth to whatever we set it, and that’s not good.

As a coach working in the fitness industry for 10+ years, I can attest to the fact that the number one factor that limits people’s transformation is how they perceive themselves and what they believe about themselves. The unfortunate reality is that most people see themselves in a negative light. They feel like they can only accomplish things to a certain point, but they don’t dare to go beyond those expectations. For example, when things become challenging, people’s natural tendency is to hyper-focus on the obstacle itself instead of focusing on the bigger picture – themselves as being overachievers who can and will overcome any obstacle. Moreover, people tend to settle for less because they simply don’t know how to change their self image. Committing to improving your health or losing weight can be tough, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Being disheartened by slow results or overwhelmed by confusing information is normal, I know. But don’t let that limit your expectations.

The key is to visualize yourself as achieving everything and anything you set out to do. Change whatever negative image you have of yourself and replace it with the right images, images that will motivate and inspire you to keep going. Make sure you don’t pigeonhole yourself into thinking you’ve gone as far as you can go and rise above and beyond that internal thermostat inside you. Remember, the sky’s the limit!

Great Foods That Alleviate Stress

Being a human being is a difficult task, especially when you have stress from work, family, friends or other external circumstances that have a negative affect on how you operate sometimes. But, there is some awesome news–believe it or not, there are some foods out there that actually help with stress. You heard me right! Healthy, delicious food that will make you feel better about whatever forms of stress are affecting your day to day life.

Oatmeal

In addition to being an awesome insoluble fiber (lowers cholesterol and overall glycemic index), oatmeal is a great start to decrease stress. This breakfast food is a healthy choice to decrease belly fat while using serotonin for a calming solution to sooth any anxiety.

Oranges

German researchers found that consuming Vitamin C actually reduces elevations in cortisol, which is the most common stress hormone in your body. Oranges are also awesome for maintaining your system’s immune system and fighting sickness.

Salmon

Omega-3 anyone? Fish like salmon is a great nutritional source to reduce stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from increasing when faced with a situation that really gets under your skin. A study at Ohio State University highlighted the fact that omega-3 fatty acids decrease anxiety by 20%. Pass that fish over!

Avocados

Due to their high potassium content, avocados have been shown to help reduce stress-related high blood pressure. These creamy gems contain more potassium than bananas–who would have thought right?

Broccoli

Broccoli contains folic acid, a vitamin that has been proven to reduce not only stress,  but also anxiety, panic, and depression. Not to mention that there are also a great source fiber any time of day.

Almonds

Nothing says relief like almonds, right? These gems are loaded with a ton of vitamins that increase serotonin to help relieve stress or anxiety.The zinc and magnesium combination in these nuts has been shown shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and improving its overall quality. I mean no one wants to fall asleep at their desk in their morning, right?

Blueberries

Loaded with antioxidants, blueberries are also rich in Vitamin C and also help reduce elevations in cortisol. These berries not only taste delicious, but also have a very low glycemic index which is a great plus!

 

17 White Foods to Decrease Belly Fat

In order to brush up on some of that nutrition knowledge, I attended a seminar where various dietitians and speakers contributed their professional opinions about maintaining a healthy diet, etc. Although most speakers were interesting, one dietician sparked my attention because she wants everyone of her clients to maintain a “no white food” diet in terms of processed food such as baked goods with a white flour base. Hopefully she hasn’t sworn off all white food, because cottage cheese and cauliflower are absolute gems in terms of beneficial health gains!

Even though the dietician is fair in swearing off white processed foods, there are a ton of white colored foods that are must-haves in order to decrease belly fat. And believe me, cottage cheese and cauliflower are only a few that can help in this department. There are a wide range of food sources from the dairy to the fish triangle of the food pyramid that work wonders for that belly. Some low carb veggies include but are not limited to parsnips, garlic, onions, mushrooms and turnips. Not to mention you can mix some of these up to reduce even more belly fat!

Also, white beans are a great source of insoluble fiber that yields a very low glycemic index or produces a low amount of blood sugar. Unlike overly processed white bread or cake, white beans actually maintain a healthy amount of blood sugar, while proving to be a super reliable source for protein. Some other great foods to consume for protein are dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt that overall offer probiotics galore. A total gem, right? Although most white fish is great for decreasing belly fat, there are four that you should not consume because of high levels of contamination–stay tuned to find out more!

 

Some Foods That Reduce Stomach Fat

For decades, we have always been told that fat is simply “no good” for you and only causes weight gain among other negative results. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is no reason to view fatty foods poorly anymore. When looking at the food pyramid with grains as the foundational part of any “healthy diet,” it is clear that many times consuming an abundance of wheat actually causes high blood sugar. High blood sugar in turn results to poor insulin sensitivity, thus producing excessive abdominal fat accumulation which has the potential of becoming cyclical for many Americans.

When some people think of “fatty foods,” often times cake or a pastry comes to mind, but there are tons of foods high in natural fat that are loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is sometimes easy to overlook different produce that are a lot healthier for you, so I’m here to shed light on a few that you can start using in your day to day eating habits. The following fatty foods help to maintain a solid fat-burning hormone balance by replacing heavy, wheat foods (bagels, bread) with less processed food that make you feel great after a meal.

Some of our top “fatty foods” to reduce belly fat accumulation are: whole eggs, nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews), seeds (e.g., sunflower, pumpkin, flax, chia), avocado, olive oil, fatty fish (e.g., mackerel, tuna, salmon, trout), and coconut oil. Nuts are super high in natural fat and protien with low calories, fish has high omega 3 levels and avocado or olive oil contains minerals that help heart functions. Seeds such as flax or chia are key components in regulating your intestinal system and providing great amounts of energy, along with maintaining fullness after consumption. These foods will help to not only maintain an overall healthy day to day diet, but also help increase energy levels.

 

The Secrets of Leucine and Boosting Metabolism

Everyone wants to boost their metabolism. From the most in-shape athletes to those just starting to pay attention to their health. Boosting your metabolism can help you burn excess fat, decrease your resting heart rate, and many other functions that increase your overall health.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to boost your metabolism is to increase your protein intake. Protein-rich foods increase metabolic rates over 3 times more than carbs and fats. What’s more, studies show that high protein diets can lead to greater weight loss and fat loss than calorically identical diets with lower protein.

When researchers at the University of Illinois compared the effects of high-protein diet to a standard reduced-calorie diet, they found that people who consumed more protein had a 62% higher fat loss ratio, even though both groups consumed the same number of calories. Essentially, you can consume more calories and lose more fat. The secret to that? Leucine.

Leucine is an amino acid found in protein rich foods. It’s key to preventing the loss of calorie-burning muscle when you’re trying to lose fat and age-related muscle loss.

Why is Leucine so important? Basically, muscle loss contributes to a decreased metabolism. Looking “skinny fat” and rapid rebound weight gain when resuming a normal eating routine after a diet are all things you definitely don’t want.

So how do you consume more leucine? The most leucine rich foods are Lean red meat, chicken breast, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt. If you consume one of these things with each meal, your metabolism will be in great shape!

Research also shows that leucine, when paired with intensive training can be even more beneficial. In skeletal muscle, there’s a decrease in leucine during exhaustive aerobic exercises. While those are great for burning fat, incorporating muscle building weight training into your workouts is a great way to keep your leucine production up. Which, in turn, will keep your metabolism and help you burn fat and stay in shape.

Don’t Eat Vegetables Without Olive Oil!

We all know that veggies are awesome for your health, your waistline, and your dinner plate. Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant phytochemicals. However, it’s sometimes not enough to just crunch away at these vegetables without adding another very important nutrient. The good news is, it’s a delicious one.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that participants who added olive oil to their salads and veggie dishes absorbed much greater amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Those who skipped adding the healthy fat (or chose a fat-free dressing) absorbed almost none.

Why does olive oil matter? Well, the phytochemicals are what help to fight off inflammation, defy aging and control appetite. If you’re not absorbing phytochemicals, you may as well not be eating vegetables at all, since you’d be throwing away the vast majority of what makes them healthy and nutrient.

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats which have been shown definitively to increase veggie nutrient absorption. If you want to get the most out of your veggie intake, top off your salads with olive oil and vinegar. Also, add olive oil to your veggie side dishes and cook your vegetables in olive oil.

Olive oil has many other health benefits. For one, it can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Traditionally, a low-fat diet has been prescribed to prevent heart disease, diabetes and other risks associated with fat. However, more important than avoiding fat altogether is eating the right type of fat. A diet rich in monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil, nuts, and seeds actually protects from many of these chronic diseases.

Older individuals who consume olive oil every day can protect themselves from strokes, according to a study from France. The study looked at over 7,000 individuals with no history of stroke. After 5 years, they noticed that the participants who didn’t have strokes were also the individuals who used olive oil regularly for cooking and dressing food.

Olive oil has also been shown to slow down the aging of the heart. As we grow older, the heart goes through its own aging process. Arteries may not function as well as they once did, and that can lead to a host of other health problems. In a recent study, Spanish researchers found that an olive oil rich diet or other monounsaturated fats could improve the arterial function of elderly individuals.

 

Here’s Why You Should Invest in a Heart Rate Monitor

With colorful little step-tracker gadgets currently dominating the fitness industry, it may seem like heart rate monitors are another mere trend for those starting out in fitness. Sure, they are a good tool for those just picking up some form of exercise, especially running, but are they necessary?

The short answer is no. Obviously, you can still work out and even get fit without a heart rate monitor. However, you may not be getting the most out of each exercise session. This is where heart rate monitors can come in handy.

With a heart rate monitor, you will know your resting heart rate, and can easily discover your maximum heart rate by wearing a monitor while going all out during a workout. In between these two extremes are the numbers you want to focus on. Wearing a heart rate monitor during a less intense workout can help you determine your low intensity heart rate. Conversely, wearing a heart rate monitor during a high intensity workout will give you information on how high your heart rate should be during those more intense exercise days. Once collected, these numbers can be used to optimize your exercise schedule and each individual workout, no matter what fitness level you are at.

For example, let’s say you’re a runner. Heart rate recommendations for fitness runners can help beginners build endurance, and help more experienced runners not slack off during their run. If you’re more of a high intensity interval training type of athlete, you can make sure your heart rate goes to a recommended level during your reps, and does not drop below a recommended resting recovery level. You will find that you’re pushing yourself harder than you ever have before, because a heart rate monitor allows no excuses. Also, in the event that you’re worried about your heart rate going above a certain level, you can make sure it stays steady with a monitor.

Overall, heart rate monitors have the ability to make workouts more efficient and effective. For more information on how to decide on a heart rate monitor, and for heart rate fitness recommendations, check out this great article by REI.

Below, I’ve attached three suggestions of my favorite monitors. Go hard, athletes!

 

How To Have a Healthier Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving coming up, chances are food is on your mind. Not just any food either, food that’s high in calories, fat and, let’s face it – deliciousness. From stuffed turkey drenched in brown gravy to sweet potato casserole topped with roasted marshmallows the Thanksgiving dinner table is the best and easiest place in the world to overindulge yourself. If you’re watching your calorie intake or your waistline, Thanksgiving can be a dangerous time. However, with the right planning and willpower, you can manage to make Thanksgiving a healthy (or at least healthier) experience.

 

Before You Eat…

For one, you need to exercise some moderation. It can be tempting to scoop mountains of mashed potatoes and stuffing onto your plate, but that can be a real problem. If you serve yourself some small portions not only can you manage your calorie intake, but you get to try everything on the table!

Also keep in mind that Thanksgiving is supposed to be about indulgence. It’s okay to eat a little more than your fill during the holidays, but make sure you balance it out. On Thanksgiving for example, have some good, light meals for breakfast and lunch and try to get in some light exercise. That way you’ll feel healthier, and hungrier when the big meal rolls around.

When it does though, there are some simple ways to keep yourself from overeating. Try taking a sip of water between bites to stop from simply stuffing food in your mouth continuously. Also, wait at least 20 minutes before going in for round two. Chances are, your body doesn’t know it’s full until then. After 20 minutes you might find that you don’t have room.

If you’re the one doing the cooking, then it’s that much easier to control how healthy the meal is. Using low-fat meats and dairy products is a simple way to lower the overall calorie load of your meal. If you use them in stuffing, pies and desserts for example, your guests won’t even notice the difference.

 

Burning Thanksgiving Calories

Even with the strongest of resolves, chances are you’ll still need to do some activity to break even calorie wise. Consider even doing some exercise on Thanksgiving. If you jog for just 60 minutes you’ll burn about 500 calories. That’s a slice of pecan pie! If you do an hour of Zumba, you can manage to have an extra piece of that sweet potato casserole.

There are even some activities you can do throughout the day that don’t require putting on your running shoes. Clearing and washing the dishes can burn about 100 calories, and helping clean up the kitchen can burn another 100. Pretty good if you had a little too much green bean casserole.

If there’s kids at your party consider this: An hour of carrying or playing around with small children can burn up to 200 calories. Shopping for 30 minutes can burn up to 80 calories. That’s enough for your mashed potatoes or dinner rolls.

 

The Ultimate Life Hack to Transform Your Diet…For Good

FItnessThe amount of information out there about losing weight is simply mind-boggling. Whether it be anecdotal evidence from your friends and family, things you read online, or advice from a healthcare provider, almost anyone interesting in making a life change for the better is liable to not just find an abundance of data, but conflicting opinions on how to interpret it. This holds true over time as well. Many health-related insights that were widely accepted as true not too long ago are now subject to debate. On the other hand, we learn more and more about our bodies (and changing them for the better) each day.

When weeding through all the information at your disposal, there are a few ways to approach incorporating it into your life. Sometimes, you learn valuable information about the kinds of food you should or shouldn’t eat. In other instances, you might learn the science behind by that is the case. Perhaps most importantly, you learn how to adopt those nutritional insights into your lifestyle. Therein lies one of the greatest and most persistent challenges to a weight loss process. It is never enough to just learn about it – you need to be able to execute as well, meal after meal and day after day.

When you are hungry, if you are unhealthy, there is a decent chance that to make the right choice you need to battle both nature and nurture. Your body composition, hormones, and genetics overall could very well play a hand in your disposition towards less than optimal eating choice. Furthermore, a lifetime of developing poor habits can make it extremely difficult to reverse those patterns and adopt healthier practices. As such, if you are serious about being successful and reaching your fitness goals, you need all the help you can get. Fortunately, there is one simple best practice that, above all else, can help get you where you need to go.

Set yourself up for success.

What does this mean when it comes to eating right? Do whatever you need to do to ensure that when those hunger pangs hit and you need to satiate a craving, that you have planned in a way that eliminates failure as an option. One of the very best things you can do is only keep healthy foods in your house. Removing treats of any variety erase the possibility of you going overboard or abusing them. It is always important to live in a healthy way that is actually sustainable and, for nearly everyone, this does mean it will be both unavoidable and okay to indulge once in while. However, you need to do it on your own terms. Keeping cheat foods at home increase the likelihood that you lose control and go overboard with no real planning or legitimate cause to do so. If all you have is great, healthy options at home then that is what you will eat. Win the war against late night cravings by obliterating its arsenal against you and shopping smart. Your waistline will thank you.