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Eating Right Before and After Your Workout

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The right nutrients are essential to having good energy for your workouts and in providing your body with a speedy recovery. When it comes to exercise, the first thing that comes to mind for many of us is protein. Protein is certainly a very important part of muscle repair, but there are many other minerals that play an important role such as electrolytes, iron, antioxidants, and essential fats. Here are some tips on getting these into your routine, and at what point around your workout you should enjoy them.

1. First thing in the morning
Start your day of with a large glass of water, or warm water with lemon if you have the time. This will hydrate you after a long night of sleep, and the lemon will alkalize your system. This will help reduce any inflammation you have, aids in strengthening your bones, and improves muscle efficiency.

2. Before your workout
Eat something that’s very easy to digest and full of energy. One of my favorites is a juice with a cucumber, celery, grapefruit, and apple. This juice is highly alkalizing and is a great source of electrolytes, which hydrate you and enhance your heart’s efficiency. Because juice is raw it’s packed with nutrients that our bodies can absorb very easily.
Bananas and dates are two of the most energetically packed fruits out there, and because of their texture they’re very easy to digest. Any other fruit will give you a great boost of energy without depleting you during your workout. Stick with things that are light and easy for your body to process, as these will provide you with the most available source of energy for your workout.

3. After your workout
This is an important time to provide your body with a nutrient rich and easily digested meal. I like to start with a kale smoothie, loaded with omegas, protein, fiber, and iron. Greens are packed with chlorophyll, which oxygenates your cells and boosts your energy after intense exercise. You can add anything you want to a smoothie, which makes it the perfect post-workout meal, as you can take care of all your body’s needs in one drink.
Antioxidant-rich berries are great for after a workout, as they speed recovery and protect cellular health. A soothing cup of green tea can do this too. Nuts like walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, and hemp seeds are excellent sources of protein, so its worth always having those around to snack on. Or, try my raw SuperCereal. If you’re up for it, a spoonful of coconut oil is a quick way to get an omega-3 boost, which will help you burn body fat as fuel more efficiently and improves joint function. A quinoa salad with avocado, tomatoes, spinach, and pumpkin seeds will cleanse your system and provide you with calcium, iron, protein and omega-3s.

By properly taking care of your body before and after your workouts you’ll ensure that you get the most out of your practice, and will also prevent any odd cravings that might arise with an intense regimen. Share your favorite way to get ready for or wind down from a workout, and any recipes you really like!

Photo credit: CityofShamballa.net

 

 


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Green and Gold Immunity Smoothie

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This is one of my favorite smoothies to have in the mornings or as a post-workout snack. It’s full of protein and super energizing. Try some or all of the superfood additions, they’ll take this smoothie to a whole new level and will provide you with tons of macro and micro nutrients necessary for your radiant body and mind.

Big handful Kale (I like dino/black kale)

8 oz Rice milk (or any low sugar non-dairy milk that you enjoy)

6 pineapple squares (I like to get pre-cut from Whole Foods)

1 banana

1 tbsp. nut butter (I love raw almond butter)

½ C. ice

 

Optional Superfood Additions

For protein: 1 tbsp hemp seeds

For omegas and metabolism health: 1 tbsp coconut oil

For iron and protein: 1 tbsp chia seeds

For energy: 1 tsp maca

For fiber and omegas: 1 tbsp ground flax

Photo Credit: BeeGreenWorld.com


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5 Beliefs That Lead Us to Gain Weight

I talk to people all the time who are so confused as to why they’re gaining weight. They tell me they don’t eat much and when they do it’s low fat, or they pay so much attention to calories and carbs that this should be thinner. They’ve tried so many ways of slimming down to no avail, all of which ended in frustration and usually a carb-fest. Why is it so hard for us to be thin?

Let’s look at the broad picture…

Americans are fatter than ever before and we’re getting larger by the generation. From the outside this would seem unlikely: everywhere we go we see new ways to lose weight, fat free foods, and gyms on every corner. We have access to the highest quality food and information about nutrition, but we continue to get heavier and sicker every single year. Of our $2 trillion healthcare budget $1.5 trillion is spent treating preventable diseases. If we are supposedly more educated, more active and more aware than ever before, why are we still gaining weight?

As food has become more of a hot topic it’s become much more complicated. The healthiest foods for us have one ingredient, are grown in the ground and have an expiration date. These foods are making up smaller fractions of our diets as they’re being replaced with complex, more elaborate versions of food.

What’s making things even more difficult are the multitudes of diets that are out there now: gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, Paleo, non-fat, low-fat, low-carb, GMO-free, blah blah blah. How are we supposed to eat anything when everything is bad for us??!

These diets lead people to eat all kinds of things that really aren’t good for them, and on top of that, dieting, as it turns out, is the biggest pre-cursor for weight gain.

Many things affect the way we do (or don’t) gain weight- genetics, environmental factors, our inner ecology, and our body types. The nice thing to know is that there are healthy ways to control our weight and give our bodies what they need, while still enjoying what we eat. For many people it’s the beliefs around food that lead to the development of sickness and weight gain in certain people. Here are some beliefs we hold as a society that lead us to unsuspectingly gain weight, and why it’s so important to change these beliefs.

1. All calories are created equal

A lot of people seem to believe that it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you watch your calories. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. What’s much more powerful than how many calories we consume is what certain foods cause our hormones to do.

Our hormones govern everything in our bodies. Hormones such as insulin, thyroid hormone, cortisol and estrogen regulate our weight, energy levels, concentration, immune response and more. The food we eat has an enormous influence on our hormones and has the power to disrupt their delicate balance, which can lead to lots of problems, one of which is weight gain. If your hormone balance is off this can increase cravings for sugar and carbs, encourage you to eat more in a sitting and more often, feel less satiated after a meal, and cause your body to store more food as fat. This imbalance will do much more harm to your waistline than an extra 100 calories from an avocado or olive oil will

For instance, something may be very low in calories, but still contain high-fructose corn syrup. What you’re eating may be low fat, but when it enters your body and you digest it, high fructose corn syrup causes a huge spike in insulin levels, which instructs your body to store fat. This accelerates insulin resistance and obesity, and causes resistance to leptin, the hormone that signals to your brain that you are full. The same effects happen from foods with artificial sweeteners, pesticides, hydrogenated oils, and refined flours and sugars.

Ingesting less calories will not prevent you gaining weight, especially if the foods you are eating are loaded with ingredients made in a lab. When the body detects a toxin it extracts it from the blood stream and puts it in a fat cell to protect the organs from the toxin. People who have very toxic systems tend to gain weight quickly because their body is doing it’s best to protect the vital organs from the toxins.

There needs to be a shift in thinking that values quality of calories over quantity.

Although there is no perfect combination for the right hormone balance, the right foods, consistent exercise, good sleep, and stress management will certainly help. High fiber, whole foods (leafy greens, mushrooms, ginger, flax, quinoa, and water, to name a few) help stabilize your metabolism, improve the efficacy of your kidneys and liver, strengthen your digestion, and reduce inflammation. These are the things your body needs to be thin and energetic, not fewer calories.

2. Fat free foods will help us lose weight

With so many items out there to choose from, food companies have devised clever ways to market their products. Unfortunately these labeling tactics can be deceptive and misleading. Because of our country’s obsession with dieting and being thin, a lot of foods are marked as low fat or fat free. What we fail to consider is how something with supposedly zero calories can still taste good. The way the food industry makes things taste good while having no calories or fat is to artificially enhance the flavor through processed additives such as high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. Things like yogurt, cereal, bagels, lean cuisines and sodas usually have these chemical additives in them.

Artificial sweeteners not only fail to satisfy your hunger the way real sugar would and leads to overeating, but they have an extremely high glycemic load resulting in insulin production and increased fat storage. They also inhibit the hormone leptin that increases your metabolic rate and signals to your brain that you’re full.

There are numerous other risks associated with consuming artificial sweeteners such as depression, anxiety, headaches and brain tumors, but for those most concerned with vanity they will most definitely lead to weight gain.

If you are eating something that comes in a package, flip it over and read the ingredients. If there are artificial sweeteners and chemical additives, there is a 99% chance that those ingredients will encourage your body to put on weight.

The lowest calorie foods are not advertised as such because they come naked, as they are, in the fruit and vegetable section. If fruit and vegetables are organic they are our best bet to reduce our chances of unsuspectingly consuming chemicals and additives that contribute to weight gain.

3. Dairy is good for us

I’m sorry to say this, but dairy has the nutritional content of cardboard.

There is a school of thought that full fat, whole milk and cheese provides enzymes and probiotics important for a healthy system. This may have been true when people raised their own cows but with commercial dairy this is typically not the case. There are many reasons not to eat dairy, so I’ll just make it straightforward:

· Dairy products are so highly pasteurized and processed that any nutritional value the might hold is completely gone by the time it hits grocery shelves.

· Dairy cows are injected with a genetically engineered hormone called rbGH to produce dairy year round instead of only when they are pregnant. This can lead to extreme weight gain in humans and also can be a precursor to diabetes and lead to heart disease or cancer.

· Milk from cows is perfectly suited to turn a 65-pound calf into a 400-pound cow within a year because of its high protein and mineral content. Unless you’re seriously trying to bulk up, you don’t need milk.

· If you are eating dairy from a cow that has been fed grain for some or most of it’s life, chances are that cow has spent its life very ill. Evolutionarily speaking, a cow’s stomach is designed to digest grass, not grain, so the grain creates an acidic environment in the stomach and cannot be properly digested. In order to prevent cows from becoming sick they are fed a steady flow of antibiotics. This is not a nutritious source of food.

Everything noted above will lead you to gain weight. If you are concerned about getting enough calcium, make sure to eat lots of leafy greens and you will be fine. If you can’t give up dairy entirely, as I know many people can’t, treat it as an indulgence, not a nutritious part of your diet, and enjoy it in moderation.

4. Eating well is too expensive

Yes, eating whole organic foods does cost more and take more time than packaged low-fat foods and diet drinks. However, what’s far more expensive is being sick. There are no excuses for this one. Cheap food high in calories and low in nutrition will cause you to gain weight, and often leads to many more serious health problems. Much of your health is in your own hands, and you have the power to protect yourself from sickness and disease with high quality, whole foods.

5. Portions should be large, we must eat quickly

Thousands of years ago when we were cavemen food was sparse. When it was available it was eaten in abundance, and the excess was stored as fat because it was unclear when the next full meal would be.

For some reason we still eat this way.

Eating should be a slow, luxurious experience, but most people act as though someone is going to rip the fork out of their hands any minute so it’s best to eat as much and as quickly as possible. When we eat at such a pace we fail to recognize when we’re full and eat much more than we need.

Portion size has grown drastically over the last hundred years. One Canadian study found that people overestimate the size of an appropriate portion and underestimate the amount they actually eat. The result is huge portions that lead people to overeat.

Another issue is that people don’t eat regularly enough. Skipping meals or substituting coffee for food means that when we actually sit down to a meal we eat way more than we need. Prepare for the day with some healthy snacks like nuts, fruit and chopped veggies so that when you feel hungry you’re prepared. This will prevent you from eating way too much later on.

Avoid overeating by using smaller plates, actually measure things when you cook, and share meals with a friend when out at a restaurant.

There are many reasons why we as a country are over-fed and under-nourished. A large part of this is due to the fact that we’re consuming more things created in a lab than ever before. These come as additives in our packaged foods, pesticides on our fruits and vegetables, and hormones in our animal products. Protect yourself by being mindful, reading labels and considering the source of your food before you buy it. When it comes to nutrition keep it simple, buy things with less than five ingredients, and make the majority of what you eat fresh vegetables.


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Who needs protein anyway?

When many of us think of protein a hamburger or muscle-bound weight lifter come to mind. Typically most people associate protein with animals, however there are tons of plant based sources of protein that allow you to build muscle, eat well and enjoy your life. Reducing animal sources of protein can actually be very good for you in a number of ways such as heart health, mental clarity, improving your metabolism, immune system strength, and better energy.

While we all know that protein is important, I wante to look at the the specifics of why it’s such an integral part of a balanced diet and thriving life.

Protein is very important for muscle reparation and cell growth, and plays a critical role in many other functions within the body. Apart from water, protein is the most abundant compound in the human body. It keeps your skin looking good, is a critical source of energy and weight control, provides the structure for organs and muscles to build and function upon, and regulates hormones, enzymes and antibodies. It also helps maintain blood sugar levels which impact mood and mental clarity.

Protein makes up the incredibly important neurotransmitters in our brain. These neurotransmitters – serotonin, dopamine, gaba, and catecholamines – help us sleep well, cope with stress, feel happy, and protect us against depression and anxiety. If we don’t have adequate, quality sources of protein these neurotransmitters reduce in number and quality, and fail to regenerate themselves. (Our brains also need quality sources of fat, too. The lack of high quality protein and fat in our diets has lead to scores of mental illnesses that are now developing people earlier on in life than ever before, but I’ll save those details for another post.)

Clearly without protein our bodies are unable to function at optimal levels. While this list of benefits of protein is extensive, it does not mean that over indulging in protein is good for us either. For people who believe that protein should be the largest part of every meal and that the source should be animal products, lots of discomforts can accrue. Having too much animal protein can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and kidney issues.

Making sure you have a quality source of protein is the best way to ensure you get all the benefits without becoming susceptible to the risks. Many people feel that they just can’t fill up without eating meat (much of this comes from the belief that if you’re not totally full you’re still hungry). Protein is very filling however no matter what source it comes from, and is an important part of feeling satiated after a meal. Because protein is a source of energy, eating it with a complete carbohydrate ensures that the energy you receive from it will be distributed into the bloodstream over time instead of all at once. The fantastic thing is that there are some plant sources of protein, quinoa and beans for instance, that are both carbohydrate and protein.

Hemp seeds and spirulina are both complete proteins. Hemp seeds are an amazing source of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and spirulina has tons of iron and chlorophyll to help oxygenate the blood stream. Both are great in a morning smoothie, and I like to sprinkle hemp seeds into soups and salads, and even on top of my almond butter and toast. Dark green veggies like spinach and kale have high amounts of protein too.

The great thing about eating plant sources of protein is that you get so much more than just protein out of them, things like calcium, iron, and antioxidants. By eating whole grains and plants your body can digest and distribute the nutrients very quickly and efficiently, without much strain on your system at all.

Next time you’re looking for a protein packed meal without meat and are not sure what to go for, fear not, veggies and whole grains will more than take care of all your needs. Plus, you’ll have tons more energy and any extra weight lingering as ‘winter storage’ will quickly shed itself. Start slowly if you need to also, beginning with cutting out meat Monday through Wednesdays. You’ll instantly notice a different and will feel less of those cravings you might feel for meat.

For those who do make animal protein their primary source of protein, please, please be mindful when you shop. Get free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free meat, eggs and other animal products. Not only is it better for the animals but it’s much better for you. The antibiotics and hormones that are used on animals in the US today are extremely detrimental to our health and negate the benefits that the protein we eat should be giving to us. Additionally, the amount of antibiotics we eat through animal consumption is leading to resistance of antibiotics that would otherwise help us get over a sickness. When it comes to animal protein be thoughtful, take your time, and know that a piece of meat is not a complete meal. Start with veggies, salad, bean etc, and use a palm sized piece of meat to fill out your plate and satiate your appetite

And if you’re looking for a protein packed, meat-free meal, try this one!

Protein salad

I’m always on the go, so I like to have something fast and nourishing ready when I need something quick. I always recommend having something ready to go in the fridge so that I don’t make any poor choices based on lack of time, only to find myself hungry thirty minutes later because I didn’t eat any nutrients. The following is a great recipe for a salad that stays fresh for several days and is packed full of protein and antioxidants.

1 cup pinto beans
1 cup black beans
1 cup corn
3 stalks celery, chopped
one whole red bell pepper, chopped
Half a red onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1-2 tablespoon hemp seeds
1-2 tablespoon chia seeds

Mix all ingredients together and season with olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar when ready to enjoy. If your stomach is sensitive to beans try soaking them with a kombu leaf (a seaweed leaf). This has the enzyme that breaks down the complex sugar that leads to gassiness and discomfort. This salad is fast, filling and extremely nourishing, good for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack.


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The Importance of Having an Alkaline System and Three Ways to Improve Your Own

— Olivia Janisch

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You may have heard the words ‘alkaline’ and ‘acidic’ used together lately and wondered what on Earth it’s got to do with you, and why these are the new buzz words in nutrition. I’d like to briefly explain what they mean and why a proper understanding of these terms is vital to your overall health, energy levels and quality of life.

Just as we have a normal temperature of 98.6 degrees F, there are other measures of homeostasis within our systems. One of the biggest measures is that of our pH level, which is the balance between alkaline and acid. Ideally, we want our pH of all bodily fluids to be 7.4, which is slightly alkaline.

By having this slightly alkaline balance within our bodies we’re able to fight off illnesses more efficiently, have higher energy levels, reduce inflammation that leads to ailments from headaches to heart disease, and create an internal environment that is easy to maintain and supports our everyday lives in a healthy and non-intrusive way.

Unfortunately, the typical American diet is extremely high in acid forming foods that cause our bodies to use excessive energy desperately trying to return to an alkaline state, and to call on stored reserves of alkaline minerals.

Not all acid forming foods are unhealthy (ie organic meat and eggs, organic unrefined oils), and you want to have a balance of 20% healthy acid forming foods and 80% alkaline forming foods for every meal. The problems arise when there is a stark imbalance in one’s diet. This imbalance occurs with over-consumption of processed foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed and antibiotic-laden meats, soft drinks, dairy, tofu, refined grains and alcohol.

Common discomforts like fatigue, headaches, bloating, and poor sleep- things many people deem to be a normal part of life- can be resolved by eating more alkaline forming foods and reducing acid forming foods. While cutting out processed and excessively acidic foods is the best thing you can do, here are three small steps that will make a noticeable difference.

1. Drink hot water with organic lemon in the mornings on an empty stomach

I know what you’re thinking: aren’t lemons acidic? Lemons on their own are acidic, however in our systems they are very alkaline. After a long night’s sleep it’s important to first hydrate in the mornings. Hydrating this way cleanses your body from the day before – hot water and lemon help to detoxify your system – and activates your metabolism. It also boosts your immune system and helps with weight loss (If you’d like more info, check out this article http://ow.ly/ccyea). There’s literally no reason not to start your day off like this.

2. Eat celery before, during, and/or after meals

Celery is extremely alkaline and contains a balanced content of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. It helps to neutralize acid that is created by things like meat, breads and sugars, and has high water content good for hydration. You can add it to salads, soups, or sandwiches, or eat it on it’s own with almond butter or hummus. It aids in digestion and is a great source of vitamin C, reducing inflammation and discomfort after a meal.

3. Pair your foods properly

This one is probably the hardest as many common recipes combine foods that actually require different enzymes to be digested properly. When food isn’t digested properly it gets stuck in the digestive tract and putrefies, causing a toxic and acidic environment. Here is a basic breakdown of what foods do and don’t go together:

Proteins + Starches = do not mix

Proteins + vegetables = mix

Starches + vegetables = mix

Different starches = mix

Different proteins = do not mix

Fats + protein = do not mix well, pair moderately

Fats + starches = do mix

Fruits = ALWAYS eaten on an empty stomach

Fruit + raw greens = mix

For a more in depth explanation on food pairing, here is a great article: http://ow.ly/cb6B6

Combining your food the right way will reduce bloating and gas after meals, help control or more likely reduce your weight, and will increase your energy levels.

To give you an idea of a balanced day, here is a little menu.

Breakfast:

Hot water with lemon (on empty stomach)

(20%) Scrambled organic eggs (1-2)

(80%) Sautéed onions and greens, sliced avocado

Lunch

(20%) Quinoa (1/4 cup)

(80%) Sautéed carrots, peas, asparagus

Lentil soup

Dinner

(20%) Grilled salmon

(80%) Green beans with garlic

Leaks and yellow squash sautéed with oregano

When making diet changes, always remember to be gentle on yourself. If you try and change every meal or several habits at once, chances are you’ll get burned out and frustrated. Small steps are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and don’t take a toll on your lifestyle so that your good intentions are able to have long-lasting, sustainable effects. Good luck and let us know what works for you!


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Food Combining

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Have you ever eaten a really healthy meal like wild rice, fresh wild caught fish, and a big salad but then felt groggy and tired afterwards? Why are you feeling sleepy and slow after eating a meal that should give you energy? Probably because you are combing the wrong types of food!  Kimberly Snyder, clinical nutritionist and author of The Beauty Detox Solution introduced me to the theory of food combining.

Our bodies digest enzymatically, means different enzymes are used to breakdown the different types of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Unfortunately, we don’t have one universal enzyme that can digest everything. Since it takes so much energy to digest our food, food combining helps take the burden off of our bodies and allows that energy to be used elsewhere like burning fat or detoxing heavy metals. If you don’t properly combine your food, it will get stuck in your digestive tract and the undigested food stays there and putrefies, creating a toxic environment that makes your blood more acidic and allows yeast, viruses, cancer cells and parasites to grow inside you. In short, it makes you more prone to illness. Proper food combining is a system of eating foods that combine together efficiently to assist digestion so that your digestive tract does not have to work so hard to give you the nutrients you need for energy. It is the easiest most non-restrictive way to get rid of bloating, drop some pounds, and allow your skin to glow!

 Here is how is how it works:

 Proteins + Starches = do not mix

Proteins + vegetables = mix

Starches + vegetables = mix

Different starches = mix

Different proteins = do not mix

Fats + protein = do not mix well, pair moderately

Fats + starches = do mix

Fruits = ALWAYS eaten on an empty stomach

Fruit + raw greens = mix

Bagels and cream cheese, egg sandwiches, sushi rolls, meat and potatoes are all bad food combinations! In the stomach, protein requires an acidic environment in order to break down, whereas a starch requires an alkaline environment. When an acid and an alkaline are put together they neutralize each other.  Since these enzymes neutralize each other, the food is not breaking down naturally but your body continues to try to break it down with more enzymes and this cycle results in exhaustion. All of your energy is going to this process and it’s not making any headway. Other side effects can include gassiness, bloating, or heartburn. Now this food is passing through your digestive system very slowly, and since our bodies are a warm 98.6 degrees, this allows the food to literally rot. Improperly digested foods have no nutritional value which means all that work was for absolutely nothing!

Vegetables are very easy for our body to digest and are great to pair with protein. Fruit is the quickest for our bodies to digest so should be eaten first, on an empty stomach.  It passes through our digestive tract in about 20 minutes. That means if you eat fruit after eating say, scrambled eggs, it is going to get stuck behind food that is going to take a lot longer to digest. This gives the fruit time to rot and putrefy.

 A simple way to think of it is eating light to heavy. This is the order of fastest digesting foods to slowest:

 Fruit

Greens

Non-Starchy vegetables

Starches

Protein

So start with your salad, then eat your rice, and finish with your grilled fish. This will give your optimal results and not create any digestive issues or drain your energy. Remember, this doesn’t mean you can’t have something, it just means you need to change the order in which you eat it. Obviously, we can’t be perfect and eat this way all the time. Don’t stress yourself out but give it a go and see how you feel. I promise that it works!