15 Foods That Naturally Clear Your Arteries

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Roughly 25% of the deaths each year in the U.S. is contributed to heart disease, with more than half of those deaths being men. What makes these statistics even worse is that heart disease is not only completely preventable, but can be reversible as well.

The American Heart Association states that over 42 million men and women live with some form of cardiovascular disease. While more men in the United States suffer from heart disease, more women die from it on a yearly basis. Some of the risk factors for heart disease and eventually a heart attack are high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol. Men and women who smoke tend to be at a higher risk as well, along with people who are morbidly obese and maintain bad eating habits.

Thankfully, what you eat can have a direct impact on your heart health, as well as your arteries. You just have to make sure you are eating the right foods and taking the necessary precautions. Studies have shown that a heart healthy diet can not only prevent future heart disease, but can reverse it as well over time.

We did some research and found fifteen heart-healthy foods that can assist with improving your health and lowering your risk for heart disease in the future.

  1. If you’re looking for a pharmacy’s worth of remedies within one fruit, the orange is the perfect place to start. Thanks to its high levels of pectin, this type of soluble fiber works like a “sponge” to suck up cholesterol in foods and block its absorption. The potassium in oranges also help counterbalance sodium intake and assist with keeping your blood pressure in check. Recently, new studies have found that oranges have the ability to neutralize proteins that lead to heart scar tissue and congestive heart failure.

  2. Remember when your mom told you to eat your leafy greens? Well, she told you so for a good reason. Research has found that kale is one of the perfect foods to prevent heart disease and keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Thanks to a heaping amount of heart-boosting antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, kale is the perfect food and should be a permanent food item in your household.

  3. Garlic is an excellent food to help reduce plaque in your arteries and help reduce your blood pressure. According to research, garlic helps reduce an enzyme known as angiotensin, which constricts blood vessels. Tests have also found that people who suffer from plaque build up in their arteries saw the build up reduced by up to 50% when they took garlic extract in pill form daily.

  4. Did you know that red wine helps boost your HDL levels, which is your good cholesterol? It also reduces clotting by keeping your blood vessels flexible. Some studies have found that a glass of red wine is more effective than aspirin and can help reduce your chance of a heart attack. Bottoms up

  5. A study from Harvard University on the Kuna Indians off the coast of Panama discovered that the indigenous people had very low blood pressure and no signs of hypertension. At first, it was believed that the people had a rare genetic trait, but it was soon discovered that they drank large amounts of raw cocoa. Thanks to rich compounds known as flavanols, dark chocolate (which is known to have higher levels of cocoa) can help increase blood vessel flexibility, lower blood pressure, and prevent heart disease.!

  6. While many of you might stick your nose up at sardines, they actually can help with heart health. According to studies, the omega-3 fatty acids in sardines can help lower triglyceride levels in the body, raise good cholesterol, and reduce inflammation in the body. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a reduction in heart disease among women who consumed cold-water fish.

  7. International studies found that people who eat a diet high in legumes (specifically, lentils) have a reduced risk of heart disease. This is due to the fact that lentils help with reducing high blood pressure, which is one of the early warning signs of heart disease. Lentils are also high in protein, magnesium, and potassium, which can help reduce the risk for plaque in the blood vessels.

  8. Almonds are actually a very healthy (and tasty) way to reduce your bad cholesterol levels and prevent absorption of LDL thanks to a high amount of plant sterols. According to studies at the University of Toronto, people who eat a diet that consists of almonds can lower their risk for heart disease by up to 28%.

  9. Pomegranates have a unique blend of antioxidants that help prevent the oxidation of plaque in the walls of the arteries. In fact, a study showed that atherosclerosis patients were actually able to reduce the plaque that had begun to accumulate within their arterial walls by drinking 8 oz. of pomegranate juice daily.

  10. Blueberries are considered a “superfood” for a reason. Not only do these delicious morsels help fight aging with a rich dose of antioxidants, but they can also reduce the buildup of cholesterol within the walls of your arteries. Blueberries have also been found to eliminate free radicals that can cause cancer, as well as heart disease.

  11. Research has found that beets are an excellent source of folate and betaine, both which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and help lower levels of homocysteine in the body. Homocysteine is known to increase the risk of heart disease by causing inflammation that can damage the heart muscle.

  12. Turmeric has been gaining traction in the nutrition and fitness industries due to its many health benefits, especially when it comes to heart health. An active compound known as curcumin can be found in high levels inside turmeric and can help block biochemical reactions that are involved in cardiac hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart). It can also reduce any inflammation in the blood vessels contributing to high blood pressure.

  13. Thanks to being an oily fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, research has discovered that salmon can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering the levels of triglycerides in the body. Salmon has also been found to prevent blood clots and expand constricted blood vessels.

  14. Chia seeds may be tiny but they certainly are mighty when it comes to nutrition and being beneficial to your heart health. Thanks to their high levels of antioxidants and omega-3s, chia seeds provide a natural method to lower your cholesterol and improve heart function. Some people like adding them to smoothies—others make a chia “pudding” to enjoy with fruit for breakfast. Regardless of how you enjoy them, the lasting benefits are where it’s at.

  15. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and that statement couldn’t be truer. Research has found that apples are filled with nutritious antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can assist with lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease. Better yet, there are so many varieties of apples, each with their own nutritional properties, that you won’t get bored when it comes to flavor and reaping the health rewards!

Source: http://activly.com

THE 25 BEST-EVER NUTRITION TIPS

When Americans faces a tough problem, we solve it the American way: We put our heads together and come up with a solution.

Start a new nation and establish freedom for all? We got Jefferson, Adams and Franklin in a room and they banged out the most revolutionary document ever created.

Stop the Nazis and end the war in the Pacific? We corralled the greatest scientific minds in the country and created the Manhattan Project. Game over.

So when it comes to taking aim at our obesity crisis (or just helping you fit into that dress), we here., at Eat This, Not That! figured we’d take a page out of history, and gather the most educated nutritional thinkers in the land to tell us their absolute best tips for losing weight and getting a perfectly lean, flat belly. So ask not what abs can do for you; ask what you can do for abs. The answers are right here.

Visit: http://www.eatthis.com/25-best-ever-nutrition-tips

3 Ways to Track Your Body Composition That Are Better Than BMI

Easier isn't always better. Never has this been more true than with body mass index, or BMI.

A measure that takes into account one's height and weight, body mass index has been used since the 1800s as an easy way to estimate body composition and, by extension, health. After all, coming across a scale and tape measure isn't too difficult. To calculate your BMI, that's all you need.

BMI has been strongly linked with America's most common diseases, conditions and causes of death, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and even cancer. That means, as BMI goes up, so does your risk of serious disease. For instance, an adult male who stands 5 feet, 10 inches and weighs 170 pounds would have a BMI of 24.4, which is the upper end of what is considered healthy. (A BMI of 25 is considered overweight.) That same BMI number would apply to a woman who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 142 pounds.

BMIs of 40 or higher are linked with a significantly shorter lifespan, with the average person with a BMI of 55 to 59.9 living 13.7 fewer years compared to the average person with a normal BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, according to a 2014 review published in PLOS ONE.

"When studying large populations, we need an easy way of accessing body composition," explains Dr. Lisa Neff, an endocrinologist who specializes in diabetes and metabolism at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "That's why BMI is the marker most often used in health outcomes research. However, when we are studying BMI, what we are really hoping to get an assessment of is body fat. That's the primary detrimental aspect of body composition. When we talk about risk, it's body fat, or excess body fat, with which we are really concerned."

But unfortunately, BMI and body fat are anything but the same thing. BMI is all about quantity and body fat looks at quality. For instance, if you have a high BMI, you could either be overweight (aka overfat) or, on the flip side, you could just really be muscular and have a perfectly healthy or extremely low body fat percentage, explains San Diego bariatric surgeon Dr. Julie Ellner. And, in fact, 2016 research published in the International Journal of Obesity shows that BMI incorrectly labels more than 54 million Americans as "unhealthy." That's nearly half of all overweight men and women – and 29 and 16 percent of those classified as obese or severely obese, respectively.

Meanwhile, if you have a normal BMI, you could be healthy – or you could be silently suffering from normal weight obesity, often referred to as being "skinny fat." With normal weight obesity, weight and BMI check out fine, but body fat levels are just as high as they are in those typically considered obese. The same 2016 study found that more than 30 percent of people with so-called "healthy" BMIs have poor cardiometabolic health – that includes hypertension, high cholesterol, excess inflammation and/or insulin resistance. That's exactly what BMI is supposed to help identify, and why your doctor probably has a BMI chart hanging in the exam room.

While athletes, bodybuilders and anyone who regularly strength trains is at risk of being mislabeled as overweight or obese, BMI is most likely to miss normal weight obesity in women as well as older people who may be suffering from age-related muscle loss known as sarcopenia, according to Neff. In many such older individuals, weight can actually be quite stable, she notes. In many men and women, as muscle levels wane, metabolic rate dips and any potential weight loss is mediated by an increase in fat. Year after year, weight stays about the same, although body fat percentage gradually grows, increasing the risk of obesity-related illnesses.

Better Than BMI: Body Fat, Waist Circumference and Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Since BMI is really just an estimation of body fat, it makes the most sense to stop tracking your BMI and start evaluating your body fat percentage, Ellner says.

"My advice to patients is to get a good body composition scale for home use," she says. "It will calculate body fat percentage and will give credit to the patients who work out and are above-average healthy, while putting those who are at a 'good weight' but are unhealthy on notice that they need to change their program."

These scales aren't 100 percent accurate – technology still has a ways to go before consumer scales are on par with expensive dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans, underwater weighing and caliper skin-fold measurements at determining exact body fat levels, but they are as precise as anyone vying for good health or healthy weight loss needs. While there is no one mutually agreed upon healthy body fat range, body fat percentages greater than roughly 21 in men and 31 in women point to obesity. Men and women need to maintain levels of body fat of at least 3 and 12 percent, respectively, for optimal physiological function.

While waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, like BMI, estimate body fat indirectly, they focus on where you store the fat that you have. That's because visceral fat, which lies in and around the vital organs, is more highly correlated with chronic disease compared to fat stored elsewhere in the body, Ellner explains. "Abdominal obesity" is strongly linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of BMI, according to the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research.

Per the American Heart Association and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches in women and 40 in men is a marker of abdominal obesity. A waist-to-hip ratio (divide your waist measurement by the circumference at the largest part of your hips) of greater than 0.85 in women and 0.9 in men also denotes abdominal obesity, according to the World Health Organization.

To track your waist circumference, wrap a flexible measuring tape or string around your waist, marked by the top of your hipbones. Divide that number by the circumference of your hips at their largest point, and you'll have your waist-to-hip ratio.

By K. Aleisha Fetters, Contributor | April 21, 2017, at 4:08 p.m.

One-Third of Slim American Adults Have Pre-Diabetes

It's often assumed that in order to develop type 2 diabetes, you have to be overweight. While it's true that excess weight is clearly associated with insulin resistance and diabetes, it's the insulin resistance — not necessarily the weight gain — that drives the disease.

As such, many people with a healthy weight are not metabolically healthy, putting them at risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes — even without being overweight or obese.

One of the greatest risk factors, according to University of Florida researchers, is actually inactivity, which drives up your risk of pre-diabetes regardless of your weight.

Inactivity Is Associated With Pre-Diabetes, Even if You're a Healthy Weight

If you were looking for motivation to get moving, this study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is as good as it gets.1

In a survey of more than 1,100 healthy-weight individuals, those who were inactive (physically active for less than 30 minutes per week) were more likely to have an A1C level of 5.7 or higher, which is considered to be pre-diabetic.

Among all the inactive participants (aged 20 and over), about one-quarter were either pre-diabetic or diabetic. When only those inactive people aged 40 and over were analyzed, the percentage rose to 40 percent.

The researchers suggested that people who live a largely sedentary lifestyle yet have a healthy weight may have "normal-weight obesity or 'skinny fat,'" which they described as a "high proportion of fat to lean muscle."2

"Don't focus solely on the scale and think you're OK. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, make sure you get up and move," lead author Arch Mainous III, chair of health services research, management and policy in the University of Florida's College of Public Health and Health Professions, said in a news release.3

The researchers also noted that their findings suggest "healthy weight individuals may benefit from physical exercise,"4 which isn't exactly groundbreaking advice — but it's incredibly important nonetheless.

Weight Doesn't Always Reveal a Person's Metabolic Health

Weight isn't always an accurate tool by which to gauge metabolic health, and research by Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (USCF), bears this out.

Lustig is perhaps best known for speaking out about the health risks of sugar, but in our 2015 interview he explained the problem with "judging a book by its cover" in terms of weight and health.

More than two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese. About 50 percent have diabetes or pre-diabetes,5 and 1 out of every 3 have high blood pressure.6 Many also have high serum triglycerides, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Insulin resistance is a component of all of these health issues.

According to Lustig, at least 50 percent of Americans have some form of insulin resistance — whether you're overweight or not — and that is what's driving our seemingly out-of-control disease statistics.

'There Are More Thin Sick People Than Fat Sick People'

As Lustig notes, if you were to do a Venn diagram of the U.S. population, one circle would be about twice as big as the other: the obese population forming a smaller circle of about 30 percent, and the non-obese population forming a larger circle of about 70 percent.

He estimates that about 80 percent of the obese population is metabolically ill with insulin resistance that manifests itself in a myriad of ways, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart disease, cancer and dementia. About 20 percent of this population, however, is metabolically healthy.

Conversely, Lustig explains, of the 70 percent that are of normal weight, about 40 percent of them have insulin resistance upon lab testing, and they manifest aspects of metabolic syndrome as well. They too get type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia.

The prevalence of metabolic disease among normal-weight people is not as great as among obese people — 40 percent versus 80 percent — but there are far more people in this group.

"When you do the math, there are more thin sick people than there are fat sick people," Lustig says. And while his research points to excessive sugar consumption as the primary driver of metabolic disease among Americans, inactivity also plays a role.

Exercise Is Important, but Not Necessarily Because It Helps You Lose Weight

The evidence is clear that regular physical activity, which includes reducing your time spent sitting and exercising, is crucial to lower your risk of diabetes (and treat it if you've already been diagnosed).

For instance, sitting for more than eight hours a day has been shown to increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by 90 percent,7 while people with diabetes who engaged in a six-month moderate-intensity exercise program experienced significant health improvements, including decreased fat in the abdomen, liver and around the heart.8

Many health care professionals advise their patients to exercise in order to promote weight loss; however, its benefits extend far beyond that (which is why it's important to exercise even if you don't need to lose weight).

According to Lustig, one of exercise's primary benefits is that it promotes muscle gain and stimulates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PGC-1 alpha), which is the primary driver for mitochondrial biogenesis.

When you turn up PGC-1α, you make more mitochondria, increasing your sympathetic muscle tone, which in turn improves insulin sensitivity. According to Lustig:

"Exercise is the single best thing you can do for yourself and we should be promoting it, but we have to explain to patients what the outcome variable they should be looking at is.

And the outcome variable is belt size [waist size], because they will reduce their visceral fat. They will lose inches, not pounds. And losing inches means improved metabolic health."

How to Determine if You're Pre-Diabetic

If you're reading this and aren't sure what your fasting insulin and glucose levels are, these are blood tests I recommend receiving annually. Your fasting insulin level reflects how healthy your blood glucose levels are over time.

A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you'll want it below 3. A fasting glucose level below 100 mg/dl suggests you're not insulin resistant, while a level between 100 and 125 confirms you have pre-diabetes. If this, or your A1C level, confirms you either have or are at risk of pre-diabetes or diabetes, the time to take action is now. You might also find a hip-to-waist size index chart helpful.

This is far better than body mass index (BMI) for evaluating whether or not you may have a weight problem, as BMI fails to factor in both how muscular you are and your intra-abdominal fat mass (the dangerous visceral fat that accumulates around your inner organs), which is a potent indicator of insulin/leptin sensitivity and the associated health problems.

You Can Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity in Just Two Weeks

Fortunately, proper exercise and attention to diet can reverse the course of this disease, with benefits seen in as little as two weeks (and to some extent after just one exercise session).

For instance, unfit but otherwise healthy middle-aged adults were able to improve their insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation after just two weeks of interval training (three sessions per week).9 A follow-up study also found that interval training positively impacted insulin sensitivity.

The study involved people with full-blown type 2 diabetes, and just one interval training session was able to improve blood sugar regulation for the next 24 hours.10 You can actually reap much greater benefits by exercising in short, high-intensity bursts known as intervals than you can exercising for longer periods at a slower steady pace.

The high-intensity interval training (HIIT) approach I personally use and recommend is the Peak Fitness method, which consists of 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 90 seconds of recuperation, for a total of eight repetitions. I also recommend super slow weight lifting for your resistance training.

Getting Up From Your Chair Is Also Important

When you hear the term sedentary, it's important to understand that exercising for 20 or 30 minutes a day, and then sitting for much of the rest, is not enough to pull you out of this category. Long hours spent sitting are linked to chronic diseases including diabetes, and this may be, in part, because it increases aging at the cellular level.

In a study of 64- to 95-year-old women, those who sat for more than 10 hours a day and got less than 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity had shorter telomeres and were, on average, eight years older, biologically speaking, than women who moved around more often.11

Every time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter, which is why they're used as a measure of biological aging. Short telomeres have also been linked with chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

In addition, your body's ability to respond to insulin is affected by just one day of excess sitting, which leads your pancreas to produce increased amounts of insulin. Research published in Diabetologia also found that those who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least.12 I recommend replacing the majority of your sedentary sitting time with active movement, keeping sitting to three hours a day or less.

What to Do if You Have Pre-Diabetes or Diabetes

The take-home message to remember is that you shouldn't assume you're metabolically healthy just because you're not overweight or obese — especially if you live a largely sedentary lifestyle. You could actually be "skinny fat," with many of the same health risks as someone who's overweight or obese and sedentary.

The good news is that there's plenty you can do to not only reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes but also improve your metabolic health at the same time.

During the three-year Diabetes Prevention Program study, for instance, lifestyle interventions were found to be more effective than the diabetes drug metformin at preventing or delaying the development of diabetes in people at high risk of the disease. A follow-up study monitored the group for 15 years — and lifestyle interventions were still more effective than metformin at preventing diabetes.13

After the initial three-year study, those who made dietary changes and exercised at moderate intensity for 15 minutes daily were 58 percent less likely to develop diabetes compared to a placebo group. Those taking metformin were 31 percent less likely to develop the disease. Nutrition and lifestyle modifications should be the foundation of your diabetes prevention and treatment plan.

Remember, this is about getting metabolically healthy, not necessarily losing weight, but optimizing your weight is a pleasant "side effect" that comes from a healthy lifestyle.

One of the most important dietary recommendations is to limit net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) and protein, replacing them with higher amounts of high-quality healthy fats, like seeds, nuts, raw grass-fed butter, olives, avocado, coconut oil, organic pastured eggs and animal fats (including animal-based omega-3s).

If you're insulin resistant or diabetic, I also strongly suggest you limit your total fructose intake to 15 grams per day until your insulin/leptin resistance has resolved (then it can be increased to 25 grams) and start intermittent fasting as soon as possible.

As mentioned, exercise and reduced sitting time are also crucial, along with attention to proper sleep, optimized vitamin D levels and gut health. Taken together, this plan will lower your risk of diabetes and related chronic diseases and help you to avoid becoming victim to a health condition you might not even realize you have.

5 reasons you should plan your meals in advance

With today’s busy lifestyles, eating homecooked food can be a challenge. Longer work days, long commute, managing office with household chores often takes a toll on eating healthy due to lack of time. As a result, we all end up making poor food choices due to lack of planning! Dietitian Akansha Jhalani from Bon happétee tells you why you should start planning your meals.

1. Helps you add more nutrients to your diet– Planning your meals well ahead of time helps you take control of your personal nutritional needs. You can eat a variety of nutritious foods and shop for them before in hand. There are rare chances of you reaching out to convenience foods like ready to eat foods, quick fixes like biscuits, cakes and all junk. It can be a good idea to maintain a food diary where you plan all your meals in advance.

2. Helps you make right food choices--Do you know your week ahead is going to be busy? Planning meals at the beginning of the week or a day before based on your schedule will ensure you eat a healthy meal in any case. This ensures you have well planned satiating meals when you have most hunger pangs, and eat the right food combinations to deal with the stress and exertion. And, if you get this right, your weight loss concerns are taken care.

3. Prevents bloating and acidity –Bloating and other digestion related problems are due to untimely meals which are an outcome of inadequate planning. So if you plan your meals well in advance, you will have fewer chances of suffering from bloating and acidity.

4. Prevents you from overeating – One tends to overeat only when you ignore hunger. Meal planning takes care of the timings, and there are no hunger pangs. This ultimately helps you eat just the right quantity required at one go. You end up feeling not only satiated but so much lighter and energetic by doing so. Here are 50 common mistakes Indians make while cooking healthy food. 

5. Leaves no room for cheat meals –It’s ok to cheat once in a while! But what if cheating becomes a habit? It makes you put on a lot of weight. If you are successful at planning your meals right, there are high chances of you sticking to the week-long commitment! Here’s what Bollywood actresses eat on their cheat days. 

You can use these applications to plan your meals well:
• Yummly is a mobile app and website that provides recipe recommendations personalised to the individual’s tastes. Yummly allows users to search by ingredient, diet, allergy, nutrition, price, cuisine, time, taste, meal courses and sources.
• MyFitnessPal is a free smartphone app and website that tracks diet and exercise to determine optimal caloric intake and nutrients for the users’ goals and uses gamification elements to motivate users.
• bon happetee is a chef and nutritionist rolled in one mobile app – with customized daily meal plans and real-time nutrition analysis with meal scores that can help you plan, evaluate and fix your meals with a convenience of a click.

The Best Fat-Loss Workout of All Time

Your Lean-Body Plan

What is the quickest way to shed weight, build lean muscle, and reveal a toned and sexy physique? The answer is simple: A combo of strength training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It's not revolutionary, but this regimen has been proven time and again to be the best training method to get a lean body in the least amount of time. You'll crush calories, build fat-burning muscle, and avoid plateaus.

I'll admit that as a woman, I was hesitant to start lifting heavy weights. In my mind, weight lifting equated to a "bulky" and "thick" body. But I quickly learned that this couldn't be farther from the truth. Muscle is metabolically active, meaning that it burns calories even at rest. The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. Just remember that muscle is more dense than fat so don't rely on the scale to track your progress. You will see the amazing results in the mirror and feel them every time you pull on your skinny jeans.

This workout combines strength training and HIIT to give you a rock-solid core, lean legs, and defined arms.

You'll need: A pair of dumbbells (10-20lbs), a jump rope.

How it works: Do 1 set of each exercise without resting between moves. Repeat the entire circuit 3 times. If you're short on time, you'll still get a great workout by doing 1 full circuit. For best results, do this workout 3 days per week. To make it more challenging, increase the weight for each exercise.

Single-Leg Deadlift

This exercise targets the glutes and hamstrings, giving perfect definition and lift to your booty.

How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and hold them at arm's length in front of your thighs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Shift your weight into one leg. Without changing the bend in your knee, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor (keep the weight as close to your body as possible). Pause, then return to standing. Your back should stay naturally arched during the entire movement. Do 8 reps each side.

Split Squat Jumps

These powerful jumps blast calories and engage every muscle in your body.

How to do it: Come into a lunge position with both knees bent. Make sure your front knee is directly above the ankle. Bring both arms back as you lower down into a lunge. Explosively, jump off the ground and switch feet in the air. Land softly in a lunge position with your other foot forward. Keep switching at a quick pace. Make sure to keep your chest lifted and swing your arms forward as you jump. Do 5 jumps per side.

Squat to Press

Squats are excellent for slim thighs, a tight butt, and sculpted hamstrings. By adding the press, the core and shoulders are engaged the entire time.

How to do it: Grab a set of dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows and bring the weights to shoulder height. Lower down into a squat by shifting hips back, like you are sitting in a chair. Come back to standing and press weights directly overhead. Lower the weights back to shoulder height as you immediately lower into your next squat. Continue the movement at a quick pace for 10 reps.

Broad Jumps

Similar to other jumps, this exercise burns calories quickly, keeps your heart rate up, and engages every muscle. Broad jumps will also improve overall athletic performance.

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Quickly extend your arms behind you while bending knees even more. Explosively jump forward (as far as you can) while swinging your arms forward. Land softly (by bending your knees) in a solid, athletic position. Try not to bounce or wobble at all and use your core to stay solid. Do 8 reps.

Plank with Dumbbell Row

Nothing beats planks when it comes to strengthening your deepest abdominal muscles, which flatten out the stomach. Plus, the row builds strength and definition in upper back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps.

How to do it: Grab a set of dumbbells and come into plank position with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Brace your core as you lift one dumbbell off the ground in a rowing movement. Bring the weight back to the ground and switch sides. Continue alternating at a quick pace. Make sure to keep hips as still as possible and legs engaged the entire time. Do 8 reps per side.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a quick way to get the benefits of cardio without spending a lot of time on it.

How to do it: Make sure to stay light on your feet and keep your chest lifted. Use your wrists more than your arms to swing the rope. Try to keep elbows fixed in place. Jump rope for 1 minute.

Walking Lunge with Bicep Curl

his exercise builds strength in the quadriceps, core, glutes, and upper body. Doing single-leg exercises like this improves balance and stability, as well as dynamic flexibility in the knee, ankle, and hip joints.

How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall, holding the weights by your sides. Take a big step out into a lunge. Bend both knees, keeping front knee directly above ankle. Drive off the ball of your big toe to come up in a standing position. Keep your foot off the ground as you curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders. Keep elbows fixed in place. Continue by stepping the foot that is lifted forward into a lunge. Do 10 reps on each leg.

Sprints

Sprints are a very efficient way to improve athletic performance and keep the entire body lean and strong.

How to do it: Start in a lunge position with your back at a 45-degree angle, weight shifted forward. Drive through your big toe to take bounding steps forward. After about 10 yards, rest for 30 seconds before starting your next sprint. Quickly shift your hips forward to repeat the forward movement again. Do 5 sprints.

by Nora Tobin

 

Your 5 Worst Gluten-Free Mistakes

After experiencing some wacky symptoms, I was recently tested for celiac disease, and while the report came back negative, I’ve noticed that I do feel better when I avoid gluten. Many of my clients are in the same boat, but others seek me out after going gluten free and feeling worse, or even gaining weight, which seems to be increasingly common. The truth is, navigating the gluten-free landscape can be pretty darn tricky. Here are five common missteps I see, and how to resolve them.

Not “getting” gluten
One client recently said to me, “I’m not really sure what gluten is, but I know it’s bad, right?” I think a lot of people are a little in the dark about the issue at large, and it is complicated, but in a nutshell, here’s what you need to know: gluten is a type of protein naturally found in wheat (including spelt, kamut, farro, and bulgur) and other grains, like barley and rye. In people who have celiac disease, consuming even small amounts of gluten triggers unwelcome symptoms, including belly pain and bloating. This happens because gluten causes the immune system to damage or destroy villi, the tiny, fingerlike structures that line the small intestine like a microscopic plush carpet. Healthy villi absorb nutrients through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, so when they become damaged, chronic malnutrition occurs, which is typically accompanied by weight loss and exhaustion. Other symptoms may include bone or joint pain, depression, and skin problems. In people with this diagnosis, the only way to reverse the damage, and the accompanying symptoms, is to completely avoid gluten. People like me, who test negative for celiac disease, may be experiencing a condition called gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity, which means that while not celiac, consuming gluten causes bothersome side effects, which can include flu-like feelings, bloating, and other gastrointestinal problems, mental fogginess, and fatigue. Unfortunately, there is no real test for gluten sensitivity at this time, and the symptoms may be related to other issues, including stress (who doesn’t have that?!), which makes it a not-so-black-and-white issue.

Confusing gluten free with wheat free or refined grains
As I noted above, gluten isn’t only found in wheat. I’ve heard numerous people say they eat gluten free, but all they’ve really done is replace foods like white bread with hearty whole grain versions, which may include spelt (in the wheat family), and rye (which, while not wheat, also contains gluten). If you don’t have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, these swaps may make you feel great, and lead to weight loss, because trading refined grains for whole grains ups your intake of fiber, boosts satiety, so you feel fuller longer, and better regulates blood sugar and insulin levels. These are all good things, but, in this case, totally unrelated to gluten.

Thinking gluten free equals weight loss
You may have seen a friend, co-worker, or celebrity suddenly slim down after proclaiming to give up gluten. And while going gluten free may absolutely lead to dropping a dress size (or more), the weight loss is generally caused by giving up foods that contain gluten, which are loaded with dense amounts of refined carbs, like bagels, pasta, crackers, pretzels, and baked goods. Axing these foods altogether, or replaced them with more veggies and healthy gluten-free whole grains, like quinoa and wild rice, automatically cuts excess carbs (which may have been feeding fat cells), ups fiber and nutrients, and results in soaring energy. However, going gluten free can also lead to weight gain.

Loading up on gluten-free junk food
Because gluten free has exploded in popularity, there are dozens of gluten-free options in markets these days, including carb-laden (but gluten free) versions of… bagels, pasta, crackers, pretzels, and baked goods! One popular brand of gluten free cookies pack 60 calories each, more than a “regular” sandwich cookie. And some gluten-free foods are made with refined gluten-free grains, which have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients, like white rice. The bottom line is, simply going gluten free doesn’t guarantee the loss of pounds and inches – quality and quantity still matter most.

Ignoring the rest of your diet
In addition to quality and quantity, balance is critical for feeling well and achieving weight loss. I’ve seen people trade white pasta for healthy whole grains like quinoa or wild rice, but still eat portions that are far too large, and therefore not see weight loss results. Others believe it’s OK to eat unlimited amounts of healthy gluten-free foods, like fruit and nuts. But sadly, any time you eat more than your body can use or burn, even from healthy foods, you create surpluses, which get shuttled straight to your body’s storage units – fat cells.

If you have celiac disease (get tested if you suspect you do, but you’re not sure), you absolutely must avoid gluten, and it’s important to note that it lurks in many products, from salad dressings and seasoning mixes, to vitamins, and even lip balm, so eliminating it completely is a big commitment. And if you think you may be gluten intolerant, try to avoid gluten, and monitor your how you feel. But in either case, the single most important thing you can do is to strive for a healthy, balanced, whole foods diet, the true keys to both optimal health and weight loss.

By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Why You Need to Eat Fat to Burn Fat

It gets a bad rap, but adding some fat to your diet may be the key to a slimmer you

Overview

For a long time, we thought avocados were good for nothing but ready-made guac and a decent California burger every now and then. But these little nutritional hand grenades were having an explosive impact on our diets for all that time. How so?

They’re infused with a key nutrient for maintaining healthy weight: fat.

Wait…fat can help us maintain our weight? Fat doesn’t make us fat? In a word: exactly.

Fat is not something to avoid. For starters, it’s essential for normal growth and development. Dietary fat also provides energy, protects our organs, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body absorb and process nutrients. Even better, it helps the body burn fat, says nutritionist and owner of Nutritious Life meal system, Keri Glassman, RD, who recommends that about a third of any weight-loss plan’s calories come from dietary fat.

BUT: Not all fatty foods are created equal. While pizza, French fries and hamburgers can contribute to weight gain and deterioration of health, the dietetic community is learning that the overall nutritional content of these foods — not their saturated fat — is what’s to blame. Sure, research from 50 years ago found that saturated fatty acids, a type of fat that’s “saturated” with hydrogen and typically solid at room temperature, raised LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

But a reevaluation of that research has shown that they raise HDL (good) cholesterol just as much, if not more, protecting the body from unhealthy cholesterol levels and heart disease, says nutritionist and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association Tara Gidus, RD. “Instead of making any one thing in the diet a villain, we need to look at total caloric content as well as quality of food, what are we eating that is ‘good’ and helping our body’s immune system and cells to stay healthy.”

Most of the fat that you eat — especially if you want to lose weight — should come from unsaturated sources, both monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA), Glassman says. Why?

These good-for-you foods (like fish, seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, olive oil, and of course, avocados) pack tons of nutrients. Besides removing LDL cholesterol from arteries and promoting a healthier heart, unsaturated fat can help you burn fat big time without cutting calories.

A 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that participants who consumed the most unsaturated fatty acids have lower body-mass indexes and less abdominal fat than those who consumed the least. Why?

The unsaturated folks ate higher-quality foods. Not long ago, manufacturers marketed low-fat and no-fat everything, and consumers responded by chowing down. It’s healthy, right?

Wrong. All wrong. Besides stripping our bodies of a much-needed nutrient, low- and no-fat diet movements have increased obesity rates. Why?

It turns out that fat provides a big component to the foods we love: Taste. When food manufacturers removed fat from their foods, they had to load the foods with sugar and salt, which are nutrient-free, to increase flavor.

Here are other crucial ways fat can help you slim down:

Fat Burns Fat

The body needs three macronutrients for energy: Carbohydrates, protein, and fat. A gram of fat packs more than twice the energy of a gram of the other two. “When you don’t have any fat in your diet its like you don’t have fuel to burn calories,” Glassman says. The body requires energy to keep its metabolism properly functioning, and a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming fatty acids can boost metabolic health.

What’s more, “old” fat stored in the body’s peripheral tissues—around the belly, thighs, or butt (also called subcutaneous fat)—can’t be burned efficiently without “new” fat to help the process, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dietary fat helps break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways through the liver.

Think of mealtime like baseball spring training: young, hungry players (new fat) hit the field and show the general manger (the liver) that it’s time to send the old, worn-out players (subcutaneous fat) home. And away they go.

Fat Keeps You Full

Fat isn’t the easiest nutrient to digest, so it sticks around in the digestive system for more time than many other nutrients. MUFAs may also help stabilize blood sugar levels, according to Mayo Clinic. That means you feel full longer, and you won’t feel the stomach-growling urge to raid the refrigerator after mealtime.

In fact, diets with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of PUFA that the body can only acquire through food, create a greater sense of fullness both immediately following and two hours after dinner than do meals with low levels of the fatty acids, according to a 2008 study from University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. It’s no surprise that dieters who consume moderate levels of fat are more likely to stick with their eating plans than dieters who consume low levels of fat.

The result? More weight lost.

Fat Makes You Happy

Everyone says that dieting, not to put too fine a point on it, stinks. Eating yummy foods makes you happy, and it turns out low-fat versions just don’t do the trick for one surprising reason: We can taste the fat — not just the salt, sugar and other goodies in food.

Recent research from Purdue University shows that our taste buds can detect fat in food, which helps explain why low-fat foods don’t curb our fat cravings. According to the research, fat may be an entirely different basic taste than what we’ve long considered the four mainstays: sweet, salty, sour and bitter.

On an even happier fat note, omega-3 fatty acids can boost serotonin levels in the brain, helping to improve mood, increase motivation and keep you from devouring a large pizza like it’s your job. 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men have suffered from diagnosed binge-eating disorders, while millions more people are occasional emotional eaters, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Fat Builds Muscle

“Eating good fats along with an effective exercise program can increase muscle,” says trainer and owner of Results Fitness, Rachel Cosgrove, CSCS, who notes that increasing muscle mass is vital to increasing metabolism and burning calories both in and out of the gym. In a 2011 study published in Clinical Science, researchers examined the effects of eight weeks of PUFA supplementation in adults ages 25 to 45 and found that the fat increases protein concentration and the size of muscular cells in the body. Previous studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and can mediate muscle mass loss due to aging.

Fat Makes Food Better for You

Many nutrients including vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning that the body can’t absorb them without fat. If your body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly, that can lead to vitamin deficiencies and bring on dry skin, blindness, brittle bones, muscle pains, and abnormal blood clotting, according to Gidus.

These vitamins are also key to maintaining energy, focus, and muscle health, all of which contribute to a healthy weight. Vitamin E, for example is a powerful antioxidant and helps maintain your metabolism, while the body’s levels of vitamin D predicts its ability to lose fat, especially in the abdominal region, according to a clinical trial from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

So while you can pile your salad high with nutrient-rich spinach, tomatoes and carrots, you really need to thank the olive oil for sending the salad’s vitamins your way.

by K. ALEISHA FETTERS

Low Carb Stuffing

LOW CARB STUFFING

Ingredients

  • 1 loaflow-carb bread, crumbled or cut into cubes (Sami's Bakery)
  • 1 T coconut or avocado oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6-7 cups chopped celery - about 2 small bunches
  • 1 green Bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning, such as Bells
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Sea salt - start with 1/2 teaspoon, or 1 T chicken or turkey soup base (see below)
  • 1 cup low sodium organic chicken broth, plus more according to moisture needed
  • 1egg (if a loaf like stuffing is desired)

Preparation

1) 1 - 1½ lb loaf of low-carb bread if you have access to it. Different types of bread will bring different results, so you may have to adjust the amount of liquid, seasonings, etc. Allow the bread to dry out for a while, either on the counter on in a low heat oven. It doesn't have to be totally dry, just kind of stale-level dry.

2) Sauté onion, celery, and pepper in oil until soft. Add parsley and cook for a minute or so, until wilted. Add seasonings.

3) Mix together the vegetables and the bread. Add a cup of broth, stir, and taste. Adjust seasoning and moisture. If you're going to stuff poultry with it, leave it on the dry side because it will absorb a lot of juices during cooking. You can eat it just as it is, but if you bake it, the flavors will come together better. Adding egg will make it come together in more of a melded-together form. Mix well and bake at 350 F. for about half an hour, or until browned on top.

 

To keep the weight off, keep tracking your diet

NEW ORLEANS — Keeping track of the foods you eat is an important strategy for weight loss, but continuing to monitor what you eat is also important to prevent regaining that weight. Now, a new study finds that stopping food tracking is linked to regaining weight.

In order to prevent re-gaining weight, people should make an effort four months after starting a diet to refocus on food tracking, according to the study, presented here Sunday (Nov. 13) at the American Heart Association's annual meeting called the Scientific Sessions.

The researchers found that people tended to stop dietary monitoring after about four months, and that this was followed by regaining weight, said Qianheng Ma, a public health researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author of the study. 

The effects of food tracking, or "dietary self-monitoring," on weight loss have been well-studied, and the technique is a key component of what researchers call the "standard behavioral treatment" for people who want to lose weight and keep it off, Ma told Live Science. This type of treatment is the most effective non-medical approach to weight loss, according to the study.

In the study, the researchers looked at data from 137 people who had participated in a one-year weight loss intervention called EMPOWER. The majority of the people in the study were white women. The participants were, on average, 51 years old and had a BMI of 34.1. (People with a BMI of 30 or higher are generally considered obese.) The people in the study were asked to weigh themselves regularly with a digital scale that uploaded data in real time and to monitor their diet using a smartphone app.

Although everyone in the study initially lost weight, nearly three-quarters of the people in the study ultimately regained some of that weight. In addition, 62 percent of the participants stopped tracking what they were eating at some point during the study.

The researchers found that a greater percentage of the people who regained weight had stopped tracking what they ate, compared with those who were able to maintain their weight. 

The average time that people tracked their diet before they stopped was 126 days — in other words, they were about four months into their diet when they stopped, Ma told Live Science. It's unclear why food tracking stopped at this point, she added.

People did not begin gaining weight immediately after they stopped tracking what they ate, the researchers noted. Rather, people started to gain weight, on average, about two months after they stopped tracking their food, the study found.

Now that the researchers have identified the point at which people tend to stop tracking their food, they intend to study whether strategically reminding people to keep tracking will help them to keep the weight off, Ma said.

The new findings have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Originally published on Live Science.

The Weight Gain-Inflammation Connection

When we think about inflammation, we often think of it as helping us heal from an obvious injury (like a wound) or fighting harmful bacteria. This is good inflammation working in our favor to keep us healthy. But on the flip side, when the immune system is too active, it can make us sick.

We know that major chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, are linked to weight gain, but did you ever wonder how those diseases and inflammation are all intertwined?

Understanding inflammation, especially “bad” inflammation, will help explain this link.

Read More

Should we consider skipping breakfast?

For years we have always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It is the meal that jump starts our metabolism.

Where is all this evidence?

In a recent paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers approached the breakfast question with a healthy dose of skepticism.

They analyzed dozens of studies looking at one particularly interesting relationship: breakfast and body weight. And asked the question: Is the evidence really that strong?

A little background first.

Many nutrition experts claim that breakfast is so important because it helps with weight management. (They also think that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain and obesity.)

Interestingly, it’s this supposed causal relationship between breakfast and body weight that forms a cornerstone belief of the “most important meal of the day” movement.

Unfortunately for this movement, the link is weak. And it’s correlational, not causal.

In essence, we know there’s some relationship between breakfast and body weight. But we don’t know what the relationship is. Or whether it’s important.

With that said, back to the study.

In analyzing dozens of individual papers — called a meta-analysis — the researchers concluded that the link between breakfast and body weight is “only presumed true.”

In other words, the idea that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is more of a “shared belief” than a research proven conclusion.

Here’s how it works.

Since we’ve heard it so often — heck, some of us have even said it — the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” becomes part of our cultural lexicon.

Then, because we believe in it culturally, any information that runs counter it is assumed to be wrong. Even before we evaluate the evidence.

Interestingly, according to this published research, it’s not just regular people who commit this error. Nutrition experts and researchers do the same thing.

In fact, when they really dug into the literature, they found four extremely serious problems:

1) researchers were offering biased interpretation of their own results,
2) researchers were improperly using causal language to describe their results,
3) researchers were misleadingly citing others’ results, and
4) researchers were improperly using causal language when citing others’ work.

All this to say that researchers aren’t immune to bias.

In fact, when it comes to the relationship between breakfast and body weight, many researchers are so committed to the shared belief that eating breakfast is the right thing to do that they — often unintentionally — misrepresent their results and the work of others.

How important is breakfast really?

Of course, we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

Just because some research is biased — or incomplete — doesn’t mean that it’s meaningless. So let’s start with some of the proposed benefits of eating breakfast.

In the literature, eating breakfast is consistently associated with:

· decreased overall appetite
· decreased overall food consumption
· decreased body weight
· improved academic performance
· improved blood sugar control

If we stopped there, of course we’d presume that breakfast skipping is a dumb move.

However, we can’t stop there. Because the majority of this evidence is observational. It suggests there’s a relationship — a correlation — without proving cause.

For example: It could be that people who are “healthy” for other reasons — like the fact that they work out more or benefit from a higher socioeconomic status — also eat breakfast. While those who are “unhealthy” — because they don’t exercise or live below the poverty line — skip it.

In this case, breakfast just happens to co-exist with health rather than cause it.

So here’s the bottom line: When examining research that actually controls for all the variables and looks at cause and effect, the results are pretty mixed.

In other words, breakfast looks to be beneficial for some of us. But not for others.

The strongest of this evidence suggests that breakfast is most important for malnourished or impoverished children. But, for other populations, it seems to bejust another meal. No better. No worse. Completely negotiable.

Are there benefits to skipping breakfast?

There’s also the new data showing that skipping breakfast might not be so bad after all.

Folks with Type 2 diabeties, for example, did better in this study when they skipped breakfast altogether and ate a larger lunch.

Other folks who were told to skip breakfast ended up eating less overall compared to breakfast eaters.

And skipping breakfast is also just as effective as eating breakfast for weight loss.

Of course, we can play dueling studies all day long. I can show a study suggesting one thing. You can find a study suggesting the opposite. And, in the end, when it comes to the value of breakfast, we’d be at a scientific stalemate.

Which is why I often look at what’s happening outside of the literature.

The breakfast skipping movement.

In the popular media and across the web, an interesting breakfast counter-culture is cropping up. A virtual army of people intentionally skipping breakfast are sharing a host of health benefits they’ve experienced since getting rid of their morning meal.

This movement is part of a larger one known as intermittent fasting; the most popular form involves skipping breakfast each day, extending the overnight fast from dinner the night before until lunch the next day.

There are other types of fasting that involve even longer fasts each day, extending the overnight fast from dinner the night before to dinner the next day. And other types that even suggest skipping meals for one or two entire days each week.

And the reported health effects of an intelligently designed intermittent fasting program read like a laundry list of live longer, live better benefits including:

Reduced:
blood lipids, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, and cancer

Increased:
Cell turnover and repair, fat burning, growth hormone release, and metabolic rate

Improved:
Appetite control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular function, and neuronal plasticity

And, yes, many experts believe that skipping breakfast is part of the magic here.

(To read more about intermittent fasting, including a review of the most popular types and a summary of my own personal experiments, click here.)

So, will skipping breakfast be better for me?

Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Preliminary evidence suggests that skipping breakfast can:

· increase fat breakdown
· increase the release of growth hormone (which has anti-aging and fat loss benefits)
· improve blood glucose control
· improve cardiovascular function
· decrease food intake

However, the truth is, most of this research has been done in animals, with only a few conclusive human studies. So, while intriguing, there’s certainly no guarantee that these changes in our physiology will actually lead to long-term benefits.

In fact, many times, immediate changes are corrected for, and balanced out, later. That’s why acute changes don’t always lead to chronic ones.

Also, anecdotally, skipping breakfast seems to be a mixed bag.

Many report great results from skipping breakfast and having fewer, but larger, meals each day. Others report that it provides no benefit. Yet others report some really negative effects, such as decreased energy, lack of focus, and disrupted sleep.

Clearly eating breakfast — or skipping it — is not a panacea. Of course, no nutritional solution ever is.

What to do now.

The take-home message here is pretty simple: Breakfast is optional.

(Which means it’s not “the most important meal of the day.”)

  • If you love breakfast, are doing well with eating it, and feel like it’s helping you accomplish your health and/or fitness goals: Keep at it!
  • If you’re not a breakfast person, function really well without it, and are accomplishing your health and/or fitness goals: there’s no harm in waiting until later.

Of course, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t remind you that  matters too. But that’s another topic for another day.

By: John Berardi, Ph.D.

 

Interview with Dr. Jason Fung: Author of Unlocking the Obesity Code

Good news -- all those diets you've been on that didn't work were set up to fail. Dr. Jason Fung is the author of "The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss," and says counting calories and cutting fat aren't the keys to losing weight.

Ditch that scale!

To a lot of people the number on the scale can be disturbing; physically, mentally and emotionally or they wouldn’t be seeking help, but usually it is so much more than that.  We encourage clients to abstain from weighing too often at home and would prefer they weigh once a week here at the clinic. For several reasons: 

1. The number is influenced by so many things that are outside of your control - Time of day, recent food/liquid intake, hormonal fluctuations, and muscle fatigue/inflammation are just a few.

2. The scale does fluctuate from day to day and, for some, that leads to mind games, frustration and, self-sabotage.   I explain that the scale is only part of the equation and is only one way to measure progress.    The tape measure, clothing fit, body composition analysis, energy and activity level and overall health improvements are all measures of progress/ success as well.
 
As a formerly obese person myself, I can definitely say that I felt really bad about the number on the scale when I’d reached 210#.  I was very unhealthy; having a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, fibromyalgia among other things.  Many of my clients are suffering with health problems that are considered “weight related” when, in my opinion and experience, they are actually dietary lifestyle related.  In other words, I believe excess weight/obesity are more the symptom than the source of the problem.  Early in my weight loss journey, before losing the majority of the excess weight I carried, all of those ailments went away.  Due to majorly changing my dietary habits, my body felt better before it began to “look” better.  Eventually, finding out which foods caused inflammation, and thus illness, for me was crucial, which is why we now offer a food intolerance test for someone doing their very best to eat “healthy” and are still struggling to lose the weight.   

Being dedicated to my lifestyle change has enabled me to stay healthy and keep my weight where I want it.  Happily, in addition to weight loss on the scale, clients report their NSVs (non-scale victories); better energy, no more bloating, clearer skin, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, improved lab results, medication dose changes or cessation by their doctors etc.  All of those things, in addition to a smaller number on the scale, spell success to us!

 

Death By Fructose: The Toxin to Avoid

 

Casey Thaler, B.A., NASM-CPT, FNS is an NASM® certified personal trainer and NASM® certified fitness nutrition specialist. He writes for Paleo Magazine® , The Paleo Diet® and Greatist® . He is also an advisor for Bone Broths Co. and runs his own nutrition and fitness consulting company, Eat Clean, Train Clean® .

Everyone knows that excess sugar in your diet is bad for you. But would you go as far to consider sugar a poisonous drug?

People often forget that there are many different types of sugar, and surprisingly, fructose is by far the most detrimental to your health. I would argue that excess fructose could be classified as chronically toxic (1), meaning that a small, infrequent overdose of fructose likely won’t cause problems, but a lifetime of fructose in excess can cause a variety of diseases.

Well, to answer that question, we need to get into a little bit of chemistry. There is glucose, which is used by every cell in the body. And then there is fructose, which is processed almost entirely by your liver. The main transporter for fructose is called GLUT5.

There are many parallels between fructose and alcohol, which everyone recognizes as toxic (2). It strikes me as continuously odd that fructose remains largely unrecognized as a potential toxin, even though nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, sugar consumption and diabetes rates continue to climb, fructose is largely ignored.

Furthermore, when one looks at diets that are successful, they all have one common denominator. What is this? They all eliminate large amounts of dietary fructose. Fructose was initially thought to be advisable because it does have a low glycemic index. This was before we understood its negative biochemical effects. It was also shown that chronically high consumption of fructose leads to hepatic and extrahepatic insulin resistance (3). Fructose has also been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. This infographic shows all the negative effects of fructose on human physiology:

The Dangers of Fructose

The problem with fructose is that it does not lend the same satiety signal to your brain, meaning that you don’t realize you just ingested all the calories that you actually did. The best example of this is seen in a can of soda, which typically contains 70g (!) of sugar.

What’s more disturbing is that companies flat out LIE about the amount of fructose in their products (4). Right on the labels! Drinks advertised as containing no high fructose corn syrup sometimes contain MORE fructose than the drinks that DID list it on the label. And if you think fructose is only a problem in soda, think again.

The main reason why we eat so much of it is because fructose is the sweetest tasting of all sugars. Its sweet taste can be found in foods like honey, bananas, apples, dates and many other fruits and fruit juices.

Fructose is most widely known for its use in high fructose corn syrup, made from a mixture of glucose and fructose. If you think this blend is only found in desserts and drinks, think again! Just about everything in our food supply contains high fructose corn syrup, from deli meats and condiments to bread and cereal.

Because of its biochemistry, high fructose corn syrup has become a real threat to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Since its addition to our foods in the 1970s, our diet has changed from more traditional meals of meat and vegetables to ones based on refined carbohydrates.

Our genome was arguably not set up for this. Over time, we likely ate a low-ish carbohydrate diet, at times likely even ketogenic, when food wasn’t available for periods of time. Now we have convenience stores on every corner, offering liquid sugar, high carbohydrate “franken-foods” and high fat, high sugar foods.

Unsurprisingly, fructose consumption has been correlated with cancer (5). While correlation does not necessarily equal causation, there are many causative problems with fructose consumption. The cross-linking of proteins is one problem (6). As this process occurs, diseases related to aging become inevitable.

High fructose consumption can result in a plethora of age-related diseases, like atherosclerosis, hypertension, erectile dysfunction, kidney disease, stiffness of joints and skin, arthritis, cataracts, retinopathy, neuropathy, Alzheimer’s and many, many more. Here is a graph, showing exactly how high levels of sugar correlate with dementia.

That’s right…lots of fructose may lead directly to dementia. Have I scared you off of that sugar water you may be consuming? In 2010, it was very clearly stated by scientific researchers that “in the amounts currently consumed, fructose is hazardous to the cardiometabolic health of many children, adolescents and adults.” In those 4 years, the data has only gotten worse.

Here’s a schematic that shows EXACTLY how fructose factors in to our now-diseased population. Stopping this cycle is easiest when you simply limit your dietary amount of fructose. All other possible interventions are more complicated, or impossible. It is quite a simple solution, but the rewarding nature of food makes it hard for some individuals to stop.

The liver-damaging effects of fructose are also well-documented. Hepatic dysfunction is not desirable, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children is rising. NAFLD is directly linked to fructose consumption, either by ingestion of soda or fruit juice (7). Fructose is somewhat similar to grains in that it is largely useless for the body to consume the substance. However, it is actually worse than grains, because fructose in large amounts becomes toxic.

Sadly, I see this misunderstood in the Paleo community all the time. Just because it is Paleo doesn’t mean you should consume 10 pieces of fruit per day. The same thing happens with nuts. People tend to overdose on these items, when in reality, a balanced, well-rounded diet would work much better.

So, have I convinced you to stay away from fructose yet? Does it make you feel good that fructose is one of the most likely suspects for the current $245 billion per year that we spend on diabetes? I wouldn’t imagine so. Sugar, mainly fructose, is also quite heavily marketed towards children (8). We need to stop that practice, immediately, if we have any hope for a healthy future.

As Dr. Robert Lustig has stated, fructose is simply alcohol “without the buzz” (9). Nearly everything else about the substance is the same. Fructose does not generate an insulin response, which is part of why it’s so dangerous. When we don’t know we’ve eaten something, such as in the case of the body’s hormonal response to fructose, we run the increased risk of overconsumption. Hormonally, fructose causes reductions in insulin, a reduction in leptin (so you feel less full), and increases the expression of the hormone ghrelin (so you feel hungrier). Not a good combination.

Here we see the leptin resistance, dyslipidemia, increased triglycerides, muscle insulin resistance, and other negative effects all from the biochemistry of fructose ingestion. Fructose offers no benefits and only negative consequences, but it’s difficult to limit our intake of the stuff. That’s because its sweetness, which evolutionarily meant nutrient-rich foods, is hard for humans to simply consume in moderation.

 

5 Intermittent Fasting Methods: Which One Is Right for You?

We’ve all heard of the latest fad diets: The no-fat, all-fat, cabbage-soup, six-small-meals, raw-veggies-no-dressing, gluten-free eating plans supposedly proven to help you lose weight fast.

What if we told you that the answer to losing weight, improving body composition, and feeling better overall might not even really be about dieting, but instead just skipping meals every once in a while? For some, intermittent fasting, or going a longer period of time — usually between 14 and 36 hours — with very few to no calories, can actually be a lot easier than you may think, and the benefits might be worth it. If you think about it, all of us “fast” every single day — we just call it sleeping. Intermittent fasting just means extending that fasting period, and being a bit more conscious of your eating schedule overall. But is it right for you? And which method is best?

The Science of Fasting

As far back as the 1930s, scientists have been exploring the benefits of reducing calories by skipping meals. During that time, one American scientist found that significantly reducing calories helped mice live longer, healthier lives. More recently, researches have found the same in fruit flies, roundworms and monkeys. Studies have also shown that decreasing calorie consumption by 30 to 40 percent (regardless of how it’s done) can extend life span by a third or more. Plus, there’s data to suggest that limiting food intake may reduce the risk of many common diseases. And some believe fasting may also increase the body’s responsiveness to insulin, which regulates blood sugar, helping to control feelings of hunger and food cravings.

The five most common methods of intermittent fasting try to take advantage of each of these benefits, but different methods will yield better results for different people. “If you’re going to force yourself to follow a certain method, it’s not going to work,” says trainer and fitness expert Nia Shanks. “Choose a method that makes your life easier,” she says. Otherwise, it’s not sustainable and the benefits of your fasting may be short-lived.

So what’s the first step in getting started? Each method has its own guidelines for how long to fast and what to eat during the “feeding” phase. Below, you’ll find the five most popular methods and the basics of how they work. Keep in mind, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, and those with health conditions of any kind should check with their doctor before changing up their usual routine. It’s also important to note that personal goals and lifestyle are key factors to consider when choosing a fasting method.

1. Leangains

Started by: Martain Berkhan
Best for: Dedicated gym-goers who want to lose body fat and build muscle.

How It Works: Fast for 14 (women) to 16 (men) hours each day, and then “feed” for the remaining eight to 10 hours. During the fasting period, you consume no calories, though black coffee, calorie-free sweeteners, diet soda and sugar-free gum are permitted. (A splash of milk in your coffee won’t hurt, either.) Most practitioners will find it easiest to fast through the night and into the morning, breaking the fast roughly six hours after waking up. This schedule is adaptable to any person’s lifestyle, but maintaining a consistent feeding window time is important. Otherwise, hormones in the body can get thrown out of whack and make sticking to the program harder, Berkhan says.

What and when you eat during the feeding window also depends on when you work out. On days you exercise, carbs are more important than fat. On rest days, fat intake should be higher. Protein consumption should be fairly high every day, though it will vary based on goals, gender, age, body fat and activity levels. Regardless of your specific program, whole, unprocessed foods should make up the majority of your calorie intake. However, when there isn’t time for a meal, a protein shake or meal replacement bar is acceptable (in moderation).

Pros: For many, the highlight of this program is that on most days, meal frequency is irrelevant — you can really eat whenever you want to within the eight-hour “feeding” period. That said, most people find breaking it up into three meals easier to stick to (since we’re typically already programmed to eat this way).

Cons: Even though there is flexibility in when you eat, Leangains has pretty specific guidelines for what to eat, especially in relation to when you’re working out. The strict nutrition plan and scheduling meals perfectly around workouts can make the program a bit tougher to adhere to. (You can learn more about the specifics — as well as when to time these meals — directly from Leangains here and here.)

2. Eat Stop Eat

Started by: Brad Pilon
Best for: Healthy eaters looking for an extra boost.

How It Works: Fast for 24 hours once or twice per week. During the 24 hour fast, which creator Brad Pilon prefers to call a “24 break from eating,” no food is consumed, but you can drink calorie-free beverages. After the fast is over, you then go back to eating normally. “Act like you didn’t fast,” Pilon says. “Some people need to finish the fast at a normal mealtime with a big meal, while others are OK ending the fast with an afternoon snack. Time it however works best for you, and adjust your timing as your schedule changes,” he says.

The main rationale? Eating this way will reduce overall calorie intake without really limiting what you’re able to eat — just how often, according to Eat Stop Eat. It’s important to note that incorporating regular workouts, particularly resistance training, is key to succeeding on this plan if weight loss or improved body composition are goals.

Pros: While 24 hours may seem like a long time to go without food, the good news is that this program is flexible. You don’t have to go all-or-nothing at the beginning. Go as long as you can without food the first day and gradually increase fasting phase over time to help your body adjust. Pilon suggests starting the fast when you are busy, and on a day where you have no eating obligations (like a work lunch or happy hour).

Another perk? There are no “forbidden foods,” and no counting calories, weighing food or restricting your diet, which makes it a bit easier to follow. That said, this isn’t a free-for-all. “You still have to eat like a grown-up,” Pilon says. It’s all about moderation: You can still eat whatever you want, but maybe not as much of it. (A slice of birthday cake is OK, he says, but the whole cake isn’t.)

Cons: Going 24 hours without any calories may be too difficult for some — especially at first. Many people struggle with going extended periods of time with no food, citing annoying symptoms including headaches, fatigue, or feeling cranky or anxious (though these side effects can dimish over time). The long fasting period can also make it more tempting to binge after a fast. This can be easily fixed… but it takes a lot of self-control, which some people lack.

3. The Warrior Diet

Started by: Ori Hofmekler
Best for: People who like following rules. The devoted.

How It Works: Warriors-in-training can expect to fast for about 20 hours every day and eatone large meal every night. What you eat and when you eat it within that large meal is also key to this method. The philosophy here is based on feeding the body the nutrients it needs in sync with circadian rhythms and that our species are “nocturnal eaters, inherently programmed for night eating.”

The fasting phase of The Warrior Diet is really more about “undereating.” During the 20-hour fast, you can eat a few servings of raw fruit or veggies, fresh juice, and a few servings of protein, if desired. This is supposed to maximize the Sympathetic Nervous System’s “fight or flight” response, which is intended to promote alertness, boost energy, and stimulate fat burning. The four-hour eating window — which Hofmekler refers to as the “overeating” phase — is at night in order to maximize the Parasympathetic Nervous System’s ability to help the body recuperate, promoting calm, relaxation and digestion, while also allowing the body to use the nutrients consumed for repair and growth. Eating at night may also help the body produce hormones and burn fat during the day, according to Hofmekler. During these four hours, the order in which you eat specific food groups matters, too. Hofmelker says to start with veggies, protein and fat. After finishing those groups, only if you are still hungry should you tack on some carbohydrates.

Pros: Many have gravitated toward this diet because the “fasting” period still allows you to eat a few small snacks, which can make it easier to get through. As the methodology explains (and the “success stories” section of The Warrior Diet website supports), many practitioners also report increased energy levels and fat loss.

Cons: Even though it’s nice to eat a few snacks rather than go without any food for 20-plus hours, the guidelines for what needs to be eaten (and when) can be hard to follow long-term. The strict schedule and meal plan may also interfere with social gatherings, which can be tricky for some. Additionally, eating one main meal at night — while following strict guidelines of what to eat, and in what order — can be tough, especially for those who prefer not to eat large meals late in the day.

4. Fat Loss Forever

Started by: John Romaniello and Dan Go
Best for: Gym rats who love cheat days.

How It Works: Not completely satisfied with the IF diets listed above? This method takes the best parts of Eat Stop Eat, The Warrior Diet and Leangains, and combines it all into one plan. You also get one cheat day each week (yay!) — followed by a 36-hour fast (which may be not-so-yay for some). After that, the remainder of the seven-day cycle is split up between the different fasting protocols.

Romaniello and Go suggest saving the longest fasts for your busiest days, allowing you to focus on being productive and avoid focusing on potential hunger. The plan, which can be purchased on their website, also includes training programs (using bodyweight and free weights) to help participants reach maximum fat loss in the simplest way possible.

Pros: According to the founders, while everyone is technically fasting every day — during the hours when we’re not eating — most of us do so haphazardly, which makes it harder to reap the rewards. Fat Loss Forever offers a seven-day schedule for fasting so that the body can get used to this structured timetable and reap the most benefit from the fasting periods. (Plus, you get a full-fledged cheat day. And who doesn’t love that?)

Cons: On the flip side, if you have a hard time handling cheat days the healthy way (i.e. being able to indulge in moderation and turn off that green light when it’s time), this method might not be for you. Additionally, because the plan is pretty specific and the fasting/feeding schedule varies from day to day, this method can be a bit confusing to follow. (However, the plan does come with a calendar, noting how to fast and exercise each day, which may make it easier.)

5. UpDayDownDay ™ Diet (aka The Alternate-Day Diet or Alternate-Day Fasting)

Started by: James Johnson, M.D.
Best for: Disciplined dieters with a specific goal weight.

How It Works: This one’s easy: Eat very little one day, and eat like normal the next. On the low-calorie days, that means one fifth of your normal calorie intake. So using 2,000 or 2,500 calories (for women and men, respectively) as a guide, that means a “fasting” (or “down”) day should be 400 to 500 calories. Followers can use this tool to figure out how many calories to consume on “low-calorie” days.

To make “down” days easier to stick to, Johnson recommends opting for meal replacement shakes because they’re fortified with essential nutrients and can be sipped throughout the day rather than split into small meals. However, meal replacement shakes should only be used during the first two weeks of the diet — after that, you should start eating real food on “down” days. The next day, eat like normal. Rinse and repeat! (Note: If working out is part of your routine, you may find it harder to hit the gym on the lower calorie days. It may be smart to keep any workouts on these days on the tamer side, or save sweat sessions for your normal calorie days.)

Pros: This method is all about weight loss, so if that’s your main goal, this is one to take a closer look at. On average, those who cut calories by 20 to 35 percent see a loss of about two and a half pounds per week, according to the Johnson UpDayDownDay Diet website.

Cons: While the method is pretty easy to follow, it can be easy to binge on the “normal” day. The best way to stay on track is planning your meals ahead of time as often as possible, so you’re not caught at the drive-through or all-you-can-eat buffet with a grumbling belly.

Food for Thought

While these five methods are the most well-known in terms of integrating periods of fasting into your eating schedule, there are many other similar philosophies based on meal timing. For those who prefer a more fluid, less rigid method, there’s also the concept of eating intuitively. Primal Diet proponentMark Sisson is a supporter of the Eat WHEN (When Hunger Ensues Naturally) method, where dieters simply eat whenever their bodies ask them to. However, some believe this can also lead to overeating or overconsumption of calories, since our bodies’ hunger-induced choices may be more caloric than otherwise.

Of course, fasting — regardless of the method — isn’t for everyone. If you have any medical conditions, special dietary requirements, or chronic diseases, it’s smart to consult a doctor before giving intermittent fasting a shot. Anyone who tries it should also plan to be highly self-aware while fasting — if it’s not agreeing with you, or if you need to eat a little something to hold you over and avoid an even more serious problem, that’s just fine. It takes our bodies time to adjust, and some require more than others. And for the ladies out there: Keep in mind that hormones can make it harder for women to follow a fasting plan than for men. “Be cautious at first, and start slowly [with a shorter fast],” Shanks recommends. If it doesn’t make you feel better, try something different, or accept the fact that maybe fasting isn’t for you.

5 Tips for Starting Your First Fast

If you do give fasting a try, keep these general tips in mind:

  • Drink plenty of water. Staying well hydrated will make the fasting periods much easier to get through, Pilon says.
  • Fast overnight. Throw yourself a bone and aim to fast through the night, so that you’re (hopefully) sleeping during at least eight of those hours.
  • Rewire your thought process. “Think of fasting as taking a break from eating,” Pilon says, not as a period of deprivation. It can be a way to break up the monotony of worrying about what you need to eat next and when. This is the mindset that will allow you do follow a fasting plan long-term, he says.
  • Overcommit. It may seem counterintuitive, but the best plan is often to start when you’re busy — not on a day when you’ll be sitting on the couch wanting to snack.
  • Hit the gym. Pairing intermittent fasting with consistent exercise will help you get better results. “It doesn’t have to be hardcore or crazy; it can be  something as simple as a full-body strength training routine two or three times per week,” Shanks says.

by: Kate Morin

Trying to lose weight, but crave pasta?

Shirataki Noodles — An Incredibly Healthy High-Fiber, No-Carb Food

By Dr. Mercola

One of the fastest ways to destroy your health is to eat a diet high in net carbs and protein and low in healthy fats. Considering the fact that 80 percent of Americans are insulin resistant and eat in this way, it's no surprise that obesity rates are on a steady climb.

While no one diet is perfect for everyone, as a general rule, most people could benefit by restricting net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) to less than 50 grams per day. If you exercise a lot or are very active, you might be able to increase it to 100 grams.

For example, grains, rice, pasta, potatoes and vegetables are all carbohydrates. However, because vegetables are so high in fiber, they're very low in net carbs. This is why you can eat virtually unlimited amounts of veggies on a low-carb diet. It's really the fiber content that differentiates "good" carbs from the "bad."

To determine your net carbs, simply subtract the fiber from the total carbs, and that's your total non-fiber or "net" carbs.

Shirataki Noodles — An Exceptional High-Fiber Food

Vegetables aren't the only high-fiber food though. A food you may never have heard of is shirataki noodles, which may be the epitome of a low net carb food, containing about 97 percent water and 3 percent fiber, zero calories, and no digestible carbs.

They're long, white, and translucent noodles, sometimes referred to as konjac noodles or miracle noodles. They're made from glucomannan fiber from the root of the konjac plant (aka devil's tongue yam). As explained by Authority Nutrition:1

"Glucomannan is a highly viscous fiber. Viscous fiber is a type of soluble fiber, and one of its main characteristics is the ability to absorb water and form a gel. In fact, glucomannan can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, as reflected in shirataki noodles' extremely high water content.

These noodles move through the digestive system very slowly, which helps you feel full and delays nutrient absorption into the bloodstream. In addition, viscous fiber functions as a prebiotic. It nourishes the bacteria living in your colon, also known as the gut flora or microbiome."

The Importance of Fiber for Health

The microbes in your body consume the same foods you do, and as a general rule, the beneficial ones tend to feed on foods that are known to benefit health, and vice versa.

Some of the microbes in your gut specialize in fermenting soluble fiber found not only in shirataki noodles but also in fruits and vegetables, and the byproducts of this fermenting activity help nourish the cells lining your colon. This helps prevent health problems associated with leaky gut syndrome.

The most important fermentation byproducts are short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, propionate, and acetate. These short-chain fats:

  • Help nourish and recalibrate your immune system, thereby helping to prevent inflammatory disorders such as asthma and Crohn's disease2,3
  • Increase specialized immune cells called T regulatory cells, which help prevent autoimmune responses. Via a process called hematopoiesis, they're also involved in the formation of other types of blood cells in your body
  • Serve as easy substrates for your liver to produce ketones that efficiently fuel your mitochondria and serve as important and powerful metabolic signals
  • Stimulate the release of a gut hormone known as peptide YY (PYY), which increases satiety, meaning it helps you feel fuller4
  • Butyrate in particular affects gene expression and induces apoptosis (normal programmed cell death), thereby decreasing your risk of colon cancer

Leaky Gut Is Real, and a Major Contributor to Chronic Disease

Unfortunately, few Americans get the recommended 30 to 32 grams of fiber per day, and when fiber is lacking, it starves these beneficial bacteria, thereby setting your health into a downward spiral.

In the past, there have been questions about whether leaky gut syndrome is a "real" condition or not. Recent research5 has confirmed the reality of leaky gut, showing that, indeed, physical gaps between the cells that line your intestinal barrier can develop, allowing undigested food particles into your blood stream.

A gut protein called zonulin regulates the opening and closing of these holes in the cell wall of your intestine. When a gap develops, larger molecules such as food particles can get through, thereby causing allergic reactions and other problems such as type-1 diabetes, Celiac disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

It can also contribute to neurological problems. For example, research by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has revealed that nearly all mothers of autistic children have abnormal gut flora. This is significant because newborns inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth.

Gut dysfunction is also a factor in depression and various behavioral problems, both in children and adults.

Health Benefits of Glucomannan

Glucomannan — the fiber found in shirataki noodles — has been linked to a number of health benefits, including:

  • Weight loss. Research has shown that taking glucomannan before eating a high-carb meal reduces levels of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin. When taken daily for one month, it also reduced fasting ghrelin levels
  • Reduced blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Lowered cholesterol levels, in part by increasing the amount of cholesterol excreted in the stool, leaving less to be reabsorbed into your bloodstream. One meta-analysis found glucomannan lowered LDL cholesterol by an average of 16 mg/dL and triglycerides by an average of 11 mg/dl6
  • Constipation relief and improved bowel movements

Shirataki Noodles Are a Resistant Starch

Fiber is typically classified as either soluble or insoluble. However, other properties, such as fermentability, are of greater importance when it comes to actual health benefits.

As noted in Today's Dietitian,7 "Naturally occurring resistant starches are a group of low-viscous fibers that are slowly fermented in the large intestine. As their name suggests, resistant starches are starches that resist digestion in the small intestine."

They're the types of fiber that act as prebiotics, feeding healthy bacteria in your gut. Because resistant starches are fermented very slowly, they won't make you gassy, allowing you to eat far more of them without suffering discomfort.

They also add significant bulk to your stools, and help you maintain regular bowel movements. Since they're not digested, resistant starches also do not result in blood sugar spikes.

Research also suggests resistant starches8 help improve insulin regulation, reducing your risk of insulin resistance. Interest in resistant starches is so high, scientists are even looking at ways to engineer plants and other foods to produce or incorporate them.9 As noted by Time Magazine:10

"Those benefits — getting digested slower, being converted into fatty acids and sustaining colonies of gut bacteria — set resistant starch apart.

Resistant starch is being explored as a healthy food for people with type 2 diabetes; eating it improved certain measures of inflammation, a condition that often precedes type 2 diabetes, and lipid profiles in women with the condition, showed one 2015 study.11

'Certain populations and cultures have been benefiting from resistant starches for a long time,' says Paul Arciero, professor in the Health and Exercise Sciences department of Skidmore College. 'In my belief, that's what's protected them against some of the ravages of the more modern-day high carbohydrate diet.'

Examples of foods high in resistant starch12 include under ripe banana, rolled oats, white beans, lentils, seeds, and products like potato starch, tapioca starch, and brown rice flour. Interestingly, cooking a normally digestible starch such as potato or pasta and then cooling it in the refrigerator will alter the chemistry of the food, transforming more of it into resistant-type starch.13

Cooking With Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki noodles are a prime example of a resistant starch. High in fiber with no digestible carbs, they not only benefit your gut microbiome but also help you lose weight and ward off conditions like diabetes and colon cancer. The noodles, which are virtually tasteless on their own, readily take on the flavor of whatever seasoning or sauce you use.

Many enjoy their consistency, and the fact that they won't stick together like regular wheat pasta noodles. They're also a great "convenience food," as they require very little preparation. To eat cold, simply drain, rinse (this will remove most of the konjac root odor, which has a slight fishy smell), and dress with your favorite seasoning.

For a hot meal, you can add them to a pot of broth (homemade broth would be ideal), which will allow the noodles to soak up the flavor of the broth. If you want a more regular noodle texture, heat them in an ungreased skillet for a few minutes. This will evaporate some of the water in the noodles, removing some of that mushy, gel-like consistency.

Serious Eats14 and Authority Nutrition15 offer some recipes and simple tips for cooking with shirataki noodles. You can also find all sorts of recipes on YouTube. While they're ideal for Asian recipes, they can replace rice or pasta in just about any dish.

Increasing Your Fiber Intake May Help Prolong Your Life

Mounting research suggests that a high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Again, these benefits are in part due to the fermenting action of certain beneficial microbes in your intestine, and the health-promoting byproducts produced from this process.

Avoiding sugar and processed food is equally important, as they promote the growth of fungi and other harmful microbes that can easily take over, given half a chance. The nice thing about shirataki noodles is that they're ALL fiber and NO digestible carb at all. In essence, they're a perfect no-net-carb pasta replacement you can enjoy in generous amounts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends getting 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. I believe about 25 to 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed is probably a better goal. A more general recommendation is to make sure you get 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Besides shirataki noodles, other healthy sources of soluble and insoluble fiber include: