Tagged as: nutrition

Your Biggest Questions about Sugar, Answered.

Your Biggest Questions about Sugar, Answered

 

Question 1: What does sugar do to our bodies?

 

Sugars are carbohydrates, and they provide quick energy for our bodies (which is why many of us reach for a sugary treat during that mid-afternoon slump at work). However, unlike starches, fiber, and cellulose, which are complex carbohydrates, sugar is a simple carbohydrate. The more complex the molecule, the slower it digests. Since sugar is a simple carb, it digests quickly, while starches and fiber are complex carbs and digest more slowly. This is why eating fiber and healthy starches (think potatoes or brown rice) will help you feel full longer, yet you are often hungry again an hour after eating a bowl of cereal or a pastry.

 

Question 2: So what about the connection between sugar and our health?

 

While sugar itself may not be the primary culprit in weight gain, the problem comes from how much of it we consume. Sweet, sugary foods are usually processed and highly palatable (ie. delicious), and since they are digested so quickly, they overstimulate the reward/pleasure centers in our brain, leading us to overeat them (this is why it is so difficult to only eat one cookie out of the box). Therefore, we are likely to ingest more calories throughout the day through overconsumption of sugary foods. Sugar feeds sugar cravings, so if you start the day with a rush of sugar, you’re more likely to reach for a sugary snack at lunch, and a sugary dessert after dinner.

 

Studies have linked intake of refined sugar with insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of diabetes. A recent study found that for every 150 calorie increase in daily sugar intake (or 37 grams of sugar – roughly the amount in one 12oz can of soda, the risk of diabetes increased by about 1.1%. Eating too much sugar can also increase accumulation of fat in the liver, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

 

Question 3: How much sugar should we be eating in a day?

 

Each of us is different, and each person’s response to sugar will be a little different. Some of us may be able to tolerate higher amounts of sugar in our diet. However, the bottom line is that sugar doesn’t nourish our bodies, it adds little to no nutritional value to our diets, and provides us with no vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, water, or fiber. It doesn’t make our bodies stronger, healthier, or more functional, or improve us physically. Simply speaking, even though it tastes good, it is empty calories, and wouldn’t you rather get your calories from foods that will also provide health benefits for your body?

 

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sugar to 10% of your daily calories. Do the math – if you’re eating 1800 calories a day, that means 180 calories from sugar, or 45 grams of sugar (180/4, since there are 4 calories per gram of sugar).

 

Question 4: What are the best and worst sources of sugars?

 

Here’s a good way to visualize it in order of preference:

  1. The best sources of sugar are the naturally-occuring sugars that come from minimally processed whole foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dairy.)
  2. Natural sugars in more concentrated forms in foods such as honey, dried fruits, and fruit juices.
  3. Sugar in semi-processed forms such as maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave nectar.
  4. Sugar in processed foods (granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup).

 

Read your food labels! Sugar is prominent in processed foods, and one of the easiest ways to minimize your sugar intake is to limit your consumption of processed foods. Salad dressings, frozen dinners, and most sauces are full of sugar. Beware of hidden sugars in processed “health foods” such as yogurt, granola, protein bars, and juices. When shopping, try to purchase as many foods as possible without food labels at all (such as whole fruits and veggies, raw nuts, beans, and legumes, and meats and seafood). Transitioning away from processed foods to a diet rich in whole foods without labels is a great way to reduce your sugar intake while increasing your nutrient intake.

 

Question 5: What are the different names for sugar?

 

There are a ton! Here’s a sampling to watch for on food labels (this isn’t even all of them!)

  • Glucose (simple sugar that is absorbed by our body – carbs are broken down into glucose for energy)
  • Fructose (found in fruit)
  • Sucrose, aka table sugar (which is glucose + fructose)
  • Galactose
  • Lactose (galactose + glucose, found in dairy)
  • Maltose
  • Saccharose
  • Dextrose
  • Dextrin
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltol

Here’s some other ingredients that are essentially just more names for sugar:

  • High fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener
  • Granulated sugar, confectioners sugar, brown sugar, turbinado sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Agave nectar
  • Caramel
  • Molasses
  • Fruit juice
  • Raw sugar, palm sugar, date sugar
  • Cane juice, cane sugar
  • Syrup
  • Barley malt, malt syrup

 

Challenge yourself to eat less sugar! Read the food labels around your kitchen, and look for the ingredients from the above list. What items in your house have hidden sugars? Next time you go grocery shopping, which items can you swap out for brands without added sugars?

If you would like Nutrition Coaching with one of our Precision Nutrition Certified Coaches register for a Complimentary Health and Wellness Consult below:

Top 10 Super-foods for Optimal Health and Weight Loss

Written by our Precision Nutrition Certified Coach Emily Mailloux

 

As a coach, I’m frequently being asked by clients which foods to eat to burn fat, lose weight, and have more energy, so I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 superfoods that I recommend to all my clients and are staples in my regular diet. These 10 superfoods are not only fantastic for managing weight and promoting fat loss, they also provide a wide range of other health benefits including eye and skin health, cancer prevention, strong bones and teeth, and a healthy and robust immune system. Check out my list below of the top 10 superfoods you should be regularly consuming as part of your healthy diet!

Salmon

Salmon is a rich source of protein, vitamin D and vitamin B, and omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are important because they help with cognitive function, keeping your mind sharp, improve memory, and may even help to combat depression. They also lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, and can prevent vision loss.

Tip: Always opt for wild caught salmon over farm-raised for higher nutrient density and better quality.

Blueberries (and other berries)

Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, which help with brain function and motor coordination. They also reduce inflammation, which is a leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Berries can also reduce high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

Tip: The darker the color of the berry, the higher it is in antioxidants.

Cruciferous veggies/leafy greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens are loaded with vitamins and minerals that can prevent heart disease and cancer. They are also an excellent source of fiber, which regulates your digestive system and helps you feel full longer, which is great for weight management. Cruciferous veggies, which include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy, have been found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. They also stimulate the immune system, killing bacteria and viruses.

Tip: Don’t like eating your greens? Try tossing some spinach or kale leaves into a smoothie with fruit and Greek yogurt for a nutrient-packed refreshing drink.

Avocados

Avocados provide a whole bevy of health benefits. They are a great source of healthy fats, and can aid in blood and tissue regeneration, eye and skin health, and stabilize blood sugar, which can prevent diabetes. They provide a great source of fiber and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Tip: Avocados are great for breakfast! Try spreading mashed avocado on a piece of whole grain toast, or add sliced avocado to an omelette.

Nuts and seeds

This category of superfoods includes almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. Like salmon, walnuts provide heart-healthy omega-3’s, which protect your body from heart disease and improve brain function. Almonds have been shown to lower cholesterol, and their protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats can aid with weight loss and management, since they provide the feeling of fullness and can prevent overeating. Chia seeds are the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and are high in protein, minerals, and antioxidants. Chia seeds are also an excellent source of fiber, and can absorb liquid and swell to more than 5 times their size, so eating these seeds can help you feel fuller for longer. In addition to providing fiber, omega-3’s, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and zinc, flaxseeds are also a highly usable form of protein for the body, and have been used for centuries for medicinal and health reasons.

Tip: Try sprinkling a small handful of almonds or walnuts or a tablespoon of chia or flaxseeds to a salad or bowl of yogurt or cottage cheese for a crunchy treat to help you feel full and satisfied.

Eggs

Eggs provide the highest quality protein you can find from food sources. They contain all 9 of the essential amino acids, and are full of valuable nutrients. And don’t forget the yolks! Egg yolks have been found to prevent buildup of fat and cholesterol in the liver, and protect heart and brain function. The yolks also contain lutein, which protects the eyes and reduces the risk of macular degeneration, which can cause blindness. Eggs have also been found to aid in maintaining a healthy metabolism and memory function.

Tip: Eggs can be prepared in lots of different ways. Try incorporating other superfoods such as avocado, spinach, or broccoli into an omelette, or hard boil a few to pack for lunch on the go.

Greek yogurt/Kefir

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein- an average 5oz. serving contains 12g. It is also full of probiotics, the good kind of bacteria that boost your immune system and improve digestion. Lower in lactose than other dairy sources, Greek yogurt is easier to digest and is ideal for those who are naturally sensitive to dairy, and may even reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance. Kefir, a fermented milk product (like a drinkable yogurt) contains highly beneficial microbacteria, yeasts, and probiotics, as well as essential vitamins and minerals that help your body heal and repair itself. Because kefir is a fermented product, the proteins in it are already partially digested and are therefore more readily absorbed by the body. Additionally, kefir can protect the body against gastrointestinal diseases, regulates the immune system, and provides a good source of calcium for strong bones and teeth.

Tip: For an economical approach, buy a large tub of plain Greek yogurt and dress it up yourself with berries, nuts, chia seeds, or other fruits, or add it to a smoothie with leafy greens and fruit.

Beans

Beans provide a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B, calcium, potassium, and folate, which help with skin health, cell growth, and brain function. Eating beans also raises levels of the hormone leptin, which curbs appetite and prevents overeating. Beans can also lower blood pressure and the risk of stroke, and are an excellent source of fiber.

Tip: Opt for fresh or dried beans (soak in water overnight before preparing), as canned varieties tend to be much higher in sodium.

Green tea

Green tea contains EGCG, a powerful antioxidant known for its cancer preventing properties. Studies have also shown that drinking green tea regularly may lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease and stroke. Green tea also contains low doses of caffeine, which can provide a natural source of energy throughout the day that is less irritating to the stomach than coffee. Bonus: drinking green tea throughout the day also contributes to your daily hydration needs.

Tip: Try replacing all sodas and sugary drinks with a cup of green tea, and drink a cup first thing in the morning to kickstart your metabolism and start the day feeling energized.

Dark chocolate

I’m sure you’re all as excited as I am to see chocolate on this list. When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can reduce unhealthy cholesterol in your body and prevent plaque from building up in your arteries. It also contains many powerful antioxidants, which can prevent cell damage and diseases such as cancer. Dark chocolate has been found to boost mood, improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure.

Tip: Since only real cacao contains these antioxidant benefits, opt for dairy-free dark chocolate that is at least 60% cacao, and limit yourself to a 1oz. serving, 2-3 times per week. The darker the chocolate, the lower the calories, fat, and sugar content too.

Do you need nutrition coaching to help you with your Health and Wellness Goals?

Starts on June 3rd!!

Build Muscle and Lose Fat article

Build Muscle and Lose Fat article

By Emily Mailloux

We all want it, right? We’re all after that elusive goal to increase our muscle mass while decreasing our body fat percentage. Changing your body composition can be challenging and requires a lot of hard work and patience, and losing fat while gaining muscle tone is even harder. However, it definitely can be done, if you make sure to follow the guidelines below.

 

While exercise plays an important role in body composition (and we’ll discuss that more in a minute), changing your nutrition will have the biggest effect on your body’s ability to lose fat while simultaneously building muscle.

 

First, increase your protein intake and decrease your carbohydrate intake, particularly those carbs found in processed and sugary foods. For the best body composition results, aim to get 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. Sound like a lot? Start by getting a minimum of 25% of your daily calories from protein, and make sure to space the protein out evenly throughout the day. Shoot for a minimum of 25-30g of protein per meal.

 

Next, make sure you’re eating a lot of good, healthy fats, particularly for breakfast, which will help you feel full for longer. Swap out your carb-heavy breakfast (cereal, granola, pancakes, waffles, scones, etc) for a breakfast high in protein and fats (eggs, avocado, salmon, turkey or chicken sausage, cottage cheese). Save the bulk of your carb-heavy meals for right after your workout, when the body needs to replenish its glycogen stores.

 

Also, make sure you aren’t in too great of a caloric deficit. While it is tempting to drastically cut calories to lose body fat, remember that you can’t grow muscle in a caloric deficit. Instead, keep your calories at a maintenance level but adjust where those calories are coming from by changing your macronutrient ratios as discussed above – increase protein intake, make sure you’re getting enough healthy fats, and decrease carbohydrate consumption.

 

Finally, watch your alcohol consumption, and set a goal to cut down or cut out alcoholic drinks from your diet. Not only is it empty calories with no nutritional benefit, but alcohol also alters your sleep and decreases your body’s ability to recover from your tough workouts. Alcohol also increases cortisol levels, your body’s stress hormone. Prolonged increased levels of cortisol have been linked to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen, slowed metabolism, and degradation of muscle mass. Increases in cortisol also cause increases in ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite. This is why the more stressed out we are, the more likely we are to binge on food. Engage in stress management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or even a walk outside, to keep your body’s cortisol levels in check.

 

Now that you’ve got your nutrition in check, let’s talk about the most effective training to rev up your body to burn fat and build muscle!

 

First, train with short, intense bursts. This includes sprinting (one of the most effective workouts to burn fat quickly) and high intensity interval training (HIIT workouts). You can create your own interval workout pretty simply: choose three exercises (let’s say a goblet squat, a push-up, and a kettlebell swing) and do 30 seconds of each exercise alternated with 30 seconds of rest (30sec squat, 30sec rest, 30sec push-up, 30sec rest, 30sec KB swing, 30sec rest). Repeat this circuit 3 times for a total of only 9 minutes.

 

Another way to train with these intense bursts is to utilize supersets in your training. Superset two opposing movements, for example, an upper body pull (pull-up) with a lower body push (squat), and perform them back-to-back. This helps to keep the intensity of your workout up and minimize rest time, but still allows each muscle group time to rest. Don’t check your phone during these supersets, switch quickly from one to the other to keep that heart rate up!

 

Performing complexes is another excellent method for burning body fat while building muscle definition. Complexes can be performed with a dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell, and the goal is to complete all exercises within the complex without putting the weight down (for example, a kettlebell clean, squat, and overhead press, repeated 10x, never putting the KB down until the end of the set).

 

Finally, lift heavy and lift often. Strength train at least 3 times a week, and prioritize the big, compound movements that work all the major muscle groups and movement patterns. And don’t forget to take ample time to recover! Take at least 24-48 hours of rest between training the same muscle group so your muscles have time to rest and grow. Sufficient sleep is also crucial to muscle recovery and growth, so aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. When you’re sleep deprived, your body craves glucose (aka sugar) in an attempt to find energy, so you’re more likely to consume more calories, particularly the sugary empty calories, on days when you haven’t gotten enough sleep.

NEW YEAR, NEW YOU!

If you’re like most people, the holidays are a time of mixed emotions. You’re excited and anxious to spend time with family, and you’re dreading the extra weight that you know you’re bound to gain. Are these holiday pounds inevitable?

Lean in close to catch these seven secret ways to help you fend off extra weight through the holidays. And once you’re done, don’t keep it a secret. Go tell somebody!

Holiday Secret #1: Listen to Your Body

It may not speak quickly enough all the time, but you know your body is constantly telling you things. Sometimes it tells you to stop a certain activity before you get hurt. During the holiday season, it tells you to put the brakes on your eating before you go beyond the point of no return. When your body tells you it’s full, listen up! A single bite after you’re full will lead to extra calories and eventually, extra pounds.

Holiday Secret #2: Confine the Holidays

For some, holidays become weeks and even months of poor eating. Be careful to avoid this pitfall by digging into your holiday foods only on the actual holiday. Treat the other days like normal days—even if you’re off of work. And when the holiday is over, let someone else take the leftovers home and go to your own house without any pudding or gravy in tow.

Holiday Secret #3: Eat First, Party Second

You read right—it’s good to eat before heading out the door. Have a healthy, well-rounded meal at home with fruits, vegetables, and your protein source of choice. And drink a tall glass of water. Why? So when you get to that holiday party that is overflowing with cookies, cakes, candies, and calories, you’re not hungry for it. Your stomach is full of healthy goodness and has no room for the fattening stuff.

Holiday Secret #4: Plan Your Escape

Getting away from food isn’t easy. If you expect to be able to walk away from delicious thigh- and gut-growing foods without any forethought, think again. Before walking into a potentially fattening situation, plan out what you’re going to eat and take your own dish to share if necessary. Any time there is a particularly difficult eating situation, make plans an hour or so after the dangerous-to-your-diet event begins and excuse yourself.

Holiday Secret #5: Exercise Everywhere

One of the best excuses to gain weight is that you have to travel to visit family and don’t have access to your personal trainer. Well, guess what? Just because your trainer isn’t staying in the hotel with you doesn’t mean you aren’t accountable! Scope out the area where you’ll be traveling and take advantage of whatever exercise opportunities are available. There may be a gym or pool at your hotel, a pay-as-you-go gym, or a nice park nearby where you can walk or run with or without family members.

Holiday Secret #6: Pay Attention to People

Holidays are about family and friends…right? Then stop focusing on food! When you go to a party, there is no need to hang out by the food table when there are people all around you! Ignore the grub and go for the meaningful stuff that you’ll remember and cherish. Besides, it’s much easier to talk without munching and you even listen better when you’re not stuck thinking about how good the next bite is going to be.

Holiday Secret #7: Drink Instead

No, this isn’t a license to drink as much alcohol as you can find. Doing that will add lots of useless calories to your waistline. Instead, do your best to make friends with a glass of water everywhere you go. As you mingle with your water glass, you’ll find it challenging to grab more than a couple of finger foods here and there, and the fact that it is water will help you remember to watch what else goes in your mouth!

Wouldn’t you love to make 2016 the year that you transform your body?

Wouldn’t it feel great to throw out all of your fat clothes? To look forward to bathing suit season? To be given a clean bill of health from your doctor? And to be showered with compliments by family, friends and that special someone?

It’s all more possible than you think.

But you’ll need to take massive action.

REGISTER FOR THE NEW YEAR, NEW YOU CHALLENGE

Go on, do it now and secure your spot before the New Year’s rush.

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