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Enjoy a Treat Without the Sugar Shock

You can have your cake…and eat (a little bit of it) too! It really is possible to enjoy a treat without the sugar shock. So, how is this possible? Well, lowering sugar and increasing fat for starters. Read on to discover 3 treats that are savory, filling, and decadent – you’ll never believe they’re actually good for you!

I am a huge advocate for low, to NO sugar in my diet. That is, added sugar and foods that are naturally higher in sugar. For example, I would choose 1 cup of raspberries (5 grams) over 1 large apple (23 grams) or 1 banana (17 grams). Now, I am not saying that I don’t eat ALL fruits, I am just explaining how easily sugar can add up in your diet.

You might also be surprised to know that lower fat versions of the same foods simply add sugar when removing fat content. I say it all the time, ‘fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does’. So, why choose a “low-fat” or fat free version of something when the manufacturer has simply removed fat and added sugar?! The best example of this is yogurt. Check out some of the low-fat yogurts. They are full of added sugar – some as much as 30grams! That is more than most candy bars.

Now, I am human and like to enjoy life – enjoying good food is part of that. Instead of downing an extremely high sugar food, look for foods that have natural sugar plus, protein and fat. The protein and fat in the following foods will slow the absorption of the sugar, reducing the chance of an energy spike and a crash later. Plus, you will lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and manage a healthy body weight as well.

Protein Powder Cake

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use SFH whey)
  • 1T cashew nut butter (I love Trader Joe’s Cashew Butter)
  • 2 rice cakes (I love Lindburgh Farms organic!)

Mix thoroughly – it can get a little sticky but, keep working it.

Spread this mixture over the rice cakes and enjoy!

Sinful Spoonful

  • 1T Cashew or almond butter (1 big spoonful!)
  • 2 Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips (80% cacao)

Scoop a spoonful of the nut butter and top with your chocolate chips. This lower sugar version of a peanut butter cup is a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Plus, you get the added benefit of antioxidants and healthy fats!

Dark Chocolate in Disguise

Blend the ingredients above (coconut oil and EITHER of the chocolate options, not both). I blend mine in a Nutri bullet blender

Spread over a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper

Freeze for about 10-20 minutes. Remove from the freezer and break into bite-sized pieces.

You can enjoy a sweet treat without causing a huge insulin spike or damage your hard work in the gym. Just include protein and fat and you are good shape – enjoy! If you want more information on how to care for your body with food and/or exercise, Contact Us!

Hormone Balance and Their Role in Weight Loss

Balanced hormones are a thing of beauty – you know, when everything is humming along perfectly – no acne, no mood swings, no brain fog. Sounds like something you’d like to have a little more of…hormone balance, especially if it means getting to or staying at a healthy weight. Read on to find out how you can actually lose weight, balance hormones, and stave off excess fat for good.

INSULIN: One of the most important changes you can make to your diet in order to balance hormones is to eliminate or strictly decrease your consumption of sugar. From a standpoint of balancing your body’s insulin response, this means all sugar – especially added sugar from processed foods. Excess insulin essentially tells the pancreas to dump more insulin, recruit the liver to also push sugar into the bloodstream. The excess sugar is then stored as fat in the liver and eventually fat in the body.

CORTISOL: Decreasing cortisol through decreasing stress plus, improving sleep quality, timing, and consistency. Cortisol has been one of the favorite hormones to talk about for some time, and rightly so. Excess cortisol sends a message to the body to store fat. So, making a commitment to reduce stress and improve sleep should be a simple decision. So, why are so many people still not doing it? It’s simple – our lives are on “high-octane go-mode” all the time! My secret weapon to this is meditation. Even with less sleep and a busy lifestyle, meditation is shown to decrease cortisol and reduce stress – in as little as 5 minutes per day!

GROWTH HORMONE: Increasing growth hormone is like the little “wonder hormone” that keeps you young, lean, and energetic. But we decrease growth hormone as we age…UNLESS, we introduce strength training. Ideally, high volume, moderate to high intensity (75% of 1RM) done with minimal rest periods in between sets has been shown to have the best response as far as increased growth hormone. What’s more, growth hormone is most often secreted at night when the body is resting and muscles are growing and repairing. So, back to point #2, get your sleep!

Remember that hormones work together like little messengers, delivering changes and adaptations in the body. When you affect one, you often affect others. So, finding a balance in training, eating, sleeping, resting, recovery-type exercise modalities like yoga, pilates, and tai chi or qi gong are all extremely valuable in balancing hormones as we age.

For a start to balanced hormones with exercise, consider incorporating total body strength sessions 3x/week, High intensity interval training 1-2x/week and a long slow distance cardio session 1-2x/week. Balanced training, eating, and sleeping = balanced, happy hormones.

Hidden Sugar and the Effect on Your Body

Have you ever dissolved 10 teaspoons of sugar into an 8-ounce glass of water? Can you imagine how sweet it would taste? Sadly, that is how much sugar is in an 8-ounce can of soda. This high amount of sugar reeks havoc on everything from body weight, to skin health, to behavior. What you’ll read should make you think twice before reaching for that soda, yogurt, and many processed foods that you thought were “healthy”. In fact, no one is doing the demonstration of actual sugar in the common products we consume than “Sugar Stacks”. Check them out here. (link to sugar stacks blog:

http://www.sugarstacks.com/blog/

Now that you understand how many common products contain a lot of added sugar, I want you to understand a quick and dirty version of what happens when processed or “quick sugars” enter the body. For this example think both “table sugar” and fructose – as in High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), This example is specific to that which is found in processed added sugars. This includes, sweetened yogurts (most), cereals (most if not all), fruit juices, athletic drinks, soda, hidden added sugars in salad dressing, pasta sauces, bbq sauce and…basically everything that comes in a package or jar that you do not make yourself has the potential to include added sugars in the form of sucrose, fructose, glucose…that is, SUGAR!

So, here is quick and dirty version of how the body responds to sugar: 1.) Sugar enters the bloodstream and blood sugar levels start to rise. 2.) Your pancreas need to release insulin in response to the increase in blood sugar. 3.) The insulin uses up the glucose very quickly which causes the blood sugar to decrease quickly (crash). 4.) Your body experiences “low blood sugar” or hypoglycemic symptoms such as; foggy thinking, light-headedness, low energy, and weakness. 5.) To create a balanced state in the body, more hormones are pushed out which press sugar from your liver, increasing blood sugar back up again. Sound like a vicious cycle? Stands to reason why 85 million American adults have diabetes. That is 1 in every 3 people! (cdc link to the numbers here:

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html

In addition to exercise, consuming foods high in healthy fats and proteins to slow the rate of absorption and need for an insulin dump in the body, you can also start looking (I mean really scrubbing and being brutally honest with yourself), at the labels on the foods you buy for yourself and your family. Watch for the following ingredients (some are not so obviously sugar):

  • Agave nectar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Organic evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup

Carry this list and cross-reference foods if you have to. You would be surprised how easily you can live without the added sugars. Homemade pasta sauce with tomatoes, oil, fresh herbs and garlic is amazing. Not to mention salad dressing with fresh lemon, rosemary, sea salt and oil…simple and satisfying. You make the educated choice to minimize or eliminate added sugar.

9 No-Bulk Benefits of Weight Lifting

Does lifting weights or “strength training” conjure up images of well-oiled men, on a stage competing in a bodybuilding competition? They definitely have a focus on building muscle but, unless you are eating, supplementing, and training in a particular way, you are unlikely to gain the muscle mass of a bodybuilder.

Instead, you will gain a stronger and leaner body. Plus, some other benefits that may surprise you:

  1. Lifting weights lifts your confidence – I see it every single day. A woman comes into a group fitness or training class feeling completely intimidated and out of place as she stares down the row of barbells and plates stacked around her. It may not be instant but, set a barbell on a gals shoulders and watch her learn to squat with proper form and realize she can do it and she can live to tell about it, is an awesome thing to see!
  2. Improved Mood – It might have something to do with the confidence boost in having accomplished a new skill or lifting a weight that you didn’t think you could but when we move, our bodies get a little endorphin pump. This stimulates the feel good parts in our brain and elevates mood.
  3. Muscle boosts metabolism – Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) determines your caloric needs at rest. If you continue to eat less and exercise more (especially all cardio, all the time), your body will burn both fat and muscle as fuel. Over time, less muscle means that your body requires less to sustain it. Simply put, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body requires.
  4. Weight management – Because we tend to eat the same things and quite often in the same amount each day (creatures of habit), it’s difficult to decrease calories and sustain it over time. When introducing strength training, we make it easier to manage a healthy weight. Rather than relying on willpower, build a little muscle and give your mind and your body a little boost as well.
  5. Better Posture – building strength in the muscles of your back, shoulders, core and glutes ultimately leads to improvement in how you carry yourself. It also improves how efficient you are at holding yourself confidently upright throughout the day.
  6. Improved coordination – strength training introduces movement patterns with additional load, making those movements much more efficient and coordinated when done without load. Case in point: doing a weight squat in the gym with proper mechanics, translates to improved movement getting in and out of your car, your desk, the dinner table, overall moving through life!
  7. Strength for tasks of daily living – hauling up and down the stairs, picking up children, putting them down again…the list goes on. If you do these tasks with load, you are making them much easier when their is less of a load.
  8. Joint health and integrity – strong muscles means strong tendons that connect muscle to bone. In turn our joints are stable because they have a sound structure around it pulling on the reins and keeping the joint “decompressed” or lifted and aligned throughout movement.
  9. Improved body shape – running and other forms of cardiovascular activity are great. But, cardio burns fat and muscle which can make you thinner but, it doesn’t necessary change your shape. Strength training increase muscle density and improves overall shape.
  10. Improved hormone balance – strength training boosts the release of testosterone, growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor and minimizes the release of cortisol.

To get you started, I have created a bodyweight strength workout for beginners. Click here for this FREE workout!

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