All posts by Melissa McAllister

Why Is a Low Carb Diet Healthy?

Why Is a Low Carb Diet Healthy?

Why is a low carb diet healthy?

And why is a lower carb lifestyle more important today than it was even a decade ago? Back then, most people were still experimenting with all sorts of low and zero carb diet plans, which helped in some way to raise awareness of this type of eating, but they didn’t really hit the mark in terms of understanding why lowering your carb intake is so important for your health, and waist line.

I’m going to get a little bit scientific-y on you but I think it will make total sense.

It all comes back to blood sugar…

The liver uses glycogen to regulate normal blood sugar, which fuels the brain at rest. The body has the ability to store about 80 to 110g of carbohydrates as liver glycogen.

Fat primarily fuels the muscles at rest and during low intensity activity.

Muscle glycogen is really only used to fuel the muscles during intense exercise.

Fair question for you…when you exercise, is it REALLY intense?

The body can store between 300-600g of carbohydrate as muscle glycogen across the entire body, depending on your size.

So a sedentary person, or someone just doing low intensity activity like yoga or walking, is not exercising intensely. They are not really burning through muscle glycogen stores, so they do not need to worry about replenishing them with a high carbohydrate diet. (Don’t misunderstand me though, walking and yoga are wonderful additions to your exercise regime!)

Sedentary people really only need to worry about providing adequate carbohydrates to fuel the brain at rest. This can totally be accomplished with just around 100-125g a day, which is really more than you might imagine, if it’s from the right sources that will keep you full – like vegetables, nuts and seeds.

So what happens when you overdo carbohydrates?

Once your liver glycogen and muscle glycogen is full, all the excess carbs will be stored as fat. Most Americans live with chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin, which tells the body there is no need to burn fat as a fuel source. The body will never be forced to tap into its own body fat stores. Not to mention, any dietary fat that you eat will also not get used as fuel. It will simply be stored as fat as well.

I believe exercise is vital to your happiness and important for your health. But living the lower carbohydrate lifestyle may be the single most important thing that you do to be your healthiest!

Learn more from my M.A.D.E Diet ebook here.

nutritional ketosis through diet

Can I Reach Nutritional Ketosis Through Diet Alone?

Can I Reach Nutritional Ketosis Through Diet Alone?

In short, yes, I absolutely think so! And I’m living proof of it. But I know you like to know the reasons behind my reasons…

Minimal carbs

Give your body the choice and it will first go for glucose and sugar to fuel itself, then fatty acids (ketone bodies) second. If you keep fuelling your body with carbs (in the form of pastry, bread, pasta, grains etc.) then your body will rarely get to burn fat… and you will remain overweight.

But, when you reduce the amount of carbs you give your body to a minimal level, your body has no choice but to look for alternative fat sources – and those include the fatty acids that have built up in your cells.

Once you start burning these off, you really become a fat burning machine!

Why you’re not losing weight

Having spikes of insulin in your bloodstream and lots of fat in your diet is one sure fire way to never lose the weight you’re after.

What we really want is for our bodies to start burning fat for fuel instead of sugar. The production of endogenous ketones is what makes this a reality. Many people now measure their blood ketones through urine, breath and/or blood.

Nutritional ketosis is a range of .5 to 3.0 mmol/L.

Most people who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) will measure in at a .2 or .3. Getting to .5 and up only requires fewer carbohydrates (and those chosen to be from quality sources), a moderate amount of protein and a good amount of healthy fats. That’s when the body will start to burn fat for fuel.

Personally, I usually measure at .8 mmol/L and have a body fat percentage of 17%.

But how should I measure my carb intake?

This is a tough one to answer for everyone. We all work so differently and one defined amount of carbs is not going to have the same effect on each of us.

It also looks different for someone wanting to lose and maintain weight for their overall health, versus someone seriously ill with Type 2 diabetes and trying to drastically reverse the negative health effects.

For example, most of the scientific research done on ketosis levels focussed on improvements for epilepsy and cancer sufferers. Their carb intake was restricted to fewer than 15g per day.

Which foods will help me?

Sources of healthy fats that I regularly include in my diet are:

  • Avocados
  • Olive oil
  • Grass fed butter
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Grass fed and finished steak
  • Wild caught salmon
  • Shrimps
  • Broccoli
  • Organic/cage free eggs
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce)
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • High fat cheese (parmesan, but only occasionally)

Which foods do I avoid?

  • Fruit (except blueberries occasionally)
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Sodas (even diet soda!)
  • Energy drinks
  • Grains (pasta, rice etc)
  • All processed foods (candy, ready meals, take outs etc)
  • All ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’ foods
  • Most dairy (especially cows milk and yogurt)

Where do I get my carbohydrates from?

  • Sweet potatoes (occasionally)
  • Vegetables (above the ground and leafy veggies)
  • Nuts – almonds, walnuts etc. 

Do I need to take ketone supplements?

Exogenous ketone bodies (those from external sources) are just ketone bodies that are ingested through a nutritional supplement. Ketone bodies produced in the liver are more properly referred to as endogenous (internal source) ketone bodies.

However, I know that most people who are considering supplementing their diets with exogenous ketones want to do so for weight loss. This is where research is lacking.

So let’s just say that you were eating a diet with lots of healthy fats and are producing your own endogenous ketones…would supplementing with exogenous ketones also help me burn fat even faster? No!

Let me explain why…

Your body has a natural response to significantly elevated blood ketones. It will actually increase insulin secretion (the current thinking behind this is to restrict ketone production to prevent ketoacidosis). Remember, insulin is our fat storing hormone. Ketones may actually decrease fat oxidation if consumed in high enough amounts, just like other macronutrients. This is why in The MADE Diet, I have most people between 40 and 60% fat.

And from what I hear, there are some companies that will tell you that you can, “Eat carbs and stay keto-adapted.” Just. Not. True.

Personally, I firmly believe that for the vast majority of us, we don’t need to take in extra ketone bodies….if we manage our food intake properly. Of course, there will always be people out there looking to make a quick $ from those wanting to lose weight, but in reality, the external ketone bodies you buy are really only a short term solution. Switching your diet and your lifestyle is a much longer-term approach – and easier on the pocket.

Enough talking… are you ready to really make the difference your body is crying out for?

Join my 12 week beta group where you will:

  • Be challenged to change everything you thought you knew about food and diets
  • Start a new, life-long way of eating
  • Push your body completely out of its comfort zone

Join the 12 week beta group now!

[Limited spaces and time to join]
new superfoods on the block

Have You Tried The New Superfoods On The Block?

Have You Tried The New Superfoods On The Block?

Chances are you’ve heard of moringa, hemp, algae, reishi mushrooms, turmeric, or maca root recently; it seems you can’t turn around or check Facebook without seeing someone mention one of these as the latest magical health and food supplement.

But what do they all have in common?

Well apart from being anything but ‘new’ (they’ve all in fact been around for many hundreds of years), they’ve recently joined the ranks of cinnamon, chia seeds and wheatgrass as the latest ‘superfoods.’

What Is A Superfood?

One of the hardest food groups to join, superfoods are usually plant-based (although not exclusively), nutritionally dense foods that offer amazing health benefits. They often contain high doses of vitamins and minerals, which can help our bodies in so many ways, including weight loss, but more importantly they can boost our health and fitness status.

Some of the most common superfoods you probably consume regularly include blueberries, spinach, salmon, nuts and seeds. Our ancestors never referred to such foods as ‘superfoods’ though – to them it was just normal nutrition and they ate what they could based on their location and access to foods.

These days, however, we are bombarded with the latest superfood powder, supplement or capsule and our supermarkets and health food stores are filled to the brim with the latest must-have addition to our diet.

It can be overwhelming. But the important thing to remember is that these types of foods are good for you, when consumed in the right quality and quantity. But you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on them.

Superhealthy Superfoods

As always, I’m most interested in helping people learn how their food intake can positively impact their health. And this is where superfoods really earn their high-ranking status. In some cases, there are numerous proven studies that show huge improvements and reversals of certain medical conditions. And if that can be achieved with little or no medication, then I’m all ears!

Food can prevent and heal better than ANY pharmaceutical! Reverse the trend – get over nourished, and not just overfed…

  1. Moringa

new superfoods on the block

What is it? A small tree native to India, but grows elsewhere too. A rare plant-based food that contains all 9 amino acids, which are normally only found together in animal products.

Why is it super?

High in nutrients:

  • B-vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • High in antioxidants and reduces inflammation
  • Helps lower blood cholesterol levels
  • Helps skin cells to repair damage for better looking skin
  • Boost immunity
  • Help muscle growth
  • Aids digestion

How to consume?

Traditionally the leaves are picked and used in teas, but more commercially available as powders, capsules and dried tea.

Add 1-2 teaspoons to smoothies – it’s recommended to start with half – 1 teaspoon until you get used to the taste.

  1. Hemp Seeds

new superfoods on the block

What are they?

Hemp seeds are a super versatile superfood that our Asian ancestors have been reaping the benefits of for thousands of years. With a taste like sunflower seeds, they have a rich, nutty flavour.

Why are they super?

They contain over 30% fat so they pack a punch in a small handful. They are also exceptionally rich in essential fatty acids and proteins. Because they contain so little carbohydrate and so much fat, they provide 50-70% more protein than chia or flax seeds.

Hemp seeds contain:

  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Calcium

How to consume?

Hemp seeds can be eaten raw – like other seeds, or added to smoothies, protein bars, energy balls and dressings. They can also easily be scooped onto salads for a crunchy addition.

  1. Algae

new superfoods on the block

What is it?

Despite their name, blue green algae are not algae, but in fact a form of ‘good’ bacteria that is an unusual green color. They grow in both salt and fresh water, and blue green algae, including spirulina, contain valuable nutrients.

Why are they super?

What makes algae particularly super is that they not only contain a high concentration of nutrients – over 65 vitamins, minerals and enzymes as well as the complete spectrum of eight essential amino acids and ten nonessential amino acids – but they are also much more easily absorbed than any other supplements (97% vs 5-25%).

Algae also contain:

  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C, D, A and E
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc
  • Chlorophyll

What are the health benefits?

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Can protect against heart disease
  • Boost immune system and remove toxins from the body
  • Natural anti viral properties
  • Relieve fatigue
  • Balance blood sugar (check out some reports of the effects vs actual diabetes drugs)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase fat burning during exercise

How to consume?

The strong taste of algae powder (it does taste like you’d expect!) can often mean it puts people off, but you can easily absorb it through capsules or mixing it into your smoothie where the other ingredients will mask the taste. 

  1. Reishi mushrooms

new superfoods on the block

What are they?

Not just your average fungi, reishi mushrooms are an edible form of medicinal mushroom. One of the oldest ‘superfoods’ the Chinese have been relying on these for their healing properties for years. No wonder they are also known as the ‘king of mushrooms’!

Why are they super?

  • High anti-inflammatory properties
  • Boost immune system
  • Help mental clarity
  • Aid the repair of damaged blood vessels
  • Rebalances hormones
  • High antioxidant abilities
  • Linked to aiding the body’s ability to fighting cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, allergies and infections

How to consume?

Whilst you might be able to find these mushrooms fresh or in dried form in your local Asian supermarket or Chinese medicine shop, you’re much more likely to find them in supplement, tincture or powder form.

  1. Turmeric

new superfoods on the block

What is it?

Used medicinally and in cooking in India for hundreds of years, the turmeric root has a distinct bright yellow-orange color and a smell that can hit the back of the throat when used in cooking.

Why is it super?

Aside from its stunning color and smell, turmeric is an amazing addition to a healthy diet. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and many studies have pointed to its health advantages, including the ability to potentially reverse many health conditions, with no side effects.

The fact that it’s relatively cheap and easy to access makes it even more super!

What are the health benefits?

The primary compound of turmeric – curcumin – contains many anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-arthritic, anti-amyloid, anti-ischemic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric has been linked to reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing/clearing the plaques that are part of the development of the disease.

The curcumin in turmeric has also been linked to reducing the inflammation of the joints. Several studies have also shown that turmeric has had greater positive effects than anti-inflammatory drugs.

It also contains zero cholesterol.

Other benefits:

  • Rich in antioxidants
  • High in dietary fiber
  • Vitamin B6
  • Choline
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron (helps to produce red blood cells)
  • Potassium (helps to control the heart rate and blood pressure)
  • Manganese (antioxidant support)
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium

How to consume?

Powdered turmeric is easy to find in most supermarkets and health food stores (but be careful to buy a good, organic brand). It can be added to scrambled eggs, sautéed veggies, stir fries and meat.

Fresh turmeric root is becoming more readily available and can be grated into food in the same way (just wear gloves as the orange color lasts a while!!)

  1. Maca root

new superfoods on the block

What is it?

Grown high in the mountains of South America, predominantly Peru, the maca root usually comes in powder form and is one of the world’s most natural superfoods. A pleasant tasting and nutrient dense superfood, the maca root has long been used as a dietary as well as medicinal support for a variety of ailments. 

Why is it super?

The maca root has so many health benefits, including:

  • Fertility boost
  • Hormone balancer
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Improved sexual performance
  • Better memory and focus
  • Elevates feel good hormones

It also includes:

  • Over 20 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids
  • 20 free-form fatty acids (such as lauric, linolenic, palmitic acid, oleic , and steric acid)
  • Vitamins B-1, B-2, C and E
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Sulphur
  • Sodium
  • Iron

How to consume?

1 teaspoon daily can be sprinkled into smoothies.

So there you have it – more awesome reasons to enjoy plant-based and natural additions to your healthy lifestyle. Of course, please always consult your medical professional, before changing any of your current health and medical practises, particularly if you are on medication, pregnant or breastfeeding.

Have We Been Sold The Olive Oil Dream?

Have We Been Sold The Olive Oil Dream?

Commercial olive oil, the kind you find lining your local supermarket shelves, is probably not what you think it is. It’s not as pure as it should be and is probably mixed with other cheaper oils, like sunflower seed oil, as well as colorants and preservatives.

The olive oil industry, like so many other foods, is largely unregulated, and can therefore lead to corrupt or unethical practices, which leads to confusion for us, the consumer. If we want to enjoy this healthy kind of fat, we are often misled with factually incorrect labels and marketing hype.

With the US being the 3rd largest global market for olive oil sales ($2b worth in 2015!!), it’s no wonder so many food companies want to jump on board this big business!

Have We Been Sold The Olive Oil Dream?

When you think of olive oil, you probably picture the lush green fields and azure blue waters of Spain, Greece or Italy – somewhere in the Mediterranean where everyone has beautiful skin and hair, and enjoys a healthy diet and an enviable lifestyle.

Thanks to clever marketing, this is the ‘olive oil dream’ we are sold.

And don’t get me wrong, I love using olive oil on my veggies (in tiny amounts) but I want to know where mine has come from. And I’m certainly not going to just take the word of a multi million-dollar food company without doing my own research.

Think about it – if all the olive oil that is marketed as ‘Italian’ was actually grown and bottled there, how much do you think it would actually cost? And do they even have enough space to grow that many olives??!

You might be surprised to learn that Italy actually imports most of its olive oil so you can’t always trust a food label. But you knew that anyway right?!

How Can You Ensure You Get The Best Olive Oil?

  • Read the label. The expiry date should be somewhere around 2 years from the harvest date. And yes, there should be a harvest date for good quality olive oil!
  • Try to buy from this year’s harvest to ensure freshness. Many supermarkets stock olive oil that is misleading because the oil has been stored long before it has been bottled so the two-year gap between harvest and best before date is incorrect.
  • Find authentic olive oil sold in drums and taste it first.
  • Smaller, independent producers are better than big chain names (no surprise there!)
  • Beware of cheap olive oil – a little oil goes a long way so buy the best you can afford and use it sparingly.
  • The taste of real olive oil should give a strong peppery hit and might taste different to most of the commercial oil you’ve had so far.
  • Olives have stones in them (like plums), so real ‘extra virgin olive oil’ is the oil squeezed from olives; it is seasonal and will go off – bear that in mind for long lasting oils as they probably have lots of preservatives in them.
  • As extra virgin olive oil is perishable, it will deteriorate within a few months of milling. This is made worse by bottling (and then opening up the bottle to consume). Another reason to buy as close to the mill as possible, or at least know where the mill is. They are obviously most common in Mediterranean countries but are now becoming much more common in California, Texas and Georgia. Go and visit a local producer to try before you buy.
  • If you buy bottled oil, go for a darker colored glass or container that keeps as much of the light out as possible. Buy smaller containers so you will use it up quicker and it will remain fresher.
  • Keep the container in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and hot areas of the kitchen – I know it’s tempting to keep olive oil next to the stove but it’s not helping the quality at all.
  • Avoid ‘pure’, ‘light’ or ‘pomace’ olive oil labels and always stick with extra virgin olive oil. This ensures it has gone through as little refinement as possible.

Lots more delis and smaller supermarkets are stocking independent olive oils these days so it’s worth checking them out. It can also be fun going to local farmers markets and producers to check out their fresh produce – I guarantee it will always taste nicer and be so much better for you!

Sources

Extra Virginity

Bloomberg

are we really what we eat?

Are We Really What We Eat?

Are we really what we eat?

There is a lot of focus on eating well and working out to lose weight, remain slim, be healthier etc.

But there’s a whole lot more to the picture than being able to fit into your skinny jeans, or run a half marathon. While those are amazing achievements, especially if you’ve struggled with your weight or health, I’m so pleased to say that there are so many more ways that your life will be improved when you make the switch to a healthier way of living.

You’ll be happier!

The things you fuel your body with seriously affect your mood, your mental health and your emotional well-being. This means that eating more of certain foods, and eliminating others will change your brain chemistry so much that you might never have mood swings again, you may have more patience with your spouse and kids, enjoy better focus and concentration at work, or just generally be a much more glass half full kind of person.

Reduce/eliminate: Refined carbohydrates, processed sugar (and any of the many forms it can take), fast food, sodas, fruit juices, syrups, baked items, white bread, pasta and rice.

Eat more: Meat (grass fed and finished, organic), fish, eggs, seafood, vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, green beans, Brussels sprouts.

Healthier skin, hair and nails

We really are what we eat, and it’s no coincidence that a weekend binge on junk food and candy results in breakouts all over your face. I know you don’t want me to connect these two, but there’s no hiding it I’m afraid. I guarantee that once you start eating clean and you see how much your skin glows, your hair shines and your nails don’t break, it will become a bigger addiction than reaching for that cheeseburger or donut.

Hair and nails are made out of the same thing in our bodies – a mix of proteins called keratin, collagen and elastin, which the body needs to keep them healthy and strong. These proteins are in foods such pork, red meat, seafood, broccoli and red peppers.

Reduce/eliminate: Sugar, starchy bread, pasta and cakes.

Eat more: Healthy protein such as lean meat and fish, eggs, vegetables (especially red peppers).

More/better sex!

Now I can’t guarantee you will have more or better sex – that’s between you and your partner! But I can say that the changes in your sex drive are so strongly linked to your food intake, that I’m sure you (and them) will notice a difference!

High antioxidant levels in your blood stream has been linked to higher sperm counts in males and increased libidos for both males and females. So try to boost your daily antioxidant intake with some minor dietary changes.

Reduce/eliminate: Fried food (deep fried chicken, French fries), greasy and processed meats, processed foods, soda and anything containing sugar.

Eat more: Berries (especially strawberries), avocados, almonds, sweet potatoes (air frying is best), sesame seeds and watermelon.

See any similarities here? It’s not rocket science and you don’t need to have a degree in nutrition to see that anything processed, fried or covered in sugar is never going to be good for you. Loading up on healthy meats, fish, vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries is the way to go for a healthier, sexier, happier life.

Intermittent Fasting For Fitness (and Health)

Intermittent Fasting For Fitness (and Health)

Intermittent Fasting For Fitness (and Health)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Eat every few hours to keep your metabolism going

Have a healthy snack between meals to lose weight

I bet you’ve all heard these before, right? But is there any truth or helpful advice in there?

NO!

You can exercise all day long and have the best fitness regime going, but if you’re eating too much of the wrong type of food then nothing will change. And you might even end up fatter.

Unfair? I know! Your diet plays such a critical role in your overall health and fitness, and it’s been my passion for so many years now to help and bring the truth to as many people as possible so they can make more informed choices.

How did intermittent fasting help me? Fasting to fitness…

Eating within an 8-hour window (called intermittent fasting) during the day dramatically helped me shift weight when I started my weight loss journey way back when. But did I go back to eating my previous foods and enjoy snacks all day long? No way! And that’s the real key here.

I don’t encourage any kind of fad diets or quick fixes – because honestly, they only work in the short term (if at all). I’m much more interested in encouraging a healthy way of living – forever – and making sure you have the unbiased facts and knowledge you need to make the right choices for you and your body.

But please don’t let anyone make you think that fasting = starving yourself.

The facts about intermittent fasting and weight loss

While you might instantly think of periods of not eating when you hear the word ‘fasting’, in this sense it just means eating only within a certain timeframe and eating the right kinds of foods to offer your body the best fuel.

The main benefit of intermittent fasting for weight loss is that your body becomes a fat burning machine, meaning that most people do see a steady shift in their weight loss. I say steady because this is a lifestyle choice. The weight probably took years to add on, so it won’t (and shouldn’t) fall off you overnight. You’re essentially retraining your body’s cells to burn fat more effectively.

When you fast intermittently, the following changes take place in your body:

  • Insulin levels drop, which means your body goes to fat sources for fuel and burns them quicker than before
  • Your metabolic rate increases dramatically, meaning that more fat is burnt
  • Your hunger levels drop because of the lower calorie intake (you’re not munching all day) as well as the more efficient use of the food you are eating

I know from my own experience that intermittent fasting also helps with so many other things like improved sleep, better condition of hair and skin and much more energy.

How do I get started?

Start slow and pick a window of time, say 7am – 6pm for your eating window – then gradually reduce that time when you’re comfortable, after a few days or a week.

My eating window is now 11am – 7pm and within that period I eat 2-3 substantial, healthy meals that keep me full and bursting with energy.

Then, you need to really look at what you’re providing your body with in that eating period – it’s not an excuse to load up on junk food!! Higher fat and lower carbohydrate meals will give your body the energy it needs for fuel and keep the hunger pangs away. Read more about this type of eating and some of my meal ideas.

In my free ebook, The 8 Hour Abs Diet, I go into much more detail about how intermittent fasting can work for you to have a healthier lifestyle, lose weight and be happy.

And as always, any change in diet should be discussed with your physician, especially if you’re on medication, are pregnant or suffering any kind of medical condition.

focusing only on upper or lower abs?

Focusing Only On Upper Or Lower Abs? You’re Doing It All Wrong!

Have you been focusing only on upper or lower abs? You’re doing it all wrong!

It’s pretty controversial in the fitness world; especially amongst some celebrity trainers who promise the holy grail of ‘toned lower abs’ to get that six-pack look.

But I’m sorry to say that I need to bust a few myths that are perpetuated by certain individuals and companies selling the latest equipment or exercise regime that guarantees improved lower or upper abs in a crazy short space of time…

Your upper and lower abs are the same thing!!

It is one whole wall of muscle and, just like other muscles in your body, you can’t technically work one section of them without working the whole muscle. Think about it, have you ever heard of working the upper vs lower triceps??

That’s not to say that different parts of the same muscle can’t show different results based on the workout you’re doing, but the actual muscle will all be worked at the same time.

Muscles work on an all or nothing principle; they contract when a signal is sent from our nervous system, and then relax. This contracting and relaxing is what happens when you work on any muscle – whether it’s a crunch, a plank or a squat.

Also, our bodies don’t like waste – so why would you want to focus on just one area of your physique when you can work multiple??

The confusion with upper and lower abs probably stems from the way the muscle – rectus abdominis – looks. This long, flat muscle goes all the way down the abdomen, divided vertically by connective tissue (linea alba) and horizontally into smaller sections (tendinous intersections).

These ‘sections’ of the muscle can often be seen on the outside of the body and are usually visible as a six-pack, but it’s not uncommon to see four, eight and even ten-packs. While I understand where the misinformation might come from for those not involved in the medical or fitness field, anyone who is helping someone attain a better body shape or fitness level should know their facts.

The rectus abdominus muscle works as one, even if you think you’re working on just the upper or lower abs!

The way your abs look on the outside also depends on so many variables too – your body shape, your fitness goals, injury history, fitness abilities, nutrition and of course your motivation and mind-set.

So, before you rush out and buy the next gadget promising the best upper or lower abs (or any other part of your body for that matter) – just take a moment to think about whether it makes sense and if the person or company trying to make money off you really knows what they’re talking about!

Can Wine Be Part Of My Healthy Lifestyle?

Can Wine Be Part Of My Healthy Lifestyle?

Can wine be part of my healthy lifestyle? Yes… with some side notes

In my 20s, I was more of a mixed drink kind of girl. There were a few sweet white wines that I would drink but red wine was out of the question. It was just so sharp and I didn’t have the pallet for it.

Then, in my early 30s, I read somewhere red wine was better for us than other types of alcohol – and I fell for it. Now, there might be a little evidence out there that it is better for you than, let’s say, beer…but alcohol is definitely something we should have in moderation, no matter what it is.

Now, in my 40s, I have acquired quite the taste for red wine. I love to have a glass when I go out to dinner with friends and family. Since that is a super rare occasion, I also have a glass here and there at home. I think it’s written somewhere that it’s a cardinal sin to make a ribeye without accompanying it with a nice glass of red wine!

And you know me; I’ve done my research. I have favorite wines out there but it’s really based only on taste. I decided to dive in a little bit and find wine that had a really high standard for quality as well.

I have learned that there are over 76 additives approved by the FDA for US winemaking, including ammonium salt and copper sulfate.

US wine companies also use genetically modified (GMO) yeasts.

Plus, over 20 million pounds of pesticides are used on commercial vineyards in California every year. Monsanto’s synthetic herbicide “Round Up” is so commonly used in the US that even organic wines frequently test positive.

I wanted a wine to be sugar-free, low sulfite, truly organic and lower in alcohol.

I FOUND IT!

There’s a company out there called, Dry Farm Wines, that actually over delivers on what I was looking for. They are also endorsed by some people I really look up to: Mark Sisson, Dave Aspry, JJ Virgin, Abel James and Robb Wolf!

Click to try this awesome brand, and they’ll give you a great deal on your first order – Dry Farm Wines.

Now let me leave you with a few tips on making sure your occasional glass of wine is the best it can be:

  • Reds: serve at 55 to 60°. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or ice for 15 minutes before opening.
  • Whites/Roses: serve at 40 to 50°. Refrigerate for 2+ hours and remove 15 minutes prior to serving or ice for 30 minutes.
  • Consider a smaller pour. Not just because no one needs that much wine but also because smaller pours leave more headspace in the glass to properly enjoy the aromatics.
  • Swirl your glass. Swirling aerates the wine and releases the aromas. Have fun trying to name the different smells!

And most importantly, always make a toast before that first sip!

What You Don’t Want To Know (But Definitely Should) About Diabetes

What You Don’t Want To Know (But Definitely Should) About Diabetes

The science bit 

I feel it’s really important to understand what goes on in our own bodies, especially when it comes to what we eat and how that affects us. So here is a rundown of what diabetes is, so you don’t have any excuse now!

The cells in our bodies need fuel for energy. When we provide our body with fuel (food and drink), it is broken down into glucose, which is a simple sugar. The glucose is then transported around the body via our bloodstream and delivered to where the energy is needed – i.e. to breathe, move, walk etc.

A hormone called insulin regulates this fine balance of fuel processing and distribution that goes on in our bodies. The pancreas consistently releases small amounts of insulin; when more is needed the pancreas receives a signal so that the glucose can be delivered where it is needed. When this happens, your glucose levels drop (because it is being used by your cells).

When the body’s glucose level goes too low, the body can suffer from low blood sugar levels (you might have heard the medical term hypoglycemia). Signals are sent to the liver to release more glucose, which in turn means your brain receives a signal that it needs more fuel (i.e. food), and you start to feel hungry.

Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to manage this process effectively. Either the body cannot make (enough) insulin, or the body plays a cruel trick and is resistant to it (which means that it can’t control the glucose in your body and you end up with high blood sugar levels).

Type 1 diabetes is when the body destroys the insulin-producing cells – usually people have to inject themselves regularly with insulin to manage this.

Type 2 diabetes is when the body can produce insulin, but in insufficient amounts, or the body is resistant to what is produced. 

What you don’t want to know (but definitely should) about diabetes:

The bad news…

  • Diabetes is a lifelong disease – there is currently no complete cure
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the USA
  • There are currently about 30 million people in the USA who have type 2 diabetes (that’s approximately 9% of the total population)
  • Over 84 million American adults have pre-diabetes (where someone’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet at a diabetes level – they are at an increased risk of later developing diabetes)
  • Diabetes sufferers are at an increased risk of other health issues, including premature death, vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and the amputation of limbs.

The good news…

  • The right diet and exercise can play a big role in the management of diabetes*
  • Pre-diabetes can be reversed or slowed down with the right diet and exercise*
  • Weight loss can lead to significantly improved outcomes for many diabetes sufferers*
  • Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with steps you can take, including the right diet

 

What you can do

This doesn’t just apply to those who are at risk of diabetes, or who currently suffer from it. The eating and exercise suggestions in The M.A.D.E Diet are for everyone wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle – and for those who want the chance to live a longer life.

You can download my ebook for full information, but in a nutshell:

  • Stop drinking soda – completely and forever
  • Cut out packaged or processed foods (includes pastries, bakery goods, processed meats, ready meals, candy…..)
  • Stop choosing low fat margarine, vegetable spreads, milk and yogurt (read my post about why healthy fat is good)
  • Reduce / eliminate grains (yes I know this one is controversial for many so you’ll have to learn more in my ebook, or my blog post here)
  • Switch to a diet focussed on healthy meats, fish and veggies
  • Give your body a fasting break each day (Intermittent Fasting)
  • Combine with daily cardio and weight exercises

Sorry to be (almost) all doom and gloom but this is a serious issue… an epidemic even, for our public health, and we need to take action ourselves if we hope to stop this for future generations.

* I will never give you medical or dietary advice – these points are for generic information only and you must always consult your physician for professional medical advice.

Sources:

Harvard School of Public Health Study

Diabetes.org

Centers for Disease Control

 

 

 

8 Practical Ways To Eat Healthier Fats

8 Practical Ways To Eat Healthier Fats

More and more people are coming around to my way of thinking with the whole healthy fat is good for you mantra (yay!) But I get asked a lot about how to incorporate more of the good stuff into your day.

At first it sounds great to be able to eat bacon, steaks and eggs everyday – but even those can get boring after a while. And variety is the only way to ensure you stick to the higher fat, low carb way of eating for the long term.

After all, it’s a lifestyle choice, not a fad diet.

High fat foods can easily be added to almost all dishes, main meals and snacks. You just have to get creative and look for some inspiration. Lucky for you, I’ve added 8 practical ways to eat healthier fats below to get you started, but I encourage you to experiment and find your own preferences:

  1. Stop eating ‘low fat’ foods – these might be labeled ‘reduced fat’, ‘light’, ‘lite’ or ‘low calorie.’ They also include artificial creamers for tea and coffee. I know it still says there’s fat in there, but hardly any, and the rest of the junk added to such foods is not worth it.

If you’re eating dairy, go for full fat plain yogurt (not vanilla or any other flavors because it’s full of artificial sugars) and almond milk gives you a nice extra protein hit.

  1. Always have eggs and avocados in your kitchen – they are full of healthy fats and make so many versatile meal and snack options. I posted on Facebook recently a quick lunch I made simply out of slices of ham, some mashed hard boiled egg and avocado slices on top – it was really delicious! Add some nuts sprinkled over the top and some extra virgin olive oil and yummmm!
  2. Cook vegetables in fat – butter, coconut oil or sesame oil – sauté them for a few minutes so they retain their crunch. Steaming is great but can leave vegetables a little tasteless and adding healthy fats gives them more value.
  3. Get to know your oils! Experiment with various fats and switch them up according to your preferences. For example you could try:
  • Butter over asparagus
  • Stir-fry veg with coconut oil
  • Macadamia nut oil over salads
  • Avocado oil over fish
  • Olive oil on tomatoes and mozzarella

Look past the typical oils and fats the next time you visit the grocery store. And don’t let the high price tag put you off – a little oil goes a long way.

Another great way to try different oils is by visiting a local farmers / organic market – they often let you try before you buy, or sell a mixture of oils in sample sizes. Chances are, they’re locally made too, which always tastes better!

  1. Get cheesy! Again, always go for the full fat versions. Cheese is so versatile – it can form the main part of your meal or be a nice addition to meats, bunless burgers or salads:
  • Grated parmesan
  • Chunks of hard cheese
  • Shavings of blue cheese (with steak, yum!)
  • Crumbled feta salad
  • Sliced edam
  • Gouda cubes
  • Baked brie/camembert
  • Grilled halloumi (if you haven’t tried halloumi on a BBQ yet, you haven’t lived!!)
  1. Mighty meat. Who doesn’t love crispy bacon over a salad? Or a juicy steak? Despite what we’ve been led to believe, healthy (i.e. grass fed and finished, organic), and less processed meat is good for you, in moderation of course.

But let me be clear, I’m not saying turkey ham, corn dogs, or any other processed and ‘fake’ meat is allowed. There is nothing good in those foods (I use that term loosely!)

Whether it’s the superstar of your plate, or a side accompaniment, healthy meats can give you a great source of protein. But think beyond the usual:

  • Grilled sausage pieces
  • Sliced pancetta
  • Bacon bits
  • Steak strips
  1. Incorporate nuts and seeds wherever you can. They might be small but nuts and seeds really pack a fatty punch! If you don’t like to munch on them as a snack, don’t write them off completely. Get creative and you might start enjoying these little gems more than you imagined:
  • Toasted almonds are delicious added to broccoli and spinach (sautéed in butter of course)
  • Crushed hazelnuts are such a dessert fruit – add them to some healthy berries
  • Toss some walnuts in a bowl with some paprika and chilli powder and roast them for an amazingly addictive on the go power snack
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and sunflower seeds add a lovely crunch to salads
  • Pine nuts are bursting with flavour and are delicious when toasted and added to salmon dishes
  • Sesame seeds add a lovely Asian flavour to veg stir fries (minus the noodles of course!)
  1. Bulletproof coffee. I’ve blogged about this before and how it came about and it’s honestly such a great way to start your day with a caffeine boost (to motivate you for your workout!) and to get the body going with healthy fats.

The additional benefit with all of these tasty ideas is that these kinds of foods help to keep you fuller for longer, so enjoy your healthy fats and know that you’re doing your body good by fuelling it with the right things.

How do you incorporate healthy fats into your diet?

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