Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Day in the Life {Almost 3}

I have partnered with the National Honey Board to bring you this blog post and the delicious recipes included. All opinions are my own.

Good morning! I’m so excited to share this day-in-the-life post because it incorporates three tasty recipes that are all made with honey! I usually think of honey as a sweet treat, more for desserts and baking, but lately, it’s become one of my favorite all-day ingredients to use! Today, I’m walking you through my day and showing you some of the ways that I incorporate it into my meals all day long!

I hear Qman on the baby monitor. (My “baby” is actually going to be three tomorrow. Where does the time go?!) He’s up early this morning, so I wait a few minutes before getting out of bed—hoping he will, too. He falls back to sleep for a little while, but, of course, I’m wide-awake now. I take a second to stretch in bed and then immediately put on my workout clothes. I find if I put them on as soon as I get up, I’m 10 zillion times more likely to workout. Honestly, I rarely ever skip a workout if I’m wearing workout clothes. For me, sometimes getting dressed is the hardest part!

After I get dressed, I head downstairs for breakfast. Mal is already awake and just sitting down to eat his breakfast. My Honey, Stay-in-Bread Pudding is waiting in the fridge for me, so I grab a spoon and join him.

Overnight Honey Bread Pudding (853x1280)

Made with whole grain bread, vanilla Greek yogurt, low-fat milk, honey, vanilla protein powder, and cinnamon, this breakfast is just as satisfying as it is delicious. I use Sundays to meal prep lots of veggies and meats, but also breakfast. It’s so easy to mix up a few batches and store in the refrigerator. Just grab and go for a fuss-free morning!

Honey, Stay-in-Bread Pudding

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 large slice whole grain bread

1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 cup low-fat milk

1/2 T honey + 1/2 T for drizzling on top

2 T unsweetened vanilla protein powder

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Cut bread into 16 small squares and then add to a Mason jar or container with a lid. In a small food processor or blender, combine Greek yogurt, milk, honey, protein powder, and cinnamon. Pour over bread, allowing it to fully soak in. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, drizzle remaining honey on top, grab a spoon, and dig in!

After breakfast, I hear Quinn moving around upstairs. (His alarm clock must have told him it was okay to wake up!) I help him downstairs and then we spend a little time cuddling on the couch before I get him ready for daycare. FYI: Collapsible measuring cups are ALL the rage lately.

After that, I drop Quinn at daycare and swing by the gym for a quick, high-intensity treadmill workout. This one involves sprints on the treadmill mixed with a variety of full-body dumbbell exercises. It’s for sure a challenging workout, and I’m a sweaty mess by the end!

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Back at home, I shower and get myself ready for the day. I refill my water bottle and then sit down to work. I spend the rest of the morning catching up with emails and other random projects.

Around noon, my stomach starts to grumble. It’s definitely time for lunch! I made a batch of Chipotle Honey Chicken in the crockpot the day before (gotta love meal prep!), so I only need to reheat it and add fresh lettuce cups for an easy (and incredibly delicious) lunch!

This recipe for the Snack or Pack ‘Em Honey Lettuce Cups has recently become a favorite in our house. The sweet and savory flavor combination of honey, marinara sauce, and chili powder is pure perfection—and when wrapped in lettuce and paired with fresh cilantro and avocado, it can’t be beat. These lettuce wraps are perfect for summer! And, bonus, the chicken is so simple to make. It’s cooked in a crockpot and the marinade only requires three ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen. It’s so easy to whip up a batch at the beginning of the week to use in lettuce wraps easily packed in Tupperware for quick meals on the go.

Chipotle Chicken Honey Lettuce Wraps_ (1280x853)

Snack or Pack ‘Em Honey Lettuce Cups

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup marinara sauce

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp. chili powder

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 heads of Bibb or Boston lettuce (8-10 leaves)

1 T chopped fresh cilantro

1 small ripe avocado, pitted and cut into small chunks

Directions:

Combine marinara sauce, honey, and chili powder in a small bowl. Place chicken breasts in a crock-pot and then pour sauce all over. Cook on low for 4 hours. Once chicken is fully cooked, remove from the crock-pot / slow cooker and place on a plate, shred with a fork and place back inside the crock-pot with the sauce. Divide chicken into four portions and then divide between two lettuce leaves. Top with cilantro and avocado.

After lunch, I take Murphy for a walk around the neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day, and we’re both excited to get outside for a bit. That pug face…

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When I return home, I finish up a few more projects and loose ends before running a couple of quick errands and picking up Quinn from daycare.

On the way out of daycare, Quinn grabs some crackers for the road. His daycare has small packages of them by the door, just in case kids need a snack before dinner. He loves these crackers and looks forward to them all day long! As great as they are, the backseat of my car is a complete mess because of them! In fact, on the drive home, Quinn says: “Mumma, watch!” before he shoves a cracker into his mouth all Cookie Monster style! Haha! Cracker basically explodes all over the backseat!

At home, Qman helps me open a couple of packages that arrived in the mail. As soon as I bring them into the house, he runs to get his scissors. He such a great little helper!

After that, it’s time to “cuddle on the couch with the soft blanket” while we wait for Dada to get home.

Quinn and Mumma cuddle time!

When Mal gets home, it’s almost time for dinner – tonight, it’s Bee Bowl’d Pad Thai. I love that this dish is made with cauliflower rice (instead of rice noodles) because it’s more nutritious and lower in calories when compared to traditional Pad Thai. The ingredients are simple in this recipe, so it takes just a few minutes to prepare the rice mixture. I made the sauce ahead of time, so all I need to do is add it!

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Bee Bowl’d Pad Thai

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

Sauce:

1/4 cup creamy unsalted sunflower butter

2 T freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 T soy sauce

1/2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 T honey

1/4 tsp. powdered ginger

Rice:

1/2 T vegetable oil

1/2 head cauliflower, broken into florets

2 eggs

Topping:

2 T finely chopped salted peanuts

2 green onions, chopped

1 T chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

In a small food processor or blender, whisk together ingredients for sauce and set aside. Add oil to a large pan on the stove top. Sauté cauliflower rice until semi-soft, al dente in texture. Then, add eggs and scramble until fully cooked. Once it’s finished cooking, remove cauliflower mixture from stove and add to a large mixing bowl. While hot, stir in sauce and peanuts; fully combine. Divide between two plates and top with green onion and cilantro and serve hot.

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Dinner is a huge hit, and I’m so glad I doubled the recipe because now Mal and I have leftovers for lunch!

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After dinner, we relax on the couch with Qman. We watch a show and then get him ready for bed. We all read a few books together before it’s lights out.

Mal and I decide that we’re pretty tired ourselves, so we read in bed for a little while before turning in for the night.

The end.

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Cold + Fuzzy’s

‘Twas sort of a cold day here in Cville – I am currently wearing a fleece!

So guess where we went? Nobody guessed right – it was Costco! Mr. Mazen loves the samples and the huge carts : )

We worked on our manners as he politely asked for a sample and said thank you upon receiving one. (He is very good with manners, but we are always practicing!) Surprisingly he said “No thank you” to the grapefruit…

…but loved this chicken dumpling!

I picked up just a few essentials ; ) You know I put toilet paper and kettle chips both in the essential category! I only go to Costco maybe every other month, so when I go, I usually fill my trunk. I spy Quaker oats!!

Back at home I wanted to curl up in a dog bed and take a nap, but we had things to do and games to play!

And eventually, tacos to eat. We were invited by the new Fuzzy’s Taco Shop to come in on the house to enjoy a meal, so Thomas joined us after work and we headed to Fifth Street Station (one of Cville’s newest shopping centers) for dinner. Fuzzy’s is a franchise, and we met franchisee Pranav at the door, who was nice as can be.

The menu is full of Tex-Mex favorites like chips and dips, nachos, tacos, burrito bowls, and platters. There is also a full bar!

The decor is brightly colored, and I loved all of the rich wood. We ordered at the counter, and when your buzzer goes off you pick your meal up at this window:

So what did we get? Chips and jalapeno-cilantro queso and guacamole to start. I loved the seasoning on the chips, and the queso was great!

I had two tacos, one was tempura fish and the other grilled shrimp. The tempura fish was my favorite thing I ate – I just loved the crunchy outside and buttery fish inside. My dinner came with sides, so I chose refried beans and cilantro rice.

Thomas ordered three tacos – chicken, beef, and fish. The beef was his favorite, but he reports that they were all delicious. Mazey had a cheese quesadilla, which he gave a thumbs up. I also loved that they had sour cream – mi favorita!

Thanks to the Fuzzy’s Taco team for hosting us! It was such a great little casual dinner spot.

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Baby Got (Hurt) Back

^^ Thomas’s drone is somewhere up in that tree. No sign of it! Poor little drone.

I spent the morning on work stuff – a call about the Virginia 2019 Commemoration, which I am excited to be a part of, working on some Designed To Fit Nutrition plans for my current clients, doing some YNABing, and working on this post for tomorrow –>

I went to the gym for class at 10:30 wearing my new favorite shorts from Athleta! I have these in black too, and they fit so well!

During strength class I tweaked the left side of my back, which I hurt on Saturday trying to help Thomas lift our new door, so I had to leave class and added 20 minutes of very straight stair stepping to my workout before heading home.

For lunch I made an awesome salad!

I massaged this prepared kale salad with some sesame oil, rice vinegar and a splash of soy sauce, an old dressing trick I learned from Matt.

I topped that with half an avocado, peppers, almonds, goat cheese and beets from T’s parents’ garden. YUM!

I am heading to pick Mazen up now, and we have plans to do a little shopping together. We’re going to his favorite store. Any ideas which one it is?! Hint: It’s not Toys R Us.

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The Definitive Guide to Keto

ketogenic diet, 3D rendering, text on metalI use my Los Angeles surroundings as a barometer for changes in the mainstream approach to health, and it holds up quite well. Silicon Valley can claim to be the cradle of technology, but L.A. is definitely the cradle of diet and fitness trends; and the latest is most definitely keto. At the local cafe where every species of Malibu fitness enthusiast gathers to gossip and fuel up, I’m seeing fewer gels and energy bars, and way more butter coffees and discarded packets of the new powdered ketone supplement products.

Sure enough, keto is entering into mainstream health consciousness everywhere. Google searches for “ketogenic diet” are at an all-time high. The stream of keto-related email queries and comments I receive has seen a major uptick. And early this year, a major publisher approached me with a keto book proposal, which I accepted. I dove headlong into a total Small_Keto Reset Diet by Mark Sissonimmersion/participatory journalism experience where I walked my talk, and pricked my finger for blood tests enough times to get a little scar tissue going, for the past several months. The book is called The Keto Reset Diet and it’s coming out October 3rd. This is a comprehensive presentation to educate you on the science and benefits of ketone burning and to give you step-by-step guidance to go keto the right away, avoiding the common setbacks that happen when many adopt an ill-advised approach to something as delicate and rigorous as nutritional ketosis. You can pre-order a copy from major retailers right now. We are also filming a comprehensive online multimedia educational course to give you a guided immersion experience that will be available in 2018.

Meanwhile, it’s definitely time to do a Definitive Guide….

To understand ketogenic diets, you must understand the conditions that promote ketosis. And to do that, you must understand how our bodies beta-oxidize fatty acids for energy.

  1. Fatty acids are broken down into acetyl-CoA.
  2. Acetyl-CoA combines with oxaloacetate.
  3. The acetyl-CoA/oxaloacetate duo starts the Krebs cycle.
  4. The Krebs cycle produces ATP, the body’s energy currency.
  5. Congratulations. You’ve just turned fat into energy.

Where does ketosis come in?

If the supply of acetyl-CoA exceeds the supply of oxaloacetate, the liver converts any excess acetyl-CoA into ketone bodies. These ketone bodies are an “alternative” energy source for the brain and body. 

Both carbohydrates and protein provide oxaloacetate to the liver, so both carbohydrates and protein can prevent ketone production or knock you out of ketosis. Carbohydrates also elevate insulin, which blocks the release of body fat and reduces the amount of fatty acids making their way to the liver for conversion into ketones. A ketogenic diet, then, is one that limits carbohydrate and, to a lesser extent, protein.

Ketosis occurs in certain instances without any dietary change at all:

  • Extreme physical exertion that depletes liver glycogen (total around 100 grams) and depletes around half of stored muscle glycogen (total around 400-500 grams)
  • Fasting for significant time period (at least 24 hours for most people)
  • Starvation or significant restriction in total calories for a signification time period

In all of these conditions, there’s a common ketogenic thread: liberation of body fat in excess of that which we can beta-oxidize. Any fat that isn’t beta-oxidized for energy will convert to ketones.

In one sense, ketosis is a stop-gap solution for situations where you’re burning huge amounts of body fat, like during a famine. Why would I want to mimic abject starvation if there’s all this food around?

Grocery stores are an evolutionary aberration. The constant drip of glucose into our blood is a modern luxury. For most of human history, if we wanted carbs, we had to climb a tree and extricate a bee’s nest, spend hours digging tubers, or wait around for the wild fruit to ripen. We are adapted to periods of low food availability, and, especially, low glucose availability.

Plus, humans are remarkably good at slipping into ketosis. Whereas for most other animals ketosis is difficult to achieve, a human will be mildly ketotic just waking up from a full night’s sleep. Heck, breastfed babies spend much of their time in ketosis despite drinking nutritionally balanced breastmilk. We’re clearly meant to produce and utilize ketones from time to time, and it’s safe to assume that mimicking this ancestral milieu provides adaptive benefits.

Let’s go over some of the major ones.

Adaptive Benefits of Ketosis

Treatment for Major Disease States

The ketogenic diet first emerged as a tool for clinicians to treat their patients with epilepsy. It was—and remains—the only thing with the consistent ability to prevent seizures. Whether it’s Thai kids with intractable epilepsyScandinavian kids with therapy-resistant epilepsy, or adults with refractory epilepsy, ketogenic diets just work.

Ketosis improves epilepsy via several mechanisms.

It increases conversion of glutamate into glutamine into GABA, reducing neuronal excitability.

It increases antioxidant status in the neuronal mitochondria, improving their function.

It reduces free radical formation in neurons, a likely cause of seizures.

These effects on neuronal function and health, along with the ability of aging or degenerating brains to accept and utilize ketone bodies, also have implications for other brain conditions, like Parkinson’sAlzheimer’sbipolar disorder, and many psychiatric disorders.

Ketogenic diets aren’t just beneficial for brain disorders, though.

A Spanish ketogenic diet (keto with wine, basically) cured people of the metabolic syndrome and improved health markers of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Over 92% of subjects improved their liver health; 21% resolved it entirely.

In cancer patients, a keto diet preserves lean mass and causes fat loss. Many researchers are exploring the use of ketogenic diets in preventing and treating cancer, although results are very preliminary.

Cognitive Function

Since ketosis can help with major brain disorders, many have wondered whether it can improve cognitive function in otherwise healthy people. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t studied the nootropic effects of ketogenic diets in healthy people—yet. They have looked at people with “milder” cognitive deficits, though, finding some promising effects.

In mild cognitive decline, a ketogenic diet improves memory.

In type 1 diabetics who experience reduced cognitive function when their blood sugar is low, increasing ketone production via medium chain triglycerides (found in coconut oilrestores it.

In adults with bad memory, adding ketones improves cognition. The higher the serum ketones, the better the scores.

In older adults, a very low-carb diet improves memory. Again, higher ketones predicts bigger improvements.

Anecdotes abound of people with intact cognitive function going on ketogenic diets and experiencing huge benefits to their mental performance. I’ve been experimenting with more protracted ketosis for some time now, and I can add my hat to the pile. What could be going on?

It may clear up brain fog, that enemy of clear thinking, by clearing ammonia from the brain and upregulating conversion of glutamate into GABA.

It definitely increases brain energy production by increasing mitochondrial biogenesis in the brain. More mitochondria, more energy production.

It tends to produce a sense of euphoria. If you can parlay that into productivity instead of getting caught up in the sensation, your mental output will increase. A cup of strong coffee helps here.

Physical Performance

Being keto-adapted has several advantages for anyone interested in physical performance.

It increases energy efficiency. At any given intensity, a keto-adapted athlete burns more fat and less glycogen than a sugar-burning athlete. Long-term elite keto athletes can burn up to 2.3 times more fat at peak oxidation and 59% more fat overall than non-keto athletes, and they do it at higher intensities. They remain in the predominantly fat-burning zone at 70% of VO2max, whereas non-keto athletes switch over from predominantly fat burning to a spike in sugar-burning at 54.9% VO2max.

It spares glycogen. Glycogen is high-octane fuel for intense efforts. We store it in the muscles and liver, but only about 2400 calories-worth—enough for a couple hours of intense activity at most. Once it’s gone, we have to carb up to replenish it. Keto-adaptation allows us to do more work using fat and ketones for fuel, thereby saving glycogen for when we really need it. Since even the leanest among us carry tens of thousands of calories of body fat, our energy stores become virtually limitless on a ketogenic diet.

It builds mitochondria. Mitochondria are the power plants of our cells, transforming incoming nutrients into ATP. The more mitochondria we have, the more energy we can utilize and extract from the food we eat—and the more performance we can wring out of our bodies. Ketosis places new demands on our mitochondria, who adapt to the new energy environment by increasing in number.

Fat Loss

Although keto is not a classical weight loss diet, it can certainly help a person lose body fat. After all, to generate ketones without eating ketogenic precursors, you have to liberate stored body fat.

But that’s not the main mechanism for ketogenic fat loss. Ketosis isn’t “magic”—it doesn’t melt body fat away. Instead, it works for many of the same reasons a standard low-carb Primal way of eating works: by reducing insulin, increasing mobilization of stored body fat, and decreasing appetite.

Ketosis suppressing appetite may be the most important feature. The overriding drive to eat more food is the biggest impediment to weight loss, and it’s the reason why most diets fail. When people attempt to eat less food despite wanting more, they butt up against their own physiology. Few win that battle.

Ketogenic dieting avoids this issue altogether, suppressing the increase in hunger hormones that normally occurs after weight loss.

Ketogenic diets are especially effective for massive weight loss. If you have a ton of weight to lose, aiming for ketosis could help you lose body fat. Again, not because of any inherent fat-burning quality of the ketones, but because in order to make ketones you must liberate stored body fat.

Many diets work in the short-term and fail in the long run. Weight loss isn’t worth anything if you can’t keep it off. Ketogenic diets appear to be good for long-term maintenance of weight loss, at least compared to low-fat diets.

How to Do It Right

I’ll have more details in The Keto Reset Diet book, but there are right ways and wrong ways to do keto. What’s wrong or right is contextual, of course. It depends on several factors.

If you’re part of a small group that uses keto to keep seizures at bay, or treat serious neurological diseases, you’ll want to diligently maintain high blood ketone levels. That means sticking to very-low-carb (5-10% of calories) and low/moderate protein (10-15% of calories). But even then, modified ketogenic diets with slightly higher carbs and relaxed protein intakes are also effective against epilepsy.

If you’re doing keto for general health or weight loss, you can handle more protein and still remain in ketosis. Protein will help stave off the muscle loss, and, because calories are reduced, you can handle a bit more protein without interfering with ketosis. An older ketogenic diet study in obese subjects shows that 50% protein diets are highly ketogenic as long as calories are kept low. And in another study, subjects eating a weight-maintaining ketogenic diet ate up to 129 grams of protein without leaving ketosis (129 grams is fairly high).

If you’re trying to lose weight, artificially boosting ketones won’t accelerate the process. Higher ketones do not enhance fat loss, but they may indicate it’s taking place.

How to Make Keto Work

Ketogenic dieting is a big jump for some people. You’re literally switching over to a new metabolic substrate. That can take some getting used to. Make sure you are well-prepared with a Primal-aligned eating pattern in place for ideally several months before you ponder a journey into nutritional ketosis.

Make a minimum commitment to six weeks of nutritional ketosis. The first three weeks will be the most difficult as you transition to new fuel sources, but then you can expect breakthroughs. Some serious athletes may experience a temporary performance dip in the early weeks, but then will come back strong after 4 weeks and beyond. Once you get to the six-week mark, the metabolic machinery is in place, and it’s hard to reverse the adaptation. Extra mitochondria don’t just disappear.

Get plenty of electrolytes. You’ll want lots of sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Try 4.5 grams sodium (about 2 teaspoons of fine salt or a little under 3 teaspoons of kosher salt), 300-400 mg magnesium, and 1-2 grams of potassium each day on top of your normal food. Going keto really flushes out water weight, and tons of electrolytes leave with it.

Eat fat, but don’t be crazy about it. Just because a ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet doesn’t mean you should eat ungodly amounts of fat. Being ketogenic is more about not eating carbohydrates than it is eating as much fat as you possibly can.

Eating extra fat in the first 4-7 days can accelerate keto-adaptation by increasing AMPK signaling. Dial it down after.

Lift heavy things. A common criticism of ketogenic diets is that they cause loss of lean mass. This isn’t totally unfounded. If your ketogenic diet reduces appetite so much that you undereat, you might lose muscle. If you’re on a super-low-protein ketogenic diet, you might lose muscle. Lifting weights prevents these issues by sending an anabolic signal to your muscles and allowing the consumption of more protein without hampering ketosis. 

Do lots of low level aerobic activity. Walk, hike, jog, cycle, row. Keep things in the aerobic HR zone (under 180 minus age in heart beats per minute), and you’ll increase your utilization of body fat, which will speed up ketone production and adaptation.

Eat vegetables. The vast majority of vegetables are keto-friendly. Not only do they provide important micronutrients and phytonutrients, they provide negligible amounts of carbohydrates.

Eat berries. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries are all quite low in glycemic load and extremely high in phytonutrients. While eating a flat of strawberries isn’t very ketogenic, a large bowlful won’t knock you out.

Eat fiber. Many people on ketogenic diets tend to ignore or malign fiber. That’s a mistake. First, fiber doesn’t digest into glucose. It doesn’t “count.” Second, fiber feeds your gut biome, providing fermentable substrate for your gut bacteria to turn into beneficial short chain fatty acids and to provide support to your immune system.

How to Know if You’re Ketogenic

You can test your blood, urine, or breath ketones. There are drawbacks to each, and unless you have a medical condition necessitating a specific level of ketones, obsessive testing may be unnecessary/unwise/expensive. Forget the inexpensive urine strips, as they measure only what you excrete, not what you are making and burning.

Once you’re keto-adapted and naturally good at burning fat, the ketone measuring devices might not put up impressive numbers. That’s because, after weeks in ketosis, you have built enough metabolic machinery in your muscles that they run extremely well on free fatty acids and don’t require much additional fuel from glucose or ketones. You’re still making ketones, since your brain can’t run on fatty acids and needs them to offset the glucose that isn’t coming, but your muscles no longer require them. Many people who have been in long term ketosis can get by quite nicely on 20-30 net grams of carbs a day and might only show .4 or .7 millimolar ketones on a blood test, but they have plenty of energy from burning free fatty acids and maintain muscle mass on relatively fewer calories than when they were dependent on carbs. Few people understand this, but it’s a major benefit of keto-adaptation. You might even say that ketogenic diets are ultimately about becoming free fatty acid-adapted.

Instead of objective numbers, I prefer to go by symptoms and signs. Since you’re trying to divine what works best for you, relying on the subjective signs and symptoms you experience is perfectly legitimate. These include:

Reduced urge to snack: Being ketone-adapted means you’re less reliant on outside calories.

Steady energy: When I’m feeling full of relaxed energy, calm but not sleepy, I know I’m in ketosis.

You may have heard talk about the dreaded ketone breath, caused by the presence of the metabolite acetone (the breakdown product of the ketone bodies acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate). A sweet and fruity odor to your exhalations is a reliable indicator that you are in a state of ketosis, but it’s also a likely indicator that you are not yet super efficient at burning ketones. Don’t worry, that will come in short order.

So, are carbs out forever? What if you want to incorporate carbs for high intensity performance while maintaining the benefits of ketosis?

First of all, it may not make much of a difference if you’re just strength training. A series of recent studies looked at the effects of introducing carbs into a ketogenic diet in resistance trained adults, finding little to no benefit.

Carbs likely will help certain populations, namely CrossFitters, sprinters, and anyone else engaged in intense glycolytic work. But even then, being keto-adapted reduces the amount of glycogen you’ll use for a given intensity —so err on the side of fewer carbs and eat only as many as you actually earn.

There are two basic ways to construct a ketogenic diet that includes carbs: with one big weekly carb load (the classic CKD) or multiple smaller carb loads adjacent to training sessions (often called the targeted ketogenic diet, or TKD).

On a CKD, you spend the majority of the week and your workouts in ketosis and devote a day or a pair of days to eat lots of carbs. You might be ketogenic Monday through Friday, exercising all the while and capping the work week off with a really intense glycogen-depleting training session, then go high-carb, low-fat Saturday through Sunday to refill your depleted and newly-insulin sensitive muscle glycogen stores.

On a TKD, you spend the majority of your time in ketosis but selectively eat carbohydrate before, during, and/or after your workouts. Most people seem to benefit most from pre- and peri-workout carbs. These aren’t large carb loads — 15-30 grams of relatively fast-absorbing, simple carbs. If you don’t want to opt for dextrose or other powders, a baked potato works well.

Whatever option you choose, you’ll need to deplete glycogen if you want to include carbs in a ketogenic diet. As long as you have a glycogen debt, any carbs you eat will go toward restoring those glycogen stores and won’t interfere with ketone production.

Final Thoughts…

Also: Ketosis doesn’t have to be for life.

Going ketogenic can be refreshing. You’re not hungry like before. You’re euphoric. You have steady, even energy levels. Your brain works better. You’re leaner. You start thinking: Why not do this all the time?

A recent study of long-term (5 years) ketogenic dieting in patients with glucose transporter 1 deficiency syndrome found no apparent downsides. Bone mineral density, which can be a problem for growing kids on long term ketogenic dies for epilepsy, was unaffected.

Yet, I’ll admit to being a bit leery of long-term, protracted ketosis in people who aren’t treating a medical condition. It just doesn’t seem necessary. After all, while humans are unique in our ability to slip into ketosis and there are clear evolutionary precedents for being in ketosis, Grok wasn’t starving all the time. He wasn’t living through famine after famine.

Not everyone needs to be on a ketogenic diet. Even fewer need to be on a ketogenic diet for life. But I do think that everyone should try it for a few or (even better) six weeks, build and install some new mitochondria, remain long enough to get really good at burning free fatty acids in your muscles, and then return to a ketogenic state on a regular basis to keep your capacities topped up.

That’s it for me today. Have you recently tried keto, or are you hoping to? Maybe you’ve done it for a while. I’d love to hear your tips and questions. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week, everyone.

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These Zero Calorie Drinks Promote Weight Gain Not Loss

I’m so happy to see that sales of Diet Coke and Pepsi keep plummeting… more people are wising up to the fact that these drinks are ridiculously horrible for the body and looking for healthier options. In their place, new zero-calorie drinks and flavored waters are flooding the market, and are now taking up some serious shelf space in major grocery stores. Some of these fruity waters and fizzy “sugar free” drinks are being promoted as health drinks – but are they really?

Unfortunately, many of them are filled with controversial additives that can be sabotaging your weight and your health – even if they have no calories, look like bottled water, or have really short ingredient lists! Let’s take a closer look at what’s in some of the most popular brands like Sparkling Ice and Cascade Ice. They sell these by the case at Costco, but are they truly any better than soda?

These drinks have “zero calories” because they are sweetened with Sucralose (an additive linked to cancer). The artificial colors in these drinks (Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 1) are derived from petroleum and linked to several health issues, including allergies, cancer, and hyperactivity in children. Europe requires any food containing dyes to carry the warning label, “May Have an Adverse Effect on Activity and Attention in Children”, but that’s not required here in the States. If that’s not bad enough, they’re also preserved with Potassium Benzoate, which can form the carcinogen Benzene when combined with vitamin C (which is present in some flavors). This is a toxic combo in a plastic bottle!

Don’t be fooled by “zero calorie” drinks and flavored waters with ingredients like these…

Perhaps they purposefully make the ingredients so hard to read on a bottle of Propel because they are so horrible!

Propel Flavored Water Black Cherry: Water, Citric Acid, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Natural Flavor, Salt, Potassium Sorbate, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Vitamin E Acetate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6).

Artificial (low-calorie) sweeteners won’t help you lose weight…

Propel, Nestle Splash, Dasani Flavored Water, Diet Snapple, and PowerAde Zero contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose, acesulfame potassium or aspartame. Although these have no calories, artificial sweeteners have been shown to contribute to weight gain by encouraging sugar cravings. Research finds they stimulate your appetite, increase sugar cravings, and promote fat storage and weight gain. Researchers from the University of Texas discovered that drinks made with artificial sweeteners will expand your waist girth, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. When you drink something sweet – even when it has no calories – your brain is tricked into wanting more calories because your body is not getting enough energy (i.e. calories) to be satisfied. So you keep craving sweets, eating sweets, and gaining weight. This is why a lot of people never reach their full health potential or weight loss goals, because they are constantly being pushed around by these chemical artificial sweeteners that trick the brain and body.

They’re also loaded with health-wrecking preservatives…

Sodium Polyphosphate and Sodium Hexametaphosphate: These preservatives are full of phosphorous, which can create a mineral imbalance in the body. When you eat (or drink) phosphate additives like these often (which is really easy to do in our processed food world) it can put you at risk for kidney damage, increased mortality, heart disease, and accelerated aging.  

Calcium Disodium EDTA: This preservative is made from of formaldehyde, sodium cyanide, and ethylene diamine… yikes! Is this something you really want to drink every day? It has the ability to build up in the body, becoming more toxic if you drink it for several days in a row, which could possibly lead to health problems. It’s also known to lower your body’s ability to absorb vitamins (making all those B vitamins added to Propel pretty worthless).

Potassium Sorbate: This preservative has been shown to be genotoxic to white blood cells, which could lead to cancer. It has also been shown to induce DNA damage when combined with vitamin C (this combo is in Propel).

Citric Acid: Although this is naturally found in lemon and other fruits, the additive used in these drinks is typically derived from mold made with GMO corn (not from fruit). Frequent consumption is linked to an increase in tooth decay and also can irritate the gut.

Is Erythritol a safe sweetener?

Bai, Core, Hubert’s Diet Lemonade, Blossom Water, and Vitamin Water Zero are sweetened with the sugar alcohol erythritol. This sweetener can wreck havoc on healthy gut bacteria, which can lead to a whole host of diseases and if you’re trying to lose weight or stay slim, keeping your gut healthy is vital!

Erythritol is also known to cause diarrhea, stomach upset, headache when consumed in “normal amounts”, is a powerful insecticide, and can also increase appetite just like artificial sweeteners do so you’ll end up eating more food. Research by Cornell University shows that the body metabolizes erythritol and associates high levels of erythritol in the blood to weight gain, which has spawned more studies.

Although this is a naturally occurring sugar that is sometimes found in fruit, food manufacturers don’t actually use the natural stuff. Instead they usually start with GMO corn (unless organic or non-GMO verified) and then put it through a complex fermentation process to come up with chemically pure erythritol.

Some brands have versions that contain only two ingredients: water and natural flavors. 

These drinks are better than a Diet Coke – but are they really as clean as they seem? I try to avoid natural flavors, especially if it’s in something that I’d consume often and in large amounts – like a drink.

Why you should avoid drinking “Natural Flavors”…

{Picture of natural flavors on display at the IFT Expo}

  • Each natural flavor may contain up to 100 ingredients, including synthetic chemicals such as the solvent propylene glycol, the preservative BHA, and GMO-derived ingredients (unless organic or Non-GMO Project verified).
  • The ingredients in natural flavors are considered proprietary and not disclosed either on the label or to a customer who inquires – so you have no clue what is in them.
  • Natural flavors can be derived from anything in nature, including animal parts. The only difference between natural and artificial flavors, is that natural flavors are derived from things found in nature (such as beaver glands).
  • They can also legally contain naturally occurring “glutamate” by-products that act like MSG, which is an excitotoxin. Excitotoxins make food irresistible to eat but can cause stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, obesity, migraines, fatigue, and depression.
  • Flavors are designed to have addictive qualities and increase food cravings, contributing to what David Kessler (former head of the FDA) calls a “food carnival” in your mouth. They trick your mind into wanting more and more. The Big Food Companies are hijacking your taste buds one by one, and lining their corporate pockets at the same time as we buy more products with these addicting synthesized flavors in them. If you are having increased food cravings while guzzling down drinks full of natural flavors, you may want to take a closer look at what you are drinking.

The Hint Flavored Water lawsuit is exposing natural flavors for what they really are…

Although the ingredient label on Hint Flavored Water just states purified water and natural flavors, Hint has been sued because their drinks contain propylene glycol – a synthetic ingredient. Propylene glycol is one of the hidden ingredients that was (and may still be) used in their natural flavors and doesn’t need to be listed on the label. This goes back to my point that whenever you are drinking something with natural flavors, it is not necessarily natural and you don’t know what’s really in the bottle.

{Excerpt from complaint filed in the court case: Lisa Kim Madrigal, et al v. Hint Inc.}

{Excerpt of test results showing propylene glycol in Hint flavored water}

LaCroix states their flavors contain no artificial ingredients, but they also are not under any obligation to disclose exactly what’s in them, so we just have to take their word for it.

“There is no legal requirement to disclose what’s in the natural flavor. So customers have no choice but to believe companies when they say they don’t use artificial additives in their flavors.” ~ The Mysterious Allure of LaCroix’s ‘Natural Flavor’ – WIRED, December 15, 2016

I don’t consider it safe to drink out of cans often because of the BPA that is usually present in them. This is what LaCroix says about the presence of BPA in their cans, which I don’t find reassuring, especially since I know how inefficient the FDA is at setting “guidelines” for the chemicals in our food

“All LaCroix products meet the guidelines set by the FDA and are completely safe to drink. Recently, media reports have raised questions about the use of bisphenol A (BPA) by can and bottle manufacturers. While can linings may contain trace amounts of BPA to prevent spoilage and protect food and beverages from direct contact with the can, these trace amounts are virtually eliminated during the curing process.” ~ Source: http://ift.tt/1Gm4O9c

I personally prefer the taste of a real squeeze of lemon or fruit juice in my water over anything that is found in these drinks – they just taste artificial to me and I like to know exactly what I’m drinking.

I feel like if something tastes like lemon, then it should actually contain lemon! And it honestly just takes two seconds to  squeeze some fresh lemon juice (or grapefruit or whatever fruit you’d like) into sparkling water and know exactly what you’re drinking. That’s not to mention all the nutrients that you are getting from the lemon juice as well…because natural flavors may have zero calories, but they also have zero nutrition and provide zero health benefits.

What you are drinking is as important as what you are eating every day.

My main go-to drink is plain filtered water. I filter my own water at home and always carry a stainless steel or glass container of filtered water around with me – to the gym, in the car, to meetings, and even to some restaurants! Drinking toxin-free water makes a major difference in the way I feel and I consider it a vital part of my everyday life. But, it can be boring to just drink water all the time! These are some other healthy drinks I personally enjoy:

  • Organic Raw Kombucha – My favorite local organic brand is Lenny Boy. 
  • Sparkling or Soda Water + Lime Juice + Organic Cranberry Juice (with no added sugar)
  • Filtered Water + Fresh Cucumbers + Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
  • Sparkling or Soda Water + Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice + Grated Ginger. Consider adding melon, cucumbers, or berries for different flavors!
  • 100% Raw Coconut Water
  • Organic Unsweetened Green and Herbal Tea (iced or hot). Peppermint and ginger teas are great for satisfying cravings for something sweet!
  • Fresh Pressed Green Juice

Here is a delicious recipe for flavored water from the Food Babe Drinking For Health Guide that you can mix up and keep in the fridge… 

Food Babe's Nutrient-Rich Flavored Water

 

Author: Food Babe

Serves: 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 8 cups filtered water
  • 8 slices lemon
  • 8 slices lime
  • 8 slices orange
  • 16 slices cucumber

Instructions

  1. Place all of the fruit and vegetable slices in a glass pitcher and fill with filtered water (plain or sparkling).
  2. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. If not drinking immediately, store in the refrigerator.

Notes

**Please choose all organic ingredients if possible.**

3.4.3177

 

For more healthy and refreshing drink recipes, consider joining my meal plan program here – you’ll get a new set of recipes each month. If you know anyone who is drinking processed zero-calorie drinks by the caseload, please share this post with them. I hope these tips help you hydrate your body with the healthiest drinks and kiss the chemical-filled drinks goodbye!

Xo, 

Vani

 

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