Wednesday, July 31, 2019

10 Keto Hacks to Try…Or Not

When I say “hack” or “biohack,” what does that call to mind for you? Taking 20 supplements per day, shining special lights into your ears, stem cell injections? Simpler things like wearing blue light blocking glasses or turning your shower to cold for 30 seconds?

The term has become ubiquitous in modern parlance, to the point where its meaning has become blurred. On the one hand, hacking can be about optimizing—taking your health and fitness to the next level once you have the basics dialed in, or adopting strategies aimed at living well over 100. On the other hand, a hack can also be a shortcut or trick designed to reap certain benefits without putting in the usual work. (Whether that’s a clever maneuver or a form of “cheating” depends on the context and whom you ask.)

Since the keto diet has reached such massive popularity, there’s also great interest in hacking keto. This probably isn’t surprising since a keto diet is more restrictive than other ways of eating. Any tactic that might make it easier would therefore be welcome. Also, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the keto diet right now. Yes, it will naturally attract people who aim to optimize their health and who want to squeeze the greatest possible effects out of keto. And…occasionally it may attract people who are looking for a quick fix rather than a long-term solution. Some will assuredly be set up for disappointment when it turns out that keto isn’t a panacea. Results aren’t always forthcoming on people’s desired timeline, so they look for tricks to kick it into high gear.

As you’d expect, then, there are lots of resources promoting “keto hacks.” Most of these turn out to be basic common sense tips for any diet: set realistic goals, plan your meals, know how to read ingredient lists, find an accountability partner. This is all great advice, but it’s not about keto per se. Likewise, a lot of so-called keto hacks are just the Primal Blueprint Laws: move a lot (don’t be sedentary), lift heavy things, avoid sketchy oils, sleep. Everyone should be doing those things, keto or not.

In my view, a keto hack is a strategy that goes beyond the basics of ketogenic eating (i.e., drop carbs and increase fat) to do one of the following:

  • Get you into ketosis quickly
  • Make a keto diet easier and/or more enjoyable
  • Enhance the effects of ketosis and/or increase ketone levels
  • Mimic or achieve ketosis without having to strictly restrict dietary carbs

Let’s look at 10 common keto hacks and see how well they jibe with the Keto Reset and Primal approaches.

1. Ingredient Swaps

This one is the most basic, aimed at making keto easier and more enjoyable by taking higher-carbs foods you already know and love and swapping in keto-friendlier ingredients. Think zoodles with pesto and parmesan, almond flour mug bread, cauliflower rice in everything.

This also includes swapping traditional sugars/sweeteners for things like stevia and monk fruit. I’m on the fence regarding the sweeteners. If using keto sweeteners judiciously makes keto sustainable for you, they’re fine in moderation. (Search MDA for articles about the pros and cons of specific options.) However, if they keep your sweet tooth raging and your cravings high, they’re not worth it.

Verdict: Definitely, but be mindful about using keto-friendly sweeteners.

2. Manipulating Your Macros

Once you have the hang of eating basic keto macros, you can choose to strategically manipulate your intake of fat, protein, and carbs. You might want to do this if there’s still room for improving how you feel day-to-day or if you want to make faster progress toward your goals. Dropping dietary fat to lose body fat is one of the advanced strategies described in The Keto Reset Diet. If you’re struggling with hunger, changing your ratio of fat:protein might help. Experimenting with a cyclical or targeted keto approach falls into this category as well.

Verdict: Yes! The Primal+keto approach encourages self-experimentation and finding your personal “sweet spot.”

3. Going Carnivore

More and more people are starting with keto and moving on to carnivore nowadays. For some people it’s about the simplicity—eat meat, don’t eat other foods, done. Other people use carnivore as the ultimate elimination diet because they are desperate to solve the mysteries of their gut or other health issues that paleo/Primal/AIP/keto couldn’t fix.

The jury is still out on whether the carnivore diet is safe long term. As with keto, it surely depends on how you implement it. Are you truly eating nose to tail—organs, skin, blood, glands? That’s very different than only eating ground beef and ribeye. Personally, I doubt that it’s optimal compared to a diet that is at least somewhat omnivorous, but we need more data. Furthermore, I haven’t seen evidence that it’s superior health-wise to Primal+keto for the general population. Of course, if it profoundly changes an individual’s health for the better, that’s a different story.  

Verdict: As a short-term experiment, sure. As a long-term diet, I’d need a good reason. (Not wanting to make a salad wouldn’t be good enough for me.)  

4. Measuring Ketones and/or Blood Glucose

This falls into the category of self-quantification—not exactly a hack so much as a tool that biohackers use to track how their bodies respond to different stimuli. For individuals who are dealing with medical issues for which blood sugar regulation or ketone levels are important, measuring is a must. For the rest of us, tracking can be a useful tool, especially to see how these markers are affected by specific foods or quantities of foods. Some people simply like gathering data, and that’s cool too.

Just remember that higher ketone levels are not in and of themselves the goal (except in specific medical situations). Ketone and blood glucose levels do not directly predict weight loss or other outcomes, although they can give you some clues about what’s going on in your body.

Verdict: A useful tool for learning about your body, but not necessary if you’re doing keto for general wellness or weight loss. Subjective measures often suffice.

5. Incorporating MCT Oil

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) can be especially useful for supporting a keto diet and are traditionally used in keto fatty coffee recipes. MCTs are digested differently from other fats, going directly to the liver where they can be converted into ketones. The increased ketone production is probably why some people report experiencing greater mental clarity or appetite suppression when they incorporate MCT oil into their diets. Research also suggests that MCTs increase the thermic effect of food and promote greater body fat loss, a benefit to those hoping to lose weight with keto. They might also positively affect gut health.

Because MCTs can raise ketones even when consumed alongside high-carb foods, using MCTs might allow you to still reap some of the benefits of ketosis on higher-carb days. MCTs can also be used alongside intermittent fasting to enhance ketone production and stave off hunger. (Mark’s official decree about whether MCT oil breaks a fast: “technically yes, but realistically no—and it may even enhance your fasting experience when consumed in moderation.”)

On the other hand, an over-reliance on fatty coffee can crowd out more nutrient-dense breakfast options, and MCTs are still calories (though energy efficient ones). If your weight loss stalls, and you’re consuming a lot of MCT oil, that might be the problem. It’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Verdict: Thumbs up! Start slowly because MCTs can lead to disaster pants if you’re unaccustomed to using them.

6. Taking Exogenous Ketones

Commercially available ketone salts or ketone esters can be used to raise blood ketones above the levels that are typically achievable with diet alone. They are somewhat controversial in the keto diet world, at least in the corner that we inhabit with the Keto Reset. However, I think the research into their possible applications for medicine, sport, and cognitive performance is intriguing.

I’m less enthusiastic about exogenous ketones as a weight-loss supplement. Yes, exogenous ketones can support a ketogenic diet by suppressing appetite, increasing energy, and being used to extend fasting. They do not, however, cause fat burning and weight loss, which is often how they are portrayed to consumers.

Verdict: Unnecessary and expensive. If you have the funds and want to experiment, by all means do so, but check out Mark’s take on exogenous ketones before you buy.

7. Intermittent Fasting

Keto folks love intermittent fasting. Eating in a compressed window during the day makes it easier to control caloric intake and regulate insulin production over a 24-hour period. Some people notice marked improvements in gut health by giving their guts a break from digesting food all the time. As with MCTs and exogenous ketones, intermittent fasting can “make up” for the effects of a somewhat higher-carb diet, allowing you to loosen the reins on the carb restriction a bit and still be in ketosis some of the time.

Many people also find that they naturally slip into a compressed eating window once the appetite suppressing effects of keto start to kick in. In The Keto Reset Diet, Mark recommends starting by delaying the first meal of the day until hunger ensues naturally. This is a gentle way to introduce intermittent fasting.

There are important cautions here though. Women need to be more mindful about fasting and caloric restriction than men, as do high-volume athletes. Intermittent fasting can be stressful on the body, so if you are already under a lot of stress from work, family, health issues, poor sleep, or heavy training load, now is not the time to start.

Verdict: Yes! Start by building a foundation of fat-adaptation first through Primal and ketogenic eating.

8. Fat Fasts, Egg Fasts, Etc.

None of these strategies is actually fasting for the record. They’re very-low-carb eating plans that allow a very limited range of foods. Usually they’re aimed at breaking through a weight loss plateau. If they work, it’s likely due to caloric restriction (it’s boring to eat a lot of the same food all the time). Otherwise, the purported benefits are the same as the regular ol’ keto diet: reduced appetite, increased satiety, and insulin regulation.

To me, these don’t pass the sniff test of “optimizing health.” Indeed, if you look at the “rules” for any of these, there are always myriad warnings about not doing them for more than a few days, if you have certain medical conditions, or if you are already low body fat. You can break through weight loss plateaus with other methods and still get plenty of nutrients.

Verdict: No thanks.

9. Fasted Exercise

This is another of the advanced strategies in The Keto Reset Diet, meaning it should only be undertaken once you have acclimated to the keto diet. Mark recommends working out fasted to help accelerate the process of fat- and keto- adaptation and to promote mitochondrial biogenesis and autophagy. Research has also shown that fasted exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, fat-burning, and endurance.

Note that while it can yield beneficial hormonal and metabolic effects (and is probably useful for endurance athletes), training fasted might not be optimal for people looking for muscle gains. Also, fasting can increase the stress of a workout, so if you already struggle with excess stress or cortisol, this strategy is probably not for you.

Verdict: Yes, once you are fat- and keto-adapted. You need not conduct all workouts fasted to reap the benefits.

10. Sprinting

Mark just wrote a very comprehensive two-part series on sprinting (Part 1, Part 2), so I won’t rehash it all here. Suffice it to say sprinting has tremendous adaptive hormonal effects, and it upregulates fat-burning, which all keto folks want. Sprinting can help deplete glycogen stores and get you into a state of ketosis faster. On the flip side, sprinting in a somewhat glycogen-depleted state (as keto folks generally are) enhances the benefits.  

You can adapt sprinting to different fitness levels and physical abilities, so don’t avoid sprinting just because you’re not a runner. If you’re stalled out on your weight loss or fitness goals with your current diet and exercise routine, or if you want to take your fitness to the next level, throwing in the (healthy) stress of sprinting might be just the ticket.

Verdict: Go for it!

Final Thoughts: Use Your Brain (AKA Primal Blueprint Law #9: Avoid Stupid Mistakes)

I feel it’s important to mention that you can be successful and happy with a keto approach that involves none of these hacks. Also, of course, some of these might be inappropriate for your unique situation. With any hacks, understand why you are doing them, as well as the possible benefits and downsides. Don’t try something just because you saw it on YouTube or heard about it from your neighbor if it doesn’t feel right to you.

Most of all, don’t get sucked into the “keto harder” mentality where you just keep pushing and pushing your body to achieve better/faster results to the point where you go way past what is healthy or necessary for you. Be mindful about keeping self-imposed stressors in the “adaptive” category, and don’t compare your journey to others’.  

Do you practice any of these? Do you have questions on other keto “hacks” you’ve heard about? Share your thoughts below, and thanks for stopping in today.

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Weekly Fashion Finds + Med Ball Running Workout

Hey there!

I’m popping in with a quick blog post that includes some awesome fashion finds from the week (aka SALES) + a full-body medicine ball + running workout. It involves a complex (3 movements = 1 rep), so it was a fun challenge mixed with some 800 meter runs. I did it yesterday – and, holy cow, I was a sweaty mess by the end!

FYI: If you don’t have a medicine ball, you can use a slam ball, kettlebell, dumbbell, or any sort of weighted object. I mean, even a big rock would work! 🙂 I hope you like it!

Weekly Fashion Finds

Reminder: The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale ends Sunday!

 

Med Ball Complex + Running Workout

This post contains some affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission from the company if you decide to purchase the product linked to. This compensation helps with expenses to keep CNC up and running. Thank you for your support!

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I Tried A Toilet Paper Company Called Who Gives A Crap

This post is sponsored by Who Gives A Crap

Do you love your toilet paper? I do!

Here are some reasons to get your tush excited about the company Who Gives A Crap:

  • 50% of Who Gives A Crap’s profits are donated to help build toilets and sanitation projects in developing countries. Great mission? Check.
  • The toilet paper is made of 100% recycled paper, and the company is on a mission to eliminate all plastic from its packaging. Sustainability focus. Check!
  • The rolls come wrapped in cute paper, are made of a soft 3 ply tissue, and come delivered to your door. Convenience? Check!
  • You can also bet your bottom dollar that there’s a 100% money back guarantee.

Let’s get to the bottom of it: Did I like the toilet paper?

YES! Toilet paper is not that exciting, right? In the past I tried to buy the cheapest, largest package with the biggest rolls that didn’t fall apart in my hand. My objective with TP has always been to minimize roll turnover and cost. Aside from that, I didn’t give it too much thought.

All that changed when I came across Who Gives A Crap. This toilet paper is actually something to get excited about! It’s made from 100% recycled paper with no dyes or scents. I was more than happy with the tissue’s feel. It’s super soft and it’s noticeably stronger than other brands we’ve tried. It didn’t flake off fuzz like our previous brand did, and it feels really nice and smooth.

There are two main reasons I’ll be subscribing for more!

1. Cost.

I assumed Who Gives A Crap would be significantly more expensive than the store brand I’d been buying. But when I did the math, I was surprised to see that Who Gives A Crap was actually less – by a lot! You can buy a box for $30 (for 24 rolls) or $48 (for 48 rolls). I used the biggest box to compare since that’s what I’d get.

Who Gives A Crap
  • 400 sheets per roll
  • 48 rolls per pack
  • 19,200 sheets per pack
  • $48 per pack
  • $2.50 per 1,000 sheets
Store Brand Mega Plus
  • 326 sheets per roll
  • 18 rolls per pack
  • 5,868 sheets per pack
  • $16.89 per pack
  • $2.87 per 1,000 sheets
Not only is Who Gives A Crap less expensive (including delivery!) but you get a LOT of rolls at a time so you don’t run out as much.

2. Convenience.

You can buy one box at a time OR subscribe! There is nothing worse than realizing you’re on your last roll in the house. We have three bathrooms where I stash TP, and I would always assume one of the other two bathrooms had extra rolls if one was low. Until that one time when all three are out and you find yourself making a last minute trip to the store to stock up!! I love that the Who Gives A Crap rolls have more sheets per roll (and aren’t 10 inches thick) AND that you get 48 rolls per box that comes right to your door right before you need it. (Plus the last three rolls in the box are packaged to remind you that you need more.) I also really like that the rolls are individually wrapped in pretty paper since I usually unpack my rolls to store under the sink. This is just a lot more hygienic than rolls exposed to the elements.

The company’s mission to support proper sanitation in developing countries and their efforts toward sustainability are all gravy on the top!

Plus the “cheeky” branding is hilarious. Check out the box copy above and the roll copy below :mrgreen:

The Bottom Line

I’m so glad to have found a brand that is cheap (in a good way), comes in a large package, feels great, and doesn’t involve hauling my two kids to the store to procure.

Click here for $10 off your first purchase and use the code KATHEATS!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

How to Measure Progress OFF the Scale

You might have heard me talk about how I’m NOT a fan of the scale. There are so many ways to measure progress that are both measurable and non-measurable. The scale tells one story, but there are many factors that come into play when you see that number. Some of these include: Water retention, hormones, inflammation, digestion and volume of previous food and liquid consumption. These are all large factors in scale weight that can make the number deceiving. Read on for ideas how to measure progress OFF the scale!

How to Measure Progress OFF the Scale

Water retention alone can be affected by sodium intake, carbohydrate intake, workout intensity/recovery status, sleep, stress levels, hormonal fluctuations, and hydration. This can cause the scale to fluctuate a few pounds up or down from day-to-day. For some people, it might be best to weigh-in just once per week or LESS often. I personally recommend weighing yourself once at month on the same day of the month for a more accurate gauge of progress.

Body composition and measurements are great ways to check in on your progress. Are you losing fat while maintaining or even gaining muscle? This may not show up as progress on the scale number, but it will show up in how your clothes fit with your size and measurements typically decreasing. Try taking measurements using a tape measure and recording these numbers to keep track of progress. If you have a scale that reads body composition. You can also use this number as a reference point during your weekly weigh-in to see how your body composition is changing.

When it comes to progress in performance, there are plenty of ways to tell if you are fueling yourself better for performance. If you are into strength training and your numbers are improving, this is an indicator that you are fueling for performance and creating denser muscle tissue. You may also notice that body weight resistance movements (such as push-ups) and endurance-style movements (such as running or biking) are becoming easier to perform and you are becoming faster. Both of these are great signs that you are eating to fuel for performance and your muscles are getting stronger!

Why Progress Photos Are So Important

Pictures tell all! Before and after pictures along with bi-weekly photos are true signs of body composition changes. (Have you taken your “before” photos yet? If not, make sure you do it ASAP!) Try to keep the lighting, camera angle, and clothing the same across all the photos for consistency and to be able to easily compare. While the scale can sometimes stall or plateau, photos may show composition changes that are very motivating to see. This happens ALL the time with our nutrition clients! I personally think the “magic” happens about 3-5 months after implementing macros into your life. I can’t stress this enough: Photos are super important when it comes to how to measure progress OFF the scale!

Other things to note as you continue your journey are your sleep patterns, mood, energy levels, and hunger. Hopefully, you are also seeing improvements in these markers with more restful sleep, less mood swings, improved clarity, and higher energy levels throughout the day. These are all signs that you are improving the way you fuel your body. I hope this post helped you make sense of how to measure progress OFF the scale. Plus, why it’s so important to your fat loss journey!

Freebies for You

If you’re looking for FREE macro-friendly recipes (weekly) and meal plans (monthly), be sure to sign up for my email list!

Join my FREE 5-Day Macro Bootcamp to learn all about getting started with tracking macros!

And be sure to sign up for 3 Weeks Easy Meal Prep Dinners to make the most of your time in the kitchen!

Want to eat your carrots and cake, too? Check out my macro plan and nutrition coaching options!

P.S. Another blog post that might interest you: Why The Scale Fluctuates And Why It Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Making Progress!

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Electrolyte Imbalance: Symptoms & How to Fix It

Electrolytes are naturally occurring chemical compounds that play a crucial role in human physiology because of their ability to carry an electrical charge. 

Biologically speaking, electrolytes contribute to a wide variety of vital processes because they separate into positively and negatively charged ions when dissolved in a polar solvent like water. These ions, in turn, help our muscles contract, the synapses in our brain fire, and our hearts beat because these functions are largely dependent on the proper exchange of positively and negatively charged ions in and out of cells. 

The body’s principal electrolytes include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate, and chloride, each of which has a vitally important—and sometimes parallel—physiological function.

  • Calcium – helps regulate blood pressure, contract muscles, convey nerve signals, and develop and maintain bones. Calcium imbalances can cause bone pain, irregular heartbeat, kidney stones, fractures, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Magnesium – helps maintain proper heart rhythm, contract muscles, balance the ratio of fluids and proteins in the body, and even regulate mental health. Magnesium imbalances can lead to insomnia, other mental disturbances, and anxiety. 
  • Potassium – helps stabilize blood pressure and control heart beat. Too low or too high potassium can cause muscle spasms, cramps, constipation, and sleep disturbances.
  • Sodium – helps maintain the body’s balance of fluids, contract muscles, and convey nerve signals. An imbalance in your body’s sodium levels can cause cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Chloride – helps maintain a proper balance of the body’s fluids. Chloride imbalances can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and trouble breathing.

While all of the above-listed electrolytes are important, I will primarily focus on sodium, magnesium, and potassium in this article, since they’re the three electrolytes in which most people are generally deficient. 

Because of their wide-ranging physiological importance, electrolyte deficiencies or imbalances can have very serious consequences, ranging from fatigue and muscle cramps to death. In fact, electrolytes are so important that an injection of the right amount of potassium can stop the heart dead in its tracks!

Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance

Generally speaking, minor electrolyte imbalances are not very symptomatic. Most people can display no symptoms and still have slightly elevated or diminished levels of most electrolytes on a blood test. 

However, if an electrolyte imbalance escalates to the point that it becomes significant, it can be deadly. Because electrolytes play such critical roles in the nervous and cardiovascular systems, many of the symptoms of imbalance or depletion affect these same parts of the body.

In most cases, you will know there is something wrong because you will feel absolutely awful. The most common symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance include muscle cramps, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, flu-like symptoms, digestive issues, confusion or brain fog, joint pain, fatigue, and dizziness.

Fortunately, these symptoms will generally abate if an imbalance is caught and managed early; however, if it goes untreated, an electrolyte imbalance can cause serious long-term problems, including bone mineral loss (osteoporosis) and irreversible heart and brain damage.

Short-Term Effects of Electrolyte Imbalance

  • Muscle cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Exhaustion
  • Digestive issues
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness

Long-Term Effects of Electrolyte Imbalance

  • Bone mineral loss (osteoporosis)
  • Heart damage
  • Cognitive damage

Causes of Electrolyte Imbalance

We absorb electrolytes through the foods we eat and the fluids we drink, and lose them through exercise, sweating, and expelling bodily waste. 

An electrolyte imbalance occurs when we have too much or too little of a given electrolyte, a fact that highlights the importance of the ratio of these nutrients in the body. Electrolyte levels can get out of whack when we do not consume enough of a given electrolyte to start, or when we do not take in enough to replace that which is being lost. 

There a variety of factors that can precipitate an electrolyte imbalance. 

For instance, an imbalance can occur if you do not consume a well-rounded diet capable of providing you with enough mineral electrolytes, or if you have gut issues that lead to your body absorbing too few nutrients from the food you eat. You can also experience an electrolyte imbalance if you are very sick and purging fluids—and, by extension, electrolytes—as a result of severe vomiting, diarrhea, or high fever.

In addition to acute illness, chronic conditions like endocrine or hormonal disorders, cancer, kidney disease, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) can lead to electrolyte imbalances as these conditions or their treatments all, in one way or the other, cause the body to purge electrolytes.

Interestingly enough, one of the more common causes of electrolyte imbalance I encounter is from an otherwise seemingly healthy undertaking: the ketogenic diet.

This low carb, high healthy fat diet wreaks havoc on your body’s electrolyte levels in two ways.

First, the diet causes a precipitous drop in daily sodium intake essentially overnight by removing processed and unhealthy foods that are chock full of salt from your daily menu. If you don’t intentionally replace these now-missing electrolytes, you are just about guaranteed to experience the dreaded “keto flu.”

Second, the ketogenic diet is diuretic in nature. Cutting carbohydrates causes insulin levels to drop, and the sudden drop in insulin triggers the kidneys to release water and electrolytes through increased urine production. 

How Much is Enough?

While all electrolytes play an important role in the body’s functioning, sodium, potassium, and magnesium are my primary focus today. 

While many people include calcium when discussing proper electrolyte consumption, the scientific literature has largely agreed on the point that most people get enough calcium from dietary sources, and over supplementing can have very serious side effects. Therefore, I generally leave calcium off my hit list of the most important electrolytes. 

It is important to remember that our consumption of these nutrients needs to be properly balanced against one another to ensure we do not drive ourselves into an electrolyte imbalance. 

In general, you should be consuming 5,000mg of sodium; 1,000mg of potassium, ideally in the form of potassium chloride or potassium citrate; and 300mg of magnesium, preferably in the form of magnesium malate every day, in addition to what you get from dietary sources. 

Be aware that, these are generic ranges… your exact level of optimal electrolyte intake is a multifactorial question.

Things like your age, body mass, daily activity level, the presence of any electrolyte-purging comorbidities, and even where you live can all impact the level of electrolytes that you should consume each day. 

However, if you can relate to any of the symptoms described above, there is a good chance your electrolytes are out of balance.

So what can you do? I’m glad you asked!

  1. Don’t Reach for a Standard Sports Drink

I don’t think anyone should ever consume the sugary sports drinks that line the shelves of your average grocery store or corner bodega. 

All of the electrolyte-replacement products on the market today, ironically, do not contain sufficient levels of key electrolytes and are just packed with sugar. It’s best to ignore the catchy marketing campaigns, famous athletes’ endorsement deals, and the sponsorships at sporting events big and small—these drinks are not your friend and should be avoided at all costs!

  1. Tweak Your Diet

Minor electrolyte imbalances can generally be corrected by focusing on optimizing the foods you consume on a daily basis. Ensuring your diet is filled with unpackaged, whole foods that deliver a healthy dose of essential nutrients, including electrolytes, can go a long way towards reversing an electrolyte imbalance. 

Above-ground leafy vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, bananas, and avocados are rich in potassium and magnesium, while beans and probiotic dairy are a great source of calcium. 

  1. Supplement Electrolytes

If you can’t indulge in a mainstream sports drink, where should you turn to supplement electrolytes? I asked myself this very same question and answering it led me to be shoulder deep in my pantry mixing up homebrew electrolyte concoctions. 

After a ton of trial and error, I developed a couple of great do-it-yourself drink recipes for anyone who wants to follow my lead and mix up their own. If you’d like to dive into some of my favorite recipes, you can download them here.

On the other hand, if you’d prefer to learn from the mistakes I made over years tinkering with these recipes—and trust me, there were a few!—you can give LMNT Recharge a try. I’ve worked really hard to develop this electrolyte drink mix and it’s precisely formulated to deliver all of the electrolytes you need and none of the extra junk that you don’t. And if I can so say myself, it’s quite tasty!

One thing that is important to keep in mind: whether they are the result of dietary issues or another underlying condition, electrolyte imbalances are very serious business. 

If you think you may be suffering from a severe electrolyte imbalance, you should consult your healthcare provider immediately. They can help you determine the extent of any imbalance with a metabolic panel and help craft a plan to get you back on the right track.

Once you know which electrolytes are out of whack and what is driving the imbalance, you can incorporate some of these suggestions to supplement the plan you develop with your physician.



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Dear Mark: Safe Tick Repellant, Fish Intake on Mediterranean Diet, and Therapeutic Value of Wine

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a few questions from recent comment boards. First, with all the scary tick-related news coming out lately, are there any non-toxic tick repellents that actually work? Are there essential oils that repel and/or kill ticks? Is there a safer way to use insecticides? Next, were the people in the Mediterranean keto study actually eating a kilo of fish on their fish days? And is the wine an important part of the Mediterranean diet? Is the wine therapeutic or just for pleasure?

Let’s find out:

Non toxic effective tick repellents safe for children? Any suggestions? I live in NC so the tick thing scares the hell out of me. Found at parks in short grasses, like how am I supposed to avoid this???

If you want to avoid DEET and other pesticides, there are many essential oils that repel ticks. Let’s go through the various tick species.

The castor bean tick:

Repelled by miswak essential oil and killed by Libyan rosemary essential oil.

Repelled by rosemary and mint essential oils.

Repelled by Dorado azul, also known as pignut or bushmint and traditionally used as mosquito repellant. The terpene known as alpha-humulene was the most repellant terpene found in the oil; you can buy both the oil and the humelene.

Repelled by turmeric oil, even beating out DEET.

The cattle tick:

Repelled by French marigold essential oil.

Repelled by mastrante essential oil.

The deer tick:

Repelled by nootkatone (a grapefruit aromatic compound) and to a lesser degree ECOSMART organic insect repellent. Here’s a cool video showing ticks trying to climb a person’s finger that’s been dipped in nootkatone.

Nothing is 100% guaranteed to repel all ticks. In fact, many of these oils show 50-60% effectiveness in the field. But if you use a combination of relevant essential oils, frequent tick checking, smart clothing choices (long socks, shoes/boots, pants), and avoidance of tick-heavy landscapes (tall grass, oak leaves, etc, notwithstanding these new breeds that apparently love short grass), you’ll be in good hands—or at least better hands than the naked guy rolling around in piles of oak leaves.

And if you’re really worried, you could always tuck pants into your shoes, then spray the shoes and lower section of your pants with peremethrin, an insecticide that kills the ticks as they climb before they can reach your flesh. Use a dedicated pair of pants and shoes that you don’t use for anything else and reapply each time you go out. A light spray on the outside of reasonably-thick pants should provide tick protection without actually putting the pesticide into contact with your skin.

2.2 pounds of fish each day?!

I know, I was surprised to read that myself. But right there, according to the researchers:

We estimated during the first 4 weeks of this study that the average edible fish consumption per subject during the ‘‘fish block’’ day was approximately 1.12 0.41 kg=day.

So it wasn’t just an allowance of fish. They actually tracked their consumption and found they were eating over 2 pounds of fish on average on the days they ate fish.

The study said that they had “fish block” and “no fish block” days. With no mix of fish and other meats on the same day. What is the reason for this?

They offered no justification in the study write-up.

Maybe it was to increase variety.

Maybe it was to reduce their intake of omega-3s. I mean, a kilo of fish per day adds up to a lot of omega-3s, especially if you’re doing sardines and salmon. There is such a thing as too much a good thing, and excessive omega-3 can lead to blood thinning, excessive bleeding, and imbalanced omega-3:omega-6 ratios in the opposite direction.

Maybe it was to help people stick to the diet, to break up all that fish with some meat and chicken.

Great, but why the wine? Is it not a contradictory with ketosis? But is it for pleasure or is it for a therapeutic reason?

Wine is emphasized in Mediterranean diet studies (both keto and regular) because wine is considered an important part of the cuisines of most Mediterranean countries, at least on the European side. Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece all have an extensive history of wine production and consumption. Since researchers are casting a wide net to capture everything that might be contributing to the health effects, they’re including everything that appears in the “Mediterranean diet.”

But, yes, it’s good to keep in mind that ketosis and alcohol detoxification do utilize some of the same physiological pathways.

Still, wine does appear to have therapeutic effects, especially in people with metabolic syndrome—the subjects of this study.

Red wine is very high in polyphenols, due to both the polyphenols in grapes themselves and the unique polyphenols that form during fermentation. One study compared grape extract to red wine made with the same types of grapes, finding that red wine provided benefits the grape extract did not.

Drinking wine with a fast food meal can reduce postprandial oxidative stress and inflammatory gene expression; it can actually make an otherwise unhealthy meal full of refined, rancid fats less damaging (though still not advisable).

Blood pressure: In people with (but not without) a genetic propensity toward efficient or “fast” alcohol metabolism, drinking red wine at dinner seems to lower blood pressure.

Type 2 diabetics: Type 2 diabetics who initiate red wine drinking at dinner see reduced signs of metabolic syndrome, including moderately improved glycemic control and blood lipids.

Inflammation: A study found that non-drinkers who begin regularly drinking moderate amounts of Sicilian red wine enjoy reduced inflammatory markers and improved blood lipids.

I’d say the wine is a therapeutic addition to the Mediterranean keto diet. Don’t let that override your own experience, however. Wine might have therapeutic effects for many people, but not everyone feels better including it. It’s an option, but it’s hardly a necessary one for a healthy diet.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask away down below. Thanks for reading, everyone.

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References:

El-seedi HR, Khalil NS, Azeem M, et al. Chemical composition and repellency of essential oils from four medicinal plants against Ixodes ricinus nymphs (Acari: Ixodidae). J Med Entomol. 2012;49(5):1067-75.

Ashitani T, Garboui SS, Schubert F, et al. Activity studies of sesquiterpene oxides and sulfides from the plant Hyptis suaveolens (Lamiaceae) and its repellency on Ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae). Exp Appl Acarol. 2015;67(4):595-606.

Goode P, Ellse L, Wall R. Preventing tick attachment to dogs using essential oils. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018;9(4):921-926.

Politi FAS, Fantatto RR, Da silva AA, et al. Evaluation of Tagetes patula (Asteraceae) as an ecological alternative in the search for natural control of the cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Acari: Ixodidae). Exp Appl Acarol. 2019;77(4):601-618.

Lima Ada S, Carvalho JF, Peixoto MG, Blank AF, Borges LM, Costa junior LM. Assessment of the repellent effect of Lippia alba essential oil and major monoterpenes on the cattle tick Rhipicephalus microplus. Med Vet Entomol. 2016;30(1):73-7.

Schulze TL, Jordan RA, Dolan MC. Experimental use of two standard tick collection methods to evaluate the relative effectiveness of several plant-derived and synthetic repellents against Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae). J Econ Entomol. 2011;104(6):2062-7.

Hansen AS, Marckmann P, Dragsted LO, Finné nielsen IL, Nielsen SE, Grønbaek M. Effect of red wine and red grape extract on blood lipids, haemostatic factors, and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005;59(3):449-55.

Di renzo L, Carraro A, Valente R, Iacopino L, Colica C, De lorenzo A. Intake of red wine in different meals modulates oxidized LDL level, oxidative and inflammatory gene expression in healthy people: a randomized crossover trial. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014;2014:681318.

Gepner Y, Henkin Y, Schwarzfuchs D, et al. Differential Effect of Initiating Moderate Red Wine Consumption on 24-h Blood Pressure by Alcohol Dehydrogenase Genotypes: Randomized Trial in Type 2 Diabetes. Am J Hypertens. 2016;29(4):476-83.

Gepner Y, Golan R, Harman-boehm I, et al. Effects of Initiating Moderate Alcohol Intake on Cardiometabolic Risk in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: A 2-Year Randomized, Controlled Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(8):569-79.

Avellone G, Di garbo V, Campisi D, et al. Effects of moderate Sicilian red wine consumption on inflammatory biomarkers of atherosclerosis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006;60(1):41-7.

The post Dear Mark: Safe Tick Repellant, Fish Intake on Mediterranean Diet, and Therapeutic Value of Wine appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.



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Strawberry Crumble Jars

A long-known fact of the blog world: everything is better in a jar.

These little jars are a cross between a crumble bar and a yogurt parfait. They are DELICIOUS. The thick yogurt is spiked with jam, the crumble layers provide the best crunchy texture, and the fresh strawberries add a layer of goodness.

Dessert / Breakfast / Big Snack

Call them a dessert or a breakfast or a snack because I’ve had them for all three occasions. I actually did the nutrition math on these and they come in a 385 calories per jar with 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of protein, and 28 grams of sugar. Do with that what you may!

Put A Lid On It

Because you can add a lid, these make a great picnic or portable summer treat. They will keep in your fridge for a couple of days, so make them ahead and take them with you wherever your summer travels go. I also imagine that from the same ingredients one could make a pie – a crust pressed into the bottom of a small pan, a creamy, dreamy yogurt layer, strawberries and crumble on top. I haven’t tried this (yet) but tell me if you do!

(Yes, there’s a hole in my lid, designed for a straw. But since these just went in my fridge I had to use the cutest lids I could find! These are by Mason Jar Lifestyle.)

How To

Super simple!! And almost no bake. The crust gets a 10 minute bake to help it firm up and crisp the topping a bit.

Crumble 4 LIFE

Into the bottom of 4 mason jars (which are oven safe)

Press down with spatula

Bake for 10 mins

Mix yogurt

Assemble!

Watch me make these on IGTV today!!

Recipe

Strawberry Crumble Jars

These strawberry crumble jars are a cross between a crumble bar and a yogurt parfait. Made with Greek yogurt, good jam, fresh strawberries, oats, and of course, butter, they are a great portable treat to take to a summer picnic or enjoy in single servings straight from the fridge.

Crust + Crumble Topping

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup butter

Filling

  • 1.5 cups plain 4% greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Melt butter to liquid and pour into oat mixture. Stir well until all combined.

  2. Portion 1/4 cup of mixture into the bottom of 4 mason jars and press down with spatula.

  3. Place jars and remaining crumble onto a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

  4. Meanwhile, mix jam and yogurt. Slice strawberries.
  5. When jars are cool, divide yogurt between jars. Top with strawberries and remaining crumble.
  6. Store in fridge.

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Baked Ziti Recipe

This baked ziti recipe is a quick and easy casserole you can put together last minute and the whole family will love it!. It’s a no-fail crowd pleaser regardless of who I’m serving.

It’s a very… Read more →



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Monday, July 29, 2019

Individualized Physical Therapy Treatment for Scoliosis

Last week, I teamed up with Dave Barber of Bodymechanics Physical Therapy in Norwell, MA to chat about his individualized physical therapy treatment for scoliosis (and other ailments and conditions). I actually found him via Instagram, and we’ve worked together for about 6 weeks now. His approach is totally different than anything I have experienced from a physical therapist, so I wanted to share my experience as well as some specific details from my case.

Individualized Physical Therapy Treatment for Scoliosis

You might remember my history with back pain and scoliosis (mostly related to marathon training and CrossFit) and subsequent not-so-great experiences with physical therapy. I never had much success with it. And, in my experience, there definitely was never an individualized physical therapy treatment. Even between different therapists, it seemed like there was a “one-size-fits-all” plan to get you better and out the door. Sure, my symptoms improved short-term, but I’d end up in pain months later because the treatment wasn’t a long-term solution, especially for the severity of my scoliosis and desired activity level.

Individualized Physical Therapy Treatment for Scoliosis

My experience with Dave has been totally different. His approach is truly an individualized physical therapy treatment for scoliosis. I’ve learned sooooo much from him, and I’ve never felt better! I’m even back to running and doing CrossFit in recent weeks! Watch our video for all of the details about my specific case (spoiler: my approach was completey backwards before meeting Dave) as well as what I’m doing to improve my scoliosis (and related back pain) for lasting results!

 

 

If you’re curious how my time at Bodymechanics Physical Therapy relates to my experience with Zen Den, I’m still a patient of Zen Den and visit every other week. I’m still using my eye patch (arg!) on the regular, and I really think the combination of the visual brain integration with the exercises and stretching that I learned from Dave have made all the difference in how I feel! 🙂

I was not compensated for this blog post. My health insurance covered the cost of my visits to Bodymechnics Physical Therapy. 

 

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Primal + Keto Cooking Made Easy: Collard Green Tuna Wraps

If you’re looking for a quick keto-friendly lunch, look no further. In less than ten minutes, you can throw together these tuna wraps using one of our favorite greens for all your wrap needs—collard green leaves. A bit of Primal-friendly mayo, some veggies, and a bit of fresh lemon juice give plenty of creamy flavor to this easy (and economical) meal you can grab and go with.

Check it out….

Collard Green Tuna Wraps

Servings: 12 wraps

Time In the Kitchen: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 collard leaves
  • 1 tin of tuna
  • 2 Tbsp. Primal Kitchen Mayo (your favorite flavor)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 squeezes fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cucumber (cut into matchstick shape)
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/8 cup radish (cut into matchstick shape)
  • 1/4 avocado (in slices)

Instructions:

Wash and dry collard leaves. Use a paring knife to cut the stems.

In a small bowl, combine tuna with mayo, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Mix well.

Place collard leaves on a flat surface (1 large leaf per wrap). Top each leaf with tuna mixture and veggies, placing all ingredients on one end of the leaf.

Wrap up it up like you would a burrito—fold the leaf over top of the mixture and keep rolling, tucking both sides in as you roll. Cut the wrap in half. (You can use a toothpick to secure if desired.) Repeat the process with the other wrap. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (1 wrap):

  • Calories: 244
  • Total Carbs: 5.7 grams
  • Net Carbs: 24.5 grams
  • Fat: 18 grams
  • Protein: 18 grams

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