Archive for 'Nutrition'

Wheat Grass Benefits for Weight Loss and Health

Wheat Grass Benefits for Weight Loss and Health

Posted on 17. Aug, 2011 by .

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I first encountered wheatgrass at Jamba Juice a few years ago. Besides thinking that it was an interesting concept to drink juice from grass that didn’t taste good at all, I really didn’t think much about wheatgrass benefits until I started taking a green food supplement. This curiosity led me to research exactly what is in wheatgrass that could be beneficial to our body. The answers surprised me.

A Little Background on Wheatgrass

I can’t talk about Wheatgrass without mentioning Charles F. Schnabel. Schnabel was an agricultural scientist who popularized the plant in the 1930s when he fed fresh cut grass to his dying hens. After doing this, the hens recovered beautifully and even produced eggs at a much higher rate compared to the healthy hens. Schnabel then started drying the grass to make powder out of it so he can give it to his family and neighbors to supplement their diet. He even got two large corporations to sponsor more research on the plant and by 1940s, wheatgrass powder began appearing in major drug stores across America and Canada.

Wheatgrass can be grown indoors and outdoors. The plant is harvested at the jointing stage which is the time before the grass leaf begins to elongate and form a stem. The nutritional analysis I’ve seen from web sites that sell wheatgrass powder or juice show that this is the moment when the plant’s nutrients are at their peak. Nutrients like chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are just a few of the nutrients found in wheatgrass.

You can even buy wheatgrass kits and grow them indoors at home. However, mold can grow on seeds that did not germinate when the seeds are planted to close together on indoor trays. Some people have reported getting anaphylactic shock after taking a shot of its juice because of this mold. So, to be safe, either get on outdoor grown plant or make sure that the plant is tested to be mold-free when you decide to supplement with wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass Benefits

There’s still a lot of debate regarding the benefits of wheatgrass to our health. Some say that the nutrient profile is similar to just about any green vegetable you can find at the supermarket. But, my research convinced me that there is more to this plant.

The one component of wheatgrass that captured my attention the most was chlorophyll. You may have heard of chlorophyll when you studied biology in school. It is found in the leaves of green plants and is their main energy source. Chlorophyll’s structure is very similar to hemoglobin which is a material that transports oxygen in our blood.

Research also found that chlorophyll has the ability to remove toxic chemicals from our bloodstream. This makes it excellent for cleansing. Livestrong.com even said that people who regularly drink wheatgrass juice report increased energy. This increase in energy may help you workout longer and harder while burning more calories in the process. One study on rats found that a diet high in chlorophyll from spinach juice can help prevent colon cancer(1). This finding is especially beneficial to people who eat a lot of red meat, instead of white meat, and not a lot of vegetables. But, the research doesn’t stop with rats.

One study was done on children with Thalassemia, a genetic form of anemia, who require regular blood transfusions. After taking 100 ml of wheatgrass juice daily for a year, half of the patients only needed 75% of the amount of blood they used to get in order to stay well (2). Researchers found similar results when 20 adult patients with pre-leukemia started taking 30 mls of the juice daily for 6 months. These patients were able to have longer intervals between their blood transfusions so they didn’t need to have as much blood compared to before they started taking wheatgrass juice (3).

The benefits of taking wheatgrass has also been studied in cancer patients for its cleansing and antioxidant properties. One study showed 60 breast cancer patients who took wheatgrass juice daily during their first 3 cycles of chemotherapy. The patients were able to reduce toxic chemical accumulation in their bone marrow and were able to reduce their dose of the chemicals used during their chemotherapy (4). The juice was able to give all these benefits to cancer patients without affecting the effectiveness of their chemotherapy.

Should You Take Wheat Grass?

We can see from these studies that the nutrients and other components in wheatgrass may provide recovery benefits to people who suffer from some type of illness like cancer, leukemia, anemia, etc. This just means that healthy people who do not have any apparent illness can benefit from drinking wheatgrass juice even more. But, of course, there is no substitute for eating a healthier diet.

If you decide to supplement your diet with wheatgrass juice or powder, consider making these changes as well for optimal benefits:

Eating more green vegetables, non-starchy vegetables and fruits.
Reducing red meat consumption and eating more lean meats.
Eating less starchy carbohydrates and simple sugars like bread, pasta, sugar, etc.
Last but not the least, get more exercise or physical activity.

  • Eating more green vegetables, non-starchy vegetables and fruits.
  • Reducing red meat consumption and eating more lean meats.
  • Eating less starchy carbohydrates and simple sugars like bread, pasta, sugar, etc.
  • Last but not the least, get more exercise or physical activity.

I prefer to supplement with wheatgrass powder because of the convenience it provides during times when I’m not able to eat a lot of veggies. I get my supply from Amazing Grass because they process the plant under low temperatures to preserve its nutrients. They also grow their plants outdoors which assures that there is no mold contamination. I prefer the powder compared to the juice because I get the whole leaf which means I am also getting insoluble fiber along with the other nutrients. I usually either make a green drink and sip it throughout the day or mix it in my smoothies.

(1) De Vogel, Johan; Denise S. M. L. Jonker-Termont, Martijn B. Katan,and Roelof van der Meer (August 2005). “Natural Chlorophyll but Not Chlorophyllin Prevents Heme-Induced Cytotoxic and Hyperproliferative Effects in Rat Colon”. J. Nutr. (The American Society for Nutritional Sciences) 135 (8): 1995–2000. PMID 16046728

(2) Marawaha, RK; Bansal, D; Kaur, S; Trehan, A; Wheatgrass Juice Reduces Transfusion Requirement in Patients with Thalassemia Major: A Pilot Study. Indian Pediatric 2004 Jul;41(7):716-20

(3) S. Mukhopadhyay; J. Basak; M. Kar; S. Mandal; A. Mukhopadhyay; Netaji Subhas; Chandra Bose; Cancer Research Institute, Kolkata, India; NRS Medical College, Kolkata, India; Central Institute for Research (Ayurveda), Kolkata, India. The Role of Iron Chelation Activity of Wheat Grass Juice in Patients with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Journal of Clinical Oncology 27:15s, 2009 (suppl; abstr 7012) 2009 ASCO Annual Meeting. Presenter: Soma Mukhopadhyay, PhD

(4) Bar-Sela, Gil; Tsalic, Medy; Fried, Getta; Goldberg, Hadassah. Wheat Grass Juice May Improve Hematological Toxicity Related to Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study. Nutrition and Cancer 2007, Vol. 58, No. 1, Pages 43-48

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Artificial Sweeteners Side Effects: Real or Imagined?

Artificial Sweeteners Side Effects: Real or Imagined?

Posted on 19. Jul, 2011 by .

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I’ve always wanted to find out the real deal about artificial sweeteners side effects but just never had the time. Lately though, I’ve been trying out different natural sweeteners because of their flavors and ended up researching their nutrient breakdowns and possible health benefits. So, I thought it would be great to compare natural versus artificial sweeteners as a lot of you probably have similar questions as I did.

My research started mainly because I was so intrigued by palm syrup. I encountered palm syrup a few weeks ago when I tried out the master cleanse diet by Stanley Burroughs. If you’d like to find out more about this cleansing program, you go to the distributor’s website at neeranatural.com. But, I will not discuss it in further detail here. I mentioned it because I loved the flavor of palm syrup so much, it made me want to use natural sweeteners now.

Zero to Low Calorie, Artificial Sweeteners Side Effects

The first question I wanted to address is the question about artificial sweeteners and their side effects. I will talk mainly about the two most popular artificial sweeteners, Aspartame, and Sucralose.

Aspartame received its bad reputation after several e-mail hoaxes spread throughout the internet about its alleged disease causing properties like cancer and multiple sclerosis. If you are not familiar with Aspartame, you might know it better by its most recognizable name brands, Nutrasweet and Equal. After reading several scientific studies, I found out that Aspartame is safe unless you have a genetic disease called Phenylketonuria. One of Aspartame’s byproducts in the body is phenylalanine which can cause detrimental effects to those born with this disease. Long story short, if you don’t have this disease, you can take Aspartame. The FDA has also released a statement about it and you can view the statement here: FDA Statement on Aspartame.

Splenda

The next artificial sweetener is Sucralose which goes by the name brand, Splenda. Sucralose is 300 times as sweet as table sugar and is not broken down by the body which is why it is mainly a zero calorie sweetener. The FDA reviewed data from 110 safety studies in humans which looked for possible toxic, carcinogenic, reproductive, and neurological effects. After reviewing these studies, the FDA declared it to be safe for everyday use. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends an average daily intake (ADI) of 9 mg/kg of body weight. This translates to about 24 tablespoons a day for a 125 pound person which is a lot more than what most people would use in a day.

Natural Sweeteners that Make the Grade

While artificial sweeteners have the advantage of being zero to low calorie when it comes to fat loss, I like natural sweeteners for their taste. The added benefit to natural sweeteners is they usually contain vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to our health. What are natural sweeteners? For the purpose of this post, I define natural sweeteners as those that come from nature and are minimally processed. Here is a list of some of the natural sweeteners that I like to use every now and then:

Stevia

Stevia is a type of leaf from the Sunflower family. Like Aspartame and Sucralose, stevia is also non-caloric. Even though it is a plant, it still received controversy and was even banned in the Unites States and other countries. But, Stevia has been used in countries like Japan for decades and in South America for centuries without any side effects. Stevia is made by extracting the sweet compound called Rebaudioside A (or Reb A for short) from the leaf. I mostly use Stevia in my coffee or to add a hint of sweetness to my lemon water.

Pure Maple Syrup
maple-syrup13

[Maple Syrup Farm]

Maple syrup is made by collecting the sap from Maple trees and boiling it to make a thicker consistency. This makes the syrup very minimally processed. But, you have to be careful in reading the labels when buying Maple syrup. Most of them can be imitation or contains very little maple syrup like the ones you can find by the pancake mixes at the grocery store. Make sure to read the label and the ingredient list should only contain Maple syrup and nothing else. You can get this syrup in different grades. Grade A is fairly light in color and flavor while Grade B is darker and has a stronger maple flavor. I use Grade B to top pancakes or for cooking.

Maple syrup is a good source of Calcium and potassium and contains traces of vitamins like Thiamin, Riboflavin, and Niacin.

Honey

Honey is probably the most popular natural sweetener because of its great flavor and nutrient content. While still a sugar, it does have traces of antioxidants in it including Vitamin C. This means that it offers more nutrient value compared to table sugar. Like Maple syrup, Honey is minimally processed and can even be eaten in its raw form. Most types of Honey are only filtered to remove wax and pollen. But, there are also highly processed forms of it like the pasteurized kind where the honey is subject to high forms of heat which can destroy its nutrients. I like to put Honey mainly in tea or if I’m making a protein shake after a workout.

Blackstrap Molasses

I am fairly new to using Molasses but before I bought my first bottle, I did my research on it. I chose unsulfured Blackstrap Molasses because it comes from mature sugar cane. Molasses that come from young sugar cane need sulfur during the extraction process and I like my sugars as minimally processed as possible. Not having the sulfur can also result in better flavor. When I first tried it in my cereal, I thought it had a really strong caramel taste. If you’re thinking of using it for the first time, its best to try it with a recipe with the exact amounts or put smaller amounts at first. I mainly use molasses for sweetening my oatmeal but I don’t use a lot of it. I have yet to try it for baking because i don’t do much of it but it can withstand heat which makes it ideal for baking.

Molasses is a great source of iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. One (1) tablespoon of it supposedly contains about 20% of our daily value for these minerals.

Palm Syrup
syrup_palm

The syrup that started my research. I was so surprised how rich Palm Syrup tastes. To me, it has a light caramel flavor. This is probably the lowest calorie syrup amongst all the syrups I’ve mentioned in this post. It has about 40 calories per 1 tablespoon. I found that I don’t need to use a lot of it because I like it mainly for the flavor and not the sweetness. It has a dark brown color and a similar consistency as maple syrup. Like Molasses, Palm Syrup contains potassium and calcium.

Of all the sweeteners I’ve mentioned this is probably the most difficult to find and when you do find it, it is rather pricey. The one I found is left over from the cleanse I mentioned earlier in this post and costs about $47 for a 1 litre bottle. I also put this syrup in my oatmeal and it makes my pancakes tastes amazing. This would have bee the best sugar substitute in my book if not for the difficulty of finding it.

Should You Make the Switch to Natural Sweeteners?

In my opinion, moderation is the key when it comes to carbohydrates and sugars. Carbohydrates are so commonly available in our society nowadays that we have to be more aware of our carbohydrate intake. I love sweets but I’ve learned to moderate my sugar consumption. Natural sweeteners are a great alternative to sugar because you are getting some vitamins and minerals from it but we have to remember that its still sugar and it still affects our insulin and blood sugar levels just the same. Long story short, use them to add more flavor to your meals but use them moderately.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them below.

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The Meal Frequency Conspiracy

The Meal Frequency Conspiracy

Posted on 19. Jun, 2011 by .

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After writing about managing stress in my last post, “The Super Stealth Fat Loss Destroyer,” meal frequency came to mind. What does meal frequency have to do with stress? Since my time is very limited due to my hectic schedule, I found that I do not have time to cook more elaborate, time consuming meals. In addition, my stress makes 2 full 24-hour, Eat Stop Eat (ESE) style fasts a lot more difficult to get through. This is the reason I’ve never really been a fan of eating 5-6 meals a day. First, I don’t have time to stop, prepare, and eat those meals. Second, I’ve tried higher frequency meals before with not-so-great results. Some people, like bodybuilders, may do well in these types of protocols but I guess it’s just not suitable to my metabolism and lifestyle.

My New Favorite Fasting Protocol

So, in an effort to manage my weight and not add stress to my life (by worrying about what I’m going to eat during the day), I looked for a solution that incorporates some type of fast while also keeping my meals on the low frequency side. So, I read my previous article, “,” and figured out what fit my current situation best. While the Lean Gains protocol sounded interesting, it was too complicated for me. So, I kept looking. In that same post, I also talked about IF life by Mike O’Donnell. I was intrigued by his 2 Meal solution program and the coaching that came with it.

2mealsolutionreview2

My immediate reaction was to e-mail Mike and asked him how his program is different from Eat Stop Eat. I was expecting some generic answer but Mike really took the time to answer my question and tailored his answer to it. Here is a copy of the response I got from him:

2mealsolution

2mealsoultionreview

After his answer, it was clear that I want to find out more about the 2 Meal Solution and how it was going to help simplify my life. Two meals a day sounded really good to me. So, I signed up for the program and the coaching e-mails.

The Super Simple 2 Meal Solution Protocol

  • Low calorie days with 2 meals condensed in an eating window of your preference
  • Free eating days when you can eat whatever you want within reason

After my first 2 weeks of switching my fasting style to the 2 Meal Solution protocol, I lost 3 pounds without even trying. This means that I didn’t really go out of my way to buy groceries I would not normally buy or create a nutrition plan. I just stuck to mainly eating whole foods on my low calorie, 2 meal days.

The best part for me with this protocol is I set what Mike calls “free eating days” during the weekends. These are days when I was able to eat junk foods or not-so-healthy options at a reasonable amount because my husband and I tend to eat out on these days. Three (3) pounds or 1.5 lbs a week may not sound like a lot to most people but keep in mind that I did this with minimal effort. My workouts included about 40 minutes of interval style strength training, 3 times a week and I was at a plateau for a very long time. Given that situation, my results are quite amazing.

My experience also goes to prove that eating higher frequency or 5-6 meals per day is not necessary to lose fat/weight.

Mike has also switched his coaching e-mails to 5-minute daily videos which are so helpful as he reinforces the most important principles of the 2 Meal Solution E-book in them.

Is the 2 Meal Solution for You?

If you like ESE but haven’t been able to get your 24-hour fasts like I was, this may be a great alternative for you. The people who will do well in this program are the people who don’t like to have snacks or smaller meals throughout the day. One factor that I tend to use when it comes to incorporating new diets into my lifestyle is “compliancy.” If you are able to consistently follow it for long periods of time because it fits your lifestyle, then it will work really well for you. On that same note, if you get your hands on a well designed diet program but are not able to follow it, it will not do you any good.

How I Plan to Use the 2 Meal Solution

I plan to continually use the 2 Meal Solution protocol for as long as it fits my lifestyle at most 5 days a week. But, when I am at my ideal body weight and do not need to lose any more fat, I will practice it 3 days out of the week with more moderate eating days in between. The plan is very flexible. Just make sure that you do not bend the rules too much (which there aren’t a lot of) on your condensed eating days when you get to your goal weight or percent body fat. If you want to find out more about Mike O’Donnel’s protocol, go here: 2 Meal Solution.

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Top 2 Ab Flattening Strategies that Work

Top 2 Ab Flattening Strategies that Work

Posted on 15. Aug, 2010 by .

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Let’s face it, a lot of us have stubborn areas of fat that we just can’t seem to get rid of no matter what we do. Well, that is if you haven’t tried the two strategies that I’m about to talk about. Just a note before I move on, this is not your typical fitness article telling you to eat the right foods and move more. Those help but these two strategies are even more powerful because it works from the inside. You will see what I mean as I talk about how these strategies work.

The techniques I’m talking about will not be very new to you but I will go deeper into how they work. I’m talking about fasting and the elimination diet. If you have done them before, you may know that they really work to get rid of stubborn areas of fat but you may not have known how they work. Let’s talk about that now…

Fasting and Hormones

Brad Pilon, author of Eat Stop Eat (ESE), talks about the hormonal changes that happen in our bodies during a fast. I will discuss some of the main hormones in this post but if you’d like a detailed explanation for each of the hormones involved (and there are many other besides the ones I talk about here), I suggest you read his book.

The first and very important hormone in fasting or digestion in general is insulin. Our pancreas releasse insulin after we eat a meal and our body goes into fat storing mode. During fasting or times when we do not have food in our system, our insulin levels go down which means that we go into fat burning mode. Because we do not have any food to burn for energy during this time, our body burns our stored body fat for energy instead. This is the beauty of fasting – burning stored body fat!

Fasting has also been scientificially shown to increase insulin sensitivity. This can be especially beneficial to people who have diabetes in their family like I do. Diabetes happens when the insulin hormone is no longer responsive to the changes in your blood sugar. As a result, your body would not be able to lower glucose levels in your body. When you increase insulin sensitivity through fasting, your body will become more efficient at regulating your blood sugars which lowers your risk for diabetes. This is one of the major reasons I turned to fasting because both sides of my family are prone to diabetes.

The other major hormone involved during fasting is growth hormone. Growth hormone is popular among the rich and famous because of its fat burning and muscle building effects. Celebrities pay huge amounts of money to be injected with growth hormone. But, regular folks like us can harness the power of growth hormones through fasting. During fasts, our growth hormone levels go up which means our body burns even more fat in combination with the lack of insulin in our system. Plus, we build muscle which we all know is an active tissue which burns even more calories.

As you can see, all these hormonal responses favor fat burning and because the effects are happening at the hormonal level, the changes are even more powerful. In essence, we are making long term physiological changes each time we fast at the same time that we are reducing our calorie intake.

Eliminating Toxins and Allergens

You’ve heard me talk about the elimination diet before. If you need a refresher on that, read this series starting with this post: Starting the Elimination Diet.

dairy products

For this particular diet, I eliminated wheat, dairy, caffeine, sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. These are the most common foods or food components that are toxic to our body or cause allergic reactions because they are so prevalent in our food supply. In general, we store toxins in our fat cells. If you’re familiar with the process of osmosis, liquids follow the direction where there’s more solutes or toxins. For example, when we have toxins in our fat cells, liquids follow the toxins causing us to store extra fluids in our fat cells. It just so happens that these toxins mainly reside in the fat cells under our belly button (that little pooch in our lower abs that we all hate…lol). So, once we free our bodies of toxins, the fluids follow and we eliminate stubborn areas of fat.

Not everyone is sensitive to all the foods listed above but you would not be able to tell what the culprit is if you do not completely eliminate it from your diet and introduce it back to see how it affects you. For instance, I eliminated peanuts or peanut butter from my diet for several days, after just one tablespoon of peanut butter, I felt bloated and gassy. I know it’s too much information but this is very important information you’d like to know about your body since food sensitivities can cause some serious problems in the long run besides difficulty losing weight. Once you find which foods you are particularly sensitive to and avoid them, you will find that you have less bulge in stubborn areas, prevent unwanted weight gain, and reduced digestive problems.

These two strategies have been particularly helpful to me and my clients and they are highly effective once you follow them routinely. From experience, I’ve also found that they are not very difficult to follow as long as you plan your days ahead. If you have any questions about any of the ideas discussed here, please do not hesitate to post them below.

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A Lesson I learned at the Coffee Shop

A Lesson I learned at the Coffee Shop

Posted on 27. Jun, 2010 by .

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I was at a coffee shop the other day while having some quality talk time with a friend. On any other day, I probably would have indulged myself with a delicious vanilla latte but this day was different. It was a fast day. So, I opted for a cup of chai tea instead. I told the barista specifically that I did not want anything added to the drink, not even milk. To my surprise, the chai tea had a sweetness to it. I’m not the type of person to complain and I didn’t want to interrupt my chat with my friend so I just proceeded to drink my tea knowing that it’s probably just a natural sweetness to the tea.

Zero

Later on, it was still bugging me that my tea was sweet so I called the coffee shop to ask if there was any added sugar to my drink. When the barista looked at the box where the chai tea came from, she said it had cane juice and honey. It had 90 calories per tea bag! I found it disappointing that when I chose not to have any calories or sweets added to my drinks, I still ended up drinking 90 calories of it. To add insult to injury, I did on a fast day!

Now, I do not want you to think that I’m this person who watches her calories strictly and have a very restricted diet. If you’ve read my other blog posts, you’ll know that I am quite a foodie and fasting has given me a great way to enjoy food while also maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. So, I probaby would not have cared if this incident happened on any other day other than my fast day. But, it left me to think about just how many calories everyone else gets from their drinks. I usually drink water and the occasional latte. I rarely if ever drink sodas so this is not a big issue for me. But, for those people who has a habit of drinking sodas, even diet sodas, they might want to start thinking about it more often.

Hidden Calories in Drinks

Many people are awared of calories in foods. In fact, a new law from Obama’s health care plan mandates restaurants with more than one location to have nutrition facts available to their customers. But, a lot of people forget to count calories in their drinks. This may seem like a simple thing from the surface but with our waist lines expanding more than ever and our health risks increasing each year, we ought to start worrying about these hidden calories. Even companies who make diet sodas have a way of going around the law to say “zero calories” on ther labels.

Here is what I mean: If a serving of a food item contains less than 1 gram of a particular nutrient, it does not have to be counted on the label. In reality, if a serving of a drink has .9 grams of sugar, it is still considered “zero calories.” That is totally fine if you’re like me and you do not use artificial sweeteners all the time. But, if you’re a big time diet soda drinker and drinks them 10 times a day, those supposedly “zero calories” definitely add up. Additionally, most drinks have more than 1 serving. So, if you had the whole bottle, you’re definitely taking in more sugar than you think.

I’m not saying to abandon the whole idea of having zero calorie drinks at all. I like the fact that I can have my cake and eat it too, sometimes. Everything is fine in moderation right? But, drinking my calories does not give me that much pleasure so I would not do it too often. I guess this article talks more to those people who have the habit of drinking their calories or do not think about them. Just remember, everything is good in moderation with moderation being defined as maybe one sugary drink once or twice a month or a single serving of a zero calorie drink once a day. Really, your body will thank you later. We can increase the quality of our lives by simply eating less. I see that as the easiest thing we can do right now to lengthen our life spans. Why not do it now?

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Nutrition Plan Hacks to Control Your Calories

Nutrition Plan Hacks to Control Your Calories

Posted on 18. Apr, 2010 by .

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Lately, I have been thinking about how I can save even more calories but still enjoy my favorite foods. This idea came to me when I still wanted to eat something sweet while watching “Gran Torino” which is a great movie, by the way. This lead me to think about my top 3 nutrition hacks so I can still eat without sending my calorie intake through the roof.

Reducing Calorie Content But Not the Volume

I learned this strategy from following the Precision Nutrition (PN) plan when I’m not fasting. Basically, you can eat the same food and reduce the amount of calories in it without reducing the volume. For example, if you already eat plain yogurt with your fruits, you can switch to fat-free, plain yogurt instead. One cup of regular plain yogurt has about 120 calories while the same amount of fat-free yogurt is about 90 calories. You can also apply this idea to foods like whole milk vs. fat-free milk, white rice vs. brown rice, cottage cheese, etc. This is also a great trick for your eyes and your tummy because it usually can’t tell the difference in volume but you’re still saving calories.

Heather's Farro Recipe from 101cookbooks.com

Heather's Farro Recipe from 101cookbooks.com

Eat High Protein Grains

Eating high protein grains is one nutrition strategy is especially helpful for vegetarians or for people who are looking to add more protein into their nutrition plans but still want to enjoy their carbohydrates. Here is a list of grains that have more protein compared to rice at a serving of 1/4 cup:

  • Farro – this a whole grain much like barley and wheatberries but it has 6 g of protein per 1/4 cup compared to brown rice which has 1 g of protein for the same amount. Check out this great Farro recipe from www.101cookbooks.com
  • Quinoa – we are all familiar with Quinoa by now. This grain has 7 g of protein.
  • Grain Amaranth – another grain that originated from Asia and South Americas. This grain has 7 g of protein.
  • Hemp Bread – this is a lot like Sprouted Grain Breads but is a nice change if you’ve been eating those for awhile. You can find these at the bread aisle of your local grocery store. Each slice of bread has 100 calories and 6.5 g of protein. If you want to see if your local grocery store carries them, go to www.frenchmeadow.com and click on store locator.

When you eat high protein grains, you are also eating less carbs. That was obvious but I thought I’d still mention it.

Keeping it sweet but Reducing Sugar Content

So, I ended up getting a medium cup of French Vanilla cappuccino from 7-eleven to enjoy with Gran Torino. But, when I started giving up a lot of my sweets addiction, this cappuccino just tasted too sweet for me. So, to lessen the sweetness, I’d only pour the French Vanilla about a third of a cup and then fill up the rest with regular or decaffeinated coffee. This is a happy medium for me because I so love the flavor of French Vanilla but didn’t want all the added sugar. I haven’t actually applied this strategy to other foods since I try to avoid sugary stuff most of the time but if you want to sweeten things up without jacking up the calories, adding stevia is always a good option.

There you go, nutrition hacks that you can apply right away while still enjoying your favorite foods and not feeling like you’re depriving yourself. Thanks for reading my post and I look forward to your comments.

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The Sacred Heart Diet Review

The Sacred Heart Diet Review

Posted on 11. Apr, 2010 by .

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A few weeks ago, one my clients brought to my attention a diet called, “The Sacred Heart Diet.” She said she was really interested in trying it out so I did some research for her to see if it’s any good. I also told her that I will do it with her to give her support if ever she decides to do it. From my research, I found that the diet consists of eating vegetable soup with fruits for 7 days and then adding protein in the form of steak towards the end of it. It claims that you can lose 10-17 lbs during your first week so it really caught my attention.

It sounds easy on paper but having gotten used to eating protein with every meal, I found it particularly difficult because I was hungry all the time. The other thing that made it more difficult for me was the fact that eating only fruits and vegetables, do not make me full. In fact, it stimulates my stomach juices even more so that I get hungry after only a few minutes of eating the soup. It was probably the hardest diet I’ve ever tried! In short, I ended up not doing the diet for the whole 7 days and gave up after the third or fourth day. I told my client that I gave up hoping that she’ll continue doing it without me which she did.

But, I don’t just shove this experience to the side and say that it was a waste of my time. I always learn a few things from any experience that I have. Some things I’ve realized before but I remembered them during this experience. Here are a few of them:

  • Diets are very personal. This means that what may not work for me, may work for you. You wouldn’t know if it will work for you unless you give it a good try.
  • I can cook the vegetable soup, which is quite delicious, during the weekend and eat it with my meals and protein throughout the week. This helps me eat more vegetables!
  • Protein really does keep me full and satisfied for a longer period of time compared to having a meal without it.
  • I need a lot of food varieties in my diet. Otherwise, my com
  • Diets are a great way to jump start your weight loss and learn new, healthy habits to incorporate into your daily life.
  • If you’re curious about the vegetable soup recipe, here it is:

    “The Sacred Heart Diet Vegetable Soup”

    • 1 or 2 cans of stewed tomatoes
    • 3 plus large green onions
    • 1 large can of beef broth (no fat)
    • 1 pkg. Lipton Soup mix (chicken noodle)
    • 1 bunch of celery
    • 2 cans green beans
    • 2 lbs. Carrots
    • 2 Green Peppers

    Cooking Instructions:

    Season with salt, pepper curry, parsley, if desired, or bouillon, hot or Worcestershire sauce. Cut veggies in small to medium pieces. Cover with water. Boil fast for 10 minutes. Reduce to simmer and continue to cook until vegetables are tender.

    If you’d like to get more information about this diet, go to www.everydiet.org for more details. Here is another article that mentions the diet which was written by Mark Sisson over at www.marksdailyapple.com. To its credit, I actually lost 2 lbs during my first 3 days and so did my client which I think are mostly water weight. Then, my client’s husband (who was doing the diet with her) lost 8 lbs during his first 3 days.

    With enough motivation and will power, I probably would have finished the diet but, in my case, I know of better, less miserable ways to lose fat so I didn’t be unnecessarily miserable for the heck of it…lol. Have you tried this diet before or heard of somebody else’s experience with it? If so, let me know by leaving a comment or opinion below.

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    How to Decrease Food Cravings and Hunger while on a Diet

    How to Decrease Food Cravings and Hunger while on a Diet

    Posted on 23. Mar, 2010 by .

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    If you find yourself constantly hungry and/or craving something while on a calorie restricted diet, a tiny tweak in your nutrition plan might make all the difference. On the topic of fat loss, a lot of people tend to think that simply reducing the amount of calories you eat while eating the same foods will do the trick. This strategy may work for a little bit but not for long because you will feel hungry and have cravings especially if your nutrition plan consists of high calorie, junk foods that lack nutrients. Believe me, I have tried.

    As I tried to reduce the amount of food that I ate, my hunger and cravings became intense especially on the days that I exercised. I thought about giving up exercise altogether so I won’t be so hungry but I didn’t think it was a good idea. So, I researched a way to control them through my diet. One of the studies that I found was about the role of protein in satiety. In this study, the researchers found that high protein diets gave the dieters more satisfaction thereby reducing their cravings and hunger.

    The investigators of this study, which was done at Arizona State University, was intrigued by a government, randomized clinical trial which showed that dieters following the Atkins diet showed greater weight loss at 3 to 6 months. But the Atkins’ high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate approach presented a problem with the subjects showing an increase in LDL and total cholesterol levels. So, the research compared two groups with one group on a high-carbohydrate, low-fat plan and the second one on a high-protein, low fat plan for 6 weeks.

    At the end of the 6-week trial, the subjects’ body weight and fat mass were reduced significantly at about 6 and 10%, respectively, for both groups. At the same time, their BMI fell considerably while their total cholesterol levels were unaffected, also for both groups. In short, there was not much of a difference in results between the two diets. Both groups were also able to maintain their average weight loss until 4 weeks after the study has ended. The pattern of weight loss was also very similar over time. I was definitely surprised, maybe even a little disappointed, because I predicted that the high-protein diet had a huge advantage against the high-carbohydrate diet.

    It was not until the subjects were asked about satiety that I knew I found a solution. The people in the high-protein, low-fat group reported that they felt more satisfied and content with their food during the first 4 weeks of the trial whereas the other group did not feel satisfied until the last two weeks of the experiment. In short, you can get similar results from both diets but you can easily follow a high-protein, low fat plan because you do not have to deal with hunger and cravings all the time.

    When Dieting Gets Easier

    As I applied what I learned from this study to my own diet, I was amazed at what a big difference it made. As soon as I added more protein to each meal and obtained my carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, my hunger pains went away. In addition, my cravings have been greatly reduced. Before, my days consisted of waiting non-stop for my next meal because I felt so hungry that I could eat a donkey! I could not focus on my everyday tasks because all I thought about was food and most of my time was spent looking up dessert recipes on the internet. I was going crazy until I started a high-protein diet. Even during the first 2 days, I felt more like myself. I felt normal again. It was as if I was not even struggling even though I was on a calorie-restricted plan.

    Now, I love carbohydrates. Who doesn’t? They give you a warm, fuzzy feeling after you’ve had a stressful day at work but then they also make you crash which sets off a vicious cycle of hunger and cravings. Remember those after-lunch naps you wish you took? Yes, it’s from those carbohydrates. I cannot say that I will never eat a high-carbohydrate meal again but after feeling the difference in my energy levels and my satisfaction with food on a high-protein diet, I was sold!
    If I have not sold you on the idea of eating a high-protein diet yet, think of a time when you had a nice piece of steak. Do you remember how full you felt? You probably did not think about food for a few hours either and you probably said no to dessert. While most steak cuts are high in fat, the feeling is about the same after eating a high-protein meal. Just keep in mind that high-fat meats would not fit in this picture because of high-fat means also high calories. Which means that you want to save your calories as much and you can control that my eating lean meats. Plus, your heart will thank you later.

    So, the next time you plan your meals for the week, look for some nice lean meats that you can season with different spices. Lean meats are great because they can serve as a blank canvass so you can experience different flavors. Add in some nice green vegetables and you got an appetizing meal. Try doing this for a few weeks and you will reach your fitness goals in no time and most likely, with less worries about when the next hunger pain or craving will start again.

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    My Second 20 days on the Elimination Diet and FREE Recipe

    My Second 20 days on the Elimination Diet and FREE Recipe

    Posted on 17. Nov, 2009 by .

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    Whenever I try something new in training or nutrition, I am always skeptical about the results that I will get from it. But, I always keep an open mind and give the person who designed the program some merit for even coming up with one. In my mind I say that there has to be something that really worked for them to empower them to publish a book, e-book, or video program about it. As I approach my second 20 days on The Elimination Diet, it made me realize that this is definitely one of those programs that is worth your time and effort.

    If this is your first time reading my update, go to this post first.

    I have experienced so many things while I’m on this diet that I didn’t even expect to experience. My body is functioning as it should be and I didn’t even realize that it wasn’t! I actually talked about these things from my previous post but I wanted to elaborate on them a little bit more here:

    • No more sleepiness during the day – I must admit that the first 7 or so days without caffeine was difficult because I would have headaches and sleepiness. My usual wake-up-go-to is coffee whenever I need something to keep me awake during the day. But, on the 8th day, I started noticing that I am just able to stay awake without the after-lunch sleepiness even without coffee. What’s even better is I can go sleep as soon as I hit the bed and wake up feeling energized. Believe me, I couldn’t even go back to sleep once I’m awake even if I wanted to.

      I do think that this effect is not just from the coffee or lack thereof. Eliminating the sugar definitely helped me minimize the insulin spikes that trigger the sleepiness after I eat and also my cravings for sweets.

    • I feel satisfied – one of my very first fears before starting ED was the fact that I might give in to “banned foods.” I am glad to say that the Elimination Diet Cookbook has kept me satisfied – no hunger, no cravings. Even when I go out to restaurants or meetings, I am able to stay on track by simply asking how the foods are prepared and to take out certain ingredients.

      I’ve even found out that soy sauce contains wheat! So, I went to the local health food store to find a soy sauce alternative. To my delight, I found Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. I couldn’t even taste the difference between the two.

    • Stubborn fat still hasn’t returned – remember how I told you about the little “bump” I have on my lower abs? Well, I’m excited to report that it still hasn’t come back even though I haven’t been paying much attention to my calorie intake.

    Lastly, I actually haven’t weighed myself because I just don’t want to stress about it this time around. However, the Elimination Diet definitely passed “The Jeans Test.” Basically, I tried on the new skinny jeans that I bought after it just came out of the dryer. You know how your jeans seem to fit tighter after you just washed them? Well, I did wear my skinny jeans then and they still fit me perfectly. It’s like magic!

    Before I end this post, I wanted to share with you the dessert or breakfast recipe that has been my saving grace during this challenge. It is called “Orange Muffins” in the ED Cook Book but Dax also made an apple muffin version of it which I make about once a week. I hope Dax doesn’t get mad at me for publishing it so here it is:

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup mashed, ripe banana
    • ¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce
    • 1 tablespoon apple peel
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 ¼ cup rice flour
    • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch-free baking powder

    Directions

      In large bowl mix, bananas, apple peel, apple sauce, and oil. Add flour and baking
      powder. Blend well. Fill six 2 1/2 inch nonstick muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 375 for
      20-25 minutes (mine turns out good at 22 minutes). Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

    I basically make this whenever I need something to sink my teeth into or as a quick post workout breakfast. This recipe definitely taught me that I can still eat baked goods that will help me move closer to my goals (or stay where I’m at) without having to surrender to chocolate cake or other traditional fatty baked goods out there.

    I also realized the power that foods can have on our bodies which made me rethink a lot of my past habits. In terms of nutrition, this would be the true definition of “eating clean” especially if you eat your startches after a workout. Now I know for sure that food can definitely be a source of health. It is definitely the best source for preventing major diseases that our current lifestlyes are susceptible to.

    Read the conclusion of my elimination diet experience. In that last post, you can get tips about how to prepare and have a successful elimination diet experience.

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    3 Dessert Recipes that Will Make Your Mouth Water

    3 Dessert Recipes that Will Make Your Mouth Water

    Posted on 01. Oct, 2009 by .

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    A lot of people tend to think that they will have to be eating bland foods or take dessert out of the equation when they decide to lose weight.  The good news is, there are still healthy dessert recipes that you can make at home without the guilt or the bad effects on your waistline.

    I’ve compiled a list of my top 3 healthy dessert recipes below so you can start enjoying them too. Don’t worry, they’re very easy to make! There’s a free download towards the end of this post so make sure not to miss it.

    Rice Pudding

    Here’s a tasty little treat that is also well suited for that second jolt of fast-acting carbs and protein after your PWO shake. Or you can split it up for a couple of desserts following P+C meals.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup cooked basmati rice. The quality, fragrance, and taste of basmati are far superior to any other rice I’ve ever had. Sure the GI is higher than brown rice, but in this case the taste just doesn’t compare. That’s why I like to eat it as one of the post workout meals. Prepare the basmati rice in bulk by adding a cup of rinsed rice to 1.75 cups boiling water, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
    • 2 cups skim milk
    • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (try to find a brand that doesn’t taste like powdered chicken feet, and depending on the brand, you might add some Splenda to get the desired sweetness).
    • 2 tablespoons sugar-free instant Jell-O vanilla pudding

    Instructions:

    On medium-low heat, simmer the cooked rice in milk for 20 minutes or so, until rice bulks-up, cover and cool for a few minutes, then add the protein powder (and Splenda if necessary), and a dash of salt, stir, cover and put in fridge until it cools. Add Jell-O mix to cooled mixture, whip, and you’re all set.

    Macronutrient Profile:

    * K/cal: 478
    * Fat: 4 g
    * Carbs: 63g (2 fiber)
    * Protein: 47 g

    Blueberry Bran Muffins

    These little treats are made from low-GI carbs, so you don’t have to worry about eating one or two after a P+C meal. They also have a bit of flax meal to add moisture, and just a couple of polyunsats. I’ve been eating these for a while and loving them, so recently I gave them the final test by taking a batch to a dinner party. Success! They were reduced to crumbs, followed with compliments about their taste, rather than their ingredients.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup oat bran
    • ½ cup flax meal
    • 4 scoops protein powder, flavor of your choice (I like chocolate with this recipe).
    • 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
    • 1 cup granulated Splenda
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3 jumbo egg whites
    • 1 teaspoon maple extract
    • 2/3 cup water

    Instructions:

    Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the egg whites, extract, and water. Stir until mixed well. Scoop into a muffin pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350-degrees for 25 minutes.

    Makes 6 large muffins.

    Macronutrient Profile (each muffin):

    * K/cal: 176
    * Fat: 4 g (1s, 1m, 2p)
    * Carbs: 20g (4 fiber)
    * Protein: 21 g

    Blueberry Cheesecake

    Yes, you read this correctly…blueberry cheesecake! Just be careful with these things, as it is nearly impossible to put the cheesecake down after you’ve taken one bite. From my experience, and the stories of my friends who have made them, it’s almost impossible to keep an entire cheesecake around for longer than one day.

    Ingredients:

    Crust:

    • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
    • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
    • ¼ cup raw oat bran
    • 1 oz fat-free cream cheese, warmed in microwave
    • 1/3 cup water

    Cheesecake:

    • 2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
    • ½ package (52 g) powdered Jell-O instant pudding, cheesecake flavor
    • 3 oz. fat-free cream cheese
    • 3 scoops strawberry whey protein powder*
    • 1 cup frozen blueberries and 4 tablespoons granulated Splenda (*see option 2 below before adding these at this stage)

    Instructions:

    To make the crust, mix crust ingredients in a large bowl. Stir this mixture until it is all the same consistency, then press into a 9-inch pie pan sprayed with Pam, stretching the crust up the sides of the pan.For the rest of the cake, put the other ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. You might have to blend it in smaller portions, depending on the power of your blender, but resist the temptation to add water, as this makes the cake soupy. Also, more Jell-O mix can be added for more desirable consistency. Pour the blender mixture into the crusted pan, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

    *Blueberry option 2: to make a ‘fancier’ cheesecake, thaw the blueberries, then stir the Splenda in with them, and use this as a topping for the cheesecake.

    Makes 6 slices.

    Macronutrient Profile (each slice):

    * 258 k/cal
    * Fat: 5 g (2s, 1m, 2p)
    * Carbs: 30 g (2 fiber)
    * Protein: 25 g

    A few notes about some of the dessert ingredients:

    Flax meal is simply ground flax seeds. Flax seeds are cheap as sin in bulk, and you can grind them at home with a hand-held coffee grinder. I usually grind them just before their used. If you want to make the meal in bulk, just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the fridge to preserve its freshness.

    Splenda is used as a low-calorie sweetener in many of these recipes, as I prefer its taste to other artificial sweeteners besides Stevia, but others can be used according to your preference. Splenda is not entirely carb-free, since they use a bit of maltodextrin to give it texture. There are 24 carbs in 1 cup of granulated Splenda. This was calculated into the nutritional information for the relevant recipes.

    So there you have it. These meals should give you enough variety to avoid the tuna can doldrums. Bon appetit!

    gourmetdesserts

    For more healthy dessert recipes, download the free Gourmet Nutrition Desserts here

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