Sunday, July 29, 2018

How To Break A Fast Safely

Don’t ‘Just Wing It’

There are many reasons why people do intermittent fasting – for general health, increased longevity, better fat loss, boosting muscle growth and improving cognition.

But no matter what the reason for you is – you still want to follow a few guidelines when breaking your fast. Here’s why:

  While fasting, your metabolism is in a distinct state in which you undergo many hormonal and physiological adaptations, such as increased growth hormone, elevated luteinizing hormone, which promotes testosterone and you also trigger autophagy – the cells’ self-digestive mechanism.

  While fasting you’re also in a state of ketosis, which makes your liver convert fatty acids into ketones and energy.

  Most importantly, your intestines and gut have adapted to the abstinence of food, thus preserving digestive processes.

So, to not put too much stress on your gut or to not cause excess inflammation, you can’t just start eating whatever.

What Not to Do When Breaking a Fast

Research has also shown that consuming high amounts of carbohydrates may cause an abrupt weight gain. The reason for that is sodium retention.

While fasting you excrete a lot of water and refeeding on carbs causes antidiuresis of potassium and sodium. You’ll get bloated but you may also have an energy crash of insulin.

Therefore, you want to ease into eating the right foods at the right time when breaking your fast.

It also depends on how long you’ve been fasting for. If you’re coming off a 5 day fast, then you need to be more patient than you would when just doing daily intermittent fasting with 16 hours fasted.

Step By Step Guide to Breaking a Fast

Let’s start off with the average situation where you’ve been fasting for about 16-18 hours and you’re nearing the finish line.

During your fast you can drink non-caloric beverages like water, tea orcoffee. Now that you’re about to break the fast, you want to consume something that stimulates the digestive tract without releasing insulin.

•  Apple cider vinegar is perfect for this – it balances healthy pH levels, kills off bad bacteria in your gut, stabilizes blood sugar and improves overall health. You can drink a glass of apple cider vinegar during your fast. But it’s a great drink for breaking it as well. Here’s what I do before eating any meals.

2 tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar
1 half of lemon squeezed into hot water
1 pinch of cinnamon for better blood sugar stabilization
1 pinch of sea salt

Alternatively, you can do this without apple cider vinegar as well and just use hot lemon water.In any case, you want the citric acid from lemons to promote the creation of digestive enzymes in the gut before you eat.

What to Drink When Breaking a Fast

After that, you can also drink some bone broth. Bone broth is amazing and super good for you because it has a ton of electrolytes but it’s also packed with collagen.

•  Collagen protein is what most of your body is made of – your joints, nails, hair, skin – it helps to keep you more youthful and elastic.

•  Drinking bone broth after your fast will also help you to absorb the other electrolytes and minerals a lot better. Your gut has been cleaning house for a while and is now ready to utilize the nutrients from the bone broth as well as the foods you’ll be consuming afterward.

If you’ve been fasting for over 20 hours, then it’s a good idea to drink some bone broth or some soup before you eat anything solid.If you’ve fasted for just 16 hours then it’s not that important but still a good idea.
BONUS TIP: Add cinnamon to bone broth – it’s magnificent.

An alternative for bone broth is also fish broth.  You cook up all the leftover bits of the fish, like the head, the fins and bones so you could get all those extra omega-3 fatty acids, which are tremendously good for your brain and heart health. I mean, don’t just throw away these foods when there are still so many unused nutrients on them.

Break Your Fast and Stay In Ketosis

If you don’t have access to bone broth but you still want to give yourself some immediate energy without crashing, then you can also consume some MCT oilMCTs get converted into energy faster because the fatty acids in it bypass the liver and go straight to the blood stream. This is beneficial because you’ll also prolong the effects of fat burning and stay in ketosis for longer even after having consumed calories.

After you’ve drunk your lemon water and maybe bone broth, then you should wait for about 15-30 minutes to let your gut absorb the nutrients.  You might feel your intestines waking up, which is a good thing.

What to Eat When Breaking a Fast

As we know, immediately starting to eat carbohydrates may cause you to hold onto excess water weight, especially if you’re consuming them with a lot of sodium. A spike of insulin will help you shuttle nutrients into your cells but also has some negative side-effects, such as sleepiness and drowsiness.

It is recommended that your first meal should be something small and low glycemic, no matter what diet you’re on. This will keep you in a semi-fasted state because of the non-existent rise in blood sugar.

You don’t have to worry about muscle loss either because ketones are protein sparing. Fasting already puts you into mild ketosis, but if you drank bone broth or MCTs, then you’re not going to cannibalize your own body.

Some examples would be:

•  2-3 eggs, half an avocado, some nuts and spinach
•  1 can of sardines with some salad and olive oil
•  We don't recommend you break your fast with red meat because it’s more difficult to       digest than eggs or fish. Meat products should be eaten as your second meal.

Breaking Your Fast With Fruit

Fruit is made of fructose, which is sugar that can be metabolized only by the liver. It can’t be used to replenish muscle glycogen. Your liver can store 100-150 grams of glycogen, which gets depleted quite quickly during a 24 hour fast.  So, the best time to eat fruit ever is when your liver glycogen is empty i.e. when fasting or while exercising. Because if your liver is already full and you’re eating fruit, then that fructose will be stored as fat and you may even get fatty liver disease.

If your liver glycogen gets depleted, you’ll be burning ketones and you don’t need to replenish your stores with fructose. You’ll be actually better off with continuing to stay in this fat burning state, rather than breaking it with sugar that you don’t need.  Best options for fruit are those that are low glycemic and have more fiber, like apples, berries or pears.

How Much to Eat When Breaking a Fast

The first meal should be still relatively small. In total, it should be around 500 calories. Unless you’re coming straight from a workout.  If you’ve exercised on an empty stomach, then you would want to consume more calories to shuttle amino acids into the cells and promote protein synthesis.

•  If you’re on the ketogenic diet, then the best foods would be eggs because they also have a lot of leucine. Leucine is the amino acid that’s responsible for muscle growth the most.
•  If you’re on a regular diet that doesn’t restrict carbs, then it’s actually a good idea to eat some carbs because that insulin response would be used for muscle building not getting fat. Great choices are rice cakes, a ripe banana or some potatoes.

What you eat after your first meal depends on what diet protocol you follow and how long your eating window is. But you really don’t need any more than 2-3 meals to consume your calories.

Monday, July 23, 2018

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.  It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.  Most people already "fast" every day, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer.  You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm.  Then you're technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.

Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually fairly easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast.  Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time.  No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages.

Why Fast?

Humans have actually been fasting for thousands of years.
Sometimes it was done out of necessity, when there simply wasn't any food available.  In other instances, it was done for religious reasons. Various religions, including Islam, Christianity and Buddhism, mandate some form of fasting.
Humans and other animals also often instinctively fast when sick.
Clearly, there is nothing "unnatural" about fasting, and our bodies are very well equipped to handle extended periods of not eating.

All sorts of processes in the body change when we don't eat for a while, in order to allow our bodies to thrive during a period of famine. It has to do with hormones, genes and important cellular repair processes.  When fasted, we get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a drastic increase in human growth hormone.

Many people do intermittent fasting in order to lose weight, as it is a very simple and effective way to restrict calories and burn fat.  Others do it for the metabolic health benefits, as it can improve various different risk factors and health markers.
There is also some evidence that intermittent fasting can help you live longer. Studies in rodents show that it can extend lifespan as effectively as calorie restriction.

Some research also suggests that it can help protect against diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and others.  Other people simply like the convenience of intermittent fasting.  It is an effective "life hack" that makes your life simpler, while improving your health at the same time. The fewer meals you need to plan for, the simpler your life will be.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has become very trendy in the past few years, and several different types/methods have emerged.

Here are some of the most popular ones:

The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day, for example by only eating between noon and 8pm.

Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, don't eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).

The 5:2 Diet: During 2 days of the week, eat only about 500–600 calories.

5 Tips for Beginners

1) Start out with a 12 hour fasting window, which also provides a 12 hour eating window.  As your body gets used to fasting for 12 hours you can increase the fasting time.

2) During the fasting window make sure you are in a true fasted state.  This means you should not consume anything that has calories and that is going to create an insulin response.  This includes creamers in your coffee or honey in your tea.  

3) Ease into your eating window.  Do not gorge yourself during that first meal.  Plan out your caloric intake during your eating window.  This also does not give you permission to eat junk food.  Keep your focus on whole foods that will nourish your body after the fasted state. Eat to satisfaction and not to fullness.

4) Think and plan ahead if your workout falls during your fasted state.  If you have a hard workout or long workout plan a carbohydrate for your last meal before going into the fasting stage.  Play around with your food and workout schedule and allow yourself some flexibility.

5) Make sure you drink plenty of water.  Stay hydrated to help your body flush out its system. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

4 Dangerous Effects Of Artificial Sweeteners

For some time now, eating sugar-sweetened foods and beverages has been identified as the cause of any number of negative health prospects, including being overweight or even obese, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Because of these findings, many health care experts have proposed that non-caloric, high-intensity sweeteners (such as saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose) provide, if not a beneficial alternative to sugar, at least a less damaging one. Many people switched from regular soft drinks to 'diet' versions of the same and started checking the labels on other foods and beverages to make sure they were made with something other than sugar.

Yet many other claims --- confusing claims --- have been cited over the years. Studies spanning the past 40 years have suggested alternately that sugar-substitutes may be 'potentially helpful,' 'potentially harmful,' or have 'unclear effects' with regard to your health. New evidence, in fact, states that people who frequently consume sugar substitutes may be at an increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Truth is, when it comes to artificially-sweetened beverages, as few as one of these drinks per day may be enough to significantly increase the risk for a number of health problems.

Weight Gain

The San Antonio Heart Study documented weight change in men and women over a seven- to eight-year period and offers evidence that weight gain and obesity were significantly greater in those drinking diet beverages compared with those who did not drink them. In another study, where the participants were adolescents, intake of artificially-sweetened beverages was associated with increased body mass index and increased body fat percentage in males and females at a two-year follow-up. Meanwhile, in Australia, where drinking artificially-sweetened beverages has increased while drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has declined, the rate of obesity has not decreased but been on the rise.

Metabolic syndrome

Various studies have reported greater risk of metabolic syndrome for consumers of diet soft drinks. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, and increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and other diseases. Recent studies suggest that those who drink artificially-sweetened beverages may have double the risk of metabolic syndrome, compared with non-consumers. In studies that compared the risk of metabolic syndrome in people who drank either sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened beverages, the magnitude of the increased risk was frequently similar for both regular and diet beverage consumers.

Type 2 diabetes

In a European study, the risk for developing type 2 diabetes more than doubled for participants in the highest quartile of diet beverage consumption, compared with non-consumers. Of course, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Data from the Nurses' Health Study also indicated that risk for type 2 diabetes was amplified in those consuming at least one diet drink or sugar-sweetened drink per day; the same evidence was found by a European investigation into cancer and nutrition. Importantly, a pronounced spike in the risk of type 2 diabetes related to drinking artificially-sweetened beverages was seen even in those participants who were at a normal weight at the start of the study.

Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease

Within given age groups, the risk for coronary heart disease was significantly elevated in women who consumed more than two artificially-sweetened beverages per day or more than two sugar-sweetened beverages per day. Similarly, another study shows the risk of coronary heart disease was significantly elevated by both types of drinks. Consuming at least one artificially-sweetened beverage daily significantly elevated risk for hypertension for women in a number of studies; the same effect was found when the women in the study drank sugar-sweetened beverages. Results from another study indicated that daily consumption of artificially-sweetened beverages showed significantly increased risk of vascular events, equal in magnitude to daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.


Taken together, findings from all of the studies suggest that consuming artificial sweeteners is just as bad for you as sugar... and artifical sweeteners may even exacerbate the negative effects of sugar. Meanwhile, both the availability and the consumption of artificial sweeteners have been steadily increasing in the U.S. Roughly one-third of adults and 15 percent of children aged two to 17 years old report consumption of low-calorie sweeteners in the years 2007 and 2008.  The current public health message to limit the intake of sugars needs to be expanded to limit intake of all sweeteners, not just sugars.

One interesting hypothesis as to the reason for these negative effects is that consuming sweet-tasting but noncaloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages interferes with learned responses and your natural ability to adjust to glucose and energy and create an internal equilibrium. Frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have counterintuitive effects that mess with your metabolism. In fact, people who regularly consume artificial sweeteners show altered activation patterns in the brain's pleasure centers in response to sweet taste, suggesting that these products may not satisfy the desire for sweets. Studies in mice and rats have shown that consumption of noncaloric sweeteners dampens their physiological responses to sweet taste and causes the animals to overindulge in calorie-rich, sweet-tasting food and so pack on extra pounds.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Natural Remedies for Menopause Relief

Menopause is a completely natural biological process, and therefore not a problem to solve. And although it concludes the time in a woman’s life for fertility, you can stay healthy, vital and sexual through your 50s and well beyond. That being said, there is generally a hormonal shift that occurs in women during menopause that may lead to mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia and other common symptoms.

What types of things can you do to help get find relief from menopause symptoms?
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that in most women, symptoms such as night sweats will decrease over time and then often go away completely without any treatment, including hormone replacement drugs. As the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care puts it, “Menopause is not an illness. It is normal for hormone levels to fall in middle age. These hormones do not need to be replaced.” 

Natural remedies for menopause symptoms — meaning those that don’t involve taking hormone replacement therapy drugs — are safe and can be helpful during this transition phase to decrease symptom severity and duration. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, taking certain beneficial supplements to balance hormones, and using natural herbal treatments, such as black cohosh and progesterone cream.

The Most Common Menopause Symptoms

Women can experience a variety of symptoms and conditions related to changes in sex hormone levels and aging. Some of the most common menopause symptoms include: 

Irregular periods: As perimenopause begins (the period before menopause technically starts), periods can come and go, plus get heavier or lighter at times. This can sometimes continue for several years during menopause

Hot flashes and night sweats
Mood swings, irritability, anxiety or depressive symptoms
Vaginal dryness and decreased sex drive
Increased abdominal fat and weight gain
Insomnia and changes in sleep quality
Thinning hair and dryer skin
Going to the bathroom more often
Breast changes (including breasts becoming smaller or losing volume)
Changes in the uterus, ovaries and cervix
For some, a higher risk for certain other age-related diseases (including cardiovascular diseases, dementia and osteoporosis)

The Causes of Menopause

Wondering what causes symptoms like hot flashes, or how you can stop insomnia or night sweats?

Menopause is caused by hormonal changes, including altered levels of reproductive hormones including: gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen (three types including estrone, estridiol and estriol), progesterone and testosterone. 
Menopause is a complex biological process, but the most significant changes taking place in a woman body during this time are that there’s increasing loss of ovarian follicles (called follicular astresia) and, therefore, a decreasing amount of estrogen being produced. Estrogen levels start to drop 6–12 months before menopause (during perimenopause, usually in the late 30s and 40s) and continue throughout the menopause process.

Natural Treatment for Menopause

Eat Foods that Help Manage Menopause Symptoms

When trying to balance hormones and reduce menopause symptoms, your diet should include plenty of essential minerals and healthy fats healthy fats.  Filling up on the following foods which are “hormone-balancing,” nutrient-dense and unprocessed can help you eliminate your intake of empty calories and manage weight gain.
Keep in mind that you might need to consume less calories overall in order to maintain your weight as you get older. Due to a decrease in muscle mass and slowing of your metabolism, it’s more important than ever to limit processed foods and focus on eating a clean diet. 

Foods that can help manage menopause symptoms include:

Organic fruits and vegetables: These contain dietary fiber to manage your appetite, antioxidants to slow the aging process and phytosterols that can help balance hormones.

Cruciferous vegetables: Vegetables in the cruciferous family such as broccoli, cabbage and kale contain indole-3-carbinol, which naturally helps to balance estrogen levels. These veggies are also high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and electrolytes that are important for blood pressure and heart health.

High-fiber foods: Fiber is important for cardiovascular and digestive health, plus maintaining a healthy weight. Some studies have even found that diets higher in fiber might help to balance production of estrogen. High-fiber diets are associated with less weight gain, healthier cholesterol levels and reduced constipation. Some of the best sources include nuts, seeds, legumes/beans, ancient grains, avocado, veggies and fruit.

Natto: Fermented soy like natto contains a phytoestrogen that can help balance hormones. However, avoid this if you have had estrogen-positive breast cancer in the past.

Phytoestrogen food: Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens that can mimic the effects of natural hormones your body produces. Their effects are controversial, so the research on their benefits or risks can seem overwhelming and conflicting. However, a large variety of studies have proved these dietary estrogens actually help some women during menopause by reducing cancer risk, reducing night flashes, protecting the heart and making a decrease in natural estrogen feel less drastic.

Omega-3 fats: Omega-3 fats from fish and flaxseed can protect the heart, promote smooth skin and help to counteract inflammation from omega-6 fats (found mostly in refined oils and low quality meat). Some of the best sources include wild-caught salmon, halibut, sardines, mackerel and anchovies. Studies show that frequently consuming omega-3s facilitates in hormone production and might help to prevent preeclampsia, postpartum depression menopausal problems, 
postmenopausal osteoporosis, heart complications, depression and breast cancer. 

Healthy fats and cold-pressed oils: It’s true that fats have more calories than protein or carbohydrates do, but they are also the building blocks for hormone production, keep inflammation levels low, boost your metabolism and promote satiety that is important for preventing weight gain. Unrefined oils provide essential vitamin E that helps regulate estrogen production. Look for virgin coconut oil, palm oil, extra-virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil. Other sources of healthy fats include avocado, coconut milk, nuts, seeds and wild seafood.

Probiotic foods: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can actually improve your production and regulation of key hormones like insulin, ghrelin and leptin. They’re even capable of raising immune function and protecting cognitive functioning. The best sources include yogurt, kefir, cultured veggies such as sauerkraut or kimchi, kombucha and other fermented foods.

Water: Aim for 8 glasses daily to help replace fluid lost from hot flashes and to decrease bloating.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Lose Weight With Creative Visualization

It is a known fact that thoughts and emotions affect the body for better or worse, depending on your predominant thoughts and emotions. Negative thinking, stress, fear, excitement, worry and anger hurt the body. Under these conditions the body releases toxins into the blood, which affect it adversely.

Positive thinking, happiness, love and confidence heal, strengthen and energize the body.

You can use the connection between the mind and the body to your advantage. The subconscious mind accepts, and treats both real conditions and mentally imagined conditions as real. This means that if you visualize yourself as being slim, your subconscious mind will accept what you visualize as true, and will act to make your body conform to your mental image.

Losing weight with the help of creative visualization can be termed as a "mental diet". Of course, the chances of success will be greater, if in addition to visualization you reduce the amount of food you eat, follow a diet and exercise your body.

Tips for losing weight through visualization:

# Two or three times a day, sit down for several minutes in a quiet place, and visualize your body as you wish it to be. Leave your worries, doubts and other thoughts behind, and concentrate on what you are doing.

# See yourself slim and beautiful, with your ideal weight. Forget how you look now. You are creating a new reality. See yourself at the beach or pool wearing a swimming suit. See how gorgeous you look. Imagine yourself wearing all those tight clothing that you have always wanted to wear.

# Visualize your family and friends complimenting you about how gorgeous your body looks and how slim you look now. Look at the whole scene as real, and as happening right now at the present moment, not in the future.

# You can construct in your mind any other scene you wish. You can see yourself exercising, dancing, with friends, with your husband or wife, at work, etc. See yourself moving and in action. Hear people complimenting you about your slim body, and see their admiring glances. In short, make the mental image as real as possible.

# Construct in your mind images that ignite your emotions. Make them alive and colorful. Make the scenes in your mind interesting and real, and see yourself in each scene as slim, the way you will look after you lose weight.

# Never visualize that you are disgusted with food or with eating, and do not develop a loathing for any kind of food. By visualizing your body as you wish it to look, your subconscious mind will direct you to eat the appropriate food in the right quantities.

# While visualizing, and after finishing your visualization session, don't tell yourself: "well, it is all nonsense, I cannot lose weight". If you say these words you destroy all the work you have done. When thoughts of disbelief crawl into your mind do not listen to them. Let only thoughts of your ideal body shape enter and pass through your mind.

As in everything else in life, persistence is important.

Creative visualization can help you lose weight in a most natural way.
It can make you desire to reduce the quantities of food that you eat.
Your body can be taught to be satisfied with smaller quantities of food.
Creative visualization can attract to you the diet that suits you most.
It might lead you to desire to participate in some physical exercises that will reduce your weight.

The way you think affects your body. Think on what you want to achieve, not what you want to avoid. Think about how you want to look, not about being overweight. Visualize your body as you want it to look, not as it looks now. Do not concern yourself too much with what to eat or not to eat, but with how you want your body to be. Persist with your efforts, and you will start seeing results.

It is most important to believe what you visualize. Forget past failures to lose weight and reject disbelief, doubts and negative thoughts. Keep projecting your ideal figure on the screen of your mind, and your disbelief and inner resistance will begin to fade away.