Monthly Archives: February 2015

Why Gluten May be Bad For You

Awareness of the negative health effects of gluten has increased in the past few years.One 2013 survey shows that a third of Americans are actively trying to eliminate gluten from their diets.But gluten-free is more than just the latest fad… there are multiple studies showing that gluten can cause harmful effects.

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Here are some reasons to avoid gluten.

What is Gluten?

Before we continue, let me briefly explain what gluten is.Gluten is a family of proteins, found in cereal grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley. Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is the most commonly consumed, by far.The two main proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin, of which gliadin appears to be the biggest offender.When flour is mixed with water, the gluten proteins cross-link to form a sticky network that is glue-like in consistency.If you’ve ever held wet dough in your hands, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.The name glu-ten is actually derived from these glue-like properties.Gluten makes the dough elastic, and gives bread the ability to rise when heated by trapping gas molecules inside. It also provides a satisfying, chewy texture.

1. Celiac Disease is on The Rise and Most People Remain Undiagnosed

Gluten is a protein composite found in several types of grains, including wheat, spelt, rye and barley.Gluten consists of two proteins… gliadin and glutenin. It is the gliadin part that people react negatively to.When flour is mixed with water, gluten forms a sticky cross-linked network of proteins, giving elastic properties to dough and allowing bread to rise when baked.Actually, the name gluten is derived from these glue-like properties.When gluten reaches the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells of the immune system, they mistakenly believe that it is coming from some sort of foreign invader, like a bacteria.In certain people who are sensitive to gluten, this causes the immune system to mount an attack against it.In celiac disease (the most severe form of gluten sensitivity), the immune system attacks the gluten proteins, but it also attacks an enzyme in the cells of the digestive tract called tissue transglutaminase.

Therefore, gluten exposure in celiacs causes the immune system to attack both the gluten as well as the intestinal wall itself. For this reason, celiac disease is classified as an autoimmune disease.The immune reaction can cause degeneration of the intestinal wall, which leads to nutrient deficiencies, various digestive issues, anemia, fatigue, failure to thrive as well as an increased risk of many serious diseases.Celiac disease is believed to afflict about 1% of people, but it may be more common (over 2%) in the elderly. There are also studies showing that the rate of celiac disease is increasing rapidly in the population.Keep in mind that a large percentage of celiacs don’t even have abdominal symptoms, making diagnosis on clinical grounds very difficult.The symptoms might manifest themselves in different ways, like fatigue, anemia… or something much worse, like a doubled risk of death in several studies.According to one study, over 80% of people with celiac disease don’t even know that they have it.

2. Gluten Sensitivity is Much More Common and Can Also Have Serious Consequences

You don’t need to have full-blown celiac disease to have adverse reactions to gluten.There is another disorder called gluten sensitivity (or gluten intolerance), which is much more common.Although there is no clear definition of gluten sensitivity, it basically means having some sort of adverse reaction to gluten and an improvement in symptoms on a gluten-free diet.If you have adverse reactions to gluten, but celiac disease is ruled out, then it is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.In non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is no attack on the body’s own tissues. However, many of the symptoms are similar to those in celiac disease, including bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea, as well as pain in the bones and joints.

Unfortunately… because there is no clear way of diagnosing gluten sensitivity, reliable numbers on how common it is are impossible to find.There are two sources showing that up to 6-8% people may have gluten sensitivity, based on anti-gliadin antibodies found in the blood.However, one gastroenterologist found that 11% of people had antibodies against gluten in their blood and 29% of people had antibodies against it in stool samples.About 40% of people carry the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes, which make people susceptible to gluten sensitivity.Given that there is no clear definition of gluten sensitivity, or a good way to diagnose it, the only true way of knowing is by eliminating gluten temporarily from your diet, then reintroducing it to see if you have symptoms.

3. Gluten May Cause Adverse Effects, Even in People Who Don’t Have Gluten Sensitivity

gluten2There are also studies showing that individuals with neither celiac disease nor diagnosed gluten sensitivity have adverse reactions to gluten.

In one of these studies, 34 individuals with irritable bowel syndrome were randomized to either a gluten-containing or a gluten-free diet.The group on the gluten-containing diet had more pain, bloating, stool inconsistency and fatigue compared to the other group .There are also studies showing that gluten can cause inflammation in the intestine and a degenerated intestinal lining.Gluten may also have negative effects on the barrier function of the intestine, allowing unwanted substances to “leak” through into the bloodstream.However, according to one study, this “leakiness” of the gut only happens in celiac patients.Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) involves various digestive issues with an unknown cause, afflicting about 14% of people in the U.S. According to the studies above, some cases of IBS may be either caused or exacerbated by gluten.Although this needs to be studied a lot more, it seems very clear that many more people than just celiac patients react negatively to gluten.

4. Many Brain Disorders Are Associated With Gluten and Patients See Dramatic Improvements on a Gluten-Free Diet

Even though gluten primarily works its “magic” in the gut, it can also have severe effects on the brain.Many cases of neurological illness may be caused and/or exacerbated by gluten consumption. This is called gluten-sensitive idiopathic neuropathy.In a study of patients with neurological illness of an unknown cause, 30 of 53 patients (57%) had antibodies against gluten in the blood.The main neurological disorder believed to be at least partly caused by gluten is cerebellar ataxia, a serious disease of the brain that involves an inability to coordinate balance, movements, problems talking, etc.

It is now known that many cases of ataxia are directly linked to gluten consumption. This is called gluten ataxia and involves irreversible damage to the cerebellum, a part of the brain that is important in motor control.Many studies show strong statistical associations between gluten consumption, gluten sensitivity and cerebellar ataxia. There is also a controlled trial showing that ataxia patients improve significantly on a gluten-free diet.There are several other brain disorders that respond well to a gluten-free diet:

  • Schizophrenia: A subset of schizophrenia patients sees massive improvements by removing gluten.
  • Autism: Several studies suggest that people with autism see improvements in symptoms on a gluten-free diet.
  • Epilepsy: There are several reports of patients with epilepsy improving significantly when removing gluten.

If you have any neurological problems and your doctor doesn’t have a clue what is causing them… then it makes sense to try removing gluten from your diet.

5. Wheat Gluten May be Addictive

There are many people who believe that wheat may be addictive.Getting unnatural cravings for things like bread or donuts is very common.Even though this is far from being proven, there are some studies suggesting that gluten may have addictive properties.When gluten is broken down in a test tube, the peptides that are formed can activate opioid receptors.These peptides (small proteins) are called gluten exorphins.

Exorphin = peptide that is not formed in the body, that can activate opioid receptors in the brain.

Given that gluten may cause increased permeability in the intestine (at least in celiac patients), some believe that these exorphins can find their way into the bloodstream, then reaching the brain and causing addiction.Gluten exorphins have been found in the blood of celiac patients .There is also some evidence from animal studies that these opioid-like peptides derived from gluten can make it into the brain.It is well known in various food addiction circles that wheat is one of the most addictive foods there are (right after sugar).

This doesn’t prove anything of course, but it’s something to keep in mind.

6. Gluten is Associated With Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are caused by the immune system attacking things that are found naturally in the body.There are many types of autoimmune diseases that affect various organ systems.All of them combined afflict about 3% of the population.Celiac disease is one type of autoimmune disease and celiac patients are at a drastically increased risk of getting other autoimmune diseases as well.Many studies have found strong statistical associations between gluten, celiac disease and various other autoimmune diseases, including Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple sclerosis and various others.

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Additionally, celiac disease is associated with a ton of other serious diseases, many of which have nothing to do with digestion.

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Green Tea

 

Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet.It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body.This includes improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits.

GREEN TEA1Here are some health benefits of green tea that have been confirmed in human research studies.

1. Green Tea Contains Various Bioactive Compounds That Can Improve Health

Green tea is more than just green liquid.Many of the bioactive compounds in the tea leaves do make it into the final drink, which contains large amounts of important nutrients.It is loaded with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants.These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases.

One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that are important for health.Try to choose a higher quality brand of green tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive levels of fluoride.That being said, even if you choose a lower quality brand, the benefits still far outweigh any risk.

2. Compounds in Green Tea Can Improve Brain Function and Make You Smarter

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Green tea does more than just keep you awake, it can also make you smarter.The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant.It doesn’t contain as much as coffee, but enough to produce a response without causing the “jittery” effects associated with too much caffeine.

What caffeine does in the brain is to block an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. This way, it actually increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.Caffeine has been intensively studied before and consistently leads to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory.However… green tea contains more than just caffeine. It also has the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.L-theanine increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.Studies show that caffeine and L-theanine can have synergistic effects. The combination of the two is particularly potent at improving brain function.Because of the L-theanine and the smaller dose of caffeine, green tea can give you a much milder and different kind of “buzz” than coffee.Many people report having more stable energy and being much more productive when they drink green tea, compared to coffee.

3. Green Tea Increases Fat Burning and Improves Physical Performance

If you look at the ingredients list for any fat burning supplement, chances are that green tea will be on there.This is because green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, in human controlled trials.In one study in 10 healthy men, green tea increased energy expenditure by 4% .

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Another study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.However, I’d like to point out that some studies on green tea don’t show any increase in metabolism, so the effects may depend on the individual.Caffeine itself has also been shown to improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues and making them available for use as energy.In two separate review studies, caffeine has been shown to increase physical performance by 11-12%, on average.

4. Antioxidants in Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Various Types of Cancer

Cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells. It is one of the world’s leading causes of death.It is well known that oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants can have a protective effect.Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants, so it makes perfect sense that it could reduce your risk of cancer, which it appears to do:

  • Breast cancer: A meta-analysis of observational studies found that whomen who drank the most green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer, the most common cancer in women.
  • Prostate cancer: One study found that men drinking green tea had a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men.
  • Colorectal cancer: A study of 69,710 Chinese women found that green tea drinkers had a 57% lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Multiple other observational studies show that green tea drinkers are significantly less likely to get various types of cancer.It is important to keep in mind that it may be a bad idea to put milk in your tea, because it can reduce the antioxidant value.

5. Green Tea May Protect Your Brain in Old Age, Lowering Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

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Not only can green tea improve brain function in the short term, it may also protect your brain in old age.Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in humans and a leading cause of dementia.Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and involves the death of dopamine producing neurons in the brain.Multiple studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons in test tubes and animal models, potentally lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

6. Green Tea Can Kill Bacteria, Which Improves Dental Health and Lowers Your Risk of Infection

The catechins in green tea have other biological effects as well.Some studies show that they can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections.Streptococcus mutans is the primary harmful bacteria in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay.Studies show that the catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of streptococcus mutans. Green tea consumption is associated with improved dental health and a lower risk of caries.

Another awesome benefit of green tea… multiple studies show that it can reduce bad breath.

7. Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes is a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide.This disease involves having elevated blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.

One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes.According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.

8. Green Tea May Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest causes of death in the world.Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases.This includes total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.Green tea also dramatically increases the antioxidant capability of the blood, which protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is one part of the pathway towards heart disease.Given the beneficial effects on risk factors, it is not surprising to see that green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

9. Green Tea Can Help You Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk of Becoming Obese

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Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area.One of these studies was a randomized controlled trial in 240 men and women that went on for 12 weeks. In this study, the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat.However, some studies don’t show a statistically significant increases in weight loss with green tea, so this needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

10. Green Tea May Decrease Your Risk of Dying and Help You Live Longer

Of course, we all have to die eventually. That is inevitable.However, given that green tea drinkers are at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, it makes sense that it could help you live longer.

In a study of 40,530 Japanese adults, those who drank the most green tea (5 or more cups per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period:

  • Death of all causes: 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men.
  • Death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men.
  • Death from stroke: 42% lower in women, 35% lower in men.

Another study in 14,001 elderly Japanese individuals aged 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period.

In order to feel better, lose weight and lower your risk of chronic diseases, then you might want to consider making green tea a regular part of your life.

Be Healthy,Be Safe

Health Benefits of Drinking Enough Water

Our bodies are around 60% water, give or take.It is commonly recommended to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule). Although there is little science behind this specific rule, staying hydrated is important.

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Here are some health benefits of drinking plenty of water.

1. Water Helps to Maximize Physical Performance

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If we do not stay hydrated, physical performance can suffer.This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat.Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water content. However, it is not uncommon for athletes to lose up to 6-10% of their water weight via sweat.This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, increased fatigue and make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high intensity exercise. This is not surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80% water.So, if you exercise intensely and tend to sweat, then staying hydrated can help you perform at your absolute best.

2. Hydration Has a Major Effect on Energy Levels and Brain Function

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Your brain is strongly influenced by hydration status.Studies show that even mild dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can impair many aspects of brain function.In a study of young women, fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration, and increased the frequency of headaches.

Another similar study, this time in young men, showed that fluid loss of 1.59% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.

A 1-3% fluid loss equals about 1.5-4.5 lbs (0.5-2 kg) of body weight loss for a 150 lbs (68 kg) person. This can easily occur through normal daily activities, let alone during exercise or high heat.Many other studies, ranging from children to the elderly, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory and brain performances.

3. Drinking Water May Help to Prevent and Treat Headaches

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Dehydration can trigger headaches and migraines in some individuals.Several studies have shown that water can relieve headaches in those who are dehydrated.However, this appears to depend on the type of headache.One study of 18 people found that water had no effect on the frequency of headaches, but did reduce the intensity and duration somewhat.

4. Drinking More Water May Help Relieve Constipation

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Constipation is a common problem, characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool.Increasing fluid intake is often recommended as a part of the treatment protocol, and there is some evidence to back this up.Low water consumption appears to be a risk factor for constipation in both young and elderly individuals.Carbonated water shows particularly promising results for constipation relief, although the reason is not entirely understood.

5. Drinking Water May Help Treat Kidney Stones

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Urinary stones are painful clumps of mineral crystal that form in the urinary system.The most common form is kidney stones, which form in the kidneys.There is limited evidence that water intake can help prevent recurrence in people who have previously gotten kidney stones.Higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys, which dilutes the concentration of minerals, so they are less likely to crystallize and form clumps.Water may also help prevent the initial formation of stones, but studies are required to confirm this.

6. Water Helps Prevent Hangovers

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A hangover refers to the unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking alcohol.Alcohol is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in. This can lead to dehydration .Although dehydration is not the main cause of hangovers, it can cause symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache and dry mouth.A good way to reduce hangovers is to drink a glass of water between drinks, and to have at least one big glass of water before going to bed.

7. Drinking More Water Can Help With Weight Loss

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Drinking plenty of water can help you lose weight.This is due to the fact that water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate.In two studies, drinking half a liter (17 ounces) of water was shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to 1.5 hours.This means that drinking 2 liters of water every day can increase your total energy expenditure by up to 96 calories per day.The timing is important too, and drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full, so that you eat fewer calories.

In one study, dieters who drank half a liter of water before meals lost 44% more weight, over a period of 12 weeks.It is actually best to drink water cold, because then the body will use additional energy (calories) to heat the water to body temperature.

3 Step Plan to Lose Weight Fast

There are many ways to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time.However, most of them require you to be hungry and unsatisfied.If you don’t have strong willpower, then hunger will cause you to give up on these plans quickly.

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The 3-step plan outlined here will:

  • Kill your appetite.
  • Make you lose weight fast, without being hungry.
  • Improve your health at the same time.

Step 1 – Eliminate Sugars and Starches

The most important part is to remove sugars and starches (carbs) from your diet.These are the foods that stimulate secretion of insulin the most. If you didn’t know already, insulin is the main fat storage hormone in the body.When insulin goes down, fat has an easier time getting out of the fat stores and the body starts burning fats instead of carbs.Another benefit of lowering insulin is that your kidneys shed excess sodium and water out of your body, which reduces bloat and unnecessary water weight.It is not uncommon to lose up to 10 pounds (sometimes more) in the first week of eating this way, both body fat and water weight.Cut the carbs, lower your insulin and you will start to eat less calories automatically and without hunger.Put simply, lowering your insulin puts fat loss on “autopilot.”

Step 2 – Eat Protein, Fat and Vegetables

Each one of your meals should include a protein source, a fat source and low-carb vegetables. Constructing your meals in this way will automatically bring your carb intake into the recommended range of 20-50 grams per day.

Protein Sources:

  • Meat – Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, bacon, etc.
  • Fish and Seafood – Salmon, trout, shrimps, lobsters, etc.
  • Eggs – Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.

The importance of eating plenty of protein can not be overstated. This has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day.High protein diets can also reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce desire for late-night snacking by half, and make you so full that you automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day… just by adding protein to your diet.When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients.

Low-Carb Vegetables:

 

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Swiss Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Celery

Don’t be afraid to load your plate with these low-carb vegetables. You can eat massive amounts of them without going over 20-50 net carbs per day.A diet based on meat and vegetables contains all the fiber, vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. There is no physiological need for grains in the diet.

Fat Sources:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Lard
  • Tallow

Eat 2-3 meals per day. If you find yourself hungry in the afternoon, add a 4th meal.Don’t be afraid of eating fat, trying to do both low-carb AND low-fat at the same time is a recipe for failure. It will make you feel miserable and abandon the plan.The best cooking fat to use is coconut oil. It is rich in fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are more fulfilling than others and can boost metabolism slightly.There is no reason to fear these natural fats, new studies show that saturated fat doesn’t raise your heart disease risk at all.To see how you can assemble your meals, check out this low carb meal plan.

Step 3 (Recommended) – Exercise 3-4 Times Per Week

You don’t need to exercise to lose weight on this plan, but it is recommended.The best option is to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Do a warm up, lift weights, then stretch.If you’re new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice.By lifting weights, you will burn a few calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight.Studies on low-carb diets show that you can even gain a bit of muscle while losing significant amounts of body fat.If lifting weights is not an option for you, then doing some easier cardio workouts like running, jogging, swimming or walking will suffice.

Other Weight Loss Tips to Make Things Easier and Faster

Pretty much all you have to do is the 3 steps:

  1. Eliminate high-carb foods.
  2. Eat Protein, Fat and Veggies.
  3. Exercise 3-4 times per week (recommended).

However, there are a few other tips that you may find useful if you want to speed things up even further.None of these are old wives’ tales, they all have scientific evidence to back them up.

Drink Water: One study shows that drinking water half an hour before meals helps you eat fewer calories and lose 44% more weight. It can also boost metabolism slightly.

Drink Coffee or Tea: If you’re a coffee or a tea drinker, then by all means drink as much as you want as both can raise your metabolism.

Eat Eggs For Breakfast: Studies show that people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs feel more full for the next 36 hours, and lose up to 65% more weight.

Eat Viscous Fiber: Viscous fiber supplements like glucomannan can help you lose weight, especially around the belly area.

Choose Weight Loss Friendly Foods: Certain foods are particularly useful for losing fat.

Use Smaller Plates: Studies show that people automatically eat less when they use smaller plates. Strange, but it works.

Sleep Like a Baby: Poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for weight gain and obesity, taking care of your sleep is important.

Over the years, scientists have come up a number of weight loss methods that are effective.

If you’re new to dieting, then things will probably happen quickly. The more weight you have to lose, the faster you will lose it.For the first few days, you might feel a bit strange. Your body has been burning carbs for all these years, it can take time for it to get used to burning fat instead.It is called the “low carb flu” and is usually over within a few days. Adding some sodium to your diet can help with this, such as dissolving a bouillon cube in a cup of hot water and drinking it.

After that, most people report feeling very good, positive and energetic. At this point you will officially have become a “fat burning beast.”

Despite the decades of anti-fat hysteria, the low-carb diet also improves your health in many other ways:

  • Blood Sugar tends to go way down on low-carb diets.
  • Triglycerides tend to go down.
  • Small, dense LDL (the bad) Cholesterol goes down.
  • HDL (the good) cholesterol goes up.
  • Blood pressure improves significantly.
  • Low-carb diets appear to be easier to follow than low-fat diets.

This is proven to make you lose about 2-3 times as much weight as a typical low-fat, calorie restricted diet.Another great benefit for the impatient folks is that the initial drop in water weight can lead to a big difference on the scale as early as the next morning.On this plan, you can eat good food until fullness and still lose a ton of fat. Be Healthy,Be Safe.

 

How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

Protein is incredibly important.If we don’t get enough from the diet, our health and body composition suffers.However, there are vastly different opinions on how much protein we actually need.Most official nutrition organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake.The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.

This amounts to:

  • 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
  • 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

Although this meager amount may be enough to prevent downright deficiency, studies show that it is far from sufficient to ensure optimal health and body composition.It turns out that the “right” amount of protein for any one individual depends on many factors… including activity levels, age, muscle mass, physique goals and current state of health.So… what amount of protein is optimal and how do lifestyle factors like weight loss, muscle building and activity levels factor in?

Let’s find out…

Protein – What is it and Why do we Care?

 

Proteins are the main building blocks of the body.They’re used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin.Proteins are also used to make enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various tiny molecules that serve important functions.Without protein, life as we know it would not be possible.Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are linked together like beads on a string. The linked amino acids form long protein chains, which are then folded into complex shapes.Some of these amino acids can be produced by the body, while we must get others from the diet. The ones we can not produce and must get from our foods are called the “essential” amino acids.

Protein is not just about quantity. It’s also about quality.

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Generally speaking, animal protein provides all the essential amino acids in the right ratio for us to make full use of them (only makes sense, since animal tissues are similar to our own tissues).If you’re eating animal products (like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy) every day, then you’re probably already doing pretty well, protein-wise.If you don’t eat animal foods, then it is a bit more challenging to get all the protein and essential amino acids that your body needs.Most people don’t really need protein supplements, but they can be useful for athletes and bodybuilders.

Protein Can Help You Lose Weight

Protein is incredibly important when it comes to losing weight.

As we know… in order to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we burn.

Eating protein can help with that, by boosting your metabolic rate (calories out) and reducing your appetite (calories in). This is well supported by science.Protein at around 25-30% of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets.But probably the most important contribution of protein to weight loss, is its ability to reduce appetite and cause a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. Protein is much more satiating than both fat and carbs,

In a study in obese men, protein at 25% of calories increased feelings of fullness, reduced the desire for late-night snacking by half and reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%.

In another study, women who increased protein intake to 30% of calories ended up eating 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding more protein to their diet.But protein doesn’t just help you lose… it can also help prevent you from gaining weight in the first place.

In one study, just a modest increase in protein from 15% of calories to 18% of calories reduced the amount of fat people regained after weight loss by 50%. A high protein intake also helps to build and preserve muscle mass (see below), which burns a small amount of calories around the clock.By eating more protein, you will make it much easier to stick to whichever weight loss diet (be it high-carb, low-carb or something in between) you choose to follow.According to these studies, a protein intake around 30% of calories may be optimal for weight loss. This amounts to 150 grams per day for someone on a 2000 calorie diet.You can calculate it by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075.

More Protein Can Help You Gain Muscle and Strength

 

Muscles are made largely of protein.As with most tissues in the body, muscles are dynamic and are constantly being broken down and rebuilt.To gain muscle, the body must be synthesizing more muscle protein than it is breaking down.In other words, there needs to be a net positive protein balance (often called nitrogen balance, because protein is high in nitrogen) in the body.For this reason, people who want a lot of muscle will need to eat a greater amount of protein (and lift heavy weights, of course). It is well documented that a higher protein intake helps build muscle and strength.

Also, people who want to hold on to muscle that they’ve already built may need to increase their protein intake when losing body fat, because a high protein intake can help prevent the muscle loss that usually occurs when dieting.When it comes to muscle mass, the studies are usually not looking at percentage of calories, but daily grams of protein per unit of body weight (kilograms or pounds).A common recommendation for gaining muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg.

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Numerous studies have tried to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle gain and many of them have reached different conclusions.Some studies show that over 0.8 grams per pound has no benefit, while others show that intakes slightly higher than 1 gram of protein per pound is best.Although it’s hard to give exact figures because of conflicting results in studies, 0.7-1 grams (give or take) per pound of body weight seems to be a reasonable estimate.If you’re carrying a lot of body fat, then it is a good idea to use either your lean mass or your goal weight, instead of total body weight, because it’s mostly your lean mass that determines the amount of protein you need.

Other Circumstances That Can Increase Protein Needs

Disregarding muscle mass and physique goals, people who are physically active do need more protein than people who are sedentary.If you have a physically demanding job, you walk a lot, run, swim or do any sort of exercise, then you need more protein. Endurance athletes also need quite a bit of protein, about 0.5 – 0.65 grams per pound, or 1.2 – 1.4 grams per kg.Elderly people also need significantly more protein, up to 50% higher than the DRI, or about 0.45 to 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight.This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia (reduction in muscle mass), both significant problems in the elderly.People who are recovering from injuries may also need more protein.

Does Protein Have any Negative Health Effects?

 

Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems.It has been said that a high protein diet can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis.However, none of this is supported by science.Although protein restriction is helpful for people with pre-existing kidney problems, protein has never been shown to cause kidney damage in healthy people.

In fact, a higher protein intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and help fight diabetes, which are two of the main risk factors for kidney disease.If protein really does have some detrimental effect on kidney function (which has never been proven), it is outweighed by the positive effects on these risk factors.Protein has also been blamed for osteoporosis, which is strange because the studies actually show that protein can help prevent osteoporosis.Overall, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to stay healthy.

How to Get Enough Protein in Your Diet

The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs and dairy products. They have all the essential amino acids that your body needs.There are also some plants that are fairly high in protein, like quinoa, legumes and nuts.All of this being said, I don’t think there is any need for most people to actually track their protein intake.If you’re just a healthy person trying to stay healthy, then simply eating quality protein with most of your meals (along with nutritious plant foods) should bring your intake into an optimal range.

protein 3

What “Grams of Protein” Really Means

This is a very common misunderstanding…

When I say “grams of protein” – I mean grams of the macronutrient protein, not grams of a protein containing food like meat or eggs.An 8 ounce serving of beef weighs 226 grams, but it only contains 61 grams of actual protein. A large egg weighs 46 grams, but it only contains 6 grams of protein.

What About The Average Person?

If you’re at a healthy weight, you don’t lift weights and you don’t exercise much, then aiming for  0.8 to 1.3 gram per kg is a reasonable estimate.

This amounts to:

  • 56-91 grams per day for the average male.
  • 46-75 grams per day for the average female.

But given that there is no evidence of harm and significant evidence of benefit, I think it is better for most people to stay on the side of more protein rather than less.

 

Top 50 Healthiest Foods on The Planet

Eating healthy does not have to be boring.There is a massive amount of foods out there that are both healthy and tasty.Here are the 50 healthiest foods on earth. Most of them are surprisingly delicious.

1-6: Fruits and Berries

Fruits and berries are among the world’s most popular health foods.This is not surprising, given that they taste incredible. Fruits are also very easy to incorporate into the diet, because they require little to no preparation.

fruits

1. Apples

The apple is high in fiber, vitamin C and numerous antioxidants. Apples are very fulfilling, and perfect as snacks if you find yourself hungry between meals.

2. Avocados

Avocados are different than most fruits, because they are loaded with healthy fats instead of carbs. They are creamy, tasty and high in fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

3. Bananas

Bananas are among the world’s best sources of potassium. They are also high in vitamin B6 and fiber. Bananas are ridiculously convenient and portable.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are not only delicious, but also among the most powerful sources of antioxidants in the world.

5. Oranges

Oranges are well known for their vitamin C content. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants and taste incredible.

6. Strawberries

Strawberries are highly nutritious, and are low in both carbs and calories.

They are loaded with vitamin C, fiber and manganese, and are arguably among the most delicious foods in existence.

Other Healthy Fruits

There are many other healthy fruits and berries that aren’t listed here.

Some examples: Cherries, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, mango, melons, olives, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums and raspberries.

7. Eggs

Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.

They were previously demonized for being high in cholesterol, but new studies have shown that they are perfectly safe and healthy.

8-10: Meats

It is a myth that meat is harmful. Unprocessed, gently cooked meat is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods one can eat.

meat

8. Lean Beef

Lean beef is among the best sources of protein in existence, and loaded with highly bioavailable iron. Choosing the fatty cuts is fine if you’re on a low carb diet.

9. Chicken Breasts

Chicken breast is low in fat and calories, but extremely high in protein. It is a great source of many nutrients. Again, feel free to eat fattier cuts of chicken if you’re not eating that many carbs.

10. Lamb

Lambs are usually grass-fed, and their meat tends to be high in Omega-3 fatty acids.

11-16: Nuts, Seeds and Peanuts

Despite being high in fat and calories, studies suggest that nuts and seeds can help you lose weight.These foods are crunchy, fulfilling and loaded with important nutrients that many people don’t get enough of, including magnesium and vitamin E.They also require zero preparation, which is important because it makes it easier to incorporate them into the diet.

nuts,seeds

11. Almonds

The almond is a popular type of nut. It is loaded with vitamin E, antioxidants, magnesium and fiber. Studies show that almonds can help you lose weight, and provide impressive benefits for metabolic health.

12. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are among the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. A single ounce (28 grams) contains 11 grams of fiber, and a large part of the recommended intake for magnesium, manganese, calcium and various other nutrients.

13. Coconuts

Coconuts are loaded with fiber and powerful fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides.

14. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are very tasty. They are much higher in monounsaturated fats, and lower in Omega-6 fatty acids, than most other nuts.

15. Walnuts

Walnuts are highly nutritious and loaded with fiber and all sorts of vitamins and minerals.

16. Peanuts

Peanuts (technically legumes, not nuts) are incredibly tasty and high in nutrients and antioxidants. Several studies show that peanuts can help you lose weight.

However, take it easy on the peanut butter. It is very high in calories and incredibly easy to eat excessive amounts of it.

17-26: Vegetables

Calorie for calorie, vegetables are among the world’s most concentrated sources of nutrients.There is a wide variety available, and it is best to eat many different types of vegetables every day.

vegetables

17. Asparagus

Asparagus is a popular vegetable. It is low in both carbs and calories, but loaded with vitamin K.

18. Bell Peppers

Bell peppers come in several colors, including red, yellow and green. They are crunchy and taste very sweet, and are a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C.

19. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that tastes great both raw and cooked. It is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K and vitamin C, and contains a decent amount of protein compared to other vegetables.

20. Carrots

The carrot is a popular root vegetable. It is extremely tasty and crunchy, and loaded with nutrients like fiber and vitamin K. Carrots are also very high in carotene antioxidants, which have numerous benefits.

21. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a very versatile cruciferous vegetable. It can be used to make all sorts of healthy recipes, and also tastes pretty good on its own.

22. Cucumber

The cucumber is one of the world’s most popular vegetables. It is very low in both carbs and calories, and consists mostly of water. However, it does contain a number of nutrients in small amounts, including vitamin K.

23. Garlic

Garlic is incredibly healthy. It contains allicin, a bioactive compound with powerful biological effects, including improved immune function.

24. Kale

Kale has been very popular in recent years, for good reason. It is incredibly high in vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber and a number of other nutrients. It is perfect to add a satisfying crunch to salads and recipes.

25. Onions

Onions have a very strong flavor, and are very popular for use in recipes. They contain a number of bioactive compounds believed to have health benefits.

26. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are usually categorized as a vegetable, although they are technically a fruit. They are tasty and loaded with nutrients like potassium and vitamin C.

More Healthy Vegetables

These weren’t listed, but are also very healthy: Artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, eggplant, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, radishes, squash, swiss chard, turnips, zucchini.

27-32: Fish and Seafood

Fish and other seafoods tend to be very healthy and nutritious.They are especially rich in in omega-3 fatty acids and iodine, two nutrients that most people don’t get enough of.Studies show that people who eat the most foods from the sea (especially fish) tend to live longer and have a lower risk of many diseases, including heart disease, dementia and depression.

fish

27. Salmon

Salmon is a type of oily fish that is incredibly popular due to its excellent taste and high amount of nutrients, including protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains some vitamin D.

28. Sardines

Sardines are small, oily fish that are among the most nutritious foods you can eat. They contain hefty amounts of the majority of nutrients required by the human body.

29. Shellfish

Shellfish isn’t eaten very often, which is a shame because it contains more nutrients than almost every other food. It ranks similar to organ meats when it comes to nutrient density. Edible shellfish includes clams, mollusks and oysters.

30. Shrimp

Shrimp is a type of animal found in the sea. It tends to be low in fat and calories, but high in protein. It is also loaded with various other nutrients, including selenium and vitamin B12.

31. Trout

Trout is another type of delicious oily fish, similar to salmon.

32. Tuna

Tuna is very popular in Western countries, and tends to be low in fat and calories, but high in protein. It is perfect people who need to add more protein to their diets, while keeping calories low.

33-35: Grains

Grains have gotten a bad rap in recent years, mainly due to them being a forbidden food on the wildly popular paleo diet.However, it is a mistake to lump all grains together. There are many different types of grains, and some of them are very healthy.Just keep in mind that they are still pretty high in carbs, so they are not recommended on a low carb diet.

grains

33. Brown Rice

Rice is one of the oldest cereal grains, and is currently a staple food for more than half of people in the world. Brown (whole grain) rice is fairly nutritious, with a decent amount of fiber, vitamin B1 and magnesium.

34. Oats

Oats are incredibly healthy. They are loaded with nutrients, and also contain powerful fibers called beta-glucans, shown to have numerous benefits.

35. Quinoa

Quinoa has become incredibly popular among health conscious individuals in recent years. It is a tasty grain that is high in nutrients like fiber and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of plant-based protein.

36-37: Breads

Most people eat a lot of bread.For those who are trying to adopt a healthier diet for the first time, it can be extremely challenging to find something to eat instead of bread.Fortunately, there are several healthy (or at least “less bad”) options available.

breads

36. Ezekiel Bread

Ezekiel bread may be the healthiest bread you can buy at the store. It is made from organic, sprouted whole grains, and also contains several types of legumes.

37. Homemade low-carb breads

The safest choice for healthy bread is something that you make yourself. Make healthy breads that are gluten-free and low in carbs.

38-40: Legumes

Legumes are another food group that has been unfairly demonized in recent years.It is true that legumes contain anti-nutrients, substances that can interfere with digestion and absorption of nutrients.However, these anti-nutrients can be eliminated by soaking and properly preparing the legumes before eating them.What we’re left with is an incredibly cheap source of quality nutrition, including a great plant-based source of protein.

legumes

38. Green beans

Green beans, also called string beans, are unripe varieties of the common bean. They are very popular in Western countries.

39. Kidney beans

Kidney beans are loaded with various vitamins and minerals, and are very high in fiber. Just make sure to cook them properly, because they are toxic when raw.

40. Lentils

Lentils are another popular legume. They are high in fiber and are among the best sources of plant-based protein. Lentils also taste delicious, and have a very satisfying texture.

41-43: Dairy

Many people can’t tolerate dairy products.However, for people who do tolerate them, they are a healthy source of various important nutrients.Full-fat dairy products seem to be the best, and studies show that people who eat the most full-fat dairy have a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.If the dairy comes from grass-fed cows, then that may be even better, as it is higher in some bioactive fatty acids like CLA.

dairy products

41. Cheese

Cheese is incredibly nutritious, and a single slice of it contains about the same nutrients as an entire cup of milk. It is also one of the most delicious foods you can eat.

42. Whole milk

Whole milk is very high in vitamins, minerals, quality animal protein and healthy fats. It is one of the best sources of calcium.

43. Yogurt

Yogurt is made from milk that is fermented by adding live bacteria to it. It has many of the same health effects as milk, except with the added benefits of the friendly probiotic bacteria.

44-46: Fats and Oils

The “war” on fat is lost, and many fats and oils have been making a comeback as health foods.

fats & oils

44. Butter from grass-fed cows

Butter from cows that were fed on grass is high in many important nutrients, including the very important vitamin K2.

45. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is loaded with powerful fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides. Coconut oil may have benefits for Alzheimer’s disease, and has been shown to help you lose belly fat.

46. Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on earth. It contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and is very high in antioxidants with powerful health benefits.

47-48: Tubers

Tubers are the storage organs of some plants. They tend to contain a number of beneficial nutrients.

potato

47. Potatoes

Potatoes are a very popular food around the world. They are loaded with potassium, and contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need, including vitamin C.

They are also incredibly fulfilling. One study found that boiled potatoes were by far the most filling of 38 foods that were tested.

48. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are among the most delicious starchy foods you can eat. They are loaded with antioxidants and all sorts of healthy nutrients.

49. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is incredibly popular in the natural health community. Studies show that it can help lower blood sugar levels and cause modest weight loss.

It is great to use in salad dressings, and to add flavor to meals.

50. Dark Chocolate

chocolate

Not only is dark chocolate the most delicious food on this list, but it may also be the healthiest.

Dark chocolate is loaded with fiber and magnesium, and is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants in existence.

51.Missed Anything ?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Feel free to leave a comment if you want to add to the list!Be Healthy,Be Safe