Lifehacks

The Benefits of Unprocessed Foods

Processes Foods

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health found that people eating ultra-processed foods ate more calories and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet. The difference in weight gain even occurred when the meals provided to the volunteers in both the ultra-processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients.

This study considered foods “ultra-processed” if they had ingredients predominantly found in food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents and emulsifiers.

Previous studies had shown diets high in processed foods correlated to health problems. But, because none of the past studies randomly assigned people to eat specific foods and then measured the results, scientists could not say for sure whether the processed foods were a problem on their own, or whether people eating them had health problems for other reasons, such as a lack of access to fresh foods.

This is the first study to demonstrate causality — that ultra-processed foods cause people to eat too many calories and gain weight.

An ultra-processed breakfast might consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed breakfast was oatmeal with bananas, walnuts, and skim milk. The ultra-processed and unprocessed meals had the same amounts of calories, sugars, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates, and participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

On the ultra-processed diet, people ate about 500 calories more per day than they did on the unprocessed diet. They also ate faster on the ultra-processed diet and gained weight, whereas they lost weight on the unprocessed diet. Participants, on average, gained 0.9 kilograms, or 2 pounds, while they were on the ultra-processed diet and lost an equivalent amount on the unprocessed diet.

Added Sugar: What Happens When You Cut it Out?

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Knowing exactly what constitutes a healthy diet has never been more difficult. Vegans believe forgoing animal products is best, while keto enthusiasts will tell you to eat anything that has four legs and can’t get away fast enough. But there's one food nearly every dietician suggest you avoid: sugar.

Giving up the sweet stuff is hard as it's even found in veggie burgers, tomato sauce, and crackers. But if you do nix added sugars from your diet, your body will benefit almost immediately.

Within a week you can expect lower blood pressure as well as healthier levels of fat and insulin levels in the bloodstream. Of course, how your body reacts to the absence of sugar depends on how much of the white stuff you eat in the first place–and whether you're eating carbs.

Your body breaks down complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal and fruit, into simple sugars to use as energy.

But what if you cut out all high-glycemic foods, as keto enthusiasts and no-carb, no sugar dieters attempt?

First, you'll probably day dream about donuts, if you're the type of person who regularly grabs a muffin in the morning and ends dinner with dessert. This occurs because you don't have sugar to help stimulate your brain.

You may feel, well, rough, but there's a lot of good stuff going on inside your body.

You won't go through the cycle of sugar highs and crashes, as initially you'll feel tired and lethargic, but that will pass within a few days. Also, adrenaline will increase and help break down glycogen, or sugar, stored in your body.

Within three to five days, your liver will make ketones from fat since there's no more glucose, your body’s main source of energy. That’s when your body enters ketosis, aka fat burning mode.

As a result, you could experience muscle cramps since you're losing a lot of water when you’re in ketosis after cutting out sugar. Some people experience keto flu, associated with headaches, fatigue and cramps, which lasts about a week.

But once that passes, you'll feel more energetic, focused, and calm. It’s common for people to cut out sugar and high-glycemic foods to lose weight for short periods of time. However, doctors still aren’t sure whether this is healthy long-term.

That’s why many doctors recommend eating healthy complex carbohydrates. Although they are broken down into sugar, this is an entirely normal and healthy process.

In fact, omitting added sugars while eating complex carbs keeps your insulin levels healthy. Try if for a week! You won’t get the headaches, you won’t get the crashes and you will get a consistent level of energy.

Quick + Easy Summer Workouts

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Are you traveling with the family for the summer and do you need workout ideas to keep in shape efficiently and without exercise equipment handy? Try the below workout that can be done anywhere — even on the beach before the crowds arrive.

For each move do 10 reps, repeat for 3 rounds and rest 30 seconds between rounds.

Lateral Lunges

Step right leg out into a lateral lunge with the left leg straight. As you stand up, drag the left leg back to standing while using the sand as resistance. Repeat movement on the other side.

180-degree Jump Squats

Squat and touch the ground, jump 180-degrees clockwise and touch the ground again. Repeat by jumping 180-degrees counter-clockwise. Two jumps equals one rep.

Down Dog Push-Ups

Start in a down dog position. Walk your hands out to a full plank, perform a push-up and then walk your hands back to down dog.

Shuttle Sprints

Place two towels about 20 yards apart, and using them as markers, start at one and sprint to the other. That’s one! Keep your speed up, sprinting back and forth five times (10 lengths total).

Summer’s Already Here (gulp): Think 20-20-20 To See Results Fast

Summer Fitness Tips

Summer is here again and most of us definitely aren’t ready to be our best-beach selves. Need to see results fast? Try combining cardio training with some resistance training in a six-day-a-week fitness regimen. Do each component twice a week, for a total of six days, with one day off. And as with any new exercise regimen, speak to your doctor first.

Spend Two Days a Week Doing High-Intensity Exercise

Twice a week, do a high-intensity routine incorporating cardio and resistance for 20 minutes (including warm-up/cool-down).

Ideas: Warm up with walking for two to three minutes. Then do one minute of jumping jacks, then one minute of push-ups, then one minute of running or walking up a hill, then rest 30 seconds with easy walking. Repeat your high-intensity routine four times.

Then do a few minutes of stretching to cool down, for  a total of 20 minutes. Include the warm-up and cool-down, as both are important for any boot-camp/high-intensity routine.

Spend Two Days a week Doing Resistance Training

Twice a week, do resistance training for 15 to 20 minutes. You can use your own body weight for resistance training, doing squats, lunges, push-ups and triceps dips. The major bonus of resistance training is that because it builds muscle, and muscle burns more calories than fat tissue does, your body continues to burn calories even after the workout is finished.

Spend Two Days a Week Doing Interval Training

Twice a week, do interval training for 20 minutes. Doing something fast, then slow, is an effective fat burner. Instead of going for a 10- to 20-minute light jog, for example, do a burst of sprinting until you are out of breath, walk for a while, then sprint again. Do this regularly and both your speed and stamina should start to increase. If you want to target your lower body run for five minutes, then do squats; run, then do lunges; run, then do step-ups.

Anxiety: Solutions for When Social Media has you Down

Social Media Anxiety

Social media related anxiety is at an all time high and the negative feelings you can sometime feel from swiping through the ‘gram can be overwhelming. The next time you find yourself in a bad mood, pinpoint exactly what is bothering you and describe your feelings. Are you missing out? Frustrated? Exhausted? Feeling inadequate?

Instead of resigning yourself to a generalized negative mood for the next few hours, label your emotions.

People who are able to differentiate their negative emotions are better at regulating and managing them.

Knowing what is wrong can empower you to seek a solution and tailor a response to the situation. For example, recognizing that you felt flustered after a big test might prompt you to speak to a teacher. Feeling “bad” doesn’t provide you with the same kind of useful information. It just hovers over you like a cloud. And because it is so vague, it can easily spill into other aspects of your life and be the reason you feel bad for the entire day.

Emotional differentiation is a skill that can be learned and deployed on a daily basis. By expanding your emotional vocabulary, you are giving yourself the tools to label and understand an array of emotional states. Not only will your bad moods be less bad, you will be better equipped to handle negativity when it arises.

Best Post Workout Meals: Part 2

Workout Food

In our last post, we learned how important it is to eat post-working out. In this second installment, we learn how the right balance of foods can help you recover after exercise.

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow muscle proteins.

Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps your body:

• Decrease muscle protein breakdown

• Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)

• Restore glycogen stores

• Enhance recovery

Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle

Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein and even the most advanced athletes experience muscle protein breakdown.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue.

Studies have shown that depending on your body type, ingesting 20–40 grams of protein maximizes the body's ability to recover after exercise.

Carbs Help With Recovery

Your body's glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.

The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.

For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (e.g. running or swimming), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.

Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.

Fat Is Not That Bad

Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.

For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk.

Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected.

It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.

Best Post Workout Meals: Part 1

Bachelorette Diet

I recently ran home after the gym to catch the end of the Bachelorette and was having trouble deciding what to eat post-workout. Eating the right nutrients after you workout is just as important as what you eat before — so figuring out the right combo can be tough. And decisions can get especially tough when the Bachelorette is about to start and you’re super exhausted. So for that next post-workout dinner decision, here’s a detailed guide to the best post workout meals.

Eating and Physical Activity

To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it's important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity.

When you're working out, your muscles use their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged.

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins.

Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Doing this helps your body:

• Decrease muscle protein breakdown.

• Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).

• Restore glycogen stores.

• Enhance recovery.

Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate growth of new muscle.

HIIT + Interval Training: What to Eat to Recover

Blueberries Eggs Avocado HIIT

Studies show that high-intensity interval training or HIIT (i.e. short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by short rest periods) has been linked to weight loss, an increase in both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and strengthening of muscles. It’s also ideal for those short on time.

And if you’re adding HIIT to your routine to help you reach your fitness goals, it’s important that you pair it with the right nutrition. Refueling your body post-workout with the right types of foods aids in muscle repair and growth and can help to replace energy that was lost during your workout.

You should look to refuel your body no later than 60 to 90 minutes after your HIIT workout. This provides your muscles with what they need to replenish their glycogen stores adequately.

So, if 2019 is the year that you give HIIT a try, make sure that you’re also choosing the right nutrients after your workout. To get you started, you can check out the four food suggestions below!

1. Eggs

Eggs are one of the best — and my personal favorite — foods for after a workout. They’re a powerhouse of nutrition, with a significant amount of protein and healthy fats — around 7 grams and 5 grams respectively per egg.

Eggs are also considered a “complete protein” source. This means that they contain all nine of the essential amino acids, which have been linked to aiding in muscle recovery. Eggs also contain B vitamins, which can aid in energy production.

2. Blueberries

My grandma always told me the secret to her longevity was eating blueberries. Blueberries are both delicious and packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, protein, and antioxidants.

Aging and exercise cause some type of oxidative stress, or an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. For this reason, it’s important to include antioxidant-rich foods in your everyday diet. What’s more, eating blueberries after a workout has been linked to accelerated muscle recovery time.

3. Avocado

Avocados are not only delicious but also a great source of magnesium — which is excellent of muscle recovery. Avocado also contains 14 percent of your daily value of potassium, which can help to regulate fluid balance and controlling electrical activity of the heart and other muscles.

What’s more, avocado is a great source of folate and vitamins C, K, and B-6, all of which are anti-inflammatory nutrients, which can help reduce inflammation in the body that may be caused by exercise-induced stress.

4. Green leafy vegetables

Much like blueberries, green leafy vegetables are part of my go-to post-workout food. They’re chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They’re also low in calories.

These types of vegetables are also high in antioxidants and can help to minimize the free radicals that may be released during HIIT training.

There’s a large variety of leafy green vegetables to choose from, but some of the more popular ones include kale, spinach, arugula and watercress.

Try throwing some frozen spinach into your post-workout smoothies — about two big handfuls. It tends to blend easier when frozen, meaning you won’t be able to taste it, not to mention it makes your smoothie extra cold!

How To's: Interval Training

Interval Training

So how do you get the most out of interval training, and how long should each push and recovery be? One of the many great things about intervals is that there's no single hard-and-fast rule. Different lengths of work and recovery bring different benefits—and they're all good.

Start with these three interval training plans. Just know this: Interval training is tough, so if you're just starting to work out, spend a few weeks to a month building your stamina with cardio workouts before adding interval training to your routine. Add these interval training plans to your gym routine once a week to burn more calories, build more fitness, and get out of the gym faster.

1. Cardio Blaster

This is one of the best interval training workouts you can do to improve fitness. It burns lots of calories in a short amount of time.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes.

• Then run, bike, or row for 3 minutes at 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate (should feel like 8.5 or 9 on a scale of one to 10). Take three minutes active recovery (you're still moving, but at an easy pace) and repeat the 3 on/3 off pattern three to four more times.

• Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

Bonus benefit: This workout is like weight training for your heart—it strengthens your cardiovascular system, which improves your overall health.

2. Speedplay

Sprinting is great for tightening and toning your legs, glutes, and core. It increases your muscle power, which helps you push harder and makes your non-interval training workouts feel easier so you can challenge yourself and burn even more calories.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

• Run, bike, or row for 30 seconds at a nearly all-out effort. Take three minutes active recovery and repeat the 30 on/3 off pattern five or six more times.

• Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

3. Cardio-Sprint Pyramid

This adds sprint interval training for a fast and fun workout. Here, after each burst of hard work, you'll recover for the same amount of time.

How to do it:

• Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.

• Run, bike, or row: During the work periods, you should have a rate of perceived exertion (RPE of 8 to 10, followed by 30 seconds of active recovery.

Build and taper the workout like this: 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover; 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover; 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover; 4 minutes sprint/4 minutes recover; 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover; 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover; 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover; Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.

Bonus benefit: This major calorie-burning interval training plan gives you the best of both worlds—high-octane cardio and muscle-sculpting sprints.

Superfood Friday: Farro vs Quinoa

Super Food Quinoa Farro Comparison Better

Now that we’ve seen the benefits of opting for farro at your next burrito spot, we now need to know who wins in the nutrition department in our “super grain” food competition. Quinoa or our new fav ancient grain farro? Check out the nutritional comparison below. And for those who deal with any sort of wheat intolerance, it's important to note that farro is not a gluten-free grain.

Quinoa Farro Comparison Better

As we see above, the answer is that both foods offer roughly the same nutritional benefits. And while quinoa and farro are both high in fiber and protein, farro has slightly more carbs but also offers more calcium than quinoa. So reach for whatever super grain you prefer, but keep in mind that both far exceed the nutritional benefits of eating white rice.