Tagged with 'Low Carb Lifestyle'

Eating Like a Caveman: Controlling Insulin

Summer is the perfect time to give your diet a reboot and start thinking about the kinds of fresh foods and meats that our forefathers from wayyyyyy back ate, which is more of a Paleo Diet, which is becoming quite popular again, for obvious reasons. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that a back-to-basics approach to diet is the way to go for each and every system in our bodies. Today’s diet has too much sugar and it’s making us store our fat. It’s time to reclaim it. Use summer as the stepstone toward better health, with expert Brad King’s advice! Insulin has an especially dramatic influence on enzymes called lipases. Lipases are like little Pac Men who run around your body, releasing body fat from its cushy containers so it can be shuttled into muscle cells to get burned off (yeah!). When insulin levels are high, it hits the “off” switch on lipases, putting them into a holding pattern until further notice. In fact, the most prominent lipase involved in fat burning is called Hormone Sensitive Lipase, or HSL for short.[1] HSL is the premiere key holder that unlocks those fat storage containers which make you leaner. Unfortunately, the more insulin that’s present, the less HSL is available to release fat for energy and the end result is you become fatter (not so yeah!). As insulin is blocking fat burning it’s also creating an internal environment that is ripe for fat storage. It accomplishes this act through the aid of another lipase enzyme—this one’s called Lipoprotein lipase, or LPL for short, and it is so effective at bloating fat cells that some obesity researchers even call it ‘the Gatekeeper of Fat Storage’. It’s next to impossible for the body to store fat without a certain amount of insulin floating around. As you can see, insulin is something we need, but we don’t want too much of it. Otherwise, we end up with a body that acts as a 24/7 fat-storing factory (as too many people already experience)! Controlling Insulin Almost any food—including the mere thought of food—can cause insulin release, but carbohydrates are the primary driver to a flood of insulin. High-carb foods—especially the highly processed and refined variety—cause glucose levels in your blood to shoot way up.[2] However, the body doesn’t work very well when glucose gets too high, so it sends out a stream of insulin to control the rising tide of glucose. Gobs of insulin will definitely drive glucose down, but it will also turn the vast majority of that glucose into newly formed fat. On the other hand, when insulin levels are under control, the body swiftly transitions into fat burning mode. Normal insulin levels cause lipases to spring into action. Also, a hormone often viewed as insulin’s opposite, glucagon, starts to rise. Glucagon travels around the body, ordering fat cells to relax and let go of the fat they’re clinging to. It’s accurate to view eating and lifestyle as a hormonal event. In a primitive dietary world made up of fresh—and local—produce (including roots, shoots, seeds and nuts) and wild game meat, our hormones were never a problem – in other words there weren’t many, if any, obese cavemen or ladies . If a caveman was lucky enough to stumble upon a beehive filled with honey or a bush sprouting plump berries, insulin was there to process the carbohydrates properly. But for the most part, the diet that our pancreas was designed for, only called insulin into action on a part-time basis. Our modern-day fast food/processed/high glycemic diets forces our pancreas to work double or triple shifts! Our body was simply not designed to metabolize all these carbs. The real kicker is that, because of our ravenous appetite for insulin-stimulating processed foods, the weight we’ve been accumulating over the last few decades is pure, unadulterated fat, which isn’t just unsightly but brings with it a whole host of health issues to boot![3] Magré, J., et al. (1998) Human hormone-sensitive lipase: genetic mapping, identification of a new dinucleotide repeat, and association with obesity and NIDDM. Diabetes. 47:284-286 Ludwig, D. S. (2000) Dietary glycemic index and obesity. J. Nutr. 130:280S-283S. Due A, Larsen TM, Mu H, Hermansen K, Stender S, Astrup A: Comparison of 3 ad libitum diets for weight-loss maintenance, risk of cardiovascular disease, and diabetes: a 6-mo randomized, controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2008, 88(5):1232-1241  http://www.pno.ca/?p=1336&option=com_wordpress&Itemid=201


All right foodies, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room: we need to eat less meat. It’s no secret that adopting a vegetarian diet can have numerous benefits to your health (including lower cholesterol, decreased risk for heart disease and cancer AND better moods), but did you know that eating a plant-based diet is much better for our planet as well? In addition to causing mass deforestation, pollution and contamination of water sources, livestock farming also accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (that’s more than transportation!). Growing fruits and vegetables is also a more efficient use of resources than livestock – it takes the same amount of land resources to feed 16-20 vegetarians as it does a single meat eater! What’s one of the easiest ways to cut down your carbon footprint? Go Veg!      We know that adopting changes to your diet can be a little intimidating, so we’ve put together these five helpful tips for you to keep in mind as you begin your plant-based journey.   STICK TO ORGANIC AND NON-GMO FOODS. While it’s well known that organic and non-GMO foods are better for our bodies, they have numerous environmental benefits as well. Organic farming enriches our soil, increases biodiversity, keeps toxic fertilizers and pesticides out of water sources and can even slow global warming by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.(8) BUY LOCAL PRODUCE! In addition to supporting your local farmers and economy, buying local also cuts down drastically on transportation costs! Find a farmer’s market (or small community grocery store) near you and purchase seasonal, organic produce. Buying straight from the source ensures that your fruits and veggies are fresh and haven’t been frozen. If you have the space, grow your own food! Can’t find a product grown locally in your area? Purchase fair trade and organic alternatives (like Alter Eco’s fair trade quinoa!)! While fair trade certified companies are typically known for their advocacy for fair wages and ethical working conditions, many are deeply committed to protecting the environment as well(7). Do some research and support companies that meet rigorous environmental standards. HAVE FUN COOKING! It’s great when you find a great meatless dish at your favorite restaurant, but the only way to fully know what’s going into your meal is to make it yourself. If you’re new to cooking and don’t know where to start sign up for a vegetarian cooking class with a friend or family member! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods and flavors and you might just find your new favorite go-to dish (check out our plant-based recipes below)! PLAN YOUR WEEKLY MEALS AHEAD OF TIME. This is an important part of adopting any new diet! Avoid last-minute decisions by creating a weekly meal schedule to make sure you’re diversifying your diet and getting all the protein that you need (the recommended dosage is 40-60 grams of protein per day, depending on your body size). ALWAYS READ THE INGREDIENTS AND NUTRITION FACTS! Some products like to sneak in hidden animal products that could compromise your diet. Other products compensate with an unhealthy dose of sugar. When in doubt, speak to a professional! Reference: http://www.alterecofoods.com/5-tips-for-meatless-diet/

6 Ways To Elevate Your Smoothie Game

Smoothies have long been a part of my day. If I don’t blend one up for breakfast, I’m usually whipping one up to fight that 3PM slump. The smoothies I make typically need to be quick and easy.  Here are six things I’ve been doing lately to make my smoothie game strong. 1. One Glass Don’t dirty five cups to make one smoothie. Lately I’ve been drinking my smoothie right out of the glass I use to measure ingredients. Mason jars make great measuring cups, allowing you to precisely measure out liquids thanks to the measurement lines marked on the side. Or, use your blender for everything! Most blenders have cup measurements on the side and I find “handfuls” are pretty good measurements when trying to eyeball 1/2 cup berries or 1 cup baby spinach. Take it one step further by throwing a straw into the blender container and drinking straight from the source! 2. Waste Not Have some leftover coffee in the pot, two spoonfuls of pumpkin left in the can, or just three sips of almond milk left in the container? Pour or place leftover ingredients into ice cube trays or muffin tins. When you’ve got a hankering for a mocha smoothie (or whatever flavor is calling your name), grab your frozen cubes, add the rest of your ingredients and you’re good to go! 3. Make Smoothie Pops Do you ever have that annoying ½ cup smoothie left in the bottom of the blender that doesn’t fit into your to-go mug? You could take a big gulp before rushing out the door, BUT alternatively why not pour leftovers into ice pop molds? You’ll have a cool, sweet treat waiting for you (or your kids) for another time of day. 4. Make Smoothie Packs Carve out a few extra minutes of meal prep on Sundays to prepare some smoothie packs for the week. Measure out fruit and Vega® plant-based protein powder and place into single bags (or even the Mason jar you plan to drink the smoothie from!). In the morning, toss into the blender with your favorite liquid and Vega protein powder and blend. 5. Freeze Smoothie Ice Cubes If you love thick creamy smoothies, try shaking a scoop of Vega powder with non-dairy milk and pouring into ice cube molds. For an evening when you’re craving a thick chocolate shake (or any time of day) place cubes in a blender with frozen banana and some more non-dairy milk and blend until creamy. 6. Save Overripe Foods If you’re preparing to leave for a trip, or maybe you’ve just returned, or you just went overboard on your last grocery trip, don’t throw away fruits and vegetables that you just can’t finish before they wilt away. You can freeze everything from brown bananas, to wilting greens, to very soft avocados. Even steamed cauliflower! Stash all in freezer friendly containers to add to smoothies. PS. Avocados and steamed cauliflower take smoothie creaminess to the next level – trust me! On days that I feel just so busy even taking minutes to blend a smoothie—even with these hacks—feels impossible, I reach for Vega® Protein+ Shake* as I run out the door. What are some of your go-to tips and tricks for blending up the perfect smoothie every time? Reference: https://myvega.com/blog/smoothie-hacks/

Top Vegetarian Sources of Protein

If you're a vegetarian, you've most likely been asked the same question over and over again: "but how will you get your protein?" Well, contrary to popular belief, protein is not exclusive to meat-based sources. There are plenty of plant-based and other sources of protein for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. We should be striving for somewhere between 10-15% of our daily calories in the form of protein. Or, an easy way to figure out your daily protein requirement is to take your weight in pounds, divide it in half, then subtract 10. So if you weigh 140 pounds, you would need 60 grams of protein per day. Here are the top vegetarian sources of protein, along with how many grams they contain per serving: Beans and Lentils - 12-14 g per cup cooked (beans) and 18 g per cup cooked (lentils) - Beans and lentils are excellent sources of protein. Either look for organic brands that use BPA-free cans, and rinse the beans well before using, or buy dry beans and cook them at home, which is much cheaper! Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and red, brown and green lentils are all delicious and very versatile! Nuts and Seeds - 3 to 7 g per 1/3-cup (nuts) and 2 to 5 g per 1/3-cup (seeds) - Nuts, seeds, and their butters are very tasty and nutritious protein sources. A handful of almonds is a great mid-morning snack, and some almond or sunflower seed butter is a delicious spread on a piece of toast or some apple slices. Hemp - 12 g per oz (powder) and 6 g per oz (seeds) - Hemp is special because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Add a scoop of powder into your morning smoothie or sprinkle some seeds over a salad for a healthy protein boost. Check out Healthy Planet's wide range of hemp products. Milk and Yogurt - 8 g per cup (milk) and 20 g per cup (greek yogurt) - Whether you drink cow's milk or a non-dairy alternative like almond milk, you'll get somewhere between 7 and 9 grams of protein per cup. And organic greek yogurt packs a huge protein punch! Again, stay away from soy milk since it's highly processed and most likely contains GM soy. Vegetables - 1 cup of green peas (9 g), spinach (5 g), or broccoli (5 g) on your dinner plate is an easy way to include some green veggie-based protein in your diet. Either fresh or frozen, these three are a great addition to any diet. Chia Seeds - 5 g per oz - Although they should be included with the nuts and seeds section, chia seeds really deserve a section all their own since, like hemp, they are a complete protein. They contain twice the potassium of a banana, three times more iron than spinach, and are high in dietary fibre. Sprinkle some over cereal, soups, and salads, or add some to a smoothie. Healthy Planet also carries a nice range of chia products. Grains (ancient, sprouted, multi) - Quinoa (9 g per cup), oatmeal (6 g per cup), and sprouted grain breads (7-10 g) are a healthy addition to a vegetarian diet, since they provide a high amount of protein, and quinoa is also gluten-free! Some oatmeal is also gluten-free, but you must check the label. Check out Healthy Planet's selection of quinoa products and gluten-free oats. What About Tofu and other Soy Products? Though it's true that soy products contain some of the highest amounts of protein, tofu is one of the most highly processed products on the market today. Nearly all of the soy being produced now is genetically modified (GM), and even if you purchase organic soy products, there is no guarantee that those crops have not been contaminated by GM soy. Recent studies have also shown soy to be a hormone-disruptor, as it contains phytoestrogens, causing it to mimic estrogen in the body. Tempeh, on the other hand, which has been consumed by Asians for many generations, is a fermented soy product and is much healthier and more nutrient-dense than tofu. What are your favorite vegetarian sources for protein? Have anything to add to this list? Share your tips in the comments!