Tips to Avoid Gaining Weight over the Holidays

Are you concerned about weight gain over the holidays?  It’s certainly easy enough given all of the food and drink we are exposed to for weeks during the Christmas holidays.  Since we are probably going to indulge in some extra treats, here are some tips and strategies that you can consider in an effort to not gain any weight.

  1. Protein, protein, protein! Protein such as turkey and other lean meats will keep you full for a long time.  You don’t have to be hungry to eat but feeling full is the only time you don’t think about munching.
  2. Eat slowly. The quicker we eat, the less time the body has to register that it is full so slow down.  Take time to enjoy your food and savor each bite.
  3. Choose high fiber foods like beans, legumes and loads of raw vegetables. These foods not only fill you up but fiber will inhibit the fat from being absorbed from you foods.
  4. Eat plenty of healthy fats. Everyone likes fat but be sure to stick to the good fats like avocados (guacamole here we come!), nuts and homemade dressings for your vegetable dips.   Fats create satiety and fullness.  Don’t be afraid to bring your homemade veggie dips with you to parties.
  5. Use smaller plates. Plate sizes have increased significantly over the years. The brain associates empty space on your plate as not enough food.  Also using smaller plates means less food eaten.
  6. Stick to natural sugars and ditch the simple sugars like holiday cookies, cakes and pies. These treats are definitely tempting but offer nothing but weight gain. Stick to fruits with a no sugar added yogurt dip.
  7. Take time before grabbing seconds or thirds off the buffet table. It takes 20 minutes for your body to register that it is full so wait at least 20 minutes before reaching for more food.
  8. Stay away from very high carb foods like bread, potatoes and pasta. These foods break down quickly into glucose and too much glucose is a recipe for weight gain.
  9. Watch the alcohol. Many drinks like beer, eggnog and fruity drinks carry a bunch of unnecessary carbs and sugar.  Stick to drinks mixed with water or club soda using lemon or lime instead of sugar.  Spice your drinks with cinnamon or other flavors.  Too much alcohol can weaken your resistance to overindulging in food as well.
  10. Drink plenty of water. Water fills your belly so drink plenty of water before you go to the party and while you are at the party to ensure you eat less.
  11. Keep up with your exercise regime. We all know how busy we can be during the holidays and it is a little harder to get to the gym so try doing some exercises from home.  Do some squats while chopping at the kitchen counter or go for a long walk to de-stress.
  12. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation is quite common during the holidays and it may cause weight gain.  Those who don’t sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and get less physical activity.
  13. Bring a healthy dish to share. This way you know you’re safe eating what you brought without looking like you’re being picky.
  14. When baking use the following substitutes to cut calories and fat:
  • Replace butter with applesauce, mashed banana or pumpkin puree
  • Instead of sugar, use a low-calorie substitute such as stevia or xylitol
  • Add dried fruit instead of chocolate chips or candies
  • Flavor recipes with extracts like vanilla, almond or peppermint oils instead of butter or sugar
  1. To reduce fat in cooking use plenty of herbs and spices instead of butter; bake, steam or grill instead of frying; use low-fat milk instead of heavy cream; replace cream cheese, sour cream and mayo with Greek yogurt

Artificial vs. Natural Sweeteners

Have you ever read the back of a package of sweeteners found on the dining table in restaurants and coffee shops?  These are the little blue, pink and yellow packages?  Some of them have warning labels that say “This product contains 28% sodium cyclamate.  Cyclamates should be used only on the advice of a physician.”  Some others say “Use under medical supervision.”  Have you ever read that?  I have to wonder why they would put these warnings on the packages.  How do we know which sweeteners are safe and which ones aren’t?  People are often surprised at how often dangerous artificial sweeteners are included in prepared foods, medications and beverages.  Here are a few surprising examples of where to check for the dangerous sweeteners: chewing gum, cough syrup, no-calorie drinks, breakfast cereals, yogurt, frozen yogurt and other frozen deserts, candies, baked goods, toothpaste and mouthwash and medications, to name a few.  If you want to learn more about any one of these sweeteners, you will have to research them individually.  There are tons of information on each one listed below.  I will also help you decide which ones are the safest to take, in my humble opinion.  Let’s look at some of them briefly but before we do, know that there are plenty of natural, healthy sweeteners available that provide essential nutrients and taste great which I will also list below.

Aspartame:  Aspartame is currently used in more than 6,000 consumer foods and drinks, and over 500 prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.  Some health professionals say this is the most dangerous sweetener on the market.  Some of the technical names for aspartame are NutraSweet and Equal.   Aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA.  Aspartame is comprised of approximately 50% phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid, and 10% methanol.  Aspartic Acid (Aspartate) which acts as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate is why they are referred to as “excitotoxins.” They “excite” or stimulate the neural cells to death.  Some side effects of aspartame include headaches/migraines, anxiety, dizziness, rashes, heart palpitations, joint pain, vision problems, seizures and much more.

Acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K):  This is a potassium salt containing methylene chloride, a known carcinogen. Long term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, nausea, emotional imbalances, and damage to the liver and kidneys.  Acesulfame-K has been shown to produce breast tumors, lung tumors, and other types of tumors, leukemia, and chronic respiratory disease in rodents.

Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low):  In the 1970s, saccharin and other sulfa-based sweeteners were believed to possibly cause bladder cancer, and it was required to carry the following warning label: “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.”   The FDA removed this warning, but many studies continue to link saccharin to serious health conditions. Sadly, it’s the primary sweetener for children’s medications, including chewable aspirin, cough syrup, and other over-the-counter and prescription medications. It’s believed that saccharin contributes to photosensitivity, nausea, digestive upset, tachycardia and some types of cancer.

Sucralose (Splenda): Sucralose, derived from sugar, was originally introduced as a natural sugar substitute. However, in reality, it’s a chlorinated sucrose derivative. Yes, chlorine, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet. Sucralose was originally found through the development of a new insecticide compound and wasn’t originally intended to be consumed.  It’s uncertain as to why the FDA approved sucralose knowing the nature of chlorine. You should know too that it was approved even though the pre-approval research revealed possible toxicity of the substance.  Some of the side effects some people experience with sucralose include migraines, intestinal cramping, rashes, dizziness, bloating, acne and chest pain to name a few.

Agave: Agave is a sweetener commercially produced from several species of the agave plant. This sweetener has more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup and has been shown to alter liver function, promote obesity, and increase insulin resistance for both diabetics and non-diabetics.

There are many more sweeteners that are possibly dangerous…too many to mention but know that there are also some sweeteners that are ok to have.  Here are some of them:

Stevia:  Stevia is not an artificial sweetener but actually a plant which happens to taste 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.  It has been used for hundreds of years in South America to support healthy blood sugar levels and prompt weight loss.  Today, stevia is available in liquid drops, packets, dissolvable tablets and baking blends. It has zero calories, zero carbohydrates and none of the nasty side effects of artificial sweeteners, making it an ideal natural sweetener.  You can even buy diet pop which is sweetened with stevia called Zevia.  I buy it myself and they have some great flavors to choose from and taste great.

Raw Honey:  Raw honey is a true superfood.   It’s packed with enzymes, antioxidants, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, riboflavin and niacin. Together, these essential nutrients help to neutralize free radicals while promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.

One tablespoon of raw honey has 64 calories and has less impact on the glycemic load than a single banana. It’s important to note that these are the benefits of raw honey. Once honey has been pasteurized, it loses the many of the health benefits that raw honey brings to the table.  Look for local raw honey at farmer markets and directly from local beekeepers.   Also, the darker the honey, the richer the flavor and the greater the health benefits.

Sugar alcohols:  Sugar alcohols like xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol and mannitol have been around for decades without safety problems. But some people do experience stomach discomfort or diarrhea after eating sugar alcohols. If they give you trouble, try sticking with only erythritol, which research shows is not fermented by gut bacteria, meaning it may cause fewer digestive woes.

Coconut Sugar:  Most people have heard about the benefits of coconut water, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour and, of course, fresh coconut.  Now, more and more people are using coconut sugar as their natural sweetener of choice because of its low glycemic load and rich mineral content.  Packed with polyphenols, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, phosphorous and other phytonutrients, coconut sugar is versatile and now readily available. Coconut sugar is extracted sap from the blooms of the coconut and then heated. Next, through evaporation, we get coconut sugar.

There are other natural sweeteners available but the ones listed above are my personal favorites.  Give some of them a try and see how you like them too!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Tell me this doesn’t look delicious!  I personally love pumpkin recipes and am going to make this one for myself!
Pumpkin Coffee Cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 5 Eggs separated
  • 1/2 Cup (58g) Coconut flour
  • 1/2 Cup (107g) Erythritol or sweetener
  • 1/2 Cup (113g) Butter, unsalted softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup (245g) Pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin spices
Cream Cheese Filling
  • 8 oz (224g) Cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup (54g) Erythritol Or Sweetener
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Crumble Topping
  • 1/3 Cup (38g) Coconut flour
  • 1/3 Cup (71g) Erythritol Or Sweetener
  • 1/4 Cup (56g) Butter, unsalted softened
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Instructions
CAKE LAYER
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/375F degrees.

  2. Grease and line an 8 inch springform cake tin with parchment paper.

  3. In a bowl, mix the erythritol and butter together until soft and blended.

  4. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and stir thoroughly.

  5. Add the coconut flour, salt, baking powder and beat until combined.

  6. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff.

  7. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.

  8. Spoon half of the mixture into the baking tin and smooth evenly.

CREAM CHEESE LAYER
  1. In a bowl, add the softened cream cheese and beat with the erythritol (or sugar substitute).

  2. Add the egg, vanilla extract, lemon juice, zest and beat until smooth.

  3. Spoon this mixture over the cake mixture into the cake tin and smooth evenly.

  4. Add the other half of the cake mixture over the cream cheese layer and smooth.

STREUSAL/CRUMBLE TOPPING
  1. For the topping, place the coconut flour, cinnamon and erythritol in a bowl and mix until combined.

  2. Add the butter and mix with your hands, gently, so that the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

  3. Scatter the topping over the cake mixture.

  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until firm and the top is cooked.

  5. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then place in the fridge to firm.

Recipe Notes

Serves 10 slices

Nutritional Info per slice:  278 Calories, 24g Fat, 7g Protein, 10g Total Carbs, 5g Fibre, 5g Net Carbs

Author: Angela Coleby

Coconut Oil Debate

I was watching Dr. Oz last week and he had on 2 doctors debating about whether coconut oil is good for us or bad for us.  He was urged to do this show because of the latest article from the American Heart Association (AHA) saying that saturated fat is bad for you and will cause heart disease.  If you weren’t confused before watching the show, you would be now.  One doctor says it is bad due to the saturated fat and even put on a demonstration with the amounts of saturated fat in lard, butter and coconut oil (coconut oil dominating the other 2).  So butter has less saturated fat than coconut oil but it is still high in saturated fats.  Haven’t we been told lately that butter is actually good for you?  I mean it’s certainly better than plasticized margarine (hydrogenated fats).

The other doctor talked about why coconut oil is not so bad due to the MCT (medium chain triglycerides) which behave completely different than other saturated fats. He went on to say how it protects our brain from amyloid deposits which cause Alzheimer’s disease among other advantages like anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.

So what the heck is one to think?  At the end of the show, Dr. Oz said that you can have a little coconut oil but not to over do it.  This is where you all need to make up your own mind whether you choose to believe it is good for you or not.  As always, it is best to do your own research from all different professionals, medical and natural.  Personally I choose to believe it is good for me and only use coconut oil for cooking, baking and putting on steamed veggies etc.  I use MCT oil with Balsamic vinegar for my salad dressings and in my smoothies and yet I still use some olive oil due to it’s health benefits as well.  I eat avocados which are high in fat but again it’s a good fat.

Bottom line…we should not be afraid of eating a lot of good fats as they have health promoting properties and pretty much every cell needs them.  We should however be afraid of eating the bad fats especially hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and trans-fats which you will find in processed foods.  Stick to fresh foods and natural fats.  Seems a little obvious but it is what it is.  If you want more information on coconut oil and MCT oil, you will find it in my earlier blogs.

Have You Heard of Caralluma Fimbriata for Weight Loss?

Do you have a voracious appetite?  Do you find yourself munching and you’re not even hungry?  I just watched this video from a bariatric doctor who talked about Caralluma Fimbriata which is a natural cactus plant extract which comes from India, and it’s supposed to decrease appetite and support weight loss.  The plant has been eaten in India for centuries.   Although it has been around for centuries, it gained popularity as a diet pill in the last few years.

So what is its mechanism?  Caralluma apparently works by blocking a specific enzyme (called citrate lyase) , which is necessary for the formation of acetyl CoA, a basic ingredient of essential fatty acids that become stored in the body as fat.  Caralluma blocks the formation of an enzyme (called Malonyl CoA).  Caralluma manufacturers claim that blocking these enzymes necessary to form fat will prevent the body from storing fat. This, combined with a purported interference with the brain’s hunger signals will cause you to eat less, and your body will burn stored fat for fuel.

Other health benefits of this cactus include:

Anti-Inflammation: Disease is often caused by inflammation within our bodies. Caralluma fimbriata contains high levels of omega-9 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and lower your risk of heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. It’s also been linked to healthier blood glucose levels, reduced cholesterol, and more regular blood pressure.

Reduce Fatigue: As mentioned above, Caralluma fimbriata can activate stored fat, turning it into lean muscle mass and burning the rest as energy. This makes you feel more energetic while also enhancing results at the gym.

Anti-Aging: Like many plants, Caralluma fimbriata contains high levels of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants target free radicals within the body, which reduces aging in the brain and the body. That means fewer wrinkles and better overall cognitive and physical health.

Having said all of this, the studies are still new.  This supplement has only been available for a few years and studies on it are on-going so ones that are released now are still preliminary.   You never know…this could turn out to be the most promising weight loss aid in the near future.  Keep your eyes out for more studies and weight loss results!

 

What Happens When You Eat Too Much Sugar

Have you heard that sugar is bad for you?  There is a lot of science now to back up what happens when you have too much sugar.  Let’s start off by talking about how the body deals with sugar.

When I am referring to sugar, I am not just talking about the white powder so let’s define exactly what I am referring to.  Everything that you eat breaks down into glucose (sugar) with the exception of meat or fat.  This includes foods like baked goods, crackers, fruit and fruit juice, cereals, vegetables, bread and so on.  It’s quite surprising how much sugar is in some foods that you wouldn’t think is high sugar like BBQ sauce and ketchup.   Soda pop is a killer for sugar.  It is 95% sugar!  In fact, one can of pop has about 16 teaspoons of sugar in it!  Candy is pure sugar as is some dried fruit.  And don’t be fooled by fruit.  Yes it is healthy for you and has lots of great immune boosting properties but it is still sugar so this is a case where it is appropriate to say the phrase that ‘too much of a good thing is bad’.  Juice is worse.  How much juice do you get when you squeeze one orange?  Not much.  So a full glass of orange juice is not only pure sugar but because you aren’t eating the whole fruit, you are losing the fiber which makes it much higher on the glycemic index.  It gets absorbed immediately in the blood stream and spikes your insulin very quickly.

Glucose is the number one source of energy for our bodies however overconsumption of glucose can wreak havoc.  Your insulin spikes to regulate your blood sugar.  Once you eat glucose, your body releases insulin, a hormone from your pancreas.  The insulin’s job is to absorb the excess glucose in the blood and stabilize sugar levels.  Today on average people are eating around 32 teaspoons of sugar every day.  A little sugar in your coffee, cereal for breakfast with a glass of juice, a sandwich for lunch and potatoes for dinner and you have over consumed sugar for the day.  This doesn’t include the dessert you ate or the mid-day or evening snacks.  It’s really not that hard to do.  For one day, count how many grams of sugar you eat.  You will be surprised how much you eat because most of us don’t think of the bread or potatoes as sugar.

What’s even more disturbing is that people are consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This highly processed form of sugar is cheaper yet 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar, which is why many food and beverage manufacturers decided to use it for their products, as it would allow them to save money in the long run.  The bad news is that the human body is not made to consume excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the form of fructose. In fact, your body metabolizes fructose differently than sugar. It is actually a “hepatotoxin” and is metabolized directly into fat!

Some other devastating effects of too much sugar, particularly fructose in your diet include: liver damage (more so than alcohol), fools your metabolism by turning off your body’s appetite-control system, causes metabolic dysfunction, increases uric acid levels, causes diabetes and heart issues.

Sugar is addicting too.  The more sugar you eat the more you crave.  It takes only 48-72 hours to eliminate your cravings for sugar once you cut it out and you will gain a huge amount of energy.  I strongly recommend that you follow my low carb regime and not only will you lose weight, you will protect yourself from all of the damage that excess sugar will cause and you will feel so much better.

Have you Heard of Forskolin for Weight Loss?

Dr. Oz has talked about it and many celebrities have made claims that it has helped them lose a lot of weight, but does it really work?  Many of us will try anything for weight loss and most of us want that quick fix.  Firstly, let me say that I have never tried a single pill without any dietary changes and lost weight and believe me I have tried them all.  However, some of them show much promise for weight loss but only alongside a healthful diet.  If I had a magic pill, I would be rich and retired, sipping Mai Tai’s on a beach in my skimpy bikini (sigh) but there is no such thing.

We have sold Forskolin in our stores (nutrition house) for many years and many of our customers have said that it helps them to lose weight.  It is added into many body building products as it helps to increase testosterone (up to 30%) and build muscle as well as burn fat.  Forskolin has shown marked ability to affect muscle/fat ratios in the body and regulate blood lipid levels.  As well it helps promote healthy hormone levels which in turn will help you lose weight.

Forskolin is a natural compound found in the root of Coleus Forskohlii, which is a purple-flowering botanical herb. It has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurveda medicine as a means to treat digestive issues, hypertension, chest pains, allergies, eczema, obesity, IBS, urinary tract infections, ‘advanced’ cancer, and even erectile dysfunction in men and it has been shown to help heal the heart.

It has very few reported side effects and is generally considered safe for use by nearly everyone.

If you want to try Forskolin, go for it!  Just remember that if you want to lose weight, you still need to keep your carbs low, your protein moderate and your good fats high.  Add MCT oil to your daily diet as a salad dressing, added to your protein shake or drizzled over your steamed veggies and you will lose weight even faster!