Appetite Control and Leptin

Appetite Control and Leptin

Leptin, the “satiety hormone”, discovered in just 1994 is a hormone made by fat cells that helps to regulate hunger.  After you eat, leptin is released into the bloodstream where it travels to the brain telling you to stop eating because you’re full.  Without leptin we could continue to eat until we explode.  Some people have what’s called leptin resistance where the brain is unable to pick up its signals causing mindless eating and overeating.  It’s also a cycle where the more you eat, the more engorged your fat cells, and the greater the risk of worsening your leptin resistance because it is your fat cells that make this hormone.  The more you gain, the more sensitive your body becomes to leptin.  Leptin resistance is associated with certain other medical conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, thyroid issues, and elevated triglycerides in the bloodstream.  Leptin’s main role is long-term regulation of energy balance… the amount of calories we eat and expend, and how much fat we store on our bodies

People with leptin resistance may find that they have frequent or even constant cravings or feelings of hunger. Researchers are still working to fully understand and develop effective treatments for leptin resistance, but for now, controlling cravings is the key to combating the effects of this condition.  If you’re eating lots of sugar/carbs, or if you’re very stressed or sleep deprived, you’re more likely to feel like you have an appetite you just can’t satisfy. To beat your cravings, protein and fiber are the keys as they both keep you very full for a long time.

Reversing Leptin Resistance:  How do you know if you’re leptin resistant?  There is no set blood test done to determine leptin levels. The best test to do to determine if you are leptin resistant is to look in the mirror.  If you have a lot of body fat, especially in the belly area then you are almost certainly leptin resistant.  Leptin resistance occurs years before insulin resistance and full blown diabetes.

So what can we do?  The low carb, gluten free diet will help you tremendously!

  • Cut out grains, refined sugars and processed foods and replace them with “slow burn” foods like protein and fats so you avoid leptin spikes that cause leptin resistance
  • Increase the good fats in your diet including avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, fish oils, butter, ghee and olive oil. Take 2,000mg-3,000mg Omega 3 (fish oils)
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Increase fiber in your diet. I recommend taking fiber supplements 30 minutes before each meal
  • Always have protein with each meal
  • Eat 3 meals per day and not snacking all day stabilizes leptin levels and avoids spikes
  • Exercise like resistance training increases leptin sensitivity so the signals can reach your brain that you’re full
  • Reduce your stress levels and get plenty of sleep

So here is yet another reason to follow a low carb, gluten free lifestyle.  Eating real low carb/sugar food, exercising and sleeping well are all lifelong endeavours that require a shift in lifestyle.

Coffee: Is it good or bad?

So What’s the Scoop?  Is caffeine good for you or bad for you?

Every single day billions of people wake up to caffeine.  There’s a Tim Hortons on every corner and Starbucks is not far behind.  We spend billions of dollars on coffee not only to wake us up and give us energy but because it tastes great!  Nowadays, 80% of the world’s population consumes a caffeinated product each day, and this number goes up to 90% for adults in North America.  Personally I cannot have caffeine.  I am very, very sensitive to it.  If I have just a little, my world is spinning, my heart is beating out of my chest and I feel like I am fighting fainting.  BUT I LOVE COFFEE and so like everyone else, I still drink it but I drink only decaf.

How does caffeine work in the body?  According to Authority Nutrition “Once consumed, caffeine is quickly absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.  From there, it travels to the liver and is broken down into compounds that can affect the function of various organs.  Caffeine’s main effect is on the brain.  It functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired.  Normally, adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly more tired and causing you to want to go to sleep.  Caffeine helps you stay awake by connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them. This blocks the effects of adenosine, leading to reduced tiredness.  It may also increase blood adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.  This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness and focus. Because it affects your brain, caffeine is often referred to as a psychoactive drug.  Additionally, caffeine tends to exert its effects quickly. For instance, the amount found in one cup of coffee can take as little as 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream and about one hour to reach full effectiveness.”

So let’s go through the good and the bad about caffeine

The Good:

  • Very high in anti-oxidants
  • Increases energy
  • Better alertness
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Enhance exercise performance
  • Boosts mood
  • Helps bowels with elimination
  • Supports gut health

Newer Studies Show That Caffeine May:

  • Decrease risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Helps to manage symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Wards off type II diabetes
  • Prevents gallstones
  • Liver protective
  • Cancer protective (due to the anti-oxidant value)

The Bad:

  • Could cause anxiousness
  • Could cause nausea
  • May reduce risk of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Reduce the risk of developing gout
  • Aids in longevity
  • Highly addictive
  • Headaches and migraines when weaning off caffeine
  • Trouble sleeping

The studies are still on-going.  The bottom line is, enjoy your coffee or caffeine laden beverages but don’t over-do it.

What is Syndrome X?

What is Syndrome X?

Well it USED to be called Syndrome X but now it is called Metabolic Syndrome.  According to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans have it. That’s almost a staggering one out of every six people. This syndrome runs in families and is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. The risks of developing metabolic syndrome increases as you age.  So what is it?

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself. Instead, it’s a group of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels (of good and bad), and abdominal fat.  Obviously, having any one of these risk factors isn’t good. But when they’re combined, they set the stage for serious problems. These risk factors double your risk of blood vessel and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes and they increase your risk of diabetes by five times!

The complications that may result from metabolic syndrome are frequently serious and long-term (chronic). They include: hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), diabetes, heart attack, kidney disease, stroke, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, peripheral artery disease and cardiovascular disease.

If diabetes develops, you may be at risk for additional health complications, including: eye damage (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney disease and amputation of limbs.

The good news is that metabolic syndrome can be controlled, largely with changes to your lifestyle!  I know you know what lifestyle I am talking about.  There are so many scientific studies now regarding the low carb diet that you cannot dispute the positive health effects by following this lifestyle including fast weight loss, reduced hunger, insulin and blood sugar control, lower risk of heart disease, reduced risk for certain types of cancer and the list goes on.  So, if you have been told that you have metabolic syndrome, why not try it?  It is so easy if you just keep an open mind and be creative.  My blog is to make the transition easier with all of the amazing low carb (and gluten free) recipes as well as all of the tips available.  Scroll down to one of my original posts where I give you the rules of following a low carb diet.  It’s one thing to cut your carbs but if you really need to lose weight or have any health issues mentioned above, you need to stick to the rules closely.  Let me know your thoughts!

Remedies for Blood Sugar Issues

Top Remedies for Blood Sugar Issues

Do you have blood sugar issues?  Hypoglycemia, Pre-diabetes or diabetes?  As you know by now I am a big advocate of the low carb lifestyle.  Why?  If we eat too much sugar or high-glycemic carbohydrates (white rice, cakes, crackers, bread, potatoes and cookies), we experience a rapid influx of blood sugar. Our body must rush in to compensate with a spike of insulin to take care of the sudden overabundance of glucose, leaving us tired and irritable from the yo-yo effect.   Keeping your blood sugars balanced is one of the most important steps you can take for overall health and vitality as well as weight control. Besides eating a wholesome diet rich in low-glycemic whole fruits, vegetables, protein, and complex carbohydrates, you can optimize your blood sugar levels by including supplements that promote glucose balance.

Check out the top remedies to help you control your blood sugar levels.

  1. Chromium: The best form of this trace mineral is chromium picolinate. Chromium can normalize blood sugar levels, improve blood sugar utilization and decrease insulin requirements in people with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.
  2. Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA): Not only is ALA a very potent anti-oxidant, it enhances insulin sensitivity
  3. Banaba Leaf Extract: Banaba leaf contains corosolic acid that helps transport glucose from the blood into cells for use as energy
  4. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant and works to improve blood glucose by slowing stomach emptying after meals and enhancing insulin sensitivity
  5. Fenugreek: Fenugreek supports balanced blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and carbohydrate absorption. Fenugreek may also stimulate insulin production due to an abundance of amino acids
  6. Gymnema Sylvestre: Gymnema Sylvestre normalizes blood sugar by increasing insulin levels, reducing glucose absorption, and improving sugar uptake
  7. Magnesium: Magnesium increases insulin sensitivity and supports healthy glucose levels

Low carb, low carb, low carb.  Sugar is clearly the culprit to blood sugar issues.  By following a low carb diet you will not have the blood sugar spikes that carbohydrates cause.  It’s really not hard.  It’s simply a matter of being a little creative with your diet and opting not to eat potatoes, pasta, rice and bread.  These are the biggest culprits to name a few.  As much as fruit is healthy for you, it is not good for blood sugars to limit fruit to no more than 1-2 per day and stick with the low glycemic choices like berries.

What Can I Eat on a Low Carb Diet and What Should I Avoid?

The one thing I quickly realized when following a low carb diet is to BE PREPARED!  A lot of us (including me) are lazy cooks.  If my husband isn’t cooking for me I would tend to open a can of tuna and have a tuna sandwich.  It’s simple, easy and fast and quite filling for me.  So, now my husband and I will cook a turkey on the weekend and then I will clean it up and boil the bones to make turkey soup.  So now I have cold turkey for my salads and soup which I just have to re-heat all week.  My soups are just meat and veggies and sometimes black beans.  I never add potatoes or rice to keep the carbs lower.  We will cook chicken and do the same thing as turkey.

The other things we prepare for the week are boiled eggs, cut up veggies and lettuce.  So, when I am hungry (and lazy or busy) I can simply put a salad together, eat soup or have some boiled eggs with cold veggies.  I use MCT oil and balsamic vinegar for my salad dressings and veggie dips with some spices.  So, what exactly should I be eating when following a low carb diet?

  • Meat – all types of beef, pork, chicken, lamb etc.
  • Fish – all types especially those high in Omega 3 such as salmon, mussels, tuna, and sardines
  • Chicken – skin on, free range
  • Vegetables – all types that grown above the ground. Leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, avocados, mushrooms, lettuce.  Stay away from root veggies, the ones that grow in the dirt
  • Cheese – choose the full fat varieties.
  • Cream – full fat, double, whipping.
  • Full fat milk – avoid all flavored milks and avoid any milk in large quantities because even though it may only contain 5% carbs, it is easy to drink a 250ml serving which equates to 12.5g carbs.
  • Nuts and seeds – a great snack but just watch not to overindulge as they still have a fair amount of carbs
  • Eggs – choose free range if you can
  • Fats – use butter, olive oil, coconut oil (high in oleic acid), lard, MCT oil

Foods to Avoid:

  • All processed sugar drinks – pop, juice, energy drinks, anything with sugar and carbs
  • All cakes, biscuits, jams, sweets.
  • All cereals – most cereal contains anywhere from 50%-80% carbs. No wonder they are known as CEREAL KILLERS!!!
  • Bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar etc. There is little nutritional value in these foods and they are loaded in carbs
  • Fruit is something that should be limited because of the high fructose content. It is natures candy. Yes fruit has vitamins and healthy nutrients, but you will be getting far more nutrients from your increase veggie intake. Choose nutrient dense, low carb fruits such as berries. Fruit such as pineapple, mango, and especially dried fruits, should be avoided. Also avoid ALL fruit juices. They have an incredibly high glycemic index, which will make your insulin spike (and start storing fat again). “If you are overweight, fruit is not your friend”.
  • All wheat products have a high glycemic index, raise your blood sugar and increase appetite
  • Grains avoid all grains including wheat, oats, barley, spelt etc.
  • Pasta  is extremely high in carbohydrates and has almost no nutritional value
  • Starchy vegetables if you can tolerate some carbs, choose highly coloured starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, beetroot or sweet potato for their wonderful phytonutrients and vitamins.
  • Rice very little nutritional value. Generally used to bulk out a meal. Try substituting rice for more vegetables or check out cauliflower rice recipes
  • Rice crackers these are almost 80% carbs and incredibly processed, especially the flavored ones. Avoid.
  • Diet or low fat products check the labels and you will see how processed they are and how much higher in carbs they are compared to their regular version e.g, low fat cream cheese can be up to 15% carbs, whereas the regular is only4%

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR…WHY USE IT?

“I’ve heard so much about apple cider vinegar in the last few weeks from a lot of my friends and now it is everywhere on line and in stores.  I heard it’s good for weight loss.  Can you tell me what the hype is with it and will it help me with weight loss?”

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Vinegar is made in a two-step process.  The first step exposed crushed apples (apple cider) to yeast which ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol.  The second step requires adding bacteria to the alcohol solution which further ferments the alcohol and turns it into acetic acid.  This is the main ingredient in vinegar.  The French word “vinegar” actually means “sour wine”.

Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar like Bragg’s shown above contains the “mother” which are really just strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that make the vinegar look murky.  You want the “mother” in your vinegar product as it is very good for you.  Some people believe that the “mother” is responsible for most of the health benefits.  There is only 1-2 calories. zero fat and  less than one gram of carbs per tablespoon depending on the brand.

What are the Benefits of Taking Apple Cider Vinegar?

Below is a list of all of the different things that people claim and studies show:

  • Weight Loss: Studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which can lead to weight loss.  Recent research also shows that vinegar may turn on certain genes involved in breaking down fats and increases metabolism.  It also reduces water retention
  • Blood Sugar Balance: Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping to lower blood sugar responses after meals.
  • Anti-bacterial: The main substance in vinegar, acetic acid, can kill bacteria and/or prevent them from multiplying and reaching harmful levels. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.
  • Heart Healthy: Several studies have shown that vinegar can reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Aids in Digestion: A simple combination of one teaspoon of honey, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a glass of warm water can help you avoid indigestion, no matter what kind of food you’re eating. By sipping this solution before you eat, you can help your food be digested properly and avoid acid reflux.
  • Soothes Sore Throat due to anti-bacterial properties.
  • Rids Dandruff: The acidity of apple cider vinegar actively works with your scalp, changing the pH and making it more difficult for the yeast that causes dandruff to grow.
  • Cures Hiccups: The strong and sour taste focuses your system on dealing with what you just consumed, stopping hiccups from happening.  There are actually lollipops available with the apple cider vinegar in them for people who have recurring hiccups.
  • Stops Congestion: One teaspoon of vinegar in water will help to relieve congestion to help open up your sinuses.

There is so many more things that people claim apple cider vinegar has helped them but I don’t have the time or room to name them all.  Bottom line…it can’t hurt to take it!

How Do I Take It?

This is the easy part.  Simply add 1-3 teaspoons in a glass of water and drink it.  You can do this in the morning and again at night.  Does anyone use apple cider vinegar right now?  If so why do you use it?  I literally just started using it this week for weight loss.  Will keep you posted on my results.

Alternatives to Sugary Foods/Drinks

Finding Alternates to Sugary Foods/Drinks:

If you’re addicted to sugar or carbs and want to reduce/eliminate them but don’t know how, here are some alternatives to some of them:

Soda pop:  One can of regular soda pop has at least 10 teaspoons of sugar in it.  Many of you drink more than one can per day.  Regular diet soda is typically sweetened with aspartame however you can buy pop that is sweetened with Stevia, it’s called Zevia and you can purchase it in many grocery stores or some health food stores.  You could also get a “Soda Stream” which carbonates water or other drinks.  You can then add some lemon or you can get water flavorings but be sure they are sweetened with stevia.  Or you can purchase different flavored stevia drops from nutrition house or other health food stores.

Juice:  If you took one orange and squeezed it, how much juice do you get out of it?  Not much.  Now imagine how many oranges it takes to fill an entire glass.  One medium orange has 12 NET carbs and 9 grams of sugar.  Also, when you are juicing the orange, you are eliminating all of the fiber.  Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugar so you are losing this as well.

Fruit:  As much as fruit is good for you, it is very high in sugar and carbs.  You should not eat more than 2 fruits per day if you are trying to follow a low carb or low sugar diet.

Candy:  Candy is pure sugar…that’s it, pure sugar.  If you must have candy, you can buy sugar free candy but be sure it is sweetened with Stevia or Sugar Alcohols

Cereal:  Cereal is very high in carbohydrates and sugars.  On average a 30g serving has between 25-30g of sugar.  Keep in mind though we typically eat more than 30g at a time so you may double or triple that amount.  If you must have cereal, choose ones that have a lot of fiber in them.  All Bran with Psyllium has 22g total carbs, 11g fiber and 7g sugar.  Subtract the fiber from the total carbs and you have only 11 NET carbs (the absorbable carbs).  You can also use a vanilla protein shake mixed with water to use as a milk substitute.  It adds protein which slow down sugar absorption.  Keep in mind though that if you are following a gluten free diet, you will need to find gluten free cereals but all gluten free cereals re very high in carbs.  You’re best to give up cereal altogether.