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- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Why I Don’t Recommend Melatonin Supplements

Over-the-counter melatonin (“anti-gonad hormone”) supplements tend not to contain what they say they do, and the contaminants could be dangerous.

If you’re crossing three or more time zones during a journey and plan to stay at your destination for a week or more, long enough to make it worthwhile, you can adjust your body clock to the new time by “using behavioural and, if desired, pharmacological methods.” The behavioral method is light exposure and light avoidance at specific times of the day based on which direction you’re going and how many time zones you cross. I feature a helpful table with “recommendations for the use of bright light to adjust body clock after time zone transitions” at 0:23 in my video Are Melatonin Supplements Safe?, which you can also see below. You may want to take a picture or screengrab it for future reference.

The pharmacological intervention is melatonin. “It is called the ‘darkness hormone’ sometimes because…it is secreted at the onset of darkness and is suppressed by light.” A little gland in the center of your head starts to secrete it as soon as it gets dark and shuts off when the sun comes up in the morning, thereby helping to set your circadian rhythm. A lot of research has been conducted on treating jet lag, but most of it has been on rats instead of people, as you can see below and at 0:53 in my video. But, of the handful of human trials that have been done, most have found that taking melatonin “close to the target bedtime at the destination” to try to sync your body to the new time can effectively decrease jet-lag symptoms after long flights “crossing five or more time zones.” It’s important to note that “melatonin differs from most or all other drugs in that the timing of the dose is critical and determines the effect; given at the wrong time it will delay circadian adaptation to local time,” making jet lag even worse. For example, if you were to take “melatonin at bedtime when traveling west,” it “actually could result in a phase advance” when a “phase delay is desired.”

Taking a daily dose of melatonin between 0.5 and 5 mg of melatonin seems to be “similarly effective” in terms of helping with jet-lag symptoms, but the higher dose does have more of a sleeping pill-type effect, allowing people to “fall asleep faster and sleep better after 5mg than 0.5mg,” but that appears to plateau at about 5 mg. Those are massive doses, though. Even taking only a 3 mg dose produces levels in the bloodstream 50 times higher than normal nightly levels. It works, but we don’t know how safe that is. After all, in the early days, melatonin “was known as an anti-gonadal hormone,” with human-equivalent doses of just 1 or 2 mgs reducing the size of sex organs and impairing fertility in laboratory animals. Now, obviously, rats aren’t people, but “considering the pronounced effects of…melatonin on reproductive physiology in these nonhuman mammals, to assume they would not have some sexual effects in humans would almost seem naive.” In fact, the researchers speculated that perhaps melatonin could one day play a role as some sort of a “contraceptive agent in both human males and females.”

Wouldn’t we know about these effects, though? Well, how? Melatonin is available over the counter (OTC) as a dietary supplement, so there isn’t any post-marketing surveillance like there is with prescription drugs. “Without a license, there is no obligation for undesirable side effects following melatonin use to be recorded.” And, let’s not forget about the purity problem. Supplements are so poorly regulated that that you never really know what’s actually in them. Indeed, the “purity of melatonin…cannot be guaranteed. For these reasons, melatonin cannot be recommended….”

Is the purity issue just theoretical though? You don’t know until you put it to the test.

Indeed, due to the “poor quality control of over-the-counter melatonin,” what the labels “say is often not what you get.” Melatonin is not only one of the most popular supplements among adults, but among children, too. An analysis of 31 different brands found that most had just a fraction of what was claimed. What makes that even more egregious is that actual melatonin content varied up to nearly 500 percent compared to what it said on the label. “The most variable sample was a chewable tablet (and most likely to be used by children). It contained almost 9 mg of melatonin when it was supposed to contain 1.5 mg,” which could result in a hundred times higher than natural levels. “In short, there was no guarantee of the strength or purity of OTC melatonin,” leading these researchers to suggest it should be regulated as a drug so that, by law, it would at least contain what it says on the bottle. Okay, but that’s regarding its strength. What about its purity?

“Four of six melatonin products from health food stores”—two-thirds—“contained impurities” that could not be characterized. But, with no exclusive patent, “no pharmaceutical company wants to pay for the toxicological studies and the data assembly required to obtain a product license because it cannot have exclusivity.” The stuff is just so dirt cheap to purchase. The researchers recommend “buying it from a large reputable pharmacy chain and hope for the best.” Is it worth the risk?

A study I discuss at 4:26 in my video suggests it’s not worth the risk at all. Contaminants present in tryptophan supplements were reported to be responsible for a 1980s outbreak of a disease that affected more than a thousand people and resulted in dozens of deaths. Given the structural similarities of tryptophan and melatonin, is it possible that those same toxic contaminants could be created when you’re trying to synthesize melatonin? Indeed, as you can see below and at 4:57 in my video, researchers found similarities between the contaminant blamed on the tryptophan epidemic and what they found in melatonin supplements. In fact, they are a little too close for comfort, suggesting melatonin supplements may just be “‘another accident [epidemic]… waiting to happen.’”

 

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Jet Lag Treatment Cheat Sheet

Use cheat sheets to figure out exactly when and how to treat jet lag using light exposure and light avoidance at specific times of the day, based on which direction you’re going and how many time zones you cross.

“Jet lag is a blessing to circadian biologists because the disruption of mental and physical well-being immediately highlights the importance of our internal ‘body clock,’” the focus of their work. Much of the general malaise we may experience on long journeys may just be “so-called ‘travel fatigue,’” which can occur “regardless of the mode of transport and the number of time zones crossed,” leaving people feeling disorientated, generally weary, and headachy.

Dehydration has been blamed. The air circulated in the cabins of commercial airlines is pretty dry, but even though it can make your throat, skin, and eyes feel dry, the maximum loss of fluid through breath and sweat, for instance, wouldn’t be more than about an extra half cup if you actually did the math. So, it isn’t as though you’re in Death Valley or the Sahara when on a flight. “Further, the calculation assumes that the passenger would be nude,” and I’m sure the airline would charge you extra for that!

Of course, “airplane food—if any is served—tends to be starchy and sugary,” and giving passengers salty snacks like pretzels during a flight doesn’t help. “The vegetarian…special meals are sometimes an improvement, but you must order them in advance. BYOF—bring your own fruit—is a good rule to fly by. A small bag of unsalted almonds or walnuts is a healthy alternative to those skimpy bags of salted peanuts.”

The cabin air isn’t just dry, though; it’s also low in oxygen pressure, about what you’d get at 10,000 feet above sea level, which is about twice as high as Denver. That alone can make you feel lousy. Then, when you land, if you’ve crossed enough time zones, you can suffer from jet lag.

Jet lag is the temporary disconnect between the new time at your destination and that of your own internal body clock, which is still on home time. “This desynchrony is abnormal,” since our internal clock is normally synced to the outside world. Symptoms of jet lag do go away, though, as your body becomes hip to the new time. The “duration of jet lag in days can be calculated to be two-thirds the number of time zones crossed eastwards, compared with half the number of zones crossed westwards.”

Let’s look at an example. As you can see below and at 2:04 in my in my video How to Treat Jet Lag with Light, London is six time zones eastward from Chicago.

So, after flying there, it may take four days before you get back to normal—six eastward time zones multiplied by two-thirds. On the other hand, Londoners flying westward to Chicago should get over their jet lag in only three days—six westward time zones divided by two. The reason it’s easier to go westward, where the day is longer, than it is to go eastward, is because our internal clock is naturally set for longer than 24 hours—“closer to 25 h,” in fact—and has to be reset every day. “It is for this reason that the observed rhythms are called circadian (from the Latin: about a day.”

Interestingly, you can see this in Major League Baseball performance. Researchers churned through 40,000 games, mining 20 seasons, and found “surprisingly specific effects of circadian misalignment [jet lag] on athletic performance under natural conditions.” Indeed, the “jet-lag effects were largely evidence after eastward travel with very limited effects after westward travel, consistent with the >24-h period length of the human circadian clock.” Okay, so how do you treat it?

As you can see below and at 3:05 in my video, you first need to decide whether it needs to be treated at all. If you’re just traveling over one or two time zones, you don’t have to worry about it. If you’re crossing three or more time zones, for instance traveling coast to coast, jet lag “will be experienced,” so it then depends on how long you plan on staying. If only for a few days, it’s probably not worth treating, because you’ll then have to switch back as soon as you return home. “In these cases,” if you have control over your schedule, though, it’s better to “time appointments in the new time zone to coincide with daytime in the home zone that has been left, and to avoid times that coincide with night on ‘body time.’” So, it’s pretty much common sense: If you travel east, your body will still think it should be sleeping in the morning, so you should push your activities to later in the day, and vice versa. But, if you are going to be gone for a while, for a week or more, for example, you can adjust your body clock using behavioral methods and/or drugs, supplements, or foods.

“There is only one sure fire way to avoid jet lag altogether and that is to adapt to the new time zone before flight,” meaning before you leave on your trip. Changing your home sleep schedule more than two hours, however, can be “counter-productive,” because it will interfere with your pre-trip sleep and you don’t want to go into a long trip already sleep-deprived. In fact, before your trip, you want to maximize your sleep. In flight, as you can see below and at 4:12 in my video, the recommendation is for “immediate adjustment to destination meal and light schedule,” although this is easier said than done. Then, once you land, you want to “attempt to maintain destination sleep schedule.” Try not to nap for more than 15 to 30 minutes, and don’t drive around when your body thinks it’s the middle of the night.

The real key to treating jet lag, however, is light therapy. Traveling eastward, you expose yourself to the bright light in the morning and avoid bright light in the evening. The opposite is the case when traveling westward—“evening exposure to bright light; morning avoidance of bright light…” Seems simple, right? It’s actually a bit more complicated than that. “The advice changes…if you’ve traveling through more than six time zones—say from Boston to Athens. Your biological clock may adjust in the wrong direction, reacting to light in the morning as if it were afternoon.” Okay, but what if I tell you it’s even more complicated than that! “The effects of light acting upon the body clock” are actually only during a specific window around the time your body temperature bottoms out, which is usually around 4 AM. As part of our circadian rhythm, our body temperature typically drops from 98.6 degrees down to more like 97.6 degrees, even when we aren’t sleeping, as you can see below and at 5:02 in my video.

What’s the bottom line? I feature two cheat sheets at 5:12 in my video, which you can see below. Snap a picture or screengrab them for future reference. If you fly eastward across eight time zones from Los Angeles to London, for example, on day one, you should avoid light between 6 AM and noon local time and then expose yourself to light between noon and 6 PM. local time. The rest of that first day, your light exposure won’t matter and won’t affect you either way. “On subsequent days, the local times of light avoidance and exposure need to be advanced earlier by 1 – 2 h each day until light avoidance coincides with nocturnal sleep,” that is, when you’re sleeping at night.

But, on those first few days after traveling eastward, note that you’ll want to avoid morning light, which “can be difficult to achieve, particularly on the day of arrival, since many flights are overnight and land in the morning…” One thing you can do is wear really dark glasses until you get indoors. Of course, if they’re too dark, you can’t really drive, which is when those not-so-attractive orange lenses that block blue wavelengths can come in handy, as they prevent the dip in melatonin you can get with regular sunglasses, as you can see below and at 6:09 in my video. Regardless, the next day, you might have the urge to get “out and about,” but that could actually make your jet lag worse by taking you in the opposite direction.

What about if you’re flying eastward more than eight time zones? In that case, you subtract the number from 24 and treat it as travel westward. For instance, an eastward trip across ten time zones—New York to Delhi, say—should be treated as a westward flight, requiring a delay of the body clock across 14 time zones. In that case, it would be easy to get outside and get some sun, but what would you do if you just went four zones westward and needed to get light in the middle of the night?

One gadget company came up with light-emitting headphones, which you can see below and at 6:57 in my video. The theory is that you could bathe your brain in light directly through the ear canals. Researchers stuck them on the heads of cadavers and did seem to get some light penetration, but you don’t know…until you put it to the test. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that “transcranial bright light exposure via the ear canals alleviates jet lag symptoms.” Or…you could just turn on a lamp.

 

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Upcoming Webinar on Vitamin K and Recipe for Veggie Mac & Cheese

My next webinar is on vitamin K. It’s been touted for bone, brain, and heart health, but have vitamin K supplements been shown to help? To complicate matters, there are multiple types of vitamin K: Vitamin K1 is concentrated in greens, and a type of vitamin K2 is found in animal products. Do we need both? Do we have to rely on a healthy microbiome for conversion from one to the other? Do we have to eat a slimy, fermented food called natto? 

Join me for a 60-minute live webinar on October 7 at 2pm ET to learn everything you ever wanted to know about vitamin K.

 

Key Takeaways: Saturated Fat 

Saturated fat—the kind of fat that is solid at room temperature—is found mostly in animal products like fatty meats and dairy. We’ve known for a long time that saturated fat raises cholesterol, contributing to our number one killer, heart disease. It also impacts insulin resistance and can lead to other diseases. Hold on. I said it’s mostly found in animal products, but what about that jar of coconut oil in your cabinet that’s also solid at room temperature? Saturated fat. See what I have to say on the matter of both animal- and plant-derived saturated fats on the topic page.

  Recipe: Veggie Mac & Cheese

Dairy is the number one source of saturated fat in the United States, but, fortunately, there are many ways to make plant-based versions of traditionally dairy-laden dishes. A cruciferous spin on macaroni and cheese, this recipe takes comfort food to a whole new level and is a tasty way to check off a few servings on the Daily Dozen checklist. This recipe comes from Kristina, our director of Nutrition & Social Media Strategy. Get the free recipe here, and watch a video on how it’s made on our Instagram

    Evidence-Based Eating Guide Now in Spanish

I’m thrilled to announce that our popular Evidence-Based Eating Guide is now available in two new languages. This resource includes information on my Traffic Light eating system, the Daily Dozen, sample menus, and more. Read about it and download a digital copy here. You can also order hard copies in English and Spanish for only the cost of printing and shipping. Help us continue creating these fun and useful resources by making a donation today!

    NutritionFacts.org Around the World

Did you know that every NutritionFacts video has subtitles in English and a variety of other languages, prepared by our volunteers? Learn how to access them and other playback settings. Also, see important information about our translated resources.

Consider helping make our free Daily Dozen app more accessible to people around the world by volunteering to contribute translations in your language.

 

Top Three Videos

homemade kimchi in jars in a bright white kitchenThe Role of Kimchi and H. pylori in Stomach Cancer 

What explains the Achilles’ heel in certain Asian diets?

 

 

doctor measuring blood pressure and pulse with clip boardWhy Don’t Health Insurers Encourage Healthier Eating?

Why don’t more big payors in health care embrace plant-based eating?

 

Blue illustration of circulatory systemThe Best Diet for Treating Atrial Fibrillation

What foods should we eat and avoid to reduce our risk of Afib?

 

 

Live Q&A October 6 

image of dr gregerEvery month, I do a live Q&A right from my treadmill, and the next one is October 6!

At 3 pm ET, tune in on our Facebook page, YouTube channel, or (new!) directly on NutritionFacts.org.

You can find links to past live Q&As here on NutritionFacts.org. If that’s not enough, remember, I have an audio podcast to keep you company, too.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Paper-Filtered Coffee and Cholesterol

New data suggest even paper-filtered coffee may raise “bad” LDL cholesterol.

In my video from more than a decade ago called Is Coffee Bad for You?, I explained that the “cholesterol-raising factor from…coffee does not pass [through] a paper filter.” As I discuss in my recent video Does Coffee Affect Cholesterol?, if you give people French press coffee, which is filtered but without paper, their cholesterol starts swelling up within just two weeks, as you can see below and at 0:22 in the video. But, if you switch them to paper-filtered coffee, their cholesterol comes right back down. It’s the same amount of coffee, just prepared differently.

The cholesterol-raising factor from coffee beans has since been identified as the fatty substances in the oil within coffee beans. One reason it took us so long to figure that out is that they didn’t raise cholesterol in rats, hamsters, or even in monkeys, but did in human beings, as you can see below and at 0:45 in my video.

But, the fatty substances apparently get stuck in the paper filter. “This explains why filtered coffee does not affect cholesterol, whereas Scandinavian ‘boiled,’ cafetiere [French press coffee], and Turkish coffees do.” As you can see below and at 1:07 in my video, espresso, which has 20 times more cafestol, the cholesterol-raising substance, than paper-filtered drip coffee, also raises cholesterol, though French press, Turkish, and boiled coffees are progressively worse. Instant and percolated coffee are pretty low, even though neither is prepared with paper filters, but still not as low as paper-filtered drip coffee. Note, however, that if you make drip coffee with a metal mesh filter common in many machines and do not add a paper filter in the cradle, it would presumably be just as bad as French press coffee.

The studies in general “appeared to consistently find” that this fatty component was filtered out by paper, but “a small number of studies suggested that filtered coffee may also increase cholesterol levels, and began to cast some doubt into what appeared to be a fairly clear picture.” So, yes, “although the cholesterol-raising effects brought about by the consumption of filtered coffee may not be as strong as those of the boiled coffee, it is important not to discard the possibility that filtered coffee may also play a small but important role in explaining the cholesterol-raising effects of coffee.”

I had known about a study that found that three cups a day of filtered coffee raised total cholesterol, but the increase in “bad” LDL cholesterol was not statistically significant, as you can see below and at 2:10 in my video. Researchers got the same results in another study, finding that subjects who stopped consumption of filtered coffee reduced their total cholesterol, which suggests that perhaps paper coffee filters only achieve partial cafestol removal. Had anyone ever just measured the levels of the cholesterol-raising compounds found in the paper filters?

Indeed, researchers investigated just that and found most of the cholesterol-raising cafestol was retained by the coffee grounds, rather than actually getting stuck in the paper filter itself. In other words, “the principal function” of the paper filter is not necessarily blocking the compound itself, but blocking any fine particles that are carrying the compound. This is similar to when you make French press coffee. When you depress that plunger with its fine mesh screen, you’ll still get a little sludge at the bottom of the cup. That sludge is made up of the tiny particles that pass through the screen and can carry some of the risk. So, a little cafestol does get through the filter. As you can see below and at 3:07 in my video, you can cut out more than 90 percent of cafestol by switching from a French press or coffee maker with a metal mesh filter to one with a paper filter. If you use coffee that starts out with a high level of the cafestol compound, you’re still clearing out about 95 percent with the paper filter, but could there still be enough left to bump up your LDL? You don’t know until you…put it to the test.

As you can see below and at 3:38 in my video, study subjects started out drinking a high-cafestol coffee, and after a month of drinking two cups a day, their LDL cholesterol increased significantly, even though the coffee was paper-filtered. So, if you have high cholesterol despite eating a healthy diet, you may want to try cutting out coffee and then getting retested. Or, you can try switching to a lower cafestol coffee. There are all sorts of variables that may affect cafestol levels, including roasting degree or grind size, and one can imagine a smaller particle size would allow for greater extraction. Since roasting appears to destroy some cafestol, a really dark roast should have less, but no significant difference was seen between the rise in cholesterol after a medium light roast versus a medium roast; both raised bad cholesterol.

In the chapters on liver disease, depression, and Parkinson’s in my book How Not to Die, I discussed the benefits of coffee for the liver, mind, and brain. Coffee drinkers do seem to live longer and have lower cancer rates overall, but coffee may worsen acid reflux disease, bone loss, glaucoma, and urinary incontinence. The bottom line is that I don’t recommend drinking coffee, but mainly because every cup of coffee is a lost opportunity to drink something even more healthful, such as a cup of green tea, which wouldn’t have the adverse cholesterol consequences.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
How to Handle Raw Poultry

Poultry is the most common cause of serious food-poisoning outbreaks, followed by fish, then beef. But aren’t people more likely to order their burgers rarer than their chicken sandwiches? The primary location where outbreaks occur is the home, not restaurants.

In 2017, a study of more than a thousand food-poisoning outbreaks determined that poultry, specifically chicken, was the most common culprit, “highlight[ing] the role of poultry as a major source of foodborne outbreaks in the United States.” Fish was the second “most frequently reported food category,” and beef was third. But aren’t people more likely to order rare burgers than rare chicken sandwiches? Yes. The biggest problem with poultry isn’t “inadequate cooking,” but “food-handling errors,” both at home and in the grocery store.

As I discuss in my video How to Shop for, Handle, and Store Chicken, a “shop-along observational study was conducted to determine actual shopping, transportation, and storage behavior of consumers who purchase raw poultry products.” What did the researchers find? “Neither hand sanitizer nor wipes were observed in 71% of grocery store meat sections of stores visited.” Even when sanitizing products were available, only one participant out of the 96 they followed used them. Food-poisoning bacteria can get on the outside of packages, “therefore, it also is important to educate shoppers on the importance of using hand sanitizer in the meat section after touching poultry packages.” Plastic bags were available in most meat sections, “but only 25% of shoppers used the bag for their raw poultry purchases…The shoppers placed the poultry [directly] in the main basket of the grocery cart 84% of the time,” where it could come in direct contact with fresh produce that might then be eaten raw in a salad, for example.

After the shoppers put the poultry in the basket, where did their hands go? Without using any kind of sanitizer, most shoppers then grabbed the handle of the cart. “Because shoppers are not practicing good hand hygiene when handling poultry in the grocery store meat section, they could contaminate a variety of items as a result of contact with their hands. Contact with other products occurred frequently in the cart, which could result in cross-contamination. Touching the cart after directly handling the poultry packages could potentially mean that the cart is a risk factor for Salmonella or Campylobacter. The bacteria potentially left on the cart could affect other shoppers, not just the participant being observed.” So, some kale shopper following all the safety precautions can come along and still be exposed to poultry contamination via the grocery cart.

In addition to touching the cart, poultry shoppers may also touch a personal item after touching a raw poultry package. A personal item could even include their children. In fact, as you can see below and at 2:29 in my video, after touching poultry packages, 31 percent of shoppers touched a personal item, like their purse or their child.

Most shoppers left the store with poultry separated in its own bag, “however, most consumers then took it out of this protective layer” when they got home. One in three placed the poultry package directly on the counter before it went into the fridge, and most shoppers “stored raw poultry in the original package without an additional container or overwrap,” where it could potentially come into contact with other items. Fewer than one in five “consumers correctly stored raw poultry…on the bottom shelf of their refrigerators in a sealed container or plastic bag.” Why the bottom shelf? Because if the “raw juices” leak, they could contaminate other foods.

The next mistake most people make is washing or rinsing raw poultry before cooking it. Up to 90 percent of people say they wash their chicken before cooking it, because that’s what they’re used to and “because they want to ‘rinse the slime off of just-opened chicken….’” The problem is that “when poultry is washed or rinsed, ‘splashing’ of contaminated water can travel” throughout a roughly two-foot halo, splattering slime on either side and in front of the sink. And, even though a lot of folks read or heard you weren’t supposed to wash raw poultry, they continued to do it anyway.

Fewer than about one in ten people thaw frozen poultry properly—that is, “put the raw poultry in a sealed container or plastic bag, submerge it in cold water, and change the water every 30 mins per the USDA’s recommendation.” And if you’re wondering whether it’s better to put raw poultry on a wood or plastic cutting board, neither is safe, because both get rapidly contaminated.

“Failure to use a food thermometer is [another] potentially unsafe practice, given that 70% of chicken pieces that were judged by consumers as ‘done’ had not reached safe internal cooking temperatures according to a summary of food safety literature.” In focus groups, “many participants thought food thermometers were unnecessary to determine whether meat and poultry was ‘cooked thoroughly” because they had been ‘cooking for years without once getting food poisoning,’” but had they ever come down with what they thought was a 24-hour flu? There’s no such thing as a 24-hour flu! That was likely food poisoning. Actually, any stomach bug or stomach flu is most likely food poisoning. Ever have a urinary tract infection? There are “multiple lines of evidence indicating poultry as a major food animal reservoir for urinary tract infection” bacteria that lie in wait in the rectum and then crawl up.

More than a million foodborne Salmonella and Campylobacter infections are reported each year in the United States. “Although half of Americans think it is ‘not very common’ for people in the United States to get foodborne illness because of the way food is prepared in their home, food safety experts estimate that the home is the primary location where foodborne disease outbreaks occur.”

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
EMF Sensitivity Put to the Test

There have been at least 46 studies involving more than a thousand people to see if those suffering from electrosensitivity are deluding themselves.

“During the past decade a wide range of symptoms has been reported to be triggered by exposure to RF-EMF,” the radiofrequency electromagnetic fields that emanate from cell phones during use, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. The news media has been promoting this as “a new medical condition, called electrosensitivity, or electromagnetic hypersensitivity.” These stories have been driven, in part, by “people who claim to have detected a clear link between their own poor health and exposure to a specific electrical device,” which “can have major implications for a person’s quality of life and is associated with decrements in general health status, increased levels of health service use, and impairments in occupational and social functioning.”

As you can see below and at 0:50 in my video Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Real?, to see how common this was, researchers sat college students on two big electromagnetic coils and then went through a symptom checklist, asking how the students felt under both strong and weak electromagnetic field conditions.

You can see the graph below and at 0:57 in my video. Students did report neurological symptoms, including headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, and irritability, as well as visceral symptoms, such as palpitations, muscle tension, and nausea, though more nausea was experienced under the “weak” EMF condition. They also reported abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and a little heartburn, and said they could feel it in their skin as “crawly feelings,” “cold skin,” “sweating,” and “itching.” And, their sensory organs registered blurred vision, ringing in their ears, dry mouth, and a little stuffiness, along with some other symptoms. In all, “40 college students were asked to rate their symptoms during ‘sham’, ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ exposure. In reality there was no exposure at all, i.e. all sessions were a ‘sham.’” The students weren’t blasted with any fields at all. The “coils seemed to be connected to an impressive electric power supply with coloured lights and an operating panel, but actually they were no real electric connections between them (i.e. no EMF was generated at all).”

The study was titled “Polluted places or polluted minds?,” suggesting that those who claim to be experiencing these symptoms may be just deluding themselves. Before jumping to conclusions, though, you want to study people who actually suffer from the disorder. So, researchers tested 20 men and women who claimed they were sensitive to cell phones. As you can see at 2:18 in my video, the subjects reported a variety of symptoms upon exposure to cell phone radiation—all sorts of pains, sensations, dizziness, breathing difficulties, and more. So, researchers sat them down in a chair with various active cell phones strapped near their head, and, boy, could they feel it! As you can see below and at 2:27 in my video, they experienced a variety of symptoms—but, ironically, they felt a bit worse with a sham, like a dummy bean-bag phone next to their head! “Contrary to definite expectations,” none of the so-called electrosensitive “could distinguish whether the cellular phones were turned on or off.”

Nearly all such studies have found there is no evidence that the symptoms are anything but psychological in nature. Researchers have noted that those who claim such hypersensitivity tend to exhibit more obsessive-compulsive, hostile, phobic, and paranoid traits. So, they changed the name. What used to be called “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” in the medical literature is now called “idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields,” an acronym (IEIEMF) that sounds like something straight out of Old MacDonald’s Farm. “Despite the conviction of IEI-EMF sufferers that their symptoms are triggered by exposure to electromagnetic fields, repeated experiments have been unable to replicate this phenomenon under controlled conditions.” How many are we talking about? “To date, 46 studies involving 1175 volunteers with IEI-EMF have tested whether exposure to electromagnetic fields can trigger the symptoms reported by this group.” But, when put to the test, when all the studies are put together, as you can see below and at 3:49 in my video, not only were no significant impacts found on any of the symptoms, there was no evidence that subjects were even able to detect the radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.

Not a single person, ever? Well, there was one study in which two participants “showed extraordinary performance,” guessing when the cell phone was on 97 times out of 100. Had that just been chance, that would be like the odds of being struck by lightning four times in a single year. They failed to replicate the result a month later, though, and in science, if you can’t replicate something, it basically doesn’t exist.

So, why does this notion of hypersensitivity persist? Well, there is now an entire industry profiting from various gizmos claiming to protect people against electromagnetic fields, and the media seems to love the hypersensitivity story. Yet “[w]hy don’t journalists mention the data?” The media has tended to claim that “research into this area has been neglected. But the research has been done. In fact, dozens of double blind studies have been performed, but they have been systematically ignored by almost every single journalist covering the issue.” Indeed, we have blind provocation studies published in the peer-reviewed academic literature that are almost all negative. You could argue that the evidence is nearly unanimous. “So why doesn’t the media ever mention this data? Perhaps they deliberately and mischievously leave it out. Perhaps they never came across it, and are incompetent.” Or, maybe they’re just suckered in by the snake oil salesmen, the “aggressive and well coordinated lobbyists” selling all manner of “insulating paint…and insulating beekeeper hats for trips outdoors…” Not only do these hucksters conveniently fail to mention the dozens of studies proving them wrong, “they also viciously attack anyone who even dares to mention the data, accusing them of insensitivity, of attacking sufferers, and of denying the reality of their symptoms.”

No one is saying people are making up symptoms, though. The science just suggests that whatever the symptoms are, the cell phones don’t appear to be causing them. And, if you want to go there, one could just as fairly argue that those who are trying to sell these patients a bill of goods “are themselves hindering better understanding” of their customers’ suffering.

What does this have to do with nutrition? Nothing. It’s just me responding to your requests for our research team to dig into other controversial areas, like mammograms, where multibillion-dollar industries pressing on the scales, making it hard to disentangle the truth. You can click here for a full list of my videos covering mammograms.

We’re doing what we can. Too bad there aren’t other websites like ours, offering objective, evidence-based analyses on all of the important questions in life. If you want to support our work please consider donating.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Does Switching from Cannabis Smoking to a Vaporizer Reduce Respiratory Symptoms?

Cannabis vapor has less tar, but may contain more ammonia. What happens to respiratory symptoms when regular users of joints, blunts, pipes, and bongs switch to a vaporizer?

There are many ways people inhale marijuana, but most smoke it in a bowl, pipe, joint, or bong. This is concerning, since, in many ways, smoke is smoke, and using “devices with water filters, like bongs and hookahs,” doesn’t help in terms of the tar exposure. As I discuss in my video Smoking Marijuana vs. Using a Cannabis Vaporizer, where there’s fire, there’s smoke, and where there’s smoke, there are inflammatory irritants. In fact, the “regular smoking of cannabis…is associated with significant airway inflammation that is similar in frequency, type, and magnitude to that observed in the lungs of tobacco [cigarette] smokers,” which can result in prolonged respiratory symptoms, such as chronic coughing, excess sputum production, wheezing, and shortness of breath, as well as an increased incidence of bronchitis and other respiratory infections.

As I said, in many ways, smoke is smoke, whether it’s from burning plants in a forest fire or burning plants in a joint or cigarette. There are harmful by-products of combustion—any combustion—like carbon monoxide. In fact, you get five times more carbon monoxide per puff in cannabis than tobacco, since pot smokers inhale more deeply than cigarette smokers and then hold the smoke in longer. You can avoid that completely by eating cannabis instead, but the “slow, erratic absorption produced by oral cannabis” doesn’t give the same kind of immediate high. Inhaling cannabis vapor, however, could potentially offer the best of both worlds. At 1:28 in my video and below, you can see charts indicating that vapor appears to give the same kind of high in terms of subjective ratings compared to smoking it, but with significantly less carbon monoxide exposure. So, we’re talking about “similar effects to smoked cannabis while reducing exposure to toxic by-products”—though not necessarily all toxic by-products.

Both cannabis smoke and vapor “contain high concentrations of ammonia,” and, sometimes, vapor can even be worse. So, although vapor has less tar, it may have more ammonia. This was seen in a study using a “commercial electrically heated drug ‘vaporizer’…(the ‘Blue Meanie’).” As you can see below and at 2:04 in my video, using a hot air vaporizer, like ones from the Volcano brand, results in ammonia levels in the bloodstream more comparable to smoking it. The only reason we care about contaminants, though, is because we’re trying to cut down on the inflammation. So, does cannabis vapor produce fewer respiratory symptoms than smoke?

According to one study, which happened to be the first of its kind, yes. Now, vaporizing doesn’t help with dependence issues, impaired driving, or brain damage among heavy adolescent users, but it may improve “cannabis drug safety by minimizing pulmonary [lung] troubles.” The researchers concluded that “regular users of joints, blunts, pipes, and water pipes might decrease respiratory symptoms by switching to a vaporizer,” but this finding was based just on a snapshot-in-time internet survey that asked people about their symptoms. You don’t know for sure until you…put it to the test.

In a study funded by a pro-legalization group, the researchers recognized that “debates about cannabis policy often mention respiratory symptoms as a negative consequence of use,” thereby serving as a stumbling block in pro-legalization efforts. Might inhaling cannabis vapor rather than smoke “minimize respiratory complaints”? The researchers had 20 frequent cannabis smokers with respiratory symptoms switch to using a vaporizer for a month. The results? “The 12 participants who did not develop a respiratory illness during the trial significantly improved respiratory symptoms…”

But, hold on. Eight out of 20 subjects got a respiratory illness within just a single month? That’s 40 percent, which doesn’t sound good. Additionally, the self-reported improvements may have been tinged with bias, as the smokers may have thought such results might be good for the legalization cause. This may have backfired though, as there are calls in the medical literature to legalize just smokeless forms or at least set up policy so that smoked marijuana is more heavily taxed.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Lung Inflammation Smoking Cannabis vs. Cocaine vs. Tobacco

There is unequivocal evidence that regular cannabis smoking causes acute lung inflammation, but what are the long-term consequences?

“There is unequivocal evidence that habitual or regular marijuana smoking is not harmless and causes respiratory symptoms and airway inflammation.” As you can see below and at 0:24 in my video Effects of Smoking Marijuana on the Lungs, if you take biopsies from the airways of those who smoke “cocaine, cannabis, and/or tobacco,” compared to nonsmokers, there is significantly more damage in the lungs of people who smoke, whether cocaine, marijuana, or tobacco. What’s more, the levels of damage seemed comparable, especially between the marijuana smokers and tobacco smokers. This is remarkable since the tobacco smokers were smoking about a pack a day, whereas the marijuana smokers were only smoking about 20 joints a week, rather than 25 cigarettes a day, and those smoking cocaine were just doing a gram or two a week. So, to see similar rates of damage between marijuana smokers and cigarette smokers suggests each joint is way worse than each cigarette.

Indeed, we’ve known for 30 years that smoking three or four joints is the equivalent of smoking about a pack a day of cigarettes, in terms of bronchitis symptoms and acute lung damage. How is that possible? Well, it may be the way they’re smoked. Pot smokers inhale more deeply and then hold in that smoke four times longer, resulting in more tar deposition in the lungs. And, joints are more loosely packed and unfiltered, resulting in both hotter smoke and smokier smoke. So, even though in many ways smoke is smoke, the different method of smoking may explain how a few joints a day appear to cause as much inflammation as an entire pack of cigarettes a day.

Researchers found that the “visual evidence of airway injury was at times striking.” At 1:58 in my video and below, you can see what your airways, that is the tubes inside your lungs, look like with and without tobacco. On tobacco, the airways get inflamed. What about with cannabis? You get the same kind of inflammation in your lungs on pot as you do with tobacco. But, what’s crazy, is that is inflammation is with just 5 joints a day, compared to 26 cigarettes a day.

What happens when you compare the respiratory symptoms associated with marijuana versus tobacco, compared to nonsmokers? As you can see below and at 2:31 in my video, both marijuana smokers and tobacco smokers have elevated rates of chronic cough and excess sputum production, as well as acute episodes of bronchitis and wheezing, compared with nonsmokers. Now, when you quit tobacco, these respiratory symptoms eventually go away. Does the same happen with marijuana? What are the effects of quitting cannabis on respiratory symptoms?

As you can see below and at 2:56 in my video, about 30 to 40 percent of regular cannabis users suffer from cough, excess sputum, wheezing, and shortness of breath. A thousand young adults were followed for years. In those who kept smoking, their respiratory symptoms got worse or remained the same, but those who quit tended to get better.

If we don’t quit, what are the long-term lung consequences? What about chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), like emphysema? Even if smoking a single joint compromises lung function as much as up to five cigarettes, you’re still smoking 15 times less overall. So, shouldn’t you end up with less long-term lung damage? That is, indeed, what’s been found. Even long-term pot smokers don’t appear to suffer lasting lung damage. When people were followed for 20 years, researchers found that an occasional joint didn’t appear to have any discernable effect on long-term lung function, though there may be some “accelerated decline in pulmonary function” among those smoking joints every day for decades, so marijuana “moderation” is suggested.

In other words, “[a] caution against regular heavy marijuana usage is prudent,” but “even regular heavy use of marijuana” is nothing compared with “the grave pulmonary consequences of tobacco.” “Any toxicity of marijuana pales when compared with the greatest legalized killer in the world today—tobacco.” In fact, the greatest risk to our lungs from marijuana may be that it can be a “gateway” drug to cigarettes.

What about using a vaporizer? Find out in my video Smoking Marijuana vs. Using a Cannabis Vaporizer.

I have a whole treasure chest of cannabis videos. If you want to see them all, I put the whole collection on a digital DVD you can download or stream.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Natural Treatment for Breast Engorgement

Cabbage is put to the test in a randomized controlled trial.

My video Benefits of Cabbage Leaves for Relief of Engorged Breasts opens with a photo published in the British Medical Journal of a woman with a cabbage leaf taped onto her knee to help with her osteoarthritis. In response to that picture, doctors wrote in to the editor, asserting that cabbage leaves can help inflammation of any body part. “You may even find that there is a cache of cabbage in the fridge of your local maternity unit.” Why? Not only is cabbage “cheaper than any of the exciting gel filled pouches you can buy,” but knees are not the only “anatomical shapes” that “the leaves conform well to.”

Breast engorgement, when the breasts become overfilled with milk during breastfeeding and become hard, tight, and painful, can negatively impact both mother and infant alike. So, why not put cabbage leaves on them? A lactation consultant in a breastfeeding journal suggests wearing “cabbage leaves either inside a bra or as a compress covered by a cool towel” as it evidently works like a charm. And, once the swelling goes down, frequent breastfeeding should help the breasts from refilling too much.

Where did she even get this idea? Well, after her son got in a car accident, she wrapped his leg in cabbage…and the rest is history. The only adverse side effect identified was a complaint from the son who felt “like a vegetable.”

Based on the information she collected, she concluded that “cool green cabbage compresses have anti-inflammatory, anti-edema [anti-swelling] and anti-infectious properties,” but you don’t really know, until you put it to the test. Yes, but who’s going to do a randomized controlled study of cabbage leaves? Scientists, that’s who. Do cabbage leaves prevent breast engorgement? Let’s find out.

Researchers randomized 120 women to apply cabbage leaves to their breasts or not. Though the cabbage group tended to report less breast engorgement, the trend was not statistically significant. However, one of the big issues we care about is premature weaning, and the cabbage group did seem to be able to extend the time they were exclusively breastfeeding. So, the researchers said they “cannot rule out the possibility that cabbage leaves had a direct effect on breast engorgement, and that this may have contributed to the increased breastfeeding success in the experimental group. However, we consider that the positive effect was more likely to have been mediated by psychological mechanisms.” In other words, they were talking about the placebo effect. They did weed out some of the true believers “in the value of cabbage leaf application,” though, as some women refused to join the study out of fear they might end up in the control group and not be able to use them.

At 2:42 in my video and below, you can see the results of a similar study performed recently that found that while adding cabbage leaves to early breast care didn’t significantly reduce pain, it did seem to significantly reduce breast hardness. Since it probably can’t hurt, some women might just want to give it a try, but it would be nice to get some more concrete answers. For example, how about a treatment trial instead of just prevention? Researchers “suggest that women could be randomized to receive either hot or cold cabbage leaves,” and to control for the placebo effect, you could use placebo cabbage, like iceberg lettuce leaves. In fact, since both breasts are affected, “women could also be used as their own controls, using different treatments for engorgement on each breast,” like a cabbage leaf on one breast and turning over a new leaf on the other.

How about a comparison of chilled cabbage leaves versus chilled gel packs? Just cold alone “decreases blood flow…and might therefore, decrease engorgement of the breast.” On the other hand, “cabbage leaves may contain a chemical that the mother’s skin absorbs, thus reducing edema and increasing milk flow.” You don’t know, until you put it to the test.

“Thirty-four lactating women with breast engorgement used chilled cabbage leaves on one breast and chilled gel packs on the other for up to eight hours.” Their pain levels were established before and after treatment. The result? There was no difference. Both treatments appeared to work about just as well, with two thirds reporting relief within hours, either way—though, interestingly, the majority of mothers preferred the cabbage leaves.

“The similarity in the effect of both treatments may have been caused by the fact that both applied cold, although the effects of the cold in the cabbage leaves would have been transitory.” So, perhaps there’s something special in cabbage leaves after all? What we need is a comparison of chilled versus room-temperature cabbage, and we got just that. In another study, one breast got the chilled cabbage leaf and the other got a room-temperature cabbage leaf, and there was no difference between the two. They both seemed to work, suggesting that it’s not the cold itself that’s doing it, but we still don’t know what role the placebo effect is playing.

If you were going to design a study to determine if there was some special compound in cabbage that could decrease breast engorgement, what would you do? You could try the iceberg lettuce, but if women have heard about the cabbage effect, they might have an expectation bias in favor of the cabbage. Well, how about using a cabbage leaf extract? Then, you can finally do a double-blind experiment where women are asked to rub on a cream containing either a cabbage leaf extract or a placebo cream, and they don’t know which treatment they’re getting. Researchers even added rosewater to both creams “to camouflage any residual odor of cabbage in the experimental cream.” The result? There was no difference in relief. Now, “the decrease in discomfort produced by the cream…was not as strong as that produced by the real cabbage leaves in the previous studies.” The superiority of the whole leaves “might be explained by a failure of the extract to contain the potentially active chemical in the cabbage leaves,” or maybe the chemical broke down or wasn’t concentrated enough, or maybe there was just a powerful placebo effect of wearing cabbage leaves. The bottom line is that, “even though no active pharmacological substance in cabbage leaves has been identified in the literature, its convenient shape, low cost, wide availability and purported soothing effect make it a sought after treatment.”

And you thought all cabbage was good for was coleslaw!

Does it work for knee arthritis? Check out Benefits of Cabbage Leaves on the Knee for Osteoarthritis.

What else can cabbage do? See The Benefits of Kale and Cabbage for Cholesterol.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
One Daily Cup of Blueberries Found to Improve Cognition

Blueberries can significantly improve cognitive performance within hours of consumption.

When you search the medical literature for studies on berries, papers like this pop up: “A 3-Week-Old With an Isolated ‘Blueberry Muffin’ Rash.” Or, you’ll see pictures of strawberry tongues or read about a way to describe the appearance of stool, though “stools truly resembling currant jelly” are not very common. What is it with pathologists’ love affair with food terminology? The grossest may be the way amoeba chest infections are described—“expectoration of ‘anchovy sauce-like’ pus,” which sounds gross even without the pus.

There are actual studies on berry supplementation, such as how they can mitigate the negative effects of a high saturated fat diet on the brain and behavior, but that one in particular was in mice. Maybe a better way to mitigate would be not feeding your pet mouse a stick of butter in the first place.

Then, there are studies of proprietary berry-based nutraceutical supplements, purported to improve cognitive performance. At 1:11 in my video Flashback Friday: Benefits of Blueberries for the Brain and below, you can see how the supplement group has a steeper rise in cognitive performance over the placebo group. Looks impressive, right? Ah, but old hats will instantly recognize this as the timeless trick featured in the 1950s classic, How to Lie with Statistics. If you look closely at the chart, you’ll notice the Y axis does not start at zero. That’s to inflate the appearance. When you correct the graph and start that axis at zero, you can see the effect doesn’t look quite so impressive.

There are studies of actual berries on actual humans, but when they’re funded by berry industry trade groups, you get studies like this: “An afternoon snack of berries reduces subsequent energy intake compared to an isoenergetic confectionary snack.” Sounds great, but what’s an “isoenergetic confectionary”? Candy. Researchers compared strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries to a handful of Jelly Babies, which are just like coated gummy bears. Do berries offer so little that you have to compare them to candy to make them look good?

You may remember I’ve talked before about that famous Harvard study where berry eating appeared to delay brain aging by up to two-and-a-half years. You don’t know if it’s cause-and-effect, though, until you put it to the test. Researchers found that “blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults” in just 12 weeks’ time, but that was feeding them up to six cups of wild blueberries a day. Now, this was a proof-of-concept pilot study just to see if they could get any effect. We just didn’t have any studies using more realistic doses…until now.

What about just one daily cup of blueberries? Researchers found that “the addition of easily achievable quantities of blueberry to the diets of older adults can improve some aspects of cognition,” like long-term memory. In terms of the number of errors, the placebo group got worse, and the blueberry group got better, as you can see below and at 3:03 in my video.

You can even correlate the cognitive improvements with enhanced brain activation using fancy brain scan technology to actually visualize the improved blood flow to those same regions of the brain caused by the blueberry consumption.

Does it work in kids, too? Well, “blueberry treatments have shown positive effects on cognition in both animals and adult humans,” but do those these benefits transfer to children—human children? Researchers put together a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study comparing about one cup of blueberries to two cups and no blueberries at all. What did they find? “Importantly, across all measures, cognitive performance improved,” and the more berries, the better. This wasn’t after 12 weeks of eating berries, either, but within hours of just a single meal with blueberries. Sounds like we should add blueberries to breakfast, especially on days our kids are having their exams.

Wait a second, healthy and delicious? That’s what plant-based eating is all about.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
20% Off Entire Store and a Pre-Workout Smoothie Recipe

Our annual summer merchandise sale has kicked off, and ALL items are 20% off! This includes our new notebook and shirts, and all of our trusty fan favorites, like the Daily Dozen tee and Plants Are the Best Medicine mug. Sale ends August 26. 

 

Key Takeaways: Insomnia

If you suffer from insomnia, chances are you’re frustrated as well as exhausted. Caffeine, alcohol, and even the kinds of foods we eat can interfere with a good night’s rest. So, what can we do about it? Check out the topic page for more information, including four rules for sleep conditioning and four rules for sleep hygiene.

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Pre-Workout Smoothie

This smoothie recipe comes from our executive director (and competitive powerlifter), Katie. Infuse your body with antioxidants and artery-opening nitrates before your workout—or anytime! Get the free recipe here, and visit our Instagram for a video on how it’s made.

 

 

 

Volume 59 Out Now

My new volume of videos is out now. This collection includes such topics as the sweetener allulose, the impact of fasting on chemotherapy, bad breath, why athletes should eat plant-based diets, and more.

Each video in this new volume will be released online over the next few months, available for free, of course, but if you don’t want to wait, you can stream all of them right now

If you are a $15+ monthly supporter and opted in to our donor rewards, you’re likely an expert on these new topics by now, since you already received a complimentary link to the new download. If you’d like early access to new videos before they’re available to the public, please consider becoming a monthly supporter. Without your generosity, we wouldn’t be able to continue our work. Thank you!

And, remember, if you watch the videos on NutritionFacts.org or YouTube, you can access captions in several different languages. To find yours, click on the settings wheel in the lower-right corner of the video and then “Subtitles/CC.” Happy viewing!

 

The Daily Dozen Meal Planning Guide

Our new meal planning guide is a printable resource for eating healthfully with confidence. It introduces the Daily Dozen plate to help you visualize healthy meals, worksheets for planning and building your own meals, and a shopping list to make sure you hit all of the Daily Dozen categories at the grocery store. Download this new guide here.

 

 

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Dave Edwards

I review videos for accuracy before they go live and also create screen captures of the videos to be inserted into the blogs. I feel Dr. Greger’s work is very important because it adds scientific support to a discussion that is often anecdotal and confusing. It really adds clarity and grounding to a very important subject that affects almost every area of life. My favorite plant-based food is what I call a “BBOF”—Big Bowl of Fruit. You can’t go wrong with so much variety and great health benefits.

    Top Three Videos

hulled barleyHow to Cultivate a Healthy Gut Microbiome with Food

Our gut flora is determined by what we eat, for good or for ill. 

 

chia seeds in a spoonFriday Favorites: Do Chia Seeds Help with Belly Fat?

The secret to unlocking the benefits of chia seeds may be grinding them up.

 

one meat burger and one veggie burgerThe Health Risks vs. Benefits of Meat Consumption

The meat industry’s own study concluded that meat consumption increased the risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and premature death.

 

Live Q&A on August 25 

Live Q&AEvery month, I do a live Q&A right from my treadmill, and the next one is on August 25!

Join on our Facebook page or YouTube channel at 3pm EDT. I’ll be streaming to both at the same time.

You can find links to past live Q&As here on NutritionFacts.org. If that’s not enough, remember, I have an audio podcast to keep you company, too.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Why I Include Lentils in my BROL Recipe

Lentils and chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are put to the test.

If you compared the total antioxidant content of ten different legumes, which do you think would come out on top? Researchers looked at the “pinto bean, baby lima bean, red kidney bean, black kidney bean [what I believe we more commonly know as black bean], navy bean, small red bean, black eyed bean [black-eyed pea], mung bean, lentil, and chickpea.” Who can guess the winner and the loser? As you can see at 0:33 in my video Benefits of Lentils and Chickpeas, lima beans came in at number ten at the bottom of the list. Then came navy beans, black-eyed peas, and mung beans, which is what bean sprouts are typically made from, in seventh place. Moving into the winner’s circle, kidney beans. I’ll bet many would have guessed those to be our number one, but, no. They came in sixth, in the middle of the pack. Five legumes beat them out: pinto beans, black beans, the bronze to small red beans, the silver to chickpeas (garbanzo beans), and the gold to lentils. As you can see below and at 1:17 in my video how lentils pull away from the pack in terms of scavenging up free radicals. Lentils top the charts based on a variety of different measures. Might it be because they’re so small and their nutrients are concentrated in the seed coat, so smaller means more surface area? That would be my guess.

When pitted against cholesterol in vitro to try to prevent oxidation, lentils also seem to stand out, perhaps making it “the best among all tested food legumes for the development of a dietary supplement for promoting heart health and for preventing cancers”—or you could just have some lentil soup. (They are the L in my BROL prebiotic mix recipe featured in How Not to Diet and The How Not to Diet Cookbook.) “Aside from lentils, black beans, black soybeans, and red kidney beans” were also found to top the list.

As you can see below and at 2:05 in my video, the ingredients of a breakfast made up of a bagel, cream cheese, margarine, egg, cantaloupe, and whole milk. What would happen if you also served either a bowl of black bean soup, just the amount of fiber found in that bowl of soup, or just the amount of antioxidants found in that bowl of soup? Which do you think works better?

 

Whole plant foods can be greater than the sum of their parts. “Nowadays, it is popular to isolate and sell functional components of foods as dietary supplements and many supplements are marketed for their ‘antioxidant’ properties. However, functional ingredients”—the extracted ingredients—“may not produce the same effects when delivered outside a whole food matrix” or form. In one study, for example, the researchers compared “the ability of black beans to attenuate postprandial [after-meal] metabolic, oxidative stress, and inflammatory responses [to a crappy breakfast] and determine relative contributions of dietary fiber and antioxidant capacity to the overall effect.” Well, it’s kind of a no-brainer. “Overall, the inclusion of black beans in a meal improved postprandial metabolic responses…that could not be explained by either the fiber or antioxidant fractions alone.”

Beans can even affect our responses to subsequent meals. When our body detects starch in our small intestine, it slows down rate at which our stomach empties. That makes sense, since the body wants to finish digesting before the next meal comes down the pike. So, researchers “hypothesized that eating a slowly digestible starch, such as lentils, may trigger these potent…mechanisms to result in a sustained delaying effect on gastric [stomach] emptying.” You can see below and at 3:34 in my video, a graphic showing the stomach emptying rate at a second meal consumed four and a half hours after eating a “premeal of either lentils or bread,” a quickly digesting starch. The chart doesn’t show how fast your stomach empties itself of the premeal, but how fast it empties a second meal eaten hours after you ate those lentils or that bread. So what happened? A premeal of lentils significantly slowed stomach emptying of a second meal compared with a premeal of quickly digestible bread. In fact, the lentil premeal slowed stomach emptying by about an hour, which means you would feel that much fuller for that much longer after lunch, simply because you had some beans for breakfast.

And, when all the fiber and resistant starch make it down to the large intestine, they can feed the good bacteria in our colon. Researchers fed people a little over a cup of canned chickpeas a day, and, in just three weeks, some of the bad bacteria, the “pathogenic” and “putrefactive bacteria,” got crowded out, nearly halving the number of people colonizing a high ammonia-producing bacteria, indicating that chickpeas “have the potential to modulate the intestinal microbiome to promote intestinal health in humans” within a matter of weeks.

I’ve since expanded my BROL prebiotic mix to include hulled purple barley and rye berries. Together with oat groats and beluga lentils, they form the base for many a sweet and savory dish in the Greger household.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
A Plant-Based Workplace Wellness Program Put to the Test

What is the return on investment for educating employees about healthy eating and living?

“How do you wipe out the nation’s heart disease epidemic?” Those were the opening words to an editorial by Dr. Michael Jacobson, co-founder of Center for Science in the Public Interest, in the October 2005 issue of the charity’s Nutrition Action publication. Wrote Jacobson, “The best approach I’ve seen is the Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP),” which was renamed the Complete Health Improvement Program and then most recently, Pivio. CHIP tells people to eat more whole plant foods and less meat, dairy, eggs, and processed junk. It is considered to be “a premier lifestyle intervention targeting chronic disease that has been offered for more than 25 years.” More than 60,000 individuals have completed the program, which I discuss in my video A Workplace Wellness Program That Works.

Most CHIP classes are “facilitated by volunteer directors, sourced primarily through the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who had an interest in positively influencing the health of their local community.” Why the Adventists? Their “health philosophy is built around the holistic biblical notion” that the human body should be treated as a temple. What’s more, many CHIP participants are Adventists, too. Is that why the program works so well? Because they have faith? You don’t know until you put it to the test.

Researchers looked at the influence of religious affiliation on responsiveness to CHIP, studying 7,000 participants. Even though Seventh-Day Adventists (SDAs) make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, about one in five CHIP-goers were Adventists. How did they do, compared with the non-Adventists (non-SDAs)? “Substantial reductions in selected risk factors were achieved…for both SDA and non-SDA,” but some of the reductions were greater among the non-Adventists. “This indicates that SDA do not have a monopoly on good health…”

Middle class, educated individuals also disproportionally make up CHIP classes. Would the program work as well in poverty-stricken populations? Researchers tried to reduce chronic disease risk factors among individuals living in rural Appalachia, one of the poorest parts of the country. “Conventional wisdom has been that each participant needs financial ‘skin in the game’ to ensure their attentiveness and commitment” to lifestyle change programs. So, if offered for free to impoverished communities, the results might not be as good. In this case, however, the “overall clinical changes in this pilot study [were] similar to those found in other 4-week CHIP classes throughout the United States,” suggesting CHIP may have benefits that “cross socioeconomic lines” and are “independent of payment source.” So, why don’t employers offer it free to employees to save on health care costs? CHIP is “described…as ‘achieving some of the most impressive clinical outcomes published in the literature,’” including “clinical benefits of the intervention, as well as its cost-effectiveness…”

Lee Memorial, a health care network in Florida, offered CHIP to some of its employees as a pilot program. (Sadly, health care workers can be as unhealthy as everyone else.) As you can see below and at 3:05 in my video, they reported an average 17-pound weight loss, a 20-point drop in bad LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure normalization in most participants. Lee Memorial initially invested about $38,000 to make the program happen, but then saved $70,000 in reduced health care costs in just that next year. How? Because the employees became so much healthier. They got a financial return on investment of 1.8 times what they put in.

There hadn’t been a return on investment (ROI) study in the peer-reviewed medical literature until Dexter Shurney stepped up to the plate and published a workplace study out of Vanderbilt. “There was a high degree of skepticism at the planning stage of this study that active engagement could be realized in a sizable portion of the study group around a lifestyle program that had as its main tenets exercise and a plant-based diet.” Vanderbilt is, after all, in Tennessee, smack dab in the middle of the Stroke Belt, known for its Memphis ribs. (You can see a graphic of “Stroke Death Rates…by County” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention below and at 3:55 in my video.) Nevertheless, the subjects got on board enough to improve their blood sugar control and cholesterol. They also reported “positive changes in self-reported physical health and well-being. Health care costs were substantially reduced for study participants compared to the non-participant group.” For example, nearly a quarter of the participants were able to eliminate one or more of their medications, so they got about a two-to-one return on investment within just six months, providing evidence that just “educating a member population about the benefits of a plant-based, whole-foods diet is feasible and can reduce associated health care costs.”

The largest workplace CHIP study done to date involved six employee populations, including, ironically, a drug company. The study included a mix of white-collar and blue-collar workers. As you can see below and at 4:40 in my video, there were dramatic changes experienced by the worst off. Those starting with blood pressures up around 170 over 100 saw their numbers fall to around 140 over 85. Those with the highest LDL cholesterol dropped 60 points and had a 300-point drop in triglycerides, as well as a 46-point drop in fasting blood sugars. Theoretically, someone coming into the program with both high blood pressure and high cholesterol might “experience a 64% to 96% reduction in overall risk of myocardial infarction,” a heart attack, our number one killer.

As Dr. Jacobson concluded in his editorial in Nutrition Action, “For the cost of a Humvee, any town could have a CHIP of its own. For the cost of a submarine or a farm subsidy, the entire country could get a CHIP on its shoulder.”

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Pivio: The Complete Health Improvement Program

Learn about this community-based education program informing physicians and patients alike about the power of nutrition as medicine.

“The best kept secret in medicine is that, given the right milieu”—the right conditions—“the body heals itself, and “[w]hen it comes to cardiovascular disease, there is no substitute for nutritional excellence.” We know about Ornish, Pritikin, Barnard, Esselstyn—all the great names in evidence-based nutrition—but how many have heard about the CHIP program, the Coronary Health Improvement Project, a volunteer-run community-based education program? “More so than any clinical trial, educating physicians and patients alike about the power of nutrition as medicine is the best investment we can make in the fight against heart disease.” More effective, cheaper, and safer. What are the side effects? Improved overall health—and not just physical health, as I discuss in my video CHIP: The Complete Health Improvement Program.

“Lifestyle change programs such as CHIP aimed at improving physical health behaviors can likewise have a profound effect on mental health.” Studies of thousands of individuals who went through CHIP (now called Pivio) have shown there were significant improvements in a number of “sleep or stress disorders,” such as sleeping restlessly, not sleeping at all, or feeling stress, upset, fear, or depression. Most of the numbers were cut in half, and all were highly significant findings, as you can see below and at 1:16 in my video. The question is, why?

“The psychological well-being of the CHIP participants might have been positively affected by increased feelings of empowerment, making strides toward reducing their body weight, and improving other health indicators.” As they started eating better and making strides, “participants’ sense of despair, failure, and possibly social isolation may be replaced with a growing sense of accomplishment, increased social support and a new sense of hope.” Or, they just may have been feeling better physically. If your diabetes goes away, for example, that’s reason enough to perk you up.

Although these before-and-after results looked great, what was missing? A control group. Didn’t each participant act as their own control, though, before and after? You may think that, but then you’d be forgetting about the Hawthorne effect, which tells us that just being in a study under observation can affect people’s behavior. For example, if you’re put on a scale and weighed, and then told you’ll be weighed again in six months, you may consciously—or unconsciously—just eat better on your own, even if you aren’t told to do anything special. That behavior is so common it has its own name. So, how many of these improvements would have happened without CHIP?

It’s great that you can take a thousand people and “markedly reduce their risk factor profiles” for our leading killer in just four weeks, but to know exactly what role healthy eating and lifestyle advice can play, you need to put it to the test and perform randomized controlled trials.

When just such a study was performed, as expected, there were small improvements even in the control group, but “[f]or almost all variables, the [CHIP] intervention group showed significantly greater improvements,” so much so that it had “the potential to dramatically reduce the risks associated with common chronic diseases in the long term.” Ironically, CHIP was so successful in Rockford, Illinois, that dozens of area restaurants started offering special plant-based menu options. So, the control group might have been sneaking in some healthier meals, too.

What about the mental health improvements? In a randomized controlled trial, those in the CHIP group showed significantly greater improvements not just in physical functioning, pain, and general health perceptions, but also vitality, social functioning, and emotional and mental health. For example, as you can see below and at 3:45 in my video, there were significant improvements, particularly in mild to moderate depression, compared with the control group—and not only right after the program ended, but six months later.

The CHIP acronym started out as the Coronary Health Improvement Project, but as study after study “showed the efficacy of the intervention in addressing other chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and even depression, it was renamed the Complete Health Improvement Program.”

As Hans Diehl, founder of CHIP, explained, “As a society, I think we are largely at the mercy of powerful and manipulative marketing forces that basically tell us what to eat…Everywhere we look, we’re being seduced to the ‘good life’ as marketers define it”…[but] this so-called ‘good life’ has produced in this country an avalanche of morbidity and mortality”—disease and death. “What I would like to see in America is not this ‘good life,’ but the ‘best life.’ The best life is a simpler lifestyle—one characterized by eating more whole foods, foods-as-grown…”

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Which Diet Works Even Better the Longer You Do It?

The most well-published community-based lifestyle intervention in the medical literature is also one of the most effective.

CHIP, the Complete Health Improvement Program—now known as Pivio, may be “the most well-published community-based lifestyle interventions in the [medical] literature.” It is also one of the most effective, with clinical changes “approaching those outcomes achieved in [live-in] residential lifestyle programs.”

As I discuss in my video The Weight Loss Program That Got Better with Time, CHIP encourages people to transition toward a more whole food, plant-based diet, and the “average reductions in blood pressure were greater than those reported with the DASH [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension] study and comparable with the results” of blood pressure-lowering drug trials. If we’re going to reverse the worldwide chronic disease epidemic, though, we’ve got to scale this up. To make CHIP more accessible to a wider audience, each of Hans Diehl’s live presentations was videotaped. Then, a “trained and certified” volunteer facilitator got people in a room to watch the videos and helped foster discussion. When it comes to safe, simple, side effect–free solutions, such as a healthier diet and lifestyle, you don’t need to wait for a doctor to show up and give a lecture. Sounds great, but does it work?

Those individuals who were the worst of the worst and participated in the program, finishing all the videos, had a 20-point drop in blood pressure, a 40-point drop in bad LDL cholesterol, and more than a 500-point drop in triglycerides, as you can see below and at 1:08 in my video. Of those who came in with diabetic-level fasting blood sugars, about one in three left with nondiabetic-level fasting blood sugars. Remember, all of this was achieved simply by empowering people with knowledge. Just encouraging people “to move toward a whole-food, plant-based diet” led to these remarkable benefits.

What was the effectiveness of this volunteer-delivered lifestyle modification program on 5,000 participants? The same kind of significant reductions in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugars were found. Most studies giving “dietary advice to free-living subjects can be expected to reduce blood total cholesterol by only 3-6%…[but a] sustained reduction in blood total cholesterol concentration of 1% is associated with a 2-3% reduction in the incidence of heart disease.” So, on a population scale, even small differences matter. Put thousands of people through just one month of CHIP, however, and you get an 11 percent drop on average and up to a nearly 20 percent drop among those who need it most, as you can see below and at 2:12 in my video.

Do the participants maintain their healthy habits, though? Doctors can’t even get most people to take a single pill once a day. How effective can a volunteer-led video series be at getting people to maintain a change of eating habits? Researchers looked at the CHIP data to find out. How were participants doing 18 months after completing the program? Most were able to maintain their reductions of meat, dairy, and eggs, though some of the junk food had started to slip back in. Their fruit and veggie consumption dipped, though not back to baseline. Ready for the huge shocker? Even though the participants had been told explicitly to eat as much as they wanted without any calorie- or carb-counting and without any portion control, just by being informed about the benefits of centering their diets more on whole plant foods, by the end of the six-week program, they were eating, on average, about 339 fewer calories a day without even trying. Instead of eating less food, they were just eating healthier food.

But that was right at the end of the six-week program when they were all jazzed up. Where were they 18 months later? Anyone familiar with weight-loss studies knows how it works: You can excite anyone in the short term to lose weight using practically any kind of diet, but then after six months or a year, they tend to gain it all back—or even more. The CHIP participants were eating about 300 fewer calories a day during the program, but 18 months later, they were eating about 400 fewer calories. What kind of diet can work even better the longer you do it? A whole food, plant-based diet. “Many weight loss programs restrict energy [calorie] intake by limiting portion sizes, which often results in hunger and dissatisfaction with the eating regime, thus contributing to low compliance and weight regain,” but the satiety-promoting all-you-care-to-eat plant-based, whole-food dietary approach may be the secret weapon of sustainable weight loss.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
The “Optimal Diet” Is Put to the Test

The CHIP program (now called Pivio) has attempted to take the pioneering lifestyle medicine work of Pritikin and Ornish and spread it out into the community.

England has been keeping mortality statistics since 1665 when one person was “killed by a fall down stairs at St. Thomas Apostle.” That same week, though, nearly 4,000 people died of the plague.

Today, the modern plague is heart disease, the number one killer of men and women, but it wasn’t always this way. If you dig into those old statistics, heart disease was already killing off 5 to 10 percent of the population by the middle of the last century, but it “was practically unknown at the beginning of the [20th] century.” Consider the natural history of coronary heart disease in the 1920s and 1930s. As you can see at 0:45 in my video What Is the Optimal Diet?, it skyrocketed tenfold in both men and in women. What was going on? We get a clue in a study that divided people by socioeconomic class. (You can tell the paper was written about 1950 because the subjects are identified as “Males” and “Wives.”) The richest folks had up to triple the heart disease of the poorest. Did it have something to do with their rich diets? You don’t know, until you put it to the test. In doing so, we discover “the natural cure of coronary heart disease,” found decades ago by Nathan Pritikin, who developed the eponymous plant-based diet and lifestyle program, followed by Dean Ornish and then Caldwell Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic, but how many know of the name Hans Diehl?

Dr. Diehl was the first director of research at the Pritikin Center back in 1976. He was inspired by the amazing results they were getting—amazing results like those gotten by a certain Grandma Frances Greger. Diehl “recognized the limitations of [live-in] residential programs, including their cost…and the ‘artificial’ living environment that made sustaining the learned behaviors more difficult for participants when they returned to their home setting. In response, Diehl developed CHIP”—now known as the Complete Health Improvement Program—“as an affordable 30-day lifestyle intervention to be delivered to individuals in their community.

Ten years in, Dr. Esselstyn encouraged Dr. Diehl to publish their results in the American Journal of Cardiology. “Coronary Risk Reduction Through Intensive Community-Based Lifestyle Intervention: The Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP) Experience” famously started with a quote from the pioneer of coronary bypass surgery who described it as “only a palliative treatment. The incidence of coronary disease will only be decreased by proper preventive measures.”

We know that “vigorous cholesterol lowering” can slow, arrest, or even reverse atherosclerosis, but it only works if you do it. Live-in programs work because you can control people’s diets, but they’re expensive and people may go back home to toxic food environments. So, instead of them coming to you, what if you go to them in the community?

The original program was 16 evening sessions over four weeks. “The major focus of the program was to encourage participants to adopt the Optimal Diet,” and they were also “encouraged to exercise 30 minutes a day.” Most importantly, however, they were to “embrace” centering their diet around whole plant foods. Now, that was the optimal—a whole food plant-based diet—but “the program did not prescribe a dietary dogma but instead encouraged participants to move along the spectrum toward the ad libitum consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes”—incorporating more whole, healthy plant foods into their diets. They didn’t provide meals, just advice and encouragement. And, after only four weeks, there was an average weight loss of about six pounds, blood pressures went down about six points, bad LDL cholesterol went down 16 to 32 points, and fasting blood sugars dropped as well, as you can see below and at 3:36 in my video.

“Often, participants were able to decrease or discontinue antidiabetic, hypolipidemic [cholesterol-lowering], and antihypertensive [blood pressure–lowering] medication,” making their findings even more extraordinary. Indeed, they achieved better numbers on fewer drugs.

Live-in programs, such as the Pritikin Longevity Center and the McDougall Program, are great in that you can optimize the clinical benefits, but they can cost thousands of dollars and cause many participants to miss work. On the other hand, CHIP is cheap, and people can live at home, so they aren’t spoon-fed a perfect diet for a few weeks at some spa only to go back to their cupboards of cookies. CHIP is a free-living program, teaching people how to eat and stay healthy within their home environments. At least, that’s the theory. These remarkable results were after just four weeks in the program. “The true test, however, will be to what extent people adhere to their new lifestyle and sustain their health benefits,” looking forward to weeks, months, or even more than a year later, which we’ll explore in my video  Flashback Friday: The Weight-Loss Program That Got Better with Time.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Secretin for Autism

The secretin story holds an important lesson that extends far beyond autism.

“Many families, if not a majority of families” with a child suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) “pursue dietary and nutritional approaches as components of treatment. Estimates of the use of alternative therapies range from 28 to 95 percent, with special diets or dietary supplements the most frequently cited approach. Why so common? My video Alternative Treatments for Autism explores the issue.

“Perhaps acting on suspicion or distrust of standard medical practices, a desire not to have their children ‘drugged’ or the desire to seek curative treatment because of the frustration with deficiencies in traditional medical interventions, therapies based on dietary interventions appeal to parents of children with autism as more safe, natural, and holistic approaches to treating their children”—but it also could be simply because the drugs don’t work.

“Pharmacological interventions in ASD are mainly aimed to reduce commonly associated symptoms, including inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, compulsions, anxiety, sleep disturbances, irritability, self-injury, and aggression”—calm them down and help them sleep—but they have no effect on “the core symptoms of ASD,” like the social withdrawal and abnormal behaviors. “Only two drugs have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of autism…and both target an associated behavior problem, irritability, rather than the core deficits in social skills and repetitive behavior. Both drugs also have significant side effects, including weight gain and sedation. It’s no surprise, therefore, that parents seek complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies to try to help their affected children.” Okay, but do the alternatives work any better?

In the alternative medicine literature, you’ll see a lot of this kind of attitude: Evidence schmevidence! As long as the treatment isn’t harmful, why not give it a try? Or, going even further to suggest trying a treatment even if the evidence is stacked against it, because—who knows?—maybe your kids are the exception. I’m sympathetic to that thinking. “Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous charlatans who are eager to take advantage of parents desperate to try anything that sounds like it might help their children with autism. We [researchers] receive several emails a week from practitioners offering ‘the cure’ for autism (often for the ‘low, low price’ of $299). We are often horrified at how these emails use guilt and guile to encourage families to try these untested treatments because ‘if you really loved your child, wouldn’t you want to leave no stone unturned?’”

When challenged, “many practitioners of these supposed cures will say things like ‘I know it works,’ ‘I’ve seen it work,’ or ‘I don’t want to spend time and money testing it when I could be helping children right away.’ We [researchers] urge parents to run, not walk, away from any treatment that claims to be too good for science.” Indeed, “all treatments should be subjected to the rigor of well-designed, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials.” Our children deserve no less.

Parents try them anyway, often without even telling their physicians, “noting a perceived unwillingness to consider potential benefits [of alternatives] among clinicians,” which I think arises because we’ve been burned so many times before. “High-profile examples of ineffective or dangerous CAM therapies led to a general mistrust of and distaste for anything believed to be” outside the box.

Take the secretin story: “Improved social and language skills”—that is, improved core autism symptoms—”after secretin administration in patients with autistic spectrum disorders.” Secretin is a gut hormone involved in digestion and used in a diagnostic test for pancreatic function. Researchers just happened to be doing this test on some children who just happened to have autism, and, to their surprise, within weeks of administering the test, there was “dramatic improvement in their behavior, manifested by improved eye contact, alertness, and expansion of expressive language.”

Understandably, this sparked a media “frenzy,” and parents scrambled to find the stuff, which “led to a black market for the drug…What makes an interesting television program may not, of course, be the same as what makes good science.” You’ve got to put it to the test.

A randomized controlled trial on the effect of secretin on children with autism was done, and “no significant effects” were found. The study used porcine secretin, though—pig hormones. Might human secretin would work better? No, apparently not. There was a “lack of benefit” from human secretin, too. But, as you can see below and at 4:27 in my video, the data initially appeared to show that secretin totally worked. One shot of secretin, and autism behaviors dropped within days! The same thing happened when the placebo was injected, though, which is why we do placebo-controlled studies.

“The widespread circulation of [those] anecdotal reports of the benefits of secretin in the treatment of autism may have raised expectations among parents and care providers and biased them toward perceiving improvement,” explaining the effects of the placebo injection. In this way, “ineffective treatments for autism are often promoted and widely accepted” even if there’s no evidence to back them up, exemplified by the fact that “most parents [in the study] remained interested in secretin as a form of treatment for their child’s autism even after being told that we [the researchers] found no evidence of benefit.” They were told it didn’t work, but they just couldn’t give up hope. So, the autism community continued to press and clung to the thought that it just has to work.

In the end, 16 randomized placebo-controlled trials were performed involving more than 900 children, and no evidence of benefit was found. “No studies revealed significantly greater improvements in measures of language, cognition, or autistic symptoms when compared with placebo.”

“In the absence of effective and affordable treatments for autism, parents of children with this disorder are extremely vulnerable to extravagant claims of potential cures.” In the case of secretin, it was like a perfect storm of factors that propagated the myth, which “prompted a frenzy of secretin purchases by thousands of parents, often at hundreds or even thousands of dollars per dose. The ‘secretin story’ exemplifies the importance of subjecting proposed treatments to scientific scrutiny in contrast to accepting anecdotal reports as proof of efficacy.”

Sometimes alternative approaches work, and sometimes they don’t. You don’t know until you put them to the test.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Ginger Powder as a Pain-Killer

There have been at least eight randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of ginger for pain.

You may recall that I’ve previously explored the use of spinach for athletic performance and recovery, attributed to its “anti-inflammatory effects.” Most athletes aren’t using spinach to beat back inflammation, though; they use drugs, typically non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, which is used by up to 95 percent of collegiate athletes and three quarters of kids playing high school football. They aren’t only using it for inflammation, though, but also prophylactically “prior to athletic participation to prevent pain and inflammation before it occurs. However, scientific evidence for this approach is currently lacking, and athletes should be aware of the potential risks in using NSAIDs as a prophylactic agent,” which include gastrointestinal pain and bleeding, kidney damage, and liver damage.

There was one study in particular that freaked everyone out: A study of thousands of marathon runners found that those taking over-the-counter pain killers before the race had five times the incidence of organ damage. Nine were hospitalized—three with kidney failure after taking ibuprofen, four with gastrointestinal bleeding after taking aspirin, and two with heart attacks, also after aspirin ingestion. In contrast, none of the control group ended up in the hospital. No pain killers, no hospital. What’s more, the analgesics didn’t even work. “Analysis of the pain reported by respondents before and after racing showed no major identifiable advantages” to taking the drugs, so it appeared there were just downsides.

What about using ginger instead? That’s the subject of my video Ground Ginger to Reduce Muscle Pain. In that marathon study, as you can see below and at 1:33 in my video, the most common adverse effect of taking the drugs was gastrointestinal cramping. Ginger, in contrast to aspirin or ibuprofen-type drugs, may actually improve gastrointestinal function. For example, endurance athletes can suffer from nausea, and ginger is prized for its anti-nausea properties.

Okay, but does it work for muscle pain?  

There have been at least eight randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of ginger for pain—for everything from osteoarthritis to irritable bowel to painful periods. I’ve made videos about all of those, as well as its use for migraine headaches. Overall, ginger extracts, like the powdered ginger spice you’d get at any grocery store, were found to be “clinically effective” pain-reducing agents with “a better safety profile than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.” As you can see below and at 2:22 in my video, the ginger worked better in some of the studies than in others, which is “likely to be at least partly due to the strong dose-effect relationship that [was] identified and the wide range of doses used among the studies under analysis (60-2000 mg of extract/day).”

In terms of reduction of pain, as you can see below and at 2:32 in my video, the best results were achieved with one and a half or two grams a day, which is a full teaspoon of ground ginger.

The drugs work by suppressing an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which triggers inflammation. The problem is that they also suppress cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1), which does good things like protect the lining of your stomach and intestines. “Since inhibition of COX-1 is associated with gastrointestinal irritation, selective inhibition of COX-2”—the inflammatory enzyme—“should help minimize this side effect” and offer the best of both worlds. And, that’s what ginger seems to do. As you can see below and at 3:11 in my video, two ginger compounds had no effect against COX-1, the “good” enzyme, but could dramatically cut down on COX-2, the pro-inflammatory one.

Okay, but does ginger work for muscle pain? Not acutely, apparently. You can’t just take it like a drug. When folks were given a teaspoon of ginger before a bout of cycling, there was no difference in leg muscle pain over the 30 minutes, as you can see below and at 3:34 in my video. “However, ginger may attenuate the day-to-day progression of muscle pain.” Taking ginger five days in a row appears to “accelerate the recovery of maximal strength following a high-load…[weight-lifting] exercise protocol.” When you put all the studies together, it seems “a single dose of ginger has little-to-no discernable effects on muscle pain,” but if you take a teaspoon or two for a couple days or weeks, perhaps in a pumpkin smoothie or something, you may be able to reduce muscle pain and soreness, and “accelerate recovery of muscular strength…”

Is fresh ginger preferable to powdered? Maybe not. As you can see below and at 4:12 in my video, there are all sorts of compounds in ginger with creative names as gingerols, gingerdiols, and gingerdiones, but the most potent anti-inflammatory component may be compound called shogaols.

Interestingly, dried ginger contains more than fresh, which “justifies the uses of dry ginger in traditional systems of medicine for the treatment of various illnesses due to oxidative stress and inflammation.” In that case, why not just give the extracted shogaol component in a pill by itself? As you can see below and at 4:41 in my video, each of the active ginger components individually reduce inflammation, some more than others, but the whole ginger is greater than the sum of its parts.

However, you can boost shogaol content of whole ginger by drying it, as they are the major gingerol dehydration products. Indeed, they’re created when ginger is dried. Heating ginger may increase shogaol concentration even more, so could heated ginger work better against pain than raw? You don’t know, until you put it to the test. A study examined the effects on muscle pain of 11 days of a teaspoon of raw ginger versus ginger that had been boiled for three hours. As you can see below and at 5:22 in my video, there was a significant reduction in muscle soreness a day after pumping iron in the cooked ginger group—and the same benefit was achieved with the raw ginger. Either way, “daily consumption of raw and heat-treated ginger resulted in moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain following exercise-induced muscle injury.”

Here’s the link to the video I mentioned: Flashback Friday: Foods to Improve Athletic Performance and Recovery.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Foods That Improve Sexual Function in Women

Addyi (flibanserin), the drug marketed for “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” is ineffective and unsafe. What about dietary approaches for female sexual dysfunction?

“The creation and promotion of ‘female sexual dysfunction’ [as a mental disorder] is a textbook case of disease mongering by the pharmaceutical industry,” harkening back to the first edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, psychiatry’s diagnosis manual, which listed frigidity as a mental disorder, along with homosexuality. The latest manifestation is “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” a disease invented by drug companies. When Prozac was about to go off patent, for example, “the company sponsored the creation of the condition premenstrual dysphoric disorder, depicted as a more serious form of premenstrual syndrome,” and used this new so-called mental illness to market a drug called Sarafem, “which was simply repackaged Prozac” in a pink capsule. “The condition previously known as shyness was condition-branded as social anxiety disorder, designed to provide a marketing edge for Paxil…”

“There are certainly women who are troubled by low libido, but there is no reliable scientific evidence that hypoactive sexual desire disorder is a real medical condition.” And, women can get diagnosed with it even with a normal libido. “A woman who is highly interested in sex, just not with her current partner, can still qualify for a diagnosis”—and the drug. Even a “woman who is happy with her sex life may still qualify for a diagnosis of hypoactive sexual desire disorder if her partner is dissatisfied…”

“The story began in 2009 when [drug company] Boehringer Ingelheim first applied for approval of flibanserin, a failed antidepressant, to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women.” There was a problem, though. It didn’t work. The application was resubmitted after more study and was rejected again, as was the appeal. But, in 2015, the FDA approved the drug. “What changed? Nothing about efficacy. The resubmission included no new benefit data.” The drug didn’t work any better. What changed is that the company that bought the drug “helped launch a new advocacy group, Even the Score.” The fake grassroots group lobbied “journalists, women’s groups, Congress, and the FDA” for approval, employing “the feminism argument to push for…approval on grounds of equality (men have their drugs; we want ours), when feminism in in fact a reason to object to flibanserin. How can it be feminist for doctors to tell women what’s normal and prescribe pills to control their sexual desire?” But, “within 48 hours of FDA approval, flibanserin was sold…for about $1 billion in cash. Very satisfying.” Very satisfying for the drug company, “but what about the women who take flibanserin,” now sold as Addyi? Not much. The drug just doesn’t work as advertised.

It may stimulate monkeys to groom each other more, but when researchers dug up the unpublished data about the drug, any clinical benefit was found to be “marginal, with statistically and clinically significant adverse [side] effects.” Indeed, “besides being ineffective in many women, flibanserin is a dangerous drug.” Combining it with alcohol “can cause dangerous hypotension and syncope [fainting]—problems so serious that the FDA put a black box warning, its most serious safety alert, on the label,” which, unfortunately, hardly anyone reads. In fact, “even without alcohol, flibanserin can cause severe drops in blood pressure levels and sudden prolonged unconsciousness.” Now, these types of serious side effects “might be acceptable in a cancer drug, but they are entirely unacceptable in a drug given to healthy women for an invented condition.”

Are there any safe and natural solutions? There are a lot of studies on diet and men’s sexual health, but what about women’s? As I discuss in my video  Flashback Friday: Are Apples the Best Food for a Better Sex Life in Women?, research indicates that women with high cholesterol levels report diminished sexual function across a number of dimensions. This could explain why a more plant-based diet, rich in a variety of whole plant foods, “might be effective in ameliorating sexual function issues in women,” as it does in men—indeed, more whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit, and less meat, dairy, and sugar have been associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction—because the anatomy and physiology of sexual responses are actually quite similar between men and women. As you can see below and at 4:21 in my video, using fancy MRI techniques, you can measure clitoral engorgement within minutes of exposure to an erotic video.

And, we now know that lubrication is all about blood flow, too. “Within the sexually aroused vagina,” the hydrostatic pressure from all the additional pelvic blood flow forces fluid “to leak onto the surface wall of the vagina as the vaginal lubrication.” How can we improve blood flow? Well, the flavonoid phytonutrients in cocoa can help open up arteries, increasing pulse wave amplitude after drinking cocoa for four days, peaking at about 90 minutes after consumption, as you can see below and at 4:54 in my video.

So, can that Valentine’s Day chocolate make a difference? Women who eat chocolate do tend to have higher female sexual function index scores compared to those who don’t eat chocolate, but the effect disappeared once age was taken into account. “Despite all the potential biological mechanisms supporting a role for chocolate as an aphrodisiac food,” the study failed to show a benefit. One would assume that chocolate could improve blood flow, but remember that was with cocoa powder. Maybe the fat and sugar in chocolate counteract the benefits. What are some whole food sources of flavonoids? As you can see below and at 5:35 in my video, onions have a lot. Indeed, fresh onion juice enhances copulatory behavior—in rats. For those of us less interested in “increasing the percentage of ejaculating rats” and looking for something other than onion juice for our hot date, how about an apple?

There was “not a study addressing the potential correlation between daily apple consumption and women’s sexual function” until…now. Women were split into two groups, either regular daily apple consumers or those consuming less than an apple a day. The result? The hundreds of apple eaters in the study scored significantly higher on the female sexual function index.

Note that the researchers only included women who ate unpeeled apples, because the phytonutrients are concentrated in the peel, so we don’t know if there’s a link with peeled apples. And, this was only an observational study, so “further studies will be necessary to clarify…the relationship between apple intake and female sexuality…However, the present data can allow the development of future research for identifying new compounds and food supplements to use in female sexuality recovery.” Okay…or you can just try eating an apple.

The psychiatry profession is infamous for colluding with drug companies to invent new mental disorders. I have some videos already scripted in the queue on “orthorexia.” Subscribe if you haven’t already to get notified so you don’t miss it.

I know how upsetting this video is, exposing the stranglehold Big Pharma has on the mental health profession. That isn’t the end of the story, though. Check out Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work?.

- Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Aloe Is Put to the Test Against Cancer

From a case report to a randomized controlled trial, aloe is put to the test against cancer.

For a half century, aloe vera “gel processors and distributors armed with biblical quotes and anecdotal testimonials…[have sought] recognition for their products”—too often, however, “accompanied by misinformation,” none more elaborate than promoting aloe vera for the treatment of cancer. As I discuss in my video Can Aloe Cure Cancer?, there was a recent case report involving a 64-year-old Hispanic woman with a tumor on her eyeball, which, as you can see below and at 0:31 in my video, looked like a classic case of ocular surface squamous neoplasia (OSSN), a type of eye cancer.

Surgery was recommended to remove it, “but the patient declined it, and instead initiated the use of concentrated A. vera eye drops 3 times daily based on a friend’s suggestion.” She just used an off-the-shelf aloe vera gel product, and, to the doctor’s surprise, the “lesion showed significant improvement from only 1 month before….At the follow-up 2 months later, the patient’s lesion was noted to have dramatically regressed.” When the case report was written, “6 years since her initial presentation,” it appeared the cancer was gone and had stayed gone, as you can see below and at 1:04 in my video.

Normally, you’d go in and cut out the cancer with wide margins to make sure you got it all, because “despite the best efforts of the ocular surgeon…recurrence rates as high as 56% have been reported because of the presence of microscopic disease that is not clinically evident at the time of surgical excision.” In other words, little bits of cancer may be missed on surgery. In this case, though, a tumor disappeared without any surgery at all.

Are we sure it was cancerous? The patient had refused a biopsy, so we don’t know for certain. However, it did have all the defining characteristics. So, to see the tumor disappear without any side effects and stay gone is pretty extraordinary. “Surgical resection still remains a very reasonable treatment option for many cases of OSSN,” but at least there’s an option for patients to try if they don’t want to go down that route.

Of course, this was just a single case report without a control group. It isn’t as though she had tumors in both eyes and tried the aloe on only one. There was a controlled study that I present at 2:08 in my video that suggested aloe could prolong survival in those with advanced untreatable cancer, but it wasn’t a randomized controlled study. A decade later, we got just that.

Hundreds of patients with metastatic cancer were randomized to receive chemotherapy with or without aloe, and, as you can see below and at 2:28 in my video, the aloe group had three times the number of complete responses and significantly greater objective tumor responses, and two-thirds had some level of disease control compared to only half in the non-aloe group. But, does that translate out into improved survival? Yes. For example, at one year, 70 percent of the aloe group were still alive, whereas most in the non-aloe group had died.

As a bonus, the “chemotherapy was substantially better tolerated” in the aloe group, with less fatigue, for example, and better maintenance of their immune system, as you can see below and at 2:59 in my video. So, given the better disease control and the better survival, “this study seems to suggest that Aloe may be successfully associated with chemotherapy [as an add-on therapy] to increase its efficacy in terms of both tumor regression rate and survival time.”

As I mentioned, this was a randomized controlled study, but it wasn’t a randomized placebo-controlled study. It’s not as though the control group got a fake aloe drink, so some of the tumor response may have been a mind-over-matter placebo effect.

There are potential downsides to aloe, though. As I explained in my video Is Aloe Vera Gel the Best Treatment for Lichen Planus?, in rare cases, swallowing aloe can trigger liver inflammation and cause electrolyte imbalances due to diarrhea or vomiting. For example, there was a case reported of aloe-induced low potassium in a patient with breast cancer, which rapidly resolved once she stopped the aloe, thought to be due to the laxative effect aloe can have.

If you want to talk to your doctor about giving it a try, note this was not aloe vera, but aloe arborescens, a tree-like aloe that can grow to be ten feet tall, as you can see below and at 4:08 in my video. The concoction the researchers made was a mixture of about two thirds of a pound of fresh aloe leaves to a pound of honey, plus about three tablespoons of 40 percent alcohol, and it was given orally at a dose of two teaspoons three times a day starting six days prior to the onset of chemotherapy.

 

- Jordan Burchette
What Are Keto Cereals, and Are They Any Good?

Cereal is a staple breakfast food. But if you’re watching your carb intake (or maybe even trying out the ketogenic diet), cereal has probably become an off-limits breakfast food. But since the food industry is constantly adapting to the latest trends, there are now tons of low-carb, or “keto” cereals on the market, as well as options for those seeking grain-free or gluten-free alternatives.

Most traditional cereals are loaded with carbs (around 50g per cup!), tons of sugar, and not much else nutritionally. For those who want a few carbs and sugar, they can pick up a box of low-carb cereal, like the ones reviewed here.

Wait… should you even follow a keto diet?

Keto was first devised to help manage epilepsy, but now many fad dieters think they can benefit from getting only about 5 percent of their calories from carbs. However, it can be argued that you’re better off with more carbs than that. They’re your body’s main source of energy, and drastically reducing your carb intake can lead to a number of unpleasant side effects.

That being said, if you want a way to enjoy a paleo, low-carb, or keto cereal and get your carbs from other foods throughout the day, then the options below can help you do that. We evaluated how well they mimic the traditional cereal experience, how they taste, their texture, and their flavor to formulate our comprehensive keto cereal roundup.

 

1. Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Style Muesli

bob's red mill paleo style muesli | keto cereals

Total carbs: 9g; Net carbs: 5g. Calories: 140 per 1/4 cup (24g)

Rating: 3 out of 5 spoons

This is basically a big bag of grain-free coconut flakes mixed with blueberries, cranberries, currants, and strawberries, along with macadamia nuts, almonds, cashews, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Really hearty, and really chewy. It would be more enjoyable mixed with something crunchy for more texture or, for those who aren’t following a paleo diet, added into a bit of unsweetened Greek yogurt.

 

2. Bubba’s Grain-Free Ungranola – Bourbon Vanilla

bubba's grain free ungranola | keto cereals

Total carbs: 12g; Net carbs: 10g. Calories: 150 per 1/3 cup (28g)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 spoons

One of the favorites out of all of the cereals for its more traditional taste and texture, the eating experience is pretty close to something like Honey Bunches of Oats. It’s made up of super tasty clusters of coconut flakes, bananas chips, cashews, and sliced almonds. Lots of nice crunch makes it a more interesting bite, instead of a soggy mush.

 

3. Catalina Crunch – Dark Chocolate

catalina crunch dark chocolate | keto cereals

Total carbs: 14g; Net carbs: 5g. Calories: 100 per 1/2 cup (36g)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 spoons

These tasty squares look like puffed-up Golden Grahams. They offer a big, satisfying chocolate flavor from premium cacao powder, with a hint of nuttiness and lots of crunch. Sweetness here comes from stevia first, monk fruit second, so there’s less of the bitter aftertaste you get from cereals sweetened with stevia alone.

 

4. Keto & Co Hot Breakfast – Plain

keto & co | keto cereals

Total carbs: 12g; Net carbs: 3g. Calories: 50 per 2 Tbsp (20g dry mix) plain | 150 cals. prepared as directed

Rating: 1 out of 5 spoons

This keto cereal was one of the blandest, most uninspired of the group. That being said… if you’re are a fan of Cream of Wheat, this is the choice for you (no judgment!). There’s not much to recommend here as far as breakfast enjoyment, though it does offer some decent coconut flavor. One tablespoon of coconut oil is recommended to increase the fat content, and it definitely needs it.

 

5. Magic Spoon – Cinnamon

magic spoon | keto cereals

Total carbs: 15g; Net carbs: 4g. Calories: 140 per cup (37g)

Rating: 4 out of 5 spoons

These Cheerios lookalikes really hit the traditional cereal nostalgia spot in the morning when you hear them clattering in your bowl. They’re surprisingly crunchy and are packed with lots of cinnamon spice. Two downsides: they have a tiny bit of that bitter sugar substitute taste from the addition of stevia, and chunks of the cereal can end up annoyingly sticking to your teeth.

 

6. Nuco Coconut Crunch

nuco coconut crunch | keto cereals

Total carbs: 18g; Net carbs: 10g. Calories: 160 per 30g

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 spoons

Though a bit higher in carbs than the true keto cereals, this is probably the closest you’ll get to a low-carb Corn Flakes alternative. The big flakes have a great coconut flavor and an enjoyable hint of sweetness. One deviation from traditional cereal flakes is that they are all flat, so they tend to stick and clump together and kind of become one big mass in your bowl and your mouth.

 

7. PaleoKrunch Grainless Granola – Original

paleokrunch | keto cereals

Total carbs: 16g; Net carbs: 9g. Calories: 225 per 1.5 oz. (43g)

Rating: 3 out of 5 spoons

Branded as a paleo breakfast food, this granola cereal still has a pretty low carb count compared to other regular cereals. The flavor is similar to a traditional granola, like a soft Nature Valley bar. A sweet hint of honey coats the clusters of pumpkin seeds, almonds, and coconut — though the chunks were a little too big for spooning, you can easily break them up in your bowl.

 

8. Paleonola Grain Free Granola – Original

paleonola | keto cereals

Total carbs: 7g; Net carbs: 5g. Calories: 170 per ¼ cup (28g)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 spoons

Also aimed at the paleo crowd, this traditional granola cereal amplifies your breakfast experience with a strong cinnamon flavor mixed with dried berries for a more varied mouthfeel. There are a wide variety of bite-sized clusters that add to a regular cereal experience. All in all, a solid, low-carb morning meal.

 

9. Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Granola – Coconut Cashew

purely elizabeth coconut cashew | keto cereals

Total carbs: 10g; Net carbs: 8g. Calories: 170 per 1/3 cup, 30g

Rating: 3 of of 5 spoons

There’s a solid nutty flavor in this granola cereal, though the chunks of granola are bit too big in your bowl without some pulverizing. It has a lot of cashews mixed in with coconut flakes and sunflower seeds, all of which are stuck together with cashew butter and a bit of coconut sugar.

 

Should You Eat Keto Cereal?

Although the keto diet is popular and effective in the short term for some, it’s not highly recommended by most nutritionists. “It’s not sustainable,” says Andrea N. Giancoli, M.P.H., R.D.

That said, going for a lower-carb meal, like a keto or paleo “cereal” can be a good way to cut high amounts of carbs and sugar from your diet while upping the intake of fat and fiber. Most keto cereal concoctions are constructed from varying degrees of coconut, grain-free granola, nuts, and seeds — all of which are higher in fat and fiber than your normal cereal ingredients.

However, that also means higher calories, so be sure to check the serving sizes and adjust your intake accordingly. “Just because they’re keto, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be calorie appropriate,” says Giancoli. “Those calories can really add up so you’ve got to be careful.”

Finally, many keto cereals can contain sugar alcohols, which are lower-calorie alternatives to sugar, but are also harder to digest. “It’s best to sugar alcohols because they can cause gastrointestinal distress,” Giancoli says. “If you’re consuming a lot of them, you might find that your G.I. system is not happy.”

The post What Are Keto Cereals, and Are They Any Good? appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Michael Martin
11 Lean Proteins You’ll Want to Add to Your Diet

Whether you want to maintain your weight, lose a few pounds, increase your energy level or build muscle, you’ll want to make room on your plate for whole food sources of protein.

But like most things, not all proteins are created equal.

Lean proteins are your best bet, and we’ll break down everything you need to know about this superior protein choice.

What Is a Lean Protein?

The USDA’s definition of a lean meat protein is one that contains less than 10 grams of total fat and fewer than 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat per portion [100 grams], says Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD, a registered dietitian in Washington.

11 Lean Protein Foods

Plants are naturally low in fat, so we’ve spotlighted some grains and legumes that are particularly high in protein. Below you’ll find the best sources of protein, and their nutritional information.

1. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

grilled chicken breast on cutting plate | lean protein

Per 3.5-ounces, cooked: 30g protein

The boneless skinless chicken breast is a staple of fitness-friendly and weight-loss eating plans for a reason: It’s sky-high in protein and low in calories.

“Poultry provides vitamin B3 and B6, which helps with carbohydrate metabolism,” says Anis Rehman, MD. “It also provides selenium, which is an excellent antioxidant.”

Grill, roast, bake, or steam it — just make sure to remove the skin first.

2. White Fish

plate of white fish with greens | lean protein

Per 3.5 ounces, cooked: 19g protein

White-flesh fish — e.g. tilapia, cod, flounder and pollock — is protein rich and very lean, with only about 100 calories per 3.5-ounce serving.

Salmon isn’t technically a lean protein, because a 100 gram serving contains about eight grams of fat.

However, that’s heart-healthy fat, and salmon contains more omega-3 fatty acids than white fish, so it’s still an excellent option for your diet.

3. Pork Loin

sliced pork loin | lean protein

Per 3.5 ounces, cooked: 28g protein

The old ad campaign that dubbed pork “the other white meat” was onto something: Lean cuts of pork loin have almost as much protein as chicken, are an excellent source of vitamin B6, and are a good source of potassium and zinc.

To ensure you’re buying lean pork, look for the words “loin” or “round” on the label.

4. Lean Beef

plate of sliced beef | lean protein

Per 3.5 ounces, cooked: 23g protein

“Lean meat provides an excellent source of protein and iron with fewer calories and less fat than non-lean meat sources,” says Rehman.

When buying ground beef, 95% lean or more counts as “lean protein;” opt for grass-fed beef to get the most heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

5. Tuna

bread topped with tuna | lean protein

Per 3.5 ounces, cooked: 19g protein

Canned tuna is an extremely convenient source of lean protein, for lunches or a post-workout snack, with less than two grams of fat per serving.

It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and selenium. Concerned about mercury content?

The FDA says canned light tuna is low in mercury, and it’s safe to eat two to three servings per week.

This is not the same for albacore/white tuna, which is higher in mercury — it’s recommended you limit to one serving per week.

6. Shrimp

grilled shrimp in skillet | lean protein

Per 3.5 ounces, cooked: 16g protein

Shellfish, including shrimp, is a highly nutritious source of protein: Just one serving of shrimp provides more than half your daily recommended allowance of selenium and vitamin B12.

7. Plain Greek Yogurt

bowls of greek yogurt | lean protein

Per 6-ounce container: 17g protein

A serving of plain Greek yogurt packs 17 grams of protein, compared to nine in regular yogurt.

It’s because Greek yogurt is strained, and therefore thicker and more concentrated.

Avoid flavored yogurts (extra added sugar), but feel free to add fresh fruit, cinnamon or slivered almonds.

8. Beans

jars of beans | lean protein

Per 1/2 cup, cooked: 6g protein

An excellent lean-protein base for soups, stews or chili (or a topper for salads), beans have five grams of protein in each half-cup.

And unlike most other lean proteins, they’re also a source of fiber providing six grams per serving.

9. Tofu

bowl of tofu | lean protein

Per 1/2 cup: 10g protein

There’s a reason why tofu is a vegetarian’s go-to meat substitute — its high protein content.

A half-cup serving has nine grams, along with 4.5 grams of fat and only 75 calories.

10. Farro

plate of farro | lean protein

Per 1/2 cup, cooked: 10g protein

If “super grains” existed, farro would likely fall in that bucket. This ancient grain has twice the protein found in quinoa.

Like most other whole grains, farro also provides fiber — five grams per half cup.

11. Cottage Cheese

bowl of cottage cheese | lean protein

Per 1/2 cup: 11g protein

The favorite of 1970s dieters deserves to be pulled out of the archives and back into your refrigerator.

Cottage cheese is exceptionally lean — less than five grams of fat, and about 90 calories per cup serving.

What Are the Benefits of Lean Protein?

Here are some reasons why you don’t want to skimp out on lean proteins in your meals.

1. It may increase satiety

Protein helps fill you up, and lean versions do this with less fat and fewer calories.

2. It may be beneficial to maintain and build muscle

“Protein is an essential building block for muscles,” says Samantha Presicci, MCN, RD, LD, CPT, lead registered dietitian with Snap Kitchen in Austin, Texas.

3. It is believed to be linked to weight loss

Because it keeps you feeling full and can help build muscle, lean protein can be a tool to help you lose weight.

4. It can help to keep the body running efficiently

“Some proteins act as enzymes, which help with thousands of biochemical reactions in the body,” says Presicci. “They’re essential for things like digestion, energy production, blood clotting and muscle contraction. Some proteins also act as hormones, helping communication between cells, tissues and organs.”

graphic list of lean protein foodssliced chicken breast | lean protein

The post 11 Lean Proteins You’ll Want to Add to Your Diet appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Cemile Kavountzis
The Important Difference Between Natural Sugar and Added Sugar

By now you’ve probably heard that eating less sugar can be beneficial for your health.

But fun fact: There are different kinds of sugars out there! Two kinds, to be exact. There’s natural sugar and added sugar.

“Our brains need sugar to survive — natural sugar,” says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN.

But your brain and body can do without added sugar, which is put into foods that don’t usually contain sugar.

Here’s a deeper dive into the difference between the two sugars, and how you can use this knowledge to better your eating habits.

What Are Natural and Added Sugars?

Natural sugars are found in foods from the start. They appear in foods like fruits, some vegetables, and dairy. Added sugars are not native to foods, and are added to enhance flavor.

Even when sugar comes from a seemingly healthy source, such as honey or agave, it’s considered an added sugar if it wasn’t in the food to begin with.

While it’s true that these substances may have nominally more nutritional value than straight-up processed sugar, they’re still lacking in fiber and therefore have a similar impact.

For example, a serving of plain nonfat Greek yogurt has almost five grams of naturally occurring sugar. This is sugar that is in the yogurt from the get-go.

But a serving of sweetened vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt has 14 grams of sugar, some of which was added during the manufacturing process.

What’s the Difference Between Natural and Added Sugars?

Here’s the surprising part about sugar: “There is no chemical difference between natural and added sugar,” explains Dr. Robert Lustig, MD, MSL, who’s based in San Francisco. “They’re made of the same molecules — glucose and fructose.” There’s also lactose, which is in dairy products.

Technically, your body can’t tell the difference between natural sugar and added sugar.

That means a scoop of table sugar, a squeeze of agave, and the lactose in that Greek yogurt is processed in your body the same way.

Sugar is sugar, no matter what name it has.

But there is a difference in the foods that contain these sugars.

Foods with natural sugars come with other healthy components, like fiber and nutrients, that offer your body well-rounded nutrition and help your body process sugar in a healthier fashion.

On the other hand, added sugar doesn’t offer these benefits and, when consumed in excess, does more harm than good.

Is Sugar in Fruit Bad for You?

You don’t need to be concerned about sugar in fruit. When you eat naturally occurring sugar in whole fruits and vegetables, it comes with the benefits of fiber.

“When you consume (soluble) fiber, it forms a gel in your intestine that creates a barrier to slow down the absorption of fructose, which protects your liver,” Lustig explains.

However, “when you eat added sugar without fiber, you’re flooding your liver,” says Lustig.

When you overwhelm the liver with fructose, it turns the excess amounts into fat, he adds.

Is Added Sugar Bad for You?

“Consuming too many foods with added sugars is simply a waste of your daily caloric intake,” says Michele Promaulayko, author of Sugar Free 3.

And worse than wasting your calories, you could also be damaging your short- and long-term health.

“The low-grade inflammation your body may experience when you overconsume added sugars can put it under stress and lead to poor health,” she says. “By eliminating added sugars from your diet, your gut can better perform its essential function as gatekeeper.”

What foods contain added sugar?

There are some surprising foods that contain added sugar. “Most shoppers assume they only need to look out for added sugars in sweet foods, such as cookies and cakes,” Promaulayko says.

“However, added sugar, refined carbs, and artificial sweeteners are also present in many major brands of pasta sauce, bread, granola bars, yogurt, ketchup, salad dressings, and more.”

In order to avoid consuming added sugar, all you need to do is read the ingredient list of your food. If the list contains sugar or any of it’s other names, then it’s a food with added sugar.

The post The Important Difference Between Natural Sugar and Added Sugar appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Chelsea Frank
10 of the Healthiest Microwavable Meals

If we could have our way, we’d meal prep every Sunday, make three-course gourmet dinners every night, and never eat take out.

But with our hectic schedules full of work stress, relationships, and so many binge-worthy Netflix shows, that’s just not realistic. Sometimes, you need a quick frozen meal to throw in the microwave and get on with your day.

Luckily, there are now tons of options for healthy frozen meals that aren’t going to mess up your entire meal plan.

If you’re on the hunt for healthy frozen meals that don’t have lots of added sugars, saturated fats, and excess empty calories, you’re in luck.

We’ve rounded up our favorite healthy microwave meals you can pick up at your local grocery store, so you can spend even less time preparing tonight’s meal!

Be advised, however, that some of these meals are high in sodium, so keep an eye on how much sodium you consume in your other meals.

1. Chicken Burrito Bowl

chicken burrito bowl | healthy microwave meals

With 370 calories per meal, this yummy chicken burrito bowl with brown rice, quinoa, black beans, and corn is dressed with a zesty chipotle sauce that’s absolutely delish!

It has 22 grams of protein and no added sugars, making it a balanced and healthy meal.

Get it at Trader Joe’s.

2. Tattooed Chef Vegan Buddha Bowl

Tattooed Chef Vegan Buddha Bowl | healthy microwave meals

Clocking in at 320 calories, this frozen vegan Buddha bowl features sweet potatoes and chickpeas over cauliflower rice with tahini sauce.

You’ll also get 10 grams of protein without any added sugars.

If you want to double up on protein (ideally shoot for at least 20 grams of protein per meal), toss in some plant-based tempeh or go for chicken, turkey, eggs, shrimp or other meat options if that suits your lifestyle.

Get it at Target.

3. Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

citrus garlic bowl | healthy microwave meals

This Cuban-style citrus garlic bowl has so much flavor, you’ll want it for every meal!

Each bowl has 400 calories and 16 grams of protein that comes from super juicy chicken thighs and black beans, topped with a zesty garlic sauce. Yum!

Get it at Trader Joe’s.

4. Non-Dairy Bean & Rice Burrito

amys burrito | healthy microwave meals

Amy’s frozen burritos are the perfect on-the-go microwavable meal — great for keeping at the office fridge or for lazy Sundays.

It contains 310 calories and 10 grams of protein, which we suggest further fortifying with a side of veggies.

They’ll not only add more powerful nutrients, but also keep you feeling satiated.

Get it at Amy’s.

5. Chicken Biryani With Basmati Rice

saffron road chicken biryani | healthy microwave meals

With 18 grams of protein, no added sugar, and only 1 gram of saturated fat per serving, this is a delicious microwavable take on a traditional Indian dish.

Try adding veggies to bulk up your meal while also adding a bit of color and important phytonutrients.

Get it from Saffron Road.

6. Vegan Pasta Bolognese Bowl

trader joes vegan bolognese | healthy microwave meals

Pasta is our love language. But this vegan pasta bolognese with 13 grams of fiber, 30 grams of protein, and no added sugars is our soulmate!

It’s made with red lentil pasta for added fiber and nutrition and textured wheat protein in place of traditional red meat.

Get it at Trader Joe’s.

7. Caulipower Frozen Pizza Margherita

Caulipower Frozen Pizza Margherita | healthy microwave meals

Naturally gluten-free and absolutely delicious, this healthier frozen pizza sports a cauliflower crust.

With 350 calories, 12 grams of protein, and just 1 gram of added sugar, you can finally enjoy your frozen pizza night without feeling bloated the next day!

Just be mindful that the serving size is half the pizza, not the entire pie.

Get it at CAULIPOWER.

8. Organic Chickpea Coconut Curry with Kale

urban remedy chickpea curry | healthy microwave meals

This dairy free, gluten free, vegan, and organic frozen dinner has 13 grams of protein, 470 calories, and tons of flavor!

It’s a good source of potassium and iron, but unfortunately there’s quite a bit of sodium (60 percent of a day’s worth), so just take that into account when doing your overall meal planning for the day.

Get it at Urban Remedy or Whole Foods.

9. Coconut Curry

saffron road coconut curry | healthy microwave meals

Microwavable and ready in just one minute, this coconut curry has those delicious Indian flavors we love without the bloat.

To boost the protein content and shave off some sodium, we suggest eating half of the pouch along with your favorite protein like grilled chicken, fish, or tofu.

Get it at Saffron Road.

10. Shepherd’s Pie

blakes shepherds pie | healthy microwave meals

With 320 calories, no added sugar, and 15 grams of protein, this healthier shepherd’s pie is made with organic corn, organic mashed potatoes, and antibiotic-free beef.

It’s comfort food that can bring your waistline comfort, as well.

Get it at Blake’s.

Healthy Microwave Meals pinterest

The post 10 of the Healthiest Microwavable Meals appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Linnea Zielinski
Are White Claws and Other Hard Seltzers Actually Healthy?

If you’re trying to keep an eye on your calorie intake, you already know alcohol can mess with your nutrition goals. But what about hard seltzers? Are White Claws healthy — or at least better for you than beer or wine?

Short answer: Hard seltzers typically contain fewer calories per serving than a mixed drink, a can of beer, or a glass of wine. But they still add empty calories to your diet, so it’s important to sip in moderation.

Here’s what you need to know.

 

Are Hard Seltzers Better for Weight Loss?

feet on scale | are white claws healthy

Zero-calorie flavored seltzers have long been a less-boring alternative to plain old water. So you may be wondering if the boozed-up version of this bubbly beverage could be a healthier swap for your usual alcoholic beverage of choice.

White ClawTruly, and High Noon hard seltzers each contain 100 calories per 12-ounce can. By comparison, an average 12-ounce can of beer contains 153 calories, and a 5-ounce glass of red wine contains 125 calories.

But despite their lower calorie count, hard seltzers — like any alcohol — are a source of empty calories and can stall your weight loss if you consume too much.

If you’ve found a reasonable caloric intake that supports weight loss, but you drink a 100-calorie hard seltzer on top of that, it can throw off your calorie deficit, explains Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, a senior dietitian at RR-UCLA Medical Center and author of the book Recipe for Survival: What You Can Do to Live a Healthier and More Environmentally Friendly Life.

Of course, a sustainable eating plan needs to be realistic, and alcohol can fit into both 2B Mindset and Portion Fix when enjoyed in moderation. So it’s possible to enjoy alcohol without undoing your weight loss efforts.

If you choose a White Claw instead of a different 100-calorie treat, for example, “you may still lose weight,” Hunnes explains. “It all depends on your other intake and how many of these you are drinking.”

 

Can You Over-Consume White Claws?

group of friend drinking | are white claws healthy

You can over-consume anything, and hard seltzer is certainly no exception.

“The guidelines for hard seltzer should be the same as regular alcohol guidelines,” says Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC. “The less, the better.”

The calories from alcohol can add up quickly. If you’re in a calorie deficit before you start drinking, hard seltzers may push your total caloric intake for the day into the amount needed for weight maintenance or weight gain, depending on how many you consume.

There are also potential health risks related to frequency and amount of alcohol consumption.

Bottom line: Be mindful of how many hard seltzers you’re consuming. As part of a healthy eating pattern, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women, or two per day for men.

 

Do Any Hard Seltzers Have Lower Calories Than White Claw?

 

Yes, some brands of hard seltzers have even fewer calories than White Claw. However, the difference is typically only a few calories — so if you’re indulging in a hard seltzer, go with whichever brand you like best.

Here are a few lower-calorie options:

Sparkling Ice Spiked: 80 calories, 4% ABV, 0g sugar, 1g carbs Flying Embers: 95 calories, 5% ABV, 0g sugar, 0g carbs Jose Cuervo Playamar: 90 calories, 4.5% ABV, 0g sugar, 0g carbs Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer: 90 calories, 4.5% ABV, 0g sugar, 1-2g carbs Grandeur Peak: 90 calories, 4.5% ABV Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water: 88 calories, 4.2% ABV, 0g sugar San Juan Seltzer: 85 calories, 4.5% ABV, 0g sugar, 0g carbs Pacer Low-Proof Seltzer: 50 calories, 2% ABV, 0g sugar Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer (Signature Flavors): 80 calories, 4% ABV, 0g sugar, 0g carbs Karbach Ranch Water: 90 calories, 4.5% ABV, 0g sugar, 1g carbs Smirnoff Seltzer: 90 calories, 4.5% ABV, 0g sugar

If you want to lower your tipple’s calorie count, but you’re not a fan of hard seltzer, keep in mind many light beers contain around 95 calories — so if you prefer the taste of beer, that may be a preferable option.

The post Are White Claws and Other Hard Seltzers Actually Healthy? appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Jordan Burchette
Can a Protein Shake at Breakfast Help You Reach Your Goals?

Maybe you’ve knocked back a protein shake after a tough workout. But is a protein shake good at breakfast? Yep — in fact, it’s a great way to get more protein each day. If you’re ready to shake things up, here’s what you need to know about sipping protein shakes as part of breakfast — plus some yummy breakfast recipes made with protein powder.

 

How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day?

The minimum amount of protein your body needs per day is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. (To determine your weight in kilograms, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.)

But you may want to think of that number as just a starting point. Many of us — including people who are super active and people looking to lose weight — may need significantly more protein — upwards of 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day, says Krista Maguire, R.D., and Beachbody senior nutrition manager.

 

Is It OK to Eat a Protein Shake on an Empty Stomach?

man making protein shake for breakfast

“There’s no reason you can’t have one in the morning on an empty stomach,” Maguire says. But if you’re drinking a protein shake as part of breakfast, you may want to go beyond simply mixing protein powder with water. To make it a complete meal, Maguire suggests adding ingredients such as fruit, nut butter, yogurt, oats, or seeds.

“Protein helps keep you feeling full,” Maguire says. “So having a protein shake at breakfast — combined with some fruit or complex carbs and healthy fats — makes a complete, balanced meal that provides the energy and nutrition you need.”

 

Should You Drink a Protein Shake Before or After a Morning Workout?

If you favor morning workouts, you may be wondering when you should have a protein shake: before or after your sweat sesh. The answer? Whatever works best for you.

“The research is still out on whether or not protein or specific amino acids — the building blocks of protein — consumed before exercise can help with post-exercise recovery,” Maguire says. That said, digestion and exercise sometimes don’t mix, so it’s a good idea to give yourself an hour or so between your shake and your workout.

And, since your muscles go into rebuilding mode right after exercise, consuming protein within 30 minutes of wrapping your workout can help give your body those building blocks it needs to do this effectively. Beachbody Performance Recover‘s proprietary blend of fast-absorbing whey protein, medium-absorbing pea protein, and slow-absorbing casein protein ensures you have protein on hand for the entire process.

All that being said, when it comes to protein timing, total daily intake may matter more than however you plan your protein consumption around exercise. So, it may be to your advantage to train your protein focus on that total above all others.

 

5 Protein Shake Breakfast Recipes

Looking for ways to add protein to your breakfast? Try one of these tasty recipes made with Shakeology.

Triple Berry Breakfast Smoothie

Shakeology Triple Berry Breakfast Smoothie | protein shake for breakfast

Fruity Strawberry Whey Shakeology is blended with two kinds of dark berries, and rich Greek yogurt gives this shake a boost of extra protein for a total of 37 grams.

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Shakeology Carrot Cake Smoothie | protein shake for breakfast

This shake recipe has all the flavors of actual carrot cake, without all the added fats and sugars. It also packs a flavor punch, thanks to fresh carrots, pineapple, walnuts, and cinnamon.

La-La Land Smoothie

Shakeology green smoothie | protein shake for breakfast

Creamy Vanilla Whey (or Vanilla Plant-Based Vegan) Shakeology blends with tart-sweet kiwifruit, orange zest, avocado, hearty kale, plus a scoop of Collagen Boost for beautiful skin, healthy nails, and 11 grams of filling fiber.

Banana Cashew Latte

Banana Cashew Latte Shakeology smoothie | protein shake for breakfast

Creamy, coffee-flavored Café Latte Whey Shakeology saves having to brew a cup of joe (add a scoop of Focused Energy Shakeology Boost if it’s caffeine you crave) and cook up a big breakfast if you’re in a rush.

Triple Chocolate Smoothie

Triple Chocolate Shakeology smoothie | protein shake for breakfast

Made with rich and creamy Chocolate Whey Shakeology, this shake boasts an added boost of cocoa powder and cacao nibs for even more chocolatey flavor. If you’re following 2B Mindset, simply add in some fruit to fit Plate It! guidelines.

The post Can a Protein Shake at Breakfast Help You Reach Your Goals? appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Chelsea Frank
How Much Sugar Is In Wine, and What’s the Best Low-Sugar Option?

If you’re trying to cut back on added sugar, you’ve probably already nixed candy bars and sugary cocktails from your meal plan.

But what about wine? Because — and we hate to be the bearer of bad news here — there is sugar in wine.

So which wine has the least sugar, and how can you find the best low sugar wine?

Quick winemaking lesson: The alcohol in wine is a byproduct of fermenting naturally occurring sugars found in wine grapes.

Some of these sugars remain unfermented, and they’re called residual sugar, says Sofia Norton, RD, a dietitian based in Los Angeles.

“You can recognize the sugar content of wine by its taste,” Norton says.

Dry wines typically have less than 10 grams of residual sugar per liter, which averages out to around 1.5 grams of sugar or less per 5-ounce glass.

Sweeter wines, including dessert wines and late harvest wines, have — you guessed it — more residual sugar.

Want to be mindful of your sugar intake while restocking your wine rack? Look for dry styles of these low sugar wines.

1. Sauvignon Blanc

“You can find this dry, white wine grown all around the world,” Norton says.

The average 5-ounce serving has 3 grams of total carbohydrates, so it’s hard to go wrong with this varietal.

Better yet: Try the sauvignon blanc from FitVine, a line of low sugar wines — it has just 0.09 grams of sugar and 114 calories in each glass.

2. Chardonnay

Chardonnay is another international grape, and it pairs well with just about any dish.

A glass of chardonnay has around 3.2 grams of total carbohydrates per serving, and around half of that comes from glucose, Norton says.

3. Sangiovese

Wines made with Italy’s most popular grape have about 3.8 grams of total carbohydrates per 5-ounce glass.

If you love red wine, look for a bone-dry Chianti blend or Brunello di Montalcino.

4. Pinot Noir

This California grape is said to be the world’s most popular light-bodied red wine, Norton says, and a 5-ounce glass has around 3.4 grams of total carbohydrates.

Try Beringer Founder’s Estate Pinot Noir, a super-affordable dry wine that ranks high on taste.

5. Brut Champagne

The amount of sugar in Champagne can vary widely, but bottles labeled “brut,” extra brut,” or “brut nature” are your best bet when you’re looking to raise a toast with a low sugar wine.

“The word ‘brut’ here means dry, raw, and unrefined,” Norton explains.

Splurge on the influencer favorite Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne, or try the slightly more budget-friendly Nicolas Feuillatte Reserve Exclusive Brut.

How Much Sugar Is in an Average Glass of Wine?

Finding the sugar content in a specific brand or varietal can be a challenge, because beverage companies aren’t required to list the nutrition content on the label. When in doubt, the overall carbohydrate content can at least help you gauge the sugar content.

Generally speaking, though, here’s how the different types of wine stack up:

Red wine: 1 gram per serving (5 ounces) White wine: 1.4 grams per serving (5 ounces) Rosé: 6.8 grams per serving (~6 ounces) Sweet dessert wine: 8 grams per serving (3.5 ounces) Can You Drink Wine When You’re Trying to Lose Weight?

Yes, but focus on moderation and pay attention to portion control.

Going over your daily caloric needs can lead to weight gain over time, and the calories in alcohol can definitely contribute to that.

A 5-ounce glass of late harvest wine, for example, contains 20 grams of carbohydrates and 172 calories.

Two glasses of wine can put a dent in your caloric intake pretty quickly, Norton cautions.

The calories in wine come from residual sugar and from alcohol, Norton explains. And those “liquid calories” may not be as effective at making you feel satiated.

“In other words, you’d be taking in unnecessary calories and still feel hungry,” she adds.

But as long as you’re being mindful about your overall calorie intake and your daily activity level, you can still drink wine when you’re trying to lose weight — just skip the dessert wines.

“If you’re trying to keep your sugar or carb intake low, stick to 1 to 2 servings of dry wine,” Norton says.

The post How Much Sugar Is In Wine, and What’s the Best Low-Sugar Option? appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Jordan Burchette
What You Need to Know About Protein

Between trendy paleo, keto, and low-carb diets, and headlines consistently spouting the many wonders and benefits of protein, this macronutrient is having a moment — and it doesn’t appear to be leaving the limelight anytime soon.

According to Nielsen data, 55 percent of households say protein is something they take into consideration when shopping for food. This, in combination with the growing popularity of plant-based diets, has spurred the demand for alternative sources of protein, a category that now tops $22 billion annually.

Some people swear by high-protein diets, believing this nutrient reigns supreme, while others think it’s overrated and over-consumed. Protein is often found at the center of our plates, whether we’re meat eaters or vegetarians. But what is protein, exactly? What are the best sources? Is there a magic number we should aim for?

This guide will explain everything you need to know about protein.

 

What Is Protein?

“Protein is one of the three main macronutrients, which means we require it in large amounts,” says Caitlin Self, MS, CNS, LDN of Frugal Nutrition. “Protein is made up of various amino acids, which are the building blocks for cells, collagen, and critical enzymes. We need protein in order to build muscles, bones, skin, and collagen, for hormones and enzymes, and for basic tissue repair.”

amino acids digestion illustration | what is protein

Proteins roles in the body include:

Repairing body tissues including muscles (like after a tough workout) Helping you break down and digest food Assisting with normal growth and development

The protein found in foods like chicken, eggs, and tofu is made up of amino acids. Your body makes 11 different amino acids, but we need to get nine more of them (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, known as the essential amino acids) from food.

 

Daily Protein Intake

Here’s the million-dollar protein question: What is the ideal daily protein intake? It actually depends. “The intake of protein for Americans is really varied,” says Self, who commonly sees people going to the extremes on both ends.

The acceptable protein range for adults is 10 to 35 percent of calories. If you eat 1,500 calories a day, that’s between 38 and 131 grams of protein (one gram of protein is four calories).

Another way to look at it: Over the course of a day, you need a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you’re physically active, the number can be higher at 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, depending on how much you’re working out. Don’t forget: In order to figure out how many kilograms you weigh, simply divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 and that will be your weight in kilograms.

While those numbers might seem daunting, remember that’s your daily goal. If you aim to eat around 25-30 grams of protein (or more, depending on your size) at your main meals along with protein in between when you snack, you should have no trouble meeting your needs.

Daily Reference Intakes: The Dietary Reference Intakes for protein (the minimum amount you need to stay healthy) are 56 grams for men ages 19 to 70 and 46 grams for women ages 19 to 70.

“Keep in mind that pregnant and nursing mothers, growing children and adolescents, and highly active athletes will need more protein,” adds Self. (Such groups should aim for the higher end of the range.)

Tempted to go even higher with your protein intake? Don’t do it.

“Consuming too much protein can be really taxing on our kidneys since that’s where it all gets processed,” says Self.

 

The Best Sources of Protein

There are plenty of protein sources out there — most foods contain a mixture of two or three of the three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Even a cup of kale contains some protein (about 0.6 grams).

Although meat and other animal products have the highest-quality protein, “there are smaller amounts of protein available in nuts, seeds, vegetables, and legumes,” says Self.

Here’s an alphabetical list of some of the best sources of protein:

1. Beans and legumes

beans grains legumes bowls | what is protein

Legumes are a go-to source of protein for vegetarians and plant-based eaters. Try a variety, from fava beans (almost 13 grams per cup) to lentils (almost 18 grams per cup) and peanuts (technically not a nut, with over 7 grams per ounce) to black beans (almost 15 grams per cup).

 

2. Buckwheat

raw buckwheat | what is protein

Like quinoa, this gluten-free “grain” is technically a pseudocereal. Whatever you call buckwheat, it’s also packed with protein. A cup of cooked buckwheat groats provides nearly 6 grams, and so does a cup of soba noodles (made with buckwheat flour).

 

3. Chicken and other poultry raw chicken breast lemon | what is proteinFresh meat on wooden board with spice, tomato and lemon on table

Easy to cook and readily available, chicken is a versatile source of protein. Chicken breasts contain 21 grams of protein per 3 ounces, cooked, while chicken thighs contain only slightly less. White meat poultry, such as chicken and turkey breast, without the skin, is the healthiest way to eat this type of protein.

 

4. Dairy products dairy milk cheese | what is proteinVariation of dairy products on white background

The best sources of protein in the dairy aisle are low-fat Greek yogurt (over 24 grams per cup), low-fat cottage cheese (28 grams per cup), and skim milk (about 8 grams per cup). Cheese also provides plenty of protein but also more fat, chiefly saturated fat.

 

5. Eggs

halved boiled eggs overhead | what is protein

A whole large egg contains more than 6 grams of protein. Keep the added fat to a minimum during the cooking process, e.g., don’t add cheese, cook on a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, or try hard-boiling or poaching the eggs.

 

6. Lean beef and pork

cooked sliced steak plate overhead | what is protein

Lean beef (95%) contains almost 22 grams of protein in 3 ounces cooked, as does lean pork tenderloin (fat trimmed).

 

7. Nuts and seeds

seeds assortment | what is protein

From almonds (almost 6 grams) to cashews (more than 4 grams) and walnuts (more than 4 grams) to hulled sunflower seeds (almost 6 grams), a one-ounce serving of nuts and/or seeds offers a portable way to sneak in some protein.

 

8. Protein powders

Price of a bag of Shakeology

Protein shakes can be a super convenient way to up your protein intake. If you want to keep it simple, all you need to do is combine the powder with some water! Just make sure that you pick a high-quality powder without any unnecessary, unhealthy ingredients.

Shakeology will give you 17 grams of whey protein or 16 grams of plant-based protein without any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. It also serves up 6 grams of fiber to help you stay fuller for longer.

 

9. Quinoa quinoa bowl | what is proteinQuinoa with Brown Rice in a Cast Iron Pan.

Quinoa is a nearly complete plant-based protein, providing over 8 grams per cup, cooked.

 

10. Seafood

shrimp cocktail sauce | what is protein

Salmon provides 19 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, while the same serving of shrimp offers 20 grams.

 

11. Tofu and tempeh tofu tempeh soy | what is proteinCulinary tofu eating. Tofu isolated on white background.

Soybeans are a complete plant protein. You’ll get 11 grams in 3 ounces of tofu and 16 grams from the same amount of tempeh.

 

Personalize to your liking

“The best sources of protein are the ones you tolerate best,” says Self. So, if chicken sits well with you, that’s a great choice. (She recommends pastured poultry if it’s available.) But if black beans “make you feel great, then that’s a good protein source,” she says. (She suggests soaking them first, to make them easier to digest.)

“Our bodies are all different,” she says.

 

Different Types of Protein

Here are two different ways proteins might be identified:

Complete proteins

One indicator of a good source of protein versus others that are only so-so is the number and levels of various amino acids they contain. Proteins are “complete” if they contain all nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in sufficient amounts.

While all animal proteins contain all of these essential amino acids, soy is considered the only complete plant protein. But don’t get too hung up on complete versus incomplete. If you follow a plant-based diet, aim to eat a variety of different protein sources to help ensure you’re getting all of the various essential amino acids.

Lean proteins

It’s up to you whether you want to get your protein from meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans, and/or legumes. One factor to keep in mind is the amount of saturated fat found in the protein foods you’re eating. Some cuts of red meat or other animal proteins can be high in saturated fat. Lean proteins are your best bet for overall health.

 

Protein & Weight Maintenance

Protein may be helpful when it comes to appetite regulation because protein consumption is associated with helping you feel fuller longer.

 

Symptoms of Protein Deficiency

“True protein deficiency is rare,” says Self. That “deficiency typically shows as ascites, which is the buildup of fluid in the abdomen, and muscle atrophy.”

But if you’re consistently coming up short on protein over a long period of time, you may want to check with your healthcare provider. Some possible symptoms of protein deficiency might manifest in some of the ways listed below. But again, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your protein intake.

Potential symptoms include:

Hair loss or dry and dull hair Soft and brittle nails Brown and patchy pigmentation of the skin Impaired wound healing Low energy Muscle weakness

The post What You Need to Know About Protein appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Linnea Zielinski
What Is a Calorie Deficit and Can It Actually Help You Lose Weight?

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably heard about the importance of a calorie deficit — but what does that mean?

Being in a calorie deficit simply means “you eat fewer calories than your body uses,” explains Dana Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, a senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

You can be in a slight calorie deficit or a significant calorie deficit, depending on how many calories you remove from your diet, says Emily Tills, MS, RDN, CDN.

Of course, that’s not as easy in practice as it is in theory, as you already know if you’ve ever tried to reduce your calorie intake. And if you run a calorie deficit long enough, Tills adds, your body may metabolically adapt to conserve energy.

Here’s what you need to know about creating a calorie deficit and avoiding potential pitfalls.

 

How Many Calories Do You Need to Eat Each Day?

young man reading tablet ipad kitchen | calorie deficit

Before you can create a calorie deficit in your diet, you’ll need to figure out how many calories your body needs each day to maintain your current weight.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the average sedentary man between ages 21 and 50 needs between 2,200 and 2,400 calories per day. The average sedentary woman in the same age range needs between 1,800 and 2,000 calories per day.

However, the exact number of calories needed to lose or maintain weight is individual to you. It can be influenced by several factors, including muscle mass, fat mass, nutrition and dieting history, and overall health history, Tills says.

You don’t have to figure out all of those things alone. “There are predictive equations that can be used to approximate how many calories we need in a day,” Hunnes explains.

One good example is the National Institute of Health’s Body Weight Planner, which factors in your sex, height, current weight, and activity level. But while this can be a useful tool, your best bet is to consult with a registered dietitian who can give you their professional opinion and a personalized plan.

Once you have this number, figure out how close to or far from it you are by tracking what you’re eating and drinking for a week. From there, you can calculate how many calories you’ll need to cut from your typical eating plan each day to run a calorie deficit.

 

How Do You Run A Calorie Deficit?

According to Hunnes, you can run a calorie deficit in three different ways: through diet alone, through exercise alone, or through a combination of the two. (If you’re relying on exercise for part of your calorie deficit, be aware that we often overestimate calories burned during exercise, and cardio machine calculators aren’t always accurate.)

“Start with a mild deficit of 200 to 300 calories to help with fat loss and weight loss,” Tills suggests. For example, if you’re currently eating 2,000 calories per day, start your calorie deficit by aiming for 1,700 to 1,800 calories instead.

If you’re on the heavier side, you may be able to start with a more significant calorie deficit, Hunnes says.

However, before starting anything, consult with a registered dietitian and your doctor — and be sure you’re not under-eating so much that it takes a toll on your health.

The next step is to decide how long you plan to run a calorie deficit. Tills recommends setting a time-based goal — for example, you might plan to run a calorie deficit for four months, followed by a one-month break at maintenance calories.

This can be more helpful than a weight-based goal (“I’ll run a calorie deficit until I hit my goal weight”) because a weight-based goal doesn’t take into account any muscle mass you gain or hormonal fluctuations you experience along the way.

Even when running a calorie deficit, it’s normal for your weight loss to stall at a certain point. “Many people plateau at some point during their weight loss as their bodies adapt to a new energy intake,” Hunnes explains. If this happens, reassess the baseline of how many calories you need per day. When you lose weight, your body needs fewer calories, so you may need to recalculate how many calories you need to lose weight.

 

7 Ways to Decrease Your Calorie Intake

hand declining soda | calorie deficit

When you’re just starting out with a calorie deficit, you want to go for low-hanging fruit. That means prioritizing the easiest ways to decrease calories first. Here are seven simple tactics to help you run a calorie deficit.

Remove added sugar from your diet. Cut back on “liquid calories” from juicesoda, and alcohol. Measure out cooking oils. (These contain around 120 calories per tablespoon!) Or use a cooking spray instead, such as this avocado oil spray. Bake, grill, or steam foods instead of frying them. Use smaller portions of calorie-rich toppings like mayo, sour cream, and guacamole, and be more mindful when eating these sauces. Swap in reduced-fat versions of dairy products. Choose leaner cuts of meat.

The post What Is a Calorie Deficit and Can It Actually Help You Lose Weight? appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Toshi Jones
15 Hilarious Memes About Learning How to Cook

Like many of us, you’re probably cooking many more meals at home, and we can attest that learning to cook on the fly is harder than it seems.

Let’s not even mention how hard it is to stick to a healthy eating plan during this time — see hilarious weight loss memes here.

Even though we may have already botched dinner — again — we want to add to the growing list of food memes on the inter-webs, so check out our favorite funny learning to cook memes to lighten the mood.

1. #Adulting

2. What do you mean, can I cook?

3. I’m a stickler for the rules.

4. Pancakes, always and forever!

5. Grandma’s always lookin’ out.

6. Every day of my life.

7. Prepping for the fried rice tsunami headed my way.

8. Refrigerator sorcery fully approved.

9. Ben Wyatt Woman of the Year!

10. Expectation vs. Reality.

11. Living vicariously through the internet.

12. Now, who’s gonna clean up this mess?

13. Truth.

14. What’s grosser than gross?

15. Who’s got ten fingers and knows how to type?

The post 15 Hilarious Memes About Learning How to Cook appeared first on The Beachbody Blog.

- Shavonne Morrison

When it comes to fall flavors, nothing is quite as comforting as warm pumpkin bread straight out of the oven. With a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, sitting by the fire and soaking in the cozy weather with a baked treat is one of the best parts of the season. 

This healthy pumpkin bread recipe is just that. It’s made with HUM’s Core Strength Protein powder, which is a vegan, easy-to-digest protein powder that makes this delicious fall staple even healthier while promoting blood sugar balance. 

Why We Love This Healthy Protein Pumpkin Bread

Your run-of-the-mill pumpkin bread is going to be mostly carbs. And while carbs are not bad (our brain and heart run on primarily carbs, after all), it’s best to eat them paired with protein and healthy fats. 

Sharp spikes in blood sugar levels can be detrimental to your mood, focus, and energy throughout the day—so it’s important to strive to keep your blood sugar balanced. Adding protein via Greek yogurt and HUM’s Core Strength Protein Powder gives this bread an advantage over the average one, because it will digest more slowly (while also being easy on your gut) and give your body plenty of time to process the carbs without giving you a sugar rush.

Health Benefits of This Pumpkin Protein Bread Recipe

HUM’s Core Strength Protein Powder has a great warm vanilla flavor, which makes it perfect for sneaking more protein into fall treats, especially if you’re trying to get more protein in your diet. Digestive enzymes like lipase and lactase, along with L. acidophilus aid the body in digesting and absorbing nutrients so you get the most out of your food.

Another reason I love this protein powder is because it is a complete protein. The combination of pumpkin, hemp, and pea proteins contains all nine essential amino acids. It can be tricky to find vegan sources of complete proteins, so that’s a perk of this powder.

It’s also high in iron, ideal for those on a plant-based diet who are not consuming animal products, which tend to be a major source of iron in the diet. Plus, 20g of protein per serving makes it filling for weight loss. Protein is also needed for building lean muscle, which increases metabolic rate, further aiding in maintaining weight loss.

The star ingredient of this recipe is, of course, pumpkin. Pumpkins have numerous health benefits. For starters, they are low in calories (just 30 calories per cup) while being nutrient-dense. 

They also contain plenty of fiber which promotes healthy digestion and gut health. Vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, iron, and more give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

These nutrients make pumpkin a great way to boost overall health while supporting weight loss or maintenance goals, reducing signs of aging, and combating damage from free radicals we encounter in our day-to-day lives.

The post This Pumpkin Protein Bread Will Give You Glowing Skin and a Slim Waist appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Michele Ross
Everything You Need to Know About Losing Weight in a Safe, Sustainable Way

At HUM, we understand weight loss, dieting, exercise, and body image are all sensitive topics that can be triggering for some. We’ll never tell you that you need to lose weight, go on a certain diet, or exercise a certain way. That said, if your goal is to lose weight, we support you. We’re here to give you science-backed tools to do so in a safe, healthy way.

Information about the best way to lose weight and how to lose fat, specifically, is constantly changing. New diets, trends in eating, and forms of exercise claiming to be the answer to your weight loss woes can make it even more confusing. We dove into the latest science of how to lose weight fast, including some of the best weight loss tips for women.

Weight loss: Even the mere mention of it can send a person into a downward spiral of confusion and stress overload. It doesn’t help that it feels like the science of weight loss is always changing. A few decades back, all fat was demonized—but we now know that the right kinds have proven benefits for metabolism, satiety, and many other far-reaching aspects of health. Fad diets and trends (think: juice fasts, cleanses, etc.) still gain steam every now and then… but often leave you feeling hangry and aren’t beneficial for long-term, sustainable weight loss. There’s also exercise to consider: Does it truly rev up weight loss, or do your food choices always reign supreme?

It goes without saying that weight loss is a sensitive topic. We’re certainly not here to tell you that you need to lose weight. But if you’d like to shed a few pounds, the goal should always be to make the journey healthy, sustainable, and founded on legit principles. To support your goals (and, ahem, bypass the BS), we spoke to experts about the latest science of weight loss and tried-and-true weight loss tips for women.

Weight Loss Mythbusting weight loss myths

Before we dive into weight loss tips that actually work, it’s important to dispel a few myths that are all too common.

“You Can ‘Cancel’ Out Bad Choices”

If you’ve ever heard that you can “even the score” between healthy and not-so-healthy dietary habits, you’ll need to ditch this way of thinking. “If you eat a cupcake and exercise 30 minutes to work it off, it is not a real exchange. What we put into our bodies and how we exercise do not ‘cancel’ each other out,” explains Jennifer Maeng, MS, RD, LD, CDN, CNSC, a clinical and culinary registered dietitian and founder of Chelsea Nutrition in NYC and Miami. In short, she says that you can’t manipulate diet and exercise in this way—for the sake of losing weight or supporting your greater health. This way of thinking can also lead to disordered eating patterns and hyperfixation on food—neither of which are healthy.

“Weight Loss Is As Simple As Calories In and Calories Out”

While your body does need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, it’s not the only factor involved in weight loss. “There are so many different factors that play a role in weight loss,” Maeng says. “For example, those with hormonal imbalances may experience difficulties with weight loss than those without.” (Not to mention the hormonal imbalances that are part of women’s monthly cycles—and eventually the wild ride that is menopause.) Of course, there are additional considerations that impact weight that go beyond calorie counting and burning, including but not certainly limited to blood sugar balance, sleep habits, and underlying medical conditions. Without addressing other aspects at play, being in a calorie deficit may not help you lose weight.

“Carbs Are the Enemy”

“Carbohydrates are one-third of the necessary macronutrients—the other two being protein and fat—that our bodies require for survival,” Maeng emphasizes. Yes, highly processed, refined carbs (such as those in pastries and sugary cereals) are low in nutrients and can contribute to weight gain and additional health complications. But on the flip side, Maeng gives fiber-rich whole grain carbs the green light. “Complex carbohydrates help with increasing satiety, regulating bowel movements, lowering cholesterol, and improving the gut microbiome overall,” she explains. All of these benefits will work to your benefit for weight loss and beyond.

If you restrict your intake of carbs or cut them out completely, Maeng says that you’ll likely experience weight loss… but not for long. “When people eliminate carbs from their diet, they typically soon experience a ‘quick’ few-pound weight loss that is simply water weight, but then their weight will plateau,” she explains. When you carry out this restrictive dietary pattern over time, she warns that you’ll “end up missing out on important nutrients and using glucose as your energy sources—ultimately incorrectly rewiring our normal processes of metabolism.”

The Emerging Science of Weight Loss how to lose weight

While the above examples of weight loss methods are on the way out, science is always evolving, with research revealing new ways to improve weight loss success. Maeng shares a few areas of research that particularly pique her interest.

Gut Balance Promotes Weight Loss (and Vice Versa)

Gut health is influential across countless areas of health and wellness—weight loss included. For instance, Maeng cites a 2020 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Developments in Nutrition, in which participants who had a healthy baseline gut microbiota composition were significantly more likely to have a decrease in waist circumstance after undergoing a weight loss protocol. Moreover, according to a 2022 meta-analysis published in Gut Microbes, “Increasing weight loss is positively associated with increases in gut microbiota α-diversity and reductions in intestinal permeability.”

In other words, a healthy gut can predict better outcomes for weight loss and body measurements—and losing weight can, in turn, enhance gut diversity and reduce the chances of struggling with leaky gut syndrome. (Stay tuned for specific tips to get your gut right.)

Weight Loss Requires Sustained Behavioral Changes 

 Findings from the National Weight Control Registry at Brown Medical School, the largest prospective study of people to date who have successfully lost weight and kept it off for good offer insight into what it takes to keep weight off in the long run. This 10-year observational study evaluated self-reported results from 2,886 participants (78 percent female, with a mean age of 48 years) who lost at least 30 pounds and maintained their results for a year or more.

Researchers found several commonalities that contributed to weight loss and maintenance success:

90 percent exercised one hour daily (on average)78 percent ate breakfast daily75 percent weighed themselves at least once weekly62 percent watched no more than 10 hours of TV weekly

Sustainable and successful weight loss is possible if you maintain healthy habits across the board—which includes but isn’t limited to diet, physical fitness, and consistently (though not obsessively!) tracking your progress.

7 Weight Loss Tips for Women That Actually Work weight loss tips for women

So, what is the best way to lose weight and keep it off? Here’s how to lose weight fast and for good using the latest science. 

1. Understand Your Why, Then Set Goals

It’s essential to understand why you want to lose weight in the first place, says Maeng. She shares a few helpful prompts to get started:

Do you want to feel stronger during exercise, gain more muscle mass, or have more energy throughout your daily activities or with your family?Do you want to address (or avoid) health issues?Do you want to gain mental clarity, happiness, and manage stress better?

“By eating whole foods to nourish your body and help support regular functions, these are the types of improvements you could see in your life,” she explains. “But it is up to you to decide your biggest motivating factor.” From there, she suggests tailoring your weight loss plan and setting goals, which can motivate you even further to see the journey through.

Tip: Our brains love the thrill of a reward (hello, dopamine!), so if you conquer a weight loss goal—however big or small—be sure to celebrate your win with a fun treat or celebration of some sort. “Non-food motivating factors are a great tool. Treat yourself to something you love (a manicure or a movie) if you’ve had a successful week,” Maeng suggests.

2. Plan Out Your Meals in Advance

Maeng also advises meal planning. While it may seem daunting to think about what you’re going to eat days in advance, she encourages everyone to shake themselves out of an all-or-nothing mindset. “Meal planning really comes down to planning options for food that fit into your specific lifestyle and behaviors,” she says. This can take the stress out of daily cooking, which encourages you to cook more at home. It also helps you avoid the take-out trap on busy days. Looking for ideas? Check out the healthy meal ideas dietitians swear by.

3. Work with a Dietitian

 If you’re serious about weight loss (as well as in the market for additional wellness wins), Maeng recommends enlisting the help of a dietitian.

“An RD will incorporate your food preferences and create a menu you actually look forward to—and therefore are more likely to adhere to,” Maeng continues. Plus, she says that RDs can also help you discover:

The right food brands for your needsWhat to eat while travelingHow to order food and drinks while dining out/in social situations

“[Beyond] counseling, dietitians also provide accountability, which is important to keep clients motivated and help them stay on track to achieve their wellness goals,” she adds. In turn, this partnership can promote weight loss and a healthier relationship with food overall. Published in 2019, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials even found that “six studies found a significant intervention effect for the dietitian consultation” for those aiming to lose weight. As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. (Psst: HUM Nutrition subscribers get free access to a dietitian to answer questions and provide personalized supplement recommendations.)

4. Be Good to Your Gut

A healthy gut is crucial for weight loss. While friendly bacteria via probiotic supplements and fermented foods can help to optimize gut health, Maeng says that you’ll also want to promote gut balance and a generally healthy lifestyle by:

Eating high-quality, nutrient-dense foodsLimiting alcohol intake (try mindful drinking instead)Finding healthy ways to manage stressDiscovering your unique food intolerancesUnderstanding how your medications can impact your gut 5. Curb Cravings with Supplements

Of course, you should prioritize healthy food choices first and foremost—whether or not you want to lose weight. However, it can help to level up your supplement game to achieve a specific goal (such as weight loss) and overcome certain obstacles standing in your way of achieving it (like cravings for sweets and treats). If you feel like cravings are getting the best of you and end up derailing your weight loss progress, consider supplementing with HUM’s Counter Cravings. The caffeine-free blend packs chromium, seaweed extract, and L-theanine to promote balanced blood sugar levels, reduce cravings, boost metabolism, and support healthy body weight.

6. Exercise Regularly

“Exercise is great for muscle density, mood, the immune system, insulin resistance, hormones, sleep, and much more,” says Maeng. In other words, working out won’t only keep your body fit, but also improve areas of health that directly influence your ability to lose weight and keep it off. In fact, a 2019 study published in the journal Obesity found that participants who lost a significant amount of weight (about 58 pounds, on average) credited their weight maintenance and energy balance over the years to moderate-to-vigorous workouts.

While Maeng generally recommends weight training to her clients, she says that it’s more important to understand your readiness and barriers and modify your fitness regimen accordingly. She advises starting with the type of exercise that you feel most comfortable with—and, you know, actually enjoy. It could be walking around the block, swimming, yoga, HIIT training, or anything else that gets your body moving.

7. Avoid Rapid Weight Loss Methods and Yo-Yo Dieting

Though it can be exciting to see the numbers on your scale trending downwards, Maeng emphasizes how important it is to take a slow and steady approach to losing weight. “Weight loss should be at most one pound per week,” she explains. “Any more than that and it is not sustainable for our bodies and metabolism, and you will notice the yo-yo [effect]—likely because the method you are trying is not sustainable.”

On this note, she advises not falling prey to toxic elements of diet culture, which often glorify quick fixes and fad fasts—not to mention typically unattainable standards for body sizes and shapes. Instead, she recommends checking in with yourself to ensure that you maintain:

Adequate energy levelsLow stress levelsHigh-quality sleepAn overall good quality of life

“Work towards small, achievable goals consistently,” she continues. “As a dietitian who has helped numerous clients lose weight, I am here to tell you that consistency always wins over perfection.”

The post Everything You Need to Know About Losing Weight in a Safe, Sustainable Way appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Gaby Vaca-Flores
Do Digestive Enzyme Supplements Actually Work?

Digestive enzymes help break down large nutrients in your food. This action is part of the digestive process and promotes nutrient absorption. Best of all, when digestive enzymes are doing their job, they can relieve post-meal bloating. Because digestive enzymes are naturally present in the body, there is some confusion as to whether it’s actually necessary to take them in supplement form. 

In this article, we’ll compare our body’s enzymes with those found in dietary supplements and debunk whether or not digestive enzymes work. 

Natural Digestive Enzymes vs Digestive Enzyme Supplements digestive enzymes

Natural digestive enzymes are an essential step in the chemical digestive process. They are proteins made by the stomach, small intestine, and pancreas that help break down food. There are many types of digestive enzymes, but the main ones are:

Amylase (breaks down starches)Lipase (breaks down fats)Protease (breaks down protein)Lactase (breaks down lactose or milk sugar)

These enzymes can also be found in supplemental over-the-counter (OTC) forms. A high-quality digestive enzyme supplement will usually provide a wide range of enzymes that can break down proteins, carbs, fats, milk sugar, and even fiber. Unlike those in your body, OTC digestive enzymes are typically derived from food or microorganism sources.

Do Digestive Enzymes Work?

The short answer is yes. Digestive enzyme supplements are well-researched for their ability to aid in the breakdown of nutrients so that your body can absorb and use them for all sorts of bodily functions. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

By helping with the breakdown of nutrients, digestive enzymes are also effective at providing relief from bloating and post-meal discomforts like indigestion. For instance, in a study where people took either the enzyme lipase or a placebo with a high-fat meal, the enzyme group reported significantly less stomach fullness compared to the group that didn’t take an enzyme.

As a registered dietitian, I’ve seen first-hand how digestive enzyme supplements, like HUM’s Flatter Me, have helped people optimize their digestive process. Don’t believe me? These are just a few of the things HUM customers have said about taking Flatter Me:

“Really helped with bloating when I ate foods that normally caused bloating.”

-Hannah D.

“I can notice a huge difference when I take these and when I don’t. Absolutely reduces my gas and bloating!”

-Kelsey B.

“I don’t think I’ve ever left a review for a product in my life. This has completely changed my life. I used to severely bloat, no matter what I ate. Now I can comfortably eat my meals without feeling miserable.”

-Rebecca

“I have noticed easier digestion of meals and reduced bloating since I started using Flatter Me.”

-Kimberly H.

Still need convincing? Watch how HUM’s Flatter Me works to quickly break down a bowl of oatmeal for smooth, easy digestion. Bye, bye bloat!

@humnutrition

The best #Bloating fix 😭🙌 helps you digest food and reduce your bloating!!

♬ original sound – Doing Things How Do Digestive Enzymes Work? 

Your saliva begins to digest food immediately by releasing enzymes that break down starches and fats. This process is called chemical digestion. Of course, mechanical digestion (AKA chewing) also plays a vital role in moving things along.

Then, chewed food travels down to the stomach, where it’s met by more digestive enzymes. At this point, digestive enzymes will further break down nutrients so that they are easily absorbed by the small intestine. This process generally takes about four to six hours.

On the other hand, digestive enzyme supplements tend to work much quicker. For instance, HUM’s Flatter Me supplement can work as quickly as 30 minutes after consumption.

Who Should Take Digestive Enzymes? how do digestive enzymes work

Most people can benefit from keeping digestive enzyme supplements handy just in case you happen to eat a meal that’s difficult to digest or likely to cause bloat. If you normally have a hard time digesting your food, then you might consider taking a supplement more regularly. 

Digestive enzymes can be taken daily or on an as-needed basis. 

Pro tip: if you’re on a date, traveling, or simply trying a new cuisine, keep a bottle of Flatter Me in your bag as your personal insurance against post-meal discomfort. 

The Takeaway

The bottom line is that digestive enzymes work for optimizing digestion, nutrient absorption, and bloating relief. They mirror the body’s digestive process by helping to break down large nutrients in your food. You can take them daily or with meals that may be difficult to digest.

The post Do Digestive Enzyme Supplements Actually Work? appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Jessica Migala
The One Carbohydrate You Should Be Eating for Gut Health

Here’s the call to eat more carbs. Yes, you read that right, just be sure you’re loading up on gut-healthy resistant starches. Learn more about the carb star and resistant starch foods to add to your diet.

During a time when it seems as if everyone’s actively avoiding carbohydrates—with even beans and oatmeal getting a bad rap in some diets—the reality is that foods like these provide a major health boost because of a very special carb they contain: Resistant starch. This type of fiber has been linked to better gut health, possibly weight and blood sugar management, and more.

What is Resistant Starch? resistant starch lentils

“Resistant starch is a form of carbohydrate that’s resistant to the digestive enzymes in the small intestine,” explains EA Stewart, RD, a registered dietitian and digestive health expert at The Spicy RD in San Diego, CA. When you think about the name “resistant starch,” its function in the body begins to make sense. Simply put: It’s not digested in the small intestine. Instead, once resistant starch enters the large intestine, it’s fermented by gut bacteria. This is unlike the carbohydrates in some other forms of starch, which your body digests and gets energy from. 

So, what are the benefits to undigested forms of starch? They might not give you energy—but they do act as a source of prebiotics to provide a food source for your gut microbiome, says Stewart. The bacteria in your gut need prebiotics to grow and thrive.

The type of foods resistant starch is found in “also tend to increase satiety and fullness,” says Stewart.  “In that way, they may help with weight loss if you feel fuller and eat fewer calories.” 

There is also some research showing that replacing carbohydrates in your diet for  resistant starch foods may help improve insulin sensitivity and result in lower blood sugar levels after eating. However, one’s blood sugar response to foods is extremely individual. Resistant starch in a meal may help blunt blood sugar levels for some people, but it could still lead to a spike for others. 

While there is talk that resistant starch may help decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and obesity—and these benefits may be promising—ultimately more research needs to be done to know if these links are legit, according to a 2022 review in the Journal of Functional Foods.

How Resistant Starch Can Benefit Gut Health

Your gut contains a mix of both “good” and “bad” living bacteria. “We want those good bacteria to thrive, and so we need to provide them with food,” says Stewart. A healthy microbiome plays an important role in immune function, as well as the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, she adds.

When you feed your gut bacteria—and this includes prebiotics from resistant starch—they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), says Stewart. Resistant starch is particularly stellar at producing an SCFA called butyrate, according to research. Why does that matter? “Butyrate is a source of energy for the cells of the intestine and gut,” she says. While we’re still understanding just how butyrate might benefit health, emerging research suggests the SFA may decrease inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and protect your heart, the Cleveland Clinic points out.

Including resistant starch foods in your diet may also help if you have a GI disease. Early studies show that people with irritable bowel disease (IBD) who eat resistant starch have less inflammation in the lining of the intestinal tract, experience fewer symptoms, and may improve their ability to stay in remission, according to a review in BMC Gastroenterology.

Resistant Starch Foods resistant starch foods

The good news is that there are so many good-for-you foods that contain resistant starch—and they’re tasty, too. Some foods naturally contain resistant starch, while other times, resistant starch can be created by the type of cooking and cooling method used on certain foods. Here’s where to get more in your diet, advises Stewart:

OatsLentilsBeans (particularly white beans)Dried peasPlantainsUnripe (green) bananas

Another trick for adding more resistant starch into your diet? Cook, cool, and then reheat (or consume cold) common carb-rich foods, such as white potatoes, pasta, and rice. “Heating decreases some resistant starch in foods, but then some of that resistant starch appears again when the food is cooled,” says Stewart. Here’s your green light to have that chilled pasta or potato salad or make extra rice to have with a stir-fry leftover tomorrow. 

How Much Resistant Starch Should You Be Eating?

Wondering how much resistant starch you should be eating? Simplest answer: If you’re not already eating the foods above, start incorporating them into your diet. One study in Nutrients in 2020 found that just five percent of those surveyed consumed legumes (beans, lentils, peas) daily, and one-third did not eat any over the prior month. Those who consumed a good amount ate them three to four times per week, so this is a good goal to aim for.

But don’t worry too much about consuming a certain amount of resistant starch, says Stewart. Currently, there are no official recommendations for resistant starch intake.

People often find it tough to make legumes a regular part of their diet, but Stewart says it can be done. “I’m a lentil pusher,” she says. “They are so hugely underrated, and are often an easier hurdle for people who don’t like beans because they’re smaller and milder in taste.” Try them in place of ground meat (e.g. lentil tacos, lentil sloppy joes), soups, stews, salads, and even—as Stewart recommends—frozen and dropped into a smoothie to amp up the fiber and protein content. If you’re not into the prep work that goes into boiling lentils until soft, you can often find cans or packages of precooked lentils.

Some resistant starch foods, like oats, can be consumed raw, but always make sure you eat legumes cooked, says Stewart. As for raw oats, these are great stirred into oatmeal (you can let sit overnight for overnight oats or consume on-the-spot), blended into a smoothie, or combined with pieces of dried and fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds and eaten as a muesli-like cold cereal with dairy or non-dairy milk.

If you don’t like the taste of green bananas, try green banana flour, notes Stewart, which can be used in baking, or added to a smoothie, pancakes, or waffles.

One thing to keep in mind: When you increase the amount of fiber-rich plant or prebiotic foods, you may experience GI discomfort at first, says Stewart. “For someone who has existing gut issues, introducing too much resistant starch foods could lead to digestive discomfort,” she says. And if you don’t feel well eating these foods, you’re more likely to stop eating them altogether. For best results, add these foods in slowly and gradually increase them in your diet. 

The Takeaway

TLDR: Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that isn’t digested. It delivers a host of benefits, including feeding good bacteria in your gut, blunting your blood sugar response after eating, and helping you feel full, among others. Focus on adding more of the foods that are a source of resistant starch, rather than trying to get a certain amount per day. These, including oats, lentils, beans, and potatoes, offer a variety of additional nutrients that promote health.

The post The One Carbohydrate You Should Be Eating for Gut Health appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Maddy Sims
How to Do Skin Cycling, TikTok’s Dermatologist-Approved Skincare Trend

What is skin cycling? Dermatologists break down everything to know about the popular skincare practice—including the benefits and the drawbacks.

It seems like there’s a new beauty trend going viral on the internet every day. And while most are debunked by dermatologists (think: using at-home filler pens, applying raw lemon juice to your skin, and putting toothpaste on pimples), one trend has earned the approval of many skin professionals. It’s called skin cycling, and it’s captured the attention of skincare gurus and beginners alike.

The practice involves a simple, easy-to-follow routine that encourages people to use active skincare ingredients carefully and sparingly over an extended period of time versus all at once. This is a large departure from the advice to load up on active skincare ingredients and exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate (we’re cringing just thinking about it, TBH). 

Skin cycling is a gentler approach that can work for nearly anyone. So what is skin cycling exactly and how can you use skin cycling in your routine? We spoke to dermatologists to get their honest thoughts on the trend and how to do it. Here’s what they had to say.

What Is Skin Cycling? skin cycling routine

So what even *is* skin cycling? “Skin cycling refers to rotating different products each night to prevent irritation that can occur with too many active ingredients and gives the skin an opportunity to recover,” explains Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. “It works to prevent over-exfoliation by switching out products in your skin-care routine and giving the skin a chance to recover.”

The problem with overdoing your skincare is that you risk damaging your skin barrier (the outermost layer of your skin), which can lead to dryness, redness, irritation, and breakouts.

The term skin cycling was originally coined by dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe on TikTok. Bowe recommended a four-day skincare routine to help people use their skincare products safely and effectively.

Skin Cycling Routine benefits of cycling for skin

So, what exactly is the skin cycling routine? Here’s the breakdown from Dr. Bowe’s video. First, you should start by washing your face every night with a gentle cleanser. After that, follow this guide:

Night one: Exfoliate (preferably with a chemical exfoliant, like glycolic acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid)Night two: Retinol (or prescription retinoid, like tretinoin or Retin-A)Night three: Recovery with moisturizerNight four: Recovery with moisturizerRepeat

It should be noted that these recommendations are for the nighttime. That’s because active skincare ingredients can make your skin more sensitive (to the sun or to pollution in the air, for example). During the daytime, make sure you apply your antioxidant serum and SPF to protect your skin from sun damage.

Benefits of Cycling for Skin what is skin cycling

Sounds simple, right? That’s the idea. Using actives sparingly and allowing your skin to take a break can help you in the long run. Plus, it protects you from any potential irritation or damage. Read on to learn more benefits of skin cycling.

It’s a Safe Way to Introduce Actives to the Skin

The world of skincare actives is exciting. These ingredients are targeted to treat a certain condition and work extremely well. However, since they’re generally quite strong, your skin may need some time to adjust. That’s where skin cycling comes in. “It’s a great way to introduce actives in the skin, especially if you are overwhelmed with what to use and how often to use it,” says Mamina Turegano, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, internist, dermatopathologist, and co-founder of Skintap.com based in New Orleans. “Retinols and chemical exfoliants are important active ingredients for skin health, including texture, even skin tone, and fine lines and wrinkles.”

It’s Beginner-Friendly

There’s no doubt about it: Skincare can be complicated. One of the benefits of this four-day cycle is that it works for anyone—regardless of your knowledge of skincare. “Starting with a skin cycling regimen is a good starting point for most people and prevents people from potentially over-exfoliating their skin,” Dr. Turegano says. Still, it’s important to be careful about what you’re using on your complexion. If you’re using a super-strong retinol or chemical exfoliant, (or if you just have sensitive skin), you’re still at risk of doing some damage to your complexion, Dr. Turegano says.

It Protects Your Skin Barrier

The biggest benefit of skin cycling? It protects your skin barrier—which is key for overall skin health. Exfoliating too often can compromise and even damage the skin barrier, leading to dehydration, redness, irritation, and acne. “Skin cycling prevents irritation and over-exfoliation, allowing you to be consistent with key active ingredients,” Dr. Garshick says. “By helping to support the skin barrier, skin cycling keeps the skin looking healthy and refreshed.”

Who Shouldn’t Try Skin Cycling

While skin cycling is touted as a great routine for anyone, there are people who may not benefit from the trend. “Many people, including those who deal with acne, may need to use a retinol or prescription retinoid more frequently to get the benefits,” Dr. Turegano says. 

Additionally, those with sensitive skin have to be mindful of the strength of their chemical exfoliant. “If the exfoliant is a higher strength, using it more than once a week may be too strong for them,” Dr. Turegano says.

In general, experts recommend going to a dermatologist to get a customized skincare routine based on your unique needs. While skin cycling appears to be trending, it’s actually quite common for dermatologists to create skincare regimens that involve using actives and taking breaks in between.

The Takeaway

Whether you’re new to the skincare scene or you’ve got a 12-step routine, it’s worth looking into skin cycling. It’s a tactical way to use active skincare ingredients without subjecting your skin to unnecessary irritation and distress. However, if you’re dealing with acne in particular, you’ll likely need to use retinol more often in order to see results.

Ultimately, skin cycling is a term to describe a safe, responsible skincare regimen. It may not work for everyone—which is why it’s best to see a dermatologist to get a routine tailored to your unique needs.

But if you’re looking for a way to refresh your skincare routine, it’s worth giving skin cycling a try. Sticking to a consistent regimen is the best way to get a glowing, clear complexion.

The post How to Do Skin Cycling, TikTok’s Dermatologist-Approved Skincare Trend appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Mara Santilli
The Best Foods to Eat on Your Period to Fight Cramps, Fatigue, and More

If you struggle with PMS, cramps, fatigue, or other period-related side effects, nutrition can help. Here’s what to eat on your period to help ease symptoms.

Let’s face it: periods suck. Not only can they be an inconvenience, but they can come with a host of bothersome PMS symptoms and make you feel generally crummy. Anything you can do to ease period discomfort is a welcome addition to your self-care routine, whether it’s reaching for a heating pad to ease cramps, taking a supplement to ease PMS symptoms, cycle syncing your exercise, or just curling up with a cup of tea. Chances are you’ve also indulged in some comfort food during your period. 

While food is often seen as an indulgence during your menstrual cycle or written off as just a period craving (we see you, mac and cheese!), the truth is that nutrition can be a helpful tool for feeling your best on your period.

Though the same hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are behind everyone’s menstrual cycle functioning, each person’s experience will be different, in that you might feel those cravings very strongly, or you may be super crampy and not feel like eating, or both. The common thread between all cycles is that menstrual nutrition is key: Having balanced meals of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates will keep you full, energized, and keep your hormones as balanced as possible so PMS can’t throw you as much for a loop, according to nutritionists. 

Read on to understand what to eat on your period (and when you should genuinely go for that chocolate) to optimize your hormones and ease symptoms. 

How Your Nutritional Needs Change During Your Period best foods for period

Eating a healthy, balanced diet throughout your entire cycle is important not just for your hormonal health, but your overall health. But you may feel like you need a boost during your period specifically because your estrogen levels drop. “Estrogen helps to regulate the immune system and the low levels produced during the time of menstruation can result in more inflammation, along with memory and mood issues,” explains Felice Gersh, MD, an OB-GYN and founder and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in California. When estrogen is low, the goal is to eat a highly anti-inflammatory diet packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to keep both your mood and your energy high, adds Dr. Gersh. 

In the phase right before your period (aka the luteal phase), your body is prepping for a potential pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining, and the hormone progesterone peaks (which may affect period food cravings before it drops again during menstruation). “Increased progesterone may increase insulin resistance, or glucose intolerance, making the body more likely to crave sugar and turn toward sources of higher calorie foods,” says Anisa Woodall, MS, CN, a certified nutritionist based in Washington. “This can happen because blood sugar levels are more unstable, due to progesterone, but also because of decreased mood from low estrogen, since estrogen supports serotonin, the ‘happy hormone,’ production.” Good news: an anti-inflammatory diet can also help balance your blood sugars. 

In general, the key to supporting hormone production is to get enough calories and the right blend of carbohydrates and healthy fats. The tactics below will help you get the right dietary balance you need for a healthy, happy flow. 

What to Eat on Your Period foods for period Eat the Rainbow

When you’re thinking about an anti-inflammatory diet, go for as many colorful antioxidant-filled foods as you can. A 2020 study found that eating those anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-filled foods can help with period pain. Woodall recommends focusing on whole-food carbohydrates with meals like a cup of seasonal fruits and healthy, anti-inflammatory fats like olives and avocados. Protein (from as many whole food sources as possible) is also key to balancing things out, Woodall adds. 

Load Up on Fiber-Filled Foods

When you’re on your period, the name of the game is fiber. “During your period, your energy is at its lowest, so you want to focus on nutrient-dense foods that are quick and easy to prepare, like smoothies, one-pot meals, and sheet pan dinners, so you can nourish yourself and not end up relying on takeout and convenience foods,” says Melissa Groves Azzaro, RDN, LD, founder of The Hormone Dietitian and host of Hormonally Yours with The Hormone Dietitian. Some of those nutrient-dense, energizing, high-fiber foods include oats, sweet potatoes, and avocados—Azzaro adds that the fiber intake can also help manage any digestive issues you have right now, including those dreaded period poops

Some other high-fiber foods you should aim for during your period include Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, quinoa, and brown rice, according to Chrissy Williams, MS, RD, LDN, a women’s health registered dietitian. 

Don’t Forget Carbs 

Complex carbs like fruits, veggies, and some of the high-fiber foods we just mentioned, are crucial for immediate energy and also liver detoxification (which helps break down estrogen), Williams says. 

Look for Lean Protein

Don’t forget to round out your meals with both lean protein like salmon, chicken, grass-fed beef, and beans to promote muscle mass and healthy fats to signal hormone production, Williams adds. That balance of hormones can help keep your PMS and period symptoms more mild. 

Eat More Iron-Rich Foods 

Your body loses iron through the blood loss you experience during your period, so you need additional iron during this time. If you eat meat, it’s not a bad idea to have some red meat like a steak or a burger when you have your period. Eggs are also high in iron, Azzaro says. Eating vegan? You can load up on plant-based sources of iron like lentils, along with foods high in B vitamins, like whole grains and leafy greens, to restart your energy levels that might dip with a loss in iron and blood, says Azzaro. HUM’s Base Control multi-vitamin also contains 100 percent of your daily value of iron to help you get your fix.

Make Sure You Have Magnesium in Your Diet

According to research published in 2020, either 150 milligrams or better yet 300 milligrams of magnesium could help reduce menstrual cramping and improve mood, including your ability to cope with depression. One of the culprits is prostaglandins, lipid compounds that cause inflammation, contributing to cramps and mood swings; magnesium can reduce prostaglandins and help you better manage your PMS symptoms. 

To get extra magnesium in your diet, Dr. Gersh suggests a magnesium glycinate supplement of about 500 milligrams daily, or if you want to go the dietary route, start eating pumpkin seeds and walnuts for significant amounts of magnesium. And good news if you crave chocolate during your period: “Dark chocolate, which is rich in magnesium, can also help boost mood and decrease cramping,” Azzaro says. There are about 64 milligrams of magnesium in one ounce of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, so it’s not a bad deal. 

Balance Your Blood Sugar

We’ve already established that the fluctuation in hormones could throw your blood sugar off. For the best hormonal balance and a smooth transition from PMS to your period, Williams recommends balancing your blood sugar on the daily, basically by building meals that are as healthy as possible, with components of high protein, high fiber, and healthy fats. You have to make sure you’re getting enough food in throughout the day, too. “This signals our body that it’s ‘safe’ to produce adequate hormones and our body can function optimally,” Williams says. And if you’re having severe PMS symptoms, it’s worth checking in with an OB-GYN as well as a dietitian to figure out the root cause, which could involve an issue with how your body processes hormones like estrogen. 

Cave to Your Cravings 

So yes, your unstable blood sugar and a dip in serotonin from low estrogen could add to those sugar cravings, but haven’t you noticed that you’re way hungrier right before and when you’re on your period? “During PMS, our body’s basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories we burn at rest) naturally increases, so it’s completely normal to feel more hungry during this time of your cycle and more importantly, it’s *okay* to honor those hunger cues and eat more,” Williams says. 

The trick is meeting your cravings where they are, while supporting balanced blood sugar as much as possible, according to Williams. Sweets like chocolate can actually boost your serotonin (which absolutely makes sense), she adds, so lean into that: Have some chocolate-dipped fruit, whip up some dark chocolate and oat energy bits, or snack on some dark chocolate almonds throughout your period.

The Best Foods to Eat on Your Period what to eat on period burger

With all that in mind, take this list of period-friendly foods with you next time you grocery shop before your period:

AvocadosBeansBerriesBroccoliBrown riceBrussels sproutsCarrotsChickenDark chocolate (at least 70 percent cocoa)Grass-fed beefLentilsOatsOlivesPumpkin seedsQuinoaSalmonSweet potatoesWalnuts 10_Best_Foods_For_Period_Infographic

The post The Best Foods to Eat on Your Period to Fight Cramps, Fatigue, and More appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Maddy Sims
6 Ways to Get a Flat Stomach (In a Safe & Healthy Way)

Wondering how to flatten your stomach? Experts share six ways you can tone up your tummy in a safe and healthy way.

Here’s the honest truth: I’ve never had a flat stomach. Not when I was competing in Division I college swimming, not when I went on an extreme diet in high school—not even when I was a 90-pound, pre-pubescent string bean. No matter what I did, I always seemed to have a little bump on my stomach (which I so lovingly referred to as my “pooch”). And while I can’t seem to get a flat tummy no matter what I do, my social media feed is filled with taut Pilates-toned abs in early-2000s low-slung jeans.

But I’m not alone. The more I speak to friends and family, I’ve realized many people share this struggle. The good news? Despite the vertical lines you see on social, it’s not in your head—it is quite difficult to achieve a flat stomach. It’s especially tricky for women, as our biological makeup works against the idea of having a flat stomach (more on that later). Other things like bloating, distension, genetics, food sensitivities or allergies, poor posture, and a lack of core strength can all make it difficult to flatten your stomach as well.

If you search “how to get a flat stomach,” most of the information encourages food restriction and overexercising. But these tactics are not only unsafe, they’re also ineffective. I spoke to experts to find out how to flatten your stomach in a healthy and safe way. (The answers surprised even me.) Here’s what they had to say.

Is It Possible to Get a Flat Stomach? flat stomach 3

For some people, it is possible to achieve a flat stomach, but for others, it may not be attainable in a healthy and safe way. Here are a few reasons a flat stomach might not be an achievable goal for all.

1. Women’s Biological Makeup

“There’s a small pad of fat that sits below the belly button and above the pelvic bowl,” explains Dr. Monica Grover, MD, double board-certified OB-GYN, and chief medical officer at VSPOT. “The fat is a protective layer for a woman’s reproductive organs such as her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.”

So if you’ve ever heard that women naturally carry a little more fat on their stomachs (or if you’ve ever personally struggled with the little pouch on your own body—you’re not alone), know that it’s there for a reason: to protect your vital organs. “This is why women may never have a flat stomach,” Dr. Grover says. “When losing weight, women also tend to lose their subcutaneous fat, which is just below the skin (versus men, who tend to lose their visceral fat, which is the layer of fat below their abdominal muscles).” Translation: Men typically lose fat around their tummies first, while women tend to lose it all over initially.

2. Hormones and Hormone Regulation

Hormonal factors play a big role in whether women will be able to achieve a flat stomach. Specifically, hormonal changes throughout life affect how women store fat. Dr. Grover lists menopause as an example. “After menopause, fat tissue produces estrogen, and estrogen causes fat storage—creating a vicious cycle,” she explains. (These strategies can help you manage menopause weight gain.)

3. Stress Levels

Research has confirmed that stress belly is real thing. It’s excess stomach fat that results from chronic stress. But how does it form exactly? When your body is under stress (or in fight-or-flight mode), cortisol is released. This hormone puts our bodies into survival mode, shutting down any functions that aren’t absolutely essential. As a result, your metabolism slows and your body is instructed to store fat.

Stress also blocks ovulation in women. “When women stop ovulating, they don’t make progesterone—and progesterone helps burn fat for energy,” Dr. Grover explains.

4. Hypothyroidism

If you’re noticing that it’s challenging to lose weight (or if you’ve noticed rapid weight gain for seemingly no reason), you might be dealing with thyroid disease. This can also make your quest for a flat stomach more difficult. “Thyroid diseases can slow down metabolism, predisposing people to accumulate more fat,” Dr. Grover explains. If you’re worried you have a thyroid disorder, consult a doctor and ask for bloodwork to check your levels. With some medication, you can stabilize your thyroid and get back to your fitness journey.

5. Diastasis Recti

If you’ve recently been pregnant or given birth, a flat stomach might be more difficult to achieve due to diastasis recti. This occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles separate during pregnancy due to being stretched. “The separation can make a person’s belly stick out or bulge months or years postpartum,” Dr. Grover explains. However, you can address this problem by performing pelvic floor exercises or by using an Emsculpt machine (which is available at VSPOT).

How to Flatten Your Stomach, According to Experts flat stomach

If you fall into the group of people that may have an easier time getting a flat stomach in a safe way (read: not overexercising and undereating) there are a few things that come together to make the taut tummy you’re searching for. Wondering what the best flat stomach diet and flat stomach exercises are? Experts share their six best tips, below.

1. Go For a Walk

Thanks to TikTok, workouts like Hot Girl Walks and the viral 12-3-30 treadmill challenge have soared in popularity. And it turns out, walking is one of the best flat stomach exercises you can do, according to scientific research. The study assessed the impacts of walking 50 to 70 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks for obese women. The participants who were assigned to the walking group showed a significant decrease in both subcutaneous and visceral body fat when compared to the control group (who maintained their sedentary lifestyle). 

But why is walking so effective? Because it’s a low-intensity steady state (LISS) exercise. “Low-intensity means it will elevate your heart rate and keep it elevated and steady as opposed to spiking it close to your maximum heart rate like high-intensity does,” explains Danielle Gray, NASM-certified personal trainer and founder of Train Like A Gymnast. “Steady-state [exercise] helps to burn fat because it is also more aerobic and uses fat as the primary source of energy as opposed to using carbohydrates for energy.”

Another reason walking is such a great option for a flat tummy? It’s so accessible: Beginners and fitness gurus alike can do it, you can do it anywhere, and it requires minimal equipment. It’s also gentle on your joints, decreasing the risk of any injuries. Plus, it’s a fun way to get movement in, which can help you stick with it in the long term. “Though you cannot spot reduce fat, your body with gradually lose fat all over until your stomach eventually flattens.”

2. Eat Enough Food

We know—this sounds confusing, but stay with us. If you’re trying to flatten your stomach, your first instinct might be to restrict your food intake. And while it’s true that you need to be in a slight calorie deficit (meaning you’re eating less calories than you’re burning) to lose body fat, eating too little can actually push you further away from your fitness goals. “Eating too little can slow down your metabolism because your body will think that it needs to conserve energy from food as much as possible,” says Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, HUM’s educational specialist

Another mind-blowing reason restricting food can make your tummy appear less flat?  “Eating too little can cause your stomach to create gasses, which leads to bloat,” says Vaca-Flores. When your stomach is empty, it’s searching for something to digest. But since there’s nothing in your stomach, it creates gas instead.

And finally, eating too little during the day can result in overeating later on, says Vaca-Flores. Why does this matter? Overeating can cause bloating because your body is trying to digest the large volume of food all at once.

“To make sure you are eating enough, avoid skipping meals and ensure you are building balanced plates whenever possible.” Not sure where to start? We have a great portion guide here. But the best course of action is to consult a dietitian to figure out what the optimal amount of food is for your goals and needs.

3. Stay Hydrated

Research has shown that drinking enough water can help improve cognitive function and health, improve physical performance and health, increase energy levels, and improve overall mood. But did you know that drinking enough water can also help promote a flatter stomach? It may seem counterintuitive (since you likely feel a little bloated after drinking a bunch of water). But it really works: “Drinking water can help with water retention—a common cause for bloating—by eliminating excess fluids,” says Vaca-Flores. “Additionally, staying hydrated can help with gut transit, which helps keep your digestive system running smoothly.”

Before you start chugging gallons of water, keep in mind that you don’t need to overdo it. The amount of water someone needs varies, but Vaca-Flores says most people should aim to drink between two to three liters of water daily (which equals eight to 12 cups of water). Try to space your water intake throughout the day so your body has time to absorb it properly. Need some motivation to stay hydrated? Treat yourself to a fun water bottle or get creative with drinks (agua fresca is a delicious, hydrating option). If you’re concerned about bloating, we’d recommend staying away from sparkling water (while it’s hydrating, the bubbles can cause bloating).

4. Fill Up on Fiber

According to a 2021 study, nearly 93 percent of Americans aren’t eating enough fiber. Why is this important? Fiber helps detox your body by aiding in the removal of waste. It does this by increasing the weight and size of your stool to help keep things regular. Not only is this beneficial for overall health (research has shown that a diet high in fiber can help decrease the risk of colon cancer), but it’s also helpful for those seeking a flat stomach.

“When we don’t eat enough fiber, it can cause constipation—and constipation can make our stomachs look distended,” says Vaca-Flores. “As such, eating fiber can help promote regularity and the appearance of a flatter-looking stomach.”

So, how much fiber should you be eating then? “There’s no hard and fast number,” Vaca-Flores says. The recommended fiber intake is 25 grams daily for women and 38 grams daily for men. However, as with most foods, you can have too much of a good thing. Eating too much fiber can cause you to feel bloated, as your body might struggle to digest it all. “We can infer that eating more than the recommended daily intake of fiber can possibly be too much.” Aim for the daily recommended amount and pay attention to how your body responds.

5. Keep Your Diet Diverse

If your plan is to stick to a strict meal plan and eat the same thing every day, you may struggle to achieve a flat tummy. That’s because eating a diverse range of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is essential for good gut health (which lends itself to less bloating and a flatter stomach). 

Different foods provide different benefits for your gut flora (the bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal system). “For instance, some foods provide good bacteria (probiotics), while others provide fibers that can help those probiotics thrive in the gut,” Vaca-Flores says. “Keeping your gut health in check is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy digestive system—which of course, can help ease bloating.”

Wondering which foods you should focus on to get the best benefits? “There are no specific nutrients to look out for,” Vaca-Flores says. “They’re all important, which is why eating a wide variety of foods is key.”

6. Give Your Gut a Boost

As Vaca-Flores mentioned, you can do everything right and still deal with bloating. Give your system a boost by adding supplements into your routine. A probiotic (like HUM’s Gut Instinct) can help encourage good bacteria growth within the gut to help with better digestion, less bloating, and a balanced gut microbiome. Or, if you’re dealing with bloating issues specifically after eating, a digestive enzyme (like HUM’s Flatter Me) can break down food for better digestion and decreased bloating.

Is It Healthy to Have a Flat Stomach? is it healthy to have a flat stomach 2

The shape of our stomachs also doesn’t always paint the full picture of our health. “Since women’s bodies are designed to store fat around their stomachs to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth, a flat stomach is not indicative of their overall health,” Dr. Grover says. “Every person’s level of health is different, and fat on their stomach is not a tall-tale sign if they are healthy or not.”

Also, how you get there makes a difference. For example, if someone is undereating in order to achieve a flat stomach, they might be dealing with health risks including disordered eating, anemia, infertility, bone density loss, increased cardiovascular disease risk, and decreased cognitive function, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Everyone’s body is different. “You can eat all the ‘right’ foods and still experience some degree of bloating after eating,” Vaca-Flores says. If this is you, remember that you’re not alone—everyone can experience bloating at some point.

The Takeaway flat tummy 2

Keep in mind that how and where you store fat does have a genetic component. Of course, you can use nutrition and exercise to change your body composition to a certain degree. But there are certain things to be aware of. Some people’s bodies store fat along their stomachs while others may find it accumulating on their hips and thighs. As mentioned earlier, women also have the added challenge of naturally having an extra layer of fat on their tummies to protect their vital organs.

Remember to be kind to yourself. A flat stomach isn’t the ultimate mark of health and wellness, so remember to eat a balanced diet, move your body regularly, drink water, and get enough sleep. Your body (especially your tummy) will thank you.

The post 6 Ways to Get a Flat Stomach (In a Safe & Healthy Way) appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Michele Ross
The Best Productivity Framework for You, Based on Your Astrological Sign

Want to learn how to be more productive but not sure where to start? Look to the stars. Astrology can offer a guiding light when it comes to choosing a productivity framework and finding productivity hacks that work for your personality.

Maybe you’re coming out of a slump and want to kick it back into high gear, maybe it’s the back-to-school vibes or Virgo season in the air. Or maybe you’re just beginning a new season in your life and want to boost your productivity.  If you’re ready to get your proverbial ducks in order to set yourself up for success, there are dozens of organizational frameworks to help you improve in all things productivity and organization.

But not all productivity methods work for everyone, which is why it’s beneficial to tailor your hustle and (work)flow to your personal preferences—and sometimes, even the zodiac. Below, check out our picks for the best productivity framework based on your astrological sign. As always, read up on the insights for your sun *and* rising signs to see which selection sparks your interest the most. Here’s how to be more productive, according to your astrological sign.

Aries: Monotasking be more productive

Those born under the first sign of the zodiac tend to bring their signature fiery energy to all that they do, though it can be challenging to maintain focus and stamina without burning out or getting agitated. For these reasons, monotasking can serve to their benefit despite their innate tendency to do everything all at once… and at a rapid pace, at that. Monotasking involves clearing your workspace of all distractions (think phone alerts, lots of open tabs, etc.), choosing one task to focus on, and setting a timer to make progress on it before treating yourself to a break. Once they get the hang of it, Rams may find that they’re not only more productive, organized, and energized, but also less stressed.

Taurus: Tasks Before Treats how to be more productive treats

Bulls are amongst the most pleasure-seeking signs of the zodiac. With that said, if there’s something they’d rather not get done because it’s tedious or otherwise unpalatable, they can be prone to procrastination or outright avoidance. To put more pep in your step, make a list of the tasks you absolutely need to get done, then designate a treat you’ll enjoy by completing them. Maybe you’ve been putting off writing briefs for your co-workers to review or are used to delaying meetings that aren’t time-sensitive. Once you complete these to-dos, you’ll not only clear up more space on your calendar (and avoid the dread you may feel each morning by putting these tasks off) but also “earn” the treat of your choice, whether that’s a decadent dessert, glass of vino, luxurious bubble bath later in the day, or a new book purchase.

Gemini: The Pomodoro Method how to be more productive coffee

Geminis are prone to getting excited about *all* the things, and their main focus can change at any given moment. While this quality is great for curiosity’s sake, it’s not so stellar from a productivity standpoint. Perhaps you have so many leads and ideas to explore that you’re not sure where to begin, or maybe you spend as much time thinking about getting things done as you do actually, you know, get things done. To minimize distractions and promote greater focus, Gems may find their best flow with the Pomodoro Method. It involves choosing one task and breaking ground on that (and that only) for 25 minutes. Once your timer goes off, enjoy a five-minute break to let your mind roam free, then repeat the process throughout the day. Since variety is the spice of a Gemini’s life, these short intervals permit you to shake up your to-dos without feeling restrained or flat-out bored.

Cancer: Take Self-Care Breaks how to be more productive journal

Are you a Cancer wondering how to be more productive? Cancers are known to take care of others before they take care of themselves, which can inevitably lead to trouble in their personal and professional lives. As reluctant as they may be to do so, it’s essential that they dedicate some alone time to nurture themselves, too. To get the ball rolling, consider taking a few built-in self-care breaks throughout the work day. This could include starting your morning with a short guided meditation, taking a walk during your lunch break, or stretching it out for a few minutes in between meetings. The more Crabs care for themselves, the better they can look after their friends, family, and colleagues—and the more harmonious and balanced they’ll feel both on and off the clock.

Leo: Celebration and Self-Hype how to be more productive self hype

“I’ll pass on that ego boost” … said no Leo ever. Since Lions feel and function their best with some healthy praise, they can stay on their A-game by keeping visual representations of their achievements and strengths front and center. Perhaps you won an award or two, got a glowing review, or received a kind note from a co-worker or client that expressed just how much you’ve earned the title of queen or king of the jungle that is your job. Put these markers of success in plain view on your wall or desk, which can work wonders to remind yourself how you’ve slayed in the past and can surely keep on killing it. Jotting down some motivational, self-affirming notes in your journal or planner can’t hurt Lions either. Think: I will achieve ABC goal because of my undeniable ability to XYZ. (Check out our guide to using and creating your own positive affirmations.)

Virgo: Time Blocking how to be more productive camera

As we hinted at earlier, Virgos are practical, dedicated, and innately more organized than most other signs. As a result, it shouldn’t be too challenging for them to stay focused and productive—but it’s in their nature to keep on striving for perfection regardless. (Not to mention that neatness and proper planning provide them with an exorbitant amount of calmness and delight.) With these points in mind, Virgos will likely enjoy time blocking to map out both their personal and professional routines. It entails mapping out all of your to-dos, along with how long each will take; from there, build your schedule accordingly. For instance, you might block off 15 minutes each morning and after lunch to catch up on emails, make time for a 30-minute sweat sesh on alternating days, or dedicate one afternoon a week for self-development. This productivity framework is both structured (a definite perk for Virgos) and flexible based on your personal needs, which can vary from one day or week to the next.

Libra: Enlist an Accountability Partner how to be more productive accountability partner

Libras are the quintessential BFFs of the zodiac. Simply put, they’re always in demand for a quick catch-up, social outing, or more serious heart-to-heart. Since they’re so used to—and generally wonderful at—connecting with others, Libras can use this to their advantage by joining forces with a friend or group for an accountability partnership. On a regular (perhaps weekly) basis, schedule a call, video chat, or IRL sesh to map out and discuss your to-dos. By the next session, you’ll review the progress you made, talk about what worked and what didn’t, and bounce off ideas to make the next week more productive—all the while staying on top of your tasks and maintaining your trademark sociability.

Scorpio: Eat the Frog Method how to be more productive eat the frog

Plant-based Scorps, stay with me here. This method simply involves identifying the most challenging task on your list—or the one you don’t necessarily want to do, but must—and then making that the first thing you do in the morning. While this productivity framework is often recommended for serial procrastinators, it’s also great for more strong-willed, determined folks like Scoprios since they thrive on intensity and a sense of accomplishment. Scorpios will love the thrill of conquering a difficult to-do, which can satisfy their competitive nature (yes, even within themselves) and boost their confidence and mood for the rest of the day.

Sagittarius: Must, Should, Want Method productivity hacks

Sags are known to be intellectually curious adventurers in mind and spirit. However, these qualities can make Archers muss and fuss when it’s time to concentrate and get down to business. After all, there’s a wonderful world out there just begging to be explored… which sounds a lot more fun than sitting still and tackling tedious tasks. If this sounds familiar, try out the straightforward Must, Should, Want Method. All you’ll need to do is write out what you must get done (time-sensitive tasks and other obligations), what you should get done (action items that have a bit more flexibility but can assist your longer-term goals and duties), and what you want to get done (i.e., all the more exciting things you wish to explore and enjoy). Work your way from the top down, keeping your “wants” in plain view to motivate you to stay the course.

Capricorn: Objectives and Key Results (OKR) Method how to be more productive glasses

Capricorns don’t often require a ton of help getting their ish together at work, as their trademark discipline and focus inevitably serve them well on the job. With that said, productivity frameworks that allow them to tap into their regimented, goal-setting nature can set them up for even greater success. The OKR Method is great for Caps since it allows them to hone in on a specific objective (say, a promotion within six months) and then outline the key results that will help them achieve it (i.e., reaching or exceeding a specific set of KPIs). This productivity method requires commitment, consistency, and a clear action plan—all of which should be easy peasy for this industrious earth sign.

Aquarius: Take Advantage of Technology how to be more productive computer

Since Aquarians are the technological innovators of the zodiac, their best productivity framework will involve the latest tools, gadgets, and apps to supercharge their progress. For starters, it goes without saying that they’ll need to have their computer souped up with the latest OS updates and software. From there, project management tools can help keep their projects on track, whether for their own use or to collaborate with others. Yet just as tech can promote productivity, it can also hinder it—so be mindful of distractions like unnecessary push notifications, sound alerts, email clutter, and the like. Reconfigure these settings so you can keep your eyes on the prize of enhanced focus and productivity.

Pisces: Weekly Reviews how to be more productive list

Since those born under the sign of Pisces are among the most reflective people of the zodiac, their innate thoughtfulness can be put to good use on the productivity front. Before the start of each week, think back to the past seven days. Perhaps you’ll recall that blocking all of your meetings in the mornings or on a certain day allowed you to have more personal time later on to blaze through your tasks without interruptions. Otherwise, you may find that putting off a major project led to restless nights, which in turn impeded your ability to work and feel your best. Take note of the habits, behaviors, and actions that helped or hindered your workflow, then stick to or adjust them accordingly for the week ahead. In due time, you’ll find yourself swimming harmoniously with (rather than against) the tide.

The post The Best Productivity Framework for You, Based on Your Astrological Sign appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Maddy Sims
Is The Sugar from Fruit Bad for You?

You’ve heard that sugar is bad for you—but is fruit sugar bad for you? We dive into the research on this popular health question and tap experts to get their take.

Sugar is no stranger to nutrition headlines. Over the past 10+ years, it’s been called out for being as addictive as cocaine and excess consumption has been associated with everything from type 2 diabetes to high cholesterol to full-blown cardiovascular disease. This is why you—and many of your health-conscious friends—probably do your best to limit added sugars from sources like sodas, candy, and other highly processed foods. 

But what about the naturally-occurring sugar from fruit? Is that bad for you, too? If you follow any wellness influencers on social media, you’ve probably witnessed strategic hacks like swapping out the banana in a smoothie for frozen cauliflower to lower its sugar content or only eating “low sugar” fruits. But how necessary is this? And could hyper-focusing on avoiding sugar from fruit be narrowing your nutrient intake? 

Below, we dive into the research on fruit sugar and offer guidance from actual nutrition pros on whether limiting fruit to lower your sugar intake is really a good idea. 

Added Sugars vs. the Sugar in Fruit: What’s the Difference?

Simply looking at how much sugar a food contains isn’t necessarily an indicator of how healthy or unhealthy it is. What you really need to be mindful of are those sneaky added sugars. 

Added sugars are the ones manufacturers add to food products such as sodas, cereals, flavored yogurts, and desserts to boost flavor or extend shelf life. The caloric sweeteners you add to your coffee and oatmeal also count as added sugars. These added sugars come in many forms—from evaporated cane juice to high-fructose corn syrup to honey to coconut sugar—and research clearly demonstrates they’re associated with a slew of problems, including high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s why the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 suggest limiting added sugars to less than 10 percent of your total calories per day. The American Heart Association suggests an even stricter limit of less than six percent of your total calories. That works out to less than 24 grams of added sugar per day for most women and less than 36 grams per day for most men.

The sugar naturally present in fruit, certain veggies, and other whole foods, however, is considered naturally occurring sugar, and there are no official guidelines on limiting this—most likely because fruit and veggie consumption is almost always associated with health benefits, not risks. For example, a 2017 research review found that fruit and vegetable intake was associated with reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and death; and other research suggests that fruit consumption may have an anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effect. 

It may seem contradictory that a sugar-containing food group like fruit could offer these impressive health benefits, but there are several potential reasons—namely, the way sugar is packaged within fruit and the presence of additional nutrients. “Fruit contains moderate amounts of naturally-occurring sugars, which are bound up in fibrous cell walls that take more time to digest and absorb than the added sugars found in hyper-processed foods,” says Desiree Nielsen, RD, author of Eat More Plants and Good for Your Gut. “Additionally, they are packed with vitamins and phytochemicals that help support cellular metabolism and protect against everyday oxidative damage that can lead to chronic inflammation.” 

Let’s look at a couple of examples: “A half cup of blueberries has less than eight grams of naturally-occurring sugars and an abundance of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals,” says Nielsen. “A medium banana—which people shun as being ‘high in sugar’—only contains 12 grams of naturally-occurring sugars while also containing prebiotic fibers that feed the gut microbiome, over 400 mg of potassium for the heart, trace amounts of minerals like zinc, and even some folate for the nervous system.” 

The sugar in sweetened processed foods, on the other hand, is often found in much higher quantities without the presence of natural fibers or other nutrients, so it’s more likely to be rapidly metabolized, spike blood sugar, and contribute to a variety of health consequences over the long term. 

That said, context and portion size matter, and too much of a good thing is still possible with fruit—particularly if you have a condition where you need to monitor blood sugar, according to Jess Cording, RD, dietitian, health coach, and author of The Little Book of Gamechangers.)

What Types of Sugar are In Fruit? fruit sugar

Most whole fruits contain varying proportions of the sugars glucose, fructose, and sucrose (sucrose is later broken down into equal parts glucose and fructose in the body). The exact percentages depend on the fruit—and while many people assume fruit contains mostly fructose, that’s not always the case. A medium peach, for example, contains 2.9 g glucose, 2.3 g fructose, and 7.1 g sucrose. (For context: Table sugar is 100% sucrose, making it 50% glucose and 50% fructose; and most high-fructose corn syrup is 45% glucose and 55% fructose.) 

Glucose and fructose are metabolized differently in the body—so when someone eats a piece of fruit, a couple of things are going on. The glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream (via the small intestine) and then taken up into muscle, liver, and fat cells in response to the secretion of insulin from the pancreas. This results in a rise and subsequent fall in blood glucose levels. The fructose, on the other hand, is metabolized directly by the liver, so it has minimal effect on insulin and blood glucose—but in excessive quantities (more than you’d get from fruit), fructose can overburden the liver and lead to metabolic consequences. 

What Does Science Say About Fruit Sugar, Specifically Fructose?

The people who recommend scaling back on fruit often cite its high concentration of fructose as the main concern—but science doesn’t exactly support this criticism. While it’s true that high fructose intake from added sugars has been shown to increase risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome due to the way it’s metabolized (e.g. it increases lipogenesis, or the conversion of fructose to fat in the liver), the same has not been shown for fructose intake from whole fruit. According to our experts, reasonable fruit consumption doesn’t provide nearly enough fructose to have the same negative effects as added sugars.

“Fructose has been the subject of a lot of study, both because it is metabolized in the liver and because our intake of high-fructose corn syrup has risen dramatically in the last 30 years,” says Nielsen. “There is evidence that a high-sugar, and therefore a high-fructose, diet can promote non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as well as cardiovascular disease. Which is why [various organizations] recommend decreasing the amount of added sugars we consume.”

However, Nielsen explains, some people misinterpret this to mean that any fructose is harmful, which just isn’t the case. “Any potential negative effects are going to be dose-dependent and diet context-dependent, and I am certainly not worried about people eating a couple of pieces of fruit a day,” says Nielsen. “Of the 12 grams of natural sugars found in a banana, fructose accounts for less than six grams. But a can of cola? That has 22 grams of added fructose.”

Remember how we said that the naturally-occurring sugar in whole fruit is packaged in a healthy matrix along with fiber and other nutrients? This means that even if a piece of fruit contains the same quantity and breakdown of specific sugars, including fructose, as a dessert or sweetened beverage, it still won’t be metabolized as rapidly or have the same negative impact on the body. Further illustrating this point: A 2020 meta-analysis found no significant association between fruit intake and the likelihood of NAFLD across a total of eight studies; whereas soft drink consumption was associated with an increased risk of NAFLD.  

“I’d put more of an emphasis on limiting processed foods and beverages that contain high amounts of fructose than on demonizing fruit, as fruit provides many other health benefits that processed foods do not,” says Cording.

So, Is Fruit Sugar Bad for You? is fruit sugar bad

In reasonable quantities, no, fruit sugar isn’t bad for you. “Barring any allergies or diagnosed intolerances, like fructose intolerance, there are zero negative health effects from eating fruit in the context of a healthy and varied diet,” says Nielsen. “For all of the documented benefits of eating fruits and vegetables—from improved mental health to better digestive function to lower risk of cardiovascular disease—I am generally more concerned with people not eating enough fruit.”

What does reasonable fruit consumption look like, though? There are no set-in-stone rules, but for healthy individuals, Nielsen suggests anywhere from two to four servings of fruit per day, while Cording says her patients tend to do well eating one to three servings per day. And when you use fruit to replace a processed, sugary treat, that’s even better!

All fruits are nutritious, whether we’re talking tropical fruits like mangos and bananas or temperate fruits like apples and berries, says Nielsen. But it’s true that some people who struggle with blood sugar regulation may need to be more mindful about the way they consume fruit. (Notice, we didn’t say they need to eliminate fruit altogether.)  

If you have diabetes, if you’re pregnant (which can make your cell’s more resistant to insulin and prime you for gestational diabetes), or if you notice that your anxiety flares up or you feel exhausted after you consume fruit, there are simple things you can do to balance your blood sugar levels. “First, eat temperate fruits most often, like apples, pears, and berries, which tend to have a lower glycemic impact than tropical fruit,” advises Nielsen. “Eating fruit after a balanced meal containing protein, fat, and fiber—or snacking on fruit paired with a protein and fat like almonds—may also help keep blood sugar in check. Protein, fat, and fiber all help slow the rate at which nutrients and sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream to support more balance.”

Keep in mind: When whole fruits are processed into another form (e.g. dried fruit or fruit juice), this often concentrates their sugars and increases the rate at which they’re absorbed into the bloodstream—making you more likely to consume too much sugar and experience spikes and dips in blood sugar. Your best bet? Eat fresh or frozen fruits in their whole form, or blend them into smoothies, which, unlike juice, preserves their blood sugar-buffering fiber. 

The post Is The Sugar from Fruit Bad for You? appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- Maddy Sims
Want to Be More Productive? Try a Sunday Reset

Dealing with the Sunday scaries? Doing a Sunday reset can help by setting you up for a productive week ahead. Below, experts explain why doing a Sunday reset can boost your productivity throughout the week.

Let’s face it: The workweek is long and often draining, so anything you can do to get a leg up on the week gets our stamp of approval. Enter: The Sunday reset.

Sunday reset has nearly 579 million views on TikTok and involves taking care of all those pesky household chores (think: cooking and cleaning) so you don’t have to worry about them throughout the week. Not only is it majorly satisfying to watch (seriously, we’ve been scrolling through these videos for days), but it’s also beneficial IRL. Experts break down everything you need to know about the Sunday reset trend and explain why it can lead to a more productive week.

What Is a Sunday Reset? sunday reset laundry

A Sunday reset involves taking time on a Sunday to complete different household chores such as laundry, cleaning, and cooking. The idea is to take care of these tasks when you have the time instead of stressing about them during the workweek.

The concept of doing chores on a Sunday (or on your off days) isn’t particularly groundbreaking. However, the idea that doing so can set yourself up for a more productive workweek is true, according to experts.

It should be noted that not everyone has the same working schedule—meaning you don’t have to do these tasks on Sunday to reap the benefits. You can take care of these chores any day of the week. And, if you don’t have enough time to do all of these tasks while you’re off, doing just one or two can still help.

Sunday Reset Routine sunday reset

While there are no official rules for a Sunday reset, based on TikToks, there are a few tasks you should aim to cross off your list. These include:

Grocery shoppingLaundryMeal preppingCleaningUnwinding

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Isn’t that just life?” the key here is the intentionality you put behind getting these things done and out of the way to make future you a little bit less stressed.

Depending on your lifestyle and what you need to feel ready to take on a week, your Sunday reset may be different. Some other ideas you may incorporate are:

Planning your weekly workoutsPlanning your kids’ lunchesCalling a friend or family memberGoing through emails

While we’re huge proponents of Doing It All, the truth is that’s not a very sustainable approach to life, so don’t skip the “unwind” step. Not only is rest and relaxation important in your weekend, it’s also necessary: Research shows that we need rest (seven different kinds of rest, in fact) in order to truly feel recharged.

Benefits of Doing a Sunday Reset sunday reset cleaning

So, why should you add a Sunday reset into your weekly schedule? Here are six reasons, according to experts.

1. It Will Increase Productivity Throughout the Week

By completing a Sunday reset, you’re essentially eliminating potential stress throughout the week—which can increase productivity. In fact, one study found that higher stress levels were directly linked to lower productivity levels. “It clears your mind to do the other things that you need to do, as you aren’t thinking about the responsibilities that you managed on Sunday,” explains Nancy Mramor, PhD, a licensed clinical, media, and health psychologist. “You are more effective when you have a clear head for your days.”

For example, having fresh laundry allows for advanced outfit planning, giving you more time in the mornings. Plus, having a clean space impacts productivity levels. “A clean, organized house is appealing visually and creates a sense of calm rather than a sense of chaos that comes from clutter,” Dr. Mramor says. “You are always more productive when calm.”

It’s true: Research shows that our work environments directly impact our productivity. So, try and tidy up your workspace during your Sunday reset (and the rest of your space too—you’ll feel calmer almost instantly).

2. You Can Focus on What Really Matters

Another pro of the Sunday reset? “You can soar more effectively through your days and have more time every day for things that matter such as health and personal goals,” Dr. Mramor says.

That’s because your mind won’t be racing thinking about all the chores you still have to do during the week. This provides a special opportunity, Dr. Mramor says. “You can be more present at work and with your family, enhancing relationships when you are available for them, as opposed to being caught up in responsibilities.”

3. It Can Help You Overcome Procrastination

It’s easy to procrastinate on these kinds of tasks because, TBH, they’re not the most fun. But procrastination isn’t a sign of laziness; it’s actually much deeper than that. “Procrastination is a stress response and also a form of avoidance,” Dr. Mramor explains. “There may be a fear of failure or a fear of success that a person is avoiding or it may be as simple as fatigue.” By adding this into your weekend routine, you’re confronting this stress response and perhaps even eliminating it (which can lower your overall stress—another win for productivity levels).

4. It Can Improve Your Sleep

You already know how important sleep is for productivity: One study from SLEEP found that just getting five to six hours of sleep led to a 19 percent decrease in productivity. Those who got five hours of sleep suffered a 29 percent decrease in productivity. But here’s the good news: Doing a Sunday reset can actually help you get more sleep (which can improve your productivity greatly). “One of the main benefits of the Sunday reset is that sleep is easier and deeper when your mind isn’t racing with all of the responsibilities of home.”

5. It Can Help You Eat Healthier

We know how tempting it is to order out on super busy days. But if you’re trying to eat healthier, eating at home is usually the best option. Prepping your food ahead of time is one way to help yourself avoid the take-out trap. Plus, it can save you time and energy since you don’t need to spend time cooking every day. “Half the battle is thinking about what to eat, so I find it super helpful to already have my menu planned out,” says Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, HUM Nutrition’s education specialist. 

“For a busy week, I buy staple items that require minimal prep. Think: Tortillas that I can use to quickly put together a wrap or burrito, frozen berries that can be whipped up into a smoothie bowl, or premade salad mix and croutons that can easily be tossed with chicken that was prepped earlier in the week,” she says. “On busy days, I reach for frozen vegan nuggets or pizza made with chickpea flour.”

6. You Can Tailor It to Your Life

One of the best parts about the Sunday reset is that there’s no one correct way to do it. You can adapt the trend to best suit your needs—whether that means doing the chores on a different day, splitting them up among several days, or doing them during the week to take small breaks from your work. Do whatever works best for you, and enjoy the extra stress-free time you have during the busier days.

The post Want to Be More Productive? Try a Sunday Reset appeared first on HUM Nutrition Blog.

- John Davis

A colon cleanse is a short-term supplementation protocol that is designed to improve your gut health in three steps.

First, a colon cleanse flushes out your colon with laxatives and fiber; second, herbal extracts like aloe vera are used to soothe and protect the lining of your colon, and third, probiotic bacteria and prebiotic nutrients are introduced to rebuild a healthy guy bacteria population for long-term gastrointestinal (GI) tract health.

Colon cleanses are a more specialized type of supplement than a simple fiber or psyllium husk mix for regular bowel movements, but when used correctly, many people report that a colon cleanse is helpful for clearing out cramps, bloating, and other GI tract issues.

Here are the key benefits of using a colon cleanse supplement, plus some side effects to watch out for.

Benefits 1. A colon cleanse may help increase the health of your GI tract

A colon cleanse, when done with a natural supplement, involves a dose of an herbal extract with laxative abilities, plus typically other ingredients to soothe the inside of the colon, increase the frequency and quantity of your bowel movements, and repopulate your gastrointestinal tract with healthy probiotic bacteria.

Broadly, the goal is to flush out your system, then renew it with healthy bacteria. Colon cleanses are popular among people with constipation, poor diets, or gastrointestinal problems.

Research on their efficacy is limited, but there may be benefits associated with the specific goals of a colon cleanse; namely, increasing your bowel movement frequency, flushing out your system with more fiber, and repopulating your gut with healthy bacteria.

2. Supplemental colon cleanses appear to be safer than mechanical colon irrigation

The first benefit of a supplement based colon cleanse is simply that it is safer than mechanical colon cleanses. Several medical case reports caution against using mechanical colon cleanses, which involve enemas of herbal solutions to irrigate the colon.

A report by Dr. Ranit Mishouri and other medical doctors at the Georgetown University School of Medicine presented several cases of patients who had serious adverse health effects from mechanical colon cleansing (1).

In these cases, the injection of large volumes of herbal solutions into the colon via an enema bag upset the body’s natural balance and caused issues ranging from diarrhea to cramping and nausea.

Dr. Ruben Acosta and Dr. Brook Cash also caution against the use of mechanical colon cleansing in a 2009 review article in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. The benefits are minimal, and risks have been identified (2).

In contrast, using a supplement-based colon cleanse with natural remedies from herbal extracts may present a safer alternative. These don’t involve injecting large volumes of solution into the colon, and thus pose less of a health risk.

3. One key ingredient in any colon cleanse is a laxative

Ideally, this would come from an herbal or natural source, like senna leaf. Constipation is not just uncomfortable; it’s decidedly unhealthy.

A major epidemiological study published in 2003 examined constipation and laxative use in a large population in North Carolina (3).

In this study, “constipation” was defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week. Among people with constipation, there was a substantial increase in risk for colon cancer. Crucially, this risk dropped among the people who used laxatives to treat their constipation.

This lends credence to the theory that toxic waste products sitting around in your colon are actively harmful. This doesn’t necessarily mean they accumulate over time in healthy individuals, but it does mean that stuff your body wants to get out–solid waste in your colon–should not be sitting around for days at a time.

4. A colon cleanse with aloe vera can soothe the lining of your colon.

Other colon cleanse ingredients have the potential to soothe the lining of the inside of your colon. Aloe vera gel is one good example.

Research published in 2004 found that aloe vera gel acts as an anti-inflammatory in the kinds of cells that line the colon (4).

Additionally, a review published in 1999 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology by T. Reynolds and A.C. Dweck even hypothesizes that the external healing properties of aloe vera gel (as used to treat sunburn, for example) may apply to internal use as well (5).

If this is true, aloe vera gel may be able to not just soothe the colon, but heal it too.

5. Fiber in a colon cleanse can improve your gut bacterial profile.

Fiber content is also helpful in a colon cleanse, because it’s well-known that increased fiber content in your diet helps improve gastrointestinal health.

According to Joanne Slavin at the University of Minnesota, fiber can also help probiotic bacteria grow and flourish (6).

6. Adding probiotic bacteria to your gut after a cleanse can kick-start a healthy GI tract

This brings us to the final point where a colon cleanse can help your gastrointestinal health, which is the reintroduction of probiotic bacteria.

These are the “good bacteria” that help your body digest food and regulate the health of your gastrointestinal system.

Probiotics are a front of active research, and we still don’t fully understand their potential, but one thing we do know is that supplementing with certain strains, like lactobacillus acidophilus, can treat gastrointestinal problems.

A review article published in the International Journal of Antimicrobacterial Agents described how probiotic supplements are known to treat gastrointestinal problems associated with contaminated water (traveler’s diarrhea) and antibiotic treatments, which wipe out the good bacteria in your body (7).

The specific effects of a colon cleanse that include probiotics hasn’t been studied yet, but from what we know so far, it seems reasonable to assume that it would add a substantial benefit to your colon health.

The use of probiotics also makes sense in the context of the overall goal of a colon cleanse. You are trying to flush out your system and remove the “bad stuff” in your colon, but what are you going to replace it with? Probiotic bacteria can help repopulate your colon during a cleanse.

7. A healthy probiotic bacterial population is essential for long-term colon health

One of the biggest things to consider when doing a colon cleanse routine is how you’ll ensure good gastrointestinal health going forward.

Even the world’s greatest colon cleanse isn’t’ going to be very helpful if you revert right back to the same lifestyle and diet that caused your gastrointestinal problems in the first place. One of the most exciting potential ways to achieve better colon health in the long term is to add probiotics to your colon cleanse.

Resetting your gastrointestinal tract is one thing, but scientific research indicates that you can substantially improve gastrointestinal symptoms like constipation by including probiotic bacteria as a part of your daily routine.

A systematic review of probiotic supplementation protocols published in 2010 indicated promising results (8), and high-quality research showing the advantages of probiotics for symptoms like constipation and other gastrointestinal problems. As probiotic research is one of the hottest areas in science right now, many of our top rated colon cleanse supplements include probiotic bacteria.

8. A colon cleanse supplement that uses an herbal laxative like senna cleanse your colon rapidly

The most common laxatives use the principle of osmolarity to induce a bowel movement, which can bring about a colon cleanse.

Solutions like magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) draw water into your gastrointestinal tract, which can induce a bowel movement, but according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, these “osmotic laxatives” can take several days to actually work (9).

An herbal compound, in contrast, like senna, can work more rapidly, helping to flush out your gastrointestinal tract faster and potentially more effectively.

Side effects

Using a colon cleanse, even an herbal supplement-based one, is not without its risks.

You may become reliant on laxatives for bowel movements. The biggest one is that you’ll become reliant on the laxative effects for your bowel movements, and will get constipation as soon as you stop using your colon cleanse supplement.

The best way to fight this risk is to only use the colon cleanse for a short period of time, then cycle off it. A “cleanse,” after all, is supposed to be a relatively short and intensive intervention, not a regular habit that you do every day.

Some herbal ingredients can cause adverse gastrointestinal reactions. Another risk is an adverse gastrointestinal reaction to the herbal supplements included in a colon cleanse. A lot of supplements use obscure, untested herbal remedies that you may not react to well, especially if you already have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract.

Unfortunately, this is going to be a highly individual topic, so you’ll have to test the supplement you are using and see how you react to it. If you have had problems with this in the past, look for a supplement without lots of obscure herbal supplements and stick to something simple.

Colon cleanses are less risky than colon irrigation. In this procedure, your colon is flushed with a liquid solution. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, such procedures are very risky, and have been associated with stomach pain, diarrhea, and damage to the rectum (10). They can also significantly alter your body’s electrolyte balance, which can spell trouble for people with heart or kidney disease.

While colon cleanse supplements are also not without potential side effects, the severity of these side effects is thought to be far lower and less frequent than the side effects associated with mechanical colon cleansing.

Recommended dosage

The primary dosing concern in colon cleansing is the quantity of the laxative ingredients. For senna-based colon cleanses, a typical dose is between 20 and 40 mg total per day (11).

Maximum dose should never exceed 70 mg per day. For other herbal ingredients, dosages are harder to establish because of a lack of research.

The good news is that the other beneficial ingredients in colon cleanse supplements, like aloe vera gel and fiber, aren’t harmful at high doses, so the laxative ingredient–plus any other herbal ingredients of unknown effect–are the only dosage related concerns for colon cleanse supplements.

Colon cleanse benefits FAQ

Q: Does a colon cleanse hurt?

A: A colon cleanse shouldn’t hurt, at least when it’s done with a supplement that is safe. Mechanical colon cleansing can be painful, both during the procedure and afterwards—case studies point to stomach pain and cramping, as well as damage to the tissue of the colon, as potential side effects of mechanical colon irrigation.

These kinds of side effects are why we included only supplemental colon cleanses in our rankings. Even with a supplement-based cleanse, there is a risk of dependency if you take colon cleanse supplements too often.

If your body becomes reliant on a laxative supplement in a colon cleanse to have bowel movements, you can have painful bowel movements if you get constipated. The best way to avoid this it to only take a colon cleanse supplement as it’s intended—for a relatively brief amount of time.

Q: Can you cleanse your colon with a drink?

A: Some people do juice cleanses as a way to cleanse out their colon, but a juice cleanse isn’t that helpful for cleaning out your colon and improving your gastrointestinal tract because juices have little to no fiber, and a lot of sugar. Both of those things spell bad news for constipation and colon health.

Adding a fiber source like psyllium to a drink can help with colon health, as can limiting high-sugar drinks like juices and soda. While natural juices or green superfood drinks can be useful for health in other ways, if you want to cleanse your colon, you’ll probably need a more integrated approach that includes things like fiber, probiotics, and possibly herbal compounds as well.

Q: How do laxatives help with a colon cleanse?

A: Laxative compounds like senna (and, to a lesser extent, various sources of fiber like psyllium or glucomannan) increase the mobility of your digestive tract, encouraging more regular bowel movements.

Often, people who have bloating and cramping are constipated, and the laxatives in a colon cleanse can mobilize the waste products in their GI tract, cleaning out your colon and easing your gastrointestinal symptoms.

Related: Our best colon cleanse picks

Summary

A colon cleanse can help you clear out constipation and get a fresh start on a healthy population of gut bacteria.

A good colon cleanse supplement combines fiber and laxatives to empty out your colon alongside herbal extracts for gut health plus a good amount of probiotic bacteria and prebiotic nutrients to help ensure that your gut health improves over the long-term.

Though a colon cleanse may only last for a few days, you want to engineer it so that your gut health continues to improve long-term after you finish the colon cleanse.

The post 8 health benefits of a colon cleanse supplement appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis

Protein bars are a quick and easy way to deliver protein to your body when you’re too busy for a healthy meal.

Though there are a ton of low-quality protein bars out there that aren’t much more than candy bars with a bit of protein powder added in, there are still some great protein bars that can be incredibly handy for losing weight or gaining muscle.

We’ve reviewed the science of protein supplementation in-depth and distilled that knowledge into these tips for making the most out of a high-quality protein bar.

Protein bar benefits 1. You need protein to put on muscle mass

It’d be great if you always had fresh-cooked lean protein meals ready to go, but most of us don’t.

That’s where protein bars come in. Pioneered by sports-focused companies like PowerBar and Clif Bar, the category has a giant market size today.

Protein bars are useful primarily for three things: gaining muscle, losing weight as a meal replacement, and as a versatile, all-around snack when you are on the go.

The ingredients of a protein bar dictate, more or less, to what extent it’s useful for each of these categories.

Related: 37 ways to put on muscle mass

2. The main benefit of a protein bar is the quality and dosage of its protein content

What does protein do for you? It’s no secret it helps you build muscle.

That’s been so universally accepted as doctrine now that it hardly needs proof. But in case you had any doubt, plenty of science has demonstrated that supplementing with protein works definitively. Here’s something you might not know–it works for everyone, not just young, fit-looking lifters.

A 2012 study published by scientific researchers in The Netherlands demonstrated that protein supplementation helps frail elderly people add muscle during a weightlifting program (1).

This study used a twice-daily supplement of 15 grams of protein, which is right in the ballpark of what you’d find in a decent protein bar. So, if adding muscle mass with protein works for 80-year-old elderly people, it’s definitely going to work for you.

If you want to add muscle mass, your number one priority is its protein content. So check that nutrition label and get a bar that packs in as much protein as possible.

3. Protein is useful for weight loss too

For weight loss, it’s a little different. Oddly, you still want a good amount of protein. This was demonstrated in a 2008 study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism (2).

In the study, one group of subjects was given a protein supplement drink to take daily, while the other group was given a similar carbohydrate-only drink.

During the course of the study, the subjects who took the protein supplement were able to lose more body fat while maintain their lean muscle mass. If you want to progress more quickly to your desired body shape, this is definitely the way to do it.

At first, it seems a little off: how could eating more protein help you lose weight? We know protein helps build muscle, so the muscle mass maintenance makes sense. But what about losing fat?

4. Protein induces a feeling of satiety

The best explanation has to do with satiety, or the feeling of fullness you get after a meal. It’s a well-known phenomenon that protein increases fullness to a much greater extent than an equal amount of calories from carbohydrates.

Some possible mechanisms for this were laid out in a 2008 scientific article by European researchers (3). The details of this aren’t important; the bottom line is that protein fills you up, so keep the protein content high.

5. A protein bar with fiber is great for weight loss

The other part of the weight loss equation is fiber content. Dietary fiber is also known to increase satiety, and one repeated observation that obesity researchers have made is that people who eat more fiber tend to weigh significantly less.

As far back as 2000, nutrition researchers were outlining the function of dietary fiber in increasing fullness and fighting weight gain (4).

What’s this mean? If you want to use a protein bar as a meal replacement, look for something that combines high protein and high dietary fiber content.

6. Protein bars for weight loss should be low in sugar

Lastly, if you want to lose weight, you should also keep the sugar content low. From the looks of the epidemiological research, sugar is public enemy number one in the fight against obesity.

Multiple large-scale long-term studies have found an association between sugar intake and weight gain, as well as the negative health effects associated with it, like metabolic syndrome and type two diabetes.

An influential paper published in 2001 in the Lancet by Dr. David Ludwig and other researchers at Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital found that each additional serving of sugar-sweetened drink per day, body mass index increases by 0.24 kg/m2 –and remember, it only takes a few points of BMI to tip you from healthy to overweight, or from overweight to obese (5).

The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 37 grams of added sugar per day for men, and only 25 per day for women (6).

Considering that some protein bars have over 20 grams of sugar per serving, it’s pretty hard to stay below this limit if you are eating a sugar-laden protein bar.

So, the upshot of all this is that, for optimal muscle-mass benefits, focus on protein. For weight loss, keep the protein and fiber high, and the sugar low.

For an all-around snack, the same weight loss constraints are pretty good ones: this will help you maintain your weight and metabolic health, as well as satiating your hunger.

7. Taking a protein bar instead of a sugary breakfast can help control type two diabetes

Breakfast has long been suspected to play a role in weight loss and the maintenance of metabolic health, but recent research has provided experimental evidence that consuming a high-protein breakfast that includes whey protein (a key source of protein in most protein bars) can lead to improvements in the symptoms of type two diabetes (7).

By designing a breakfast intervention that used whey protein to deliver 28 grams of protein, the researchers were able to examine the effects of this type of intervention compared to a similar breakfast that was not high in whey protein.

They found that the intervention created more favorable changes in indicators of metabolic function and inflammation, concluding that a high protein breakfast aided by whey protein could be a useful addition to a treatment strategy for type two diabetes.

In the context of protein bars, a high-protein and low sugar protein bar could be a great way to achieve these beneficial metabolic changes, especially if it replaces an unhealthy breakfast that’s high in sugar or refined carbohydrates.

Protein bar side effects

One of the nice things about protein bars is that they are, for the most part, just food. So they don’t really have any distinct side effects outside of their nutritional constituents.

Of course, eating too much of the wrong kind of protein bar isn’t going to be the best thing for your long-term health. Too much sugar, or not enough fiber, could have an impact on your metabolic health, so watch your proportions and watch your nutrition labels. This applies to everything else in your diet, too, not just protein bars.

One notable exception to this rule are protein bars with a lot of sugar alcohol in them. In high doses, these can cause stomach pain, bloating, and other gastrointestinal side effects.

A scientific article in the International Journal of Dentistry by Kauko K. Mäkinen describes in detail the uncomfortable side effects that some people experience when consuming sugar alcohols (8). If you know you get gastrointestinal troubles from artificial sweeteners, steer clear of protein bars that use them.

Protein bar usage

How often you want to take a protein bar is going to be contingent on what you’re trying to accomplish. For muscle building purposes, you’ll want to calculate your goal for your additional daily protein intake, then divide it by the amount of protein in your protein bar of choice.

In any case, you probably don’t want to eat more than three a day; otherwise that probably means you are getting lazy with your actual meals.

As a meal replacement for weight loss, you are looking at one or maybe two a day, either replacing lunch or functioning as a late brunch and mid-afternoon snack (without any lunch in the middle).

Even while on a diet, you still want a real breakfast and dinner, since that’s the best way to get your fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet. Those are important for losing weight, too.

If you are just looking for a snack, the protein content is not quite so important, but don’t forget to keep the sugar content low and the fiber content high–otherwise you’re just eating a glorified candy bar.

As we saw in the research earlier, protein and fiber fill you up, making you feel more full. This is exactly why people use protein bars as a meal replacement.

If you are taking a protein bar for adding muscle, you know that adding muscle mass requires at least 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day, and perhaps as much as 2.0 grams per kilo per day or more.

Concretely, an 80 kg person looking to bulk up would want to shoot for 130-160 grams of protein per day, total. A high-quality protein bar can fill about 15% of this daily requirement.

Of course, you don’t want to rely on protein bars for your only dietary source of protein, as other sources like chicken and salmon are high in protein and have additional benefits.

For weight loss, most research indicates that supplementing with around 50 grams of additional protein per day can help you capitalize on the thermogenic and appetite-suppressant effects of protein. That might be two protein bars per day, or a protein bar plus a protein shake.

For best results, you’ll want to consume protein early in the day if you are shooting for weight loss. Protein at night won’t be as helpful, because the appetite suppressant effects won’t be as useful.

Moreover, we’ve already seen research earlier that indicates that protein in the morning can be helpful for improving metabolic health. So, consuming at least one protein bar per day at breakfast or soon after is likely a good strategy for weight loss.

Protein bar benefits FAQ

Q: Are protein bars actually good for you?

A: A lot depends on the specifics of the protein bar. If we are talking about a protein bar that supplies 15 or 20 grams of protein, some dietary fiber, and barely any sugar, then yes, a protein bar is a great way to add protein to your diet and swap out for a potentially less healthy meal if you are on the go.

On the other hand, a protein bar that provides a mediocre amount of protein, no fiber, and a lot of sugar is not much better than a candy bar in terms of health.

Q: Do protein bars make you put on weight?

A: Protein bars can seem a bit paradoxical because they are touted as a way both to lose weight and to put on muscle mass. Which of these effects they will have depends entirely on the context of your diet and lifestyle when you are taking protein bars.

If you are taking a protein bar as part of a high calorie, high protein diet and are doing a lot of weight training or other resistance training, you’ll find that you’ll put on muscle mass fairly easily.

On the other hand, if you are using protein bars as a part of a diet that is generating a caloric deficit, and you are focusing more on aerobic exercise, a protein bar is more likely to help you lose weight.

It’s also worth considering what, if anything, a protein bar is replacing in your diet. If you are swapping out a fast food lunch for a protein bar, you’re definitely trending towards weight loss territory. However, if you are using a protein bar to cram in 20 extra grams of protein on the drive home from the gym, gaining weight (in the form of muscle mass) is the more likely outcome.

Q: Are protein bars good for weight loss?

A: When used correctly, a protein bar is a great way to assist with a weight loss program. For maximum success, use a protein bar in lieu of a less healthy meal, like a sugary cereal for breakfast or a mediocre cafeteria lunch.

Protein has two primary advantages for weight loss: first, it induces a thermogenic effect compared to an equal amount of calories from carbohydrates or fat. Second, it induces the feeling of satiety, or fullness, to a much greater extent than other macronutrients.

This second effect means that high protein meals and snacks are particularly well-suited for consumption earlier in the day, since the satiety effect will make you eat less at future meals (i.e. lunch and dinner). So, protein bars are good for weight loss, but only when used intelligently.

Q: Can protein bars help you feel full?

A: A good protein bar has two ways to induce satiety (the opposite of hunger): it can rely on the appetite-suppressing effects of its protein content, and it can rely on the fullness-inducing effects of its fiber content.

The best protein bars do both. Animal sources of protein (think whey or bone broth protein) do a better job of inducing satiety thanks to their high BCAA content, and a good protein bar will also use a solid source of dietary fiber to add some bulk, which also helps tamp down on hunger cravings.

Related: Our best protein bar picks

Summary

Protein bars are a great substitute for carb and sugar-packed snack foods, and are the perfect way to keep your protein intake high when you’re on the go.

Whether you’re a serious athlete or a regular person just trying to lose weight, keeping some protein bars handy can be incredibly useful for healthy nutrition when you’re on the go.

The post 7 biggest benefits of protein bars appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis

Turning 50 marks a crucial stage in every woman’s life. At that age, the body is going through significant changes, making it important to keep it healthy and sustain the passage of time.

Dieting is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy body, making it essential for women over 50 to keep in check with their meals. However, picking the right eating plan for you may turn out to be a more challenging task than it looks like. Here’s what you need to know.

7 Best Diets for Women Over 50

Women over 50 often struggle with keeping up with the changes in their bodies, regardless if they’re caused by menopause or other reasons. Yet, maintaining a healthy and varied diet will help you look vibrant and juvenile while also making you feel comfortable in your body.

These seven diets for women over 50 are adaptable, easy to follow, and rich in every nutrient your body needs. None of these is too restrictive, meaning you won’t have to make significant changes to your diet. And more importantly, all of these diets are evidence-based and are often recommended by nutritionists and dietitians to their patients.

Mediterranean Diet

The already popular Mediterranean diet comes from Southern Italy and Greece — two regions widely known for their delicious gastronomy. Based on mainly eating legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, this eating plan allows for sophisticated plates that’ll make you forget that you’re on a diet (1).

However, delicious meals aren’t the only reason this diet is so popular. The foods the Mediterranean diet promotes are nutrient-dense, making them beneficial to your body without adding extra calories. For example, leafy greens are known for keeping you satiated thanks to a special compound called thylakoid (2)

Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet can prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Similarly, it can benefit overweight people, improving their health and preventing weight gain. Similar studies also show that the Mediterranean diet prevents obesity in post-menopausal women (3, 4).

To get started with the Mediterranean diet, stock yourself on vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fruits. These will be the center of your diet — seafood, poultry, and eggs are also allowed, but to a lesser degree.

Related: Mediterranean vs Palo diets

DASH Diet

DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” which lets you see the main focus of this eating plan — heart disease prevention. Post-menopausal women often have higher blood pressure levels due to the changes in their bodies. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major risk for heart disease, one of the leading causes of death for women over 50 (5, 6).

The DASH diet is an eating plan created by experts to reduce high blood pressure in people of all ages. Thanks to the increased consumption of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, and lean meats, this eating plan offers short-term results regarding hypertension (7).

On top of the cardiovascular benefits, the DASH diet also effectively lowers the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and strokes. Naturally, it also reduces the risk of cardiac events that may come from an inefficient cardiovascular system. More studies are required to confirm the effectiveness of this diet in the long term (7).

One of the biggest problems with the DASH diet is that it has a low compliance rate among people who try it. The high volume of vegetables, fruits, dairy, and lean meats may be discouraging for people who are used to eating highly processed foods. If you want to try this eating plan, make sure to get creative with the recipes to avoid dropping out of the diet (7).

Paleo Diet

The famous Paleo diet is based on the eating plan of our ancestors in the paleolithic era, before agriculture was discovered. Lean meats, seafood, and vegetables are the core of this diet, making it one of the top choices for losing weight. However, it also has unique benefits for some conditions.

For example, it has been shown to increase glycemic control and insulin sensitivity — two crucial factors for managing type 2 diabetes. The Paleo diet is also suitable for treating specific cardiovascular conditions, although more research is needed in that regard (8, 9).

However, one of the most relevant aspects of the Paleo diet is that it can be beneficial to post-menopausal women. A recent study links this eating plan with a reduced tendency in fat-promoting factors after six months of sticking to the diet. This means that the Paleo diet may help obese women over 50 lose weight more efficiently to maintain a healthier figure (10).

The Paleo eating plan is one of the most restrictive diets on this list, as it has specific foods that are completely off-limits. For example, legumes, grains, and processed foods are almost entirely forbidden when following the Paleo diet. Instead, you should opt for seafood, lean meats, and vegetables.

WFPB Diet

The WFPB diet, also known as “whole-food, plant-based diet,” is an eating plan that rejects meat and processed foods. Embracing vegan ideals, this diet encourages eating only plant-based meals, with a few minor exceptions such as eggs. These strict conditions allow you to reap all the benefits of a vegan diet and avoid all processed foods.

Vegetarian eating plans like the WFPB diet have long been known to be better for losing weight than non-vegetarian ones. Plus, experts suggest that plant-based diets could also help modulate gut microbiota — improving the health of your gastrointestinal system. However, more research is needed to confirm these theories fully (11, 12).

The WFPB diet, like most plant-based eating plans, has shown to be beneficial for women over 50. Recent research shows that these diets promote a greater decrease in fat mass than animal-based, ketogenic eating plans. By reducing fat mass, you’ll enjoy all the health benefits of maintaining a healthy figure and avoiding obesity (13).

One of the great advantages of the WFPB diet is that it doesn’t force you to follow a strict eating plan. Instead, it provides some general guidelines and allows you to take control of what and how much you eat. The most crucial rule is that your meals should be mostly based on whole grains, vegetables, and seeds. 

MIND Diet

As its name indicates, the MIND diet is focused on protecting cognitive function and reducing related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. MIND stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” Combining elements of Mediterranean and DASH diets, this eating plan is ideal for people looking to support their brain health (14).

Women over 50 may find the MIND diet more valuable than men, as Alzheimer’s disease is more common among women than men. A recent study shows that two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s are women (15).

Experts suggest that the brain-supporting properties of the MIND diet come from its astounding nutrient diversity. From carotenoids to flavonoids, this eating plan contains various compounds that reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Similarly, the MIND diet may also help people with heart conditions, diabetes, and cancer (16).

If you’re considering the MIND diet, stock yourself on whole grains, leafy greens, seafood, and beans. For sweets, try to opt for nutrient-dense fruits such as berries. Naturally, foods such as butter, cheese, or red meat are mostly off-limits, along with fried or processed meals.

Flexitarian Diet

The Flexitarian diet has become increasingly popular over the last few years as a way to combine vegetarian with non-vegetarian eating plans. By allowing you to eat non-plant–based foods occasionally, this diet lets you reap the benefits of most other diets. Plus, it’s one of the least restrictive diets you can find.

The Flexitarian diet originated as a way to solve a fundamental problem with veganism — not getting enough nutrients. Vegetarians and vegans are often at risk of low intake of, for example, iron and omega-3 fats. To solve this, flexitarianism allows the occasional intake of red meat and seafood (17).

Research suggests that the Flexitarian diet provides weight loss and metabolic benefits, which could help with diabetes. Similarly, it has shown promise in reducing gut inflammation, which could be helpful for people with conditions such as Crohn’s disease (17).

The Flexitarian diet doesn’t rely on a strict eating plan but instead gives you a few general guidelines to follow. Most importantly, you should avoid meat, seafood, and other animal-based foods. Instead, replace them with plant-based alternatives whenever possible.

Related: Flexitarian Diet Guide

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is a relatively new idea that proposes an anti-dietary approach to keeping a healthy figure. It originated as a response to “chronic dieting” — the tendency some people have to always be stressed about their diets. Instead, intuitive eating allows us to listen to our bodies without following a strict diet.

Research shows that intuitive eating is closely linked to a lower risk of obesity in both men and women. Furthermore, it’s been shown to promote weight stability, solving the “yo-yo dieting” problem(18).

Yet, not all of the benefits of intuitive eating are physical. This diet has an enormous impact on mental health, reducing binge eating and improving self-esteem. Similarly, it can help treat and prevent depression and body dissatisfaction (19).

Intuitive eating is the perfect choice for anyone who can’t maintain a strict diet that forces them to a specific eating plan. Through intuitive eating, you’ll learn to listen to your body and only eat whenever necessary, avoiding binge eating and excess calories.

How Can I Complement a Healthy Diet?

Whether you’re going on a diet to lose weight, to treat a specific condition, or simply to keep your body healthy, it’s always a good idea to complement it with other habits. Exercising, cutting out processed foods, and generally paying attention to your body are all good practices that help you stay healthy. Here are some examples of what you can do:

Exercise

Anyone who has gone through a healthy diet knows that exercise is just as important as what you eat. Performing a simple daily exercise routine will go a long way in preventing obesity, keeping you energized, and improving your mental health. Furthermore, if you’re over 50, exercising will help keep your muscles and bones strong (20, 21).

The benefits of exercise are more relevant than ever due to the impact of sedentarism. Spending long hours sitting at a desk can negatively affect your health. However, a simple exercise routine, such as walking around every few hours, will prevent most side effects of sedentarism (22). 

Avoid Eating Out

A common way to drop a diet is to give in to the temptation of eating away from home. Despite restaurants often advertising themselves as healthy, eating at home has an undeniable set of benefits that can help you keep a healthy body.

For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s good to remember that eating at home reduces your calorie intake by about 100 calories per day. Similarly, eating at home is linked to a higher intake of nutrients such as fiber (23, 24). 

Plan Ahead

Meal prepping has become a popular way of dealing with the stress of cooking after a long day. By planning your meals, you’ll be able to remove the pressure of thinking about what to eat and when to cook it. Meal prepping also saves you extra money by buying things in bulk.

However, Recent research shows that meal prepping is also linked to a series of benefits for your health. For example, researchers suggest that planning your meals is closely tied to a lower risk of obesity. Also, meal prepping is linked to a more diverse diet, avoiding deficiencies in specific micronutrients (25).

Key Takeaways: Diets for Women Over 50

Although the Internet is filled with hundreds of different eating plans that promise a healthy body, it all comes down to your personal preference. Whether you’re looking for something that won’t restrict your meals or leans toward veganism, one diet will be perfect for you.

If you’re unsure about what eating plan is best for you, make sure to check with a doctor or licensed dietitian. A trained professional can give you precise instructions on what and what not to eat, considering your personal factors and conditions. 

The post 7 top research backed diets for women over 50 appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis
9 best multivitamins for women (2023 update)

Many women take a daily multivitamin because it helps them ensure they get all the micronutrients and vitamins they need for the day—especially for women on-the-go.

Women have nutritional needs that are different from men. These encompass nutrients like vitamin B, iron, vitamin D, calcium, and more.

For vitamins, supplement companies have created female-specific vitamins. But which ones are the best? We looked through the options to rank the best women’s multivitamins, plus dove into the science on the key micronutrients to look for in a women’s multivitamin.  Why You Should Trust Us

Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.

At A Glance our top picks for multivitamins for women Best Overall: Ritual Essential for Women For Women Over 50: Performance Lab Whole-Food Women’s Multi Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women For Teenage Girls: Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women Now Foods Eve Women’s Multivitamin

Rankings

Last updated: September 29, 2022
Multivitamins considered: 29
Hours of research: 54
Experts reviewed: 7
Scientific papers referenced: 13

IMAGE PRODUCT Best Overall1. Ritual Essential for WomenIt has completely traceable and transparent ingredientsContains 20+ ingredientsNon-GMO, vegan and gluten-freeView Latest Price → For Women Over 502. Performance Lab Whole-Food Women’s MultiDesigned to cater to the unique hormonal and dietary needs that women faceProvides 100% or more of the daily value of 18 nutrientsAllergen-friendlyView Latest Price → 3. Garden of Life Vitamin Code for WomenBolstered by the inclusion of fruit and vegetable powdersSpecially formulated multivitamin for womenVegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free whole food multivitaminView on Amazon → For Teenage Girls4. Optimum Nutrition Opti-WomenThey put in some extra nutrients that are truly useful for womenUseful at building and preserving bone mass in womenAids in creating a comprehensive and multifaceted multivitamin for the active womanView on Amazon → 5. Now Foods Eve Women’s MultivitaminProvides standard doses of pretty much everything except B vitaminsComes in hefty-sized mega-dosesIt doesn’t have much in the way of shady ingredientsView on Amazon → 6. Naturelo One Daily Multivitamin for WomenExtracted from a wide range of naturally-occurring sourcesGMO FreePromotes bone healthView on Amazon → 7. MegaFood Women’s One DailyMegaFood’s nutrients are isolated from specially-bred strains of brewer’s yeastFormulated to support your health and nourish your bodyMade without GMOsView on Amazon → 8. New Chapter Every Woman’s One DailyNaturally-produced vitamin and mineralComplete fermented multivitaminMade with Certified Organic Vegetables & HerbsView on Amazon → Best Gummy Multivitamin9. Smarty Pants Women’s CompleteContains at least 100% of 3 important nutrients: iodine, folate and vitamin DNon-GMONo synthetic colors or artificial sweeteners/flavorsView on Amazon → 10. GNC Women’s Ultra MegaScores well on purity rankingsIt’s got caffeine as well as green tea extractContains calcium to help support women’s healthView on Amazon →
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Our Top Picks For Multivitamins For Women

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1. Ritual Essential for Women

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Ritual designed Essential for Women to be the only daily vitamin you need.

Ritual’s developed a cult-like following for its simplicity, traceability and ingredients that work best in the body.  It has completely traceable and transparent ingredients — you can see all of the suppliers and their sources on their website — so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body.

The average multivitamin contains 20+ ingredients, and most of those are things women already get enough of in their diets.

Plus, not all ingredient forms are created equal: most multis use forms that don’t work well in the body. Ritual’s team of in-house scientists identified the essential nutrients women actually need and put them in a single non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, patent-pending capsule without any synthetic fillers or colorants.

Then they created a capsule that actually absorbs the vitamins better:

The result?

Vitamins of the future.

They’ve received praise from Wired and The New York Times for their no-nonsense approach and transparency in the “shady” vitamin industry.

One of the better daily habits any women can have.

BodyNutrition.org 2020 women’s multivitamin winner.

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2. Performance Lab Whole-Food Women’s Multi

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Performance Lab is one of the most innovative supplement companies out there, and their multivitamin offerings are no exception.

Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi for Women is designed to cater to the unique hormonal and dietary needs that women face.

It provides 100% or more of the daily value of 18 nutrients and includes another 10 in generous dosages. It earns its place on our list because of its industry-leading production standards in quality and manufacturing.

Performance Lab also uses a prebiotic and probiotic-infused capsule to help deliver the essential vitamins and minerals into the body with superior bioavailability. The added fiber and enzymes can also help to improve digestive health.

Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi for Women is one of the cleanest products you’ll find on the market. It is free from GMO, soy, gluten and synthetic additives, vegan-friendly, and it’s allergen-friendly as well.

3. Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women

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Garden of Life is known for its unique approach to vitamin and mineral supplements, and it shines in the multivitamin category.

Its vitamin and mineral contents are bolstered by the inclusion of fruit and vegetable powders which have an untold number of nutrients that support the main “alphabet vitamins” and minerals. Independent lab testing ranks its purity and quality very high, which makes it a winning choice.

4. Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women

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Optimum Nutrition shows that they’ve done their homework with their women’s multivitamin.

Instead of just amping up the vitamin B content and throwing in some extra calcium like second-rate women’s multivitamins, they put in some extra nutrients that are truly useful for women, like soy isoflavones.

5. Now Foods Eve Women’s Multivitamin

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Now Foods provides standard doses of pretty much everything except B vitamins, which come in hefty-sized mega-doses.

The presence of mineral ingredients as chelates, instead of inorganic salts, is an attractive feature; these are absorbed much better by your body.

6. Naturelo One Daily Multivitamin for Women

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Naturelo might be the company that does “natural” best. The vitamins and minerals in their women’s multivitamin are extracted from a wide range of naturally-occurring sources, ranging from acerola cherries (vitamin C) to kelp (iodine).

Naturelo’s main attraction is using amino acid chelates to increase the bioavailability of its key mineral ingredients.

7. MegaFood Women’s One Daily

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MegaFood Women’s uses nutrients isolated from specially-bred strains of brewer’s yeast, which helps improve their bioavailability.

The downside is that the product takes a purity hit: the label-stated contents of the multivitamin isn’t always in line with independently-verified dosage data.

8. New Chapter Every Woman’s One Daily

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New Chapter takes a naturally-produced vitamin and mineral approach like a few of its competitors, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. Purity and label accuracy are still big sticking points for vitamins and minerals derived from bacteria, algae, and yeast.

9. Smarty Pants Women’s Complete

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Smarty Pants delivers at least 100% of 3 important nutrients: iodine, folate and vitamin D. 

The downsides? One serving six gummies from the bottle, but there are only 72 mg of EPA and 54 mg of DHA, the two most important and influential omega three fatty acids. It’s definitely convenient, but the dosage is lacking. 

Category winners

Best overall multivitamin for women: Ritual Essential for Women

Ritual Essential for Women puts great care into providing highly bioavailable forms of all of the essential micronutrients supplied in their multivitamin for women. Thanks to the wide range of nutrients and the ease with which they are absorbed, Ritual Essentials is our top pick.

Best multivitamin for women over 50: Performance Lab Whole-Food Women’s Multi

After age 50, women’s nutritional needs change. Performance Lab takes these changes into account, providing less iron and higher doses of B complex vitamins, making it an excellent choice for older women. 

Best multivitamin for women who are pregnant: Ritual Essential Prenatal

Women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant in the near future should take a designated prenatal vitamin that has all the essential nutrients for your baby’s health. Ritual makes an ultra-pure prenatal vitamin with all the right micronutrients for fetal health. 

Best multivitamin for teenage girls: Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women

Teenage girls need additional calcium, vitamin D, and iron for optimal health, and Optimum Nutrition provides an excellent dose of all three of these critical nutrients, making it the best option for teens. 

Best multivitamin for women with iron: Ritual Essential for Women

Ritual Essential is a great pick for an iron-containing multivitamin for women, because it provides iron without also providing high doses of calcium. This might seem counterintuitive, but calcium has potent inhibitory effects on iron’s absorption, so if you want to boost your iron with a multivitamin, go with Ritual. 

Best gummy multivitamin for women: Smarty Pants Women’s Complete

If you can’t stand swallowing a pill every morning, Smarty Pants is the best option on the market. It has a hefty dose of vitamin D, alongside ample doses of iodine and folate. Although gummies can’t measure up to capsule-based multivitamins on every front, Smarty Pants is the best if you know you want gummies.

Who should buy a multivitamin for women?

A multivitamin for women is a catch-all supplement that provides your body with all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that it needs. 

Women whose diet doesn’t have enough trace minerals can get a lot out of a multivitamin. While it’s possible to get all of your nutrients from healthy food, women who are busy, travel a lot, or who are on a restrictive diet often lack key micronutrients in their diet like calcium, folate, and iron.

Older women can benefits from a multivitamin tailored for women. As you get older, your nutritional needs change even more. After menopause, older women often have deficits in copper zinc magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin A (1).

Maintaining appropriate intake levels of nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K is particularly important for women who are getting older.

These vitamins and minerals interact in a synergistic way to build and maintain bone density.

Many cases of osteoporosis and osteopenia are associated with a diet that’s deficient in these nutrients and as your body gets older, you become more vulnerable to fractures if your bone density is decreasing.

Prenatal vitamins are special subset of A women’s multivitamins.  A prenatal vitamin is formulated specifically for women who are currently or soon to be pregnant. Many women will switch from a standard multivitamin for women to a prenatal vitamin when they are pregnant, then switch back after giving birth.

How we ranked

To form our rankings, we pooled products spanning the range from flagship vitamins from big brand-name companies to smaller products from specialty labs, then looked at several key features. 

No extra fillers or coloring agents: Our first requirement was that anything that had excessive fillers, bulking agents, or coloring agents was eliminated. After clearing the field of these lower-quality products, like store-brand offerings from Centrum and Solimo, we started looking at nutritional content.

High levels of key nutrients for women: some of the key ingredients we were looking for were calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, iron, and B-complex vitamins.

Surprisingly, several top sellers did not make it past this next requirement. Rainbow Light, for example did not make the cut because of its very low levels of calcium.

Since this is one of the most important nutrients for women, it’s very hard to justify skipping given its critical role in bone strength.

After ensuring that our remaining multivitamins for women included all of the key micronutrients that both older and younger women, we turned our eye to the method of delivery.

Effective mechanism of nutrient delivery: Capsules versus chewables or gummies made a difference, with capsules scoring better due to their cleaner design and more effective ingredient delivery. More importantly, however, was the chemical form that the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients came in.

Top performers like Garden of Life Vitamin Code Women, used ingredients derived directly from natural sources, or used easily water-soluble forms of their ingredients. Lower performing supplements used compounds like magnesium oxide as sources for trace minerals, which are cheaper but rely on stomach acid to make the trace minerals biologically active.

Our top performers were those multivitamins that use capsules that delivered effective doses of all ingredients in an easily bioavailable form and didn’t pose any problems for vegetarians or vegans.

Ritual, our top performer, stood out for its focus on ensuring that the ingredients it delivers were actually bioavailable, even going as far as engineering a capsule that enhances absorption.

Benefits

If your diet isn’t as good as it could be, you might be able to benefit from a multivitamin. Women are particularly vulnerable to a number of dietary deficiencies, and they also have some unique biological characteristics that shift the amounts of vital nutrients their body needs. 

Women tend to have a high prevalence of several nutritional deficiencies that can be addressed with multivitamins. Moreover, there is even good evidence that taking a multivitamin is directly associated with positive health benefits (2).

Many women are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is also intimately linked with calcium deficiency, and these go hand-in-hand with preventing loss of bone density as you get older.

Two different scientific studies have found that the combination of calcium and vitamin D reduces the reduction of risk of hip fracture in older women (3,4).

Women also have higher needs for B-complex vitamins. When it comes to the health effects of micronutrient deficiencies for women, it’s not just bone or immune health that’s at risk.

Women have specific needs with regards to the vitamin B family, too, and if these aren’t met, deficiencies can be associated with a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, mood disorders and infertility.

Deficiencies in vitamin B12 could have negative effects on your mental health. The risk of severe depression increases two-fold in women who are deficient in vitamin B12 (5), providing evidence that nutrient intake is connected with both your physical and your psychological health. 

Low levels of vitamin B12 (and high levels are homocysteine, an amino acid increased mainly with meat intake) is associated with poor cognition, dementia, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorders (6).

Folate (aka vitamin B9) is important for protecting DNA. Folate, B9, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in fertility, fetal development and DNA and RNA synthesis. A good women’s multivitamin will deliver a solid folate dosage for these reason (7).

Some research has found a correlation between multivitamin use and a lower risk for cancer. According to one study, taking a multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of folate can significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer in women (8). 

Similar research has found that multivitamin users have lower rates of breast cancer (9).

Taking a multivitamin with antioxidants may help you slow the aging process A study from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences found that women who use multivitamins have telomeres that are 5% shorter than women who don’t take multivitamins (10). 

This may or may not translate into a 5% difference in “biological age,” but a reduction in the biomarkers of aging is still a solid outcome.

Multivitamins with antioxidants can neutralize oxidative damage. Deficiencies in the antioxidant vitamin C deficiencies have been associated with reduced brain volume and growth during utero and infancy, acceleration of brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and rapid aging (11).

Women have higher rates of iodine deficiency. A multivitamin with iodine can help prevent iodine deficiencies, which are particularly common in women of childbearing age (12,13).

Side effects

When it comes to side effects, multivitamin supplements rarely come with side effects. The vast majority of products don’t contain any ingredients that are harmful even at fairly high doses.

Weight-loss oriented women’s multivitamins might include caffeine and other stimulants. Caffeine levels in these supplements are typically low, but they can still cause jitters or sleeplessness if you take it late at night or if you are especially sensitive to caffeine.

More is not always better when it comes to fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins (especially A, E, and K) can accumulate when taken at high doses, so make sure your multivitamin doesn’t have excess levels of these vitamins.

If you are pregnant or might become pregnant in the near future, take a prenatal vitamin instead. When you are expecting, your nutrition needs change, and for your health and your baby’s health, you should opt for a prenatal vitamin instead of a more general women’s multivitamin.

Recommended dosage

When it comes to dosage, you are at the mercy of the supplement companies and their formularies. 

For women, critical nutrients include vitamin D, the B vitamins, iodine, and calcium, among others. Among these, here are the critical targets to aim at: 

It’s okay to exceed 100% RDV with vitamin D. The recommended intakes for vitamin D are based only on bone health, and have not been formulated with the other health benefits of vitamin D in mind. Most clinical research on vitamin D supplementation uses much higher levels than 100% RDV, which is why you’ll regularly see vitamin D levels higher than that in women’s multivitamins.

Calcium should be at least 25% RDV. Calcium is critical for bone strength, but beyond this level it’s hard to absorb more calcium in one shot, so it’s okay if this isn’t 100%–you likely wouldn’t be able to absorb it all anyways (usually you spread out calcium intake throughout the day with a dedicated calcium supplement).

Check to make sure any added extras are delivered at effective dosages. If the supplement includes other “extras” like fish oil or green tea extract, try to find out if these are included in dosages that are high enough to actually be beneficial. If they aren’t, you’re probably better off taking them as a separate supplement, and not as a part of your multivitamin.

FAQ

Q: What’s the best multivitamin for women over 50?

A: Women over 50 are pretty much all going through or have gone through menopause, and as the result of the hormonal changes that go along with this, they should pay extra attention to the trace minerals calcium, zinc, and copper, and vitamins D and K.

For these reasons, we like Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women, as well Ritual Essence. Both have high levels of these essential micronutrients that are especially important during and after menopause. Optimum Nutrition has somewhat more calcium, but Ritual Essence has a cleaner and more focused supplement design.

Q: What’s the best multivitamin for women that also has probiotics?

A: When it comes to probiotic content, Garden of Life Vitamin Code Women has a robust content of beneficial bacteria.

While a multivitamin for women can’t compete with the levels of probiotics present in a dedicated probiotic supplement for women, Garden of Life has a respectable 500 million colony forming units (CFUs) per serving.

Importantly, this supplement also includes prebiotics and digestive enzymes that assist with growing your gut microbiome.

Q: What’s the best gummy multivitamin for women?

A: Our highest-rated gummy multivitamin for women is Smarty Pants Women’s Complete, which boasts 100% of your recommended daily intake of several key nutrients overlooked by some other gummy multivitamins: iodine, folate, and vitamin D.

Q: What’s the best multivitamin for women in their late 20s who want children?

A: If you are a woman in your late 20s and you want children at some date in the future, check out Ritual Essence Prenatal.

We have a separate article with rankings, reviews, and detailed analysis of the science behind the best prenatal vitamins, so check those out if you fall into this latter category.

Q: Should a women’s multivitamin have isoflavones?

A: Some research suggests that women experiencing menopause can see a slight boost in sex hormone levels and a concomitant improvement in menopause-related complaints if they take supplements that contain phytoestrogens such as soy isoflavones.

You’ll find soy isoflavones in Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women, but not too many other options on the market include any isoflavones. For that reason Opti-Women is one of our top recommended products for women over age 50 who need a multivitamin.

Q: What is the best whole food vitamin for women?

A: When it comes to whole food ingredients, it’s tough to beat Garden of Life and Naturelo. The entire philosophy of both products is based on sourcing all of its ingredients from plant sources.

Naturelo, for example, uses rice bran to source its vitamin E ,and wild-harvested lichen to source its vitamin D. Garden of Life, on the other hand, uses a careful blend of fruit, vegetable, and plant extracts that delivers the necessary micronutrients.

Q: How should you choose a multivitamin for women?

A: We recommend following a similar process to how we ranked our top products. First, make sure the multivitamins you are looking at don’t contain excessive fillers, binders, or coloring agents.

Then, check to see if the most important vitamins and minerals for women are included in sufficient doses. This includes calcium, copper, zinc, vitamin K, and vitamin D, as well as the B-complex vitamins.

Finally, look for markers of quality, like good manufacturing practices (GMP) certification, naturally-sourced ingredients, and highly bioavailable forms of the essential vitamins and minerals.

Q: What happens if a man takes a multivitamin for women?

A: The only reason men shouldn’t take a multivitamin for women is because the micronutrient balance hasn’t been optimized for male physiology and nutritional needs—it will still function as a fine multivitamin, and will probably outperform low-quality multivitamins for men.

There are a few ingredients men may want to stay away from, such as soy isoflavones, which are thought to mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, but soy isoflavones and other phytoestrogens are only found in a few multivitamins for women.

Men would just do better to take a multivitamin for men, as they tend to need higher doses of specific nutrients for producing male sex hormones like testosterone. Check out our rankings for men’s multivitamins for more on that topic.

Q: What is the best time of day to take a multivitamin for women?

A: With so many different ingredients in a multivitamin for women, the timing is not as important as consistency. Some multivitamins for women come in a serving size of just one capsule, in which case you should take this capsule at the same time every day.

Q: Are there multivitamins for women that contain fiber?

A: Generally, most women’s multivitamins do not contain much or any fiber. The reason for this is not that fiber isn’t necessary for women’s health, but because fiber takes up a lot of space in a multivitamin capsule. It’s better to opt for a separate fiber supplement instead. 

Q: What’s the best multivitamin for women that contains biotin?

A: Biotin is a B-vitamin that’s essential for skin, hair, and nail health, but for women plays a particularly important role during pregnancy and breastfeeding, thanks to its role in promoting fetal development.

You’ll find biotin in any high quality prenatal vitamin, but it’s also abundant in our top picks. Both Garden of Life Vitamin Code Women and NOW Foods Eve are excellent multivitamins for women, and both deliver 100% of your recommended daily intake of biotin in one serving.

Related articles Multivitamins for men Prenatal vitamins Bone density supplements Diet pills for women Probiotics for women Fat burners for women Vitamin D Calcium Recap

While it is optimal to obtain all your nutrition from your diet, the reality is that very few people can hit this goal.

For women who want to improve their physical and mental well-being, reduce their risk for chronic disease, and fight off nutritional deficiencies, multivitamins can help bridge the gap between what your body needs and what your less-than-perfect diet is providing.

For BodyNutrition.org’s #1 women’s multivitamin recommendation, click here.

The post 9 best multivitamins for women (2023 update) appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis
Top pre-workout supplements for women (2023 update)

Pre-workout supplements aren’t just for guys.

For women who are serious about hitting peak performance, improving their fitness, or cutting fat while maintaining lean body mass, a pre-workout supplement is almost a necessity.

However, you can’t always settle for the same pre-workout supplement as men, since women have a different hormonal profile than men, and thus need a pre-workout supplement that’s tuned to their biochemistry.

We’ve reviewed the best pre-workout supplements for women and ranked the top ten. If you want to tune up your workout, check our our rankings. Why You Should Trust Us

Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.

At A Glance our top picks for pre-workout supplements for women Best Overall: Ladder Pre Workout Best for women with B-vitamins: Naked Energy Pure Pre-Workout Formula Best for women over 40: Hilo Energize Pre-Workout Gummies RedLeaf Pre-Workout Energizer Alani Nu Pre-Workout

Rankings

Last updated: September 30, 2022
Pre-workout supplements considered: 22
Hours of research: 51
Experts reviewed: 5
Scientific papers referenced: 10
IMAGE PRODUCT BEST OVERALL1. Ladder Pre WorkoutClean and pure The inclusion of beta-alanine and creatine helps ensure your muscles have the energy they need to push longer and harderHaving the right amount of caffeine included is one of the best options for women who train hardView Latest Price → Best for women with B-vitamins2. Naked Energy Pure Pre-Workout FormulaIt is the go-to pre-workout supplement for women who want to keep things simpleCombination of folate, vitamin C, and calcium, plus beta-alanine, creatine, and L-arginineWell-suited for high-intensity workouts, long cardio, and weight lifting sessionsView on Amazon → Best for women over 403. Hilo Energize Pre-Workout GummiesIt focuses on energy and enduranceA mixture of beetroot, maca root, vitamin B12, and Rhodiola plus lion’s mane mushroomsA caffeine-free formulation that’s great for HIIT or endurance trainingView on Amazon → 4. RedLeaf Pre-Workout EnergizerBest pre-workout supplement that focuses on burning fatCombination of green tea extract, raspberry ketone, and a small dose of caffeineIt’s highly effective to burn fatsView on Amazon → 5. Alani Nu Pre-WorkoutA potent and ultra-simple pre-workout supplementA mixture of citrulline, beta-alanine, tyrosine, caffeine, and theanineGreat for intense training sessionsView on Amazon → 6. Cellucor Super HDHigh-powered pre-workout formula whose focus is burning off fatIt contains caffeine to burn fatHas ingredients that promote energy and endurance to satisfy your fitness goalsView on Amazon → 7. Organic Muscle Organic Pre-WorkoutThe formula is centered around antioxidants and natural metabolism boostersGreat for long sessions of cardioClean and free of artificial sweetenersView on Amazon → 8. Garden of Life Sport Energy + FocusIt is all-natural plant-based pre-workoutCombination of nitric oxide boosters, caffeine, and vitamin B12Gluten-freeView on Amazon → 9. Raw Synergies ThermoPreIt is designed for a strong fat-burning and energy boosting effectA mixture of caffeine, yerba mate and theacrineNo artificial sweetenersView on Amazon → 10. RSP Amino LeanEnhances energy and focusHas amino acids to improve workout performanceGuilt-free and Keto friendlyView on Amazon →

1. Ladder Pre Workout

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Ladder’s Pre-workout is perfect for women looking for a clean and pure option. It’s deliciously sweetened and contains very little sugar, making it ideal for dieters.

The inclusion of beta-alanine and creatine help ensure your muscles have the energy they need to push longer and harder – giving you the best workout possible. With just the right amount of caffeine included, this is one of the best options for women who train hard.

2. Naked Energy Pure Pre-Workout Formula

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Its plain packaging and simple design formula make it clear: this is the go-to pre-workout supplement for women who want to keep things simple.

It has a few key vitamins and minerals: folate, vitamin C, and calcium, plus beta-alanine, creatine, and L-arginine, which work to improve your explosive power, muscular strength, and anaerobic energy.

Well-suited for high-intensity workouts, long cardio, and weight lifting sessions, this supplement is an all-around great pick.

3. Hilo Energize Pre-Workout Gummies

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Hilo focuses on energy and endurance, with beetroot, maca root, vitamin B12, and rhodiola plus lion’s mane mushrooms. It’s a simple, caffeine-free formulation that’s great for HIIT or endurance training, though it lacks a bit when it comes to benefits for strength athletes.

If you want a clean, simple, stimulant-free pre-workout and don’t want to bother with mixing up a powder, Hilo is a great option.

4. RedLeaf Pre-Workout Energizer

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RedLeaf is a strong candidate for the best pre-workout supplement that focuses on burning fat.

With a combination of green tea extract (one of the most proven fat burners out there), raspberry ketone, a small dose of caffeine (40 mg to be exact), it’s highly effective at turning up your body’s ability to burn fat.

Add to that the amino acids included and you’ve got a winning formula for fitness and weight loss.

5. Alani Nu Pre-Workout

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Alani Nu is a potent and ultra-simple pre-workout supplement that focuses on delivering just the most powerful performance enhancers: citrulline, beta-alanine, tyrosine, caffeine, and theanine.

It’s great for intense training sessions though the 200 mg of caffeine might be too much for people who are caffeine-sensitive.

6. Cellucor Super HD

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Cellucor Super HD is a high-powered pre-workout formula whose focus is clearly burning off fat by up-regulating your body’s metabolism and its ability to oxidize fat during exercise.

It may not perform as well if your goal is high intensity interval training, since it lacks some of the anaerobic boosters of other supplements, but the strong kick of caffeine will work well for burning fat.

7. Organic Muscle Organic Pre-Workout

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Despite the name, Organic Muscle Organic Pre-Workout isn’t so focused on people looking to pack on muscle. Its formula is instead centered around antioxidants and natural metabolism boosters.

The lack of amino acids and performance boosters makes this supplement less suited for high intensity workouts, but great for long sessions of cardio.

8. Garden of Life Sport Energy + Focus

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Can you make an all-natural plant-based pre-workout? That’s what Garden of Life has set out to do with this product. You get a powerful dose of nitric oxide boosters, caffeine, and vitamin B12.

Unfortunately the pre-workout falls flat for many users because of its fairly high sugar content (11 grams per serving). It’s a great idea but doesn’t quite live up to its promise.

9. Raw Synergies ThermoPre

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ThermoPre is designed for a strong fat burning and energy boosting effect, but with 250 mg of caffeine per serving, plus other energizers like yerba mate and theacrine, it might be too much for many women to handle without getting jitters or irritability.

10. RSP Amino Lean

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Amino Lean from RSP has a wide range of ingredients, but the presence of artificial flavors and coloring agents will be a big turn-off for many users. Moreover, it’s got a lot of ingredients thrown together in a the proprietary blends is not an attractive feature either.

Category winners

Best overall pre-workout for women: Ladder Pre-Workout

Ladder Pre-Workout features a super clean formulation that boosts athletic performance across the board: creatine for strength, a moderate dose of caffeine for more energy and higher workout intensity, and betaine and beta-alanine for anaerobic power.

Best pre-workout for women over 40: Hilo Energize Gummies

Hilo Energize Gummies are stimulant-free, making them great for women over 40 who want more energy for their workouts but don’t want to deal with the sleeplessness and jitters that caffeine-heavy pre-workouts can cause.

Best pre-workout for women with B-vitamins: Naked Energy Pure Pre-Workout

Naked Energy leverages the energy and mood-elevating properties of B vitamins, as well as arginine and caffeine, to improve workout performance. If you want to combat fatigue and sluggishness at early-morning gym sessions, Naked Energy is the way to go.  

Best pre-workout for female endurance athletes: Ladder Pre-Workout

Ladder Pre-Workout has a great combination of supplements for endurance performance: beta-alanine improves high-intensity interval performance, the modest amount of caffeine is a great all-around performance booster, and citicoline sodium salt boosts the electrolyte content.

Best pre-workout for women without caffeine: Hilo Energize Gummies

Hilo manages to boost workout performance without caffeine by focusing instead on ingredients like beetroot, maca root, rhodiola root, and lion’s mane for workout performance, and vitamin B12 for energy. If traditional pre-workouts keep you up at night, give Hilo a shot instead. 

Best pre-workout for women’s weight loss: Ladder Pre-Workout

Boosting weight loss with a pre-workout supplement calls for proven fat burners like caffeine and green tea extract. Ladder Pre-Workout delivers on this front, making it our pick for a weight-loss oriented pre-workout supplement for women. 

Who should buy a pre-workout supplement for women?

If you’re a woman who is serious about getting in a quality workout, you’re a prime candidate for a pre-workout supplement for women.

Women who want to work out hard and avoid a caffeine crash: Taking a generic pre-workout might land you with too much caffeine, tingling and red skin from too much niacin and beta-alanine, but not enough in the way of other sources of energy.

A pre-workout formulated specifically for women can help avoid this problem.

Women who want to hit peak performance: Not every woman needs to take a pre-workout before going to the gym. If all you do is exercise to stay healthy or keep generally fit, you probably don’t need a pre-workout.

However, if you take your fitness seriously and want to perform your best at strength, power, or endurance-based sports, pre-workout supplements can help you achieve peak performance.

Athletes training to compete and lifters looking to set personal records can both benefit from a pre-workout supplement.

How we ranked

When formulating our rankings of the top pre-workout supplements for women, we had several strict criteria for inclusion.

Formulated for women’s hormonal profile: We excluded products that were too heavy on caffeine and too light on any other beneficial ingredients straight away—we dumped Legion Pulse, NO-Xplode, and other popular general-purpose pre-workouts for this reason. 

Focused on workout performance and recovery: Next up, we looked for key ingredients that would boost workout performance and decrease post-workout soreness. These included antioxidants like vitamin C, as well as amino acids (particularly branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs for short).

Since amino acids are the building blocks for muscle fibers, they’re critical for workout recovery.

Ingredients for anaerobic power: Peak workout performance in sports like Olympic lifting and CrossFit depends to a great extent on your body’s anaerobic energy systems, so we put a strong emphasis on pre-workout supplements that contained ergogenic aids for anaerobic power, like beta-alanine, arginine, and creatine.  

Oxygen delivery boosters for endurance: For endurance events, delivering oxygen to your muscles is more important. We rewarded products with nitric oxide sources, like beetroot extract, since they’re proven to boost endurance performance.  

Clean supplement design: Finally, we looked at the overall composition and quality of the supplement.

Did it use minimalist design, with little or nothing in the way of artificial flavors, colors, and additives? Or was it sugary, full of artificial sweeteners, or colored with potentially undesirable synthetic coloring agents?

Products that scored well in terms of overall supplement design ended up at the top of the rankings, while those that scored poorly ended at the bottom, or got dropped completely.

The remaining products, in order of quality, represent the best pre-workout supplement choices for women that are on the market right now. 

Benefits

Achieving your workout goals gets a lot easier when you choose the right pre-workout supplement. A pre-workout supplement can keep you hydrated, increase the amount of fat you burn, improve your anaerobic power, and help you recover faster from heavy lifting sessions.

Pre-workout supplements provide quality hydration. Pre-workouts help you avoid the drops in performance that occur when you get dehydrated (1).

Pre-workout supplements can replace trace minerals lost in sweat. Most people know that sweat is salty, but salt also contains calcium, potassium, and magnesium. A good pre-workout for women can help you avoid depleting these electrolytes during exercise (2).

Another tool in the arsenal of a pre-workout is the use of glycerol powder to boost water retention. This is a biochemical trick that’s been known to elite exercise physiologists since at least the 1990s, but has only recently become popular among pre-workout supplements for women (3).

Pre-workouts for women can burn fat. When it comes to fat oxidation, the key ingredients are herbal extracts like green coffee bean and green tea extract, which are both potent fat oxidizers.

These ingredients interact synergistically, giving you a bigger boost in fat loss than you’d expect from each ingredient alone (4).

Beta-alanine and L-carnitine can boost anaerobic performance. Anaerobic power output depends on your body’s ability to buffer lactate, and this ability can be augmented by beta alanine and carnitine.

Supplementing with these compounds improves performance in high-intensity sprints and repeated-sprint tests, so they’re great ingredients for events like CrossFit and HIIT training (5).

Beetroot juice is well-suited for continuous high-intensity training, since it boosts your ability to utilize oxygen in your muscles, according to a 2012 scientific article (6).

Amino acids (including BCAAs) are crucial for strength gains. For strength gains, you’ll want to seek out a pre-workout supplement that includes amino acids (particularly branched-chain amino acids) and creatine, especially if you are looking for absolute gains in strength.

Amino acids, and BCAAs in particular, help athletes who are pushing themselves right to the limits of recovery, preventing overtraining and improving recovery during training (7).

Creatine is one of the most-proven supplements for increasing muscular strength. Creatine is one of the safest and most effective supplements for boosting muscle strength.

Creatine’s not just for men. One study on female lacrosse players, for example, showed that creatine increased upper body strength and decreased body fat content (8).

Other research shows that just five days of creatine supplementation helps healthy women increase their leg strength (9). 

Side Effects

Almost all quality pre-workout supplements for women will be well-tolerated. The only category of ingredients that can cause side effects are those designed to increase fat metabolism, and the biggest culprit among these is also one of the most ubiquitous in everyday life–caffeine.

Caffeine jitters and sleeplessness can affect women particularly strongly. Women seem to be especially susceptible to the negative effects of caffeine, partially because they just tend to be smaller and thus affected more by a given dose of caffeine, but also because of hormonal influences.

Estrogen affects how long caffeine lasts in your body. Caffeine lasts a lot longer in the bloodstream of women who take contraceptives, which means that taking a pre-workout supplement with caffeine in it in the afternoon could keep you up late into the night (9).

If you get jittery, irritable, or restless later in the day, check the caffeine content of your pre-workout supplement.

Vitamin B3 (niacin) and beta-alanine can cause tingling and pins and needles. B-complex vitamins and beta-alanine are both common pre-workout ingredients, but can cause a tingling sensation when taken in high doses.

Though it can be irritating, it’s not indicative of any more serious problems. You can avoid this tingling by spreading out your dosage or choosing a pre-workout that’s free from these compounds.

Recommended dosage

Most high-quality pre-workout supplements for women have had their serving size calibrated to correspond to the ideal dosage of all of the active ingredients, but you can’t always count on a product’s serving size to get it right.

Caffeine: 2-3 mg per kilo of body weight. If your pre-workout supplement contains caffeine, you should know that most research suggests you can garner all of the benefits with a dose as low as about 2-3 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. That’s about 100-150 mg of caffeine for a 120-pound woman.

Creatine: at least 3 grams. Traditional creatine supplementation routines often call for doses of 15 grams per day or more, but new research shows that as little as three grams per day total can achieve the same effects (10).

Beta-alanine: 1-2 grams (ideally in separate doses). For beta-alanine, optimal effects occur with one to two grams per day, but if you take too much all at once, you can get a tingling sensation in your skin. It might be better to allocate some of your total beta-alanine to a post-workout or intra-workout supplement.

BCAAs: 5-10 grams. Most research on BCAAs for women suggests that five to ten grams is the optimal dose, though this is total across the day. If other supplements, like a protein shake, contain BCAAs as well, these also count towards this total.

Exact dosage is less critical for electrolytes and antioxidants like vitamin C, so you can be flexible with the amounts of these ingredients.

You’ll notice that most high-quality pre-workout supplements already have these dosages dialed in, so you often don’t have to worry too much if you’re using a top-notch product. 

FAQ

Q: What should be in a pre-workout drink for women? 

A: To be prepared for optimal workout performance, you want to look for ingredients that will support three broad categories of athletic tasks: muscular strength, anaerobic power, and aerobic endurance.

On the muscular strength front, a pre-workout drink with BCAAs are a real winner for boosting recovery.

Creatine is another critical ingredient for building muscular strength, and its advantages bleed over into anaerobic power as well.

For better anaerobic power, you want beta-alanine and L-carnitine, as they increase your body’s maximum power output.

When it comes to aerobic endurance, electrolytes and beetroot are the way to go.

Caffeine boosts athletic performance across the board, though understandably not everyone wants a lot of caffeine right before every workout they do. 

Q: What can you take instead of pre-workout? 

A: One of the simplest and most old-school “pre-workout” alternatives is a cup of coffee. A little hydration and a healthy serving of caffeine is more than enough to boost your performance and motivation at the gym.

If you want to go more high-tech, try adding MCT oil to your coffee for a boost of energy from medium-chain triglycerides.

You can also cobble together your own supplementation routine that provides, separately, key pre-workout ingredients like creatine, beta-alanine, and branched chain amino acids, but at that point, why not just take a pre-mixed pre-workout? 

Q: Is pre-workout bad for you? 

A: Some people have negative reactions to pre-workout products that are too heavy on caffeine, or load up on too much beta-alanine. Too much caffeine can result in anxiety, nausea, jitters, and irritability—not exactly what you want for peak athletic performance.

Too much beta alanine can cause tingling in your skin, as can pre-workouts with huge amounts of niacin, though both of these are harmless side effects.

Q: Do you need to use pre-workout? 

A: If all you do is go to the gym to stay healthy or say generally fit, pre-workout probably isn’t necessary. Pre-workout supplements are good if you are a serious athlete who wants to achieve your personal best, or take your training to the next level.

Pre-workout supplements are great for athletic tasks governed by muscular strength, anaerobic power, and aerobic endurance, so they’re not likely to help with something like yoga, no matter how serious you are about it.

The benefits of pre-workout tend to scale with the intensity of the activity, and the level of seriousness of the athlete. That’s why they are so popular among high-level athletes and competitors. 

Q: What does a pre-workout supplement do? 

A: Pre-workout supplements prime your body for top performance by increasing nervous system output, buffering lactate during intense exercise, and supplying amino acids to the muscles to accelerate recovery and prevent muscle damage.

While these effects stimulate different physiological systems, the ultimate goal is the same: better workout performance. 

Q: How long does a pre-workout supplement last? 

A: The elimination time for different pre-workout ingredients varies, but it’s reasonable to expect a pre-workout to last for at least two to three hours.

That’s based on the expected absorption time and elimination half-lives of the most common key ingredients in pre-workout supplements: caffeine, beta-alanine, BCAAs, creatine, and B vitamins. 

If you’re doing a very long workout, or splitting your time between two different workouts, you might opt for an intra-workout supplement to keep your energy levels up, but in most cases, this won’t be necessary. 

Q: Why does pre-workout make you tingle?

A: Tingling from a pre-workout supplement comes from two sources. Either the product contains a lot of beta-alanine, or it contains a lot of niacin (vitamin B3).

The flushing and tingling from these ingredients is harmless, but it can be pretty annoying and even distracting when you are trying to get a good workout in. However, it isn’t harmful. 

You can eliminate this tingling by spreading your dosage out over 30-60 minutes, or taking a pre-workout with less or no beta-alanine and niacin.

Related articles Pre-workout supplement Intra-workout supplement Post-workout supplement Fat burners for women BCAA for women Protein powder for women Recap

A pre-workout supplement that’s specifically formulated for women can help you perform at a higher level in the gym, whether your training is focused on endurance, strength, or power. 

Pre-workouts can amp up your energy levels for early-morning workouts with caffeine and B vitamins, and thanks to ergogenic aids like creatine, beta-alanine, and carnitine, you can hit peak performance more reliably in your workouts.

A good pre-workout for women can help you avoid the jitters and sleeplessness that can come from relying on stimulant-packed pre-workout blends that are formulated for male athletes with a very different hormonal makeup.

Looking to push your performances at the gym to the next level? Try one of our top-ranked pre-workouts for women.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended pre-workout supplement for women, click here.

The post Top pre-workout supplements for women (2023 update) appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis
Ranking the best mens multivitamins of 2023

Men’s multivitamins help you ensure you have the right critical vitamins and minerals for proper health. Men have different nutritional needs than women, largely because of the unique nutritional demands necessary to sustain high levels of testosterone, growth hormone, and other androgens.

More men are investing money in multivitamins billed as a sort of “health insurance” fix for poor dietary habits and to cut the risk of developing chronic disease. Of course there is no substitute for a good diet and regular exercise, but taking a daily multivitamin for men can help you stay healthy and even look younger, too.

Our research team ranked and reviewed the best men’s multivitamins on the market, plus reported on the latest science on the benefits men can get from a good multivitamin. Why You Should Trust Us

Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.

At A Glance our top picks for multivitamins for men Best Overall: Ritual For Men 50+ Performance Lab Whole-Food Men’s Multi Best For Men Over 50: Dr. Tobias Multivitamin & Mineral Plus Enzymes Best For Male Athletes: Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men Vimerson Health Men’s Multivitamin

Rankings

Last updated: September 29, 2022
Multivitamins considered: 24
Hours of research: 55
Experts reviewed: 12
Scientific papers referenced: 33

IMAGE PRODUCT Best Overall1. Ritual For Men 50+Engineered for the man who doesn’t “mess around”Contains all the vitamins and mineralsEnsures that it gives men that extra strength and “energy”View Latest Price → 2. Performance Lab Whole-Food Men’s MultiProvides the recommended daily intake of more than 18 essential vitamins and mineralsProvides 833% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin B12Provides 150% DV for zinc, 250% vitamin D and 4mg of boronView Latest Price → Best for Men Over 503. Dr. Tobias Multivitamin & Mineral Plus EnzymesMany of the letter vitamins (A, C, D, E, and the B-complex vitamins) are provided at high concentrationsThe concentration of the metal minerals, like magnesium, zinc, selenium, and chromium, is more moderateProvides a blend of 42 fruit and vegetable extractsView on Amazon → Best for Male Athletes4. Optimum Nutrition Opti-MenA brand that’s known for its fitness and muscle-building supplementsThe concentration of minerals and especially vitamins is tremendously highProvides gender specific herbal extract and amino acid blendsView on Amazon → 5. Vimerson Health Men’s MultivitaminDelivers a great men’s multivitaminIt has all the basics that men needAdds in the antioxidant power of green tea extract and other powerful sources of free radical scavengersView on Amazon → 6. Animal Pak by Universal NutritionA multivitamin geared towards weight lifters, body builders, and other fitness enthusiastsContains a complete package of amino acidsPotent bodybuilding supplementView on Amazon → Best Multivitamin Without Iron7. Rainbow Light Men’s OneThe bioavailability of the vitamins and minerals it supplies should be very goodPacked with scientifically studied ingredientsVegetarian and gluten freeView on Amazon → 8. MuscleTech Platinum MultivitaminHigh doses of many different trace elementsMuscle-focused multivitaminHighly bioavailable amino acid chelate formView on Amazon → 9. Kirkland Signature Daily MultiThe ingredient list is free from any suspicious or potentially unsafe food additivesProvides the essential nutrientsUSP verified dietary supplementView on Amazon → 10. Centrum AdultsProvides your standard letter-vitamins and metal mineralsEach tablet contains right around 100% of almost every ingredientContains no herbal extracts, amino acids, or other supplements with systemic effectsView on Amazon → 11. Solimo Men’s One DailyMinimalist multivitaminThe supplement design is pretty cleanNo artificial colors, no artificial flavorsView on Amazon →
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Our Top Picks For Multivitamins For Men

Best Overall: Ritual For Men 50+Performance Lab Whole-Food Men’s MultiBest For Men Over 50: Dr.Tobias Multivitamin&Mineral Plus EnzymesVimerson Health Men’s MultivitaminBest For Male Athletes: Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men'); }); var t = jQuery(".bgpsaag-tl__container").offset().top; jQuery(document).scroll(function(){ console.log( "scroll!" ); if (screen.width > 200) { if(jQuery(this).scrollTop() - 200 > t) { jQuery('body').addClass('bnstl-textlinks__entry'); } else { jQuery('body').removeClass('bnstl-textlinks__entry'); } }});

1. Ritual For Men 50+ 

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Ritual for men 50+ is engineered for the man who doesn’t mess around. Not only does it contain all the vitamins and minerals that you would expect from a high-quality multivitamin, but it ensures that it gives men that extra strength and “energy”.

Each 2-capsule serving provides 10 unique, clinically-dosed micronutrients that support your bones, muscles, and organs. Ritual also includes delayed-release technology to ensure that you absorb more of what you need to, without feeling nauseous.

It’s also one of the cleanest formulas on the market today. Ritual for men 50+ is free from GMO, soy, gluten, caffeine, allergens and synthetic additives.

All in all, it’s our top overall pick.

2. Performance Lab Whole-Food Men’s Multi

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Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi for Men provides the recommended daily intake of more than 18 essential vitamins and minerals, with B-vitamins particularly high. It provides 833% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin B12, for instance, along with 533% B1; 235% of B2, plus 200% of vitamins B5 and B6.

B vitamins are particularly useful for men with stressful jobs, thanks to their ability to help the body’s stress mechanisms.

It also provides 150% DV for zinc, 250% vitamin D and 4mg of boron (there is no daily value established for boron), meaning it also targets testosterone production, the immune system and provides support for strong muscles and bones, making it a great choice for physically active men.

3.  Dr. Tobias Multivitamin & Mineral Plus Enzymes

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Dr. Tobias provides many of the letter vitamins (A, C, D, E, and the B-complex vitamins) at high concentrations.  Vitamin B6, for example, is listed at 2500% of your recommended daily value, and vitamin B1 (thiamin) is listed at 3333%.

The concentration of trace minerals, like magnesium, zinc, selenium, and chromium, is more moderate.  These are provided at amounts ranging from 25 to 100% of your recommended daily intake.

In addition to the basic essentials, Dr. Tobias provides a blend of 42 fruit and vegetable extracts like blueberries, spirulina, chlorophyllin, black currant, green tea, and more.

This means each tablet has a powerful anti-oxidant effect in your body, which is good for overall health and longevity.  There’s even a concentration of probiotic bacteria for gut health and digestion.

This formulation strategy shows a commitment to understanding what really goes on inside the body, instead of just trying to hit 100% of all recommended daily intakes and moving on, which makes Dr. Tobias one of the best choices if your main goal is to improve overall health.

4.  Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men

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Optimum Nutrition packs a tremendously high concentration of vitamins and minerals into its multivitamin.  Several of the B-vitamins are provided at 1600-5000% of recommended daily intake levels, and almost every single metal mineral (copper, chromium, manganese, chromium, etc.) are provided at 100% of your daily intake.

5.  Vimerson Health Men’s Multivitamin

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Vimerson Health has all the basics that men need, plus a custom blend of herbal extracts like saw palmetto and lycopene for male wellness. Add to this the antioxidant power of green tea extract and you’ve got a potent and versatile multivitamin for men.

6.  Animal Pak by Universal Nutrition

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The bright yellow tub and the bold-face letters say it all—this is a multivitamin geared towards weight lifters, body builders, and other fitness enthusiasts.

The daily intake numbers are massively high: 9000% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B6, and over 5000% of thiamin, for example.

The label even gives you a warning: “This is a potent bodybuilding supplement.”  If that’s what you need, this is a great choice.

7.  Rainbow Light Men’s One

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Rainbow Light’s delivers many of its mineral ingredients as easily-digestible salts or amino acid chelates, which means that the bioavailability of the vitamins and minerals it supplies should be very good—i.e. your body will be able to absorb a high proportion of the amount you consume.

It’s a simple multivitamin, but it gets the fundamentals right.

8.  MuscleTech Platinum Multivitamin

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The focus in MuscleTech Platinum Multivitamin is delivering high doses of many different trace elements in addition to the basics that you need.

For a muscle-focused multivitamin, the range of ingredients you get is great, and moreover, many of them are delivered in a highly bioavailable amino acid chelate form.

9.  Kirkland Signature Daily Multi

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Kirkland Signature has all the basics, but doesn’t have much in the way of extras, aside from the antioxidant supplements lycopene and lutein.

There are a few other trace minerals provided that don’t have recommended daily intakes, like boron, tin, vanadium, and nickel, but that aside, Kirkland doesn’t really stand out against the competition.

10.  Centrum Adults

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Centrum is a “just the basics” multivitamin; it provides your standard letter-vitamins and metal minerals, and not much else.  Each tablet contains right around 100% of almost every ingredient, aside from a few outliers like biotin, vitamin K2, and phosphorus.

Centrum contains no herbal extracts, amino acids, or other supplements with systemic effects—it’s just the raw building blocks that your body needs to function.

Category winners

Best men’s multivitamins overall: Ritual for Men 50+

Ritual provides a focused blend of vitamins and minerals that is specifically tuned to men’s needs. It targets micronutrients that are often deficient in men’s diets, like omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc.

Best multivitamins for male athletes: Performance Lab Whole-Food Men’s Multi

Performance Lab uses all-natural sources to deliver all of the essential vitamins and minerals that serious athletes need—even rare trace elements like manganese, copper, and molybdenum that provide critical enzymatic support for top performance.  

Best men’s multivitamin without iron: Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men

If you already get enough iron from your diet (or from other supplements), it can be tricky to get a solid men’s multivitamin that doesn’t provide iron. Optimum Nutrition is the ideal choice because it has a wide range of all the essential vitamins and minerals in a simple, cleanly-designed supplement, but without iron. 

Best multivitamins for men over 50: Ritual for Men 50+

Men over 50 need to worry more about getting nutrients that sustain high levels of testosterone into old age. Ritual is formulated specifically for these hormonal needs, with compounds like magnesium and zinc for testosterone support, and DHA omega 3 from microalgae for cardiovascular health.

Best multivitamins for men’s sexual health: Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men

Optimizing your sexual health means ensuring your body has the right nutrients it needs to produce androgens (like testosterone) and blood flow simulators, like nitric oxide. Optimum Nutrition has both of these locked down, with zinc, magnesium, saw palmetto, L-arginine, and alpha-lipoic acid. 

Best men’s multivitamin with vitamin D: Performance Lab Whole-Food Men’s Multi

Dishing out 1000 IUs of vitamin D, Performance Lab tops other men’s multivitamins that only provide a few hundred IUs of vitamin D per day. It’s ideal for men looking to ensure their vitamin D levels are high enough to sustain proper hormonal function. 

Who should buy a multivitamin for men?

Men who are busy, don’t have time to get a high-quality meal in three times per day, train very hard for athletic events, and men who are over 50 all may benefit from a multivitamin specifically formulated for men’s nutritional needs (1).

Why these groups? If you have plenty of time to cook high-quality meals every day, it’s easily possible to get all of your nutritional needs from foods. However, there are a lot of men who travel for work or have to put in long hours, and for them, it can be extremely tough to cover all of their nutritional bases.

Tough training increases your body’s nutritional needs, and as you get older, nutritional deficits become increasingly common.

Trace minerals, like copper or zinc, are quite easy to skimp on, as are some of the less-common vitamins such as vitamin K and some of the B-complex vitamins. Taking a multivitamin for men can be a good stopgap to ensure you don’t develop any latent deficiencies in important nutrients in your diet.

How we ranked

We had a few key points of differentiation that we used to sort and rank our candidate products:

Formulated specifically for men: We weren’t interested in generic formulations that aren’t tailored for the specific nutritional needs of men, so they didn’t make the list.

Hits nutritional needs for basic vitamins and minerals: After compiling the range of options on the market for multivitamins for men, we took a look at the contents. We dropped anything that didn’t meet baseline requirements for the basic ingredients, like vitamins B, C, and E.

Ingredients for androgen support: After taking care of the basics, we then started to look at the most important ingredients for men. First on our list was zinc, a critical mineral for maintaining high levels of testosterone.

Magnesium, too, has been demonstrated to be essential for boosting testosterone levels in older men, so we also checked for high levels of magnesium. We also looked at other androgen-enhancing herbal extracts like saw palmetto and lycopene. 

Effective delivery mechanism:  Supplements that delivered their ingredients in a soluble form, like zinc gluconate or amino acid chelates, scored much higher than supplements that used something like zinc oxide instead.

That’s because soluble forms of ingredients, particularly minerals like zinc or magnesium, are absorbed more effectively.

Antioxidants for combating inflammation: we favored products that boosted antioxidant levels by including sources of greens like spirulina or antioxidant-rich fruit extracts like blackcurrant or lycopene.

These antioxidants might help protect you from heart disease, one of the most common chronic health problems among men.

Lack of binders, fillers, and artificial ingredients: lastly, we penalized products that used artificial coloring agents or a lot of binders, in keeping with our overall philosophy of purity and simplicity.

Benefits

Thirteen different vitamins and at least sixteen minerals are essential to health and proper physical function, including growth, reproduction and routine maintenance. Can you get all your nutrients from a healthy diet? Sure, but if you’re traveling or keep a busy schedule, that’s not always realistic. A multivitamin helps patch up any shortcomings in your diet.

Multivitamins might reduce for chronic disease. Observational studies returned mixed results on the effectiveness of multivitamins in reducing the rate of heart disease; some showed lower ratios, while others showed no effect at all (2, 3, 4, 5).

Reports from a decade-long study following the health of 14,000 male doctors during middle age indicated those who took multivitamins suffered the same rates of stroke, heart attack and fatalities as those who didn’t (6).

Ditto for cancer: results are mixed, but some studies have found lower rates of cancer in people who take multivitamins (7,8, 9).

Multivitamins can preserve eye function as you get older. A multivitamin that includes eye vitamins can help you preserve eye function as you get older, and may reduce the risk of cataracts as well (10).

Multivitamins could preserve cognitive function and boost mood. Poor moods have been linked to nutritional deficiencies in several studies (11, 12). Supplements may help decrease symptoms of depression and improve mood. (13, 14).

Men who take multivitamins could be at a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but not all research agrees. One study found lower rates of Alzheimer’s among multivitamin users (15), but later research that  attempted to put these findings into action didn’t have the same level of success (16,17).

However, this last study did find that people over age 75 and people who were at high risk for nutritional deficiencies did benefit from the multivitamin.

Side effects

Multivitamins have been widely studied and are considered very safe. None of the large randomized trials discussed earlier reported any side effects as a result of the multivitamin treatment.

You should avoid very high doses of vitamin E because they increase prostate cancer risk. There are some concerns about large doses of antioxidants, however: large doses of vitamin E, which were originally thought to help prevent cancer, has actually been found to increase the risk of prostate cancer in men (18).

Men who smoke should not take a multivitamin with high doses of vitamin A. Similarly to vitamin E, high dose of beta-carotene has been found to increase lung cancer risk in men who smoke, probably by protecting cancerous cells from oxidative damage.

More is not always better when it comes to dosage. Taking high doses of certain vitamins and minerals can be beneficial in some cases and harmful in others.

Recommended dosage

Make sure you hit at least 100% of RDV with the major ingredients. With a multivitamin, you don’t get much choice when it comes to the dose of individual ingredients, aside from choosing a high quality brand that provides a good balance of vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients.

Don’t go overboard with vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K can build up over time, and since they’re stored in the body, levels can become toxic. Water-soluble vitamins like B and C are flushed from the body when they’re present in excess.

Of the fat-soluble vitamins, E and K are not toxic in high levels, but vitamins A and D may have detrimental effects when you take too much.

As long as your multivitamin provides a large proportion of the recommended daily intake for the most important ingredients, you’ll be fine with the recommended serving size from the manufacturer.

FAQ

Q: What is the best multivitamin for men over 50?

A: As men get older, it’s increasingly important to maintain high levels of testosterone to maintain physical, mental, and sexual health. For men over 50, we like Ritual for Men 50+ thanks to its targeted formulation that delivers omega-3 fatty acids plus zinc and magnesium for androgen support. 

Q: What kind of multivitamin should men who undereat take?

A: Men who are under eating (for example, as part of a weight loss program) are at a risk for mild to moderate nutritional deficiencies, particularly if they are aggressively cutting out certain foods.

A multivitamin for men that provides adequate level of all the basic vitamins and minerals, such as Dr. Tobias Multivitamin or Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men, is a great option for men who are trying to cut weight.

These well-rounded supplements keep up your levels of soluble nutrients and trace minerals, which can run low when you are chronically undereating to drop weight.

Q: What’s a good multivitamin for men who work out?

A: Men who work out want something targeted for performance. From our list of the best multivitamins for men, the ones that stand out for men looking to get fit are Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men and Animal Pak by Universal Nutrition.

That’s because they are packed with additional performance-enhancing compounds like carnitine, saw palmetto, and pine bark extract. Opti-Men is our recommended pick for athletes, thanks to its inclusion of androgen-supporting herbal extracts.  

Q: What multivitamins are safe for heart patients?

A: When you’ve got a specific medical condition like heart disease, you might need a more targeted nutritional intervention than you’ll get with just a multivitamin.

Brands like Ritual for Men 50+ include ingredients like microalgae-derived DHA to improve cardiovascular health, and are a better pick than a generic multivitamin.

As with any supplementation strategy for chronic disease, you should work with your cardiologist to develop a nutritional plan that works for you.

Q: What should a men’s multivitamin have in it?

A: When looking at the ingredients in a multivitamin for men, you of course want to make sure all the basics are covered. That means things like vitamin A, C, and D, as well as important minerals like calcium.

But for men’s multivitamins in particular, you’ll want to make sure that it contains adequate levels of zinc and magnesium, too, as these trace minerals play an important role in maintaining high testosterone levels as men get older.

Q: Why should you take a men’s multivitamin?

A: Taking a multivitamin is a good way to cover your bases if the quality of your diet isn’t what it should be.

Of course, there’s no way for a man to completely make up for a poor quality diet with a multivitamin, but on days when you are very busy, or travelling, a multivitamin for men is a good stopgap to make sure you don’t slide into nutritional deficiency.

A multivitamin for men might help stave off a decline in quality of life for older men, though the evidence for specific conditions like preventing Alzheimer’s disease is controversial.

Related articles Best supplements for men Fat burners for men Multivitamin for women 36 best ways to boost testosterone naturally Testosterone boosters Male enhancement pills Recap

Multivitamins for men can help patch up a low-quality diet, which is especially useful for men who are very busy, train very hard, or who travel a lot and don’t have much time to eat multiple high-quality meals every day.

In addition to the basics, men’s multivitamins can provide trace minerals like zinc and magnesium that support higher levels of testosterone and better sexual function.

While not all of the research agrees, men who are 75 or older, or who have particularly low-quality diets, may be able to prevent cognitive decline with a multivitamin supplement too.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 multivitamin for men recommendation, click here.

The post Ranking the best mens multivitamins of 2023 appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis
10 best post-workout supplements (2023 update)

Many athletes and people who train take a post-workout shake immediately after a workout.

Getting optimal benefits from your exercise or training routine isn’t just a matter of putting the work in.

Between protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, and all sorts of other nutrients, it can be hard to tell what’s important when it comes to a post-workout supplement.

Fortunately for you, we’ve analyzed the best post-workout supplements on the market and ranked them right here. Why You Should Trust Us

Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.

At A Glance our top picks for post-workout supplements Best Overall: Performance Lab SPORT Post-Workout Best for women: Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine Best for bodybuilders: Vintage Build BSN Amino X Evlution Recover Mode

Rankings

Last updated: September 29, 2022
Post workout supplements considered: 29
Hours of research: 50
Experts reviewed: 13
Scientific papers referenced: 19

IMAGE PRODUCT Best Overall1. Performance Lab SPORT Post-WorkoutFocuses on energy, electrolytes, and strength recovery, but without the BCAAsIt’s an all-natural product and helps to improve muscle recoveryIt strives to keep you at your best for your next workoutView Latest Price → Best for women2. Transparent Labs BCAA GlutamineBest for gaining strength and powerA fantastic product that’s perfectly suited for fighting post-workout sorenessHas no artificial coloring, no artificial sweeteners, gluten-free and non-GMOView Latest Price → Best for bodybuilders3. Vintage BuildHas a clean, focused design that is a nice contrast against other post-workout supplementsIncludes amino acids, creatine, and L-glutamine for muscle recovery and immune functionIt is flavored and colored naturally with stevia and cherry coloringView on Amazon → 4. BSN Amino XFormulated more towards speed, power, and endurance for athletesCan be used in your bloodstream to fight off anaerobic fatigue in the short termKeto-friendly, and Caffeine freeView on Amazon → 5. Evlution Recover ModeIt has everything you know you need in a post-workout supplementAids for better muscle recovery and immune functionIncludes a robust mix of electrolytes to replace what’s lost in sweatView on Amazon → 6. JYM Supplement Science POSTHas some cutting-edge ingredients like beta-alanine and taurineCan boost your muscular carnosine content, and taurine for extra energyIt's a complete post-workout supplement that’s optimized for both strength and powerView on Amazon → 7. Legion RechargeA surprisingly simplistic post-workout supplementAids in muscle soreness and helps in recoveryIt delivers creatine, L-carnitine, and banaba leaf extract in its formulationView on Amazon → 8. PowerbuildFormulated with beta-alanine for muscular power, and creatine for muscular strengthHelps boost your absorption of the amino acids in the supplementAids in post-workout recovery and muscle growthView on Amazon → 9. Growth SurgeA supplement is designed pretty much exclusively for strength athletesHelps in increasing endurance in the gymAids in muscle building and post-workout recoveryView on Amazon → 10. Progenex RecoveryHas a great taste for a post-workout shakeHelps to recover your muscles fast and rebuild itAids in overcoming fatigue post-workoutView on Amazon → 1. Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine

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Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine focuses on recovery and increased performance using a potent recovery matrix. Along with fermented BCAAs and glutamine, this product also contains coconut water extract.

This product has no artificial coloring, no artificial sweeteners, is artificial preservative free, gluten-free and non-GMO. It comes in powder form and it comes in four flavors that taste amazing making this a great way to finish off your workout routine.

The clean formulation and excellent ingredient quality make Transparent Labs our top overall pick.

2. Vintage Build

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The clean, focused design of Vintage Build is a nice contrast against other post-workout supplements that throw just about everything short of the kitchen sink into their supplement.

The key ingredients here are branched-chain amino acids, creatine, and L-glutamine for muscle recovery and immune function. Beyond this, the supplement is flavored and colored naturally with stevia and cherry coloring.

3. BSN Amino X

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BSN Amino X is unique in that it’s formulated more towards speed, power, and endurance athletes than for pure strength athletes.

As the name suggests, you’ve got your usual branched chain and regular amino acids, but what makes BSN Amino X special is its inclusion of the buffering agents citrate and sodium bicarbonate.

These can be used by your bloodstream to fight off anaerobic fatigue in the short term, and restoring your body’s stores of these after an intense workout like HIIT training can help improve your performance the next time around.

4. Evlution Recover Mode

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When it comes to post-workout supplements that take a comprehensive approach as opposed to a minimalist approach, nobody does it better than Evlution Recovery Mode.

It has everything you know you need in a post-workout supplement: branched-chain amino acids, regular amino acids, and creatine.

In addition, it has all of the extras you like to see: beta-alanine to boost muscular carnosine content, a robust mix of electrolytes to replace what’s lost in sweat, L-glutamate for better muscle recovery and immune function, and BioPerine to boost absorption.

5. JYM Supplement Science POST

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POST is JYM Supplement Science’s answer to the post workout supplement question. It’s a more comprehensive approach than many of its competitors; it has the basics, like branched chain and regular amino acids.

It also has some cutting edge ingredients like beta-alanine, which can boost your muscular carnosine content, and taurine for extra energy.

To boost absorption, it also includes the proprietary black pepper extract, BioPerine. If you want a complete post-workout supplement that’s optimized for both strength and power, this is an excellent choice.

6. RSP AminoLean Recovery

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RSP’s post-workout supplement provides a solid range of amino acids, plus trace electrolytes lost in sweat, like calcium and magnesium.

It gives you an added recovery and immunity boost thanks to zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D, which makes this a nice pick for athletes training hard in the winter, when infections are common.

The formulation is pretty clean, too, without much in the way of binders or synthetic flavors.

7. Do Vitamins PostPump

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Do Vitamins PostPump is an incredibly clean and focused supplement that provides only the most important building blocks for recovery.

Here’s what’s inside: L-carnitine plus BCAAs for muscle recovery (in a 2:1:1 leucine, isoleucine, valine ratio), creatine for strength and power gains, and betaine for more anaerobic power output.

Beyond that, there are no additional ingredients. While that makes the taste pretty bland, for hardcore purists, this supplement is tough to beat.

8. Legion Recharge

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Legion Recharge is a surprisingly simplistic post workout supplement. Among the active ingredients, all it delivers creatine, L-carnitine, and banaba leaf extract.

A super-simple supplement like this can be nice, but the disappointing thing about Legion Recharge is that there are a lot of unwanted extras like artificial flavoring and several different non-caloric sweeteners.

Despite this downside, it’s still pretty good for those in the minimalist supplement camp.

9. Powerbuild

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Powerbuild delivers a few branched-chain amino acids, beta-alanine for muscular power, and creatine for muscular strength.

It’s also got BioPerine, a.k.a. Black pepper extract, to boost your absorption of the amino acids in the supplement. It’s a little bloated with extras, which knocks it down a few spots in the rankings.

10. Jacked Factory Growth Surge

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Jacked Factory Growth Surge is designed pretty much exclusively for strength athletes. It’s really more of a creatine supplement than anything else; it doesn’t even have a full complement of branched chain amino acids.

While it has BioPerine, there aren’t really enough ingredients for it to boost absorption and bioavailability, so it seems like an afterthought ingredient. On top of this, it’s a bit bloated with artificial ingredients, making it hard to recommend unless taste matters most to you.

Category winners

Best post-workout supplement overall: Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine

Transparent Labs makes a great all-around post-workout supplement thanks to the killer combo of branched-chain amino acids plus glutamine, another potent muscle recovery enhancer. Whether you’re doing a tough HIIT session or lifting heavy, Transparent Labs is hard to beat.

Best post-workout supplement for men: Vintage Build

Men get extra benefits out of the creatine and electrolytes in Vintage Build for extra muscle gains and better rehydration. It’s an obvious choice for men looking for a post-workout supplement.

Best post-workout supplement for women: Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine

For women who are serious about gaining strength and power, Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine is the way to go. It’s an ultra-simple combination of some of the most important components for post-workout recovery: branched chain amino acids and glutamine, both of which promote strength gains and prevent soreness. 

Best post-workout supplement for bodybuilders: Vintage Build

Vintage Build has a few key ingredients for adding muscle mass that you won’t find in run-of-the-mill post-workout supplements, like creatine and glutamine. Plus, thanks to the electrolytes, it’s even a good option for cardio days. 

Best post-workout supplement for athletes: BSN Amino X

If you’re an athlete, you want a post-workout supplement that’s specifically targeted towards enhancing speed, power, and endurance. Enter BSN Amino X, with amino acids, anaerobic power enhancers, and buffering agents. It’s definitely the best option for competitive athletes looking to maximize their recovery.

Best post-workout supplement for sore muscles: Transparent Labs BCAA + Glutamine

If your primary goal is treating or preventing muscle soreness, you want as high of a dose of BCAAs and glutamine as you can manage. Transparent Labs makes a fantastic combo product that’s perfectly suited for fighting post-workout soreness.

Who should buy a post-workout supplement?

If all you do is go to the gym to keep in decent shape, a post-workout supplement probably isn’t necessary, but if you are reading this, chances are you are a serious athlete. Here’s who should consider taking post-workout:

People who work out to improve their peak performance. Since the real key to improving strength, speed, power, endurance, and muscle mass is to do hard training, then recover well afterwards, taking care of your post-workout nutrition is a no-brainer if you are looking for improvement. 

After finishing a workout session, you have damage to your muscle fibers, you’ve sweated out a lot of electrolytes, your body is fatigued from putting out a high amount of power, and your muscle and liver glycogen stores are depleted.

All of these things need should be addressed for getting your recovery optimized after a tough workout session.

Athletes who periodically do very tough training sessions. When going for a one-rep max, getting after it in a HIIT session, or pushing your overall training load to new highs, you should be extra focused on recovery.

A post-workout supplement makes it easy to cover all of your bases after a workout: these supplements feature essential amino acids, branched chain amino acids (aka BCAAs), and other supplements to maximize gains, like creatine or beta alanine.

The right post-workout supplement can boost your recovery, and thus your improvement. Don’t forget, though, that you need to do the hard training first: a post-workout supplement without a solid workout prior is not going to do you much good. 

How we ranked

Separating high-quality post-workout supplements from mediocre and mid-tier offerings is tricky. Here’s how we did it:

Primary focus on compounds proven to boost recovery. Based on a review of the sports science literature, we generated a list of all essential nutrients that are beneficial for workout recovery.

These included essential amino acids, and in particular the branched chain amino acids, for muscle fiber repair; creatine or beta alanine for restoring your body’s anaerobic energy production abilities, and electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat.

If a post-workout supplement didn’t contain at least some of these critical ingredients, we eliminated it from consideration.

Correct dosage was critical. We evaluated the remaining products on their dosage levels, rating highly those that delivered these critical ingredients at efficacious doses, and dropping those that had insufficient doses.

Bonus points for high bioavailability and added extras. From the remaining products, we analyzed the benefits of any additional ingredients beyond the basics. Products that used black pepper extract (a.k.a. piperine) to boost the absorption of key ingredients gained extra points, for example, as did products that had L-glutamine to boost muscle protein synthesis.

Transparent and clean ingredients list. We had a strong preference for products whose ingredients were plain to see, instead of being mixed together in a “proprietary blend.”

Great taste from all-natural flavors. Next up, we looked at the other ingredients. You want a post-workout shake that tastes good, but a product with too much sugar is bad news for your body.

Likewise, we were also looking for products that did not have a lot of artificial colors and flavors. Post-workout supplements that didn’t measure up on either of these fronts got eliminated from the field. Products that used natural sweeteners like stevia scored better and remained in consideration. 

Finally, we looked at the overall purity and quality of the products: anything that was bloated with fillers, binders, and stabilizers got eliminated, leaving us with our final list of the best post workout supplements of the year. 

FAQ

Q: What is a post-workout supplement? 

A: Post-workout supplements are formulations that are specifically designed to boost your body’s recovery following a tough session at the gym.

They include protein as a basic macronutrient to kick-start muscle repair and synthesis, and include specialized ingredients like branched chain amino acids and creatine to make sure your body recovers to a state that’s stronger than before.

Unlike a pre-workout or intra-workout supplement, a post-workout supplement isn’t going to include caffeine or other stimulants to boost your workout performance today. Rather, the intent is to recover well after your training session so you will ultimately be stronger, faster, and more powerful in the future. 

Q: What is the best supplement for muscle recovery? 

A: For boosting muscle recovery, it’s hard to beat a combination of protein, BCAAs, and creatine. The amino acids in protein (plus BCAAs, all of which are essential amino acids) are critical building blocks for repairing muscle fibers and synthesizing new muscle tissue.

On top of that, creatine is one of the most heavily-studied and rigorously proven supplements for boosting muscle growth. Deliver these two in combination, as many top post-workout supplements do, and you have a winning formulation for muscle recovery after challenging workouts. 

Q: What’s the best post-workout supplement for weight loss? 

A: If you are trying to lose weight and maintain workout gains, you have to navigate a narrow path: you obviously need to be in a calorie deficit, but you also want to maintain muscle mass and muscular strength to the greatest degree possible.

Choosing a post-workout supplement that focuses mostly on amino acids and not so much on creatine or total protein content is a good choice, because amino acids will help maintain and repair muscle tissue, but not add too much to your total caloric intake.

You’ll definitely want to avoid post-workout supplements that use sugar for flavoring, since these will add unnecessary carbs to your diet and will make it harder to drop fat mass. You might consider a dedicated weight loss supplement if your goal is to burn off as much fat as possible.

Q: What should you look for in a post-workout recovery shake? 

A: We recommend using a similar process to what our research team did to formulate our rankings. The key ingredients you should be on the lookout for are a source of protein (either a high-quality protein like whey protein or a large amount of individual amino acids), sufficient amounts of all three branched chain amino acids, and possibly beneficial extras like creatine and beta alanine.

Creatine is particularly important if you are looking to maximize strength and muscle mass gains, while beta alanine is most useful for boosting your anaerobic power.

Make sure the post-workout recovery shake that you choose avoids excessive amounts of sugar (opt instead for a natural sweetener like stevia), unless you are explicitly looking for a recovery shake that uses carbs to restore your muscle glycogen. 

Q: What’s the best supplement for muscle building? 

A: For building muscle, you want pretty much the same ingredients as muscle recovery: protein and especially creatine. While creatine helps with muscle recovery, it’s even more important for maximizing muscle building.

Even when your dietary intake of protein is quite high, supplementing with creatine is an effective way to increase your muscle gains even more.

Of course, if you have insufficient protein intake, that should be addressed as well, so don’t forget about protein and amino acid content in a post-workout supplement if you are aiming to build muscle. Without this basic building block, you won’t be able to max out your muscular strength and muscular size gains.

Related articles Pre-workout supplement Intra-workout supplement BCAAs BCAAs for women Protein shake Testosterone booster Glutamine Bulking stack Cutting stack Recap

When you choose the right post workout supplement, you stand a good chance of boosting your body’s ability to recover.

This means that you’ll get a greater benefit from a given workout, and it also means you can push a little harder in your toughest and most challenging workouts because you know that your body’s ability to recover is elevated.

Pretty much all athletes should be on the lookout for branched chain amino acids in their post workout supplement. Athletes focused on raw strength and short-term power (less than ten seconds of effort) should look for creatine as well.

Athletes who need to be able to produce power for anywhere from 60 seconds to several minutes should try to find a post workout supplement that also includes a muscular power booster like beta alanine if they want to fuel up their muscles for optimal performance.

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 post-workout supplement recommendation, click here.

The post 10 best post-workout supplements (2023 update) appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis
11 best vitamin C supplements of 2023

Vitamin C plays an important role in keeping your immune system healthy, but it does far more than that. This essential vitamin also acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, leading to a number of other impactful applications beyond keeping your immune system healthy.

Here are the best vitamin C supplements on the market, ranked. Afterwards, we’ll break down what vitamin C does and how a supplement can benefit your body. Why You Should Trust Us

Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.

At A Glance our top picks for vitamin C supplements Best Overall: DACHA Liposomal Vitamin C Doctor’s Best Vitamin C Best naturally-sourced supplement: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw C Best bulk: Bulk Supplements Vitamin C Best for workout recovery: Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C

Rankings

Last updated: September 29, 2022
Vitamin C supplements considered: 33
Hours of research: 46
Experts reviewed: 11
Scientific papers referenced: 20

IMAGE PRODUCT Best Overall1. DACHA Liposomal Vitamin CUses a unique approach to boosting bioavailability and absorptionProvides over 1000 mg of vitamin C in an easily-absorbed formatA high-dose supplement that’s super simpleView on Amazon → 2. Doctor’s Best Vitamin CProvides 1000 mg of vitamin C in a proprietary form known as Quali-CA simple vitamin C that guarantees its purityHas good quality control in the manufacturing process View on Amazon → Best naturally-sourced supplement3. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw CUses naturally-produced ascorbic acid as the source of vitamin CIncludes a huge range of extracts from fruits and vegetables in their formulaGives you phytonutrients that you won't get in your regular vitaminsView on Amazon → Best bulk 4. Bulk Supplements Vitamin CComes in loose powder formIt is water soluble that you can mix in water, a protein shake, or a smoothieA number one choice if you are looking for bulk vitamin CView on Amazon → Best for workout recovery5. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin CHas a super-simple formulation that delivers 500 mg of vitamin C per doseScores very well on purity testingIs gluten-free and has no preservatives addedView on Amazon → 6. Solaray Vitamin CIt provides 1000 mg of vitamin C in three formsThe tablets actually contain 1060 mg of vitamin C per servingA good choice if you want a slow-release formulaView on Amazon → 7. Now Foods Vitamin CIt helps supports the immune system and also the production of collagenContains 1000 mg of vitamin CManufactured in a soy-free, milk-free, and gluten-free View on Amazon → Best gummy supplement8. New Age Vitamin C GummiesA great gummy vitamin C supplement if you're tired of tablets and capsulesNew Age keeps flavor and texture to a minimum without compromising on the doseVegan-friendly, non-GMO, gluten-freeView on Amazon → 9. Emergen-C Super OrangeComes in a flavored powder in individual packetsHas notable vitamins and minerals in its formula: vitamin B6 and vitamin B12Aimed at boosting your immune systemView on Amazon → 10. Airborne Vitamin CIt’s marketed as a countermeasure against mild illnessHelps to support the immune system with powerful antioxidantsTasty, refreshing, and gluten-freeView on Amazon → 11. Ester-C Vitamin CDelivers 500 mg of vitamin C, along with a 200 mg mixture of citrus fruit extractsInstead of ascorbic acid, it uses a salt form, calcium ascorbateVegetarian and is gentle on the stomachView on Amazon → 1. DACHA Liposomal Vitamin C

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DACHA makes a tremendous vitamin C supplement that uses a unique approach to boosting bioavailability and absorption.

By binding the ascorbic acid (vitamin C’s chemical name) to fat-soluble molecules, DACHA aims to make their vitamin C absorbed more readily by your body, helping it cross through membranes and into your body’s cells.

With over 1000 mg of vitamin C per serving, the dosage is fantastic, too, making it our number one pick of the year.

2. Doctor’s Best Vitamin C

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Doctor’s Best Vitamin C is a pretty standard vitamin C supplement. Sometimes, however, standard is just what you need.

Each capsule provides 1000 mg of vitamin C, in a proprietary form known as Quali-C. There’s nothing fancy about this form; it’s really just ascorbic acid, but the company that supplies it guarantees its purity.

This is reflected in independent lab testing of Doctor’s Best Vitamin C. In analytical assays, its actual vitamin C content comes in at 1070 mg, just seven percent over the label listed amount. This means there is good quality control in the manufacturing process and you’re getting exactly what you pay for.

3. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw C

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Garden of Life uses naturally-produced ascorbic acid as the source for their vitamin C, but they go above and beyond other brands by including a huge range of extracts from fruits and vegetables like broccoli, apple, carrot, bell pepper, and kale.

These ingredients give you phytonutrients you wouldn’t be getting if you just took pure vitamin C. And, at 500 mg of vitamin C per serving, you’re not skimping on dosage, either.

4. Bulk Supplements Vitamin C

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Bulk Supplements is a company that is widely known for their low cost, high quality philosophy. Bulk supplements sells its products in a loose powder form in a simple resealable foil bag, always in a highly purified form without any flavoring agents or adulterants.

That’s the case with their vitamin C supplement too. It’s 100% ascorbic acid—in independent lab testing, it easily lives up to its claim.

The advantage of this is that you can determine exactly how much you need, at what time, and in what format. Since ascorbic acid (the chemical name for vitamin C) is water soluble, you can dissolve the exact amount of vitamin C that you need in water, a protein shake, a smoothie, or pretty much any other liquid you want.

If you don’t mind taking the time to measure out the supplement with a scoop or a scale, Bulk Supplements should be your number one choice if you are looking for bulk vitamin C.

5. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C

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Nature’s Bounty is super-simple formulation that delivers 500 mg of vitamin C per dose.

In terms of other ingredients, the tablet form demands some binders, anti-caking agents, and excipients, so the ingredient list is a bit longer than usual.

However, Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C scores very well on purity testing, with independent analytical testing determining that its actual vitamin C content was within four percent of its label-stated amount.

6. Solaray Vitamin C

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Though it’s not a common brand, Solaray Vitamin C sells surprisingly well online. It provides its 1000 mg of vitamin C in three forms: traditional ascorbic acid, rose hips (an herbal extract rich in vitamin C), and acerola cherry, another fruit rich in vitamin C.

According to independent analytical testing, the tablets actually contain 1060 mg of vitamin C per serving, which is quite good. That’s an error of only six percent.

There’s also no funny business with strange or unnecessary inactive ingredients either, making Solaray Vitamin C a good call if you want a slow release formula.

7. Ester-C Vitamin C

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This vitamin C supplement is unusual because it does not deliver its vitamin C in the standard format of ascorbic acid. Instead, it uses a salt form, calcium ascorbate, which is this company’s patented formulation.

The main benefit of this formulation is that it’s not acidic, which makes it a good niche pick for people with a sensitive stomach.

8. Now Foods C-1000

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Another among the big brands, Now Foods offers supplements starting with just about every letter of the alphabet. Vitamin C is no exception—Now Foods makes a 1000 mg vitamin C tablet that’s standard in most regards.

The purity of the ingredients is average; independent lab testing pegged its true vitamin C content at 928 mg per tablet. Though it’s disappointing to see a number lower than the advertised amount, this is still less than a ten percent difference between label-claimed and actual vitamin C content.

9. New Age Vitamin C Gummies

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Tablets and capsules not your thing? New Age makes a great gummy vitamin C supplement that has a solid dosage and relatively few extraneous ingredients.

Of course, any gummy vitamin requires more ingredients for flavoring and texture, but New Age keeps them to a minimum without compromising much on the dose. As far as gummy-based vitamin C supplements go, it’s easily the best.

10. Emergen-C Super Orange

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Practically a household name by now, Emergen-C comes in a flavored powder in individual packets that you can add to water or another drink to deliver 1000 mg of vitamin C per packet, along with several other vitamins and minerals aimed at boosting your immune system.

The other two notable vitamins and minerals delivered in major quantities in Emergen-C are vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. These are included in amounts of 10 mg (500% of your recommended daily intake) and 25 mcg (417% of recommended daily intake).

Because of this sugar, Emergen-C is not a good choice for a daily vitamin C supplement. As an occasional supplement to use if you get a cold, though, it should do its job.

Category winners

Best vitamin C supplement overall: DACHA Liposomal Vitamin C

DACHA makes a unique vitamin C supplement that’s designed to make the vitamin C fat-soluble. This means potentially quicker absorption and better bioavailability, garnering our top overall spot. 

Best vitamin C supplement for immune function: DACHA Liposomal Vitamin C

To boost immune function with vitamin C, your best shot is a high-dose supplement that’s super simple. That’s why we chose DACHA, which provides over 1000 mg of vitamin C in an easily-absorbed format.

Best vitamin C supplement for workout recovery: Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C

For optimal workout recovery, you don’t want the dose to be too high—otherwise you might override your body’s natural inflammation-based adaptation. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C, with 500 mg of vitamin C per capsule, is a nice compromise. 

Best naturally-sourced vitamin C supplement: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw C

Garden of Life has made a name for itself as the best source for micronutrients in their natural form, and that’s exactly what you get with Vitamin Code Raw C. With yeast-produced vitamin C and extracts from a dizzying array of fruits and vegetables, you get a host of phytonutrients alongside the vitamin C. 

Best bulk vitamin C: Bulk Supplements Vitamin C

If you’re mixing up your own protein shakes, smoothies, or meal replacements, and need a good source of vitamin C, the ultra-pure bulk powder from Bulk Supplements is a clear winner. 

Best gummy vitamin C supplement: New Age Vitamin C Gummies

Gummy supplements usually mean low dosage and lots of artificial flavors and colors, but New Age does a good job of keeping the dosage high (250 mg per serving) and using only natural flavors and color from paprika.

Who should buy vitamin C?

You should buy vitamin C if you are looking for a simple, straightforward, and effective anti-inflammatory supplement that is very well-researched and has a broad range of applications. The best applications for vitamin C include:

Boosting the function of your immune system. Vitamin C is used used in a wide range of biological processes, but its most well-known application is still boosting the function of your immune system. Vitamin C is a common remedy for colds and other upper respiratory infections, and many of our top-rated supplements are engineered specifically for this purpose. 

Reducing muscle damage and soreness. Because vitamin C fights inflammation, it can be useful for soothing sore, painful muscles after tough workouts. Though there’s some concern this use could dampen the training adaptation you get, it’s a good tool to have at your disposal for when recovery matters more than adaptation, like during a multi-day competition or event.

People who want to protect their cognitive function as they get older. Like many other antioxidants, one highly researched potential application of vitamin C is protecting the brain from aging-related decline. Compared to other applications of vitamin C, this one is less well-understood.

How we ranked

With a straightforward supplement like vitamin C, simplicity, purity, and proper dosage are the name of the game. When formulating our rankings, we aggregated all of the supplements on the market that prominently feature vitamin C and used the following criteria.

Focus on vitamin C’s antioxidant capabilities. We dropped supplements that only incidentally included vitamin C alongside other biologically active supplemental ingredients (say, vitamin E for example).

Our reasoning here was to give you as much control as possible over the dosage and balance of all of the supplements you are taking.

Naturally-sourced vitamin C, potentially alongside phytonutrients. To make sure our vitamin C supplements were the most versatile and flexible options out there, we checked the sourcing of the vitamin C, and gave extra points to supplements like Garden of Life that included vitamin C alongside phytonutrients that naturally accompany vitamin C in citrus fruits.

High purity and high dosage. We aimed for highly pure products that delivered 500-1000 mg of vitamin C per capsule, and rewarded brands that used independent lab testing to verify their purity.

We also included powder-based vitamin C supplements for people who want precise control over their vitamin C intake, or who want to mix vitamin C into a protein shake or smoothie.

Here, BulkSupplements was the clear winner on all fronts, so it was the only powder-based product we included in the rankings.

Versatile delivery options. Finally, we accounted for the fact that some people (particularly children) don’t like or aren’t able to swallow standard vitamin C tablets. For these people, we made sure to include dissolvable or chewable gummy-based vitamin C.

While these products required some sacrifices on the purity front, it’s nevertheless a niche that needs to be filled. The lower purity of these supplements explains why they ended up closer to the bottom of our rankings.

FAQ

Q: What is vitamin C?

A: Vitamin C is a simple molecule that is one of the oldest known vitamins. It functions as an antioxidant in your body, which means that it takes advantage of its molecular structure to absorb free radicals, which cause chemical chain reactions and damage the cells of your body.

Vitamin C can capture these free radicals, halting these damaging chain reactions and preventing cellular damage. Maintaining high levels of vitamin C is important for everything from your immune system to your eyesight, highlighting the broad importance of this simple nutrient.

Q: How does vitamin C help your body?

A: Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for everything from immune function to maintaining eyesight. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, and helps capture free radicals and prevent them from causing damage to your body’s cells.

It’s also beneficial for high level athletes in certain circumstances, as research shows it may be able to help reduce or prevent muscle soreness, and prevent infection and illness after extremely demanding workouts.

Q: What does vitamin C do for your skin?

A: Vitamin C, as you know by now, is a powerful antioxidant, which means that it can prevent damage incurred by free radicals and oxidizing agents in your body.

One area of your body that suffers to a significant degree from oxidative damage is your skin: the ultraviolet light in sunlight creates free radicals, which damage skin cells, destroy the collagen matrix that holds skin cells together, and cause aging of your skin.

One potential solution to this is to prevent or perhaps even reverse this oxidative damage with a strong antioxidant like vitamin C. It turns out that this is indeed a good solution for keeping your skin young, radiant, and healthy, but the most effective way to deliver vitamin C to your skin isn’t through a tablet—it’s through a vitamin C serum.

These supplements are topical solutions that deliver vitamin C directly to the areas of skin that you care about, such as your face, neck, shoulders, and chest. Though the supplement that delivers it is different, the mechanism of action is exactly the same.

Q: How long does vitamin C stay in your system?

A: Vitamin C has an extraordinary ability to stay in your body for a long time—unlike other supplements, which may only last for a few hours, small to medium doses of vitamin C can last inside your body for eight to 40 days, depending on the person.

This is likely because your body is adapted to storing and using vitamin C for long periods of time without fruit or vegetable consumption, from hardships earlier in human history.

Given how important vitamin C is for maintaining health, it makes sense that your body would have a mechanism for maintaining high levels of vitamin C even with sparse or intermittent intake.

The very long elimination half life of vitamin C suggests that you don’t need to be perfect with your vitamin C intake to maintain high levels of vitamin C in your body.

Related articles Vitamin C serum Vitamin E Vitamin D Antioxidants Eye vitamins Iron Calcium Recap

Vitamin C may not have the massive and long-lasting health benefits that some early researchers had hoped for, but it does have some specific niche applications in supplementation.

For high-level athletes, vitamin C could help prevent muscle soreness after particularly tough workouts, and could help prevent illness after arduous competitions as well.

Some evidence suggests that vitamin C supplementation could be associated with a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, though research to date is not conclusive.

Vitamin C is quite safe, with no side effects up to doses of 2000 mg per day. Most research uses a daily dose of 500 to 1000 mg per day, though some research has found benefits with doses as low as 100 mg per day.

Though many people get sufficient vitamin C in their diet, some might benefit from supplementation for specific, additional benefits and niche uses.

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 vitamin C recommendation, click here.

The post 11 best vitamin C supplements of 2023 appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis
10 top fat burners for women (2023 update)

With naturally higher levels of body fat, plus lower levels of testosterone and lean muscle mass, women have an especially hard time staying lean.

The right fat burning supplement can make this process much easier. However, the quality of a supplement is going to be the key determining factor when it comes to whether it will help you cut fat, look leaner, and feel stronger.

While there’s no shortcut to burning off excess fat, the right supplement can make the task a lot easier. All else equal, with a good fat burning supplement, women can augment their natural fat burning abilities so they can not just look leaner and healthier, but be leaner and healthier.

Our research team tested the best fat burners for women. Here are our top picks. Why You Should Trust Us

Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.

At A Glance our top picks for fat burners for women Best overall: LeanBean Best for women over 40: Hourglass Best for women for rapid weight loss: Powher Phen24 Transparent Labs Fat Burner

Rankings

Last updated: September 29, 2022
Fat burners considered: 25
Hours of research: 46
Experts reviewed: 10
Scientific papers referenced: 18
IMAGE PRODUCT BEST OVERALL1. LeanBeanEndorsed by Instagram models to fitness gurusIt accelerates fat metabolism without overloading on caffeineA combination of thermogenic like green coffee bean extract and green tea extract, and the appetite suppressant and fat burning effects of cayenne pepper extractView Latest Price → Best for women over 402. HourglassDesigned to be a female-friendly formulaComposed of cayenne pepper delivers an impressive metabolism boostHas a highly-tested appetite suppressant, glucomannan, which is a key part of any women’s fat burnerView Latest Price → Best for women for rapid weight loss3. PowherBoosts energy during exerciseStrong focus on appetite suppression, with glucomannan being the flagship ingredientSupports normal fat metabolismView Latest Price → 4. Phen24Delivers a unique combination to achieve weight loss 24-hours a dayLets you rest easy while still burning fat in the eveningsBoosts your metabolic functionView Latest Price → 5. Transparent Labs Fat BurnerAn energy rich thermogenic matrix that will increase your caloric burnNon-stimulant metabolism support that targets tricky belly fatAppetite and mood support so that you can stay consistentView Latest Price → 6. Evlution LeanmodeFocuses on burning fat directlyUp-regulating your body’s cellular metabolismComes without excessive caffeine and is Gluten freeView on Amazon → 7. Burn XTExtremely versatile fat burnerHas a solid combination of appetite suppressants, fat burners, and key vitaminsHelps loose weight and keeps it from coming backView on Amazon → 8. Nutratech AtrafenHelps to keep control of your stress-induced binge eatingIncludes ingredients that will boost your energy levels, improve your mood and mental focusGreat appetite suppressantView on Amazon → 9. Envy Nutrition Night Time Fat BurnerFat burner that is stimulant-freeWorks while you are sleeping and you will wake up feeling refreshedContains essential proteins that will make you feel full longerView on Amazon → 10. RSP QuadraleanAppetite suppresant but will still boost your energy throughout the dayHelps you stay focused inside and outside the gymOptimal fat burning View on Amazon →

1. LeanBean

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With the ringing endorsement of everyone from Instagram models to fitness gurus, LeanBean is the trendiest fat burner for women.

We like these testimonials from LeanBean users:

It uses a combination of thermogenics like green coffee bean extract and green tea extract, along with the satiating power of glucomannan and the appetite suppressant and fat burning effects of cayenne pepper extract.

These premium ingredients combined make it our overall winner.

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2. Hourglass

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Although new to the scene, Hourglass fat burner has been well received and is making a real splash in the supplement industry. It’s backed by a range of testimonials, and it is specifically designed to be a female-friendly formula.

The creators at Propura have gone for a stimulant-free approach, using powerful thermogenics like cayenne pepper to deliver an impressive metabolism boost. It also provides a range of vitamins to support your overall health.

On top of that, they’ve used a highly-tested appetite suppressant, glucomannan, which is a key part of any women’s fat burner – especially if you often give in to cravings.

Hourglass is a great supplement, with great ingredients, and backed by great research. It’s one of our favorite fat burners for women.

3. Powher

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Powher is a brand-new supplement engineered specifically to be a fat burner for women.

It’s a new supplement that has a strong focus on appetite suppression, with glucomannan being the flagship ingredient.

Food safety authorities in Europe published a review of this ingredient. Here’s what they said:

“At least 3 g of glucomannan should be consumed daily in three doses of at least 1 g each, together with 1-2 glasses of water before meals, in the context of an energy-restricted diet.”

And guess what? This is the exact amount contained in a daily dose of Powher, and each daily dose is split into three capsules.

The formula also includes choline, chromium picolinate, magnesium, selenium, and iron: all ingredients with their own solid weight loss credentials. They will underpin the appetite suppressing effects of glucomannan with a boosted metabolism, and topped up energy levels.

All in all, this solidly belongs among the best fat burners for women.

4. Phen24

Phen 24

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Phen24 delivers a unique combination to achieve weight loss 24-hours a day by giving you two different pills. One that you take during the day, and one that you take at night.

The day pill increases metabolism, boosts energy, and burns calories… while the night pill increases your nighttime metabolism, reduces food cravings, and promotes better sleep.

Plus, only the day pill contains caffeine… meaning that you can rest easy while still burning fat in the evenings!

5. Transparent Labs Fat Burner

Fat Burner

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Transparent Labs has created a truly research-based fat burner designed to produce measurable results alongside consistent dieting.

There is no ‘magic’ in the Transparent Labs formula, only science that you’ll find laid out in the ingredient formula.

An energy rich thermogenic matrix that will increase your caloric burn? Check. Non-stimulant metabolism support that targets tricky belly fat? Check. Appetite and mood support so that you can stay consistent? Check.

All that is on you is proper meal timing, sleep, and workout routine. Let Fat Burner take care of the rest.

6. Evlution Leanmode

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Evlution Leanmode focuses on burning fat directly, by up-regulating your body’s cellular metabolism.

It accomplishes this with a combo of green tea extract, garcinia cambogia, and CLA–all highly touted fat burners. All of this comes without excessive caffeine, which is great to see.

7. Burn XT

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Lean XT is an extremely versatile fat burner that’s got a solid combination of appetite suppressants, fat burners, and key vitamins. It uses green tea extract and cayenne pepper, but watch out – it has a solid 130 mg of caffeine per capsules. 

8. Nutratech Atrafen

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Atrafen is uses raspberry ketone, African Mango, green tea extract, and caffeine for most of its fat-burning power.

While these are effective ingredients, the exact caffeine content is difficult to determine since the ingredients are all blended in a proprietary formula, which makes it lose points in our rankings.

9. Envy Nutrition Night Time Fat Burner

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Fat burners that are stimulant-free are hard to come by, but Envy Nutrition makes a pretty solid one. Instead of using caffeine, it amps up your fat loss with carb blockers, and sleep enhancers, plus a high dose of vitamin D.

10. RSP Quadralean

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RSP Quadralean is a very powerful fat burner, but it relies heavily on a combination of stimulants like caffeine, bitter orange extract, and yohimbe bark extract.

Not the best idea for long term success, especially given that a lot of women using fat burners for getting toned are already fairly small. A 200 mg dose of caffeine would leave them and many others jittery and sleepless.

Category winners

Best fat burner for women overall: LeanBean

LeanBean takes our top spot thanks to its careful formulation that combines fat burning effects from supplements like chromium and green coffee bean extract with powerful appetite suppressants like glucomannan. It’s a versatile, powerful, and effective fat burner, earning it our top spot.

Best fat burner for women over 40: Hourglass

Hourglass is a great option for women over 40 thanks to its balanced approach to burning fat.

Instead of using stimulants, Hourglass targets multiple aspects of fat metabolism simultaneously, with ingredients ranging from neurotransmitters like 5-HTP to the fat oxidizer cayenne pepper extract. 

Best fat burner for female athletes: LeanBean

LeanBean works for athletes because it accelerates fat metabolism without overloading on caffeine and other stimulants like some of the lower-quality competition.

Thanks to its balanced design, female athletes can train confidently while taking LeanBean to accelerate their fat metabolism. 

Best stimulant-free fat burner for women: Hourglass

Tired of fat burning supplements that are overloaded with caffeine? Hourglass is a perfect alternative. Instead of using caffeine to jack up your metabolic rate, Hourglass uses cutting-edge supplements like 5-HTP, chromium, konjac root, and cayenne pepper to oxidize more fat. For a stimulant-free fat burner, there’s no better option out there.  

Best fat burner with appetite suppressants for women: LeanBean

For maximum weight loss efficiency, you want to target both energy intake and energy expenditure. Leanbean does a great job of this by pairing classic fat burning ingredients like chromium and green coffee bean extract with glucomannan, a fiber-based supplement that suppresses appetite and supports healthy gut bacteria. 

Best fat burner for women for rapid weight loss: Powher

Powher uses a potent range of fat burning ingredients, ranging from coffee-derived caffeine to minerals like chromium and selenium, to accelerate lipid metabolism.

On top of that, it includes glucomannan to suppress hunger cravings. This two-pronged attack makes it perfect for women looking to shed pounds fast.

Who should buy a fat burner for women?

Women looking to improve their body composition: Women who want a leaner physique are the obvious candidates for a fat burner for women.

These supplements are specifically formulated for female physiology, so they target the hormonal makeup that makes it tougher for women to drop fat.

(Men looking to burn fat should check out men’s fat burner instead).

Women who are sensitive to stimulants in general-purpose weight loss pills: Because of interactions between estrogen and stimulants, women can be more sensitive to some traditional ingredients in weight loss supplements, such as caffeine.

A good fat burner specifically for women keeps the stimulant content low, and pairs it with ingredients like theanine which help combat the negative side effects of caffeine. 

Female Athletes looking to cut fat and retain muscle. If you’re a female athlete looking to get lean for a competition without losing muscle, a fat burner for women might give you the edge you need.

Since fat burners for women specific target fat oxidation, they help preserve strength and give you a more effective cut.

How we ranked

The market for weight loss products for women is enormous, so our research team culled the options with a series of strict requirements. 

Safe and effective ingredients only: We cut out anything that had compounds associated with serious side effects, like ephedra-related derivatives and synephrine.

These ingredients have been associated with heart palpitations and other potentially serious issues, so we dropped products like Hydroxycut that relied on these compounds.

Effective ingredients beyond just caffeine: While caffeine is a potent fat burner, too many low-quality supplements rely almost totally on a high dose caffeine buzz for their efficacy.

The result? Anxiety, jitters, and suboptimal weight loss results. This approach didn’t cut it for the products we ranked.

Transparent, quality ingredients: We penalized supplements that hid most or all of their ingredients in a proprietary blend.

Products like HighMark Nutrition Women’s Fat Burner didn’t make the cut for exactly this reason.

No fillers: Lots of fat burners for women are packed full of artificial coloring agents, fillers, and stabilizers, usually because they are trying to market a trendy-looking (and usually hot pink or purple) capsule.

Products bloated with these kinds of useless additives got dropped. 

Proven effective ingredients: Finally, we focused specifically on proven compounds that actually burn fat.

General weight loss aids, like psyllium husk or other types of fiber, as well as appetite suppressants and carb blockers like white kidney bean, were not our priority.

We required at least three proven fat burners in the ingredients list, like green tea extract, cayenne pepper, and chromium.

The presence of these effective fat burners is why supplements like Leanbean, Powher, and Hourglass ended up at the top of our rankings.

Benefits

The right fat burner can shed fat without dietary restriction. You might think that weight loss is a simple calories in / calories out equation, but the reality is a lot more complicated.

A good fat burner can increase fat oxidation and decrease body fat, even with no dietary changes (1). How? Boosting your metabolic rate, and increasing your body’s reliance on stored fat.

Fat burning supplements can increase your metabolic rate. A blunt but effective way to do this is simply to increase energy expenditure. This is what stimulants like caffeine achieve: a higher rate of “burn,” meaning more energy expenditure (2).

More sophisticated formulations can increase the proportion of your caloric expenditure that comes from fat. 

Effective fat burner ingredients like green coffee bean extract and green tea extract do more than just turn up your metabolic rate: they actually increase the percent of your energy that comes from stored fat. 

What’s remarkable about this strategy is that it works synergistically with more general metabolic rate increases from something like caffeine (3)–so the combined fat loss is more than you’d expect from the two ingredients separately. 

Fat burners with green tea extract can help women shed waist and hip fat. Wondering why so many of our top products use green tea extract? Our research showed it’s among the best fat burners out there.

For example, a study of 240 people in Japan showed that high dosage green tea supplements leads to significant decreases in body fat–especially from the waist and the hips (4).

Fat burners can amplify the benefits of appetite suppressants. While appetite suppressants don’t burn fat directly, they can interact synergistically with fat burning ingredients, making them a good complimentary ingredient for a fat burner for women.

What kind of ingredients suppress appetite? Conjugated linoleic acid  is a great one with proven clinical efficacy (5).

Glucomannan is another proven ingredient, used in some of our top-rated fat burners for women (6).

Neurotransmitters like 5-HTP are also great for the same reason (7).

Side effects

As you might imagine, altering your body’s metabolic balance is not without some risk of side effects. Here’s what to look out for.

Some thermogenics can cause heart problems. Some compounds used in low-quality weight loss supplements like ephedra and synephrine can cause severe adverse effects, including heart problems (8).

Similar concerns have been raised about bitter orange peel extract, also known as citrus aurantium (9, 10).

Fortunately, you won’t find this ingredient in the top-ranked fat burners for women.

Caffeine can cause jitters, sleeplessness, and irritation. Caffeine’s side effects are well-known, but many women don’t realize that caffeine is present in many fat burners.

Caffeine is an effective fat burner, but if you’re caffeine-sensitive, you shouldn’t take a stimulant-based fat burner for women later in the day (11).

Women on hormonal contraceptives are particularly vulnerable to caffeine’s negative effects. Hormonal contraceptives significantly increase the elimination half-life of caffeine (12).

In other words, if you take hormonal contraceptives, it takes much longer for your body to remove caffeine from your bloodstream–hence, longer and more significant side effects.

Glucomannan and CLA have pretty mild side effect profiles: just fullness and mild GI symptoms. Unlike stimulants, compounds that modulate feelings of satiety tend to be pretty well-tolerated, save for occasional cases of gas or bloating.

Women who are pregnant should not take a fat burner. Compared to prescription drugs, supplemental ingredients in fat burners for women are less well-studied, particularly in pregnant women, so if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you shouldn’t take a fat burning supplement.

Recommended dose

Though dosing depends on the specific product that you choose, when it comes to fat burners for women, there are a few key ingredients that have pretty well-established optimal doses.

Green tea: at least 150 of catechins or 400-800 mg total extract. These are the active ingredient in green tea, and this dosage level is typical in research (13)

Green coffee bean extract: at least 200 mg per day. Again, this number comes from research into green coffee bean extract’s efficacy, which indicates that 200-600 mg per day maximizes benefits (14).

For synergistic ingredient blends, quality nutritional teams do a better job getting ratios right. When it comes to taking into account the complex interaction between ingredients, you’ll have to rely on the abilities of the nutritionists who formulate fat burners for women—especially because you generally can’t mix and match.

Fortunately, our top-ranked fat burners for women all tackle this problem well, providing ingredients in a synergistic way to optimize fat oxidation and increase thermogenesis.

FAQ

Q: What are fat burner pills?

A: Fat burner pills are supplements that are designed to increase the rate at which your body burns fat. There are two ways to do this: boosting thermogenesis, and boosting fat oxidation. 

Thermogenics elevate your body’s overall metabolic rate, while fat oxidizers increase your body’s reliance on fat for energy.

A good fat burner for women uses both mechanisms to maximize fat loss.

Q: What is the safest fat burner for women?

A: When it comes to safety, your best bet is a fat burner that doesn’t rely too heavily on stimulants. Our favorites on this front include LeanBean and Hourglass, which don’t rely solely on caffeine for their benefits. 

Q: Do fat burners really work?

A: Yes, several supplements have been found to be effective at helping you lose fat.

Some compounds, like caffeine, green tea extract, and green coffee bean extract, are known to increase your body’s rate of fat oxidation (15).

Others, like CLA, white kidney bean extract, and glucomannan, operate by reducing appetite, which in turn means you eat less and burn more stored fat for energy (16).

Q: Can fat burners for women be dangerous?

A: There are certain compounds that you’ll sometimes see in fat burners for women that can be dangerous.

Ephedra is a classic example: alongside its herbal form of ma huang. It can cause serious side effects like heart arrhythmias (17), and as a result, products containing ephedra were pulled from the market.

However, you’ll still see some fat burners that contain derivatives or chemical cousins of ephedra, like synephrine and bitter orange peel (18). If you’re safety-conscious, it’s better to avoid these compounds.

Q: What’s the best stimulant-free fat burner for women?

A: Not interested in a fat burner with stimulants? Hourglass is our research team’s favorite on this front. Its formulation relies on nonstimulant compounds like cayenne pepper that boost fat oxidation without keeping you up all night.

Q: How should you choose a fat burning supplement for women?

A: When choosing a fat burning supplement, there are a few key questions you can ask yourself to narrow down your options.

Caffeine: yes or no? While we’ve eliminated the heavily-caffeinated supplements from our rankings, some of our products do contain caffeine because it is a very effective fat burner in low to moderate doses.

If you are going to take your fat burner in the morning or early afternoon, then caffeine is a good option, but if you’re caffeine-sensitive, lean towards a stimulant-free option like Hourglass.

Fat oxidation only, or add in appetite suppression? Some supplements are laser-focused on oxidizing fat. These are great for athletes who have their macros dialed in and want to melt off extra fat.

Other products, like Powher, mix fat oxidizers with appetite suppressants, which help with overall weight loss.

Ingredient synergy. For best results, look for ingredients that interact with one another, like green tea extract and caffeine, or fat oxidizers and metabolism upregulators.

Q: When should you take a fat burner?

A: There are two optimal times to take a fat burner for women during the day: right away in the morning, and right before bed. However, there are some important caveats to these recommendations.

You definitely don’t want to take a fat burner before bed if it contains caffeine, as it could substantially disrupt your sleep. Save these fat burners for the morning so they can kick-start your metabolism.

Conversely, some fat burners designed to be taken at night include melatonin or other sleep aids, and shouldn’t be taken during the day, since they’ll throw off your circadian rhythm.

Q: What is a good natural fat burner?

A: Green tea extract and green coffee bean extract are both great all-natural fat burners: they’re nothing more than a concentrated form of the same exact chemicals you’d get in a cup of green tea or from unroasted coffee beans.

Fiber-based compounds like glucomannan and psyllium husk are also great all-natural compounds that have an extremely good safety profile.

If you aren’t up to taking the most sophisticated chemical compounds from the lab, you can still get excellent results by sticking to all-natural fat burners.

Related articles How to lose weight while working from home Diet pills for women Thermogenics Weight loss pills Natural weight loss supplement Weight loss tips Fat burners for men Carb blocker Recap

The ideal fat burning solution is a supplement that capitalizes on both fat oxidation and metabolism regulation.

The key ingredients you should look for are green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, glucomannan, and cayenne pepper–all proven effective for burning off fat.

These can be combined with low to moderate doses of caffeine, as well as an appetite suppressant like glucomannan, conjugated linoleic acid, or white kidney bean extract.

A quality fat burning supplement can make a real difference when it comes to getting leaner, fitter, and more toned, so make sure you choose a good one. 

For BodyNutrition’s #1 fat burner for women, click here.

The post 10 top fat burners for women (2023 update) appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- John Davis
Ranking the best fat burners for men of 2023

Men have a hard time cutting fat, especially around the stomach.

Many men use a daily fat burner for men to help melt belly fat for a leaner, more muscular physique.

When extra weight is stored as fat, the only way to get rid of it is by burning it.

Diet and exercise help, but a fat burning supplement might be able to increase your fat metabolism beyond what you’d otherwise be able to achieve.

These fat-burning supplements can kick-start your weight loss and help you both look better and feel healthier health.

Want to find the right fat burner for you? Check out our rankings of the best fat burners on the market right now. Why You Should Trust Us

Our advisory panel and our research team rank the best health products and supplements based on performance, label accuracy, and the efficacy of the ingredients in the products.

At A Glance our top picks for fat burners for men Best overall: Instant Knockout PhenQ Burn XT Best for men over 40: Hunter Burn Best for men with testosterone boosters: CrazyBulk Cutting Stack

Rankings

Last updated: September 29, 2022
Fat burners considered: 24
Hours of research: 43
Experts reviewed: 8
Scientific papers referenced: 15
IMAGE PRODUCT BEST OVERALL1. Instant KnockoutUsed by several professional MMA fightersAll-natural ingredients and effectiveIt is composed of green tea extract, cayenne pepper, glucomannan, caffeine, zinc, chromium, green coffee bean, and piperineView Latest Price → 2. PhenQGenerates thermogenesis using a synergistic blend of powerful ingredientsIt has a small amount of black pepper extract added for maximum bioavailability and has added fillersHigh-powered blend and excellent purityView Latest Price → 3. Burn XTSolid thermogenic that’s formulated to boost your energy levels as wellEach capsule contains an effective dose of the most powerful fat-burning ingredients availableNo artificial fillersView Latest Price → Best for men over 404. Hunter BurnDesigned to be a premium fat burner for the most ambitious menAll-natural ingredients Combination of top-quality ingredients and careful dosageView Latest Price → Best for men with testosterone boosters5. CrazyBulk Cutting StackFour-packed supplements It contains everything you need to cut fat and build muscle at the same timeGreat for caffeine-sensitive peopleView Latest Price → 6. Evlution LeanmodeNice pick for caffeine-sensitive peopleIt focuses on extracts that up-regulate your body’s fat burning capabilities without keeping you awakeAll ingredients are effective weight loss supplements in their own rightView on Amazon → 7. Old School Labs Vintage BurnComposed of raspberry ketones, green tea extract, forskolin, and garcinia CambogiaIt increases your energy and focusesPure and clean supplements View on Amazon → 8. Lean XTA great choice if you want to keep things simpleFocuses on three key ingredients: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, green tea extract, and forskolinBlack pepper extract BioPerine is present to enhance absorption and bioavailability of the other ingredientsView on Amazon → 9. Genius BurnIt uses some more cutting-edge supplements instead of the proven mainstaysIt doesn’t rely on caffeine as a crutch to burn more energyHave 9 natural ingredients that support both brain health and fat lossView on Amazon → 10. Performix SST V2XCombination of a megadose of B12 for energy and leveragesCombined thermogenic effects of caffeine, theacrine, and capsaicinIt’s got some more advanced ingredients like ginger extract and MCTsView on Amazon → 11. Cellucor Super HDCombination of a strong dose of B vitamins and over a dozen different extracts and supplementsBlends of powerful fat burners, like Yohimbe, cayenne pepper, and Huperzine AMetabolism and energy boosterView on Amazon →

1. Instant Knockout

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Instant Knockout is a super-popular men’s fat burner that’s been taking over the industry.

The formula was originally engineered to help MMA fighters melt fat before their fights. Several professional MMA fighters take the supplement, including Diego Sanchez and his training coach Greg Jackson.

We love Instant Knockout because it’s been proven to work (many times over) and the ingredients are all-natural and effective: green tea extract, cayenne pepper, glucomannan, caffeine, zinc, chromium, green coffee bean and piperine.

Definitely a loaded mix.

The result? Testimonials like this:

Worth adding to the daily routine for any man wanting to shed more fat.

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2. PhenQ

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PhenQ generates thermogenesis using a synergistic blend of powerful ingredients like caffeine (150 mg), carnitine, capsicum, niacin, and chromium, along with some cutting edge ingredients you won’t find anywhere else, like nopal and alpha-lacy.

It also has a small amount of black pepper extract added for maximum bioavailability, and has added fillers.

The high-powered blend and the excellent purity make it a great choice for men looking to burn off excess body fat. Many of these ingredients also double as appetite suppressants, further increasing PhenQ’s versatility for men trying to cut fat. 

3. Burn XT

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Burn XT is a solid thermogenic that’s formulated to boost your energy levels as well.

The proof? Users love it: It’s got over 30,000,000 servings sold to date.

Each capsule contains an effective dose of the most powerful fat-burning ingredients available (green tea, caffeine, bioperene, etc)

No artificial fillers either, making this a perfect choice for a focused fat burner.

4. Hunter Burn

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Hunter Burn was designed to be a premium fat burner for the most ambitious men.

The creators have cut down the number of ingredients and spread them across six capsules a day to deliver a sustained boost to your body’s fat oxidation.

Each ingredient is all-natural and has been proven to support weight loss in a wide range of scientific studies.

Their fantastic formula is packed with the appetite suppressing glucomannan (which is delivered in as high a dose as is scientifically recommended), matcha green tea (proven to be more potent than normal green tea), white kidney bean (a natural carb blocker), and the thermogenic cayenne pepper.

The combination of top-quality ingredients and careful dosage makes this one of the most effective fat burners for men available today.

4. CrazyBulk Cutting Stack

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CrazyBulk Cutting Stack is a four-pack of supplements designed to mirror the benefits of steroids and androgen like testosterone.

This multi-supplement stack contains everything you need to cut fat and build muscle at the same time.

With natural compounds like carnitine and guarana plus herbal extracts like wild yam, yohimbe, and the natural testosterone precursor DHEA, CrazyBulk has definitely done their homework when it comes to biologically active ingredients that can boost muscle gain and promote fat loss.

Notably, the stack does not lean heavily on caffeine for its thermogenic properties, making it great for people who are caffeine-sensitive. The wide range of ingredients make this one of our top-performing picks for men looking to drop their body fat percentage.

5. Evlution Leanmode

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Evlution Leanmode a nice pick for caffeine-sensitive people who still want a strong fat-burning supplement.

It focuses on extracts that up-regulate your body’s fat burning capabilities without keeping you awake, and all of its active ingredients are effective weight loss supplements in their own right.

6. Old School Labs Vintage Burn

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Despite the name, Vintage Burn has got all the latest supplements in it: raspberry ketones, green tea extract, forskolin, and garcinia cambogia, just to name a few.

On top of that, it’s got a few ingredients that haven’t hit it big yet, like olive leaf extract, so nutritionists might be are onto something with these sleeper ingredients.

7. Lean XT

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If you want to keep things simple, Lean XT is a great choice. It focuses its efforts on only three key ingredients: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, green tea extract, and forskolin.

The proprietary black pepper extract BioPerine is present too, but that’s just to enhance absorption and bioavailability of the other ingredients.

8. Genius Burn

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If mainstream fat burners aren’t doing the trick for you, give Genius Burn a try.

It uses some more cutting-edge supplements instead of the proven mainstays, and it doesn’t rely on caffeine as a crutch to burn more energy.

9. Performix SST V2X

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Performix combines a megadose of B12 for energy and leverages the combined thermogenic effects of caffeine, theacrine, and capsaicin to propel its fat-burning formulation.

It’s got some more advanced ingredients too, like ginger extract and MCTs, but as these are part of a proprietary blend, it’s hard to put too much weight on their efficacy.

10. Cellucor Super HD

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Cellucor Super HD combines a strong dose of B vitamins with a proprietary blend of over a dozen different extracts and supplements.

While this blend includes some powerful fat burners, like yohimbe, cayenne pepper, and Huperzine A, the proprietary blend makes it tough to determine if these ingredients are delivered at an effective dose. 

Category winners

Best fat burner for men overall: Instant Knockout

Instant Knockout boasts a veritable who’s who of the best natural fat burners out there, including cayenne pepper, caffeine, green coffee bean extract, and green tea extract. There’s no other option on the market that offers such a wide variety of efficacious ingredients.

Best fast-acting fat burner for men: Instant Knockout

Given its history as a weight cut enhancer for MMA fighters, Instant Knockout is perfect if you want to burn fat as fast as possible—its fat oxidation properties are top of the line. 

Best fat burner for men with testosterone boosters: CrazyMass Cutting Stack

CrazyMass Cutting Stack is specifically designed to accelerate fat loss by sustaining high levels of testosterone. Alongside its Testosteroxn blend, you also get supplement combos for increasing fat oxidation while retaining as much muscle mass as possible. 

Best fat burner for men over 40: Hunter Burn

Hunter Burn takes a head-on approach to address some of the unique problems men over 40 face when it comes to losing fat. Hunter Burn includes natural carb blockers to counter increased carb sensitivity, matcha green tea to amp up fat oxidation, and cayenne pepper to increase your body’s baseline metabolic rate. 

Best fat burner for men who work out: Click here for the lowest price

PhenQ’s unique combination of thermogenics helps you amplify the natural fat burning effects of your workout, plus tamp down on your appetite after long gym sessions. This keeps your caloric consumption low and your caloric expenditure high, which is exactly what you need to cut fat. 

Best fat burner for men with belly fat: Hunter Burn

Tired of a beer gut? Hunter Burn’s combination of fat oxidizers and carb blockers can put you on the fast track to shaving off pounds of fat, especially when it comes to your visceral fat—i.e. the unhealthy fat that concentrates around your belly. 

Who should buy a fat burner for men?

There are two main groups of men who can benefit from a fat burner.

Regular guys looking to accelerate their weight loss. These men likely have lower testosterone than they should, since high body fat increases estrogen levels and tanks your testosterone levels.

For these guys, a fat burner for men can increase androgen levels, plus boost muscle growth, both of which help with weight loss.

The thermogenic ingredients in fat burners are particularly helpful for regular guys, as their baseline metabolic rate is going to drop once they cut their calorie intake to lose weight.

Bodybuilders, weight lifters, MMA fighters, boxers, and other athletes who need to cut weight. If you’ve been bulking up to gain strength and are now looking to cut weight, fat burners can help you shed fat while retaining muscle mass.

For these men, it’s important that they keep up their protein intake and continue working out, but they need to shift their body’s metabolic focus to cutting body fat (but not muscle).

Fat burners induce hormonal profile shifts that help accomplish exactly these goals: higher testosterone and growth hormone, and lower estrogen. 

Whether you fit into the first or the second group, a fat burner specifically formulated for male physiology is a great option if you’re looking to maintain muscle mass while dropping fat. the same time. 

How we ranked

Our research team put together a strict series of requirements to measure the quality of the fat burners we considered:

Packed with evidence-based fat oxidizers. These included mainstays like CLA, green tea extract, and garcinia cambogia, all of which upregulate your body’s rate of fat oxidation. Fat burners that neglected these basics got tossed right off the bat.

We kept only supplements that included at least three different proven fat burners. 

No risky stimulants. We ditched any supplements that relied on risky ingredients like bitter orange or its active compound, synephrine, as there are too many case reports of negative side effects occurring in these kinds of supplements.

Popular picks like Hydroxycut got eliminated for this reason.

Formulated for male physiology. We favored products that included minerals known to boost testosterone, such as zinc and magnesium, as well as androgen-supporting herbal extracts like yohimbe.

These compounds are especially effective in men because they leverage the natural fat-burning and muscle-building properties of testosterone, human growth hormone, and other androgens.

Responsible caffeine dosage. Men can generally handle caffeine a bit better than women (partially because of body size, and partially because of hormonal differences), so our team was more tolerant of caffeine than in our rankings of fat burners for women.

Still, we tossed low-quality products like Stripfast Fire Bullets that leaned too heavily on caffeine as its primary or only fat burner.

Caffeine works, but it’s best-used at moderate doses as part of natural thermogenic like green coffee bean or green tea extract–not as an excuse to skimp on other ingredients. 

Ingredient synergy. What separates a good fat burner from a great one? Ingredients that combine well with one another.

For example, combined-action supplements like Instant Knockout and Hunter Burn increase energy expenditure and cut down on hunger cravings.

That combo is much better than the separate effects of a thermogenic alone versus an appetite suppressant alone. 

Ditto for ingredients that compliment each other, like green coffee bean extract and green tea extract: the theanine from green tea mitigates negative effects from the coffee bean extract and accelerates the fat oxidative capacity of both.

No fillers. Fat burners that were bloated with too many fillers, binders, and coloring agents got dropped entirely: Binders and fillers in Kinpur Fat Burner and Force Factor Test X180 Ignite cost them a spot in our rankings. 

Our final rankings are the best a man can get when it comes to fat burning supplements.

Whether you are just trying to ditch your beer gut or you are trying to get an extremely lean and muscular physique, you’ll find what you need in our rankings. 

Benefits

For men, weight loss is a good goal, but fat loss is even better. If you can selectively lose fat mass while retaining your muscle mass: they help you focus on your body composition, not just the number on the scale.

Fat-burners with caffeine can boost energy expenditure and decrease your appetite. The good news is that caffeine works even at low doses.

One study showed that caffeine content equivalent to a single cup of coffee has significant fat burning effects (1). 

Caffeine works even better for men who are overweight. That same study found bigger increases in energy expenditure in obese men, even though the relative dose (per kg of body weight) was lower. 

Fat burners with green tea extract can accelerate fat oxidation beyond the benefits of caffeine. You might think green tea is included just for its caffeine content–but that’s not all it’s good for.

Green tea extract’s benefits are driven by its active ingredient, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which increases the metabolic activity in fat cells independent of caffeine (2).

Green tea magnifies the benefits of caffeine. These synergistic benefits contribute green tea’s ability to maintain fat loss after a diet (3).

Fat burners with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) encourages your body to rely on its internal fat stores. CLA is a staple in many appetite suppressants, and research in the journal Obesity Reviews recommends it as a long-term weight loss supplement (4).

Fat burners with cayenne pepper could help men shed fat faster. Capsaicin, also known as cayenne pepper extract, is one of the most exciting new fat burning compounds you’ll see in our top-rated supplements: research on over 500 people shows that it helps shed fat mass (5).

Fat burners can combine reliable, evidence-backed fat burners with newer but less well-studied compounds. A combined fat burner lets you get the benefits of well-studied mainstays and more modern but less well-understood compounds, like chromium, forskolin, and garcinia cambogia (6).

Side effects

The best fat burning supplements have side effect profiles that are pretty mild for most users. That said, there are a few compounds to watch out for. 

Caffeine is a common fat burner with well-known side effects. In high doses, caffeine can cause jitters, irritability, nausea, and (as you might guess) an inability to sleep (7).

The best-proven fat burning supplements also tend to be the safest. Green tea extract has very little in the way of common side effects; indeed, it’s often taken for its ability to boost general health and well-being and fend off chronic disease (8).

Likewise, CLA, as a natural food ingredient, has a similarly unremarkable adverse effect profile (9).

Some fat burner ingredients can cause gastrointestinal problems. A good example is capsaicin: a great fat burner, but one that can sometimes cause an upset stomach or indigestion, so pay attention to the capsaicin content of your supplements if you have a sensitive stomach (10).

Recommended dosage

The ideal dose of a fat burning supplement for men is going to vary greatly depending on what the ingredients are. For the most part, reputable manufacturers deliver the ingredients at the appropriate dosages. Here are a few quick guidelines:

Caffeine: aim for 100-150 mg for starters. With caffeine, the thing to be careful about is not taking too much. Even small amounts of caffeine have thermogenic effects, so you don’t need to overdo it with a high dose that’s likely to cause adverse effects (11).

Green tea extract: shoot for 400-800 mg. Based on clinical research, this dosage range seems ideal for fat burning (12).

CLA: more is better. The benefits of CLA seems to be proportional to its dosage. While some studies use doses as high as several grams per day, but most fat burners on the market today use less CLA than this. So, for now leaning towards higher-dose CLA supplements is best (13).

Capsaicin: at least 3-10 mg. While less well-studied than caffeine, green tea, or CLA, this is the dose range that’s most common in the research done so far (though some studies have used much higher doses) (14).

FAQ

Q: Are fat burners good? 

A: A fat burner is only as good as its constituent ingredients. A fat burner that relies on a mega-dose of caffeine, or potentially risky ingredients like ephedra or synephrine is definitely not good for you.

On the other hand, if a fat burner includes powerful, safe, and effective fat burning agents like green tea extract and CLA, or if it boosts your body’s natural fat burning capacity, like fat burners with zinc and magnesium that boost testosterone levels, they can make a real difference when it comes to results from a weight loss program or a fat-cutting cycle for an athlete. 

Q: What is the single best fat burner and appetite suppressant combo? 

A: When it comes to the single most effective and versatile fat burner and appetite suppressant, there are a lot of potential candidates, but our research team thinks the case is strongest for for green tea extract.

That’s because green tea extract increases fat oxidation, suppresses appetite, and on top of that, amplifies the benefits of caffeine while ameliorating its negative effects.

It also has a tremendous amount of evidence for its safety and its efficacy. You’ll notice that many of our top-rated fat burners for men contain green tea extract for all of these reasons. 

Q: What’s the best natural fat burner? 

A: When it comes to natural ways to burn fat, it’s tough to pick a single best option. 

Green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, capsaicin, CLA, and caffeine all fall into this category: they’re potent and all-natural, making them great ingredients in any fat burning supplement. Indeed, you’ll find these in several of our top-rated fat burners in our rankings. 

Q: What foods burn fat? 

A: Pretty much any lean source of protein, like chicken, salmon, or whey protein, are effective at burning fat.

The complex structure of the amino acids in these foods raises your body’s baseline metabolic rate more than an equivalent amount of calories from carbohydrates or fat (15).

These foods also exert stronger feeling of satiety (i.e. fullness). That means that you are less likely to eat more at a subsequent meal if you’ve had protein-heavy food earlier in the day.

Beyond protein, some of the most popular caffeinated drinks are great ways to burn fat as well: coffee is a phenomenal way to burn fat, as is tea (particularly green tea or matcha tea). 

Q: How can you burn abdominal fat? 

A: Burning away fat from a specific area of your body is tricky: where your body gains fat is dictated mostly by genetics and your body type, not any particulars of your diet or exercise routine.

So, to drop abdominal fat (whether to lose a beer belly or get a six-pack), you need to do two things:

First, boost your rate of fat oxidation.

Thermogenic supplements, like those you’ll find in a fat burner for men, are a great way to do this.

Second, raise your testosterone levels. Testosterone increases lean body mass and decreases fat storage, so do whatever you can to boost your testosterone: lift weights, sleep more, and take high-quality supplements for men.

All of these will go a long way towards melting off your abdominal fat. 

Q: How can men burn more fat? 

A: To burn more fat, you need to increase your overall caloric expenditure, shift your body’s metabolism towards more fat oxidation, or both.

Increasing overall caloric expenditure is the end goal of a thermogenic supplement, whether it’s caffeine, chromium, or CLA.

Oxidizing fat from fat cells is something you can accomplish with green tea extract, caffeine (again), or forskolin.

Keeping up a good exercise program can help on both fronts: building muscle mass increases your body’s overall metabolic expenditure (as bigger muscles burn more energy) and doing a cardio workout or HIIT training increases your body’s rate of fat oxidation.

Combining strategies can help you burn more fat and burn it faster. 

Q: How do you burn body fat without exercise?

A: If exercise isn’t in the cards and you are trying to drop body fat—or if you are already exercising, but want to accelerate your rate of fat loss—you need to look at your diet and your supplementation routine to find a way to boost your metabolism and increase your rate of fat oxidation.

First, try a good fat burning supplement that increases fat oxidation, like Instant Knockout or PhenQ. These boost both fat oxidation and your overall metabolic rate.

Second, adopt a high protein, low carb diet. This will tamp down on hunger cravings, and to augment its effects, you can add coffee, green tea, or supplements derived from these beverages to your routine.

Even so, you’ll likely have better results if you do exercise, especially if you employ fat-burning workouts like HIIT training. 

Q: How much body fat can you lose in a week?

A: One of the things that makes fat loss difficult is the fact that it takes long periods of hard work to see results. You can drop a few pounds of fat in a week with some aggressive dieting and supplementation, but for real benefits you need several weeks (and really, several months) of dedication.

If you need to drop weight, but not necessarily body fat, you can use a diuretic, but you’ll be mostly losing water weight, not body fat. 

Related articles Testosterone booster Estrogen blocker Natural steroid alternative Supplements for men Multivitamin for men CLA Green tea extract Thermogenics Fat burners for women Recap

Though your options for a fat burning supplement seem endless, keeping a few basic guidelines in mind can help select one that’s right for you.

Look for a supplement that has at least three well-established and reasonably effective fat burning ingredients, like green tea extract, moderate doses of caffeine, CLA, and capsaicin. 

Next, look for ingredients that compliment each other, like green tea extract and green coffee bean extract, or a fat oxidizer and an appetite suppressant.

You can find all of these qualities in our top-ranked products. 

Finally, be patient. These supplements aren’t going to work overnight, but the evidence is pretty good that they do gradually ramp up your fat loss over time.

For BodyNutrition’s #1 fat burner for men, click here.

The post Ranking the best fat burners for men of 2023 appeared first on Body Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
5 Ways to Boost Brain Health

This post was sponsored by CocoaViaTM. All opinions are my own.

Many folks are concerned more than ever about brain health. According to Consumer Reports, 34% of Americans say they’ve noticed signs of forgetfulness significant enough to worry about them. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in nine adults report experiencing subjective cognitive decline (e.g., confusion, memory loss).  With Brain Health Month upon us, below you’ll find 5 recommendations to help build a brain health routine.

 #1: Plan breakfast daily: A healthy brain starts with a healthy body and to do so, you need to start your day with a healthy breakfast. The first meal you have during the day (AKA breakfast) is certainly an important one, especially with the hustle and bustle that goes on every day. Pre-planning your breakfast and having the ingredients ready help keep you on track with a nutritious start to your day. Below are 3 healthy breakfast options to try:

Egg Muffins with Spinach and Feta: These egg muffins are perfect to meal prep over the weekend. You can heat and eat them in 30 seconds. I love topping mine with salsa! Strawberry Mint Overnight Oats: Oats provide beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber, that helps maintain steady glucose levels, which are important for the brain to function at its best. Strawberry-Kiwi Yogurt Parfaits: Another easy recipe you can meal prep over the weekend. They’re perfect to grab and go during your busy morning.

Photo courtesy of Gail Watson Photography

#2: Incorporate fatty fish into your diet: Fatty fish including salmon, trout, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, a major building block of the brain. Omega-3 fats can help sharpen memory, improve mood, and keep cognitive performance at its best. Some of my favorite omega-3 fish recipes include Sheet Pan Chili-Lime Salmon and Tuna Nicoise Salad.

Photo courtesy of Ashely Lima

#3: Include turmeric in your healthy diet: Research has shown that curcumin, a polyphenol found in turmeric, is associated with better cognitive performance. One published cross-sectional study of older individuals found that participants who ‘occasionally’ and ‘often or very often’ consumed curry (which contains turmeric) had high scores on a mental exam compared to individuals who ‘never or rarely’ consumed curry. Turmeric is a beautiful yellow spice that I love adding to this Pineapple Turmeric Smoothie and using in my Cauliflower-Turmeric Soup.

#4: Make cocoa flavanols part of your healthy diet: Backed by over 20 years of research, dietary supplement CocoaVia™ Memory+ contains 750mg of cocoa flavanols and is proven to improve memory and brain function in as little as 8 weeks. It can help improve 3 types of memory including word recall (+31%), spatial memory (+24%) and long-term memory (+14%). As flavanol levels can vary greatly and are not labelled in cocoa-based foods, a daily cocoa flavanol supplement, like CocoaVia™ Memory+ is an easy way to incorporate cocoa flavanols into your diet.

And now, I’m also excited to announce a new addition to the CocoaVia™ brain health portfolio – introducing, CocoaVia™ Memory and Focus capsules. This unique proprietary plant-based formula is designed with Cocoapro+™ proprietary botanical blend, which includes clinically-proven lutein and 50mg of naturally-sourced caffeine, all in one powerful capsule to help keep you focused, boost memory, and promote brain function.

#5: Get your exercise: A 2021 published study found that aerobic exercise can help improve cerebrovascular function and cognition. Aerobic exercise is defined as exercise done “with oxygen,” which means that breathing controls the amount of oxygen that makes it to the muscles to help them burn fuel and get you moving. Examples of aerobic exercise include swimming, biking, walking, rowing, tennis, running, and jumping rope. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 to 7 days a week.

Give CocoaVia™ a try today! Use code TOBY20 code to take 20% off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post 5 Ways to Boost Brain Health first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
The Link Between Dairy’s Nutrients and Immunity

This post is in collaboration with National Dairy Council. All opinions are my own.

Due to the pandemic, there has been increased concern on keeping your immune system healthy. Many folks have turned to supplements or other methods to try to boost their immune system, but many often forget that your first line of defense is a healthy diet. In my book The Family Immunity Cookbook: 101 Easy Recipes to Boost Health, I discuss the importance of eating a well-balanced meal and the role that milk and dairy foods play in keeping your immune system healthy.

About Your Immune System

A healthy immune system is vital to good health. The immune system helps fight off any foreign invaders to the body. If your immune system is healthy, it’s easier to fight bacteria, viruses, or anything else trying to make you sick. When you say you want to increase or boost immunity, what you likely mean is how can I keep my immune system as healthy as possible to lower my risk of getting a cold, the flu, or even COVID-19?

The immune system is rather complex. Your body has a network of tissues, cells, and organs that try to keep out foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. This is your immune system. Some of the main players include white blood cells, antibodies, and the lymphatic system. All of these parts, and others, actively fight foreign bodies that enter your body.

What Can You Do to Help Your Immune System?

In my cookbook, I list six habits to help your immune system be the best it can be. These six habits include staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, consuming alcohol in moderation, reducing stress, and lastly, eating a healthy well-balanced diet. Part of having a well-balanced diet is getting your daily recommended servings of all your food groups, including milk and dairy foods, and fruits and vegetables.

Nutrients That Support Immunity

Vitamins A, D, B6 and B12, protein, selenium, zinc, and antioxidants like vitamins C and E are all important to keep your immune system healthy. You can get these nutrients from consuming milk and dairy foods, and by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, only 2 in 10 Americans take in the recommended amounts of these.

Here are specific nutrients you get from foods that can help keep your immune system healthy:

Milk: Vitamins A, B12 and D, protein, zinc and selenium Fruits and vegetables: Vitamins C, A and B6 Nuts and seeds: Vitamin E Cheese: Protein, selenium and vitamin B12 Yogurt: Protein, selenium, zinc and vitamin B12

 

Enjoying Nutrients Together

Nutrition is not just about eating single nutrients or single foods. It’s about how the variety of nutrients in the various foods you eat work together to keep your body healthy. A favorite snack recipe that I share below is my Strawberry Kiwi Almond Yogurt Bark made with Greek yogurt, strawberries, kiwi, and almonds – where you’ll get vitamins A, C, and E, protein, selenium, and zinc to help keep your immune system healthy.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Lima

Strawberry Kiwi Almond Yogurt Bark
Serves: 6
Serving size: 4 pieces

Rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper
2 cups (500 g) nonfat vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt
Zest of 1 orange
8 strawberries, stems removed and diced
2 kiwifruit, peeled and diced
1⁄2 cup (125 g) unsalted dry roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

In a medium bowl, add the yogurt and stir in half of the zest. Spoon the yogurt mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread it evenly to the edges. It should be about 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) thick. Evenly sprinkle the yogurt with the strawberries, kiwis and almonds, and then dust the remaining zest over the yogurt. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 4 hours or until the yogurt sets. Gently break the yogurt bark into twenty-four pieces. Store in a sealable container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe from The Family Immunity Cookbook by Toby Amidor. Published by Robert Rose Books. Photo courtesy of Ashley Lima. All Rights Reserved.

See You at Today’s Dietitian Symposium!

I will be attending the Today’s Dietitian Symposium in Bonito Springs, Florida where I will be at National Dairy Council’s booth (#46) with some surprises waiting for you on Monday May 23 between 3:00 and 3:45 pm and on Tuesday May 24 between 11 and 11:45 at booth 46. I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

The post The Link Between Dairy’s Nutrients and Immunity first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
My New Cookbook: Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook

I am thrilled to announce the release of my ninth cookbook, Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook: 100 Delicious Plate Method Recipes on April 30, 2022.

This cookbook presents and explains the popular Diabetes Plate Method with 100 delicious recipes, and 5 different meal plans that range in complexity for beginners to experienced meal preppers. Specific food safety concerns are outlined for people with diabetes along with helpful shopping, cooking or ingredient substitution tips, and all recipes contain nutritional information and step-by-step guidance for creating multiple dishes at one time.

You’ll also find that I have created recipes for every meal of the day, including snacks. Meal plans include grocery lists and nutritional information for each individual-serving meal prep container. At-a-glance icons show which recipes are freezer-friendly, one-pot, 30 minutes or less, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free or a complete plate in one dish.

Photo courtesy of Ashely Lima

Recipes include:

–Fruit and Nut Breakfast Cookies
–Eggs with Spinach and Beans
–Sheet Pan Chili-Lime Salmon (pictured above)
–Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
–Eggplant with Tomatoes and Cumin

 

You can pre-order the cookbook on  Amazon. If you would like an interview please contact me here.
Stay tuned for a sneak peek into the recipes of my latest cookbook…coming soon on my website!

 

 

The post My New Cookbook: Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors: Day 31
On the last day of National Nutrition Month and the last day of my “31 Days of Global Flavors” series, my colleague and friend Dr. Keith Ayoob is sharing why he loves thyme — which is the flavor we are celebrating today. Thyme There is regular thyme which is sort of a dry “shrub” but broad-leaf thyme is a more succulent, crunchy leaf that dices up well and adds a lighter, but still “herby” flavor that wakes up the usual salad ingredients. I think the flavor is more like oregano.  It’s sometimes called “Spanish thyme.”  It’s best fresh, and in addition to salads, I’ve added it to bean dishes and stir-fries.  It’s also very compatible with fish dishes. I love broad-leaf thyme chopped into salads, and it’s excellent added to savory bean dishes. This salad below can incorporate everything, including protein, tons of fiber, some fruit, and of course a lot of veggies. It’s also great for using up leftovers.

Courtesy of Keith Ayoob

Keith’s Chopped Salad  Fill a large mixing bowl with the following: Romaine leaves Arugula Grape tomatoes Cucumber Celery Carrots Fennel (I slice this thinly sliced, rather than chopped) 2 or 3 leaves of broadleaf thyme, minced Optional, but nice: pitted, chopped olives, pickled peppers, or fresh sweet peppers, radishes, cooked vegetables, any leftover canned beans (garbanzos, black beans, whatever you have), diced pears (red pears are great if you have them) Protein options, if it’s a main course: crumbled feta, goat, bleu cheese or diced mozzarella, hard-cooked eggs, quartered, poached or broiled fish (salmon is fabulous with this) Grated parmesan Directions: Chop all the ingredients but slice the fennel and mince the broadleaf thyme as noted, and add everything to the bowl. Toss it all together until nicely combined.  Dressing: In our house, it’s EVOO and Balsamic, at a ratio of about 2 parts EVOO to 1 part Balsamic. If I have some Balsamic syrup, I’ll drizzle it all over after I’ve dressed the salad. A fat-free Italian is fine too and makes the salad or meal even leaner.  Pass the grated parmesan for sprinkling on top to everyone’s taste.  You may want to save the proteins to add on top, when serving. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine

The post 31 Days of Global Flavors: Day 31 first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors: Day 30

Today is day 30 of National Nutrition Month and my series of “31 Days of Global Flavors.” Throughout the month I have been highlighting dietitians and the global foods and flavors they love. Today is the day to celebrate pineapple.

Pineapple

For centuries, the pineapple was used to symbolize hospitality. Christopher Columbus introduced the fruit, which is native to Central and South America, to Europe after he discovered them in the Caribbean. Today, Hawaii is the leading producer of pineapple.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Lima

I love using pineapple in a variety of dishes to add a sweet-tart flavor.  You can enjoy it slices or cubed, or you can add it to sweet or savory dishes. Here are several of my favorite ways to use pineapple in the kitchen:

Pineapple Guacamole Pineapple Turmeric Smoothie Green Tea Smoothie Bowl with Raspberries Hawaiian Chicken Pizza Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa (pictured above) Strawberry Pineapple Ice Pops

 

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND of Toby Amidor Nutrition, PC

The post 31 Days of Global Flavors: Day 30 first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 29

We are at the tail end of this series in honor of National Nutrition Month. Today we are celebrating teriyaki which comes from registered dietitian Amy Gorin.

Teriyaki

My number one favorite global flavor is teriyaki which I love using in my cooking. Teriyaki is so savory and adds a burst of flavor to dishes such as homemade “fried” rice.

Here is my recipe for Green Bean Fried Rice. I make this dish when I’m craving takeout but want something healthier. It’s an easy complete meal—the brown rice and veggies provides fiber, the eggs provide protein, and the almond butter provides healthy fat.

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, an inclusive plant-based dietitian and owner of Master the Media in Stamford, CT.

 

The post 31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 29 first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 28

For day 28 of my “31 of Global Flavors” series, dietitian and friend Christy Wilson talks about her love for mangos!

Mangos

Christy’s number one global flavor is mango. It has a tropical, citrus flavor that is so juicy and refreshing. Mangos are a little sour, a little sweet, and a lot delicious! There are always a few varieties of mangos in season all year long so I can always find it at my local grocery store. Mangos contain fiber, which is excellent for gut health and helps us feel full and satisfied, and they contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C.

Mangos are quite versatile and can be eaten by themselves, combined with other fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs, or muddled or blended into drinks and desserts. I love eating magos as a dessert or snack with a little added lime juice and my favorite chili lime seasoning, Tajin. As a treat, I puree fresh mango and make it into paletas (frozen pops)! I found that, especially when my kids were younger, this was a fun way to offer my kids fruit and they loved it! I also like mixing diced fresh mango with cucumber, jicama and a little cilantro for a sweet, fresh and crunchy combo. Here’s my recipe for Mango Chile Limon Paletas (frozen pops)– enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Christy WIlson

–Christy Wilson, RDN owner of Christy Wilson Nutrition, LLC, a nutrition communications business, and a nutrition counselor at El Rio Health

The post 31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 28 first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 27

We at the tail end of National Nutrition Month and for day 27 my friend and colleague Frances Largeman-Roth is talking about one of her favorite global flavors, matcha.

Matcha

Matcha is made by grinding up dried green tea leaves to a powdery consistency. It has a distinct earthy, sweet flavor and adds the most gorgeous green color to anything you add it to. Since you’re actually eating the tea leaf instead of brewing it, you’re getting even more antioxidants than when you drink green tea. In addition to lattes and desserts, you can also add matcha to smoothies or just stir it into vanilla yogurt. I make matcha and oat milk lattes when I want something delicious and have a few extra minutes to savor it. I also use it in desserts, like my Matcha Chia Pudding Parfaits, which is perfect for spring. Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert, and author

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- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 26
It’s day 26 of my “31 Days of Global Flavors” series in honor of National Nutrition Month. Today dietitian Melissa Altman-Traub discusses her love of cinnamon. Cinnamon Cinnamon provides a warm and comforting flavor and aroma to baked goods, desserts, warm beverages, and savory dishes. Ceylon cinnamon has a lighter, more delicate flavor than the more common cassia cinnamon, with less heat. It is used in this recipe for Healthier Blueberry Coffee Cake (without dairy)

Photo courtesy of Melissa Altman-Traub

–Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN, food blogger at www.melissatraub.com

The post 31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 26 first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

- Toby Amidor
31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 25
There’s one week left of National Nutrition Month and we are celebrating day 25 with my friend and fellow RD, Bonnie Taub-Dix and her love of avocados. Avocadoes Avocado is the chameleon of meals — it’s a perfect ingredient in a breakfast burrito, it’s healthier than mayo when spread onto a lunchtime sandwich, it’s perfect for dunking veggies into as a guac for an afternoon snack and I love using avocado in sauces or toppings for poultry or fish at dinner. Besides being delicious, avocado provides almost 20 vitamins and minerals and it’s a good source of fiber, a nutrient most of us are not getting enough of. –Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, author of Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table, and @bonnietaubdix on Instagram

The post 31 Days of Global Flavors for National Nutrition Month: Day 25 first appeared on Toby Amidor Nutrition.

Study Finds Serious Mental Illnesses Improve on Ketogenic Diet

Categories: Mental Health, Ketogenic Diet, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Diets & Diseases, Brain Health

In this pioneering study of the ketogenic diet, all patients improved and most were discharged on less medication.

New Study Claims Red Meat Increases Risk for Heart Attacks and Strokes

Categories: Foods, Meats, Other Health Conditions

Does carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, endanger your cardiovascular health? This quick read tells you what you need to know.

Revolutionizing Anorexia Care Starts with Nutrition

Categories: Mental Health, Diets & Diseases, Brain Health, Other Health Conditions

Treatment and recovery from anorexia is possible using surprisingly logical nutrient-based strategies.

Nutrition Can Strengthen the Immune System to Fight COVID-19

Categories: Diets & Diseases, Insulin Resistance, Other Health Conditions

If you catch COVID-19, it is largely the health of your immune system that ultimately determines your fate. So, is there a diet that strengthens your immune system?

The Problem with Epidemiological Studies

Categories: Diets & Diseases

Understand how nutritional epidemiological studies are performed and why they perpetuate confusion about the relationship between food and health.

Ketogenic Diets 101

Categories: Ketogenic Diet

Your go-to guide to ketogenic diets includes how to get started, how to determine macronutrient requirements, info about keto adaptation, tips for success, recommended resources and more!

Six Reasons to Go Paleo for Mental Health

Categories: Paleo / Whole Foods Diet

If you are living with a mental health problem of any kind, adopting a paleo diet is an excellent place to start for just about everyone.

Can Red Wine Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer's?

Categories: Mental Health, Fruits, Alzheimer’s Disease

We often hear that drinking red wine could ward off dementia and heart disease. But what is the scientific foundation beneath these recommendations?

Ketogenic Diets for Mental Health: A Guide to Resources

Categories: Mental Health, ADHD, Ketogenic Diet, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Diets & Diseases, Alzheimer’s Disease, Insulin Resistance, Anxiety, Brain Health

Ketogenic diets can have profound effects on mental health. Learn how with these videos, podcasts, and professional services resources.

8 Reasons to Try Low-Carb for Mental Health

Categories: Mental Health, ADHD, Ketogenic Diet, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease, Anxiety, Brain Health, Carbohydrates

Low-carb diets have tremendous potential in the prevention and management of psychiatric disorders. Discover how low-carb and keto diets can benefit your mental health.

Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and the New Science of Hope

Categories: Mental Health, Ketogenic Diet, Alzheimer’s Disease, Insulin Resistance, Brain Health

The metabolic similarities underlying Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease offer hope for lifestyle interventions as potential treatment and prevention.

Low Carb Indonesia—Celebrating Health and Changing the World

Categories: Mental Health, Ketogenic Diet, Insulin Resistance

Low Carb Indonesia, the first low-carb conference in Asia, was a groundbreaking event that provided education and celebration of a low-carbohydrate lifestyle.

The Carnivore Diet for Mental Health?

Categories: Carnivore Diet

Watch my presentation from the Boulder Carnivore conference exploring the nutritional differences between plant and animal foods and the scientific arguments that support all-meat diets for optimal brain health.

The Brain Needs Animal Fat

Categories: Mental Health, Meats, Ketogenic Diet, Carnivore Diet, Plant-based Diet, Fat, Brain Health

DHA—an essential omega-3 fatty acid—is critically important for brain development and function... but is only found in animal foods.

Do You Have Arachiphobia?

Categories: Mental Health, Foods, Plant-based Diet, Fat, Brain Health

A candid conversation with the tragically misunderstood and oft-feared omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid. Learn the needs this nutrient fills and how to ensure you get enough of it.

EAT-Lancet's Plant-Based Planet: 10 Things You Need to Know

Categories: Meats, Grains, Beans, Nuts, Seeds, Vegetables, Plant-based Diet, Fat, Cancer, Protein, Diabetes, Carbohydrates

My critique of the EAT-Lancet report reveals that their arguments for the planetary shift to a plant-based diet are inconsistent, unscientific, and downplay the serious risks to life and health posed by vegan diets.

The Number One Tool for Improving Your Health this Year

Categories: Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, Carbohydrates, Other Health Conditions

Is your New Year’s resolution to get healthier? The good news is that no matter what approach you choose, you can use this simple, magical, in-home tool to stay motivated and track your progress in real time.

New Blood Test Helps Predict (and Prevent?) Bipolar Disorder

Categories: Mental Health, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Insulin Resistance

Is it depression or bipolar disorder? Researchers may have found a test that could help detect who will develop bipolar disorder later in life.

The Truth about Low-Protein, High-Carb Diets and Brain Aging

Categories: Mental Health, Dairy, Alzheimer’s Disease, Protein, Brain Health, Carbohydrates

A new study claims a low-protein, high-carb diet may help ward off dementia, despite a growing body of clinical evidence suggesting that low-carb diets can be helpful for brain problems.

Changing How Doctors View Obesity

Categories: Mental Health, Insulin Resistance, Other Health Conditions

In this post, I offer ten strategies that medical practitioners should consider in order to better meet the emotional and health needs of their obese patients.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
How to Use the Mindful Eating Hunger Scale

Have trouble determining what hunger and fullness feel like? Keep reading to learn how to use the Mindful Eating Hunger Scale to determine your hunger cues.

It sounds so simple, right? Eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full. But in reality, this oftentimes can be a lot easier said than done. There are so many day-to-day factors that can complicate these cues. From stress levels to work schedules and emotions, it’s so easy to confuse hunger cues with other cues. 

Getting to know your own hunger and satiety cues can help clear up this confusion. It gives you the power to identify and address other cues accordingly. 

Lemony Chickpea Salad | Nutrition Stripped

Mindful Eating Hunger Cues

When eating mindfully, hunger cues are utilized to designate not only when to eat, but also how much. Our cues essentially let us know what we’re in need of as well as when.

Food is the body’s primary energy source. It’s what allows us to think clearly, build muscle, pump blood, breathe air, and do so much more. While we’re all performing these human functions on a daily basis, we’re doing so in a slightly different way, we’re all a bit unique. 

This is why hunger cues are so important. If the body is undergoing stress, fighting an infection or disease, performing physical labor, or engaging in more or less movement than normal, your body’s energy needs will differ. Your hunger cues reflect these needs. 

Now that we know what they are, how do we gauge and measure them? This is where the Mindful Eating Hunger Scale comes in. 

How To Use the Mindful Eating Hunger Scale 

This scale helps clarify some of the ambiguity that comes along with measuring hunger cues because it gives you numerical values to refer to. The hunger cues operate on a scale from 1 (so full you may feel unwell) to 10 (starving, weak, dizzy). The middle of the scale, 5, is where you feel content. You’re slightly full so you’re comfortable, you’re not in need of anything. 

 

Check-in With Your Hunger Cues 

The first step to using the scale is to get to know your own body. How does it communicate hunger? What about slight hunger? What does it feel like? And on the flip side, what does fullness feel like? 

In order to understand these cues, we have to really introduce mindfulness. To get started with this, throughout the day (before meals, during meals, and after meals), take note of where you are on the scale. Choose a numerical value that you feel accurately describes the degree to which you’re feeling hunger or satiety. 

The key here is to do this without judgment and with compassion. Will this be super easy the first time you try it? Probably not! But most things we learn to do are not. Remember that you’re quite literally teaching your body a new skill, and a subjective one at that. 

The more you check-in, and the more you pause and reflect, the easier it will be for you to notice your cues without even having to intentionally check in. 

Abide By Your Hunger Cues

After you go through the process of defining your cues, it’s time to start abiding by them. When you hear your body asking for food through hunger, do your best to grab something to eat. If you’re very hungry, make a full meal. If you’re slightly hungry, a snack will do just fine. 

Simply getting into the habit of abiding by your cues will take time as well. You may possibly have to shift some of your preexisting routines, eat a bit more or less than you previously were, but that’s quite alright. This is exactly what mindful eating entails.

The Antioxidant Salad | Nutrition Stripped

When is it Okay to Eat When I’m Not Hungry?

But what happens when you end up wanting to eat something when you’re not feeling physical hunger? Does that mean you’re doing something wrong?

Nope, not in the slightest. You may be surprised to hear this, but there are plenty of reasons to eat even when you aren’t. This may be enjoying dessert after dinner or eating to give your body nourishment even if something like stress is suppressing your hunger.

With mindful eating, it’s all about being mindful and having heightened awareness of why you’re eating. That way, you can choose the best option for you at any given moment. You may say to yourself, “I’m not that hungry, but I would actually enjoy that dessert right now.”

On the other hand, you may say, “I notice that I’m not actually hungry, but I really want a snack.” In this case, we want to pull that mindfulness in to determine why. Is it because you’re mindfully, and intentionally excited to eat said item? Or on the other hand, are you experiencing another emotion that you may previously have used food to cope with?

When our eating choices aren’t mindful or intentional, where they’re used to cope or conceal, we want to try to find alternative, more productive coping mechanisms that directly address the emotion at hand. 

Whatever it may look like for you, this awareness can help you make intentional, mindful choices.

The Takeaway

The mindful eating hunger scale is a great tool that you can use to build your mindful eating skills. If you’re struggling to decipher where satiety starts and hunger stops, give the exercises we discussed a try. And remember! Take it slowly. 

Do You Want to Experience More Balance with your Food Choices?

Then find your balanced eating type!

Take this 45-second free quiz to find out which balanced eating archetype you are, and what your unique type needs to maintain balance with the way you nourish yourself. That way, you can finally be free from food and diet obsession, maintain a balanced weight, and cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body. 

Take The Free Quiz Now

The post How to Use the Mindful Eating Hunger Scale appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
How To Build a Balanced Plate

Learn the basic formula you need to build a balanced plate with ease in a sustainable, consistent way to optimize your health and wellness.

We start hearing at a very young age that a balanced diet is key for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We even hear this from doctors and other health practitioners alike. But oftentimes, the details and logistics of exactly how to do this are left out.

Knowing how to build a balanced plate can make food and nutrition so much less stressful. It allows you to feel confident in your food choices and gives you the freedom to be flexible and malleable with your eating habits. It doesn’t involve restrictions, food rules, or regulations.  

Why is a Balanced Plate Important?

Eating in this balanced way significantly impacts not only your physical health but also your mental health and relationship with food. 

But before we’re able to reap all of these phenomenal benefits, we need to know how to do it. So let’s dive into it!

Ultimate Satisfying Salad | Nutrition Stripped How to Build a Balanced Plate 

We’re bringing it right back to basics. A balanced plate incorporates all of the vital components we need in order to not only survive but also thrive. It allows us to feel energized, satiated, and satisfied after every meal, without having to follow a diet plan, detox, or protocol. 

In order to do this, we need to reference the macronutrients. A macronutrient is simply the scientific term that is used to define and categorize all food that humans eat. Regardless of where you are in the world, your food is comprised of macronutrients!

By using the macronutrients to build our meals, we can ensure that we’re consuming balanced, nourishing meals on a regular basis. This is where the Foundational Five comes in.  

The Foundational Five

Here at Nutrition Stripped, we’ve “stripped” eating well down to a simple template — which we call the Foundational Five — that you can follow at each meal.

The Foundational Five elements include the three major macronutrients. These include protein, fat, and carbohydrates broken down into two subcategories based on their function, as well as the flavor factor.

If you reference this formula when making your meals, you’ll be building balanced plates every time! Now let’s walk through the details of each of these components so you feel confident enough to get started. 

Protein

Protein is an important macronutrient to have in each of our meals for quite a few reasons. It helps to ensure that you feel full after your meals, and it plays a role in digestion, muscle and tissue synthesis as well as immune health.  It’s safe to say protein is vital!

Protein also makes up every cell in our bodies. This includes the cells that make up your skin, hair, nails, muscle, digestive tract, and so much more. Depending upon your particular preferences, your protein choices may include plant-based proteinanimal-based protein, or both!

Some examples include beans, legumes, tempeh, tofu, seitan, quinoa, nuts, seeds, nut butter, grass-fed lean beef, eggs, seafood, poultry, and more.

Starchy and Sugary Carbohydrates

Starchy and sugary carbohydrates are exactly what you picture when you think of carbohydrates. This is the category of carbohydrates that provide you with energy, which is why they’re so important to include in each and every meal.

Starchy carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. Our brains, muscle tissue, and cells all utilize carbohydrates for energy. Just in different amounts and ratios! They’re also a great source of fiber to help promote optimal gut, heart, and hormonal health. 

Things like potatoes, quinoa, rice, bread, peas, pasta, beans, corn, and fruit are all great sources of starchy or sugary carbohydrates.

Non-starchy Carbohydrates

Non-starchy carbohydrates, on the other hand, don’t necessarily provide a substantial amount of energy. These carbohydrates are better known for their fiber, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals.

When you hear non-starchy carbohydrates, think of greens and vegetables! These are your leafy greens like arugula, kale, and romaine as well as your veggies like Brussels sprouts, bok choy, tomatoes, cucumbers and so many more.

These plants should make up the bulk of your plate. The more, the better! Their fiber and water content help to keep you full and provide your body with the nutrients you need to support healthy digestion.

Fat

Next up we have fat. For the most part, we’re referring to unsaturated fat here. Of course, there are some exceptions to this overarching statement.

Unsaturated fats primarily consist of plant-based and seafood-based fat sources. Think of extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocado oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butter, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. We also recommend coconut and coconut oil, which is technically an unsaturated fat but an exception to the overarching guideline, and you can read more about why here.

In a meal, fat is essential for satiety (or fullness). Yes, protein plays a part in this as well, but fat certainly plays the lead role. Plus, omega-3 fats, found in fatty fish and some plant-based sources, have been shown to improve cardiovascular health and support brain health.

It’s also key for proper nutrient absorption. Certain vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are all fat-soluble. That just means they need a fat source in order to be properly absorbed. These are the vitamins that keep our brains, cells, hormones, tissues, hair, skin, and nails healthy. 

Flavor Factor

This is the fun part! Your flavor factor may be a sauce or mustard, herbs, spices, or seasonings. Really, whatever you enjoy cooking or preparing food with to boost the flavor and sometimes even the nutrients.

Yes, herbs and spices make food taste great, but they’re also packed with antioxidants that help you to glow from the inside out. If you’re a new cook and just starting to familiarize yourself with seasonings and spices, head here to learn about some of the basics!

The Takeaway

If you’re just getting started with eating in a balanced way, be sure to take this slowly and be compassionate with yourself! Start to familiarize yourself with each of these categories we’ve gone through, then slowly start building meals.

Have some fun with it! You’ll soon start to realize just how easy it is to build a balanced plate, as well as how beneficial it can be over time. 

Do You Want to Experience More Balance with your Food Choices?

Then find your balanced eating type!

Take this 45-second free quiz to find out which balanced eating archetype you are, and what your unique type needs to maintain balance with the way you nourish yourself. That way, you can finally be free from food and diet obsession, maintain a balanced weight, and cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body. 

Take The Free Quiz Now

The post How To Build a Balanced Plate appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
Gooey Toasted-Coconut Chocolate Brownies

Gooey Toasted-Coconut Chocolate Brownies are gluten-free, delicious, and simple to make with calcium-rich tahini.

This is the chocolate brownie recipe you need for those times when you want something super sweet yet a little savory. Tahini, which is made from ground sesame seeds, is rich in calcium, healthy fats, and plant-based protein. Along with being a nutrient-dense option to add to a brownie recipe, it’s a bit earthy creating a savory-sweet combination.

Using the Foundational Five to Create These Gooey Toasted-Coconut Chocolate Brownies

In case you’re new to the NS Community and the Mindful Nutrition Method, the Foundational Five system is part of how we teach you to build balanced meals. It makes it easy for you to give your body the nourishment you need while having the flexibility to enjoy the foods you love without stressing about food.

The Foundational Five is made up of five elements of nutrition including Protein, Fat, Non-starchy Carbohydrates, Starchy & Sugary Carbohydrates, and the Flavor Factor (which brings vibrancy, deliciousness, and enjoyment to your meals). 

You can download our free guide that walks you through our Foundational Five system for creating balanced meals that you can use to meal prep or cook fresh this week!

Chocolate Toasted Coconut Tahini Brownies | Nutrition Stripped

Tahini Nutrition Benefits  Packed with Unsaturated Fats 

Unsaturated fats help contribute to satiety, satisfaction, and fullness in your meals. Plus, they’re heart-healthy in that they help promote balanced cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well!

Powerful Antioxidant

Tahini is filled with antioxidants that help fight free radicals that can cause disease over time. Plus, they’re anti-inflammatory, making them an even stronger disease fighter as well. 

Ingredients Needed To Make These Gooey Toasted-Coconut Chocolate Brownies coconut flakes bittersweet chocolate morsels unsweetened cocoa powder cornstarch tahini coconut oil coconut sugar eggs maple syrup kosher salt vanilla extract How To Make These Gooey Toasted-Coconut Chocolate Brownies

After preheating your oven, you’ll whisk together cornstarch and cocoa powder in a medium-sized bowl. Then in a separate bowl, whisk together chocolate morsels, tahini, and coconut oil over low heat. Next, in a blender, you’ll beat the eggs, coconut sugar, maple syrup, kosher salt, and vanilla extract.

You’ll then slowly add in the chocolate tahini mixture, followed by the cocoa powder and cornstarch mixture. Finally, pour the mixture into a greased baking dish and sprinkle with coconut flakes before baking!

Tips For Making These Gooey Toasted-Coconut Chocolate Brownies

There are a couple of tips you should keep in mind that will help you out a bit when baking these brownies. 

Don’t forget to grease your pan

Albeit simple, this is most definitely an important step. Coconut oil or butter will work great! 

Allow the brownies to completely cool before cutting and serving

In order for the brownies to be served at their best and fully intact, it’s important to let them fully cool prior to cutting. Cutting them too early will mean crumbly, less-than-ideal brownies. 

FAQ About These Gooey Toasted-Coconut Chocolate Brownies What if I don’t like tahini?

Don’t sweat it! You can always use any nut butter of your choice. Try out peanut butter or cashew butter instead! 

Chocolate Toasted Coconut Tahini Brownies | Nutrition Stripped

The post Gooey Toasted-Coconut Chocolate Brownies appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
8 Signs Your Body Says You’re Not Eating Enough

Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms your body uses to communicate to you that you aren’t eating enough. 

Stress, busy schedules, illnesses, grief, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life can take a toll on us. More specifically, our appetites and the way our bodies regulate hunger. This can often lead to us not eating enough. Additionally, many people in the pursuit of weight loss often end up unintentionally undereating or restricting to achieve that goal.

Whatever the cause, not eating enough food and depriving your body of important nutrients can manifest in ways that wreak havoc on your metabolism and hormones. Both of which may take longer to notice if you’ve been consistently undereating.

8 Symptoms You May Experience if You’re Not Eating Enough

Let’s dive in and take a look at the not-so-subtle signs that your body may not be getting enough vital protein, carbohydrates, and fat, and what you can do to increase your food intake with a balanced diet.

1. Low Energy

If you’ve been feeling straight-up exhausted for several weeks regardless of how much you snooze or the quality of your sleep, it might be time to re-evaluate your diet. When we’re perpetually undereating, the body isn’t able to fuel itself properly. That may cause you to feel lethargic and sluggish. 

We often see this in the case of low carbohydrate diets specifically. Seeing as though starchy carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fast energy, it makes sense why restricting them can lead to less-than-ideal energy levels. 

Take a look at your usual intake in regards to both volumes as well as variety. Are you consuming balanced meals that incorporate all of the Foundational Five components? Including starchy carbohydrates? Are you eating when you’re hungry and listening to your body’s cues? Take a moment to reflect here and see if you can make some adjustments. 

2. Dizziness

Dizziness can be one of the first physical signs of not eating enough. When you’re not eating enough food, your blood sugar levels can plummet and make you feel dizzy or faint. If you’re continually feeling lightheaded and can’t quite figure out why, take a look at your food intake. 

For a quick snack boost, eat something with carbohydrates and protein, like a banana with some almond butter, a handful of berries and nuts, or veggie sticks with some hummus. This combination of carbohydrates and protein will help increase and stabilize your blood sugar levels to help boost your energy.

However, if the dizziness persists after making these changes to your nutrition and your lifestyle, chat with your doctor to rule out possible issues.

3. Poor Cognition and Productivity (i.e. Brain Fog)

Ever have moments of forgetfulness where you say things like, “Where did I put my keys?”? That happens to us all, but frequent brain fog could be your body’s way of telling you to check in with how you’re nourishing yourself (i.e. eat more food)! Brain fog can be a sign of several health challenges, but it’s also one of the key symptoms of not eating enough throughout the day.

Postponing lunches or interrupting your normal meal times to attend meetings or take calls delays the energy your body needs to keep going. So if that 3 p.m. lull hits hard and you realize you haven’t had lunch, that’s your cue to head to the kitchen or grab a snack.

It’s best to fill up on whole foods as best as you can. Go for a hearty salad with plenty of fresh veggies, maybe some sweet potatoes, avocado, grilled chicken, or protein of your choice, and a tasty dressing. Foods rich in B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and antioxidants can help boost brain function and prevent cognitive decline (1). Bye-bye brain fog.

4. Hair Loss and Brittle Nails

This may come as a surprise to you, but if you’re not eating enough food or getting enough nutrients, the highest priority organs will take the lead in getting those nutrients. This includes your brain, heart, and lungs, rather than your hair, skin, and nails. Hair, skin, and nail health are closely tied to what you eat along with how many vitamins and minerals your body is absorbing.

It’s normal to lose between 50-100 strands of hair every day. If you’re losing more locks than usual and your nails seem to break easier, you may want to focus on nourishing your hair and nails from the inside out.

Start by eating foods that help produce more keratin, the protein that strengthens your hair and nails. Spinach, beans, oatmeal, salmon, eggs, and berries are all excellent sources of hair- and nail-loving nutrients. Protein, biotin, iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are the best nutrients for helping you maintain the thickness, luster, and growth of your crop.

5. Irritable Mood

Hanger is a real emotion! If you’re battling a busy day and rush out the door without breakfast, your blood sugar and your mood can take a real dip. Studies show that low glucose levels can actually cause aggression and violent behavior (2). So when you haven’t had anything to eat, irritability may be one of the first noticeable side effects of not eating enough food. 

The best way to prevent hanger is to eat regular meals and nourishing snacks. Enjoying consistent meal times will help keep your blood sugar stable, so you can stay on track with your positive mood and good energy. When you feel that first sign of hunger coming, don’t push it off! Listen to it and grab either a meal or a snack, depending on the degree of hunger you’re experiencing to keep you feeling like your best self versus the moody, irritable version.

Bright Balanced Spring Salad | Nutrition Stripped

6. Feeling Chilly

Got the chills, all the time? You need to consume a substantial amount of food to keep your body warm while performing other bodily functions.

If you’re not eating enough, you’re probably not able to efficiently carry out thermogenesis, which is a process that helps your body generate heat. Some research suggests that people who follow a restrictive diet have lower body temperatures than those who don’t (3).

Women who are also underweight or have low body fat might develop “downy” hair (also known as lanugo), as a way for their bodies to cope with heat loss. When your body doesn’t have enough body fat to heat itself up, it can grow lanugo to help trap heat. It’s common in people with anorexia nervosa or people who are extremely thin.

7. Constant Thirst

Making sure you eat enough is actually one way you can manage your hydration levels. Many of the electrolytes you get from food affect thirst. These include sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you still feel thirsty after chugging down a glass of water, it’s a red flag that you may not be consuming enough calories.

Sometimes, your body can also mistake thirst for hunger and misguide you away from the water bottle. Just remember to aim for hydrating beverages such as caffeine-free teas, carbonated unsweetened seltzers, and good ‘ole water. 

8. Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is the scientific term for missing your period. Women may miss their periods for a variety of reasons, including pregnancy, changes in diet, and stress. Sometimes certain medications you take, including contraception, can affect your cycle, too. Specific health conditions like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome can also affect your hormone levels and therefore your period as well.

Amenorrhea can also happen if you don’t eat enough and have low body fat or are underweight (about 10 percent under “normal” weight), which is different for each of us. Being underweight can stop ovulation and cause abnormal changes in your hormones, which is why some women with disordered eating habits or women who are high-performing athletes may often miss their periods. In some cases, their bodies also aren’t getting enough nutrients to carry out normal bodily functions.

The female athlete triad is basically an interrelated cycle that includes low energy intake, amenorrhea, and low bone density. This is most often seen in athletes who are trying to maintain a certain level of “leanness” for a particular sport like figure skating, ballet, gymnastics, or others. 

The Takeaway

The biggest takehome from this article is to be aware and in tune with yourself and your body’s ability to show you signs that something may not feel right. Use these 8 signs and symptoms to check in with yourself and determine whether or not you may need to consume a bit more energy. 

Do You Want to Experience More Balance with your Food Choices?

Then find your balanced eating type!

Take this 45-second free quiz to find out which balanced eating archetype you are, and what your unique type needs to maintain balance with the way you nourish yourself. That way, you can finally be free from food and diet obsession, maintain a balanced weight, and cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body. 

Take The Free Quiz Now

The post 8 Signs Your Body Says You’re Not Eating Enough appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga

Learn the signs and symptoms your body will use to communicate to you that you might not be eating enough during pregnancy. 

From the nausea of the first trimester to the random aversions and new nutrition guidelines, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to food and pregnancy. On top of all of this, you just found out you should be eating more as well. It’s completely understandable that you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed!

With that said, I want to put your mind at ease. Keep reading to find out how you can determine whether or not you’re eating enough during pregnancy. 

Your Pregnancy is Just as Unique as You

First and foremost, I want to preface this by saying your health care team is your number one resource for all of your pregnancy needs. Each woman’s pregnancy is completely individual, therefore the nutrition implications, signs, and symptoms are individual as well.

Be sure to consult your doctor and registered dietitian before making any significant changes or adjustments to your diet. Additionally, be sure to notify them of any irregular signs or symptoms you may notice. The information presented below will reflect those for a complication-free singleton pregnancy.

How Much is Enough?

Before we discuss whether or not you’re eating enough during pregnancy, it’s important to define exactly what, “enough” is.

Surprisingly enough, the first trimester of pregnancy does not require any additional caloric intake. Therefore, stick to your usual intake unless you hear otherwise from your healthcare team! It’s the second and third trimesters where the increase in energy really starts to happen.

Generally speaking, an increase of about 340 calories per day during the second trimester and about 450 calories per day during the third trimester is recommended (2). Physical activity levels and personal needs must also be considered before making specific recommendations.

3 Signs That You May Not Be Eating Enough During Pregnancy

In order for your baby to thrive and grow throughout the course of your pregnancy, adequate intake as mentioned above is vital. Below are some of the common ways your body will communicate to you that you might not be eating enough. 

Inadequate Weight Gain

Over the course of your pregnancy, your doctor will discuss the topic of weight gain with you. They’ll tell you that in order to have a healthy pregnancy, weight gain is to be expected.

In addition to the actual weight of the baby, this increase in weight comes from the following changes:

the mother’s placenta (essentially the “gatekeeper” between the mother and the baby all nutrients travel through this to the baby) amniotic fluid (fluid surrounding the baby) additional fat stores increased blood volume uterus and breast size all contribute to the total amount of weight gained during pregnancy (1).

With all of this in mind, it’s recommended that women gain approximately 25-35 pounds. Yet it’s important to note that your pre-pregnancy weight is the greatest indicator of how much weight gain is expected or recommended for you. You can check out the Mayo Clinic’s general guidelines for weight gain here.

So why am I telling you all of this? In order for the body to create these changes, gain an appropriate amount of weight, and make a happy home for the baby, an adequate amount of nutrients must be readily available via food. 

If you find that you’re not gaining weight adequately, this may be a sign that you are not eating enough during pregnancy. 

Dizziness or Slight Lethargy

Whether we’re pregnant or not, one of the most common causes of dizziness is low blood sugar. Low blood sugar occurs when there isn’t enough glucose, or sugar in the bloodstream in order to maintain balanced sugar levels. Balanced sugar levels are what provide us with consistent, sustained energy. So when these drop, we can feel a bit dizzy, lethargic, or weak.

In order to maintain balanced blood sugar levels, we need to consume enough food. As you’re adjusting to the new nutrient needs as a result of your pregnancy, if you feel a bit dizzy at times, this may be a sign that you’re not eating enough. 

Incessant Hunger

Another common sign that you may not be eating enough is that you’re always hungry. And when I say always, I mean always! After just finishing a meal or snack, randomly throughout the day, or even in the middle of the night. 

Our hunger cues are the body’s way of communicating to us that we need more energy. When our energy needs shift as a result of pregnancy, our hunger cues shift with them. We feel hungrier more often and to a slightly larger degree. 

It’s important to note here that cravings and hunger cues differ slightly. While we may crave the taste of something, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re physically hungry. So don’t worry yourself if you’re not hungry, but just experiencing some crazy cravings! 

If you’re feeling excessive hunger daily, you may not be eating enough during pregnancy. Start to increase your portion sizes as well as the frequency of your meals until you start to feel satiated, satisfied, and full. 

What to Do if you’re Not Eating Enough During Pregnancy

If you find yourself relating to one or more of these three signs, take some time to focus on your intake and increase your portion sizes in a way you feel comfortable with. Add an additional snack or two to your day or slightly increase your portion sizes a bit during your meals. 

Additionally, always be sure to touch base with your healthcare team to keep them up to date. They’ll be able to give you recommendations that are specifically tailored to you and your needs. 

Do You Want to Experience More Balance with your Food Choices?

Then find your balanced eating type!

Take this 45-second free quiz to find out which balanced eating archetype you are, and what your unique type needs to maintain balance with the way you nourish yourself. That way, you can finally be free from food and diet obsession, maintain a balanced weight, and cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body. 

Take The Free Quiz Now

The post How Do I Know if I’m Eating Enough During Pregnancy? appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
15 Healthy Smoothie Recipes You’ll Want to Drink Every Day

Short on time? Looking for a way to pack more nutrients into your day? These healthy smoothie recipes are the perfect solution!

What Goes Into Healthy Smoothie Recipes?

Smoothies are such a great way to get a nutrient-dense meal! They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. But unfortunately, not all smoothies are created equal.

It can be really easy for the sugar content to climb up to 50 grams in just one smoothie. That sugar can come from whole foods like fruits or even added sugars. As a result, a blood sugar spike is caused, which will leave most of us feeling less than our best overall. Whether it causes a crash in energy or makes you feel hungry not long after drinking it.

Healthy smoothie recipes contain protein, starchy carbohydrates, non-starchy carbohydrates (like greens), and nourishing fats. To do this, you use what I call the Foundational Five.

A Foundational Five Nourish Meal is any meal that contains all 5 elements within the Foundational Five formula. This includes non-starchy carbohydrates, starchy and sugary carbohydrates, fat, protein, and the Flavor Factor. If you’re not familiar with my Foundational Five system yet, you can download my free guide where I share more about it!

By following this simple template it keeps food flexible, fun, and nourishing. Our Foundational Five Nourish Meals can be found as smoothies or smoothie bowls, yogurts, oatmeal bowls or breakfast bowls, nourish bowls, salads, soups, stews, and many more.

All of the healthy smoothie recipes below contain these components to make sure each one is packed with the nutrients you need to feel your best!

 

How to Create a Healthy Smoothie Recipe

The Nutrition Stripped Community’s Favorite Healthy Smoothie Recipes

These recipes are the favorites from the Nutrition Stripped community! You can make them as smoothies or bowls. If you make them as a bowl, be sure to try my Smoothie Bowl Sprinkle for a crunch topper!

Almond Butter Pink Beet Smoothie

If you’re a fan of beets, you’ll love this different way of including them in your weekly meal plan. Beets are great to incorporate into our diets for anti-inflammatory and detoxification benefits. They have also been shown to lower high blood pressure and improve both digestive health and athletic performance.

Almond Butter Pink Beet Smoothie | Nutrition Stripped

 

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

I don’t know why this classic combination of bananas and strawberries is so great, but these two flavors pair so well together.

What makes this particular smoothie extra nutritious is all of the antioxidants! It’s packed with phytonutrients like anthocyanins, tannins, flavonols, resveratrol, ellagic acid, and catechins from the strawberries alone.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie | Nutrition Stripped

Warming Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Warming spices include anything from fresh ginger and ground cinnamon, to black pepper, cayenne, garlic, and horseradish. You can easily add these spices to any of your savory or sweet dishes such as soup, dips, stir-fry, frittata, or a smoothie like this one. The great thing about this smoothie recipe is that it’s also rich in fiber from the pumpkin! 

Healthy Warming Spice Smoothie | Nutrition Stripped

 

Strawberry Blueberry Kefir Smoothie for Gut Health

This smoothie contains all whole-food ingredients that support your digestive health! From kefir (which is a fermented probiotic beverage) and yogurt, to ground flax seeds, beans, and berries. You can thank these ingredients for this smoothie’s amazing fiber and antioxidant content!

Gut Health Supportive Smoothie | Nutrition Stripped

Ginger Strawberry Smoothie

If you’re not a fan of super sweet smoothies, this one’s for you. The addition of ginger in this healthy smoothie recipe balances out the sweetness of the strawberries. It’s also a great way to give your regular strawberry smoothie a little change!

5-Minute Spinach Smoothie

Spinach is loaded with iron, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. It’s a great food item to be eating daily!

I’m sharing not only one of my favorite spinach smoothie recipes, but I’m also giving you a template for mixing and matching all of the ingredients. That way you can have slight variations of this smoothie all summer long!

5 Minute Spinach Smoothie | Nutrition Stripped

The Stripped Green Smoothie

The Stripped Green Smoothie is simply a high-quality, nutrient-dense, easily-digestible green smoothie. It’s simply made of organic raw vegetables, greens, and fruits. You can get very creative with using whatever greens and fruits you have in season!

Stripped Green Smoothie | Nutrition Stripped

 

Blueberry Banana Crunch Smoothie Bowl

This Blueberry Banana Crunch Smoothie Bowl is packed with antioxidants! You have the blueberries and crunchy homemade granola to thank for that. You don’t see it and you won’t taste it, but this healthy smoothie recipe is packed with greens, too!

 

Matcha Mango Smoothie

Green tea, especially matcha, offers a smooth, subtle energy boost. It does contain caffeine, but not as much as coffee, making it a great alternative for people who are sensitive to caffeine. Just as you can enjoy matcha in a frothy morning latte, it can also be used in your morning smoothie.

This combines the best of both worlds for a quick and nourishing breakfast to take with you out the door!

 

Creamy Ginger Smoothie 

This is my go-to smoothie in the spring when I want something filling, but also “light” on my digestion. It also helps to keep my energy levels up when I’m out and about, writing or shooting content.

The squeeze of lemon juice and added ginger are great for digestion. Plus, all those healthy fats from the avocado will keep you feeling full, keep your hormones balanced, and keep your skin glowing.

5 Minute Spinach Smoothie | Nutrition Stripped

Beauty Green Smoothie

This smoothie is loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. More specifically, those I target for great skin, hair, and nail health in my daily routine. Not only are you nourishing your skin on a cellular level with this smoothie, but it’s also simple to make and tastes amazing!

Coconut Berry Smoothie

This smoothie will make you feel like you’re at a tropical resort! Coconut is the star of this recipe, giving the smoothie plenty of healthy fat, fiber, and flavor.

Coconut Berry Smoothie | Nutrition Stripped

 

Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie

This smoothie tastes so good that it could be a dessert! The healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants make it a nourishing choice for any time of the day.

Healthy Strawberry Shortcake Shake | Nutrition Stripped

  Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

This classic combination of flavors is super satisfying and beyond simple to whip together!

Odds are, you have all of these pantry staples on hand already, so you’re free to enjoy this easy peanut butter banana smoothie whenever the mood strikes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe | Nutrition Stripped

Triple Berry Smoothie

This is one of my favorite tasting smoothies! It’s sweet from bananas, tangy from the raspberries, and the texture is thick and smooth! Not to mention, this smoothie is very kid-friendly! Anyone opposed to adding “greens” to their drinks will love it. You can’t even taste it here!

Which Healthy Smoothie Recipe Will You Try Next?

The fun part about healthy eating is finding new foods and recipes you love that make it easy and enjoyable for you to eat nutrient-dense meals. So, which one of these healthy smoothie recipes are you going to try next? Pick one to make this week and see if you find a new favorite!

Do You Want to Experience More Balance with your Food Choices?

Then find your balanced eating type!

Take this 45-second free quiz to find out which balanced eating archetype you are, and what your unique type needs to maintain balance with the way you nourish yourself. That way, you can finally be free from food and diet obsession, maintain a balanced weight, and cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body. 

Take The Free Quiz Now

The post 15 Healthy Smoothie Recipes You’ll Want to Drink Every Day appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
Why Hunger Signals Are Important To Understand And Use

Learn why understanding hunger signals may be the key you need to maintaining balanced eating habits. 

Hunger signals are your body’s way of telling you that it needs energy. Your body uses hunger signals to communicate with you throughout the day, every day. We feel different degrees of hunger, satiety, and fullness as a result of our nourishment needs, activity levels, and so much more. 

Being in tune with your hunger signals helps you to make food choices based on your unique needs. It also helps you to understand when factors outside of hunger are influencing your desire to eat, such as your emotions or environment.

Let’s dive into why understanding hunger signals are so important, as well as how you can get started today.

Why Tuning Into Your Hunger Signals Is Important For Lasting Healthy Eating Habits

Learning to listen to your body is just as important as learning how to build balanced meals. Let’s go through my top five reasons why listening to your hunger signals is so important, together. 

1. Your Hunger Signals Tell You What Your Body Needs

Your hunger signals are your body’s way of telling you what it needs to feel and function at its best. This may be that it needs more energy (feeling hunger) or that the portion of food you ate was too much (feeling overly full).

Food is the body’s primary energy source. It’s what allows us to think clearly, build muscle, pump blood, breathe air, and do so much more. While we’re all performing these human functions on a daily basis, we’re doing so in a slightly different way, we’re all a bit unique. 

This is why hunger cues are so important. If the body is undergoing stress, fighting an infection or disease, performing physical labor, or engaging in more or less movement than normal, your body’s energy needs will differ. Your hunger signals reflect these needs. 

2. They Guide Your Portion Sizes

As you become more familiar with your body’s own unique hunger cues, you’ll learn how to make choices that work best for you. The portion sizes you need change day-to-day and meal-by-meal based on what your body needs and what you have (or have not) eaten.

3. Hunger Signals Help You Navigate Emotional Eating

Many times, factors outside of our hunger can influence our food choices. As Registered Dietitians, one of the most common factors we hear about is emotional eating. Emotional eating is when your emotions — anything from boredom to stress or grief — are guiding what, when, and how much you eat, rather than your physical hunger signals.

When you’re in tune with your hunger signals, you’re better able to identify when you’re truly hungry or when your emotions are causing you to reach for food for comfort. You’re then able to address your emotions directly, as opposed to emotionally eating in response. 

4. They Prevent Boredom Eating

Boredom eating is what we call “head hunger.”

When we’re bored, it’s common to mindlessly reach for snacks or sweets out of habit. Eating is fun, so it seems like a perfecty logical choice! But over time, this can lead to bouts of mindless eating, overeating, and sometimes even binge eating.

By practicing using your hunger levels, you can identify when you’re doing this and instead choose another enjoyable activity to fill your time.

5. Hunger Signals Help You Notice Situational or Environmental Triggers

Another situation where we tend to eat aside from being physically hungry is when we’re exposed to a certain environmental or situational cue.

An example of an environmental trigger may be seeing cookies or bags of chips at the office in the break room. When you pass by, you might subconsciously eat them even when you don’t truly want them, simply because they’re there.

A situational trigger, on the other hand, might include something like dining out. When ordering food at a restaurant, the portion on the plate is the same for everyone who orders that entree. There’s really no individuality here! So as you’re eating at a restaurant, you may be more inclined to finish your plate, even if you’re only hungry enough for half of what was served.

Checking in with your hunger signals before you eat can help you identify if you’re actually hungry, or if the environment or situation you’re in is influencing your decision of what to eat or how much to eat.

Measuring Your Hunger Signals 

Throughout the day (before meals, during meals, and after meals), take note of where you are on the hunger and satiety scale. We dive into the details of this much more in-depth in the Mindful Nutrition Method and our Wellness Coaching, but for now, think about this scale on a 1-10 spectrum, where one is totally stuffed, and 10 is completely famished. 

No matter where you fall on the scale, approach this practice with compassion. It’s okay if you overate or if you went too long without eating. It happens to us all!

This practice is designed to help you bring awareness to why that might be, how you feel when that happens, and how you may need to adjust moving forward. With practice, you’ll be able to better understand what your body wants and needs and make choices that align with what it’s asking for.

 

Hunger And Satiety Chart | Nutrition Stripped

Is It Okay to Eat When I’m Not Hungry?

You may be surprised to hear this, but absolutely! There are plenty of reasons to eat even when you aren’t hungry. This may be enjoying dessert after dinner or eating to give your body nourishment even if something like stress is suppressing your hunger.

With mindful eating, it’s all about having heightened awareness of why you’re eating so you can choose the best option for you at any given moment. You may say to yourself, “I’m not that hungry, but I would actually enjoy that dessert right now.”

On the other hand, you may say, “I notice that I’m not actually hungry, but I really want a snack. I think it’s because I’m bored right now. What could I do instead?”

Whatever it may look like for you, this awareness can help you make intentional, mindful choices.

Start Practicing Using Your Hunger Signals

Now, it’s time for you to put this into practice. At your next meal, stop to check in with yourself and see where your hunger levels are. This might be challenging at first, so be patient with yourself as your practice and learn.

Do You Want to Experience More Balance with your Food Choices?

Then find your balanced eating type!

Take this 45-second free quiz to find out which balanced eating archetype you are, and what your unique type needs to maintain balance with the way you nourish yourself. That way, you can finally be free from food and diet obsession, maintain a balanced weight, and cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body. 

Take The Free Quiz Now

The post Why Hunger Signals Are Important To Understand And Use appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
5 Easy Lunches to Prep

Short on time? Looking for a way to streamline your day? These 5 easy lunches to prep are the perfect solution!

Everyone is always looking for some delicious new recipe inspiration, especially when fall rolls around. We’ve got you covered! These recipes are exactly what you’re looking for. They’re all packed with nourishment, are delicious due to their flavor factor, and are super easy to prep in advance. 

There’s nothing worse than having to rummage through your pantry or refrigerator as you’re running out the door on your way to work, or simply popping into the kitchen to have lunch. It’s so much easier to have something prepped and ready to go! That way, you can spend more time getting ready for your day, and less time stressing about what you’re going to eat. 

Try out these five easy lunches to prep to save some time and spice up your weekly lunches! 

Using the Foundational Five to Create Easy Lunches to Prep

In case you’re new to the NS Community and the Mindful Nutrition Method, the Foundational Five system is part of how we teach you to build balanced meals. It makes it easy for you to give your body the nourishment you need while having the flexibility to enjoy the foods you love without stressing about food.

The Foundational Five is made up of five elements of nutrition including Protein, Fat, Non-starchy Carbohydrates, Starchy & Sugary Carbohydrates, and the Flavor Factor (which brings vibrancy, deliciousness, and enjoyment to your meals). 

You can download our free guide that walks you through our Foundational Five system for creating balanced meals that you can use to meal prep or cook fresh this week!

The Nutrition Stripped Community’s Favorite Easy Lunches to Prep

These five recipes are some of the Nutrition Stripped community’s favorites! They’re delicious, easy to prepare in advance, and packed with nourishment to keep you satisfied and satiated after your meals.

Say goodbye to boring, lackluster lunches! 

1. Fall Grain Nourish Bowl

This nourish bowl is quite literally fall in a bowl. It can easily be reheated in a microwave or on the stovetop for a warm, comforting lunch option. The tempeh will give you a boost of protein, while the quinoa and butternut squash will give you the starchy carbohydrate you need to stay energized throughout your day. 

Nourish bowls are some of my favorite ways to prepare lunches in advance because they’re so easy to store and travel with! You can pre-package everything into one storage container, or keep things separate if you prefer to combine them the day of. It’s totally up to you and your preferences. 

Maple Tahini Lemon Drizzle | Nutrition Stripped balanced flavor factor dressing

2. White Bean Soup with the Best Broth Ever

Who doesn’t love a delicious, hearty soup during the fall months? Soups are also a great go-to when it comes to easy lunch recipes to prep. You can prepare a big batch on Sunday while watching your favorite sports teams, or maybe even get it going on the stovetop while you’re taking your work-from-home lunch break on Monday. 

At Nutrition Stripped we always want to make sure our soups are substantial enough to ensure you feel full afterward. This white bean soup is no exception! The white beans are packed with starchy carbohydrates and protein, while the broth is warm, comforting, and delicious. Give this a try next week!

3. Buffalo Tempeh Nourish Bowl

Buffalo makes everything so delicious! And this bowl is no exception. This Foundational Five nourish bowl is a perfect example of a meal to prep with our meal components prepping method because of its variability and multi-faceted components. You can prep your ingredients and have this same bowl for lunch all week, then make extra of a few of the components to add to dinners throughout the week as well! Your options here are endless. 

 

How To Gain Confidence With Taste And Flavor Profiles | Nutrition Stripped

4. Tofu Tikka Masala

I promise this tofu tikka masala is about to be a staple in your lunch lineup. It’s creamy, warming, and oh-so-satisfying. I love making this with tofu, but if you prefer chicken, you can always make that swap! It’s a simple dish with only three major ingredients – rice, tofu, and sauce. While I love prepping this for lunches throughout the week, you could definitely have it for dinner as well. 

Tofu Tikka Masala | Nutrition Stripped

5. Spicy Tempeh Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are such a great way to add excitement and versatility to your lunches. This Spicy Tempeh Stuffed Pepper recipe is a delicious twist on the classic. Plus, it’s so easy to make in bulk! Just think through how many days you’d like to have these stuffed peppers, then prepare as many peppers as there are days. It’s truly as simple as that!

You can also prep a little extra spicy tempeh filling, and mix that with a pasta of your choice as an added dinner. This truly is such an easy lunch to prep because of its versatility and flexibility! 

Spicy Tempeh Stuffed Peppers | Nutrition Stripped

Tips For Making These Easy Lunches to Prep

There are a few tips you should keep in mind that will help you out a bit when prepping these 5 easy lunches. 

Try our food component meal prepping method

Meal prepping can appear to be a bit daunting and overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting started. If this sounds like you, give our food component meal prepping method a try. With this method, you’ll only prep the major components of the meals you’re having (say that’s the quinoa, tofu, and roasted veggies). Then on the day that you’d like to have your planned lunch, you can just mix your prepped ingredients with the rest of the ingredients it calls for! 

This is a great way to ease into meal prepping instead of diving in head first. Meal components give you some flexibility with your meals day-to-day, and ensure you’re not spending countless hours in the kitchen prepping every week. 

Invest in some good storage containers 

Quality storage containers really do make a big difference! If you’re going to be prepping meals on a weekly basis, grab some great glass storage containers. They’re easy to clean, and they keep your food fresh for as long as possible. You can even freeze your meals in these, too! 

Switch out your recipes frequently

I believe the key to meal prepping success is frequent variability. A recipe that you love can become the most boring meal ever if you get sick of it! As you’re integrating these five easy recipes to prep, be sure to switch things up frequently. 

Try picking just one or two recipes for one week, then select two different ones for the following week. On week three, add in the fifth recipe you haven’t tried yet, and revisit one of your favorites from weeks prior! Then just simply repeat the process and keep the rotation going. This will ensure these five recipes stay delicious and exciting for months!

FAQs About These Easy Lunches to Prep

Have a few questions? Check out these FAQs! 

How long do these recipes usually keep for?

Always refer to the recipe itself for the storage life. This will differ recipe-to-recipe based on the ingredients used as well as the cooking methods used. 

What if I’m not a fan of one of the ingredients used?

Never feel like you have to use all the exact same ingredients we recommend. Everyone has different flavor preferences, and that’s a beautiful thing! Feel free to use these recipes as inspiration rather than a steadfast guideline, if that works best for you. 

Do You Want to Experience More Balance with your Food Choices?

Then find your balanced eating type!

Take this 45-second free quiz to find out which balanced eating archetype you are, and what your unique type needs to maintain balance with the way you nourish yourself. That way, you can finally be free from food and diet obsession, maintain a balanced weight, and cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body. 

Take The Free Quiz Now

The post 5 Easy Lunches to Prep appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- Erica Carneglia
Are There Side Effects to Binge Eating or Overeating?

Learn the possible side effects of binge eating and overeating, as well as the first step you can take to break the habit. 

Maybe you had a rough day, or you’re simply feeling a little bored, so you reach for some food. Before you know it, you’re feeling uncomfortably full and asking yourself why you ate so much. If you’ve ever experienced a binge eating episode or overate before, this will sound familiar to you. 

In order to change an existing habit, it’s helpful to understand exactly what’s going on, why it’s happening, as well as the possible repercussions. 

A Friendly Note

Before we dive in, there are three things I want you to remember as you’re reading this article if you are struggling with binge eating or overeating. First, you’re not alone. There is a whole community of people out there (myself included!) ready to support you.

Second, it’s never too late. No matter how difficult or unimaginable change may seem at the moment, you are always worth fighting for. Third, this is always a judgment-free platform! We’re simply here to educate, support, and encourage.

Binge Eating and Overeating 

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. Research tells us that about 1.25% of adult women, 0.42% of adult men, and 1.6% of teens struggle with it (1). An even larger portion of adults and teens struggle with bouts of binge eating or overeating that don’t quite meet the criteria to be diagnosed with a disorder. 

Because of this heightened prevalence, we’re starting to see some recurring side effects in both adults and teens. So what are the side effects to look out for? Let’s dive into it. 

Chocolate Toasted Coconut Tahini Brownies | Nutrition Stripped 4 Side Effects of Binge Eating and Overeating 

There are both physical and mental side effects of binge eating and overeating. The following four are some of the most common ones. 

Reduced Self-Esteem 

Binge eating and overeating tend to be a part of a cycle, and the cycle usually starts with a trigger. It could be extreme hunger, an emotion like sadness or loneliness, anxiety, an environmental cue, or even boredom.

After mindlessly binge eating or overeating as a result of the trigger, emotions of guilt and stress often ensue. You may put yourself down for having engaged in mindless eating and tell yourself you’re never going to reach your health and wellness goals as a result. 

The focus is often on feelings of failure and self-loathing, rather than the trigger itself. Unfortunately, this leads to the cycle repeating itself time and time again. Feelings of guilt, stress, failure, and self-loathing when felt often can lead to a decrease in self-esteem and perceived self-efficacy. 

Acid Reflux 

On a more anatomical level, eating large volumes of food in a short period of time can lead to bouts of acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid comes back up the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. 

It’s an uncomfortable side effect and one that can lead to further health complications down the road as well. If you find that you frequently experience acid reflux after eating, it may be a sign that you’re overeating or possibly binge eating. 

Imbalanced Relationship with Food

There’s one phase of the binge eating and overeating cycle that I didn’t mention above. This is the intervention phase that occurs after the guilt and stress ensue. As a result of overeating, people will often try to, “make up for”, what just took place by creating food rules and restricting their intake. 

Over time, this restriction can cause a strain on their relationship with food, and perpetuate the cycle further. Restriction leads to hunger, which results in a loss of control around food, making incidents of binge eating even more likely. 

When guilt, stress, restriction, and food rules are present in a relationship with food, it becomes imbalanced and quite negative.

Unintentional Weight Gain

Overeating and binge eating is often a form of numbing as a result of an emotional or environmental trigger, just as we discussed. Because of this, usual anatomical cues and considerations are not used.

Rather than pausing to check in and see how hungry or full one might feel, they may simply surpass this point unknowingly. Over time, this can lead to a heightened intake of energy and unintentional weight gain. 

The First Step Towards Change

If you find yourself relating to these side effects of binge eating and overeating, know that you’re not alone. There are steps you can take to break this existing habit and build new, positive habits that can help benefit your wellbeing. 

The first step toward change is to practice something we like to call compassionate curiosity. Start to look at yourself, your actions, and your thoughts with a lens of curiosity.

Instead of focussing on the feelings of self-loathing and self-doubt after an incident of overeating occurs, ask yourself without judgment, why did it happen? Was there a trigger? Does this trigger influence you often? What might you do to remove or reduce said trigger? 

And remember, do this with compassion. This will help you to move forward, slowly but surely reduce the incidents, and cope with your triggers in ways that are positive and beneficial to you. 

Do You Want to Experience More Balance with your Food Choices?

Always know that you never have to go at it alone. Working to develop a balanced relationship with food takes time, knowledge, and patience. We can help!

Get started by finding your balanced eating type. Take this 45-second free quiz to find out which balanced eating archetype you are, and what your unique type needs to maintain balance with the way you nourish yourself. That way, you can finally be free from food and diet obsession, maintain a balanced weight, and cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body. 

Take The Free Quiz Now

The post Are There Side Effects to Binge Eating or Overeating? appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- McKel (Hill) Kooienga
Good Morning Juice

A hydrating juice to say good morning to your body.

You can make this Good Morning Juice in just 5 minutes for a refreshing drink! This juice contains organic cucumbers, organic celery, a green of your choice (such as romaine, spinach, or kale), lemon, lime, and ginger.

This juice will quickly become your favorite part of breakfast! 

Using the Foundational Five to Create Good Morning Juice

In case you’re new to the NS Community and the Mindful Nutrition Method, the Foundational Five system is part of how we teach you to build balanced meals. It makes it easy for you to give your body the nourishment you need while having the flexibility to enjoy the foods you love without stressing about food.

The Foundational Five is made up of five elements of nutrition including Protein, Fat, Non-starchy Carbohydrates, Starchy & Sugary Carbohydrates, and the Flavor Factor (which brings vibrancy, deliciousness, and enjoyment to your meals). 

You can download our free guide that walks you through our Foundational Five system for creating balanced meals that you can use to meal prep or cook fresh this week!

Good Morning Juice | Nutrition Stripped

Ginger Nutrition Benefits  Powerful Antioxidant

Due to its gingerol content, ginger is known for its amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This can result in a decrease in free radical activity, which helps to prevent certain disease states over time. 

Soothes And Stimulates Digestion

Ginger has been valued for its soothing properties for years. It can be used to help aid nausea as well as vomiting as needed. Plus, it can help stimulate those digestive enzymes we need to digest our food well! 

Ingredients Needed To Make This Good Morning Juice English cucumber spinach lime lemon fresh ginger celery How To Make This Good Morning Juice

First, you’ll need a slow juicer or a juicer of your choice. Next, run each piece of fruit and vegetable through the juicer until everything has been juiced. Once all of your juice is combined, you’re good to go!

Tips For Making This Good Morning Juice

There are a couple of tips you should keep in mind that will help you out a bit when assembling this juice.

I wouldn’t recommend meal-prepping juice 

Fresh juice is best when consumed immediately, or within one day of preparation. Instead of batch juicing, you can prepare all of the ingredients needed to make your juice ahead of time. Once prepared, store them in individual airtight glass containers. That way, when you’re ready to make your morning juice, there’s minimal prep work involved!

What To Serve With This Good Morning Juice To Make It Balanced

Have your Good Morning Juice alongside your Foundational Five breakfast of choice to make it balanced. While juices are a phenomenal source of hydration, vitamins, and minerals, they aren’t quite substantial enough to mimic or replace a meal. 

FAQ About This Good Morning Juice What Is Juicing?

Juicing involves a process where the liquid along with most nutrients are extracted from raw fruits and vegetables. This process strips away any solid matter, i.e. the fiber, from the fruits and vegetables, and you’re left with liquid only.

This liquid is not just a hydrating way to “drink water” it’s also a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that are found in the fruits and vegetables that made the juice — all in one easy-to-sip drink.

Is Juicing Healthy?

Juicing can be part of a healthy diet when it’s just that, a part of a balanced diet. You’re adding it to a diet that’s already abundant in whole foods, fiber, protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. It can be enjoyed any time of day, there’s no magic to it in terms of timing!

Juicing isn’t part of a healthy diet when you’re relying on it solely for nutrition. We don’t want to be replacing eating whole foods that are rich in fiber with juice. If you’re juicing at home or buying some at your local smoothie shop, opt for ones that are all vegetable base or greens-based. 

Some juices will be marketed as healthy, yet one small bottle of juice can have three apples juiced (over 50g of sugar) — when was the last time you were able to eat three apples in one sitting? Above all, have fun playing around with the flavors you enjoy! That’s why I shared this Good Morning Juice which is a green juice with lots of citrus and hints of ginger to keep it bright, tangy, and refreshing.

Should I do a Juice Cleanse?

Personally, I don’t recommend engaging in juice fasts, cleanses, or detoxes where you only drink juice for days on end. You can still enjoy the benefits of juicing while still consuming your normal diet — and your normal bowel movements since there’s no fiber in juice, just drinking juice can cause constipation in some people.

Start by simply adding an all-green juice to your daily breakfast or have it first thing when you wake up.

Good Morning Juice | Nutrition Stripped

The post Good Morning Juice appeared first on Nutrition Stripped®.

- Sharon Palmer
Ratatouille with White Beans

A harvest from your summer vegetable garden or trip to the farmers market—and rummage through the kitchen cupboard—never looked so delicious! With one large saucepan and a few simple ingredients, this mouthwatering plant-based, gluten-free Ratatouille with White Beans is sure to satisfy any hearty appetite.

The classic tradition of ratatouille takes full advantage of summery, sunshine-loving vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and herbs. The roots of this dish come from 18th century France in the Provence and Nice area. This Mediterranean recipe follows along with the principle of “making something of nothing.” Essentially, you create cuisine out of all of the beautiful things that grow in the region during a particular season. And those vegetables when paired together create absolute magic, though this is considered a humble, plant-based dish. But the best things in life are simple, rustic, and unassuming. Such as ratatouille!

I’m a huge fan of this dish, as I live in a Mediterranean grown region myself. I always have an abundance of zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and herbs in my garden every summer. So, it’s a cinch to whip up this recipe a couple of times a month during the season. I added a flourish of pine nuts and a can of white beans to boost the nutrition value of this dish. It is essentially a one dish meal, balanced with protein, healthy carbs, and nutrients. Pair it with some crusty, whole grain bread.

Watch me make this recipe live in my Rooted Santa Barbara cooking class here.

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0}.tasty-recipes-equipment{display:flex;flex-wrap:wrap;justify-content:space-evenly}.tasty-recipes-equipment>h3{flex:0 0 100%}.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card{flex:0 0 50%;padding:1.5rem 1rem;text-align:center}@media screen and (min-width:500px){.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card{flex:0 0 33%}}.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card p{font-size:1em;font-weight:700;margin-bottom:0}.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card p a{color:initial}.tasty-recipes-equipment .tasty-link-card span{font-size:.9em}.tasty-recipes .tasty-recipes-nutrition ul{list-style-type:none;margin:0;padding:0}.tasty-recipes .tasty-recipes-nutrition ul:after{clear:both;content:" ";display:block}.tasty-recipes .tasty-recipes-nutrition li{float:left;list-style-type:none;margin-bottom:0;margin-left:0;margin-right:16px}.tasty-recipes-plug{align-items:center;display:flex;flex-wrap:wrap;justify-content:center;margin-bottom:1em;text-align:center}.tasty-recipes-plug a{box-shadow:none;text-decoration:none}.tasty-recipes-plug a img{display:inline-block;height:auto;margin:5px 0 0 8px;width:150px}.tasty-recipes-footer-content{padding:1.5em;text-align:center}.tasty-recipes-footer-content .tasty-recipes-footer-copy{margin-left:0}.tasty-recipes-footer-content img,.tasty-recipes-footer-content svg{width:60px}.tasty-recipes-entry-content .tasty-recipes-entry-footer h3{font-size:1.25em;margin:0 0 .25em;padding:0}.tasty-recipes-entry-footer p{font-size:.75em;margin:0}.tasty-recipes-entry-footer p a{border-bottom:none;box-shadow:none;text-decoration:underline}.tasty-recipes-flash-message{background-color:#fff;border-radius:4px;box-shadow:0 .3px .4px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.024),0 .9px 1.5px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.05),0 3.5px 6px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.1);color:#313135;display:inline-block;font-size:13px;letter-spacing:0;line-height:1.2em;margin-left:10px;padding:4px 10px}@media screen and (min-width:500px){.tasty-recipes-flash-message{padding:4px 10px}}.tasty-recipes-flash-message p{margin:0;padding:0;text-transform:none}@media screen and (min-width:500px){.tasty-recipes-footer-content{align-items:center;display:flex;justify-content:center;padding:1.5em 0;text-align:left}.tasty-recipes-footer-content .tasty-recipes-footer-copy{margin-left:.8em}}@media print{.tasty-recipes-no-print,.tasty-recipes-no-print *{display:none!important}}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox]{cursor:pointer;list-style-position:outside;list-style-type:none!important;margin-left:0!important}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container{position:relative}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]+label{display:inline-block;position:relative;vertical-align:middle}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]{clip:rect(1px 1px 1px 1px);clip:rect(1px,1px,1px,1px);height:1px;overflow:hidden;position:absolute!important;width:1px}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]+label:before{border:1px solid;border-radius:2px;content:"";display:inline-block;height:20px;margin-right:10px;position:relative;width:20px}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]:checked+label:after{border-bottom:2px solid;border-left:2px solid;content:"";display:inline-block;height:6px;left:4px;position:absolute;top:4px;transform:rotate(-45deg);width:12px}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox] .tr-ingredient-checkbox-container input[type=checkbox]:focus+label:before{box-shadow:0 0 8px #5e9ed6;outline:1px solid #5d9dd5}[data-tr-ingredient-checkbox=checked]{opacity:.8;text-decoration:line-through}/* Bold recipe card styles. */ .tasty-recipes{border:5px solid #667;margin-top:6em;margin-bottom:4em}.tasty-recipes.tasty-recipes-has-plug{margin-bottom:1em}.tasty-recipes-plug{margin-bottom:4em}.tasty-recipes-print-button{display:none}.tasty-recipes-image-shim{height:69.5px;clear:both}.tasty-recipes-entry-header{background-color:#667;color:#fff;text-align:center;padding-top:35px;padding-bottom:1.5em;padding-left:2.5em;padding-right:2.5em}.tasty-recipes-entry-header.tasty-recipes-has-image{padding-top:0px}.tasty-recipes-entry-header .tasty-recipes-image{float:none;text-align:center;transform:translateY(-115px);margin-bottom:1em;/* Decide if we need this */}.tasty-recipes-entry-header .tasty-recipes-image img{-webkit-border-radius:50%;-moz-border-radius:50%;border-radius:50%;border:5px solid #667;height:150px;width:150px;display:inline-block;object-fit:cover}.tasty-recipes-entry-header h2{font-size:2em;font-weight:400;text-transform:lowercase;margin-bottom:0;text-align:center;color:#fff;margin-top:0;padding-top:0;padding-bottom:0}.tasty-recipes-has-image .tasty-recipes-entry-header h2{margin-top:-115px}.tasty-recipes-entry-header hr{border:1px solid #b7bbc6;background-color:#b7bbc6;margin-bottom:1em;margin-top:1em}.tasty-recipes-entry-header div.tasty-recipes-rating{text-decoration:none;border:none}.tasty-recipes-entry-header .tasty-recipes-rating:hover{text-decoration:none}.tasty-recipes-entry-header div.tasty-recipes-rating{font-size:1.375em;display:block}.tasty-recipes-entry-header .tasty-recipes-rating p{margin-bottom:0}.tasty-recipes-entry-header span.tasty-recipes-rating{margin-left:0.25em;margin-right:0.25em;color:#fff}.tasty-recipes-entry-header .rating-label{font-style:italic;color:#b7bbc6;f