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Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom

The response to the last blog entry was overwhelmingly positive. So, why not continue the fun? Let’s consider this Part II…with a little twist. Following is a list of great finds that will help you cope with the stressful-excess-eating-pressure-filled-gift-giving-primping-indulging holidays.

The Holiday Hangover. You know the hangover is inevitable…but is it? This one is gold: Drink Before Elixir is a pre-cocktail beverage that claims “No hangovers & reduces redness”. The product’s goal is to “make it healthier and more comfortable for you to enjoy alcohol.” Giddy-up. Loaded with vitamins, potassium and amino acids, I was sold. So does it work? I say “Hell, yes.” Worked for me during a crazy weekend outing when drinks started pouring at 2 pm and the night ended at 3 am. Yep, I still got it. No hangover, no nausea, no problem. Find it on Amazon.

Loyalty Program. Who doesn’t love the Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons, especially for holiday shopping? I can’t keep them in the house. If I wasn’t enough of a loyal customer before, now they really got me. They started a new loyalty program where you pay $29/year for an on-going 20% off your entire purchase. If you receive this exclusive invite…jump on it. Pure brilliance. Here’s more info.

Learn How To Read Your Body. This one is key. Especially during the holidays. Note what causes reactions to your body. Are you unusually bloated after you drink dairy? Do you crash hard after eating carbs? Are you unbearable after eating sugar? Are you especially thirsty in the evenings or AM from not drinking enough water or eating too much salt? Are you super lethargic in the morning from over-eating at night? Listen to these triggers and avoid them. Keep a journal of these reactions and when they occur and you will have incredible insights on how to feel and look better.

Luscious Lashes. We think holidays and we think lash extensions and falsies. There’s a new solution. No more expensive applications or over-promising mascaras. Rodan & Fields just launched this product called Lash Boost with clinical trials resulting in 85% longer, 90% fuller, 63% darker lashes with results in 4 weeks. And they’re killin’ it. Forget the iris-changing, crazy side effects of Latisse. Started mine 2 weeks ago and the difference is remarkably noticeable. They are offering a holiday gift with purchase – free cosmetic bag and eye cream. And now that I have access, so do you (or your favorite gift recipient). Buy here.

Get Matcha’d: I have searched for a good, authentic Matcha Tea for a long time  – however, most of them (including Starbucks) are not the real deal. I recently stumbled upon Motto Sparkling Matcha Tea: made to “make you feel and think better”. For centuries, Matcha has prepared Buddhist monks for meditation and readied samurai warriors for battle. Ok, so I’m neither – but I do frequently adorn my Wonder Woman cape. This Matcha tea is supposed to be a powerful agent of health, wellness and natural energy. Sugars are higher than I would normally grab (13 per bottle) but no more than the natural sugars in my afternoon latte. Small handcrafted batches made up of sparkling water, Matcha green tea, honey, organic agave, fresh lemon juice, organic apple cidar videgar and natural plant extract. (found it at Kings)

Read The Label: The most important thing in weight maintenance is reading the nutrition label. All too often, especially during the holidays, we have this “all or nothing” mentality. “I’ll get back into shape after the holidays.” Which I never truly understood why you would sacrifice 2 months of your life to binge eating. It only results in a guilt-filled, reluctant New Year with unreasonable “now I have to make up for lost time” pound abolishing goals. Learn to read nutrition contents and ingredients and always practice portion control. You can start using 4th grade math: If a serving contains 120 calories, 9 grams of sugar, 18 grams of carbs and 2 grams of saturated fat and there are 5 servings in the bag – and you eat the entire bag (and many of these bags are small and manageable enough to do just that), you have just indulged in 600 calories, 45 grams of sugar, 90 grams of carbs and 10 grams of saturated fat. Can you say sabotage?

Kill The Temptation. Want desperately to eat something on your plate you know is not the best choice? Spill water on it. Ever take a look at left-over food in the kitchen sink? Not very appetizing. Bet ya won’t want it anymore after it’s doused with water.

Talk In Code. We have all that partner in crime that we confide in at a holiday dinner. I mentioned The Skimm in my last write-up but what I forgot to mention was the kick-ass acronym cheat sheet they offer with the latest and greatest social uses. This one’s a must – read here (how fun to practice them over turkey dinner). And if you still haven’t joined The Skimm – do it now.

Burn Fat. There is a pretty good chance you will be indulging during the holidays (avoid making it a month-long habit). The key is to get your heart rate high enough to use up your stored glucose and get into the fat burning zone. How do you do that? Intervals. Workout example for a runner: Warm up 5 minutes at moderate rate (4.5 mph). Jog at a steady pace for 5 minutes (6.0 mph), then exert yourself running at a much faster pace (6.8-7.0) for 2 minutes. You should be breathing heavily and trying to catch your breath for those 2 minutes. Repeat that 5 min/2 min cycle for 30+ minutes, 2-3 times a week. This is the same concept of Tabata. High intervals with moderate rests in between. Adjust the times/pace to your level. Walkers walk for the 5 min and light jog/speed walk for the 2.

And that’s all folks. If you are looking for more tidbits or are interesting in a private nutrition counseling session, email me at dakarrat@yahoo.com. Happy, healthy holidays.

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Sick Of It

athlete-fatigueDo you work out, eat well and take care of yourself yet often find you are sick or tired all the time?

Despite taking such good care of your body, if you are an avid exerciser and fitness enthusiast you can actually break down your immune system with overtraining. Many factors associated with overtraining compromise an athlete’s immune system. In fact, upper respiratory infections are actually very common in athletes.

This was a big topic during the training for my Nutrition Certification I just completed this past week. Let’s break it down.

What Happens?
When you exercise, there is an increase in stress hormones which leads to high inflammatory markers (bi-products of chronic stress). There is also a decrease in innate and acquired immunity.

Interesting Fact: 90 minutes after strenuous activity, your immunity is the lowest and you are more apt to get sick! It’s important to refrain from putting your hands near your mouth or eyes (the most susceptible areas of the body) post exercise & wash your hands immediately.

How Do I Keep The Sickness and Fatigue Away?

Protein
Protein is a key component to building immunity. Make sure you are getting adequate amounts. Your daily protein intake should be between 0.8-1.8 grams per 2.2 lbs. The high or low range depends on your activity level. An average adult needs about 0.8 – 1.2 g/2.2 lbs. where a strength athlete needs between 1.4-1.8 g/2.2 lbs.

Example: For a 150 pound active woman: divide 150 by 2.2lbs and multiply that number by about 1.2 grams of protein. Total = 82 grams of protein per day.

Vitamins and Minerals
There are several vitamins and minerals that work as anti-oxidants and help keep your immunity strong including Vitamin A, E, B6, B12, C and Folic Acid. Zinc and Iron are also important, but they should be ingested in moderation as too much can actually have the opposite effect and lower immunity. Most of these vitamins/minerals can be ingested in the food you eat: green leafy veggies, beans, eggs, dairy, lean meats, fruits and whole grains.

Ingest Carbs
Eating carbs post-exercise is said to help build your immune system and reduce stress hormones. We are not talking about eating a box of crackers or bag of pretzels – try to keep to “real” foods such as fruits, veggies and healthy grains.

Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is critical to helping your body function. Dehydration can be the main reason for fatigue. When you exercise, especially in hotter weather, it’s important to rehydrate 125-150% of fluid loss during exercise. Thirst is regulated in the brain. You are already very dehydrated when you even begin to feel thirsty.  You have to stay ahead of it.

Probiotics
I have professed my belief in probiotics for years – studies suggest probiotic and prebiotic ingestion in athletes reduces sick days.

Polyphenols
Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and evidence for their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases is emerging. They are said to be great stress inhibitors and promote immunity. These can be found in foods like kale, hot peppers, onion, apples, etc. Here is a list of 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols.

Sleep
As I preach to my clients all the time, adequate rest is crucial for an athlete’s recovery and keeps stress hormones low and repairs mental and physical function. Consistent sleep patterns and getting enough sleep to repair your body is crucial in keeping your immunity & performance levels high and stress hormones low.

Stress
And of course, keeping regular stress at bay is a big component. The more stressed you are, the lower your immunity levels and higher your fatigue. Your body may even start to hold onto some fat. The unfortunate result is when we are chronically stressed by life crises and work-life demands, we are prone to getting an extra layer of “visceral fat” deep in our bellies.

Nutrition is a big component of your day to day. It dictates everything – how your body responds to stress, your energy level and a strong immune system. Getting enough anti-oxidants, keeping stress levels in control and being able to replenish & repair your body are key to optimizing your health and energy levels.

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Best Oils to Cook With and Which to Avoid

Is olive oil or coconut oil better for you? Which oils are safe to cook with and which ones should you avoid? All of the information out there can be confusing. Even though an oil might be deemed healthy, it may not stay healthy when heated.

When you’re cooking at a high heat, you want to use oils that are stable and don’t oxidize or easily turn rancid. When oils undergo oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and harmful compounds that shouldn’t be consumed. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are rather resistant to heating, but oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats should be avoided when cooking.oil_and_pan

Best Oil Choices for Cooking:

Coconut Oil

This is one of the best choices for high heat cooking. It is made up of over 90% saturated fatty acids, making it very resistant to heat. This oil is semi-solid at room temperature and it can last for months and years without going rancid.

Coconut oil has powerful health benefits: It is particularly rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and help kill bacteria and other pathogens. Also, the fats in coconut oil can boost metabolism and increase feelings of fullness as compared to other fats.

When buying, look for virgin coconut oil or raw on the label – they offer better flavor and more health benefits. Smoke point is 350°. Refined coconut oil can be used occasionally for recipes, which require heats over 450°, but make sure it isn’t hydrogenated or treated with hexane.

Clarified Butter (Ghee)

Grass-fed ghee is rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. It is also rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) — the essential fatty acid found almost exclusively in grass-fed animals, which is now believed to protect against cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes.

Because the milk solids have been removed from ghee, the elements in dairy that many people are sensitive to, have been removed. The removal of the milk solids also allows you to use ghee at a higher temperature -up to 485° F.

Olive Oil

No surprise here, olive oil is a heart-healthy fat that that contains beneficial antioxidants and has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Make sure to choose high quality extra virgin olive oil. It has many more nutrients and antioxidants than the refined oil olives and it tastes much better.

And contrary to many reports, high quality, extra virgin olive oil can be used for high heat cooking as it has a high smoke point (365°- 400°).

Note – there have been many reports lately about unsavory olive oil dealers who have been combining olive oils with cheap vegetable oils. As a result, you might be unknowingly ingesting unhealthy oils. It is very hard to determine if an olive oil is pure. Artisan or locally produced olive oils tend to be your safest bet. Olea olive oils are 100% pure olive oil. They can be found at oleaestates.com.

Avocodo Oil

Avocado is an excellent choice for frying as it has a very high smoke point (475°- 520°). The composition of avocado oil is similar to olive oil. It is primarily monounsaturated, with some saturated and polyunsaturated mixed in. It can be used for many of the same purposes as olive oil. You can cook with it, or use it cold.

Oils to Avoid When Cooking:

Industrial Seed and Vegetable Oils:

These are highly processed, refined products that are much too rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. The world health organization’s (WHO) recommended ratio for omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is about 4:1. However, the average ratio American’s ingest ranges from 10:1 to 25:1! (Look out for a future blog post on Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s).

Based on this overconsumption of Omega 6’s, it is recommended to avoid the following oils altogether, whether cooking with them or simply using them cold.o-5-NEW-USES-FOR-VEGETABLE-OIL-facebook

  • Soybean Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Safflower Oil

Canola Oil

Canola Oil should be avoided as well due to its harsh processing method. To create canola oil, rape seeds (what canola oil is made from) are heated to high temperature so that the oil can be extracted. This oil is then refined, bleached and deodorized Processing the oil under high heat causes it to go rancid, which is why industrial carcinogenic bleaches and deodorizers like hexane are needed. Additionally, about 87% of canola oil is genetically modified.

Fish Oil and Flaxseed Oil:

These are high in omega-3s, but should not be heated because they are sensitive to oxidation.

Nuts and Peanut Oil:

There are many nut oils available and many have amazing flavors, but due to their high level of polyunsaturated fats, it is recommended to avoid them when cooking.

There is one exception. Macadamia nut oil is mostly monounsaturated (like olive oil) and has great properties and is safe for cooking

Happy cooking 🙂

  • Elizabeth Girouard

    Great article Lisa! Thanks for the useful information.

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