This post was provided by our friends at Atkins.
It’s common knowledge that consuming foods that contain large amounts of sugar may cause your blood sugar to spike. But did you know other types of carbohydrates may have the same effect on blood sugar?
We call this the “hidden sugar effect.” Hidden sugars are the carbohydrates that convert to sugars in your bloodstream and become excess sugars that are stored as fats.
On average, Americans eat 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Since the human metabolism can only process about 1-2 teaspoons of sugar at a time, anything greater than that is “dumped” into fat storages, leading to excessive fat and weight gain.
Constant increases in blood sugar levels may eventually lead to pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. The majority of Americans are unaware of the hidden sugars in foods often deemed “healthy.” This is the hidden sugar effect.
For example, a medium-sized bagel may have the same impact on your blood sugar as eating 8 teaspoons of sugar (1). An Atkins chocolate peanut butter bar has the same impact as 1.5 teaspoons of sugar.
Since 50 to 60 percent of Americans’ calories come from carbohydrates (2), it is no surprise the coming generation has a shorter life expectancy than their parents (3).
By watching the quantity and quality of carbs you eat, you can prevent blood sugar spikes in your body and ultimately maintain a healthy weight.
You can find out more about the hidden sugar effect at Atkins.com.
This post was provided by our friends at Soylent.
Between early mornings and late nights, grabbing a satisfying, complete meal isn’t always easy to do. Too often, hectic schedules mean scarfing down junk food or eating fast food that leaves you wishing you ate something else, making you victim to a food void. (Food voids are when you eat something you’ll regret because you just need fuel for your busy day.)
Instead of eating half a granola bar you found in your purse for breakfast, or a wilted $10 salad for lunch, you can sip a ready-to-drink meal in a bottle—and the only thing you have to do is twist off the cap.
Look for brands that deliver 20 grams of plant-based protein, a mix of vitamins and minerals, omega-3s, and slow-burning carbs that give you energy and keep you feeling full until your next meal. And when you finally have time to enjoy a meal you want, you’ll appreciate it all the more knowing you made better choices throughout your day.
Rather than whey or casein, some ready-to-drink meals use soy as a protein source, meaning they are vegan and the protein is plant based.
Did you know soy is one of the best protein sources? It’s one of the best because of its bioavailability, meaning it’s easily absorbed by the digestive system, according to the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), a system which gauges how well certain proteins are digested. Soy protein isolate scores a highest possible score of 1.0—it’s the only plant-based protein to achieve this score!
Soy has a smooth, consistent texture, which gives you a better flavor than pea, rice or hemp protein-based drinks. In addition, ready-to-drink meals that use plant-based protein use fewer resources and less water than protein shakes with animal-based proteins.
Carbs You Can Rely On
Carbohydrates fuel your body throughout your day—and lasting energy is all about the right amount and mix of carbs. While simple carbs digest quickly and provide quick boosts of energy, complex carbs digest more slowly and provide more sustained energy.
Look for a ready-to-drink meal with an engineered mix of both types of carbs to give you sustained energy without an energy “spike” and “crash.” After all, you’ve got stuff to do.
Fat is a slow-burning, long-term energy source that helps keep you feeling satiated for longer—meaning less snacking between meals! Look for ready-to-drink meals that use sustainably-sourced sunflower oil, provide omega-3s and omega-6s, plus low saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat per serving.
Vitamins and Minerals
The FDA has identified a mix of vitamins and minerals as essential for an average person’s diet. While everybody’s dietary needs vary, vitamins and minerals assist the body in key functions and biological processes. The ready-to-drink meals you choose should provide vitamins and minerals like calcium, potassium, vitamin C and more in every bottle.
Drinking a meal replacements doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice flavor. Find meal replacements with flavors you want like rich chocolatey cacao, fruity berry taste or oaty, light flavors that won’t overwhelm your palette.
Some meal replacements offer caffeine with the added bonus of l-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid typically found in green tea and shown to have calming effects when paired with caffeine—so you can enjoy the kick of coffee and cut down on the jitters.
There are already a million things on your plate, why spend time worrying about your next meal? Next time you’re at the edge of a food void, just grab a ready-to-drink meal replacement and get on with your day.
Got an issue with gluten? You’re not alone.
It’s estimated that up to 6 percent of the population suffers from some sort of gluten sensitivity, according to studies published in the journal Clinical Nutrition (1). Gluten is a protein found in some grains, including wheat, barley and rye.
On one end of the spectrum are people with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which eating gluten wreaks havoc on the body. It can cause everything from intestinal damage to anemia and osteoporosis (2).
Celiac disease should not be confused with a wheat allergy, or an extreme reaction to foods containing wheat (3). In some cases, a wheat allergy can lead to a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis, which can cause swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing.
On the other side of the equation are those who experience non-celiac gluten sensitivity. If you’re in this camp, your doctor may have ruled out celiac disease and a wheat allergy, but you still deal with uncomfortable digestive issues after eating gluten.
Think you may need to go gluten-free? Let’s take a closer look at what gluten is and the common signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance.
What Is Gluten Intolerance?
If you’re gluten intolerant, your body reacts to the proteins found in gluten-containing foods in a way that can cause stomach, skin and other issues.
It’s not quite the same reaction as someone who has celiac disease or a wheat allergy, says Neal Malik, a registered dietitian nutritionist and the chair of the Department of Nutrition and Basic Sciences at Bastyr University.
Folks with those conditions experience a scary-sounding “systemic immune response” when they eat gluten, he says. “The body overreacts to something it has been exposed to and begins attacking itself,” he says. “In the case of celiac disease, the body’s immune system begins attacking healthy cells in the small intestine, causing damage to those cells. With a wheat allergy, there may be no damage to the small intestine, but instead a more generalized, whole-body response.”
People with gluten intolerance don’t have quite as extreme a reaction, he says.
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
While most of the population feels fine after feasting on bagels, pizza and other gluten-rich foods, people who are gluten intolerant may experience a range of not-so-fun symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain
“To quote the Roman philosopher Lucretius, ‘what food is to one may be bitter poison to another,’” says Malik.
Then there’s what researchers call “systemic manifestations” like headaches, joint and muscle pain, leg or arm numbness, and chronic fatigue (1). There’s even a gluten-induced condition called “foggy mind.”
People with gluten intolerance may also experience skin symptoms like acne, rashes and hives. Mouth ulcers may also be a problem, says Malik. “There is also a condition known as dermatitis herpetiformis that can occur,” he says. “Symptoms include the formation of watery blisters and pimples on the skin.”
If you’re gluten intolerant, you may experience discomfort anywhere from several hours to several days after consuming a food containing the offending protein. “This makes it all the more challenging for individuals and health professionals to discover the underlying cause of their symptoms,” says Malik.
How Is Gluten Intolerance Diagnosed?
If you want to find out whether gluten is causing your stomach pain or foggy mind, you need to cut it out of your diet.
Most physicians will recommend what’s called an “elimination diet,” says Kristin Koskinen, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner at Eat Well, Live Well in Washington State. This involves banishing all foods containing wheat, barley and rye, as well as any oats that aren’t clearly certified as gluten-free, from your plate.
This may sound easy. All you have to do is stop eating bread, pasta, pizza and cereal, right? Yes, but you also have to be careful about not-so-obvious offenders. Foods like soy sauce, gravies and processed lunch meats may contain gluten. There are also salad dressings, meat alternatives and soups that contain surprise gluten.
You also have to watch out for non-food offenders. Some medications and supplements use gluten as a “glue” or binding agent, says Malik. “Many times, individuals will believe they have eliminated the trigger food from their diets, but not realize that they were consuming the offending food unintentionally,” he says. “Gluten is a perfect example of this since it is found in small amounts in so many foods.”
That’s why it’s important to have a physician, gastroenterologist or other health care professional oversee your elimination diet. Their job is to make sure you cut out enough, without cutting out too much. “If not planned properly, an elimination can lead to nutrient deficiencies,” says Malik.
Your doctor may also recommend testing for celiac disease or wheat allergies. Depending on the results, you may also need to undergo an intestinal biopsy. This is considered to be the most reliable and valid method for diagnosing celiac disease, says Malik.
If your physician does suspect you have an allergy or intolerance, then a gluten-free diet may relieve many of your symptoms, says Malik. There are also lifestyle changes you can make to help your gut. “Stress, anxiety, negative thoughts, depression, and physical inactivity may also lead to abnormalities in the gut,” he says.
While the symptoms of gluten intolerance are all over the place, fortunately, there’s an easy fix. “When we get rid of the gluten, the symptoms resolve,” says Koskinen.
Stevia is a no-calorie, natural sweetener, but how does it stack up to other sugar substitutes? Here’s the backstory on stevia and a few things to take into consideration before making the switch from sugar.
What Is Stevia?
The first thing you need to know about stevia (or “rebiana,” as it is sometimes called) is that it’s not a brand name like Equal, Sweet’N Low or other artificial sweeteners. “It’s a general term for all sweeteners derived from the Stevia Rebaudiana bush, an herbal plant that’s prevalent in Asia and South America,” explains Carol Aguirre, a licensed, registered dietitian/nutritionist at Nutrition Connections in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She adds that sweeteners labeled stevia are extracts called steviol glycosides. “The two primary steviol glycosides are rebaudioside A and stevioside,” says Aguirre.
Stevia is sold in the U.S. under several brand names, including Truvia, PureVia, SweetLeaf, and Stevia in the Raw. Classified as a non-nutritive sweetener, stevia provides consumers with a sweet taste that has fewer calories than sugar. You’ll find it in a range of sodas, sports drinks and dairy products as well as in tabletop packets, liquid drops, dissolvable tablets, and baking blends.
Stevia vs. Sugar
In addition to the fact that stevia comes from the leaves of a plant rather than a lab, the natural sweetener’s biggest draw is that it’s low in calories. One packet of stevia, which is equivalent to 2 teaspoons of sugar, provides 5 calories and 1 gram carbohydrates, while Stevia extract, a liquid form of the sweetener, contains no calories. How does sugar compare? Well, 2 teaspoons has 30 calories and 8 grams carbohydrates. While this may not sound like a lot, “people often use more than 2 teaspoons of sugar,” Aguirre says, “so the calories can add up quickly.” As she notes, many experts believe that sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, in the U.S.
Another plus: Stevia is not completely absorbed by the body. Therefore, those looking to lose weight and control blood sugar might choose stevia over sugar, observes Neal Malik, a registered dietitian nutritionist and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Basic Sciences at Bastyr University in California.
When it comes to taste, the raw leaves of the Stevia plant are approximately 40 times sweeter than sugar, and the powdered sweetener derived from them is up to 200 to 300 times more sweet. However, because the chemical compounds found in the Stevia plant interact with both the sweet and bitter receptors on your tongue, some complain about its signature bitter aftertaste. “That bitter taste is why, at least so far, beverages sweetened with stevia extracts mix in other sweeteners as well, such as erythritol, aspartame, or regular sugar,” says Aguirre, who cites a recent study, which analyzed the different components of stevia to find out why certain compounds were perceived as more bitter (1).
The findings will allow for future development of stevia-derived sweeteners to focus on the plant’s sweetest, least bitter compounds. But, she adds, while some researchers spend time identifying the sweetest chemical compounds in stevia, “others are working to breed the sweetest possible version of the stevia plant itself.”
In terms of versatility, stevia has proven as versatile as sugar. “The steviol glycosides found in the stevia plant are relatively stable compounds, which means they can be used in a variety of ways,” says Malik. “Stevia can sweeten drinks, like iced tea and coffee.” In addition, some food manufacturers have begun adding it to their dairy products.
Since stevia’s a concentrated source of sweetness, it can also be substituted for sugar in baked goods—with a few caveats. First and foremost, “it won’t brown the way sugar does,” both Aguirre and Malik point out. What’s more, sugar plays a role in the physical structure of baked goods, and stevia does not provide the same bulk. Thankfully, there’s an easy solve: For each cup of sugar substituted, use of 1/3 cup of a bulking agent, such as egg whites, apple sauce, fruit puree or yogurt, Aguirre suggests. “Sugar helps make cakes lighter, so the finished cake will be denser and potentially doughy,” she explains. “You can counter this by adding a bit more baking powder than is called for in the recipe.”
The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have given a cautious OK to the use of artificial sweeteners in place of sugar to combat obesity, diabetes and all risk factors for heart disease. “They are not magic pills,” Aguirre cautions, “but smart use of non-nutritive sweeteners could potentially help reduce added sugars in our diet, as a result lowering the number of calories you eat.” Reducing calories, in turn, may help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, and lower the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, while also lowering cholesterol.
When it comes to studies that specifically investigate stevia’s role in lowering disease risk, researchers from the United Kingdom and Belgium have found that stevia activates a protein called TRPM5, associated with taste perception. The protein also plays a role in the release of the hormone insulin after eating. These findings could lead to new treatments for Type 2 diabetes (2). However, more evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of stevia for both lowering diabetes risk.
There has also been research into stevia’s anti-cancer abilities. One study published in 2012 connected stevia consumption to breast cancer reduction (3).
Another showed that when stevia was added to natural colon cancer-fighting mixtures, such as blackberry leaf, antioxidant levels increased significantly. But again, more research is needed to confirm these findings (4).
Side Effects of Stevia
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified Stevia and its related compounds as “generally recognized as safe.” Currently, a safe dose is considered 4 milligrams/kilogram body weight per day (5).
As Malik explains, “this means that, at this time, there’s not enough scientific evidence to show that stevia consumption may be harmful to health in the short- or long-term.” However, he points out that animal studies have revealed that large doses of stevia may lead to genetic mutations (6). That said, the verdict’s still out on how large amounts of stevia impact humans, since evidence is lacking .
Although stevia is considered safe for people with diabetes, says Aguirre, “brands that contain dextrose or maltodextrin should be treated with caution. Dextrose is glucose, and maltodextrin is a starch. These ingredients add small amounts of carbs and calories. Sugar alcohols may also slightly tip the carb count.” Bottom line: If you use stevia products now and then, it may not be enough to impact your blood sugar. But if you use them throughout the day, the carbs add up.
Your stomach might also be affected. A 2015 study reported a possible link between non-nutritive sweeteners, including stevia, and a disruption in beneficial intestinal flora (7). The same study also suggested non-nutritive sweeteners may induce glucose intolerance. Additionally, in some people, stevia products made with sugar alcohols may cause digestive issues like bloating and diarrhea.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, stay on the safe side and avoid use, since there is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking stevia.
Lastly, certain medications may interact negatively with stevia. Experts warn those who take lithium to exercise caution because stevia might have an effect like a water pill or “diuretic.” Taking stevia might decrease how well your body gets rid of lithium. In theory, this could result in serious side effects. Talk with your doctor if you are taking lithium. Your dose might need to be changed if you partake in stevia regularly.
In addition, be mindful if you are on diabetes medications. Some research shows that stevia might decrease blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes. In theory, stevia might cause an interaction with diabetes meds that results in blood sugar levels going dangerously low. That said, not all research has found that stevia lowers blood sugar.
Therefore, it is not clear if this potential interaction is cause for concern. Until more is known, monitor your blood sugar closely if you take stevia and tell your doctor if you believe the dose of your diabetes medication needs to be changed. Similarly, if you’re on medication to lower blood pressure, using a natural sweetener might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Again, report any concerns to your health care provider.
How to Use Stevia
There’s a huge variety of stevia on the market, and, in many cases, it comes in the form of fillers and additives. As a consumer, you must always read the ingredient list. Chances are, you’ll see more than just stevia on that list, especially if it’s an inexpensive brand. Most stevia products contain one or more additives to bulk up the product and create a more free-flowing powder. Some examples of fillers include:
Maltodextrin: A filler created from rice, potatoes, or corn that provides a sweet taste and creates an free-flowing product.
Dextrose: A filler made from corn sugar, fruits or honey. It is closer to sugar than other fillers on the market, and because it’s very low in carbohydrates and calories, Dextrose is allowed to be labeled as calorie-free.
Inulin: One of the safest additives is this vegetable, prebiotic fiber.
Erythritol: A sugar alcohol made from corn that’s generally tolerated well.
Xylitol: A sugar alcohol made from birch trees, this additive is one of the safest out there.
Glycerin: The safest of all additives, it is a liquid often found in alcohol-free liquid stevia products. It is derived from fruits and vegetables and does not raise the glycemic index.
If you want to purchase the purest stevia product possible, scour the label for the words “100 percent pure stevia extract” (not stevia powder, which indicates it is a blend and not pure extract). Liquid stevia products may also be in a base of alcohol (much like vanilla extract). However, many alcohol-free varieties are available, so read the ingredients panel closely.
Acne is the most common skin problem in the United States, affecting up to 50 million people annually, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (1). And while the majority of those suffering from acne are between the ages of 12-24, the number of adult women with acne is on the rise (2).
Treatments for acne vary widely and can range from topical solutions and prescription medications to laser resurfacing techniques and surgical intervention. But if you want to fight off acne from the inside, some researchers and dietitians believe that an anti-acne diet could help produce clear, pimple-free skin.
“While diet does not appear to be the culprit for everyone, there is plenty of research available that shows a positive correlation between dairy intake and acne as well as consumption of high-glycemic index foods and the presence of acne,” says Meg Hagar, a registered dietitian and holistic health practitioner working in New York.
Let’s take a closer look at the anti-acne diet, so you can decide whether or not this eating plan is the right option for you.
What Is the Anti-Acne Diet?
“A clear skin diet is about removing troublesome foods but it’s also just as much about adding nourishing foods,” says Hagar.
Most anti-acne diets start with an elimination phase, where participants are instructed to stop eating certain foods. These include high-glycemic foods, dairy products, and foods with added sugar and high saturated fat content.
“Consuming dairy and high-glycemic foods initiates a cascade of events inside the body that eventually lead the sebaceous glands to produce excess oil,” says Hagar. “This then causes clogged pores and eventually contributes to acne.”
While studies have linked a low-glycemic diet to improved acne symptoms (3), acne can have a variety of causes and what works for one person may not work for someone else. “Everyone is different, so there is no clear-skin diet that is right for everyone,” says Hagar. “In fact, a large portion of acne sufferers actually have food sensitivities and intolerances which vary from person to person, and acne is the body’s way of alerting us that something isn’t happy internally.”
Anti-Acne Diet: Foods to Avoid
During the elimination phase, Hagar recommends that patients start by avoiding foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. She also recommends that her clients cut out diary, since some studies link dairy consumption—specifically skim and nonfat varieties—to a greater prevalence of acne (4). “Triggers are different for everyone,” says Hagar. “The biggest triggers I see in practice are dairy, high glycemic foods and excess sugar. All of these foods and ingredients eventually lead to excess oil production in the skin and therefore contribute to acne formation.”
So what exactly should you avoid? Here’s a shortlist of foods to stay away from while on an anti-acne diet:
- Potato chips
- White bread
- Sugary sweets (cookies, baked goods, candy)
- Milk chocolate
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt)
- Foods high in saturated and trans fats
Hagar says that it’s important to pay close attention to food labels when participating in the elimination phase of the anti-acne diet. “There are 61 different names for sugar on the ingredient label, so often it’s missed,” she says. “Common other names are rice syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, and barley malt.”
Once potential trigger foods are removed and patients begin to start seeing clearer skin, Hagar recommends the people begin to reintroduce foods back into their diets and monitor how those foods affect the skin. This helps individuals settle on a long-term diet plan that works specifically for their skin.
“This type of diet is not meant to be followed forever. Once a client’s skin is improved, I ask them to start adding in food groups one by one so we can identify exactly what foods are causing breakouts,” she says. “The purpose of this is to avoid unnecessarily restricting foods.”
Foods That Help Acne
In addition to eliminating certain ingredients while on an anti-acne diet, it’s also important to add in healthy, skin-friendly fare, says Hagar. “A good place to start may be following a diet based largely on lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, tons of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds,” she says.
Here are some key, acne-fighting ingredients to include while on a clear-skin diet:
Omega-3 fatty acids. If you want to help your skin, add foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, says Hagar, who recommends items like fish, nuts, and seeds. “Salmon is a healthy source of complete proteins, which provide all necessary amino acids to support the structure of the skin,” she says. “Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in nuts like almonds and walnuts as well as flaxseed.”
Zinc. A surprising ingredient that can help fight acne is zinc, and Hagar suggests a healthy dosing while on a clear-skin diet. “I always recommend foods that are high in zinc to help fight inflammation, such as pumpkin seeds,” she says. “A handful of these seeds can provide up to a quarter of the estimated zinc needs per day.”
Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. While it might go without saying, we’ll say it—eating foods packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are your best friends when on an anti-acne diet. Vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, are used in the process of building new skin cells, says Hagar, and antioxidants help fight off damaging particles that can weaken the skin and contribute to acne.
You’ll find these acne-fighting properties in the following foods:
- Lean proteins (free-range chicken, wild-caught fish)
- Green, leafy vegetables (spinach, Swiss chard)
- Low-glycemic fruits (berries, cherries, grapefruit, peaches)
- Low-glycemic vegetables (carrots, tomatoes)
- Low-glycemic starches (quinoa, beans, amaranth)
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds)
The Anti-Acne Diet: Things to Consider
Although results from a clear-skin diet won’t happen overnight, Hagar says to be patient. She’s had clients experience an improvement in acne in as little as three weeks, but notes that it could take more time to see a difference. “Your skin cells turn over every four to six weeks,” she says. “So whenever you do change your diet, you should try to stick to it for at least one to two months.”
And even if eating an anti-acne diet does improve your skin, Hagar stresses that there are a lot of factors at play that may cause acne to come back. “Sometimes acne is deeper than diet. Stress, sleep, hydration, environment, and genetics all play a role in the formation of acne,” she says. “If diet changes alone don’t work, it’s important to know when working with a professional might be helpful.”
Meet the pegan diet. It’s the love child of two very different eating styles: the paleo diet and veganism. We know, we know—those two ways of eating seem to be the complete opposite of one another.
Vegans shun all animal products, while the paleo diet suggests we eat like our caveman ancestors and consume mostly high-protein meat. How could a new diet be created from those two approaches? Let us explain.
What Is the Pegan Diet?
Nutrition expert Dr. Mark Hyman introduced the pegan diet in 2015. He realized that the vegan and paleo ways of eating had common ground. They both recommend avoiding processed, packaged foods and instead filling your plate with natural, nutrient-rich ingredients.
“The pegan diet is a healthy compromise of the two,” says Carol Aguirre, a registered dietitian/nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Connections in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “It focuses on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein and good-for-you fats. The best aspects of each are integrated for a balanced dietary plan.”
The Pegan Diet Plan
“While the vegan diet is often low in protein and key nutrients like vitamin B-12, the paleo diet is often heavy in animal protein and saturated fat,” Aguirre says. “The pegan diet is a healthy compromise of the two.”
And because it’s loaded with fiber-filled veggies and satisfying fats, you’ll feel fuller longer, which should help with weight loss. Sugary, processed foods aren’t part of the diet, so eliminating them will also help followers of the diet slim down.
Here’s how to follow the pegan diet:
- Opt for a small portion (1/2 cup or less per meal) of whole or gluten-free grains, including black rice, quinoa, teff, buckwheat, or amaranth.
- Eat sustainably-raised livestock (like grass-fed meat and pasture-raised eggs), which contain more nutrients and tend to be leaner.
- Fill your plate (approximately 75 percent) with fresh, minimally processed vegetables and fruit. But avoid starchy vegetables, like beets, pumpkin, potatoes (regular and sweet) and parsnips.
- Aim for 25 to 35 percent of your total calories to come from omega-3 rich fat sources. Think fatty fish, flax seeds, nuts, avocado, olives and their oils.
- Allow yourself one cheat day per week, along with two desserts and two alcoholic drinks per week.
- Choose foods that have been treated with pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and GMOs.
- Eat foods that can cause a spike in blood sugar (such as refined carbs or anything with sugar or flour).
- Consume vegetable oils high in omega-6s, like soybean and corn oil.
- Include dairy, soy, legumes and gluten in your diet.
The Pegan Diet Formula
To follow the pegan way of eating, Aguirre suggests remembering “5-4-3-2-1.” Over the course of your three meals and two snacks each day, aim for:
- 5 or more cups of fruits and vegetables
- 4 servings of low-glycemic carbs
- 3 servings of lean protein
- 2 servings of healthy fats
- 1 dairy substitute
Pegan Diet Recipes
Here are two satisfying recipes from Aguirre that fit into the pegan way of eating:
Preparation: 10 minutes (active)
Ready in: 25 minutes
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup (red or white) quinoa
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender; drain. Stir in almonds, juice, oils, salt, and onions.
Prepare quinoa as directed in main recipe; drain. Place quinoa in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir and serve. Serves two.
Salmon with Salsa
Preparation: 10 minutes
Ready in: 25 minutes
- 1 medium plum tomato, roughly chopped
- ½ small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and quartered
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 (4-ounce) salmon fillets
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeno, vinegar, chili powder, cumin, and salt to taste in a food processor; process until finely chopped and uniform. Place salmon in a medium roasting pan; spoon the salsa on top. Roast until the salmon is just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Serves two.
What to Consider Before Starting a Pegan Diet
Before you go completely pegan, talk to your health care provider to make sure the diet is a good fit for you. Most people will benefit from this way of eating since it focuses on whole, natural foods. However, we have five food groups for a reason—to get a wide variety of vitamins, nutrients and minerals.
“Slashing dairy can deprive the body of calcium and vitamin D (nutrients that keep bones strong and help fight fatigue, brain fog and depression, so you may need to take a calcium supplement or D vitamin,” says Aguirre. Plus, beans are packed with heart-healthy fiber. “Removing legumes and not eating enough meat can limit muscle-building protein and energizing iron in your diet, which can really devastate workouts.”
If you find the pegan diet hard to sustain, choose the elements of it that work best for you. There are many healthy components of the diet that people can benefit from, even if they don’t follow the plan to a T.
Kate Carey is a mother of three, a loving wife, and she just so happens to have celiac disease. But, unlike those first two titles she wears proudly, she doesn’t let her diagnosis define her, or rule her life.
That doesn’t mean it’s been an easy road for Carey, a stay-at-home mom from West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Carey started to feel sick after the birth of her second child. A few days after she stopped nursing her son (then 6 weeks old), she felt dizzy and was experiencing bouts of diarrhea.
A trip to the ER concluded that she had vertigo and dehydration. As the days went on, the dehydration went away, but the stomach issues and dizziness stayed. “We had no idea what it was,” Carey recalls.
After more ER visits and an eventual trip to a gastrointestinal doctor, Carey had a scope done. It was finally clear what was happening: she had celiac disease.
Coping with Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a serious immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. For those with celiac disease, the consumption of gluten causes a response in the small intestine and, over time, damages the lining of the small intestine and leads to malabsorption of nutrients (1).
Symptoms of celiac disease, like the ones Carey experienced, may include diarrhea, fatigue, dizziness, bloating, weight loss, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and anemia.
The news came as a shock to Carey, who admits, “I had no idea what gluten was, honestly.” It also came at a difficult time, as she was raising her newborn while feeling very sick. “I had trouble getting out of bed even, because I was constantly so dizzy,” she says. “I had also become pretty malnourished. I had no appetite because my stomach was so inflamed.”
Eventually, Carey met with a nutritionist to help her figure out what she could and couldn’t eat to properly manage her condition. During this time, Carey also discovered that she was allergic to dairy, in addition to having celiac disease.
That part came as a major letdown to Carey who, like so many of us, loves dairy and gluten-filled goodies. “I may or may not have cried in friends’ bathrooms, hiding out while they indulged in cookies and all sorts of gluten,” she admits.
Living a Gluten-Free Lifestyle
From that point on, she had to learn how to embrace a gluten-free and dairy-free lifestyle so that she could free her system of the foods that made her sick and get nutrients back into her body.
“I honestly had no idea of all the dairy and gluten that was in foods that I put into my mouth daily,” Carey says. In her research, she found that it wasn’t only foods that contained the very things making her sick: “Even my shampoo, conditioner and pills had wheat in them!”
She also discovered that beauty products she used all the time, such as foundations and lipsticks, contained wheat (e.g., hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein), too.
Changing all of these aspects of her life immediately, from diet to beauty products, was definitely a challenge at first for Carey. But, in the eight years since her initial diagnosis, she says that she has adapted to living with celiac disease.
While Carey admits she misses certain foods (especially a slice of “real” pizza), her family has healthier eating habits as a whole now. “Lots of roasted veggies, shakes, and protein,” she says.
Carey can still indulge within the boundaries of what her diet allows. She says that she still bakes, but when she does, she substitutes her old recipes with gluten-free King Arthur flour.
She has to be careful though, as any exposure to gluten, be it in food or products or through cross-contamination, will lead to bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea for roughly three days.
Even though Carey has had to alter parts of her life to keep the symptoms of celiac disease at bay, she advises anyone else who is just starting their own journey to do their research and check all labels thoroughly.
“You are the best advocate for you,” Carey says. “You can tell your doctor exactly what you are feeling and what is going on in your body.”
Carey also urges anyone going through an initial celiac disease diagnosis not to be discouraged, as difficult as it can be at times. “It’s a process, but you will feel better as soon as your gut heals, I promise.”
Celiac disease, wheat allergies and the prevalence of gluten sensitivities are just a few reasons why people are incorporating gluten-free diets into their lives. In today’s society, there is a great deal of buzz surrounding the word gluten, but a lot of people don’t truly understand or know what gluten is.
Gluten is the name for the main proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. For individuals who have a wheat allergy or celiac disease, the body’s immune system has a negative reaction to these proteins, which can cause damage to the intestinal lining and make it difficult to absorb nutrients. By adapting a diet free of gluten, the body can work more efficiently, resulting in less discomfort for the individual.
Whether you’re switching to a gluten-free diet by choice or because of a health concern, here are some tips to consider to ease the transition.
What Is a Gluten-Free Diet?
Gluten can be found in a number of grains, including wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt and more. Gluten is what gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape. It is also what gives products with these grains a chewy texture.
In a small part of the population, consumption of gluten can trigger reactions as a result of celiac disease, gluten sensitivities and gluten ataxia, which can impact a person’s nervous system. People with these issues can have a variety of negative reactions as a result of consuming foods that contain gluten.
Celiac disease is a rare autoimmune condition in which the immune system negatively responds to the proteins found in gluten-containing foods. It is a genetic condition in which the ingestion of gluten can damage the lining of the small intestine over time, leading to nutrient malabsorption. People with celiac disease should avoid gluten completely. It is estimated that one percent of the population worldwide suffers from celiac disease.
For people with gluten intolerance, the body has a negative response to gluten as a result of a lack of enzymes, not as an immune system response. Symptoms of gluten intolerance include gastrointestinal issues such as pain, bloating and diarrhea. These issues can be avoided by supplementing the diet with digestive enzymes or reducing the amount of gluten in the diet to below intolerance levels. Because it can be difficult to diagnose and because of the confusion between celiac disease, gluten intolerance and general wheat allergies, it is unknown how many people are affected by gluten intolerances.
Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
People who have celiac disease will notice an immediate improvement in symptoms once they begin avoiding gluten. Additional benefits of a gluten-free diet can include promoting immune and digestive health, enhancing energy levels and supporting normal cholesterol. There is also an added benefit of eliminating certain unhealthy foods from the diet, including fried foods and some desserts. People who eliminate gluten from their diet may be more likely to eat more whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, and should avoid eating too many processed gluten-free products.
What Foods Are Included in a Gluten-Free Diet Plan?
In general, a gluten-free diet should consist of lean meats, fish, eggs, plain dairy products (such as milk, yogurt and cheese with no additional flavorings), vegetables, fruits and gluten-free grains. Nuts and seeds can also be consumed on a gluten-free diet, as can starches and flours that come from potatoes, corn, chickpea, soy, almost meal and coconut flour. Spreads, vegetable oils, herbs, spices and most beverages are safe to consume if they are labeled gluten free.
Gluten-free foods must be labeled in a variety of ways: gluten free, free of gluten, no gluten and without gluten. The FDA now enforces the labeling of these four variations, which means there must be an unavoidable presence of gluten that is below 20ppm.
Below is a list of ingredients to avoid on a gluten-free diet, as well as some hidden sources of gluten:
|What To Look Out For On The Ingredient Label
Other Hidden Sources Of Gluten
||Binders and Fillers
||Salad Dressings, Sauces
||Soup, Chili Bases
||Processed Deli Meats
||Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
|Oats (although these are naturally gluten free, they are often processed in facilities with gluten containing grains and may become cross-contaminated)
Fortunately, there are many grain options available for people who are trying to avoid gluten. Here are some suitable alternatives:
- Amaranth –This grain is similar to oats and has a rich, nutty flavor profile that is high in protein, fiber, minerals and B vitamins. This grain can be a great thickener for sauces, soups, stews and even jellies.
- Quinoa – Quinoa contains some of the highest quality protein compared to any other grain or cereal because it has all nine essential amino acids. It is also packed with fiber, iron, magnesium folate and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Quinoa can be used as a thickener for soups, chili and stews. It can also be a great side dish to any main course.
- Chia – Chia seeds come in black or white, both of which are a great source of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They also have a high concentration of plant-based omega 3-fatty acids. You can sprinkle the seeds on gluten free cereals, yogurt or salads, and they can also be added to smoothies and used for puddings.
- Sorghum – Sorghum is a tall-growing cereal grain that is high in protein, phosphorus, potassium fiber, niacin, iron and B6. It is commonly used for the production of sorghum molasses, syrup and in the production of alcoholic beverages, but can also be used in cereals, granola bars, snack foods and baked products.
- Millet – Millet is an ancient grain that is a good source of protein, fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Millet has a mild, sweet flavor and quick cooking time. It can be served alone or turned into a flour to be used for baking.
- Buckwheat – Although commonly included in the lists of grain, buckwheat is not a grain. It is actually a seed rich in trace minerals like manganese, magnesium and copper. It is also a good source of vitamins, fiber as well as quercetin and other bioflavonoids. Buckwheat is great when seasoned and served as a side dish but also is great when added as a thickener to stews or soups.
Gluten-Free Bread Recipe: Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
Recipe courtesy of Kate Carey
If you and your family are considering a gluten-free diet, there are plenty of ways to keep your gut (and your taste buds) happy. Here’s a delicious gluten-free chocolate chip zucchini bread recipe you can try at home:
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup organic sugar
- 1/4 cup melted dairy-free butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded/unpeeled zucchini
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter.
- Combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Lightly beat egg in a large bowl. Mix in sugar, melted butter, applesauce, zucchini, and lemon zest. Gently stir in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into greased loaf pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When it’s ready, let cool and enjoy!
Pro tip: Keep an eye on your bread to avoid overbaking!
Foods to Avoid on a Gluten-Free Diet
A number of foods, including bread, pasta, cereal, baked goods, beer and certain sauces, contain gluten and should be avoided if possible. Anything that is wheat based or uses gluten in the processing of the food should also be avoided—this may include roasted nuts, popcorn, pretzels, couscous, soy sauce certain marinades and salad dressings. Gluten may also be found in a number of cosmetics, personal care products, vitamins and some pharmaceutical medications.
Reading all product and food labels will be essential to determine what you can and cannot eat on a gluten-free diet. Additionally, you will want to seek out gluten-free menu items at restaurants. People with a true gluten allergy should also make sure establishments do not use the same equipment to cook dishes with gluten as they do gluten-free items.
When possible, it’s best not to overindulge in processed gluten-free cookies, breads and other products due to their high sugar content and processed carbohydrates. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that the grains you do eat include plenty of B vitamins and minerals, as some gluten-free foods can be deficient in these.
Dangers of a Gluten-Free Diet
In general, gluten-free diets should be used for those with gluten allergies or intolerances. If you don’t have an allergy or intolerance and still want to try going gluten-free, proceed with caution if you have any other dietary restrictions such as veganism, other allergies or are on paleo or keto diets. Having a highly-restrictive diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies, and because whole wheat is a major source of dietary fiber, it’s important to replace it in your diet with high-fiber vegetables or supplements. In addition, removing grains from your diet completely can lead to deficiencies in B vitamins, iron and magnesium.
You’ll want to work closely with a medical care professional when considering making the change to a gluten-free diet. If you believe you have a gluten allergy or intolerance, you’ll also want to work with an allergist who can perform the appropriate tests and help design the right diet for your body. Make sure that your diet remains both balanced and nutritionally sound when taking on a gluten-free lifestyle.
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Did you know you probably have candida albicans—a type of fungus—living in your digestive tract right now? In fact, we all do. It’s one of the many members of our gut flora (the trillions of microscopic yeasts and bacteria living within our digestive system that keep us healthy).
However, when the fungus overproduces, it can cause candidiasis, an infection that can affect people of all ages. “The human body needs a little bit of yeast to function correctly. When those yeasts grow in excess, a variety of different symptoms can occur,” says Dr. Pamela Reilly, a naturopathic doctor who specializes in candida overgrowth.
Many factors can cause candida to multiply and spread out of control, including a high-carbohydrate eating style, excessive use of antibiotics, long-term use of prescription birth control or too much alcohol consumption.
If you are experiencing candida symptoms, you might consider trying the candida diet. We asked the experts about signs of candida overgrowth and how exactly the candida diet works.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
Symptoms of candida overgrowth may include:
- Recurring yeast infections or urinary tract infections
- Weight gain
- GI issues, including constipation or loose stools
- Sinus infections
- Skin and nail infections
- Joint pain
- Rashes and eczema
What Is the Candida Diet?
The candida diet (sometimes known as the anti-candida diet) is a way of eating that focuses on eliminating certain foods that cause the candida fungus to flourish. This diet helps reduce the candida overgrowth that can cause health issues and alleviate symptoms.
Before beginning the diet, it’s essential to have your GI system evaluated by a health care provider. Candida symptoms are similar to those from other forms of intestinal overgrowth like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or overgrowth from a parasite. A simple stool analysis can identify the correct GI condition.
To start the candida diet, you can merely eliminate certain foods from your diet that cause candida to grow and focus on eating healthy foods that don’t feed the fungus. Adding a probiotic to your diet is also important. It will help you crowd out the candida with healthy, natural gut flora.
“Targeting and killing candida may involve adding in certain pharmaceuticals that your doctor can prescribe or antimicrobial herbs and herbal byproducts like berberine, caprylic acid, grapefruit seed extract and oregano oil. Bentonite clay and activated charcoal can bind up the toxins released as candida is eliminated from the digestive tract,” explains Dr. Mark Iwanicki, a functional and integrative naturopathic doctor with a practice in Mill Valley, California, at The Clear Center of Health, a multidisciplinary, integrative medicine clinic.
Foods to Avoid on the Candida Diet
On the diet, it’s crucial to eliminate all high-sugar, high-carb foods that feed the candida. “By eliminating sugar-rich foods (the food source for candida), you are starving the yeast at its root and causing it to die off,” says Iwanicki.
The list of foods to remove from your diet includes:
- Dairy products
- Fruit juice
- High-sugar fruits (such as banana, melon, pineapple and pears)
- Peanuts (which may contain mold that can exacerbate candida)
- Processed snacks and sweets
- Starchy vegetables (like carrots, potatoes and corn)
- Vinegar (except for apple cider vinegar)
Candida Diet Foods List
The best foods to focus on when following a healthy candida eating style are those that are low in sugar. Meals and snacks should include meat, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
On the candida diet, you can enjoy all of these foods:
- High-protein meat (including chicken, salmon, turkey and beef)
- Non-sugary fruit (like avocado, tomatoes, olives and lemons)
- Non-starchy vegetables (such as zucchini, broccoli, celery, kale, spinach and cucumber)
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butter (except for peanuts)
- Gluten-free grains (including quinoa, buckwheat, millet and teff)
Candida Diet Meals and Snacks
Healthy candida diet meals and snacks include:
- Vegetable patès
- Soups (without pasta)
- Raw veggies dipped in guacamole
- Sliced meats
- Nut butters spread on dehydrated veggie crackers
Candida Diet Recipes
Try these delicious candida-friendly recipes from Dr. Pamela Reilly to add to your diet.
Marinara Over Veggie Noodles
This dish makes an excellent cold entree in the summer or you can heat it up in the winter.
- 1 pound organic tomatoes (or 2 cans organic diced tomatoes)
- 2 cloves garlic (a natural candida suppressant)
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- ½ diced organic onion
Blend lightly in a food processor or blender. Serve over spiral zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 organic cucumber
- 1 handful organic spinach
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup organic coconut water
- Pure stevia extract
Blend all ingredients and serve over ice.
How to Know If the Candida Diet Is Working
After implementing the candida diet, most people usually experience relief from symptoms within two to three weeks. “You should see a reduction in symptoms, such as gas and bloating, runny stools, headache, fatigue, weight loss and even a clearing of skin. If the underlying cause of your symptoms is candida overgrowth, then the candida diet should have a near 100 percent success rate,” says Iwanicki.
Over time, you can slowly reintroduce the foods you eliminated back into your diet. Start with low-glycemic foods first, like sprouted-grain bread, and from there add foods with a higher sugar content back into your meals a little at a time. “However, every person is different, and the reintroduction of foods is more of an art than a strict protocol. Find a good health care practitioner skilled in nutrition and knowledgeable about candida overgrowth to work with on reintroducing foods back into the diet,” says Iwanicki.
You also may need to limit certain foods indefinitely. “Many people will need to be careful with baked goods and sugary foods on a long-term basis and enjoy them as occasional treats,” says Reilly. If you have candida, you can take comfort in the fact that once the candida is under control, you will be able to eat a wide variety of foods again.
This post was provided by our friends at MRM and written by Samantha Crosland.
OK, so we’ve all heard about the keto diet by now. It’s everywhere—all over your social media feed and your best friend’s boyfriend’s sister’s mom lost a million pounds and is in the best shape of her life. So, it begs the question: Why is everyone so obsessed with keto? Is it safe and healthy?
Keto Diet Benefits
The ketogenic (keto, for short) diet has been studied, and studied and studied over and over again, and the results continue to come back the same: The keto diet, when practiced correctly, can work wonders for our health. Yes, you’ll probably lose a bunch of weight, too, which is why it’s really become so popular. But, the benefits far outweigh going down a pant size. We’re talking gut health, brain health, anti-inflammatory lifestyle, energy for days…true internal physical health!
Did you know, the ketogenic diet was actually developed and practiced back in the 1920s for people who suffered from epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, especially in children’s hospitals? Since then, it has been found that a keto diet can help improve your health and encourage weight loss. This high-fat, moderate protein and low-carb diet has been seen to help battle other diseases like diabetes, cancer and even Alzheimer’s while helping to improve triglyceride levels, cholesterol ratios and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Keto Carb Limit
What does “ketogenic” even mean? Ketogenic is to cause ketogenesis, or putting your body in an energy deficit state by limiting carbohydrates, so much so that your liver begins to convert fat into ketone bodies. These ketone bodies become the new energy source for your brain and body.
You might be thinking, “Wait, I thought carbs were an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet?” Here’s the thing: We eat too many carbs. The average American eats around 225 to 325 grams of carbs per day. Considering 70 percent of the population is overweight, it’s safe to say this high amount of consumption is not recommended for those who live the standard sedentary American lifestyle (1).
Yes, when we eat carbs and use them for energy right away—like going for a run—they’re great for us and used efficiently. Unless you’re extremely active every day or a professional athlete, the amount of carbs you need are much smaller than what we’ve been led to believe. When we eat too many carbohydrates and don’t use them for energy, they get converted and stored by and on the body as fat.
Contrary to popular belief, fat is not bad! Fat is, in fact, great for us. Our bodies prefer to use consumed fats as our energy source. Plus, when we eat the proper proportions of macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats), fat doesn’t get stored as fat. It’s used for, you guessed it, energy! In fact, you need to eat fat in order to lose fat. Healthy fats are used throughout our entire body and for so many crucial metabolic functions, it’s not even funny. To starve yourself of fat is to starve your body of essential, vital nutrients.
The human body can’t make essential fatty acids on its own, so we need to get them from our diet. Carbohydrates are not essential because we can make the carbs we need from other nutrients stored in the body. This is another reason the keto diet is popular. You eat barely any carbs, you convert the fat you have stored into energy for your brain and body, you lose weight and you feel fantastic. Our bodies do work more efficiently this way, which is another reason it’s being touted as one of the healthiest diets around.
Adapting to the Keto Diet
The process of becoming a keto powerhouse can be challenging, and some people even experience what’s called the “keto flu.” Now don’t worry, this isn’t necessary or permanent, and there are ways to help combat this. What’s really happening is you’re forcing your body to re-learn how to process foods in order for you to survive. This can take anywhere from two days up to a few weeks, depending on how many carbs you consume, your activity level, lifestyle and a little on your genetic makeup.
The keto flu happens when the reduction in carbs is so drastic, your body goes into shock and you experience withdrawal symptoms: headaches, fatigue, irritability and sugar cravings, just to name a few. You can slowly transition into a keto state by reducing your carb intake over time while increasing your fat and maintaining your protein intake until you get to the recommended keto ranges and stay there. You can also add supplements to your diet to help your body begin using and accessing fat stores more efficiently. (Check out our list of foods to eat and avoid on the keto diet below.)
Getting Into Ketosis
Keto only works when done right, and that’s easier said than done. To get into ketosis, the metabolic state of the ketogenic diet, you need to drastically reduce your carb intake to anywhere between 20 to 50 grams per day, or less. Remember, the average American eats around 225 to 325 grams of carbs per day, so it’s easier said than done for most.
What would a traditional keto macro breakdown look like? Of your daily caloric intake requirements, to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you would want:
- Carbs: 5 percent
- Protein: 20 percent
- Fat: 75 percent
Essentially, you’re going to starve your body of carbs—*NOT to be confused with starving yourself*—and eat a moderate amount of protein and a high amount of healthy fats.
You would also want to up your water intake. More water is never a bad idea, but increasing water is a great way to help your body transition into this new type of diet and lifestyle.
What Foods Can You Eat on the Keto Diet?
- Low-carb veggies (greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions)
- Healthy oils (EVOO, coconut oil, avocado oil)
- Nuts/seeds (chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds)
- Unprocessed cheese (goat cheese, mozzarella, cheddar)
- Butter/ghee (opt for grass-fed, no hormones, etc.)
- Fatty fish (Salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout)
- Meat and poultry (chicken, turkey, steak, ham, sausage, bacon)
Here are some supplements to help make the transition easier:
- MRM Egg White Protein (23 grams protein, no fat, 2 grams carbs…great macros for keto!)
- MRM Smart Blend (advanced essential fatty acid blend in ratios that balance your diet)
- MRM Acetyl L-Carnitine (aid body in accessing fat stores to make energy, liquid or capsule available)
- Fruit (only small portions of berries are allowed)
What Not to Eat on the Keto Diet
- Sugary foods (cake, candy, pastries, soda, fruit juice)
- Grains or starches (wheat products, cereal, rice, pasta)
- Fruit (besides berries)
- Beans/legumes (peas, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts)
- Roots/starchy vegetables (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
- Low-fat products (carbs/sugar are used to replace the low amount of fat)
- Unhealthy fats (processed vegetable oils, mayo)
- Alcohol (7 calories/g as carbs; the high-carb content will throw you out of ketosis)
- Sugar-free diet foods (highly processed and full of sugar alcohols)
Take note: before transitioning into any new diet, especially one that almost eliminates an entire food group, it’s important to consult your doctor. Remember what you learned in preschool: safety first, always!
Nobody wants to overeat, but stress, exhaustion, anger and other emotions can get the best of us. The result? The majority of adults are overweight or obese, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
When your stomach starts rumbling, ghrelin—known as the hunger hormone—is secreted. This sends “Feed me!” signals to the brain. Another hormone, leptin, is an appetite suppressor that tells your brain you’re full. But if you overeat on a regular basis, you can become inured to the power of leptin, so you continue to eat.
“Hunger hormones must be balanced by satiety hormones if wish not to be hungry or fatigued,” explains biochemist Barry Sears, best known for creating the Zone Diet.
What Are Appetite Suppressants?
For years, appetite suppressants in the form of pills, shakes and supplements have been sold both over-the-counter and by prescription for those who have lost touch with their leptin.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, medications classified as appetite suppressants act upon the body’s central nervous system, tricking the body into believing that it’s not hungry (1). Some examples of prescription appetite suppressants include: benzphetamine, diethylpropion, mazindol and phentermine. These medications generally come in the form of tablets or extended-release capsules.
While the pills sound like a magic bullet for getting rid of those excess pounds, the drugs’ effects tend to wear off after a few weeks. They also can have side effects, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, constipation and insomnia.
“Certain foods are a much better way to control appetite than appetite suppressants,” says Julene Stassou, a registered dietitian based in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “These foods create a feeling of satiety that lasts longer than a pill, without the side effects.”
By eating right and staying active, you’re far more likely to keep your weight—as well as the emotions that lead to overeating—at bay. Here are five R.D.-approved foods for staving off hunger naturally.
5 Best Natural Appetite Suppressants
When it comes to smart, satisfying snacking, you can’t go wrong with a handful of almonds. “They go a long way in keeping you full,” says Stassou.
In a four-week randomized study, published in the European Journal of Critical Nutrition, researchers found that those who snacked on almonds weren’t as hungry during meals (2). Even more important, they were not found to increase the risk for weight gain.
An ounce of almonds (about 23 nuts) has heart-healthy unsaturated fat and 6 grams of protein. But when snacking on almonds, portion control is key. A serving has 163 calories. If you’re one of those people who can’t keep your hand out of the bag once you’ve opened it, single-serve packs are a great option, Stassou suggests.
At breakfast or as a snack, protein-filled eggs help control appetite while also keeping your body fat in check.
A 2013 University of Missouri study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people who ate scrambled eggs for breakfast were less hungry at lunchtime than those who ate cereal (3). Blood tests also showed that those who ate the eggs had lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
One large egg has about 70 calories and contains about 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 186 milligrams of cholesterol.
The study also concluded that eating breakfast, even if it’s something lower in protein like cereal or toast with butter, staved off hunger in study participants more than it did for those who ate no breakfast at all. But since the high-protein benefits kept those in the study feeling full for longer, Stassou suggests not limiting egg intake to breakfast.
“Hard-boiled eggs are a nutritious on-the-go snack,” she says. Some may also flip over the idea of an omelet filled with fresh veggies for dinner. The versatility of eggs makes them a go-to any time of day or night.
This summer staple is a go-to for suppressing appetite and satisfying your sweet tooth. “It’s a high-volume food,” explains Stassou, which means it’s rife with both water and fiber.
The concept of eating water sounds a bit strange at first, but a Penn State study published in 2000 suggests that water in food is chemically different than water you drink as a beverage (4). It leaves the stomach more slowly, making you feel fuller.
At 85 calories, a serving of watermelon contains 1.1 grams of dietary fiber for digestive health as well as potassium, a mineral that helps keep blood pressure in check. All of this adds up to a dessert that will fill you up without filling you out.
Green tea has gotten a lot of attention in recent years for its healthful properties. When it comes to suppressing appetite, the evidence is mounting that sipping hot green tea or ingesting green tea in extract form may help curtail appetite, leading you to drop some pounds.
The substances in green tea actually increase levels of hormones that instruct fat cells to break down fat. Doing so releases fat into the bloodstream and makes it available as energy. In one study of 60 obese individuals, the group taking green tea extract lost 7.3 pounds and burned 183 more calories daily after three months (5).
However, not all studies pinpoint green tea as a metabolism booster—it really depends on the individual. Still, sipping on a hot cup of green tea is extremely relaxing, so it’s worth giving it a try between meals.
Turns out that bread made with barley kernels may be preferable to white or whole wheat if you’re trying to eat less.
Researchers at the Food for Health Science Centre at Lund University in Sweden found that certain indigestible carbs, like barley kernels, stimulate gut-derived hormones involved in appetite regulation (6). In the small study, 20 middle-aged participants ate barley kernel bread three times a day for three days. (Others ate white wheat bread.) The participants who were served barley kernel bread experienced decreased blood sugar and insulin levels as well as improved appetite control.
So, when choosing bread, opt for one that’s high in fiber.
Other Ways to Curb Your Appetite
In addition to the foods you eat, your habits can also help manage hunger and cravings. Here are a few habits worth adopting, according to science:
1) Drink More Water
“Drinking water is key,” says Stassou. “Our brain can confuse thirst and hunger, so we want to make sure we drink about eight glasses of liquid that is non-caffeinated, including seltzer and herbal tea.”
2) Get Your Zzzzs
Is a lack of sleep leading you to eat more than you otherwise would? A growing body of research seems to back up that claim. “Poor sleep can increase hormones that control our appetite,” says Stassou. One study found that sleep deprivation has been linked to higher ghrelin levels, increased hunger and higher BMI (7).
3) Stress Less
When your body experiences stress, it unleashes hormones (hello, ghrelin!) that push you to overeat—and chances are you’re reaching for cookies over kale. One published review, which took a close look at ghrelin’s impact on weight, found that stress increases ghrelin, which further stimulates appetite. This, in turn, might impede efforts to maintain your weight after you’ve shed pounds (8). In addition, numerous animal studies report that physical or emotional distress tend to increase intake of fat, sugar or both.
4) Meditate, Early and Late
According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, studies suggest that meditation reduces stress (9). While much of the research has focused on high blood pressure and heart disease, devoting a few minutes to quiet contemplation may also help you become more mindful of food choices. With practice, you will likely pay better attention to the impulse to grab a fat- and sugar-loaded comfort food and inhibit it before you do something you’ll regret.
5) Eat a Balanced Plate
At mealtime, dividing your plate between protein, fat and low-glycemic carbs may make you less likely to feel hungry after lunch or dinner. “The best appetite suppressant is a balanced meal consisting of about 25 grams of protein, about 12 grams of fat and no more than 40 grams of low-glycemic carbs (primarily as non-starchy vegetables) as demonstrated by Harvard Medical in 1999,” says Sears. Stassou also warns against processed food like cakes and cookies, which can spike blood sugar and make you hungrier.
Risks to Consider with Appetite Suppressants
Are there any risks to consider with natural appetite suppressants? First, before altering your diet, speak to your doctor, especially if you have one or more health issues. In addition, keep portion sizes in mind, since too much of a good thing can have the opposite effect, causing you to gain weight.
Lastly, pregnant women or those breastfeeding should avoid using appetite suppressants altogether, particularly those from the local drug store or pharmacy.
“In the short-term, they can affect neurotransmission and increased sympathetic nervous system outputs that may have an adverse [effect] on the fetus,” explains Sears. Keeping your pregnancy pounds in check may be less important than the health of your baby, so definitely talk to your OB/GYN about how to control your appetite when you’re “eating for two.”
The first thing you need in any coffee recipe is good coffee. Good coffee means freshly ground and brewed. But we’re going to take our caffeine fix to the next level by making a cup of Coconut Collagen Keto Coffee, with a bit of vanilla latte flair.
By adding two scoops of LuckyVitamin Pure Collagen to your coffee, you’ll get 10 grams of non-GMO, grass-fed protein. So if you’re drinking your coffee mid-morning or mid-afternoon, the collagen will make you feel fuller. Consuming collagen can also help keep your skin, hair, nails and joints healthy.
As an added bonus, the coconut oil we’ve included in this recipe contains MCTs, a healthy source of fat that provides lasting energy and will also help keep you full.
Many people who start a keto diet often feel tired after the carbs start leaving their body. The caffeine in this coffee, plus the healthy MCTs in the coconut oil, are really going to help you on your way toward that keto goal.
Just like a regular cup of coffee, you can adjust the sweetness to taste. I like a sweet cup of coffee, so eight drops of stevia extract is what works for me.
Once your drink is blended and you remove the lid, you’ll notice how the air escapes and you get a nice, frothy head to your cup of coffee. See how creamy it came out? You get that nice, foamy top, just like a latte!
Here’s how you can whip up a smooth Coconut Collagen Keto Coffee at home:
Coconut Collagen Keto Coffee Recipe
- Pour freshly brewed coffee into a blender cup. Add almond milk creamer, vanilla, coconut oil, pure collagen powder and stevia.
- Close lid and secure container to blender base. Blend until well combined and frothy.
- Remove lid and pour your beverage into a large mug or jar. Cheers!
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Anyone trying to stick to healthy eating habits knows how tempting treats and snacks can be. While there are many purported methods for keeping these cravings at bay, one in particular has garnered a lot of attention lately: appetite suppressant teas.
But what exactly are these teas? What’s in them? And how do they work?
Why We Have Food Cravings
Before getting into the ins and outs of tea, it’s important to understand where the urge to snack comes from. “Cravings can come from many different places. It all depends on what we’ve conditioned ourselves for and what our environments looks like,” says Emily Pierce, a registered dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition, a Philadelphia-based company that offers weight loss and nutrition counseling.
Factors that could entice someone to grab a treat could be anything from genuine hunger to a dip in blood sugar to boredom, Pierce explains. “In the case of boredom, that’s a learned habit that needs to be broken,” she says.
That’s where tea comes in. If an urge to snack isn’t related to hunger, replacing the snacking ritual with tea—namely, a tea that has no sugar or calories—can help a person stick to their healthy food goals. “The act of consuming something can be very satisfying to a person,” Pierce says. “So even if it’s not a sweet or salty treat, tea can certainly help curb that craving.”
Theresa Shank, a registered dietitian and owner of Philly Dietitian in Philadelphia, adds that drinking tea in lieu of giving into a food craving is a step in the right direction, but it might not be enough to squash a craving entirely. “Depending on the strength of the craving, tea may not be the sole solution,” she says. “But it can act as a ‘Plan B,’ or at least a helpful step toward deconditioning a craving.”
6 Best Natural Appetite Suppressant Teas
Before going any further, let’s clarify one thing—the teas discussed below are regular, natural teas without any additives, not the “weight loss” teas often advertised on Instagram. Each type has inherent qualities that are good for curbing the urge to snack and suppressing hunger.
Most people are at least vaguely aware that green tea is “good” for you, but many don’t realize that there is also a lot of science behind this common knowledge. Green tea has been recognized for helping reduce the risk of diseases such as arthritis and diabetes, as well as having some attributes that could reduce a person’s risk of cancer (1). It’s also an ideal choice for people looking to curb their appetite and replace snacks with a healthy beverage.
“Green tea has tons of antioxidants that help fight hunger hormones, which can lead to appetite suppression and weight loss,” notes Georgia Grey, a holistic health coach at Whole Body Healing, based in Denver, Colorado.
Pierce adds that green tea is also rich in phytonutrients.
Mint tea doesn’t necessarily pack in the same health benefits as green tea, but it does help curb your appetite. Studies have shown that mint flavors and aromas suppress hunger (2), sometimes for hours at a time. According to Grey, mint also has the ability to settle your stomach after eating. “It really helps you feel satisfied after a meal,” she says, “which can help prevent you from reaching for a sweet dessert or extra helpings.”
Hibiscus tea is a flavorful, tart brew that is very satisfying to some tea drinkers. Thanks in large part to polyphenols, hibiscus consumption may help promote weight loss and reduce abdominal fat, one study revealed (3). In addition, hibiscus tea can help quench thirst, making it particularly beneficial when consumed in place of sugary drinks!
For people with a sweet tooth, Pierce suggests unsweetened chocolate tea. “If you crave sweets, I recommend drinking a cup of chocolate tea because you get that chocolatey flavor without the sugar and calories,” she says.
Dandelion tea may not necessarily curb hunger, but it is a diuretic (4), which can help ease bloating. It’s also high in potassium, making it ideal for replenishing lost electrolytes.
Pierce says that ginger tea—so long as it’s made with real ginger and not ginger flavoring—may soothe the GI tract and help with digestive issues like mild stomach aches and nausea. “The nice thing about trying teas for stomach issues is that there aren’t any side effects, so if you find that your stomach bothers you from time to time, there’s no reason not to try a stomach-calming tea.”
Pierce adds that fennel tea can have a similar effect as ginger tea.
Appetite Suppressant Tea Recipe
People looking to start a tea habit can certainly find great brews in grocery stores or online, but there’s a certain sense of accomplishment that comes with curating your own special “anti-snacking” brew. Here’s a simple recipe you can try at home. Play around with the ratios to find your tea sweet spot!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- Whole-leaf green tea
- Dried mint leaves
- Dried orange peels
- Tea infuser
- Boiling water
- Start with a whole-leaf green tea base, due to its many potential health benefits.
- Mix in some dried mint leaves for their appetite-suppressing qualities and some dried orange peels for brightness. Orange peels also have anti-inflammatory properties and are just plain tasty!
- Combine your ingredients in a tea-infuser and steep in boiling water to desired strength.
- Drink hot or iced. Enjoy!
Herbal Tea Precautions
Generally speaking, tea is pretty good for you, but there are some health issues you should keep in mind, especially if you’re drinking several cups per day. Pierce cautions that drinking too much tea can interfere with a person’s ability to absorb nutrients. “If you’re drinking a lot of tea, you might want to keep it separate from meals so that it doesn’t affect iron and other nutrient absorption,” she says.
Pierce also says that anyone taking medications should check with their doctor about possible interactions before starting to drink any sort of herbal tea. “Sometimes, those nice, friendly-seeming herbs can cause major issues interacting with medications, especially if you’re drinking them on a regular basis.”
Beyond interactions and side effects, Shank adds that if you are really, physically hungry (not bored, or snacking out of habit), don’t try to overcome those feelings with a cup of tea. “If you are actually hungry, tea can definitely be used as a supplement, especially given that many teas are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids—but not as a replacement.”
When it comes to energy levels, vitamin B12 and iron get all of the glory. But magnesium, an essential nutrient that supports almost every function in the body and improves energy, is relatively unknown by most of us.
So, What Does Magnesium Do?
“Magnesium is important in over 300 functions in the body,” says Tina Marinaccio, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Morristown, New Jersey. “It aids in nerve and muscle conduction, immune function, and stimulates calcitonin, a hormone that helps pull calcium into the skeleton for strong bones.”
And studies suggest that magnesium can prevent:
- Heart disease (1)
- Osteoporosis (2)
- Type 2 diabetes (3)
- Migraines (4)
- Preterm labor (5)
Why Americans Aren’t Getting Enough Magnesium
Despite how important magnesium is for overall health, the World Health Organization reports that less than 60 percent of Americans are getting adequate amounts of the mineral (6).
“Soils are not as nutrient-rich as they once were, and Americans are consuming more processed foods high in calories but low in nutrients,” Marinaccio says. Plus, our drinking water, which used to contain magnesium, is now mostly stripped of the mineral.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
According to Marinaccio, signs you’re not getting enough magnesium may include:
- Frequent muscle cramps
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat (or arrhythmia)
If you think you may have a deficiency, talk to your health care provider. There are many simple blood tests that can tell you for sure.
10 Foods High in Magnesium
The National Institutes of Health has set daily recommended allowance (RDA) targets of 400-420 milligrams for men and 310-320 milligrams for women (7). To ensure you’re getting enough of this crucial mineral, incorporate these magnesium-rich foods (8) into your meals:
Spinach (156 mg per cup): Whether you eat it cooked or raw, spinach provides a major nutrition boost. This veggie contains a variety of vitamins (including vitamins A, C and K1) as well as folic acid, iron and calcium (9).
Almonds (80 mg per ounce): Not only do almonds contain 19 percent of your RDA for magnesium, these little powerhouses also pack 6 grams of protein per ounce, plus fiber and 14 grams of heart-healthy fat (10).
Cashews (74 mg per ounce): Snacking on these naturally cholesterol-free nuts may prevent heart disease (11) because, just like almonds, they contain monounsaturated fat. Cashews also contain arginine, which may have a protective effect on artery walls.
Black beans (60 mg per ½ cup): Toss these legumes into salads, chili or tacos to help strengthen your bones. The hefty amount of magnesium in black beans paired with iron, phosphorous, calcium, copper and zinc (12) all work together to help build bone strength and ward off osteoporosis.
Edamame (50 mg per ½ cup, shelled): Next time you get sushi, start with edamame as an appetizer. These beans provide protein, healthy fat, dietary fiber, calcium, iron and phosphorus (13). Plus, like other soy foods, they contain isoflavones, a compound believed to lower the risk of cancer (14).
Avocado (44 mg per 1 cup): Avocado is known as a superfood for good reason. The fruit contains over 17 essential vitamins and minerals, plus protein, healthy fat and fiber (15).
Baked potato (43 mg per potato with skin): Potatoes are naturally free from fat, sodium and cholesterol. And they contain more potassium and magnesium than a banana (16).
Yogurt (42 mg per cup): Like many dairy products, yogurt is known for its high protein and calcium content. But it also contains probiotics, which research suggests may improve digestion and immune function (17).
Brown rice (42 mg per ½ c, cooked): This healthy whole-grain contains fiber, as well as a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Banana (32 mg per medium banana): Although they’re known for their high potassium content, bananas also provide 8 percent of your RDA for magnesium. Studies show the fruit may also help regulate blood sugar (18), promote weight loss and prevent heart disease (19).
When to Try Magnesium Supplements
Adding foods high in magnesium to your diet may help prevent you from developing a magnesium deficiency, but if you already suspect that you have a true deficiency, speak to your health care provider. Your doctor can talk to you about how to choose a magnesium supplement and help you find the one most suited for your needs.
Some magnesium supplements (like those with magnesium oxide) may irritate the gastrointestinal tract or cause diarrhea. It’s also important to take into account how much magnesium you consume naturally in your diet. Although magnesium is a vital mineral and most people don’t get enough, getting too much can cause side effects like low blood pressure, confusion and other serious issues.
Now that you’re aware of how important this mineral is, keep an eye on how much you’re getting. And next time you need an energy boost, turn to foods high in magnesium!
This post was provided by our friends at 22 Days Nutrition.
Going plant-based sure comes with its perks. The benefits are endless, from increased energy, to guilt-free delicious foods, to saving hundreds of dollars on groceries and more!
Let’s take a dive deep into some of the perks of starting a plant-based diet.
Plant-Based Diet Benefits
Guilt-Free and Delicious Foods
The beauty of a plant-based diet is that you really don’t have to give up the foods you love. If you typically love foods like pizza, burgers and ice cream, you would be amazed with the variety of delicious plant-based alternatives you can find that taste just as good and maybe even better!
Plant Protein Outperforms Whey Protein
Whey protein powders can leave you feeling bloated and gassy, which is why more people are turning to plant-based protein powders. Not only are they easier to digest, but they are also free of antibiotics, cholesterol, gums and lactose. They can also help reduce inflammation and offer a complete amino-acid profile.
Studies show that people can save up to $750 on food when they cut animal products from their diet. Meal planning, especially, is a great way to organize your meals, save money and waste less food. The convenient 22 Days Meal Planner can help you do just that.
Full Body Health
When you take out excessive calories, fat and sugar, what do you get? Better health, of course! The high fiber content can help improve digestion and may prevent certain cancers related to that area. You’re also getting all of the benefits you get from the many nutrient-dense foods, vitamins and minerals you’ll be consuming. A plant-based diet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease and cancer. It can also help promote overall increased health and reduce your risk of illness. Plus, you’ll be cutting all of the fats that make you gain weight!
Keep in mind, you’re making an impact even if you eat just one plant-based meal a day. You’re contributing to the reduction of your carbon footprint, conservation of water and the increase of more land and resources.
Here are some favorite recipes from 22 Days Nutrition that feature their organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and soy-free Plant Power Protein Powders, with 20 grams of protein per serving.
Chocolate Ice Cream
2 sliced frozen bananas
4-6 tablespoons almond milk
¼ cup Chocolate Plant Power Protein Powder
- In food processor or high speed blender, blend together bananas, 4 tablespoons almond milk and protein powder.
- If necessary, add up to an additional 2 tablespoons almond milk to get the consistency you want.
- Scoop into two to three bowls if serving now, or put entire mixture in freezer for one hour for a firmer ice cream. Enjoy!
Of course, you can easily make vanilla ice cream by swapping out the chocolate protein for vanilla.
Tropical Sunrise Smoothie Bowl
You can almost taste the tropical sun when you enjoy this smoothie bowl for breakfast!
1 scoop Strawberry Plant Power Protein Powder
½ cup frozen mango
½ cup frozen peaches
½ cup frozen strawberries
½ cup plant-based milk (coconut tastes especially nice with this blend)
1-2 tablespoons granola
1-2 tablespoons nuts
1 tabelspoon hemp, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon dried unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup mango
- Place all ingredients into a blender (or food processor) and blend until desired consistency.
- Pour into a bowl.
- Top with toppings of choice.
Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 frozen banana
1 scoop Vanilla Plant Power Protein Powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter
½ cup ice (optional)
1 tablespoon crushed peanuts
1 teaspoon of peanut butter
- Blend all ingredients until smooth.
- Serve, top with peanuts, drizzle peanut butter and enjoy!