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.”
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.
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-freePlant Power Protein Powders, with 20 grams of protein per serving.
This post was provided by our friends at MTS Nutrition and written by CEO Marc Lobliner.
Whey protein isolate has been touted by some in the sports nutrition industry as superior to whey protein concentrate since it yields more protein per serving, has less carbs and fat, and is “more pure.”
But is it more pure? The reasoning offered is that more filtration will leave you with a superior end product. However, this isn’t accurate.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate, how they’re processed and which one makes the most sense for you.
How Is Whey Protein Made?
The definition of “pure” is one that is “unmodified by an admixture; simple or homogeneous.” In other words, the less you filter the protein, the better.
For example, take MTS Nutrition Machine Whey Protein, which is a cold-filtered whey protein concentrate and isolate blend. The cold-filtration process leaves us with more than 80 percent whey protein, whereas isolate will be more than 90 percent. MTS blends concentrate with isolate simply to keep the fat and carb content lower.
Processing whey protein, especially when using the ion-exchange process, strips the whey of its immune properties. Ion exchange is a method of isolating whey from milk using ion exchange resins, charge affinity and mild pH adjustments.
Ion exchange resins are polymers. These can exchange specific ions within the polymer with ions in a solution that passes through the resin. They alter the pH to separate the carbohydrate from the protein content.
Ion exchange almost completely eliminates kappa-casein glycomacropeptide (GMP), whereas cold processing doesn’t. This is important because GMP enhances the immune system and protects against toxins, bacteria and viruses.
Cold processing whey protein is a method of isolating whey from dairy based on molecular weight, size and permeation properties in a cold processing environment. It is cold to avoid altering the whey molecule at all. This is about as pure as you can get—even temperature is accounted for to keep the whey molecule as in-tact as possible.
The single discrepancy between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate is a small amount of carbohydrate and fat. Seeing that this process keeps the immune properties inherent to the whole whey protein, we feel it is worth the miniscule amount of carbs and fat left over.
To be fair, we will compare the nutritional profiles of two products, both from MTS Nutrition: All Natural Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate (pure isolate) and Machine Whey (concentrate and isolate blend):
Machine All Natural Grass Fed Isolate
Protein: 25 grams
Carbs: 2 grams
Fat: 1 gram
Protein: 25 grams
Carbs: 3 grams
Fat: 2 grams
When Is When Protein Isolate a Better Choice?
Whey protein isolate is a better option if you suffer from lactose intolerance. But unless severe, taking something like MTS Nutrition Machine Uptake with the shake can eliminate most, if not all, issues.
Whey protein isolate might also be a better choice if you are preparing for a sporting event or contest prep where every macronutrient counts, and there aren’t very many. The difference is only 2 to 3 grams, so even in this case, it’s not a big deal.
Isn’t Whey Protein Isolate Absorbed Faster?
Some people will tout the speed of whey protein isolate over whey protein concentrate, but this is illogical. They are both whey protein, so absorption will be similar. And unless taken in a completely fasted state (no food in over 24 hours) with no other food sources (like peanut butter for fat or oatmeal for carbs), it will make no noticeable difference.
What About Cholesterol in Whey Protein?
The cholesterol in whey protein is naturally occurring, and the new scientific consensus is that dietary cholesterol will not lead to cholesterol increases in healthy individuals. Cholesterol is also critical for healthy hormone production.
What Are the Benefits of Whey Blends?
There are a number of benefits of consuming a whey protein blend compared to other protein sources:
Whey protein has a higher biological value than any other protein, period. This includes casein, eggs, soy and beef.
Whey protein concentrate is much easier to flavor than other proteins.
In-tact whey protein concentrate has tremendous immune benefits.
Speedy absorption when you want it: Whey protein is fast when taken on its own, but if you want to slow it down, you can add fat or fiber and it becomes more of a meal.
When using a trusted product like Machine Whey, you can be assured of truth to label and no amino spiking.
It’s time to stop falling for inaccurate claims and sales tactics. Whey protein is the highest quality protein source, period. Whey protein concentrate is not only less expensive than isolate, but also has tremendous benefits beyond lean mass and fat loss.
If you want the best for health and gains, incorporate a high-quality whey protein concentrate like MTS Nutrition Machine Whey into your program and reap the results!
If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you’re brave enough to give up indulgences like sugary treats. But guess what? You can still satisfy your sweet tooth with keto desserts, like this easy-to-make Keto Coconut-Lemon Mug Cake! It’s a single serving, so you don’t have to worry about going overboard.
Eating healthy fats is a key component of the keto diet. MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are a form of saturated fatty acids that are especially useful to incorporate into the keto diet. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs, but you can also get your daily dose in supplement form.
This particular recipe incorporates MCT oil powder. The healthy fats in MCT powder are converted to ketones, which can help sharpen your focus, boost energy and enhance weight loss.
Powdered MCT is easier on the digestive system than MCT oil in its raw form. The powder is also easier to incorporate into baked goods, like this guilt-free mug cake!
The MCT powder here is used in place of butter as a fat source. (If you don’t have MCT oil powder on hand, you can substitute 1 tablespoon of grass-fed butter or coconut oil per scoop.)
Consuming MCTs has never tasted so good. Trust us.
This post was provided by our friends at Nuzest and written by Cliff Harvey, N.D., Dip.Fit, Ph.D.
The ketogenic diet is becoming one of, if not the most popular diet in the mainstream right now. Despite this popularity, the ketogenic diet is misunderstood. Many people think that it is solely a carnivore-style diet and that its very nature excludes vegans. But not so! There are plenty of ways to follow a keto diet and still be vegan. In fact, several of my colleagues and students are keto-vegans.
What Is Ketosis?
Ketogenic diets elicit the state of ketosis. Ketosis is when the body produces ketone bodies, mainly from fats (and some amino acids) to use as an alternative fuel in times of fasting or drastic carbohydrate restriction. When stored carbohydrate (glycogen) reserves become insufficient to supply the glucose normally necessary for fuel metabolism and for the supply of glucose to the brain and central nervous system, an alternative fuel source is needed. Ketones (especially β-hydroxybutyrate or BOHB) are created in the liver to supply fuel to the body and brain.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet itself is a form of low-carb, high-fat, low-to-moderate protein diet. Originally developed as a treatment for childhood epilepsy beginning nearly a century ago, keto and other low-carb, high-fat diets are now being studied for their potential use for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Ketogenic diets typically require that you eat around 4-parts fat to 1-part protein and carbohydrate (a 4:1 protocol). This is what leads people to believe that they can’t follow a ketogenic diet if they are eating an entirely plant-based diet.
The Problem with Ketogenic Diet Is Protein
In order to get quality protein, most people rely on meat, fish, chicken and eggs, which are nearly devoid of carbohydrate and packed with complete protein and with (depending on the meat and cut) relatively high levels of fat. This is great if you’re on a keto diet, but not so great if you’re vegan!
So, vegans typically rely on eating foods that contain protein but also have higher amounts of carbohydrate, which is a keto no-no.
How Vegans Can Get Enough Protein for a Ketogenic Diet, Without the Carbs
To be successful on a vegan keto diet, you need to find protein choices that are relatively low in carbohydrate. Fat intake is easy, as any vegan oil is going to fit the bill for keto. Protein is the tricky part.
Some vegan proteins that are relatively low in carbohydrate include:
Food (g per 100 g)
Pea protein isolate
*These are still relatively high in carbohydrate, but as part of a mixed meal, with vegetables, oils added, and other protein sources, can still be part of a keto diet.
Tips for Meal Planning for the Keto-Vegan
1. Plan Your Meals. The key to planning a vegan keto meal is to prioritize lower-carb protein foods, eat a lot of vegetables, and then add oils to the meal to increase the fat: protein/carb ratio. One of the common problems in going lower-carb is that vegan diets often tend to be based on starchy foods such as rice and potatoes. These often make up the greatest bulk of the diet, but in a vegan keto diet, this needs to be reversed, with the greatest bulk made up of vegetables, followed by low-carb protein foods, and then dressed in healthy fats and oils.
So, a vegan keto meal looks a little something like this: veggies + low-carb protein + oils
Example: 3 servings of veggies (kale, spinach, etc.) + mixed nuts, seeds and sprouted lentils + olive oil vinaigrette
2. Boost Ketones with MCTs. One thing that really helps a vegan keto diet is the use of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Ketosis can be achieved with a little more protein and carbohydrate, and less fat, if you supplement with MCTs, as they are taken up into the liver (as compared to entering the body via the lymph) and are then converted into ketone bodies. If you add a tablespoon of MCT oil to smoothies and use it as part of your salad and vegetable dressings, you’ll make your keto-vegan journey a whole lot easier.
3. Use Pea Protein Isolate. There’s nothing magical about protein powder…but it is a convenient, cost effective way to provide high-quality protein to your diet. A protein smoothie can provide a meal, and for vegan keto, this meal can be tailored to exactly the amount of protein and fat you require. For example, a great option could be to have a scoop of pea protein isolate, with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, flax seeds, some kale, blueberries and a tablespoon of MCT—a perfect keto meal with around 65 percent of the calories from fat (mostly MCT) and more than 20 grams of protein.
So, a day of vegan keto eating could look a little like this:
Breakfast: Smoothie (as above)
Lunch: Leftovers from dinner
Dinner: Salad or vegetables with tofu, tempeh or mixed nuts and seeds, and dressed with flax and olive oil vinaigrette.
It’s actually relatively easy to give a ketogenic diet a go if you’re vegan. While the keto diet isn’t for everyone, it can be a great diet if you can stick to it. Thankfully, there are more ways to do keto than the old-style, classic keto diets, and if you simply avoid the obligate carbohydrates (grains, tubers and fruits), stick to the tips above, and prioritize non-starchy veggies, lower-carb plant-based proteins and healthy fats, you’ll find vegan keto a breeze.
About the author: Dr. Cliff Harvey is a naturopath and clinical nutritionist, and author and speaker specializing in holistic performance nutrition and mind-body-spirit lifestyle counseling.
Meal replacement shakes are marketed to help kickstart a healthier lifestyle, aid in weight loss programs and act as healthier snack options, but can we trust that they are our best choice to achieve these goals?
When you’re on a time crunch and need to eat on the go, sometimes meal replacementsare the only option, so who can blame you? A smoothie or shake can be a great go-to—but only if it’s nutritionally balanced.
We talked to the experts to find out how to determine whether meal replacement shakes are your best bet and how to integrate them into your diet.
Meal Replacement Shake Guidelines
So should you integrate meal replacement shakes into your diet? Depending on your eating style, it can be a good idea to have a shake with salad or fruit alongside, given that the shake you choose is an appropriate one for your specific goals.
Eating healthy food is your best option, of course. But for simplicity and convenience—when time is of the essence and you just don’t have a moment to sit and eat—go for the shake that factors:
Vitamins and minerals
When It Comes to Replacing Meals
Rachel Kreider, a registered dietitian and supplement formulator for BodyBuilding.com, says that some meal replacement shakes can do just that—replace a meal. Look for shakes that are properly formulated though.
“Meal replacement shakes are a super convenient way to get nourishment,” Kreider explains. “But, look for a product that contains high-quality protein, fiber, healthy fat and a vitamin and mineral blend.”
When It Comes to Losing Weight
While some shakes can effectively help you control your calorie intake, which is a huge part of weight loss, it shouldn’t be your main source of fuel. Not all calories are created equal. In fact, Dr. Lori Shemek, diet and weight loss expert, nutritionist and psychologist, doesn’t recommend meal replacement shakes if you’re trying to lose weight.
“Overall, they tend to be short on calories, nutrients, fiber, healthy fat and protein,” she explains. “In order to lose weight, you must have all of these. If the shake is high in sugar—which, many are—it is promoting the fat storage hormone insulin.”
When It Comes to Snacking
If you’re on the go and need something quick and healthy, meal replacement shakes could be a great idea—given that they’re not packed with sugar or unhealthy fats, says Shemek. And while you can drink a meal replacement shake as a snack, you still have to make sure you’re consuming a balanced diet. Shakes can be a part of that, but not your only source for nutrients.
“All of this is goal dependent,” Kreider says. “If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to make sure you’re not consuming too many calories. If you want to build muscle, a product that contains high-quality protein is key and could be a great pre- or post-workout snack.”
Before You Drink a Meal Replacement Shake
And just like not all calories are created equal, not all shakes are created equal. “Some are packed with sugar, preservatives and troublesome ingredients, not to mention they’re not satisfying, which can lead to hunger and cravings,” Shemek warns.
Factor in your goals, understand what your body needs and take it from there. You may realize that a handful of nuts, a sliced avocado, a piece of fruit or a hard-boiled egg are your best go-tos when you’re strapped for time.
Intermittent fasting is the newest healthy eating craze. But the unique aspect of this diet is that you keep track of when you eat, not how much. In fact, it’s technically not a “diet,” since you can eat whatever you want when you’re not fasting. Yet, people that take part in this style of eating often lose weight (1). And studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help you live longer (2) and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease (3).
So, What Exactly Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a method of eating that involves abstaining from food for a set amount of time. The fasting periods can range from 12 hours to a full day. Because your body has a break from actively digesting food, your body can burn more fat during the fasting portion.
The dietary approach dates back centuries but became trendy recently. “Many religions fast for various reasons and have been doing so for years,” says registered dietitian Amanda Barnes. “Intermittent fasting gained popularity in 2012 with the book The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley. The book touted that fasting two non-consecutive days per week leads to weight loss and other benefits.”
3 Intermittent Fasting Methods to Try
According to Barnes, there are three different ways to approach intermittent fasting:
Alternate day fasting or 5:2: You eat whatever you want five days per week, but don’t consume any calories two non-consecutive days per week.
Modified fasting: Similar to the 5:2 method, you can eat whatever you want five days per week. On the other two days, you can take in 20 to 25 percent of your daily caloric needs (approximately 400 to 600 calories).
Time-restricted fasting: You fast between 12 to 18 hours per day, but can eat whatever you want during your non-fasting time. Many people skip breakfast and then eat between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day.
What Intermittent Fasting Enthusiasts Love About It
If people you know eat this way, you’ll know about it. Let’s just say people who practice intermittent fasting tend to become devoted to this method of eating. It’s like the CrossFit of nutrition plans. Here’s what intermittent fasting fans love about it:
Weight loss: Studies consistently show that fasting leads to weight loss, although Barnes points out that most studies on intermittent fasting have been small (usually 100 participants or less). “If you’re skipping meals or eliminating a day of calories overall throughout the week, you’ll consume fewer calories, which will naturally lead to weight loss,” says Barnes.
Lack of meal prep: Most methods of eating healthfully include some form of meal prep or planning. With the time-restricted method of intermittent fasting, you’re eating one less meal per day. That’s one less meal to think about, shop for or prepare.
No forbidden foods: Unlike other popular diets, no foods are off-limits, and you don’t count calories. You can eat socially, drink cocktails and have dessert (as long as it’s during your eating window, of course).
How to Practice Intermittent Fasting
Before starting any new eating pattern, it’s important to talk to your doctor and make sure it’s safe for you. And certain people should avoid intermittent fasting entirely. “Fasting can affect blood sugar levels and leave certain populations more at risk. If you’re pregnant, have any health conditions, especially diabetes, heart conditions or are prone to low blood sugar, this diet is risky,” says Barnes. She also recommends that people who take medications (especially those that need to be consumed with food) consult with a doctor before attempting intermittent fasting. “And anyone with disordered eating should avoid following any strict diet, intermittent fasting included,” adds Barnes.
Once your health care provider gives you the go-ahead, here’s how to start:
Pick the method that works best for you. Look at your current schedule and eating habits to decide which strategy fits into your life. Do you have some jam-packed work days where you barely have time to eat? Maybe you try the modified fasting method (where you eat limited calories two days per week). If you’re never in the mood for breakfast, you might want to try the time-restricted approach, and only eat in the afternoon and early evening. Start with the system you think will work best, but don’t worry, you can switch to another method if it’s not sustainable for you.
Know the obsessive food thoughts will pass. Many newbies to this eating style admit that the first few days can be rough and fantasizing about food is common. But by a week into intermittent fasting, hunger pangs should subside, your energy levels should be consistent and you’ll have a better idea of whether this eating style is something you’ll want to stick with.
Take it slow exercise-wise: Most people who practice intermittent fasting work out regularly. “You might feel hungry after a workout, so it might not be enjoyable to do it on a full fasting day. Walking, yoga and stretching might be better on fasting days to avoid any negative side effects,” says Barnes. If you do time-restricted fasting, it might be best to save your exercise session for right before you break your fast for the day.
Don’t forget to drink up: It’s important to stay hydrated while fasting, so even though you’re not eating, keep your water bottle handy. And during fasting times, you’re allowed to have tea or black coffee. “Keep in mind that caffeine can have greater effects on an empty stomach, so you might be more prone to shaking or anxiety if you consume too much. Again, listen to your body and how it’s feeling with a new routine.”
An estimated 10 to 15 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), according to the American College of Gastroenterology (1). That equates to between 25 million and 45 million people. And if you’re one of them, you know just how painful and uncomfortable the chronic symptoms can be.
People with IBS suffer from abdominal cramping, diarrhea, bloating, constipation and urgent bowel movements. And while IBS is considered a functional gastrointestinal disease (in the sense that it’s not life-threatening), it remains important for people suffering from IBS to find relief for the triggers and symptoms.
One way of potentially alleviating IBS symptoms is to consider a low-FODMAP diet. “Studies have now been conducted worldwide showing that a low-FODMAP diet is effective in managing IBS symptoms,” says Dr. Marina Iacovou, senior research dietitian and project manager at Monash University in Melbourne Australia—a leading research university for FODMAP studies. “The diet has been shown to be effective in 3 out of 4 people, or approximately 75 percent.”
So is a low-FODMAP diet something that you should try? It gets a bit complicated, so let’s break it down.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are a group of fermentable short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are indigestible or poorly absorbed by some people.
“As FODMAPs travel through the gastrointestinal tract, they draw excess fluid into the small intestine and generate gas when they are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine,” says Dédé Wilson, co-founder of FODMAP Everyday and author of The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step. “This fluid and gas build-up can lead to symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal bloating and distension, pain, flatulence and nausea, as well as diarrhea and constipation.”
Understanding the Different Types of FODMAPs
A key part of being on a low-FODMAP diet is understanding the types of FODMAPs and what foods they are commonly found in.
This term encompasses fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides, says Wilson. Common foods that are high in these FODMAPs include wheat, onions, garlic, beans and cashews.
Wilson explains that when it comes to FODMAPS, disaccharides usually refer to the lactose found in dairy products, such as milk, ice cream, custard, puddings and certain types of cheese. Lactose intolerance is not uncommon. According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, it’s estimated that nearly 30 million to 50 million American adults have sensitivities to lactose.
“This references the simple sugar called fructose,” says Wilson. “Fructose is a problem when it is present in greater amounts than glucose in foods.” Some examples of foods containing monosaccharides include apples, mangoes, pears, asparagus, agave and honey.
Polyols are commonly known as “sugar alcohols,” but these compounds are neither sugar nor alcohol. “They do taste sweet, but they won’t get you drunk,” says Wilson.
Polyols such as sorbitol and mannitol occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables, including apples, blackberries and peaches. But Wilson says commercially manufactured polyols such as xylitol, maltitol and isomalt are also found in sugar-free gum, candy and other processed foods, as well as some dietary supplements and medications.
Stages of a Low-FODMAP Diet
There are multiple stages of a low-FODMAP diet. The first two phases refer to an elimination phase and what’s called the “challenge” or reintroduction stage. These stages take place before settling on a long-term dietary plan.
“The elimination phase is a brief two- to six-week phase where FODMAPs are eliminated from the diet to calm the digestive system,” says Wilson. “Its brevity is important because this phase eliminates certain sources of fiber and prebiotics, and following any very restrictive diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies.”
Because of this, Wilson explains that it’s very important to work under the supervision and guidance of a registered dietician or gastroenterologist before starting on a low-FODMAP diet.
Iacovou agrees. “It is very important for people to reach a state where their symptoms are well-controlled and not troublesome,” she says. “It is equally as important that they eventually identify which foods are key triggers for their symptoms.”
Once the elimination phase is complete, individuals can start to reintroduce FODMAP foods back into their diets. The “challenge” or “reintroduction” phase may take several months and is meant to identify the specific types of FODMAPs and foods that trigger IBS symptoms. “Eventually foods can be reintroduced into the diet at a dose that is well-tolerated,” says Iacovou. “Every individual will be different, as symptoms and tolerance levels vary between people.”
Following the elimination and reintroduction phases, it’s important to work with a registered dietician or gastroenterologist to figure out how a lower-FODMAP diet can work long term. “The goal is to always eat as broadly as possible without triggering symptoms, and this can mean constant vigilance,” says Wilson.
Foods to Avoid on a Low-FODMAP Diet
During all stages of a low-FODMAP diet, no entire food group is off limits. While not a complete and comprehensive list, Wilson and Iacovou say that the following are common high-FODMAP foods that should be avoided during the elimination phase and may be troublesome for people with IBS:
But it’s important to keep in mind that the amount of FODMAPS in certain foods are related to portion size. “The same food can become high-FODMAP if too much is eaten,” says Wilson. “Almonds are a perfect example. Ten whole almonds are fine, but 20 are not.”
Working with a registered dietician or your gastroenterologist is imperative to incorporating the right recipes and portion sizes that work for you.
The list of low-FODMAP foods is extensive, and individuals on this diet have plenty of options. “People can still eat a complete, nutritionally-balanced diet that is based on their habitual diet,” says Iacovou.
But according to Wilson, some of the most common no- or low-FODMAP foods include:
One of the biggest risk factors of a low-FODMAP diet, says Wilson, is when people self-diagnose and attempt to embark on this type of eating without working with a medical professional. “Risks come in applying the diet incorrectly,” she says. “This can happen if you use disreputable or incorrect sources. People download apps because they are free, make recipes because they are called low-FODMAP, and believe what they read on blogs. Unfortunately, there are many sources presenting information that is not accurate.”
Iacovou also says that the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet should not be followed long-term. “Eventually people will reach a point where their diet is personalized to a tolerance level that controls their symptoms,” she explains. In addition to potentially altering gut bacteria composition, she says, unnecessary long-term restriction can compromise social activities and initiate food fears. Because of this, the low-FODMAP diet is not recommended for individuals at risk of or who have eating disorders.
Because of its complexity, the low-FODMAP diet isn’t meant to be the next diet trend. “It is not the next ‘fad’ diet or for anyone seeking the next best ‘healthy’ diet,” says Iacovou. “The low-FODMAP diet is a way of eating for people diagnosed with IBS to reduce their symptoms that would otherwise be problematic on a daily basis.”
In fact, says Wilson, people shouldn’t start on a low-FODMAP diet until they have a formal IBS diagnosis from a gastroenterologist and the diet is explicitly suggested by a doctor.
If a low-FODMAP diet is recommended, individuals should keep track of their symptoms and how they feel during each stage of the diet. Wilson says that personal feedback is imperative to success. “This is a learning diet and while it is always best to work with a registered dietitian, ultimately you are going to be able to give yourself the best and most specific feedback,” she says. “You are in charge, and after years of feeling like food has been charge, it’s an incredibly empowering position to be in.”
From detox teas to cleansing kits complete with supplements and drink powders, detox diets and body cleanses remain a popular trend. Detoxes and cleanses promise to remove toxins from your body, help strengthen your immune system, boost energy, lead to weight loss and even brighten skin. But before you jump on the detox bandwagon, it’s always important to make sure anything you put your body through is safe, healthy and meets your specific goals.
5 Things to Consider Before Doing a Detox or Cleanse
While most detoxification and cleansing kits provide specific instructions and supplements to help you along the way, you should also factor:
How long the program takes. Some can take as little as three days, while others can last for months.
How it integrates into your current routine and diet. Will you be able to eat during the cleanse or will you strictly consume what’s provided for you? How many meals, drinks and supplements will you be consuming and at what intervals?
How it will impact your day to day and mood. If the cleanse requires you to stop eating entirely, will you be OK with that?
Your current health state. Do you have specific health needs that need to be factored in? If so, consult a doctor before you decide to go on a cleanse.
How much it costs. Cleanses can be pricey. Will the cleanse you’re considering fit into your current budget?
Cleanse Your Body Naturally
Did you know that your body naturally detoxes itself? “Detox is a key component to optimal health and happens naturally, but must be done with the right foods and supplements,” explains Dr. Lori Shemek, a certified nutritionist, psychologist and weight loss expert. “Your body is an expert at knowing how to detox.”
Eating the right foods and making good lifestyle choices will reduce inflammation of the body and is the best thing to do for a healthier you. “You can support liver health [for starters], with a healthy diet high in antioxidants and eat foods that are high in sulfur (like cruciferous veggies),” Shemek says.
“When thinking about a detox, a fad program is not the way to go,” adds Rachel Kreider, a registered dietitian and supplement formulator for BodyBuilding.com. “Look at your overall food intake and look for places where you can make changes to clean up your act.” In general, you should avoid foods that are high in fat, high in simple carbohydrates and fried.
Types of Cleanses and Detoxes
If you still want to kickstart your health or reset your body with a trusted cleansing program, here are your options:
Juice Cleanses: Lasting anywhere from a few days to several weeks, these are typically programs where you’d consume only fruit and vegetable juices while abstaining from eating food. You can either buy the juices from a trusted provider, or follow a recipe that may include kale, pineapple, lemon and ginger.
Smoothie Cleanses: Like juice cleanses, smoothie cleanses also last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The main difference with these is, they’re generally higher in fiber, protein and calories than their juice counterparts. Some are vegetable-and-fruit-based, while others come with powders to blend with water and enjoy. You can also follow smoothie recipes that include kiwis, celery, spinach and kale.
Soup-Based Cleanses: While most of these require you to use a recipe and make your own soup (like the cabbage-soup diet and the chicken detox soup), some companies offer programs to warm your tummy when juicing is not for you. As far as duration goes, soup-cleanses can last anywhere from three days and up.
Tablets and Capsules: Many cleanses involve taking tablets or capsules to activate your body for detoxing. For example, activated coconut charcoal products promote your body’s natural detoxification process by capturing and eliminating unwanted toxins. Other products may use a blend of herbs and botanicals, such as cascara sagrada powder, licorice and ginger root, to proactively eliminate toxins from the body.
To make the right decision for you, Kreider warns, “Anything that is making promises of curing or preventing any health condition is something that should be a red flag.”
Shemek also cautions on doing detoxes and cleanses too often. Doing so will ultimately slow down your metabolism, which can then lead to weight gain.
Precautions for Detoxing and Cleansing
If you have diabetes or a kidney disease, are going through chemotherapy, are pregnant or are dealing with an eating disorder, you should absolutely not be doing any detox or cleanse, Shemek advises. Also, if you are trying to put on muscle mass, you’re not a good candidate either, as these types of programs promote muscle loss.
“Those under the care of a physician for any reason should consult their physician with the details of the program they’re considering before engaging,” Kreider adds.
If weight loss is your goal, you may drop a few pounds and water weight, but it’s hard to keep those pounds off once you’re off the cleanse, unless you make healthier lifelong choices.
“Fruit juice is high in sugar fructose and fructose is a burden to our liver,” Shemek explains. “Not only is fructose the only sugar metabolized by the liver, in excess, it also promotes an inflammatory condition called ‘glycation,’ which caramelizes the tissue of the liver and other bodily tissues.”
The liver is our number-one fat-burning organ and when compromised, weight loss and optimal health stalls.
Feeling sluggish, bloated or like you’re caving in to unhealthy temptations lately? A cleanse or detox may be the jumpstart you need.
Whether you use commercial detox products, make your own juices or just try to eat cleaner for a set number of days, a detox can help you hit the reset button and get yourself refocused on eating healthfully. “Our body regularly and naturally cleanses our system, but eating cleaner or doing a cleanse can help with the process,” says Yami Mufdi, a National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF) certified personal trainer and certified yoga instructor.
Although a cleanse can be a solid nutrition booster and inspire you to make healthier choices, you may worry that a detox could derail your fitness progress. But with the right frame of mind–and routine–you can keep your workout plan intact.
Why You Should Exercise During a Cleanse
Let’s face it: Exercise you do while cleansing is not going to be your typical sweat session. Some people feel lighter and euphoric while on a fast, while others feel tired, grumpy and just plain hungry. It’s likely you’ll experience all of these feelings at some point during the detox process. But, continuing to work out is key. Here’s why:
It keeps up the habit. “It’s easy to use a cleanse as an excuse to fall off the wagon, but once you start skipping workouts, you might not get back on track,” says Nikki Walter, certified group fitness instructor and Bodybuilding.com team athlete. Even worse, your guilt from bailing on exercise could send you right into a cheat meal as soon as the cleanse is over, undoing all of your hard work.
It gives you an energy boost. Light exercise has been shown to fight fatigue. If you’re feeling tired, getting in light physical activity can help give you the lift you’re missing from caffeine (which is usually a detox no-no).
It may help you focus. Unless you’re at a health spa where you can target 100 percent of your energy on detoxing, you’re going to have to keep up with work and other responsibilities. “When you’re carb- or protein-depleted, like during a cleanse, it’s easy to get overly emotional or to lose focus. Getting in moderate physical activity can help you handle those emotions and regain your ability to think straight,” says Walter.
How to Work Out While Detoxing
Although working out during a cleanse is beneficial, there are some important things to keep in mind:
Check in with yourself. Before you exercise, take stock of how you’re feeling. “On Day 1 of a cleanse, you might be able to do a HIIT workout. But by Days 4 or 5, if your cleanse lasts that long, you’ll likely be lacking stamina, so opt for a restorative routine like Yoga Flow,” says Mufdi.
Take it easy. Avoid getting your heart rate up too high or doing any strenuous workouts. “When your body is working to detox and flush toxins from your body, your muscle tissue may not be able to repair properly,” says Walter.
Amp up your daily activities. In lieu of a hard-core workout, consider intensifying your everyday tasks. Speed walk with your dog or go further than usual. Play catch with your kids. Sit on a yoga ball at the office or walk to work. You’ll get the benefits of exercise, without pushing yourself too intensely.
Mix it up. A cleanse is a great opportunity to try something new fitness-wise. Yes, you can still go to your usual classes and just take it easier, but you could also check off exercises from your fitness-routine bucket list! Try low-intensity (but still good-for-you!) workouts like Tai Chi, water aerobics or aerial yoga.
Use the gym in new ways. Although it’s important to keep up your routine, you can actually do that without working out. If you’re feeling low on energy, try taking advantage of aspects of the gym that you may have overlooked before. Relax in the sauna. Soak in the pool or hot tub. Or schedule a body fat analysis with a trainer at the gym. You’ll keep up your routine of physically going there, but you can use resources that may be more enjoyable for you while cleansing.
A Yoga Flow Routine You Can Do While Detoxing
Try this gentle Yoga Flow workout from yoga instructor Yami Mufdi to increase energy, keep up your exercise habit and get in a good stretch. Move immediately from one pose into the next. Before you begin this routine, check with your health care provider.
This is also known as Sun Salutation A. Repeat it twice.
Begin in Mountain Pose. Inhale.
Lower torso into a Standing Forward Bend. Exhale.
Push up with your thighs and lift palms off floor to move into a Half Standing Forward Bend. Inhale.
Step back and lower chest and torso to mat to move into a low plank Chaturanga. Exhale.
Lower belly to floor and lift torso into Cobra. Inhale.
Pushing up with arms, place weight on feet to move into Downward Dog. Exhale.
Standing Forward Bend
Half Standing Forward Bend
Low Plank Chaturanga
From Downward Dog, lift your right leg skyward to move into Three-Legged Dog. Inhale.
Exhale and draw your right knee into your chest and shift forward. Plant your right foot in front of you, into a Crescent Lunge. Reach arms toward the sky. Inhale.
Lower your torso and place hands on the mat to move into Lizard Pose. Exhale. Stay here for 3 breaths.
Exhale. Twist toward the right, sending right arm up toward the sky to move into a Low Lunge Twist.
Lower right arm back to the mat. Move right leg back into Downward Dog. Inhale. Exhale.
Step your right foot forward between your palms. Turn your left heel in and lift your torso up. Square your hips. Lift your arms skyward to move into Warrior 1. Exhale. Hold this pose for two breaths.
Extend your arms into a T position and rotate your torso to the right into Warrior 2. Exhale. Hold this pose for two breaths.
Rotate to the opposite side. Hold for two breaths.
Twist back to center. Drop arms to sides and raise back leg parallel to floor to move into Warrior 3. Hold for two breaths. Exhale.
Lower raised leg to move into Mountain Pose. Inhale.
Repeat entire sequence on the opposite side.
Low Lunge Twist
Warrior 2 (Right)
Warrior 2 (Left)
Move into Downward Dog. Hold for three breaths.
Lower your bottom to the floor, into Seated Position.
Lay back onto floor. With shoulders on mat, lift torso skyward into Supported Bridge. Hold for as long as feels comfortable, taking deep breaths.
Lower bottom to floor. Lift bended legs and grab feet with hands to move into Happy Baby. Hold as long as you’d like, breathing in and out.
Lay on your back in Savasana. Inhaling and exhaling until you are ready to resume your day
Hearing the word “fat” when selecting food can be a red flag for many. If you like to avoid fats while dining, you need to remember that fats are a macronutrient you need to survive. Though it is true that eating the “wrong” fats can lead to certain health complications (1), there are plenty of excellent sources of healthy fats available. All you need to do is explore a few of these options and see which seem the most appealing to your palate!
1. Canola Oil
One of the biggest challenges to healthy eating is learning what oils are best to cook with. While there has been a lot of debate over the years about what oils are “healthy” and what oils are bound to do damage to your body, most experts have agreed that canola oil is a solid choice. When you’re cooking, you mostly want to avoid too many saturated fats (2, 3). Since canola oil is rich in unsaturated fats, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration verified that using this oil could actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications (4).
Canola oil has a high smoke point, allowing you to cook at very high temperatures without worrying about ruining the oil. Unfortunately, canola oil is not going to work for everything. While great for cooking, you might find it lacking in taste for fresh options like salad dressing or to dip bread. Luckily, there are some wonderful salad dressing options on the market to keep your taste buds satisfied.
Canola oil can also be tricky because the products often contain GMOs, which are a huge “no-no” for many. To play it safe when purchasing canola oil, be sure to confirm that the product is labeled non-GMO or organic.
The avocado gets a lot of weird press, being the unofficial symbol thrust upon millennials. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the popularity of the avocado is on the rise. The beauty of eating a diet that consists of avocado is that there is a lot of evidence to suggest you’re improving your health with each bite into the rich, green fruit (5).
Avocado’s simple taste and complex consistency make it a great addition to a number of dishes. Since avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are the “good” fats you hear about, adding this fruit to your diet is a smart move (6). If you don’t particularly like avocado, you can consider using products made with avocado oil to get the benefits.
3. Peanut Butter
Barring a serious allergy, you probably have had a peanut butter sandwich or two in your day. Plenty of people slather peanut butter on apples or sandwiches for lunch because the creamy mixture is an excellent source of protein (7), which can be useful when hitting the gym. Beyond this punch of protein, peanuts contain plenty of healthy fats to keep your diet balanced (8).
It is important to note that you shouldn’t opt for peanut butter brands that are marketed as low-fat. When the fat content is reduced in peanut butter, it is usually replaced with sugars. This can work against your current health plan, so be sure to go for standard or organic peanut butter options with lots of monounsaturated fats.
Seed enthusiasts, rejoice! While the tiny nature of most seeds makes them seem somewhat innocuous, there are plenty of secret benefits hiding beneath the small shell (9). Flaxseed, for example, is said to contain copious amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. While fish like salmon are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, vegetarians and vegans often need healthy alternatives. Whether or not you eat meat, you might find it appealing to learn that flaxseed helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels (10).
What’s more, you don’t technically need to eat flaxseed in its raw form to obtain the benefits. Opting to use flaxseed meal while cooking or baking can provide you with the right level of fatty acids to keep your heart healthy and happy.
Even though many people get nervous when they hear that their foods are rich in fatty acids, it is important to remember you need fats to survive. Get your daily dose of monounsaturated fats and keep your health on the right course.
Fat often gets a bad rap. In the 1980s and ’90s, low-fat diets were touted as a cure-all for combating obesity and maintaining heart health (1). Media and health professionals began to evangelize this type of diet and many American consumers started looking for low-fat foods. But just because something is labeled as low-fat doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
“Low-fat diets can be useful, but as with any diet, it needs to be well-planned,” says Becky Kerkenbush, a clinical dietitian and member of the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Low-fat does not equal low-calorie or healthy. When fat is removed from food, it is often replaced with sugar or sodium.”
But recent studies show that not all dietary fats are created equal and that some fats may actually be beneficial for overall health and wellness (2). “Fat is essential because it plays a role in many body functions.” says Jennifer Kanikua, a registered dietitian and author of The SoFull Traveler. “The key thing is to choose healthy fats and to consume them in healthy amounts.”
Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
There are four main types of dietary fats—trans fats, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats—and some of them are better for you than others. Each type of fat has a different chemical structure, says Katrina Trisko, a registered dietitian based in New York.
“Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature, but unsaturated fats remain in a liquid state over a broad range of temperatures. For example, butter, a saturated fat, is a solid at room temperature, but olive oil, an unsaturated fat, remains a liquid even at colder temperatures in the fridge,” she says. “This difference in chemical structure affects how these fats are digested and processed in our bodies.”
Trans fats and saturated fats are considered bad fats by most health professionals. Saturated fats lead to high LDL cholesterol, Kerkenbush says, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and some cancers.
“Be conscious of your intake of foods such as processed meats, red meat and dairy products, as these are packed with saturated fats,” Trisko adds.
But other fats in the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated categories are actually beneficial to overall health and wellness. “Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that can lower triglyceride levels and reduce blood pressure,” Kerkenbush says. “Omega-7 and omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fats that may reduce inflammation, decrease LDL cholesterol and improve insulin resistance.”
Kerkenbush says that foods like lake trout, albacore tuna, salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and canola oil are good sources of polyunsaturated fats, while avocado, olives, olive oil, canola oil and most nuts are good sources of monounsaturated fats.
Common Fat Myths You Shouldn’t Believe
While modern-day research shows that eating healthy fats can have a positive impact on health, there are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding fat in food. We asked our experts to debunk some of these commonly held myths.
Myth 1: All Fats Are Created Equal
As demonstrated above, there are different types of fats and not all of them are bad. So instead of lumping fat into one category and trying to avoid it completely, it’s important to make decisions so that you’re eating the right types of fats instead of the wrong types of fats.
“Fat adds a unique flavor and texture profile and will help you absorb nutrients,” says Kanikua. “Fat is necessary for the body—so our job is to choose the healthy ones.”
Myth 2: All Saturated Fat Is Bad
Most health experts agree that it’s best to avoid saturated fats. But recent studies suggest that some saturated fats like medium-chain triglycerides or medium-chain fatty acids—called MCTs—can be beneficial to brain health (3) and can help increase endurance (4). MCTs are commonly found in foods such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cheeses and whole-milk yogurt.
“Saturated fats are not as bad as previously thought, but aren’t protective of our heart health like unsaturated fats,” Trisko says. “You’re better off eating these types of fats in moderation.”
Myth 3: High-Fat Foods Will Raise Your Cholesterol
If your diet mainly consists of processed trans fats and unhealthy saturated fats, you are at risk of raising your cholesterol. But eating a diet high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can actually have the opposite effect. In fact, Harvard Medical School backs up Kerkenbush’s earlier statements about how eating polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and decrease triglyceride levels (5).
And when it comes to cholesterol, there are other factors at play. “Cholesterol levels are highly linked to genetics—which means some individuals are at risk for having high cholesterol regardless of the foods that they eat,” Trisko says. “So if high cholesterol levels are a concern, don’t jump to conclusions and blame the steak that you ate last week, because that’s likely not the culprit.”
Myth 4: Eating Fat Will Make You Fat
Some people are under the impression that eating fat will make you fat. And while it’s true that fats have a higher calorie density than proteins and carbohydrates, gaining weight is not only caused by eating dietary fats—especially if they are good fats.
“Simply eating fat in your diet will not make you fat,” Trisko says. “Our body weight and body fat distribution is determined by our genetics, overall physical activity and caloric intake. The more excess calories we eat, the more energy our body will store in the form of fat—regardless of what macronutrient those calories came from.”
Myth 5: Fats Don’t Have Any Benefits
It’s easy to think about dietary fat as a harmful ingredient that serves no purpose. But, as mentioned above, good fats actually do a lot for our overall health. “Fat is essential for the digestion, absorption and transport of fat-soluble vitamins, the support of cell growth and hormone production, and the provision of energy,” Kerkenbush says.
Fats will also help you feel fuller longer, Kanikua adds. “Having some fat with your food items not only can help absorb some nutrients, but will help slow down digestion, therefore aiding in long-term satiety.”
Sugary drinks are popular during the summer, but experts warn against consuming too many of these beverages
A recent research paper points out how natural and artificial sweeteners impact an individual’s health
For many, summer is the season to spend outdoors. Whether you’re lounging on the beach or enjoying a day at the park with friends, you’ll most likely want to indulge a bit. Delicious cocktails are a signature of summer, but most people forget that these recipes can often include far too many unhealthy elements, like sugar.
A group of nutrition researchers recently agreed that sugar-sweetened beverages play a unique role in chronic health problems (1). Sugar-heavy beverages like soda and juice have been the subject of research for many years now, with nutrition experts linking the consumption of these sugars to unhealthy weight gain (2).
Very few people want to hear that they are putting on weight when the summer arrives, as it tends to be a popular time of year for hyper-focused diet and exercise. This means you need to stay extra mindful when mixing up a few cocktails while on vacation.
Healthier Summer Drink Alternatives
Luckily, there are many healthier drink options to choose from. Cucumber juice can be an excellent base for a refreshing drink, as cucumber is hydrating, packed with useful fibers and naturally low in sugar (3). Toss in some fresh sprigs of mint or a squirt of lime for added flavor.
Watermelon is ubiquitous in the summer, and it might also be a great option for low-calorie drinks. This fruit is high in water content, low in sugar and easily incorporated into an array of seasonal cocktails and mocktails. Experts believe watermelon might even be able to help with weight loss (4), though the science behind this is still being researched.
Stick with low-calorie options like fresh cucumber and watermelon and be sure to avoid sugary mixers. While there is nothing wrong with indulging now and again, it can be a slippery slope. If you don’t want to double down on your diet due to an unforeseen sugar overload at the beach, explore alternative options and stay healthy while enjoying the season.
Here’s why you should drink apple cider vinegar, and how to get your daily dose.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Of all the claims made by apple cider vinegar proponents, this one has the most meat to it: One study by researchers at Arizona State University found that the glucose levels of participants were 34 percent lower than the controls when they drank 20 grams of apple cider vinegar mixed with 40 grams of water and one teaspoon of sugar during a meal (1).
A separate study found that patients with diabetes who consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed woke with improved fasting glucose levels (2).
It’s not a direct link, but for some of the same reasons apple cider vinegar helps with your blood sugar levels, it can also help with your waistline. Glucose levels were lower after participants in the Arizona State study drank vinegar because it contains acetic acid, which increases insulin sensitivity and can slow the absorption of calories from a meal.
Additionally, lower glucose levels have been linked to feeling more full and, presumably, eating less. To date, however, there isn’t much data linking apple cider vinegar directly to weight loss.
What’s the Best Way to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar?
The most basic way you can get your daily fix of apple cider vinegar is by taking it straight up as a shot. But not everyone enjoys that burning sensation in the back of their throats, especially first thing in the morning!
If a shot of ACV is too strong or sour for your taste, you can try diluting it with water, seltzer or tea and sweeten it up with a bit of honey to make it more palatable.
If you’re feeling even more creative, you can incorporate apple cider vinegar into everything from smoothies and detox drinks to cocktails and mocktails.
Here are two ACV drinks you can enjoy equally for their taste and their health benefits:
Spiced Cranberry & Rosemary Mocktail
(Recipe and photo courtesy of Miss Allie’s Kitchen)
Cranberries, lime and rosemary for garnish (optional)
Add the water, cranberries, raw honey, Fire Cider Original and rosemary to a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture out, and place it in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes. Fill a glass with ice and to each, add ½ cup of the spiced cranberry and rosemary syrup and 1 cup of lime seltzer. Mix, garnish with desired toppings and enjoy.
In a mug, add whiskey, lemon juice and turmeric sipping vinegar. Top with hot water and mix well. Add one star anise and serve.
Other Ways to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
If you’re still not keen on drinking apple cider vinegar, there are other ways to consume it. For example, you can work it into a marinade or sauce for a little extra zip.
Of course, salads are a great vehicle for apple cider vinegar, and a tasty vinaigrette or dressing might make you more likely to eat nutritious leafy greens and veggies. Combining vinegar with oil also helps balance the pH level and prevent tooth enamel erosion from the acetic acid.
If you can’t stand the taste no matter how you prepare it, apple cider vinegar capsules might be your best bet. Keep in mind that the amount of acetic and citric acids in commercially available apple cider vinegar tablets reportedly varies dramatically between samples (3). This means dosage information on apple cider vinegar capsule packages may not be accurate, and taking too much can cause digestion issues.
One of the latest diet trends to explode in the health and wellness space is the ketogenic diet. But if you aren’t quite sure what it is or how it works, we’re here to help. Let’s take a closer look at this diet craze, so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet. It was developed by Dr. Russell Wilder in 1924. It was historically used as a treatment option for patients with epilepsy, but researchers now believe this type of diet can help other neurological conditions.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
One of the main benefits of following a ketogenic diet is weight loss, according to Jeremy Wolf, a naturopathic doctor and lead health advisor at LuckyVitamin. “When properly adhered to, this type of diet causes the body to break down fatty acids into ketones,” he explains. “When ketone levels in the bloodstream are elevated, individuals enter into a state of ketosis, which often helps shed pounds quickly and consistently.”
The ketogenic diet may also protect against certain diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, by controlling the release of insulin into the body and lowering cholesterol levels.
And while more research still needs to be done, there are plenty of studies that demonstrate ketogenic diets may aid in the treatment of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism and severe migraines.
How Does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
Adhering to the ketogenic diet is not as simple as cutting carbs, Dr. Wolf stresses. “There are specific calculations and ratios of fat to protein to carbohydrates that need to be followed in order for the diet to work properly,” he says.
Before starting on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to speak with your health care professional to work on a plan that is right for you.
“The classic version of the ketogenic diet involves a ratio of fats that is three to four times greater than the intake of proteins and carbohydrates,” Dr. Wolf says. “This means that approximately 75 percent of calories would come from fats, 25 percent would come from protein, and only 5 percent would come from carbohydrates.”
A more moderate version of this diet includes a ratio of fats that is two times greater than the intake of proteins and carbohydrates.
Those following a ketogenic diet plan will drastically increase their consumption of fatty foods, Dr. Wolf says. “Popular ketogenic food options include eggs, fatty fishes like salmon, cheese, avocado, olives and olive oil, nuts and nut butters, seeds, ghee, and coconut oil.”
Things to Consider with a Ketogenic Diet
If you are thinking about making the switch to a ketogenic diet, there are some things you should take into consideration. “This type of diet completely cuts out sugars and sweets such as candy, cookies and desserts, so individuals should be ready to give up indulgences if they want to be successful,” Dr. Wolf says.
Additionally, many medical professionals will recommend gradually decreasing your carbohydrate intake and introducing the ketogenic approach over a three- to four-day period, Dr. Wolf says. “This slower transition will help stave off a big loss of energy.” (Keeping hydrated while on a ketogenic diet is very important, and some supplementation with vitamins and minerals may be necessary to help meet nutritional requirements.)
“And while a strict ketogenic diet could be exactly what you need to jump-start weight loss, it may not be the best option for your long-term health and wellness,” Dr. Wolf advises. “Make sure to consult a health care professional to identify a plan designed around your individual needs.”