Category Archive : Health

Intermittent Fasting For Women – How to Do It & Why It Makes You Lose So Much Weight

Intermittent fasting has become very popular in the last few years and a lot of diet programs incorporate it. It is very close to the natural way people ate during the first ~90% of evolution and it is one of the easiest ways to ‘force’ your body to resort to using your fat stores for energy.
What exactly is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting tells you when to eat and when not to eat. If you have never tried it before and you are used to constant snacking, stick to a 16 hour fast and an 8 hour eating window. If you already eat larger portions 3 or 2 times per day, you already do something very close to this, so you can try an 18 hour fast and a 6 hour eating window. That’s it! Now let’s dig deeper and see what results can we expect from this, and how to improve this fast to achieve even faster results.

Eating Constantly

A few years ago, the advice of eating smaller portions thorough the day (i.e constantly snacking) became popular and most people regarded it as healthy. In recent years this has been largely dis-proven and most nutrition and fitness experts now agree that it’s better to eat a few larger meals. Constant snacking leads to increased insulin resistance, weight gain and most importantly – being constantly hungry. This is a bit counter-intuitive, but when you think about it it makes perfect sense – constantly “teasing” yourself with minute portions makes you think about food constantly. Not only that, but your body never resorts to burning body fat, as it has a continuous stream of food coming in constantly.
Have you seen a skinny girl eating a huge portion of pizza and thought to yourself “Well, she has good genetics, that’s why she has a slim body”. Although this is definitely a big part of it, I know a lot of women who eat huge meals and on first sight can seem like they are overeating. However, little do you know that after this huge meal of up to 1000kcal, she will usually not eat anything for a long time – sometimes 24 hours or even more. This is actually a common habit and a lot of skinny girls I see at my gym have it, without even realizing they do ‘intermittent fasting’.

How to do IF properly

Rule 1 – Be in a caloric deficit
Yes, you still have to ‘limit’ your calories. However, if you think this will be hard and you will be hungry, you’ll probably be surprised. In my experience, constant small meals create huge hunger pangs and big meals, followed by a good period of fasting don’t cause any hunger at all. In fact, you will be surprised at the increased energy levels you experience. However, don’t be surprised if you feel a little sluggish for an hour or two after a big meal.
Drink Water
Although I’m not a huge fan of drinking copious amounts of water – something that a lot of people recommend, during your fasting stage your body does burn a lot of fat, which creates a lot of by-products it needs to get rid of. Keeping it hydrated will help a lot and completely prevent any hunger you may experience.
Really do calculate your calories
Don’t just eat food without any regard for your calories. A major reason for failure with IF is eating too little calories with your meals. Depending on your weight and physical activity level you may need anywhere from 1500 to 2000 kcal.
Watch the results
The weight loss you achieve depends on many factors, but you will definitely notice good results. The only way to not lose weight while on intermittent fasting is to consume a lot of calories in surplus. Even being at a slight caloric surplus will make you lose weight, especially if you keep your protein intake high.

Get 10-fold the Results By Boosting Leptin Levels

A secret for extremely fast results is to boost your leptin levels in addition to doing a short (16-hour) fast. You can read about boosting leptin levels here.
Written by Angelina on 14th March

Diet vs. Exercise – Which is the More Important For Losing Weight and Why?

When it comes to losing weight, a lot of people are overly focusing on their exercise, or even using it as an excuse – “I don’t have time to go to the gym right now, I’ll start my diet in the summer/winter/etc.” In reality, exercise keeps you healthy, increases your energy levels and can prevent a lot of serious health issues later in life, such as cardiovascular disease. However, when it comes to losing weight, burning off the calories you eat through exercise is not a very effective strategy.
Although an hour or more of exercise can burn 500-1000 calories, not a lot of people have the energy to exercise this much, especially people who have a lot of unwanted body fat. If your diet is heavy on the carbohydrate and sugar side, such long exercise would plummet your blood sugar levels and create a lot of hunger pangs an hour or two later.

Exercise is not very effective for getting rid of visceral (‘belly’) fat.

risto_pekkala_Pregnant_bellyA big issue many overweight people have is their visceral fat, which is very different from subcutaneous fat – the fat you have under your skin. Although your body starts using the fat under your skin for energy about 20 minutes in the exercise, the visceral fat is rarely resorted to. This type of fat is largely caused by ingesting unnatural substances, like the preservatives and artificial sweeteners found in many unhealthy foods. It is also a result of insulin resistance, which is largely caused by fructose, fast food and of course lack of physical activity.

Your body does not burn fat for the first ~20 minutes of exercising

rihard_Clock_Calendar_1Sure, burning off the calories creates a calorie deficit, which would ultimately lead to loss of body fat. However, this is only true if you can sustain a negative-caloric intake for a very long time. Not a lot of people can do this and deal with the hunger pangs, headaches and the general feeling of not feeling well. Most people tend to undo the caloric expenditure created by exercise soon after by eating a meal rich in carbohydrates. At least one study has been found that most people underestimate the amount of calories they eat and vastly overestimate the amount of healthy food they eat, such as vegetables. It is very easy to fool yourself.
That said, even 10 minutes of moderate exercise has a ton of benefits for your health, cardiovascular system and metabolism. So, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exercise at all if you don’t have 20 minutes – just don’t do it solely for losing weight.

Should You Exercise?

Of course. Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health. However, too many people neglect their diet and focus on exercise. They see it as a chore, but as something that would ultimately help them lose weight, so they do it. After a few weeks (usually less), when they realize they haven’t lost any weight they usually stop exercising. Exercise, but don’t assume it will magically melt of body fat. Instead, focus on your diet. Let’s talk a bit about this.

What About Diet?

no-food-drinkWhen it comes to your diet, should you try to limit your calories? What should you eat? Do limit your calories, but not by that much. Make sure you are not in a caloric surplus. For most people, the ~2,000 calories per day is a good guideline. Here’s the most important thing – make sure your protein intake is adequate and that most of it comes with your morning meal. Aim for 30g of protein with your breakfast, as difficult as that is to achieve with the most commonly consumed breakfast foods. Aim for 60g of protein daily. Then, make sure you have some greens in your diet for fiber and magnesium. Spinach is probably best, but opt for whatever you want. If you exercise, time it so that you don’t consume any food 2 hours before and 2 hours after the exercise.
Also in general, try not to eat fancy foods that your body is not used to. Humans evolved eating meat, vegetables, nuts and fruits and this is what your body is adapted to. Grains and legumes are still fine, but don’t go overboard with them. As a general rule, if a food contains any ingredient a 4-year old child doesn’t recognize, you probably shouldn’t be putting it in your body.
Don’t drink calories – when you drink something because you are thirsty, make it water or tea. Even orange juice will slow down your progress, as healthy as many people think it is.
That’s about it – stick to this for a month or two and see how it goes!

Which Diet Works Best for Quickly Getting Rid of Unwanted Fat?

You can find the best diet strategy for quickly melting unwanted fat here. The main problem is that there is so much conflicting information out there and people trying to sell you ‘magic pills’ that people are more confused than ever. Unfortunately, most of the weight loss information out there is false, not based on proven principles and in general – ineffective. Too many people start following an ineffective diet strategy only to be disappointed. As a result, they are even less likely to give a 100% effort on their next diet, because they don’t believe they will achieve results regardless. This is a dangerous downwards spiral to get stuck into, so make sure that if you are following any diet program it is proven and actually does work.
Posted by Angelina on March 12th, 2014

How to Tell if You Have a Magnesium Deficiency & How to Fix it To Lose Weight & Feel Much Better

pinnDo You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?

Blood tests are not a reliable way of revealing magnesium levels, as more than 90% of magnesium in the body is found in muscle tissue, bones and the heart. Muscle biopsy is used for accurate measurements, but it’s not a standard practice. However, looking at your lifestyle can easily tell you if your magnesium levels are optimal. If you experience stress on a daily basis and eat a standard diet, it’s safe to say that you can benefit from increasing your magnesium intake.
Drinking unnecessarily large amounts of water – something that is often advocated as a healthy thing to do is also a good way to deplete your magnesium, as your kidneys always remove all the magnesium during the first filtration process, reabsorbing 95% of it back afterwards. 5% is lost in urine.
Through modern farming and agriculture, soil levels of magnesium are progressively decreasing. Although fertilizers are added, foods still contain lower amounts of magnesium then a 100 years ago.

Does Magnesium Deficiency Affect Weight Loss and can it flip your fat-burning switch ‘on’?

Magnesium does have a small effect on weight loss, because it’s an integral part of energy production, since ATP(the chemical all cells use for energy) contains a Magnesium atom in the center. If you want to flip your fat-burning switch on, I suggest a more focused approach, like the one described in the beta switch book.

How Does Magnesium Deficiency Cause Weight Gain?

There are a lot of studies linking magnesium deficiency to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, both of which precede obesity. Magnesium is a critical mineral for energy production and lack of it makes it hard for your body to burn calories. It also increases fatigue, which limits your level of physical activity.
We have all heard or read that green shakes and green leafy vegetables help you lose weight. This is a complex process, but magnesium certainly does play a critical role in it. Since chlorophyll is the ‘green stuff’ in plants and it’s atomic structure is based on a magnesium atom in the center, everything that is green is a source of magnesium.

Other Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is found to reverse heart disease (link), improve insulin resistance, cure depression and boost energy levels. You can see why it is critical to make sure you have a sufficient intake. Magnesium is quickly depleted during stress and anxiety, alcohol intake and a higher water intake.

How to Replenish Magnesium

The two best ways are eating nuts & greens. Nuts come from trees (with the exception of the peanut, which is actually a legume), which have a deep root system that is not affected by the soil-depletion of magnesium we see in recent years. Leafy greens are also a good source, but you have to consume about three to four ounces per day to get any significant amount of magnesium, making blended shakes very suitable for that purpose.
100g of most nuts contain about 200mg of Magnesium, which is about half of the recommended daily intake.
Supplements work very well if you get the correct type. Magnesium oxide is very poorly absorbed as it is not water soluble. Magnesium citrate and other organic forms of magnesium work very well and have a high boo-availability.
In order to increase magnesium levels, you have to consume magnesium-rich foods daily. Make it a rule for 30-days to consume 100g of spinach or a few ounces of nuts daily. Your body will thank you! Make sure you check the magnesium levels of foods you consume, by using for example. Some leafy greens are still poor in magnesium. Kale for example, contains only 18mg per 100g, making you have to consume about 3 pounds of it daily to boost your magnesium levels.
You can also find a mineral water with a high magnesium content – look for brand that have 50mg/Liter or more. This is actually how we likely got our magnesium requirements for the majority of human evolution!

What you will notice

You will notice higher energy levels combined with being more relaxed, as paradoxical as that sounds. If I don’t take my magnesium supplement for a week or two and don’t eat magnesium-rich foods because I’m traveling I notice a huge difference and I’m unable to complete my usual workouts because of fatigue. Needles to say, this can definitely make you store more fat.
Wishing you great health,

Does Snacking Make You Gain Weight? Should You Eat 3 Regular Meals Instead?

We have all heard the advice to eat smaller portions and space them out throughout the day. Although this sounds nice in theory, it actually is worse than eating three regular meals. Here are the three main reasons:

  • Snacking decreases insulin sensitivity. In simple terms, it makes it more difficult for your muscles and organs to use glucose, making your body store it as fat.
  • Paradoxically, it makes you hungrier. Having a little 150-200 calorie snack every hour will leave you in a state of constant cravings for sugar and sweets. You can never get enough. Your body is adapted to prevent you from starving, so it instinctively wants you to eat food that’s around you. It’s only after you have a regular meal that you feel full and no longer can think about food.
  • It puts stress on your body and causes a constant stream of insulin spikes and lows, which ultimately makes you gain fat and feel sluggish. It also makes you feel stress, because you are constantly focusing on restricting your eating with every meal you have, instead of eating until you are full.

Now don’t get me wrong – eating healthy snacks all day is definitely better than eating three large fast-food meals. However, you can have the best of both worlds – try eating three to four decent-sized meals and see how you feel and whether or not your food cravings decrease.

But I will feel hungry between meals?

I have given this advice to many people and they all think this won’t work until they try it. Most people who are constantly snacking think they will feel hungry and uncomfortable when they have to not eat for several hours after their ‘regular meal’. However, most find that the opposite is the case – once you have a satiating meal, you feel full – something you usually never experience while snacking.
Try to eat meals that are high in protein and are not carbohydrate-heavy. Eating cereals and bread toasts without including some lean protein in the mix will again leave you feeling hungry, as the carbohydrates are digested extremely fast in the absence of adequate protein content, leading to a huge insulin spike and ultimately – even lower levels of blood sugar. Fortunately, most ‘main’ dishes you can order at a restaurant or cook at home already take this into account and contain adequate levels of protein!
Posted by Angelina on March 06 2014
Stay healthy,

How to Boost Your Metabolism and Start Burning Fat, Just By Changing What You Have for Breakfast?

When most people think of what they have to do in order to lose a substantial amount of fat, they imagine exhausting workouts, making salad your staple dish and feeling hungry all the time. In reality, this approach fails much more often than it succeeds. The more you feel like you are struggling, the more reasons your brain thinks of to avoid the action. In reality, just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it works. I’ve seen plenty of people lose a very substantial amount of fat, just by making simple changes to their eating habits and then sticking to them. I’ve also seen plenty of people buy a gym membership, throw away all the unhealthy foods in their fridge and try to make a big change in order to lose weight, only to give up in a week or two.
In this article, we will discuss a simple diet change that can skyrocket your weight loss, boost your metabolism and give you fast and noticeable weight loss results – simply changing your breakfast from a high-carbohydrate one to a high-protein one.

The Breakfast Most People Have

Almost everyone these days has a high-carbohydrate low-protein/low-fat breakfast. In fact, the healthier a breakfast looks, the higher in carbohydrates it usually is. When most people think of a healthy breakfast, they imagine oats with fruit, like the picture above. Unfortunately, this combination has a high glycemic index, is very high in carbs and contains very little protein. As a result, it slows down your metabolism and forces your body to store a certain amount of the carbohydrates as fat. Although relatively ‘natural’ and free of unhealthy additives, it does not promote weight loss.

Turning Your fat-burning Switch ON

A high-protein breakfast is one way to kick-start your metabolism. What’s interesting, is that women, unlike men can ‘flip’ their fat-burning switch on hormonally, by making certain dietary tweaks (like described in the beta switch). Many women think they are at a disadvantage, because past a certain age, we seem to gain weight easier and lose it harder than men. That’s because men have testosterone, which takes care of fat-burning up to a point. What most women don’t know is that they have much more powerful fat-burning hormones, like thyroxine and estrogen (which burns fat, only if it’s ‘triggered’ to do so), so they are definitley not at a disadvantage.

What to Eat Instead?

Instead, you want a high-protein and moderate-fat breakfast. Not only will this boost your metabolism, but it will make you feel full. Protein is very satiating, unlike carbohydrates that get metabolized quickly, cause an insulin spike and ultimately leave you even more hungry an hour or two later. It’s a dangerous cycle that is a major cause of obesity. Meat and nuts would be the ultimate example of a high-protein breakfast, which many athletes use. I cannot recommend it highly enough, but it’s understandable that some people wouldn’t enjoy such a breakfast. Instead, you can make a quick protein shake that is yogurt-based. It is fine for the shake to contain some fruit, but aim for at least 20-30g of protein. The easiest way to achieve this is to use protein powder, but again I realize many people are not going to do that.
So, here are a few recipes for a high-protein breakfast that work very well for weight loss:
100g cottage cheese + 200ml soy milk + 20g nuts + enough fruit to make it fine-tasting Protein: ~20g
100g tofu + 200ml soy milk + 20g nuts + 1 banana Protein: ~20g
50g peanut butter + 200ml soy milk + 1 banana Protein:~20g
You can find many high-protein recipes for smoothies with a simple search. I personally use hemp protein powder or other nut-protein powder in a shake with yogurt and some fruit. Nut protein powders can be found at health-food stores and are manufactured simply by squeezing the oil out of nuts. Most nuts have a typical nutrition profile of about 50g fat and 25g protein per 100g. When you squeeze the oil out you are left with about 40g of protein per 100g, which makes it very easy to create a breakfast smoothie that pack 30g of protein or more.
To summarize: Having a high-carb, low-protein breakfast shuts down your metabolism – instead have a high-protein, moderate to low-carb, like eggs, meat, nuts, dairy, soy, etc. This will immediately turn your fat-burning switch on, regardless of whether or not you exercise. Try it!
Wishing you great health,

Pinterest image:

Posted by Angelina on March 05 2014

Why Limiting Calories Often Does NOT Lead to Weight Loss

If you eat less calories than you expend for a long time (let’s say a month), will you lose weight? Of course – there is no way around it. Your body has to get the ‘fuel’ for your cells from somewhere else. However, things are not that simple. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It is slow – trying to burn fat by restricting calories is the slowest way to lose weight. There are about 9000 kcal in 2,2 lbs of body fat. 2000 kcal per day is a standard caloric expenditure for a person.This means that if you ate nothing for 4,5 days you would lose about 2 pounds. Once you start eating again, you are very unlikely to start eating 2000 kcal per day again. It will usually be a bit more and things will go back to normal.
  • It’s very hard – dealing with the hunger pangs and low blood sugar causes most people to give up.
  • If you are a women, at certain periods your body values your body fat more than your muscles or other tissue. It has to do with leptin and child bearing. This means that you will not burn only fat, but muscle as well, which will not give you a pretty result, to say the least.
  • Your body’s desire for food is designed to help you survive, not to look fit.
  • There are much easier ways! Restricting calories is like trying to get your can up the hill by pushing it instead of driving it – there is no point.

There are many more reasons – most people try to lose weight by restricting about 300-400 calories per day. After a few days, they experience very strong hunger pangs and headaches and sooner or later indulge in binges, which undo their progress. Your body does not look at your daily food intake, but works on a much longer time-frame and knows exactly how to keep you fed. It’s how we survived back in the day when there were no supermarkets and food was not as easily and constantly available.
A much easier and better way to lose weight fast is to:
For men – do intermittent fasting. It’s magic and is a very good way to get lean fast. For women – focus on enabling your body to burn the fat by manipulating leptin. If you have read about this you know that it is very easy and efficient way to start losing fat very fast.
In conclusion, restricting calories is yet another willpower-based strategy, which sooner or later can fail very easily. Exerting willpower to not eat is a very painful and slow way to ‘force’ your body to resort to your fat stores and start burning them.

Lentils: An Inexpensive & Healthy Superfood

Are lentils healthy?

Although many people do not approve of a grain-rich diet (we evolved on an almost completely grain-free diet for thousands of years and this continued for a few centuries even after the invention of fire), lentils are a different story in my book. They are very high in protein – in fact uncooked lentils contain the same amount of protein percentage-wise as lean meat – about 25%. They are also very high in soluble fiber. Several studies have shown that adding lentils to fast-digesting carbohydrates, like rice,  slows down the glucose release and insulin secretion, which gives you much steadier energy levels. In addition to that, lentils cost very little and are very easy to prepare and store.

Benefits of lentils

Here are in no particular order the benefits of lentils:
High in fiber – they keep your digestive system clean, help with healthy gut bacteria and lower cholesterol.
High in protein – this no only means they are nutritious , but that they make you feel full. A common reason for constant food cravings is low-protein intake, mainly linked to cereal snacks, like biscuits.
Cheap – Lentils cost a fraction of what meat and other high-protein sources cost.
Vegan – I am not a big proponent of a meat-free diet, but for those who are, lentils are an excellent ‘replacement’ for meat.
The only drawback of lentils is that if you do not prepare them well and add spices, they do not taste very good! However, following a basic recipe for a lentil stew makes them taste quite well. It is recommended to soak lentils in water for a few hours, which reduces the cooking time greatly.
I personally eat lentils almost every day as I find them very quick and easy to prepare. They also make me feel full and keep my metabolism firing.

Sprouted lentils

Sprouting lentils improves amino-acid profile even more and triggers the beans to produce Vitamin c. About three ounces of cooked sprouted lentils contain about 15mg of Vitamin C. It also makes them much more digestible. Sprouting lentils is very easy – you soak them in water for 8-10 hours, drain and let them sit for a day or two. You will see the little sprouts forming in no time!
Posted by Angelina Wright on February 12th

The 3 Fundamentals for Increasing energy Levels

There are three basic fundamentals, which lie at the base of all health and longevity. Surely, a large part of your health is genetics. In fact, genetics make up more than 60% of what will happen to you health-wise. However, the remaining percentage depends on your eating habits, stress and other factors. Let’s explore them:
Eliminating harmful habits/exposure to toxins
No amount of healthy eating can balance a bad habit like smoking for example – it depletes Vitamin C from the body at a rate, which cannot be kept up with. However, there are harmful substances everywhere and at not so obvious places. For example, if you live in an older home, you can have a variety of  general and unspecific symptoms, all related to exposure to mold spores. The common mold Aspergillus for example is found in most homes, where the humidity levels are high. It’s spores can cause a variety of health problems, including difficulty breathing, poor concentration and much more. Most mold spores are carcinogenic also and therefore – you should do your best to avoid exposure to them.
Almost all healthy people who live long and happy lives have one thing in common – they exercise. This may not be the obvious type of exercise, like going to the gym. They might just be an active person overall, and use less transportation, substituting it for walking. Exercise keeps your circulatory system in check, and we know that circulatory and heart conditions sit at the top of death causes. It’s not necessary to be extreme – a 20 minute run several times per week will put you way ahead of most people. Make sure to exercise away from big roads or other polluted areas as this may do you more harm than good – we will talk about this in other articles as well.
Your diet is more important than most people think. Switching to a good diet may take some time in order to see tangible results, which is why many people disregard the effectiveness of a healthy diet. You don’t have be extreme when it comes to your diet also – excluding soft drinks, bread and MSG-ridden meats from your diet will put you way ahead of most people and you will avoid some of the most obviously harmful toxins. In addition to that, I always recommend taking a good quality multivitamin and fish oil – achieving a 100% RDI of most vitamins is very hard through diet alone. The same applies to fish oil.

Low Fat vs. Low Carb – Which is Better for Lowering Blood Pressure?

A low carb and high fat diet is the base of most successful weight loss programs, including the Atkins diet. The mechanism behind weight gain on a high-carb diet is now pretty clear – eating carbohydrates causes spikes in blood sugar, which releases insulin. As a result, any excess sugar is stored by the body as fat. This mechanism is so effective that you can easily gain 5-10 lbs of fat in a few days and more importantly – quickly undo any progress that you have made. Therefore, it is important not to indulge in carb binges soon after you have successfully lost weight. Regardless, lets look at the differences between a low fat and a low carb diet:
Low fat diets and blood pressure

A low-fat and a high-carbohydrate diet is based on the obsolete theory that fat is bad because it is high in calories. It also causes cholesterol and blood lipid problems. At least that’s what we thought. We now know that fat is the main source of energy for the body, and it makes up nearly 100% of cellular walls. Therefore, a low fat diet is generally speaking not a good idea, unless you are trying to deal with a specific medical condition, which requires it.
Losing weight on a low fat diet is also difficult – in order to do so, you would have to eat very frequent and small carbohydrate-rich meals. Eating anything more than can be stored in your muscles and liver (which is about 800 kcal) will result in a fat gain, especially if you are predisposed to gaining weight (which you probably are, since you are reading this article).
High fat, low carb – does it really cause hypertension?

This is the most effective strategy, when it comes to losing weight. But wait, isn’t fat high in calories? It is. In fact, it has more than twice the calories of carbohydrates per gram. However, there are countless examples that support the fact that caloric intake and weight loss are connected only partially. You can easily lose weight while consuming 3000 kcal per day. You can also keep staying overweight, despite your best efforts to starve yourself. It is all in the source of your calories and not the amount.
But what is the best way to lower your blood pressure? Your diet has a big impact on this, but most of the things you have probably already heard about this are wrong – high fat diets do NOT raise blood pressure on their own. To learn more about how to lower your blood pressure, read this report.