How To Manage Stress Eating

Does stress eating stall your weight loss efforts?

How to manage stress

If you’ve ever had a stressful day (or year!) that affected your eating habits, you are NOT alone.

In a study, more than 75% of adults said that stress played a role in their eating during the previous month.

This included overeating, eating junk foods, or not eating. Many of them said it happened weekly.

They also said it made them feel sluggish, lazy, disappointed in themselves, and/or irritable.

The good news is that I have a few tips below to stop stress from getting in the way of your results when it comes to food.


How to Stop Stress Eating

But before I get into the tips, it’s important to know WHY stress affects our appetite.

Knowing why can help you manage the situation when you’re in it!

When you get stressed, your body releases hormones to help you deal with stress.

Not only can these hormones – including adrenaline, insulin, and cortisol – cut your appetite and/or make you crave high-calorie, high-fat foods …

They also can make your body store MORE fat than when you’re relaxed.

Not cool, hormones!

This means it’s NOT a willpower issue, but an actual physiological response.

Knowing this can help stop you from giving in to it when it happens.


4 Steps to Stop Stress Eating:

Acknowledge it!
If you’re feeling stressed and notice your appetite is gone OR you start craving junk food, remind

yourself that you’re stressed … and focus on dealing with whatever is actually stressing you.

Go for a walk, do a workout, basically MOVE – it’s one of the fastest stress relievers and mood

boosters there is. Plus, it can get you out of the situation and into a new perspective.

Meditate or do deep breathing
Just 5 minutes can help you feel calmer, more focused, and less stressed.

Talk it out
Taking a few minutes to get some support with whatever is bothering you can help you take back control.


If stress eating is something you deal with regularly, it can help to talk to a professional who has experience with eating issues. Sometimes talking it out, understanding triggers and learning to listen to your body can really help manage stress eating behaviors.

With practice and some mindfulness, you CAN start to manage your stress eating.

Belly Fat Blasting Breakfast

If you want a leaner belly, burn this into your brain first:  Eat breakfast!

Many people make fat loss out to be super complicated.

You definitely want a multi-pronged approach (like combining smart exercise and clean eating) to whittle down your belly, but really simple concepts practiced persistently are what pay off over time.

One of the easiest things you can do to start melting the fat off your frame is to start eating a breakfast EVERY DAY that boosts your metabolism and sets the tone for fat loss all day long.

Perhaps you’re nodding your head in agreement with me, but saying something like, “That’s great. I know that. But what the heck do I eat?”

Glad you asked 😉

Here are three simple fat fighting breakfasts from my colleague, Registered Dietitian, Jayson Hunter:

1- Cottage cheese mixed with real fruit

2- Hard boiled egg and yogurt mixed with real fruit

3- 2 pieces of fruit and a scrambled egg wrap

Seriously, would that be so hard? There’s protein and fresh produce in every example there.  And very little prep/cooking time ;-).  I bet you can manage these in the morning.

Well, if you can’t Jayson, who is the Head of R & D at Jaylab Pro, has another suggestion. You can use a nutritious meal replacement shake like Lean.  Blend it up with ice and the liquid of your choice and you’ve got a meal replacement that has been perfectly formulated with the right amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates and fiber.

I use it myself and find it really has a delicious chocolate flavor. In fact, I hear Jaylab Pro spent 6 months developing Lean just to get the taste right.

If you want to check out Lean, go here: JayLabPro Lean

Ok, so there you have it —   4 EASY options for a Belly Fat Blasting Breakfast. Enjoy!

Yours in health,


PS – Here are 51 other recipes that you can try — with many of them being desserts. YUMMMM!!

Protein Packed Recipes >>  Protein Packed Recipes

Choose more veggies

Do We Really Need Nutrition Supplements?

You can’t go down the street or through a shopping mall without seeing a nutrition supplement store these days, can you? With all those stores out there, it must mean supplements are important and we should all be buying them, then, right?

Well ……..maybe. I’ll get to the answer in just bit.

I’m an exercise expert who knows a good deal about nutrition, but I would never claim to be a nutrition expert myself. When I need answers to important nutrition questions I can’t answer, I look to other colleagues I consider experts in the nutrition field.

One of my go-to people for all things nutrition is Registered Dietician, Jayson Hunter. Jayson is one of the founders of the JayLabPro nutrition supplement company (formerly Prograde Nutrition). He has been a great source of advice and support to lifeSport Fitness for over 10 years. Now, you might be wondering, why would a Registered Dietician start a supplement company? Shouldn’t he be consulting with people about real food!!??

Yes—he should, and he does. But he decided to take it a step further. Jayson got frustrated with the lack of quality, science-based products on the market about 10 years ago and decided to team up with a couple of other fitness colleagues to develop products that were safe, effective and high quality. He also believed that many people were OVER-supplementing their diets and wanted to create a company that promoted a “food first” philosophy with supplementation as a secondary measure. JayLabPro puts a lot of effort into nutrition education so that their customers can become better eaters. I have to admire that.

This is one reason we’ve been recommending JayLabPro products for many years. Quality people with high integrity making quality products, and providing solid consumer education. What they say is in the bottle really IS in the bottle. I know that I am sending our clients to a solid resource.

So – about the question at hand: Should we all be supplementing?

Our answer: Yes— but food comes first.

Your first defense against obesity , poor health and chronic disease is solid, whole food nutrition. Supplements won’t do much for your health if you have a poor diet (aside from protect you against deficiencies). Jayson’s mantra is: “Build a decent nutritional foundation through food first before you take any supplements, or the supplements won’t help at all”

Even though we all try to eat healthy, Jayson believes there are 2 areas in our nutritional foundation that are often the weakest points (and this has been backed up by the USDA and other nutritional organizations)

1. Vegetable intake: After all these years of teaching the importance of an abundance of vegetables, society still only eats about 2 servings a day instead of the recommended 6-8. Even the best of eaters still struggle with getting in a wide variety of colorful vegetables daily.

If you’re not getting a consistent 6-8 servings of vegetables every day, Jayson recommends a solid multivitamin that contains fruit and vegetable extracts. He still stresses food first – but suggests the supplement to get additional nutrients that you’re missing due to having a lower intake of vegetables.

2. Omega-3 fatty acid intake: There are thousands of research studies that have shown the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids and how our current intake is lopsided with a 30 to 1 ratio of Omega-6 fats(disease promoting) to Omega-3 fats.

Consuming large quantities of Omega 6 fats, scientists believe, may trigger inflammation (which can lead to disease and poor health). By consuming minimal Omega 6 fats and increasing Omega 3 fats in our diet, we may be helping to decrease internal inflammation.

Jayson recommends consuming cold water fatty fish 3-4 times a week along with other foods that contain Omega-3 fats (like Chia seeds). For people who don’t eat fish often, a good Omega-3 supplement is beneficial in strengthening that weak point of our nutritional foundation. Food first — eat some fish and other Omega-3 containing foods, but supplement to make that Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio healthier.

The moral of the story: Food first to the best of your ability, and supplement where your own personal diet falls short.

If you want to save 18% on JayLabPro products, Jayson has given me a coupon code to offer you — but it’s only good until Monday, August 7th at midnight!

Head over here:

And use the code AUG18 when checking out.

Yours in health,


Foods to Include In An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

No doubt you’ve heard via some form of media (news, Facebook, magazines) about the benefits of eating an anti-inflammatory diet. But what does that mean, really? What does an anti-inflammatory diet look like?

Just a couple of days ago, a great email from local chiropractor, Dr. Mindy Pelz, came through my inbox. I asked her permission to copy her email into my blog here so that you could learn from it. She lays it out in plain English exactly how to move your eating patterns to a more anti-inflammatory way of eating.


Here’s Dr. Mindy:

There is nothing better than living in a body that feels and functions the way you want it to.

You have more control over your health than you may realize. Chronic pain and disease can greatly be helped by eating the right foods.

The following are my top recommendations for lowering inflammation in your body. I highly recommend that you incorporate these foods into your diet everyday.

1. Wild Fish & Fish Oil – Specifically it is the EPA and DHA found in fish oil or from eating cold-water fish like salmon that has anti-inflammatory properties. The omega-3 fatty acid can help with joint swelling and inflammation generally caused by the over consumption of omega-6 fatty acids from non grass fed red meat. Be sure you always get your fish wild, as farm raised fish does not carry the same fatty acid content.

2. Fermented foods – Probiotics from either supplements or fermented foods help to build immunity and control infection caused by underlying inflammation in the body by supplying the body with good gut bacteria. Great fermented foods are unpasteurized sauerkraut, unpasteurized kimchi, raw kefir, or kombucha,

3. Juicing Greens – The process of juicing breaks the cell walls of fruit and vegetables, making the nutrients more accessible and allowing the body to quickly absorb mega doses of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which can help combat inflammation. Green vegetables such as spinach, cucumber, parsley, and mint, are great to juice because they will put your body on the alkaline side and lower inflammation.

4. Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, beta-carotene, and calcium, giving these vegetables great anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain high levels of glutathione, a necessary amino acid that pulls toxins from your body. Be sure to eat these veggies raw or lightly steamed, as it will retain the most nutrients.

5. Pineapple & Papaya – Along with being packed with vitamin C, pineapple also contains bromelain. Bromelain helps to break down proteins, aids in digestion, reduces swelling, and can even improve blood circulation.

6. Ginger – Used for centuries for medicinal purposes, ginger shares many properties with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), suppressing pro-inflammatory molecules known as prostaglandins with little to no side effects compared to NSAIDs.

7. Turmeric – Over 5000 peer reviewed articles have been written about the health benefits of this miraculous tuber. Turmeric is the main spices added to curry, giving it its distinctive yellow pigment, turmeric contains curcumin. Curcumin blocks several inflammatory chemicals in the body. Like ginger it can prevent the production of prostaglandins and be used like NSAIDs with the added benefit of also being a great antioxidant.

8. Sweet Potato – This is one of my favorite foods ever. It may be sweet, but it’s lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes. Packed full of vitamins B6 and C, manganese, beta-carotene, and fiber, these amazing potatoes are a great addition to any diet. Working in concert, these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.

9. Coconut oil– This miraculous oil is packed with medium chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are digested quickly and can be a powerful source of energy. Coconut oil is also excellent way to keep your joints (especially knees & shoulders) well lubricated. Eating a diet high in coconut oil will also leave your skin hydrated and glowing.

10. Grass Fed Beef – Commercial raised, antibiotic packed, grain fed beef promotes inflammation (packed with omega 6 oils). You want to avoid grain fed beef at all cost. But organic grass fed beef is packed with omega 3 fatty acids and will lower inflammation in your body. Not only is grass fed beef a great source of protein and high in omega 3’s, it contains a good fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is one of the most potent defenses against cancer.


You can learn more about Dr. Mindy Pelz at:


Dr. Mindy is on a mission to help us change our health by educating us on how to eat better. Gotta love a doc who wants to help you stay off meds and be healthier! Thanks, Dr. Mindy!

Nutrition Habits – Dr. Mike’s 6 Pillars of Nutrition

One of the most difficult things that I do as a personal trainer is San Jose is help people change their nutrition habits. I joke with my clients that as much as I think the workouts I design for them kick butt— I absolutely, positively cannot out-train a poor diet. Changing nutrition habits in order to change your physique is huge. Most clients see me 2-3 times per week. How they spend the other 165 hours a week can make or break their results 😉 . Yes–getting lean and feeling great is probably 80% nutrition.

How do personal trainers manage what their clients eat? Well, it’s rather difficult. Old habits die hard. Social pressure to eat and drink to excess is everywhere.

I’ve helped people with their fitness and nutrition programs for over 25 years. I think that different people need different approaches (thus, the “personal” in personal training!). But, two common threads come into play for most people:

1) Changing habits over time

2) Following a written plan

A few months back I read a blog post by Dr. Mike Roussell, a Registered Dietician that I really admire. In his post, Dr. Mike laid out his “6 Pillars of Nutrition”. This list pretty much sums up the habits that I try to drive my clients to over time:

Dr. Mike Roussell’s Four Pillars of Nutrition

1) Multiple meals
• Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack
• Not too big, not too small

2) Reduced processed food
• Minimize added sugar as much as possible. It’s easily the worst thing in your diet
• Minimize refined carbs. They’re empty calories.
• Processed food have more preservatives and sodium

3) Veggies and fruit
• Every meal.
• You can eat a large quantity for fewer calories.
• They’re dense in vitamins and minerals

4) Water
• Increase water and decrease calorie containing beverages

5) Lean proteins
• Eat a little with EVERY meal

6) Be strategic w/starches
• Insert these foods right after exercise or first thing in the morning.
•Your body is able to accept more carbs at these times.

These 6 pillars trump calorie counting. Calories DO count (i.e., quantity counts), but the QUALITY of your calories is paramount.

My belief is that if you live by these 6 pillars AND you eat the proper portions, you will absolutely have a leaner body.

With regard to following a written plan–the best results I’ve seen have come from having a client select a customized meal plan geared toward their food preferences and fitness/weight loss goals. Although I ultimately want my clients to create their own meal plans, giving them a well-balanced, done-for-you portion controlled meal plan at the start teaches them good nutrition and takes all the guess work out of “what should I eat?”. Over time, the meal plan becomes second nature and a part of my client’s lifestyle. At lifeSport Fitness, we use ProDiets web-based meal planning software for our clients. They can choose from dozens of Registered Dietician-designed meal plans all geared toward healthy, balanced eating.

You see, getting healthier is all about changing habits—both your nutrition AND your exercise habits.

In this post, I’ve covered my best advice for how to change nutrition habits over time.

Next week, I’ll be back with my best advice for how to incorporate exercise into your busy life .

Yours in health,


Tips to Reduce Chronic Inflammation

Fruit w:measuring tapeAcute inflammation is your body’s natural and helpful immune response to tissue damage. When you fall off your bike and cut yourself, the cut swells, reddens and feels   inflamed. These are all signs that your immune system is busy at work sending white blood cells to the site of your injury to repair the tissue. In this situation, inflammation is a good thing.

Chronic, out of control internal inflammation  is NOT a good thing, however. Chronic inflammation is thought to increase your risk for heart disease and some cancers.  It is also thought to be a deterrent to fat loss.

Chronic inflammation is thought to be caused by a barrage of environmental, physical and mental invaders. These come in the form of things like poor diet, toxic chemicals, allergens, poor sleep habits, and stress.

Chronic inflammation is hard to detect, but it can cause a host of health problems.  If you think you may be at risk for chronic inflammation, it might be worth getting a check up.  There are blood tests your doctor can do to see if you have underlying hidden inflammation in your body.

There are simply dietary changes you can start doing immediately that may help you if you think you suffer from chronic internal inflammation.

Tips to Reduce Chronic Inflammation

1). Include fresh and dried herbs in your nutrition plan.  Basil, chili peppers, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, and ginger, too.

2). Eat berries and tart cherries.  Berries and tart cherries have anti-inflammatory properties, not to mention anti-oxidants and fiber. Lots of good stuff in those berries!

3). Take a fish oil supplement or eat fish 2 times a week.  Fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are thought to help decrease inflammation.

4). Cook with olive oil. Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that keeps inflammation down.

5). Drink brewed green tea.  Green tea contains a compound called ECGC that is thought to decrease inflammation (I’m drinking green tea as I write this post!!).

6). Eat dark leafy greens as often as you can.

Making these simple changes will not only have you eating healthier—it just may help you reduce internal inflammation.

For more information on an anti-inflammatory diet, check out Dr. Andrew Weil’s website:


The list above gives you ideas of what foods to ADD to your life to reduce chronic inflammation.  We should also discuss a few things we should minimize in our diets to help decrease inflammation.  These include:

1)  Hydrogenated oils

2) Added sugar

3)  Products made with wheat flour

Also, if you know you are allergic to something or just somewhat sensitive to it (soy or gluten, for example), it’s a good idea to minimize it in your diet.  If your allergic or sensitive to it, it’s possible it will create an internal inflammatory response in you.

Always check with your doctor if you think you have a chronic inflammatory condition so that you can be set on the right path for your particular situation.  In the meantime, try some of these dietary suggestions.  Even if you don’t have chronic inflammation, you may find yourself eating just a little bit healthier!

Aside from dietary changes, the two other suggestions I’ll leave you with involve some lifestyle changes.  The two best lifestyle changes to make if you’re not already doing them are:

1)  Get yourself into a pattern of regular, restful sleep.  Lack of sleep causes all sorts of disruptions in your body and can cause you to make poor food choices.  First and foremost—fix your sleep!

2)  Get yourself started on a regular exercise program.  TONS of good things happen when you begin an exercise program!  You’ll sleep better, drop excess body fat, reduce your stress, AND potentially improve a chronic inflammation situation!


If you’re in the San Jose, Campbell or Los Gatos area, I invite you to experience a free one-week trial at a lifeSport Fitness boot camp in San Jose so we can show you how to develop an “anti-inflammatory lifestyle” and have some FUN while you do it!

Committed to your success,



Quinoa–A Great Super Food!

For breakfast, lunch or dinner, quinoa is a healthy option to add to your diet. Quinoa is a seed grain that has been cultivated in the Andean region for over 7,000 years and was considered sacred by the Inca Empire. It was later replaced almost completely by cereals such as barley, wheat and corn.

I consider quinoa  a “superfood” because it is a complete protein, and it’s packed with fiber and other good stuff. Quinoa is a slow releasing carbohydrate that gives you a full feeling for a long time.  This is ideal for weight control and to maintain adequate blood sugar levels. It is a complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids, and includes lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.

A cup of quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein, about twice that of other grains. Quinoa is a very good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, making it especially valuable for persons which migraine headaches, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. It is a good source of riboflavin, which is necessary for energy productions within cells. Quinoa is gluten-free and is a great source of fiber.

Cooking with quinoa is simple and is just like cooking rice. The most basic method of cooking quinoa is to boil it in water and simmer for 10-12 minutes. You need 1 measure of quinoa to 2 measures of water. All the water will be absorbed by the quinoa. Some quinoa has a coating of bitter tasting saponins. In that case, you need to pre-rinse the quinoa to remove this coating before cooking.  Once you have cooked the quinoa you can add it as a base for meat dishes instead of rice. You can also include it in salads and soups. I recently used it in Minestrone soup in place of pasta. It will take on the flavor of the foods you cook with and adds its own little bite to the taste.

Another way of incorporating quinoa in your meals is in the form of quinoa flour. Quinoa flour has a pleasant, nutty taste. It makes delicious bread, muffins, pasta, pancakes and more. When using quinoa flour in baking, substitute half the amount of all-purpose flour with quinoa flour, and then use all-purpose flour for the remaining half. Depending on the taste you are looking for in your baked good, you may want to use less quinoa flour than all-purpose. Experiment yourself and find what suits your taste buds best.

Try this easy Quinoa Recipe

2 small onions, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of Quinoa
2 cups of water
2 vegetarian soup stock cubes

First add the finely chopped onions, the minced garlic and sea salt to the olive oil in a pan or wok.
Saute until onions are slightly brown. Then add chopped red pepper and continue to sauté until onions are caramelized. Add water, then the stock cubes and quinoa and bring to a simmer. Stir once after 5 minutes then simmer for 15 minutes until water has been cooked in.

Enjoy Quinoa in your diet. Experiment by adding it to dishes where you normally use rice (think stir fries or soup). You’ll find it is a healthy, tasty addition to your meals!

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Shedding Holiday Weight

How to Shed Holiday Weight GainThe holiday season has come and gone. Many San Jose residents have “Shedding Holiday Weight” as a top priority on their to-do lists now.  It’s time to work on losing those extra pounds gained from all the parties, holiday treats and family gatherings. With the abundance of rich foods at holiday time, it is no wonder that so many people suffer from holiday weight gain (yep, even your friendly San Jose boot camp coach can fall victim to holiday treats!).

The extra pounds you may have packed on during the holidays can make the prospect of losing weight seem like an overwhelming task. The good news is that by taking the time to plan out a post-holiday strategy that will work for you, shedding holiday weight won’t be as difficult as you think.

Post Holiday Weight Loss Tips

  1. Set a goal. What would you like to achieve in the next 6 weeks?  Is is attainable?  Measurable?  Get your goals down on paper and post them where you’ll see them every day.
  2. Put together a routine.  Get yourself back into the habit of regular exercise.  Write out a schedule of when you’ll exercise and stick to it.  Grab a workout buddy if you need more accountability.
  3. Eat breakfast!  Having a good breakfast with protein and produce (think scrambled eggs and spinach) is important in order to set yourself up to feel full and energized for your day.  Ditch the sugary cereals and flour-based bread products.  Stick with protein and produce as your first meal of the day.
  4. Eat often.  Make your meals a little smaller, and eat 4-6 times per day.  This will keep you energized and feeling full, and it will also keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day.
  5. Limit alcohol and other calorie filled, non-nutritive beverages.  Now, don’t shoot the messenger, and please note that I didn’t say eliminate.  Simply limit them ;-).
  6. Get outside!  We’re fortunate to live in an area with wonderful weather pretty much year-round.  On the weekends, soak up a little sun and vitamin D with a walk, a hike or sprints around your local high school track.  A little sunshine and fresh air will do your mood good.

If you’d like our professional fitness boot camp coaches to be your accountability partner, please give us a call at 408-265-1540 or click below to request a one-week free trial at a lifeSport Fitness boot camp in San Jose Campbell or Los Gatos:

I want a free one-week trial at lifeSport Fitness bootcamp!


What’s the Difference Between Non GMO and Organic?

Organic_Fruit_Is_Non_GMOFor the last five weeks I’ve been encouraging my Back-To-School Transformation Challengers to eat more fruits and veggies. Combined with a consistent exercise routine, good lifelong habits can be formed. I’ve shared eating plans and exercise videos to keep folks motivated during these intense six weeks. We talk a lot about food, nutrition, metabolism and weight loss. This question came up that’s worthy of talking about: What’s the difference between non GMO and organic foods?.

What is GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. It’s been around for at least two decades as food manufacturers wanted to create crops that were more pest and drought resistant.  They can be plants or animals where scientists have altered DNA to create desired traits (e.g., disease resistant or pesticide tolerant).  Bill Freese at the Center for Food Safety says ” GMOs are present in 60 to 70% of foods on US supermarket shelves.” He goes onto to say that the vast majority of processed foods contain GMOs. Even some fruits and veggies have undergone genetic engineering, including:

  • Hawaiian papayas
  • Some zucchini, crookneck and straightneck squash
  • 90% of corn on the cob
  • Milk with RGBH (a genetically modified variation of a hormone injected into dairy cows to increase production)
  • “Natural foods” as there isn’t a strict definition of what constitutes natural food.Organic_Fruit

The good news is that no meat, fish and poultry products have been approved for direct human consumption. Yet.

Surprising foods that aren’t genetically engineered:

  • Potatoes
  • Seedless watermelon
  • Salmon
  • 93% of Soy milk
  • Rice

The biggest scare about GMO foods is the environmental effect of farming of genetically engineered crops doused with pesticides.  Some scientists fear that GMOs can cause allergies in humans.

What is Organic?

Since 1990’s, USDA organic standards have prohibited GM ingredients. So if you eat organic foods, you are eating non GMO foods. Sadly the US is not among the 64 developed (and developing) countries that require GMO food labeling.

And the Answer Is….

Ok, back to our original question. What’s the difference between non GMO and organic? If you eat organic you are eating non GMO foods. If you eat food labeled as “natural,” you may be eating GMO. Lastly, you can be eating foods that haven’t been genetically tampered with… but are still treated with pesticides…and hence not organic.  I encourage my fitness clients to buy organic whenever possible and practical. That’s what I serve my family. So when you eat organic you are eating non GMO foods.

Now that you know the difference between non GMO and organic, what will find its way into your supermarket basket?


Image credits:

Fruit cups:

Coconut Milk: A Healthy Alternative

Coconut Milk Now on Supermarket Shelves

Girl_Drinking_Coconut_MilkHave you noticed that the dairy section has exploded with new choices? For years cows milk shared the refrigerated section with it’s lonely companion, soy milk. Now almond and coconut milk has burst onto the scene. If you’re dairy intolerant, this is definitely good news. Many new diets have touted its benefits. Several of my clients have made the switch with great weight loss results. So, I thought I’d share some of the health benefits of coconut milk.

Good for the Brain

Kieran Clarke, head of the Cardiac Metabolism Research Group and professor of  physiological biochemistry at Oxford University, believes there’s a connection between coconut oil and improved brain function. Professor Clarke is an expert on the way the body makes and uses energy. As explained in an article about an Alzheimer’s patient, here’s how the connection works:

Most of the time our brains rely on glucose from carbohydrates, but if that isn’t available — because we haven’t eaten anything for a while or because we’re eating almost no carbohydrates — then our brain cells can switch to using the energy from our fat stores.

This energy comes in the form of small molecules called ketones. As Professor Clarke explains: ‘Coconut oil contains a lot of a particular sort of fat that our bodies can use to make more of the ketone “brain food.” It’s known as MCT (medium chain triglycerides) and it’s not found in the fats most of us eat.Coconut tree

Choose Unsweetened Coconut Milk

When buying a coconut milk, look for unsweetened. This is not the same as coconut water, which is also a very popular substitute for sodas or sugary drinks. I advise my boot camp and personal training clients to stay hydrated. I suggest reaching for plain water first.

Coconut milk can be found in the refrigerated section or where other milk alternatives are stocked. There are two major brands — So Delicious and Silk. Even Trader Joe’s has their own version. Check the labels for the calorie content. Many cartons make it easy by putting the number right on front. 45 calories a cup seems to be the lowest available, and most don’t have added cane sugar. There are conflicting reports on the impact on cholesterol. So check with a licensed dietitian or your doctor to figure out what’s best for you.

Other Health Benefits

Here are some other health claims linked to coconut milk and oil:

  • Rich in lauric and caprylic acid which are powerful fatty acids that have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral effects
  • High in medium-change triglycerides which has been linked to burning fat
  • Cooks at a high heat without damaging its healthy properties

How do you use coconut milk in a healthy diet? Let me know if you’re interested in coconut-related recipes!

Committed to your success,



Image Credits:

Girl Drinking Coconut Milk

Coconut Tree