Superfoods for Energy

Is your day just dragging on and you can’t seem to keep your eyes open let alone accomplish some major tasks? Try changing up what you eat to boost your energy levels and help you sail through your day.

An excess of sugars or foods that are high on the glycemic index can drain your battery quickly and leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Try to stay away from “white” breads and refined grains and choose items that may be higher in fibre. Flaxseed, fish oils and lean protein are your better choices to boost your energy. Try some of these superfoods:

  • Brown Rice – it’s better for you than the white variety and will help make you feel fuller for longer.
  • Oats – they are high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins E and B and high in protein. It will help keep you feeling full and aid with stress and tiredness.
  • Broccoli – has lots of cancer-fighting properties as well as being a great energy provider. It also contains lots of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
  • Lentils – not only are they are colourful and add to a nice look to your plate, they will help keep your energy levels high.
  • Almonds – almonds are an easy and quick snack that contains vitamin E, B, magnesium and iron, all which help boost your energy.
  • Leafy Greens – iron is key to your energy levels. Not enough iron will keep you feeling fatigued. Add some romaine, spinach, or kale to your diet and increase iron, and vitamin C levels leaving you with added energy.
  • Coconut Oil – try a spoon full of oil to boost your energy. Coconut oil is quickly processed into energy.
  • Bananas – this snack can boost your energy level while taming that sweet tooth of yours. Bananas are high in vitamin B6 which helps produce energy more quickly.
  • Quinoa – contains B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and iron. Quinoa will fill you up and energize you as well.

Keep some these foods on hand. Pack them in your lunch and when you start to feel a slump in the day, get some of these pick me up snacks. For a nearly instant energy boost that lasts, eat a healthy snack that contains protein and a complex carbohydrate. If you eat the right foods, you’ll have an energized, productive day.

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Add Fiber to Your Balanced Diet

One of the simplest ways to kick start a healthy diet is to increase your dietary fiber. Processed food and fast food are easy and quick but they can wreak havoc on your digestive tract. Not only that but processed foods, which are high in fat and high and calories are linked to obesity and other diseases.

What does fiber do for us? Fiber’s primary role is to promote healthy digestion. Fiber cleanses the digestive tract by speeding up the excretions and toxins from the body. It also helps to prevent waste from sitting in the intestines.

There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber passes through most of the bowel system unchanged and promotes the growth of friendly bacteria. Since this type of fiber is not digested by the body it helps to slow gastric emptying and therefore can help to reduce your food intake because you will feel fuller for longer. Insoluble fibre is found in bran, wholemeal flour, brown rice, whole grain cereal, vegetables, edible peels and nuts and seeds. Soluble fiber helps to reduce the level of cholesterol by binding fats that cause high cholesterol and pushing them through the bowel. This helps to prevent the bad fats from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber absorbs water during digestion which acts like a natural stool softener. Soluble fibres include fruit, vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, oats, barley, oatmeal and potatoes.

In terms of weight loss increasing your dietary fiber can aide in reaching your goals if combined with a balanced healthy diet and exercise. Fiber helps in long term weight loss and your dietary fiber intake should be monitored to ensure you’re meeting the daily recommended dose. Speak with your Doctor or Trainer to find out how much fiber you should be consuming per day. You want to make sure that you’re not consuming too much fiber as well because it can cause a mineral deficiency.

High fiber foods are typically low in calories and are filling so they help to prevent overeating or snacking in between meals. Due to the slowing of digestion with added fibre you can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels which is beneficial to diabetics. Fibre will also help to prevent tiredness, hunger pangs and lack of energy.

Adding dietary fiber to your diet is not a fad and it’s not a passing trend in healthy eating. It’s a key part in maintaining a health and balanced diet which can aide in weight loss but also keep you healthy and your body functioning at an optimal level. There are many easy ways to add fiber to your diet but if you’re still unsure on how to make this healthy change then ask your Doctor or training to go through your eating habits and help determine where you can make some changes.

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Healthy Inside, Healthy Outside

The healthy look of our skin and hair is directly related how healthy we are on the inside. Many of the healthy foods that we eat can also provide excellent benefits to the skin and hair. Diet plays a big role in maintaining healthy skin and hair. Your diet needs to have the proper protein, fats, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals. Foods containing omega 3s are key to healthy skin and hair.

When it comes to the skin, omega 3s in the form of fish oil or flax oil can help maintain its good healthy state. One of the major concerns in skin is aging. Wrinkles tend to appear in the face as we age. Omega 3 increases the level of essential fatty acids in the body that helps in the prevention of wrinkle formation. Without these fatty acids, the skin may turn dull and eventually lead to eczema or psoriasis. Taking in enough of these vital supplements can help maintain healthy skin thus helping to prevent many negative skin conditions.

When it comes to hair, omega 3s can also prevent many problems. This fatty acid can help prevent and even reverse hair loss which is one challenge that most do not want to experience. The fatty acids can also prevent the inflammation of the hair follicles or what is better known as folliculitis. Dandruff can also be largely prevented with a diet that includes the omega oils. An added benefit is that is also makes the hair shinier and keeps it more moisturized.

Foods rich in vitamins such as vitamins A, B, C, D, and E aid in keeping your skin healthy. Vitamin A foods include dairy products, eggs, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, melon and papaya will help with healthy blood circulation and give your skin healthy glow.

The vitamin B family is very important in skin health. B1 aids in circulation while B2 can stop the formation of liver spots and B6 will improve eczema. Foods rich in vitamin B include green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grain cereals, meat and liver.

Rich vitamin C foods such as broccoli, green peppers, tomatoes, lemons, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, potatoes, cherries, black currents and grapes works in conjunction with protein for the production of collagen which helps keep your skin from sagging and wrinkling as well as essential for healthy hair. It will strengthen the capillaries so that your skin has a nice even tone and will reduce dryness. Vitamin E is helpful to prevent wrinkles and premature aging. Whole wheat breads, milk, asparagus, broccoli, egg yolks, olives, nuts and leafy green vegetables are all great sources of vitamin E. Avocado is truly a super food for the skin. It is packed with oil and high levels of vitamin E both which are essential for soft skin and shiny hair. Avocado oil is also gentle enough to use with eczema without causing any skin irritations.

In creating diets for healthy skin make sure that you eat a variety of foods so that you get all the nutrients you need. A diet for healthy skin and hair is also a diet for healthy organs and an overall diet for health which will not only keep you young and healthy on the outside but also on the inside too.

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Bad Diet or Healthy Eating Plan?

Weight Loss Tip:  Do You Have A Bad Diet or a Healthy Eating Plan?A healthy diet is an integral part of any weight loss program. Generally, a balanced diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meat will give an individual the necessary energy to perform the daily activities and function at their most optimum level–AND lose that dreaded excess body fat.  In addition to helping you shed unwanted fat, well-planned meals protect against some chronic diseases and aid in tissue and muscle repair .

Unfortunately, society has put such importance on losing weight that people desperate to see a drop on the scale will go on “crash diets”. Very often these diets are too low in calories to sustain long term and nutritionally they’re not all that healthy.

I’ve been a personal trainer in Willow Glen for many many years now. I’ve always counseled our clients to avoid the “diet” mentality, and instead begin to concentrate on eating whole, fresh foods.  My coaches and I ask our clients to concentrate on what TO eat, instead of what NOT to eat. We coach our clients to eat meals that consist mainly of protein, vegetable-based carbohydrates and a little healthy fat throughout the day.  We ask them to minimize “liquid calories”  ( the calories from a daily latte add up!) and processed, wheat flour-based foods.   We check in with our personal training clients regularly to ask if the dietary changes they’re making are changes that they can live with for life.  We don’t seek to deprive anyone from an occasional cocktail, latte or brownie.  We simply coach our clients to eat really well most of the time.

Why Dieting is a Losing Proposition

A diet that is seen as a mere means to losing weight as opposed to a lifestyle change will potentially result in unhealthy  practices, poor overall nutrition and possibly muscle/bone loss.  Crash diets will literally starve the body of the most basic nutrients needed to function. The worst part is, after doing a crash diet and then returning to the eating pattern that got you overweight in the first place—you’re bound to gain even MORE weight.

The New Paradigm for Permanent Weight Loss

  1. Avoid strict fad diets
  2. Try making just ONE change per week that will get you to eat healthier
  3. Limit the calories you drink
  4. Minimize wheat flour-based foods (eat whole grains instead)
  5. Incorporate regular strength training into your lifestyle (muscle burns calories ALL DAY LONG!)

Having trouble with the motivation to change?

Consider joining a small group personal training program in Willow Glen with lifeSport Fitness!

We’re opening up two new time slots during which we train up to 4 people on their own personal program.  You share a coach and save BIG on coaching fees!

Call us at 408-265-1540 to talk with us about how we can help you lose weight and feel great!

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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Antioxidant Rich Foods

Antioxidants have the power to protect you from disease and slow the aging process, as they fight the free radicals in your body that can harm your cells. If your antioxidant levels are low, oxidative stress can occur, making your susceptible to many illnesses including heart disease and cancer. Therefore, in order to keep your body healthy and your immune systems strong, you must consume an abundance of antioxidants on a daily basis. These powerhouses can be found in many fruits and vegetables, and common antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotene, flavonoids and
Polyphenols. Antioxidant food is the best and first line of defense to protecting your body against increasing free radicals (toxins) . Whole, plant-based foods (unprocessed or minimally processed) such as grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and unrefined oils are terrific sources of anti-oxidants.

Some foods are extremely high in antioxidant content. It is recommended that these foods are consumed on a regular basis to reverse the signs of aging and to help prevent, and even reverse various disease processes such as cancer and heart disease, plus reduce blood pressure.

The 5 Best Antioxidant Rich Foods

  1. Berries – In addition to being deliciously sweet, berries such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries offer an abundance of antioxidant capacity. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are rich in proanthocyanidins, antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and heart disease. Eat them frozen in a morning smoothie, toss a handful over your morning yogurt or cereal or enjoy them as an afternoon snack.
  2. Broccoli – Broccoli definitely takes the gold medal for most nutritious vegetable. This cruciferous vegetable contains more vitamin C than an orange and has more calcium than a glass of milk. In addition to minerals and vitamins, broccoli is filled with disease-fighting chemicals called phytonutrients. Sulforaphane, a phytonutrient found in broccoli, has been shown to lower the risk of many types of cancers. Try steaming or boiling broccoli and seasoning with basil, lemon or salsa for a delicious side dish.
  3. Garlic – Garlic is used around the world as a delicious flavouring agent for any dish. The health benefits of garlic have been well touted for centuries, and raw garlic has been used a natural antibiotic to kill off some strains of harmful bacteria. Garlic is also useful for decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, removing heavy metals from the body, preventing cancer and acting as an antifungal and antiviral agent. One clove of garlic contains vitamin A, B and C, selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
  4. Green Tea – Green Tea contains high concentrations of catechin polyphenols. These compounds work in the body with other chemicals to heighten levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis (a state created in the body by burning fat as fuel). On average, you should try to consume a minimum of three cups of green tea per day for weight loss effects. Green tea has also been shown to be preventative against cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol.
  5. Tomatoes – Tomatoes are by far the richest source of a powerful anticancer agent called lycopene. In fact, research has shown lycopene to be an even more powerful disease fighter than vitamin E and beta carotene. Lycopene needs fat for optimal absorption to occur. Therefore, putting the healthy fat olive oil in your spaghetti sauce is an excellent trick to increase your lycopene levels. Start including more tomatoes in your diet in the form of sliced, whole, canned, stewed or sauced tomatoes or tomato paste.

You can also include red grapes, spinach, carrots, whole grains and dark chocolate into your food choices to offer additional antioxidant content. While nothing can guarantee the prevention of cancer or other illnesses, by consuming a diet rich in antioxidants, you are putting up a fight against these diseases. You owe it to your body to do everything in your power to keep it healthy, so indulge in some antioxidant-rich foods today.

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Age/Diet Correlation

Perhaps one of the more interesting things I have seen relating to dietary research is how diets change as a person gets older, specifically women. In this article I am going to take a little look at a few of these differences, and perhaps give some sort of indication as to why our diet may change as we age. The age to diet correlation that I am going to be discussing here stems from a recent study which looked at around 2,000 women of a variety of ages. Now, there has been no study related to males in the same vein, however, it could be argued here that these results could potentially apply to males as well.

Generally speaking, this study discovered that older women tended to eat far healthier than those of the younger generation. Perhaps the main reason for this is the variety of food that we have available on the market right now. Those of the older generation seem to be more used to ‘home style’ cooking, whereas the younger generation are all about the fast food and takeaways. If this study surrounding age/diet correlation was carried out far later then I would hazard a guess that the results would be far different from what we see today. If people maintain the same eating habits throughout their lives than it’s likely that when the current younger generation reaches their 50s and 60s they will still be eating fast food more regularly.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about this study is that despite vegetable consumption being significantly higher in the older generation, very few people across all age groups actually met the recommended dietary requirements for fruit and vegetables. Experts suggest that both adults and children should be consuming 5 portions a day.

The older generation are also consuming far more dietary fibre, yet they still weren’t reaching the recommended allowance. In addition to this, both groups consumed high amounts of fat, but it was significantly lower in the older generation. However, almost everybody seemed to eat far more fat than they actually needed, which is very unhealthy. It’s important to note that there are healthy fats that should be consumed as part of a balanced diet whatever your age.

The strange thing is, even if a person exercised frequently at a younger age, they still seemed to eat far less healthy than the older generation. Which of course could indicate that it is the foods available on the market at the moment which affect this. The younger generation, who are just starting their families and their careers, are short on time and tend to settle on convenience when it comes to food.

So in summary, as you get older, you tend to eat far healthier. Perhaps the main reason behind this is that we tend to treat our body better in our older years, because as we age we are more prone to diet related illnesses. Most people want to slow down the aging process as well and know that eating healthy can help. Of course, it remains to be seen if diet does actually change as we get older, or if we follow what we were used to when we were younger.

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Fatigue: Three Nutrition Tips that Fight Afternoon Slump

We all know the drill: we have a well-balanced breakfast, remain perky throughout the morning but as soon as it hits 2 or 3pm we hit that slump. Everybody goes through it. It seems like we lose all energy and just want to crawl up into a ball and sleep. This is fatigue taking over your body.  Thankfully however, there are a number of foods that you can eat to help fight fatigue and beat that afternoon slump. Let me share with you some of the best of them.

1.  Pumpkin Seeds.  I know this may seem a little odd, but one of the common causes for fatigue later on in the day is a magnesium deficiency. A ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds should be good enough to give you the boost that you need. Eat these in the morning and you will be feeling the benefits all day, especially when it comes to the afternoon.

2.  Oatmeal. When we feel the slump in the afternoon, we often reach across and grab a cup of coffee or some sugary snack. However, you don’t need to do that. Instead you should eat a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. There is a lot of fiber packed into oats which help us to stay full and to feel full. This helps to combat fatigue throughout the day. In addition to that, the fiber combats constipation, which actually has an effect on how tired we feel (even though you can’t feel the process at work). To cap it off, there is no sugar crash associated with oatmeal.

3.  Yogurt. This is a great food to eat with lunch. A big benefit to yogurt is that it contains both carbohydrate and protein. Proteins digest more slowly so it gives you energy throughout the day. You can also eat it at any point in the day when you are feeling a little fatigued – just be sure it’s not high in added sugar. I suggest Greek yogurt because it is higher in protein than traditional yogurt.

These are just a few options for foods that you can use to tackle the afternoon slump today. Increase your water intake as well and you’ll be energized all day!

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