Category Archives: Nutrition

The 10 Best Foods To Beat Your Sugar Cravings

Even if you cut out sweets, the amount of added sugar in processed foods — from bread to salad dressing — makes it hard to give it up without a fight. And all of that sucrose, fructose and glucose that adds up in your diet is addictive as it raises your insulin level so you want more.

Read on for 10 foods that can help you kick your sugar habit.

1. Homemade Smoothies With Yogurt, Milk and/or Protein Powder

A smoothie often includes the fruit skins, so it provides an extra boost of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. If your smoothie includes yogurt or milk, you get some calcium too, and the fruit adds fiber, helping to slow digestion, lower cholesterol and control blood sugar. As a breakfast, one with protein powder, healthy fats and low glycemic index fruit can push off any unhealthy midmorning snacking and get you through to lunch.

2. Plain Yogurt

Phosphorus, found in dairy products like yogurt, is a building block for bones. While you don’t want to overdo phosphorous, choosing plain yogurt also gives you the benefit of probiotics, which help maintain proper digestive health. In fact, imbalanced gut bacteria and candida overgrowth have been linked to more intense sugar cravings, and probiotics can help rebalance the gut bacteria. Enjoy your yogurt with some fresh berries and low-sugar granola for a satisfying fiber- and protein-rich snack that will keep your blood sugar from spiking.

3. Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Sugar cravings can also often be a sign that your blood sugar levels are out of balance, which is why it’s important to eat low glycemic index (GI) foods that prevent energy crashes and sugar cravings. Most breakfast cereals contain simple carbohydrates, which break down into sugar in your body and cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels. Instead of a muffin, sugary cereal or handful of cookies, steel-cut oatmeal will keep your blood sugar level more stable. Sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg or drizzle some honey on a bowl of your steel cut-oatmeal and pair with a serving of nuts for added protein.

4. Cinnamon

Even spices can help you overcome the sugar addiction. Cinnamon has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and can also help reduce sugar cravings. Cinnamon minimizes insulin spikes after you’ve eaten, thereby keeping you from craving more sugar. When you’re craving something sugary try sprinkling cinnamon over a banana and add some crushed raw nuts on the side.

5. Apples

Another reason you crave sweets can be due to a deficiency of chromium. Chromium is known to be important in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and getting enough chromium is thought to improve the way your body regulates sugar and cholesterol. Apples are a great source of it, but other fruits that provide chromium include bananas and oranges. Try this easy dessert: Slice an apple and sprinkle with cinnamon, then microwave for 30 to 45 seconds.

6. Nut Butter

Eating protein is an excellent way to reduce sugar cravings because it stabilizes your blood sugar levels. Nuts and nut butters (or sunflower butter if you have nut allergies) provide protein along with healthy fats, but if you’re trying to lose weight, only eat two tablespoons a day. And be sure you get ones that have no sugar added! Nut butters also provide sulfur, which is the third most abundant mineral in your body and found throughout your muscles, skin and bones. As we age, a lack of sulfur can lead to sagging and wrinkling of the skin or stiff muscles and joints. For snacks that combine protein and fiber, try a piece of toast with almond butter topped with berries or dig into a spoonful of peanut butter with some celery sticks.

7. Dates

With their caramel-like taste and texture, most foodies will tell you that dates are the next great thing, especially because they can be a healthier replacement for sugar in some dessert recipes. Fewer calories than sugar and a lower glycemic index, 6 medium-size pitted dates provide you with 6 percent of your daily allowance of potassium, which can prevent osteoporosis, stroke, kidney stones and high blood pressure. With high levels of soluble fiber, they help fight off sugar cravings and even stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines. But, at 23 calories per date, be sure to eat them sparingly.

8. Beetroots

Beetroot can help curb those sugar cravings. Known for fighting off inflammation — a root cause of conditions ranging from arthritis and heart disease to migraines, dental issues and cancers — beetroots are also high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B and iron. They’re helpful for purifying the blood and cleansing the liver, but, most importantly for your cravings, they’re a good source of glutamine, which is ideal for some extra get-up-and-go when what you’re really hankering for is the spike of energy that sugar can give. For a quick, healthy snack, try roasted beetroot sliced and served with goat cheese and raw walnuts on some peppery greens.

9. Sweet Potato

Naturally sweet, this veggie can help with sugar cravings too. While starchy, a sweet potato’s natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream and won’t cause your blood sugar to spike. A great source of potassium and high in iron, vitamins like B-6, C and D and one of the best sources of vitamin A, the sweet potato is also high in L-tryptophan, which can help satisfy your sugar craving.

10. Vanilla

Studies have shown that vanilla-scented products reduced a person’s need for sugary foods and drinks. You become desensitized by its smell, so you can trick your sweet tooth with a vanilla-scented product like body lotion or a candle instead of something sweet to eat. But if you won’t be satisfied without something in your mouth, try adding natural vanilla extract to tea, coffee or even sparkling water to curb that craving.

12 Foods To Help You Get Lean

Avocados

Choosing delicious foods that dampen your hunger, turn off your cravings for sweets and rev up your metabolism are part of the secret to slimming down.

Here are 12 delicious, waistline-friendly choices. 

1. Avocados

Avocados help to lower BMIs and are an effective weight loss aid They’re also associated with improved overall diet quality as the fruit provides more than 20 different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

2. Mangos

Mangoes help to improve your overall diet as a cup of fresh mango has 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fiber and is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and folate.

3. Apples

In addition to containing just 95 calories per medium-sized apple, the fruit also helps keep you fuller longer while helping your body resist storing extra calories as body fat.

4. Fish

Fish and seafood may be the best for keeping you full on fewer calories because they have among the highest protein-to-calorie ratios.

5. Herbs and Spices

Naturally calorie-free, herbs and spices are one of the easiest ways to help you cut calories by simply allowing you to pump up the flavour of your food without adding extra fat, sugar, sodium or calories.

6. Tea

An article about tea (especially green tea) and weight loss, reported that bioactive compounds called polyphenols in tea have been shown to increase energy expenditure and fat burning.

7. Beans

Rich in antioxidants with approximately 15-20 grams of hunger-squashing protein and around 15 grams of filling fiber per cup, this slowly digestible carbohydrate can help promote weight loss.

8. Veggies

Vegetables are low in calories and filling. If you’re not a huge fan of raw or cooked veggies, try them in puréed form which is just as in promoting weight loss.

9. Quinoa

This whole-grain seed is loaded with protein and fiber, making it an essential ingredient when it comes to weight loss. In fact, quinoa has a higher Satiating Efficiency Index (measure of fullness) than wheat or rice. 

10. Flax and Chia Seeds

Two superfoods loaded with protein and fiber, the nutrients most linked to enhancing satiety, these seeds are a terrific option for someone trying to lose weight.

11. Cottage Cheese

Rich in leucine, an essential amino acid that’s necessary to build and maintain muscle mass and has been shown to have appetite-suppressing effects.

12. Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a useful diet aid that works by tempering your appetite, it’s almost calorie-free making it a great option to add flavour to your meals and snacks.

11 Pre-Workout Snacks

Whether you’re doing intense cardio, yoga or weight training, all forms of exercise require energy. Even if you find your workout is “fine” without fueling up in advance, having the right type of energy readily available to your body can enhance your workout.

But what should you eat or drink before your workout? And when should you do it?

Snacking is part of a pre-workout fueling strategy and eating a carb-rich snack close to exercise time is beneficial for performance, especially when there’s not enough time for a meal beforehand. It should feel light on the stomach and shouldn’t weigh you down.

Although some people do like to work out in a “fasting” state, a 150-200 calorie pre-workout snack can help increase the effort you feel like you can exert. Though snack timing can vary, it’s best to eat a pre-workout snack about 30 minutes before workout.

Read on to find the top performance-enhancing munchies recommended by nutrition and fitness pros and how to include them in your pre-workout routine

Banana Beetroot Smoothie

Try this recipe for a banana beet smoothie about 30 minutes before an intense 45- to 60-minute workout by blending together:

8 ounces of cold water
1 small steamed beetroot (or half-tablespoon of beetroot powder)
1 tablespoon of nut butter
Half a banana
Pinch of sea salt
Ice cubes

Beetroots contain nitrates, which help increase energizing oxygen to muscles; banana has carbs for energy; nut butter has protein for muscle repair; water is hydrating; and sea salt contains the electrolyte sodium, which is lost in sweat.

Yogurt

Yogurt’s a great food choice before working out, but rather than just eating it plain, try this honey matcha yogurt 30 minutes before a workout by stirring together:

6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon of matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon of honey

Yogurt and honey have carbs for energy. Yogurt also has protein for muscle repair and probiotics to keep the digest tract feeling good through a workout. And matcha contains caffeine to help energize a workout.

Banana

A good rule of thumb before a workout: When in doubt, grab a banana 20 to 30 minutes before exercise. They’re easy to digest and generally won’t trigger bloating or digestive upset. Keeping the gut happy is one of the primary objectives of a pre-workout food, so you won’t inhibit performance.

Also bananas have a relatively low glycemic index, which means they provide slow-burning fuel; they’re packed with potassium, which supports heart function and muscle contractions, prevents muscle cramps and helps maintain muscle mass; and they contain vitamin B-6, which supports mental clarity and helps regulate blood sugar levels for sustained, level energy.

Snack Bar

For a quick snack before a class, grab a bar 30 minutes to two hours beforehand, but make sure you pick one that has good, natural ingredients and isn’t loaded with sugar.

While eating too much fiber before exercising may cause discomfort for high-performance classes, it may be beneficial for those practicing lighter-intensity activity.

Dairy & Fruit

Sometimes food duos pack a greater punch than single foods. One of those dynamic duos is dairy and fruit. You could pair a piece of in-season fruit for a good dose of carbohydrates, with a single piece of string cheese that provides some protein to help bring oxygen to your muscles.

Or you could try Greek yogurt and a banana before working with weights or doing a yoga class.

Toast With Maple Syrup

Toast isn’t just for breakfast. Glamming it up a bit can be ideal for a pre-workout snack about an hour before endurance workouts like running, swimming or cycling. How about trying a piece of whole-wheat toast with cinnamon and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Compared to white bread, whole-wheat bread takes longer to digest and won’t spike your blood sugar because it has more fibre and protein, that means it will slowly release carbs into the bloodstream and the pure maple syrup provides quick-acting fuel from carbs that should last for at least 60 minutes into your workout.

Dates & Almonds With A Dusting Of Sea Salt

Got 30 to 60 minutes before your workout?

Dates provide a good dose of simple carbohydrates and potassium. Because potassium is an electrolyte lost when sweating, potassium-rich foods can play a role in proper hydration while potentially preventing post-workout cramping.

The almonds provide some protein and crunch, which will help keep you full throughout the workout, and the salt brings out the natural sweetness of the dates while helping to replace salt you may lose in sweat.

Latte

A jolt of caffeine can boost your workout performance! So, have a pre-workout latte with milk 60 minutes before your workout. It also helps with what’s called ‘rating of perceived exertion (RPE),which basically means caffeine can help you do more because you feel better working harder.

Since that caffeine is coupled with the milk in a latte, it’s especially beneficial as a pre-workout snack for either aerobic or power/resistance workouts. The milk contains carbohydrate and protein, including leucine, an amino acid that directly stimulates muscle protein synthesis.

Tart Cherry Juice

Move over, sports drinks! Drink a glass of tart cherry juice 90 minutes prior to exercise. It keeps you hydrated, maximizing exercise intensity and endurance and helps you get the most out of your workout.

It also contains potent phytonutrients that help to protect muscles against damage.

Iced Green Tea

Iced green tea is a beverage with benefits! Of course, it helps hydrate, but it also contains caffeine, which has been shown to help improve performance, increase strength and power, reduce feelings of fatigue and potentially stimulate fat burning.

Green tea will work for exercisers of all levels who want an exercise boost and to make their workout seem a little easier.

How Protein Can Help You With Weight Loss

What Exactly Is Protein?

Protein is a macronutrient made up of nonessential and essential amino acids, which are required to synthesize muscle in the body. Our bodies need protein as part of a balanced diet for health and weight management.

But protein can be more or less important at different stages of our development. Younger people need protein to grow and build muscle, and it helps maintain muscle mass for those who are reaching old age.

Why Protein Is Essential for Weight Loss

If you’re looking for a quick fix to a growing waistline, protein isn’t it. However, increased protein intake can aid weight loss in a variety of ways.

A diet specifically geared toward weight loss typically involves less calories and when there’s a caloric deficit, muscle loss occurs. That can result in protein being used for energy.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

A higher amount of protein (at least 72 grams per day for most people) can help to maintain muscle mass during periods of calorie restriction. For best results, sources of protein should be from high-quality ingredients like soy, lean meats and dairy.

Protein isn’t the best fuel when you’re at rest or during short-duration exercise. However, during longer workouts or endurance exercise, proteins may contribute 5 to 15 percent of your actual energy needs. The body prefers to use carbohydrates for energy first, but if those sources are low the body turns to protein for energy.

To optimally build muscle, an intake of 25 to 30 grams of protein is recommended following exercise. An easy way to meet this recommendation is by drinking a protein shake or eating a balanced meal.

Be careful when you’re on a weight-loss diet: Overconsuming calories in general, no matter the source, leads to any excess protein being converted to stored energy or fat.

Vary Your Protein Intake

Grilled chicken is a great, easily accessible form of protein, but if you eat it day in and day out, you’re bound to get sick of it. Other excellent sources of protein include meats like beef, pork and fish.

However, there are also plant-based sources like nuts, legumes and vegetables. And don’t forget all the dairy sources of protein, such as cheese, milk, cottage cheese and yogurt. Eggs are also a great high-quality, low-cost source.

Vegetarian options like soy, pea and hemp are also popular sources of protein. Lastly, protein supplements are also popular in the form of bars and shakes, but make sure you choose products that have quality ingredients.

4 Foolproof Ways To Outsmart Your Cravings

We know cravings can be influenced by physical factors like an energy deficit or hormone fluctuations, but they’re also influenced by factors like emotions, stress and how our brains process sensory cues, such as the sight and smell of food.

Here are four powerful tactics you can use to outwit cravings.

1. Build higher-protein meals.

Aim to get 30 percent or more of your calories from protein if you’re struggling with feeling hungry and are prone to junk-food cravings. To do that you’ll want to incorporate high protein foods, such as eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or a some protein powder into every meal.

2. Identify emotional triggers.

When you’re seized by a craving, it’s easy to tune out everything else, but try to sense what emotions you were feeling just before the craving hit.

What was it that triggered the urge to eat?

Stopping these cravings starts with recognising and breaking patterns you have between unpleasant feelings and food intake.

Each time you feel like eating in response to that emotional stimulus, instead try writing down your feelings, talk to a friend or allow yourself the space to just feel the emotion without giving in to the temptation. Overtime the urges will weaken until eventually the emotion no longer triggers the urge.

3. Confine sugar to an occasional treat.

Eating foods that are high in added sugars causes the brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine, a reward signal that not only gives us pleasure, but also makes us crave more.

If you don’t want to cut out sugar completely, you can use this information to strategically choose when you want to enjoy your sweet treats. If you want to have some chocolate or some other treat, the best time to do it is when you’re not overly emotional and after you’ve already eaten.

With some food already in your stomach, you will have an easier time stopping after one portion and won’t encourage compulsive cravings for more and more sugar.

4. Get an extra hour or two of sleep.

Research indicates that even healthy adults who have no sleep concerns are typically still sleep-deprived just enough to render their brains hyperresponsive to food cues.

So even if you feel like you’re getting by just fine on six hours of shut-eye each night, your sleep habits might be leaving you vulnerable to the allure of food.

To bolster your self-control over snack attacks, prioritise getting seven hours of sleep as a minimum, particularly during the holidays, when surprise sweets can cross your path a dozen times a day, so that extra pillow time can help you avoid packing on the pounds.

10 Spices & Herbs That Improve Your Health & Weight Loss

Spices and herbs can make the most bland and boring foods taste great.  It’s one of the best ways to enjoy foods that may be nutritious, but not so palette friendly.

Not only does it make your food taste better, but it can also help improve your overall health and enhance weight loss.

Here are 10 spices & herbs that make your food tastier while boosting your health and increasing your fat burn:

  1. Cayenne pepper adds spice to the dish, and boosts your metabolism to increase the amount of fat your body burns and improves blood flow.  This allows essential hormones and vital nutrients to be delivered throughout the body more efficiently, so your body can function better.
  2. Black pepper is similar to cayenne pepper, it helps boost your metabolism and improve digestion for effective weight loss.  It’s also shown to have anti-cancer properties, according to a study published in the January 2013 issue of the “Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry”.
  3. Ginger helps to improve digestion and suppress your appetite.  It also heats up your body which increases metabolism to help burn more calories.  Ginger also helps to remove toxins from your body, which is beneficial for weight loss since toxins are often stored within fat cells.
  4. Ginseng can boost your energy levels and speed up your metabolism.  This is a great spice to use if you’re trying increase your energy level and is why it’s often used in energy drinks.
  5. Chamomile tea is a nice way to relax at the end of the day, especially because it helps to reduce stress levels.  Drinking this tea has been shown to help minimize emotional eating at night to prevent weight gain and help you sleep better.  It has anti-inflammatory properties to help fight inflammation which is the root cause of many serious diseases and it’s high in antioxidants to help protect your body from age-accelerating free radicals.
  6. Cumin is a often combined with other spices to enhance the flavour of spicy foods, commonly used in Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s known to help boost your immune system, lower cholesterol and has a potent anti-oxidative effects to protect your body from harmful cell damaging molecules.  It’s also thought to help increase your energy levels, so you can be more active throughout the day, allowing you to burn more calories.
  7. Turmeric helps boost liver functions and balances your hormones, which in turn prevent cravings that can be brought on by hormonal imbalance.  Turmeric is also a potent antioxidant to help maintain your youthful qualities like healthy skin, better vision and strong joints.  It enhances your immune function, liver health and digestive system.  It also helps stabilize blood sugar levels which lowers insulin and helps minimizes fat storage.
  8. Cinnamon is a sweeter spice that can be added to many dishes, and it helps with weight loss because it boosts your metabolism.  Cinnamon has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, so your body can more effectively manage blood sugar levels and avoid weight gain.
  9. Mustard is another weight loss booster, because it’s packed with B-complex vitamins like folates, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin which increases your metabolism.  In fact, some researchers have suggested that a 25% increase in metabolic rate can be achieved from one teaspoon of mustard.  It’s also high in selenium and magnesium, providing your body with anti-inflammatory properties to fight off disease and it’s a great source of antioxidants that help fight cell damaging free radicals.
  10. Cardamom is a sweet spice often used in Indian dishes.  It promotes healthy digestion and increases your metabolism to help enhance weight loss.  It’s also been shown to lower blood pressure, treat mouth ulcers, and even help with depression.  It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties to help fight inflammation and help slow the aging process as well.

Next time you prepare a dish, make sure to include one or more of these herbs and spices.  They not only make your food tastier, but it’s been shown to help improve your overall health, help slow the aging process and boost your metabolism to help you lose weight more effectively.

 

The Magic Number of Meals a Day You Need to Lose Weight

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day? You need to eat six small meals throughout the day to stoke your metabolism ? You should fast in the morning and eat all your meals between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m?

Which option is correct?

The answer depends on you! Every body and every schedule is different.

So what can you do? Here’s how to make sense of when and how often to eat to see your best results.

The Basic Weight-Loss Formula

To lose weight you must be burning more calories than you’re taking in. Everything else is secondary to your calorie intake. You simply won’t lose weight if you’re eating a surplus of calories every day.

After calories, macronutrient breakdown  — the amount of protein, carbs and fat you eat throughout the day — is also important. As a general rule, carbs should be planned around strength workouts. Leave fats for meals further from exercise.

Choosing whole, nutrient-dense foods to make up the majority of your caloric intake is another important factor in losing weight. These will help you stay full for longer and provide your body with important vitamins and minerals.

Factor In Meal Frequency

Once you’ve prioritized total calorie intake, macronutrient breakdown and food quality, you can focus on meal frequency. While it’s not crucial to weight loss in the grand scheme of things, having a plan that keeps you satisfied all day long is one that you’re more likely to stick to.

If you:

  • Wake up ravenous
  • Have a low tolerance for hunger
  • Can’t go to bed without a late-night snack
  • Have a job that allows you to eat during the day
  • Prefer to graze or snack
  • Like knowing that your next meal isn’t too far away

Try eating four to six smaller meals throughout the day. Focus on getting protein at each meal and eating until you’re no longer hungry, but definitely not stuffed.

If you:

  • Prefer to eat a lot at a time
  • Are comfortable with both feeling full and going long periods without food
  • Don’t care too much about breakfast
  • Can’t eat during the workday

Try skipping breakfast and having one to two really big meals throughout the afternoon and evening. This is also known as intermittent fasting and may require eating slightly past full to ensure you’re reaching your body’s daily energy needs.

If you’re somewhere between the two above and:

  • Like to eat enough that you’re satisfied but not stuffed
  • Have a job that allows for a lunch break
  • Want to go several hours without thinking about food

Try sticking with the more traditional three balanced meals and maybe a snack or two during the day.

Time to Experiment

If you’re currently seeing your desired results with the number of meals you’re currently eating, there’s probably no need to make any major changes. However, if you’re not seeing results, consider trying a different eating pattern for two to four weeks to see if you feel any differently.

Use a journal or app to collect this information on a consistent basis, and then use it to make adjustments going forward.

9 Foods To Avoid That Are High In Sugar

If you are trying to be healthy, lean and fit, you need to reduce your sugar intake. Sugar is the biggest culprit when it comes to weight gain, because of the high calorie content and the impact that sweets have on insulin (fat storing hormone) and blood sugar levels.

Sugar is also known to increase your aging process and promote inflammation in your body which has been associated with countless numbers of serious health problems including health disease, cancer and metabolic disorders.

Here is a list of so-called “healthy foods” that are laden with sugar:

  1. Low Fat Foods – The low-fat diet craze hit in the 1990s, and as a result there have been an increasing number of low-fat products. The problem is that when the fat is removed from the food, it usually doesn’t taste that great, so food manufacturers adjusted by adding more sugar. If you are buying anything with “low fat” on the label, then it’s almost guaranteed to have higher sugar content. In terms of health, it is better to choose natural ingredients with the full fat content, instead of low fat products.
  2. Breakfast Foods –Most commercial breakfast foods are filled with sugar. Even cereals that are labeled as “healthy” are usually sugar in disguise.
  3. Ketchup and Tomato Sauce – The problem is that most tomato-based foods are filled with sugar. In one tablespoon of ketchup, you are getting a full teaspoon of sugar and most people eat between three and four tablespoons at a time, which means they are getting three to four teaspoons of sugar.
  4. Salad Dressing – Many types of salad dressing contain high fructose corn syrup or some sort of sweetener. Instead of buying store-bought dressing, try making your own with avocado oil, vinegar, and fresh herbs. If you choose to buy store-bought dressing, always read the label first. Vinaigrette based dressings are usually lower in sugar than most of the other options.
  5. Meat Flavoring – We love adding flavour to our meat through condiments such as barbeque sauce and marinades, but most of these sauces have a lot of sugar added, sometimes as hidden ingredients. In fact, it is common for marinades and barbeque sauce to have high fructose corn syrup as the main ingredient!
  6. Granola Bars – Even though they might seem healthy, granola bars are usually loaded with sugar. Even protein bars with granolas, that are marketed as healthy will have added sugar in order to improve flavour. Look for common ingredients such as evaporated cane juice, brown sugar, agave, and honey, which are all sugar in disguise.
  7. Yogurt – Often considered a health food, yogurt is a big culprit for deceptive ingredients. Some types of yogurt actually have more sugar in a single serving than the amount of sugar that is in a serving of ice cream. Instead of flavoured yogurt, choose plain yogurt and mix in your own fruit instead.
  8. Coffee Drinks – Drinking sugared coffee will spike your blood sugar first thing in the morning, and set you up for a sugar crash later in the day. Order your coffee black or lattes without any sugar.
  9. Fast Food Sandwiches – When you’re in a rush, and you have to get a bite to eat, it might seem like a good idea to grab a sandwich to-go with all of the toppings, but there are many ingredients that go into fast food sandwiches that contain sugar. Often, sugar is baked into the bread, added into the meat, and the sauces are loaded with sugar.
The more processed the food is, the more likely that it will have sugar added in.  If you must have processed foods, make it a habit to read the labels on everything that you eat, so that you know each ingredient in the package.

But the best way to solve this dilemma is to eat only real whole foods.

15 Diet-Friendly Healthy Carbs

Nutritious carbohydrates contain fiber, which your digestive system works to break down before they can be absorbed. As a result, they help keep your energy, blood sugar, moods and appetite levels in check between meals.

Keep reading for a list of 15 healthy carbs that you can include in your diet.

1 Whole Grain Rice

Lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes may be as simple as swapping out white rice for brown. In a 2010 study researchers analyzed the diets, lifestyle habits and overall health of nearly 200,000 adults. Participants who ate two or more servings of brown rice per week were less likely to have diabetes risk factors compared to white rice eaters. Unlike white rice, which is stripped of valuable nutrients during processing, brown rice is a whole grain. As a rule, whole grains provide more nutrients, satiation and wellness benefits than refined grains.

2 Popcorn

Eating better doesn’t require you to permanently give up crunchy snacks, particularly if you enjoy popcorn. In a 2011 study participants who ate far-free popcorn showed significant reductions in overall dietary fat and saturated fat intake and increases in fiber intake. Popcorn provides a nutritious, whole-grain alternative to low-nutrient processed foods like crisps and pretzels. So the next time you’re itching for something crunchy, go ahead and grab some air-popped popcorn with a dash of salt.

3 Squash

Squash probably isn’t the first food that comes to mind when you think about fiber, but eating more squash provides a simple way to increase your fiber intake all year long. Fiber has a wide range of health benefits, from helping you maintain a healthy digestive system to aiding in the prevention of heart disease. Try using squash in soups, stews, casseroles and side dishes.

4 Quinoa

Quinoa is high in protein and offers higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals like iron and B vitamins and it’s a naturally gluten-free grain alternative. A 2/3-cup serving of cooked quinoa provides about 5.5 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber. Plus, quinoa only requires about 20 minutes of cooking time and can be used in place of rice or couscous in most any dish.

5 Berries

Fruit not only offers nature’s finest carbohydrates, complete with a good source fiber, but also thousands of potent, health protective antioxidants and phytonutrients. Berries are particularly high in these nutrients and are considered brain food. According to a Harvard study, blueberries and strawberries help preserve brain function in women and delay memory decline by two and a half years. Enjoy berries solo or as a healthy add-in to your smoothies, whole-grain pancakes and even salads. When buying frozen berries, select varieties without added sweetener.

6 Sweet Potatoes

The compound that provides the starchy vegetable’s pigment also provides the antioxidant beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also provide rich amounts of vitamin C, which plays an important role in immune function, and valuable amounts of heart-healthy fiber. Half of a large sweet potato contains a mere 81 calories, which is way less than most sugary sweets.

7 Beans

The slow-digesting insoluble fiber abundant in beans can help lower cholesterol, keep blood sugars stable and help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. One cup of cooked white, navy or adzuki beans provides a whopping 19 grams of fiber. Lima, pinto and kidney beans each provide 16 grams of fiber per cooked cup. They’re also rich in protein and antioxidants and low in fat.

8 Dark, Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens are prime sources of beta-carotene and valuable sources of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin K and iron. One cup of cooked turnip greens, mustard greens or collard greens provides 5 grams of fiber. Cooked spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard each provide 4 grams of fiber per cup.

9 Oats

Oats have been linked with improved cholesterol levels, body weight and blood pressure. And as a fiber-rich food, oats have the added benefit of being quite filling. To make oatmeal even healthier, use low-fat milk or water instead of whole milk, and top it with fresh fruit.

10 Flaxseed

Flaxseed contains rich amounts of fiber and a gummy material called mucilage — which helps in the digestive process — and are the top plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s play an important role in heart health and brain function. To reap these benefits, add ground flaxseeds to smoothies, yogurt, cereals and baked goods.

11 Mangos

With about 135 calories per fruit, mangos are high in fiber (containing nearly 4 grams of fiber per average-size fruit) and antioxidants (including vitamin C and beta-carotene). Mangos are also a cancer-fighting fruit. In a 2010 study  researchers observed the effects of mango extracts on noncancerous cells and cells associated with colon, prostate and breast cancer. They found that the extracts helped the healthy cells stay cancer free and reduced the growth of cancer cells.

12 Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grain pasta contains all nutritious parts of the original grain, making it a valuable source of B vitamins, iron, protein and fiber. One cup of cooked whole wheat spaghetti provides 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. To make sure that you get truly whole wheat pasta, choose pastas labeled 100-percent whole grain, or choose pastas that list whole grains, such as whole wheat, spelt or brown rice, as the top ingredient.

13 Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce may not be what springs to mind when you think about healthy carbs, but it’s a highly nutritious source of fiber, vitamin C and lycopene. Lycopene, a potent antioxidant, is linked with a reduced risk for prostate and breast cancer. Red fruits and vegetables are also prime sources of flavonoids, which reduce inflammation.

14 Artichokes

One medium-size artichoke provides more than 10 grams of fiber, plus potassium, folate, magnesium and vitamin C. Because sweating and dehydration lower potassium levels, potassium-rich foods are particularly important in hot weather and following heavy exercise.

15 Bananas

Bananas are naturally devoid of fat and cholesterol and a valuable source of vitamins B6 and C, manganese, potassium and fiber. The electrolytes in bananas, including potassium, guard against dehydration. The 3 grams of fiber contained per serving promotes fullness, making it a useful between meal snack.

Can Intermittent Fasting Help With Weight Loss?

There’s been a lot of buzz around intermittent fasting (IF) recently — but what does it really entail?

IF can be simply defined as going without food for a longer period of time than sleep and consuming all of your calories within a specific window of time.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

One of the big selling points of IF is your body’s increase in responsiveness to insulin, which is released in response to food. It has the effect of causing the liver, muscle and fat cells to store glucose. In a fasting state, blood glucose levels drop, leading to a decrease in insulin production, which signals the body to start burning stored energy.

There are many potential benefits to intermittent fasting, including:
  • Weight loss
  • Improved mental state
  • Increased energy
  • Improved fat-burning
  • Increased growth hormone production
  • Lowered blood cholesterol
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Improved cellular repair

Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?

1st you should consider the impact on your lifestyle.

Will it conflict with your family food needs or your work schedule ?

Will you benefit from IF? Different people end up with different results.

Ultimately, the only sure way to find out if intermittent fasting is right for you is to try it for yourself.

Here’s a few IF variations:

1. Breakfast Skipper (aka 16/8 Method)

  • Fast for 16 hours, and then eat during an eight-hour window.
  • Most people choose the 8 hour eating window from 11 am through to 7 pm.

2. Fast Diet (aka the 5:2 Diet)

  • Eat for five days and significantly cut calories for for two days.
  • This is a more advanced method of fasting in which you eat as you normally would for five days, and then reduce your calories significantly (600 calories for men and 500 calories for women) for two days.

4. Alternating

  • Eat one day, fast the next.
  • With this diet, on the fasting days you should eat a fifth of your recommended daily caloric intake, and then consume a normal amount of calories on feasting days.

5. Warrior

  • Fast for 20 hours a day and eat one large meal at night
  • This is a more challenging, as you’ll need to ensure you fit all of your important nutrients into one meal a day.

The Impact of Metabolism and Genetics

As with any nutrition plan, success is largely based on if the diet is right for you. Two factors that play into this equation are your metabolism and genetics.

Play around with what works with your schedule and hunger levels and see which variation is the best fit for you?