How to Stay Lean for Life

When it comes to staying lean, it really comes down to your consistency.  You need to be consistent with your workout, your diet, what you eat and the healthy habits you keep.  Here’s five tips to maintain a lean, healthy body for life.    

When it comes to staying lean, it really comes down to your consistency.  You need to be consistent with your workout, your diet, what you eat and the healthy habits you keep.  Here’s five tips to maintain a lean, healthy body for life.

Five Keys to Staying Lean for Life:

Eat Food the Way Nature Intended

Fresh, natural whole foods provide us with an abundance of nutrients we need to stay healthy and fit.  Fresh food is just fine the way it is, there is nothing  needed from food that has been overly processed, and shouldn’t even be considered food!  Fresh fruit and vegetables deliver an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and phytonutrients that help us metabolize the food we eat, fight off disease, regulate our hormones and supply us with energy in the form of fibrous carbohydrates.

Plant foods help build a foundation, while high quality proteins deliver a source of aminos needed to build and maintain lean muscle and keep us strong.  Additionally healthy fats from natural sources such as olives, avocados, whole eggs, seeds and nuts help aid in hormonal balance, while also helping stimulate metabolism.

Bottom line, do your grocery shopping from around the perimeter of the grocery store, where the fresh natural foods are, and whenever possible buy organic to reduce exposure to other chemical toxins, pesticides and hormones that can disrupt hormonal balances, cause unnecessary inflammatory responses, lower immune response and disrupt your ability to build muscle and burn fat!

Don’t Overeat

Even if you’re eating plenty of good calories, staying lean and trim for life requires some form of control over your eating.  If you eat too many calories, and don’t workout enough you will end up gaining weight, or maintaining weight instead of burning off anything excess you’ve consumed.   However, remember that diets with too much calorie restriction can also work against you resulting in muscle losses, weight loss and muscle building plateaus and metabolic slow down.

Instead of extreme dieting, pick a diet that works with you and one that you can maintain for the long run.  If you have excess to lose, then of course you will need to eat less, but once you reach your goal, maintain your new body for life by sustaining a calorie and nutrition regime you can stick with – one that gives you enough energy to power through your workouts, get through your long days and maintains a body you love!

Most weight maintenance diets are equal to 12 to 15 times your body weight in pounds depending on the amount of activity you perform.  Experiment and determine what type of diet will give you enough energy to get through your day, and your workouts.

Eat Frequently, Avoid Fasting Diets

Eating frequently doesn’t increase metabolism, but what it does do is maintain a constant energy balance.  Eating too infrequently can lead to drops in blood sugar, and result in cravings and hunger, while also disrupting hormonal balance and raising cortisol levels.  It has been shown that fasting diets are particularly unhelpful when it comes to healthy diets for women.

Recent research showed that fasting could negatively impact female hormones, and cause excess cortisol secretion. When cortisol is high, fat burning hormones and metabolism are slowed down, while hunger cravings increase.  This is because cortisol raises demands for blood sugar in the flight or fight response, causing a drop in blood sugar, which ultimately results in an increase craving for sugar!  This results in the body maintaining an elevated cortisol level during fasting, leading to storage of fat instead of burning it off.

Even more interesting one study showed that even short periods of fasting over 1 or 2 days was enough to increase cortisol levels and disrupt hormone balance in women. For best results eating frequently, about 4 to 6 times per day depending on your need, and eat roughly the same volume of food at each serving.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating diets that are excessively low in carbs and excessively high in protein may result in fast weight loss, but once you’ve lost the weight that diet will get very hard to maintain for the long run.  Building and maintaining a lean and healthy body for life, doesn’t require extremes just consistency.

A diet that provides macronutrient ratios including 40% protein – about 1 g per pound of bodyweight, 30% carbs and 30% fat, will not only maintain lean muscle, but will also provide you enough energy to power workouts!  These ratios may change slightly depending on your goals, your activity level and your current weight.

Eat a variety of high quality protein sources including hormone-free, free-range meats, poultry, whole eggs, and organic low fat dairy.  Carbohydrates should consist of low glycemic fruits like berries and apples, squashes, root vegetables and whole grains, while fats should come from natural sources such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and coconut oil.

Listen to Your Body

We often get caught up in diet advice because we think it will be the ‘magic bullet’ that will solve our fat burning problems quickly, instead of spending the time to listen to our bodies, and observing what works and what doesn’t work.  While basic principles of nutrition may apply to the masses, it doesn’t mean it will work for you too.

Take time to understand how your body reacts to the food you give it, do you need more or less calories for optimal performance, do you work better on higher amounts of carbs and less protein?  Everyone’s metabolism is different; the rate at which you burn off food, how your body reacts to food and how you utilize that food is completely individual.

Pay attention; use a food tracker app to monitor how much you’re eating, when you’re eating, how food makes you feel and what types of food give you better results.  By observing your own eating habits, you’ll be able to better understand what works and what doesn’t work for you.  A coach can also help – go here!

Until Next Time…

Be Fierce & Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen

Here’s 7 Reasons Why You Should Take Probiotics

Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which is essential to digestive health and even immune health, but that’s not all.  Here is an overview of the 7 health benefits of probiotics and how to take them!

Probiotics are the ‘good’ live bacteria that can help keep your gut stay healthy.  These probiotics can be consumed via fermented foods, yoghurt or via supplementation.  Most probiotic supplements come from either Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.  Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which is essential to digestive health and even immune health, but that’s not all.  Here is an overview of the 7 health benefits of probiotics and how to take them!

7 Health Benefits of Probiotics

  1. Help Boost Your Immune Function

Probiotics encourage the growth of ‘good’ bacteria; this helps keep the ‘bad’ – harmful gut bacteria from over taking your gut. The ‘good’ bacteria help encourage the production of immune cells and natural anti-bodies that can bolster your immune function.  In fact, 70% of the immune system is located in the gut.

Studies have showed that probiotics can regulate the functions of systemic, mucosal immune cells and epithelial cells and this could be therapeutic for immune response related diseases.  This regulation is most likely gene-specific and dependent on the probiotic and targeted cells1.

In studies in athletes, that may have compromised immune status due to high training loads, probiotics supplementation during intense training helped reduce the incidence of infection, particularly from URTI (upper respiratory tract infection).  Additionally, positive changes in circulating immune markers were evident2.

  1. Help Change Body Composition and Increase Fat Loss

Probiotics may also assist in modulating body composition.  Supplementation, both with and without weight training, can decrease levels of body weight and fat mass in overweight individuals and athletes.  A review on the effects of probiotic supplementation on body weight, body mass index, fat mass and fat percentage.  The review showed that supplementation of probiotics resulted in a significantly larger reduction in body weight, BMI and fat percentage compared to placebo3.

The method by which probiotics exert this action could be due to different mechanisms, but also the type of bacteria.  Probiotics may work on different hormones and neurotransmitters related to appetite, or calorie burning, while other probiotics may work by increasing excretion of fat by the gut.

In one study, dieting women who took Lactobacillus rhamnosus for 3 months lost 50% more weight than women who didn’t take a probiotic4.  Another 12-week, study of 210 people showed that those taking low doses of Lactobacillus gasseri had an 8.5% decrease in abdominal fat5.

  1. Improve Athletic Performance

Research indicates that probiotic supplementation can promote improvements in exercise performance through various pathways.  Supplementation with multiple strains of probiotics has been reported to increase VO2 max, aerobic power, training load and time to exhaustion.  Although the exact mechanism is not known, it’s suggested that probiotics may enable better performance by reducing the risk of infections and supporting the immune response during and after exercise.

Another mechanism could be through tryptophan regulation.  Higher tryptophan levels may enhance tryptophan transport into the brain, supporting serotonin metabolism and thus improving mood and reducing sensation of fatigue.

As for weight training, probiotic supplementation when added to a protein supplement expedited recovery and decreased muscle soreness.  This was evident by lowering serum TNF-alpha concentrations; a factor linked to suppressed protein synthesis, disordered sleep and impaired muscle performance6.

  1. Helps Keep Your Heart Healthy

Probiotics may help keep your heart healthy by decreasing bad cholesterol or LDL and increasing good cholesterol or HDL.  It was shown that probiotics create acids as they process food in the gut that counter cholesterol production.

Probiotics break down liver bile acids, which are mostly made up of cholesterol.  The result, the liver has to make more bile acids, using up more cholesterol in the process and preventing re-absorption in the gut, where it can enter the bloodstream7. Probiotics have also been shown to break down cholesterol and use it as fuel.

A meta-analysis of 32 randomized controlled trials of 1971 patients showed that supplementation with probiotics including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium significantly reduced serum total cholesterol8.

  1. Help Improve Mood

Probiotics may also help improve mood via a few different mechanisms of the central nervous system.  Probiotics can alter the CNS biochemistry such as affecting Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), Gama Butyric Acid (GABA), 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), and Dopamine, which all influence mood and behaviour9

Probiotics help balance the gut micro-biome, which helps influence the production of specific metabolites that improves CNS function indirectly, and thus can promote improvement in mood, promote relaxation and decrease feelings associated with stress.

In one randomized double blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 70 individuals.  After 6-weeks of intervention, using either probiotic yoghurt or probiotic capsules, there was a significant improvement in mental health parameters10.

  1. Help Reduce Symptoms of IBS

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder that is directly affected by its gut micro-biome.  Probiotics are thought to improve IBS symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain by balancing out gut bacteria.

In an analysis of 7 studies, supplementation in IBS patients significantly improved symptoms compared to placebo.  Overall, the beneficial effects were more distinct in the trials using multi-strain supplements with an intervention of 8-weeks or more, suggesting that multi-strain probiotics used over a longer period of time have the potential to improve symptoms of IBS11.

  1. Help Reduce Allergies

Probiotics may help reduce the incidence and severity of allergic reactions, although the mechanisms are not completely understood.

Recent studies suggest that probiotic supplements demonstrate the capability to successfully modulate allergies. In humans, effects have been reported for alleviation of intestinal inflammation, normalization of gut mucosal dysfunction, and down-regulation of hypersensitivity reactions, thereby preferentially targeting allergic conditions with intestinal involvement12.

The performance of strains differs; each probiotic strain is a unique organism itself with specific properties. It’s most likely that many strains of probiotics would be required to elicit a positive effect on allergies.  Results seem to be determined by the diet of the individual, the age and the strain of the probiotics used.

How to Take Probiotics:

Consider upping your intake of foods that contain ‘live good bacteria’ such as cultures found in dairy products like yoghurt or Kefir in fermented foods like pickled vegetables, cabbage or sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and even soy products.

Another option – take a supplement in the form of a capsule or powder.  Just be sure you’re getting what you pay for.  Make sure the probiotics are heat stable and are cold stored.  Be sure to read the label.  You also want to be sure that the product you choose provide the dose you need – at least 1 Billion CFU (colony-forming units) per serving/day.

Until Next Time…

Be Fierce & Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen

 

References:
  1. Yan F, Polk DB. Probiotics and Immune Health.  Curr Opin Gastroenterol.    27(6): 496-501.
  2. ISSN Position Stand: Probiotics. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2019. 16: 62.
  3. Borgeraas H, et al. Effects of probiotics on body weight, body mass index, fat mass and fat percentage in subjects with overweight or obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  Etiol Patho.
  4. Sanchez M, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women.  Br J Nutr.    111(8): 1507-19.
  5. Kadooka Y, et al. Effect of lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in a randomized controlled trial.  Br J Nutr.  110(9): 1696-703.
  6. Lang CH, et al. TNF-alpha impairs heart and skeletal muscle protein synthesis by altering translation initiation. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2002. 282:E336–E347.
  7. Saini R, et al. Potential of probiotics in controlling cardiovascular diseases.  J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2010. 1(4): 213-4.
  8. Lang Wang MN, et al. The effects of probiotics on total cholesterol.    2018. 97(5): e9679.
  9. Wang H, et al. Effect of probiotics on central nervous system functions in animals and humans: a systematic review.  J Neurogastroenterol Motil.  22(4):589-605.
  10. Mohammadi AA, et al. The effects of probiotics on mental health and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in petrochemical workers.  Nutr Neurosci. 2016. 19(9): 387-95.
  11. Fjeldheim Dale H, et al. Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An up-to-date systematic review.  Nutrients. 11(9): 2048.
  12. Isolauri E, Salminen S. Probiotics: use in allergic disorders: a Nutrition, Allergy, Mucosal Immunology and Intestinal Microbiota (NAMI) Research Group Report.  J Clin Gastroenterol.  42(Suppl 2): S91-6.

5 Anti-Aging Beauty Secrets

It’s actually not as hard as you think to maintain a beautiful body, glowing skin and keep your mind as sharp as your stilettos! Here’s my top five natural anti-aging beauty secrets to decelerate the aging process!

When it comes to anti-aging – it’s all about prevention.  And starting that prevention from an early age.

So what is aging?  Ultimately it is the ‘time-related deterioration of the physiological functions necessary to thrive, survive and reproduce’. Aging occurs when our cells can no longer perform their basic functions.

As a result, everything in our body starts to slow down or breakdown – our skin starts to show wrinkles and sag, our memory starts to fail us, recovery from our workouts seem slow and our energy levels seem non-existent.

While aging is inevitable, there is some serious evidence to show that our lifestyle habits can have a direct impact on our longevity and the quality of our life, not to mention our looks too!

You need look no further then some of my favorite celebrity beauties like JLO and Shakira to see the results of living a healthy and active lifestyle.  These fierce females just don’t age!

Now I know what you’re thinking these beauties have access to the best health coaches, nutritionist, personal trainers, doctors, dermatologists, beauty experts and everything in between.  But it’s actually not as hard as you think to maintain a beautiful body, glowing skin and keep your mind as sharp as your stilettos!

Here’s my top five natural anti-aging beauty secrets to decelerate the aging process!

#1 – Cut the Sugar, Up the Plant Life! 

Your diet is probably the single most important thing you can change when it comes to age prevention. Now when I say the word diet, I don’t mean following some complicated, ultra restrictive diet, being consistent and following a healthy eating plan can have huge impact on your aging.

Here’s my top anti-aging diet tips that have worked to keep my curves tight and my body fit from the inside out for the last 20 or so years:

  • Cut the Sugar – sugar is inflammatory, inflammation can cause your skin to age faster by hardening the skin and causing wrinkles. Sugar can also impact your mood; cause cyclic eating patterns and lead to belly fat!
  • Up Your Protein Intake – reduce your carb intake to somewhere between 20 to 30% and up your protein intake to at least 40%. High protein diets help maintain your lean mass, which results in a faster metabolism and firmer body.
  • Eat Your Antioxidants – eat more plants! I’m talking about vegetables and fruit!  They’re full of natural vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants that help regulate our metabolism and fend off free-radical attack from stress, pollution and even the rays from the sun.
  • Try Fasting, Calorie Reduction – eating less food, less often has been shown to result in a longer and higher quality of life. Eat somewhere between your basic calorie needs to the calories you need to maintain your current weight.  Be intuitive to your eating and stop before you’re full, consider fasting a few times per week, or limiting your eating to only certain hours of the day.
  • Eat More Fibre – high fibre diets help keep the gut healthy, why is that important? The gut is a direct link to our immune health, not to mention it can also help control absorption of excessive toxins and hormones that can cause damage throughout the body.  Fill up on leafy greens, and hearty veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and kale.

Here’s Your Complete 1-Day Anti-Aging Diet Guide. 

#2 – Lift Weights, Use HIIT 

My life used to revolve around the gym.  I competed in fitness for ten years and although I did achieve some amazing outcomes I wouldn’t recommend this type of dedication to anyone, nor is it required to have a fit body. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years and what you can do to maintain tight curves, defy gravity and aging.

  • Try HIIT – Performing High Intensity Interval Training by switching between intervals of high intensity work with intervals of low intensity work, helps boost your mitochondrial power. It’s also been shown that this type of exercise increases blood flow, ensuring oxygen and nutrients are getting delivered throughout the body.
  • Lift Something Heavy – lifting weights not only keeps your body tight, it has a re-generative effect on the cells and helps kick-start mitochondrial activity. Weights also help keep bones strong, preventing on-set of osteoporosis and can reduce the appearance of cellulite.
  • Conditioning Work – endurance activity such as running, snow boarding or even punching and kicking can help keep your cardiovascular system aerobically fit for the long run.

Not sure how to build a proper workout to keep your body tight and curvy – go here!

#3 – Stock Up on Anti-Aging Beauty Supps!

Supplements help provide the body with more of something that it’s missing.  In the case of aging, supplements flood our system with needed nutrients to keep the skin glowing and the body firm.  Here’s my go-to anti-aging beauty supps!

  • Vitamin C – helps stimulate collagen production and increase skin firmness.
  • Matcha Powder – full of the antioxidant EGCG, which protects skin against UV damage.
  • CoQ10 – promotes energy production and protects against cell damage.
  • Resveratrol – active ingredient in grapes and red wine that activate longevity genes in the body.
  • Glutathionine – super antioxidant that helps detoxify the body and keep the complexion looking even.
  • NR (nicotinamide riboside) or NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) – increases NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine diculeotide) helps protect DNA and reduces inflammatory response.
  • Collagen Protein – helps bolster collagen production in the body and improves the elasticity of the skin.

Here’s a full rundown on my daily antioxidant supplement regime – go here!

#4 – Have a Kick-Ass Skincare Routine! 

Perhaps the one place we show our age the most is on our skin, especially on our face.  Protection from the elements is the best line of defense when it comes to keeping our face looking fresh!  In addition, to flooding our body with nutrients from the right foods and the right supplements, we can also do ourselves a favour and follow a consistent skincare routine.

  • Sunscreen Everyday – Wear a minimum of SPF 30 to help protect the face, but don’t forget to also apply to the neck and décolletage area too!  Pick one that’s lightweight and packed with extra antioxidants and DNA repair enzymes.
  • Scrubbing Bubbles–Regular exfoliation helps remove dead skin, make-up, dirt and keeps the skin looking fresh!
  • Oils, Oils, Oils – I use all kinds – argan, coconut, rosehip oil, vitamin E, some for daytime use and some before sleep! Good for wrinkles and hydration!
  • Retinol – aka Vitamin A helps reduce fine lines, decrease pigmentation, control breakouts and stimulate collagen & elastin – what kind of magic is this?
  • AHA – great for exfoliating and polishing away skin dullness, while improving skin texture!
  • HA – applying HA to the skin can pull moisture into the skin and keep it hydrated and plump!

Your diet can also make an impact on your skin – here’s eight foods for glowing skin!

#5 – Get Your Anti-Aging Beauty Sleep

Sleep is necessary to rejuvenate and recover the body; sleep is probably the best natural anti-aging process we have, so why not get the most out of it!  When we sleep our stress hormone cortisol goes down and our growth hormone levels go up.  Growth hormone is critical to cellular repair of our skin and muscle tissue.

  • Wash Yo Face & Moisturize – use a balm to remove make-up, a cleansing foam and moisturizing night cream!
  • Get Min 8 hours – anything less is sub-optimal! Research has shown less than adequate sleep is linked to lower levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone that can lead to overeating, and more rapid rates of brain aging.
  • Shut Off Earlier – LED light from our tv, laptop and digital devices can result in sleep loss and disruption of our natural circadian rhythms.
  • Journal – get all the shit out of your head that’s going to cause you to have conversations with yourself all night. Put your thoughts on the day to sleep, before you rest your head.
  • Sleep on Your Back – try not to sleep on your face, and don’t cheap out on your sheets or your pillow. Pick something soft to minimize skin irritation and compression. Find a beauty sleep pillow that contours your neck and cradles your face.
  • Use a Sleep Supp – have troubles relaxing, falling to sleep and staying that way. Try a natural supplement that includes ingredients such as GABA, valerian, magnesium, 5-HTP and melatonin.

Here’s a full breakdown on how to get a better sleep.

Now you know my anti-aging beauty secrets, what’s yours?  Share in the comments below.

Until Next Time,

Be Fierce & Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen

7 Supplements for Mood and Bloating

Combine these mood enhancing  and bloat reducing supplements with the suggested foods that help banish bloating and improve mood and you’re well on your way to combating the symptoms of PMS come next month!  Here are seven supplements to the rescue:   

Foods can help you deal with two of the most common symptoms associated with Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS – mood and bloating!  In addition to food that can help you deal with these symptoms, there are also many supplements available that can help do the same.  Combine these mood enhancing  and bloat reducing supplements with the suggested foods that help banish bloating and improve mood and you’re well on your way to combating the symptoms of PMS come next month. Here are seven supplements to the rescue for mood and bloating!

7 Supplements for Mood and Bloating!  

Supplements for mood:

5-HTP

This amino acid, which is isolated from Griffonia simplicifolia, is a direct precursor to the mood modulating neurotransmitter tryptophan.  Tryptophan has a direct effect on serotonin levels and can affect mood, as well as appetite and sleep. Supplementing with 5-HTP has been shown to increase the availability of serotonin in the brain, by replenishing levels via synthesis of additional serotonin molecules.

It has been shown in clinical studies to be effective for the treatment of depression, insomnia and eating disorders.  5-HTP is sold as 50 and 100 mg doses and can also be found in other mood enhancing products.

St John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort or Hypericum perforatum, grows wild, and has been used for centuries for health purposes including for the treatment of depression, sleep disorders and its unique anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects.  The chemical components responsible for its numerous abilities are the hyperforin, hypericin and flavonoid constituents.

St John’s Wort extracts have been shown to be effective over placebo for the treatment of mild to moderately severe depression.  One downside of St John’s Wort is its interaction with certain prescription medications including oral contraceptives and other anti-depressants. Seek professional advice before trying this herbal supplement.  Supplement doses range from 900 to 1500 mg per day.

B-Vitamins

B-Vitamins play many different roles in affecting mood and other brain functions that may be linked to emotional well being. The B-Vitamins cannot be stored in our bodies, so we depend entirely on our daily diet to supply them.  Being deficient in B-Vitamins can be the result of not eating certain foods, or following a deficient diet.

Diets that are lower or devoid of meat such as vegan or vegetarian diets can be low in B-vitamins.  As well, alcohol, refined sugar, nicotine and caffeine can destroy B-vitamins.   Be sure to get your daily needs of your B-vitamins met, use a B-Complex supplement and eat a diet high in naturally occurring B-vitamins including whole grains, beans, dark leafy greens, protein rich fish, eggs and lean cuts of red meat.

Chaste Tree Berry

Chaste tree or Vitex agnus-castus is one of the most popular herbs for treating the symptoms of PMS.  One study found that chaste tree berry significantly reduced PMS symptoms over three menstrual cycles, including improvements in irritability, depression, head aches and breast tenderness.

Chaste tree berry is believed to work on the neurotransmitter dopamine inhibiting its action and causing the release of prolactin.  A decrease in pro-lactin will influence levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen in women.  This action helps increase the opposite hormone – progesterone to calm mood and reduce the bloat!

The dopaminergic compounds and prolactin suppressive effects of Chaste tree berry are likely to be the clinically important compound for improving PMS.  Dosage can be as high as 400 mg  taken 2 to 3 times per day.

Supplements for Bloating:

Dandelion Root

This weed has been extensively used as a diuretic in traditional medicine, but also in modern therapy.  And if you have ever competed, or done a photo shoot you have probably used this popular herbal diuretic on its own or combined in a water shed supplement.

The dose for dandelion is rather high, and can range from 2 g per dose taken 3 to 4 times daily.  It has been shown in one clinical study to increase water loss over a single 24-hour period.  Look for a standardized content of Dandelion or Taraxacum officinale in at least a 4:1 extract containing the active constituents taraxasterol.

Horsetail

Also known as Equisetum, is found in temperate and tropical regions, and is native to southern and central America.  It has been traditionally used as a diuretic.  Two studies have tested the effects of Horsetail.  One study showed that all species of Horsetail is effective for increasing water loss.  The study compared Horsetail’s effects with a prescription strength diuretic.  It was found to act in a similar way to the prescription, and to be as effective!

The second study also reported positive effects of Horsetail.  This was a clinical trial in humans given approximately 750 mg for 2-days.  There was a significant decrease in water balance.  Although it was not compared to a placebo, it still shows great potential as an effective diuretic for reducing water retention and bloating.  Horsetail can be purchased as a single ingredient or within a water shedding supplement.

Calcium

Studies have suggested that calcium levels are lower in women with PMS and that calcium supplementation may reduce symptoms.  One study found that by simply taking 300 mg of calcium carbonate, up to four times daily significantly improved mood and bloating, as well as symptoms of depression, pain and food cravings.  This dose of calcium is actually your daily need for calcium, so if you are not already supplementing with calcium on a daily basis, perhaps now is the time to start.   Calcium can also be obtained from cruciferous veggies like broccoli!

Until Next Time,

Be Fierce & Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen

References:

Barnes J, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD.  St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L.): a review of its chemistry, pharmacology and clinical properities.  J Pharm Pharmacol. 2001. 53(5): 583-600.

Bertone-Johnson ER, Hankinson SE, Bendich A, Johnson SR, Willett WC, Manson JE. Calcium and vitamin D intake and risk of incident premenstrual syndrome. Arch Intern Med. 165.11 (2005): 1246-1252.

Birdsall TC.  5-Hydroxytryptophan: A clinically-effective serotonin precursor.  Altern Med Rev.  1998. 3(4): 271-80.

Clare BA, Conroy RS, Spelman K.  The diuretic effect in human subjects of an extract of Taraxacum officinale folum over a single day.  J Altern Complement Med. 2009. 15(8): 929-934.

Daniele C, Thompson Coon J, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Vitex agnus castus: a systematic review of adverse events. Drug Saf. 28.4 (2005): 319-332.

Schellenberg R. Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study. 322.7279 (2001): 134-137.

Shaw K, Turner J, Del Mar C.  Are Trytophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan effective treatments for depression? A meta-analysis.  Aust NZJ Psychiatry.  2002. 36(4): 488-91.

Wright CI, Van-Buren L, Kroner CI, Koning M. Herbal medicines as diuretics: a review of the scientific evidence. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007. 114(1): 1-31.

Five Cortisol Reducing Foods

Reducing cortisol can be accomplished by reducing stress via exercise and mediation techniques, but what you eat can also impact your cortisol. Here’s five foods to include in your diet to help control this hormone.

If you were not aware, stress brings about hormonal changes that can have an impact on cortisol levels.  Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that can have a direct impact on fat metabolism, as well as your ability to build muscle.  Reducing cortisol can be accomplished by reducing stress via exercise and mediation techniques, but what you eat can also impact your cortisol.

Five Cortisol Reducing Foods

Fatty Fish

A diet rich in omega-3 fats from fish has been shown to be effective in the reduction of cortisol.  After 3-weeks of supplementation with 7.2 g per day of fish oil, it was found that plasma levels of cortisol were significantly blunted.  Omega-3’s have also been shown to be effective at reducing the inflammatory response.  You can supplement with fish oil, but you can get the same benefits from eating plenty of fresh fish such as salmon, mackerel or haddock.  If you choose to supplement, be sure to use a brand of fish oil that has been IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) tested to ensure no dangerous levels of heavy metals.  If you’re a veggie, consider supplementing with whole eggs, chia seeds, flax seeds or even avocado!

Citrus Fruit & Leafy Greens

Citrus Fruit is a rich source of vitamin C.  Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to attenuate increasing levels in cortisol and inflammatory response post exercise when given to ultra-marathon runners at a dose of 1500 mg per day.  Consider getting some of your vitamin C from citrus fruit.  A single grapefruit delivers just 65 calories, 2.5 g of fiber and 80% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.  Top up with other sources of Vitamin C such as from green leafy vegetables – spinach, cruciferous vegetables – broccoli and or a vitamin C supplement.

Cashews

These morsels of fatty goodness tend to get forgotten as a healthy nut sources over almonds and peanuts, but cashews offer a few good benefits that can have cortisol lowering effects.  Cashews are high in zinc, and zinc has been shown to be effective for inhibiting cortisol secretion.  A study showed the acute effect of zinc on cortisol secretion in both men and women of 20 to 27 years of age.  An inhibitory effect of zinc on cortisol secretion was observed in the individuals administered a zinc supplement.

A 1 oz serving of cashews delivers about 11% of your recommended daily intake of zinc.  In addition to zinc, cashews are also a source of saturated fat, which is important for hormonal balance.  Having a healthy hormone balance ensures your testosterone: cortisol ratio is lower and controlled.  Add cashews to your stir frys, or try eating natural cashew nut butter instead of peanut butter.

Whey Protein

You probably already are using a whey protein powder supplement, or are getting whey from another source such as milk protein or Greek yogurt.  Whey protein contains many unique components that have benefits on immune and hormonal response.

In one study on resistance trained individuals it was shown that after 14-days of supplementation with 20 g of whey protein isolate each day, cortisol response was blunted following an acute bout of resistance exercise.  This could be due to the additional ingredients found in whey protein, including immunoglobulin, colostrum and a full complement of the essential amino acids needed for recovery and growth.  Whey protein is a versatile food supplement that can be eaten on its own or combined with any of your favourite smoothie or baking recipes.  Need some ideas?  Go here:

Chocolate

As if we didn’t need a reason to reach for chocolate, but it turns out chocolate contains natural antioxidants called flavonoids that can help reduce cortisol.  Researchers found that eating about 1.4 oz or 40 g of dark chocolate each day for 2-weeks reduced cortisol levels particularly in those who were experiencing high anxiety levels.  If you’re curious about how much chocolate that equals, 1 oz = 1 square of dark chocolate.

Another study supports the use of flavonoids from tea in modulating cortisol response in humans.  Try green tea, it’s not only loaded in flavonoids including catechins, which can help increase metabolism and give you a boost of caffeine kick too.  So depending on how strict you are with your diet, you may want to consider a fresh cup of brewed green tea over the dark chocolate!  If you do choose chocolate look for sugar-reduced dark chocolate, containing at least 80% dark cocoa.

Until Next Time…

Be Fierce & Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen

References:

Brandao-Neto J, et al.  Zinc acutely and temporarily inhibits adrenal cortisol secretion in humans.  A preliminary report.  Biol Trace Elem Res. 1990. 24(1): 83-9.

Delarue J, et al.  Fish oil prevents the adrenal activation elicted by mental stress in healthy men.  Diabetes Metab.  2003.  29(3): 289-95.

Kraemer WJ, et al.  The effects of soy and whey protein supplementation on acute hormonal response to resistance exercise in men.  J Am Coll Nutr.  2013. 32(1): 66-74.

Martin FP, et al.  Metabolic effects of dark chocolate consumption on energy, gut microbiota and stress-related metabolism in free-living subjects.  J Proteome Res. 2009.  8(12): 5568-79.

Peters EM, et al.  Vitamin C supplementation attenuates the increases in circulating cortisol, adrenaline and anti-inflammatory polypeptides following ultramarathon running.  Int J Sports Med.  2001.  22(7): 537-43.

Wirtz PH, et al.  Dark chocolate intake buffers stress reactivity in humans.  J AM Coll Cardiol.  2014.  63(21): 2297-99.

 

Does the Stress Hormone Cortisol Make You Fat?

A rise in this hormone can trigger numerous pathways that can affect everything from our emotional well being to our ability to build muscle and yes – burn fat! If that weren’t enough, the environment we live in and the food we eat, can further contribute to our body’s inflammatory response, causing greater inflammation and greater cortisol response.  So what are we to do? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about stress, cortisol and how it makes us fat!

These days we are all suffering from some kind of stress – work, family and financial obligations can certainly impact our stress level.  When stress is high, cortisol – the stress hormone rises.  A rise in this hormone can trigger numerous pathways that can affect everything from our emotional well being to our ability to build muscle and yes – burn fat! If that weren’t enough, the environment we live in and the food we eat, can further contribute to our body’s inflammatory response, causing greater inflammation and greater cortisol response.  So what are we to do? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about stress, cortisol and how it makes us fat!

What is The Stress Response?

When stress levels are high, the body releases adrenaline – to initiate your fight or flight response along with cortisol, which triggers an immediate increase in energy demands.  Cortisol responds by providing the body with a surge of glucose supplying an immediate energy source to the muscles, but not by conventional sources, cortisol breaks down hard earned muscle in the process of gluconeogenesis in the liver.

Cortisol also inhibits insulin production, which decreases storage of sugar or glucose, allowing it to be used right away. If you are constantly suffering with stress, your cortisol levels could be maxed out – running continually.  This can cause long-term high levels of blood sugar levels, and eventually lead to reduced insulin sensitivity or resistance.

How Does Stress Make Us Fat?

Consistent high levels of cortisol can lead to fat gain, and not just any kind of fat gain either, cortisol has a tendency to re-direct triglycerides – or stored fat to visceral fat in the areas such as on the belly.  Why would it do this?  Cortisol aids in adipocytes or fat cell development, as well as fat metabolism in a biochemical enzymatic reaction that requires cortisol.  Visceral fat cells also generate cortisol in a reaction that converts cortisone to cortisol, further increasing cortisol levels.

Stress and Cravings

In addition to its effect on fat metabolism, cortisol can also impact many of those hormones that effect hunger and cravings.  Insulin, the shuttling hormone drives glucose in the blood to areas in the body where it is needed, such as muscles to be used by the body quickly, or to fat storage for use later. When insulin is unavailable to deliver sugar to energy craving cells, the body responds by sending a signal to the brain that it needs to eat!  This can result in a surge of ghrelin – the hunger hormone, which in turn increases calorie consumption to overcompensate for the lack of energy available.

How Can You Prevent Stress Fat?

Preventing stress fat and reducing cortisol levels starts by reducing stress and detoxing your life.  If you are highly stressed by work, life, financial or family obligations, now is the time to take control over your situation and do something about it.

Hitting the weights for a workout is an obvious choice for reducing stress, but so is taking up a more relaxing form of exercise such as yoga, which has been shown in research to reduce cortisol levels after just one month of practice.  In addition to exercise, getting plenty of rest will also help to further reduce cortisol levels.  Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night.

Need More Guidance on How to Reduce Stress?  Go Here: 

Stress Fighting Diet?

Chronic stress can lead to high levels of inflammation, which in turn can effect digestion and absorption of food. Additionally, certain foods can cause greater inflammation, which can further increase the stress response.  Using a diet that is low in inflammatory foods is one way to help combat cortisol, reduce inflammation and help regulate the metabolism.

Eating a cortisol reducing diet that is higher in fats including omega-3, versus omega-6, can help reduce inflammatory response.  As can, eating a diet that is high in fibrous low glycemic foods that are low in carbs.  Eat a diet that provides plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that deliver antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre that your body needs to fight inflammation!  Additionally, choose lean cuts of protein that are low in saturated fats, fibrous whole grains and don’t forget the good for you omega-3 fats to help fight inflammation, such as those found in fish oils, flax or chia.  Here’s a one day example of what to eat!

Breakfast

  • Eggs with Avocado & Whole Grain Gluten-Free Toast
  • Green Tea with Lemon

Snack

  • Cashews or Cashew Nut Butter with Apple

Lunch

  • Salmon Bowl with Broccoli & Kale Slaw
  • Quinoa & Sesame Seeds
  • Green Tea with Lemon

Snack

Dinner

  • Chicken with Roast Sweet Potato, Cauliflower
  • Mixed Greens Salad with Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

Until Next Time,

Be Fierce & Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen

References:

Adams CE, et al. Lifestyle Factors and Ghrelin: Critical Review and Implications for Weight Loss Maintenance.  Obesity Rev.  2011. 12(5).

Bosma-den Boer MM, van Wetten ML, Pruimboom L.  Chronic inflammatory diseases are stimulated by current lifestyle: how diet, stress levels and medication prevent our body from recovering.  Nutr Metab. 2012.  9: 32.

Stimson RH, et al.  Cortisol release from adipose tissue by 11B-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase type-1 in humans.  Diabetes.  2009. 58(1): 46-53.

Thirthalli J, et al.  Cortisol and antidepressant effects of yoga.  Indian Journal of Psychiatry.  2013. 55(Suppl 3): S405-S408.

6 Foods to Ease PMS Symptoms

In this post, I’m talking you through why PMS makes us crave certain foods and eat more, as well as what foods can help you ease those symptoms.  Here are five foods to help you ease PMS symptoms, stay in control of your diet, boost mood and banish bloating!

You know when it’s that time of the month – you got PMS. You’re bloated, miserable AF, you get breakouts like when you were 16 and just about everything makes you want to cry, run, hide and have an emotional meltdown. But that’s not all – our monthly friend can also de-rail our healthy eating habits. Your once strong willpower to resist anything that has chocolate or tastes sweet and delicious gets completely thrown out the window along with your diet.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way!  In this post, I’m talking you through why PMS makes us crave certain foods and eat more, as well as what foods can help you ease those symptoms.  Here are five foods to help you ease PMS symptoms, stay in control of your diet, boost mood and banish bloating!

What is PMS?

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is the result of fluctuating levels of that pesky little female hormone estrogen, which can cause serious shifts in mood and uncontrollable cravings! When estrogen levels fall, so do levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. And, when serotonin is low, not only does mood decrease, but cravings for carbohydrates, or basically anything that is sweet, goes up! But, that’s not all that happens.

The second hormone that regulates the ovulation cycle – progesterone, which also drops right before your cycle, can cause levels of the stress hormone cortisol to skyrocket! Cortisol can cause anxiety, sleeplessness, increase blood sugar levels and increase muscle breakdown! Yikes!

Downward Hormonal Cascade to Nowhere

Even worse, the increase level of blood sugar subsequently can increase the release of insulin, causing more sugar to be stored as fat! And, if that weren’t enough, progesterone also plays a role in water regulation within cells. When progesterone drops, the balance of sodium and potassium is disrupted causing an influx of sodium and water into cells. The result? The bloating and swelling that is commonly associated with PMS.

Despite all these factors, there is a way to ‘outsmart’ PMS, or at least minimize its negative impact. Exercise can have a huge impact on alleviating your symptoms by improving your mood and keeping water weight down, but the foods you choose to eat around your cycle can have a huge impact too!

6 Foods to Ease PMS Symptoms

Hormonal Food #1 – Turkey

Tryptophan is an essential amino that is needed for the production of many neurotransmitters involved in mood, including serotonin and the important sleep hormone melatonin.

As more tryptophan enters the brain, more serotonin is synthesized in the brain and our mood goes from moody and miserable to happy and lovable. Certain carbohydrates, including oatmeal and brown rice, can also boost tryptophan.

But, if you are on a strict low carbohydrate diet, getting enough tryptophan from these sources can be challenging. Turkey is a good source of tryptophan, but so is chicken or any poultry for that matter. So, up your intake of these particular protein sources for better mood control.

Hormonal Food #2 – Fatty Fish

If you want to get better control of hormones, your mood and help preserve your lean muscle tissue, fatty fish which is high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats is a good way to do so! Omega-3s have also been found to have a positive effect on relieving PMS symptoms.

It was shown that women who took a 2g dose of Omega-3 had a greater reduction in symptoms than women who took a lower dose. What’s more, it was found that the symptoms were cumulative over the course of 6-months. Fish like wild salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines are good sources of Omega-3, but so are Omega-3 eggs, flax seed, chia seed and walnuts.

Hormonal Food #3 – Asparagus

This green vegetable offers up a host of healthy benefits when it comes to combating PMS – especially when it comes to water retention and bloating. Asparagus contains asparagine, a natural diuretic that can help reduce excess water retention.

It also contains inulin, a fiber that helps promote the growth of friendly gut bacteria. This keeps the digestive system healthy and belly bloat to a minimum. Asparagus is also high in B-vitamins, which can assist in helping regulate energy levels, mood and metabolism. Have asparagus as a side with salmon or turkey for a PMS fighting meal.

Hormonal Food #4 – Beans and Legumes

A diet rich in the B-vitamins thiamine and riboflavin can significantly reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome when obtained from food sources such as beans and legumes.

One study showed that symptoms were reduced by as much as 35 percent, when consumed regularly for 2 to 4 years. Beans and legumes are not only packed with B-vitamins, they also offer up fiber and are a slow digesting carbohydrate that can help control cravings and keep hunger subsided!

Hormonal Food #5 – Greek Yogurt

Calcium is one mineral that many women do not get enough of, especially if dairy has been eliminated from the diet. But many studies have shown supplementing the diet with calcium, whether from dairy, fortified foods like juices or just tablet form, reduces PMS. Calcium regulates hormones involved in the menstrual cycle.

Falling calcium levels give rise to hormones that contribute to symptoms of PMS, including irritable mood and bloating! Despite the positive research, you are probably not going to start eating a lot of milk products or drinking fortified juices anytime soon, but you may want to try a serving of non-fat Greek Yogurt once a day. This dairy product is low in lactose, offers 18 grams to 20 grams of protein and about 220 milligrams of calcium per 6 oz serving.

Hormonal Food #6 – Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains polyphenols that can help boost mood including a cannabinoid neurotransmitter called anandamide – no not the cannabinoid that can get you high, but it certainly can help improve your moodiness.

Additionally, dark chocolate can help stimulate endorphin release that cannot only affect mood but also pain perception, improving menstrual cramps and back pain! Dark chocolate also delivers minerals – magnesium and potassium that can help alleviate cramping too. Just make sure you choose chocolate that is about 70% dark cocoa. And don’t eat too much – just one ounce will do.

Until Next Time,

Be Fierce & Rule the World!

Lauren Jacobsen

References:

Thys-Jacobs S. Micronutrients and the Premenstrual Syndrome: The Case for Calcium
J Am Coll Nutr. 2000. 19(2): 220-227.

Chocano-Bedoya PO, Manson JE. Dietary B vitamin intake and incident premenstrual syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011. 93(5): 1080-86.

Filho E, et. Al. Essential fatty acids for premenstrual syndrome and their effect on prolactin and total cholesterol levels: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study. Repro Health. 2011. 8: 2.

5 Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping

Walking into the grocery store without a plan of action can result in wrong food choices and an all out diet disaster. You need to become familiar with your grocery store and know which aisles to avoid and which should be your go to!  If you too are challenged by grocery shopping try these five tips for healthy grocery shopping.

Healthy grocery shopping can be a challenge if you’re not prepared.  Here’s your how to healthy grocery shop guide!

Action is where results come from and healthy grocery shopping for only what you need can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to achieving your best physique possible. Consider the grocery store enemy territory that you need to navigate precisely to avoid setting off any diet melt-downs!

Whether you are new to dieting, or have been following a healthy, fit lifestyle for a long time, one of the most challenging tasks you may have on your journey to weight loss or health success is going grocery shopping. Sticking to a healthy diet is challenging enough, and piloting the grocery store can be overwhelming when you’re hangry!

Walking into the grocery store without a plan of action can result in wrong food choices and an all out diet disaster. You need to become familiar with your grocery store and know which aisles to avoid and which should be your go to!  If you too are challenged by grocery shopping try these five tips for healthy grocery shopping.

5 Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping!

Tip #1 – Do Not Shop Hungry aka Hangry

Avoid going anywhere near a grocery store when you are hungry, which means do not grocery shop after your workout! Why?

For starters, your hunger will no doubt be insatiable and as you continue to fade without food so will your patience!

Case in point one of my clients thought she would do some last minute shopping at Costco. I’m not exactly sure why she thought going to Costco was of utmost importance to buy a few cartons of egg whites and save a few pennies, but let me tell you, the poor lady who accidentally clipped her flip flop heard all about it!

Just remember if you are feeling ultra depleted, low carb, and cranky, you may want to save the discount bulk shopping for when you are feeling a bit more up to it – you know what I’m saying – client who will remain nameless you know what I’m talking about.

If you do decide to venture into the grocery store jungle post workout, bring a post-workout meal with you. If you are serious about your results— weight loss and gaining a lean and firm body— then there really is no excuse for not being prepared.

It doesn’t have to be a full meal, but proper nutrition within the first hour post-workout will make sure you kick start the recovery process in that critical time period when your muscles need it most!

For ease and convenience, bring a protein shake. It will blunt hunger until you get home and are ready to eat your next meal, not to mention the people around you will thank you for it!

Tip #2  –  Always Bring a List

Make sure you are prepared when you go to the grocery store by bringing a list of food items on your diet, and don’t for a second think you should deviate. Just because you had that amazing workout and did those 15 extra minutes of cardio!  Use your smartphone; there are many apps available that can help you develop your list, use notes!

Consider a wide range of choices, just in case you cannot find a particular item and will require a substitute. For example, simply make a list of carbohydrate, protein and fat choices that will fit into your diet plan that have similar macronutrient breakdowns.  Here’s a list to get you started with:

Carbs: 

  • Quinoa, Brown Rice, Farrow, Bulgur⁠⁠
  • Beans, Legumes, Peas⁠ ⁠
  • Cruciferous Vegetables⁠ 🥦⁠
  • Leafy Greens⁠ 🥬⁠
  • Squashes⁠⁠
  • Root Vegetables⁠ 🍠⁠
  • Berries
  • Apples🍏
  • Avocados 🥑
  • Citrus🍊⁠

Proteins:

  • Salmon 🍣 Tuna, Sole, Cod, Tilapia⁠⁠
  • Grass Fed & Free Range Lean Meats & Poultry⁠⁠
  • Free Range Whole Eggs 🥚& Egg Whites⁠⁠
  • Hormone Free Plain, No Sugar Added Dairy
  • Plain, No Sugar Added Plant Based Milks & Yoghurt⁠⁠
  • Organic Halloumi, Paneer, Feta⁠⁠
  • Hormone Free Whey Protein⁠⁠
  • Organic Plant Protein ⁠

Fats: 

  • Natural Nuts, Nut Butters⁠🥜 ⁠
  • Chia, Sesame, Pumpkin Seeds⁠⁠
  • Tahini⁠⁠
  • Seed Oils, Olives, Olive Oil & Coconut 🥥 Oil⁠⁠

Beverages:

  • Green & Herbal Teas⁠ 🍵 ⁠
  • Good Coffee⁠ ☕️
  • Mineral Water

Bring a list with you, simply choose the foods you want to use as part of your meal plan and you are good to go!

Tip #3 – Shop Around the Perimeter   

Remember, most items for a healthy diet can be found around the perimeter of the store, with the exception of a few items. Do not venture into the centre aisles unless absolutely necessary. For the most part, the center aisles are home to processed, sugary and fattening foods! Unless you think you can handle the pressure of walking down those aisles; just avoid the temptation all together.  And don’t go by the bakery section on your way to the meat department either. I know the smell of cinnamon on baked goods makes me a little whacko too.

Tip #4 – Load Up on Vegetables

Most of your cart should be filled with whole and natural foods, including an assortment of vegetables. Keep it interesting by trying new vegetables once in a while. Vegetables are generally low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, which are essential when following a healthy diet plan.

While living in Asia, I challenged myself to eat one unique green vegetable every week! It kept it interesting and fun. I also had the luxury of living in Dubai, that offered vegetables and fruits from all over the world.  Although you might not be in an exotic location, you can do the same, venture out of your local grocery store to a local market that offers a variety of cultural foods.

Tip #5 – Choose Your Grocery Store Wisely

Nowadays, there are lots of grocery stores out there that offer a better selection of whole and organic foods that perfectly fit into any healthy diet plan. Choose a grocery store that offers a wide range of fresh foods, few processed foods and a selection of all-natural food options. You can also find grocery stores with fantastic salad bars and even foods that are already prepared, such as plain grilled chicken!  My personal fave – Whole Foods!

Use these tips on your next trip to the grocery store.

And if you are still wondering why you are not seeing a difference in your body, perhaps it is time to get some help!  Work with me and I will personally design you a healthy meal plan to get you in shape and guide you through the process using a step-by-step phased approach I call ‘strategic nutrition’.

All based on my successful experiences as a Fitness Model and Fitness Competitor.  Reach out here for your FREE nutrition consultation.

Until Next Time,

Be Fierce and Rule the World!

Lauren Jacobsen

Hydration: 6 Important Tips to Drink More Water

Hydration is as essential to your fitness results as your diet!  Your hydration can influence your workout outcomes and even your fat burning!  Despite waters importance, many of us find it challenging to get enough of it each day.

Hydration is as essential to your fitness results as your diet!  Your hydration can influence your workout outcomes and even your fat burning!  Despite waters importance, many of us find it challenging to get enough of it each day.

Lack of water leads to dehydration, which hinders workout performance, decreases lifts, causes cramping and decreases workout intensity. In fact, just a 2% loss of body fluids from sweat results in a performance decrease of up to 20%.  Even mild dehydration can zap energy levels—making you feel sluggish and tired. Need more reasons to start drinking more water? Keep reading to find out why water is important, along with easy ways to get more of it!

The Importance of Hydration!

  1. Transports Nutrients

Water is the key component of blood, which transports oxygen, nutrients and hormones throughout the body. This transport is critical when it comes to delivering important nutrients to stimulate muscle building, recovery and oxygen to cells to fuel aerobic and anaerobic performance.

  1. Metabolizes Food 

Without water, we could not dissolve, circulate or transfer metabolized food throughout the body. Water helps with digestion of carbohydrates and excretion of excess nitrogen from protein.

  1. Nutrient Delivery

Water can help drive nutrients into the muscle cells where they can be used to perform a function or stimulate a biochemical pathway. One good example of a supplement that requires transport of water is creatine! Without it, creatine cannot move into the muscle cells where it can help to generate ATP or muscle energy.

  1. Joint Lubrication

Water is needed to support the cartilage tissue around the ends of bones. When cartilage is well-hydrated, the two opposing surfaces glide freely minimizing friction between them.

  1. Regulates Fat Metabolism 

Water helps assist in the transport of released fatty acids from fat stores to be burned off as energy. Water also assists in regulating your metabolism and body temperature.

  1. Controls Appetite

Drinking plenty of water will not only keep you hydrated, it will always keep you feeling full. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. In fact, research has shown that individuals, who drank at least two glasses of water before a meal, ate 75 to 90 fewer calories at the meal than those who didn’t.

Training Hydration Tips

Now that you understand the importance of water, be sure you get enough of it! If you are not sure how much you need, here are a few tips:

  • Ensure you are hydrated prior to exercise; consume water throughout the day, and several hours prior to exercise.
  • Drink 15 – 20 oz of water 2 – 3 hours before exercise and drink 8 – 10 oz, 10 – 15 min before exercise.
  • Continue to hydrate during workouts by drinking 8 – 10 oz every 10 -15 min during exercise.
  • If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 8 – 10 oz of a sport drinks containing minerals and no more than 8% carbohydrate every 15 – 30 minutes. This will help replace the sodium lost through sweat and ensure electrolyte balance, which is needed for muscle contraction.
  • Post workout, the goal is to fully replace any lost fluids, which can be done not just through water but also through consumption of other foods and beverages that have high water content. Food provides about 20 percent of total water intake, particularly from fruits and vegetables, which can be up to 90 percent or more water by weight.

How to Up Your Water Intake – Infused Water!

Flavoured water is all the rage, but unfortunately many flavoured waters or flavoured water shots are loaded with food colouring, preservatives, sugar and artificial sweeteners, which can increase thirst instead of quench it! Instead, why not try making your own water infusion— all you need is some fresh fruit, herbs and herbal tea. Infusions provide little to no extra calories, and a whole lot of good nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!  Plus flavour can make you drink more water.

Here are five water-infusion recipes to keep you hydrated!

What You’ll Need:

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 to 2 quarts of water
  • 2-quart pitcher or water infusion pitcher

Raspberry and Lime Mojito

  • ½ pint of raspberries
  • 10 thin slices of lime
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint
  • 1 tsp stevia (optional)

In a pitcher, muddle half the raspberries and mint until they make a mush. Add a few whole raspberries and sliced key limes. Fill with water. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Stir occasionally. Serve over ice.

Citrus Cucumber

  • 1 thinly sliced cucumber
  • 6 thin slices of lemon
  • ½ thinly sliced lime

In a pitcher, combine cucumber, lemon and lime slices. Fill with cold water. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours and serve over ice.

Orange Berry Tea

  • 8 orange zinger tea bags
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • ½ pint of blackberries
  • 6 thin slices of lemon
  • 6 thin slices of orange or tangerine
  • 1 tsp of stevia (optional)

Pour 4 cups of boiling water over 8 tea bags in a heat-resistant container. Steep tea for 4 to 6 minutes, then remove tea bags and let cool. In a pitcher, muddle ½ of the blackberries, lemon and oranges. Add cooled tea, and an additional 4 cups of water. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours, then serve over ice.

Cherry Lemonade

  • 6 thin slices of lemon
  • 10 thin slices of key lime
  • 6 pitted black cherries
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint
  • 500 ml of sparkling water

Muddle lemon, lime and mint in the bottom of a pitcher. Add cherries, sparkling water, and fill remaining with cold water. Cover and chill in the fridge for a few hours. Serve over ice.

Coconut Mango Lime

  • 300 ml of coconut water
  • 10 thin slices of key lime
  • 5 to 6 chunks of mango
  • 1 sprig of mint

Muddle lime and mint at the bottom of a pitcher, add coconut water, mango and top with water. Cover and chill in the fridge for a few hours. Serve over ice.

Until Next Time,

Be Fierce & Rule The World,

Lauren Jacobsen

17 Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Fat

Drinking away your calories at the beach bar on the weekends or think ab crunches till you drop will make that fat melt away?  Guess again!  Here are 17 reasons why you still can lose fat and what you can do about it.

Feel like you’re doing everything right when it comes to your fat loss efforts, but with little result?  There are many reasons you could be failing when it comes to fat loss.  Are you a stress eater?  Drink away your calories at the beach bar on the weekend or think ab crunches till you drop will make that fat melt away?  Guess again!  Here are 17 reasons why you still can lose fat and what you can do about it.

17 Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Fat

Reason #1: You Drink Too Many Calories. 

Water should be the only thirst quencher you reach for.  Juice, even the fresh stuff is full of natural sugars and extra calories. Coffee or tea drinker?  Those added calories from milk, cream or sugar can add up fast.  Especially if you’re drinking a few cups daily.

Fat Loss Tip:  Stick to water or infused waters made with fresh ingredients and herbal teas.  As for coffee and tea, go black, if that’s too drastic; choose low calorie natural sweeteners like stevia, along with low calorie almond or coconut mylk blends. Additionally, be sure to get in at least 3 L of water daily, water not only helps the digestive tract keep moving, it also helps reduce hunger by contributing to a feeling of fullness.

Reason #2: You Think Ab Crunches Burn Fat.

Although performing crunches is not a bad thing, it will help tighten the muscles of the core, but it won’t do much for getting rid of that deep layer of fat that sits on top.  Holding fat around your mid-section can be the result of hormonal imbalances.  Estrogen present in fat tissue plays a direct role in regulation of fat metabolism including controlling the enzymes that breakdown fat.  Over abundance of estrogen – also known as estrogen dominance can block fat cell receptors from being activated by the fat oxidizing enzymes, slowing fat burning to a halt.

Fat Loss Tip:  Eating plenty of fiber in the diet from vegetables – specifically green cruciferous such as broccoli and kale, provide a phyto compound known as indole, which acts as an anti-estrogen in the body.  It helps bind, package and remove estrogen, resulting in lower circulating estrogen levels.  Eat veggies with everything!  Add greens to your morning omelette, have a salad for lunch and replace your starchy carbs with roasted veggies at dinner.  It has been shown that eating plenty of vegetables can help lower the body’s estrogen load.

Reason #3: You Don’t Calorie Count. 

It might seem annoying as fuck to count your calories, weigh everything and keep track of every crumb you’re throwing in your mouth, but how else will you know exactly how many calories you’re stuffing your face with unless you keep an inventory?

Fat Loss Tip:  Use a wearable fitness device and use a fitness app to help keep on top of your calorie consumption along with the calories you’re burning off.  Remember you need to create a significant deficit of at least 500 calories everyday through eating less and burning more to lose even an inch.

Reason #4: You Starve Yourself.

If you think eating one meal per day will result in significant weight loss, think again.  The less you eat, the more your body will think you’re in starvation mode and instead of burning off that extra fat you’ll actually keep it!  That doesn’t mean you can’t use fasting but you need to know how to break your fast too.

Fat Loss Tip:  Understand how many calories your body actually needs.  Use a BMR calculator to determine the exact amount of calories you need to sustain your daily slay.  Then add on the amount of calories you need to maintain your workout activity.  If you’re looking to lose extra weight, drop up to 500 calories from your caloric total and viola – you have your calorie needs for losing weight.  Eat at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and avoid overeating.  If you’re using Intermittent Fasting you need to understand how to break your fast without overeating.

Reason #5: You Don’t Eat Enough Fresh, Whole Foods. 

If you tend to f@ck off vegetables and fruit, you’re missing out on all the fiber and phytonutrients these natural foods offer,  fiber slows down digestion and reduces spikes in blood glucose levels which can in turn curb hunger, while the vitamins and phytonutrients help with food digestion and energy release.  They also deliver a heavy dose of antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and reduce aging.

Fat Loss Tip:  Include plenty of fiber rich vegetables and fruit such as broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, squashes, apples and berries in your diet.  These foods provide soluble fiber, which absorb water that turns into a gel during digestion. This gel, moves through your system slowly preventing hunger from arising, and also providing a slow steady release of energy.

Reason #6: You Eat Without Thought. 

Do you eat when you’re stressed out? Eat when you’re sad, bored or just because you feel like it?  Don’t!  Eating with no good reason is not a good excuse to eat and will ultimately lead to extra calories consumed.

Fat Loss Tip:  Eat with a plan, determine the calories you need and eat according to your goals. Consider subscribing to a meal plan delivery service that is tailored to your needs. Following a meal plan will have you less likely eating just for the sake of eating and will help keep you on track no matter what your mood.

Reason #7: You Sit On Your Ass Too Much. 

If you don’t take the time to make your workout a priority you won’t be doing too much of anything, no extra calories burned means that fat isn’t going anywhere.  A body at rest, stays at rest, if you want to burn fat, you need to exercise to increase blood flow.  Increased blood flow, increases fat oxidation or fat burning and stimulates the release of exercise factors or myokines that cause a cascade of reactions that lead to greater fat burning!

Fat Loss Tip: If you want to lose weight, then you have to plan, prioritize and schedule your workouts into your life.  Don’t let work, or your social life ruin that body, or for that matter laziness.  Find your motivation – join a boot camp  a class, get a training partner or a personal trainer to keep that ass in the gym.

Reason #8: You Chat Instead of Working Out. 

If the gym has become your place to socialize then you’re really not doing yourself any favors.  Taking too long between sets to chat up your training partner, or that hottie by the water cooler, will not count towards calories burned.

Fat Loss Tip:  Invest in a good pair of wireless noise cancelling headphones that will block out your chances of contributing to any conversation.  Put your game face on and focus on the task you came to accomplish!  If you find the gym too distracting try home workouts or taking the workout outside.

Reason #9: You Eat Out of the PB Jar.

Peanut butter, even the healthy, natural stuff without added sugars or oils still provides 188 calories in just two tablespoons. That’s a whole lot of calories in a few spoonfuls.  It may provide a good source of fat and fiber, but a calorie is still a calorie.  And that goes for all nut butters and high calorie foods such as avocado, nuts, olives and high fat cheeses.

Fat Loss Tip:  Don’t do it.  You’re only asking for trouble if you start double dipping that spoon in the jar.  If you really can’t resist the delightful taste of PB, or any high calorie fatty food just don’t buy it.  Get your source of fats from less tasty sources such as fish oil, chia or flax!

Reason #10: You Frequent Brunches, Bars and Beach Clubs. 

If your weekends revolve around the bubbly, all that hard work in the gym and on a diet during the week will go to waste.  Alcohol is considered a toxin in the body and requires the body to switch from other metabolic processes like burning off fat to burning off that alcohol.  Additionally, alcohol consumption can increase cravings for salty and fatty foods.

Fat Loss Tip:  Everything in moderation.  Spend your weekends doing things that don’t revolve around alcohol, however if you must go out, limit your alcohol consumption to just a few clear spirits with soda water and a squeeze of citrus, instead of those sugary, calorie dense cocktails.

Reason #11: You Think A Day Off  is Without Consequence. 

There’s nothing wrong with taking one day off your diet, weekly, in fact it can be beneficial to your metabolism when done the right way. However, if you ‘kind of’ follow your diet during the week, then go over board with the calorie intake come your day off; you’re going to do more damage than good.

Fat Loss Tip:  The trick to taking a day off your diet without consequence is to be ultra strict and stick to a lower calorie and lower carb plan during the week, come your cheat day, it’s OK to up the calories and change up the macros.  This will help keep your metabolism guessing and your body burning fat!  Use the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time stick to the plan, allow 20% for the fun foods!

Reason #12: You Don’t Eat Enough High Quality Protein. 

Protein is essential to maintain lean mass, in fact the more lean mass or muscles you have, the higher your metabolic rate and harder and leaner your body will be. In fact, those who ate higher quality protein – that is a protein that provides all the essential amino acids, with every meal had the least belly fat and better overall body compositions than those who ate iso-caloric diets that were higher in carbs.

Fat Loss Tip:  Eat a diet rich in high quality protein – at least 1 g per pound of body weight per day will help to maintain a lean curvy figure and support recovery from a hard workout.  Include protein such as chicken, fish, and lean cuts of beef, whole eggs and low fat dairy.  Plant protein will also provide some benefit, but since it doesn’t provide all the essential amino acids required by the body in one shot, it will be more challenging to reach your protein needs.

Reason #13: You Forgot to Change Your Workout Routine.

Doing the same workout routine over and over will become easier and less challenging over time.  The body becomes adapted to exercise, making it easier and easier to complete.  With less challenge, comes less change.  Hitting a plateau can slow your goals.  Resulting in less weight loss and less fat burned.

Fat Loss Tip:  It’s important to change up your workout routine every 4 to 6-weeks to keep your body guessing.  Change it up between the style of workouts, the duration and the intensity.

Reason #14: You Skip Breakfast. 

It may not seem like a big deal but skipping out on breakfast has been shown to result in more calorie in-take later in the day compared to those who ate a high protein breakfast upon rising.  Missing out on breakfast can result in blood sugar drops that can leave you feeling hangry, causing overeating at subsequent meals.

Fat Loss Tip:  Don’t skip out on a healthy high protein breakfast.  Eat eggs and whole grain toast, a protein smoothie with whey, fruits and oats, or try a bowl of natural Greek yoghurt with berries and nuts.  Protein has a satiating effect that reduces the onset of hunger and when combined with a fibrous carb will further help to keep you feeling full!   Need some healthy breakfast ideas?  Go here!

Reason #15: You Eat Too Many Carbs. 

They’re yummy, but eating too many can result in unnecessary weight and fat gain.  Carbs – especially the simple ones such as white potato, white rice or from processed products made from refined sources like bread provide primarily simple sugar.  When eaten, carbs are broken down into their simplest form during digestion – glucose, or sugar, which gets stored for immediate use in the muscle as glycogen or for later use in fat tissue.  Glycogen storage in the muscle is limited, which means, more can be directed toward fat storage if you’re over consuming them.

Fat Loss Tip:   Optimize your carb intake throughout the day; eat them when the body is most responsive to up-take.  This means eating them post-workout and first thing in the morning when muscle glycogen is at its lowest.  Eat plenty of fibrous carbs, especially green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and asparagus, root vegetables like sweet potatoes, squashes and fruits like apples and berries.  Carbs can be 20 to 30% of your diet, depending on how much fat you have to burn and how much activity you’re performing.

Reason #16: You’re Stressed the Fuck Out.  

Stress can be a major factor when it comes to burning off fat.  The higher your stress, the higher your cortisol levels.  When cortisol is high, this can result in changes in hormone chemistry that result in an increase in cravings for of all things carbs!   Increased cortisol can also reduce melatonin – the hormone that triggers sleep, while also reducing testosterone and estrogen hormones – which in turn can reduce recovery, and slow the metabolism.

Fat Loss Tip:  Stress less, meditate, take up yoga, go for a walk, or learn how to channel that stress through martial arts, boxing or my favorite kickboxing.  Figure out what method works best for you.

Reason #17: You’re Not Sleeping Enough. 

You may not realize that sleep has a direct effect on your appetite hormones including ghrelin – the one that signals hunger, and leptin – the one that tells you to stop eating.  When you’re sleep deprived ghrelin increases, and leptin decreases.  Uh oh!

Fat Loss Tip:  Get your 8-hours of sleep every night. Learn how to unplug from work and life stresses.  Exercise can help, but so can mediation, reading and even writing or journaling can help you get whatever is lingering in your head – out. Get into a habit of shutting off your TV and closing your phone at least 30 minutes before you plan on sleeping.

Until Next Time,

Be Fierce & Rule the World,

Lauren Jacobsen

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