Tag Archives: Healthy Living

Is the Mediterranean Diet Really All That Healthy?

September 18th, 2018
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Mediterranean Diet Study Not As Healthy As Advertised - Dietary Rehab
If you are like many people who are looking to get healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease, you have probably considered, or already abide by, the Mediterranean diet.

Originally, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine stated that people in a test group who followed the Mediterranean diet had fewer incidents of heart attack or stroke than those who were simply told which fats to eat or avoid. The conclusion was that the Mediterranean diet is actually a way to decrease the risks associated with cardiovascular disease.

The study was touted as a blind study with a control group and two test groups that were randomly chosen. There were a number of study locations that people could visit to sign up and participate. These participants were given either olive oil, nuts or instructed to avoid certain types of fats. The results did show that those given olive oil or nuts had a lesser incidence of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke.

Flaws in the Original Mediterranean Diet Study

Unfortunately, many of the claims this study made were recently retracted due to a number of exaggerated details that were found in a later review of the original research. The review found a potential error in the randomization process.

When researchers reviewed the study, they found that one of the study locations had enrolled each patient that went to the same clinic on the same exact diet plan, rather than randomly assigning a plan. This meant 467 patients were using the same diet plan all at the same location.

Another issue had to do with households that contained more than one study participant. These participants were immediately placed on the same diet the other member of their household was following. A more accurate way to test the effectiveness of the diet would have been to assign each participating member of the household to a different plan. Although, one could see why they placed them on the same plan, since most households cook and eat together.

Another issue with the original study had to do with the selection process in general. Most, if not all, of the study participants were selected from largely homogeneous genetic communities in the Mediterranean region. This can affect the results in a negative way, as people with the same genetic qualities and living in the same communities often have the same types of health risks.

Therefore, the study only focused on a select group of individuals rather than a widespread and diverse panel of participants.

Important Distinction

Because of the initial study results, the media touted the findings as showing a benefit for anyone who is at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases or incidents. While eating healthfully will always have a number of benefits, claiming that one diet can benefit anyone in general can be very misleading.

The revised study now says that it is unsure if the diet would have any such benefits in people with a lower risk of heart problems or from different regions of the world.

Should the Diet Be Ignored Now?

With the retraction of the initial results following a review of the original study, many people have begun to question whether the diet is really as healthy as originally advertised. While the randomization and selection process may change the results of this particular study, it doesn’t mean the diet is not healthy or that those looking to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease shouldn’t try it.

The key factor to look at when deciding if a nutrition plan is healthy or if it will have the benefits you desire is whether it is a sustainable diet. With the multitude of fad diets that come and go each year, many people are skeptical of trying anything called a diet.

It’s More Than a Diet

The Mediterranean diet is not so much a diet as it is a conscientious lifestyle change for those who follow it properly. By avoiding certain foods and adding more of others, you begin to rethink the reasons you eat what you eat each day. If you stick with the lifestyle change, you will see the results that your body is capable of.

It is also important to know what your own body is capable of achieving when adopting a diet. While you may see the models on the covers of magazines and think, “I can do that if they can,” you may be overlooking whether your body type is even capable of looking that way.

Consider your bone structure and muscle structure when setting goals for what you want to achieve. This is important no matter which diet plan you choose to follow.

Feel Free to Stick with the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is more than a fad. It is a total lifestyle change in the way you prepare and eat food. It works by focusing on healthy fats, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. (Lean protein includes fish and chicken while avoiding red meat, which can be higher in unhealthy fat.)

If you are interested in more information on health, diets, recipes and overall lifestyle changes, enter your email address above to subscribe to our blog. Also, click below to learn more about the specifics of the Mediterranean diet.

Mediterranean Diet: Foods to Focus On

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Health Benefits of Blueberries and Raw Blueberry Juice

July 6th, 2018
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Health Benefits of Blueberries and Raw Blueberry Juice
Looking at the health benefits, blueberries seem to be the perfect food. Considered a superfood because they’re rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K, as well as Manganese, these little darlings pack quite a nutritional punch! And the health benefits are equally as awesome.

Antioxidant Rich

Blueberries, whether fresh, frozen, dried or as juice, have as many antioxidants as five servings of other fruits and vegetables! We all know that antioxidants neutralize free radicals and the damage they cause to our bodies. Eating blueberries every day can help stop cellular structure damage, DNA damage, early aging, and various types of cancer. The antioxidants in blueberries also have anti-inflammatory properties. Because of the high antioxidant content, blueberries can help fight chronic inflammatory diseases including arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.

Neuro-Protective Agent

Adding blueberries to your diet protects your brain from degeneration and neurotoxicity as well as oxidative stress, by slowing down the damage to the brain cells caused by aging.  This decreases your risk of dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. Putting blueberries in the daily diet, helps build dopamine, an essential neurotransmitter, in your body. Dopamine enables your body to perform smooth, controlled movements as well as maintaining an efficient memory, good attention span and problem-solving functions.

Cancer Prevention

Clinical studies have shown that gallic acid rich foods like blueberries can kill cancer without harming healthy cells, unlike chemotherapy or radiation therapies. And because they also contain folate, which assists in DNA repair and synthesis, blueberries prevent cancer cells from forming and mutating DNA strands. Some newer studies even show that the antioxidants in blueberries even promote the death of cancer cells.

Eye and Skin Health

Health Benefits of Blueberries and Raw Blueberry JuiceThose antioxidants are also working on your eyes, preventing the age related problems like macular degeneration, cataracts and myopia.

Because of special antioxidant compounds called carotenoids, flavonoids and other compounds, even things like hyperopia and retinal infections and sun damage can be prevented or reduced.

Your skin’s collagen relies on vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, in order to prevent damage caused by sun, pollution and smoke. Vitamin C also supports collagen’s ability to smooth out wrinkles and improve skin texture.

Digestive Aid

Fiber rich blueberries have both soluble and insoluble fiber which can help maintain a healthy digestive track, relieving both diarrhea and constipation. Wild blueberries have pre-biotic potential which promotes probiotic bacteria in the colon, aiding digestive health. There is a good chance they can help cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s Disease. Blueberries can also alleviate symptoms such as bleeding and pain caused by ulcerative colitis. One of the antioxidant compounds, pterostilbene, inhibits genes that cause inflammation, thought to be a risk factor for colon cancer.

Heart Health

Higher daily intake of blueberries has been shown to reduce the risk of developing hypertension by up to 8%. Research shows that, by eating blueberries and drinking raw blueberry juice, total and low density LDL cholesterol can also be reduced by up to 12% and 15% respectively and could help prevent heart disease. The blueberry, with its vitamin C and B6 as well as fiber, potassium, folate, and phytonutrient content, vigorously supports heart health. There is also a study, published in the journal, Circulation, stating that blueberries, eaten together with strawberries, may reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 33%.

Healthy Weight Loss

Since blueberries are high in dietary fiber, low in calories and low on the glycemic index, these blue marvels aid in weight loss. Dietary fiber is a bulking agent in the digestive track and gives that full feeling for longer, thereby reducing overall caloric intake. Snacking on blueberries, with their high fiber content will give you that full feeling and reduce your appetite. They also have the ability to block enzymes in your intestines that block carbohydrate absorption. Blueberry flavonoids, once absorbed, aid the body’s weight management by slowing the rate in which fat cells develop and multiply a well as decreasing the amount of fat that is stored in each cell.

Other Health Benefits

Blueberries can also treat urinary tract infections. They have a compound of large polymer-like molecules which inhibit the growth of E. coli bacteria. This compound is only found in cranberries and blueberries. Your immune system can also be boosted with these blue marvels because of the antioxidants in them. The flavonoid rich wild blueberry is a mood enhancer and can act as an effective antidepressant.  Because of the low glycemic index of blueberries, they can be helpful with Type 2 Diabetes. They have a positive impact on sugar regulation and can also help people with Metabolic Syndrome and insulin resistance, including lowering blood pressure. Higher intake of blueberries has been shown to decrease the development of Type 2 Diabetes in people who have Metabolic Syndrome by up to 23%.

Eating Healthy

Living longer, healthier and looking younger are the ideals we all strive for. Blueberries and raw blueberry juice is definitely a good addition to the healthy lifestyle we all want and want to keep. The best blueberries are organic and fresh. However, you can freeze them, dry them, juice them, save them, bake with them, do all kinds of things with them. They are a very versatile and forgiving fruit, in that they do not lose any nutritional value freezing or drying them. So, eat a handful a day and don’t forget to follow our blog to eat healthy, live healthy (and longer) and be happy.

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How Diet and Exercise Promote Health Microbiome Inside Our Bodies

March 5th, 2018
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Diet and Exercise Promote Microbiome Health Celiac Disease Foods to Avoid - Dietary Rehab

Good-for-You Bacteria

Bacteria isn’t always something to be avoided. While it’s good to fight bacteria on surfaces and protect yourself from potential sources of infection, some microorganisms are actually good for you.

Inside the body, millions of bacteria create a microbiome that enables digestion, keeps your gut healthy and supports immunity. Recent studies suggest healthy bacteria could be a major factor in developing celiac disease.

Celiac sufferers are often frustrated when a gluten-free diet alone doesn’t control their symptoms. An issue with the balance of their internal bacteria may be at root of the problem.

What Is a Microbiome?

Micro means small and biome means a community of living organisms. Within every human is a collection of between 10 and 100 trillion bacteria, most of which live in the digestive system. From the salivary glands in your mouth through your intestines, microorganisms work to break down food and perform a host of other functions.

Each person’s microbiome is like a genetic footprint, because it impacts the diseases they are predisposed to, their body weight, heredity and more. The same bacteria also exist on surfaces and throughout the environment.

Gut bacteria help:

  • Extract nutrients from food
  • Process vitamin K
  • Digest cellulose
  • Support nerve function.

Some researchers say up to 90 percent of diseases relate to the strength or weakness in a person’s microbiome. What you eat, how many hours a night you sleep and the bacteria in your surroundings all influence the health of your microbiome.

Poor gut health creates chronic inflammation in the intestinal walls and can cause:

  • Food sensitivity
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • A range of other conditions

Microbiome and Diet

What you eat affects your microbiome. In studies that analyzed humans and 59 other types of mammals, what each organism ate drastically affected their internal bacteria.

Diet can hurt or help healthy bacteria, and bacteria affect how the body digests food. When gut bacteria are in balance, people are more likely to maintain a healthy body weight. As a mice with a healthy body weight receive gut bacteria from obese mice, they gain weight quickly without eating additional calories because of how their new microbiota process food.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

When the gut microbiome undergoes changes due to antibiotics, sickness, stress, lifestyle factors or poor diet, tissue becomes damaged and the intestines become inflamed. Thus, the intestines become permeable and can leak antigens that lead to chronic disorders.

Lowering inflammation helps support gut health. There are several food groups to avoid:

  • Refined vegetable oils like corn or canola oil contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, known to cause inflammation.
  • Pasteurized dairy products irritate allergies and threaten healthy bacteria.
  • Refined carbohydrates like sugar, white bread and white rice are produced by stripping away the beneficial fiber. They cause blood sugar spikes and increased intestinal permeability.
  • Packaged granola or boxed cereal might seem like a healthy choice, but it’s often packed with refined sugar.
  • Trans and hydrogenated fats used in fried food and packaged snacks also create inflammation.

Farmers feed livestock corn and other inexpensive ingredients to fatten them up quickly, so meat, eggs and poultry from many sources are high in omega-6s.

Celiac Disease Foods to Avoid

For those with gluten intolerance, food can cause intense reactions. Celiac disease foods to avoid include:

  • All types of white or graham flour
  • Anything that contains the word “wheat,” like wheat bran or wheat germ
  • Pasta
  • Malt beverages
  • Barley

Gut-Healthy Foods

While some foods cause inflammation, others support healthy gut bacteria and reduce intestinal irritation. Celiac disease and a gluten-free diet follow the same rules that are beneficial for everyone.

Carbohydrates should come from fresh fruits and vegetables. Vegetables reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and other illnesses. The best choices are dark, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli; and squash.

If you eat fruit, consume it in its whole, raw form. Juices and fruit that is canned or processed contain added sugar and often have the healthy fiber removed. Instead of soda or energy drinks, choose organic coffee and green tea.

Consume high-quality meat like fish caught in the wild, poultry that is allowed to wander and find its own food, and grass-fed beef. When animals have the chance to find and ingest a range of nutrients, they have healthy microbiomes of their own and provide protein, healthy fat and nutrients without excessive omega-6s.

Choose beneficial fats like those found in nuts and seeds, coconut oil and butter from grass-fed cows. Beans and legumes are extremely healthy, as are grains like quinoa and amaranth.

Other Ways to Support Microbiome Health

What you eat every day either nourishes or destroys a healthy microbiome, but there are other activities that impact gut health. Doctors have been prescribing antibiotics for more than 80 years, and they have saved countless lives.

However, antibiotics don’t just kill harmful bacteria, they destroy entire microbiomes. While individuals recover from the infection for which a doctor prescribed antibiotics, their system tends to develop a higher risk of infection. Avoid taking antibiotics except when they are the only way to fight infection.

People sensed the connection between brain and gut long before science backed it up. When you’re nervous, you feel butterflies in your stomach. When something catastrophic happens, you feel like you’ve received a physical blow to your torso. Seeing something traumatic can make you feel nauseated.

Stress causes biochemical changes, disrupting the digestive system’s internal stability. When people are under prolonged stress, they suffer in the following areas:

  • Gastric secretions
  • Intestinal motility
  • Permeability of mucous membranes
  • Intestinal blood flow

Constant stress exposure in mice, for example, encourages some bacteria to grow rapidly, reducing diversity and wiping out the intestinal balance. Even small amounts of chronic stress slow down normal functions.

Exercise for Better Microbiome Helath, Gut Bacteria

Prioritize stress reduction to support microbiome health. Exercise is a natural way to reduce stress, and a new study finds it can encourage healthy bacteria growth. The study followed sedentary men and women, half of whom were obese. Researchers asked all participants to engage in progressively more intense sessions of walking and jogging three times a week.

As a result, exercise changed the gut bacteria in all participants. While individual results varied, almost everyone showed an increase in the microbes that create short-chain fatty acids. (Short-chain fatty acids boost metabolism and fight inflammation.) Lean volunteers showed the greatest benefit. The volunteers’ microbiomes returned to their original levels six weeks after they stopped exercising.

Your Microbiome and Disease

Chronic inflammation causes disease. An autoimmune disease develops when the body’s immune system becomes confused and attacks body systems. Researchers have linked inflammation with a person’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Gut health protects the body from free radicals, which weaken systems to make them more susceptible to many types of cancer. Harmful bacteria break down joints and supportive tissue, causing inflamed joints and arthritis. Nutrition also affects hormonal balances and brain chemistry, so a suffering microbiome can lead to depression.

The health of your body’s microbiome impacts every internal system. To reduce your risk of chronic disease and support a healthy microbiome, avoid antibiotics and foods that cause inflammation. Instead, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein from quality sources. And finally, cut down on stress and get regular exercise to reduce inflammation and fight disease.

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The Benefits of a Magnesium-Rich Diet

January 15th, 2018
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The Benefits of a Magnesium-Rich Diet - Dieary Rehab

Why You Need Magnesium

Magnesium plays many important roles in the body. It’s also one of the micronutrients in which we are most deficient, with an estimated 80 percent of American adults having some level of deficiency.

A magnesium deficiency can lead to several troubling symptoms, from fatigue and muscle aches to insomnia and anxiety. Many adults may be experiencing side effects of low magnesium and not even realize it.

Do You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?

Since magnesium plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, a deficiency can lead to serious and noticeable symptoms. Some of the most common include:

Circulatory Symptoms

A magnesium deficiency, if it persists long enough and is severe enough, can contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure) and cardiovascular disease. In some cases, it can be linked to preeclampsia (pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure) or eclampsia (onset of seizures in a pregnant woman).

Nervous System Symptoms

A magnesium deficiency can cause troubling symptoms within your brain and nervous system. These symptoms may include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Migraines
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Restless leg syndrome

Immune System Symptoms

Low levels of magnesium can contribute to recurrent bacterial infections or fungal infections, which may be the consequence of a depressed immune system. You may also be at risk for tooth cavities.

The Benefits of a Magnesium-Rich Diet

On the other hand, a magnesium-rich diet can come with a host of benefits. Some of the most notable include:

More Energy

Magnesium helps increase your energy levels and combat fatigue by activating ATP, which fuels cellular activity within the body.

Alleviates Anxiety

Magnesium plays an important role in GABA function, which helps produce serotonin. Serotonin is one of your “happy” hormones that promotes relaxation. This helps explain why some people with magnesium deficiency struggle with insomnia or anxiety.

Aids Digestion

Magnesium helps your muscles relax within your digestive tract, and helps moves stool through your intestines. Magnesium deficiencies can lead to constipation, so increasing your levels can ease gastrointestinal discomfort.

Relieves Aches and Pains

Magnesium also plays a role in muscle contractions. When you have a magnesium deficiency, you may experience cramping or spasms. Having adequate magnesium can help your muscles relax and reduce cramps and weakness.

Fuels Your Heart

Magnesium is essential to your cardiovascular health. There is more magnesium in your heart than anywhere in your body. It works symbiotically with calcium to support a healthy blood pressure and prevent hypertension within your body.

Natural Sources of Magnesium

While there are many magnesium supplements available on the market, many people can get adequate magnesium through a healthy diet. By incorporating some of the following magnesium-rich foods into your diet, you can replenish your levels and enjoy more energy, less pain and improved body functions.

Avocado

Avocado may be classified as a fruit or a vegetable, but either way it packs a serious nutritional punch. These humble little husks contain 15 percent of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium, plus they’re loaded with heart healthy fats, potassium and fiber.

Nuts

Nuts also work to deliver both heart-healthy fats and magnesium. Almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts have the highest amount of magnesium, with about 20 percent of your RDI in a one-ounce serving.

Legumes

This family of nutritious foods – which include soybeans, peanuts, peas, chickpeas, beans and lentils – are loaded with magnesium. In fact, one cup of cooked black beans contains nearly one-third of your RDI.

Leafy Greens

The basic ingredients of your salad, spinach in particular, can provide much of your magnesium for the day. A cup of spinach yields one-third of your RDI. A spinach salad garnished with cooked chickpeas for lunch could provide you with half of your magnesium for the day or more.

Dark Chocolate

For you chocophiles, here’s a cause for celebration: Not only is dark chocolate loaded with antioxidants, it’s also a good source of magnesium (about 15 percent for a few squares).

Keep in mind that this is still a treat to be enjoyed in moderation. Stick to a serving instead of a whole bar.

The Bottom Line

Magnesium serves several vital functions throughout the body. If you’re feeling fatigued, stressed, anxious or have trouble sleeping, these could be warning signs of a deficiency.

Incorporate magnesium-rich foods into your healthy and active lifestyle. You might be impressed with the results. For more information on healthy living and a well-balanced diet, bookmark or follow our blog.

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Resistance Training, Endurance Athletes, And A High Protein Diet

November 9th, 2016
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Resistance Training, Endurance Athletes, And A High Protein DietHaving recently looked into a study on high protein diets for athletes doing resistance training, it quickly became apparent that certain exercise types — such as resistance training and endurance training — have unique dietary needs to be completely effective.  There was no significant change in body composition for anyone in the study, but other studies regarding a high protein diet all agree with this one thing: that the high protein diet burns fat mass — and the fear that it would raise cholesterol have been debunked.

A high protein diet can actually lower cholesterol and there is no chance of renal failure or significant changes to blood lipids or hepatic functions. Also, high protein diets may reduce fat mass by inhibiting lipogenesis in the liver. And if, however, you do a periodic resistance training schedule along with other sports training, a high protein diet can significantly change your body composition. Endurance athletes’ dietary needs are better met with significantly higher amounts of protein.

Most endurance athletes require more dietary protein intake for 3 reasons:

  1. Insufficient carbohydrate calories to meet energy expense
  2. Insufficient protein calories to meet energy expense
  3. Exercise training expenditure increases 10-fold above resting state

Why A Paleo Diet Is Beneficial To Athletes

The Paleo Diet is not necessarily a high protein diet, more of a low empty-carbohydrate diet. That being said, it reduces the number of sugars as well as grains. You get your sugars naturally from fruit and your carbohydrates from them as well as vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, and yams or sweet potatoes. It doesn’t make you feel deprived, it’s versatile and allows you to eat when you want, as much as you want. Most high protein diets still allow grain carbohydrates and a significantly higher sugar intake than the Paleo Diet. This diet just asks: “What would a caveman eat?”

When training for any event or have a significant workout, nutrition is very important.  The Paleo Diet can be modified to fit the athlete’s needs. If you have a significant game or a marathon to run, eating a small, balanced (500-1000 calories) meal 3-4 hours beforehand is recommended. For the caveman, it will include potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, a variety of green vegetables and a regular portion of meat. This meal should be lower in fat, as fat takes longer to digest. If the meal is closer to the event, it should be smaller still. Be sure to include plenty of water with this meal and during the pre-event time.

The after event meal is slightly more important and should include carbohydrates, protein, and fat. This meal should also be consumed within 30 minutes after the event, to make optimum use of the nutrients. This is when protein synthesis is at its best and the carbohydrates can help replenish the diminished glycogen stores and enhances muscle growth. If you do not feel you can eat, a protein shake is recommended with milk, almond or coconut milk. (So many options!) Add whey or soy protein, some fruit if desired or vegetables for a complete “meal”. If you are an endurance athlete, this is actually the meal when you want to add more protein to your intake. A four to one ratio of protein to carbohydrates is recommended.

Protein Needs For Athletes

The amount of protein needed for an athlete depends on the amount of exercise that is done. This is where the high protein diet comes into its best effect.

1-1.5 hours of exercise requires 1.2 grams per kilogram of weight per day

2-4 hours of exercise requires 1.4 grams per kilogram of weight per day

5 or more hours requires 1.7 grams per kilogram of weight to replace the amino acids that have been cannibalized during the extreme exercise

After all this, any athlete may need extra carbohydrates to help fuel all the exercise output. Paleo is not a diet you have to absolutely stick to. It is a guideline and can be modified to meet your needs. Let me repeat that. The Paleo Diet can be modified to meet your needs. This is very important to remember. If you need more carbs and the sweet potato fries aren’t cutting it, add another baked potato. Put butter and sour cream on it, if you like. Whatever hits your fancy. Eat whatever your body needs, as long as you’re eating enough carbohydrates to meet your performance goals.

Fats are also an important part of the athletic diet. The Paleo Diet includes fats as a part of the complete nutritional picture. Having fats in your diet is as important as having the right amount of protein or carbohydrates to fuel your performance.

Calorie counting on the Paleo Diet is not necessary unless you need more calories to keep up your performance goals. If you jog for an hour or two a day and have nothing else strenuous going on, you will still need at least 2500 calories to maintain your weight and performance levels, more if you are trying to gain muscle.  You want to make sure you have enough food, this also means fat, in your daily intake. So, forget about the skinless chicken breasts; instead have bacon, pork shoulder, avocados, and eggs – WITH the yolk.

Now, remember, this is for the endurance athlete and the ones who exercise rigorously twice a day or more. The rest of us can get by on the usual fare; basically, there is no need to have those before and after event meals. (But we can still have an extra potato if the need or want arises.) The Paleo Diet is wonderful and not really a diet at all. Especially not a low-carb or low-fat diet. More a life guideline, if you choose to do it. Do not let yourself get run down or exhausted, especially if you have been working out. That includes walking (or jogging) the dog…..Have another potato or more bacon!

Click Here To Read More On Paleo Diets

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The Paleo Diet As A Lifestyle Choice

November 1st, 2016
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Paleo Diet Lifestyle Choice

Our caveman ancestors were hunter-gatherers and were in shape. Eating what they could hunt or find, and doing a lot of walking in the process, kept them lean and muscular, athletic and versatile. That was their lifestyle. Although they did not choose it, we can choose it for ourselves today.

Paleo Diet For Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle

I know a woman who started the Paleo Diet because she wanted to lose a bit of weight she had gained. It was difficult at first, not having any desserts or other sweets, but she stuck to it, even started jogging. After a few months of the new “diet”, she felt ambitious enough to enter a 5 km run nearby. That was three years ago.  She now runs many different marathons of 20 to 50 km and some even on mountainous terrain. And won a few! She has kept up the Paleo Diet, modifying it for her and her family’s needs and it has become their lifestyle.

Now, I am not saying we all need to run marathons to keep the Paleo lifestyle for us. But doing Paleo will make us feel better, gives us more energy, helps us lose weight and definitely helps build muscle.  You can start walking the dog more often, rather than the dog walking you or just sitting there, forlorn. You will have the energy to keep up with your kids or your grand kids and might even be able to surprise them a time or two. Maybe the exercise regimen you have now can be upgraded or done more often! The possibilities are endless!  A few tips to remember:

  • In order for any “diet” to work, it must be a lifestyle choice. In other words, we need to change our way of thinking and do the “diet” for the rest of our lives. Many diets do not work well this way. The Paleo Diet does.
  • NO PROCESSED FOODS! NO DAIRY! NO SUGAR! Fresh fruits and veggies, good (grass fed, properly raised ) meats, eggs, fish, fowl – anything with wings, oils – coconut, avocado, olive, nuts (yes, peanut butter – no sugar added!!), sweet potatoes and yams (no potatoes!)
  • Use common sense. A moderate portion of meat and lots of veggies for dinner with sweet potato fries. Omelets with lots of veggies and apples dipped in almond or peanut butter. You can also go out to eat. Just substitute sweet potato fries for regular fries or potatoes, and if you’re craving a hamburger, just get it “Caveman Style”. The options are out there.
  • Remember where I said my friend had modified the diet to meet her needs? She loves cheese. She used to eat cheese on a daily basis. Now she eats it once a week. Oh, and chocolate? Dark chocolate is allowed on the Paleo Diet! It’s better for you anyways than milk chocolate. Once you have gotten used to eating Paleo; that is, much less carbohydrates, you can start modifying it to fit your needs. Or you can ease into Paleo by eating less and less carbs until you are doing pure Paleo.
  • With the Paleo Diet, the thing to remember is to eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full and not eat when you’re not hungry. You get your carbohydrates through your nutrient dense vegetables and fruits, as well as getting natural sugars (also carbs). The Paleo Diet is stress-free eating. You can eat a big breakfast, a couple of snacks and then a big dinner; eat a small breakfast and a lunch and snacks for dinner and a late pick-me-up. As long as you are eating Paleo, you can eat when you want and as much as you want. No counting calories!

The Paleo Diet is not for everyone. But those of us who could lose a few pounds or more, or are stuck in a rut or stressed out from yo-yo diet fads, or just want to feel healthier; this might be something to look into. Our bodies were never really meant to eat all those breads, cereals and sugar.

We were hunter-gatherers for 140,000 years and only in the last 10,000 have we had agriculture which has given us all those grains. Our bodies haven’t gotten used to all those fancy things. Maybe it’s time to go back to our roots and eat what we were meant to eat.  There are many websites and articles you can look up to learn more about the Paleo Diet. Do your research and get the facts. One of the better sites for finding out more is http://www.marksdailyapple.com/

The leading expert on the Paleo Diet is Dr. Loren Cordain. His page is at http://thepaleodiet.com/  I believe the best way to figure out if the Paleo Diet is for you is to try it for 30 days and see if you feel any better, have more energy, or lost any weight. To start you off, here is a recipe for Paleo Spaghetti:

Paleo Spaghetti

For the “Spaghetti”:

1 Spaghetti Squash, halved and seeds scooped out

¼ cup olive oil

Salt, pepper

For the Sauce:

1 lb fresh ground turkey

1 small onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 jar tomato sauce

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

Salt, pepper to taste

Sprigs of basil for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rub the olive oil on both halves, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in a rimmed baking dish cut side up and roast the squash for 40-45 minutes or until a fork can easily poke it. Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle it. Using fork, scrape inside of squash shredding the inside into strands.

While the squash is roasting, melt coconut oil in a pan, add minced garlic and chopped onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, until onion is glassy. Add the ground turkey and brown, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped tomato and tomato sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the Italian seasoning. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally until the spaghetti squash is done roasting.

Once the squash is shredded, place on plates, add sauce, garnish with the basil. Bon Apetit!

There are so many variations you can do with this recipe! Since the spaghetti squash can be a pasta substitute, use a pesto sauce instead! Or make your own homemade spaghetti sauce. Use Beef or ground chicken instead of turkey.  As long as the ingredients are Paleo, the sky’s the limit! And if you’re not quite ready to go Paleo all the way, you can still use Alfredo sauce or add a bit of Parmesan on top!

Bottom line is: at least do some homework on the Paleo Diet and try it for 30 days. The only thing you have to lose is weight!

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Delicious Paleo Diet Recipes For The Holidays

October 20th, 2016
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Holiday Baking – Paleo Diet Style

Holiday Baking – Paleo Diet Style

Ah, the Holidays! Wonderful, sweet memories of baking pumpkin pies and gingerbread men with your grandmother.  Now that you’re on the Paleo Diet, you have to give up all those goodies, right? Guess again!  Here are a few yummy recipes to try. And don’t forget: modifying the recipes for your taste or preferences is definitely allowed!!

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Bars

With Thanksgiving coming just around the corner, I thought this would be a tasty alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie. You can play around with the spice amounts and make this recipe your own.

For the Crust:

  • 6 dates, pits removed
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 can (14oz) pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut cream concentrate or homemade coconut butter*, melted just to soften
  • 3 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/16 teaspoon cloves (don’t bother measuring, just shake)
  • Pinch of salt

For the Topping:

  • ½ cup pecans roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. First the crust: add pitted dates and almond butter into food processor. Pulse until it breaks down together.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients for the crust and puree until smooth.
  3. Grease an 8×8 pan with coconut oil and pour your mixture in, smoothing and leveling it out. Place in oven for 12-15 minutes or until firm and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
  4. While crust is baking, mix your filling ingredients into the food processer until pureed, incorporating the coconut concentrate/butter. It shouldn’t be chunky.
  5. When the crust is cooled, add your pumpkin puree on top, smoothing and leveling again
  6. Now your topping: add the coconut oil to a pan to heat under medium heat. Add your chopped pecans stirring constantly as they will burn easily. Add the remaining ingredients while stirring to prevent burning the pecans. Roast for about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Pour pecan mixture onto the puree and smooth out. Put into freezer for 20+ minutes
  8. Cut and serve. Keep refrigerated or in freezer to keep intact and from melting

*To make your own coconut butter, just get a bag of coconut flakes and put in the food processor. Process for about 8-10 minutes, scraping the sides occasionally. Done.

Brownie Eggnog Pumpkin Pie

If you would prefer a more traditional pie, but still want to do Paleo, never fear! There are lots of wonderful Paleo recipes for pumpkin pie, like this one:

For the Filling:

  • 1 can (14oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup coconut or almond milk eggnog
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
  • Pinch of salt

For the Brownies:

  • 15 dates, pitted
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 2 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a pie plate with coconut oil
  2. Place all filling ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processer (doesn’t have to be super clean).
  3. Add dates to food processor and pulse until a clumpy paste forms
  4. Add coconut oil and cocoa powder, puree until well mixed and it has become smoother
  5. Finally add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth, about two minutes
  6. Spread half the brownie mixture into the bottom of the pie pan, smoothing it out to the sides.
  7. Pour pumpkin mixture on top.
  8. Lastly, add the remaining brownie mixture by the spoonfuls on top and swirl around with a knife. The brownie mixture will be sticky and not swirl easily.
  9. Place pie on baking sheet in oven and bake for 1 hour
  10. Let rest for about 20 minutes and then place in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.

*If you have all the regular spices, you can use those instead in the traditional amounts or use the amounts from the pumpkin pie bars recipe above. And if you are using the pumpkin pie spice this recipe calls for, I recommend using a bit more than they ask for.

I added this one in, because we all love chocolate chip cookies and who doesn’t love bacon?

Paleo Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

Yes, you read that right! Paleo allows dark chocolate and of course, BACON!! Now we can put two of our favorite foods together and have the king of all comfort foods! I realize it is not a traditional holiday cookie, however, bacon! We require:

For the Dough:

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 2/3 cups tapioca flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ bag of dark chocolate chips
  • [h2] For the bacon:
  • 5 slices thick bacon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the bacon: put the bacon into a bowl and coat with the maple syrup, using fingers is probably best. Place on a baking sheet and put into oven. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn the bacon over and give it another 5 minutes. Take out, let cool on baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. The bacon will crisp up as it cools and add a delightful crunch to the cookies!
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, mix together the wet ingredients until fully mixed. When done, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Once the bacon has cooled, cut into chocolate chip sized pieces and add to the mixture along with the chocolate chips.
  4. Roll your dough into 1 inch balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 18 cookies.

You could replace the maple syrup with agave syrup, but it will change the flavor a bit. If coconut flour is less expensive in your area, try using that instead. These cookies are well worth a try and are a great addition to the holidays! Any holidays. Birthdays. Late night snack. Whatever. Mmmmmm, bacon.

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How Do You Like Your Eggs? Smoked Please

September 19th, 2012
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If the latest media scare about eggs being as bad for your heart health as cigarettes is true,  then my wife and I may not have much longer to live. You see, based on credible research and my ability to tie that research to healthy lifestyles, the Shields’ household consumes about 4 dozen whole eggs per week. Heck, it would probably be 5 dozen if I took the time to cook some for our Great Dane.

Egg Cigarette

Recently, a nutrition study based out of Canada inspired some over-the-top, but typical media frenzy. They would like us to believe that eating whole eggs is two-thirds as bad as smoking cigarettes; apparently, they harden our arteries. This is how media works – force the reader to question what they know, and then watch the panic begin. It’s important to understand that asking questions is what you should always do. However, that means questioning both sides of the argument. This type of misinformation is most evident in nutrition. First, “they say” such food is bad, then “they say” such food is good, then bad again. Who is “they”? Why do they keep changing their position? Here’s the reality. Stop listening to “they”. Look past the headlines, past what appears on the surface, and do your own research or ask a knowledgeable expert. I do it all the time. This particular “study” has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

This survey asked some 1,200 senior-aged participants to estimate their average consumption of egg yolks per week times the number of years egg yolks were consumed, which was termed egg-yolk years. Yeah, that sounds like a very odd way to calculate how many eggs people eat.

This is called an observational study – one of the least reliable study methods available in proving that a single action causes a specific outcome. In science class, we learn that this type of study can only show a correlation and correlation does not equal causation. That means that just because the researchers may have seen a higher overall intake of whole eggs AND cases of hardened arteries, does not mean that eggs – and only eggs – were the culprit.

Typically researchers do know to account for other variables that would explain specific outcomes. For example, the researchers in this study did take into account the fact that cigarette smoking is attributed to worsening artery health. But what they did not do, was account for other very important factors, “…more research should be done to take into account exercise and waist circumference.”  So there was little consideration for the participants’ lifestyles.

The study also found that the participants that ate the most eggs (approx. 4.68 per week) had LOWER total cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and higher HDL levels than those who ate an average of .41 eggs per week. That was obviously left out of the study’s headline and media attention. Those results would make any doctor dance a jig.

Did the study gauge participants’ eating habits in general? There’s no mention of it. Let’s propose a hypothesis about egg consumption in America that reflects a very likely possibility. Health conscious people who make many other healthy choices tend to eat egg whites where as people who are not health conscious tend to eat whole eggs, and quite often those eggs are on the same plate as pancakes or part of an egg McMuffin not surrounded by a heap of vegetables.

So, how might whole eggs be associated with more plaque? Well, these researchers never say. Perhaps because they now know that cholesterol doesn’t cause plaque, as shown in this study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15721501. It concludes that dietary cholesterol is less detrimental to cardiovascular health than previously believed. Here are a few other sources on the subject:

The egg yolk is what holds the majority of the nutrition you need. It contains optimal levels of heart-protecting vitamins like Vitamins A, B1, B6, Folate, B12, and D. The yolk also contains choline, which helps with memory function; lutein and zeaxanthin are also important for eye health.

The bottom line is that we must continue to question the details of studies like this one. And don’t forget to continue to eat real foods for optimum health; do not allow deeply flawed “nutritional science” to fool you. Do your research or ask a professional.

Take Home Points:

  • This was an observational study based on incomplete questionnaires.
  • Correlation does not equal causation.
  • Eating real foods will NEVER be bad for our health (I still laugh at the comparison to cigarettes).
  • Some of the most important vitamins and minerals we can consume are actually contained in the egg yolk. These help to protect the eyes, heart, and brain.
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Reconstructing the Anabolic Diet- Part 2

June 19th, 2012
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In part 1 of the series, we looked at the Anabolic Diet’s low carbohydrate, ketogenic weekday phase. We discussed the general premises of the diet, and I explained the modifications that I would make in order to make the diet more effective for body composition changes and much healthier in the long-term. In part 2, we will examine everyone’s favorite part of the diet- the weekend carb load.  We will examine the potential shortcomings of the original plan, the most common pitfalls in the carb load and how to avoid them, and I will provide a more detailed and targeted plan to accomplish the goals of the carb load which, in my opinion, will provide both superior body composition results and a better overall health profile for the dieter.

As we discussed in part 1, the biggest issue with Dr. Dipasquale’s original recommendations are again lack of specificity and quality. This problem gets compounded on the weekend carb load, due to the much higher amount of food and the very pronounced hormonal response that the weekend foods illicit. In fact, far from being the gluttonous period of gastronomic debauchery that so many Anabolic Diet practitioners see it as, the weekend phase is actually quite hormonally and biochemically complex. What was originally marketed as “anything you want for 36-48 hours is really best broken down into three distinct phases which correspond to the body’s  continually changing hormonal environment in response to the weekend foods. In order to really get the most out of the Anabolic Diet in physique development, careful attention should be paid to these phases. I will break down each phase, explain what you need to eat in the phase, why, and how long it needs to be. We will then put it together for a comprehensive  overview of the weekend.

Phase 1

If there is a period that most closely resembles the original Anabolic Diet’s weekend recommendations, it is the period I call Phase 1. In this phase, your body has the most favorable hormonal and biochemical environment possible for utilization of carbohydrate.  This is entirely due to the previous five days of low-carbohydrate, high- fat eating and training. These days:

  • Exhaust hepatic and muscular glycogen stores
  • Potentiate GLUT4 receptor activity
  • Stimulate AKT2 activity

Basically the body is almost out of immediately-usable energy stores, and it knows it. Since being low on energy is generally bad for surviving things which may arise, there is a compensation which takes place. The body gets exceptionally efficient at up-taking glucose from the bloodstream. Conversely, the environment for fat storage and converting glucose into triglyceride is very poor. Enzymes such as lipoprotein lipase, which is responsible for the uptake of triglyceride into the fat cells, are down-regulated. The liver is also in “storage mode”. The various enzymes which convert sugars into triglyceride are inhibited, while the enzymes responsible for glycogenolysis and storage are activated and hyper-sensitive. This “perfect storm” of biochemistry is what enables the consumption of all manner of junk food on the diet without adversely affecting the physique. Nothing is really off-limits in this period, even the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. In fact, this is the one time where fructose can serve a useful purpose as it is extremely efficient at replenishing liver glycogen in while the body is in this depleted state. Unfortunately this little phase doesn’t last forever, in fact it doesn’t last very long at all. All of these phases are very transient, and the physiological environment begins changing in response to the high levels of sugar immediately.  Once you take that first bite of whatever decadent, sinful food you decide to eat first on your carb load, the clock starts. So the big question is….how long does it last? The answer is very individualized, but in general a person with normal body fat levels and normal insulin resistance will last about 6 hours in this phase before conditions change. The better shape you are in, the longer the phase 1 environment can last. Some elite athletes and bodybuilders can stay in phase 1 for an entire 24 hour period.

Even for the elite though, there comes a time when phase 1 ends. It is then time to begin thinking again before you shove that food in your pie-hole.  For purposes of rapid fat loss, for those who are not in great shape and are just beginning this type of diet, and for those who have very poor insulin sensitivity and/or borderline diabetic phase 1 may be all that can be handled for the weekly carb load. The hormonal environment, insulin sensitivity, and intracellular glycogen stores are just not great enough yet to handle more than that. After a period of time on the diet this will change for the better and allow the individual to improve his baseline insulin sensitivity and to move on to phase two, where the majority of glycogen supercompensation takes place.

Phase 2

After you have driven back home from Dairy Queen and called an end to phase 1, an assessment of what is going on in your body is warranted. You now have a high to very high level of circulating insulin, while simultaneously continuing to hold on to good insulin sensitivity. This is a very advantageous phase for those who look to increase muscle mass on this diet. In fact this phase is essential of if the the greatest amount of muscle mass and performance is an objective. Due to the full liver however, special consideration must be taken when selecting the carbohydrate sources in this phase.  This is essentially where I diverge from Dipasquale’s recommendations. Whereas he would have you eating  pizza and ice cream the rest of the carb load, I believe in turning attention to the quality of carbohydrate in order to produce the most effective glycogen super-compensation in the skeletal muscle.  We also need to keep one eye on our long term health as well. While a six hour free-for-all sounds unhealthy, I doubt that there are any long term health consequences to such an eating pattern. The total weekly time is simply too low and the calories which are able to be ingested too small a percentage of the weekly calories to make a difference. Once we get into phase 2, the period starts stretching into a day-long affair and the implications are greater for poor food choices.

Recommendations for the carbohydrate source in this phase are for predominantly long chain amylopectin and amylose-containing foods. Rice (white or brown), potatoes, pastas, oats are all fine choices. The key in carbohydrate selection in this phase is the elimination of fructose-containing carbohydrates. Why? Well, that has to do with our biological processing of fructose. Essentially, fructose cannot participate in glycogen loading when the liver is full of glycogen. It is 100% metabolized by the liver, and in this scenario the vast majority of fructose will be converted into triglyceride. This is not what we want or need in any phase of our dieting life, and we certainly don’t want to be eating a large portion of our carbohydrate  during a carbohydrate load which cannot participate in making glycogen. The length of phase two can certainly vary based on all of the individual physiological differences that we talked about with phase 1.

I generally recommend phase 2 at that way. roughly twice as long as phase 1. In the scenario of the typical dieter mentioned above, this would be a 12 hour phase. Those with exceptional physiology could extend this though. Phase 2 accomplishes the real leg work of the carbohydrate load on the Anabolic Diet. Once completed, glycogen stores should very well be close to topped off.  Some people will say that, once this happens, you should go immediately back to low-carbohydrate eating. This is certainly one way to do it, and there may be some positives to doing it that way. I have found through experimentation that a phase 3, or “transition” provides an even greater glycogen supercompensation while making the transition back to ketosis easier on Sunday and Monday.

Phase 3

The purpose of phase 3 is two-fold; to provide additional carbohydrates in order to complete the super-compensation and to provide slightly more dietary fat back in to the diet in order to transition back into a “fat-fuel” metabolism. This phase is short- it is comprised of two meals over roughly 4-6 hours. For carbohydrate sources, complex carbohydrate with lots of dietary fiber is the goal. This is the time for Ezekiel-type breads, steel-cut oats, quinoa, and similar foods. High dietary fiber will limit absorption and coupled with the dietary fat slow gastric emptying. This provides a perfect “bridge” back to low-carb land. We are essentially tapering off of carbohydrate (and thus insulin), treating it as the powerful pharmacological substance that it is.

Putting it All Together

So, how does it all fit together in the real world? And the larger question, is DIpasquale’s diet most attractive trait, its livability, preserved?  Let’s look at it in totality. Instead of the 36-48 hour free-for-all we have:

  • 6 hour “free-for-all”
  • 12-18 hour glycogen supercompensation period
  • 4-6 hour transition

How does this translate into “livability”? Well, let us assume you go start the weekend at dinnertime on Friday night. Friday night will be the “hang out” night.  You can go to the ice cream social at the local senior living center, go out with the guys for some drinks, eat your corn dog and cotton candy at the fair. Do whatever you feel like doing, whenever you feel like doing it. You then stumble home with an insulin  hangover and go to bed. Getting up the next day, its whole wheat waffles, French toast, rice krispies for breakfast, a trip to the sushi buffet for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner on date night. And as day turns into evening, eat a couple of smaller meals before bed for your phase 3. Things like a small bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter, Ezekiel toast with bacon and eggs would fit the bill.

Conclusion

So that’s the weekend. Hopefully I have stimulated you to think a little deeper in regards to carbohydrate type, frequency, and duration. In part 3, we will wrap things up looking at supplementation and tying the entire diet into a comprehensive training system which takes full advantage of the Anabolic Diet’s cyclical properties.

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June Nutraceutical of the Month – Maca Root

June 11th, 2012
1

Maca Root ( Lepidium meyenii ) 

Do you feel tired? Despite the copious amounts of caffeine and other stimulants you scarf down throughout the day, do you find youself feeling like you just don’t have the energy left in the tank to complete all of the day’s tasks? Before you turn to harsh ( and usually harmful ) stimulant medications, more caffeine, or gimmicky energy drinks why not try a natural solution for a change?

Maca root has been used for hundreds of years by the ancient south american cultures to combat lack of energy and vitality. It was given to their warriors in preparation for battle or strenuous work, like building giant neolithic stone monuments. If it could power the building of giant stone cities, I think it just might also be useful in getting you through the 2 PM “sleepy time” and on to finishing that proposal by 5 PM. The mechanism of action isn’t well understod, but it possibly potentiates the thyroid gland to work more efficiently in the conversion of thyroid hormone to its active form. Try 1000 mg three times a day for a few weeks. Who knows….you may be so productive your boss will give you a raise. Maybe not, but we can dream can’t we?

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