How Does Creatine Work: Debunked Myths

From sun up to sun down, we are on the grind. We put in early hours at the box and we close down the gym at night. We are dedicated to a way of living that demands rigorous dedication and uncompromised grit.

Because of this unwillingness to compromise when it comes to accomplishing our goals, we demand the very best from our nutritional supplements and will go the extra mile to ensure that what we are putting in our body is of the highest quality. When it comes to a high quality supplement that has been shrouded in myth and rumor, no other sport supplement comes close to the often stigmatized creatine.

While creatine has gone through the rumor mill more times than a teenage girl at a new school, most of the information that is circling about creatine is false, or at the very least hearsay. Creatine is actually one of the most beneficial supplements that both bodybuilders and endurance athletes alike can add to their daily supplement regimen.

Creatine is in fact, an affordable, low risk, over the counter supplement that has proven effective in assisting strength training and performance results for everyone from college students to professional athletes, and is approved and considered legal by both the Olympic Committee and NCAA.

Creatine is especially beneficial in activities that require the body to use higher levels of ATP through the phosphagen system, which aids in short-burst energy for athletic activities such as powerlifting and sprinting. Our body creates creatine naturally, but taking creatine as a supplement helps this process, allowing for longer bursts during high-intensity workouts and more reps. Not only has creatine shown to be beneficial during high-energy training intervals, but has also been shown to aid cognitive function, as the brain also uses ATP as an energy source.

So, does creatine assist in building muscle? The answer is yes, by allowing for more reps or and increased energy you are able to build muscle faster. With all of this information, you would think that creatine would be a no-brainer for any serious bodybuilder or high-intensity athlete. However, due to the copious amounts of misinformation about creatine, many people still balk at adding it to their supplement program.

We have decided to look at the 4 most common creatine myths, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not creatine is right for you.

Creatine’s Effect on the Kidneys
The most prominent rumor surrounding creatine is that it negatively affects the kidneys. This may be true for people that are already suffering from kidney issues. However, there has never been any evidence that creatine has a negative effect on renal function in healthy adults without there being a pre-existing condition.

Creatine Causes Dehydration
Creatine does cause water retention in the muscles, but is not directly associated with dehydration. When athletes increase the intensity or duration of their workouts, they will need to increase their hydration intake. There has never been a direct correlation between creatine and dehydration in any of the creatine studies to date.

Creatine Causes Weight Gain
While some initial weight gain is normal due to water being stored in your muscles, i.e. water weight, the flip side is that creatine allows you to train harder and longer, often leading to increased muscle mass. It may not be ideal for those looking to cut or lose weight because of a competition, but you can stop cycling before a competition to offset any water weight the creatine may be contributing to.

Creatine Is Associated With Aggression
Another common misnomer associated with creatine is that is causes mood swings or aggression, similar to “roid rage”. Creatine is not directly linked to a rise in testosterone levels like steroids, and therefore isn’t to blame for mood swings. Your body naturally creates creatine in the pancreas, kidneys and liver to provide energy to the muscles during exercise, and creatine simply assists in this process by providing more energy when cranking out sets in the gym.

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18652079
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691485/pdf/14561278.pdf
http://aop.sagepub.com/content/39/6/1093.abstract.fr?patientinform-links=yes&legid=spaop;39/6/1093
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18184753

How You Can Pull Off Healthy Weight Loss on a Tight Budget

It isn’t easy when you are trying to lose weight, and between finding the motivation to move more and finding the time to prepare nutritious food, it can start to seem impossible. However, it is important that you maintain a healthy weight for your overall fitness and wellbeing. Being overweight can increase your chances of suffering from health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, it is important that you try to shed those extra pounds and start to feel better about yourself.

Eating healthy often costs more than eating quick and convenient food, and for those of us on a tight budget, buying fresh food every day is unrealistic. However, it is possible to eat healthily and lose weight, while remaining on a tight budget by shopping around and preparing your meals in advance. If you want to lose weight but are worried about how much it will cost, then checkout my guide on everything you need to help you lose weight while living on a strict budget.

Bulk Cook

Preparing several meals ahead of time ensures you have a ready-made healthy meal or snack when you’re hungry and encourages you to buy healthy foods in bulk and use them right away so you waste less.

Here are some simple ideas for getting into the budget-conscious meal-prep habit:

  • “Learn how to cook one large batch of shredded chicken/pork or lentils/beans and transform them into two to three completely different meals,” suggests Lindsay Livingston, R.D., creator of the Lean Green Bean healthy recipe blog.
  • Learn how to make Portion Fix-approved shredded chicken, beans, and lentils with these recipes: Slow Cooker Chicken TacosRainbow Lentil Bowls, and Slow Cooker Refried Beans.
  • Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot to make soups, stews, pulled meats, stewed fruit (delicious in overnight oats or mixed with plain oatmeal), beans, lentils, and ancient grains. Pro tip: Get beans and lentils from the bulk bins — it’s cheaper than canned or already-cooked versions).
  • Cook a dozen hard-boiled eggs on the weekend to use throughout the week as part of breakfast or a snack; add to salads or whole-grain bowls.
  • Skip the pre-cut vegetables and fruits at the grocery store. They may be more convenient, but they’re also more expensive than doing the chopping yourself. Make sure you know how long you can store fresh vegetables and fruits so nothing goes to waste.

Excerpt from https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/eating-healthy-on-a-budget

Plan Your Meals

We often find ourselves reaching for high-calorie foods when we haven’t organized or plans our meals, so it is worth planning what you are going to eat at the beginning of each week. On a Sunday evening, you should plan out your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next 7 days so that you know exactly what food you need to buy from the grocery store and what meals you need to prepare. This just isn’t helping you to save money, it also helps you to stick to your weight loss plan as you can prepare and schedule your meals around your work and personal commitments. Once you have planned your meals and made the list of ingredients you need to buy, you can go to the supermarket and avoid the temptation to buy fatty and unhealthy foods.

Find the Best Deals

Often the best way to save money is to shop around for the best deals on the items you usually buy. You may find that a competitor to the grocery store that you usually use has an offer on products that are on your shopping list. It makes sense to shop around, as even though it can take a little bit longer, it can save you a considerable amount of money. Use the internet to help you find deals on things like health and wellness products too before you head out to the shops.

Avoid Eating Out

By grabbing foods when you are out and about, your food bill can soon start adding up. You should avoid eating out wherever possible and instead eat the food that you have at home. While grabbing a small snack may not seem like a lot of money, at the end of each month you may be surprised at how much you have spent. Prepping and eating snacks at home not only saves on your budget but also

It is important that you don’t let the cost of healthy eating put you off or get in the way of you losing weight. Instead, by making simple and small changes, you may be surprised at how cheaply you can eat healthy foods and start achieving your weight loss dreams.

High Protein Oatmeal

If you are looking for a delicious and nutritious start to your morning, try this high protein oatmeal recipe to get you moving! It is loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy omegas for a rounded source of high-powered energy:

Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup water
1 scoop Whey Protein Isolate (approximately 30g)
1 tbsp ground flax seeds

Optional Ingredients
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup diced bananas
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp stevia
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Directions: Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large, microwave-safe container. Cover container with a paper towel or wax paper to prevent spilling. Microwave on High for approximately 2-4 minutes (depending on microwave). Add optional ingredients (if desired), stir, cool, and enjoy!

For a vegan alternative, you may also consider adding Pea Protein found in our Vegan Shakeology in place of the Whey Protein Isolate!

Nutritional Facts (approximated using Whey Protein Isolate)*:
1 Serving
Calories 461
Calories from Fat 72
Total Fat 8g
Total Carbohydrates 57g
Protein 42g

*Nutritional information provided does not include any of the optional ingredients for the protein pancakes.

**The above marketing messages have not been reviewed or approved by the FDA or the FTC.

A Beginner’s Guide to BCAAs

So you’ve committed to the life of gains, pushing through the pain, sweating before work and putting up weight after dinner. You’ve committed to elevating yourself to a level reserved for the truly dedicated, for those that don’t understand the term “off season.” Every serious athlete on the planet knows that supplements are essential to performing at an elite level, and finding a supplement program that can aid in recovery and enhance performance is crucial.

BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine), are essential amino acids that must be consumed through diet and are not produced naturally by our bodies. BCAAs are quickly becoming an essential part of most serious athlete’s supplementation programs, and for good reason as more and more research is showing the benefits of BCAA’s.

To get you started, we have highlighted four ways that BCAAs could benefit you and help you reach your goals faster.

1. Protein Synthesis

One of the key benefits of BCAAs is that they have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis. This not only helps in muscle gain, as BCAA’s are the building blocks of protein, which in turn are the building blocks of muscle and mass, but also aids recovery. This expedited recovery means you can get back into the gym faster after intense workouts.

2. Improves Endurance

When you push hard in the gym or out in the field, your body releases tryptophan into the brain, increasing serotonin levels and making you feel tired. BCAAs actually compete with the tryptophan and can lead to longer and more intense workouts. Going longer and stronger only means bigger gains and ultimately increased energy.

3. Helps Maintain Muscle Mass

There’s a plethora of reasons for dieting, from trying to slim for a fit comp to trying to drop some weight pre-beach season. However, for serious bodybuilders, losing muscle mass through catabolic dieting is less than ideal. When you are both dieting and training, your body looks for energy that is generally stored in fat cells. When you cut fat out, your body turns to muscle for fuel during even moderate exercise. By stimulating protein synthesis, you can counteract the effects of protein breakdown, which means that you can lose weight without losing a significant amount of muscle mass.

4. Supports Immune System

When you are consistently pushing your body, you are consistently putting stress on your immune system. Without adequate supplementation, you can may actually increase your risk of illness. By supplementing with the adequate amount of BCAAs, you’re aiding immune system function, especially in those over 35, who are naturally seeing decreased protein synthesis due to aging.

So if you’re looking for a no BS source of the purest BCAAs on the planet, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our complete performance line here.

Yours in Health,

Courtney

The 12 Best Foods to Eat in the Morning

Despite what you may have heard, eating breakfast isn’t necessary for everyone.

In fact, skipping breakfast may be better than eating unhealthy breakfast foods.

However, a nutritious, well-balanced breakfast can give you energy and prevent you from eating too much during the rest of the day.

Here are the 12 best foods you can eat in the morning.

1. Eggs

Eggs are undeniably healthy and delicious.

Studies have shown that eating eggs at breakfast increases feelings of fullness, reduces calorie intake at the next meal and helps maintain steady blood sugar and insulin levels (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source3Trusted Source).

In one study, men who ate eggs for breakfast felt more satisfied and took in fewer calories during the rest of the day than those who consumed a bagel (3Trusted Source).

Additionally, egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help prevent eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration (4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, a very important nutrient for brain and liver health (6Trusted Source).

Though high in cholesterol, eggs don’t raise cholesterol levels in most people.

In fact, eating whole eggs may reduce heart disease risk by modifying the shape of “bad” LDL cholesterol, increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and improving insulin sensitivity (7Trusted Source8Trusted Source).

What’s more, three large eggs provide about 20 grams of high-quality protein (9).

Eggs are also very versatile. For example, hard-boiled eggs make a great portable breakfast that can be prepared ahead of time.

2. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is creamy, delicious and nourishing.

It’s made by straining whey and other liquid from milk curds, which produces a creamier yogurt that is more concentrated in protein.

Protein has been shown to reduce feelings of hunger and has a higher thermic effect than fat or carbs (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source).

The term “thermic effect” refers to the increase in metabolic rate that occurs after eating.

Yogurt and other dairy products can also help with weight control because they increase levels of hormones that promote fullness, including PYY and GLP-1 (10Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

What’s more, full-fat yogurt contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may increase fat loss and decrease breast cancer risk (13Trusted Source14Trusted Source).

Certain types of Greek yogurt are good sources of probiotics like Bifidobacteria, which help your gut stay healthy (15).

To make sure your yogurt contains probiotics, look for the phrase “contains live and active cultures” on the label.

Try topping Greek yogurt with berries or chopped fruit to increase your meal’s vitamin, mineral and fiber content.

SUMMARYGreek yogurt is high in protein, helps reduce appetite and may aid weight loss. Certain types also contain beneficial probiotics.

3. Coffee

Coffee is an amazing beverage to start your day.

It’s high in caffeine, which has been shown to improve mood, alertness and mental performance.

Even small amounts of caffeine can achieve these effects (16Trusted Source1718).

An analysis of 41 studies found the most effective dose to be 38–400 mg per day to maximize the benefits of caffeine while reducing side effects (18).

This is roughly 0.3 to 4 cups of coffee per day, depending on the coffee’s strength (18).

Caffeine has also been shown to increase metabolic rate and fat burning. In one study, 100 mg of caffeine per day helped people burn an extra 79–150 calories over a 24-hour period (1920Trusted Source).

In addition, coffee is rich in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation, protect the cells lining your blood vessels and decrease diabetes and liver disease risk (21Trusted Source22Trusted Source23Trusted Source24Trusted Source25).

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4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is the best breakfast choice for cereal lovers.

It’s made from ground oats, which contain a unique fiber called oat beta-glucan. This fiber has many impressive health benefits, including reduced cholesterol (26Trusted Source27Trusted Source).

What’s more, oat beta-glucan is a viscous fiber that promotes feelings of fullness. One study found that it increased levels of the fullness hormone PYY and that higher doses had the greatest effect (28Trusted Source29Trusted Source30Trusted Source).

Oats are also rich in antioxidants, which protect their fatty acids from becoming rancid. These antioxidants may also benefit heart health and decrease blood pressure (3132Trusted Source33Trusted Source).

Though oats don’t contain gluten, they’re often processed in the same facilities as gluten-containing grains. Researchers have found that most oats are indeed contaminated with other grains, especially barley (34Trusted Source).

Therefore, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should choose oats that have been certified as gluten-free.

Bear in mind that one cup (235 grams) of cooked oatmeal contains only about 6 grams of protein, which won’t provide the benefits of a higher-protein breakfast (35).

To boost the protein content of an oatmeal breakfast, prepare it with milk instead of water or serve it with a side of eggs or a piece of cheese.

5. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are extremely nutritious and one of the best sources of fiber around.

In fact, one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds provides an impressive 11 grams of fiber per serving (36).

What’s more, a portion of the fiber in chia seeds is viscous fiber, which absorbs water, increasing the volume of food moving through your digestive tract and helping you feel full and satisfied (3738Trusted Source39Trusted Source).

In a small, 12-week study, people with diabetes who ate chia seeds experienced reduced hunger, along with improvements in blood sugar and blood pressure (39Trusted Source).

Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants, which protect your cells from unstable molecules called free radicals that are produced during metabolism (40Trusted Source4142Trusted Source).

In another study of people with diabetes, chia seeds decreased the inflammatory marker CRP by 40%. Elevated CRP is a major risk factor for heart disease (43Trusted Source).

However, one serving of chia seeds provides only about 4 grams of protein, which may not be optimal for breakfast (36).

Here is a recipe for chia pudding that contains more than 25 grams of protein.

High-Protein Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce (28 grams) of dried chia seeds.
  • 1 scoop of whey protein powder.
  • 1 cup (240 ml) of coconut milk or almond milk.
  • Half a cup of berries.
  • Stevia or another sweetener to taste, if desired.

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour.

6. Berries

Berries are delicious and packed with antioxidants.

Popular types include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.

They’re lower in sugar than most fruits, yet higher in fiber.

In fact, raspberries and blackberries each provide an impressive 8 grams of fiber per cup or 120 and 145 grams, respectively (4445).

What’s more, one cup of berries contains only 50–85 calories depending on the type.

Berries also pack antioxidants called anthocyanins, which protect your heart and may help you age better (46Trusted Source47Trusted Source).

Berries have been shown to reduce markers of inflammation, prevent blood cholesterol from oxidizing and keep the cells lining your blood vessels healthy (48Trusted Source49Trusted Source50Trusted Source51Trusted Source).

A good way to add berries to your breakfast is to eat them with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.

7. Nuts

Nuts are tasty, satisfying and nutritious.

They’re a great addition to your breakfast, as they’re filling and help prevent weight gain (52Trusted Source53Trusted Source).

Even though nuts are high in calories, studies suggest you don’t absorb all the fat in them.

In fact, your body only absorbs about 129 calories of a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of almonds (54Trusted Source55Trusted Source56Trusted Source).

This may be true for some other nuts as well, though at this time only almonds have been tested.

Furthermore, nuts have been shown to improve heart disease risk factors, reduce insulin resistance and decrease inflammation (57Trusted Source58Trusted Source59Trusted Source60Trusted Source61Trusted Source62Trusted Source63Trusted Source).

All types of nuts are also high in magnesium, potassium and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

What’s more, Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium — just two Brazil nuts provide more than 100% of the recommended daily intake (64Trusted Source).

Nuts are also beneficial for people with diabetes. In one study, replacing a portion of carbs with 2 ounces (56 grams) of nuts led to reduced blood sugar and cholesterol levels (65Trusted Source).

Topping Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or oatmeal with 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts provides crunch and flavor while increasing your breakfast’s nutritional value.

You can find a great selection of nuts here.

8. Green Tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.

It contains caffeine, which improves alertness and mood, along with raising metabolic rate (16Trusted Source1920Trusted Source).

Green tea provides only 35–70 mg of caffeine per cup, which is about half the amount in coffee.

Green tea may be especially helpful against diabetes. A review of 17 studies found that green tea drinkers had reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels (66Trusted Source).

It also contains an antioxidant known as EGCG, which may protect your brain, nervous system and heart from damage (67Trusted Source68Trusted Source69Trusted Source70Trusted Source).

9. Protein Shake or Meal Replacement

Another great way to start your day is with a protein shake or smoothie. I prefer using my superfood shake as it has the equivalent of about 10 cups of vegetables in each serving. This keeps me full and kicks my cravings for sweets and snacks.

Several types of protein powder can be used, including whey, egg, soy and pea protein.

However, whey protein is absorbed most quickly by your body (71Trusted Source).

Whey has also been studied the most and provides several health benefits. Additionally, it seems to reduce appetite more than other forms of protein (72Trusted Source73Trusted Source74Trusted Source).

One study comparing four high-protein meals found that the whey protein meal reduced appetite the most and led to the lowest calorie intake at the next meal (74Trusted Source).

In addition, whey protein can help lower blood sugar levels when consumed as part of a carb-containing meal. It can also preserve muscle mass during weight loss and aging (75Trusted Source76Trusted Source77Trusted Source).

Regardless of the type of protein powder used, a high-protein shake can be satisfying and filling. Add fruits, greens, nut butter or seeds to provide fiber and antioxidants.

Check out what makes Shakeology so different HERE

SUMMARYA protein shake or smoothie is a great high-protein breakfast choice that promotes fullness and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

10. Fruit

Fruit can be a delicious part of a nourishing breakfast.

All types of fruit contain vitamins, potassium, fiber and are relatively low in calories. One cup of chopped fruit provides about 80–130 calories, depending on the type.

Citrus fruits are also very high in vitamin C. In fact, one large orange provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C (78).

Fruit is also very filling due to its high fiber and water contents (79Trusted Source).

Pair fruit with eggs, cheese, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt for a well-balanced breakfast that will sustain you for hours.

11. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are incredibly healthy.

They’re rich in viscous fiber, which helps you feel full for several hours after eating (38Trusted Source39Trusted Source).

Flaxseeds may also improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels, as well as protect against breast cancer (80Trusted Source81Trusted Source82Trusted Source83Trusted Source).

Two tablespoons (14 grams) of ground flaxseeds contain 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber (84).

Try adding flaxseeds to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or a smoothie to increase the fiber and antioxidant content of your breakfast.

Just make sure to choose ground flaxseeds or grind them yourself, because whole flaxseeds can’t be absorbed by your gut and will simply pass through your system.

12. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a fantastic breakfast food.

It’s high in protein, which increases metabolism, produces feelings of fullness and decreases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source85Trusted Source).

In fact, cottage cheese has been shown to be as filling and satisfying as eggs (86Trusted Source).

Full-fat cottage cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may promote weight loss (13Trusted Source).

One cup of cottage cheese provides an impressive 25 grams of protein (87).

Add berries and ground flaxseeds or chopped nuts to make it even more nutritious.

The Bottom Line

Whether or not you eat breakfast is a personal choice. I have done intermittent fasting and also eaten breakfast every morning and for me personally, I would much rather have that quick energy from my breakfast to get me going.

Despite what you may have been told as a child, skipping breakfast does not necessarily have negative effects, as long as you eat a balanced diet throughout your day.

If you do eat in the morning, make sure to start your day off right by fueling your body with the healthy and nutrient-dense foods outlined in this article.

8 Simple and Healthy Salad Dressings

There’s no doubt that salad can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet.

Unfortunately, most store-bought dressings are brimming with added sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavorings that can diminish the potential health benefits of your salad.

Making your own salad dressing at home is an easy and cost-effective alternative to store-bought varieties.

Furthermore, it can give you better control of what you’re putting on your plate.

Here are 8 simple and healthy salad dressings that you can make at home.

1. Sesame ginger

This simple salad dressing doubles as an easy marinade for meat, poultry, or roasted veggies.

It’s also easy to make using ingredients you likely already have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice vinegar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) freshly minced ginger

Directions

  1. Whisk together the olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, and rice vinegar.
  2. Add the minced garlic and ginger and stir together until combined.

NUTRITION FACTS

A 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving contains the following nutrients (12345):

  • Calories: 54
  • Protein: 0.2 grams
  • Carbs: 3.5 grams
  • Fat: 4.5 grams

2. Balsamic vinaigrette

With just five basic ingredients, balsamic vinaigrette is one of the easiest homemade salad dressings to prepare in a pinch.

It has a sweet yet savory flavor that works well in just about any salad, making it one of the most versatile options available.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Combine the balsamic vinegar with the Dijon mustard and minced garlic.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil while continuing to stir the mixture.
  3. Season with a bit of salt and pepper prior to serving to give the flavor a quick boost.

NUTRITION FACTS

A 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving contains the following nutrients (1678):

  • Calories: 166
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 1 gram
  • Fat: 18 grams

3. Avocado lime

Creamy, cool, and refreshing, this avocado lime dressing works great on salads or served as a tasty dip for fresh veggies.

Avocado is a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and may help boost your HDL (good) cholesterol levels (910Trusted Source).

Ingredients

  • avocado, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (5 grams) cilantro
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Add the avocado chunks to a food processor along with the Greek yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and minced garlic.
  2. Top with a bit of salt and pepper and then pulse until the mixture reaches a smooth, thick consistency.

NUTRITION FACTS

A 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving contains the following nutrients (189111213):

  • Calories: 75
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 2.5 grams
  • Fat: 7 grams

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4. Lemon vinaigrette

This tart, tasty salad dressing is a great choice to help brighten up your favorite salads and vegetable dishes.

It works especially well for simple salads that need a bit of extra zing, thanks to its zesty citrus flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (7 grams) honey or maple syrup
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Whisk the olive oil and fresh lemon juice together.
  2. Mix in honey or maple syrup for a bit of sweetness.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

NUTRITION FACTS

A 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving contains the following nutrients (11415):

  • Calories: 128
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Fat: 13.5 grams

5. Honey mustard

This creamy homemade dressing has a slightly sweet flavor that’s ideal for adding a bit of depth and rounding out your favorite savory salads.

It also works well as a dipping sauce for sweet potato fries, appetizers, and fresh veggies.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (83 grams) Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (102 grams) honey
  • 1/3 cup (78 ml) olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Whisk the Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and honey together.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil while continuing to stir.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

NUTRITION FACTS

A 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving contains the following nutrients (171516):

  • Calories: 142
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 13.5 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams

6. Greek yogurt ranch

Versatile, creamy, and delicious, ranch dressing is one of the most popular salad dressings available.

In this homemade alternative, Greek yogurt gives a healthy twist to this tasty condiment. This version works well as a dipping sauce or dressing.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (285 grams) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 grams) garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.2 grams) onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (0.5 grams) dried dill
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of salt
  • fresh chives, chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Stir together the Greek yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried dill.
  2. Add a dash of cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Garnish with fresh chives before serving (optional).

NUTRITION FACTS

A 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving contains the following nutrients (11171819):

  • Calories: 29
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 2 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams

7. Apple cider vinaigrette

Apple cider vinaigrette is a light and tangy dressing that can help balance the bitterness of leafy greens like kale or arugula.

Plus, drizzling this apple cider vinaigrette over your favorite salads is an easy way to squeeze in a serving of apple cider vinegar, a powerful ingredient loaded with health benefits.

In particular, some studies have shown that apple cider vinegar may reduce blood sugar levels and lower triglyceride levels (20Trusted Source21Trusted Source).

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (78 ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (7 grams) honey
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Combine the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
  2. Add the Dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

NUTRITION FACTS

A 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving contains the following nutrients (17141516):

  • Calories: 113
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 1 gram
  • Fat: 12 grams

8. Ginger turmeric

This ginger turmeric dressing can help add a pop of color to your plate.

It has a zesty flavor that can complement bean salads, mixed greens, or veggie bowls.

It also features both ginger and turmeric, two ingredients that have been associated with several health benefits.

For example, ginger may help reduce nausea, relieve muscle pain, and decrease your blood sugar levels (22Trusted Source23Trusted Source24Trusted Source).

Meanwhile, turmeric contains curcumin, a compound well studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (25Trusted Source).

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (7 grams) honey (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and ground ginger.
  2. To enhance the flavor, you can add a bit of honey for sweetness.

NUTRITION FACTS

A 2-tablespoon (30-ml) serving contains the following nutrients (115162627):

  • Calories: 170
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 2.5 grams
  • Fat: 18 grams

The bottom line

Many healthy and nutritious salad dressings can easily be made at home.

The dressings above are packed with flavor and made from simple ingredients that you probably already have sitting on your shelves.

Try experimenting with these dressings and swapping them in for store-bought varieties in your favorite salads, side dishes, and appetizers.

Happy eating xoxo

What Do You Think ALL Autoimmune Diseases Have In Common?

More and more people are being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. These diseases can destroy healthy cells and cause abnormal organ growth and serious dysfunctions.

There are over 80 different autoimmune disorders. Some of the more common conditions include:

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Addison’s disease

Celiac disease

Graves’ disease

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Pernicious anemia

Rheumatoid arthritis

Systemic lupus

Type 1 diabetes

Autoimmune diseases manifest with a wide variety of debilitating symptoms that can affect the blood vessels, connective tissue, endocrine glands, joints, muscles, red blood cells and skin.

For many of you that are suffering with autoimmune conditions, you already know that the body can fluctuate between remission and flare-ups. One day you’ll feel great and the next day you’ll feel as if you’ve been hit by a Mack truck!

Folks suffering with autoimmune conditions often have some similar complaints:

  • General fatigue
  • Chronic low-grade fever
  • Overall malaise (ill feeling)
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes

In modern medical medicine, there is no known cure for any autoimmune disorders. The medical protocol includes subduing the immune system to control the autoimmune response and to suppress the symptoms.

Dr. Mark Hyman warns, “Using anti-inflammatories like Advil, or steroids, or immune suppressants like methotrexate, or TNF alpha blockers like Enbrel can lead to intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depression, psychosis, osteoporosis, muscle loss, diabetes, not to mention overwhelming infection and cancer.”[1]

Modern medical treatments for autoimmune conditions can create even more problems than the disease itself.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.”[2]

I’m going to suggest that this attack is NOT a mistake. The body is designed perfectly. If the body is attacking itself there must be a valid reason for it. This is the ONE thing ALL autoimmune conditions have in common: the body’s immune system is attacking it’s own cells, organs and glands.

But why?

Why would the body attack healthy cells and try to destroy them as if they were foreign invaders?

The first thing to consider is that maybe those cells are not as “healthy” as we think.

Your food becomes your blood and your blood feeds and creates all of your cells. If your food is doused with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemicals, those foods (and chemicals) are going to be absorbed by your body on a cellular level. That means those chemicals are becoming your blood and eventually will become your cells. Make no mistake about it, the chemicals sprayed onto our food supply are dangerous. They are considered a threat to the health and functioning of the human body, and yes, your immune system will attack cells made from those chemicals! It is NOT making a mistake.

Another aspect to consider is intestinal permeability, or Leaky Gut. The digestive system is a key component in dealing with autoimmune conditions. If the gut is not toned and healthy, tiny food particles can leak into the body without going through the proper digestive channels first. Once again, the immune system will attack those foreign particles. It is NOT making a mistake.

A third consideration could be that the digestive system and body as a whole, is overwhelmed with viruses and bacteria. Those pathogens are inhabiting your bodily tissues and affecting your health on a cellular level as well. It’s one of the reasons why I recommend specific anti-viral herbs and “de-bugging protocol.” You can read more about that here: Got Parasites?

There’s a LOT to consider when it comes to healing autoimmune conditions.

Here’s a recap of my top 3 things you can do to support your body and heal an autoimmune condition naturally:

  1. Eat Organic, Non-GMO, Naturally Raised Foods – always remember, “You are what you eat.” If your food is doused with dangerous chemicals, your blood and cells will become toxic particles, and your body will attack. Eat clean!
  2. Heal Your Gut! – If your digestive system is weak, leaky, and highly permeable, you’re setting yourself up for an all out war from your immune system. There are many ways to start healing your gut; drink bone stock, use astringent herbs to tone and tighten the intestines, and demulcent herbs to soothe inflammation. Glutamine and probiotics are another way to keep things working correctly. Plus incorporate stress-free eating behaviors so you can actually digest the food you are eating.
  3. Get the Bugs Out – Many folks with autoimmune conditions have underlying infections caused by excessive bacterial overgrowth, worms, viruses and other pathogens that make their way into your body and set up house. As these pathogens discover all of the great places they can thrive in your body (blood, bones, cells, glands, organs), your immune system will attack them.

It’s time to stop the suffering and start living again!

[1] http://drhyman.com/blog/2015/07/24/10-strategies-to-reverse-autoimmune-disease/

[2] https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000816.htm

Living with Thyroid Disease – an Invisible Illness

Thyroid disease is quite common, although many people live with the symptoms for years before they are diagnosed. The thyroid is a small butterfly gland in the neck. It may be small, but it has a big influence on the body. The problem with having thyroid disease is that on the outside, you look perfectly normal; to anyone who doesn’t know you, you will appear to be your normal self, however, what your body exhibits on the inside is very different.

When something is wrong with the thyroid gland, it means that the gland is either underactive or overactive. Both cause many symptoms, but because the symptoms are vague, it can take a while before you get a proper diagnosis. There are around 250 different symptoms of thyroid disease. These include extreme fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, dry skin, gut problems, sleep disorders, mental health issues, and more. The main concern is getting doctors to recognize that you have a problem.

A Lack of Medical Expertise

The majority of doctors don’t have much knowledge on thyroid disease. They do see patients with it, but aside from the basics, they know very little about the mysterious thyroid gland. They use a blood test to diagnose the condition, but many fail to take into account the fact that the thyroid has far-reaching effects on other body systems. For example, most people with a thyroid problem have associated gut problems. They are also very likely to be deficient in key vitamins and minerals because these are not absorbed in the way they should be.

The Symptoms of Thyroid Disorders

If you are seriously ill, you might look for urgent care in your area, where a doctor will examine you and make a diagnosis. Many people with thyroid disease end up seriously ill, yet they are sent home and given all kinds of diagnoses for different disorders because their doctor doesn’t have an understanding of what is wrong with them. Several people are often misdiagnosed with depression and giving prescriptions that should not have been introduced.

Some of the main symptoms to look out for are weight gain, tiredness, temperature sensitivities, muscle weakness and aches, brittle nails and hair, and changes to your periods. If you think you may be suffering from a thyroid disorder, point this out to your doctor.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly, often over several years. At first, you may feel tired and sluggish. Later, you may develop other signs and symptoms of a slowed-down metabolism, including:

  • Feeling cold when other people do not
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight gain, even though you are not eating more food
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Feeling very tired
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Dry, thinning hair
  • Slow heart rate
  • Less sweating than usual
  • A puffy face
  • A hoarse voice
  • More than usual menstrual bleeding

You also may have high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which can raise your risk for heart disease.

No Sympathy

It’s even worse for people with unsympathetic family members, who see you struggling to get up and complete your chores, or go to work, and assume you are just lazy and unmotivated. They may advise you to go on a diet or start exercising more, but ultimately this may make you feel even worse without seeing the effects. There is no tired like a thyroid tired. Exhaustion….it takes everything out of you. Simple tasks of light housework or even showering are daunting some days. I have fought it for about 5 years now and it is still a daily struggle. Luckily the superfoods I use and the diet I follow allow my body to perform better, even with the thyroid disease.

The only way to solve many of these problems is to research your symptoms and educate yourself about the thyroid. Thanks to the internet, there are some amazing resources out there. There are also some amazing communities who are more than happy to offer support and advice when nobody else will listen. Integrative and functional medicine physicians understand the background and the additional support and testing needed. Endocrinologists also specialize in thyroid disorders.

Don’t be dismayed if your doctor or family refuses to listen. Be your own advocate – knowledge is power.

How Pressure to Perform Leads to Alcoholism in Women

Studies are showing that alcohol consumption is on the rise among women in the US, and shockingly, it is on the decline among men. The rise in alcohol abuse is found to be more acute among professional women who are working in high profile jobs and often find themselves in situations where they are unable to deny a social drink.

This is how it all starts. Collegial boozing is turning into a difficult situation that many women face. Add to the fact that some of them also have to take care of their homes and the pressure and responsibilities add up. This leads to substance abuse and more alcohol. No wonder women’s alcohol rehab centers are becoming such a prevalent treatment option.

Dual Roles

Women are under a lot of pressure due to the dual responsibilities that they are facing both at home as well as at the office. With an increasing number of women choosing jobs with high salaries and perks, there comes this pressure that is leading them to often use alcohol as a way to relieve stress.

Women Face Greater Danger From Alcohol

According to a study, this news is very concerning because women are at a greater risk than men when it comes to alcohol-related health issues like liver inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, neurotoxicity, and cancer.

Binge Drinking Culture

Datamonitor conducted a study and published its report in the newspaper that said that binge drinking among women is on the rise. This is true especially for younger women and middle-class women.

Opportunities

Other studies show that women who are working in offices are more likely to abuse alcohol as they have easier access to alcohol when compared to women who are primarily homemakers. Society is also warming up to the idea of women sharing a drink with men after work hours. The study also claims that these reasons are responsible for the rise of alcohol consumption among women.

The pay gap between men and women is decreasing and with women shouldering equal responsibilities, they feel the need or the urge to consume alcohol. Sometimes they have to do it to oblige their colleagues or seniors, sometimes they feel the urge to do it and then they are addicted to it. There comes a phase when they need to do it in order to feel relieved of all the stress that comes with shouldering the responsibility and the pressure. It becomes their crutch, their way to disassociate with the hectic circle of stress surrounding them.

“In the United States, males drink more often and more heavily than females, consuming greater than twice as much alcohol per year (18 liters of pure alcohol for males, 7.8 liters for females),” the NIAAA team in journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Usually, men are considered to be the heavy drinkers. Men are also known to drink more frequently than the fairer sex. But things are changing fast. The number of women arrested for drunk driving rose by 30 percent during the last nine years.

Sense of parity

A lot of women also consider consuming equal amount of alcohol and consuming it as frequently as men as a sign on parity. They believe that they have an equal right to do so and with unequal pay level and social status between men and women diminishing, sometimes women indulge in alcohol to prove a point. While this is not always a case, sadly sometimes it is.

Women are more vulnerable than men when it comes to the side effects of toxins that enter the body when they consume alcohol. Woman are smaller than men normally and their body cannot handle the same amount of alcohol.

Depression

There are women who consume alcohol as a way to fight depression. There are so many reasons why a person and particularly women can go into depression: Untimely death of a near and dear one, work pressure, pressure at home, kids, abuse, marital issues and the list continues. These women are more vulnerable and when they are vulnerable, it is easy to get sidetracked and lose the sense of right and wrong. Alcohol seems like an easy option.

When compared to the last few decades, more and more women are now joining rehab clinics in order to get rid of their alcohol habit. It is critical to find better and creative ways to fight depression and pressure rather than give in to alcohol and late night parties. There are better and healthier ways to fight the world. Working out is a solid example of how to defeat stress. Therapy is an amazing resource to talk without feeling judged. If you aren’t able to speak with a counselor, check with your pastor, a friend, or someone you trust. There is absolutely no shame in admitting you need help.

Tips for Exercising with Incontinence

Incontinence can be a nightmare, especially at the gym. When you have problematic bladder leaks, you could accidentally wet yourself during a hard workout, running up the stairs, even doing a sit up. Sister…no judgement here! I have battled this since my youngest was born and he is now 12.

Instead of letting that fickle bladder keep you from exercising, check out the following tips for going to the gym if you suffer from incontinence:

Don’t Wear Adult Diapers

Do not show up or get on the treadmill wearing an adult diaper. These are not designed to withstand that type of physical movement. When you exercise, you will sweat (a lot), causing the diaper to become heavy and uncomfortable. Worse, diapers can cause some serious chafing.

It’s important to wear comfortable, breathable clothing during exercise. Doing so can prevent serious skin lesions that will require special bandages from wound care. Therefore, ditch the diapers if you plan on doing exercises that require lower body movement and opt for something like Poise pads. These are designed to catch leaks and keep you dry but in the size of a maxi pad and not a full on diaper. They also make inserts that are styled like a tampon and can also catch leaks. If you have more than a sprinkle when you jump or bear down pressure, I would check out both. I personally used them teaching aerobics and it saved me so much embarrassment.

Avoid Excessive Caffeine Beforehand

Do not consume numerous caffeinated drinks before your workout. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to urinate. Diuretics can make a condition like urinary incontinence much worse. So, avoid caffeine as much as possible. It’s important to stay hydrated during and after your workout. Drink water to avoid dehydration. Sodas and energy drinks contain caffeine and sugar along with other chemicals that can make you need to go more frequently. Also, if you feel the slightest urge to pee, immediately go to the bathroom. Continuing with movement will often lead to a wet area in your nether region.

Work Bathroom Trips into Your Regimen

Plan to take frequent bathrooms breaks in between your sessions. This will prevent unwanted “accidents” during sessions. Considering the severity of your incontinence, plan to take a bathroom break every 10 or 20 minutes. If you are on the treadmill for 30 minutes, for example, take a bathroom break before moving on to the next session. When you go to a new class, always find out where the closest restroom is should an emergency come about. If you have just finished with arms and moving to ab work, you should go empty your bladder so the strain doesn’t push more urine out.

The above tips will help you manage your incontinence much better during exercise. Your condition has a good chance for improvement as you continue to regular exercise. As we continue to build our abdominal muscles, it can help to strengthen the muscles around the bladder to help hold it up some. As a mom of two large boys….I know that having a 10 pound bowling ball on your bladder for weeks can do some damage. Most importantly, don’t let this hold you back. We are all aware of it and as an instructor, I have seen it so many times. Don’t ever feel like you are being judged either. I have pissed my pants more as a grown woman than as a child LOL! Go out and enjoy that cardio session, jump a little higher, push a little further.