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1

Benefits of Organic Food: Did You Know…?

Like many of you, I prefer organic food to industrial; made-from-scratch to processed. I will freely admit to being biased. Yet my preference is based on science and experience. Whether you have a strong opinion for or against organic, or just don’t care one way or the other, you may be interested in these tidbits I picked up at a meeting last week at the Natural Products Expo West.

organic milk photo: Milk milk.jpgOrganic milk has nutritional advantages over conventional – In a meta-analysis of 170 published studies, researchers found that organic milk had 56% higher healthy omega-3 fatty acid levels than conventional milk. The study, led by Carlo Leifert of Newcastle University, also found that organic dairy provides other health benefits such as higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (why do I always think of French verbs when I hear the word “conjugated”?), iron, carotenoids, and Vitamin E. The milk in this study is bovine, not plant-based.

Switching from a conventional 2 #organic diet reduced pesticides in children in just 7 days.… Click To Tweet

An organic diet can reduce exposure to some pesticides – According to a study run by UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (along with U of Maryland’s Institute for Applied Environmental Health & Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, 40 Mexican-American children living in agricultural and urban communities in California reduced their exposure to some pesticides by switching to an organic diet. The two highlights of this study are that a number of the children reside in agricultural communities, and that the improvements were seen after only a week. “An organic diet was significantly associated with reduced urinary concentrations of nonspecific dimethyl OP insecticide metabolites and the herbicide 2,4-D in children.”

honeybee flower photo: Honeybee DSC_7638.jpgNeonicotinoids pose a high risk to the bee population – Wonder what a neonicotinoid is? Notice how it seems like the word “nicotine” is in the middle of the word? From the Oxford Dictionary: “Any of a class of synthetic compounds having a chemical structure similar to that of nicotine and related alkaloids, used as systemic insecticides on plants and as topical or systemic insecticides on animals.” All you need to remember is BAD. The bee population has been decimated over the past few years, and a lot of scientific data suggest a link to neonicotinoid pesticides use. Want some GOOD? “The presence of native habitat in close proximity to farms may sfeguard wild bees from the negative effects of pesticide use.”

If you want to focus on a few veggies and fruits that are most affected by pesticide, these are the dirty dozen:

Apples
Celery
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumbers
Grapes
Nectarines
Peaches
Potatoes
Snap peas
Spinach
Strawberries
Sweet bell peppers

And if you are budget-conscious (aren’t we all?), this chart may help you see that the costs of organic vs conventional are quite similar.chart comparing organic and conventional

Alexandra Williams, MA

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8

5 More Healthy Food Trends

In our recent post “5 Healthy Food Trends,”  I listed five of ten nutrition trends that are driven by consumer preferences. As promised in that post, you can now read the other five from my article “10 Nutrition Trends to Watch,” for IDEA Fitness Journal.

I’ve excerpted from that article below, and if you want access to the full piece, please contact IDEA – the health and fitness association – at 800 999-IDEA.

superfood hemp in cerealSuperfoods
What do moringa, hemp, algae, purple corn, red palm oil, reishi mushrooms, turmeric and maca root have in common? They have joined blueberries, cinnamon and ginger root as must-have superfoods.

High in antioxidant and vitamin content, these health-promoting foods have passed $130 billion in sales. At the recent Natural Products Expo it was common to find people at booths tasting moringa protein drinks, turmeric rice, ginger hummus, and purple corn cereal.

Gluten-Free
Twenty percent of Americans say they actively try to eat gluten-free foods in their diets, and sales of gluten-free foods increased by 63% between 2012 and 2014. According to the poll, “Far more U.S. adults say they actively try to include gluten-free foods in their diets than actually suffer from celiac disease.” People with celiac disease or wheat allergies have to eat a gluten-free diet, as they cannot tolerate gliadin and glutenin, the two proteins found in gluten.organic gluten free sprouted popcorn. member of Organic Trade Association

Sugar Substitutes
Sweets will probably never go out of style, but sweeteners sometimes do. The demand for “natural” plant–based sweeteners is currently driving the market, and a few have moved up to the front row lately. Monk fruit, stevia leaf, and erythritol are just three substitutes rocketing up in popularity.

Wine is 1 of 5 healthy food trends. Are the other 4 as intriguing? Click To Tweet

Wine
You might say wine has always been in style, yet recent research about resveratrol has made red wines even more popular. Some preliminary research also shows that resveratrol can prolong life for mice and pigs, although this benefit has not been tested in people. Other research shows that it can help prevent heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes—all diseases of great importance to the market drivers, Boomers. Besides, WINE!!!

Other Beverages
Combinations that would have been considered “weird” a few years ago are now found in refrigerators everywhere. For example, Uncle Matt’s Organic Juice now has orange turmeric juice, while REBBL makes tonics and elixirs such as ashwagandha chai and reishi chocolate coconut milk. Bulletproof and nitro cold-brew coffee are amping people up, bone broth has moved from the soup bowl to the tea cup, drinks based on roots and trees (neem, anyone?) are vying with coconut milk for shelf space, and flavored kombucha is now mainstream. Bolthouse Farms has a new line of cold-pressed juices, and Orgain produces an organic cafe mocha nutritional shake with ingredients that include grass-fed milk proteins, brown rice syrup, sunflower oil, kale, beets and açai.

dandelion mocha teeccinoHaving just spent several days at the Natural Products Expo West, I am energized by the growth in demand for foods, products and services that help, not harm our health (both corporeal and environmental). Look for an upcoming post that focuses specifically on organic products. Some of the statistics will surprise (and alarm) you.

Alexandra Williams, MA

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8

5 Healthy Food Trends

Some say abs are made in the kitchen, others say they’re made in the gym. My abs were actually made by my parents, though I’ve managed to take good care of their creation through healthy food and exercise.

As I just had my article, “10 Nutrition Trends to Watch” published in IDEA Fitness Journal – the magazine for fitness professionals (you can call 800 999-IDEA to order a copy if you aren’t a member) – I thought I’d share five of those trends with you and a few excerpts from the feature.

plumsFoods for Healthy Aging and Brain Power
Confirmed links between food, aging and brain health have exploded over the past few years. In 2012, Americans spent about $30 billion on health supplements, so it’s obvious we want to improve (Lara 2014). Boomers are hitting retirement age and wanting to stay active, engaged and youthful, so it makes sense that this demographic superforce would look to food for help with that.

Local, Sustainable Foods
For many years, our access to food has been based on a global model in which food would travel long distances to arrive on our tables. Interestingly, as the world has become even more global thanks to the Internet, consumers have pushed for a system that returns to agrarian times—eating food that is grown and produced locally.

fruit and yogurt parfaitMilk Products
Weight-conscious consumers have shunned whole milk since the 1980s, so it may surprise some to learn that it’s making a comeback (Shanker 2015). Higher consumption of butter, cream and high-fat milk correlates to lower levels of central obesity (waist-to-hip ratio ?) (Kratz, Baars & Guyenet 2013). The resurgent interest in whole-milk products includes some staples and also some newcomers, such as creamy yogurt, savory yogurt (aka labneh), cheese, whey protein, quark and farmer’s cheese.

We're getting about 1/3 of our daily kcals from snacks. But are they healthy snacks? Click To Tweet

Rise of Online Healthy Food Boutique Memberships
From ready-made meals to single packages of paleo jerky treats, healthy foods are reaching consumers quickly from both national and local companies.
Thrive Market is a fairly new online marketplace that recruited more than 2 million registered users in 2015. It’s the fastest-?growing e-commerce company in the history of Los Angeles, and I myself shop at it. They give one free membership to a family in need for every paid membership, and I have a link for you in case you wish to join – you get 30 days for free.

logo for Thrive MarketHealthy Snacks
According to a recent survey, Americans are getting about one-quarter of their daily calories from snacks, and consumers are paying attention to the items they choose (USDA 2014). Not only are people more particular about their snacks; they’re also willing to try new things, including bottled, potable soups; meat snacks, especially if they bear the “grass-fed, hormone-free” label; and whole and sprouted grains in items ranging from hot cereals to raw protein bars. Cakes, candies, chips and cookies are still quite popular, yet a long-term shift toward healthier snacks has occurred (Conick 2015).

Stay tuned for a future post, when I’ll share the other five trends from the article. Till then, grab your turmeric and kale chips and go for a walk. Me, I’m off to make some popcorn with red palm oil, coconut oil, hemp seeds and salt. It’s really quite delicious.

Alexandra Williams, MA

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16

Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and Flexibility

Have a HeartYou probably have a heart, but is it a strong one? Do you also have great circulation and flexible arteries? Bonnie Raitt was right when she sang Have a Heart.

Hard to make that sound sexy and exciting. However, having a strong circulatory system and being flexible should be on the top of your “gotta have” list if you want to live a full, healthy life. If you are a woman over 45 (keep those genetic predispositions in mind too) you will especially need to focus on circulating better than a politician at a fundraiser!

Sure, you have a heart. But is it strong, flexible, and a good circulator? Click To Tweet

Circulation is the movement of fluid through the vessels of the body in a regular or circuitous course induced by the pumping action of the heart. Say what? When you have good circulation, blood can move to every cell in your body in less than 60 seconds. (And you can learn foods to eat to help your heart in fewer than 60 more seconds by checking out our post, “5 Age Defying Tips to ‘Youthen’ Your Heart and Improve Circulation.”)

How can you improve your circulation? Click To Tweet

What’s Killing Women?

Thinking of which, did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US? Or that the symptoms of a woman’s heart attack can differ drastically from men’s, so those signs often go unrecognized? We need to do better at spotting heart attacks in women AND take action to minimize heart disease in the first place. In other words, having good circulation not only can improve your life, but possibly also save it!Circulataory system

Notice how Bob Hoskins ends up at the ER in the Bonnie Raitt video clip? Did you notice what he was eating? Exactly!

How Can You Improve Your Circulation?

The three main ways you can help your circulatory system are to:

1) Exercise

    While many types of exercise help your overall awesomesauceness, walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health, according to the American Heart Association. For every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.

Let's get Flexible, Flexible2) Achieve good flexibility
Researchers have established a correlation between flexible bodies and flexible arteries in people older than 40. Can you touch your toes? If so, you probably have flexible arteries. Arterial stiffness indicates an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Being fit seems to delay the development of age-associated artery stiffening.

3) Intake healthy food and drink 
One of our favorite ways people can support their circulation is via cocoa flavanols. What can be better than finding out that a regular, small dose of dark chocolate helps your health. We’re all over that good news!

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In other, more expected news, you probably guessed that a diet rich in plant-based foods is also heart healthy.  This infographic has some specific foods to choose if you want a stronger heart and better circulation. (We differ on just two small points: 1) tomato has no “e” at the end and 2) egg yolks are no longer considered problematic.)

Infographic on foods to help hearts

Infographic provided courtesy of Veestro

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Photo credits: Heart collage:  qthomasbower; Circulatory system: Vivienne Balonwu

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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4

How Do I Get Healthy Habits to Stick?

Kymberly and Alexandra post bike ride

Healthy Habits Can Be Yours

Are you striving to stick with healthy habits? To say good-bye to some old ones and “come on in” to new, good ones? Aren’t we all? If you had the opportunity to easily and permanently change a few habits to improve your health and happiness would you be interested?

Starting vs Staying Power

No surprise that one of the biggest habits we get asked about as group fitness instructors is how to make exercise a regular part of life. And of course, it’s not just about STARTING a fitness program (especially in the new year), but also STICKING with it.

Hollywood Christmas ParadeOne of the key ways to successfully put more movement into your life this month, next, and throughout the year is to resist temptation to get fit all at once. Overdoing it and trying to progress too quickly is a sure way to set your new or improved habit up for failure. No one wants to face next year and say “last year I wanted to lose 20 pounds. Only 25 to go.”

Ok, seriously, the trick is to progress at a pace that allows you to convert desire into habit. What often happens:

  1. You’re super motivated.  You start an exercise program with energetic intent and full power. No results yet that you can see, but, hey, it’s only been a few days.
  2. You up the ante. If twice a week is good, thrice is better. If 30 minutes of exercise is doable, then 45 minutes will really get this new exercise regimen going. If the pace is comfortable, then you must not be pushing hard enough.
  3. Week three or so — your body aches; your muscles are sore; your schedule seems taken over by trips to the gym or basement exercise room.  And darn, but you still don’t see results. All this work, and it’s not working! Yet. Now.
  4. You get demotivated. Or injured. Or pulled back into your prior schedule because who can sustain such a big change?
When you are looking to improve your movement habits, keep in mind the FIT principle Click To Tweet

The FIT Principle

Kymberly's ABC class students. Photo by Dorothy Salvatori More healthy habits in action

Photo by Dorothy Salvatori

Every year eager baby boomers, active agers, mid lifers, and others take on too much, too fast, too intensely. They get hard hit, instead of a habit.

When you are looking to improve your movement habits, keep in mind the FIT principle:

  • F = Frequency.  How often are you working out?
  • I = Intensity. How hard are you willing to exercise?
  • T = Time. How long will your movement sessions last or total up to?

Make One Change at a Time

Make walking a daily habit as it leads to other healthy habitsChange only ONE of these elements at a time, about every two to three weeks. Going harder and longer and more often all at once is a statistical road to failure. Up the ante one letter at a time –  more F or I or T. No ands.

Let me repeat this as it’s so critical and so overlooked: As you progress into your new life of improved movement habits, change only the Frequency, Intensity, or Time of your workouts when you uptick. Stick with the revised version another 2-3 weeks. Then consider whether you need to adjust upward again by going more often, harder, or longer. Pick one. Add. Keep. Adapt. Repeat. A little bit more than the week before.

Sustainable and better for you! Sounds like a new food or vitamin. The FIT principle will help get and KEEP you fit. Next thing you know, you’ll have created a new, healthy, successful exercise habit.

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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9

10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Every year about this time we are asked for our “best” tips to avoid weight gain over the holiday season. So every year we share what we believe to be some simple and easy tips. As many of you know, simple is one thing; easy another, yet we have found these 10 tips to have a great success rate with our students, readers and even ourselves.

Ten Tips to Avoid Weight Gain

fountain at Rancho la Puerta1. Drink lots of water and green tea before the feast. You will feel full and less inclined to overeat.

2. Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories when dinner is served. By the time that occurs, you’re likely to be so hungry that you’ll overeat or choose whatever is closest.

3. Sort foods into 3 categories:

  • Food I love and will probably have two helpings of;
  • Food I like and will take just one helping of;
  • Food I don’t need to eat at all.

Planning and paying attention have a definite effect on how much you pile on your plate.

4. Use a salad plate instead of dinner plate. You’ll be inclined to eat less. Most of us are visually triggered, so we stop adding food once our plate looks full, regardless of plate size.

5. Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you once you’re done. Also, put food away right after you’ve finished dinner or you could end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. If you feel you’re being impolite, just say, “I’m putting stuff in the fridge now so I don’t feel tempted to overeat. Anyone who’s still hungry is more than welcome to help themselves.” Not only are you letting people know why you’re putting food away quickly, you’re also making yourself accountable by stating your goal to not overeat.
shadow of person on bridge
6. Use your mind to decide what matters. When loading your plate, ask yourself this question: “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” No right or wrong answer exists; it’s simply that the awareness of your choices will help you make a considered decision as you realize that you are in control, not the food.

7. Go for a walk. What better way to spend quality time with your family or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside?

walking is great exercise

Follow us to Tenaya (and our upcoming massage)

8. Invite guests to your meal whom you admire and respect. Or who wouldn’t otherwise have a friendly place to go celebrate. When the focus is on the guests rather than the food, we tend to eat less. If you have no-one outside of your usual circle to invite over, cook all your food, then take half of it to your local homeless shelter (if they accept outside meals).

9. Put reminders in places where you’ll actually see them – on the stove, in the fridge, on the storage containers, on your placemat. These reminders need to be positive in nature, not negative or they will only make you feel bad. For example, “You can do this” and “Remember your long term goals” are positive reminders. “Don’t even think about eating this” and “oink oink” are definitely negative. I don’t know anyone who responds well to negativity, do you?

10. Be kind to yourself. Maybe eating a few huge meals is what you want to do, and is no reflection on your usual habits. Maybe you are fine with doing extra cardio and weights as a balance. And maybe, just maybe, you are healthy and your weight is irrelevant. If you start feeling guilty, ask yourself if it’s for your own sake or because you feel you’ll be judged. At the end of the day (and the season), it’s your normal patterns and habits that matter, not a few meals. So be kind.
happy dog
What tips would you add to this list?

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23

Perfect Body Season is … Never In Season

Trying to lose weight over the holidays before you see any judgy relatives,  grandkids who want to play, or the crotchety old uncle who said you’d never amount to much? Fuggetaboutid! Give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love this season and revel in the ribald revelry of winter with some gusto, acceptance, and balance. Being “thin” was not always in. Being healthy and active (with good posture) is always in style. And hotter than mulled cider!

* See our series on the subject of how to assess, then improve your posture to look more fit. You are welcome!)

Body image & a perfect physique are matters of perspective, culture, history, & whatever… Click To Tweet

Health and beauty are inside jobs! Body image and a “perfect physique” are matters of perspective, culture, history, and whatever the mass media tells us.

Can you say “Mixed Messages?” Don’t believe us? Take a brief tour through past wistful wishes for va-va-voom figures. Look at what people were willing to do to achieve that “look du decade.”

Too Skinny, Men?

Hottie or Nottie?

Don’t make us talk about you years from now! Our gift to you as we wrap up — no, not gifts. We are not that organized! — Work the look you already have. Embrace it; Look it in the eye and say “Ell-bees – you and I are going into the New Year together baby, guilt- and stress-free!

Whoa now you Vixens, Dashers, and Red Nosed sorts! Don’t go overboard — or is that “oversleigh?” We said give yourself some body-lovin’ self-acceptance while staying active, not plunk down your hiney so finey!

Done with Exercise until 2016? Hope not.

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by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

 

 

Dried Plums: Your Grandma Was Right About Them

I’ve been working on a magazine article about the top healthy food trends for 2016, so this is a perfect time to team up with California Dried Plums, as people are finding so many creative ways to incorporate them into their snacks and meals.

plums Some super creative recipes are coming out of the nation’s most popular restaurants – from Gitane’s stuffed dried plums with goat cheese and prosciutto with a citrus gastrique to Russian restaurant Mari Vanna’s beet salad with walnuts and dried plums, and back west to San Francisco’s Q in San Francisco, where they take dried plums with red verjus and purée them with red wine vinegar, salt and Dijon mustard in its crudité appetizer.

Tasty Snack

My all time favorite dried plum treat is prune hamentaschen (yup, I’m old enough to go by the original name), but as Thanksgiving is coming, I decided to share this recipe for plumkins from the California Dried Plums Culinary site. It only takes 20 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook, so you can bet I’ll be bringing these to our holiday dinner.

California Dried Plum purée:
1 1/3 cups (about 8 ounces) pitted dried plums 6 tablespoons hot water. In food processor, process dried plums and water until puréed.

Plumkins:
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
2/3 cup California Dried Plum purée
¾ cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest
4 eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
½ cup California Dried Plums, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cloves

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together pumpkin purée, dried plum purée, sugar, oil, vanilla, orange zest and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Place paper muffin cups muffin tins. Fill 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Recipe created by Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN for the California Dried Plum Board.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 35Total Fat 1.1gCarbohydrate 5.6gProtein 0.5gFiber 0.7g

CA dried plums recipe for plumkins

Health and Bone Benefits

As I’m particular about what goes in my body (it’s the only one I’ve got, and it has to last), I also care about the benefits. Eat my way to health?! Well, sure, something like that.
Research suggests that eating two servings, (about 100grams or 10 to 12 dried plums), may improve bone mineral density (BMD) and slow the rate of bone turnover in post-menopausal women. As a Boomer, that is definitely important to me.

Vitamin K helps improve calcium balance and promotes bone mineralization. A 40gram serving of dried plums (4-5 prunes; about 100 calories) is considered an excellent source of Vitamin K, which provides 30% of the 80mcg Daily Value.

Vitamin K helps calcium balance & bone mineralization. Dried plums are an excellent source… Click To Tweet Dried plums may help manage weight through improved satiety, perhaps by producing lower glucose and/or appetite-regulating hormone concentrations.

Naturally cholesterol free (maybe that’s news to you), they also promote digestive health (which isn’t news to us Boomers, I imagine).

Emerging research suggests that dried plums support healthy bones, and may support heart health, digestive health, immunity and healthy aging. So don’t eat them if you want unhealthy aging. Exactly. Who would sign up for unhealthy aging?

Long a part of California’s agricultural history, dried plums are getting lots of great press lately because of the combination of taste and health benefits. You can learn even more (and get some sweet and savory recipes) by heading to the California Dried Plums site.

I shall now go try my new phrase on my son – “Don’t be a bumpkin. Bring me a plumkin.”

Yes, this is a sponsored post. Yes, I love dried plums. Yes, I jumped at the chance to partner with Vibrant Nation in this campaign for California Dried Plums. I did, however, receive a few bags of dried plums in the mail. No, I’m not sharing. I’m using them for my plumkins. Can you tell I like to say “plumkins?”

Now go over there ———————–> and subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. All great stuff for actively aging Boom-Chicka-Boomers.

Alexandra Williams, MA

photo credits: hamentashen/RealFoodForager via creativecommons.org; plumkins/California Dried Plums; fruit basket/Alexandra Williams

 

“I am participating in a VIN campaign for California Dried Plums. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with California Dried Plums and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.”

14

How Can I Speed Up My Metabolism?

What can I do to crank up my metabolism?
Donna, San Diego

Kymberly on a bike
Well, Donna not only are we going to tell you exactly what to do and how, but also stick around to discover one mistake exercisers make when trying to boost their metabolism. You are also going to learn which foods help you be a calorie burning heater even when you are not active. But first a word from our dictionary:

Basal metabolism:  The minimal energy expended to maintain respiration, circulation, peristalsis, muscle tonus, body temperature, glandular activity, and the other vegetative functions of the body.

zzzzzzz snork. What did that just say? In Fun and Fit translated style, that says, “If you want to burn kcals at a faster rate (helps with weight loss and maintenance), speed up your at-rest baseline usage of energy.”

Get Hip with HIIT

 Eleven variables affect your metabolic rate. According to the Oct. 2012 issue of ACE Certified News, “exercise is easily the most adjustable variable (of these 11) in total daily energy expenditure.” Current research indicates that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight, so we’ll be super thoughtful and define it. Essentially, it means alternating your workout into two speeds – very intense, and rest. The intervals can vary, such as 60 seconds work/ 60 seconds rest, or the very popular Tabata style: 20 seconds work/ 10 seconds rest, which our colleague Tamara Grand explains in this Tabata Training post.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic… Click To Tweet

It’s Burpee Time!

High Intensity vs. High Impact

By the way, standard bodybuilding won’t work for your goals, as it doesn’t burn enough calories or have the required after-effects. What DOES work is sprinting, biking, boot-camp moves such as burpees, stair-climbing, weight-lifting, and many other moves where you can push yourself to a 9 or 10 level of intensity on a 1-10 scale. High intensity doesn’t have to be high impact, which is a mistake many exercisers make when choosing moves. In case you’re not into “jumpy” high impact moves, do low impact, high intensity moves instead, such as spiderman push-ups. They are very low impact, yet as you’ll see if you try a few, they are definitely high intensity.

Cardio + Weight Training = Faster Metabolism

We were once asked about “amping up my old ass metabolism”  by a reader, so you might like to read what we told her (hint: we didn’t call her “old”). In addition to HIIT, you definitely want a weight training component. Our post about the caloric benefits from the metabolic spike explains the advantages of combining cardio and weight training, but in case you’re too exhausted to click the link, it essentially says that “with cardio, you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals efficiently for about an hour after you finish working out, even if you’re sitting on your old ass donkey doing nothing.

push-up resistance trainingEat for a Speedier Metabolism

The term “metabolism” specifically refers to the breakdown of food and its subsequent transformation into energy your body needs. The best way to make sure you are breaking down and using the kcals/ energy from your food is to do two things: 1) eat food that’s a good balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats; and 2) eat at regular intervals. An abrupt calorie-reduction or starvation diet can severely reduce (i.e., slow down) your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by up to 30%, and a restrictive, low-calorie diet can decrease it by as much as 20%.
Basically, we just said, “Don’t skip meals. Don’t eat crap.” You’re welcome for that memorable translation!

We hope we’ve answered your question. If we have, go do 10 spiderman push-ups! If we haven’t, go do 20!

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Photo credits: via CreativeCommons.org: cycloctopus (crank);  beingwell20 (burpee),

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

18

The “Best” Foods to Eat Before a Workout

Every quarter for the past 21 years my university students ask me the same question – What should I eat before my workout? And every quarter my answer is essentially the same – The closer to the ground, the better.

Of course, the full answer is more nuanced.

Annie's tomato soup & crackersFor those interested in complex answers (and complex carbohydrates), I share information about slow and fast release carbs. Fast release carbohydrates are foods that are quickly broken down into sugars. Slow release carbs are foods that are slowly broken down into sugars.

And some like to know about the glycemic response, which refers to the body’s increase in blood glucose (a simple form of sugar. If you see the word “monosaccharide,” that is the type of sugar that is glucose) and insulin after you eat. The Glycemic Index is a standardized list of food categories. Using white bread as the reference food (GI of 100), foods that have a GI >85 are considered high, foods that are 60-85 are moderate, and foods that are <60 are low. Low Glycemic Index foods are slow release.

Food for Life Cinnamon BreadSome foods listed as low (<60) on the GI:

hummus                             peaches                        apples

grapefruit                           peanuts                        pears

beans                                  oat bran bread            milk (whole or nonfat or soy)

yogurt                                 dried peas                    egg fettuccini

apricots                              bananas                       wheat kernels

cherries                              plums                           tomato soup

rice                                      bran barley

For a truly complete list of over 1,300 food listed on the Glycemic Index, you can click to the International Table of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2002 published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In case you don’t want to memorize the Glycemic Index list, I’ll give you a super simplified way to choose – if it’s white, you probably don’t want it (except milk). If it’s colorful, you probably do. Brightly colored children’s cereals do NOT qualify. One more way to quickly gauge – starchy = fast release; non-starchy – slow release. But I find the white/ colorful easier.

Now let’s talk about carbohydrates and protein. These sample pre-workout choices give you a good idea when you’re trying to decide:

Nest Fresh nonGMO, organic, free range eggswhole-grain toast and peanut butter
orange and cottage cheese
yogurt and granola
nuts and apple
hard-boiled egg and wheat bagel
chicken breast (not a nugget) and rice
string cheese and pretzels

Notice how these foods are much closer to the ground than fruit-flavored or infused foods, and that the ingredients ARE the food, rather than a long list of mystery chemicals and additives.

In a nod to my fabulous self, my students also ask what I eat. They know that I have a lot of energy, good skin color, and am the right size for my health and build.

I got lucky. When my (now 18-year-old) son was diagnosed as a baby with a lot of food allergies, I had to learn to read labels and cook from scratch. So in order to protect his health I ended up protecting the health of my entire family.

We eat organic, non-GMO food from brands we trust. And for a while I had a fruit orchard and vegetable garden. On a side note, my skin and body care and make-up products have to be free of toxic chemicals too. What goes on your skin goes into your body. If you want to experience this for yourself, rub a clove of garlic on your bare big toe. Wait a few minutes, then check your breath. Weird, eh?

Thrive Market Want to make it really easy on yourself so you can avoid shopping at five different stores or growing your own food? Shop at Thrive Market. Think of the baby if Costco and Whole Foods combined to birth only their best features – low annual fee, free shipping (over $49), a focus on organic and natural products, wholesale prices, and great customer service. Plus, they donate one membership to a low-income family for every purchased membership. The founder is a young guy who grew up with a financially struggling single mom, and he wants to pay it forward so that everyone, not just the upper middle class, can access healthy food and products. Now don’t you want to hug him?

I joined their affiliate program because they reflect my values AND are super affordable. I’ll end this post with an invitation to click on this link to Thrive Market and see for yourself.

Thrive Market adYou want to eat the right food before exercise, right? And I imagine you want to eat the right food the rest of the day too, yes? Use the info and resources in this post and you’ll be just dandy. Especially if you buy organic candy.UnReal PB cups

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by Alexandra Williams, MA