You May Be Mislead About Bread

Josh Bezoni- You may be mislead about Bread

Garlic bread. Bread sticks. Ciabatta. Focaccia. Pita bread. Naan. Sourdough. Rye. Brioche. Pizza. Grilled cheese. Bread comes in many delectable forms, but bread is a carb and therefore, we have been led to believe that it’s bad for us- encouraged to avoid the very thing many of us so often crave. However, unless you have a gluten allergy, there’s no reason for you to cut bread out of your diet if you want to stay healthy. Contrary to popular belief, not all bread is bad for you! It’s simply a matter of knowing which breads won’t wreck your diet, and which to avoid. Lucky for you, I’ve done my research and found some healthy breads out there and targeted some not-so-healthy options. So the next time you’re in the supermarket trying to decide which bread to pull off the shelf, keep this advice in mind.

Belly-bulging breads

There are certain red-flags to look out for when buying bread, namely hydrogenated oils/trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and wheat flour. Some breads may appear to be healthy, but you need to read the label first! For instance, just because the bread has “wheat” in the name doesn’t make it healthy. Read the ingredients to make sure the bread is made with 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain. Anything else is likely made with refined white flour. Whole grains are the best for your diet, as they’re naturally low-fat and cholesterol free.

Here are some culprits to look out for:

  • The Mission 96% Fat Free Flour Tortillas: Just because they claim to be mostly fat free doesn’t make them healthy! These tortillas contain hydrogenated oils/trans fats, which can cause belly fat, and other more threatening health problems like heart disease.
  • Sara Lee Soft and Smooth Honey 100% Whole Wheat Bread: This option may sound healthy since it’s 100% whole wheat, but again look at the ingredients: it contains high fructose corn syrup which can make you hungrier.
  • Wonder’s Original English Muffins: There are much better English muffin options out there, as this one is made with refined wheat flour (not 100% whole wheat) and contains high fructose corn syrup.

Belly-flattening breads

Don’t despair. There are some healthy options out there if you know what to look for! There are plenty of healthy supermarket options that are high in fiber, made with 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grains, low in sodium, and low in saturated fat.

Here are a few good choices to get you started:

  • Food for Life Genesis 1:29 bread: It’s made with sprouted grains and seeds.
  • Oroweat English Muffins
  • Thomas’ Better Start English Muffins

Well, that’s all for now! Always look at the ingredients of whatever you’re buying. If you know what to look out for, then there’s nothing keeping you from consuming some of your favorite foods! For more health and nutrition advice, check out my articles on joshbezoni.com.

Healthy Hair, Healthy You

 

 

wbcjnydjuwk-josh-dorazio-compressorHave you ever watched a shampoo commercial and thought, How is her hair so smooth and shiny? No one’s hair actually looks like that! You wouldn’t be alone in those thoughts, but if you thought lustrous commercial-worthy hair was only possible thanks to professional products and some not-so-secret video editing, think again. Getting soft, strong, and shiny hair that’s healthy from root to tip is easier than you think. The cold winter weather and direct heat from the hair dryer can be especially rough on hair, but they’re not the only culprits. A poor diet may be the biggest offender, so simply adopting a healthy diet of nutrient-rich foods can do wonders for your hair, turning your dry, dull strands into the luminous locks you envy on tv.

Try incorporating these six healthy foods into your diet and marvel at the transformation of your hair!

1. Chicken Unless you’re a vegetarian, you should definitely be incorporating a healthy serving of chicken into your diet to get the protein benefits it provides. But any old chicken won’t fly. Unfortunately, chicken nuggets and fried chicken are high in fat and lose a lot of their health benefits. Try tossing some grilled chicken into a salad or with some healthy grains, such as quinoa or brown rice, on the side. Chicken is a high-protein food that is rich in the vitamins folate, B6, and B12 that are crucial for maintaining healthy hair. These vitamins aid in the production of red blood cells that deliver oxygen throughout the body so a deficiency of these vitamins could result in stunted hair growth, and weak and brittle strands.

2. Chickpeas Hummus not only tastes great, but it’s great for you as well! Chickpeas, whether ground up into hummus or tossed into a salad, are a perfect healthy snack. Chickpeas are a great protein substitute for vegetarians because they’re high in folate and zinc, as well as keratins, hardened proteins that keep hair strong and durable.

3. Peanuts Salted peanuts may be high in sodium, but eaten in moderation, they are full of the vitamins biotin and folate, both great for healthy hair. Biotin, another B vitamin, contributes to hair growth and a healthy scalp.

4. Beans You know that joke about beans being good for your heart, despite causing flatulence? Well, they really are good for you, and not just your heart, but your entire body…so maybe you should have listened to your mom when she tried to get you to eat your beans! Legumes are high in folate and iron, which both contribute to healthy hair. Folate helps produce red blood cells, while iron helps blood cells transport oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body, together working to prevent hair loss and strengthen your strands.

5. Kale You probably don’t need me to tell you healthy kale is. It’s one of those green superfoods touted by nutritionists everywhere for its health benefits. You should listen up, though, because kale is rich in iron and beta carotene. Beta carotene is converted by the body into Vitamin A, which is needed for cell growth and replenishment. Without enough vitamin A, you’ll be left with a dry, itchy scalp. Vitamin A also produces sebum, a natural oil put out by hair follicles, keeping hair well-hydrated.

6. Strawberries See, this list is really not so painful, right? Strawberries are a sweet, delicious fruit and they also happen to contain a high level of Vitamin C, which helps the keep collagen (the fiber that maintains hair structure) healthy. A deficiency in this vital vitamin can cause dryness and split ends, making hair more prone to breakage. Eight strawberries is all it takes to reach the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, so fill up on strawberries or each just a couple and wash them down with a swig of orange juice, and you should be good to go!

Who knew that healthy hair and a healthy body were so closely related? A simple diet combining high-protein foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and legumes can transform your hair from blah to wow in a matter of days, while keeping you healthy at the same time.

Beware the Shady Scale

Feet_on_scaleIf there’s one thing dieters hate even more than the prospect of losing weight and altering their eating habits, it’s stepping onto the scale and obsessing over the little numbers that glare up at them. Who would think such a simple mechanism could hold so much power over our psyches and self-esteem? Taken out of context, the numbers that appear don’t mean anything-they merely represent a numerical value, but for many people trying to lose weight, those numbers are everything. Many place their entire self-worth into their weight.

Well, I have some good news. You may think that the only way you’ll ever lose weight is to keep daily tabs on the number on the scale, but I want everyone to know that’s not the case. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make in their weight loss plan is to weigh themselves every day. This torturous act is both unnecessary and inaccurate.

There’s a fine line between control and compulsion. It’s good to take control of your weight, and for some, monitoring one’s weight regularly is a strategy for staying in control. But this routine can easily turn into an obsession and that’s where the scale becomes dangerous, leading to discouragement or even the development of an eating disorder.

Here are some specific reasons why checking your weight daily can be dangerous:

Discouragement: It’s easy to feel defeated when the numbers on the scale don’t reflect all the effort you put into your weight loss plan. You may think, “But that’s not fair! I gave up sweets and exercised every day this week! How have I not lost any weight?” Sometimes, when we expect the numbers on the scale to go down, they defy our expectations and go up. This is normal and, as frustrating as it may be, you’re not alone. However, if you become discouraged every time you experience a setback in your weight loss goals, you could easily decide to throw in the towel completely and give up on your diet.

Not an accurate representation: It may be easy to become discouraged, but before you give into negativity, you need to realize that daily fluctuation of your weight is completely natural. The main reason you may have lost a few pounds one day only to gain it back the next day (with no drastic changes to your diet) is water retention. Minor fluctuations are natural and occur daily, so instead of weighing yourself every day and fixating on the short-term, you should focus on long-term goals.

There are much better ways to assess if your weight loss efforts are paying off. Primarily, it comes down to how you feel. Do you feel healthy? Does your body feel a little tighter and leaner? Are your clothes fitting more loosely? Do you feel like you have more energy and strength propelling you through the day? Is exercising becoming easier. These are the questions you should be asking yourself. Becoming a healthier version of yourself isn’t all about losing weight, and it’s most often a gradual process that’s more like a marathon than a sprint. Keep in mind, muscle actually weighs more than fat and the scale won’t be able to tell if you’ve lost fat and gained muscle.

So, what can you do to monitor your weight without becoming addicted to the scale? For starters, get into the habit of weighing yourself less. Cutting your weigh-ins down to once a week rather than every day will allow you to focus on your goals without becoming discouraged. It will also help to be consistent, so weigh yourself on the same scale at the same time of day on the same day of the week. If you want the most accurate reading, you should weigh yourself in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink. Make it one of the first things you do when you get up, because as you eat and drink throughout the day, your weight will fluctuate.

If there’s one piece of advice you should take away from this article, it’s not to become discouraged! Losing weight is not a competition and everyone goes at it at their own pace. What matters is that you make a concerted effort. Weight loss takes time, but if you stick to your goals and limit yourself to one weigh-in per week, you’ll start to notice results.

Stress-Eat in Style

Stress Eat, Josh BezoniSo many of us struggle with stress eating. The struggle of daily life can feel overwhelming and in an attempt to cope, we stuff our mouths and stomachs with fatty comfort foods. Yet, this only exacerbates the issue. As stress mounts, our waistlines expand and our self-esteem shrinks—but what if there were a way to eat and lose pounds? What if there was a way to eat comfort foods that make us feel don’t just make us feel comfortable, but make us feel better?

There is! Seriously. Here are some fantastic healthy alternatives to traditional ‘comfort foods:’

Oatmeal: Oatmeal has carbs, a LOT of them. Carbs tell your brain to make serotonin. Serotonin=happy hormone. Therefore, if you eat oatmeal, you will be happy. Though this is a simple explanation for why oatmeal is such an awesome substitute, it is more or less the extent of it. Oatmeal also coerces a steady blood sugar response, which one, is great for your waistline and metabolism, and two, means steady serotonin.

Oranges: The beloved fruit of Florida decreases cortisol levels in humans. Cortisol is the body’s number one stress hormone. So more oranges equal less stress. Plus, oranges have been proven to reduce blood pressure levels when people are subject to stressful circumstances.

Turkey: The staple of Thanksgiving boasts an amino acid that goes by L-tryptophan, and L-Tryptophan also triggers serotonin release which means it triggers happy for you.

Salmon: Salmon and many other types of fish have a very large count of omega-3 fatty acids. Although ‘fatty acids’ may not exude undertones of fresh, healthy, nutrition, these do. In fact, they incite a reduction in stress levels when consumed in appropriate servings. According to a study published in none other than the respected Diabetes & Metabolism, omega 3s prevent cortisol events from peaking. Another study conducted in Michigan went so far as to say that omega 3s decrease anxiety by an astounding 20%.

Avocados: Everyone’s new favorite food has wonderful nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation. Their high potassium content helps reduce stress-induced spikes in blood pressure. Although bananas may get all the credit for potassium, avocados actually have more!

These are just a few foods that provide a tremendous alternative to more generic comfort foods. The next time you open the freezer to look for a gallon of ice cream, consider eating something that not only tastes good, but is good for you.

How Carbs Affect Insulin Sensitivity

Josh Bezoni, Change, TransformationOur bodies and diet play an absolutely enormous role when it comes to achieving our physical transformation goals. Over the years, our society has increased our carbohydrate intake tremendously because it’s cheap and easy to mass produce, but our bodies don’t necessarily benefit from this.

In fact, because of how many carbs we consume, we have started building a tolerance to a tremendously significant hormone that can make all the difference when making the lifestyle changes we desire. It’s insulin, and it can either be an asset or a massive hindrance depending on how we use it.

Insulin is supposed to regulate your blood sugar by clearing it quickly from you blood stream after a carb-filled meal. It shuttles your blood sugar to muscle tissue instead of letting it remain stagnant and get absorbed into fat cells (which skyrockets weight gain).

But, many times, this is not the case. In reality, when we eat loads and loads of processed carbs, we build a carbohydrate tolerance which then resists much-needed insulin. This insulin resistance then results in dramatically reduced fat burning, increased blood sugar levels, and increased fat storage.

What’s more, insulin resistance often precedes and causes type II diabetes in addition to any number of health problems including but not limited to Alzheimer’s, premature aging, heart disease, and even strokes.

It pays off to be careful with carbs, but so many of us don’t even know what’s supposed to happen when we eat them. Check out below for how our bodies are meant to break down carbohydrates:

Minimum Insulin Release

When your body is very sensitive to insulin, only a very small amount is required to properly transport glucose from your bloodstream to the appropriate storage sites. If this is the case with you, then you’re in great shape because the body has an intensely difficult time burning off fat with insulin in your bloodstream. As a rule of thumb, the less insulin you have, the better.

Glycogen Uptake

Glycogen, for our intents and purposes, is the stored carbohydrate in muscle tissue and the liver. Should these tissues be highly sensitive to insulin, then the lion’s share of glucose will be stored within them as an energy source. The point? If it’s stored as an energy reserve in your muscle tissue, then it’s not converted to fat—and that’s a good thing.

Minimum Fat Storage

By choosing to increase insulin sensitivity, your body will preserve carbs as energy in lean muscle and the liver, as opposed to unsightly body fat.

Basically, your body’s ability to break down carbs comes down to insulin sensitivity. So before you bite into that juicy burger, think about how it will likely affect your insulin levels. It’s an uphill battle to remain in control of our diet considering the prevalence of media and advertisement, but it’s a necessary battle to remain in control of our bodies.

Double Fat Loss Today

Josh Bezoni, Diet, Fat LossWhen we are first being taught about nutrition, the Food Pyramid always springs to the forefront of conversation. Claiming that grains (made up of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta) make up the base of the food pyramid, it was thought we were supposed to receive an astounding fifty percent of our diet from carbohydrates.

Crazy! It’s this sort of fattening advice that perpetuates nutritional misperceptions which relegate people to an unhealthy lifestyle, condemned to believe they are doing the right thing and properly monitoring their diet when, in reality, they are actually making losing weight more difficult, more frustrating, and downright exhausting. What’s the most ridiculous part of all this? We know better.

Fortunately, government agencies and the United States educational system have released massive updates to the outdated policy; it’s just slow to take effect. In fact, the USDA is rightfully now recommending that half of your diet come from fruits and vegetables, and only 30% should come from grains—much better advice. Not to mention, the ‘experts’ are now also suggesting that protein makes up about twenty percent of our diet, a fantastic increase from the nearly nonexistent portion that was advised before.

All this said, there are still some considerable improvements to be made even to this new and improved My Plate System (the new and improved version of the Food Pyramid). For one, it does not really allot for healthy fats like nuts, oils, and organic dairy products—think butter and cream. These sorts of fats are a vital part of any diet, and most certainly should not be eaten sparingly. In actuality, you should be consuming about 25% of your calories through these open fats.

In regards to grains, I would chop it down to size and say they should only make up about 15% of your diet. There are only two meals a day where you should even consider eating grains, anyway, and those are breakfast and the meal after your workout. The reason for this is that research has proven glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are at their highest during these two points in the day.

With respect to protein, let’s beef that up to at least 35%. By increasing protein, you will have an increased thermic effect of feeding (which means you burn more calories just by eating protein), have better blood sugar control, see a decrease in body fat, and witness a significant increase in calorie-burning lean muscle.

Really, just by lowering grain consumption, you will improve your body’s capacity for processing carbohydrates, and then when you increase your protein intake, you can nearly DOUBLE your fat loss. It’s that easy.

Time to Place Whey by the Wayside

If you’ve ever even thought of lifting weights or undergoing any sort of weight training regimen, you have probably thought about purchasing the most fundamental supplement to ever grace the vitamin industry, whey protein. Known for its incredible popularity and its supposed ability to foster a more rapid development of stronger, more resilient muscle fibers, its negative associations often, all-too-often, in fact, slip under the radar.

So, in light of these aforementioned negative associations, I would like to elaborate. There are, in reality, two major hindrances to whey protein as a product:

Whey Protein Absorption: According to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, the rate of protein absorption is eight grams every hour. While there are certainly a variety of factors that contribute to this, the single largest influencing factor is undoubtedly the fact that the whey is not broken down into small enough peptides by our body’s natural enzymes in order to be absorbed in time, and if the protein is not absorbed in time, then it essentially useless.

Whey protein can only be absorbed efficiently over the course of 1.5 hours, so even if a particular protein has 60g in a single serving, only about 12-20g of that 60 will be put to good use. That means the vast majority of the rest of that whey protein is bound to be excreted, nutritious value and all. It’s wasted.

Insulin Release Associated with Whey: Let’s play a game. If I presented you with a serving size of generic white Wonder bread, and a serving size of standard whey protein isolate, and asked which if these causes a greater spike in insulin, what you say? Would you choose the well-touted, known to be terrible for you, nutritionally devoid white bread, or the muscle and nutritional supplement, whey protein? Remarkably, the answer is…you guessed it! Whey protein.

As outrageous as it seems, whey protein actually causes a greater spike in insulin than white bread. According to a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism as of 2012, the specific amino acids in whey protein actually emulate beta cells to such a degree that they secrete more insulin than a similar serving of carbs from white bread.

Of course, I am only referring to insulin release in this scenario. Obviously, when taking into account nutritional value as a whole, white bread is no match for whey protein. Yet, that said, there really is no ignoring the fact that your fat-burning capability is noticeably afflicted when there is a presence of excess insulin; so ideally, choosing foods with a lower insulin response is preferable.

The fact is that whey protein is by no means the best supplement around despite whatever its incredible popularity might suggest. The next time you’re shopping around for strength training supplements, I’d recommend you check out time-released proteins where your body is able to absorb the nutritious value of whatever you’re consuming over an extended period of time, and then you will be able to gain the most out of what you buy.

The Breathing Exercise that Eats Belly Fat

In the swirling chaos of our daily lives, stress often rises to the surface and influences our mood, our attitude, and our hormones. When we try to compartmentalize this mental duress, it soon becomes physically apparent, whether we like it not. In fact, it can incite inflammation, accelerated aging, poor judgment, bad decisions, and impaired slumber. Put frankly, stress makes you fat, sick, dumb, and weak.

For example, scientists at the University of California at San Francisco have found a proven association between cortisol (the stress hormone) and belly fat content. Yet, despite this terrible news being proven (we all knew it was true anyway), there is something we can do to take control of our lives and our own fitness. We are not subject to the whim of inevitable stress.

Essentially, you can combat stress and relax through something called “deep belly breathing.” When engaging in “deep belly breathing,” you are able to overcome your body’s stress response, decrease your cortisol production, and bolster your melatonin creation (the sleep hormone that also protects against aging). Alright, alright, now here’s how you do it:

  1. Sit or lie down in a dark and quiet room. Place the palm of your hand on your stomach.
  2. Take a deep, slow breath through your nose and pay particular attention to how your stomach rises and falls underneath your hand.
  3. Exhale. Slowly, and for as long and steadily as possible (like, for at least five seconds). Breathe out until your lungs are entirely devoid of air.

And that’s it! Just repeat steps one through three every night for at least a week and I promise you will not only feel better and more energized, but you’ll even notice your waistline shrinking! Yet, that’s not all. There’s actually another trick that has been proven to burn 400% more fat when used, and it takes less than a minute!

Another study published in the Journal of International Medical Research illustrated that people who used the same aforementioned trick actually managed to lose 20% of their body fat in only 12 weeks. If you want to burn 400% more fat than you would otherwise by dedicating a simple minute, check out this neat and easy to understand video.

We All Have Our Cheat Days

Alright, I’m just going to go ahead and say it: we all have our cheat days. There. I’ve admitted it. Nothing to be ashamed about. We’re all humans, and naturally there will be times where we will get cravings that unfortunately will lead us to ditching our diets and overeating. That said, there is such a thing as “strategic cheating” or “overfeeding,” which basically allows you to eat all your favorite foods and still help you accelerate your fat loss. You see, after you overeat your metabolism runs at full speed and you can use that to your advantage! I call it my new Post-Cheat Day diet breakthrough. It’s a three-day eating program that will allow you to burn all that fat and calories consumed during your cheat day. The way it works is by controlling a fat-storing hormone called insulin. Here’s how.

The first day of the program will be your Protein Shake Day. Don’t consume anything but healthy protein powders with almond milk. Drinking nothing but shakes will help your stomach shrink naturally. That way you will get fuller and more satisfied with less calorie intake. For example, I’ll consume 4 shakes throughout the day (every 3 hours or so). Each shake should be high in protein (15-20 grams), have no artificial sweeteners, and low in carbs (less than 5 grams).

Day two will be your Protein and Veggie day. It consists of five mini meals, again about every 3 hours or so. The goal of this day is to increase your fiber intake dramatically and cleanse your bloated digestive track. Each meal should have lean protein sources like fish, turkey, chicken, or lean beef. Make sure these proteins are either broiled, baked or grilled – not fried! The meal can also have low-fat cottage cheese, eggs, and vegetables. Stay away from heavy veggies like corn, which is really a starch. You want to stick to veggies like lettuce, peas, green beans, asparagus, peppers, carrots, etc. Skip the fruit as well. Remember these have a sugar content to them. Not eating heavy carbs will make your body burn off the extra food you ate during your cheat day. Yey!

Your third and last day will be your Splurge Day. The goal here is to keep your metabolism burning at maximum speed. And after enduring day 1 and day two, you will be hungry for some of those heavy carbs. Therefore, split your day with five small meals consisting of lean meats, veggies, and about ½ cup of high energy carbs to 3 of the 5 mini meals. These high energy carbs can be beans (black, pinto, kidney, lima), sprouted grain pasta or bread, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, quinoa, and wild rice. The point is to stick to  slow-absorbing carbs that will most likely not get turned into body-fat once consumed. Lastly, for one of those five meals, splurge yourself eating whatever you want. The trick will be to not overeat and to not make it your last meal of the day. So, eat whatever you want, but keep it a mini meal.

In terms of beverages, stick to water, green tea, or coffee sweetened with stevia. After you’re done with the three-day program, repeat the cycle again until you lose all those extra pounds you gained during your cheat day(s) and then you’ll be back on track!

 

Chia Seeds – Worth the hype?

Chia Seeds - Worth the hype-

Nowadays, chia seeds are everywhere. You can put them in your smoothie, your breakfast, your acai bowl – you name it! So what’s the deal with these little seeds? Are they really worth they hype? Let’s find out.

First, let’s start with the basics: what exactly are chia seeds? Chia seeds are small seeds, similar to the size of poppy seeds and they tend to be black and white. They are originally from Mexico and Guatemala and historically, they were cultivated by the Aztecs. In terms of being consumed, they form a gel-like substance when soaked in liquid and they don’t really have a strong, defined flavor.

In terms of beneficial properties, chia seeds have a bunch. That’s probably why they’ve become so popular. Each serving only has 30 calories and only 3 grams of naturally-occurring sugar. Chia seeds are also packed with vitamins, probiotics, and antioxidants. They’re also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, fiber, potassium and calcium.  According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, two teaspoons of chia seeds offer 1.7 g of ALA, 3.6 g of fiber, and 60 mg of calcium. To put this in context, two teaspoons of chia seeds offer the same amount of fiber as one packet of instant oatmeal and the same amount of calcium as ¼ cup of milk.

All of these facts regarding the benefits chia seeds offer sound great, but the skepticism begins to set in when you start hearing stories about how chia seeds can help get rid of wrinkles, can kill cancer, can help with depression, and can even help you have a flatter belly in days! Really?! While there are no proven studies regarding these chia seed magical powers, the reality is that they are indeed very nutritious. So, I guess they’re not that bad after all, as long as you have real expectations about them.

Now how exactly do you consume chia seeds? I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite ways:

  1. Blend a tablespoon of chia seeds into your favorite smoothie.
  2. Sprinkle chia seeds on your yogurt.
  3. Mix them into your ground meat when making meatballs
  4. Mix them into your peanut butter spread.
  5. Add them into your favorite salad dressing or directly into your salad.