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.

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.

3 Tips To Reverse Aging

When you are in your twenties, you hardly care about the prospect of aging. But as you close in on your forties and beyond, you want to look younger and feel younger. Here are three tips that will help you appear and feel a decade younger.

Flax Seeds Eat Essential Fat: For decades, the media and the masses preached how all fat was unhealthy. However, this is categorically incorrect as a plethora of academic studies has demonstrated recently. Certain fats carry an array of benefits such as maintaining the integrity of your skin. These are the essential fatty acids, and, unfortunately, our bodies are not wired to generate them by themselves. We must turn to certain foods if we want to increase our consumption of essential fatty acids. The majority of Americans typically do not consume enough of Omega-3s, a specific fatty acid. A dearth of this can lead to the drying, cracking, and wrinkling of your skin! If you want to avoid this, which I am sure you do, there are a number of foods that contain plenty of this essential fatty acid. These include wild salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, flax seeds, and more.

Eat More Frequently: The custom in many Western cultures is to have two or three big meals per day. Unfortunately, this is by no means the most efficient or healthy schedule for eating. In reality, the best eating schedule to adhere to is to consume a small, yet sufficient, meal that contains essential fats, healthy carbs, and protein every three hours. This makes it much easier for our bodies to absorb the nutrients from our meals. Furthermore, the frequency of meals, as described above, can boost your body’s metabolism.

Reduce Toxins: Toxins can wreak havoc not only on your appearance but your general health. Avoid toxins such as air pollution, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and those found in our water supply and food. It is advisable to avoid processed foods that contain chemicals, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors.

Like The Post?

Help me out and pin these tips on Pinterest!

Big news! Butter is NOT the enemy!

Big news! Butter is NOT the enemy!

Eliminating saturated fats like the butter you schmear on your multigrain toast and melt on your baked sweet potato is one of the first things that get tossed from the fridge when adopting a well-balanced, nutritional diet. Saturated fats can lead to belly fat and heart disease, so it’s obvious they need to be eliminated, right?

Wrong. It’s time to look at butter differently.

Studies have shown that there are some saturated fats, like coconut oil and organic butter from grass-fed cows, can actually reduce levels of bad cholesterol as well as stomach fat when taken in moderation. In fact, they are better at blasting flabby fat than polyunsaturated vegetable oils like soybean oil and canola oil that we often mistake as being “healthier” for us!

A 12-week study of women aged 20 to 40 were randomly split into two groups of twenty. Each group was virtually given the same instructions: follow a reduced calorie eating plan and walk 50 minutes each day. They only differed in that one group received approximately two tablespoons of coconut oil, while the other was given approximately two tablespoons of soybean oil.

Results of the study showed that the group given coconut oil had increased their good cholesterol, reduced their bad cholesterol, and had significantly reduced their stomach fat, otherwise known as their waist circumference. The soybean oil group had, essentially, the exact opposite results on their cholesterol levels and didn’t see any stomach fat loss.

Unfortunately, consumers often fall for misleading advertising which make them fear organic sources of fat and instead fill themselves with processed vegetable oils that cause inflammation in the body. They aren’t realizing that natural sources of fat like coconut oil, organic butter, and even macadamia nut oil are full of nutrition and sources of good fat and are much better for you.

So the next time you’re making a delicious stir-fry full of fresh veggies, don’t be afraid to saute them in some coconut oil for a delicious flavor full of nutrients and saturated fats that are good for you!

A Few Quick Tips

“I’ve got a date with Ben & Jerry tonight.”

It’s all something we’ve said, heard, or imagined at one point or another. What we’re really saying is, “I’m eating my feelings tonight, no holds barred.” Forget cheat days and treats, emotional eating can completely derail any diet, making you feel like all your health-conscious decisions have been wiped away.

What is emotional eating, after we push away all those candy wrappers and empty chip bags? Stress. When life seems unmanageable, we get stressed, feel crappy, eat crappy food, feel better, and then feel crappy again. It’s sort of human nature.

We all know stress isn’t going anywhere, and emotional eating is by no means a stop on the path to a fitter, healthier lifestyle. If you weren’t already aware, stress is a major contributor to spot-specific belly fat. Yuck! So, how we manage stress is essential to keeping away those crappy feelings and flabby bodies, by choosing either a “negative” or “positive” way to cope with that stress.

Here’s the deal: if you’re not actively searching, planning, and implementing said plan to positively manage your stress, it’s almost guaranteed that you will naturally choose a negative coping mechanism, like eating the entire pizza pie instead of just a slice. Again, it’s human nature. But don’t fear! Positive coping mechanisms are all around us!

Move Around!

Josh Bezoni - Move AroundRunning, jogging, or going for a walk gives you the opportunity to tune-out of life’s realities and just think about whatever comes to mind. If you’ve got a lot on your mind, even better! You won’t focus on how long you’ve been running for, or how much longer you have to go, and instead you’ll surprise yourself with how much activity you’re getting done. Additionally, you’re flooding your cerebellum with those feel good endorphins, which are not only great for your body, but also relieves stress!

If you’re just not up to exercising, another alternative would be to hop in your car (or on public transit if you’re not “vehically equipped”) and cruise till your mind is clear and ready to tackle life.

Pump up the jams!

Music is known to be a big factor in relieving stress, whether it’s listening to it or making it, it soothes the soul. You know what’s even better than listening to music? Listening to music AND running, jogging, walking, or driving! Bye-bye stress. Hello air-guitar solos at the next red light.

If you want to take away the power that emotional eating has over your healthy lifestyle (who doesn’t?!) you HAVE to consciously and actively seek out positive coping mechanisms. If you don’t, those unhealthy behaviors become habits that are hard to break, which quickly turns into more pounds added to the scale.

Foods for a Healthy Head of Hair

Even if you are not the most fashion oriented, it is easy to keep a watchful eye on your head of hair as it can be an indicator of your body’s overall health. Unbeknownst to many, an unhealthy diet may actually be the cause of your dry and frayed hair. If you suffer from such hair, you may want to target these foods to help you with your condition.  These foods will not only help improve the appearance of your hair, but will also help you improve your overall health.

Chickpeas: A versatile food, chickpeas or garbanzo beans as they are also called can be incorporated into a number of dishes including salad. Furthermore, they are a chief ingredient in hummus. As delicious as they are, they are also chock full of non-animal and iron-rich protein.This protein is absolutely essential for healthy hair growth. Furthermore, garbanzo beans contain a lot of keratins, a special hardened protein that is important in the process of coating the outside layer of hair.

Chicken: Chicken with its high levels of B12 and B6 is great to spur healthy hair. A dearth of such vitamins will likely lead to weak and dry hair. However, be mindful that not all chicken is equal. Fried or bread chicken will likely do more harm than good.

Josh Bezoni - StrawberriesStrawberries: While many associate Vitamin C with oranges, strawberries are another great source of this vitamin. The presence of Vitamin C is vital in the creation and maintenance of healthy collagen. This is what helps give hair its structure. Less than ten strawberries will suffice to meet the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.

Kale:  Many Americans had not even heard of a Kale just a decade ago. But this vegetable has quickly been adopted into the diets of millions of men and women across the nation, and for good reason. Kale contains very high levels of Beta carotene and Iron. The former is actually converted into Vitamin A, which is important for the health of one’s scalp.