Dr. Phil Shares: Menopause Belly: Why Fat Accumulates & How to Tackle It?

 

Many women notice after age 45 that fat seems to accumulate readily at the waist. There are even terms for it, like menopause belly, muffin top, or “meno-pot.” What does the science tell us about menopausal belly fat and how to get rid of it? What are the hormonal drivers and are they amenable to change with personalized lifestyle medicine? Certainly belly fat, specifically subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat, increases during menopause,1-3 when the changing hormonal environment can bring with it a remodeling of fat storage patterns. Abdominal fat, especially visceral fat, is biochemically different and more metabolically active than fat stored in other areas, secreting more pro-inflammatory cytokines and adipokines.4 That means preventing or reversing belly fat is not just a vanity project, it’s a meaningful step in managing a woman’s overall health, as abdominal fat has been consistently linked with insulin resistance, impaired glucose control, and overall higher cardiometabolic and breast cancer risk. Practitioners are often asked ‘How can I get rid of menopausal belly fat?’, and it is important to remember that effective management is multifaceted – encompassing an understanding how changes in sex steroids interact with other endocrine systems and also with lifestyle choices, and recognizing the best time to implement a lifestyle medicine approach is in the years before a woman’s final menstrual period.

The changing hormonal environment

A robust understanding of the hormonal changes associated with perimenopause and menopause can guide women toward effective intervention. Here are the top five hormonal changes associated with the menopausal transition.

  • Changes in estrogen and estrogen dominance: Menopause is often framed simply as the loss of estrogen, but the road from pre- to post-menopausal estrogen levels is not necessarily smooth. Although loss of estrogen itself is linked with increasing abdominal fat,2,3 paradoxically the estrogen dominance that occurs in perimenopause and that may continue into menopause is seen clinically as a culprit in expanding abdominal fat mass.5 Between age 35 and 45, most women are beginning to run low on ripe eggs and experience hormonal changes linked with advancing reproductive age.6 During this time reduced progesterone coupled with high and erratic estrogen occurs.6,7 Estrogen declines but is in relative excess to progesterone. This is the definition of estrogen dominance: having a progesterone level that’s less than 100X the level of estrogen, creating an imbalance in the estrogen-progesterone partnership and essentially an inadequate level of progesterone to keep estrogen in check. Local estrogen production in adipose tissue can also contribute to estrogen dominance during this time. For example, aromatase enzymes, responsible for converting androgens to estrogens, are more active in visceral adipose tissue of post-menopausal women in response to cortisol.8

 

  • Cortisol: Dysregulation of the HPA axis and cortisol excess can manifest as increased central and visceral fat mass and metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance.9,10 Increased production of cortisol,11 and conversion of cortisone (inactive) to cortisol (active) has been described in post-menopausal women,12 indicating that increased cortisol synthesis and conversion could contribute to metabolic dysfunction in these women. Cortisol is regulated in part by sex steroids, and estrogen down-regulates the expression and activity 11β-HSD1, the enzyme involved in converting inactive cortisone to active cortisol13 – so higher estrogen, lower 11β-HSD1 and less active cortisol formed. Declining estrogen levels during menopause can have a knock-on effect on cortisol formation, and 11β-HSD1 has been shown to be upregulated particularly in visceral fat in post-menopausal compared with pre-menopausal women. 1,11,12 As well as contributing directly metabolic dysfunction, higher cortisol can feed back to hormonal environment and contribute to estrogen dominance occurring at this time through cortisol-induced aromatase activity.8,14

 

  • Insulin: Fat cells accumulating in the abdomen is linked with insulin resistance. The pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by abdominal fat interferes with insulin signaling.15 This results in insulin resistance where cell response to insulin is lost, which creates a cycle where greater production of insulin is required to manage blood glucose levels. Insulin is a gatekeeper of metabolism, and rising insulin levels can set off a chain reaction that ultimately leads to a cycle of weight and abdominal fat gain. Insulin can lower production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the liver.16,17 Lower SHBG results in greater free androgens and estrogens in circulation, and is linked with visceral fat and insulin resistance in menopausal women.18,19 In addition, insulin resistance can have a knock-on effect on leptin, insulin’s cousin.

 

  • Leptin: Leptin is the put-down-your-fork hormone, the one that tells you when you are full.20 Elevated insulin levels eventually lead to elevated leptin, which despite what you may think, does not mean you are more likely to put down your fork and stop eating. Instead, consistently elevated leptin levels lead to a dysfunction of leptin receptors and they stop sending signals to the brain to tell you to stop eating – this is called leptin resistance.21 The mechanisms driving leptin-resistance are complex, but high intakes of refined carbohydrates have linked with its development.22

 

  • Thyroid hormones: Thyroid hormones, which regulate how quickly we burn calories and maintains our metabolism, can becomes unbalanced with age, a trend that has been labeled ‘thyropause’. If the thyroid becomes underactive, this can lead to symptoms including weakness, fatigue, and weight gain.23

What can be done?

One of the biggest myths in women’s health is that once hormones change with menopause, abdominal adiposity is immovable – however addressing modifiable hormones such as cortisol and insulin in the following ways can have an impact.

  • Make foundational changes to dietary intake. When evaluating diet, consider factors that influence insulin levels, such as high carbohydrate intakes or intake of refined carbohydrates which require greater insulin response to manage spikes in plasma glucose. Remove inflammatory or trigger foods, as inflammation can contribute to insulin resistance.31 Add in foods rich in antioxidants which promote detoxification. Eliminate alcohol which robs you of deep sleep and lowers metabolism by more than 70% for 24 hours. Choosing when to eat during the day can also make a positive impact to insulin levels and insulin sensitivity. Time-restricted feeding (TRF) protocols, a type of intermittent fasting, where food is consumed during a limited number of hours per day (often 6 or 8) has been shown to reduce body weight and abdominal fat32 and improve insulin sensitivity even without weight loss.33

 

  • Add more movement to the day. Sitting is like the new smoking. Approximately 35 chronic diseases and conditions are associated with sedentariness, and sedentary behavior makes people more prone to gain body fat.24 High intensity interval training (HIIT) is effective at reducing abdominal and visceral adiposity, as well as improving insulin sensitivity and building muscle.25,26 Studies in post-menopausal women show that HIIT training results in greater abdominal and visceral fat mass loss compared to continuous exercise programs (where heart rate was maintained at a constant level)27,28 showing that HIIT is a time-efficient strategy for improving central obesity in this population. In addition to HIIT programs, practicing yoga can be recommended for menopausal women, showing significant reductions in menopausal symptoms.29 In broader populations, interventions that included yoga asanas were associated with reduced evening and waking cortisol levels, as well as improved metabolic symptoms.30

 

  • Support reparative sleep. A primary step to losing belly fat is to get enough sleep and to make it quality sleep. Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown links between sleep duration and the risk of obesity and central adiposity.34 People sleeping 7-8 hours/night night have been shown to accumulate less visceral fat mass than those sleeping for ≤6 hours/night.35 Sleep debt leads to changes in leptin and other hormones related to satiety, greater feelings of hunger, dietary indiscretion and poor food choices, as well as reduced physical activity and insulin resistance.34 In other words, getting that solid sleep needs to be a priority. As well as sleep quantity, sleep quality has to be considered, as poorer sleep quality is associated with higher visceral fat mass.36 Subjective poor sleep quality is linked with altered cortisol response37 and insulin resistance in postmenopausal women.38

by Sara Gottfried, MD and Annalouise O’Connor, PhD

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Citations

  1. Yamatani H et al. Association of estrogen with glucocorticoid levels in visceral fat in postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2013;20(4):437-442.
  2. Shen W et al. Sexual dimorphism of adipose tissue distribution across the lifespan: a cross-sectional whole-body magnetic resonance imaging study. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009;6:17.
  3. Lovejoy JC et al. Increased visceral fat and decreased energy expenditure during the menopausal transition. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008;32(6):949-958.
  4. de Heredia FP et al. Obesity, inflammation and the immune system. Proc Nutr Soc. 2012;71(2):332-338.
  5. Prior JC. Progesterone for symptomatic perimenopause treatment – progesterone politics, physiology and potential for perimenopause. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2011;3(2):109-120.
  6. Hale GE et al. Hormonal changes and biomarkers in late reproductive age, menopausal transition and menopause. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2009;23(1):7-23.
  7. Hale GE et al. Endocrine features of menstrual cycles in middle and late reproductive age and the menopausal transition classified according to the Staging of Reproductive Aging Workshop (STRAW) staging system. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92(8):3060-3067.
  8. McTernan PG et al. Glucocorticoid regulation of p450 aromatase acitivty in human adipose tissue: gender and site differences. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87(3):1327-1336.
  9. Paredes S et al. Cortisol: the villain in metabolic syndrome? Rev Assoc Med Bras (1992). 2014;60(1):84-92.
  10. Incollingo Rodriguez AC et al. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation and cortisol activity in obesity: a systematic review. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015;62:301-318.
  11. Li S et al. Effects of menopause on hepatic 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 actvity and adrenal sensitivity to adrenocorticotropin in healthy non-obese women. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2011;27(10):794-799.
  12. Andersson T et al. Tissue-specific increases in 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in normal weight postmenopausal women. PLoS One. 2009;4(12):e8475.
  13. Andersson T et al. Estrogen reduces 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in liver and visceral, but not subcutaneous, adipose tissue in rats. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(3):470-475.
  14. McTernan PG et al. Gender differences in the regulation of P450 aromatase expression and activity in human adipose tissue. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000;24(7):875-881.
  15. Castro AV et al. Obesity, insulin resistance and comorbidities? Mechanisms of association. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2014;58(6):600-609.
  16. Plymate SR et al. Inhibition of sex hormone-binding globulin production in the human hepatoma (Hep G2) cell line by insulin and prolactin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988;67(3):460-464.
  17. Loukovaara M et al. Regulation of production and secretion of sex hormone-binding globulin in HepG2 cell cultures by hormones and growth factors. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995;80(1):160-164.
  18. Davis SR et al. The contribution of SHBG to the variation in HOMA-IR is not dependent on endogenous oestrogen or androgen levels in postmenopausal women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012;77(4):541-547.
  19. Janssen I et al. Testosterone and visceral fat in midlife women: the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) fat patterning study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(3):604-610.
  20. Klok MD et al. The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obes Rev. 2007;8(1):21-34.
  21. Engin A. Diet-induced obesity and the mechanism of leptin resistance. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;960:381-397.
  22. Harris RBS. Development of leptin resistance in sucrose drinking rats is assocated with consuming carbohydrate-containing solutions and not calorie-free sweet solution. Appetite. 2018;132:114-121.
  23. Diamanti-Kandarakis E et al. Mechanisms in endocrinology: aging and anti-aging: a combo-endocrinology overview Eur J Endocrinol. 2017;176(6):R283-R308.
  24. Levine JA. Sick of sitting. Diabetologia. 2015;58(8):1751-1758.
  25. Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305.
  26. Maillard F et al. Effect of high-intensity interval training on total, abdominal and visceral fat mass: a meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2018;48(2):269-288.
  27. Maillard F et al. High-intensity interval training reduces abdominal fat mass in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Metab. 2016;42(6):433-441.
  28. Nunes PRP et al. Effect of high-intensity interval training on body composition and inflammatory markers in obese postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2018;Oct 1.
  29. Cramer H et al. Yoga for menopausal symptoms-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2018;109:13-25.
  30. Pascoe MC et al. Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: a meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017;86:152-168.
  31. Caputo T et al. From chronic overnutrition to metainflammation and insulin resistance: adipose tissue and liver contributions. FEBS Lett. 2017;591(19):3061-3088.
  32. Gabel K et al. Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: a pilot study. Nutr Healthy Aging. 2018;4(4):345-353.
  33. Sutton EF et al. Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress even without weight loss in men with prediabetes. Cell Metab. 2018;27(6):1212-1221.e3.
  34. Koren D et al. Role of sleep quality in the metabolic syndrome. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2016;9:281-310.
  35. Chaput JP et al. Change in sleep duration and visceral fat accumulation over 6 years in adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(5):E9-12.
  36. Sweatt SK et al. Sleep quality is differentially related to adiposity in adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2018;98:46-51.
  37. Huang T et al. Habitual sleep quality and diurnal rhythms of salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone in postmenopausal women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017;84:172-180.
  38. Kline CE et al. Poor sleep quality is associated with insulin resistance in postmenopausal women with and without metabolic syndrome. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2018;16(4):183-189.

 

Sara Gottfried, MD

Sara Gottfried, MD is a board-certified gynecologist and physician scientist. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed residency at the University of California at San Francisco. Over the past two decades, Dr. Gottfried has seen more than 25,000 patients and specializes in identifying the underlying cause of her patients’ conditions to achieve true and lasting health transformations, not just symptom management.

Dr. Gottfried is the President of Metagenics Institute, which is dedicated to transforming healthcare by educating, inspiring, and mobilizing practitioners and patients to learn about and adopt personalized lifestyle medicine. Dr. Gottfried is a global keynote speaker who practices evidence-based integrative, precision, and Functional Medicine. She has written three New York Times bestselling books: The Hormone Cure, The Hormone Reset Diet, and her latest, Younger: A Breakthrough Program to Reset Your Genes, Reverse Aging, and Turn Back the Clock 10 Years.

Annalouise O’Connor, PhD, RD

Dr. Annalouise O’Connor is the R&D Manager for Therapeutic Platforms and Lead for Cardiometabolic and Obesity platforms at Metagenics. Her role involves research coordination, as well as developing formulas for targeted nutrition solutions and programs to assist practitioners in the optimal management of their patients’ health. Annalouise trained as an RD and worked in clinical and public health settings. Dr. O’Connor completed her PhD in the Nutrigenomics Research Group at University College Dublin (Ireland) and postdoctoral work at the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute.

 

Dr. Phil Shares: Staying Keto over the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for those following a diet, the holidays may stir up stress and anxiety around food. The ketogenic diet is not the most “social” diet, but there are ways to stick to it, even in the most daunting of times, such as holiday celebrations.

If you can’t eat keto, at least aim for low-carb

Your holiday party may not be stocked full of keto-friendly foods, but there is a high probability that you can nibble on some low-carb options. The cheese platter is, more often than not, a pretty safe bet for cheese (of course!), but also for other low-carb foods such as nuts and meats. Just stay clear of candy-coated nuts, dried fruits, and cured meats you suspect may have added sugar!

Another low-carb holiday party go-to is the veggie platter. Lucky for you, this usually gets the least attention by guests, thereby giving you full access to it. Stick to the low-carb vegetables options such as broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and cucumber. If your event is serving dinner, opt for the meats or any salads (without sugar-loaded dressings), and low-carb vegetables. Things to stay away from are the mashed potatoes, any bread/pastry-like foods, sauces, and, of course, the sweets. Sticking with low-carb as opposed to ditching the diet completely will make transitioning back into ketosis much easier.

Prepare for success and give yourself options

If you are uncomfortable not knowing what food options will be available at your holiday gathering, prepare some food in advance. Better yet, prepare a keto-friendly dish to share with everyone! Take a high-fat dip to pair with that veggie platter and a salad dressing you can pour on any dry salads to avoid sugary dressings. You can also pack some snacks such as high-fat nuts (e.g. macadamia nuts) to graze on throughout the evening. Additionally, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a great tool for ketogenic living. Fill a small jar with MCT oil to take with you and use on any dish or in beverages. MCTs are highly ketogenic and have even been shown to increase ketone production without carbohydrate restriction.1

The popularity of the ketogenic diet has made it simple to find recipes that anyone can enjoy. Consider making a ketogenic dessert to bring and share so you can “indulge” too, while also preventing you from caving into the temptations of sugar-laden treats.

Stay positive and remember your “why”

It can be difficult to gain the support of those around you when your dietary choices are perceived as something as radical as a ketogenic diet may seem to some. You may even be tempted to ditch the diet for the sake of your peers or those family members who just won’t back down from having you try “just one bite.” Be prepared to explain to others what the ketogenic diet is and why you follow it. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all diet, and it is perfectly fine to have different views from others. Just stay true to yourself, remember your “why,” and stay positive, because there is nothing worse than engaging in a debate over food choices!

Tips for alcohol

Alcohol isn’t generally conducive to living a ketogenic lifestyle, and if you have no problem abstaining from it completely, that is your best option. If having a drink in your hand makes you feel more comfortable in a crowd, take club soda and sliced lemon with you; this will help you feel less segregated. With all this said, celebrations may be times when you can make exceptions (within reason). There are ways to enjoy a drink or two and stick to your goals; you just have to know what to look out for. For wines, opt for the driest you can find, white or red, and avoid sweet wines such as rosé. Most liquors are acceptable on their own or enjoyed with club soda or sugar-free beverages. Beers typically contain more carbohydrates, and they should probably be limited to one. If nutrition labels are available, check to see what the lowest-carbohydrate beer options are. Coolers and ciders are to be avoided due to their high sugar content.

Be kind to yourself and don’t overthink it

If you take into consideration all of the recommendations above, there is no reason to be stressed or anxious about your diet as you enter into the holidays. You are following a ketogenic diet to improve your health, right? Well, being kind to yourself is part of healthy living, and sometimes that means accepting that your diet can’t always be perfect. Also, keep in mind that you can always jump right back into the swing of things; a few days of indulging does not mean you have “failed.” There is more to health than simply what you put in your mouth, so do the best you can, be prepared, but most importantly, don’t get down on yourself if things don’t go as planned. Instead of focusing on your food options, focus on enjoying your time with loved ones over this holiday season.

As we said, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, and your diet shouldn’t change that for you.

General Wellness, Ketogenic

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Resources:

  1. McCarty MF et al. Lauric acid-rich medium-chain triglycerides can substitute for other oils in cooking applications and may have limited pathogenicity. Open Heart. 2016;3(2):e000467.

Dr. Phil Shares: Insulin Resistance Causes and Symptoms

One in three North Americans—including half of those age 60 and older— have a silent blood sugar problem known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases the risk for prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and a host of other serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, body fat and liver start resisting or ignoring the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out—which is to grab glucose out of the bloodstream and put it into our cells. Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the body’s main source of fuel. We get glucose from grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and drinks that bring break down into carbohydrates.

How Insulin Resistance Develops

While genetics, aging and ethnicity play roles in developing insulin sensitivity, the driving forces behind insulin resistance include excess body weight, too much belly fat, a lack of exercise, smoking, and even skimping on sleep.4

As insulin resistance develops, your body fights back by producing more insulin. Over months and years, the beta cells in your pancreas that are working so hard to make insulin get worn out and can no longer keep pace with the demand for more and more insulin. Then – years after insulin resistance silently began – your blood sugar may begin to rise and you may develop prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. You may also develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a growing problem associated with insulin resistance that boosts your risk for liver damage and heart disease. 5

Signs and Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is usually triggered by a combination of factors linked to weight, age, genetics, being sedentary and smoking.

– A large waist. Experts say the best way to tell whether you’re at risk for insulin resistance involves a tape measure and moment of truth in front of the bathroom mirror. A waist that measures 35 inches or more for women, 40 or more for men (31.5 inches for women and 35.5 inches for men if you’re of Southeast Asian, Chinese or Japanese descent)increases the odds of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which is also linked to insulin resistance.

– You have additional signs of metabolic syndrome. According to the National Institutes of Health,in addition to a large waist, if you have three or more of the following, you likely have metabolic syndrome, which creates insulin resistance.

  • High triglycerides. Levels of 150 or higher, or taking medication to treat high levels of these blood fats.
  • Low HDLs. Low-density lipoprotein levels below 50 for women and 40 for men – or taking medication to raise low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
  • High blood pressure. Readings of 130/85 mmHg or higher, or taking medication to control high blood pressure
  • High blood sugar. Levels of 100-125 mg/dl (the prediabetes range) or over 125 (diabetes).
  • High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

– You develop dark skin patches. If insulin resistance is severe, you may have visible skin changes. These include patches of darkened skin on the back of your neck or on your elbows, knees, knuckles or armpits. This discoloration is called acanthosis nigricans.8

Health Conditions Related to Insulin Resistance

An estimated 87 million American adults have prediabetes; 30-50% will go on to develop full-blown type 2 diabetes. In addition, up to 80% of people with type 2 diabetes have NAFLD.9 But those aren’t the only threats posed by insulin resistance.

Thanks to years of high insulin levels followed by an onslaught of cell-damaging high blood sugar, people with insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Insulin resistance doubles your risk for heart attack and stroke – and triples the odds that your heart attack or ‘brain attack’ will be deadly, according to the International Diabetes Federation.10

Meanwhile, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are also linked with higher risk for cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, cervix, pancreas, prostate and uterus.11, 12  The connection: High insulin levels early in insulin resistance seem to fuel the growth of tumors and to suppress the body’s ability to protect itself by killing off malignant cells. 13

How You Can Prevent or Reverse Insulin Resistance

Losing weight, getting regular exercise and not skimping on sleep can all help improve your insulin sensitivity. Don’t rely on dieting or exercise alone: in one fascinating University of New Mexico School of Medicine study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, overweight people who lost 10% of their weight through diet plus exercise saw insulin sensitivity improve by an impressive 80%. Those who lost the same amount of weight through diet alone got a 38% increase. And those who simply got more exercise, but didn’t lose much weight, saw almost no shift in their level of insulin resistance.14 

Turn in on time, too. In a study presented at the 2015 meeting of the Obesity Society, researchers found that just one night of sleep deprivation boosted insulin resistance as much as eating high-fat foods for six months.15

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Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Quick + Easy Ways To Incorporate Wellness Into Your Week

With all of the go, go, go that comes with being a busy, working woman, sometimes our own health falls to the wayside. We get it, not everyone has the time to hit a two-hour Pilates class every day…we certainly don’t! We’re all about striking a balance here and figuring out simple ways to improve our health on the daily. Let’s keep it simple and dive right into our five quick and easy wellness tips to improve your week.

easy wellness tips

Increase Your Intake of Hydrating Foods

Every wellness article you read is going to tell you to drink your body weight in water, and you should! But just in case you’re not the best at guzzling gallons of water in one sitting, try snacking on it! Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and zucchinis are about 95 percent water. Increase your intake of these tasty snacks and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. We also love mixing in a shot of this hydrating inner beauty boost into our water!

Micro-Dose Your Vitamin D

Set a timer on your phone, write it on your to-do list, do whatever you need to do to incorporate fresh air into your day. Before lunch each day, head outside for a 15-minute walk and soak up the sunshine. Fifteen minutes may not sound like much, but it’s enough to get your blood pumping and also shift your mindset. Pencil in a minimum of one walk per day, but if you can swing more, do it!

Eat Mindfully

So many of us (*guilty hand raised*) eat like it’s just something else to check off our to-do list. We often eat our lunch at our desk in front of a computer, or at home in front of the television. This often leads to overeating or mindless snacking! When it’s time to eat a meal, choose somewhere intentional to sit that doesn’t involve devices with screens. This will help you feel mindful as you eat, breathing between bites, and taking note of when your body is satisfied.

Try Dry Brushing

Never heard of dry brushing? It has a surprising number of benefits, including lymphatic system stimulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and transporting waste to the blood. Dry brushing can stimulate the lymphatic system as it stimulates and invigorates the skin. It helps with everything from improving the appearance of skin to supporting digestion. Try our favorite brush here

Do Bedtime Yoga

This is one of our favorite ways to end the day. You literally do yoga in your bed, what could be more relaxing? We follow this routine, but feel free to find one that you look forward to doing each night!

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 8 Great Things About Exercising at Lunch

8 Great Things About Exercising at Lunch

Between work, social obligations and general life responsibilities, it can be difficult to fit everything into one day. That often leads to healthy activities like working out being relegated to extracurricular status and never becoming part of your routine.

Given all that, squeezing in a lunchtime workout might seem impossible. And yet … below we’ve got eight reasons to do exactly that. Once you start reaping the physical and mental benefits of midday exercise, you might never go back.

1
IT WILL DE-STRESS YOUR DAY

Nothing wards off stress quicker than a good sweat session. Per Harvard Medical School, exercise “has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.” It’s been successfully used to treat anxiety disorders and even clinical depression, so it can help you cope with a day full of meetings or that big presentation.

2
YOUR WORKOUTS WILL BE MORE EFFICIENT

If you’ve got nowhere to be, it’s easy to move slowly through a workout, taking time to check your phone, scroll through your playlist or just sit and relax on a weight bench. But when you’re due back in the office, you’ve got extra incentive to make the most of your time. And fortunately, between cardio, weight circuits and HIIT classes, you don’t need more than 30–40 minutes to get in a great workout.

3
YOU’LL UNDO DESK-RELATED DAMAGE

It’s just not healthy to sit all day. Over the years, studies have shown sedentary behavior is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease and poor circulation. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a 61% increase in mortality rates in those who sit and watch TV for seven hours or more per day. So getting up from your desk to stretch or walk around is a great start. Getting up from your desk to exercise for 30–45 minutes is even better.

4
IT FREES UP YOUR EVENINGS

If you’re tired of choosing between the gym and dinner with friends, well, now you won’t have to. Exercise during lunch and your night will be free to spend as you please, without the guilt of knowing you’ve missed yet another workout.

5
YOU’LL BEAT THE CROWDS

Sure, this article could cause everyone to make a mad dash to the gym. But the reality is that, on weekdays, most people work out in the morning or in the evening. That leaves the gym less crowded for lunchtime exercisers like you, so you can nab a coveted bike in that popular spin class or knock out a quick gym session without waiting on machines.

6
YOU’LL MAKE BETTER FOOD CHOICES

Even though you may feel hungry after working out, studies show exercise can help to regulate appetite and even promote satiety. It does this by releasing hormones that help the body better recognize when it’s full. So if you work out during the day, you’re not only getting the healthy benefits of exercise, but you’re more likely to make smart choices at lunch and dinner.

7
YOU’LL FEEL MORE ENERGIZED

A good workout gets the endorphins flowing, and endorphins contribute to that feeling of euphoria, often referred to as a “runner’s high.” That good feeling doesn’t stop the second you stop moving. Instead, the increased heart rate and blood flow can be accompanied by improved mood and energy for several hours after a workout, which means you’ll have the energy you need to tackle the rest of your afternoon.

8
IT’LL BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

In addition to improving your physical energy, exercise can also increase mental alertness and creative thinking. According to British researchers, workers who spent 30–60 minutes exercising at lunch reported an average performance boost of 15%. And 60% of workers saw improved time management skills, mental performance and ability to meet deadlines on days they exercised.

With all those reasons to work out during lunch, you might as well give it a try. And if your boss gives you a hard time about leaving in the middle of the day, just say (diplomatically) that you’re exercising because you care about your job and want to perform at your best.

 

by Kevin Gray

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Keto Recipes to Satisfy Your Cravings

Livin’ La Keto Loca

Creative cooking for the keto lifestyle

When it comes to a ketogenic diet, it’s no surprise that many of your favorite foods are off limits (e.g., sugary treats, carb-filled breads and pastas, etc.). And for most people, that’s enough of a deterrent to stay away from keto altogether. Don’t write it off just yet—you can enjoy delicious savory and even sweet foods even when following the strict keto macronutrient profile. These amazing recipes will prove it.

Egg-citing Breakfasts

Delicious Dinners

Savory Snacks

California Sunrise Bowl
Blueberry Scones
Ketolicious Chicken Empañadas
Fat Pizza
La Keto Loca Quesadillas
Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
Cheesy Chicken Casserole
Taco ’Bout It Keto Skillet
Jalapeño Parm Crisps
Keto-Style Pigs in a Blanket

 

Egg-citing Breakfasts

California Sunrise Bowl

Makes 1 Serving

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ link chorizo sausage (4″ long)
  • ½ ripe California avocado
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp. salsa
  • ⅛ cup cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook chorizo over medium-high heat in a skillet.
  2. Place chorizo on a paper towel and pour out some of the grease, setting some aside for the eggs.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, add leftover chorizo grease, then break in eggs and scramble. For extra fluffiness, add milk (optional). Once cooked, add eggs to the bottom of a bowl.
  4. Top eggs with chorizo and layer on avocado, cheese, tomato, sour cream, and cilantro.
    Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 530 calories, 13 g carbs, 43 g fat, 26 g protein

 

Blueberry Scones

Makes 12 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ tsp. stevia
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, stevia, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir in eggs, whipping cream, oil, and vanilla and mix until a dough forms. Add blueberries; carefully mix through.
  4. On the baking sheet, pat dough into a rectangle, about 10” x 8” in size.
  5. Cut dough into 6 squares, then cut each square diagonally to form two triangles. Gently lift scones and distribute them around the pan.
  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and slightly firm. Remove and allow to cool. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 150 calories, 6 g carbs, 12 g fat, 5 g protein

Delicious Dinners

Ketolicious Chicken Empañadas

Makes 3 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Crust:
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 large egg

Filling:

  • 6 oz. ground chicken
  • 1¼ tsp. Metagenics MCT oil
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Crust:

  1. Cut cream cheese into 4-5 pieces and add to a bowl along with mozzarella cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. While cheese is still hot, mix in almond flour. Add egg and mix well.
  2. On a nonstick sheet, roll out dough into a flat circle.
  3. Using a cookie cutter, create 6-8 circles, approximately 5″ in diameter.

Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place dough circles onto a nonstick baking pan. Layer filling on one side of the circle.
  2. Fold and press down the edges, creating a half-moon shape.
  3. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 370 calories, 4 g carbs, 27 g fat, 26 g protein

 

Fat Pizza

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Crust:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ Tbsp. psyllium husk powder

Topping:

  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 5 oz. shredded cheese
  • 1½ oz. pepperoni

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. For crust, melt cheese in a bowl and add eggs to combine. Add flour and husk powder to mixture and knead dough into a ball.
  2. Apply some olive oil to the bottom of the baking pan to keep from sticking. Flatten the ball of dough directly over oil, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove and allow to cool.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Spread tomato paste on crust and sprinkle oregano on top. Top with cheese and pepperoni.
  4. Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 355 calories, 8.4 g carbs, 26 g fat, 23 g protein

 

La Keto Loca Quesadillas

Makes 3 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
Low-Carb Tortillas:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1½ tsp. ground psyllium husk powder
  • 1 Tbsp. almond flour
  • ½ tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 5 oz. shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 oz. spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil

DIRECTIONS:
Tortillas:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Beat eggs and egg whites together until fluffy, then add cream cheese and continue to beat until smooth.
  2. Combine salt, psyllium husk powder, and almond flour in a small bowl and mix well. Beat flour mixture into batter until combined; ensure batter is thick and allow to rest. (If needed, add more husk powder to increase thickness.)
  3. Using a spatula, spread batter over parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake 5-7 minutes until edges brown, then cut into pieces; alternatively, you may fry batter in rounds on the stove.

Quesadillas:

  1. Heat oil (or butter) in a small, non-stick skillet. Add tortilla to pan, top with a handful of spinach and sprinkle with cheese, then fold in half; fry for a couple minutes on eat side until cheese is melted. Alternatively, you may leave tortilla open and add a second tortilla on top to close. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 410 calories, 6 g carbs, 36 g fat, 17 g protein

 

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 16 slices bacon
  • 16 medium spears asparagus
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Wrap each slice of bacon tightly around each asparagus spear, then season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Use tongs to turn each piece around, then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until bacon is crispy. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 233 calories, 5 g carbs, 16 g fat, 18 g protein

 

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. green pesto
  • ½ lemon juice
  • 1½ lb. chicken breasts
  • 7 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. cauliflower
  • 1 leek
  • 4 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 7 oz. shredded cheese
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Mix cream with pesto and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and fry in oil until golden brown.
  3. Place chicken in a greased 9” x 13” baking dish, then pour in cream mixture.
  4. Chop leek, cherry tomatoes, and cauliflower into small florets and add to dish to top chicken.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for at least 30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Serve and enjoy!
Per Serving: 355 calories, 11 g carbs, 25 g fat, 29 g protein

 

Taco ’Bout It Keto Skillet

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ medium white onion, diced
  • ½ large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 3 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 12 oz. cauliflower rice
  • 4 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, then add in beef and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until brown.
  2. Add in onion, bell pepper, and taco seasoning and for cook 3 more minutes.
  3. Stir in green chilies and tomatoes along with cauliflower rice. Cook 5-7 minutes until moisture is gone.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese and cover until melted, about 2 minutes. Add toppings of choice (avocado, sour cream, cilantro, or jalapeno), serve, and enjoy!
Per Serving: 376 calories, 12 g carbs, 21 g fat, 33 g protein

Savory Snacks

Jalapeño Parm Crisps

Makes 2 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 8 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium jalapeño

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. On a baking mat or parchment paper, create 8 mounds of Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp. each spaced 1” apart.
  2. Slice jalapeño thinly, then lay on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes; remove and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, lay a jalapeño slice on top of each mound of Parmesan, pressing down slightly.
  4. Split both cheddar slices into 4 pieces (8 total) and lay each piece on top of the jalapeño and Parmesan.
  5. Bake for 9 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 200 calories, 4 g carbs, 15 g fat, 13 g protein

 

Keto-Style Pigs in a Blanket

Makes 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 medium hot dogs
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut each hot dog into 3 equal-sized pieces; set aside.
  2. Melt mozzarella in microwave and combine with almond flour and egg.
  3. Add baking powder, garlic powder, and salt to the mixture; mix well.
  4. Form dough in hands, split into 12 pieces, and roll pieces into balls.
  5. Place dough balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press each ball flat into an oval shape.
  6. Wrap each piece of hot dog in the pieces of dough. Sprinkle outside with sesame seeds, pressing down to stick.
  7. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
Per Serving: 330 calories, 5 g carbs, 28 g fat, 15 g protein

 

Thanks for sharing Metagenics: Ketogenic

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Comprehensive Food Sensitivity Testing in Guelph

Food Sensitivities

Electro Dermal Screening (EDS) Food Sensitivity Testing is done in-house at Forward Health, at anytime Dr. Laura is available.  Please call reception to book your appointment for testing and follow-up today. If you are a new patient, Dr. Laura will need to see you first to evaluate the specifics of your individualized testing profile.

Often sensitivities go undiagnosed because the reaction is gradual and will happen within 3minutes to 3 days. This makes it more difficult to pinpoint which food is the trigger. Being sensitive to a food may mean the person needs to avoid it completely, or be able to have a small amount occasionally. Sometimes after months of abstinence, a food may be reintroduced without an issue. Symptoms of food sensitivity can be variable and may involve:

SKIN: eczema, skin rashes, dark circles under the eyes, puffiness

JOINTS: pain, inflammation

BRAIN: difficulty concentrating, fatigue, depression, hyperactivity

GI: damage to the mucosal lining, perforation & “leaky gut”. This can make it difficult for nutrients and vitamins to absorb into the body and the person over time can become deficient in things like iron, zinc, and B12. It can also rear itself as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.

WEIGHT GAIN: always good to rule out food sensitivities when there is unexplained weight gain.

photo from health nest nutrition

Who is at risk?

  • Often affiliated with autoimmune disease (SLE/lupus, thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), toxic exposure to heavy metals, molds & family history.
  • Aggravated by alcohol, strenuous exercise and NSAIDs (Advil, Ibuprofen)
  • History exogenous hormone exposure (birth control pills, pesticides, plastics), antibiotics

What foods typically cause IgG reactions?

  • Dairy, wheat, egg, sugar, corn & soy
  • Some with RA find the nightshade family harmful: (potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant)

How do I learn if I have an sensitivity?

IgG testing can be accessed through your health care practitioner via electrodermal screening or blood draw test. Call for availability.

What’s the difference between food sensitivity and food allergies?

Food sensitivities are a delayed response 3 minutes – 3 days later, as discussed above. Food sensitivities are not an immediate threat to life.  Food allergies are an immediate (within 5-10minutes of ingesting the food) IgE immune response that can be life threatening.  Once a food allergy (often shellfish or peanut) are identified, the body amps up its response at every subsequent exposure. Mast cells and basophils release proinflammatory mediators in response to allergen exposure. This is why it is important for people with food allergies to carry an EPI pen, use it when needed and get themselves to a hospital if they are exposed to the particular food. Symptoms of food allergy can be variable and may involve:

MOOD: feeling of doom or very unwell.

SKIN: hives, urticaria (pale red raised itchy bumps), swelling or flaring of atopic dermatitis (skin irritation)

RESPIRATORY: wheezing, asthma symptoms, allergic rhinitis symptoms, throat tightness, and trouble breathing.

GI: nausea, vomit, pain, difficulty swallowing

Combined together in a very fast response, the person may experience ANAPHYLAXIS, a serious and potentially life threatening allergic reaction. Note that aside from food, insect bites, stings, medications can also be a trigger.

What foods typically cause IgE reactions?

  • Peanut, Pollen (could be on fresh fruit), shellfish, fish, sesame seeds, tree nuts, soy, dairy, eggs, and wheat.
  • Made worse with alcohol, exercise, NSAIDs (Advil, ibuprofen)

What if someone is experiencing these symptoms and has a known food allergy?epipen

  1. Ask if they have an EPI pen and where they keep it. It will administer epinephrine which will increase their heart rate and open their airways.
  2. Ask if you can get it for them
  3. Allow the person to administer the EPI pen themselves. It should be placed at the thigh and pressed into the muscle.
  4. If no EPI, consider a dose of Benadryl
  5.  Get the person to the hospital immediately.

How do I learn if I have an allergy?

IgE testing can be done by your health care practitioner via skin prick or blood test. A naturopathic doctor may order some IgE blood tests for food allergy and it is usually an immunologist whom will do the skin prick test to diagnose and provide an EPI pen prescription if need be. Feel free to call Forward Health and book an appointment to discuss your concerns and needs and to obtain the appropriate requisition via Dr. Laura.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Phil Shares: 6 Most Important Tips for Building Muscle

6 Most Important Tips for Building Muscle

Whether your goal is to get bigger and stronger, or improve power and explosiveness for sports, you want to see progress — and pronto.

But building muscle efficiently requires more than just putting in time at the weight rack. Along with your strength training regimen, diet and lifestyle choices all play important roles.

But before you even start thinking about how to build muscle, it’s instructive to know the primary factors that determine just how much of it you can gain.

3 Factors Affecting Muscle Growth

These are the main criteria dictating increases in muscle size, or hypertrophy — and two of them are outside your control.

Sex

Simmer down — we’re talking gender. The male persuasion unsurprisingly has a decided advantage when it comes to building muscle. That’s due in large part to far greater levels of testosterone and a higher red blood cell count among men than women, who typically have to go to more extraordinary lengths to gain size.

Genetics

Similar to the way it governs how much hair you get to keep, heredity determines how much muscle you can develop. Thanks to genetics, a segment of the populace is born with a higher number of type II, or fast-twitch, muscle fibers, which have the greatest potential for growth.

Training Specificity

The factor you can change — and the one we’ll spend much of this article focusing on — is the approach you take to your workouts overall. There are different protocols that distinguish lifting for mass from lifting for strength.

Generally speaking, lifting very heavy weights in low volume is how to gain strength, and lifting moderately heavy weights in high volume is how to gain muscle.

Woman doing benchpress

How to Build Muscle: The 6 Most Important Things You Can Do

For those seeking tips on how to gain muscle, here are some strategies to get you started.

1. Perform multi-joint exercises

Resistance training is the most efficient way to build lean mass — especially if you pack your workouts with big, compound (multi-joint) moves like the squat, bench press, lunge, and pull-up.

“You can certainly build muscle with all types of moves, but a strong base in multi-joint efforts, at least some of the time, is a good idea,” says Michael Ormsbee, Ph.D., interim director of the Institute of Sports Science & Medicine at Florida State University.

Science agrees: Compound exercises cause the greatest increase in testosterone, a key muscle-building hormone, according to researchers at the University of Connecticut.

2. Eat more protein

Now that you’re lifting weights, you need to consume more protein to promote muscle repair, recovery, and growth since amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are necessary to build muscle tissue.

When you’re planning your high-protein meals, 20 grams of protein is the optimal amount generally accepted for muscle growth. Research has found that the body doesn’t use much more than 20 grams for muscle-building at any one sitting. Around 80 grams of protein per day (or, four meals containing 20-grams of protein each) is about right for most people.

If you want to calculate the optimal protein amount for you and your goals, Beachbody recommends 0.5 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of desired lean bodyweight per day, depending on exercise intensity. (The harder the workout, the more protein is needed for growth and recovery.)

If you have ambitious muscle-building goals, such as committing to Beachbody’s Body Beast program, shoot for the higher end of the range by adding one or two additional protein-rich snacks to your day.

Shakeology is a great way to sneak in additional calories and nutrients and contains 16 to 17 grams of protein (depending on the flavor).

3. Don’t just lift heavy

When you lift heavy weights or do explosive exercises like sprinting, you target the type-II muscle fibers we discussed earlier. But studies show that type-I fibers (a.k.a. slow twitch — the kind used in endurance activities ) also have growth potential, so don’t ignore them.

Once every week or two, target those type-I fibers with low weight, high rep work (e.g., 3-4 sets of 15 or more reps per exercise). Or simply follow a Beachbody program such as Body Beast21-Day Fix, P90X, 22-Minute Hard Corps, or The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, which have that kind of variation built in.

4. Get plenty of shut-eye

Shoot for a minimum of seven hours a night. Getting less than that on a regular basis can cause you to rack up sleep debt, which can put the brakes on protein synthesis (a.k.a. muscle growth) and increase protein (read: muscle) degradation, according to a study by Brazilian researchers.

Plus, you won’t reap the full benefits of human growth hormone, the levels of which spike while you’re in dreamland. Have trouble sleeping? Try these natural tips on how to get good sleep tonight.

5. Increase weight responsibly

You need to challenge your muscles to trigger growth, but you also need to be smart about how you go about it. If you increase the amount of weight you’re lifting too quickly, you’ll increase your risk of injury. But if you do it too slowly, you’ll shortchange your results or hit a plateau.

So how do you strike a balance? Pay attention to the effort you’re exerting. If you’re lifting with perfect form, and your last few reps an exercise feel similar to your first few, you know it’s time to reach for a heavier weight.

6. Allow time for recovery

Muscles grow between workouts, not during them, so make recovery a priority. In practice, that means eating healthier, consuming more protein, and not overtraining. Take at least one to two days off per week to allow your muscles to fully recover.

“Training too often or at too-high an intensity too frequently — without rest and recovery — can actually hurt your muscle-building efforts,” says Ormsbee.

Your move: Take at least one to two days off per week to allow your muscles to fully recover, and maximize the effectiveness of your downtime by doing light cross training (e.g. hiking, cycling) or activities like foam rolling and yoga.

If you are patient, focused, and consistent with your workouts and recovery, you will see results.

In addition to consuming more protein, there are a number of nutritional steps you can take to bulk up responsibly.

1. Increase calories

“No one can be in a significant calorie deficit and gain muscle,” says Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab.

To find out how many more calories you should consume to gain weight, determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight — your baseline — then add 300. And if you’re following a muscle-building program like Body Beast, add the recommended calories outlined in the guide.

2. Strike the right mix of macros

Whether your calories come from carbs, fat, or protein goes a long way in determining whether your weight gain comes from muscle or from fat.

An easy and relatively fast way to gain muscle is bulking first, then leaning out, which is the idea behind programs like Body Beast. Using this method, you only have to focus on one thing at a time — building, then getting lean, versus trying to increase mass while simultaneously limiting fat gain.

To increase weight gained from fat, your macros should emphasize carbohydrates and fat, since it’s the most calorically dense macronutrient. The bulk of that fat should come from unsaturated sources such as avocado, olive oil, and salmon.

3. Focus on post-workout nutrition

Generally, you should consume about 20 grams of protein with some carbs shortly after a workout. One way to get the right mix is with Beachbody Peformance Recover, which combines time-released proteins and phytonutrients to aid recovery and reduce muscle breakdown.

During the post-workout anabolic window, you’ll also want to limit fats, which can slow the absorption of protein. While there is some recent research that suggeststhe window may actually extend up to several hours following exercise, there’s no harm in getting nutrients in early as long as you’re sticking to your overall caloric and macronutrient goals.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Wheat & Gluten Sensitivity Testing

WHEAT & GLUTEN SENSITIVITY TESTING

There are over 100 proteins in wheat, which includes gluten, but is not limited to gluten.

Every time any of us eats gluten, some damage is done to the small intestinal lining. For most, it recovers and repairs in about twenty minutes . For those who are genetically susceptible it may take up to five hours. Then the next meal comes. Over time, repeated meals containing gluten repeat the damage, with little time of repair and recovery and eventually the body cannot keep up. Some trigger point of stress or illness may make it more difficult for the recovery. Then the signs and symptoms may show up. Not everyone has traditional symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, bowel issues, pain, gas, or bloating. Some have apparently no symptoms at all.

Gluten sensitivity plays a role in things like:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • autism
  • schizophrenia
  • cerebellar ataxia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • fertility
  • autoimmunity
  • celiac disease
  • dermatitis herpatiformis
  • polymyalgia

 

A lot of gastroenterologists know how to screen for celiac disease, they’ll typically test for antibodies to alpha-gliadin, transglutaminase-2, maybe if they’re current with the scientific literature they’ll also screen for antibodies to deamidated gliadin and endomysium.

If some of these tests are positive, then they might do a biopsy to determine if there is damage in the small intestine. If the tests are negative, the patient’s generally told that they don’t have celiac or gluten intolerance and that’s as far at it goes.

However, research shows that people can and do react to several other components in wheat above and beyond alpha-gliadin, the fraction of wheat that is involved in the pathogenesis of celiac disease, and these include other epitopes of gliadin like beta-gliadin, gamma-gliadin and omegagliadin; glutenin, which is the other major half of the wheat protein; wheat germ agglutinin, which is a lectin in wheat; gluteomorphin; and deamidated gliadin. What’s more, people can react to other types of tissue transglutaminase, aside from tGT-2, including type 3, which is primarily found in the skin, and type 6, which is primarily found in the brain and nervous system tissue.

If this is you, the gluten you eat may affect your brain or your skin, or maybe your muscle, but you will be completely missed by conventional testing. I emphasize – just because the two markers your conventional doc tests your for come back negative, it does not mean you are not free from wheat related damage. Also, just because you do not have symptoms you think are related to wheat, doesn’t mean you are free from its (potential) body-wide damage.

How do I find out?

Enter Cyrex Array 3 testing. It is the most comprehensive form of wheat sensitivity testing available today. It involves a simple blood test and will test for the two markers your conventional doctor sends for plus 22 other markers.  You’ll have to confirm this at time of testing as pricing can vary. You will need an appointment with Dr. Laura M Brown, ND, Certified Gluten Practitioner, before and after your test. Dr. Laura will help interpret the test and proved direction for next steps. Dr. Laura has extended training in diagnosing and treating gluten related disorders.

Now it is important to note that Cyrex Array 3 will not diagnose Celiac, only the gold standard of positive intestinal biopsy will prove that, but it can tell you how strong the markers related to Celiac or other forms of non-celiac gluten sensitive (NCGS).

 

Here’s what the test results look like:

 

Test Prep:

 

This is a blood test that measures antibodies. As such, in order to improve the accuracy of

your test results, you must ensure adequate exposure to wheat beginning 25 to 30 days

before you schedule your blood draw.

Exposure to wheat allows your body to form antibodies if you do have sensitivity. Avoiding wheat before this test could cause a false negative result, meaning that the test states you are not sensitive to wheat when you actually are intolerant.

 

 

For more information visit www.cyrexlabs.com or book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND at Forward Health.

 

Dr. Phil Shares: What To Eat To Shed The Pounds

 There’s no getting around it — if you want to lose weight, your nutrition game needs to be on point. As the saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet.

But, there’s nothing worse than suffering through a diet that makes you miserable — especially when you still don’t see the results you want. Many fad diets are based on rules that are easy to memorize — No starchy carbs! Fast for 16 hours every day! — but are impossible to sustain.

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Eating healthy isn’t supposed to be a temporary blip. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it takes commitment.

If that sounds daunting, it’s probably because you’re used to diets that kind of suck. But they don’t have to. Eating healthy isn’t about swearing off your favorite foods and nibbling on kale leaves all day. It’s about learning to fuel your body the right way and understand how to eat so you can lose weight without feeling deprived.

One of the most important lessons you can learn from losing weight successfully is how to eat healthfully. For the rest of your life.

We favor nutritionally balanced, long-term approaches to weight loss, but the truth of the matter is that counting calories, calculating macros, monitoring portion sizes, or even cleansing may or may not help you lose weight for a variety of reasons, many of which have to do with sustainability.

So, we’re not going to provide you with a list of 25 foods to eat that are “good” for weight loss. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out the detailed recommended food and beverage lists in the Beachbody Portion Fix Eating Plan or any Beachbody program nutrition guide.

But keep in mind that these are just places to start your healthy eating education. We want to drive home the facts that it’s your weight to lose, it’s your preferences, and it’s your life that should help guide you to what you should eat — not only to lose weight, but also to live a more vivacious life.

This isn’t to say that you won’t need to retrain your palate to accept whole foods without much adornment (ie., lots of added salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats), or that you won’t need to sacrifice the richness of some of your favorite comfort foods (we’re looking at you, mac and cheese) for healthier, slimmed-down versions, or that you won’t need to trim back on portion sizes. You will likely need to do all of these things in order to lose weight.

But, the key mindset to embrace is that you do have choices. You ultimately get to determine what will and won’t go into your weekly meal plans. What you eat to lose weight shouldn’t be all that different from what you eat to maintain your health after you shed the excess pounds. So, yes, you’ll likely need to cut calories to lose weight, but you’ll also need to learn how to eat differently to maintain your results.

No matter which way you prefer to cut calories, you should focus on improving the quality of the calories you do ingest first and foremost. We’ve reduced it to three simple steps you can start today to maximize the calories you do consume when you want to lose weight.

3 STEPS TO
SHED POUNDS

 and Eat Healthy
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 1. Drink water first and most.

When you’re trying to lose weight, cleaning up your diet also means watching what you drink. If done right, juices or shakes can be healthy weight-loss tools to enhance your nutrition plan, and Shakeology is a good way to assure you’re getting plenty of nutrients when eating at a deficit (or anytime!). Just try to keep your calories from beverages to a minimum (most Shakeology varieties contain about 160 calories per scoop).

Of course, water is calorie-free and incredibly good for you. Beachbody recommends you drink your body weight, divided by two, in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds — that would be 150 divided by 2, which equals 75. That’s 75 ounces of water you should be drinking every day. To a die-hard soda drinker (even a diet soda drinker) or someone who doesn’t think about hydration much at all, this might seem like a lot of extra trips to the bathroom. To make all that plain water more palatable, try:

4a-1
  • Carbonated water. Try flavored varieties without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and caloriesUnsweetened tea. Use caffeine-free tea if desired, and spruce up the flavor with lemon or lime slices, or muddled fruit
  • Adding sliced citrus, cucumbers, strawberries, pineapples, or fresh mint leaves
  • Adding citrus peels
  • Flavoring with natural combos: ginger + cucumber + mint, or pineapples + orange peel, or strawberries + kiwi + basil.

Your mom may have told you as a 5-year-old not to fill your belly with liquid so you’d eat some dinner, but feel free to defy that rule as an adult. In fact, one study published in the journal Obesity asked 84 obese adults to either drink two cups of plain water before their main meals every day for three months, or to imagine the feeling of being full. Those who drank water before their meals lost about 2.6 pounds more than those who didn’t. These findings suggest that drinking water before your meals may be an easy way to take the edge off hunger, and possibly stop you from eating too much.

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2. Replace refined, processed foods with whole ones.

It may seem obvious that in order to lose weight and eat healthier, you need to cut way back on fried foods, creamy casseroles, and sugary confections, but it may seem less obvious what to eat instead.

As much as possible, try to cut back on highly processed foods, such as frozen meals, packaged snacks, sugar-laden cereals, bottled sauces, meats with added preservatives, etc. Instead, choose whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, lean proteins (ie., chicken, turkey, eggs, tempeh), healthy fats (ie., avocados, hummus, extra-virgin olive oil, nut butters), and whole grains (ie., oatmeal, barley, whole-grain bread, brown rice).

Whole foods provide nutrient-dense fuel that contribute to greater satiety (when compared to processed foods).

The naturally occurring fiber, water (in foods like fruits and vegetables), or protein in these foods can contribute to an increased feeling of satisfaction — often with less food (read: fewer calories).

Protein can help you feel satiated longer than carbohydrates or fat. This may be due to increased thermogenesis (the metabolic process of your body burning calories), which influences that physiological “I’m satisfied” feeling you have after consuming higher amounts of protein.

Fiber, a form of carbohydrate found in plants that humans lack the enzyme to digest, helps us feel fuller on fewer calories. A food diary analysis of successful MyFitnessPal (MFP) users (defined as those who came within five percent of their goal weights) revealed the faithful food trackers who came closest to their goals ate 30 percent more fiber. That may seem like a lot, but really the difference was only three grams per day more than other MFP users — the equivalent of having one small apple or swapping a traditional English muffin for a whole wheat one.

3. Add volume with vegetables.

Volumetrics is a way of eating that may help you feel satisfied by consuming foods with low calorie density, or less calories for any given amount. It’s essentially a fancy way of telling people to eat the majority of their calories from mostly vegetables and fruits.

Low calorie density foods such as apples are higher in fiber and water, so you’re able to eat more in volume for a similar amount of calories (compared to a higher calorie density food such as apple pie). There’s evidence to say that fiber helps you feel fuller faster, and keeps you satiated long after you eat. A small study did find that water incorporated into food (as in the case of soup) did help subjects eat less, but not if that same amount of water was served in a glass on the side.

One study confirms that when people eat foods low in energy density, their total daily calories are significantly less than when they eat foods high in energy density.

If you’re hoping that eating more whole foods will help you lose weight, you’ll want to eat these foods in lieu of processed foods, not in addition to them. Because, in the end, weight loss generally boils down to eating fewer calories.