Today's post is all about Magnesium and how it may be helpful for weight loss, insulin resistance, sleep, anxiety, heart health and blood pressure. Really? All that???
How Lack of ZZZZ’s Could Be Making You Fat
Sleep - that most luxurious, wonderful, restorative state when our body repairs and restores itself. It's also the time when the human brain cleans out the debris, and gets ready for another day, assimilates new information and processes problems to be dealt with tomorrow. It is as essential to life as the air we breathe and yet, for an increasing number of people, young and old it is becoming as elusive as Waldo in a crowded soccer stadium. I participated in a wellness day recently for a roomful of Executives and their partners, when the topic of sleep came up the questions came pouring in.…to say that it is a pain point is an understatement.
There’s good reason for that - there are no end of articles online, in magazines, in news reports, books - all about sleep…are you getting enough? Is it good quality? Should you be sleeping less? You better be, because chronic sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality has been linked to everything from obesity to cancer, low testosterone levels in men, premature aging and pretty much everything in between. Wait. Obesity??? Lack of sleep can make me fat??? Have I got your attention now?
How much sleep we really need is a bit of a moving target but the sweet spot seems to be around 7 hours per night with some experts conceding that 6.5 hours might be enough for some but up to 8 hours might serve most. In my practice, the first question I ask my clients when we are discussing sleep is “how do you feel in the morning?”. Ultimately I believe that sleep quality is underrated - who cares if you “slept” 9 hours if you wake up exhausted every morning? According to Dave Asprey in his new book Headstrong, if you get really good at sleep you might be able to get away with as few as 5 hours a night....let's leave that for another day. For now, let's explore exactly how this all works.
It turns out that even one sleepless night will negatively impact your ability to resist the Monday morning box of Krispy Kreme donuts in the office kitchen. Put a bunch of those nights together which, by all accounts an increasing number of us are, and you are looking at the double whammy of weight gain along with your body’s stubborn refusal to release the fat you’ve already got. Whaaaaat????? Here are some of the mechanisms at play in chronic sleep deprivation:
Lack of Sleep Affects Your Hormones
Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in ghrelin (hunger hormone) and a decrease in Leptin (the hormone that signals that the larder is full and that it’s safe to burn fuel for energy). This imbalance alone can lead to weight gain.
Lack of sleep also increases insulin resistance which lowers glucose tolerance - that means you are less able to metabolize carbs and sweets…. remember this…it’s important.
Your Cortisol production will increase, which not only can lead to an increase in body fat, but also an increase in inflammation, the new bad boy of pretty much any disease you can think of. As if that's not bad enough, too much cortisol too often will negatively impact your ability to build and preserve lean muscle mass, which in turn lowers your resting metabolic rate and makes it harder for you to exercise.... still with me?
Okay so you feel hungrier, you are less able to burn stored fuel for energy, you can’t process carbs and sugar, your muscles are shrinking and you are inflamed…..it gets better, check out what’s happening in your brain:
Studies were done using brain imaging techniques to try and understand what was happening in the brain. The images showed that in sleep deprived individuals who were shown pictures of food the morning after their sleepless night, there was an increase in activity in their amygdala (a primitive part of your brain - think of it as your onboard teenager who only wants to do what feels good consequences be damned) and a decrease in activity in their frontal cortex (your onboard adult who weighs decisions and considers consequences)…. can you see the freight train coming yet?
So now we have a sleepy brain that is craving junk food and doesn’t have the willpower to resist it connected to a body that is unable to control its hunger or properly process the incoming calories and is primed to hang on to everything it already has stashed…. not a pretty picture.
I'll bet you are ready to read about what you can do to improve your sleep.
Here are 12 tips to get you started:
So there you have it 12 hacks to try - but one last thing - if you wake up bleary eyed every morning and your partner won’t talk to you because your snoring kept them up all night - do yourself a favor and head over to the nearest sleep clinic to assess the issue and what can be done about it. The good news, is that once you deal with said sleep issue and lose a few pounds, you may stop snoring and, if sleep apnea is an issue, it too may resolve. That and your relationship will be infinitely better.
The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms3259
Are you an Abstainer or a Moderator? Could answering this question help with your success? A couple of years ago I ordered a great book by Gretchen Rubin the author of the Happiness Project - it’s called Better Than Before and it’s all about changing our habits. In my business, this type of information is golden. A huge part of the reason I became a Bulletproof Coach is because I quickly learned as a Nutritionist that often what holds people back the most is not that they don’t know what to do (I can usually help with that problem), it’s that they can’t, won’t or just don’t do it. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it. Until you get to that though here is one of the concepts that Gretchen presents that really stuck with me.
when it comes to consuming favourite foods which may or may not be good for you, the world is basically divided into two groups of people : Abstainers and Moderators (there are many other groups which I will explore another day but for now bear with me). Understanding which camp you fall into can be quite helpful, especially when it comes to certain foods - should you keep a dark chocolate bar in the house or should it and anything like it never, ever darken your pantry door?
Abstainers are people who, when trying to give up their “kryptonite foods” those foods that throw them off their plan in the blink of an eye, need to give these up completely. For this person, just having the food in the house (the car, their desk, their purse…wherever) means that they will obsess about it and eating it until it is completely gone. They simply cannot stop themselves and get it out of their minds. They get exhausted negotiating with themselves - just this once, only a bit, ok maybe a bit more…and so on until the offending item is consumed.
Moderators on the other hand, can have one square of chocolate, a single cookie, 6 almonds, a single small glass of wine and step away, satisfied and happy till another day. Remove this food completely from their plan, forbid it, and they become obsessed with when they can ever have it again - they will fixate on it endlessly, dreaming, fantasizing….you get the picture. This person may be better off allowing themselves the occasional indulgence (a bite of dessert, a square of dark chocolate) which may help them to do a better job sticking to their plan the rest of the time. Sometimes, all these people need is to know that they can and then they don’t - funny huh?
I would take this one step further to say that we may be abstainers for some foods (in my case sour wine gums, Jelly Belly jelly beans) and moderators for others (in my case again, dark chocolate and wine). It could be that I don’t love the latter as much as sour and chewy candies, or, that the sugar and chemicals in the candies light up my brain in a way that renders me powerless - there is no end of information out there about the dollars spent by big food companies to create addictive foods we cannot resist. If you don't believe me check out the book: *Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss, it will blow your mind and make you pretty mad to boot. Either way, my reality is that I do not buy those foods I know I cannot resist, Frito's, Doritos, Wine Gums, seriously, nutritionist or not, I am human first and I definitely can be sucked in by these foods. Not having them in the house, they are not there for me and so over the years I have developed the muscle to resist them even when I'm out ion the world and hungry.....I don’t even think about them...but it took time and sometimes at a cocktail party.....
The invitation to you today is to sit down and think about which camp you fall into and use this knowledge to set yourself up for success. Take it a step further and identify the foods that might turn you from a moderator to an abstainer and cut those out completely. Take control back of what you eat by understanding why you eat them is a first step. Knowing which came you fall into, comes next...so I ask you - are you an Abstainer or a Moderator?
Yours in good health,
The Festive Season is finally upon us and with it, one of the biggest challenges faced by my clients. Sure, there's Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day but those are all for the most part, single day events...this is weeks of parties, lunches, dinners, cocktail parties, friends, family, work...there is nowhere to hide and it is relentless. I find that there are generally two camps of people at this time of year - the first, people who have been working hard, they have developed a plan, they have stuck to it, they have made progress, sometimes they have even reached some goals. The second, people who just haven't gotten around to creating, adopting or implementing their plan...these are the people who tell me...January, in January I will start...sometimes they do, sometimes not so much. Depending on their mindset, December brings the perfect opportunity to procrastinate and delay - put off to next month (which sounds mysteriously familiar) what people have been meaning to do for a long time. ....and here comes the holiday buffet - the puff pastry appetizers, the baked Brie dripping in some jam or jelly, the office cookie exchange, or worse the colleagues who, desperate to get undesirable food out of their homes dump it into the office kitchen as a "gift". This will never change...but mindset...there's a word worth exploring....and one of the keys to getting to January in at least as good shape as you came into the festive season in.
What is your mindset? Are you following a plan because you want to or because you have to? Is it a lfestyle change or are you coming off a 30 Day plan thinking that you can now check that off the list and go back to your status quo ? Do you own it? Have you actually written down a list of reasons stating why you are doing this? Why it is important to you?? It is an interesting exercise and I invite you to try it out...a hint...go a bit deeper than what size clothes you want to wear...think about what achieving these goals will really mean to you, your life, how you feel, how you perform, how you can be there for your family, your friends, your coworkers, your employees.
In my practice, my most successful clients are the ones who have made this shift - they are not seeing me to lose 5 or 10 or 20lbs - well, actually many of them start there, but what they soon discover is that what they are really after is better health, better energy, better performance and, ulitmately, a desire to improve every aspect of their lives for the longterm...and for these people, if we can drill down into their why, write it down and own it, then they experience a shift. They are no longer denying themselves 1/2 a plate of shortbread - they are choosing not to eat it. They no longer make pronouncements to the room about what they are or are not eating - they just don't. This way, there is no discussion, no need to explain and justify, no need to defend their decision and enter into some protracted discussion about why on earth they would possibly denying themselves the "pleasures" they deserve. Really?
This post is not about diving deep into these concepts so I won't go there now...maybe some other day...but for today, let's keep it practical and real. Let's say you have made this shift, and you are committed or at least want to be - I won't lie, it still won't be easy to turn away from temptation but there are strategies you can avail yourself of to make it easier, here they are:
Have a spectacular holiday season, celebrate yourself, celebrate great health and friendships, enjoy your family, eat great food that nourishes you in every way. Honour your goals and your resolve, be strong.
To your great health!
Swanwick Blue Blocking Glasses - pretty stylish and probably hold at least part of the solution to your sleep problems...read on....
Anyone following science and nutrition these days has probably noticed that Ketones and the Ketogenic Diet sure seem to be getting a lot of attention.
For most people the Ketogenic Diet is this mysterious way of eating that seems awfully extreme. It is probably one of the most misunderstood ways of nourishing the body out there and the rumours are wild. The human body will produce ketones only under certain conditions - in starvation or extremely low carb diets (for most people less than 50 grams of carbs a day) as well as alcoholism and uncontrolled type 1 diabetes (not so good).
From an evolutionary perspective our ability to produce ketones and use them for energy (instead of glucose) in times of famine is probably largely responsible for the survival of humans as a species . Think about it - in the absence of Loblaws, McDonalds and Starbucks, our Palaeolithic ancestors (and likely all others leading up to the Agricultural Age) most probably alternated between periods of feast and famine. Given these two extremes, it makes sense that our bodies are programmed to store fat in times of plenty and then burn it for fuel in times of scarcity. Fast forward to today and most peoples’ bodies haven’t seen a ketone since the day they were born (interesting fact is that babies are born in a state of ketosis!) since our constant supply of carbs, protein and even fat ensures that there really is never a need to produce an alternative to glucose. It turns out that this may be a real shame as ongoing research seems to show increasingly that ketones have some real benefits to our bodies.
A short (incomplete) list of what ketones can do for you:
The list goes on but suffice to say that for most of us, getting some ketones into our world would be a great thing.
For many of you reading this - you are Cross Fit Athletes, a lot of what you do is anaerobic and explosive - typically not the circumstances best suited to fat adaptation. But wait. What if you could drink your ketones? What if, you could follow a nutrient dense, healthy carb, moderate to high protein diet with adequate amounts of healthy fats (this would not be enough to get you into ketosis) and get enough ketones into your body to at least enjoy the benefits above for part of the day? How would you do this without adopting a ketogenic diet? Here are a couple of ideas:
If you are interested in KETO O/S you can contact me for a 5 day trial pack, for more info or check out: natniddam.pruvitnow.com/ca Full disclosure - this is absolutely an affiliate site so yes, I will get commission if you buy.
If you’ve made it this far - give yourself a pat on the back - I know this post was long but I do believe that this renewed interest in ketones is well warranted - I have been using them myself and in my practice for over a year now (either as MCT’s, endogenously or from Keto O/S) and I am continuously amazed at the incredible results that people are obtaining.
Caution - this post is loooong. Thanksgiving is a big deal so I decided that if there was ever an occasion to write a huge post this would be it (expect something similar for Christmas). If you are on a Ketogenic Diet there’s a real chance that this meal, no matter how you prepare it, will knock you out of ketosis just due to the shear volume of feed you will consume. However that’s no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can still stay true to the spirit of your plan and, for those win a low carb plan you can still stay pretty much on plan. That said, this is a holiday and a celebration, so, be thankful, indulge with pleasure and try something new for a change.
For some reason it is generally accepted that Thanksgiving Dinner will be followed by an obligatory food coma. In the absence of said state of total dysfunction and discomfort people seem to think that they must have been deprived somehow and that they did not indulge sufficiently in honour of the day.
Allow me to challenge this concept. For the past 10 years or so I have been hosting Thanksgiving dinners at my cottage for all kinds of people, from family to friends, and I am happy to report that (to the best of my knowledge) at no time has anyone been left in a state that, should there be a fire or charging herd of elephants bearing down on them, would surely result in their untimely demise. Nor has anyone been left feeling like they did not get to indulge and enjoy fabulous food. It must be said that, as the resident Jew in my extended family and the hostess of said dinners, I am unfettered by family traditions and the obligation to absolutely reproduce Aunt Phyllis’ marshmallow topped sweet potato casserole. If I had a nickel for every time a client tried to explain to me that the least little change in the family meal would result in an uprising I would be writing this post from Bali rather than my Toronto dining room table. I do understand. And I sympathize. But nevertheless, I say throw caution to the wind….make a few substitutions and in a worst case scenario you will at least have enough energy to escape the hordes in the unlikely event they choose to take out their disappointment on you.
Here are the substitutions I have developed over the past few years that have now become traditions in our family:
Do your best to avoid the Butterball, injected with all manner of chemicals - buy a fresh or frozen (ideally pastured, but at the very least untreated) bird - food quality is still ideal.
As you must have deduced by now, stuffing in my house is just a dish and bears no relationship to what most people refer to as stuffing. I don’t bother with gluten free, grain free bread simply because I don’t like it and I find that people get too full and then get comatose and…well, we went through this already….
Here’s where the fun really happens (for me anyway)….
Forget the canned stuff and the sugar laden store bought versions…it’s cranberry sauce for crying out loud, it’s supposed to be a bit tart. I will post my favourite recipe on my blog when I get to my cottage on Friday night but here’s the gist: Pick the recipe that looks good to you. Cut the sugar in half (at least) and replace it with either Monk Fruit powder (may favourite) or Xylitol or some Stevia if you like it. I would stay away from Erythritol because it can cause digestive upset in some people.
My recipe involves cooking fresh cranberries with fresh squeezed juice from one orange, orange zest (from said orange) and half a small orange peel and all processed till fine. I use a splash of Grand Marnier if I have it, and, in the past about 1/4 cup of maple syrup - this year I will switch to Monk Fruit. Make it at least a day ahead so the flavours have time to blend. And cook your cranberries with all other ingredients just till they pop. We never have leftovers.
Personally, I use the pan drippings, add a bit of cognac and as much Turkey Broth as required for volume and then strain it. Yes, my gravy is more like a “jus” but we love it. If you and your crew must have a more traditional gravy replace the flour with Konjac Flour - it’s a prebiotic and an incredible thickener - just be careful as you need to first whisk it in cold water before whisking into hot or you will end up with lumps. I order mine from LowCarbCanada.com
Yup, you can absolutely stay on plan here as well. Not ketogenic mind you, by now, your ketones are likely a distant memory but they will be back, not to worry. And for low carbers, you’ve probably (but not necessarily), in sheer volume exceeded your usual daily limit but let me remind you that this is a holiday and straying from your plan once in a while does have its benefits. All that being said, you can totally enjoy a bit of dessert without going totally overboard.
Once again, our Paleo friends come to the rescue. One of my favourite books “Paleo Comfort Foods” has a spectacular nut crust recipe for pies and they have a sweet potato pie that is to die for that I make every year.
Or, you can make this Apple Pie I created a couple of years ago. https://nniddam.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/apple-pie-paleo-style/
I happen to prefer coconut whipped cream to dairy but depending on your food tolerances you can use either. Just make sure that the dairy is full fat and organic. For the coconut whip, I find that it seems to set overnight in the fridge so I like to make it a day ahead of time.