Ditch the Diet for Thanksgiving

The standard advice this time of year usually centers around ways to enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving meal while sticking to your diet. Included in the suggestions are the usual substitution recommendations and instructions to share one serving of dessert between four people. As if! Finally, here is the Thanksgiving dieting advice you’ve always wanted to hear: don’t sweat the diet on Thanksgiving Day. Make it your cheat day for the week. That takes the pressure off so you can enjoy the holiday for once.

Cheat Day Wisdom

Most diets fail because it doesn’t take long before you start feeling deprived. That can lead to bingeing on portions and restricted foods and once that happens, the next step is throwing your hands up in defeat and giving up on your health and weight loss goals. That is why most experts recommend allowing yourself at least one cheat day per week. WebMD says cheat days actually boost the likelihood of successful weight loss with a diet. If you know you have a day coming up when you don’t have to measure portions, count calories, or say no to the punkin cheesecake, it’s easier to do all those things the other six days of the week. Plus, many diets can throw your system out of whack. According to Muscle and Fitness, essential things like leptin, thyroid hormones, and something called Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF)–all essential for losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight–decline when you’re limiting dietary elements such as fat. However, indulging occasionally can get those levels back to normal.

No Regrets, No Guilt

Pass the turkey and help yourself to all the other tasty Thanksgiving treats without guilting yourself.

Possibly the best thing about considering Thanksgiving a cheat day is the mental block it busts through. As an official, “legal” day of indulgence, you won’t feel guilty about every little bite you take. You can legitimately enjoy the mashed potatoes and gravy and have an entire slice of pumpkin pie all to yourself. It’s your cheat day, so WomensHealth says avoid the guilt trip. Eat what you want, reveling in and savoring every last bite, lick your lips, and go back to counting calories and limiting your carbs on Friday.

Be Reasonable

You don’t need to over-load your plate to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

OK, there is one caveat to this long-awaited advice, and that is that although you can throw away the guidelines and limits for a day, you really do need to be reasonable. A cheat day isn’t a license to eat yourself into a food coma. The goal is to treat yourself, not try to eat a years-worth of calories in one sitting. Don’t eat just for the sake of eating. Don’t load up your plate with double the amount of everything just because it’s your cheat day. Take a deep breath, really see all the food set before you, and remember that, no matter how good it all tastes, your body is only capable of holding so much. Overeating on this wonderful, food-centered holiday won’t do any permanent damage to your dieting aspirations, but it will make you miserable. Eat what you want, but take your time doing it so you can really enjoy the flavors. Taking your time will also give your brain a chance to recognize when you’re full, so you can stop eating before you have to unbuckle your belt or slip into Phoebe’s old maternity pants. And give thanks that you live in a country where food is so abundant that weight is actually an issue.

Eat, drink, and be merry–and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Have Time to Workout!

No time to exercise? There’s always a way to work in a workout.

As busy as life is, even the most dedicated fitness fans will sometimes come up against such a full day that there just really aren’t enough hours in to include working out. Exercise shouldn’t be all-or-nothing so when those days hit, it’s useful to already have a Plan B in place and a mindset that is flexible enough to accommodate alternative ways to get exercise. When you realize that your scheduled workout simply isn’t going to happen, there are small adjustments you can make throughout the day and even a few easy tricks you can use to get your move on, so to speak, so you don’t lose out on the benefits of exercising. 

Multitasking Sneaks Exercise Into Your Day

Waiting in line? Don’t just stand there–get those legs movin’!

Everyone has heard the advice to take the stairs instead of the elevator as a way to get more exercise, so we won’t even go there. Instead, let’s look at how your talent for multitasking can be used to incorporate a workout into your already over-scheduled schedule. Cosmopolitan recommends the genius idea of using your handbag (or briefcase or backpack) as a dumbbell to do biceps curls while you walk or even while you’re waiting in line. And speaking of waiting in line, use that time to march in place, do calf raises, or glute tensing and flexing exercises. Who cares what that would look like? No one is paying attention to anything other than their mobile phones, anyway. Also, you can work your abs anytime, anywhere by concentrating on pulling your bellybutton toward your backbone. Try it. Do it now. Do it right now.  

Fitness pros advocate multitasking workout ideas such as doing wall pushups whenever you get a phone call and standing instead of sitting during your workday. According to LIVESTRONG, standing can burn up to 50 calories more per hour than sitting, and that can add up over an 8 hour day. It might be worth it to switch over to a standing-height desk to boost your calorie burn anytime, rather than only standing to work when you know you aren’t going to be able to exercise. 

Do You Have a Few Minutes?

Since time is the issue, it might stress you out more than help to do things like park your car a distance from your office or taking the long way around the park on the way to work. If you can manage to do things that require extra walking, though, you can count it all as exercise, even if it’s speed-walking to the bathroom at the other end of the building.  

Mountain climbers, jumping jacks, lunges, and pushups are great exercises for a quick and effective AMRAP workout. Image via Evolve Fitness & Health/YouTube

If you do have 10 minutes or more, however, you really do have time for an actual workout. Choose four or five bodyweight exercises and perform an AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) workout. For example, if you pick squats, lunges, pushups, and jumping jacks, set a timer for 2 minutes and do as many reps as you can of each exercise for 30 seconds each, then take a 20-second break before doing another 2 minutes. Going through that progression three to four times will give you an intense 10-minute workout.  

The Huffington Post recommends a similar workout, but the 20-second intervals are supposed to be spent going all-out, working your hardest, and the 2-minute intervals are spent still moving, though at a slower pace. That type of workout is more geared toward cardio equipment like treadmills, bikes, or ellipticals and won’t offer many resistance benefits, but it’s still an effective cardio workout that is easier to fit into a hectic day than a 45-minute aerobics class.

 

Timing Carbohydrate Consumption for Optimal Fat Loss

You think you know the rules, then the game changes.

Carbs–they’re what’s for dinner.

In our quest to find effective health, fitness, and weight loss advice for you, we occasionally come across information that contradicts the “rules” as we know them. For years we’ve been on the Limited-Carbs-and-Only-Early-in-the-Day bandwagon along with loads of personal trainers and other experts. An innovative diet has been making the rounds, however, that turns everything we’ve come to believe about eating carbohydrates inside out. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, we kinda like having science-backed permission to eat carbs at night.

New(er) Studies Show…

Sounds too good to be true, but eating carbs in the evening can cut that pesky belly fat.

Okay, so it’s not like these studies were just released yesterday, but they haven’t been around for decades, either. In 2011, the Obesity Journal published a study done by researchers in Israel that showed that eating carbohydrates at night resulted in greater weight loss than spreading out carb intake throughout the day. Not only did saving carbs for the evening meal make people lose more weight, but much of it was body fat, and a lot of that was likely belly fat since another nice surprise result was smaller waists.

If you read the study, you’ll see that part of the title also addresses hormonal changes, and those are directly linked to the weight loss people in the evening carbs group enjoyed. It turns out that eating carbs at night increases hunger-controlling hormones like adiponectin and leptin, and it banishes the ghrelin gremlin, the hormone that drives hunger. In an entirely separate study that focused on the hormone element of eating carbs at dinner, researchers found that the way it affected those important hormones benefits you throughout the day because the resulting balance staves off hunger during the day. That means you’re less likely to snack irresponsibly and will have a better chance of sticking to a calorie-restricted diet.

What About Insulin Sensitivity?

Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day, but cutting back on carbs in the morning means you can have them for dinner.

Studies that have shown that blood glucose levels stay elevated longer after an evening meal are one factor that convinced people to avoid carbs at night. However, our friends at Bodybuilding.com have busted that myth. While it’s true that glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are better in the morning, the myth part is that they’re at their worst at night. Layne Norton, Ph.D. points out that if you compare those two elements after mid-day and evening meals, there is no difference. Dr. Norton prefers to simply rephrase the comparison to say glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are enhanced by your overnight fast, rather than impaired after a carb-heavy evening meal.

The Fitness Factor

Jen working out

Whatever type of exercise you prefer to stay fit and healthy, it’s raising your metabolic rate while you sleep to increase your overall fat and calorie burn.

People who work out are probably the most likely to be avoiding carbohydrates at night, but research shows that they’re the ones who are most likely to actually benefit from saving the majority of their carbs for dinner. For example, one study published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology found that the sleeping heart rate for people who exercise consistently is elevated, meaning that, though it sounds too good to be true, if you exercise, you’ll burn more calories while you sleep than if you don’t work out. Ready for even more good news? Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that your sleeping heart rate will even be higher than your resting heart rate if your BMI is below 29. (Here’s a handy calculator for figuring that out.)

Yes, that means people who are considered obese need to lose weight before the benefits of eating carbs at night will really kick in. If you’re more than overweight, you’ll need to get your body to a place where it is burning more calories sleeping than does while sitting and staring into space. It’s an attainable goal, however, and the facts shouldn’t keep you from enjoying a baked potato with dinner, provided it’s dressed with low-fat plain yogurt and a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese instead of loaded with sour cream, butter, and bacon bits. 😉

Adjusting Your Habits

If salad for dinner doesn’t satisfy you, have it for lunch and save the more enjoyable meal–carbs and all–for the evening.

This is some terrific news for many people, but it’s not permission to overload your evening eating with bread, pasta, and cake. Sure, it will be nice not to have to be so strict at dinner time, but Renegade Gym Owner Jason Ferruggia says it means limiting your carbohydrate intake throughout the rest of the day. If you’re on a 1500 calorie diet, adding carbs to your evening meal shouldn’t kick you over your max. Since eating carbs at night helps control hunger during the day, at least that will work in your favor to help you resist an extra hard roll at lunch or an afternoon snack of cookies or chips. Just keep your eye on your reward, a delicious dinner that includes a satisfying serving of carbs. Remember, though, that you’ll sleep better if you allow a few hours between your last meal of the night and bedtime, so try to avoid eating late, more for the digestion time than to avoid stowing away the calories.

Hardcore Wrestler Training Routine

The right workout regimen will give you the power you need to take down any opponent.

Fall is when school sports are in full-swing. If you’re serious about wrestling, whether you’re in college or high school, you need to be dedicated to a lifestyle change. Training hardcore to become the best wrestler you can be is about more than just the workout, it’s also about the right diet and getting plenty of rest. If you have the discipline and determination, you can go from weakling to powerhouse, capable of taking down almost any opponent in your path.

The Three Day Workout Regimen

Including some time on cardio machines will help build endurance to carry you through every round in every match.

There are as many different opinions about the frequency of workout days and where to fit in rest days as there are wrestlers and trainers. Although three-day workouts are popular, some trainers will put you on a six-day schedule that has you working out every other day and resting on the days between, while others prefer a 3-day workout, such as the one former pro-wrestler Ric Drasin favors, performing it in six consecutive days and taking Sundays off to rest.

Rest Up

Part of a hardcore training regimen includes getting enough sleep every night in addition to scheduling a rest day.

Working out hardcore means you’ll be tearing your body down to rebuild it, a process known as hypertrophy. Along with scheduling rest days from your workout schedule, you have to be conscious of getting enough sleep at night. Although the Sleep Foundation reveals that there is no magic number for everyone, their studies have shown that on the average teens require 8 to 10 hours per night and adults may need up to 9 hours, but some individuals may only need 7 hours of sleep each night. As for the day before a meet, trainers don’t recommend taking the day entirely off. A light workout the day before you wrestle will keep your strength up.

Nutrition

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Multivitamins formulated for athletes help ensure your body has the nutrition it needs to stay strong.

To stay lean while building muscle and having plenty of energy, wrestlers as well as most athletes follow diets that focus on high protein and low fat, and add a couple of snacks to their three-meal-a-day regimen. Healthy protein to include in your diet can come from egg whites, fish, chicken or lean beef, and protein supplements. Be sure to include fiber from whole grain cereals and breads as well as from fruits like apples. A complete multivitamin formulated for athletes will help round out your nutritional needs and give you what you might not be getting from food. Trainers and athletes alike will attest the value and effectiveness of giving yourself a “cheat day” to eat things not allowed on the training diet. By knowing that you can have a treat on a specified day, it won’t be as hard to stick with strict eating habits.

Commit or Quit

Training hardcore is a lifestyle, not something done on a whim. Take a look at what is involved and what will be required of you in order to be successful. Be realistic and decide whether or not you’re up to the challenge. It’s better to take on a hardcore training routine knowing what you’re getting into and being prepared to see it through instead becoming discouraged and quitting a few weeks in.

Skip the Horror Show: Strategies to Avoid Halloween Weight-Gain

Halloween is just the beginning of the holiday assault on your weight loss plan.

You spent an active summer working out, losing weight, and getting in shape. But here comes Halloween: the gateway holiday that kicks off a flood of holiday events that leave little time for working out coupled with a two-month binge of overeating. From the bowls of candy on every desk and bank teller’s station to the Halloween party treats and trick or treating treasure the kids haul home, temptation hits from every direction putting an end to your healthy diet–at least until after New Years. Whether you want to lose weight or are simply struggling to maintain, there are strategies to make Halloween manageable. Make “moderation” your mantra and remember to carve out time for consistent workouts. The arrival of Halloween and the ensuing holidays do not have to be the end of the trim physique you cultivated over the summer.

Nothing is Wrong With Non-Edible Treats

Discount stores are a treasure-trove for inexpensive, zero-calorie treats.

Stocking the house with assorted sweets is not the best way to lose weight or stick to your diet. Unless you love torturing yourself, why not give out something other than candy? There is no law that says you have to hand out sweets on Halloween. Everyday Health suggests hitting the dollar store to stock up on non-edible treats for trick-or-treaters such as stickers, carnival toys, or temporary tattoos.

Opt For Healthy

Trail mix prepackaged in snack-sized bags are a healthy Halloween alternative treat for you and the neighborhood kids.

If you feel obligated to give out eat-ables on Halloween, take the neighborhood with you on your healthy diet. Instead of bags of candy corn and miniature candy bars, hand out snack-sized packages of nuts, raisins, or trail mix. Who cares what the neighborhood kids think? They’re the ones begging from you. Besides, having those types of snacks on hand means not having to deal with the guilt when you inevitably have to eat the leftovers. (They’re not going to eat themselves!)

Wait Until the Last Minute

Don’t worry about getting your Halloween candy early. There will be plenty left the day before the holiday.

If you decide to go ahead with traditional Halloween handouts, do not start stocking up when the stores put the Halloween candy on display in September. Reader’s Digest recommends waiting until the day before or even the day of Halloween to buy candy and, when you do buy, get the type of candy you don’t care for so it won’t be as tempting. Already amassed bags and bags of Halloween treats? Put them on the back of the bottom shelf in the pantry to keep them out of sight, out of mind, and off your mid-section.

Treat Yourself

Make a trade-off. Forego the café mocha Halloween morning and you will have saved enough calories to indulge a little that night.

OK, so you bought the good stuff, and it is just sitting there in the plastic jack-o-lantern waiting for the neighborhood kids to start knocking on your door. Don’t berate yourself if the temptation is too hard to handle. Web MD says it’s fine to indulge just a little because denying yourself treats will only make you crave them all the more. However, do set and stick to a limit. If you really want a mini Kit Kat and a couple of snack-size Mounds bars, you can always plan to give up a snack or other treat the next day. For example, forego your Starbuck’s Caffé Mocha. You’ll save 360 calories, enough to make up for a couple of “fun-size” candy bars.

Eat Your Meals as Scheduled

Mini Kit Kat’s are only 42 calories, and fun-size Twix have only 80 calories–practically guilt-free amounts!

If you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Halloween, you won’t be ravenous for sweets when it’s time to start handing them out. Make dinner something really good, too, delicious food that satisfies instead of a skimpy salad that will leave you hungry in a couple of hours and eyeing the contents of the candy dish like it was, well, candy. Then, when you do allow yourself an after-dinner treat, you should know that those “fun” sized sweets are far easier on your calorie count than their full or king-sized counterparts. Woman’s Day reveals that most are under 100 calories each, and some, such as mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and snack-sized Kit Kats (10 g size) are under 50 calories each. Gummy bears have about 8.7 calories each, and bonus for candy corn lovers: each sweet kernel has less than 8 calories apiece.

Halloween Resolution

Morning, noon, or early evening–be flexible enough to move your workout wherever it will fit into your schedule this holiday season.

The holiday parties and events that start happening toward the end of October put a strain on already stretched-to-the-limit schedules. That’s why everyone, including people who have successfully kept to an exercise regimen up until now, start slacking off right about this time of year. Rather than falling off the wagon, see Halloween as an opportunity to make an early resolution rather than putting it off until New Years. Set your mind on scheduling a workout in wherever you can fit it–mornings, lunch breaks, or early evenings before the parties and gatherings begin. We’re not trying to candy-coat it–it will be difficult for the next two months but, when you come out on the other side without the extra baggage, you will be happy you stuck with it.

Fall for Fitness: Autumn Outdoor Workouts

Everyone knows autumn is a great time for recommitting to an exercise regimen. That’s why fall is the second busiest season for health clubs. As the weather takes a turn and the sun rises later and sets earlier, people take their workouts indoors. There’s nothing wrong with that. If the only times you have for working out are early morning or late evening, you’ll be safer and more comfortable inside the gym than in the cold darkness of the outdoors. However, fall is a terrific time for exercising outside for those who can arrange their schedules to exercise somewhere between sunrise and sunset. You can try at least one of the autumn outdoor workouts listed below, but LIVESTRONG says that varying your activities will help keep you motivated. That’s a vital factor for sticking with exercise on a regular basis which, in turn, assures you’ll reach your fitness and weight loss goals, so give them all a go if you’re feeling adventurous.  

The Harvest Workout

Head out to the pumpkin patch and heft some of these big boys for a challenging upper body resistance workout.

One of the best things about fall is that it provides the opportunity for fun activities that will give you a good workout but don’t seem like exercise. Harvesting, for example, can be a vigorous workout whatever it is you’re picking. Head to a vineyard to gather grapes, or an orchard to pick apples. The movement, including reaching and bending over as well as walking along the vines or from tree to tree burns calories. Pumpkin patches and corn mazes are other fun fall-time activities that offer exercise opportunities. Hefting portly punkins is a good upper body resistance workout, and you can race against a friend or your own best time to make it through the maze for a brisk cardio workout. 

The Treasure Hunt Workout

Instead of sitting down every time you see a park bench, use it to do lunges, or perform pushups off the back.

Shape came up with a great idea for an outdoor workout that can be done just about any time of year, but you’ll find it especially enjoyable to do during autumn surrounded by the season’s gorgeous colors. Whether you prefer to think of it as a scavenger hunt or a treasure hunt, the workout is the same. You’ll choose 5 to 10 exercises that don’t require equipment, then select an area to workout in, like a local park or greenway, and map out the route you’ll take. Consider the things you’ll see along your route and match them up with an exercise. For instance, you could pair a park bench with pushups and a dog on a leash with lunges. As you go along your route, every time you see one of your pre-selected landmarks, you’ll perform the exercise associated with it. You can either choose to do 10 reps of each exercise before moving along on your route or do AMRAPs, performing as many reps as possible for a certain amount of time like 45 seconds. 

Good Old Stand-Bys

Paddling a canoe works practically everything from your core on up, and the lake isn’t likely to be crowded in the fall.

Autumn is a beautiful time of year to get outside and do activities such as biking, jogging, and hiking. It can also be a good time to try things you’ve never done but have always wanted to, such as rock climbing or head to the beach for new and exciting water activities such as canoeing or kayaking. If it snows early near where you live, you could even give cross-country skiing or snow shoeing a try. Whatever you’re doing, remember to dress appropriately. WebMD advises dressing in three layers so you can peel them off as your body heats up. Start with clothing made of moisture-wicking material for your base layer, add a warmth layer on top of that, and your third and outer layer should be protective, such as a light, water-repellent jacket, depending on what the weather looks like.

 

4 Tips for Maximizing Your Workouts

 Let’s face it, fitting in the time to work out can be difficult. With juggling both your work and social schedules, it can sometimes be hard to get in a workout that feels both fulfilling and fast-paced. If you’re finding that you’re stuck in a routine of short-lived exercise options, consider the tips below on how you can start to maximize your future workouts for the better. 

1) Schedule in Advance 

Whether you put your workout on a physical calendar, your computer, or your phone, get your workouts on the schedule.

As obvious as it sounds, the absolute best way to get the most out of your workouts is to schedule them in advance. If you’re someone who is truly motivated to stick to your fitness goals, try to hold your workouts to the same standard as your work responsibilities. Have you ever missed a meeting? Allow this to get you in the mindset of never missing your allotted cardio time as well. Schedule your workouts far in advance and treat them with the same importance as all of your other future appointments. Once you have your exercise times mapped out, you’ll be more likely to maximize your time at the gym.

2) Have the Right Apparel 

The best workouts start with comfortable clothing–clothes that breathe and move with you rather than restricting your movements.

Though it’s always nice to feel like you look good while you’re working out, never choose style over comfort for your workouts. If the apparel you choose is too tight or simply uncomfortable, you’ll be less motivated to finish the workout you started. Do your research on available fitness clothing options. The best ones are breathable and light-weight. Whether you splurge on the best of the best or you find ways to get the best brands for less, it’s important to take the time to invest in the right apparel. Read reviews on the best name brands for your workouts, and then investigate where you can get those brands for less. You shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to quality for fitness gear. Online thrift stores like thredUP offer a variety of brands, including well-known fitness names like Lululemon, making top quality accessible for everyone. Thrifting makes finding even the most expensive workout gear both easy and affordable. Scout out all of your options and you’re sure to find that perfect pair of gym shorts or leggings to keep you confident and comfortable during all your exercise routines. 

3) Grab a Buddy 

Exercise buddies keep you accountable and push you to work at your full potential.

If you’re finding that your workout motivation is petering out before you should be leaving the gym, grab a buddy the next time you go to hold you accountable. Having someone else to rely on will no doubt maximize your exercise time and might even push you to try other workouts you’ve been too scared to test out. Share your favorite exercises with your partner and make the most out of learning from each other. You might even be able to develop a better workout routine together than the one you had on your own. Not sure where to start? Take a look at what trainers say are their favorite exercises of all time. 

4) Determine What Motivates You 

If you motivation to workout starts to wane, remember what inspired you to exercise in the first place, whether it was to lose weight, maintain your health, or be able to splurge on meal cheat days.

When all else fails in maximizing your workouts, it might be time to start assessing what motivates you to exercise and get your exercise done in the first place. Whether you crave the endorphins, work out to stay in good shape, or simply want to feel good about your cheat day at the end of the week, evaluating the why factor is important. Take a quick look back at your motivation behind going to the gym and set the right goals for yourself based on what speaks to you the most. The more motivated you are, the more you’ll get out of your workouts.

The Truth About Gluten

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Last week’s article covered the myriad reasons not to go gluten-free if you don’t have to. Other than the high cost of specialty gluten-less products, cutting food groups from your diet isn’t healthy. Considering less than 7 percent of Americans have legitimate health issues with gluten, that means the majority of people who’ve jumped on the gluten-haters bandwagon are self-diagnosed. Their reasons for cutting gluten range from being “joiners” who feel the need to go along with everyone else, to “experimenters” who want to give the gluten-free lifestyle a try. When asked why they follow a diet that excludes many foods if they don’t have to, many respond that they felt better after giving up gluten, so they just assumed that it was a smart choice for them. Therein lies the aha moment

In researching the gluten issue, I came across loads of message boards on which people who claimed to be gluten-sensitive all had the same puzzling experience. Though they got headaches, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal distress when eating wheat products here in the U.S., they all gave in to the temptation to indulge in the irresistible crusty breads, fresh pastas, and flaky pastries when vacationing in Europe. To the surprise of the vast majority, these splurges didn’t end up causing the health issues they were used to experiencing back home.  Researching the possible cause has resulted in four explanations.

All Wheat is Not the Same

First, there are multiple classes of wheat, and five major ones are typically planted in the United States. Of those, hard red winter and hard red spring wheats make up the majority of America’s wheat crops. Those classes were developed to be able to be heartier so they could be planted in off-seasons, allowing wheat to be grown year-round. This small and harmless tweak to wheat genetics increased the gluten content in those hard wheat types. For American bakers, that was seemingly a good thing, as more gluten means softer bread doughs that rise higher. That’s why the two hard red wheat types are used in the majority of bread products produced in the U.S. However, here’s where we come back to the advice we’ve given over and over: most things in moderation are perfectly safe and healthy but in excess, anything, including drinking water, can become dangerous and even deadly. Over years of eating foods with high levels of gluten, it’s no wonder that many people have developed health issues related to it.

What does that have to do with European baked goods? Most of the wheat grown in Europe is soft wheat, so it contains lower levels of gluten. Additionally, many European farmers cultivate heirloom wheat. It’s not the variety that makes this type of wheat special, though heirloom wheat tends to fall into “soft” classifications. Instead, it’s that heirloom wheat hasn’t been tampered with—it hasn’t been engineered or modified to grow in difficult climates or during off-seasons, a factor that has affected gluten levels and, apparently, digestibility.

Whole Wheat Toast, Hold the Pesticide

Then there’s the toxicity issue. Non-organic wheat in the U.S. is saturated in pesticide before harvest. Yep, the wheat that makes your hot dog buns was drowned in Roundup before it was made into flour. The ingredient in Roundup (glyphosate) that kills insects is supposedly safe for humans and animals. However, studies have found a link between the increased use of glyphosate and an escalation in gastrointestinal disorders. Though dousing wheat crops in Roundup is business as usual in America, many European countries and cities have banned or restricted its use, so the flour made from European wheat, whether it’s heirloom or not, is healthier for eating from the start.

What’s more, domestic wheat that claims to be pesticide-free isn’t necessarily safe. Part of the genetic engineering U.S. grains have undergone include injecting a gene that produces glyphosate–the exact toxin in Roundup that kills insects. That makes the crops “naturally” resistant to insects, but essentially makes the poison a part of the food that makes it onto your table. Again, although glyphosate supposedly doesn’t affect humans, doctors have found a rise in gastrointestinal issues, such as intestinal permeability, that coincides with the increased use of Roundup.

The Ultra-Processing Piece of the Puzzle

Eating ultra-processed foods has been found to affect your brain’s wiring–literally changing how you react to food, interfering with signals between your stomach and your brain and making you want to eat more and more.

The final piece to the puzzle is that many foods tend to be fresher and undergo less processing in Europe. First, the flours aren’t as processed and don’t contain any additives to extend their shelf-life. What’s more, not only are the flours made from soft wheat that hasn’t been doused in poison, but the breads, pastries, and pastas European flour is used in are made to be consumed immediately. They don’t contain the additives and preservatives that make U.S. wheat products last for a year or more. Don’t think that’s a big deal? Well, considering recent research points to ultra-processing as the real culprit in the obesity epidemic, we should all think again.

A nutrition researcher working for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recently published results of experiments that found that eating highly processed foods interferes with the signals your stomach sends your brain. Essentially, your brain doesn’t get the message that you’re full, so you tend to keep eating. And, other researchers have discovered that eating a lot of ultra-processed foods can end up changing the way your brain is wired, changing your sensitivity and reaction to food. On top of not recognizing that you’re full, you also don’t feel satisfied, so you keep on eating. While those studies may not explain a seeming gluten sensitivity, they do explain why, at least in the United States, bread, pastries, pasta, and other wheat-based, carb-laden foods make you gain weight and make it even harder to take it off.

Also, on a quick aside, ultra-processed foods can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. It’s one of the reasons why people turn against carbs and gluten when they go “keto” or go on other low or no-carb diets. However, European flour made from heirloom wheat and with minimal processing and little to no additives doesn’t interfere with ketosis, so your body can still burn stored fats for energy if you don’t overeat.

A Viable Solution

When you make your own baked goods, you control what ingredients go into them so you know you’re not getting toxins or excessive levels of gluten.

So, what’s a red-blooded American bread-lover to do, especially if you’re not planning on visiting Europe soon? The solution is fairly simple but, like any diet or exercise plan, it takes commitment. First, if you’re not already a label reader, become one now. At the very least, look for organic, non-genetically modified foods when shopping for domestic products. Alternatively, you can buy imported pastas made in Europe. Sometimes you can get them from a local store, but they’re readily available online. Read the label to see that what you’re buying is a product of Italy. The same goes for some cookies and pastries made in Belgium and other European countries. You may find the shelf life isn’t as long as similar American products, but your body will thank you for that.

No, you probably won’t be able to get imported bread, rolls, or pizza dough. This is where the commitment comes in because if you don’t want to give up bagels, bread, muffins, and cake, the best alternative is to make them yourself using Italian flour or other imported flour. It isn’t as cheap is domestic flour, but it’s massively less expensive than gluten-free flour. It will have a much shorter shelf life than that 50-pound bag of hard-wheat flour you got at the grocery warehouse, so just store it in the freezer. The slightly higher price tag is more than worth it for healthier, delicious fresh-baked bread and pastries that your body knows how to process.

Of course, homemade treats also do not last as long as highly-processed baked goods you buy at the store. A loaf of bread may start to taste stale after 3 days and will start to grow mold by day 5 or 6, depending on how humid and warm your house is. The logical solution is making only what your family will consume in a week’s time, but it’s likely that you will have more than you can eat from time to time. Again, your freezer is the answer. Freeze bagels and extra waffles or muffins immediately and put uneaten bread in the freezer by the third day. Baked goods won’t last forever when frozen, but the process cuts down on waste and gives you a chance to eat your healthy homemade food at a more leisurely pace. If you’re tempted to binge-bake and freeze it all, go ahead, but don’t make more than a month’s supply of anything. Helpful hint: bread will dry out if left in the freezer too long, but the texture is perfect for delicious baked French toast.

Try it Yourself

Even if you’re skeptical, why not try baking with European flour for just a couple of weeks? There’s no comparison for the flavor. Homemade simply tastes better, so you’ll at least appreciate that. But don’t be surprised if eating food made from European flour can satisfy you without making you feel bloated, causing stomach upset, making your joints ache, or causing any of the other effects you may be attributing expressly to gluten. Also, you’ll find the doughs easier to work with. One result of using flour with a lower gluten content is that it isn’t as sticky. That means you won’t need to use much more flour than the recipe calls for when working with bread dough or rolling out pie crusts, rolls, cookies, or pizza crust. In fact, I’ve started home-making pasta again. I’d become frustrated with the pasta dough made from domestic flour getting stuck in my pasta maker but dough made with Italian flour and semolina goes through the machine easily without sticking.

Now that you have the facts and first-hand accounts, you can make up your own mind. If you are celiac or have been officially diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, sorry, the solutions outlined here aren’t for you. Any amount of gluten, even if it’s from European wheat, can be dangerous to your health. For others, if your body handles domestic wheat and flour products okay, that’s great. No changes need to be made. On the other hand, if you’ve resorted to avoiding gluten because you suspect it’s affecting your body and health in negative ways, your wish to eat bread, pasta, and cake again may just have been granted.

Gluten Free?


Gluten-free is probably the most misunderstood and misused diet currently being followed. Yes, there are people who, for medical reasons, truly should avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and related grains, but the percentage of them is extremely low. Besides, most people don’t even understand what gluten is or why they’re avoiding it. Don’t be so quick to get on the gluten-free bandwagon if you haven’t been officially diagnosed and advised by your doctor to do so. Your body requires nutrition from all the food groups, even the biggest sources of gluten, grains and carbs. So, if your plan is to diet healthy, it doesn’t make sense to embrace a diet plan that forces you to cut out entire food groups. It’s not a smart way to diet, and it can actually be detrimental to your health.

Not the Quick Weight Loss Diet You Think

Gluten itself doesn’t necessarily make you fat, but many gluten-free foods contain extra sugar, fat, calories, and other ingredients that will add pounds on the scale.

If you think gluten-free is a viable quick weight loss diet, you’ll probably end up disappointed. Sometimes a gluten-free diet plan will have positive effects initially, but much of what you see is a result of the changes you make in general. Your body is shocked by having to do things differently, processing more or less of certain nutrients and the response can take the form of modest weight loss. Additionally, a diet plan that has you eliminating carbohydrates will definitely bring early results if you’ve been eating like a carbo-holic most of your life. However, Medical News Today and Consumer Reports both say a gluten-free diet can actually thwart weight loss goals and lead to weight gain because gluten-free products often contain more sugar, fat, calories, and additives than regular food.

Other Nutritional Issues

Without a healthy, balanced diet that includes grains and carbohydrates, you could develop a nutritional deficiency.

When you adjust your diet to go gluten-free, you give up a lot of nutrients that you get from a healthy diet, according to Web MD.  These include:

  • calcium
  • fiber
  • folate
  • iron
  • niacin
  • riboflavin
  • thiamin

So, you could end up with a vitamin or mineral deficiency if you opt to go gluten-free without the medical need to do so.

On top of developing a nutritional deficiency, a gluten-free diet can interfere with your efforts to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. According to Medical Daily, studies have shown that gluten has positive effects on triglycerides and blood pressure. Plus, gluten helps sustain the healthy bacteria your digestive system needs. That means that if you don’t have a true health issue with gluten that causes gastrointestinal distress, going gluten-free could cause you to develop those symptoms anyway.

Gluten-Free and Old Lace

Web MD reveals that all rice has some level of arsenic contamination — and “healthy” brown rice has more than white rice!

You don’t mind a little arsenic in your diet, right? Hopefully not, especially if you’re going gluten-free. Consumer Reports tested over 60 gluten-free products and found measurable quantities of arsenic in nearly every one of them, reporting that many contained “worrisome” amounts in inorganic form. The reason for the high levels of arsenic is because rice, usually in the form of rice flour, is often used in place of wheat products in gluten-free foods. Since all types of rice have some level of arsenic contamination, eating those foods daily could put up to 10 times the quantity of inorganic arsenic into your diet than is considered “safe.” Just one more reason not to give up gluten if you don’t have to.

Let’s Talk Sensitivity

“Yeah, but there really is a medical condition that requires patients to avoid gluten!”

Absolutely. There’s no denying that people who have celiac disease must avoid gluten because it causes their immune systems to attack the lining of their small intestines. Medical News Today reports that the condition inhibits the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and typically results in anemia and causes unpleasant symptoms such as bone pain, rashes, and diarrhea. Here’s the thing, though, the really big thing: Web MD says that only about 1 percent (!) of Americans actually have celiac, and less than 7 percent have true food sensitivity related to gluten. If you are in the elite percentage, that kind of “luck” with the odds suggests you might want to invest in a few lotto tickets. If you haven’t been diagnosed with it, though, there’s no real reason to kick gluten out of your life.

There are those who haven’t been officially diagnosed with celiac who claim to have a “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” An interesting study was conducted, however, by a researcher, Professor Peter Gibson of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, who had previously published findings that seemed to prove the validity of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. According to Real Clear Science, Professor Gibson was puzzled by the absence of an explanation of what it was about gluten that supposedly caused the sensitivity, so he conducted a follow-up study.

In the second study, the subjects were fed three diets with differing levels of gluten, from low to high as well as a placebo diet. They weren’t told which diet they were on at any given time, but everyone reported an increase of symptoms on all the diets, even the placebo diet. So, the conclusion was that gluten did not elicit specific negative responses and that the gastrointestinal distress reported by the subjects had no apparent physical cause. That’s why responsible experts recommend not buying into the gluten-free-is-best premise. Foods other than gluten can cause similar symptoms and, if you’re convinced that you really do have an issue with gluten, you’ll be unlikely to get to the bottom of the real problem and get it treated.

Dinner costs a whole lot more when you have to shop gluten-free.

We haven’t even touched on the issue of the astronomical price tags on gluten-free foods, yet another strike against the anti-gluten movement. If you’re not truly celiac or gluten sensitive but simply avoid gluten as a lifestyle choice, you’re likely paying more than necessary to dodge gluten.

All of that said, elevated levels of gluten in wheat products may be an issue worth examining, as it is the excessive amounts in certain types of wheat that seem to cause problems for people who are non-celiac. Stay tuned. We’ll take a look at that issue next week.

Kicking up Weight Loss with Keto and CBD

This week, TargitFit is pleased to bring you an informative diet/health article by Kim Torres:

New diet and exercise fads tend to come and go in the blink of an eye, and by the time you make a decision to commit to following a specific food and exercise plan, the next bigger and better weight loss trend is already the talk of the town. More well-known diets are the Atkins Diet and the Paleo Diet and of course, let’s not forget fasting and juice cleanses. But one particular diet that continues to be used to improve your health and consistently help you lose weight is called the Ketogenic diet.

But fans of the Keto diet are not always content with just sticking to their high fat, low carb eating regimes, and many avid followers of this controversial eating program are now complementing their strict Keto diets with CBD tincture for an increased boost when it comes to health and weight loss. CBD has become one of the most talked-about healing remedies in history and it is thought to be even more effective at treating a range of physical and emotional issues when paired with a healthy diet and exercise.

Why Is The Keto Diet Good For Weight loss?

The Ketogenic diet, or Keto diet for short focuses on a high intake of fats alongside consuming minimal amounts of carbohydrates. Low carb diets have risen to fame thanks to the Atkins Diet, which helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide shed those pesky extra pounds. When your carbohydrate intake is dramatically reduced, your body turns to fat instead of carbs for energy, and you enter the metabolic state known as ketosis. This is what makes your body start burning fat and converting it into useful energy. Additionally, the liver converts fat into ketones that fuel your brain functioning.

Which Foods Are Permitted On The Keto Diet?

The following foods can be consumed when following this diet:

  • Meat of any kind
  • Fatty fish
  • Eggs
  • Cream and butter
  • Unprocessed cheese
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy oils such as olive, coconut, and avocado oil
  • Avocados
  • Low-carb veggies, in particular, leafy greens

Foods to be avoided:

  • Sugary foods and drinks like soda and fruit juice.
  • Grains, starch or anything that is wheat-based
  • All fruits aside from berries in minimal quantities
  • Beans and legumes
  • All root vegetables, including potatoes
  • Low-fat products
  • Dressings and sauces that contain sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar-free foods

What’s So Appealing About It?

Weight loss is the number one driving force behind people starting the keto diet and studies like this one have revealed that the keto diet is far more effective than a low-fat diet. Completely cutting out sugars and starch means that it’s easier not to cheat, as the meals will leave you feeling full, and you don’t need to count calories so much. This diet is considered to be incredibly healthful when suffering from the following conditions:

  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • Acne
  • Heart Disease

How Does CBD Complement the Keto Diet?

CBD and ketosis are often used to improve the same conditions such as those mentioned above, and whilst there are still quite a bit of research studies and clinical trials to be done on cannabinoids until they can be formally labelled as medicine, the World Health Organization has already deemed CBD to be safe for use as a complementary supplement to support traditional treatment for mental and physical illness. Full spectrum CBD oil like those produced by the popular brand Sunday Scaries work so well as they are made using the whole plant and all of its beneficial nutrients and terpenes, instead of CBD isolate, and the terpenes present work synergistically with CBD to produce an entourage effect of health and wellness. Taking this into account, could CBD oil and other CBD products work synergistically with the Keto diet to supercharge the effects of weight loss?

The best way to adopt a healthier lifestyle and become leaner is to find a combination of tools that work together harmoniously to help you achieve your ultimate weight loss goal. CBD has received a stellar reputation based on anecdotal evidence from users who have felt more motivated to work out and have found it easier to curb their cravings for unhealthy food and alcohol. Many foods on the ketogenic diet and CBD both contain an excellent amount of fatty acids, proteins and omega-3–all of which contribute to losing weight and toning up.

But the good news doesn’t stop there: CBD maintains homeostasis in the body via the interaction with your endocannabinoid system. This helps you to keep your body balanced and when using CBD in conjunction with the Keto diet, the results will be supercharged.

Can Pairing CBD With A Ketogenic Diet Promote Weight Loss?

Starting a new diet can provoke cravings, especially when you are making such a sudden dramatic change to the types of foods you eat and also the ones you will be required to stay away from. Especially on a low-carb diet, we can start to crave sugary junk foods instead of our healthy options like peanut butter, or fruits and vegetables. Although CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, which is known to induce the munchies, CBD actually helps to curb cravings by helping to regulate homeostasis. Plus, a high-fat diet like Keto also helps to keep you full, because you’re eating all sorts of rich and filling fats, like cheese and avocado.

Also, successfully losing weight through dieting is made possible by increasing the amount of exercise you do, which can be a bit of a problem if aches or pains associated with being overweight are deterring you from working out. CBD is proven to provide relief from pain and inflammation, so there will be no excuse for skipping the gym if you decide to start taking it as an additional supplement.

The Takeaway

Maintaining your health and well-being and eating wholesome, nutritious foods is an excellent way to ensure that you improve your emotional well-being, as well as nourishing your body. The benefits of CBD can definitely help you on your way to fat loss. CBD and Keto are the perfect teammates during your weight loss journey as they both work to achieve the same goals with regard to your overall health.

Sources:

Kimberly Torres is one of the voices behind the SundayScaries blog. She actively contributes to helping people overcome stress and anxiety and promote self-care and self-improvement, allowing people to appreciate themselves and enhance their inner beauty and strengths. Aside from writing, Kim also spends her time reading books, listening to music and traveling.

This article first appeared on SundayScaries.com.