Do you Train your Brain to be as Tough as your Body?
Some may argue that toughness is found in soul, spirit and mind… and not in muscles.
Never underestimate the power of your mind…whether it is in sports, in business or in life. Becoming mentally stronger may be the one factor that determines whether you realize your goals; or not. It may be the one single factor separating you from being a champion or a runner up.
When life gets hard, we tend to want comfort, not change. Those who have learned the secret to mental toughness have learned that comfort now may mean pain later, but a little pain now can yield great rewards in the future.
When it comes to training; having mental strength is one of the most important pieces of sports equipment you will ever own. Your physical workouts will strengthen you body, but mental strength training provides the necessary conditioning to fortify your mind. It provides you a psychological edge that enables you to be consistent; to maintain focus and determination to not only finish but perform at your maximum potential, despite any difficulty or consequences. More simply put: To Never Quit. Being mentally strong directly affects your confidence. As mental strength rises, so will your confidence. If you want to become mentally stronger, you have to become tough about what you think. What you think determines how you act. Replace weak thoughts like “I can’t or I’m too tired” with positive ones; I feel great; my body is strong.”
Regardless of your fitness goals or where you are in your training you will be challenged many times to keep moving forward to achieve your desired goal. Here are some common traits that make up mental toughness:
Learn to bounce back from adversity, pain, or a disappointing performance. Realize and admit a mistake, understand a missed opportunity, embrace the lesson and quickly move on and refocus on the immediate goal ahead.
Focus in the face of distractions and unexpected circumstances. Don’t avoid situations or make excuses for less than perfect conditions. When your are dead tired, hurting and want to quit is the time to dig deep and focus. Tell yourself to keep moving forward.
Have faith in yourself Trust that your body will know what to do when it is time to perform. Trust in your training and your plan. Trust in your coach. Believe in yourself, even if there is no one nearby to boost your confidence.
—-BE POSITIVE: TALK TO YOURSELF: VISUALZE:
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: BE PREPARED—–
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will” Mahatma Gandhi
Healthy eating doesn’t really take any more time than unhealthy eating; it just requires a little more foresight.
Everybody has a story about when or why they gained weight, or why they have no time to eat right. When you’re constantly on the go, it can be hard to find time to eat, let alone eat healthy. So you turn to quick-fix foods that are high in fat, sugar, sodium, or calories, and low in essential nutrients. But eating is what gives us the energy to do everything on our to-do list. And when we are busy and “forget” to eat, or hurriedly rush into the nearest convenience store or hit up a vending machine for chips and a coke, we are not fueling bodies. So how do you find balance?
The solution isn’t to find more time, but to work with the schedule you do have. Instead of waiting in the fast food drive in line, use this time to visit the grocery store, and pick up prepared salads, sandwiches, and meats, pre-washed and cut fruits and vegetables, canned soups, low-calorie and low-fat frozen meals, yogurt, string cheese, and cereals.
To lose weight, and keep it off you must eliminate foods that aren’t healthy and eat foods that are good for your body. There is a strong correlation between how and what we eat and being well. People hold on to the illusion that there is no time to cook, no time to shop, and no healthy options for “fast food” meals. But just because there is no time to always sit down and eat, does not mean you have to eat poorly. What it boils down to is being prepared and carrying healthy snacks with you.
Here are some healthy tips to try:
- Cook a bigger batch of food on the weekends, and refrigerate or freeze for weekday lunches or dinners.
- Set an alarm for mealtimes. Even if you’re buried in work, don’t skip meals; designate a time to eat.
- Try not to do anything else while eating. Mindless consumption prevents the enjoyment of food. When that happens, people tend to eat more and eat unhealthy alternatives.
- Put fresh or dried fruit where you can see it to remind yourself of your goal to eat healthy. Bananas, grapes, and apples make handy and nutritious snack items.
- If at a restaurant, turn down the supersize option, and choose baked and broiled instead of fried.
- Order the lunch portion at dinnertime, and hold off on fatty condiments.
- Keep handy snacks around, such as fruits, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, trail mix, yogurt, cottage cheese, carrot or celery sticks, low sugar cereals, and wraps
Eggs are by far the fastest cooking protein you can get. Scrambling 2-3 eggs takes about 2 minutes. Sauté some spinach with a little garlic, or add some diced ham and cheese, and you have a healthy homemade meal in less than 10 minutes. This works for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Hard boil eggs take about 10 minutes. Boil extra, peel and place in Ziplocs and carry
with you for a quick protein snack or for breakfast on the run the next day.
Fresh fruit protein smoothies are also quick, nutritious and satisfying. They are so versatile… almost anything goes. And they travel well. 1 scoop of Whey adds approximately 25-30grms of muscle building protein for satiability. I recommend buying one of the many personal blenders on the market like the Ninja or Magic Bullet. Mix and go, in under 2 minutes.
Planning healthy meals and snacks ahead of time is especially crucial for people with junk food cravings. If you must have junk food, give the healthier alternatives, such as baked chips, dried fruit, or sugar-free Popsicles a try. Look for low-calorie, low-sugar, and low-fat options.
In place of chips, try light popcorn, whole grain crackers, carrot sticks, red peppers, and rice cakes.
For the sweet tooth, sugar-free pudding, sugar-free Jell-O, fruit bars, baked apple, fresh fruits, and dried fruits are options.
If you put your mind to it, you can come up with your own ideas for eating well with little cooking. It’s just a matter of wanting to find solutions.
Quick fixes don’t exist for long-term health. Slow and steady wins this race.
We are creatures of habit. To make health-conscious changes, the changes have to fit in with our habits.
Have you ever changed, or tried to change, the way you eat? While you may want to change your diet, it can feel too hard and time-consuming. And when you are busy with work, family…life, there is just no time for added complication, right? But, it’s the New Year and you are making a promise to start (and stay) on a strict diet to lose weight, but are you just setting yourself up for more frustration and failure…again?
Shifting to healthier eating habits can seem complex. Nutritionists tell you, “Eat more vegetables; reduce your saturated fat; watch the sugar; buy organic; avoid trans fats; get enough calcium; eat low carb; high protein…” On and on it goes.
Little wonder most people put off changing their diet…or opt for trendy rapid weight loss plans.
You already know that commitment is crucial for success; so you consider one of the popular commercial diet programs that promise quick and easy results. This craving for instant gratification is why people gravitate to fad diets. Unfortunately, (and statistically); these plans don’t let you MAINTAIN weight loss. Once you “go off” the diet, and return to old ways, the bad habits return along with weight gain and associated health issues.
But no need to feel discouraged. Small, incremental changes are the key to success. Health altering changes simply involve re-education to meal options that promote consistency while keeping your body filled with nutrition. It is more a mind-shift and a behavior change, not a diet. Learn to change the behavior you are used to and focus on building habits of living that improve your life.
Shift your attitude to viewing food as a fuel to sustain life and not something that controls your quality of life. We all have different body compositions, likes and dislikes, and finding success in making healthy lifestyle changes is a process that will take a little time and experimentation. Start with small steps and before you know it, the small changes add up to become part of a healthy new lifestyle. For example, when you wake up tomorrow instead of skipping breakfast, eat a small meal consisting of healthy carbs, protein and a little fat. Do this for a week. Once this works for you with little effort, it will be time to make another small change.
Eat Real Food (and less of it)
No matter what diet you follow, make sure most of it comes from food without bar codes. Whole foods, with minimal processing and preservatives are best. Concentrate most of your shopping time around the perimeter of your grocery store. Chances are the fresh produce, whole grain breads, meat and seafood departments, and dairy cases are around the perimeter of the store. Then dip into the isles for staples, like oatmeal and olive oil. And you don’t need nearly as many calories as you think you do. Most women will lose weight (or maintain it) on 1,250-1,600 calories and most men between 1,500-2,000. Cutting calories by about one-third is also one of the best strategies for living longer.
Suggestions for the New Year / and a Healthier New You:
- eat more fruit and vegetables
- have a better awareness of your eating patterns and how to make your diet work for you
- try some different foods and increase the variety in your diet
- be on the way to controlling hunger and the portions you eat
- work out some strategies for eating well when you’re busy
Follow these eight rules of eating, and you’ll more easily manage your weight and improve your nutrition From YOU: The Owners Manual by RealAge experts Micael F. Roizen, MD and Mehmet C. Oz, MD.
Active Rest: Because you just can’t train ALL out, ALL the time.
Resting is an essential element of training… as long as it is active.
Active rest is light exercise performed on non-training days at an easy pace with little stress. The low-intensity assists blood circulation which in turns removes lactic acid, reduces blood lactate and speeds muscle recovery for your next high-intensity session. Active rest is NOT the assigned times in between sets of exercises during strength-training and it is NOT the recovery during interval training during a cardio session.
In the recent past, athletes were encouraged to rest completely after a competition or on a day off. But newer research shows that engaging in low-intensity exercise during “rest” is better for maintaining fitness levels. Low-intensity exercise flushes out lactic acid and delivers healing oxygen to the muscles. Active rest activities are easy recreational movements… so keep intensity at levels lower than regular training.
The guideline for this is to exercise at 65% of your maximum heart rate. To determine that, calculate 220 minus your
age, then times that number by .65. Otherwise, increase your breathing and heart rate to slightly above normal level. Be mindful to work hard enough so your body can exercise effectively, but not hard enough that you produce more lactic acid. Getting your blood pumping will help flush away waste products like lactic acid that can build up in muscles post exercise. You won’t be blinded by sweat, but you’ll get a good glow on.
Examples of active rest activities for strength athletes would be yoga, hiking, biking or walking. If you are an avid spinner, you may try a round of tennis. Swimming, gardening, or tossing a Frisbee with the dog; you get the picture. Leave the stopwatch and heavy weights for training days. Workouts should be at least 20 minutes in duration.
If you don’t actively rest, you risk burn out: a condition when stressors become too great in relation to your body’s ability to adapt. As a result, your training can be derailed for weeks or months to regain energy due to over-training. That’s why variation within your training week is important. The light days make the heavy days possible. They should enhance your more intense workouts and they should be equally enjoyable. If done right, scheduled active rest days will prevent over-training, injuries and mental fatigue.
Don’t confuse a day of ACTIVE REST with DOING NOTHING or having A LIGHT WORKOUT DAY.
ACTIVE REST days allow you to get your heart rate elevated and blood circulating. Also, remember an ACTIVE REST day is not a day off from good nutrition!
Pump up your post-workout protein shake with coconut water!
* When it comes to recovering after an intense workout, coconut water may be the perfect liquid to add to your favorite protein powder. Derived from young green coconuts before they mature, this natural beverage is the water found inside young coconuts and is not to be confused with creamier coconut milk. Natural coconut water contains five essential electrolytes and more potassium than a banana. Contrary to popular beliefs coconuts do not make you fat. They are loaded with medium chain fatty acids that are easy to digest and therefore your body doesn’t store it as fat.
Coconut Water Contains More Potassium than a Banana
One of coconut water’s greatest nutrition facts may be its enormous amount of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that promotes healthy kidney, heart, and overall cellular function.
Most often, potassium is associated with bananas, which contain about 450 mg of potassium per serving. However, a serving of coconut water offers your body a whopping 650 mg of potassium.
What’s more, it has no added sugar, fat or cholesterol.
All natural coconut water provides carbohydrates and electrolytes, which are both critical for optimal recovery. In order to replenish, a lot of people turn to sports drinks or electrolyte-enhanced water. However, sports drinks contain alot of unnecessary sugars and calories, which coconut water naturally avoids. It is also fat free, with a taste that is nutty and naturally sweet and a great thirst quencher. In addition to aiding in hydration, incredibly healthy coconut water contains amazing anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that can help to remove toxins from the body.
Adding coconut water to protein powders such as soy, whey or rice makes a refreshing and nutrient-dense post workout drink. Its high potassium also helps regulate blood pressure, heart function and many other health benefits.
REFUEL YOUR BODY:
For optimal nutrient absorption, consume your post work out shake within 30-45 minutes after training. Mix coconut water with vanilla (or chocolate) flavored protein powder for a post-training meal to feed your muscles and replenish the electrolytes lost during strenuous exercise.
Look for it at your local grocery or health-food store.
“Almond Joy” PWO Meal.
- 2 scoops ViSalus Nutrition Shake Mix
- 1 Chocolate cardio-care Flavor Mix in (or 1 Tsp baking cocoa)
- 6-8 Oz Natural Coconut Water
- 4 Oz Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 6 almonds
- Blend well in personal blender ( I use a magic bullet) for 30-45 seconds.
TROPICAL BERRY SMOOTHIE:
- 2 scoops ViSalus Nutrition Shake Mix
- 4 -6 oz Coconut Water
- 4 oz Low Sugar Orange Juice
- 1/2 container Pineapple-Coconut Flavor Yogurt (Dannon Light n Fit)
- 3-4 Frozen Strawberries, Mango or any other Fruit of choice.
Blend well. ENJOY!
To Learn more about Visalus health and nutrition products:
One of the most important pieces of information in a nutrition label is the serving size.
There is a difference between “a portion” and “a serving”. A serving is a standard or measure on how much food to eat and has been chosen by the manufacturer to describe the nutritional value of that food. For example 1 cup of milk, or a half a cup of oats. A portion is the amount of food someone CHOOSES to put on their plate and eat. Be mindful of portion sizes, for example 1 cup of oatmeal is actually considered 2 servings.
Buyers beware! Packaging can be misleading. Many foods that come as a single portion actually contain multiple servings. The Nutrition fact label on packaged foods—on the backs of cans, sides of boxes, etc. — also informs you of the number of servings in the container. We may look at the calories but don’t notice the stated serving size. This means we may be consuming more calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc.
For example, look at the label of a 20-ounce soda (typically consumed as one portion), and you’ll see that it has 2.5 servings in it. So if you choose to drink the whole bottle of Pepsi, you are consuming 250 calories and a whopping 69 grams of sugar! A 3-ounce bag of chips—which some would consider a single portion—is actually 3 servings.
Another example of portion distortion is the bagel. A typical bagel used to be 2 to 3 ounces, or about 200 calories. Today one bagel is 5 to 6 ounces, which can be well over 400 calories, depending on the type. (This is without any “schmear” on top!) That same 5- ounce bagel that you might enjoy for breakfast is the equivalent of 5 pieces of bread and comprises the five servings of breads/grains that someone should eat for the entire day.
We live in a world of all you can eat buffets and “supersized” convenience foods. And when food is put in front of us, we will eat. Restaurant portions tend to be two times or more than is recommended at one sitting, which leads to way too many calories. We can retrain ourselves to eat more slowly and stop eating when we are satisfied…not full. Also, it is healthier to eat several smaller meals, rather than a few large meals a day. This is because it keeps your body in the digesting-food mode, which means it keeps your metabolism up.
One of the easiest ways to cut back on calories and lose weight is by monitoring portion sizes.
A couple of “visual” tips to help with portion control and avoid consuming too many extra calories: In general terms, one hand, cupped = 1/2cup, two hands, cupped = 1 cup. An open palm, or the size of a deck of cards = 3-4 oz, the
standard serving size for a piece of chicken or fish, and a serving of potatoes about the size of a computer mouse, for example. Get to know the recommended portion sizes for your favorite foods and strive to stick to that as closely as
you can. Another way to prevent over indulgence is to serve meals on smaller side plates, instead of dinner plates. Think of meat and pasta as the side dishes and vegetables as the main course. Fill half your plate with veggies, one quarter with lean protein (meat) and on quarter with starch/carbs (pasta, rice, potato). Once you get into the habit of monitoring portions, it will become second nature and easier to monitor.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who shrank their portions by 25% slashed 250 calories a day—enough to help them lose a half-pound a week—and still felt full.
Spare your low back from stress by improving mobility. Poor hip mobility leads to poor posture, poor sports performance and chronic pain.
Joints and limbs need to be mobile and have full range of motion to be useful. Our hip joints especially take a beating all day long and tight hip flexors (the muscles at the front of your hips) are a big problem for lots of us. But, we all need the use of our joints and limbs for everyday activities like picking up groceries or walking up stairs. And, if you are an athlete, improved mobility equates to improved performance and reduced chance of injury.
The way to improve mobility is through proper stretching.
The benefits of a good warm up before exercise include improved strength, flexibility, muscular endurance,coordination and the correction of major and minor muscle imbalances. It also increases blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues and increases range of motion, thus reducing chance of injury during exercise. It is vital to include dynamic stretching exercises your daily exercise routine as it will not only help your major muscles short term but also very importantly long term when our muscles start aging.
Dynamic stretching works by gently propelling their muscles towards their maximum range of motion. It is very important to not use jerky, forced movements to try to increase the range of motion beyond what is comfortable as it can easily cause injury. A 2008 study in the “The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” determined dynamic stretching a better choice for warm-ups for exercise over static stretches which were found to hurt muscular power output.
Lack of mobility in the hip joints is a very common complaint. This can be the result of a sedentary lifestyle and/or lack of stretching which shortens hip flexors & hamstrings and restricts hip movement. But the hips are designed for a wide range of motion and mobility. We should freely rotate thighs in & out, move them up & down, and pull them to & away from the body. Or at least we should be able to. Persistent pains in knees and/or lower back can be caused by lack of hip mobility. Incorporating dynamic stretching can help the hip muscles regain their original length and alleviate pain in the lower back and hips. If your muscles are tight, it is important to stretch every day. Your hip mobility will improve by doing the exercises correctly and often.
Take it Slowly. Increase speed & range of motion as your muscles loosen. Don’t get injured by forcing the movement from the start.
Lunges are among the many recommended exercises to help stretch out the hip flexors.
Lunges will also improve functional range of motion while also improving strength in the quadriceps, glutes and core. There are many variations to the lunge that should be incorporated into your program. (Stationary, front, reverse, lateral, walking, overhead, etc.)
Basic Kneeling Lunge (or split squat)
Kneel with your left knee on the ground and your right leg in front of you with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your upper body straight and lunge forward as far as is comfortable and then move back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Lateral Lunge (Squats). A great dynamic stretch for your adductors. Assume a wide stance, the wider the easier. Squat side to side with both hands behind your head or across your chest. Point Your Feet Straight ahead. Rotating your feet outwards is trying to compensate lack of hip mobility. Plant your feet into the floor. Push Your Knees out. This better involves your adductors. Push from the heels and push your knees out. Stay Tall. Look forward, keep your chest up and shoulder-blades back & down. Don’t round your back.
Leg Swings (Front to Back and Side to Side)
Stand up straight and hold onto something. Move from the hips; flex and extend your thighs, keep your pelvis still and do not allow your torso to rotate. Look forward. Keep the movement at a steady slow pace, maintaining good posture throughout. 15 repetitions of each for each leg.
Restoring hip mobility will help in several areas. If you don’t already include these exercises in your current training, performing them will make a big difference in your body mechanics. It should reduce or eliminate lower back and/or knee pain stemming from overcompensation. It should improve performance output by allowing you to fully engage in training exercises like squats and dead lifts while making them safer.
You’ve decided to “clean up” your diet by eliminating fast foods, red meats, pork, junk foods, sugary drinks – But don’t worry; there’s plenty of good stuff left to eat.
… once you get the junk out of your system and start eating right, chances are you probably will not want to go back to you old habits.
“We are what we eat” is amazingly accurate. Unnatural foods are harmful and tend to accumulate instead of being flushed. Chances are if you are feeling tired, stressed, are bloated, frequently achy, or have low energy, your diet can be to blame. Ignoring these signs will not make your situation better. It may be time to detox your body. Eating natural foods, provided by nature, is the best way to cleanse and revitalize the body and stay healthy. Food is the fuel you feed the body to enable it to achieve peak performance. The cleaner and purer the fuel, the better and smoother the engine’s performance. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Detoxification is one of the basic functions of the human body. One of the body’s functions is to constantly detox on its own. During this process, the body eliminates toxins through the kidneys, colon, liver, lungs, lymph and skin. Problem is that our lives are full o stress, pollution, chemicals and many other harmful substances and it is difficult for the human body to cleanse itself the way it was designed to do by nature.
When toxins are unable to be flushed out, they are set aside and surrounded by fat to protect the body from their harmful properties. However, this system of defense can cause even more health problems. Detoxification can also revitalize and eliminate bacteria and viruses.
It is important to keep well hydrated by drinking lots of water and herbal or green tea. Aim to drink at
least 8-10 glasses of water every day. Packed full of antioxidants, green tea not only washes toxins out of the system through its liquid content, but also contains a special type of antioxidant called catechins, known to increase liver function. Stay clear of sugary sodas and caffeinated beverages as much as possible.
What we consume every day is an extremely important aspect of detoxification. Choosing and eating the right things could make the difference between overloading our bodies with toxins or keeping it clean and working properly. There is a wide range of foods to select from that can be incorporated into your diet to help you revitalize and detoxify. So what foods are best to eat to remove toxins and get rid of that “sluggishness” feeling?
Basically, your diet should consist of foods that can be found in an organic form when possible or
found in nature without preservatives or processing. After all, it was all those processed foods with all the additives, dyes, added sugars, salt and extra fat that got your body into the state it’s in now.
Here are just a few suggestions that should be incorporated in your diet regularly to help heal your body naturally.
- Garlic, Ginger, Cilantro – Potent spices known to boost metabolism and rid free radicals
- Green Leafy Veggies- gives digestive tract a chlorophyll boost ridding the body from harmful environmental toxins. (including cabbage)
- Citrus (Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit) and other fruits (high in water content and vitamin C. Also fruits provide natural sweetness to help fight off sweet craving while trying to avoid processed sugars
- Broccoli Sprouts -stimulate the detoxification enzymes in the digestive tract. High in antioxidants.
- Seeds and Nuts
- Beans and grains (gluten free) like rice, quinoa
- Omega 3 Oils – Avocado, Flax Seed, Olive Oils, helps lubricate the intestinal walls, allowing the toxins to be absorbed by the oil, and eliminated by the body
- Asparagus: They are diuretic and prevent water retention. Weight loss while eating asparagus is due to the loss of water and not fat.
Dairy and wheat products are not the best choices while trying to detox. Substitute instead when possible gluten free grains and almond or soy milk. Avoid fried foods during this period as well. Instead of using butter, chose a healthier canola based or olive oil product. Avoid processed cakes and cookies and other such flour-based products as well. An area that is tough for most people is snack foods. Instead of snacking on chips, candy and cookies, snack on nuts and seeds as a healthier source, or of course fresh fruits or veggies. Virtually all fruits and vegetables are great foods but those full of color such as dark leafy spinach or bright red tomatoes are optimal.
The bottom line, when it comes to appropriate body detox foods, consider that if a food product is made in a factory and processed in some way (besides simple flash freezing or canning), then it is not the best thing for your detoxifying diet.
Real Cows eat Grass, Not Grain.
There was a time when all beef was grass fed and “natural”. Natural for fresh meat products, as defined by the USDA, refers to “minimally processed and containing no artificial ingredients.” Today, most all commercially available beef are fed enormous quantities of corn, protein supplements, antibiotics and other drugs, including growth hormones so that they can be made as fat as possible and brought to slaughter (and market) as fast as possible. All this to make up for what they are missing from the diet that was intended for them.
Why grass fed beef is healthier for you.
Grassfed meat, is lower both in overall fat and in artery-clogging saturated fat. Because grass is cattle’s natural, preferred food source, they are able to process their food better. And because their bodies aren’t pumped full of hormones to make them grow faster, they have more time to mature. All those nutrients end up in the meat and result in a healthier and more delicious product.
The fat content of beef is the primary reason it has lost ground as a respectable entrée on America’s dinner table. Not only do most beef cuts have a high fat content, ranging from 35-75%, but the majority of it is saturated. The overall total fat content of a pasture raised cattle is about 25% lower than that of your typical corn fed cattle… Look at packaging and you will notice it is labeled lean by the USDA.
Grass-fed beef is naturally lower in calories too. A 6-ounce steak from a grass-fed steer can have 100 fewer calories than the same steak from a grain-fed steer. Pasture raised beef also has the added advantage of providing more omega-3 fats. These crucial healthy fats are most plentiful in flaxseeds and fish, and are also found in walnuts, soybeans and in meat from animals that have grazed on omega-3 rich grass. When cattle are taken off grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on grain, they immediately begin losing the omega-3s they have stored in their tissues.
In addition to being higher in healthy omega-3s, meat from pastured cattle is also up to four times higher in vitamin E than meat from feedlot cattle and much higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient associated with lower cancer risk. Grass-fed beef is also higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as the B-vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin.
Pasture raised beef tastes different from grain fed beef.
This is the way beef is supposed to taste! The difference is that you taste “clean” meat, free from antibiotics and hormones. Additionally, grass fed beef is safer for the environment, more humane to the cattle and overall a safer meat. And the reason is simple. They are eating a diet appropriate for their bodies.
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20 Minute Meal: Natural Beef Fajitas
- 1 lb Natural Beef steak (Boneless Chuck or Round)- cut across grain in 1 inch (finger length) strips
- 1 small onion, sliced
- ½ red, ½ green bell pepper, sliced
- Minced garlic (to taste)
- Fajita seasonings
- Fresh lime juice
- 1 TBSP Olive oil
- Whole wheat, High Fiber or low carbTortilla Wraps
- Salsa or Pico de gallo
OPTIONAL TOPPINGS: Fresh Tomato, Avocado Slices, Black Beans, Low Fat Shredded cheese.
- Coat bottom of large skillet with olive oil. When pan is hot, quickly stir fry seasoned vegetables (garlic, onion and peppers) until lightly browned – just limp. Do not overcook. (2-3 minutes). Remove from Pan.
- If needed add more olive oil to pan. Add beef strips, fajita seasonings to taste, and lime juice and stir fry quickly (1-2 minutes) over medium-high heat until beef is slightly pink in center.
- Return vegetables to pan. Mix well and continue to cook meat until desired wellness. Remove from heat promptly.
- Fill warm tortillas with beef and vegetable mixture. Top with ~2 tablespoons salsa (per wrap) and desired toppings.
- Roll tortilla… and Enjoy!
Serve with side of black beans and/or whole grain rice.
- Substitute, fish, shrimp or chicken for beef.
“There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles”. ~Author Unknown
No denying it. We all crave something sweet occasionally. So when we indulge in making a dessert, or sweeten a cup of coffee, what sweetener should we reach for? Sugar, fructose, honey? Calories from sweeteners add up quickly though and most sweeteners contain no nutritional value….So what about artificial, no calorie sweeteners? It’s all a bit confusing.
Let’s focus first on table sugar (Sucrose) versus Honey.
The case for Honey:
Honey actually contains the same basic sugar units as table sugar. Both contain glucose and fructose. Granulated table sugar, (sucrose), has glucose and fructose hooked together, whereas in honey, fructose and glucose remain in individual units. Fructose is sweeter than glucose, which is one of the reasons fructose is used in so many food products today. However, fructose does not convert to energy as efficiently as glucose. As a result, processed
foods containing granulated sugar high in fructose convert to fat stores more easily than honey. But, One teaspoon of table sugar contains 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey has 22 calories. (Or 46 to 64 calories per Tablespoon, respectively). Since Honey is both sweeter and denser than sugar, people may use less of it which might bring the actual caloric count about the same. Honey, however is less processed than table sugar and some nutrition experts say that honey contains trace vitamins and minerals that might aide in digestion. Note that raw honey contains more nutritional value than commercial honey since it is not filtered. Honey, also is far less processed than pure sucrose (table sugar) where all naturally occurring trace minerals are removed at the sugar plant, leaving nothing but “empty calories . Honey also has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) rating than sucrose. The lower the GI rating, the more slowly the absorption and infusion of sugars into the bloodstream, meaning a more gradual and healthier digestion.
What about Caloric Sweeteners (Sugar/Honey) versus Artificial Sweeteners?
The case for sugar:
Our bodies understand how to handle incoming nutrients. Through the actions of insulin, the body uses or stores incoming glucose for future use, either as muscle or liver glycogen or as fat. The problem is the body can’t handle the high quantities of sugar that most people are shoveling in. Most of us eat the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar a day which is definitely a problem if you are trying to lose weight, have to watch blood sugar levels because of diabetes, or all those sweets are keeping you from eating and drinking the nutritious foods your body needs. With that said, at least the body has a mechanism for dealing with and handling sugar. It doesn’t matter if that incoming sugar is in the form of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, or agave nectar…the body knows that it is sugar and breaks it down accordingly.
The case for Artificial Sweeteners:
Sugar is an empty calorie. Sure, with honey and molasses, you get a few vitamins, but calorie-for-calorie, sugar, in all of its forms, is just empty calories. Sugar sends your blood sugar (glucose) sky high which causes insulin levels to spike, sending you into a hypoglycemic funk, and ruining your insulin sensitivity. And sugar is exceedingly easy to over consume. There may be 20 -30 TABLESPOONS of sugar in one pan of brownies that is tempting you right now.
The main reason people choose artificial sweeteners is because they contain no calories. For dieters, sweeteners like Splenda and Equal are considered a free food. “Free foods” are those not counted as carbohydrates, fats, or any other exchange, says the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, “free foods” will not affect an individual’s blood sugar.
But consider this: as bad as sugar is in terms of processing, artificial sweeteners may be worse. These sweeteners are made in a lab from who knows what chemicals. Further, we have no idea what these chemicals will do to the body with sustained long-term use.
**One product you may have heard of that is gaining popularity is Truvia, which is a zero calorie, all natural sweetener
extracted from the Stevia Plant. Many people (including myself) see this as a healthy alternative, being that it’s derived from natural sources and it is FDA approved…..and no calories!
So, which is best?
You are probably not going to like the answer: None of the above.
The best option is to ditch the sweet stuff and opt for whole, real foods. Fat, protein and nutrient dense foods will curb your appetite and fruit or a good dark chocolate your sweet cravings.
If you must add something to your food or drink, use the least processed that you can get, which would be either honey or evaporated cane juice, or if counting calories… TRUVIA. And if you opt for one of the many artificial sweeteners out there, please use sparingly.