5 Protein Myths Busted

Posted on |

“The best sources of protein are from beef or chicken.”

“Eat minimum 6-8 eggs after each workout at the gym.”

“Drink a protein shake and add a drink with BCAA (branched chain amino acids) within 30-minutes of finishing your workout.”

 

These are some of the tips regarding protein that were given to me, when as a newbie to weights training I asked around for ways to lose body fat, get lean and build muscle definition. While well-intentioned, most of them are dated.

After working through a sports & exercise nutrition certification, here are some protein myths busted for the common person.

 

Myth #1 Eat more protein and less carbohydrates to lose weight.

 

While what you eat is important, exercise remains a key part in any weight loss program.

It doesn’t matter what you eat (more protein/ less fat/ no carbs), when

Input > output = weight gain

Input < output = weight loss

 

The logic is simple: as long as we eat more than we burn off, we will gain weight, regardless whether we are eating protein, carbohydrates or fat.

Sorry folks, you can’t skip the workout and expect to shed kilos just by cutting down on carbs and increasing protein. In fact, the human body can only absorb 9-12 grams of fat per meal, and excess protein can get converted to fat. Thus, excessive protein intake can end up as abdominal fat, since the body can’t absorb too much protein in one go.

 

Myth #2 There’s no such thing as too much protein

 

As already mentioned previously, too much protein — and of anything — is not good for the body. It’s all about balance!

Proteins are converted into amino acids, which are what the body needs to build lean muscle mass and provide energy for our cells.

The average person only needs about 0.8g of protein per kilogrammes of body weight per day. If you’re actively exercising each day, your intake should increase to around 1.4g to 2g per kilogrammes of body weight per day. As we age, the amount of protein needed on a daily basis will change.

The most important thing to note is not the quantity of protein, but the quality. The amino acid profile in the protein source matters more than the amount of protein taken. The better quality the protein, the easier the absorption of amino acids and they become more beneficial for the body.

 

Myth #3 You can’t get proteins from vegetables

 

We already know that there are many sources of plant protein where soy, mushroom, lentils, and beans are some of the more commonly known ones.

Another good source of plant protein is pea, especially European golden pea.

Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein is made from European golden pea isolate and contains up to 90% protein, making it the highest protein content supplement available. A single serve of Clean Lean Protein provides between 45% to 120% of the daily requirements for all nine essential amino acids.

The pea protein used for Clean Lean Protein is extracted through a natural enzyme process at low temperatures under water. This preserves the protein integrity and quality.

 

Myth #4 Soy is the best plant protein

Protein is protein your body can’t differentiate between the source.

However, what makes one source of protein better than another is the other stuff — or lack thereof — in it.

What other stuff? Things like allergens, GMOs, artificial flavourings, sweeteners, and anti-nutrients such as phytic acid. The latter binds minerals and prevents their absorption by the body.

Although soy is a common vegetable protein, most soy in the world are hybrid aka GMO. Additionally, most soy protein on the market contains artificial flavourings as well as added sweeteners.

So when buying plant-based protein, look at the label and choose one that is free of allergens, is non-GMO, and contains no artificial flavours, sweeteners, colours or preservatives.

 

Myth #5 Our bodies need protein at every meal

 

While our body does require amino acids for energy & muscle maintenance, it’s not necessary to pack it in at every meal with a serving of meat.

Almost all foods have some protein in it. And remember, protein is protein, which our body doesn’t differentiate.

Hence, as long as we eat balanced meals that consist of fresh, whole foods, we are well covered for our daily requirements of essential amino acids.

 


This article was contributed by the fantastic Patricea Chow

Follow her on Instagram @patriceachow

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/patriceachow/

Also her website http://patricea.com/

Use her exclusive discount code for 15% off – PC15 at checkout

Protein

Posted on |

Proteins

Introduction

Proteins are one of the three key macromolecules which are essential in the human diet, the other two being that of carbohydrates (sugars) and lipids (fats). In this trinity, it could be argued that proteins rank chiefly. Indeed, the origin of the word protein is the Greek word “proteios” which means prime or primary. This is an apt etymology, as proteins form the most fundamental component of human tissues. A diet without protein is a non-sustainable one for the reason that proteins confer the body with nitrogen, sulphur and hydrocarbon skeletons – essential organic components that cannot be provided by carbohydrates or lipids.

Proteins are responsible for a plethora of vital bodily processes and have a myriad of specific roles in various organ systems. As complex macromolecules, proteins are themselves comprised of smaller functional units known as amino acids. Amino acids are bound to one another by peptide bonds, and form long linear chains which are dubbed “polypeptides”. Most proteins which are consumed in the human diet via animal or plant sources comprise of about 20 different amino acids. This is important, as the proteins themselves have no nutritional value until and unless they are digested by enzymes in the small intestine into amino acids or shorter peptide chains [1].

Functions of Proteins

Proteins are essential in the synthesis of DNA and RNA. DNA and RNA are nucleic acids which provide the basis for our genetic code. Without this genetic code, cellular proliferation cannot occur, and our cells would be unable to reproduce and grow. Proteins are also essential in the synthesis of vital neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin – dubbed the “happy chemicals” that contribute to overall wellbeing and happiness.

Much of the biological properties of a specific protein depends on its physical interactions with other molecules. For example, in the context of our bodily defence mechanisms, protein-based antibodies (also known as immunoglobulins) readily bind to foreign pathogens such as viruses or bacteria to label them for destruction by our white blood cells [2]. In the same vein, proteins are also required for the synthesis of key enzymes. Enzymes are remarkable molecules which catalyse biochemical reactions in the human body to either form or break bonds in cells. These molecules are capable of expediting a chemical reaction by a factor of a million or more! [3] The controlled catalysis of millions of biochemical reactions that occur within the powerhouse that is the human cell, is what makes life itself possible.

Protein Dietary Requirements

The metabolism of proteins is intrinsically linked with total energy levels; this is because the transport of amino acids, detoxification of ammonia (a waste product of protein metabolism), and the excretion of nitrogen-based metabolites require energy. The consumption of daily dietary protein should, therefore, be considered in the context of intake of other energy sources (e.g. sugars and fats). Indeed, although proteins are one of the three energy sources utilizable by humans, they are rather energy inefficient compared to carbohydrates and lipids. Proteins are utilized by the human body for the various functions delineated above, more so than for an energy source.

The daily dietary requirements of amino acids and proteins are affected by 4 main factors. First, are dietary factors such as the content and proportion of proteins, total energy intake, and level of processing of the proteins. Second, are the physiological characteristics of the human, such as age, sex, genetic makeup, hormonal balance, pregnancy and lactation, as well as a level of physical activity. Third, are pathological characteristics of the human, such as trauma, cancer, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and infections. Last but not least, are environmental factors such as the ambient temperature, presence or absence of toxic pollutants, sanitation and personal hygiene.

Taking all these factors into account, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein in healthy adults with minimal physical activity is 0.8g of protein per kg body-weight per day. Dietary protein is assumed to be of high quality – this is denoted by a 75% efficiency, meaning that at least 75% of the protein is utilized by the body.

In individuals who undergo moderate to intense physical activity (e.g. endurance training or strength training), the American Dietetic Association recommends that the RDA be 1.3 – 1.6g of protein per kg body-weight per day. Evidence also suggests that the inclusion of high-quality plant-based proteins can stimulate muscle growth [4].

protein, plantprotein

 

Plant Protein vs Animal Protein

There is no doubt that protein is an essential nutrient in the human diet. Increasing research efforts have been directed recently into examining the purported health benefits of plant-based protein as opposed to animal-based protein. Both animal and plant-based foods are excellent sources of protein. While animal-sourced foods (e.g. meat, dairy, eggs and seafood) contain higher quantities of overall amino acids than plant-sourced foods (e.g. what, corn, vegetables, beans, peas, soy, nuts etc.), current evidence supports the notion that cardiovascular risk can be mitigated with a diet which incorporates more plant sources of protein instead of the typical animal-based protein diet [5].

Very few studies have assessed the post-protein ingestion muscle synthesis response to animal proteins versus plant proteins. It still remains to be seen if the age-old belief that animal protein promotes the synthesis and growth of muscle more so than plant protein is true. What is conclusive however, is that plant protein intake is associated with higher skeletal muscle mass in select populations (particularly in the elderly) [6]. A clinical trial conducted just 4 years ago also showed that pea proteins which were orally supplemented, promoted muscle thickness gains protein during strength training in a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial [7]. There was no statistically significant difference in muscle gains seen between individuals who were supplemented with pea protein, and individuals who were supplemented with whey protein.

plant protein, protein, plant-based protein

 

References for Further Reading

  1. Wu, G., Dietary protein intake and human health. Food Funct, 2016. 7(3): p. 1251-65.
  2. Schroeder, H.W., Jr. and L. Cavacini, Structure and function of immunoglobulins. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2010. 125(2 Suppl 2): p. S41-52.
  3. Agarwal, P.K., Enzymes: An integrated view of structure, dynamics and function. Microbial cell factories, 2006. 5: p. 2-2.
  4. van Vliet, S., N.A. Burd, and L.J. van Loon, The Skeletal Muscle Anabolic Response to Plant- versus Animal-Based Protein Consumption. J Nutr, 2015. 145(9): p. 1981-91.
  5. Richter, C.K., et al., Plant protein and animal proteins: do they differentially affect cardiovascular disease risk? Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 2015. 6(6): p. 712-728.
  6. Miki, A., et al., Protein Intake, Especially Vegetable Protein Intake, Is Associated with Higher Skeletal Muscle Mass in Elderly Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of diabetes research, 2017. 2017: p. 7985728-7985728.
  7. Babault, N., et al., Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2015. 12(1): p. 3.

 

Barriers To Achieving Your Best Shape

Posted on |

Original article published – September 12, 2017

http://sarimarsden.com/new-blog/2017/9/12/barriers-to-achieving-your-best-shape

 

When it comes to fitness goals, typically most people will only focus on the Physical State, but in this context, I’d like to offer a definition of best shape that includes Mental and Emotional States as well as the Physical. If you can align all these three states, you will feel like you are in that metaphorical “zone”, not just in the area of fitness, but also in the other areas of your life.

Whether it’s personal development or fitness training, there are 3 barriers to achieving your best shape. These three barriers are excerpted from our current book “Fit to Lead”.

  1. Resistant to being honest about “Where Am I”?
    Often I meet clients who have a great deal of enthusiasm when they talk about where they want to be in the future, but who are a lot more resistant about looking honestly at where they are right now.
    Everyone likes to focus on the destination and “the vision thing”, and while that certainly is important, trying to get to that point without stopping to clearly establish your starting point in life is a very common trap. As we say in our book, if you are not honest about where you start from in life, then you are doomed in any attempt to reach your desired destination.
    Telling the truth about your starting point often requires courage. You have to be willing to give up your image as a “good” person (whatever you think that means).

Stop talking about where you want “To be” and start building your best shape by being honest about the “As is”.

  1. Resistant to asking for and accepting support.
    In general, we have observed two main reasons why people are reluctant to ask for and/or accept support. Some people do not want to be a burden; they worry that other people are already busy enough and don’t have the time or the energy to support them. Other people see asking for and accepting support as a sign of weakness. They have their whole identity wrapped in their ability to be able to do everything required on their own and see the need for support as a fundamental flaw in their own character.

Your fitness goal is your personal goal, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own!

 

  1. Resistant to the “Start now and start small” mantra.
    The desire for fast and immediate results is a common trend, but when it comes to fitness, it is not simply about the destination, it is also about embodying healthy choices and practices as we journey through life. This is what creates sustainable change.
    In our experience, people can be divided into two types when it comes to putting new behaviours in place. Some people resist getting started at all. There always seems to be a reason in their mental state pillar or a feeling in their emotional state pillar not to start now: “now is not the right time”, “I don’t know how to do it perfectly yet” or “I just don’t feel like it”. These are the great procrastinators, and underneath most, if not all, of their protestations is fear; fear of making a mistake, hurting someone else’s feelings or simply discomfort.
    Other people have no problem whatsoever with getting started. The word that they resist in the mantra is not “now”, but “small”. These people want to be on top of Mount Everest today. They are not interested in the small steps to get there. Their Mental State has them saying things such as “that’s too easy”, “it will take too long if that’s all I do” or “there’s no challenge in that, so what’s the point”, etc.  These people are often committed to getting started, rather than actually finishing.
    People with this mentality tend to quickly experience discomfort in their Emotional State and become frustrated, blow up or get bored along the way. They have tried to run before they can walk, and when they inevitably fall over, they tell themselves “it is impossible for me”, “it will take too long” or “something else is more important now”, and they go looking for something else to start and then the cycle repeats itself!

At the beginning of my own fitness journey, I was in this Mental State. I was good at starting things but not committed to actually finishing them. 11 years ago, I was one of those who paid a monthly gym membership just so I can enjoy my coffee in their comfortable lounge, rather than working out on their gym floor. I had no problem with “starting now” but I noticed my resistance towards “starting small”. Over time, I began to see how this did not serve my purpose. I had to tell the truth about where I was right now in my life and how my own mindset was holding me back.
Once I realised this, I became certain that I wanted to choose a different attitude and stick to it. How did I do this? I found a goal to which I was emotionally connected. It took time to reach where I am today, but it has been worth the practice.

 

So how do you move from here? A perspective:
When it comes to a fitness journey, there is no finish line, but you can always approach your fitness goal like a series of sprints and not a marathon. Always know that there is a pit stop coming up for you to recover, reset and relaunch yourself. Over time you will build the capacity to make healthier choices, in all three pillars. Physical, Mental and Emotional. Trying to build a great body with a Mental or Emotional State that does not allow you to grow is a fool’s errand. Your best shape (EVER) requires alignment across all of these states and yes, it will require you to get out of your comfort zone – physically, mentally and emotionally.

So, be honest about where you start, declare a goal that you are emotionally connected to, enlist support, start now and start small. Then develop regular practices that will take you towards your desired end point.

Sariusly.

Sari Marsden: Co-founder of Sarius Performance International and co-author of “Fit To Lead”.
Sari is a PCC certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, elite trainer with Nike+ Training Club and a Championship winning Fitness Physique Competitor for Team Singapore.

To further explore the possibility of taking your leadership and/or your performance to a new level, contact us at fittolead@sariusperformance.com

Instagram @sarisarius

Websites:

https://fittoleadbook.com/

 

 

3 Tips to Burn Fat Efficiently

Posted on |

Getting your body in the best condition for effective fat & weight loss.

 

Do you workout at least three times a week, but don’t see the fats melting away? Yet you know of people who move no more than twice a week, still lose fat and keep it off. It almost seems unfair.

“What’s their secret?”, you think.

Well, there’s no secret. In the nutrition world, nutrition coaches have this simple formula for fat loss:

Calorie input > Calorie output = weight gain

Calorie input < Calorie output = weight loss

So if your body fat percentage and weight seems to have stagnated despite your best efforts, it’s time to look at your diet. Is it filled with refined and processed carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice/noodles, egg noodles, pasta, pizza, and cakes, or glucose- or sugar-laden energy drinks?

As you can quickly see, this is a carb-rich diet (sugar becomes carbs in the body). However, for fat loss, we need to reduce the consumption of carbohydrates so that the body burns fat. Thus, there has been increasing interest in Low-Carb-High-Fat diets that promote weight loss.

Other than What you eat, also equally important is When you eat and How much you eat. This is closely linked to the calorie output part of the equation, which we shall address below by looking at the science of what the body uses for fuel during intense activity periods.

 

FUEL SOURCES

Most people think that as long as they get in some form of exercise for 30-minutes, they are burning fat because their heart rate increases, they become short of breath, and they start to perspire profusely. Unfortunately, when we do aerobic exercises, the most readily accessible fuel that the body uses is not fats, carbohydrates or protein — it is glycogen. This compound is produced from complex carbs found in vegetables or grains from our most recent meal, and it would have been stored in our liver and muscles. There’s usually 500g to 800g of stored glycogen, which is the main fuel for the first 60 to 90 minutes of moderate intensity exercise.

Thus, exercising for less than 30-minutes will barely touch your body fat reserves. All you’ve done is depleted your body glycogen reserve. Then if you hydrate with an energy drink mid-workout or post workout, the glycogen stores would have been replenished. No fat burning has happened!

So, how can the fat burning be activated? Here are three tips to get the fats melting, and staying off.

  1. High-Intensity Interval Training: As its name suggests, HIIT is high-intensity movements, done in short bursts with rests of the same duration in between each exercise. The intensity of this form of training activates the mitochondrial and fat burning functions of the body. It’s tough, but it is short, sharp, fuss free (no need of much equipment and can be done anywhere), and you continue to feel the effects of the workout for at least 24-hours after.

With regular training, your metabolism becomes stronger and your body will begin to burn fat more efficiently. Your body will also begin to generate ketones at low levels, also known as nutritional ketosis, which helps with memory, and also helps to burn fat as you sleep.

If you have specific weight loss goals to achieve, you can consider working with a personal trainer to adapt your HIIT workout to match your goals. There are even HIIT routines suitable for people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.

After each HIIT workout, ensure that you consume about 20g of good quality protein to help your muscles to recover. Do this ideally within 30-minutes of completing the workout.

For a good quality protein that is easily absorbed by the body, opt for Clean Lean Protein — add a scoop to your water, coconut water, or nut mylk in a shaker bottle, and enjoy chilled.

  1. Superset Training: This is an alternative to HIIT workouts, and involves free weights. A form of strength training, a superset is when you alternate between two exercises without taking a rest in between. So as an example of a superset for the arms and shoulders, you would complete 20 reps of side lateral raise and immediately go into 20 reps of alternate dumbbell press. You may take a rest after this set to catch your breath or take a sip of water, before repeating the set another three times.

Likewise, the intensity of a superset training will activate the fat burn in your body.

Depending on your endurance, it is possible to train for 60-minutes when doing supersets. Should this be the case, consider adding branched chain amino acids and a good quality multi-nutrient with your protein, post workout. Here’s where a scoop of Good Green Stuff comes in handy: it is packed with more than 75 ingredients that meets your daily vitamin, minerals, and nutrient needs.

  1. Intermittent Fasting: If for some reason you’re unable to increase your output i.e. exercise, then you’ll have to decrease your input. One method that has long been used by athletes of sports that have weight class (powerlifting, mixed martial arts, rowing, boxing) is intermittent fasting. This is a pattern of eating less, and less often — a cycle of feasting followed by famine (more about this in the article Why Most Weight Loss Diets Fail).

On an intermittent fast, the rule is to eat no sooner than five hours after your last meal. Another rule is to eliminate all refined and processed carbohydrates, which we have mentioned earlier. Lastly, since it is a fast, snacks between meals are out too. Throw in a couple of training sessions when you’re on a fast, and your body will quickly shift into fat burning mode.

Usually, intermittent fasting should be taken on with the guidance of a nutrition or health coach. The coach will assess your training intensity and schedule, as well as your end-goal of the intermittent fasting, so as to come up with a fasting schedule and food plan suitable for you.

 

END GAME

By keeping in mind that weight loss happens when the output is more than the input, the choice is then to change our eating habits —how much, what, when — and/or increase our movement habits. When the conditions for the body is right, it will start to burn fat more efficiently.

How to Reduce Stress using Food & Nutrition

Posted on |

“I am stressed about work/my relationship/ my family/ my studies…” this is a common exclamation often heard in Singapore.

No one enjoys being under stress. If someone says that they like stress, they probably mean that they like the challenge that the ‘stressful’ situation presents to them. Yet, ‘good’ stress can be a useful tool that keeps us focused, and alert. So what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ stress?

‘Good’ stress:

  • Is infrequent
  • Is over quickly (in a matter of minutes of hours)
  • Motivates you to action
  • Leaves you better than you were before
  • Can be part of a positive life experience

An example of ‘good’ stress is exercise: you feel uncomfortable when you do it, but it is over within 30- to 60-minutes, and leaves you feeling better after.

‘Bad’ stress:

  • Is chronic/ongoing
  • Lasts a long time
  • Demotivates you
  • Is negative and depressing
  • Leaves you worse off than you were before

As you can tell, ‘bad’ stress can be detrimental to physical, mental and emotional health.

The good news is that stress can be managed and even reduced. All you need is to know the early warning signs that tell you that you’re not coping well, and give yourself enough time to recover.

 

STRESS & WEIGHT

When we are placed under chronic stress, the body responds by going into the “fight or flight mode”, as a way of protecting you. In this mode, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. This triggers the HPA axis, a carefully controlled set of feedback loops that involve the hypothalamus, pituitary glands, and adrenal glands.

In simple terms, when the hypothalamus detects stress, it will shut down the production of sex hormones. This can decrease the speed of thyroid hormone production, and lead to “slow’ metabolism.

When this happens, highly stressed people will suddenly find that, despite training more and eating less, they’re still piling on weight or have difficulty in shedding weight.

Equally important is the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates digestion and intestinal motility through the gastrointestinal tract (GI) when the body is in “rest and digest” mode. Which means, when the body is placed under stress, digestion and movement of food through the GI tract is slowed down.

Additionally, when we are stressed, we tend to eat quickly and less mindfully — we may not chew food properly, and gulp our food down in chunks. This places additional pressure on our digestive system, which has to work harder to digest the larger portions of food. In the long run, this upsets gut health, which adds more stress.

 

FOOD FOR THE MOOD

Clearly, feeling relaxed is important for managing stress. Ironically, while we require food for energy, food is also a stressor. When food enters the body, the latter needs to determine if it is friend or foe. This triggers the release of cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone.

So firstly, reduce the pressure placed on your gut! This simply means feeding it as much whole, minimally processed foods as possible while reducing foods that have a high sugar content, refined carbohydrates, or are highly processed. Opt for fresh fruit when your sweet tooth hits, or Nuzest’s Just Fruit & Veg is a blend of five fruit and five vegetables that provides a sweet snack without all the refined sugar and processed stuff.

Secondly, ensure that your musculoskeletal systems are fully supported and that your body has the energy it requires to easily handle stress. This means eating daily meals that are high in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, boron, and vitamin K.

The body also requires folate aka vitamin B9, the key vitamin required for cell renewal. Since the B vitamins work together, the body will require the entire family: B1 thiamine, B2 riboflavin, B3 niacin, B5 pantothenic acid, B6 pyroxidine, B7 biotin, and B12 methylcobalamin. Minimal levels are required for daily functions, in particular, up to 250mg of B5 is required daily by the body’s adrenal glands. However, an adrenally-stressed body will require more when faced with challenging situations. The vitamin B family can be found in dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale.

Also great for supporting the body’s systems are complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit (one each from all six colours of the phytonutrient spectrum, namely green, orange, yellow, red, blue/purple, white). Not forgetting healthy fats, and clean protein (approximately 1-2g per kg body weight or one palm).

However, it isn’t just choosing foods with high vitamin and mineral content, they also have to be in a form that is easily absorbed by the body. One of the best ways to ensure this is with Nuzest’s nutrient-packed Good Green Stuff bars or powder. It is packed with more than 75 vitamins, minerals, probiotics, antioxidants and essential nutrients that the body requires on a daily basis.

 

EATING HABITS

How you are eating is also an important factor in reducing stress – energy is required for digesting food, and eating more than what the body requires means that energy that could otherwise be used for dealing with life’s challenges are spent on digesting the additional food intake.

Keep to eating two to three balanced, varied and well-portioned meals a day. When the body is fed with fresh, natural, minimally processed whole foods, it will not require snacks, which can stress the body unless you’re burning off the excess energy with endurance activity.

Eating smaller portions also reduces the stress on your body’s systems. Portion control gives the GI tract time to rebuild, considering that the cells lining your gut are replaced every other day. The microbes and gut flora also have time to recover from their work of digestion and regulation of immune health.

One way to assist the GI tract is to feed it with probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants. There are several plant-based options such as dandelion, hawthorn, turmeric, and green tea.

Finally, eat slowly—chew each mouthful at least 20 times. The act of eating slowly sends signals to your brain that you are relaxed, and the parasympathetic nervous system is activated for better digestion.

 

REST & RELAX

Back to resting and relaxing, having good quality sleep is essential for reducing stress. Sleeping well allows your body’s cells to repair and rejuvenate well.

Sleep quality is affected by the types of food we eat, portion sizes, and even when we eat.

Besides the previous tips, you can also avoid eating too close to bedtime. A three to four hour window between the end of your meal to lights off will allow your body time to focus its energy on digesting food before switching gears to relaxation.

 

TAKE HOMES

It’s easy to reduce stress using food and nutrition. Just keep these in mind:

  • Eat fresh, minimally processed, whole foods.
  • Support the body with foods that are high in essential nutrients and minerals.
  • Avoid snacking, especially on foods that have a high sugar content, or on simple carbohydrates.
  • Eat smaller portions and slowly.
  • Avoid eating too close to bedtime.

Why Most Weight Loss Diets Fail

Posted on |

And how to use nutrition to successfully reach your weight goals.

Do you find that despite your best efforts to lose weight with a weight loss diet, you find it hard to resist sweet treats? It’s not uncommon that most diets fail, because most people give in to the call for sweet food.

Although we can’t do much about the cravings for sweet stuff, which is normal as we shall see later, we can use nutrition to ensure that we maintain our healthy weight goals.

It’s simply understanding why we behave the way we do when it comes to food and eating. After-which, it’s a matter of making small changes so that we develop eating habits that support a sustainable, long term weight loss.

 

THE SUGAR TEMPTATION

Ever felt the need order dessert, even though you’re stuffed from your main meal? Or when standing at the dessert section of a buffet, you can’t resist piling your plate with one serving of every cake, cookie, ice cream flavour or waffle offered?

Relax, you’re perfectly normal! It’s part of our evolutionary programming to want to feast, especially on sweet items — in the hunter-gatherer days, sweet foods were scarce in nature, so when humans came across these, they ate as much as they could and stored the excess calories to help them get through leaner times. They didn’t care about diets or weight control then, it was all about surviving through winter or times when there wasn’t sufficient food.

In present times, humans have easy access to an abundance and wide variety of fresh food. These types of food easily supply our bodies with the necessary nutrients that our bodies need for health.

Despite this, the urge to load up on energy still remains, thanks to the genetic programming that we possess since our hunter-gatherer ancestors: the body knows how to react to survive famines but not through feasts. This is what draws us towards foods that are high in calories or refined carbohydrates, because they are converted quicker by the body into the various types of energy that the body seeks.

The next question is: why can’t we simply eliminate sugar from our meals?

Like other stimulants such as alcohol and cigarettes, sugar is a stimulant. If you’ve stopped eating sugar for any length of time, you may notice that your palate changes and you stop craving for sweet food. However, should you give in to sugar again after a period of abstinence, you will find it harder to resist it.

This is why many weight loss diets fail, from giving in to sugary food.

Now, this may seem like a tiny infraction. However, overindulging in foods loaded with sugar can lead to increasing rates of chronic disease. Let’s look at how this happens.

 

THE HEAVY PRICE OF SUGAR

When we eat simple or refined carbohydrates, insulin is produced by our body. Known as the energy storage hormone, insulin’s job is to ensure that our blood sugar levels are balanced so that our energy levels are consistent. It does so by signalling to the body to store energy as either triglycerides (from carbohydrates) or glycogen (from fat).

Our body needs triglycerides, glycogen, as well as amino acids to function well. Too much of one type of energy tips the balance in the body, and can result in negative consequences for our health and weight.

When there is too much sugar in our body, insulin tells the body to predominantly burn sugar (a form of carbohydrate) instead of fat for energy. Since our body is built to deal with sugary foods on occasion rather than as a regular occurrence, the body can develop insulin resistance when it is constantly bombarded with foods high in sugar.

Increased sugar intake means the pancreas has to pump more insulin to regulate the excess glucose. However, the body can only sustain a certain number of insulin receptors for each cell, and hence the amount of glucose taken in by the insulin receptors. So the higher workload literally lead to less sensitivity and glucose uptake by the insulin receptors, which leads to insulin resistance over time.

When this happens, the body is unable to extract glucose from the blood for energy. When the body’s muscles have no energy to function, the brain shuts down the body’s desire to be active so that it can conserve energy. As you can tell, this is counterproductive to any weight loss program.

Additionally, when there is too much glucose in the blood on a daily basis, the liver becomes the only organ that can get rid of the excess sugar, as it doesn’t require insulin to do so. This isn’t ideal as it stresses the liver and affects weight loss goals.

Glucose or sugar is converted into triglycerides in the liver. They are then stored in adipose tissues, which is a collection of fat cells and most commonly seen as unwanted weight in hard-to-shift places such as the waistline, thighs, butt. These fat cells are left in storage and are harmless, until they are needed as a fuel source. However, this is not a source that will be accessed, if the body is flooded with sugar or processed, refined carbohydrates on a daily basis.

Adding on to that, higher glucose levels leads to more fat cells created, and more fat cells deposited in the body. Do you see the ongoing cycle?

 

MAKE YOUR DIET WORK WITH FOOD

The good news is that this cycle can be broken, and with food, no less. The idea is to shift your food choices from process, refined carbohydrates and sugary foods to fresh, unprocessed food choices. This will give the body a larger variety of energy sources to meet its energy needs, and reduce the desire for sugary foods.

A good way to begin is by incorporating the Nuzest range of Clean Lean Protein 100% natural vegetable protein that is low in carbohydrates and fat. So the body gets energy from essential amino acids.

Once you give your body more sources of energy, which are also natural, your body will gradually reduce its dependence on sugar for energy, which will allow it to return to balance once more.

How to Use Nutrition to Reduce the risk of Heart Attacks

Posted on |

Of the various known heart failures, coronary heart disease (CHD)—more commonly known as a heart attack—is the most common in industrialised countries, including Singapore.

According to the Ministry of Health, CHD (also known as Ischemic Heart Disease) is the third principal cause of death in Singapore for the years 2015-2017 [source: https://www.moh.gov.sg/resources-statistics/singapore-health-facts/principal-causes-of-death], while the Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME) lists it as the top cause of death and premature death in Singapore for 2017 [source: http://www.healthdata.org/singapore].

Although CHD is a life threatening condition, it can be prevented and managed by understanding the symptoms and causes of a heart attack, and taking steps to prevent its development.

 

What is Coronary Heart Disease

CHD occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrow or blocked. This reduces the amount of oxygen supplied to the heart muscle, and it subsequently suffers damage. If the damage severely affects the heart’s ability to pump blood, a ‘heart attack’ or heart failure occurs.

The narrowing or blockage of coronary arteries is typically caused by atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty lipids or low density lipoproteins (LDL) in the coronary arteries.

Other factors that contribute to atherosclerosis include:

  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heavy smoking
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excessive mental stress
  • Sleep apnea
  • Family history
  • Old age: males over the age of 45, females over the age of 55 are at higher risk

 

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Most people fail to recognise a heart attack as the symptoms are varied.

The main symptom of CHD is an angina, which is a squeezing tightness in the chest, signalling that the heart is not receiving sufficient blood and oxygen. Sometimes there may be pain, which may spread to the abdomen, the upper left part of the body, neck, and jaw instead of being concentrated in the chest.

However, there are incidences when an angina is “silent”, where there is no physical discomfort or pain felt by the person. It is in such cases where a heart attack gets its name as “the silent killer”. An angina can also be stable or unstable.

A stable angina presents itself as a regular or predictable pattern, such as pain or discomfort when walking up a flight of stairs or during activities that increase the heart rate.

An unstable angina occurs without warning. It presents itself as a sudden sharp pain without any prior symptoms or CHD, and can occur even with no physical exertion. Thus, the unstable angina is a more serious condition than the stable angina.

Although the risk factors for CHD are many, they can be managed with lifestyle choices that include sensible nutrition and regular exercise.

 

Nutrition for Heart Health

IHME states that the top contributing risk factor driving death and disability combined, including CHD, is dietary risks. What we eat—and don’t eat—greatly affects our health and mortality.

Saturated fats and trans fats are the biggest contributing factor to blood cholesterol levels—high LDL levels in the blood and trans fat have both been linked to increased heart disease. It is recommended to lower the intake of saturated fat as well as avoid trans fat to lower the risk of CHD. This can be achieved by switching to foods with mono and polyunsaturated fats, which has generally been shown to lower LDL levels in the blood. Simple changes such as opting for vegetable oils, as well as reducing the consumption of high-fat meat products, cheeses, whole-milk products, and processed and/or packaged foods.

Some people believe that overconsumption of sodium may increase blood pressure, and in turn increase the risk of heart disease. Many packaged foods contain high levels of sodium, so be sure to check food labels. Aim to consume no more than 1,500mg of sodium per day by opting reducing packaged foods, choosing low-sodium alternatives, or replacing sodium with herb spice blends.

Potassium can be useful in counterbalancing the effects of sodium—it helps lower blood pressure, which is healthy for the heart. It is naturally abundant in vegetables and fruit, including bananas, avocadoes, and kiwis. Blend them into a breakfast smoothie bowl or smoothie drink, together with Nuzest Clean Lean Protein or Just Fruit & Veg for an added boost.

Soluble fibre helps inhibit cholesterol absorption in the small intestine, thus reducing LDL blood cholesterol levels. Oats, barley, legumes and fruit are rich in soluble fibres. A good source of soluble fibre is psyllium husk, which is good dietary supplement for those who are unable to get sufficient fibre from their daily meals.

Plant sterols have also been shown to lower LDL blood cholesterol levels by inhibiting cholesterol absorption. They can be obtained in plant based dietary supplements, including Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff powder and bar and Clean Lean Protein bar.

Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as EPA and DNA, are healthy fats that lower blood triglyceride levels. They may be beneficial for those with CHD.

Moderate alcohol intake and avoid binge drinking, as alcohol can raise blood pressure and contribute to empty calories, which may lead to weight gain. Males are advised to consume less than seven drinks a week, and females no more than four drinks a week

 

Exercising for Heart Health

Give your heart a lift, literally, with exercises. Movement increases the amount of oxygen supplied to the blood, which reduces the workload on your heart muscle. Exercise also lowers blood triglycerides as your body needs to convert fat into energy. This helps with weight loss, improves insulin sensitivity, and lowers blood pressure.

It is recommended to engage in at least 30-minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Begin with a brisk stroll, gentle yoga, or simply taking the staircase instead of the lift up to your apartment.


Make Heart Healthy Choices

Although CHD is life threatening and develops due to various genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, it can be managed effectively with consistent physical activity and nutritious eating habits.

Begin by including more fresh, whole, and plant-based foods in your daily meals, gradually reducing the amount of processed and packaged foods. Including plant based supplements, such as Nuzest products, can provide an added boost for your heart health.

HOW A HEALTHY DIET CAN HELP YOU AVOID TYPE 2 DIABETES

Posted on |

According to SingHealth, diabetes affects 9% of the population in Singapore, with Type 2 diabetes more common amongst Singaporeans. While full remission of Type 2 diabetes may not be achieved, it is possible to reverse it with nutrition.

What is Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes usually presents itself in one of two ways:

  • the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin for the cells of the body to metabolise sugar; or
  • the body has become resistant to insulin, and thus is not absorbing enough insulin to metabolise sugar.

In either scenario, there is insufficient insulin for the body to keep blood glucose levels normal. Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age. So it can affect anyone, ranging from children to senior adults.

Some common risk factors of diabetes include:

  • Higher than normal blood glucose levels, which is a condition known as prediabetes;
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol;
  • Excess weight, especially around the abdomen, since fatty tissues increase the body’s resistance to insulin;
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Increased age.

Diabetes symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst and frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent skin infections and/or wounds that take a long time to heal
  • A feeling of tiredness over prolonged periods of time

However, as Type 2 Diabetes develops slowly, and with some people displaying none of the known diabetes symptoms, many people may be unaware that they have the condition until their health is seriously affected.

One of these conditions is known as hyperglycemia, where the blood sugar levels are higher than normal. If left unmanaged, hyperglycemia can cause to complications that affect the kidney, eyes, nerves, and heart.

Can I Stop the Progress of Type 2 Diabetes?

While it is not easy, many people have been able to slow down the progress of diabetes, and even reverse it. It involves intensive lifestyle management that often involves weight loss and improved nutrition.

A 2014 study into the frequency of remission of Type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention compared to diabetes support and education alone concluded that, in overweight adults, intensive interventions with weight loss were more likely to result in partial or complete remission.

A 2016 study examining the effects of a very low-calorie diet on patients with Type 2 diabetes found that a sustainable weight loss program was effective in lowering fasting plasma glucose, and potentially reversing Type 2 diabetes.

Lastly, a 2014 study by the Second University of Naples showed a low-carb Mediterranean-style diet helped 15% of participants achieve remission within one year. Other diets, including low-fat diets were also tested, but with less robust results.

It seems that carbohydrate and caloric intake is most associated with reversing diabetes.

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes with Nutrition

Insulin injections and other medication are commonly used to manage Type 2 diabetes and hyperglycemia. However, a more sustainable and lasting approach would be using nutrition—together with physical activity—to reverse the condition, especially for those who wish to wean off their dependence on diabetes or hyperglycemia medication.

The way to do so is to break the cycle of strain on the cells that produce insulin, which can be assisted through a healthful diet and physical activity. Start with eating a varied diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, and lean protein, and reduce the consumption of processed food.