Category Archives for "Healthy Living"

December 18, 2018

Benefits of Fasting

what are the health benefits of fasting?

Fasting, which is a diet whereby you abstain from eating and drinking for a period of time, has become quite a diet fad lately, although it has been in practice for many centuries. I talk about the different types of fasting in another post here, each of them involving different lengths of hunger and eating. All of these can be helpful for losing weight, but did you know that they can also provide many other health benefits?

Take a look below on the different ways it has an impact on your health. If these sound enticing to you, perhaps it is time that you adopt a style of intermittent fasting into your lifestyle.

How Fasting Benefits the Body

The most common form of intermittent fasting is called 5:2. This is where you go hungry for two days out of the week, consuming only around 500-600 calories, and then eat freely the other five days of the week. The philosophy behind it is to shock your metabolism. When you eat at the same time every day, eat roughly the same amount of calories, and a lot of the same foods, your body adapts. Your metabolism slows down as it becomes accustomed to this eating schedule.

The Skinny Gene

By throwing a curveball in your eating habits, your metabolism will stay at peak performance at all times. It can’t relax into a set eating schedule day after day. One reason for this is because intermittent fasting activates the SIRT1 gene. This is also known as the “skinny gene.” This gene facilitates the maintenance and repair of cells that help our bodies survive during periods of hunger. It also reduces fat storage and is said to have anti-aging benefits as well.

Elimination of Waste

Another way that fasting benefits the body is because it does not recognize that it is being fed. This makes the body go into fasting mode. During this biological phase, the body gets rid of damaged cells and replaces them with newly generated cells. It also burns away extra fat for energy since there are not enough calories coming in as a fuel source.

is fasting healthy?

Immune System Support

When you fast, it causes a reduction in immune cells, at least temporarily. It also causes a decrease in white blood cells. However, as found in studies conducted on lab mice, when you resume eating again, your body goes into overdrive in reproducing immune cells and white blood cells, making your immune system even stronger than it was prior to the fasting.

Other Benefits

On top of all the benefits listed above, studies have indicated that fasting can also:

  • Reduce the level of IGF-1, a hormone that has been linked to premature aging and increased risk of cancer
  • Resets blood sugar levels
  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Minimizes inflammation that leads to achy muscles and joints
  • Combats troublesome fatty areas, such as the belly, hips, and thighs

Which of the other fad diets can provide this many benefits? If you are able to stay disciplined to an eating schedule like this, there is no doubt that it can do wonders for weight loss as well as raise your health overall.

December 18, 2018

How to Stick to Your Diet During the Holidays

diet tips for the holidays

What a wonderful time of year it is! I love the holidays. Between seeing family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, the festive and warm nature that infects everybody, it just puts me in a great mood.

Oh, and of course – there’s the food! There is nothing like all the snacks and drinks that make this season festive, not to mention the huge meals at family gatherings. However, as fun as this time of year is, it makes it tough to stick to your diet during the holidays.

If you have trouble staying disciplined to your diet at this time of year, perhaps these tips will help.

Tips for Holiday Dieting

I’m not saying you need to avoid indulging yourself altogether during the holidays, but be smart about it. Here is some advice that can keep you on track.

Be Accountable

Know what kinds of things are your weakness so you can better plan on how to go about it in a healthy way. For instance, if chips or crackers are a favorite snack of yours, try to find a healthier version of them. Also, avoid overeating them when you do indulge.

Be Picky

Just because there is a huge spread of food in front of you, that doesn’t mean that you have to eat a little bit of everything. Be picky with your food choices and stick with healthier offerings.

Bring Your Own Healthy Option

If you’re going a gathering where you need to bring something to share, don’t contribute to even more unhealthy foods.

Bring along something that is tasty and healthy, for the benefit of you and everybody else!

tips for dieting during the holiday season

Eat Slower

When you scarf down food as fast as you can, it takes a while for your stomach to communicate to your brain that you are full. When you eat at a slower pace, you will feel full much more quickly and are less likely to overeat.

Have a Meal Plan

The best way to stay with a diet is to plan your meals ahead of time. That way there are no surprises and you can stay disciplined.

Indulge (Somewhat)

Having some snacks or a cheat meal is OK, as I write about in this post. Just don’t make it a habit. Have a cheat meal or two every week, or allow a small amount of snacking on your favorite indulgence each day.

Portion Control

Just like you don’t have to eat everything that is presented in front of you, you also don’t have to take a heaping serving of everything. Take what you need at first. If you are still hungry, have a little more. If you take a large serving, you are more than likely to continue eating until you finish what you took.

Wrapping Up

The biggest takeaway is just to make smart choices. You know all of the big meals and the tasty treats this year are going to pack on the pounds if you don’t watch yourself. Remember the reasons for your diet, the goals you’d like to reach, and be smart to keep yourself on track!

December 17, 2018

How to Lose Weight Without Exercising

When it comes to losing weight, you know that you have to eat right and get a steady amount of physical activity to burn some calories. But what if I told you there are some hacks that can help you shed some pounds without exercising?

Now, I’m not going to preach that you should religiously abide by this and never exercise at all – the benefits of exercise go far beyond just weight loss – but you can add some of these tips below if you want a little help along the way on your weight loss journey!

Tips for Weight Loss Without Exercising

These tips are taken from an article I recently read in Reader’s Digest and have to do with your mindset, as well as some diet choices to make. How many of these weight loss hacks can you implement into your life?

Let the Garbage Pile Up

Pretty much anything that you eat will leave some kind of a mess. Whether it be the wrapper to a packaged food, a peel from fruit, an empty bottle, or a fast food bag, resist the urge to tidy up and toss them in the trash. Instead, create a pile of these items as a reminder of how much you’ve eaten and what you’ve eaten. I’m not saying let this sit for days and start a colony of flies, rather just do it for the day and notice how much you’ve been eating.

Have a Positive Mindset

Instead of telling yourself that you have to eat healthier, change to saying I want to eat healthier. Remember what your goals are, why you are working towards them, and envision what the end result looks like. Having constant reminders and a motivational mindset can help you stick with your diet plan with more discipline.

Keep the Lights On

Many restaurants, especially if it is for a romantic setting, dim their lights.

A recent study found that diners in well-lit rooms were actually 15-25% more likely to make healthier food choices. The same goes for eating at home. 

keep the lights on and make healthier food choices

You can better control the serving size and stick to your portion control and are less prone to overeat just because there is still food on the plate.

Avoid Diet Drinks

Just because something says “diet” on the label, that doesn’t mean it is actually going to help you lose weight. I talk about it in another post, but all of the artificial sweeteners in drinks like diet soda can interfere with hormones and enzymes in your body and actually lead to weight gain. Not to mention all the sugars and other unnatural additives to create the flavor in these kinds of drinks. Skip them altogether.

Breathe in Some Vanilla

This is an odd one, but according to a study, participants who wore a patch on their wrist scented with vanilla actually reported fewer cravings. ravings in general, especially for sweets and desserts. I’m not sure where to buy a vanilla-scented wrist patch, but perhaps try out some vanilla candles or incense and see if your appetite is curbed. In addition, for an added boost, most diet pills (like those reviewed here) contain appetite suppressants to also control your cravings.

December 17, 2018

Cheat on Your Diet and Not Ruin It

how to cheat on your diet without ruining it

Everybody knows that if you want to lose weight, you need to watch what you eat. However, it can be tough to stay disciplined and make healthy food choices. Some diet plans are extremely rigid and don’t allow for much that is appetizing, making it even tougher to stick with it.

But, it is OK to cheat every once in a while. Just don’t make it a habit! If you’ve been looking for a little bit of an escape from your diet plan, here are a few ways that you can cheat on your diet without ruining it.

Why Cheat Meals Are OK

I came across this article on and it came up with some good pointers on how you can “cheat” on your diet, but still not ruin your diet goals. The first thing that really popped out at me is to stop referring to it as “cheating.” Cheating implies that it is a bad food, as opposed to all the other, accepted items in your diet as good foods. I think it is pretty poignant to think of it this way. “Treating” just sounds so much better, and it can act as an indulgent reward for staying disciplined otherwise.

There are a lot of positives to having these indulgences in your diet. For one, it gives you something to look forward to. As long as you aren’t indulging in these less-than-healthy foods all the time, they can be a great treat to work towards.

Make a schedule on when you can eat these foods, like having a scheduled “cheat meal” each week. They are a great way to have a break from your meal plan that can become pretty monotonous otherwise.

have a cheat meal once a week without ruining your diet

It is a bonus to having these foods on a regular basis. Otherwise, if you forego these foods altogether, the next time you cheat you are much more likely to overindulge and binge on these treats. When it is restricted to one scheduled time per week, you are less likely to overdo it, and it is much easier to get back into your diet and stay in good health.

You can also work small treats into your everyday schedule, instead of having one total cheat meal once per week. You could treat yourself to one piece of chocolate after dinner, a small scoop of ice cream before bedtime, a small cookie with lunch, etc. For some, having one small snack on a more regular basis can be more pleasing that abstaining from unhealthy food altogether for a week.

Key Takeaway

It is very tough to stay on schedule with a calorie-restricted diet. It takes a lot of commitment and self-discipline to stick with the plan. Likewise, it takes discipline to also not let cheat meals or snacks turn into something more. Have a plan on how much you can indulge and stick with it! Remember what you are working towards, why it is important to you, and what it would feel like to go back on your plan. Consider keeping a food diary, or taking “before” pictures as a constant reminder and motivation. You can do it!

December 14, 2018

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

health benefits of eating plant-based foods

This runs a little conversely to another post that I wrote earlier today about malnutrition in a vegan diet, however, there are a number of benefits to going with a diet that revolves around plant-based foods.

So, take whichever side you want, as after this post I will have presented both sides. If you ask me, there is nothing wrong with going vegan and eating all plant-based. However, if you go that route, make sure you are taking proper supplementation (my favorite retailer for supplements is to ensure you are getting the recommended daily amount of certain essential vitamins and minerals that are lacking in these foods.

Health Benefits of Eating Plant-Based Foods

Aside from being better for the environment, not to mention avoiding animal cruelty that takes place on some farms that breed the various meats that we eat, there are a number of health benefits that make this diet a good option.

Less Obesity

A plant-based diet can be highly effective for weight loss. Because of the nutritional value of the foods in this diet, being lower in calories and higher in nutrients, exercise is not dependent on losing weight when you eat this way. On average, individuals lose around a pound of weight per week when going plant-based.

Also, with lower fat content in these foods, less of the food that you eat is being stored as fat. This often gets built up in troublesome areas like the waist, hips, and thighs.

Diabetes Management

It has been found that vegetarians and vegans have half the risk of developing diabetes than meat-eaters. This is because most plant-based foods contain nutrients that help regulate blood sugar, as well as improve insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Similar to a post I wrote about eating red meat and the risk of heart disease, it makes sense that going all-plant in your diet can lower your risk of cardiovascular issues and heart disease. These kinds of foods are also beneficial for cholesterol levels, lowering the amount of LDL (the bad cholesterol) and raising the level of HDL (the good cholesterol).

what are the health benefits of eating an all-plant diet?

Combat Hypertension

It was found that those who follow an all-plant diet have lower systolic blood pressure than those who are non-vegetarian. Part of this is because of the nutrients and antioxidants in the foods of this diet. Another part is because of its benefits towards weight management. When you are overweight, it puts undue stress on your heart to pump blood to a greater mass. This leads to higher blood pressure.

Longer Life

With a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and other health issues, it makes sense that going to a plant-based diet can add some longevity to your life expectancy. One study found that vegetarians had a 30 percent lower heart disease mortality rate than nonvegetarians.

Should You Go Plant-Based?

There is no doubt that going with an all-plant diet like vegan has a huge impact on our ecosystem as well as your health. If you can give up meat forever, there are tremendous benefits in store. Just remember to supplement to get the nutrients you need!

December 14, 2018

Body Clock Affect on Health

how our body clock affects our health

Our lives are pulling us in so many directions that it is sometimes hard to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. There are nights when we need to stay up later to get some work done. Or we could go out with our friends and stay out a little late. Other times we have an early flight to catch. Perhaps the flight is intercontinental, which puts you in an entirely different time zone and daylight hours to adjust to.

No matter what the reason is, different demands in our life schedule make it hard to keep a steady body clock where we go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. However, this fluidity in our schedules and the disruption of our body clock can have negative consequences on our health.

How Health is Affected by Sleep Schedule

Whenever we mess with our circadian rhythms, a timetable in which our body clocks regulate most of the processes that take place inside our bodies, we are messing with our health. So many different functions and processes are affected by our body clock. Our metabolism, one of the most crucial functions of the body that affects so many other processes, is particularly affected.

When we stay up too late or get up too early, and not get enough sleep and disrupt our rhythm, it causes a disorientation in our body clocks and keeps our bodies from functioning properly.

One new study from USC in Los Angeles has found a link between a disruption of circadian rhythm and the increased chance of developing certain diseases. Besides that, not getting enough sleep can also lead to weight gain, as I write about here.

When our lifestyles and our internal biological clocks are at odds with each other, there is an increased risk of developing cancer and obesity, among other diseases. This is because our metabolic processes are disrupted, which leaves our vital organs more vulnerable and susceptible to disease.

the affect on our health by disrupting our sleep schedule

What Can You Do?

Just one day off from your normal sleep schedule can throw your body clock into an imbalance. I’m not saying that you can’t go out at night to enjoy some time with your friends, or that you can’t stay late to finish work you need to get done by a certain deadline, but just be mindful of the consequences of an uneven sleep schedule.

Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning. Even when it is a weekend, resist the urge to stay in bed for too long. If you need help falling asleep easier at night, I have put together a post here that has some helpful tips to ensure you get better rest. Better sleep equals better health!