fitness

5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Seeing Results from Working Out

Working out is a great way to improve your overall health and create a healthy lifestyle. Research suggests that exercising has many mood related benefits such as reducing anxiety, depression and improving self-esteem. Aside from all of the amazing mental benefits, some people may wonder why they aren’t seeing physical results right away. So today, I wanted to write a quick blog on 5 key reasons why you may not be achieving your fitness results just yet!

1. Too many animal products in diet, not enough fiber

Okay so one of the most important things when wanting to achieve physical fitness results is making sure that you are consuming the right foods! The first thing that I recommend to new clients is to try to reduce their intake of animal products, and to up the intake of whole plant-based foods. The great thing about plant based foods is that they are low in calories, but high in fiber and volume which will keep you feeling full for longer. Animal products are often high in calories and contain unnecessary additives such as sulfates and sodium nitrate. Additionally, animal products contain cholesterol which can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

Research supports that the plant-based diet reduces oxidative stress, inflammation and the risk of developing certain conditions later in life. To look healthy, you have to actually be healthy on the inside too! And one of the best ways to start is to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet! Try doing Meatless Mondays or just simply being more conscious of the foods that you put into your body.

2. Need to Switch-Up Exercises

Many people stick to doing the same exercises if they’re trying to target a certain muscle group, however the best way to build strength and achieve noticeable results is to try different exercises! Our bodies are great at adapting, so if you’re doing sit-ups every night, your body will eventually get used to the motion and they won’t be much of a challenge anymore.

Changing up your routine will allow your body to build new muscles, prevent overuse injuries and increase the intensity of your workout. If you’re looking for easy at home exercises, check out my brand new Youtube Video for some inspiration! I love doing these exercises because they’re simple, quick and don’t require much space or equipment!

3. Not Being Consistent

Consistency really is key! Taking a day or two off is fine if you’re just not in the mood to be active, however it’s so important to stay true to your goals and remember why you started! Being consistent with your diet, lifestyle and long-term goals is what will get you a step closer to achieving physical results.

If you have trouble staying consistent, try creating a schedule for the week or buying an agenda. Creating lists and goals are a great way to stay motivated and stay on top of things.

4. Not Setting Goals & Lack of Organization

Setting goals is important because it allows you to actively track your progress while seeing what you may need to work on. If you get into a new workout routine without documenting your weight or measurements beforehand, it may be hard to notice any difference.

The best way to start achieving (and noticing) your results is to set very specific goals. If you want to lose weight, document how many pounds that you want to lose, if you want to build muscle, specify which muscle group and create a plan of action. Always be organized and honest with yourself so that you know exactly what you want and how you can accomplish it!

5. Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

And lastly- unhealthy lifestyle habits! Living a healthy lifestyle means eating at regular times, not eating late, not drinking alcohol excessively, getting adequate sleep etc. Yes, working out and generally eating healthy is amazing and a step in the right direction, but it’s so important to follow healthy habits as well for your general well being!

This means making sure you meet all of your nutritional requirements, getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night and avoiding things that cause you to feel stressed. The reality is that these things can be triggers for you to overeat and therefore throw off your results. For example, if you didn’t get enough sleep, you may eat something sugary the next day to keep you awake. Or if you are going through an emotionally stressful time in your life, you may over indulge in sweets.

Setting boundaries, being organized and staying consistent are all great ways to start developing a healthier way of living!

Takeaway

Thank you so much for reading my blog! Be sure to follow me on my other social networks for more health & fitness content ✨

Sources

American College of Cardiology President: Why Cholesterol Still Matters. (2019, January 13). Retrieved from https://www.forksoverknives.com/wellness/why-cholesterol-still-matters/

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 08(02), 106. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a

Sodium Nitrite: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/cdi/sodium-nitrite.html

What You Need to Know About Sulphites. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Food-technology/What-you-need-to-know-about-sulphites.aspx

fitness, nutrition

Carbohydrates: Everything you need to know

Carbohydrates also known as sugars are very important macronutrients. However, they are usually given a bad reputation because of their association with weight gain and diabetes. But the reality is that not all carbohydrates are bad for you, many of them are actually very important for your health because they fuel your brain and body with vital energy!

Knowing how to choose the proper carbohydrates for your diet is so important. Not all carbohydrates are made out of the same components, so not all of them will have the same effect on your body. Choosing the proper foods that provide your body with the right carbohydrates will benefit you in so many ways!

So, without further ado let’s dig into the benefits, the properties, the different types of carbs and how to differentiate the good from the bad!

What exactly are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates or Carbs are small molecules that are mainly made out of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms. Fiber, starch and sugar are all classified as carbs. They are broken down by our digestive system into smaller molecules such as glucose in order to provide us with the fuel that we need for our daily routines.

All sugars are considered carbohydrates, but the term “sugar” is only commonly used to describe small carbohydrates that have one or two sugar units. Carbohydrates are commonly broken down into three different categories depending on the number of sugar units:

  • The simple carbohydrates like glucose and fructose only consist of one sugar unit, and are commonly known as monosaccharides. 
  • A carbohydrate like sucrose, or lactose contains two sugar units and is classified as a disaccharide.
  • Other more complex carbohydrates like starch and glycogen are part of the polysaccharide and oligosaccharide groups.

Why do we need carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are important because they help fuel our body and organ systems with energy. When you eat a meal that contains carbohydrates, your body will use chemicals to break down the carbs into smaller pieces. From there, the sugars that your body has broken down will enter your bloodstream. As soon as the sugars enter the blood, your pancreas will release a hormone call insulin. Insulin is responsible for transporting sugars from your blood into your cells, where simple carbohydrates can be used as a great source of energy for your body and brain. Our central nervous system, cardiac muscles and kidneys all need carbohydrates to properly function!

This process is usually straight forward, however, unhealthy carbs can affect the rate that this process occurs. 

Simple sugars vs processed sugars

Diets high in simple sugars and processed sugars are strongly linked with coronary heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver. Simple carbohydrates unlike complex carbs are absorbed very fast, causing a quick and immediate burst of energy that we all are too familiar with! That’s because the rush that you feel after you eat something very sweet is caused by the high amount of added simple sugars, which are in the form of refined sugars and processed syrups. Refined sugars provide no nutritional value, they lack vitamins, minerals and fiber. These sneaky sugars are one of the reasons why carbohydrates are shunned and considered bad!

However, not all simple sugars are refined sugars, so not all sugars should be thought as bad.  

So, as I previously mentioned, simple sugars in the form of refined sugars are terrible because they are only added calories and should be a huge no no in your diet.

But not all simple sugars are actually bad for your health. Many simple sugars are very nutritious and are found in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. These types of sugars are considered as naturally occurring carbohydrates, which are completely different than the bad ones! Unlike the processed simple sugars, natural carbs are full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are great fuel for your brain and digestive system!

 Well, the same goes for complex carbohydrates!

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates unlike simple carbohydrates are absorbed by your digestive system slowly, and provide a lower but steadier release of energy. However, complex carbohydrates can also be divided into two groups, refined and unrefined.

The complex carbohydrates that are considered refined, have no nutritional value. They have been stripped from all of their nutrients, similarly to the refined sugars that I previously mentioned. Refined carbohydrates such as white flour, pasta, pizza dough, and many processed breakfast cereals can have unhealthy effects on your blood sugar levels. This is because when you eat high amounts of complex carbs, your body quickly absorbs the sugars and releases insulin. Insulin is used to remove the excess amount of sugars from your blood, however the quick release of insulin can have negative effects like increased appetite, causing you to crave more food and ultimately making you gain weight. Research has also shown that refined grains can drastically affect your mood and energy levels. And if that is not enough, they also contribute to the build-up of fat, diabetes and heart disease.

Thus, understanding which complex carbohydrates are the best for you and your body is crucial for a healthy diet.

Carbs that are actually good for you

Don’t let all of the bad stuff that I mentioned about refined simple sugars and refined complex carbohydrates make you feel like you need to avoid carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are necessary for our health and the key is to avoid refined carbs.

Healthy complex carbohydrates are not rare, they are easy to find, so let me help you! 🙂

Here are some healthy sources of carbohydrates that have amazing nutrient profiles:

  • Chickpeas are a great source of protein and complex carbohydrates. One cup of these lil guys will set you up with 10 grams of fiber, which is one third of the recommended daily fiber intake. Chickpeas also provide your body with a healthy source of calcium and phosphate, two elements crucial for bone development. Click here to check out my chickpea tuna recipe which is a great source of healthy carbs!
  • Old-fashioned oats are also a great way to increase your daily source of healthy natural complex carbohydrates. Half a cup of oats will provide you with 27 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of proteins and various other minerals and vitamins. 
  • Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite sources of complex carbohydrates because they not only have 26 grams of healthy carbs, they also provide beta carotene which is an amazing antioxidant that takes care of you and your skin!! 
  • Black beans are super healthy for you. They will provide you with an incredible amount of nutrients that will help you feel full for longer compared to other foods. One cup of black beans will set you up with 41 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein, and various other nutrients that are crucial for your health and wellbeing. 
  • Quinoa is a perfect way to enjoy all of the benefits associated with whole grain foods for people who are intolerant to gluten. Yes, you read that right, quinoa is a seed not a grain. So, none of the problems associated with gluten will affect you if you stay on a quinoa vibe 😎
  • Lentils unlike quinoa and whole wheat bread are very cheap. They are a great source of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Lentils are also very low in fat, making them a great choice for a filling and healthy meal! 

Conclusion

I really hope that you learned something new about this very interesting macronutrient! Carbs are not bad for us at all, and it’s crucial to realize that there are good carbs (naturally occurring) and bad carbs (refined, processed).

In any case, read the ingredients of each food you consume and try your best to avoid anything that’s processed. Your mind and body will thank you 🙂

fitness, nutrition

Vitamin B12 Basics & Mass Supplementation in Livestock

We have all heard about Vitamin B12 and have possibly asked someone following a vegan diet where they get their B12 from. However, many people don’t actually know where B12 is made, how we obtain B12, and how much we should consume based on the scientific consensus. Thus, I have decided to write a blog on a few key points on this very important vitamin. 

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 also known as Cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a very important role in many bodily functions. Vitamin B12 is one of eight B vitamins, and is involved in keeping the body’s nerves & red blood cells healthy and even helps in making DNA. This vitamin is only produced by a few organisms such as bacteria and archaea (single celled organisms similar to bacteria).

These organisms were commonly found in grass, soil, and water streams. Usually the B12 producing bacteria are eaten by cows and other animals grazing on the fresh grass. Once eaten, the bacteria resides in the cow’s digestive system (specifically in the gut, or stomach) and produces vitamin B12 as a by-product from its metabolism. This molecule is essential for cows and other grazing animals. However, this beautiful and natural process is not very common anymore. 

Industrialization and factory farming have completely changed this natural process in order to maximize profit, and dominate the food market. So, the tiny little organisms previously mentioned, are not part of this process anymore, the fresh grass and pure water are also not in the picture anymore either.

B12 And Supplementation in Livestock

In order to sustain the dietary need for Vitamin B12, a new process needed to be created called supplementation. The majority of animal products purchased today are now supplemented with B12 in their animal feed, and/or through injectable B12. Crazy right?  

Supplementation is now required because animals used for food do not have access to fresh air, grass or water. Even if livestock is “free-range” or raised outside, there is a lack of Cobalt in the soil which is crucial for the tiny little organisms to survive. Fields that contain less than 2ppm of Cobalt are deemed unfit for grazing and therefore Vitamin B12 is supplemented into animal feed or injected directly.

It is crucial for people to understand that everyone who consumes animal products is indirectly supplementing with B12, without even knowing it!

There is nothing wrong with supplementation of B12. In fact, the Institution of Medicine has recommended anyone who is vegan, vegetarian or over 50 to directly supplement with B vitamins. However, this does not mean that you should recycle all of the stuff added into animal feed in your body to enjoy the benefits of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 derived from animal products also comes with all of the harmful factors found in meat. Therefore, you can limit your intake of animal products containing added B12, and instead you can add fortified foods like soy milk (full of phystoestrogens) or nutritional yeast to your diet which are more pure ways to get your daily dose.

Vitamin B12 is crucial for us, this tiny little molecule helps red blood cell formation, aids in neurological functions, DNA production, and many other physiological processes. Thus, we need B12 to be present in our diets and everyday lives in order to achieve optimal health. 

Nutritional Yeast: A Natural & Healthy Way to obtain B12

Nutritional yeast is a great way to naturally get your daily dose of B12. Nutritional yeast is a kind of yeast that’s grown specifically to be used in food products and has a cheesy, nutty flavour. I personally love it and use it on everything! Not only does it add flavour to foods & sauces, it also has many health benefits:

  • It contains so many B vitamins! One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains 30-80% of the RDI (reference daily intake) for B vitamins.
  • It’s a complete protein. That’s right- just one tablespoon has 2 grams of protein and all nine essential amino acids!
  • It contains lots of trace minerals. Trace minerals are important because they aid in gene regulation, growth, immunity & metabolism. One tablespoon contains 2-30% RDI of trace minerals such as zinc, selenium and manganese.

I usually get nutritional yeast from a bulk food store such as bulk barn because that’s where it’s the cheapest!

Recommended Daily Intake

The National Institute of Health recommends that adults (over 14) should consume about 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12, pregnant woman 2.6 mcg, and breastfeeding woman 2.8 mcg.

However, Dietary B12 supplements usually in the form of Cyanocobalamin are not totally absorbed when consumed, for example only 10-mcg of a 500-mcg oral supplement is actually absorbed by our bodies. So don’t get spooked out by the large dosages advertised on the tablets because Vitamin B12 is water soluble, meaning that any extra B12 in your body will be excreted through urination.  

However, vitamin deficiencies are very common and many of us may be deficient without even knowing it. 

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are commonly associated with anemia, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss. Other side effects of B12 deficiencies may be numbness and tingling in feet, depression, confusion, poor memory, and various others. However, People deficient of B12 can be treated with B12 injections in order to increase the vitamin absorption in the body.

The main reason why people become Vitamin B12 deficient is because of inadequate absorption. Older adults who suffer from digestive conditions such as Atrophic Gastritis typically have difficulty absorbing vitamins & nutrients due to a lack of stomach acid, thus, B12 deficiencies are more common amongst older individuals. People who have been diagnosed with intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s and Celiac disease also have difficulties absorbing vitamin B12 from their diets. That’s why direct supplementation of B12 from fortified foods and B12 oral supplements are the best remedies for a diet with low levels of B12 absorption. 


Sources

Bernhardt, C., Zhu, X., Schütz, D., Fischer, M., & Bisping, B. (2019). Cobalamin is produced by Acetobacter pasteurianus DSM 3509. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology,103(9), 3875-3885. doi:10.1007/s00253-019-09704-3

Rizzo, G., Laganà, A., Rapisarda, A., Ferrera, G. L., Buscema, M., Rossetti, P., . . . Vitale, S. (2016). Vitamin B12 among Vegetarians: Status, Assessment and Supplementation. Nutrients,8(12), 767. doi:10.3390/nu8120767

Herbert, V. (1988). Vitamin B-12: Plant sources, requirements, and assay. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,48(3), 852-858. doi:10.1093/ajcn/48.3.852

Vitamin B-12. (2017, October 17). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-b12/art-20363663

Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1998.

Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#en12

Vitamin B12. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dsm.com/markets/anh/en_US/Compendium/ruminants/vitamin_B12.html

fitness, nutrition

Busting The Soy & Estrogen Myth

So, we have all heard the myth that soy products affect hormone levels in both men and women, causing drastic side effects like spikes in estrogen or causing breast tissue to grow. However, these myths were popularized by certain individuals with their own agenda and thus, I have decided to write a blog on the benefits of phytoestrogens which are the main component in soy products.

Functional Foods

The idea that food contains nutritional properties as well as organic functions is becoming more accepted by the scientific community. Functional foods are foods that make us healthy and are common in diets high in whole plant based foods. Functional foods have the ability to regulate body functions in order to protect against diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease and many others.

Phytoestrogen vs Mammalian Estrogen

Functional foods consist of many different groups, however phytoestrogens are a large component. Phytoestrogens are a very special type of molecule that help our bodies feel good and look great.

Phyto means derived from plants, thus phytoestrogen is estrogen that naturally occurs in plants such as legumes, soy, flaxseed and mulberries. Phytoestrogens are beneficial to our health because when our bodies break down phytoestrogens, the molecules that are formed help regulate biological reactions. Meaning that phytoestrogens can connect to some receptors as mammalian estrogen, however phytoestrogen is like a key that can open a door, but leaves the screen door closed- which blocks out all of the bad things.

In contrast, mammalian estrogen which is naturally produced by us or consumed in dairy products, can fully open the door which leaves us vulnerable to diseases & chronic problems.

Estrogen & Other Hormones in Dairy Products

The interesting thing about estrogen & food intake is the fact that not many people associate dairy with it, even though cows must be genetically altered in order to continuously produce milk. The hard truth is that dairy is a much more significant source of female hormone exposure. Commercial dairy cows contain high amounts of estrogen and progesterone and are impregnated just to sustain the demand for cows milk. Even dairy products that are labelled as organic, or no hormones added contain high amounts of hormones because many of them are naturally produced by cows, even if they have not been given additional hormones.

  • One study concluded that when men and children consume milk, estrogens are absorbed and gonadotropin secretion becomes suppressed, followed by a decrease in testosterone secretion.
  • This study also concluded that milk consumption was responsible for significantly increased levels of estradiol and progesterone in adults and children.

Phytoestrogen Benefits

Phytoestrogens are classified into 7 groups- the main groups are isoflavones, lignons and coumestans:

Isoflavones are mainly found in soy products.

Lignons are commonly found in plants & grains rich in fiber such as wheat, barley, oats, beans, lentils, asparagus, broccoli, carrots.

Coumestands are found in peas, beans and alfalfa shoots.

Phytoestrogens are a crucial component of a healthy diet, research has shown that phytoestrogens are very beneficial in the reduction of menopausal symptoms. The health benefits of Eastern diets is generally associated with the consumption of high quality proteins found in soy. In Eastern countries, soy is part of the traditional diet and contains an average of 15-50/mg a day of isoflavones from soy. Whereas the Western diet only contains an average of 2/mg a day of isoflavones from soy. The lack of soy in the Western diet is preventing many of us from benefiting from all of the great qualities attributed to phytoestrogens.

Research

So since I have introduced the foods that contain phytoestrogens, as well as why phytoestrogens are beneficial when compared to mammalian estrogen, I think now would be a great time to show the research that support these claims!

  • The first area of research that has shown substantial evidence that phytoestrogens are beneficial in the human body is Menopause. Research has shown that supplementation of genistein (one of the 7 groups of phytoestrogens) may promote the reduction of menopausal symptoms. Researchers have also found that eating more soy products can alleviate the severity of hot flashes in women experiencing menopause.
  • Another condition that has had positive effects from soy products is Osteoporosis, which is the reduction of bone density. Research has shown that genistein which has a structure similar to estrogen, can bind to the same receptors as mammalian estrogen. This helps regulate estrogen levels which can cause bone deterioration if imbalanced.
  • Phytoestrogens found in soy products have also been shown to successfully improve blood sugar levels in Diabetic patients.

Conclusion

Non-GMO Soy products are beneficial in our everyday diet and research has demonstrated that phytoestrogens have a positive effect on our health. It’s unfortunate that there’s a very common misconception between phytoestrogen and mammalian estrogen. However, if you are concerned about elevated estrogen or hormonal levels your body, the best thing you can do is ditch dairy products, or limit your consumption.

Sources

Bhathena, S. J., & Velasquez, M. T. (2002). Beneficial role of dietary phyto- estrogens in obesity and diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutri- tion, 76, 1191–1201.

Monteleone, P., Mascagni, G., Giannini, A., Genazzani, A. R., & Simoncini, T. (2018). Symptoms of menopause – global prevalence, physiology and implications. Nature Reviews Endocrinology., 14(4), 199–215.

Ricci, E., Cipriani, S., Chiaffarino, F., Malvezzi, M., & Parazzini, F. (2010). Effects of soy isoflavones and genistein on glucose metabolism in peri- menopausal and postmenopausal non-Asian women: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause, 17(5), 1080–1086.

Petrine, J. C., & Bianco-Borges, B. D. (2020). The influence of phytoestrogens on different physiological and pathological processes: An overview. Phytotherapy Research. doi:10.1002/ptr.6816

Maruyama, K., Oshima, T., & Ohyama, K. (2010, February). Exposure to exogenous estrogen through intake of commercial milk produced from pregnant cows. Retrieved September 16, 2020, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19496976