Sunday, February 24, 2013

Do carbohydrates really pack on the pounds??

Some carbohydrates are much more likely, but complex carbohydrates help you lose weight and control belly fat.

Eat complex carbs like oatmeal and fruit!
A lot of trendy diets claim that all carbohydrates are bad guys, yet of the three macronutrients that provide calories in our diet (carbs, protein, and fat), carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source. They’re responsible for managing your heart rate, digestion, breathing, exercising, walking, and thinking.

Roughly 70 percent of your daily calories should come from complex carbohydrates. The ones to avoid are called simple carbs.

Both types of carbs break down into the simplest form of carbohydrates, which is just a fancy word for sugar. Both are digested and converted into glucose, which is used by the body for energy: in the blood as glucose, or stored in either the muscles or the liver as glycogen. When consumed in excess, carbohydrates can be converted to fat. Just as an excess of protein or fat if the supply is greater than the demand.

Real food and complex carbohydrates do not come in neon colors...
Simple carbohydrates include table sugar, molasses, honey, alcohol, white bread, white pasta, white rice, fried chips, sugary cereals, fruit juices, candy, and milk. Most simple carbs are nutritionally empty because they have been tinkered with by humans, stripped of their fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They are digested quickly by the body and cause a sharp spike in your blood sugar levels.
In response to this spike, your pancreas pumps out insulin to transport and deliver the energy-bearing glucose to cells throughout your body. This process causes your blood sugar and insulin levels to swing like a pendulum, leaving you feeling fatigued, hungry, and craving still more simple carbohydrates.
 
In contrast, complex carbohydrates are nutritious, and include vegetables, whole grain breads and pastas, beans, peas, brown rice, sweet potatoes, oats, fruits, and whole grain cereals. They are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates cause a balanced and controlled release of sugar into your system. This slow release gives the body more time to use the carbohydrates as fuel; as a result, fewer turn to fat and insulin remains stable.
Lentils and other beans are fabulously complex!
So if you consume, whole, good, natural carbs, you will enjoy more consistent energy throughout the day without gaining extra pounds.

As you can see, the two types of carbs differ immensely from a nutritional standpoint. Simple carbohydrates are calorie laden, providing little nutrition and causing weight gain. Complex carbohydrates are lower in calories and, because they are loaded with fiber, provide bulk that fills you up sooner, alleviates hunger pangs, and keeps you feeling satisfied longer.

So go eat your carbs—as long as they’re complex. Simple.

Questions? E-mail me: morgan@livepoweredbyplants.com

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fight the Flu! Best 5 Foods



How are you supposed to be successfully fighting cold and flu season when the people around you are dropping like flies? Here are a few, 5 to be exact, of my favorite foods to boost your defenses.
The food choices you make each and every day are a large part of warding of the flu or a cold. If you want a flu treatment or prevention plan...eat a well balanced plant based diet. Your immune system is in part built on what you put in your body. 
Try to incorporate the following 5 foods in to your daily and weekly eating plan and you will be healthier than everyone at the office. This is my list of the 5 best foods for the flu, but there are many more that could have been included!
The Quercetin Quota: Apples, Grapes, Blueberries/Blackberries, Broccoli, Cherries, Onions, and Leafy Greens.
Heard of quercetin before? Maybe, maybe not, but either way, I am here to introduce it to you this winter! Quercetin is one of a family of flavonoids that gives produce its’ gorgeous color. Flavonoids are antioxidants which help ward off detrimental free radicals, which can cause a host of diseases. With illness fighting and also anti-inflammatory properties, quercetin is a flu-fighting powerhouse!! Since foods like apples, onions, broccoli, and leafy greens are easily found in the produce section this winter, I suggest you stock up! It could be a matter of sickness or health. 

Feel Good Recipe (below): Roasted Kale and Apple Flatbread

Glamorous Garlic: Garlic contains a compound called allicin which has anti-microbial properties. Talk about majorly backing up your defenses. I add garlic to just about everything...try to do the same! 

Glorious Green Tea: Green tea is full of antioxidants, making it a super immune booster. In fact, “a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that subjects taking a special preparation of green tea as a capsule experienced 23% less bouts of colds and flu overall and 36% fewer sick days. Their immune systems also produced more cells that fought off illness-causing bacteria and viruses.”  Now, I’m not telling you to go out and buy green tea capsules, but start it as a beverage to incorporate on a regular basis. It has a mild flavor and can be a great alternative to coffee.
green cup of hot tea on wood background Stock Photo - 14413580

Awesome Almonds: Almonds are one of my favorite go-to snacks. They are easily portable, mighty tasty, and a little goes a long way to keep you full and satisfied. Did you also know that incorporating almonds in to your daily routine can help fight off the flu?? Interestingly enough, the skin of the almond is the most potent when it comes to fighting illness. According to Scientists from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, UK, and the Policlinico Universitario in Messina, Italy, the skin of the almond helps improve function of our helper T-cells (a type of white blood cells) in identifying viruses and enhancing the body’s ability to prevent the spread and replication of viruses. Choose raw almond varieties to reap the most benefits (as these are the least processed and retain the most nutrients).
Marvelous Mushrooms: What you might not realize about mushrooms is that they are armed and dangerous when it comes to their flu-fighting capabilities. Mushrooms contain TWO immune boosting nutrients; selenium and beta glucan. Selenium is a trace mineral which help your white bloods cells do what they need to do in combat. Beta glucan is an antimicrobial which helps your cells locate and annihilate infections in the body. I love adding raw mushrooms to salads, but they are an excellent addition to just about any dish. Even if you think you don't like them, chop them finely and sneak them in.
I realize there are way more than 5 top flu fighters, but this list should give you a good start. Fighting the cold and flu season is not about a magic potion or buying exotic foods, but rather stocking up on wholesome goodness. 
What are your flu fighter foods? I'd love to hear your thoughts!