Going Gluten-Free

photo 2

When people ask me how they can lose weight, I always respond with the same answer. “Stop eating bread for two weeks and you’ll see and feel the difference.”

The problem with bread, or wheat grains for that matter, is the gluten in it. I’m sure you’ve heard all about people going gluten-free and how it’s probably just a fad, but in reality it’s not.

So what is gluten?

Gluten is basically the wheat’s endosperm. Gluten is what gives the elasticity in grain based dough and once baked; it gives bread its chewy texture. Gluten is composed of two types of proteins, gliadin and glutenin.

The reality is that most people don’t have the necessary stomach enzymes to break down gluten, and this even more evident with all of the genetic engineering done to wheat/grains in the last few decades. Even if you don’t feel sick right away after eating gluten-filled foods, you may still be damaging your body.

Gluten has been linked to Celiac disease, brain inflammation, autism, autoimmune thyroid disease and osteoarthritis, depression, headaches/migraines, among many more. Here is a great tool to help you figure out if you may be gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

For me, I know for a fact that I have sensitivity toward gluten. It severely affects my mood (Jekyll and Hyde kind of deal), my digestion immediately goes kaput, my joints ache the next day (especially my hands), and I get puffy all over.

So if you’re up for the challenge, try eliminating gluten from your diet. If you decide to go gluten free, make sure you are feeding your body appropriately. Eat whole foods such as: eggs, meats, veggies, fruits, probiotic rich foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir) nuts and seeds for better body composition. You’ll notice those love-handles and that back-fat disappear all while your mood stabilizes.

But, before you rush out to buy ‘gluten-free’ labeled items at the grocery store, I do feel obligated to warn you about them. If it’s a processed food, even if it’s gluten free, it’s not that good for you. Often processed gluten free treats are filled with sugar and starchy flour substitutes to make up for the lack of gluten that makes it all stick together. Many people are allergic to corn, and guess what; most of the flour substitute in gluten free foods is CORN. So take the time to read food labels carefully.

photo 1

Anxiety

246539_10151303978670802_1625074021_n

Just until recently I have decided to take full on responsibility for my anxiety. Realizing that this behavior was, and has affected my past, I was ready to let go.

Fortunately, my case of anxiety is now very mild. But there has been a time when my anxiety has gotten the best of me. I’ve worried so much that I’ve had sharp pains in my stomach and/or broken out in sweat. Not only that, but my ability to reason has become so fogged, that it’s left me with irrational decisions that I have later regretted. I knew that I didn’t want to live my life that way; worrying all the time and not enjoying the ‘now.’

I have to say that I’m not a self-help book aficionado. But I did know that I need to find that something that would help me feel better, so I did a little research. I started to read a book called Self Coaching, The Powerful Program to Beat Anxiety and Depression by Joseph J. Luciani. In which my ‘anxiety-symptoms’ were described almost verbatim.

Luciani in his book explains how the feeling of lack of control is what usually triggers anxiety. But we all know that, hardly anything in life is controllable. I mean, you can’t control things like the weather, what people think or even the death someone loved.  But what you can control is being confidant enough that you can, and have the ability, to handle life’s stresses. And it all starts with your train of thought.

Anxiety is a habit, and, habits can be broken. You can choose to give in to your negative thoughts or not. For example, a fire cannot keep going unless it’s fueled by oxygen right? Well the same goes for anxiety, you cannot have anxiety unless you fuel it with your negative thoughts. In my case, my thoughts were almost always figments of my imagination. If an issue came up, I’d immediately think the worst possible scenarios. Come to learn that type of thinking is simply a coping mechanism that would help me feel temporarily in control of the unknown or my life uncertainties. Key word here is temporarily.

The problem with all of this worrying is that it gets you nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. The book points out a way to stop these thoughts from festering in your mind. When you start to think about possible scenarios, stop and think, “Is this fact or fiction?” Learning to differentiate the two is essential for your mental health. All that worrying is mentally exhausting, believe me, it really is! This trick has been of great value to me. If I answer myself by saying its fiction, which is almost all the time, then I ask myself to move on; to think of something else. And it works! Of course I’ve ‘fed’ the habit for many years, so I might have to come back repeat myself again, but that doesn’t matter, I just don’t allow these imaginary thoughts to linger in my mind. Aside from learning to differentiate fact from fiction, I realized that I was allowing my mind to bully me in other areas of my life. My workouts were not the exception.

I noticed that I tend to talk myself down from interval training.  For example, three times a week I do HIIT’s (high intensity interval training)/conditioning, in which I do either sprint, cycle, jump rope etc. I know exactly how many sets I want to do beforehand, but I catch myself thinking mid workout that I should quit. “I’ve done enough sets,” is what I’ll tell myself. It’s a constant battle. I’ve applied the “just do it” motto, in which I don’t think, I just act. How do you not think? It’s actually quite easy. It’s by enjoying the ‘now.’

When I now do my intervals, I don’t think about how tired I am and how badly I want to quit. I distract myself with enjoying my surroundings. By acknowledging them, you start living in the now and not in your brain. Just look around look at the trees, the grass, the people or whatever is around you and then act. I’ve had to remind myself to just go and  “just do it.”

You see, your thoughts can make or break you in many areas of your life. Don’t give in to your negative thoughts; instead replace them with affirmative ones and by enjoying your surroundings. Don’t let your negative thoughts run you down with exhaustion. Worrying is like a rocking chair, it may rock back and forth vigorously, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Same goes with your thoughts, if your thoughts are not real, you’re on that rocking chair that gets you nowhere. As we all know, anxiety can be detrimental to your health, so do yourself a favor and live in the now.

photo

Bulletproof Coffee

Lately I’ve heard so much about “Bullet-proof coffee” around the Paleo-world, that I just had to try it for myself.

Here’s the breakdown; bulletproof coffee is black coffee with pasture butter and coconut oil (MCT oil) in it. Yes, you drink straight up liquid fat in your coffee. Now before you start to gag, let me say that’s actually quite delicious and nutritious (if done right).

You see, your body runs on of two sources of energy. These are either Fats (lipids) and/or Carbohydrates (Sugars). And believe it or not, human bodies are most efficient when they run off on fats; we actually NEED fats to be healthy!

Sure eating carbs is just fine if you are an athlete with low body fat, but let’s be honest, most of the population (over 70%) is not. If you happen to be overweight or borderline overweight, carbs are definitely not your friend. Carbohydrates are metabolized in your body as sugar, which don’t get me started; sugars create pure havoc on your body. Period.

But I digress; supplementing your diet with ‘good-fats’ is key for better body composition. Yes, you eat fats to lose fats. But before you grab that Snickers bar, I have to stress the word good fats. By good fats I mean, fats such as: pasture butter, ghee, lard, chicken fat, lamb fat, full fat dairy, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil, grass-fed tallow, avocados, nuts, seeds. Keep in mind that the non-animal fats are to be organic, unrefined and the animal fats are from pasture-raised/grass fed and organic.

But back to the butter. Eating butter from grass-fed cows contains medium chain fatty acids, which surprisingly doesn’t enter the cholesterol cycle. In fact, even though butter is high in saturated fats, they won’t elevate the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

Come to find out that when cows eat grasses that are alive, the vitamins that are eaten in the grasses contain more fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E, K than grain-fed cows. Pasture butter also contains beta carotene, which gives its yellow color naturally (commercial butter makers add colors and dyes to make it yellow…toxic and eww!!) And then comes CLA -this is one is especially important if you want to lose weight. CLA is conjugated linoleic acid which is produced in the gut of the grass fed animal. CLA is an anti-carcinogen, decreases inflammation and greatly reduced stress by lowering cortisol levels in the body which in turn, trims your waistline.

Now on to the coconut oil. The original recipe for the bulletproof coffee calls for MCT oil which is straight up Medium-chain triglyceride oil. It is found naturally in coconut oil and palm oil. MCT is easily digestible since it requires fewer enzymes to break it down and it is quickly metabolized by the liver giving you tons of energy while decreasing fat storage. Unfortunately, I don’t have any at home, or even coconut oil (ran out), so I used coconut butter for my bulletproof coffee mix.  Coconut butter still has the essential fatty acids, enzymes and vitamins than coconut oil or MCT has, just less potent in a way.

Adding butter and coconut/MCT oil to your coffee is not a great leap if you already do a Paleo nut and meat breakfast. The idea of this is to fuel your body with the proper nutrients at the right time. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so giving it the fats it needs only sets you up for a great start to your morning.

Here’s my modified version of the Bullet-Proof Coffee, which is much more conservative than the original version. Blend it all together until frothy and drink up!

1 tablespoon of organic coconut butter

1tablespoon of unsalted pasture butter

12-14 oz black coffee

So here is my report after day 2 of drinking my bulletproof coffee (so far it’s a win in my book):

  • Coffee flavor is enhanced-it’s rich with a slight coconut flavor to it.
  • I feel full for much, much longer. I eat breakfast around 7:45am and I wasn’t hungry until after 1pm.
  • I was kept focused throughout tasks.
  • I wasn’t craving a second cup of coffee at work
  • I felt energized/sharp

My two cents to all of this:

Use common sense on how much fat is appropriate for you. Don’t be afraid of fats but do respect them. Follow a low-carb/high fat protein diet if you want better body composition. Here’s a rule of thumb; never combo fats and carbs by themselves. Only supplement with carbs if you are the long lost child of Lance Armstrong, and finally give the Bulletproof Coffee a try.

photo 1(1)

My Favorite Supplements

Image

Being a natural athlete requires eating the right kinds of foods and supplementing your body correctly. So here are some of the supplements I can’t live without…

Carlson Fish Oil- I take 1 teaspoon every morning with my breakfast. When I’ve had a cheat day, I’ll take an extra teaspoon before bed. Surprisingly, it tastes pretty good-you can even add it to your salads. Orange flavor is my favorite.

Zinc- My favorite has been Poliquin UberZinc and Carlson brand zinc. I take about 15-30mg each morning. Among many other benefits, having an adequate amount of zinc in you will improve your athletic performance, stabilize your mood and get rid of toxic waste from your body.

Fiber-Ah the wonders of fiber! Helps get rid of waste from your body making you feel oh so good!  I alternate every week between brands/types of fiber. Right now I’m taking 3 caps of NOW Foods Psyllium Fiber every morning and evening and  I like to alternate it with Garden of Life, Detoxifiber.

Magnesium-There are a ton of different types and brands out there, but be careful because some will do absolutely nothing beneficial to your body. In fact, some will give you diarrhea. My tried and true has been Source Naturals Ultra-Mag. I take it post-workout and/or before bedtime. Does wonders to relax your body after a workout and get you ready for bed. It also alleviates muscle cramps and muscle spasms and aids muscle contraction.

Vitamin D- I use NOW Foods, Vitamin D3 in 5000IU. Where to start with this one..ok, well you need vitamin d to help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, improve mood, prevent injuries, improve strength, oh and it has been shown that women that have adequate levels of Vitamin D have leaner children! I take 1 gel cap every morning with my breakfast.

Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder- I buy this stuff in bulk from TrueProtein.com. My favorite flavor is plain Cocoa powder with Stevia mixed in. It’s very bland, but then again, I rather have bland than having to drink a mixer cup full of unpronounceable chemicals. I take about 33g of this stuff post-workout only.

L-Glutamine- Here is something you might not know, your muscles are made up mostly of glutamine, an abundant amino-acid produced in your body. Supplementing with glutamine will aid in protein synthesis, help recover from muscle soreness, boost energy and increase levels of Human Growth Hormone. In other words, glutamaine helps increase muscle mass. Here’s more, glutamine helps reduce alcohol and sugar cravings! I’ve never, ever, gone without this stuff. I take about 1 teaspoon with my post-workout shake and when I have sugar cravings, I’ll drink a glass of water with 1 teaspoon of glutamine in it. Optimum Nutrition, unflavored is my favorite.

Glycine- It is too, an amino acid. I like glycine because it helps get rid of waste from working out and it elevates your immune system. It also calms your brain, therefore, helps you get good rest.

Other good stuff that I’ll cycle through:
Vitamin C- I take a tablet post-workout.
Organic Greens Powder-currently on it, I’ll take 1 scoop with my post-workout shake.
BCAAs
Biotin
Vitamin E

Workout hard, supplement right, eat clean and in no time, you’ll be rocking some hard core muscles!

Image

Disclaimer: This is stuff that has worked for me and it might not necessarily work for you. This is certainly not a treatment plan. Do your research, talk to your doctor and be smart about what you put into your body.