Friday, January 31, 2014
Super Bowl Sunday is considered a holiday by many and the way we eat on that day proves it! Besides Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest feast of the year. An estimated 60% of households eat pizza
(great choice since it’s my favorite food!) and other fan favorites like
buffalo wings, chips and guacamole, soda pop and of course beer.
To ask people to give up calorie packed foods on Super Bowl Sunday is just not American. Let’s remember it’s just one day! If you want to just go for it this Super Bowl Sunday, then go for it and simply get back on plan Monday morning. But if you’re looking for some cool ways to still eat your favorite Super Bowl foods AND save at least 1000 calories, here are 5 simple food
adjustments to make as you’re watching the game and munching away:
Pizza – Make it a thin crust event
2 slices of regular crust cheese pizza – 570 Calories
2 slices of thin crust cheese pizza – 418 calories
CALORIES SAVED - 152
Buffalo Wings – Keep it skinless with your wings
6 small chicken wings with skin - 486 Calories
6 small chicken wings without skin - 204 Calories
CALORIES SAVED – 282
BONUS SAVE – Use barbecue sauce instead of ranch dressing
with your wings
Ranch dressing (about 2 tbsp) – 145 Calories
Barbecue sauce (about 2 tbsp) – 58 Calories
CALORIES SAVED - 87
Guacamole - Go red instead of green
1 Cup of guacamole dip – 364 calories
1 Cup of salsa dip - 67 Calories
CALORIES SAVED – 297
BONUS SAVE - Use baked, reduced fat chips instead of
regular potato chips
Regular potato chips, 2 cups – 274 calories
Baked Chips, reduced fat , 2 cups - 188 calories
CALORIES SAVED – 86
Beer – Drink less calories & STILL get the Buzz!
2 Regular Beers (12 oz) – 306 Calories
2 Becks Premier Light (12 oz) – 128 calories (best calorie & alcohol impact)
CALORIES SAVED – 178
Soda – Take sugar out of the equation
2 Cans of regular soda pop – 280 Calories
2 Cans of diet soda - 8 Calories
CALORIES SAVED – 272
BETTER CHOICE – Diet ice tea or Zero Calorie Vitamin Water. You save the calories and drink healthier beverages with flavor and taste!
With these 5 simple adjustments you save a whopping 1181 Calories! And if you want to go the extra mile and use barbecue sauce with your wings and baked chips with your dip, you’ll save a grand
total of 1354 calories on Super Bowl Sunday, and still be eating the foods you love. Rockin’ your health is always about making the minor adjustments so you can win in every scenario. Now you have a realistic and winning food
strategy for the Super Bowl!
Mark Macdonald, CEO and Creator of the Venice Nutrition Program and Author of NY Times Bestselling Book, Body Confidence
Thursday, January 23, 2014
We have all heard, "You are what you eat". What we should be saying is, “You are what you metabolize”.
The reality is, even if your nutrition and exercise are on point, your sleep is the secret key that unlocks the power of your metabolism and helps turn your body into a fat burning machine! To help you master your sleep and maximize weight loss, it’s important to dive into:
- Your sleep cycles
- The 3 hormones that trigger weight gain when you're sleep deprived
- The 5 strategies you need to master your sleep
First up... The power of 90 minutes
Just like how your cell phone has a battery that needs to be recharged, your body and mind also need to be consistently recharged. Instead of using electricity (like your phone), your body uses sleep. Think of your sleep as powerful 90 minute cycles with multiple stages that repeat all night long. Each cycle has 4 stages and ends with REM sleep (your dream state). Stage 1 and 2 are considered light sleep (that twilight sleep we all know). Light sleep gets your body ready to enter deep sleep. Stage 3 and 4 are deep sleep, which repair and
rejuvenate your body. Where deep sleep strengthens your body, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep organizes your mind. REM sleep is your mind's efficient filing system for your memories and thoughts. Once REM sleep is over, the cycle repeats.
Balanced hormones = a leaner & lighter body
In perfect world, we would all get enough sleep. The problem is the majority of us live in a state of chronic sleep deprivation and that causes big challenges
with three main hormones, Ghrelin, Leptin & Cortisol. Look at Ghrelin and Leptin as your two hormones that balance your appetite. Ghrelin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract and stimulates hunger and Leptin is produced in your fat cells and tells your body when you're full. When you're sleep deprived your body over releases Ghrelin, increasing your appetite and inhibits the release of Leptin, preventing you from feeling full. This triggers higher calorie consumption and weight gain.
Now if that wasn't bad enough, the other hormone affected by lack of sleep is Cortisol (your stress hormone). That unwanted belly fat we all love so much (yeah right!), is mostly caused by cortisol. When you're tired, your cortisol levels will naturally rise which directly affects your blood sugar; increasing your appetite and causing cravings. This leads to higher calorie and carbohydrate intake which spikes your blood sugar and causes fat storage.
5 strategies to master your sleep
You know why your body need sleeps and some of the hormonal challenges that are triggered without adequate sleep. Now it's time to get your sleep dialed in and get your metabolism rockin’ in 2014 with these 5 strategies.
Strategy 1 - Set a sleep schedule
As much as many of us hate set schedules, the reality is our body loves them. Your body's goal is to stay in rhythm and balance, and the best way to do that is by having a sleep schedule. Simply start with the amount of hours you need to sleep each night and wake up feeling rested. The amount of sleep a person needs is individual and genetic so that might be 7, 8 or 9 hours for you. Once you know your hours, set your bed and wake time each day. Of course, there will be the occasional late nights (we all have to live a little!). On those late nights, still wake up at your normal wake time and then go to sleep a little earlier the next couple nights until you make up for the hours you’ve lost. You heard me right; sleep can be made up!
Strategy 2 - Resist the snooze button
It feels so good, hitting that snooze button and knowing you have 30 more minutes in bed. Well, it felt good until now! That snooze button is a big cause of slowing down and potentially halting your weight loss efforts! Once you hit the snooze button, your deep sleep and REM sleep is complete and you will only stay in light sleep, which basically does nothing for recharging your body and mind. It's basically wasted sleep. You're much better off setting your alarm later and waking up right when it goes off to ensure that you are getting the best quality sleep.
Strategy 3 - Sleep in a quiet and dark environment
Because you sleep in roughly 90 minute cycles, you'll enter the light sleep stage multiple times through the night. If you sleep with the TV on or any noise that changes in volume, it will wake you as you re-enter light sleep, interrupting your sleep cycles. If you need noise, try a noise machine for uninterrupted sound. If you like falling asleep with the TV on, set a time to go off in 30 minutes. Sleeping in a quiet environment is only part of the equation. You also want to create a dark environment. Your sleep hormone is melatonin and it's released in the dark and inhibited in the light. The more natural melatonin your body can release, the better quality of sleep you’ll have. So keep those lights off and shades drawn!
Strategy 4 - Create downtime
We live in a fast paced world and we are pulled in multiple directions. That non-stop hustling can make it difficult to relax before bed. This is exactly why parents create downtime routines for their kids; it prepares them for sleep. If you have ever struggled to fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing, creating downtime could be your solution. Some downtime examples would be taking a bath, reading, listening to music, watching a movie or taking a light family walk, basically anything that relaxes you and helps bring you down from the day.
Strategy 5 - Ditch the booze
Alcohol fools many people. They think because alcohol relaxes them and helps them fall asleep, then it must be good to drink before bed. Big mistake! Though alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, it causes major interruptions in your sleep cycles. If you're having a drink at night, make sure it's at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed. That will help prevent the alcohol from negatively affecting your sleep cycles.
There you have it; your complete 411 on sleep and the exact steps to take your sleep to the next level and drop the pounds even faster!
CEO and Creator of the Venice Nutrition System and Author of NY Times Bestseller, Body Confidence
Thursday, January 02, 2014
The #1 New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight and
unfortunately most people quit their plan and lose motivation before February 1st.
The next eleven months are then centered around getting back on a consistent
food and exercise plan. Before you know it, the next year is here and
weight loss is still your #1 resolution. This cycle sounds like the
definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting
a different outcome.
Well, 2014 is the year that the insanity stops! Here are 3 tips to make
2014 the year you permanently achieve your weight loss goals and ignite your
Tip 1 - Shift your
mindset, it’s all about 1%.
By January 1st, the excess bloat and weight gain
through the holidays makes us want to get it off as quick as possible, which
triggers the "all in" and quick fix mindset. This puts us in a
state where we don't care how the weight comes off, we just want it off!
This momentum can work for a couple weeks but then life gets busy again,
motivation begins to drops, we’re less rigid with our food plan and workouts
The most effective adjustment is to shift your mindset from “all or nothing” to
1%. Imagine creating 1% health improvements every day for the next 365
days. Every 1% improvement becomes a little victory to build upon.
The key to winning this new year is working small incremental changes
into your lifestyle so that they become a permanent way of life.
Tip 2 - Food is your foundation.
Once you have the right mindset, the next step is getting the right
information. Unfortunately the average dieter is drawn to the hype of
quick weight loss and buys a new diet book every 90 days! The reality is there is no workout that can
out work a bad diet. Just like in life, true change is created by implementing
the right plan consistently. Eating “right” is as simple as "eating
in 3's", which means enjoying a meal every 3 hours with a balance of
protein, fat and carbs. This way of eating stabilizes your blood sugar,
balances your hormones, protects your muscle, burns your body fat and
reprograms your metabolism.
The cool thing is you can also eat the foods you love. Just follow these portion size
recommendations based on your hands:
For women - 1 palm of protein, 1 fist of carbs and a thumb of fat every 3 hours
For men - 2 palms of protein, 2 fist of carbs and a full thumb of fat
every 3 hours
Here's a Jump Start plan to help you master your food in
Tip 3 - Workout Smarter.
Once your mindset is 1% and you’re eating in 3's, now it’s time to learn how to
maximize fat burn by optimizing your exercise. If you enjoy your workout, you are less
likely to quit. Here are two great ways to
keep your workouts fun, challenging and productive.
exercises that you love. There is nothing
more boring or monotonous than mindless exercise. So find things you love to
do! Maybe it's a sport like tennis, racquetball, basketball or soccer.
Maybe it's joining a running or cycling club. Maybe it's getting
active with your family by going on hikes, playing pick-up football games or my
personal favorite, rockin indoor trampoline dodge ball at Skyzone. My
point is this… get out and explore activities that you're passionate about and actually
look forward to doing.
2). Activate your core- whether you’re doing push-ups, cardio, cleaning the
house or sitting at your desk, strengthening your core is the best way to stay
strong, burn fat and prevent injuries. Your fat is burned in your muscle so the
more muscle you use throughout the day, the more fat your burn. Basically
your core starts right under your chest and ends about your mid-thigh, and is comprised
of your entire abdominal and hip region. Your core is involved in every
movement. The stronger your core, the
stronger your body and the more calories you burn! It's very easy to
activate your core; simply sit or stand up straight and pull your shoulders
back. Next, pull your belly button into your stomach and tighten all the
muscles in your stomach and back.
You'll feel a big difference when your core is activated and when it's not.
Start practicing by activating your core 5 times a day for 3 to 5
minutes. Then build up to 5 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes and in no
time you'll be keeping your core tight all day long and making your body the powerful
machine that it is!
There you have it… 3 easy tips to make 2014 the year you truly take back
control of your health and kick all future weight loss resolutions to the curb!
Happy New Year!
Mark Macdonald, Creator of the Venice Nutrition System
and Author of NY Times Bestselling Book, Body Confidence
Thursday, December 12, 2013
I think one of the biggest challenges during the holiday
season is when you're told “Oh just drink that, it's the
holidays". The entire season becomes a drinking festival. Fast forward to January 2nd and your
left sleep deprived with a bigger waist line and no energy!
always chosen to eat my calories instead of drinking them, so I don't drink
alcohol. That being said, the majority of my clients do like to
drink. Their biggest question
is how to enjoy the holiday parties while minimizing the fat storage from high
calorie holiday drinks like, hot butter rum, eggnog and peppermint martinis.
Here are three tips to help you enjoy some holiday
drinking, while minimizing the damage:
1 - Choose Wisely
a reason why holiday drinks are creamier and sweeter; they're full of fat and
sugar! Here are three options of “drink this, not that":
- Eggnog vs. Vodka & Club Soda - One glass of eggnog contains about
330 calories and 21 grams of fat, while a shot of vodka has only 70
calories and no fat.
- Hot Butter Rum vs. Red or White wine - Butter rum is
made with an entire stick of butter! One glass of butter rum has about
430 calories and 30 grams of fat, while 6 oz. of red or white
wine only has 130 calories and is fat free.
Peppermint Martini vs. Light & Regular Beer –
Nothing says “festive” more than peppermint! One peppermint martini
contains about 230 calories while 12 oz. of light beer has 100
calories. Regular beer has about
simply increasing your awareness you can significantly cut additional calories
and still rock a couple drinks throughout the holidays.
2 - Cut the Carbs
Alcohol calories are considered empty calories,
meaning they don't provide your body with energy. However, they're still
calories and when drinking the goal is to minimize the fat storing damage.
One of the best ways to do that is to pair your alcohol with a meal and cut
all starchy carbs (bread, rice, pasta) from the meal. Simply have a
protein (like salmon, beef, chicken, etc.) a little
fat if your protein doesn't already have fat (like avocado,
salad dressing, nuts, etc.), some veggies (like asparagus,
broccoli, spinach, etc.) and your drink of choice.
good friend, Chelsea Handler, loves her salmon (protein & fat), asparagus &
vodka…definitely a meal of champions! Of course alcohol isn't an
even exchange for carbs; this is just a cool trick to keep some extra
3 - Avoid the Hangover
Hangovers are a direct effect of dehydration.
Alcohol naturally dehydrates you. Add chemicals, fat and sugar from most
drinks and bam- instant hangover! Here
are three simple steps to avoid a hangover:
Step 1 - Keep it Clean. Vodka is
distilled and crystal clear which means it doesn't have any additional
additives, which helps you to metabolize it better.
2 - H2O it up! For every drink, counter it with two glasses of water, or
more. Rehydrating your body is the best way to prevent a hangover.
Step 3 - Food is your friend. Feeding your body small balanced
meals throughout the day helps keep your body balanced
and your digestive system flowing.
you have it; simple and realistic ways for you to enjoy the occasional Holiday
Happy Hour and simultaneously avoid your waist line growing like Santa!
Mark Macdonald- Creator of the Venice Nutrition program
and Author of NY Times Bestselling Book, Body Confidence
Thursday, November 21, 2013
The holidays are officially here, starting with
Thanksgiving. And since Thanksgiving revolves around food, many people worry
that they will fall victim to the cycle of overeating, feeling guilty and then
struggling to get back on track making their health a priority. To help minimize the anxiety and really enjoy the holiday, it’s important to have a game plan.
First, decide on your mindset. Remember it's only one
day! If you want to make it an eating frenzy, go for it. Just remember to get right back on plan Friday morning.
Now let’s say, like most of us, you want to enjoy the delicious Thanksgiving
food, but you also want to keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders and minimize any excess weight gain and bloating…these tips are for you:
1. Eat in 3's all day long. A big Thanksgiving myth is to starve
yourself all day so you can dive into dinner. When you do that, it
actually slows down your metabolism and then causes you to over eat at dinner
and store fat. Simply eat when you wake up and all day long, which will keep
your metabolism humming and minimize the quantity of food you consume at dinner
& any excess fat storage.
2. Eat your thanksgiving meal twice! Instead of eating one huge meal that forces you to unbutton your pants, simply take your Thanksgiving meal and enjoy one helping. Then three hours later, enjoy a second helping. This will prevent any big blood sugar spikes and will minimize fat storage.
Bonus Tip - Make sure to balance out your plate with some Protein (turkey) Carbs (sweet potatoes, stuffing & salad ) and Fat (some butter for your potatoes or some salad dressing for your salad). And if you want dessert, you can always make that your third meal. Smaller meals that are spaced throughout the day let you rock Thanksgiving food and stay in shape!
3. Eat a small protein meal before bed. A big mistake that many people make is eating a high calorie meal right before bed. This triggers fat storage. A simple adjustment: About 3 to 4 hours after your Thanksgiving meals (notice I said meals!), right before you go to sleep, have a small meal of just protein and fat such as plain Greek yogurt and almonds, a hardboiled egg or a protein meal replacement shake.
There you have it; easy tips to survive Thanksgiving and
keep your body functioning like a fat burning machine!
Mark Macdonald- Creator of the Venice Nutrition system and
Author of NY Times Bestseller Body Confidence
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Halloween is upon us and its candy time! All too often, we
tell people that they shouldn't eat candy or need to avoid it. In theory, that makes a lot of sense. In
reality, many people, (both kids & adults) love candy and when eaten in
moderation, it's fine.
Below are my tried and true tips on how you CAN eat candy
and what adjustments to make to minimize the fat storing damage and energy
crashes. Let’s face it. Saying
"just don't eat candy" only makes people want it more, so here’s how
to enjoy your Halloween while staying on track towards reaching your health
1). Understand the 2 different types of candy.
Do you know the difference between skittles & a snickers
bar? Basically there are two types of candy. One type is made of just
sugar like skittles, jolly ranchers, hot tamales, gummy bears, etc. Your body breaks down this type of candy fast
and it causes a blood sugar spike (which is why too much candy makes kids coo
coo). Soon after the blood sugar spike,
you have a blood sugar crash, making you want more candy. That afternoon
candy craving you have is simply low blood sugar.
The second type of candy has sugar (carbs) with some fat
& a little protein, like hershey's kisses, snickers, twix, three musketeer,
etc. This type of candy typically has
more calories than straight sugar candy, but because it has some fat and
protein too, it won't spike your blood sugar as fast.
This is why you probably feel a bit more satisfied after munching
on a snickers bar vs. a box of mike & ike's.
2) Eat protein & fat with your candy.
My son Hunter loves skittles and when he just eats candy
alone it causes a huge energy and sugar surge followed by a huge crash. The solution to the energy highs and lows is
simple. Just have some protein and fat
right before eating the candy. By simply snacking on a stick of string
cheese, or a cup of Greek yogurt or sliced turkey & nuts before the candy
(your carbs) it slows down the rate your body metabolizes the sugar to help
prevent big spikes. In addition, by eating your protein & fat first,
it makes you want less candy because you are preventing the sugar high.
You also want to follow this tip with the candy
that already has a little protein & fat (like Milky Way for example).
Despite the fact that this candy is digested slower, it still doesn't have
enough protein or fat to keep blood sugar stable, nor is the quality the
3). Pace your candy.
We get so excited with the abundance of Halloween candy
that we "go for it" and indulge like it’s the last candy we’ll ever
eat! Pacing your candy means working it into little treats with a couple of
meals a day. For example, after a sandwich for lunch, throw in a Hershey
kiss or a small bag of skittles for desert. When that mid-afternoon
craving is coming, have some cottage cheese, with some almonds & berries,
plus a bite size snickers or starburst. By
adding the candy at the end of your meal, you’ll find that you feel satisfied and
actually crave the candy less.
4) Be cautious of low calorie candy because it’s loaded
with sugar sweeteners.
Many times we think we're doing great by focusing on the
"no or low sugar" candy. Remember, the sweetness needs to come
from somewhere and it typically comes from artificial sweeteners that are difficult
for your body to digest and can cause gas and bloating. In addition, the
chemicals in artificial sweeteners are not the best for your body. Look
for candy that is sweetened with "stevia" or natural sugar, like
honey, if you looking for low calorie candy.
Join me on Headline News (HLN) this and every Monday at
1:30 pm for my segment Mike, Mark & Monday – Get it Back in Gear. This Monday we’ll be talking CANDY and
reviewing the tips above!
There you have it, your now know how to indulge with your
favorite candy and minimize the damage.
Mark Macdonald- CEO of Venice Nutrition and Author of NY
Times Bestseller, Body Confidence
Monday, September 30, 2013
While we all know that the best way to get your vitamins and minerals is with a balanced diet packed full of whole, nutritious food, many of us struggle to make this happen. If your lacking, the following supplements can help fill the void.
One of the most important nutrients in our body is
calcium, mainly because it does so much to keep us healthy. In
addition to building and maintaining strong, dense bones and preventing
osteoporosis, calcium is also required to maintain our heart rhythm and aids in
proper muscle contraction, hormone secretion and nerve transmission. Despite
the fact that calcium needs increase as we age (approximately 1200 mg per day
for females 50 and older and males 71 and older, compared to 1000 mg per day
for younger adults), our modern day busy lifestyles may be the reason why so
many of us are lacking adequate amounts. Research proves that three servings a day of
high calcium foods such as milk or yogurt, fortified orange juice, and dark
leafy greens are a great start. If you are not meeting your calcium needs via diet,
it’s very important to take a calcium supplement to fill in the gaps and
prevent your body from robbing much needed calcium from your bones.
Vitamin D is so important because your body needs it in
order to absorb calcium. Some studies show that Vitamin D may even help to
prevent depression, cancer and diabetes, though much more research is needed. It
is clear however that without adequate Vitamin D, we risk bone loss and density
and increase our risk of bone related injuries. While many of us take in enough Vitamin D
(approximately 600 IUs per day for people under 70 and approximately 800 IUs
per day for those over the age of 71) via fortified foods and exposure to sunlight,
some of us may be lacking or have greater Vitamin D needs and require a Vitamin
D supplement. Your doctor can perform a blood test to determine if a Vitamin D
supplement is necessary.
Research shows that Omega 3 Fatty Acids can lower blood
pressure and cholesterol, improve brain function, reduce joint pain and
inflammation, and perhaps even protect against heart disease and stroke, thus
making them a critical component of optimal health. Omega 3 Fatty Acids can
also improve the health of our hair, skin and nails. Because our bodies do not make these
essential Omega 3 Fatty Acids on our own, it’s important to get them through
diet or supplementation. To get the
recommended 3000 mg of Omega 3 Fatty Acids per day, aim to eat 1 serving of
fatty fish like salmon three times per week or consider a fish oil or flax seed
The Venice Nutrition Team
Thursday, July 18, 2013
In a word? Yes. Because the Venice Nutrition program is based
on eating frequent, balanced meals made of whole, natural food, it is perfectly
healthy to follow while pregnant. That being said, there may be a few
adjustments that you may need to make while following your program.
Perhaps you joined the program initially to lose weight,
tone up, increase energy or enhance athletic performance.
Your personal nutritional parameters can still work for you
while pregnant; only now the goal is to eat more frequently to make sure that
you’re providing enough fuel for both you and baby. In general, you need approximately 300 more
calories per day while pregnant. So
rather than eat larger meals every 3 to 4 hours, it’s best to eat every 2 or so
hours (which will add an additional meal or two per day). Always
tune in and really listen to your body; if you feel hungry sooner, your body is
letting you know that you need more food, so eat!
It’s important to aim for as many natural, high quality
foods as possible to get the most vitamins, minerals and fiber. It’s also important to balance these natural
sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats to keep blood sugar levels stable
and keep both you and baby healthy.
Chicken, pork, egg whites or egg beaters, low fat
cottage cheese or low fat Greek Yogurt, lean beef and certain types of seafood (speak to your doctor about low mercury seafood options) are all
excellent sources of high quality protein.
Choose whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, sweet
potatoes, beans, a variety of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and salads
for high quality carbohydrates. If
having medium quality (medium processed) foods like bread or pasta, aim for the
whole grain, high fiber variety as often as possible.
Heart healthy fat choices include avocado, nuts, nut
butters, flax seed oil, and olive oil.
It’s also really important to make sure that you are getting
enough high calcium food in your diet.
And we know many of you depend on quick “all in one” meals
like protein bars and protein smoothies.
Speak to your doctor to make sure that the supplements you take are safe
Also, speak to your doctor about taking a multi-vitamin and
any other supplements that may be helpful to support the growth of your baby.
The Venice Nutrition Team
Thursday, April 18, 2013
of sun, sand and fun. In my early
twenties, vacation usually involved guzzling fruity mixed drinks under the sweltering
sun while stuffing myself with fried food from the buffet. And
exercise? Umm…does doggie paddling ten
feet to the pool bar count? And sure, it’s fun while it lasts but there
is nothing more annoying (or defeating) than returning home from vacation heavier,
craving junk food and foggy. After all,
what’s the point of working so hard before
vacation to get in shape just to blow it when you finally get there? Why not live
it up while maintaining your health goals?
Now that I’m a little older, I’ve learned how to have fun
without packing on extra weight and feeling as though I need another vacation.
Here’s how to stay fit without sacrificing the fun on your
next vacation. Be
honest with yourself and your goals!
Unless you’re going away to a spa or fitness retreat, your goal
should never be to lose weight while on vacation. Think about it…how many people really
lose weight while veering from their everyday routine? Instead of focusing
on losing weight and progressing, shift your mind set towards maintaining
your body and goals. Success is
coming home from vacation close to the way you went in! Now you just have to pick up right where
you left off.
Be prepared. Staying
fit on vacation begins before you
even get there. To prevent cravings
and bingeing, it’s important to eat frequent, balanced meals every three
to four hours throughout the day. Pack balanced, portable options like protein
bars, protein powder, dried fruit, nuts, and turkey jerky to munch on in
between meals or whenever it’s just not possible to sit down to eat. The goal is to prevent hunger and
over-eating. And always pack more than you think you
need; I find I go through these snacks fast while on vacation!
your plate with protein, carbohydrates and fat. Start with a hearty portion of lean
protein (think chicken, seafood, pork) and then add a small portion of
carbohydrates. More than likely,
there will be plenty of fat hidden in the meal so no need to add more.
Load up on H20. This
one’s obvious; particularly, if you drink alcohol. Being hung over or bloated on vacation
is never a good idea!
Take advantage of your surroundings. Try a new activity like yoga on the
beach, snorkeling, shopping the markets or even a brisk walk in the sand
(the unstable terrain engages all of your balancing muscles and helps you
burn more fat). The key is to get moving and have fun
while doing it.
Get back on track. It’s
fine to indulge here and there, especially while on vacation. The key to
success? Get right back on track at your next opportunity with a balanced
meal to re-stabilize blood sugar and feel your best!
See? Staying on track while away from your everyday routine doesn’t
have to be difficult. So relax, already!
Real life will be waiting for you when you get back.
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
Friday, February 22, 2013
How much sugar is
recommended, and how much do most Americans usually get?
The bigger question is how much carbohydrates do Americans consume? And the answer is too many. You see, all carbohydrates (even healthy ones
like fruit, oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables, etc…) are broken down by our
digestive system into glucose (sugar).
Since excess carbohydrate intake is largely to blame for our society’s increase
in obesity, the real question is how many carbohydrates should you consume per
meal to prevent the negative results of excess sugar intake?
The answer is blood sugar stabilization.
Let’s begin by explaining blood sugar’s role in your body. You see, glucose (or sugar) in your
bloodstream is responsible for fueling your nervous system and creates the bulk
of your body’s energy source: ATP, the
same energy required for every movement you make.
By stabilizing blood sugar levels with the right nutrition,
you create balance (homeostasis) within your body. Your body then releases what it doesn’t need
like stored body fat, toxins and excess sodium and protects your lean muscle
mass to ignite your metabolism.
Here’s how it works. Whenever you over-eat or indulge in a
carbohydrate-heavy meal, your blood sugar spikes (above 120 mg/ dl) and your
body stores fat. Just the opposite
happens whenever you skip a meal, eliminating the carbohydrates and calories
that your body needs to thrive or
work out on an empty stomach. Blood
sugar levels drop too low (below 80 mg / dl) and your body is forced to burn
lean muscle mass for fuel in place of body fat.
This loss of lean muscle slows your metabolism and makes it nearly
impossible to reach your goals.
The fact is that though many people eat “healthy,” they fail
to eat “correctly” and inadvertently spike and crash their blood sugar levels
all day long!
Stabilizing your blood sugar (keeping levels between 80 and
120 mg/ dl throughout the day) will naturally help you look and feel your best. You’ll optimize your workouts by giving your
body the fuel it needs. You’ll burn
body fat, protect and increase lean muscle mass, eliminate sugar (carbohydrate)
cravings, boost your energy and continually break through stubborn plateaus. In short, stabilizing your blood sugar will
help you to achieve your goals permanently!
The 3 Factors to
Stabilize Your Blood Sugar:
So how many carbohydrates should you have
per meal? This varies per individual,
but overall a balanced meal of 35% protein, 35% carbohydrates and 30% fat will
keep your blood sugar stable and give your body the right dosage of sugar to
achieve optimum results.
- Meal Intervals –
Your body is a “refuel as it goes” machine and needs to be fed
consistently! Eat one hour within
waking (before exercise) to kick start your metabolism and then every 3 to
4 hours throughout the day until bedtime. Your last meal should fall
within one hour of going to bed to help prepare your body for
fasting. Frequent meals will keep
blood sugar levels steady and help to prevent you from overeating and
spiking blood sugar or skipping a meal and causing blood sugar to drop too
- Nutrient Ratios -
Each meal should have a balance of complete protein (animal or soy
protein), with a small amount of healthy fat and a small amount of
carbohydrates to keep blood sugar levels stable. It is critical to get the correct
nutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) in every meal.
- Meal Size - Your
body can only process a certain amount of food at once and eating smaller
meals every few hours will keep blood sugar levels steady. Each meal
should be roughly the same size (same amount of calories).
What are the
health risks of too much sugar or the equivalent?
Anytime your blood sugar spikes above 120 mg/dl, your pancreas over
releases the hormone insulin. When this
happens your body shifts into fat storing mode.
So the more blood sugar spikes you have, the more fat you store. This can lead to an onslaught of health challenges
including obesity, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Let’s discuss Type 2 Diabetes. Type
2 Diabetes has a genetic component to it, but the main trigger of the onset of
this medical challenge is years of over consuming carbohydrates and spiking
blood sugar levels. Eventually the cells
that respond to insulin (your hormone that lowers your blood sugar) become
insulin resistance and this causes your blood sugar to stay elevated, leading
to Type 2 Diabetes.
The solution is to start
stabilizing your blood sugar now and you can most likely prevent the disease
and if you already have Type 2 Diabetes, start following the 3 principles above
to get your blood sugar levels back in balance.
Mark Macdonald- Creator of the Venice Nutrition System, MonaVie Nutrition and Fitness Expert and Author of NY Times Bestseller, Body Confidence