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Fueling Tips for Early Morning Exercisers

Many athletes train in the early morning. Rowers commonly meet at 5:30 a.m. Hockey players might get rink-time at 5:00 a.m.. Athletes who need to be at work at 7:00 often train at 4:30 a.m. Many of these athletes report eating nothing before their training session. My stomach isn’t awake. … It’s too early to even think about food. … I get reflux if I eat. Others report they have better workouts when they eat something simple. The question arises: What’s the best way to fuel for early morning workouts?

Before answering that question, let’s first address the physiological goals for fueling before morning workouts.

1) To change the stress-hormone profile. Cortisol (a stress hormone) is high in the early morning. This puts your body in muscle-breakdown mode. Eating carbs + protein can switch to muscle-building mode.

2) To provide energy and prevent low blood glucose with the consequences of feeling light-headed, dizzy, and needlessly fatigued.

3) To be adequately hydrated. Dehydration slows you down.

If you are making the effort to get up early to train, you might as well get the most out of your workout! In a fueling study, athletes had dinner the night before and then a 60-minute exercise test the next morning. They performed 6% better in the 10-minute sprint to the finish when they had some fuel (carb) compared to having had nothing;  6% better when they had adequate water (compared to minimal water), and 12% better when they had both fuel + water (a sport drink). (1) Twelve percent better means running an 8-minute mile in about 7 minutes. Powerful, eh?

Your body can digest pre-exercise food and use it to energize your exercise as long as you are exercising at a pace that you can maintain for more than 30 minutes. (If you do stop-and-start exercise, you can still digest the food, but at a slower rate.) In another fueling study, athletes ate dinner and than nothing for the next 12 hours. Those who ate 180 calories (sugar) just five minutes before an hour-long exercise test performed 10% better in the last 15 minute sprint compared to when they ate nothing (2). Grab that granola bar or swig of juice!

If you are tempted to skip pre-exercise food so you can lose weight by burning more fat, think again. Yes, pre-exercise food will contribute to burning less fat at the moment, but that is irrelevant. The issue is not whether you have burned fat during exercise but if you have created a calorie deficit by the end of the day. Eating excess calories after a fat-burning workout gets you nowhere.

All of this means consuming some food and fluid on your way to the gym, spin class, or boot camp will enhance your workout—assuming you have trained your gut to tolerate the food and fluids. If you are worried about intestinal distress, start small (a few crackers) and work up to a handful of crackers, and then add, let’s say, a latte. For workouts longer than 60 minutes, the recommended intake is about 200 to 400 calories within the hour before you train. That recommendation obviously varies according to body size, exercise intensity and duration, and personal tolerance to food.

If you have been exercising on empty, you will likely discover you can exercise harder, feel better, and get more enjoyment from your workouts. Research subjects who ate 400 pre-exercise calories were able to exercise for 136 minutes until they were exhausted, as compared to only 109 minutes with no breakfast (3). Big difference! After learning this, one of my clients reported he was done with skipping pre-exercise fuel in the name of intermittent fasting. “Not eating is slowing me down and taking the fun out of my workout.”

Early morning options

Here are some options for fueling your early morning workouts so you are adequately hydrated and fueled.

Eat a quick and easy snack with about 200 to 400 calories (depending on your body size and workout intensity). Some popular options include: English muffin, toast, bagel or banana (with peanut butter); oatmeal, a smoothie, Fig Newtons, or granola bar. Coffee is OK; it’s a functional fluid that boosts performance and yes, helps with hydration.

Wake up 4 hours before important training sessions/events, eat a simple breakfast (bread + peanut butter), then go back to bed. This is a common practice among elite athletes. As one marathoner explained, “I don’t want to have food in my stomach when I’m racing. If a race starts at 8:00 a.m., I’ll get up at 4:00, eat a bagel with peanut butter and a banana, and then go back to bed. At 6:00, I’ll get up, have some coffee (to help me take a dump and wake me up), and then get to the race start. Because I never really sleep well the night before an event, getting up at 4:00 isn’t terribly disruptive.” In comparison, a rower reported she used to wake up two hours before practice to eat. She became too sleep-deprived and decided she needed sleep more than food. She started eating a bigger bedtime snack.

Eat your breakfast the night before via a bedtime snack, such as a bowl of cereal, or yogurt with granola. If you have dinner at 6:00, you’ll be ready for a bedtime snack by 9:00. Choose quality calories; this is your breakfast that you are eating the night before. Limit the cookies and ice cream!

Fuel during your workout.If your stomach isn’t awake when you first get up, it may be receptive to fuel when you are 30 minutes into your bike ride, run, or row. Be sure you have some fuel with you: sport drink, dried pineapple, gels, chomps, gummy bears—whatever is easy to carry and simple to digest. You want to target about 30 to 60 grams carb (120 to 240 calories) if the workout lasts 1 to 2.5 hours, and 60 to 90 g carb (240 to 360 cal) if the workout is longer than that..

What about “training low”?

If you are highly competitive and has mastered the sports nutrition basics (eat a diet with 90% quality foods; fuel evenly during the day; have no disordered eating behaviors), you might try training low (with depleted muscle glycogen and/or low blood glucose) once a week or so. To do this, eat primarily protein for dinner after a late-afternoon workout. The next morning, train without having eaten carbs. Exercising depleted like this is not fun, but it stimulates cellular changes that can be performance enhancing if you need to get to the next level (4). Novice and recreational athletes, however, first need to work on the basic ways to improve performance—by surrounding their workouts with food, and fueling wisely the rest of the day.


Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes at her office in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). Her best selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook and food guides for marathoners, cyclists and soccer players offer additional inform-ation. They are available at NancyClarkRD.com. For her online workshop, visit NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com.

References

  1. Below, P. et al. Fluid and carbohydrate ingestion independently improve performance during 1 hour of intense exercise.Med Sci Sports Exerc27:200-210, 1995.
  2. Neufer P. et al. Improvements in exercise performance: effects of carbohydrate feedings and diet. J Appl Physiol62(3):983, 1987
  3. Schabort, E. et al. The effect of a preexercise meal on time to fatigue during prolonged cycling exercise.Med Sci Sports Exerc31(3):464-471, 1999.
  4. Hawley J and Burke L. Carbohydrate availability and training adaptation: effects on cell metabolism. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 38(4):152-60, 2010.
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Healthy Aging: Establishing a Vision for Your Future and Planning for Success

I have never stopped believing in the power of a vision that captures one’s imagination and fuels a deep seated passion to make a difference in life and leave legacy of contributions that is remembered long after we are gone. The idea of creating a vision that fuels my desire to live life fully forms the foundation for a life that is built on purpose and serves to open doors of opportunity for others as well.

In the context of aging healthfully we can draw from the idea that “pulling us forward’ is an inner desire to NOT live life on the “edges” but become completely engaged and energized by what it is that we do on both the professional and personal levels. I believe in the power of a vision that yields purpose and also creates a deep sense of responsibility and accountability to one’s goals. This idea of creating a vision is at the heart of how I view my life now. I have spent a lifetime making decisions about both personal and professional matters that were limiting and not empowering. When I finally created my vision I learned I had become committed to my purpose and felt free to live my dream without fear –or reservation.

Here is my vision as it is currently written: “Healthy aging is a consciousness issue. It is not merely the death of our cells but is a complex and dynamic process that is grounded in change as life unfolds for each of us. The challenge as I see it is discovering the potential that lies within each of us to become all that we were meant to be mentally, physically and spiritually. This potential can carry us to living lives of fulfillment, peace, and prosperity if we remain present during each moment of our lives – living consciously. Learning about who we are from the ‘inside –out’ while acting upon our choices in the present moment, enables and empowers us to live a life of great accomplishment. This is my vision of a world that is possible.” Implied in this statement of purpose is the idea that my health and my evolving needs as I grow in time are dependent on the present circumstances as I understand them.

Supporting this vision is what I call my ‘core beliefs’ that define WHO I am as a human being – and as a professional. Some of these beliefs are:

  • Everything that we desire in life comes through relationships.
  • The mind of man is unlimited in its potential and responds to specific demands made upon it.
  • The “Triple Win” (created by me in the 80’s); “As I help you win, we win; as we win those we touch win.”
  • The purpose of life is to discover, develop and share our natural gifts.
  • What we put out in terms of energy and actions comes back to us multiplied. (Karma)
  • The rewards in life are directly proportional to your service to others.

My values are clear. Without my health I can accomplish nothing in my life. This notion fuels my desire to train mentally, physically and spiritually each and every day in order to expand the borders of my consciousness and be of service in ever expanding ways.

I have lived in my “shell” a long time and now I feel the presence of growth in all areas of my life. These articles are helping me to clarify my message and become more than I ever dreamed possible. It is about time after all I have lived 66 years, right? The programs I develop around these ideas will form the nucleus of what it is I am here to do (including publishing my book – no excuses!). I am also going to be “pushing back” a bit against the increasing influence of technology in our lives because every moment we spend tweeting, texting, checking our iPhones and communicating constantly online pulls us away from the ‘moment’ – the present – and this is only point of power through which we can change our lives for the better.

The world is “attached” to technology now and we no longer acknowledge each other – we are just too busy!  Make the time to meditate, imagine, feel, think and enjoy your life. If prayer works – pray by all means. Making time to take the “inner journey” everyday will make a world of difference in how you view and live your life – now and in the future. This work has paid off in spades for me. I am running faster and getting stronger everyday because I have taken the time to be with “me”. I have begun to prioritize my needs as they become apparent to me so that my life continues to move forward with meaning and purpose enabling me to be able to maximize the time I have left – whatever that turns out to be. (Remember the 6 minute mile on my 80th birthday?) Be strong and know that you have something unique in you that only you can give the world. Let your light shine and see what happens!

Article reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

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Trainers and Nutrition

It was 1995.  I sat on a panel at the Club Industry conference in Chicago and made a fully convicted argument that “personal trainers MUST talk about nutrition.” I had been told by assorted experts, club owners, and educators that ‘it’s illegal for trainers to talk about nutrition.’ Absurd.

In referencing that event from 20 years ago, I’m realizing how far we’ve come in the field of personal training. I’m also reminded of the Diet Ginger Ale Lady.

I was in the checkout line in Publix supermarket and the woman in front of me had only 3 items. She had 3 cases of diet ginger ale. Period. The cashier eyeballed her purchase and quipped, “you must like diet ginger ale.” The response was surprising.

“No, I don’t like it at all, but it’s a great diet!”

Now the visibly overweight cashier’s ears perked up, “Diet? How does it work?”

“Well, the ginger gives you all the nutrients you need and the carbonation makes you feel full, so for two days you only have diet ginger ale. On the third day you have all the soup and salad you want. You repeat the 2-day 3-day regimen until you’ve lost the weight.”

I was sure somebody was going to show up. Maybe the FBI. At the very least, the local police. After all, if it’s “illegal” for personal trainers to talk about nutrition, this woman had to be committing extreme violation!

No cops came. No SWAT Team or sting operation. The diet ginger ale lady left with her purchase and went on her way.

I share this to make a point. The advice people are receiving related to nutrition runs from relatively sane to outwardly dangerous. If we are going to guide our clients toward health, we have an obligation to help them make better choices.

I understand why some opted to believe that nutritional advice from trainers violated the law. Personal trainers without nutritional credential should NOT be prescribing diets, nor should they be recommending supplements. There are far too many risks, and in that, there have been lawsuits and judgments.

Let’s not, however, go to a full pendulum swing and prevent trainers from speaking truth.

I said earlier we’ve come a long way, and we have, and many trainers have become educated in nutritional practices, have aligned with software programs or continuing education courses, and the stigma is lessened significantly.

That doesn’t mean I believe the entire field of personal trainers should be spewing the nutritional beliefs they most attach to.

While many trainers have become responsibly educated, others haven’t and that presents a challenge.

My anecdotal experience has shown me that many personal trainers with limited education in clinical nutrition, marry themselves to one of two approaches and those approaches become a blanket touching each and every client.

  1. They adhere to the old school teachings of “calories in vs. calories out” and reference mathematical formulas to estimate “ideal” caloric intake.
  2. They profess that a bodybuilding type plan, generous in protein, and ample in both meals and energy substrates, is the way to go, failing to recognize the uniqueness of each client.

Many today scream Paleo, others yell Keto, and there’s very little unity.

Here’s my suggestion. While science will reveal new subtleties in food intake for specific groups, demographics, and performances, and food will continue to change as genetic modification, commercial livestock rearing, and food preservation techniques will challenge nature, the basics of “The Macro” won’t change.

  • Amino acids are the building blocks of tissue and we obtain them from dietary proteins.
  • Essential fats are essential with a host of vital benefits.
  • Starvation is NOT an effective weight loss strategy.
  • Processed foods will disrupt pancreatic hormones and metabolic processes if consumed often over time as staples in a nutrition plan.
  • Sugar intake can lead to a host of chronic and debilitating conditions If it isn’t well managed and kept modest at best.
  • Natural (organic) foods, grass-fed, pasture raised, and wild caught are going to provide more of nature’s “life force” than anything removed from sunlight, anything chemically modified, or anything hybridized for resistance to pests or weeds.

The bullet points are nothing but generalities, and this doesn’t pretend to be a complete list of important points, but a trainer equipped with some consistently valuable guideposts for their clients seeking health and betterment are certainly more powerful than those who avoid nutrition altogether.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Physician, Nutritional Scientist New York Times, Best-Selling Author

There are a great many leaders opening new doorways in the field of nutrition. One of them is Dr. Joel Fuhrman. We’re privileged to have him sharing his powerful insights at the MedFit Tour stop in Irvine, CA on February 9. It’s only one of the many reasons you should attend.

Dr. Fuhrman will share eye-opening research about the impact of fruit, specific vegetables, fats, and common foodstuffs on human health. . . and I guarantee two things. One, you’ll be blown away as so much of his study reveals the misinformation that plagues our population. Two, you’ll be far better equipped to deliver thrilling outcomes for your clients, whether you train athletes, regular folks, or the chronically afflicted.

Dr. Fuhrman is only one of a dozen extraordinary speakers slated to share insights in the wide-open and opportune field of Medical Fitness.  It’s the future. It should be a part of yours.

P.S. Here’s a gift, see Dr. Fuhrman live on video for free. Click here to access.


Phil Kaplan has been a fitness leader and Personal Trainer for over 30 years having traveled the world sharing strategies for human betterment.  He has pioneered exercise and eating interventions documented as having consistent and massive impact in battling chronic disease.  His dual passion combines helping those who desire betterment and helping health professionals discover their potential.  Email him at phil@philkaplan.com

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When It Comes to Health, There Is No One Size Fits All

Have you ever wondered why a particular diet, workout routine or cleanse offers remarkable results for some people, but not others?

It’s because of bio-individuality and Metabolic Chaos®.

When it comes to health, there is no one size fits all!  Each person is unique on a cellular and metabolic level.  They have their own health strengths and weaknesses, or vital voids as Reed Davis, the founder of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® calls them.  So, instead of treating symptoms, tests and/or assessment results, the key is to assess the specific needs of each person.

Functional lab testing is the best way to analyze a person’s specific needs on a deeper level.  The comprehensive data obtained through lab testing can be used to inform and guide a health-building program, to get real results that last a lifetime.

Reed Davis, the founder of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition®, worked for over a decade as a certified nutritional therapist and case manager perfecting lab testing and resources.  And now for over 10 years, he has been sharing his knowledge through the FDN course with a mission to empower as many people as possible to help as many people as possible to get well and stay well naturally.

After helping hundreds of clients, Reed discovered that while each was unique in their health challenges, they also had much in common – H.I.D.D.E.N. stressors.

Through clinical work, Reed identified 5 foundational lab tests essential for in-depth insights in order to uncover a client’s H.I.D.D.E.N. stressors and reveal their true healing opportunities to build their health.

Having access to lab testing, knowing how to properly interpret the results and use the data to guide a health building protocol is what makes certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioners so successful in getting their clients real results.

Like you, most of our FDN practitioners started off as health coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, nurses, homemakers or were in non-health related fields and changed their career because they were inspired by their personal health journey.

No matter what their prior profession was, all of them have these 3 things in common:

  • A strong desire to help others on a deeper level
  • Willingness to walk the talk and empower others to do the same
  • A feeling as if they were missing some very important pieces to the health puzzle.

FDN’s complete methodology has empowered over 3,000 trainees in over 50 different countries to help people get well and stay well naturally.

Join Reed Davis in our upcoming webinar and learn how to get real results for you and your clients, and create a successful business doing what you love while positively impacting others.


Reed Davis is a Nutritional Therapist and has been the Health Director and Case Manager at a wellness clinic San Diego for over 15 years; he is the Founder of the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Certification Course.

whole grain

Five Reasons Why You Want to Eat Carbohydrates

As the New Year starts, I hear way too many athletes vowing to “knock off carbs” for their nutrition resolution. Most intend to eat less sugar (OK). Some plan to cut out bread, pasta, potato and starchy foods (not OK), and others plan to also limit fruits and veggies (bad idea). The reality is, carbs should be the foundation of your sports diet.

Carbs 101

By carbs, I mean primarily fruits, vegetables, beans and grains. But little is wrong with a sprinkling of added sugar (less than 10% of your total daily calories) or enjoying a meal with refined white flour (as long your other meals include whole grains). To be sure we are all on the same page, let’s define this much-maligned word “carb.”

  • Carbohydrates include both sugars and starches. They are biochemically similar. For example, green peas (and other veggies) are sweet when young; their sugar converts into starch as they mature. Unripe bananas (and other fruits) are starchy when young and become sweeter as they ripen. Their starch converts into sugar.
  • Both sugars and starches are equal sources of muscle fuel. Whether you eat a starchy potato or sugary candy, the digested end-product is the same: glucose.
  • Glucose feeds your brain, gets stored as glycogen in muscles (for fuel during hard, extended exercise) and also in the liver (where it gets released, as needed, into the bloodstream to prevent your blood sugar from dropping).
  • Some carbs are more nourishing than others. Added sugars (white sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, gels, chomps, sport drinks, etc.) lack the vitamins and minerals that invest in good health. Fruits, veggies, beans, and dairy, however, are health promoting sources of carbs. Obviously, you want to eat more of the best and less of the rest.
  • Physically fit athletes easily metabolize sugars and starches. Unfit people, however, often end up with high blood sugar and pre- or Type II diabetes.Note: Most messages to cut out carbs are targeted at unfit people, not athletes.

Reasons to keep carbs in your sports diet

Here are five reasons why you, a physically fit athlete, want to include carbohydrate in your sports diet.

  1. Carbohydrates fuel muscles. Athletes who restrict carbs pay the price: “dead legs” and inability to exercise at their best. If you routinely train hard 4 to 6 days a week, carbs should be the foundation of each meal. Here are the International Olympic Committee’s research-based carb recommendations for an optimal sports diet:
Amount of exercise/day gram carb/lb. body wt gram carb/kg body wt
1 hour moderate exercise 2.5 to 3 5-7
1-3 h endurance exercise 2.5 to 4.5 6-10
>4-5 h extreme exercise 3.5 to 5.5 8-12

For a 150-lb athlete who trains hard 1 hour a day and remains somewhat active the rest of the day, the target intake should be 375 to 450 grams carb/day. That’s at least 90 g (360 calories) carb per meal and 50 g (200 cals) carb at each of two snacks. This is more carbs than in the ever-popular (low-carb) breakfast protein shake with a few berries, a lunchtime spinach salad, and a dinner with a pile of broccoli but no rice. Here’s what 375 grams of carbohydrate looks like (without the protein and fat that balances the diet):

Breakfast: 1 cup dry oats (50g) + 1 banana (25g) + 1 T honey (15g)

Lunch: 2 slices whole wheat bread (46g) + 1 can Progresso lentil soup (60g)

Snack:  1/3 cup raisins (40g) + 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips (10)

Dinner:  1.5 c cooked brown rice (65g) + 14-oz bag frozen broccoli (20g)

Snack: 8 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt (20) + 1 Nature Valley Granola Bar (30)

While I am sure many of you are rolling your eyes right now and thinking, “I could never eat that many carbs without getting fat,” this is an appropriate carb intake, believe it or not, and these 1,500 carb-calories can fit into your day’s 2,500+ calorie budget. I invite you to be curious and experiment. How much better can you train with an appropriate carb intake?

  1. Carbohydrates are not fattening. Despite popular belief, carbohydrates are not inherently fattening. Excess calories at the end of the day are fattening. Excess calories of carbs (bread, bagels, pasta) are actually less fattening than are excess calories of fat (butter, salad oil, cheese). That’s because converting excess calories of carbohydrate into body fat requires more energy than does converting excess calories of dietary fat into body fat.
  2. Avoiding carbs can lead to food binges. By routinely including carbs in your daily sports diet, you take the power away from them and will be less likely to binge. That is, if you “cut out carbs” but then succumb to eating the entire breadbasket and the mountain of pasta when at a restaurant, you are doing what I call last chance eating. You know, last chance to eat bread and pasta so I’d better stuff them in today because my no-carb diet restarts tomorrow. (Ugh.)
  3. Quality carbs (fruits, vegetables, grains and beans) promote a healthy microbiome, which reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Fiber-rich carbs feed the zillions of microbes that live in your gut. These microbes have an incredible influence on your mood, weight, immune system, and overall health. Every major medical association recommends we consume a strong intake of fruits, veggies and whole grains. Do athletes on a low carb diet miss out on these health benefits? TBD.
  4. Carbohydrate adds pleasure to your sports diet. Is something wrong with eating some yummy foods, like pasta and bagels? How about chocolate milk for a fun recovery food? Given that 10% of daily calories can come from refined added sugars, most athletes have about 240-300 calories (60 to 75g) of added sugar a day in their calorie budget. You can easily ingest that sugar via sport drinks, gels, and sweetened protein shakes. You can also enjoy one or two cookies or a slice of birthday cake—guilt-free.

Carb abuse is the bigger problem than carbs in moderation. The easiest way to prevent carb abuse is to eat satiating breakfasts and lunches (with carbs + protein) that fill your tummy, prevent afternoon hunger, and curb cravings for sugary sweets later in the day. Preventing hunger minimizes the cravings that give carbs a bad name in the first place. Give it a try?


Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes at her office in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). Her best selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook and food guides for marathoners, cyclists and soccer players offer additional information. They are available at www.NancyClarkRD.com. For her popular online workshop, see www.NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com.

Health Care Collage Words Medicine Background

How Do You Define Health?

Health can be defined in a variety of ways.

  • The absence of disease.
  • The absence of symptoms of a disease.
  • The ability to achieve a specific health goal. (Weight loss or reduced medication)
  • The ability to achieve a specific life goal. (Travel or dance at your granddaughter’s wedding)

There’s no right or wrong definition of health. It’s all what’s of most importance to you. However, unless you take a moment to reflect on and define it for yourself, you may by default be guided by your physician’s goal for your health.

Their goal is well-intended and certainly well researched, however, without the understanding what’s most meaningful to you in terms of your health, you’re likely following a standard protocol. They may get you 90% of the way to your health, not realizing it’s the last 10% beyond the standard protocol that enables you to achieve what is most meaningful to you.

As we’ve entered into a New Year when health goals are more at the forefront of our minds, it can be an inspirational time to determine what health means for us.

A vision helps you determine what you’re aiming towards.

You can then communicate a clearly defined vision with your health care providers, so they can support you in achieving your goal.

So, what does this look like?

As a nutrition coach, I always take new clients through this process.

What goal comes to mind first?

Generally speaking, the most popular answer is weight loss. But nobody wants to lose weight just to have a lower number on the scale. It’s about what they can do when they’re at that lower weight. (Walk up the stairs without being winded, not need a seatbelt extender during a plane ride or feeling comfortable in a bathing suit on your anniversary vacation.)

Because I work primarily with individuals that have autoimmune disease, the motivations are much deeper. The obvious would be less pain, more energy and increased mobility. But when truly getting to understand each person, they share that they want to regain the ability to walk down the driveway to get the mail, have enough energy to do their own grocery shopping, or reduce pain so they can sleep better at night.

The latter goals have such great detail that your care team will want to get onboard in setting you up for success.

From here, you can best determine what providers and services you need most to achieve health in your terms.

This may also prompt them to offer more options for you in achieving your goal. It could be as simple as suggesting a session with a physical therapist to a mediation app that’s been helpful to other patients in managing pain.

Bottom line, you need to first define your vision for health and then clearly communicate that vision with your healthcare team – ideally starting with your primary care physician – so you can be supported with the best path to your health success.

Join Alene for her upcoming webinar with MedFit Classroom:


Alene Brennan has been featured in USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post and Mind Body Green. Alene overcame debilitating migraine headaches through diet and lifestyle and is now once again using a “Less Pharm, More Table” approach is managing her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Alene holds four certifications: Nutrition Coach, Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer and Natural Food Chef. She also completed specialized training in nutrition for autoimmune disease specifically the Wahls Protocol and the Autoimmune Protocol. Since receiving her MS diagnosis and seeing first-hand the power of using diet and lifestyle to create a healing environment in the body, she dedicated her virtual nutrition coaching practice to helping people with MS and autoimmune dieseases take back control of their health. Visit her website, alenebrennan.com.

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How fiber-rich foods protect against breast cancer

Breast cancer —  two words that strike fear in every woman.  The good news is women can help lessen their risk.  One important defense is to consume a high fiber diet.

A 2011 meta-analysis of 10 scientific studies found that higher fiber intake is associated with lower risk of breast cancer.1 In 2012, another meta-analysis of 16 studies came to the same conclusion.2 In the Nurses’ Health Study, higher fiber intake during childhood and adolescence was linked to a decrease in the risk of breast cancer in adulthood.3

How fiber impacts breast cancer risk

Given that animal products, refined grains, sugars and oils contain little or no fiber, fiber intake is a marker for greater intake of natural plant foods, many of which are known to have a variety of anti-cancer phytochemicals. Some breast cancer protective substances that have already been discovered include isothiocyanates from cruciferous vegetables4, organosulfur compounds from onions and garlic,5 aromatase inhibitors from mushrooms,6 flavonoids from berries,7,8 lignans from flax, chia and sesame seeds,9 and inositol pentakisphosphate (an angiogenesis inhibitor) from beans.10

Influence of fiber, glucose, insulin on breast cancer

High-fiber foods help to slow emptying of the stomach and absorption of sugars, which decreases the after-meal elevation in glucose. This is meaningful because elevated glucose levels lead to elevated insulin levels, which can send pro-cancer growth signals throughout the body, for example via insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).11 As such, high dietary glycemic index and glycemic load (characteristic of refined grains and processed foods) are associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.12-14  Accordingly, a study on Korean women found that higher white rice intake was associated with higher breast cancer risk.15

Fiber, estrogen, and breast cancer

Increased exposure to estrogen is known to increase breast cancer risk.16-18 A woman may be exposed to estrogen via her ovaries’ own production, estrogen production by excess fat tissue, or environmental sources such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (like BPA, a chemical added to many consumer products). Fiber can reduce circulating estrogen levels, thereby reducing breast cancer risk, because it helps to remove excess estrogen from the body via the digestive tract. Fiber binds up estrogen in the digestive tract, accelerates its removal, and prevents it from being reabsorbed into the body.19-21

In addition, soluble fiber (as shown in studies using prunes and flaxseed) seems to alter estrogen metabolism so that a less dangerous form of estrogen is produced, whereas insoluble fiber (wheat bran) did not have the same effect. 22,23  For this reason, beans, oats, chia seeds and flaxseeds may provide some extra protection due to their high soluble fiber content.

Foods rich in fiber

Although most people probably just associate whole grains with fiber, beans contain more fiber than whole grains, and vegetables and fruits (and some seeds) contain comparable amounts – here are a few examples:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa – 5 grams fiber
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice – 4 grams fiber
  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans – 11 grams fiber
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli – 6 grams fiber
  • 1 cup blueberries – 4 grams fiber
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds – 6 grams fiber

Overall benefits of fiber: promotes weight loss and digestive health

Fiber, by definition, is resistant to digestion in the human small intestine. This means that during the digestive process, fiber arrives at the large intestine still intact. Fiber takes up space in the stomach but does not provide absorbable calories, and it also slows the emptying of the stomach.24 These properties of fiber make meals more satiating, slow the rise in blood glucose after eating and promote weight loss. In the colon, fiber adds bulk and accelerates movement, factors that are beneficial for colon health. Soluble fiber (primarily from legumes and oats) is effective at removing cholesterol via the digestive tract, resulting in lower blood cholesterol levels. Some types of fiber are fermented by intestinal bacteria. The fermentation products, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as butyrate and propionate, have anti-cancer effects in the colon and also serve as energy sources for colonic cells. These SCFA are also thought to contribute to promoting insulin sensitivity and a healthy weight.25,26

Fermentable fiber also acts as a prebiotic in the colon, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Fiber intake is associated with a multitude of health benefits, including healthy blood pressure levels and reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.24,27

Importance of choosing high-fiber and high-nutrient foods

Yes, fiber itself has some breast cancer-protective properties, like limiting glycemic effects of foods and assisting in estrogen removal, but we get optimal protection when we focus on foods that are both rich in fiber and rich in micronutrients and phytochemicals.

G-BOMBS contain fiber along with numerous anti-cancer phytochemicals, however, green (cruciferous) vegetables, mushrooms, flax and chia seeds in particular contain anti-estrogenic substances in addition to fiber, making them more effective breast cancer fighters than whole grains. Remember, beans are higher in fiber (and resistant starch) and lower in glycemic load than whole grains, making beans a better carbohydrate choice.

A Nutritarian diet is designed to include a full portfolio of the most protective foods to prevent cancer and slow the aging process.  Advances in nutritional science make winning the war against cancer a reality in our lifetime.

Dr. Fuhrman has created a Breast Cancer Lecture Series that Will Help Educate On How to Avoid Breast Cancer Through the Power of Nutrition. CLICK HERE to rent or buy!

Originally printed on DrFuhrman.com. Reprinted with permission.


Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.

References:
  1. Dong JY, He K, Wang P, et al. Dietary fiber intake and risk of breast cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2011.
  2. Aune D, Chan DS, Greenwood DC, et al. Dietary fiber and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Ann Oncol 2012.
  3. Farvid MS, Eliassen AH, Cho E, et al. Dietary Fiber Intake in Young Adults and Breast Cancer Risk. Pediatrics 2016, 137:1-11.
  4. Liu X, Lv K. Cruciferous vegetables intake is inversely associated with risk of breast cancer: A meta-analysis. Breast 2012.
  5. Powolny A, Singh S. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett 2008, 269:305-314.
  6. Chen S, Oh SR, Phung S, et al. Anti-aromatase activity of phytochemicals in white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Cancer Res 2006, 66:12026-12034.
  7. Stoner GD. Foodstuffs for preventing cancer: the preclinical and clinical development of berries. Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2009, 2:187-194.
  8. Kristo AS, Klimis-Zacas D, Sikalidis AK. Protective Role of Dietary Berries in Cancer. Antioxidants (Basel) 2016, 5.
  9. Bergman Jungestrom M, Thompson LU, Dabrosin C. Flaxseed and its lignans inhibit estradiol-induced growth, angiogenesis, and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor in human breast cancer xenografts in vivo. Clin Cancer Res 2007, 13:1061-1067.
  10. Maffucci T, Piccolo E, Cumashi A, et al. Inhibition of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway by inositol pentakisphosphate results in antiangiogenic and antitumor effects. Cancer Res 2005, 65:8339-8349.
  11. Gallagher EJ, LeRoith D. The proliferating role of insulin and insulin-like growth factors in cancer. Trends Endocrinol Metab 2010, 21:610-618.
  12. Dong JY, Qin LQ. Dietary glycemic index, glycemic load, and risk of breast cancer: meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2011, 126:287-294.
  13. Romieu I, Ferrari P, Rinaldi S, et al. Dietary glycemic index and glycemic load and breast cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Am J Clin Nutr 2012, 96:345-355.
  14. Sieri S, Pala V, Brighenti F, et al. High glycemic diet and breast cancer occurrence in the Italian EPIC cohort. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD 2012.
  15. Yun SH, Kim K, Nam SJ, et al. The association of carbohydrate intake, glycemic load, glycemic index, and selected rice foods with breast cancer risk: a case-control study in South Korea. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010, 19:383-392.
  16. Hankinson SE, Eliassen AH. Endogenous estrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels in relation to breast cancer risk. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2007, 106:24-30.
  17. Pike MC, Pearce CL, Wu AH. Prevention of cancers of the breast, endometrium and ovary. Oncogene 2004, 23:6379-6391.
  18. Bernstein L, Ross RK. Endogenous hormones and breast cancer risk. Epidemiol Rev 1993, 15:48-65.
  19. Aubertin-Leheudre M, Gorbach S, Woods M, et al. Fat/fiber intakes and sex hormones in healthy premenopausal women in USA. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2008, 112:32-39.
  20. Aubertin-Leheudre M, Hamalainen E, Adlercreutz H. Diets and hormonal levels in postmenopausal women with or without breast cancer. Nutr Cancer 2011, 63:514-524.
  21. Goldin BR, Adlercreutz H, Gorbach SL, et al. Estrogen excretion patterns and plasma levels in vegetarian and omnivorous women. N Engl J Med 1982, 307:1542-1547.
  22. Haggans CJ, Travelli EJ, Thomas W, et al. The effect of flaxseed and wheat bran consumption on urinary estrogen metabolites in premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2000, 9:719-725.
  23. Kasim-Karakas SE, Almario RU, Gregory L, et al. Effects of prune consumption on the ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone to 16alpha-hydroxyestrone. Am J Clin Nutr 2002, 76:1422-1427.
  24. Higdon J, Drake VJ: Fiber. In An Evidence-based Approach to Phytochemicals and Other Dietary Factors New York: Thieme; 2013: 133-148
  25. Canfora EE, Jocken JW, Blaak EE. Short-chain fatty acids in control of body weight and insulin sensitivity. Nat Rev Endocrinol 2015, 11:577-591.
  26. Sonnenburg ED, Sonnenburg JL. Starving our microbial self: the deleterious consequences of a diet deficient in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates. Cell Metab 2014, 20:779-786.
  27. Carbohydrates. In Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food. Edited by McGuire M, Beerman KA; 2013
probiotics

Probiotics & Menopause

Probiotic, Prebiotic, Synbiotic, Antibiotic, Psychobiotic?

If you think this is the title to a new Sci-Fi flick, you’re not alone. How confusing can things get? We hear about them in the news and on ads but does anyone ever really explain what they mean and why you should care to know? Well, I’m breaking it all down for you into small digestible bites. 

Menopause is marked by a plethora of symptoms ranging from hot flashes, weight gain, and memory loss, to depression and anxiety, just to name a few. With probiotics being the new hot topic on the supplement market with its adds promising infinite health benefits, the question arises if they can be beneficial with menopausal symptoms as well. Is there truth to any of those claims? What are probiotics? Would you benefit from consuming them? The last question is one you will have to answer for yourself but after reading this blog you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision:

Probiotics:

Probiotics come from the Greek word “pro bios” which means “for life”. The internationally endorsed definition of probiotics is “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” The key word here is “live”.

Prebiotics:

Dietary substances that nurture a selected group of microorganisms living in the gut. Example: Polyphenols in chocolate act as prebiotics, enhancing beneficial bacteria that are already in the gut. They favor the growth of beneficial bacteria over that of harmful ones. (1)

Synbiotics:

Appropriate combinations of prebiotics and probiotics.

Antibiotics:

A substance that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms.

Psychobiotics:

Probiotics that have a specific health benefit in regards to mental health. This is not a scientific term but rather a term coined by a scientist that was researching the mental health benefits of probiotics. (2) It’s very catchy so I thought I’d share 🙂

There are over 100 trillion bacteria, most of them in the intestines. These bacteria are our own intestinal medicine cabinet, which is capable of protecting us from damaging organisms.

They produce neurotransmitters that relay messages from the intestines to the brain via the vagus nerve, which causes the body to react in many different ways:

Gut bacteria work in the body through different modes of action supporting essential functions:

  • Digestion
  • Immunity
  • Metabolism
  • Mental Health
  • Nervous system

And helping with a variety of diseases. A few are mentioned below:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Stress
  • Hypertension
  • Cholesterol reduction
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease

A lot of the now marketed probiotics don’t have any benefits as they don’t make it passed the stomach acid. There are however, some that have great benefits:

Warning: No legal definition of probiotics currently exists, which allows companies to label their products “probiotic” even if they don’t meet the scientific definition of the term. No probiotic has of yet been approved for therapeutic purposes by the FDA. So when purchasing probiotic supplements, do your research. As with any other nutrient, always try to get as much in your daily fresh food (yogurt, kefir, fermented foods, sauerkraut, kimchi) instead of supplementing with pills or powders.

Due to their specific benefit, some of the strains of bacteria that may be beneficial for menopausal symptoms are listed below:

Combination of Lactobacillus helveticus & Bifidobacterium longum 

  • Reduced cortisol and inflammation
  • Cortisol is a big player in menopausal belly fat
  • Inflammation is a big player in musculoskeletal pain

Lactobacillus and Bifodobacterium

  • Secrete GABA, a neurotransmitter, who’s deficiency has been linked to depression. Polyphenols in dark chocolate act as prebiotics increasing both bacterial families

Lactobacillus rhamnosus

  • Reduces anxiety and depression by increasing GABA receptors in the brain

Bifidobacterium 

  • Alters levels of serotonin (similar to Prozac)

Lactobacillus reuteri 

  • Improves mood, appearance, and general health by increasing levels of the feel-good-hormone oxytocin

Lactobacillus acidophilus 

    • Influences canabinoid receptors, which are critical to regulating pain

B. infantis, L. reuteri 

    • Decrease inflammation

Active agents in yogurt 

    • Reduce anxiety and fear

Note: I was not able to find any specific studies that evaluated the benefit of probiotics for menopausal symptoms. This article, although based on information from peer-reviewed sources, is my own opinion on the possible benefits that probiotics can have on menopausal symptoms. It is intended to provide you with information but should not be taken as medical advice. Each situation is different. Contact your health care provider if you have other health conditions and are interested in exploring probiotics, as there may be interactions with medications that were not explored in this article.

Have a comment or question? Tweet me @doctorluque

Republished with permission from doctorluque.com


Dr. Maria Luque is a health educator and fitness expert that specializes in helping women take charge of their own wellness. A native of Germany, she pursued a career driven by a passion for health and fitness. Dr. Luque currently teaches at the College of Health Sciences at Trident University International, in addition to conducting workshops, group/personal training, and writing. She’s an IDEA Fitness Expert and has been published in the IDEA Fitness Journal as well as appeared as a guest at local news channel to talk about quality of life and menopause. Visit her website, doctorluque.com

References:

(1) Jain, D. & Chaudhary, H.S. (2014). Clinical significance of probiotics in human. International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological Diseases, 4(1), 11-22.

(2) Davidson, J. (2014). The Psychobiotic Revolution. Psychology Today March/April, 40-41.

(3) Sanders, M.E. (2008). Probiotics: Definition, Sources, Selection, and Uses. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 46:S58-61.