Veggies are so awesome that even though they’re complex carbs, we’ve given them their very own group in carb cycling! In fact, you can eat 2 handfuls of non-root/non-starchy type veggies with every. single. meal.
So why do veggies deserve such a distinction? They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and have amazing health benefits:
Veggies pretty much nourish every part of your body! And one of their main benefits? They are so low in calories that you can fill up with veggies without even making hardly a dent in your daily calorie bank account. Try doing that with any other food group!
I’m often asked about fresh vs. frozen vs. canned veggies. While fresh, in season veggies are best, frozen and canned are great alternatives because fresh veggies start to lose their nutrients within days. Since the frozen and canned variety are picked and then processed at their peak, they continue to hold the majority of their nutrients for an extended period of time. Processing actually increases the lycopene found in tomatoes, which protects you against heart disease and even some cancers. And what’s the best part about choosing frozen or canned veggies? They allow you to eat your favorites year-round! They’re also quick and easy to prepare, and you’ll save money because you’ll throw away less due to spoilage. Just be sure to choose no sugar and low or no salt added varieties.
Since most people consume only about half of the recommended servings of veggies each day, here are some ideas to help you add more of these nutritional necessities into your diet:
Add a handful of spinach to your smoothie. You won’t even know it’s there!
Buy pre-washed bags of salad.
Pre-package your own veggies for a healthy, on-the-go snack.
Add veggies to sandwiches and soups.
Choose to snack on veggies instead of other not-so-healthy options.
Get creative—try something new! You might discover a new favorite.
Just gotta’ have ranch dip with your veggies? Try this healthier version: 1) Mix together equal parts each of onion powder, dried dill, and garlic powder. 2) Mix in three times the amount used for the ingredients in step 1 (if you used 1 tablespoon for step 1, use 3 tablespoons in this step) of dried parsley. 3) Add sea salt and pepper taste. 4) Add this mix (to taste) to plain nonfat Greek yogurt and enjoy!
What creative things do you do to incorporate more veggies into your day? Share your ideas in the comments below and you could win an autographed copy of Chris’ book, Choose to Lose! Enter up to five times (more chances to win!) until 11:59 pm EST Wednesday, March 12, 2014, and the winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Friday, March 14, 2014.
Good ol’ oatmeal, a popular go-to for breakfast since way back in the early 1850′s, is a true nutritional powerhouse. And it’s not just for breakfast anymore—Oh no!
Chris and I are huge oatmeal fans, and nothing keeps us feeling fuller longer! We often depend on this mealtime lifesaver when we’re on the road or out running errands and need a quick and healthy meal—even on low-carb days. Yes, that’s right. If you’re carb cycling and find yourself totally stuck with no healthy low-carb options available, go for some oatmeal! It’s loaded with complex carbs and fiber, which help you feel fuller longer and keep those blood sugar levels steady. And that fiber has so many other really important health benefits too! It’s a total win-win!
We love Starbucks’ oatmeal, and with a Starbucks on pretty much every corner, in every airport, and in lots of hotels, it can be a great way to start the day—or save the day! My favorite way to enjoy my Starbucks’ oatmeal is to add two Stevia packets (which I keep in my purse or diaper bag), and half a package each of the dried fruit and nuts that come with each cup of oatmeal. It is 250 calories of awesomeness
So the next time you’re out and about and your stomach starts growling, try some oatmeal instead of all those other fatty, fast food options. Your tummy—and your scale—will thank you!
March is one of my most favorite months of the year because I get to celebrate two things: the birthdays of some very special people in my life, and one of my passions—nutrition! And since I am so passionate about nutrition, I’ve got some pretty cool stuff planned for this blog this month! It’s all a bit hush-hush, so you’ll have to check back often to see what’s going on, but I will tell you one thing: There will be a weekly giveaway! You in? Awesome! Let’s go!
Good nutrition is so important! When you fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods, you’ll feel great (both physically and mentally), accomplish more, and have an all-round healthier body. The reverse is also true—if junky, low nutritional value foods are your fuel of choice, you’ll feel lousy, get less done, and have health issues.
In order to be healthy, our bodies need the right combination of what I like to call the Fabulous Four: protein, carbs, healthy fats, and water. Here’s why they’re the foundation of good nutrition:
Protein builds and maintains muscle, bone, skin, hair, and pretty much every other body part and tissue in your body. It’s so important for weight loss because muscle burns calories like an inferno, so the more muscle, the more calories burned! Protein also breaks down more slowly than carbs and fat, which burns even more calories and helps you feel fuller longer.
Carbs are the preferred fuel source for your muscles and organs. They come in healthy versions (vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes), and not-so-healthy versions (cakes, cookies, soda, doughnuts, candy, and many processed foods). Healthy carbs are also crucial for burning calories, and since they break down more slowly than the not-so-healthy kind, they keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady, and your calorie burning furnace hot so it burns more calories!
Healthy fats (unsaturated fats) eaten in moderation help the development and function of your eyes and brain and help prevent heart disease, stroke, depression, and arthritis. They also help keep your energy levels steady and keep you from feeling hungry.
Water is an important ingredient in regulating your bodily functions (digestion, circulation, temperature, and many others), as well as keeping muscle fatigue at bay and for healthy skin. And an adequate water intake is imperative for losing weight! We recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water (150 lbs = 75 ounces, for example) every single day.
And since I want to help you have the best National Nutrition Month ever, here are some ideas to help you get started with your own celebration:
Why is it, then, that on December 31st, only 8% of resolution makers are successful? Why do we have a hard time achieving any goal, no matter when we begin? Why is it so hard to do what we know we need to do? What quenched that burning fire we felt on day 1 of this “fresh start,” and how can we reignite it and be successful goal achievers? It might take some trial and error to find your fire, but go for it—you’re so worth it!
Here are my six solutions for reigniting, and then keeping your goal-achieving fire burning brightly—with some motivational quotes thrown in for some extra kindling:
1. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with yourself and ask—and answer—the hard questions:Why do I want to achieve this goal? How will my life be better by achieving it? If this is a repeat goal, why did I fall (because we never fail!) the last time? What will I do differently this time?
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~Unknown
The best goal has a deeper motivation—that burning fire you feel within: to get a better job, to be able to play with your kids without feeling like you’re going to die, to retire at a certain age, etc. And while a goal to fit into that pair of jeans might get you started, it’s probably not a long-term motivator. Find that “burning fire” purpose and you’re good to go!
Purpose is the most powerful motivator in the world. ~Gandhi
2. Prioritize: If your calendar and to-do list don’t match up with your goal, you’ve got a problem.
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage…to say “no” to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger “YES” burning inside. ~ Stephen Covey
Yes, you need to take care of life and the people in your life, but if your to-do list is full of too many low-priority “other” things, you’ve lost your bigger, burning YES! Carefully prioritize your life and make sure those YESs are front and center.
3. Replace fear with courage: The fear of failure is a huge fear we all have to deal with when committing to a goal, and the hardest part of reaching that goal is often convincing ourselves we can change even though we’re afraid! One of the easiest ways to find the courage amongst your fears is to make and keep one small Promise to yourself. Success ignites even more courage!
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. ~Disney’s “The Princess Diaries”
4. Celebrate every single success, no matter how small: Set up your own reward system—it works for kids, why wouldn’t it work for you?! Make your rewards something tangible, motivating, and goal-related, and remember that each tiny success makes that fire burn even hotter, so celebrate!
People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. ~Tony Robbins
5. Be realistic:
Achieving this goal will definitely make your life better, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it will make life “perfect.” If you do, you’re setting yourself up for a big fall.
Be prepared to fall, and when you do, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and confess, reassess, and recommit to your goal. Remember: Falling is not failing!
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Feeling comfortable is definitely a fire extinguisher!
Life is not meant to be lived in your comfort zone. ~Laurel Day
6. Some other ways to keep that fire burning:
Work on one goal at a time and make sure it’s a SMART Goal.
If you don’t know where to start, do some research, ask others, and become a budding expert. For a weight loss goal, check out our Carb Cycling program—it works!
Just begin. Focus on one small thing you can do today to move closer to your goal. Get on that treadmill for just 5 minutes, deposit $5 in a savings account, or look over your resume. One small thing.
Prepare for and take care of small bumps in the road before they become huge roadblocks to your success.
And remember, finding your fire and keeping it burning brightly is all up to you—no one can do it for you.
Sleep…or the lack thereof…is a hot topic around our house right now. Especially around the holidays. Baby Ruby is such a good baby, and sleeps really well for her young age, but still. I miss those regular, non-interrupted ZZZs I’m so used to getting.
Besides making us feel tired and a bit grumpy (as Cash often reminds me!), a lack of sleep can cause so many issues you might not be aware of:
Sleepy people are involved in more accidents on the road, at home, and on the job. One study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that sleepiness is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year. That’s scary!
So, how do you find time for more ZZZs in an already crazy busy life? Here are some tips from the experts at WebMD:
Get enough sleep at night (7-9 hours). Ladies, this one is especially crucial for us—a recent study at Duke University found that women need more sleep than men because of our awesome multi-tasking brains! Having a hard time doing this? Try this next tip.
Instead of going to bed an hour earlier, which is a difficult thing to do, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights, and make night four’s bedtime your new regular bedtime.
Keep other activities (reading, working/playing on the computer, paying bills, watching TV, etc.) out of your bed and reserve it only for sleeping and intimate-type activities (*wink, wink*).
Wake up at the same time every day. Even on weekends.
Eat meals on a regular schedule, like we do in carb cycling, so your energy levels will stay constant. Not only will you be more likely to make better food choices, but you’ll also be less likely to get sleepy from a lack of energy.
Exercise regularly. While this might not make sense, exercise helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
Can’t find time to go to bed earlier? Re-examine and re-prioritize your schedule. When you get enough sleep, you’ll be much more successful with all your most important tasks!
Create a relaxing bedtime ritual: Soak in the tub, read a book, listen to your favorite soft music, or whatever helps you relax. Our little Ruby has her own bedtime ritual and it works like a charm!
Does this all seem totally overwhelming? Pick just one tip and set a SMART Goal. Even one tiny improvement can make a world of difference!
As of January 2011, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
18.8 million people are diagnosed.
7.0 million people are undiagnosed.
79 million people are pre-diabetic.
1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.
No wonder questions about diabetes and diabetes management are so common!
Let me say this up front: I am not a doctor or registered dietician, so if you have diabetes, please discuss carb cycling and exercise—and how both fit into your individual situation—with your health care team. They might decide carb cycling is the answer for you, or that it is not, or that it could be with a few modifications. That being said, here is some general diabetes-related information I’ve found that will hopefully help you and your team create the best plan for you!
If you’d like some very basic and easy to understand information about diabetes (what it is, symptoms, an explanation of the three types, etc.), check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website.
Diet and Diabetes:
You’ll probably notice that a lot of these ideas apply to carb cycling in general (for diabetics and non-diabetics), with a few adjustments for Gestational Diabetes.
Here are a couple of personal observations from my own experience of working with diabetics (again, please discuss these with your health care team to see if they’re right for you):
Many of our show “peeps” have Type 2 Diabetes and have totally reversed this by following our most conservative carb cycle, The Easy Cycle.
Diabetics have insulin resistant cells, and carb cycling—alternating between high and low-carb days—can make cells insulin sensitive, which is the goal of any diabetic!
No matter what type of diabetes you have, the actual amount of food (carbs, protein, and fats) to eat at each meal depends on the number of calories you need, which is based on your age, sex, weight, activity level, and whether or not you take insulin. Work with your health care team to design the program that is best for you. To find a registered dietician in your area, go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website.
Exercise and Diabetes:
The guidelines for exercise and diabetes can depend on which type of diabetes you have, but here are some general tips:
I know I’ve just touched the surface of the diabetes discussion, but the most important thing to remember is that you can have diabetes and reach your health and fitness goals. It might take some time, creativity, and a lot of communication with your healthcare team, but once you find the formula that works for you, the sky’s the limit! ☺
I stole this way-too-yummy shake recipe off the Instagram account of my good friend (and fellow fitness junkie), Kacey Luvi. If you’re not a fan of protein shakes, I beg you to please try this one…you won’t regret it!
As Kacey said, “Fall and fitness have never tasted so good.” Mmmm…she’s right. Even better? It is the perfect Low Carb shake for those Carb Cycling.
Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake - serves 1
What you’ll need:
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2-3 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 scoop Vanilla flavored protein powder (she uses an Oatmeal Cookie flavor…but Vanilla is delish too)
3-4 shakes each of cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
How you’ll make it:
1. Pour all ingredients into blender.
2. Add ice and blend to experience healthy heaven in your mouth ☺.
What’s in it:
Each serving has 236 incredibly healthy calories, 23 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of fat.
Confused about carbs and how they fit into carb cycling? Believe me, you’re not alone! Many of my most frequently asked questions are about carbs. And yes, with all the talk of “carbs this” and “carbs that” in the media, it can get a bit confusing. It gets even more complicated when you think you need to keep track of grams of carbs per meal and per day and the “good” vs. the “bad.”
It’s time to rethink how you think about carbs, agreed?!
First, the basics: carbs—and the roles they play in your diet—are actually pretty simple. If it comes from a plant, it’s a carb, and carbs are the preferred fuel source for your muscles and organs. Breads, beans, potatoes, table sugar, fruits, and vegetables are all carbs.
There are two categories of carbs: simple and complex. The simple, not-so-healthy ones are found in foods such as cakes, cookies, some commercially made breads, and many processed foods. Fruits are also considered simple carbs because of the type of sugar they contain, but they’re a healthy choice because they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, antioxidants, and some fiber. Your body breaks down simple, not-so-healthy carbs very quickly, which spikes your blood sugar levels and stimulates the release of insulin, resulting in a craving for more simple carbs. And that is soooo not good!
Complex, healthy carbs – like those found in legumes, root vegetables, whole-grains, cereals, breads and pastas – are typically high in fiber, which slows food digestion and the release of sugars. This keeps your blood sugar and energy levels steady (and longer lasting), so your calorie-burning furnace stays hot and burns more calories! And that is awesome! ☺
So how do carbs fit into our carb cycling program? It’s actually pretty simple. No matter what carb cycle you choose, every breakfast of every day is a high-carb meal, which means you’ll eat a portion each of protein, carbs, and hopefully vegetables. Every breakfast, every day. Your carb can be a grain, a legume, a starchy or root veggie, or a fruit.
On low-carb days, your remaining four meals (spaced every three hours) consist of a portion each of protein, fat, and veggies (think fibrous green veggies, not the starchy, root kind), and on high-carb days, your remaining four meals (spaced every three hours) are made up of a portion each of protein and complex carbs (grains, legumes, starchy or root veggies, or fruits). And if you’re still hungry, you can always throw in a portion of veggies (again, the fibrous greens). Remember: with carb cycling, you can have a portion of fibrous green veggies with every single meal (starchy, root veggies, like potatoes, will fall into the carb category)! Pretty simple, right?
Here’s what it looks like, including some handy portion size helps:
Here’s another great idea that will help with carb confusion: sign up for Chris’s FREE enewsletter at ChrisPowell.com, and you’ll receive a FREE printable food guide that will make choosing foods for your low-carb and high-carb meals even easier!
Here’s the most important take-away about carbs: with carbs and carb cycling, it’s not about a magic number of grams of carbs to eat every day. It’s about spreading your carb intake throughout your high-carb days—using portion sizes instead of gram counts—so your body gets the greatest benefits from those healthy carbs you eat. And wouldn’t you much rather measure portions sizes than count grams? I know I would!
Ask Heidi Anything: Can My Kids Carb Cycle With Me?
POSTED ON October 23, 2013
So many of you want to know, “Can my kids Carb Cycle with me?”
While Carb “Cycling” between high and low carb days is not something I would recommend for a growing child (as their bodies need more healthy fats and carbs than ours), you can rest assured that by keeping carb cycle-friendly foods in the house, you are setting a good example. Our Carb Cycle plan recommends real, whole, natural foods…all things that kids need! By eating these foods, eating in moderation, and eating every 3 hours, we are helping to set a healthy foundation for our families through our own example.
If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, be sure to talk to their pediatrician. They can help you devise a plan specific to them.
For years, carb cycling was a secret weapon used by body builders who wanted to bulk up to build muscle, then melt the calories to cut their final layers of fat. When personal trainers discovered that secret, they began to develop diets utilizing carb cycling principles to help their own clients achieve their weight loss goals. Among those trainers: “Extreme Weight Loss” stars Chris and Heidi Powell. In addition, Chris authored “Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution”.
In a recent interview with the Daily Burn, Heidi explained the principles of carb cycling. She uses it with her weight loss clients, noting that they get “dramatic changes” when they combine carb cycling diets with exercise.
A British study backed Heidi’s discovery of just how well carb cycling works for weight loss. In that study, women eliminated high carb foods twice a week, eating normally the rest of the time. They lost nine pounds during a four-month period, compared to five pounds in four months for women who followed a daily 1,500 calorie Mediterranean diet.
Heidi says that carb cycling works because eliminating carbs causes the loss of both fat and water. But if you totally cut carbohydrates for too long a period, you harm your metabolism. The result: Returning to carbohydrates causes a rebound effect. And that’s what carb cycling prevents.
Through carb cycling, you never deprive your body for too long. Your metabolism functions at its optimum state, shifting to a metabolic fat burning state on low carb days. Here’s how it works:
High carb days provide you with “boost” days to increase metabolism
Low carb days provide you with “burn” days to blast fat fast