Intermittent Fasting Mistakes

Any of these Overlooked Dieting Errors Will Sideline Your Weight Loss

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Intermittent fasting before and after
Intermittent fasting before and after
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In order to lose weight or improve health, a lot of people are ditching traditional diet fad methods and turning to intermittent fasting (IF). There are many motivations for doing this but two seem to pop up over and over. First, traditional diets are hard. They are too food-restrictive which leads to just giving up. Second, the “diet foods” are expensive or hard to come by.

Intermittent fasting solves both of these issues. It is very user-friendly; there are a variety of methods to choose from to accommodate preferences and lifestyles. None make you cut out your favorite foods. You don’t have to be constrained to buy programmed prepackaged meals (as seen on TV) or search high-and-low for specialty items. Eat what you like or check out alternate and affordable dietitian-recommended foods. But, weight-loss on any diet can plateau, and IF is no different. Here are some intermittent fasting mistakes to be aware of.



Intermittent Fasting Trip-Ups

  • Triggering Insulin Spikes. When we are on an IF regimen, the whole point is to keep our metabolism train rumbling along without ingesting anything that causes an insulin spike. Unfortunately, these may not be obvious; hey, it’s just a little thing, right? But no. Consider that splash of coffee creamer. Or, consider that pain pills like Advil that have sugar in the coating. Or, how about swallowing a bit of toothpaste whilst staring gloomily at the mirror? All of these things seem inconsequential, but they effectively break-your-fast (ever wondered where the word “breakfast” came from?).
  • Not Drinking Enough Water. Fasting without drinking circumlocutions your intention. Your damaged cells and/or other wastes that hang out in your body cannot be expelled without H2o giving them the old heave-ho. How much water per day day do you need? It depends on who you ask. But, the Mayo Clinic tells us, “About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.”1 If you just find this much water boring, as many people do, just add some Mio liquid water enhancer drops to it. It has 0 sugar, 0 calories, and tastes great!
  • Breaking Your Fast With Incorrect Foods. When coming off your fast, ingesting the proper types of foods is important. Since your stomach shrinks during a fast and your stomach lining is moderately thin, too much food is a bad idea. Further, you will want to break your fast with a clean protein. Think Bone broth, protein supplements, or milk alternatives like almond milk.
  • Choosing the Wrong Intermittent Fasting Plan (Method). Don’t shortchange yourself and set yourself up for failure. There is a reason there are so many plans. Choose one that suits both your goals and your lifestyle. For example, I started with the 16/8 method. Basically this involves skipping breakfast and eating nothing after 8 PM. It just suits my schedule working from my home office.


  • Eating Too Much During Your Eating Window. This is recognized as the most common trap people fall into with IF. If you’ve chosen a particularly restrictive regimen (ah, optimism) that leaves you hungry for hours of the day, you’re most likely to go a little bit overboard the moment the clock says “It’s time to eat.”
  • Or, You’re Not Eating Enough During Your Eating Window. What? Sure enough, not eating enough is also a real cause of gaining weight, and here’s why. As well as setting you up to eat too much of less-than-healthy items during your eating window, not eating enough cannibalizes your existing muscle mass which in turn causes your metabolism to slow down. Who knew?
  • Ignoring the What in Favor of the When. Yes, this diet plan is time oriented rather than food-choice oriented. But that doesn’t mean all junk food is mana. McDonalds is not your ultimate destiny! When you eat, focus on nutrient-dense food choices. If you are like me, cooking at home with the spirit of invention is fun!

So there you have it; these are the intermittent fasting mistakes. Some are obvious, others are slap-your-forehead so not so much. Remember that if addressing these issues isn’t turning you into the fat-burning machine you want to be, you can always try another IF method.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff, Mayo Clinic, Water: How much should you drink every day?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

5 Foods Dietitians Recommend

For Successful Weight Loss, Focus on Healthy Eating, not Limitation

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Foods that fight nutrient deficiencies
Foods that fight nutrient deficiencies
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Too many so-called weight loss diets focus on limiting what allow ourselves to eat, which sets us up for either failure at worst or a bad experience at best. Another popular approach is intermittent fasting. This helps by focusing on when we eat rather than what we eat. In this article we will take a look at specific foods that we should eat that most of us enjoy and are very versatile.

  • Basil seeds. These might be a little-known member of the culinary landscape (bet you don’t have any in your pantry), but basil seeds offer double the digestion-regulating fiber as chia seeds. Not only that, basil seeds are nutrient-packed. They contain lots of calcium for bone-building, magnesium, and iron, and plenty of inflammation-fighting antioxidant properties. If you can’t find them locally (the kind packaged for food not planting), I get mine on Amazon.com. Nutrineat.com says, “They help maintain the arteries clean and clear. They do not allow cholesterol to stick on the walls of the arteries. Thus, they help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. As the soaked seeds form a thick mass, they make a filling drink. When taken before meals, it can curb overeating. Thus, it can help maintain weight.”1
  • Barley. If you are into grains, barley is a great choice. Similar to oats, bike oats, barley contains soluble beta-glucan fiber that is fantastic for regulating digestion and supporting a healthy gut microbiota. Nutritiondata.self.com says that a one cup serving contains 193 calories, 44.3g carbohydrates, 6.0g dietary fiber, and a low 0.7g total fat.2
  • Eggplant. This vegetable is not only very affordable and available, it lends itself to dishes such as no-fry eggplant Parmesan, a personal favorite. One cup of raw eggplant has just 20.5 calories and 4.8 grams of carbohydrate, about half of which comes from fiber (2.4 grams). There are about 3 grams of naturally occurring sugars in eggplant. Eggplant is a low-glycemic food coming in at a “1” for a single serving. This makes it a great food before a long workout.
No-fry eggplant Parmesan recipe, breading
No-fry eggplant Parmesan recipe, preparation (recipe listed below)
  • Spaghetti squash. This one is also very affordable and easy to find in most grocery stores. Spaghetti squash is an easy-to-prepare, plant-based, low-carb veggie option. It’s high in vitamins B6 and C and fills you up with high-fiber content. And who couldn’t get a bit more fiber in their diet? One cup (150g) of spaghetti squash comes in at just 42 calories and 10 grams of carbs as compared to 220 calories and 43 grams of carbs in standard pasta. All this makes it a great diet choice. Don’t forget to compost those hulls; your ornamental or vegetable garden will thank you.
  • Black beans. Black beans are a gut health superfood because they’re super high in fiber at only 15g per cup. They offer a fermentable resistant starch that helps foster a healthy gut microbiota. The right combo of fiber, protein, and slow-digesting carbs keep your blood sugar stable yielding longer-lasting energy levels. Black beans also contain a number of critical minerals such as zinc, iron and energizing copper.

Adding these 7 foods dietitians recommend for your diet will result in successful weight loss and a more varied diet.

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References

  1. Nutrineat.com, Basil Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds – A Complete and Detailed Comparison, https://nutrineat.com/basil-seeds-vs-chia-seeds
  2. Nutritiondata.self.com, Barley, pearled, cooked Nutrition Facts & Calories, https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5680/2


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

8 Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

And How to Grow Hibiscus for Tea at Home

by Kelly R. Smith

Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
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Hibiscus tea (sometimes called “sour tea”) might not be so well known in the USA but it certainly is in other parts of the world. I’ve been drinking it for a few years now, both for the taste and the health benefits; it’s another item in my toolbox to keep my blood pressure in a reasonable range.. I add it to the grounds of my cold brew coffee maker, sometimes with fresh mint from my garden. Yeah, I know; wild, living on the edge. There are several hundred species of hibiscus plants that vary by the location and climate they are grown in, but Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselles is most commonly used to make hibiscus tea. As a bonus, they are stunning in tropical landscape plantings. But we are here to talk about the health benefits of hibiscus tea.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

  • It lowers blood pressure. This is a big one for me. All blood pressure medications have side effects. For me, I take lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor. It causes coughing and the feeling of being lethargic. Rebekah Edwards says, “A 2013 review by the University of Arizona discovered that hibiscus tea is used in 10 or more countries as a normal hypertension treatment without any reported adverse events or side effects — except in extremely high doses.”1
  • It’s packed with antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are molecules that help fight compounds we call free radicals, which inflict damage to your cells. The National Library of medicine noting their study says, “Hibiscus anthocyanin extract has reducing power that is approximately 2-fold that of the synthetic antioxidant, butylated hydroanisole.”2 Other than hibiscus, many other foods contain them; tart cherries are a good example.


  • It supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides. Dyslipidemia is a type of disorder that is characterized by noticeable changes in plasma lipids or lipoproteins, including two you are probably familiar with: cholesterol and triglycerides. As with blood pressure, hibiscus tea’s ability to reduce high “blood lipids” also extends to those with diabetes. A 2009 study had diabetes patients drink hibiscus tea two times a day for a full month and they found a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a marked decrease in total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • It may help to lower blood fat levels. The National Library of medicine citing a study of sour tea (ST) and black tea (BT) says, “The results of the present study showed that ST has a significant effect on blood lipid profile in patients with diabetes.”3 Many studies have shown that hibiscus tea reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides in people suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome. That said, other studies have shown conflicting results. Obviously, more research is needed in the general population.
  • It prevents oxidative stress. Like most healthy teas on the market, hibiscus is chock full of antioxidants that combat free radical damage caused by substandard nutrient diets and frequent exposure to dangerous chemicals. These antioxidants are found primarily in the anthocyanins of the plant, the natural pigments that give this flower its brilliant red color.
  • It may boost liver health. Your liver is essential to your overall health. Some of its jobs include producing proteins, secreting bile, and breaking down fat. One small human research study found that supplementing with hibiscus tea raised the antioxidant load in the bloodstream as well as reducing compounds that contribute to oxidative stress that damages cells.
  • It shows promise in fighting certain cancers. Although this idea is only starting to gain traction, there is already some evidence to support hibiscus tea’s anticancer power. It has been shown that hibiscus extracts cause apoptosis, or cell death, in leukemia cells. Although the exact mechanisms behind this aren’t clear as of yet, this could be a promising step in the ever-going fight against leukemia, which affects about a quarter of the children and adolescents currently struggling with cancer.
  • It reduces obesity and related risks. How? Human and animal studies have found a link between hibiscus tea and an elevated metabolism. Hibiscus extract may even inhibit you from absorbing as much starch and sucrose as you might from a typical meal. One study in particular gave 36 overweight participants either hibiscus extract or a placebo. After 12 weeks, hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat, body mass index and hip-to-waist ratio


Growing and Preparing Hibiscus for Tea at Home

Test your soil pH in a well-draining area that receives full sun at least six months before planting if possible, and, if needed, amend it using elemental sulfur or dolomitic lime to adjust the pH to between 6.1 and 7.8. The do best in humus-rich soil and full sunlight.

Harvest your flowers after they have bloomed. You want the calyxes (the main body of the flower). They should snap right off. Once you have your harvest, complete the steps to prepare and dry them. This video explains it in detail.

How to process hibiscus flowers for tea

Can you benefit from hibiscus tea? Of course! There’s something for everybody and if you grow your own supply you will save money and be certain it is organic.

Others are Reading

Reference

  1. .Rachael Link, Dr. Axe, Hibiscus Tea: The Antioxidant ‘Therapeutic Agent’ You Should Be Drinking, https://draxe.com/nutrition/hibiscus-tea/
  2. Taofeek O Ajiboye, et al, National Library of medicine, Antioxidant and drug detoxification potentials of Hibiscus sabdariffa anthocyanin extract, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21314460/
  3. Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, et al., National Library of medicine, Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19678781/


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Benefits, Side Effects of L-Arginine

A Dietary Nutraceutical Supplement for Better Health

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Nutraceuticals--ways to get your dietary supplements
Nutraceuticals–ways to get your dietary supplements
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This article was edited on 02/22/21.

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What are Dietary nutraceutical forms of consumables? From Dictionary.com, “a bioactive compound occurring as a food component, additive, or product, including vitamins, dietary fiber, herbal extracts, carotenoids, and probiotics: nutraceuticals are said to promote health and well-being, allegedly helping in the prevention and treatment of disease.”1

Well now, that’s a mouthful. The particular supplement we are interested in this article is L-Arginine. It may not be as commonplace as vitamin C or CoQ102 but the list of health benefits is impressive.

What is L-Arginine?

Under normal circumstances your body naturally produces L-arginine. You can also acquire additional L-arginine as part of your regular diet. But at times, your need for L-arginine may exceed your body’s ability to produce and/or consume it naturally. This nutrient deficiency is often the case for older adults or people with some medical conditions. This is when supplements are helpful, either prescribed or purchased over the counter.

In these cases, you might be prescribed artificial (lab-produced) L-arginine in the form of an oral medication, injections, or skin creams. A number of potential health conditions may benefit from a supplemental intake of L-arginine. It is generally considered safe in moderate and recommended doses, however too much L-arginine carries the potential for severe side effects, up to and including death. Therefore, it is key to consider how the supplement can interact with your body and with other medications prior to taking it. Always consult with your doctor before beginning a regimen.



The Benefits of L-Arginine

It offers two primary effects; First, it turns into nitric oxide and secondly it aids the body in building protein. According to Medical News Today, “These effects give L-Arginine an array of potential benefits that range from heart health and chest pain to helping to build muscles, repair wounds, and improve male fertility. Although there are many claims about the benefits of L-Arginine, not all of them are supported by scientific research studies.”3

However, the following benefits and uses of L-Arginine have been researched:

  • Growth hormone reserve test (a test used if a growth hormone deficiency is suspected.)
  • Correcting inborn errors of urea synthesis
  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Treating erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Treating heart disease
  • Easing inflammation of the digestive tract in premature infants
  • Controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes

The Side Effects of L-Arginine

  • Gout
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood abnormalities
  • Worsening of existing asthma condition
  • Bloating
  • Airway inflammation
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Allergies

As with any drug or supplement, L-Arginine has its own benefits and side effects. It always pays to be in the know about what to expect. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not, nor does it claim to, monitor the safety or effectiveness of any supplements, so it is important to choose a reputable brand that you know and trust.

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Resources

  1. Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nutraceutical?s=t
  2. Kelly R. Smith, I Can Fix Up My Home Blog, Should Runners and Others Supplement with CoQ10?, http://www.icanfixupmyhome.com/WPBlog1/2018/12/05/should-runners-and-others-supplement-with-coq10/
  3. Jenna Fletcher, Medical News Today, The benefits and side effects of L-arginine, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318174#_noHeaderPrefixedContent



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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Delicious Foods To Eat For Weight Loss

by Kelly R. Smith

Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
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You might think, like many people, that losing fat weight is always about specific food deprivation and sticking to a banned list. Generally, the list consists of foods that you love the most. Strategies like intermittent fasting really do work; I’ve been doing it for a couple of months and have lost over 10 pounds. But frankly, it’s just not for everyone. But what if I told you about some delicious foods that are assumed by some to be on the banned list but shouldn’t be? Well, it’s true.

Make the Switch Back to Whole Milk

Dairy fat bad; 2% good. Right? So everyone says. In a study by the American Journal of Nutrition, they concluded that, “We observed that higher intakes of high-fat dairy products but not of low-fat dairy products were associated with less weight gain,which seemed to be driven by intakes of whole-fat milk and butter.”1 Why is that? Essential fatty acids are removed when the milk is skimmed. This is the component that can help you feel fuller more rapidly and stay full longer with full fat products, which cuts down on habitual, excessive overeating. Also, when individuals reduce the fat in their diets, they tend to replace it with sugary beverages and other refined carbohydrates.

Spreads Made From Nuts

Peanut butter, Nutella (chocolate hazelnut), and other nut-based favorites deliver healthy fats and an impressive amount of protein and fiber, as well. Peanut butter offers a blend of 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons along with 2 grams of fiber. The Harvard Gazette reported regarding a study, “The regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should alleviate fears that eating a lot of nuts will lead to overweight.”2 The best way to get nuts into your diet other than toast spreads for breakfast is snacking on a couple spoonfuls of nut butters in between meals to control your appetite. That’s good news for me!

Pasta Is Your Friend

Low-carb diets like the Atkins and Ketogenic diets will help you lose weight lightning-fast, but they have their own issues. They are not really “lifestyle” diets; they are restrictive and what about when you eat out? They rely on ketosis, a normal metabolic process that will cause even teetotalers to blow positive on a breathalyzer test. But whole grain pasta takes a long time to digest, leaving you with a steadier source of fuel to support energy levels.

Get Cracking With Eggs

They are high up there in high-quality protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. They are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food when it comes to both snacks and meals, such as a big omelet. They come in at just 70 calories each so there’s no reason not to enjoy the whole egg, yolk and white combined (shell excluded of course). Yes, egg yolks are a significant source of your dietary cholesterol, but recent studies have now proven that dietary cholesterol has less of an effect on blood cholesterol than was once thought. The most recent evidence suggests that eating whole eggs (in moderation) is safe, and some studies even demonstrate that they may assist in your weight loss when they are eaten in lieu of refined carbohydrates.

Chicken on the Dark Side

You should remove the skin but dark meat poultry (leg and thigh) tends to be more tender, juicy, and rich in flavor than its white meat counterparts. This requires not only less butter or oil to cook it up with, but also less of your favorite sauce or creamy condiments that your breast meat requires. To make things even better, it’s a great source of lean protein that will leave you more satisfied at meal time, so you will be less likely to overeat later. Chicken also makes great jerky if you have a food dehydrator.

The Decadence of Dark Chocolate

One or two squares of this rich, satisfying chocolate will reduce your stress levels and help to curb cravings for other sugar-loaded treats as well. High stress levels has been known lead to cortisol hormone spikes. These increase your appetite and emotional eating behaviors. The desirable benefits of dark chocolate (not regular candy bars) are specific to the concentration of cocoa flavonoids. These have been shown in studies to have multiple health benefits, such as improving blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure. The higher the percentage of cacao, the greater the benefits.



References

  1. Susanne Rautiainen, Lu Wang, I-Min Lee, JoAnn E Manson, Julie E Buring, Howard D Sesso, American Journal of Nutrition, Dairy consumption in association with weight change and risk ofbecoming overweight or obese in middle-aged and older women:a prospective cohort study, https://watermark.silverchair.com/ajcn118406.pdf
  2. The Harvard Gazette, Research also shows people who eat nuts weigh less, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/11/eating-nuts-reduces-risk-of-death/

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

How to Stop Overeating

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Everyday Feasting to Excess

The results of chronic overeating
The results of chronic overeating
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This post was updated on 11/28/20.

It may seem odd — many of us eat way too much at Thanksgiving dinner. And then again on December 25th as if it was a Christmas tradition. And then what? According to the site Wild Simple Joy, the number 1 New Years resolution is to practice intuitive eating. This means, “Make a resolution to sit down and focus on your eating instead of multitasking. Practice listening to your body when you are thirsty, ACTUALLY hungry, and full (or something else, like just tired!)”1 Basically, pay attention and stop overeating!

Strategies to Stop Overeating

  • Don’t wait until you are starving. Many of us are not very good at knowing when we’re hungry until it’s too late. This leads to overeating by over-filling the feed bag and then scarfing it down, going past our fullness level before we realize it.
  • Pose the question — am I hungry enough for an apple? Why? Most of us can always find room for more desert but a piece of fruit? Not so much.
  • Drink a glass of water, ice tea, or cold brew coffee. This will partially fill your gut and trigger the “full” signal sooner. It will also begin to kick in your digestion process.
  • Enjoy your first few bites of your meal. Really tune in to the first few mouthfuls. “Your taste buds desensitize to food within the first few minutes, which make food not taste as good after that last bite threshold,” explains Stephanie Grasso, RDN. “Chewing slowly during those first few bites will not only delay overeating, but also allow you to appreciate the flavor of food at its peak.”
  • Remember that your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Swedish researchers found that, “When blindfolded, subjects ate 22% less food (p < 0.05), had shorter meal durations (p < 0.05), and had less decelerated eating curves (p < 0.05). Despite a smaller amount of food consumed when blindfolded, the reported feeling of fullness was identical to that reported after the larger meal consumed without blindfold.”2 This is most likely because when blindfolded, eaters relied more on internal satiety signals.
  • Eliminate distractions. Turn off your TV, get away from your computer, put your cell phone on silent. It’s difficult to tune into your body’s quiet taste and satiety cues when digital distractions take our focus off of the task at hand: simply eating. It’s easy; just sit at your table with a chair and a plate. This will ground you in a good environment and mind-set for eating intuitively.


  • Balance your meal. The ideal meal includes a mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. This is more likely to satiate you more rapidly and keep you feeling full longer. When meals are balanced, we get shorter-term energy from starchy veggies and grains and longer-term energy from healthy fat and protein. Furthermore, healthy fats (olive oil, avocados) and proteins slow your digestion process, giving your satiety hormones a chance to multiply, signaling that you are getting full. As far as carbohydrates go, shoot for a mixture of whole grains, starchy vegetables, and non-starchy vegetables.
  • Take your time already. As you eat your meal, take time to pause and put your fork down. This will give you an opportunity to pace yourself and determine how full you are. Engage in conversation if you’re dining with someone. Take deep breaths, and have a sip of water or wine. Repeat this process as you eat. Allow yourself visual reminders; after you’ve finished a quarter of your food, to set the fork down and so forth.
  • Manage your stress in other ways. Many of us eat as a reaction to stress as much as we do when we are hungry. The solution? Siphon off that stress at regular intervals. Take myself for example. Here I sit all day long producing hopefully interesting content for you, esteemed reader. My Garmin 235 watch sends me a “move” signal when I’ve had too much butt-time. So I go for a stroll and listen to Audible.com audio books on my iPhone. Sometimes a quarter mile, sometimes a mile and a half. When I get back, bingo! Stress gone, the well of creativity duly refreshed.


  • Avoid “The Last Supper Effect.” Whenever we put a particular food on the banned list, the desire for it goes up. That’s just human nature. If you forbid yourself from eating certain things, you are very likely to overindulge in them while you still can, a phenomenon also known as the “last supper effect.” This can also carry over after you stop eating a given food, during those furtive sneaking episodes.
  • Be aware of and manage trigger foods. We all have foods that trigger overeating and avoiding them can help minimize your chances of overeating. For example, if you know ice cream is likely to trigger a late-night binge or a ravenous episode of overeating, it’s not a good idea to keep it stocked in your freezer. The more difficult it is to get at something, the less likely you will be be to overeat that particular item.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you to stop overeating, during the holiday season and beyond. Get a head start on those New Years resolutions and get a handle on that weight management program you keep telling yourself about.

You Might Also Enjoy:

References

  1. Dawn Perez, Wild Simple Joy, New Year’s Resolution Ideas for Your Best Life in 2021!, https://wildsimplejoy.com/new-years-resolution-ideas-for-personal-development/
  2. Dr. Yvonne Linné, Britta Barkeling, Stephan Rössner, Pål Rooth, Wiley Online Library, Vision and Eating Behavior, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2002.15

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Increase Energy with These 10 Habits

In a Slump? Missing That Get-up-and Go? Turn It around with These Behavior Changes

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Sponge Bob rarin' to go
Sponge Bob rarin’ to go
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We all have times when we feel that our batteries are less than fully-charged. In the dumps. Only firing on four pistons. The mayor of blahville. Whatever you call it, it can be an occasional or chronic disorder. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of people reporting both an elevated feeling of loneliness1 and the lack of energy.

The INDEPENDENT says, “The way in which our lives have transformed in such a short space of time has heavily impacted our daily routines, as many individuals no longer have to wake up at a certain time in order to be punctual for school or work. This has seemingly resulted in an increasing number of people experiencing “grogginess” amid the coronavirus pandemic2.

In a large part, your habits define your energy levels. If you have good habits, you’ll feel energized and be more resistant to burn out, both physically and mentally. On the other hand, if your habits are not lined up properly, you easily fall into a repetitive cycle where you feel worse and worse, until it’s a struggle just to keep up. Let’s look at 10 habits designed to increase your floundering energy levels.

  • Go to Bed Early. Ben Franklin famously said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” It was true then and it’s true now. Regardless of what some night-owls might tell you, seven to eight hours of snooze-time are the gold standard if you’re going to stay cognitively sharp in the long-run. Sleep deprivation is cumulative. WebMD says, “The amount of sleep a person needs goes up if they’ve missed sleep in previous days. If you don’t have enough, you’ll have a “sleep debt,” which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that you start to repay the debt.”3 All sleep is not created equal though. You should aim to get as “deep” sleep as possible. How do you know? I use my Garmin 235 GPS sports watch. See the screenshot from the Garmin Connect site below.
Garmin 235 GPS sports watch sleep analysis screenshot
Garmin 235 GPS sports watch sleep analysis screenshot
  • Work Out at Least Six Days a Week. Working out, like weight loss/maintenance, is is a long-term investment in your energy levels. There is no finish line. It’s easy to slack off in the short-term, but over the long haul you’ll not only be less productive daily but you’ll reduce your overall fitness level, making it harder to think straight and stay alert throughout the day. Furthermore, recent research shows that aerobic exercise improves memory and grows brain cells.4 The reason for six days of activity rather than seven is to give your body a time for rest.
  • Nap Daily. Afternoon naps are not just for kids. Why do we forget that when we turn into “big people?” A twenty-minute nap in the afternoon after lunch is just the thing to top off your energy fuel tank for the afternoon to come. A siesta, if you will. As a special treat, come back with a good cup of strong coffee.
  • Plan Tomorrow’s Schedule of Accomplishments. Don’t make your first morning’s activity planning. It’s counter-productive. If you write down a schedule on the prior afternoon, in the morning you can hit the road running. Start with energy, work on your checklist, and keep up the momentum. Will you get it all done? No; not if you’ve given yourself enough work. Prioritize and do what you can. When it’s time to pull down the shutters and you’ve made the next day’s schedule, put it behind you and relax.
  • Set Long-Term Goals. Why long-term goals? Because they are made up of the sum of a line-up of short-term goals. If you focus on the the energy needed for the short-term goals, the long term ones will take care of themselves.
  • Pay Close Attention to Your Diet. Our primary source of physical energy is the food we eat. So, if you are aiming to keep your energy levels up, you should eat healthfully and organically and try to integrate the most nutritious foods into your diet. The energy that you derive from food is measured in calories. MedicalNewsToday says, “If we don’t consume enough calories our bodies may feel tired, as they don’t have enough ‘fuel’ to run on. At the same time, however, if we get too many calories, there’s a system overload, and we may end up feeling sluggish.”5
  • Indulge Yourself in Some Put Yoga, Meditation. Practicing yoga and meditation will also boost your energy levels. Why? Because these practices focus on techniques like mindful breathing that promote a state of calm which in itself is regenerative. It follows that if if your fatigue is due, at least partially, to elevated stress levels, making time for yoga or meditation as a routine self-care approach will make you more resistant to stressors.


  • Learn to Delegate Tasks. You probably feel stifled by your day-to-day responsibilities — from the small daily chores like as doing the dishes, to the less mundane like an important work project that comes with many ramifications. But if you fail to find a comprehensive strategy to redistribute some of your overwhelming responsibilities, at least from time to time, it will likely result in creeping burnout and a constant sense of fatigue in your day-to-day life. This is not at all conducive to your productivity, happiness, and energy level.
  • Do Your Hardest, Most taxing Work in the Morning. The benefits to your energy here are primarily psychological. Your energy level tends to depend a lot on your mood. If you’ve got some important work to do, your mood is likely to be good which fosters productivity. If your are forced to tolerate wasted time on playing email tag, drawn-out meetings, calls, or fail to produce something of substance, you will be frustrated and exhausted as you enter the second half of your work day.
  • Read Better Books! One of the greatest benefits of reading books isn’t just to impart to you new ideas and information. Consider that it’s to reinforce a state of mind that often occurs at your subconscious level. The best books to indulge in aren’t necessarily those that teach you facts, but those that subtly change your entire thinking patterns.

Adopting these 10 habits will increase your energy level right away and raise it to its full potential as time goes on. It will take constant reinforcement, but what worthwhile endeavour doesn’t?

References

  1. Kelly R. Smith, Loneliness as an Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic, http://www.icanfixupmyhome.com/WPBlog1/2020/07/12/loneliness-as-an-effect-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/
  2. Sabrina Barr, THE INDEPENDENT, Coronavirus: Why do people seem to feel groggy and tired during lockdown?, https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/coronavirus-lockdown-tired-sleepy-fatigue-daylight-routine-a9450196.html
  3. WebMD, How Much Sleep Do I Need?, https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-requirements
  4. Kelly R. Smith, I Can Fix Up My Home Blog, Running Improves Memory, Grows Brain Cells, http://www.icanfixupmyhome.com/WPBlog1/2020/11/14/running-improves-memory-grows-brain-cells/
  5. Medical News Today, How can you boost your energy levels?, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321938

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Turkey Italian Sausage and Peppers Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

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Italian sausage and peppers
Italian sausage and peppers

Yes, I am back in the experimental recipe zone again. So comfortable with my culinary thinking hat on; I have an affinity for Frank Zappa’s Muffin Man. This recipe combines good veggies and spices with Italian sausage but with aorta-healthier turkey rather than pork. I don’t need to further push my high blood pressure. This recipe serves 6 and is ready in about an hour.

Ingredient List

  • 3 tpsp. olive oil
  • 1 tpsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 bell peppers, sliced and diced (why not use all the colors)
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • Himalayan or pink salt to taste (it’s chock full of minerals and nutrients, unlike the regular stuff)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 6 Italian sausages sliced thin (hot or sweet, your choice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced up

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine and mix the vinegar, red pepper, oil, and garlic in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix in the onion and bell peppers.
  4. Put the mixture into a 9″ X 13″ Pyrex dish.
  5. Distribute the sausage on top.
  6. Bake until the sausage is done, about 45 minutes.
  7. Take it out and distribute the basil on top.
  8. Enjoy.

More Recipes

This turkey Italian sausage and peppers recipe is very filling which is good if you have been working out or are on an intermittent fasting routine. It also keeps well in the refrigerator and even makes a tasty sandwich.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

10 Habits Result in a Slow Metabolism

Small Changes to Your Diet and Lifestyle Will Put Your Weight Loss in High Gear

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Where is your metabolism meter pinned?
Where is your metabolism meter pinned?
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This article was updated on 02/07/21.

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It’s no secret that our metabolisms slow down as we age. For most of us that means packing on the pounds. If you want to reverse that course of action, it’s not too late to begin. There’s no need to wait to make a New Years resolution. Just work on this list of bad habits that slow metabolism.

  • Do you skip breakfast? Unless you are practicing intermittent fasting, you shouldn’t. When you sleep, your metabolism slows. A hearty breakfast will kick it back into gear. While you are at it, try to include foods that contain probiotics, like yogurt with active cultures, to keep your gut in balance. Regularity is a good thing!
  • Or, are you eating the wrong things for breakfast? Donuts may be your convenient comfort food, but they aren’t doing you any nutritional favors. What you really need is fiber and protein. I usually go for my homemade bread; it has whole wheat and quinoa for protein and plenty of fiber, what with the steel-cut oats and wheat bran.
  • Are you sitting too much? An excess of butt-time triggers your energy-conservation mode. Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic only makes things worse. I work from home but I’m made aware when I’ve been at the keyboard too long by my Garmin 235 watch. It has a move bar that activates after sitting too long. A stroll around the block is enough to make it go away… until the next time. The National Health Service from the UK says, “Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and break down body fat.”
  • Are you doing enough strength training? Resistance-based exercise keeps your heart rate, and thereby your metabolism, higher after you finish. The American Council on Exercise says, “Whether you lift weights, use resistance bands or use your own body weight for resistance, resistance creates microtears in the muscle tissue. As your body repairs these tears, muscle tissue grows and requires more calories to stay alive.” Cardio activities like running do this as well, just not for as long. Ideally, you should do both cardio and weights.
  • Are you eating enough protein? If not, you aren’t going to be able to build or even maintain muscle mass. As noted above, muscle mass is essential in keeping the motor that is your metabolism humming along. If you are a vegan you will need to be more creative to satisfy your protein needs. My oatmeal flax seed bread recipe is a good source as are beans and quinoa.
  • Are you drinking enough water? Most of us don’t. A study by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that, “Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30–40 min. The total thermogenic response was about 100 kJ.” So drink up.
  • Are you stressed out? If you are then you’re producing the hormone cortisol. The effects? An increased appetite, less desire to exercise, an attraction to comfort foods, and reduced quality of sleep.
  • Are you getting enough dairy products in your diet? Milk, cheese, yogurt, and supplements are critical; research links dietary calcium intake to improved regulation of energy metabolism. The National Institute of Health, citing a Spanish study, concluded that, “Our results show that consuming dairy products is associated with a better metabolic profile in the Spanish population.”
  • Are you sleeping cool? As it turns out, snoozing in a room that’s about a cool 66ºF increases the level of brown fat. This fat is responsible for burning calories to generate heat. So chill out already.
  • Are you eating too much fast food? If you are, you are consuming a lot of high-fat content which takes more time to digest than leaner content. This, in turn, can slow down metabolism and stress compounds the problem.

So there you have it. These 10 bad habits result in a slow metabolism. The good news is that it’s easy to form new habits. So get on with it already.

References

Related Articles



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

A Beginner’s Guide to Weight Loss, Cellular Cleansing, and Detox

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Empty plate symbolizes intermittent fasting for weight loss
Empty plate symbolizes intermittent fasting for weight loss
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This article was updated on 01/09/21.

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Fasting, or abstaining from eating for a period of time, has always had a place in human history. Sometimes it’s for religious reasons. Matthew 6:16-18 does not tell us that we have to fast. However, He expects that we will. He said, “when you fast…” So, just an expectation. But in a broader scope, most people today explore intermittent fasting for weight loss and a method of liver detox. As a bonus, there are other health benefits that we will go into. There’s inspiration on many levels.

Intermittent Fasting Methods

  • The 16/8 method. This is the most popular method primarily because it is the easiest to do. With most of us spending an inordinate amount of time at home and away from fast food distractions because of the COVID-19 pandemic anyway, it’s easy. This method entails eating your first meal of the day at noon (lunch), and the last one around 8 PM (dinner). Do this every day. Water, coffee, and unsweetened tea are fine during your fast.
  • The 5:2 method. Your week looks like this — you eat normally except on Tuesday and Friday where women eat just 500 calories and men just 600 calories. You might have heard it called called the Fast Diet; it was popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley. Dietitians recommend these foods.
  • The eat, stop, eat method. This is just like the 5:2 except that you fast completely on Tuesday and Friday. For example begin fasting after dinner on Monday and go until dinner on Tuesday. You might find this one difficult to stick with this form of diet faithfully but if you resolve to make it a habit it will get easier.
  • The alternate day method. Eat normally one day, fast the next. Repeat. Over and over. In some interpretations, some few calories are allowed on fasting days.
  • The warrior diet. Every day you get to eat a large dinner but only small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day.
  • Spontaneous meal skipping. Here you get to eat normally but skip breakfast one day per week and dinner another day. When you do eat breakfast, try my homemade bread recipe. It’s loaded with good things.

Fasting Affects Your Hormones and Cells

Once you adopt one of these fasting methods and make it a habit, things start happening under the hood. If your main goal is to lose weight and shed pounds, there’s good news — your hormone levels change making stored body fat more available for fuel. Here are some other changes that improve your health.

  • Gene functionality. There are changes in the function of your genes that are related to longevity as well as protection against disease.
  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH) increase. This leads to both fat loss and muscle gain.
  • Cells undergo repairs. As you fast, cells begin cellular repairs including autophagy, which is when your cells digest and eliminate older and dysfunctional proteins that have built up inside cells.
  • Insulin levels change. Your insulin sensitivity gets better and your levels of insulin drop off dramatically. This in turn makes your stored body fat more accessible for weight loss.

Intermittent Fasting Promotes Detox

Intermittent fasting supports your healthy immune function. As you might suspect, healthy immune function is at the center of body detox. First of all, it promotes stem cell function and their ability to renew and repair themselves. Lab studies have shown that fasting correlates with fewer unhealthy cells. One study determined that just 3 days of fasting can quite literally regenerate one’s entire immune system! It showed that as the body “eats up” old immune cells, stem cell activity is increased. Just logical when you think of it. The stem cells then begin to create new immune cells which leads to the anti-aging effects of fasting.

Secondly, intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce the autoimmune response. It promotes cell repair during the cellular re-feeding phase. Third, fasting supports the production as well as the repair of white blood cells. White blood cells are especially important in the lymph system. They fight harmful invaders and work to keep the body healthy.

The take-away from all this is that if you are looking for a way to lose weight while generally improving your health, intermittent fasting is worth looking into. As with anything else, it is always a good idea to run it past your doctor. And when you do eat try to stick to organic food that has undergone minimal food processing if any at all.

References:

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.