Is Sugar A Drug? How Your Body Responds To Sweets

There are many scientists that would classify sugar as a drug. When you learn about how your body responds to sugar intake, you may start to realize that may be true.

Have you ever had such an intense craving for sugar that you said something like “I have to have my fix,” or “I’m addicted to these cookies,”? Often people talk about sugary sweets as if they were a drug, for a good reason! Sugar has addictive properties.

In this post, you’ll learn what is happening in the body when you eat a sweet. This information is beneficial for understanding cravings and eating patterns. It will also help you find ways to take back control and cut down on sweets as a part of your healthy lifestyle.

What Is Sugar, Exactly?

“Sugar” actually refers to several different molecules which come in various formations. There are two basic categories for sugar: single and double.

Within these categories, there are even more sub-categories. The body processes molecules depending on their structure, so each kind of sugar has a particular pathway in the body. We’ll cover the important ones here.

Single Sugars (Monosaccharides)

There are two major kinds of monosaccharides, glucose and fructose, and they are each processed differently in the body.

The first type of single sugar we’ll go over is glucose. Many carbs (like bread) contain the simple sugar glucose. Glucose can be processed in the brain and muscles. When doctors refer to “blood sugar” they are talking about glucose levels. Glucose causes the body to release insulin. It also causes the release of leptin, also known as the “satiety hormone.”

The second type of single sugar is fructose. A common example of a food group that contains fructose is fruit. This type of sugar can only be processed in the liver.

Double Sugars (Disaccharides)

There are three different kinds of disaccharides: sucrose, lactose, and maltose. We’ll focus on sucrose.

Cane sugar (like the kind you find in a sugar bowl, on the countertop) is sucrose.

It is made up of glucose and fructose. For the body to use this type of sugar as energy, an enzyme must first break it down. Next, the body will use the glucose and fructose in separate ways, but at the same time. When this happens, the glucose is used for energy first, and often the fructose is converted to fat for storage.

Sugar, Addiction and the Brain

So, why does all of that matter? It is important because when you read “sugar” on the nutrition label, it could be talking about single sugars or double sugars. What the body does with the sugar you eat depends on what type of sugar it is, as well as how much of it you consume.

Even though the body has an intense, pleasurable reaction to eating foods with sugar, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The body needs a certain amount of glucose to function.

People with low glucose levels can become irritable, dizzy, nauseated, or unconscious. When the body reacts with a sense of pleasure, it can be seen as a response from the body, saying “well done, I needed that desperately to stay alive.”

The problem comes in when the intake of sugar exceeds (sometimes by a great deal) what the body needs to function well. The pleasurable reaction to the sugar intake then becomes disproportionate to the needs of the body.

Sugars trigger the release of two neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin and dopamine. If you reach for sugary treats for a quick fix of these happy hormones, the body might be taking in many calories that it doesn’t need.

When a person feels unhappy, they might look to sugar for a way to raise their serotonin and dopamine levels, when in fact they need something else entirely. Scientists have referred to this phenomenon as “eating for dopamine,” and have found that it can be linked to obesity.

The amount that you eat and the way that you feel has a lot to do with the type of sugar that you are consuming. Glucose, the single sugar that you would find in a bagel, will make the body feel full at lower levels than fructose, for example. You could take in the same amount of sugar in grams from a bagel and an apple, but only feel full after the bagel.

Is Sugar A Drug?

To recap, we’ve covered the fact that different types of sugars create various types of reactions. That is key when it comes to thinking about the addictive qualities of sugar. Behavior is only considered an addiction when it causes harmful effects.

If you repeatedly have the urge to consume carbs when you are hungry, so that you don’t faint, that isn’t an addiction; it is just smart. It crosses over into the addiction category when the effects of your eating become harmful, like obesity.

Addiction is a condition (technically, a “brain disease”) in which a person compulsively seeks a substance even if it causes harm. These conditions are thought of as brain diseases because they change how the brain does its job within the body. In this sense, sugar can be considered addictive, but only when it causes harmful effects.

Taking Back Control

Now that you know the ways that your body is reacting to sugar, do you see any patterns in your eating behaviors? For example, when you feel depressed do you reach for a sugary treat to boost your mood? Do you find that you eat a lot of certain types of food, like sweet fruits, but still don’t feel full?

If these behaviors are creating problems for you, it is time to take back control. Realize that you can get that mood-boost in other ways that don’t involve excessive calorie consumption, like playing with a pet or laughing with a friend.

Eat foods that will help you to feel full in a healthy proportion instead of binging on foods that have been pumped full of fructose but won’t make you feel satisfied.

Sugars create a complex array of reactions in the body. Some of those reactions are addictive and change our brain chemistry. If you are treating sugar like a drug and seeking it out for unhealthy reasons, it is time to curb the habit! Take steps towards ending the addiction.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

10 Foods That Fight Inflammation

Recent research has shown that many common foods may be the culprit for chronic internal inflammation in the body. Next time you go to the grocery store take this list of 10 foods that help fight inflammation.

Do you wish that you had more energy during the day and less pain? Chronic inflammation is a condition that might be draining you of your energy and increasing your pain levels. Doctors have linked chronic inflammation to some of the most common diseases of aging including cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

It is evident inflammation can be damaging, so what can be done to fight it? The good news is that eating certain foods will help your body naturally reduce unnecessary inflammatory responses, which will help you prevent disease, increase energy, and experience less pain. Here are the top ten foods that fight inflammation.

Oranges

You might know that oranges are a great source of vitamin C, but did you also know that they can help your body reduce unnecessary chronic inflammation? This is because they are rich in carotenoids and flavonoids.

Carotinoids provide the orange with the bright orange hue that it is named after. Other foods with this bright orange coloring also have carotenoids, and will help the body fight inflammation. Examples include carrots, orange bell peppers, and peaches.

To get the most anti-inflammatory benefits from an orange, eat it raw. Oranges are delicious on their own or can be chopped into a fruit salad or mixed in with a green salad.

Tomato

Tomatoes can help the body fight inflammation and have been researched extensively for their role in cancer prevention. What makes the lycopene in tomatoes so great? Lycopene helps the body by inhibiting the inflammatory response. Lycopene is a red toned carotenoid, and many other bright red foods like watermelon and papaya have it as well.

Sardines

According to experts from Harvard, fatty fishes such as Tuna, Salmon, Salmon, and Mackerel can fight inflammation in the body. The fats in cold water fish contain marine omega three fatty acids, which interrupt the inflammatory response.

Research shows that marine fatty acids lower inflammation by changing the way cells produce cytokines and T cells in response to perceived intruders. Sardines are an excellent source of omega-3’s because smaller fish have lower mercury levels than larger fish.

Though an anti-inflammatory diet is important to your health, so is avoiding mercury poisoning! Mercury can be harmful to your health. When you begin including fish in your diet in order to get those healthy marine fatty-acids, be sure to keep track of your weekly mercury intake and stay within recommended limits.

Cumin

The spice cumin contains a nutrient curcumin, which has proven antiinflammatory qualities. Studies have shown that curcumin can reduce instances of inflammation in cases of edema, ulcerative colitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Osteoarthritis.

Cumin is a spice commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, but it has infused western culture as well. This is particularly the case lately as more and more health experts give praise to this herb.

Sprinkle cumin on a bowl of rice, spinach, and tofu for a simple addition to your meal that will give lots of anti-inflammatory benefits. Cumin can also be taken as a supplement in the form of a capsule, or mixed into drinks and smoothies.

Spinach

Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, and bok choy are rich in anti-oxidants, and vitamin K. Research has shown that vegetables high in vitamin K have lowered the markers of inflammation significantly.

Eat spinach raw to get the most nutrients out of every serving. Spinach can be tossed with other lettuces, avocado, dried cranberries, almonds and mandarin oranges to make a super anti-inflammatory salad!

Almonds

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews are high in monosaturated fats which have antiinflammatory abilities. Nuts are high in calories and fat, so they should be consumed moderately as a part of your balanced diet. Raw, unsalted nuts deliver the most anti-inflammatory benefits.

Raw nut butter is a great option for consuming almonds that makes it easy to include monounsaturated fat in your meals. Spread two tablespoons of almond butter on your next apple-slice snack, and reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.

Strawberries

Strawberries and other colorful berries are an excellent source of antioxidants, red carotenoids, and vitamin c. The anti-oxidants in strawberries may help fight inflammation because of their ability to reduce the number of potentially harmful, inflammationtriggering free radicals in the body.

Add organic, raw strawberry slices to your next bowl of oatmeal, or have them tossed with blackberries and blueberries for a sweet and healthy dessert.

Beans

Beans have a high volume of fiber per serving. Fiber is known for helping the body by sweeping out the intestinal tract and promoting weight loss. You may not know it, but fiber also helps the body prevent inflammation.

This is because it lowers the levels of  Creactive protein that the liver produces. C-reactive protein is correlated with inflammation in the body. Since beans are low-fat and budget-friendly, they are a great option for an anti-inflammatory diet.

Cherries

Research confirms that cherries help the body fight chronic inflammation. One study showed that the consumption of 45 cherries a day, for 28 days in a row led to a significant decrease in 8 markers of chronic inflammation.

Another study discovered the fact that cherries contain anthocyanins, antioxidants, and bioflavonoids, which together provide the same anti-inflammatory affects as Advil, but without the side effects.

Olive Oil

Studies have shown that olive oil can produce some of the same effects in the body that ibuprofen produces. It can stop the production of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, both of which trigger the inflammation response.

Since experts recommend cutting margarine from the diet entirely when you are trying to beat inflammation, olive oil can step in as the perfect substitute.

Inflammation is a natural response that the body puts together in response to perceived threats. This natural response can become problematic when it is chronic and unnecessary. Instead of protecting the body, it can lead to diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Food provides us with an excellent way to fight chronic inflammation. Add powerful, anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to lower your inflammation levels.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Diet Strategies: Why Eating a Variety is Crucial

Don't try those crazy bodybuilding diets that tell you to "eat chicken and broccoli 6 times a day". A healthy diet needs to have plenty of variety in order to be sustainable long term.

The food pyramid used to be posted everywhere. Do you remember examining it on the back of a cereal box at some point or learning about it in school? I do!

But as the information age continues to expand our awareness of nutrition and health, you might have noticed that things aren’t so simple anymore. People these days use a variety of diet programs, like veganism, the Paleo diet, and the Ketogenic diet, to find the right balance between food groups.

But no matter what diet you choose, one thing remains certain: eating a variety of foods is crucial. The human body is built to function optimally on a mix of nutrients, and variety allows you to meet all of those needs healthily.

What are the Benefits of Eating a Variety of Foods?

Eating a variety of foods isn’t just a way to prevent boredom. There are many benefits to that come with getting lots of variety in your diet.

When you eat a variety of foods, you are more likely to meet the nutrient needs of your body. Each nutrient has its job to do within the body. For example, vitamin B12 and Vitamin B9 work together to help the body build red blood cells. Protein is a nutrient that helps the body make structural units, like hair, skin, and muscle cells. Glucose is used in the brain to help fuel cellular activity.

Each nutrient has a particular job in the body, and no food contains all of the nutrients. For example, a grapefruit has plenty of vitamin C, but no vitamin b12. A piece of chicken has protein in it, but no vitamin C.

You can see that eating only chicken would lead to some serious problems! As would eating only grapefruit, or only any food, for that matter. As you introduce variety into the diet, you start to build a combination of nutrients that will take care of all of the needs of the body, not just some of them.

The best way to ensure that you are giving the body what it needs is to eat a wide variety of foods that deliver all of those individual nutrients that your body requires.

What Can Happen If You Don’t?

You might remember from your history lessons that vitamin-C induced Scurvy killed more sailors than the civil war. But the problem of missing out on nutrients isn’t just for the history books. It is still a major problem today.

Researchers estimate that 1 billion people across the globe have a vitamin D deficiency, even in developed countries. This lack can cause rickets, among other things. Vitamin B depletion was found in about 15% of the US population aged 20-59. This nutrient deficiency can cause tingling sensations, fatigue, and weakness, among other things.

Potassium, Iron, and Magnesium are more examples of nutrients that have high incidences of depletion, even in developed countries like the US, which can cause health problems.

How to Add More Variety to Your Meals

It has been proven scientifically that the human brain loves things that are familiar. Our minds seek out routines because they feel safe. Because of this, it’s easy to slip into a pattern of eating the same thing over and over.

This is particularly the case for people who are focused on achieving a particular diet goal, and find one meal program that seems to “work.” They’ll eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner day after day thinking that they are doing the right thing by sticking to the program.

When you fall into a rut like that, you miss out on the variety that is necessary for health. Here are some ways that you can add variety to your meals:

See Your Patterns

If you don’t know you’re stuck in a rut, you won’t try to get out of it. Be honest with yourself as you look at your eating patterns. Do you prepare the same three or four meals for dinner each night, because you’ve got the recipe down pat? It is time to switch things up! Get a cookbook and try out some new meals.

Be Open to New Things

Be open to experiencing new foods and ingredient combinations. Fermented foods are rich in necessary enzymes, Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and b-vitamins. Asian and Ukrainian dishes are a great place to look for fermented foods recipes.

Indian dishes are often prepared with cumin. This ingredient contains iron, an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin B1. If you regularly opt not to eat Indian foods, you could be missing out on these beneficial nutrients. Open up to new dishes for more variety in your diet.

Get Educated

If you stick to a few staple meals, and rarely switch things up, it might be because you only know of a few healthy foods and are afraid to add in anything new because it might be unhealthy. Instead of living in fear, learn more about health and nutrition so that you can feel confident expanding your menu.

Create Colorful Plates

A straightforward trick for creating variety in your meals is to aim for a colorful plate.For example, if you have a meal with tan chicken breast, brown rice, and carrots, you can add in some cilantro, a few beets, and slices of red pepper to meet this colorful plate ideal.

Variety is crucial to a healthy diet. Our bodies require a diverse range of nutrients for optimal functioning, yet no one natural food offers them all. To get the right nutrients, we need to eat many different kinds of foods that each have a unique composition.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

5 Things You Need to Know About Protein

Protein protein protein! Everyone always says make sure your eating enough protein. Here are the five basic things you may not have known about protein.

We eat protein every day. This macronutrient is necessary to build muscles and body tissue. People require more protein during infancy and childhood than they do as adults.

Protein helps keep your nails skin and hair looking healthy. It helps women maintain proper hormonal balance and stabilize men’s libidos. Practically all Americans get enough protein from their food. Protein deficiency is rare in developed countries.

Here are five things you need to know about protein and why it’s so important for health.

1. Protein from Food Supplies Your Body with the Nine Essential Amino Acids

Protein exists in every cell of your body. When you eat eggs, meat, cottage cheese, or any other protein-filled food, your body turns the protein into amino acids, the building blocks of life. Amino acids build muscle and help your body metabolize fats.

There are nine essential amino acids you get from food since your body can’t manufacture them on its own. These amino acids are:

  • Leucine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine
  • Threonine
  • Lysine
  • Histidine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Isoleucine

The Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) valine, leucine, and isoleucine help prevent muscles from breaking down when you exercise, and they may also release human growth hormone.  Weightlifters and bodybuilders often take supplements containing BCAAs during training to support muscle growth.

Beef, fish, turkey, and pork are just a few protein-rich foods containing BCAAs. When you eat these foods, you’re working to keep your muscles strong even when you’re not exercising. The USDA’s Choose My Plate program contains more information about protein and foods that provide essential amino acids.

2. Most People Get More than Enough Protein From Their Regular Diet

That means most Americans get twice as much protein as they need. It’s easy to see why. Most people consume milk, yogurt, meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts and other diet staples several times a day.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein for adult men is 56 grams. Women need 46 grams, and pregnant or breastfeeding women need 71 grams. Children need 19 to 34 grams a day.

Consume 10% of your daily calories from protein, but not more than 35%. You should eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, according to the Food and Nutrition Board. Competitive athletes need 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilograms of body weight, and recreational athletes need 1.1 to 1.4 grams.  

Research by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) shows many Americans get twice the amount of protein they need. Men 20 and over get 101.9 grams of protein a day, with women getting 70.1 grams per day.

Cut back on protein if you’re in this group. Consider replacing the excess protein with magnesium-rich spinach or kale. (About 70% of Americans lack the proper amount of magnesium in their diets.)      

It’s not known how consuming too much protein will affect you, since it depends on the type and amount of protein consumed and the individual’s medical history. However, it’s best to avoid high-protein diets and refrain from consuming 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Overeating protein may cause dehydration, weight gain, constipation, and in rare cases kidney stones.

Eating 200 to 400 grams of protein in a day may make it difficult for the liver to create urea, a waste product made from excess nitrogen.

3. Vegetarians Can Get Enough Protein from Plant Sources

With all the focus on meat, dairy products, and poultry, we sometimes forget that non-animal foods have protein as well. Soy, peanut butter, beans, and almond milk are just a few vegetarian sources of protein.

Check out these sources of plant-based protein if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. (Meat-eaters can save calories by including some of these foods in meal plans instead of meat or dairy.)

One cup cooked lentils = 18 grams protein
One cup split green peas = 8 grams protein
Three tablespoons hemp seeds = 10 grams protein
One-quarter cup nuts = 7 to 9 grams protein
One cup black beans = 15 grams protein

A study conducted on over 80,000 women showed that women who consumed protein mainly from vegetable sources had a 30% lower risk of heart disease than women who ate high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets.

4. Post-workout Protein Contributes to Muscle Growth

Bodybuilders and others who engage in intense workouts should consume 10 to 20 grams of protein within 60 minutes after exercising. Weightlifting and other vigorous exercise break down muscles. That’s why drinking whey protein shake after a workout can help protein better adhere to muscles.

Consuming more protein (via food and protein powders) will not increase muscle mass unless it’s combined with strength training and an all-around balanced diet.

Protein powders offer an easy way to get high-quality protein, especially for athletes and people who want to lose weight. However, athletes and dieters can get enough protein from their food, so protein powder is only necessary for a few situations. Here are a few people who can benefit from using protein powder:

  • Teen new to working out
  • People recovering from injuries
  • Vegans and vegetarians
  • Athletes increasing their workout schedule

5. High-protein diets can cause high cholesterol and heart disease

Eating a large steak for dinner and a bacon cheeseburger for lunch, with peanut butter parfait for dessert, may do more than pack on muscle. For example, hot dogs and sausage contain protein, but they’re also heavy in sodium, which can raise your blood pressure. Certain cuts of meat contain saturated fat, which can cause heart disease if you overeat these foods over a long period.

Be mindful of the type of foods supplying the protein in your diet and how much of it you eat.  Choose tuna, salmon, beans, eggs and other healthy sources of protein over fatty meats.

Eat an assortment of high-protein foods daily (along with other healthy foods) to feel satiated and avoid overeating the rest of the day. Protein also increases your metabolism, causing you to burn more fat. Lastly, make sure you eat a combination of plant protein and lean meat protein. A healthy mix will make your body run more efficiently, helping you acheive your fitness and weight lose goals.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

The Staple Foods of the Paleo Diet

New to the Paleo diet? To clear up any confusion, here is a basic overview along with the list of foods that you can eat and those you should avoid.

Any fresh, whole food that comes straight from nature is one of the staple foods of the Paleo diet. The Paleo food list consists of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. It’s not Paleo if it’s processed. Some people refer to the Paleo diet as the Caveman diet because the recommended foods are similar to what cavemen ate in prehistoric times. 

Let’s take a look at the major Paleo foods and why you should eat them. You can make many delicious main and side dishes using the foods from the following list.

Fish

Any fresh, wild-caught fish provides you with heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, protein and Vitamin D. As long as you swap out fish as a main dish with poultry and red meat, you won’t need to worry about excess mercury. The Paleo diet is based on real, unprocessed foods, so get used to eating  whole tuna as opposed to canned tuna. Studies show eating fish reduces your chance of heart attacks and strokes.

To keep things interesting, choose from the following fish when making meal plans:

  • Red Snapper
  • Swordfish
  • Trout
  • Shrimp and other shellfish
  • Cod
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Tuna

That’s not a complete list, of course, you’ll find a lot more in the seafood section of your supermarket.

Poultry and Meat

Red meat and poultry supply B-complex vitamin, especially energy-boosting Vitamin B12.

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Pork Chops
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Ground beef
  • Bison
  • Bacon
  • Pheasant
  • Quail
  • Eggs

…and much more.

Turkey is a great protein source, and it also contains niacin and Vitamin B6 to boost the body’s energy production. Eating turkey on a regular basis lowers cholesterol, and it has the amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin to relax you and improve your immune system. 

Chicken provides plenty of B vitamins, selenium, zinc, magnesium, choline and iron. A skinless, boneless chicken breast has 31 grams of protein.

 Pork contains 25.7 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. It also contains 0.07 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids and four important B vitamins – Vitamins B6, B12, Thiamin, and Niacin. A 100 gram serving of pork has 2.39 mg of zinc and 148 mcg of selenium (212% of the daily value).

 Beef comes from mammals and has more iron than chicken or fish. The Paleo diet includes ribs, roasts, and steaks made from various red meats. Processed meats, like sausage and jerky, are discouraged. Lean beef contains iron, zinc, B vitamins, and all essential amino acids. Eating beef is recommended when you are recovering from surgery, and athletes also need plenty of it to build muscle.

 Eggs provide cheap, high-quality protein. They contain Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, selenium, and phosphorus, but are also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. One large egg contains 17.5 IUs of Vitamin D, 244 IUs of Vitamin A, and 23.5 mcg of folate.

Vegetables

Perhaps the most important part of this (or any) diet is vegetables. These are common veggies to make sure you include in your daily nutrition.

  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Swiss chard
  • Beets
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Broccoli
  • Squash

Vegetables are low in fat and calories and high in fiber. Eat one to four cups of fresh vegetables daily to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Low-cholesterol spinach is rich in most vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, iron, Vitamins C and K and potassium. Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables due to its high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and anti-cancer agents like glucoraphanin, beta-carotene, selenium, and diindolylmethane.

Fruits

Some people may complain about adding more vegetables to their diet, but few people don’t love at least a few types of fresh fruit. Here’s a partial list of the fruits you can eat on the Paleo diet.

  • Bananas
  • Coconut
  • Apples
  • Tangerines
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Watermelon
  • Cherries
  • Pineapples
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Plums

Fruits add plenty of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium to your diet. Oranges, grapes, grapefruit, and bananas are high in folate (also known as folic acid). Folate helps form red blood cells and prevents congenital disabilities.

The phytochemicals in fruit help guard against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Eat fruit for snacks to supply natural sugar and energy. Eat one to two and a half cups of fruit a day for optimal health.

Nuts, Seeds, Spices and Dried Herbs

All nuts, seeds, mushroom, dried herbs, and spices are considered Paleo-friendly. Anything that’s not processed; that you can get from the ground, a tree or plant, or in the wild is a Paleo food.

Chocolate, coffee, and alcohol are allowed as an occasional indulgence. Coffee beans and cocoa beans come from plants. Alcohol has been consumed for centuries, and is made from fermented sugar or starch.

Consider the pros and cons of these foods before adding them to your Paleo diet.

The Do Not Eat List

As with most diet plans, there are a handful of things to avoid. While following Paleo, try your best not to touch:

  • White potatoes*
  • Wheat flour
  • Sugar
  • Pasta
  • Processed foods
  • Dairy
  • Cereal
  • Candy
  • Peanuts and other legumes

*Some Paleo experts include white potatoes, while others allow it. The choice is up to you.

Essential Paleo Pantry Foods

Even Paleo foods could use a bit of sprucing up with sauces and spicy garnishes. Here are a few Paleo-approved pantry foods to make your meals more enjoyable.

Seaweed is more than a garnish in your miso soup. All seaweed varieties contain essential minerals and nutrients, including chlorophyll, B vitamins, and iodine. Eating salad or soup made with seaweed adds flavor to meals, but doesn’t add many calories.  Two tablespoons of Wakame have five calories; two tablespoons of kelp have four calories. 

Even though wheat flour and regular baked goods are Paleo no-nos, you can still use almond flour, coconut flour, or another type of nut flour to make thick sauces or bread pork chops or chicken. Check out this Almond Flour Biscuits recipe.

A Paleo diet allows eggs, but not cheese. Substitute nutritional yeast if you miss making cheese omelets or quiche. A flaky, vitamin-heavy substance full of amino acids, nutritional yeast is often used by vegans to replace cheese in recipes. Buy nutritional yeast online or at health food stores.

Use unsweetened cocoa powder as a sugar substitute to make chocolate chili or other recipes. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate provides taste and nutrition. Dark chocolate can even help lower blood pressure.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

3 Great Things to Eat Before Bed to Build Muscle

Evening cravings are possibly one of the hardest parts about eating clean and healthy. Here are three great options for nighttime snacks that you don't have to feel guilty about.

Amino acids, along with exercise and weight training, help build muscles. Eating protein-rich foods at bedtime lets your body produce amino acids to repair muscles while you sleep. Since you spend about one-third of your life sleeping, eating protein every night before bed will allow you to maintain healthy muscles.

You want to eat something that will relax you, but you also need a snack that will help you build muscle overnight. Caffeine, sugar and excess salt are out of the picture. You need food that’s proven to make you calm and produce amino acids. Remember to eat the right amount of protein-rich foods during the day for your age, sex and activity level. Drink a whey protein shake within an hour after an intense workout to repair overworked muscles.

Check out three great things to eat before bed to build muscle and keep amino acids in your bloodstream while you sleep.

1. Greek Yogurt and Other Dairy Products

You’ve probably heard that drinking a glass of milk at bedtime can make you sleepy, but eating dairy products before you doze off can also help you build muscles.

Drink a tall glass of low-fat milk before bed )eight grams protein) with avocado toast – or avocado spread on a bagel.  A cup of sliced avocado has 2.9 grams of protein, 4.6 grams of dietary fiber, plus magnesium, Vitamin K, folate, potassium and Vitamin B6. It’s also a great source of Vitamin E and heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.     

Greek yogurt is a lot creamier than regular yogurt because it lacks the liquid whey, sugar, and lactose of thinner, plain yogurt.   Both types of yogurt are full of calcium and protein, but six ounces of Greek yogurt has 15 to 20 grams of protein, compared to 9 grams in the same amount of regular yogurt.

Sprinkle chia or flax seeds in your Greek yogurt for even more protein – and fiber-power. Chia seeds contain fiber, antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids and two tablespoons contain four grams of protein. A cup of Greek yogurt and two tablespoons of Chia seeds has 24 grams of protein and 14 grams of carbohydrates.

Flax seeds add plant-based Omega 3s and six grams of protein to your already-muscle building Greek yogurt. A three-tablespoon serving of flax seeds contains 30% of the RDA for magnesium, 31% of the RDA for Vitamin B1 and eight grams of fiber. 

Eat low-fat cottage cheese with a handful (one ounce) of almonds. Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fats, six grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber and 20% of the daily recommended value of magnesium. The fiber fills you up, and the protein slows digestion to  provide you with amino acids bit by bit.

Add a cup of nonfat cottage cheese, which has 15 grams of protein to your bedtime snack for a total of 21 grams of protein. Add a few more almonds or more cottage cheese if you like for more protein.

For another low to low-prep snack, eat a few slices of reduced fat cheese with chopped raw carrots, broccoli or celery. Choose low-fat mozzarella cheese (32 grams of protein per cup) or goat cheese (31 grams protein per cup) for the biggest muscle-building power.

2. Canned Tuna or Fish

For a quick and easy snack, open a can of water-packed tuna and add a teaspoon or two of olive oil. A drained can of water-packed light tuna has 39.3 grams of protein (79% of the suggested daily value). Eat half the can and save the other half for lunch the next day if that’s too much pre-bed protein for you. Tuna is also high in choline, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6. One can of tuna has 102% of the daily value of niacin.

Eat a piece of salmon left over from dinner, or cook a fresh piece with olive oil. Salmon is incredibly nutritious, with a four-ounce serving of wild-caught salmon containing 53.1% of the daily recommended value for protein and a whopping 55% of the DV for Omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon also has 127% of the daily value of mood-boosting Vitamin D.

Less popular types of fish also provide muscle-building protein. Halibut, snapper, and tilapia contain 26 to 29 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. Eat with a few raw veggies for a before-bed snack.

3. Peanut Butter

Everybody loves peanut butter – and as a bonus, it’s good for you. Natural peanut butter or any nut butter (cashew, almond, hazelnut) has good fats that fight Type 2 diabetes, prevent weight gain and even increase metabolism when eaten in moderation. Two tablespoons of protein have eight grams of protein.

Increase the protein content of a peanut butter snack before bedtime by making a smoothie using whey protein powder. Combine peanut butter (or any nut butter), ice, and whey protein powder in a blender for a nighttime drink with up to 35 grams of protein per shake. You can also add bananas or other ingredients for a different taste and other nutrients.

Eat peanut butter on whole wheat crackers with a soft or hard boiled egg. We usually think of eggs as a breakfast item, but they’re loaded with protein and easy to prepare any time of day. One large egg has 70 calories and contains six grams of protein, along with choline, selenium, biotin, Vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and iodine. Peanut butter on crackers and a large egg will give you 14 grams of protein or more, depending on how many crackers you eat.

Prepare a late-night omelet if you have the energy. An omelet made with two eggs, two egg whites and grass-fed butter has 24 grams of protein and 215 calories. Add a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter instead of crackers for even more protein.

When you don’t have enough time to cook anything before bed, or if you’re on the road, carry a few protein bars with you to eat before you go to sleep. Choose a sugar-free bar that’s relatively low in calories, and stick to one bar per night.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Why You Need a Cheat Meal

Great news: when you are trying a new diet or staying strong with healthy eating, it is totally OK to indulge in a cheat meal every once in awhile.

Whether you’re on a weight loss diet or committed to healthy eating, it’s okay to cheat once in a while. Any diet can survive an occasional cheat meal. Reducing daily calories lowers carbohydrates and can leave you feeling weak and hungry. All those changes in your body due to your diet – and increased exercise – come at a cost.

Scientific research shows cheat meals are necessary because they help you maintain your energy when you are on a prolonged, moderated diet. Without an occasional high-calorie treat, cravings may get the best of you and undo all the hard work you’ve put into your diet.

Cheat Meals Regulate Appetite Hormones

A temporary binge meal can help regulate leptin, the hormone that regulates hunger and energy in your body. Your leptin level decreases, slowing down your metabolism when your body has fewer calories to nourish it. Eating a cheat meal aids weight loss by temporarily convincing your body it has enough food.

Ghrelin, a peptide hormone, and appetite stimulant, is increased when you exercise heavily or restrict your diet, causing intense hunger cravings.  Extreme low-calorie diets may cause your ghrelin levels to rise, making you binge on unhealthy food.

A temporary boost in calorie intake can regulate the levels of leptin and ghrelin in your body. Leptin (and energy) increase by up to 30% in healthy females, after they ate carbohydrates, according to one study.

Other facts about leptin and ghrelin:

  • Leptin levels are low when you’re thin, and higher when you gain weight.
  • The thinner you are, the faster leptin decreases when you don’t eat. The leptin that remains is bound and unable to create energy and suppress appetite.
  • The appetite-suppressing hormone leptin and its appetite- stimulating opposite ghrelin experience significant changes after you fast for one to three days.

A Cheat Meal Reduces Cravings

An occasional cheat meal stops the cravings caused by a restricted diet. Mainstream diets with lists of allowed and restricted foods cause many dieters to cheat more often than recommended or go off the diet completely.

Studies show that flexible dieting, which allows cheat meals and a large number of foods, works better than rigid dieting, which allows dieters to eat only certain foods. Restricted diets are more likely to cause eating disorders and higher BMIs.

A Reward for Being Good All Week

Reward yourself for sensible eating all week can stabilize your hunger cravings and keep you on your diet. A 2014 review of various studies published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found cheat meals and other dietary rewards offered positive short-term changes in appetite and eating behaviors.

Without a reward, dieting becomes boring and monotonous. Cheat meals give you something to look forward to and make it easier to continue your diet for the rest of the week – or until your next scheduled cheat meal. 

A reward system works if you eat an occasional cheat meal and don’t abuse the privilege. You may need to cut down or eliminate cheat meals if you find that they become larger and more frequent. Cheat meals are a happy break, but you still need discipline and willpower to stay on your diet for the long haul.

Schedule Small Cheat Meals

Plan your cheat meals; don’t wing it. A cheat meal should add extra calories without going overboard. You can replace your regular meal with a cheat meal at home, or have your cheat meal at a restaurant with friends.

Use common sense when planning a cheat meal. A few pieces of mushroom, olive and meatball pizza is more well-balanced (and probably has fewer calories) than a pint of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream.

Eat a steak with baked potatoes and creamed spinach, a chicken burrito or a cheeseburger (preferably without the bun) to satisfy your cravings while enjoying a well-balanced meal.

Instead of eating a full cheat meal, you could add 200-300 calories to your count for a few days, and eat a few cookies or a croissant. This method gives you something to look forward to more often, even though it’s not a full meal.

The 90/10 System

Experts agree that 90% of your meals and snacks should be healthy, with 10% allotted for fun cheat foods (pizza, ice cream sandwiches, fried chicken, etc.).

As long as you follow the 90/10 rule, you can eat an occasional junk food snack or high-calorie meal, without throwing off your diet.  You’ll feel satisfied and be less likely to crave “bad food” later in the week. Use cheat meals to keep your diet and appetite on track. Don’t get greedy and have “cheat days.” The 90/10 rule allows for three or four cheat meals a week if you eat five small meals a day, seven days a week.

Stick to the 90/10 rule if you want to lose a lot of weight. It might be a good idea to follow the rule even if you’re at your ideal weight.

How To Avoid Cheating Too Much

You’ll need to disrupt your diet a lot to gain weight, even if you’re not especially adept at self-control. Eating out one or two nights a week may add up to 2,000 calories (the average restaurant meal is 1,000 calories), but you’ll need to eat out every night for a while to gain five pounds.

Don’t feel you need to stick to your diet when you’re at a birthday party or traveling. Enjoy the moment, and get back on track when you get home.

Limit yourself to one cheat meal a day. Avoid placing all your cheat meals one right after the other. A healthy breakfast and lunch followed by a dinner with co-workers aren’t as bad for your diet as three cheat meals in a row.

Reset your body after a cheat meal by eating potassium-rich bananas and avocados to reduce bloating and sodium levels, or eat broccoli, which contains detoxifying glucoraphanin.

Consistency in your diet is better for your gut microbes, so stick to the same cheat foods on a regular basis. Have pizza every Thursday night or go out with your friends for Mexican food and margaritas on Monday.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Recovery Fuel: What to Eat Post Workout

You just had a great workout and now need a healthy meal to get the proper nutrients to fuel your body. Let's discuss post workout nutrition to optimize your recovery.

You care about your body, and your workouts show it. If you shower your body with the love and attention of a good sweat session, you definitely don’t want to negate it by eating the wrong foods afterwards, or not eating at all.

Studies show that the right foods eaten post-workout can enhance the workout that you complete, while the wrong recovery program could take away from it. So what are the best recovery foods? Here is a thorough guide that will help you make the right choices when it comes to refueling.

Why Eating The Right Recovery Fuel Is Important

Why is eating the right kind of recovery fuel important? When you exercise, you are training your body to work in new ways, whether that is your heart, lungs, bones, ligaments, or muscles in the body. The body is responding to your training by actually reshaping and restructuring these components.

As your body becomes transformed through exercise, your cells break down, change and grow. All of this activity requires fuel — but not just any fuel. Your body can repair and rebuild best with the right foods for fuel. The kind of fuel your body needs will depend on the type of workout you do.

Support Your Body Based On What Kind Of Workout You Completed

We can divide workouts into two groups: cardio (like hiking, biking, or running) and strength training (like weightlifting). The nutrients that your body needs to recover from each of these types of workout is different.

Understanding Post-Cardio Workout Nutrition

After a cardio workout, your body will need carbs, proteins, liquids and electrolytes. The carbs and protiens should be eaten in a ratio of  3:1 or 4:1. This might seem like a lot of carbs to you, so let’s look at the reasoning behind this refueling plan.

The biggest need that your body has after a workout is refueling glycogen stores. Glycogen comes primarily from carbohydrates.  Cardio workouts use up glycogen stores in your body.

Your body needs glycogen, which is just a form of readily available fuel,  to fire off movements.. If glycogen stores are depleted and not replenished, the body has to look for fuel elsewhere, including your muscles, leading to a loss of muscle mass. Because of this it is important to eat carbs which will help your body restore its optiamal glycogen levels.

Another important requirement after cardio training is muscle repair.  This can be accomplished by eating the right amount of protein for your particular body weight. A general rule of thumb is to aim for at least 10 -35 grams of protein.

Timing Your Post-Cardio Nutrition

Research shows that it is best to replenish those glycogen stores (so that your body doesn’t start breaking apart your muscles for fuel) as soon as possible, and at least within 60 minutes after your cardio workout. This period is when the body can best turn the fuel that you eat into glycogen for later use.

Depending on the time of day that you work out, you might want to either replenish your glycogen stores by eating a 100-300 calorie snack, or (if it is meal time) digging into a larger dish.

Post-Cardio Snacks

Here are some perfect refueling snack options:

  • Banana or apple with almond butter
  • Packaged recovery shake with a high carb to protein ratio
  • Whole wheat crackers with peanut butter or cheese on top
  • Whole grain breakfast cereal with Greek yogurt mixed in

Post-Cardio Meals

If you can have a meal within an hour of working out, aim for healthy meals that contain carbohydrates (to replenish your glycogen stores) and protein (to rebuild muscles) in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio.

Ultimately, your meal choices will depend on your food preferences, and what is important is that you are getting a healthy amount of clean (not overly processed) carbs and protein into the body within 30 to 60 minutes.

Here are some of the best meals for after a cardio workout:

  • Oatmeal with strawberry slices and almond milk
  • Turkey on a whole wheat wrap with spinach
  • Penne pasta tossed with chicken, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli
  • Lentil and root vegetable soup with pita chips

Understanding Post Strength Training Nutrition

Strength training workouts should be refueled differently than cardio training. Recovery fuel should include carbs, proteins, liquids and electrolytes, but the carb to protein ratio is 2:1. In other words, you need less carbs per protein unit.

Another big contrast is that weight training leads to a revved up metabolism for up to 36 hours after the session, so recovery fuel needs to be taken in consistently, every several waking hours post workout. Weight training also builds bone mass, so the fuels need to provide the body with substances that can be used to build bone.

Post Strength Training Snacks

Many experts recommend at least 10 to 35 grams of protein. Here are ideal post strength training snacks. Serving size will depend on your body weight, training intesity, and health goals. Remember to aim for a carb to protein ratio of 2:1. 

Scrambled eggs with fresh tomato or salsa

  • Tuna stuffed avocado
  • Protein Shake
  • Power Bar
  • Beef Jerky
  • Peanut butter on crackers

Post Strength Training Meals

For larger meals, your calorie intake will become a larger percent of your daily intake. Instead of a 100 to 300 calorie snack, these meal options could be 500 – 1,000 calories, depending on the portion sizes.

Here are some healthy meal options:

  • Spinach salad topped with steak or chicken, with ½ cup of quinoa mixed in
  • Meal replacement protein shake with 2:1 carb to protein ratio
  • Chicken and curry stuffed sweet potatoes
  • Chili made with lean ground beef or ground turkey

Treat your body well after a workout by feeding it the food that it needs. Cardio and strength training require different nutritional approaches. If you don’t refuel properly, you might miss out on those benefits! Eat the right snack or meal after a workout, and you will be giving the body the tools that it needs to rebuild and restructure properly.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Pros and Cons Of The Ketogenic Diet

There is a lot of skepticism around the ketogenic diet. We'd like to summarize the general pros and cons of this increasingly popular way of eating.

You may have heard stories about people who have lost drastic amounts of weight by following the ketogenic diet. This diet program puts the body in a state of ketosis, which is radically different than the way your body normally metabolizes food.

Over the last decade, more and more people around the globe have started following this program. Is it right for you? Consider the pros and cons of this diet before you make your decision.

What Is The Ketogenic Diet?

Before diving into the pros and cons of this diet program, you should understand what the ketogenic diet is. It is a program that is strictly low carb, relying on protein and plenty of fats for energy instead. The calories on a strict Keto diet come from 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fats.

Usually, cells in the body use sugars found in carbs as the first source of energy. This diet switches that up so that the cells are forced to use protein and fat instead. This state is called ketosis (not to be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a dangerous medical condition).

Pros of the Ketogenic Diet

Because of the way the diet regimen is restricting carbs, the body experiences several significant benefits.

Fat Loss

The energy that we consume is either used immediately or stored so that the body can use it later. Fat cells provide the body with an efficient way to store fat because there is a lot of bonds between atoms in a fat molecule.

The ketogenic diet restricts energy in the form of carbs, so when the body looks for energy, it starts breaking down those bonds within stored fat molecules. This leads to fat loss.

Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Certain parts of our cells are little powerhouses, taking in fuel and spitting out energy. These powerhouses can use two types of fuel: glucose and ketones. When you eat carbs, the body breaks the carbs down to glucose, which is also called “blood sugar.”

The body releases insulin as blood sugar levels rise, and the insulin helps the blood sugar enter the cell, to be used as fuel. When the cells are using ketones for fuel, as they do on the Keto diet, blood sugar levels are low, yet the cells still get energy.

Swinging blood sugar levels can cause problems like energy crashes and slumps, headaches, and increased risk of diabetes. When blood sugar levels stay consistently at a healthy level, these problems are eliminated.

Increased Brain Function

Glycogen, a simple sugar found in carbs, is used by the brain as fuel. What happens when you drastically reduce your carb intake? The brain will find other ways to get glucose, such as making it from stored body fat.

Some people on the Keto diet report increased the ability to focus and improved memory functioning once they make the switch. This is because the brain is presented with a high concentration of fatty-acids, which help the brain function optimally.

A Focus On Health

When you work with the Ketogenic diet, you must become very tuned into your body and your eating habits. You break many habits and establish new ones. You will likely work with a registered dietician, doctor, or nutritionist as you start your program.

All of this results in an intense focus on the health of your body. Focusing on health can be very beneficial to all other aspects of your life. Because of this focus you might start talking to new people and engaging in new, positive activities. In addition, you will be paying attention to your health rather than aspects of life that tend to stress you out or cause problems.

Less Mindless Eating

Because you are paying attention to the foods you eat, you will likely cut down on or stop any mindless eating behaviors. Because of the high fat and protein content of meals, appetite swings are controlled and people experience less cravings.

You will need to keep track of what you eat, and take note of every morsel that enters your mouth.  This increased mindfulness  takes away the risk of unconscious binge eating, and also gives you more pleasure as you eat.

Cons of the Ketogenic Diet

The benefits of the ketogenic diet may seem enticing, but consider these cons before jumping on board!

Steep Learning Curve

To practice the ketogenic diet, you must first do adequate research so that you thoroughly understand the diet; you should know what you are doing as you switch over into metabolizing primarily ketones instead of glucose.

If Not Done Correctly It Can Cause Harmful Effects

People who want to try the ketogenic diet should consult a registered dietician, and will most likely want to continue working with a specialist as they progress with the diet. If this program is not done correctly, it can lead to bone loss, micronutrient deficiencies, and muscle loss.

Requires Time For Adaptation

There is an adjustment period that your body goes through when you first start the keto diet. At first, when you initiate the diet you might experience fatigue, headaches, or a foggy mental state.

Bad Breath

Some people on the ketogenic diet report that when their bodies switch over to ketosis, they start to have bad breath. This isn’t such a big deal if you have breath mints (sugar-free!) on hand, but it is a con to consider.

Restricted Menu

People following the ketogenic diet cut out bread, rice, pasta, sweets, fruit, and starchy vegetables. This is crucial to the diet plan because these foods are high in carbs and the diet requires a severe carbohydrate restriction. For many people, this is emotionally and physically challenging.

Lifestyle Changes

Switching over to a ketogenic diet will require a significant lifestyle change if you are used to eating the typical American diet. The excitement of starting out on a promising new program might tempt you to dismiss this, but it should not be dismissed so lightly. Food and our social lives and relationships are closely related.

The Keto diet will require you to say “no” to many menu items that others are digging into in social situations. It may also affect the way you dine out and share meals with others. You’ll also have to plan your meals and weigh your food.

Deciding to start in on a ketogenic diet is a major one. It requires thought and research. Ultimately, the decision will be up to you and will come from the weight that you give to each of these pros and cons. Does the benefit of losing fat far outweigh the risk of getting headaches and fatigue as you transition? What is finding the right diet program worth to you?

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

6 Simple Tips to Stop Overeating

Why is it so easy to overeat? It's a natural instinct, but not a healthy habit. Try these 6 pieces of advice to stop overeating and start forming better eating habits.

You don’t overeat because you are lazy or weak-willed. There are many reasons for indulging in a bag of potato chips or carton of ice cream when you know it’s bad for you. Lack of sleep, stress, boredom, and meal-skipping our just a few of the reasons you overeat.

Instead of beating yourself up over bingeing, follow these six simple tips to stop overeating and maintain your ideal weight.

1. Always Eat Breakfast

Eat more protein, fat, and carbohydrates in the morning to quash your appetite later in the day. Research cited in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate breakfast were less likely to binge later in the day.

Another study conducted at Purdue University showed that men who ate dietary protein at breakfast (eggs, sausage, yogurt, etc.) felt fuller than they did at other meal times. Feeling ling satiated after breakfast means you’ll snack less and be less inclined to overeat at lunch.

Many people aren’t chipper enough to cook a big breakfast first thing in the morning.  Fix your breakfast before you go to bed. If you can identify with this.  Prepare yogurt with fruit and granola and leave it in a plastic container in your fridge. When you wake up, your healthy breakfast will be ready for you.

You don’t need to eat first thing in the morning to reap the benefits of breakfast. Bring instant oatmeal or a whole wheat bagel and peanut butter to work if you prefer to wait until later in the morning to eat.

2. Drink More Green Tea and Water

Drink water, green tea or herbal tea before and between meals to fill up your stomach so you’ll eat less throughout the day. Hydrating with lots of no to low-calorie beverages keeps you satiated – and helps your complexion.

There’s scientific evidence drinking water before a meal can help trim your waist. According to research conducted at Virginia Tech, obese people 55 or over who drank two cups of water before every meal lost 15.5 pounds at the end of three months compared to 11 pounds in the control group.

Avoid drinking too much coffee, which can dehydrate you, and diet soda or diet energy drinks, which contain cancer-causing artificial sweeteners.

Green tea contains flavonoids called catechins, which release fat from cells in the belly (and elsewhere) and speed up the liver’s ability to turn fat into energy.  Studies show green tea promotes weight loss because it revs up your metabolism and acts as a natural appetite suppressant. It also stabilizes blood sugar and stops insulin from getting out of hand.

3. Eat Whole Foods

Avoid processed and packaged foods and fill your kitchen with fresh, whole foods. Processed foods are easier to prepare, but you’ll pay for that convenience with weight gain and poor nutrition. Eat beans, nuts, wild caught salmon, organic and grass-fed poultry, beef, pork, and lamb instead.

Include as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible in your diet. Fresh produce is more expensive and doesn’t store as well as canned or frozen veggies and fruits. Frozen vegetables are usually okay, but frozen fruits tend to have high-fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy additives. Always read ingredient lists on frozen fruit and fruit juices.

Hopefully, there’s more junk food in the vending machines at work than in your kitchen cabinets. So fill up on almonds or other healthy snacks before leaving home, so you won’t be tempted to buy high-calorie snacks on your break.

4. Eat Slowly and Mindfully

There’s a ten to 30 minute delay from the time you swallow your food to the time you feel full. That’s why you eat a lot of food before feeling satiated. And the faster you eat, the more you eat.

Chew food slowly and taste your food instead of gulping it down. Try to chew each bite seven to ten times before swallowing to let your brain catch up to your stomach.

5. Try Adding These Hunger-Stopping Foods to Your Diet

Greek yogurt has more calcium than milk or plain yogurt. Calcium helps boost feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain producing more serotonin to keep you calm and happy. The happier you are, the less you’ll overeat.

Bananas are another depression-busting food. When you’re feeling down and ready to overeat, grab a banana instead. Potassium-rich bananas help balance gut microbes known to cause depression. Their high starch content offers carbohydrates that resist digestion (for a while, anyway) to make you feel full. 

When you sit down for a night of Netflix or Hulu, you may be tempted to eat potato chips, cookies, and French fries. Substitute air-popped popcorn with cayenne pepper sprinkled. The popcorn gives you roughage to keep digestion on track, and the cayenne pepper boosts your metabolism to keep pounds at bay.

6. Eat Smaller Meals

Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to curb hunger. By putting less time between meals, the reasoning goes, you’ll stave off hunger pangs that cause excess eating. Some new research suggests that there’s no difference between the number of meals you eat a day and weight loss.

The bottom line? The number of meals you eat doesn’t matter as much as your total calorie count for the day. You may feel more comfortable eating six mini-meals rather than three square meals, or vice versa. Regardless of your choice, include fiber and protein with each meal to fill you up and stop overeating.

Food isn’t the only thing on your table that figures into your calorie count. The size of your dinner dish can have a psychological effect on how much you eat.  It’s easy to finish everything on our plate even if we’re not hungry – after all, it’s only good manners. Use smaller plates at home to prevent scarfing down too much food.

Share one entrée with a friend when eating at a restaurant, or ask for a doggie bag to save a portion for later. Use a small plate for main dishes if you’re attending a buffet-style dinner party.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.