Protein. Lots of it. The latest craze seems to be protein supplements, bars, shakes and other packaged foods hitting the shopping carts of everyday consumers. Every second person these days seems to be chugging down a protein shake for their quick morning breakfast on the go.
Yet is this high protein craze a healthy choice? The short answer: yes. The longer answer: it depends..... here's how:
1. Protein is a macronutrient every human needs for repairing and maintaining muscles.
2. It is mildly thermogenic, meaning that it raises your body's metabolic rate (how fast you burn energy).
3. Swapping out excessive carbohydrates with different sources of protein can reduce insulin levels for people consuming large amounts of high GI carbs.
However, it's not the idea of protein that I have a problem with, it's how its being taunted as a 'health product' to foods that aren't so healthy.
Chocolate bars with added protein does not remove the fact that you're still consuming a highly processed sugary treat. Swapping out whole foods for a protein shake is not an ideal for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. For people wanting to up their calories or periodically cut carbs and are looking for additional protein sources, then protein powders can be an awesome supplement, but remember, they are supplements and shouldn't be the main source of nutrition for you.
I've seen breakfast drinks that are marketed as 'high in protein', but they're laced with sugar, protein balls that have cheap soy protein powders and very little in terms of actual nutrients.
So yes, protein is an excellent macronutrient that can and should be a part of a healthy balanced diet, but protein comes in many shapes and forms. An egg is a great source of protein and it's one of the most bioavailable sources of the human body. With approx. 6 grams per egg, along with healthy fats, why not swap out your so called healthy protein shake with an omelette!
Success isn't equated in the amount of dollars you earn or kilograms that stare back at you on the scales. It's not about how many friends you can rely on when you need that extra bit of support. Even still, it is not about your happiness. Really, it's a combination of all these things and so much more. Success is relative to you, and it's defined by your own standards and goals. One's life satisfaction says a lot about their overall 'success'. Finance, relationships, health, livelihood, the list can go on and on...but we need a balance of each of these areas in our life if we are to be a true success. The person with all the money in the world and no friends is not what we would determine to be successful. Yet the social butterfly that's living pay check to pay check is also not a shining beacon of what society would determine as a success.
You can have your cake and eat it too. It's called striking a balance. People who are in sync with themselves and the world around them, who devote their time and energy into an array of areas in their lives, are what I would determine as being successful. Yet, as I said, success is truly a relative phenomenon. Ask yourself, do you feel successful. How can you be more successful in your life? Do you need to physically alter areas of your life, or is it more of a mindset shift that you have to make. Dedicate this week to being focused on how each area of your life can contribute to you as being nothing but a success, because the only person stopping you from determining whether you are a success, or not, is yourself!
Everywhere you look someone has the answer as to how you can improve your life. Whether you're suffering from body image issues, anxiety, depression or any host of a number of chronic health conditions, there seems to be 101 conflicting miracle cures. Yet how is it then that one person's provided 'answer' or 'solution' conflicts entirely with the next one?
The answer is simple: there is no 'one size fits all' approach to both your physical and mental health. That's the beauty of life; we are all individuals, and with being an individual comes a completely personalised approach to finding out what works best for you. There is no black and white, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy when it comes to creating balance in your life. The exciting thing is, embarking on that journey of working out what makes you tick, doesn't come at a price tag. It comes at being true to yourself. So what are the steps to figuring this out?
1. STOP. That's right. Just stop. Take a moment to check in with yourself throughout the day. Then..
2. LISTEN. Your body and mind will tell you whether or not what you're currently doing, eating, or thinking, is serving you at this time.
3. CONTINUE or CHANGE: If all is well, then keep going! If something isn't sitting right, then don't keep going with it. Explore the root issue further.
With these 3 simple steps I hope you can work towards creating a more balanced life for yourself and encourage those around you to do the same!
When it comes to eating, everyone has a different opinion. The science seems conflicting and different ways of nourishing the body have been heralded as the ideal way we all should eat. Yet we often forget that everyone is different. Not two people are the same. Therefore, how we respond to food, what we thrive off, will also be different. I think we forget this far too often. Intuitive eating, that is, listening to your body's signals as to what it REALLY wants and not what you THINK it wants based on external influences like the latest diet trend or an article you read in the newspaper, is what is going to serve you optimally.
This is the reason why some people do so well on a vegan or vegetarian based diet, whilst others champion the realms of paleo, primal or gluten-free. The easiest way to work out what's your best option, is to experiment. Trial and error tells us what's working and what's not. Keep it simple. Eat it and see how you feel. It's not rocket science, so why should we try to make it complicated? Most of all, enjoy the experience. Food is there to nourish, but we have tastebuds for a reason!
All Natural, low carbohydrate, sugar-free,gluten-free, lactose-free, paleo...these are just some of the labels you can read when you scan the aisles of supermarkets and health food stores. Yet what characterises a product a 'health food' product and what doesn't. One word: marketing. Healthy is not a fact, its an adjective, a 'quality' that marketers use to describe their products. Despite this, so many people get sucked into forking out way too much money or supposedly 'health food products' that are nothing more than glorified regular snacks. What's more, these companies are sprouting up more and more and people feel compelled to jump on the health movement bandwagon, guilting themselves into participating in a growing cult of body-obsessed, health-obsessed individuals. Don't get me wrong, eating healthy is fantastic and I believe everyone should make a commitment to prioritising what they put in their mouths. However, doing so through these quick health fixes, these all-in-one bars and powders and supplements is simply kidding yourself.
So what should you be looking out for. Here's my Golden Rules for spotting a genuinely healthful product from a regular chocolate bar with low quality protein and a hefty price tag added.
1. If it comes in a packet, chances are it's processed. Processed food is rarely better than a simply whole food as a source of energy and nutrients.
2. Be mindful of the different words that can be used for sugar. Glucose, Fructose, Agave, Coconut sugar,Repadura, Dextrose and a number of other words all mean the same thing essentially: SUGARand must be broken down in your body as sugar.
3. Fillers that bulk up the product and are not healthful: bulking agents, rice flour, gluten, soy, the list is almost endless. Don't forget about those industrial plant/seed oils like canola and soy oil that wreck havoc on your body.
4. The word 'natural' before things like flavours, colours, additives and seasoning. You have no idea what these so called 'natural' products are. Remember that many toxic and unhealthful substances occur naturally. Sugar is also 'natural'.
5. Protein bars beware: cheap protein sources like soy protein concentrate and sugar amounts equivalent to candy/sweets.
Long story short, just eat real food and don't get swayed by labels that are designed to do exactly what they've been doing: get you to buy exorbitantly overpriced products.
Follow me on Twitter: @Tommy_Grainger
For the past 3 years we've seen the Paleo movement take the world by storm. From cook books to online programs, community networks, conventions and online bloggers become practical paleo "celebrities". Yet is Paleo legit and is it actually healthy? In a word, yes. Paleo is not really a diet but rather, more of a lifestyle. Eating foods that our paleo ancestors consumed, or more so, as CLOSE to this lifestyle as possible in our modernised world, is always going to be better than the industrialised heavily-processed food that characterises the standard western diet. Saying goodbye to carb-ladened grains and hello to healthy fats, animal proteins, fruits, veg, nuts and seeds seems like a no brainer right?
I don't think it's that simple. In short: paleo is, in theory, great. BUT. And here's where I have a problem with Paleo....it can be extremely dogmatic. People who follow a paleo framework but don't treat it like a religion filled with dogma, name-shaming and guilt-ridding, are what I'd consider to be the people who are doing paleo correctly. They're the ones that aren't saying 'I'm paleo. I am primal. Grains are poison' or something of the like. Rather, they are the people who incorporate the wisdom of eating a mostly whole foods anti-inflammatory style of diet ,that is open to change and embraces flexibility. These people are the healthy 'paleo followers'. As soon as a diet becomes an identity, it is no longer healthy. They may say that you are what you eat, but this should not be considered too literally. When food becomes a deciding factor in one's identity and consumes the individual's life, it becomes an addiction, an obsession. It becomes orthorexia.
So in summary, I think paleo is absolutely fabulous and I think more people should embrace the ideal that a palaeolithic eating style characterises. However, approaching paleo as a restrictive way of eating, as a set of rules for how you must eat for the rest of your life, is far from healthy. It is consuming. Ask yourself whether you are consuming food or whether food is truly consuming you. You can have your cake and eat it too. Don't forget about finding that balance in your life that promotes true health and happiness.
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There has been a lot of debates about the effects of sugar on the human body. We're not just talking justabout table sugar here, but all the added sweeteners hidden under fancy names like evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate and agave. One man Damon Gameau, takes the debate into his own hands by consuming a low-fat diet of conventional food products traditionally considered healthy: low fat yoghurts, juice, liquid breakfast drinks, cereal and most interestingly: children's lunchbox snacks. The results, in my opinion, are not surprising, but for many, will be quite the eye-opener. Over 2 months Gameau films a documentary: That Sugar Film, which tracks the effects on his body. Gaining more than 8kg and adding 10cm of fat around his waist, he moves from the healthiest 20% of the Australian male population, into the worst. His liver shows early signs of disease, his blood hits the ceiling, along with a number of other adverse health markers.
As a film maker and health activists, I can really appreciate the aesthetics of the film. It's not only informative, featuring a number of industry experts like David Gillespie, author of 'Sweet Poison', but celebrities such as Hugh Jackman and Steven Fry. It's fun, entertaining and an all-round fantastic contribution to the nutrition documentary field. Breaking down the complexities of sugar absorption and it's effects on the body, this is film that everyone can understand AND should watch.
More on the film:
Picture: That Sugar Film.com
In a word. Yes. It would appear that the latest research is pointing towards the recognition that gluten is difficult to digest for all people, at least to some extent. Having that slice of pizza, wholemeal sandwich or bowl of pasta are by no means evil, however, for a number of people, their tolerance for glutenous products has dropped so much over time that they can no longer eat it without having physiological reactions within the body.
According to Dr. Tom O'Bryan, the tolerance level for gluten will be differ between every person on the planet. However, he believes that there is no denying the fact that this tolerance will wear down over time, depending on the amount of gluten that is consumed, in relation to one's biological/genetic ability to digest this protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
Long story short, it's best to have a balanced diet that doesn't pound the processed grains that contain gluten and to particularly avoid them if, well, they make you feel like shit after consuming them. However, the signs are not always so clear, and could manifest in anything from poor energy levels to depression, skin conditions and delayed cognitive ability. Check out his interview on the awesome podcast, The Health Bridge.
Caitlyn Jenner's recent exposure in the public eye, where she came out to the world through a Vanity Fair photoshoot and interview has sparked a lot of discussions around transgender and identity across the globe. The new series, I am Cait, which follows the highs and lows of Cait's fresh experiences as a woman is not only emotionally-moving but incredibly inspiring. This leaves a lot of food for thought about the place of accepting all people within society, whether they are black, white, fat, skinny, tall, short, male, female or other.
The series really leaves the audience questioning their own place in society and how we are conditioned by roles, stereotypes and the expectations driven by the media to 'fit in' and meet expectations. This is a well produced, raw and confronting series which everyone should experience for themselves.
Elena Wewer, editor of Vegan Independent, discusses all things vegan! She shares her dos and don'ts when it comes to veganism as well as tips on getting started. Learn how to make the vegan lifestyle work for you or how you can adopt vegan practices into your daily life for health, nutrition and an ethical lifestyle.
Presented by Thomas Grainger