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What’s Causing Your Symptoms?

April 19, 2014

Irritable? Can’t lose fat? Can’t gain muscle? Dull, crappy skin? Endless appetite with raging sugar cravings?

Check out my video for the possible reason! Hint: it’s something we (should!) do for nearly half our lives.

Here’s some ideas to get some high quality rest and recovery!

Why You Should Rest More

April 19, 2014

I recently did a video on how rest and sleep can cause a whole host of symptoms in your mind and body, from dull skin to irritability to sugar cravings. There’s a link to the video at the bottom of this post!

Here are some quick, easy ways to get high quality rest so you can resolve all those issues I talk about in the video.

1) Scale down your reliance on stimulants, namely caffeine.

2) Sleep properly every night following your natural circadian rhythm. Eight hours of sleep is better when you wake up with the sunlight. Eight hours of sleep from 3am until 11am is not the same!

3) Avoid difficult-to-digest foods closer to bedtime (spicy foods, heavy foods like meat and dairy, etc) and avoid quick-energy foods closer to bedtime, like simple sugars from fruits and other carbs.

4) Eat cherries or a smaller serving of dried cherries about an hour or two before bedtime. They are high in melatonin which will help you sleep.

5) Calm your mind throughout the day whether that’s through a yoga class, deep breathing exercises, meditating, or listening to your favourite music. Journal your thoughts. Watch a happy kitten video. Just chill.

6) Organize yourself with to-do lists if need be, as long as they aren’t overwhelming!

7) Exercise – it lowers your blood pressure and regulates your cortisol levels so you can chill out. Of course, as you’ll learn in the video below, too much exercise will have the opposite effect.

8) Eat foods that promote health and recovery and healing – this will vary depending on what you need to “recover” from!

9) Hang out in a sauna, go enjoy the warm weather outside, play with your pets or children, bake something healthy – just make time at least once a day to do something you genuinely enjoy.

10) Resolve your most pressing issues, and remove the biggest stressors from your life as soon as possible. Change jobs if you can, focus on your marriage more, work on any resentments and grudges you still hold. This hugely translates into deeper sleep, also.

BONUS: Remember: you’re going to be six feet under one day (or in a jar, as ashes). Your time here will come to an end. You will no longer exist one day, and thus, neither will your never-ending to-do list. No need to get all “YOLO” and jump off a bridge, but really, this all won’t matter in the end. Heck, it probably won’t matter a week or a month from now, or even next year.

Here’s the video below. Watch it if you can’t lose weight easily, have dull skin, are always cranky or irritated easily, if you can’t gain muscle easily, and have an endless appetite with raging sugar cravings.

Springtime Tropical Cookies

April 17, 2014

There’s no better way to welcome in the warm spring weather than with tropical flavours! For once, I’ve made a yummy dessert without something chocolatey in it. I present to you my banana coconut cookies!

This recipe made a whole bunch more than what you see here!

This recipe made a whole bunch more than what you see here!

These are overall chewy, slightly dense cookies with a nice texture mix from the soft banana, crisp coconut and crunchy (legit high-quality) cereal. Let’s cut to the chase!

Ingredients, assuming all organic and natural:

- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 3/4 cup legit high quality crunchy fibre cereal of choice (I used Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran)
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder OR 2tbsp light flour of choice (I used Heartland Gold Brown Rice Protein)
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar, or other natural unrefined sugar
- 4 packets of stevia or more sugar/other sweetener of choice
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 medium/large banana, mashed up
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or a little bit more if using a flour and not a protein powder)
- 1/4 cup plain 0% yogurt (not Greek yogurt, it’s too thick)
- 1/4 cup egg whites

- Optional: chocolate chips, dried berries/fruit pieces, chopped nuts, dash of cinnamon, blob of peanut butter, chia seeds, etc.

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside (greasing it in coconut oil = bonus points!)
2) Combine all the wet ingredients
3) Combine all the dry ingredients
4) Add the dry mix to the wet mix
5) Scoop 1tbsp of dough at a time onto the baking sheet. You should get about 16 cookies if you actually measure out 1tbsp scoops.
6) Toss ‘em in the oven for 15 minutes, give or take, depending on your oven. Anyway, they’re done when they are golden brown!

Delicious golden brown banana coconut cookies!

Delicious golden brown banana coconut cookies!

Nutritional Info:
For the entire batch, here is what you’ll get…

Calories: 845
Fat: 38.8 g
Carbs: 100g (36g is fibre, thanks to the bran cereal! Holy cow! And only 35g is sugar, most of which is from the banana!)
Protein: 29g

Now, this batch makes about 16 cookies if you use 1tbsp scoops. This is the approximate size, if you’re a visual kinda person:

Nice bite-sized treats!

Nice bite-sized treats!

So if you make 16, here’s the down-low for each cookie, to keep it simple for you calorie/macro counters:
Calories: 52
Fat: 2.4g
Carbs: 6g (just over 2g fibre and 2g sugar)
Protein: 2g

Or you could use the numbers I provided from the entire batch and divide it out for the size/quantity of cookies you want to make. Happy spring!

Can’t-Beet-These-Brownies

April 9, 2014

Beets are a versatile veggie. They’re great raw, shredded into a salad, or even pickled, or roasted with a balsamic glaze. Yum!

They are naturally sweet, and their flavour mixes well with orange, carrot, ginger, lemon, apple, chocolate, and tangy cheeses. So, beets would work extremely well in a carrot cake, apple spice muffins, orange biscotti, chocolate cupcakes, or even in a cream cheese danish! But since I love chocolate, I decided to make chocolate brownies with this superfoods.

I didn’t want to use an online recipe because, you know, it’s my blog and that would be a copyright thing, so I just threw a lil’ bit of this n’ that into a large mixing bowl until everything looked like a proper brownie batter consistency.

Of course, I had to taste-test the batter before I threw it in the oven. I’m surprised they even made it into the oven! I freaking love batters and doughs, sometimes more than the baked goods themselves! Maybe I should try a raw-food diet? I’m sure my raw cookie dough recipe would be allowed!

Anyway, they worked. They worked really damn well :D

Dense, moist brownies!

Dense, moist brownies!

The texture of these brownies are soft, dense, chewy and moist. I really, really despise brownies that don’t “sink” when you bite them – when they have a stupid cake-like texture. Ugh. Just ruins it! So these ones definitely made me happy and satisfied my sweet tooth!

These make 9 decent sized brownies.

These make 9 decent sized brownies.

Ingredients:
-1.5 cups cooked pureed beats (put in a food processor to puree)
-4 tbsp coconut sugar
-4 tbsp raw honey
-5 stevia packets (or more coconut sugar)
-1 egg
-3 tbsp melted fat (coconut oil, grassfed butter, whatever)
- 1/2 cup plus 2tbsp cocoa powder
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/3 cup kamut flour
-1/3 cup rolled oats
*Optional add-ins: chocolate chips, nuts, chopped fruit, whatever!

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350*F.
2) Mix everything except for the flour and oats in a large mixing bowl.
3) Add the flour in to the batter, then add the oats. (And any optional add-ins)
4) Grease a baking dish (about 8.5 x 8.5 inches, give or take) and pour in the batter.
5) Bake for 20 minutes, approximately, depending on the size baking dish you used.
6) Let it cool a bit before cutting and digging in!

Perfect with a cup of coffee!

Perfect with a cup of coffee!

 

Look at this delicious close-up.

Look at this delicious close-up.

Like this one? Want more delicious healthy recipes?
Check out my other recipes at the bottom of the my Nutrition Section!


ChocoFree Metabolate

6 Ways to “Hack” Your Fat Loss

April 7, 2014

For the times when you want to indulge a little (or a lot!) there are plenty of options to do a bit of “damage” control so that your dream beach body can still be a reality without feeling like you’re sacrificing your tastebuds. It’s kind of like hacking your body so that the foods you eat will leave your body unscathed, or at least get burned up faster.

You can still have this…

While looking like this…

About 13% body fat

 

Here’s what you can do…

1) Strength training sessions
This plan works both immediately and in the long-term. A great strength workout (weights, calisthenics, etc.) will boost your metabolic rate for up to 72 hours post-workout. Have your yummy treat within a few hours of your workout to minimize its effect on your body. Also, frequent strength training will build muscle, and that means you will require more food daily just to stay alive. Muscles need more food and nutrition than fat does, and muscle also helps burn fat. Win-win!

Try these 20-minute strength workouts before your next treat meal.

2) Add cinnamon
Cinnamon helps blunt the insulin response you get from eating lots of sugar. It regulates your blood sugar levels. You will therefore be in a less primed state to store fat. And since there’s no insulin spike, there’s also no sugar crash, so you won’t be hungry again half an hour later. So if you have to choose between the cinnamon roll or the chocolate cake… well… now you know which one may be the lesser of two evils!

Another cool cinnamon trick? Add it to your coffee! It can help prolong the effects of caffeine – therefore, you can go harder in your workouts, and prolong the metabolism-boosting and appetite-suppressing effects of this lovely bitter drink.

3) Utilize spices and aromatics
Tumeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, spicy foods, ginger, garlic and onion are all superfoods for your gut and metabolism. I actually wrote an article on the benefits of spicy foods for the April 2014 issue of Inside Fitness magazine. It’s on page 106, so check it out if you can! These lovely spices and flavourful additions help to promote the digestive process so you can break down food quicker, burn it faster, and feel fuller longer. Have a spicy curry before your ginormous bowl of ice cream. I’m half-joking here.

4) Get fat
By that, of course, I mean get some healthy fats in your meals. Fat, like cinnamon, helps to control blood sugar levels and blunt the insulin response of sugar binges. Coconut oil, avocados, grassfed butter, natural nut butters, and nuts and seeds (walnuts, flax, almonds, chia, cashews – anything!) are all great options to incorporate into a yummy treat! They also help keep you fuller longer because they regulate leptin levels, aka, your hunger hormones.

If you like chocolate and coconut, see my recipe for a healthy version of Bounty Bars.

There are several more healthy fat desserts at the bottom of the Nutrition page!

Alternatively, you could have a meal high in healthy fats and enjoy a dessert afterwards. Some ideas:
-Salmon, trout, beef, pork, other fatty meat and fish (all organic high-quality, wild/free-roam, grassfed, hormone-free, etc.)
-Olives
-Organic (preferably raw) dairy, like cheese, yogurt and milk
-Healthy oils (on your salad, for example)

5) Eat fermented foods
I read a great article on Mark’s Daily Apple about the benefits of fermented foods. The guy is a paleo advocate, but this post on fermented foods is full of useful info for everybody, no matter what type of “diet” they are on, and he provides plenty of research to back it all up. Here’s one part of it:
“The vitamins (like K2) in fermented foods like kefir become more plentiful or more concentrated (either by breaking down the food or by virtue of the bacteria outputting more nutrients), and more bioavailable. Also, the improved digestion that accompanies a healthier gut means more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are absorbed (and if you’re eating a usually phytate-rich food, the fermentation can really break down the mineral-binding phytates), thus allowing even better absorption.”

Read it all here.

6) Avoid non-organic foods
The toxins in pesticides, herbicides, artificial growth hormones, fake flavours/colours, and other preservatives and sketchy additives will take a toll on your metabolism because of the toxic effects they can all have on your thyroid. Your thyroid plays a major role in regulating your metabolism from both ends – it can make it too slow or too fast.

I use all of these tips anyway, regardless of having junk food or not. The above tips are great for your overall health, not just for burning fat and minimizing the damage of eating a pint of ice cream. Use them as you wish!

Want more awesome tips like this? Subscribe to my newsletter for exclusive content! See the right side of this page to do so – might have to scroll up a little!


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Fat Kids and Parental Issues

March 13, 2014

If a kid is overweight, obese, or even very underweight, it’s typically the fault of the parents. They may show affection with treats and junk food without considering the consequences – namely, health problems, body image issues, bullying, and bad habits for when the kid grows up. When the kid grows up, they at least have the autonomy to change their ways, but parents can really set them up to be more likely to fail.

This is what happened to me, my younger brother, and my older sister. We were showered with junk food, grew up fat, realized what the hell happened, and then thankfully changed for the better. Except some lingering resentment remains – how could our family, namely our parents, not see that it’s NOT okay to give your kids adult-size portions of McDonald’s? And then think that their belly fat is cute rather than an actual health problem?

Because apparently, they didn’t actually see it. 

According to this new study just came out from the University of Gothenburg, half of parents literally don’t see their children’s weight problem. 

THAT is a problem!

I wrote more on this topic over at OurWindsor.ca, a branch of Metroland Media. You’d be surprised at the stats about parents of underweight kids, too. Check it out here: Are You Aware of Your Child’s Obesity?


Joe Rogan Alpha BRAIN Powerful

Health-Ify Recipe Challenge #2: Chocolate Ice Cream

March 9, 2014

A while back I posted a “recipe challenge” on my Facebook page, where I asked my friends to list their favourite treats, and I would try to make healthier versions of them.

The first challenge I took on was to make healthy cookie dough, and it was successful! I made a whole bunch and shared it with a bunch of friends and family, and they all LOVED it! I brought over a dozen cookie dough balls to my favourite health food store (where all the staff know me lol) and they were in love. Sure, it’s a biased sample group because they’re all obviously into healthy stuff, but even my brother ravaged the cookie dough! Awesome :)

And here, I bring forth a successful second challenge – chocolate ice cream! You don’t even need an ice cream maker.

So creamy and dreamy and healthy!

So creamy and dreamy and healthy!

Ingredients:
-1/2 cup plain 0% yogurt
-1 medium avocado, ripe
-1 scoop (28g) Vega energizing smoothie mix, chocolate flavour*
-3 tbsp cocoa powder
-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-2 tbsp coconut sugar (or other natural sugar)
-pinch salt
-natural sweetener, to taste (I used stevia liquid drops and 2tbsp natural xylitol. Xylitol has 10 cals per teaspoon.)
-splash of coffee (1 or 2 tbsp)**

*You can always buy just a single-serving packet at your local health food store. Or, feel free to use any other chocolate flavoured protein powder, as long as it’s natural! Gotta stay healthy :)
**The coffee won’t actually make the ice cream taste like a mocha/coffee ice cream. The purpose of the coffee is to downplay the avocado taste. You can also use instant coffee granules – just a teaspoon should work!

Directions:
If you have an ice cream maker, great – just blend everything together and freeze according to your manufacturer’s instructions. If not, no worries. I don’t have one either. This is how you do it:

1) Throw everything in a food processor and whip it up nicely until it’s smooth and creamy!
2) Place in a tupperware container and freeze the mixture until it’s rock solid, or just about. It will be very icy.
3) Take it out of the freezer, and let it defrost on your counter for just a tiny bit until you can break it up with a spoon or a butter knife. Then, throw it all back in the food processor and blend it up again. You’ll notice that the texture is no longer “icy” and frozen, but it’s getting more fluffy, like real ice cream. If needed, add a splash of almond milk (or organic cream, if you want).
4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 one more time.
5) Enjoy!

To make ice cream fluffy and creamy, rather than icy, air has to be whipped into it. Kind of like how whipping cream works. So yes, the process is a little bit tedious if you’re using a food processor, but it works the exact same way that an ice cream maker does, except you have to get a bit more involved. BUT, this recipe is totally worth it, because check out the nutritional info below!

icecream2
Nutritional Info:
Makes about 2 cups. You get a massive dose of fiber (from the avocado and cocoa powder) and protein, as well as tons of healthy fats (again, avocado and cocoa). Seriously, this stuff is great for your health. This is also high in iron and magnesium, thanks to the cocoa powder!

For the ENTIRE batch…
Calories: 540 (this includes my 2tbsp xylitol, which is 60 calories)
Fat: 22g
Carbs: 89g (22g fiber – WOW! – and 30g sugar)
Protein: 29g

Like this recipe? Of course you do! Share it on Facebook and Twitter :)
Feel free to add chocolate chips, banana slices, berries, shredded coconut – whatever you like!

icecream1


ChocoFree Metabolate

Health-Ify Recipe Challenge #1: Cookie Dough

March 6, 2014

A month or so ago, I posted in my Facebook status that I wanted to do a recipe challenge. Friends would comment with their favourite dessert/junk food, and I’d attempt to health-ify it. The first one I decided to try out was chocolate chip cookie dough, and I must say I did a pretty decent job. My taste-testers at home agree with me, too, and I hope you also like it!

The criteria for what makes this cookie dough recipe HEALTHY is that it consists of whole, minimally processed organic foods. Nothing artificial. No excessive amounts of sugar or fat, either! And each ingredient has actual nutritional value, not just a decent calorie/macronutrient balance.

Sharing is NOT caring in this case!

Sharing is NOT caring in this case!

Ingredients: (everything I used was organic!)

-19oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
-1/2 cup rolled oats
-1/4 cup butter*
-1 scoop (20grams) of vanilla protein powder**
-1.5 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 cup real sugar (coconut sugar, raw cane sugar, etc.)
-3 tbsp another natural sweetener of choice (xylitol, stevia, etc.)
-Liquid stevia drops, to taste (or more sugar/sweetener of choice)
-2tbsp unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)
-1/2 cup kamut flour (or other natural light-tasting flour of choice)
-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (more or less, it’s up to you)

*if you can’t get organic butter, try coconut oil, but it will have a slight coconut taste
**an organic whey protein powder is best; most vegan or brown rice or hemp protein powders can give it a bit of an earthy, grassy flavour

Directions:
1) Throw everything (except for the kamut flour & chocolate chips) in a food processor or super strong blender until it’s very well combined and creamy
2) Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl and add the flour little-by-little until it’s fully mixed in
3) Fold in chocolate chips
4) IMPORTANT: you must refrigerate this until it’s fully chilled (say, three hours at least – or toss it in the freezer for half an hour) because the mixing of the butter will soften it up, and it needs to get cold again to get that perfect firmer texture!

Nutritional Info:
If my eyes are correct at guess-timating, this recipe makes about 2.5 cups of cookie dough. You can serve it however you like – roll it into balls, eat by the spoonful, or mix it in with yogurt!
Here’s the info for the ENTIRE batch, using exactly what I used above (stevia, almond milk, kamut flour, etc):

Calories: 2060
Fat: 90g
Carbs: 427g (46g fiber; 55g sugar)
Protein: 71g


Absolutely delicious healthy cookie dough

Absolutely delicious healthy cookie dough

Comparing Meat to Cigarettes

March 4, 2014

And here comes more completely flawed research that will scare people away from eating animal products!

This gem of a study starts off like this…

“That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette. In a new study that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers have found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet — a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.”

First of all, it only compares the people eating protein-rich diets to people eating low-protein diets. There are so many other factors that should have been considered – namely, organic vs conventional meats being used in the study. Duh. It says NOTHING about the quality of meat they were eating – so we can probably accurately assume that the meat, whether it was chicken or beef or fish, was conventional, factory-raised meat. Knowing how our disgusting food systems work, the animals were more than likely…

-fed corn/grain-based diets (typically GMO, non-organic, sprayed with pesticides, chemicals, and grown in fake fertilizers).

-crammed in small living spaces, thus raising their cortisol/stress levels (meaning their meat, when we eat it, is high in cortisol and then raises our own cortisol levels, contributing to the health problems that this study focused on).

-given growth hormones and antibiotics…take a look at how that stuff affects our human health before we blame our heart problems entirely on fat and protein.  Maybe it’s not the grams of protein or fat we consume that lead to the healthy problems… maybe, just maybe, it could also be partly due to what the animals are pumped with!

And if they were eating meat from restaurants, there’s a good chance they came into contact with meat glue - you know, the stuff they use for fake steaks. Gee, I wonder if that causes health problems at all?

It then goes on to say…

“Not only is excessive* protein consumption linked** to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources — including meat, milk and cheese — are also more susceptible to early death in general, reveals the study to be published March 4 in Cell Metabolism. Protein-lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of diabetes.”

*Excessive amounts of anything can kill you, so this statement is unfair. Excessive water and excessive air will kill you, too.
**Linked to does not mean causes. “Linked to” means other factors could have contributed (and probably did) to the health problems, so they’re not allowed to blame it all on excessive protein.

Oh, and not only are these study participants consuming meat, but they’re also consuming dairy and cheese. If it was unpasteurized organic milk and cheese, perhaps their health wouldn’t have suffered as much as it did by consuming regular dairy – which is even more processed than the meat it came from! The milk is pasteurized, killing off the bacteria, sure, but also destroying the good bacteria and digestive enzymes that let you digest the milk properly.

On top of that, we all know how much blood and pus gets into dairy products from the cows (thanks to being hooked up to mechanical milkers all day long) and that has to be “cleaned” out of the milk before we consume it.

And this is just before individual companies add their own specialty ingredients and colours to the dairy products – for starters, just read a label of Cracker Barrel “cheese” and compare that to some organic raw cheese. Their extra sharp cheddar made with 2 per cent milk contain vitamin A Palmitate, which is naturally found in animal fats. However, when you actually see it on an ingredients label, that means it was synthetically produced and added to the product. Want to know the problem with this? Too much vitamin A Palmitate causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, birth defects, liver abnormalities and reduced bone density. But what can you expect from Kraft, really? (Or ANY brand that isn’t certified organic?)

Anyway, got a little off-topic there…
But do you see my point?

Do you see how FLAWED and BIASED these studies are? Besides, what were the activity levels of these subjects? What ELSE were they consuming – a lot of sugar? Artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours? Did they drink alcohol, did they smoke, were they overweight? There’s an awful lot of omission going on here. Don’t even get me started on The China Study…!

How about we compare people who eat conventional meat/dairy products to people who eat organic, non-GMO, pasture-raised meat and dairy? And keep the portion sizes normal, not excessive! Have the subjects exercise, have them eat healthy diets overall, and at least try to let the only variable be the quality of the meat and dairy.

THAT would be an interesting effing study! There is NO good reason to compare a good hunk of organic, pasture-raised and humanely killed beef (free of added hormones and antibiotics!) to smoking a cigarette. Brainwashing at its finest.

Fat Makes You Smarter?

February 13, 2014

It’s no doubt that a nice hunk of grilled salmon does wonders for our taste buds – but is it true that it’s also good for your brain?

According to this recent study on omega-3 fatty acids and brain health, the answer is yes!

The Oregon Health & Science University study found that monkeys who ate a diet rich in omega-3′s had highly connected and well organized neural networks in their brains (similar to the neural networks in healthy humans). Monkeys that lacked these fatty acids, however, had significantly limited brain networking.

The neural networks in question were responsible for things like visual pathways, higher-level processing and cognition, and attention span.

 

Joe Rogan Alpha BRAIN Powerful