Vitamins and minerals are the building blocks of a healthy body and the B vitamins (all 8 of them) are responsible for energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. Feeling a little off, tired, and having trouble concentrating? It could be that your B vitamins are low. The collective group of all 8 B vitamins as a supplement are called “vitamin B complex” and here’s what they help with in your body:
• Energy levels
• Mood regulation
• Muscle tone and performance
• Brain function
• Red blood cell growth
• Digestion and appetite
• Hormones and cholesterol levels
• Cardiovascular health
• Overall cell health
Did you know there are foods that contain almost zero calories? While they may be extremely low in calories, that doesn’t mean they don’t do anything for you. Here are some foods with low calories that also pack a nutritional punch:
1 cup = 27 calories
Vitamin K, folate
• Bell Peppers
1 cup = 46 calories
Vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K, riboflavin, niacin, folate, potassium, fiber
1 cup = 31 calories
Vitamins C and K, folate, potassium, manganese
• Brussels Sprouts
1 cup = 38 calories
Fiber, vitamins C and K, potassium, iron
1 cup = 22 calories
Vitamins C, K, and B6, folate, fiber
1 cup = 53 calories
Vitamin A, fiber, potassium
1 cup = 25 calories
Vitamins C, K, and B6, fiber, folate
1 cup = 16 calories
Fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, potassium
1 cup = 33 calories
Vitamins A, K, C, and B6, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, iron, thiamin, antioxidants
You may have heard the phrase “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” from ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. But did you know he would prescribe garlic to people as treatment for a variety of conditions? Modern human research has now backed up his claims in what garlic can do for you:
• Lower Blood Pressure
The anti-inflammatory properties of garlic help blood flow through your body easier, which may result in lower blood pressure overall. A study found that people that supplemented with 600-1,500 mg of aged garlic lowered blood pressure by up to 10%.
• Lower Cholesterol
Over time, garlic supplementation may lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels while keeping HDL (the “good” stuff) levels where they’re at.
• Heart Health
Aside from the two benefits mentioned above, garlic may also relax hardened blood vessels and reduce blood clots by increasing nitric oxide production.
• Immunity Boost
Garlic can decrease the number of times you get a cold throughout the year, shorten the amount of time you have symptoms, and decrease their severity.
• Boost Athletic Performance
The heart-boosting benefits of garlic can lead to an increase in athletic performance. Some participants in a study found that their peak heart rate improved and they could exercise longer without feeling as tired.
Regular garlic use may lead to things like improved brain function and even softer skin thanks to the antioxidants it contains.
If your metabolism is higher, you can burn more calories and it’ll be easier to keep your weight where you’d like and avoid excess fat. Did you know certain foods can actually help give your metabolism a boost?
• High-Protein Foods
You actually burn calories by digesting food and it takes more energy to digest protein than it does fat and carbs. Foods like fish, meat, eggs, legumes, and nuts could help boost your metabolism for a couple hours.
• Spicy Foods
A chemical called capsaicin that’s found in chili peppers can help increase your metabolism by burning around 50 extra calories per day. It’s also been found to help reduce your appetite so you can avoid giving in to cravings.
• Iron, Zinc, and Selenium-Rich Foods
Proper function of your thyroid can be supported by getting the right amounts of iron, zinc, and selenium in your diet. Foods like meat, seafood, legumes, and nuts are all good sources that can help support a healthy thyroid and metabolism.
Caffeine has been shown to potentially increase metabolic rate by 11% and can even help with workout performance, but keep in mind the effects of caffeine vary for each individual.
Most tea contains a combo of caffeine and plant-based flavonoids that can give you a metabolism boost. In particular, oolong and green teas may boost your metabolism enough to burn an extra 100 calories per day.
Simply dissolving ginger in water can help burn 43 additional calories.
• Coconut Oil
MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides are very popular right now due to how your body processes them. Unlike most long-chain fats, MCTs go straight to your liver to be used as energy, which keeps them from being stored as fat. This can help increase metabolic rates and reduce belly fat.
You won’t find another fruit like the avocado. It’s unique texture, appearance, and taste are interesting enough (did you know they’re sometimes referred to as “alligator pears”?) but their nutritional benefits are even better.
🥑 Avocados are packed with 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamins K, B5, B6, E, folate, and potassium.
🥑 The amount of potassium in avocados is actually higher than bananas per serving, coming in at 14% of your daily amount versus 10% in bananas.
🥑 They’re rich in fiber with 7g in a 3.5oz serving.
🥑 While avocados have 9g of carbs per serving, the 7g of fiber make them only 2g of net carbs.
🥑 They’re high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that’s similar to the fat found in olive oil.
🥑 While they’re packed with good stuff, they don’t contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fat.
🥑 Avocados are high in antioxidants and even boost antioxidant absorption from other foods due to their fat content.
• There are three main types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and fiber.
• You’ll also likely hear them referred to as “whole/complex” versus “refined/simple” carbs.
• Whole or simple carbs are unprocessed and have all of their natural fiber content intact.
• Refined or complex carbs have been processed, which causes the fiber content to be removed or altered.
• Examples of whole/complex carbs include: whole grains, vegetables, potatoes, quinoa, legumes, nuts.
• Examples of refined/simple carbs include: white bread, pastries, sugary drinks, candy, cookies.
• Refined carbs tend to cause larger spikes in blood sugar levels because they’re low in fiber and digested quickly. This usually causes you to have a post-carb crash and can lead to additional cravings and hunger signals. This type of carb usually doesn’t provide much nutritional benefit.
• Whole carbs usually contain more nutrients and fiber and will spike blood sugar levels much less than refined carbs. These are better choices for carbs and contain all their natural fiber and typically offer more nutrition than refined carbs.
• Instead of focusing on carbs as being “good” or “bad”, focus on increasing whole carb options over refined.
• “Macro” is short for “macronutrient”.
• It refers to one of the three categories of nutrients you eat most often - protein, carbs, and fats.
• If you hear someone say they’ve been “counting their macros” it simply means they’re tracking what types of food they eat to determine the balance of protein, carbs, and fats they’re consuming.
• You can use this balance to try and achieve different fitness and nutrition goals such as adding muscle or reducing body fat.
• There’s no standard amount of macros that one person should eat, as it all depends on your individual makeup. It’s best to see where you’re at currently, use that as your baseline, and then make changes to see what works best for your body.
• Counting macros doesn’t replace counting calories, unfortunately. You still have to take calories into account but it will show you what kind of calories your diet is made up of.
• Apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt make it fairly easy to see how the food you eat throughout the day stacks up as macros.
Protein is a critical part of a healthy diet. It supports a wide variety of functions in your body and you hear people talk about it quite a bit in regards to nutrition. Why’s it such a big deal?
Along with exercise and strength training, consuming protein supports healthy muscle mass by improving the repairing and building of new muscle tissue after a strenuous workout.
You may have noticed that sometimes after you eat certain things, you don’t feel full. Protein has been shown to reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin, leaving you feeling satisfied after a meal that includes good amounts of protein. Goodbye, cravings!
While it doesn’t guarantee no sickness will happen, protein is an important part of fighting off viruses and bacteria. Consuming protein stimulates your immune system and provides it with the materials it needs to increase your defenses.
After an injury or an intense workout, protein helps your body heal by rebuilding tissues that were damaged, hopefully coming back even stronger than they were before.
After you eat protein, the process of breaking it down for digestion requires more energy than most other macros, which can give your body a temporary metabolism boost.
Just like when a sweet tooth craving hits, the quest for salty snacks can be powerful too. Unfortunately some of them come with nutritional baggage like high calorie counts and too much grease and unnecessary fat. Keep an eye on your sodium intake, especially if you have high blood pressure, but your body does need some salt for normal functions. Here are some ideas you can reach for to satisfy your craving and stay on track:
Olives contain high amounts of antioxidants and pair well with a couple of cheese slices for a low-carb snack.
• Roasted Seasoned Chickpeas
Easy to make with lots of flavor, crunch, and even some protein and fiber.
• Salted Macadamia Nuts
Watch the portions but these can be really satisfying and pair well with fruit for a salty/sweet combo.
• Cottage Cheese
On its own, cottage cheese has around 30% of your daily sodium recommendation per cup so it can help knock out that salty craving.
• Cheese and Crackers
A classic combo where you can pick out the best crackers for your needs (whole grain ingredients, 3g of fiber, no added sugars) and pick your favorite cheese. Very satisfying!
• Rice Cakes and Nut Butter
Adding a couple tablespoons of your choice of nut butter to a whole grain rice cake makes them way more exciting and you’ll end up getting some healthy fats, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.
Spring is a wonderful time of year where everything comes to life with bright colors but it can be hard to enjoy if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Everything from headaches to congestion to itchy eyes are all a part of welcoming in the new season for those with allergies. Here are some foods that may help get you through:
🌼 Fresh Vegetables
Vegetables are always a good idea. For allergy relief go with carrots, yams, cabbage, beets, and Swiss chard as they’re high in quercetin. This natural compound can reduce inflammation and block histamines.
🌼 Citrus Fruits
Citrus is high in vitamin C, which can help soothe irritation of the upper respiratory system that can be caused by airborne pollen.
🌼 Spicy Foods
If congestion has you down, consider adding flavorful and spicy dishes like curry or spicy salsa to your menu. Cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon can all help open up your nasal passages to get things moving and even break down toxins in your body.
A compound in turmeric called curcumin can help calm a variety of inflammatory conditions. Turmeric can be taken as pills or it can be ground up and sprinkled on foods such as eggs, soups, or beans. Adding black pepper with it helps your body absorb it even better.
Not only are tomatoes a good source of vitamin C, they also contain an antioxidant called lycopene that can help reduce inflammation in your body. It’s been found that lycopene is absorbed better when the tomatoes have been cooked.