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  • An Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

    A quick Google search will give you thousands of tips for weight loss and living healthy. Unfortunately, the internet is overflowing with myths and hacks that are rooted in pseudoscience. For that reason, finding genuine weight loss advice can be difficult. Fortunately, intermittent fasting is an effective eating plan that can help you lose fat and maintain a healthy weight. Moreover, fasting can prevent certain diseases and improve your overall health In this post, we’ll introduce intermittent fasting and discuss popular fasting methods. Then, we’ll explain three ways it can benefit your lifestyle. Let’s get started! What Is Intermittent Fasting (IF) Intermittent fasting (IF) is a time-restricted eating plan that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. Fasting focuses on when you eat while diets focus on what you eat. With fasting, you restrict the timeframe in which you eat instead of restricting your calorie intake: During a fast, you can generally drink water, coffee, tea, and other calorie-free liquids. However, no solid foods or calorie-containing drinks are permitted. Then, after you break your fast, there is no restriction on what you eat. In the past few decades, more and more people have turned to fasting to help regulate weight and support their health. However, religions across the globe have practiced fasting for centuries. Moreover, fasting to heal your body dates back to ancient Greece when Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” prescribed food abstinence to treat specific ailments and medical conditions. Intermittent Fasting Methods The body naturally undergoes a fasting period when we sleep. That’s why breakfast is eaten in the morning; because we are breaking the fasted state. Therefore, if you’re getting enough sleep, you’re naturally fasting for at least eight hours a night. Nonetheless, avid fasters might extend fasting periods to 12-24 hours (sometimes even longer). There are several ways you can fast, such as: Time-restricted eating: Fast every day for a set time, such as 12/12, 14/10, 16/8, etc. 5:2 method: Restrict calories to 500-600 for two days and eat normally for five days. Eat-stop-eat: Fast for 24 hours for up to two non-consecutive days a week. While there are endless fasting variations, caloric requirements vary from person to person. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest one method is more beneficial than the others. That’s why you should consult your doctor, dietitian, or nutrition coach before beginning a fasting regimen. They can evaluate your current lifestyle and incorporate fasting into a custom eating plan to help you reach your goals. The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting Since each body is different, the effects of fasting will vary from one person to another. Nonetheless, emerging research suggests fasting can aid in weight management, regulate body function, and improve overall health. 1. Maintain a Healthy Weight Our bodies store extra calories as fat when we eat too much. However, in a fasted state, the body can use those extra fat stores as fuel. When we fast, there is a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy. Typically, the switch occurs after 10-12 hours of fasting. However, it can happen sooner, depending on your activity levels. For instance, if you work out in a fasted state, the body will require excess fuel sooner than if you stay sedentary: What’s more, by shortening your eating window, you may naturally consume fewer calories throughout the day. Unless you overcompensate for missed calories, fasting can help create a calorie deficit and reduce overeating. 2. Boost Cellular Repair Additionally, fasting can trigger the body's cellular waste removal process called autophagy. Over time, stress and free radicals damage the cells in our body. Through autophagy, our bodies clear out dysfunctional cell parts and recycle the salvageable ones into new, healthy cells. This process is triggered when our cells aren’t getting enough resources. Thus, depriving the body of nutrients through fasting can encourage autophagy. 3. Reduce Inflammation Inflammation has been strongly linked to obesity and various chronic diseases. Yet, researchers found that fasting for 24 hours can reduce inflammation by ramping up levels of a chemical in the blood called arachidonic acid. Furthermore, scientists believe that consistently fasting for a long period can mitigate chronic inflammation associated with certain diseases. Get Started with Our Nutritionists Intermittent fasting can help you maintain a healthy weight and boost your overall health. Moreover, by restricting your eating window, you can increase cellular repair, reduce inflammation, and improve your quality of life. Are you ready to kickstart your healthy journey with a custom nutrition plan? Our registered dietitians can tailor a plan for your goals and help you get started with intermittent fasting. Sign up for your free consultation today! Image credit: Cats Coming, Nicola Barts

  • The Benefits of Assisted Stretching

    Stretching keeps the musculoskeletal system strong. Yet, solo stretches can only do so much for your body, especially if you're not doing them correctly (or at all . . . we see you). Performing assisted stretches with a trained practitioner can keep your muscles healthy and flexible. When your muscles are long and limber, you can perform better, recover faster, and mitigate injuries. In this post, we’ll explain what assisted stretching is and discuss how it can benefit you. Let’s get started! What Is Assisted Stretching? Assisted stretching, also known as Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), is a technique in which a practitioner guides an individual through a series of passive stretches. This type of stretching involves both stretching and contracting muscle groups to achieve maximum static flexibility. When performed correctly, PNF stretching isolates specific muscle groups to reach a much deeper range of motion than you would by stretching yourself. While everyone can and should stretch by themselves, they commonly perform stretches ineffectively. However, assisted stretching ensures your muscles move correctly to achieve an effective stretch. For instance, when getting your hamstring stretched, you’ll lie on your back and extend the leg into its lengthened position. Then, you’ll push your foot into your partner's hand, and contract your hamstring: At this time, your practitioner will gently apply pressure to push your muscle into a deeper stretch. By relying on your partner, you can relax and focus on breathing through the stretch. The Benefits of PNF Stretching Fitness coaches and physical therapists alike utilize PNF stretching techniques to treat clients for various ailments. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or trying to improve mobility, ​a customized stretching routine with a trainer can help improve your quality of life. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of assisted stretching. 1. Reduce Muscle and Joint Pain Contractility is a muscle’s ability to shorten and elongate. We use it to perform daily activities, such as getting out of bed in the morning. However, our muscle contractility naturally declines as we age. Furthermore, the muscle-tendon complex becomes stiffer with age. Thus, increasing the difficulty of producing everyday movements and limiting our range of motion. For these reasons, we become prone to muscle aches and pains as we get older. ​Nonetheless, with the help of a trained practitioner, you can loosen stiff muscles and target persistent aches to relieve stress and decrease soreness. Over time, your muscles will become longer, leaner, and more flexible. With strong muscles and tendons, you can mitigate joint stress and reduce muscle pain. Moreover, weak muscles cannot fully extend, which can cause muscle soreness after exercise and lead to strains and injuries. By incorporating assisted stretching into your routine, you will likely reduce post-workout soreness and prevent injuries. 2. Improve Range of Motion (ROM) Range of Motion (ROM) describes how far a joint or muscle can comfortably move in a particular direction. We use ROM daily to climb stairs, stand up, and walk around. Yet, tight muscles lead to poor ROM. Moreover, if one joint becomes stiff, it affects the mobility of an entire system. Studies show that performing assisted stretches twice weekly can significantly improve range of motion and functionality, specifically in older individuals. That’s because assisted stretching provides a deeper stretch for better muscle stimulation. Yet, assisted stretching is not just for older adults. It can also help reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle by elongating and strengthening the muscles. In doing so, it can minimize muscle tightness and improve posture. 3. Enhance Performance As assisted stretching improves your range of motion, you’ll likely see a boost in athletic performance and daily activities. That’s because muscles short, tight muscles operate below their full potential. However, when you increase the flexibility of a muscle-tendon unit with PNF, you will gradually improve your athletic performance: Since your muscles can elongate more freely, you can achieve greater power and strength during exercise and daily activities. Therefore, a specialized stretch routine can boost performance and help you safely hit new PRs while avoiding injuries. 4. Accelerate Recovery Assisted stretching is critical during recovery after a musculoskeletal injury or surgery, such as a torn rotator cuff. That’s because it strengthens the weakened area and retrains the joints, muscles, and ligaments to move safely: Practicing assisted stretching during rehabilitation will help improve flexibility and increase ROM to get you back on your feet faster. Therefore, incorporating it into your rehab will boost recovery and prevent further injuries. Moreover, stretching increases blood flow and circulation to reduce swelling. Thus, it helps to mitigate pain and discomfort associated with inflammation. Take the Next Step While everyone can (and should!) stretch on their own, partner stretching can target specific muscles to achieve a deeper, more effective stretch. Doing this will improve flexibility and stimulate blood flow to keep your musculoskeletal system healthy. To recap, PNF stretching can: Reduce muscle soreness and joint pain. Improve range of motion. Enhance performance. Accelerate recovery after surgery or injury. Are you ready to mitigate pain, enhance performance, and improve your quality of life? Sign up for your free consultation today! Image credit: Karolina Grabowska, Ryutaro Tsukata

  • How to Eat Healthy on Vacation (3 Strategies)

    Vacation is the perfect time to indulge in special cuisine and decadent desserts. However, with generous resort packages, it’s easy to go overboard on the treats. Fortunately, by eating mindfully, you can avoid excess calories and keep your nutrition plan on track. In this post, we’ll discuss how to eat healthy on vacation. Let’s get started! Set Food Boundaries to Eat Healthy on Vacation Food boundaries are a series of clearly defined rules and standards to help guide your nutrition plan. Setting boundaries, such as stopping eating when you’re full and focusing on whole foods, makes you less likely to overindulge and deviate from your diet. In doing so, you can enjoy treats here and there while still eating healthy on vacation. While it’s best to determine your own boundaries with food, here are a few generic examples to get started: Eat 20 grams of protein at each meal Drink 80 ounces of water each day No eating after 8 p.m. Up to two alcoholic beverages a day Furthermore, If you know you’ll have trouble sticking to your boundaries, you can consult a registered nutritionist to keep you on track. A nutritionist will help you set clear boundaries with food and develop smart eating habits. Moreover, they will keep you motivated when you need an accountability partner. Pack Healthy Snacks Eating a snack or two throughout the day can help you stay satiated and feel energized between meals. However, finding healthier snacks while traveling can be challenging. When you pack nutrient-dense snacks, you can avoid processed foods and stick to your macro goals.  Plus, it’ll help you save money. Easy snacks to travel with include: Beef jerky Raw nuts, such as cashews, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts Fresh produce (if you’re traveling via car or train) Air-popped popcorn As a rule, try to keep your snacks under 250 calories. That way, you won’t ruin your appetite for the next meal. If you have trouble sticking to portion sizes, you can measure and package individual servings for easy grab-and-go snacks that fit your macros. Prioritize Protein Studies show that increased protein consumption reduces appetite and boosts metabolism. Therefore, when you prioritize protein in your meals and snacks, you can stay fuller for longer, decrease cravings, and fuel your body for vacation adventures. According to the Institute of Medicine, the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for protein is 0.8 of protein per kilogram of body weight. To find your RDI based on this metric, you can use the USDA’s RDI calculator. Nonetheless, If you are trying to gain muscle or lose weight, your RDI for protein should be much higher. In this case, our fitness coaches recommend eating one gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight (or .45 grams per pound). This means that if you weigh 160 pounds, you should be consuming at least 72 grams of protein each day. Incorporating lean proteins into every meal will ensure you reach your daily protein goals. Options can include: Eggs Yogurt Cottage cheese Chicken Turkey Fish Shrimp and other shellfish If you don’t want to concern yourself with counting protein, you can use an app like Cronometer. Once you input the food you eat, the app will calculate the calories and macros for you: MyFitnessPal and 1st Phorm App are also great tools for tracking your nutrition. By using a fitness app, you can easily track your food and ensure you’re eating healthy on vacation. Limit Alcohol Consumption While those fun and fruity cocktails may sound delicious, too much alcohol can seriously sabotage your nutrition plan. In addition to bloating, drinking can lead to late-night cravings and poor food choices. Moreover, most alcoholic beverages are chock full of empty calories and added sugar. For instance, a standard margarita with blanco tequila, orange liqueur, and agave syrup has over 200 calories and around 20 grams of sugar. Beer, seltzer, and wine aren’t much better. A glass of red wine is around 125 calories and typical light beers and seltzers are around 100. Since it can be difficult to abstain from alcohol completely, we recommend choosing drinks without the added sweetener. Instead of a seltzer, you can order a vodka and club soda with lemon, which will cost you 80 calories and no extra sugar: For extra flavor, consider packing electrolyte packets or another water enhancer to boost the taste. If you do decide to treat yourself, try limiting your consumption to less than three drinks per day. That way you can enjoy alcohol in moderation while keeping your nutrition plan on track. Keep Your Diet on Track with a Nutrition Coach Indulging during vacation isn’t going to derail your progress. However, overconsumption of calories, sugar, and alcohol can make it harder to return to your nutrition routine. You can stay on track during vacation by setting reasonable boundaries with yourself and practicing mindful eating. Do you want to get in tune with your health and learn how to make better food choices? Get a free consultation with our nutrition coach today! Image credit: Larrisa Deruzzi, Roman Odintsov

  • 3 Ways to Work Out on Vacation

    Working out and vacation don’t exactly go hand in hand. Nonetheless, snubbing your fitness goals for a week or two can make it harder to find the motivation when you return. Fortunately, by packing workout essentials and making time for a sweat session, you can avoid drifting away from your progress on vacation. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of staying active on trips. Then, we’ll explore three ways you can work out on vacation. Let’s get started! The Benefits of Working Out on Vacation According to a study by Expedia, 53% of Americans believe it is important to exercise while traveling. While around half of those respondents work out to balance indulgent food, others use fitness-related activities to facilitate an authentic experience and explore new surroundings. While vacation is a time to unwind, getting a quality workout each day can make your trip more enjoyable. Furthermore, you’ll likely return to the gym feeling sluggish if you completely disregard your workout routine on vacation. When you make time for exercise, it’ll be easier to get back to your daily regimen when you return from traveling. How to Stay Active on Vacation (3 Ways) Hotels and rentals don’t always offer adequate fitness equipment. So, you may need to get creative if you want to exercise while traveling. Let’s take a look at three ways to work out on vacation. 1. Find a Gym If you have a strict regimen or are working towards a strength goal, you probably don’t want to take a week or two off from training. In this case, finding a quality gym is the best way to work out on vacation. If your accommodation already has a state-of-the-art gym facility, you’ll be set. However, many accommodations provide simple fitness rooms with a handful of cardio machines and few weights. Fortunately, you can typically find a local gym with everything you need. For domestic travel, you can sign up for free trials at popular fitness chains, like Crunch, LA Fitness, and Planet Fitness. For international travel, you can reach out to your hotel to find local options that offer day passes. 2. Travel with Workout Equipment If you travel with workout equipment, you’ll have all the tools necessary to transform your hotel room into a personal gym. Accordingly, you won’t need to find a gym or rely on outdated fitness centers. Plus, you’ll be more likely to work out when you have the tools in front of you. If you drive to your destination, you can bring your favorite weights or a mini stepper. However, if you’re flying and need to pack light, we suggest: Resistance bands 1-2 lb walking weights A pilates ball A jump rope You can also schedule virtual one-on-one personal training sessions to ensure you stay on track during vacation. A fitness coach will tailor sessions around the equipment you can access, even if it’s just your body weight. That way, you can get a solid workout and continue working towards your goals on vacation. 3. Schedule a Workout into Your Itinerary Even when you have the tools and a gym at your disposal, you may not have the motivation to get a workout in. However, putting it on your schedule can give you the push you need to get it done. For example, you can wake up 30 minutes early and start your day with a morning walk to explore: Exercising first thing in the morning will boost your mood and give you energy for the rest of your daily activities. You can also schedule adventurous excursions in place of a workout. Activities such as snorkeling, hiking, or a bike tour, will get your heart rate up and keep you active. That way, you won’t need to set aside additional time for a dedicated workout. Follow These Tips to Stay Active on Vacation Pausing your regular workouts can help your body reset during vacation. Nevertheless, maintaining an exercise routine (even a low-impact one) can help you maintain your fitness level and avoid feeling sluggish when you return. To recap, here are three ways to stay active on vacation: Find a gym. Travel with workout equipment. Schedule a workout into your itinerary. Are you ready to get a jumpstart on your fitness goals? Get a free consultation with a strength and conditioning coach today! Image credit: Pexels, Pexels

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