How To Eat Low Carb On A Budget

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"I'd love to eat low-carb but I don't think I can afford it!" Have you thought this before? I know I have heard it before.

The benefits of a low carb diet are clear, but many people are put off because they think that a low carb diet has to be expensive. The truth is, eating low carb doesn't have to break the bank. You don't need to buy expensive foods or ingredients! In fact, you can eat delicious, healthy, and inexpensive meals every day. Read on to learn more about how to eat low carb without blowing your budget. 

Plan For Success

The most important part of eating low carb on a budget is the planning. Having a clear plan every week saves tons of time and effort. Start by browsing the weekly sale ad from your local grocery store to see what's on sale. From there, you can sketch out a meal plan for the week, based around those nutritious and tasty ingredients. You should be able to easily plan how much it will be for daily breakfast, lunch and dinner (or if you practice intermittent fasting, that's even easier!). Always plan to have a few extra snacks on hand, as this can help stop you from splurging on expensive, last minute treats.

If you have more than one local grocery store, compare prices. It may be worth the extra few miles of driving if you can save some serious money on food. If one store has free-range eggs on sale and the other has a sale on chicken, don't hesitate to stop for both.

One of the most helpful things you can do is put a few hours aside each week (maybe on the weekend) to map out your plan. During this time you can:

  • Plan out your grocery shopping.  After looking at your local store's weekly ad, write out a detailed list of everything you need to buy. Armed with a list, you'll be less likely to splurge once you get to the store.

  • Map out your meals for the week. Know what you'll be having for dinner each night of the week. Plan quick and easy meals for your busiest nights, and be sure that you know what you'll be packing for lunch during the weekdays. 

  • Prep foods you know you'll be using. You can pre-chop veggies, cook meat, and make soups or stews ahead of time. Keep pre-portioned meals in the fridge, so when you're hungry you already have a delicious low-carb meal on hand. Portion out snacks like nuts into containers or bags so you know you won't overindulge, and you'll always have something to grab when hunger strikes. When all your food is ready and on hand, you won't have any excuse to grab expensive takeout. 

Strategize Your Shopping

When you head to the grocery store, make sure you optimize your time and money. There are a few tricks to keep in mind to really stretch your grocery budget. First, make sure you head to the store with a list and don't stray from it. If you see something that you use a lot of on sale for a good deal, stock up and freeze it for later use. 

On a low-carb diet, you most likely don't even need to venture into the aisles of the store – you can just stick to the perimeter. That's where the most healthy, least processed foods are waiting. Fruits, veggies, meat, cheese, eggs and other staples are easily accessible, and you won't be tempting yourself with expensive, processed foods. 

Protein is Key

On a low-carb diet, your protein sources can be one of the more expensive items at the grocery store, but if you strategize your meat buying, you'll find that buying meat won't necessarily force you to go over budget. 

Often, it's cheaper to buy a whole chicken and portion it out yourself, instead of buying just chicken breasts, thighs, or legs. If you portion out a chicken by hand, you can also save the bones to make nourishing bone broth later. 

Also, try cuts of meat that you haven't necessarily considered before. For example, organ meat is much cheaper (and denser in nutrients) than muscle meat, but so many people are afraid to try it. Liver, onions, and bacon is a fantastic, healthy, and surprisingly tasty meal, and buying cow liver is much cheaper than buying steak.

Produce Power

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Fresh produce is an important staple in any healthy diet, and while some vegetables and fruits are high in carbs, sticking to lower carb avove the ground veggies will deliver nutrients that can help your body thrive. Look for seasonal veggies instead of buying expensive ones when they're out of season, and don't be afraid to go for frozen vegetables as well. They're just as healthy as their fresh counterpart, and you can be sure that you'll always have healthy veggies on hand in the freezer.

Also, keep in mind that convenience comes at a cost. Many stores have pre-cut veggies available, which makes dishes like stir-fry quick and easy, however, you pay for the prep work. If you set aside prep time every week, you won't need to spend the extra money on pre-shredded cabbage or pre-chopped broccoli.

Buying Smart

Sticking to a budget can be hard, but always buy the best quality that you can afford. Sure, free range chicken, grass fed beef, wild fish and organic produce is higher quality, but it can also be much more expensive, depending on where you shop. But you can always be sure that eating healthy, fresh food, even if it isn't organic, is much better for your body than pizza, soda, fast food, or other processed junk. So don't feel bad about buying the store brand canned salmon instead of the fresh fillets. Splurge on the good stuff when you can, and make the best possible choices when your budget is tight.

Another important thing to remember is to keep it as simple as you can. You don't need fancy cheese or expensive nuts to satisfy you. Grocery stores will upcharge trendy foods like kale because they know it will sell. Turnip greens, spinach, swiss chard, or collard greens are just as healthy, but can usually be found for much cheaper. A simple salad packed with superfoods makes a great meal and can be put together with affordable ingredients. Get familiar with all the different produce options, and how to cook them to make healthy and delicious side dishes. Be adventurous! 

Cooking healthy, delicious low carb meals for yourself and your family can be rewarding, and you'll add an impressive set of recipes to your repertoire. Herbs and spices don't add carbs to your meals and they can bring simple dishes to a whole new level. Buy herbs and spices in bulk, and they'll last you for months.

Final Thoughts

Maybe you've tried a low carb diet in the past without much success, or you got discouraged about how much you were spending. But the truth is, low carb is a healthy choice, and healthy choices are for everyone, not just the wealthy. If you spend some time planning out your meals weekly and get to know all the secrets of your grocery store, you'll find that eating low carb is easier and cheaper than you ever expected. It just takes a bit of strategy, and some creativity to kickstart your low carb lifestyle. 

 

Simple Salad Recipes

You don’t have to be a chef extraordinaire to put together a tasty and filling salad! You might need an easy go to lunch or something to complement your dinner but you’re overwhelmed by all the complicated recipes online. These simple salads are made up of only 5-6 ingredients and feature healthy options for salad dressings that you can make from your own kitchen. If you’ve got a busy schedule this week, try mixing together a larger batch of each salad, double the dressing recipe and set aside the dressing and salad mix in Tupperware to take with you on the go! 

Greek Salad 

Ingredients:

2 chopped heads of romaine lettuce
1/2 sliced purple onion
2 sliced roma tomatoes
1 sliced cucumber
1 cup sliced Kalamata olives
2 tbsp feta 

Greek Salad Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 minced garlic clove 
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Walnut & Strawberry Spinach Salad 

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 cup sliced strawberries 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Italian Mixed Greens Salad 

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of mixed greens 
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes 
1/2 cup sliced black olives 
1 cup garbanzo beans 
1/2 chopped purple onion

Italian Salad Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Also,  try adding your favorite protein to any of these salads and make sure to let us know which is your favorite! 

Photo Cred: Food Network, Cookie+Kate, WeightWatchers

How to Incorporate More Superfoods Into Your Nutrition

Achieving your best health ever a lot easier when you incorporate superfoods into your nutrition. But what are superfoods? Superfoods are considered nutritional powerhouses because they are low-calorie whole foods that pack loads of nutrients into every bite.

Ready to expand your palate? Not all superfoods are as exotic or hard to find as you think! Here are 6 everyday superfoods you should try, plus easy ways you can fit them into your healthy eating plan.

Almonds

Why it’s super: When it comes to weight loss, almonds and other nuts often get a bad rap for their high fat and calorie content. But almonds are a rich source of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats—just be sure to eat them in moderation. Not only are they nutritionally dense, almonds are a good source of fiber and protein, plus minerals, like iron, magnesium, and calcium.

How to enjoy it: Grab a small handful (about 100 calories) and pair them with a serving of dark chocolate for a delicious afternoon snack. Or try sprinkling slivered almonds over your salad for a crunchy alternative to croutons.

 

 


Kale

Why it’s super: Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that’s bursting with nutrients. In fact, kale is more nutrient-dense than nearly any of other whole food. It’s packed with antioxidants like carotenoids, flavonoids, and isothiocyanates, which may lessen the risk of certain cancers. It’s also a fantastic source of vitamin A for eye health, fiber for a healthy gut, and omega-3 fatty acids for blocking inflammation in the body.

How to enjoy it: Serve sautéed kale with caramelized onions as a side dish for dinner. Or liven up lunch by tossing raw kale into your salad. 

 

 

Apples

Why it’s super: Crunchy, delicious, and easy to munch on when you’re on the go. What’s not to love about apples? They’re chock-full of antioxidants and other health-promoting nutrients that help the body to fight inflammation and many chronic diseases. Eating the fruit whole, rather than juiced, can aid in blood sugar control and may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Plus, they contain soluble fiber, which promotes weight loss because the stomach will feel fuller for longer.

How to enjoy it: Eat whole as a hand fruit or add apple chunks to your fruit cup for a savory snack. You can also pair apples and cheese as healthy party appetizers.

 

 

 


 

Garlic Cloves

Why it’s super: Garlic is often used to make prepared foods taste better, but it has also been used as a plant-based medicine for thousands of years. Garlic contains bioactive sulfur compounds that have the potential to fight certain cancers, such as those in the breast, stomach, or colon. It can also be used to treat metabolic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases like arteriosclerosis and hypertension.

How to enjoy it: Purée fresh or roasted garlic cloves and add them to homemade hummus dips, sauces, and soups!

 

 

Avocados

Why it’s super: Not only are avocados teeming with vitamins and minerals, they may help to boost the absorption of nutrients from other whole foods as well—meaning you get double the health benefits. Avocados are a good source of healthy fats that promote weight loss. And because avocados are a high-fiber fruit, they naturally increase good cholesterol levels (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL).

How to enjoy it: No matter how you take your eggs, add a few slices of avocado to your plate for a powerhouse breakfast. Or try substituting mayo on your sandwich for slices of creamy and buttery avocado. 

 

Dark Chocolate

Why it’s super: A nibble of dark chocolate a day may play an important role in helping the mind age well. That’s because dark chocolate is powered by cocoa flavanols, which promote healthy blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Better circulation also leads to improved cognitive function and can enhance learning, memory, and focus. And good circulation may lower the risk of stroke by encouraging the heart to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

How to enjoy it: As an occasional treat, a square or two of dark chocolate can be a tasty way to indulge a craving without the guilt. You can also mix dark chocolate cocoa powder with Greek yogurt for a high-protein snack that will fuel your body after a workout. 

 

 

 

Superfoods may be good for you, but the magic happens when you make them part of a well-balanced diet. Be sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fats and proteins, and other foods to get all of the nutrients your body needs. How will you work more superfoods into your meals and snacks? Let the community know in the comments below!

 

 

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese by Nourished Balance

When you're first implementing healthier alternatives to your diet and nutrition, you can start to have some serious cravings for those go-to meals you used to make on a regular basis. This is especially true for those comfort foods we crave after a long day, like a big bowl of mac & cheese. This is why we love this recipe here at Boundless Health, it's the perfect healthy alternative to your classic mac & cheese that still satisfies your appetite for something cheesy and delicious. Thank you to Nourished Balance for our favorite "mac & cheese" recipe! 

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese 

Ingredients

  1. 5 cups cauliflower florets, cut into bite size pieces
  2. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  3. 1 cup coconut milk
  4. 1/2 cup chicken stock (or homemade broth)
  5. 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  6. 1 organic egg, beaten
  7. 2 Tbsps Nutritional yeast
  8. 2 cups organic mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking dish with unsalted butter
  2. Place cauliflower pieces in steamer basket, add a pinch of salt. Steam until al dente (not too soft, not too hard)
  3. Spread cauliflower pieces evenly at the bottom of the baking dish
  4. In a saute pan over medium heat, heat up the coconut milk- add a pinch of salt and pepper
  5. Add the broth and keep stirring- then add the coconut flour heat until simmering
  6. Take pan off the heat, add the egg and nutritional yeast to the sauce and stir with a fork until well incorporated
  7. The sauce will thicken- pour over the cauliflower. Add the cheese evenly and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  8. Turn the oven onto broil for 3-5 minutes to get a nice brown coloring on top.

And don't forget to eat mindfully so you truly enjoy each bite of this savory meal! 

Forget Weight loss – Focus on Your Health First!

Each month, there are an estimated 4 million google searches about weight loss. 4 million!

 

On the one hand, that is an astounding number. On the other hand, considering more than one-third of U.S. Adults are obese with two-thirds overweight, along with alarming rates of growing obesity within our youth, suddenly 4 million searches seem just about right.

 

Of even greater concern, this growing obesity epidemic has coincided with increasing occurrences of heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

 

It appears as if Google has yet to solve our obesity crisis. Why not?

 

One study suggests that Less than 3% of Americans are living a generally healthy lifestyle. Less than 3%! That means less then 3% of Americans are:

  • Performing moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes a week
  • Following a healthy diet as defined by the healthy eating index
  • Maintaining a body fat percentage of under 20 percent for men or 30 percent for women
  • Not smoking

 

It’s not lack of information that is most likely the issue. It’s the lack of attention to our behaviors and habits and our mindset regarding a healthy lifestyle.

 

We live in an impatient world that is addicted to convenience. We expect everything, from our food to our information, to be packed in a neat and convenient package for immediate consumption.

 

It is this attitude that has led many who are suffering from obesity to resort to weight loss drugs or dramatic interventions popularized by T.V. shows such as The Biggest Loser.

 

Unfortunately, neither of these options are making our society healthier.

 

Why?

 

Because weight loss by itself does not equate to better health. And because our health can’t be solved with convenience.

 

Weight loss drugs: Wrong Goal- Wrong Approach

 

Over the course of the last few years, weight loss drugs such as Qnexa, Contrave, & Lorcaserin have hit the market and have seemingly become the solution for many people’s weight loss problem.

 

But, if you dig deeper, these drugs are anything but a solution. Significant side effects, not to mention exorbitant costs, limit their efficacy.

 

Contrave (ranging from $55 to $200 depending on the plan) demonstrated 9% weight loss after 56-weeks with the most common side effect being nausea (did it work by making people feel sick so they ate less? One has to wonder).

 

Lorcaserin, also known as Belviq (starting at $213), also showed modest results. In its main study, only half of the subjects taking the drug lost more than 5% of their body weight. Once the drug was stopped, most regained the weight. The main side effect again was nausea, along with headache and dizziness. Are you seeing a pattern?

 

Lastly, a panel of FDA advisors recently voted against the approval of Qnexa. It showed a modest 5% weight loss and showed increased depression, trouble concentrating and suicidal thoughts. Hardly a path to health.

 

One of the biggest problems is that these drugs aren’t changing anyone’s behavior toward food. They aren’t changing habits or mindsets. Instead, they’re applying a band aid to the problem, creating a reliance on the drug, and ultimately helping the drug company shareholders more than your health.

 

What else can we do if drugs aren’t the answer? Unfortunately, some have taken it even further to create a surgical form of bulimia. The AspireAssist is a pump that is surgically implanted into the stomach so that you can drain out what you just ate. The studies show that it can help you lose weight. No question about it. But what about your nutrition, vitamins, energy, and quality of life? Apparently, those are less important for some.

 

These weight loss drugs and surgeries are a direct contradiction to the development of healthy habits. Habits that create and maintain our health. It may not be easy to adopt these habits, but easy rarely leads to the best results.

 

Where can America learn the healthy habits that will produce results?

 

The biggest loser? It’s society that loses

 

The T.V. show The Biggest Loser has caught the attention and hearts of the American public for years. Watching men and women shed pounds along with witnessing the emotional hurdles they overcome is a powerful representation of overcoming health struggles.

 

But there’s a lot of the story that isn’t displayed on the television screen.

 

Contestants are losing weight and following strategies that aren’t kind to their metabolism and aren’t likely to succeed in the future. Astudy done on contestants from season 8 of the biggest loser found the majority regained most or all of the weight, and they showed a significant slowing of their resting metabolism. A slower metabolism makes it that much harder to keep the weight off. In essence, their own bodies were fighting against their efforts to lose weight.

 

Here’s a more sustainable alternative

 

If weight loss drugs and rapid weight loss programs aren’t the answer, then what is?

 

  1. Focus on your entire lifestyle, not just one part

 

We frequently hear about nutrition and exercise, but paying attention to factors such as sleep and stress levels will pay huge dividends with your health and weight loss as well.

 

When your body does not respond well to stress, the increased cortisol and adrenaline hormones sabotage your weight loss efforts, and negatively impact your overall health.

 

A regular mindfulness or meditation practice is the first step in correcting your body’s reaction to stress. Over time, your stress hormone response will diminish and your body will more efficiently lose weight and restore health.

 

The same applies to sleep. A poor night’s sleep is one of the best ways to sabotage our health or weight loss goals. It creates an imbalance in our leptin (I’m full hormone) and our Ghrelin (I’m hungry hormone), thus tricking our body into feeling hungry. That usually results in snacking on nutrient-poor, processed, high-carb foods. In short, a recipe for disaster.

 

  1. Commit to consistent activity

 

This doesn’t mean exhaustive boot camps or rigorous workouts for hours each day. Don’t get me wrong, those are great too. But they are not the only goal. Instead, focus on being active in your daily life.

 

In his book, Blue Zones, Dan Buettner identified the most common habits in societies where people live the longest. Guess what? They didn’t do triathlons or run marathons. Instead, they made regular physical activity a consistent part of their lifestyle.

 

If you can do that and still get your boot camp workouts done, fantastic! If not, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Develop the habits that will keep you moving. Start gardening, walk to do your errands, take the stairs. You have heard these before, now you just need to start doing them.

 

  1. Be okay with losing weight slowly

 

Slow and steady truly does win the race. Rapid, extreme weight loss disrupts our hormones and can create long-lasting metabolic changes that counteract our intentions in the future.

 

Focusing on healthy habits instead of weight loss ensures that your body does not react in a counterproductive way. Slow and steady is less likely to trigger deleterious hormonal and metabolic shifts within your body. And most importantly, slow and steady is more sustainable for the long term.

 

  1. Reframe your goal

 

If you want to lose 20, 50 or 100 pounds, this can be an overwhelming task.

 

To lessen the psychological toll of such a task, it’s better to break it up into mini goals and get small wins along the way.

 

Small victories can still have health benefits.  For example, 5% weight loss in obese individuals results in improved insulin sensitivity, an important factor for diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.

 

The small wins can add up to big wins, and the ultimate goal becomes less onerous and stressful.

 

Conclusion

 

If weight loss is your goal, stop and ask yourself why. Especially if you have considered weight loss drugs or intensive rapid weight loss programs. Take a moment to think about the difference between weight loss and health.

 

Being skinny but also stressed out and with a disturbed metabolism doesn’t sound like much of a victory.

 

Commit to healthy lifestyle habits, embrace them as part of who you are, and watch the weight steadily fall away. Slow and steady wins the race to your health.

Understanding Health Fads: Juice Cleanses

It’s hard to say when the juice cleanse craze began, but it’s definitely still here and probably not going anywhere soon. Whether it was the early 90s, or in the 2000’s when the internet started pouring out endless health tips, juice cleanses were deemed as the best way to “detox” and “lose weight fast”. Celebrities churn out endorsements for different juicing brands and you can even purchase pre-made juice cleanses sent right to your door step. The question is, are juice cleanses really a benefit to our health?

Let’s break down the two health claims that come from juicing and why they might not be so accurate…

Juice cleanses claim to act as a detox, a method to rid your body of toxins and reset itself to a healthier state. But what your body is actually detoxing from during a juice cleanse might be many of the essential nutrients we need for our body to properly function.

By only consuming fruit and vegetable juice we’re actually stripping out vital vitamins and minerals we need such as Vitamin D, E and B-12 that help power our metabolic functions, such as converting our food into glucose and energy.

And even though fruit and vegetable juices do contain many healthy vitamins such as Vitamin C, A & B, these vitamins need to work in conjunction with other foods to be best absorbed. Removing good fats from your diet prevents your body from processing those potentially healthy vitamins. In the end, you’re wasting your body's chance to absorb these great vitamins by restricting yourself to just vegetables and fruits and eliminating other valuable elements in your diet such as nuts, seeds and, yes even coconut oil (yes coconut oil can be part of a healthy eating pattern!)

Also, it’s important to note our body has its own detoxifying functions to keep you healthy and rid your system of anything it doesn't need. This is what your kidneys, liver and GI tract function as, organs that help rid our bodies of harmful substances. Keep those organs happy and healthy with a well-balanced eating pattern full of real foods and you should be fine functioning with just your own internal detox system!

The second biggest promise a juice cleanse offers is the opportunity to lose weight – fast. In a sense, this claim might actually be true because you are in fact reducing your daily calorie intake, sometimes to as low as just 1000 calories a day. However, if you're looking for a long-term weight loss solution, a juice cleanse will do anything but that for you.

The quick weight loss from a juice cleanse comes predominately from the loss of water weight because as your body is starved for calories it will turn to its stores of glycogen for energy and as your glycogen is depleted so is the water attached to it. So rather than any true fat loss being accomplished, your body is only losing the grams of water in the glycogen that it is burning to keep you functioning on the few calories you’re ingesting. Once you end the juice cleanse and return to your regular diet, your glycogen stores will quickly be replenished, along with the water attached to them, returning you to your initial weight.

If you really want to lose weight fast, you are better off with a fasting mimicking diet full of healthy fats and low carbohydrates. This helps you metabolize your own fat stores rather than burning through your stored glycogen. But even then, short term weight loss is not synonymous with health! In fact, it is usually quite the opposite.

In the end, a juice cleanse won’t deliver on either of its promises, and it will also lead to unpleasant side effects such as headaches, nausea and mood swings on top of faltering energy levels (usually from the lack of fiber and protein in your diet). As you can imagine, these side effects will only slow you down on your path to better health.

It might be appealing to consider a diet that promises to change your life in just 3-5 days, but with a juice cleanse not only is the change short lived, it’s not of considerable benefit to your overall health. To really make a lasting impact on your health, there are no short cuts. So don’t believe it when someone tries to sell you one.

Instead, make a long-term commitment to your health. Implement daily lifestyles that will help you feel better and be better. That involves smarter decisions around nutrition, exercise, mindfulness and more. To learn more and get practical tips on how to accomplish this, consider taking the first step to achieving your best health ever with the Boundless Health Program.

 

Don’t Invite Me to Your Dinner Party

Don't invite me to your dinner party.

 

Seriously. Don’t do it.

 

If you do, you may feel like I am judging you. Like I am watching your every move, critiquing and grading you.

 

I am not, of course. I wouldn’t think of doing that. But that is how many people feel. Whether it's the third course of the meal when you're already full, or any talk of dessert after you just ate the delicious third course, I can sense the glance in my direction to see how I respond.

 

And don’t get me started on your third beer or third glass of wine or the amazing homemade Challah bread. You feel like I am watching and judging.

 

At first, I was a little disturbed by the perception. Can’t I just be another friend at your dinner party? Can’t you just see me as Bret, and not as Dr. Scher?

 

But now I realize it's a sign of success. Success that you are starting to get the message. Success that you are starting to realize all the unconscious decisions that go into preparing a meal and hosting a party, and you are starting to make them more conscious.

 

Recognizing the automatic lifestyle decisions and giving them serious thought is a tremendous improvement for our lifestyle and our health.

 

That doesn’t mean we cannot indulge on occasion. You can still serve dessert, even if I am at your dinner party. You can still prepare more food than anybody needs to eat, including the homemade Challah.

 

But now you can do it consciously. Not because it is what you always do, or what you think your guests expect. You can do it knowing that it is a special occasion, a rare splurge that you intend to enjoy with your friends (and me, if I am invited).

 

Remember it's not about being perfect. It's about being better every day, every week, every month, every year. So, go ahead and enjoy your life. Indulge on occasion. Just understand that your path to health is an everyday path. Be present, and be aware of your decisions. Strive to be better.

 

And please keep inviting me to your dinner parties. I promise to behave.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Bret Scher, MD FACC

Cardiologist, author, founder of Boundless Health

www.DrBretScher.com 

 

 

 

4 Fitness Apps To Try

Living a healthy lifestyle has many benefits, from taking fewer trips to your healthcare provider each year to managing stress and anxiety with ease. Luckily, getting on the path to your best health ever is right in the palm of your hand. Here are 4 fitness apps you should try today.

MapMyFitness

If someone asked you to choose your favorite workout style, could you choose just one? With MapMyFitness, you don’t have to. Choose from dozens of traditional workouts, like swimming, jumping rope, and weightlifting, to less traditional activities, like bowling, fishing, and horseback riding.

MapMyFitness also offers outdoor training routes near you, which are created and shared by other users. Simply search for a route based on the type of activity you want to do, make sure the app has a good GPS signal, and start your workout. If you’re a creature of habit, you also have the option to add private routes to your profile and do them again as often as you like.

Got a favorite way to exercise outdoors? There are several versions of the “MapMy” apps to choose from:

  • MapMyRun
  • MapMyHike
  • MapMyRide
  • MapMyWalk

All versions work the same way in terms of functionality, but each one provides map suggestions tailored to the default activity.

Charity Miles

Make your workouts meaningful with Charity Miles. Research shows that giving can be good for your mental health. Why not give your mind and body a boost by earning money for charity while you get fit?

All you have to do is pick a charity, select an activity, and start tracking your mileage using your smartphone’s GPS. There are more than 30 world-class charities to choose from, including the ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, and Girls on the Run. Are you passionate about multiple causes? Charity Miles gives you the option to switch charities at any time.

A donation will be made for every mile you complete, and you can log miles through your choice of 5 outdoor and indoor activities. Once you tap to start tracking, the app lets you know who’s sponsoring your workout. Be sure to stop and save your miles when you’re done or your activity won’t count. (You can always tell the app to send you a reminder.)

Fitbit

Walking is a great way to boost your fitness level, lose weight, and feel healthier. It’s recommended that you get 10,000 steps a day, but how can you be sure you’re getting all those steps in? By tracking your daily steps with a wearable fitness device, like the Fitbit.

The Fitbit family of devices sync with the Fitbit app to give you a real-time look at your day. And you can track more than just exercise—the app allows you to log and monitor your sleep, weight, and food, which all adds up to a healthier and fitter you. Just choose the device that fits your goals, and then register it with the app.

Are you motivated by friendly competition? Get an extra dose of motivation by creating challenges among your Fitbit friends. Choose from fun options like Goal Day, Workweek Hustle, and Weekend Warrior. Or go on a virtual Adventure Race together and see who can reach the finish line first. The Fitbit app also features a community tab, where you can share your wins, join groups dedicated to your favorite healthy lifestyle topics, and connect with other Fitbitters.

MyFitnessPal

Keeping a food journal can help you build healthy eating habits—and what you consume is just as important as what you burn. Based on your fitness profile, MyFitnessPal will suggest a daily net calorie target to help you meet your nutrition and weight loss goals. As you fill up on foods and log your meals, the app will display your remaining calories. It will also show you the distribution of where those calories are coming from, be it fats, proteins, or carbohydrates.

Being mindful of what you eat and drink is a good practice for healthy living. As you create new journal entries, MyFitnessPal shares a snippet of nutrition advice to keep you aware of the healthy (or not so healthy) choices you’re making. For instance, if you decide to go out for an ice cream sundae, the app may alert you about the amount of sugar it contains, along with a reminder of your sugar goal for the day. Likewise, if you opt for a fruit cup, the app may tell you it has lots of Vitamin C.

You can also use the app to track your activity. Depending on how many calories you burned, the app automatically adjusts your net calorie needs for that day. Just sync your daily step counts and workouts from your smartphone or wearable fitness device to the app, and MyFitnessPal will figure out the rest. Another option is to manually log your cardio and strength workouts—the app will estimate your calories burned based on your current fitness profile.

Using an app is a great to get in shape and stay fit. Making small tweaks to your daily routine—like moving more and eating better—can go a long way in helping you live your best health ever. Try out one of these fitness apps today and let us know how it worked for you.

 

 

How to Outsmart the Grocery Store 

It’s happened to all of us. You ended up in the grocery store, hungry, tired and unprepared and suddenly you have a cart filled with frozen pizzas and potato chips. You end up staring at shelves upon shelves of Kraft Mac & Cheese, intriguing cereal boxes, microwave dinners and twelve different types of fruity, sugary yogurts. You definitely don’t need any of these items but you somehow end up with a cart full of them and you leave the store guilty of falling prey to the hidden psychology tricks of grocery stores. Have you ever noticed how essential foods like milk and eggs are spaced farthest from the entrance and to get back there you have to walk by all those packaged foods you didn’t even think you wanted? Or what about all the candy and sodas that are so conveniently placed by the checkout to tempt you while you stand in line waiting for your turn at the register?  Or take a look at how large grocery carts are lately, do you really need to fill that much space or could you opt for a smaller shopping basket? Grocery stores are smarter than we think…but we can beat them at their own game and here’s how! 

Make A List

Do not enter the grocery store without a list, whether it’s on your phone or written down on an old receipt you found in your car. Make sure to plan ahead, list out the items you truly need and do not allow yourself to deviate from this list once in the store. It may take an extra five minutes to do before you head in but it will save your wallet will be thankful for taking that time after you’re done the shopping!Also, don’t even think of walking down an aisle that doesn’t have one of the items you need.Not only will this save you from purchasing that junk food you don’t need, it will also save you time AND money. You could even turn this challenge into a game by timing yourself each time you go into the store. How quick can you get in and out? Get your friends in on the challenge and see who can make the best time!

Never Go To The Store Hungry 

This is a rule everyone should live by. Your eyes are always bigger than your stomach and going to a grocery store with an appetite can land you in the frozen dinner section, or even worse, the bakery section picking out a donut to eat as you stroll through the rest of the store. Have a healthy snack before you go like an apple or a hard boiled egg. This will provide you with the energy you need to tackle the produce aisle and stock up with all your fruits and vegetables for the week! If you end up at the grocery store without a snack, just grab an apple or a banana from the fruit section (but don’t forget to pay for it on your way out!!).

Avoid Grocery Stores Completely

That’s right! Abandon the grocery store completely! Buy meat from a butcher and get your fruits and vegetables from your local farmers market. Or if you have a busy schedule, grocery shop online. There are countless platforms like Vons and Amazon that will deliver groceries right to your door. After having a snack and making your list, you can opt to shop online for the healthy foods you really need to stock your kitchen. If you’re interested in learning to cook new recipes you could also try one of a meal delivery service like Blue Apron or HelloFresh! These services can be very affordable and help you inspire you with creative & healthy new dinner options. 

Stocking up your kitchen with the right foods is just one of the first steps of living your best health ever! If you can successfully get through your trip to the grocery store you’re already on your way to improving your health with meals that feature the foods you really need to fuel your body and your mind. If you need inspiration for your next meal, try out this great recipe from our friends at Whole30! 

 

 

 

Coconuts are Driving Me Nuts!

How does this headline sound to you?

“Newsbreak! We have no new information about Coconut Oil, but we have a news alert that we still think all saturated fat is bad for everyone.”

That is the real story behind the headline “Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy” that has grabbed the attention of millions.

The American Heart Association released a statement that, to summarize, says:

  1. Coconut Oil is a saturated fat.
  2. Saturated fat can raise LDL.
  3. High LDL has been associated with increased risk of heart disease.
  4. Therefore, coconut oil will increase your risk for heart disease

Is there any direct proof that coconut oil is dangerous to our health?

No.

Is there any new evidence directly linking saturated fat to heart disease?

No.

Can we say that because “A” is true above that “D” has to be true?

No way.

But that sure is an attention-grabbing headline to try to connect the dots.

What Evidence?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like the AHA is making this up out of thin air. They are basing their opinion on decades of science. Decades of poor quality science. But since that was all the science we had for years, you can see why they came to the conclusion.

LDL cholesterol is an important part of the puzzle when it comes to your health. But it is exactly that. One piece of a very complicated puzzle.

What else does saturated fat do? It raises of HDL. For many, the total cholesterol-to-HDL ratio remains the same.  Does that increase the risk of heart disease? There is no good data to support that claim, but likely not.

Let’s look at it another way.

Is an LDL of 150 dangerous? That depends. Are you overweight, sedentary, have a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, eating a high inflammatory diet, and have a strong family history of heart disease? Then an LDL of 150 likely is dangerous. And you likely also have a low HDL, high triglyceride level (TG), high blood sugar etc.

On the other hand, do you eat real food, mostly vegetables with appropriate portions of animal fats? Do you exercise, manage your stress, and have few if any other cardiovascular risk factors? Are your HDL, TG and glucose levels near ideal? Then that same LDL of 150 is likely not as dangerous for you.

It is misleading to suggest one size fits all.

(For more details on the saturated fat debate, and why the data is not as clear as most seem to think, see our prior article on the topic here.

Unfortunately, the American Heart Association discounts the evidence that shows no association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease.  They continue to promote industrial, processed oils over natural fats. Again, rooted in decades of science. Poor quality science.

Both Sides Fail

In essence, the attention-grabbing news flash is simply restating the AHA’s longstanding position. There is nothing new.

To be fair, however, do we have good evidence saying coconut oil is healthy?

No, we do not.

Can we prove saturated fat reduces our heart disease risk?

No.

Can we believe Dr. Axe when he claims that coconut oil has 20 proven health benefits (including curing UTIs, protecting the liver and preventing osteoporosis)?

No way. That’s crazy talk.

If we are going to question the poor-quality evidence against saturated fat, we certainly have to question the horribly inadequate evidence supporting views like Dr. Axe’s.

So, what can we conclude?

We can conclude that nothing new was found for or against coconut oil.

Nothing new was found for or against vegetable oils.

Saturated fats (and by extension coconut oil) are not inherently bad, especially if they are a component of a real-foods, vegetable-based, Mediterranean style of eating.

Vegetable oils are highly processed, pro-inflammatory, fake foods that have evidence both for and against their use.

It’s all so confusing! I know. Trust me, I know.

What Can We Do?

What is someone to do in this sea of contradictory news?

Don’t believe the hype.

Focus on real, minimally processed foods.

When it comes to cooking fats:

  1. Olive oil is the best for low heat.
  2. Avocado oil is the best for medium heat.
  3. Higher heat gets tricky due to concern over smoke points.

    1. First, ask yourself, why are you cooking or frying in high heat to begin with? Can you get the same result with lower heat?
    2. If it’s something you have to do, you can choose from coconut oil, butter, ghee, and vegetable oil. Make you decision based on taste, or even better, mix it up.

Action Item: Do you want to know how cooking oils affect you, as an individual? Get your labs done (at a minimum check LDL, HDL, TG, TC, hsCRP, glucose. For more advanced testing try WellnessFX or other ways to get advanced lipid testing). Then switch to 100% coconut oil as your cooking oil for a month and recheck your labs. Review your labs with someone who has an open mind and looks at more than just your LDL number. LDL does not exist in isolation, but is part of the whole picture.  Now you know how it affects you. Individualized medicine beats general guidelines any day.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Bret Scher, MD FACC

Cardiologist, author, founder of Boundless Health

www.DrBretScher.com 

Bret Scher, MD FACC

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