How Stress Affects Your Metabolism

See how stress could be ruining your fitness plans-- and how to get back on track!
We all know that stress does ugly things to our bodies, but did you know that it can affect your metabolism, too?  Even if you’re eating a healthy diet and working out, just having an excess amount of stress in your life could be wrecking your fitness or nutrition goals.  So how does stress play such nasty tricks on our bodies?

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When we’re stressed out, our adrenal glands release more cortisol. What’s cortisol?  It’s commonly referred to as the ”fight-or-flight” hormone– our body produces it when we’re under stress to help us make gut decisions about whether to avoid a situation entirely or whether to charge in, guns blazing!  Thousands of years ago, this hormone was necessary to our survival.  Even today it serves its purpose, but we don’t need to live with such high levels of cortisol because we are not constantly in danger.
One of the negative effects of cortisol is that it triggers our bodies to begin storing fat in the event that we have to go an extended period of time without food. This build-up can occur quickly in our most active fat cells, located in the abdomen.  This can predispose us to problems with insulin or diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.  Not good!
At the same time that our bodies are reacting to cortisol by storing fat, the hormone is also working to slow down our digestive functions.  Constant exposure to cortisol can also lead to trouble sleeping, depression, and obesity.  These are problems that many people suffer from, and the thing they all have in common?  A slow metabolism!
You might be thinking that it would be great to get rid of cortisol and its ugly effects on your metabolism, but how can you when you still have to go to work, take care of the kids, and do a million other things!  The answer is simple– exercise.  We know that exercise releases a crazy amount of happy endorphins.  We also know that our body burns more calories in maintaining muscle than in fat, so it’s always to our benefit to pack a bit more muscle on.
Besides the physical benefits, you’ll feel better emotionally as well.  When running, lifting, dancing to zumba, or whatever your exercise of choice may be, you’ll be doing something great for your body while simultaneously taking your mind off of all the stress.
What’s your favorite exercise to kill your stress?  What is it that causes you most stress in life, and do you see a positive way to change it?
See how stress could be ruining your fitness plans-- and how to get back on track!

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Natural Appetite Suppresants

Try some of the natural appetite suppressants on the list to help you stay on track with your health and nutrition goals!

Overeating and mindless snacking have gotten the best of all of us at some point or another, but it’s easy to avoid these problems by using natural appetite suppressants. You might be surprised which foods make the list, but there are quite a few that you can strategically work into your meals or snacks to avoid consuming empty calories or processed foods or simply overating. Try to implement a few from this list and see if they work for you!

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Almonds

A rich source of antioxidants, vitamin E, and magnesium, almonds have also been proven to increase feelings of fullness! Add some to your salad, top your oatmeal with them, or simply snack on a handful after lunch!

Coffee

While drinking more than two cups a day could leave you feeling jittery, a moderate amount can boost metabolism and suppress your appetite. How? Caffeine, plus antioxidants from the coffee beans. Go light on the sugar and cream so you don’t cancel out the positive effects here!

 

Ginger Root

Whether in a smoothie or a curry dish, ginger root works as a stimulant that can help you to feel more full by energizing your body and boosting your metabolism!

 

Avocado

Avocados are packed with fiber heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and they can suppress your appetite! Make sure to eat them in moderation, because they’re calorie dense. The trick to how they suppress appetite? The fats contained in avocados send signals to your brain that tell your stomach that it’s full!

Water

I know it sounds too simple to be true, but hear me out! Drinking a glass of water before each meal can help you to stay hydrated while also suppressing your appetite, which can help you avoid overating. Got a snack craving? Try having a glass of water first, because you might just be bored or thirsty, two sensations that we often interpret incorrectly as hunger.

Green Tea

Sipping on a cup of green tea will help suppress your appetite, because it works to slow blood sugar rising, and also prevents high insulin and subsequent fat storage. When your bloog sugar is stable, so is your hunger. Try sipping on a cup of green tea in the afternoon when you’re feeling a snack attack coming on!

 

Have you ever tried any of these natural appetite suppressants?  They’re easy to work into your meals and snacks!  What’s your favorite ingredient to help yourself feel full?

Try out some of the natural appetite supressants on this list to help you stay on track with your health and nutrition goals!

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Healthy Food Swaps

Try a few of these healthy food swaps to meet your fitness and nutrition goals!

Eating healthy can be a challenge sometimes, but one way to approach it is to swap ingredients for healthier options while following the recipes you always cook!  Try some of these food swaps to cut out the junk and add some great nutrients to your everyday diet!

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Raw Spinach vs. Iceberg Lettuce

Spinach is packed with Vitamins K and A, Calcium, and Iron!  Iceberg lettuce?  Not so much.  Try spinach in your salads, tacos, and on your sandwiches to pack some nutrients into your lunches!

Oatmeal vs. Sugary Cereal

Your breakfast sweet fix can be replaced by this heart healthy option that will keep you full til lunch.  Many cereals are ultra processed and super sugary.  Try oatmeal instead, and add honey and fruit to keep the mix sweet!

Toast vs. Bagel

Hear me out:  A bagel can be the caloric value of up to 5 pieces of toast!  Then, top your toast with avocado instead of butter to get those healthy fats!

Apple Slices vs. Crackers

Everybody loves cheese, and they pair naturally with crackers, but they also pair great with apple slices!  Make this swap to save on carbohydrates and sodium while getting the great nutrients of the apple!

Sparkling water vs. Soda

Sodas can be a great way to stay refreshed and energized in the afternoon, but is the sugar and chemical bomb really worth it?  Have a glass of sparkling water instead, and add lemon, mint, or other fruits for natural flavor!  You’ll still get the great taste that will wake your brain up but without the calories and chemicals!

Fresh or dried herbs vs. Salt

Salt is used to up the flavor factor in cooking, but most of us need to cut back to watch our sodium levels.  You can cut back on salt while throwing in some great fresh or dried herbs and end up with a healthier meal.  Try oregano, rosemary, thyme, fresh ground pepper, cumin, or chives to start out!  It’s a great excuse to try your hand at herb gardening, too!
There you have it!  6 super simple healthy swaps to help you lower your calories and fat intake and make great use of the rest of the calories by packing in great nutrients that weren’t there before! What’s your favorite healthy swap?
Eating healthy can be a challenge sometimes, but one way to approach it is to swap ingredients for healthier options while following the recipes you always cook!  Try some of these food swaps to cut out the junk and add some great nutrients to your everyday diet! 

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6 Ways to Avoid Winter Weight Gain

Avoid winter weight gain with these 6 smart tips!

The winter is a notoriously tough time to lose weight, what with all the holidays, cold weather, and delicious comfort foods!  The most common sense way to stay fit is to keep ahead of the problem by avoiding weight gain in the first place!  Easier said than done, of course, but it’s definitely possible!  Imagine heading into the new year without those extra holiday pounds.  Follow these tips to avoid packing on new pounds this winter!

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Focus on your food.

It’s easy to overeat while watching television, so cut out the distractions.  Have a conversation over dinner, and really focus on the tastes and textures of your meal.  If you’re dining alone, focus on the colors and sensations of the food on your plate.  By staying present in the moment while eating your meal, you’re more likely to notice the signals your body send your brain about getting full, and this will help you from mindlessly eating whatever might be left on your plate.

Keep your body moving.

Even serious runners and gym rats get discouraged by the cold weather, so it’s only natural that the rest of us might feel a lack of motivation to work out when the temperatures drop.  To combat this, try keeping your body moving with other activities.  Park at the other end of the lot from the doors when you hit up the mall.  When unloading the car, make one trip per bag.  Take stairs instead of elevators, shovel the snow or rake the leaves yourself, and take your furry friends out for an extra brisk walk per day!

Get enough sleep.

The winter can be a stressful time at work, and that’s before we even add in all of the end-of-year programs at school, Christmas and secret santa parties, and charity events.  Add holiday shopping, cleaning up the house before guests arrive, or booking travel plans, and it can get overwhelming, FAST.  Make sure you’re getting enough sleep so your metabolism doesn’t get run off the tracks.  Note that for many people, this might mean turning down the heat– sleep researchers have found that the deepest sleep stage happens faster and lasts longer in temperatures a few degrees lower than what’s comfortable while sitting in front of the tv.

Indulge your cravings– sparingly.

One of the best parts of winter is all of the comfort food and holiday treats!  Unfortunately, these dishes rarely fall on the healthy side.  That’s ok though, as long as you show some restraint.  You’re more likely to be successful in keeping those winter pounds off if you allow yourself a serving of mac and cheese or a chocolate turtle here and there, while sticking to lighter fare inbetween, than if you swear off all that deliciousness and then cave at a holiday party and gorge yourself on cheesecake bites, fried turkey, or fudge!

Make smart ingredient swaps.

This is one that can be applied all year round, but it really comes into play in the winter.  If you’re craving chili or pasta, go ahead and pack that sauce with veggies.  Try using more spices and less salt.  See where you can substitute greek yogurt for maronnaise.  There are hundreds of smart swaps out there, so even if you’re not a fan of salads and plates full of veggies, there are plenty of ways you can cut calories or pack nutrients in recipes that you’d have cooked anyway!

 Pack in more protein.

If you can manage to nibble on some protein every 3-4 hours, you’ll avoid getting to such a hungry place that you simple binge on whatever you can find.  Keep smart snacks like nuts and cheese nearby so that you’ll have a protein option to kill your munchies before turning to the bowl of hershey’s kisses on the table or the cinnamon roll stall at the mall.
There you have it– 6 ways to beat winter weight gain!  What are you favorite tips and tricks to avoiding winter weight gain?
Beat winter weight gain with these 6 easy tips!

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