The Pros and Cons of Living a Caffeinated Lifestyle

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Did you know that the average American consumes approximately 300 milligrams of caffeine (about three cups of coffee) every single day? With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that caffeine ranks as one of the top most commonly consumed dietary ingredients in the world.  So what exactly are the pros and cons of getting our daily caffeine fix, whether it be from coffee, tea, soda, cocoa or any other caffeinated products?

Pro #1: People who drink 4 or more cups of coffee per day reduce their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by 50%!

Con #1: Caffeine causes short-term blood pressure spikes that can be dangerous for people with hypertension. 

Pro #2: Athletes who ingested carbohydrates with caffeine had 66% more glycogen in their muscles 4 hours after exhaustive extercise than when they ingested carbohydrates alone. 

Con #2: Postmenopausal women who don’t get enough calcium in their diets may experience spinal bone loss if their caffeine intake exceeds 300mg per day. 

Pro #3: Researchers at the University of Georgia found that a moderate dose of caffeine (about 2 cups of coffee) may reduce postworkout pain by up to 48%

Con #3: Women who consume high levels of caffeine (329 mg per day) are 70% more likely to have urinary incontinence than women who don’t drink coffee.  

So what side of the fence are you on? For or against caffeine? Or would you say that moderation is the key?  Let me know what you think!

Raw Vegan Chocolate Avocado Pudding

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If you love chocolate pudding, you’re going to adore this recipe for a delicious but healthier version of your favorite dessert. Creamy, rich, and bursting with sweet chocolate flavor, this pudding takes only a few minutes with a blender to put together.

The avocados — full of vitamins and healthy fat — give it the smooth, thick consistency while honey and dates sweeten it. The mild flavor of the avocado allows the chocolate flavor to stand out front and center. Topped off with favorites like sliced bananas and chopped walnuts, or perhaps fresh strawberries and mint leaves, and you have a guilt-free dessert!

Adjust the amount of almond milk (or whatever vegan milk substitute you choose to use) to adjust thickness. Remember that it will thicken up in the fridge so don’t be too worried about adding more milk than you might think it needs.

In fact, by using less almond milk, you can make this into a fantastic thick, structured frosting for vegan cupcakes.

Inspired by This Rawsome Life.

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or coconut oil, or avocado oil
1/3 cup agave or maple syrup (or honey for a non-vegan version)
3 dates soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and chopped
1/2 cup cacao powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup non-dairy milk, such as almond milk

Toppings:
Chopped pistachios
Sea Salt
Chopped walnuts
Chopped fresh strawberries
Raspberries
Fresh mint leaves
Sliced bananas
Shredded coconut

1. Add ingredients to a blender or food processor in this order: oil, dates, honey, vanilla, half your non-dairy milk, avocados, cocoa powder.

2. Blend until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add additional non-dairy milk until the pudding is the consistency you want. A little on the thin side is best since it will thicken after chilling in the refrigerator.

3. Spoon into ramekins or bowls, cover and chill.

4. Top with your favorite fruits, nuts, or other yumminess, and enjoy!

What is Insulin and How does it Affect Blood Sugar and Fat Loss?

What is Insulin and How does it Affect Blood Sugar and Fat Loss?

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It seems everyone concentrates on the role diet and exercise play in our health and wellbeing, but skip over the very important role that hormones play.  In this article i’m going to be discussing the hormone insulin, what it is, how it relates to diabetes, and how it can be manipulated to help us lose fat and live longer.

What is Insulin and How Does it Relate to Diabetes?

Insulin is a hormone that helps us absorb nutrients from our food.  Whenever we eat carbs (and a little bit when we eat protein) the amount of sugar in our blood increases, and the pancreas releases insulin to help take the sugar out of the bloodstream and into our organs (mostly the liver and muscle cells) where it can be used for energy.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when that insulin response doesn’t work properly and sugar piles up in the blood with nowhere to go.  This can result in problems including vision loss, hearing loss, high blood pressure, and gum disease.

There are two main kinds of diabetes:  Type 1 occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin.  Type 2 occurs when insulin is produced but the body doesn’t respond to it in the right way.  Some have estimated that a third of Americans born in 2000 will develop the disease when a lot of the time, it can be prevented.  How? Let’s talk insulin sensitivity.

What is Insulin Sensitivity?

Doing a lot of something can make you less sensitive to its effects, right?  Drinking coffee all the time can dull the caffeine, regular drinkers find they need more beers to get drunk than they used to, and so on.  In kind of the same way, eating carbs too often (especially simple ones, like sugars), can make us less sensitive to insulin (or more “insulin resistant”) When that happens, we need to produce more insulin than we should need to in order to keep blood sugar stable.  That’s bad.  If insulin sensitivity becomes poor, we have trouble digesting carbs and absorbing nutrients, and we gain weight.  If it’s really bad for a long time, the pancreas needs to make more and more insulin because we’re so insensitive to it.  Eventually, it gets exhausted and stops being able to release the hormone properly, and that’s when type 2 diabetes occurs.

6 Ways to Improve Insulin Sensitivity

If insulin sensitivity is of concern, it’s not hard to get it tested, just ask a doctor for a fasting plasma glucose test.  Maximizing insulin sensitivity should be a priority for anyone interested in improving their health and minimizing their diabetes risk.  Here are 6 tips to make that happen.

 

Personal Trainer Tip #1

Exercise Regularly:  Exercising 3-4 times a week can improve nearly every health marker there is, and insulin sensitivity is no exception.

Personal Trainer Tip #2

Get Plenty of Sleep:  Getting adequate sleep is crucial to keep the body functioning smoothly, and that includes hormone production

Personal Trainer Tip #3

Eat Fewer Carbohydrates, especially simple carbs:  Eating lots of carbs makes us produce a lot of insulin, so it’s best to follow a diet that’s low in simple and processed carbs.

Personal Trainer Tip #4

Eat Slow-Digesting Foods:  When foods digest slowly, the sugars take longer to hit the bloodstream, and insulin is released more gradually.  Healthy fats, fiber, and protein are all great examples and should make up a significant portion of our diets.

Personal Trainer Tip #5

Drink Green Tea: Drinking plenty of green tea has been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar concentrations, but ditch the milk.  It can undermine tea’s circulatory benefits.

Personal Trainer Tip #6

Keep Body Fat Low: However it’s achieved, simply being lean can improve insulin sensitivity.  There’s never been a better reason to train for fat loss!

 

Written By: Shannon Benedetto ACSM-cpt