Until I Saw It With My Own Eyes…

I am a certified nutrition coach, so OF COURSE I know that dangers of artificial sweetener. I have studied about all of the negative side effects they bring, the downsides to using them, the long-term effects…but I guess deep-down that I never really believed all of the hype.

 

Not until I saw it with my own eyes.

 

Years ago, I was a chronic Splenda user. I used three packs of it in a single cup of coffee. Yes, THREE. Slowly, I weaned myself down to two packs. Then I started mixing Stevia in with the Splenda until I had finally transitioned to using Stevia alone. It has been years since I have bought Splenda or used it in my house.

 

This past weekend, I traveled to Tulsa for a business conference. I had to fly, so I was very limited on what I could bring with me. I remembered to pack a water bottle, meal replacement shake packets, protein bars…but I forgot the stevia. For five days, I had to resort to using Splenda again. No big deal, right?

 

WRONG.

 

Almost instantly, I had severe bloating and just felt “off.” This is no surprise since Splenda reduces the healthy bacteria in your gut by up to 50%. It also increases the amount of pH in your intestines.

I was also hungry all the time. Now, granted everyone that knows me knows that I love to eat (and I can honestly out-eat almost all my friends!), but I was HUNGRY. I was also hungry for unhealthy foods that I wouldn’t normally eat, such as sweets. This is also a side effect of the artificial sweetener. Splenda can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings (hello, cheesecake!), and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.

Lastly, my eyes were swollen and watered the entire time I was there, which was extremely frustrating since I wear contact lenses. I had to resort my pulling out my glasses in the afternoons because I just couldn’t handle the itchy, watery, uncomfortable feeling any longer.  Now that I’m home, it has almost completely stopped.

 

Artificial sweeteners certainly do live up to the bad rap they have been given. If you have no natural sweetener alternatives, I would highly recommend resorting to sugar before ingesting artificial sweeteners. This pertains to diet sodas as well; if you must have a soda, reach for one that isn’t diet (although I strongly suggest giving them up altogether).

I know that there are others out there that have read the articles, learned the facts, and have done the research, but you also have to “see it to believe it” like I did. I hope that my experience with this will open your eyes and show that it just isn’t worth it to cut corners with your health.

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Exercise Will Get You Nowhere

Exercise will get you nowhere…without the proper nutrition. Sounds crazy, right? I mean, if you are spending an hour a day in the gym up to five days a week, or you run five miles every single day, you should be able to see at least some change without having to give up the fried food diet…don’t you think?

 

Not so much.

 

Various studies have shown that changing an individual’s training or exercise session without altering their diet plan at all did almost nothing to change their body composition. Also, there was less than a 2% fat loss overall total.

 

Think about how much it costs to hire a personal trainer. Even if you aren’t willing to fork out the money for a trainer, a gym membership can get pricey as well. If you aren’t utilizing the proper nutrition techniques to accompany your exercise routine, basically you are shelling out money AND time for something that will leave you disappointed, angry, frustrated, and mad at your trainer.

 

But it isn’t their fault at all.

Please don’t get me wrong. Exercise is still absolutely critical when it comes to feeling better, looking better, and performing to your best ability. It helps your energy levels so that you feel like going on trips with your spouse or so that you can keep up and play with your children. Exercise IS important.

 

My point is that exercise ALONE will get you nowhere. You need to implement not only a solid exercise routine, but also a sound nutritional program. Research has shown that participants that combined effective nutritional strategies with the same training plans mentioned above had almost a 10-fold increase in effectiveness than training with no nutritional program in place.

 

The results don’t lie. You cannot cheat the system. You cannot make shortcuts. NOTHING is as effective as solid nutrition and proper exercise.

 

One last note: If your trainer is not encouraging you to seek out nutritional advice, that is a problem. It is almost as if they are giving you a brand new car without the keys. You will continue to stay in the same place because you do not have all of the pieces to move forward.

 

The “F” Word

Yes, FIBER. The dreaded “F” word that none of us are entirely fond of, are we?

 

BUT, fiber is something that many of us know we need, but yet we really have no idea how much (or how little) we are consuming on a daily basis. Eating a high-fiber diet has many health benefits including lowered blood pressure, controlled blood sugar levels, constipation prevention, and improved cholesterol levels. It also plays a huge role in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

 

So what is the daily recommended amount of fiber?

That depends on several factors, but for the most part, it is recommended that men over the age of 19 should strive for 38 grams per day, while women over the same age should aim to consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day.

 

So how can you add more fiber to your diet?

Fiber is already in many of the foods we eat, such as fruits, peas, beans, and whole grains. Some of my favorite fibrous foods are blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples, almonds, brown rice, black beans, and chickpeas! Fiber is a form of carbohydrates, so it can be easily located on a nutrition label under the “Dietary Fiber” section. It is just as important to track fiber as it is to track protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your food log, especially if you are engaging in carb cycling and/or intermittent fasting (as we do in the Rapid Results Fat Burner Program!).

Adding too much fiber too quickly can cause pain and discomfort in the stomach, so if you are used to a diet that is relatively low in fiber, just be sure to increase the amount of fiber in small amounts daily so that your stomach can adjust accordingly.

 

While high-fiber diets help aid in digestion, it is also important to note that our bodies need enough fluid to properly process the fiber. Be sure to drink an adequate amount of water daily (minimum half your body weight in ounces each day) in conjunction with high-fiber foods.

 

What are some of your favorites high-fiber foods? Even better, what recipes do you make that can be incorporated into a high-fiber diet?

Healthy Swaps for your Favorite Summer Foods

Happy Friday, friends! For today’s edition of  Friday Favorites, I would love to introduce you to some of my favorite summer foods!

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Growing up in the South, summer was always a special time of year. Swimming in my grandparents pool, eating lots of grilled hamburgers topped with tomatoes straight out of the garden followed by homemade ice cream, and catching lightening bugs in the late afternoon are some of my fondest memories. When I made the decision to get healthier and change my eating habits, I did not want to miss out on the fun times by not being able to eat all of the yummy summer dishes. Thankfully, there are healthy versions of all of the foods I grew up on, and they are still just as delicious!

To download your copy of my 5 Healthy Swaps for you Favorite Summer Foods e-book, just click the link below!

5 Summer Swaps

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Prebiotics and Probiotics: Becoming a Healthier You

Silver Fern Brand has provided product for this review. No monetary compensation was provided. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

As a health coach, I try to practice what I preach, and this means getting enough water in each day. But let’s face – water can get boring, especially during the summer months when the temptation of lemonade, punch, and soft drinks is abundant!

You can only imagine my excitement when Silver Fern Brand offered to let me sample some of their latest drink mixes! These are not only packed full of fruity flavor (hello – perfect for summer!), but also provides many health benefits. I could not wait to test these out for myself.

After drinking Silver Fern Brand’s Wai Drink Mixes for one week, I can already see a huge impact. Typically, I add a mix to my water mid-morning, and the added 3 grams of fiber suppresses my hunger until lunch. Before introducing these mixes into my diet, I found myself wanting to snack throughout the day, increasing my daily calories and sabotaging my healthy eating. I have also noticed a surge in my energy level. The added prebiotics I receive daily from the drinks provide fiber to the good bacteria in my digestive system, promoting good gut health. This is extremely beneficial as I have developed stomach sensitivities over the past few years. Also, I have dropped a couple of pounds on the scale thanks to the metabolic restoration benefits of the probiotics. I am NOT a proponent of the scale (as I believe that how you feel truly matters more than any number can ever tell you), but this was an added bonus.

Silver Fern Brand’s mission is very much in line with my own: they desire to make an impact on the lives of others by changing the health and nutrition mindset of today’s society. They are creating and re-inventing many products, such as brownie and cookie mixes, popcorn, meal replacement shakes, drink mixes, etc., to be of the utmost nutritional value. Silver Fern Brand makes it easy to live a healthy life while enjoying the things you love. I look forward to trying out more of their products in the days to come – including some yummy German Chocolate Brownies for the upcoming 4th of July holiday!