Top 5 Running Belts to Keep Your Stuff Safe and Secure

by Michael Brown on August 12, 2019

woman smiling and running

Chances are the most obnoxious thing about running is that you can’t keep your valuables with you easily. Most high-quality running gear won’t have the sort of secure pockets you’re looking for to keep your phone and wallet with you safely. When it comes down to it, you’re going to need a specific accessory to the most important stuff on you at all times.

It’s Time to Get a Running Belt Running belts are a piece of gear designed to both be comfortable to wear and hold all your important items for frequent jogs. Phones, wallets, keys, passports, even various paraphernalia to help with your run can be easily stashed in a non-intrusive way. The longer your run, the more you may want to prepare for, especially if you’re not planning to be anywhere close to civilization.

Comparison Table

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How We Choose the Best Running Belts

We want to be sure that we’re picking out the best running belts that suit your sense of style and function. Each running belt needs to top the list when it comes to a few important qualities.

  • Quality: Anyone can make a belt out of cheap materials. You need something better than just cheap, though, don’t you? You need something that you can run for hours with and still feel comfortable in. Something durable, well-made, and knit together with your body’s comfort in mind. Whether it be heat, rain, or snow, the running belt needs to weather or at least designed for the environment you plan to be in.
  • Storage: You’ll need plenty of options and space to hold everything. Large packs, small packs, packs designed for cards, phones, and the like – a running belt is nothing without plenty of space for everything you need for a run. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t go for marathon jogs, then a minimal design should do you just fine. But maybe you don’t want to be out in the world with only a few bucks and no wallet to help. However long your runs tend to be, you should have the storage to compensate.
  • Accessories: You may be looking for something that has a few more bells and whistles than your basic variety of running belt. You might be interested in one that can hold a water bottle or two for rehydration, or a specific slot for your phone to listen to music. The more function a running belt has, the merrier.
  • Reviews: We’re going to be cross-referencing every item on this list, checking to see how their customers respond to the product. We’ll see what they liked, what they didn’t like, and how the reviews in total stand for the reliability of the running belt.
  • Pricing: The best running belts are going to be a mix of good quality and an affordable price tag.

Top 5 Running Belts to Keep Your Stuff Safe and Secure

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Whatever ends up striking your fancy, what’s most important is that the running belt will keep everything you take with you secured.

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The FlipBelt is one of the best aesthetically sound, minimalistic entries that’ll come on this list. Most running belts will feature a sizeable fanny pack of some design, which can be hit-or-miss with how they make you look on the run. The FlipBelt breaks from that tradition with a seamless, Spandex-Lycra material tube design.

The FlipBelt has no clasps or velcro to secure it around your waist, instead of being a single elastic band that comes in a variety of sizes for a variety of bodies. With four separate entry points, you can slide in whatever you want to take with you: phones, keys, wallets, money, cards, whatever. Once they’re secure, you then flip the belt inside out, securing the belt against your body and preventing anything from falling out. Its smooth, yoga strap-like structure allows it to blend in easily with your clothing.

The elastic, fitted design prevents it from sliding down, jostling, or riding up while on the move. The lack of bouncing or shaking, combined with a non-chafing material, makes it one of the most comfortable running belts on the market. While it may not come with the bells and whistles of attachable water bottles and the like, the FlipBelt provides the security, comfort, and look you’re looking for. And, if you’re not comfortable with the openings being so open, the FlipBelt also has a zipper version for extra security.

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Chances are, most of the running belts you find on the market are going to look like a high-spec fanny pack. They may not be the same that your parents would wear when they took you to Disneyland when you were ten, but it might feel like it if you choose the wrong belt. The Runtasty Running Fuel Belt distinguishes itself from the crowd by subverting the fanny pack look. To do this, they turned the front of the belt into a sweat-proof, touchscreen-enabled phone carrier, allowing you to access your phone without removing it from storage.

This allows you to readily change your music, podcast, or fitness app with ease. Even with the front taken up by your phone, the running belt also comes with two large pockets for storage, allowing easy organization of your gear. Two water bottles come attached to the side of the belt, 8.5 ounces each, to keep you hydrated for your run. The belt itself is designed with gel-based, anti-slip technology on the interior, enforcing a snug fit and negating any bouncing, shaking, or loosening you might otherwise experience.

The neoprene material that makes up the rest of the belt is waterproof, ensuring full protection of whatever you bring with you from sweat or other water hazards you may encounter. The Runtasty Running Fuel Belt only comes in one size, and unfortunately, it’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of deal. Ideal for waist sizes, both men and women between 27” and 46”, this running belt offers the convenience, protection, and comfort that you’re looking for. You might not want to use it for any races, though. Sometimes the water bottle holders are a little too effective at their job.

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While this running belt doesn’t scream high-spec, technologically innovative, or unique design, it does the one thing it intends to do: secure your belongings. Not every running belt needs to be the next evolution of the brand. The Aqua Quest KONA Running Belt does not claim to surpass its competition in every category. It doesn’t need to. What it offers is the comfort of you knowing for full certainty that whatever you store in it will be kept safe.

The KONA running belt is extremely lightweight, allowing it to be worn and hardly noticed as you take your regular jog. It has a seamless design, which enhances its overall comfort and durability, and presents a water-resistant package to be used in any sort of weather or environment safely. Due to its lightweight design and lack of extraneous appliances, it’s easy to conceal beneath your clothes. Chances are you won’t find a more water-resistant product on the market. Due to its water-resistant zipper, seamless design, and carefully chosen materials, its guaranteed to keep your belongings in pristine condition – as long as you don’t jump in a lake.

Even if you do notice you’re wearing it, at 2.6 ounces it’ll be easy to miss. It’s designed to be soft, flexible, and conform to your body to reduce and negate chafing and discomfort. The straps are adjustable and can fit to waists between 27” to 52”. To call it basic would usually be an insult, but the KONA running belt doesn’t aim to be the most eccentric running belt on the market. It’s straightforward, attractive, and single-mindedly designed with your valuables in mind. Customers by and large appreciate this running belt, but every now and then, you might have a little bit of trouble with it loosening itself.

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So we’re going to dip into the “concealed zipper” of running belts here. As a product designed for any sex, this running belt prides itself on being a comfortable, roomy option for jogging storage. Let’s expand on the “concealed zipper” comment. The Stashbandz Running Belt has four total pockets: two in the front, two in the back.

They make use of the entire sizeable fabric to give you the most storage space possible for all your needs. Whether they be for phones, wallets, keys, snacks, or anything else portable you may need, this running belt will comfortably keep them secure. All of these pockets have an overlapping flap to hide the zipper, ensuring your items’ safety. Jumping off of comfort, chances are you’ll forget you’re even wearing these while out jogging.

Designed using a high-quality fabric to enhance the comfort, durability, and movement of the running belt, you’ll be able to use this belt and forget you’re even wearing it. The fabric soaks up moisture, cools your body, and fends off bacteria from dirtying your valuables. The Stashbandz brand values its quality and performance, and it shows with their customer response.

By and large, the majority of those who have purchased this product have discovered it provides an ideal running experience. It isn’t quite for everyone, however. Make sure to check with their sizes first on their website before purchasing to ensure you have one that will fit you. If it doesn’t, it may ride up or bounce on your run.

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Want to go for a jog but don't want to juggle your phone and keys? Tired of trying to manage all of your items while on the run? The Original SPIbelt is perfect for carrying all of your necessities so you can concentrate on running hands-free and carefree. This running pack is made to hold and protect your phone, keys, earbuds, wallet, cash, credit cards, gels, or other essentials, and can be used while running, working out, jamming out at a music festival, or traveling the world! You'll no longer have to choose between leaving your things behind when you go running or feeling weighed down by your stuff. The Original SPIbelt will keep everything safe and secure within arm's reach.

The Original SPIbelt is a dedicated runner's dream, and it's also great for a variety of other workout routines. It is with you every step of the way and eliminates pocket-less problems that most exercise gear has. Use it while running, walking, hiking, at the gym, during everyday errand runs, at workout classes, or during ab routines.


Buyer’s Guide: Always Research Before You Buy

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The important thing before any purchase is to ensure that what you’re buying is right for you. Whether it’s for function or for size, double-checking the product listing or their website to ensure everything is as you’re expecting should be your first step. Remember, always look out to understand what the product offers.

  • Quality
  • Storage
  • Accessories

Read the customer reviews, see how much it costs, and then you’ll be confident in your final decision.

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How Many Calories? Big Mac’s Calories Visualized

by Michael Brown on July 31, 2019

The Big Mac is one of the most famous burgers in the world.

This burger was first introduced by McDonalds in 1967 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By 1968, it had been released nationwide, quickly earning a name for itself as one of the most delicious burgers in the history of fast food.

In this article, we discuss how many calories are in this legendary burger, using vivid descriptions to convey the Big Mac’s various components. Towards the end of the article, we offer some tips for how make the Big Mac healthy, including a vegan recipe that will have your mouth watering.

The Big Mac Calories ​And Ingredients

The Big Mac has 540 calories.

About 260 of these calories are from fat, as there is about 28 grams of total fat in the burger.

The Big Mac is composed of three sesame seed buns, two beef patties, shredded lettuce, Big Mac sauce, American cheese, pickles, and onions.

The sesame seed buns are primarily made from wheat flour, barley flour, water, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, salt, wheat gluten, sesame seeds, potato flour and vinegar.

The two beef patties are made from 100% pure USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) inspected beef. This beef does not have fillers or extenders. There is also some salt and black pepper on the beef.

The Big Mac sauce was a secret for a while, but McDonalds recently released the ingredients. In particular, the sauce is composed primarily of soybean oil, sweet relish, egg yolks, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, various corn syrups, turmeric, paprika, and water.

It’s important to note that these are not all the ingredients, as there are several other substances that are used in the bun and sauce. These include things like xanthan gum, various vitamins and minerals, various colorings, enzymes, and dough conditioners. Many of these ingredients are preservatives intended to extend the lifespan of the food.

While these ingredients have very minimal calories, this doesn’t mean that they are healthy in any way.

More Information ​On ​The Big Mac’s Nutritional Profile

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If you are trying to analyze the nutritional profile of the Big Mac, it’s also important to understand its various micronutrients and macronutrients.

In terms of micronutrients, the Big Mac has 950mg of sodium, which is a whopping 40% of the daily value recommended by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).  

The Big Mac also has 530IU of Vitamin A, which is about 10% of your daily value. It also has 120mg of calcium, which is about 10% of your daily value. Lastly, it has 4.5mg of iron, which is about 25% of your daily value.

In terms of macronutrients, the Big Mac has 3 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 45 grams of total carbs. It also has 25 grams of protein.

Analyzing the Health of the Big Mac

When considered in abstraction, the Big Mac doesn’t seem that unhealthy.

However, the Big Mac’s calories stem mainly from beef, cheese, flour, soybean oil, and refined sugars. While the beef, cheese and flour might be considered healthy by some, the soybean oil and refined sugars are certainly not healthy.

Refined sugars are often considered empty calories since they provide minimal micronutrients. These sugars are usually extracted from sugarcane or sugar beets. This means that they lack the fiber, vitamins and minerals of these foods, which are absolutely critical for digestion.

Soybean oil is a very fatty food that is considered one of the more affordable oils. This is likely why McDonald’s utilizes the oil, as it allows them to maximize their profit. McDonald’s doesn’t provide information about the exact quantity of the oil used or the particular nature of it.

Yet, one of the reasons that McDonald’s uses three buns is to soak up some of the Big Mac sauce. Thus, the amount of soybean oil used on this burger is certainly not a negligible amount.

It’s also well known that the more unrefined an oil is, the healthier it is. Cold-pressed has become the gold standard for oils, yet this is an expensive process that makes the resultant oil quite expensive. Thus, it’s very likely that this soybean oil has been heated under high temperatures, which denatures many of its various nutrients.

Ultimately, all of this means that the Big Mac is quite an unhealthy burger despite its relatively low number of calories.

The main redeeming factor of the burger is the shredded lettuce, onions, cheese, and beef. Very little preservatives are used in these ingredients, making them relatively healthy.

It should be noted that the pickles also contain salt, natural flavors, extractives, and preservatives. Thus, they are not as pure or healthy as you might expect.

Tips ​For Making ​The Big Mac Healthy

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Eating a Big Mac doesn’t have to be an unhealthy indulgence, as its components can be modified to the customers liking.

We recommend asking only for the burger, cheese, lettuce, onions, and pickles. If you must have the bread, then we recommend making your own.

While it might be socially awkward to make your own bread for a fast food meal, remember that it’s your health that’s at stake. A slight bit of awkwardness is a fair exchange for more optimal health.

Alternatively, you can ask for extra lettuce, onions and pickles and turn this Big Mac into a salad. Then, you can just cut up the beef patty into bite sized pieces. If you are craving a dressing, you can also make one at home utilizing only healthy ingredients.  

A Vegan Alternative ​To ​The Big Mac

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Some people scoff at the Big Mac’s calories because they come partially from animal products like beef and cheese.

For these people, it wouldn’t matter if the burger only had 100 calories and no preservatives. These customers consider their digestion to also be a function of their vegan ethics, which means that beef and cheese are off limits.

Yet, if you follow a vegan lifestyle, then there is need to worry, as the textures and tastes of the classic Big Mac can be replicated using only plant-based ingredients.

In particular, if you want to keep it simple, you can just use three steamed portabella mushrooms for the buns. Or, you could make your own buns from scratch using buckwheat flour, coconut flour, yeast, water and salt. This kind of bun would avoid the usage of various oils, preservatives, and unhealthy flours. Buckwheat has also been lauded in recent years for its many health benefits, and these benefits extend into the flour.

To replace the beef patty, you can use pureed beets and beans as your base. As a binder, you can use flaxseed powder or chia seed powder.

To replace the cheese, you can make your own cashew cheese. There are many recipes online that walk you through how to do this.

Lastly, the Big Mac sauce that is typically used usually has egg yolks in it, which are not considered vegan. This is likely used as a binder and can be replaced with any kind of plant-based powder, like flax seed powder, chia seed powder or even hemp seed powder.

A Raw, Vegan Alternative ​To ​The Big Mac

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On another level, you could use mainly raw foods in order to assemble a vegan version of the Big Mac. In order to do this, we recommend using coconut meat as your buns. Then, we recommend using a combination of avocado, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and your favorite fresh herbs to form the sauce.

You could also use raw onions and cucumbers on this raw vegan Big Mac. To replace the cheese, you could just make a raw cashew-based cheese that is adapted from an online recipe.

Our Final Thoughts ​On ​The Big Mac’s Calories

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We think the Big Mac is a legendary sandwich that is quickly going out of style.

We think the world is moving towards a vegan lifestyle which excludes the use of animal products. Yet, this doesn’t mean that the textures and flavors of the classic Big Mac will be lost. Rather, it means that the bulk of the Big Mac’s calories will come from nuts, seeds, roots, and legumes in the future.

These are some of the most digestible foods in the world, which means that McDonald’s might actually be considered a healthy establishment in the future.

When you think about it, plants and fruits are some of the fastest foods on the planet. We think McDonald’s might feature more meals in the future that are simpler than the classic Big Mac burger.

For example, this might entail a romaine lettuce wrap filled with mangoes, sprouts, avocado, and bell peppers. As long as these ingredients are of high quality, they should be able to be eaten and enjoyed on their own, without concocting some complex patty, bread, or sauce.

At the end of the day, as long as you stay aware of what you are eating, your health will be optimized and you will experience new levels of health and happiness.

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When and Why to Take Calcium Phosphate

by Michael Brown on June 26, 2019

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When you think about calcium, you probably first think about the overall health of your bones and teeth.

In fact, your body contains anywhere from 1.5 – 2.5 lbs. of calcium and 99% of that makes up, specifically, the dental and skeletal systems.  

What doesn’t make up your bones and teeth is instead used in the membranes that hold your cells together, including those that make up your skin, blood, and other fluids of the body.

Did you know, though, that your body actually contains a special type of calcium called calcium phosphate? The calcium that makes up the harder parts of your body is actually a compound of pure calcium and phosphorous.

How Much Calcium Is Needed?

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Generally speaking, the average adult needs about 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day until they reach what is considered an advanced age for their gender. Women should typically bump their intake to 1,200 milligrams a day when they hit their 50th year. Men can usually hold off on this bump in calcium intake until their 70th year.


Of course, pregnant women, children, and infants need calcium more than adult men or non-pregnant women do. This is because calcium is needed for healthy bone formation and growth, including that of fetuses. The National Institute of Health outlines necessary calcium intake for every stage of life.

What Does Calcium Do for Us?

As we have already touched on, calcium has many different functions within the body. Aside from just making our bones and teeth stronger, calcium also helps blood vessels regulate the flow of the blood throughout your body. This keeps your blood pressure at a manageable level for your heart to keep up.


Calcium also helps your muscle movements. When your muscles need to contract, calcium makes this an easy transition. If you find that you are often cramping, you likely are short on calcium in your diet.


Your nerve cells use calcium in communication. This helps your body better recognize pain sensors and other stimuli.


Finally, calcium helps to clot the blood. Without calcium, our blood would be very thin. We would bleed easily and our wounds would not heal properly.

There are Different Types of Calcium

There is no such thing as “pure” calcium. Calcium always combines with other elements in nature, depending on the purpose that the calcium must serve.


When we digest calcium, our body picks the calcium apart from the other elements, which allows it to benefit from the calcium in our diet. Calcium phosphate- or tricalcium phosphate, as it is sometimes called- contains about 40% elemental calcium. This means that, when you take in a supplement of calcium phosphate you are getting a significant dose of the calcium your body needs.


Calcium found in bone meal or oyster shells is not recommended for human consumption because it is often laced with lead or other toxins. This calcium is what you will sometimes see referred to as carbon calcium.


If you want your body to better absorb the calcium you take in from your diet, make sure that you are getting plenty of Vitamin D. Be careful, though, when taking supplements. Most calcium supplements already contain Vitamin D and you can get too much of a good thing.

Sources of Calcium in Food

Before reaching for a calcium phosphate supplement, you might want to take a look at your diet to see if there are any ways you can enhance your calcium intake naturally.

Below, we have outlined some of our favorite calcium-rich food sources.

Some Leafy Greens

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The darker the greenery, the more calcium it is going to contain. One cup of cooked collard greens, for example, can deliver 266 mg (25%) of your daily calcium requirement. There are exceptions, however.


Spinach is very dark green and contains a ton of calcium, but because the calcium is bound to the greens as an oxalate, it won’t digest as well as other options like kale or mustard greens. This means you won’t get as much calcium absorption from spinach.


When considering leafy vegetables, don’t overlook rhubarb, however. Rhubarb is rich in calcium. From one cup of cooked rhubarb, you’ll absorb about 100 mg of calcium.

Figs

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Dried figs are exceptionally rich in calcium. One ounce of the dried fruit delivers 5% of your daily calcium requirement. They are also rich in potassium, vitamin K, antioxidants, and fiber- all of which will aid in digestion. This ensures that your body gets the very best out of your diet.

Whey Protein

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Little Miss Muffet was on the right track with her curds and whey. Whey protein, which is found in milk, is an excellent source of protein as well as amino acids. We already know thanks to extensive studies that introducing whey protein into your diet can increase weight loss and improve your control of your blood sugar.


Lost in the  sea of other benefits, we tend to overlook the calcium content of whey protein. One ounce of whey protein powder contains 1/5 of your daily calcium requirement.

Almonds

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Almonds are the highest in calcium when it comes to nuts. A single ounce of almonds (20 nuts, give or take) delivers about 8% of your daily calcium requirement.

Seeds & Beans

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Believe it or not, seeds contain tons of nutritional elements including calcium phosphate. Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, celery seeds, and chia seeds are especially beneficial in this regard. In just one tablespoon of poppy seeds, you’ll find 126 milligrams of calcium.


We already know that beans are a great source of protein, but they are also very rich in calcium, fiber, and other micronutrients including magnesium and potassium. A single cup of winged beans has 244 mg of calcium.

Dairy

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We already know that dairy products contain tons of calcium. A single ounce of parmesan cheese, for example, contains about 331 milligrams of calcium. A cup of yogurt has nearly 1/3rd of your daily calcium needs.


There are a few things to remember with dairy, however. The softer the cheese, the lower the calcium (but higher the protein) content. Aged, hard cheeses are more calcium-rich and actually easier to digest.


Low fat yogurt and Greek yogurt, also, will have more calcium than higher fat options.


When we get our calcium from dairy products, our body tends to absorb it easier. This is a good reason to introduce a little more dairy into your daily life!

Why Add Phosphorous to Calcium Supplements?

Our bodies need both calcium and phosphate to function well. Because they bind together well, it is a good idea to take a supplement that offers both.

Calcium phosphate has been found to be the most effective calcium compound in terms of providing the best overall bone and dental health as well as a steady release of calcium into the body without overloading the body with calcium all at one time.

An overabundance of calcium can result in a number of complications ranging from heart failure to memory loss and even stroke. You need to ensure that you are not overdoing the calcium, hence, the added phosphorous in calcium phosphate supplements will help provide a steadier release of the nutrient.

Now that you are aware of the benefits and risks of calcium phosphate supplements, as well as a few good leads on how to add calcium into your diet naturally, we want to wish you luck on this step to better health.

Congratulations – You’re on Your Way to Better Health!Enter your text here...

You will soon find that you are feeling stronger, that your teeth are less sensitive, and possibly even that your fingernails and hair are stronger and shinier than ever before. Keep up the good work and feel free to check back in the future for more articles about enhancing your personal healthcare regimen.

As always, if you have any questions it is a good idea to consult your physician before making any major changes. They will know more about your personal health situation and be able to provide structured and directed advice that tailored specifically for you.

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The Ultimate Guide To Food Substitutes

by Michael Brown on June 23, 2019

 

Proper nutrition and healthy eating are the top ways to keep your mind and body happy.

You need to take care of your body to perform at your highest possible level, and that starts with giving your body the right kind of food.

Fitness means nothing if you aren’t eating well to back it up

So, need a little help avoiding “unhealthy” ingredients?

You’ve come to the right place.

Looking For Ways To Make Your Meals Healthier?

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image via: pixabay

Swapping out ingredients for healthier substitutes is a great way to start.

There’s even an app (for iOS) that can help you out: SubUllator.


If you’re out of or avoiding a specific ingredient, the app will list out suitable replacements in metric, imperial, and U.S. Cup measurements. You can also set it for gluten-free, low-fat, dairy-free, low-sugar, and vegan.


The app is particularly good for when you don’t have an ingredient a recipe asks for or when you need alternatives for a food allergy, but for everyday healthy food option swaps check out the list below.

21 Foods You Can Swap Out For Their Healthier Alternatives

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Mixing up your ingredients for a healthier diet can turn into an adventure with your own food creativity too.


Try new foods and flavors – you’ll probably find something you’ll fall in love with.

You might end up tweaking your favorite recipes to the exact point you’re looking for with food substitutes – and your body will thank you too.

1

Swap Sugar For Stevia

Stevia isn’t another artificial sweetener – it’s a natural sweetener 200 to 300 times sweeter than regular sugar and is nearly calorie-free.


It comes from a plant and you can use it to sweeten anything you’d typically put everyday granulated sugar in. Just be wary of the amount you use, since it’s way sweeter than sugar.

You can get stevia in liquid or powder form.


Other ingredients work great as sugar substitutes too: unsweetened applesauce, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg will give your food a punch of sweet without the added sugar.

2

Try Whole-Wheat Or Coconut Flour Instead Of Regular Flour

Whole-wheat flour is a healthier option than your typical flour because it has more fiber and has gone through less processing, Gluten-free flour options let everyone enjoy your baked goods regardless of gluten intolerance.


One gluten-free option is coconut flour, which is made from dried and finely ground coconut meat, has fewer carbs than other nut flours, 11 times the fiber of wheat flours, and more protein.


Watch out when using gluten-free flour though, as you won’t get the same kind of stickiness (it comes from gluten) to bind your baked goods together – you’ll need to add xanthan gum.

3

Don’t Open Those Potato Chips And Go Pop Some Popcorn

Dodge the greasy and super-salty potato chips and go for natural popcorn without pre-seasonings for an option lower in fat with a touch of fiber.


Plus, when you start with a basic air-popped popcorn base, you can have some fun with your spice cabinet and add your own flavor to movie night. Try cinnamon, chili powder, or parmesan.

4

Ditch The Croutons And Sprinkle On Pistachios Or Almonds Instead

Need to add a little extra crunch to your salad? Forget the croutons – they don’t add any nutritional value to your meal.


Instead, try adding something that’ll taste great, satisfy your crunchy texture itch, and check off boxes on your daily nutritional to-do list at the same time. Pistachios, almonds, pecans, and walnuts are all great examples of extra-healthy alternatives.


Nuts are also great for yogurt. Add nuts instead of granola – it’s packed with excess sugar (you could always make your own granola, though).

5

Instead Of Breadcrumbs Try Chia Seeds Or Flaxseeds

Need a crust for your meatloaf?


Leave the breadcrumbs at the bottom of the bag and grab some chia seeds, flaxseeds, or oats instead.


It’s an easy way to add bonus nutrition to your meals where you previously had none. Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and a little protein, and flaxseeds have similar nutritional benefits.

6

Swap Chocolate Chips For Cocoa Nibs

Sure, cocoa nib cookies doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the same way as chocolate chip, but they sure are healthier.


For the deep and irresistible flavor of chocolate in its purest form, reach for the cocoa nibs instead of the processed, sugary chocolate chips. You can toss them in to any of your favorite baked goods in place of chocolate chips or you can just snack on them right out of the bag.


Cocoa nibs are full of antioxidants, fiber, iron, and magnesium.

Speaking of chocolate, opt for dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate has more flavanols, a healthy, plant-based nutrient that helps to lower blood sugar and decrease body fat. Just remember, even with dark chocolate, eat everything in moderation.

7

If You’re Going Green, Make Sure It’s Dark Green

Set aside the iceberg lettuce and switch up your salad with some of the dark leafy greens (spinach, arugula, kale, red leaf) – they’re more nutritious than the predominantly water-filled light greens.


Iceberg lettuce is 96% water – there’s not much to it. Spinach, on the other hand, has oodles of nutrients: vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, and iron.


If you’re not ready to let go of your old friend the iceberg, romaine lettuce is quite similar but packs more of a nutritious punch.

8

Instead Of Spaghetti, Go For Spaghetti Squash

Unlike the sea cucumber, spaghetti squash is an adequate substitute for its typical food counterpart. Spaghetti squash even looks like spaghetti pasta – crack it open and scrape to find tangles perfectly suitable to wrap around your fork.


The healthy part? There are way fewer carbs in spaghetti squash than spaghetti.

9

Need To Cut Down On The Salt?

Say hello to the rest of your spice cabinet.


You can make your food taste just as great or even better by subbing in other herbs, spices, or salt-free seasonings for salt. Try citrus (lemon, lime, orange) juices, rice vinegar, or garlic powder.

10

Applesauce Is More Useful than You Think

You can swap sugar with unsweetened applesauce at a 1 to 1 ratio when baking cakes, brownies, cookies, and more (although you might have to adjust the measurements of other liquids in your recipe).


In addition to sugar, applesauce also works as a substitute for shortening.

11

Increase The Hummus Among Us (And Hold The Mayo)

Hummus is a great swap for more unhealthy dips and spreads.

You can use hummus instead of ketchup for burgers and mayonnaise for sandwiches.

Other replacements for mayo?


Try smashed avocado, Greek yogurt (with or without a little lemon and lime), or mustard.

You can also swap olive oil and vinegar for ranch dressing, plain Greek yogurt for sour cream, and nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese.


Also try going for unprocessed almond butter rather than processed peanut butter.

12

Swap Flour Tortillas For Lettuce Leaves

Yes, you’ll have to be gentle with your delicate tacos, but lettuce wraps are light and healthy.

You could also go with corn tortillas over flour tortillas for your gluten-free friends.


Another interesting sandwich swap? Grilled portobello mushroom caps for hamburger buns. You’ll get fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and a cool-looking burger.

13

Don’t Knock The Vegetable Party Tray

Skip the chips and slice up some veggies.


Sure, it’ll take a little more effort to prep bite-sized vegetable bits instead of popping open a chip bag, but your body will thank you for the sliced cucumbers and baby carrots you’ll subsequently smother in (hopefully healthy) dip.

14

Swap White Rice For Quinoa

Quinoa will give you more fiber, protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, fewer calories, and fewer carbs than white rice.


Other white rice alternatives include brown rice and cauliflower.

15

Don’t Leave The Yolks Out – Eat The Whole Egg

Eating the whole egg versus just the egg whites is actually healthier because of the extra protein, vitamins, mineral, carotenoids, and healthy fats from the whole egg. The eggs whites alone are just mainly protein.


Also go for pasture-raised eggs instead of conventional eggs. They have more omega-3s and beta-carotene (a pigment with antioxidant properties that protects you from free radicals).

16

Not Bananas In Ice Cream, But Banana Ice Cream

Yes, really. Mash and blend some bananas into a creamy consistency, freeze ‘em, and you’ve got a treat.


You can add peanut butter, cinnamon, sea salt – really, anything you’d like. Easy peasy.

17

You Say Potato, I Say…

If you want to go healthier or if you just need a change, try a turnip mash or cauliflower mash instead of mashed potatoes.


You can also cook up some sweet potato fries instead of traditional potato fries.

18

Swap Cheese For Extra Veggies

If you want to trade cheese in your dishes for something healthier, try adding extra vegetables.


Fixing up an omelet, sandwich, or casserole? Throw in some spinach, tomatoes, onions, and whatever else you like.


Just can’t give up the cheese? Opt for goat cheese or feta over low-fat cheeses – low-fat cheeses are less filling and might not leave you satisfied, while goat cheese and feta have conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fat that reduces heart disease, cancer risk, and may help burn fat.

19

Butter, Vegetable Oil, Lard, And More To Substitute For Shortening

Shortening is a flavorless, semisolid fat used in cooking and baking. The goal in finding substitutes for vegetable shortening in recipes is to use an ingredient with little to no trans fats – that’s what makes shortening unhealthy in the first place. Trans fats are linked to numerous health conditions like high cholesterol and heart disease, so it’s generally a good idea to avoid them whenever you can in your diet.


The problem with substituting shortening for similar ingredients is that it’ll make the outcome of your baked goods taste differently, so some shortening substitutes are better than others depending on what it is you’re making.


The most common substitute is butter or margarine. Butter is usually used as an alternate when shortening just isn’t available, but it’s also a healthier option. Yes, butter is filled with saturated fats, but the trans fats in shortening are even worse for your body.

If you’re feeling particularly health-conscious about using butter you can snag the low-fat tub but be aware that it won’t melt as easily and may not melt as easily.


Make sure that the flavor of your butter (or margarine) blends well with your baking recipe so your pastries don’t come out tasting funky.

butter oil

image via: pixabay


Need a replacement for that can of Crisco you use to deep-fry your tater tots? Then the substitute for shortening you want is vegetable oil. Because it’s a liquid, it doesn’t pose the kind of health risk fatty solids like shortenings do to your arteries.

Vegetable oil won’t work that well as an alternative for sweet baked goods – you’ll want to use one of the other options for baking.


Olive oil is considered the best general cooking replacement for shortening, and peanut oil is ideal for deep-frying.


Lard, surprisingly, is also a healthier alternative to shortening. Hydrogenated vegetable shortenings are considered worse because of the trans fats. Lard, in the same way as butter, isn’t necessarily healthy with all of its saturated fats, but it’s healthier than shortening.

Lard is made from pig fat, and it does have a taste – just be aware of the flavor when considering lard for your recipes.


The most creative substitutes for shortening are definitely the various fruit purées. Unsweetened applesauce is the most popular alternative – best for use in any sweet baked goods. It’ll add sweetness and density to your recipes.


After applesauce, prune purée is one of the top recommendations – it works best in dark baked goods like brownies. Avocado purée is another popular option for chocolate and dark baked goods. The consistencies of butter and avocado purée are similar at room temperature and they’re both fats, so the swap works out. Following that same idea, mashed bananas can also replace shortening in baking.

20

Swapping Meats

Trying to eat healthy but can’t give up meat? No problem, you don’t need to cut it out altogether if you practice moderation and make healthy choices.

Try going for white meats instead of dark or red meats.

Skinless, white meat poultry is lower in fat and higher in protein and iron than dark meat poultry.


Ground turkey is a great alternative for ground beef if you want to cut down on saturated fats. If the turkey is a little too dry for your tastes, add some chicken stock.


If you can find it, try bison instead of beef – it’s higher in B vitamins and lower in fat.


Everybody loves bacon, but if you shell out for prosciutto or pancetta instead you’ll be getting a higher-quality meat without sacrificing the savory deliciousness.

Trying to avoid meat as a main dinner ingredient altogether? Use three times as many vegetables instead in dishes like soup, casserole, and lasagna.

21

Several Solid Drink Exchanges

This probably won’t come as a surprise to you, but we should all be drinking more water.

Water affects our physical health way more than we think – staying hydrated helps with weight loss, exercise, happiness, productivity, getting rid of acne and toxins, headaches, joint pain, and more.


Water is always a great drink substitute, especially since we don’t drink enough of it. Water beats coffee, soda, and fruit juice.


Speaking of fruit juice, fruit-infused water or just the physical fruit is healthier than the sugar-packed grocery store juice cartons.


Coconut water is a better option than sports drinks – you’ll get all the electrolytes with way less sugar.


Try tea instead of coffee. If you need your coffee to function, go for an iced coffee instead of a super-sugary frozen Starbucks drink.


Consider almond milk as an alternative for regular milk.


For those among us over 21, try going for a Bloody Mary instead of a Mimosa to give you your morning buzz. Mimosas will have sugary juice while the tomato juice and other ingredients in a Bloody Mary will give you less sugar, more vitamins, and will usually come with a skewer of vegetables for bonus points.

Don’t forget to pick red wine over white wine for the antioxidants and heart health benefits.

Got Your Grocery List Ready?

people in the grocery

image via: pixabay

Sounds like it’s time for you to go shopping.


Hopefully, running through this list has you excited to try some new healthy food substitutions in your diet. It’s like a personal problem-solving challenge to see how much you can improve what you decide to put into your body.


If you’re up for another challenge, making your own sauces and salad dressings will bypass commercial processing and give your food a more personalized touch, so why not try that out?

You can tweak your ingredients and make your sauces and dressings exactly how you like them. Not to mention, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating because you’re the one who made it.

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51 Running Quotes For Your Cute Instagram Photo

by Michael Brown on June 13, 2019

persian poems hafez persian poet

image via pixabay

Does running run your life?

Have you recently experienced the revelation of the runner’s high and are now desperate to drag your friends to the fun?

Need a sweet picture to hang on your mirror to remind yourself why you’re waking yourself up at 5 in the morning?

We’ve got some great running quotes to keep your Instagram feed full of fast-paced inspiration.

Why The Motivational Mantras?

full love motivational

image via pixabay

Running is hard, and running is exhausting – but it’s also rewarding, and that’s why we keep running.

It’s a lot easier to hype yourself up for a run than it is to actually get out there and keep your feet moving and your lungs breathing.

It doesn’t hurt to have a few words or a sentence or two to keep in mind when you’re at the hard point in your run where you feel like you’re dying.

Anyone can start running – it’s an accessible and beginner-friendly sport and exercise activity. You can take it as far and as fast as your legs can take you.

Plenty of people who run offer great words of encouragement or thoughtful truths about the activity, often relating to life as a whole.

These running quotes can offer wisdom to runners and non-runners alike.

51 Killer Quotes To Feed Your Runner's High

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Some running quotes give advice on the act itself while some offer lessons about not giving up. Some of the best running quotes are personal introspections on the connections running has with other aspects of our lives.

Not much of a runner? Teetering on the edge of a decision to seek out that marathon rush? Maybe you’ll find some words here that’ll shift your perspective on running and get you started on your cardiovascular journey.

Quotes To Get You Up And Running

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These running quotes are great for a morning (afternoon, or evening) boost to get your legs moving. Put your head in the right space with little reminders of your personal health and running goals or the general benefit of getting up and running.

1. “I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” -Jesse Owens

2. “Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be.” -Joyce Carol Oates

3. “You are truly your own hero in running. It is up to you to have the responsibility and self-discipline to get the job done.” -Adam Goucher

4. “I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.” -Ronald Rook

5. “I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.” -Dean Karnazes

6. “It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination.” -John Bingham

7. "Run in places you love with people you like. Enjoying your surroundings and training partners will strengthen your commitment to running and bring out the best in you." -Deena Kastor

8. “Every run is a work of art, a drawing on each day’s canvas. Some runs are shouts and some runs are whispers. Some runs are eulogies and others celebrations.” -Dagny Scott Barrio

9. "We runners are all a little nutty, but we're good people who just want to enjoy our healthy, primitive challenge. Others may not understand running, but we do, and we cherish it. That's our only message." -John J. Kelley

10. “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” -Christopher McDougall

11. “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” -John Bingham

12. "I'm not telling you it’s going to be easy… I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it." -Art Williams

13. “Try jogging when following your heart, it’s healthier.” -Benny Bellamacina

14. “Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way. Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running.” -Julie Isphording

15. “If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now.  Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.” -Priscialla Welch

Just Keep Running, Just Keep Running

passion led us here quote on the floor

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Finding Nemo’s Dory is iconic in telling us to “just keep swimming,” an easily adaptable mantra for us as two-legged land-runners.

This next cluster of running quotes are heralds of resilience, persistence, and pushing through the hard times. They have loads of wisdom on the merits of never giving up – when the going gets tough, the tough get running.

16. "Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” -Dean Karnazes

17. “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” -Will Rogers

18. “What I’ve learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you’re hurting like crazy and you want to give up. Success is often just around the corner.” -James Dyson

19. “Just because your muscles start to protest doesn’t mean you have to listen.” -from the "Runner's High" Day-to-Day Calendar

20. “The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.” -Haruki Murakami

21. “Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.” -Tim Noakes

22. “Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” -William Arthur Ward

23. “You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.” -Gatorade

24. “A lot of people run a race to see who’s the fastest.  I run to see who has the most guts.”  -Steve Prefontaine

25. "Don't fear moving slowly forward...fear standing still." -Kathleen Harris

26. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.” -Haruki Murakami

27. “I think I get addicted to the feelings associated with the end of a long run. I love feeling empty, clean, worn out, and sweat-purged. I love that good ache of the muscles that have done me proud.” -Kristin Armstrong

28. “Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made.” -Patti Sue Plumer

29. “Never underestimate the power that one good workout can have on your mind. Keeping the dream alive is half the battle.” -Kara Goucher

30. “Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body.” -Lynn Jennings

31. “Yes, I am round. Yes, I am slow. Yes, I run as though my legs are tied together at the knees. But I am running. And that is all that matters.” -John Bingham

32. "When anyone tells me I can't do anything, I'm just not listening anymore." -Florence Griffith Joyner

Running Quotes For Your Peace Of Mind

motivational quote

image via unsplash

Running relieves stress and tension, and it actually makes you happier.

Ever heard of a runner’s high? That blissful period that you desperately hope will shine down upon you during a workout right when you need it most is real, and you have endorphins and endocannabinoids to thank for it.

When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins – aka chemicals that make us feel good by lessening pain. Endorphins work in our muscles to reduce the physical discomfort created by running or exercising in general.

Even more than endorphins, endocannabinoids have increasingly been spotlighted as the cause of the runner’s high. Endocannabinoids induce a sense of calm within us. They’re triggered more by stress rather than pain

Long workouts at moderate intensity are ideal to achieve the sweet spot of exercise – a nice 2 hour run at a jogging pace would do just the trick. We’re all different though, so listen to your body. You want to be challenged, not broken.

There are benefits to keeping up your running routine too – regular exercise gives long-term benefits. Some of these benefits are mental: better moods, higher self-esteem, less depression and anxiety, and of course, others are physical: lower cholesterol, reduced body fat, and improved circulation.

Many turn to running for its ability to spirit them away to another plane of their personal existence – in the same way that some people read books to venture off into different worlds, others will run.

Running can bring a certain clarity of mind – when you’re left with your thoughts on a nature trail, a treadmill, or a track, you have time for personal reflection.

Plenty of these running quotes talk about how running allows them some transcendence of spirit. Their running takes them to a new level in their mindset, a kind of happiness and balance in feeling alive. They love that they get into a certain flow, a meditative state, or achieve the mystical runner’s high.

33. “Getting more exercise isn’t only good for your waistline. It’s a natural anti-depressant, that leaves you in a great mood.” -Auliq Ice

34. “Runners don’t do drugs, they make their own … naturally.” -E. Neil Culbertson

35. “The pain of running relieves the pain of living.” -Jacqueline Simon Gunn

36. “My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy.” -John Bryant

37. “We are designed to run and we increase our chance of daily happiness when we do so.” -Jeff Galloway

38. "There’s not a better feeling than when you have found that moment of balance and harmony when both running and life come together. Then you know why you run and that you couldn’t live without it." -Joan Benoit Samuelson

39. “Running is my meditation, mind flush, cosmic telephone, mood elevator and spiritual communion.” -Lorraine Moller

40. “Running is my private time, my therapy, my religion.” -Gail W. Kislevitz

41. “Some seek the comfort of their therapist’s office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.” -Dean Karnazes

42. "Those long runs cleanse my system, physically and mentally." -Joan Benoit Samuelson

43. “If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them.” -Christopher McDougall

44. “There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul.” -Kristin Armstrong

45. “Jogging is very beneficial. It’s good for your legs and your feet. It’s also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.” -Charles M. Schulz

46. “The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” -George Sheehan

47. “If you are in a bad mood go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood go for another walk.” -Hippocrates

48. “I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” -Arthur Blank

49. “Running is alone time that lets my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days.” -Rob Haneisen

50. “Running is about finding your inner peace, and so is a life well lived.” -Dean Karnazes

51. “If you want to run, then run a mile.  If you want to experience another life, run a marathon.” -Emil Zatopek

Pics Or It Didn't Happen

motivational quote

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No matter your reason for running, be it for health, companionship, enjoyment, personal challenge, or meditation in constant movement, you can find quotes from runners-past to keep your spirits up.

Show the world the aesthetics of what running means to you.

Don’t worry about whether or not you look like a sweaty mess – you got out there and you ran, and that’s what matters.

On the hunt for more quotes? Check out these other quote lists.

Now go on and share your experience and words of inspiration with your friends and followers!

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green apple juice with simple sugars

Source: pxhere.com

 Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are three macronutrients that are necessary in order to support life.

In this article, we will be focusing on a particular kind of carbohydrate, namely simple sugars.

After giving a brief overview of simple sugars, we discuss some tips that people can use to optimize their intake of simple sugars. Then, we emphasize the importance of fruit when consuming simple sugars. Finally, we end with some thoughts on how to execute a balanced diet.

A Brief Overview Of Simple Sugars

Simple sugars are called monosaccharides. They are made up of a single sugar molecule, earning them the name, “simple”.


Some examples of simple sugars include fructose, glucose, and galactose.

Fruits are high in fructose. Dairy products are high in galactose. Glucose is in many different types of foods, though the body converts carbohydrates into glucose, so it’s not necessary to consume these simple sugars directly. Still, fruits, grains, many vegetables and honey are high in glucose.

Since simple sugars have very few nutrients, they are very quickly broken down by the body.

Simple sugars can form bonds with other simple sugars to create disaccharides and polysaccharides. Disaccharides contain two simple sugar compounds while polysaccharides contain more than two simple sugars.

Tips For How To Optimize Intake Of Simple Sugars

white sugars

Source: pxhere.com

When eating a balanced diet, it’s inevitable that you will consume simple sugars. The key is not to avoid these compounds but rather to optimize how you consume them.

When consuming simple sugars, we recommend choosing foods that are high in fiber, protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins.

Foods that are high in fat will help slow down the digestion and assimilation of simple sugars, preventing drastic spikes in blood sugar levels. When eating fatty foods, simple sugars will take longer to break down, providing stable energy for many hours.

When you consume excess simple sugars, insulin is needed to balance your blood sugar levels. This can result in insulin resistance over a long period of time, which can lead to sugars being stored as fat. This can ultimately result in diabetes and obesity.

In this sense, we also recommend engaging in moderation when consuming foods that are high in simple sugars. When it comes to extremely processed simple sugars like white or brown sugar, this might mean only 2-3 servings a day.

Some people eat entire meals of fruit. Some people even eat entire meals of a single fruit. This is called mono-mealing. This approach to dieting can have a profound impact on your state of health, though it should only be adopted if high quality fruit can be acquired.

Consuming low-quality fruit amounts to consuming low quality simple sugars, which is ultimately bad for your health.

The Critical Importance Of Fruit

berries blackberries blueberries

Source:pexels.com

Fruit is one of the most important sources of simple sugars. This is because it’s high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins, all of which are critical to good health.

Yet, not all fruit is of high quality. When eating fruit, there are several important factors to consider.

First, make sure the fruit is ripe before eating it. This allows the simple sugars sufficient time to develop, providing a more complex taste that will satisfy you for longer. This will prevent you from reaching for unhealthy sources of simple sugars like junk foods and overly processed foods. These kinds of foods can compromise your health and can even be addicting.

Each fruit has different signs indicating its ripeness. The best way to determine the ripeness of a fruit is to use your senses. If the fruit seems appealing, then it’s probably ripe.

Unripe fruit doesn’t want to be eaten and will likely not be appealing to you. Since the main purpose of fruit is to perpetuate itself through its seeds, ripe fruit will truly seduce you. Some fruits like bananas will even open themselves, indicating that they are ready to be eaten.

In addition to ripeness, you should select fruit that is in season. This kind of fruit tastes the best and also has a high sugar content. This means that you can eat less of them and still be satisfied, preventing you from consuming excess simple sugars.

We also recommend consuming local fruit if possible. This might not be possible during some parts of the year depending on where you live. At the very least, you should try to buy fruit that has traveled the least number of miles. When fruit travels many miles, its quality is compromised, making us less satisfied after we eat it. This can lead to binging later on or reaching for quick sources of energies like processed foods.

It’s also critical that you consume organic fruits, as these foods lack the harmful pesticides that are used on some non-organic foods. These toxic chemicals can damage some of the simple sugars present in fruit, making them harder to digest.

The Importance Of Making Your Own Food

person cooking

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Making your own food is also vital when trying to optimize your intake of simple sugars.

When you make your food from scratch, you’re able to control the ingredients, which allows you to avoid many unhealthy simple sugars.

Many processed foods contain additives like sucrose or high fructose corn syrup which lack the nutrients of whole foods like fruit. Thus, these additives are often considered to be “empty calories”.

When baking, you can always substitute white sugar or brown sugar for fruit. For example, if you are making a cake, you could always use mashed bananas. Furthermore, there are many sweet ingredients you can use that are actually healthy, like maple syrup or honey.

On another level, making your own food can be a highly rewarding experience that allows you to connect on a deeper level with the food you are about to consume. This actually optimizes your digestion, allowing you to feel fuller for longer. This will also prevent you from sneaking into the pantry late at night to binge on unhealthy sources of simple sugars like cookies, ice cream, and various candies.

Furthermore, when you make your own food, you are less likely to eat out at restaurants. This allows you to avoid many of the overly processed foods that can be encountered at restaurants. These foods often contain simple sugars yet lack the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fat needed to break them down. This can result in feeling full, yet dissatisfied, which is a recipe for disaster. It’s no wonder that many people end their restaurant meals with dessert. Restaurant desserts allow people to feel satisfied even though they didn’t receive proper nutrition over the course of the meal.

When you make your own food, you don’t have to worry about consuming desert at the end of the meal, as your craving for sugar will be satiated by the healthy simple sugars in foods like fruit.

Foods To Avoid When Optimizing Simple Sugars

group of people having meal

Source: pexels.com

Lastly, there are several foods that you should avoid at all costs if you want to optimize your intake of simple sugars.

Alcoholic beverages are a no-no, as these drinks often contain refined sugars, flavored syrups, sodas, and mixers. These admixtures are extracts rather than whole foods, meaning they lack sufficient nutrition for digestion.

We also recommend limiting condiments, as these also have many ingredients with an excessive amount of simple sugars. Additionally, condiments can obscure the taste of the food you are eating, which is an important part of digestion. When each bite is flavored by a particular condiment, you might feel dissatisfied at the end of the meal, which could lead to you eating unhealthy desserts.

If you do decide to have dessert after your meal, we recommend splitting it with someone else. This will allow you to eat less while still indulging your sweet tooth.

Our Final Thoughts On Simple Sugars

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Source: pexels.com

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We think simple sugars are necessary for any healthy diet. Yet, too much of these compounds can also be bad, making moderation critical.

It’s also important to remember the role that stress plays in digestion. If you are stressed about the foods you are eating, then that could compromise your health, as stress can negatively impact how nutrients are assimilated.

Thus, you should care about the foods you eat, obviously, but you shouldn’t become obsessed with this. Diet is only one component of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, happiness, relationships, and creative fulfilment are arguably just as important.

At the end of the day, the best way to optimize your diet is to prioritize whole foods over refined foods. This doesn’t mean that you can’t consume refined foods. Rather, it means that you should try to minimize your consumption of these foods.

Get Your Simple Sugars and Trust Your Intuition

It’s also important to note that simple sugars are just a concept invented by science. When selecting foods to eat, we recommend relying on intuition rather than abstraction, as this draws upon the body’s innate wisdom.

As long as you follow the tips we presented throughout this article, you should experience vibrant health and digestion, which will of course lead to a profound sense of happiness.

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Get Ready to Sculpt, Tone, or Build a Whole New You with Weight Lifting!

So you're thinking about starting a weight lifting program, but you're not quite sure where to begin.

Well, I've got you covered noobies.

I have given you a complete guide with everything that you need to know before you hit the gym.

Stick around until the end because I am going to give you two killer workouts that will teach you exactly what to do on week one.

Now you might notice that these beginner workouts use both machines and dumbbells.

The machines are an excellent place to start because they sort of force you to use correct form. Adding dumbbells can be challenging when you're first starting, so don't be afraid to ask a trainer if you're doing the exercise correctly.

What I can promise you is that doing your weight lifting exercises will make you look better naked.

Yes, I said that. It's true. And it's awesome.

But it's about so much more than that.

You won't just look better. You will also feel a lot better, both mentally and physically.

Know what's even better than that? You will also be healthier and stronger.

Pretty great, right?

So what are you waiting for my friends? Let's get after it!

Let's Start with Your Goals

So you're ready to get in shape, and you want to start a weight lifting program. Awesome!

Now let's talk about what it is that you're hoping to achieve.

Weight lifting can do many things for your body.

Ask yourself:

Are you hoping to add mass? Do you want to get stronger? Maybe you want to lose weight. Or perhaps you want to tone up and get healthier. Do you want to train your muscles to get better at a particular sport? Do you want stronger bones?

Well, good news!

Weight lifting can do all of those things.

But it's important to state your goals because you will train differently depending on what you're trying to accomplish.

woman lifting a pole

Image: by Ichigo121212 via Pixabay

The general rule is:

if you want to build bigger muscles, then you use heavy weights and low reps. On the flip side, if you're hoping to lose size and tone and tighten up, then you will use lighter weights and higher reps.

"Focus on form, not weight. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group." -Harvard Medical School

Overall fitness and toning

Weight lifting is essential for overall fitness and toning.

Now, I just told you that for toning you should use lighter weight and higher reps.

However, that does not mean that your workout is going to be wimpy. You still have to use enough weight that you challenge your muscles. If you go too light, you won't notice much change in your body.

Let's say that you're on the leg press machine, for example, if you can easily do 20 reps without much effort, then you're going way too light. On the other hand, if you can't get through at least 12 reps with correct form, then you've gone too heavy.

What you're looking for is the sweet spot.

It should take a real effort to complete the reps, and by the last couple, it should be very challenging.

For beginners at weight lifting, you will be starting with one set of each exercise. As you get stronger, you will work up to three sets.

If you're looking for overall fitness and toning then you're aiming for 12 to 15 reps of every exercise, be sure that you do at least 12.

an athlete attempting  to lift a barbell

Image: by Victor Freitas via Pexels

Building muscle and strength

Many men do weight lifting because they want to create more muscle mass. As we've been discussing, that means training with heavier weight and lower reps.

You are looking for the same feeling that I just talked about with toning. That is, by the last couple of reps, the movement should be very tough.

But you will only be doing six to eight reps for most exercises. That means that your weight has to be heavy enough that you couldn't do 10 or more reps.

Another thing that is essential to building mass:

Your diet. But not like you may be thinking: Make sure that you are consuming enough calories every day, especially lean protein.

Now, let me speak to the women for a minute.

One thing I hear all the time from my female clients is that they are scared to do weight lifting because they don't want to build big bulky muscles.

Hear me on this ladies.

You do not need to be afraid to lift heavy weight. It is extremely tough for women to build bulk like men can because they simply don't have enough testosterone.

You can sculpt your body with heavy weights, but you will never look like a man. You have my word on that.

What is Muscular Balance?

Have you ever seen one of those guys at the gym who kills himself pumping heavy weights for his upper body but never works his legs? They end up with massive upper bodies and skinny little chicken legs.

We've all seen people like that.

It's a look, but it's not a good look.

Or maybe you've seen one of those women in the gym who works like crazy on her legs and butt, but never works her upper body. It's an imbalance that you can see right away.

Those are both examples of what not to do.

Muscular balance is what you want. That means that if you work the upper body, you also work the lower body. If you work on the right side, you also work on the left side. When you work the front of your arm, you must also work the back of your arm.

Make sense?

One of the ways that I like to train people is by following each exercise with another one for balance. For example, after a chest exercise, I do one for the back. Or I follow bicep curls with tricep pushdowns.

Here's why:

Not only does training for balance make you stronger and healthier. It also gives you an ideal symmetrical shape.

The Bennies

"Inactive adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by resting metabolic rate reduction and fat accumulation. Ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg." -National Institutes of Health

Check this out!

  • 1
    Lean muscle burns more calories, even at rest
  • 2
    Weight loss
  • 3
    Loss of body fat
  • 4
    Makes you look and feel better
  • 5
    Enhances performance in endurance sports
  • 6
    Improves coordination
  • 7
    Makes you stronger
  • 8
    Increases bone density
  • 9
    Creates additional nervous system connections
  • 10
    Increased brain activity
  • 11
    Prevents diseases like diabetes
  • 12
    Burns fat
  • 13
    Boosts VO2 max
  • 14
    Greatly beneficial to the elderly
  • 15
    Helps to avoid the loss of joint flexibility
  • 16
    Improves focus, stability, and balance
  • 17
    Relieves stress
  • 18
    Injury prevention
  • 19
    Healthier heart

How often do I need to work out?

For overall health and fitness, you should do some weight-bearing exercise for every muscle in your body at least once a week.

That's the bare minimum.

Here's what I've found:

If you want to change your body, whether it's with toning or bodybuilding, you have to work on each muscle group twice a week.

If you're doing full body workouts, then you can bump it up to three times per week. But it is essential that you give your muscles at least 48 hours before you work them again.

The thing I love about a split routine, meaning that you work upper body one day and lower body on a separate day, is that you can do them back to back. While you're working your upper body, your lower body gets a rest day.

man doing a bench press

Image: by Bruce Mars via Pexels

When you can start, and when you're too old to weight lift

"Lean muscle mass naturally decreases with age. If you don't do anything to replace the muscle loss, it'll be replaced with fat. But weight training can help you reverse the trend — at any age.

As your muscle mass increases, you'll be able to lift weights more easily and for longer periods of time. You'll also help to maintain your bone density, better manage your weight and improve your body's metabolism. So don't wait. Get started today." -Mayo Clinic

It's never too late to start a weight lifting program.

The fact is, the older that you get, the more critical resistance training becomes.

But it's not just for seniors.

In fact, weight lifting is appropriate starting at around age 16.

Children under the age of 16 should still be doing muscle strengthening exercises, but they should only use their body weight for resistance.

So, now you know it's time for you to start lifting, let's answer your next question:

So How Do You Put It All Together?

Beginner's Weight Lifting Schedule for Building and Strengthening

Day 1:

Upper Body Training

Day 2:

Lower Body Training

Day 3:

Cardio, 20-45 minutes

Day 4:

Upper Body Training

Day 5:

Lower Body Training

Day 6:

Cardio, 30-60 minutes

Day 7:

Rest

*Repeat this schedule for 3-6 weeks, then slowly increase your weight and sets for each exercise.

Beginner's Weight Lifting Schedule for Toning and Weight Loss

Day 1:

Upper Body Training, followed by 15-30 minutes of cardio

Day 2:

Lower Body Training, followed by 20-40 minutes of cardio

Day 3:

Rest

Day 4:

Upper Body Training, followed by 15-30 minutes of cardio

Day 5:

Lower Body Training, followed by 20-40 minutes of cardio

Day 6:

Rest

Day 7:

Rest or 20-30 minutes of light cardio

*Repeat this schedule for 5-6 weeks, and then gradually increase the weight and sets that you do for each exercise.

Manners, People!

    Weight Lifting Etiquette 101

  • Always bring a small towel! Be sure to wipe your sweat off each machine and bench when you finish. I'm happy to share a workout with you, but I don't want to lay in your sweat, dude.
  • Be sure always to rerack your weights when you finish with them. Your mama's not here to pick up after you.
  • Don't sit and rest for long periods on a machine that someone else is waiting to use. Most people will be happy to work in between sets with you. So while you're catching your breath, hop off the machine and let others work in with you.
  • Leave your cell phone in your car or locker. Nothing is worse than some rude guy hanging out on the machines yapping on the phone.

Don't Forget About Cardio!

By now you're starting to understand the importance of weight lifting.

But here's something else you need to know.

You can do your weight lifting workout religiously, but you will never see definition in your muscles if you have a layer of body fat covering it up.

It sucks, but it's true.

So how do you get rid of that body fat?

Well, for one thing, you need to keep doing your weight lifting routine because the more lean muscle you have, the more efficiently your body will burn fat. But if you want to get rid of fat, you also have to burn it off with cardio.

The not so secret trick to that:

For overall health and fitness, you should do at least 20 minutes of cardio at least three times per week.

But if you want to change your body, you will need to do a bit more.

Can Weight Lifting Make Me Gain Weight?

Yes, weight lifting can make you weigh more, especially when you're first starting.

Okay, everybody take a deep breath before you freak out.

Let me explain.

The fact is, muscle weighs more than fat.

As you replace fat with lean muscle, it is very likely that you will see the scale going up.

Don't panic.

I know this is difficult for people who regularly monitor their weight on the scale. But while you're starting, I want you to ignore it.

Yes, you heard me right. Ignore the scale.

Instead, I want you to pay attention to how your clothes fit. Weight lifting is going to tighten your body up and sculpt your shape. And you will see that your clothes are fitting looser, even if the scale goes up a bit.

You Want Tips? Oh, We've Got Tips!

"Do supersets and hybrids. A superset involves doing two or more exercises that target the same muscle group, back to back with minimal rest in between. For example, doing a set of 12 heavy squats followed by a set of 12 heavy lunges is a superset. A hybrid involves combining two or more movements into one movement. Combining a squat with a shoulder press or a lunge with a squat followed by a lunge are examples of hybrid exercises. Incorporating these into your weight-training workouts can increase the intensity of your training, which is ideal for losing weight." -American Council on Exercise

Water! Water! Water!

Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. When I say plenty, I mean at least 8 to 10 glasses every day.

On days that you workout you should drink more, including while you're weight lifting.

You are what you eat

If you want to change your body, you have to do more than weight lifting. You also have to eat healthily.

I recommend eating a small balanced meal 30 to 60 minutes before your workout.

Balanced means eating equal portions of lean protein and complex carbohydrates.

Then you should eat again after your workout. If you can eat within 45 minutes of finishing your weight lifting, you can take advantage of your sped up metabolism from your workout. Everything that you eat right after you work out will burn off almost immediately.

How great is that?

The best time to do cardio

The best time to do cardio is after your weight lifting, not before.

You can also do your cardio workouts on a different day than your weight training.

Track your progress

Keep track of your workouts. And keep track of your progress.

The best way to do that is to take pictures.

As we've already discussed, you can't depend on the scale to show you your muscle gains. How your clothes fit is a better indication.

And pictures don't lie.

So go ahead and take that selfie before you start weight lifting. Take another one after six weeks, and another after 12 weeks. You won't believe the difference.

muscle woman doing an exercise on a gym

Image: by Sabel Blanco via Pexels

Start with the Compound Exercises

A compound exercise in weight lifting is a movement that works on several muscle groups at the same time.

You don't want to have to spend hours in the gym every day, do you?

Of course, you don't. Nobody does.

As I always tell my clients, it's not about working longer; it's about working smarter.

Compound exercises give you the same workout in a fraction of the time. That's what I'd call smart!

Here's the tradeoff:

Because they work on many muscle groups at once, they are more difficult. So we always do them first in the workout.

Now let's get to the workouts!

Beginner Weight Lifting Workout for Upper Body

Beginner Weight Lifting Workout for Upper Body

  • 1
    10-minute cardio warm-up
  • 2
    1 to 2 sets of push-ups, 12-15 reps per set
  • 3
    1 set of lat pulldowns 8-15 reps
  • 4
    1 set of dumbbell flys, 8-15 reps
  • 5
    1 set of standing bicep curls with dumbbells, 8-12 reps
  • 6
    1 set of tricep pushdowns with the rope, 8 to 12 reps
  • 7
    1 set of lateral raises with dumbbells, 8-12 reps
  • 8
    1 set on the ab crunch machine, 15-25 reps

*Beginners should repeat this workout 1-2 times per week for 3-6 weeks. Then increase to 2 sets of each exercise for 3-4 weeks. After that you should increase to 3 sets of each exercise.*

1. Warm-up

Before you start any weight lifting, it is essential that you warm up.

The goal is to get your heart rate up and warm up the muscles before you add weights.

It may be tempting to skip the warm up, but stop yourself right there. If you want an effective workout and if you're going to avoid injury, you must warm up. Period.

Do this first, every time:

Start with 10 minutes of cardio for your warm up, that can be anything that gets your blood pumping.

One of my favorite ways to warm up the entire body is with the rowing machine. If you've never tried it, you really should.

Other things you can do before you start weight lifting include walking, jogging, riding the bike, the elliptical machine, jumping rope, shadow boxing, or even jumping on the trampoline.

2. Push-ups

Hands down, the best exercise that you can do for your entire upper body is push-ups. I like to start with them on upper body day. They get your chest, back, shoulders, arms, and core ready for weight lifting.

Don't forget this:

Be sure that you do them with perfect form, even if that means you can only do a few. The video below will show you the proper technique.

You may not love doing push-ups, most people don't. But if you want to tone, sculpt, or build your upper body, you need to do them.

There's no whining in weight lifting!

You only have to do one set. They'll be over before you know it.

I want you to try to do 12 to 15 push-ups. If you can't quite do them all, that's okay. Do as many as you can. And rest assured that as you get stronger, you will be able to do more of them.

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3. Wide-grip Lat Pulldown

Just like the push-ups, the wide-grip lat pulldown is a compound exercise, which means that it works on more than one muscle group at the same time. They are excellent for your back. And they also work your shoulders and arms.

There's more:

You can do a variation of this weight lifting exercise with a narrower underhanded grip. Regardless of which grip you use you should focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you pull the bar down.

I want you to keep this movement slow and controlled. Be careful not to use momentum to do the motion. If you're using momentum, you're not using your muscles. It's cheating, and you won't get any benefit from it.

Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat. 

4. Dumbbell Flys on the Flat Bench

Remember what I said about muscle balance?

We just finished working your back, so now we will follow with working the chest.

Dumbbell flys are also a compound exercise because they not only work your chest muscles, they also work your shoulders and arms.

If you're brand new to weight lifting, it can be a bit tricky to use dumbbells. The video below will teach you the proper form.

Don't worry if you aren't getting it right away:

If you find using the dumbbells makes it difficult for you to control the movement, then you can switch to using the butterfly machine for this exercise.

The machine will assure that you're in the right position. If you feel unsure, use it first, then go to the weights.

Here's another way:

To vary this weight lifting exercise, do it on an inclined bench. The incline will put more of the workload into your upper chest. The flat bench works more of your middle chest.

Fun fact:

Working your chest with exercises like push-ups and flys is the best way for women to get a natural boob lift. Now, how great is that?

5. Standing Bicep Curls

Okay, now that we've done the compound exercises it's time to zone in on the individual smaller arm muscles.

First, you're going to work the biceps or the front of your arms.

Because we've already worked the biceps in the previous exercises, they should be starting to get fatigued. You may have to lower your weight a little if you can't do at least six reps.

But don't wimp out on me.

Keep challenging your muscles.

If you're trying to build bigger arms, you should do six to eight reps, barely able to finish the last one. If you're trying to tone your arms, then you will do 12 to 15. Still, be sure that your weight is heavy enough that you struggle with the last rep.

6. Tricep Pushdowns with the Rope

We just worked the front of the arm. You know what that means.

Yep. It's time to work the back of the arms or your triceps.

Do the undersides of your arms jiggle when you wave goodbye? Don't fret. We can fix that!

This weight lifting exercise will tighten that jiggle right up.

We already did the compound exercises, so it's essential that you isolate your tricep with this movement.

Precaution:

Be careful that you keep your elbows glued to your sides so that you don't allow your shoulders to take over and cheat your triceps.

If you find it difficult to use the rope, you can also do this exercise with a straight bar. Just change the attachment on the cable. The movement is the same whether you use the rope or bar.

7. Lateral Raises

Now it's time to work those shoulders.

You're doing great. We're almost there.

The video below will walk you through the correct form. If you have any trouble using the dumbbells, you can also do this exercise on a machine.

Just like I said with the bicep curls and the tricep pushdowns, we want to isolate the shoulder muscles. Be careful not to let momentum take over.

Slow and controlled is the name of the game, my friends.

Now finish strong and use a full range of motion.

Fun Fact:

Developing and strengthening your shoulders not only makes your arms look better. It also makes your waist look smaller. Pretty great, right?

8. Ab Crunch Machine

Look at you! You just did an upper body weight lifting workout.

But you're not quite done yet.

At the end of every workout, you need to finish with your abs.

You can do regular crunches on the floor. Or you can use the ab crunch machine, which is more intense.

Whether you're doing weight lifting to add mass or you're just toning, you will do high reps for your abs.

If you're using the machine, I want you to do at least 15 reps. Bonus points if you can do 25.

A Beginner Weight Lifting Workout for Lower Body

  • 1
    10-minute cardio warm-up
  • 2
    1 set of squats with weights, 8-15 reps
  • 3
    1 set of deadlifts with a barbell, 8-15 reps
  • 4
    1 set of leg press, 8-15 reps
  • 5
    1 set of lying leg curls, 8-12 reps
  • 6
    1 set of leg extensions, 8-12 reps
  • 7
    1 set of calf raises on leg sled, 12-20 reps
  • 8
    1 set of 3 planks, holding each one for 20-30 seconds

*Beginners should do this leg workout 1-2 times per week for 3-6 weeks. Then increase to 2 sets per exercise for 3-4 weeks. After that increase to 3 sets for all exercises.*

woman stretching

Image: by skeeze via Pixabay

1. Warm-up

Just like with your upper body workout, before you start weight lifting on leg day, you must warm up.

Remember, the idea is to get your heart rate up and prepare your body for weight lifting.

You can do any cardio that you like. And you need to do it for 10 minutes.

I like to put my clients on the stationary bike for their warm-up on leg days. It not only gets your blood pumping. The bike also does an excellent job of warming up your leg muscles. Another great choice on leg day is the rowing machine.

squat shadow character

Image: by kropekk_pl via Pixabay

2. Squats

Remember what I said about push-ups being the best compound exercise for your entire upper body? Well, what push-ups are for your upper body, squats are for your lower body.

It's a practical exercise that works your core, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

It is essential that you do squats with the correct form. The video below will walk you through it.

As a beginner, I want you to start without additional weight on this exercise. Just using your body weight for resistance is enough. As you get stronger, you can add dumbbells.

One of the things that I love about squats for any fitness level is that they give you great shape to your butt.

Basically, with this movement, you want to allow your hips to go back as you sit down in an imaginary chair.

Here's a tip for you:

As you stand up from the squat position, push through your heels and squeeze your butt. Pretend that you had a penny between your butt cheeks.

You have to squeeze that booty so that you don't lose that penny.

It's silly, I know. But trust me on this, the tighter you squeeze that penny, the more amazing your butt is going to look.

If you don't squeeze your butt, nobody else will either.

3. Dead Lifts

Now that you're nice and warmed up, we're going to move on to the next compound weight lifting exercise:

deadlifts!

Deadlifts are going to work your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. The video below will walk you through the correct technique.

I want you to use light weights with this exercise. But if you feel any pain in your lower back, drop the weights and use just your body weight for resistance.

It's essential that you keep your core strong with this movement. You should also be careful not to hunch your back. Instead, I want you to keep your spine nice and long and straight.

When you bend down, you should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. As you stand back up you should again squeeze that penny between your butt cheeks.

4. Leg Press

The next weight lifting exercise we're going to do on leg day is the seated leg press.

When you're first starting, use this machine without any additional weight plates.

The machine itself is weighted enough for beginners. As you get stronger, you will add weight.

The seated leg press is another compound exercise that works your entire lower body.

To protect your knees place your feet toward the top of the sled. You never want to let your knees bend beyond 90 degrees or go forward of your toes.

Keep this in mind:

If you want to target your butt, concentrate on pushing through your heels.

The video below will walk you through the correct form. But I also recommend that you ask a trainer at the gym to help you with your first set if you feel unsure of the movement.

I want you to get accustomed to this machine. We're going to come back to it in a minute.

5. Lying Leg Curls

Okay, now that we finished the compound weight lifting exercises we're going to target just your hamstrings.

The leg curl machine is excellent for the back of your thighs, but make sure that you watch the video below to learn the proper form.

Precaution:

One mistake that I often see on this exercise is people lifting their hips off the pad to assist the hamstrings with the full range of motion. Usually, that means that the weight is too heavy.

I want you to use a weight that is heavy enough that you feel a good burn by the last few reps. But don't make it so heavy that you can't complete your set or sacrifice your form.

6. Leg extensions

So we just worked the back of the thigh. For muscle balance, you know what that means.

Yep. Now we work the front of the thighs.

Leg extensions not only define and sculpt your quads, but they also strengthen all of the muscles around your knees. That will make you a lot less likely to injure them.

However, it's also possible to hurt your knees on this equipment. So it is essential that use the correct form and that you set the machine to the right position before you begin.

Set the machine properly, great for the knees. Set it up wrong, and all bets are off.

The video below will walk you through it. But it's also a good idea to check with a trainer to make sure that you set the machine up correctly.

Stop the exercise immediately if you feel pain in your knees because you are doing something wrong.

On the other hand, if you feel a significant burning in the front of your thighs, you're doing something oh so right!

7. Calf Raises on Leg Sled

I told you we would be coming back to the leg press machine. And here we are.

But this time we are only going to work your calves.

Now your calves are a little different than the other muscles in your lower body.

Here's why:

Your calves are an endurance muscle. That means that you can do more reps on your calves. Incidentally, another endurance muscle in your body is your abs. That's also why we work abs in every workout. If you wanted to, you could do the same for your calves.

I want you to aim for 20 reps. Bonus points if you can get to 25.

You don't need to add weight plates for this weight lifting exercise. The machine itself is heavy enough.

8. Planks

You're doing great, just one more thing.

It's time to finish strong and burn those abs.

Planks are one of the best exercises that you can do for your core.

Unlike the other weight lifting exercises that we just did, we don't do planks for reps; we do them for time.

The most important thing is that you have the form correct. After that, I want you to try to hold your plank for 10 seconds. Take a rest. Do your second plank for 20 seconds. Then try to maintain the final plank for 30 seconds.

If that is too difficult, hold it for as long as you can.

Guidelines for Your Weight Lifting Workouts

  • Use heavy enough weight that you can barely complete a full set.
  • Don't sacrifice your form! If you can't complete a set using the correct technique, then you need to lower your weight. It's better to do fewer reps with perfect form than doing all of them with sloppy technique.
  • Rest for 30 to 60 seconds in between sets. Don't rest for longer than 90 seconds.
  • Do both of these workouts twice a week.
  • Rest one to two minutes in between exercises.

One Last Thing

Well, there you have it noobies. I think you're ready to hit the gym now.

But just one word of caution.

When you're first starting with any new workout program, you should consult your doctor. You should also know that you will likely be sore after your workout.

That's perfectly normal.

It's also possible that you could get sore a couple of days after your weight lifting. That's called Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. One thing that you can do to relieve some of the soreness is to do cardio. That will help flush out some of the lactic acid buildups.

One question that I frequently get from my clients is should they lift weights if they are still sore from their last workout.

man and a woman doing a 1 hand push up

Image: 5132824 via Pixabay

The answer is: it depends on how sore you are.

If you are super sore, then you should give yourself at least a full day of rest. If you find that you're still in a lot of pain the next day, then that means that you need to take another day off.

Now, if you're just a little sore, or moderately sore, then you have no excuses.

Weight lifting when you're a little sore will help alleviate the pain.

So get after it!

We'd love to hear from you about your experience with weight lifting. Let us know in the comments section below how you're doing. And tell us what you think about our beginner's workout.

And don't forget to squeeze that penny!

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The Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Healthy Vegan Meal Plan

by Suzanne Kearns on February 15, 2019

vegan menu served on the table

Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

Veganism is skyrocketing in the United States.

One study even shows that the number of people who claim to be vegan went from 1 percent in 2014 to 6 percent in 2018. If you’ve recently joined the movement, it’s time to talk about creating a vegan meal plan.

You should know:

A vegan diet is more than just avoiding meat.

Many people who make the switch don’t understand all the benefits of becoming vegan, while others think a vegan meal plan is a complicated thing that’s too difficult to follow.

We’re going to finally put all of those unfounded rumors and misconceptions to rest.

What Is a Vegan?

Veganism is a way of eating and living that seeks to exclude all instances of animal cruelty and exploitation.

Vegans don’t eat meat, wear clothing that made from animals, or use products that are either made from animals or use them to test it.

The term vegan first came into being in 1944 when a group of vegetarians separated themselves from the Leicester Vegetarian Society.

But that's just part of the story:

You see, they weren't happy with their vegetarian lifestyle. They wanted to go further.

So, they formed The Vegan Society.

Since then, the way of eating has grown. Searches for the term “vegan” have increased over 250 percent in the past 5 years as more and more people seek to learn about changing their lifestyle and improving their health by creating a vegan meal plan.

quick facts about veganism

Image via Flaticon, altered

Not Eating Meat Is a Beautiful Thing

People begin eating a vegan meal plan for many reasons.

For example, some don’t want to contribute to the animal cruelty that takes place in factory farms.

Others want to experience the health benefits that come from eating with a vegan meal plan do all they can for the environment.

In fact:

Studies have shown that adopting a vegan meal plan dramatically reduces a person’s environmental footprint.

The Health Benefits of a Vegan Meal Plan

A vegan meal plan has numerous health benefits, all backed up by science.

If your reason to start eating a vegan meal plan is health-focused, you’re in luck.

You see:

Eating a diet rich in fiber, vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds can make you feel wonderful.

Here’s what researchers have to say on the topic.

Veganism helps people lose weight

When following a vegan meal plan, you may lose weight.

Researchers set out to study the effects of weight loss in people who ate diets that excluded meat, and found that these diets have “significant benefits on weight reduction.”

different kinds of fruits and vegetables

image via Pixabay

Diabetes can be managed with a vegan meal plan

man saying yes gif

A vegan meal plan contributes to both the prevention of and treatment of type 2 diabetes according to one study.

The researchers who carried out the study were so convinced of the benefits of a plant-based diet, they ended the conclusion of the study by saying:

“While larger interventional studies on plant-based diets carried out for longer periods of time would add even more weight to the already mounting evidence, the case for using a plant-based diet to reduce the burden of diabetes and improve overall health has never been stronger.”

Veganism helps stomp out heart disease

Heart disease is an epidemic in our country. But did you know that adopting a vegan meal plan may help prevent you from developing the disease?

Multiple studies proved that following a vegan meal plan helps heart health.

Here's what you need to know:

One study shows that people who eat a plant-based diet have a 75 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure. That same study shows that vegans have a 42 lower risk of dying from heart disease.

Vegans naturally eat all the fruits and vegetables that.

All this goodness makes for a very happy heart.

Reduce your risk of cancer with a vegan meal plan

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30 to 50 percent of all cancers are preventable by changing some aspect of our lives, including our diet.

That's not all:

In a recent meta-analysis of 96 studies, researchers found that people who follow a vegan meal plan are 15 percent less likely to die from cancer.

That may be because of other studies that show when a person eats up to seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, they lower their risk of dying from cancer by 15 percent.

broccoli fun fact

image via Flaticon, altered

Are Vegans the Only People Who Don’t Eat Meat?

In the U.S. 7.5 million people choose not to eat animal products, but not all of them are vegan. Vegan meals plans are the most extreme because they don’t include meat, eggs, dairy, or any other products that contain animal byproducts in them.

But not all non-meat eaters follow a vegan meal plan. Two other types of plant-based diets make the cut.

Vegetarians

Vegetarians don’t eat meat, but some of them eat eggs and dairy. There are three categories of vegetarians:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat, but they do eat eggs and dairy.
  • Lacto vegetarians don’t eat meat or eggs but do eat dairy products.
  • Ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs.

Pescatarians

Although pescatarians do eat animal flesh, they are typically grouped in with non-meat eaters.

They follow one of the vegetarian type diets, but they also eat seafood.

Foods that Vegans Happily Chow Down

avocado, tomoato, garlic, green tomato asparagus

image via Pixabay

When you follow a vegan meal plan, one of the most common questions people ask is what do you eat?

Many people believe vegans only eat salads or are forever craving the foods other people eat.

But that’s just not true:

Vegans eat a wide variety of foods.

What’s more, vegans know how to create a lot of great recipes from just a few basic ingredients.

Here’s a list of the staples that should be your vegan pantry:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains: pasta, rice, couscous, millet, quinoa, bulgur, oats, bread
  • Legumes: chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans, fava, lima, peas.
  • Nuts and seeds: walnuts, pecans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, black seeds, almonds
  • Nut butter: peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, tahini
  • Dairy substitutes: almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, plant-based yogurts
  • Tofu, tempeh, seitan
  • Food replacement products: fake meats, cheeses, mayonnaise, ice cream

You Won't Catch a Vegan Eating These Foods

Vegans don't eat meat.

But that's just part of the story:

Select Columns Layout
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products: No cheese, butter, milk, or yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Honey: not all vegans adhere to this but, but strict ones do because bees make honey
  • White sugar: not all sugar, just the ones filtered with bone char
  • Salad dressings containing lecithin
  • Marshmallows
  • Gummy candies
  • Cereals containing gelatin
  • Beer

Things to Watch for When Switching to a Vegan Meal Plan

If you just stop eating meat and don’t make other changes to your diet, a vegan meal plan can be unhealthy.

That’s because you need to understand which nutrients you need to add to your diet to make up for the loss of meat, dairy, and eggs.

We’ve all heard of people who say they tried a vegan diet for a couple of weeks but stopped because they felt bad or craved other foods too much.

Chances are, they didn’t approach their vegan meal plan the right way.

If they had, they would have felt great!

Here are some things you need to be aware of when creating your vegan meal plan so you will have success.

You probably need to take supplements

Although it’s possible to get all the nutrients you need from food, it’s not easy. And that’s why most vegans take supplements.

This is what you need to know:

Here is a list of the supplements you should consider adding to your vegan meal plan.

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3s
  • Zinc
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Calcium
different kinds of food supplement capsule on a cup

Image via ​Pixabay

Know which foods give what nutrients

Since your vegan meal plan is set up to provide you with all the nutrients you need every day, you need to understand what each of the foods provides.

Check this out:

Here is a list of the foods you will eat the most of on your vegan meal plan, and what nutrients you can expect to get from them.

essential vegan food nutrients infographic

image developfit.com

How to Create a Balanced Vegan Meal Plan

Now that you understand the nutritional requirements of your vegan meal plan and the foods you’ll use to get them let’s talk about how to balance your plate when planning the perfect vegan meal plan.

Before you get started:

To ensure your diet is full of nutrition, you should strive to have these four ingredients on your plate:

Non-starchy vegetables are a must

These types of vegetables should make up the bulk of your plate. With them, you will get plenty of fiber as well as important vitamins and minerals.

Here is a list of non-starchy vegetables to include on your plate:

Artichokes

Asparagus

Bean sprouts

Brussels sprouts

Broccoli

Cabbage

Artichokes

Celery

Cucumber

Eggplant

Mushrooms

Onions

Peppers

Salad greens

Spinach

Tomato

Turnips

Zucchini

Add some fat to the plate

For years, experts told us that fat was bad for our hearts, but recently all of that has changed.

Here's what we know:

Now, people understand that our bodies need some healthy fats to thrive.

In addition to your non-starchy vegetables, add some healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, walnuts, coconut oil, and seeds.

healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, walnuts, coconut oil, and seeds

image via Pixabay

Don’t forget the omega-3s

As a vegan, you will need to consume foods with omega-3 often because you won’t get the fatty acids from fish or seafood.

But not to worry:

You can add the following:

Spinach

spinach leaves bundled with twine on a vintage counter top

image via Unsplash

Walnuts

open walnut showing perfect nut in center

Image via Pixabay

Flaxseeds

flax seeds in small brown bowl spilled onto dark wooden grained counter top

image via healthtap

Put some protein on your plate

Finally, vegans need to eat a lot of plant-based protein to get their recommended daily intake.

Here is a list of vegan proteins, along with how many grams of protein each cooked food provides.

  • Lentils: 18g/cup
  • Chickpeas: 14g/cup
  • Pinto, kidney, or black beans: 13-15g/cup
  • Amaranth: 9g/cup
  • Quinoa: 8g/cup
  • Tahini paste: 8g/3 tablespoons
  • Sesame seeds: 6.5g/ounce
  • Flaxseed: 6g/ounce
  • Pistachios or almonds: 6g/ounce
  • Gluten-free oatmeal: 6g/cup
  • Chia seeds: 5g/ounce
  • Chlorella: 5g/tablespoon
  • Unsweetened almond milk: 5g/cup
  • Cashews or walnuts: 4g/ounce
  • Spirulina: 4g/tablespoon
Vegan veggies and protiens like garbanzo beans bean sprouts and kale with tomatoes and yams

Image via Anna Pelzer, Unsplash

How to Create a Vegan Meal Plan on a Budget

You’ve likely heard how expensive it is to be a vegan, but that’s just a myth.

Here’s the deal:

You can buy a lot of expensive processed vegan foods that aren’t very healthy and spend a lot of money on your vegan meal plan.

But why would you that?

Veganism is about forging new roads, being kind to yourself and others, and above all, being a food genius.

And you can’t do that buying prepacked food.

There are two things you need to know in order to create a vegan meal plan on a budget.

How to buy food

There are a lot of vegan shopping lists available on the internet, and while they are helpful, it can be expensive to shop that way.

Instead, I recommend that you first create your vegan meal plan and then shop for those ingredients.

Here's why:

If you don’t, you might end up with a lot of healthy ingredients that you don’t know how to use.

When eating a vegan diet, you will use a lot of the same ingredients over and over again — only in different ways. That’s what makes creating a vegan meal plan so affordable.

Once you find your favorite recipes, you will know what food items to always keep in your pantry.

For example:

If you love lentils and use them to make lentil patties, curry dahl, or lentil soup, you should always have a bag or two on hand.

So, your first step in creating a vegan meal plan is to find the recipes you want to use for your first week.

Did you know?

Studies show that a plant-based diet increases the body’s metabolism.
This causes your body to burn calories up to 16 percent faster than if you were eating meat. This higher metabolism lasts for three hours after eating.

Recipes for a Budget Vegan Meal Plan

Are you ready to see some great recipes you can use for your vegan meal plan? I’ve included a couple of recipes for each meal below.

Delicious vegan breakfast recipes

Let’s start off the day with a smoothie that is reminiscent of maple pancakes, shall we?

Enjoy:


Blueberry Maple Protein Shake

This delicious shake hits just the right sweet spot! 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegan yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons of vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons flaxseed meal
  • Sweetener of your choice
  • 10 to 15 ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions:

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and mix until they are combined. If the mixture isn’t thick enough, you can add more ice. Or if you think it’s too thick, you can add some more water. Finally, if the flavor isn’t strong enough for you, go ahead and add some more sweetener to taste.

Source: Minimalist Baker

Blueberries close up

Image by Pranav Madhu, via Unsplash​​Unsplash


Here’s another smoothie recipe that will give you energy for hours.

Look:


almonds on a dark brown table with a white bowl full of almond butter

Image via Pixabay

Almond Butter Banana Shake

Delicious, and packed with nutrients!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 heaping tablespoon almond butter
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1 scoop vegan protein powder

Instructions:

Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. 

Garnish with slices of banana or crushed almonds if desired.

Source: Lunchboxbunch.com


The following breakfast recipe that uses freekeh, which is a Middle Eastern product you can use for sweet or savory dishes.

This recipe uses it as a sweet breakfast you can make when you’re running short on time but still want lots of nutrition and fuel.


Freekeh Breakfast Bowl

You can't go wrong with freekeh in the morning! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of cracked freekeh, cooked
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, dates, or other dried fruit
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan butter
  • 1/3 cup of chopped toasted pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or other nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of honey or sweetener
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

Instructions:

Bring the milk to boil in a medium saucepan. Next, add the freekeh, dried fruit, and vegan butter (you can also use coconut oil as a substitute).

Turn the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

You will know it’s done with the freekeh absorbs the water and is tender.

Pour the mixture into a serving bowl and then add the nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey or sweetener of your choice.

Source: Care2.com

Freekah box and cereal in a white bowl

image CC by 2.0, by jules, via Flickr


Lunch recipes that will make your mouth water

Sometimes you have time to cook lunch and other times you’ll have to eat it on the go.

Good news!

I’ve thought of both and included an easy-to-make lunch as well as one that takes a little more time.

The first recipe is so easy, but don’t let that fool you. It’s heaven on a plate.


Avocado toast pictured with squeezed lime

Image by Mariana Medvedeva, via Unsplash

Avocado Toast with Citrus Cumin Salt

A delicious kick with top-notch fats! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 slices of rustic bakery or sprouted bread
  • 1 to 2 medium avocados
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon
  • Cumin
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions:

To make the citrus cumin salt, zest the lemon, then place the zest in a small bowl. Next, add 1 teaspoon of the sale and 1/4 teaspoon of cumin. Then, add a few pinches of pepper, then use your finger to mix it.

Next, mash 3/4 of the avocado in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.

After that, toast the bread. When it’s done, spread the avocado mixture over it and mash it down with a fork.

Next, slice the remaining avocado and place the slices on top of the toast. Then sprinkle some red pepper flakes, the citrus cumin salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice on top.

When it's finished, you can add a small drizzle of olive oil if you wish.

Source: Lunchboxbunch.com


Vegan potato fritters

image via Pixabay

Vegetable Potato Fritters with Vegan Sriracha Mayonnaise

Get your vegan fix for your spicy kick craving!

Ingredients:

For the vegetable potato fritters:

  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 small chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon regular paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For the sriracha mayonnaise:

  • 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions:

Start by cooking the red lentils as instructed on the package. Then, peel and grate the potatoes and carrot. Combine them with the cooked lentils, garlic, onion, flour, and spices in a large bowl. Stir until mixed.

Next, heat oil in a pan and add 1 1/2 tablespoons for each fritter. And then cook them on medium heat for three to four minutes on each side until they’re browned.

Meanwhile, make the sriracha mayonnaise by combining all of the ingredients and mixing well.

Eat the fritters while they’re hot dipped into the mayonnaise mixture.

Source: Veganheaven.org


Soups are a large part of a vegan’s diet and this recipe will warm you up on a cold day. Its bold flavors will make this a staple in your vegan plan.

Treat yourself:


Tomatoes on the vine

Photo by Marc Mueller on Unsplash

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Delicious, warm, and absolutely nutritious!

Ingredients:

For the roasted tomatoes:

  • 3 pounds of roma or plum tomatoes, cut in half and seeded (optional)
  • 8 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the caramelized onions:

1/2 tablespoon of olive oil

2 thinly sliced yellow onions

Additions to the soup:

1/2 cup of basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 to 2 cups water or vegetable broth (broth will make the soup thicker)

Salt and pepper to taste

Add coconut milk to make it creamy (optional)

Instructions:

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Farhenheit. Next, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and put the halved tomatoes and garlic cloves on it.

Drizzle them with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes. After you’ve taken them out of the oven, allow them to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the caramelized onions by adding 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot.

Set the temperature to medium-high. Add the onions and stir to coat them with the olive oil. Cook them until they are browned and caramelized. Be sure to check them every 5 to 10 minutes.

This should take about 20 minutes.

Once cool, add the tomatoes and garlic to a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until they’re smooth. Now add the basil and caramelized onions to the mixture and blend again. (You can also do this with an immersion blender.)

Transfer the blended mixture to the pot and turn to medium low heat. Add the broth or water, the oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the coconut milk if you want a creamy texture.

Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes so it will absorb all of the flavors.

Source: Ambitiouskitchen.com


Dinner recipes that your family will love

At the end of a long day, there’s nothing better than a vegan meal plan that maps out the perfect meal.

Below are some recipes for you to choose from.

You can make the first recipe in a flash, but the warm goodness will last all night long.

It's true:


Sweet Potato Soup with Avocado Garnish

Warm and packed with vitamins and good fats, this is a great option!

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder

For the topping:

  • 1 diced avocado
  • Handful of crushed tortilla chip
  • A pinch of smoky paprika
  • A squeeze of lime juice

Optional soup add-ons:

1-2 teaspoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

Cayenne, cumin, ginger powder and/or smoky paprika

Salt

Instructions:

Start by heating oven to 400 degrees. Then, poke a few holes in the sweet potato and bake it for an hour. When it’s done and cooled, peel the skin.

In a blender, add the sweet potato, broth, non-dairy milk, lime, garlic, and chipotle powder. Then, blend the mixture until smooth. Taste it and add more spice if needed.

Next, pour the soup into a pan and heat over the stove.

Once it's heated, add it to bowls and add avocado, crushed corn chips, and a squeeze of lime juice. Finally, top it off with a pinch of smoky paprika.

Source: Lunchboxbunch.com

sweet potatoes with cilantro

Image via Pixabay


Some nights, you just want a salad as a nice end to the day.

Here’s one that is easy to make and full of nutritious ingredients.

onions in a line and one cut open on a black background

Photo by 青 晨 on Unsplash

Fig Green Pea Salad with Tofu Feta

The incredible crispy delicious bit of figs, with delicious feta-ize tofu! 

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 4 cups of salad greens
  • 2 figs
  • 1 scallion
  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen peas

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the tofu feta:

  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons of white miso
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

Instructions:

First, make the tofu feta by putting paper towels on the top and bottom of the feta and then setting something heavy on top of it for at least an hour. Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients in a bowl until mixed thoroughly.

Cut the tofu into small cubes and add them to a jar. Next, add the marinade and mix evenly. Then place the jar in the fridge and let it marinade for about two hours.

To make the salad, slice the scallion and figs and add to a bowl already filled with greens, fresh peas, and tofu feta. Mix well.

Next, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to make the dressing.

Finally, drizzle the dressing on top of the salad.

Source: Greenevi.com


You can use your slow cooker to create a delicious meal to come home to.

The following recipe is easy, nourishing, and it’s a great addition to your vegan meal plan.


Vegan Slow Cooker Tofu Tikka Masala

You don't want to miss this delicious favorite!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of extra firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into chunks
  • 2 sliced medium carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced gold potatoes
  • 2 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can of full fat or lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
  • ½ tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1//4 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of frozen peas
  • Fresh chopped cilantro as a garnish

Instructions:

Add the garlic, onion, carrots, cauliflower florets, potatoes, coconut milk, tomato sauce, maple syrup, ginger, cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and pepper to your slow cooker and then stir to combine it.

Next, add in the tofu and stir it gently.

Turn the slow cooker on high and cook the mixture for 3 to 4 hours. Or, you can cook the mixture on low for 6 to 7 hours.

Immediately before serving it, add the frozen peas to the pot and cook it for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, uncovered.

Serve with quinoa or brown rice and add a dash of freshly chopped cilantro as a garnish.

Source: Ambitiouskitchen.com

vegan "chicken" tika Masala with tofu

image CC by 2.0, by Miikka H, via Flickr

Are You Ready to Make Your Vegan Meal Plan?

What do you think?

Taking everything you learned here, are you ready to design your own vegan meal plan?

If you’ve already created your vegan meal plan and want to share your favorite recipe with our readers, please do so in the comments below!

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Everything You Need to Know About Caffeine Pills

by Michael Brown on February 1, 2019

 Most of us struggle to stay alert and feeling energized throughout the day. One popular solution to this problem is to take caffeine pills.

Especially for those who do not enjoy the flavor of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, a simple caffeine pill can seem like the best solution to the murky, sluggish feeling that we all-too-often encounter in our day-to-day lives.  

Is it a good choice, though? Read on and find out.

Why Would You ​Use Caffeine Pills?

pills

image by: pixabay

A caffeine pill is exactly what it sounds like- a dietary supplement that is made up almost entirely of caffeine. They are not, however, the same thing as caffeine powder, which the FDA has deemed too dangerous for ingestion.

Caffeine pills are often taken simply to enhance alertness and energy, although there are a few other benefits to the drug that we will go into more depth with later on.

What is the Correct Dosage of Caffeine Pills?

dosage

image by: pixabay

Typically, a caffeine pill is dosed somewhere between 100 or 200 milligrams per capsule. This is an equivalent amount of caffeine as what you could expect to find in a typical cup of coffee.

The FDA requires supplements to have a clear dosage suggestion on their packaging and, depending on other ingredients in the capsule, the dosage might be different from one brand of caffeine pill to the next.

It is advised, however, that children not take caffeine pills unless specifically instructed by their physician and adults should not consume more than 400 mg of caffeine per day.

Who Shouldn’t Take Caffeine Pills?

child

image by: pixabay

We have already mentioned children, but they are not the only people who should steer clear of caffeine pills. Women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant should also avoid caffeine as it is potentially harmful to a growing embryo or fetus.

Men who are trying to get their significant other pregnant should also avoid caffeine as it has been known to decrease sperm count.

Individuals who suffer with gastrointestinal disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, or caffeine sensitivity should also use caution when ingesting the chemical.

Benefits of Taking Caffeine Pills

A number of benefits exist to taking caffeine pills on a regular basis. While it might seem like there are no positives to the drug, there are a number of reasons physicians may still recommend their use to their patients. Below, we will outline some of the most common benefits of caffeine pills.

Headache Reduction

headache

image by: pixabay

Caffeine has been known to release chemicals in the body that minimize headaches. You will often find that caffeine is an active ingredient in many over the counter migraine medications. Caffeine is a fast-acting headache relief and, in some hospitals, it is given in its purest safe form to eliminate migraines almost immediately.

Alertness

bodybuilding

image by: pixabay

If you are struggling to stay awake through the every day grind of your routine, you might find that a caffeine pill can help. Caffeine is an upper, so you will feel more awake after your body begins to digest it.

This is a common technique used by students and night shift workers. A caffeine pill will make you feel more alert and ready to face the challenges of the next few hours- but be ready for the crash!

Improved Memory

mechanical brain

image by: pixabay

A 2014 study by John Hopkins University found that caffeine has positive effects on long-term memory. A double-blind study was conducted in which one group consumed caffeine before being given a set of information. Another group was given a caffeine-free placebo.

The next day, the two groups were questioned about the information. Those that had consumed caffeine remembered a significantly larger amount of data. Studies are ongoing to determine if caffeine might hold a secret to curing Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Reduce Constipation

bathroom

image by: pixabay

Caffeine is a natural stool softener and laxative. As the chemical deteriorates in the digestive process, the effects on your bowels are fast acting. It is often advised to drink a cup of coffee if you are struggling with constipation. A caffeine pill would do the trick just as well.


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Risks of Taking Caffeine Pills

risk

image by: pixabay

There are, of course, certain risks to taking caffeine pills. While the benefits are significant, it is always advised to weigh the pros and cons of any supplement you intend to take. Below, we will outline some potential issues you might experience from the ongoing use of caffeine pills.

Diarrhea

As mentioned, caffeine is a natural laxative and stool softener. This can create some issues if used in excess. One of the issues that some run into is diarrhea. If you are experiencing diarrhea after you begin taking caffeine pills, it’s probably wise to check your dosage.  

Acid Reflux

Caffeine can create acid reflux issues because of its effects on the digestive system. When the digestive system is stimulated, it begins to produce more gas, which backs up into the throat and creates painful, burning symptoms.

Insomnia

Because caffeine is a stimulant, those who overuse the drug often find that they struggle to sleep. If you are addicted to caffeine and consuming it frequently throughout the day, you might find that it affects your ability to unwind and get comfortable at night.

If you are struggling to sleep well, take an inventory of the caffeine you have consumed throughout the day from all sources. Chances are, you have overstimulated your own system.

Irritability

Yes, you read correctly. Caffeine is addictive and many people who use caffeine do struggle with it as an addiction. As with any chemical dependence, if you are unable to get your regular “fix,” your mood is going to deteriorate. If you often find that you are struggling to feel pleasant throughout the day, consider whether overuse of caffeine might be the problem.

Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose

Caffeine is a drug and you can overdose from any drug you take. Caffeine overdose is actually probably more common than y​​ou would expect, so it is important to consider the symptoms of caffeine overdose before you begin using the drug regularly.

Vomiting

Vomiting is the first sign of most chemical overdoses. It is your body’s natural reaction to what it considers to be a dangerous influx of contaminant. It will start with light gagging, then it can lead to violent vomiting followed by dry heaves when the contents of your stomach are empty. This is your body trying to push the caffeine back out of your system.

Seizures

If your nervous system gets overstimulated by the chemicals found in caffeine, it could lead to a seizure. Keep in mind that not all seizures are the same. A petit mal or grand mal seizure could be attributed to addiction, so whether you are convulsing or simply “blacking out,” you will need to take the matter seriously and seem immediate medical attention.

Erratic Heartbeat or Nervousness

Caffeine boosts your heart rate and raises your blood pressure. Caffeine, alone, has been known to lead to heart attacks if taken in excess. If you feel like your heart is beating too rapidly, you might confuse the feeling with nervousness or anxiety. If you are unable to calm down, seek immediate medical attention.

Extreme Thirst

This is another of the body’s natural defenses against contaminants. Your body will try to “water down” the chemical by prompting you to drink more. If you are unable to satiate your thirst, odds are you might be dealing with an early onset symptom of overdose. At the very least, you are extremely dehydrated and should consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Takeaway: Caffeine Pills Can be Beneficial, Just Use Caution

Now that we have fully discussed caffeine pills and covered both the pros and cons of the drug, we will leave you to make your own determination about how it will benefit your individual needs and if it is something you want to try as part of your health regimen.

You should use caution when using caffeine pills, but that doesn’t mean they are completely unsafe. If you are still undecided, consult with your physician. They will have the best idea of how caffeine pills will help or harm you in the long run.

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Stair Stepper: How To Make The Most Out Of It

by Michael Brown on December 30, 2018

two people push up together

 Stair steppers are popular gym machines that you’ve more than likely seen if you’ve ever stepped inside. They’re also in many homes across the country.

If you decide to use one on a regular basis, you join the ranks of people that have decided to make their lives better by toning muscle, keeping themselves fit, and even burning fat.

What Is A Stair Stepper?

Many people get stair steppers and stair climbers confused when the truth is that the two are both very different pieces of equipment. Steppers have two pedals while stair climbers have revolving stairs.

Stair steppers are also perfect as low-impact machines meaning that you and your joints won’t have to deal with the impact from more jarring exercises like running.

They also work specifically on your hips, thighs, buttocks, and calves. Depending on where you want to focus will determine the kind of work out you do to get the most out of your stair stepper.

Using one of these is more than just going through the motions. There are a series of activities you should do before you put the stair stepper through your workout.

Always Begin With A Warm-up



woman warming up at the gym

Just like with any other form of exercise, you want to make sure you warm up first. The purpose of doing an adequate warm-up is to ensure that you don’t suffer from any injuries.

Think about it. Muscles get used to a given range of motion from your daily activities like sitting in front of a screen or standing behind a counter. Your muscles aren’t typically used to doing more strenuous exercise because you don’t do that every day. Doing it suddenly can be a shock to your muscles.

To prevent injury, start off with what is called dynamic stretching. That means that you’re warming up with smaller movements like inchworms, the cobra yoga pose, or arm stretches. You may also consider doing a short walk to get yourself moving and the blood flowing. This will all increase your muscles’ overall flexibility.


Getting Started With Your Workout



woman starting to workout

It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever worked out before because this next statement is critical to anyone who has worked out or not. Always workout with proper form.

Proper form is vital to getting a good workout and preventing injury. Even if we’re not talking about something as complex as Olympic lifting, using a stair stepper requires good form, too.


Movement And Range Of Motion



range of motion

Lucky for you, getting your form right isn’t hard with a stair stepper. You push down with your feet to mimic the movement that you would get if you were going up and down the stairs.

The key here is getting your full range of motion as you go up and down. What this means is that you need to push the pedal down all the way as far as you can make it go. When your foot goes back up, you want to make sure your knee is at least perpendicular to your body before pushing back down.

As you’re standing up at the stair stepper, you need to stand straight and tall. By keeping your body upright, you can keep the intensity of the workout up, plus, you’ll engage all the right muscles.


Stand Up And Preventing Injury



women stretching at the beach

Some people will lean forward as they work out on a stair stepper, but they’re really not doing themselves any favors. Not only does it lower the overall intensity of what you’re trying to do, but it can also set you up for injury.

Your body is not designed to walk, climb stairs, or run in a hunched over position. It is designed for you to remain upright with your center of gravity more or less centered. When you hunch over, you throw off your center of gravity which can cause you to lurch forward unintentionally resulting in a lower back injury or other muscle strain.

If you feel the need to rest while you’re working out, then relax. Don’t lean against the rails. Take a minute or two, and then get going again. You’re going to build up better endurance doing it that way, and you’ll be safer, too.

How Much You Should Push Yourself

You’ll also need to get to know your limitations. If you have never worked out a day in your life, first of all, kudos to you for starting on this journey. Understand, too, that you’re going to need to take it slow because it is something your body hasn’t ever done.

That means if you can only make it for maybe five minutes, that’s still five minutes more than you’ve ever done. You may need to take baby steps to get to where you can go for a full thirty minutes without stopping. Remember, you’re not in competition with anyone but yourself, so don’t compare what you do to someone else who has been working out for years. It’s not a fair comparison, and you can end up disappointing yourself. Just don’t do it.

Be Careful And Don’t Overdo It



women wearing a gym wear

If you’ve worked out in the past, but it has been a long time, you may want to take it a little slower in the beginning, too. Your body is going to feel great going at the pace you used to have when you worked out ten years ago. At least at that moment, it will because your muscles are going to remember the movements without much effort.

Once you’ve completed the workout, you may feel a little sore. You might even say that the soreness feels fantastic. You’re going to realize the next day that you’re probably going to be in a lot of pain. Some pain is normal, but pain that keeps you from being able to get out of bed or sit down on the toilet without crying out may be a result of pushing yourself just a bit too much.

Others will say that you can’t push yourself too hard, but the reality is that if you push yourself so hard that it makes it difficult to function the next day, you may have done too much. Scale back just a bit and build your intensity over time.

How Often And How To Adjust For What You Need To Workout


The amount of time that you should dedicate to working out has changed a lot over the years. The most recent number states that you should exercise for a total of about 75 minutes every week if you’re hitting it hard. If the workouts are moderate then closer to 150 minutes per week is what you should be looking at.

On a stair stepper, you can adjust your intensity to fit what your goals are regarding health and fitness. In other words, if you need to change the resistance level to increase your power, then you’re going to raise your heart rate faster. If you’re looking for a more moderate workout, a good place to start is with moderate resistance.

Alternatively, if you’re specifically looking to build your endurance, then you’re going to want to use a low resistance while stepping quickly.

If you’re focused on building muscle strength, then you’re going to want to set your stepper to lower resistance. A lower resistance will force you to push down harder to move the pedals and will work to develop your lower body muscles.

How To Use Stair Steppers For Weight Loss

Most people start looking at exercise as a way to lose weight. While that’s not wrong, it’s also not entirely correct.

Let’s put it this way, if you usually consume 2500 calories, burn 500 calories, and allow yourself that extra donut at your midday break, you’re not going to create much of a calorie deficit.

Stair steppers can help with weight loss because you’re burning calories you weren’t burning before. That works for any exercise that you pursue so long as you don’t overestimate how much you can eat in relation to the workout.

In other words, if you consume 2500 calories daily and then burn 500 calories with your stair stepper, don’t reach for that donut.

Main Types Of Stair Steppers

You’ve got two main types of stair steppers. The big ones that you see at the gym come in those models as well as collapsible models for easy storage. The other types of stair steppers that you’ll see are more compact and can even fit under your bed to store.

Larger ones are more expensive, but they do offer a greater range of options. For one, they have arm rails to steady yourself with, but they also take up more room.

Smaller ones will fit under your desk, allowing you to step while you work, but it may be harder for you to keep your balance since there is nothing to lean on when you’re standing up.

One Last Thing About Stair Steppers

Stair steppers are great for easy, low-impact exercise for those who want to achieve higher fitness levels. Just about anyone can use on e which makes this a great choice as a piece of family equipment.

To pick out the one that works best for you, you’ll want to read reviews and do your homework, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Measure the space you want to use and know where you’re going to put it before you purchase it.

Remember if you need to, start slow and work up from there. There is no shame in only making it through a few minutes on your first day. Cheers to your health!

 

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