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Healthy Recipe: Prebiotic-Rich Leek and Bean Soup

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been discussing the importance of prebiotics for your gut health. While you can take prebiotics in supplement form, like anything else, it’s generally best to get them through your diet. We’ve put together this prebiotic-rich leek and bean soup to help you easily get the prebiotics you need to feed those good bacteria in your gut and keep them thriving and happy.

bean soup

What You Need:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 leek bulbs, chopped
  • 2 16-ounce cans chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 16-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups chopped chicory
  • salt and pepper, to taste
What To Do:
  1. Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in broth and spices and bring to a boil. Add beans and chicory, lower heat to medium, and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until chicory is tender.
  3. Remove bay leaves and transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender. Puree until smooth then transfer back into soup to thicken. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.

Probiotics Versus Prebiotics

Last week we discussed the role certain bacteria in the gut play in helping you lose weight where we briefly touched upon the subject of prebiotics. Many of you asked us to clarify what prebiotics are and explain the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, which are more widely known.

prebiotics yogurt

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria. They are found in certain foods and drinks, like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and miso. There are also a wide variety of probiotic supplements available on the market in both powder and capsule form.

The term probiotics is used to describe any living bacteria that is beneficial to its host: you. In studies, probiotics have been shown to boost the immune system, prevent infection, improve digestive function, and boost mood.

Because probiotics are living organisms, they can be very unstable. They are sensitive to both heat and light, and generally must be kept in a cool, dark, dry place — the refrigerator is usually best.

What are Prebiotics?

Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not live organisms. Prebiotics is the term used to describe a specialized type of plant fiber that feeds probiotics. Basically, the probiotics (or live bacteria) feed on prebiotics in order to grow and multiply. The body itself can’t digest these plant fibers, so they’re left to promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Like probiotics, prebiotics come in food sources, like onions, garlics, leeks, and kefir, and as over-the-counter supplements.

Synbiotic Regimen

When you take both probiotics and prebiotics together — or consume both probiotic and prebiotic foods — it’s called a synbiotic regimen. The best way to ensure that the bacteria in your gut are flourishing — or that the probiotic you’re taking is working — is to take probiotics and prebiotics together.

Some foods, like cheese, kefir, and certain types of yogurt, are called synbiotic foods because they contain both probiotics and prebiotics. You can also purchase synbiotic supplements.

The Secret to Weight Loss May Be in the Gut

For years, health professionals claimed that the only thing you have to focus on when it comes to weight loss is calories. If the calories you eat total less than the calories you burn through regular daily living and exercise, then you would lose the weight. Simple, right? Not so fast. More recent research shows that it’s not that simple. Many people on restricted calorie diets and exercising regularly did not see results, which led to frustration and abandonment of a weight loss regimen altogether. So what gives?

While calories do play a role in weight loss — if you overeat, you won’t lose weight — they’re not the end all, be all. Other things, like genetics, metabolism, and types of food you eat, matter too. But researchers were not satisfied with this either, so they dug a little deeper, which led them into the gut.

Bacteria in the Gut

By now, you’ve probably heard about how the gut plays a role in your health. In fact, Hippocrates, often referred to as the Father of Medicine, went so far as to say that all disease begins in the gut. But your gut doesn’t just play a role in disease, or the absence of it, it also plays a role in how easily it is for you to lose weight.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, your ability to lose weight depends heavily on the amount of two types of bacteria — bacteroides and prevotella — in your gut. These two types of bacteria help digest the fiber in your diet and, based on research, people with higher concentrations of them in their gut tend to lose weight faster and more easily.

How Do you Measure Bacteria?

The bad news here is that the only way to know if you’re one of the people who has high concentrations of bacteroides and prevotella in your gut is to collect a sample of your stool and ship it off to the lab. But here’s the good news: you don’t really need to know because either way, you can do the things necessary to boost the number of these bacteria and improve your gut health and meet your weight loss goals.

Boosting Bacteroides and Prevotella

You can’t find bacteroides and prevotella in a probiotic supplement because they only have the ability to live outside of the human body for a short period of time. But what you can do is give these bacteria the nourishment they need to grow and multiply so that they take up residence in your gut in higher numbers. The way to do this is by consuming pre-biotics, which are plant-based fibers that feed them. Foods like chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, apples, flaxseeds, wheat bran, and jicama contain prebiotic fibers.

Of course, even though you can’t directly increase bacteroides and prevotella through supplementation with probiotics, it’s not a bad idea to take them since they help balance the rest of the gut microbiome.

Product of the Month! CarbCrave Complex by Pure Encapsulations

Although the recent temperatures make it hard to believe, summer is coming to a close and we’re heading into fall; but don’t let the thought of cooler temperatures distract you from your goals. Now is the time to kick your weight loss efforts into full gear so you’ll be feeling good all winter and ready for that bikini next summer.

Our September monthly special is designed to help maximize fat loss, while giving you the tools you need to curb those carbohydrate cravings that tend to intensify in the cooler months. With this special you receive 4 WEEKS of everything listed below for only $295 (that’s a savings of over $200)!

Physician Consult & Weekly Weigh-ins
Meal Plans
FDA Approved Medications
MetaBlast Supplements
Craveaway Supplements
Weekly Upgraded Injection of B-12
Bi-Weekly Injection of Lipo X
Full Body Analysis on our BODYCOMP Scale
Product of the Month

VM CarbCrave2

This month, for our product of the month, we’re offering CarbCrave Complex with Sensoril®Trim by Pure Encapsulations. CarbCrave Complex helps curb excessive carbohydrate intake and to moderates appetite by supporting healthy brain chemistry and mood.*

The active ingredients in CarbCrave Complex include:

  • Chromium Picolinate – helps balance blood sugar and control carbohydrate cravings.
  • 5-HTP – a precursor for serotonin, the same neurotransmitter released by the consumption of carbohydrates. Serotonin is thought to be responsible for increased mood – which is why people, especially those under stress, tend to crave carbohydrates.
  • DL-Phenylalanine – supports dopamine and epinephrine production, which are two neurotransmitters responsible for well-being.
  • Relora (which is a proprietary blend of magnolia extract and phellodendron extract) – Like chromium picolinate, Relora® helps decrease carbohydrate cravings and leads to a healthier intake of carbohydrates in adults. In one study involving 49 volunteers prone to eating under stress, Relora® helped reduce stress- related snacking of sweets by 76%.
  • Sensoril® Trim Ashwagandha – promotes relaxation and maintains healthy cortisol levels, which helps support glucose and fat metabolism. Ashwagandha also helps improve the body’s response to stress and fatigue.
  • Pyridoxal 5’Phosphate (or activated vitamin B-6) – a vital component in the synthesis of neurotransmitters.*

CarbCrave

If you have any questions about CarbCrave Complex or you want to take advantage of our monthly special, contact us TODAY!

DISCLAIMER * These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Healthy Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oatmeal

Fall is right around the corner, but for many of us (especially those of us on the west coast), summer temperatures are still in full force. At this point in the year, when it’s tempting to go without a meal instead of turning the oven on, healthy meals that don’t require heat are worth their weight in gold.

Overnight oatmeal is one of our favorites because it requires very few ingredients, it’s easy to make, there’s no cooking involved, and it’s ready to go in the morning when you might typically be in a rush. Another bonus is that you can really use any combination of ingredients to create an overnight oatmeal that you love.

This chocolate peanut butter overnight oatmeal is a real crowd-pleaser because, well, who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter together? Also, it only requires 6 ingredients, all of which we already had in our pantry. Win-win!

What You Need:

  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ tablespoon chia seeds

What to Do:

  1. In a sealable glass jar (mason jars are ideal for this), combine coconut milk, maple syrup, and cocoa powder. Stir until evenly incorporated.
  2. Add peanut butter, oats, and chia seeds and stir until combined.
  3. Cover jar with the lid and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  4. Serve cold or microwave for 30 seconds before eating.

Optional: You can enjoy the overnight oats as is, or add additional toppings before eating. Our favorite additions include sliced bananas and crushed walnuts.

How to Get Rid of Stomach Fat

Last week we discussed the different types of body fat and how they affect your health. The most dangerous type of fat, called visceral fat, is found deep within the belly area and surrounds your major organs. The bad news is that having a lot of this type of stomach fat can increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. The good news is that although it’s dangerous, it’s very responsive to weight loss attempt — meaning, you can burn it off pretty easily with the right strategy.

Calories In Versus Calories Out

The most basic strategy for all weight loss is this: take in fewer calories than you expend. The source of your calories definitely matters, but simply restricting your calories will have a significant impact on your visceral fat.

Move More

According to researchers at Harvard University, exercise can reduce your waist circumference and help get rid of visceral fat even if you don’t actually lose any weight. To reduce visceral fat, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or biking, on most days of the week.

Consume Calcium

A study done by researchers from the University of Alabama Birmingham reported that the more calcium-rich foods a woman eats, the less visceral fat she gains. Good sources of calcium include plain yogurt, collard greens, broccoli, kale, bok choy, figs, oranges, sardines, and canned salmon.

Avoid Trans Fat and Fructose

Trans fats and fructose (read: high-fructose corn syrup) encourage the storage of fat around the belly. In addition, foods that contain trans fat and fructose are typically processed, packaged foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients anyway.

Sleep Right

Finding your perfect sleep balance is important for reducing visceral fat. Studies show that both too much (more than 8 hours) and too little sleep (fewer than 5 hours) can increase visceral fat. Aim for around 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

Manage Your Stress

Stress increases production of the hormone cortisol, which prompts the body to store belly fat. If you want to reduce your visceral fat, you’ll need to get your stress levels under control. Try deep breathing, yoga, meditation, exercise, and/or journaling.

The Types of Body Fat — and Why They Matter

When you think about fat, you might not think about the types as much as you think “I just want it gone!”; but recognizing the different types of body fat is important in determining your risk of developing certain health problems. While some fat is nothing more than a cosmetic issue, other types of fat can increase your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and even dementia.

belly fat

Brown Fat

Brown fat, also called Brown Adipose Tissue or BAT, is found mostly in the back of the neck. This type of fat is beneficial and helps convert the calories from the food you eat into heat to keep your core temperature warm.

Brown fat acts like a muscle when triggered by a dip in body temperature. When it’s cold outside, or when you’re standing in a cold shower or swimming in a cold ocean, your brown fat starts to burn calories for energy to heat the body. On average, a normal weight adult stores 2 to 3 ounces of brown fat, which burns about 250 calories over the course of 3 hours.

White Fat

Your body holds significantly more white fat than brown fat. Unlike brown fat, which burns energy, white fat stores energy, but that’s only one of its jobs. White fat also plays a role in hormone production and the control of insulin. Having too much white fat can make the body less sensitive to insulin, and as a result, can lead to insulin resistance and, eventually, diabetes. White fat is categorized even further into two types: subcutaneous and visceral.

Subcutaneous Fat

Almost 80 percent of fat is subcutaneous fat. This is the type of fat that lies just below the skin’s surface. It’s the fat that’s measured when determining body fat percentage; and it’s also the fat that’s typically responsible for the appearance of cellulite (although cellulite is much more complicated than this and a story for a different day).

Subcutaneous fat exists all over the body, but it’s most common in the thighs, hips, and belly. Unlike brown fat, which burns energy, subcutaneous fat stores energy. That’s why, if you regularly eat too many calories, these fatty areas will continue to grow.

Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is the deep fat that wraps around the inner organs and can cause serious health problems. Having a lot of visceral fat increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and dementia. Typically, visceral fat is found in the stomach area. A big waist and/or belly is a good indication that you have a lot of visceral fat.

Women with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches and men with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches are the biggest risk of developing serious diseases.

 

Product of the Month: Skip-a-Meal Replacement Beverage

Summer may be coming to a close, but there’s plenty of time left to rock that swimsuit and we want you to feel great while doing it. That’s why our Skip-a-Meal Replacement Beverage is part of our monthly special for this month too.

Monthly Special Details

With this special you receive 4 WEEKS of everything listed below for only $295 (that’s a savings of over $200)!

Physician Consult & Weekly Weigh-ins
Meal Plans
FDA Approved Medications
Meta-Blast Supplements
Crave-away Supplements
Weekly Upgraded Injection of B-12
Bi-Weekly Injection of Lipo X
Full Body Analysis on our BODYCOMP Scale

Plus, the product of the month ABSOLUTELY FREE!

skip-a-meal replacement beverage

All about Skip-a-Meal

The Skip-a-Meal Replacement Shake is a whey protein meal replacement shake that serves as a high-protein, low calorie replacement for a higher calorie meal. You can replace one meal with a shake each day, or all three meals. It’s totally up to you.

The shake contains several vitamins and minerals, so it serves as a balanced nutrition source, just like a healthy meal would. One serving of the Skip-a-Meal replacement shakes provides only 192 calories and at least 30% (in some cases, it provides 35%) of each of these vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin D, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin B-12, biotin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, zinc, and copper. So if you’re drinking the meal replacement three times a day, you don’t have to worry about getting the nutrients you need.

A single serving of the shake also provides 24 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber but only 2 grams of sugar and 5 grams of fat. The even better news? One tub contains 15 servings and you get it FREE when you sign up for our monthly special. Choose from vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.

If you have any questions about Skip-a-Meal or you want to take advantage of our monthly special, contact us TODAY!

DISCLAIMER * These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Appetite-Suppressing Foods That Can Help Boost Weight Loss

We all know that when it comes to weight loss, there are no magic tricks or quick fixes. It takes dedication and consistency, along with a proper diet and exercise routine and the support that you need to keep going. That being said, these appetite-suppressing foods, when eaten in conjunction with an overall healthy diet plan, may help contribute to greater weight loss.

avocado

Avocado

We started the list with avocado because we think that it’s one of the best foods on the entire planet. You probably already know that avocados are rich in heart-healthy fats, but it’s a certain type of fat, called oleic acid, that packs the true appetite-suppressing punch. Oleic acid is classified as an omega-9 fatty acid. When you eat oleic acid, which is also found in olive oil, your body converts it to a compound called oleoylethanolamide, or OEA. Studies show that OEA travels to the gut lining, where it sends signals of satiety to the brain. When OEA levels are increased, it generally leads to decreased hunger and reduced calorie intake at the next meal.

A word of warning though: while avocados can help suppress appetite, they also contain a lot of calories due to their high fat content. When including avocados in your meal, pay attention to the proper serving size, which is one-third of a medium-sized avocado.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is made by straining out the liquid whey from regular yogurt. This process not only makes the yogurt thicker, it also makes it higher in protein per ounce. According to research, protein keeps you feeling fuller than fat or carbohydrates; so any food that is high in protein has appetite-suppressing effects. Research shows that when people increase protein intake to 30 percent of calories from just 15 percent of calories, they report feeling less hungry and typically eat fewer calories throughout the day.

A single 5.3-ounce container of Greek yogurt contains around 15 grams of protein, compared to just 7 grams for regular varieties; but be choosy when choosing yogurt. Flavored Greek yogurts still have the protein, but they can also contain as much sugar as a can of soda. Plain, nonfat or low-fat yogurt is best.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed packs a one-two punch when it comes to appetite suppression. It’s rich in both omega-3 fats and fiber, two nutrients that keep you feeling full. Fiber is especially beneficial because it has a “bulking” effect. It expands and pulls water into the digestive tract, which leads to feelings of satiety, and it doesn’t contribute any calories. The fat in flaxseed can also slow increases in blood sugar levels, which not only reduces hunger, but irritability as well.

One tablespoon of whole flaxseed contains 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of fat; but make sure to grind your flaxseed before consuming it because your body can’t properly digest whole flaxseed.

Spinach

Spinach contains compounds called thylakoids, which can contribute to appetite suppression and a reduced food intake. According to research, when thylakoids are eaten with a high-fat meal, levels of Cholecystokinin, or CCK, and leptin, two hormones that signal to your brain that you’re full and to stop eating, are increased. On the flipside, thylakoids can also reduce ghrelin, the hormone that tells your body that you’re hungry. When combined with healthy carbohydrates, thylakoids can also help reduce cravings for sugar and sweets.

To reap the benefits of thylakoids, try this magnesium-rich smoothie. It combines spinach with avocado and fruit to give you the fat and carbohydrates you need.

The Basics of Intermittent Fasting

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed HIIT, a type of workout that has been quite the trending topic on social media lately. This week, we wanted to stay with the theme of trending topics and decided to give you the lowdown on the dieting movement that’s also been making its rounds: intermittent fasting. We know it sounds complicated and a little bit intimidating, but when you break it down, it’s actually quite straightforward.

intermittent fasting

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Put simply, intermittent fasting is a term for an eating strategy that alternates between set periods of fasting and eating. There are no guidelines as to what you eat, just when you eat; but even those guidelines are loose, as it’s typically up to you to determine your fasting and eating windows. There are different types of intermittent fasting, but these are two of the most popular patterns:

  • The Leangains Method (also called the 16/8 Method): When following a Leangains intermittent fasting protocol, you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8 hour window. This means that you pick a time, typically in the afternoon, when you will consume all of your calories for the day. Outside of that time, you eat nothing for the rest of the day. For example, you may eat between 12 pm and 8 pm and then fast for the other 16 hours.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: The Eat-Stop-Eat method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week; then eating normally for the rest of the week. For the fasting day, you would typically eat dinner and then fast until dinner the next day.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Most people venture into intermittent fasting for its weight loss benefits, but the eating method has several benefits that reach beyond weight loss.

  • Hormone balance: When you fast, your body adjusts levels of several different hormones to make it easier for your body to use fat as energy. Your levels of human growth hormone (or HGH), which is associated with fat loss and muscle gain, increases as much as five times; while insulin levels drop significantly, helping to lower body fat.
  • Reduced inflammation: In some studies, intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce chronic inflammation, which is associated with many health issues, including asthma, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce several risk factors for heart disease, including LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and insulin levels.
  • Brain health: Some studies have shown that intermittent fasting may increase levels of a hormone in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. Higher levels of BDNF are linked to better long-term memory.

Although the scientific studies on intermittent fasting are fairly recent, the research is promising. We think the trend is definitely worth looking into.

What do you think? Have you tried intermittent fasting? Tell us your thoughts!

*If you have a medical condition, please consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting. Contraindications include diabetes, blood sugar imbalances, low blood pressure, medications, and pregnancy/breastfeeding. If you are a woman who is trying to conceive, intermittent fasting may not be right for you.