Why You’re Probably Doing Breakfast Wrong

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Back when I was an OB-GYN resident in New York City, every morning I used to stop at a food cart on my way to work and get my favorite breakfast: a cinnamon bagel with cream cheese and a diet coke. I didn’t think of my breakfast as being sugar laden. But in reality, every day I was giving my body a sugar rush.

Moments after eating a high-carb food, your blood sugar shoots up—and in as little as an hour, it crashes. I didn’t know it at the time, but my go-to meal was to blame for my unrelenting exhaustion by 11 am, as well as my mood swings and weight gain.

You might think that if you know well enough to avoid this carbohydrate and fat-bomb at breakfast, you’re doing a good job. But if you’re skipping protein at your morning meal, you might as well have a big, fat bagel.

I understand—amidst the chaos of getting your day started, you’re probably lucky to scarf down a granola bar or a banana on the way to work. But these grain- and sugar-rich breakfasts (yes, fruit has natural sugars, but they’re still sugars!) can cause blood sugar highs and lows that contribute to weight gain. This sugary fare can even increase your risk of developing diabetes.

Your body recognizes every carbohydrate—even granola and fruit—as glucose, or sugar. If these carbs are not paired with a protein, which slows sugar absorption in the body, you set yourself up for a quick blood sugar spike and then a crash that leaves you ravenous soon after eating. And packaged cereals? Forget it. They contain tons of refined sugars, which bring on belly fat and inflammation in the body quicker than you can say Frosted Mini-Wheats!

Protein is the most critical nutrient you need at breakfast, and at every meal and snack thereafter. A protein-rich breakfast not only busts hunger and cravings for the rest of the day, but it also keeps your blood sugar and cortisol levels stable, encourages muscle growth and helps you burn fat. In a 2008 study published in the journal Nature, people who ate eggs for breakfast lost 65 percent more weight than those who ate bagels. Eggs can fill you up, helping you avoid the sugar traps of most American breakfast foods—thus reducing your risk of diabetes.

If you want the ability to burn fat first thing in the morning and energy that takes you through the day, my recommendation is that you aim to eat at least 20 grams of protein within an hour of waking and at every meal for the rest of the day. You should also aim to consume 5 to 10 grams of protein from every snack.

Try one of these protein-packed morning meals for a breakfast upgrade:

1. Protein shake: This is an ideal option for those who don’t like to eat first thing, or who get nauseated by the smell of food. You could add fruit, greens, and nuts or seeds to boost your nutrient intake. Drinking a protein shake within an hour of waking is a big part of my Three Weeks to Endless Energy program, and my patients have seen remarkable results from making this one change only. You can find my top choice for high quality protein shake powder in my webstore.

2. A healthier hot cereal: Make quinoa and add almond milk, nuts and blueberries. Quinoa is packed with protein and has fewer carbs than oatmeal. Nuts have protein and healthy fat, and blueberries are a huge source of antioxidants.

3. Breakfast wrap: Cook organic chicken sausage or turkey bacon, and wrap it in a gluten-free corn tortilla with diced tomato and avocado.

4. Quick eggs: Make an egg omelet with broccoli and tomatoes; cook two hard-boiled eggs and enjoy with sliced avocado; or make sliced turkey and roll it up with guacamole.

5. Almond flour-based muffin-in-a-minute mug: This is my kids’ favorite— and it’s packed with protein and healthy fats. Get the recipe here.

This article originally appeared over at Fox News. Where I’m a regular health and wellness contributor. 

Why caloric restriction alone won’t help you live longer

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Caloric restriction, defined as reducing calorie intake by at least 30 percent, has gained a cult following since it was first studied in the 1930s. Scores of people swear that by dialing consumption way down, and eating far less, you can gain vitality and longevity. And while studies cited by the National Institutes of Health report that caloric restriction (often referred to as “CR”) did have some positive effects on health in rhesus monkeys, the NIH announced in 2012 that it has not been shown to boost overall longevity. (These findings conflicted with those published in 2009, which found that caloric restriction did, in fact, extend life in monkeys.)

The final word on these studies has yet to be published. But I don’t believe we need to wait for it. If you want to live a longer, better life, portion control plays a role, sure— but the reason I’m not one for the CR diet is because I believe you should be far more focused on what’s ON your plate, rather than what isn’t.

The danger inherent to the idea of caloric restriction is the belief that simply consuming less food is enough to fend off chronic disease and give you optimal health— without much concern for the food itself. If this were true, we’d all be able to eat cheeseburgers and french fries in smaller portions every day and call ourselves healthier. If you put emphasis on what you’re not eating rather than what you are, you’re missing the mark.

A great example of what I mean is the popular diet program Weight Watchers and similar plans such as Nutrisystem, which completely flop in terms of nutritional benefits. They certainly restrict your daily caloric intake and you may lose weight, but with Weight Watchers, you could still end up eating a slice of pizza at each meal and stay within your allotted “points” for the day. You’re still consuming a high-carbohydrate, low-nutrient diet— essentially an inflammatory diet— and this puts you at risk of all the top killers, including cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease and dementia later in life. Eating a limited number of calories does not necessarily equal a health-promoting, life-extending diet.

Some of the caloric restriction research findings also point to the importance of food quality and, I believe, give us a clue to the longevity puzzle. In the two studies I mentioned above, launched in the ‘80s and coming to a close now, the calorie-restricted monkeys were fed different kinds of food. One group, studied at The University of Wisconsin, was fed a diet high in sucrose, or sugar, that lacked trace dietary chemicals and minerals. Not surprisingly, when this unhealthy diet was given in lower quantities, the monkeys experienced better health and lived longer lives— and control group monkeys that were given unlimited quantities of this food died earlier. By contrast, in the other study, calorie-restricted monkeys as well as the control group monkeys were fed anatural-ingredient diet. This resulted in about the same health outcomes between them.

So while limiting nutritionally poor food will help your health, you should focus on replacing lousy foods altogether. What I recommend to you is the same thing I tell my patients every day: Your best shot at keeping chronic diseases at bay and extending your lifespan is replacing high-sugar, processed foods with a wholesome, nutrient-dense diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, some grains, nuts and seeds.

Is half of your plate filled with plant-based foods at each meal? Do you have a lean protein and a healthy fat represented on your plate? Are you consuming clean food that is as close as possible to its most natural state? If not, quit counting calories and focus on making these changes.

This article originally appeared over at Fox News, where I’m a regular contributor. 

Endless Energy? Is it Possible for You?

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Whatever your energy state, supporting yourself with healthy practices will help you maintain – or come back to – a place where your energy soars.

Energy is never a given. It’s delicate and requires upkeep and care. With some focused effort and changes to your daily habits, you’re going to wake up feeling like a whole new person!

These practices will help you achieve the energy to live your life the way you want it:

  • Eat well. Balance your blood sugar by eating a mix of healthy carbs, fats, and lean proteins every 3-4 hours.
  • Rest well. Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority – it will help your body repair and give you a good start to your day.
  • Manage stress. Stress is an energy killer, and keeping it in check is the key to rebalancing.
  • Supplement. Sometimes you need a little extra boost to help get you back on track.

No matter where you are, I want to see you live a life of endless energy.

Take the energy quiz to find out if you’re Burning Up, Burning Low, or Burning Out…and what you need to do to get yourself back on track.

Is My Marriage Healthy…Even If We’re Not Having Sex?

The way I see it, if you’re not having sex in your marriage anymore, there’s a problem. I know, not only because of the many patients who have told me about their issues, but because I have experienced it myself. … Continue reading