A skeptical look at popular diets: The lowdown on low carb

In the seventh post in the series A Skeptical Look at Popular Diets, physician Randall Stafford examines down the pros and cons of a low-carb diet.

By Randall Stafford

As the name implies, this diet reduces dietary carbohydrates, including many common foods that contain sugars and/or starches. To make up for this reduction, the intake of protein and fat can increase. Frequently, however, low-carb dieters do not fully replace the calories from reducing carbs and they lose weight as a result.

This diet has several favorable features, but a high intake of animal-based saturated fats can offset the benefits. One version, the Atkins Diet, was promoted to facilitate weight loss. A problem with interpreting “low carbohydrate” is that there is no consensus on how low is “low.”

Health rationale slogan: Restricting carbs helps you lose weight and solves many metabolic problems.

Analysis: Depending on how low carb you go, a lower carb diet potentially restricts multiple common foods including grains, legumes, fruits, breads, desserts, pastas, and starchy vegetables. Particularly off-limits: processed foods made with flour and added sugars. Food sources higher in protein and fat take their place, such as meats, eggs and nuts.

The diet’s potential benefits are many, including helping reverse insulin resistance, an early stage in the development of type 2 diabetes. It does this by restoring normal carbohydrate processing. By restricting carb intake, the body no longer has to cope with a large, sudden influx of sugar into the bloodstream. In addition, people following this diet may experience less hunger when they restrict calories, which facilitates weight loss (at least in the short term).

Stanford nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner, PhD, studied longer term weight loss and demonstrated similar favorable benefits from a lower carb vs. a lower fat diet when both approaches focused on healthy choices.

The food sources that are low carb range widely in healthfulness. For example, meat has no carbohydrates, but if meat intake is increased to replace carbohydrates, this can boost unfavorable saturated fats. Interestingly, in Gardner’s weight loss study, the group that followed a healthy low-carb diet had no adverse metabolic effects. This group decreased overall calories almost solely by restricting carbohydrate-rich foods, without substantially increasing protein or saturated fat intake.

If the carbohydrate restriction goes beyond added sugars and refined grains, to the point of restricting vegetables, whole grains and beans/legumes, this can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. And, if carb intake is low enough, ketosis can occur with its accompanying nausea, headache, physical and mental effects, and bad breath. Additionally, carbohydrate-rich foods are the primary sources of fiber, and low-fiber diets increase the risk of colon cancer and may have adverse effects on the gut microbiome.

Easy to follow?: Depending on how severe the carbohydrate restriction, this diet can be difficult to follow because it can dramatically restrict the intake of most of the major food groups, including fruits, beans/legumes, grains, starchy vegetables, and dairy.

Dominant source of protein: Animal proteins such as meat and eggs, which don’t contain carbs (unlike protein-rich legumes and grains).

Most common fats: Oils and saturated fats from meat.

What about carbs?: Limited carbs, but some variations of this diet can include potentially good carbs found in fibrous vegetables and beans/legumes.

When it goes wrong: Emphasizing meat consumption can lead to problems. High intake of the saturated fats found in meat may increase the risk of future heart disease and cancer. This harm would be greatest from emphasizing fatty red meats (steak, bacon, etc.) or processed meats, as opposed to leaner meats, such as poultry.

To make it healthier: The potential health benefits of lower carb diet can be maximized by focusing primarily on eliminating added sugars and refined grains, and emphasizing sources of fat from plant sources (e.g., olive oil, nuts, avocados), from fatty fish (e.g., salmon), or from lean meats.

Variations: The Atkins diet emphasizes restricting carbs, but allows as much fats and protein as desired. If carbohydrates are severely restricted, a low-carb diet becomes a ketogenic diet.

If you’re going to cheat: Including beans/legumes may make sense because their more complex starches and fiber differ from the simple starches in processed grains and starchy vegetables. Eating these foods provides a much greater range of possible foods, making the diet easier to follow.

Conclusion: A lower carb diet can offer weight loss and metabolic improvements. In its extreme forms where all starchy vegetables, bean/legume, fruit, and grain intake is restricted, it is difficult to follow and has the drawback of high saturated fat and low fiber intake.

Nonetheless, this diet could be a good starting place for initiating weight loss when the focus is on minimizing added sugars and refined grains, and maintaining or even increasing fibrous vegetables.

This is the seventh post in a series called A Skeptical Look at Popular Diets. The series will review the eight currently most prominent diets in America. The next blog post will discuss low-fat diets.

Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, is a professor of medicine at Stanford. He practices primary care internal medicine and studies strategies for preventing chronic disease. Stanford professor and nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner, PhD, examines the impact of diet on health and disease. Min Joo Kim provided research assistance.

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak

8 Foolproof New Year’s Resolution

Goodbye, 2017. Hello, 2018! 👋

If you’re reading this: give yourself a pat in the back. You’ve managed through all the goods and the bads that 2017 has thrown at you 👏

Now that the New Year is just right around the corner, it’s time to think about the good things that happened this year and jumpstart your 2018 for success! We usually take the time to reflect what we’ve accomplished so far and make some goals to make ourselves better for the upcoming year.

New Year symbolizes a new beginning, a step towards a better self.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution for this upcoming year?

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables

According to MyPlate, eating an overall healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce risk of heart disease, certain type of cancers, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. As fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories, it can lower calorie intake. Furthermore, eating fruits and vegetables that are high in fibers keep you full for longer — perfect to lose some of that holiday weight!

Keep track of your fruits & vegetables servings with EatLove

2. Drink more water

Did you know that two-third of our body consists of water? Thus, it seems like a no-brainer that getting enough water everyday is essential for our bodily function. CDC mentions that water aids in balancing body temperature, lubricates joints, protects spinal cords and other sensitive tissues, and get rid of wastes.

3. Meditate

Set aside a few minutes of your day to de-stress and clear your mind. Studies suggest that meditation improves emotional health, helps to develop stronger understanding of oneself, increases attention-span, fights insomnia and pain, and decreases blood pressure.

4. Get moving 🏃

Be it going up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, parking in the farthest lot when you go grocery shopping, or a full on workout — every little step you take (pun intended) counts. Some of the health benefits of physical activity includes weight management, reduced risk of some cancers, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and improvement of mood and mental health, CDC mentioned.

Tip: The Physical Activity Guidelines for adults is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (think brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (like jogging or swimming laps) per week.

5. Try out 1 new (healthy) recipe each week

Get out of your dinner rut by challenging yourself to try venturing out from your typical ‘chicken & broccoli’ recipe. By choosing a different variety of food across different food groups, you are more likely to obtain different nutrients and have a well-balanced diet. And who knows if you end up discovering your new favorite recipe?

Which one of these will be your new dinner rotation?

6. Meal plan + prep

A study conducted by USDA found that foods that are prepared outside of home are higher in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol and lower in dietary fiber than food prepared at home. Meal planning also helps you to stay within your budget, save time, and decrease food waste.

EatLove — Save time & money, and decrease food waste every week!

7. Get enough sleep

How many hours of sleep are you getting each day? According to National Sleep Foundation, younger adults & adults (age 18–64) should be getting 7–9 hours of sleep daily. And no, you can’t save it all for the weekends!

8. Be kind to yourself

Give yourself some recognition when you hit your new plank record or crush you weekly work goal. But also remember to not beat yourself up too much when you’re feeling stressed out and forgive yourself when something did not go as you planned.

Every junk food has a healthy homemade substitute

Photo by Brooke Lark

I understand you completely. You love pizza, french fries, cookies, pastries, croissants, cakes, candies, potato chips, biscuits, Oreos, Twinkies, Snickers, Bounties, Mars, Twix, Popcorn, burgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, fish sticks, crackers, chocolate, truffles, ice cream, mousse, and so on and so forth. I loved them too. They taste and smell so damn good, they make you feel so good… they are addicting! They are actually more addicting than drugs and while they are making you feel good in the foreground, they are killing you in the background. Fortunately, for every problem, there is always a solution. The question is: have you the power to accept the solution?

Here’s the thing! All the processed foods listed above have something in common: they contain (along with other synthetic preservatives, sweeteners, and taste enhancers) vegetable oils, sugars, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). All of these make them addicting so that they make your brain release opioids and dopamine. As a result, they make you feel good, satisfied temporarily, but make you unhappy afterward — as drugs — so you are needed to keep eating them to extend that feeling of pleasure.

You become a victim. You are aware they are not good for you, but you still buy them and eat them. You can’t stop! You feel like if you don’t eat them or finish the whole bag, life is worthless. You keep saying to yourself: “I deserve this?”, “Why should I stop?”, “I work hard all day and I deserve a reward. What’s the point of life if I can’t enjoy myself?”. This attitude and thinking are the ones of an addict. When I was smoking and I tried to quit for the first time, I had the same thinking. Alcoholics have the same thinking. You also notice withdrawals symptoms when you are not indulging.

Please, stick with me, okay? Nobody says you have to give up indulging from time to time. Nobody says you can reward yourself. What I am trying to tell you is, these substances will never make you feel like you had enough. So, one cookie, one Twinkie, several potato chips are never enough.

Now here’s the good part: what if I told you, there is homemade, healthy substitute for every junk food on the market? Yes, there is! You just need to open your favorite search engine and search; or if you are an experienced cook, you just need to use your imagination and play in the kitchen. The best place to find inspiration is Pinterest. Just make an experiment: go on https://pinterest.com and search for “homemade snickers”. You will be amazed! I was amazed!

You can substitute every junk food with a healthy version. I promise you, you will always stop before you finish the whole portion. Why? Because when it comes to healthy food cooked well, it doesn’t offer only intense flavors and good taste, but also nutrition. Just be careful to use natural fats (coconut oil, butter, avocado, nuts, seeds) instead of vegetable oils, natural sugars — as minimal as possible — (stevia, fresh or dried fruits, honey, brown sugar) instead of artificial sweeteners, and natural whole ingredients instead of synthetic processed ingredients.

  • french fries? buy some potatoes, peel them, wash them, slice them, heat some butter or coconut oil and fry them;
  • popcorn? buy some corn, heat some butter or coconut oil and pop it;
  • snickers? cacao, peanut butter, vanilla, milk, honey or melted sugar;
  • cookies? milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, stevia/brown sugar/banana/dried fruit, almond flour/coconut flour/chickpeas/oats/sweet potatoes;
  • pudding? avocado, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, cacao;
  • more? head over on Pinterest, Yummly, Allrecipes, Dr. Berg’s recipes, Mark Sisson’s recipes, Dr. Mercola’s recipes, Mark Hyman’s recipes, Dr. Axe’s recipes.

I get it, when you are away from home and pass through a fast-food or bakery and feel that “delicious” smell you feel like you can’t stop yourself from buying it. I understand you! I also love the smell, but I am conscious! I care about my body! I love my body! You don’t! That’s the truth! You’d rather be sick, die, or sacrifice a lifetime of happiness for 30 minutes of pleasure! That’s the truth! You need to control yourself! Be aware of the costs! And I told you: you can reward yourself with cookies, cakes, biscuits, you name it. Just make yourself!

Next time you feel the delightful scent on the street, have a little patience for crying out loud. Wait until you go home and make it yourself! Or better yet, prepare it in advance and carry it with you for the times you have cravings.

Originally posted on razvantomegea.com

If you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends and leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me. Take care and stay connected!

A Thousand Miracles in Pictures

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

Madelin munches on watermelon outside of her classroom. Thanks to your generosity, Mil Milagros distributed 262,000 pieces of fruit to children in eight partner schools in rural Guatemala this year.

Doña Aracely, a Mil Milagros’ grandmother leader, awaits the arrival of children to serve them their breakfast of eggs and black beans that she prepared. She and 20 other mothers take turns rising before dawn to prepare breakfast for the children in their community every school day.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

A Mil Milagros vendor delivers fruit to the storeroom at the Los Planes School. Mil Milagros sources all food we provide to our partner schools locally.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

Cristina, Mil Milagros Early Childhood Development (ECD) Coordinator, teaches mothers about keeping their children’s ears clean and healthy. More than 280 pregnant and parenting women were trained in health/hygiene, nutrition, child development and early literacy in MM’s ECD program this year.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

A mother awaits distribution of Incaparina at one of Mil Milagros’ Early Childhood Development workshops. Incaparina is a fortified beverage for pregnant women and young children that contains vital minerals and vitamins for healthy child development.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

Anastacia, a Mil Milagros mother leader, stands outside her home with her family in the community of Chutinamit. In 2010, the community was displaced by a landslide — and lived in tents for four years. Mil Milagros worked with ConstruCasa to help them rebuild their community.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

A Mil Milagros mother leader teaches children and mothers about the importance of healthy habits, like washing hands and brushing teeth. Up to 50% of the world’s malnutrition is caused by illness due to poor sanitation, so Mil Milagros focuses on training mother leaders to build these healthy habits in our partner communities.

A child turns on the faucet in the outdoor sink at his school in the village of Nuevo Progreso. This community, like many in rural Guatemala, has struggled with access to water. We are excited to work with Agua del Pueblo and Rotary International in 2018 to ensure water access to 20 families and the school.

Two young girls look on while their older siblings receive their sixth grade diplomas at the graduation ceremony in the Mil Milagros’ partner school of Xesampual. They are looking at their future! The regional average for children finishing sixth grade is 40%, and the rate is even lower among indigenous Maya girls. Mil Milagros’ nutrition, health/hygiene, and education programs help skyrocket attendance rates at school. Since 2010, 97% of the sixth graders in Mil Milagros’ partner schools have graduated!

Doña Claudia and Doña Felipa, Mil Milagros Community Coordinators, help run an Early Childhood Development meeting in the community of Xesampual. These women are fighting to end malnutrition in their communities and dream of a day when there will be no hunger in Guatemala.

A girl dries her hair after receiving a lice shampoo treatment. This year, Mil Milagros’ partner community of Nuevo Progreso achieved the milestone of being 100% lice-free!

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

Estéfani, Mil Milagros’ Nutrition Coordinator, greets a new baby at an Early Childhood Development workshop in Pahaj. Family is in Mil Milagros’ DNA; each baby, each mother, each family, and each community Mil Milagros works with is considered one of us.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

Three mothers and a baby stand outside their community of Chutinamit. Mil Milagros believes that training indigenous Maya women as change agents in their communities is the hope for a better future in Guatemala.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

Byron swings from the monkey bars in his community. Early childhood development, nutrition, health/hygiene, and education are not all that Mil Milagros does! We also form partnerships with other organizations to build houses and schools, dig wells, and build playgrounds.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

This year, Kindergarten and first grade teachers in Mil Milagros’ partner schools were trained in early literacy techniques by Board Member Juan Antonio. By the end of the year, 78% of first graders were reading and writing on grade level.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

A girl and her brother on the streets of Panajachel, Guatemala. Mil Milagros began 10 years ago after founder Margaret Blood had visited Guatemala a few times to volunteer at a school for child workers and wanted to do more to help the children. When she asked the school leaders how to help, they said, “Feed the children — they are starving.”

Samuel with his breakfast. This year, 1,327 children in rural Guatemala benefited from 225,000+ meals prepared by 829 Mil Milagros’ mother and grandmother volunteers. Meals at school increase attendance rates; meals at school are not provided by the Guatemalan government.

Photo credit: Rabia Khan

Magdalena and Berta bring “masa” to make tortillas for their families in Mil Milagros’ partner community of Chutinamit. Handmade corn tortillas are a staple of the Guatemalan diet — and many visitors to the region say they are the best tortillas they’ve ever eaten!

Children are served a meal of vegetables and hard-boiled eggs by Mil Milagros’ mother volunteers in Los Planes. Children bring their own plates, silverware, and tortillas from home — Mil Milagros and the mother and grandmother volunteers supply the rest!

Your generosity went a long way in 2017. Just how far?

There’s still time to join the mission in 2017. http://bit.ly/2k4zv09

Stop obsessing over calories and watch out for those ‘hidden sugars’

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight chances are that you’ve come across the popular diet trend of ‘calorie counting’. While the concept of calories in versus calories out is valid, focussing only on calories ignores the complexity of foods and how they are metabolised.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that calories don’t matter, it’s the quality of the calories that are important. Especially since calories are not created equally. For example an entire bowl of strawberries would be comparable to a handful of sugar coated candy if we were only looking at the calories!

The human body regulates energy balance in a highly complex manner and hence the way it absorbs calories is dependant on various factors. This is where fibre and the sugar content of foods come into play. High fibre foods take a longer time to digest and therefore cause your blood glucose to elevate slowly. Refined & processed foods on the other hand are easily digested and cause huge spikes in your blood sugar. The spike in both blood sugar results in increased energy, however this rise in energy is brief and followed by a dramatic drop in blood sugar (referred to as a crash). The constant fluctuation in blood glucose leads to a ‘energy-draining cycle’ that can result in feeling tired all the time.

Chronic elevations in blood glucose affect your insulin response which triggers your liver to store more energy in the form of fat. Some of this fat is stored around your vital organs leading to a build up of visceral fat (commonly called belly fat). Another consequence of elevated insulin levels is an inhibition of fat breakdown in adipose tissue. Insulin has what you call a ‘fat-sparing effect’ on the body, where it drives more cells to oxidise carbohydrates instead of fat. Which means that the more sugar we consume the less fat we burn.

Now this is where it gets tricky, because there is an abundance of sugar (both natural & artificial) in the foods we eat. So even if we’re not intentionally eating sugar we need to start looking out for these hidden sugars.

Image from NDTV food

The top offenders include biscuits, muesli, fruit juices, jams & spreads, chocolate drinks, cereals, granola, carbonated beverages and flavoured yogurts. Be particularly weary of fat-free foods as they often have added sugar to replace the fat. Some savoury products like ketchup, instant soup, pasta sauce, instant noodles are also loaded with sugar.

It’s important to mention that added sugar finds it’s way in various forms such as honey, jaggery, molasses, date syrup, inverted sugar syrup, high fructose corn syrup, agave etc. The bottom line is that even if a product contains a less refined form of sugar it still adds up and effects your blood glucose & insulin.


Food manufacturers are not currently required to separate added sugar from naturally occurring sugars on the nutrition label, however if you look at the carbohydrate breakdown you can see the total sugar content of the product.

Image from BBC iWonder

The image on the left shows you the sugar in each beverage beginning with a milkshake on the left, followed by cola, an energy drink, flavoured water and fruit juice. As you can see the sugar content of these products can be incredibly deceptive.

As a rule of thumb, products with more than 15gm of sugar per 100gm is considered a high sugar food, whereas if it has 5gm or less of sugar per 100gm it is considered to have a low sugar content.

The first step would be to cut back on the obviously sugary products, and the next would be to keep an eye on refined carbohydrates as they are a big source of simple sugars that have a similar effect on blood glucose. Refined carbs like refined flour (maida) and white rice are nutritionally imbalanced, because they have been stripped of all fibre, bran and a large percentage of nutrients. Unfortunately refined flour seems to be the grain of choice, the key is to identify them on nutrition labels and avoid them accordingly.

Completely cutting sugar from our diets can be difficult, but what we can do is to reduce intake and opt for natural alternatives like the kind found in fruit. Choose good quality foods that are minimally processed, contain whole-grains and no added sugar!!

What Are the Nutrition Facts for Agave Nectar?

You may have seen Agave Syrup on the grocery store shelves. Agave syrup is derived from the Blue Agave plant, and did you know it is sweeter than cane sugar? Can you use Agave nectar as an alternative to sugar? What are the nutrition facts for agave nectar? Please read below for answers to these questions:

What is Agave nectar?

Agave nectar comes from dry regions of South America and the highest quality is derived from the Blue Webber Tequilana plant, the only raw material in Nectave agave syrup. Agave syrup possesses a benefit of having a lower glycemic index as compared to honey, maple syrup and cane sugar. Glycemic index is a measure of how fast a food causes our blood sugar level increases.

From the above table of Glycemic Index of agave syrup is less, which means agave syrup affects your blood sugar level less than honey, maple syrup and cane sugar.

Nutrition Facts on Agave Nectar

Here is the current Nectave Agave Syrup Nutritional information, based on a 21g serving (single serving) of agave syrup. The table below demonstrates daily values considered on the basis of the 2000 calorie diet.

Calories and how to burn it?

Agave nectar is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar; hence one tablespoon is enough to make your food sweeter. Now, let’s look calculation on how many calories you will get from one tablespoon of agave nectar. Agave has 60 calories per tablespoon. One can burn those calorie though walking, cycling, dancing, etc.

One can check in https://caloriesburnedhq.com to calculate as per their weight.


Agave nectar is a beneficial sweetener due to being diabetic friendly through having a low glycemic index. Additionally, less product is needed to achieve the same sweetness levels as cane sugar, which can help to save on calorie consumption.

Original Source: https://www.nectave.com/what-are-the-nutrition-facts-for-agave-nectar/

I Went Vegan for One Month. Here is what Happened …

I grew up in Idaho. The land of potatoes and you guessed it … meat!

Vegetarian and Veganism were a foreign language to me and I didn’t understand why anyone would ever want to not eat meat. I know the next part is going to sound cliché because I use the buzzwords “Yoga and Vegan” in the same sentence but stay with me…

I found yoga 17 years ago. Back when there weren’t “Insta-Famous Yogis”, pretty handstands on exotic beaches pictures or 539 different yoga pant companies vying for your attention and money. I started practicing in a gym before Yoga Studios were even popular. I decided ten years ago that I loved Yoga so much it was my calling in life. I quit my high paying corporate finance job, packed a bag and went to live in an Ashram in Hawaii for a month to gain my 200-Hour Yoga and Meditation Teaching Certification. It was there I learned about vegetarianism and veganism and for the past decade I have teetered back and forth with mainly a vegetarian diet.

A little over a month ago, I was looking for a boost. A recharge in my body. A shift in lifestyle. I follow many vegans on social media such as Rich Roll, Kerri at BeachYogaGirl and Michelle at BananaBlondie. I followed them initially because they are athletes and yogis and the vegan stuff was an afterthought. They made veganism seem SO easy though! And all three are vocal advocates for the lifestyle. I researched for about a week, watched a million and three youtube videos on “Veganism for Dummies” and then decided to just go for it. My diet was pretty clean but definitely involved steaks and cheese pizza. On November 7th I woke up and started the journey.

I am an athlete and sometimes am training for hours a day. I run, lift weights, cycle, swim, practice yoga and most recently took up pole dance and aerial silks classes. I knew I needed to fuel my body so my only intention for the month was to go meal by meal, day by day and eat my heart out. Not paying attention to portion sizes, just eating vegan and eating until I was full.

These were the main things I noticed most during this time.

1. My energy level skyrocketed within days. I was finding myself drinking less and less coffee and woke up feeling refreshed. I didn’t feel an afternoon crash any longer. I could keep up with my two young boys and I just felt AWAKE! It was the most liberating feeling!

2. My recovery time from workouts was quicker. I normally could feel sore for a few days after a workout but I would find myself dancing for 3 hours and not feel any soreness the next day. I was fueling my muscles in a different way and I felt fresh and prepared for my next day of training versus sore and sluggish. Inflammation went down and I felt more mobile and bendy in my yoga practice.

3. I was getting stronger. My muscles were actually growing. Without meat! I decided at the start I wasn’t going to count macros or calories because that just doesn’t work with my lifestyle and could make me neurotic. My body was getting enough protein and fuel to build strength and muscle eating mostly plants. I was able to do yoga poses and go up in strength considerably each week while weight lifting.

4. It wasn’t that hard. With a tiny bit of planning and research, you can find countless meals to prepare in under 10 minutes. That is my timeframe for cooking these days because I am a busy working single mom. I honestly don’t have time for anything longer than that most days. I kept a rotating meal “plan” going and would try new things when I had a bit more time on the weekends or non soccer-mom nights. Keeping it simple, finding foods I loved and repeating meals was a lifesaver for me.

5. I gave up worrying about what anyone else thinks or says. You may get some backlash, some eye rolls, ect. when you tell someone you are going vegan. Who cares? I look at it this way. I am alone eating probably 95% of the time. (Exception being my kids who don’t care what or how I eat, just as long as they are eating!) That leaves 5% of the time I am eating with friends. Maybe your scale is a bit more than mine but if you really think about it, the point is how much of your time is eating alone versus with other people?

Now for me, I looked and thought, “Why am I willing to compromise a meal or some food for friends who when we part ways, don’t give a flying fuck what I am eating the other 95% of the time?” There may be some making fun or smirking when you ask for vegan options … (You kind of have to get over this to be brutally honest. Don’t take life so seriously you can’t laugh at yourself. And on the other hand, stick up for yourself if it gets out of control. Do no harm but take no shit.) … but I decided that if I was going to commit to this, I was not going to care about what someone else thinks who sees me for a meal once a week or month at most. Make sense? You honestly don’t owe anyone a damn fucking thing when it comes to what you eat. And you don’t need to change what you eat to accommodate for someone who feels uncomfortable when five seconds after you part ways, they won’t think about what you eat again until next time you see them. Make choices for you and stand by them. People can deal with it. Respect them and demand respect back. The ones who truly love and support you aren’t going to care what you do and don’t eat in the end.

I even went on a date during this month and ordered all vegan sushi with a few sides. Guess what, the guy didn’t care one bit. It actually was a good conversation starter. If you start dating someone and early on they are going to critique or judge what you eat, please for the love of everything holy … see that as a big red flag and move on! But that could be an entirely other article we will save for another day.

All in all, going vegan from a meat, egg and cheese diet wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought. I feel better, I am a better athlete and I kind of like this way of life. For now I am going to stick with it and see where it brings me. I don’t want to put pressure on myself to do anything absolute for life, but for now I continue vegan and I will let it trickle down into my lifestyle with toiletries, makeup and clothing. I’m not addressing anything ethical here, but turns out, I’m pretty passionate about the research on veganism as well.

There is no rule book to how to go vegan or vegetarian. There is SO much stigma and fighting between being plant-based and vegan and vegetarian and who is actually eating what under what “title”. Everyone is fighting over nothing. Forget them ALL. Do YOU. Do it YOUR way. (If you want to. If not just go on doing what you are doing.) Take it slow. Jump in head first. Start with one day a week going vegan and work up to seven or maybe you stay at only five days forever. Find what works to make you and your body feel most energized and alive! You are worth that feeling.

Is Coffee Poison? | Cliff Harvey on Patreon

TL: DR — NO!

Having said that…I don’t want to know if it is!

BUT — lately, I’ve seen popping up (again), articles with titles like “Coffee is Poison!” and rather than just saying “Um. No. It’s not.”

(Well, technically it can be…but y’know dose, frequency, exposure etc.)

I figured I’d look at what the actual science says about it.

Coffee might be protective against diabetes.

Systematic reviews suggest a dose-dependent correlation between coffee intake and reduced rates of diabetes with the greatest effects seen in those consuming the highest amounts of coffee (greater than six cups per day). (1–3) For every additional cup consumed, there is an approximately 7% reduction in diabetes risk and benefits are also seen from tea and decaffeinated coffee. (4)

Be more cautious if you have a familial history of heart disease or other risk factors.

Coffee does increase blood pressure (BP) acutely (although these studies use high amounts in the range of 200–300 mg, approximately 2–3 cups of coffee) and this has led clinicians to urge caution with coffee intake due to a perceived risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But there appears to be no correlation between long-term, habitual use of coffee with cardiovascular disease or chronic high blood pressure. (5, 6) Low intakes may even be more likely to increase blood pressure with 1–3 cups demonstrating an effect on BP and 3–5 cups showing no long-term effect. (7) Likewise, low intakes have been demonstrated to increase CVD risk slightly (less than three cups per day) with 3–5 cups per day associated with reduced CVD.(8)

Coffee is likely to be beneficial for liver disease

In chronic liver disease, patients who consume coffee have a decreased risk of progression to cirrhosis, a lowered mortality rate, and in chronic hepatitis C patient coffee was associated with improved responses to antiviral therapy. Moreover, coffee consumption is inversely related to the severity of steatohepatitis (fatty liver) in those with pre-existing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is therefore recommended that those with liver disease should be encouraged to drink coffee daily. (9) Gallstone risk is also reduced with higher coffee intakes, with the highest consumption (around six cups or more) associated with the lowest risk. (10)

Women may have an increased risk of bone fracture with higher coffee intakes.

Fracture risk rises in a dose-dependent manner in women but not with men. There is little difference in fracture risk around two coffees per day. (11)

Coffee is no longer listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. BUT if you drink it too hot, it can increase risk of mouth and throat cancers

There does not appear to be any other strong link between coffee consumption and gastric cancer, (12) breast cancer, (13) or colorectal cancer, although there may be a small positive effect seen in women coffee drinkers. (14) There may also be a minor increase in urinary tract cancer associated with coffee drinking, (15) and cancer of the larynx also rises in a dose-dependent manner. (16)

Coffee — a healthy mood-enhancer.

Coffee may also offer some mild protective effect against cognitive decline and dementia, (17) and depression. (18)

What does it all mean?!

A systematic review of seventeen studies including over one million participants and 131,212 death events was conducted by Yimin Zhao and colleagues in May 2015. The review and meta-analysis determined a ‘U-shaped dose-response relationship’ between coffee intake and all-cause mortality. Mortality was reduced at all levels of coffee intake with the greatest effects seen at 3–5 cups. (19)

Based on the evidence, coffee is safe (for most people) and offers significant benefits to health.

The reason for the benefits is likely to be multifactorial and include the effects of caffeine itself and the range of antioxidant chemicals found in coffee.

The optimal health intake appears to be around 3–5 cups of coffee per day.


If you’re overly stressed out, not sleeping well, or you experience negative effects from caffeine; either reduce your dose, switch to decaf or tea (which still offer most of the benefits) or get rid of the coffee altogether.

Remember that what works for most, does not always work for you.


1. van Dam RM, Hu FB. Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: A systematic review. JAMA. 2005;294(1):97–104.

2. Muley A, Muley P, Shah M. Coffee to Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes? : A Systematic Review. Current Diabetes Reviews. 2012;8(3):162–8.

3. Ding M, Bhupathiraju SN, Chen M, van Dam RM, Hu FB. Caffeinated and Decaffeinated Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and a Dose-Response Meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2014;37(2):569–86.

4. Huxley R, Lee C, Barzi F, et al. Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea consumption in relation to incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009;169(22):2053–63.

5. Mesas AE, Leon-Muñoz LM, Rodriguez-Artalejo F, Lopez-Garcia E. The effect of coffee on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in hypertensive individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011.

6. Steffen M, Kuhle C, Hensrud D, Erwin PJ, Murad MH. The effect of coffee consumption on blood pressure and the development of hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Hypertension. 2012;30(12):2245–54.

7. Zhang Z, Hu G, Caballero B, Appel L, Chen L. Habitual coffee consumption and risk of hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011;93(6):1212–9.

8. Ding M, Bhupathiraju SN, Satija A, van Dam RM, Hu FB. Long-Term Coffee Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and a Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Circulation. 2013.

9. Saab S, Mallam D, Cox GA, Tong MJ. Impact of coffee on liver diseases: a systematic review. Liver International. 2014;34(4):495–504.

10. Zhang YP, Li WQ, Sun YL, Zhu RT, Wang WJ. Systematic review with meta-analysis: coffee consumption and the risk of gallstone disease. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2015;42(6):637–48.

11. Lee DR, Lee J, Rota M, Lee J, Ahn HS, Park SM, et al. Coffee consumption and risk of fractures: A systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis. Bone. 2014;63:20–8.

12. Botelho F, Lunet N, Barros H. Coffee and gastric cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. Cadernos de Saúde Pública. 2006;22:889–900.

13. Pillay L. A Systematic Review: Examining the Relationship Between Coffee Consumption and Breast Cancer: Georgia State; 2013.

14. Je Y, Liu W, Giovannucci E. Coffee consumption and risk of colorectal cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. International Journal of Cancer. 2009;124(7):1662–8.

15. Zeegers MP, Tan FE, Goldbohm RA, van den Brandt PA. Are coffee and tea consumption associated with urinary tract cancer risk? A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2001;30(2):353–62.

16. Chen J, Long S. Tea and Coffee Consumption and Risk of Laryngeal Cancer: A Systematic Review Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(12):e112006.

17. Panza F, Solfrizzi V, Barulli MR, Bonfiglio C, Guerra V, Osella A, et al. Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and prevention of late-life cognitive decline and dementia: A systematic review. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015;19(3):313–28.

18. Grosso G, Micek A, Pajak A, Castellano S, Galvano F. Coffee, tea, caffeine and risk of depression: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2015:n/a-n/a.

19. Zhao Y, Wu K, Zheng J, Zuo R, Li D. Association of coffee drinking with all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Nutrition. 2015;18(07):1282–91.

Keto Granola

Missing that morning crunch? Here’s a delicious and nutritious substitute for regular granola — you wont look back. Coconutty, crunchy and surprisingly ‘dessert-like’ —the secret is adding enough salt to bring out the sweetness. This recipe is a guide, so play around with it —add you favourite nuts and seeds, or what you have in the store cupboard. You could also add some cacao nibs or cacao for an extra lush, chocolatey hit. Just one thing, with all those sneaky seeds, you’ll need to double check your gnashers before having any serious conversations.

Nutrition —per 30g serving

Fat : 17.6g
Protein : 4.2g 
Net Carbohydrate : 1.6g 
Calories :186kcal

makes 600g


100g coconut flakes
70g sunflower seeds
70g pumpkin
70g pecans
70g flaxseed
50g flaked almonds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of salt *this is key, so don’t be afraid to add too much
2 tsp cinnamon
100g coconut oil
1 orange, zest finely grated
thumb size piece of ginger, finely grated
egg white


  • Preheat the oven to 150–160°C and line a flat baking tray with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients
  • In a pan, over a a gentle heat, melt the coconut oil with the orange zest and ginger. Once the coconut oil has melted, allow to cool and infuse.
  • Once cool enough (don’t want it to scramble the egg white), add the coconut and egg white to the dry mixture, and stir. Taste for seasoning—it may need more salt or cinnamon.
  • Add the mixture to the baking tray in a even layer and bake for 25–30 minutes, until nicely golden and toasted. Move the mixture around every ten minutes or so, to make sure it cooks evenly.
  • Once cooked, allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Serve with some creamy greek yoghurt, or a splash of almond milk.

Bon App!

Nutrition : l’espoir des enfants en zone de conflit au Mali

Depuis la crise qui a éclaté au Mali en 2012, les enfants dans les zones les plus affectées sont particulièrement touchés par l’insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle. A Tombouctou et à Gao, cinq ans après le début de la crise, la malnutrition infantile atteint des niveaux alarmants.

L’UNICEF fournit des traitements d’urgence permettant de sauver la vie des enfants souffrant de malnutrition. Mais la prévention et la prise en charge de la malnutrition nécessitent plus que des aliments nutritifs seuls. Encourager les parents à adopter de bonnes pratiques alimentaires afin de prévenir de futures crises nutritionnelles, l’amélioration de l’accès à l’eau potable, la promotion de l’hygiène, la prévention et le traitement des maladies sont tous aussi importants.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

À Tombouctou, plus de 15% des enfants souffrent de malnutrition aiguë, un taux considéré comme « critique » selon l’OMS. Les enfants atteints de la forme la plus sévère de malnutrition aigüe ont un retard musculaire grave, un poids très faible pour leur taille, et sont neuf fois plus à risque de décès. En 2018, l’UNICEF estime que 165.000 enfants souffriront de malnutrition sévère aigüe au Mali.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

Dans le centre de santé communautaire de Bellafarendi, un quartier populaire de Tombouctou, Azaharatou Dicko, amène sa fille Farimata, 13 mois, pour une consultation hebdomadaire pendant laquelle Farimata sera mesurée et pesée.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

Azaharatou s’est sentie désorientée et désespérée lorsqu’elle a vu sa fille vomir et souffrir de diarrhée. En seulement deux jours, son bébé avait perdu beaucoup de poids. Après avoir demandé conseil au relais communautaire de son quartier, elle s’est rendue au centre de santé de Bellafarendi, où sa fille a été diagnostiquée comme souffrant de malnutrition aigüe sévère.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

Arrivée à temps au centre de santé, la petite Farimata est aujourd’hui hors de danger. Tout le monde n’a pas cette chance dans le contexte de crise sécuritaire. « J’ai perdu mon fils, l’ainé de Farimata. Il est mort de malnutrition, » explique tristement Azaharatou. « Mon mari n’avait plus d’emploi. On ne parvenait même pas à avoir trois repas par jour. On ne mangeait que du riz, quand nous en avions. C’était très dur. »

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

« Aujourd’hui je suis une maman heureuse et comblée car la santé de ma fille s’est nettement améliorée » poursuit Azaharatou. Grâce à un traitement avec des aliments thérapeutiques prêts à l’emploi (ATPE), la petite Farimata a gagné en poids et sera bientôt totalement rétablie.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

Les aliments thérapeutiques à base de pâte d’arachide enrichie, dont l’UNICEF est le fournisseur principal au Mali, contiennent tous les nutriments requis pour la récupération d’un enfant atteint de malnutrition aigüe. Adaptés aux environnements sécuritaires les plus difficiles, ces aliments ne nécessitent pas d’eau pour la préparation ou la réfrigération, sont d’une longue durée de conservation et peuvent être utilisés à domicile.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

Au-delà de l’urgence, il est essentiel d’éviter de futures crises nutritionnelles en renforçant la résilience des communautés. Lorsqu’Azaharatou écoute attentivement, avec les autres mères, les conseils de Rahanatou au centre de santé, elle en apprend plus sur les bonnes pratiques de nutrition, de santé et d’hygiène. Mieux informée et sensibilisée, elle pourra éviter la malnutrition en adoptant de nouvelles habitudes, telles que l’allaitement maternel exclusif jusqu’à 6 mois.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

« On m’a expliqué qu’il fallait se laver les mains avec de l’eau et du savon avant l’allaitement, avant de donner à manger à mon enfant et après être allée aux toilettes, » dit Azaharatou qui comprend aujourd’hui l’importance de l’hygiène pour prévenir la malnutrition.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

Les séances de sensibilisation ont aussi permis à Azaharatou de comprendre l’importance des 1 000 premiers jours de vie de l’enfant — de la grossesse au deuxième anniversaire. Investir dans ce que l’on appelle « la fenêtre d’opportunité » peut changer une vie entière.

© UNICEF Mali/2017/Dicko

Les mères continuent de venir de manière hebdomadaire au centre de santé pour surveiller le poids de leurs enfants, éviter les rechutes et participer aux séances de sensibilisation. Aujourd’hui, Azaharatou est déterminée à « assurer une bonne nutrition à mes enfants. »