Archive for July, 2011

Coconut Oil — A Healthy Saturated Fat?

We’ve recently been BOMBARDED with questions about coconut oil … it is HOT and getting a ton of attention.  So, being that it’s my birthday, it was time to take a day off of blogging … and repost an earlier one that will hopefully answer many of the questions that we’re getting.


Last week we spent some time in California.

A little work in the Santa Cruz area and then ALL play in Sonoma.  Some wine tastings, olive oil tastings, beautiful weather and great for a little R & R.

While we were in Santa Cruz, I was giving a talk on omega-3 fats and healthy fats in general.  We were at the Nordic Naturals HQ (the #1 omega-3 fish oil company) and at the end of the presentation, I was asked about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Last week we talkedcoconut oil health benefits about the potential health benefits of coconut water.  Now, we’re moving on to coconut oil.

Coconut oil has traditionally gotten a very bad wrap because it is mostly saturated fat.  And it’s been shown through research that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease.  Put those two sentences together … and in the most simplistic terms, it means too much coconut oil can cause heart disease.

But then some research started to emerge, looking more closely at the type of saturated fat that is in coconut oil (primarily lauric acid, for other nerds like us).  And proponents started to point at the longevity of some populations in tropical areas who have been eating coconut oil for centuries as evidence that it should be part of the diet.  Others, not surprisingly, also started to suggest coconut oil has some magical "cure all" health properties … of course there’s always two sides to every story. 

We’ll let the research do the talking instead of what you’ll find with a simple google search.

We’ll save you the complicated biochemistry, but just know that the different types of saturated fats seem to make a difference in terms of their health properties.  This hasn’t given governing bodies the "go ahead" however to start recommending coconut oil.

Many still suggest it’s saturated, so it’s therefore "bad."  

From our point of view and scouring over the research, though, we like coconut oil.  But here’s the most important point of this entire email …

we like it as a replacement for less healthy, processed saturated and trans fats.  We’re not suggesting you buy tubs of coconut oil and eat it by the spoonful.  It’s not about "adding" coconut oil to a junky diet.  It’s about replacing.  That’s the key.

And when we’re talking coconut oil, it’s the unprocessed, extra virgin coconut oil we’d suggest.  Processed or partially hydrogenated coconut oil is just as bad for you as other processed fats (or any sugar, for that matter, but today we’re focusing solely on fat).

So the general recommendations still stand ring true — keep saturated fat to under 10% of your overall fat calories.  But then within that recommendation, focus on the saturated fats that aren’t processed, which is exactly where unprocessed, extra virgin coconut oil falls into play. 

Yes, it can all be very confusing.

Here are 3 take away points from ‘Coconut Oil — A Healthy Saturated Fat.’

  1. Stick to unprocessed, extra virgin coconut oil.
  2. REPLACE less healthy processed and trans fats with unprocessed, extra virgin coconut oil.
  3. Coconut oil is not a magical cure all like some suggest.  It’s a healthier saturated fat.  That’s it.

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How Your Thoughts Can Help You Lose Weight

We often say that weight loss and weight loss maintenance isn’t about food.  It’s not even about exercise. 

It’s about YOUR MIND.

Have I lost my mind?

I’m not trying to talk some voodoo psychic messaging on you … it’s just that your mind is more powerful than anything else when it comes to successful weight management.

In other words, you need a mindset shift.

Think about it … what aspects of our lives are controlled by our mind?

The answer: EVERYTHING! If you tell yourself you will always “struggle” with weight loss, you will. You’re right. If you believe you are “too busy” to exercise and things aren’t going to change. You won’t make the time – you WILL be too busy.

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Zig Ziglar

How can we make that adjustment – what we call “the mindset shift?”

We need this to be successful on all levels: personal, financial, physical, mental, etc.

In our boot camps, we reframe the words “I hope,” “I can’t,” “I wish I could.” There is nothing positive about these statements.

Think about your own life. A UCLA study showed that kids heard the word “no” over FOUR HUNDRED times each day.

Think that influences their thoughts? Of course.

For instance, when things go wrong, instead of criticizing yourself, work on focusing on the positive, your strengths, and talents.

Try reframing your thoughts: Instead of: “I can’t be successful at weight loss, I have tried so many times in the past—I just wish I looked like my friends.” Try: “I am in complete control of my body and fueling it with the most nutritious foods that will allow me to feel even better and lose fat.” Imagine thinking THAT each morning vs. the first statement!  We simply need a mindset shift.

Our minds play funny games and it’s often because of the continual negative messages we hear and the blame we put on others. But in reality, no one can “fix” you, but you.

Here’s another way to think about it.  In the winter, if it’s 55 degrees, we’re all running around in shorts celebrating the "heat wave."  In the summer, that same 55 degrees is like a glacier is making its way through your back yard

See?  Mindset Shift.  That’s all it takes for permanent success!

Our mind plays tricks on us. But just like you are in control of the foods you put into your body, to fuel your muscles, cells, etc, think of the messages you read and hear as fuel for your brain. Your brain needs the right fuel too. Feed it junk, and you’ll have junky thoughts. This is one of the best books out there for helping with that mindset shift.

WHERE You Eat Can Cause Weight Gain!

It’s not just what we eat that matters.

It’s not just how much we eat that matters.

But even WHERE we eat matters! 

A recent report came out showing that around 43% of total calories are from eating out!  That’s nearly half of all our calories being eaten outside of the home.

Sad.  Scary.  And it’s a quick fire way to gain some serious weight!

We first wrote about the report that came out last year showing restaurant food labels are "wrong" in the sense that the calorie values aren’t quite correct … the labels don’t meet the actual values (sounds almost like Dietary Supplements!).  

Now, let’s make it VERY clear that we definitely do not believe restaurants are the "cause" of the obesity epidemic, even if some of their more popular meals are packed with more calories than an adult should eat in an entire day (Cheesecake Factory, anyone?). 

It all boils down to personal responsibility, regardless of the outrageous calorie, fat, sugar and sodium counts at popular sit downs.  Eating out at restaurants should be kept to a minimum anyhow — but of course there will be times when it’s inevitable.

That being said, it’s estimated that on average, Americans get around 43% of total calories from restaurants!  Crazy.

Anyhow, recently many restaurants started sharing their nutrition information…

…on their websites, at the restaurant itself, and sometimes even on the menu.

In fact, a recent law went into effect in New York City that all chain restaurants must include the nutrition info front and center for customers to see.  I know I’ve done a double take when traveling to NY — some of those numbers can really shock you!

But what if they were ALL WRONG?  Can we trust them?

What if the companies we were putting our trust in to give us at least a little help were lying?

On average, restaurant foods contained 18% more calories than stated, with some providing over twice as many calories than reported!


  1. Eat out less often.  We know those who eat out more often weigh more.  Even when you make the better choices on the menu, it’s still not the same as eating at home! 
  2. Make Eating out a special event.  Go to more expensive restaurants less frequently vs. less expensive restaurants more frequently.  Even if Applebees, Chilis, or similar restaurants are less expensive, when visiting places like this almost half the days of the month (according to the previously mentioned study)…you’ll be spending more anyhow!

Stick to those few nutrition basics and others belly fat fighting strategies we’ve discussed — you’ll be guaranteed to reach your physical goals!

For more information on permanently losing belly fat, check out how your thoughts can help you lose weight .

100 Calorie Snack “Packs” We LOVE!

Portions are out of hand.

Restaurants.  At home.  Supersized fast food.  Soft drinks.  Everywhere.  Portions are OUT OF HAND!

I was out to eat the other night at a business meeting and the restaurant offered a 14 oz steak … that’s just shy of 1 pound of meat.  And that was only the main course, so doesn’t include all the sides.

Somehow, somewhere…the message that eating smaller portions was a good thing was spread. 

But THAT took things to a whole new level.  Suddenly all these companies jumped on board and offered smaller servings.

The problem?

100 calories of Chips Ahoy, Doritos, or Oreos is merely just less junk. 

The wires got crossed. 

Smaller portions is great.  Smaller portions of junk are not. 

And here’s the other problem we heard over and over again.  Many people would often eat many more than just 1 bag of the 100 calorie junk because, well, it’s like continuing to cut small slivers of cake until you ultimately eat an entire piece.  It’s a mind game.  The smaller portions in the 100 calorie bags just weren’t enough and they’re so few calorie, why not eat more!

These things spread like wild fire, particularly with women, who is the target market.  Everyone was coming out with their own version of 100 calorie snack packs.  We tried to fight it by continuing to suggest the greatest 100 snack "pack" known to man — a piece of fruit (which is actually less than 100 calories).

We were fighting an uphill battle, though.  Recommending a piece of fruit wasn’t "sexy" enough.  It wasn’t in fancy packaging.  Didn’t have creative marketing blurbs to go along with it.

But now we can finally join forces with the 100 calorie "snack packers" and recommend something GREAT.

In fact, there are two options we’ve found that fit the bill if you’re looking for a quick, 100 calorie snack that is quick, easy, and can help you stick to your goals.

Here’s what interesting, though, one is actually marketed to kids.  It’s NOT marketed as a 100 calorie snack pack at all … it’s a sneaky, under the radar secret we’re sharing with you.

Without further ado, we’d like to introduce "Exhibit A" — Chobani Champions.

chobani champions yogurt

It’s their kids line.  Each high protein Greek yogurt is just 100 calories with 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of sugar (kind of like milk).  Loads of calcium and they’re quick and easy.  NOW, we’ll be the first to admit our personal favorite is the Plain Greek yogurt where you mix your own fresh fruit in there; however, we also know time is tight for everyone and this is even quicker and easier to grab and go. 





Exhibit B

Blue Diamond 100 Calorie Nut Snack Packs

We’ve preached and preached how nuts are one of the greatest foods and snacks.  Ever!  They’re loaded with healthy fat, pack in a little protein and fiber and are perfect for on the go moms and dads.  The problem?  They’re way too easy to overeat.  So if you’re sitting on the couch with a 5 lb canister of almonds thinking you’re doing something great, think again.  But now, fortunately, Blue Diamond came out with a solution … 100 calorie packs of healthy nuts. 

lose weight eating raw nuts

Now 100 calorie snack packs don’t have to be so bad after all.  Give these 2 a whirl and let us know what you think!!

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*Magical* Gray Sea Salt?

I was reading something online the other day … that was so out there and crazy, I HAD to keep reading.  Basically it was telling the reader that Americans don’t eat too much salt…they eat too much REFINED salt.  And actually the ONLY way to salt your food for true health benefits was to use Gray Sea Salt, that is LOADED with beneficial minerals that are otherwise stripped from traditional table salt.

In the authors defense, we completely agree that table salt is NOT good for you.  But that’s not to say replacing it with overpriced gray sea salt is much better.  Gourmet salts actually seem to be all the rage lately … Himalayan Sea Salt, Purified Red Sea Salt, Organic bla bla bla.


All of it.salt is killing us

Does unrefined Himalayan sea salt from the depths of the Mediterranean have some more minerals than table salt? 

Yes, BUT…

That’s like saying orange juice is SO much better soda because it has a ton more vitamin C.  Kind of a moot point since soda has no vitamin C.

Make sense?  So since table salt has nothing really of benefit (unless you’re an athlete and needs to replace lost sodium), to praise the benefits of Gray sea salt (or any of the other "gourmet" salts) is not a fair comparison.  I like that these are less refined, yes.  But at the end of the day, none are good for you. 

In fact, excess sodium intake causes over 100,000 deaths each year!

And since it’s a dietary factor that means it’s 100% preventable.

Seriously, but we STILL can’t stop eating too much of it?!

A study published in April 2009 looked at preventable causes of death in the US…

…and high salt intake accounted for more preventable deaths than any other dietary factor (approximately 102,000).  Coming in a close second and third were low omega-3 fat intake and high trans fat intakes, respectively.

But let’s stick to salt for a bit.  

Salt (or sodium) lurks in foods you’d never even guess (cookies, cakes, crackers, breadcrumbs, etc). 

The America Heart Association recommendation is to eat under 2400 mg per day…

…Americans eat more than double that.

The easiest way to reduce salt intake is to eat less processed foods.  Packaged foods, canned foods, fast food…are loaded with sodium.

Canned soups, for example, can have more than half a days salt in just 1 serving.

Have that as a side to a sandwich of deli meats and you’ve just hit your days intake in one sitting.  3 oz of ham, for example, has about 1000 mg alone!

So fresh foods win again.  Surprise, surprise.

Here’s another trick – replace the salt in your salt shaker at home with kosher salt (or take it off the table completely).  Because kosher salt is bigger, it won’t come out as quickly from your salt shaker, so you’ll use less.

I mean, you don’t have to do any of this…only if you want to live longer.  

It’s really just the simple changes that make the biggest difference.

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