Coach GP
Amina Aliyu

Does eating more food help you lose weight? The answer is shocking!

When you think of losing weight, your first thought isn’t to eat more, right? Right.

One’s logic would usually step in here and say that eating more would lead to weight gain and not weight loss. But, eating more can actually help you lose weight if you eat more of the right foods!

There have been quite a few studies conducted over the last 30 years that have proven that adding foods such as fruits and vegetables to your diet (without eliminating any of your other food - although eliminating sugars would be smart, too) actually help you lose weight.

Researchers have found that there is a secret element in certain foods, like fruits and vegetables, that make them more likely to help you lose weight even if they’re in addition to your “regular” diet. A weight reducing secret element of these food groups is called “low energy density”.

This is a relatively newer term on the health scene today, but researchers have been studying low energy density foods for a few years, and what they have found is quite interesting.

If you’re like the rest of the world not surrounded by research and science all day long, you might be asking yourself what in the world low energy density even means. Great question, and In Shaa Allah, I have the answer for you.

Energy density is a more succinct way to say calories per unit weight. So let’s say you have a food like bacon or meat. Bacon is considered to be a high energy density food because it is high in calories but is a small package - this would not be a healthy choice to add more of to your diet, amongst other reasons of course.

However, if you had fruits and vegetables added to your diet, you would be adding lower energy density foods to your diet which is what you want - they have fewer calories with larger quantities.

In essence, you want to find a low energy dense food in order to help you lose weight if you’re adding it to your diet. Ideally, one would eat more fruits and vegetables as replacements for sugar or cholesterol, but should you find yourself unable to tear away from those high-sugar foods, adding low energy dense foods can help you lose some of the weight the higher sugar foods are adding.

But be careful! There are 2 exceptions to this low energy dense food scenario - soda and nuts. They both are quite opposite of each other, but they could potentially cause issues for someone who doesn’t know how to tell the difference with these two special cases.

Soda is a low energy dense “food” that appears healthier than it really is - you have to take into account the high levels of sugar, calories, etc… as well as the weight to calorie ratio.

On the flip side, nuts are high energy dense food that appears to be less healthy than it really is. Because nuts are generally smaller in size, they may not appear to show the ratio that one is looking for in terms of low energy dense foods. Don’t be fooled - nuts are healthy snacks to munch on throughout the day!

When you decide to add fruits and vegetables to your current diet, you are adding a food that has less calories per pound which reduces the caloric intake (thus enabling  weight loss to take place despite the addition of food).  

So, find a food that is low in energy density and you will find an addition to your diet that is sure to help you lose weight (although it might not be as much as you were hoping for, but any little amount is great)! So reduce your sugar, reduce your calories, and up your low energy dense foods to help you achieve your healthy weight goals.

Amina Aliyu

Vegetarians and Nutrients: Do they go hand-in-hand?

The inevitable thoughts are creeping in - the holidays are right around the corner, and weight loss will become top of mind before you know it. And while that seems to be the natural response for most of us, we tend to find it difficult to find a diet that actually works for us long-term.

But skipping past the post-holiday diets that will soon fizzle out we find ourselves at the resolution diets that some people take on after the new year rolls around. They decide they want to be healthier, eat cleaner, cut out unnecessary products in their diets so as to eliminate the toxins that enter their body through food on a daily basis.

One such diet that seems to come up quite frequently as a more long-term solution is vegetarianism. Vegetarians are known for eating only plant-based diets with no dairy, meat, or animal products whatsoever. However, some vegetarians do continue eating dairy and eggs (sometimes personal preferences and sometimes for protein upkeep). 

However, there are some skeptics out there that question whether or not vegetarians actually receive the appropriate amount of nutrients needed for a healthy diet on a daily basis if they only consume plant-based foods and no meat.

One study was conducted that actually showed the results of this highly sought after question.

After reviewing the nutrient levels of about 13,000 participants, the study proved that vegetarians were actually getting higher intake levels of nutrients than non-vegetarians. This seems almost impossible, right? But in actuality, it is completely plausible. 

What the study found was that the nutrients were absorbed easier by the body of a vegetarian because they were eating less of the harmful chemicals in processed foods and meat. Vegetarians were also found to get more fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E than their non-vegetarian counterparts. Therefore, the nutrient debate has been solved - vegetarians actually received more nutrients than non-vegetarians.

But choosing a vegetarian lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose weight (contrary to popular belief). Nutrient-based diets used for weight loss are not feasible. While vegetarians do consume 363 fewer calories than non-vegetarians, according to the study, there were still subjects in the study who were overweight, even on a vegetarian diet.

Losing weight is absolutely feasible with a vegetarian diet for multiple reasons: fewer calories, more nutrients, and a higher metabolic resting rate. But weight loss goes deeper than just diets. One must also take care of their physical health and exercise to increase their chances at losing weight and maintaining the weight loss achieved.

Doctors and dieticians do agree that a vegetarian lifestyle is easier to maintain long term. When a person embarks on the vegetarian diet lifestyle, they realize how much better they feel after living without meat and animal products altogether! They also don’t have to count calories or watch their portion sizes. This is a win-win for everyone involved, which makes this diet much easier to maintain for the long term.

So if you’ve been wondering whether or not a vegetarian diet would leave you with a lack of nutrients, your answer has been found - no! You absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need while losing weight at a healthy rate by living a vegetarian lifestyle. Eat all of the leafy greens you want - you will be just fine!

Amina Aliyu

The Importance of Water for Your Health

There really is no surprise that water continues to be a staple in our everyday lifestyle - both the healthiest of the healthy and the unhealthiest of the unhealthy. Scientists have proven that our bodies are made up of 70% water which requires daily (or hourly, really) replenishing in order to stay on top of their health and happiness.

But it is probably safe to say that a majority of our society does not know what the importance of water is in their diets (mostly because of their love for chocolates and sweets). So what exactly can water do for you and your body when you take in the appropriate amount daily?

There are so many great benefits  of water, but I want to touch on 3 that I think are very important to your overall health.

1. Water can help cure angina.

You’re probably asking what angina is, and that is absolutely a fair question. Angina is a lack of water in the lungs/heart. This can sound scary, but it is also very treatable. Of course a doctor’s supervision is highly recommended for any type of treatment of a medical issue, but if you start by increasing your water intake, you can help get on track for curing the angina that plagues your body.

2. Water can help cure migraines.

Migraines plague a great deal of our population on a daily basis, and many people cannot find relief in the form of medicine or therapy treatment. However, a little  unknown fact about migraines is that they are caused by a need for water in the brain and/or eyes.

The next time you find yourself plagued with a migraine, try drinking a glass of water and see if the headache decreases. And, to keep migraines at bay, increase your water intake on a regular basis. This could be the solution you have been looking for!

3. Water can help prevent and cure early adult-onset diabetes.

Another major health issue that is caused by severe dehydration is adult-onset diabetes. Research has shown that 90% of adults who have diabetes have type-2 diabetes, which is a direct result of severe dehydration in the body.

By increasing your water intake, you can potentially reverse the early stages of diabetes that may come on as an adult.

The benefits of water do not stop with these three discussed here. There are so many more reasons why water is important to your health - you cannot go wrong with a tall glass of water during your day! However, there are certain aspects of water intake that should be applauded for the healing  that occurs after consuming water on a regular basis.

So put down the soda, tea, or coffee and grab a glass of water instead - you never know what you might be preventing in your future by drinking that glass of  water instead. Remind yourself that by drinking that glass of water, you are either preventing a future health issue or treating  a current health issue without even knowing it. Now that is some powerful liquid!

Amina Aliyu

How to be Your Absolute Best Self

It’s safe to say that being who we truly are is difficult sometimes, especially when we don’t surround ourselves with the right group of people. Being ourselves can be very hard for some of us, but being our best self is even harder.

Why is being our best self difficult to maintain on a daily basis? Because sometimes we don’t feel like we deserve that kind of treatment. Sometimes, we don’t think we are worthy enough of being the best that we can be, therefore we reside to settling for being an “ok” version of ourselves.

But that is not the mindset that you should have when going through life on a daily basis. You should be striving to truly be the best version of you that you can be every single day! There should never be a day when you say to yourself, “I’m the best I can be today and don’t need to grow at all!” This is just not possible.

There are varying opinions on what it means to be our best self - does that include outer appearances, inward workings, relationships, etc... But the reality is that being our best self requires recognition of who we currently are (good, bad, indifferent), getting a plan in place, and implementing it.  

First you must recognize whether or not you want to be the best version of yourself. If you don’t answer yes, then you are not truly looking inside of who you are. Every single one of us wants to be a better version of ourselves; we’re human beings, constantly evolving.

After you’ve determined that you want to be the best version of yourself, your next step would be to start planning what it is you need to do in order to be the best version of you that you can be. Whatever that looks like, a plan should be laid out and referenced daily.

Recognizing and planning are two very important pieces to your puzzle when it comes to being a better version of who you are in the moment, but so is implementing your plans and steps that you’ve already identified earlier.

Plans are always great to have, but when we don’t implement them, we hurt ourselves more than anything else in the long run. Make it a point to find time to evaluate your plans and determine if you are truly implementing them as you see fit. If putting off the plans you’ve clearly laid out for yourself is happening more often  than not, then there is an issue - be it your mindset, confidence, motivation, etc… It is your job to figure out what is causing you to stop at the implementation step of improving yourself.

But being the  best versions of ourselves is something we all want to do, and it is absolutely a continuous work in progress that is worked on in order to create our best versions. You deserve the best, including being the best version of who you are!

Amina Aliyu

The Power of Gratitude in Your Life

When we were younger, we were taught to say “thank you” for everything. Our parents instilled in us the idea that whenever someone does something for you, gives you something, etc… that you must always say “thank you” in return.

And while this might have been a bit of a difficult concept for us to grasp when we were small, we eventually adopted that phrase into our vocabulary (thus making our parents proud in return).

But one thing that we lose sight of during that time of making “thank you” a reactionary term is how truly powerful those two words can be on our mood, relationships, and overall health. There is so much unseen power behind being truly grateful for who and what you have in your life that when you  become blind to it, you  lose sight of what can really happen when you  open yourself  up to showing gratitude more frequently and authentically.

Because while saying “thank you” is polite and generous, sometimes it becomes about  a mere routine or habit and less about truly feeling grateful for whatever it is we are receiving.

Very few people know the true magnitude being grateful can have on their lives, but if they did, it could be an absolute game-changer!  

Bring That Self-Esteem Up

It’s not widely known that practicing gratitude in your daily life can raise your own self-esteem (but it should be). It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day happenings that cause us to compare ourselves to others, look down on ourselves when something doesn’t go as planned, or blame ourselves when life throws some major curve balls.

But when you can actively show gratitude towards others, you start to lose the negative talk within yourself and bring forth the positive light you’ve been searching for all along. This, in turn, causes you to think more positively about yourself on a more regular basis.

Soak Up More Restful Sleep

How many times have you found yourself thinking of all of the negative things that happened during your day or what could happen tomorrow? So many of us reading this right now are raising our hands and shaking our heads up and down because we’ve been there.

But when you actively practice gratitude every single day, you will find that falling asleep and staying asleep can be easier. What you’re doing is training your mind to only think of the positive aspects of your day by having gratitude towards your blessings, which in turn causes your entire mindset to shift in a positive manner.

Overall Psychological Health is Improved

Our  minds are powerful, mysterious, and complicated muscles that we have in our bodies, and it can sometimes be hard to control when we find ourselves in a slump of negative feelings. The hole gets bigger and bigger and deeper and deeper, but in reality, there is a way to close those holes and find even ground.

Showing that you’re truly appreciative of your blessings will allow you to bring forth the mindset that encourages you to be positive, resourceful, and pleasant. Your overall psychological health is positively affected when you start practicing expressing and feeling gratitude more frequently throughout the day.

So the next time you find yourself being negative and less-than-ideal friendship material, ask yourself if you are truly practicing gratitude in your everyday life (which transcends further than saying “thank you” for your milkshake at the drive through window). Take in what you know to be true about your situations and only leave the positives to flood your head space. You deserve to have a free and clear head space, so practice gratitude at least once a day to help you hone in on what it is that will make you happier and healthier in the long run.

Integrative Nutrition

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Amina Aliyu

Sugar Addiction and Its Complications

We have explored what sugar cravings are, why they happen, and how to stop them! But now, we are going to discuss what makes sugar so addictive and the main problems caused by overconsumption of refined sweets and added sugars we find in our everyday foods!

As hard as it may be to accept, refined, white sugary goodness can cause major health consequences that can have detrimental effects on your body! Is that donut (or the 3rd donut) really worth high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, or even high cholesterol? I don’t think so.

We’ve discussed that sugar cravings are simply your body’s alarm asking for energy and to stop them you must provide your body with the “good” sugars from whole plant foods to provide you with that energy all day long so that no alarm is sounded. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, it can be, but most likely you’re saying, “I simply cannot give up my soda!” But you can!

How is addiction to sugar even qualified? If you eat even a small amount of sugar and your desire to eat more increases or you suddenly quit sugar and find yourself experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue, you are probably addicted to sugar!

In the 1900’s, the average person consumed about 15 grams of fructose (a form of refined sugar that has been shown to be more harmful than other forms of sugar). BUT, today we see the average person consume about 70-80 grams a day and many children, especially teenagers, take in 120-150 grams of fructose a day! This is not natural.

You really cannot treat sugar addiction any differently than other addictions to other drugs. Overconsumption has led to an explosion of Hypoglycemia (low glucose levels in the blood) and Type 2 Diabetes (when the pancreas is capable of producing insulin but the body doesn’t respond to it) - the two main complications of sugar addiction.

When we lose the ability to maintain our steady blood sugar level, our entire body is affected. And when we maintain our blood sugar levels, our body is balanced. But, when we cannot maintain the blood sugar levels, we find ourselves struggling to maintain our healthy body, mind, and soul.

Unfortunately, and surprisingly, sugar isn’t the problem. The problem is the addictive and vicious cycle that we have created with eating processed sugar, feeling the RUSH, CRASHING, and then taking in MORE sugar just to start the cycle all over again. That 3pm pick-me-up soda suddenly becomes a 4pm and a 5pm soda because the body is looking for the energy but cannot get it from the sugar in the soda.

Knowing the what, the why, and how sugar affects the body, you are more equipped now to handle the cravings and stop them in their tracks! If you believe that you can do it, Allah (God) will provide the help you need. Remember that Allah wants nothing but the best for you and your body, so trust and surrender everything to Him and you will see a major change in your life!

This information can be life changing for you, or someone you know and love! Don’t take a chance on your health… get yourself on the right track and always listen to your body and the way in which you treat it every single day!

Amina Aliyu

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