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Food Cravings. How do I stop them?

One major struggle that women have is food cravings.

UGH! I know. It’s so frustrating to *want* to eat healthily but have food cravings pop up in the afternoon or evening when your willpower is at its lowest.

As you can imagine, I receive many emails asking the following question:

Q: How do I stop food cravings?

A: Besides eating for fat loss and making good lifestyle choices (like sleeping enough and de-stressing), there 2 primary supplements that I use to control or stop food cravings. Supplementation is rarely my recommendation, but when food cravings are a huge issue, these supplements are worth a try!

At the end of this post, I’ll give a few secondary ways to stop food cravings as well.

  1. Stop food cravings with BCAAs

BCAAs are branched chain amino acids.

Simply speaking they are broken-down protein molecules.

Usually, BCAAs are purchased in powder form and added to water. They can be used for multiple purposes.

Many people use BCAAs when working out fasted. The purpose for this is to provide the body with amino acids so that muscle tissue is preserved. When you workout, muscle tissue can be burned ALONG with fat. BCAAs help to preserve muscle tissue without having to eat protein prior to your workout.

BCAAs can also provide the body with energy similar to ingesting carbs but without the insulin response. This is another benefit to drinking them prior to working out fasted. BCAAs are also great for muscle retention and muscle gain, particularly in the post workout window.  This is why most all commercial protein powders include BCAAs in them.

Note that if you are eating a protein packed meal after your workout, you do not need to also supplement with BCAAs at that post workout time period.

BCAAs have been clinically shown to balance blood sugar (glucose) which makes them an excellent hunger and craving suppressant. Given the fact that fat loss often (not always) requires a lower carb intake than people are used to, BCAAs can become your best friend for achieving leanness. They can help in regulating hunger and cravings by supplying the brain with the energy it needs.

BCAAs can also lower cortisol. These lower levels will offer the overlapping ability to suppress your stress induced cravings.

Dosage is 5-10 grams pre (fasted) workout. If you are taking them to suppress hunger and cravings, 5 grams is a good dose.

My personal experience:

Although I’m personally a huge fan of getting all of my nutrition without supplementation, BCAAs is one of my exceptions. Most days, I work out fasted first thing in the morning. Working out fasted is good for fat loss, but can cause muscle loss as well. Having more muscle is great for fat loss. BCAAs can provide the best of both worlds and allow me to workout fasted without the loss of hard-earned muscle. I also use them successfully for my own cravings. When clients report having cravings, this is one proven way I can recommend that regulate body functions that fight those cravings.

Here are 3 of the name brands that I have used that taste great!

  1. Momsanity BCAAs are my top choice. It has all natural ingredients, perfect ratios of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and has a nice fruit punch flavor. This one is my top pick because of the ingredients and ratios of the BCAAs plus it mixes well in my water bottle! I featured this product in a blog post on the benefits of BCAAs for women.
  2. The MRM Reload is watermelon flavored. It is sweetened with stevia and xylitol which I prefer over artificial sweeteners. It stirs well with a spoon. They make a version sweetened with artificial sweeteners, so be sure to check the label in the picture before purchasing. The one I have linked was the correct version at the time of this blog post. 🙂
  3. The Scivation Xtend needs a little shaking to get it mixed well. It’s sweetened with sucralose (same as Splenda) and can cause some people GI issue (mainly gas and bloating) if used often. It’s very tasty in the green apple flavor (think: Jolly Rancher).
The science:

If you’re interested in the science behind BCAAs, here is a great article from Metabolic Effect which is where I received my nutrition coaching certifications as well as one of my personal training certifications.

2. Stop food cravings with 100% cocoa powder

Obviously, if you can get a handle on food cravings, you are less likely to grab that unhealthy food that’s calling your name. Consuming baking cocoa will also release serotonin in the brain causing you to feel happy and euphoric. 🙂 As a bonus, it has almost no calories, it’s high in fiber, and it contains compounds that blunt hunger and reduce cravings. Through research studies, it has been shown to lower blood pressure and balance blood sugar. Good stuff for the fat loss lifestyle!! Check out this blog post about cocoa by Metabolic Effect if you are interested in reading more.

Here is a way to incorporate cocoa into your daily fat-loss lifestyle. Grab a mug of this yummy drink as an after dinner treat or to curb an afternoon craving!

Hot Cocoa Drink

Ingredients:

  1. Hot Water
  2. 1-2 Tbsp of 100% baking cocoa
  3. Stevia to taste
  4. Optional: add a pinch of cinnamon or cayenne pepper to the drink, add a splash of almond milk, or even flavored stevia drops (like Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops English Toffee), add coffee to make it a mocha.

Directions: Heat a mug of water. Stir in a 1-2 Tbsp of 100% cocoa. Sweeten w/ stevia or Truvia to taste (approximately 3 packets but depends on your preferences). Enjoy!

Another pre-mixed option is Metabolic Effect’s Craving Cocoa. It has excellent reviews from many followers of Metabolic Effect!

food cravings

Additional Ways to Stop Food Cravings

  • Eat small amounts of protein regularly
  • Make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep
  • Add flavor to water (lemon, lime, Vitamin Water Zero)
  • Unsweetened almond milk with cinnamon sprinkled on top
  • Drink hot tea
  • Chew gum
  • Brush your teeth
  • Eat a pickle
  • Have a piece of lower sugar fruit (sweet craving)
  • Have celery with peanut butter (crunchy craving)
  • Make an effort to avoid things that you KNOW trigger temptation and cravings
  • Go outside —> Get busy.
  • Give it time to pass
  • Know that success breeds success. Giving in will sabotage success.
  • Assure yourself that it WILL get easier the more you succeed!!!

Have you tried any of these methods? If so, comment below with what works best for you!

xo -Jill

p.s. If you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter to receive a free copy of my Lean Lifestyle Guide for Busy Women. The included meal plan is designed to help balance out your hunger, energy, and cravings. I know you’ll enjoy the guide!
p.p.s. For more “Q&A” style blog posts, click here. http://jilljacobs.me/category/qa/

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your pricing does not go up, but if you register through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!

 

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How to Effectively and Successfully Overhaul Your Life

By Jill Jacobs

I haven’t always been healthy and in good physical shape. I have managed to move from an unhealthy place where I didn’t exercise or eat in a way that was great for my body to a place where I have a healthy and fit lifestyle. For years, the thought of overhauling my life was overwhelming and frustrating.

I want to share with how I turned my life around. This is something that is simple and doable for everyone! I’ve used this method with many of my clients, and this can serve as the start of your own journey to becoming a healthier and fitter you.

How to Effectively and Successfully Overhaul Your Life

Step 1: Think about your habits- good and bad. Hang on to all your good, healthy habits.

Step 2: Now, choose just ONE behavior that isn’t helping you reach your goals. Change that one behavior. (This could be taking away a harmful behavior or adding a healthy behavior.)

Today is the day to start doing one thing differently. Do this one thing until it becomes an effortless change…until it becomes a healthy habit.

It takes effort and lots of mindfulness at first, but eventually it will become simple. It may take anywhere from 1-4+ weeks to master it.

Step 3: Once you find the new habit easy, pick another habit to change.

Don’t underestimate the power of one!

How to Effectively and Successfully Overhaul Your Life

Changing one thing at a time makes sustainable, life-long change doable and doesn’t overwhelm you.

If you pick just one thing to focus on, that takes pressure off by taking away the feeling that you must change everything all at once.

Ideas of habits to add to your life:

  • Center meals and snacks around protein
  • Walk 10 or more minutes each day
  • Exercise 3x per week
  • Drink 96 ounces of water per day
  • Shut down your kitchen for 12 hours beginning at 7 pm
  • Monitor your carb and/or fat intake
  • Eat 5 servings of veggies daily
  • De-stress daily for 10 minutes (massage, yoga, walk, read, take a warm bath, etc)
  • Commit to a specific bedtime and wake up time

Remember, just pick ONE!

It’s very difficult to overhaul your entire life in a day. It takes more will power than many of us have!

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by changing only ONE thing, so give it try! Truly, less is more when it come to lifestyle change.

Let me know how it goes. 🙂

Comment below and let me know what ONE thing you have decided to change.

xo -Jill

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Q&A: How soon and what should I eat post-workout?

By Jill Jacobs

I vividly recall leaving the gym after a strength training sesh, opening my car door, adding water to my shaker bottle that was pre-filled with a scoop of whey protein powder, and shaking it vigorously. I peeled my banana or grabbed my apple and began noshing on it while sipping my protein shake in between bites. I was convinced that my the muscle I was trying to build would shrivel up or I’d miss out on all the gainzzz, bro, if I didn’t eat immediately after my workout. 😉

how soon and what should I eat post workout

There is a lot of science behind meal timing and macronutrients for muscle building and fat burning, no doubt. But did I really need to be that obsessive? Was it so important to eat that quickly post workout or could I wait until I got home?

While I’m not a biochemist, I am a certified nutrition coach and have studied many reputable articles on the topic of post workout nutrition. Here’s my opinion.

Q: How soon and what should I eat post-workout?

1. How soon should I eat post-workout?

A: In the story I told you above, I was of the understanding that I needed to eat right after my workout or I’d lose any gains.  I’ve come to believe that I was taking an extreme viewpoint and that the post-workout nutrition window is much larger than a few minutes! No need to take food to the gym. 🙂

Through my personal studies, certifications, and research, I now recommend eating within 2 hours of working out if your goal is fat loss. If your goal is muscle gain, the window is a bit smaller (30-60 minutes).

2. What should I eat post-workout?

A: Post workout nutrition serves the purpose of increasing protein synthesis, decreasing protein breakdown, and replenishing glycogen stores (for energy). You will need a good dose of protein for the first two processes and some carbohydrates for the latter one.

To keep it simple, I stick with a one-to-one ratio of protein to carbs and keep fat grams less that 5.

Protein intake should be approximately 20-25 grams with about the same numbers carb grams whether your goal is fat loss or muscle gain. (With fat loss, you can certainly drop the carb level if that works best for you. But post-workout is an optimal time to eat carbohydrates.)

Good sources of protein are whey protein powder, egg whites, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, lean beef, turkey, chicken, and fish.

Carb intake for muscle gain needs to be quick, higher GI carbs like rice cakes, honey, higher sugar fruit like bananas and raisins, or potatoes (white or sweet).

Carb intake for fat loss is ideally slow digesting carbs like oats and other grains, starchy vegetables, or beans.

What do I eat post-workout?

Here is my GO-TO chocolate banana protein shake! It’s YUMMY. 🙂

For more Q&A blog post, go HERE. I love answering the frequently asked questions that I receive from my readers and clients. Email me at jill@jilljacobs.me if you have a question you’d like me to cover. 🙂

xo -Jill

 

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{Recipe} Healthy Breakfast Casserole

By Jill Jacobs

Healthy Breakfast Casserole is a Jacobs family favorite and my clients love it as well. It’s great for a crowd (think: company during the holidays), and it keeps well for a “fast food” breakfast at home. Just heat for a few seconds in the microwave, and you’re good to go!

#FitMom Tip #1: Center your meals around protein to keep your hunger in check. Shoot for 20 or more grams of protein at each meal and snack.

#FitMom Tip #2: Prepare recipes like this healthy breakfast casserole ahead of time to have easy protein source ready to grab in a pinch.

Healthy Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 6 Whole Eggs
  • 2 cups 100% Liquid Egg Whites or 10 Egg Whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 cups chopped Spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped Onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped Bell Peppers
  • 1 lb Turkey Sausage, Chopped Canadian Bacon, or ground 99% lean turkey breast
  • 12 Tbsp of shredded cheese (optional)

Note: You can add or take out ingredients to make it fit your needs and preferences. Use meat and veggies that your family will love.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*. Spray 9×13 pyrex dish with cooking spray. Saute’ onions and peppers with sausage in a saute’ pan w/ a little cooking spray. Pour mixture into 9×13 pan. Sprinkle chopped spinach on top. Combine whole eggs, egg whites, and almond milk. Beat until fluffy. Pour over sausage and vegetable mixture in the 9×13 dish. Top with black pepper, paprika, or any spice of your choosing. Bake 30-35 minutes until browned to your liking. Cut into 12 pieces. Top each serving with 1 Tbsp of shredded cheese if desired. Serve with a side of berries. Enjoy!

This is a great choice for re-heating on a busy morning… No need to run through a drive through when this is prepared in your refrigerator! 🙂

For more recipes, all you need to do is click HERE!

xo ~Jill

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{Workout Wednesday} Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

By Jill Jacobs

I have very active boys. While they love their electronic games, they tend to prefer the outdoors if it’s anywhere close to a nice day. My oldest can turn any activity into a competition with his buddies, and my youngest is obsessed with pull ups and jumping rope lately. It’s fun to this side benefit of working out at home; my kids *want* to get involved and be active too.

Here is my youngest programming his own workout. 🙂

Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

We have a park about 1/2 mile from our house as well as a few playgrounds within our neighborhood. I confess that taking them to play at a park is NOT at the top of my list of desirable things to do (after all, we have a perfectly good yard and cul-de-sac!), but when I do, I like to use that time wisely.

If the boys are entertained with each other or friends (and don’t need me), then I use the time to read, catch up with a girlfriend or family member on the phone, or fit in a playground workout!

There are so many exercises you can do on or near a playground. I’ve put together a workout below that will help you get started thinking about ways to use your local playground to exercise. This is family fitness at its best!

Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

With your children in your view, of course, start by warming up a bit by jogging around or in place, doing some butt kicks, jumping jacks, and any other dynamic exercise. Then, clock in for a specific amount of time. I think 20 minutes is perfect, but if you only have 10 minutes then clock in for 10 minutes! Never, ever, ever allow perfect or ideal to be the enemy of good!

Once you’re warmed up, start your clock and go:

  1. 1-5 Pull Ups or 15-30 second Flexed Arm Hang on the Monkey Bars – If you can perform pull-ups, using the monkey bars is a great way to fit in a set. If you can’t, jump up to the bar and hold a flexed arm position for as long as you can. You want your chest to the bar with your shoulders back and down. I suggest 15-30 seconds but do what you can even if it’s less or more. Also, letting yourself down slowly is a great way to build pull-up strength. This is called a negative pull-up.
  2. Stationary Reverse Lunges – You could do forward walking lunges around the perimeter of the playground, but I find that reverse lunges are better on the knees (at least for me!).
  3. 5-10 Push Ups – You can adjust push ups to your ability by changing the position used and/or number of reps. Choose any position from incline, to standard, to decline if you’re advanced. For incline and decline, find a park bench, ladder rung, or any elevated surface.
  4. 20 + Mountain Climbers – Staying in plank position after your push-ups, perform 20+ mountain climbers.
  5. 10 right/10 left Step Ups on a park bench, the bottom of a slide, or another stable surface – If you can find a place for step ups, these will work your booty!
  6. Sprint 20-40 yards* (On a hill if available) – Here is some more info on sprint training.

Repeat the circuit until your time is up!

*If you don’t have a place to sprint, do 20 squat jumps instead. 

There are so many more exercises you could perform on a playground including burpees, squat jumps, split squats (using a park bench for your back foot), box jumps onto a bench, any core work if you take a yoga mat or a have nice grassy area, hanging leg or knee raises (on the monkey bars), crossing the monkey bars, swinging with your child, pushing your child on a swing (especially vigorously on a tire swing!), inverted rows on a low bar, pike push ups with your feet in a swing, any type of crawling exercises, not to mention all you could do with a suspension system like TRX! The sky is the limit. 🙂

Turn Any Playground Into A Gym

Skitterphoto / Pixabay

The most important thing is to enjoy your time with your kids. The added benefits are exposing them to the outdoors and showing them how important exercise is to you!

Families that play together, stay together. 🙂

xo -Jill