Blog Post by Coach Julie
NCI Certified Nutrition Coach L1 and Mindset Coach
Artificial sweeteners have been the bastard of the nutrition and fitness industry lately. They are getting the blame for cancer, gut health issues, disordered eating and blood sugar spikes. But what is the truth about artificial sweeteners.
The three most popular artificial sweeteners on the market today are: aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin. These sweeteners are often found in popular foods that have been reformulated into a “zero sugar” version which often results in a reduced calorie option of the popular alternative. For example, I enjoy Sprite Zero because it offers a “treat” with dinner for zero calories where a can of Sprite is about 120 calories. Sprite Zero contains aspartame to give it the sweet flavor without the calories mounting.
These sweeteners have been on blast by the media about their “harmful” effects for years. The issue with media, is that it is almost always sensationalized to gather attention. Clicks and shares usually mean income for news media so you will often see stories overly sensationalized to garner more attention. You can see this very clearly in the amount of stories on news outlets about terrorism and violent crimes. It has created an attitude that the world is a super dangerous place, but actual studies have shown that crime has been down the last several years.
The WHO (World Health Organization) came out a few years ago and said there MAY be a link between artificial sweeteners and cancer risk. This simple, yet uncertain claim has sparked the media firestorm that has created a line in the sand between nutrition researchers and cherry picking, media outlets that are trying to boost their bottom line. In an great article by Mike Matthews of Legion Athletics, Mike shows a great graphic on where the WHO categorized artificial sweeteners. He stated, “The WHO is placing aspartame in Group 2B. Thus, according to the WHO’s assessment, aspartame is about as likely to increase your cancer risk as aloe vera, carpentry, and eating pickled vegetables.” I’m not real sure about you, but if I find joy in one Sprite Zero per day, I feel relatively safe doing so.
There have been recent studies lately that are showing that there is NO association between these sweeteners and cancer. In a recent news story on Barbend, the study has dispelled the WHO’s previous claims and actually shown that zero calorie sodas may be beneficial for health if it’s used to replace regular soda for weight loss because it aids in weight loss and reduces the overall sugar intake.
The other big concern surrounding artificial sweeteners is their effect on gut health. There have been small sample studies done in rats on the effects of sweeteners on the gut microbiome. The issue is, rat studies don’t always translate well to humans. Most of these studies were feeding the rats toxic amounts of sweeteners that would translate to obscene numbers in humans. A recent article on StrongerU as well as an article on BioLayne, show the limitations associated with the rat studies. Overall, the studies on gut microbiome have been widely inconclusive.
Some social media influencers have argued that these sweeteners promote obesity by increasing cravings. Here’s the thing, this argument also has no conclusive evidence of this. As a nutrition coach, I believe if you maintain a 80-20 diet in nutritious foods and use these zero calorie foods and drinks as a “treat” that subs for the higher calorie options, you’re going to be just fine. I don’t believe that these foods drive cravings more than any other food option. Realistically, this argument could be made about most highly processed, higher carb foods, they also tend to promote cravings because carbs do not offer the satiating effect you receive from protein.
With all of the recent research, I’m not willing to tell any of my clients to stop choosing zero calorie sodas over regular sodas. I would caution that too much of any good thing can be a bad thing. The studies have not shown conclusive evidence of causing harm in small amounts. If you are drinking obscene amounts of these sweeteners, we need to have a different conversation because I would assume you’re having health issues. Those issues would be associated with dehydration NOT the artificial sweeteners. Overall, the benefits of artificial sweeteners far outweigh the potential risks, if used in a reasonable amount.
Blog Post by Coach Julie
NCI Certified Nutrition Coach L1 & Certified Mindset Coach
A little bit of a change this week from my usual blog posts. This week I’d like to talk about stress and mindset. As I’m sure most of you know, Kayli’s dad passed away unexpectedly in July. This event just added to what would be the perfect storm for me, which ended up leaving me very sick and struggling with my mindset.
We lost Kayli’s dad on a Tuesday. The first week, I managed well. By managed I mean, Kayli had all the support she needed and wanted and a partner that was helping her navigate all the things that needed to be addressed. I knew that she would not be able to make a lot of decisions or absorb a lot of the information she was being given, so I stepped in and up and was all of those things for her. The problem was, I put myself on the back burner. I completely neglected my own needs. I was stressed. I was grieving, but I didn’t want her to see that part of me because I felt like it would make it worse for her. I was wrong. It ended up being worse for me.
The second week, Kayli started to move through the stages of grief, but while she was starting to move forward, I was just starting to feel the sadness. Since I stifled my own grief, thinking I was helping her, I delayed my own emotions and left me sad and grieving when she was close to being done with that stage. The exact thing I hoped to avoid, happened. I didn’t want her to have to abandon herself to take care of me. Had we gone through this together and I would’ve been transparent with her about my emotions we could’ve leaned on each other rather than taking turns being each other’s leaning posts.
Since Kayli spent the second week taking care of me, I felt really guilty that she was having to take care of me. My mindset tanked. I felt like a bad spouse. I felt weak. Things just kept spiraling.
The process of having to manage all of the final affairs for Kayli’s dad lasted two and half weeks. That period of time was persistent high stress. Add in an insanely toxic and high stress environment at work and you have “the perfect storm.”
I noticed on July 21st that I started having diarrhea that was difficult to control. I felt like I couldn’t control my bowels. I could, but I was not confident in that. The diarrhea, nausea, headaches and fatigue persisted. It is August 15th as I write this and I’m just now 2 days diarrhea free but not nausea free. It’s been going on that long. I’ve been to 3 doctors because I’m worried about my gut relapsing. Through the process of doctors visits, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that causes your thyroid hormones to wax and wane. Hashimoto’s can be caused by chronic stress and leaky gut syndrome. All three doctors gave me the same unconventional response to help alleviate some of my symptoms, QUIT YOUR JOB.
I was stuck. I couldn’t quit my job yet. Kayli and I just paid for a funeral and we have bills to pay for our home and our business. It just wasn’t feasible. I was stuck in a perpetual loop everywhere I looked. I was stressed so my gut was inflamed, but the gut inflammation and symptoms caused stress. Work stressed me out, but taking mental health days stressed me out because I knew what would be waiting on me when I got back. The cycles kept me in a doomsday mindset. I felt like nothing would get better. I felt terrible about myself. I started having OCD episodes of suicidal intrusive thoughts again. I was panicky all the time. I. COULDN’T. STOP.
Finally, I got a break. On Monday morning at 6:30am I received a job offer asking when I could start. It was the miracle I needed. I accepted the offer and told my boss first thing that morning that I would be leaving effective this week. Suddenly the gut started to feel better. It isn’t perfect yet, it’s still a work in progress, but the gut isn’t where it was. The stress associated with my job had me stuck back in a chronically ill cycle that I hadn’t been in for years. Quitting my job and spending a week being intentional about my time with Kayli and enjoying our time were the meds that I needed.
The take home here is, you have to manage stress. Sometimes you won’t be able to. That’s where I thought I was, but because I didn’t give up and I kept persisting even when things were hard, something shook loose. Stress can absolutely create a mess of your health if you don’t check it. Stay ahead of it. Had I stayed ahead of it, I may not be in this position. Learn from my mistakes.
Blog Post by Coach Julie
NCI Certified Nutrition Coach L1 & Certified Mindset Coach
Antibiotics are one of the miracles of modern medicine. They have been used in phenomenal, life saving ways. When used sparingly and appropriately, antibiotics can be life changing. However, recently antibiotic use has become a quick fix solution to a multitude of conditions and issues in traditional, Western medicine. The use of antibiotics is not without its fair share of side effects. When used inappropriately, your body can become resistant to the positive effects of the drugs and they can cause side effects that can affect your health long term. While this is true for anyone, these long term effects can be more prevalent when antibiotics are used in children 3 and under.
Children under 3 are still developing the most important, beneficial bacteria in their gut that forms their microbiota. Studies have shown that antibiotic use early in life or mother’s antibiotic use during pregnancy or lactation can cause gut dysbiosis of the child. This dysbiosis can have several different effects on the child both short term and long term.
The most common side effect of antibiotic use is diarrhea. While this is a more short term effect, it is the most obvious sign of microbiota disruption in children and adults alike.
Research has shown that early use of antibiotics can have a direct effect on body weight. Studies have shown a correlation between this type of drugs and an increased BMI by ages 4-7.
Interestingly, antibiotic use among young children has also been linked to immunity and food allergies. The studies have specifically noted that dairy allergies have been the most common type of food allergy in young children treated with antibiotics. Children that were breast fed by a mother who was treated with antibiotics during lactation also saw an increased risk for a dairy allergy, most commonly cow milk.
Antibiotic use in infancy is also a risk factor for allergic rhinitis and early onset childhood asthma.
Antibiotic use before one year of age had the highest risk of inflammatory bowel disease development. The risk, while still present, did decline through age 5.
Studies show a correlation between early antibiotic use and type 2 diabetes, however it is unclear if the antibiotics were prescribed over time to treat symptoms of undiagnosed type 2 diabetes or if the antibiotic use was the catalyst. Studies are still suggesting that it is due to the use of antibiotics.
Finally, and possibly the most concerning in my opinion, is that antibiotic use has been shown to increase the risk of certain types of cancers. The risk did increase with multiple rounds of antibiotics over time. Several cancers were listed. Among them: pancreatic, prostate, esophageal, gastric, lung and breast cancers.
The point here is to not fear antibiotics. You should be mindful of the frequency and dosage of the medications. You should also just be aware and be educated. Awareness is key. Don’t walk blindly into anything. Ask questions. Your doctor should have your best interest in mind and should be happy to answer questions. If not, you may need a new primary care physician.
Today's blog consists of 3 of my favorite tips I've accumulated over my years as a fitness coach.
→ Tip 1: Reverse psychology "hack" to make better food choices
One of the best ways to do this is by focusing on inclusive habits instead of exclusive habits.
Inclusive habits suggest adding to their diet (adding protein, adding fruits and vegetables, adding water).
Exclusive habits suggest taking away from their diet (no more carbs, no more fats, no more desserts).
It's a subtle difference, but makes all the difference psychologically⏤nobody likes to be told what they can't do.
→ Tip 2: Three Ways To Remain Athletic As You Age
1. Prioritize soft tissue and mobility work. Too often, we can start doing these once we already feel pain. But if we stay proactive and implement just five minutes each day of foam rolling and mobility drills, we'll keep that athletic edge over time.
2. Incorporate single-leg exercises. This doesn't mean compound lifts like squats and deadlifts don't have their place. But lunges, split squats, step-ups, and single-leg RDLs all need to be included for a well-rounded athletic program. Running, jumping, cutting, transferring power ⏤ getting stronger on one leg will help all of these.
3. Lift FAST on the concentrics. You can use explosive movements like kettlebell swings or the olympic lifts, but you can also just make sure every rep you do is performed with a controlled, powerful concentric component of the lift. Moving fast will keep you fast.
→ Tip 3: Five “hacks” to eat more protein
1. Eat your protein first (in the day and in your meal). Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, so you’re less likely to overeat with this strategy. But on a daily scale, this same tactic can work by front loading protein at breakfast when your hunger is high.
2. Add a whey protein shake before the meal when cutting. When cutting, you can blunt some of your hunger going into a meal by having a half to full serving of whey protein before diving into your food. This also ensures higher quality protein at each meal.
3. Eat protein more frequently. It’s hard to consume large amounts of protein in one to two sittings. So breaking up your total daily protein goal into more meals and snacks will make the goal easier to achieve. For most, three meals and one shake works well.
4. Have a protein shake after training, upon waking, between meals, or before bed. Most people already include a post-workout shake, but it’s helpful to start doing if not. People also assume you should only drink shakes on workout days, yet they can provide a quality protein boost any time of day.
5. Build your meals starting with a protein source. Essentially, every time you’re about to eat, think to yourself, “what is my protein source going to be?” Then base the rest of your meal/snack around that decision.
When you're ready, here are 3 more ways I can help you:
1 - Ask me a question about your #1 fitness struggle.
Just hit reply to this email or blog post. I read every email I get. (And yes, it's actually me answering!)
2 - Work with me directly to get in the best shape of your life and stop breaking promises to yourself.
Every month I open up applications to work with me through my private 1:1 fat loss coaching program. I only work with people that I can help (80+ clients so far). And since you’re here, good chance that’s you.
Click here to apply to work with me.
3 - Check out more of my free content.
Facebook Group: "The Phoenix Method for Body Transformation"
Podcast: Phoenix Rising:Fitness|Mindset|Lifestyle - 100+ episodes where Coach Julie & I share our knowledge to help make your weight loss journey faster & more sustainable!
Blog: Start here - “8 Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism”
Blog Post by Coach Julie
NCI Certified Nutrition Coach L1 & Certified Mindset Coach
Detox has become quite the buzz word on social media. Everyone talks about how life changing detoxes are for your health and fitness. I’m not sure I buy into all of that. Usually the word “detox” means diarrhea, and of course you lose weight because there’s no more food in your gut and you’re super dehydrated. NOT HEALTHY. Most detoxes, especially those that you’ll find marketed on social media, are not healthy nor are they necessary. If you want to do a good healthy detox, here’s 9 healthy, full body detoxes.
Reading those 9 detoxes should have taught you a key factor about your body. Your body is mostly a self cleaning oven. Your organs and systems are designed to move toxins out of your body. You don’t need a detox, you need to optimize your systems, organs and their function.
People like you who read my blogs are of a special breed. You’re likely ambitious, eager to learn, and confident⏤or else you wouldn’t be reading this. Or, anything, for that matter.
If you’re anything like my 1:1 coaching client, Diana, you’ll start off small, stacking wins. Then you’ll nervously, but courageously, push past your comfort zone. You’ll succeed at something you’ve never done before. Then your trust in your abilities will increase, equipping you to overcome hard things in the future with a new sense of mental freedom. This is how you build real self-confidence and escape the comparison trap. If this sounds like something you want professional help with, let’s work together. Whether you decide to sign up or not, with each of these four tools you should increase your chances of success going forward.
You’ve got this.
Give ’em a try and keep me posted how it goes. Would love to hear from you.
Chat soon, Kayli
P.S. This was originally an email sent to my private newsletter. If you liked this post, consider joining the fun.
Blog Post by Coach Julie
You’re probably a little confused right now . . . Let me break it down for you.
I have clients that struggle terribly with allergies and asthma. They’ve tried everything. Expensive allergy testing shows no allergies. NONE. Believe it or not, the problem may not be allergies, it may be issues with the gut.
It may sound crazy that your gut health would affect your sinuses, but the two systems are very intertwined. Both the respiratory tract and the digestive tract are immune barriers, meaning it’s their job to protect the body from outside invaders.
The gut in particular profoundly influences the entire immune system. When gut health suffers so does the rest of your body. This can even result in allergy symptoms that flare up each spring.
Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, is a condition in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, yeasts, and other toxins into the bloodstream. The immune system launches an attack on these toxins, which creates inflammation throughout the body. For many people, this happens every time they eat.
This inflammation manifests in different ways for different people. Gut symptoms don’t have to be present to suffer from inflammation caused by leaky gut. It can cause joint pain, skin problems, digestive complaints, autoimmune disease, issues with brain function, fatigue, chronic pain, asthma, and…seasonal allergies.
Chronic stress also weakens and inflames the digestive tract, causing leaky gut. Stress doesn’t just have to come from a stressful lifestyle or lack of sleep, although those certainly play a role. Eating a diet high in sugar, fried and processed foods is stressful to the body, as is an unmanaged autoimmune disease, or hormones that are out of whack. These are just a few metabolic factors that can contribute to leaky gut.
If you need help managing chronic conditions or gut health, shoot Coach Kayli or I a DM. We’d be happy to jump on a coaching call with you to discuss your issues and help you get to the root cause.
Blog Post by Coach Julie
Wegovy and Ozempic are both GLP-1 (glucagon like peptide).
With GLP-1 drugs, you will lose muscle mass if you are not doing some sort of resistance training. “Much of the "weight loss" resulting from GLP-1 agonists is the loss of muscle, bone mass, and other lean tissue rather than body fat (Ida, et al.).”
When taking GLP-1 drugs it’s important to focus on getting adequate protein to at least maintain muscle mass. (Usually .75g of protein per pound of lean body mass is adequate. If your goal weight is 150 pounds that means 113g of protein per day.)
A significant loss of bone mass, for example, predisposes serious bone diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. And a significant loss of muscle mass lowers metabolic rate (increasing the risk of weight regain), raises the risk of falls, and impairs function and quality of life.
Research has found that when people stop taking Wegovy/Ozempic, they rapidly regain weight. (Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism: Journal, June 2022) Experts say this is because the drug is not a cure and it does not prevent the metabolic adaptation that occurs during weight loss.
A study published in April 2022 which sought to examine changes in body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors upon the termination of the drug, found that after a year people had regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost. The positive changes they had seen in cardiometabolic risk factors like blood pressure, blood lipids, HbA1c, and C-reactive protein had similarly reversed.According to the study authors, these findings reinforce the need to continue treatment in order to maintain the benefits of the medication. (Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism: Journal, April 2022)
The fact that people may need to stay on Wegovy indefinitely in order to maintain the weight loss has raised concerns about long-term use. (NPR, 2023)
As a nutrition coach, I have been asked several times about these two drugs. I always suggest talking with your doctor about this and making sure that this is the right answer for you. My opinion though is to always work on lifestyle, diet and fitness interventions first. I would invest in a coach before I spent the money on this very expensive drug. If you have further questions, shoot me a DM, we’ll talk.
EVERYBODY IS TALKING ABOUT IT.
Unless you follow Dr. Oz, the #ketowarriors, or the descendants of Vegan Gains — you’ve heard that a “calorie deficit” is the key to losing fat.
We’ll get into details later, but to refresh: a “calorie deficit” simply means your body is burning more calories than you’re consuming (i.e., calories out > calories in = weight loss (few exceptions)).
A “calorie surplus” means you’re burning fewer calories than you’re consuming (i.e., calories out < calories in = weight gain).
And if you’re eating at your “maintenance calories,” you’re burning around the same number of calories as you’re consuming (i.e., calories out = calories in = maintain stable weight).
Now, I could get deep into the minutia of calories in calories out and how your body “burns” calories, but you probably don’t care about the science.
What you do care about: me knowing the science and giving you the actionable steps to put into practice.
And that’s exactly what I’m gonna do, so take a quick glance at this pretty picture and let’s keep it movin’.
That’s the why. Now, I’ll share the how.
For the record, I’ve never seen another fitness coach put this information out for free. This is exactly how I set up a calorie deficit for my online coaching clients, so listen up.
STEP 1: BUY SCALES. Buy a bodyweight scale and a food scale. These are reasonably cheap and some of the best investments you can make for managing your body. Plus, there are two things humans suck at: estimating and remembering data. In fact, one study on daily food reporting showed even dietitians to be off by up to 800 calories. Some non-dietitians were off by over 1,000 calories! So, yeah. Buy the scales so you don’t do this.
STEP 2: DOWNLOAD A FOOD TRACKING APP. I recommend FatSecret or My Fittness Pal to my clients. Don’t use the macro calculator for any of them as that’s the point of this post ⏤ this way is more accurate. MFP might just be more accessible in terms of how to use the app for some people. However, another downside of MFP is their calories can be off with some of their foods due to user inputted data. Just make sure your total daily macros match up to your total daily calories and you’ll be good to go. Any tracking app or using a pad and pen (if you’re a neanderthal) will work just fine. We’ll cover your macros (proteins, carbs, and fats in a bit).
STEP 3: EAT NORMALLY AND TRACK EVERYTHING. Without drastically changing how you currently eat, track every single thing (very important this is accurate!) you put in your mouth for at least four days (preferably three weekdays and one weekend day). I say to eat normal because you want to find your current baseline. If you go changing everything you eat, you’ll skew your results. And when I say track everything, I mean EVERYTHING — alcohol, condiments, oils, drinks, supplements, butter, sauces, dessert, etc.
STEP 4: AVERAGE OUT YOUR BASELINE. After tracking at least four days, find the average number of calories you ate during that time period.
STEP 5: REMAIN CONSISTENT WITH TRACKING WEIGHT AND FOOD FOR 14 DAYS.Try to hit within +/- 50 of that average calorie amount (2,150 – 2,250) every single day for the next 2 weeks (including weekends!) AND weigh yourself every day in the morning – before you eat and after you take your morning dump. It’s important you try to mimic each day so you can get a realistic idea of what your “typical” intake and weight would look like, i.e., don’t do this during vacation.
STEP 6: ANALYZE WEIGHT TRENDS. Given that you followed step 5 correctly, we should now see a trend in what your weight does based off how much food you’re eating. If you’re eating ~2,200 calories per day and your weight is trending downward (not down every single day because weight fluctuates) over the course of two weeks — you’re likely in a calorie deficit. If your weight is staying about the same (within a pound or so), subtract 250 calories from your daily calorie goal and keep consistent. This means you are eating around your maintenance calories. If your weight is trending upward, take away 350-500 calories per day (you’re in a calorie surplus).
Blog Post by Coach Julie
Do you suffer with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. Symptoms of this disease are tender, warm or swollen joints, joint stiffness, fatigue, fever and loss of appetite. Early symptoms tend to appear in the smaller joints first, usually hands and feet. RA symptoms can wax and wane in severity including periods of remission and alternatively periods of increased intensity, called flared. Long term effects of this disease can cause your joints to deform and shift out of place.
Western medicine admittedly states they are not sure what causes RA. They state they believe there is a genetic component, but that genes don’t actually cause the issue. This is something that I have been trying to teach my clients and audience, genes don’t cause or create a diseased state in your body. Just because your parents have diabetes does not mean that you’re doomed to have diabetes. If that’s how disease worked, you would have diabetes when you were 7. It wouldn’t wait until you were 37. Genetics may make you more predisposed to a certain disease or condition, but environmental factors have to be present to trigger and activate that disease. Your genetics load the gun, but your lifestyle and environment pull the trigger. This is why it is important to manage your health and wellness throughout your life and prior to symptoms appearing. Usually if you wait for symptoms to appear, the disease is already present.
Studies are suggesting that there may be a link between Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and gut health. I can’t say that I’m surprised by this. RA is an autoimmune disease and an inflammatory disease. The root cause of many autoimmune diseases is inflammation and inflammation usually comes from the gut. This is where the environmental factors we spoke about above come into play.
These studies are specifically referring to low stomach acid causing flares of RA. When stomach acid is low, usually people will experience food-allergy symptoms which can show up as RA pain. Stomach acid helps break down proteins in your stomach so that the intestines can absorb it. Without adequate stomach acid, your intestines absorb partially broken down protein which causes allergies.
Signs of low stomach acid are: abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, undigested food in stool, reflux and heartburn. Yes, you read that right, reflux and heartburn are signs of low stomach acid, not too much acid.
If you struggle with RA, you may see some relief by looking at your gut health and working to optimize gut health. Avoid proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Prilosec or Nexium as they will lower your stomach acid. Some RA sufferers have stated that there are RA drugs that have caused acid reflux issues and therefore they have been prescribed a PPI to help them manage. It is very important to talk to your doctor about other options. Perhaps a change in your RA medication would be an option. If not, I would suggest doing some stomach acid tests to see if the issue you are experiencing is actually high stomach acid. If it isn’t, you have other options. If you are experiencing low stomach acid, you could find relief from your stomach acid issues but supplementing with Betaine HCL and adding stomach acid to your gut to help you break down food. This would not only eliminate the PPI and the symptom, but it would help you break down food and could potentially lessen the frequency and intensity of RA flares.
Kayli is a certified personal trainer and online coach that specializes in fitness, wellness, nutrition, mindset, mobility and everything in between.