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.
I didn’t realize I did this until recently.
A fat loss coaching client asked me how to know when they’re “overeating” or if they’re just simply… enjoying a meal.
When they’re dieting, when is it “right” or “wrong” to have that burger and fries they’ve been craving?
Or to go off plan for a day because they're taking their kid to an amusement park?
Or to enjoy a shot and a few drinks with their best friend?
Basically, how do you balance the gray area of enjoying life and staying on your diet?
I emailed them back and said there are two ways I look at meals:
1. Priority = Fitness Goals
I only see it as “overeating” if your intention for that meal is to stay on track with your diet because fat loss/health is a higher priority to you in that moment. Therefore, you’d be “overeating” simply because you had a calorie goal you wanted to hit, but this meal pushed you over. It’s NOT good or bad, it’s just what happened, objectively.
NOTE: you can also "fit in" these high calorie meals and stay on track with your goals.
2. Priority = Enjoyment/Life Satisfaction
I don’t think it’s overeating if your intention is to enjoy the life experience of eating that meal with friends, your S.O., or by yourself. Then it’s just simply… eating. You decided that fat loss isn’t as important to you for this meal, and that’s ok, so you shouldn’t feel guilty because you aligned your actions and intentions around what YOU thought was most important.
So over these next few weeks, give yourself permission to commit to one, but neither are “right” or “wrong.”
The whole point is to make sure it’s a conscious choice, not an impulsive one.
Take inventory on what’s most important to you in that moment, act on it, then move on with your life.
Hope you found this helpful.
P.S. I'm really enjoying this article on "How to Do Great Work".
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.
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3 - Check out more of my free content.
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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.
Have you ever been told the reason you’re not losing weight is because “you’re eating too little”.
If so, I am also sure you have been told your body has gone into “starvation mode”. Where people tend to explain it, as your body is holding onto all your body fat because you haven’t been eating enough calories.
Spoiler Alert: I’m here to explain to you why this is in fact a myth.
As everything you hear in the fitness and health industry there is a sliver of truth behind this statement. In fact, I myself am guilty of using this phrase in the past. Thankfully I have continued to learn and research the science of our metabolism.
Next let's break down the common definition of “starvation mode”.
What is Starvation Mode?
Starvation mode is not a scientific term. It is a popular phrase used to imply that when you cut calories too low, your body goes into a protection mode, slowing your metabolism and calorie output so that you stop losing weight.
This concept is rooted in your body's survival mechanisms. If you ever found yourself without food for long periods of time, it would not be beneficial for your body to continue to burn calories at a normal rate; instead, your metabolism would shift to preserve as much energy as possible to prolong your life. But starving to death is not quite the same thing as dieting and you will still lose weight in the process of wasting away without food.
How Long Can You Survive Without Food?
With access to water and electrolytes, your body can survive for quite some time without food, depending on the person and how much body fat you have. Some research suggests that you can go more than a month without food. And in some religions, long fasts are commonly practiced with potential health benefits.
Starvation mode is not a real term, but metabolic adaption is, and it’s a known phenomenon. How drastically it affects your weight loss progress is another story.
Your body can compensate for decreased calories by slowing your metabolism down as much as 30% through adaptive thermogenesis. But the effects of adaptive thermogenesis are typically short-lived, and for most the difference could be as little as a 5% decrease in basal metabolic rate (BMR), and it does not indicate a damaged metabolism.
So what is the verdict?
In all of the studies referenced to support starvation mode, weight loss was a factor. And it is crucial to note that any weight loss can cause you to have a lower BMR - since it just takes less energy to move around a smaller object.
Why You're Not Losing Weight and How to Fix it
If you find that you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, it does not mean you are in starvation mode. Some more common factors are likely at play, including the following:
You're Not Tracking Your Food Intake
It's pretty impossible to know if you are in a calorie deficit if you aren't tracking your food intake. Before assuming something else is at play, keeping an accurate food diary is the best place to start.
Even if you've been tracking, take a look at how diligent you are being with this habit.
You can also use your tracking app to get weekly calorie and macro averages - this is the best way to see how well you’ve stuck to your diet consistently, as well as where you could use some work.
You're Not Eating the Right Amount of Calories
Typically, if you aren't losing weight, you are eating more calories than you think. Or if you've recently lost weight, you likely have a new maintenance calorie amount and may need to eat fewer calories to continue losing. This is why many popular weight loss plans will use a phased approach to cutting, helping you to stay in a calorie deficit and continue losing weight with incremental calorie cuts.
Start by figuring out how many calories you need to eat a day to maintain your current weight and then calculate your new weight loss calorie needs from that starting point.
You're Always on a Diet
It might also just be that your body needs a break. If you've been dieting for more than a few months, it might be time to give your body time to adjust to your maintenance calorie level. Jumping from one diet to the next and constantly trying to cut calories can do more harm than good. It is much easier to stick to a diet and continue to get results if you understand how to maintain results in the first place.
Been on a really low-calorie diet for a while and scared to add calories back in? Try upping your intake a few hundred calories a week to start, until you reach your maintenance level. And then stick to your maintenance for at least a month to give your time to adjust and reset your metabolism.
You're Too Focused on the Scale
Oftentimes dieters are focused solely on fat loss, but their total body composition is crucial to getting better results and making them stick. Not to mention, if you are cutting calories too low for too long, you’re at risk of losing precious calorie burning tissue - your muscle.
Gaining muscle is essentially the opposite of “starvation mode”. Your muscle mass is the biggest determinant of your metabolic rate, and the more you have, the more you can eat and maintain your weight. Plus, muscle is the tissue behind that lean, toned look most of us are striving to achieve in the first place.
While muscle growth is typically achieved through weight gain, which would ultimately increase your metabolism even further, it is possible for some people to build muscle in a calorie deficit. But at the very least, you should be focused on protecting your muscle while dieting.
To keep your lean mass intact while dieting, be sure to incorporate the following:
What are the Minimum Calories for Weight Loss?
While starvation mode may not technically exist, starving yourself to lose weight is still not recommended. A very low-calorie diet may work at first, but it’s likely not going to do you favors in the long run. It can be dangerous for some people, lead to disordered eating habits, and does not typically lead to sustainable results, since most people do not change bad habits once they resume eating again. In addition, extreme dieting is impossible to maintain, causing painful hunger cues, irritability, mood swings, decreased energy, poor concentration, and sucks your willpower dry, all of which makes sticking to a diet that much harder.
Instead, stick to a more attainable approach to dieting with no more than a 15-20% decrease from your estimated daily energy needs. Slow and steady weight loss of 0.5 to 1% body weight per week is much easier to keep off and you will be much happier and more successful with a more measured and sustainable diet plan approach.
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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.
Kayli is a certified personal trainer and online coach that specializes in fitness, wellness, nutrition, mindset, mobility and everything in between.