What are calories and how they effect your fitness and weight loss plans are described.

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Dr. Josh on How To Eat Smarter & Lose Weight

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Mountain Trek recently started offering Lifestyle Performance Coaching via clinical physcologist Dr. Joshua Klapow, who's also an alumni of the program. It seems the good doctor is also adept at explaining matters of nutrition as well given an article that has appeared on beachbody.com. In it, Dr. Josh is asked to explain how to eat smarter through "mindful eating" (also known as "intuitive eating") and how it can influence your body shape.

In the article called "9 Mindfulness Tips For Losing Weight," Dr. Josh compares mindful eating to mindful existence: “It’s not unlike taking a minute to look at a flower or experience being in nature,” he says. “We can either rush through it with a passing appreciation, or we can spend several minutes and take the entire environment into our senses. Mindful eating is the exact same thing.” He goes on to explain that "By itself, mindful eating is not a weight-loss cure, but as part of an approach or tool it can catapult healthy eating and weight loss.

By being conscientious when you consume foods, you limit distractions, choose healthier options and become more in tune with your body. Here are the nine mindfulness tricks to help you eat smarter, be conscious of what you eat and, ultimately, make better decisions that will help you lose weight. 

  1. Pause before you eat to ask yourself why you're eating
  2. Chew each bite thoroughly and savour it
  3. Drink water before meals
  4. Eat vibrant, flavourful foods
  5. Eat without distractions
  6. Wait before getting seconds
  7. When you feel the urge to snack, make a cup of tea first
  8. Take note of your cravings
  9. Eat with joy, not judgement

All of these tips will help you take more pleasure in your food and to read more about Dr. Josh's take on "mindful eating," log on to beachbody.com.

For an even more well-rounded culinary experience, book a stay at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa to enjoy the delicious spa cuisine prepared by our master chef Bonnie VanTassel. She's renowned for creating healthy, farm-fresh food that you can't help but savour. Book your stay at Mountain Trek now.

Malaysian Lime Coconut Scallops

Why You Need To Stop Calorie Counting Right Now

Calorie Counting

Recently Mountain Trek's nutrition expert Jennifer Keirstead was asked whether calorie counting is beneficial for those who are looking to lose weight and improve their fitness. Below is her response but before we jump into it, let's first define the subject at hand. 

What Is Calorie Counting?

Calorie counting is the act of adding together the caloric value of food(s) that one eats. The history of this practice dates back to 1900 when Wilbur Olin Atwater and his associates at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station determined the caloric values of a number of food components (i.e., the protein, fat, and carbohydrate isolated from various foods) by multiplying the heat of combustion of the food with correction factors that take into consideration incomplete digestion or oxidation of the food in the body. The conversion factors determined by Atwater and his associates remain in use today.

Why The Calorie Calculation Formula Is Skewed

Despite the fact Atwater built in various correction factors for caloric values, they do not account for:

  • variation of individual absorption
  • the influences of an individual's intestinal bacteria and that's affect on absorption (these change depending on history of travel, antibiotics and present diet)
  • variation in nutrient density of today’s foods compared to foods from those used in the Atwater research of 1900, which were less processed, more organic and more local
  • and they exclude many nutrients that were unknown in 1900 (the number of known nutrients to science in 1900 was fewer than 16 whereas now it's exponentially higher than that. 

Moreover, both meal timings and meal composition also have an impact on how calories are absorbed by the body.

Why A Calorie Isn't Just A Calorie

Now that we've looked at the history of calorie counting and why it can be considered inaccurate, here is Jennifer's further response to why calorie counting isn't worth it:

"Not all calories are created equal. Take the example of an ice cream cone versus an avocado: both are calorie-rich foods but the calories in the ice cream cone are considered "empty" because they don't offer the body any nutritional value. They simply spike our blood sugar and leave us feeling lower in energy after we eat them. However, the calories from real foods, like the avocado, offer the body nutrient-dense calories that are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Your body gains energy, antioxidants, and digestive support from the calories in real foods. But it's important to remember you can still overeat the good calories too. It's great to be mindful of how much we're eating, regardless of where the calories are coming from!"

It can be argued that Mountain Trek stresses specific (and different) caloric intake for women and men but this is a rough guideline and it's important to remember the entire nutrition tenant of the program includes many proven elements such as only eating real foods, abstaining from cortisol-raising foods such as sugar and caffeine and stressing the importance of meal timings and composition.

To fully appreciate the Mountain Trek nutrition program we suggest you book a stay with us. Contact us by phone or email to learn more. Alternatively, book online now.

5 Ways Alcohol Hinders Weight Loss

Alcohol Hinders Weight Loss

No single food item affects humans in so many varying and differing ways than alcohol. How it affects you specifically depends on genetics, diet, gender, potential ‘sensitivity’ to it and your habits.

While enrolled in the Mountain Trek program, we ensure our guests avoid alcohol to help with detoxification and weight loss. That’s not to say we recommend completely avoiding alcohol altogether, we just believe it’s important to get to know it’s impact on your body in order to make good decisions about when you do decide to have a drink.

To that end, below are five ways alcohol hinders weight loss. And if you’re interested in taking a break from booze this Thanksgiving Holiday season, then be sure to join us at Rancho la Puerta in Baja, Mexico where we’ll ply you with delicious food, sunshine and a proven-exercise regime that is guaranteed to help you lose weight.

1. All Alcohol Is Full of Calories

At seven calories per gram, alcohol supplies almost twice as many as protein and carbohydrates. In fact, alcohol has only two fewer calories than fat, which has nine per gram. It must also be remembered that the calories in alcohol lack the nutrients beneficial for a healthy metabolism and will therefore hasten fat storage.

The calories found in the average alcoholic drink are quite concentrated compared to many foods, and this actually causes one to inadvertently take in many more calories than would otherwise be consumed. Alcoholic drinks also contain calories from other sources, which add to overall caloric intake. Certain cocktails, for example, contain fats. Wine and beer both have high carbohydrate content. Although the affects these various calorie types have on the body are different – carbohydrates release insulin, which can hasten fat storage (unless we are active after imbibing), while fats will be stored directly in the fat cells – the overall result is added body fat.

An example of how many calories can be easily consumed can be seen with a small glass of wine: a 5-ounce glass of wine will typically contain 110 calories, 91 of which come from the alcohol itself (13 grams), with the remaining five grams coming from carbohydrates.
Beer contains more carbohydrates (except for “Lite” beers, which have a carb content similar to a glass of wine) and less alcohol than wine, but is seen as being more fattening, due to its higher energy content.

2. Alcohol Loosens The Inhibitions

While drinking, people usually will not stop to consider the impact alcohol is having on their bodies; such is alcohol’s affect on loosening the inhibitions. The result of this relaxed thinking could mean more (food) calories consumed and extra body fat gains. Those drinking might also eat more of the wrong kinds of food, without thinking of the consequences. (See #3.)

3. Alcohol Increases Appetite

Alcohol can increase appetite, making the combination of alcohol and a fattening meal all the more worse. In fact, a hormone linked to increased hunger, particularly hunger for high-fat foods, has been linked to cravings for alcohol. According to Medical News Today, a study conducted at Princeton University showed that the hunger-increasing hormone, known as gelanin, is produced when alcohol is consumed. Though the effect of increased gelanin on appetite and eating behaviors varies amongst individuals, there’s a good chance your consumption of alcohol increases your desire for high-fat foods. (ghelin?)

4. Alcohol Can Damage The Stomach, Lessening Its Efficiency

Given alcohol is a by-product of yeast digestion; it can have an irritating effect on the lining of the stomach and gradually weaken the kidneys and liver, leading to serious health problems. Any weakening of the stomach will lessen the rate and efficiency at which food is digested, which ultimately interferes with a healthy metabolism and the weight loss process.

5. Alcohol Lowers Testosterone

Testosterone, which has a powerful fat loss effect, is reduced whenever alcohol is consumed, thus halting its full potential as a fat burner. Also, testosterone as an anabolic hormone, contributes to gains in lean muscle mass. Lowered testosterone means fewer muscle gains, and less muscle means a lowered metabolic rate.

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Five Weight Loss Must-Haves for Every Kitchen

No doubt you have a fair few gadgets in your kitchen but there are really only a handful that are needed in order to ensure you stick to a healthy weigh-loss regimen. Here they are:

#1. Kitchen Scale

If you really want to get serious about weight loss then it’s important you understand portion size. Purchase an inexpensive food scale and weigh your food before you eat it. You’ll be surprised by how much you underestimate the amount you eat.

yellow-retro-kitchen-scale#2. Smaller Plates

Of course you can hold onto your larger plates for when you’re entertaining guests but for your regular, daily meals you should have a stack of plates handy that are no more than 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. That way you’ll ensure your portion sizes aren’t too large.

selection-of-plate-sizes-and-bowls

#3. Good Measuring Cups and Spoons

Like the kitchen food scale, these items are essential for maintaining portion sizes. You can be more free-form with the spices, but when it comes to fats, proteins and carbohydrates, it’s best to measure.

pink measuring cups and silver measuring spoons

#4. Water Jug

Having a beautiful looking jug on your counter top that’s always filled with room-temperature water will encourage you to drink more of it.

Three-glass-water-jugs

#5. Pedometer

OK, technically this isn’t a kitchen gadget but if it resides in your kitchen where you spend a lot of your time, then you’ll be more inclined to use it. Pedometers come in all shapes and sizes and most are inexpensive. Keep one around your kettle or breakfast food area so that when you wake up in the morning it’s there to remind you to get in your 10,000 steps per day.

pedometer

Bonus: A Tablet

Like the pedometer, this one isn’t exactly a kitchen gadget either, but with a tablet (or laptop or smart phone) you’ll be able to access recipe sites and social media sites, such as Pinterest, that offer excellent, delicious and interesting dishes to try. And in the near future there will be a Mountain Trek app that you’ll be able to use as well. Stay tuned for more about that exciting development!

tablet-in-the-kitchen

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Cinnamon Granola Recipe

Recipe for Cinnamon Granola

This delicious, gluten-free Cinnamon Granola recipe is perfect for breakfast because it’s easy to make and can be stored for weeks. The ingredient list below is enough to make eight servings.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups rolled oats (certified gluten free)
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp almond extract
½ tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F
  • Mix grains, nuts and seeds together on a large baking tray
  • Combine remaining ingredients together in a saucepan and heat briefly
  • Pour over nut/oat mixture and toss well to coat
  • Bake for 45 minutes until lightly toasted. Stir every 15 minutes to brown evenly
  • Cool before storing in airtight container
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Cuisine Secrets – 10 Ways to Cook Healthier

We are regularly asked by those who visit Mountain Trek how it is that our food is so delicious and yet we avoid using such “staples” as refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar. The good news is it’s simple: we just don’t have any of those things in our kitchen.

Here are 10 more secrets to healthy cooking, compliments of the chefs at Mountain Trek.

#1. Use Smart Fats

Coconut-Oil-Healthy-Fats

There are two types of fat: unsaturated, such as olive oil, and saturated, such as butter. Choose the first more often and only eat the latter in smaller doses.

#2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit-and-Vegetables

Stick to whole (unprocessed) grains such as wild rice and quinoa, which have more fibre, zinc and other nutrients.

#3. Go Unrefined

Unrefined-Honey-and-whole-flax-seeds

If you take nothing else away from these secrets, remember this: eat more vegetables and fruits and less of almost everything else.

#4. It’s Not All About the Meat

Dried-beans---not-all-about-meat

Meat is a source of protein but most also contain saturated fat. Eat small portions and substitute often with beans and legumes such as peas.

 

#5. Lessen Intake of Fat-Filled Dairy Products

Less-Dairy-Almond-Milk

Fat-free dairy products are usually full of artificial sweeteners, which are worse than fat in our opinion. Better to lessen your intake of fat-filled dairy all together.

#6. Keep Portions Reasonable

Portion-Control

At Mountain Trek we’re big proponents of healthy meal composition as well as meal timings. Remember to keep portions small and simple and eat the majority of your daily food before 5:00 pm.

#7. Avoid Sweeteners

avoid-sweeteners-cup-of-plain-tea

Whether you’re using unrefined honey or white sugar, you’re adding calories to your meal and hardly any nutritional value.

#8. Reduce Sodium

Reduce-Sodium---Spilled-salt-shaker

The recommended intake of salt per day is about a teaspoon – which you will get naturally in your food. Throw away that salt shaker.

#9. Go For the Flavour

Spices---Flavour-your-food

There are many other delicious ways to flavour your dishes than just using salt and pepper. Fresh herbs, spices and citrus will add punch to your meals without making you feel you’re missing out.

#10. Be Mindful and Enjoy

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In our current culture it’s so easy to just grab the most convenient thing in the cupboard and run. (Or worse, eat out for every meal.) But by putting more time and effort into your cooking you’ll be happier, healthier and enjoy a lot more vitality.

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Mountain Trek featured in Canada’s Largest Newspaper

globeandmail mt imageMountain Trek  was featured on the front cover of the Travel section of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper, this month:

“7 hours a day of  exercise…Welcome to your vacation.”

The Globe feature was written by Amy Rosen who found “bliss in a boot camp getaway.” She chronicled her experience in a diary-format and spoke of each day and what she ate, experienced, and witnessed from “halibut fish steaks with pineapple mango salsa” to “vibrant green old-growth forests.” This is an excerpt:

“Mountain Trek’s spa and fitness studio have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the 100-kilometre Kootenay Lake. There are gardens and wildflowers, mountains and blue skies. Meals are local, organic, plated – and mostly delicious, enjoyed by guests around family-style tables. So that’s the good news. Back at my weigh-in, the excuses fly: “I’ve been travelling a lot, no time for exercise. It’s summertime … and those gin and tonics aren’t going to drink themselves!” Until, finally, acceptance: I’ve gained a few on the rump. Let’s. Do. This.”

Click here to read Amy’s entire article, and to experience a similar personal transformation to what she did, contact Mountain Trek and we’ll let you know about what program would best suit your needs.

 

Smoothie or Juice: How to choose?

Smoothie vs JuicingThere’s a new smoothie and juice bar that opened up down the street from your office, your friend is loving her new smoothie kick, and they even got a blender to add to the staff kitchen at work. Whether you’re already fully on the juicing bandwagon or just curious, juicing and blending smoothies seems to be the latest health fad. But is this just a craze, or should we be incorporating smoothies and juices into our diet long term, because they really are so good for us? And what are the benefits of juicing, versus the benefits of smoothie-ing? In short, the craze couldn’t have come at a better time. With so many more ailments, health issues, and dis-ease coming up in the mainstream population, we certainly can all use several servings of fruits and veggies everyday – and juicing and smoothies are just the way to make this happen. Here we’ll uncover the top reasons to juice and blend, and how you can choose which to go for (or both!) based on your health goals, as well as some great recipe ideas to get you started.

Top Reasons To Juice

Great way to get your fruits and veggies According to the National Cancer Institute, the average American gets only 1.5 servings of vegetables, and no fruit per day. Yikes! Juicing also separates the vitamins and minerals from the pulp, and this allows the body to receive a mega-dose of vitamins that would be difficult to achieve eating that many veggies. Juicing can be a fast, delicious and easy way to get in more servings of the good stuff.

True Hydration Beyond being full of pure, clean water, fruits and veggies are also full of natural electrolytes and vitamins – the original vitamin water and sports drink, combined!

pH balance Our body is in a constant state of re-balancing our pH levels, and most of the time, due to the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and being stressed, our bodies are far too acidic. The alkalinity found in leafy green and other vegetables is just what we need to balance it all out.

Detox In addition to hydrating and balancing pH levels, juice detoxes the blood and organs. Enzymes found in the juice work immediately to cleanse the blood, re-energizing the body. Add a little lemon and ginger, and not only are you aiding digestion, but you’re cleansing the liver too.

Juicing Tips:

  • When you juice, you miss out on the fibre in the pulp. But not to worry, no waste necessary – you can mix some of the pulp back in to get a fibre-rich juice, or even use the pulp in cooking, for example; mix into veggies burgers, broths for soups, or cooking rice, etc.
  • When juicing, put through your leafier, less juicy items first, followed by your juicier fruits and veg (i.e. spinach and kale before cucumber and apple). The juicier goods will help push through and extract the juice from the not-so-juicy ingredients.

Top Reasons to Smoothie

Get Your Fruits & Veggies: Like juicing, smoothies provide a fast and delicious way to get loads of fruits and veggies when you might not ordinarily. For our on-the-go lifestyles, smoothies can be that easy way to get your nutrients and daily intake of fruit and veggies.

Protein Punch Not only can we get our daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies from our smoothies, but we can get a protein boost too. There are many different options out there, so ensure you are choosing a high quality protein powder.

Quality Ingredients Since you’re the one blending, you know exactly what’s going in to your smoothie. Understanding healthy smoothie choices means understanding healthy diet choices. This will allow you to have food confidence, and make better food choices when the blender isn’t around.

Improved Digestion A blended meal or snack is pre-chewed by your blender, easing the burden on your digestive organs, thereby leading to healthier overall body function.And because your body is getting such a direct serving of high quality nutrients, chances are you’ll feel fuller longer, cutting appetite, and helping with weight loss.

Smoothie Tips:

  • Nut or seed butters turn a healthy smoothie into a creamy, smoother smoothie. And, they add that extra hit of protein!
  • Your liquid in smoothies needn’t just be water – experiment with almond or rice milk, chilled green or herbal tea, coconut water, or even juice!
  • Next time you feel like dessert, why not go for a smoothie instead? If you can think of a dessert, chances are you can concoct a smoothie with similar flavours. Use vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder, sweeten any combo of fruits and veggies with medjool dates or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

Incorporating smoothies, juices, or both, to your everyday diet can be a delicious, nutritious way to get many of the vitamins and minerals the body needs to stay energized. So whether you want to lose weight, detox, have the a real food multivitamin, or just enjoy an absolutely delicious meal or snack, blending and juicing can be your answer. Get creative in the kitchen with a recipe or improvise, and be sure to let us know if you come up with a winning combination. Let your culinary creativity go bananas (maybe literally), and have fun juicing and blending!