Nutrition

Learn more about Nutrition and it’s effect on living a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition is a factor in stress and weight gain.

The Cause of your low energy and how to fix it

Feeling tired and low on energy has a dramatic effect on your life. Being low on energy reduces productivity, happiness, longevity, and your overall health. Understanding what causes a lack of energy and how to fix it is critical, and what we aim to share with you in this article.

What Causes Low Energy

Essentially all life in the universe is composed of energy. And, energy (which is never created or destroyed) is constantly changing into one form and through utilization or decay into another. In the cells of our human body, we take in thermo-electric energy from our sun that has been converted into plant life (and up the food chain into animal life) in the form of glucose (sugar). Tiny organelles in each of our cells called mitochondria convert the sugar transported by blood (“blood sugar”) into energy to power every organ, muscle, and neuron. These 1000-2500 power houses extract energy from food and supply it to all parts of every cell in an energy currency called ATP. The healthier and more efficient our mitochondria are, the healthier and more efficient our bodies are.

How To Fix Low Energy

Now if energy is never created or destroyed, how come we feel like we are losing energy? Aging and our lifestyle choices affect the efficiency and longevity of our mitochondria. Oxidation (the bombardment of mitochondria and other cell components with “free radical” electrons from energy production), nutrient deficiencies, and environmental toxins are the root causes. According to Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, “the better a species does at protecting its mitochondria, the longer a species lives”. So, in a nutshell, we need to ensure our lifestyle supports our mitochondria operating efficiently.

Optimize Your Nutrition and Meal Timing

The primary way mitochondria are protected from ‘oxidative stress’ is through plant-based dietary building blocks containing CoQ10, manganese, glutathione, and vitamin E from omega 3 oils. Then there is the need for rest. Intermittent Fasting for as close as possible to 12 hrs through the night, gives the mitochondria a break from energy production so they can repair and regenerate.

Reduce Toxin Exposure

Decreasing toxin exposure (plastics, petrochemicals, heavy metals, alcohol, etc.) lessons damage.

Build Muscle Mass

And, building muscle mass counters the diminishing number of mitochondria as we age. Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates warn us about sedentarism contributing to a loss of muscle mass prematurely lowering our number of mitochondria and ATP production. Strength training rebuilds energy-producing mitochondria in our muscle cells.

Reduce Stress Hormone Cortisol

Stress reduction is important to lowering cortisol which through both the increase of inflammation and reduction of ATP production becomes another energy zapper.

Prioritize Sleep

It’s one thing to target longevity through incorporating as many balanced health lifestyle habits as possible (refer to the previous blog on Blue Zone Centenarian lifestyle commonalities), but living consciously now with a focus on supporting our cellular energy engines and maintaining a charged battery with deep sleep will keep you feeling youthful until your ‘due date’.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

How Chronic Inflammation Causes Metabolic Disease, Dementia, and Cancer

According to the Mayo Clinic, 90% of the illnesses they deal with are caused by lifestyle, while only 10% are congenital. These are illnesses we have all come to accept as just a part of life, aging, and luck; demential, diabetes, and cancer to name a few. But now, more than ever, we are realizing that there is something familiar, yet very misunderstood at root of those lifestyle illnesses: inflammation. Specifically, chronic inflammation.

Acute Vs. Chronic Inflammation

Acute inflammation is the body’s immune and repair response to an injury or a harmful substance or invader entering our body. Low-grade chronic inflammation is the result of an imbalance in our immune function due to ongoing stress or lifestyle choices that keep our immune system working overtime. Research is showing us that balanced health measures that prioritize regular movement (through a variety of exercises), an anti-inflammatory fiber-rich diet, deep regular 7-9 hr sleep, and stress-reducing activities like meditation coupled with trauma resolution therapy, counter chronic inflammation and reduce the likelihood of contracting these and other diseases.

Chronic Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke (and its contribution to dementia), and cancer. These conditions include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, abnormal negative cholesterol levels, and chronic inflammation from an overactive immune system. Metabolic syndrome, obesity (over 30% body fat), and type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance) are interconnected. All 3 are linked by genetic markers, overeating an unhealthy diet, and lack of consistent movement/exercise… as well as a chronic state of inflammation in the body. Most of us think that fat cells are inert storage containers, however, newer research has shown that belly fat is metabolically active and produces pro-inflammatory substances that contribute to insulin resistance. It’s confusing, but chronic low-grade inflammation has been identified as both a cause and consequence of metabolic syndrome!

Chronic Inflammation and Cancer

When infections, autoimmune responses, or conditions such as obesity go unchecked the ensuing inflammation can promote the growth and replication of cancer cells. Type 2 diabetes (from insulin resistance) is associated with a higher risk of liver, pancreas, ovary, lung, bladder, and breast cancers. According to Harvard Health reports, chronic inflammation and high blood sugar levels also contribute to the general development of cancer cells through the damage to cellular DNA and the creation of an environment hospitable to cancer growth. An estimated 1 in 5 cancer cases stem from a combination of excess fat stores, inactivity, poor nutrition, excess alcohol use, and unresolved stressors.

Chronic Inflammation and Dementia

Dementia including Alzheimer’s, like heart disease, has its root cause in plaque build up in arteries and between neurons. Research still isn’t clear about what is behind these protein deposits, but what we know is the protein plaque deposits in brain tissue and cardiac arteries initiate an immune response. Microglia and white blood cells will attempt to eradicate the plaque, but it isn’t as easy to destroy as viruses or harmful bacteria. Cytokines and other inflammatory chemicals are released in a long-held effort which amps up the immune system creating more chronic inflammation. Research is also seeing how chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, atherosclerotic heart disease, and diabetes have been linked to an increased risk for depression! Recent findings suggest inflammation may increase depression risk by suppressing the birth of new brain cells (neurogenesis).

Though there are many ongoing experiments and tests utilizing medications like anti-inflammatories to help turn off an over-functioning immune system and lower chronic inflammation, the safest and most effective approach is to focus on lifestyle interventions like diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep depth, and detoxification.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Food Sensitivities and Elimination Diets

We all inhabit different bodies. With that comes an almost infinite variety of genetic variations, four different blood types, and unique reactions to our inner and outer environments. Some of us have allergies to pollen, bee venom, nuts, or shellfish. Some of us get runny noses in the spring and some of us have itchy skin when we wear wool. Just as there are no two fingerprints the same in all of humanity, there is no digestive or immune system alike.

When our body finds a certain food difficult to digest, it can be like a stressor to our internal organs. If we eat too much of a particular food or eat it too often, it can not only inflame our intestinal tract but can also invoke our immune system to counteract the food particle’s effects once it passes into our bloodstream. This adds even more stress on many of our systems. Our stress hormone cortisol will rise, our mucous membranes may become inflamed, and our energy levels will drop as our body fights to eliminate the unwanted particles. A variety of symptoms ranging from those that are barely noticeable to some that are chronically depleting are unique to each of us. To add to this complexity, if we’ve been consuming certain foods over a lifetime, we may not be mindful that our body finds certain items distressing as we have desensitized ourselves to the symptoms or the energy drain.

Determining whether any particular food stresses our bodies can seem daunting. But if we take the approach of being an investigator, and bring mindful curiosity and a willingness to experiment with our nutrition, it is possible to become free of the internal stress and regain health and vitality. There are three basic categories of digestive and immune difficulties when it comes to eating.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are typically an acute immune response to proteins in certain foods that our body isn’t designed to digest and assimilate. Common allergies are shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts. The reaction is often so strong that it can be life threatening.

Food Intolerances

Food intolerances are non-immune based responses to difficulty digesting certain foods. These substances may be certain sugars or proteins which we are not genetically able to produce the digestive components to down and assimilate them. This inability can lead to digestive inflammation. An example could be lactose a sugar found in dairy foods not being able to be broken down by people who stop producing lactase after the age of 2.

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities are again unique to each of us and could be to certain chemical compounds that are found naturally in certain foods like alkaloids in the ‘nightshade’ family, or histamines in fermented food and beverages, dried fruits and avocados, or salicylates found in some foods and medications such as aspirin. We can also be highly sensitive to certain chemical compounds found in our food such as pesticides (like glyphosate), and food additives. These foods or substances cause a delayed immune reaction that may not peak symptomatically for 3 days after ingestion, making it difficult to pin point the stress causing culprit.

Common symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances

  • Bloating in our lower belly after eating including gas and or water retention in the bowels.
  • Irregular bowel movements or stool consistency.
  • Water retention throughout the body.
  • Joint pain.
  • Sniffling, runny nose, postnasal drip, or sneezing.
  • Itchy skin or skin eruptions like eczema, or acne.
  • Brain fog, headaches, low energy, mood shifts.
  • Asthma or other respiratory difficulties.
  • Poor depth of sleep.
  • Low functioning immune system leading frequent bouts of cold and flu.
  • Cravings for carb, fat, and salt snacks to offset the increased levels of cortisol from internal stress on our digestive and immune system.

Health professionals like a Naturopathic Dr., or Allopathic Dr. (MD) can help determine whether we are reacting to an allergy, intolerance or sensitivity. They may employ blood work, or a skin prick sampling of a specific food or chemical to look for immune or inflammation measures. At Mountain Trek, we prefer utilizing an “Elimination Diet”, in conjunction with a Naturopathic Dr., where you strategically remove suspected foods and chemicals for 14-30 days. Important to this effort is mindfully self monitoring and journalling to track physical, mental, emotional and energetic reactions when carefully and strategically adding items back into our diet. It is worth the experiment to reclaim our balanced health and energy!

Learn more about symptoms and elimination diets from Mountain Trek’s Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Kimberley.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: How Do I Stop My After-Work Wine Habit?

Pretty, young woman drinking some nice red wine at home, in the evening after work on her sofa (color toned image; shallow DOF)

Q: How do I stop my after-work wine habit?

A: Making new choices isn’t easy, even when we consciously know what we might prefer to do—such as kicking the after-work wine habit (substitute any post-work relaxation habit you may wish to replace). We are wired, by our survival instincts, to hunt down carbs, fats, and salts, so it’s no wonder our taste buds are a primary means for rest and relaxation in our culture—eating tells us we’re safe. But being seduced by our tongue will often derail our evenings and, subsequently, affect our sleep and following day. If this pattern repeats we will typically wake up one day and find ourselves in a hole that is tough to climb out of. However, one of the blessings of our new work-from-home reality is that we have newfound time to cement new healthy habits. With the additional time once spent on commute and travel, we can now repeat a new action more frequently and anchor it into a healthy lifestyle habit in less time.

Know it’s a need, not a want

It’s very common to want to relax and reward our efforts at the end of the day. Come 5 pm or 8 pm, or whenever it is you get home from work, cortisol (our stress hormone) has been elevated all day, helping us stay focused and on-task with zoom meetings, calls, and a mountain of emails, we’ve made thousands of choices and decisions, and our willpower is spent. Now, our brain is craving a relaxing bath of feel-good neurotransmitters—serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin—to help us let go of it all. This craving to feel good is actually a “need” we need to be conscious of if we want to make different choices at the end of the day to unwind. Our bodies need to unwind after a full day spent in a stressful, vigilant state. We are wired this way in order to regain some semblance of balance and not physically burn out (aka survive). So, whether it’s that glass of wine or perhaps some chips and guacamole, know that you are consuming these carbs, fats, and salts because of a primal need to slow down and find balance.

Rather than thinking about your post-work choice as a “should” (e.g. I should go work out, or I should eat a healthy snack), remember it’s a “need”. If you don’t proactively answer that need, your body will resort to those feel-good fats, carbs, and salts to comfort itself. Take time to honestly reflect on what need is not being met. Then you can more easily find other sources of pleasure to satiate this need.

Find Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives that could be woven into your workweek as a replacement to snacks and alcohol—proactive, healthy alternatives that will fill your need for feeling good at the end of a stressful workday, lower your cortisol levels, and bathe your body with ‘feel good’ hormones:

  • Pet an animal lovingly for 10 minutes.
  • Go for a 20-minute walk in nature. “Warm-up” your hike by spending the first 5 minutes focusing your awareness on sights, sounds, smells, and even touch. This will slow your mind down and bring it to the present moment, reducing cortisol and anxiety.
  • Meditate in a quiet nurturing place for 5 minutes.
  • Spend 20 minutes working on something creative to get into the ‘flow state’. Some great options are gardening, playing an instrument, writing poetry, or tying fishing flies—anything that captures your attention and is solely for your joy.
  • Connect your mind and body with your breath while unwinding on the yoga mat for 20 minutes.

Document Your Intentions and Experience

Make a list of 3-5 benefits that you might receive by altering your after-work routine. This will give your effort significantly more meaning. Next, write down three obstacles that could derail your efforts and match each of those obstacles with three solutions (contingency options determined in advance). Now you’re fully prepared for any curveballs.

Frequently stop, take a few breaths, and notice thoughts and feelings. Journal (before bed or after awakening is best) the insights you have noticed about your sleep, digestion, moods, mental focus, energy levels, and replacement choices. Be curious. This will help you notice and appreciate the benefits of your new habit-to-be.

Manage Cues

Cues are triggers for your bad habit. Common cues are time of day, such as happy hour, physically seeing your favorite bottle sitting on the counter when you walk in from work, your emotions, such as stress or exhaustion, and people that you may typically drink with. You should let your best friends know that you’re working on changing your habits, so when you decline their invites for happy hour, they understand why.

Create Your Own Positive Cues

Replace negative cues with positive ones. Consider setting an alarm on your phone right at 5 pm reminding you of your goals and suggesting one of your replacement actions. Write a note to yourself and stick it to your wine fridge. Put a sticky note on your office door that reminds you of your goals right as you leave work. There are so many other creative ways to help you snap out of the post-work trance and make a mindful decision on how you want to spend your evening.

Be Kind To Yourself

Do your best to be kind to yourself as you start the processes of nurturing yourself (rather than soothing or numbing) after work. Strive not for perfection, or you can certainly expect internal rebellion. Take baby steps on your journey up the mountain. Begin by setting goals that are seemingly trivial—e.g. one night a week where you have a healthy after-work activity. Then, after a few weeks of this, move on to two nights a week. Stop at no more than 5 nights a week to leave yourself room to be human.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: Why is sugar bad?

Q: Why is sugar so bad for us, and why is it so hard to avoid?

A: First, let’s redefine “bad”. Sugar, or glucose, is not “bad” for us—in fact, it is an essential form of energy for the cells of our brain and body. Our tongue even has a specific taste bud allocated to finding it for our survival. The problem with sugar is when it’s added in addition to naturally occurring sugars. This “added-sugar” is so prevalent in our manufactured food that we are taking in way too much, way too often. Let’s shed some light on “too much”; in the year 1700, the average amount of sugar intake, including natural sugars, was approximately 4lbs per person annually. That like two nalgenes full of sugar. In the year 1800, sugar cane plantations made it more available than just to the wealthy, and the average increased to 18lbs. By 1900 it was around 40lbs per person per year. Today? Depending on the study you read, the American consumes between 60 and 150lbs per adult annually! That’s like a wheelbarrow full of sugar…

This number is so high because sugar is now added to everything. The American Heart Association has put out a recommendation to limit added-sugar to no more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories) of added-sugar per day for men, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) for women. That gets immediately allocated with just one 12oz can of soda. Forget the fat-free salad dressing or ketchep for our french fries or vanilla yogurt that all have equal amounts of sugar. Today, almost everything that has been prepared for us has sugar added to enhance flavor or shelf-life.

To be fair, a vast amount of our food contains natural sugars. The obvious is fruit. The less obvious, however—starchy “simple carbs” like pasta, white rice, bread, crackers, and so on. The starch in these carbohydrates is a carbon chain of sugar molecules that is broken down into blood sugar by the amalayse in our saliva. By the time these foods are broken down they aren’t much different than table sugar.

But there’s a massive difference between whole natural sources of sugar like fruit or fiber covered carbohydrates like whole grains and the sugar added to soda. These natural sources of sugar come with an added benefit of fiber, which helps us avoid the ‘sugar bomb’ by slowing down the digestion of sugar, which avoids a blood sugar spike and the consequential insulin spike which leads to insulin resistance the main cause of type 2 diabetes. So, this leaves us with added-sugar and simple carbs as leading causes why Harvard labeled sugar as one of the greatest threats to our cardiovascular health. 

Some other negative health symptoms from eating too much sugar or simple carbs are:
– Premature aging as sugar can damage skin proteins, collagen, and elastin leading to premature wrinkles.
– Increased inflammation, weakened immune and hormonal imbalance as undesirable gut bacteria and yeasts that live off sugar out-compete our fiber eating positive flora communities.
– Constant cravings are a part of the dopamine reward system that our brain has been wired for survival. The Food industry capitalizes on the addictive quality of sugar in processed food.
– Inconsistent energy levels as our pancreas manages the sugar bomb with insulin and we experience an energy spike followed by a drop and crash.
– Bloating from sugar bugs off-gassing and of course belly fat
– Diseases like Heart and Cardiovascular disease, Fatty Liver, and Diabetes

To avoid excess sugar intake, avoid the top processed food sources; soda, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices, grain- and dairy-based desserts. But be aware that even ketchup has as much added sugar per gram as a soda!

To add to the fact that sugar is now present in nearly everything we eat, it also elicits a dopamine response when consumed. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone, so we can actually get addicted to sugar because of the chemical response it causes. To work with dopamine-driven sugar cravings, employ mindfulness moments to ask the following questions before reaching into the fridge:

  • “Is this really what I need right now (or is it a want)?
  • what am I feeling?
  • what am I thinking?
  • what do I really need right now (if I feel, exhausted, bored, overworked, lonely, sad, etc)? Perhaps a glass of water or a crisp apple and a few nuts could meet my hunger and energy needs while connecting with a close friend could help on the emotional side.

We hope this article helps you curb your sugar intake!


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Pros and Cons of Keto, Whole30 + Intermittent Fasting

cutting board and knife with healthy nutritious vegetables and eggs

Are you thinking about trying a new diet? Quick fixes that jolt our systems are tempting to turn to, but we encourage lasting lifestyle changes. While fad diets may be tempting, there are both pros and cons to Keto, Whole30, and Intermittent Fasting.

No diet is worth doing if you can’t do it for the rest of your life.

We asked our nutritionist Jenn Keirstead to weigh in on a couple of popular diet fads. She details how restrictive programs can lead to yo-yo dieting – rapid weight loss followed by a rebound that sees you gaining everything, and sometimes even more, back – and why you should invest in a sustainable long-term nutrition plan.

Pros and Cons of the Keto Diet

The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates.

At its core, this is an extreme version of the low-carb diet. When you deprive your body of all carbohydrates, your body must use ketones as fuel. To put your body in a state of ketosis, around 80% of your diet must come from fat.

Pros of Keto

Promotes healthy fats

In the 90s, fat got a bad rap, but it’s crucial to our bodies. Fats, (animal-sourced or otherwise) can offer an excellent variety of fat, protein, and vitamins. However, it’s extremely important to source the highest quality. Look for certified organic, grass-fed/pasture-raised, or visit your local Farmers’ Market and talk to people responsible for raising your food.

Besides promoting a diet ample in healthy fats, there’s not much else that is terribly healthy or sustainable about this highly restrictive eating style.

Cons of Keto

Cuts out key nutrients

The Ketogenic diet is one of the most restrictive diets on the market. Your diet is limited to 15-20 grams of carbohydrates/day — the equivalent of a small handful of baby carrots. This leaves out most fruits and vegetables, which can deliver crucial nutrients.

Unsustainable

This biggest issue with this diet is what will happen once the person adds carbohydrates back into their diets. Hint: you might gain some of that weight back.

Pros and Cons of the Whole30 Diet

Whole30 is a 30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets. Whole30 is similar to but more restrictive than the paleo diet, as adherents may not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

Whole30 has gained popularity due to its “challenge program” style, which is designed to restart your body and change how you think about food. This diet is described as a whole foods approach to eating, and I’m certainly an advocate of eating real food.

Pros of Whole30

Introduces a variety of whole foods

The advantage of experimenting with a diet such as this is that you’re introduced to many new, healthful foods. Whole food types of diets tend to involve more time spent in the kitchen. Cooking from home can be a wonderful way to gain more control over the quality of your food, which of course, is a fantastic advantage to your health.

Cons of Whole30

Cuts out food groups we love

The challenge is not just to eliminate processed and packaged foods from your life for 30 days — You are also instructed to avoid beans/legumes, starchy vegetables, dairy, grains, sugar (including natural sweeteners), and alcohol. From our vantage point, moderate amounts of beans, legumes, dairy, and grains are good for your body. Unless you plan on never eating them again, you risk putting the weight right back on once you reintroduce them.

Too restrictive

One of the common cautions you’ll hear related to Whole30 is how restrictive it is. It’s a diet based on highly rigid rules and “slip-ups” are unfortunately unacceptable. If you “slip” you start over. The rules may make it feel impossible to be successful on a diet like this, and like many challenges or diets, that can be detrimental to one’s self-esteem. Restrictive behaviors with food may also trigger disordered eating in susceptible individuals.

Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, or intermittent calorie restriction, is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting during a defined period.

Intermittent fasting includes everything from periodic multi-day fasts to skipping a meal or two on certain days of the week. The theory is that this type of diet will help decrease appetite by slowing the body’s metabolism.

Pros of Intermittent Fasting

The body should take some breaks between eating

Fasting can be beneficial, and we believe it’s best done in the evening, continuing on throughout the night while you’re sleeping. An earlier dinner allows for 3-4 hours before bed without food, which helps support proper digestion and — as an added bonus —potentially a much deeper sleep.

You’ll feel hungry when you wake

Another benefit is you will feel hungry when you wake and therefore be encouraged to eat during the earlier part of the day when you’re more likely to burn the calories off. Studies also show that our hormones, enzymes, and digestive systems are biologically best prepared for food intake in the morning and early afternoon.

Cons of Intermittent Fasting

Can cause overeating

There’s a strong biological push to overeat following fasting periods. Your appetite hormones and the hunger center in your brain go into overdrive when you are deprived of food.

Unbalances blood sugar levels

Restricting calories during the day can lead to unbalanced blood sugar levels, which not only promotes low energy levels but the desire to overeat at the end of the day when the body is gearing down for sleep. The idea of “rest, not digest” is a concept that assists in the digestion of your food hours before bedtime, so that your body can fall into a deep sleep on an empty stomach. This also promotes hunger in the early morning, when your body needs the calories the most.

In a nutshell, fads deliver quick results – they don’t provide long-term solutions. Rapid health resets can be beneficial, but know what you’re getting into. Find a wellness approach you can commit to, if not for life, for the foreseeable future. Learn more about our approach to balanced nutrition.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia and featuring daily sunrise yoga and night-time restorative yoga, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: What is OMAD and is it healthy?

Plate with cooked salmon and veggies on blank table

Q: What is OMAD and is it healthy?

A: OMAD means One Meal A Day. The “One Meal a Day” diet is gaining popularity for its simplicity and supposed benefits. The premise behind this eating plan is that you eat one meal a day—ONE meal, that’s it! You have a 1-hour eating window, where you consume your single meal, but the other 23 hours are spent in a fasted state. This means no calories whatsoever, including beverages!

During this 1-hour eating window, you can eat and drink whatever and as much as you want. This includes ice cream, french fries, and wine. Yes, that right, any food, and any amount—as long as you do so during your scheduled mealtime. Some modifications include only eating as much as you can fit on one dinner plate, or only piling your plate up to 3″ high. Regardless of the specifics, the underlying belief is that you can only consume so many calories in one hour. That amount of calories will always be less than you burn for the other 23, therefore having a calorie deficit for the day and leading to weight loss.

An Expert’s Opinion

We took this question straight to our nutritionist, Jenn. Here is what she had to say:

This 23:1 fasting:eating plan screams extreme to me! Here are some reasons why:

  • In terms of blood sugar management, this eating style could be very damaging. During the one hour window in which any food—in any amount—is consumed, your blood sugar levels would spike substantially.
  • When I try and imagine someone spending nearly the entire day avoiding food and beverages altogether, I see a trend that’s entirely unsustainable in the long term.
  • Eating in this way could be very isolating; resulting in missed social engagements, due to food avoidance.
  • Such dietary restriction could encourage an unhealthy relationship with food.
  • A diet such as this could lead to binge eating, a preoccupation with food in general, extreme hunger, and low energy during the 23 hour fasting period.
  • If someone was to choose highly processed foods (high in refined sugar and salt) for their one-meal, it could easily lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Here is our favorite quote from Jenn: it all just seems so ridiculous! As I’m researching this, I feel like I’m being punked!

Healthy and Sustainable Choices for Results

We agree with you, Jenn. This diet seems about as far from balanced as you can get. At Mountain Trek, we believe and have proven, that eating a balanced diet is not only the most effective for increasing energy levels, balancing hormones, and weight loss, it is sustainable. Our plan incorporates intermittent fasting, but we follow a “12 on, 12 off” schedule, eating for the first 12 hours of our day (ideally from 6 am to 6 pm) and then fasting for the next 12 hours. This promotes better sleep, reduces calorie storage, lowers LDL cholesterol levels, and reduces the potential for insulin resistance (precursor to type 2 diabetes).

Eating during the day is important. Your body and brain are most active for the first 12 hours of your day, and they both need fuel to operate. We break our calorie intake during those 12 hours into 6 meals, starting with a smoothie immediately upon waking (ideally within 30 minutes). Continuing to eat every 2-3 hours allows us to stay ahead of hunger (when we make poor decisions) and ultimately, balance both our energy levels (no highs and crashes) and hormones. The end result is a sustainable balanced, nutritious plan that feeds our bodies the calories we need when we need them.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

The Truth About Superfoods

The term “superfood” has taken on a life of its own.

Superfoods are commonly defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” They consist primarily of dark green leafy vegetables, berries, fish, nuts, healthy oils (e.g. olive oil or avocado oil), and a few other nutrient power-houses.

What is a Superfood?

There is an alternate definition, however, that you should be aware of. “Superfood is a marketing term for food assumed to confer health benefits resulting from an exceptional nutrient density.” There are a couple of critical words in that definition; “marketing term” and “assumed”.

Harvard Medical school points out, in the first line of their article on superfoods, “No single food — not even a superfood — can offer all the nutrition, health benefits, and energy we need to nourish ourselves”. The idea that the term superfood is being used as a trendy marketing tool gives us cause for concern—not with the superfoods themselves, but with our understanding and knowledge of how to include superfoods into our diet. We want to avoid the belief that one food provides a healthy diet, prevents illness, and elongates your life.

For example, take the company Laird Superfood. The company was founded by surf legend Laird Hamilton on the principle that if he added some superfood nutrients to his coffee, his day would be off to an optimal start. Although this may increase the nutritional value of your coffee, it by no means replaces a proper, wholesome breakfast, as it’s advertised. It’s this type of thinking we want to prevent. In reality, breakfast is the most critical meal of the day. Eating a balanced, whole-food breakfast will help balance your hormones and has been proven to increase anabolic metabolism by 15%. It should be so much more than just a cup of coffee supplemented with a few nutrients.

Superfoods can certainly be nutritious, but the term can often be more useful for driving sales than providing optimal nutrition recommendations

When food is given superfood status, it causes people to fixate on a few specific foods. Thus limiting them from eating other equally nutritious options that aren’t as hyped. Variety in your diet is important not only to gain the benefit of eating a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals but also to prevent one from eating too much (or too little) of a particular nutrient. It also keeps your meals interesting and flavorful!

Eat Super-plates, not just Superfoods

All whole, unprocessed foods are super in different ways! The more diversity of whole foods you consume, the more varied your nutrient profile will be. Increased varieties of nutrients in your diet offers more protection against disease and illness. Instead of focusing on just one superfood, we suggest thinking about creating Superplates by incorporating a wide variety of whole foods.

The healthiest diets of the world are all different and include a wide variety of foods that offer diverse nutrient profiles. When studying cultural diets across the globe, you’ll see that there’s no one perfect diet. Each diet offers different food grown in those specific regions. In other words, you don’t need the Himalayan goji berry in your diet to achieve your best health. Goji berries are called a superfood because they contain chemical compounds called phytochemicals that are produced by plants. You can find similar health benefits in everyday fruits and veggies, like organic rainbow carrots, fresh leafy green vegetables, and even cauliflower and broccoli.

A delicious blueberry is another great example of a holy grail superfood that ranks high on superfood lists. For good reason, yes! Purple and dark red colored foods are the signatures of a special class of natural antioxidants called anthocyanins. Antioxidants are extremely important, as they reduce inflammation, and help to remove harmful substances from the body. However, blueberries aren’t the only food with this color. You’ll also find anthocyanins in red cabbage, red onion, purple carrots, and beautiful beets.

Balanced plates lead to balanced health

Over two decades of helping people reset their health and find a sustainable lifestyle, we have found that in order to reach our most optimal health it’s best to have a balance of fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and detoxification. Someone who is fit and able to run a marathon, but only sleeps 4 hours a night, is not healthy. Someone who eats properly, but sits all day, is not healthy. So too goes this principle of balance for nutrition and superfoods—we cannot just eat one superfood and be healthy. We must eat a balanced super-plate, with a variety of whole foods for a sustainable diet that provides tons of energy, nutrients, and antioxidants. A diet that will leave YOU feeling SUPER.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

How To Reset Your Health In 48 Hours

a woman sitting on a hiking trail meditating

It’s perfectly understandable that spending an entire week eating healthfully, hiking through lush nature, sleeping well, exercising, and detoxifying will do wonders for your mind and body. But you might be shocked to hear that with the right strategy and a little bit of motivation, you can make a profound impact on your health in just 48 hours. That means that in just one weekend, you can right the ship, take the reins, and restore the balance of your health. It’s not a walk in the park (well, you actually might take a walk in the park) but your body will thank you for dedicating just one single weekend to yourself.

We’ve been running our Basecamp weekend retreats in response to the COVID crisis. Guests spend one weekend (Friday 3 pm – Sunday evening) following our program and working virtually alongside our expert team. And we have to say—the results have been absolutely amazing. Participants are feeling significantly lighter, recharged, and reset. We’ve distilled this amazing weekend into an easy to follow 4-step guide so you can reset your health in the span of 48 hours, and emerge from a healthy weekend feeling like the best version of yourself.

Step 1) Make a bulletproof schedule

The last thing you want to be doing all weekend is constantly trying to decide “what’s next”. This will prevent you from fully sinking into the weekend. Sit down and write your 48-hour schedule on a piece of paper. Make sure to include the following critical elements:

Nutrition

Eat 6 times per day, starting immediately upon waking, and consume your calories within a 12-hour window. Give your metabolism a break for the other 12 hours (Intermittent Fasting). Eat most of your calories early in the day and then taper off moving towards night-time. Eat organic, plant-based food when available, and avoid processed food, added sugar, and alcohol.

Fitness

Move your body as much as possible throughout the day. We weren’t designed to sit, so let’s try to do as little of that as possible this weekend. Time your exercise for after your meals to begin understanding the value of food as fuel, not a coping mechanism. Begin your day with yoga (after a smoothie), then after breakfast do a HIIT or other functional fitness class. After lunch, spend a long time outside in nature, walking for either 40 minutes at a vigorous pace, or 90 minutes at a leisurely rate. Then, following dinner, tackle one more functional fitness class and end your night with restorative yoga.

Sleep

After a full day of exercise and eating properly, you have some building blocks for great sleep. Ensure you not only get enough hours of sleep, but also a deep sleep. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil 90 minutes prior to bed, don’t let your phone cross the threshold of your room, ensure your room is the right temperature and is dark, and do a relaxation technique while laying down. Read our full guide to great sleep for more tips.

Stress relief/management

Make sure to include relaxation time. Mindfulness is a highly potent tool for stress relief. If you already have a practice, carve out a large chunk of time of your weekend to dive deeper than you have in the past. If mindfulness is new to you, take this weekend as an opportunity to dip your toes in. Schedule a couple of 5-10 minute guided meditations sessions, ideally early in the morning and then again before bed.

Creating a schedule can be difficult, so we’re happy to share ours. If you actually want to follow along, all of the recipes and exercises are linked (click the image first), and you can find a shopping list below

Step 2) Prepare for success

Once your schedule is in place, it’s time to commit and get ready to immerse in the weekend. There are three critical components to preparing:

Ensure you have the right equipment—for our schedule, you need the following:

  • Kitchen with basic cooking tools
  • Blender
  • Yoga mat
  • Yoga strap (could be a belt or tie, etc.)
  • Firm blanket or pillow (for morning yoga)
  • 3 large firm pillows (e.g. couch cushions—for restorative yoga)
  • Light weights (2-5lbs) or substitute (soup cans or water bottles)
  • Running shoes
  • A chair (used for stability during exercise classes)
  • Water bottle

Shop for your ingredients 2-3 days prior to the weekend

View a shopping list for our schedule

Remove as many distractions as possible

Carve out this time for you. It’s only 48 hours, so almost everything can wait. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues that you are going to immerse yourself in this experience and request they only call, text, or email if it’s an emergency. This will reduce your stress and anxiety. Get baby sitters for the kids if you have them, or make a plan with your partner to watch them for the weekend. Be selfish for just this one weekend.

Step 3) Instill accountability

We’ve talked the talk. It’s time to walk the walk. While investing in an experience like Mountain Trek and spending time with our expert staff, whether that be a full week at the lodge to really dive deep into your health transformation or just a weekend for a quick tune-up, will provide you the accountability you need to succeed, it isn’t always an option. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and tricks to instill accountability on your own:

Form a “tribe”

The best thing you could possibly do is gather a small group of your closest allies and do the healthy weekend reset together. Sharing your experience with others has been proven to dramatically increase your chances of success and will make the experience more memorable and enriching. Create a group text thread dedicated to the weekend and have nightly Zoom calls to touch base and discuss your experience and progress.

Share your intentions

If no one is able to join you, share what you are attempting to accomplish with a close friend, family member, or colleague. Detail to them what you are doing the healthy weekend and what you are hoping to accomplish. Ask them to check in with you on Sunday about how it went. Just knowing that someone else is aware of your goals will hold you accountable.

Set a reward

Completing your healthy weekend reset is a big deal and a positive experience. These accomplishments deserve rewards, not only to keep you working towards the goal but to create a positive association with accomplishing such endeavors. Write your reward down prior to beginning your weekend and stick it on the fridge as a reminder.

Step 4) Turn healthy actions into habits

Once your 48-hours are up, you need to capture the momentum you worked so hard to create to ensure your health stays pointed in the right direction. A 48-hour reset is not a justification to go binge on bad habits—it is a leveling-up, a beginning of a new chapter, a fresh start. To keep your compass pointed towards your “true north”, we need to cement your new habits so they become part of your lifestyle.

Building habits is a skill and can be tricky at times. At Mountain Trek, we follow a six-step process to build healthy habits—ones that are truly sustainable:

1. Identify your health and wellness goals

This one is easy. Just write down all of your goals. Try to be as specific as possible, however.

2. Redesign your goals to optimize for success

Make sure your goal is SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-anchored. Setting a SMART goal immediately doubles your chance of success.

3. Simplify

Pick a maximum of two goals from step 1.

4. Set a weekly target

Start small. Aim for doing your healthy action two, maybe three times each week, then grow from there.

5. Monitor your progress and adjust if needed

Write your goal down in a journal, keep a piece of paper handy with a tally, track it using your online calendar, or, you can use either Mountain Trek’s Health & Habit Building App, which will keep track of your progress for you, or our simple goal tracker. Whatever tool you decide to use, it’s important to monitor your activity, notice when you’re falling behind and congratulate yourself when you are achieving your goals.

6. Reward your intention

Whether you are successful or not, you need to reward yourself for your intention to do your best. Rewards can be small or big, simple, or complex.

You now have a proven strategy to reset your health in the course of just one weekend. We hope you take the time to invest in your health, you need and deserve it now more than ever. Be compassionate to yourself throughout the process and don’t worry if it doesn’t all go to plan. There will most likely be hiccups along the way. The important part is that you committed to a healthy weekend—to yourself—and you made your best effort.

If the above is daunting to tackle on your own, we would be more than honored to have you join us for one of our upcoming Basecamp weekend retreats, where our expert team will do all of the work listed above for you, so all you need to do is show up and give it your best.

Good luck, stay healthy, and keep moving!


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below: