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

Our Nutritionist’s Take On Keto, Whole30 + Intermittent Fasting

With 2019 rounding the corner, it’s time to think about New Year’s resolutions. Is this your time to try a new fitness class? Are you still thinking about that popular nutrition program everyone’s talking about? “Quick fixes” that jolt our systems are tempting to turn to, but we encourage lasting lifestyle changes; no program is worth doing if you can’t do it for the rest of your life.

In anticipation of the New Year influx of diets, we asked our resident nutritionist Jenn Keirstead to weigh in on a couple of popular wellness fads. She details how restrictive programs can lead to yo-yo dieting–rapid weight loss following by a rebound that sees you gaining everything, and sometimes even more, back–and why you should invest in long-term health.

Ring in the New Year successfully by setting fads aside and signing up for a week or two with Mountain Trek in South Carolina this February.

Ketogenic 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 is a state of ketosis, around 80% of your diet must come from fat.

What we like:

  • 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.

What we don’t like:

  • 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.

Whole30 Diet

The 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. The 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.

What we like:

  • Introduces a variety of whole foods: An advantage to experimenting with a diet such as this is that you’re introduced to many new, healthful foods. Whole food types 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.

What we don’t like:

  • 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 — and unless you plan on never eating them again, you risk putting the weight right back on once you reintroduce them.
  • Too rigid: 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.

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.

What we like:

  • The body should take some breaks between eating: Fasting can be beneficial, however 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.

What we don’t like:

  • 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: Skipping meals and 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, restful 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.

If you are looking for long-term change in your health and wellness, join us at Mountain Trek this winter or spring. In February, we’re bringing the program to the amazing Hotel Domestique in Greenville, South Carolina, and, starting in April, you can find us at The Lodge in gorgeous British Columbia. Book now to give yourself the gift of health and wellness.

5 Steps To A Merry, Healthful Holiday

The holidays are a time for family, warmth and indulging — but too often people go totally off-track and end up messing with their sleep habits, getting lax on their fitness regimen, or putting un a couple of unwanted pounds from holiday festivities.

However, with an empathetic attitude towards the self and a solid plan, you can enjoy the holidays without going overboard. Check out our top tips for a healthful holiday and go into the holiday season with confidence!

Step One: Make A Commitment To Be Kind To Yourself

Like we’ve discussed before — no major lifestyle change is successful without empathy for the self. When we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves (never having carbs again, exercising every single day), when we inevitably falter, our sense of failure and shame often results in giving up entirely. Smaller, incremental changes are the key to long-term success.

No one is perfect: creating space for your own imperfections will allow you to both enjoy the holidays to their fullest as well as stay conscientious about your health priorities.

Step Two: Map Out Your Holiday Season Events

Holiday parties? Check. Cookie swaps? Check. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, New Years’ Eve, school parties, work parties, and more — get them all on your calendar. Then, take a step back and identify which events you really want to indulge in, and which you can approach with moderation in mind.

Make sure to prioritize in indulging in the things you really love: Do you make cookies as a family every year? Do you and your spouse adore the company holiday party each year? Don’t rob yourself of your favorites.

By that same token, don’t “waste” calories on events that aren’t a priority. Creating this balance will help manage holiday indulgences.

Step Three: Create + Stick To A Plan During The Week

In order to offset indulgences at events, be sure to stick to a nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress plan during the week. With whirlwind events and cold/flu season, it’s the perfect time to prioritize your health. Meal plan your weekday meals, schedule/make time for fitness, and create time for relaxation — whether it’s luxuriating in a bath or setting a goal for weekly meditation.

Step Four: Plan Health and Wellness Themed Activities With Loved Ones

Think about ways you can spend time with loved ones that involve treating your body, mind, and spirit. Go on a long walk or hike with a friend instead of a boozy brunch, a yoga class and a steam at a local gym instead of happy hour, snowy winter walks after dinner with your spouse instead of Netflix, and more.

Step Five: Develop A Strategy For Eating Out

It’s hard to stay on track while eating out! Check out our secrets for navigating restaurant menus. Our favorite tip: determine your simple carbohydrate priorities. Plan to pick either bread, dessert OR alcohol — this allows you to enjoy yourself without going overboard.

Want to go into the holiday season feeling really confident? Schedule your post-holiday reset and detox with Mountain Trek. Join us for a winter retreat in South Carolina in February 2019, or starting in April 2019 for our British Columbia season — book now and prioritize peace of mind for 2019.

Why There’s No Caffeine At Mountain Trek

The short answer? The Mountain Trek program seeks to balance your hormones for optimal health. For most people, caffeine increases cortisol — and cortisol negatively impacts your metabolism.

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone, and it operates inversely to DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) — the “youth” or “rejuvenating hormone.” DHEA builds muscle, burns calories, and lowers inflammation. Cortisol is released when the body perceives that it needs to be in flight-or-fight mode, which results in muscle loss, bone density loss, calorie storage, and chronic inflammation (the body uses its own muscle stores to be ready for extreme exertion and stores as many calories as possible to prepare for any possible famine or lack of readily available nutrients).

The Mountain Trek Program is designed specifically to rebalance these two crucial metabolic hormones in order to get your body into a state of growth metabolism (burning calories, building muscle) as opposed to decay metabolism (muscle loss, calorie storage). If your hormones aren’t balanced, you won’t be able to get deep sleep or achieve your ideal body composition of muscle-to-fat. Unbalanced hormones are one of the core reasons that people can’t seem to lose those last 5-10 pounds (or “muffin top”).

Most North Americans are experiencing long-term, heightened levels of cortisol: between high work stress, lack of vacation time, inadequate sleep, and many more daily stressors, our systems are entirely overloaded. That’s why we cut out caffeine at Mountain Trek — not because caffeine is evil or bad, but because it’s one quick way to immediately reduce cortisol.
Eliminating caffeine is just part of our induction, and helps rebalance and reset the body’s hormones. We certainly don’t expect people to remove caffeine from their lives altogether — but for our induction phase, it’s important for resetting hormones to their ideal balance. During the program, you’ll learn about the best and healthiest ways to incorporate caffeine into your regimen.

If you’re ready for the full experience, join us at our health, wellness and stress retreat — we’ve just announced rates and dates for 2019! Click here to plan your trip.

Our Secrets For Navigating Restaurant Menus

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If there’s one challenge to maintaining a well-balanced, nutritious diet, it’s eating out. Whether for work, travel or convenience, restaurant food is incredibly high in calories and can derail even the best of diets. Check out our tips for navigating restaurant menus so you can stay on track.

Before You Arrive At The Restaurant, Determine Your Simple Carb Priorities
Plan to pick either bread, dessert or alcohol. Limiting yourself to just one of these simple carb categories will allow you to enjoy yourself and indulge a bit without going overboard.

Skip The Pre-Dinner Drink — But Be Sure To Have A Full Glass Of Water
While enjoying a cocktail, beer or glass of wine before a meal is customary, alcohol lowers your willpower, and you’ll be much more likely to overindulge after a drink or two. If you’re going to have a drink, plan to have it with your meal.

Additionally, before you even look at the menu, make sure to drink a full glass of water. This allows you to approach the menu feeling a little bit satiated, rather than with a cavernous growling stomach. This limits the “eyes are bigger than the stomach” effect!

Ask The Server Not To Bring Any Bread
Restaurant bread baskets are almost impossible to resist, and full of totally empty calories. Avoid the temptation entirely and just as you sit down to the table, kindly ask your server not to bring a bread basket or any pre-meal snacks.

Order All Dressings On The Side
Ordering a salad? Ask for the dressing on the side so that you can better control the portion. Better yet, ask if your salad can be served with a side of oil and vinegar — it’ll cut out extraneous sugars that often lurk in dressings.

Split A Meal With Another Guest (Or Save Half For Lunch Tomorrow!)
Many (but not all) restaurant serving sizes are well beyond recommended portion sizes. Do your research before the meal, and if it seems like a restaurant has larger or oversized portions, consider splitting a meal with another guest — or boxing up half and saving it for the next day!

Keep Your Plate 75% Vegetables, 25% Lean Protein
Just like when you’re cooking for yourself, plan to keep your plate three-quarters veggies and one-quarter protein! At most restaurants, you’ll still be able to find some nutrient-packed options. Look for lean proteins like fish and poultry, greens and beans.

By preparing yourself with the tips above when you eat out, you’ll maintain a healthy balance and stay on track. Happy menu navigating!

Kirk’s Top 3 Reasons Why Fad Diets Fail

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This time of year, New Years’ Resolutions are weighing heavily on people’s minds, and some may already be given up. At Mountain Trek, we’re used to hearing all about fad diets that people have experimented with — and we don’t recommend any of them. The very definition of the verb “to diet” tells you exactly why this approach to achieve vitality fails: “to restrict oneself to small amounts of special kinds of food in order to lose weight.” Dieting is temporary, usually unsustainable, and focused solely on weight.

  1. Fad diets focus on one measure of health — weight. Weight is an excellent indicator of health but is not the only one! This laser-focus on weight is a product of a culture that largely results in an unhelpful pattern of guilt and shame and isn’t focused on real wellness. Our take? Weight loss is a byproduct of a return to natural health — a lifestyle change featuring whole fruits, vegetables, and nutritious protein sources.
  2. Fad diets erroneously focus on “miracle ingredients.” These are simply marketing gimmicks. Humans were perfectly capable of whole health before diets that heavily feature reishi mushrooms, matcha, ashwagandha and other trendy ingredients and supplements came on the scene!
  3. They’re often too restrictive, and unrealistic for long-term adoption. Anything you can’t keep doing isn’t really worth doing. That’s why we recommend a 5:2 system: Five days of a commitment to eating well, and two days to let yourself enjoy in moderation — whether it’s a scoop of your favorite ice cream or a drink (or two) of a delicious, indulgent wine.
  4. Diets often mimic famine. Go too long without food, or with too little food, and the body stores calories because it doesn’t know when next meal is. Smart snacking is important for the body’s metabolism! Small, nutrient-packed snacks keep your body burning energy.

Don’t be tempted by the gimmicks. Long-term health and wellness is achievable when you take a life-long, sustainable approach. The first step? Immerse yourself, and experience a fully optimal lifestyle, where we take a natural approach, treating food as fuel. Come to Mountain Trek for a week, where you’ll rediscover what it means to be whole: deep sleep, delicious, nurturing meals, restorative massages, and hours every day spent outside in deep nature.

Check out Mountain Trek’s nutritionist Jenn for a deeper dive into our food ethos:

 

Thriving During The Holidays

How to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

How to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

The Key To Surviving The Holidays? Kindness.

The holidays can be a fraught time for health goals. With an influx of food, family, and oftentimes stress, many people feel overwhelmed and powerless to maintain a healthy balance.

At Mountain Trek’s fitness retreat and health spa, we spend all week detoxing from what the body, mind and spirit don’t need (caffeine, empty calories, technology, stressful environments), and instead spend all of our time feeding our souls: with hale and hearty meals, 4-5 hours of cleansing physical activity in the pristine mountain air, and deep, restful sleep.

This lifestyle isn’t realistic for many — and is especially difficult around the holiday season — and towards the end of the week at Mountain Trek’s health and wellness retreat, we discuss the journey of goal-setting and habit formation, and how to take elements of what we experience in the program and apply it to your busy daily lives. Our biggest piece of advice tends to surprise people: The only thing you must do every day to make a serious change: Practice self-kindness. Being compassionate and understanding with oneself is the cornerstone of success.

A treat now and then or missed week of exercise won’t kill you — but the quest for perfection might.

Perfect is a myth. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Aspire to live healthfully 5 days a week, and give yourself 2 days off. One thing we see time and time again: People (Americans, especially) focus on perfection: They want to exercise 7 days a week, to journal every single day, and to never have a drop of wine ever again! This is not the successful path to meaningful change — by setting yourself up for failure, you sabotage your goals.

Your ultimate obstruction isn’t calories or sedentarism: It’s negative self-talk.

Keeping your thoughts and actions self-supportive is crucial in any long-term health goal. Creating a daily practice of self-care is the cornerstone of success. Too often, one setback sets people into a tailspin of guilt and shame, and the memory of guilt and shame stops them from pursuing the initial goal. You must create space for yourself to fall off track. You must give yourself permission to be human.

Reward your intention to do your best — whether you fulfill the goals, or not.

Navigating our modern world — replete with foods bereft of nutrition, stressful city environments, at the total mercy of our devices — is the warrior’s path. It’s not easy, and there’s no button or quick solution. Kale isn’t the answer — neither is the newest workout fad or the most expensive blender money can buy. You must respect, love, and honor yourself before you can truly make everything we teach at Mountain Trek truly work.

If you’re ready to commit to change, ready to grow and deepen your relationship to yourself, your truth, and the breathtaking outdoors, click here to view rates and dates at Mountain Trek for 2018. Shepherding people back to their essential selves is our life’s work — come to our mountain lodge in Nelson, BC, and find out what the mountain has to offer.

Jenn’s Favorite Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks

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We know how critical what we eat is in energy management: Making sure to plan snacks well will make sure you’re properly fueling your body and optimizing your nutrient intake! One of the questions we most often hear is when and how to snack, especially before and after workouts. Our head of nutrition, Jennifer Keirstead, offers some tips below for making the most of your workouts with strategically timed snacking.

Pre-Workout: Fruit + Protein Source

Says Jenn:Pairing a piece of fruit with a protein source is a fantastic pre-work snack. The sugars in the fruits act as a quick energy source, and since protein digests a little slower, combining these two helps stabilize blood sugar levels — this supports longing lasting energy (for example, an apple with almonds). Or try a homemade Coconut Apricot Bliss Ball — recipe below!

Do your best to consume a small snack within an hour pre-workout — this way you’ll be sure to have quick energy available to burn.”

Post-Workout: Fruit or Vegetable + Protein Source

Post-workout snack is similar to the pre-work snack. Either a fruit or veggie, paired with a source of protein. An excellent example would be a sugar snap peas with a hard-boiled egg. 

A smoothie is another great option for post-workout — try mixed berries with cashew butter. Eating every 3-4 hours will support energy not just for exercise, but for sustaining energy levels throughout the day.” Click here to learn more about our approach to nutrition

Coconut Apricot Bliss Balls

This protein-packed and calorie-conscious snack is great for pre- or post-workout fuel, and is the perfect replacement for highly processed, sugary “energy bars.”

Ingredients 

1/4 cup almond butter

2 tbsp hemp seed butter

1 cup chopped dried apricots

2 tbsp dried cranberries

½ tsp (scant) powdered ginger

1 pinch cardamon

1 pinch sea salt

1 zest small orange

Orange juice, to moisten

Directions

Using food processor, chop nuts and apricots finely. Add butters and remaining ingredients. Form into balls with small scoop and refrigerate or freeze.

Craving more nutrient-packed spa cuisine? Download the Mountain Trek Health Guide In Your Pocket App for a full library of amazing recipes — as well as help sustaining healthful habits and some of our favorite, high-impact workouts.

 

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.

Heavenly Orbs Recipe

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The name says it all. Nut butter anchors the lightness of coconut, orange and apricot in this delicious snack. This Heavenly Orbs recipe is definitely one that belongs in our Hall of Fame. Makes 8 or 9 orbs.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/8 cup hemp seed butter
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • orange juice to moisten
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • zest of a small orange

Method 

  1. Chop nuts and apricots together finely in a food processor
  2. Add butters and remaining ingredients
  3. Form into balls and refigerate or freeze

To find more Mountain Trek recipes, and to get the shopping list for this recipe, download our Health Guide in Your Pocket App now. 

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