4 Incredible Uses For Garlic (Apart From Warding Off Vampires)

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Garlic – to you, it could be nothing more than an excellent way to boost the flavor of your dishes. Or, budding van Helsings may keep it close to ward off vampires. Whatever your use for it, the odds are that you don’t eat as much of it as you should. Sure, it makes its way into your body now and again, but you can’t stomach too much of the strong perfume.

Of course, you are probably wondering why it matters. As Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine once wrote: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” As far as foods go, garlic is one of the most potent medicines available.

Here are the reasons why.

Garlic Fights Cancer

The C-word. Everybody’s mortal enemy that they want to defeat at all costs. Typically, people turn to drugs and intense treatments to treat cancer. However, there’s no need to go that far because garlic is part of a category known as cancer fighting foods that prevent the onset of the disease. Studies show that a compound called “allicin” travels around the body once garlic is consumed and releases a bunch of antioxidants. Sulfur, in general, is what boosts immunity to cancer, and garlic is full of the stuff!

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It Lowers Risk Of Obesity

The stats regarding obesity in this country and around the world are pretty shocking. Almost two billion adults over the age of eighteen are classed as overweight or obese, which is scary. Nobody wants to fall into this category, and you don’t have to with the help of garlic. A single clove contains fewer than five calories, which is hard to beat when you compare garlic to other superfoods. Plus, it’s packed with fiber, too. What does this mean? It means that you’ll feel fuller for longer, and be less tempted to snack and consume empty calories.

Garlic Is Linked To A Longer Life

Besides battling cancer and obesity, garlic goes one step further and tackles heart disease and high cholesterol levels. In terms of death rates, the latter are among the biggest killers on the planet, so it’s vital to keep them in check. Garlic does this via reducing blood pressure levels. Reports prove that garlic and garlic supplements are as effective as pharmaceutical drugs at impacting hypertension. Eat around four cloves a day and the odds of living a healthier, longer life dramatically improve.

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It Maintains Brain Function

Your body is vital to your wellbeing, but so is your mind. Without a healthy brain, you may suffer from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Thankfully, garlic is packed with antioxidants, and this makes it very effective at maintaining a high level of brain function. The antioxidants work in conjunction with your body’s protective features to prevent nasty oxidants from weakening your health. Also, consuming more garlic improves the body’s ability to create antioxidants. With brain diseases becoming more prevalent, it’s essential to take action early, and garlic is a powerful and accessible way to do it regardless of age.

All you need to do now is figure out ways to include it in your diet!

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Three Clucking Good Reasons To Go Organic On Your Farm

Farming and agriculture are two of the oldest industries in the world. Our ancestors likely kept at least a few chickens, and so did their ancestors before them. In short; getting stuck into the ag-business means following in a long line of your forefathers. But, there’s a pretty high chance that the industry has changed since they were hoeing their fields and supporting their families.

Now, a focus on healthier food sources and what goes into them is forever driving farmers to consider their practices. This, alongside the vegan revolution, has left countless farmers struggling to pull the profits they once enjoyed. And, many are finding that farming alternatives like organic options are the best way to weather that storm.

Essentially, organic farming involves removing the chemicals from your processes. Instead, organic farms rely on natural pesticides and even antibiotic growth promoter (AGP) alternatives when it comes to supplementing livestock feed, etc. These may seem like pretty extreme steps away from what you know, but here are three clucking good reasons why this organic shift could be worth your while.

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# 1 – Potential for profit increases

Everyone knows that organic produce costs more, and this is perhaps the main reason to get started here. While standard farming practices have long been falling out of favor and losing money, the opposite can be seen from organic trends. In fact, produce from farms certified by bodies like USDA can typically sell for around 60% of average retail prices. This is particularly the case if you focus on farm shops, local markets, etc. Even better, you should find that consumers are more than happy to pay the difference if they can feel good about the purchase afterwards.

# 2 – An eco-focus

In the current climate, consumers are forever favoring greener companies with clear eco-focuses. And guess what? Going organic right now proves precisely that. After all, pesticides and harmful food additions are doing significant damage to water supplies, soil quality, and more. None of these is going to do you any good, and could even see consumers turning away. By comparison, that organic label proves you use only natural processes, meaning not only that your food is healthier to consume, but also that the ecological damage you cause to produce it is minimal or next to none.

# 3 – Land preservation

Along roughly the same lines, it’s worth noting that a shift to organic practices is far better for preserving your land in the long-run. Your resources (soil, water, etc.) will undeniably stretch further and reap better growing grounds than they would with the addition of nasty chemicals. As such, a farm that goes organic now is far more likely to stand the test of time than one that continues to practice harmful agricultural habits.

As if these benefits weren’t enough, making the switch to organic is often easier than you realize. All you need to do is think about alternative farming practices and habits that could make it possible.

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Hemp Oil Uses: The Complete Guide

Originally posted on madebyhemp.com on SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 in CBD PRODUCT INFO

hemp oil uses complte guide

We live in a society that is constantly reaching for the next level of peak health and appearance, using only naturally effective methods. 

No pressure, right? 

Despite this never-ending climb, one little plant is paving the way for people to reach their health and wellness goals: hemp. Hemp oil is a nutty and flavorful oil that is extracted from the stalks or seeds of the hemp plant. There are different uses for each type of hemp oil, each offering its own array of uses and unique wellness benefits.

Three powerful uses for hemp 

Hemp oil’s benefits are so bountiful and unmistakable that scientists studied it in-depth even while it was banned in most of society, including the U.S. Thankfully, the 2018 Farm Bill completely cleared the air and legitimized hemp’s legality by separating it from its notorious cousin, marijuana. Both are from the cannabis family, but hemp doesn’t get you high. 

There’s no doubt more benefits will be discovered, but for now, let’s jump into what hemp oil has already proven.

Hemp seed oil uses for cooking 

Hemp seed oil offers a healthy alternative to vegetable oil, canola oil, or butter. 

Its delicious nutty flavor makes it perfect for sautéed vegetables or meats, salad dressings, or dipping in bread. The main reason for swapping popular oils for hemp seed oil, is because of the wellness benefits it offers. It’s very high in essential fatty acids (EFAs), with a perfect 3:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6. As the name suggests, EFAs are essential for human health.  

hemp oil food cooking

Another nutritious benefit of hemp seed oil is its content of insoluble fiber, protein, and array of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. These nutritional benefits make hemp a great choice for anyone, including vegetarians and diabetics. Aside from being extreme healthy, hemp seed oil is a delicious and flavorful alternative to vegetable oil and butter. 

There is one catch. Using hemp seed oil to cook has some limitations. Mainly, it can smoke at low temperatures, so it should not be used for frying or deep-frying. 

The other thing to keep an eye out for with hemp seed oil, is if it is being sold as either hemp oil or CBD hemp oil. Hemp seed oil does not contain cannabidiol (CBD) like hemp oil does. Therefore, hemp seed oil is much less expensive than CBD hemp oil or commonly referred to as CBD oil. 

CBD hemp oil uses for health 

Hemp oil is a loose term often used to talk about oil from any part of the hemp plant. It’s vital to distinguish the different types, so this next one is typically called CBD hemp oil or more commonly, CBD oil. 

hemp oil cbd use

Oil extracted from the mature stalks and flowers (NOT the seeds) of the hemp plant contain an incredible compound called cannabidiol, or CBD for short. CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid System to support a healthy balance throughout the body. Studies have shown it has potential for concerns related to anxiety and inflammation, with virtually zero side effects

The benefits of CBD hemp oil don’t stop there. It’s also packed full of important vitamins and minerals that are important for your daily regimen. Most CBD oil supplements also feature the therapeutic benefits of plant terpenes

It’s worth noting the potential medical uses for CBD hemp oil that are being studied. CBD research topics include inflammationanxietyPTSDsleep, and much more.

Popular types of CBD hemp oil products

CBD hemp oil can be added to your diet in many ways, such as ediblespure extracts, and even flavored tinctures. Edibles are available as gummies, chocolates, and more. Pure extracts are straight CBD hemp oil with no added ingredients. Finally, tinctures are liquid extracts from the hemp plant and come in many flavors. These liquid drops are a great way to enhance your diet and supplement your nutrition. 

If you are just starting out with CBD hemp oil, our CBD Oil Buyer’s Guide is a helpful place to figure out which product type to start with. 

Hemp oil uses for skin 

Believe it or not, the benefits and uses of hemp oil are not limited to food or supplements. Hemp oil is becoming increasingly popular in cosmetics including lotions, shampoos, sunscreens, lip balms, and other skin products

hemp oil skin uses

Hemp oil is rich in vitamins A and E, which act as antioxidants that heal the skin. It also contains fatty acids that keep the skin hydrated, and calcium to keep it smooth. For these reasons, it’s becoming wildly popular for rashes and dry skin. We’re starting to see hemp seed oil added to products like moisturizers and lips balms as well.

However, it’s still fairly uncommon to find skin care products made with CBD hemp oil. The skincare benefits of CBD are nothing short of amazing, particularly for inflamed muscles and joints. 

With so many amazing vitamins, minerals and compounds, CBD hemp oil is a natural defense against dry, aging or sore skin.

Where does hemp oil come from?  

Hemp oil can come from the seeds, stalks, or flowers of the hemp plant. Depending on which part it’s extracted from, it creates different types of hemp oil. 

Hemp oil that comes from the seeds is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and EFAs. It does not contain cannabinoids, like CBD. 

When hemp oil comes from the stalks or flowers, it contains a blend of cannabinoids (CBD, CBDa, CBN, CBC, CBG), terpenes, and other phytonutrients.

Difference between hemp oil and CBD oil 

Sometimes there’s a major difference between hemp oil and CBD oil, and other time they mean exactly the same thing. It’s all about the context. 

Hemp oil can refer to the oil extracted from any part of the hemp plant, even though we know there’s a huge difference between them. Both are, technically, “hemp oil.” It makes sense to use this term in either situation, but then how do we know what we’re actually getting? 

If you buy a “hemp oil” salve with the hope it’s going to soothe sore muscles, fingers crossed it contains CBD or the benefits probably won’t meet your expectations. Find out how many milligrams of CBD or “hemp extract” are in it before buying. 

Full Spectrum Hemp Oil vs CBD Isolate 

Hemp oil can be considered “full spectrum” or sometimes called “broad spectrum” when it contains not only CBD, but also all the other plant parts in hemp.

CBD isolate is what you get when all plant matter and “full spectrum” characteristics are stripped away, leaving only CBD. CBD isolate should not be considered hemp oil, though it may be derived from hemp because it is only CBD and does not contain the other plant nutrients.  

Make sure you do your research on the product to verify if it is in fact CBD oil or hemp seed oil. If you’re looking for a CBD oil salve, it’s a good idea to ask the manufacturer for lab test results to verify how much CBD is in it. 

Hemp oil benefits 

Hemp oil is considered a superfood thanks to its wide scope of nutritional and health benefits. Keeping in our important theme of separating the two types of hemp oil, let’s look at the benefits of each separately. 

First up is hemp oil from the stalks of the plant, which contains several uniquely powerful compounds. 

This type of hemp oil offers the benefits of cannabinoids. A wide range of cannabinoids can be present in hemp oil, like CBD, CBDa, CBC, CBG, CBN. By a long-shot, however, CBD is the most abundant of the group. Cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid system to support important functions in the brain, central and peripheral nervous system. This system aims to keep us in homeostasis, so it must have a tight hold on inflammation, anxiety, and stress. 

Another benefit of hemp oil comes from the terpenes. While that may be an unfamiliar word, you’re most likely already familiar with their benefits. Terpenes are found in all plants, they are the reason for the benefits popularly associated with essential oils, like peppermint oil (terpene = mentha piperita). 

Not only do terpenes attribute to the plant’s aroma and flavor, the therapeutic properties play a major role in the benefits of hemp oil. When cannabinoids and terpenes are working together, they enhance the benefits in what’s known as the entourage effect.

Bottom Line 

Hemp oil is a natural product that offers a multitude of uses to support health and wellness. This versatile oil can be used in cooking, supplements, or skincare and provides a multitude of added nutrition. With so many different options for use, hemp oil can easily become part of a nutritional program that can help users improve and maintain their overall health.

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What Are Net Carbs?

Originally authored by Ryan Rodal on hvmn.com • July 27, 2019 •

In recent years, carb counting has become a major point of dietary emphasis. With many low-carb diets such as keto and Atkins becoming more commonplace, it’s crucial to account for carbohydrates properly.

The problem is, there’s an ongoing debate between whether carbs or “net carbs” should be counted as part of one’s macronutrient profile. While some groups argue total carb count is a more precise measurement, others disagree with this sentiment.

Not all carbohydrates have the same effect from a dietary perspective. While some are more digestible, others tend to pass through the body without being absorbed.

It’s important to understand the differences between carbs and net carbs so that you can determine which form of measurement is most conducive to your lifestyle and goals.

Let’s take a deeper look at various types of carbs and what roles they play within your body.

Let’s Define a Carbohydrate

Before we dive into net carbs, it helps to know what a carb actually is in the first place.

Carbohydrates are an umbrella term for molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. There are two main types of carbs found in the foods we eat—simple carbs and complex carbs.

This image describes the differences between simple and complex carbs including where they're found, how they're digested, and their nutritional value.

Simple carbs are found mostly in sugary foods and contain only one or two sugar unit molecules which can affect how quickly the food is digested and absorbed. Some examples are fruits and foods containing table sugar, like soda or cookies.

Complex carbs are slower-digesting in nature and contain several sugar units linked together. They are often found in whole grains, starchy vegetables, white and sweet potatoes, carrots, and oats.

While simple and complex carbs can be used as an energy source or stored as fat.

If a person consumes more carbs than needed, the body will convert excess carbs to fat.

There are other types of carbs which are not readily digestible by the body.

Fiber is different from the other two forms of carbohydrates. While it is similar in molecular profile, it does not provide a direct form of energy—it passes through the body without being digested and absorbed into the bloodstream for energy. The main role of fiber is to feed friendly bacteria in the digestive system.

Sugar alcohols also fall under the carbohydrate umbrella. They are typically used as a form of sweetener and contain only half the amount of calories as traditional carbohydrates. They are added to food as a reduced calorie sweetener and as a bulking agent.

Although each of these are considered carbs, the body handles each of them differently. It’s these differences that allow us to think that not all carbs are created equal, and we shouldn’t look at them as all playing the same role without our body.

Net Carbs Explained

Net carbs refers to carbs that are absorbed and processed by the body.

Simple and complex carbs are found in foods we eat. They are broken down in the small intestine and later become used as a source of energy in the body.

Those other types of carbs, such as fibers and sugar alcohols, can’t be broken as easily. Because our bodies don’t actually absorb these types of carbs (to use them for energy), many people subtract fibers and sugar alcohols from overall carbohydrate amount.

This is often where debate tends to arise.

While some count every single carb in their diet, others subtract fiber and sugar alcohols because the body does not retain these macronutrients in the same manner. Carbs are hiding in your favorite drinks

Why is Fiber Different?

Unlike other forms of carbohydrates, fiber is not directly used as a natural fuel source for the body. It passes directly into the colon and can’t be broken down by enzymes in the digestive tract. Because of this, less than half the total carbohydrates from dietary fiber are metabolized to glucose.1

Fiber is best known for its ability to relieve constipation, especially soluble fiber (hello fruit, oatmeal, avocados and broccoli!), but can also provide several other health benefits.

This image describes the differences between insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. It describes the benefits, nutritional value, digestion, and foods that can be found with these types of fiber.

Elevated fiber intake has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer in one study, but as mentioned earlier, this cause and effect action is now being debated among the scientific community.2 Another review looked at 22 publications and found dietary fiber was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.3

Fiber consumption may be linked to lowering the risk of developing serious diseases.

The FDA Daily Value for fiber (the daily recommended amount) is 25 grams per day based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Even within fiber, there are two main types—insoluble and soluble fiber.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and can help speed the passage of bowel movements thereby preventing constipation. It contains no calories, nor does it spike blood glucose or insulin levels, and isn’t broken down by the gut.4

Insoluble fiber helps keep bowel movements regular and helps maintain a healthy digestive system. It’s typically found in the stalks, skins, and seeds of foods such as whole grains, nuts, and veggies,

Common foods with insoluble fiber include:

  • Beans
  • Whole wheat
  • Bran
  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Nuts
  • Green beans

Insoluble fiber is an important part of a healthy diet that can help support several bodily functions.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is digested by bacteria in the large intestine.

One of the benefits of soluble fiber is its ability to help you feel full (and potentially, this can help you lose weight). A study performed on soluble fiber found that consuming 14g per day was associated with a 10% decrease in energy consumption (less food eaten) and weight loss of 1.9kg over a four month period.5

As soluble fiber goes into your colon, it becomes short-chain fatty acids, which can help improve gut health and reduce inflammation.6 A meta analysis also looked at those with high fiber consumption and found soluble fiber can also help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.7

What are Sugar Alcohols?

Sugar alcohols are processed in a manner similar to fiber—they are not directly absorbed by the body. They’re found naturally in foods and can be used as low calorie sweeteners and bulking agents. Typically, they are used as sugar substitutes that contain about half the amount of calories as regular sugar.

As the name suggests, they’re a hybrid of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules.

Their chemical structure is similar to sugar, and thus have the ability to activate sweet taste receptors on your tongue. That’s part of their allure: sweet taste, far fewer calories.

You will typically find sugar alcohols in foods such as chewing gums, ice creams, frostings, cakes, cookies, candies, as well as some foods that claim to be low in carbs or sugar.

The most common sugar alcohols used today include:

  • Erythritol
  • Isomalt
  • Maltitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol

Erythritol has the least amount of net carbs. 90% of it is excreted in urine and only 10% enters the colon.8

There are limited studies available on sugar alcohols, but no known studies have shown raised insulin or blood sugar levels as a result.9 Studies have shown, however, that some individuals do not process sugar alcohols well and report excessive gas and sometimes, diarrhea.10 This is because sugar alcohols are fermented by the gut microbiome (fermentation produces gas as a by product) and because they affect the osmolarity within your intestine (they cause excess water to end up in your stool/colon). This response often depends on the amount consumed, so if you’re thinking of adding sugar alcohols to your diet or increasing the amount, do so cautiously.

How to Calculate Net Carbs

If you choose to use net carbs as a basis of your dietary calculations for macronutrients, it will help to make sure you are accurately accounting for them. Net carbs are calculated differently for both fiber and sugar alcohols. Be sure to read nutrition labels closely as “net carbs” are not listed separately.

This image shows how to calculate net carbs. You simply take the total number of carbs and subtract the amount of fiber to arrive at net carbs.

Net Carbs from Fiber

Calculating net carbs using both carbohydrate and fiber amounts is super simple.

If you are eating whole foods containing fiber, simply subtract the fiber from total carbs to calculate the net carbs.

For example, an apple contains 25g of carbohydrates and 5g of fiber. The result would be 20g of net carbs. This is a little more difficult when consuming those whole foods because they don’t have nutrition labels. But a simple online search should help you give you a pretty accurate estimation.

If you’re consuming foods with a nutrition label, both carbs and fiber should be listed and thus, net carbs easily calculated.

Net Carbs from Sugar Alcohols

In most cases, half the carbs from sugar alcohols can be subtracted from total carbs. For example, if a food contains 8g of sugar alcohols, you can subtract 4g from total carbs to determine net carbs.

One exception to the rule is Erythritol. The carbs from Erythritol can completely be subtracted from total carbs.

Most of the time, you’ll be subtracting fiber from carbohydrate amount to determine net carbs. Sugar alcohols are less common, but check nutrition labels to see if what you’re eating contains them, and make this part of your calculation when determining net carbs

Should You Use Net Carbs?

People debate about whether counting net carbs provides a more accurate representation compared to total carbs.

Using net carbs will allow for more dietary flexibility because you’re able to eat fiber-rich foods without consuming too many carbohydrates. There are also numerous health benefits associated with fiber consumption; a study performed on individuals who regularly consumed fiber showed improved blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.8

On the other hand, people on a keto diet may argue against net carbs because the carbohydrate amount you’re consuming may take you out of ketosis. Not all people process fiber the same way—therefore, it’s important to understand what works best for your body.

People trying to avoid carbohydrate intake may tend to eat more sugar-free problems, which can lead to other health problems such as weight gain, metabolic disorders, and type-2 diabetes.11

When it comes down to it, using net carbs can be an imperfect science. Using total carbs can help provide a better framework for helping you to stick to your diet. However, if you eat lots of fibrous foods such as vegetables, using net carbs may be the perfect choice for your lifestyle. Or, if you’re on keto, and you find yourself constipated, consuming more fiber might be advantageous. You may have avoided those carbs to stick to your macros, and in the process, avoided fiber as well.

No matter if you choose to use net carbs or not, always make the dietary choices that best fit your individual lifestyle and goals. The best diet will always be the one you can stick to long-term.

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How to Lower Blood Sugar

Originally authored by Ryan Rodal • HVMN.com -April 16, 2019 •

What does it mean if you have high blood sugar? Maybe you are under immense stress, or haven’t had the best diet lately, or have been fairly inactive. Even a big, carb-heavy meal will lead to higher blood sugar. Just because you once registered high blood sugar doesn’t mean you’re immediately at risk of poor health. But consistently high blood sugar should be taken seriously.

It’s usually related to a few health concerns—most often, diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterized by high levels of blood sugar (or blood glucose).Table of ContentsScience Behind Blood SugarConnection Between Weight and Blood SugarLosing WeightLowering Blood Sugar Through DietConsume the Right CarbsConsume Little or No CarbsIncrease Fiber IntakeCount Calories and Monitor Food IntakeAdditional Ways to Lower Blood SugarSleep MoreDrink Apple Cider VinegarExogenous KetonesExercising RegularlyRegularly Monitor Blood Sugar LevelsLowering Blood Sugar for Overall Health

Type 1 diabetes usually begins in childhood and is considered an autoimmune condition. In cases of type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little-to-no insulin. Generally, type 1 is caused by a genetic predisposition—meaning most people are born with it.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common, accounting for a majority of all cases. This form of diabetes is typically developed in older children and adults, but can occur in people of all ages. In type 2 diabetes, the body fails to properly use and store glucose because it doesn’t respond to insulin.

Obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetics also tend to have other health issues, often relating to processes involved with the heart, kidney, eyes, and blood vessels. According to a study from 2015, type 2 diabetes has become worryingly prevalent in the American population; 12% – 14% of adults are estimated to have the disease.1

Even before diagnosis, having higher-than-recommended blood sugar levels can be harmful to your health and may ultimately be a sign that you are on the path to developing type 2 diabetes. This is called “pre-diabetes.” Pre-diabetes means that you have blood sugar levels that are higher than recommended (possibly due to insulin resistance), but below what is considered in the diabetic range. An additional 38% of the population has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

What role does elevated blood sugar play in diabetes, pre-diabetes, and obesity? And how can you lower your blood sugar? Do you even need to lower it in the first place?

Let’s explore the science behind the data to understand how blood sugar is correlated to these health concerns.

Science Behind Blood Sugar

Many people use the terms “sugar” and “glucose” interchangeably, but their differences are nuanced. All forms of sugar consumed must be converted into glucose as a fuel source for the body; this energy is created through a process called glycolysis. Any extra glucose from the diet is stored in the body as glycogen.

When present, the brain and body prefer to burn carbohydrate (and thus glucose). The brain is reliant on carbs, but the rest of the body can switch to burn fat in between carb-rich meals. Glucose stores are low compared to the seemingly endless bodily fat stores. Thus, on a typical eating plan, carbs or sugars are regularly consumed and metabolized into glucose to be used as energy for the brain.

However, if you don’t eat carbs, small amounts of glucose can also be made through non-carbohydrate food sources through a process called gluconeogenesis. The body can also slowly learn to make ketones from fat, and ketones can supplement glucose as brain food.

While glucose can power the body, uncontrolled levels can lead to complications.

Diabetes is a disease characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels. In healthy humans, blood glucose levels are controlled by the secretion of insulin from the pancreas. The insulin acts as a regulator, lowering blood glucose levels as needed.

When you eat certain food, blood glucose levels increase. Insulin is secreted from the pancreas to normalize levels through the uptake of glucose into the body’s cells. In people with type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond correctly to insulin. The result? Blood sugar doesn’t get into cells and thus, can’t be stored for energy. When sugar can’t enter these cells, that’s when high levels of blood sugar occur (this is called hyperglycemia).

Connection Between Weight and Blood Sugar

Although a definite link cannot be established, there is some evidence to suggest weight gain is often associated with increased blood glucose. A study showed weight gain increased risk of diabetes among overweight adults.2 Weight loss was shown to have major beneficial effects over time. Every kg of body weight lost annually was associated with a 33% lower risk of diabetes.2

An illustration of a brain, separated by a light switch, showing how the brain and body use sugar

For people who are considered overweight and have high blood glucose, improving body composition may help lower blood glucose levels thereby lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Losing Weight

Maintaining healthy weight is key for overall health.

Many studies have shown being overweight has been linked to hypertension and type 2 diabetes.3 There is no one-size-fits-all weight for each and every person. However, for many people having a body mass index (BMI) below 25 is considered within normal weight range. BMI calculators online can help determine whether or not you are considered overweight.4

Even modest weight gain can have a substantial impact on the development of diabetes.5 Careful monitoring and maintenance of weight is important for overall health, especially in the case of diabetes prevention.Are you at risk for diabetes?

Subscribe now to get our quiz that helps you understand if you’re at risk of diabetes.Subscribe

Lowering Blood Sugar Through Diet

The most direct way to impact blood sugar levels is through healthy diet. Blood sugar or blood glucose is directly affected by the foods that we eat; carbohydrates are readily converted into glucose, entering the bloodstream and becoming blood sugar.

It’s important to make the right dietary choices to minimize the risk of high blood sugar, and potentially developing type 2 diabetes. Instead of a diet, think about these strategies as lifestyle changes.

Consume the Right Carbs

The body converts dietary carbs into glucose to be used as energy. Because carbs are so readily converted into glucose, foods high in carbohydrate have the largest impact on blood sugar levels (which normally increase after a high-carb meal). But when you consistently consume too much sugar, the pancreas will secrete extra insulin; and over time, it can’t produce enough to keep blood glucose at normal levels.

images of chickpeas, sweet potatoes and beans, the right carbs to consume

One way of maintaining healthy blood sugar is to simply eat the right type of carbohydrates.

Just like calories—not all carbs are created equal. Every source of carbohydrates has a Glycemic Index (GI), which is a ranking of carbohydrates in food relative to how blood glucose is affected. Carb sources with a GI index of 55 or less digest slowly, causing a lower and slower rise in blood glucose. Commonly, they’re referred to as “complex carbs.” Carb sources with a GI index closer to 100 are considered “simple carbs,” broken down quickly to be used as energy.

But what makes a carbohydrate complex or simple? Often, it’s how processed the food is.

More processed, sugary items have likely been stripped of all natural fiber, leaving it to be rapidly metabolized into glucose. Whole grains, on the other hand, will have a lower glycemic index (GI).

Consuming low GI carbohydrate sources may help manage blood sugar levels to stay within normal range.

Foods with a low glycemic index include meats, oats, beans, lentils, legumes, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, some fruits, and all non-starchy vegetables.

Consume Little or No Carbs

Instead of considering what types of carbs you’ll eat, another approach is to consume little-to-no carbs. Studies have shown that limiting carbohydrates is an effective strategy for improving glycemic control.6

Consuming very few (or zero) carbs and higher amounts of fat can control blood sugar and limit your glycemic response, which can help prevent diabetes.

There have been numerous instances in which diabetics have benefited from low carbohydrate diets. Andrew Koutnik, a graduate researcher at the University of South Florida found that type 1 diabetics were able to lower their blood sugar levels to normal range on a low carb diet.7 He says, “I simply took the foods in my diet with the highest elevation in blood glucose and replaced them with nutrient-dense fat sources.” His TED Talk provides anecdotal evidence of using low carbs to combat type 1 diabetes.

In 1976, another researcher named Bruce Bistrian discovered that seven cases of type 2 diabetes were reversed within one year on a low-calorie ketogenic diet, which employs a low-carb, high-fat eating regimen.8,9 Individuals on a ketogenic diet saw better improvements in health compared to a low-glycemic index diet.10

Increase Fiber Intake

Fiber can help you control blood sugar levels.

In diabetics, soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels by controlling glucose and insulin spikes.11 If you have (or are at risk of) type 2 diabetes, introducing high-fiber foods into your diet may help control high blood sugar. Fiber will pass through your digestive tract and will not cause a large spike in blood sugar, and it has been shown to be helpful in managing type 2 diabetes.12

The national fiber recommendations for individuals over 50 is to consume 30g – 38g daily for men and 25g per day for women. Another guideline is to simply consume 14g of dietary fiber per every 1,000 calories in your diet. Try adding more fiber to your diet if you are looking to lower your blood sugar.

Count Calories and Monitor Food Intake

Being overweight or obese has been linked to high blood sugar and an increased risk of diabetes. Like it or not, one of the best ways to lose weight is through a caloric deficit, consuming less energy than you expend. A healthy weight has been proven to help lower blood sugar levels, thereby lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.13

Ever been to a restaurant and got served a plate the size of your head? Portion control can be difficult, but today, when portion sizes seem to get bigger and bigger, it can be a method to help you lose weight. Although not as precise, studies have shown that portion control has been an effective way to help obese individuals lose weight.14

General “I’ll finish eating when I’m satisfied” portion control may work for some people, but precise methods will provide more consistent results.

Some of the best ways to make counting calories easier include:

  • Use a food scale: it can be difficult to accurately determine caloric intake without determining precise serving sizes
  • Use a food diary app: there are several free apps that will record calories and servings
  • Learn to read food labels: you should learn to read serving sizes to more accurately record meals in your food diary
  • Eat slower: studies have shown the speed at which you eat can have a direct effect on obesity, BMI, and waist circumference. Eating slower may prevent weight gain15

Counting calories and constantly monitoring food intake may be time-consuming, but it can pay dividends for weight loss, which means dividends for overall health.

Additional Ways to Lower Blood Sugar

Diet may be the most direct and obvious way to keep your weight within healthy levels and help you control blood sugar. In addition to diet, there are also other techniques to supplement your journey along the way.

Sleep More

It’s no secret adequate sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Sleep can help lower stress, strengthen our immune system, and decrease blood pressure. Sleep is also important for mental function including: alertness, memory consolidation, mood regulation, and physical health.

Poor sleeping habits also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.

Slow wave sleep (SWS) is thought to be the most restorative sleep stage, as it affects hormonal changes. These hormones impact glucose regulation. Studies show when people do not get enough SWS, they have decreased levels of insulin sensitivity without an adequate compensatory increase in insulin release. This leads to an increased risk of diabetes due to reduced glucose tolerance.16 Reduced sleep quality may contribute to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The benefits of a good night’s rest are important for maintaining hormonal balance and glucose regulation. But just how much sleep should you be getting? The amount of sleep required will differ depending upon age. For adults, seven to nine hours of sleep are recommended. At H.V.M.N., we know getting enough sleep is vital for performance. That’s why we developed Yawn—it’s our non-habit-forming sleep aid shown to decrease time it takes to get to sleep and improve sleep quality, leaving you feeling refreshed upon waking.17,18,19

Illustrations of a brain, a drop of blood in a shield, a blood pressure monitor and a brain, showing all the benefits of sleep

Drink Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has many benefits to overall health and wellness. Studies have suggested ingesting vinegar before sleeping may favorably impact waking glucose concentrations in people with type 2 diabetes.20

The everyday kitchen staple can influence the body’s response to sugar by improving insulin sensitivity, with studies indicating vinegar can improve postprandial insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant subjects.21

An easy way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is by creating vinegar-based salad dressings. You can also mix two teaspoons into a glass of water and drink it that way. The use of apple cider vinegar is an inexpensive remedy to potentially improve blood sugar levels.

Exogenous Ketones

A low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet and the state of endogenous ketosis is a great way to bring blood sugar down over time. Focusing on consuming healthy fats, along with general carb restriction, will undoubtedly lower insulin and glucose.

Interestingly, exogenous ketones such as H.V.M.N. Ketone can also regulate blood sugar in the short term. But it doesn’t require weeks of dieting to get into ketosis, so the effects on blood sugar are fundamentally different, because the body can still consume carbs and be in ketosis with H.V.M.N. Ketone.

Studies have shown that H.V.M.N. Ketone lowers blood sugar and may even reduce the insulin spike if you consume carbs.22 Maybe it’s not just the macros of the food you don’t consume—maybe the food you do eat can have a direct blood-sugar lowering effect.

Exercising Regularly

Regular exercise in conjunction with a proper diet can help you maintain or lose weight. People with type 2 diabetes can benefit from aerobic exercise, because physical activity is effective for reducing visceral fat as well as liver adipose tissue.

A single bout of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity for up to sixteen hours through multiple adaptations in glucose transport and metabolism.23 When you exercise, blood sugar is more effectively used for energy and muscle contraction.

Exercise can come in several forms including walking, running, biking, swimming, boxing, and weight lifting. The most important part of exercise is making the time to do it.

Regularly Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels will help determine where you stand. If you are pre-diabetic, it’s important to get levels down to normal range to prevent full diabetes from occurring.24 If you already have type 1 or type 2 diabetes you must regularly check and log blood sugar levels to prevent seizures or a diabetic coma.

If you are not pre-diabetic, type 1, or type 2, it is still important to check readings regularly. Blood sugar levels are fluid and always fluctuating. Based on test results, you can adjust your diet (or medication if applicable) to help regulate blood sugar levels.

There are different ways of checking blood sugar.

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Monitoring: fasted glucose levels are considered the baseline, used to compare against times when sugar was ben consumed. In order to obtain fasted plasma glucose, don’t eat for twelve hours prior to measurement. Then, prick your finger and obtain a small drop of blood to be used on a test strip. The strip is then placed into a glucose meter that reads blood sugar levels. Normal fasted glucose levels range from 100 – 125. If your blood sugar is 126 or higher you may be at risk for diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: in this method, you are given a measured dose of glucose (approximately 75g) after taking the fasting glucose test. Blood is tested prior to the intake of glucose, immediately afterwards, and two hours later. The two hour measurement is most important. Normal range is considered blood glucose of less than 140. If your blood sugar is 140 – 199 after the second test, you may be at risk for pre-diabetes. If your blood sugar is 200 or higher after the second test, you could be at risk for diabetes.
  • Hemoglobin A1C: this method of blood sugar testing provides data over a three month period. As blood sugar levels are elevated over time, the sugar molecules will bind with the hemoglobin. Some of the sugar molecules will bind with the hemoglobin. The HbA1C tests determines the percentage of hemoglobin with bound glucose and is considered a much better measurement of long term glucose control. Using a percentage of glycosylated Hb, the HbA1C tests determine the percentage of hemoglobin with bound glucose. Hb A1C tests consider A1C levels of 4.5 – 5.6 range to be normal. An A1C test of 5.7 – 6.4 is considered pre-diabetic and 6.5 or higher is considered diabetic.

Glucose levels can vary significantly depending on many outstanding factors, like sleep and diet. It’s important to continually monitor levels on a regular basis to get a clearer picture of health.

Lowering Blood Sugar for Overall Health

Keeping your blood sugar within normal recommended ranges is important for overall health.

By effectively controlling these levels you are less likely to develop diabetes. Make smart lifestyle decisions, including practicing regular exercise along with having a proper diet. There is no excuse when it comes to your health. Stay healthy. Stay strong. Stay happy.

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3 Things Cake Businesses Get Wrong

Launching a business cake is, for most people, like an extension on your home kitchen. If you enjoy spending time in your kitchen, baking is one of the most satisfying hobbies you can have. Ultimately, baking makes people happy – assuming your cakes are yummy, of course! Therefore, a lot of independent cake businesses start as a way of creating a little extra money on the side after a long week at the office. In time, the cake venture develops and forces business owners to move out of their home kitchen and buy or rent out their own professional premises, with a kitchen and a large area with tables and chairs for customers who prefer to consume their cake directly in the shop. 

However, cake shops are another type of customers, people who order their cake in advance to make sure it is ready for an event – from birthday parties to wedding receptions. Online browsers can turn into buyers – whether online or in the shop. They are your most profitable customers as a personalized order is likely to cost more than a standard slice bought in shop. However, too many cake businesses fail to meet their online browsing customers’ expectations. 

Pexels – CC0 License

Slow IT changes everything 

You can’t afford to have lousy technology. Your website, for instance, needs to load quickly. Customers don’t want to wait for your images to load. Therefore, it’s important to find the most suitable server solution for your site. Additionally, your customers are likely to share confidential data per email, such as sending photos and names for their cake order. Managed IT services can ensure that you get immediate access to their information without wasting time downloading images, for instance. Additionally, it also provides IT security, which keeps hackers at bay. 

You can’t personalize everything with fondant

Everybody wants a personal message on their cake. Whether you are dealing with birthday orders or special events, most people insist on injecting a little personality to their cake with a handwritten message or a small drawing. Could you draw a little Peppa Pig in the corner for my daughter, please? Could you write “Congratulations Sandy” in gothic font, please? For recurring requests, it’s a good idea to create a stencil using vinylcuttingmachineguide.com, which allows you to repeat the shape on every cake. Not only are you going to save a lot of time in the long run, but you can also make sure that you always deliver the best possible design for your clients. After all,  we’re all familiar with the cake wrecks website; you don’t want to end up there! 

Who says cakes have to be fattening?

Why should cakes always throw all your dieting efforts through the window? Cake shops need to find creative ways to create yummy and guilt-free recipes that will keep everybody happy. A simple strawberry cheesecake portion contains less than 150 calories, but it still puts a smile on your client’s face, if you can make it happen. 

Everybody loves cakes. But cake shops still have a few challenges to overcome before they can grow their businesses. From ensuring their IT is up-to-speed to designing guilt-free and healthy recipes, there is a lot to do before you can become the next cake boss in your community.

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Hemp How-to: Guide to Storing CBD Products and Other Hemp Supplements

how to store cbd products

Properly storing CBD products and other hemp oil supplements is key to preserving their freshness and making sure the cannabinoids don’t degrade or break down prematurely. You want to be able to get the maximum benefits from these products, and by observing the best practice when it comes to storing them, you don’t only extend their shelf life, you also preserve their potency.

There are three things hemp oil supplements don’t get along well with heat, light, and oxygen. So to make sure your CBD products are not compromised, always keep them in a place where these elements are well controlled. Here are a few things you need to remember when it comes to storing CBD products:

  1. Store CBD products in a cool place

Prolonged exposure to heat will definitely ruin your stash of hemp oil supplements and other CBD products. If you’re looking for a place to store them, make sure it’s never near appliances that produce heat like an oven, dryer, heater, or even the refrigerator. CBD oil does not have to be refrigerated, however, if you live in a hot, humid place it is a good idea to store it inside the fridge. The low temperature inside the fridge might thicken your CBD oil, so if this happens, just place the bottle under warm water and it should be ready for consumption in a few minutes.

Another thing to avoid is leaving your CBD products in the car. It could get really hot in there, and this condition could cause the cannabinoids to degrade and lose some of its therapeutic properties.

where to store cbd oil
  1. Keep CBD products out of direct sunlight

Like other similar neutraceuticals, CBD products and other hemp oil supplements could lose their efficacy when exposed to direct sunlight. Always keep them in their original bottles, which are usually opaque, as they’re designed to protect contents from light damage. Store in a dark cool place, away from open windows.

Along these same lines, be sure when buying CBD oil to look out for products which are sold in clear bottles or containers. The packaging may look beautiful, but being in a clear bottle means its cannabinoid content will degrade more quickly due to the extra light exposure.

Who remembers this old Sam Adams commercial? What they talk about here is exactly what happens to cannabidiol products…

  1. Keep CBD products sealed in air-tight containers

Oxygen can also contribute to the breakdown of natural cannabinoids, and could leave your precious CBD products less effective. This is why they usually come in air-tight containers that are specifically designed to keep the contents protected from air exposure. When storing CBD oil, make it a habit to double check if the lid or cap is properly and tightly closed after each use, to make sure air doesn’t seep in. Also, be sure to only buy CBD oil which comes in a completely sealed container. If the seal is broken, ask for a new one. 

How Long Does CBD Last Once Open?

After you’ve opened your CBD oil, you may be wondering what just happened to the shelf life. We analyzed CBD products from several major brands and found that most have an expiration date of one or two years, if refrigerated. Outside of the refrigerator, you can still expect a year shelf life if stored away from light, heat, and humidity.

How to tell if CBD Oil Has Gone Bad

Typically, a CBD supplement gets used far before it nears the end of its shelf life. However, it’s always good to know the signs of an expired hemp product.

If you’re new to CBD oil, take a moment to smell your product the first time you open it. In general, hemp oil has an aromatic and herbal smell. However, there are endless formulations out there that can affect the scent. Depending on the product, it could smell like olive oil, mint leaves, or any number of essential oils that may be used.

But once hemp oil goes bad, it’s bad. The once pleasant aroma turns unmistakeably rancid.

[RELATED ARTICLE: Full Spectrum CBD, Broad Spectrum CBD, Isolate, and PCR: Decoding the Difference]

Final Thoughts

CBD products and other hemp oil supplements usually last a year, if properly stored. Proper storage can definitely prevent degradation of cannabinoids and make sure you get the most out of them. However, you also have to consider other factors, like the method of preparation, ingredients used, and the actual finished product. CBD and hemp extracts typically have carrier oils, for example, and the shelf life of the product can be influenced by these base oils. In these cases, it’s best that you store them the way you would store their base oils, the most common being olive oil, MCT oil, and coconut oil.

If you choose to cook or bake with your hemp oil supplements, these can also contain perishable ingredients. These would expire more quickly, than say, capsules and oils, and would have the same storage requirements as their non-CBD versions.

Contributed Post. Article originally posted on https://madebyhemp.com/

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What are CBD Edibles?

What are CBD Edibles?

CBD edibles are edible nutritional supplements that come in the form of a chocolate or tasty chew. Made to mask the earthy flavor of hemp, edibles are a pleasant CBD option. The great taste of these products makes CBD appealing to a wide audience. With CBD edibles, you don’t have to sacrifice taste for strength; edibles are as potent and nutritious as other supplement forms.

Hemp-derived CBD edibles are legal in the United States and do not require a medical card for purchase. These products have the legal level of THC (less than 0.3%) and are non-intoxicating. With CBD edibles, you can enjoy the benefits of CBD without a high.

Why Should I Choose a CBD Edible?

The number one reason why customers choose edibles is for taste. Hemp has a distinct flavor that, to some, is difficult to get used to. (Watch: What Does Hemp Taste Like?) With edibles, the flavor of hemp is completely covered. A piece of chocolate or a gummy bear can serve both as a nutritional supplement and a sweet treat!

Edibles are a great introductory CBD product. They come in a familiar form and require no instruction. If you are consuming a different form of CBD, edibles can be used as a replacement for your daily bite of chocolate or gum for an extra serving of CBD.

When something is as delicious as CBD edibles, it’s difficult to forget to take them each day. These products taste so great that you’ll look forward to supplementing your routine with CBD!

How Do I Choose a CBD Edible?

There are many types of CBD edibles on the market which can make it difficult to know which product to choose. We suggest considering two things: potency and form. First, edibles can range greatly in potency. Some edibles have a low potency; with these products, you may need to take an additional supplement. There are other edibles that have a higher potency and can be taken as a sole daily supplement. (Read: How Much CBD Oil Should I Take?) Second, choosing an edible is a matter of preference. Do you like chocolate or more fruity treats? With the many options to choose from, you are sure to find a product that suits your taste.

How Many Edibles Should I Eat Per Serving?

Servings are going to differ by product and person; it is best to start with the recommended serving size on the label. You may find that your ideal serving size is more or less than the recommended amount. It’s best to take your time and try out different serving sizes to see what works best for you. Some people enjoy taking CBD in the morning with other nutritional supplements to start their day while others enjoy taking CBD at night for its calming effect.

Learn More About CBD Hemp Edibles

With CBD edibles, nutritional supplements are easy to remember and pleasant to take! If you struggle to remember to take nutritional supplements, then CBD edibles may be perfect for you.

Contributed Post. Article originally posted on https://madebyhemp.com/

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Three Easy Superfood Smoothies To Get Your Daily Dose Of Hemp Oil

in CBD NEWS

A new way to take your CBD…

Smoothies are a great way to start your day off on the right foot. These recipes are packed with clean, healthy ingredients as well as some of our favorite superfoods. Read on for some simple recipes to jump start your day!

Green Machine

1/2 dropper Spearmint flavored Tasty Drops (depending on serving size)

1 frozen banana

1/2 avocado

1/4-1/2 cup ice

1 cup almond, soy, or coconut milk

1-2 handfuls of spinach

1-2 tsp agave, maple syrup, honey, or other natural sweetener (optional)

Strawberry Dream:

1/2 dropper Berry flavored Tasty Drops (depending on serving size)

1 frozen banana

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup almond, soy, or coconut milk

1/4 cup ice

1 Tbsp almond butter

1 Tbsp ground flax seeds

2 tsp vanilla

1-2 tsp agave, maple syrup, honey, or other natural sweetener (optional)

Cacao Maca:

1/2 dropper Vanilla flavored Tasty Drops

1 frozen banana

2 Tbsp cacao or cocoa powder

1 tsp maca powder

1 Tbsp almond butter

1/4-1/2 cup ice

1-2 tsp agave, maple syrup, honey, or other natural sweetener (optional)

Contributed Post. Article originally posted on https://madebyhemp.com/

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Carb Cycling Guide for Athletes

Authored by Nate Martins •
January 9, 2019

10,080–that’s how many minutes are in a week. Maintaining a diet through all those minutes, for weeks or months, requires supreme, almost unwavering willpower.

Even The Rock doesn’t do it; his Sunday night cheat meals are stuff of legend, consisting of thousands of calories of his favorite food.

The social side of dieting is tough. It takes dedication to remain unmoved on a diet; happy hour invites, dinners out, work-sponsored lunches–saying “no” to all these are small wins on the battlefield of dieting. For a diet like the ketogenic diet, avoiding carbohydrates can feel like tip-toeing through a minefield of Western, carb-centric eating.

For athletes, it can be difficult because we rely so heavily on carbohydrates for fuel. Of course, there’s growing research about how to use bodily fat as a fuel source,1 but carbohydrates have been the gold standard exercise nutrition for years.

Carb cycling is planned consumption of different amounts of carbohydrates, usually throughout the week. Everyone can develop their own carb cycle based on need; for example, keto athletes might work in carb days during especially hard training blocks.

While carb cycling isn’t for everyone, it can be a great way to optimize a diet based on your personal needs.

What’s a Carb, Anyway?

There are three different types of macronutrient fuel sources in our food: fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

An image of an egg, granola, chicken and exogenous ketones to show the different ways the body uses fuel

The main function of dietary carbs is to be a source of energy. Some even argue they aren’t essential, and can be made from dietary protein and fat.2 This process is called gluconeogenesis, a metabolic pathway generating glucose from non-carbohydrate substrates.

Carbs (especially refined carbs) raise blood sugar, resulting in the body producing extra insulin to bring that blood sugar down. Insulin is a hormone that triggers fat storage–so more carbs means more insulin which means more conversion of carbs to fat stores.

As a fuel source, carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores in the muscle and liver. They also maintain blood glucose concentrations as fuel for the body, but also for the brain. That’s the spike in energy you experience after an afternoon stack, as blood glucose fluctuates throughout the day when we consume carbs.

Simply put, carbohydrates are the body’s most readily available fuel. But when we don’t use that fuel, carbohydrate manifest as fat.

When following a keto diet, lower carb intake is necessary (like 25g of carbs per day–the amount in a single banana). This encourages the body to burn fat and also to convert fat to ketones. Consuming carbohydrates causes insulin release, which inhibits ketone production in the liver.

Science Behind Carb Cycling

What is carb cycling, and why is it beneficial? Looking at the science can provide some clarity. Maybe a more accurate definition of carb cycling is carb manipulation.

The goal is to match the body’s need for glucose depending on activity or activity level overall.

High-Carb Days

High-carb days are usually matched with workouts when you might need more glucose–like high-intensity interval sessions or a long day in the weight room.

An image of a man at the gym showing how high-carb days can help performance

When you exercise at a high intensity, the body makes most of its energy from carbohydrates, either breaking it down aerobically (with oxygen), or anaerobically (without oxygen), forming lactic acid. This would be the optimal time to introduce a higher amount of carbohydrates into the diet because the body uses more carbohydrate during the workout itself, and then after the workout to make glycogen to refuel and decrease muscle breakdown.3

When looking for your highest possible power or speed output, carbs are often necessary for the body to produce its best results during intense training sessions.

Low-Carb Days

In traditional carb-cycling, low-carb days are meant for days on which you do not train–the idea is the body doesn’t need carbs because its demand for fuel is far less than on workout days.

A man stretching backwards doing yoga on a pillow

But further investigation by scientists have shown some of the advantages of training on these low carb days, which has two main benefits: it helps to speed up general adaptations to aerobic training, and it increases fat burning and thus improves endurance.

One of the key, groundbreaking experiments in this field was conducted using single-legged cycling exercise. Athletes had to cycle using just one leg at a time; the left leg cycled one hour straight, and the right leg did two half hours with a few hours in between where no recovery fuel was given. This means that the right leg was training in a carb depleted state during the second session. Muscle biopsy samples revealed that the twice-trained leg saw bigger gains in the enzymes that are key for aerobic respiration. This led to the conclusion that low-carb training could accelerate aerobic gains.4

Strategic low-carb days focus on switching the body back to using fat as energy and increase aerobic capacity. Research is continuing on this topic, but athletes are looking to boost the ability of the body to tap into fat as a fuel source, since we store more fat than carbohydrates.

Training in a low-carb state has been shown to increase the ability of the body to burn fat over the long haul, improving metabolic flexibility.5 There have even been studies noting keto-adapted athletes can use fat in preference to carbohydrates for moderate intensity endurance exercises, in which carbohydrates would usually be used as fuel.6

But it takes time. Robert Sikes is a professional bodybuilder and founder/owner of Keto Savage. He’s a bodybuilder on the keto diet; backstage at events, he receives inquisitive looks from competitors when they find out he’s keto. But the results speak for themselves and after events, he’ll even get asked about he’s able to train with such little carb intake. He says it can take years to full fat-adapt, and that it’s something that doesn’t happen in the short term.

“You need to allow yourself to be completely adapted to life without carbs. Play the long game. Be diligent with hitting macros and eating wholesome foods.”Robert Sikes

By controlling carbs, and the types of carbs consumed, there also may be a benefit in manipulating insulin and insulin responses.7,8 This would likely help with improving metabolic health.

It is becoming widely accepted that athletes should adopt carb cycling or periodization of carbs based on training needs. This ensures fuel for the work required (so training intensity isn’t compromised), while also empowering the body to metabolically trapeze between carbohydrates and fats as fuel sources as available.9

Is your training yielding minimal results?

Diet and training regimen should go hand-in-hand. We’re analyzing research to help athletes optimize training for their goals.

Benefits of Carb Cycling

The benefits are carb cycling are measured against personal goals. Do you want to improve body composition? How about improve training or recovery?

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with carb cycling to best understand its benefits.

An image of a male soccer player kicking the ball on the field

Body Composition

As with most diets, a major goal is usually weight loss. Because we consume such a high amount of calories as carbohydrates in Western diets, limiting those calories and carbs will ultimately lead to fat loss. The process aligns with most other diets: consume fewer calories than the body burns, enter a calorie deficit and promote weight loss.10

Though specific research on carb cycling is limited, generally studies show that limiting carb intake works well for weight loss. One study analyzed overweight women who had a family history of breast cancer. Three groups were randomly assigned different diets: calorie-restricted and low-carb diet, low-carb but unlimited protein and healthy fat, and a standard, calorie-restricted diet. Women in both low-carbohydrate groups showed better results for weight loss.11

Performance and Recovery

Training in a low-carb state can help with weight loss, boost fat burning capacity, and can speed up aerobic adaptation to training. However, athletes face a compromise when employing low-carb diets; they need the carbohydrates to perform at the highest intensity (especially in a race), and want to keep that energy system working well, but still want the benefits of carb restriction.

Making sure the body has carbs for tough training can help performance. The body needs fuel for the most difficult exercise days. Since carbohydrates are the body’s most readily available fuel source, consuming carbs before a workout enables the body to train harder for high-intensity, short-duration exercise.12 Interestingly, even the presence of carbohydrates in the mouth (meaning, not actually ingested) can lead to increased performance, because they activated brain regions believed to be involved in reward and motor control.13

Carbs can also help accelerate recovery. After exercise, consuming carbohydrates can lead to glycogen resynthesis and protein synthesis (after resistance training).14,3 So, it’s easier to perform and recover if you have enough carbohydrate in your diet. Carb cycling means those big training days can be high quality.

Other Benefits

By cycling carbohydrate consumption, you may be afforded some of the benefits of both higher-carb and lower-carb diets–and avoid some of the common negative side-effects.

Metabolic Health: The combination of two types of diets may help you become metabolically flexible.5

The days with low-carbs may have a positive impact on insulin sensitivity; this study showed the benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet on glucose metabolism, lowering fasting glucose and insulin values.8 And when compared to a low-fat diet, a low-carb diet led to greater weight loss, which in turn led to a decrease in triglyceride levels15–high levels of triglycerides have been associated with cardiovascular disease.16

Hormone Health: There are some concerns that hormones might be negatively affected by a badly put together low-carb diet, but this could be mitigated by strategic carb feeding.

High-carb feeding periods can potentially boost the levels of some vital hormones, like cortisol. There are some concerns that cortisol can decline when following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet (although not much research supports this fear). To combat this possibility, either make sure your keto diet is well-formulated with enough calories and nutrients,17 or cycle periods of carbohydrate feeding to give your body a break.

In men, testosterone concentrations were higher after a ten-day high-carbohydrate diet, while cortisol concentrations were consistently lowered on the same diet, suggesting the power of diet (specifically the ratio of carbohydrate to protein) as a factor in hormone regulation.16

Thyroid hormones are essential to regulating metabolism,18 being crucial determinants of resting metabolic rate. But they themselves are in turn regulated by diet and metabolism because glucose fuels the production of those thyroid hormones. The thyroid produces a large amount of T4 hormones, which are then converted into T3 hormones (T3 is the active thyroid hormone influencing many body processes). When carb intake is reduced, conversion of T4 to T3 reduces.19 People worry that this might lead to a lower metabolic rate and thus slow down weight loss with a low-carb diet

Longevity: The ketogenic diet may help to increase lifespan and health.

This might be increased further by taking a cyclical approach to the diet: alternating high-carb and low-carb weeks. One study fed a ketogenic diet to mice every other week. Results showed avoidance of obesity, reducing midlife mortality, and prevented memory decline.20

How to Carb Cycle

Anyone from the amateur dieter to the serious athlete can carb cycle. There are different options for how carefully you implement carb cycling, depending on training and recovery needs as well as your overall goals.

Creating a schedule, tracking your progress and targeting carbohydrate intake can help develop a well-formulated plan to succeed cycling carbs.

Create a Schedule

Before a single carb touches your lips, think about your goals. These will formulate your carb cycling plan.

A guide to scheduling carb cycles, with a woman studying, a woman lifting weights, an avocado and a fitness watch

Do you want to lose weight, or maintain weight? Do you want to boost aerobic fat burning capacity or target a lean body composition?

Then consider your typical training week. Which days are your most intense workouts? Which days can you recover, even without carbs? Do you meal prep to make sure you get enough quality, low-carb foods?

Serious athletes might want to take it one step further and consider carb cycling over a longer period, to keep up with training or competition cycle. Instead of breaking up a single week into high-carb and low-carb days, each week would have a different carbohydrate goal. Weeks with a heavy training load would be carb-heavy, while weeks with a lower training load or coming into a weigh-in could be more low/moderate-carb.

Your answers to these questions will determine how you go about cycling carbs. Don’t be afraid to change the schedule and be a bit flexible once you get started.

Log calories and macros

Establishing a calorie goal could prove helpful (especially if you’re trying to lose weight). Multiply your bodyweight by ten, and that’s the amount of calories to work toward if you want to lose weight. To gain weight, you can multiply your bodyweight by 15 to garner a ballpark daily calorie target.

Tracking your macros in a food journal or an app will help keep you accountable. Taking note of everything you eat will let you make sure you get enough calories from the right type of macronutrients while giving you a better understanding of how diet impacts your training output.

Target for a High-Carb Day

High-carb days should accompany your toughest training sessions of the week, such as intense intervals or prolonged weight training. These days call for about 2g of carbs per pound of bodyweight, and they’ll be your highest calories days. If you’re working out four times a week, and weight training once or twice a week, then you should have about one or two high-carb days each week.

Note that you might want to eat high-carb the night before a heavy morning workout to make sure that you are fueled up and ready to go, even if the training on that day was not that intense.

Target for a Medium or Low-Carb Day

Low-carb or medium-carb days can be used to fuel less-intense workouts or recovery days. Depending on training volume, low/medium carb days can be anywhere from 50g – 150g of carbs.

Training low doesn’t mean training on zero carbohydrates. On low-carb days, be sure to prioritize other macronutrients such as good quality protein and fat. High protein intake is important for post-workout recovery and the development of muscle mass. When cutting back on carbs, make sure you get enough calories, and the bulk of these should come from fat.

There are a few strategies that you can use to control your carb intake around your training sessions.

Training low: start your training having limited your carb intake beforehand. Implementing this strategy is simple. You may wake up and workout in the morning without eating before. You may even increase the effect by limiting carb intake the night before. If you workout during the evening, you may limit carbs from morning until that evening training session.

Sleeping low: don’t refuel using carbs after a workout, and stretch out the period before you refuel by sleeping overnight before refuelling with carbs at breakfast. This has shown promise, with a recent review in elite cyclists describing how the “sleep low, train low” method (where morning exercise commences with less than 200 mM of glycogen), improved results for cycling efficiency.20

On low-carb days, be clever to ensure quality training and recovery. Performing on a low-carb day can be difficult, so consider taking a low-carb or keto energy source, such as HVMN Ketone. Elite athletes have used HVMN Ketone to give them BHB as a fuel during high intensity time trials, showing that if you really want to avoid carbs, swapping in ketones can be a great energy alternative.

Another way to get a boost is to mouth rinse with carbs; this can improve performance without needing to actually eat carbs. You can also use caffeine before your workout, which is another reliable, carb-free way to get your body ready to perform.

What about recovery? BHB from HVMN Ketone is a carb-free alternative for recovery on low-carb days. Studies have shown that not only is less glycogen broken down in training with HVMN Ketone,21 but glycogen22 and protein resynthesis23 are also increased by 60% and 2x respectively. BHB could be a great way to help protect your recovery but also keep carb intake low.

Foods to Remember

An image of oats, broccoli and blueberries showing helpful carbs, food low in carbs and foods with fiber

With all this talk of carbs, you need to know where to find them so you can either stock up or steer clear.

A carb cycling diet requires high quality, healthy carbs and whole foods. Every once in a while it’s fine to treat yourself in epic, The Rock-like proportions, but from day-to-day, it’s all about maintaining balance. Good carbs include whole grains (like brown rice and oats), legumes (like beans, a good slow-digesting carb) and tubers (sweet potatoes).

Foods low in carbs include meat (beef, chicken, fish), eggs, vegetables (like bell peppers, broccoli and mushrooms), nuts (almonds, walnuts) and dairy (cheese, yogurt). Building a meal plan to incorporate all these types of food should help with each phase of the carb cycling. Even better? Meal prepping, so the stress of cooking depending on the day goes out the window.

But don’t forget about fiber; it plays an important role in weight loss, energy maintenance, regulating blood sugar and controlling hunger. Though fiber is a carb, it doesn’t raise blood sugar like other carbs and plays an important metabolic role because it doesn’t convert to glucose.

Is Carb Cycling Right For You?

It depends on your goals. It also requires some experimentation–based on your lifestyle and fitness routine, finding the right balance of high-carb and low-carb days can take some time and will probably change over the long-term.

What’s nice about carb cycling is the flexibility. It empowers a dieter some choice, while also providing the ability to fuel on days where it’s required, like ahead of intense training sessions. Benefiting from each could help an athlete reach goals for exercise, as well as goals for body composition. But remember to check with your doctor before implementing such wholesale changes to the way you eat.

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