Friday, August 29, 2014

Stress and Sugar

Stress Hormones and Sugar Cravings: Be Strategically Prepared!
We have all been there:  It’s a day packed with looming deadlines, demands and it feels like the more time that passes, the further behind you are.  Corisol and adrenaline, the “stress hormones” are coursing through your body.  In times of extreme danger (like when being confronted by a bear or a burning down house), these hormones can be life saving as they give you a boost to fight the danger or flee.  Adrenaline increases blood pressure, the heart rate and energy supplies.  Cortisol allows the brain to efficiently use glucose which is elevated due to the stress hormones while suppressing other body functions.  When in a high stress situation, cortisol dampens the digestive and reproductive systems.  When stress is high, sugar cravings can strike leading to destructive up-and-down blood sugar levels and fatigue.
This article summarizes information from the Mayo Clinic  and this article, discussing how stress can be life saving- or wreck havoc and how to strategically cope with the stress related sugar cravings.
Usually the trigger to the stress or the threat pass with time.  The bear lumbers away (or you’ve run to safety) and the burning house is extinguished.  But what happens when the stressors and threats don’t go away and you for whatever reasons, you haven’t mastered stress management?  Being in stress over-drive can have serious detrimental effects to both the mind and body- and ultimately, your life.  Anxiety, depression, heart disease, sleep issues, digestion maladies, weight gain and even a compromised ability to remember and concentrate are all potential consequences of prolonged and elevated stress hormone levels.  
We have all heard of different ways to cope with stress; meditation, exercise, taking time for personal hobbies, deep breathing techniques.   The trick is to implement these good strategies and decisions into daily life and make them habit.  A healthy diet can work wonders in battling stress.  Eating well and limiting sugar intake allows the body and mind to better cope with life’s stress.  The tricky part is, many of us crave more sugar when under stress! As other Kay’s natural Blog posts such as THIS ONE  have discussed, too much sugar creates a continuous roller coaster of blood sugar and insulin levels.  Too much sugar and too much stress are a recipe for fatigue and health problems.  So when under stress and the sugar cravings are high, what is person to do?
  • Don’t keep “junk” food around.  If its there when you’re stressed, you’ll probably eat it!
  • Plan Ahead- keep healty, low sugar, high protein snacks available.  When possible,  divide into reasonable portions, all the better to avoid mindlessly overeating when the stress hormones kick into overdrive.  Having  your own snacks will make avoiding the sugar laden candy bowl or the vending machine easier.
  • Don’t forget to eat healthy meals too!  When trying to reach a deadline it seems like skipping a meal to make a deadline is a good idea.  But remember, your body needs proper nutrition all the more when under stress.  In the long it will be worth it and a meal will fuel you to think better and faster.
Stress is a part of daily life.  The hormones cortisol and adrenaline propel us through short-term stressors and daily habits aid us to deal with routine stress.  In addition to these hormonal fluctuations and life style choices, eating healthy snacks or “mini meals” during the day fuel the body and mind ti better master stress and related sugar cravings. Stave off low blood sugar in the first place by keeping grab and go option like fruit, nuts and Kay’s Naturals in your desk, car and pantry.   
Additional helpful information on how to eat your way to a happy heart can found at the Mayo Clinic’s Stress Management website.  

This article is only for educational purposes and should not replace the advice of a doctor or healthcare provider.

The food we eat can have a tremendous effect on how our bodies function. This is especially true for our cardiovascular health. The foods we consume play a direct role in cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Eating healthy foods can also prevent future health problems from occurring. Making some simple changes to your diet can have you feeling better and healthier in no time. This article will identify some food to avoid or enjoy due to the way they affect cardiovascular health. The information relayed here was obtained from an article published by the University of California, San Francisco.
For heart-healthy diet follow these guidelines:

Low in sugar
Sugar can harm our cardiovascular healthy. Sugar is problematic for people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome because it stimulates insulin production. Additionally, sugary foods are generally high calorie and can cause overeating and weight gain. Finally, overeating simple sugars can also raise blood levels of triglycerides.
Carbohydrates, and a bit of sugar, can be apart of your diet. According to UCSF, “a heart-healthy diet includes fruit, vegetables, grains and yogurt and milk for some — all of which contain naturally occurring sugars. Because these foods provide important vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, the body's main fuel source, they should be a regular part of the diet.”
Low in sodium
The average American eats twice the recommended amount of salt each day. Reducing sodium intake is one of best things we can do to make our hearts happy. Although, sodium sensitivity varies person to person, sodium reduction can help decrease blood pressure significantly in many people. A low sodium diet can also delay or prevent high blood pressure as we age. It is good to aim consum 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day or less (1/2 to 1 teaspoon of table salt).
Low in trans and saturated fats
Avoid Saturated fats because they raise blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. Only 7 percent of our calories should come from saturated fats each day. (A daily diet of 2,000 calories can have 16 grams of saturated fat, or less than 3 ounces of cheese.) To eat less saturated fat minimize consumption of meat (especially high processed meats such as bologna and sausage), cheese, butter and cream.
Trans fats damage our heart healthy because they raise LDL cholesterol and also decrease the "good cholesterol," high-density lipoprotein (HDL). There is no recommended level of trans fat because any amount can be harmful. Trans fats are most often found in food made with partially hydrogenated oils or has been deep fried. Fat altogether is not bad. Up to 35% of a heart-healthy diet can come from fat, it the fat is mostly mono- and polyunsaturated.  (For a 2,000 calorie daily diet that is a maximum of 78 grams of fat.)

Low in cholesterol
Cholesterol intake should be limited. Meats, egg yolks, organ meats, shrimp and squid are high in cholesterol. Minimize cholesterol-rich foods to once a week if you have the the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

High in omega-3 fats
According to UCSF , “Omega-3 fat, in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), is being studied to find out exactly how it benefits health. So far, evidence is strongest for omega-3 fat's ability to lower blood pressure and decrease blood levels of triglycerides. At the UCSF Cardiovascular Care and Prevention Center, we recommend eating fish frequently — at least two times per week.”

High in fiber
Currently, the average American eats about about half the recommended amount of fiber. We should be consuming at least 25-30 grams everyday. Fiber is an essential part of a heart-healthy diet, Soluble fiber is especially important because it decreases blood cholesterol. Fruits, legumes, and vegetables are often high in fiber.

Eating to nurture a healthy heart does not have to be at the expense of convenience and taste. Kay’s Naturals can be apart of your heart-healthy diet because all of our products are low sodium, low sugar, low fat, and high in fiber. All our products are diabetes friends, certified gluten free, and have great taste. To learn more, visit our website!
Additional helpful information on how to eat your way to a happy heart can found at the website heart healthy.

This article is only for educational purposes and should not replace the advice of a doctor or healthcare provider.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Which is better at helping women lose weight: aerobic exercise or high-intensity training?

High-intensity training and strength training are frequently touted as the best way to quickly lose weight. Google “HIT” and  hundreds of thousands of blogs and articles appear. Many trainers are avid supporters. This news article says, “strength training is the best way to lose weight.” While others say, “aerobic exercise is better for weight loss than high intensity interval training.” Knowing what is fact and what is fiction is no small feat in the online dieting world. We scored dozens of scholarly journals and news articles to find what was better: high intensity strength training (HIT) or aerobic exercise.

A puzzle with many pieces

There are many reasons why trainers and dieters have had success with HIT. According to professor James Timmons, “HIT is really good at improving glucose uptake into the muscles in a very, very short time. With really intense exercise, you release hormones that can help break down fat. This may help burn that fat over time after HIT is done.” An article published in Business Insider Australia quotes Florida-based trainer and fitness author Nick Tumminello, “if you’re looking to lose fat, go with strength training.” According to the article, strength training will burn calories up to 72 hours after training, due to the phenomenon, after-burn. In addition to after-burn and improving glucose uptake, HIT and strength training are high intensity and is therefore faster at burning more calories than aerobic exercise. Recent scientific research, however, says HIT isn’t the best way for women to lose weight and get fit, especially if you are a women with weight you would like to loose around your middle.

Many women are tired of hearing men say how quickly they can lose weight when they go to the gym. This can lead to a sense of failure, but the bitter truth is that women are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to burning calories. According to study published in Europe PubMed Central, an increase in resting metabolic rate does not increase in women who strength train. “Women showed no significant increase” in their resting metabolic rate (RMR)  when strength training, but men of all ages showed “significant elevation in RMR.” This means that most men burn more calories because of their size and because of a increased RMR. With no increase in RMR for strength training, that afterburn effect is also minimized in women. Thats one strike against HIT as being the fastest way to lose weight.

“High-intensity interval training… has been touted as the quickest way to get lean but according to new research, it’s no fast track to fat loss,”  was published in the Toronto Sun. The Toronto Sun and the shared the recent findings of the first controlled-trial of continuous aerobic exercise versus HIT. The study was published in the Journal of Obesity. “Regular continuous aerobic exercise yields better fat loss results than high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts for overweight people.”,  said Dr Keating, the conductor of the trial. She is quoted in the Telegraph as saying, “forget the claims HIIT workouts can whip overweight people into shape in less time than regular aerobic exercise — it’s more efficient to workout regularly at a continuous intensity to achieve a fat loss goal.” HIT does increase fitness, but it lacks the ‘fat furnace’ effect if an individual carries weight around the middle. According to Keating,”if you're hitting the gym to lose weight and trim your waistline, stick with steady aerobic exercise to shift abdominal fat and (you'll) see better results on the scales.” Two strikes against HIT claims as being the ultimate weight loss solution.

Another article article, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, states that resting metabolic rate, “ declines significantly for individuals who diet and strength training, diet and aerobic training, or only diet.” This means that metabolism lowers during dieting, even when doing HIT. Regardless of how each person worked out (aerobic or HIT) in the clinical trial, the average weight loss was nine kilograms over eight weeks. This suggests that aerobic and strength training will lead to similar results in weight loss and have the same effect of lowering resting metabolic rate. Three strikes against HIT as the best weight loss exercise.

Two is better than one

Despite the hype, it appears that HIT is not the magic bullet to weight loss many claim it to be. Comprehensive studies suggest that combined endurance and strength training is the best way to lose weight, improve physical fitness, and increase metabolic health. The dynamic duo will help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals better than either method alone.  At Kay’s, we agree in this approach. It's time for the proponents of the two most popular exercise groups to acknowledge the benefits of doing both!

If you are dieting and would like your snacks and cereals to make it easier  for you to stick to your weight loss goals- you are in the right place. Kay’s is  a low-calorie snack with an intense crunch and high-protein. Shop online to see our full range of products.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting over our fat fear.

It’s time to crush our fat fear. Recent research is telling us that fat doesn’t make us fat. The real villain is sugar. Here on the Kay’s Naturals blog we have discussed the ills of sugar. Our brains treat it like a drug, it causes metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, neurological damage, memory loss… and the list goes on. Concurrently, we are learning that monounsaturated fats actually help prevent heart diseases, such as nuts, avocados and peanut butter. This flies in the face of everything we were told in the in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Its time to retrain our brains on what we think is healthy.
Desserts are a prime example of how America’s poor choices have become habituated.  Twizzlers are a favorite candy in part because it is low fat; while a Snickers bar is often considered akin to evil. What do you think is better, an entire Snickers bar or 6 Twizzlers? Lets compare:
Serving size: 1 unit, 52.7 grams
Serving size: 6 Pieces, 54 grams
Calories: 250
Calories: 240
Total fat: 12 grams
Total fat: 0.75 grams
Sodium: 120 milligrams
Sodium: 127.5 milligrams
Sugars: 27 grams
Sugars: 28.5 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Protein: 1.5 grams
Calcium: 4%
Calcium: 0%
Fiber: 4%
Fiber: 0%
(A Twizzlers serving size is 4 pieces. The number was raised to make the comparison more equal by making both candy have about the same mass.)
They are nearly equal. It is true that a Snickers bar has more fat, protein, fiber and calcium. What candy will satisfy your hunger longer? Research shows that fats actually curb appetite because it releases the fullness hormone cholecystokinin. One point for Snickers. Which one will make our blood sugar spike faster? Because of the fiber and protein, Snickers will be slower to burn and have a less dramatic spike. Two points for Snickers. Although it has more fat, Snickers takes a (marginal) lead as the healthier option (though, we advocating for neither. because both are full of the refined sugars that harms us). This comparison highlights how our misconceptions of the health effects of sugar and fat can to potentially hazardous health choices. We perceive low-fat foods to be a favorable option because we believe the fat myth: that fat makes us fat and sugar doesn’t.
Congress generated the fat fear in 1976 when little was understood about the link between diet, health and nutrition. With what the little information they did possess Congress created the first dietary guidelines for the United States due to the startling increase of heart attacks. Congresses groundbreaking and misguided legislation still affects our food choices today.The premise was simple: fat causes heart disease and should be avoided at all costs. Meanwhile, carbohydrates were believed to be healthy and became the foundation of our food pyramid.
A walk in a grocery store is an excellent example of how this legislation has played out. Low-fat and fat free yogurt options rang range in the hundreds, but full fat and low sugar yogurt is difficult to find. To compensate for removing fat, manufactures have added sugar to make it palatable. For example, a single serving of vanilla Yoplait yogurt has nearly as much sugar as a Snickers bar with a whopping 24.9 grams.
With the new dietary guidelines in place and a full blown fat-phobia in motion, food manufacturers began to make low-fat cheese, low-fat ice cream, low-fat milk, low-fat everything. They also started to add sugar to bread, ketchup, meat, soup, salad dressings, etc.  In households across the US fatty foods like whole milk were banned and the bagels, crackers and pasta streamed in. Fast-forward 48 years and our national health has only depreciated.
The no-fat, pro-carb approach clearly hasn’t worked. Data from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that caloric intake has increased by 24.5%. That is a staggering increase of 530 calories a day. Carbohydrate consumption increased the most, at 9.5 percent. There has been a nine percent increase in oil and fats and a five percent increase in sugar consumption. This accounts for the rise in obesity, which has more than doubled since the 1970’s (Food Research and Action Center). Is it any wonder that obesity and diabetes are epidemic when the average American consumes 500 calories of added sugar a day? (
The World Health Organization suggests that 5% of our caloric intake should come from sugar. That’s 100 calories or 25 grams of sugar a day with a 2,000 calorie diet. Lets put that in perspective. If you enjoy a low-fat cup of vanilla Yoplait for breakfast, then your are done with sugar for the day. That means no sugary peanut-butter, or a ½ cup serving of Campbell's Tomato Soup (12 grams of sugar). Even milk is a no go, as one cup of milk has 12 grams of sugar. With so much sugar lurking around in what is easily perceived as healthy, cutting sugar consumption to 25 grams a day can sound nearly impossible.
The trick to consuming less sugar is done simply by selecting food wisely and knowing what is healthy. According to the Center for Disease Control and Protection, 20%-35% of our daily caloric intake should come from fat. That means you can replace the high-sugar low-fat yogurt with greek yogurt  (3.2 grams of sugar but 8 grams of fat), dump most processed foods, and replace the fat-free ice cream with a couple of pieces of antioxidant rich dark chocolate. If you are consuming the correct amount of fats and nutrition everyday, it's likely that your body will feel satisfied, even without the desserts.
In short, it’s a time rejoice and welcome back a bit of healthy fat! Retrain your brain and trade the high sugar snack (think toast, Twizzler, bagel) with a bag of nuts. And never, ever, buy fat-free ice cream again. It has just as many calories as the full fat version and more likely to give you cancer because it has much more sugar.
Lastly, indulge. Order some cookies from Kay’s Naturals. We satisfy cravings like no other and our Cookie Bites have only 3 grams of carbs and 3 grams of sugar! Sounds to good to be true? It’s not! We happen to have a food scientist who is extremely passionate about providing healthy snacks and cereals to create healthier communities. Sometimes to be healthy, we just need to explore all of our options.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The dish on Gluten Free Labeling

If you are new to the gluten free community, or a long time member, you probably have some questions about the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) approved Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule. There has been significant anticipation, talk, and differing opinions about the rule. So much so, that it has left many of us confused. Within this brief article, we will highlight what you need to know about gluten-free labeling, and why.

The FDA announced the gluten-free food-labeling rule on August 2, 2013. Essentially, is binds any food manufacturer who decides to puts “gluten-free” on their product, to ensure it has less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule is not yet in effect; it starts on August 5th, 2014.
Not all foods are mandated by this ruling
  • Foods that are not mandated by this ruling include meat, poultry (and anything else regulated by USDA)
  • Alcohol that contains more than 7% of alcohol by volume as well as malted beverages made with malted barley or hops
Manufacturers are not required to test their products to ensure they are gluten-free.
Although manufacturers are not required to test for gluten in their products, they are responsible for ensuring that their food has less than 20 ppm of gluten. It is up to them to decide how they determine if their  product is gluten-free.
20 ppm of gluten as the food industry standard because it is impossible to accurately test for zero ppm.
With feedback from the scientific and medical communities, the FDA adopted the industry standard of 20 ppm as a safe serving of gluten for individuals with celiac disease. Additionally, there are no ‘scientifically valid ways to accurately detect gluten below 20 ppm. “The 20 ppm is a scientifically determined level of gluten that has been shown to be tolerated by those with celiac disease. It is in line with standards in other countries.” (
According to the Center for Celiac Research, most individuals with celiac disease can safely consume 10 milligrams of gluten per day. This is about one-eighth of a teaspoon of flour, or 18 slices of bread with each slice containing 20 ppm of gluten.
Manufactured are encouraged to start following this rule now, but are not legally bound. Look for Gluten-Free Certified labels if you want to be certain. Rest assured that all of Kay’s Naturals is certified gluten free and is made in an entirely gluten-free facility!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Food habits to aid your strength training routine

Strength training is not only for bodybuilders. The massive benefits of strength training range from normalizing hormones, increasing metabolism and insulin sensitivity, and reducing inflammation and anxiety. Thankfully strength training is gaining traction among the public, especially for women! If you are taking control of your health and starting a strength training routine, that is fabulous! Here are some food tips to assist in your endeavour to get healthy through strength training.

General tips

Always drink heaps of water and eat an abundance of vegetables. Don’t overestimate the amount of calories burned, and then overeat post-workout. A run does not mean its Twinkie time! If your goal is to loss weight, diet will still be the single greatest thing taking the pounds off. These are the fundamentals of any healthy lifestyle. Now for the unique nutritional needs of the body when strength training.

Time your snacking

Eat a snack before your workout to give yourself the extra fuel needed to push harder. According to Women’s Health, a high-carb snack of 100-200 calories, like a piece of fruit, is ideal. If your goal is weight loss, and your running first thing in the morning, it is okay to hold off on breakfast until after your workout. But if your goal is performance related, grab an apple.

Have a snack or meal within 30 minutes post workout. Your muscles need to recover, and what you eat will have a major effect on your muscles ability to do so quickly. If you can time your workout to end right before a meal, great. If not, aim for a 100-200 calorie snack that has more protein than carbs (like any of Kay’s Naturals snacks).

Protein Power

We strength train to increase our muscles power and protein has the power to repair them. So, eat lots of it. Recommended amount of protein consumption will change with every food scientist, bodybuilder, and nutritionists you talk too. Too much protein can have a negative effect on the body, but that doesn't mean protein is required for the whole body to function well. Protein isn’t just needed for tissue repair! The human body is unique and incredibly complex, and clinical studies have suggested slightly different amounts. According to today’s research, most agree that one gram per pound is helpful for those in a strength training program. “Protein has been typecast as something that will make you big and strong, but muscle growth is not controlled by the level of protein one takes; rather it is the growth demand caused by intense training or stress that will ultimately determine how much protein one should take in.” ( So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be eating 150 grams of protein daily! To consume a 1:1 protein to pound ratio, without going off the charts on calorie consumption, will require a bit of food sense and  mindfulness. This is one reason so many love Kay’s Naturals. Our snacks allow strength trainers to indulge in a snack or sweet without consuming loads of calories, carbs or sugar, while helping them consume enough protein. All of our snacks, whether its a cookie, chip, or pretzel, is packed with 12 grams of protein per serving!

Strengthening Fats

Joint recovery is necessary for strength training. According to Muscle and Fitness, “healthy fats are also important as they not only offer multiple health benefits but they help you stay lean and help your joints recover.” Sources of healthy monounsaturated fat include mixed nuts, uncooked olive oil, avocados, and peanut butter. Fish such as white tuna and salmon, will give you essential omega-3 fats. Flaxseed and walnuts are abundant in Omega-3’s, as well. Surprisingly, about 30% of your total daily calories should come from fat. So, enjoy your healthy fats to keep your body lean and joints strong.

Now, who is ready stock up on healthy carbs, proteins and fats, and then head to the gym!?