FIT Talk With Tania  

Turning on your metabolism after age 50

Eating right as you age

As we age, the melody of our metabolism tends to slow down, often leading to feelings of frustration, fatigue, helplessness and depression.

Hitting the milestone of turning 50, however, does not mean you ladies (or gentlemen) have to resign yourselves to this slower pace, and all the negativity that comes with. You can retune your body, refire you metabolism and reverse those debilitating symptoms, and it doesn't require shots, magic pills, surgery or sculpting to make it happen. In fact, those things often make things worse.

Instead, when you focus on putting together the foods you love in a way that creates hormonal balance and stabilizes blood sugar, your body and all its systems become balanced, allowing you to achieve the results you want and get to keep because it works with the way your body was designed to function. Exactly the opposite to all the diets, quick fixes, and invasive procedures out there.

It's important to recognize there are biological shifts that occur in an around our 50s. Our bodies experience changes in hormone levels, muscle mass and metabolic rate. All of these can be minimized however and drastic changes don't have to be the norm, unless you let them. The small things we do – or don't do – consistently over time are what got us where we are today.

Ironically, that same principle of small things – I call it 1% - is what will also get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Hormonal balance is the key to keeping your metabolism turned on and firing. As we age, fluctuations in hormones, like estrogen, testosterone and insulin, can lead to slower metabolism, increased fat storage, especially around the midsection, low energy, poor sleep and changes in mood. The secret to navigating these changes lies in how you're fuelling your body. There are six “plates” involved in serving up our health – nutrition, exercise/movement, water, stress, sleep and supplementation. Nutrition—our food—is the foundation.

Like any structure, without a strong foundation it's not going to last very long. Removing foods that are known to cause or trigger inflammation and incorporating more single-ingredient foods is a great place to start.

Gluten, grains, soy, dairy, alcohol, sugar, coffee, are known to cause inflammation in most people. As well, anything that comes in a package, box, bag can or wrapper will have toxins and chemicals that your liver needs to deal with, not to mention processed items cause blood sugar to spike, resulting in fat storage.

Focusing on a diet that stabilizes blood sugar levels is crucial. Consistent, high spikes in blood sugar over time can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where the body's cells don't respond effectively to insulin, causing the pancreas to become overworked. Eventually that will result in diabetes if not checked.

To counteract that, embracing a diet rich in fibre, clean proteins and healthy fats—in the right portions—makes a world of difference. Those nutrients slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, providing a stable energy release and keeping hunger at bay. Think colourful plates filled with leafy greens, veggies, berries, healthy fats and clean proteins.

Keeping your plates up and spinning consistently will get you where you want to be. Think of the circus juggler. He gets them up one at a time and when they're all up it's a beautiful show of balance. When one starts to wobble, all he has to do is adjust position and it's all good. It’s the same with our six “plates.” When life happens to knock us off track, identify which plates are wobbly, make the adjustments and you're back on track.

Eating a protein, fat and carb, together within the first hour of waking, and then every three to four hours throughout the day, will keep your hormones balanced, blood sugar stabilized and nutrition plate spinning. Adding daily exercise, including strength training, helps build muscle which supports metabolism and helps your body burn more fat.

Drink more water than any other beverage, including coffee, to flush out toxins and fat and support cognitive function, memory, focus and productivity.

Manage stress. Living in a constant state of stress, anxiety and/or on edge triggers your body to release cortisol, store fat and slow metabolism.

Get enough good quality sleep. Without it, your body can't properly metabolize the food you put in, and the hormones that send the hunger and full signals get mixed up making you eat more than you normally would.

Find and fill your nutritional gaps. We all have gaps, and knowing where your deficiencies life and how to fill them supports all other areas of your health, well-being and hormonal balance.

You don't have to do it all to get results, but you do have to start. Start with what you put on your plate and go from there.

I coach my clients to be “all in,” but at 1%. Anyone can do something 1% better for their health today than they did yesterday.

Commit to being consistent with that and you'll be amazed where you'll be with your health this time next year.

For more information on hormonal balance and blood sugar stabilization, watch Tania's free 15mins video.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Breakfast cereal for dinner is a bad idea

More dessert than dinner

By now you've probably seen that ridiculous suggestion the CEO of Kellogg's proposed for consumers wanting to save money when it comes to groceries and getting dinner on the table.

It was a suggestion that not only raised a few eyebrows among the media and any rational-thinker, it downright raised the hair on the backs of the necks of any health professional worth his or her salt—the concept of having cereal for dinner.

At first glance, the suggestion might seem appealing for its convenience and the nostalgic comfort associated with a bowl of cereal. Who doesn't remember sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of something sweet and crunchy, watching Saturday morning cartoons?

But since neither convenience nor nostalgia care at all about the potential health risks this habit might pose for both kids and adults, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to talk about it.

Most commercially available cereals, especially those marketed towards children, are high in sugars and refined carbohydrates, while severely lacking in essential nutrients.

“Fortified with...” is creative marketing, merely alluding to health but never actually providing anything of substance. Honestly, cereal is more in line with being a dessert than it is with being a meal— breakfast or dinner.

A diet that frequently contains cereals—really, any ultra-processed foods—can lead to nutritional deficiencies and the complications that go with that.

Our bodies require balanced meals that include proteins, healthy fats and nutrient-dense carbohydrates in order to support growth and repair, give us energy and the ability to focus and concentrate. Fuelling with balanced nutrition rather than just filling the stomach, creates hormonal balance, stabilizes blood sugar and allows the body to achieve and maintain a healthy weight naturally.

One cereal meal is bad enough. Overall health, including that of our children, is the absolute worst it's ever been. Imagine the impact doubling this unhealthy intake would have. Not a very happy picture that's for sure, not to mention the stress it would put on our already strained health care system.

High sugar content is one of the most obvious and concerning aspects of considering cereal as a dinner option. Consuming large amounts of sugar on a regular basis can lead to immediate and long-term health issues. Not to mention it feeds the bad bacteria in your gut. As the bad bacteria grows, it needs more sugar to stay alive, causing your body to start craving sugar. In the short term, it causes blood sugar to spike and your body to store fat, followed by a crash in blood sugar, where your body burns muscle, energy is low, and metabolism grinds to a halt.

Over time, this contributes to the development of metabolic disease, such as type-two diabetes, obesity, heart disease, some cancers and Alzheimer's. For many years now, Alzheimer's has been called “type-three diabetes.”

For children, who are still growing and developing, the implications of a high-sugar diet are so much more than a risk of a few cavities. Fat cells form and become permanent as children grow, which is why children who are overweight or obese struggle way more with weight as adults than those who were a healthy weight when young.

Sugar and/or processed carbohydrates first thing in the morning causes an immediate blood sugar spike and starts the day off storing fat. Sugar for dinner continues hormonal disruption and destabilization of blood sugar, disrupts mood, elevates heart rate and disrupts sleep patterns. Lack of sleep, in duration and quality, also negatively affects the way your body takes in and metabolizes food, further thwarting your body's ability to take in nutrients.

Regularly consuming cereal/sugar for dinner can cause disordered eating. Dinner is traditionally time where families come together around the table at the end of the day. It provides an opportunity to consume a variety of foods that contribute to a balanced diet. By simplifying this meal to a bowl of cereal, there's a missed opportunity to introduce children to different flavours and textures, potentially leading to picky eating habits. Whether you think they're watching or not, kids do what their parents do.

Cereals are less satiating than whole food meals. Ultra-processed, high-sugar foods like cereal are devoid of any meaningful amount of nutrition and are therefore missing the essential building blocks of nutrition. Meals consisting of proteins, vegetables, healthy fats and fibre, on the other hand, fuel your body at a cellular level so you stay satisfied longer. That lack of satiety leads to overeating, disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food.

It's clear having cereal for dinner is not the healthiest choice for either adults or children. While the convenience and simplicity of a bowl of cereal can be appealing, especially on a busy night, it's important to consider the long-term implications of such dietary choices on our health and well-being.

There are many quick and healthy dinner options that can provide the nutritional balance our bodies need. A whole, pre-cooked chicken and bagged salad is just one example of a much healthier option that won't break the bank and can be on the table in minutes.

In keeping with the Kellogg’s CEO's breakfast for dinner campaign, having hard boiled eggs ready in the fridge, or whipping up some scrambled eggs or an omelette paired with a piece of fruit, raw veggies or even a piece of toast is a more “egg-cellent” choice over cereal any day.

For more information on choosing foods to create hormonal balance and stabilize blood sugar and why that's important for any meal, watch Tania's 15 min video.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Carbs, fat and cake—why you need them all

Let them eat cake

The other day I spoke to yet another woman desperate for answers as to why, “...just looking at food makes me gain weight.”

She is a woman who's been working out, eating a ton of salads and hasn't had sugar or any other “bad” food in months.

If any part of this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Most of the women I work with have similar stories and most admit to constantly thinking about food and classifying every morsel as either “good” or “bad.” That, of course, means every forbidden forkful comes with a huge helping of guilt.

These women have spent most of their lives on one diet or another, often as a result of a well-meaning mom trying to make sure her daughter wouldn't ever have to worry about weight like she did. In reality, all it does is launch a cycle of disordered eating, creating an unhealthy relationship with food and their bodies.

Their stories break my heart. Some have lived for decades with shame and guilt over having that piece of birthday cake, believing something was inherently wrong with them because they didn't have the willpower to just say no.

For the record, no one should ever feel guilty about enjoying a piece of birthday cake, or any other food for that matter.

Read that last sentence again. If that's a new concept for you, you also need to know the struggles you've been dealing with are not your fault. There's nothing wrong with you. Willpower is not a strategy that can ever work in the long-term. You've been lied to about all of these by the diet industry.

Counting calories, cutting carbs, depriving yourself, exercising like a maniac or taking a magic pill or shot will not allow you to achieve your health and weight goals and keep them for life. Sure, anyone can lose weight on a diet, at first. That's why so many women have tried so many, hoping they would stumble across the one that “works”. If you have to keep trying something new, did it really work? It’s food for thought.

Rather than using food to just lose weight, start focusing on using food to create health in your body. Food is not “good” or “bad,” it's simply a protein, a fat or a carbohydrate. When you know how to eat the foods you love in a way that creates hormonal balance and stabilizes blood sugar, your body naturally releases stored fat, metabolism is turned on, energy is increased, inflammation is decreased and cravings disappear.

Contrary to what the diet industry would have you believe, food fuels your body and also fuels your soul—like the birthday cake—and you need both in order to optimize physical and mental health to achieve your weight goals and live with food freedom.

Eating protein, fats and carbs (PFC) in the right portions and the right frequency throughout the day puts your body in balance. It was literally the way we were born into eating. Yes, even carbs and fat. Mind blowing, I know, but stick with me.

Protein, fat and carbs are our macro nutrients and we need all of them. Protein helps regulate your leptin and ghrelin, the hormones that signals your body that you're full, or to keep eating. Diets disrupt hormones, causing mixed signals to keep eating.

Fat helps your body slow down digestion and keep blood sugar in check. That whole “fat free” or “low fat” movement back in the 1990s was an absolute disaster and sent metabolic disease skyrocketing. And that controversial macro, carbs, give us energy. It's no wonder Starbucks and Tim Hortons are so busy in the mid-afternoon.

Do you have a birthday or special occasion coming up that you've been dreading? Stop. Leave the diet mentality because it's not serving you.

Skipping meals to “save” those calories will make your blood sugar and hormones take a nose dive, adding extra workouts to burn off that cake or gritting your teeth in sheer willpower to just not it just brings on the guilt.

Just eat the cake, enjoy it and get back to more nutrient dense foods for your next meal.

Throughout the day leading up to the celebration, fuel your body with good clean, balanced PFC meals. You'll arrive feeling satisfied, not starving so you'll be able to make decisions you'll be happy with later, rather than being hijacked by out-of-control hormones that cause you to take root beside the chip bowl, mindlessly munching.

Cake, and desserts in general, are carbs and fat. Staying balanced by making sure to have some good protein in your meal prior to the eating the cake will help keep your blood sugar from spiking. Every time blood sugar spikes, your body stores fat and that’s why the diet mentality of skipping meals and saving up calories really doesn't work.

Now you know what does.

For more information and Tania's free video on blood sugar stabilization, watch here.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Fifteen signs you have high cortisol and what you can do about it

Regulating cortisol levels

Cortisol, is a buzzword that's popping up everywhere as we move into 2024.

But what exactly is cortisol and why should you be concerned about it?

In order to understand why it would be important to pay attention to it, you need to understand what cortisol is. It’s a hormone produced in the adrenal glands and is released when your brain perceives you are in danger. However, whether you are in actual physical danger or your brain perceives you're in danger, the result is the same.

For example, if you're out camping and come across a bear, your brain will trigger a danger response, releasing hormones, including cortisol, to prepare you for the physical response of either fighting or running away—the “fight or flight” response.

That same physiological response also happens when your brain merely perceives a threat, like that time your alarm didn't go off, you woke up late and went into overdrive to get to work as quickly as possible in an attempt to avoid being reprimanded.

You were in “danger” of getting reprimanded, or possibly fired, but that’s hardly comparable to duking it out with a grizzly.

Most of us would refer to the latter situation as stressful rather than dangerous.

Even though the severity of each situation is miles apart, your body will react the same for each. That is important to note when it comes to knowing where you are with your cortisol levels and whether they are something you should be addressing.

Cortisol plays a crucial role in regulating energy, metabolism, inflammation and controlling the sleep cycle. We need it as it helps with that fight or flight response when we truly are in danger.

But what if your body is constantly releasing cortisol because it perceives you're in danger when you're not? Too much of a good thing is never a good thing. Getting up and exercising and moving your body daily helps to strengthen your muscles, including your heart and lungs and has a multitude of health benefits. Working out to the point of exhaustion, pain and/or fatigue on a daily basis however, actually causes damage to your muscles and joints and you'll likely end up hating exercise, not doing any and being worse off in the long run.

Eating healthy, balanced meals stabilizes blood sugar and hormones, which in turn allows you to maintain good health and healthy weight, have good energy and keep your metabolism turned on. Oh the other hand, never having that slice of birthday cake, piece of pizza or Christmas cookie only leads to stressing over food, guilt and disordered eating. With the exception of very rare instances, extremes in anything don't serve your body or your health well, and cortisol is no different.

Cortisol is a hormone and hormones help regulate all parts of the body. How do you know when your body's been producing more than what it needs?

Here are 15 signs your cortisol is elevated and your body is working overtime. If you've noticed or are struggling with any or all of these—weight gain, puffy/flushed face, mood swings/easily frustrated with small things, memory problems/brain fog, increased anxiety, fatigue, sleep issues, high blood pressure, acne, struggle to focus, sugar cravings, digestive issues, low immune system, change in libido, excessive thirst —you should be looking at how to start bringing down cortisol levels.

The worst part is some of these issues can actually trigger your body to release even more cortisol, which, of course, perpetuates and even worsens the cycle keeping you stuck, uncomfortable and at risk for metabolic disease the longer it carries on. Identifying these signs and working to bring down cortisol, not simply brushing them off as something expected with age, is critical for overall health and disease prevention. Age, in and of itself, doesn't determine health outcomes. It's more about the length of time you've been doing something that is not serving your body. It's the small things we do, or don't do, consistently over time that yield a result – good or bad.

As for cortisol, it is triggered by danger and stress. While it's unlikely you'll run into any bears on the way to work, stress on the other hand, is everywhere. Less stress means fewer danger signals, which means less cortisol pumping through your body.

But as much as we know bringing down stress is good for us, it's sometimes not an easy thing to do.

We can't often control what comes at us that triggers that stress response but we can control how we respond to it. Eating clean, balanced foods, making time for movement, staying hydrated and supplementing with the right strains of good bacteria to restore your gut microbiome are essential to managing stress.

More than 90% of the hormones that make us happy, regulate our moods and help us sleep are made in the gut. Fix the gut and you're happier, better able to handle what life throws at you and cortisol comes down naturally.

If you've got a “gut feeling” that's what's fuelling your cortisol, email [email protected] and request a free video with a proven solution.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute medical advice. All information and content are for general information purposes only.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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