How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

Every wellbeing expert would agree that protein is vital to maintaining a healthy, strong, energetic body, but finding consensus on how much protein we need each day isn’t quite as simple. 

To help you wade through oodles of information out there, we’re going to break down just how much protein you need, and what happens when you get too much or too little of the good stuff. 

Not Enough Protein
Due to the vital role proteins play in our bodies, protein deficiencies can have devastating effects. If you’re eating a diet high in processed or carb-heavy foods, you may not be getting enough protein to maintain your body.  

Mind Body Green shares some common symptoms of protein deficiency: 

  • Brain fog 
  • Getting sick regularly 
  • Fluid retention 
  • Hair, skin, and nail troubles 
  • Slow recovery from injuries 

Being able to support the natural processes of your body is one of the most important reasons to ensure you’re meeting your goal of getting the recommended amount of protein each day. But where protein is concerned, it is also possible to have too much of a good thing.  

Too Much Protein
While the focus of our attention in the past few years has been on drastically upping our protein intake and there are repercussions from being chronically protein deficient, many health professionals are concerned that we’re actually eating too much protein – especially from animal sources.  

The Guardian reports that some studies indicate eating vast quantities of protein can cause significant health issues, “a recently published study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland, who tracked 2,400 middle-aged men over the course of 22 years, reported that a high-protein diet resulted in a 49% greater risk of heart failure. Many large, long-term population studies have also found that people who consume large amounts of protein, especially in the form of red and processed meat, are more likely to be obese or develop type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.” 

Clearly, when it comes to protein, more isn’t always better.  

The Perfect Formula
So how do you walk the line between getting too much protein and not enough? You can calculate your approximate protein requirements based on the following formula used by most registered dieticians, nutritionists, and national nutritional guides: 

0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (or 0.36 grams of protein per pound) of body weight per day. 

Using this formula, a 150lb woman would require 54 grams of protein each day, while a man who weights 86kg would require 69 grams.  

Fitness apps like MyFitnessPal or apps that track macros can help you identify how much protein you’re currently eating, and help you stay on track to meet your goals. Work with this number as a rough guideline for a few weeks to ensure you’re meeting your daily protein recommendations and see how you feel! 

 

The body is built to crave balance – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Swinging wildly to either extreme and having too much or too little of anything can create a host of problems down the road. Protein is no different. It’s a vital ingredient to a healthy life and it’s essential to get enough of it. But overloading your body with too much protein (especially to the exclusion of other food groups) can be really tough on your body.  

Seek balance, assess your own needs, and stick to your goal of meeting the daily recommendations for protein intake. Your body will thank you!   

Why All The Fuss About Protein?

As eating trends like Keto and Paleo have become more popular, many people have become more aware of the important role protein in our diets. Increasingly, people are starting to realize that getting adequate levels of protein isn’t just for bodybuilders or elite athletes, but for every one of us in our day to day lives. 

Today we’ll be talking about protein – what’s true, and what’s pure hype, and how to tell the difference! 

The Truth About Protein
Getting enough protein in your diet is essential for the functioning of a healthy body. Proteins are often referred to the building blocks of life, and Healthline explains that they’re “made up of amino acids that join to form long chains. You can think of a protein as a string of beads in which each bead is an amino acid. There are 20 amino acids that help form the thousands of different proteins in your body.” 

So, what exactly do these proteins do?  

  • Aid in growth and maintenance of cell tissues 
  • Enable biochemical processes like digestion, energy production, muscle contraction, and blood clotting 
  • Act as a messenger between cells, organs, and tissues in your body 
  • Provide structure. Some proteins like keratin make up your hair and nails, while another protein called elastin provides your organs to stretch and return to their original shape  
  • Transport and store nutrients
  • Provide energy
  • Support immune system health 
  • Maintains pH 

 [Adapted from Healthline] 

You can see why it’s important to get enough! If you go through life chronically protein-starved, your physical and mental wellbeing will suffer as a result.  

What’s the Hype?
If you based your protein intake on the abundance of protein shakes, bars, and meal replacements out there you’d be eating nothing but! And while protein is important, so is balance 

One of the reasons that people are going overboard with this macronutrient is due to a handful of myths and misconceptions. To debunk these myths, Prevention magazine spoke to Jamie Baum, PhD and assistant professor of food science and protein researcher at the University of Arkansas.  

Baum explained that there are several misconceptions about protein that could use adjusting. She states: 

  1. More protein does not mean more muscle. While protein is essential to building muscle, you need to exercise first and foremost. Simply eating immense amounts of protein can’t build muscle out of thin air.
     
  2.  All protein is not created equal. The most effective protein sources contain amino acids essential to your body, but these are only found in animal products. While plant-based sources do contain protein, their fibrous nature can prevent it from being absorbed effectively. Vegetarians and vegans should combine legumes with whole grains in each meal to form a complete protein.
     
  3. More doesn’t mean better. Although how much protein you need is a hotly debated topic right now, you might need to worry about getting too much, instead. Many nutritional guidelines advise a daily amount that’s half what the average person consumes. 
     
  4. You don’t need protein right after a workout. Prevention explains “The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that downing [protein] right after a workout had no beneficial effects on muscle growth or strength, compared with eating the same amount of protein later with meals.”
     
  5. Protein is the root cause of fatigue. Protein deficiencies can cause energy loss, but that typically only happens when all protein stores are depleted and your body is experiencing an extreme shortage, which Baum says is rare. 

[Adapted from Prevention] 

How Much Do You Really Need?
So how do you walk the line between getting too much protein and not enough? You can calculate your approximate protein requirements based on the following formula used by most registered dieticians, nutritionists, and national nutritional guides: 

0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (or 0.36 grams of protein per pound) of body weight per day. 

Using this formula, a 150lb woman would require 54 grams of protein each day, while a man who weights 86kg would require 69 grams.  

Fitness apps like MyFitnessPal or apps that track macros can help you identify how much protein you’re currently eating, and help you stay on track to meet your goals. Work with this number as a rough guideline for a few weeks to ensure you’re meeting your daily protein recommendations and see how you feel! 

When you ensure that you’re giving your body enough of what it needs to build muscle, provide energy, and facilitate communication within your body, you’ll be well on your way to physical wellbeing.  

The Big Benefits of Regular Exercise

We’ve all heard about how good exercise is for us, but if you’re still struggling to really commit to this habit, we’ve broken down how (and why) physical activity can benefit you – mind, body, and soul. 

It Begins in the Brain
Perhaps surprisingly, the most immediate effects of physical exercise are felt in your mind. Fast Company explains how exercise works to trick your brain into releasing feel-good chemicals. 

“If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy.”   

Additionally, when we move our bodies, our brains release endorphins, chemicals that lessen pain and create a feeling of euphoria – often referred to as a runner’s high. 

Together, these effects can create an addictive effect like drugs do but instead of causing your life to spiral out of control, these cravings lead to stronger muscles and improved cardiovascular health. 

Start Small
Although your goal is to incorporate 90 minutes of exercise into your daily routine, don’t be afraid to start with a smaller time frame- especially if you’re new to working out.  

Gretchen Reynolds, a science and health writer, explains “the first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.” 

As you begin this habit, sneaking in 20-30 minutes for a brisk walk or a quick yoga practice is really all you need to focus on. Doing so allows your body to acclimate to this new regime, and also sets you up for success. Starting small and slowly building on your successes may give you a better chance of making this habit sustainable. 

Try starting with 30 minutes and add 10 minutes to your workout each week. The extra time will boost your calorie burn, allow you more time to build muscle, and increase your cardio endurance.  

Spend Energy, Get Energy Back
One of the most common excuses for avoiding exercise – after not having enough time – is that we’re too tired. This is understandable – busy work schedules, the demands of children, housework, and social commitments can leave even the most energetic among us feeling drained. 

Unfortunately, by avoiding exercise, we’re actually missing out on a source of energy.  Although it does take energy to run for half an hour or lift weights, EveryDay Health explains that it also increases your energy through the following processes: 

  • Boosts your cardiovascular health. “When you have a strong, healthy heart, it doesn’t have to work so hard to get you through a normal day’s worth of tasks like climbing stairs, doing laundry, or playing with your kids. Conserving this energy leaves you with more left over at the end of the day.”
      
  • Better sleep. “A study published in April 2015 in the Journal of Sleep Research looked at people with insomnia who engaged in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity spread over the course of a week…Researchers found that this amount of physical activity was associated not only with a significant reduction in the severity of insomnia symptoms, but an elevation in mood as well.” 
  • Lessen depression. Nothing saps your energy like the bone-tired effects of depression. Exercise has consistently proven to be one of the best treatments for the debilitating mental illness, without any of the unpleasant side effects of pharmaceuticals. 

  • Look Good, Feel Better Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine is one of the best ways to improve and maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s worth it – and more importantlyyou’re worth it!  

Get started, work up a sweat, and discover just how good you can truly be. 

  

 

Surprising Protein Sources

When you picture a protein-packed food, what comes to mind? A big steak? A grilled chicken breast? Cottage cheese? Eggs? 

Animal products like meat and dairy are the most well-known sources of protein, but they certainly aren’t the only ones. Today we’ll explore some surprising protein sources and inspire you to expand your repertoire beyond the same few protein-based foods. 

Plant-Based
Turning to plant-based proteins is a fantastic way to up your protein intake while also taking advantage of the nutritious vitamins, minerals, and fibre they contain.  

Well and Good shares the following list of fantastic plant-based proteins: 

  1. Oatmeal: “One cup of cooked oats carries six grams of protein, making it equivalent to about one ounce of meat. And while it’s not a complete protein—meaning it doesn’t contain all nine of the essential amino acids— [Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN] still considers oatmeal a great plant-based protein source, especially for vegans and vegetarians.”

  2. Peas: They may be small, but the little green vegetable should not be overlooked. “Peas are a surprising protein source for a lot of people,” notes Shapiro. (That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone watching the meteoric rise of pea protein.)

  3. You don’t need a store-bought powder to get the benefits, though; the pods are practically overflowing with protein. “You’ll get four and a half grams [of protein] in half a cup,” Shapiro explains, “which is a lot for a relatively small amount of peas.” Her tip for protein in a pinch? Keep a bag in your freezer. They’re great for tossing in stir-fries or adding into quinoa dishes for an amino acid boost.”

  4. Hemp Seeds:“Sure, the seed is a standout source of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids—but that’s not all the small-but-mighty ingredient brings to the table (literally): A three-tablespoon serving equals 10 grams of protein, which leads to a pretty substantial addition even if you’re not adding the full amount.

  5. Broccoli: “The fibrous, cruciferous veggie helps to prevent against cancer and disease, is loaded with calcium, iron, and antioxidants ,and has four grams of protein per cup.

    Since broccoli isn’t a complete protein, Shapiro recommends combining it with a protein-rich grain like quinoa, and mixing in some hemp seeds or peas for a more complete amino acid profile.“

  6. Pumpkin Seeds: Don’t limit your pumpkin seed consumption to October. The often-underrated seed is extremely nutrient-dense and an easy on-the-go source of protein. “Not only are they high in B vitamins, but they’re also high in fiber and have more protein per ounce than an egg,” reveals Shapiro, who is a big fan of the seed.

[Adapted from Well and Good] 

 

The Oddballs
This random assortment of foods was assembled by Greatist and contains a handful of protein-packed superheroes. You’d probably never expect these foods to contain as much protein as they do!

Goat Cheese: This deliciously creamy cheese contains 6 grams of protein per ounce – as much as a large egg.

Whole wheat pasta: 
Spaghetti night just got a little healthier-if you choose whole wheat noodles, that is. One cup of cooked whole wheat pasta contains a respectable 7.5 grams of protein.

Quinoa: This superfood packs 8 grams of protein per cup cooked and also delivers a handful of other vitamins and minerals, too. 

Sweet Potatoes: This versatile starch has 4 grams of protein per cup baked, providing protein, starch, and nutritional goodness with each bite. 

Spinach: Take it from Popeye, spinach can make you strong! You’ll get 5 grams of protein per cup of cooked spinach, not to mention all the other goodies you’ll be getting from this dark leafy green. 

When searching out protein sources, it’s clear that there are a host of delicious options that go way beyond red meat and dairy products.  

Try incorporating some of these creative protein sources into your diet and see how yummy it can be to meet your daily recommendation for protein. 

Bon appetit!  

Taking an Iron Supplement? Here’s What You Need to Know

Increasing the amount of iron-rich foods in your diet is a great way to boost your iron intake, but if you’re severely iron-deficient or you just want to make sure your bases are covered without a drastic shift to your diet, iron supplements may be your best bet.  

Choosing the right supplement, the right dose, and being aware of potential side effects is important before starting to take any vitamin or mineral supplement, and iron is no different. Today we’re going to help you by demystifying the world of iron supplements. 

Which Iron Supplement to Choose
There are two main types of iron supplements: ferrous and ferric.  

Ferrous iron (including ferrous sulphate, ferrous fumarate, and ferrous gluconate) is most often suggested for those hoping to increase their iron levels. Ferrous iron supplements can come in liquid, pill, or capsule form and are better absorbed by the body than ferric iron. 

Ferric iron isn’t absorbed as well by the gut, which is why It’s prescribed less. Ferric iron supplements like iron citrate, however, carry less chance of iron poisoning due to their poor absorption rates.  

Your doctor can help you choose which type of iron supplement is right for you but generally speaking, if you have confirmed that your iron levels are low, ferrous iron supplements are the better choice. 

How to Take It
Unlike a multivitamin that you can take any time, iron is more effective when taken at certain times of day, and with certain food combinations. 

The UK’s National Health Service explains why these factors matter so much when taking an iron supplement, “The absorption of iron from the gut is reduced by food, tea, and milk, so these should be avoided for one hour before and after taking the iron supplement. Some medications will also affect the absorption of iron from the gut, particularly medications which reduce stomach acid (antacids) and certain antibiotics. Always check with your doctor whether any of your other medicines might affect how your iron supplements work.” 

The NHS also explains that while you should avoid taking iron supplements on a full stomach, there are some substances that can significantly improve the efficacy of your supplement. “The only factor that improves the absorption of iron is Vitamin C. This is why we recommend that you take your supplement with a drink containing vitamin C.” 

So, wait until an hour after breakfast, then wash down your iron supplement with some OJ, apple juice, or a veggie juice blend.  

 
Potential Side-Effects
Like anything else, iron supplements do come with some potential side effects, some normal and some may indicate iron levels that may be getting too high.  

Normal side effects include upset stomach/painful stomach, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and/or dark stool. Most of these side effects will lessen or disappear as your stomach gets better at tolerating the supplement.  

Although iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency, it is possible to get too much iron, and doing so can be fatal. For this reason, please make sure that you check with your doctor and/or get bloodwork done before taking an iron supplement and get regular blood tests done to ensure you aren’t getting too much.  

 

Taking an iron supplement is a great way to complement a diet rich in high-iron foods, and make sure you’re meeting your daily recommendations for iron intake. By learning which type of supplement to take, how to best take it, and understanding how your body may react, you’re taking control of your physical wellbeing and making positive changes for your body.  

Having adequate levels of iron means you’ll finally have the energy to live life to the fullest. You may just find that one good habit begets another! This new, iron-supplemented self may finally have the energy to start exercising, playing with your kids, or cooking healthy meals at home. Take advantage of your new lease on life and continue pursuing your own path to wellbeing. We believe in you!

Public now waking up to the benefits of sleep

Sleep Expo Middle East left the pubic with better sense about the importance of quality shut-eye. The three-day event witnessed new collaborations and discussions between and amongst industry peers, while consumers who attended the show took great interest on the insightful conference presentations as well as the variety of sleep products and solutions showcased at the exhibit.

Getting a good night’s sleep is as important as a balanced diet and regular exercise for a healthy mind and body. While there is a wealth of evidence on this, sleep health often does not get the attention it deserves.

In fact, adults across the world have been found not dedicating enough time for sleep and relaxation. More than half, or 51%, of global adults reported that they get less sleep than they need on an average night, this according to an industry survey carried out last year.

Fuelled by a mission to highlight how lack of sleep takes a serious toll on personal health and the economy, Sleep Expo Middle East offered a first-hand look at some of the latest and most unique products and solutions in the sleep market. The event also amplified further the discussion about the need for people to prioritize sleep to optimise their health and wellbeing.

“This is a great event for people to have an intelligent understanding of sleep and its benefits. I was especially pleased with the expert suggestions I got on how to improve sleeping habits, plus being able to happy to discover innovative products from various exhibitors that will definitely help me sleep better.” said, Dubai expat Insiya Jani.

The show also saw a good mix of attendees from the business community. Among those who visited the show include hotel and resort managers, hospitality professionals, company owners, as well as delegates from international brands relevant to the sleep industry.

Sleep Expo Middle East hosted multiple events over the course of three days: the trade exhibit, which showcased some of the breakthrough sleep technologies and solutions available in the market today; a two-day c onference that engage attendees in thought-provoking keynotes and general sessions; and, the exciting activities at the Sleep Care Zone, where guests had the chance to try out a variety of services designed to aid them in better sleep.

Taher Patrawala, Director of Media Fusion, organizers of the event, said, “We are proud to have taken a forefront position in advancing the sleep movement and support the growing sleep industry. I am confident that we have done a good job in rightly raising public awareness on the importance of sleep health, but equally important, we are helping industry players to push the boundaries and chart greater success with new business perspective and game-changing concepts. None of these would have been possible without the support of our generous sponsors and partners, and our pool of talented and dedicated committee members, volunteers, speakers and attendees. My sincerest gratitude to all you who made this event a rousing success.”

The Benefits of Eating Only When You’re Hungry

Committing to a habit of eating only when hungry can be a tricky one. Giving up snacking can be tough, and because virtually all our social activities revolve around food it can be challenging to resist mindless snacking, even when we’re full.

To assist you on your journey, today we’re going to share just a few of the many benefits of only eating when you’re hungry. These payoffs are more than worth the challenge of adopting a new habit!

Hunger is Healthy
We often try to shy away from experiences that cause us discomfort, things like intense physical activities, extreme temperatures, or yes, hunger.

The Huffington Post explains, “[h]unger has a very negative connotation in our society. Our immediate reaction to the word is that it’s a bad thing, something to be eradicated and fixed. Of course, when we’re using the word ‘hunger’ to describe the issue of food insecurity, we are indeed describing a problem. However, when there’s plenty of food available to eat, hunger is actually a lovely part of the overall eating experience. To put it simply, food tastes better when you’re hungry.”

While it might not be a common feeling for most of us, allowing yourself to feel truly hungry before eating can serve to truly enhance your eating experience.

Hunger Can Help You Look (and Feel) Young
Nutrition consultant Mary Vance explains that the experience of being hungry may help to boost growth hormones and increase our youthful appearance.

“Human growth hormone is naturally produced in the pituitary gland and plays a vital role in cell regeneration, growth, and maintaining healthy human tissue, including that of the brain and various vital organs,” she says. “It also decreases body fat, and because it stimulates cellular regeneration, it keeps you from getting wrinkles! When you’re hungry and your stomach is empty, your body produces the hormone ghrelin to tell you it’s time to eat.”

Ghrelin can boost your growth hormones, and may also improve memory and learning function, so causing its production with a little hunger now and then can be a great thing.

Weight Loss
There’s a vast difference between only eating when you’re hungry and starving yourself so that you feel hungry all the time. The former is a healthy habit, the latter is an eating disorder.

Nonetheless, even while eating regularly, weight loss often occurs when you begin truly listening to your body and only eating when you’re actually hungry. By doing so, you’ll inevitably decrease your total calorie count and weight loss may occur as a result.

Please note, however, that this habit is about eating only when you’re hungry – not avoiding eating altogether. Temporary hunger in between meals is ok, starving yourself is not. Take care of yourself!

Get to Know Your Body Better
Psych Central explains that allowing yourself to feel hunger before eating something means that you can get to know the natural patterns of your body.

They ask, “[h]ave you had the experience of thinking you were hungry at noontime only to become absorbed in a project or in a book, and have several hours pass before you think about food again? True hunger cannot wait a few hours. It demands to be fed. You were not hungry at noon but were responding to a time of day stimulus, another reason you’ve given yourself to eat. If you distract yourself with some other activity, the urge usually passes within a few minutes. Try to differentiate between your hungers and your urges.”

Rather than mindlessly following your body’s urges and cravings, we invite you to really examine them. Sit briefly with your hunger, experience the feeling, and tune in to how your body feels.

Like all good things, this habit may take some effort initially as you adjust your eating habits and get used to running mental self-assessments of your hunger levels, but this sort of mindful eating will soon become second nature. With these benefits under your belt, the practice of only eating when you’re hungry will quickly become a healthy habit and a regular part of your life. You can do this!

How to Nourish Your Body with Mindful Eating

Eating only when you’re hungry sounds simple enough, but it can be deceptively powerful. By tuning in to your own body instead of adhering to a prescriptive set of rules set out by a diet or calorie count, not only can you lose weight and keep it off, but you can also develop a better relationship with food, and with your body.

What are the Benefits of Eating Only When Hungry?
The Washington Post explains “In the journal Current Obesity Reports, nutritionist Carolyn Dunn and colleagues from North Carolina State University performed the first review of research papers on mindful eating and weight loss. ‘All studies showed weight loss results’ with mindful eating, they reported. In addition, four of five studies over a follow-up period found continued weight loss. The expected regain occurred in only one of the five studies.

The review concluded, ‘Increased mindful eating has been shown to help participants gain awareness of their bodies, be more in tune to hunger and satiety, recognize external cues to eat, gain self-compassion, decrease food cravings, decrease problematic eating, and decrease reward-driven eating.’“

How to Eat Mindfully
Many of us have become so disconnected from our natural cues that it’s incredibly challenging to simply listen to our bodies. Runtastic suggests a few simple guidelines to make it simple to only eat when you’re hungry:

  1. Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat something. Crashing blood sugar can cause you to make poor food choices – usually grabbing foods high in fat, salt, or sugar. Pay attention to your body and eat when you’re hungry, not starving.
  2. Ignore scheduled meal times. If you’re used to eating dinner at noon and dinner at six, you may not even question whether you’re truly hungry at those times. Instead, make meal times flexible and eat when you feel hungry, not when the clock strikes a certain hour.
  3. Stop when you’re full. Just like eating at set times during the day, we become accustomed to finishing our portions or cleaning our plates – regardless of whether we really want Try to pause every few minutes, take a deep breath and examine whether you are still hungry.
  4. Outsmart Emotional Eating

Food is far more than just fuel to keep us going. For many of us, it has a lot of emotional associations – we eat when we’re tired, sad, celebrating, or bored.

Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food, and God, and mindful-eating devotee, says “When you no longer believe that eating will save your life when you feel exhausted or overwhelmed or lonely, you will stop. When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart”.

In other words, when you can separate the emotional nature of eating from the physical need to nourish your body, you will have mastered mindful eating and be well on your way to physical and mental wellbeing. That’s exactly what only eating when you’re hungry can help you do.

Next up, we’ll discuss how to identify true hunger, and explain how to master the habit of eating only when you’re hungry.

Until next time!

How to Identify True Hunger

When was the last time you were hungry? I mean really hungry, not just peckish, craving a favourite meal, or mindlessly searching for something to put in your mouth. Chances are that it’s been months – or even years – since you’ve felt truly hungry.

Being able to identify what real hunger feels like, however, is an essential skill in learning to trust your body and give it what it needs. Today we’ll talk about the signs of true hunger, as well as how to gauge whether you need to eat.

To start with, SF Gate helps break down the difference between true hunger and emotional hunger:

“Emotional Hunger: Emotional hunger is in response to a feeling, either good or bad, and usually involves craving a specific food or type of food. These foods are often high in fat and sugar, and even if you are full you will sometimes keep eating until the food is gone. This type of hunger occurs suddenly, and you feel a need to eat right away. However, once you finish eating you often feel guilty or ashamed.

Real Hunger: Real hunger is brought on by a true need for food and develops gradually over time. You can wait to eat if you need to, and once you have eaten until your stomach is full you can stop eating. With real hunger, you feel a need to eat, but not necessarily any one particular food. Any food that you like that is available will satisfy your hunger, and you won’t feel guilty after you finish eating.”

The Hunger Scale
If you’ve identified that you truly are hungry and not just wanting to eat your emotions, your job isn’t quite done yet!

Next, assess how hungry you are using a hunger scale. Registered dietician Alissa Rumsey breaks hunger down into the following categories:

1 – Famished, faint, and irritable
2 – Very hungry and need food fast
3 – Hungry and ready to eat
4 – Beginning to feel signs of hunger (e.g. growling stomach)
5 – Physically full
6 – Satisfied, no longer hungry
7 – Slightly uncomfortable feeling of fullness
8 – Feeling too full, have to loosen belt
9 – Too full, have to unbutton pants
10 – Overstuffed and feeling sick

Rumsey suggests using this scale to assess hunger level and choose to eat only when you’re truly hungry. She recommends pausing before eating and asking where you currently stand on the hunger scale – “ideally, you’ll be between a 3 and a 4”.

Next, she recommends pausing about halfway through the meal and assessing again. When you get to feeling around a 6 or 7 on the scale, it’s time to stop eating. Don’t wait until you’re a 9 or a 10, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable! That’s a sure sign you’ve over-indulged.

Hungry for Change
Taking the time to stop and tune into your body like this may feel quite strange at first, but after a week or so it’ll become second nature – and it should be! We should all check in with our bodies before eating or drinking and consciously set aside time to pause, check in, and assess our needs.

We can do this type of self-assessment with everything from our emotional states to indulging in alcohol but starting the process by being able to accurately gauge your appetite level and eat only when you’re hungry is a great way to begin.

Become familiar with your true motivations for eating, get comfortable with the hunger scale, and see how this type of mindful eating could change your relationship with food  – and your body – for the better.

How to Choose a Probiotic Supplement

If incorporating probiotic-rich foods and drinks isn’t feasible for you, or you prefer the certainty that comes with a controlled dose, taking a good-quality probiotic supplement is a fantastic way to ensure you meet your goal of eating a serving of probiotics each day.

Standing in front of a shelfful of options, however, can feel a bit daunting. What strains should you be looking for? What’s the difference between 10 billion cultures and 50 billion? And how much do you really need?

Today we walk you through Probiotic Supplements 101, and help you choose one that’s best for you.

Number of Live Cultures
The number of live bacterial cultures in a supplement can vary wildly and is also one of the most important factors determining a pill’s price.

Most probiotics will list the amount of live bacterial cultures right on the supplement label, and while it may seem like overkill, Dr Vincent Pedre, bestselling author of Happy Gut, recommends that those just starting to take probiotic supplements choose one with a live bacterial culture numbering in the low billions.

“Millions sounds like a lot, but not with probiotic supplements,” he explains. “You want one that contains billions of organisms. A probiotic dose will range from 5 to 100 billion colony-forming units (CFUs), the measure used to express its potency. Start low and increase as tolerated.”

It’s not only how many cultures are present in a probiotic that determines its efficacy, however. The kinds of cultures in a supplement also matter.

Types of Live Cultures
There are a few different types of probiotic strains, and choosing a supplement which contains just one can result in a gut biome lacking diversity. Ideally, you’d want a combination several different strains.

There are many different strains of beneficial bacteria, but the most popular can be grouped into in three main types of probiotic: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii.

Dr Pedre explains the characteristics of each group:

“Lactobacillus: Lactobacillus predominantly live in your small bowel (the portion of your gut that follows the stomach). Probiotics containing Lactobacillus sp. help to repopulate the small intestine with friendly organisms that aid in supporting digestion and immune function. The most beneficial are L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, and L. paracasei.

Bifidobacteria: The Bifidobacteria (Bifidus) predominantly live in your colon or large intestine. They produce the very important short-chain fatty acid butyrate, which supplies energy to your colon cells to keep them functioning optimally. But butyrate also gets absorbed by the body, regulating a variety of metabolic processes, including your sensitivity to the hormone insulin (which regulates blood sugar) and even memory formation in the brain. The most beneficial of these are B. lactis and B. longum.

Saccharomyces: Saccharomyces is a friendly yeast that can be given concomitantly with antibiotics, in order to protect the gut lining from the effects of antibiotic-induced dysbiosis leading to leaky gut syndrome. S. boulardii can also outcompete other unfriendly yeast that may be cohabitating in the gut.”

An ideal probiotic would combine strains from each of these groups and would list the number of unique strains on the label. Choose a probiotic with several different strains to ensure proper diversity.

Proper Handling
Different manufacturers recommend following different protocols when handling and storing their probiotics. Read the bottle and/or instructions carefully to make sure you’re treating your probiotics properly. Remember they’re living creatures and improper handling could result in culture die-off, meaning that the supplement could be full of lifeless bacteria which wouldn’t be able to benefit you in any way.

Some probiotics require refrigeration and most have an expiration date, so pay attention to both when choosing a probiotic.

The payoff for taking probiotics can be huge – including better heart health, improved digestion, and clearer skin. So, while it may feel overwhelming when you’re trying to figure out how to get a serving of probiotics each day, the benefits are well worth it!

Whether it’s a bowl full of kimchi or a probiotic supplement, adding friendly gut-bacteria to your daily diet goes a long way to improving your physical and mental wellbeing. Who knew that bacteria could be so good for you?