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4 common paths to entrepreneurship

Given the modern economic reality of our time, more people are deciding to go it alone and start their own business.

Some people do it because they have spent years training and becoming educated only to find the “job” they thought was waiting for them doesn’t actually exist.

Others do it because the 9 to 5 grind simply doesn’t work for them and they would rather spend their time creating or working with something that they love and feel passionate about.

Still others want to create a work schedule that fits them and their own life goals.

There are many reasons to want to go out on your own. No matter what your motivation is, you can start today. Tomorrow is the place where dreams go to never come to fruition.

Here are 4 common paths to entrepreneurship and why multi-level marketing is the best one.

1) Start from scratch

Starting your business from scratch means your starting at the ground level. Floor one. No one knows who you are or what you’re doing until you speak up.

From scratch means you scrape together seed capital (the initial funding used to begin creating a business or a new product) and begin by telling the world what you are up to by advertising, marketing, and word of mouth.

Then, you work your bag off. You sink fifteen hours a day, six or seven days a week into making your new business work.

It can be very exciting – you’re creating something brand new and you’re challenging your business acumen against many others who are already established. Some people thrive in this environment. Many perish.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80% of business with employees survive their first year. After that, the number steadily decreases. 70% survive the second year, 50% survive year 5, and 30% survive year 10.

2) Buy a going concern

Another path to entrepreneurship is to buy a going concern.

A going concern is an accounting term. It means that the company is doing well, and it has the resources to continue operating indefinitely until it provides evidence to the contrary.

Buying a franchise or buying an already established business are both ways to buy a going concern.

The main reasons acquiring a going concern fail are because of a lack of adequate funding, because a business plan isn’t prepared, or because of a lack of teamwork.

While many people say they want to run their own business, there are comparatively fewer that are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes time to making the business work.

Running a business requires organization, promotion, and risk management. Managing risks requires management and marketing skills and, above all else, commitment. If you’re risking a significant amount of capital, whether its from your savings or from borrowing against your assets, you need to be sure you have the experience, knowledge, personal traits, and the habits you need to succeed.

Even a company that is doing well can falter under new management. The initial excitement that comes with owning a business of your own can carry you passed some obstacles, but just because a business is a going concern when you purchase it, doesn’t mean it will remain so.

3) Start a new concern with a partner

Starting a business with a partner can be rewarding. It can also be a huge drag and damaging to the relationship.

The most successful, rewarding partnerships occur when each member has skills or knowledge that the other lacks. When this balance doesn’t exist, the relationship has a higher probability of becoming toxic, as one partner may begin to feel like they are shouldering most of the weight of the new business and the other is just along for the ride.

4) Multi-level marketing

Many people do not consider themselves to be business savvy, a marketing mogul, or have an original, creative idea they feel could turn into a legitimate business. Many of these people, however, still dream of working for themselves and starting a successful endeavor of their own.

Multi-level marketing is yet another path to entrepreneurship, and it may be the most enticing one.

Multi-level marketing (also known as network marketing) is a business model. It is a strategy used by some direct sales companies that encourages existing distributors to recruit new distributors. New recruits become part of the distributor’s “downline” and a percentage of the recruit’s sales are given to the distributor that recruited them.

Multi-level marketing is easier than starting a business from scratch, it doesn’t require the initial capital that purchasing a going concern does, and it comes without the risks of starting a new venture with a partner.

This path to entrepreneurship is attractive because you don’t have to start at the bottom and go into it alone. You start your own business with a product that has proven brand recognition and has programs that provide information on finding people, how to sponsor them, and how to train them.

Multi-level marketing is somewhat like buying a franchise, but without the 20,000 to 200,000-dollar initial investment that purchasing a franchise often requires.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t need any investment at all. It’s just not as substantial as a franchise. You still need to invest in the product for use and for demonstration.

With multi-level marketing you are going into business for yourself. You are the Chairman of the Board. That means you need to make a financial investment in the product and a personal investment in your recruits. The more involved you are, the more likely you are to find others who are willing to make the same commitment that you did.

Being personally invested in the company and the idea of owning your own business is the only way to become successful with multi-level marketing. The people who go into it thinking it’s a way to easy success and wealth often become disillusioned, quit, and tarnish the industry as a whole.

Sources and further reading

Network Marketing Success for Everyone – Lyle Manery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 things you absolutely need to know about training your core if you want to do it right

Core means “the central or most important part of something.”

With a definition like that, you know it’s something you should be paying attention to.

And you’re likely already aware of it. If you’ve spent any time in a gym, talked to a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach, or ever read anything about fitness, you’ve undoubtedly come across the word.

To the uninitiated, having a strong core means a sleek six pack. To the initiated, your core is a complex structure vital to efficient and powerful movement, proper balance and posture, and protection from undue wear and tear on the joints and muscles that make us prematurely age.

The core is made up of the pelvic girdle (a bony structure consisting of the hip bones, the sacrum, and the coccyx), the trunk (your torso), and the scapular region (muscles extending from the trunk and attaching to the shoulder blades).

Here are 7 things you absolutely need to know about core training if you want to do it right.

1) There are local and global muscles in the core region

Your core region has 29 pairs of muscles. They can broadly be grouped based on where they are located, what they look like, the type of muscle fibers they are made up of, and by how they function.

Based on these features, the muscles of the core region can be separated into local muscles and global muscles.

Local muscles are the ones that are deep and right next to the spine. If you’re a muscle anatomy nerd, these are the: multifidi, transversus abdominus, internal oblique, medial fibers of external oblique, quadratus lumborum, diaphgragm, pelvic floor muscles, and iliocostalis and lognissimus (lumbar portions).

The global muscles are superficial and mainly function to generate torque and joint movement. These are the: rectus abdominus, lateral fibers of external oblique, psoas major, erector spinae, ilicostalis (thoracic portion), and gluteus.

The stability of the spine relies on the coordination of the muscles in both groups.

Therefore, training programs should include exercises that engage local and global muscles.

Core exercises that engage the local core muscles are things like planks. Core exercises that will encourage local and global muscle groups to work together are moving into a push up position from standing (the whole time keeping the spine neutral and supported).

2) The spine has a neutral zone

The neutral zone of the spine is a position where movements can be performed without any tension being generated in non-contractile tissues (joints, ligaments, nerves, or cartilages).

An important goal of core training is to improve the body’s ability to maintain the neutral zone of the spine. Since the neutral zone involves less tension in non-contractile tissues, it means less unwanted wear and tear on these tissues while you move about doing activities.

Improving core stability to better maintain the neutral zone of the spine can be done by incorporating exercises that train local and global core muscle groups.

3) The order of muscle activation

The ideal pattern of activation is local muscles first, then global muscles.

Activation of local muscles first stabilizes the spine so that the limbs can move more efficiently. This pattern of activation is beneficial from a power generation standpoint and from a “this isn’t going to cause me a lot of pain at some point in the future” standpoint.

When spine stability doesn’t come first (i.e. global muscles are activated before local muscles) you make yourself a prime candidate for lower back pain.

If you’re reading this and you can feel that dull ache in your lower back, there is hope. Focus on exercises that incorporate:

  • unilateral resistance (one arm or one leg at a time – shoulder press, bicep curl, calf raise, and squats)
  • training on unstable bases
  • eyes closed (this helps train your muscle proprioceptors to make them more responsive)
  • hops, bounces, and jumps

4) Stability comes first

In order for stability to come first, local muscles must be able to stabilize.

Unfortunately, stability is often overlooked simply because core exercises that involve a lot of movement are much more popular than the static ones – probably because they look a lot cooler to do.

Research suggests, however, that static exercises are going to do a lot more for you in terms of improving spine stiffness and posture during athletic activities and during daily life.

For this reason, and because of what we talked about in the previous section about activating local muscles before global muscles, static core moves (planks and all their variations) should be done and mastered before moving on to the sexier dynamic exercises you see going on all around you.

5) The world is three-dimensional, your core training should be too

As you move around in this world, there are many different forces acting on you: there’s gravity, there’s the movement of the body, there’s lifting or supporting external loads, and there is the force created by muscular contractions.

Because we live in a three dimensional world, these forces push and pull on our body in three dimensions.

To prepare your body for the stresses and strains of everyday life, a proper core training program should include movements in all three dimensions.

6) The core is more than just the lower abs

The core has more muscles than most conventional training programs tend to utilize. It has muscles making up its floor, wall, and ceiling.

Because so many people in the world suffer from lower back pain, the muscles in close association with the lumbar spine tend to receive the most attention. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering the strong relationship between lower trunk instability and lower back pain. But, a complete core training program should include all the core muscles.

The most often forgotten components of core training are the pelvic floor, the transverse abdominus, and the diaphragm.

7) Train your core’s reaction time

As we mentioned before, maintaining a neutral spine is important for life and sport. Ideally, we want muscles involved to spring into action quickly and efficiently when they are needed so they can function optimally.

Train your core muscles’ reaction time by using unstable bases.

Incorporating tools like Swiss balls, a BOSU, wobble boards, or foam pads causes disturbances in the body’s center of gravity.

Disturbing the center of gravity suddenly changes the position and length of muscles. Sensors within muscles (proprioceptors) sense these changes and generate reflexive action. The more sensitive proprioceptors are to changes in muscle tension and position, the better they will be at maintaining the stability of the spine.

Conclusion

I hope I’ve been able to convince you that core training is more than just doing exercises that will give you a six pack.

Your core is central and important to good spine health and efficient, pain-free movement. It’s role is to ensure the integrity of the spine and vital organs during movement, maintain body balance while we perform tasks, and transfer forces between lower and upper limbs.

The better and holistically the core is trained, the better able the core will be able to perform these tasks. Properly training the core means training local and global components, training to maintain a neutral spine, training proper muscular recruitment patterns, training to prepare for the demands of life and sport, and training all of the core.

Sources

Ten important facts about core training – American College of Sports Medicine

 

 

How protein can help you bust through weight loss plateaus

Weight loss is difficult, no one is going to deny that.

It can be going well, everything is on track, then out of the blue you can’t lose another pound no matter how hard you try.

You’ve hit a weight loss plateau.

From here, there are two ways you can go. You can give up and regain all the weight you’ve worked so hard to get rid of in the first place.

Or, you can make some adjustments and keep moving towards your goal.

In this article, I want to talk about how protein is your secret weapon for busting through plateaus. We’ll spend some time talking about why it works for this purpose, then go into protein timing, and wrap up with the types of protein you use – cause that’s incredibly important also.

Why protein is effective for weight loss

  • Protein makes you feel fuller for longer

The only thing that matters when you’re trying to lose weight is a negative calorie balance.

A negative calorie balance means you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in. It is a simple idea in theory, but it can be quite difficult because of your body’s reaction to suddenly consuming less food.

Eating less often can make you feel like you’re constantly hungry. And what’s worse, you feel unsatisfied when you finally do eat because you just don’t feel full with the portions of food you have.

Transforming your diet so that a greater proportion of your food comes from protein can help counteract this nasty side-effect of maintaining a negative calorie balance.

This works because protein increases feelings of fullness – otherwise known as satiety. More satiety means that 100 calories of protein is going to make you feel fuller for longer than 100 calories of carbohydrates would.

This property of protein is best exemplified scientifically in a 2016 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The meta-analysis, led by Jaapna Dhillon, screened thousands of scientific studies to determine the evidence supporting or refuting the idea that protein increases satiety. Of the many paper they considered, 5 passed their stringent inclusion criteria and were used for further analysis.

The 5 studies all had a similar experimental design: the participants would fast for a predetermined period, they would come into the lab and be given food with various amounts of protein in it, then they were monitored for how full they felt over time.

Based on the primary analysis of these 5 papers and a secondary analysis of 28 papers, which were also included in the publication, the authors were able to conclude that diets higher in protein led to greater feelings of fullness (i.e. protein is associated with greater satiety).

  • Protein takes more energy to break down than other macronutrients 

Protein can help you maintain a calorie deficit because of increased satiety. If you’re not as hungry you’re going to eat less. If you eat less, you consume fewer calories. Fewer calories in relation to the energy you’re burning = weight loss.

Another reason protein is the macronutrient of choice for calorie deficits is because it takes more energy to digest it than fats or carbohydrates.

The energy used to break down ingested molecules is called the thermic effect of food. For protein, 20-35% of calories are burned during digestion. That’s a pretty substantial portion compared to the 5-15% of calories burned used when digesting carbohydrates and the 0-5% of calories burned when digesting fat.

The thermic effect of food is one component of metabolism. It, alongside resting metabolic rate (the calories required to keep you going in a completely rested state) and the exercise component (the calories you expend performing various activities throughout the day) determine your overall caloric expenditure. Increase any one of these factors and you increase the number of calories burned in a day and increase your chances of creating or maintaining a deficit.

The increased thermic effect of protein is beneficial for weight loss for 2 reasons: 1) More calories required for digestion adds to your daily caloric expenditure, tipping the scales in the direction of expenditure and increasing the deficit. 2) Subtracting the calories required to digest protein ingested decreases the total calories ingested, again tipping the scales in the favor of an increased deficit.

The thermic effect of protein is the property of protein which contributes to it boosting your metabolism.

How to incorporate more protein into your diet and what kind you should use

  • Protein timing for weight loss

The typical American or Canadian tends to consume most of our daily intake of protein later on in the day. Most people have a little bit at breakfast, a little bit at lunch, and then, proportionally, the most at dinner.

This eating strategy is a gross under utilization of the most important macronutrient for weight loss.

The increased satiety and the boost in metabolism experienced with increased protein intake are most effective when they are used as often as possible, and evenly, throughout the day.

That means if you’re trying to lose weight, spread your protein intake out evenly throughout the day. Timing your protein intake in this way will help you eat fewer calories and maintain that essential negative calorie balance.

  • The type of protein matters

There are many different options out there when it comes to protein supplements. Not only do you have to choose from a plethora of brands, you also have to pick what type protein you want.

There’s whey protein, casein protein, egg protein, pea protein, and the list goes on and on and on.

I’m going to make things as simple as possible for you. Pick whey protein.

Whey protein is the best because:

Essential amino acids are amino acids that must be ingested in the diet. The body cannot create them on its own.

BCAAs are essential amino acids. They make up 3 of the 9. “Branched chain” refers to the chemical structure of the amino acid itself.

BCAAs have proven abilities to promote muscle growth, decrease muscle soreness, reduce exercise fatigue, prevent muscle wasting, and benefit people with liver disease. The more of these bad boys you can pack into your diet, the better.

Leucine, in particular, is especially proficient in promoting muscle synthesis.

  • Whey protein has an incredibly high biological value

The biological value is a measure of the absorbed protein from a food that becomes incorporated into the proteins of the body.

Basically, if one protein is ingested and 90% of the amino acids making up that protein become part of protein in your body, it’s going to have a higher biological value than a protein where only 80% of the amino acids making it up are ingested.

Whey protein has the best biological value of proteins available out there in supplements. The whey protein you ingest is all going to be incorporated in your growing muscles.

Conclusion 

Protein is an incredibly effective way to help keep things on track in terms of your weight loss goals. It increases satiety and boosts metabolism, which are two factors that will help you maintain a negative calorie deficit that will result in weight loss.

If you find yourself stuck at a plateau (where you don’t see any movement on the scale for at least 2-3 weeks) try upping the amount of protein you consume in the day. It has worked for many people before and could be the answer to all of your weight loss problems.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve used protein to break through a weight loss plateau, I’d love to hear about it!

 

Taurine: Frequently Asked Questions

Taurine is an organic acid found in large amounts in the brain, retina, and blood. It is a “conditional amino acid”, meaning it can be manufactured by the body when insufficient amounts are ingested from the diet.

Taurine has many different functions throughout the body and several uses in modern medicine. For example, it acts as a stabilizer of cell membranes and helps out a few different anti-oxidant defense systems; it is used to treat congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and liver disease; it is used in seizure disorders, autism, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder; and supplementation has been shown to improve performance in athletes. Some are a direct result of the actions of taurine, others occur through taurine’s influence on other molecules.

With so many different effects and applications, it’s easy to get confused trying to sort out what taurine does, and what it doesn’t do.

With this article, I’m going to tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about taurine.

If you’re looking for some general information about taurine and taurine supplementation, check out this previous article of mine.

#1: Is taurine a stimulant?

A stimulant refers to a compound that increases the activity of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), that is pleasurable and invigorating, or stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.

On its own, taurine doesn’t seem to be a stimulant because it doesn’t fit these criteria.

While some studies have shown improvements in athletic performance and exercise capacity, this is likely occurring through taurine’s capacity as an antioxidant and membrane stabilizer, or through some function of taurine that hasn’t quite been identified yet.

Taurine is sometimes mistaken as a stimulant because a few studies have suggested taurine combined with caffeine improves mental performance. And because you’ll often find taurine listed as an ingredient in energy drinks.

#2: Is taurine a diuretic?

A diuretic is a compound that increases the production of urine.

It’s a little unclear as to whether taurine is a diuretic or not. I was able to find two studies saying it is, but one was done in hamsters and the other was super small.

The one study that was done in humans involved 8 patients with damage to their livers from liver disease. These patients had taurine added to their i.v. bag one day, had their urine volume measured, then had extra saline added to their i.v. bag the next day to serve as their own control.

A study with a sample size this small, which only included people with advanced liver disease, doesn’t allow you to draw too many conclusions. So, for now, the jury is still out on whether taurine is a diuretic.

#3: Is taurine a sleep aid?

In short, no.

Taurine is involved in the creation of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and it increases in the body with long periods of being awake. It also activates GABA(A) receptors in a region of the brain associated with sleep regulation.

These properties have led people to think that taurine is useful as a sleep aid.

However, the only study with good results suggesting taurine was useful for promoting sleep was done in fruit flies.

Studies done in rats showed minimal effects and the one study involving people didn’t show good results either.

#4: Can you take taurine before bed?

Taurine on its own is not a stimulant. So, yes, it can be taken before bed without any risk of disrupting your sleep.

Do be careful about other ingredients that might be appearing alongside taurine though. Often you’ll find taurine in energy drinks or pre-workout supplements, which contain caffeine and other stimulants that may make it difficult to fall asleep.

#5: Does taurine help with stress?

Taurine can be found in many different regions of the brain and can be taken in by neurons. In people, taurine levels found in the blood are related to depression.

One study examined the effect of taurine supplementation on chronically stressed rats.

The researchers supplemented rats with taurine before stress and measured changes in depression-like behavior, hormones, neurotransmitters, inflammatory factors, and neurotrophic factors.

The animals given taurine had decreased depression-like behaviors and displayed beneficial changes in many of the hormones and other factors measured. Based on the changes the researchers observed, they concluded that taurine may be involved in regulating the HPA axis (the master regulator of the stress response).

While these results have not been tested in humans, taurine does seem pretty promising in being able to help the brain cope with stress.

Conclusion

Taurine is found in many different parts of the body. Because it is so widespread, it plays many different roles in human physiology. Some science has discovered and characterized already, many remain active areas of research.

What do we know taurine does? Taurine is an antioxidant, it stabilizes cell membranes, it improves athletic performance and exercise capacity, it is beneficial for mental performance when combined with caffeine, it can safely be taken before bed, and it likely helps with stress management.

What doesn’t taurine do? Taurine is not a stimulant, it doesn’t seem to be a diuretic, and it is not a sleep aid.

Do you use taurine in your supplement stack? Have you had any personal experiences with it that don’t line up with what’s published about it in the science world? Let me know about it in the comments below. And please subscribe to the blog to get updates when new articles are posted!

Sources and further reading

Effect Of Taurine Supplementation On Exercise Capacity Of Patients With Heart Failure

The Effect Of Acute Taurine Ingestion On Endurance Performance And Metabolism In Well-trained Cyclists

A taurine and caffeine-containing drink stimulates cognitive performance and well-being

Taurine-induced diuresis and natriuresis in cirrhotic patients with ascites.

Effect of taurine and caffeine on sleep-wake activity in Drosophila melanogaster.

Effect of taurine on ethanol-induced sleep time in mice genetically bred for differences in ethanol sensitivity.

Effect of caffeine and taurine on simulated laparoscopy performed following sleep deprivation.

Antidepressant effect of taurine in chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced depressive rats.

Popular diets most effective for burning fat

Macronutrients are a type of food required in large amount in the diet. They’re your carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Macronutrients are essential for many biological processes. One of those processes is generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy.

In this article, we’re going to compare how four popular diets (intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, Whole30 diet, and the paleo diet) utilize carbohydrates, fats, and protein as sources of fuel.

Intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet

Intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy where you alternate between periods of fasting and regular eating. Although it should be said that most intermittent fasting dietary programs use modified fasting (you’re allowed small amounts of caloric intake) rather than real fasting (abstaining from all caloric intake).

Exactly how long you fast for and how often depends on the particular program you’re on.

There’s time-restricted feeding, alternate-day fasting, and Ramadan intermittent fasting.

  • Time-restricted feeding means you only eat during specific hours of the day. The window typically ranges from 6-12 hours each day.
  • Alternate-day fasting means you fast every other day.
  • And Ramadan intermittent fasting means you fast during the daylight hours.

People generally like intermittent fasting because of its flexibility and because it is easier to maintain for the long term.

The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet. The goal is to essentially replace all the calories you were getting from carbohydrates with calories from fat.

Like intermittent fasting, there are several different types.

  • The standard ketogenic diet is very low carb, moderate protein, and high fat.
  • The cyclical ketogenic diet is like the standard ketogenic diet, but with periods of high carb “refeeds”.
  • The targeted ketogenic diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
  • And the high-protein ketogenic diet is the standard ketogenic diet, but with high amounts of protein instead of moderate amounts.

Let’s look at the way these two diets affect how your body generates energy. I grouped intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet together because they both have a similar effect.

Your body relies on ATP to fuel the biological processes that make life as we know it possible. That’s just a rule. There’s no diet that can change the amount of ATP we use or don’t use.

What a diet can change is how ATP is generated.

Your body can create ATP from four different sources: creatine phosphate, carbohydrates, fats, and protein. And it will always do it in that order. If there is creatine phosphate around, your body will generate ATP from it. If there are carbohydrates around, your body will make ATP from that. Then it moves on to using fat as a source of ATP generation and, as a last resort, protein.

Carbohydrates can be found circulating in the blood and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver.

When you’re fasting or you’re on the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are limited. Since it’s the preferred method of generating ATP, your body will use up what’s available in the blood. Once that’s gone, glycogen stores will be converted to glucose and that will be used up.

Then, your body has no choice but to mobilize fat stores and use them to create ATP. The energy has to come from somewhere.

The Whole30 diet

The Whole30 diet was developed in 2009, riding the wave of the New York Times bestselling book, The Whole30.

The rules are relatively simple: for 30 days avoid real and artificial sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, baked goods, and treats (stay away from the sour dinosaurs!). Abstaining from all of these foods for a month supposedly eliminates cravings, restores a healthy metabolism, heals the digestive tract, and reduces systemic inflammation.

The diet isn’t so much about what you do eat, it’s about what you shouldn’t be eating.

What you can eat on the Whole30 diet are moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs. Lots of vegetables. Some fruit. And lots of herbs, spices, and seasonings. The general idea is that the less ingredients, and the more pronounceable those ingredients are, the better the foods are going to be for you.

The Whole30 diet shouldn’t really alter the macronutrients your body uses to generate ATP. Without the refined sugar and heavily processed carbohydrates, you’re going to avoid fast spikes and heavy drops of blood sugar levels. But, there still will be glucose circulating and enough carbohydrates coming in from your diet (the fruits and vegetables that you’re eating) to replenish glycogen stores in the liver and muscle.

The paleo diet

The paleo diet is designed to resemble what human hunter-gatherers ate eons ago – cause apparently they knew what was up when it comes to human nutrition.

The diet is based on eating whole foods and leading a physically active life.

The paleo diet is a lot like the Whole30 diet, there’s just fewer restrictions on the relative proportions of what you can eat.

First, things you have to avoid when you eat paleo:

  • Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Some vegetable oils (soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil)
  • Trans fats (found in things like margarine)
  • Artificial sweeteners

You can eat meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats, and oils. In any amounts you want to.

In terms of macronutrients you rely on, eating paleo puts you in the same boat as the Whole30 diet. It really depends on what eat (and their relative proportions) of the food your allowed to consume.

You can be paleo and have a high carb diet. You can be paleo and have a low carb diet. You could be paleo and be ketogenic or do intermittent fasting too. The macronutrients you use to generate ATP (whether it’s biased towards carbohydrates or fats) all depends on the amount of carbs in your diet and how often you’re eating those carbs.

Conclusion

There are lots of diets out there. Ultimately, which one works best for you depends on who you are, your lifestyle, and your goals.

Of the most popular diets, intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet are the two that will most effectively burn fat as a source of energy. I prefer intermittent fasting because it is really adaptable and there is a lot of science backing up its health benefits.

Here’s a good article to check out if you’re interested: Intermittent fasting: Surprising update.

 

 

 

 

The lesser known benefits of ashwagandha

Ashwagandha: the king of Ayurvedic herbs.

Ashwagandha is a traditional medicine of India. It’s touted as an adaptogen (a substance that helps your body cope with stress), it improves physical performance, and there are some studies suggesting it may be a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

These are the flashy, more well known, benefits of ashwagandha.

With this article I wanted to touch on some of the lesser known benefits of ashwagandha supplementation that haven’t got as much attention. These are its role in cholesterol management, luteinizing hormone, and DHEA. If you don’t know what any of those are now, don’t worry, it’ll all become clear.

I’ll go through each of those in turn and highlight some of the scientific studies supporting these claims.

Ashwagandha lowers cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of lipid. It is made by all animal cells and it plays important roles in human physiology; it maintains cell membrane structure and it serves as a precursor for steroid hormones, bile acid, and vitamin D.

Just like anything in life though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. High levels of cholesterol can cause the development of fatty deposits in your blood vessels, which increases your risk of heart disease.

Two studies suggest ashwagandha supplementation can reduce cholesterol.

Study #1

Six people with mild high cholesterol supplemented with ashwagandha for 30 days. They experienced a significant decrease in serum cholesterol.

** there was no placebo group used in this study **

Study #2

Eighteen men and women took increasing amounts of ashwagandha for 30 days. Total cholesterol was found to be reduced after the 30 day trial.

** there was no placebo group used in this study **

Conclusion – cholesterol

Ashwagandha supplementation may be beneficial in lowering cholesterol in relatively healthy people with normal or slightly high cholesterol levels.

Ashwagandha increases luteinizing hormone

Luteinizing hormone (LH) is a hormone, obviously. It is produced by the pituitary gland (the hormone regulating center of the body).

In women, LH triggers ovulation and development of the corpus luteum.

In men, LH stimulates the production of testosterone in the testis.

Two studies suggest supplementing with ashwagandha can increase LH production and contribute to a better semen profile.

Study #1

Seventy-five infertile men were given 5 grams a day of ashwagandha for 3 months.

Once the 3 months was up, the researchers measured the biochemical characteristics, antioxidant vitamins, and levels of certain hormones in the semen of the men.

The men supplementing with ashwagandha had an improved biochemical profile in their semen, and increased levels of LH.

** this study did not have a real placebo group. 75 healthy men were used as controls, but did not receive any type of supplement **

** this study only included men, so we have no idea how to extrapolate these findings to women **

** we have no idea how ashwagandha would affect the semen of fertile men **

Study #2

60 men who were infertile because they smoked, were psychologically stressed, or were infertile for unknown reasons were treated with 5 grams of ashwagandha per day for 3 months (same as the previous study).

This study also showed increased semen quality with supplementation and increased LH levels more comparable to controls.

This study adds a little bit more to what we know about the affect stress has on fertility. The increase in LH in the men who were supplemented happened right alongside a reduction in stress.

Based on what we know about the effect of cortisol (the stress hormone) on LH, it is quite possible that ashwagandha could be increasing LH levels at least partially through decreasing stress and cortisol.

** this study did not have a placebo group and the control group was not treated with ashwagandha **

** we still don’t know what effect ashwagandha supplementation would have on women **

Conclusion – Luteinizing hormone

Ashwagandha supplementation can help increase LH in men who are having trouble with fertility.

Ashwagandha increases dehydroepiandrosterone

Dehydroepiandrosterone, called DHEA, because the full name is almost impossible to say. DHEA is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain.

It functions as a road stop on the synthesis pathway to androgens and estrogen sex steroids.

And it functions as a signaling molecule on its own.

Supplementing with ashwagandha increases DHEA, according to one study.

Study #1

130 men and women took part in a double-blind (neither the people in the study or the experimenters knew who was receiving the particular treatment), placebo-controlled study. The participants getting the ashwagandha supplement took 125, 250, or 500 mg per day for 60 days.

Among the many other things the researchers were measuring, they observed an increase in DHEA in the experimental group over the placebo.

Since DHEA plays a role in the synthesis of sex steroids, its increase with ashwagandha could at least partially explain some of the benefits on fertility men experience when they take it.

DHEA also has direct effects in the brain and spinal cord. For instance, it can modulate the NMDA receptor and the GABAA receptor. Influencing either of these receptors can have a significant influence on neurotransmission and brain activity in general.

Conclusion – DHEA

Ashwagandha supplementation can help increase DHEA levels in healthy men and women.

Conclusion

Ashwagandha is the king of herbs for a good reason. The studies I highlighted here today show its ability to lower cholesterol, increase luteinizing hormone, and increase DHEA. And these fall into the category of lesser researched aspects of the herb.

The benefits of ashwagandha in this article alone are enough to warrant its use. Don’t forget about its proven ability as an adaptogen, as a performance enhancer, and as a neuroprotective agent.

If you’re looking to start using it, I recommend taking 300-500mg of root extract per day. You can break that up into multiple smaller doses across the day, or if you want to take it all at once, take it with breakfast.

Sources and further reading

Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root.

Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers.

Withania Somnifera Improves Semen Quality By Regulating Reproductive Hormone Levels And Oxidative Stress In Seminal Plasma Of Infertile Males

Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility.

A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study

3 simple tips to help you become a smart spender

You can make a good argument that spending money today is easier than spending money 50 years ago.

Most people, myself included, carry nothing but plastic. I don’t even remember that last time I paid for something in cash.

Paying with credit cards – and debit cards are likely the same – is less painful psychologically than paying with cash. Because it is easier to divorce the pain of spending money from the pleasure a new purchase can bring, unsmart spending can quickly take over.

Pair this with a few other psychological quirks and it’s a wonder you ever have anything left in your bank account.

Today I’d like to share a few thoughts on being a smart spender.

I’ll explain a couple cognitive biases that can trick us into spending more than we should and then share a few tips about smart spending that have really worked for me.

Common mental money traps people fall into

Humans have the unique gift of being rational. And most of the time we convince ourselves that we’re exercising this ability. When faced with a decision, for example, we logically weigh the pros and cons, digest the information, and pick a direction based on sound reasoning.

When you put some of your decisions under a microscope, however, you might find that you’re not as logical as you think you are.

Sometimes, maybe most times, you might fall for a cognitive bias.

Cognitive biases are errors in thinking that occur as you process and interpret information in the world around you.

Falling for a cognitive bias can hurt your bank account and make you an un-smart spender.

Here are 2 in particular that can make you spend more than you want to if you’re not careful.

1) Anchoring

Anchoring is when you rely too heavily on an initial piece of information when making decisions. When you’re buying something, the initial piece of information might be the first price you saw for a particular item.

Say you’re in the market for a house. Your real estate agent takes you to the neighborhood you’re interested in and the first house they show you is $1 million.

Then they show you several houses for $750,000.

Because you saw the $1 million-dollar home first, $750 000 seems like a pretty good bargain.

Until you go home, do your research, and find out that the average house price in that neighborhood is $500 000.

If you weren’t wise and crafty, you might have believed that real estate agent, spent way over your budget and gone home feeling good about yourself because you got a good deal.

2) The Bandwagon Effect

“Hopping on the bandwagon” simply means going along with the crowd instead of making your own decisions.

We are social creatures and it is human nature to want to fit in.

Blindly going along with the crowd to fit in, however, can throw you into a financial tail spin pretty damn fast.

Buying a house, buying a car, going on vacation, family trips, dinners out, new clothes and accessories, fitness classes…

These are all tempting activities to want to get involved in as you see friends, family, and coworkers doing them.

But can you afford it? Your financial situation may be completely different than your best friends or your neighbors. Maybe they’re not making the best decisions about money. Maybe they got some kind of inheritance from a distant relative and can afford that lavish lifestyle.

In any case, you just don’t know what everyone else’s situation is. So, don’t do things just because every else is doing it.

How to be smart with money

Here are a few tips to help you be smart with money.

1) Be aware of your biases

Pretty much the only way to overcome a cognitive bias is to know it exists.

Acknowledge the fact that your brain has limitations, look out for them, and adjust accordingly when a situation arises that could make you fall for one.

2) Live below your means

This rule applies no matter how much money you have in the bank. Because excessive spending can ruin you, no matter how wealthy you are.

Living below your means doesn’t mean you have to be a complete minimalist and adopt a lifestyle of frugality.

And it doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself.

It just means getting things only when you can afford them. This is a simple principle on the surface, but much harder in actual practice. Our brains are incredibly good at finding reasons to convince us that what we want needs to be purchased right now.

Discipline yourself.

If you want a new car but can’t afford it, set a goal and come up with a plan to get the money you need. Then buy it.

3) Learn to say no

Have you ever gone out for dinner or drinks when you knew you couldn’t afford it, just because you were afraid to say no or because your were afraid of letting people know how little money you actually have.

Saying no isn’t as socially destructive as you think it might be. It can actually be quite liberating. You reach a new level of comfort with yourself and your life when you can boldly stare reality in the face, accept it, and act in a way that is best for you and your loved ones.

Can’t afford to go out for drinks for Sarah’s birthday? “Sorry I can’t make it this time.”

“Jonny’s bachelor party is in Mexico, do you want to come for 1 week or 2?” – “Maybe next time, that’s just not in my budget right now.”

I promise you’re not going to lose your friends and your family isn’t going to disown you just because you can’t make an event here and there.

They might actually appreciate it when you don’t have to ask them for money because you blew your entire savings on a destination wedding for a third cousin last month.

Conclusion

Overspending can make you feel out of control, guilty, and worried. Financial stress is the worst; it can rip families apart and lead to a lot of sleepless nights.

The key to avoiding overspending and being a smart spender is knowledge. Know how your brain works and know what your situation is. Then, have the courage to face that reality and the discipline to keep yourself in check.

Sources and further reading

How to Spend Smart

10 Cognitive Biases in Your Brain That Are Costing You Money

Don’t spend, invest—and other secrets from millionaires

Dollars and Sense