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    Is Potato Protein the Next Big Thing?

    You’re familiar with whey, pea, and soy, but potato protein? It might not be just a fad. A new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise finds that consuming protein extracted from potatoes has the same benefits for helping your body rebound after a workout as consuming milk protein—long believed to be the go-to source for post-exercise recovery.

    Plant proteins are typically considered less useful in recovery because they’re harder to digest and are incomplete in their amino acids compared to animal protein, but potatoes, it turns out, have all the essential amino acids that milk does.

    In the study, Dutch biologists asked a group of fit guys to consume a beverage made with 30 grams of either potato or milk protein powder after resistance training. The result? Muscle protein synthesis (a.k.a. recovery) was enhanced equally for both groups, says study co-author Luc J.C. van Loo.
    But since whole potatoes contain a measly 1.5 percent protein based on their weight, potato protein powder (protein extract from the “juice” of the potato) is definitely the way to go.

    A newcomer to the fitness supplements market, potato protein is expected to reach $115 billion in sales by 2030, according to some estimates. For now, though, look for it in your local health food store.

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    6 Tips for an Optimal Post-Workout Meal, According to a Performance Nutrition Coach

    This article was produced in partnership with Healthy Choice.
    So, you had an incredible workout, and now it’s time to follow up the effort with a meal to match. But finding the right balance among protein, carbs, fiber, and fats can have you wishing you were hitting the squat rack again instead. Thing is, eating right isn’t as complicated as it might seem. Enjoying a great post-workout meal really just comes down to planning. In fact, no-prep meals like Healthy Choice Max Bowls make it downright simple, not to mention tasty (more on this below).
    Step one, according to Scott Tindal, a performance nutrition coach and co-founder and chief nutrition officer at Fuelin, a company that provides personalized, sport-specific nutrition guidance to athletes, suggests identifying the purpose of your workout. “Is it high performance, such as training for a sporting event, or is it focused on body composition? That’s going to dictate overall caloric intake and the way you’re going to feel on a day-to-day basis,” he says.
    Before we get into the specifics of what makes a quality post-workout meal, it’s important to understand that your training and nutrition go hand in hand. “The training is only going to be as good as the nutrition that supports it,” Tindal says. “Don’t expect eating more protein to make you some sort of Adonis. You gotta put the work in.”
    Here’s how to reach for meals that optimize your body and, as a result, your overall well-being.
    1. Look for high-protein foods
    While protein isn’t a magic muscle-maker, it is one of the keys to refueling after exercise. For muscle growth, around 1.6 or 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight is recommended. But to avoid undershooting, Tindal suggests going for somewhere around 2 to 2.5 grams per kilogram. When you eat protein, a higher percentage of those calories are used to metabolize what you’re eating (known as the thermic effect of food) than when you eat carbs or fat. Plus, high-protein meals tend to improve feelings of fullness and satiation. With 33 to 34 grams of protein per serving, Healthy Choice Max Bowls are an excellent option to help hit your ideal daily protein quota.
    Keep in mind, Tindal says, this formula assumes there aren’t any underlying health conditions that might prevent you from taking in high amounts of protein. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor.
    2. Fill up on fiber
    Tindal notes that the average daily consumption of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. is low, around 2 or fewer servings per day when it should be between 5 to 9. He advises aiming for 6 servings, or “six fists,” if you need a visual. This will also help you get an optimal amount of fiber in your diet, ideally around 25 grams or more. With ingredients like black beans, roasted sweet corn, red bell peppers, edamame, leafy greens, and zucchini, Healthy Choice Max Bowls are an excellent source of  fiber. Healthy Choice Max Tex Mex Chicken Bowl, for example, has 12 grams.

    Healthy Choice Max Tex Mex Chicken Bowl Healthy Choice
    3. Top it off with good carbs
    After protein, carb-rich foods are going to make up the rest of your caloric intake. Tindal advocates for a carb target that’s balanced with the amount of protein you’re eating—so if you’re aiming for 150 grams of protein, a similar amount of carbs is a good starting point. More importantly, you should focus on whole foods, with “a majority of those carbohydrate sources coming from vegetables and salads,” he says. After veggies, Tindal recommends eating root vegetables and fruit, as well as rice, grains, pulses (think beans, lentils, and peas), and pasta, particularly if you have more body mass and need to consume more carbs to hit your daily quota (2 to 5 grams per kilogram of body weight). Carbs will also prepare your body for tomorrow’s workout by replenishing glycogen stores.
    4. Avoid high-fat foods
    “Fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient,” Tindal says. Fats certainly aren’t bad, but they offer the least bang for your buck in terms of helping you feel full and delivering energy. Choose your fats wisely and opt for monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados, and almonds along with omega-3 fats found in small, oily fish. Aiming for somewhere around 0.8-to-0.9 grams per kilo of body weight is a good place to start. With just 4 to 7 grams of monounsaturated fat and 9 to 14 grams of fat per serving, Healthy Choice Max Bowls fit the bill.

    Healthy Choice
    5. Eat complex and complete meals
    While improving your body composition and building muscle requires that you burn more calories than you consume, that doesn’t mean you have to be hungry or eat small meals. Oftentimes the opposite is true. “If you’re not eating, then you’re not going to feel good about your training,” Tindal says. This could lead to inconsistencies in your routine, low energy levels, reduced effort and, in turn, prevent you from achieving your workout goals altogether. Tindal says, “If your protein intake is high and you’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables, you will eat a lot of food, probably more food than you’re used to eating.”
    6. Save time with the right pre-made meal
    Between commuting, work, working out, and your other daily obligations, you likely don’t have time to cook every meal from raw ingredients. But that doesn’t mean you need to succumb to that temptation to order delivery. “You may have no way of quantifying the amount of food or calories you’re eating if you’re eating takeout,” Tindal says. So how do you make eating healthy less of an onerous task? Reach for frozen meals like Healthy Choice Max Bowls, which meet the rest of the above parameters for a healthy, active lifestyle, and are ready in the time it takes to place an order.
    For more inspired post-workout meal ideas, visit Healthy or shop now on Instacart.

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    The Benefits of Taking a 30-Day Break From Alcohol

    Dry January has become increasingly popular in recent years, but we’ll be the first ones to say it: There’s nothing quite like sipping on some good whiskey after a long day or enjoying a glass of red to enhance the deliciousness of dinner. Even so, that evening beverage—and the subsequent false feeling that everything’s suddenly a little easier to handle—can easily snowball into multiple drinks or drinking every day of the week. Even if you stay under two drinks per night (that’s considered “moderate” drinking for men), the effects of alcohol can add up night after night.
    The problem: “Alcohol is a neurocognitive depressant, meaning it depresses the central nervous system. Over time, it can negatively impact nearly every system in the body,” says Abe Malkin, M.D., family medicine physician and medical advisor at Monument, a digital alcohol treatment platform.
    Fortunately, the human body has an amazing ability to heal.
    “The benefits of sobriety can become apparent in just a few weeks,” Malkin says, “like during a sobriety challenge.”
    Taking a 30-day break from alcohol, such as during Dry January (or any time of year), can create a host of benefits, including better sleep, a more stable mood, less brain fog, and an improved immune response. Perhaps most notably, studies show it can improve your relationship with alcohol if and when you decide to imbibe again. Research even shows staying off the sauce for 30 days can actually make you feel more satisfied with life and more motivated and confident in your own abilities.
    If you’re toying with the idea of going booze-free for a bit, it’s smart to commit to a challenge that has defined rules and expectations: A 2017 study in the European Journal of Public Health found that people who committed to Dry January were more successful at staying sober for the 30 days and had reduced problematic drinking six months later compared to people who set a more general goal to drink less.
    “Popular sobriety challenges like Dry January provide an extra level of peer accountability and help normalize alcohol-free living as a proud choice,” Malkin adds.
    And it doesn’t mean you have to give up booze forever: Dry January is a great way to develop a more mindful relationship with the joy juice moving forward.
    When tallied up, the benefits of abstaining from alcohol for 30 days make a compelling case for giving it a try. Here are all the upsides you could see by taking a break from booze during Dry January (or anytime this year).

    Dry January: 10 Benefits of Taking a 30-Day Break From Alcohol

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    Best Weight-Loss Diets of 2022, Ranked

    Winter is a pivotal season. It’s often a turning point for those who’ve been dragging their feet about making healthier choices, like moving more and eating healthier. That’s why, each year, U.S. News & World Report evaluates the most popular diets, and ranks them by category. The folks create a sort of hierarchy of meal plans, delineating which are best for overall health and body-fat maintenance, which are best suited for quick weight loss, and more.
    For 2022, the Mediterranean diet reigned supreme (as it has for many years), ranking no.1 in the best diets overall. If you’re trying to lose weight and optimize your health, check out the top nutrition plans—including what each entails—below.

    Best Diets Overall

    Mediterranean DietThe goal: Melt fat and avoid chronic diseases, like cancer and diabetes.Pros: You can enjoy poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation; eat sweets and red meat on special occasions; and have red wine with your fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and seafood. There’s a plethora of research backing up this diet.Cons: You have to be accountable for figuring out calorie consumption to lose or maintain your weight, as well as your workouts.
    DASH DietThe goal: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan does what its name suggests: helps lower high blood pressure and encourages weight loss.Pros: It’s straightforward. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy; eat less red meat, salt, and high-calorie sweets. Plus, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers free guides.Cons: You might not lose as much weight as you would on other plans because it’s more catered to improving your health (not necessarily a bad thing).
    Flexitarian DietThe goal: Cut fat and live longer with optimal health.Pros: It’s said “flexitarians” (flexible vegetarians) weigh 15 percent less than meat-eaters, live nearly 4 years longer, and can dodge heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.Cons: If you’re hell-bent on eating beef, this might be difficult to adhere to. You’ll also be cooking a lot of your own meals.

    Best Weight-Loss Diets

    Flexitarian Diet
    Volumetrics DietThe goal: Drop 1-2 pounds per week.Pros: Created by a Penn State University nutrition professor, Volumetrics is more of an approach to healthy eating than a regimented diet. You’ll learn to identify and prioritize low-density foods, which are low in calories but high in volume (think: broth) to help you stay full. It’s also affordable, since you’re not purchasing a book, program, or special ingredients. You won’t feel hungry or starved either.Cons: This might be easier to stray from because you have more freedom.
    Weight Watchers DietThe goal: Lose 2 pounds a week.Pros: The meal plan’s flexible; you have access to a support group; and there aren’t hard limits on what you can and can’t eat. You’ll simply opt for the most nutritionally dense foods that keep you fuller longer. (i.e. your meals will be lower in calories, saturated fat, and sugar, and higher in protein.)Cons: It can get a bit pricey, and tallying your meal points is a pain.

    Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets

    Atkins DietThe goal: The diet has four phases. You cut carbs, then eat progressively more until you hit your desired weight. Low-carb diets force your body to burn fat as an alternative source of fuel.Pros: Protein and fat take longer than carbs to digest, so you’ll stay full on the diet. You’ll see weight loss fairly quickly (even if it’s initially due to water loss).Cons: It’s difficult to maintain in the long run. People struggle with getting variety in meals and eating out is difficult.
    Health Management Resources (HMR)The goal: Drop 1 to 2 pounds per week for an average of 23 pounds over the first 12 weeks; keeping the weight off is a main priority.Pros: The crux of this diet is meal replacement, which is said to help people cut 3x as much weight compared to traditional diets. You’ll have low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars, multigrain hot cereal, and fruits and vegetables in place of other meals and snacks. You’ll also receive food for the first 3 weeks to drop weight as quickly as possible; then, you’ll transition to the second phase where the diet is less structured and you’ll receive food monthly, as well as weekly telephone coaching sessions.Cons: The first phase can be difficult to adhere to. It’s a tad expensive, especially if you’re not used to buying fruits and vegetables in bulk. The initial 3-week HMR starter kit costs $301 and the 2-week reorder kit costs $185.
    OPTAVIA: The goal: Like most weight-loss diets, OPTAVIA relies on a low-carb, low-calorie approach to cut weight quickly with most of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber coming from fortified, pre-made meal replacements, coined “fuelings.” This calorie restriction diet also centers around six “Habits of Health Transformational System”: weight, eating and hydration, motion, sleep, mind, and surroundings.Pros: This is a variation of the Medifast diet. The “fuelings” meals have an identical macronutrient profile, only they’re void of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. You’ll eat four to five prepackaged meals, then cook your own low-carb meal, prioritizing fatty fish twice a week. You’ll be matched with a coach who can provide support, too.Cons: You may feel hungry on the diet and won’t get the full micronutrients you’d receive from a whole-food diet.
    Keto DietThe goal: Quickly lose weight by causing your body to burn fat versus carbs, entering a state of ketosis.Pros: You’ll eventually have fewer craving and boost mood and energy, though it’s a tough transition at first.Cons: You can experience headaches, fatigue, and mental fogginess during the first few weeks. This is difficult to sustain over a long period of time, too. It’s better for quick weight loss.

    Easiest Diets to Follow

    Mediterranean Diet
    Flexitarian Diet
    MIND DietThe goal: The MIND marries the DASH and Mediterranean diets and focuses on foods that support brain health. It’s believed consuming leafy greens (7 1-cup servings weekly), nuts (snack most days), and berries (5 half-cup servings weekly) may lower a person’s risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.The pros: It’s nutritionally robust with no need to count calories, plus the fiber-rich foods keep you full. The plan also has plenty of recipes to follow.The cons: Not a ton of guidance.

    Get the full list here.

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    Is Stress Aging Your Immune System Prematurely?

    Have you ever noticed the way older people get sick more often? That’s due to an aging immune system, which can’t fend off bugs the way spring chickens can. Now, a new study suggests stress can dramatically age your immune system, leaving maxed-out people at higher risk of illness.

    “Adults who reported chronic ongoing stressors, major life trauma, and stressful life events tended to have cell percentages that indicated more immune aging,” says lead study author Eric Klopack at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in Los Angeles.

    There are two possible ways stress causes your immune system to age, says Klopack. The first is by leading to unhealthy behaviors like poor diet, which can shrink your thymus, an organ responsible for the growth of T cells (important for immune functioning). The second is that stress can activate a particular virus (cytomegalovirus or CMV) in the body that damages the immune system.

    “Since avoiding stress is often impossible, building up resilience and coping tools might be useful. A a strong social support network can help reduce the health risks associated with stress.”

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    Antibiotics Can Hurt Your Aerobic Performance Come Race Day

    If you’ve been fighting an infection and your doc recommends antibiotics, consider waiting until after your 10K or half-marathon to begin taking them. Researchers at the University of California at Riverside found that, in lab studies, a 10-day course of antibiotics decreased aerobic performance by 21 percent.
    “Antibiotics can kill many, if not most, bacteria in your gut that play an essential role in normal bodily functions,” says co-author Theodore Garland. Antibiotics don’t just kill off the harmful bacteria causing your infection, he explains, they also remove important bacteria from the gut that provide energy for muscles in the body.On the positive side, researchers found no indication of other negative health side effects from the antibiotics. Your takeaway? Weigh the severity of your symptoms against the importance of your sporting event. If the race takes precedence, hold off on your antibiotics until you cross the finish line to preserve your aerobic performance.

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    Is Lager the Secret to Boosting Your Gut's Microbiome?

    Want to give your gut health a boost? Take a page out of Homer Simpson’s book and grab a cold one. Beer and the gut microbiome might not seem like they’d have a symbiotic relationship, but drinking one brew every night for four weeks straight was found to increase the diversity of gut bacteria and improve intestinal function, according to a report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Science.
    Gut bacteria is big news these days, as research shows it’s associated with everything from greater immunity (good gut bacteria) to heart disease (bad gut bacteria).The current study, which split men into two groups, found both alcoholic and non-alcoholic lager yielded positive results for the microbiome. More important than alcohol content, it turns out, is the color of your beer.The darker the beer, the better it is for your microbiome. That’s due to a higher concentration of something called polyphenols—compounds researchers credit with giving beer its gut-enhancing, health-fortifying benefits.

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    How Athletic Greens Is Innovating AG1

    Origins storyFounder Chris Ashenden started Athletic Greens 10 years ago. He was experiencing a lot of health issues, from gut distress to low energy to nutrient deficiency and insufficiency. Experts recommended supplements—a whole lot of ’em—but taking 20 to 30 tablets a day to rectify the problem didn’t seem logical.To get all those vitamins and minerals, pre- and probiotics, and phytonutrients, “you’d need a whole cabinet and refrigerator,” says Ralph Esposito, a naturopathic physician and functional medicine practitioner specializing in integrative medicine at Athletic Greens. “If you look at nature, though, it does this organically. In ancient Indian culture, Ayurvedic medicine and cooking has a lot of yogurt, botanicals, herbs, and spices. Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and apples—they have a lot of these pre- and probiotics and phytonutrients. Ashwagandha was a food first, then became a supp. When you boil it all down, it comes to establishing essentials of nutrition for proper gut health and looking at the body as a whole.”That’s where the idea of AG1 came in. Ashenden wanted to create a green drink that went beyond a multivitamin. He wanted it to contain herbs, nutrients, phytonutrients, flavanols, pre- and probiotics to make foundational health as simple as starting your day with a beverage, much like the ritual of having tea or coffee.When you’re experiencing a malady, like IBS, it’s not just one root cause of the problem. There are a multitude of systems communicating with one another—your gut, adrenals, vascular, skin, etc.—that need to find a sense of equilibrium to not flip the switch and short-circuit the whole system.So when it came to formulating AG1, Ashenden took the same symbiotic approach. There are nine synergistic products by way of vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system and nervous system chugging along; a superfood complex comprising fruits and vegetables picked at peak harvest times for the most potent phytonutrient count; dairy-free probiotics to support the gut microbiome and aid nutrient absorption as well as digestion; antioxidants and plant extracts with adaptogens that help minimize stress at a cellular level; and an enzyme and mushroom complex to further aid digestion. More