Should you avoid coffee since it increases blood sugar?

iced coffee.PNGAs a type 1 diabetic, making sure my blood sugar is in a safe range is something I have to monitor every day, so when I read that coffee increases blood sugar levels, I wanted to know how much it increased my blood sugar. To find out how much drinking iced coffee increased my blood sugar, I tested my blood sugar before eating or drinking anything (except plain water) with my glucose monitor (I prick my finger and put the small drop of blood on a test strip), and after drinking iced coffee (just refrigerated coffee, water, and ice). I used a food scale to weigh the coffee to make sure it was the same amount each time. I did several tests to see if there was a pattern.

  • Test 1: 5 oz of coffee increased my blood sugar by 3 points
  • Test 2: 6 oz of coffee increased my blood sugar by 36 points
  • Test 3: 5 oz of coffee increased my blood sugar by 2 points
  • Test 4: 5 oz of coffee increased my blood sugar by 16 points
  • Test 5: 5 oz of coffee increased my blood sugar by 14 points
  • Test 6: 5 oz of coffee increased my blood sugar by 13 points

As you can see from the above numbers, there is no consistency, and there is no way to predict how much plain coffee will increase my blood sugar. I accidentally poured an additional ounce of coffee on test two, which increased my blood sugar levels higher compared to the other tests, but glucose monitors are not 100% accurate, and can be off by 10%, either upwards or downwards. For instance, I have tested my blood sugar three times in one minute, and each time, the numbers will be different (but not typically that far off from each other).

I decided to throw test two out, but still disclose it, because the amount of coffee was higher than the other tests, and because it appears to be an anomaly. Another factor to take into consideration is how stressed I was on the day I took those tests, because stress increases blood sugar levels (especially for diabetics). By averaging the numbers over five of the six tests, blood sugar increased by approximately 10 points. Since that is not a significant increase, I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about for me, but for someone who is pre-diabetic, or diabetic, and drinks more than five ounces of coffee, which is a very small amount, I would advise them to test their blood sugar before and after like I did, preferably over a longer period of time, maybe two weeks, to see how coffee affects their blood sugar levels, since everyone reacts differently.

If coffee increases someone’s blood sugar by 50 points, avoiding coffee, or taking prescribed blood sugar lowering medication, or exercising shortly after drinking coffee is what I would suggest, along with talking to your doctor about the best method to take to keep your blood sugar from spiking.

How intense do your workouts need to be to lose weight?

pull upsYou don’t need to work out so hard that you end up puking, feeling nauseous, or, are in pain. Any certified personal fitness trainer that puts you through a routine like that, and knows how you feel, isn’t adjusting the workout to fit your current strength and cardiovascular level.

Pain, nausea or vomiting, is your body’s alarm signal that something is not right. A workout should be intense enough to make you sweat, at least a little, increase your heart rate (but not so much that you end up wheezing, or cannot hold a conversation). Your muscles should “burn” those last few reps, though. If you ever feel a sharp pain while exercising, stop immediately!

“No pain, no gain” is a meathead’s expression, and anyone who believes that, doesn’t know anything about how to gain strength while preventing injury. This doesn’t mean you can be lazy and still get results. Exercise shouldn’t be so easy that you can read a book and comprehend what you’re reading. Your exercise program should include a few sessions that feel hard, but not crazy; some that are easier, but still make you sweat; and others, like walking and stretching, should be included in your exercise regimen because they feel good, and, are good for you.

Photo: This photo was taken of me a little over three years ago, back when I could only do pull-ups with assistance. I’ve also made corrections to my posture since then, see the excessive curve in my lower back, by keeping my pelvis tucked under a tad (instead of sticking my butt out as seen above). I try to keep my ribcage down (it’s flared out here), and engage my lower abs (I’m sticking my stomach out in this photo without realizing it. By engaging the lower abs, this protects the back and makes the abdominals stronger and held in). I also continually work on pulling my shoulders back and down as much as possible (shown above). Why do I do all this? It’s to prevent pain and injury, is totally worth it, and looks better to boot.

30-day weight loss challenge for serious results

30-day weight-loss kickoff challenge.PNG

If your new year’s resolution is to decrease bodyfat, increase muscle and clean up your eating habits, this kickstart challenge will produce fast results in just 30 days. It includes:

  • bodyfat test
  • diet book
  • healthy, dairy-free recipes, emailed to you
  • customized exercise program design
  • one-on-one diet analysis
  • diet and exercise worksheets
  • personal training sessions at Crunch Carmel Valley

Make sure to enroll before the end of this month, as the challenge starts on January 2nd. The seminar, which will go over all the details, will be held on Sunday at 12pm in the upstairs exercise classroom. If you can’t attend the seminar, don’t worry, contact me and I’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Standing is bad too. What to do.

kicking wavesBy now, everyone has heard that sitting is really bad for us because it puts excessive pressure on the low back, reduces mobility in our hips and spine, causes stiffness, and puts our head, neck and shoulders in a forward position that causes pain and unnatural rounding. So, a lot of people have elevated their work desks, and are now standing at their jobs, but standing for long periods of time isn’t good either.

So, we’re not supposed to sit, or stand, so what are we supposed to do if we are stuck at work, or standing in line for extended periods of time? The answer is to be mobile, by that, I mean, frequently move around. If you’re standing, try leg swings, front and back, side to side. Perform shoulder rolls, hip cleaners, calf raises, arm circles, squats, hip circles, glute squeezes, reverse lunges, elevated push-ups with your hands on the edge of your desk (as long as it doesn’t move), hip hinges, stand on one leg for balance (and switch sides), and/or perform gentle low-kicks. There’s lots of exercises you can do while standing, and you’ll feel so much better too.

Photo: Me, flicking water off my toes with a kick

How to increase your pull-ups for a stronger back


I used to only be able to do 1 ½ pull-ups, and that was after eight years of lifting weights consistently! In less than a year, I increased my pull-ups from 1.5 to 10. Here’s how I did it. Perform as many pull-ups, for me that was 1-2, and then quickly get on the assisted pull-up machine, and do 10 more pull-ups with good form (for a total number of 12 pull-ups). I did three sets, with a 2-3 minute break between each set, twice a week, with two full days of rest before performing pull-ups again. For instance, if I did pull-ups on Tuesday, I would do them again on Friday.

If you can only do assisted pull-ups, just decrease the assistance by lowering the weight, or using a lighter band, as you get stronger, to make the exercise more difficult. You might want to do 1 set, two times a week, to start, for 30 days, and add a 2nd set each workout for the next 30 days. After 60 days, you can add the third set, every workout, as long as it doesn’t wear you down.

Go at your own pace. The takeaway is that, whatever exercises you want to excel at, do it twice a week with good form. Whatever muscles you want to grow, work them hard, but not failure, twice a week.

Sample pull-up program:

  • Month 1:  12 assisted pull-ups. 1 set, performed twice a week. That’s 24 pull-ups each week.
  • Month 2:  12 assisted pull-ups. 2 sets (do another 12 pull-ups after a 2-3 minute rest period). That’s 48 pull-ups each week.
  • Month 3:  12 assisted pull-ups. 3 sets (this is three rounds of pull-ups, for a total of 36 pull-ups). Take a 2-3 minute break between each set. That’s 108 pull-ups each week.
  • Month 4:  Do as many un-assisted pull-ups, with good form, and then perform the remaining assisted pull-ups. Total reps (with and without assistance should be 12). That’s a total of 108 pull-ups each week
  • Month 5+: keep going, but you don’t need to do more than 4 sets each workout session.

Photo: me

how many times a day should you eat for weight loss

red top and blue shorts by cliff.jpgIt’s advised to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism up, but how many times a day you should eat depends on many factors. For instance, many bikini competitors eat six times a day. There’s a lean bodybuilder at my gym who tells his clients to eat ten times a day. An popular female Instagram influencer eats only three times a day. So, what is it? Three, six or ten?

Not only does the total calories, types of food, and how much protein you eat daily, affect your bodyfat composition, but also, how often eating hinders, or works with your lifestyle. If you’re really busy and can only fit in three meals a day, then the six times a day protocol won’t work for you.

When I was thinking about doing a bikini competition, I tried eating six times a day, but eating such small portions made me feel deprived, and eating right before bed was annoying. So, then I tried eating three large meals, three times a day, but I didn’t like how stuffed I felt, and I didn’t like waiting to eat so long between meals. I’ve found what helped me lose the excess weight, and prevents me from overeating, is eating four small meals a day, plus grabbing a handful of nuts as a snack an hour after dinner.

Try eating more, or less often, at certain times, and with different portions of lean proteins, whole food carbs from vegetables and grains, and healthy fats, to find out what works best for you.

Photo: me eating a banana muffin I made. You can find my recipes for over 40 healthy treats, Slimming Dairy-Free Smoothies and Desserts, for $14.95 on my website at TheHighFiveDiet

Sugar-Free Candy-Crunch, Dairy-Free Milkshake

sugar-free, high-protein, dairy-free milkshake.jpgThis lower-carb, low-calorie, high-protein shake, tastes like a decadent dessert, but it’s actually good for you. I use this as my pre-workout fuel, but it’s a great nutritious snack too. To turn it into a mini-meal, use 1 frozen banana instead of half a banana, which only adds an additional 50 calories and 15 grams of healthy whole-food carbohydrates.

Sugar-Free, Candy-Crunch, Dairy-Free Milkshake

  • 2 dried figs, chopped (don’t omit, it’s what makes it sweet and unique)
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • splash of cold filtered coffee
  • ¼ cup collagen protein powder (I use Great Lakes)
  • 5 grams creatine monohydrate (optional)
  • ½ banana, frozen, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼- 1/3 cup ice

Add all ingredients, except for the banana and ice, and blend for 30 seconds. Add banana and ice, and blend for 10 seconds. Mix with spoon. Blend for another 10 seconds to fully incorporate all ingredients. That’s it! You can eat this with a spoon, or sip it.

Nutritional information:    Calories: 255     Carbs: 30    Protein: 20 grams



Before dieting, do this


If you’ve spoken to a smoker about quitting, they know they need to stop smoking because of its hazardous effects on their health. They may stop and then start again, or they may say they will stop smoking tomorrow, and never do; or, they’ll keep pushing the date further and further into the future, because of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, or a friend’s wedding is coming up…because holidays are stressful events. You can apply this same behavior and mindset to people who want and need to lose weight. Yes, it’s hard. Breaking bad habits are difficult. Stressful, or even fun events make change more challenging, so I came up with a to-do list before someone embarks on their weight loss journey to make the process an easier transition, with a much higher likeliness of success.

  1. Sign up for blog posts on weight loss (yes, like mine here!), that deliver helpful information at least once a week. You don’t need to follow any of the advice, just read the articles.
  2. Buy at least one book on weight loss and read a little bit each day. You don’t have to follow any of the tips yet, just read it. Just reading about how to lose weight, typically gets people motivated to make changes. (You can find my diet book, The High-Five Diet, on Amazon for $14.95).
  3. Exercise daily. Ideally, you would do some sort of cardiovascular activity like walking for 30-60 minutes 3-4 days a week, work on flexibility, such as a yoga at least once a week; and weight train 2-3 days a week, to start. For many people, just the act of exercising make them more motivated to make better food choices.
  4. Pick a date that you’d like to start changing your eating habits, and circle it on your calendar. Put bi-monthly reminders on your phone or computer that reads: “Starting healthy eating habits today!” This will remind you that good changes are coming.
  5. Buy cookbooks that are designed for healthy eating, with the calories listed. (You can check out my cookbooks on Amazon: The High-Five Diet, and Slimming Dairy-Free Smoothies & Desserts). Each meal should contain no more than 500 calories. Look through the cookbooks, and flag the ones you want to make when you start your diet.
  6. Tell everyone you know, the exact day you’re starting your diet, and that you’d like them to support you in your efforts.
  7. Buy clothes that are attractive that fit your current body. There’s no reason to wait until you lose weight to look and feel good about yourself right now.
  8. Anytime a negative thought about your past weight loss failures comes to mind, like “you’ve done diet programs before; they don’t work,” or “you’ll never lose weight,” or “you’ll lose it, but you’ll gain it back and be even fatter,” stop. Remind yourself that you are strong. Other people have lost weight so you can too. This time is different because you’re dedicated and you’re trying a new method (such as the steps outlined here). Being positive has a profound effect on your results, so assume you will succeed.
  9. Ask a fit person over 30, who cares about the food choices they eat, how they refrain from giving in to cravings. Remember that everyone can be overweight if they eat too much, and most people like to give advice, and will be honored that you asked for their opinion. You’ll find that everyone has trouble saying no to treats and overeats from time-to-time.
  10. Search out restaurants and food prep companies for healthy options that you can go to when you start your diet so you have that information ready when the time comes to start your new diet program.

I acknowledge that this list is quite long, but, be assured that you can take your time. It’s okay to pick a date to start your diet, six months or even a year from now, but it’s really important to pick a date, and stick to it. Know that you’ll slip up, but dieting, or transitioning to healthier eating, which I prefer, is something that is an ever-changing work-in-process. I started my weight loss by cutting out Top Ramen noodles and Jimmy Dean sausages; I could never have eaten as clean as I do today, back then. The trick is to keep trying, never give up, and be as consistent as you can.

Photo: Yep, that’s me. Making healthier food choices was not easy for me, but having fruit ready to grab, and not having candy in the house, made a big difference in how I felt.


The latest study on hydration to ignore

_l5a1234_lightroom_export_full_size_jpeg_300dpi_srgbA small study from Scotland’s St. Andrew’s University of 72 fasted males, theorized that that milk is more hydrating than water because milk contains fat, lactose (milk sugar), salt, and a little bit of protein (1). Those same macronutrients, fat, protein, and carbs, are what helps fill us up, which is why it’s recommended that all three are included in each and every meal, so we don’t try to satisfy our hunger cravings with snacks like crackers and pretzels. Stay away from animal milk; it’s full of hormones; milk’s goal is to fatten up the animal’s baby.

One thing to note about this study is that the men were fasting, so, of course they would feel fuller and had more fluid retention, if they had a drink with calories and salt, versus water. Sodium is an essential nutrient, which means, we cannot live without it. Without adequate salt intake, while simultaneously consuming too much water, called hyponatremia, runners are susceptible to “…seizures, coma, and even death. (2)”

The bottom line is that, if you’re thirsty, drink water, and don’t limit salt too much. Eat a small meal prior to exercising, I prefer a banana smoothie with almond milk and vegan protein powder, which provides hydration, nutrients and potassium (from the banana). Keep drinking filtered water, and limit anything with sugar and chemicals, like sodas and unnatural colors (that’s a sure sign you’re drinking chemicals).

photo: me drinking water



The difference between thin & fit

so, you think you're healthy.PNG

The appearance of a slender woman in a tight black dress is a vision of fitness, but, in reality, she may just be thin and weak. A man with a 6-pack is usually just an indication of low bodyfat (he may be a weakling with nice looking abs). Being slim and strong have absolutely no correlation with each other. If you want to slim down, you’ll need to eat fewer calories, preferably by cutting out junk food and eating a lot more vegetables, and you’ll probably need to do at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to get that weight down to where you want it.

If you want to be fit, you’ll want to find productive ways to deal with stress, sleep, on average, 7-8 hours nightly; keep alcohol to a minimum; avoid non-prescription drugs; don’t smoke anything; cut out most processed foods; eat a majority of foods from vegetables, beans, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, and seeds (in that order); maintain a healthy bodyfat percentage for your age and gender; do weight bearing exercises at least twice a week, plus add 30 minutes of exercise another five days each week. You’ll also want to practice 5-10 minutes of stretching and mobility exercises on a daily basis.

Being fit takes more work, than just being thin, but it’s more rewarding in that you’ll be healthier, have less aches and pains, look more attractive, and have a lot more energy.

Photo: If you smoke cigarettes, you can’t do push ups, or get off the floor with ease, you’re not fit.

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