Is Your Family Office Built for the Future?

by Josh Baron and Rob Lachenauer

Two years after their father died, Paul and Hank knew the time had come when they should break-up their family office. At their father’s insistence, the family’s substantial financial assets had been invested together. As their father’s business was the source of the family wealth, the brothers felt an obligation to build a single-family office together. But investing decisions soon became a source of conflict. Decision-making authority was murky; each brother lacked transparency into what the other brother was investing in and why. How aggressive to be on tax strategies became a matter of great disharmony.

Seeing the discord, the brothers’ siblings, spouses, and children tried to steer clear of the family office completely. Their father’s well-intentioned goal of keeping the family close after his death ended up backfiring. The family office was disbanded, and the brothers and the entire extended family drifted apart.

Family offices can provide a number of benefits, including privacy, customization, and having your own team to handle a wide range of services, such as guiding family philanthropy, managing shared properties or even managing household help. Successful principals in hedge funds, private equity, real estate, and tech entrepreneurs, and even family businesses owners selling their firms, have created an explosion in the number of family offices. A 2019 study by Campden Research put the number of family offices at 7,300 (up 38% from two years prior), managing a total of almost six trillion dollars. What was once the province of a select few, like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, has become central to the investment world. Both Single-Family Offices (SFOs) and Multi-Family Offices (MFOs) have been created to meet the investment and support needs of an ever-growing number of families.

Building a Resilient Family Business

Most of these family offices are in their relative infancy. A global survey by UBS and Campden Wealth showed that 68% were founded in 2000 or later, with 35% starting since 2010. That means most family offices are navigating or approaching a critical generational transition for the first time.

Without further attention to the challenges these transitions will bring, we are skeptical of how long many single-family offices will endure. As we’ve advised leading family enterprises over the past 15 years on how to create long-term success, we’ve seen that family offices are even harder to sustain than family businesses. The forces that hold a family business together are not always present in family offices. But that doesn’t mean they’re doomed to failure. Here’s what you need to know to build and sustain your family office so it will last.

The Built-In Tensions of Family Offices

Family offices are often established in a wave of enthusiasm. An individual or family has been successful enough to generate an excess of $100 million in wealth (a rough guideline for assets under management that justify the expenses of a single family office) and the family chooses to invest that together through a family office. But family offices face some unique built-in tensions that family businesses don’t that leave them vulnerable in the long-term:

Lack of an emotional connection

As family business advisors, we have seen first-hand how difficult it is to keep families united when owning shared assets. A necessary condition for business families to stay together is for the owners to have a shared purpose beyond financial performance. Family offices often start in an emotional-connection deficit. We’ve heard clients express the difficulty this way: “Dad sold our family’s purpose when he sold our family business.”

Protection versus agency

Ask most founders “why did you establish your family office?” and they will say something akin to “to preserve our family’s wealth and protect our children from the destructive power of that wealth.” This protective response is reasonable, yet in the process it can undermine long-term viability. If a family office ends up handling everything from investing money to making travel reservations for family members, this can unintentionally create an infantilizing environment for the next generation. They may start to resent the role of the family office in their lives and choose to close it to recover their autonomy.

Credible alternatives

Families have ready-made alternatives to keeping their wealth combined in a single-family office. Family members can move their assets to a multi-family office (MFO), such as Bessemer Trust or BBH, which have decades of successful service to such families. Not only do they invest your money (for a fee), but they also have excellent estate planners and family governance experts. Or you can out-source many of the tasks of a single-family office to a wealth manager, such as JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs. If your family doesn’t want to keep its assets together, you can each select different providers and go your separate ways.

So, while most single-family offices are set up with good intentions of continuing to keep the family (and its wealth) close, the centrifugal forces of diverging interests may tear them apart over time. But the family office doesn’t have to suffer that fate, if the owners are prepared to make a few key decisions together to set it up for long-term success.

The Key Decisions Family Offices Need to Make

As we’ve advised leading family enterprises, we’ve seen that the power that comes with ownership can make or break a family enterprise. The owners of an enterprise have the right to make decisions in five key areas (we refer to them as the 5 Rights of Owners) that no one else can without their permission. How the owners of a family office make these choices will shape long-term success of both the office and the family. Here are the key questions to consider:

Design: How will you own your assets together?

When establishing a family office, the opening proposition is often that by staying together, families can achieve scale and efficiencies in investments and services. But get under the hood of great family offices and you find that the family owners don’t require such a uniform approach. Family offices that endure offer a world of trade-offs, value flexibility, and build in the right to exit. Designing an all-or-nothing-office risks nothing being together in the next generation.

That’s because as families grow across generations, the interests of individuals will diverge — what investments to own, services to receive, and charities to support, etc. As you design your family office, it’s important to consider how much flexibility to build in. We see many successful family offices operate what we call a “federal system” in which all family owners use some investments and a few core services, such as tax and estate planning, while people can opt in or out of the rest of what the office offers.

Another key design choice is whether to allow family members the right to exit their family office. This right can be difficult to design because, at least in the U.S., most family office assets are owned in trust structures. Like being able to see the exit sign in a crowded theater, an exit policy enhances a feeling of psychological autonomy — I can leave if I want to. Moreover, knowing family members have an exit right, family office management and board will likely be more responsive to their needs.

Decide: How will you structure governance?

Family owners have the right to determine how decisions are made in their family office. When family offices are established, often one (or a few) founders become the decision makers on all matters. As offices mature, having no clear decision governance beyond the founders’ statement of intent can be a recipe for disaster, as Paul and Hank in our example above found. To avoid this fate, family owners should decide how decisions will be made in their family office. For example: What decisions will the family owners reserve for themselves? What decisions will they delegate to a board or management? Will they make investment decisions themselves or hire an investment team or outside firm to do so? How and when will they involve their next generation in making decisions? What processes and policies will the family establish to unify the family?

One helpful framework is what we call the Four-Room Model, in which the work of a family enterprise is distributed in four metaphorical “rooms” (an owner room, a board room, a management room, and a family room). Each “room” has distinct decisions to make, expertise to bring to bear, and explicitly set up structures, policies, and processes to guide their work. Decision policies, structures, and processes may not sound as sexy, but they’re key to long-term success. They also provide family members pathways to positively engage in important decisions, rather than being passive beneficiaries. With the right standards and development, some family members can even find rewarding careers in their family office.

Value: How will you define success for your family office?

Paul and Hank approached their investment portfolio as a purely financial task, which will rarely bring family members closer together. In fact, pure financial investments are easy to outsource. Lasting family offices design a portfolio of assets, services, and charitable giving that, collectively, mirror what the family values.

Family offices that are built to last design both financially sophisticated portfolios and emotionally relevant ones. Beyond hiring top investment managers and investing in leading funds, they find investments that are meaningful to their family. Return on investment is not the only important measure of success. There’s a reason so many sports teams are owned by families. Some family offices are leaders in impact investing. Family offices that co-invest in entrepreneurial efforts of next generation family members are becoming more common. Family wealth does not need to be defined solely in financial terms. It can be broadly defined as professional, social, and relational as well.

Inform: What will — and won’t — you communicate with your family?

Privacy is one of the great benefits of a family office, as you have the right to keep information contained to a small circle, namely the family owners. Family owners, however, face a core dilemma as to what information to share with the next generation and when. Worrying about the destructive power of knowledge of their wealth on the next generation, families face the balance between waiting to share and eventually “dropping the bomb” and by sharing too much information too early and causing the next generation to “lose their spark.”

We’ve seen two practices that manage this dilemma well:

  • Share beyond spreadsheets. We’ve seen families in which the next generation learns about their family’s wealth in the opulent Wall Street offices of their wealth manager, with white-gloved waiters serving coffee. Wealth managers explained in spreadsheet after spreadsheet about how the family’s assets were allocated across their mind-bendingly complex set of trusts. The unstated message was: “This is what was set up for you. Don’t break it.” That does not inspire the next generation to understand and connect with their wealth. By contrast, we know a family office which owns a minor league sports club and invites their next generation to attend games, work in the concession stands, and interact with the players. While the team is not their best financial return, they emphasize that they own things with meaning, with people, with connections.
  • Create an “ages and stages” discussion plan. Top family offices plan thoughtfully about what to share with their next generation and when. For example, one family office we know reveals very little about the financials of the family until family members turn 30. Then they start revealing more and more each year until family members reach 35, when the entire picture of the family’s wealth is shared.

Transfer: How will you handle the transition to the next generation?

Family owners in all enterprises must decide on how to transfer ownership to the next generation, including the assets, roles, and capabilities. Family offices face special transfer issues.

The assets a family office oversees should be in service of its purpose and goals. It’s wise to assume that the purpose and goals of a family office will change across a generational transition. We have seen many of our clients have thoughtful discussions of the purpose of the current generation and then ask the next generation how they see the purpose and goals for their generation, without judgment. The assets owned should eventually reflect the engagement of the new generation.

A generational transition is often a good time to reassess overall governance including how to engage the next generation in the family office. Many family offices opt to hire a professional CEO, but there are important roles for family members, too. For example, you can build a family board to oversee the CEO. Having a blueprint of your governance structure will clarify what capabilities will be necessary to build in the next generation.

One of the biggest questions families with investable wealth face is how much to transfer to the next generation. Rather than picking a number out of thin air, start by setting goals for it. Wealth can be used for spending, investing, giving, and collaborating. Think through what outcomes you want to achieve and avoid across each of these areas. And then align your approaches to sharing wealth with those desired outcomes.

Will your family office beat the odds and last for the long-term?  It depends on how well you address these five critical topics.

7 Heart Healthy Foods for Longevity – Part 3

In my last post we followed up on 7 heart healthy foods that promote longevity, which will be further discussed below.

#5 Dark Chocolate (But ONLY in moderation!!)

Research has shown that the indulgent of dark chocolate leads to more than 40 distinct nutrition benefits which includes longevity. Dark chocolate, which is an excellent source of antioxidants, is made from the seed of the cocoa tree. It is most effective when cocoa or chocolate is eaten when it is raw (cacao) because when your cocoa is close to or in its natural raw state, they contain the highest nutritional value. In fact, Cacao is one of the most beneficial foods that helps to facilitate a healthy heart and brain. Moreover, cacao aids in lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and its healthy fats are actually beneficial for your body compared to animal-based saturated fats.

In a 2007 paper found in Journal of Nutrition, dark chocolate is loaded with a group of antioxidants called flavonoids which have been proven to help avoid higher risks of cardiovascular disease. It also added that eating quality dark chocolate containing a high cocoa content is more beneficial, especially when there is 70% cocoa or more. Both raw cacao and cocoa are wonderful heart-healthy foods which enhance hormones, circulation and even your digestion.

Basically, if you want to reward yourself with a sweet snack and maintain your health at the same time, dark chocolate may in fact be the best choice due to the various health benefits it offers. But, bear in mind that it is also rich in fat. Apart from keeping track of your fat intake, you may also opt for raw cacao powder or organic cocoa powder. Regular consumption of dark chocolate helps to break down bacteria and ferment its components into anti-inflammatory compounds which will benefit your overall health in the long run. Dark chocolate also helps to prevent blood clots from forming and can improve blood circulation. Dark chocolate also acts as a mood booster as it contains some chemical compounds which exert a positive effect on your mind. It contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which allows your brain to release endorphins. So, consuming dark chocolate will help to brighten up your mood and makes you feel happier! A 1999 Harvard survey which consists of 8000 men has revealed that those who ate dark chocolate at least 3 times per month were able to live an extra year compared to those who didn’t.

# 6 Salmon

Salmon happens to be one of my personal favorites and something I enjoy several times per week!

There are several beneficial health reasons to indulge in salmon other than its delicious taste. Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse that is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Omega-3s have been proven to be able to lower the risk of inflammation and decrease triglyceride levels, both of which are linked to higher risk of heart disease. Evidence has shown that omega-3s helps to lower dementia risk as well as cognitive decline, keeping the brain healthy.

Not only that, but feeding preschool children with salmon helps to prevent the risk of ADHD symptoms and can enhance their academic performance as the nutrition in salmon causes children to remember and focus better. Researchers mentioned that the omega3-fats in salmon may stimulate reduction in weight and significantly decrease belly fat in obese individuals. While most fatty fish are packed with omega-3s, salmon is a specifically nutritious dietary choice as it contains minimal mercury which is a potentially toxic contaminant compared to other fish such as tuna, swordfish and mackerel.

With so much emphasis on the omega-3 advantages in salmon, other health benefits of salmon may have been overlooked. Another benefit of salmon is linked to the amino acids and protein present in salmon. A few researchers have discovered that there are protein molecules called bioactive peptides found in salmon which can control inflammation in the digestive system, improve insulin efficiency, and provide treatment for better joint and cartilage recovery. Bioactive peptides generated from food proteins have great potential as functional foods and nutraceuticals. Bioactive peptides possess several significant functions, such as antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial, immuno modulatory, and antihypertensive effects in the living body. Last but not least…

7 Apples

Yes, it’s true…an apple a day actually Can Keep the doctor away! A group of research studies indicates that apples may be one of the world’s healthiest fruits for you to include in your longevity diet plan. As they are the most commonly consumed fruit, people tend to overlook their impressive health benefits. In fact, in a featured article regarding the top 10 healthy foods in Medical News Today, apples were ranked first among the others. The old saying which we are all familiar with still stands true as an apple a day may be the ultimate food to promote longevity due to several health benefits it offers.

Firstly, apples are rich in vitamin C, fiber, various antioxidants and folate to fight against Alzheimer’s. Moreover, they contain polyphenols which function as oxidants and are mainly concentrated in the peel. So, to achieve the greatest benefits, it is best to eat the apple’s skin.These polyphenols contain flavonoids known as quercetin which also helps to lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that high flavonoid intake have led to a 20% reduction in risk of stroke. Researchers agreed that consuming apples that are rich in flavonols could also decrease the risk of getting pancreatic cancer by 23 percent.

According to research by the Flores Group, regular apple consumption has been proven to provide cardiovascular benefits due to the fiber which they contain as well as the high contents of polyphenols found in apples. Flores also mentioned that the antioxidant level in apples has the highest rank compared to other fruits which help to prevent the risk of developing cancer, specifically lung cancer. Another study analyzes the comparison between the impacts of consuming an apple a day and statins which are a group of drugs taken to lower cholesterol level. It is estimated that apples are almost as effective as statins in minimizing death.

Good dietary choices play an essential role in determining how different our lives will be throughout the years. While no single food is a cure-all, consuming a combination of various healthy foods are capable of fending off diseases and enhance your overall health. Incorporating those heart healthy foods discussed above in your dietary plan will definitely benefit you in the long run. You are just a decision away from an absolutely better life, longevity and greater health awaits you!

7 Heart Healthy Foods for Longevity – Part 2

In my last post we started to talk about 7 heart healthy foods that promote longevity, which will be further discussed below.

# 3 Walnuts, nuts and other seeds

Supplementing your longevity diet plan with essential boosting nutrients such as nuts and seeds is of paramount importance for good health. They are a wonderful source of dietary fiber required in order to stay healthy. In recent studies, researchers have found that the consumption of walnuts as a whole including the skin helps in imparting a multitude of nutritional benefits. You have the option to consume it either as a whole or as nut and seed butters, enjoying at least 1-3 ounces each day.

Raw nuts are a great source of healthy fats which you would want to consume more the moment you remove non-vegetable carbs from your diet. They contain sufficient minerals and vitamins which makes a great snack when energy starts to flag. These heart healthy foods can also be added to different recipes to enhance flavor as well as adding extra nutrients. First of all, they contain mostly unsaturated fats which are heart healthy. They help to lower inflammation in every part of the body, specifically the blood and heart.

Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which helps to ensure the brain is functioning well, improves heart health as well as achieve optimum or desired weight.  A recent scientific study states that a shortage of omega-3 fatty acids, which is provided by walnuts, can result in hyperactivity, tantrums and irritability in kids. Adding walnuts to a child’s diet helps to resolve the EFAs deficit and can brighten up their mood. It can even be applied to adults who are suffering from stress and depression. Some other sources of omega-3 fats include seeds, flax and hemp seeds.

Other nuts such as almonds and cashews are good sources of iron and magnesium which can improve your healthy metabolism and ward off high insulin levels and fatigue. Aside from having high fat content, seeds and nuts can help in regulating metabolism and avoid unhealthy foods cravings. However, all nuts are not the same as some may deliver higher amounts of healthy fats, and varying levels of proteins and carbs.

Based on a recent 30-year study, it was found that people who consumed at least one ounce of nuts 7 times a week were 20 percent more likely to live longer in comparison to those who did not include nuts in their diet. Eating nuts for not less than 5 times per week will result in an overall reduction in mortality risk caused by heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases.

# 4 Leafy Greens and Vegetables

Green foods are heart-healthy foods and should be the key cornerstone of every plan for optimal health. They’re loaded with sufficient vitamins, protein, minerals and are known as the most alkaline foods that can be found throughout the year. Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach are few of the best to consume because they’re rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, chlorophyll and irons.

Along with B6 vitamins, Vitamins A and C are also found in leafy green vegetables. Kale provides high vitamin K content for bone-building, which is necessary to stay active all year round.  Leafy greens are also proven to be the best anti- cancer foods which play important roles in blocking the early phase of cancer and can even reverse the outcome of some major health problems. They are packed with an abundance of carotenoids, antioxidants and some other compounds which are proven to increase your protection against diseases. The antioxidants act as an agent in safeguarding the heart against cardiovascular disease and even help prevent some birth defects among pregnant women.

Moreover, the vitamins found in leafy green vegetables helps to reduce homocysteine levels which lowers the risk of heart disease. One of the most attractive benefits of dark leafy greens is that they contain low levels of calories, carbohydrates and glycemic index factors. These characteristics allow them to facilitate maintaining and achieving the optimum healthy body weight. Including more green vegetables in a balanced diet also causes an increase in dietary fiber intake which helps to regulate the digestive system, achieving bowel health as well as weight management.

Researchers have discovered that a gene known as T-bet, or TBX21, respond particularly to leafy greens. TBX21 (T-Box Transcription Factor 21) is a Protein Coding gene. Diseases associated with TBX21 include Asthma, Nasal Polyps, And Aspirin Intolerance and Immunodeficiency 88. These immune cells are vital for the production of immune cells present in your gut, responsible in handling inflammatory diseases and can even reduce the risk of bowel cancer. People who do not eat three or more servings of dark leafy greens per day are missing out on major health advantages!

Vegetables belong to a diverse food group with a wide variety to select from and plenty to match everyone’s tastes and preferences. The easiest and most effective ways to increase vegetable intake is by juicing your vegetables with sprouted beans. This is because juicing makes it easily digestible and allows your body to absorb every nutrient present in the vegetables where some micro nutrients may be lost during cooking. Based on a featured article, middle-aged people who eat a cup of cooked greens each day are able to live longer than those who didn’t add leafy greens in their meals

7 Heart Healthy Foods for Longevity – Part 1

Do you wish to live a long, healthy life? We are all aware that we can’t live forever but we can take good care of our health by nurturing our bodies the best ways possible which will naturally help us extend our lives.

According to researches, experts have identified people who tend to live longer and healthier lives are consistent in eating meals that help to nourish the body for maximum health. In other words, they only consume foods that are beneficial to the body and avoid foods that are processed, packaged or those that contain additives.

Though there are chances that genetics may predispose us to many kinds of diseases, we still have control over our health and dietary choices. Although there are no guarantees about how our health might be when we age or how long we’re going to live, there are effective steps that could be taken to live a healthier and more enjoyable life. There are 7 heart healthy foods that promote longevity which will be discussed below.

#1 – Blueberries

Blueberries have been described as “super-fruits” as they are capable of blocking as well as reversing most of the aging consequences. They are incredible anti-aging food that keeps the brain healthy by boosting mental health. The dark hues present in berries shows their high antioxidant content, which ward off free radicals that lead to aging and stop new cells from growing in order to stay healthy.

Besides being a powerhouse sources of antioxidants which delivers multiple benefits, blueberries also possess the ability to bring positive impacts to multiple aging processes. Recent studies have shown that blueberry extracts can signifcantly increase life span. Blueberries also deliver maximum nutrition for minimum calories. With regular consumption, belly fat could also be reduced.

In comparison to other fruits, blueberries contain less sugar so it is less likely to affect your insulin levels, making them a great option for a fast guiltless snack. As they are low-glycemic fruits, they help to keep your insulin levels balanced as well as keep you focused. These fruits are also packed with fiber which keeps your digestion on track, maintain your cholesterol levels, and develop a healthy weight necessary for optimal longevity.

Berries of all kinds are healthy which contain concentrated amounts of phyto chemicals which help to fight heart disease, DNA damage, metabolic syndrome and even cancer. As a result, blood vessels will be more flexible which can help avoid the risks of developing a heart disease. Rather than the whole fruit, it’s the particular flavanoid components of blueberries which deliver so many healthy benefits. These compounds are able to enhance high blood pressure, decrease cardiovascular risk factors as well as enable the brain to function well even after stroke.

Recent studies have proven that blueberries help to prevent brain deterioration as well as protect memory-associated regions of the brain from possible oxidant and inflammatory damages.

Blueberries are becoming a critical element of a science-based longevity program due to their richness in anthocyanins and pterostilbenes. Researches have discovered new data showing that blueberries are capable of delaying aging and can lead to longevity.

#2 – Avocados

People do not consume avocados mainly because of their unique taste, but also because of their impressive heart health benefits. Avocados represent one of the most nutrient-dense foods which provide health-boosting nutrients such as protein, magnesium, vitamin E, B6 vitamins and folic acid. Besides, they are a good source of anti-inflammatory fats that minimizes aging in the body.

According to a dietitian in Washington, avocados are rich in mono- and poly unsaturated fats which enable energy to be generated easily. Consequently, blood cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease can be minimized. This fruit does not only help to reduce bad cholesterol, but also boost levels of good cholesterol. As stated in Reader’s Digest, the high contents of monounsaturated fats can help restrain insulin resistance which aid in regulating blood sugar levels. Among all the fruits, the low carb and sugar levels present in avocado helps to better maintain blood sugar. Apart from that, the high levels of potassium present in avocados help to keep blood pressure under control.

As avocados are a water-packed source of fat, they are easily digested and absorbed into the body compared to processed or animal-based fats. The consumption of avocados is most effective when they are ripe as it is where their nutrients have entirely developed and are best tolerated. Avocado acts as a great multi-purpose food to satisfy cravings and can even be used as a fat replacement when it comes to baking. It can also be used to substitute some of your favorite dairy dishes. Other than that, it can also be added to soups, dessert whips, as well as other recipes.

Research has shown that avocado consumption leads to multiple positive health effects which include better weight management and appetite booster. The publication of a Nutrition Journal based on a 7 year analysis in 2013 discovered that avocados are linked to a minimized risk of metabolic syndrome where a variety of symptoms are shown which may increase the likelihood of stroke, cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes. It also enables better absorption of other nutrients into the body.

Other than that, researchers have also revealed that avocados help to optimize cholesterol levels within as little as one week, and contain compounds that restrain and destroy oral cancer cells and enables protection against liver destruction. However, even though consumption of avocados provides many health benefits, the main risk of this fruit is over consumption which may cause weight gain due to the fat content. It may also resort to nutritional deficiencies as fat takes a longer time to digest, which keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time compared to other nutrients.

5 Reasons to Start Living Plant Based

As our society evolves, we are constantly facing the need to change our behaviors and habits to increase our health and quality of life. We are now facing climate change, food insecurity and over 40% of our population is suffering from chronic disease.

One of the recent ideas put forward to improve our world and health is the plant-based nutrition.

Even though food regiments are not something our doctor prescribes (yet), research is showing that food has a lot to contribute to our health. It is also a less costly option to our society than prescribe medication. Our understanding of plant-based eating may differ from one individual to another. In the world of nutrition, plant-based eating is having a large portion of one’s nutrition coming from vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, whole grains and also include legumes or other plants.

A spectrum of plant-based nutrition options is available to you!

Some are very strict (vegan diet), others are still adding animal products like dairy (vegetarian) and at the other end of the spectrum are those that still eat meat, poultry and fish on an occasional basis.

We once believed that early humans consumed a large proportion of animal protein in their diet. It is from that belief that, in the 2000s, the Paleo diet (mainly comprised of animal protein) became really popular in the world of nutrition and diet.

Although, we now know that the nutrition of bipedal primates and Homo sapiens was primarily composed of nuts, fruits, leaves, roots, seeds and water. In that case, the “original” Paleo Diet was in fact plant-based eating.

It is also linked to the fact that some of the strongest animals on Earth are not carnivores. The strongest mammal is the gorilla (most are herbivores). It has the ability to lift around 4400 lbs, that is 10 times its body weight. It would be like a 200 lb individual lifting 2000 lb.

If other mammals can live a healthy and strong life on a plant-based nutrition, we probably can too.
Whether you want to save the animals, become healthier or simply feel better, the plant-based nutrition is a great option for those of us who want to be a better and healthier person.

Choosing a plant-based nutrition doesn’t have to be a complex commitment. Not convinced yet? Here’s the 5 reasons to start eating plant-based nutrition now:

Improve your health

In addition, an increase consumption of vegetables, grains and beans will bring more fiber into your nutrition. It is recommended to consume from 25 g (women) to 38 g (men) of fiber on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we consume an average of 15 g daily. That is not enough for most of us and can have a negative impact on the bowels and cause constipation or hemorrhoids.

According to research, an increase intake in fiber can also help prevent and reduce heart diseases, diabetes, and colon cancer. Fiber is also known to reduce the blood cholesterol levels.For most Americans, the average daily intake of protein is recommended at 46 g (women) and 56 g (men). One cup of shredded cheese is about 26 g of protein and a 1 cup of diced chicken is 38 g of protein.
That means that if you eat cottage cheese for breakfast with a glass of milk, an egg sandwich for lunch, and a ribeye steak for dinner, you are probably looking at double the amount of protein recommend for daily intake.

You can now understand why the average American eat around 100 g of protein per day. Our society seems to be eating too much protein, which can cause issues with the bowels or digestion. It is true that some individuals need more protein than others but in general, our protein rich nutrition is overindulgence. A plant-based nutrition can help us meet our health goal without going above the daily intake recommendation.

It was once believed that you needed to add animal protein in your meals to increase muscle mass. Some
studies and athletes have demonstrated that it is possible to increase muscles and be fit with a plant-based nutrition. For example, one of the best runners of all time and American ultra marathoner, Scott Jurek is known to be a plant-based eater! While thousands of research demonstrate the health benefit of consuming vegetables as a way to prevent illness, many still refuse to change their nutrition to increase our quality of life. Too many people believe that exercising, medication and supplements are sufficient to maintain health. Meanwhile, experts in the field of health and wellness say that weight management is 75–80% nutrition and 20–25% exercise. By the way, if you have not seen the Netflix special, The Game Changers, you need to!

According to some research plant-based eaters showed fewer signs of depression and mental illness than omnivores. There is much more research to be done and certainly some aspects to consider (like sugar intake) but these researches are very promising. The best way to know is to try it and see how you feel.

Weight loss and weight management

Plant-based eating means that you have a large proportion of your meal that comes from plant-based food. That said, fruits and vegetables are often the number one thing that comes to mind when we think of a plant-based nutrition. According to some studies, only 15% of our population is able to meet the minimum requirement of daily recommendation for fruits and even less (10%) for vegetables.

Experts in nutrition all across the world agree that the insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables contribute to the obesity epidemic and chronic disease related to poor nutrition, especially in our country. While exercising is important, nutrition is probably the number one reason why we have so much obesity in our nation. In general, individuals who are on a plant-based nutrition tend to consume fewer calories than individuals who consume animal protein. Since most of their calories are coming from healthier options and fewer calories per weight. Plant-based eaters tend to eat less process food and avoid meat focused restaurants like fast-food chain that provide unhealthy meal options.
In addition, studies indicate that individuals who had a plant-based nutrition with reduce sodium consumption (2300-1500 mg a day) showed a reduction in blood pressure and increased weight loss. That said, it is important to understand that plant-based food doesn’t always mean healthy food. Sugar is the other plant-based food to beware of.

Prevent or manage a chronic disease

As you will see in the next section, research demonstrates that individuals on a plant-based nutrition can prevent chronic disease, reduce obesity and mostly encourage a healthy and quality of life.
A report published by the World Health Organization recommended that a daily intake of 400 g of fruits and vegetables would contribute to preventing chronic diseases which include diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. To put this in perspective, 1 tomato is approximately 75 g while a medium size potato is about 150 grams. For fruits, a medium apple is about 150 g and a small kiwi is around 75 g.

Stop spending on supplements

Did you know that our nation’s population spends more than $30 billion a year on supplements? What if you didn’t need to waste that money? With a plant-based nutrition, you are more likely to receive all the nutrients you need from natural sources like legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Not only does this save you money, it also saves you from trying to remember to purchase and consume supplements.

While thousands of research demonstrate the health benefit of consuming vegetables as a way to prevent illness, many still refuse to change their nutrition to increase our quality of life. Too many people believe that exercising, medication and supplements are sufficient to maintain health. Meanwhile, experts in the field of health and wellness say that weight management is 75–80% nutrition and 20–25% exercise.

Save our planet

Agriculture use approximately 70% of our fresh water (globally on average). The production of meat requires around 1000% more water (1 kg requires from 5000 to 20,000 liters of water) than some grains like wheat (1 kg of wheat requires between 500 and 4000 liters of water). In addition, a lot of the grain is cultivated to feed the animals we eat and if we started eating that grain and reduce our consumption meat, less water and resources would be used to produce animal food.

In conclusion, Plant-based eating is for everyone, the main idea is not to “diet” or remove something from your nutrition but more about adding more vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.
Now it’s time to put your learning into action, pick a day when you will start your plant-based nutrition, select your meals (find recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes) and make a grocery list, go shopping (get your grocery items) and implement the change! Plant-based eating is not a diet but a more a way of living. Make it simple and have fun with it!

13 Ways to Stop Doomscrolling & Protect Your Mental Health

It’s not uncommon to continuously scroll through social media or the web and read bad news that gets you instantly hooked. However, this practice has gained new popularity during the recent pandemic and even a new nickname, “doomscrolling”. Worldwide, there has been a 35% increase in people watching news media and a 23% increase in people participating in social media use[3].

Doomscrolling is defined as the activity of spending a lot of time looking at your phone or computer and purposefully reading bad or negative news stories[2]. The new phrase has picked up traction in today’s culture as experts are continuing to discover the impact that it has on mental and physical health.

The past few years have been filled with great uncertainty; COVID-19, vaccines, racial justice, international relations, politics, climate change, and the health of loved ones. There have been countless unanswered questions in almost every area of life[4]. With these unknowns comes a natural desire to resolve the uncertainty, therefore seeking information.

There is a healthy side to this information-seeking that helps with learning what precautions are needed during this time of elevated threat. Yet there is also an unhealthy side that can cause feelings of being constantly on edge and worry about missing critical pieces of information that will increase safety.

Of course, there is no one magic piece of information, news story, or Facebook post. Instead, we have to learn to tolerate uncertainty. This can be difficult and sometimes overwhelming since the brain is hardwired to survive and see surroundings that can potentially cause harm.

For those that already suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder or other anxiety-related disorders, this innate part of human nature can increase the likelihood of developing a “doomscrolling” habit. As these disorders get worse, the need to control the situation around them increases. This want for control actually creates more fear and anxiety.

To read this full article, please follow this link!

This Challenge Just Might Save You!

Welcome back! If you have been following me or read any of my posts you must be bored! Or did you notice that I took some time off? The real question is why? Because I challenged myself to take some time off and focus on the things that were important to me.

As a result, I have this challenge for you! It just may save your life, your career, your marriage/relationship, and more! Are you ready?

STOP! Take a break and slow down! My challenge is simple and as follows;

Tell your family and friends you are taking a 24 hour break, then turn everything off. No phone, no social media, no television or radio. Nothing. Can you do it?

There is no doubt that across this country and around the world we are all dealing with the challenges of COVID in different ways. As if that were not enough, we are facing unprecedented level of racial tension, political upheaval, and divisions that are tearing our country and our lives apart.

In a world that has become accustomed to having information at our fingertips, it’s overwhelming to have so much bad news being slammed in our faces no matter where we turn.

Social media like IG and FB? It seems everyone ranting on and on about the challenges they face and how the world problems are impacting their lives. It’s hard NOT to absorb these feelings and the stress that friends, family and everyone has during these times.

The evening news on whatever channel you watch? It’s nothing but reports of violence, riots, protests, or the latest COVID stats and why everyone in my state of Florida refuses to take precautions.

Then there are the conspiracy theories (it’s all a big scam), the end of the world preppers, the pissed off sports fans, the Us vs. Them groups, and on and on.

I am NOT advocating that you should not care about matters that are important. Not at all. What I am suggesting is to take a break! I wrote a little about this back in March when the COVID crisis first broke, in my article titled “What Do I Tell My Family During this Global Crisis?” (if you didn’t read it, go back please!)

          I am also NOT a doctor, so I am not prescribing a magical feel good pill that will make all your worries and problems disappear by sampling hitting the Off button. What I do know is that stress is on the rise across the country. And stress will kill you. I’ve seen behavior from people I thought I would never have to see, at least not in this country. Why are people acting out with such rage and frustration? Because they are stressed out.

          It’s a simple fact that unplugging from the drama, even for just a short period of time, will put you in a better mood. Plan ho w you want to spend your 24 hours of media freedom! Get outside, take a walk or a bike ride, cook a meal with family, and spend some time to reflect on the things that matter most to you like friends and family.

          Did you know, according to, that 5-10% of Americans meet the criteria for Social Media addiction? Addictive social media use will look much like the symptoms of other substance abuse including mood modification, conflict, and even withdrawal symptoms. If you couple this with the fact that most people use social media as a means for coping with stress, loneliness or depression, it’s understandable why this kind of addiction can become so harmful.

And after you take my 24 hour challenge, ask yourself how you felt before and after? Were you stressing the whole time, wondering whom was doing what, or did you feel better, liberated, and stronger for getting refocused on the things that matter most? I can promise you this; the news will still be there, your friends and family will still love you, and your “followers” will understand. Good luck!

Health and Wellness over Age 50 – Blood Lab Test Results – Part 3

On April 17, 2020 I published the second article about health and wellness and understanding lab test results. This post is a follow-up to the first two pieces I wrote. No post would be complete without a legal disclaimer; I am not a doctor nor am I giving medical advice – I am simply sharing thoughts from my journey to creating a stronger body and mind! I hope they help you along your journey.

Please feel free to go back and read the first two discussions on my blog if you have not seen them yet, or reach out to me directly if you have questions you don’t feel comfortable posting!

In the first two articles I gave you an idea of the basic readings to test for, and what some of them mean. Most of us, if you are remotely health conscious, are aware of your lipid panels (cholesterol) and maybe some of the basic vitamin and hormone levels. Unless you are diabetic, most people are not aware of their glucose levels or insulin.

In this final piece (for now!) about blood lab test results, I want to talk several additional endocrinology reproductive hormones, and why they are important. If you are someone who need actual medical attention to address your own health issues, please seek professional help. I cannot stress this enough. If you are someone who just has questions, or wants to learn more, make an appointment and ask your primary care physician to draw these labs, sit down with you, and explain them.

The following readings are part of the regular panels I monitor;

  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • DHEA-5
  • SHBG
  • Testosterone
  • Free Testosterone
  • IGF-1
  • Cortisol

I won’t go over all of these readings here and now but let’s focus on a couple of them and why they’re important! (Please note I am referencing for the medical terms)

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is an important part of the reproductive system. It’s responsible for the growth of ovarian follicles. Follicles produce estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries and help maintain the menstrual cycles in women. In men, FSH is a part of the development of the gonads as well as sperm production.

High FSH Levels in Women

If you’re a woman with high FSH levels, this may indicate:

  • a loss of ovarian function, or ovarian failure
  • menopause
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is a condition in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance, causing ovarian cysts
  • a chromosomal abnormality, such as Turner’s syndrome that occurs when part or all of one of a woman’s X chromosomes is missing

High FSH Levels in Men

If you’re a man with high FSH values, this may indicate:

  • Klinefelter’s syndrome, which is a rare condition in men caused by an extra X chromosome that can affect male development
  • testicles that are absent or not functioning properly
  • testicles that have been damaged by a disease such as alcohol dependence
  • testicles that have been damaged by treatments such as X-rays or chemotherapy

DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone that’s produced by your body. Some of it is converted into the major male and female sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Its effects can be driven by the actions of testosterone and estrogen after this conversion occurs, as well as by the DHEA molecule itself. Understanding your DHEA level could be the key to better understanding things like libido, weight gain or loss, an even depression. Before you consider taking any supplements for this, be sure to consult your doctor.

Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. It’s important for helping your body deal with stressful situations, as your brain triggers its release in response to many different kinds of stress. However, when cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can hurt you more than it helps. Over time, high levels may cause weight gain and high blood pressure, disrupt sleep, negatively impact mood, reduce your energy levels and contribute to diabetes. Understanding your cortisol levels is an important aspect of your overall health but remember, they are highest in the morning so if you have this checked in your labs, make sure you do it early in the morning!

Last but not least, testosterone. I saved the best for last because this is certainly one of the most discussed/debated and highly talked about of the hormones!

Testosterone is a hormone produced by the human body. It’s mainly produced in men by the testicles. Testosterone affects a man’s appearance and sexual development. It stimulates sperm production as well as a man’s sex drive. It also helps build muscle and bone mass.

Testosterone production typically decreases with age. According to the American Urological Association, about 2 out of 10 men older than 60 years have low testosterone. That increases slightly to 3 out of 10 men in their 70s and 80s.

Men can experience a range of symptoms if testosterone decreases more than it should. Low testosterone, or low T, is diagnosed when levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).

A normal range is typically 300 to 1,000 ng/dL, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A blood test called a serum testosterone test is used to determine your level of circulating testosterone.

A range of symptoms can occur if testosterone production drastically drops below normal. Signs of low T are often subtle. Here are signs of low T in men.

  • Low sex drive or difficulty with erection
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Hair and muscle loss
  • Mood changes
  • Increased body fat

If you’ve enjoyed reading these updates, let me know. Also, please reach out and let me know what you would like to read more about. As I build this blog, my IG account, and my You Tube Channel (eventually), and my businesses, I will start sharing more about my own personal journey to health and wellness. Thank you!

Americans are Just Too Fat! *Five Ways to Make Better Life Choices*

It’s your body and it’s your health, yet why are so many American’s afraid to make healthy choices? In February of this year the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study indicating the prevalence of obesity rose from 30% to a staggering 42% over the past 18 years. Here are just a few figures to consider;

  • The CDC defines an adult as “obese” if Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 30
  • The CDC defines an adult as “overweight” in the BMI is over 25
  • Obese Americans incur an average of $1,429 more in medical expense per year
  • Obesity is proven to lead to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even cancer
  • More than 70 million Americans are obese and more than 100 overweight

It’s Not Education…

            Twenty years ago it would be easy to blame knowledge for obesity. We just didn’t know was an easy excuse, almost like living under a rock. Today however, health and wellness information is everywhere literally at the touch of our smartphones. There are hundreds of apps to support wellness, workouts, diet and exercise.

It’s Not Convenience…

            Fast food drive-thru, snack foods and soft drinks were always the go to excuse for “I didn’t have time to have a healthy meal.  Much like the knowledge aspects above, technology has helped change all of this for the better. Yesterday afternoon I logged into my Amazon Prime account, placed my order, and left the office. By the time I got home and settled in, the delivery guy was dropping everything off at front door. If anything, the new COVID economy has proven just how easy it can be to access almost anything we need from Uber Eats to local produce delivery.

What’s the Reason?

            We just don’t care. Let that sink in for a minute. We have become an instant gratification society of people who want to feel good NOW, and worry about the consequences later. That’s problem number 1. Better yet, there must be a pill to take or something that can help me drop weight later, or feel better when we decide we do care. That’s problem number 2. It is estimated that over 4.5 billion prescriptions will be filled in 2020 as US spending on prescriptions far exceeds any other country in the world. We the worlds most medicated country.

Five Ways to Make Healthy Food Choices

  • Start Simple A good friend gave me advice years ago and it’s always stuck with me. If it was a food 100 years ago, you can eat it! Fruits and Vegetables? Yup, they were here. Chickens, cows, etc.*(if you are a meat eater!)…yup, they were here too! Nacho chips, soft drinks, and other processed foods…sorry, no go!
  • Pick 1 Thing You can’t change your lifestyle overnight or in one day, so start by choosing one thing. You already know what that one this, as you probably thought of it as you were reading this. Instead, replace that one thing with something healthy that you know you already like. Say it out loud and while looking in the mirror! Today I will stop eating Snicker’s bars, and start eating avocado!
  • Self-Esteem You will feel better when you make healthy choices. It won’t be instant, and it’s counter intuitive if you need a quick fix but I promise, every time you make a healthy decision you will feel a little better about it. Resist the urge to step on a scale a week or two after you make these changes. It takes time, but do think about how you feel. Do you have more energy, are you sleeping better, and do have find it easier to concentrate on things? After a while, this kind of healthy behavior starts to become a way of life, and as your health changes, so will your attitude, and your self-esteem, and your total wellness!
  • 1% Better – Remember the expression Rome was not built in a day? Neither was your body. It takes time to make changes but don’t try to set unrealistic goals. If you can be just 1% better today than you were yesterday, that’s progress! Over time, those 1%’s add up and will have a tremendous impact on your wellness.
  • Surround yourself with people who share the same goals – This is important not only for your physical health, but your overall total wellness. Likeminded people will encourage, support, and help each other to make smart decisions which improve their lives. If someone is not supportive of your personal goals, you really need to rethink why that person is in your life. Negativity has no place when it comes to making healthy choices for you! Good luck and stay the course!

Health and Wellness over Age 50 – Blood Lab Test Results – Part 2

On March 20, 2020 I published the first article about health and wellness and understanding lab test results. This post is a follow-up to that article. No post would be complete without a legal disclaimer; I am not a doctor nor am I giving medical advice – I am simply sharing thoughts from my journey to creating a stronger body and mind!

                In my last article I suggested some of the basic readings your doctor should ask for when sending you for routine blood panels. They included the following;

  • Lipid Panel – Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), Risk Ratio, HS-CRP (C Reactive Protein)
  • White Blood Cell Count, Red Blood Cell Count, Hemoglobin, Hematocrit
  • Glucose, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Calcium, CO2, BUN, Creatine
  • eGFR, Magnesium, Uric Acid, Protein, Albumin
  • HGBA1C, Insulin, eAG
  • Cortisol, IGF-1, FSH, LSH, Free Testosterone, Estradiol, Progesterone, DHEA
  • Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Folate, Ferritin
  • Estrone, PSA

Now let’s do a quick review of why these readings are important and how they can help guide you towards a healthier life!

Lipid Panel

Everyone knows about cholesterol so I won’t harp on this too much. Yes, your total cholesterol should ideally be below 200, but some cholesterol is actually good for you. Your total cholesterol is calculated by adding your HDL plus you LDL, and adding 20% of your triglycerides level. It can act much like a lubricant for your blood, as well as produce Vitamin D. It’s even an important building block for hormones. But yes, too much cholesterol is a bad thing because it leads to the buildup of plaque.

LDL, or low density lipoproteins, are also known as your Bad cholesterol. Ideally your LDL level should be less than 100 mg/dl as elevated levels of LDL will increase the likelihood of clogging in your arteries. Elevated LDL levels are caused by a diet high in saturated fats and trans fats.

HDL, or high density lipoproteins, are also known as your Good cholesterol. Ideally your HDL level should be above 50 mg/dl…and the higher the better! HDL attacks the LDL in your blood and actually helps scrub your artery walls. A plant-based diet has been proven to increase HDL levels, and lower LDL levels and should include foods like avocados, olive oil, fruits, and whole grains.

Triglycerides are another type of fat that is carried in the blood. Ideally your triglyceride level will be under 150mg/dl as increased triglyceride levels have been linked to diabetes and heart disease. If you regularly consume more calories than you burn, your body stores these as triglycerides or fat, to use later for energy. High triglyceride can also lead to heart disease, diabetes, and even a hardening of your artery walls known as arteriosclerosis.

        A Risk Ratio is calculated by dividing your total cholesterol by your HDL number. For example, my total cholesterol was 185 and my HDL was 53, producing a Risk Ratio of 3.49. According to the American Heart Association your risk ratio should be below 5, with an ideal level of 3.5. According to the Framingham study, a report often used by doctors to assess a patient’s risk level for heart disease, men have double the risk of heart disease if their risk level reaches 9.6, and women have double the risk of their level reaches 7.

What can I do to lower my total cholesterol? For sure, diet and exercise are the two most important factors which can have an immediate impact on your heart health. If you smoke, quit. It’s as simple as that. Did you know that one egg has 186 mg of cholesterol? Most people should limit their daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg, and under 200 mg for those at higher risk. In parting, here are a few tips to help lower your cholesterol (and LDL) and increase your HDL. Foods high in antioxidants help lower cholesterol and can be found in blueberries, strawberries, pecans, artichokes, beans, cabbage, kale, spinach and beets. These are just of few of the things you can add to your diet in moderation! Next time, we will continue going through some of the other suggested levels mentioned above. Please follow my blog on my website to learn more as I continue to document my journey to better Health and Wellness Over age 50!

My Secret Ingredient for a Healthier Isolation

For the past several weeks (or more) we’ve all been dealing with the stress of working from home, managing life, deciding what to watch on Netflix and hopefully taking time to reflect on the things that are important in our lives. If you’re like me, this slowdown from the hectic pace of life has given me a chance to get back to the basics and focus on wellness for my family and myself.

Bullet proof coffee was all the rage a few years back, and everyone discovered the benefits of ghee butter, MCT oil, and turbo boosting the morning cup of Joe. Like all fads when they fade away, most of us forget and simply move on to the next best new thing! (Not me by the way – I am still dressing like I live in the 80’s and sure enough, preppie fashion is now “hipster”!) One of the other things I held on to was my love of MCT oil and my belief in the benefits of adding this to my daily routine!

According to Medical News Today, MCT oil is a dietary supplement that is made up of MCT fats, which are fats that can be found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products. MCT oil is mainly used by people looking to lose weight, or boost their endurance during a workout. Some supporters of MCT oil also claim it can improve the ability to think, as well as help with various forms of dementia. I like using this supplement in the morning as I definitely feel the benefits from an immediate boost of healthy fats as fuel for my brain and body.

Fats are made up of chains of carbon atoms, and most of the fats in a person’s diet are made up of 13 to 21 of these atoms. These are called long-chain fatty acids. In contrast, short-chain fatty acids are made up of 6 or fewer carbon atoms. MCTs refers to medium-chain triglycerides that sit in the middle of the other two types. They are of medium length and made up of 6 to 12 carbon atoms. Too much scientific lingo?

MCTs are found in coconut oil and are processed by the body in a different way to long-chain fatty acids. Unlike other fats, they go straight from the gut to the liver. From here, they are used as a source of energy or turned into ketones.

We have all heard of ketones as the “Keto Craze” has been popular for over 5 years now. What are ketones? Ketones are substances produced when the liver breaks down a lot of fat, and they can be used by the brain for energy instead of glucose or sugar. Hence the Brain Octane brand of MCT oil (which I love) and other products which promote increased cognitive abilities, memory and more through their use.

For most people the idea of getting their body into Ketosis is the goal, as the state of ketosis is when your body burns fat (in the absence of glucose) to use for fuel. As the calories in MCTs are used straightaway, they are less likely to be stored as fat. This principle is the basis of the ketogenic diet, which many people believe is an effective way to lose weight. I will talk more about ketosis and the ketogenic diet later this month, but for now my secret ingredient to Surviving Isolation? Try a little MCT oil in your morning routine and see if you don’t notice a difference!

I Didn’t Have Time for Breakfast

I was running late because of the kids. I did an extra 15 minutes of cardio and didn’t have time. I overslept and didn’t hear the alarm go off. How many times have you said these things to yourself and justified the reason to skip breakfast, arguably the most important meal of the day? Even worse, have you convinced yourself that lowering your caloric intake will help you lose weight and stay healthy? Guess again!

            Intermittent fasting has become one of the latest fads in the dietary world of health and fitness. I am not a doctor so I am not giving you medical advice; I’m sharing my thoughts in exchange for what you paid to read them – nothing! That being said let’s walk through some common thoughts regarding to eat, or not to eat!

            People who skip a healthy breakfast will consume between 200 and 400 calories LESS in a day. TRUE. But does this lead to a hungry feeling which results in mid-morning snacks or eating a bigger lunch? PROBABLY!  Scientific studies and researchers agree that your brain functions BETTER when given the proper nutrients to function at its peak. Compared to fasting, the results are conclusive.

            Can you kick start your metabolism by consuming a healthy breakfast? YES! Again, studies have shown that your body will metabolize carbohydrates more efficiently DURING the day and LATER in the day if your metabolic process begins in the morning instead of mid-day. Think of your body like a power plant – once you turn those burners on and the plant is running, your entire body is ready to function at full capacity instead of running on fumes until you reach lunchtime.

            The key factor is recognizing the words I have used throughout this article – a HEALTHY breakfast! A sticky bun or bear claw, three donuts and a coffee, or biscuits smothered in gravy and bacon is probably 800-1000 calories of inefficient food your body doesn’t need. Instead, take the time to understand healthier options that give your brain, and your body, the fuel you need to start your day off right! Here are just a few of the healthy options I like to rotate through my morning routine. All of these are 300 calories or less!

  • 1 Cup of steel cut whole Oatmeal, 1 sliced pear or banana, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp chopped almonds
  • 1 egg omelet with 2 egg whites, 2 tbsp organic salsa or Pico  de Gallo, ½ cup baby spinach
  • 1 large avocado, slice in half and fill opening with egg white, drizzle olive oil, shred cheese on top of both halves and bake at 350 for 15 minutes
  • Whole Grain Cereal (I prefer bran!), almond milk or soy milk, sliced fruit or blueberries
  • Waffle Sandwich – I like the low carb protein waffles – with 2 tbsp honey, one slice of cheese OR 2 tbsp skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ Cup Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp honey, ½ cup granola, ½ cup blueberries or strawberries
  • Protein Smoothie – 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup blueberries, flax seed, chia seed, MCT oil, 2 cups ice cubes, 1 cup spinach, 1 tbsp ghee butter, 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
  • PB Bagel Sandwich, 3 tbsp all natural peanut butter, 1 granny smith apple sliced on the bagel
  • Wrap Sandwich, 2 egg whites, ½ sliced avocado, 1 slice low-fat Swiss or mozzarella cheese, 3 slices of turkey bacon or fake bacon

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Keep a lookout for more article on health and nutrition as I share my journey to health and wellness over the age of 50!