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What a bad night’s sleep really does to your body

Dr Sara Gottfried is, in her own words, an “under sleeper”. In our over-caffeinated, over-worked and gadget-addicted society, she’s far from alone: researchers from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Manchester and Surrey universities have found people are sleeping almost two fewer hours a night than they were in the 1960s – and our health is deteriorating as a result.

“We are the supremely arrogant species; we feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle,” says Oxford University’s Professor Russell Foster, who worked on the study. “What we do as a species, perhaps uniquely, is override the clock. And long-term acting against the clock can lead to serious health problems.” These problems include an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity.

“Under-sleeping is the next sugar – it’s a health time bomb,” says Dr Gottfried, who says just about every aspect of modern living is stealing our sleep. “Our lives are more hectic than ever, more people live in cities where they’re less attuned to light-dark cycles, we binge-watch TV shows, tablets emit sleep-disrupting blue light all evening, and it’s become normal for our bosses to email us at 9pm (they never could 20 years ago). What it means to be available has changed and our sleep is suffering.

“Screens aren’t the only culprits either – ecological fluorescent light bulbs or LED lights emit more blue light than old-school light bulbs.”

Dr Gottfried says artificial light has a hugely disruptive effect on our body clocks. Linked to our circadian rhythm, which regulates cell regeneration, brainwave activity, hormone production and the regulation of glucose and insulin levels, it naturally adjusts to daylight and darkness. To stay healthy, we should still be sleeping like our ancestors by going to bed at sunset and waking at sunrise – a pattern all but dispensed with in the modern world.

“If we deprived ourselves entirely of sleep we wouldn’t live much longer than if we deprived ourselves of water, and five times quicker than if we stopped eating”, says sleep consultant Dr Neil Stanley. “In over one million years of evolution, our sleep needs remain the same.”

So how much shut-eye do we actually need? This Friday, March 17, is World Sleep Day – so there’s never been a better time to ask the question.

“The eight hour thing is a myth,” says Dr Stanley. “Sleep needs are like height – different for everybody and down to genetics. Just like there are tall and short people, there are people who need fours hours a night and others who need 11. You cannot train yourself to need less sleep and if you frequently go without your required hours you’ll do yourself harm.” The way to tell if you are getting enough is simple, he says. “If you feel awake and alert during the day, yes. If you feel sleepy in the day, no. And there’s a difference between feeling tired and feeling sleepy; the latter means literally wanting to sleep during the day.”

The ramifications of insufficient sleep are quickly felt: studies show that just one night without proper rest quadruples your risk of catching a cold. It “suppresses immunity. You’ll have less motivation, less empathy, slower reaction times, poor concentration and increased appetite,” Dr Stanley adds. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University found getting fewer than six hours’ sleep a night causes your levels of the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, to go up and levels of leptin, the sense of fullness hormone, to drop. When you’re tired you’ll feel hungry, then, but never full.

“Long term, regularly shaving an hour or more off your required sleep increases your risk of certain cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity, cognitive decline, depression and heart disease.” A study from Harvard Medical School found that people who sleep fewer than five hours a night for five consecutive years have a 300 per cent greater risk of hardened arteries. “There is not one single good thing about poor sleep,’ says Stanley, “yet we live in a society that at best disregards it and at worst, views getting by on very little as a badge of honour.”

Dr Gottfried says that while you may think you can get by on little sleep, the truth is only three per cent of the population has the short-sleep gene (known as DEC2). “I would stay up for 36 hours at a time during my medical training, surviving on coffee,” she recalls. “But coffee – like anything else that delays sleep – is a high interest loan and eventually your body will call that loan in.”

Gottfried says the brain is the organ most impacted by poor sleep and that in the last ten years neuroscience has shown a lack of the stuff can both change and age your brain. Good sleep, however, ‘shampoos’ your brain and ‘washes away’ ageing toxins. “During sleep, the space between brain cells expands 60 per cent more than when you’re awake,” she says. “This allows the brain to flush out built-up toxins with cerebral spinal fluid, the clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It’s called the glymphatic system and this system works better when you’re sleeping on your side, rather than back or tummy.”

Then of course there’s ageing; according to research from the Harvard School of Public Health sleeping five or fewer hours a night equates to ageing an extra four to five years. “There’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep,” says Dr Gottfried. ‘From personal experience it’s pretty dramatic how different my face looks when I’m tired. I look more pale and my face becomes puffy.’

So can a Sunday morning lie-in repay the sleep debt of the tumultuous week beforehand? “Yes, but it requires a mindset change,” says Dr Gottfried. “In the past, I’ve racked up gigantic sleep debts and have gained weight, become stressed and felt stiff and older than my years as a result. Now I view sleep as a non-negotiable and even though I have two children, a husband and a job, I no longer ‘steal’ from my sleep in order to fit everything in.”

She says little and often is key with repaying sleep debt rather than trying to catch up in one large chunk, as binge sleeping disrupts your body clock. “Naps also help and a 20-minute daytime nap is the equivalent of an hour at night.” Another tip is batch cooking: “Every working person will know that cooking a fresh meal in the evening – and washing up afterwards – cuts into sleep. So now I soften my expectations and grab something quick, or I batch cook and eat heated leftovers. This small thing gives me an hour more sleep every night of the week.”

Dr Guy Meadows, Clinical Director of The Sleep School says; “A small sleep debt is easily repaid with an early night. But if you’ve raised children, travelled a lot for work or suffered with insomnia, you’ll have a bigger sleep debt. Worse still, you may have become a bad sleeper, which makes the debt bigger.

“I tell the bad sleepers in my sleep clinic to stop chasing sleep, as this drives it further away. If you ask a great sleeper how they get to sleep, they’ll say ‘nothing’. If you ask a bad sleeper how they do it, they’ll give you a long list that includes warm baths and lavender pillow mist. My theory is that often the ways we try to chase or control our sleep is part of the problem. Try to be almost thoughtless about it.

“Sleep is what makes us brilliant because it’s the most natural powerful performance enhancer known to humankind. It’s time we started treating it as such.”

The Seven Surprising Benefits of Sleeping Naked

Good news, fans of sleeping in the nude: there is an excuse to air yourself at night-time.

According to a study in 2015 by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Maryland, and Stanford University, sleeping in boxer shorts or PJs could damage sperm production and harm the chances of having a baby.

Tight boxers are the biggest offenders here – they increase the temperature of the testicles, which can cause the quality of a man’s sperm to decrease. Ditching them in favour of loose underwear during the day and nothing at night can bring about a 25pc increase in sperm quality, according to the research.

In truth, this is only the latest in a long line of scientific endeavour that suggests going commando at night really is the way forward …

You’ll get a better quality of shut-eye

Most sleep experts agree that wearing your birthday suit at night helps your body to regulate its temperature – which results in better, deeper, happier sleep. This is because your body temperature falls once you’re asleep; a process that can be disrupted by warming underwear or pyjamas (or your shirt and trousers after a night down the pub…).

You might lose weight

Seriously. If your body is too hot while you sleep, it won’t release much human growth hormone, which is the trigger it uses to repair cells. Instead, your cortisol (stress hormone) level will stay high, causing a night-time spike in insulin.

Effectively, your body remains in ‘panic’ mode rather than ‘healing’ mode, and chooses to store fat rather than burn it – which is why researchers at the University of Warwick found that insufficient sleep is linked to diabetes and heart disease.

You’ll look younger …

… or at least, you’ll age better. The same human growth hormone that helps you burn fat is also known as your body’s anti-aging agent. By repairing your cells, it helps to smooth over skin lesions, spots, and even wrinkles.

You’ll enjoy a happier love life

Ok, this one isn’t for singletons – but for those who share a bed with a loved one every night, going nude in the land of nod could result in a more content relationship.

According to one survey of 1,000, 57 per cent of nude sleepers reported being happier with their relationship, compared to just 48pc of clothing-clad catnappers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the key is believed to be in the skin-on-skin contact, which triggers the release of the ‘feel good’ hormone oxytocin. As a result, you feel happier, more connected to your partner, and – yes – more likely to be interested in sex.

You’ll dodge fungal infections

Whereas pyjamas or boxers promote the dreaded ‘sweaty nads syndrome’, sleeping in the buff helps to let your crown jewels breathe – which means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fungal infections such as jock strap itch.

“Keeping the area cool, dry, clean and “aired” at night will help to reduce the overheating that promotes this – especially in summer,” Dr Sarah Brewer told Mail Online earlier this year.

You’ll save money

Embrace nude sleeping and never again will you have that Autumnal sinking feeling when you reach for last year’s trusty PJs only to realise that they are just too fetid to be reintroduced into your daily existence.

11 Best Flu Remedies Backed by Scientific Studies

Uh-oh… you’re feeling those dread signs of a flu bug. Some of us, upon feeling that tickle deep in the throat, will opt for flu remedies involving a prescription for the anti-viral med Tamiflu, but is it really worth it? And is it more effective than home flu remedies?

Studies show that Tamiflu may shorten the length of a flu by only a day or so—and to do so, it must be taken within the first 48 hours of flu onset in the patient. This means that if you don’t get to the doctor fast enough, Tamiflu, among the best flu medicine available, will not help you at all.

Furthermore, as with any prescription medication, there can be side effects with the Tamiflu flu treatment. Among them: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, coughing, and other respiratory symptoms—the same symptoms you’ll experience with the flu. And in the end, you might just be told to go home, rest, drink fluids, and use over-the-counter and home remedies to soothe your flu symptoms. Now how much did I pay for that advice?

Home Flu Remedies: Treatment Is Available—and Backed by Science

Fortunately, you do have other options to treat the flu at home—there are effective and natural flu remedies you can utilize at home, and we discuss them below. One major advantage of using one or more of these home flu remedies is that you can begin your treatment protocol much sooner than if you wait to go to the doctor.

Most people think for the first day or two that they just have a cold. Often, by the time they finally determine it’s the flu, schedule an appointment, and get into the doctor’s office, the virus has fully manifested itself. But with these natural remedies for cold and flu, you can begin your treatment protocol immediately upon feeling that scratchy, sore throat, runny nose, cough, and/or body aches.

If it’s just a cold virus, these home flu remedies will help it as well. And by getting your flu treatment going immediately, it will lessen the flu symptoms dramatically and shorten the duration.

Here are the top natural home remedies for the flu. You should have one or more of these in your medicine cabinet before the flu or that cold hits you.

1. Oregano oil for flu and cold

Traditional healers since ancient times have used oregano extract as a natural remedy to treat respiratory issues such as coughs, colds, flu, sore throats, and bronchitis. Based on notable research studies, the volatile oils in oregano (thymol and carvacrol) have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition, oregano oil can help calm down stomach upset and aid in digestion by stimulating bile flow. Therefore, symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can be remedied by using the oil. Oregano oil is also one of the best home remedies for flu because it promotes sweating, which makes it useful to bring down a fever.

When shopping for oregano oil supplements, try to find P73 oregano. Wild Oregano P73 stands for “polyphenol 73 percent” and is a specific blend of several high-grade medicinal wild oreganos. P73 oregano is also a rich source of natural vitamins and minerals—calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, boron, potassium, copper, and manganese—all of which help boost immunity.

The adult dosage for P73 oregano oil flu treatment is anywhere between 3 to 20 drops, four times per day. Be sure to check the manufacture’s specific dosing instructions.

Typically, you’ll put 3 to 10 drops in a tablespoon of water; swish it around your mouth and under your tongue for 20 to 30 seconds, then swallow. Repeat this 3- to 10-drop dosage in water once again so the combined two mouthfuls will give you 6 to 20 total drops of oregano. You’ll want to do this four times per day and continue every day until flu symptoms subside.

For children 6 to 10 years old, 1 to 3 drops mixed with juice or water once per day will suffice. If the child is more than 10 years old, 1 to 3 drops with liquid 2 or 3 times per day is recommended.

The oil also can be used to clear lungs and bronchial passages by mixing it with a base of olive oil and rubbing it on the chest and aching muscles or by boiling it with hot water or adding it to a vaporizer to inhale the steam.

Be sure to read the label of any oil of oregano product other than Oregano P73. The primary component must be carvacrol. Other products may substitute with marjoram oil, which is not as effective for flu treatment.

2. NAC (N-acetyl L-cysteine)

Another one of the best flu remedies is N-acetyl L-cysteine, which comes from the amino acid L-cysteine. You can expect to find it sold under the name “NAC” on the Internet or at your local health food store.

Interestingly, NAC is most often used in hospitals to treat acetaminophen (Tylenol) poisoning because it binds the poisonous forms of acetaminophen that are formed in the liver. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps boosts immunity, reduces respiratory mucus and helps with breathing in various lung conditions.

Research has shown NAC can reduce both the duration and severity of the flu. In fact, in a large study of older adults, only 25 percent of those taking NAC experienced influenza-like episodes over a six month period, compared with 79 percent in the placebo group. The NAC dosage taken during the six-month study was 600 mg twice daily. Even those with flu symptoms experienced a significant reduction in illness severity and duration. All subjects tolerated the treatment well.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Silvio de Flora, commented that “Administration of N-acetyl L-cysteine during the winter appears to provide a significant attenuation of influenza and influenza-like episodes, especially in elderly high-risk individuals.”

Dr. Mark Stengler recommends the following dosage for flu treatment: “Take 600 mg twice a day for healthy adults, and half that amount for kids during the flu season to avoid the disease. And if you happen to get the flu despite your turbo-charged immune system, increase the [adult] dose to between 2,000 mg and 3,000 mg a day for up to a week.”

3. Olive leaf extract

Olive leaf extract (OLE) is an extremely powerful immune booster and flu treatment. The main constituent of olive leaf is the phytochemical oleuropein, and it is loaded with pharmacological activities including: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer activities, antimicrobial activity, antiviral activity, and hypolipidemic (cholesterol-lowering) and hypoglycemic (blood sugar) effects.

Olive leaf extract can be found in capsules, oils and teas. For flu treatment at home, the capsules and teas work best. When buying a supplement, be sure it contains oleuropein. Adults and children can sip the tea several times per day. For the capsule dose, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Ginger flu remedies

Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is an herbaceous perennial plant that produces the spice known as ginger, which naturally combats nausea and vomiting, making it an excellent flu treatment.

Ginger is so effective at reducing nausea that it is often used to combat the effects of chemotherapy. The National Cancer Institute funded a study involving 644 people who had experienced nausea after one cycle of chemotherapy.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or ginger in capsule form once a day for 6 days. Participants rated their nausea on a 7-point scale, where 1 equals no nausea and 7 equals the worst possible nausea. By the end of the first day, patients who took the ginger (equivalent of one-quarter and one-half teaspoon of fresh or dry ginger) rated their nausea as 1 or 2 points, meaning they had no or very slight nausea. In contrast, those who took a placebo rated their nausea as 4 to 5 points, meaning they had a lot of nausea.

For flu treatment at home, you can buy ginger root in capsule, powder, or extracts. Follow the manufacturer’s dosing instructions. You can also buy organic ginger ale (with no corn syrup) or ginger teas; sip the ginger ale or tea throughout the day as tolerated. Homemade ginger recipes are easy as well.

Note: Do not take ginger root for flu treatment if you take medications for high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or blood-thinners without consulting a healthcare professional.

5. Probiotics for flu treatment and prevention

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that keep your gut healthy and strong, thus boosting your immune system. You should begin taking probiotics before you get the flu, especially if you have been in contact with someone who is ill. If your GI tract is not adequately defended, you are more likely to experience illness. Probiotics are especially helpful for children’s immunity, particularly during the winter months.

When selecting a probiotic, try to choose one that contains both the Lactobacillusand Bifidobacterium species of bacteria. Take the dosage recommended on the manufacturer’s bottle and double up on your dose to reduce stomach upset (nausea or diarrhea, for example).

6. How to cure the flu? Stay hydrated

One of the easiest and best flu remedies is to drink water as often as you can. If you have nausea or vomiting, take frequent small sips. Look for signs of dehydration; seek medical attention right away if you experience any of these symptoms, especially in children: dry skin, dry mouth, thirst, decreased urination, dark-colored urine, heart palpitations, muscle cramping, headaches, or decreased sweating.

7. Home Remedy for Flu? Lots of Honey, Lemon, and Tea

While you’re hydrating with water, keep a nice, hot cup of herbal tea at hand, and add organic honey and lemon not only for taste and vitamin boost, but to soothe a sore throat. Honey also is helpful in relieving your cough.

8. To prevent and treat flu, take immunity-boosting vitamins

You also may get a boost in essential vitamins and minerals from a daily multivitamin. Adults also may go for additional zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D3 to boost immunity. And you’ll need B vitamins to help fight fatigue and weakness.

9. Penetrating heat for flu relief

For flu relief, keep a bottle of eucalyptus oil or Vicks VapoRub at hand. For helping to clear congestion, spread some of the oil or rub into a tissue or washrag; hold it up near your mouth and nose and inhale several times per day.

10. Best flu remedy? Wash your hands!

One of the quickest and easiest ways to fight the flu, notes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “is to clean your hands! Hand washing can help to protect you, your family members and others from spreading everyday illnesses at home, school, or work.”

11. Consider natural remedies for fighting the flu and boosting immunity

There are several other natural flu remedies that are aimed to boost your immune system when you’re sick. Some come with caveats (see notes below) and should be consumed only as needed for flu treatment—that is, while you have symptoms—and not on a regular basis:

  • Beta-glucan, found in baker’s yeast, mushrooms, and cereal grains.
  • Echinacea. (Note: While natural health advocates point to this herbal supplement as a way to fight the flu, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, or NCCIH, says this: “Taking echinacea while you’re well may slightly reduce your chances of catching a cold. However, the evidence on this point isn’t completely certain. Currently, the NCCIH is funding research to identify the active constituents in echinacea and to study the effects on the human immune system of substances in bacteria that live within echinacea plants.)
  • Colloidal silver. (Note: Likewise, the NCCIH is conducting more research; see this page for information on side effects.)

Need some interior design inspiration? Then check out these awesome examples of furniture design…

Furniture is a big deal in the design industry. A well-executed concept can result in a timeless piece of furniture that never goes out of style.

With this in mind, we’ve found these inspirational examples of furniture design. Some are classics that have been around for years, others are recent and more modern. But they’re all fantastic designs – which of them would you have in your home?

01. Malleable desk

With a minimal design, this stylish writing desk was created with the purpose of intensifying the relationship between furniture and owner. Developed by Danish designer Mette Karina Johansen, the foldable desk is composed of a metal, linear base supporting stretched leather, which absorbs and moulds itself around the items held within the table, subsequently taking on new shapes, influenced by the owner’s possessions.

“Furniture builds up over time – the more the furniture recorder traces of the owner’s whereabouts and lifestyle, the more it will increase its value for the owner,” says Johansen. “The leather’s ability to expand is utilized as the owner has the opportunity to influence and shape the product with time.”

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Ever dreamed of boarding an airplane, not entirely knowing where you’re going with nothing more than a backpack and a serious case of wanderlust? For some, you might be forced to do it solo for a variety of reasons, but what ensues is one of the most liberating and spectacular things you could possibly do for yourself.

1. You Learn About True Happiness

This is subjective for everyone, as everyone’s happiness is taylor-made their own way, so what makes me happy will be different from someone else. With that being said, in my travels I learned not only about my own happiness; what makes me truly happy, what makes me tick, but also what makes other people genuinely happy. Some of the happiest people on this planet that I’ve met have so very little. Possessions do NOT equal happiness. In traveling solo I found that things and possessions are not one bit what make me happy. This absolutely varies for everyone. We’re all different but I’ve noticed a lot of patterns in this. What makes me happy? What’s important to me? What do I want more of in this life and what do I want less of? The list goes on on and on.

These experiences, adventures with myself and the amazing people in my life, make me come alive and put a big grin on my face. You learn that it’s your loved ones, friends and family that matter. Without other people, what would we be and what would we have?

Collecting moments and experiences has become a large part of who I am because of these solo travels. I don’t wish to collect fancy watches and cars. I can admit that I’ll look back years from now and be glad I got that new shiny piece of technology, but I’ll also always remember the time I met that random guy in that hostel and hiked to the top of a mountain for a sunrise in a country that’s all new to me.

For me, when I combine the outdoors, friends – both new and old – and photography, that’s when I’m at my happiest these days. You can learn so much from adventures into the unknown, not only about yourself but of the world itself.

2. You Learn to Test Your Limits and Comfort Zones

Backpacking solo teaches you self confidence like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and this is an invaluable trait to acquire, no matter who you are.

A year before I started my global travels, if you told me I would be flying into Nepal totally alone, with no real idea of what goes on in that country, with the soul intention of getting to Everest Base Camp, but genuinely not really knowing how I was going to do it, I’d call you crazy. But I did and it went way better than I could have ever imagined. I got to the base of Mt. Everest without any real prior knowledge, met some awesome one of a kind people along the way, and made memories that’ll last me a lifetime. All of this happened because I trusted in myself.

With every day that passed while out traveling solo, I felt more and more confident in my own abilities to do whatever I set my mind to. I’m still not where I want to be with my adventures – among other things – but I know I’m making progress and getting there. A lot of that is thanks to my solo travels and everything that I learned about myself. If there’s a take-home of this for you guys, it’s that traveling solo will teach you everything you need to know about yourself.

Consider any type of enlightening adventure a gift to yourself, from yourself. New adventures, breaking out of your comfort zones, trying new experiences, all of these things are the best way to bust out of the norm.

3. You Learn to Make Every Day Count

When it’s just you out there you learn that nobody is going to hold your hand and do it for you, the choice is always yours. I’m an absolute broken record with this one but it needs to be repeated, that you learn true self reliance with solo travel. When you can do whatever it is your heart desires then, it’s up to you to go out there and actually do it, that’s up to nobody else but yourself.

Each and every day out traveling to me is a gift, how fortunate I am to be doing this and seeing things and doing things that others wouldn’t even dream of so I think a big part of this is gratitude and putting this all into perspective. Once I felt truly grateful to be out there wandering the world and doing as I pleased, I noticed that I was taking advantage of my days.

4. You Learn That You Can Be Whoever You Want

When traveling with others, it’s easy to fall into the other person’s plans and goals for trips. Getting caught up in someone else’s travel list can happen to the best of us.

But when it’s you and only you out there solo in a foreign country, you learn that you can do whatever it is that you want to do. Want to go wake up and surf the waves at sunrise? Go ahead! Want to wake up for that breathtaking sunrise? Stay out all night and stare up at the stars? The list goes on and on. Moral of the story is you can do truly whatever you really want when you backpack solo.

Solo travel gives you freedom like none other, and the freedom to discover what your own preferences are. You can become whoever you want on the road; nobody out there knows you, they only know who you are right now and not who you were in the past. Maybe you really don’t like to travel alone for very long and either way that’s perfectly okay, but traveling solo gives you the ability to choose exactly who you want to befriend and talk to. You hold all the cards.

5. You Learn That Even Though You Travel Alone You Are Never Lonely

Making new friends while solo traveling just comes as a second nature…it’s too easy! Especially when it comes to meeting other solo backpackers. You instantly have a lot in common; you’re out to see the world, have amazing experiences, make new friends, and the list goes on and on. You find a TON of common ground with a lot of people.

Meeting people out on hikes, other photographers who are out shooting sunrise/sunset, so on and so forth, you automatically share a lot of common ground with people doing the same activities that you are. When you go it solo, you just seem to be more open to meeting others and starting up random conversation.

Will you like everyone you meet on the road and will they like you? Sometimes you won’t like each other and that’s okay. Not everyone’s the same by any means and that’s the beauty of it, you’re free to choose who you befriend and who you don’t.

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Your backpacking food needs to provide high levels of nutrition, require minimal preparation and be as lightweight as possible. Getting all of this from a variety of flavors, textures and nutritional sources is the goal. After one epic adventure of backpacking for 5 months on the Appalachian Trail and cycle-touring New Zealand for 3 months, I’ve eaten A LOT of trail food. Here is a list of the best backpacking food ideas organized by suggested meal.

Breakfast

1. Oatmeal Packets. A backpacking food staple. The best thing about these packets is that they serve as a bowl. Just add hot water to heat the oats inside. Get the variety pack.

best backpacking food ideas

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Heart disease is so prevalent—27.6 million American adults have it, and it’s the leading cause of death for both men and women—yet many people still don’t have a good grasp on how to protect themselves. Step one: You need to understand what, exactly, could be putting you in danger.

“It’s really important to identify at-risk people early so we can focus on prevention,” says Erin Michos, MD, associate director of preventive cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.

You’ve probably heard that getting older, having a family history of heart trouble, smoking, having high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, and being obese can raise your chances of heart disease. But there are lesser-known risk factors, too—including a number of health conditions that might seem like they have little to do with the heart. Here’s a look at six that could spell trouble for your heart.

1. Diabetes and prediabetes

People with diabetes are at least twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke as those who don’t have diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health. And when someone with diabetes has a heart attack, it tends to be more serious, probably because chronically elevated glucose levels can damage the blood vessels.

It’s not just full-blown diabetes that can lead to heart disease, though. Impaired glucose tolerance, or prediabetes—a condition in which glucose levels in the blood are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes—can also hurt your heart. Consider this extra incentive to stay physically active, quit smoking, and keep your weight down.

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Mindfulness is a simple, yet effective form of meditation that enables you to gain control of unruly thoughts and behaviors. People who practice mindfulness are more focused, even when they are not meditating. Mindfulness is an excellent technique to reduce stress because it allows you to stop feeling out of control, to stop jumping from one thought to the next, and to stop ruminating on negative thoughts. Overall, it’s a great way to make it through your busy day in a calm and productive manner.

Here’s how you can do it, even with your busy schedule.

Focus on your breathing

Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor, and spend a few minutes doing nothing but breathing slowly in and out. Focus all your attention on your breath. Feel the air travel into your mouth, down your windpipe, and into your lungs. Then feel your body shift as it pushes the air out of your lungs. When thoughts surface that distract you from your breathing, don’t worry. Just let them pass, and shift your attention back to your breathing. After some practice, you should be able to spend a few to several minutes doing nothing but immersing yourself in the act of breathing, at the expense of all the other thoughts.

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When you’ve exhausted every fitness class in the land and the plateau is real, one final frontier in the quest for change promises next-level results–New York City’s Bodies by P. Founded by former athlete (and ModelFit alum) Stephen Pasterino, the hyper-precise workout is designed to tone muscles that other methods neglect.

“A lot of my girls come from a barre-Pilates background and they’re so quad dominant,” says Pasterino, who has amassed a cult of Victoria’s Secret models (and chiseled devotees who look like models). “People tend to use their knees, pulse, or go really fast, which won’t allow the exercise to fully work and get really deep into the glutes to help shape it,” he explains. While his slow, low-impact moves won’t leave you dripping sweat, you willfeel sore the next day. And after just a few weeks of training, everything begins to lift and tighten into place.

Not able to visit Bodies by P IRL? Pasterino devised the ultimate butt-lifting workout to try at home. All you’ll need to get started is a slider disc and a TheraBand. Check it out.

Bend N’ Glide

  1. Start in a seated position with knees even and feet staggered. Place the glider foot one-third of the way out.
  2. Stabilize using the standing butt and push backwards through the glider side butt.
  3. When the glider foot hits the end range of the motion, engage and squeeze the butt with your leg fully extended.
  4. Slowly drag the extended foot back in two-thirds of the way while engaging and squeezing the standing leg butt.
  5. End the motion with a small 2-inch squat.

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Try these easy ideas for quick breakfasts kids will love—perfect for school days or any day of the week!

1. French Toast Bowls

Making breakfast cute (à la these French toast bowls) ups the chances of the kids eating it, right?

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter (at room temperature), plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 c. plus 1 rounded tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 slices white sandwich bread (we used Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 6-oz. pkg. small raspberries
  • 1 6-oz. pkg. small blueberries

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Butter four 1-cup oven-safe bowls or baking dishes.
  • In a large pitcher, measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt.
  • Remove the crusts from the bread, then spread one side of each piece with the butter. Cut each piece in half to make two triangles. Arrange some of the bread, buttered-side up, around each bowl or baking dish. Top with the berries, then repeat, making sure to keep the bread around the edges of the dish.
  • Pour the custard mixture over the bread and berries (about 2/3 cup per dish). Sprinkle with the remaining rounded tablespoon of sugar (about 1 teaspoon per dish) and place the bowls on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Cover the dishes loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the custard is set and the bread is lightly golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes more.
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For someone new to being a Survivalist building your first Bug Out Bag can seem like a big task. Everybody you read about has been tweaking theirs for months or even years and has a pile of gear built up. It’s hard to know where to start, but if you cover all of the basics in a survival situation you will still be much better off that 99% of the people.

A Bug Out Bag, also called a BOB, I.N.C.H Bag (I’m Never Coming Home Bag),Get Out of Dodge Bag (GOOD Bag), or 72 Hour Bag is usually designed to get you out of an emergency situation and allow you to survive self-contained for up to 3 days. A lot of people plan their Bug Out Bag to sustain them for much longer than that, but there is always a limit to what you can carry on your back and a 3 day target is a good place to start.

Here are the 7 basic types of gear you will need for your Bug Out Bag:

1. Water

It should go without saying that water is a survival basic for any situation. In a survival situation water quickly becomes the most precious commodity.

1 Liter per day per person is really the bare minimum. So your 3 day Bug Out Bag should have at least 3 liters of water.

To expand your capability or survive longer than a couple of days you will need a water purification system. This can be as simple as boiling water and iodine tablets, or a serious water filter.

  • You can use a Collapsible Water Bottle for extra storage.
  • Make water collection easier with a Backpacking Bucket.
  • Use Coffee Filters to extend the life of your water filtration system.

2. Food

For a 3 Day Bug Out Bag Backpack Meals and Energy Bars can be sufficient. Back pack meals are freeze dried meals that you just add boiling water to. They are light weight and last a long time.

Obviously you will need a longer term food solution in any type of wide area catastrophe, but for your Basic Bug Out Bag backpack meals are a good set up.

3. Clothing

Your Bug Out Bag clothes should be similar to what you would pack for a weekend backpacking trip.

  • A pair of sturdy boots or shoes
  • A pair of long pants (preferably not blue jeans)
  • 2 Pairs of socks (preferably not cotton)
  • 2 Shirts (Maybe 1 long sleeve and 1 short sleeve for layering)
  • A Jacket that is both warm and protection from rain
  • Warm long underwear of some kind
  • A hat
  • A Bandana

This list could go on for a while and many people would never dream of leaving their Bug Out Bag without twice that much, but in a pinch that set up could get you by for 3 days.

4. Shelter

If you are going to survive for 3 days you are going to need protection from the elements and a warm dry place to sleep. You need at least:

  • Some type of tent or tarp and a way to set it up
  • A ground tarp for underneath your shelter to stay dry or a sleeping pad (Never underestimate the importance of this)
  • Some type of Bedroll, preferably a good sleeping bag.

5. First Aid Kit

Trying to cover everything you need in your Bug Out Bag First Aid Kit is another article entirely to itself, probably several more. I won’t try to cover it because I would surely leave something out.

What I will do is recommend that you build your own First Aid Kit instead of buying one of those prepackaged first aid kits that claim to have 1001 things to get you through any emergency. While some are ok, in my experience these types of kits are usually filled with a lot of stuff you are unlikely to need and not enough of the things you will probably need a lot of.

Plus, building your own first aid kit gives you an intimate knowledge of what it contains and how to use it. How many people buy one of those pre-made set ups and just assume they are prepared because there’s so much crap in it there must be what I need? Bad Idea.

6. Basic Gear

Basic Gear sounds repetitive (what have I been talking about?) but it is my category for the things you absolutely cannot live without but don’t really fit well into another category. Many survivalists will not like this list because it is not exhaustive by any means, but again I will say: It will be enough to get you by for a couple of days.

Rain Gear – at least 2 ways to stay dry in the rain. Poncho and Coat are good coupled with your Tent/Shelter.

Fire – A bare minimum of 3 different ways to make fire.

You’re also going to need something to cut your firewood and a knife uses too much energy long term

Cooking – Bare minimum here is a small pot/large cup to boil water in for both drinking and freeze dried meals. A small backpacking stove and fuel are better.

Light – At least 2 dependable flashlights and a backup set of batteries for each.

Survival Knife – The most used and most versatile tool in your Bug Out Bag is your survival knife.

7. Weapons

The fact of the matter is you are might be dealing with a “Without Rule of Law” situation, or close to it, and people are likely to do crazy things. Being prepared to defend yourself is part of the survivalist mindset.

Obviously a firearm of some sort is best for this. (Though not in all situations) I will not go into specifics about what type of gun you should bring because that is hotly debated and really a personal choice. Take what is comfortable to you.

Outside of guns your survival knife could be used as weapon if you had to. Also something as simple as a big walking stick or club can be a strong deterrent for bad guys. It’s all about giving yourself options.

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Creative thinking should be natural.

We are all born creative. Creativity flows through us on its own, like breathing, and we know when the flow is strong.

It feels good, like we’re in plugged in and turned on. What we do becomes effortless, intrinsically motivating, more satisfying, and even warps our perception of time.

The problem is, you can sabotage your own creativity.

Certain habits and beliefs systems are damming to your creative current. If you get caught up in too many of them for too long, you may forget that you’re creative altogether.

Luckily, to get the river flowing again, all you need to do is step out of your own way.

If you give up even one of these, you’ll feel your creativity dramatically increase. And once your creative thinking starts flowing again, it becomes that much easier to give up the rest of the things on this list.

1) Surrounding Yourself With “Takers”

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

—  Maya Angelou

People who identify as being creative are almost always “Givers.”

They create, which means they produce and add value to the world. They give to those around them, because giving is just an honest expression of who they are. But a major weakness of “Givers” is that they are easily taken advantage of by “Takers.”

Takers are those who aren’t in connection with their capacity to give. Takers see someone who is constantly giving as an easy source to leech from.

Givers can easily get caught up in self-destructive relationships with Takers, because they feel like the Taker inspires them to continually create more, which feels like a challenge and growth.

But the reality is… it’s not a challenge; they are just being drained.

Maybe you can relate?

Instead of getting trapped in endless cycles with Takers, endeavor to surround yourself with other Givers. They’re easy to find because they resonate like you. They come from a place of service, not ego. And together, you will dramatically amplify the energy you both have.

So, identify the people in your life who take more than they give and start limiting the time you spend with those people.

You may find you have more to give in the end.

Bottom Line: When you give up Takers and instead surround yourself with other Givers, your potential together is infinite.

2) Mindless Thumb Scrolling

“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”

—  Henry David Thoreau

We live in a world of distractions. We carry around tiny supercomputers with us everywhere we go, and like any tool, we can use them to amplify our creativity or sabotage it.

In a new study by Flurry Analytics, it was reported that U.S. consumers now spend an average of 5 hours per day on their phones. Whether that’s streaming a new series or refreshing your Facebook feed, that time is almost never being used in a way that is in alignment with your highest creative goals.

So pay attention to your mobile habits, and see what this number is for you.

Chances are, it is higher than you’re comfortable admitting.

But, instead of totally cutting out this obsession from your life, replace it with your passions.

Use the time you already spend on your phone researching your project and reading the works of those you admire.

When you are passionate about something, bathe yourself in it. Obsess over it. Your passion is telling you where the source of your creative energy is and is giving you an easy access point to it.

Give up the mindless thumb scrolling and replace it with your passions. It will drain you less and give you new ways to access your creative energy.

Bottom Line: Give up mindless thumb scrolling and replace that time with your passions, so that even your procrastination time is in alignment with your creative goals.

3) Clinging to Your Past

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

—  Søren Kierkegaard

More times than not, we know what we should be doing. We know that if our goal is to write a book, we should be writing every day. We know if our goal is to be wealthy, we should be selling things every day.

The problem is, even though we know the habits that lead to our goals, if these habits are out of alignment with who we’ve always been, then we will feel tremendous resistance to them.

We will feel like they just aren’t us — or more accurately — they aren’t in alignment with who we have always been.

So, how do we take actions that serve our creative vision, when they go against how we have always been?

Give up your past. Give up the mask of who you’ve been. That person is gone. The only reason you still act as if that person is real, is because you choose each day to believe that they are. You recreate that person in every moment, which takes up energy you could be using to create who you need to be today.

So, stop using this energy to maintain your past. Let go of all that does not serve you. Be present with who you need to be in order to do what you want to do.

Not for anyone else, but for yourself.

Bottom Line: Give up your past. Reclaim the energy you spend recreating that person each day and use it to create who you want to become.

4) Trying to Be Original

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”

—  Ayn Rand

In a world of hyper-connectivity, we have hundreds of opportunities each day to compare ourselves to others. We see our friend’s achievements and can’t help but think about how we measure up.

As a creative, we take this one step further and relentlessly compare everything we create with others.

We feel an incessant need to be original.

To create a catchy phrase no one has ever read, or pen an idea no one has ever thought about before. But the truth is, humans have been around for about 6 million years and there aren’t many original ideas left — and there’s no way to prove an idea is original, anyways.

Which is why instead of seeking to be original, it is better to be authentic.

Sometimes, a person just needs to hear a lesson that has been told a hundred times over, from your own unique perspective. Through the lens of your story, from your perspective, in your voice.

Because it’s not about the lesson or how original the idea is that you want to share.

It’s about if someone out there is able to resonate with you when you’re being authentically you. That’s all it takes to change someone’s life.

Bottom Line: Give up comparing yourself to others and trying to be original — it is much better to be authentic.

5) Feeling Like the World Owes You Something

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

— Thomas Jefferson

Many creatives feel entitled. They are narcissistic. They think that others should prioritize them first and that the world revolves around them. Like the world owes them something, and that by virtue of being who they are, they deserve a reward.

Obviously, no one does this on purpose. This complex develops over time. But there is no quicker path to disempowerment than feeling entitled.

So, how do you identify whether or not you’re sabotaging your creativity by feeling entitled?

Check your expectations.

If you feel like you are owed a handout, or rely on hope to accomplish anything in life, you are feeling entitled.

The truth is, you are entitled to nothing. No one owes you anything. No privilege beyond life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

You are free to rely on yourself. You are free to assume responsibility for as much in your life as you possibly can. And only through this sense of radicalism, will you be able to create your own most desirable outcome and share its fruits with others — if you want to. But never assume that you are entitled to anything.

Give up entitlement and be grateful for what you have. Take control over what you can and let your greatness shine through in those small acts.

Bottom Line: Give up your entitlement and take responsibility for all aspects of your life — it will dramatically increase how much creative power you have.

6) Thinking Things Should Unfold in a Linear Way

“We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

—  Albert Einstein

The road from point A to point B is almost never a straight line. Our brains are built to piece together information subconsciously, which we could never consciously comprehend.

So, when your goal is to write a book, and you spend your time reading fiction, watching speeches on YouTube, and listening to your favorite albums — it’s easy to be quick to think linearly and judge yourself by assuming this is all procrastination.

But the truth is, you’re smarter than you think you are.

Your brain works non-linearly, and there is a direct correlation between how creative you are and how non-linearly you think.

Non-linear thinking can look sporadic at first. And when you set a goal, your brain will generate feelings and desires that will drive you through any number of random activities. But in these activities you will find different sources of learning, inspiration, and stimulation that can, and often do, directly and dramatically impact your progress in your original creative goal.

So, don’t be so critical that when you look back in your psychological rear-view mirror and you don’t see a straight line, you’re disappointed.

The path you’ve taken is your path for a reason. Use what you’ve learned.

Chances are, if you take the time to reflect and integrate, you have everything you need to get to point B quicker than you think.

Bottom Line: Give up linear thinking and let the dots connect themselves. Focus and follow your feeling to your destination.

7) Riding the Bandwagon

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

—  Robert Frost

There is no right way to live life. There is no moral absolute. But not everybody is lucky enough to be raised in an open-minded enough home to allow for this sort of radical acceptance.

Most of us fall into the trap of thinking there is a set list of things we can and should do with our lives. Go to school. Play nice. Make friends. Get good grades. Get a good job. Fall in love. Buy a home. Have children. Retire as soon as possible. Try not to linger in any of the transition phases. And cross your fingers that you’re satisfied at the end of the journey.

This type of cultural narrative doesn’t leave much room for things like creativity, travel, or experimentation.

And eventually, anyone who is serious enough about living an extraordinary and creative life realizes they need to hop off the bandwagon and take the road less traveled.

But then what?

There are no signs in this uncharted territory.

You have to get clear on your values and define your own ideal of success and endeavor to create a life as close to that as possible.

You have to use your fears as your compass. Realizing that at the end of the day, you’re the one who has to be happy with your choices.

Yes, giving up the bandwagon can be scary, but when you do, it can also be tremendously empowering. Like the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once penned, “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

Bottom Line: Give up the bandwagon, take the road less traveled, lead by example, and enjoy the dizziness of freedom.

8) Thinking So Big That You Paralyze Yourself

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

—  Henry David Thoreau

Much advice these days tells us to think big — bigger than anyone who has come before us.

The trouble with this is, the bigger the dream, the heavier the pressure we feel, and the denser our resistance is to taking the small actionable steps to create that dream. Because the first step on that journey always feels bigger in our hearts than it is in reality.

There is no shortage in the world of dreamers who sit still picturing their castle in the sky and never take the first step to building it.

This is why it is important that after you craft your big audacious dream, to think and act small. Very small.

This way you can build up positive momentum through the small accomplishments that carry you from day to day. Then your daily actions will grow, and what you accomplish in a single day will shadow the scope of the big dreams you once had.

So, yes. Dream big. Have visions that stretch the horizon. But think in small chunks and take small actions consistently.

Your castle is built one brick at a time, and if you spend all your time thinking about how big and grand it will be, you may never sit in it.

Bottom Line: Give up thinking big and instead act small but consistently. You will create a positive momentum that will carry you boldly and swiftly through the days between now and your big dream.

9) Searching for Guarantees

“You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.”

—  Bhagavad Gita

There is no guarantee in this life. No sure thing. No guaranteed tomorrow, and no guaranteed win.

Which is why you cannot use a guaranteed return-on-investment as your motivation to create. Because if you do, you risk not creating at all when the day comes (and it will) that you create something and nothing happens in response to it.

You have to give up your guarantees and create for the joy of the process itself, without giving thought to the fruits of your labors.

Honor the process of the creation and publish only as part of the process, expecting nothing to happen after the fact.

Once you do this, you will enjoy creating for the joy of the art itself and discover that, most often, it’s something you made months ago that gets you the return-on-investment you were guaranteeing yourself anyways.

Bottom Line: Give up guarantees and create for the joy of the process itself, and when you do your pleasure, an output will compound on itself.

Expand Your Creative Thinking

Whether it’s investing less energy in the wrong places, or increasing overall creative energy — the name of the game is generating more creative power and wielding it to create your best life.

Creative thinking should come naturally, and when you step out of your own way, it often does.

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Mix up your morning meal and try one—or a few—of these 5 healthy breakfast foods that help you lose weight.

Eating a morning meal is a healthy habit if you’re watching your weight. Research shows that regular breakfast eaters tend to be leaner and dieters are more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—when they eat breakfast. What’s more, people who do typically get more of some important nutrients, like fiber and vitamins.

1. Raspberries

A cup of raspberries delivers a whopping 8 grams of fiber (that’s more than double what’s in a cup of strawberries and about the same amount in a cup of some types of beans). What’s so great about all that fiber? Recent research in the Journal of Nutrition suggests eating more fiber as a way to prevent weight gain or even encourage weight loss. Over the course of the two-year study, the researchers found that boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories resulted in about 4 ½ pounds of weight lost.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal can help you lose weight in two ways. First, it’s packed with fiber and it keeps you feeling fuller longer. Second, a recent study in the reported that eating a breakfast made with “slow-release” carbohydrates—such as oatmeal or bran cereal—3 hours before you exercise may help you burn more fat. How? Eating “slow-release” carbohydrates doesn’t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates (think: white toast). In turn, insulin levels don’t spike as high. Because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower blood sugar levels may help you burn fat.

3. Yogurt

A recent report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and out of Harvard revealed which foods are correlated with weight change, including the top 5 foods that promote weight loss. Yogurt was one of them!. Another reason to eat yogurt: the protein in it may give you an extra edge if you’re looking to get leaner. When researchers fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet for 11 weeks, the mice that got water spiked with whey protein (a type of protein found naturally in yogurt and other dairy) packed on 42 percent less weight and nearly a third less body fat than the mice who just drank plain water, despite the fact that they ate roughly the same number of calories. The whey eaters also gained 7 percent more lean body mass (e.g., muscle mass). Save calories—and unnecessary sugar—by choosing plain yogurt. If you need a little extra sweetness, try fresh fruit (maybe raspberries?).

4. Peanut Butter

Nuts were also among the top 5 foods that Harvard researchers said promote weight loss. I love to slather a tablespoon or two of peanut butter onto whole-wheat toast (ahem, a “slow-release” carbohydrate), but you could also add nuts to your oatmeal (another “slow-release” carb).

5. Eggs

Eggs deliver protein, which is great for dieters. Compared to carbohydrates and fat, protein keeps you satisfied longer. Plus, in one study, dieters who ate eggs for breakfast felt fuller longer and lost more than twice as much weight as those who got the same amount of calories from a bagel for breakfast.

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Cutting down salt is just the beginning. Read on for tips on keeping your circulatory system healthy.

Go for a walk

Just a little exercise can make a difference. A Japanese study found that volunteers who exercised 30 to 90 minutes per week in a health club reduced blood pressure almost as much as those who had more than 90 minutes of sweat sessions every week. Try walking for 15 minutes every day to get the benefits.

Load up on potassium

Potassium—sometimes called the “un-salt”—can lower blood pressure, but less than 2 percent of Americans get the recommended 4.7 grams of potassium a day. Avocados pack in more potassium than any other fruit or veggie, including bananas, so add some to your sandwich or salad for an nutritional boost. Other potassium-rich foods include cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, spinach, and lima beans.

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When you start the day with a carb-heavy breakfast, the morning can sometimes drag, causing you to reach for that second cup of coffee. Try cutting down on carbs, and reach for one of these high-protein breakfast recipes instead. Whether you’re on a gluten-free, Paleo, or vegetarian diet, there’s a breakfast idea here to help you start your day energised and satisfied.

1. Egg White Frittata

Classic Mediterranean ingredients like peppers, onion, and spinach bring texture, flavour, and nutrition to actress Lea Michele’s frittata recipe, while egg whites and feta provide over 20 grams of protein. This low-calorie frittata is quick enough to come together on a weekday morning but elegant enough to serve to friends at a special weekend brunch.

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