Nutrients, Nutrition

Vitamin D

This is probably one of my favourite vitamins and one I struggle with personally the most. Having tanned skin, spending most of my time working from home and having two genetic SNPs (polymorphisms) in my vit. D receptors means that often my levels are sub-optimal – even with supplementation!

In fact, the moment I stop supplementing my vitamin D levels drop to deficiency or even “severe deficiency” levels (yup, just did my blood test a couple of weeks ago after taking a break from supplements and, surprise-surprise, my levels were so low my doc told me to get a D injection asap).

But more than just being classified as “deficient”, when my levels are low I begin to feel really fatigued, my mood is low, I struggle to focus and my muscles feel achy with minimal exertion. Why does this sun vitamin have such wide-reaching effects? Simply because it is essential for so many bodily functions, including:

  • Calcium & phosphorus balance 
  • Bone health
  • Hormone health
  • Immune function
  • Cardiovascular function
  • Nervous system function
  • Cell differentiation (& cancer prevention)
  • Insulin production & glucose tolerance
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Gene transcription & regulation of hundreds of genes*

*As you’ll find out in the Younger You book, vitamin D is a powerful DNA methylation adaptogen and an active demethylating nutrient, ensuring the right genes get turned on.

This fat-soluble vitamin is made in our skin and can be found in small amounts in:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Egg yolk

It’s best to assess vit. D status through a simple blood test and be aware that deficiency can produce profound signs & symptoms such as muscle & back pain, muscle weakness, high blood pressure, muscle cramps, achy bones & decreased bone density, insulin resistance & blood sugar imbalances, poor cognitive function, increased risk of infection (including viral infections), dysregulated & overactive immune function (autoimmunity) and the list can go on and on.

So do make sure you spend enough time out in the sun (15-30 mins will do) – it’s the quickest way to boost your vit. D levels!


  1. Lord R, Bralley J. Laboratory Evaluations For Integrative And Functional Medicine. Duluth, Ga: Genova Diagnostics; 2012.
  2. Higdon J. Vitamin A. Linus Pauling Institute. Published 2022. Accessed January 26, 2022.
Body Signs, Nutrition

The Body Signs Series – #2 Muscle Pain & Weakness

Are your muscles weak & achy, even if you haven’t exercised recently? Then you may consider checking your nutrient levels because:

  • Vitamin D is needed for muscle fibre (especially fast-twitch fibres) and cell protein synthesis, as well as optimal immune function, hormone & heart health. It is also an important epigenetic regulator that influences the expression of hundreds of genes. Other signs of deficiency include myofascial back pain, loss of muscle strength, bone tenderness & pain, hypotonia (poor muscle tone) and joint pain. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with accelerated ageing (btw did you know you can actually REVERSE ageing?).
  • Thiamin (vit. B1) is needed for the clearance of lactic acid and thus B1 deficiency can lead to muscle pain due to lactic acid build up. It is also needed for optimal function of the nervous system and so insufficiency can contribute to neurological pain and reduced signalling in muscle cells. Other signs of thiamin deficiency include glucose intolerance, tingling and numbness, increased heart rate, poor cognition (memory, confusion), poor coordination, burning feet syndrome, abnormal reflexes and more.
  • Dietary protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) necessary for muscle synthesis, amongst many other functions such as hormone & immunoglobulin production. Low intake of protein may not be the only reason for poor protein status – insufficient stomach acid and digestive enzymes can reduce the amount of protein our bodies absorb from our diet.

Of course, there are many other reasons why we may have achy, wobbly muscles. These include accelerated ageing, active viral infection (fever, etc.), chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid, autoimmune & neuromuscular conditions, prolonged bed rest and certain medications.


If possible, always check your nutrient status and speak with your healthcare provider before starting any supplementation.

Your body is talking, are you listening?

Body Signs

The Body Signs Series – #1 Cracked Tongue

Have you ever thought how impressive and intelligent our bodies are? Constantly ticking away, sensing and adapting to a whole host of internal and external inputs, and in the processes sending us a myriad of signs & clues about our state of health. Fascinating isn’t it?

In this new series of posts called ‘Body Signs’ we’ll learn how to decode our bodies’ messages from a nutrition perspective (and you’ll be surprised with some of the things we’ll uncover!) But why is learning to read our bodies important? Well, being aware of what is happening in our bodies can help steer our health in the right direction, ease our anxiety, motivate us to take better care of ourselves and build a better relationship with our bodies.

So let’s start with the tongue. It is often one of the first areas of the body to show signs of nutrient deficiencies. Although this sign may not tell us exactly what’s out of balance, it can help guide further assessments.

Both iron and B vits are necessary for energy production, hormone and neurotransmitter function, immune health and DNA repair. All of which are critical processes for our overall health.

Blood tests are usually used to determine iron deficiency, whereas B vitamin levels can be assessed either through blood (standard) or urine (functional) testing. The advantage of a urine test is that it tells us whether your body has enough nutrients to function optimally (vs. a set reference range on a blood test).

Of course, such assessments should never be viewed in isolation – there are a lot of tools we can use in combination to build a clear picture of our nutrition status (including these physical signs and biochemical assessments).

Your body is talking, are you listening?


Vitamin A

Did you know that there are 13 vitamins essential for life? They are essential because each one of them serves a whole host of important functions in the body.

Take for example Vitamin A. It is needed for:

  • Eyesight
  • Immune function
  • Bone growth
  • Skin integrity
  • Reproductive health
  • Optimal gene expression
  • Red blood cell production

This fat-soluble vitamin is found in animal foods as preformed vitamin A and in plant foods as its precursor – carotenoids.

Top sources include:

  • Beef liver
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Dark coloured veggies (spinach, kale, collards, etc.)

Vitamin A status can be tested through a simple serum (blood) test and deficiency can produce notable symptoms such as vision problems, poor immune function, skin and hair conditions, thyroid dysfunction + more (we’ll explore some of those in our Body Signs series).

Zinc and iron deficiencies are often associated Vitamin A deficiency (zinc is needed for vit. A metabolism, whereas vit. A is needed for iron metabolism).

For optimal absorption consume vitamin A and carotenoid-rich foods with healthy fats.


  1. Lord R, Bralley J. Laboratory Evaluations For Integrative And Functional Medicine. Duluth, Ga: Genova Diagnostics; 2012.
  2. Higdon J. Vitamin A. Linus Pauling Institute. Published 2022. Accessed January 7, 2022.

Calories and Optimal Food Intake – Part 2

In the Paul‘s last post we looked at the basics about calories and metabolism. Now let’s see how calories affect weight management:

Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain more, calories matter.

Calorie restriction is counterproductive and does not work because when you consume less energy than your body requires, the body adapts.

When you do not eat enough calories, the body has the ability to slow down thyroid hormone output in an effort to maintain energy balance. Your thyroid is responsible for fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism.

Your body will begin to hold onto fat stores because it is in starvation mode and instead uses muscle to provide energy. Muscle is highly calorie intensive to maintain and in a prolonged calorie deficit it is one of the first things that the body looks to get rid of, and in turn will further slow down your metabolism.


The body will also slow the digestive tract in an effort to conserve energy. The digestive tract is responsible for breaking down food to its simplest form so that the body can use the nutrients to function. When a person is not consuming enough calories the stomach empties slower and the lining of the intestinal tract can shrink.  The digestive tract can become so severely damaged that it cannot properly digest food, and this can lead to malnutrition and electrolyte imbalances.

Not only is a restricted calorie diet not the ideal way to lose body fat, it can actually cause negative side effects in other ways, and even increase your fat storage!

When you are under stress both physically and psychologically (a reduced calorie diet creates stress on the body), the body secretes a hormone called cortisol. The primary function of cortisol is to convert amino acids found in the muscles into glucose (blood sugar) to give the body extra energy to overcome the stress.

In a way, this means more ‘sugar’ is produced by the body as a reaction to stress. When cortisol is chronically elevated it makes the body think it needs to store fat around the waist, so that it will have a source of easily accessible energy. High cortisol also makes you unable to make rational food choices, by activating the part of the brain that makes you crave pleasurable foods.

In short, restricting calories can ultimately make the body react in the same way it reacts to stress – by conserving energy stores as fat (the opposite of what you want to achieve) and causing you to crave more (probably sugary) comfort foods.

Time to Eat - Clock

Another hormone that is affected by a restricted calorie diet is insulin. In a healthy body, insulin behaves like a key that opens the door of the cell so that glucose can move from the blood, and be pushed into the cells where it is either burned or stored as fat. Insulin plays a primary role in managing body composition by mediating fat burning and energy levels and is thereby involved in the development of lean tissue.

When you don’t eat you experience ‘low blood glucose’. In reaction to this, adrenaline is released to elevate the blood sugar and keep you going. This leads to spikes in blood glucose and insulin, causing insulin resistance.

Constant spikes of insulin (also caused by the consumption of simple carbohydrates or sugars) can eventually result in insulin resistance. This occurs when your cells are less affected by insulin and the receptors don’t properly bind with insulin. In other words, the body is desensitized to insulin. Insulin then does not properly function as a key to the door of the cell, and the energy gets stored as body fat.

In conclusion, the bottom line is that restricting calories really doesn’t help your mental or physical health. Focus on the quality of your food and not the quantity, rather than reducing calorie intake to reduce body fat. Begin by consuming more calories to build up lean tissue and speed up the metabolism, and then restrict calories to better reduce body fat.

Here are a few more tips for optimizing your daily calorie intake:

  • Eat frequent meals 5-6 times a day.
  • Have ready to eat meals available.
  • Don’t wait until you are hungry to eat.
  • Add good clean fat.
  • Invest in a good protein powder.
  • Eat calorie dense foods.

By Paul Magnus



Food, Food and, Yes, More Food!

Allow me to introduce my latest contributor.

Kevin Cooper, Personal Trainer and Business Manager at Pinnacle Performance has been running in the fitness industry “marathon” since 2001. “Lots has been learned and more to be achieved” is his comment when asked to describe himself.

I am very excited that Kevin will share his vast insights. Intense, focused, humorous and above all knowledgeable. Kevin will say it as it is. Welcome aboard Kevin.



So much to say such little time or space, undoubtedly the most controversial topic out there when it comes to the industry….

What to eat ? What time? And why? Well to put it as basically as possible and for those of us that have some sort of idea about this black hole we call nutrition, the rules are trial and error based. Take ownership of it and learn to take basic guidelines and perfect them, the most intensive content out there might be unbelievable to me but not work at all for the next person.

Trial and error, ladies and gents, that’s the beauty of this game and all variables that you can imagine get broken down to a term we love to use – “it depends”.

Depends on the following:

Meal one time:

  • Is meal one carbohydrate dominant?
  • Is meal one more fat than protein?
  • Is meal one a stimulant like coffee?
  • Is meal one a mix of all forms?

An absolute no-fail choice that works for most, yes not for everyone, is to start your day off with a protein and fat meal. A simple choice will be scrambled eggs drizzled with olive oil. Easy yet effective. Don’t be scared of the yellow yolks that contain 9 essential amino acids! Get it in and enjoy risk-free taste and texture.

Once meal one is behind you keep meal timing down to max 4 hour intervals to ensure you send a consistent signal to your body of maintenance in energy and consumption through food. This will in turn ensure that your body does not create a storage pattern of energy. Instead it sends signals of absorbing and processing of food.

Keep up the protein+fat mix and consume a serving of a carbohydrate-based meal, like sweet potato for post workout only. This in turn creates an insulin sensitivity signal so that the carb can be utilized more effectively. And a greater percentage of it can be utilized in the body in that post workout phase.

So, many variables and one can successfully say that breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. It’s the first signal to your body of the day.

So the question is will protein and a fat be more beneficial than a carb start ?

Here we go …. it depends … How do you feel post meal? How does the meal effect your energy levels?  What’s the effect of the meal on your digestion? Etc etc etc.

One sure conclusion that can be drawn is the simple fact of when you consume a certain food first thing in the morning it sends a signal that depicts the rest of your day – guaranteed.

Stay away from carbs till post workout. Be sure to consume them when they are going to be utilized fully. We will certainly delve deeper into this subject as your understanding of your own body commences.

This is where taking control of your meals comes in. It is never easy but I can vouch for the fact that it is well worth it.

This is certainly an easier read on this topic, however get the ABC right the first time and it will make the outcome much more simple yet effective.

Your time is now, go get it and own your results from start to finish!



Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Protein Balls

When looking for quick fix which can help me keep up with my protein intake I make this ever so easy snack balls. You can add honey, maple, agave syrup or sweetener of your choice but for me less is more 😉

All you need is:

  • 2 TBS of organic peanut butter (I use organic, plain)
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (I used vanilla) any will do
  • 1 handful of goji berries (optional) any berries or raisins



Mix all the ingredients together and form into small balls

Refrigerate for 30 min and enjoy!


Spice Up Your Life

By Adrianna McDonald

Many people think that when you want to lose weight or you are on a “diet”, either for bodybuilding or athletic competition, your food has to be bland and boring. But it doesn’t have to be! To make your food tasty use herbs and spices. You will not only get the flavour but also boost your health through the many benefits of herbs & spices.

Here are few of my favourites:

  1. Turmeric

Studies have shown that curcumin, the compound in turmeric responsible for its orange colour, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Use certified organic (non-irradiated) turmeric in lower doses on a daily basis so that large doses won’t be necessary later in life after a serious disease sets in. Nourishing yourself, rather than self-medicating with ‘nutraceuticals’, should be the goal of a healthy diet.

Here are some more benefits of adding turmeric to your meals:

  • It may reduce the risk of heart attack
  • It eases joint pain
  • It delays the onset of type 2 diabetes
  • It can help improve memory in dementia patients
  • It can even help slow or stop the growth of cancer cells
  • It prevents unwanted weight gain
  • And finally, turmeric controls triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and terminates accumulation of harmful fats
  1. Coriander

Coriander is unique in that it’s both a herb (the leaves) and a spice, the latter coming from coriander seeds, which are dried and used  whole or ground as powder.

Both coriander seeds and leaves have traditionally been used to:

  • Reduce gas in the stomach and intestines
  • Stimulate digestion and treat spasms of smooth muscles, such as your stomach.

The leaves were widely used as an appetite stimulant and they were also eaten or applied externally to the chest to treat chest pain and cough.


  1. Garlic

This is the most known and recognized disease fighting herb that also happens to be a culinary delight.

Garlic grows easily out of left over cloves. You can put it in your favorite meals, make garlic chicken soup, crush fresh garlic in a salad, it is indeed very versatile! It can lose potency when heated above 130 degrees, but avoid consuming too much raw garlic unless you want to risk gastrointestinal problems.

  • Garlic is antimicrobial and kills viruses and bacteria without disrupting intestinal flora (in moderate doses).
  • It is very effective against cold or flu viruses and more effective than penicillin against infections.

Any kind of meat or fish tastes amazing when garlic is added. I personally love it mixed with mashed vegetables.

  1. Ginger

People have been experiencing the many health benefits of ginger for ages; it is time that you see it as more than just an ingredient for your dishes, but also as a powerful natural remedy.

I must say it’s definitely a favourite of mine. Simply cut a piece out and add it to hot water with lemon to relieve the following:

  • Heartburn/acid reflux/GERD
  • Pain
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy Nose or Nasal Congestion
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Toothache
  • Headaches
  • Inflammation
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling

Ginger is also good for:

  • Cancer protection
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Helping with diseases caused by or fueled by inflammation such as arthritis, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, numerous cancer types, cardiovascular disease, and more.


  1. Cinnamon


True cinnamon is usually labelled as “Ceylon cinnamon” and comes principally from Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean.  Cassia, on the other hand, is often designated as “Chinese cinnamon” or “Saigon cinnamon” and comes principally from Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea.

Cinnamon is popular for its significant ability to gain control over fluctuating or rising blood sugar. I love sprinkling it in my coffee or over roasted sweet potatoes.

  • Cinnamon has been shown to normalize blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics by improving the ability to respond to insulin
  • It lowers cholesterol
  • It supports healthy blood clotting
  • It fights bacteria and fungus
  • It boosts memory and protects the brain
  • It improves digestion

So next time head to the supermarket rather than your local pharmacy!



Adrianna on: Cravings vs. Addiction

By Adrianna McDonald

About cravings…

All humans at one point or another in their life experience food cravings. Women are especially susceptible because of the hormonal changes throughout their monthly cycle or other stages in their life (pregnancy, menopause). You get this strong desire for a taste of something very specific either it is sugary, salty, sour or fatty. And when you’re in the middle of a craving, it feels like nothing else can be done to satisfy that urge.

Sugar is the most common food craving and the most addictive. This is the result of a complex hormonal reaction, often triggered by the very same foods you crave.

“Sugar acts directly in the brain to inhibit the effect of leptin and increased appetite so you never feel full. So then you keep eating, and you become leptin-resistant 
 What you need to do is break the addiction by detoxing the liver, which has stopped metabolizing fat properly. Sugar consumption causes fat to build up in liver cells, which decreases the liver’s ability to metabolize fats and sugars and detoxify your body.” -Dr.Oz

Another, and more common, reason for cravings is emotional eating. We tend to turn to food in times of boredom, stress and loneliness. So your emotional health, whether you’re eating as a distraction, a reward or to help fill a missing void in your life, must be dealt with in order to successfully resist cravings for unhealthy foods.

junk food

How are cravings different from addiction?

“Addiction is an overpowering craving to repeatedly engage in an activity that provides temporary relief often with adverse consequences.”

It’s something you feel you must do, despite its harmful consequences. Withdrawal is a big part of addiction as well as the feelings of discomfort, distress, and intense cravings.

There are different types of addiction:

  • some eat too much
  • some don’t eat enough
  • some people even have an addiction to restriction

For a food addict, food provides the fun, entertainment, control, reassurance, or love that’s missing in their life. It may also help to numb difficult emotions like fear and sadness.

Dealing with addiction is your responsibility even though you may not be responsible for having it. There are few necessary steps to treat addiction:

  • If you feel social pressure remove yourself of that situation. Our behaviour depends heavily on social and environmental cues. We can adjust our behaviour by adjusting cues from our routine and environment. Avoid people, places, and things that trigger addiction.
  • In dealing with emotions we use food as a coping mechanism thinking it will help resolve the problem. Learn to deal with boredom, loneliness, anger, lack of stimulation and lack of purpose for example and you will learn how to cope with addiction.
  • Many addictions stem from uncontrolled stress combined with food restriction. If these two factors can be controlled, food addiction might also be controlled.


Cravings die as a side effect of changing our life and identity. You can try meditation, tapping (Emotional Freedom) techniques or any other type of relaxation methods. Even though most people are not addicts by choice, we can choose to abstain in order to recover and stop the addiction. In this case, freedom comes when we give up effort to control the substance and become abstinent.

Abstinence means willingness to face discomfort and withdrawal symptoms in the beginning. The longer you remain abstinent, the more the biological urges for the substance fade.

The biggest part of recovery lies in managing the stress and knowing your triggers. It is also important to add a meaning and purpose for it to work and it has to be part of your internal beliefs, priorities and values.

How to handle it?

  • Try make this structural and foundational changes :
  • Change physical environment
  • Build a social support system
  • Decrease life stress
  • Learn to tolerate discomfort
  • Change routine and schedule to favour positive behaviours, and diminish the chances for negative behaviours ( more sleep, take activities that conflict with the addictive behaviour, etc.)
  • Exercise especially intense workout on a regular basis is one of the best “cures” for food cravings
  • The less processed food you eat on daily basis the less cravings you going to experience
  • Keep yourself busy and try to avoid boredom



Adrianna on: Macronutrients vs Calories

By Adrianna McDonald

You may wonder is a calorie just calorie? Do I eat whatever I want as long I’m in a calorie deficit? Well, lets make it clear

Calories are indeed a measure of energy and weight, change depends on the balance between: energy in vs energy out.

Energy out can be:

  • physical activity
  • energy to keep you alive at rest BMR (basal metabolic rate)
  • energy added to the body like amino acids to muscle, and fat to fat tissues
  • energy lost in waste (bathroom stuff)
  • energy used to digest the food you eat

Energy in can be:

  • How many calories were in the food you ate

blog image

However, energy in is just as complex as energy out, because of the energy cost of digesting food. For example, some food (celery, cucumber) is considered negative calories as it takes more energy to break down and absorb it. It needs the calories to chew, swallow, make the acid in the stomach, make the enzymes for peristalsis (rhythmic muscular contractions) that drives the food through.

Around 10% goes to daily energy expenditure digesting and absorbing food, but this percentage changes depending on the type of food you eat.

Protein takes the most energy to digest followed by carbohydrates and then fats.

Some research advocates that eating whole food takes more energy to digest than processed food!

Processed food takes less energy to digest and absorb compared to whole foods, so 100 calories of processed food ends up being more net calories than 100 calories of whole food.

If you’re trying to lose weight and stay healthy be wise and eat whole foods.

So yes you can eat “junk” and loose weight (at least at the beginning).

Bottom line is – if you just eat for calories and predominantly “junk food” you most probably will be missing out on micronutrients.

blog image 3

When you’re missing key vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals, your body doesn’t work properly. You feel terrible (mod, appearance, energy). Immunity goes down. And you get sick!

Human bodies are dynamic, complex, organic, and sensitive systems.

What we eat isn’t necessarily what we absorb as all food isn’t created equal. There are many factors impacting our digestion, and use of the food we eat.

This means that the fuel, or calorie, value of food outside the body isn’t going to have the same value inside the body.

We are all “unique” and we have an individual gut flora called the “microbiome”, just like our unique fingerprint. Changing our gut flora changes our digestion and absorption, and hence our body composition and health.

Every food choice is an opportunity to direct, shape, and remake our health. Our body composition. Our performance. Our well-being.