Tag: calories

For a Short Bout of Exercise – Take the Stairs

For a Short Bout of Exercise – Take the Stairs

 

To take the stairs or not to take the stairs… that is the question.

I was recently on jury duty, and the courtroom that we were in was on the seventh floor, so I rode up and down the elevator many times during the day, many days in a row. What I found interesting was that many of the people were riding the elevator up or down for one just one floor.  Definitely an opportunity missed…

In a recent study, British researchers confirmed that some exercise is better than nothing.

Researchers found that for sedentary people, even a few minutes of daily stair climbing – a vigorous but easily accessible form of exercise – can improve cardiovascular health.

Previous studies have shown that accumulating short bouts of exercise can make a difference; this one shows just how short those bouts can be.

Twenty-two sedentary college-aged women walked up 199 steps – more than you’re likely to find at home, but doable in a high-rise – in 2.25 minutes, a “brisk but comfortable” pace which shot their heart rates up to 90 percent of their predicted maximum.

They progressed from one ascent per day during the first week to six ascents per day, for a total of 13.5 minutes over the course of a day, during the sixth and seventh weeks.

By the end of this modest exercise program, the women were measurably more fit: Heart rate, oxygen uptake and blood lactate levels during climbing were reduced, and their HDL (”good”) cholesterol levels had increased.  Source: Preventive Medicine, 2000; 30, 4, 277-281 via acefintess.org

My husband has been on a stair climbing kick lately, because he is so busy at work, he has no time for the gym. He works on the 10th floor of his building, and takes the stairs up and down at least once a day. Now, I’m not saying that his weight loss is 100% because of the stairs (some of it is because his awesome wife only serves healthy food), but he has lost over 30 pounds in the last year or so.

Make a new rule – three flights of stairs or less, skip the elevator and hoof it.

Superbowl Sunday – Hooray Food!

Superbowl Sunday – Hooray Food!

Can you believe The Super Bowl is this Sunday. As disappointed as I am that the Broncos will not be there, I am still looking forward to the food. Every Fitness/Diet/Nutrition/Health related website has recipe tips for the big day. I thought I would throw mine into the mix also.

Anytime we go to someone’s house with food in hand, my husband doesn’t want me to bring anything that tastes or looks too healthy. I guess he feels like I am fanatical enough about food, that I don’t need to subject our friends to “that” kind of food.
So especially on Sunday, I have to bring something great. But I also want it to be healthy, even if I have to mask it as indulgent.
Here are a few recipes I am considering, and they can all be made ahead of time.

Southwestern Layered Bean Dip

1 16-ounce can nonfat re fried beans, preferably “spicy”
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
4 scallions, sliced1/2 cup prepared salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup jalapeño slices, chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack, or Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup zero fat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped1 medium avocado, chopped
1/4 cup canned sliced black olives, (optional)

Preparation

Combine re fried beans, black beans, scallions, salsa, cumin, chili powder and jalapeños in a medium bowl. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with cheese. Microwave on High until the cheese is melted and the beans are hot, 3 to 5 minutes.Spread yogurt evenly over the hot bean mixture, then scatter with lettuce, tomato, avocado and olives (if using).
Nutrition Per serving:
146 calories; 7 g fat (3 g sat, 3 g mono); 12 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 5 g fiber; 288 mg sodium; 164 mg potassium.
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Creamy Spinach Dip (notice the veggies as dippers)

1 small shallot, peeled
1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed
1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel)
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 ounces baby spinach
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preparation

Pulse shallot and water chestnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pulse until just combined. Add spinach and chives and pulse until incorporated.
Nutrition Per 1/4-cup serving:
54 calories; 3 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 10 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber; 222 mg sodium; 102 mg potassium
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Chocolate Crunch

1 cup Wheat Chex cereal,
(2 ounces)1 cup pretzel sticks broken in half,
(2 ounces)1/4 cup raw almonds,
(2 1/2 ounces)3 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
Preparation
Combine Chex, pretzels and almonds in a medium bowl.
Drizzle with melted chocolate; stir to combine. Spread the mixture on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Tip: To melt chocolate: Microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium in 20-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Or place in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.
Nutrition Per serving:
218 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 397 mg sodium; 176 mg potassium
Power Up With Protein

Power Up With Protein

Protein is the building block for muscle, and since the body can’t save it for later like carbohydrates and fat, it’s important to keep a constant stream coming, so the muscles stay strong and healthy. Protein construction is a never ending process, so if it doesn’t get a new supply often, the body will break down muscle from elsewhere in order to rebuild damaged areas – stealing from the biceps to pay the triceps.

In order to keep this thievery at bay, it is important to ingest protein throughout the day, and the two key times to get a protein fix are 30 minutes after waking up and 30 minutes after working out.

Wake up and smell the protein. We hear it all the time, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and come to find out protein is a critical component. If there’s any time the body is craving to get some much needed replenishment, it’s after being deprived of protein for the whole night. The body is hungry for nutrients, and protein is a fast way to break the fast. It’s also an instant metabolism boost, because eating protein requires extra energy to digest, which means the body burns more calories digesting it than carbohydrates and fats .

Equally as important is getting some protein after exercise. Following a training session, the body is a tiny bit damaged at the cellular level, and it needs time to repair this damage in order to get stronger. For the body to do this, it needs a little help from its friend, protein, so it can get the raw materials to rebuild and recover . By taking in protein (20 grams or so) within 30 minutes after exercise, the body gets the nutrients it needs to recover without breaking down its own muscle tissue. Friends don’t let friends lose muscle.

Good sources of protein are eggs, turkey bacon, soy protein, raw nuts, or cottage cheese. Fish, beans, lean beef, and chicken are great alternatives as well, but may not be so appetizing for breakfast. The quickest and easiest “whey” to get protein is by chugging down a protein shake, as it is absorbed faster than solid foods. Power to the protein!

Timing is everything. A dose of protein 30 minutes after waking up and 30 minutes after working out will help to keep the body strong and healthy by preserving muscle tissue and giving the metabolism a boost.

Secrets of weight training

Secrets of weight training

Weight training is the new cardio.  I don’t think it is a replacement for cardio, but the benefits of weight training are endless… for men and women.

I love weight training, and I have been doing it for over 12 years. I am always learning new ways to maximize my workouts and my results. Just walk into a bookstore, or browse online and you’ll find hundreds of books all ready to teach you how to gain the benefits of weight training, but there are a few steps you should adhere to no matter what your goals. These steps will ensure optimal results from you weight training activities.

Step # 1: Make your workouts short. Weight training programs should never last more than one hour. Remember, you’re placing stress on the muscles as you lift weights. An hour is the maximum time to exercise without causing stress and possible injuries.

Step # 2: Make your workout intense. During weight training sessions one of your goals should be to challenge your body, so it adapts by building new muscle cells and burning body fat. If you are going to take the time to lift weights, really make it worth your while. I had a football coach tell me that the last rep should look like the first rep.  This little tip helped me to make sure my intensity was at full throttle throughout the entire set.  The last rep won’t feel like the first one, as there is a pretty good chance it will be painful (in a good way) and exhausting, but if you keep good form and intensity, it will show in your results.

Step #3: Consistently change your weight training routines. Regardless of whether you are trying to burn fat, improve sports performance, boost your metabolism, get more tone, or become a body builder, change is a must. To reach your goals most effectively and work smarter, you must constantly challenge your body. Your body can adapt very quickly to repetitive routines week after week. Adding more weight, changing the routine and changing the number of repetitions are all excellent ways to keep change in your weight training workouts.You should change your workout routine at least every four weeks, but you can mix it up every week if you prefer.

 

Restaurant Rules for Healthy Living

Restaurant Rules for Healthy Living

For many families, eating out has become the norm, and while dining out can be fun, convenient and even necessary at times, it can also be bad for your waistline.

For those who dine out frequently, the goal should be to eat foods you enjoy but not consuming too many calories, fat, sugar, or sodium.

Consider all the foods you eat over a few days, rather than one meal at a time. For example, if you eat a 16 ounce prime rib with a loaded baked potato when eating out, make up for it by eating a few lighter, smaller meals at home. It will take dedication to some rules, but it is possible to dine out and still keep on the healthy track. Here are some ideas to keep in mind next time you order off a menu!

  • Read the menu before you go to avoid impulse ordering. Most every restaurant has an online menu, and many also have nutritional info. It’s also a way to be sure the restaurant has appealing, suitable choices.

 

  • Share a main course with a friend. Or, if you can’t take food home at that moment, have an appetizer in place of an entree. I have a friend who will even order a kid’s meal for herself.

 

  • Say yes to water and no to bread, especially if you’re hungry. Satisfying your thirst will take the edge off your hunger. So will eating bread, but the caloric impact is much, much different. If you can’t resist the bread, please resist the butter!

 

  • Remember drinks have calories too. Five ounces of wine has about 100 calories; 12 ounces of regular beer, about 150, and a 5-ounce Cosmopolitan, about 260. I’m not saying not to enjoy a cocktail… or two, but just know your numbers.

 

  • Have salads and broth-based (not cream-based) soup as starters. They’re usually lower in calories and more filling than items on the appetizer list. That’s especially true at chains, where so many appetizers are fried.

 

  • Don’t hesitate to ask if sides or sauces can substituted; request others that are more suitable for you. For example a honey mustard may be a better choice than a ranch. Marinara is going to be a better choice than Alfredo.

 

  • Plan to take food home if portions are large. Stop at the halfway point and ask for a box. Bonus—you have yummy left overs for your next meal.

 

  • Plan your splurges. If you’ve been craving your favorite chocolate cheesecake for weeks, tighten your belt for a couple of days to compensate… and then go for it.

 

Fuel Up – What To Eat Before You Workout

Fuel Up – What To Eat Before You Workout

Plenty of energy and a calm stomach are two keys to a great workout.

Not sure what and when to eat before you exercise? Here are a few of my faves that have ideal amounts of carbs and protein to keep you fueled up. Bonus—they’re easy to prepare.

Oatmeal: It settles well and provides long-lasting energy, while added fruit will hit the bloodstream quickly to get you going. I add a scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of flaxseed to mine with a slash of milk to cool it down.

A whole-wheat bagel with jam: “Simple carbs burn quickly, like paper, while complex carbs burn like wood and take a little longer to provide energy. An easy-to-digest whole-grain bagel with jam or a drizzle of honey combines both types of carbs. It’s an easy way to fuel your workout from start to finish.

Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt contains substantial protein and carbs, and less sugar than the regular kind, and unless you’re lactose intolerant, it’s easy on the stomach, which is ideal before intense activity or bouncing exercises like Zumba or plyometrics. Add fruit, honey, or ¼ cup of whole-grain cereal for an extra energy kick.

Protein shake with added carbs: Premade protein shake mixes are an easy on-the-go snack, and a good way to reap protein’s benefits while adding carbs to stay energized. Aim for a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio with 10 to 20 grams of protein. I use a shake powder with water (juice is also a good choice), and a banana or other fruit to provide carbs.

Brown rice with chicken: If you tend to exercise later in the day, try to avoid rich, fatty foods. Although a simple dish of brown rice with chicken may be a little bland, it sits well and provides a good amount of carbs and protein. Brown rice is a much better source of complex carbs than is white rice.

Bread with cheese or egg: A slice of whole-wheat bread with low-fat cheese, is easy on the stomach too, and it provides protein and slow-release carbs. Or, as an alternative, top toast with scrambled eggs.

Timing is everything. Even the best foods can come back to haunt you mid-workout if not allowed to properly digest, so it’s best to eat 30 minutes to an hour before you work out—longer after heavy meals. While certain foods settle well and hit the bloodstream quickly, exercising on a full stomach can still make you feel sluggish. Worse, it can cause stomach cramps, because exercise pulls blood away from stomach to the muscles.

If you can’t wait more than 45 minutes between meal and workout, remember that it’s always better to have a small snack (easily digestible, simple-carb snack like yogurt or fruit) rather than exercise on an empty stomach, and then and eat a full meal after exercising.

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