Tag: eat right

The Granola Bar – Friend or Foe?

The Granola Bar – Friend or Foe?

Today is National Granola Bar Day, but while ingredients like caramel, chocolate, and marshmallows may be must haves in candy, these sugary, high fat ingredients have found a new place to hang out. It’s time to take a closer look at the granola bar label.

Granola bars have become an on-the-go meal option for busy people, athletes, and outdoor lovers. The word granola may conjure up thoughts of healthy oats, grains, and nuts all nicely molded into an easy to eat bar, but many granola bars are glorified high-calorie cookies.

In the quest for a quick, healthy, satisfying snack, a granola bar may be at the top of the list, but snackers beware. The seemingly innocent bars may have a pretty shiny wrapper bragging about being an excellent source of this or that, but what lies beneath may be an over-processed nutritional mess.

Quaker Oats and General Mills lead the way as the most popular brands of granola bars, and while they may be the kings of the supermarket isle, they rank low in the hierarchy of good nutrition.  Averaging  25 ingredients, 12 grams of sugar, and many even coated in chocolate, these babies can be the equivalent of a eating a candy bar.

Similar to candy bars or cookies, many of the bars have high fructose corn syrup which is linked to weight gain, and insulin resistance, hydrogenated oils ,known to raise bad cholesterol ,  and monosodium glutamate (MSG)  which has been shown in lab tests to affect the regulation of hypothalamic appetite suppression (read: it makes you feel hungry again), which links it to obesity and type 2 diabetes .

It’s like the Bermuda triangle of bad nutrition, and not only are they a mouthful to pronounce, but also a mouthful of ingredients that offer no nutritional benefit and may be hazardous to health.    

The number of granola bars on the market   has exploded over the past few years, and with the focus shifting to healthier ingredients it’s possible to choose a healthy option. But reading the nutritional information is key to making the best choices, and the more recognizable the ingredients the better.

Many granola bars are fortified with vitamins and minerals, and while fortification is not a replacement for eating a well-balanced diet [6] it can help to make up for nutrients that may be lacking .  

Look for bars that are high in fiber (at least 5 grams), as it slows down the time it takes to empty the stomach (read: it keeps you feeling full longer), and it can reduce bad cholesterol . Try for at least 14 grams per day (depending on age and caloric intake).

There is a reason why some granola bars taste as sweet as a cookie, so checking for sugar and fat is the next step in making a healthy choice. Look for bars that have around  25% of the calories from sugar and 3 grams  of fat or less.

Don’t forget to check the serving size, which influences the number of calories and all the nutrient amounts listed on the label. When the serving size says two, it doubles all the numbers, but chances are it won’t keep hunger at bay twice as long.

While many granola bars are nutritional land mines, choosing a simple granola bar packed with nutrients and fiber will be more satisfying than a bar loaded with fat, sugar, and a bunch of ingredients from science experiment gone awry.

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.

The Fab Five Must Haves for Losing Weight

The Fab Five Must Haves for Losing Weight

 

The Fab Five Must Haves for Losing Weight:

 

Diet: Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is the most important factor to lose weight. We all have a daily nutritional requirement and anything extra gets stored as fat. Diets are highly individual, but all diets should provide sufficient food throughout the day, plenty of options to choose from and should be balanced in providing nutrients. Your diet shouldn’t be some random plan that you saw online or heard your neighbor talking about, but it should be a plan made according to your current diet, routine, and habits. If you dislike raw veggies and work at a job that doesn’t allow you to snack throughout the day, a diet that requires eating veggies every two hours is just not going to be successful.

 

Exercise: It is difficult to get maximum weight loss results without a workout. Yes, you could probably control your diet and calories, but it takes longer to lose weight, and what do you think is under those layers of fat? When you exercise you build muscle, which creates a tone fit body underneath. When the fat goes, the muscle shows. Without it, you will probably get SSS – Saggy Skin Syndrome. Diet helps you lose the weight, but exercise gets you into shape. Exercise burns calories, burns fat, increases your metabolic rate and flexibility, and helps to increase your endurance.

 

Motivation: Diet and exercise are the most important but being motivated is an absolute requirement. If you are used to eating whatever you want, once you start restricting your choices, cravings and feelings of deprivation set it. Motivation is what gets you through. Motivation is also highly individual. What motivates me may not make sense to you, so it’s gut check time to figure out what’s going to be your motivation. Only you can decide.

 

Stress: Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and the body. And for many people, eating and stress go hand in hand. There are those who eat when they are stressed, and on the flip side, those who can’t eat because they are so stressed. Both are bad. The first step to reducing stress is to recognize it and accept it. Then take steps to minimize it… this can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths or getting up from your desk and walking outside for a few minutes. Or it might require something more involved like a day at the spa or a yoga class.

 

Sleep: Sleep is essential for weight loss. The body needs to recover and reboot. Crazy sleep patterns will decrease the efficiency and recovery time for the body. Sleep also regulates the hormones that stimulate appetite and control hunger, so even the best diet and exercise plan can get derailed if you don’t get enough sleep.

Patience — The Secret to Losing Weight

Patience — The Secret to Losing Weight

 

One of the most important ingredients for losing weight and becoming healthy and fit is patience.

The subject of patience has come up quite a bit lately with some of the moms that I coach.  Moms can be awesomely patient with their kids, husbands, other moms, etc. But one thing that moms don’t have a lot of patience for is waiting for weight loss results.

One of my moms started eating a healthy lower calorie diet, and after one week started lamenting about how she has not dropped a single pound. Another mom told me that she has tried weight training in the past but never saw any results. 

Many people have been led astray when it comes to the amount of time it can take to lose weight and see results. One of my favorite shows is The Biggest Loser. But when my 150 pound client doesn’t understand why she isn’t losing 16 pounds a week like many of the contestants, it can be frustrating. Who doesn’t want quick results? So becoming fit and healthy the right way can be a bit frustrating. 

Here is the (possibly harsh) reality — you will not lose 10 pounds in a few days, maybe not even in a few weeks.  You may not see any noticeable muscle definition for weeks, or months if you have a lot of body fat to lose.

So, knowing that patience is important…. Keep on going until you see results!  Continue to eat a healthy, reduced calorie diet and exercise with cardio and strength training until you see results.

Results can be measured by numbers on the scale, muscle definition, increased strength, increased endurance, and the fit of your clothes.  By the time you start seeing results, a healthy diet and exercise plan will be an integral part of your life, and you won’t want to give it up.

On the flip side, if you don’t keep on truckin’ until you see results, a habit of healthy eating and exercise will never take hold.

Getting healthy and losing weight doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take time. Unfortunately time is not something most people have a lot of. 

Ironically, it’s easy to end up wasting a lot of time, spending too much time doing one thing, not enough time doing important things, or wasting time doing anything and everything but the right thing. And when it feels as though our effort does not match the results, it can be easy to give up.   

Here are 3 simple steps to help you make the most of your time.   

Take more time to eat less. Eating right takes time. The whole process starts with grocery shopping. If you don’t shop well, you can’t except to eat well. Next you have to prepare the food and do whatever it takes to make sure you have healthy food with you at all times. Packing lunches and snacks are a vital part of avoiding temptation. Paying closer attention to calories and portion sizes will also require some time, but the payoff is huge.    

 Take less time to exercise more. This is the quality vs. quantity dilemma. Many people invest a lot of time in what they would call exercise but is often just increased activity. Although activity is good for your health, it’s not as effective for weight loss. Many people are just going through the motions and wasting a lot of time doing minimal effort. Really burn some calories by turning a long morning stroll into a purposeful power walk. If you do weights, train at a higher intensity with less rest in between. You don’t have to spend three hours at the gym every day. Commit to one powerful hour three to five days a week and make every minute count! The more quality time you invest, the greater the reward.  

Take the time to make sure you are not wasting time. This is a biggie. People spend a lot of time and energy on things that don’t work. Fad diets, weight loss gimmicks, books and fitness magazines often lead you to believe weight loss can be easy. It’s our human nature to try the easy way first. In the end, we just waste a lot of time trying to avoid the inevitable. Other people struggle because they completely go it alone with no guidance at all. A person who is basically guessing their way through their fitness program is doomed. Don’t waste your time floundering around aimlessly. Invest a little time initially to be properly guided. Diet and exercise does work. If you take time to understand why and how it works, you’ll be a lot more motivated to apply it to your own life. And remember, I am always here to answer any questions, concerns, or challenges you have along the way.

Chewing 101 – Savor, Don’t Scarf

Chewing 101 – Savor, Don’t Scarf

The time that food spends in the mouth may be the most important part of healthy digestion, so chew, munch, crunch, nosh, or gnaw that food before it heads south. Chewing food completely is often overlooked, because busy lives lead to hoover-ing food instead of enjoying it. It’s time to slow down and learn how to chew again.

Chewing 101

Think saliva’s only use is to slip-n-slide that food down the esophagus?  Think again. Saliva is not a one trick pony; in fact it provides a stampede of enzymes that starts the digestive process. Most people think that digestion begins in the stomach, but digestion actually starts in the mouth where these enzymes break down fats and starches. Chewing longer means the saliva covers more of the food, which allows that break down to occur. 

If a food is not completely chewed, just a portion of the nutrients are being released from the food, and the body doesn’t get all the benefits from those nutrients.  If we make the effort to eat healthy, shouldn’t we receive all the rewards? The best way to do this is to chew, chew, chew, and chew some more.

Feeling a little bloated? Chew more. Feeling a little sluggish? Chew more. Feeling a little gassy? Chew more. If food isn’t chewed well enough, large food particles pass through the colon where they become little floating islands that attract bacteria, which creates the, umm, smell and noise on the other end of that meal.

Don’t forget the pleasure principle. Chew more – taste more – enjoy more. Chomping each bite thoroughly also causes an eating slowdown, which allows the brain time to feel full. This can lead to eating less and helps to prevent the stuffed feeling that sometimes follows a meal.

There is no right or wrong number of nibbles, but the best guide to chewing more is the texture of the food. For example, if that broccoli still feels like broccoli in your mouth, chew more – as many times as necessary to pulverize the texture.

Savor, don’t scarf. More munching means extra nutrients, eating less, and healthier digestion.

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