Have you ever walked into a Starbucks or McDonald’s and been shocked to see the calorie count of your favorite item staring you in the face? If so, did this affect your decision to purchase and consume said item? The federal law now requires restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets to disclose calorie counts on their food items and supply information on how many calories a healthy person should eat in a day. There have been some questions around this policy in general and about the effectiveness the policy is having.
Unfortunately, many studies have shown that displaying the calorie content of foods has not led consumers to choose healthier or lower-calorie options. A new study sought to determine if it would be more effective to list how many minutes of brisk walking it would take to burn off that cheeseburger rather than listing how many calories the cheeseburger has. And guess what? It was!
Now that we are settling into the New Year, you have probably spent some time reflecting on your life – from career to family to health and everything in between. Maybe you made some resolutions and are determined to make positive changes. If any of these resolutions or changes are related to becoming healthier or dropping a few pounds, you may consider trying to eat CLEAN. The fact that juicing and cleansing are becoming daily conversation pieces shows that we’re all looking for a way to refresh and detoxify. My opinion is that eating CLEAN is all you need to feel better, get healthier, and shed some weight.
Eating CLEAN means eating what nature intended – foods in their natural state – while avoiding processed and refined foods. Ideally, these foods should have only 1–2 ingredients, but more a more loose way of doing this would be to make sure all ingredients are real food ingredients with no preservatives or chemicals (no item listed that you can’t identify or pronounce).
As we work our way through 2012, we have seen certain fitness trends fade (such as use of bulky cardio equipment and long-lasting high-impact aerobic sessions), and others gain tremendous popularity (like Zumba and Bootcamp-style classes). Here is my list of upcoming fitness trends, which I have formulated using my own experience and observations working in the fitness industry, as well as some research.
1) Functional training. The objective of functional fitness is to improve strength, balance, conditioning, and coordination by doing movements that we use in our everyday lives – such as squatting, lifting, bending, and reaching. Functional training programs not only make us stronger and more fit, but help us do real world tasks like lifting our children and carrying luggage or groceries.
Football season is underway and fall is here! Many of us look forward to this all year. Finally, we can throw on a pair of jeans, a jersey, and some sneaks while kicking back with some friends, some wings, and a few cold ones. However, football season can be DANGEROUS for your waistline – and can undo any healthy habits that you have worked so hard to achieve! Don’t become a victim to the NFL Belly Bulge!
Here are some tips that are EASY to follow:
Although it is still technically summer, fall is unofficially here since it is back to school and back to work time. Vacation mode is off, real life is back on! Hopefully, many of you spent a lot of your time this summer outdoors doing things like walking, hiking, biking, swimming, and grilling fabulously healthy foods. Although we start the summer with the best of intentions, sometimes our healthy habits slip away when we start partaking in weddings, parties, BBQ’s, and travels.
Here are some tips to get you back on the road to health and fitness:
Do you feel that buying and/or consuming fruits and vegetables on a regular basis is a challenge for you? If so, why? As a dietitian, I often hear from clients that they know they should be eating more produce, but it becomes problematic for a number of reasons.
Here are some of those reasons:
- the cost of fresh produce is too high when living on a budget
- fruits and vegetables often go bad before they are consumed
- consumers are unsure of where and how to shop wisely
- some people just aren’t sure how to prepare vegetables in a tasty and healthy manner
Hopefully you have been waiting with baited breath for the third and final installment of this series – and here it is! Now that you know how to fuel before and during exercise, the only thing left to learn is what to do afterwards. Regardless of your workout length and intensity, your muscles need hydration and fuel to recover. The good news for the “everyday exerciser” (meaning you workout for an hour or so three or four times a week) is that you don’t have to stress much about post-exercise fuel. Your regular diet will typically provide enough nutrients to refuel your muscles with glycogen and repair muscle damage.
In the last post, I reviewed the guidelines for eating and drinking before a workout. Just as it is critical to fuel yourself properly before exercise, it is equally important to keep yourself fueled during exercise and afterwards for recovery. Here I will discuss fuel during exercise, but stay tuned for more information on eating well for recovery.
We all know that fueling before, during, and after a workout or athletic event is crucial. In this post, I will talk about fueling specifically before exercise, but keep your eyes out for upcoming posts on fueling during and after exercise.
Hydrating properly is always important as water makes up at least 60% of the adult human body. Water is vital for removing waste and carrying nutrients to the body’s cells. We are constantly losing water and fluids through perspiration, urination, and respiration. These fluids need to be replaced constantly, especially for exercisers, as proper hydration will aid in optimal performance. Dehydration can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, decreased metabolism, diminished concentration, increased heart rate, and difficulty cooling the body.
Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, and we are all starting to think about jumping into our summer clothes and heading to the beach. Many of us are then hit with the sudden panic of what that means. Have you let your healthy eating habits or workout regimen slip over the winter months? Has your weight crept up a few pounds (or more)? Even if the answer to these questions is no, are there goals you have set your sights on that you have yet to achieve? Regardless of your weight or fitness level, we all have goals to strive for and accomplish.
It’s that time of year again, where we shower that special someone with decadent chocolates and the wine is flowing. Valentine’s Day is a time of year to show your loved ones how much they mean to you, but did you know that it can be good for your heart in more than one way? Many of the traditional Valentine’s Day foods, like berries, red wine, and chocolate, are rich in heart healthy flavonoids. Of course, we have to remember, as the saying goes, everything in moderation!
Flavonoids have received a ton of attention in the press, and rightfully so. Two recent studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition were published on this subject. One study showed that red wine produces beneficial anti-inflammatory effects, and the other demonstrated that people with who consumed more flavonoids had a lower rate of death from cardiovascular disease.
Now that the New Year is under way, many of us are thinking about our goals for this year – health-related and otherwise. Maybe you told yourself, “I will work on eating healthier or getting to the gym more after the holidays are over”. Well, the holidays are over and it’s time to turn those thoughts into actions. Remember that motivation is paramount in making lasting behavior changes. Think about what it is that motivates you to make changes – whether it is to look differently, feel better, or to improve an aspect of your health.
Yes, there is such thing as a healthy holiday food. In fact, there are many! When we think of holiday festivities, gatherings, and meals, we often think of all the succulent dishes and decadent desserts that are the central theme to these occasions. However, with a little planning and thoughtfulness, you can actually get some nutritional gains from these foods. Choosing wisely will help you to prevent the typical holiday weight gain while boosting your nutrient intake.
Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it comes some of the anxiety that is associated with holiday eating and weight gain. There are some very simple changes you can make to be healthier and prevent weight gain. A typical Thanksgiving meal contains about 3,500 calories. Coincidentally, there are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat!
Halloween is right around the corner, and if you’re health-conscious then you’re feeling the excitement of the holiday, but also the anxiety that you may get derailed from your healthy lifestyle. How can you participate in Halloween and enjoy the holiday without packing on the pounds? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1) The great thing about Halloween candy is that it is wrapped in small individual packages. Take advantage of this and give yourself a limit – on Halloween and in the days following. Choose one or two of your favorites each day and allow one small piece of each.
Fall is upon us, and with the change of the season comes changes in seasonal fruits and vegetables. One of the most delicious fall vegetables is also a nutrition powerhouse: the pumpkin! Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin A, amongst many other beneficial vitamins and minerals. The antioxidant properties of pumpkin can help to prevent cell damage, and other nutrients found in pumpkin aid in the health of your eyes and digestive system. While the “meat” of the pumpkin is a great addition to a healthy diet, the seeds found inside are packed with nutrition as well. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are another a terrific source of minerals. In addition, these seeds also contain protein and the heart healthy monounsaturated fats that can lower your “bad” cholesterol and raise the “good” cholesterol.
Does your workout routine ever get stale? Is it because you do the same exercise(s) day in and day out and it lacks variety? Is it because you feel you don’t have as much time as you would like to get to everything you want to do? Or is it because you feel like you’re not making the progress you hoped to see? If you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, try adding supersets to your workout regimen. Doing a workout with supersets will increase your fitness level, strength, and power, while adding variety to your routine, and decreasing your workout time. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
Do you find it surprising that over 50% of American adults have reported taking some kind of dietary supplement? Probably not, since supplements are a multibillion dollar industry that has captured the attention of people of various demographics, including athletes, vegetarians, and those with chronic conditions looking for a natural remedy. Many people think that taking supplements is a healthy alternative or addition to prescription medications, and fail to realize that over-the-counter supplements can be as dangerous as they are beneficial. Few Americans are actually prescribed supplements by a doctor, dietitian, or healthcare provider. Therefore, most take it upon themselves to determine which ones they need.
We all have stress. Some of it is good stress – like planning a wedding, taking care of the kids, or transitioning into a new job; and some of it is negative stress – like caring for a sick family member, dealing with financial issues, and working a demanding job. Either way, the stress of life’s circumstances can have a significant impact on your health.
In our culture, diet sodas have been used for years as a guilt-free replacement for calorie and sugar-laden sodas and other sweet beverages that are known to have deleterious health effects. The school of thought has been that consuming beverages without sugar would prevent the increasing weight, waistline, blood sugar, and heart disease risk that is associated with drinking sweet beverages like soda, juice, lemonade, sweet tea, and even some of those “sports” and “vitamin” drinks. While it is my belief that choosing diet beverages and using sugar substitutes in moderation can be a part of a healthy lifestyle, there is nothing better and more pure than the original thing – H2O.