Diet

You are what you eat!

By Juno DeMelo

Craving an energy boost? We ate our way through dozens of contenders to bring you the best.

Raise the Bar

When you’re on the go, an energy bar is one of the handiest and healthiest snacks around. But it can be tough to tell the good ones from the candy bars in disguise. No worries — we did the work for you, enlisting a team of nutritionists to find options with minimal added sugar, 200 or fewer calories, and at least three grams of both fiber and protein per full-size bar­. And then we taste-tested every one! Keep these winners in your purse, gym bag, or desk drawer for a satisfying bite wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

 

Luna Bar Chocolate-Dipped Coconut

This 70-percent-organic bar “taste like a Samoa,” the classic chocolate-drizzled Girl Scout cookie, testers told us. No need to pair it with a glass of milk, though: It contains 35 percent of the 1,000 milligrams of calcium you need in a day, plus vitamin D. (190 calories)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clif Crunch Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bar

The generous portion — you get two bars in a serving — and extra-crunchy texture make this bar a standout. Try crumbling it over low-fat plain Greek yogurt for a delicious, healthy breakfast. (190 calories)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance Bar Bare Blueberry Acai

With 15 grams of protein — more than any other contender — this yogurt-coated bar is perfect for post-workout refueling. (200 calories)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ThinkThin Crunch Fruit & Nut Cranberry Apple & Mixed Nuts

Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan of this gluten-free line of snacks, and it’s no wonder: The variety we sampled has nearly half the sugar and about twice the protein of many fruit-and-nut bars. (170 calories)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corazonas Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

“Yum! This tastes more like a baked good than a bar,” one tester said. Even better, each contains natural plant sterols and 17 grams of whole grains, both of which may help lower LDL, or bad, cholesterol. (180 calories)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pure Naturals Peanut-Raisin Crunch Bar

 Kill two cravings with one of these salty-sweet snacks. They have a chewy texture that’s “like a Snickers bar,” testers said, but without the chocolate or the additional 21 grams of sugar. (200 calories)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise Raspberry-Pomegranate Energy + Bar

  Numerous testers likened the consistency and “fruity, but not too sweet” flavor of this date-based bar to the filling of a Fig Newton. It’s ideal for those who don’t eat gluten, dairy, soy, or peanuts. (200 calories)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kind Fruit & Nut Delight Mini

Four kinds of nuts give this petite pick a surprising amount of staying power. Eat one a couple of hours before a big meal, when you need to take the edge off your hunger. (108 calories)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Makes a Winner

Companies submitted more than 60 new bars to FITNESS. Our experts — Anar Allidina, RD, a dietitian in private practice in Toronto; Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet; and Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater’s Diet — analyzed the nutrition facts and ingredients to help us determine which ones deserved to move to the next round of judging. Those finalists were sampled and voted on by dozens of staffers in a blind taste-test.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2012.

 

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by Mike Roussell

What’s the biggest nutrition breakthrough for the next 25 years? Our vote goes to nutrigenomics—the study of the interaction between what you eat and your DNA. Researchers have recently uncovered a handful of common foods that crank up your fat burning genes.

Here’s how it works: Each cell contains the DNA for your entire genetic code. This master cookbook of proteins, hormones, and molecules remains relatively unchanged through your life. What does change is the recipes (or genes) your body is using. Drugs, foods, hormones, and other molecules can tell your body what recipes to use to create more of the specific enzymes, hormones, and compounds that you need.

So what foods can crank up your body’s natural fat-burning power?

Green tea. Green tea—both as a supplement or the brewed leaves—turns off genes that are responsible for fat cells’ sugar uptake and turns on genes that mediate sugar uptake by muscle cells. The result: smaller fat cells and more active muscle cells. A review from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that drinking green tea every day will trim up to an extra inch off your waistline in 12 weeks. (Caffeine and the antioxidant EGCG are also part of green tea’s fat-fighting arsenal.) Click here to learn whic  tea beat out 14 others and was named the best green tea when we analyzed the antioxidant content of popular brands.

Fish oil. Touted for its many health benefits, the fats in fish oil—EPA and DHA—activate a group of specific proteins in your cells called Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). PPARs interact with your genes and can increase the burning of fat for energy as well as improve insulin sensitivity. Researchers from University of South Australia showed that when men combined a supplement of 1.9 grams of EPA and DHA each day with regular aerobic exercise, they lost 4.5 more pounds compared to men who just did regular aerobic exercise during the 12-week study. (That’s one reason why fish oil was named one of our 18 Best Supplements for Men.)

Pistachios. Pistachios fight inflammation—a driving force of weight gain—by reducing the expression of the inflammatory gene IFN-stimulated response element by a whopping 78 percent. Researchers from UCLA showed that snacking on 1.5 ounces of pistachios per day instead of 2 ounces of pretzels helped subjects lose 2 extra pounds over 12 weeks. (Pistachios—which are higher in fat and protein—are also more satiating than pretzels, which could have helped subjects eat less overall.)

Pomegranates. Pomegranates are packed with high levels of a potent class of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are famous for having beneficial effects on your blood vessels and your heart, and they are now also being show to be fat-cell killers. When exposed to anthocyanins, the growth of premature fat cells to full-blown fat cells is stopped. How? The anthocyanins down-regulate the expression of the pro-obesity and diabetes gene plasminogen activator inhibitor-1.

Olive oil. Subjects in a study ate on different days a high-carbohydrate meal and a meal high in monosaturated fats—including 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The high-carb meal suppressed the genetic sequence that creates adiponectin, a hormone that helps your muscles use sugar. The meal with olive oil, however, had the opposite effect.

 

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The truth about gluten, the food industry, and your  belly
By Matthew Solan

Turkey and tomato on wheat. Whole-grain pasta. Healthy, right? Maybe. But  more and more people believe these foods are parts of a potentially disastrous  trap. They claim that sluggishness and weight gain can be blamed on an insidious  substance hiding in wheat and many other common grains: gluten.
Avoiding  gluten has become big business. Sales of gluten-free products grew about 30  percent a year from 2006 to 2010, and will hit $3.9 billion by next year,  according to the market research company Packaged Facts. Supermarket shelves are  filled with gluten-free breads, soups, and cake mixes—even gluten-free ketchup  and soy sauce. According to market research firm Mintel, 10 percent of new foods  launched in 2010 featured a “gluten-free” claim, up from only 2 percent 5 years  earlier.
NFL quarterback Drew Brees won a Super Bowl while on a  gluten-free diet. Cyclist Tom Danielson, a record-breaking member of the  Garmin-Transitions team, says his training and racing have improved since he and  his teammates went gluten-free over a year ago.
Have most common whole  grains been acting as insidious nutritional double agents all these years? Or  are they essential components of a healthy diet? Let’s separate the wheat from  the chaff.

What is gluten, anyway? How does it affect the body?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, as well as in many  common food additives. It’s what gives dough its elasticity and baked goods  their satisfying chewiness. But for people with celiac disease—a type of  autoimmune disorder—eating foods that contain gluten can lead to a cascade of  nasty reactions, including damage to the small intestine, poor nutrient  absorption, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, anemia, and fatigue. Celiac  disease is surprisingly common, affecting about one in every 133 people,  according to an often-cited 2003 study from the University of Maryland center  for celiac research. There is no cure for celiac disease and no drugs that can  treat it; you can only manage the condition, by sticking to a gluten-free diet  for the rest of your life.
Even if you don’t have celiac disease, gluten  may still be bad for you, says Lara Field, M.S., R.D., a dietitian at the  University of Chicago’s celiac disease center. A rising percentage of people in  the United States consider themselves “gluten-sensitive.” “These people may have  a food intolerance or experience many celiac-type symptoms after consuming foods  that contain gluten,” says Field. Some may have a form of wheat allergy. If you  think you may have symptoms of a gluten intolerance, you can ask your doctor  about scheduling a blood test to find out for sure. You can also check out The  Gluten Connection, which has a simple self-test that can help you  identify gluten intolerance, along with a complete eating plan that’ll help you  go gluten-free with ease.

Should I avoid eating gluten even if I don’t have problems with it?

Gluten is also shunned by another group: People who simply think gluten  encourages weight gain and who claim to feel more energetic when they don’t  consume it. They say humans didn’t evolve the ability to digest certain  domesticated grains containing gluten, and that avoiding gluten leads to more  energy, better absorption of nutrients, and loss of excess weight.
Allen  Lim, Ph.D., a former exercise physiologist for Garmin-Transitions, believes that  going gluten-free has helped his team perform at a higher level. So does  Danielson, who, like any competitive cyclist, burns—and eats—an immense number  of calories and pays close attention to what seems to work. “After I started the  diet, I had better results. I didn’t feel as fatigued, and my recovery period  was quicker,” says Danielson, who puts in 6-plus hours during a typical training  session.
But this is anecdotal evidence; mainstream research still hasn’t  substantiated the claims of those who believe gluten is bad for everyone. “There  is no strong scientific evidence to support the assertion that avoiding gluten  leads to benefits for the general population,” says Tricia Thompson, M.S., R.D.,  author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide and the website glutenfreedietitian.com.
Still,  cutting out gluten can lead to weight loss—but not for the reason gluten-free  advocates think. A strict gluten-free diet forces you to stay away from some  refined carbohydrates that can lead to weight gain, Field explains. And that,  she says, is where the weight-loss secret lies.
Gluten is found in many  of the familiar weight-gain culprits: pizza, beer, burgers, pancakes. “Gluten  itself probably isn’t the reason you’ve packed on pounds,” says  Field.
“Eating too many refined carbohydrates is what expands your  waistline.” Commit to staying gluten-free and your food choices can become a  snapshot of healthy eating—fruits, vegetables, brown rice, seeds and nuts, along  with meat, fish, eggs, and milk products.
Avoiding gluten also means  you’re likely to adopt other whole grains and flours that lack gluten, such as  buckwheat, quinoa, millet, teff, sorghum, and wild rice (which is not related to  white rice). These aren’t necessarily healthier options than gluten-rich wheat,  barley, or rye, but consuming a wider range of grains gives you even more  nutritional variety in your diet. (See “The New Power Grains,” on the next  page.) That’s another good thing.

 

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Americans think the body mass index can tell them if they’re  at a healthy weight. But they’re wrong
By Adam Eaglin

 

The next time you happen to catch a Minnesota Vikings game, take a look at  Adrian Peterson, the team’s 6’1, 217-pound running back. Now ask yourself: what  kind of physical characteristics would you attribute to him? Athletic? Lean?  Fit? All of these certainly sound like valid answers to us—but his clinical  classification might surprise you.
By any normal standards, Peterson is  one of the fittest men on the planet. But by our country’s system of measuring  body fat, he’s overweight. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard of  the ‘body mass index,’ or, as it’s more informally known, BMI. It’s a popular  formula used to not only gauge if a person is overweight or obese, but also how  great their risk is for future health problems.
BMI is a relatively  straight

forward equation that measures a person’s body fat by comparing their  weight to their height:
(Weight in pounds) / (Height in inches) (Height  in inches) x 703
You can also figure out your BMI without doing any math,  here: Log onto http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ for an online  calculator.
There are four different categories a person can fall into,  ranging from underweight to obese. They are:
*18.4 or lower:  Underweight. *18.5 to 24.9: Normal weight. *25 to 29.9: Overweight. *30  or higher: Obese.
According to the National Institutes of Health, being  overweight or obese by this measure can put you at risk for heart disease, type  II diabetes, and even some cancers.
But BMI doesn’t work well for  individual people. One of the formula’s obvious flaws, explains Alan Aragon, the Men’s Health Weight Loss Coach and a nutritionist in California, is  that it has no way of discriminating between fat and muscle—which is the case  with Peterson.
Part of the problem is that BMI was never designed as a  tool for judging any individual person’s weight—either by physicians or the  general public, says Timothy Church, a professor of health at Pennington  Biomedical Research Center. In fact, the formula was originally intended to  measure the collective weight of an entire population, but because of its  straightforward math and distinctive categories (i.e., if you score a 25 on the  BMI scale, you’re overweight), it soon also took off.
Here’s how BMI was  born: In the early part of the 20th century, medical studies began to show a  link between excess weight and an early death. So doctors and insurance  companies started to seek out an easy method to determine a person’s body-fat  percentage. Insurance companies were especially concerned with this task, and  devoted portions of their budget to discovering an obesity-determining  calculation.
It wasn’t, however, until physiology researcher Ancel Keys  published a study in 1972 called “Indices of Relative Weight and Obesity,” that  the modern version of BMI came about. Keys conducted a series of studies on male  populations in order to test if any pre-existing mathematical equations could  measure a group’s relative amount of body-fat. Fortunately for him, one did. The  “Quetelet Index,” (a.k.a., weight divided by height, squared) which was  developed by Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet in the mid-1800s, proved to  be successful.
To Keys’ credit, he never intended for physicians or  insurance companies to use this equation—but BMI was just too perfect. Because  it was simply a math equation, it was quicker, easier, and cheaper to use than  more direct and accurate measures—like the underwater weighing test, which  measures how much you weigh by how much water you displace, and the skin fold  measurements, which calculates how much fat you have beneath your  skin.
“BMI was really pushed by [companies like] Metropolitan Life,”  Church said. “It was meant to give them an excuse to charge [their clients]  more.”
The formula received its official stamp of approval in 1985, when  the NIH cited it as the index of obesity, Ever since then, BMI has gradually  become more and more accepted—now it’s the standard, go-to formula for  determining what makes a healthy weight, even among regular people, says Frank  Hu, Ph.D., professor of health and nutrition at the Harvard School for Public  Health.
Another issue is gender. The Quetelet Index—and corresponding  Keys study—were both created from research on male populations. An entirely  different formula was originally used for determining obesity in female  populations, and yet, doctors use the same equation for both genders, says  Church. In the beginning, the NIH differentiated between men and women by  establishing different “thresholds” for one’s BMI, to account for the variance  between men and women in the equation. But even that difference dissolved in  1998. When pressed for the reasons why, an NIH spokesperson declined to  comment.
So why has no one tried to change the system? One reason is that  imprecise numbers from BMI aren’t dangerous, says Hu. And besides, doctors are  able to determine risk factors using other measurements.
Still, the  alternatives to BMI aren’t perfect either. The most common of which is the waist  circumference test, which measures abdominal obesity (a.k.a., the fat around  your stomach). It’s slightly better than BMI at measuring someone’s risk for  illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, say our experts, because it measures  fat specifically, instead of taking into account the weight of a person’s muscle  mass.
The truth is, people know if they’re overweight—so be your own  judge. Look in the mirror, monitor your jean size, and talk to your doctor. But  don’t rely on a flawed formula to determine your health status.

Read more at Men’s Health: http://www.menshealth.com/weight-loss/truth-about-bmi?cm_mmc=BONL-_-815722-_-02152012-_-dek#ixzz1mYwOuiPX

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Alternative Fuels

We’ve debunked taurine and guarana for years. But energy drink makers have found new ways to entice you. Don’t be fooled

By Laura Roberson

AMERICA IS IN THE MIDST OF AN energy crisis. We’re guzzling energy drinks and shots at record rates but feeling more lethargic than ever. Sales of these products have more than doubled in the past 5 years, with 35 percent of men ages 18 to 24 drinking them regularly, a new Mintel survey reveals.
“Guys create an up-and-down trap with energy drinks and with whatever they take at night to help slow down,” says Matthew Edlund, M.D., author of The Power of Rest. “They never feel completely rested.” Or, even scarier, they end up on a gurney in the ER. Hospital visits related to energy drinks have surged more than tenfold since 2005, reports the U.S. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. And most of those amped-up patients are men.

“Energy drinks emphasize vigor, power, all the things that appeal to men,” says Cecile Marczinski, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University. Guys willingly swallow the bottled boosters’ claims, when they should really be asking, “Why am I so damn tired?”
“We don’t use our bodies the way they’re built to be used,” says Dr. Edlund. “We guzzle energy drinks and then can’t sleep at night. We sit all day and then read e-mails at 3 a.m.” It’s no wonder we walk around like zombies—and treat these drinks like liquid life support. As sales and heart rates spike, it’s a good time to question the trends and find healthier ways to power up.

ENERGY SPIKE 1
Decaf energy drinks Marketers of energy drinks are clever—they remove a well-known, often worrisome compound and then tout the resulting drink as a “healthier” version of the original. The first vilified ingredient was sugar. Now it’s caffeine. Hydrive and 5-Hour Energy have both unveiled decaf options. Makes sense: Some 38 percent of men who buy energy drinks now look for low caffeine content, the Mintel survey found.
So what’s the alleged alternate energy source? Most often, B vitamins. A decaf 5-Hour Energy shot, for example, packs several thousand times your daily recommended B12 and B6, plus 100 percent of your folic acid. But here’s the thing: You won’t feel a B-induced boost, since the energy provided by B vitamins isn’t stimulating like caffeine. “They simply help extract energy from your food, and you need only a little bit,” says Tod Cooperman, M.D., president of ConsumerLab.com, an independent tester of health and nutritional products. “The science is misused to lead people to believe that a megadose of B vitamins will somehow energize them. It won’t.”
Plus, if you eat fortified foods or take a multivitamin, energy shots could send you over the folic-acid edge—which in the long term, he warns, could raise your cancer risk.

YOUR MOVE: For a caffeine-free boost, sip on FRS Healthy Energy drinks. They’re free of folic acid and contain reasonable levels of the other B vitamins. What makes FRS effective is quercetin, an antioxidant that can help you fight fatigue during exercise, a 2010 University of South Carolina study found. Like caffeine, quercetin also blocks brain receptors for adenosine—a chemical that makes you sleepy—to make you feel energized, says study author Mark Davis, Ph.D. “Over time, it can also increase the number of mitochondria in your cells,” he says, “which provide energy for your muscles.”

ENERGY SPIKE 2
Coffee energy drinks Herbal ingredients may trigger a guy’s skepticism, but coffee appeals to the average Joe. “Coffee is a commonly consumed, relatively safe product,” says Marczinski. “So people may assume coffee energy drinks are safe, too.” But even if the label says “coffee,” you may still be downing an alphabet soup of ingredients. Java Monster, for example, which claims to contain “premium coffee and cream,” is actually a blend of coffee extract, milk, taurine, panax ginseng, caffeine, and guarana.
“Panax ginseng has been linked to pretty significant side effects, including abdominal pain and headaches,” says University of Massachusetts toxicologist Richard Church, M.D. And guarana is just an herbal guise for an extra shot of caffeine—its seeds pack about four times the caffeine of coffee beans.
YOUR MOVE: Fire up the coffeepot instead. “In addition to the caffeine boost, coffee can lower your risk of depression, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease,” says Dr. Edlund. “Plus, it has a healthy social element. You’re often with others when you drink coffee.” If you’re brewing at home, opt for light-roast blends, such as the new Starbucks Blonde Roast; these offer significantly more antioxidants than dark roasts, a 2011 Portuguese study found.

ENERGY SPIKE 3
Energy shots Red Bull recently introduced giant cans, but the bigger trend is toward shrinking drinks. According to a Mintel estimate, Americans dropped about $1.3 billion on energy shots in 2011—more than 17 times the $73 million they spent in 2006. What’s the lure? The promise of crash-free energy in just a couple of sips—in other words, the very effect that makes these drinks dangerous. “Shots contain all the stimulants of large energy drinks,” says Marczinski. “But because they’re only a couple of sips, people often drink more than one. They’re using energy shots to stay up all night.”

YOUR MOVE: There’s a better way to fuel up before a night out. “Drink a lukewarm cup of coffee really quickly, and then close your eyes for 15 to 20 minutes,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist in Virginia Beach. “You’ll get enough rest to decrease your sleep drive. Then after you start moving again, the caffeine will kick in to keep you awake.” Before you head out, grab a protein-rich snack, too, like a handful of almonds. “Protein helps increase insulin production, and insulin can have an alerting effect,” he says.

ENERGY SPIKE 4
Juice and tea drinks About half of energy drink consumers are interested in juice-or tea-based alternatives, according to Mintel. That’s a bright spot: Juices contain many of the same vitamins added to energy drinks, but in their natural form. “Food is not one substance or vitamin,” Dr. Edlund says. Whole foods provide a matrix of nutrients, some of which may enhance others’ effects in your body, he says. So isolating a single nutrient could rob you of the whole food’s full benefits. And while Red Bull may amp you up more effectively than tea, the liquid in that silver can lacks tea’s disease-fighting antioxidants.

YOUR MOVE Check the label: Juice and tea should replace, rather than accompany, energy drink ingredients such as guarana and B vitamins. We like the new V8 Berry Blast Energy Shot—each 50-calorie serving offers a blend of 10 juices and green tea extract, and it’s refreshingly devoid of unpronounceable additives. Or just grab a bottle of tea. According to a 2008 study in Psychopharmacology, the combination of caffeine and theanine, an amino acid in tea, may boost alertness without raising blood pressure as much as caffeine does alone. Try Honest Tea Community Green Tea; it’s lower in sugar than most bottled brews.

ENERGY SPIKE 5
Nonliquid energy Energy boosts no longer require a bottle. Rockstar and Amp now come in gum form, with 40 milligrams of caffeine in a single piece; products like LiveWire and High Octane energy chews claim to pack as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. The danger: “People think a stick of gum is a stick of gum. Before they know it, they’ve crammed five pieces into their mouths,” says Dr. Church. That’s like drinking a pot of coffee—but with a side of artificial sweeteners or, in the case of the chews, corn syrup and evaporated cane juice.
YOUR MOVE: Close your eyes and focus on a specific place of tension on your head or neck, Dr. Edlund says. “Removing one spot of tension can help your entire body relax. Focus and energy are closely related.”

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URL: weight-loss/healthy-snacking

Healthy Snacks for Dieters

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In Eat This, Not That!, we often write about the foods you should avoid—foods so infused with calories, fat, and sodium that they should come stamped with Surgeon General warnings like cigarette packs. But the foods on this list? They’re different. They’re among the planet’s most perfect foods, capable not just of helping you boost metabolism and melt fat, but also fight disease, lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and live a longer, better life. And did we mention that they’re delicious? Make it your goal to work these edible all-stars into your diet every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Tea

Literally hundreds of studies have been carried out to document the health benefits of catechins, the group of antioxidants concentrated in the leaves of tea plants. Among the most startling studies was one published by the American Medical Association in 2006. The study followed more than 40,000 Japanese adults for a decade, and at the 7-year follow-up, those who had been drinking five or more cups of tea per day were 26 percent less likely to die of any cause compared with those who averaged less than a cup. Looking for more immediate results? Another Japanese study broke participants into two groups, only one of which was put on a catechin-rich green-tea diet. At the end of 12 weeks, the green-tea group had achieved significantly smaller body weights and waistlines than those in the control group. Why? Because researchers believe that catechins are effective at boosting metabolism. Substitutes: Yerba mate, white tea, oolong tea, rooibos (red) tea

 

 

 

Garlic

Allicin, an antibacterial and antifungal compound, is the steam engine pushing forward garlic’s myriad health benefits. The chemical is produced by the garlic plant as a defense against pests, but inside in your body it fights cancer, strengthens your cardiovascular system, decreases fat storage, and fights acne inflammation. To activate the most possible allicin, you’ve first got to crush the garlic as finely as possible. Peel the cloves, then use the side of a heavy chef’s knife to crush the garlic before carefully mincing. Then be sure not to overcook it, as too much heat will render the compound completely useless (and your food totally bitter). Substitutes: Onions, chives, leeks

 

 

 

 

 

Grapefruit

Just call it the better-body fruit. In a study of 100 obese people at The Scripps Clinic in California, those who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost an average of 3.6 pounds over the course of 12 weeks Some lost as much as 10 pounds. The study’s control group, in contrast, lost a paltry 1/2 pound. But here’s something even better: Those who ate the grapefruit also exhibited a decrease in insulin levels, indicating that their bodies had improved upon the ability to metabolize sugar. If you can’t stomach a grapefruit-a-day regime, try to find as many ways possible to sneak grapefruit into your diet. Even a moderate increase in grapefruit intake should yield results, not to mention earn you a massive dose of lycopene—the cancer-preventing antioxidant found most commonly in tomatoes.

Substitutes: Oranges, watermelon, tomatoes

 

 

 

 

Greek Yogurt

If it’s dessert you want, you go with regular yogurt, but if it’s protein, you go Greek. What sets the two apart? Greek yogurt has been separated from the watery whey that sits on top of regular yogurt, and the process has removed excessive sugars such as lactose and increased the concentration of protein by as much as three times. That means it fills your belly more like a meal than a snack. Plus a single cup has about a quarter of your day’s calcium, and studies show that dieters on calcium-rich diets have an easier time losing body fat. In one of these studies, participants on a high-calcium dairy diet were able to lose 70% more body weight than those on a calorie-restricted diet alone. If only everything you ate could make a similar claim. Substitutes: Kefir and yogurt with “live and active cultures” printed on the product label

 

 

 

 

Avocado

Here’s what often gets lost in America’s fat phobia: Some of them are actually good for you. More than half the calories in each creamy green fruit comes from one of the world’s healthiest fats, a kind called monounsaturates. These fats differ from saturated fats in that they have one double-bonded carbon atom, but that small difference at the molecular level amounts to a dramatic improvement to your health. Numerous studies have shown that monounsaturated fats both improve you cholesterol profile and decrease the amount of triglycerides (more fats) floating around in your blood. That can lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. Worried about weight gain? Don’t be. There’s no causal link between monounsaturated fats and body fat. Substitutes: Olive, canola and peanut oils, peanut butter, tahini

 

 

 

 

Eggs

When it comes to breakfast, you can’t beat eggs. (That was too easy, wasn’t it?) Seriously though, at a cost of only 72 calories, each large egg holds 6.3 grams of high-quality protein and a powerhouse load of vital nutrients. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who replace carbs with eggs for breakfast lose weight 65 percent quicker. Researchers in Michigan were able to determine that regular egg eaters enjoyed more vitamins and minerals in their diets than those who ate few or no eggs. By examining surveys from more than 25,000 people, the researchers found that egg eaters were about half as likely to be deficient in vitamin B12, 24 percent less likely to be deficient in vitamin A, and 36 percent less likely to be deficient in vitamin E. And here’s something more shocking: Those who ate at least four eggs a week had significantly lower cholesterol levels than those who ate fewer than one. Turns out the dietary cholesterol in the yolk has little impact on your serum cholesterol. Substitutes: Egg Beaters egg substitute

 

 

 

Quinoa

Although not yet common in American kitchens, quinoa boasts a stronger distribution of nutrients than any grain you’ll ever get a fork into. It has about twice as much fiber and protein as brown rice, and those proteins it has consist of a near-perfect blend of amino acids, the building blocks that your body pulls apart to reassembles into new proteins. And get this, all that protein and fiber—in conjunction with a handful of healthy fats and a comparatively small dose of carbohydrates—help insure a low impact on your blood sugar. That’s great news for pre-diabetics and anyone watching their weight. So what’s the trade off? There is none. Quinoa’s soft and nutty taste is easy to handle for even picky eaters and it cooks just like rice, ready in about 15 minutes. Substitutes: Oats, amaranth, millet, pearl barley, bulgur wheat

 

 

 

 

 

Bell Peppers

All peppers are loaded with antioxidants, but none so much as the brightly colored reds, yellows, and oranges. These colors result from carotenoids concentrated in the flesh of the pepper, and it’s these same carotenoids that give tomatoes, carrots, and grapefruits their healthy hues. The range of benefits provided by these colorful pigments include improved immune function, better communication between cells, protection against sun damage, and a diminished risk for several types of cancer. And if you can take the heat, try cooking with chili peppers. The bell pepper cousins are still loaded with carotenoids and vitamin C, but have the added benefit of capsaicins, temperature-raising phytochemicals that have been shown to fight headache and arthritis pain as well as boost metabolism. Substitutes: Carrots, sweet potatoes, watermelon

 

 

 

 

Almonds

An ounce of almonds a day, about 23 nuts, provides nearly 9 grams of heart-healthy oleic acid, which is more than peanuts, walnuts, or cashews. This monounsaturated fat is known to be responsible for a flurry of health benefits, the most recent of which is improved memory. Rats in California were better able to navigate a maze the second time around if they’d been fed oleic acid, and there’s no reason to assume that the same treatment won’t help you navigate your day-to-day life. If nothing else, snacking on the brittle nuts will take your mind of your hunger. Nearly a quarter of an almond’s calories come from belly-filling fiber and protein. That’s why when researchers at Purdue fed subjects nuts or rice cakes, those who ate the nuts felt full for a full hour and a half longer than the rice cake group. Substitutes: Walnuts, pecans, peanuts, sesame seeds, flaxseeds

 

 

 

 

 

Swiss Chard

Most fruits and vegetables are role players, supplying us with a monster dose of a single nutrient. But Swiss chard is nature’s ultimate multivitamin, delivering substantial amounts of 16 vitamins and vital nutrients, and it does so at a rock bottom caloric cost. For a mere 35 calories worth of cooked chard, you get more than 300% of your recommended daily intake of bone–strengthening vitamin K, 100% of your day’s vitamin A, shown to help defend against cancer and bolster vision, and 16% of hard-to-get vitamin E, which studies have shown may help sharpen mental acuity. Plus, emerging research suggests that the combination of phytonutrients and fiber in chard may provide an effective defense against colon cancer. Substitutes: Spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, watercress, arugula, romaine lettuce

 

 

 

 

 

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31 days to burn 7 pounds of fat
By Julie Stewart
1. WEEKEND Eat eggs for breakfast. A study in Nutrition Research found that people who egg it up consume fewer total calories the rest of the day.
2. MONDAY Stand up whenever you read or take a phone call at work. (You can also use a stand-up desk.) Standing burns 1 1/2 times more calories than sitting does.
3. TUESDAY Grab a pen. People who kept a food log for at least 3 weeks lost 3 1/2 pounds more than those who didn’t, a University of Arkansas study found.
4. WEDNESDAY Chew food slowly and completely: You’ll take in nearly 12 percent fewer calories than if you scarf it, notes an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.
5. THURSDAY Don’t eat meals in front of the TV. In a University of Massachusetts study, people who did that took in nearly 300 more calories a day.
6. FRIDAY Weigh yourself each week. Three out of four successful dieters do this, the American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Journal reports.
7/8. WEEKEND Dog-sit for a neighbor. But don’t just sit—take Fido for a walk. You’ll burn 61 calories in 15 minutes. (Better yet, make it an hour.)
9. MONDAY Want to blow off today’s workout? Bad idea. Miss one now and you’re 61 percent more likely to skip one next week, says a study in Health Psychology.
10. TUESDAY At lunch, have an apple instead of apple juice. Chewing triggers satiety, so you’ll likely consume nearly 15 percent fewer calories, notes the journal Appetite.
11. WEDNESDAY Added sugars lead to added lard, so cut them out. This week, drop the sweetest offenders—soda, baked goods, cereals, candy, fruit drinks, and ice cream.
12. THURSDAY Mix a shake: Consuming 55 grams of whey protein a day for 23 weeks can leave you 4 pounds lighter than if you’d eaten those calories in carbs, USDA scientists say.
13. FRIDAY Open the fridge and put produce at eye level. You’re 2.7 times more likely to eat healthy food if it’s in your line of sight, say scientists at Cornell University.
14/15. WEEKEND Reward yourself with a great Saturday night dinner, but don’t make it an all-weekend feed, or you may binge later, University of Texas researchers warn.
16. MONDAY Clean the house. People with the most spic-and-span abodes have the highest levels of physical activity, research from Indiana University reveals.
17. TUESDAY If you think you’re too busy to work out, think again: An 11-minute workout can help you burn more fat all day, a Southern Illinois University study found.

 

18. WEDNESDAY Make pushups work harder for you. Do an iso-explosive pushup: Hold your body in the down position for 3 seconds and then push up explosively.
19. THURSDAY Don’t let the bread basket hit the table. An Eastern Illinois University study found people ate 85 percent more bread when they were offered seconds.
20. FRIDAY Have some minty gum before your workout. The peppermint scent boosts sprinting speed and gym strength, says the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology.
21/22. WEEKEND Eat beta-glucan for breakfast. This oat fiber can help regulate appetite for up to 4 hours, according to a study in the journal Nutrition Research.
23. MONDAY Pee often. A study in the journal Obesity found that people who drank two 8.5-ounce glasses of water before each meal lost an extra 4.5 pounds in 12 weeks.
24. TUESDAY During your workout, rest for no more than 60 seconds between exercises to keep your metabolism-boosting hormones high for the duration.

 

25. WEDNESDAY Fill your plate from the stovetop. You’ll likely eat up to 35 percent less than if you shovel it from a serving dish on the table, say Cornell University researchers.

 

26. THURSDAY Keep your treadmill set to a minimum incline of 2 percent to painlessly boost workout intensity. Increase the incline further to burn even more calories.
27. FRIDAY Toss a half cup of chickpeas into your next pot of winter soup. You’ll tack 6 more grams of flab-fighting fiber onto your bottom line.
28/29. WEEKEND Walk to talk. Turn up your cellphone ringer and leave the phone in a far-off corner of the house to force yourself to stand up and go to it when it rings.
30. MONDAY Got milk? Drinking 2 1/2 cups of skim milk in the a.m. instead of the calorie equivalent in juice can lower calorie consumption by 8.5 percent, says an Australian study.
31. TUESDAY Cheers! Drink a 12-ounce Guinness Draught instead of a Bud to save about 20 calories and gain the same antioxidants found in wine.
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by Chris Garcia

Eating too fast is making your waistline expand, suggest two new studies presented at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society.

Men who consider themselves fast eaters have significantly higher body mass indexes (BMIs) than slower eaters, one study found. Men also eat faster than women, downing 80 calories a minute compared to just 52 for the fairer sex.

Researchers also found a connection between periods of emotional turmoil and faster eating, says University of Rhode Island professor Kathleen Melanson, Ph.D. When you are emotional, you pay less attention to what you are eating than you would normally. You desire the satisfaction of tasting food, which may drive you to eat fast, Melanson explains.

Eating fast doesn’t allow the nerve endings in your stomach—called stretch receptors—time to recognize when the stomach is full. You then overeat, leading to weight gain, researchers say.

So what can you do to keep yourself from shoveling down food?

  • Relax before you eat. Being stressed will make you feel like you need to eat quicker, said Melanson. One solution: Remember a vacation or time when you felt particularly relaxed. This tricks your mind into remembering the sounds, tastes, and feelings of being de-stressed.
  • Use smaller utensils, especially smaller spoons or chopsticks. Those who do consume 70 less calories per meal, according to a University of Rhode Island at Kingston study.
  • Savor the first three bites. When you pay attention and analyze the texture and the taste of food, you trick your mind into believing your stomach is fuller, says Jeffrey Greeson, Ph.D., a health psychologist at Duke Integrative Medicine.
  • Place your utensil in your non-dominant hand (if you are right-handed put it in your left, and vice versa). You will be more deliberate with each bite, making it easier to enjoy your food.
  • Sip water between bites. You will stay hydrated, keeping you from confusing dehydration with hunger and slowing the bites you take.
  • Talk to others at the dinner table. By expanding the conversation, you take longer between bites. Researchers at Flinders University found stimulating your mind keeps you from overindulging.
  • Add spice or hot sauce. Spice signals receptors in the brain and wakes it up to the fact that you are eating, said Greeson. It will also make you pay attention to flavor and drink more water.
  • Avoid soda and other sweet drinks made with high-fructose corn syrup. A University of California at San Francisco study found that the corn syrup blocks a key hormone that tells us when we are full.
  • Try black tea. A study in the Journal of American College of Nutrition found that black tea decreases blood sugar levels by 10 percent for 2 1/2 hours so you’ll feel fuller faster and avoid hunger later on.

 

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Americans’ diets are getting worse. But make a few changes, and you can fill up on fruits and vegetables every day without even trying.

By: Brittany Linn

Eating Fewer Veggies Than Ever

Many Americans have been told since preschool that getting five daily servings of fruits and vegetables is essential for health. Despite this common knowledge, it seems we don’t eat fruit and vegetables as often as we should…or even as often as we used to. A recent Gallup poll found that only 55.9 percent of Americans are eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables at least four days out of the week. Last year, the same poll showed that 57.8 percent of Americans were getting these servings. The 1.9 percent drop may not seem like much, but it equates to millions of Americans not getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. To up your numbers, follow these easy tips and you’ll get your daily dose in no time! And remember to buy organic to avoid pesticides and toxic chemicals.

 

 

 

 

Think Outside the Bin

• Make them more interesting. Sauté some veggies with olive oil and add your favorite spices. Dunk them in your favorite dressing, hummus, or low-fat dip.

• Buy them small. Throw baby carrots or grapes into a bag and take them with you for an easy snack on the go. The tiny versions of most vegetables actually tend to be sweeter and have more flavor in each bite.

 

 

 

 

Load Up Your Basket and Your Plate

• Have a shopping spree at the farmer’s market. When fresh fruits and veggies surround you, you’re more likely to purchase them. To stock up, hit a local farmer’s market first (winter farmer’s markets are more popular these days) and buy as much of your food as you can there, where there’s less opportunity to also buy cookies or chips.

• Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Make that a habit, as depicted on the new USDA food guide, and you’ll be well on your way to getting one to two servings in a single sitting.

 

 

 

 

Slurp ‘n Snack

• Go ahead and slurp your soup. Soup is a satisfying way to serve up some vegetables if you’re looking for new menu options. Fresh pea soup is just as good with frozen peas as fresh, and get a taste of summer, no matter what time of year, with refreshing summer gazpacho.

• Eat them in other places. Eating your fruits and veggies away from the table can make them seem less like a mandate and more like just another snack. Keep some grapes or cut-up carrots handy so you’ll have something to munch on while you’re surfing the Web, flipping channels, or talking on the phone.

 

 

 

 

Cook!

• Cook more meals at home. Cooking at home more often gives you the option to use healthier ingredients, and it saves you money, too. Whip up some veggie-filled, freezer-friendly casseroles. Or comee up with a meal plan that lets you cook once and eat for an entire week.

• Put them in muffins and breads. Grate some carrots or scoop dried cranberries or raisins into your next batch of baked goods to add another fruit serving to your day. Try some Spicy Carrot Muffins, Zucchini Apple Bread, or Blueberry Bread.

 

 

 

 

Make Them Whole, And Visible

• Eat them whole. The peels of most fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which many Americans are lacking in their diets. Eat them skin and all and you’ll be getting extra benefits. (Not recommended for bananas or pineapples.)

• Keep them visible. If your fruit is in a bowl on the kitchen counter, you’ll be much more likely to grab it after your busy day, rather dive into the bag of chips hidden in the pantry.

• Go frozen. When you’re in the supermarket, always head straight to the fresh produce section, since whole, unprocessed produce is the ideal way to get every nutrient benefit. But whenever you can’t seem to get your hands on the real thing, hit the frozen food aisle for equally nutritious, and possibly cheaper, alternatives.

 

 

Mix ‘Em Up

• Whip up some smoothies. Whether it’s strawberry-banana, green tea and blueberry, or a fruit and veggie mix, smoothies are an easy way to drink up your fruit and veggie servings.

• Add them to entrées. With some experimenting, you can probably find plenty of opportunities to sneak some veggies into recipes you already make. Some ideas: adding cut-up veggies to a pasta dish   or stuffing chicken or fish with spinach, garlic, and spices.

 

 

 

 

Start Healthy

• Have some salsa. Snack on chips and fresh salsa, or add salsa to a salad or recipe. Make all kinds of homemade healthy salsas using fresh tomatoes or jarred, green or red, or even fruit!

• Try a healthy app. Next time you sit down at a restaurant, try a starter salad instead of a calorie-packed appetizer. That way, you will initially fill up on vegetables, and have less room for the extra fat and calories in the main course. Since most restaurant portions are way too big, bring home the extra to enjoy at another meal.

 

 

 

 

Get Creative

• Grill ‘em. At your summer barbecue, next to your standard grill-friendly foods, slice up a pineapple, peach, eggplant, or zucchini, and grill those, too! There are dozens of veggie-heavy meatless grilling ideasyou can try any time of year.

• Buy fresh, eat fast. If you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, you’ll only have a few days to eat them before they go bad. This could very well be motivation to put them on your plate ASAP.

 

 

 

 

Have Your Cake…

• Try them dried. Even though eating fresh fruits will give your body more nutrients with less processed sugar, you can enjoy a small amount of dried fruit as a snack or salad topper and get almost as many vitamins and minerals as are in the fresh kind. Make sure you are aware of the portion size, though, because most times it’s only a quarter cup. You can also use dried fruits, like dates, as sweeteners in baked goods, instead of sugar.

• Then, have your cake with fruit. If you top your ice cream, pie, or cake with fresh berries, that counts as a serving, believe it or not. That’s not an excuse to eat extra dessert, of course, but it does make your dessert a more healthful. A better way to think of it is to have your fruit with cake. The majority of the treat should involve the healthy stuff.

 

 

 

 

Make Substitutions

• Buy them frozen. When you’re in the supermarket, always head straight to the fresh produce section, since whole, unprocessed fruit is the ideal way to get every nutrient benefit. But whenever you can’t seem to get your hands on the real thing, buy frozen. Fruits and vegetables have just as much nutrition when they’re as they do when they’re fresh. Keep a few bags in your freezer so you always have some onhand.

• Buy them prepackaged. If it’s the hassle of preparation that’s holding you back from eating your veggies, buy them pre-chopped, pre-peeled, or in premade salads.

• Think jars. Jarred tomatoes, sugar-free applesauce, and or fruit preserves with low sugar will all suffice when fruit is too expensive or not in season. Be sure to keep tabs on the calorie, sugar, and sodium content of these foods, however, despite the labels.

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