Diet

You are what you eat!

Don’t be tricked by “natural” cereals. If you really want healthy choices, pick cereals from companies committed to organic ingredients.

By: Leah Zerbe

Healthy Cereals That Are Actually Healthy

Walking down the cereal aisle, you’re bombarded by all sorts of packaging claims touting amazing mineral content, vitamin enhancements, and superfood ingredient superstars. But the label most notorious for confusing customers is the claim of being “All Natural.”

To bring attention to this marketing gimmick, the Cornucopia Institute, an organization dedicated to responsible farming and marketing, analyzed “natural” cereals and created an Organic Cereal Scorecard to help health-conscious consumers find what they really want—cereals free of harmful artificial dyes and flavors, refined sugars, pesticide residues, and genetically engineered ingredients (things that are routinely found in “all natural” cereals, but not in certified-organic products).

The following list of 10 organic cereals represents companies that Cornucopia Institute recognizes as trustworthy and committed to organics, not ones out trying to trick shoppers.

 

 

 

Lydia’s Organics Grainless Apple Cereal

Nutritional perks: The cereal aisle can be hard to navigate if you’re eating a gluten-free diet. Luckily, Lydia’s Organics offers a line of grainless cereals, including this best-selling raw apple cereal packed with nothing more than organic apples, sprouted sunflower seeds*, sprouted almonds, raisins, walnuts, figs, and cinnamon. (Oh yeah, and a little love!)

Try it: Lydia’s suggests topping it off with some organic almond milk for a well-rounded breakfast option that even vegans can enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambrosial Granola Venetian Vineyard

Nutritional perks: Selected as Prevention magazine’s Healthiest Cereal of 2011, this well-rounded breakfast option packs 10 percent of the iron you need in a day, 6 grams of protein, and a healthy dose of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.

Try it: With organic milk or in organic yogurt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm to Table Ancient Grain Oatmeal

Nutritional perks: This isn’t your average oatmeal. Farm to Table’s ancient grain oatmeal blend incorporates grains like spelt and kamut, an ancient cereal grain related to durum wheat. Kamut packs up to 40 percent more protein than conventional wheat, helping you feel fuller longer.

Try it: Cook with milk on the stove top for a creamier texture, and then top with a bit of cinnamon and just a splash of organic half-and-half for a quick, healthy start to your day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandy Oats Swiss Style Muesli

Nutritional perks: Adopt this healthy Swiss tradition for a fulfilling, nutrient-packed morning meal, full of oats, heart-healthy almonds and hazelnuts, vitamin C–rich apple pieces, and dates and raisins rich in trace minerals, along with sunflower seeds that reduce inflammation. Not only do you get all that nutrition, but muesli also has a low glycemic index, so you won’t get a mid-morning sugar crash.

Try it: Mix with organic Greek yogurt or top with organic, low-fat milk for a hearty breakfast that will keep your energy up all morning long. To be truly Swiss, eat it the traditional way, soaked in a little milk and yogurt overnight in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughing Giraffe Cherry Ginger Granola

Nutritional perks: Known as “America’s Superfruit,” cherries, the superstar in this breakfast mix, are credited with everything from alleviating arthritis pain to keeping your heart in tip-top shape. The organic coconut oil provides a dose of lauric acid, a nutrient our bodies need to fortify our immune systems.

Try it: Enjoy as a cereal with your favorite organic milk, or just eat it right out of the bag when you’re running late for work in the morning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Blueberry Cinnamon

Nutritional perks: Forget nutritional duds like conventional corn flakes. These organic flakes are made from protein-rich kamut wheat and bolstered by antioxidant-rich blueberries freeze-dried at the peak of perfection. Blueberries have been shown to improve memory.

Try it: With organic milk or, if you’re a vegan, try topping off a bowl with organic coconut milk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great River Organic Milling Highland Medley

Nutritional perks: The perfect healthy, hot cereal for cold winter mornings, this simple medley includes immune system–boosting, cholesterol-lowering steel-cut oats, hulled barley, and brown rice for a textured, hearty morning meal.

Try it: Great for cold-weather meals, this blend is also popular among campers for its no-nonsense, easy prep. Just boil water and add, and then customize with your favorite fruits and nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Raw Live Granola

Nutritional perks: Packed with live, powerful phytochemicals that can ward off disease, the star of this breakfast blend, sprouted organic buckwheat, is known for it’s heart-healthy, energizing properties. Just what you need first thing in the morning! The organic raisins and dates provide a subtle sweetness without sending you into sugar shock, the way many conventional cereals do.

Try it: On hectic mornings, eat it right out of the bag! When you have time for a sit-down breakfast, the maker suggests enjoying the raw breakfast treat with organic almond milk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaia Cocoa Bliss

Nutritional perks: You can get your cocoa fix without ingesting all of the artificial food dyes, refined sugars, and other harmful ingredients common to conventional items in the cereal aisle. This buckwheat-based breakfast also features immune-boosting coconut flakes, along with nerve-calming, magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds.

Try it: Scoop some into yogurt, or simply eat it straight out of the bag for a healthy morning meal or snack. Or top the mix with your favorite organic milk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Moms in the Raw Blueberry Granola

Nutritional perks: This gluten-free bestseller is anything but bland in the taste and nutrition departments. The blend contains heart-healthy oats and buckwheat, but also millet, a grain common in bird food, but one that is loaded with trace minerals that helps build and repair human tissue, too! Apples, blueberries, almonds, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds are the stars of the mix, providing a balanced mix of protein and complex carbs that won’t spike your blood sugar and cause a mid-morning crash.

Try it: Eat it right out of the bag or mix with organic yogurt for a quick, nutrient-packed breakfast.

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by Mens Health

Why do some people seem naturally thin—able to torch cheeseburgers instantly
and never gain a pound? And why do some of us—okay, most of us—sweat and diet
and sweat and diet some more, and never lose enough to get the body we want?

Because those “naturally thin” people actually live by a series of laws that
keep them from ever gaining weight. And if you know their secrets, you can
indulge and enjoy and never gain another pound as long as you live.

As the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, I’ve spent the past two decades
interviewing leading experts, poring over groundbreaking studies, and grilling
top athletes, trainers, and celebrities for their health and fitness advice. And
I’ve learned that what separates the fit from the fat, the slim from the sloppy,
the toned from the torpid, is a set of rules. And what’s amazing is that none of
them involves spending hours on a treadmill, eating nothing but grapefruit and
tree bark, or having part of the small intestine replaced with fiberfill. Follow
these simple rules and weight loss will be automatic.

-David
Zinczenko

LAW #1: Lean People Don’t Diet

What? Of course lean people diet! They’re just
magically better at denying themselves than the rest of us are,
right?

No. In reality, studies show that the number one predictor of
future weight gain is being on a diet right now. Part of the reason is that
restricting calories reduces strength, bone density, and muscle mass—and muscle
is your body’s number-one calorie burner. So by dieting, you’re actually setting
yourself up to gain more weight than ever. And a recent study in the journal
Psychosomatic Medicine showed that tracking your diet in a food journal
can actually boost your stress levels, which in turn increases your level of a
hormone called cortisol, and cortisol is linked to—you guessed it—weight
gain.

 

LAW #2: Lean People Don’t Go Fat-Free

A European study tracked nearly 90,000 people for several years and
discovered that participants who tried to eat “low fat” had the same risk of
being overweight as those who ate whatever they wanted.

Fat doesn’t make
you fat, period. Indeed, you need fat in your diet to help you process certain
nutrients, like vitamins A, D, and E, for example. And many “fat-free” foods are
loaded with sugar, and therefore have even more calories than their full-fat
cousins. Even the American Heart Association says that fat-free labels lead to
higher consumption of unhealthy sweets. Fat keeps you full and satisfied.
Fat-free will send you running back to the fridge in an hour, hungry for
more.

LAW #3: Lean People Sit Down to Eat

In fact, the more you sit down and enjoy your food,
the leaner you’re going to be. Punishing yourself only makes you
fat!

Greek researchers recently reported that eating more slowly and
savoring your meal can boost levels of two hormones that make you feel fuller.
And researchers at Cornell University found that when people sat down at the
table with already full plates of food, they consumed up to 35 percent less than
they did when eating family-style—that is, by passing serving dishes around the
table.

 

LAW #4: Lean People Know What They’re Going to Eat Next

Planning your responses to hunger may help you shed
pounds faster, say Dutch researchers. They posed their subjects questions like
“If you’re hungry at 4 p.m., then . . . what?” Those who had an answer (“I’ll
snack on some almonds”) were more successful at losing weight than those who
didn’t have an answer.

 

LAW #5: Lean People Eat Protein

In a recent European study, people who ate
moderately high levels of protein were twice as likely to lose weight and keep
it off as those who didn’t eat much protein.

A New England Journal
of Medicine
study looked at a variety of eating plans and discovered that
eating a diet high in protein and low in refined starches (like white bread) was
the most effective for weight loss. Protein works on two levels: First, you burn
more calories to digest it. Second, because your body has to work harder to
digest a Big Mac than, say, a Ho Ho, you stay fuller longer.

 

LAW #6: Lean People Move Around

I don’t mean climbing Kilimanjaro, breaking the tape at the Boston Marathon,
or spending 24 hours at 24 Hour Fitness. I mean going for a short bike ride (20
minutes burns 200 calories), taking a leisurely walk (145 calories every 51
minutes), wrestling with your kids (another 100 calories smoked in 22 minutes),
or fishing (there’s 150 calories gone in an hour—even more if you actually catch
something).

Simply put, fit people stay fit by having fun. Scientists
have a name for how you burn calories just enjoying yourself. It’s called NEAT:
non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Sounds complicated, like something only
policy wonks at a global warming summit are qualified to discuss. But it’s
pretty simple: Pick a few activities that you enjoy, from tossing a stick for
your dog to bowling with your best friend, and just do them more often. The
average person makes 200 decisions every day that affect his or her weight. If
you choose the fun option more often than not, you’ll see results.

LAW #6: Lean People Move Around

I don’t mean climbing Kilimanjaro, breaking the tape at the Boston Marathon,
or spending 24 hours at 24 Hour Fitness. I mean going for a short bike ride (20
minutes burns 200 calories), taking a leisurely walk (145 calories every 51
minutes), wrestling with your kids (another 100 calories smoked in 22 minutes),
or fishing (there’s 150 calories gone in an hour—even more if you actually catch
something).

Simply put, fit people stay fit by having fun. Scientists
have a name for how you burn calories just enjoying yourself. It’s called NEAT:
non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Sounds complicated, like something only
policy wonks at a global warming summit are qualified to discuss. But it’s
pretty simple: Pick a few activities that you enjoy, from tossing a stick for
your dog to bowling with your best friend, and just do them more often. The
average person makes 200 decisions every day that affect his or her weight. If
you choose the fun option more often than not, you’ll see results.

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If you want some insight into the food industry, take a stroll through your grocery store’s candy aisle. There, on the labels of such products as Mike and Ike and Good & Plenty, you’ll find what perhaps is a surprising claim: “Fat free.” This is completely true, but it’s also utterly insulting. These empty-calorie junk foods are almost 100 percent sugar and processed carbs. You’d be better off eating fat.

Food manufacturers
think you’re stupid. In fact, their marketing strategies rely on it. In the case of candy makers, they’re hoping you’ll equate “fat free” with “healthy” or “nonfattening”—so that you forget about all the sugar these products contain.

It’s a classic bait and switch.

And the candy aisle is just the start.
That’s why the Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide has scoured the supermarket to crack the packaged food labeling code—now you can make sure you get exactly what you’re paying for. Never be fooled by misleading
labels again!
_____

For the latest nutrition, health, and fitness news, check out our new Today’s News channel!

Save calories, time, and money with our FREE Eat This Not That Newsletter. Sign up today and you’ll get the Eat This, Not That! guide to shopping once and eating for a week for free!

Organic Junk Food

Kraft Original Macaroni and Cheese

The Claim: “USDA organic”

The Truth: It’s organic so it must
be healthy, right? Not so much. For an extra 60 cents per box, consumers save 20
calories and 1 gram of fat. They also gain 2 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber,
and 50 milligrams of sodium and they lose 6 percent of their daily iron. The
point is, even organic junk food is still junk food. Your body processes organic
refined flour and powdered cheese the same way it does conventional, so at the
end of the day it’s still a high-calorie, low-nutrient
letdown.

What You Really Want: If you must have mac,
pick one with a label that reads like the recipe you’d use to fix it at home.
Annie’s line of macaroni and cheese contains about eight ingredients per box and
cuts the fat by 72 percent over Kraft Organic.

 

 

 

100 Percent Misleading

Tropicana Pure 100% Juice Pomegranate
Blueberry

The Claim: “100% juice pomegranate blueberry”

The Truth: Drinks may be labeled 100 percent pure juice, but
that doesn’t mean they’re made exclusively with the advertised juice.
Pomegranate and blueberry get top billing here, even though the ingredient list reveals that par, apple, and grape juices are among the first four ingredients.
These juices are used because they’re cheap to produce and because they’re very sweet-likely to keep you coming back for more. Labels loaded with of-the-moment superfoods like acai and pomegranate are especially susceptible to this type of trickery.

What You Really Want: To avoid the huge sugar  surge, pick single-fruit juices. POM and R.W. Knudsen both make some reliably pure products.

 

 

 

A Not-So-Juicy Cocktail

Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry

The Claim: “Juice drink”

The Truth: Words like “juice drink” and “juice cocktail” are
industry euphemisms for a huge dose of sugar water. In this case, the product is also adorned with a cluster of other claims that attempt to hide this simple fact. (Most of Ocean Spray’s juice products suffer from a serious lack of juice; this particular one, with just 18 percent juice, is one of the worst offenders.)
Ocean Spray, to be sure, is not the only juice purveyor guilty of this sleight  of hand: Dozens of manufacturers, including Welch’s, Minute Maid, and SunnyD,  perpetrate similar nutritional injustices.

What You Really Want: Every juice that hits your lips should be 100 percent juice.  Period.

 

Got Milk?

Yoo-Hoo

The Claim: “Chocolate drink”

The Truth: Ever notice the conspicuous absence of milk in
the title of this popular drink? The first ingredient in this kid-favorite is
water, the second high-fructose corn syrup; in fact, nonfat dry milk does not appear until the ninth ingredient, three slots below partially hydrogenated soybean oil. As a result, Yoo-Hoo offers less than half the calcium and vitamin D provided by the real thing.

What You Really Want:
Yoo-Hoo is fine for the occasional indulgence, but for a kid in need of
nutrition, real milk will always be the better choice. Organic Valley’s
Chocolate Lowfat Milk comes in 8-ounc cartons for automatic portion control.

 

 

 

All-Natural Disaster

7UP

The Claim: “All Natural Flavors”

The Truth: The FDA doesn’t have a definition for this claim.
Case in point: 7UP now boasts that it’s made with 100 percent natural ingredients. That’s because they’ve switched from carbonated water to filtered water, from citric acid to natural citric acid, and from calcium disodium EDT to natural potassium citrate. Got it? Here’s the kicker: The soft drink is still sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, which can’t be made without the help of
a centrifuge.

What You Really Want: A healthy choice,
like lemon and seltzer. 7UP’s tactic is employed primarily by companies making junk food (see also: Natural Cheetos). Considering that the calorie counts are nearly always identical with their “unnatural” brethren (in the case of 7UP, calories and sugar counts are the exact same), concentrate on the bigger issues and find reliably healthy drinks and snacks.

 

 

The “Health” Food That Isn’t

Healthy Choice Sweet & Sour Chicken

The Claim: “Healthy Choice”

The Truth: A company can call itself whatever it wants, but
that doesn’t give credence to the name. Healthy Choice even provides a handful of nutritional stats-430 calories, 9 grams fat, 600 milligrams sodium-to back up the name, but they neglect to mention the 29 grams of added sugars used in this dish. The six different forms of sweeteners in the ingredient list combine to
give this less-than-healthy choice almost the same amount of sugar as a Snickers bar. Many Healthy Choice selections are reliably nutritious; this is not one of them.

What You Really Want: Dinner that doesn’t taste
like a bowl of ice cream. While fat and calories are important considerations in everything you eat, be sure to read the fine print. Companies with healthy label claims often pull the bait and switch, going low in fat but then elevating the sugar or sodium to up the flavor quotient.

 

The Freezer Burn

Tofutti Vanilla Almond Bark

The Claims: “No butterfat”; “no cholesterol”

The Truth: Though both of these claims are technically true,
they paint a false sense of security in the person looking for a healthy indulgence. Ignore front label claims (Tofutti is not made with dairy, so by definition it can’t have butterfat or cholesterol) and flip the package for the  straight scoop; here you’ll see that this ice cream substitute still has 15 grams of fat and 16 grams of sugar per serving-as high as most full-fledged ice  creams.

What You Really Want: If you’re lactose
intolerant, both Soy Delicious and Soy Dream make reliably low-cal non-dairy creams. If you’re just looking for a healthy ice cream fix, try Breyers Double Churn.

 

(Kind of) “Real” Food

Kid Cuisine All Star Chicken Nuggets

The Claims: “Made with real chicken”; “made with real cheese”

The Truth: Yes, there is actual chicken in these
“nugget-shaped patties,” but it shares space with 17 other ingredients, including textured soy protein and modified food starch. The mac with “real cheese” does have cheddar, but it also has 34 other ingredients, including the carb filler maltodextrin. Rule of thumb: If a product makes claims about its  realness on the package, be skeptical.

What You Really
Want:
To eat more food and fewer science experiments. While it’s tricky  with our industrialized food complex, stick to items with as few ingredients as  possible. If they’re chicken nuggets, that means chicken, bread crumbs, and oil. Foster Farms Breast Nuggets fit the bill.

 

The Cheeseless Cheese Pizza

Mama Celeste Original Pizza

The Claim: “Original Pizza”

The Truth: Ever had a pizza without cheese? Well, if you eat
this one you will have, since Mama Celeste doesn’t use a single shred of real  cheese in making this problematic pie. What does she use? Imitation mozzarella, which is the second ingredient on the list and is composed mostly of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, endowing each serving with 5 grams of nasty trans fats. Also watch out for the attachment of the word “flavored,” as in
“strawberry-flavored”; it’s a surefire sign that the product is utterly
fruitless.

What You Really Want: Cheese, strawberries,  or whatever you think it is you’re getting. If the name or flavor in the food’s title isn’t one of the first few ingredients, find another product.

 

 

 

 

The Absent Avocado

Dean’s Guacamole

The Claim: “Guacamole”

The Truth: This “guacamole” dip is comprised of less than 2
percent avocado; the rest of the green goo is a cluster of fillers and
chemicals, including modified food starch, soybean oils, locust bean gum, and food coloring. Dean’s isn’t alone in this guacamole caper; most guacs with the word “dip” attached to them suffer from a lack of avocado. This was brought to light when a California woman filed a lawsuit against Dean’s after she noticed “it just didn’t taste avocado-y.” Similarly, a British judge ruled that Pringles are not technically chips, being that they have only 42 percent potato in them.

What You Really Want: If you want the heart-healthy fat, you’ll need avocado. Wholly Guacamole makes a great guac, or mash up a bowl yourself.

 

The Unnatural Fruit

Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bar

The Claim: “Naturally and artificially flavored”

The Truth: While the FDA requires manufacturers to disclose
the use of artificial flavoring on the front of the box, the requirements for what is considered “natural” and “real” are not strict: Even trace amounts of the essence or extract of fruit counts as natural. So yes, there is fruit in this bar, but it falls third in the ingredients list, behind HFCS and corn syrup.

What You Really Want: An honest snack with
nothing to hide. Lärabars, one of our favorite snacks in the aisle, are made with nothing more than dried fruit and nuts.

 

 

 

The Hidden Trans Fats

Cheetos Crunchy

The Claim: “Zero gram trans fats”

The Truth: FDA allows manufacturers to make this claim when
their products contain less than 0.5 gram of trans fats per serving. It may seem insignificant, but 0.49 gram of this nefarious fat can add up
quickly.

What You Really Want: Keep total trans fat  intake to no more than 1 percent of total calories-about 2.5 grams per day for most adults. That means reading the ingredients list (especially those that proclaim to be trans-fat free) looking for “partially hydrogenated,” “shortening,” or “interesterified.”

 

 

 

 

The Conspicuous Trans Fats

Pop Secret Homestyle Popcorn

The Claim: “Made with a sprinkle of salt and a taste of butter”

The Truth: The taste of the butter is actually the taste of
partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which imbues on this greasy bag a total of 18 grams of trans fats-more than seven times what you should safely consume in a day, according to the American Heart Association. No area of the supermarket is more riddles with these fats-proven to increase the risk of coronary heart disease-than the snack aisles, so be on high alert.

What You
Really Want:
Unadulterated popcorn. Buy a low-calorie bag like Smart Balance Smart Movie-Style, then flavor it at home with a bit of heart-healthy olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs.

 

Bogus Bread

Home Pride Wheat Bread

The Claims: “1 gram of fat per slice”; “wheat bread”

The Truth: This over-trumpeted claim (since when has bread
contained much fat, anyway?) tries to distract from the fact that each slice has three times more sugar than fiber. Whatever wheat that went into this bread was stripped of all of its meaningful nutrients. Perhaps most concerning, the ingredients list here is more than a dozen items long, many of them unpronounceable additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Whatever happened to
the days when bread was just flour, water, and yeast?

What You Really Want: Ignore fat when it comes to bread; there’s rarely enough in a slice to make a real difference. More important, seek out a bread with more fiber per slice than sugar and with as few ingredients as possible.

 

The Fat Fake-Out

Smucker’s Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter

The Claim: “25% less fat than regular natural peanut butter”

The Truth: Smucker’s has indeed removed some of the fat from
the peanut butter, but they’ve replaced it with maltodextrin, a carbohydrate
used as a cheap filler in many processed foods. This means you’re trading the
healthy fat from peanuts for empty carbs, double the sugar, and a savings of a
meager 10 calories.

What You Really Want: The real  stuff: no oils, fillers, or added sugars. Just peanuts and salt. Smucker’s Natural fits the bill, as do many other peanut butters out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cereal Conundrum

Kellogg’s Smart Start Cereal

The Claim: “Lightly sweetened”

The Truth: Unregulated by the USDA, the word “lightly” gets
tossed around like a Frisbee in the food packaging world. Always take it with a
grain of salt; in many instances, “light” is the first sign of trouble. With
this healthy-sounding cereal, “lightly” means 14 grams of sugar from 5 different
sources, all of which adds up to a cereal with more added sugars per serving
than Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, or Apple Jacks.

What You Really Want: A cereal with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving (and ideally less than 5), with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Look at cereal
as a sugar-to-fiber ratio; you want a ratio no higher than two to one.

 

 

 

 

The Vitamin Vacuum

Kelloggs Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Pop-Tarts

The Claim: “Good source of 7 vitamins and minerals”

The Truth: Five of the seven
vitamins and minerals are derived from this product’s first ingredient-enriched
flour. That’s the code word for “refined flour that’s had nutrients added to it
after it’s been stripped of fiber.”

What You Really Want: A breakfast without the nutritional profile of a dessert. Studies show that people who opt for high-quality protein (eggs, yogurt) over refined carbohydrates (pancakes, bagels, Pop-Tarts) lose weight faster and maintain higher levels of energy throughout the day.

Thanks for reading!

 

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By: Jonny Bowden, Ph. D.

Although some guys aren’t opposed to smoking some weed, most wouldn’t think of eating one. It’s a shame, really, since a succulent weed named purslane is not only delicious but also among the world’s healthiest foods.

Of course, there are many superfoods that never see the inside of a shopping cart. Some you’ve never heard of, and others you’ve simply forgotten about. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best of the bunch. Make a place for them on your table and you’ll instantly upgrade your health—without a prescription.

Cabbage

Absent from most American kitchens, this cruciferous vegetable is a major player in European and Asian diets.

Why It’s Healthy: One cup of chopped cabbage has just 22 calories, and it’s loaded with valuable nutrients. At the top of the list is sulforaphane, a chemical that increases your body’s production of enzymes that disarm cell-damaging free radicals and reduce your risk of cancer. In fact, Stanford University scientists determined that sulforaphane boosts your levels of these cancer-fighting enzymes higher than any other plant chemical.

How to Eat It: Put cabbage on your burgers to add a satisfying crunch. Or, for an even better sandwich topping or side salad, try an Asian-style slaw. Here’s what you’ll need.

4 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
Juice of two limes
1 Tbsp sriracha, an Asian chili sauce you can find in the international section of your grocery store
1 head napa cabbage, finely chopped or shredded
1/4 cup toasted peanuts
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Whisk together the oil, lime juice, and sriracha. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving. The slaw will keep in your fridge for 2 days.

Beets

These grungy-looking roots are naturally sweeter than any other vegetable, which means they pack tons of flavor underneath their rugged exterior.

Why They’re Healthy: Think of beets as red spinach. Just like Popeye’s powerfood, this crimson vegetable is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments—called betacyanins—that give beets their color have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.

How to Eat Them: Fresh and raw, not from a jar. Heating beets actually decreases their antioxidant power. For a simple single-serving salad, wash and peel one beet, and then grate it on the widest blade of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon.

You can eat the leaves and stems, which are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Simply cut off the stems just below the point where the leaves start, and wash thoroughly. They’re now ready to be used in a salad. Or, for a side dish, sautĂ© the leaves, along with a minced clove of garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil, in a sautĂ© pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.

Guava

Guava is an obscure tropical fruit that’s subtly acidic, with sweetness that intensifies as you eat your way to the center.

Why it’s Healthy: Guava has a higher concentration of lycopene—an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer—than any other plant food, including tomatoes and watermelon. In addition, 1 cup of the stuff provides 688 milligrams (mg) of potassium, which is 63 percent more than you’ll find in a medium banana. And guava may be the ultimate high-fiber food: There’s almost 9 grams (g) of fiber in every cup.

How to Eat It: Down the entire fruit, from the rind to the seeds. It’s all edible—and nutritious. The rind alone has more vitamin C than you’d find in the flesh of an orange. You can score guava in the produce section of higher-end supermarkets or in Latin grocery stores.

Swiss Chard

Hidden in the leafy-greens cooler of your market, you’ll find this slightly bitter, salty vegetable, which is actually native to the Mediterranean.

Why It’s Healthy: A half cup of cooked Swiss chard provides a huge amount of both lutein and zeaxanthin, supplying 10 mg each. These plant chemicals, known as carotenoids, protect your retinas from the damage of aging, according to Harvard researchers. That’s because both nutrients, which are actually pigments, appear to accumulate in your retinas, where they absorb the type of shortwave light rays that can damage your eyes. So the more lutein and zeaxanthin you eat, the better your internal eye protection will be.

How to Eat It: Chard goes great with grilled steaks and chicken, and it also works well as a bed for pan-seared fish. Wash and dry a bunch of Swiss chard, and then chop the leaves and stems into 1-inch pieces. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sautĂ© pan or wok, and add two garlic cloves that you’ve peeled and lightly crushed. When the oil smokes lightly, add the chard. SautĂ© for 5 to 7 minutes, until the leaves wilt and the stems are tender. Remove the garlic cloves and season the chard with salt and pepper.

Cinnamon

This old-world spice usually reaches most men’s stomachs only when it’s mixed with sugar and stuck to a roll.

Why It’s Healthy: Cinnamon helps control your blood sugar, which influences your risk of heart disease. In fact, USDA researchers found that people with type-2 diabetes who consumed 1 g of cinnamon a day for 6 weeks (about 1/4 teaspoon each day) significantly reduced not only their blood sugar but also their triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Credit the spice’s active ingredients, methylhydroxychalcone polymers, which increase your cells’ ability to metabolize sugar by up to 20 times.

How to Eat It: You don’t need the fancy oils and extracts sold at vitamin stores; just sprinkle the stuff that’s in your spice rack (or in the shaker at Starbucks) into your coffee or on your oatmeal.

Purslane

Although the FDA classifies purslane as a broad-leaved weed, it’s a popular vegetable and herb in many other countries, including China, Mexico, and Greece.

Why It’s Healthy: Purslane has the highest amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fats of any edible plant, according to researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The scientists also report that this herb has 10 to 20 times more melatonin—an antioxidant that may inhibit cancer growth—than any other fruit or vegetable tested.

How to Eat It: In a salad. Think of purslane as a great alternative or addition to lettuce: The leaves and stems are crisp, chewy, and succulent, and they have a mild lemony taste. Look for it at your local farmer’s market, or Chinese or Mexican market. It’s also available at some Whole Foods stores, as an individual leafy green or in premade salad mixes.

Pomegranate Juice

A popular drink for decades in the Middle East, pomegranate juice has become widely available only recently in the United States.

Why It’s Healthy: Israeli scientists discovered that men who downed just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for a year decreased their systolic (top number) blood pressure by 21 percent and significantly improved bloodflow to their hearts. What’s more, 4 ounces provides 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.

How to Drink It: Try 100 percent pomegranate juice from Pom Wonderful. It contains no added sugars, and because it’s so powerful, a small glassful is all you need. (For a list of retailers, go to pomwonderful.com.)

Goji Berries

These raisin-size fruits are chewy and taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. More important, these potent berries have been used as a medicinal food in Tibet for over 1,700 years.

Why They’re Healthy: Goji berries have one of the highest ORAC ratings—a method of gauging antioxidant power—of any fruit, according to Tufts University researchers. And although modern scientists began to study this ancient berry only recently, they’ve found that the sugars that make goji berries sweet reduce insulin resistance—a risk factor of diabetes—in rats.

How to Eat Them: Mix dried or fresh goji berries with a cup of plain yogurt, sprinkle them on your oatmeal or cold cereal, or enjoy a handful by themselves. You can find them at specialty supermarkets or at gojiberries.us.

Dried Plums

You may know these better by the moniker “prunes,” which are indelibly linked with nursing homes and bathroom habits. And that explains why, in an effort to revive this delicious fruit’s image, producers now market them under another name.

Why They’re Healthy: Prunes contain high amounts of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, antioxidants that are particularly effective at combating the “superoxide anion radical.” This nasty free radical causes structural damage to your cells, and such damage is thought to be one of the primary causes of cancer.

How to Eat Them: As an appetizer. Wrap a paper-thin slice of prosciutto around each dried plum and secure with a toothpick. Bake in a 400°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the plums are soft and the prosciutto is crispy. Most of the fat will cook off, and you’ll be left with a decadent-tasting treat that’s sweet, savory, and healthy.

Pumpkin Seeds

These jack-o’-lantern waste products are the most nutritious part of the pumpkin.

Why They’re Healthy: Downing pumpkin seeds is the easiest way to consume more magnesium. That’s important because French researchers recently determined that men with the highest levels of magnesium in their blood have a 40 percent lower risk of early death than those with the lowest levels. And on average, men consume 353 mg of the mineral daily, well under the 420 mg minimum recommended by the USDA.

How to Eat Them: Whole, shells and all. (The shells provide extra fiber.) Roasted pumpkin seeds contain 150 mg of magnesium per ounce; add them to your regular diet and you’ll easily hit your daily target of 420 mg. Look for them in the snack or health-food section of your grocery store, next to the peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

Antioxidants, Explained

The science is clear: Plant foods are good for you. And the credit often goes to chemicals they produce called antioxidants. Just as the name suggests, antioxidants help protect your cells against oxidation. Think of oxidation as rust. This rust is caused by free radicals, which are unstable oxygen atoms that attack your cells, inducing DNA damage that leads to cancer. Thankfully, antioxidants help stabilize free radicals, which keeps the rogue atoms from harming your cells.

So by eating more antioxidant-rich foods, you’ll boost the amount of the disease-fighting chemicals floating in your bloodstream. The result: Every bite fortifies your body with all-natural preventive medicine.

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By: Adam Campbell

If muscles were made from chips and beer, we’d look huge. But they aren’t, and we don’t—unless you count that sack o’ fat up front and dead center.

If not Doritos and double bock, then what? We decided to delve deep into the human anatomy to find the secret spot on every muscle where the word “ingredients” is stamped. With the help of Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., an exercise and nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut, and a really big magnifying glass, we found it. Eight foods are on the list: eggs, almonds, olive oil, salmon, steak, yogurt, water, and coffee. Add these ingredients to your stomach and faithfully follow the directions on the package—”Lift heavy weights”—and you can whip up a batch of biceps in no time.

MORE: The 2011 Urbanathlon Workout is our toughest fitness challenge yet. Check it out and see if you really are Men’s Health fit.

Eggs: The Perfect Protein

How they build muscle:Not from being hurled by the dozen at your boss’s house. The protein in eggs has the highest biological value—a measure of how well it supports your body’s protein needs—of any food, including our beloved beef. “Calorie for calorie, you need less protein from eggs than you do from other sources to achieve the same muscle-building benefits,” says Volek.

But you have to eat the yolk. In addition to protein, it also contains vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. (And no, eating a few eggs a day won’t increase your risk of heart disease.)

How they keep you healthy: Eggs are vitamins and minerals over easy; they’re packed with riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, B12, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

Almonds: Muscle Medicine

How they build muscle: Crunch for crunch, almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E—the form that’s best absorbed by your body. That matters to your muscles because “vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy workouts,” says Volek. And the fewer hits taken from free radicals, the faster your muscles will recover from a workout and start growing.

How many almonds should you munch? Two handfuls a day should do it. A Toronto University study found that men can eat this amount daily without gaining any weight.

How they keep you healthy: Almonds double as brain insurance. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those men who consumed the most vitamin E—from food sources, not supplements—had a 67 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those eating the least vitamin E.

 

Salmon: The Growth Regulator

How it builds muscle:It’s swimming with high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega-3’s can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout, improving recovery,” says Tom Incledon, R.D., a nutritionist with Human Performance Specialists. This is important, because to build muscle you need to store new protein faster than your body breaks down the old stuff.

Order some salmon jerky from www.freshseafood.com. It’ll keep forever in your gym bag and tastes mighty close to cold-smoked cow.

How it keeps you healthy: By reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that when overweight people added 1.8 grams of DHA—an omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil—to their daily diets, their insulin resistance decreased by 70 percent in 12 weeks.

MORE: Try our Ultimate 12-Week Cardio Plan to get in the best shape of your life!

Yogurt: The Golden Ratio

How it builds muscle:Even with the aura of estrogen surrounding it, “yogurt is an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates for exercise recovery and muscle growth,” says Doug Kalman, R.D., director of nutrition at Miami Research Associates.

Buy regular—not sugar-free—with fruit buried at the bottom. The extra carbohydrates from the fruit will boost your blood levels of insulin, one of the keys to reducing postexercise protein breakdown.

How it keeps you healthy: Three letters: CLA. “Yogurt is one of the few foods that contain conjugated linoleic acid, a special type of fat shown in some studies to reduce body fat,” says Volek.

Beef: Carvable Creatine

How it builds muscle: More than just a piece of charbroiled protein, “beef is also a major source of iron and zinc, two crucial muscle-building nutrients,” says Incledon. Plus, it’s the number-one food source of creatine—your body’s energy supply for pumping iron—2 grams for every 16 ounces.

For maximum muscle with minimum calories, look for “rounds” or “loins”—butcherspeak for meat cuts that are extra-lean. Or check out the new “flat iron” cut. It’s very lean and the second most tender cut of beef overall.

How it keeps you healthy: Beef is a storehouse for selenium. Stanford University researchers found that men with low blood levels of the mineral are as much as five times more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with normal levels.

 

Olive Oil: Liquid Energy

How it builds muscle:Sure, you could oil up your chest and arms and strike a pose, but it works better if you eat the stuff. “The monounsaturated fat in olive oil appears to act as an anticatabolicnutrient,” says Kalman. In other words, it prevents muscle breakdown by lowering levels of a sinister cellular protein called tumor necrosis factor-a, which is linked with muscle wasting and weakness (kind of like watching The View).

And while all olive oil is high in monos, try to use the extra-virgin variety whenever possible; it has a higher level of free-radical-fighting vitamin E than the less chaste stuff.

How it keeps you healthy: How doesn’t it? Olive oil and monounsaturated fats have been associated with everything from lower rates of heart disease and colon cancer to a reduced risk of diabetes and osteoporosis.

Water: The Muscle Bath

How it builds muscle:Whether it’s in your shins or your shoulders, muscle is approximately 80 percent water. “Even a change of as little as 1 percent in body water can impair exercise performance and adversely affect recovery,” says Volek. For example, a 1997 German study found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells that are well hydrated, compared with dehydrated cells. English translation: The more parched you are, the slower your body uses protein to build muscle.

Not sure how dry you are? “Weigh yourself before and after each exercise session. Then drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost,” says Larry Kenney, Ph.D., a physiology researcher at Pennsylvania State University.

How it keeps you healthy: Researchers at Loma Linda University found that men who drank five or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day were 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who drank two or fewer.

Coffee: The Repetition Builder

How it builds muscle: Fueling your workout with caffeine will help you lift longer. A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that men who drank 2 1/2 cups of coffee a few hours before an exercise test were able to sprint 9 percent longer than when they didn’t drink any. (It’s believed the caffeine directly stimulates the muscles.)

And since sprinting and weight lifting are both anaerobic activities—exercises that don’t require oxygen—a jolt of joe should help you pump out more reps. Skip it if you have a history of high blood pressure, though.

How it keeps you healthy: By saving you from Michael J. Fox’s fate. Harvard researchers found that coffee drinkers have a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson’s disease than nondrinkers.

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It sometimes seems as if the internal politics of the Middle East are easier to understand than the latest thinking on nutrition. With EAT THIS, NOT THAT!, you’re armed with the info you need to make smart choices. But how can you crank it up a notch? How can you make good nutrition as certain as death, taxes, and The Fast and the Furious spinoffs? Here’s the simple answer: Just eat these eight foods–along with a little protein such as salmon, turkey, or lean beef–every day. And relax.

 

Spinach

 

It may be green and leafy, but spinach is no nutritional wallflower. This noted muscle builder is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Bonus: Folate also increases blood flow to the nether regions, helping to protect you against age-related sexual issues. And spinach is packed with lutein, a compound that fights macular degeneration. Aim for 1 cup fresh spinach or 1/2 cup cooked per day.

Substitutes: Kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce

FIT IT IN: Make your salads with spinach; add spinach to scrambled eggs; drape it over pizza; mix it with marinara sauce and then microwave for an instant dip.

PINCH HITTER: Sesame Stir-Braised Kale > Heat 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger, and 1 tsp. sesame oil in a skillet. Add 2 Tbsp. water and 1 bunch kale (stemmed and chopped). Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain. Add 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds.

Yogurt

Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of probiotic organisms that serve as reinforcements to the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body. That helps boost your immune system and provides protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic, though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Aim for 1 cup of the calcium and protein-rich goop a day.

SUBSTITUTES: Kefir, soy yogurt

FIT IT IN: Yogurt topped with blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed, and honey is the ultimate breakfast–or dessert. Plain low-fat yogurt is also a perfect base for creamy salad dressings and dips.

HOME RUN: Power Smoothie > Blend 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 cup carrot juice, and 1 cup fresh baby spinach for a nutrient-rich blast.

Tomatoes

There are two things you need to know about tomatoes: Red are the best, because they’re packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene, and processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones, because it’s easier for the body to
absorb the lycopene. Studies show that a diet rich in lycopene can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers, as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Aim for 22 mg of lycopene a day, which is
about eight red cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice.

SUBSTITUTES: Red watermelon, pink grapefruit, Japanese persimmon, papaya, guava

FIT IT IN: Pile on the ketchup and RagĂş; guzzle low-sodium V8 and gazpacho; double the amount of tomato paste called for in a recipe.

PINCH HITTER: Red and Pink Fruit Bowl > Chop 1 small watermelon, 2 grapefruits, and 1 papaya. Garnish with mint.

Carrots

Most red, yellow, or orange vege- tables and fruits are spiked with carotenoids–fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis–but none are as easy to prepare, or have as low a caloric density, as carrots. Aim for 1/2 cup a
day.

SUBSTITUTES: Sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow bell pepper, mango

FIT IT IN: Raw baby carrots, sliced raw yellow pepper, butternut squash soup, baked sweet potato, pumpkin pie, mango sorbet, carrot cake

PINCH HITTER: Baked Sweet Potato Fries > Scrub and dry 2 sweet potatoes. Cut each into 8 slices, and then toss with olive oil and paprika. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Turn and bake for 10 minutes more.

Blueberries

Host to more antioxidants than any other North American fruit, blueberries help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes (hence the nickname “brain berry”). Studies show that blueberries, which are rich in fiber and vitamins A and C, also boost cardiovascular health. Aim for 1 cup fresh blueberries a day, or 1/2 cup frozen or dried.

SUBSTITUTES: Acai berries, purple grapes, prunes, raisins, strawberries

FIT IT IN: Blueberries maintain most of their power in dried, frozen, or jam form.

PINCH HITTER: Acai, an Amazonian berry, has even more antioxidants than the blueberry. Try acai juice from Sambazon or add 2 Tbsp. of acai pulp to cereal, yogurt, or a smoothie.

Black Beans

All beans are good for your heart, but none can boost your brain power like black beans. That’s because they’re full of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A daily 1/2-cup serving provides
8 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber. It’s also low in calories and free of saturated fat.

SUBSTITUTES: Peas, lentils, and pinto, kidney, fava, and lima beans

FIT IT IN: Wrap black beans in a breakfast burrito; use both black beans and kidney beans in your chili; puree 1 cup black beans with 1/4 cup olive oil and roasted garlic for a healthy dip; add favas, limas, or peas to pasta dishes.

HOME RUN: Black Bean and Tomato Salsa > Dice 4 tomatoes, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 jalapeños, 1 yellow bell pepper, and 1 mango. Mix in a can of black beans and garnish with 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and the juice of 2 limes.

Walnuts

Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken, the walnut sounds like a Frankenfood, but it grows on trees. Other nuts combine only one or two of these features, not all three. A serving of walnuts–about 1 ounce, or 7 nuts–is good anytime, but especially as a postworkout recovery snack.

SUBSTITUTES: Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts

FIT IT IN: Sprinkle on top of salads; chop and add to pancake batter; spoon peanut butter into curries; grind and mix with olive oil to make a marinade for grilled fish or chicken.

HOME RUN: Mix 1 cup walnuts with 1/2 cup dried blueberries and 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks.

Oats

The Ă©minence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval. They are packed with soluble fiber, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Yes, oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by the fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving, they deliver steady, muscle-friendly energy.

SUBSTITUTES: Quinoa, flaxseed, wild rice

FIT IT IN: Eat granolas and cereals that have a fiber content of at least 5 grams per serving. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed on cereals, salads, and yogurt.

PINCH HITTER: Quinoa Salad > Quinoa has twice the protein of most cereals, and fewer carbs. Boil 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups of water. Let cool. In a large bowl, toss it with 2 diced apples, 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt.

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You love lifting. You love the plain challenge and the simple rewards—beating your previous best and feeling a great pump afterward. And maybe you hate cardio. Devoting gym time to cardiovascular exercise feels as if you’re burning away hard-earned muscle. But you’re not—you’re revealing it.

If gaining mass is all you focus on, soon no one will be able to distinguish your traps from your deltoids. For a lean and chiseled physique, you need cardio work (relax—no distance running involved). Just follow our 5 easy steps to reveal more muscle. You don’t need much cardio (15 to 20 minutes twice a week max), and most of what you do need should be at a high intensity, as befits a man with a lifter’s mindset. But after a few weeks, you’ll start to notice less fat and greater muscle definition. Consider it the fast track to the body you’ve always wanted—without feeling like a rat on a wheel.

Change the Cycle

You don’t lift the same way all year, so why should the frequency, intensity, and duration of your cardiovascular workouts stay the same? They shouldn’t.

When you’re trying to add muscle, keep your aerobic work to a minimum—say, once or twice a week for about 15 to 20 minutes. This will limit your energy expenditure and allow your body to concentrate on building muscle.

When you’re trying to get lean, increase your cardio training to two to four times a week, to help strip away excess body fat.

At all times, alternate your cardio methods so your workout’s not so boring—treadmill running 1 day, rowing or elliptical training the next, cycling the day after that.

Separate Cardio from Lifting

Serious lifters worry that cardiovascular training will impede their ability to recover from intense strength training. That all depends on when and how you do your cardio.

Keep your cardio days and strength days as removed from each other as possible. That way your cardio won’t hinder gains in strength and size. For instance, doing a tough cycling workout after you hammer your legs with squats and lunges isn’t a good idea if your goal is to build bigger legs. Save your cardio for the next day, or even 2 days later, to rest your legs.

If you must do cardio and weights on the same day, choose a form of aerobic work that emphasizes body parts your weight lifting didn’t focus on that day. So, if your cardio choice is rowing, which works your upper body as much as it does your legs, row on a day when your weight session doesn’t concentrate on your upper body.

Whichever route you choose, just be sure to hit the weights first. You don’t want to wipe yourself out before your weight routine—you won’t get the most out of your session, and lifting when you’re tired can be dangerous.

Don’t Make an Impact

Your body has enough to contend with in repairing the damage that lifting inflicts on it. The last thing you need to do is break it down further with high-impact cardio training.

Concentrate on cardio workouts that minimize microtrauma—the small tears to muscle fibers that are part of the process of building new muscle. Running on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete can be traumatic to muscles and joints. Jumping rope can cause similar problems.

Your best bets for low-impact exercise are swimming, cycling, and using an elliptical machine.

Ignore the “Fat-Burning Zone”

It’s a myth that you have to work out continuously for 20 minutes before you begin burning fat. The thinking once was that you needed to exercise in a range between 60 percent and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Any lower was too easy, and any higher made it too difficult to efficiently use fat for fuel.

Ignore that theory. Your body uses more energy overall when training at high intensities—just look at the physique of a sprinter. Going all out also makes better use of your time. You can finish your cardio in an intense 10- to 15-minute workout.

Stick to interval workouts that feature short bursts of high-intensity movement followed by active recovery periods. This approach is best for your heart and for fat loss.

Choose the Path of Most Resistance

Changing the gears on a bike and altering the gradient on a treadmill, for instance, are great ways to increase intensity. Just be careful to find a level of resistance that won’t reduce the amount of work you’re able to do when you return to the weight room.

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PROBLEM #1: Hectic schedules undermine mealtimes. Without structured meals, members of the Reeves family are often left to their own dinnertime devices . . . or vices. “We usually come home and dive into whatever’s quickest and easiest in the fridge,” John says. Or worse, they’ll hit a fast-food drive-thru and scarf down dinner in the car.

FAST FIXES

Take the coach approach
Devise a game plan–one that the entire family is invested in. “Spend half an hour together on Sunday putting together a food plan for the coming week,” says Skolnik. Then develop a specific menu for each day. Shop accordingly so the food you need is always on hand, and the junk you don’t need is still taking up shelf space at the Piggly Wiggly.

Having more meals at home will automatically improve kids’ eating habits. A Harvard University study found that in families who eat meals together, children consume higher amounts of calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C, and E, and take in less overall fat, than children who frequently miss family mealtimes.

Be practical in your planning

Anticipate roadblocks that may cause plans to go astray. When circumstances zig, you can zag. “If you know Tuesdays are crazy, make it an order-in pizza night-that’s okay,” Skolnik says. “Go ahead and write that into your plan. Then, if you know that Thursday night is always a good night to cook, plan on making a meal that includes lots of healthier stuff, and allow for that, too.”

PROBLEM #2: The most important meal is missing. With a busy schedule, breakfast is often the first meal axed.

FAST FIXES

Wake up at 6:55, not 7:00

Five minutes is all you need to toast a waffle, heat instant oatmeal, microwave some sausage links, or fix any of the three complete breakfasts below. “Studies have shown that when you eat breakfast, you eat less later in the day,” Skolnik says. “Taking your calories more evenly throughout the day helps you avoid big deficits and high peaks. It’s the best way to control the body’s fat distribution.”

1. The commuter breakfast: Half an apple, cored, then spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins. Drink: Bottled yogurt smoothie. Prep time: 2 minutes.

2. The energy-boosting breakfast: Bowl of instant oatmeal, cup of berries topped with a big spoonful of yogurt. Drink: Orange juice. Prep time: 4 minutes.

3. The muscle-building breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 2 links of turkey sausage, 1/2 bagel. Drink: 2 percent milk. Prep time: 5 minutes.

PROBLEM #3: Restaurants are a meal ticket to overeating. When you’re paying for food, you want your money’s worth. Combine that with a pragmatic clean-your-plate mentality and it adds up to a recipe for dietary disaster.

FAST FIXES

Skip the starters
Those loaded cheese fries weigh in with nearly 3,000 calories. Avoiding this kind of appetizer will cut hundreds of calories out of the meal.

Always order a salad

“Front-load the meal with more nutritious stuff to take the edge off your appetite,” Dr. Katz advises. You can still enjoy the entrĂ©e, just less of it. And when in doubt about dressing, always choose the vinaigrette. It’s guaranteed to contain a balance of good fats and calorie-free vinegars.

Head off half of the dish

“Ask the server to split the portion before it arrives at the table, and take half home,” Dr. Katz says. “Congratulations—you just got two meals for the price of one.”

Apply the brakes

As the stomach fills, it produces a hormone called ghrelin that tells your brain to make you stop eating when your stomach is full. Shovel the food in too fast and the brain can’t catch up.

Six slow-down tactics:

1. Cut food into smaller pieces. Taking bites that are actually bite-sized will help slow the rate at which your stomach fills.

2. Set down the cutlery in between bites. Picking it up and using it to cut the next bite adds time to the meal.

3. Give your jaw a workout. Completely chew and swallow each bite before taking the next one.

4. Sip water frequently. Liquid takes up stomach space, too.

5. Chat more, chow less. Use mealtime to exceed the national average of 14 1/2 minutes of daily family conversation.

6. Check your hunger level. As you eat, ask yourself if you’re still hungry. When the answer is no, stop eating.

Remember, it’s not the last supper

Unless you’re hit by lightning as you exit the restaurant, you will be able to eat again. Don’t carry on like a condemned prisoner, already.

PROBLEM #4: You’re a binge snacker. Animal Planet is not the place to get your food cues. “When omnivorous animals have food available, they just keep eating until their bellies hit the ground,” Dr. Katz says. “Binge eating is our normal behavior, but only if we have to fend off the threat of starvation.” You’re not starving, but your evolutionary impulses remain. It’s up to you to fight them.

FAST FIXES

Go on a pantry raid

Trade the chips, cheese crackers, and cookies for filling foods–quality complex carbs such as whole-wheat crackers, oatmeal, fruit, and protein-packing string cheese, yogurt, and trail mixes. Because you digest fiber- and protein-filled foods at a slower rate, they stay in your stomach longer, leaving less room for junk. And because proteins and carbs have about half the calories of fats, they cause less caloric damage.

Develop a traveling snack strategy

All of the above smart snacks are portable. Bring them with you in the car and keep some stashed at the office.

PROBLEM #5: Sugar is like God; it’s everywhere. Spend 10 minutes watching Saturday-morning television and you’ll see why kids grow up craving sugary foods; advertisers know their demographic. According to a Food Institute estimate, food marketers spend $13 billion each year targeting children. They aren’t hawking apples and bananas.

FAST FIXES

Pass fizz ed

Measure out teaspoons of sugar equivalent to what a single 20-ounce bottle of soda contains (1 teaspoon holds 4 grams). You’ll wind up with a 17-teaspoon mound. When we tried this trick with the Reeveses, they were stunned. “That’s a lot of sugar,” said Ryne, as the pile grew. Try tea instead. Some bottled varieties, such as Tazo and Republic of Tea, contain less than half the sugar that colas do.

Foil a cereal killer

Some breakfast cereals start kids’ days with half as much sugar as you’d find in a bottle of cola. “Mix in some Cheerios with the sweeter cereals to help cut down on sugar and to provide fiber,” Skolnik says. “The kids will still have the taste they love, but they’ll get more long-lasting fuel and energy out of it.”

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Don’t let your hard work in the gym go to waste. The food you eat doesn’t just give you energy – it fuels your muscles, helps you burn fat, and even boosts your cardiovascular health. Chow down on these 8 power foods before and after your workouts, and you’ll see results in no time.

Pineapple and Papaya

Good for: Muscle recovery

Both of these tropical fruits are loaded with bromelain and papain, enzymes
that not only help break down proteins for digestion but also have
anti-inflammatory properties to speed up your post-workout recovery.

Salmon

Good for: Cardiovascular fitness

Australian researchers found that cyclists who took fish oil for 8 weeks had
lower heart rates and consumed less oxygen during intense bicycling than a
control group did. The fatty acids in fish oil need to become incorporated into
muscle and heart cells to have an effect, and that takes weeks of consumption-so
either take fish oil pills each day, or try to eat fish rich in fatty acids
multiple times a week to see similar results.

PB&J or Pasta With Meat Sauce

Good for: Muscle building and repair?

The perfect post-weight training repast has about 400 calories, with 20 to 30
grams of protein (to build new muscle) and 50 to 65 grams of carbohydrates (to
repair old muscle). Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a small bowl of pasta
with meat sauce fits that formula.

Pork Tenderloin

Good for: Waist-trimming

Lean meats are a great low-calorie source of protein, and scientists at
McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that eating more protein may
reduce the fat around your midsection. People who ate 20 more grams of protein
every day than the group average had 6 percent lower waist-to-hip ratios.

8 Ounces of Chocolate Milk

Good for: Hydration

The best sports drink may come from a cow. British researchers found that
milk does a better job than water or sports drinks at rehydrating the body after
exercise. Why? To begin with, milk has more electrolytes and potassium. The
addition of chocolate gives milk the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and fat
for speedy muscle recovery.

Coffee

Good for: Pain relief

University of Georgia scientists revealed that taking a caffeine supplement
(equal to two cups of coffee) after exercise reduces muscle soreness more than
pain relievers can. Caffeine blocks a chemical that activates pain
receptors.

Green Tea

Good for: Muscle recovery

Brazilian scientists found that participants who consumed three cups of green
tea every day for a week had fewer markers of the cell damage caused by
resistance to exercise. So drinking a few cups every day may help your muscles
recover faster after an intense workout.

Cold Water

Good for: Endurance

Drinking cold water before and during exercise can help improve your
endurance. In a British study, cyclists who drank about 30 ounces of a chilled
drink in the half hour before riding in a hot, humid environment-and smaller
amounts as they rode-were able to bike 23 percent longer than riders who downed
lukewarm liquids. Drinking cold water may be the most direct way to reduce core
body temperature, so it takes you longer to heat up and slow down.

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Avoid these snacks that are just as bad for you as candy

Available at: http://www.prevention.com/tips/nutrition/your-energy-bar-healthy-snack

5 Energy Bars That Are Loaded with Sugar
Grabbing a granola or energy bar may seem like a sensible choice for a healthy snack, but be wary. Many of these seemingly healthy choices have no more nutritional value than a candy bar. Here are five of the worst offenders, plus our ridiculously healthy pick that you can feel great about noshing any time of day.
1. PowerBar ProteinPlus: Chocolate Brownie
Don’t reach for a protein bar designed for serious weight trainers. This chocolaty bar is packed with 360 calories, 11 g of fat, and nearly as much sugar as a can of cola.
2. Quaker Oatmeal To Go
Oatmeal may be one of our favorite foods because of its hefty serving of fiber and protein, but—nutritionally speaking—this bar ranks nowhere near its cereal cousin. The key to keeping this square together is sugar, and lots of it: High fructose corn syrup and brown sugar are the primary ingredients after rolled oats.
3. Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Granola Bar, Peanut
This sweet, salty bar is sure to give you give you a sugar high—and subsequent crash. It has 11 g of sugar, 170 calories, and no significant servings of vitamins or minerals.
4. Kudos Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
This chocolate-dipped granola bar comes in at only 120 calories—but it will leave you with a hankering for more in no time. It offers a paltry 1 g each of fiber and protein.
5. Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Yogurt Bar, Strawberry Yogurt
At 130 calories and 3.5 g of fat per serving, this cereal bar seems to be a fine choice, but one look at the ingredient list brimming with scientific jargon makes it a no-go. The ooey-gooey center of this snacker is mostly made with sugar, some fruit puree, and Red Dye #40.
Healthy Choice: KIND Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio + Antioxidants Snack Bar
This tasty bar is a powerhouse package of antioxidant-rich foods: pomegranate, blueberries, pistachios, almonds, cashews, and raisins. Plus, it supplies 50% of your daily need for vitamins A, C, and E. With 4 g of fiber and 3 g of protein, this nut bar is sure to power you through the afternoon.
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