Category: Nutrition

What Is a Calorie and Why Should You Care?

Calories, what they are and why we should care.

We might hear this term every day of our lives, yet how many of you ever stop and think about what exactly a calorie might be?

We know that our food and drink contains calories.

We know too many will cause us to get fat.

We know that some will insist we need to count our calories while others believe this minor task bears no importance.

Yet, how many of us actually know what a calorie is and why they are important to us?

A calorie is a unit of energy. Historically, scientists have defined “calorie” to mean a unit of energy or heat that could come from a variety of sources, such as coal or gas. In a nutritional sense, all types of food — whether they are fats, proteins, carbohydrates or sugars — are important sources of calories, which people need to live and function.

“Our brains, our muscles,  to include every cell in our bodies, require energy to function in an optimal state.  For good health and well being, we must nourish our bodies and brain with good nutrition. If we don’t get enough proper nutrients that calories provide, there are negative consequences. These negative consequences include losing lean muscle mass, not being able to concentrate or even having the energy we need on a day-to-day basis to get us through life.

The physics of a calorie.

According to an article in the Journal of Nutrition, titled “History of the Calorie in Nutrition,” in 1863, a calorie was defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water from 0 to 1 degree Celsius. In 1925, calories became scientifically defined in terms of joules, which are units typically used by physicists to describe the amount of work needed to force one newton through one meter. This is why you sometimes see calories being called kilojoules, especially in Europe and Australia. One calorie equals 4.18 joules; 1 joule equals 0.000239006 of a calorie.

The amount of heat needed to make a calorie differs at different temperatures, so scientists decided to create different types of calories according to their water temperature. Different temperatures yield different types of calories, such as the small calorie, also called the gram calorie or the 15-degree calorie. This calorie refers to the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water from 14.5 to 15.5 degrees Celsius. 

A calorie in nutrition is actually 1,000 of these small calories. Some researchers use the term kilocalories to refer to the nutritional unit of 1,000 small calories. These units of 1,000 small calories are also sometimes called large calories, dietary calories, nutritional calories, food calories and Calories with a capital C. 

Therefore, what Americans see on food labels are actually kilocalories, or kilojoules. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that one medium-size apple contains 95 calories, it actually contains 95 kilocalories.  

Different types of macro-nutrients have standard amounts of calories. One gram of protein has 4 calories. One gram of carbohydrates has 4 calories. One gram of fat has 9 calories, according to the McKinley Health Center.  (1)

Do we really need to track our caloric intake?

If you care about your weight, you damn sure better be tracking your caloric intake in some manner, even if in your head.

That being said, I would only advise a mental tracking to one who is not overweight or obese.

But my weight loss group I joined does not require me to track calories, and neither does my Keto plan!

There are a couple of issues to address here:

If you are paying to belong to a weight loss group who tells you that you do not need to track calories, you might want to consider what their true agenda might be. Do they care about me losing weight, or can I be manipulated into being a perpetual income stream for them?

Tracking and measuring is a form of accountability.

You need to be accountable to yourself for your weight and health.

Odds are pretty high that if you are over weight, or obese, you have never been truly accountable for any length of time when it comes to your nutritional habits. I’m sorry if that hurt, but I have been there too and know this from personal experience.

How do I lose weight on Keto and some of the other popular diets or eating plans?

Whether or not some people want to accept this as a universal truth, the “calories in versus calories out” model is based on the reality that for you to maintain a stable weight, the number of calories you eat needs to match the number you expend.

“Calories in” refers to the calories you get from the foods you eat, while “calories out” is the number of calories you burn.

There are three main bodily processes that burn calories:

  • Basic metabolism. Your body uses most of the calories you get from food to sustain basic functions, such as your heartbeat. This is commonly referred to as your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
  • Digestion. Around 10–15% of the calories you eat is used to power digestion. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF) and varies based on the foods you eat.
  • Physical activity. The leftover calories you get from your diet are meant to fuel your physical activity, including workouts and everyday tasks like walking, reading, and washing dishes. (2)

When the number of calories you take in from food matches the number of calories you burn to sustain your metabolism, digestion, and physical activity, your weight will remain stable.

Thus, the “calories in versus calories out” model is strictly true.  I do not care what your weight loss group has told you as you hand over your monthly dues money, your body requires a caloric deficit in order to lose weight. It is a simple fact of life that from a biological perspective, you must consume fewer calories than you burn to lose weight. There’s no way around it, you are not a special snowflake this fact does not apply to. When I was still a young boy in school it was taught to us that once your body’s energy needs are met, extra calories are stored for future use in your muscles as glycogen, but most as fat. Thus, eating more calories than you burn will cause you to gain weight, whereas eating fewer than you need will cause weight loss.

But, but I read a study that said…

Yes, there are some studies you might find that make it appear as if what you eat matters more than how much you eat, implying that the calorie content of your diet is irrelevant for weight loss. However, these studies are based on a few incorrect assumptions. You have to be careful of what you read as some  these studies only report the total amount of weight lost, without mentioning whether the weight loss came from muscle, fat, or water losses. Additionally, some of these different studies and diets affect muscle and water losses differently, which can make it seem as if they are more effective for fat loss when this isn’t truly the case.

Have you ever considered why Keto appears to work good for people?

A ketogenic diet is high in fat, moderate in protein and extremely low in carbs. As carbs are reduced and fat is increased, the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. Then the body starts turning fats into ketones, which are molecules that can supply energy for the brain. It is a scientific truth that after a few days or weeks on Keto, the body and brain become very efficient at burning fat and ketones for fuel instead of carbs. The ketogenic diet also lowers insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, are two of the main reasons this diet has so many health benefits. But, what is often left out of Keto discussions is the fact you have become full, your body is satiated from the foods you have consumed before you have reached the caloric needs to maintain or gain weight. It works because you are at a caloric deficit.

When trying to lose weight, it’s critical to create a calorie deficit no matter your plan or method.

If you switch to a ketogenic diet and just randomly eat anything Keto friendly you desire while not watching your calorie intake, you are quite unlikely to drop pounds. Because many Keto-friendly foods, including avocados, olive oil, full-fat dairy and nuts, are high in calories, it’s important not to overdo it. Most people feel more satisfied after eating ketogenic meals and snacks due to the filling effects of fat and protein. However, it’s still entirely possible to consume too many calories on a ketogenic diet by eating portions that are too large or by snacking on high-calorie foods throughout the day. Paying attention to portion size, increasing physical activity and snacking in moderation between meals can help create the calorie deficit needed to lose weight.

Ever wonder why you occasionally see fat Vegans?

Vegan Overeating is Still Overeating

Simply put, weight loss success is achieved only when your choices reflect an overall decrease in calories going in and a corresponding increase in calories out. Factors that contribute to weight loss on a Vegan diet are significantly associated with weight loss included decreased dessert, sugar-sweetened drink, and fried food consumption and less eating out at restaurants. Or simply put, a caloric deficit.

Candy corn is just as vegan as an apple but from a nutrient standpoint they are far from equal.  The same goes for vegan baked goods, potato chips, deep-fried foods, etc.  Vegan foods high in fat, sugar and calories are just as unhealthy as their animal counterparts so don’t be fooled into thinking  “it’s vegetarian so I can eat as much as I want”.

No matter who you are, or what you might believe, weight loss always results from a caloric deficit. This is true regardless of whether your calories come from carbs, fat, or protein. Of course there are factors such as hormonal imbalances which can interfere with you being able to maintain a body at a healthy weight, however, these problems can most often be prevented from occurring in the first place through proper nutrition.

Educate yourself!

Be accountable to yourself!

Commit yourself to being the best you can be!

Be healthy and well!

 

 

(1) LiveScience.com

(2) HealthLine.com

Protein Made Easy

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Frequent Question

One of the most common questions that we are asked is, “How can I get more protein?” and sometimes when we look at their protein intake, we are shocked. Many people are simply not getting enough protein. Read David’s article, “Protein Supplements” to discover how much protein you need every day. Regardless of the type of diet that you eat, you must get a full profile of amino acids. If you prefer to get your protein from plant sources, some of the commonly available sources for plant based, complete protein are soy, buckwheat and quinoa.

Deficiency

Without enough protein you may develop skin, hair and nail problems. You are at an increased risk for broken bones and infections and the infections may be more severe. You may have trouble controlling your appetite and overeat trying to get the nutrients that you need. Low protein intake is also associated with fatty liver disease and may slow growth in children. If you are interested in building more fat-burning muscle, you must eat enough protein to build it and without enough protein you may be more prone to fluid retention. (1) For serious health enthusiasts, especially strength trainers and body builders, less muscle and more fluid retention are not what we want. Get your protein.

Convenience

A significant hindrance to adequate protein intake is convenience. Unfortunately, as David wrote in his recent article, Quit Shunning the Fat! , beginning in 1976, Americans have shied away from fats and erroneously added way too many simple carbs into our diet. As a result, there are thousands of quick, convenient, carbohydrate based convenience foods and Americans are quite likely to reach for those in a time crunch. With a little thought, you can break that habit and add protein to your day, a little at a time.

Nuts are an excellent source of quick protein. If portion control is a problem, buy pre-packaged, individual servings of your favorites. One ounce of almonds provides 6 grams of protein for 164 calories, 14 grams of healthy fat and only 2.6 grams of Net Carbs (6.1-3.5 grams of fiber). You can carry them with you anywhere. Just be careful to avoid those with added sugars. There are some that sound wonderful but if you read the label, you will find sugar. I stick with the ones that are roasted with sea salt alone.

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Eggs are often overlooked for being the rich protein source that they are. People shunned eggs for years, believing that they were unhealthy. Modern science has debunked that myth. You can boil them the night before and store them in the fridge or even whisk up a couple in the morning. Nothing is any faster than a scrambled egg. They contain 6 grams of protein each for a paltry 78 calories. They are quite the nutrition bargain.

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String cheese is everywhere these days. Apparently people are eating a lot of it if you look at the abundant supply in the grocery stores. One piece of Frigo Cheeseheads String Cheese has 6 grams of protein and 80 calories. I like to pair this with an apple so that the fiber in the apple binds with the protein in the cheese and it keeps me from being hungry a long time.

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Tuna is so convenient these days! The portable foil packs are the ultimate solution to “What’s for lunch?” I carry those packs in my backpack all the time, “Just In Case”. Add mayo, an apple and some dill relish if you like, for a nutritionally dense lunch that will satisfy you for hours. If you like sweet pickle relish, just add a little Splenda or whatever 0 sugar sweetener you like to the relish. It works. One of these packs has 70 calories and a whopping 17 grams of protein. I usually eat two for a protein punch!

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Full Fat PLAIN Greek Yogurt is a wonderful source of protein and fat-burning calcium. One cup of Cabot Greek Yogurt contains 310 calories and 16 grams of protein. I usually add to that protein with nuts. I like to add 0 sugar sweetener, nuts and Saigon cinnamon. It tastes like a Maple Nut Sundae. You can add whatever you like to this yogurt. The full-fat yogurt does not have that sour milk taste that is associated with yogurt. It’s neutral, so you can make it taste like whatever you like. I have been known to add Lemonade Flavor Crystal Light for a “Lemon Pie”.  Experiment with whatever flavor combinations that appeal to you. Sometimes I add peanut butter powder and sweetener for a peanut butter pie. Explore!

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Jerky is a great source of protein. Just be careful to avoid the ones with added sugars. It’s very high in protein, coming in at 9 grams per ounce. If you have trouble finding a 0 sugar variety, it’s pretty easy to make your own. David has published an excellent recipe for homemade jerky right here.

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Pumpkin Seeds are one of my favorite foods. I like the kernels, no husks or shells for me please. One ounce has 180 calories and 11 grams of protein. Sometimes I add these to my yogurt instead of nuts.

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I make protein shakes with unsweetened protein and 0 sugar sweetener and other add-ins. That is an option that you might like to explore. Choose whatever protein that appeals to you. I don’t like whey but you very well may like it a lot. It’s a rich source of good protein. I like pea or soy protein. Men, and some women with special health concerns, should avoid soy. Since it boosts estrogen, ask your doctor before using soy protein.

As you can see, there are many tasty options to sneak a little extra protein into your day. Meat, poultry, fish and seafood will always be your richest sources, but when those may not be readily available or convenient, reach for one of these or get creative! Read labels and seek out foods that you like that are rich in protein. You will be stronger for it.

(1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-deficiency-symptoms

Quit Shunning the Fat!

Have you ever sat back and pondered why it is that with all the low fat and zero fat products we can find stocked in our grocery store aisles today, we have an ever increasing problem with obesity? You can visit any of the weight loss social media sites and find people who are making it a point to eat low to zero fat, yet they are having an almost impossible time in achieving their weight loss goals.

This could be seen as quite the irony, right?

Except it is not an irony in any way shape or form.

Dietary fats are not nearly the boogeyman they have been portrayed to be over the past few decades. This is because not all fats are created equal. Some fats are better for you than others, and even help to promote good health. Knowing the difference between your fats can help you determine which fats to include in your diet, which to avoid, and which to eat only in moderation. We know that the “bad” fats such as artificial trans fats and saturated fats, are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed for—weight gain, clogged arteries, an increased risk of certain diseases and so forth. But “good” fats such as unsaturated fats and omega-3s have the opposite effect. Good fats should always be a part of a healthy diet. Fat is as essential to your diet as protein and carbohydrates are in fueling your body with energy. Certain bodily functions also rely on the presence of fat. For example, some vitamins require fat in order to dissolve into your bloodstream and provide nutrients.

First, what are the “bad” fats?

There are two types of fats which have been identified as potentially harmful to your health, saturated fat and trans fat . Most of the foods that contain saturated fats should be eaten very sparingly. These are foods where the fats are solid at room temperature, such as:

butter

margarine

shortening

beef or pork fat

Trans fat should be avoided altogether! Trans fat is short for “trans fatty acids,” this bad fat can be found in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are the worst fats for you. You might find trans fat in:

fried foods (French fries, doughnuts, deep-fried fast foods)

margarine (stick and tub)

vegetable shortening

baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries)

processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn)

Like saturated fat, trans fat can raise LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol. Trans fat can also suppress high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, or “good” cholesterol.  Trans fats are also known to increase the risk for inflammation in our bodies. This inflammation can cause harmful health effects that may include heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. If you like margarine on your foods, remember they will contain trans fats if they are made with hydrogenated ingredients, so make sure to always choose non-hydrogenated versions.

Labeling laws allow food companies to round down to zero and claim “no trans fats” or “zero grams of trans fats” despite still containing hydrogenated oils, so ignore the front-of-package marketing and always read the ingredient list.

What started this low to no fat craze?

If you want to trace Americans’ fear of fat, the place to start is the U.S. Senate, during the steamy days of July 1976. That’s when Sen. George McGovern called a hearing to raise attention to the links between diet and disease. The concern was the connection between diet and heart disease. Scientists had evidence that foods with saturated fat such as eggs and meat could raise LDL cholesterol. But there were a lot of complexities that scientists didn’t yet understand, and not a lot of data. When Sen. McGovern, a Democrat from South Dakota, called his hearing, he summoned the likes of Nathan Pritikin, a longevity guru who believed you could reverse heart disease with diet changes. And he called as a witness a Harvard University professor who pointed to the harms of over-consumption of fat. The hearing led to the creation of the first set of dietary guidelines for Americans.

The thinking of the day is that you wanted to reduce fat from your diet. Once fat was identified as being an unhealthy part of the American diet, the thinking was that any way Americans could get fat out of their diets would be a good thing. And this was accomplished by merely replacing milk and cheese and fatty meat with carbohydrates, with pasta and potatoes and rice.  The misguided theory was that we would live longer, and be thinner if we took this action.

 One of the top goals listed in the original dietary goals was to eat more carbs.

The types of carbs the authors of the guidelines had in mind were whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But this message was lost in translation. What did Americans hear? Fat is bad; carbs are good. And the food industry saw the low-fat, high-carb mantra as an opportunity to create a whole new range of products. Fat-free frozen yogurt, fat-free muffins and cookies became quite common everywhere we shop. The formula was: Take out the fat and then add lots of sugar to make up for the now bland tastes of low to zero fat foods. Now, we are fatter than we have ever been as a society. There were definitely unintended consequences of the original guidelines. In trying to address one problem — heart disease — by cutting way back on fat,  the new dietary goals have helped fuel other problems such as diabetes and obesity.

Fats you should be consuming in your diet!

The  helpful types of dietary fat are primarily unsaturated fats:

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids. This type of fat is found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids. This type of fat is found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial for heart health. Omega-3, found in some types of fatty fish, appears to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. There are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it hasn’t yet been determined whether replacements for fish oil — plant-based or krill — have the same health effects as omega-3 fatty acid from fish.

Foods made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as canola oil, olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), and nuts and other seeds (walnuts, butternuts and chia seeds).

How can I start eating healthier?

Focus on replacing foods high in saturated fat with foods that include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Try these tips to make over the fat in your diet:

  • To avoid trans fat, check food labels and look for the amount of trans fat listed. By law a serving of food containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fat can be labeled as 0 grams. Therefore, it’s important to also check ingredient lists for the term ʺpartially hydrogenated.֞
  • Use oil instead of solid fats. For example, saute with olive oil instead of butter, and use canola oil when baking.
  • Prepare fish, such as salmon and mackerel, instead of meat at least twice a week to get healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Bake or broil seafood instead of frying it.
  • Choose lean meat and skinless poultry. Trim visible fat from meat and poultry, and remove skin from poultry.
  • Snack smart. Many popular processed snack foods are high in fat, especially solid fats. Be sure to check food labels for saturated and trans fats. Better yet, snack on whole fruits and vegetables.

 Be aware and mindful that most foods contain a mix of different kinds of fat and varying levels of each type. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Instead, focus on choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats, instead of foods that contain saturated or trans fats. For example, canola oil contains some saturated fat but is mostly a monounsaturated fat. It’s a great replacement for butter, which contains some unsaturated fat but is mostly a saturated fat.

What we now know!

We now know that, for most people, cutting fat from our diets has failed to help many people in weight loss, nor has this reduced our risk of heart disease. An eight-year trial involving almost 50,000 women, roughly half of whom went on a low-fat diet, found that those on the low-fat plan didn’t lower their risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or heart disease. Additionally, they didn’t lose much weight either.

We know that excess sugar has been linked with weight gain and obesity. A systematic review of 50 years of studies published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition in 2006 found a link between the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages people consumed and weight gain and obesity. The science base linking the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to the risk of chronic diseases is clear, yet here we are today with sugar in every damn thing we eat if we are not mindful of our nutrition.

Healthy fats, like those from nuts, fish, and avocados, are good for us, so long as we eat them in moderation. So add them back into your diet if you haven’t already, and look to cut back on your intake of refined carbs and sugary snack foods instead. You will find that healthier food choices that contain beneficial fats will not only taste much better, but you will also notice that you will remain satiated far longer after a meal or snack when you consume them.

Eat!

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Deadly Lie

There is a dangerous misconception that you have to go hungry to manage your weight and be in good health. Nothing is farther from the truth, and since so many people believe this fallacy, they never even attempt to be healthy. Listen up! I eat more than anyone that I know, except David, and we are both at a good, healthy weight.

Change Your Mind

One reason that so many people are overweight and obese is that they eat so many empty calories, foods devoid of good nutrition, but full of added sugars or other simple carbohydrates. Junk foods like this are calorie-laden. Even if it’s home cooked and delicious, if it’s high in simple carbs, it’s a nutrition bomb. So often we think that we just can’t do without our favorite foods and there is a measure of truth in that. There are ways to eat most of your favorite foods and avoid simple carbs. We have low-carb recipes for amost anyting that you might like right here on this website. Red Velvet Cake? We’ve got it. Brownies? Got you covered. If there’s something that you want a low-carb recipe for, go to the search box on the Home Page and look. If you want a recipe that you don’t find, contact us through the “Contact” tab on that same Home Page. Just today, David posted a review for Vanilla and Chocolate Almond Milk  that will satisfy cravings for sweet drinks. Sometimes we just need to rethink our regular meals. There’s almost always a way to make them healthier. Let’s look at a few of them.

Breakfast

Are you addicted to sugar filled coffee drinks in the morning? A 16 ounce coffee frappe has 560 calories, 24 grams of fat and 70 grams of sugar. Yes, that’s correct, 70 grams of sugar! Not only are these drinks practically worthless nutritionally, (there is a bit of calcium in all that milk)… for that same 560 calories you can have 4 protein pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon and 0 calorie, no sugar added pancake syrup. Now, you tell me, which will do you more good and which had you rather have? That “coffee” won’t last you very long and then there’s the matter of what you will eat with the “coffee”. It’s usually more sugar. There’s only about 6 grams of sugar in the entire preferred breakfast. All that sugar in the coffee will cause a huge insulin dump and then the corresponding ravenous hunger. The coffee drink sets your day up for failure.

Lunch

Of course, it has to be burgers and fries, right? Well, that’s fine. A whole grain bun, or bunless burger is best but if you like the traditional white bun, then go ahead. The problem comes when you order the milkshake. One chocolate milkshake has about 520 calories, 83 grams of carbs including 71 grams of added sugars. Just think about that. There only about 417 calories in a quarter pound burger. Pair that with oven fries and score the whole meal for about the same calories as the shake alone. Load that burger with veggies, mustard and sugar-free catsup and feast! There are approximately 4 grams of sugar in the bun.

Dinner

One of my pet peeves is what I call “Double Starching”, eating more than one serving of a starchy dish at a meal, not including bread. This is a common practice nowadays and for the life of me, I don’t know how this got started! Why would anyone think that it’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes at the same meal? Not okay. There’s 310 calories and 44 grams of simple carbs in 1 cup of macaroni and cheese. Pair that with a cup full of mashed potatoes for 214 calories and 32 net grams of carbs and you have a carb fest of 76 grams with almost no fiber to slow the absorption of all those carbs into your bloodstream. For about 560 calories you can have about 6 ounces of grilled sirloin steak, a baked potato and a green salad. Choose wisely. There’s only about 20 grams of carbs in that entire meal.

Snacks

 

Those 5 cookies have about 500 calories and 125 grams of carbs including 70 grams of sugars. They will not satisfy you and they will perpetuate your sugar addiction and make you eat more of everything because of the insulin dump you will get when you eat them. The apple, pistachios and string cheese snack has about 360 calories and only about 25 grams of carbohydrates. That second snack also has about 20 grams of protein that will hold you without hunger for hours.

Focus!

As you can see, you don’t have to go hungry to control your weight and be healthy. If you avoid added sugars and just rethink your regular meals, you will lose weight if you need to drop some pounds.

Healthy “Fast Food”

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The Deception 

You know how it goes, you get off work, hungry and tired. Dinner is looming on the horizon and the last thing that you want to do is cook. As you drive past the local fast food chains, you think that you could just zip through there, grab something wonderful and go! Problem solved. Maybe not.

Tick-Tock 

The first sign of trouble is the endless wait to order. While drive-thru windows are supposed to be quick, it’s not unusual to sit at that menu sign for several minutes. Then the person on the other side of that sign can’t seem to understand what you’re trying to order. After several exchanges that take more time, you proceed to the window to, hopefully, retrieve your food only to sit there for a few more minutes.

Score!

The server finally locates your bag and takes your debit card and you are on your way. All you can think about is how slick you are because you managed dinner without cooking. As you unwrap the goodies, you realize that you must have someone else’s order because this is not what anyone in your family eats.

Reality Check

After you spend all this time trying to save time, you almost run out of time to eat. In less time than it took to buy bad food, you could have easily prepared a good, home cooked meal. This strategy works for every meal, not just dinner. A lot of people run out of the house without eating breakfast, thinking that they will “grab something at the drive-thru”. What usually happens here is you either have to pull away without your food to avoid being late for work or you just don’t stop and by noon you’re famished and eat everything in sight. Avoiding packing a lunch to carry is also a mistake. Then the office doughnuts and cupcakes are way too appealing. If this sounds familiar, you might want to change your ways to avoid blood sugar lows and the ensuing binge eating that very well may follow.

Breakfast

I just posted a review on Cabot Greek Yogurt. You can add in any number of mix-ins  to make this a very quick, nutritious breakfast. Read the article for ideas to make this great yogurt rock. You can use any full-fat, no sugar added, Greek yogurt to make an excellent breakfast.

Oatmeal has been a breakfast staple for a long time. You can use the quick oats or the old fashioned variety. They both cook quickly and have no added sugars. The flavored instant oatmeals quite often contain added sugars and come in small servings that don’t satisfy. Cook your own in about the same amount of time and add sugar-free toppings to create a breakfast  that will hold you until mid-morning at a price that you can easily afford. Add nuts, sugar-free syrup or Swerve Brown Sugar Replacement for a taste sensation from your childhood.

Eggs are quite versatile and easy to cook in a flash. Scramble them for a fast dose of protein or boil them on an off day and keep them in the fridge and just toss them in your bag in the morning.

A protein bar can be a quick start in the morning. There are many to choose from. David reviewed Built Bars and honestly, they just may be the best. You have to order them, so if that’s a hindrance for you, you can find several in-store that you might like. “One” bars are readily available and come in several flavors that are good. You can read a review of these bars here.

I like to have a protein shake in the mornings. You can choose any protein powder and milk combination that you like as long as it’s sugar-free. Be careful to read labels on these products. When I first began using protein powder, I found a vanilla flavored powder that I liked. To my horror, I  soon discovered that it contained 27 grams of added sugars! Read those labels! You can add peanut butter powder if you like peanut butter. It will thicken your shake nicely. A Tablespoon of coconut oil will give your shake a great consistency and will also add a healthy punch to your oatmeal. It contains MCT’s, medium-chain triglycerides which have been found to give you an energy boost and increase athletic endurance. They are also believed to help with weight loss by reducing the appetite and providing a sense of fullness.

Lunch

I always have a bag of food with me at work. I’m known for eating all the time. I’m rarely hungry for more than a few minutes. I carry home-cooked roast beef that cooked overnight in my crock pot and a microwaved sweet potato, red beans and ground beef turned into sugar-free baked beans or tuna salad made with boiled eggs, mayonnaise and an apple. I also carry individual servings of mixed nuts, string cheese, yogurt, apples or berries and protein bars. I never go hungry and I’m not ravenous when I  get off work. If I’m a bit hungry, I  always have a snack in my bag to see me home without being tempted by the drive-thru. I carry coffee or grab a cup from the urn that my boss leaves for us, always black, and I don’t have to walk into the snack minefield of a convenience store just to get a caffeine fix.

Dinner

One of the quickest dinners around is a hamburger steak and a baked potato with canned green beans. You can have this filling and nutritious meal ready as quickly as you can sit in any drive-thru. David once fixed a sirloin steak, from frozen, a baked potato and green beans in 12 minutes. There’s almost no way that you can get out of a drive-thru in less than 12 minutes. He placed the steak in a cast iron skillet, seared it, covered it and let it simmer with just a little water added until it was done. By the time it was ready, so were the baked potato and green beans. You can thaw salmon under cold running water and pan sear it in about 20 minutes. You can cook pork chops on an off day or put a roast in the crock pot along with some veggies for a hot meal sitting on your counter when you walk in the door. Canned veggies and potatoes cooked in the microwave will round out any meal. Frozen, unbreaded chicken tenders will cook in a cast iron skillet in about 20 minutes and they’re much better than the tenders that you get in a fast food restaurant that are coated with high carbohydrate breading.

Your Choice

Don’t be misled by the group-think that healthy food has to be time consuming to prepare. Never go hungry because you are short on time. There’s always a way to eat healthy if you just make it a priority. Plan ahead anduy what you need at the grocery store to cook at home. Take advantage of your off days and prepare what you can to have something ready to carry with you. Nutrition is the foundation of your overall health. As Mom said, “You are what you eat.”

Get to Goal By Eating Well

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First of All

I am frequently asked, “What should I eat?” I usually answer with the single most important piece of advice that I can give, “Don’t eat sugar.” which is imperative for weight control because sugar causes cravings. Once you are committed to that, however, it’s time to go in a little deeper.

Hunger No More

All calories are not created equally. I worked for a large weight loss company that perpetuated the idea that we can eat anything that we want and still control our weight. I beg to differ. I was a member of that program before I was an employee and could never control my weight because I had almost uncontrollable cravings and was always hungry, on the prowl for something to eat. I thought about food all the time. There are foods that are known to keep us more satisfied. These foods are high in protein, high in fiber, high in volume and low in energy density or low in calories for their weight. Foods with a low energy density are very filling. Whole, unprocessed foods are usually more filling than processed foods because your body has to break them down. They will “stick to your ribs” much longer. Some of these foods are as follows:

1-Boiled potatoes are high in water and carbs and contain moderate amounts of fiber and a bit of protein. Compared to other high-carb foods, they are very filling. They contain a protein called proteinase inhibitor 2 and this protein may suppress appetite. They score the highest on the food satiety index of all the foods tested.

2-Eggs are a wonderfully healthy, nutritionally dense food. They are a great source of high-quality protein containing about 6 grams per egg including all 9 essential amino acids. They score high on the satiety index and are very filling. Having eggs for breakfast may help you control your appetite for up to 36 hours.

3-Oatmeal is the third most filling food of all the foods that have been rated. It has a high fiber content and soaks up a lot of water. It stays in your stomach for a long time so you naturally feel fuller. The soluble fiber is believed to cause satiety hormones to be released and keep you from feeling hungry.

4-Fish is a source of high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids that may increase a feeling of fullness in overweight individuals. Some research indicates that fish is better at controlling hunger than other protein sources.

5-Soups are the only liquid food source that is believed to be good at controlling hunger. Make them at home. Canned soups do not have this quality.

6-Meat is high-protein so it’s naturally good at controlling hunger. Beef scored second highest of the protein-rich foods on the satiety index.

7-Greek yogurt is thicker and higher in protein than other yogurt. I always buy the whole milk version. It tastes better and is much more satisfying. Look for plain, whole milk Greek yogurt and add your own extras for taste and texture. Use a no-sugar sweetener of choice and whatever flavour profile that you like. I sometimes add nuts, peanut butter powder or even Crystal Light for a fruity taste. Lemonade Crystal Light makes a healthy version of Lemon Pie. Use your imagination and create a healthy sundae.

8-Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and various healthy plant phytochemicals. They are high-volume and low calorie, rich in fiber and water. Eat up!

9-Cottage cheese is similar to eggs in protein content and calories.

10-Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils and peanuts are loaded with fiber and plant-based protein and yet have a low energy density. They are very filling and have been found to cause a 31% increase in satiety.

11-Whole fruit can help you feel full. Don’t drink juice and limit the amount of fruit that you consume. It is a source of natural sugar.

12-Quinoa is a good source of protein with all the essential amino acids. It’s higher in fiber than most grains so the high protein and fiber combine to make a satiety powerhouse.

13-Nuts are energy-dense and high in healthy fats and protein. While they are very filling, you must control the amount that you eat because they are high in calories.

14-Coconut oil is a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides which can reduce the appetite and total caloric intake. It is also credited with having a positive impact on reducing belly fat. I always use this in place of butter.

15-Popcorn is high in fiber and volume and low in energy density. It is wonderful for creating that satisfied feeling of fulness that you may crave between meals. (1)

The Dark Side

Just as there are foods that increase fullness and help with weight management, there are foods that you need to avoid if satiety is your goal.

Cheese has the ability to induce an opiate-like craving. The more you eat, the more you want. Try to steer clear of this creator of cravings. Juices are void of their fiber and tend to cause an insulin spike which makes you hungry, Eat your fruit whole. Low-fat, sugar-sweetened yogurt is always a bad idea. You might as well eat a candy bar. While egg whites are a source of protein, they don’t contain the saturated fat that’s in the yolk that provides satiety. They won’t keep you from being hungry. Many people think that fat-free salad dressings are good but they usually have more salt and sugar than full-fat dressings and both sugar and salt cause cravings. Use the real thing or nothing at all. Foods that are labeled healthy predispose us to over-eating. Regardless of the health claim on the label, judge the food by the nutrition label. DON’T EAT ADDED SUGARS. Granola bars are high in calories and usually sugar. They are very deceptive. Most are little more than a candy bar. Regular ketchup is mostly sugar. Try Heinz No Sugar Added Ketchup. It’s great. Avoid healthy sounding muffins and all sugary breakfast cereal. They will sabotage your weight management efforts every time. Skip the refined grains found in crackers and white bread. They have little to no fiber and soon break down into sugar in your bloodstream. They will increase hunger. Avoid processed, salty snacks. Salt triggers dopamine production which is a pleasure hormone. The more of these salt-bombs that you eat, the more you want. Just don’t. Avoid fruit smoothies because they are sugar bullets that drop straight into your bloodstream devoid of the fiber of whole fruit that slows this process. Again, eat the small amount of fruit that you eat, whole. Don’t drink alcohol. It lowers your inhibitions and is a source of sugar in your diet. It’s a bad idea almost all of the time.

Plan to Succeed

With a little forethought and planning you can manage your weight and stay satisfied. I am not “on a diet'”. I live a healthy lifestyle and practice these habits myself. So does David. You can read more about how I eat in my article, “What I Eat at 63”.  We practice what we preach and know that this lifestyle works. Always consult your physician before beginning any weight loss program.

(1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-incredibly-filling-foods

Eat Your Oats!

Monday morning during our drive to Loraine’s surgical oncologist visit, we were discussing nutrition when she asked me the difference between steel cut oats and rolled oats. This was a good question and a topic I thought would be good to share with others.

I love oatmeal and usually have it at least three to four times per week for breakfast. I know a lot of people might think it too bland for their taste, to which I would have to inquire just how many ways have they ever tried preparing oatmeal. You see, oatmeal is a very versatile cereal grain that provides many health benefits to our bodies. Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth. They’re a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits that include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.

(A point to remember for the gluten intolerant folks, while oats are naturally gluten free, they can contain some traces of gluten due to cross pollination with wheat, barley or rye in some fields. Check to ensure your packaging states gluten free if you are intolerant.)

Another great aspect of oats is they are an inexpensive food choice, costing only about thirteen cents per half cup serving of dry oats before cooking. I always kind of chuckle when I hear people say it is too expensive to buy healthy food choices when there are plenty of options that will not break the bank. Seriously, one has to ask themselves, is it not cheaper to make good nutritional choices that help to keep medical expenses down? Or do you find it less expensive to treat your body like a garbage disposal by consuming calorie dense foods that provide little to no nutritional benefit. Face it, many if not most common ailments that are not from a virus or bacteria are all related to poor food choices. Quality nutrition is the key to good health, the point is not  arguable at any level.

Steel Cut or Rolled Oats, Which are Best?

There is a fine line of difference in which oats are best for you. There is little difference in the nutritional values of steel cut or rolled oats. Which oats are best for you is a matter of personal preference more than anything, but lets go over the differences between the different choices:

Steel Cut

Steel-cut, rolled and quick oats all start out as oat groats. The oat groats are then processed in different ways to create either steel-cut, rolled or quick oats, all of which have distinct characteristics.

Steel-Cut Oats, are also known as Irish oatmeal. Steel-cut oats are most closely related to the original, unprocessed oat groat. The groats are chopped into pieces with large steel blades.

Steel cut oats have a coarser, chewier texture and nuttier flavor than rolled or quick oats.They also take longer to prepare, with average cooking times varying 15–30 minutes. To reduce cooking time, you can soak steel-cut oats beforehand.

Rolled Oats

Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats, are oat groats that have gone through a steaming and flattening process. They have a milder flavor and softer texture and take much less time to make than steel-cut oats, as they have been partially cooked. You can prepare a bowl of rolled oats takes 2–5 minutes.

Rolled oats can also be added to goods like cookies, cakes, muffins and bread.

Quick Oats

Quick oats or quick-cooking oats are rolled oats that go through further processing to decrease cooking time. They’re partially cooked by steaming and then rolled even thinner than old-fashioned oats. They cook within a few minutes, have a mild flavor and soft, mushy texture.

Quick oats are not the same as instant, packaged oats that sometimes contain other ingredients like skim milk powder, sugar and flavoring.

 Oats are a well-balanced, nutrient dense cereal grain, no matter the type you prefer. They are an excellent source of complex carbs and fiber, including the powerful fiber beta-glucan, and contain more protein and fat than most other grains.

Oats are loaded with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidant plant compounds. Half a cup (78 grams) of dry oats contains:

Manganese: 191% of the RDI

Phosphorus: 41% of the RDI

Magnesium: 34% of the RDI

Copper: 24% of the RDI

Iron: 20% of the RDI

Zinc: 20% of the RDI

Folate: 11% of the RDI

Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 39% of the RDI

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10% of the RDI

Smaller amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B3 (niacin)

This all comes with 51 grams of complex carbs, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 8 grams of fiber, while only consisting of 303 calories. This means that oats are among the most nutrient dense foods you can eat.

The chart below compares the nutritional differences between 2 ounces (56 grams) of rolled, steel-cut and quick oats. As you can plainly see, there is an insignificant difference in the nutritional values between the different styles of oats.

For good health, incorporate oats into your day. They do not have to be just for breakfast, there are many savory oat recipes to be found on the internet to enjoy at any time of the day. Get creative and try something new with the  heart healthy grain. Your body will love you for it.

Your “Diet” Will Always Fail You

New Years Eve has come and passed, as have a good many resolutions to become a new person by losing weight and getting healthier in the new decade. These personal resolutions that were so heartfelt on New Years Eve, will by and large be empty promises by the time the 2020 swim suit season begins appearing in all the department stores. Possibly even quicker…

How do we know with absolute certainty how fast people with good intent jump off the weight loss wagon? We know this through personal experience of having had our own individual weight problems. We know this because of Brenda Sue’s past employment with one of the largest, if not the largest, weight loss companies in America. We know this because we have readers who privately confide these struggles with us through our  web site contact email.

How many of you might have tried a quick weight loss diet plan beginning New Years Day to find that you have already derailed your diet train right off the side of a mountain?

Have you tried a magical 7 day diet plan to only find yourself feeling even more hopeless when it did not work for you as you frivolously believed it would?

Years ago, in the “Old West” days in America, we had unscrupulous men traveling around the country with horse drawn wagons, selling miracle cures at every town where they were still unknown. These “Snake Oil” salesmen would often get run out of town when the local towns people figured out they were crooks cheating them out of their hard earned money. It would be nice to know these types have disappeared in the dustbin of history, but they have not. The “Snake Oil” salesmen are still among us. You can not turn to any type of media, whether television, radio, internet among thousands of other types of media, without seeing the evidence that these crooked bastards are still here. Except now, they have perfected their craft to be even more deceptive in their scandalous ways. There is an old saying that I think also can be applied to people who are desperate to lose weight as well. The saying is “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

There are a great many weight loss plans or schemes floating around, some good and some not so good. It is down right foolish, or naive to believe a good many of them will give you lasting results. Simply put, it is foolhardy if you have a weight issue to believe that you can just go on a diet and hurry through to get it over with in order to return to your old ways. And, this is the main problem with going on a diet instead of adopting the mindset to entirely change your thinking in regards to losing and managing your weight. You have to get “dieting” out of your mind and instead get your mind wrapped around the fact you have to reverse course and adopt an entirely new lifestyle of healthy eating if you want your weight loss to be permanent.

Not all calories are created equal!

At David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we tell people through our numerous articles, and through personal consultation that it is paramount to track their calories consumed each and every day. If you do not track what you consume, it is far too easy to find yourself stuck at a  weight loss plateau, or even gaining weight. You have to keep yourself accountable to yourself. You have to make personal accountability of your nutritional habits a lifestyle if you want to keep your weight off for good. If you find yourself eating only 500 calories per day over what your body requires for maintenance, you will find yourself gaining a pound of fat back each week. You have to be at a caloric deficit in order to lose weight, and then you have to  remain disciplined with your nutrition for the rest of your life. This is true for damn near every one barring there are not any legitimate health issues that will keep you from losing. But, know this, these type of health circumstances are not the norm. It is not likely there is anything wrong with your body that you cannot lose weight for good. You are not a special snowflake where the rules of nutrition do not apply. This is a painful truth for many. It is not your body that will not shed the pounds, rather it is your thinking that keeps you heavy. I tell you this not to be insulting, but to help you. This would not be my 700th article if I intended to be hurtful to anyone.

There are many ways you can track your calories. We provide a calorie and macro-nutrient chart on our website to assist with this, you just have to do a little of your own math. You can read labels, and you can find caloric information on many internet sources. One day, I will incorporate an app that will track all of your calories and macro-nutrients right here on my website.

But, you need to know that simply tracking calories is not enough because not all calories are equal in their benefit to your well being and health. It would be misleading to say that a calorie is a calorie no matter where it came from. For instance, a package of sugar laden Strawberry Poptarts and 8 ounces of skim milk is 483 calories with 90g carbs (76g of simple carbs), 10.2g of fat and only 12.3g of protein. This package of Poptarts has only 2g of fiber and 32g of sugar. There is absolutely no nutritional value to any variety of Poptarts which are so very popular across all of America.

Now, for roughly the same amount of calories you could have 2 boiled eggs, 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 turkey sausage patty, and a cup of skim milk for 466 calories, 41.2g of complex carbs, 18.7g fat, 34.9g protein, 4.2g fiber and only 2g of natural sugar. This breakfast can be made ahead and warmed in a microwave in about the same time it takes to stick your Poptarts into a toaster. This breakfast will provide you with plenty of protein and fats to keep you satiated longer along with complex carbs to fuel your body longer than simple carbs from sugar will. Calories are not equal.

As you can see, some foods bring you benefit while others bring you nothing but immediate satisfaction of hunger or a craving. Some foods give you absolutely zero nutritional benefit, it is only wise to give these up in their entirety as they only serve to pollute your body and contribute to the onset of disease. Wholesome foods bring you vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, along with trace elements that keep your body healthy. These nutritional properties are not found in refined sugar, and not in sufficient quantities in most foods that are heavily laden with sugar.

Food quality directly influences the balance of nutrients verses pollutants that it provides!

Good peanut butter can be a nutritious source of protein, unsaturated fat, phytochemicals, and vitamins. Yet, cheap peanut butter of low quality will only provide you with a lot of refined sugar and harmful transfats. It pays dividends with your health to buy quality foods. The expense of healthy choices will offset the expense you would otherwise incur through costly doctors visits and medications. Being as many ailments are a direct result of dietary habits, most are actually preventable if you eat healthy and exercise some. You do not need to buy only the expensive organic foods, just use common sense when you shop. Read labels and you will find many medium priced options that offer a good compromise between optimal heath benefits and living on a budget.

 

High Fat Verses Low to Zero Fat

In the past few decades, there have been many high-profile claims made in academic literature and other media sources that allege the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960’s to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease. With this downplay of sugar being a culprit, the emphasis was instead directed towards the dangers of dietary fat in our diets.

There are some who stick by the veracity of this claim, while there are other well respected sources who have debunked this rumor as a myth that never occurred. Legend has it,  documents unearthed in historical archives regarding the sugar industry funding of Harvard nutrition scientists in the 1960’s, were identified as “smoking gun” evidence the sugar industry successfully meddled in science and “derailed” the course of governmental dietary policy. Essentially, it is claimed the sugar industry wanted the focus of obesity problems taken off their industry and placed more squarely on the risks of fats such as in butter and beef instead. Allegedly, this shift of focus was also to largely ward off new taxes that were going to be implemented by the government onto sugar sweetened foods and drinks as they were being identified as a part of our society’s early problems with obesity.

Is this conspiracy story about the sugar industry shifting focus to the health issues from fat true? I do not know, I can neither prove nor disprove the veracity of the claims against it. Are there really people in the sugar industry this diabolical? I am normally not one who buys into conspiracies. However, there does seem to be a correlation between the low to no fat craze and our rising obesity epidemic.

However, thinking people know that correlation does always mean causation.

Yet when it comes to thinking people, it seems we have far too many in our midst who have lost their collective minds when it comes to their nutritional habits. Look around you. Everywhere you go, you are now  in the minority if you are fit and trim. Sixty eight percent of our population in America are out of good physical condition by being overweight or obese. Twenty five percent of our population are prediabetic.  This is a sad state of affairs that needs to make a turn around before it gets worse.

Over the last few decades we have watched as our grocery store shelves filled up with many low fat or zero fat goodies for us to eat. We have low fat cookies, cakes, ice cream, yogurts and on and on and on. Low to no fat food items as far as the eye can see.  There has been a monumental push to get fat out of diets, yet people are fatter in America than ever. Even the government has been pushing this foolish idea of eliminating fats from our diets.  Because a diet low in fat has been deemed to be healthy, government policies have affected nutrition programs in schools, hospitals and the military. Yet, we keep getting fatter.

The American Dietetic Association replaced the four basic food groups with the food pyramid in the effort to reduce the consumption of fats. Their intentions were good, but intentions without good results mean jack squat nothing. There has been a tremendous amount of time and resources expended to get people to reduce their fat intake, yet the incidence of obesity and cardiovascular disease is not subsiding in the least. In fact, it is getting worse every damn day. Is it possible all the researchers missed some critical element to this problem?

Maybe not entirely.

There is nothing wrong about researchers and the government trying to get us as a nation to reduce our fat intake as there are many unhealthy fats in far too many foods available to us in this modern world we live in.

There has been a serious misinterpretation of the message to eat low fat.

It has been assumed by a vast swath of our population that if we adopted a low fat diet in order to prevent heart disease, this allowed us to eat as much as we wanted of foods that are low or zero fat. The food industry ran with this assumption and loaded our grocery store shelves full of low to zero fat options, yet people never considered the fact these products began having extra sugar added to them in order to improve the taste lost by fat removal. It has become the norm that instead of eating only a couple cookies they would eat an entire package of them.

What’s the harm? They are fat free!

News Flash!

Fat free is not calorie free!

You cannot just switch to a low fat food and eat with abandon to your hearts content. You still have to use common sense with your dietary habits, or your are doomed to a lifetime of obesity. In the past, I have seen on Weight Watchers social media where people will manipulate their diets to accommodate treats for every day consumption. They will justify their snacking because low or zero fat foods are low to zero points on the Weight Watchers program. This program takes the emphasis away from accountability to calories consumed, therefore a good many are always either struggling to lose weight or failing to lose altogether. At the end of the day, your weight loss or management depends on not consuming more calories than you expend each day. And this is regardless of the fat content or lack thereof.

Look, if you want to eat low fat or zero fat foods, then go right ahead and make yourself happy. But know that this is not helping your health in the least if you are not going to be personally accountable to yourself by managing your dietary habits. If you eat more calories than you burn off, especially if you are sedentary, you are going to be fat, It really is that plain and simple. You really cannot even intelligently argue the point.

The abundance and availability of low fat and zero fat foods has resulted in a fatter society not a thinner or fitter one. Eat healthy fats, your body needs them to better absorb nutrients that keep you healthy. Not only this, but full fat foods taste better and are usually more satiating than their low fat counterparts. Use your head and think about what you are doing the next time you are making food choices. Ask yourself if the choices you are making will actually improve your health or not. You owe this to yourself, you deserve to treat yourself better.

 

Functional Foods

Functional foods.

This is a catch phrase that appears to be gaining in popularity now.

Is not all food functional? Would the function of a powder sugar donut not be to satisfy a craving?

Just what in the world is considered a functional food today anyhow?

A functional food is a food claimed to have an additional function (often one related to health-promotion or disease prevention) by adding new ingredients or more of existing ingredients. The term may also apply to traits purposely bred into existing edible plants, such as purple or gold potatoes having enriched anthocyanin or carotenoid contents, respectively. Functional foods may be “designed to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, and may be similar in appearance to conventional food and consumed as part of a regular diet”. (1)

The term “functional food” kind of grates on my nerves. Listen, let’s be real for a moment. All food that provides you a nutritional benefit is functional to your good health. Now days, there already seems to be too many with a lack of understanding as to what comprises good nutrition, and then someone creates a term that further exasperates this confusion. If our schools still taught nutrition and health, these kinds of fancy terms along with a lack of nutritional knowledge would be much more rare than they are today. I find it sad we have people here in America that do not understand, and some who do not care, it is bad for their health to live on cookies, cakes, potato chips and soda pop. That is until their weight has become out of their control or has caused them health issues. related to their dietary habits. This is when they begin looking for the latest trends, fads if you will, in losing weight.

I’m going to be a Vegan!

I’m going to start my Keto tomorrow!

Or, one I saw recently:

I’m going to try Keto Vegetarianism…

People who become desperate to lose weight will very often begin looking for the newest fads to get their weight down. Or conversely, they may begin researching how to best lose weight and fall for the plans that sound the most scholarly, hence the term “functional food”. By consuming “functional foods”, I must be going about weight loss or management in the most efficient manner, right?

No, not necessarily.

At David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we promote keeping  your stress down by “making your world small”. I strongly believe in the KISS principle;

Keep It Simple Stupid

I do not condone fad diets, nor do I advocate weight loss plans that allow you to keep doing that which got you fat in the first place. And I find it not in the least helpful when people present plans to the average individual where their terms are getting a little too technical sounding, such as “functional food”.

Without rehashing David’s Way Plan/Methodology in the entirety, I will sum it up in a nutshell. (You can click on the link for my plan in it’s full glory.)

My methodology is simple.

I will not tell you what to eat, though I do tell you to quit eating all sugar, simple carbs, and processed foods that contain simple sugars, unhealthy fats, high sodium and preservatives.

While I am not going to make your food choices for you, I will say to shop around the perimeter of your grocery store and only buy whole foods which you have to prepare yourself.

Meats and fish

Vegetables of all types

Fruits

Dairy

I instruct to only consume the amount of calories your body needs in order to lose weight in a healthy manner at 1 pound per week, or to maintain your weight. You can find your caloric needs on our Calorie Counter Pro. You will find that when you only consume healthy foods, it can be quite difficult to actually eat enough calories to maintain your weight. Be accountable to yourself in what you eat every day. Make nutritional accountability your permanent lifestyle, not a temporary diet.

With each meal, ensure you get a good mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Protein repairs and rebuilds all of our cellular structure. Complex carbohydrates fuel our bodies. Healthy fats help your body absorb important nutrients and produce essential hormones too.

I personally go for 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight. I have a target range of 100 to 150 net grams of complex carbohydrates with a minimum of 30 grams per day of fiber which offsets your total carb intake. (155g carbs – 30g fiber =125g net carbs) And the rest of my caloric intake is made up of healthy omega 3 fatty acid rich fats for 2200 calories per day.

If you get a good mix of these macro-nutrients with each meal and watch your calories, the macro-nutrient math will take care of itself.

My methodology is nothing new. It is how my generation grew up eating before our nation’s obesity epidemic came into being.  We had 3 nutritious meals per day with minimal snacking in between. When dinner was over in the evening, the kitchen was closed until breakfast time the following morning. Today, we often hear about another catch phrase, “Intermittent Fasting”, but it too is not new. When dinner was over and you did not eat until breakfast, that is “Intermittent Fasting”. I actually like “IF” on the 16:8 protocol and advocate it for those who are on weight loss mode. It is effective, but does not need the special name. You can just make this a part of your  new lifestyle without feeling as if you are doing something new and special.

“Functional Foods” is only a marketing tool. Do not get caught up in trying to only  consume foods with this label. As long as you make the smart choice to practice sound dietary habits where you eat foods that provide you with all your nutrients and macro-nutrient needs, your health and weight will take care of itself, unless you have let your health deteriorate too far. Even then, sound nutrition can still improve your quality of life. This is something junk foods will never accomplish for you.

 

 

(1) Wikipedia