Category: Nutrition

To Snack or Not Snack

Friday night, I posed a question on social media about favorite snacks only to have one individual respond “I do not snack, I eat 3 meals a day”. Now, with social media conversations too much is left out of context to where you do not always know if the person is just being concise in their statement because that is how they write, or possibly their shortness is just them being a tad bit snarky. We just do not know when there is no tone of voice to be heard, or body and facial expressions to be seen. Unless I am given reason to believe otherwise, I will always assume they are just concise in how they write, and that is no problem with me.

So, should I snack or not?

My question to you would be – what are you trying to accomplish with a snack?

Well dummy, I’m trying to quell my hunger, DUH!

Okay, now for me to be serious about my question of what are you trying to accomplish. If you are snacking purely out of boredom as we can be prone to do, I would say not to snack. If you are working at maintaining your metabolism, by controlling your blood sugar and insulin levels, then by all means enjoy a couple healthy snacks during the day. There is no hard and fast rules written anywhere dictating if it is alright for you to snack or not, Nor should there ever be as long as what you are consuming is providing benefit to your body as a whole.

If you are going to eat junk foods that are full of sugar, simple carbs and unhealthy fats and excessive sodium, just say NO to yourself.

If your snack is something good for your body, GO FOR IT!

Me personally, I snack almost all day on most days of the week. I have a certain amount of calories and macronutrients as a goal to consume each and every day. For me, by spreading my consumption of foods out during the course of the day, it is a better method for managing my blood sugar levels. It keeps me on an even keel to enjoy an ounce of almonds, maybe a couple boiled eggs, whole fat greek yogurt, and fruit during the day, These are all healthy snacks that provide my body with the nourishment of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats which keep my body fit, trim and healthy. These snacks help give me the energy to perform my physically demanding job and to keep up with my hard core weight training regiment that I work at 4 days per week. If this is more than your body needs, then you do not need to do it. But, if it helps to keep you well mentally and physically, then by all means snack away on healthy foods.

A snack does not necessarily have to be junk food.

Create your snack to be a small, but well composed meal instead.

Losing weight is about more than just cutting calories. It is about managing your metabolism, and even if yours is slow, you can still learn to manage it.

The bottom line of controlling your metabolism lies in controlling the metabolic hormones in your body, insulin and glucagon specifically. When you consume a meal, or snack comprised of  a good blend of the macronutrients you need for optimal health, you set the hormonal tone in your body for the next several hours.

Your body needs protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats!

At some point in time, you will need to recharge with more macronutrients to fine tune the metabolic system again. How often you need to do this is all unique to each individual, considering how active you may be, or the physical condition of your body. In other words, if you carry too much body fat, it may be better for you to eat up to 6 small meals per day instead of 3. This is just one of those things you have to figure out, as your needs can, and will change as your body composition changes. What you need one year from today may be entirely different than what you need today, and that is a natural part of achieving a healthy body through weight loss.

Snacks while on the run should provide you with protein and complex carbohydrates. I deliver construction and industrial supplies from a semi during the week and with a 60 hour work week, I am always on the go. Yet, I pre-plan my road food and carry premeasured almonds, a couple boiled eggs, an apple, and yogurt along with a lean deli meat wrapped in a high fiber tortilla which I wash down with a protein shake. I also carry plenty of bottled water in order to remain well hydrated while on the road.

If you find yourself having to buy food while on the go, with a little bit of planning you can always find something healthy to carry you over until you can have a proper meal. It may take a little bit of work to find commercially available snack foods that are not full of sugar or refined carbohydrates, but it is not impossible. Just do not convince yourself that any of the fat free versions of any junk food are any better than the types full of fat. Usually fat free foods have more sugar added to them to improve the taste that is lost when the fat is removed. If you are going to succumb to a junk food snack, you might as well go ahead and get the ones with fat since fat is actually more satiating than non-fat.

Control your hunger instead of letting your hunger control you!

You DO have the power to do so!

No Sugar, No Flour, Now What?

In the journey of becoming a healthier individual, people will correctly quit eating certain foods. It is a wise decision to give up sugar and refined flours as a part of a healthy nutritional lifestyle.

But, do we actually know why these are good decisions?

Have you really thought this through?

Have you considered what to use as healthy alternatives?

At David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we have advocated from the beginning that people quit consuming sugar, and foods that contain added sugars, and simple carbohydrates in general. Table sugar  and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are the two main types of added sugar in the Western diet. Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, while high fructose corn syrup is about 45% glucose and 55% fructose. One of the reasons that added sugars are harmful is that they can increase inflammation, which can lead to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, obesity and more. Sugar is as harmful within our body as it is delicious to the palate, yet most people will not give it up and will therefore eventually suffer the consequences of consuming too much of this white crystalline goodness over the years. Sugar is known to trigger the same receptors in the brain as cocaine, and it is processed by the body in an almost identical manner as alcohol. Your feeling of addiction to sugar and simple carbs is a real thing, it is not a figment of your imagination.

Why give up refined flour?

In the case of refined wheat flour you are getting too many grams of carbohydrates and an abundance of empty calories that provide your body with very minimal nutrition. These carbs then contribute to an increase of blood sugar and insulin. If you consume too much on a daily basis, then your hormonal response is always going to be out of balance the same as if you were eating actual sugar. When you consume refined white flour, all of the nutrients and fiber have been removed, it is just another refined, simple carbohydrate.  is linked to drastically increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Almost every nutrition expert agrees that refined carbs should be limited if not entirely eliminated.

 Because many people do not want to give up baked goods entirely when they set off on a mission to discover good health,  many people become interested in replacing white flour with more wholesome options for baking and cooking. And there are indeed a few healthy alternatives you can turn to such as:

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is a grain- and gluten-free flour made by grinding dried coconut meat into a soft, fine powder.It’s more calorie-dense than traditional grain-based flours and a good source of protein, fat, fiber, and minerals like iron and potassium. Unlike grain flours, coconut flour contains a substantial amount of fat. This fat is primarily saturated and largely comprised of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which may reduce inflammation and support healthy metabolism. Although it’s controversial, saturated fat from coconut likely affects your  health differently than fast food, fried foods, and processed meats — and may even offer benefits. Coconut flour is also rich in antioxidants and appears to have antimicrobial properties.

A 1/2-cup (64-gram) serving provides:

  • Calories: 210
  • Protein: 8.5 grams
  • Fat: 13 grams
  • Carbs: 34 grams
  • Fiber: 25 grams
  • Iron: 22% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Potassium: 18% of the DV

Coconut flour has a mildly sweet flavor that lends itself to cakes, cookies, breads, and other baked goods. It tends to have a gritty texture and absorb a lot of liquid, which may dry out some baked goods. Thus, it works best in dishes that use eggs to maintain moisture and structure, such as muffins. When substituting coconut flour for wheat flour, use about 1/4 of what the recipe calls for, then replace the remaining 3/4 with another type of flour. Additionally, because it needs more liquid than other flours, add 1 egg per 1/4 cup (32 grams) of coconut flour in baked goods. (1)

Almond Flour

Almond flour is made by grinding blanched almonds into a fine powder. As it doesn’t contain grains, it’s naturally gluten-free. Note that almond flour is different than almond meal, which is a coarser ingredient made by grinding almonds with their skins still intact. Almond flour is a good source of magnesium, omega-3 unsaturated fats, plant protein, and vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant. Keep in mind that almonds, like other nuts and seeds, are high in calories.

The nutrients in this flour offer several benefits, such as improved insulin resistance, as well as lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure. Almonds may also protect brain health, as vitamin E may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.

A 1/2-cup (56-gram) serving of almond flour offers :

  • Calories: 340
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Fat: 30 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Calcium: 5% of the DV
  • Iron: 6% of the DV
  • Potassium: 8% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 65% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 100% of the DV

Almond flour has a nutty flavor and is easy to use. In most recipes, you can simply substitute almond flour for wheat flour at an equal ratio. It works well in baked goods like pancakes, cookies, scones, and biscuits, plus certain savory foods like homemade pasta and meatballs. (1)

Quinoa Flour

Quinoa flour is made by grinding quinoa to make a fine powder. This gluten-free pseudocereal is widely considered a whole grain, which means that it hasn’t been processed and refined, leaving its original nutrients intact. Notably, it’s a good source of protein, fiber, iron, and unsaturated fats. Furthermore, it boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may benefit digestive health, inhibit tumor growth, and lower overall disease risk.

A 1/2-cup (56-gram) serving of quinoa flour provides:

  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 38 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Iron: 33% of the DV
  • Potassium: 4% of the DV

Quinoa flour lends a moist, tender texture to baked goods. Substitute it for half the amount of wheat flour in most recipes. Some people find this flour bitter, but you can diminish the aftertaste by toasting it on a dry skillet over medium heat for 5–10 minutes, stirring gently, before adding it to your recipe. Quinoa flour is great for pancakes, muffins, and pizza and pie crusts. You can also use it to thicken soups and sauces. (1)

Buckwheat

Buckwheat flour is made from ground buckwheat, a plant known for its grain-like seeds. Despite its name, buckwheat is unrelated to wheat and therefore gluten-free. Buckwheat flour has an earthy flavor and is used to make traditional Japanese soba noodles. It’s a good source of fiber, protein, and micronutrients like manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and phosphorus. Research shows that this flour may reduce blood sugar in people with diabetes and improve biomarkers of heart health. It may also have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and prebiotic properties. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which support digestive health.

A 1/2-cup (60-gram) serving of buckwheat flour offers:

  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 44 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Iron: 17% of the DV
  • Manganese: 34% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 33% of the DV
  • Copper: 73% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 17% of the DV

For best results, buckwheat flour should be used in combination with other whole grain flours, comprising 25–50% of the total flour in a recipe. It works well in pancakes and quick breads and makes a delectable crumb coating for meat or other proteins. (1)

Whole Wheat Flour

Wheat flour is in most baked goods you’ll find at bakeries and supermarkets. Yet, whole wheat and white flour are vastly different. Whereas the whole wheat version is made by grinding entire wheat kernels into a powder, white flour removes the most nutrient-rich parts — the bran and germ. Thus, whole wheat flour is widely considered healthier.

It’s a good source of protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. As it contains gluten, it isn’t appropriate for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

A 1/2-cup (60-gram) serving of 100% whole wheat flour provides:

  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbs: 42 grams
  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Iron: 11% of the DV
  • Potassium: 5% of the DV

Whole wheat flour can be used in equal amounts as white or all-purpose flour in any recipe. Bear in mind that it gives a less fluffy texture than white flour because it’s unrefined. You can enjoy it in homemade breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, rolls, pizza dough, pancakes, and waffles. (1)

Summary

Some of these flours might fit into your nutritional needs, and some may not. It is up to you to decide what you want to consume, but at least this gives you an idea of healthier alternatives than simple refined white flour, and the reasons why they are healthier alternatives.

 

(1) Healthline.com

Common Sense Eating

Let me tell you a straightforward and  blunt fact of life that I cannot in good conscious sugarcoat for you. I am not one who is into hurting feelings, but to get my message through to you, I will not wrap it up in a pretty little package and top it with a ribbon and bow to make you feel good.

My mission is first and foremost to help you.

Do you know why every diet plan you have tried has always failed you?

It is because it lacked COMMON SENSE!

If your nutritional habits are not based in common sense, you are doomed to a life of being overweight or obese. It is as simple as that.

Which food group looks most like what you eat on a regular basis?

Be real with yourself if your meals are more like the lower picture than the one above.

Are the nutritional values of these two pictures even remotely close to being the same?

Common sense dictates that we need to fuel our bodies with good fuel if we want to be at our best level of health and fitness. Yet, fast food has become a daily staple for far too many in western society.

From US Center for Disease Control:

34% of children eat fast food on any given day.

Regular fast food consumption increases your risks for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes & depression.

Fast food consumption increases 2.2% every year.

Fast food is high in calories and loaded with fat, sugar & salt. Most of the nutrition that would be present has been stripped away due to processing, so those things are added in order to make the food taste good. Combine that with a caffeine & sugar laden soft drink and it’s no wonder we all hit that work day slump around 3 pm. Fast food might taste good – but common sense should tell us, it’s not good for our body. Fueling our body with fast food is like knowingly putting bad fuel in our car.

It just does not make sense!

Now, let’s move on to commercial weight loss diet plans and why they fail you.

Common sense dictates that to lose weight, and keep it off, your nutritional habits have to become your lifestyle and not something temporary with an endpoint. The problem with every diet is there will always be an endpoint at some time in the future. 

One of the top weight loss companies in America, if not the top, has a convoluted diet plan that can, and does work for some. But, it leaves too much wiggle room for those who do not apply common sense. In their plan, which you pay good money for, foods are given an assigned number of points while healthier choices are not given any points at all. What happens, and why people fail at this plan is, they will eat all their points in poor nutritional choices and then fill up for the rest of the day on foods that do not have any points. The problem is the foods  that are not assigned points still have calories that add up. If you eat 500 calories per day over your caloric needs, common sense dictates you are going to still gain 1 pound per week no matter the foods that put you over are zero point foods. Common sense can, and does fly right out the window when you allow people wiggle room with their nutrition.

Diet Foods/Plans Sent to Your Home

There are more than a couple companies that will promise you weight loss by eating their foods and following their simple plans for an expensive fee. They entice you with menu pictures that look like the picture above,but what you receive is pictured below.

I have to tell you, my wife tried the Nutrisystem once a few years back. The food was simply awful, and was not satisfying at all. If I had a choice between eating these prepackaged foods or the MRE (Meals Ready To Eat) that we ate while in the field when I was in the military, I would go for the MRE.

But here is the larger problem with these prepackaged diet meals.

These programs really do not teach you anything about good nutrition, and you are not learning how to prepare healthy foods for yourself at home. For permanent weight loss, and successful management of your body fat levels, you have to learn to cook foods for yourself that are nutritionally sound and which are not full of empty calories that provide you no health benefit.

Ordering a month’s worth of food is easy, and the items are already made for you. But you won’t have your usual degree of control over what foods you choose to eat.  You can  expect to pay from about $230 to the mid $300s a month for the Nutrisystem foods, plus whatever you buy from the grocery store. The real question is whether you can continue to lose weight or maintain your weight when you are no longer relying on these prepackaged foods.

Common sense should tell you the odds are stacked against you.

Meal Replacement Drinks

While there may be some valid reasons to use meal replacement drinks on occasion, it does not make sense to believe you can or should use these for the long term. The smart money is once again, on preparing healthy and nutritional whole foods to nourish your body with.

It’s just good old fashioned common sense to do so!

In most cases, these products are designed to be bought and sold in bulk and do NOT contain fresh ingredients. Grocery stores keep them stocked on shelves for months. And they’re often kept in vending machines where they must be shelf-stable. These meal replacement drinks must have a long shelf-life, and they have be safe to consume without refrigeration. When both of these features go into any food, it can be an unhealthy combination. In most cases, the ingredients need to be heavily processed. And as a direct result of all that processing, there’s little whole-food nutrition or nutrients left over in the meal replacement itself. That means many of the necessary ingredients for healthy digestion, food absorption and a nutritionally sound diet are greatly reduced.

For anyone who wants to lose unwanted weight, it can be mighty tempting to skip real food and consume meal replacement drinks. However,  there’s one major problem with this strategy – meal replacement drinks for weight loss do not work over the long-term. While you might drop a few pounds quickly, you’re more likely to end up feeling deprived, restricted, low in energy and full of cravings for the foods you actually enjoy.

At David’s Way, we take a holistic, whole body approach to weight loss and management!

David’s Way is a healthy nutrition and active lifestyle based on years of personal experience and scientific research. Our methodology involves the consumption of a high protein, low carbohydrate, nutritionally sound and diabetic friendly diet. At David’s Way we don’t tell you what to eat so much as we tell you what not to eat. This is no weight loss gimmick, this simple plan is how our mothers, grandmothers and generations past used to feed us. It is simply a matter of using portion control when consuming healthy, whole foods, while avoiding foods that are not nutritionally sound. In other words, do not consume anything that does not provide you a nutritional benefit.

  • Do not consume sugar or simple carbs such as refined sugar, pasta and breads made of refined white flour. Avoid sugar sweetened drinks and alcoholic beverages as they are loaded in simple carbohydrates.
      1. Foods containing added sugar and simple carbohydrates will spike your blood sugar and insulin which will drive your cravings for more. If you have not had control over sugar and simple carbohydrates in the past, it is unlikely you will keep them under control in the future if you have been prone to binge eating. If you are addicted to simple carbs you will almost certainly have the same issues as an alcoholic who thinks he can enjoy just one drink. This might work occasionally, but will usually derail the individual entirely.
      2. The only caveat to not consuming simple carbs is fruit. The fiber in fruit acts to buffer the simple carbohydrates in them from just dumping into your bloodstream like happens when you eat sugar and other simple carbohydrates.
      3. In our recipe category, we have subcategories with plenty of sugar free dessert recipes that are delicious, and can be eaten by anyone including diabetics, while not having to concern yourself with the health issues and cravings which come from sugar.
  •  No processed foods as they are almost always high in sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and          preservatives.
    1. While there are some processed foods that are nutritionally sound, most are not. If you are going to consume processed foods because of the convenience factor, be sure to read the label first. For example, if you purchase a sauce, read the label to identify whether the product contains added sugar, unhealthy fats, high amounts of sodium and any other ingredients which you might have to do a Google search of in order to even know what it might be.
  • Simply put, we encourage you to eat whole foods such as meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and dairy products that are easily prepared at home. Skip restaurants and fast food’s unless you know that you are able to make healthy choices from their menu.
    1. An example of a healthy choice in a restaurant would be meat and vegetable fajitas in a Mexican restaurant. You could enjoy this while skipping the flour tortillas and the corn tortillas and salsa that is usually served. Have a unsweetened drink with your meal instead of a soda pop or alcoholic beverage.
  • Be sure to track how many calories a day you consume and do not exceed the amount your body requires. Just as important, you want to ensure you are not under eating.
    1. If you find yourself going over on one day, simply eat lighter the next day and do not stress over it. One day is not going to derail your weight loss, especially if you are eating healthy, whole foods only. You can do an average of your daily caloric intake for the week, and if your average does not exceed what it would be if your calories were spot on each day, there is no need for worry about weight gain.
    2. If you have an exercise regimen, you will especially want to track your caloric intake in order to ensure you are consuming enough calories to fuel your physical activities. Too large a caloric deficit will cause you to lose lean muscle mass along with body fat. This will only serve to slow down your metabolism.
  • Be sure during your weight loss mode to eat a diet that is high in protein and lower in carbs, Do not skip out on healthy fats either as they are essential for good health and proper absorption of nutrients from the foods you eat.
    1. A diet that is higher in protein and which includes healthy fats will keep you satiated between meals far better than a diet that is higher in carbohydrates than protein.
    2. During your weight loss, try to consume no less than 35% and up to 50% of your calories from a variety of protein sources. Meats, seafood, dairy, eggs and even protein shakes that do not contain sugar. Once you are maintaining your weight, try to eat at least 35% of your calories from protein sources. Track your macro-nutrients!
    3. If you have a vigorous exercise regimen such as strength training and or running, be sure to eat from .8 grams to 1 gram per pound of body weight if you are female. And 1 gram to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight if you are male. Protein is a must in order to maintain, build and repair your lean muscle tissue which gets broken down during vigorous exercise.
  • Be accountable to yourself! Besides tracking your calories and macro-nutrients, weigh yourself no more than once per week, and aim for only a 1 pound per week weight loss, and no more than 2 pounds per week.
    1. Be consistent in your weigh in. Do it on the same day each week, at the same time of day and in the same clothing or lack thereof. We recommend weighing yourself before you even get dressed, and before you have anything to eat and drink.

Common Sense Approach!

David’s Way to Health and Fitness is about living a healthy lifestyle over living on a diet. We believe it keeping it simple, thereby reducing the level of stress which can come when on a weight loss mindset. What we advocate is nothing new under the sun, this lifestyle is just how life used to be lived before the epidemic of rampant obesity in America. It is about personal responsibility and accountability to self and loved ones as your health will always become a burden on others should you allow it to. Someone will always have to pick up the broken pieces behind you should you live a unhealthy lifestyle. Do not allow yourself to become a burden to your loved ones simply because of a lack of dietary control or discipline. You are better than this, and your loved ones deserve better.

Eating for a Healthy Brain

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Living Longer!

In the United States in 2020, the life expectancy is 78.93 years, which is a 0.08% increase from 2019. (1) I am an advocate for aging well. Advancing age is not a reason for poor health or cognitive decline. At 64, I am a full-time Charge Nurse, mother of an adult autistic son, a writer here at David’s Way and an avid, passionate heavy weight trainer. I do not have time for either physical or mental malady and actively pursue excellence in health in every area. I have heard the expression, “Divine Health” and I am in hot pursuit of just that. Nutrition is the foundation for a high functioning life in all areas. Although I work out with ardor, unless my nutrition is on spot, I will not accomplish my goals. Not only are abs made in the kitchen, for the most part, so is your brain.

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Fuel Up!

While you should not eat more than your calorie allowance as recommended by your doctor, or the Calorie Counter Pro we need to eat enough whole foods to support our neurological system. I remember when my grandfather was living, throughout my life he severely restricted his nutrition. He would only eat a few foods. They were good choices but they were not adequate. He developed dementia in his 80’s and became mentally unstable. It was not Alzheimer’s Disease. There is good evidence that poor nutrition can negatively impact your brain health. (2) Think about how your car runs on good fuel and how it runs on bad fuel. In order to have a smooth running brain that can take us where we want to go, we must fuel accordingly. We must eat enough of the right foods to have optimum brain health into our old age.

wp-15990944101913191947178736669630.pngBrain Food

The best dietary approach to fuel your brain is multi-faceted. Choose whole, healthy foods from different food groups. Avoid sugar and processed foods.

  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, collards and broccoli are rich in vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta carotene and may help slow cognitive decline.
  • Fatty fish are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are believed to decrease beta-amyloid plaques that form damaging clumps in Alzheimer’s Disease. Try to eat fish at least twice per week. Salmon is an excellent choice. If you don’t like fish you might ask your doctor for an omega-3 supplement or choose flaxseeds, avocado and walnuts for your healthy fat.
  • Berries help improve memory and have been observed to delay memory decline by as much as 2 1/2 years.
  • Tea and coffee are credited with the ability to solidify new memories because of their caffeine content. The caffeine gives a quick burst of energy but also plays a larger part in memory retention.
  • Walnuts are a good source of protein and healthy fats. They contain a specific healthy fat known as alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) which can lower the blood pressure and protect arteries which is good for the heart and the brain.
  • Turmeric contains curcumin which has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. It is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and may benefit memory in Alzheimer’s patients. It may also help to clear the amyloid plaques that are present in this disease. It boosts serotonin and dopamine and improves mood and has been shown to alleviate depression in about six weeks. Curcumin also helps new brain cells grow and may delay age-related mental decline.
  • Broccoli is rich in vitamin K that is necessary to form sphingolipids, the fat that’s densely packed into brain cells. It may help with memory and inflammation and reduce the destructive free radicals in the body and help protect the brain.
  • Pumpkin Seeds are rich in zinc that is critical in nerve signaling. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions. They contain significant amounts of magnesium which is essential to learning.
  • Oranges are a rich source of vitamin C which helps to defend the brain against free radical damage. You can get your daily allowance of vitamin C in one orange.
  • Eggs are a wonderful source of choline which is very important in proper brain functioning and also positively  impacts mood. Choline is necessary for acetylcholine in the brain which is deficient in Alzheimer’s Disease.

While these foods are great for memory and helping to protect the brain against cognitive decline, they also help to improve mood. Begin to be pro-active where your brain health is concerned and reap the rewards. Move into your senior years with excitement and anticipation of great things to come and always do your part to be the very best that you can be. With good brain health, you can truly live your entire life to your maximum potential. Clear your cabinets of junk foods, full of empty calories and sugars that cause brain inflammation and get sharper today.

 

 

 

(1) https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/life-expectancy

(2) https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

(3) https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower

Greek Yogurt For a Flat Tummy

I used to hate the taste of yogurt. My mind was made up that there was no way there would ever be any type or flavor I could find that I might enjoy. I could not see myself getting past that yucky tang that comes with the taste of yogurt, that taste of sour milk repulsed me. I foolishly believed all yogurts were made equal, equally yucky that is…

But, I was totally wrong in my belief!

Today, plain, full fat Greek Yogurt is something I eat each and every day. 

About five or six years ago, my youngest daughter Molly told me how much better Greek yogurt tasted than regular yogurt. She talked me into trying Oiko’s brand Key Lime flavored Greek yogurt and I became hooked that day. Except there was one problem…

All key lime flavored Greek yogurts I could ever find were low fat versions, and after a while, I began tasting that tangy sour milk taste coming through. I tried other flavors of Greek yogurts but could not find any that had a flavor I could enjoy, and I was really burnt out on the key lime after about a year of eating it. This was all when I was eating an excessive amount of calories to fuel my power lifting regimen and did not care about sugar content which all the Greek yogurts in my local stores have as an ingredient.

Once I cut sugar entirely out of my diet, there seemed to be nothing I could eat in the way of Greek yogurts anymore. That is until my wonderful co-author Brenda Sue suggested I give plain, full fat Greek yogurt a try. I got to say, at first this sounded horrible to me. I could not see myself eating any plain Greek yogurt, but then she turned me on to several different ways to flavor it my own way, and best of all, do it without any added sugar at all.

Let me tell you, plain, full fat Greek yogurt is a creamy and versatile treat. I use sugar free Crystal Light to flavor it anyway I want. I also use powdered peanut butter, Saigon cinnamon, nuts and seeds to add further dimensions of texture and flavor to it as well. I love this stuff, and eat it every day now.

And best of all, this treat is about as healthy and good for cutting body fat as they come.

Greek yogurt makers add an extra step to their process so that excess water, lactose, and minerals drain out. What’s left is a creamy, rich yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt is a nutrient-packed snack that has many health benefits. A cup of it can help you meet the recommended dietary guideline of three daily servings of dairy products. People who have lactose intolerance may also find Greek yogurt easier to digest because of the bacterial breakdown of the milk’s sugars. An average serving, depending on the brand, can have 12 to 17.3 grams of protein!

Yogurt has a much higher amount of protein than milk.

Your body uses protein to build:

bones

muscles

cartilage

skin

hair

blood

Protein is also one of the three nutrients that provide energy. It also transfers substances, such as oxygen, across cell membranes. Getting the right amount of protein for yourself is important for your immune system, nerves, and fluid balance.

You’ll need more protein to maintain muscle mass as you age. For the average adult , 65 years old or older, the amount of protein needed increases to between 1 and 1.2 grams per kilogram a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. For those who are active in sports or weight training, you will need up to 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight.

Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, especially if you need to avoid meat. If you enjoy chia seeds, add 2 tablespoons of them for a protein and fiber boost. Probiotics keep you regular and happy

Greek yogurt is packed with probiotics.

Many people find that dairy is positively correlated with inflammatory responses or processes, however, that’s not the case not when it comes to Greek yogurt. Research has actually been shown to prove that Greek yogurt that contains probiotic strains of Lactobacillus actually promotes the formation of a desirable anti-inflammatory environment in the blood system. The effects of probiotics may be a consequence of the body working against potentially pathogenic/pro-inflammatory endogenous microbiota in the digestive system. A healthy tummy means a healthy body in a lot more ways than one.

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help boost your immune system and decreases stomach issues, such as diarrhea and pain.

These healthy bacteria normally live in your intestines,  having good microorganisms in your intestines helps keep you healthy. Without a healthy balance of good bacteria from probiotics, too much bad bacteria can build up and cause damage to our immune systems.

And just as stress and emotions can trigger stomach issues, your gut can send signals the other way around, too. One study found that probiotics could also affect the brain,  and that probiotic supplements can reduce an individuals tendency for distress and thoughts about sadness, including thoughts about hurting others or themselves.

Calcium is key to keeping healthy

Another benefit of Greek yogurt is that it’s high in calcium. Calcium is key to building strong muscles and helping your vital organs function. Your body also doesn’t produce calcium on its own. Without enough calcium, children may not grow as tall as possible and adults can be at risk for osteoporosis.

A serving of Greek yogurt has 18.7 percent of your daily value for calcium.

Greek yogurt is an excellent option for older adults who want to maintain their bone health. It’s also ideal because it’s convenient and easy to eat, especially for those who have trouble chewing.

Greek yogurt is a great source of  vitamin B-12

Your body needs vitamin B-12 for red blood cells to form, brain functions, and DNA synthesis. Many might choose to supplement vitamin B-12 into their diet, but Greek yogurt offers a powerful, natural alternative. One serving of Greek yogurt can have up to 21.3 percent of your daily value. People who are vegetarian usually lack vitamin B-12 because the vitamin is naturally found in animal products, such as fish, meat, and eggs. Greek yogurt is an excellent, meat-free way to add more to your diet.

Potassium balances out sodium

One serving of Greek yogurt can have up to 6.8 percent of your daily potassium intake value.

Potassium helps lower blood pressure and balance out the sodium levels in your body. If you have high sodium levels or a diet high in sodium, you may want to eat foods high in potassium so that your body can pass the excess sodium when you go to the bathroom.

Keeping your waist in check

Greek yogurt is also an excellent source of iodine. Your body doesn’t naturally make iodine, so it’s important to get enough through the foods you eat. Iodine is important for proper thyroid function, and the thyroid is essential for healthy metabolism.

People today tend to be iodine deficient, which can cause serious problems, including rapid fluctuations in weight. For people with weight problems, increasing iodine levels in their diet increases the thyroid’s activity and, in turn, increases their metabolism promoting weight loss.

Another major benefit of Greek yogurt is the fact that it’s easy to prepare and relatively portable. It’s one of the fastest ways to add more protein to your diet without having to spend hours preparing and cooking protein dishes. Adding a few servings of Greek yogurt to your smoothies instantly gives them a huge protein boost. There are probably thousands of smoothie recipes that utilize Greek yogurt and most of them take just minutes to prepare, making Greek yogurt one of the best weight loss foods in terms of convenience. That makes a major difference because a lot of packaged foods and processed foods become popular because they are simply convenient. If you can come up with several recipes that are easy to make and don’t take a lot of time to prepare then you’ll be less likely to want to snack on junk foods between meals.

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.”