Fitness Trackers, Fitbit or No Fitbit?

I get asked fairly often do I think Fitbits and other fitness trackers are worth the money. These questions come almost exclusively from folks who are new to physical fitness. Maybe they have begun a new exercise regimen. Or, they may still be in the contemplation stage, trying to gather all the information they need for success. I have mixed emotions about if I think Fitbits are worth the money for anyone and will get into that.  But first, I will address what a Fitbit is and how  they are utilized by fitness enthusiasts.

What is a Fitbit?

Fitbit is a brand name for what is essentially a glorified pedometer. You can find many of these  on the market available from different manufacturers. These devices when combined with apps work together to deliver a complete, connected and fun experience that’s available at any time. With these fitness trackers, you can track your activity, exercise, food, weight, sleep, heart rate and more for real-time information, day and night. That is pretty handy to say the least. The question is, are these devices accurate with their data? Common sense would say that accuracy is going to all depend on the quality of your tracker.

What you will find is they are usually pretty good for counting steps, but when it comes to distance, some are more accurate than others. You could believe you are walking or jogging, lets say three miles by your fitness tracker data, and then discover that you are actually only doing two and a half miles. Conversely, you could find yourself going even farther than your target of three miles.

Another issue with fitness trackers comes from tracking you caloric burn. Some are going to be fairly accurate while others are wildly off. If you are one who likes to eat extra calories based on the calories your fitness tracker said you burned, you could very easily find yourself not losing weight. In fact, if your caloric burn is not accurately reflected, you could even find yourself gaining weight if you eat the extra calories.

If you are in weight loss mode, you really need to know exactly how many calories a day you need to consume in order to lose body fat and really consider going easy on consuming more based on what you believe you may have burned extra through exercise. It is my observation that many people will underestimate the amount of calories they eat, and greatly over rate the amount of calories they believe they have burned each day.

The bottom line is, based on your gender, age, weight, and activity level, you require a certain amount of calories each day in order to maintain your weight. If you desire to lose one pound per week, you need to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day, or 3500 calories per week in order to achieve that amount of weight loss. Your fitness tracker can hurt your weight loss effort if the data it gives you is not accurate.

A lot of today’s fitness trackers will monitor your heart rate, which is good if, once again, if the data is accurate. They are usually most accurate when you are at rest, and lose accuracy once your heart rate elevates during exercise. While there may be a legitimate benefit to monitoring your heart rate with a fitness device, know that this data is not accurate enough for medical purposes.

These devices are probably good enough to inform the user of general trends in their heart rate, but it is important to have more accurate information when physicians are relying on this data to make decisions on medications or other tests and treatments. Also, where this applies to you, the end user, is if you have or had heart problems, bad data can give you a false sense of confidence in your physical capabilities. You could believe your heart is healthier than it may actually be. A released study by the American College of Cardiology showed these devices can be off by up to 34 beats per minute. All this being said, I do not believe that any of the manufactures market their products as a medical device.

The prices of fitness trackers range from as low as $25 to upwards of a couple hundred dollars. Are they worth the money? Well, that is all dependent on the quality of the device you purchase and it’s accuracy. Just my humble opinion, but if a device is not accurate, then it is not worth a penny in my book. But, you might find them to be really useful for your purposes. Their value is entirely subjective to the individual wearing it and what they hope to achieve by using the data they collect from their device. My advice to anyone considering buying a fitness tracker whom may also be tight on funds is to ask yourself a few questions;

  1. Have I been at an exercise regimen long enough to know that I am in it for the long haul and will not quit when the going gets tough?
  2. What do I hope to achieve by using a fitness tracker?
  3. How useful is the information really going to be for me? Is the data going to help me run farther and faster. Is it going to be the holy grail that gets me into good physical condition?
  4. Instead of a fitness tracker, would I be better off spending that money on a good pair of shoes? This question really is pretty important to consider as a cheap pair of shoes can derail you from your efforts before you truly even get started. If you are heavy, then a cheap pair of shoes is going to be your worse enemy as proper arch support and cushion is a prerequisite towards becoming a runner. Poor arch support can lead to Plantar Fasciitis. This condition comes from the numerous complex tissues, muscles and bones that can become damaged quite easily if your feet are not properly protected when you run. The foot has a thick, fibrous band of tissue called the fascia that reaches from the heel to the toes and provides support to the muscles and arch of the foot. When this tissue becomes overly stretched, tiny tears can occur on the surface, resulting in pain and severe discomfort. Trust me, if you do not care for your feet, that fitness tracker is not gong to do a thing for you while you are recuperating.
  5. Another issue to consider when deciding on a fitness tracker over a quality pair of shoes is a fitness tracker will no more prevent you from getting Shin Splints than it will Plantar Fasciitis. Shin Splints are also referred to as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. The cause is stress on your shinbone and the connective tissues that attach the muscles to your bones. They get inflamed and very painful. Shin Splints can happen from flat feet, or over pronation, when the impact of a step makes your foot’s arch collapse. They can be cause by shoes that do not fit well or provide good support and by weak ankles, hips or core muscles. Another preventive measure is to ensure you warm up before and cool down after exercise. Know that your fitness tracker does nothing to help this. It will give you no warning that your legs or feet are about to be in terrible pain. You are better off in having good shoes over any fitness tracker on the market.

But, I really like to know my heart rate when running in order to get maximum fat burning benefits….

Note:

Always be sure that your doctor has cleared you before beginning any new exercise regimen.

Heart rate training can benefit almost everyone who exercises. The key is to exercise at a rate where you elevate your heart rate into the optimum training zone. You really do not need a fitness tracker. Here are seven easy steps that will help you to calculate your ideal heart rate training zone.

  1. Calculate your maximum heart rate with a simple paper and pencil calculation. Simply subtract your age from 220. This result is an age predicted maximum beats per minute. Note, this method does not take in account your fitness level or inherited genes. This can make your true maximum rate 10 to 20 beats higher or lower than the age predicted number. Your best heart rate can actually be detected by our ability to speak during a run or jog. If you can barely, or not speak, your heart rate is too high. Slow yourself down. If you can speak easy, your heart rate is too low. Step up your pace until you can have a labored conversation.
  2. Determine your resting heart rate. Take your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning. Do this for several days in a row to get consistent readings.
  3. Calculate your heart rate reserve. Subtract your heart’s resting rate from your maximum rate. For example, if you are 40 years old, then subtract that number from 220, your max heart rate is 180 beats per minute. Next, subtract your resting rate or 80 as an example. Your heart rate reserve is 100 beats per minute. This heart rate reserve represents the cushion-heartbeats available for exercise.
  4. Calculate your aerobic training heart rate for fat burning. This fat burning range is between 50 and 75% of your heart rate reserve.
  5. Calculate your aerobic training heart rate for fitness. This range, required to improve aerobic endurance is higher than that needed for fat burning. It ranges between 75 and 85% of your heart rate reserve.
  6. Calculate your aerobic-anaerobic threshold heart rate range. This range represents the upper limits of aerobic exercise. Or, the point just before you push yourself into exhaustive anaerobic work. Exercising at this intensity is usually done to improve athletic performance. It is not recommended for weight loss. The range to get to this point is between 85 and 90% of your heart rate reserve. Know also that operating at this intensity level will not burn body fat. It becomes a carbohydrate (muscle-glycogen) burning exercise.
  7. Calculate your anaerobic training heart rate range. This is an all out effort and represents 90 to 100% of the cushion of your heart rate reserve. The goal here is to go as fast as you can for as long as you can. At this level you are achieving a pure anaerobic, carbohydrate burning, exhaustive, lactic acid producing exercise. This is truly no pain-no gain type training.

Whether you feel the need or not to buy a Fitbit or any other fitness tracker, do so with knowledge. Fitness trackers have their utility for a lot of people. However, do not put off beginning a new exercise program because you do not have one. If your money situation is tight, consider investing in a quality pair of shoes first. Get into a good routine for a few months to where you know if you will stick with it.  Then save your money in order to buy a quality fitness tracker at a later date. Your feet and legs will appreciate this, I guarantee.

Check out our  plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. It is not complicated at all, and is really nothing more than a common sense approach to nutrition. I guarantee that anyone who tries our methodology will lose weight, and then keep it off. Best of all, we charge nothing to anyone to follow our methodology, we are entirely free to all.
We also have a a page on Facebook where you can also follow along with David’s Way to Health and Fitness. Give us a like and a follow if you like what you see!

Should We Eat Exercise Calories?

No, you should not eat your exercise calories is my answer to those who feel the need to ask. I know your fitness app or program might award them to you, but most of you should not eat them. The problem is, these apps and programs which award exercise calories, often have followers who use this as permission to over eat. These same people will lament how they are doing everything right, yet they still cannot lose weight. They will come to the conclusion there is something wrong with them specifically, when the truth is, they are simply still eating too many calories.

It cannot be said enough, weight loss is truly a matter of calories consumed versus calories burned. This is a bitter pill for many people to swallow, but it is the absolute truth. The only caveat to this is if you have a legitimate medical condition. But, even these can most often still be controlled through healthy nutritional habits. Your body is not as unique as you might want to believe it to be my friends.

My fitness app awards me extra calories, why should I not eat them?

Always consult with your physician, he or she, may recommend a specific number of calories for you. You may also look at our Calorie Counter Pro which is always free for an idea of how many calories to eat each day. You also need to accurately track those calories as well. People are quite prone to underestimating how much they eat, and overrating how many calories they have burned. This leads to these folks overeating. Overeating becomes even easier when you allow yourself extra calories for the day. It is not uncommon that people will use their exercise as permission to go out for an ice cream sundae or other treat. The reality is, most of these types will never get over their struggle with healthy weight loss.

Calorie Counters on fitness trackers and apps can be wildly inaccurate.

I actually like fitness trackers and apps to track mileage when I hike. The downside about fitness  trackers and apps is they can be wildly inaccurate when it comes to how many calories we have actually burned throughout the course of our exercise. Even the best of fitness trackers and apps can be off by 27 percent. If your fitness tracker tells you that you burned 600 calories, 27% equals 162 calories either under or over that 600 calories your app said you burned. Now, if you require 1800 calories per day to lose one pound per week, and then add another 438 to 726 calories three to four times per week, can you see the problem? If you have a weight problem, I recommend you do not try to eat exercise calories for weight loss. Most people will sabotage themselves by doing this.

Fitbit or No Fitbit

When you eat the same amount of calories each day, it is easier to track them. You have taken out the guess work of how many can you eat today based on your exercise. I work out as hard as anyone, four days per week, and this is what I do. My daily caloric intake is based on my gender, age, weight, activity level and my goals. My goal right now is to maintain my body fat percentage  exactly where it is now.

Some “Exercise” Equals Diddly Squat!

The calories burned on your exercise machine is not accurate either!

 Studies have shown that calorie counters on cardio machines are overstated. Machines don’t take into account your fitness level or whether you’re leaning on the handle bars or doing something else that makes a workout easier which ultimately impacts calorie burn.

The truth about weight loss.

It does not matter who you are, in order to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn. Weight loss is as simple as this basic truth. When you try to eat your exercise calories, most of you will end up eating too many calories for weight loss. Brenda Sue and I have seen this time after time with people we have counseled, and other interactions with our readers. If you have figured out your caloric needs, and are still not losing weight, you have to adjust them down even further. You are still eating too much for weight loss. It is not uncommon at all that folks will figure their initial caloric needs too high when they first begin. When you plateau with weight loss, it is time to refigure your caloric needs once again. The caloric needs for weight loss or management is going to be different between you at 225 pounds, and you at 175 pounds.

Weight management requires constant vigilance and attention for everyone. It is when we become complacent and do not adjust to our needs that we run into problems in losing weight. The reality is, unless you become a seasoned athlete, you should not consider eating your exercise calories. Your best bet is to figure what you need for each and every day, and then stick to that until you once again need to adjust.

Check out our  plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. It is not complicated at all, and is really nothing more than a common sense approach to nutrition. I guarantee that anyone who tries our methodology will lose weight, and then keep it off. Best of all, we charge nothing to anyone to follow our methodology, we are entirely free to all.
We also have a a page on Facebook where you can also follow along with David’s Way to Health and Fitness. Give us a like and a follow if you like what you see!

Easy Weight Loss

 

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Small Steps

Small steps are the pathway to big goals! Many years ago in nursing school,  I realized that I wanted to lose 80 pounds. Mind you, I didn’t need to lose that much weight but I wanted to be skinny. In contrast, I needed to lose about 50. Eighty pounds or fifty, they were both overwhelming. I decided to focus on losing 5 pounds and discovered the first tenet of easy weight loss, small steps. I knew that I could do that. The pounds began coming off easier than I ever imagined. The power of small steps had changed my life. Unfortunately, I didn’t maintain  that weight loss. I never gave up the foods that I was addicted to, specifically sugar. Since I still craved sugar and it gave me other cravings, the weight that I so meticulously peeled away 5 pounds at a time, came right back on.

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Frequent Weight Loss Success!

When we begin a weight loss program, initially we feel empowered. Shortly afterward when we begin making behavior changes, doubt creeps into our minds. By setting small goals that we can attain more often, we see progress and feel successful sooner. As we begin to feel successful, we build on that momentum more easily. Weight loss becomes our new normal as we conquer each small goal. If you want to lose a large amount of weight, you might set five pound goals along the way like I did. Read this article here for tips to help you get started.

Make Losing Weight Easier – David’s Way to Health and Fitness

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Easy Does It!

When I began living David’s Way I started strength training with heavy weight as a goal. Starting Strength, a program for beginners got me interested in lifting, without demanding more than I was capable of doing. Since I had gotten weak while I was working for a major weight loss company due to all the driving, I started with pretty light weights. If I had tried to lift too much weight early in the program, I would have quickly gotten discouraged. Discouragement can cause many people to quit. The same idea applies to weight loss. Keep it simple. Start small and be proud of every victory! When I add weight, I add small increments. It empowers me when I conquer those new weights!

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Stay Flexible

Be willing to make changes in your goals. Grandiose ideas of what we want to accomplish will make sticking to our program harder. Instagram is a huge influence on a lot of people. If we set a goal of looking like an Instagram model, we may want to abandon the whole idea of weight loss. I read a lot of what the IG models put on their pages and there is a theme that is recurring. The more honest, down-to-earth models frequently write, “Don’t worry about looking like an Instagram model. We don’t look like that either.”

One very famous fitness model has elaborated on the length of time those pictures take to shoot. She talks about the hundreds of images that are destroyed before the perfect image is chosen. This 23 year old girl has had multiple surgeries and advocates the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. If we set our goals based on artificial images, we will get discouraged unless we reconsider the reality of that. It’s necessary to change goals and methods of accomplishing them as we become more knowledgeable about our health and fitness.

The Golden Rule of Weight Loss

Cravings are the main reason that most people give up on weight loss. Hunger is easy to satisfy with good nutrition based on whole foods. Cravings call out for specific flavors and textures and are never satisfied. Added sugar causes cravings because you release insulin to metabolize it. As the insulin does it’s job of lowering your blood sugar, even the slightest bit too low will set off cravings again. While sugar is usually what most people crave, we will crave a wide variety of calorie dense foods until our blood sugar rises enough to offset the insulin.

This cycle repeats itself continually as long as we eat added sugars. Weight loss is almost impossible when we’re lost in this repetitive cycle. The answer to this dilemma is obvious. Don’t eat added sugars. Remember, it’s an addictive white powder that causes inflammation throughout your body. No good can possibly come from eating sugar. Almost every disease known to man begins with inflammation.

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Weight Loss Tactics Simplified

1-Set small goals.

2-Be proud of every small victory.

3-Take your time.

4-Don’t eat sugar.

and ALWAYS remember David’s wise advice when I asked him how long will this take. His answer? “The rest of your life.” Health and fitness are an ongoing process. David also says, “We don’t own our present level of fitness. We’re only paying rent.” As you work towards your health and fitness goals, remember, there is no endpoint. In order to get and remain healthy, you must consistently live a healthy lifestyle. Look at this worthy process as a new life rather than a temporary, self-inflicted torture.

My habits were once as bad as anyone’s. I wore a size 22. Now I live a healthy lifestyle that keeps me working full-time at age 64, in a size 8 at 5’6″. I also care for a special needs family member alone. I train hard four days a week and have worked my way to the Elite level in Strength Standards in my age group for the deadlift by adhering to the simple teachings of David’s Way.

Believe me, you can change.

 

 

 

Fasted Exercise for Weight Loss

Fasted exercise being better for weight loss is a misguided belief. You will find this misguided notion on the plethora of different social media forums for losing weight.

Fasted exercise is not better for weight loss than exercising after you have broken your fast!

In fact, fasted exercise is counterproductive to your efforts at losing weight. Successful weight loss comes from eating fewer calories than you are burning. You need to understand that it does not matter when you eat those calories. Losing weight always has been, and always will be a matter of calories consumed vs calories burned. Fasted exercise is a hack. The problem with hacks are they may show temporary results, but that does not mean the results are going to be effective or long lasting.

Why do people believe fasted exercise is best for weight loss?

The belief is that when you exercise first thing in the morning before eating, you will begin burning fat sooner than otherwise. You will work a little quicker through your glycogen stores before burning fat than you would otherwise. People believe this will cause them to be more effective at working off their body fat. The problem is, fasted exercise will only make you weak earlier in your exercise session than you would be if you had eaten first. It is undeniable that you will be more effective at burning fat if you are well nourished. Being well nourished will allow you to perform at a higher intensity for a longer amount of time than if you are fasted. I will guarantee you have never seen an athlete competing on an empty stomach for this very reason.

Fasted exercise worked well for me!

You also realized gains in performance too, right?

There is a reason that despite performing fasted exercise you saw gains in your performance. The increase in your performance are what is referred to as “Newbie” gains. Everyone who is new to exercise of any type will see an increase in their ability to get through their session with greater ease. This does not mean that those gains are as good as they could be otherwise. It also does not mean those newfound gains are going to be as sustainable over the course of time either. The result of fasted exercise for the beginner is you will plateau sooner than you would have. Your weight loss from exercise will always be more effective when you can increase your duration and intensity. Fasted exercise will not allow you to do this as long as fed exercise.

It is true that fasted training increases fat oxidation, but this doesn’t translate to increased (body) fat loss.

This is where a lot of the confusion stems from, so let’s understand what fat oxidation actually is.

Fat oxidation is just a fancy word for ‘fat burning’ and consists of two steps:

    • Lipolysis: This is when stored fat is broken down into fatty acids.
    • Oxidation:  Is when your body uses these fatty acids for energy.

Your body is constantly storing and oxidizing (burning) fat throughout the day. When you wake up in the morning, skip breakfast, and go to work, your body is oxidizing stored fat for energy. Once you eat lunch, your body stops oxidizing stored fat and now uses calories from your lunch as energy. You will be back in a fasted state once your lunch has been digested, therefore your body will begin oxidizing fat stores once again until you eat supper and the cycle repeats until breakfast.

Our body’s ability to do this is why we don’t end up incapacitated half-way through the day if we haven’t eaten for a while. Because of this fact, people assume if they train fasted they’ll burn more fat by forcing the body to use its own stored energy. The problem with this idea is that short-term fat oxidation (burning) doesn’t mean much for fat loss. It is the long term balance over days and weeks that will dictate whether you’re losing or gaining body fat.

If the amount of fat you burn stays the same as the amount of fat you store, body fat remains the same. You have to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight even if you do fasted exercise!

What’s The Difference in Burning Calories and Fat?

Morning exercise can be a consistent and positive way to start the day.

It does have many benefits such as eliminating excuses for skipping your workout later in the day and improving your mood and energy by getting endorphins circulating throughout your body. But it’s not necessarily the best time of day to exercise. Morning exercise is not superior to evening exercise when it comes to weight loss. Losing weight always comes down to burning more calories than you consume.

 While there is some evidence that fasted exercise may contribute to burning stubborn fat. The truth is, 98% of you don’t have a stubborn fat problem. You just have a fat problem. Instead of worrying about fancy protocols and weight loss hacks, get your diet and exercise in check and focus on reducing total body fat.

Check out our  plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. It is not complicated at all, and is really nothing more than a common sense approach to nutrition. I guarantee that anyone who tries our methodology will lose weight, and then keep it off. Best of all, we charge nothing to anyone to follow our methodology, we are entirely free to all.
We also have a a page on Facebook where you can also follow along with David’s Way to Health and Fitness. Give us a like and a follow if you like what you see!

Lose 25 Pounds Before Summer!

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You Have Time!

You can lose 25 pounds before summer! The first day of summer is June 20. That’s 16 weeks and 3 days. If you lose 1.5 pounds per week, you will lose about 25 pounds. How would you like to go on your summer vacation weighing less than you do now?

What Will 25 Pounds Do?

In most cases, 15-25 pounds is where people begin to notice that you have lost weight. The positive reinforcement from those compliments will keep you motivated. Then you can use that motivation to push yourself farther. You might need to lose more, or you might just need to start exercising. Your self-esteem will improve, which will make you more social. A summer filled with shorts, swimsuits and parties is almost always more fun! Most people will have improvements in their digestive health, joint pain, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, sleep and energy. Read the article at the link below for tips to safely navigate summer parties.

How to Navigate Summer Parties – David’s Way to Health and Fitness

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Food for Thought

We tell you frequently, there is no “secret” to losing pounds. Take in fewer calories than you burn. That’s how to lose weight. There are some tactics that may help you change your behaviors and keep you going to your goal.

Analyze Your Diet to Drop Pounds

Tracking your food intake is mandatory for good health and weight loss. Estimating portions never works for very long. Since serving sizes tend to be too big, we tend to over-estimate. Weigh and measure every bite that you eat. Weighing is more accurate. Read David’s article, Counting Calories Does Not Work for good advice concerning calorie counting. If you weigh your food, sometimes you will get more than if you measure. However, measuring in spoons and cups can cause you to eat more because you can pack them. The pounds will come off much slower if you measure and pack the utensils.

Take note of the foods that you eat that are high in calories but provide little nutrition. I discovered that on the days that I got hungry after I had eaten all my calories, I had eaten simple carbohydrates with little protein or fiber. The simple carbs degraded to sugar in my system quickly and caused an insulin release which triggered hunger. When you first begin analyzing your food, notice what satisfies you and what lets you get hungry too soon. You will notice the pounds begin to drop pretty soon after you correct these details.

Look at the Calorie Counter Pro to get an idea about how many calories you need to eat to lose 1-2 pounds per week. We strongly recommend losing only 1 pound per week. It’s easier and you are more likely to stick with the program and you have longer to adjust to your new body. ALWAYS consult your medical doctor before beginning ANY weight loss program or exercise.

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Build New Habits to Lose Pounds

Exercise will help you to lose. Don’t make the mistake of eating the calories that you burn exercising. If you eat them, the exercise won’t help you nearly as much. You will still build muscle and muscle will increase your metabolism but that is a long-term tactic. Eating the calories that you burn will slow your progress.

Plan your meals, weekends and all special occasions. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Remove sugar from your home. Don’t buy junk food on the premise that it’s for someone else. They don’t need it either. Eat plenty of fiber from vegetables and some fruit. Don’t drink your calories except in a no sugar added protein shake. Liquids, especially sugary liquids will not satisfy you and the sugary liquids will make you hungrier.

Remember, every day will not be perfect. Managing your weight is a lifetime endeavor, not a quick fix. In a lifetime, you will have good days and bad days. It’s what you do most of the time that matters. Strive for excellence every day, but don’t let one chaotic day be an excuse to go back to bad habits. As David told me when I asked him, “How long will it take?”, he answered, “The rest of your life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nuts and Seeds, Natures Bounty!

Nuts and seeds are truly one of natures bounties. These delicious little morsels are packed full of good nutrients which make them the perfect snack. They are full of protein, fiber and healthy fats from which we derive great benefit. Did I also mention how delicious they are?

What are nuts and seeds?

A nut is a simple dry fruit consisting of one or two edible kernels inside a hard shell. Examples include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Although peanuts are legumes, they are considered nuts due to their similar characteristics to tree nuts.

The nutrient profiles of seeds are very similar to those of nuts. Commonly consumed seeds include pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, psyllium seeds and chia seeds.

Overall, nuts have very similar macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate and fat) profiles, but different types of nuts may have slightly different micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) content.  The benefits derived from eating nuts and seeds are:

  • high in monounsaturated fats (most nut types) and polyunsaturated fats (mainly walnuts)
  • low in saturated fats
  • good sources of dietary protein, hence a good alternative to animal proteins. Some nuts are also high in the amino acid arginine, which keeps blood vessels healthy
  • free of dietary cholesterol
  • high in dietary fiber
  • rich in phytochemicals that act as antioxidants
  • rich in vitamins E, B6, niacin and folate; and they provide minerals such as magnesium, zinc, plant iron, calcium, copper, selenium, phosphorus and potassium.

Like nuts, most seeds are rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber, minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, plant iron and zinc, and contain vitamins B1,B2, B3 and vitamin E. Oily seeds also contain antioxidants that stop the fats from going rancid too quickly.

 The unique nutrient profiles of nuts and seeds provide several health benefits, including:

Helping with weight regulation.
Reducing risk for heart disease.
Reducing risk for diabetes.

Sprinkle nuts or seeds into salads, sauces, vegetables, or whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa. Make a cashew or pine nut pesto. Add nuts or seeds to hot cereal or yogurt. Put nuts and seeds in a stir-fry. Or include some nut flour in baking recipes

Research has shown that regular nut consumption as part of a healthy diet does not promote weight gain, and can protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes . However, you can overdo it when it comes to nut and seeds consumption. If you eat more than one or two handfuls of nuts per day, you could add too many extra calories. Think in terms of small portions. Have a handful of nuts or seeds for a snack. Or add a few nuts and seeds to meals throughout the day.

 Let your imagination flow free in how you incorporate nuts into your diet!

Fruit, Nut and Seed Protein Bars

Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat?

The type of nuts you choose to eat doesn’t matter much. Nuts are generally a quite healthy food source, though some may have more heart-healthy nutrients than others. For example, walnuts contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans also appear to be quite heart healthy.

Remember, you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar or salt.

Are peanuts actually a nut?

Peanuts are not actually nuts, they are a legume with many of the same characteristics of nuts. They are an excellent snack too, but you must pay attention to the brand and type you consume. For instance, Planters Dry Roast are not actually a good choice. Dry-roasted peanuts are often spiked with salt, sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin. That’s not what you thought you were signing up for when you bought that container, was it? What’s more, an ounce of plain peanuts is practically sodium-free, while these nuts are anything but. Though the amount of salt per ounce may not seem too high, few people wind up sticking to a single serving, so you’re apt to take in two or three times the amount listed on the nutrition panel.

Check out our our plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. It is not complicated at all and is really nothing more than a common sense approach to nutrition. I guarantee that anyone who tries our methodology will lose weight, and then keep it off. Best of all, we charge nothing to anyone to follow our methodology, we are entirely free to all.
We also have a a page on Facebook where you can also follow along with David’s Way to Health and Fitness. Give us a like and a follow if you like what you see!

The Benefits of Berries

 

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Nature’s Candy

The benefits of berries are extensive. Berries offer super nutrition disguised as nature’s candy.  I  watched the blackberry bushes when I was a child with great anticipation. I braved rattlesnakes and wasps to pick those berries! The sun would be hot but my mom’s kitchen was cool as I proudly deposited my treasure onto the kitchen table. However, the sweet juiciness of those berries was only a small part of their appeal.

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Fiber Rich

Berries are an excellent source of fiber, including soluble fiber. Since soluble fiber slows food down as it passes through your digestive tract, you stay full longer. One study indicated that doubling your fiber may result in eating about 130 calories less per day. (1) This could result in losing about a pound every month.

Low carbohydrates are one of the benefits of berries. Net carbs are the grams of carbohydrates in a food minus the fiber that it contains. Since the Net Carbs are the only carbs that are digested, they are the carbs we count. Blueberries contain 14.5 grams of carbs and 2.4 of fiber or 12.1 grams of Net Carbs per 100 grams. Strawberries have 7.7 grams of carbs with 2 grams of fiber or 5.7 grams of Net Carbs. Blackberries are higher in fiber at 5.3 grams and have 4.9 grams of Net Carbs. The fiber king is raspberries, having 6.5 grams and only 5.4 grams of Net Carbs. Because berries are sweet and satisfying they are a natural dessert alternative with very low Net Carbs.

 Benefits of Berries Include Taste!

Berries can make even plain food special. I love to add partially thawed, frozen berries to plain, full-fat Greek yogurt. I add Splenda to taste and I have a rich, decadent dessert. Fresh blackberries on top of oatmeal and sprinkled with Splenda make a filling, sweet breakfast. Cottage cheese can be bland. Add blueberries and your 0 calorie sweetener of choice for a nutritious, delightful snack. Berries pair very well with many good protein sources. Read David’s article Pragmatic View On Protein for guidelines on protein.

Various Benefits of Berries

There is evidence that berries may help improve blood sugar levels when they are eaten with high carbohydrate foods that usually raise blood sugar. Since the fiber in berries slows absorption of the carbs, blood sugar is more stable. Berries are also rich in antioxidants which may help protect you from free radical damage and improve the appearance of your skin. They are highly nutritious with a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Berries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Since inflammation is the beginning of most diseases, including most cancers, berries could replace the apple in “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Now that’s good medicine!

Cancer and Nutrition

(1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-reasons-to-eat-berries

Counting Calories Does Not Work

There is a humongous line of thought among many dieters that counting calories does not work.  If you have bought into this line of thinking, maybe you just do not know how to count calories. It is quite possible that you have not considered all that is involved in this little task. There is a little more to counting calories than meets the eye which you may not be aware of. Counting calories absolutely works for weight loss, but it needs to be done correctly. As with any math, if there is something missing from the equation, your answer will always be wrong.

You cannot change the laws of thermodynamics. Losing weight is, and always will be, a matter of consuming fewer calories than you burn. This is true for each and everyone of us, with the only exception being for those with possible medical conditions. However, the vast majority of us do not have these medical conditions to blame our weight on. Even if your thyroid is sluggish, the laws of thermodynamics still apply. If you are not counting your calories, you have no way to even begin trying to counter this point. You have to be accountable to yourself when losing weight. Accountability begins with tracking everything that goes into your mouth. Those who do not understand this simple concept are doomed to fail with weight loss every time. When you are serious about weight management, calorie counting is a part of personal accountability you should consider.

Every bite, lick, and taste matters!

If I have managed to get your attention, it is time to address why counting calories may have not worked for you in the past.  Odds are, you did not fully grasp what is necessary when counting calories. This article is meant to help you with this.

Every bite, lick and taste (BLT) counts towards your total caloric consumption. Those BLT’s are not meaningless free calories that you consume when you nibble on the little tidbits through out the day.  You have to consider how many calories you are eating when you taste the foods you prepare for the family. How many calories were in the bite of your child’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich? If you gobbled down a small handful of nuts, you have to understand they are very dense in calories. A small handful of nuts can easily equal 100 calories. If you believe this is too much, then you are doomed to fail at weight loss.

Why counting calories could have failed you in the past.

If you have been one who has counted and tracked calories and still failed at weight loss, there is a valid reason why. The reason is because unfortunately, Nutrition Facts labels are not always factual.  The law governing food labels allows a pretty lax margin of error of up to 20 percent for the stated value versus actual value of nutrients. In reality, that means a 100-calorie pack could, theoretically, contain up to 120 calories and still not be violating the law. What’s more, the FDA has never established a systematic, random label-auditing process. Compliance with the law is expected to be self-enforced by food manufacturers.

Knowing how flawed nutrition labels often are, it’s tempting to just ignore them altogether, but this would be a huge mistake. The best guidance I can offer is to minimize the number of foods in your diet that even have a nutrition label. When you consume more whole, minimally-processed foods you increase the quality of your nutrition and minimize the risk of hidden calories. Choose foods with short, recognizable ingredient lists featuring whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and/or beans that deliver the most nutritional benefits regardless of what the label states.

What you can do.

First, you must understand that even if you have failed with calorie counting in the past, it is still something you should do. Some foods need to be actually weighed instead of measured. Weighing food is more accurate than simply taking a volume measurement because the amount of food you can fit in a measuring cup or spoon varies greatly. This is particularly true for more calorie-dense solid foods like nuts, proteins, starchy vegetables and certain fruits. For example, one cup of cubed avocado has 240 calories. But, how big of a cube are we talking about? If you dice it, chances are there are significantly more calories in that cup.

 Brown sugar is another good example. One cup of loose brown sugar contains 551 calories. Pack it tightly, though, and that same cup has a whopping 836 calories, enough to impede your weight-loss goals. Measuring cups and spoons are not accurate measurements for calories with some foods such as cereals, grains and other loose food ingredients. Food scales on the other hand do not lie to us. They are always accurate for counting calories.

If you are one who believes that you can just estimate your measurements, just stop with this nonsense if you are serious about weight loss. We all tend to underestimate how much we eat, and overestimate the calories we burn from exercise. You are no different from anyone else in this regard. If you are content to half-ass one aspect of your diet, where does it stop? Does it really stop with that one thing?  Often, that kind of attitude can bleed into other aspects of our lives. It may even compound over time. Then before we know it, we may find ourselves making excuses for putting lackluster effort into many other things. The next thing we know, we sit and scratch our heads, wondering why we’re not making progress.

Counting calories does work when done accurately.

If you have failed with this, then you need to learn how to count calories accurately if you are serious about weight loss. Perhaps you are counting your calories and still not losing weight, this simply means you are still eating too much. You have overestimated the total calories you need in a day and need to reduce your intake. The best way to do this is to eat more nutritionally dense, low calorie foods. Instead of eating a pint of Halo Top ice cream that contains about 320 calories, try having a cup of plain Greek yogurt flavored with fresh fruit or a sugar free, flavored mix in of your choice. The difference in calories will be about 100 calories in your favor with the Greek yogurt.

Mindless eating is what gets us overweight in the first place. Losing weight and then successfully keeping it off is just the opposite, we have to eat mindfully. Anything else will only result in failure and weight gain. This is true for all of us, because contrary to popular belief, none of us are special snowflakes in this regard. Our bodies are wonderful creations, where every component has a special purpose. There are some who unfortunately are born with defects, but when it comes to our weight and health, most of it is self inflicted through bad habits. If we are to remain healthy into our senior years, we must be accountable to ourselves. The consequences of a lack of personal accountability are we become overweight and unhealthy.

Check out our our plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. It is not complicated at all and is really nothing more than a common sense approach to nutrition. I guarantee that anyone who tries our methodology will lose weight, and then keep it off. Best of all, we charge nothing to anyone to follow our methodology, we are entirely free to all.
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Eat Your Vegetables!

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POWERHOUSE

Eat vegetables for robust health. We have always been told to eat our vegetables because they are good for us. Since the benefits of vegetables are profound, they are truly nature’s medicine cabinet. Eating vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering blood pressure, possibly prevent some cancers, improve eye health, reduce digestive problems and help to regulate blood sugar and thereby help to keep blood sugar in check. (1) I don’t know of any other food group that can makes such extravagant claims. You can read about the benefits of fruit here .

Eat Vegetables for Variety

Many people have one or two vegetables that they like. Peas and carrots are staples in many diets. Corn is a favorite food of many people but corn is not a vegetable! Corn is a grain. Green peas contain only 62 calories and 7 Net Grams of carbohydrates per half cup serving. Peas are a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin K. Carrots contain 41 calories and 6.8 Net Grams of carbohydrates per 2 medium carrots. Carrots also contain large amounts of vitamin A and several B vitamins. Both of these vegetables are highly nutritious but the more vegetables that you add to your diet, the better. Eat vegetables of all kinds to cover your nutritional bases.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and rutabagas are all members of this family. Because they contain sulforaphane which has been noted to reduce the size and number of breast cancer cells, they are considered medicinal by some people. They are recognized as a powerful weapon in the war against cancer.  Red cabbage contains anthocyanins which have vast health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties and improvements in blood cholesterol levels.

Allium Vegetables

Garlic, leeks and yellow and green onions are members of the allium family. The alliums are considered to be  powerful cancer fighters by decreasing inflammation. Inflammation is the beginning of almost all disease. Allium veggies add much more than flavor to your meals. Eat vegetables for flavor and nutrition.

Eat Vegetables Super Foods

Asparagus, sweet potatoes, collards and turnips all provide unique benefits including folate, beta-carotene, calcium and Vitamin C. You may notice that all of these different vegetables have their own super nutrition profile.

The key to getting good nutrition from vegetables is to eat a variety. They even enhance your skin by protecting it from cellular damage which can cause wrinkling and age spots. Now if nothing else gives you incentive to eat your veggies, think about that.

(1) Vegetables and Fruits | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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Eat Your Fruit! But Be Smart About It

“Eat your fruit each day” should be a common sense statement when we care about our nutrition when losing weight. Yet, dieters can really make a mess of this. The inspiration for this article is  questions we have received about weight loss stalls despite fruit being added to the diet. You would think adding fruit to your diet is simple common sense, but some can really mess this up.

Fruit Benefits

There is no doubt, fruit is an important part of a healthy diet. In fact, diets high in fruit are associated with all sorts of health benefits, including a decreased risk of many diseases. Eating fruit provides us with good vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are rich in vitamin C, potassium and folate, of which many people don’t get enough. Fruits are loaded with antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that can damage cells. Eating a diet high in antioxidants may help slow aging and reduce our risk of disease.

Eating your fruit will help you with weight loss! Because fruits are high in nutrients and low in calories, they are the perfect choice for those trying to lose weight. Fruits are high in water and fiber, which help you feel satiated. Because of this, you can typically eat fruit until you’re satisfied. Apples and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, are among the most filling. And, they will satisfy a craving for sweets. You really should aim to consume two to four servings of fruit each day. Most people do really good with this, but there are some who really mess this up.

How does one mess up when eating fruit?

Dieters will often misconstrue this most basic of practical nutrition by bending the rules to their favor. When a dieter begins expanding the defining premise of a nutritional recommendation, they often derail themselves. They can and will derail themselves, even with fruit!

But “how” are they messing up when we say to “eat your fruit”?

The recommendation to eat your fruit is that you eat whole fruits. Fruits that have been pureed, or juiced are not whole fruits. The pulp and skins of fruit are high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber plays a larger role than just promoting regular bowel movements. When you eat a fruit whole, the dietary fiber in the pulp binds to the natural sugar in the fruit as it travels through your gastrointestinal tract. This binding action makes it take longer for your body to absorb the sugar. As a result, the fruit’s sugar accumulates in your blood at a lower and slower rate if you eat the fruit whole.

    1. Pureed fruit is not nutritionally equivalent to the same fruit left whole. Puree’s are created with ultra-high heat to process fruits, which are then finely strained to remove pulp, stems, and peels from the liquid. That high level of heat kills much of the vitamins and enzymes that give fruits their nutritional value.
    2. When you drink fruit juice, your body uses the sugar as a direct energy source which leads to a spike in blood sugar. When your body senses that you have more sugar than you need, your body quickly releases insulin. This leads to a large amount of the sugar in your blood being converted to fat and glycogen. Because of this, the blood sugar spike leads to a blood sugar dip unless more food is eaten. This internal action will leave you hungry again. Being hungry makes you eat more. In this way, drinking pure fruit juice leads to poorer regulation of blood sugar and increased calorie consumption, when compared to eating whole fruits.

What about canned fruits?

Canned foods can be a nutritious option when fresh foods aren’t available. Salt, sugar, or preservatives are sometimes added to canned foods to improve their flavor, texture, and appearance. Canned fruits are also often packed in syrup which adds far too much sugar to a healthy diet. Other canned fruits are packed in water or natural juices. Again, those juices have no fiber component to slow down the spike in blood sugar when you drink it.

Can a person eat too much fruit?

 The answer is yes you can eat too much fruit, especially if you want to lose weight and eat a balanced diet. All of the food groups are important. If you go overboard on one kind of food  you’ll miss out on the valuable properties of other healthy foods.

No matter what, you cannot change the laws of thermodynamics when it comes to weight loss. If you consume more calories in a day than your body requires, you are not going to lose weight. Some popular weight loss programs allow you to eat as much fruit as you desire. The problem with this lies in many of their clients not being able to lose weight.

Know your Basal Metabolic Rate

Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest. It is also known as your body’s metabolism; therefore, any increase to your metabolic weight, such as exercise, will increase your BMR.

If your basal metabolic rate (BMR) requires that you consume 1800 calories per day to maintain your current weight, that is all you can eat. When you eat more than what your BMR requires, you are going to gain weight, even if those extra calories are from fruit. If you have consumed your daily needs in calories, you need to be done eating for the day. You cannot think that because your diet plan does not count fruit that you can still continue to eat them once you have reached your caloric needs.

Let’s say that you weigh 150 pounds, that you typically eat 2,000 calories per day, and that your goal is to get to that 500-calorie deficit by burning 200 calories through exercise and cutting 300 calories from your diet each day. That makes 1,700 calories your daily limit for what you can consume.

Fruit is about 80–100 calories per serving. A serving is one cup of fresh fruit or a half cup of canned fruit.  If you are eating about 7-1/2 servings of fruit per day, at an average of 90 calories per serving, that’s 630 calories from fruit alone!

Eat your fruit, but eat them whole. Do not assume you can change the laws of thermodynamics. Calories in vs calories burned are critical when it comes to weight loss and weight management.

Here is an excellent article from Brenda Sue why you might have troubles with losing weight.

Three Reasons You’re Not Losing Fat

 

Check out our our plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. It is not complicated at all and is really nothing more than a common sense approach to nutrition. I guarantee that anyone who tries our methodology will lose weight, and then keep it off. Best of all, we charge nothing to anyone to follow our methodology, we are entirely free to all.
We also have a a page on Facebook where you can also follow along with David’s Way to Health and Fitness. Give us a like and a follow if you like what you see!