Monday, September 19, 2011

7 Diet-Food Rip-offs

Hey fitness peeps! Question: "What if you could lose all the weight you wanted to without having to buy high-priced “health” foods?" To some reading this I may sound impossible to you right? Well, it's not. In fact, I've discovered that I really don't have to deprive myself of anything. How is this done? It's easy! Simple, smart swaps. And here’s another secret you need to know: Many high-priced health foods are more likely to add fat to your body than to strip it away. This is why it helps to beware of health-food ripoffs. We're about to talk about some of the worst offenders in the supermarkets and on restaurant menus, and I'll also give you some simple swaps that will help you strip away the pounds. Let's go!

7 Diet-Food Rip-offs 

1. Worst Hot Cereal:  
Quaker Instant Raisin & Spice (1 packet)
150 calories
2 g fat (0 g unsaturated)
14 g sugars

Sure, it's low in saturated fat and cholesterol, but it's absolutely filled with sugar. One bowl has more sugar than a scoop of Edy's Slow Churned Rocky Road Ice Cream! Your best bet is to stick with Quaker's old-fashioned oats and sweeten it yourself with fruit, but if you're set on the single-serving packets, go with the Lower Sugar variety. It provides just as much fiber with a mere fraction of the sugar.

Eat This Instead:
Quaker Lower Sugar Apples & Cinnamon (1 packet)

110 calories
1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)

6 g sugar

2. Worst Yogurt:  
Yoplait 99% Fat Free Strawberry (1 container, 170 g)
170 calories
1.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
27 g sugars

Just look at the ingredient list to see the true picture. After milk, sugar is the next ingredient. (Quick Nutrition Tip: Ingredient labels always list the ingredients in order of quantity, so in other words, if listed first, that's the ingredient that food has the most of.) Scroll down the list a little and you'll find high-fructose corn syrup, too. So sure it's "99% fat free," but it also has more sugar than an entire Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar. Fage's is plenty sweet, but more of its sugar comes from real fruit. Plus it justifies the sugar with 17 grams of protein—more than 3 times as much as you'll find in Yoplait's yogurt.

Eat This Instead:
Fage 2% Strawberry

130 calories
2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
17 g sugars

3. Worst Reduced-Calorie Ice Cream Novelty: 
Breyers Carb Smart Almond Bar (1 bar)
180 calories
15 g fat (10 g saturated)
5 g sugars

The fact that this bar has only 5 grams of sugar is commendable, but the fact that it contains half your day's saturated-fat limit is not. Instead, look for a treat like Slim a Bear that puts a cap on both sugar and fat. Not only does that protect your heart, but it also diminishes your calorie impact.

Eat This Instead:
Klondike Slim a Bear No Sugar Added Ice Cream Sandwiches (1 sandwich)

100 calories
2 g fat (1 g saturated)
3 g sugars

4. Worst Nutrition Bar: 
PowerBar Energize Berry Blast (1 bar)
210 calories
3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
24 g sugars

Not only does it contain virtually zero fiber, but the first ingredient is evaporated cane juice, otherwise known as sugar. Switch to Kashi's GoLean Crunchy! and you'll earn a touch more protein and a ton more fiber. Plus, you'll drop your sugar load by almost half.

Eat This Instead:
Kashi GoLean Crunchy! Chocolate Caramel (1 bar)

150 calories
3 g fat (2 g saturated)
14 g sugar

5. Worst Wheat Bread: 
Arnold Whole Grains Health Nut (2 slices)
240 calories
4 g fat (0 g saturated)
4 g fiber

Don't blow your calories on the bread; save them for the nutrient-dense stuff you're going to stuff inside. Arnold's Whole Grains Health Nut earns the Worst Bread distinction by being high in calories and carrying a load of refined flour. Make your sandwiches on Nature's Own Double Fiber Wheat instead and you'll eliminate 140 calories and double your fiber intake.

Eat This Instead:
Nature’s Own Double Fiber Wheat (2 slices)
100 calories
1 g fat (0 g saturated)
10 g fiber

6. Worst Smoothie: 
Smoothie King Banana Boat (40 oz)
1,048 calories
24 g fat (12 g saturated)
154 g sugars

Truth be told, you can do A LOT of damage in a smoothie shop. Case in point: Smoothie King's Banana Boat. It sounds healthy enough, but it's made with ice cream and served from a mammoth-size cup. It also packs in more sugar than 8 Twinkies! Make it a rule to never drink out of anything bigger than Smoothie King's 20-ounce cup, and then do yourself a favor by ordering the Youth Fountain.

Eat This Instead:
Smoothie King Youth Fountain (20 oz)
253 calories
0 g fat
54 g sugars

7. Worst Salad: 
T.G.I. Friday's Santa Fe Chopped Salad
1,830 calories
29 g saturated fat
3,450 mg sodium

It's time to shake the belief that as long as it's green, it's healthy. So not true! Sure, leafy vegetables are good for you, but not when they're encumbered by fried tortilla strips and a reckless deluge of ranch dressing. In the 15 minutes it takes you to eat this salad, you'll take in a day-and-a-half's worth of sodium and saturated fat along with nearly a full day's worth of calories! It's just not worth it.

Eat This Instead:
Southwest Wedge Salad
253 calories
0 g fat
54 g sugars

Well that's it! Hopefully you haven't been the victim of any of the "diet-food" ripoffs, but if so, know that you are not alone, and secondly, don't sweat it! Now you know, so now you can do better! It's that simple! 


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Achieving A Higher Metabolism

Hey fitness friends! This is officially my first post of September! Whoo-hoo! The summer is almost over and Fall is about to usher itself in. While I'm grateful for the cooler weather I'm experiencing in my area already, I just want to give a quick P.S.A on not letting the upcoming season get you off track! You see, this is around the time that a lot of people take a hiatus from their workout routine. With the weather getting cooler and a lot of the outdoor activities of Summer soon becoming a thing of the past, moods can change and the get up & go a lot of people had dwindles down. Well, don't give up and don't give in! It's totally possible to stay active all year around. I've done it going on 4 years now and you can too! As you know I'm a big fan of exercise videos, that pretty much keeps me covered–rain, sleet or snow, I'm getting it in! But I understand that's not everyone's cup of tea, and that's where heading to your local gym or having at-home fitness equipment comes in. Also, a lot of outdoor forms of exercise, such as walking, running, and bicycling can continue throughout the Fall season and in some states, even Winter.

Now that I've given my Fall P.SA, let's get to the subject of this post: Achieving A Higher Metabolism. I already know what some of you are thinking, "People either have a high metabolism or they don't, you can't make your metabolism any higher," "I've always had a slow metabolism, there's nothing I can do about, that's just the way it is." WRONG! Save the pity party and get rid of that type of thinking right now! Don't get me wrong, I understand where you're coming from because I used to feel the exact same way. But I (along with countless of others) am living proof that you CAN raise your metabolism! I did it and I'm going to give you some information on how you can too!

What Is A "High Metabolism?"

First off, let's start with the question of "What is a 'high metabolim'?" A high metabolism means that the body is burning calories at a greater rate than average. People with high metabolisms can generally eat more food without gaining additional weight which can sometimes be seen as a perk, but for others who are forced to constantly consume large amounts of food on a daily basis to maintain their weight, a high metabolism might actually feel like a curse. So in other words, having a super high metabolism is not all it's cracked up to be. I always wished for a high metabolism so that I would never have to worry about my weight, but like with all things, you have your advantages and disadvantages.

The Downside Of A High Metabolism
If you have a high metabolism you might notice that you are having trouble keeping on weight. Even though you think you might be consuming plenty of food, if your body is burning it quickly this can result in weight loss. A high metabolism during adolescence might contribute to issues during puberty. Young females that have a high metabolism might struggle to keep on weight. Without enough body fat they might not be able to begin normal menstrual cycles. If you are unable to keep on weight because of a high metabolism you might have a harder time dealing with potential health issues in the future.

The Benefits Of A High Metabolism
As a body with a high metabolism burns food at a much faster rate a person might be able to consume a lot more food without ever putting on addition weight. For some people this is great and they can indulge day after day in their favorite meals.

So now I'm assuming that right about now you're saying, "Okay, I get the advantages and disadvantages, the disadvantages of high metabolism aren't my problem, I wanna' get mine higher!" Well, calm down! The good news is that you can help increase your metabolism in 3 easy steps:

How To Get A High Metabolism in 3 Easy Steps

1. Eat Small and Often - As crazy as it may seem, eating more throughout the day actually helps you gain less! Our metabolism fluctuates during the day with the food that we eat. The farther away we are from our last meal, the slower our metabolism becomes. You can keep your metabolism running at a higher level by eating small meals often rather than big meals far apart. Try to eat 4-6 mini meals and snacks each day. (Personally, I eat 3 small meals and 2 or 3 snacks throughout each day, equaling 5 to 6 meals a day. Who knew eating so much could be to my benefit?)

2. Do weight training - many people who try to lose weight do so by doing a lot of cardiovascular activity. While cardio is essential to losing fat and pounds, incorporating weight training into your workouts is must if you're looking to rev that metabolism up! The reason is that muscle tissue increases your metabolism because muscles require a lot of calories to sustain themselves. The more muscle tissue that you have, the more calories that you burn, even while you're resting or sleeping! (Weight training will also help you look more fit and lean, too–an added bonus!)

3. Eat some metabolic invigorating foods - There are some foods which the body finds difficult to digest and so uses a lot of calories in the digestive process. Eating these foods will help your body to burn more calories naturally. This isn't a constant metabolic boost, but even a temporary one has its benefits. These foods include certain protein rich foods like cod and trout, and some fruit and vegetables like apples, berries, celery, grapes, and cabbage. I personally eat an apple everyday. I never realized that it was actually helping me boost my metabolism! (For a list of more metabolism boosting foods, click here.)

These steps REALLY work! I never thought that I would have a higher metabolism, but now I do! It takes time and patience, just like with weight loss, you can't expect a higher metabolism overnight, but stick with it and you really will see a change!  

And most Importantly… make exercise and healty eating FUN! Experiment frequently with new exercises and recipes, or anything that keeps you interested and adds some spice to your program.  The more variety you can put in your diet and your exercise routine, the more stimulating it will be. That makes it easy to put your best efforts forward, and get a major metabolic return on your investment.