Jul 30

Why You Should be Eating More Fat (the truth about fat in diets)

For decades, we have been told that fat is bad. We’ve been told to avoid fats like the plague because they’re the downfall to every diet. However, new information is showing that fats can be both beneficial and essential to weight loss.

What is fat?

Fat is an essential nutrient that cannot be dissolved in water. Fat not only contributes energy to our bodies; it also helps us get the maximum benefit of all the other nutrients we consume.

What role does fat play in the body? Why do we need it?

Fat improves our bodies’ function in a wide variety of ways. Fat supplies us with energy. It helps us produce the right amount of testosterone and estrogen. Fat helps our immune system be at its finest. It helps us absorb other nutrients including the FAT soluble vitamins A, D, E, K.

To those who are deeply concerned about weight loss, fat should be your friend, not your enemy. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, eating fat helped participants lose weight even if their daily calorie consumption remained unchanged. On top of that, eating certain fats can boost your metabolism and make you feel fuller for longer.

What are the different types of fat?

Though you should be eating fat, it is of course important to consider where the fat is coming from. The three main categories of fats are saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats.

Saturated fats have their molecules completely surrounded by hydrogen atoms. In the past, they have been considered “bad” fat as they raise LDL cholesterol levels.  However, if we limit saturated fat intake and replace it with carbohydrate there is no improvement in risk for cardiovascular disease.  If we reduce our saturated fat intake and replace it with poly-unsaturated fats there is decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Unsaturated fats are not completely surrounded by hydrogen atoms. They have always been considered the “good” fat. Unsaturated fats can raise HDL cholesterol levels (the “good” kind) and boost your metabolism. Monounsaturated fats have only one hydrogen atom per fat molecule and can boost your metabolism for hours after your last meal. Polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 and omega-6) fats can lower the bad LDL cholesterol levels. They also help the immune system by combating inflammation.

Trans fats don’t occur naturally. They’re made by making vegetable oils more solid by adding hydrogen to them. These are found primarily in highly processed foods and should be avoided. Trans fats both raise LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL cholesterol levels.  More and more food manufacturers are taking these out of the foods we buy since their negative impact on health has been exposed.

How to get the good fats in your diet

It’s important you consider where your fats are coming from. Though fat is good, it’s best to get it from whole foods. Avoid highly processed foods such as sweets and potato chips.

  • For example, a donut and an avocado contain the same amount of fat, but a donut is also high in sugar and very low in nutrients like vitamins and minerals. An avocado is high in monounsaturated fats and provides several vitamins and minerals.
  • Avoiding processed foods will also help you avoid bad trans fats. If you stick to eating organically there is no way for trans fats to sneak into your diet.
  • Consider foods you already eat; our dietary habits easily provide us with enough of certain fats already. For example, omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils that we commonly cook with. Getting enough of it isn’t really an issue. We also get plenty of saturated fats from traditional foods in our culture like milk, cheese, and meat.
  • If you’ve been dieting for awhile you may have been trained to avoid foods that contain beneficial fat. It may help to reintroduce those “bad” foods into your diet. Egg yolks, nuts, oils, avocados, olives are all great  sources of healthy fats.

Good and bad foods with fat

Common sense can help dictate which foods with fat can be a great addition to your diet and which foods will only hurt you. You should always make a point to avoid processed foods. Read the ingredient labels; if you find yourself unable to pronounce most things on the list, you should avoid eating it.

Avocados are a popular choice; they contain 21 grams of highly beneficial fat and no excess chemicals found in packaged snack foods. Milk and yogurt, though they contain saturated fats, will help you burn fat more efficiently.

Avoid fats from foods that contain little to no nutritional value like high fat baked goods like donuts or biscuits.  Instead replace with whole grains that provide fiber and B vitamins.  Always check the label of foods to make sure the fats used are not trans fat.

Conclusion

Fats are highly beneficial to your body, despite years of being told otherwise. They help improve our bodies’ overall functioning, helping out our immune system and nutrient absorption. Fats also help us achieve our weight loss goals; by consuming fat, we both reduce our appetite for prolonged periods of time and give our metabolisms a great boost. You should definitely make fat a part of your diet.

Image Credit: Yersinia pestis

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Jul 07

9 Foods You Shouldn’t Buy When You’re on a BUDGET (how many are in your fridge now?)

When shopping on a budget there are some foods that should be avoided for certain!  Living on a budget always has some give and take, but there are some things that should be more give and less take.  We talk a bit about fun food hacks here.

TV Dinners

These foods are usually high in fat and sodium and expensive.  Feed your family a balanced home cooked meal with rice, chicken, and a vegetable in season and you will save money and provide a healthier meal.

Soda

Soda has little to no nutritional value.  The calories, since in the liquid, form don’t tend to make us feel full.  This then leads us to consume more calories than we need.  It is unnecessary and has negative effect on our health.  Trust me I know it is tasty, but what else do I need to say.

Individually wrapped snack foods

It is much cheaper to buy one large bag of pretzels and bag ourselves then to buy the individually packaged snack food.  Take the time to portion snack foods out yourself and it will definitely help you to shave that grocery spending.

Brand named products

Generic versions of food are often made at the same plant and of the exact same quality as the name brands.  Slight variations in flavor may occur one product to another, but in general generic is a good tasty option.  This is a great money saver.  I make a few exceptions to this rule.  If the generic form is particularly higher in salt, fat, or any other nutrient you are trying to reduce then choose the least expensive product that meets your nutritional demands.

Candy bar

These incredibly tempting treats are impulse buys placed in the checkout line to tempt us into an unnecessary purchase.  They are high in fat and sugar and will not help with weight maintenance.  Impulse buys teach our children to make impulse decisions.  Impulse decisions don’t tend to be what’s best for us in the long run.

Gluten-Free

Unless you have an actual allergy to gluten, gluten free products are unnecessary.  They do not provide any nutritional advantage, and they usually cost more than their gluten-containing counterparts.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat.  It is strong and flexible and allows bread to maintain its integrity while it rises.  This is why breads made with wheat flower are soft and rise well.

Organic produce

Thoroughly washing produce will remove pesticides used during farming.  Produce with a peel that will be removed can be safely eaten.  Produce with small pores like berries may be best organic since it is difficult to clean thoroughly.  Always buy fruit in season to get the best prices.

Gourmet Pet food

If you can’t afford gourmet for you, you certainly shouldn’t be spending extra on a beloved pet.  They may deserve the world in your eyes, but your budget applies to your pets as well as you.  Find a product they will suitably eat that will meet their nutrition needs.  Don’t break the bank in the process.

Prime Rib

There are less expensive and lower fat ways to get protein in your diet.    Steak should not be a staple, but a special occasion.  Prime rib is a particularly expensive cut of meat.  Try a variety of fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and lean cuts of beef.

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Jul 01

4 Tips For a Healthy 4th of July

I couldn’t tell you where the traditions came from, but each year for the 4th of July I find myself watching fireworks and enjoying a BBQ.  A lot of our typical BBQ foods aren’t the healthiest choices, but I have some suggestions that will help you have a healthy 4th of July this year.

  1.  Make a smart meat selection.  The main entre of a BBQ is, of course, the meat.  Choose leaner cuts of meat for an all around healthier meal.  Fish, chicken or turkey breast, lean cuts of beef (less marbling), low fat burgers or hot dogs.
  2. Enjoy some fruit.  So many fruits are on sale and in season this time of year.  Enjoy some fresh watermelon, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries all at least half the price then they are the rest of the year.  Fruit is high in nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and low in calories.  Add more fruit to your BBQ by including a fruit platter with a low fat fruit dip or grilling up some pineapple while cooking your meat.
  3. Veggie time.  Vegetables are high in nutrients like fruit, but lower in calories and sugar.  You can’t go wrong with a great vegetable platter with dip.  Grill up kabobs with steak or chicken and throw on fruit and vegetables: mango, kiwi, pineapple, apple, zucchini, tomato, mushroom, bell pepper, shallots, or anything that sounds good to you.  Grill up some zucchini cut lengthwise and top with garlic powder and mozzarella cheese once cooked.
  4. Have fun enjoying the games, activities, or conversation at your BBQ and don’t fixate on the food.  A lot of social activities seems to revolve around food, but don’t let yourself fall into that pitfall.  Have fun and enjoy the company!

Follow the tips below for healthy grilling suggestions:

  • Adjust your grill so that food cooks evenly inside and out.  If the temperature is too hot the outside may get overcooked before the inside reaches proper temperature.
  • Make sure to use a clean plate for meat once it is cooked.  Don’t allow the juice from the raw meat to come in contact with any read-to-eat foods.
  • Clean your grill between uses to reduce exposure to bacteria and carcinogens.
  • Turn meat over at least once to allow more even cooking.
  • Avoid charring the outside of meats as it can produce carcinogens.  To reduce these substances marinate the meat, pre-cook it before grilling, or scrape off any blackened surfaces.
  • Cook poultry and fish until internal temperatures reaches target: 165F for poultry and ground meat, 145F for pork or fish.
  • Control coals to avoid flame flare-ups: trim obvious fat from meat first, drain high fat marinades, have a spray bottle of water.

However you celebrate the 4th of July make it a fun and healthy holiday.  Enjoy your favorite traditions and maybe start some new ones this year.  Happy grilling!

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May 31

Calories Burned Running Bleachers vs Running

Running Bleachers-Basics  –   Bleacher Workouts  –   Warming Up

How Many Calories Do You Burn Running Bleachers?

Running on bleachers provides an excellent workout and can burn calories quickly and efficiently.  The average person who weighs about 150 pounds will burn about 17 calories per minute of running bleachers.  Below is calories burned by running bleachers and various other activities per minute, the information is based on a 150 pound person.  Actual calories burned will vary based on a few other factors (age, intensity, basic metabolic rate etc. . . )

One good way to track your calories burned during a work out is to use a Heart Rate Monitor.  Calories burned is tied directly to heart rate and workout intensity.  My favorite HR monitor is the Garmin Forerunner 410 GPS my only issue with the watch is that it can be hard to work when sweating intensely but what it does well is track HR, distance, and calories better than any other watch or monitor I have ever used.  You might try a simply Ipod or Iphone or Android app to track distance and calories but these will not be as accurate.

ACTIVITY
CALORIES BURNED PER MINUTE
Bicycling (13mph) 10.8
Jumping Rope 9.4
Running (11 min mile) 10.8
Running (8.5 min mile) 14.1
Running (7 min mile) 15.7
Sprinting 23.3
Swimming (crawl 20 yd/min) 4.9
Swimming (crawl 45 yd/min) 8.8
Tennis (recreation) 7.0
Aerobic Dance 11.4
Basketball (half-court) 4.9
Racquetball 9.9
Rowing Machine 13.8
Soccer 9
Running Bleachers 17
Showing 1 to 15 of 15 entries

It is clear from this information that running bleachers burns a enormous amount of calories.  Monitoring the amount of time you work out and the type of workout you are doing will help you to keep better track of your caloric expenditure.  Knowing this number will aid in making a plan for your intake thus aiding you in being able to achieve the needed daily caloric deficit to lose weight.

The best thing about running bleachers is that not only are you burning an enormous amount of calories while exercising but you are also building muscle at the same time.  Check out this article by personal trainer and Boston Marathoner Tammy Ivie regarding running bleachers.

Jump to:

Running Bleachers-Basics  –   Bleacher Workouts  –   Warming Up

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