Nutrition

Stop Using These 7 Health Buzzwords

These days there are so many so-called superfoods and labels on packaged foods that it’s hard to know what’s really healthy and what’s hype. Why does a green juice need to have “vegan” on it or a salsa need to say “gluten free,” when both foods are naturally those things?
“On one hand, ‘buzzwords’ definitely work as far as traction and traffic go — they can help get someone to read an article that may be very helpful and informative, and they are what everyone is Googling,” says Keri Glassman, RD, founder of Nutritious Life. “But it’s important to keep in mind that many times a buzzword is just that and you need to read beyond the word.”
This is especially true because not all buzzwords have a standard definition, nor do they mean a certain food is healthy. “One of the things that happens is that they create a health halo around a particular food. We think, ‘Oh, that’s going to be better because it’s a non-GMO gummy bear,” says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, owner of Active Eating Advice. “So then we overlook the fact that it’s still a cookie or a cheese puff, and we consume unnecessary calories and spend more than we normally would.”
Be especially wary of these seven buzzwords dietitians are sick of hearing:

1. NATURAL

While it may seem as though, ‘Duh, who wants to eat something unnatural?’, this term isn’t defined by the FDA, so from a packaged food standpoint, it can really be anything, Glassman says.

2. CLEAN

“Clean means free of what?” Bonci asks. “This is not a term that provides any useful or helpful direction.”

3. SUPERFOOD

We can all admit this term is overused. First it was acai, then it was kale and then quinoa. Now almost anything gets labeled a superfood. “What makes one food more super than another?” says Bonci, noting that different foods are high in different nutrients, plus a lot of the claims about superfoods are just that — claims, not proven scientific facts. “Nobody can only eat acai berries and call it a day,” Bonci says. “And you’re not jeopardizing your health if you’re not eating superfoods.”

4. FAT-FREE

“Research has shown that fat is our friend,” Glassman says. “And it’s well known now that when fat is removed, other ingredients like sugar are added to make up for it.” That added sugar often makes fat-free or low-fat foods have just as many calories as the regular version. Plus, fats help the body absorb many vitamins in addition to keeping you full.

5. -FREE

Bonci goes a step further and says to avoid a label saying a food is “free” of anything. “It doesn’t mean it’s any better, and oftentimes the foods never had that ingredient anyway,” she says. “It’s one thing if you need to watch out for gluten or dairy, but we have transcended that. There’s gluten-free water.”

6. NON-GMO

“Here again, foods that would never have GMO ingredients in the first place get slapped with this label because food companies know many consumers are concerned about GMOs,” Bonci says. There are only eight genetically modified crops commercially available in the US: papaya, sugar beets, corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa and squash. If none of those foods are on the ingredients list, then of course it’s GMO-free.

7. SIMPLY MADE

“Nobody is going to put ‘complicated’ on the label,” Bonci says, adding that “anything in a package had to go through some processing.” That doesn’t make the food any better or worse per se. Plus, “you don’t see ‘simply made’ on an apple, but it grows on a tree from the ground,” Bonci says.

About the Author: Brittany Risher
Brittany is a writer, editor and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. She loves experimenting with new vegan recipes and believes hummus is a food group. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation and scotch.

Fitness, Nutrition

Losing Weight In Your 40’s And Beyond – 4 Tips

News Flash: People who may have maintained their weight easily in their 20s and 30s, start to feel more challenged when they pass the big 4-0. Can I get an AMEN?! We shouldn’t be surprised since we know we’ve begun to lose lean muscle mass and experience far more hormone fluctuations at midlife and beyond. So we ask ourselves:

Am I doomed to that middle-age spare tire and growing bigger in all the wrong places?

The golden rule of weight loss — eat less than you your body burns — is more difficult as you age because your body changes metabolically. The internal furnace simply doesn’t burn as hot as when you were younger. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up – as so many mid-lifers do.

As with any healthy habit, the key to success is consistency and mindfulness. So maybe you’ll need to be more focused and dedicated to your goals than when you were younger. Read on for some tips:

1. CONSIDER YOUR EATING PATTERNS
The good news about getting older is you’ve had time to understand how nutritional changes affect your health. You’ve gained experience about the impact of certain food choices, and now it’s time to put that knowledge to use. As metabolism slows with age, you might not be able to get away with some of the indulgences that your body used to forgive you for.

That doesn’t mean you must starve yourself or jump on the latest fad diet. Rather, it should prompt you to be more conscious about your choices and patterns, including portion sizes, the timing of your meals and snacks, and the choices of the foods you eat.
You are smart enough to know your unhealthy habits regarding food, so this is the time to address them mindfully.

2. ADDRESS PORTION SIZES
It’s no secret our culture works against our plans to maintain a healthy weight. Processed foods and fast food options abound, and our frantic pace of life increases the temptation to shove anything into our mouth NOW. Cooking at home is de-emphasized in favor of convenience, and portion sizes have changed significantly from even a couple decades ago.

Packaged food “serving size” doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how much you should eat. Tracking portion size is super helpful. Consider using the popular Beachbody Portion Fix containers and nutrition guide* to help you see what you should be eating every day. You will be surprised at how full you will feel when you eat the right foods in the proper portions.

3. WATCH CARBS AND CALORIES
Carbs and calories are not all evil. It’s the QUALITY of the carbs and calories that counts. Processed foods are often “empty calories” that offer the double whammy of little sustained energy, and only short term hunger satiation. Resist the temptation to choose pre-packed, processed foods with long ingredients lists on the label. At the same time, you need to eat, so resist the temptation to starve yourself to lose weight. Whole, real food is best.

When you’re older, keep in mind that your metabolism is already slowing down, and starving yourself will only reduce your metabolism. The ‘starvation effect’ means that your body holds onto fat when you don’t eat enough, so your suffering completely backfires.

4. LIFT HEAVY STUFF
Science: As you age, your muscle mass loss causes your resting metabolic rate to decrease, changing your calorie-burning mechanism. In other words, your internal furnace does not run as hot as it used to. That can be even more pronounced by a poor diet, smoking, alcohol use, sedentary behavior and genetics.

Further, as muscle tends to turn to fat when not used, you may also lose balance, coordination and strength. This is why it’s so important to keep active as you age. Don’t be one who retires to the lazy-boy because you are too weak to walk, pedal, travel, play with your grandkids, etc. But the good news is you can increase strength starting today, regardless of your starting point.

Resistance training performed a few times per week can not only help you regain what was lost, but can also increase bone mass, and studies have suggested it might improve sleep, help cardiovascular health, boost your mood and a list of other benefits.

It can be more challenging to lose or maintain weight as you get older. But getting more conscious about what, when and why you’re eating — and adding strength training* to your routine can help you age better.

*For more information about nutrition plans, exercise plans, building healthy habits, etc., reach out to me for personalized advice and resources.

Fitness, Nutrition

Reading Food Labels – Let’s play a game!

Everyone likes games, right? Especially when you are guaranteed to WIN. Let’s play!

Of the two nutrition labels shown, which one would you choose for a snack and why?

label 1

Pause here and think about your answer (LEFT or RIGHT and WHY) before moving on…

Got it? OK, here are some comments from when I played this game on social media:

“Depends on activities but the one on the right has a ton of potassium and fat isn’t bad. If I need carbs I might think differently but I often don’t need as many carbs as a food has. Plus the carbs are from sugar on the left…”

“Probably the one on the right for nutritional completeness (and I have enough fat macros to handle it). However…if I just need quick carbs between workouts, the snack on the left is probably a good option.

“I would pick the one on the right because of the protein and potassium. The other seems like empty calories and too much sugar.”

Does your answer sound like these? Read on…

The product on the left is an apple. I would hope that most of us agree that this is a healthy food, or can be a part of a healthy lifestyle.

The product on the right is a snack-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. 1 cup size. Half a normal package. I would hope that most of would agree that this would fall into the “treat” category in a healthy lifestyle, and not something to eat on a regular basis (if one is trying to be healthy overall.)

labels final

I’m not bashing anyone’s answers or anyone’s personal choices. I just wanted to point out that it’s hard to tell if something is “healthy” by just reading the NUTRITION FACTS. The INGREDIENTS LIST is the most important piece of information about a food/product, in my opinion.

The amount of fat, protein, carbs, and even calories IS NOT AS IMPORTANT as where those macros come from (the ingredients).

The ingredients in an apple are: apple. Single ingredient, whole food. Grown not made. Yes, it has sugar grams but no one set that apple down and injected it with white table sugar. Sugar just exists in an apple in a natural, unprocessed form. Our bodies were designed to process this type of sugar naturally. 

However, the ingredients in the Reese’s are various. Sugar appears in one form or another, 4 times! In other words, there is a LOT of ADDED sugar. Someone intentionally put processed, refined sugar in that product. Our bodies process that sugar differently than the sugar from the apple.

This is part of what we are teaching in 90/10 Nutrition. Healthy eating is about INGREDIENTS first. If you want more info about our system of reading ingredients and how to implement a healthy eating lifestyle you can actually sustain forever, please reach out to me directly or check out the free nutrition downloads (including a 40 minute nutrition class I taught for my employer) in the shop tab on my website. 

If you are still reading, you won! You have learned a super important first step in healthy eating. Congratulations! I sincerely hope you will implement what you have learned here and see for yourself how it can improve your health and help you feel amazing! 

Fitness, Nutrition

Have A Snack – But Avoid These 5 Mistakes

Everyone loves a good snack. At its best, a snack can be the ideal pick-me-up after a really tough workout or a well-deserved mid-afternoon break at the office. But healthy snacking isn’t a slam dunk. At its worst, snacks can derail your healthy eating goals and ultimately sabotage your weight-loss. Here’s 5 common mistakes to avoid in your snack game.

Mistake #1 Skipping Snacks

One of the big problems I have with diets is they are always cutting something out. Whether it’s calorie counting, food restrictions, or obnoxious fasting rules, popular diets make us feel guilty for needing a snack. We don’t like being told we can’t have this or do that, especially when it comes to food. So dieters eventually cave for the thing they can’t have, get depressed that they failed, and quit.

I’m telling you right now – have snacks. In fact, eat like a Hobbit. At least target 3 meals a day with a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Snacking helps you avoid getting hangry, keeps your energy up, and eating 4–5 smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day is a proven strategy for increased weight loss.

veggies-and-dip-1d96c27db1244efeab577ead84f3698aThe fix: Instead of snacking on rabbit food or some pre-packaged “low-cal” crackers or cookies that won’t satisfy you, try adding hummus or peanut butter to carrots or celery sticks. I eat an apple with peanut butter almost every day around 3 pm. Target a mix of protein and carbs in your snack choice. This more filling option won’t break the calorie bank and should help keep you from overeating later.

Mistake #2 Snacking When You’re Not Hungry

If you’ve ever reached for something sweet or salty out of pure boredom you’re definitely not alone. Such mindless eating can add up fast and prevent you from reaching your goals.

The fix: Before reaching for a snack, do a hunger check. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry, or just bored, tired, stressed?” If you aren’t actually hungry, go for a big glass of water, take a short walk, or find something else to do. Being mindful about your food intake is key to reaching your goals. Remember your reasons why you want to eat healthy and let that drive you to make good choices.

Mistake #3 Incorrect Portion Sizes

Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are excellent, nutrient-dense snacks, but they can be easy to overeat if you’re not careful. Beware of portion sizes for such foods. Usually a handful is all you really need. Portion sizes are made easy when you choose whole fruits like apples, bananas, pears. Once you are used to using portion control containers, you won’t need to measure anything.

The fix: Instead of eating right out of a bag of nuts and seeds, serve yourself the appropriate portion size.

Mistake #4 Not Planning

Failing to plan is a plan to fail in your snack game. If you are serious about eating right, you need a plan. It includes bringing healthy food to work with you, and keeping the junk out of your kitchen at home.

apples-peanut-butter-cashew-butter-butter-snack-1296x728-header-1296x728The fix: Make snack prep a part of your regular routine. Keep some whole wheat crackers and real cheese or healthy homemade trail mix at the office. You can bring hard cooked eggs, egg cups, a small jar of peanut butter to go with your apple or banana, etc.

Mistake #5 Not Having The Right Macros

Both protein and fat are essential macronutrients that help keep you feeling full and satisfied. An ideal snack should contain a mix of both carbohydrates and protein/ fat. Your brain and central nervous system run exclusively on carbs (sugar) found in foods such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, milk and yogurt. You need protein such as meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds to sustain energy and fullness longer.

imageThe fix: Choose snacks that incorporate both a healthy fat or protein, like almonds for example, with your fruit. This will help you stay fuller longer and avoid extra servings at lunch or dinner because you’re starving.

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Fitness, Nutrition

Fit Food Spotlight: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are not only delicious, they are also a nutrient powerhouse filled with complex carbs to provide steady energy throughout the day and during workouts. Easy to eat, easy on the gut and easy to cook, sweet potatoes are a great food to incorporate into your healthy eating plan.

FIT FOOD BENEFIT #1 – STEADY ENERGY DURING WORKOUTS

A medium-sized sweet potato contains 90 calories primarily from carbohydrates with some protein. The 20g of carbohydrates in one medium sweet potato are composed of 13g from starch (complex and slow-burning), 3g from fiber (complex and slow-burning) and 4g from sugar (fast-acting). The mix of complex and simple carbohydrates make sweet potatoes a great pre-workout ingredient for long-lasting, sustainable energy during any type of workout.

FIT FOOD BENEFIT #2 – RICH IN CANCER-FIGHTING ANTIOXIDANTS, VITAMINS AND MINERALS

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, providing 89% of your daily value. They are also good sources of vitamin B5 and B6, providing 16% and 15% respectively. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant, which helps the body combat cellular damage. B-vitamins provide an energy boost, improve brain function and cell metabolism. In addition to antioxidants and B-vitamins, sweet potatoes are also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. Compared to other common pre-workout foods like white bread toast, sugary cereals or granola bars, sweet potatoes enhance the quality of your overall diet in addition to providing a great energy boost for workouts.

FIT FOOD BENEFIT #3 – CONTROLLING BLOOD SUGAR

Sweet potatoes with the skin have a glycemic index of 41, which is relatively low compared to other carbohydrate-rich foods. This makes them not only great for slow-burning fuel for workouts but also controlling blood sugar for those who live with pre-diabetes, diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Studies show sweet potatoes to be a beneficial source of complex carbohydrates for people with pre-diabetes and diabetes.

FIT FOOD BENEFIT #4 – VERSATILE AND EASY TO MAKE

Poke holes in a sweet potato with a fork, pop it in the microwave and press the potato button. If your microwave doesn’t have a button specifically for cooking a potato, try 3–5 minutes. A microwaved sweet potato with a dollop of 0% plain Greek yogurt and salsa on top makes a great pre-workout meal in less than five minutes. In addition to cooking them in the microwave or roasted whole in the oven, try making potato cakes or potato pancakes.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Sweet potatoes are an easy pre-workout snack to provide a valuable boost of energy to enhance performance and add nutrients to your overall diet. Their nutritional profile helps to control blood sugar and provides a steady stream of energy throughout your day and workout. In addition to being a great pre-workout snack, they are filled with beneficial antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals to benefit overall health and prevent disease. On top of all those benefits, they are delicious, satisfyingly sweet without adding too much sugar and easy to make.

Kristen Arnold, MS, RDN, CSSD  is a registered dietitian (RD), professional cyclist and cycling coach. She is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD), received her master’s in human nutrition (MS) from Ohio State University and is a Level2 USA Cycling coach with Source Endurance LLC. Her private practice nutrition counseling business focuses on performance nutrition for athletes. Kristen competes in national-level cycling races across the USA as a professional cyclist for ButcherBox Pro Cycling.