Newsletter Issue #007 - February 1, 2011
- "Healthy" Foods with Shocking Stats
- Blast Through Plateaus!
- Fish - Which, Why, and How Much?
- Recipe: Indian-Spiced Salmon
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"Healthy" Foods with Shocking Stats
“Eating healthy” means different things to different people. For some, it means avoiding the drive-through lane at fast food restaurants. For others, it means following a strict diet of mini-meals that are carefully weighed and measured. For the rest of us in between, a few general principles are good to keep in mind. First, look at the nutritional label! Even if it looks healthy, a packaged food can’t hide its nutritional facts. Be sure to double check that you know what you’re getting before you dig in. Second, whole fruits and vegetables are usually a safe choice. If you’re craving a snack – grab an apple or a pear. Not only will you be getting essential vitamins and minerals, but you’ll also be filling yourself up with fiber. Finally, don’t be fooled by the wording on packages! A food that is “fat free” can still pack loads of carbs and calories. Even if a product has “no sugar added” it can still have a lot of natural sugar. All of these “diet” labels are very vague. Don’t just take their word for it – check the label!
Granola and Granola Bars
Scones and Muffins
Turkey and Veggie Burgers
Banana and Vegetable Chips
Fruit is healthy. It’s low in calories and fat and provides essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs. The average orange has just 60 calories, no fat, and lots of Vitamin C. So, why should we limit drinking orange juice? During the juicing process, fruit loses its skin and pulp. The skin and pulp of fruit is often where the biggest health benefits of fruit come from. The fiber in an orange is eliminated when it is turned to juice. Fiber has many health benefits including helping us to feel fuller for longer. Plus, it typically takes multiple oranges to fill a glass of orange juice, meaning that you’re consuming much more sugars than you would by eating a single piece of fruit. Although 1 orange has 60 calories, just one cup of orange juice has about 110!
Granola seems almost synonymous with “healthy.” To tell the truth, some of what is in the classic granola is healthy – like the whole grains in oats. However, the second ingredient in many granola cereals is sugar, honey, or a sugar syrup. Sugar is also the glue that holds together granola bars. What’s more, both granola cereals and granola bars are often packed with fatty and/or high-calorie ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. As a result, small servings are high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. Just ½ cup of Kashi’s Mountain Medley granola has 220 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 38 grams of carbs! A serving of Nature Valley’s Pecan Crunch granola bars also boasts 7 grams of fat and 190 calories.
Just because it’s a salad, doesn’t make it healthy! When we’re dining out and trying to make a healthy choice, salad can seem like a great option. And it can be! However, dressing and toppings can make or break a salad. Thick, creamy dressings are often loaded with saturated fat and calories. Toppings like cheese, croutons, candied nuts, bacon bits, and crispy chicken make matters worse as do the enormous portion sizes at many restaurants. For example, Quizno’s Chicken Caesar Salad boasts 850 calories and 63.5 grams of fat! If you’re going to order a salad, do yourself a favor and get the dressing on the side and ask for no/less cheese!
Hungry in the morning? A fruit flavored muffin or scone might seem like the perfect, healthy accompaniment to your coffee or tea. However, though they seem healthy, most muffins are the nutritional equivalent of cake. Dense with carbohydrates and sugar, muffins and scones provide little nutritional benefit and lots of calories to your body. Choosing Starbuck’s Blueberry Scone with your coffee in the morning will add 460 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 61 grams of carbohydrates to your day before you even get to work. See Force Factor’s “Best and Worst Breakfasts” article to find a healthier swap for your morning!
Often, we recognize turkey as a great lean protein that’s low in fat. However, when turkey turns into a turkey burger, the result isn’t as advisable. Ruby Tuesday’s Avocado Turkey Burger has 886 calories and 54 grams of fat. Veggie burgers are often no better. The Veggie Burger at Houlihan’s boasts 825 calories and 37 grams of fat. If you’re craving one of these options, check the frozen food section of your grocery store. Nutritional stats vary widely so check the labels on all the available options. Making your own turkey burgers with lean ground turkey meat can also help you to keep this a healthy option!
A honey grain, blueberry, or multigrain bagel definitely sounds like a healthy choice; however, some bagels lack the nutrition benefits they seem to have and can be a source of lots of processed carbohydrates. Dunkin’ Donut’s multigrain bagel has 390 calories BEFORE you add any butter, jam, or cream cheese to it. If you’re trying to get more whole-grains in your diet, pay close attention to the name of the bagel. A “whole wheat” bagel will come from whole grains; however, a “9-grain” or “multi-grain” bagels might not. When shopping in the grocery store, choose bread items that have whole grains (not wheat) listed as the first ingredient to make sure you’re getting the positive health benefits from whole grain.
Just like juicing, turning bananas and vegetables into chip form turns a healthy food into an unhealthy snack choice! Most of the time, “chip” implies deep frying in oil. During this process, fruits and vegetables absorb this oil and lose much of their nutritional benefit. Just a single ounce of banana chips will have 145 calories and 9 grams of fat! For a truly “healthy” snack, choose the fresh, unfried banana instead.
Blast Through Plateaus!
Started 2011 with gains but haven’t seen any progress in a while? Last few pounds of body fat still stubbornly hanging on? Hitting a plateau can be one of the most frustrating feelings, but it’s a new month now and it’s time to add a new spark into our routines. We’ve polled our team here for their advice on blasting through plateaus this week!
Both training/muscle-building and fat loss plateaus are common. If you haven’t hit one yet, you’ve been very lucky. Chances are though, that you will eventually experience a time when you can’t add more weight or reps or haven’t seen any new muscle gains. These plateaus happen when our bodies get used to the workouts we’re doing and the same caloric intake. Read on for our team’s advice on the plateau-bursting strategies they’ve had success with.
“With plateaus, I often find that I need to re-evaluate my lifting vs. cardio schedule. Sometimes I can get so bogged down in the weights and increasingly frustrated that I’m not seeing results. When that happens, I know that I need to mix things up by adding in more cardio. Often, this helps me to see some increased definition quickly, get re-motivated, and get back on track.”
“In the past when I’ve hit plateaus it’s been because I’ve been doing the same routine at the gym every week, over and over. I have a hard time creating new routines and mixing up reps on my own, so after a while of no results, I sign up for a couple personal training sessions. It helps me mix up my routines, get some new ideas, and work the muscle groups that I’ve been neglecting. It’s worked really well at dodging plateaus in the past.”
“I’m still working on getting rid of my holiday weight gain so focusing on burning fat through both exercise and diet is a priority right now. I started off the year with consistent weighing and measuring and planning my meals but things have gotten a bit chaotic as the weeks have gone by. For me, breaking through a fat-loss plateau is going to require me to re-commit to carefully monitoring what I’m eating. I know that it’s the snacking I do throughout the day that’s standing in my way and that I need to shut it down in order to get to my next goal.”
“Supplements are the key to getting through plateaus! Adding an extra ½ scoop of BODY RUSH pre-workout is often the solution for me! The Cherry Limeade flavor gets more intense, which is awesome, and it really helps me to get my energy and focus back on track. Plus, it ups my endurance which helps me to challenge my body even longer. Using Glutamine post-workout also has helped me to keep pushing forward. I recover faster and know that my muscles are getting the support they need after an intense session in the gym.”
“I remember one time in particular when I just wasn’t seeing results at the gym. After a couple of weeks of disappointment, I took a step away from the gym and took some days off. It seems that my body was too exhausted and not fully recovered to let me perform at my max at the gym. With an adjusted schedule to allow for more rest, I was able to get back on track with better results (and I felt way better during intense workouts too)!”
Fish - Which, Why, and How Much?
If you've ever read up on muscle-building diets, you'll be familiar with the fact that fish is highly recommended. However, what's less clear in those articles/books can be why fish is such a great choice, what the best varieties are, how it should be eaten, and how much you should eat. Our experts have done some fishing for answers this week – read on to find what you need to know.
The bodybuilding diet is typically low in fat, low in carbohydrates, low in calories, and high in protein. Fish is a great lean protein choice because most types of fish meet all of these criteria. Some varieties, including tuna, salmon, and trout have a bit more fat than others (cod, halibut, sole, and tilapia), but even fatty fish have health benefits.
In addition to being good sources of lean protein, fish have bonus nutritional benefits. First, fish (especially sardines, salmon, halibut, and mackerel) are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3s are important for supporting healthy heart and brain functioning. Research also indicates that omega-3s can help reduce inflammation – a great benefit for those who are working out regularly. Fish can also be rich in vitamins and minerals; however the levels of these will depend on the variety of fish. For instance, cod and haddock are good sources of Vitamins A and D, while snapper is rich in Vitamin B12 and Selenium.
Which to Choose?
When deciding which fish to buy, your first consideration should be what is the freshest. If you're shopping at the grocery store, ask the employee in the fish section what has arrived most recently, particularly if you live far away from a body of water. If nothing fresh appeals to you, turn to the freezer section. Shopping at a fish market? Make sure the fish has been on ice and either cook it within 2 days of purchase or seal it in an air-tight bag and put it in the freezer. Most of the time, the sooner you can cook a fish after it's caught, the better it is. Fish can be pricier than other proteins (like chicken breasts or ground beef); however, you can often save by buying frozen, canned, or local catches. Not sure which fish you'll like best? Start with mild flavors like those of cod, flounder, sole, sea bass, pike, and tilapia.
How to Prepare it?
Now that you've bought your fish, how should you cook it? Our experts agree - bake it, broil it, grill it. Don't fry it! Both pan-frying and deep frying add extra fat and oil to an otherwise healthy dish. Instead, of frying, try choosing a low-calorie marinade to add flavor, season with salt, pepper and spices, or serve baked fish with a healthy topping (like a fruit salsa). The best way to prepare a fish will depend on the variety and your personal preference. Try the same type of fish several ways to find your favorite fish dish.
How Much Should I Eat?
Lean protein should be a key staple of your diet; however, they may be some reasons to avoid getting all of your lean protein from fish on a daily basis. Recently, the levels of mercury (a toxic heavy metal that often pollutes fish habitats) have been found to be high in some species of fish. The FDA lists advisories for fish with high levels of mercury (like mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish) so you can check their website for up-to-date advice. We recommend you fit in 12 ounces of (low-mercury) fish into your diet per week.
Recipe: Indian-Spiced Salmon
Here’s an easy way to pack a lot of flavor into a favorite, high-protein fish. About 5 ounces of this cooked salmon means just 200 calories and 8 grams of fat. Serve it with vegetables like asparagus and a whole grain rice for a complete, filling, and healthy meal.
4 salmon steaks (about 6 ounces each), 1” thick
¼ cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh squeezed if possible)
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the salmon steaks on a baking pan and pour the chicken stock and lemon juice over them. Then sprinkle the cumin, fennel seeds, coriander, salt and pepper over that. Cover the steaks with plastic wrap and put the pan in the refrigerator for three hours or more to marinate.
When you’re ready to cook, cover your broiler pan with aluminum foil. Place the steaks on top and add 1 tablespoon of the marinade on top of each. Place under broiler on low broil for 8-10 minutes. Turn them over and add leftover marinade. Then broil them for an additional 8-10 minutes.