Monthly Archives for July 2013

Archives for July 2013

Video: Davey’s Urban Street Workout!

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 9.27.39 AMSome people grumble that working out is boring. Or expensive. Or inconvenient.

I say, use a little imagination. You can have a free, fun workout pretty much anywhere and at any time.

Case in point: In today’s video, I hit the streets of downtown Los Angeles to incorporate everyday objects into my gym routine. It’s actually a lot of fun and it can provide for a great, heart-pumping workout. Use the exercises that I demonstrate as inspiration and then create your own workout wherever you live – urban, rural or otherwise!

The world is your playground! Have fun with it.

Video: Thick is In.

Screen-Shot-2013-07-29-at-9.11.06-AMLast week, I answered a question from someone wanting to lose weight from their thighs.

The truth is, the commentator isn’t alone. Every day, I get dozens of emails from both men and women about the desire to be thin. It’s not about being healthy or about being strong; it’s about being skinny. And though I understand where this desire comes from, I think all of us could use a reality check when it comes to body image.

Over the weekend, I decided to record a video on the topic – and posted it on my second YouTube channel, DaveyWaveyRaw. Because body image is so central to health and fitness, I wanted to share it with you.

Check it out. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

How to Lose Fat From Thighs.

Hey Davey,

I have a question and would like your advice: I’m a slim guy with a fast metabolism but I have gained a lot of fat on my thighs. Now my jeans are getting tight and I don’t like it. What’s the best way for getting rid of extra weight on your thighs?

From,
Eddie

Example-of-Big-Thighs-139656

Thick is in.

Hey Eddie,

I have good news and bad news.

First, the bad news.

The desire to spot-reduce weight is something that I get asked about often. Unfortunately, that’s not how weight loss works; it’s not possible to reduce fat in just one particular area of your body.

When you lose fat through proper diet and exercise, that excess weight comes off the entire body and according to its own agenda. You may lose fat in some areas quicker than others. There’s no guarantee.

Having said that, excess fat is lost through a combination of diet and exercise. By moving more and eating smarter, you create the calorie deficit that is required for weight loss. You’ll take in fewer calories than you burn (a safe calorie deficit is a few hundred calories per day) and the excess weight will come off slowly but surely. And by combining diet with exercise, you’ll ensure that the lost weight is primarily fat and not muscle mass.

Now, the good news.

Some people have naturally thicker thighs, and that’s perfectly okay. Part of what makes this world so interesting is that we all come in different shapes and different sizes. Moreover, thick thighs can be sexy, strong and beautiful.

If you exercise and eat smart… and still have thick thighs, then learn to love and embrace them!

Love,
Davey

7 Tricks to Cut Calories.

How-to-Cut-CaloriesWeight loss happens when your body is in a calorie deficit. That is, you take in fewer calories than your body burns. For lasting and sustainable weight loss, the calorie deficit is created by moving more and eating smarter.

Cutting calories sounds like a daunting task. But the truth is, just cutting a few hundred calories per day is enough for most of us to make significant progress toward our weight loss goals. It doesn’t need to be a difficult, expensive or time-consuming process.

For some easy calorie cutting, put these tips to use for you!

  1. Drink your coffee black. You’ll cut out 120 calories without cream and sugar (not to mention 18% of your daily value of saturated fat and 12 grams of sugar).
  2. Leave the cheese off of your sandwich. And don’t use mayo or butter. Guess what? It’ll still taste great. You’ll slim your sandwich by 200 calories – and you’ll still feel just as full!
  3. Order a glass of water in between drinks. If you’re out or enjoying happy hour, remember that many alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories but devoid of nutrition. While eliminating alcohol altogether may seem unrealistic, space out your drinks by having a glass of water in between.
  4. Replace soda with mineral or sparkling water. It will still give you some fizz and flavor, but without any empty calories. A single cup of Coke has more than 180 calories.
  5. Don’t eat the pie… crust. We all need to live a little. Clearly, pie isn’t the healthiest dessert choice – but if you do indulge, do so sensibly. By not eating the crust, you slice nearly 100 calories out of your pie serving. Similarly, if you do have ice cream, get it in a cup instead of a cone. Or top your dessert with a few berries instead of globs of chocolate syrup.
  6. Get a smaller dinner plate. Not only do smaller plates hold less food, which translates to fewer calories, but research shows that smaller plates trick our minds into feeling fuller. By moving from a 9″ dinner plate to an 8″ dinner plate, you can cut an average of 200 calories out of your meal.
  7. Substitute in your recipes. If you’re making meatballs, replace half the meat with brown rice. If you’re baking, substitute avocado or applesauce instead of butter.

While these tips might not apply to all people everywhere, the strategy works and is universal. In your everyday life, it’s very easy to cut a moderate amount of calories while still maintaining the quality of life that you enjoy. Making smarter choices here and there can (and does!) add up over time.

What are some other tips you have for cutting calories? Let me know in the comments below!

Run Your Feelings.

running-alonePeople do it all the time. You’ve probably done it. I’ve definitely done it. It’s called eating your feelings – and it’s a dangerous and misguided technique for self-soothing.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of eating to fill a void in your stomach, it’s eating to satisfy an emotional need – and often involves cravings for very specific foods like pizza, ice cream, potato chips, etc. Because emotional eating usually involves unhealthy comfort foods, subsequent feelings of guilt or remorse are common.

In a nutshell, you eat because you’re angry, sad, etc. And then, once the guilt kicks in, you end up feeling even worse. It’s a downward spiral that serves no one.

While working with a professional to process your feelings is probably the healthiest alternative, I’ve got another, more accessible solution. Run your feelings. Hear me out.

Few things clear your mind like a good run. For me, running becomes something of a moving meditation. It’s right foot, left foot, right foot… One step, two steps, three steps. Breathe in, breathe out. And instead of having your mind race around an upsetting idea or thought, running allows your to channel and release that energy in a physical way.

Running allows me to take what’s in my mind and leave it on the payment.

And, unlike emotional eating, emotional running does serve your body with movement, exercise and a good sweat. Moreover, no feelings of guilt; instead, only the release of dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters resulting in the euphoric runners high.

Do you ever run or exercise as a way to cope? Let me know in the comments below.

Is Hot Yoga Safe?

09-015779311It’s getting hot in herre!

And that’s exactly the case for hot yoga aficionados. For a hot-style yoga class, yogis endure temperatures of 90 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels above 40%. By the end of the session, participants are literally dripping in sweat – and it’s made many people wonder about safety. Does hot yoga result in dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke?

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) enlisted the help of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to get some answers.

For the June 2013 study, researchers recruited 20 healthy participants ages 19 – 44. After establishing baseline fitness levels, each participant swallowed a core body temperature sensor and then experienced a 60-minute yoga class at 70 degrees. Throughout the class, temperature readings, heart rate and perceived exertion levels were recorded.

Within 24 hours, participants then experienced a hot-style yoga class at 92 degrees and with more humidity. The same poses and same yoga instructor were used – and temperature, heart rate and exertion levels were again recorded.

Though the participants sweated much more during hot yoga, body temperature and heart rate levels remained the same. Though the participants’ vital signs were nearly the same, the hot yoga class was perceived to be more challenging. According to fitness guidelines, the intensity would still be categorized as light exercise.

The bottom line: Hot-style yoga is not dangerous. For heat-related complications to be imminent, internal body temperatures must exceed 104 degrees – and no participants came close to that threshold. However, participants must be mindful to stay hydrated before, during and after the class.

Have you ever tried hot yoga? Do you love it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Do Detox Diets Work?

detox dietLiving in Los Angeles, it seems like everyone is on a detox diet.

Detox diets come in many forms, but usually involve some concoction of fruit and vegetable juices – sometimes with some added herbs or spices. According to detox enthusiasts and marketers alike, the diet cleanses your body of toxins and chemicals, boosts energy and often results in weight loss.

But do they really work?

First things first, your body already does a great job of filtering most toxins through your liver, kidneys and colon. According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s little evidence that detox diets actually detoxify the body. Instead, the benefits of the diet may have more to do with eliminating highly processed foods or added sugar from the menu.

When it comes to weight loss, detox diets are nothing more than a quick fix. For her role in Dreamgirls, Beyonce famously lost 20 pounds using the Lemonade Detox Diet of maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. However, she quickly regained the weight and subsequently warned people to avoid the diet.

Here’s why detox diets are so bad for lasting weight loss.

Detox diets severely restrict calories. Because detox dieters consume fewer calories than they burn, weight is lost – but some of it is hard-earned muscle (especially since detox diets rarely include protein). As with any starvation diet, the body switches into survival mode by slowing down the metabolism. Detox diets are unsustainable, and eventually the diet will end. When regular calorie consumption finally resumes, a slowed metabolism will ensure quick weight gain. Unfortunately, almost all of the weight gained will be fat. You’ll have to rebuild all that lost muscle mass at the gym.

Detox diets lack the fundamentals necessary for sustainable and lasting weight loss. In fact, according to WebMD:

The risks outweigh any benefits, making traditional detox diets both ineffective and potentially dangerous. Detox diets are based on unrealistic fears and dieters’ lack of understanding of how the body works… Potential side effects include low energy, low blood sugar, muscle aches, fatigue, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and nausea. Prolonged fasting can lead to more serious health problems.

Instead of wasting time, energy, effort and money on a diet program that doesn’t work, opt for a wiser approach.

Simple Trick to Create a Fitness Habit!

57c80cc8894d754a1e99ef7cb16a3d45An object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest. Well, the same is true of our bodies; it’s hard to break our old, sedentary habits and replace them with new, healthier ones.

So try this.

They say it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Clearly, this number is going to vary from person to person depending on a very wide range of factors. But let’s roll with it.

Take 21 post-it notes, use a pen to number them from 1 – 21 and then place them on your wall. Go ahead and do it right now.

For the next 21 days, you’re going to do some sort of physical activity. Some days, you might go to the gym. Other days, you might just take a walk. Or do some jumping jacks or squats in your living room. Or even dance around the room to your favorite songs.

Regardless of the activity, you’ll do something that gets your body moving and your heart pumping. And once you complete the physical activity, take down the post-it note for that day. It’s like a countdown.

After 21 days of physical activity, you’ll have taken a big step in a healthier direction – and you may even have a new habit. After all, a body in motion stays in motion. So let’s get moving!

15 Foods – Healthy & Strong Grocery List!

bag-vegetables-groceries-11-410x290Want to eat healthier? One of the easiest ways is to clear your cupboards of unhealthy foods like chips, soda, chocolate, cookies, candies and other products that are high in calories, sugar, simple carbohydrates or saturated fats.

Replace those unhealthy options with delicious and nourishing food choices – like those featured on the list below. Next time you go grocery shopping, pick up these 15 foods to instantly upgrade your pantry, your menu and your life!

  1. Pure peanut butter. Check the ingredients. Opt for a peanut butter that doesn’t contain added sugar or honey. Pure peanut butter is delicious, extremely filling and high in protein. It’s completely indulgent but without any of the guilt.
  2. Kale. Many people are intimidated by kale, but it is actually easy to work with and packed with nutrients. One cup of chopped kale has only 33 calories but 5 grams of fiber, 9% of your daily value of calcium, 134% of vitamin C, 206% of vitamin A and 684% of vitamin K. Add kale your favorite smoothie recipe or toss it with some garlic and oil and bake it in the oven.
  3. Unsweetened almond milk. Among the healthiest and most delicious of milk alternatives, almond milk contains only 30 calories and has zero grams of sugar. Compare that to 100 calories and 13 grams of sugar in low-fat milk. Best of all, almond milk is richer, creamier and even more delicious!
  4. Berries. Fresh or frozen, berries are delicious for snacking, a great addition to smoothies, high in fiber and can even help prevent cancer.
  5. Microgreens. Microgreens are baby greens that are picked shortly after germination. Popular microgreens include spinach, sunflower, beet and arugula. Tender, fresh and tasty, microgreens typically have 4 – 6x higher nutrient levels than their full-grown counterparts. As such, they’re a great addition to any salad!
  6. Carrot sticks. I love carrot sticks. When you’re craving a snack, but want to be mindful of calories, they’re the perfect go-to. They’re crunchy and satisfying, and also packed with vitamin A. In fact, a single carrot has two days worth of vitamin A.
  7. No sugar added cereal. Consuming traditional cereals is like starting your day with a bowl full of sugar. Though it takes some searching, find yourself a cereal with no sugar added. You’ll be amazed how different you feel; you’ll enjoy stable energy levels without the crash. My favorites are Engine 2 and Alpen cereals. Check the ingredients list to ensure that no sugars are added. Note: Even no sugar added cereals will contain some naturally occurring sugars (i.e., the sugars found in raisins, etc.).
  8. Brown rice. Did you know that all white rice starts as brown rice? Turning brown rice into white rice extends its shelf life from a few months to ten years, but it strips the rice of fiber and nutrients. Because brown rice is a complex carbohydrate and slow to digest, it won’t result in the same blood sugar spikes as white rice.
  9. Avocado. A world without avocados is a world in which I wouldn’t want to live. Avocados are high in heart-healthy fats, fiber and contain twice the amount of potassium as bananas! They’re also a great topping alternative to mayonnaise. I even substitute avocado for butter in baking recipes.
  10. Broccoli and friends. Truth be told, steamed broccoli is my favorite healthy side dish – but you should really taste the rainbow. Sweet potatoes. Edamame. Tomatoes. Brussels sprouts. Enjoy veggies and fruits of every color! And you need not eat fresh. Since frozen fruits and veggies are packaged at the peak of ripeness, many contain even more nutrients than their fresh alternatives! They’re also a lot cheaper!
  11. Almonds. Unsalted almonds are a great snack food. In fact, a study in the journal Obesity found that people who ate nuts at least twice per week were significantly less likely to gain weight than people who almost never ate nuts. They’re also rich in protein, vitamin E and manganese.
  12. Beans. We all know that beans get a bad rap, but the truth is that beans are extremely healthy and a great source of protein, fiber and good carbohydrates. Some of my favorites include soybeans, lentils, black beans, kidney beans and navy beans.
  13. Eggs. Eggs also get a bad rap, mainly because they’re high in cholesterol. However, there’s a difference between dietary and blood cholesterol – and most of us can eat eggs without negatively impacting our health. They’re also a delicious an inexpensive source of protein. And note that there’s no nutritional difference between brown eggs and white eggs.
  14. Olive oil. Though olive oil is high in fat and calories, it’s the good, heart-healthy fat. It’s great for mixing into dressings and for cooking over low temperature. It can reduce your risk for hearth disease, lower cholesterol levels and even reduce blood clotting.
  15. Lean meats. Lean meats are lower in healthy saturated fats and calories. It’s important to be mindful of the cut. Some turkey burger patties, for example, can be just as unhealthy as beef. And don’t forget about fish!

Do you have a favorite healthy grocery item that I didn’t mention? Share in the comments below!

Is Your iPhone Making You Fat?

iphone5Is your iPhone making you fat?

The answer is maybe – at least, according to a new study by researchers from the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University.

For the study, 300 college students were surveyed on cell phone usage and then assessed for fitness levels and body composition. Researchers found that participants who spent a large amount of time on their cell phones (as much as 14 hours per day!) were less fit than participants who averaged 90 minutes or less on their phones.

According to one participant:

Now that I have switched to the iPhone I would say it definitely decreases my physical activity because before I just had a Blackberry, so I didn’t have much stuff on it. But now, if I’m bored, I can just download whatever I want.

Of course, cell phones are more than phones; they’re used for gaming, messages, videos, music, emails, photography… and the list goes on. But unlike a television, cell phones are mobile – which means you can use your phone while engaged in other active activities. For example, listening to music while on a hike.

Even so, it appears that cell phone use may be a contributing factor to sedentary lifestyles. Or else, people with already sedentary lifestyles spend a lot of time with their cell phones. It’s a bit like asking which came first: The chicken or the egg?

Regardless, all of us could spend a little less time on our phones and a lot more time being healthy and active. But first, download the Davey Wavey Fitness iPhone app for guilt-free cell phone usage. 🙂

Difference Between Sugar and Added Sugar!

sugarIf you look at the nutrition information for a banana and a serving of Starburst candies, you might be surprised to notice a few similarities – including the amount of sugar. Both foods have about 28 grams of sugar.

Of course, there’s a difference: A banana has naturally occurring sugar while the candies have added sugar. What’s the difference? And is one for of sugar healthier than the other?

All sugars are a form of carbohydrate. According to Calorie Count:

Naturally occurring sugars include lactose in milk, fructose in fruit, honey and vegetables and maltose in beer. Added sugars originate from corn, beets, grapes, and sugar cane, which are processed before being added to foods. The body cannot tell the difference between naturally occurring and added sugars because they are identical chemically.

Sugar is sugar, and we know that all of us get way too much of it. In fact, the average American eats 130 pounds of sugar per year. But the story doesn’t end there.

In our above example of a banana versus Starburst candies, no one would argue that the candy is a healthier choice. That’s because the banana comes loaded with essential nutrients that our bodies need. The candies, on the other hand, don’t.

Here’s the deal: Many foods that contain naturally occurring sugar also contain some really great stuff – so you need to pay attention to other things like vitamins, minerals and fiber to get a more complete picture. Foods with added sugar are often nutritionally devoid. Think donuts, cake and soda.

And it’s worth noting that a nutrition label doesn’t distinguish between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. You’ll have to read the ingredients carefully to see if sugar is added. If ingredients like barley malt, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, maltose, molasses, etc., are listed, then you’ll know there is added sugar in the food product.

Having said that, it’s still wise to minimize all forms of sugar. Naturally occurring sugar is still sugar, and there are plenty of ways to get nutrients without the sweet stuff – added or otherwise.

A Dark Secret Behind Weight Loss.

sad-alone-boyToday’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

Were you sexually abused as a child or teen? Do you struggle to lose weight as an adult? If this applies to you, you’re not alone. Sexual abuse is a hidden secret behind weight loss difficulty for many people. While rarely discussed, without this information even the most well-intentioned weight loss advice falls short. But once you understand the deep connection between sexual abuse and carrying extra weight, you’re no longer held back by experiences from your past. Releasing weight can begin to feel more manageable and feeling confident about your body becomes possible.

Studies show that one in four women and one in six men have experienced some form of sexual molestation before the age of eighteen. Depending on the level of the trauma experienced, it’s not unusual for a child victim to later struggle with addictions, poor body image, eating disorders and obesity.

Barbara’s Story

Obese most of her life, Barbara worked with a dietician to help her lose weight for good. She learned about eating healthfully and mindfully, began an exercise program, and took steps to improve her lifestyle. Whenever she made progress, however, her motivation waned. Rather than feel excited about weighing less, she felt a vague discomfort. Anxiety set in. She felt vulnerable and used food to cope. Realizing emotional issues blocked her client’s progress, Barbara’s dietician referred her for counseling.

In our first session, I learned that Barbara’s grandfather sexually abused her for years during her childhood and adolescence. Her weight gain, as well as turning to food when depressed and lonely, began during that time. It became clear that exercise and nutritional guidance alone were no match for the monstrous weight of underlying fear, anger, and shame that Barbara held deep inside.

A Confusing Paradox

Barbara wanted to be thinner but the frightened child inside her didn’t. While Barbara was afraid she’d never lose weight, her subconscious mind was afraid she would.

Let me explain. On a subconscious level excess weight offers emotional protection from unwanted sexual advances. For example, Barbara wanted a thinner body but felt safe in a large one. She often said, “When I get thinner, men notice me and you know what that means.” She associated being thin with being sexually vulnerable even though, on a conscious level, she desperately wanted to lose weight. Once Barbara understood how the sexual abuse trauma she experienced influenced her weight loss attempts, she felt liberated. She then embarked on a journey that not only helped her come to terms with what happened to her as a child, she began to love her body for the first time in her life.

The subconscious fear of unwanted sexual advances is but one aspect of how childhood sexual abuse creates obstacles to successful weight loss in adulthood. Other issues include compulsive overeating to cope with overwhelming feelings and memories, shame about being abused which exacerbates shame about being overweight, and feeling disconnected from one’s body.

Here are five strategies that helped Barbara begin her new path. Perhaps they will help you, too:

  1. Safety First: It’s essential that your home and work environments feel safe. Before embarking on your weight loss journey, seek help to resolve or leave any physically or emotionally abusive relationships. You can’t help your “inner child” feel safe if you’re not safe.
  2. Visualize Small Steps: As you release weight, subtle insecurities may develop, especially in summer months when wearing fewer clothes. Underlying fears about being thin may make it hard to even imagine yourself at your ideal weight. That’s OK. Use visualization to see yourself three to five pounds lighter, then three to five pounds lighter after that. Develop safety in your imagination first to help you feel safe in your body later.
  3. Take Yoga Classes: Because your body was the object of abuse, experiencing body image issues or feelings of disconnection from your body, is common. Yoga is a gentle and powerful way to help you feel more connected with your body. Over time, as you develop confidence with your body, underlying fears about releasing weight begin to lessen and distorted images about your body begin to improve.
  4. Nurture Your Soul: Trauma leaves behind so much internal chaos, that it’s often hard to trust your intuition. Spend time each day, even ten minutes, to do something calming that soothes and grounds you. Whether you listen to soft music, read inspirational articles, or write in a journal, create a daily habit of reflective “me” time to quiet your mind and nurture your soul. This helps you hear the whispers of your own authentic voice guiding you along your journey.
  5. Get Support: Don’t travel this road alone. Seek out support from a trusted friend or relative. Talk to a professional who can assist you in ways your friends cannot. To find a psychotherapist in your local area, use this therapist finder tool at Psychology Today.

It’s not easy to have a history of sexual abuse and be struggling with weight loss at the same time… but healing does happen. Other people, including Barbara, have overcome these issues and also reached their weight loss goals. With the right approach and support, you will, too.

Why Do We Drink Cow’s Milk?

cow

Maybe we should just cut out the middleman and go right to the source!

A year ago, I took a trip to Thailand. It was a beautiful country full of amazing sights, friendly people and delicious but interesting food. From chicken feet to red ants with their eggs to duck mouths, much of the Thai food we encountered seemed quite adventurous.

So when I asked for a glass of milk, I was surprised by the response. Many of the Thai waiters and waitresses seemed repulsed by my request. This caused a good deal of introspection on my part, and – after careful consideration – I realized that it’s actually really strange that we drink the breast milk of cows. And moreover, why don’t we drink the mammary gland secretions from other animals like horses or even humans?

Milk is weird. Of course, just because milk is weird, it doesn’t mean that it’s unhealthy or that we shouldn’t drink it. So let’s dig deeper.

In a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Harvard professor David Ludwig questions the role of milk in our diets. Indeed, the government recommends three servings of milk per day to promote a healthy lifestyle – but is that really necessary, wise or even true?

It’s true that milk is rich in calcium, vitamin D and has some protein. But that’s not all you’re getting. Most people are surprised by the amount of sugar in milk. A cup of 1% milk, for example, has 13 grams of sugar. It’s not added sugar, but still sugar nonetheless. Most guidelines recommend no more than 40 – 50 grams of sugar per day, and three servings of skim milk would almost reach that limit. And we’ve all seen the link between sugary drinks and obesity demonstrated time and time again.

Ludwig also cites a lack of evidence that reduced fat milks are any less likely to result in weight gain or other health outcomes when compared to whole milk. In fact, Ludwig speculates that when individuals drink reduced fat milk, they feel less full – and then consume more calories in other food. For example, if you’re drinking a glass of whole milk, one cookie may be sufficient. But if you’re drinking a glass of reduced fat milk, you feel less satisfied and may reach for a second cookie.

Yes, milk has some important nutrients – but it’s also entirely possible to get those nutrients from other foods and without all that sugar. And there are plenty of delicious and rich non-dairy alternatives that can serve as healthier replacements to dairy milk.

Questioning what we eat is a good thing and it’s important to occasionally take a few steps back from our diet for examination. While milk may not be as unhealthy as cake, candy or a glass of Coca Cola, it’s also not necessarily the wisest nutritional choice.

Is Dried Fruit Healthy?

Dried Fruit MixWhat’s not to love about dried fruit? It’s easy and convenient. It’s delicious. AND it can satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. But is it healthy?

The answer is yes, no and it depends.

In the purest form, dried fruit is really just fruit with the water removed. In essence, all the good stuff is left behind. Dried fruits are often rich in the fiber, vitamins and minerals that your body needs. And if you’re feeling sluggish or if you’re engaged in a high endurance activity like hiking or kayaking, dried fruit can provide your body with a much-needed jolt of energy. In this sense, dried fruit is smart choice.

However, many people forget that dried fruits have just as many calories and sugars as their fresh counterparts. A dried plum, for example, is just a fraction of the size of a fresh plum; it can be eaten in one bite. And because it seems so small, many of us will eat 3 or 4 or 5 or more. But it adds up fast. A cup of pitted and dried plums has more than 400 calories, 111 carbohydrates and 66 grams of sugar. While dried fruit can be healthy in moderation, it’s important to carefully monitor consumption.

Moreover, pay attention to the ingredients in your dried fruit. Dried fruit is already sweet and added sugar isn’t needed. But this is America, and a good number of brands add sugar to their dried fruits. When you add sugar to dried fruit, it essentially renders it into candy. Pay attention to the ingredients on the nutrition label and avoid any products that list sugar, corn syrup, etc.

While fresh fruit is the recommendation, dried fruit is a solid and more convenient alternative – and definitely a huge step up from snacking on chips, candy or ice cream.

Do Genes Make You Fat?

ObeseFamilyCartoonDear Davey,

Most of the people in my family are overweight or obese. When I look at my relatives, I can’t help but think that there must be a genetic component to me being overweight. Is it possible that I’m just genetically destined to be fat?

From,
Chris

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the honest question.

economix-23OECDobesity-custom1Over the last several decades, obesity rates in this country – and many others – have risen dramatically (see chart). Clearly, this huge increase can’t be explained entirely by genetics.

As I’ve said before, weight loss, gain or maintenance is determined by calories in and calories out. If we take in fewer calories than we burn, we lose weight. If we take in more calories than we burn, we gain weight. And if we take in the same amount of calories that we burn, we’re in a neutral state of maintenance.

Though our genes may have some influence on our predisposition to obesity, all of us can manipulate both ends of the calories in/calories out equation to reach a healthier weight. On the “calories in” side of the equation, it means eating healthy, clean and nourishing foods in appropriate quantities. On the “calories out” side of the equation, we need to move more and get active. To make weight loss happen, the caloric total of the foods we eat must be less than the total calories burned.

Clearly, this is a vast oversimplification of the process – and, indeed, there are many other factors involved in weight loss. Some of these factors are emotional and psychological – and some of them can be difficult to deal with.

But to answer your question, the Harvard School of Public Health notes that:

Only a very small percentage of people have such a strong genetic predisposition that they will be obese no matter how hard they try. Even people who are genetically predisposed to obesity can reduce their risk of chronic disease by eating a healthful diet and staying active.

In my humble opinion, it’s far more likely that your relatives are similarly overweight because they’ve adopted similar habits. We know that obesity is contagious; a study by Harvard researchers found that “having four obese friends doubled people’s chance of becoming obese compared to people with no obese friends,” and that the more obese people you come into contact with, the more your risk for obesity increases.

In other words, we tend to pick up the habits of the people around us.

Love,
Davey

Late Bedtimes and Less Sleep Lead to Weight Gain.

couch potato catYou’ve probably heard the age-old adage, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” I’m not sure about the wealthy or wise part, but healthy – at least, according to a growing amount of research – has some truth.

Researchers from the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania published a study in the July issue of SLEEP; it’s the largest and most diverse healthy-sample study ever conducted in laboratory conditions. For the study, 225 healthy participants were recruited for up to 18 days in the laboratory. The participants were broken into two groups and either spent only 4 hours in bed for five consecutive nights or 10 hours in bed for five consecutive nights. Throughout the study, meals were served and food was readily available.

When researchers crunched the data, they discovered that the sleep-restrictive group ate a significantly larger amount of calories due to late-night calorie consumption. During their extra awake time, the participants ate… and ate. And ate some more. Moreover, the proportion of calories from fat was higher during late night snacking.

Though it’s totally possible and very healthy to snack on celery sticks or carrots, the data shows that we’re less likely to make those choices late at night. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it’s not when you eat, but what you’re eating – and how much of it – that counts most.

In other words, it’s always important to be mindful of your food choices, but this is especially true at night. Don’t fall for a case of the mindless munchies!