Monthly Archives for October 2013

Archives for October 2013

Is A Pescetarian Diet Healthy?

Hi Davey,

I am a 18 year old male and I’m being ridiculed by people for being a pescetarian. Everyone keeps telling me things like I’m not growing properly, you’re going to die sooner, you’re not getting enough protein, etc. Are any of those remarks true? Do you believe its healthy to be a pescetarian?


salmon-fillet-caloriesHey Lloyd,

Thanks for the email.

First things first, many of my readers are probably unfamiliar with the term pescetarian. It refers to a diet that includes seafood but not the flesh of other animals. It can include nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains beans and dairy. In fact, pescetarian is the correct characterization for individuals who identify as vegetarian – but who still eat fish.

There are a few things to keep in mind.

Vegetarian diets – even without the inclusion of fish – can be extremely healthy. In fact, most of us would be well served to eliminate much of the meat we consume. A recent study found that, over a six year period, vegetarians had a 12% lower risk of dying when compared to meat eaters. There have been numerous other studies linking vegetarianism to increased longevity.

In other words, when people tell you that you’ll die sooner for eliminating meat, they’re wrong; the science demonstrates otherwise.

It’s also entirely possible for vegetarians to get their required protein. Beans, for example, are a great protein source. If you add fish into the equation, getting enough protein becomes even easier. A fillet of salmon, for example, has a whopping 39 grams of protein. For most men, that’s nearly a full day’s worth. Keep in mind, protein requirements vary from individual to individual and are dependent on a number of factors. You can use this calculator to determine your daily protein requirement.

When we talk about fish consumption, mercury is always a concern. To minimize your risk, it’s possible to make fish selections that contain little to no mercury. These include salmon, oysters, herring, tilapia and others.

Of course, your pescetarian diet is only as healthy as you’ll make it to be. Eating ice cream and chocolate is technically pescetarian – but it will do nothing to help you achieve your health or fitness goals. Stick with plenty of vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, berries and beans – and you’ll be great!


7 Foods with More Sugar than a Krispy Kreme.

donutIt’s no surprise that Krispy Kreme doughnuts are unhealthy. After all, they’re basically fried globs of sugar and flour. With 10 grams of sugar, that’s about 42% and 28% of the daily recommended limit for women and men respectively – at least, according to the American Heart Association.

Still, Krispy Kreme doughnuts are far from the worst sugary offenders. And many high-sugar foods definitely pass under the radar.

Case in point, you may be surprised to find that the following foods all have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut:

  1. Skim milk. With 13 grams of sugar, a single cup of skim milk has as much sugar as 1.3 Krispy Kreme doughnuts. As a healthier alternative, opt for unsweetened almond milk; it has zero grams of sugar.
  2. Dried cranberries. Though they sound healthy, most dried cranberries are sweetened to counteract their bitterness. But with 26 grams of sugar, there’s nothing bittersweet about it! That’s more sugar than two and a half Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Eat only unsweetened dried fruit – and do so in moderation. Fresh fruit, with its water content, is always more filling.
  3. Cereal. If a cereal is called “Smart Start” or “Raisin Bran Crunch,” you might think that you’re purchasing a healthy, low-sugar breakfast. But with 17 and 20 grams of sugar per serving respectively, you’re at the equivalent of about two doughnuts. And that’s before the milk! Though they’re not always easy to find, look for cereals with no added sugars. Most have 7 grams of sugar or less.
  4. Yogurt. Yogurt is another food that sounds healthy – and sometimes it is! But yogurts with fruit at the bottom, added flavors or honey are not smart choices. Some have as many as 28 grams of sugar. Instead of eating the sugar equivalent of nearly three doughnuts, opt for plain yogurts – and check the nutrition label.
  5. Sports drinks. Though Gatorade is a great recovery drink for high endurance athletes, most of us drink it while sitting on the sidelines. We don’t need all those simple carbs to sustain our energy levels; the result is consuming 35 grams of sugar in a single 20-ounce bottle. That’s 14 grams of sugar per cup. Instead, stick with water. If you want some flavor, squeeze some lemon juice into it.
  6. Salad dressing. Crazy but true! A single serving of “Ken’s Fat-Free Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette” has 12 grams of sugar per serving. In fact, the very first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, which is really just a fancy way to say sugar. Don’t be fooled by fat-free labels. It’s not synonymous with healthy – and many fat-free foods contain extra sugar to make up for the flavor. There’s no fat in sugar… but it can definitely still make you fat!
  7. Fruit smoothies. Let’s be clear. Fresh fruit has a lot of sugar. An apple, for example, has 19 grams of sugar. But a fresh apple also has nearly one-fifth of your daily value of slow-digesting fiber; it helps you feel full longer and prevents a spike in blood sugar levels. Juices remove all that great fiber – and you’re just left with the sugar. Many of the packaged smoothie drinks in grocery stores are perfect examples of this process. A single 12-ounce Odwalla Superfood Smoothie has 37 grams of sugar and very little fiber. It’s the equivalent of almost four doughnuts. Instead of buying a smoothie, make one. And use whole fruits rather than fruit juices. Use a base of almond milk and ice to cut down on sugar and calories.

Were you surprised by the amount of sugar in any of these foods? Let me know in the comments below!

Does Crossfit Work?

rich-froning-shirtless-crossfit-1Founded back in 2000, CrossFit is a exercise technique that combine gymnastics with strength, circuit and endurance training. It’s definitely no joke and it’s extremely grueling – but there are no shortage of CrossFit fans called CrossFitters. In just 13 years, CrossFit now has 7,000 gyms and more than 10 million participants.

So how effective is the technique? Is it just another fitness fad and marketing gimmick? Or does it live up to the hype? A recent study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise enlisted the help of researchers from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse to answer those questions.

For the study, 16 healthy male and female individuals ages 20 – 47 were recruited. Baseline fitness levels for established for each participant – and then each participant went through two separate CrossFit workouts. Throughout and/or after the workout, researchers recorded the participants’ heart rate, Vo2, ratings of perceived exertion and blood lactate concentration.

Though it took participants varying amounts of time to complete the workouts, times averaged roughly between 6 and 9 minutes. In that amount of time, participants burned between 64 and 117 calories. Heart rates were elevated to 90% of maximum heart rate – the higher end of industry recommendations. Similarly, VO2 levels were at the higher end of guidelines at 80% of VO2max. Blood lactate levels were 3 – 4x normal threshold levels.

So what’s the bottom line?

Researchers concluded, “CrossFit works.” It’s a great exercise, especially for its short duration. And like any high intensity interval training workout – like Davey Wavey’s Get Ripped Workout – you’ll see much greater increases in aerobic capacity versus traditional training.

Of course, this doesn’t mean CrossFit is for everyone. Beginners, older populations or individuals with medical complications may not be well-suited for CrossFit. Moreover, as many CrossFitters can attest, the injury risk is very high.

But for the healthy and brave, CrossFit can be a great option to kick their workout into high gear.


What Is Super Slow Training?

Vector stopwatchSuper slow is a strength training technique that was first popularized by Ken Hutchins. As the name implies, super slow training involves moving very slowly through repetitions. For both the lifting and lowering movements of each exercise, a ten count is used.

So what are the benefits of super slow training? And does it work?

I decided to try super slow training for myself by scheduling an appointment at Inform Fitness in Los Angeles. What’s immediately apparent is how much passion the trainers have for the technique – which, they claim, only involves 20 minutes of exercise once a week.

Yup, you heard that right. Just 20 minutes of exercise per week.

The theory is that super slow training is so intense on the body, it takes about a week for the muscles to fully repair and rebuild. And, in just 20 minutes, the trainers can put you through a number of compound exercises that fully fatigue every muscle group.

After trying the technique, I can certainly say that it’s intense. Because each repetition takes a total of 20 seconds, there’s no help from momentum. There’s no cheating. And there’s no rest in between each repetition; it’s constant work for your muscles. It’s exhausting.

Super slow training does work. But, according to the Mayo Clinic and the research that they’ve reviewed, it’s not more effective than traditional training. Instead, it’s a great way to add variety to your routine and guard against boredom at the gym. Because the movements are so slow, it’s also a great way to reduce the risk of injury – especially when compared to other techniques like crossfit.

Will 20 minutes of super slow training per week give you the body of your dreams? Well, I guess it all depends how you envision the body of your dreams. At the end of the day, super slow training can definitely give you some positive results – especially if you combine the training with proper nutrition and cardio.

For me, super slow training isn’t a muscle miracle, but rather another tool to use at the gym – and a great strategy for mixing things up.


Is Honey Healthier Than Sugar?

honey-41I get a lot of emails asking about honey and whether or not it’s nutritionally superior to table sugar. So, let’s take a look.

First things first, honey is natural. Table sugar, on the other hand, is heavily refined. But just because something is natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for you. Lard is natural. Dog poop is natural. Snake venom is natural. I wouldn’t recommend eating any of them. Natural isn’t a synonym for healthy.

Honey is sweeter than table sugar, so less is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness. However, honey also contains more calories – so when it comes to sweetness per calorie, honey and table sugar are pretty similar. It is worth noting that, unlike table sugar, honey does contain some nutrients like vitamin B2, vitamin c, calcium, zinc, potassium, etc. But these vitamins and minerals occur at just trace levels and won’t do much to help meet government guidelines.

There’s also some science on the subject. One study found that honey may be beneficial in reducing glucose intolerance. In a separate study, researchers found that honey can help lower the body’s glucose levels when compared to dextrose and sucrose. On the flip side, honey is 40% fructose – and there are numerous studies linking fructose to various ailments and diseases.

Before your head starts to spin, let’s keep things simple. Table sugar isn’t good for you. And even though honey might be slightly better, it’s still a very unhealthy food choice. It’s like asking which is better: A head-on collision at 55 mph or 50 mph? While 50 mph is slightly better, neither collisions is advisable. And so is the case with sugar and honey.

If you really want to eat something healthy, go munch on some broccoli.

P.S. Keeping in mind that honey is calorie dense and packed with carbohydrates, it can be a good source of energy if you’re engaged in some sort of endurance activity – like a long kayak ride or hike. In that case, go for it! But in everyday life, most of us are getting way too much sugar and far too many calories.

You Are What You Eat, So…

you-are-what-you-eat-so-dont-be-fast-cheap-easy-or-fakeYou’ve probably heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” And quite literally, it’s true. The food that we consume is used to build our bodies; each of the 75 trillion cells in your body is made from stuff that you once ate. It’s pretty crazy if you think about it.

Today, I heard a great variation on that old quote:

You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap or fake.

It’s funny. But it’s also true.

I’ve mentioned that I exercise because I’m passionate about life. If you’re passionate about life, you want to keep the vehicle through which you experience life (i.e., your body) tuned up in good working condition. I want to have the best, most amazing experience possible on this planet – and working out helps ensure that goal by minimizing disease risk, extending longevity and giving me the strength and energy to do everything that I want to do.

I feel the same way about food; nutrition is really the other side of the equation. And truly, nutrition is just as important as exercise. Some might argue it’s even more important. Any benefits from exercise can be quickly undone with a diet of ice cream, cookies and fried foods.

When I spend time preparing dinner for myself – even when I’m eating alone – it never feels like a chore. In some ways, it feels like an expression of gratitude. It’s a way to thank and reward my body for all that it does, and it’s a way to thank the universe by honoring the life it has given me. I feel more connected with the source or the universe or God (or whatever label you might use) while cooking than I have ever felt in any church or at any shrine.

There is no one in the world more deserving of your time and attention than yourself. This isn’t selfish, because as you invest in yourself, you’ll have so much more to give to others. When you’re the best version of yourself, you’ll light up the world with your greatness and lift up everyone around you.

P.S. I will add that cooking healthy is probably faster and cheaper than most people think. Sure, it might not be as efficient as a drive-thru at McDonald’s, but there are plenty of ways to cook healthy on a budget and with a tight schedule.



Exercise Improves Body Image – Even If You’re Unfit! [Study]

ken1If you don’t like the way your body looks, you’re certainly not alone. Surveys have found that about 60% of adults are unhappy with the way their body looks.

With body image issues being so widespread, exercise is often touted as one tool for treatment. But is this claim backed up by science? And is it only true for people who actually get into shape?

According to a University of Florida study, the act of exercise itself – regardless of whether or not you achieve your fitness goals – has a positive impact on body image. According to one researcher:

You would think that if you become more fit that you would experience greater improvements in terms of body image, but that’s not what we found.

In other words, even if you’re not receiving many physical benefits from exercise (i.e., lowering your body fat percentage, etc.), you still may be receiving important psychological benefits.

Interestingly, the only variable that made the body image boost stronger was frequency of exercise – and not the duration, intensity or type of exercise being performed.

The study also found larger improvements for older people than younger people, and a bigger boost for women than men. Still the gap between women and men wasn’t as large as researchers hypothesized; this may be attributed to the rise in body image issues among men. Indeed, body image issues know no gender.

The bottom line: Anyone can feel better about their body by engaging in any type of exercise on a regular basis. And with so many people dissatisfied with the way they look, exercise can be a powerful tool in helping to overcome a difficult issue – even if they don’t end up with that six pack.


Is Cold-Pressed Juice Better?

efa019113854f004077736beca4a59ecThese days, everyone is juicing. And I’m not talking steroids. Juices, juice bars and even juice cleanses (which are a bad idea) are all the rage.

If you’re into juicing, you’ve probably noticed a trend toward cold-pressed juices. But what does cold-pressed mean? And are cold-pressed juices really a better option?

Let’s break it down.

Traditional juicers are called centrifugal juicers; they work by spinning a metal blade against a mesh strainer that separates the juice from the fruit or vegetable flesh. This is what you’ll commonly see at kitchen supply stores, and they’re usually fairly inexpensive.

Cold press juicers work by pressing and crushing fruits, vegetables and even nuts to extract as much juice as possible. The process results in a higher juice yield than centrifugal juicers.

Often times, cold press enthusiasts will note that the fast-spinning blade found in traditional juicers generates heat, and thus destroys some of the nutrients in the process. The authenticity of this claim is doubtful; the force and friction of cold pressing also generates heat. The real advantage of cold pressing is that, because so much liquid is extracted, the resulting juice is more flavorful, abundant and colorful. And you can press things (like nuts or wheatgrass) that would otherwise be difficult or impossible with a centrifugal juicer.

On the downside, cold pressed juice and juicers are more expensive – so there’s a bit of a tradeoff. And remember, cold-pressed or otherwise, juicing fruits and vegetables leaves all that good fiber behind in the pulp. It’s not necessarily as healthy as you might imagine. Juice, even when it’s rich in nutrients, tends to be very calorie dense, especially when it’s made from fruit.

So everything in moderation! Even those fancy, overpriced cold-pressed juices.

Oreos More Addictive Than Cocaine!

oreoIf you’ve ever had an Oreo cookie, you know that it’s almost impossible to stop. One cookie becomes two. Two becomes three. And then, before you know it, the whole bag is gone. But just how addictive are Oreo cookies really?

Researchers from Connecticut College built a rat maze with two sides. On one side, the rats got rice cakes. On the other, Oreo cookies. The rats were then able to choose which side they wanted to explore, and researchers recorded the amount of time spent on each side. The results were compared to a similar experiment in which the rats were given either injections of saline or cocaine and morphine.

According to the data, the rats spent just as much time with the Oreo cookies as they did with cocaine and morphine. But it doesn’t end there.

Researchers also examined the number of neurons activated in the brain’s “pleasure center” when the cookies were consumed. The rats, in fact, received more pleasure from the Oreo cookies than they received from either cocaine or morphine.

What does it all mean? The study designer speculates that high fat, high sugar foods like Oreo cookies may present an even greater health hazard than drugs because of their affordability, availability and association with obesity.

Of course, research done on rats doesn’t always translate to humans. And the research isn’t to say that Oreo cookies, in particular, are any more addictive than other high fat and high sugar foods. But rather, it’s an important cautionary tale to remember the next time you go grocery shopping.

Is Fresh Produce Healthier?

frozen-mixed-vegetablesFresh sounds better than frozen, but is it necessarily true when it comes to fruits and vegetables?

Two separate UK studies were commissioned and carried out by Leatherhead Food Research and the University of Chester. In both studies, researchers examined key nutrient levels three days after storage. In other words, if you pick up fresh and frozen broccoli on Monday, how do the two compare on Thursday? Will the fresh or frozen broccoli be healthier?

After 40 different tests, researchers concluded that nutrient levels were higher in frozen fruits and vegetables 66% of the time.

According to researchers, the nutrient levels in fresh produce decreased during storage – especially in the softer fruits. This decrease wasn’t seen in corresponding frozen fruits and vegetables, disproving the myth that fresh food products are always nutritionally superior. At the very least, frozen produce is nutritionally comparable to fresh produce.

And it makes sense. Frozen produce is picked at the peak of freshness and then flash frozen. This process locks in and preserves the high nutrient levels until consumption.

Moreover, frozen fruits and vegetables also tend to be much cheaper. So really, it’s a win-win situation.

Top 7 Dieting Mistakes.

diet-tips1So you want to lose weight and embark on a healthier lifestyle? Great!

But when it comes to dropping excess weight, knowledge is truly power. As a certified personal trainer, I’ve seen many, many people make the same missteps over and over again. Today, let’s learn from their mistakes and not let history repeat itself.

Here are the top 7 dieting mistakes:

  1. Buying “low fat” foods. As it turns out, the label low fat isn’t synonymous with healthy. And our bodies need good, essential fats. Limiting unhealthy saturated fats is a smart move, but ensure that you still get plenty of the good fats found in olive oil, nuts and avocados.
  2. Doing lots of cardio and no strength training. It’s true that cardio can help create the calorie deficit that’s needed to lose weight, but many dieters skip the weight room entirely. Without strength training, cardio is more likely to burn off both fat and muscle. And less muscle mass means a slower metabolism. It becomes a vicious cycle. The long and short of it is keep lifting weights!
  3. Starvation. To lose weight, a calorie deficit is necessary. A good calorie deficit occurs when we consume fewer calories through dieting and burn more calories from exercise. However, some dieters take things to the extreme and severely restrict calories to less than 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men. Caloric intake at this low level results in a massive slowdown in the body’s metabolism; energy is conserved to keep you alive. Eventually, you’ll need to eat. And when you do, your metabolism will be so slow that weight gain is unavoidable. Starvation is unhealthy and counterproductive.
  4. Drinking diet soda. Sure, diet sodas are calorie-free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a wise choice for dieters. Though more research is needed, a handful of initial studies have linked diet soda consumption and artificial sweeteners to weight gain and obesity. One theory is that artificial sweeteners feed our sweet tooth – and thus cause us to crave other sugary, unhealthy foods. The moral of the story is stick with water.
  5. Skipping meals. There is a misconception that skipping meals saves calories. According to researchers, people who eat fewer than three meals a day end up eating more calories in total throughout the day. Pace yourself by eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  6. Relying on fad diets. Some fad diets do work – but usually only for a short period of time. You can’t eat cabbage soup, for example, for the rest of your life. The problem is that most fad diets are pumped full of gimmicky marketing but short on lasting, sustainable results. Eating smart and exercising might not sound sexy, but it works.
  7. Measuring progress in pounds or kilos. Scales don’t tell the full story, and too many people get caught up weighing themselves every day. Evaluating your progress is crucial for success – as you can determine what is and isn’t working – but think beyond the scale. Body fat measurements are more accurate. Measuring your waist is also smart. Take before and after picture to monitor your journey. Pay attention when your clothes start to fit differently.

Be a smarter dieter by putting the above knowledge into practice. If you need more help achieving your weight loss goals, download The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program. Use discount code “youtube” during checkout to save 25%!

And in the comments below, share any more tips that you might have!

Break Up With Your Trigger Foods!

Today’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.

Trigger-Foods-Hooked-on-certain-foodsDo cakes, ice cream, or chips hold power over you? Once you start eating them, is it hard to stop? Do attempts to enjoy just a single bite result in guilt-ridden overeating episodes?

It may be time to say good-bye to this love-hate relationship.

Get Very Honest with Yourself

When you enjoy the foods you want in moderation, you don’t need to set limits because you do so automatically. If you feel guilty even when you eat balanced amounts of certain foods, it’s possible to release self-judgment and enjoy what you want. But if you find you can’t eat certain foods in moderation no matter what you do, then maybe it’s time to try a different approach and just say, “No.”

“But I deserve to eat what I want!

Of course you do. But when you emotionally struggle with a certain food, it’s not about the food at all. Deep inside there’s a part of you that doesn’t yet feel deserving to give to yourself in a healthy way. It’s not the food you deserve; what you deserve is your own love.

“But I don’t want to deny myself!”

Well…why not? When you deny yourself something that hurts you, you ultimately give yourself inner peace and good health. Don’t give food that power over you, when the power you need to find is within you.

Some say the more we can’t have something, the more we want it. But that’s only true if you believe that to be true. You can choose to believe that not having what hurts you, frees you.

If you attempt to mindfully eat a trigger food before you’ve learned to fill yourself up with your own strength, you may be setting yourself up to fail. But try it. If it works for you, go forward in moderation. If it doesn’t and you cannot stop overeating that particular food, remember that it’s not your fault and it has nothing to do with will power. You’re trying to tame something that has power over you and that’s not easy.

But it is possible.

Set Clear Food Boundaries

Compulsive behaviors sometimes need black and white parameters until you develop the inner resources and fortitude to manage the gray. For example, to admit you’re powerless over a certain food, as an alcoholic is powerless over liquor, or a compulsive shopper is powerless over a credit card, is to embrace your own power. To feel grounded, the alcoholic stays away from bars, the compulsive shopper cuts up their credit cards, and the person who cannot limit chocolate cake, stays away from it. Setting a super-clear boundary provides a helpful structure. When you stop grappling with a force larger than yourself, you discover your own strength.

Eventually, the alcoholic can safely enter a bar without drinking, the compulsive shopper can hit the mall without overspending, and you can enjoy a piece of cake without over-eating.

This is because when you keep trigger foods out of your home, stop ordering them at restaurants and avoid them at parties, you release the grip they hold on you. Your struggle ends when you stop trying to manage these foods and take charge by deciding, “Enough.”

Be aware that you may experience resistance at first. But it likely isn’t about the food. Chances are you’re resisting experiencing feelings the food helped you avoid. When this happens, find ways to soothe yourself–writing in a journal, talking with a friend, or listening to calming music.

If you’re ready to release the grip trigger foods hold over you, reflect on this affirmation:

“I love myself and my body too much to give my power over to that food.”

What matters most is your emotional and physical health. When you mindfully choose yourself over food, you let go of the struggle and rest peacefully in your own strength.

Your thoughts?

Will you break up with your trigger foods?

Disappointed Sports Fans Eat More Fat & Sugar.

1623009 resLast night, my beloved Patriots football team lost to the Bengals 13-6. Today is a sad day across New England. And, according to a recent study, it’s also likely to be a day of increased saturated fat and sugar consumption as disappointed fans try to cope with the loss.

The study, published in Psychological Science, is the first of its kind to examine the impact of sports outcomes on eating. Previous studies have found correlations between losing teams and increased risky driving, heart attacks and domestic violence.

For the study, researchers from the INSEAD Business School looked at two seasons worth of NFL games and compared the outcomes with eating habits in a dozen cities. According to researchers, saturated fat consumption increased 16% for people living in cities with a losing football team. If the team won, saturated fat consumption decreased by 9%. Similar trends were found with sugar consumption – and the numbers were even more dramatic if a team lost unexpectedly or by a narrow margin.

In other words, people ate healthier if their team won and less healthy if their team lost.

But why? Researchers speculate that unhealthy foods are used as a coping mechanism to comfort disappointed sports fans. It’s called emotional eating – and it is a huge problem. In fact, it’s been estimated that 75% of overeating is due to emotional eating. Winning, conversely, seems to boost fans’ self-control.

If you’re worried about making unhealthy food choices due to a losing sports team, fear not. In their findings, researchers shared an easy fix: After a defeat, simply jot down the things that are really important to you in life. This technique, called “self affirmation”, was found to completely counter any negative effects of being defeated.

Let’s keep it all in perspective!

7 Surprisingly Unhealthy Foods!

14251284-trail-mixThere are tons of healthy and delicious foods. And then there tons of delicious foods that sound healthy – but aren’t.

Here are seven of those surprisingly unhealthy foods:

  1. Apple juice. It has the word apple in it – so it must be healthy… right? Wrong. In fact, fruit juice is only slightly healthier than soda and extremely calorie dense. A half cup of apple juice, for example, has as many calories as an entire apple – but it’s totally devoid of the fiber that makes the apple healthy and filling.
  2. Multigrain bread. Multigrain bread simply means that it’s made with multiple types of grains – some or all of which may be refined. What you want to look for is bread made from whole grains. If the word “whole” isn’t listed before the grains, don’t buy it.
  3. Vegetable chips. You’ve probably seen veggie chips in the supermarket. Though they sound healthy, they’re really just the same as potato chips. If you want something healthy with a snap, opt for carrot sticks.
  4. Trail mix. Most trail mixes are made with salted nuts, dried fruit and candies. Unsalted nuts are totally healthy. Salted nuts, on the other hand, are not so great. And dried fruits should be eaten sparingly; they tend to be very calorie dense. Because dried fruits are so small, we eat a lot of them – but they have just as many calories as their fresh counterparts. Moreover, sugar is often added to dried fruit. The chocolates and candies added to trail mix make things go from bad to worse.
  5. Energy bars. Unless you’re on a hike or engaged in a high endurance activity, most energy bars aren’t a smart choice. Just take a look at the ingredients; the first ingredient is almost always some form of sugar (or sugar disguised as “brown rice syrup” or “agave”).
  6. Smoothies. Just because a drink is called a smoothie doesn’t mean it’s healthy. On a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, I drank a so-called “smoothie” made with whole milk and ice cream. For a healthy smoothie, only order real fruit smoothies made with a base of unsweetened almond milk. It will minimize sugar and calories and maximize the good stuff.
  7. Muffins. Yup, even bran muffins. Most muffins are made with tons of sugar and butter, though there are healthier options available if you’re willing to look. The other problem with muffins is that many of them are HUGE – and can pack upwards of 800 calories.

The bottom line is that it’s important to look before you eat. Read the nutrition information. Scan the ingredients. It’s really the only way to get the full story on the foods you eat.

Were you surprised by any of the foods listed above? Let me know in the comments below. And if you know of any other surprisingly unhealthy foods, share them with us!


How Much Water Should You Drink?

tumblr_m28bi2R0JD1qj4hmpo1_500As I’ve mentioned before, drinking enough water is absolutely essential. Aside from keeping your body functioning properly, water can boost your metabolism, clear up your skin and even help curb hunger. And that’s just for starters.

So just how much water should you drink each day? It depends. The answer is dependent on a number of factors including gender, activity level, environment, health conditions and whether or not you’re pregnant or nursing.

While most of us have heard that we need to drink eight glasses of water a day, the reality is a bit different. According to the Mayo Clinic, men should aim for about 13 cups of water per day (3 liters) and women should drink 9 cups (2.2 liters). It’s a bit more than what we’ve been taught in the past.

If you exercise, you’ll need to consume more liquid – and possibly a sports drink (or something with sodium) to replenish electrolytes. The amount that you’ll need depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise performed.

Moreover, the environment plays a big factor. If it’s hot or humid, it’s important to replace liquids lost from sweating. Higher altitudes will also cause increased urination; additional liquid consumption is advised.

And, of course, many illnesses and health conditions require additional liquids. As does pregnancy or nursing.

But if you’re looking for a simple tip to help get your daily water intake, pick yourself up two, 1-liter water bottles (or three, 1-liter bottles if you’re a guy). On the bottles, mark a water goal for each hour or two. As your day progresses, make sure you’ve kept up to the goal. You can keep the bottles in a refrigerator or even just nearby on your desk. By the end of the day, you’ll have consumed the full amount.

It’s a really easy tip to help build a healthy water habit!

7 Tips: Healthy Vacation Eating.

HealthWatch-06_10For the last 31 days, I’ve been jet-setting around the globe on a world tour to meet fans and to film content. Incredible as the tour was, from a health perspective, 31 days of eating in restaurants, planes, food courts and cafes posed a real challenge for my body.

So, I created a strategy. And spoiler alert, it worked.

Here are the 7 rules that I created for myself:

  1. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. I can’t stress this enough. Water has so many amazing and wonderful benefits including clearer skin, increased productivity, decreased cancer risk – and even a metabolic boost. Drink more. Weigh less.
  2. Eat for fuel, not pleasure. Okay, this one is a bit tricky. I don’t like the idea that eating healthy means forgoing flavor. There are tons of healthy, delicious and nutritious meals – especially if you’re cooking at home. When traveling, it’s a bit more difficult. So I prioritize the nutritional value of food over its flavor. Sure, pizza would be delicious. But a colorful salad topped with grilled chicken is what my body reallt needs. You don’t have to love the way every meal tastes. But you’ll certainly love the way it makes you feel – and that counts for a whole lot more.
  3. Look for the 12 unhealthy restaurant menu words. Anything that says Alfredo, pan-fried, crispy, battered, au gratin, etc. doesn’t belong in your stomach. Instead, clue into words like steamed, grilled, broiled or baked. In general, they’ll point your toward healthier food choices.
  4. Stock up on high-fiber fruit. When we traveled for my tour, we really didn’t stay in any one city long enough to go grocery shopping or to prepare meals on our own. But I did find a few minutes to sneak out to a local convenience or grocery store and buy some high-fiber fruits like apples. Because fiber is slow to digest, an apple snack is a great way to curb your hunger. When you do go out to eat, you’re much less likely to overeat.
  5. Don’t drink your calories. Okay, you’ve heard this one before. But consider how many more calories are packed into restaurant meals versus what you’d be cooking at home. All the extra butter, cheese and grease doesn’t help – not to mention extra large portion size. It’s possible to offset some of those additional calories by sticking to water as a beverage of choice. The only exception would be a nutrition-packed drink, such as a real fruit smoothie made with an unsweetened almond milk base (versus an apple juice base which is loaded in sugar and calories).
  6. Customize your meals. Don’t order exactly as it is from the menu. Most restaurants are happy to make substitutions. Cut out the mayo. Ask for the dressing on the side. Get a sandwich without cheese. Ask for dry toast. Substitute a side item for salad or steamed vegetables. Get brown rice instead of white. While small, each of these substitutions will instantly upgrade your meal.
  7. Pay attention. It’s not about starving yourself or going crazy, but it is about paying attention to the food that goes into your body. Make each food decision consciously and deliberately. This doesn’t mean avoiding gelato in Italy, but it might mean enjoying a few spoonfuls rather than a whole container.

As a bonus tip, it’s important to be realistic. Traveling and eating healthy are real challenges, and so it’s not a good time to embark on a diet or weight loss plan. It’s more about minimizing the damage or trying to maintain your current level. And good nutritional habits should be complemented with good exercise habits. Even while traveling – or, especially while you’re traveling – go to the gym to prevent muscle mass loss and to burn off those extra calories.