Nutrition

What you do in the kitchen is just as important as what you do in the gym. To effectively achieve your fitness goals, proper nutrition is an absolute must!

Does Blending Make Foods Healthier?

Dear Davey,

I’ve seen so many infomercials for blenders that claim to “unlock” nutrients that our bodies aren’t otherwise able to absorb. Is there any truth to this claim and should I be blending more fruits and vegetables?

Thank you,
Sean

more-men-are-learning-about-the-power-of-a-freshly-made-green-smoothieDear Sean,

Getting a nutrition education from infomercials isn’t a good idea. As you can imagine, infomercials are designed to sell products and not to educate consumers. Often citing unpublished or unscientific studies, these infomercials create unsubstantiated marketing hype that’s aimed at getting you to open your wallet.

When it comes to blenders, nutritionists note that the “unlocking” claims are unsubstantiated. Blending foods doesn’t release nutrients in a way that your body couldn’t otherwise accomplish. In fact, our bodies are better than blenders. During digestion, food is broken down far more effectively than any blender could achieve. Moreover, these broad claims would need to be tested ingredient by ingredient, and the results would likely change from person to person based on their activity levels, age and diet.

The notable exception is individuals who suffer from throat or digestion conditions that prevent ingestion of solid foods; for these individuals, blenders can represent a huge advantage.

Of course, none of this is to say that you shouldn’t buy a blender. If the convenience and taste of blended foods inspires you to eat more fruits and vegetables, then a blender can certainly be a smart and worthwhile purchase. Just remember that blended calories add up fast. To cut calories, use water or unsweetened almond milk as your smoothie base and avoid adding sweeteners like agave nectar or honey. Go heavy on the veggies and stay away from smoothies made with ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Love,Davey

P.S. For more science-based tips on improving your diet, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

 

Is Breakfast REALLY The Most Important Meal Of The Day?

largeWhen we hear something over and over again, we tend to accept it as true. Case in point, most people think coffee is made from beans. In actuality, it’s made from seeds. While that’s a silly example, it’s always worth questioning conventional wisdom.

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But is it really?

A few recent studies are starting to cast doubts, including new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For the study, researchers from the University of Bath recruited 33 men and women and broke them into two groups. One group at a substantial breakfast before 11AM and the other group skipped breakfast entirely. Researchers recorded data including resting metabolic rate, cholesterol and blood glucose over a six week period.

What were the results?

As it turns out, researchers didn’t really find any measurable differences between the two groups. Breakfast skippers consumed fewer total calories over the course of the day. However, they also burned fewer total calories when compared to the breakfast eaters. Blood glucose was also very similar, though slightly more stable for the breakfast eaters.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that skipping breakfast is smart. Other studies have found that skipping breakfast increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 27% due to the likely connections between extended fasting, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance.

So, what’s the takeaway?

This newest study shows that there’s still a lot that we don’t understand. And while fueling our bodies with nourishing foods is important, some of the assumptions that we’ve made about breakfast might not necessarily be true.

Study: Eating Out Adds 200 Calories Per Day…

t1larg.fastfoodWhether it’s going to your favorite fast food establishment or eating a sit down meal at a restaurant, researchers have found that dining out adds an average of 200 calories per day to your diet.

The study, which was recently published in Public Health Nutrition, surveyed some 12,000 individuals on two separate days. According to the data, the calorie boost was greater for low income individuals and people who identified as black. High income individuals saw the smallest increase in calories; researchers speculate that higher income individuals may have better access to resources and healthier (but often more expensive) food options.

It’s no secret that fast food and restaurant meals are often more calorie-dense than home-cooked meals. But researchers noted that on days when individuals ate out, they didn’t adjust their calorie intake accordingly. In other words, if you know you’re eating out for dinner, compensate for the extra calories with an especially healthy lunch. It can help mitigate the damage.

Beyond calories, restaurant and fast food eating also resulted in more saturated fats, sugar and salt.

This data clearly demonstrates the impact of typical restaurant meals on our diets. But the choice doesn’t need to be between eating out and proper nutrition. There are certainly steps that each of us can take to ensure healthier restaurant meals. Like drinking water instead of sugary drinks or alcohol. And sticking with baked or broiled options rather than foods that are fried, creamy or breaded. Research restaurants online (some have more healthy options than others) and ask your server for substitutes.

200 calories might not sound like a lot, but when those calories are consumed several days a week, 52 weeks a year – they add up to an alarmingly large number. Be aware of the foods you eat and make smarter decisions whenever possible!

5 Tips: Mindful Eating to Lose Weight & Improve Health.

89696614I’m not a big fan of diets and restrictions.

In fact, I don’t think that a healthy lifestyle is about less. It’s about more; it’s about an abundance of colorful, nourishing foods and a full array of flavors. It’s about freeing your body from excessive fat and living the life you’ve always wanted.

One powerful step in losing weight and improving your health is mindfulness. At first glance, it can sound like a lot of new age gimmickry and wishful thinking. But mindfulness is a change in perspective that opens up new dimensions in your life.

Albert Einstein once said that you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. By practicing mindfulness, you’re able to see the world anew – rather than simply treating the symptoms of an underlying problem.

Here are five ways to practice mindfulness from farm to tummy:

  1. Be mindful of where your food comes from. Is eating sacred? I think so. After all, it’s through food that we fuel our bodies to experience this tremendous gift of life. Without food, there is no life. In some ways, the food we eat is an offering to our bodies – not unlike an offering that a pilgrim might make at a temple. When food is viewed in this light, the source of your food – and knowing how it is grown or handled – can become increasingly important. While organic foods may or may not be healthier (the debate is ongoing), there’s an energetic benefit in knowing that your food is grown in a sustainable way.
  2. Be mindful of what your food contains. Ignorance is not bliss, especially when it comes to the foods you eat. By paying attention to the nutrition labels on product packaging, you’ll be more knowledgeable about the foods you eat – and better able to make informed, smart choices. Beyond saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugars and so on, it’s important to read the list of ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, do you really want it inside your body?
  3. Be mindful of how you prepare your food. Whether I’m cooking for just myself or some friends or family, I make cooking an act of love. In fact, I even bought a so-called gratitude board. While it looks and works just like a cutting board, a gratitude board is a reminder to give thanks for the food you are preparing. With gratitude and love in mind, it becomes much easier to make wiser food choices. Moreover, mindfulness of food preparation carries over to restaurant eating. When dining out, mindfulness helps ensure that your food choices support your goals.
  4. Be mindful in your eating ritual. There are many ways to be mindful while eating. First, it’s about saying grace. If you feel silly offering a prayer over the food you’re eating (like a Twinkie, for example), then do you really want to eat it? Second, it’s about being aware of the food you’re actually eating. Rather than mindlessly munching in front of a television, enjoy the eating experience without distractions; you’ll be less likely to overeat.
  5. Be mindful of how your food makes you feel. When you swallow your food, your body is just getting started. How do you feel after you eat? Though fried foods may taste good, they probably make your body feel sluggish or slow and unmotivated. Similarly, soda can spike your blood sugar and can cause highs and lows. Evaluate how your body feels, and make this part of the eating experience. By paying attention to how you feel after eating, you may notice that your crave unhealthy foods less and less.

What are some of the ways that you bring mindfulness to eating? Let me know in the comments below! And for more information, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter!

What Does Percent Daily Value Mean On Food Labels?

Dear Davey,

I’m so confused by the percentages listed on nutrition labels. How can something have 140% of a nutrient? That doesn’t even make sense. Please explain what these numbers mean.

From,
Jordan

man_reading_labels_t540People are often confused by the percentages listed on food labels. So here’s the deal.

These percentages are called daily values and they are a guide to the nutrients in one serving of a given food. For example, a cup of milk might have 30% of your daily value of calcium. That means, in theory, you’ll need to get another 70% of your daily value of calcium through other foods to meet your body’s daily biochemical needs.

When a serving contains 140% of a nutrient, it means that you’ve exceeded the recommended daily intake by 40%. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 1,000 mg of that nutrient, a 140% listing means that the serving contains 1,400 mg of that nutrient.

Makes sense, right?

It’s very important to note that these standards are based on a 2,000 calorie diet and are set by the FDA and don’t differentiate on the basis of age, sex, medical condition, etc. Because nutrition isn’t a one size fits all approach, your actual daily needs may vary from these recommendations; they are simply meant as a very general guide.

You’ll also notice that there’s not a daily value for trans fat or sugar. That’s because experts recommend avoiding trans fats and minimizing added sugars for optimal health.

Exceeding your body’s daily needs for fat, cholesterol and sodium may put your health at risk. As such, using the daily values on nutrition labels can help you identify smarter food choices.

As I mentioned before, your daily nutritional needs may be quite different from the daily values listed on food labels. My mother, for example, has high blood pressure; her doctor recommends strict limits on the amount of sodium she eats. An endurance athlete may consume 3,000 or 4,000 calories a day; his or her daily nutritional needs will be very different.

If you have any questions about how much of a nutrient you need, just ask your healthcare provider for more detailed guidance. And for more information, check out 5 things to look for on nutrition labels.

Love,
Davey