Archive for the tag - diet

Are Miracle Noodles Safe?

Hey Davey!

Recently my mom brought home this newer product called “Miracle Noodles”. They are a calorie and gluten free “noodle” that, apparently, Japanese woman eat to stay thin. I tried them and must admit that they are quite good. The only thing that worries me is the fact that they have no nutritional value whatsoever. Have you seen them or tried them? And if so (or even, if not) what are your thoughts on them? Should they be consumed despite the fact they have no nutritional value at all?

Thanks,
Mercedes

Hey Mercedes,

The so-called “miracle noodles” have been traditionally known as shirataki noodles. The noodles are made from the corm of a plant that is sometimes called the elephant yam – though it’s not actually related to the yam family. The resulting flour is mixed with water or other juices and powders to form slaps that are cut into the thin noodle strips.

Containing about 6 calories per kilo, shirataki noodles contain glucomannan – a water-soluble polysaccharide that is considered a dietary fiber. Like other fibers, it’s great for your bowels and helps alleviate constipation. Moreover, because the fiber is water soluble, the noodles expand in your stomach. This helps dieters feel full.

While some dieters may find this carb-free, nearly calorie-free noodle appealing (especially individuals on carbohydrate-restrictive diets), it’s important to consider a few things. For individuals that overeat, consuming large quantities of nutritionally devoid foods doesn’t help treat the core issue of overeating. In some ways, it’s a shortsighted approach. And since the noodles contain so few nutrients, eating large quantities (at the expense of other foods) can result in malnutrition.

I don’t eat shirataki noodles because they are terribly bland and tasteless. I much prefer eating a balanced diet of foods that are both nourishing and delicious. Having said that, if you find a recipe that you enjoy, there’s nothing wrong with eating shirataki noodles in moderation. However, it’s important to ensure you’re getting your nutrients elsewhere.

Love,
Davey Wavey

Nutrition Advice: Just Change One Thing.

Small changes add up to big results.

Big results are the sum total of many small changes that we make day after day.

A few years ago, my dad decided to eat an ice cream snack before bed each night. At a few hundred calories per portion, the sum total of this seemingly small change added up quickly. At nearly 10,000 calories per month, this extra dessert transformed my father’s body with extra fat – and all the accompanying health issues.

While my dad’s situation illustrates the transformative power of negative changes, the same is true with positive changes.

Earlier in the year, I realized that my staple vegetable was the potato. As many as 10 times per week, I’d bake frozen french fries to accompany my home cooked meals. I ate baked fries with sandwiches, burgers, chicken and just about anything and everything else.

Since I was in good shape, I didn’t think much of it – until I realized how few other vegetables I was consuming. So, I bought a steamer, some veggies – and then ditched the frozen fries. To be honest, I’ve never looked back; dramatically reducing my french fry consumption is the single greatest nutrition-related decision that I’ve made in the last five years. I feel healthier, my body is leaner and I’ve discovered a cornucopia of delicious and health flavors. The thing is, the change to my diet was so small. Almost unnoticeable.

I say all of this to inspire you to take a critical look at your own diet. While it might not be ice cream or french fries, there is undoubtedly ample opportunity for you to make a small but significant change in the way you eat. Maybe it’s the daily unhealthy breakfast drink from the local cafe (swap it with green tea), that muffin you always grab (a banana will do nicely instead) or the bag of chips that you usually eat with lunch (easily replaceable with carrot sticks).

Just make one small change in the way you eat and keep it up for several months. I know that you’ll be astounded by the results.

In the comments below, identify the one change that you can make in your diet… and with what you’ll replace it. I’ll send three random commentators a free copy of my Davey Wavey nutrition program just for sharing!

Where Calories Come From: Top 15 Sources of Calories.

Pizza: an American food group.

Last month, we looked at the top sources of sodium – and how it’s possible to cut back on our salt intake. Today, let’s look at the top calorie sources for the average American male. By examining where our calories are coming from, we can restructure our diet to support our fitness goals and overall health.

Here’s how the list breaks down per day, according to the National Cancer Institute:

  1. Alcohol drinks: 162 calories
  2. Yeast breads: 161 calories
  3. Cakes, cookies, pies, etc.: 157 calories
  4. Soda: 157 calories
  5. Chicken: 148 calories
  6. Pizza: 122 calories
  7. Tortillas, burritos, tacos and nachos: 115 calories
  8. Beef steaks: 89 calories
  9. Pasta: 77 calories
  10. Burgers: 71 calories
  11. Hot dogs, bacon, sausage and ribs: 69 calories
  12. Dairy desserts: 62 calories
  13. French fries: 62 calories
  14. Chips: 60 calories
  15. Nuts and seeds: 59 calories

Obviously, this list would vary from person to person and culture to culture – so you’re top 15 might look very different.

Having said that, if you’re looking to cut back on calories (i.e., to facilitate the calorie deficit required for weight loss), then numbers 1 and 4 are a great place to start. Alcohol and soda might taste great, but they’re filled with empty calories; they add to your waistline and don’t contribute any nourishment to your body. And, of course, it’s not about eliminating these things altogether if they’re something you enjoy – it’s just about drinking one glass instead of two, or consuming a little less.

Cakes, cookies and pies – coming in at number 3 – are also easy to reduce. Opt for smaller slices or seek out healthier dessert options. Fresh berries, for example, are just as delicious and much more nutritious!

For me, the biggest shocker on the list is pizza. According to the researchers, the typical American male eats 122 calories from pizza each day. That’s more than 44,000 calories per year – the equivalent of more than 12 pounds of body fat. I love pizza as much as the next guy, but I also realize that it’s a special treat. Instead of eating pizza every week, I usually splurge once a month. And instead of eating the entire pizza, I just go for a few slices. It’s an easy area to cut back.

It would be great to see nuts (number 15) higher on the list, and it would be even better to see fruits and vegetables make the cut. Maybe next year? I’m not holding my breath. 😛

How does this list compare to your diet? What are some of the areas in which you can cut back?

How to Make Your Kitchen Sacred.

In a few hours, I’m heading out on a week-long pilates adventure in the south of France. My summer reading is (finally getting through) Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss. It’s a spiritual approach to weight loss, and one that resonates with me as someone that was once overweight. If losing weight was just a matter of nutrition and exercise, all of us would be at our ideal weights. Weight loss, for most people, is a spiritual issue.

In the book, Williamson recommends creating an altar to love in your home. According to Williamson, we already have an elaborate altar for fear: Our kitchens. And it’s filled with cabinets, pots, counters, foods, pans and appliances. For many people, the kitchen is the headquarters for some of our deepest fears. By creating an altar for love, we invite transformative energy and true power into our lives.

Interestingly, I already have a love altar in my home. I sits on a small shelf and contains a few candles, some quote books, a small Buddha and a jar containing wishes, dreams and hopes that I’ve written onto paper. It’s a very real way to make love more present in my life.

Moreover, Williamson asks her readers to make their kitchens sacred by reciting the following prayer:

Dear God,
I dedicate this room to You.
May only love prevail here.
May fear have power no more,
in my heart, in my body, or in my house.
Amen

While some of Williamson’s language is a bit too religious for my own belief set, I understand the concept. If we view our kitchens as a sacred space that is used to nourish our bodies, we’re less likely to stock its shelves with foods that poison on our bodies – like sugary snacks, chips, soda, etc.

Smudging, which involves burning sage over a bowl, is a technique used by Native Americans to purify a space of negative spirits or energy. For the more adventurous and open-minded, Williamson believes it’s a worthwhile strategy to employ in your kitchen.

It reminds me of a story that I once heard called called Anna’s Box. It went something like this:

Many years ago a young child grew up watching her mother prepare their family meals. And towards the end of her food preparation she noticed that her mother Anna would always reach up over the stove and bring down this beautifully carved old box. Anna would open the box and take a pinch of the ingredients out and add this to the food. The young child asked her mother, “What is in the box?” Her mother would always reply, “An old family recipe – a family secret.” She watched her mother repeat this ritual many times over the years that followed. When the young child was grown with a daughter of her own, she was given the carved box upon her mother’s death. She, too, performed the daily ritual of Anna’s box, and told her young daughter that it’s a family secret. The young daughter was very curious about the contents of this magical box and could hardly wait to find out its mysterious secrets. The years passed and she forgot about the special box.

Then one day, many years later, her mother passed on – and she inherited the carved box. She was so excited to finally receive this box; she held it gently almost afraid to finally discover its hidden secrets. With held breath she opened it only to find it empty. This can not be she exclaimed. She lovingly closed the lid and smiled. She now realized that the box did contain a secret recipe. It was a recipe for the love a person has for her family – a reminder to cook with love. It was the action of looking into the box and remembering to add a pinch of love to every dish prepared that created the magic of Anna’s box.

Replacing fear with love, for many people, really has everything to do with releasing extra body weight. It’s very easy to talk about diets, nutrition and exercise – but sometimes we treat the symptoms without addressing the true problem.

Does Williamson’s advice resonate with you? Or is it too “out there” or extreme? Let me know in the comments below.

Adjusting Caloric Intake for Exercise.

Hi Davey,

I’m trying to lose weight and get into better shape and was wondering about calorie consumption.

If I burn 220 calories after a cardio workout, do I have to eat an extra 220 calories to make-up for the workout?

Thank you,
Jen 🙂

Hey Jen,

Thanks for the question.

Since your goal is to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. In other words, your body needs to use and burn more calories than you are consuming. While some of this deficit can be created through better nutrition and decreased portions, the best way to create a calorie deficit is through exercise.

You might be aiming for a 400 or 500 calorie deficit, and the 220 calories burned during your workout can be part of that deficit. In other words, you wouldn’t need to increase your calorie intake to make up for it.

If, on the other hand, you’re burning 800 or 900 calories at the gym – which far exceeds your targeted calorie deficit of 400 or 500 calories, then you do need to increase your caloric intake.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to aim for weight loss of 1/2 to 1 pound per week. If you’re losing weight faster than that, adjust your calorie deficit according (i.e., eat more or exercise a bit less).

If, instead of losing weight, you were trying to maintain or build mass – then, yes, you’d need to increase your caloric intake to make up for the calories burned during your workout.

I hope that clears things up!

Love,
Davey

It’s Called Balance – Not Cheating!

An equally delicious country boy special of a different sort.

Yesterday, before filming a BlogTV show with my friend Mike, we hit up one of the local diners. The menu was pretty much devoid of healthy options – and I decided to embrace it. I opted for the “Country Boy Special” complete with 2 eggs, 2 slices of toast, 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausages, 2 pancakes and home fries. I think it might more appropriately have been called the the “Coronary Carbohydrate Conundrum.”

As someone who generally eats healthy – and does my best to adhere to a lower carbohydrate nutrition plan – some might think that my indulgence was cheating. I hear people use that term all the time when talking about their diets. Every cupcake or milkshake or bacon cheeseburger is viewed as a deep betrayal. And while I understand where the idea comes from, I have to disagree.

When I eat something that’s unhealthy, I don’t look at it as cheating. For me, it’s balance.

And truth be told, when it comes to nutrition and fitness, no one individual choice has much of an impact. It’s the cumulative effect of many choices – made over and over again – that add up. Like going to the gym every other day for a year. Or eliminating ice cream as a dessert for six month. One “Country Boy Special” every now and again isn’t going to have much of a measurable impact.

Moreover, balance makes nutrition sustainable. If I had to go through life without ever eating a pancake, I’d be a very miserable and cranky human being. I don’t need a pancake every day, and when I do eat one, I don’t need to consume six. But a pancake every now and then – if that’s why you crave and enjoy – can be a very good thing. Especially if helps make your larger nutrition plan more sustainable, and helps keep you on track.

I refuse to feel guilt or shame about my eating choices and I encourage you to do the same. I think those negative emotions drag down our bodies and our spirits, and tend to backfire. I’m quite content with my “Country Boy Special” and the balance that it helped me strike.

Drinking Cold Water Makes Fat Solidify?

I recently discovered an email that has been circulating for a number of few years. Based on Eastern dietary habits of drinking warm tea with meals, it warns readers not to drink cold water while eating:

It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this “sludge” reacted with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we’ll save at least one life.

The email went viral, and the rest is history – but is it true?

Absolutely not. For one, the reaction of cold water with food in the stomach doesn’t result  in solidification. The human body is very warm – and any temperature differences are quickly nullified. Moreover, by the time our food has entered into the intestine, it’s not solid thanks to the efficiency of our digestion process.

The email goes on to claim that oils turn into fats – though, in actuality, oils are fats. And they neither stick to the intestine nor cause cancer. However, higher levels of body fat and obesity do increase the risk of cancer, though this isn’t mitigated (in any way, shape or form) by drinking warm water or tea.

Though this email has spread like wildfire, it’s 100% untrue.

5 Tricks: How to Lose 5 Pounds & Lean Up for Summer.

How to lean up for summer...

Not everyone is looking to drop a significant amount of weight. With summer just around the corner, a lot of people are looking to just drop a few pounds and increase their definition. And for other people who have already lost weight, those last few pounds can be particularly pesky and stubborn.

If you’re looking to lose 5, 10 or 15 pounds, know that it’s best done through a combination of both increased exercise and modified diet. No surprise there, but here are a few helpful tricks:

  1. Evaluate your goal. Do you really need to lose those 5 pounds? For people that have already lost weight, maybe the quality of your life has already improved. Is another 5 pounds really necessary? Leaning up – even if it’s just a few pounds – requires changes in lifestyle. It’s not always worth the effort, and is often only temporarily sustainable. If you really do want to drop those extra pounds, keep reading.
  2. Increase your workout oomph. Pumping up the fitness side of the equation is important, and it can be done by increasing the frequency of your workouts (i.e., go to the gym 5x a week instead of 3 or 4), boosting the intensity of your exercise (i.e., running faster, steeper inclines, etc.), changing the type of exercise (i.e., swapping out biking for running intervals), or increasing the time spent exercising. A small change in your workout’s frequency, intensity, type, or duration will add up over the course of several weeks.
  3. Pick a diet plan, and stick to it. Basically, you can either reduce your carbohydrate intake or decrease your overall caloric intake. Both work. It’s just a matter of finding which works for you. If you love your burgers and steaks, a low-carb diet may make more sense. If you’re unwilling to give up bread and pasta, a low calorie diet is probably a better fit.
  4. Eliminate hidden carb/calorie sources. If you are decreasing your overall caloric intake, be mindful of portion sizes. Plates can be deceiving (big plates make portions look smaller!), and so measuring your food is a safe and fool-proof bet. Both carb and calorie counters must both pay special attention to beverages, as they’re often a hidden source of empty calories and carbohydrates. Yes, that means no soda, sweetened iced tea or lemonade. Cheeses, dips, spreads and salad dressings can also be hidden calorie bombs. But remember – there are plenty of delicious healthy choices for you to eat, and it makes a lot more sense to focus on what you can consume rather than what you can’t.
  5. Drink lots of water. I sound like a broken record player when I espouse the benefits of hydration. But drink, drink, drink your daily allotment of water. It will keep your metabolism racing, and a glass or two before a meal will help curb your appetite.

There really isn’t any secret to losing 5, 10 or 15 pounds of stubborn body fat. It just requires some time (give yourself 4 weeks for every 5-ish pounds) and dedication. For some extra help, download my Ultimate Guide to Working Out. Use promo code “summer” during checkout to save $10 before March 12.

Are you trying to lose a small amount of stubborn body fat? What’s your current approach to releasing the weight? Tell me about it in the comments below.

YES: Spicy Food Really Does Help You Lose Weight!

Yesterday, I was talking with my good friend Jessica. She’s teaching English in Korea, and we were professing our shared love for a Korean food called kimchi. It’s basically a spicy pickled cabbage – and though it doesn’t sound great to most westerners, it’s delicious!

Jessica mentioned that some Koreans believe kimchi possesses special powers. We both laughed, but then she mentioned that those special powers include weight loss. I told Jessica that there’s probably some truth to this belief, as numerous studies have connected spiciness to weight loss.

According to the research, spicy foods do play a small but relatively significant role in losing weight. One study divided obese dieters into two groups. One group consumed spicy and flavored foods while the other group did not. The spicy dieters lost 30 pounds in 6 months, while the control group lost 2 pounds. Another study that was published in Physiology and Behavior looked at the effects of spices such as red chili pepper, capsaicin, black pepper, and ginger on metabolism and weight loss. Turns out, the spices boosted the metabolism of the dieters and increased the rate at which fat was burned.

Beyond the metabolism-boosting benefits of spicy foods, researchers speculate that adding spices to otherwise healthy but often bland foods (like veggies) may make those foods more appealing. It’s also speculated that dieters consume less of a spicy food, and that smaller portions are more satisfying for our taste buds.

The bottom line: Adding some cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, black pepper, chilies, hot peppers, etc. can be a great compliment to your diet or nutrition program. And if you haven’t tried kimchi, you gotta.

Low-Carb Vs. Low-Fat Diet: Which Is Better?

What does it take to release weight and look more like this? A low-carb diet? A low-calorie diet? Turns out... either!

If you want to lose weight, you’re faced with the difficult decision of deciding which diet you’ll embrace. For most of us, there are mainly two types of diets: Diets that restrict carbohydrate intake (think Atkins) and diets that limit calorie/fat consumption.

There has been a lot of recent research on the effectiveness of both types of diets – and a number of studies have compared low-carb and low-fat dieters. One such multi-center study followed low-carb and low-fat dieters for two years. In addition to the dietary restrictions, dieters were given exercise routines and support. At the end of the study, both groups of dieters lost the same amount of weight: an average of 24.2 pounds. Moreover, for the most part, their health parameters were nearly identical.

Other studies have concluded similar findings. Both diets are very effective, especially when combined with exercise and support. So, it’s not really a matter of which diet works – it’s a matter of which diet works for you.

What foods can’t you live without? If pasta and bread come to mind, then low-carb diets probably aren’t sustainable or realistic. You’ll probably opt for a low-fat or low-calorie diet that limits portions of what you’re already eating. If you can’t give up that juicy steak, maybe a low-carb diet is a better approach. And if you can’t give up either the pasta or steak, you’re just screwed (just kidding – even low-carb diets allow for some carbohydrate intake. You can have pasta, just smaller portions and less frequently).

So, if you’re embarking on a weight loss journey, take some time to determine what diet works best for you. And since no two individuals are alike, the diet that works for you may be different than the diet that works for your partner, spouse or friend. It’s about finding a diet that feels sustainable and realistic for you.