Archive for the tag - nutrition

How to Get Skinny: 13 Rules.

masl09b_eat_skinny_foodsI think “athletic” or “healthy” are more worthwhile goals than the pursuit of skinniness, but let’s face it – “skinny” is a popular fitness goal to which many people aspire. So if you are looking to slim down and drop some body fat, I’ve put together these simple and straightforward guidelines:

  1. Reduce (or eliminate) added sugar. Even though sugar provides virtually no nutritional benefits, Americans eat 500 calories of a day worth of added sugar. Cut it out.
  2. Don’t deprive yourself of unhealthy foods you love. The more you try to resist unhealthy foods, the more you think about unhealthy foods – and the more you crave them. Allow yourself an occasional treat to break the cycle. It’s about balance.
  3. Cook your own meals. You’ll know exactly what goes into the foods you eat.
  4. If you do eat out, avoid the watch words. Don’t order foods that are described as crispy, fried, creamed, crunchy, battered, bottomless, giant, loaded, cheesy or breaded.
  5. And if you do eat out, opt for steamed vegetables as your side.
  6. Seep well. People who don’t get enough sleep consume more calories.
  7. Start your day with a real breakfast. Boiled eggs, no sugar added cereals, fruits and Greek yogurt all count. Danishes, doughnuts, pastries or a cup of coffee do not.
  8. Replace simple carbs with complex carbs. That means substituting white rice with brown rice and white bread with whole wheat bread.
  9. Get 30+ grams of fiber a day. 95% of Americans don’t get enough fiber; eat fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. In addition to many other important benefits, fiber helps you feel fuller longer.
  10. Don’t drink your calories. High calorie alcohol beverages or sugar drinks are calorie-dense but devoid of nutrients. Save your calories for foods that nourish your body and keep you feeling full.
  11. Learn to read nutrition labels.
  12. Never eat a food directly from the box or bag. Put it in a bowl; you’ll eat less and avoid the mindless munchies.
  13. Move more. Combine a healthy diet with an active lifestyle and exercise. Take the stairs. Join a gym. Go for a walk.

At its core, losing weight is really about creating a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn. All the above guidelines are helpful in supporting a calorie deficit through nutrition and exercise. So have at it!

Do you have any additional skinny guidelines? Share them in the comments below!

Is It Okay to Cheat on Your Diet Sometimes?

stackOfDoughnutsI get a lot of emails and questions about cheating on a diet or nutrition plan.

First things first, I’m not a big fan of the word “cheating.” It’s a loaded word and one that we often associate with dishonesty in a relationship. After the cheating comes the guilt, and then the guilt inspires nothing but feelings of shame and more negativity. Such downward cycles can be very destructive in any aspect of life – and food is no exception.

In fact, many people turn to food as a way to soothe and comfort, and thus the very act of cheating can create a cycle of binging, unhealthy choices and even more guilt. And even more binging.

You get the idea.

Instead of giving yourself cheat days, I’ve always said that it’s really about creating balance. Most of the time, eat the nourishing foods that your body needs. Eat the lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains that provide the nutrients and energy to fuel your life. And then some of the time, indulge in those foods that you crave.

I’ve always espoused the 80/20 rule for newbies. Eat healthy 80% of the time. It’s a great way to create balance in your life. After all, if you resist an unhealthy food that you crave – you’ll probably just crave it even more. The more you say to yourself, “I can’t eat ice cream,” the more you’re thinking about ice cream. And the more you think about ice cream, the more you’ll crave it.

Here’s the catch. Pay attention to how your body feels after the indulgence. How does your body feel after you eat the ice cream? Even without feelings of guilt or shame, our bodies don’t respond well to unhealthy foods. You may feel sluggish, tired or even slightly ill. When you pay attention to how unhealthy foods make your body feel, you may discover that you crave those unhealthy foods a little less.

Over time, the 80/20 rule may even become the 90/10 rule. Who knows?

In the comments below, share your favorite cheat balance food. Mine is pepperoni pizza. Mmm.

What Does the “All Natural” Food Label Mean?

label-100-natural_300If you’ve ever looked around a grocery story, you’ve probably noticed the ubiquitous “all natural” label on a wide range of food products. From Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to juice drinks and cookies, the label is everywhere. But what does it really mean? And does it signify some sort of health benefit?

According to the USDA (which regulates meats and poultry), a food can be labeled “all natural” if it contains:

No artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product.

For meats, it’s pretty clear. All natural meats aren’t tampered with between the slaughterhouse and the supermarket, but it’s not an assessment of how the animal was raised or fed (i.e., “all natural” isn’t synonymous with organic or grass fed).

Beyond meat and poultry, everything else is regulated by the FDA. And here’s where things start to get murky. According to the FDA:

From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ … [The] FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

In other words, marketers and manufacturers can really use “all natural” any way they want. It tells consumers very little about the product they’re about to consume. So don’t be fooled. Instead, pay attention to a product’s ingredients, its nutrition information (i.e., calories, saturated fat, sugar, etc.) and the serving size.

Though the “all natural” label is marketing gold, it’s extremely misleading for consumers – and hopefully something that the FDA will address moving forward.

6 Do’s and Don’ts of Post-Workout Nutrition!

post-workout-supplementationWhat you eat after the gym is arguably the most crucial meal of the day. After working out, it’s important to consume the right foods to help your body replenish, repair and rebuild. Doing so will maximize your results.

Here are 6 key do’s and don’ts.

  1. Do take whey protein. Strength training breaks down your muscle fibers. Supplementing with protein gives your body what it needs to rebuild your muscles stronger than before. Whey protein is absorbed quickly by your body (unlike slower proteins like soy, hemp or casein) and so they are the best post-workout choice.
  2. Don’t eat fat – even healthy fats. Because time is of the essence, you don’t want to eat anything that will slow down the absorption of key nutrients. Fat (even good, heart-healthy fat) will slow down digestion, so it’s important to opt for food options without much fat content.
  3. Do consume simple carbohydrates. When taken after a workout, carbohydrates restore muscle glycogen. And if you don’t eat carbs in your post-workout recovery meal, your body may actually breakdown existing muscle for this very same purpose. This is really the only time when simple carbohydrates (a.k.a. the bad carbs like those found in many cereals and fruit juices) are advisable.
  4. Don’t eat foods with lots of fiber. Like fat, fiber slows down the digestion of food. While fiber is an extremely important part of your overall meal plan (especially for people looking to lose weight as it make you feel full), a post-workout meal isn’t the time to include it.
  5. Do favor liquid meals over solid foods. Solid foods are great, nutritious and delicious, but a solid meal tends to be absorbed slowly. Sure, a plate of chicken and potatoes has lots of protein and carbs – but it’s not going to be absorbed as quickly as a shake.
  6. Don’t wait! Did I mention that time is of the essence? Experts agree that sooner is better. If you can, bring your post-workout meal to the gym so that you can consume it immediately after exercising. Don’t let your window of opportunity close!

So, what are some easy suggestions to eat after exercising? I generally opt for a whey protein shake and a banana. You’ll get protein and carbs without fat or much fiber. Acia bowls are another great option. Alternatively, you could mix whey protein powder and dextrose into a post-workout recovery shake.

Share some of your favorite post-workout tips below in the comments below. I look forward to reading them!

9 Fitness Tips That Will Change Your Life.

281685_10151307342800742_1934251453_nPutting a good tip into practice can go a long way in transforming your life.

Today, I’d like to share a few of my favorite exercise and nutrition tips. They’ve worked for me and I know they can work for you, too.

  1. Don’t drink your calories. Most beverages are calorie bombs and often devoid of nutritional value. Save your calories for real food that nourishes your body with the nutrients it needs.
  2. Instead of focusing on long workouts, focus on quality workouts. Unless you’re training for the Olympics, no one needs to spend two or three hours at the gym each day. Use strategies like high intensity interval training and supersets to make the most of your gym time. Be efficient at the gym; it’s quality and not quantity.
  3. Eat carbs. Carbs get a bad rap but the truth is our bodies need them. Instead of eliminating carbs, focus on eating mostly complex carbs like those found in brown rice or whole wheat. Opt for products that list “whole wheat” in their ingredients.
  4. Be consistent. The secret to transforming your body is to consistently combine exercise and nutrition. It’s the little steps – day after day – that add up into a huge change. Think of each workout as a single stone block that you’re using to build a pyramid.
  5. Replace excuses with reasons. All of us can think of excuses to skip the gym or to avoid exercise (i.e., it’s too expensive, too busy, injuries, etc.). Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure; they prevent us from achieving the results we want. Rather than sabotage your life with excuses, shift from a mindset of can’t to a mindset of can by thinking about the reasons to live a healthier lifestyle.
  6. Buy healthy food. It’s really as simple as that. If you don’t stock your pantry with toxic, unhealthy foods, then they won’t be an option to eat. Out of sight, out of mind.
  7. Make exercise fun. Think outside the weight or cardio room by taking class, going rock climbing or engaging in a sport. A healthy and active lifestyle is so much more than the elliptical or free weights – and if you enjoy it, you’re much more likely to keep with it.
  8. Pay attention to ingredients – not packaging. Product packaging is strictly marketing – and words like “fat free” or “reduced calories” or even “multigrain” are extremely misleading. Pay attention to the nutrition information and especially the ingredients. In particular, stay away from foods with added sugar (or sugar in disguise).
  9. Don’t just make goals, evaluate your progress against them. Having a specific goal is great, but routinely measuring your progress against it is even better. If you’re not making headway, change your approach.

What’s your favorite fitness tip? Share it with us in the comments below!

Is It Good to Eat the Same Food Every Day?

Eating the same food everyday is becoming a popular trend.

It means preparing the same breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. Despite the blandness of eating the same foods over and over again, there are a few good reasons for the popularity of this approach.

  1. It’s easy to track. Counting your calories isn’t always easy, and with each new recipe comes new calculations. If you eat the same thing each day, on the other hand, you only need to make your calculations once. It’s easy to craft a diet that meets your caloric needs.
  2. It’s cost-effective. If you have chicken, beans and mixed veggies for dinner each night, then you can buy those items in bulk – thereby saving a significant chunk of change at the grocery store (versus buying individual or smaller portioned items).
  3. It saves time. You don’t have to worry about learning new recipes, wasting time experimenting with new foods or researching nutritional information. And because you’re preparing the same foods each day, you’ll likely become very efficient at it.

While this approach may work for some individuals, I have a few concerns.

For one, there don’t seem to be any real, scientifically-proven health advantages to eating the same foods. In fact, quite the contrary. it’s extremely difficult to prepare a breakfast, lunch and dinner that will meet 100% of all your nutrition needs. Some foods are high in Vitamin A. Others have lots of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Unless you’ve given a lot of time and thought to your set meal plan – or unless it’s prepared by a professional – it’s unlikely to provide all the nutrients you need. As such, it’s very likely that nutritional deficiencies may result from eating the same foods each day.

Second, I think this approach reduces food preparation to something of an assembly line. The focus becomes on efficiency, rather than honoring your body with delicious and healthy foods prepared with time, energy, effort and love. I value my body, and I want to treat it as something special. I want to spoil my body. If that means learning a few new recipes and experimenting with new flavors, then so be it. That’s all part of the fun.

I don’t mind spending a little extra time on my body. After all, it’s the greatest instrument I’ll ever own.

What do you think? Do you think eating the same foods each day makes a lot of sense? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Inside Davey Wavey’s Refrigerator.

I get a lot of emails asking about my diet – and so I thought it would be fun to give a tour of my refrigerator.

The truth is, in the last few years, I’ve made a lot of progress in upgrading my diet. In place of red meat, I’ve opted for leaner choices like turkey and chicken. I’ve added more vegetables to my meals. And I’ve cut down on many processed foods.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look inside my fridge:

  1. Grains. I keep an assortment of whole wheat breads and wraps to get good, complex carbs. Always look for the word “whole” before wheat on nutrition labels and packaging. Wheat or multigrain products aren’t the same. Check out these tips for buying healthy bread.
  2. Fresh cilantro. I love Mexican recipes, and fresh cilantro adds a great flavor to many dishes.
  3. Micro Arugula. Micro or baby greens are typically 4 – 6x higher in nutrients than their full-grown counterparts. In addition to packing an enhanced nutritional punch, they also provide more vivid flavors and textures.
  4. Avocado. Full of heart-healthy fats, avocados are a great condiment or mayo replacement for sandwiches and burgers. It’s also great in salads. Or, you can try my world-famous guacamole recipe. You can even substitute butter with avocado in many recipes.
  5. Sliced turkey. To avoid high-sodium deli meats, I opt for sliced, in-house meats from my grocer. It’s an easy way to reduce you daily sodium intake.
  6. Veggies. I always keep an assortment of fresh vegetables and other produce (like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and red onions) for sandwiches, salads and to use as ingredients in my dishes.
  7. Coconut water. Often called nature’s sports drink, coconut water has more potassium than a banana. It’s a great way to rehydrate yourself after a workout.
  8. Fresh basil. Cut up some tomatoes, mozzarella and basil – and then add a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper – and you have a great appetizer that’s sure to impress.
  9. Radishes. I love the color they add to salads!
  10. Carrot juice. Not as healthy as eating the whole carrot, but a lot more enjoyable – and still loaded with vitamin A.
  11. Soy milk and almond milk. Soy milk and almond milk are flavorful, nutritional alternatives to lactose milk. I think they taste better, and each offer unique benefits. Soy milk has a lot of protein, and almond milk is low in calories.
  12. Leftovers. Because I live alone and because preparing healthy meals takes time and effort, I’m a big fan of making extra and saving the leftovers. Here, I’ve saved steamed vegetables and my new favorite protein-packed veggie burger recipe.
  13. Spirulina. This superfood has a full spectrum of ten mixed carotenoids and can easily be mixed into energy bars, vegetables juices or smoothies.
  14. Alfalfa sprouts. Crunchy and delicious, these sprouts contain a myriad of nutrients including B vitamins and vitamin K. They’re great in salads or on sandwiches.
  15. Tofu. I’m not huge on tofu, but it’s a great alternative to red meat. I’ve found a few recipes that I’ve really enjoyed – and often use tofu in my veggie burgers.
  16. Olives. I absolutely love fresh, Kalamata olives. High in heart-healthy fats, olives contain vitamin E and protect the body against free radicals. Olives are also rich in vitamin A and a whole slew of minerals.
  17. Carrots. Need more veggies in your diet? I replaced chips with carrot sticks as a side dish. They’re surprisingly filling and satisfying, especially with a cup of freshly prepared humus.
  18. Lettuce. You can never have enough lettuce in your crisper! I usually go for darker, richer greens – as those tend to be healthier choices.
  19. Fuji apples. A sweet hybrid apple, this is my favorite choice for healthy snacking. It’s crisp and delicious, and goes well with some freshly ground peanut butter. Yum!

That concludes our tour! Please come again soon!

And, in the comments below, let me know if you’re surprised by anything in (or not in) my refrigerator!

Grocery Shopping with Davey Wavey.

Dear Davey,

I’m curious. What do you buy when you go grocery shopping? I’d love to know!

From,
Sue

Dear Sue,

Your wish is my command!

Actually, my grocery shopping habits have improved greatly over the last few years. I’ve moved away from processed foods, simple carbohydrates, high sugar products and red meat to a healthier diet rich with vegetables, fruits, complex carbs and some lean meat.

In fact, I went shopping yesterday – and took a picture to share my purchases.

Check it out:

Here are the items pictured above:

  • Corn
  • Avocados (for my famous guacamole)
  • Fresh almond nut butter (which is great for snacking with apples or bananas)
  • Hummus
  • Black beans
  • Butternut squash (for vegetable quesadillas)
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Whole grain bread
  • Cheddar, feta and Cotswold cheese
  • Soy milk
  • Organic milk (organic milk is healthier and contains much less saturated fat)
  • Free-range, organic chicken breast
  • Slice turkey meat (for sandwiches)
  • Minimally processed chicken patties (my favorite!) by Applegate Farms
  • Coconut water (it’s a natural alternative to sports drinks – and has more potassium than a banana!)
  • Tortilla chips (for my guacamole)
  • Frozen Brussels sprouts
  • Frozen adamame
  • Apples
  • Vine tomatoes
  • Poblano, Anaheim, yellow and Fresno peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Bananas (my favorite pre-workout energy boost)
  • Brown rice sushi (for lunch)
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Red onion
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic

As you can see, my shopping cart is filled with lots of (mostly) healthy food choices – but it’s not light on flavor. People often think that eating healthy means eating foods that don’t taste good. I couldn’t disagree more. I truly LOVE eating and think that – through smarter shopping – I manage to select colorful, nourishing items without losing any deliciousness. Moreover, this diet helps fuel my active, high-energy lifestyle and supports my fitness goals.

Were you surprised by anything in my shopping cart? Is there anything you plan on doing differently next time you’re at the market? Let me know in the comments below.

Love,
Davey Wavey

10 Tips to Eat More Vegetables.

Did you know that March is national nutrition month? It’s a good reminder to take a critical look at what’s on our plate – and the changes we can all make to support a healthier lifestyle.

At ChooseMyPlate.gov, the government recommends dividing your plate into the following combination of diary, protein, fruits, vegetables and grains. Notice, there’s not a spot for bonbons or ring dings.

Of the five food groups, vegetables tend to get the least amount of love. But they’re also super important – and so to get more vegetables in your diet, nutritionists recommend the following 10 tips:

  1. Discover fast ways to cook. Making a quick lunch or fast dinner? Cooking fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave makes a quick addition to any meal. Instead of opting for potato chips or French fries, steam up some veggies!
  2. Be ahead of the game. Cut or slice up vegetables in advance – and in bulk. Store them in your fridge, and add them to your salads and dishes as needed. It’s convenient and it saves time.
  3. Choose vegetables rich in color. I love brightening my plate with colorful, delicious vegetables. They’re not only beautiful and vibrant, but also full of vitamins and minerals. Try tomatoes, green peppers, yellow peppers, collard greens and more!
  4. Check the freezer aisle. It’s true: Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. And they’re flash frozen at the peak of freshness to maximize flavor. Since they’re frozen, you don’t have to worry about the vegetables spoiling – and it cuts down on waste. I love frozen peas, broccoli and cauliflower to name a few.
  5. Stock up on veggies. Canned vegetables, in addition to fresh or frozen options, can be another smart choice. Just pay attention to the labels for the sodium content.
  6. Make your garden salad glow with color. Salads can be exciting! Toss in some black beans, red peppers, radishes, watercress, avocados and more! They all make delicious and nutritious additions.
  7. Sip on some vegetable soup. You can also get your vegetables in soup form. Tomato, squash or vegetable soups are all wise choices. Look for “reduced sodium” or “low sodium” varieties.
  8. While you’re out. Instead of the usual fried side dish, ask for a salad or an order of steamed vegetables.
  9. Savor the flavor of seasonal veggies. To save money, buy vegetables that are in season from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Freeze any extras and steam up as needed!
  10. Try something new. There are tons of great vegetables out there that may be new to you. Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons. You can Google great recipes online.

If you have any other tips for increasing the vegetables in your diet, share them in the comments below! And happy national nutrition month to you!

SlimCado vs. Avocado.

The SlimCado: Lite on fat - but also flavor.

The other day, I noticed something peculiar at my grocery store. It was a giant green fruit that looked equal parts avocado and dinosaur egg. I was intrigued by the label which read: “SlimCado – half the fat and a third less calories than avocados!”

For people counting calories or concerned with fat, could this be a dream come true? Truth be told, the fat in avocados is good fat – but even so, I’m certain that the fruit’s savvy marketing will resonate with some shoppers. So I decided to purchase a SlimCado to see how it stacks up.

SlimCados are actually a West Indian variety of avocados that are often grown in Florida. Weighing in at up to two pounds, the large fruit has a glossy green skin and looks quite similar to the more traditional Hass varieties (albeit much larger). Despite having 50% less fat and 35% fewer calories than the avocados we know and love, SlimCados aren’t skimpy on other nutritional content; they are a great source of vitamin E, fiber, B-vitamins, potassium, zinc, and monounsaturated fat.

Unfortunately, my praise of the SlimCado must end there. Beyond nutritional content, taste is an important consideration – and that’s exactly where the SlimCado falls short. Instead of being delicious and flavorful, the SlimCado’s flesh tastes watered-down. Not only does it have half the fat, it has half the flavor.

Having said that, the SlimCado may work for recipes wherein avocado isn’t a primary ingredient. Some people enjoy avocados in their smoothies, for example, and the SlimCado may be well-suited for the task. But when it comes to mixing up some guacamole, you’ll definitely notice the difference.

If the fat or calories are important to you, then you’re better off using half a serving of Hass avocado than a full serving of the SlimCado.

Have you ever tried a Slimcado? Let me know what you think in the comments below.