Stealth Health Food: Pork Rinds?

30 Sep

pork-rinds[1]I recently came across a Men’s Health nutrition bulletin touting pork rinds as a “stealth” health food.  Naturally, I was somewhat skeptical (it’s my nature) but, after doing a little research, I thought I’d pass on some interesting information.

Pork rinds, also known as chicharrones, are fried pork skins.  They come packaged like potato chips and are described as savory, slightly salty, and surprisingly light.

The down side to pork rinds — keep in mind they are fried — is that they contain 9 grams of fat per serving.  However, I was surprised to learn that each serving has only 150 calories and a whopping 17 grams of protein, about 1/3 more than a serving of beef jerky!

In addition to eating them right out of the bag, as a snack, you can add them to your sandwich for some extra crunch or break them into bite-sized pieces and use as “croutons” on a salad.


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Drink Real Milk

28 Sep

milk-cow1GET REAL! That’s the advice from Men’s Health, when it comes to the milk you drink.

Not all non-dairy milks – milk alternatives – have the same nutrients as real milk, so it’s important to know how they compare.

Cow’s milk has 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of sugar per glass.  But that natural milk sugar (lactose) is absorbed more slowly than added sugar.

Sweetened almond milk (with water as its main ingredient) has 7 grams of sugar, zero lactose, ans 1 measly gram of protein.  That means you would have to drink 64 ounces of almond milk to get the same protein provided by just one glass of milk.  Hope you’re thirsty…

Check your ingredient labels. Real milk is remarkably simple — milk, typically with added vitamin A and D, so you always know what you get when you pour a glass. Other non-dairy milk options often have more than 10 ingredients, including added salt and sugar, and stabilizers and emulsifiers like locust bean gum, sunflower lecithin and gellan gum.

Non-dairy milk producers, like almond milk and rice milk, use different methods to fortify their products and there is no federal standard for these products on which nutrients they add or how much. All dairy milk provides the same nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, so unlike other non-dairy milks, you always know what you’ll get when you grab a glass of milk.

There’s just no substitute for milk. It’s naturally nutrient-rich like no other beverage.


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Anemia and Athletic Performance

26 Sep

athlete-fatigue[1]Recently, a friend and client (and committed fitness enthusiast) shared with me her disappointment in her recent running performance.  Although she is very active and fit, she was beating herself up for “being a slug when it came to running” (believe me, when it comes to exercise, that’s the last word you’d use to describe this lady).  It turns out that there was a reason for her feeling of fatigue… her hemoglobin was 8 (hemoglobin is the iron-carrying protein found in red blood cells that binds to oxygen; the principal function of hemoglobin is to combine and transport oxygen from the lungs to all body tissues, including working muscles; the amount of hemoglobin in the blood averages between 12 and 16 grams/100 milliliters of blood in adult females).

A drop in athletic performance or a general feeling of  fatigue may indicate you are suffering from anemia, a condition in  which the production and amount of your red blood cells is below normal.  An  adequate supply of these red blood cells is essential to physical activity and overall well-being. A low red blood cell count means less oxygen is being  delivered to working muscles. Because oxygen is essential to burn the calories used by muscles in aerobic exercise, this can have a direct effect on your ability to perform.  Ultimately, anemia will impact your training and performance.

One common  cause of anemia in women is a lack of iron in their diet. Women need nearly  twice as much iron as men (18 milligrams/day compared with 10 mg/day) because of  menstrual blood loss. Heavy  exercise may also increase iron needs by up to another 1 to 2 milligrams/day.

Many  factors contribute to a risk of becoming anemic. These factors may include a diet low in  iron. To get enough iron in your diet and reduce your chances of developing  iron-deficiency anemia, you can eat foods that are naturally rich in iron, such  as red meat, fish, or beans; or consume foods that have been enriched with iron, such as some cereals and pastas. Iron supplements, along with a diet high in iron, may also be helpful to correct the problem.


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Jump to Build Your Explosiveness

23 Sep

Hockey-Squat-Jump[1]Most sports require lower-body strength and power, and the ability to generate explosive force — and release it powerfully — with your hips and legs.  The more power you’re able to generate, the easier and faster you’ll run and/or jump past your competition.

Body-weight squat jumps and broad jumps are a great addition to any training regimen.  Both employ forceful “triple extension” of the hips, knees, and ankles.

To perform the squat jump, stand with feet shoulder width apart.  Pull your elbows back, dip and push back your hips, and leap vertically.  When you land, drop into a squat with hips down and back, and knees bent and facing forward.  Complete 3-5 sets of up to 6 reps, with 30 seconds of rest between sets.

To perform the broad jump (standing long jump), use the same takeoff and landing form as the squat jump, but jump forward as far as you can.


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Remember Why You’re There

21 Sep

img-about-21As my daughter – and fourth of four children – begins her freshman year of college, I resume my familiar place on my soapbox to impart a simple message:


Enjoy the college experience.  Make new friends.  Participate in activities.  Join clubs and organizations.  Play sports and be active.

And, most importantly, maintain your focus and purpose.  Work hard to be the best – academically – you can be.

This same principle applies to other areas.

When you’re at basketball (or any other sport) practice, have fun and enjoy the camaraderie of your teammates.

And remember the reason you’re there is to improve your team’s performance, and further develop your sport-specific skills.

Wherever you are and whatever you do, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the experience along the way, as long as you don’t allow it to interfere with the work that needs to be done to reach your goal.

Be diligent and disciplined about the process, and don’t lose sight of the reason you’re there.


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Make Every Exercise a Core Exercise

19 Sep

aid10626-728px-take-a-punch-step-8-version-31This one is for my friend, Ken, who correctly noticed – and pointed out to me – that I did not publish a blog post last week.

Here’s a simple modification you can employ to engage your core during your workout, making every exercise you do a core exercise:


To accomplish this, tighten your midsection as you would if you were preparing yourself to get punched in the gut.  You would immediately tense and stiffen you core to brace for the impact. This is referred to as abdominal bracing.

Whether you’re working your upper body, lower body, pushing, pulling, jumping, etc. – bracing your core during the exercise will add a different and effective dimension to the exercise.

Although it’s a relatively simple strategy – at least conceptually – abdominal bracing takes some concentration, focus, and practice.


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Get Stronger, Get Smarter?

7 Sep

mental-training[1]Can regular exercise make you smarter?  A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated an association between weekly strength exercise frequency and academic performance.  The study was conducted at a large southern state university in the United States.

The results of the study revealed that those who more frequently engaged in strength exercise had significantly higher GPA.

The findings suggest that regular engagement in strength exercise may not only have physical benefits but is also associated with academic achievement in high education.

There is a need to further investigate the mechanism of strength exercise on GPA among university students.

Related articles:


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Go Nuts With Pistachios

2 Sep

Heap of pistachioThe next time you’re reaching for a snack, skip the chips and grab a handful of Pistachio nuts instead.  Pistachios are a rich source of heart-healthy fats and a number of vitamins and minerals, making them a great snack choice.

a 1-oz. serving of pistachios, about 50 nuts, provides:

  • 160 calories
  • 13 grams of fat (mostly the healthy, unsaturated kind)
  • 8 grams of carbohydrates, including 3 grams of fiber
  • 6 grams of protein

Pistachios are also a rich source of minerals like phosphorus and potassium; and vitamins A, C, and several of the B complex of vitamins.


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Add Hemp to Your Diet

31 Aug

hemp-seed-toasted-blog[1]Several years ago, I discovered hemp seeds.  Hemp seeds come from the same hemp plant renowned for its durable fiber.  They are available in many different forms, including toasted, roasted, and milled.  Hemp seeds contain the perfect balance of essential amino acids for sustaining good health, and an ideal 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Hemp seeds also compare favorably to flax seed.

Hemp seeds have a delicious nutty, crunchy taste (I like the hulled hemp seeds best), and can be enjoyed as a snack or added to salads, Greek yogurt, pasta, soup, sauce, and meat.  They taste similar to sunflower seeds and pine nuts.  In addition to a dose of healthy fats, one serving of hemp seeds also boasts an impressive 10 grams of protein.

Hemp seeds are an excellent source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

To learn more about and try hemp seed products, check out my friend Brad Ervin’s company, Hippie Butter ( or 972-354-4504).  Brad is the CHO (Chief Hemp Officer) at Hippie Butter, and he’d love to hear from you.  Please tell him you were referred by me.


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Add Spinach to your Protein Shake

29 Aug

popeye-eating-spinach[1]Next time you make a protein shake or smoothie in the blender, add a handful of fresh spinach.

Adding spinach to your protein shake or smoothie won’t change the taste (you won’t taste it at all), but it will improve the nutritional content.

Spinach is a great source of nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

The phytonutrients (flavonoid compounds) in spinach may also help protect against inflammatory problems, oxidative stress-related problems, cardiovascular problems, bone problems, and cancers.

I add fresh, baby spinach to my chocolate-peanut butter protein shakes, and my fruit and Greek yogurt protein smoothies.  (it’s probably easier to list ingredients I don’t add to my protein shakes and smoothies than those I do!)


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