Tag Archives: calories

Be Aware of What (and how) You Eat

28 Oct

exps26136_C1442965D51B[2]Being aware of what you eat can help you make better food choices.  I’m not necessarily talking about dieting or limiting your calories (although quantity should be part of the equation for many of us).  Nor am I suggesting that you limit yourself to only certain recipes or foods.  In fact, nutritional awareness is just as much about how you eat as what you eat.

Here are a few tips to help you focus on the “how,” as it relates to your eating:

  • Consider how hungry you really are before eating.  Try to match the amount of food you eat to your hunger, and not necessarily your appetite.
  • Try eating with your non-dominant hand.  This will slow down your eating, allowing for that full feeling to take effect earlier in your meal, and help you avoid overeating.
  • Choose open-faced sandwiches and eliminate half of the bread or bun — and half of its carbs and calories.
  • Take mini water breaks between bites of food.  Not only will this slow down your eating, it will also help you feel fuller without adding calories.
  • Don’t deny yourself an occasional indulgence, but try to limit “cheat” calories to no more than 10% of your total daily calories.
  • Plan ahead and pack your own healthy meals and snacks.  A little foresight and planning — even the night before — can really improve your daily nutrition.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Advertisements

Whole Grain Doesn’t Always Mean High Fiber

7 Oct

fiber-one-cereal[1]I think everyone should be able to read and understand food labels, but I don’t always like the way manufacturers use this information to mislead us.  For example, just because a product claims to be “whole grain” doesn’t necessarily mean it is high in fiber.

As a matter of fact, the criteria for a food to be able to claim “100% Whole Grain” and “Whole Grain” are based on whole grain — and not fiber — content.  That’s why sugary cereals can claim to be whole grain and contain just 1-2 grams of fiber per serving.  Some of these whole grain foods contain more sugar and calories than those without the whole grain stamp.

You’re better off looking for foods with a 10:1 ratio of carbohydrates to fiber, or lower (Cheerios, for example, has a 7:1 ratio).  Foods with this ratio have more fiber and less sugar than those foods with higher ratios.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Eating Fat Won’t Make You Fat

13 Jan

fats-and-meats[1]About 25 years ago, the American Heart Association (and lots of other health and wellness organizations) offered dietary guidelines highlighting a low-fat diet, in hopes of reducing our country’s alarming incidence of obesity and, ultimately, cardiovascular disease.  Turns out they had it wrong, as virtually all the follow-up research has failed to demonstrate a definitive link between dietary fat and obesity.  In fact, during that time the U.S. obesity rate has doubled and among children it has tripled!  Eating fat won’t make you fat, any more than eating money will make you rich.

The reality is, calories make you fat and most “low-fat” or “fat-free” foods actually have just as many calories as their full-fat versions, because of added sugar, chemicals, and low-quality (processed, refined) carbohydrates.  Although the concept has been very well marketed, “low-fat” and “fat-free” are often code for “loaded with sugar.”

The way our bodies work makes it much easier to store dietary carbohydrates as fat than either the protein or fat we eat.  When you consume carbs, they are quickly converted to glucose (our body’s main energy source).  The body provides the brain and muscles with the glucose they need, and stores the rest as fat for your long-term energy needs.  Strength training can increase your body’s muscle demand for glucose, thus reducing your body’s potential to store these calories as fat.  Additionally, research has shown the metabolic effect of resistance exercise to persist in your muscles for up to 48 hours, post-workout.  However, if your caloric intake significantly exceeds your metabolic outgo — over time — you will get fat regardless of the source of your calories.

A University of Alabama at Birmingham study found that meals that limited carbohydrates to 43 percent of total calories were more filling and had a milder effect on blood sugar than meals with 55 percent carbohydrates.  That means you’ll store less body fat and be less likely to eat more later.

Dietary fat is necessary for many bodily functions:

  • Fats are needed for cognitive function (the brain is 60 percent fat).
  • Fats protect and insulate nerves.
  • Fats keep the heart beating in a normal rhythm.
  • Fats keep the lungs from collapsing and cushion your internal organs.
  • Fats slow digestion.
  • Fats provide a source of (long-term) energy.
  • Fats help to satisfy the appetite for longer periods.
  • Fats enable the absorption of vitamins A,D, E, and K.

When thinking about dietary fat, limit consumption of foods high in saturated fats and include more foods with healthy, unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts and nut butters, dairy, and cold-water fish like salmon.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Be Aware of What (and how) You Eat

2 Aug

exps26136_C1442965D51B[2]Being aware of what you eat can help you make better food choices.  I’m not necessarily talking about dieting or limiting your calories (although quantity should be part of the equation for many of us).  Nor am I suggesting that you limit yourself to only certain recipes or foods.  In fact, nutritional awareness is just as much about how you eat as what you eat.

Here are a few tips to help you focus on the “how,” as it relates to your eating:

  • Consider how hungry you really are before eating.  Try to match the amount of food you eat to your hunger, and not necessarily your appetite.
  • Try eating with your non-dominant hand.  This will slow down your eating, allowing for that full feeling to take effect earlier in your meal, and help you avoid overeating.
  • Choose open-faced sandwiches and eliminate half of the bread or bun — and half of its carbs and calories.
  • Take mini water breaks between bites of food.  Not only will this slow down your eating, it will also help you feel fuller without adding calories.
  • Don’t deny yourself an occasional indulgence, but try to limit “cheat” calories to no more than 10% of your total daily calories.
  • Plan ahead and pack your own healthy meals and snacks.  A little foresight and planning — even the night before — can really improve your daily nutrition.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Whole Grain Doesn’t Always Mean High Fiber

22 Jul

fiber-one-cereal[1]I think everyone should be able to read and understand food labels, but I don’t always like the way manufacturers use this information to mislead us.  For example, just because a product claims to be “whole grain” doesn’t necessarily mean it is high in fiber.

As a matter of fact, the criteria for a food to be able to claim “100% Whole Grain” and “Whole Grain” are based on whole grain — and not fiber — content.  That’s why sugary cereals can claim to be whole grain and contain just 1-2 grams of fiber per serving.  Some of these whole grain foods contain more sugar and calories than those without the whole grain stamp.

You’re better off looking for foods with a 10:1 ratio of carbohydrates to fiber, or lower (Cheerios, for example, has a 7:1 ratio).  Foods with this ratio have more fiber and less sugar than those foods with higher ratios.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Eating Fat Won’t Make You Fat

4 Feb

low-fat[1]About 25 years ago, the American Heart Association (and lots of other health and wellness organizations) offered dietary guidelines highlighting a low-fat diet, in hopes of reducing our country’s alarming incidence of obesity and, ultimately, cardiovascular disease.  Turns out they had it wrong, as virtually all the follow-up research has failed to demonstrate a definitive link between dietary fat and obesity.  In fact, during that time the U.S. obesity rate has doubled and, among children it has tripled!  Eating fat won’t make you fat, any more than eating money will make you rich.

The reality is, calories make you fat and most “low-fat” or “fat-free” foods actually have just as many calories as their full-fat versions, because of added sugar, chemicals, and low-quality (processed, refined) carbohydrates.  Although the concept has been very well marketed, “low-fat” and “fat-free” are often code for “loaded with sugar.”

The way our bodies work makes it much easier to store dietary carbohydrates as fat than either the protein or fat we eat.  When you consume carbs, they are quickly converted to glucose (our body’s main energy source).  The body provides the brain and muscles with the glucose they need, and stores the rest as fat for your long-term energy needs.  Strength training can increase your body’s muscle demand for glucose, thus reducing your body’s potential to store these calories as fat.  Additionally, research has shown the metabolic effect of resistance exercise to persist in your muscles for up to 48 hours, post-workout.  However, if your caloric intake significantly exceeds your metabolic outgo — over time — you will get fat regardless of the source of your calories.

A University of Alabama at Birmingham study found that meals that limited carbohydrates to 43 percent of total calories were more filling and had a milder effect on blood sugar than meals with 55 percent carbohydrates.  That means you’ll store less body fat and be less likely to eat more later.

Dietary fat is necessary for many bodily functions:

  • Fats are needed for cognitive function (the brain is 60 percent fat).
  • Fats protect and insulate nerves.
  • Fats keep the heart beating in a normal rhythm.
  • Fats keep the lungs from collapsing and cushion your internal organs.
  • Fats slow digestion.
  • Fats provide a source of (long-term) energy.
  • Fats help to satisfy the appetite for longer periods.
  • Fats enable the absorption of vitamins A,D, E, and K.

When thinking about dietary fat, limit consumption of foods high in saturated fats and include more foods with healthy, unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts and nut butters, dairy, and cold-water fish like salmon.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

If You Want to Get Bigger, You’ve Got to Get Stronger

31 Oct

I train lots of athletes who want to get “bigger.”  Although the focus at ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE TRAINING CENTER is helping athletes get stronger and faster, I certainly understand the importance of adding mass… especially when progressing to the next level (for example, JV to varsity or high school to college).  It’s important to understand a couple of things:  The process of getting bigger and adding mass is about calories.  Strength training, in and of itself, won’t necessarily make you bigger – you need adequate calories to fuel that growth.  Additionally, moving that additional mass requires the development of considerably greater strength and power.

Consider this:  What would happen to your vertical jump height, 40-yard dash time, and agility if you wore a 10 lb. weighted vest?  You can apply this same principle to gaining ten pounds.  Without a well-designed Strength and Conditioning program, your additional poundage is just going to slow you down.

Before proceeding, think about the following:

  • Why do you want to get bigger/gain weight?
  • How/why do you think adding mass will benefit you?
  • How much weight do you want to gain?
  • Do you have a specific plan to gain weight sensibly?
  • Do you have a Strength and Conditioning plan to offset the added weight? (remember, you don’t want to just maintain your current level of strength, speed, and power; you want to improve/increase it!)
  • Is your training plan periodized (to address sport seasonality) and progressive (increasing intensity over time)?

Regarding the last two points, I would strongly encourage you to enlist the help of a qualified and experienced Strength and Conditioning professional.  He or she can provide guidance while ensuring consistent improvement, growth, and development.

Healthy Ways to Gain Weight

  • Eat “good” calories:  Choose foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
  • Eat more:  Calories ingested must exceed calories burned.
  • Eat more often:  Try to eat six times per day.
  • Drink calories:  Shakes and smoothies can include ice cream, yogurt, milk, and/or peanut butter.  Stay away from diet drinks and sodas.
  • Aim for balance:  Each meal or snack should contain lean protein, clean carbs, and healthy fat.
  • Fuel your workout:  Observe healthy pre– and post-workout nutrition.
  • Slowly but surely:  Adding between 1/2 lb. and 1 lb. per week is a reasonable goal.

Maintain and Build Your Strength and Speed

  • Train movements, not muscles:  Your focus should be on multi-joint exercises.
  • High weight, low reps:  That’s how you build strength and power.
  • Challenge yourself:  If it’s too easy, it’s not enough.
  • Stick to the basics:  Exercises like the squat, deadlift, Romanian deadlift, bench press, and row should be incorporated into your training plan.
  • Train on one leg (or, with one arm):  Single-leg exercises like the squat, stepup, and Bulgarian split squat are functional and will help accelerate strength gains.
  • Add plyometrics:  These must-do exercises are a great complement to Strength training, and will have a positive impact on linear speed, vertical jump, and agility.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Build a Healthier Burrito at Chipotle

17 Oct

Chipotle restaurants have become enormously popular.  And, why not?  Their food is tasty, convenient, and (for the most part) they use fresh, healthy ingredients.  But there’s also a potential downside.  The average Chipotle burrito contains over 1000 calories!  Most of us, including athletes, don’t need that many calories at one sitting.  There’s a smarter, healthier way to eat at Chipotle.

Chipotle Nutrition Facts

Wrap

  • 13″ tortilla (soft, burrito shell) = 290 calories; 44 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein.

Vegetables

  • White rice  = 130 cal; 23g carbs; 2g protein.  Brown rice is about the same, with the addition of 2g fiber.
  • Black (or Pinto) beans = 120 cal; 23g carbs; 11g fiber; 7g protein.
  • Fajita vegetables = 20 cal; 4g carbs.

Meat

  • Barbacoa = 170 cal; 24g protein; 7g fat.
  • Carnitas = 190 cal; 27g protein; 8g fat.
  • Chicken = 190 cal; 32g protein; 7g fat.
  • Steak = 190 cal; 30g protein; 7g fat.

Salsas

  • Tomato = 20 cal; 4g carbs.
  • Corn = 80 cal; 15g carbs; 3g fiber.
  • Red (hot) = 40 cal; 8g carbs; 4g fiber.
  • Green (medium) = 15 cal; 3g carbs.

Extras

  • Cheese = 100 cal; 8g protein; 9g fat.
  • Sour cream = 120 cal; 2g protein; 10g fat.
  • Guacamole = 150cal; 8g carbs; 6g fiber; 13 g fat.
  • Lettuce = 5 cal.

Tips for Building a Healthier Burrito

  • Skip the rice.  Or, at least go light on the rice.  Chipotle burritos are about 1/2 rice (by volume), providing nutritionally scarce calories and carbs.  Recently, they’ve started serving brown rice, but it’s only marginally better.  You’re better off without it.
  • Add beans and veggies.  As opposed to rice, black and pinto beans add nutritionally dense calories, protein, and fiber.  Fajita vegetables are low in calories and provide vitamins and other micro-nutrients.
  • Go for the chicken.  Although all the meats are relatively good choices, chicken is your best bet for lean protein.
  • Like it hot.  The hot salsa can improve digestion, boost your metabolism, and help you burn more calories.
  • A little cheese is OK.  8g protein is a fair trade-off for 100 calories.
  • Say no to sour cream.  I’m all for dairy, but 10g fat is not a fair trade-off for 120 cal.
  • Say yes to guacamole.  Vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a dose of healthy (unsaturated) fats.
  • Saw it in half.  Save the other half for another meal.
  • Eat it naked.  Refuse the wrap, eat it in a bowl, and save almost 300 calories and 44g carbs.

Get Stronger, Get Faster!

Your thoughts?

Calories, Physical Activity, and Weight Management

4 Aug

Occasionally, my clients ask me to address the topic of healthy weight management.  I do a fair amount of nutrition education and counseling.  I have some clients that want to gain weight (especially teen-age, male athletes); others want to lose weight (adult clients); some want to maintain their current weight; and still others don’t pay too much attention to what the scale says (kudos to you).

Strength training, in and of itself, is not necessarily a weight management strategy, although it is a significant component.  Same goes for cardio.  Generally, in order to gain weight, you have to ingest more calories than you burn, over time.  Obviously, the opposite is true if you want to lose weight – you have to burn more calories than you ingest, over time.  Strength training is great for improving your metabolism, but gaining muscle and losing fat may or may not result in weight loss (muscle weighs about three times more than fat), depending on your individual situation.  I can almost assure you, though, that you will like the way you look and feel if you gain more muscle and lose more fat!

Ultimately, weight management comes down to two factors: calories and physical activity.  Here’s a simple formula I learned several years ago.  This formula is useful to calculate the number of calories you should eat (or drink), per day.  Despite its simplicity, it’s actually fairly accurate.

Target Weight (TW) X (10 + number of hours of moderate/vigorous physical activity per week) = Calories per Day

For example, let’s say your target weight is 150 pounds.  It doesn’t necessarily matter whether you want to gain, lose, or maintain weight.  In order to calculate the number of calories you should eat, per day, you need to assess the number of hours of exercise you get, per week.  I’m talking about moderate to vigorous exercise; lifting the TV remote doesn’t count.  Let’s assume you get five (5) hours of exercise, per week.  Add this number (5) to ten (10) to calculate the factor you will multiply by your target weight.  Multiply your target weight (150 lbs.) by fifteen (15), and your calories per day equal 2250.  Once again, this formula works pretty well, regardless of whether you’re trying to gain, lose, or maintain weight.  There are several other caveats regarding healthy weight management (eating breakfast, calorie quality, meal size/frequency, etc.), but I’ll cover them in another blog post.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: