Tag Archives: healthy fats

What Constitutes a Healthy Diet?

10 Sep

When it comes to healthy dietary recommendations, there’s a lot of conflicting information from the world of medical science.  To complicate matters, there are about a zillion books, documentaries, and news reports that attempt to provide us with nutritional “advice.”

Despite a plethora of differing opinions from the “experts,” there is an issue on which they agree: Our country has an alarming obesity problem.  About 1 in every 4 health care dollars are spent combating the resulting side effects of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Physical activity is a big part of the solution.  Regular exercise is good medicine, both as prevention and treatment.

Diet and nutrition are the complement to exercise.  Here’s some sound nutritional advice for the masses (and about as close to a consensus as the experts get):

  • Eating fat doesn’t make you fat.  The importance of reducing fat intake is a myth, and was never supported by any good evidence.  All it did was make people rush to replace fat with carbs.
  • Some fats are better than others.  Unsaturated fats — like those found in olive oil, nuts, and legumes — are good choices.  Too much saturated fat (red meat, cheese, butter) can be bad.  Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated oils,” should be avoided.
  • Choose your calories wisely.  Some forms of calories make you store fat more readily than others, and refined carbohydrates — white rice, pasta, crackers, cookies, candy — are at the top of that list.
  • A protein-rich diet may or may not be good for you.  If you’re physically active and eat lean protein sources (chicken and fish), it’s a good thing.  If you’re sedentary, it’s just a lot of extra calories from another source.
  • Sugar is bad, especially when you drink it.  Sugary beverages — even one a day — raise your risk of diabetes and obesity.  Sugar has adverse metabolic effects and virtually zero nutritional benefit.
  • Your body needs variety to function properly.  Every day, you should eat an assortment of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole-grains, and healthy fats.  Whole foods are better than supplements.  Aim for balance.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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The Worst Breakfast is No Breakfast

5 Oct

Breakfast[1]I always enjoy traveling to different schools and organizations to discuss Strength & Conditioning, Speed & Agility, and Nutrition.  Invariably, when discussing nutrition, we touch upon the importance of breakfast.  When I tell the audience that any breakfast is better than no breakfast, I usually get a few sarcastic responses like, “what about donuts?” or some other sweets or junk food.  Although I differentiate between a healthy, nutritious breakfast and a less sensible option, the point is this:  Eat something — anything — within 30-90 minutes of waking.  It will set the tone for the rest of your day.  It’s not that the quality of what you eat is unimportant, but the benefits of eating breakfast are indisputable:

  • Improves physical and mental health
  • Improves behavior and performance
  • Kick-starts your metabolism
  • Improves your mood
  • Boosts your energy level
  • Helps to minimize daytime hunger

Like any other meal or snack, the key is to aim for balance: clean carbohydrates (whole grains, high-fiber), lean protein, and healthy (unsaturated) fats.  Protein for breakfast is a must.  Eating a protein-rich breakfast can energize you, reduce food cravings, and prevent overeating later, according to research from the University of Missouri.

Don’t get hung up on eating “breakfast” food for breakfast… eat whatever you want.  Just keep it sensible, nutritious, and balanced.  Leftovers from last night’s dinner?  Eat ’em.

Get STRONGER Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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 (hippiebutter.com 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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Eat Your Healthy Fats

29 Jun

1205-fat[1]When it comes to nutrition, fats get a bad rap (it’s been said that eating fat won’t make you fat any more than eating money will make you rich).  Additionally, a fat-deficient diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies (especially for athletes).

Fat serves many functions in the body, including:

  • Necessary for insulation and protection of internal organs
  • Hormonal regulation
  • Carries fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Necessary for formation of healthy cell membranes
  • Proper development and functioning of brain and nervous system
  • Promotes feeling of satiety (fullness) following a meal
  • Source of long-term (stored) energy

It is recommended that athletes get 20% of their total calories (or 2/3 of the total fat intake) from healthy — monounsaturated or polyunsaturated — fats, and limit saturated fats to no more than 10% of their total calories (1/3 of total fat intake).

Healthy fat sources include avocado; fish (especially cold-water fish like salmon); almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and cashews; olive oil; coconut and coconut oil; Seeds; olives; peanut butter and other nut butters; low-fat dairy (milk, cheese, Greek yogurt, etc.).

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?

What Are “Good” Fats?

4 Sep

112_9_4_164232374[1]A little fat in your diet can be good for you, but not all fats are created equal.

Bad fats include trans and saturated fats.  These fats may negatively impact your health.

Bad fats:

  • raise “bad” cholesterol (LDL)
  • may lower “good” cholesterol (HDL)
  • can increase the risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke.

Most trans fats are artificially produced as a result of partial hydrogenation, which is a process used to convert liquid oil to a solid.

Generally, natural trans fats are not a big concern, especially if you choose low-fat dairy products and lean meats. The real worry in the American diet is the artificial trans fats. They’re used extensively in frying, baked goods, cookies, icings, crackers, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn, and some margarines.

Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature and naturally occur in foods such as meat.

Good fats, such as mono- (omega-9) and polyunsaturated (omega-3) fats are liquid at room temperature and naturally occur in many foods.  These fats have positive health benefits.

Good fats:

  • are shown to improve cholesterol levels
  • may help reduce risk factors of heart disease and stroke
  • may help reduce risk of diabetes
  • could promote healthy nerve activity
  • are shown to improve vitamin absorption
  • are required to maintain healthy immune system
  • promote cell development.

Sources of good fats include avocado; fish (especially fatty fish like salmon, trout, catfish, and mackerel); almonds; walnuts; peanuts and peanut butter; cashews; canola oil; sunflower oil; olives and olive oil; coconuts and coconut oil; seeds; and low-fat dairy.

As a rule minimize saturated fats, eliminate trans fats, and increase consumption of unsaturated fats.

Here are more tips to help you reduce the total amount of fat in your diet and make sure the fats you consume are the healthy ones (from WebMD):

  • Choose a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
  • Try a vegetarian meal, with plenty of beans, once a week
  • Select dairy products that are skim or low-fat
  • Experiment with light and reduced-fat salad dressings
  • Replace fattier sauces with vinegars, mustards, and lemon juice
  • When using fats, do so sparingly. Try to use unsaturated liquid oils, such as canola or olive, instead of butter or partially hydrogenated margarine
  • Limit your consumption of high-fat foods, such as processed foods, fried foods, sweets, and desserts
  • When cooking, substitute the lower-fat alternative (for example, low-fat sour cream or low-fat cream cheese) whenever possible

Know your fats.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Good Nutrition Doesn’t Have to be “All or Nothing”

8 Jul

8c08f343446b14128f6f9df8dd797ddb[1]Regular exercise is important, and good nutrition is its complement.  Both are equally important components in maintaining your fitness, health, and wellness.

And, while some may believe an extreme, fanatical approach to diet and nutrition is necessary to reach their goals, I do not.

People often feel overwhelmed with nutrition when they have an “all or nothing” mentality.  They feel that they must never ever eat anything “bad” for them or all of their efforts are ruined.

Free yourself of that thinking.  It’s impossible to never eat anything “bad” for us.  You are setting yourself up for failure with this mentality.  Balanced nutrition means eating foods that will be beneficial for your health most of the time, but also not feeling guilty when you occasionally eat something that may not be the best choice.

Two words:  BALANCE and MODERATION

  • Eat based on your goals and your target (desired) weight
  • Eat a balance of lean protein, clean carbs, and healthy fats
  • Increase your daily protein consumption to about 0.6-0.8 grams for every pound of your desired body weight
  • Limit “junk food” calories to 10% of your total, daily caloric intake
  • If you over-indulge — quantity or quality — get back on track the next meal or the next day

Moderation is the key, but people may have different opinions regarding what is moderate.  Having ice cream once per day is not moderate.  Focus your daily meals and snacks on whole foods like lean meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables.  Save the sweets — like ice cream — for special occasions.  You’ll enjoy it more this way because then it really is a treat.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

What Constitutes a Healthy Diet?

15 Aug

48470_f520[1]When it comes to healthy dietary recommendations, there’s a lot of conflicting information from the world of medical science.  To complicate matters, there are about a zillion books, documentaries, and news reports that attempt to provide us with nutritional “advice.”

Despite a plethora of differing opinions from the “experts,” there is an issue on which they agree: Our country has an alarming obesity problem.  About 1 in every 4 health care dollars are spent combating the resulting side effects of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Physical activity is a big part of the solution.  Regular exercise is good medicine, both as prevention and treatment.

Diet and nutrition are the complement to exercise.  Here’s some sound nutritional advice for the masses (and about as close to a consensus as the experts get):

  • Eating fat doesn’t make you fat.  The importance of reducing fat intake is a myth, and was never supported by any good evidence.  All it did was make people rush to replace fat with carbs.
  • Some fats are better than others.  Unsaturated fats — like those found in olive oil, nuts, and legumes — are good choices.  Too much saturated fat (red meat, cheese, butter) can be bad.  Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated oils,” should be avoided.
  • Choose your calories wisely.  Some forms of calories make you store fat more readily than others, and refined carbohydrates — white rice, pasta, crackers, cookies, candy — are at the top of that list.
  • A protein-rich diet may or may not be good for you.  If you’re physically active and eat lean protein sources (chicken and fish), it’s a good thing.  If you’re sedentary, it’s just a lot of extra calories from another source.
  • Sugar is bad, especially when you drink it.  Sugary beverages — even one a day — raise your risk of diabetes and obesity.  Sugar has adverse metabolic effects and virtually zero nutritional benefit.
  • Your body needs variety to function properlyEvery day, you should eat an assortment of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole-grains, and healthy fats.  Whole foods are better than supplements.  Aim for balance.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Worst Breakfast is No Breakfast

19 Jul

Breakfast[1]I always enjoy traveling to different schools and organizations to discuss Strength & Conditioning, Speed & Agility, and Nutrition.  Invariably, when discussing nutrition, we touch upon the importance of breakfast.  When I tell the audience that any breakfast is better than no breakfast, I usually get a few sarcastic responses like, “what about donuts,” or some other sweets or junk food.  Although I differentiate between a healthy, nutritious breakfast and a less sensible option, the point is this:  Eat something — anything — within 30-90 minutes of waking.  It will set the tone for the rest of your day.  It’s not that the quality of what you eat is unimportant, but the benefits of eating breakfast are indisputable:

  • Improves physical and mental health
  • Improves behavior and performance
  • Kick-starts your metabolism
  • Improves your mood
  • Boosts your energy level
  • Helps to minimize daytime hunger

Like any other meal or snack, the key is to aim for balance: clean carbohydrates (whole grains, high-fiber), lean protein, and healthy (unsaturated) fats.  Protein for breakfast is a must.  Eating a protein-rich breakfast can energize you, reduce food cravings, and prevent overeating later, according to research from the University of Missouri.

Don’t get hung up on eating “breakfast” food for breakfast… eat whatever you want.  Just keep it sensible, nutritious, and balanced.  Leftovers from last night’s dinner?  Eat ’em.

Get STRONGER Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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