Tag Archives: diet

5 Tips for Cutting Calories

Cutting calories, or decreasing your daily caloric intake, while maintaining or increasing your level of activity is a sure fire way to shed help your body unwanted pounds.  There are lots of ways to cut back on what you eat, from eliminating certain foods to fasting and it’s not always easy.  All methods of cutting calories are not made equal and not all of them can work for everyone but there are some simple things anyone can do to help lower their daily caloric intake.  Here are 5 simple tips to help you stay stress free when you start cutting calories.

Eat thin crust.  Pizza is delicious and everyone has their favorite toppings, but it’s the types of crust you choose that can make a real difference.  When cutting calories consider that an average slice of thin crust pizza has roughly 200 calories while regular crust slices contain about 280 and a piece of deep dish pie comes in at over 350.  To save even more cutting caloriescalories on this tasty treat use whole wheat crust and consider topping like green peppers or pineapple instead of sausage.

Go extra lean.  Extra lean cuts of mean can be found in just about any supermarket and are a good way to save calories in the main part of your meals.  Meats labeled extra lean have fewer than 5 grams of total fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of sodium per serving.  One serving is equivalent to what is consumed in one meal, roughly 3.5 ounces of meat or poultry.  When cutting calories, go extra lean.

Trade your toppings.  mayonnaise is loaded with calories so try trading it for mustard on sandwiches.  Swap marinara sauce for alfredo when you’re in the mood for Italian and save about 100 calories, as a bonus you can even have a bigger serving of the red sauce without putting you back at the beginning.  Having a salad?  Pick croutons or cheese rather than both and save up to 120 calories.

Skip the dressing.  Speaking of salads, leave the dressing off.  Blue cheese, ranch and Italian are packed with calories, undoing most of the benefits of munching on a plate of healthy vegetables and greenery.  Order your next salad with a side of cutting caloriesmustard, pico de gallo or a splash of lemon juice and you’ll be cutting upwards of 100 calories.

Drink more water.  Water fills your tummy, acting as an appetite suppressant and helps you stay hydrated.  Less hunger means less eating, which by default helps you trim your calorie intake.  Water is also the best replacement out there for sugary, calorie loaded sodas.

Use these simple and easy tips for cutting calories to help keep your weight loss plan on track.

Have questions?  Want help with weight loss or a meal plan?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the box below.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats are the three macronutrients you cannot live without.  Protein is the building block for every part of your body, and helps build and maintain muscles, which are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. The amount of protein required for each person’s diet depends on the activities you engage in during the day.

A typical way to tell how much protein you need to take in each day is to multiply your body weight by 0.37 then convert to grams, so a 200 pound person would need to have 74 grams of protein per day.  Athletes who are involved in heavy physical activity, such as heavy weight lifting or endurance exercise such as long runs, should increase their protein intake to between 1.2 and 1.7 grams of protein per day for each kilogram of body weight.

Pregnant women also want to increase protein intake.  As the building blocks for everything in our bodies, it’s important to see how necessary protein is while a baby is developing.  Pregnant women should increase protein intake by about 10 grams per day over the recommended amount in order to help their baby’s brain, eyes and cardiovascular system work perfectly upon their arrival.

Too much protein can harm your body by stopping up kidneys and putting you at risk for dehydration.  If your caloric intake is made up of more than 30% protein, it causes a buildup of toxic ketones.  This can cause your kidneys to over work trying to clean those ketones out of your system.  As the kidneys work, they produce a byproduct called ammonia, which the liver converts to urea.  In addition to this extra strain on the kidneys and liver, too much protein can cause dehydration, especially if you are exercising frequently.

Over indulgence in protein is something to be on the lookout for if you are using a Paleo diet, being careful to keep the ratio of protein to other macro nutrients (carbohydrates and fat) appropriate.  Cross fit and Paleo go well together, but it’s important to make sure you get all the nutrition you need.  People who run lots of miles every week usually need around 3,000 calories per day, so having the grains restricted by a Paleo diet just won’t work.  Before you decide to have a Paleo diet, examine your activity level and make sure you know how much is too much.

For help planning or changing your diet, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com.

Vegetarian Diet

How to Get the Right Nutrition without Meat, Poultry or Seafood.

Vegetarian diets don’t have to consist of all tofu, all the time, because adequate nutrition can be derived from lots of foods that don’t include animal products.  A vegetarian is defined as “a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc.” and bases their diet on these principles.  While animals are a great source of nutrition, including essential amino acids and protein, there are many other ways to get these crucial ingredients in your diet.  Vegetarians do, however, face the biggest possible dietary loss from a lack of protein, which is usually obtained by eating animal protein, and serves as a major source of energy.

Because they cannot include the Meat, Poultry and Fish group in their Food Pyramid, the Vegetarian Food Pyramid looks slightly different than the one most of us grew up seeing.  The base of the Vegetarian Food Pyramid is grains, rather than meats, and legumes and nuts, making it slightly different than the typical Food Pyramid.  The remaining levels of both food pyramids are the same, with fats and oils having the smallest recommended number of servings per day.  Five to twelve servings of whole grains, with one to three servings of legumes and soy are the base of a good vegetarian diet.  Add to that three to four servings of fruit, six to nine servings of vegetables, one to two servings of nuts and seeds, up to three servings of dairy and eggs, with a minimum daily amount of sweets and fats, and you have a wonderfully well rounded and healthy diet providing all the same essential nutrients as a diet with meat.

Vegetarian diets offer a myriad of benefits for those who commit to giving up animal proteins.  Vegetarian diets often feature lower levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, decreasing risk for diabetes and heart disease, while offering higher levels of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and antioxidants.  Because of these features, vegetarian diets can aid with weight loss, though it is important to remember the basis of vegetarian is vegetables.  Not junk.  Animal protein foods have to be replaced with the right types of nutrition, not French fries and cookies, to garner any of the dietary and weight loss benefits.  Being careful not to overload with fats like cheese, and using beans, lentils and rice to replace meat will all maintain proper nutrition and a healthy diet.   Without animal protein, a vegetarian must also make sure their diet includes enough Omega-3s, iron, zinc, calcium and Vitamins D and B-12 to meet daily requirements, and can often add a supplement to their daily routine.  These choices can help vegetarians and vegans live longer and healthier lives with lower body weight, better cholesterol levels and lower risk of diabetes.

If living a longer, healthier life sounds good to you, give vegetarianism a try.  Remember though, a different diet does not mean different rules.  Just like people who eat meat, vegetarians need to read labels and check the ingredients, salt, fat and vitamin content of the foods they choose.  Ensuring healthy eating is hard work no matter what your diet consists of, so take the vegetarian challenge and see how it can benefit you!

For more information, here’s a great source of tips for vegetarian dieting: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/healthy-eating-tips/tips-for-vegetarian.html.

A Balanced Diet Part VII: Fats, Oils and Sweets

We all love dessert, but we also probably eat more than we should.  Consuming fats is an important part of our diet, but the wrong amounts of the wrong types can lead to weight gain, obesity, and increased risk of heart disease.  Because of these risks, we want to consume the least amount of food in this group.  Oils and fats are different, and since sweets have lots of fats, they are included in this group.  The oils most people are familiar with include canola oil, olive oil, and corn oil, while the fats are butter, chicken fat, and stick margarine.  Sugary sweets include brownies, cookies, cakes, and soft drinks.

Oils contain essential nutrients, are liquid at room temperature, and are needed to help our bodies function.  Fats are also an essential part of the human diet, but unlike oils, they are solid at room temperature.  Fats come with more trans- or saturated fat than oils do, and it is important to be careful how much you eat.  Unsaturated fats (HDL) are healthy, but saturated fats (LDL) can lead to the weight gain, obesity and risk of heart disease mentioned earlier.  While oils and fats both contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, solid fats contain more saturated and trans-fats than oils.  Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products and should make up less than 10% of daily caloric intake.  Fats as a whole should not account for more than 30% of daily caloric intake.  Respecting this guideline is important because one gram of fat contains nine calories, which is more than twice that of protein and carbohydrates (four grams each) and makes it very easy to consume too much fat.  Sugars, even though they also have four calories per gram, bring mostly empty calories into our diets.

The food we eat fulfills most of our daily needs for oil through things such as nuts, cooking oil and salad dressing.  Even though we get oils from our food, remember that they do contain calories.  That makes checking labels and looking for options with no trans-fat and little to no saturated fat a big part of maintaining a healthy diet.  By using oils sparingly when cooking, cutting down on sugary after dinner treats and ceasing to drink sodas, you can control your intake of bad fats and sugars, while helping lower your risk for weight gain and heart disease.

To learn more about Fats and Oils, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/oils.html, and start reading labels.  Next week, we’ll cover Vegetarian Diets and look at healthy ways to eat without meat, poultry and fish.

A Balanced Diet Part VI: Milk, Yogurt and Cheese

We all love ice cream, milkshakes, and cheese trays, but making the right dairy choices in the dairy group, as well as all other food groups, is the key to maintaining a healthy diet.  The dairy group includes cheese, milk, yogurt, soymilk, and all the products made from them.  Lots of important nutrients come from dairy products, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing when it comes to things like cheese and ice cream.  Getting the proper amount of dairy products may reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and has been shown to improve bone health.  Calcium is especially important during childhood, as bones are growing and mass is accruing.  Good dairy intake is also a source of reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, as well as having been shown to lower blood pressure in adults.

Milk, yogurt and cheese all contain calcium, protein, potassium, and vitamin D.  Calcium serves as the building blocks for bones and teeth by helping them grow and maintain their mass.  Vitamin D works with the body to help it absorb calcium, reduce inflammation and boost immune function.  Dairy protein, just like the protein found in the Meat Group, helps build muscle and provide energy, while potassium can help maintain healthy blood pressure.

Choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy products is best because they contain little to no solid, or saturated, fat.  Saturated fats contain high levels of LDL (low-density lipids), bad cholesterol, and a diet high in LDL can increase risk for coronary heart disease.  Whole milk and many cheeses are high in saturated fats, so limiting dairy choices to low- and non-fat options is important when trying to control your intake or empty calories.

Even when consuming low- and non-fat dairy products, following the suggested guidelines for daily servings, and adjusting based on increased activity, is part of maintaining a balanced diet.  For the Dairy Group, three servings are recommended each day, though dairy products should not exceed 30% of caloric intake per day.  One serving is considered one cup of milk [fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1% or 2%)], one eight ounce container of yogurt, 1½ ounces of hard cheese, one third cup of shredded cheese (cheddar), two ounces of processed cheese (American), one cup of pudding made with milk, one cup of frozen yogurt, 1½ cups ice cream or one cup of calcium-fortified soymilk.

It can be hard to make good choices, but here are some ways to make it simple.  Order lattes and cappuccinos with fat-free milk, add fat-free or low-fat milk to oatmeal instead of water, use yogurt as a dip for fruits and vegetables, and use low-fat cheese to top casseroles and soups.  Be sure to avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk, chill perishable foods promptly and keep separate raw and cooked foods.  Follow these guidelines and you’ll be sure to make good Dairy Group choices to help you maintain your balanced and healthy diet.

To learn more about the Dairy Group, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy.html.  Then make sure to come back for next week’s Food Group: Fats, Oils and Sweets.

A Balanced Diet Part IV: Fruits

Whole grains and vegetables for every meal are great, but here’s a good way to add even more variety to your diet: eat fruit!  Fruit is colorful, flavorful and good for you.  The Fruit group is made up of berries (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry), citrus (orange, grapefruit, tangerine), melons (watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe), tropical (banana, mango, pineapple), stones (cherry, peach, plum) and others (apple, grape, pear).  Eating a healthy amount of fruit per day can reduce the risk of heart disease, help protect against some types of cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity, lower blood pressure and decrease bone loss.  It is also low in fat and sodium while rich in potassium, dietary fiber, Vitamin C (helping with growth, healing wounds, maintains healthy teeth and gums), folic acid (reduces risk of birth defects and aids in formation of red blood cells), and Vitamin A (an antioxidant).

Fruit is classified as whole or cut fruit or 100% fruit juice that arrives on your plate (or in your glass) fresh, canned, frozen, dried or pureed.  A serving of fruit can be one large apple, one cup of natural applesauce, one cup of 100% fruit juice, one cup of grapes, one large orange, or eight big strawberries.  Two to four servings per day are recommended, the equivalent of one to three cups.  Following these recommendations allow the dietary fiber content of fruit to provide fullness without the high caloric content of many other diet choices.

Half of each plate should contain fruits and vegetables to ensure that all the nutritional value of your meal is to getting into your system.  Eating fruit raw will provide the best benefits since processing or canning can cause nutrients, vitamins and water to be lost.  A good way to get enough fruit is to keep whole fruit on the table or counter.  Pre-cut packages can be kept in the refrigerator with dip or low fat dressing, tossed on top of cereal, mixed in with waffles and pancakes, or stirred up with yogurt.  Make sure to clean fruit under running water and dry before preparing and eating, as well as keeping cleaned fruits away from raw meat, seafood and poultry.

Take an apple to work and keep sliced oranges in the refrigerator and you’ll be ready to get your proper amount of fruit per day!

For more information on the Fruit Group, check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/fruit.html, and come back in for our next installment, A Balanced Diet Part V: Meat, Poultry, Beans, Eggs and Nuts.