Tag Archives: healthy diet

4 Corners of a Healthy Diet

We all know maintaining a healthy diet can be hard.  Fad diets might look great but they’re almost always a bad idea.  More important than jumping on the latest bandwagon are getting plenty of the right ingredients, enough sleep and lots of exercise.  Luckily, there are four simple changes you can make to your meal plan to help you perform better, feel better and recover faster.

Cut calories by up to 40%.  A healthy diet isn’t one that stuffs you at every meal.  Eating until you’re full and saving the rest for later might mean eating a little more slowly so you can feel when you’re full before over indulging.  Decreasing caloric intake has benefits such as extending life, delaying onset of numerous diseases, enhancing performance and allowing your body to reach its optimal weight.  Read your food healthy dietlabels, stick with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, dine on lean cuts of meat and get plenty of fiber to help you fill up without racking up the calories.

Get lots of antioxidants.  Antioxidants are the human body’s cleaning lady.  Free radicals create all kinds of mayhem by attacking healthy cells in your body and can cause premature aging, diabetes, and cancer.  Antioxidants work to counteract and neutralize these free radicals, so having plenty of them in your body helps keep you looking young and disease free.  Even better news is that all of these antioxidants come from the brightly colored vegetables that are a big part of your healthy diet.  Five servings a day of foods like almonds, broccoli, tomatoes, pinto beans, berries, carrots and pineapple will keep your snacking, and free radical fighting antioxidant, supply fresh.

Eat foods that have a low glycemic response.  The glycemic index (GI) measures how the carbohydrates in a given food change blood sugar levels.  High GI foods are quickly digested and cause spikes in blood sugar levels while low GI foods digest slowly.  Slowly digested carbohydrates help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss by controlling hunger.  A healthy diet leaves out high GI foods like white bread, white rice, and sugary drinks, includes a few medium GI foodshealthy diet include whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and corn tortillas and loads up on low GI fruits, vegetables, intact nuts and legumes.

Eat healthy fats.  A healthy diet is home to good-for-you fats and kicks the bad, saturated and trans-fats to the curb.  Eating lots of bad fats, which are usually solid at room temperature, has been proven to increase levels of bad cholesterol and your risk of disease.  Healthy omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and protect the heart while benefiting overall health.  Bad fats are found in butter, cheese, fatty cuts of meat, commercially packaged cakes and pizza doughs, candy bars and margarine.  Healthy fats are in olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, peanut oil, and avocados.  Omega-3s are a special type of fat best gotten from fish that have been proven to benefit heart and brain health, reduce symptoms of depression, support healthy pregnancies, ease joint pain, decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer and protect against memory loss.

Take these tips to the grocery store on your next trip and start working on a healthy diet today.  Your body will thank you by being healthier, happier and performing both mentally and physically at a higher level.

Coach Meredith

Breaking Down Superfoods

It’s likely you’ve heard of the class of edible items called ‘superfoods‘.  These are whole, natural foods that are chock full of nutritional goodness and health benefits, and you don’t need to be superman, or woman, to have them.  Each of these so-called superfoods is easily found in your local grocery, ensuring you’ll have access to an adequate supply whenever you need to refill your fridge.  A great way to build a healthy diet, adding superfoods to your meals is a surefire way to make them super good for you.

It can be hard to know what’s what when it comes to these awesome edibles, but each has its own benefits, and munching on the right ones can be a huge help when reaching for nutrition or fitness goals.  Having a good-for-you diet is a major part of being fit and living a healthy lifestyle, and to help, here’s a breakdown of six of Team FitNice‘s favorite superfoods.

Beans provide a protein loaded alternative to meats, especially red meat, which is high in saturated fat.  A tasty source of iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, B vitamins and fiber, these legume superfoods are an important part of a healthy diet and, because they’re easy to add to almost any meal or dish, should be eaten on a regular basis.

Blueberries are not only delicious, they’re loaded with antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C.  The darker the berries are the more antioxidants they contain, so try to pick the darkest ones superfoodsyou can find.  Blueberries can also lower the risk of both heart disease and cancer, with frozen just as good as fresh.  Grab a handful, or a 1/2 cup serving, of this superfood and toss it on every salad you have.

Broccoli is loaded in vitamin C and folate, which both help reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and stroke.  The fiber found in broccoli aids in digestion, and with only 30 calories in a one cup serving, it makes no difference whether you eat it raw, steam it or boil it before you dine.  To get all the benefits of broccoli, try to stay away from smothering your superfoodssalad in ranch dressing, which adds unnecessary fat content to your meal.

Chia seeds are a proud member of the superfoods family who are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and a great place to get your daily dose of fiber.  A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds contain 500% more calcium than milk.  With an appetite suppressing ability, these petite seeds give a feeling of fullness that can aid with weight-loss.

Salmon, specifically wild caught and not from a farm, tastes good cooked in the oven or on the grill and provides lots of vitamin D, which keeps bones healthy and strong.  In addition to vitamin D, wild salmon is home to tons of omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fat your body needs to function.  Salmon is more than heart healthy, the omega-3s it has can promote joint health, superfoodspossibly prevent certain types of cancer and aid in proper functioning of the nervous system.

Soy is an inexpensive, vitamin and mineral rich protein that contains omega-3 fatty acids, plenty of soluble fiber and phytonutrients that are great for fighting disease.  Black soybeans are home to very few carbohydrates and take a while to digest, which, like chia seeds, leaves you feeling full, making them a great addition to any weight-loss meal plan.  Soy can also help lower bad cholesterol, but make sure it’s complete soy such as edamame or soy milk, not soy powder like is found in soy sauce.  One caution for soy: those with a family history of breast cancer should be careful not consume a lot of extra soy.

Are you hungry?  Good!  Head to the nearest supermarket to stock up on these six superfoods and take your healthy lifestyle to the next level.  Have questions about your diet?  Need a meal plan?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT today or fill out the form below.


Why You Need to Eat Lean Meat

Protein is the most important building blocks in our bodies, and often meat is the main source of protein in a human diet.  As a complete form of protein, meat offers the most nutritional bang for your buck.  To get the most benefit from eating meat, it’s important to lean meatchoose lean meat.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires lean meat to be any 3 ounce serving with less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol.  Extra lean meat is also available and contains less than 5 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3 ounce serving.

Turkey, fish and skinless chicken breasts are great options for putting lean meat into your diet, you can also choose lean cuts of beef and pork.  Ground round is the leanest type of ground beef, with ground sirloin, ground chuck and regular ground beef following it up.  When selecting beef, always aim for at least 90% lean, with 95% or 97% being ideal.lean meat comparison

If you’re not in the mood for beef, you can still keep lean meat in your meal without being forced to eat chicken, turkey or fish.  Pork products that have ‘loin’ or ‘leg’ in the same, such as tenderloin, top loin roast, top loin chop or sirloin roast are wonderful lean meat choices.  Lamb (loin chop, arm chop and foreshanks) and veal (cutlet, blade or arm steak) are additional ways to mix up the protein in your meals.  Be sure to trim any visible fat from all cuts of meat and balance protein intake with other macronutrients like carbohydrates and fats.

Why bother?  Lean meat is full of nutrients your body needs, like magnesium, vitamin B and iron.  Magnesium is crucial for building bones, while vitamin B helps metabolism and plays a big role in immune health.  The iron found in lean red meat is great for maintaining energy and taking oxygen through the bloodstream.  Several studies have shown that eating lean meat can improve the healthy and shine of hair, lower cholesterol and improve mood.

Start filling your fridge and freezer with a variety of lean meat cuts and receive great health benefits while eating delicious meals.

For help adding lean meat into your diet and creating a menu, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com today!

All About Antioxidants

You have probably heard about antioxidants, the ‘super foods’ that contain them and a little bit about what they are meant to do.  The information out there can be confusing, and it’s important to know what antioxidants can do, might do, and won’t do, and what foods can provide you with the levels and types of antioxidants you need.  Below you’ll find all the basic information you need to make an educated decision about how, and how much, of each antioxidant you need every day.

An antioxidant is a molecule that slows the process of oxidation in other molecules.  Oxidation turns molecules into free radicals during the process of breaking down food, but also in response to exposure to tobacco or radiation.  Once molecules have been oxidized into free radicals, they start chain reactions which result in damage or death to cells.  Oxidation damage to cells often plays a major role in causing diseases and also in their progress.  Antioxidants, coming from the Latin meaning no oxidation, work to neutralize free radicals in our bodies.

By neutralizing some of the effects of free radicals in our bodies, antioxidants can boost our immune systems by helping prevent colds and flu.  Scientific evidence has also shown that antioxidants may play a part in preventing or controlling cancer symptoms, but to this point the conclusions have been inconsistent.  This doesn’t mean, however, you can skip out of the vitamins and minerals that make up the class of antioxidants.

Antioxidants come from lots of foods that are part of a healthy diet, including some of those antioxidant ‘super foods’ you may have heard of.  Types of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, and Vitamins A, C and E.  On the long list of foods rich in these antioxidants are blue berries, carrots, squash, spinach, tomatoes, apricots, sweet potatoes, almonds and broccoli.  Other antioxidants that might help boost your immune system include vitamins zinc and selenium.  These vitamins can be found in oysters, dairy products, whole grains and seafood.

As you can imagine from the short list above, it’s easy to get all the antioxidants you need from a regular, healthy, diet.  If you choose to take an antioxidant or mineral supplement such as a multivitamin containing them, be aware that too much of either Vitamin A or E (or  both) can be toxic. Want to know if you’re getting what you need from your diet?  Ask us!  Email at Info@FitNicePT.com

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.

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 II: Grains

At the base of the Food Pyramid is Grains, also known as the starch group.  The first, and largest, of the five major food groups contains any food made from wheat, oats, rice, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain.  Grain based foods such as pasta, bread, and cereal, are divided into two types: whole grains and refined grains.

Whole grains are made with the entire grain seed, which contains the bran, germ and endosperm.  Examples of whole grains are whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and brown rice.  These foods contain plenty of dietary fiber, helping to manage weight and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.  Whole grains are also rich in complex carbohydrates that take your body time to digest, providing long term energy and preventing the blood sugar spike often associated with eating refined grain products.

Refined grains, unlike whole grains, are milled to remove the bran and the germ.  This results in a loss of B vitamins, iron and dietary fiber.  Some types of refined grains are white flour, white bread, and white rice.  ‘Enriched’ products have B vitamins, folate (folic acid aids in preventing cancer and birth defects), and iron replaced after the milling process, but still contain little dietary fiber.  Because they contain little dietary fiber and lack nutrients, refined grains, or simple carbohydrates, are less filling and easy to overeat.  Your body also turns simple carbohydrates quickly into sugars, leading to a rapid increase in blood sugar and a subsequent crash when consumed.

Roughly half of daily caloric intake should come from the grain group, so six to eleven servings per day are recommended based on activity level and age.  A serving of grain is considered equivalent to one slice of bread.  This can also be half an English muffin, half cup cooked pasta, three cups of popcorn, or one cup of ready to eat cereal.  The key to making successful grain choices is reading labels and finding a way to work whole grain products into your eating schedule.  When reading labels, select products that list at least one type of whole grain as the first ingredient.

For more information on the Grain group, check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/grains.html and get ready for the next segment, A Balanced Diet Part III: Vegetables.

A Balanced Diet Part I

The human body needs six kinds of nutrients to function properly, so knowing what they are and how they work is important to having a balanced diet.  In this segment, we’ll go over each of the six nutrient types, explaining what they are and how they work.  In the upcoming weeks, we’ll learn about each food group, what to eat, how much, and how often, so by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to hit the grocery store armed with plenty of knowledge to ensure healthy choices.

Carbohydrates.  These are the body’s energy.  Carbs supply simple glucose, and without it, your brain can’t function properly.  You need lots of carbs for day to day life but be careful not to over indulge.  Each gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories, so if the expenditure of carbohydrates is less than the intake, weight gain is inevitable.  Carbohydrates are found in bread, beans, potatoes and corn, with the most common types being sugars, fibers and starches.

Protein.  Proteins, like carbohydrates, contain 4 calories per gram.  While protein can be used as a source of energy, the human body uses them primarily for moving nutrients through the body, keeping the immune system up and running properly.  Proteins help grow and rebuild muscle, maintain fluid balance, and catalyze the reactions essential to life.

Fats.  Fats contain 9 calories per gram, and as a result, are a great source of energy.  Fats also help the body absorb vitamins while providing insulation and cushion to internal organs.  There are two major types of naturally occurring fatty acids, saturated, with each molecule covered in hydrogen atoms, and monounsaturated, when each molecule has only one hydrogen atom.  Saturated fats, found in meat and dairy products, can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke if over-consumed.  Monounsaturated fats, found in nuts, whole grain wheat, avocados and popcorn, have been said to reduce a person’s risk for heart disease.  Both saturated and monounsaturated fats are essential to life.  Trans fats are not naturally occurring, never saturated, and are not essential for life.  Trans fats have been proven to increase bad cholesterol (LDL), lower good (HDL) and raise the risk of heart disease.  Trans fats are found mostly in junk and fast food.

Vitamins.  Vitamins are made from plants and animals, and each of the 13 (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C, D, E and K) is something your body needs.  They are necessary for normal metabolism and since the human body does not produce them, vitamins must be acquired through diet or supplements.

Minerals.  Minerals, including selenium, zinc, and calcium, allow your body to get the energy out of carbohydrates and also promote good immune functioning.

Water.  Sure, water sounds simple.  You can go for weeks without eating, without eater, you’ll last only a few days.  Water is the universal solvent and provides the basis for chemical reactions to take place.  It also helps maintain body temperature and lubricate joints.

Stay tuned next week when we start learning about Food Groups with Grains.