Diets are a drag

Thursday, July 30, 2009 by kate

It's just a fact. No one enjoys going on a diet. And salads and celery do not – in any way – stack up to cake and cookies. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or … well, lying.

But not everyone needs to overhaul their intake. Sometimes all it takes is some tweaking. So here are some simple ways to trick yourself into eating healthier (stolen from Women’s Health).

Cut your pancakes with cornmeal to add extra fiber and magnesium. Replace ¼ cup of flour with ¼ cup of cornmeal.

Boil your peanuts. I know, it sounds kind of crazy. But researchers have found that boiled peanuts have four times more antioxidants than dry or roasted peanuts.
Grab blue corn tortillas next time you’re making nachos or fajitas. Researchers have found tortillas made from blue corn have a lower glycemic load than white corn tortillas, so your blood sugar won’t rise as quickly. They also have more protein and less starch.

Spice up your life. Scientists found overweight people have a better chance of losing weight after having a meal with chile peppers than after one that’s bland.
Add oregano … to anything. One tablespoon of fresh oregano has the same amount of antioxidants as an apple.

Beef up your burger … with vegetables. Before you toss that paddy on the grill, scoop out a hole in it and fill it with veggies. This will trick you into thinking you’re eating a massive meal when you’re really only eating your recommended serving of beef, which is 3 ounces.

Add oil to a warm skillet. Cold oil tends to soak into meats and vegetables, so you’ll eat more fat.

Opt for softer cheeses like goat, feta, and ricotta because they're about a third lower in fat and calories than harder cheeses.

Do you have any tricks of the trade?

For more tips on healthy eating check out Women’s Health.

Previous Post: Trainer Tip of the Week

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Trainer Tip of the Week

Monday, July 27, 2009 by kate

This week’s tip is brought to you by Gunnar Peterson*, a celebrity trainer famous for buffing up the likes of Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman, J. Lo and Angelina Jolie.

According to Peterson, you should “mix up your cardio for different results and to keep it interesting so that you’ll go longer and do more. Change your intensity, duration, music, and whether you do it before or after your strength training. You’ll be happy you did.”

If you do the same workout every day, every week, your body will get used to it. Changing things up will create change in your body while also preventing injuries. Plus, you won’t get bored.

Buy a new exercise DVD, sign up for a spin class or change up reps and weights. The summer is the perfect time to get outside and mix things up. I recently joined a boot camp and every week we have a different workout. It helps me push myself harder than I would by myself. Plus I get to be outside after a long day confined to a cubicle.

What’s your favorite workout?

*According to an interview in Glamour, Peterson hasn’t always been the fitness guru he is today. He used to be a fat kid. “My mom sent me to Weight Watchers meetings in Houston, Texas, when I was 10 years old.” For some reason that makes me trust him more.

Previous Post: Atkins with a veggie twist

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Atkins with a veggie twist

Friday, July 24, 2009 by kate

Twice I have tried a version of the Atkins diet. Twice I have lost 10 pounds. And Twice I have gained 15 pounds back. So I’m not usually an Atkins advocate. But a recent study I read has swayed me a bit closer to low-carb consciousness.

It shows a low-carb Atkins diet with a vegetarian twist may help people lose weight and lower their bad (LDL) cholesterol. I know. It doesn’t make sense. Isn’t Atkins all about bun-less burgers and slabs of steak? How do vegetarians fit in here?

Researchers in this study replaced a traditional Atkins diet of animal protein with soy protein. (Keep in mind, though, this study was funded by a company that sells soy products.)
47 overweight people with high cholesterol either tried a low-carb diet with vegetable protein or a high-carb, low-fat diet for a month. Both groups took in the same amount of calories, and both groups lost weight and lowered their blood pressure. But: the veggie Atkins people also lowered their levels of bad cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors.

So it seems an eco-friendly version of Atkins – stressing plant proteins – is better than a high-carb weight-loss diet at reducing heart disease risk factors.

“Soy proteins and nuts were valuable sources of protein and nuts also provided healthy oils. These foods have individually been associated with cholesterol reduction in other studies,” Dr. David J. A. Jenkins said.

According to the American Heart Association, having 25- 50 grams of soy a day can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) by as much as 8%.

Here are 6 ways to sneak soy/vegetable protein into your diet:
1. Sip on soy. The next time you’re at a coffee shop, ask them to make your latte with soymilk. You may just be surprised by how much you like it! (I originally suggested trying vanilla soymilk, but as one reader noted, all that vanillay goodness is full of carbs so you'll have to stay away from the sweet stuff.) Silk soymilk is probably my personal favorite, but there’s a bunch out there. 2. Snack on roasted soy nuts or edamame to quell your urge for something salty and crunchy.

3. Crumble up tofu and mix it in your pasta and sauce. It takes on the consistency of parmesan cheese. Trust me. You won’t even know it’s there.

4. Toss garbanzo beans into your salad or soup. They’re plump and tasty and won’t overpower your plate.

5. Fake meat. Just give it a try. Go to the frozen food section of your super market and look for the Boca burgers, fake sausages and tofu chicken tenders. You may be surprised by how much you like it!

6. Try soy flour. (OK. So I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks simple enough.) Substitute it for wheat flour for an added nutty flavor. Or toss some in with regular flour to make pancakes.

What are your favorite veggie-protein-packed meals?

Previous Post: Slimmer summer sips!

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Slimmer summer sips!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 by kate

In honor of my recent vacation in Mexico, where Mojitos were the drink of choice, here’s a recipe for a lighter Mojito – one that I should have asked Juan the bartender to make for me!This definitely is not the real thing, but for only 100 calories, it’s a suitable substitute.

6 oz. Diet lemon-lime soda
Mint leaves
¼ Lime
1.5 oz. Rum

Muddle the mint, squeeze in lime juice and toss in the rind. Add the soda and rum and stir well. Add ice and garnish with mint and a lime wedge.

You’ll save about 150 calories a drink, which adds up on a hot afternoon in Cancun (or your own backyard).
In a season known for BBQs and ice cream, it helps to cut calories anywhere you can. So what’s your low-cal cocktail of choice?

Previous Post: Why you should have a salmon smoothie

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Why you should have a salmon smoothie

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 by kate

You know you don’t want to be the office grump, but how do you get out of that slump? Make your own Happy Cocktail. (And no – it shouldn’t contain vodka or rum. That’s a different sort of cocktail – one which I’m sure your employers wouldn’t be too keen on you imbibing at the office.)

Make a strawberry raspberry tofu smoothie. All these ingredients are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which researchers say make people less prone to depression. Salmon, cod and walnuts are also high in omega-3s, but I figured you wouldn’t be keen on a cod smoothie. But that’s just me.
Chances are you don’t get enough omega-3s anyway. And symptoms of a deficiency are tricky. You might experience fatigue, dry skin, brittle hair, constipation, frequent colds, depression, poor concentration, lack of physical endurance and/or joint pain. Sounds like me on a Monday.

Besides improving your mood, omega-3s have a bunch of other health perks. They may help prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease, asthma, ADHD, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, multiple sclerosis and obesity.

So feel free to sneak some strawberries (or salmon!) into your diet. You'll feel better and have stronger hair – like on those Garnier Fructis commercials.

Previous Post: Not so cheery news

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Not so cheery news

Monday, July 13, 2009 by kate

This is why I never became a cheerleader. (It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I had more rolls than a bakery, and my idea of exercise was “stress management” in gym class, a.k.a. nap-time.) In a recent study, cheerleading was found to be the most dangerous sport for females. It caused more serious and deadly injuries than any other sport. Between 1982 and 2007, 103 female high school athletes died or were seriously injured, and 67% of them were cheerleaders. (Runner-up sports were gymnastics with 9 injuries and track with 7).

And while the number of cheerleading injuries fell slightly in the 07-08 school year, it still accounted for 65.2% of high school and 70.5% of college catastrophic injuries among all female sports.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of emergency room visits to treat cheerleading injuries rose from 4,954 in 1980 to 28,414 in 2004.

Despite these obscene numbers, cheerleading still isn’t considered a sport by many. For this reason, it's not subject to the same safety regulations as its sister sport gymnastics, such as mandated off-seasons, physicals and soft surfaces to minimize injuries. And training for coaches isn’t standardized, either.

"When people think about cheerleading, they think about the girls with the pompoms jumping up and down," said sports injury expert Frederick O. Mueller. "They don't think about someone being thrown 25 feet in the air and performing flips with twists and other risky stunts we see today."

What do you think? Should cheerleading be regulated? Should they wear unsightly helmets and pads? Or should fashion trump safety?

Previous post: Weight rate weighs heavily in the US

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Weight rate weighs heavily in the US

Thursday, July 9, 2009 by kate

Despite The Biggest Loser, P90 X and Jenny Craig, Americans are still gaining weight. A new study shows adult obesity has risen in 23 states. And in 30 states nearly 1 kid out of 3 is overweight. No state was able to lose any weight, either.

It makes you wonder what kind of control couches and candy have over us. We know better, yet we can’t seem to get it right.

Mississippi has, for the fifth year in a row, come in as the heaviest state in the nation – 32.5% of adults there are overweight. It also holds the top spot for overweight children, with a rate of 44.4%. A good reason for this could be the state’s lack of physical and nutritional education in most schools. Don’t get me wrong. I hated playing dodge ball and capture the flag, but there’s a certain P.E. rite of passage every child should experience.

Colorado was the lightest state in the US with only 18.9% of adults overweight. It must be all those Rocky Mountains out there – now that’s a good workout.

Even the CDC says more than 26% of Americans are now fully obese.

Obviously we need to cut the sweets and sweat. What motivates you to lose weight? Share your tips with us!

Previous Post: Bad news for post-workout bingers

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Bad news for post-workout bingers

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 by kate

Ok. I’ll admit it. After a big workout I like to stuff my face. I feel it’s my right after putting my body through boot camp or a long run – and I’ve always thought that my metabolism is on overdrive right after a workout. But a new study has halted that spoonful of extra chunky peanut butter on its way to my gaping mouth.

Apparently the post-workout afterburn is a myth. A team of researchers tracked the calories 65 people burned after a workout compared to a day they didn’t exercise. And there was no difference in the amount of fat they burned.

This study only looks at moderate exercise, so more research is needed to study higher intensity workouts and consecutive days of exercise.

But what about weight training, you ask? It doesn’t make a difference, researchers say. It is true that a pound of muscle burns 7-10 calories a day and a pound of fat only burns 2 calories. However, researchers found that the rate of calorie burn after weight training versus not weight training didn’t vary. Apparently, those 5-pound dumbbells don’t create enough muscles to make a difference. So you have to have pump Vin Diesel-style in order to enjoy that extra spoonful of extra chunky PB.

Previous Post: Pickle Power!

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