Simple Nutrition Secrets for Surviving the Holidays

Protein-rich_Foods

Photo credit: Smastronardo CC BY-SA 4.0

You need to consume more protein to burn fat. Protein isn’t just for building muscle. It’s for burning fat, too. A good way to keep holiday weight gain at bay is to greatly increase your protein intake over the holiday season. While protein helps build and preserve muscle, it also helps to control your appetite as well as boost your metabolism.

Eating more protein to burn fat was confirmed in a study published in the American Journal of Physiology. One group was fed a high protein diet (just over one gram per pound of body-weight per day) while the second group consumed a protein diet near equal to that of the RDA.

The group eating the high protein diet burned more fat than the group consuming protein near equal to the RDA. One reason for the ability of protein to burn fat could be an increased “thermic” effect. The thermic effect of the RDA group was elevated 16% after eating. However, in the high protein group the thermic effect increased a lot after eating, almost 3-times that of the RDA group. This thermic effect of digesting your food peaks approximately one hour after eating.

By adding more protein to each meal, you increase your metabolism. Your body requires more energy (i.e. calories) to process protein than it does carbohydrates.

So go ahead and indulge a little in those high protein holiday foods such as the deviled eggs, shrimp cocktails and of course the holiday turkey!

Here are some good protein-rich food sources:

  • Whey protein
  • Eggs (Deviled during the holiday season)
  • Egg whites
  • Chicken breasts
  • Turkey breasts
  • Lean beef
  • Fish (tuna, salmon, shrimp cocktail)
  • Protein bars
  • Egg protein powder
  • Casein (cottage cheese)
  • Milk or Almond Milk

Post-Workout Shake:

A post-workout shake will help you get the right protein and the right carbs at the right time – immediately after your workout. You can prepare your post-workout shake before you hit the gym, stick it in a thermos and take it with you to store in your locker.

Simply choose your favorite whole food protein shake or whey protein shake, add a cup of frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), and then mix in a blender. You can alter how much of the powder and fruit you use to get the appropriate number of calories you want as well as shake thickness.

Or, you can try this version of the fat-burning post-workout shake:

Add 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of orange juice, a scoop of your favorite protein shake, one serving of creatine, and then finish with a cup of frozen fruit. You can alter this any number of ways to suit your taste buds. You could add banana, or even some yogurt, which will also make the shake a little thicker in its consistency.

Want to indulge in some of those great holiday treats like pie? Instead of having it after a big holiday meal, save the dessert for post-workout. Have a serving of a good whey protein powder with water for your protein and then have that piece of apple or pumpkin pie.

Happy Holidays!

Yummy Vegetable Recipes will Encourage Your Kids to Eat Healthy

Photo credit: Malakwal City (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Preparing yummy vegetable recipes for children is not as arduous a task as it is made out to be, especially since there are considerable options pertaining to the varieties of cuisines and seasonings available in the market. Vegetables for kids are considered to be less tasty as compared with the processed, high-fat food available, so the way in which to win over a fussy child is to make their vegetable dish fun, creative, and as tasty as the junk food they crave.

Stick with Their Favorites

Vegetable recipes that are based on the child’s favorite food will encourage them to eat more of it. If your child is particularly fond of a particular meal, consider making a vegetable version of it with the same flavors used in the original dish, but leave out any oil, fat, and other unhealthy accompaniments that you can.

For instance, if they like macaroni and cheese, you could come up with your own yummy vegetable recipes based around the dish and include whole wheat macaroni, a variety of vegetables, and less fattening varieties of cheese.

If your child is a fan of burgers, you could construct your own healthy version of them by layering lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and coleslaw between multigrain buns, and adding a vegetable patty or using lean turkey burgers as opposed to a beef patty. This dish served with sweet potato fries will look exactly like a fast food meal, but will be much lower in calorie content, and will contain at least two servings of vegetables.

Vegetables for Kids will be Eaten Faster When they Look Good

Kids will be more likely to form a lasting relationship with vegetables and other healthy foods if they are presented in a manner that is fun and aesthetically pleasing. There are plenty of yummy vegetable recipes available that will help vegetables taste delicious.

Adding fun and simple touches to meals, such as decorating a salad to make it look like a smiley face or their favorite cartoon character, is likely to please your child and will enable him or her to enjoy their healthy serving of vegetables rather than forcing them to eat boring, uninspiring meals.

It is okay to offer them a few condiments on the side, such as limited servings of ketchup or mayonnaise, but it is also a good idea to introduce them to the more healthy condiments such as mustard. Introducing your child to a healthy and balanced diet early in life will ensure that they are getting their daily nutritional requirements and will enable them to avoid obesity and other illnesses as they get older.

Health Benefits of Breakfast: 3 Reasons Not To Skip Your Morning Meal

Photo credit: Matt @ PEK from Taipei, Taiwan [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

How many times have you woke up in a hurry, got ready, and rushed out the door without a second thought to eating breakfast? We’ve all been there and have suffered the consequences when mid-morning hits and we are starving and ready to eat the first unhealthy thing we come across. Avoiding this trap and making breakfast a part of your daily routine can not only add to the success and productivity of your day, but also begin your path to a healthier lifestyle. Here are just a few benefits of this important daily meal.

Increased energy level – You will find that by eating a healthy breakfast your energy level is much higher throughout the day. You will be more productive and less inclined to eat that unhealthy bag of chips calling your name. Breakfast provides the right kind of nutrients our body needs to get through the day and be the best version of ourselves. We will be much more likely to focus on productivity when we routinely give our bodies the fuel it needs to carry on.

Weight Control – It’s been said that those who tend to eat breakfast in the mornings are more likely to lose weight or simply not weigh as much. That being said, it makes sense because we don’t find ourselves bogged down with those nasty cravings that come with not eating anything in the morning. We tend to make healthier choices throughout the day when we aren’t starving and looking for anything to satisfy us. You need breakfast to get give your metabolism a boost so you can burn more calories throughout the day.

Happier and Healthier – Eating breakfast routinely every morning will not only start you on the path to a healthier life but also cause you to have a better, happier attitude. We are mentally and physically able to focus on things that matter when we give our bodies the right kind of nutrition. This means staying away from sugar and caffeine and consuming more whole grains, dairy, and fruit. Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast tend to be grouchier throughout the day. When you deprive your body of the fuel it needs, it affects all aspects of your life.

There are huge benefits to getting into a routine each morning and eating a healthy breakfast. This one meal sets the tone for the entire day and our mood and physical well-being is affected by it. You will not only be more productive but your overall health will improve by just making a few changes to your daily routine. Rather than rushing through those early morning hours give yourself a little more time in the morning to plan a healthy meal. The success of your day depends on how you start it out.

Beachbody

 

3 Healthy & Delicious Fruit Desserts That Will Have Your Kids Begging For More

Photo credit: Vegan Feast Catering [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When you think of the word “dessert” what comes to mind?

More than likely you immediately think of pies, cakes, cookies – all the unhealthy things that most people associate with the word desserts. But did you know there are healthier versions available? And healthier doesn’t mean boring and bland! Things like fruit desserts can be healthy, full of flavor and a great way to help ensure that you and your family are getting more fruits in your daily diet!

What exactly do these desserts have to do with getting more fruits into your daily diet?

First, if you have a hard time getting picky eaters to snack on plain fruit, these desserts offer a delicious flavorful alternative to eating it plain. Sometimes all it takes to get a picky kid to eat fruit is to add it to something else and label it a dessert. After all, what kid doesn’t like dessert? And two, sometimes eating fruit is just plain ole boring and fruit desserts add enough variety and more flavor to ‘spice’ things up.

Want to try it on your own kids? Here are three quick and easy fruit desserts that are healthy and packed full of flavor and are sure to have your family asking for more! And best of all, you can give them more knowing it’s healthy and helping them get more of the vitamins and minerals they need that fruit provides.

Fruit Dessert Recipes

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
(Makes about 4 servings)

1/2 cup sugar
1 package (16 ounces) unsweetened strawberries
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

In a food processor, add the sugar and strawberries. Pulse until chopped coarsely. Slowly add the yogurt and lemon juice with the food processor still running. Process until smooth and serve immediately.

Banana Bites

1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 large bananas
Coconut flakes

Tear a decent sized peace of wax paper off and put on counter top (or working surface). Cut bananas into bit sized chunks. Heat the peanut butter and chocolate chips in microwave (about 1 minute). Dip banana pieces until well coated. Sprinkle coconut flakes on them and let harden (about 1 hour).

Broiled Pineapple

1/2 lb. pineapple
Nonstick cooking spray

While preheating oven, coat broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Core pineapple and cut wedges lengthwise to make 8 spears. Put pineapple spears on broiler pan and cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender. You can even serve this with a dollop of vanilla ice cream if you wish.

As you can see, from the three recipes shared, fruit desserts are a quick and easy way to ensure that you and your family are adding more fruits to your diet. Another way, not mentioned in the recipes above, to make a fruit dessert is as simple as putting some berries in a bowl and adding some cool whip on top.

Beachbody

Feel Full and Lose Weight with these Five Natural Foods

Photo credit: Cajsa Lilliehook [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight loss is a multi-billion dollar a year industry in the United States. There are pills, potions, mixtures and lotions. You can even find vibrating belts and fat melting shakes. Some of these weight loss aids are gimmicks and some might actually help you lose weight in the short-term, but usually you gain the weight back in a few weeks. For long-lasting, permanent weight loss you have to eat right and exercise. The right foods combined with exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off while providing your body with essential nutrients and elements necessary for good health. Natural foods help stimulate your metabolism, boost your energy and make you feel good.

A delicious way to get your daily fruit and veggie fix is to enjoy a cool, crisp salad. Salads with light green, dark green, orange, red and yellow vegetables will provide color, aroma and flavor to any ordinary salad. Vegetables are fat free, loaded with fiber and full of nutrients your body needs. The fiber will fill you up and keep you feeling fuller longer. Vegetables are naturally low in calories, but salad dressings can be high in both fat and calories. Choose no salad dressing or a low-fat dressing. Chop up and dice some fresh fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth or to get an extra boost of energy in the late afternoon between meals. Try some fresh fruit mixed with low-fat yogurt for a delicious pick-me-up loaded with nutrients and healthy carbohydrates.

What’s not to love about chicken soup? It’s good for the soul and the perfect food to comfort your body when you have a cold. Chicken soup not only boosts your immune system, it also helps you lose weight. A bowl of chicken soup with a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, celery and yellow squash, is rich in nutrients and fiber to help you feel full and satisfied for hours. Vegetables in chicken soup contain antioxidants to help stave off cell damage. The bits of white meat chicken are low in fat and high in protein. Enjoy a bowl of chicken soup to feel full, while adding important nutrients to your diet without adding calories.

Lean beef is a good choice to help promote weight loss by adding fiber and protein to your diet. You should not sacrifice muscle mass when trying to lose fat. Lean beef and other protein-rich foods combined with regular exercise can help maintain muscle mass while burning fat. Amino acids found in lean beef are necessary to the production of muscle cells. You can also add cooked lean beef to other healthy meals, such as salads.

Whole grains, including oats and wheat and wild rice, are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. A small serving of whole grains helps you feel fuller faster so that you eat less than you normally would eat. Choose grains that have not been processed for maximum benefit. Warm oatmeal with low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast will stimulate your metabolism for fat burning all morning long. Beans, rice, lentils and peas are also a good source of fiber and nutrients. You can eat beans or lentils and wild rice as a side dish or combine them with other foods, such as soups and stews, for flavor and fiber.

Beachbody

Midlife Metabolism Boost

In simple terms, metabolism is the chemical action of transforming nutrients in food into energy. Metabolism is a complex set of chemical reactions between enzymes in your cells and the food you eat. Your metabolism is responsible for using energy or storing that energy as fat cells for use later. Unfortunately, many of us tend to store more energy than we use, particularly after age 40, and you may notice that you can’t eat everything you used to eat without gaining weight. This is due in part to a slowing of the metabolic processes that convert food into energy. This can be due to natural slowing of your metabolism combined with less physical activity than when you were younger. There are ways you can stimulate your metabolism after age 40 to lose weight and maintain your weight.

Be selective about what you eat. It is likely you were able to eat cheeseburgers, French fries and ice cream when you were younger without worrying about gaining 10 pounds. After age 40, you have to be pickier about what you eat. There are foods you can eat that will help stimulate your metabolism without sacrificing the enjoyment of food. Cut back on the junk food and add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. You can get the carbohydrates and protein your body needs for energy and strong muscles and bones by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Replace highly processed foods, such as white flour and frozen dinners, with fresh, whole foods. Whole foods, or those foods that are unprocessed, make your digestive system work harder to digest and stimulate your metabolism. Your digestion will also improve with the addition of natural fiber, as well as help you to feel full so that you eat less.

Balance your diet by taking out foods that make you feel sluggish with foods that energize your body. Replace processed flour, sugars and other carbohydrates with natural foods that will boost your metabolism. Add green tea and water to replace sugary sodas. Switch potato chips and fatty dips with fresh vegetables and low-fat fresh dips, such as guacamole or low-fat sour cream-based dips. Cut out candy and replace it with sweet, fresh berries and fruits.

Exercise will also help to boost your metabolism. Any form of exercise is good for your body. Start slowly if you have been inactive for a long time and get a complete check-up from your doctor. When you receive the all-clear, start by walking or riding a bike for a few minutes each day. Increase the amount of time you spend exercising by 5 to 10 minutes each week until you are exercising at least 30 minute each day. Try some weight lifting or other strength training exercises to increase your muscle mass. Muscle requires more energy than other tissues. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be to provide nutrients to muscle tissue.

Simple changes that include substituting bad foods for good food and exercising will boost your metabolism and keep it working at a peak level throughout your life.

Beachbody

Add More Whole Foods to Your Diet

Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia CommonsThe phrase “whole foods” refers to foods that are raw, unprocessed or as close to nature as possible. Whole foods include whole grains, whole raw fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed chicken and meats. It is easier to improve your diet by replacing processed foods with natural, whole foods than you might think. Whole foods are generally lower in calories and carbohydrates than highly processed foods such as frozen dinners and fast food. Switching from processed to whole foods means meal preparation will take a little more planning, but your health and your waist line will thank you.

Add more whole foods to your regular diet by replacing highly processed white flour with whole grains. Instead of white bread, choose whole wheat, oat and bran breads. Opt for fresh or frozen whole fruits and vegetables instead of canned. The canning process includes cooking and adding preservatives. Many canned fruits and vegetables have added sugar or sodium. The canning process also removes beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that your body needs for good health. Buy fresh or frozen as opposed to canned vegetables and fruits, so that you can enjoy all the benefits of eating vegetables.

Pass by the convenience foods, such as frozen macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and frozen meatloaf in the freezer section. These foods are usually high in calories, carbohydrates and are loaded with sodium and preservatives. Fresh, skinless chicken breasts baked or grilled with whole wheat rolls, fresh vegetables or a salad makes an excellent whole food dinner. Forget the instant mashed potatoes that are loaded with preservatives and other chemicals. Choosing long grain and wild rice as a side dish is another way to add whole foods to your diet.

Beans, rice and legumes can replace high-calorie side dishes, such as macaroni and cheese and instant mashed potatoes. As for potatoes, they are an excellent whole food. If you don’t have time to peel, cook and whip your own potatoes, a baked (sweet) potato is just as delicious and takes less preparation time. Top your baked potato with low-fat sour cream and some fresh chopped green onions for delicious side dish. Many supermarkets offer fresh fish and other seafood. Select local fish or fish that is flown in daily. Fresh fish can be a little more expensive than the fish in the freezer, but one taste of fresh grilled perch or shrimp will convince you it’s worth the price. A salad with a mixture of lettuces, spinach, radishes, carrots, bell peppers and tomatoes is the perfect way to start any whole foods meal.

Many of the preservatives we consume come from snack foods and sodas. Rather than potato chips and snack crackers, satisfy your snack urge with fresh sliced apples, bananas, grapes and berries. You can also enjoy raisins, nuts and other dried fruits. Keep some banana and apple chips in your desk for a quick, naturally sweet snack. Blend up a berry smoothie with fresh berries, ice and 100 percent fruit juice for a refreshing whole foods treat. Keep a bowl of fresh apples, oranges, and bananas on the counter for a healthy, quick after work or after school snack. Tea, especially green tea, is a refreshing alternative to sugary soda. Toss the cold breakfast cereals and fill your pantry with whole grain cereals instead. Whole oats, wheat germ and quinoa are healthy, whole food breakfast choices. Add fresh fruit for extra flavor and nutrients. Avoid using processed sugar. Sweeten your morning oats with honey or natural maple syrup.

Beachbody