The Calorie Detective

detective.jpg

Are you a calorie-counter always on the go? Do you do your best watching how much food goes into your mouth even when you spend most of your time dining out? Do you pick your meals according to how much calories are suggested for said menu items? If so, you should beware!

In this interesting short documentary titled Calorie Detective, filmmaker and self-proclaimed “obsessive calorie-counter” Casey Neistat, reveals the truth behind those “predicted” calories labeled on most restaurant and fast-food chains (1). To help combat obesity, the New York City Department of Health requires most chain restaurants to “post calorie content on their menus and fine those that don’t comply” (1). This requirement is expanding nationwide thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

This COULD be an excellent reform, but unfortunately is not very effective due to one fact: no one checks the accuracy of these labels according to F.D.A. and the city’s health department. That’s right, technically a company could write down any number on their labels to better market their item and, as long as the numbers are within reason, none would be the wiser.

In his study, Neistat selects five items he consumes on an average day to be tested: a muffin, a tofu sandwich, a Subway sandwich, a Starbucks Frappuccino, and a Chipotle burrito. With the aid of two food scientists at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, they test each food for calorie content using a device called a bomb calorimeter. This process took more than an hour for each sample to provide the most precise information. These results may shock you.

One of the most surprising results comes from the tofu sandwich.  The spicy tofu sandwich is wrapped in a plastic printed with large pictures of vegetables and bright bold words suggesting how healthy the item is, such as vegan and kosher. Many people often fall victim to the these marketing ploys. According to the label, the sandwich contains only 228 calories. However, after going through the bomb calorimeter, the results revealed that the sandwich actually contained a whopping 548.4 calories. That’s about double the labeled calorie count. It is probably safe to assume that the other nutritional facts are inaccurate as well. This supposedly “healthy” vegan sandwich contains just as much calories as a McDonald’s 550 calorie Big Mac.

The only item that matched its labeled calorie count out of the five items that were tested was the Subway sandwich. Not only that, the actual calorie count for the Subway turkey sub was actually 10 calories short of the labeled 360 calories.

Though calorie-counting is not the be-all and end-all of obesity (as the contents of the calories one is consuming  are more if not just as important), it is both a fascinating and frightening idea that there is a large amount of unaccounted calories being consumed daily. Since the primary principle of losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume, this may illustrate why sometimes people don’t feel or show any progress when trying to slim down.

It is also impossible to make a conclusion about nutrition label inaccuracies among all restaurant and food chains based off the research found from five items. With all the rallying of the government to fight obesity, it brings to light the inadequacies of the current system.

Sources

1. Neistat, Casey. “Calorie Detective.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Getting (Back) On Track

hifwomen.jpg

Whether you are 14 and about to enter high school or 70 and about to retire, it will always be the right time to make the decision to live a healthier lifestyle. We are two and a half months into 2013, and some of you may have made some resolutions to get fit and eat clean. Some of you may not have made that decision, and others may have made those resolutions but have already fallen off the wagon. It is okay. It is never too late to make goals to better yourself, and if you’ve slipped up since New Year’s, just get back up on your feet and move forward. Even the strongest of us fall down sometimes, but it is the weak who choose to stay down. Now is a good time as any to take a look at what you are doing with your life and ask yourself these questions: Are you healthy? Are you physically fit? And most importantly, are you happy? If you answered no to any of these questions, Pete Cerqua has some awesome tips to get your life (back) on track.

If you’re still reading this, then it is safe to say you are ready to make changes towards the right direction. You must be willing to change old (current) habits, ditch bad influences, and gain control of your life again. This means you must get rid of anything that is holding you back. Most of things that are keeping you from becoming who you want to be are probably items lying all around your home.

When you open up your refrigerator and cupboards, what do you see? Most likely you’ll be seeing a lot of go-to comfort foods that have been making you fatter, unhealthier, and sluggish. Toss them out! Some may even find it therapeutic. Your house is like your mind, and it is time to clean house! Throw out all the negative influences; anything that tempts you to eat unhealthy. One of the biggest proponents for eating unhealthy at home is usually because we are bored and unhealthy foods are just a few steps away to provide instant, but temporary, satisfaction. It may be difficult to go off junk food cold turkey, especially if you’ve been eating that way for a long period, but like most bad habits, over time the cravings and urges will eventually diminish. Pete recommends removing any processed foods or  foods that are high in white sugar, white flour, or sodium. He also suggests giving the boot to foods containg gluten or soy.

Having cleaned out all the unhealthy foods, now it’s time to restock. Fill your house with lots of fresh groceries like fruits and vegetables. Things like baby carrots are great because they are naturally sweet and crunchy and work great when you are bored at home and get the urge to munch on something. Other great snack ideas are Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, which are both high in protein. For your meat proteins, free range chicken and eggs are excellent sources for omega-3 fatty acids. If you enjoy beef, get it from grass fed cows only. If you like fish, wild Alaskan salmon is the best choice.

Most healthy individuals do not get all the daily nutrition their body needs from food alone. That is why most athletes and people who want to get in shape need the help of supplements to give them that extra boost and support. Most people need B vitamins for stress and metabolism. If your joints are giving you problems, you can also add MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, to your diet. A good and reliable place to get all your supplements is from Isagenix. Not only do they provide a variety of products for all your nutritional needs, all their protein products (such as their protein powder) comes from grass fed cows in New Zealand.

Now that you’ve cleaned out your house of any negativity, you are ready to achieve the body you want whole-heartedly. All the temptations you have to cheat are no longer in your home. When you are at home have the urge to chew on something, even when you’re not feeling hungry, you will have only healthy foods to fill that void. You will probably begin to notice that your mind is more free, and you are able to stay more focused on your goals. You are now ready to be the person you’ve always wanted to be!

For more information on getting started, staying focused, and achieving results, check out Pete Cerqua’s The High Intensity fitness Revolution For Women and Men at http://bit.ly/TBTUD3

For more information on Isagenix products, check out http://bit.ly/XSAmO3

Carbs: The Breakdown

donuts.jpg

What are carbs?

Carbohydrates are found in a wide variety of foods including bread, rice, milk, potatoes, pasta, fruit, soft drinks, and pie. They also come in an array of forms – the most common forms are sugars, fibers, and starches.

The basic building block of every carbohydrate is a sugar molecule: a simple union of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Starches and fibers are essentially chains of sugar molecules. Some contain hundreds of sugars (1). Carbohydrates can generally be grouped into two categories: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates?

Simple carbohydrates include sugars such as fruit sugar (fructose), corn or grape sugar (dextrose or glucose), and table sugar (sucrose).

Complex carbohydrates include everything made of three or more linked sugars.

The general idea has been that simple carbohydrates are good while complex carbohydrates are bad, particularly in terms of diet and weight loss. Though this is true on a chemical basis, carbohydrates and how they are digested is a little more complicated.

How do carbs benefit our bodies?

Like almost any kind of food, our digestive system handles carbohydrates by “attempting” to break them down and converting them into single sugar molecules so that they are able to be absorbed into the bloodstream. It also converts most digestible carbohydrates into glucose (also known as blood sugar), because cells are designed to use this as a universal energy source. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas creates special hormones called insulin that signals for cells to absorb blood sugar for energy and storage. As more and more blood sugar begins to be absorbed into the cell, its levels in the bloodstream begin to fall. That’s when the pancreas starts making glucagon, a hormone that tells the liver to start releasing stored sugar. This ensures that every cell in your body has a steady supply of blood sugar (1).

What is fiber in relation to carbohydrates?

Fiber is put together in such a way that it can’t be broken down into sugar molecules, and so it passes through the body undigested. Fiber comes in two forms: soluble fiber dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber does not. “Although neither type nourishes the body, they promote health in many ways. Soluble fiber binds to fatty substances in the intestines and carries them out as waste, thus lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol). It also helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check. Insoluble fiber helps push food through the intestinal tract, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day for good health. But most Americans get only about 15 grams a day” (1).

How is insulin related to diabetes?

People with diabetes have trouble when it comes to the interplay of insulin and glucagon. People with type 1 diabetes don’t make enough insulin, so their cells can’t absorb sugar. People with type 2 diabetes have a different kind of problem where their cells don’t respond well to insulin. “This condition, known as insulin resistance, causes blood sugar and insulin levels to stay high long after eating. Over time, the heavy demands made on the insulin-making cells wears them out, and insulin production slows, then stops. A sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, genes, and a diet rich in processed carbohydrates all promote insulin resistance and can be linked to diabetes” (1).

What is the Glycemic Index?

As stated earlier, carbohydrates are a little more complicated than categorizing simple carbs as bad and complex carbs as good. For example, French fries and starch in white bread qualify as complex carbohydrates. However, the body converts this starch to blood sugar nearly as fast as it processes pure glucose. This causes rapid spikes in blood sugar which promotes insulin resistance. Foods like whole oats and whole grains are digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood sugar. The glycemic index aims to classify carbohydrates based on how quickly and how high they boost blood sugar compared to pure glucose.

Glycemic Index

Many factors can affect a food’s glycemic index, including the following:

  • Processing: Grains that have been milled and refined—removing the bran and the germ—have a higher glycemic index than whole grains.
  • Type of starch: Starch comes in many different configurations. Some are easier to break into sugar molecules than others. The starch in potatoes, for example, is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream relatively quickly.
  • Fiber content: The sugars in fiber are linked in ways that the body has trouble breaking. The more fiber a food has, the less digestible carbohydrate it contains, and so the less sugar it can deliver.
  • Ripeness: Ripe fruits and vegetables tend to have more sugar than unripe ones, and so tend to have a higher glycemic index.
  • Fat content and acid content: The more fat or acid a food or meal contains, the slower its carbohydrates are converted to sugar and absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Physical form: Finely ground grain is more rapidly digested, and so has a higher glycemic index, than more coarsely ground grain.

Carbs and weight loss

In a year-long study, published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, overweight, premenopausal women were put on four types of diets: Atkins (a popular no carb diet), Zone, Ornish, or LEARN (a standard low-fat, moderately high-carbohydrate diet). In all four groups, the participants steadily lost weight in the first six months, with the most rapid weight loss occurring among the Atkins dieters. However, after the first six months, the women started to regain the weight. At the end of the year, the participants in the Akins group lost the most weight, about 10 pounds, compared with a loss of almost 6 pounds for the LEARN group, 5 for the Ornish group, and 3.5 for the Zone group. Though almost all the participants lost weight with their respective diets, the study showed that few of the women actually stuck with their diets after the study was over. More importantly, they rebounded. The women in the Atkins diet group, who had to restrict their carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day, took in triple that amount. Similar deviations were also found in the other group of diets.

The study shows that the most important component for losing weight and keeping it off long-term is to pick a dietary lifestyle that best suits you but is also full of healthy, clean foods. Yes, restricting yourself from carbs can help you lose weight fast, but as the study pointed out, it is also a strong possibility that you can rebound and gain the weight back twice as fast. If carbs have always been a big part of your diet, you shouldn’t cut them out completely. The idea is to choose healthy carbs that are unprocessed and high in fiber.

Sources 

1. “Carbohydrates: Good Carbs Guide the Way.” The Nutrition Source. Harvard School of Public Health, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2013.

Getting What You Want in Less Time

hifwomen.jpg

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, short, high-intensity interval workouts, also known as HIIT training, are one of the best methods to increase overall health and burn calories. Not only are more calories burned, cardiovascular improvements also happen faster with something as short as a 30-second high intensity workout than with a long steady endurance exercise.

“For example, a 154 pound person running at a pace of 8mph burns 320 calories in 20 minutes. That same person, walking at 3 mph for an hour, burns 235 calories” (1). Pete improves on this science with his High Intensity Fitness revolution. With High Intensity Fitness, the plan is to balance bursts of strength, speed, and intensity with recovery time. With this method, “your body will never get accustomed to the workouts and overtraining or burning yourself out is not an option” (2).

The top reasons why High Intensity Fitness works and why short workouts are better include:

1. Less time – Pete suggests that in order to get in better shape and achieve the results you want, no exercise needs to be longer than 20 or 30 minutes. With the High Intensity Fitness solution, not only are you building more muscle and burning more calories in a short amount of time, you’re getting better results than you would if you were to put moderate effort in an exercise for a longer period at the gym. This fitness plan is great for people with busy schedules, and who are always on the go.

2. Actual results –  High Intensity Fitness training has been proven by science and testimonials that it actually works. In a recent article from the New York Times, a research performed at “McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, showed that 30-second a high intensity workout was more productive than a 30-minute moderate intensity workout” (2)!

3. Increased Strength and Metabolism – High intensity workouts strengthen and tone the body where low intensity, high volume workouts do not. The more strength you have means the more muscle you have, and the more muscle you have means the higher your metabolism will be. Muscle burns 25 more calories than fat. When you start increasing your strength and building muscle with High Intensity Fitness, you’ll be burning more calories sitting a couch than your buddy who is doing hours of walking.

4. Stronger Bones – 44 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis (2). High intensity strength training works wonders in combating symptoms of osteoporosis and other bone deterioration through age by increasing bone density up to 13 percent in only six months (2).

5. Prevent Arthritis – Not only does high intensity training give you stronger bones, the increased muscle and strength will undoubtedly aid in join stability. The increased strength in connective tissues can help in preventing injuries and improving quality of life.

6. Get in the Best Shape of Your Life – Not only will you look great, you will feel great too. If you’re a woman, high intensity  fitness will give you a smaller, tighter, and stronger body. If you’re a man, you’ll get leaner, stronger, and have more muscle mass. The key difference between the results between the two sexes is the amount of testosterone produced. Because men produce more testosterone, especially with high intensity fitness training, they gain larger muscle mass.

Spend less time getting what you want. Learn more about Pete’s High Intensity Fitness Revolution at http://bit.ly/TBTUD3

Sources:

1.  Quinn, Elizabeth. “High Intensity Interval Training Benefits.”  About.com, 5 July 2012. Web. 02 Feb. 2013.

2.  Cerqua, Pete, and Tony Escobar. The High Intensity Fitness Revolution for Women: A Fast and Easy Workout with Amazing Results. New York: Skyhorse Pub., 2012. Print.