Spend 90 minutes in the kitchen on a Sunday and you’ll be thanking yourself all week long. This lo...
The Top 10 Tips for: Getting Fit Wanna get fit? If you’re just starting out, keep in mind it’s not going to happen overnight…but you can be lookin’ pretty good by next month with these tips. The reason most get-ripped regimens fail is because we simply expect way too much, way too soon. Big changes in your body require big changes in your lifestyle. Period. It took your whole life to be the way you are now, right? It’s going to take more than two days to start making changes to that. But these 10 pointers will get you started – and you’ll notice some very pleasant effects if you stick with them. You’ll be surprised that very few of them have anything to do with lifting so much as a finger. Fitness is many factors coming together – it’s a lot more than just hitting the gym (thank goodness). 1. Cut calories the lazy way. To shape up, you must reduce your fat so your muscles can start doing their thing. This is actually very, very easy to do: every time you go to put something in your mouth, don’t. No, no, just kidding! You have to eat. Here’s what to do: – in restaurants, eat half the plate and get the rest to go. Don’t eat it when you get home – let the dog or the neighbor kid with hollow legs enjoy it. – immediately run out and get yourself some 7″ plates. Those are now your dinner plates. Preso, portion sizes reduced. – Don’t eat anything crunchy, creamy, pale or fried. This pretty much takes care of all high-calorie, unhealthy foods. Examples: chips, ranch dressing, bread sticks, chicken nuggets. We know, veggies are crunchy. It’s not an absolute rule. Just a guide. – Switch all snacks to cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks or broccoli florets. Depending on how much you snack, you’ll save 200 to 600 calories a day doing this. 2. Don’t drink your calories. A little coffee or tea is one thing. But soda, shakes, iced coffee drinks, juices and energy drinks are overflowing with calories, which you don’t want, right? Don’t waste precious caloric intake on liquids that don’t fill you up. 3. Absolutely no drive-through or delivery food. McDonald’s likes to run those “Mommy and me” ads that show slender young Mommy eating salad while her ringlet-bedecked tutu-wearing darling is busy dipping apples into some sweet sap. Please. This stuff is generally more marketing than meaningful, so read the ingredients and avoid anything sweet or fried. Best to stick to fresher fare. 4. Move it! You don’t have to become a gym rat. You don’t have to sign up for the local 10K. But you need to move. Simply put, any movement that is more than you currently do is going to be effective. If you don’t ever work out, walking around the neighborhood for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week is going to start having an impact after just two … Continue reading “The Tuesday 10”Read More
Junior Apple Mike F. writes: “Mark, what can I eat? I hear dairy is bad, fat is bad, then fat is good, but some fat is bad, carbs are bad, but fiber is good. There is nothing left. I can’t even have milk in my tea now – not that I would be caught sipping tea. But if I wanted to is the point. What’s a guy supposed to eat?” Good question, Mike. The answer: just about everything. I am pretty disciplined (according to my kids, I’m a drill sergeant). I don’t really “do” carbs, I definitely avoid any junk or processed food, and I try to eat organic. But even being so careful about what goes on my plate, I’d say honestly I get a lot more flavor and variety than some people I know who insist on a steady diet of burgers, beers and pizzas. The truth is, “fun” foods like nachos, pizza and tacos all taste the same: the texture is usually a mix of creamy or crunchy, there’s a lot of salt, some meat-type seasoning, and sugar. Eat that stuff and you’re starving the next hour. You can eat salad and be a man about it. Seriously. I’m fitter, have more muscle mass and I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been at 5’10”, 165 lbs. and 8% body fat. I do it with a heavy supply of vegetables, of all things. I never worry too much about fat because I eat a lot of “good” fats, which really aren’t too hard to identify. More on that in a moment. But honestly, I never am deprived, hungry or suffer from any cravings. Actually, I refuse to eat something that isn’t delicious, period. To me, the relentlessly boring, salty, familiar flavor of most processed foods is not delicious. The fact that they’re also totally unhealthy is almost a side issue. This morning, for example, I had my cup of joe with a little organic H&H. I don’t always eat breakfast (there I go breaking all the holy grails of health). This morning I had some scrambled Omega-enhanced eggs, and sometimes I’ll have a piece of fruit or a protein smoothie. I confess I don’t eat a lot of fruit (my wife jokes that men like the idea of fruit but don’t always know what to do with it). I like to get my fiber from vegetables since they’re lower in sugar and have more nutrients than fruit. For a snack I’ll grab a piece of fruit, cherry tomatoes or some almonds. I completely avoid processed snacks like chips and candy. Fresh stuff just tastes better – but it will take your body some time to readjust its tastes if you’ve been a junk food kind of guy. For lunch (speaking of lunch…): I always eat a huge salad. I’ve done so for 20 years. But no regular salad – I add in seafood or turkey, mountains of colorful chopped up veggies, and drizzle some balsamic vinegar on … Continue reading “I Can’t Eat Anything!”Read More
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites 1) Gosh, thanks, Labelman! The FDA has created an interactive online tool to help people better understand the Nutrition Facts Label. Visitors to the site learn to “Make Your Calories Count” with the help of Labelman. Yes. The program helps explain percentages, serving sizes and caloric information. The Nutrition Facts Label has been criticized virtually since its introduction. The label is perhaps misleading to some because it is based upon a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet, which is much more than many people, especially women, need to consume. Additionally, nutritional percentages are somewhat misleading. A candy bar may “only” have 20% of one’s daily recommended saturated fat intake, but that doesn’t make a candy bar healthy. The big problem with this percentage standard is that the actual product may be ridiculously high in fat, sodium or sugar, but appear to be “low” compared to the total daily limit. For example, a soda may contain about one-eighth of the recommended daily sugar for a 2,000-calorie-consumer. But soda is nothing more than sugar water and is therefore one of the worst things you can put in your body. Cynics in the health industry point out that this “percentage” comparison standard, which does not actually reflect the individual merit of the product, almost encourages unhealthy eating habits. We’re not sure how helpful a guy named Labelman could be, but we want to know why the standards are what they are, anyway. Who says 160 grams of carbohydrates a day is desirable? Is saturated fat really so terrible if it’s properly balanced with health fatty acids like Omega-3? And how about serving sizes – who really only drinks 8 ounces of something or eats 7 chips? Discuss, Apples. 2) Seven Ways, Same Result The New England Journal of Medicine released a study today that says newer tests are not appreciably better at predicting heart attacks than standard tests. Now, if you run a Google search for this story, you’ll find that they are all suspiciously alike – even newspapers in India are running the same lines. What that means? A press release or a statement from NEJM, most likely. (Yes, this happens all the time.) The study of some 3,900 people found that testing for CRP, homocysteine and other substances (considered the new rock stars in heart disease treatment) aren’t much better at predicting heart problems than a good old cholesterol or blood pressure test. This study reveals some interesting things. Let’s read between the lines. It doesn’t necessarily mean that CRP or homocysteine tests are bad; it simply means that obvious factors are enough to determine risk. Guess what those obvious factors are? Even the conservative NEJM discusses them: However, the standard risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history, advanced age, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and diabetes — proved to be just as accurate when it came to predicting heart disease. Testing cholesterol is still a great way to go, not because cholesterol is bad (like mainstream … Continue reading “Clickativity Scene”Read More
Check out a recent post in the Diet & Nutrition section by junior apple Annie B. She writes to tell us about a recent adventure to Boston Market, where she overheard two well-meaning ladies order the “healthy vegetable plate” of mashed potatoes, corn, and mac ‘n cheese. Hmm. We’re a little concerned about that meal being thought of by anyone as a “vegetable” plate. Potatoes, maybe. But macaroni and cheese is definitely not a vegetable. It’s fat (processed cheese) and refined starch (white pasta). But we’re most upset about corn. Friends, corn is not a vegetable. It’s not. We are perplexed as to when corn entered the American dietary lexicon as a veggie, because it’s a grain – and a really unhealthy grain at that. Corn is the most sugary, starchy, empty grain there is. You’re better off with white rice – seriously. (Not that we recommend eating a lot of white rice, because brown rice is higher in fiber and protein.) In fact, we hate corn. Now, we’re not talking about the occasional corn on the cob at the family BBQ. That’s probably not going to hurt anyone. But corn should not make up the veggie section of your meal plate, because it’s a high-glycemic sugarfest. In sum: corn is not a vegetable, and it’s a worthless grain. And yet, miraculously, it forms the basis of the American diet. The most maddening thing about all of this is that corn is the #1 ingredient in just about every processed food and fried food. How, you ask? Well, we have a lot of excess corn sitting around every year (mostly because the government still subsidizes corn farmers). What to do? A few decades ago, people figured out that turning corn into oil was really cheap and profitable. Never mind that corn oil is terrible for you when used in cooking: trans fat city, and no Omega-3’s! Yet corn oil, and its trans-fat twin, hydrogenated corn oil, are in everything. Take a look at just about any food in the middle aisles of your grocery store. Yep, corn oil. If it doesn’t have corn oil, it will have corn syrup. Sometimes both. Even worse is the corn sweetener situation. High fructose corn syrup is really, really cheap, which is great for food manufacturers. And it’s sweeter than sugar. What food manufacturer is going to say no to that? They won’t – not unless you tell them enough is enough. HFCS goes into soda, sports drinks, kids’ snacks, candy, and breakfast cereals, to name just a few items. The HFCS lobby has a really, um…colorful brown website (we can’t think of anything nice to say about it) that makes a big deal about how nutritious corn syrup is and how it’s the backbone of the American Diet. Seriously, is that something you want to be bragging about? With diabetes now a runaway epidemic, and corn syrup registering off the charts on the old insulin-response meter? Maybe the HFCS lobby lives in an … Continue reading “Corn Is Not a Vegetable”Read More
Today’s Smart Fuel isn’t any particular item. Instead, let’s address the real topic at hand: the mountain of Thanksgiving leftovers lurking in the fridge. Perhaps you really indulged yesterday and felt more like a stuffed turkey yourself than a human about to eat one. Or, perhaps you were the model of restraint. No need to reveal which one.
For the weekend, for everyone, the smartest way to fuel up is to give away the sweets, get in a few good workouts, and enjoy the turkey. High in protein and some good fats, turkey is a fairly healthy choice (certainly in comparison to pie, candied yams and stuffing).
I don’t want to be responsible for any Pilgrims turning over in their graves here, but I’m always a little amused (no…annoyed) at what Thanksgiving has become. Why can’t we have a holiday where we all get together and exercise? Or make food for the homeless? Or how about a potluck where everyone has to bring a new, undiscovered healthy food?
If Americans didn’t already eat like it were Thanksgiving every single day (as many do…look at the portions at most restaurants), I’d say dig in, gobble, and don’t wear your belt. Unfortunately, I don’t see many belts at all these days.
[tags] Thanksgiving, turkey, Pilgrims, leftovers [/tags]Read More
Apples are asking what I think about bread. The short answer: not very much. But this is an ongoing issue worthy of some debate, so let’s get it started:
In general, the best source of carbohydrates is a vegetable, not a grain (unless you are an athlete, in which case, you’re probably just trying to consume as many calories as possible).
Among other things, grains contain lectins, a mild toxin (is there such a thing as a mild toxin?). Technically, grains don’t “want” to be your next meal. They didn’t really evolve to be our food source – we humans exploited them when we figured out how easy they were to grow. Consequently, they’re in everything – especially processed foods – because they’re cheap and can be made into just about anything, from sauces to syrups to candies to side dishes.
It’s not for nothing that our ancestors ate only flesh (meat and fish), nuts, roots, fruits and berries, and grabbed at wild greens for fiber. In fact, there’s a whole dietary movement – sometimes called the Caveman diet, sometimes the Paleo diet – we cautiously subscribe to (I’m uncomfortable with extreme diets, though I also am uncomfortable with how we define “extreme”!) Why? Grains are a relatively new thing for humans, and the evidence increasingly points to the notion that this isn’t a good development. If you’re into learning more, check out our Carbs category.
I recommend that you stick to zero grains a day. On the whole, I stick to vegetables for my carbs – I just don’t really “do” carbs. Vegetables have far more vitamins, fiber and minerals than grain-sourced carbohydrates, and they are much lower in calories, giving you room for protein and vital fat. Vegetables also keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy, low level, so you don’t start pumping your pancreas to death.
Scientists point out that the human body was designed to subsist on a mixture of fresh vegetables, good fats (from nuts, fish, oils, and meats), and protein (from fresh meats, beans, a little dairy, and fish). Add in plenty of water, occasional fruit, and you’re set. On the whole, avoid the processed, unnatural, refined, sugary stuff. Try it for just one week and you’ll notice a big difference – really.
[tags] caveman diet, paleolithic diet, paleo diet, no-grain diet, sugar, blood sugar, grains, fiber, paleodan, anthropology [/tags]Read More