Fitness Resources

Month: September 2016

7 Habits to Cut for a Healthy Metabolism

By Tiffani Bachus / September 2016

Metabolism is a complex process that’s affected by more than just what you eat and how much you exercise. There are a number of factors that might be sabotaging your metabolism, and you might not even know it.


Inconsistent meal times

When your meals times come at regularly spaced intervals, your body uses up the calories for fuel and burns more calories in between meals. If your eating pattern is erratic, your body gets confused and isn’t quite sure when the next meal is coming, so it goes into conservation mode. Calorie burn is reduced and more food is put into storage (fat cells and glycogen stores).


Numerous studies have shown that sleep is a key factor in gaining and losing weight. When you do not get enough sleep, hormones that control hunger and fullness go haywire. Too much ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and too little leptin (the fullness hormone) get produced, which leaves you feeling hungry all day and you lose the ability to know when you are full. Plus, more cortisol gets produced, which increases cravings for starchy, sugary and fatty foods. Recent studies on chronic sleep deprivation suggest that the calories you eat are burned less efficiently. Aim for 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night.


Not Eating Enough

If you are “dieting” to lose weight, eating too few calories can actually backfire and keep you from achieving your goal. Yes, creating a calorie deficit will help you lose weight, but there is a point in each individual that cutting calories too low will put the body into starvation mode and slow down metabolism to keep you alive. Make sure you get enough calories and a balance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) to keep your metabolism from crashing.


Most people make the mistake of only doing cardio (aerobic) exercise because it burns a good amount of calories while it’s being done. But after the exercise is over, calorie burn returns to resting levels. Strength training is a key component of metabolism because it is directly linked to muscle mass. The more active muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate. Whether you lift weights, use resistance bands or use your own body weight for resistance, resistance creates microtears in the muscle tissue. As your body repairs these tears, muscle tissue grows and requires more calories to stay alive. One of the best ways to strength train to get the best response from your muscle is to focus on the eccentric (or lowering) portion of any move. Eccentric moves are more muscularly damaging and require more effort to repair than concentric movements (the lifting portion of a move), and thus increase metabolism more. So, slow down when you strength train to increase your metabolism.


Sitting Too Much

If you exercise an hour a day, but spend the other 23 hours sitting or lying down, your metabolism will slow down. Sitting for longer than 20 minutes can put your body into a more relaxed, non-energy-burning state. If your job keeps you chained to a desk or behind the wheel, get up once an hour to move around for a few minutes. Periodically moving is shown to help decrease triglycerides, blood sugar, waistlines and cholesterol as well as cause a small spike in metabolism.


Consider this tip a two-for-one: Drinking too little water leads to dehydration, which can cause you to burn up to 2% fewer calories. All your body’s cellular functions require water, so sip it often. Drinking ice cold water can increase your metabolism by a few calories as your body heats the water to body temperature. Aim for at least 2 liters of water a day; drink more during hot and humid weather and when you sweat. At the other extreme, too much alcohol can impact your metabolism because excessive alcohol causes your liver to focus on breaking down alcohol molecules instead of burning fat. Plus, the calories from alcohol can add up quickly and impact weight.


The mineral best known for building strong bones plays a key role in fat metabolism, which determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Some of the best dietary sources of calcium come from dairy—organic milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese—which also benefit muscles because they contain whey and casein, proteins that help to build muscle and prevent muscle breakdown. Research from McMaster University showed that women who consumed more dairy lost more fat and gained more muscle mass than those who consumed less.



We’ve saved the best for last. Stress is probably the number-one factor impacting metabolism. It increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that increases appetite and makes us reach for comfort foods. It can decrease our desire for exercise, even though exercise is a powerful stress-buster. Stress slows digestion, causing a lower need to metabolize calories. Plus, stress can impact both the quality of sleep and number hours we sleep, which, as described earlier, can decrease metabolism and promote weight gain

Six Protein-Packed Snacks You Should be Reaching For

Written by Lisa Lillien // September 2016

An Egg Mug (a.k.a. Microwave Egg Scramble)

Image result for egg mug
You might not think of an egg scramble as a snack, but I promise you it’s a perfect pick. Low in calories, high in protein, and super easy to make. It’s everything you could ask for from a snack!Here’s how to make one. Start with a large microwave-safe mug and spritz it with nonstick spray. Add about 3/4 cup egg whites or fat-free liquid egg substitute, plus your favorite omelette seasonings. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in a tablespoon of reduced-fat cheese, microwave for one more minute, and voila—a perfectly portion-controlled snack with just about 120 calories and 20 grams of protein.

Sliced Turkey Breast

Image result for turkey slices

Turkey breast slices are a totally underrated snack choice. A 2-oz. serving (about 2 – 4 slices) has 13 grams of protein and only 60 calories—that’s a big protein bang for a small calorie investment! Sodium counters: Look for reduced-sodium or no-salt-added varieties. Either eat them straight or wrap them around pickle spears or cucumber slices for some crunch.

For a more substantial snack, wrap the slices around a stick of light mozzarella string cheese: That’ll bring your snack to a total of about 120 calories and 20 grams of protein. Talk about a satisfying snack!

Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Image result for greek yogurt

You’ve probably heard that Greek yogurt has more protein than the regular kind, but did you know that a 5.3-oz. container has about 16 grams of protein? It’s true! And it only has around 100 calories. Just make sure you’re getting the 0 percent fat kind. Full-fat yogurt is much higher in calories. Try some of the new Simply 100 flavors from Chobani, like Strawberry Banana or Mixed Red Berry.

Hard-Boiled Egg Whites

Image result for egg whites boiled

Egg whites are protein powerhouses in their own right (there are 3.5 grams of protein in a 17-calorie egg white). And when you hard-boil them and slice ‘em in half, they become the perfect vessel for holding even more protein. Pop out the yolks and add a tablespoon or two of your favorite topper. Tuna and hummus are great because they add filling protein to the snack, and salsa is another fantastic choice because it gives you a lot of flavor for very few calories.


Image result for jerky

Jerky has gone beyond beef… there are delicious meat snacks out there in turkey, pork, chicken, and even vegan varieties. It makes a fantastic emergency snack because it’s shelf stable, portable, and totally delicious!

Keep your eye on those nutritional labels, though, because some kinds are loaded with fatty calories. Case in point? Bacon jerky. Look for a 1-oz. serving with around 80 calories and 10 grams of protein. Some of my current favorite brands are Simply Snackin, Krave Jerky, and Lorissa’s Kitchen.

Protein Bars with 200 Calories or Less

Image result for protein bars

A protein-packed snack bar can be a smart and convenient choice, but be careful about your selection. Always read nutrition labels. Some bars have upwards of 350 calories! Look for one with around 200 calories and at least 10 grams of protein. Bonus points if it has several grams of fiber. Some of my top picks include Quest Double Chocolate Chunk bars and Luna Protein bars. They taste like dessert, but pack a serious protein punch.

Best Exercises for Strong Bones

By Elizabeth Quinn // September 2016

Build Stronger Bones with the Right Moves

Couple running up stairs

There are plenty of good reasons to lift weights as part of a regular workout routine. Increasing muscle mass and tone makes nearly every physical activity easier to do, it helps avoid unwanted fat gain, it improves athletic performance and it can dramatically improve self-confidence and self-esteem. But one of the best reasons for women to add more weight-bearing exercise to their workouts is to build stronger bones, which may prevent the onset of osteoporosis in older age.

Any time you strengthen your muscles, you strengthen the bones, but some exercises are more effective at the job. Weight-bearing exercises, such as running, jumping, hopping and lifting weights, are the most effective type of exercise for strengthening the bones.

It’s never too late to increase bone density by adding strength training exercises. Studies show that even people in their 60’s and beyond, can significantly increase the density of their bones when they perform regular weight lifting exercises.

So just what are the best exercises for building bone density?

Barbell squat exercise

Lift Weights for a Greater Bone Density

One of the best ways to build stronger bones is to do regular weight lifting exercises such as  squats, lunges and other full-body weight training exercises. This sort of exercise has been shown to help build bone density quickly in people of all ages. The goal of strength training is to safely lift a heavy enough weight so that you are taxing the muscles, but not so much that you have poor form or sloppy technique. Ideally, lift as much weight as you can safely control for 6-10 repetitions, rest and repeat a total of three times.

If you are new to weight lifting, get guidance from a coach or trainer to avoid unsafe lifting technique and reduce your risk of injury. Start with lighter weights that you can easily control, and over time, build up to heavier weights.

There are many different exercises you can add to a routine designed to improve bone strength, but five of the best include:

  1. Squats
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Weighted Walking Lunges
  4. Push Ups
  5. Dumbbell Rows

Jumping builds bone density

Jump Your Way to Stronger Bones

Any exercise that involves hops, jumps and bounding movements can also increase bone density. This type of high-intensity impact exercise creates a significant force on the muscle, joints and bones, which is actually good for bone building, but it can also lead to injuries if you haven’t been engaging in high-impact exercise, so caution is advised for those just getting started.

Need a jump rope? Buy from Amazon.

If you aren’t convinced that jumping can build bones, in 2015, researchers showedthat middle-aged women who did a series of hopping exercises twice a day for four months significantly increased the bone density in their hips. This is great news because hip fractures in older women can be debilitating.

The best jumping exercises for better bones include:

  1. Rope Jumping
  2. Jump Training
  3. Plyometrics

Running for better bones

Moderate-impact Activities Strengthen Bones

Moderate-impact exercises such as running, hiking, stair climbing, and yoga are other good ways to give your bones a workout.  While moderate impact exercise doesn’t give you the same bang for the buck as the more forceful exercises (weight lifting and jumping), they do put enough stress on the muscles and bones to improve the density of the bones particularly in the lower body, hips and lower spine.

And although it’s not considered an exercise specifically for building bones, balance training is also recommended for anyone who wants to improve muscle strength, coordination and stability which can go a long way to decrease the likelihood of falls or fractures, particularly in older adults when bones are often slower to heal.

The best moderate-impact exercises for building bone density include:

  1. Running or Jogging
  2. Stair climbing
  3. Yoga or Pilates
  4. Hiking
  5. Rowing
  6. Balance Training


How to hit the grocery store with health in mind

Healthy food doesn’t just magically show up at your house. You’ve got to shop for it, and with the overwhelming number of choices available in today’s grocery stores, this can be challenging. Here are seven tips on how to fill your cart with the good stuff.

1. Shop the Perimeter

If you’ve heard one grocery store rule, it’s probably this: shop the perimeter. The reasoning behind this trick is that the middle aisles house the junk. The perimeter of the grocery store is where you are more likely to encounter whole, real foods like produce, lean protein and healthy dairy options.

But don’t give up on all aisle-based options. Low sodium canned beans, seasonings to spice up your meals, and healthy grains and cereals can all be found in the central aisles. Just make sure to read all packaged food labels so you know what you’re putting into your body; and generally, linger longer in the perimeter of the store.

2. Don’t Bulk up on Bulk

Bulk foods are great if you really need to buy in bulk. But most people are buying for an average of two to four people. Buying in bulk can give you a false sense of frugality. If you bring too much of one food into your home, chances are you’ll end up tossing some of it. Shy away from bulk foods unless you’re certain they’re your best bet.

3. Avoid the Endcaps

Avoid the Endcaps

Food companies pay premium prices to catch your eye. You know those captivating displays at the end of each aisle? They’re called endcaps. And when was the last time an endcap featured a truly healthy food you absolutely had to have?

Endcaps tend to display new packaged and processed items that are light on nutrients and heavy on added fats and sugars. The story may be different if you’re at an exclusive health foods store, but endcaps are best left alone at your typical grocery store.

4. Do Not Leave Home Without a List

If you’re the meal planner in your household, you know the importance of a making a grocery store list. Showing up at the store and winging it can cause you to purchase items you don’t need. A grocery list can be your best friend when you’re shopping for healthy foods. Stick to the list like it’s your job to help you avoid items that don’t deserve a space in your cart.

5. If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Buy It

It’s inevitable that you’ll have to buy some sort of packaged foods if you want to achieve balance and variety in your weekly meal plan. But one way to avoid the worst of the worst of grocery store offerings is to carefully scrutinize ingredient lists.

Ingredients are listed on food labels in order by weight. The higher up on the ingredient list an item is the greater percentage it constitutes. If a food is packed up top with a litany of ingredients you can’t pronounce, chances are it shouldn’t be going into your mouth. This may seem time consuming at first, but as you identify foods with clean ingredient lists, you’ll add them to your regular routine and bypass the garbage with grace.

6. Carefully Consider Organics

Carefully Consider Organics

In a perfect world we would all eat organic. But organic isn’t an option for everyone, or for every type of food. Some organic foods are prohibitively expensive, while others may have been shipped from halfway around the world. Many organic foods are just highly processed, seemingly more healthful iterations of traditional junk food. Remember—an organic cookie is still a cookie.

Although organic produce has been grown without genetic modification, fertilizers, chemical pesticides, herbicides or irradiation, organic fruits and vegetables may not be significantly more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts. The amount of vitamin C in an organic strawberry is relatively similar to that of a non-organic one. You can do your part for the environment by purchasing organic, but don’t ditch conventional produce if you can’t afford or access organics.

7. Know That “Natural” Means Nothing

Food manufacturers love to prey the general population’s misunderstanding of the word “natural.” While this word conjures up images of health and virtue, the term “natural” on a food label actually means nothing. There is no widely accepted standard for use of this word. You can have the most highly processed, not nutritious, glorified candy bar and it can bear the label, “natural.” Keep in mind that if you’re reading the word “natural” on a label, that label is on a package, and that packaged food is just that—packaged and not all that natural.