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Are You Using the Right Cooking Oils?

Did you know that fats are essential nutrients that are fundamental to how the body functions? In fact, fats are integral to cell structure and also are included in hormones that control muscle contraction, immune function, blood clotting and blood pressure. Additionally, when it comes to healthy eating, there are some vitamins (A, D, E and K) that require fat to be fully absorbed and usable in the body.

The fat in nearly all foods is a mixture of fatty acids—saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. You want to choose fats that are unsaturated more often. Unsaturated fats are oils—they are plant-based and liquid at room temperatures. These types of fats are considered a better nutrition choice because of the positive effects they have on cardiovascular health.

It can be a challenge to know which oils to use when cooking. You want to make healthy choices, but you also want your food to turn out delicious. Here is a brief primer on how to choose the right oils, along with detailed descriptions of the most common oils you’re likely to use.

 The Smoke Point of Cooking Oils

When it comes to choosing an oil, it’s important to know an oil’s smoke point, which is the temperature at which heated the oil begins to produce smoke and burn. When this happens, it causes the healthy components of the oil to degrade into damaging free radicals. Because each type of oil has a different smoke point, certain oils are better for different types of cooking techniques. The higher the cooking temperature (frying, for example), the higher you want the oil’s smoke point to be to prevent it from burning.

Refined Versus Unrefined Cooking Oils

Cooking oils are extracted from plants, nuts and seeds. This extraction can be from the use of pressure (also known as cold-pressing) or processing using mechanical, thermal and/or chemical processes. The refinement of an oil can change both the flavor and the smoke point. The more refined the oil, the higher the smoke point. The less processed the oil is, the more flavorful the oil will be.

 Types of Oils

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): An unrefined and unaltered oil extracted from olives

  • Nutrition: A very high monounsaturated fat composition. Additionally, EVOO contains hydroxytyrosol, which is a phytonutrient that protects vascular health.
  • Flavor: Intense olive taste, fruitier flavor and low acid
  • Smoke Point: Low (around 325 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Use for lower-heat cooking or in baking to substitute for butter. Best in salad dressings or dips where the flavor can take center stage.

Olive Oil: Blend of EVOO (usually around 10%) combined with refined olive oil

  • Nutrition: A high monounsaturated fat composition
  • Flavor: Mild, lighter and less olive-like flavor
  • Smoke Point: Medium (ranging from 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Use it for low- to medium-temperature cooking, such as sautéing and stir-frying.

 Canola Oil: A refined oil extracted from the seed of a yellow flowering plant called a rapeseed

  • Nutrition: A high composition of both mono- and polyunsaturated fats
  • Flavor: Very light; allows the flavors of the food to shine
  • Smoke Point: Medium smoke point (around 425 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Works well for medium-temperature cooking such as sautéing and stir-frying.

Nut/Seed Oil (such as walnut or pumpkin): Unrefined oil extracted from nuts/seeds

  • Nutrition: A high composition of polyunsaturated fats. Additionally, both walnut and pumpkin oils have a high linolenic acid content, which converts to omega-3s to support heart health.
  • Flavor: A rich nutty flavor
  • Smoke Point: Very low (around 320 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Best when not cooked at all or only at very low cooking temperatures. Instead, use it to add a tasty flavor to salad dressings and marinades.

Peanut Oil: A refined oil made from peanuts

  • Nutrition: A high composition of both mono- and polyunsaturated fats
  • Flavor: A strong peanut flavor and aroma
  • Smoke Point: High (around 450 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Ideal for frying foods or making popcorn. Also, great to use when you want to give a slight peanut flavor to food.

Avocado Oil: A refined oil made from the fruit of an avocado

  • Nutrition: A very high composition of monounsaturated fats
  • Flavor: A delicate, buttery and slightly nutty flavor profile
  • Smoke Point: Very high when refined (around 520 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Versatile; can be used in both high-heat cooking or as a finishing oil on salads

Coconut Oil: A refined oil made from the meat of a coconut

  • Nutrition: A high saturated-fat ratio
  • Flavor: A slightly sweet coconut flavor
  • Smoke Point: Low to medium (around 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cooking: Most commonly used in baked goods, but can lend a delicious coconut flavor to sautéing or stir-frying.

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about healthy eating with Nutrition for Sports, Exercise and Weight Management.

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Author

Rebecca Lewis

Contributor

Rebecca Lewis is Registered Dietitian on a mission to change the world by empowering people to take control of their health. Her passions lie in getting people back into the kitchen, reconnecting them with fresh foods, and rebuilding their confidence to have FUN with cooking. She is a champion of nutrients and a world traveler who loves peanut butter. As a fitness enthusiast, she enjoys Crossfit, the aerial arts, running, dancing, and yoga.

21 EASY FOOD SWAPS

When it comes to weight management, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and decreasing inflammation, making small, incremental dietary changes is the way to go. Trying to make too many changes all at once can be a recipe for disaster—this can cause you to feel overwhelmed and make you want to give up. Instead, try modifying each snack and meal by swapping out one or more ingredients.

BREAKFAST

Breakfast

  1. Instead of a bacon, sausage, and cheese omelet, try a spinach, mushroom, and onion (or your choice of veggies) omelet. You’ll lose the unhealthy saturated fat and sodium and replace it with inflammation-fighting antioxidants and belly-filling fiber.
  2. Instead of a bagel and cream cheese, try a whole grain English muffin with nut butter. Lose the refined carbohydrates and empty calories and fill up on fiber, protein and healthy fats.
  3. Instead of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, try plain Greek yogurt and add fresh berries and nuts or seeds. The “fruit” on the bottom is more sugar than fruit. Reduce the sugar content by adding fresh, seasonal fruit and then top with crunchy nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.) or seeds (chia, ground flax or hemp) for added fiber and healthy fats.
  4. Instead of toasted white bread with butter and jam, try whole grain toast with cottage cheese, cinnamon and banana slices. Replace the empty calories, fat and sugar with fiber, protein and good carbohydrates.

LUNCH

Lunch

  1. Instead of ham and cheese with mayo on white bread, try turkey, avocado and tomato on whole grain bread. Ham, cheese and mayo are full of sodium and unhealthy fats and white bread is just refined, processed carbohydrates. Go for lower sodium turkey for protein, avocado for healthy fats, and tomato and whole grain bread for fiber.
  2. Instead of a hamburger and fries, try a lettuce-wrapped grilled chicken breast sandwich with baked sweet potato. Ditch the high sodium and bad fats for lean protein and a sweet spud.
  3. Instead of egg salad made with mayo, try egg salad made with mustard and mashed avocado. Eggs are a great source of protein, but artery-clogging mayo is no way to go. Mustard adds a lot of tang and avocado is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
  4. Instead of a Cobb salad (lettuce, turkey, bacon, blue cheese, avocado and egg with creamy dressing), try a grilled vegetable salad topped with grilled wild salmon and a Dijon-balsamic vinaigrette. A Cobb salad is a saturated fat bomb! Lighten up your salad and supercharge your veggies by grilling them and add the all-important protein to keep you fuller for longer. Replace the creamy, high-calorie dressing with a vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil (healthy fat), which can help with digestion and absorption of vitamins.

DINNER

Dinner

  1. Instead of a steak and mashed potatoes, try wild Alaskan salmon and roasted garlic mashed cauliflower. The fat and sodium in steak and mashed potatoes makes your arteries shake with fear. Wild Alaskan salmon is filled with inflammation-fighting omega-3 fats and mashed garlic cauliflower is a delicious (and sneaky) way to consume those cancer-fighting veggies.
  2. Instead of spaghetti with meatballs, try spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs and marinara sauce. Spaghetti squash, which tricks you into thinking you’re eating pasta, is all the rage for people trying to cut carbohydrates or go Paleo, and it’s delicious. Top it with turkey for protein and lycopene-rich marinara sauce for long-lasting energy.
  3. Instead of a loaded burrito (chicken, beans, rice, cheese, sour cream and guacamole), try a burrito bowl, which is a bowl layered with brown rice, black beans, grilled chicken, pico de gallo and avocado. Lose the oversized, 200-calorie, refined, processed tortilla and eliminate the high-fat cheese, but keep the flavor with the pico de gallo (chunky salsa) and add creaminess with avocado.
  4. Instead of steak fajitas in flour tortillas, try shrimp fajitas in corn tortillas. Shrimp is a healthier protein choice than steak and corn tortillas have more nutritional value than empty-calorie flour tortillas. Just stick to two tortillas and fill up on the filling.

SNACK

Snack

  1. Instead of hummus and pita, try hummus and sliced veggies. Ditch the processed carbs from the pita and swap them out with fiber- and antioxidant-filled red peppers, carrots, and cucumbers; and pair the veggies with protein and healthy fats, found in hummus.
  2. Instead of cheese and crackers, try string cheese with an apple. String cheese is made from part-skim mozzarella cheese, which is lower in saturated fat than cheddar cheese. Pair it with a high-fiber apple (or fruit of your choice) to get long-lasting energy.
  3. Instead of a granola bar, try a homemade trail mix with raw nuts (almonds, walnuts and pistachios) and dried fruit (apricots and tart cherries). Granola bars (and most energy bars) are often candy bars in disguise, and filled with unwanted sugar. What you need is protein, healthy carbs, and good-for-you fats, which is what you get in nuts as well as high-energy dried fruit. Use about ¼ cup of each for a perfectly portioned snack.

DESSERTS/SWEETS

  1. Instead of traditional ice cream, try making ice cream in your food processor with frozen bananas and top with a few dark chocolate chips. Freeze ripe (peeled) sliced bananas and then pop them into a food processor for a creamy ice cream swap. Add some heart-healthy dark chocolate for a delicious and nutritious dessert.
  2. Instead of a slice of blueberry pie, try cooking fresh or frozen blueberries with cinnamon and topping them with plain Greek yogurt. Get the sweetness from the fruit and cinnamon (no need to add any sugar) and protein from the yogurt and enjoy a creamy, sweet and satisfying treat.
  3. Instead of chocolate pudding, make chocolate chia pudding by mixing ½ cup almond milk with 2 Tbsp. chia seeds and 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder. Stir and let sit in refrigerator for a few hours until thick. The antioxidants found in cocoa powder are good for your heart and the chia seeds give you protein, fiber, and healthy fat, which will keep you full for hours.

DRINKS

Drinks

  1. Instead of a latte, try a café Americano. There’s no need to drink your calories. Just add a splash of milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon and you should be good to go.
  2. Instead of sweetened iced tea, try iced green tea. Green tea contains the thermogenic antioxidant EGCG, but in order to reap its benefits, don’t load it down with inflammation-promoting sugar.
  3. Instead of soda, try mixing plain seltzer water with some tart cherry juice. If you like the crispness of soda but don’t want the sugar or artificial sweeteners found in diet soda, mix club soda with any dark juice (blueberry, pomegranate, tart cherry or cranberry) for a shot of flavor and a dose of antioxidants.

 

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Author

U Rock Girl!

Contributor

Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N., are the co-founders of U Rock Girl!, a website designed to nourish the mind, body and spirit of women of all ages and stages of life. They have just authored the rockin’ breakfast cookbook, No Excuses! 50 Healthy Ways to ROCK Breakfast! available at www.URockGirl.com

5 Seasonal Foods Not to Miss This Spring

When it comes to healthy eating, seasonal foods have so many benefits to offer. Not only are these five foods available at the peak of their ripeness, giving them maximum flavor and nutrition density, but they are also at their least expensive price.

Peas

Biting into these vibrant green beauties is sure to release a juicy and sweet pop of flavor. You can incorporate peas into a quick pasta or even as part of slow-cooked risotto. And, if the spring weather is still a bit chilly, whipping up a creamy pureed pea soup is both quick and easy.

  • Did You Know? Peas are a wonderful plant-based source of protein. A 100-calorie serving has more protein than a hard-boiled egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter.
  • Nutrition Facts: Peas are a good source of both vitamin C and vitamin K.
  • Pair With: Mint, chives, tarragon and mushrooms

Asparagus

This springtime ingredient is extremely versatile and can be roasted, grilled, boiled or even sautéed. Moreover, asparagus works perfectly cooked in a breakfast quiche, used in a lunchtime Nicoise salad, or served alongside a grilled piece of salmon or steak, making it that much easier to get in the extra servings of veggies we all need.

  • Did You Know? You can enhance the glowing green color of asparagus by blanching it. To do so, bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the asparagus for 1-2 minutes (depending on thickness). Next, remove the asparagus from the boiling water and immediately place inside an ice-cold bowl of water. The result is a gorgeous green seasonal food that is as pleasing to look at as it is to eat.
  • Nutrition Facts: Asparagus is a good source of vitamin K and folate.
  • Pair with: Lemon, almonds, parmesan and garlic

Leafy Greens

One of the first indications of spring is the tender unfurling of leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss chard, arugula, romaine and other lettuces.  Regardless of form, all greens are considered healthy additions to a balanced diet.

  • Did You Know? Most leafy greens taste the sweetest after a frost. Additionally, you can reduce the bitter flavor of greens by adding an acid like lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Nutrition Facts: Leafy greens have some of the highest concentrations of vitamins—especially A, C, and K—as well as minerals like calcium, folic acid and iron.
  • Pair With: Citrus, vinegar, nuts, and seeds

Radishes

The satisfying crispy crunch of radishes is complemented by the lovely mild pepper flavor they provide. While most people consume raw radishes, you can give them a quick pickle to turn up the flavor in tacos, or even roast them to bring out a caramelized sweetness.

  • Did You Know? Radishes grow quickly and are ready to eat just 25-30 days after planting. If you want to test your green thumb, this is an ideal food to plant.
  • Nutrition Facts: Radishes are loaded with both fiber and vitamin C.
  • Pair With: Thyme, leeks, butter, and fish

Rhubarb

The delightful mix of sweet and sour make rhubarb a great seasonal food with which to experiment. While the most common way to use rhurbarb is to bake it into a sweet dessert, you can also pickle it for use in fresh salads.

  • Did You Know? Rhubarb gets its pretty reddish pink color from a phytochemical called anthocyanin. In fact, the color of rhubarb can tell you whether the plant was grown outside or inside. Rhubarb grown outside will be a vibrant red, which also indicates more sweetness. Conversely, rhubarb grown indoors in a hothouse will have a color that tends to be pale red and a taste that is more tart.
  • Nutrition Facts: Rhubarb is a good source of vitamins K and C, as well as the mineral calcium.
  • Pair With: Strawberries, basil, honey and balsamic vinegar
Post Author

Author

Rebecca Lewis

Contributor

Rebecca Lewis is Registered Dietitian on a mission to change the world by empowering people to take control of their health. Her passions lie in getting people back into the kitchen, reconnecting them with fresh foods, and rebuilding their confidence to have FUN with cooking. She is a champion of nutrients and a world traveler who loves peanut butter. As a fitness enthusiast, she enjoys Crossfit, the aerial arts, running, dancing, and yoga

5 Nutrient Deficiencies You Need to Know About

With a well-balanced diet, it is certainly possible for a healthy person to obtain all of the vitamins and minerals he or she needs from foods alone. Dietary supplements are not a replacement for eating healthful foods; rather, they are intended to do just what their name implies—to supplement a diet.

There are circumstances, however, in which the foods we eat may not provide all of the important nutrients that our body needs, resulting in a nutrient deficiency. Here’s a quick rundown of five nutrient deficiencies that are more common than you might think.

Vitamin D: Calcium’s Best Buddy

When it comes to nutrient deficiencies, vitamin D is arguably the most common. A large majority (some reports estimate up to 95% of the U.S. population age 19 and older) does not meet recommended vitamin D intake levels. That is probably due to the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of naturally occurring food sources of vitamin D. Furthermore, the largest source of vitamin D—fortified dairy products like milk—tend to be foods that we eat less of as we grow older.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in helping bones absorb calcium. It is found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as certain types of mushrooms. Your body forms vitamin D naturally when skin is exposed to sunlight, but most of us don’t spend much time outside, so fortified dairy products such as milk and yogurt are going to be your best food sources of vitamin D. Adults aged 19-70 should aim to get 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day. If foods don’t provide that amount, your healthcare provider may suggest a supplement.

Vitamin E: Get Yours From Foods Instead of Pills

Next up on the list of nutrients you may not be eating enough of is vitamin E. Like vitamin D, vitamin E is also a fat-soluble vitamin, but it is found in fatty foods such nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

About 94% of adults over age 19 eat less than the estimated average requirement for vitamin E. Due to potential health risks associated with large doses of vitamin E pills, however, widespread supplementation is not routinely recommended. Instead, shift your food intake to make sure you are eating a variety of healthful fats that will help you bump up your vitamin E levels from food-based sources to meet your needs.

Make Magnesium Matter More in Your Diet

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic pathways in your body. It helps make proteins, controls blood sugar and blood pressure, bone health and is needed for making DNA, RNA and the antioxidant glutathione.

Despite its position of supreme importance in the body, more than 60% of adults older than 19 don’t meet the estimated average requirement for magnesium. One way you can increase your intake is to bump up your intake of dark green leafy vegetable and whole grains. Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals are also a good source of this important mineral.

Iron: This One’s for the Ladies

About 14-18% of Americans currently take a supplement containing iron; and iron supplement takers tend to be overwhelmingly female. That’s because women are at higher risk for iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia due to biological factors such as menstruation and lower intakes of high heme-iron foods, such as meat, fish and poultry.

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) states that those at high risk for insufficient iron intake include infants, young children, teenaged girls, pregnant women and premenopausal women. Animal foods such as meat, fish and poultry are good sources of the easily absorbed form of iron called heme iron.

Although plant foods contain iron, it is in the less readily absorbed non-heme iron form. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat. If you’re concerned about iron status, check with your primary care provider who can test for deficiency and anemia before recommending you start a supplement.

Vitamin A is Important for More Than Just Your Eyes

Although vitamin A deficiency is not widespread in the North American population, slightly more than 50% percent of people still do not meet the estimated average requirement for this fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin A is well known for the role it plays in vision, but it also impacts immune function, reproduction and your body’s cellular communication as well.

You can make sure you’re getting enough by consuming both preformed vitamin A (from animal foods, such as milk and eggs) and provitamin A, found in leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes and fruits. Increasing the variety of both the plant and animal foods you eat ensures you get adequate amounts of the all-important vitamin A.

Learn more about how to eat for better health with Nutrition for Sports, Exercise and Weight Management. 

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Katie Ferraro

Contributor

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RDN, CDE is a consultant dietitian and diabetes educator specializing in nutrition communications and family feeding. As a mom to 5 small children and creator of the popular blog The Fortified Family, Katie believes that good food fuels strong families. You can read more of her work at www.fortifiedfam.com

10 Things to Know About Fat and Exercise

Fat is not a four-letter word, although many still consider it a dirty word when it comes to nutrition, fitness and exercise. Those who lived through the ‘90s undoubtedly remember when the food industry marketed everything as “low-fat” in the guise that it was a healthier option. While it’s true that having high levels of body fat can be a risk factor for many types of chronic diseases, dietary fat—specifically, the right kinds of fat—is an essential component of a healthy diet.

Here are 10 things to know about fat as it relates to helping create the energy your body needs for your favorite physical activities.

  1. The terms “fat” and “lipids” are used interchangeably when discussing how the body metabolizes energy. Lipids include triglycerides, which are formed by combining a glycerol with three fatty acids, fatty acids and cholesterol. The majority of lipids in food and the body are in the form of triglycerides.
  1. In the human body, fat can be stored in skeletal muscle, the liver and adipose tissue, and is used for many functions. This includes providing structure for cell membranes, insulating and protecting vital organs, regulating endocrine system function (how hormones are produced), helping transport vitamins and minerals around the body, and as a source of energy for many cellular functions. Fat provides approximately 70% of the energy for bodily functions when at rest and during low-intensity physical activity.
  1. Fat contains carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Because fatty-acid chains have more carbon and hydrogen relative to oxygen, they yield more energy per gram. Fats provide 9 calories of energy per gram while proteins and carbohydrates each produce 4 calories per gram.
  1. There are different types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fatty acids contain hydrogen on the carbon bonds. Because the body can produce these fats on its own, there are no dietary requirements for the consumption of saturated fats. Unsaturated fats contain double carbon bonds with fewer hydrogen molecules. Fatty acids with one double carbon bond are called monounsaturated, while fatty acids with two or more carbon bonds are polyunsaturated.
  1. Saturated fats tend to be solid when at room temperature and can be found in animal, dairy and packaged food products in addition to coconut and palm kernel oils. A diet high in saturated fats could be a risk factor for heart disease.
  1. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats include the essential (meaning they must be consumed in the diet) omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of cold water fish and omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in soybean, corn and safflower oils (and foods made with those oils). Monounsaturated fats are found in olive, peanut and canola oils. Other foods that contain poly- and monounsaturated fats include avocados, flax and chia seeds, and almonds.
  1. Lipolysis is the breakdown of triglycerides into a glycerol and three fatty acids for the purpose of producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the chemical that fuels muscle activity. When the body needs energy for physical activity, the sympathetic hormone norepinephrine acts with receptor cells in adipose tissue to release the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which breaks up triglycerides into the free fatty acids used by the mitochondria during a process called beta oxidation. The result is that the three fatty acids and one glycerol of a single triglyceride can produce 457 molecules of ATP. By comparison, glycolysis (the conversion of glycogen to ATP) yields 36 ATP molecules per one unit of glucose. Lipolysis is a slower process, which explains why it is the dominant source of energy during periods of rest or low-intensity physical activities. Glycolysis creates ATP more quickly, which makes it the “go-to” choice for ATP during moderate- to high-intensity physical activities. High-intensity interval training can burn more calories, while low- to moderate-intensity steady-state exercise can help improve aerobic capacity.
  1. The myth of the fat-burning zone is not really a myth—lipolysis requires oxygen, which is readily available during lower-intensity physical activities. Muscles use primarily fat as the source of ATP during low-intensity activity; however, as the intensity of exercise increases, the demand for energy is greater and the working muscles will need ATP more quickly than lipolysis can provide. While muscles relying on lipolysis for energy are using fat, the overall energy consumption is relatively low. In other words, working at an intensity at which lipolysis is the primary source of ATP will not burn that many total calories.
  1. Stress can increase body fat. During periods of stress, or in reaction to certain drinks that elevate the sympathetic hormones of cortisol and norepinephrine, the body releases more triglycerides into the blood stream to be used for energy for the working muscles. However, if there is no significant physical activity to use that energy, those triglycerides will be returned to the adipose tissue for storage until they are needed.
  1. Trans fat is made when an unsaturated fat, which is normally liquid at room temperature, is hydrogenated (adding hydrogens) so that it turns into a solid. This manufacturing process increases the shelf life of a food product, which is why many packaged foods can be high in trans fats. However, because it changes the chemical structure of fat, trans fats have been linked to heart disease and elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

The food consumed in the daily diet should provide adequate levels of protein, which is used to repair damaged muscle fibers and produce new tissues, and carbohydrate and fat, which fuel cellular functions. One of the most important functions of fat in the diet is to provide a source of energy for a number of bodily functions, including muscle contractions for physical activity. Don’t think of fat as something bad that should be avoided; rather, think of it as an important source of energy for the body.

A healthy diet should contain adequate amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, with only limited amounts of saturated and trans fats. Let’s all agree to leave the “low-fat” nonsense in the past where it belongs, and appreciate the role of fat that it plays in supporting our favorite types of exercise.

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Author

Pete McCall

Health and Fitness Expert

Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and long-time player in the fitness industry. He has been featured as an expert in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Runner’s World and Self. He holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, and several advanced certifications and specializations with NSCA and NASM.

How to Squash a Sweet Tooth With No Added Sugar

by The Nutrition Twins
on February 28, 2018

If you’re like many people, you have spent a considerable amount of time trying to tame your sweet tooth. It’s worth noting that research has uncovered some of the reasons why some people are drawn more to sweets, while others prefer salty flavors. Importantly, here are some tips for managing your sweet tooth.
Blame It On Your DNA?


If you’ve always found yourself drawn to sweets, your DNA may be to blame:

You may have a FGF21 gene variant. A study published in Cell Metabolism found that if you have a variant of this gene, you are 20% more likely to enjoy and seek out sugary foods and drinks.
You may not be a “super-taster.” Other research has shown that some people (25% of the population) are what are called “super-tasters,” and these people are extremely sensitive to bitter foods. Super-tasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes simply because they have more taste papillae and taste receptors on their tongues that make them more sensitive to bitter tastes. They’re also more sensitive to sweet, salty and umami tastes, but to a lesser extent. They tend to have a reduced preference for sweet and high-fat foods. (Super-tasters also tend to consume more salt then non-tasters because salt masks bitter flavors.)

The good news is that none of us are doomed by our sweet-tooth tendencies. And with a few simple tricks, even if you find sweets to be the ultimate enticement, you can squash your sweet tooth without adding sugar. Here’s what to do:
1. Make sure to keep your body from ever craving a quick pick-me-up (sugar) by preventing your energy from dipping too low.

You can do this by consuming a source of fiber and protein at all meals and snacks to prevent blood sugar highs and crashes; this combination also provides a longer-lasting fuel boost. Obviously, you need to avoid very sugary foods, like sodas, candies and jellies. And finally, do your best to get seven hours of sleep. If you don’t sleep well or have an energy crash, it’s easier to succumb to cravings.
2. Reset your sweet-tooth palate.

Once you start eating sugary foods, your palate quickly adjusts and foods that are less sweet no longer satisfy your taste buds. In our current American food culture, most store-bought foods have high levels of added sugar to accommodate taste buds that now expect highly sweetened food.

To counteract this tendency, you have to be proactive and train your taste buds to become accustomed to a less sweet load. Super-tasters, non-tasters and everyone in between have one thing in common—their taste buds regenerate in about 10 days. This means that if you have a sweet tooth (or a salt tooth for that matter) and you consistently enjoy foods that aren’t as sweet (or as salty) compared to what you’re accustomed to, after about 10 days you’ll find that foods that are very high in sugar (or salt) will taste too sweet (or too salty).
3. Enjoy a “clean-your-palate” drink before you indulge in a sweet food to “reset” your palate.

These drinks can be slightly sweet, which can help satisfy a craving with very few, if any, calories. They also fill the stomach with water to bring on satiety and fullness so you can be better prepared to make smart snack choices and not overindulge on sweets. Sipping a slightly bitter and spicy beverage, like this Spicy Metabolism Booster, before a sweet treat can help you appreciate the sweetness of your indulgent food and make sweet foods more satisfying.
4. Use naturally sweet foods (without added sugars).

While your taste buds are “recalibrating,” healthier stand-ins for traditional sweets are a great way to indulge your sweet tooth while staying on track. Fruits are naturally sweet and, as an added bonus, they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, which makes them ideal for replacing traditional sweets when your cravings hit.

If you notice that your palate is accustomed to very sweet foods and substituting fruit is a struggle for you, start with baked fruit. When you bake fruits, their natural sweetness comes to the surface and taste delicious. Similarly, take advantage of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, fenugreek and ginger, all of which bring a natural sweetness.
Here are three desserts that can help squash a sweet tooth without added sugar.

Baked Apple (Serves 4)

4 apples (we recommend fuji or green tart apples, depending on what is available and your preferences, but any will work)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons vegetable-based butter spread (make sure it’s trans-fat free)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
From the top of the apple, scoop out the core, but do not cut all the way through. You simply want to create a well at the top of the apple. In each apple’s “well,” add 1/2 teaspoon of butter spread and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Place the apples in a baking pan with a lip or in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the apples are tender.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 apple): 89 Calories, 17 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat, 0 g protein, 4 g fiber, 4 g sodium
Skinny Speedy Walnut Oatmeal Cookies (Makes approximately 14 cookies)

1 cup quick rolled oats

2 overripe bananas
½ cup crushed walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix all three ingredients together.
Portion out 1 tablespoon of mixture on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 55 Calories, 2 g fat, 1 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 1 mg sodium
Easy Healthy Strawberry Mint “Ice Cream” (Serves 2)

1 cup strawberries, quartered (or frozen sliced strawberries)
2 fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup smooth and creamy yogurt, plain nonfat (we use plain but vanilla would work as well)

Put strawberries in a glass bowl and place in freezer for 30 minutes. Strawberries should be partially frozen, but not hard. (If using frozen strawberries allow them to sit at room temperature for about five to 10 minutes.) Using a blender, pulse the strawberries, mint and yogurt together. Once combined, blend on low speed for 15 seconds to make it very creamy. Place your “ice cream” back into the bowl, cover with wrap and freeze for at least 60 minutes. Divide into two bowls and serve. Tip: Allow this treat sit for a minute to get softer and it will taste even sweeter.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 40 Calories, 0 g fat, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 23 mg sodium

Expand your nutrition knowledge and learn how to translate that information into actionable lifestyle changes for clients with ACE’s Fitness Nutrition Specialist program. For a limited time, save 50% on this program.

The Nutrition Twins
Contributor
Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse (“Lyssie”) Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, share a passion to teach people how to eat healthfully and exercise so they’ll have energy to live happy lives. The twins have been featured as nutrition experts on Good Morning America, Discovery Health, Fox News, NBC, Bravo, CBS, The Learning Channel, FitTV, Oxygen Network, and Fox & Friends. They co-wrote The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty, The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop A Size & Get Healthier with Simple Low Sodium Swaps. The twins are both ACE Certified Personal Trainers, and members of the American Dietetic Association and several Dietetic Practice Groups.

5 Plant-Based Foods That Help Promote Weight Loss

by The Nutrition Twins
on

A growing body of research confirms the benefits of eating more plant-based meals. While many people assume that “plant-based” refers to eating no animal products whatsoever, it actually means focusing heavily on eating food from plants, such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits, while limiting (or eliminating) animal products. Plant-based meals are nearly always less expensive than animal-based meals, they’re better for the environment, and are typically better for your health and your waistline as well.

Here are five superstar plant-based foods that rock when it comes to weight loss—and that you should include in your diet regardless of whether or not your diet is plant-based:

beans

Beans

Packed with fiber and protein, beans are known to be good for your heart, but they’re also ultra-satisfying, so they help to curb your intake (and calories) at mealtime. They can even help prevent overeating at the next meal and at snack time. In fact, a study published in Food and Nutrition Research found that people who ate a meal in which beans were the source of protein consumed 12% fewer calories at their next meal, thanks to the satiety created by the bean. Similarly, an Australian study showed that eating 3.5 ounces of chickpeas daily resulted in consuming less of all foods, including grains and processed snacks.

A few recipes to try:

cabbage

Cabbage

Nearly all vegetables are a dieter’s dream come true, especially non-starchy, fiber-packed vegetables, which are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, water and fiber. Cabbage is 92 percent water, so it fills you up with water and fiber and virtually no calories (17 calories per cup). Munch on it if you want a crunchy snack that you can eat without worry about it negatively impacting your waistline.

Here’s a great way to save calories: Replace just one cup of spaghetti and meatballs (or Chinese beef and fried rice or chicken pot pie) on your plate (most people eat 2–3 cups at a sitting) by mixing in cabbage. Do this daily and you’ll get a delicious flavor and wonderful texture, and you may also lose an extra pound or two.

Try these ways to enjoy cabbage:

  • Sliced and use on a salad instead of (or in combination with) lettuce
  • Mixed into a stir-fry
  • Steamed and used as the outside of a dumpling
  • Used as a wrap instead of traditional bread

bell-peppers

Bell Peppers

Our weight-loss clients often tell us they crave a sweet, crunchy snack that won’t pack on the pounds. We recommend bell peppers to satisfy this craving. Fiber-packed bell peppers fill your stomach with fiber rather than calories, as one medium bell pepper has only 24 calories and can help limit your intake of high-calorie foods and prevent you from overeating. And crunch away—if you get enough fiber (women need 25 grams daily; men need 38 grams), research shows you actually will absorb as much as 90 fewer calories a day. Plus, 1 cup of sliced peppers provides a whopping 190% of the recommended daily value for vitamin C, a nutrient that counteracts the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers fat storage around the midsection.

Here are some tasty ways to consume more bell peppers:

  • Tossed into your morning omelet
  • Chopped and added to sandwiches, salads, tacos, burritos and wraps
  • Combined in a Tex-Mex bean dip or salsa
  • Dipped into hummus or guacamole

sweet-potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Most people who are trying to lose weight swear off all potatoes, including sweet potatoes. But sweet potatoes actually work beautifully when it comes to weight loss because they feel decadent and are an original comfort food. They also help fuel your brain and body with wholesome carbohydrates, and will cut your cravings for other calorie-dense carbohydrates like pasta and sugar. And, thanks to their fiber and dense, creamy texture, they’ll keep you feeling satisfied even though a 5-ounce sweet potato with skin is only 100 calories.

As if that weren’t enough, sweet potatoes also are rich in vitamin C and two very potent antioxidants—carotenoids and sporamins, which fight everything from aging to numerous diseases.

lemons

Lemons

A squirt of lemon contains just a few calories, yet it works miracles when it comes to flavoring food. Simply spritz lemon and drastically cut back on the salt and fat in most dishes and your taste buds won’t miss a thing and your waistline will be spared. Squeeze a little lemon juice on fish or steamed veggies instead of a caloric marinade or butter. You can also use it on salad instead of dressing, on rice instead of creamy sauces, or on any other dish you’d like, and save hundreds of calories over the course of the day. Add lemon to water and watch your water consumption soar. When you’re even mildly dehydrated, all body functions suffer and you feel tired, making exercise a struggle. But if you can drink adequate water thanks to the lemon infusion, you may have a much easier time burning calories and losing weight from exercise.

Lemon health bonus: Lemon is rich in vitamin C; spritz it over spinach, chicken or another iron-rich food and you’ll enhance your absorption of the iron.

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Author

The Nutrition Twins

Contributor

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse (“Lyssie”) Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, share a passion to teach people how to eat healthfully and exercise so they’ll have energy to live happy lives. The twins have been featured as nutrition experts on Good Morning America, Discovery Health, Fox News, NBC, Bravo, CBS, The Learning Channel, FitTV, Oxygen Network, and Fox & Friends. They co-wrote The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty, The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop A Size & Get Healthier with Simple Low Sodium Swaps. The twins are both ACE Certified Personal Trainers, and members of the American Dietetic Association and several Dietetic Practice Groups.

Breaking Down Fitness Myths

ACE Healthy Living

  by Dr. Erin Nitschke on January 18, 2018

There’s no shortage of information sources in the world today. This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we literally have countless resources at our fingertips. On the flip side, the available information isn’t always credible or reliable. This is particularly true when it comes to health, nutrition and fitness “advice.”

It takes little effort to discover a “source” whose author took creative liberties with the science of exercise and offered an interpretation that ultimately sends the well-intended reader down a path of bewilderment. Fitness myths typically start with a grain of misunderstanding and spiral into “how to” guidance with wildly questionable rationales and unfounded claims. Here are a few of the most popular myths those of us in the health and fitness industry battle to bust:

crunches-six-pack

The Fitness Myth: Abdominal crunches will give you a six-pack.

The Fit Truth

As a health and fitness professional, I consistently advocate for building a strong core using a variety of techniques beyond the common abdominal crunch. Core work, including abdominal crunches, is a highly effective method for increasing muscular endurance, strength, spine stabilization and posture. However, countless abdominal crunches will not necessarily reveal the “six-pack” look. Obtaining that chiseled midsection takes more than perpetual toe touches. To flatten the stomach, one must work to achieve a favorable change in body composition (reduce fat and build muscle). This is accomplished through a strategic combination of cardiovascular activity, resistance and core training (to increase resting metabolic rate and strength), which are all supported by healthy and balanced eating habits.

women-weightlifting-bulky

The Fitness Myth: If women weightlift, they will get “bulky.”

The Fit Truth

Nothing could be further from the truth. Women can and should lift weights (heavy ones) without the fear of becoming anything more than healthy, toned and strong. Note that these characteristics are not synonymous with “bulky.” One of the fundamental ingredients for muscle growth is testosterone, which is a hormone found in high concentrations in men, but not so much in women (women do have testosterone, but not in the levels present in men). While some females are predisposed to developing significant muscle tone and size, this is not the case for all. Women lack the chemical make-up required to “bulk up” without extreme training volumes, strict dieting habits and possible supplementation. Fortunately, more and more women are getting the message and dropping the light weights.

resistance-training-muscle

The Fitness Myth: If resistance training stops, muscle will turn to fat.  

The Fit Truth

The first thing you need to know is lean tissue (muscle) and non-lean tissue (adipose/fat) are entirely separate materials with different biochemical structures, metabolic rates and functions. If an individual (this is true for men and women) stops lifting weights and adopts a sedentary lifestyle, lean tissue will atrophy (weaken) and reduce in size. Muscle will not and cannot turn to fat. However, the resting metabolic rate will slow as a result of decreased muscle mass, because muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue.

fat-burning-zone-weight

The Fit Myth: Working out in the “fat-burning zone” helps you lose weight.

The Fit Truth

This is one I like to consider a “half-truth.” Yes, a “fat-burning zone” does exist—it’s the point at which lipids are being used as the primary source of fuel. Lipids are generally utilized at rest (including sleep) and during very low-intensity activities. While that part might be true, fewer calories are burned during lower-intensity activities. In fact, the number of calories burned in this “zone” is too low to initiate (or maintain) weight loss. If the goal is weight loss, a higher-intensity activity is desirable. The overall goal should be to increase the heart rate and burn off a significant number of calories.

Remember, successful weight loss strategies are a marriage between physical activity, sound nutrition, hormonal balance and positive changes in lifestyle habits.

stretching-workout

The Fit Myth: Stretching before a workout is beneficial.

The Fit Truth

This is also a “yes and no” type of statement. Health and fitness professionals advocate for warm-up and cool-down periods for good reasons. First, a warm-up prepares the body to meet the demands of a workout. A warm-up does this by increasing muscle temperature and heart rate, releasing specific hormones, getting you mentally “fired up,” and improving range of motion. However, static stretching should be performed at the end of the workout during the cool-down portion. The most effective type of stretching before a workout is a dynamic series of exercises. This type of stretching involves the whole body, large muscles and multiple joints. The goal is to activate the muscles you will use during the workout. Static stretching, on the other hand, is focused on elongation and relaxation (generally). You don’t want to enter a workout in a relaxed and stretched state—chances are you will reduce force output and your workout won’t have the same quality or effectiveness as if you were to save the static hold for the end.

Fitness myths have always and will likely continue to plague the industry and confuse even the most committed fitness fans. As you search for answers to your fitness questions, visit reputable websites and authorities such as ACE. The bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Be sure the author’s credentials and scientific evidence back up the information you find before taking it as truth.

 

Author

Dr. Erin Nitschke

Contributor

Dr. Erin Nitschke, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist & NSCA-CPT, is a Health & Human Performance college educator and fitness blogger. She has over 14 years of experience in personal training, education, and instructional design. To Erin, being fit means finding an equilibrium between all dimensions of wellness. Erin is personally and professionally dedicated to teaching students and clients how to achieve such balance through learning and focused skill development.

 

3 Secrets to Burning Fat Effectively

Tips for Getting Your Workout Balance Correct

By Paul Rogers | Reviewed by Richard N. Fogoros, MD Updated December 31, 2017

Burning fat is key to weight loss, body shaping, and improved health or athletic performance. Whether trimming the waistline, smoothing the love handles or losing the cellulite, we all know we should do it but rarely do it right.

The solution lies largely in our understanding of human physiology and what is needed to achieve that “sweet spot” where we burn more fat than we consume.

Why Dieting Doesn’t Work

It is all about energy in and energy out.

The body is a system of which fat is a part. You need to work within that system to understand the role that fat plays and why it can sometimes accumulate excessively.

The body normally burns fat and a mixture of carbohydrates, in the form of glucose, for fuel. The level by which these fuels are consumed is based largely on your physical activity and the number of fats and carbohydrates you consume. When you are at rest, the body will store these fuels for future use. When you are active, the body will turn to these reserves for fuel.

The problem arises when you take in more energy through food than you consume through exercise. Often within a short period of time, the fat and glucose can accumulate to a point where you not only gain weight but begin to develop glucose intolerance.

When this happens, people will often make the mistake of cutting out all carbohydrates and all fats, assuming that the body will burn off the reserves on its own.

The problem with this is that, by starving yourself, your body will start breaking down its own tissues to keep the system going. This means that whenever the glucose reserves are used up, the body will start breaking down the proteins in muscles to create new glucose molecules to keep itself going.

In essence, the body will be eating itself up. And, while some fat loss will be achieved, it will mostly at the expense of lost lean muscle mass.

It is only by combining a well-balanced diet with exercise that you can burn those fat reserves while providing your muscles the proteins needed to remain strong.

Finding Your Fat Burning Zone

Once you hit upon the correct diet (consisting of quality proteins and a reasonable amount of fat and carbs), you will need to structure an exercise program with right intensity and time to achieve the ideal fat burning zone.

The fat burning zone can differ from person to person. Generally speaking, it implies a slower pace over a longer period of time (90 minutes or more). But this is not always the case.

Even at a faster pace, you will burn some fat, albeit less than you would glucose. This may be appropriate if you are a seasoned athlete who needs to shed a few pounds. If, on the other hand, you are less fit and have considerably more weight to lose, your ideal fat burning zone would involve a slow and steady approach.

To illustrate the difference:

  • Walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes burns 180 overall of which 108 constitute fat (40 percent glucose and 60 percent fat).
  • Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes burns 400 calories of which 120 constitute fat (60 percent glucose and 40 percent fat).

Why Weight Training Is Needed to Burn Fat

There is another maxim to remember when trying to trim those extra inches: more muscle burns more fat. What this means is that, if you are able to achieve the right intake of protein and exert the right amount of effort to build muscle, all that is really left to burn is glucose and fat.

This would require you to incorporate exercises that build muscle rather than just sweat. While step and spin classes are great ways to burn fat, they cannot do it as effectively on their own, particularly around the waist, trunk, and upper body.

For this, you would need to combine a cardio workout with a structured weight training program.

Why? Because lifting weights moves you quickly into a high-intensity zone, albeit for shorter bursts. While working on a treadmill, cycle, or row machine can burn a lot of calories, if your goal is to burn fat, you need to address your muscle-fat ratio.

What this means is that you need to build more muscle in relation to your body fat. If you don’t, you may lose weight but fail to achieve the tone needed to refine the waist, hips, buttocks, thighs, legs, and upper body.

Summing Up

The practical approach to burning fat (as opposed to shedding a few pounds) relies on three basic tenets, whether you are new to training or an experienced athlete:

  • Increase muscle with weight training. Extra muscle burns more energy both during activity (the active metabolic rate) and at rest (the resting metabolic rate). Cardio alone usually can’t accomplish this, and dieting definitely won’t.
  • Lift heavier weights. This means finding weights that allow you to complete eight to 12 reps with enough effort to be challenging but not too much as to lose form. If you are able to manage 15 to 20 repetitions, you won’t build muscles and would be better served doing just cardio.
  • Incorporate higher intensity cardio. High-intensity exercise, even if only in short bursts, may help rev up the metabolism quickly, particularly at the start of a workout. But don’t overdo it. Keep the intensity within your recommended maximum heart rate, and remember that fat burning requires the right amount of intensity and time.

8 Things that Slow Down Your Metabolism

Slowing Down Metabolism

How many times have you thought to yourself, “I can’t lose weight because my metabolism is slow.” Over the past two decades as nutritionists, we’ve heard that time and again from our clients. How do you know if your metabolism is actually slow? Can it be fixed? And is the problem really your metabolism?

Simply put, metabolism is the way your body converts the food and drink you consume for energy, and is usually measured in calories. We can determine how many calories your body burns each day by plugging information into a variety of formulas that have been designed to measure this. Click here to access the formulas and see what you get. As there is no single calculation that is considered the best, we recommend that you do all of the formulas, which will give you a range in which your metabolism may fall. A more accurate way is to have your metabolism measured through indirect calorimetry, which uses a machine to measure oxygen consumption. In less than 10 minutes you can know your resting metabolic rate (RMR).

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.

1. INCONSISTENT MEAL TIMES

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).

2. GETTING TOO LITTLE SLEEP

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.

3. NOT EATING ENOUGH

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. Read more about macros here.

4. SKIPPING OUT ON STRENGTH TRAINING

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.

5. SITTING TOO MUCH

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.

6. WHAT YOU DRINK

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.

7. YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH CALCIUM

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.

8. STRESS

Stress

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

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Author

Tiffani Bachus

Contributor

Tiffani Bachus, RDN, is a wellness professional dedicated to helping her clients develop a healthy balanced lifestyle. An accomplished fitness competitor and dancer, Tiffani won Fitness America and Arizona Dancing With The Stars and has graced the covers of numerous fitness health magazines including Oxygen Magazine. She has been featured as a fitness expert on Channels 3 and 15 in Arizona and is a columnist for Oxygen and Clean Eating Magazines. Tiffani co-authored the book, No Excuses! 50 Ways to ROCK Breakfast featuring 50 healthy clean eating breakfast recipes. Tiffani is also a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor.