Fitness Resources

Month: February 2018

5 Plant-Based Foods That Help Promote Weight Loss

by The Nutrition Twins

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:



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:



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

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

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.



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.

Post Author


The Nutrition Twins


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Dr. Erin Nitschke


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.