Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why Am I Gaining Weight?

Two out of three people in America today are either overweight or obese. My question is this, what happened? How did we all get in this predicament? Well, the simple answer is that we eat more calories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that American men eat 7% more calories than they did in 1971; American women eat a whopping 18% more—an additional 335 calories a day! But the harder question is this: Why do we eat so many more calories? Are we suddenly more gluttonous? Do we have some kind of collective death wish? The answer to these questions is, no. There’s an even crazier reason: It’s the food! We’ve added extra calories to traditional foods, often in cheap, mass-produced vehicles like high fructose corn syrup. These new freak foods are designed not by chefs, but by lab technicians packing every morsel with maximum calories at minimum cost—with little or no regard to dietary impact. A perfect example is the typical fast food hamburger; it’s enough to kill your appetite, which would be a good thing

The great American staple; fast food hamburgers. Let me start by saying, yes, burgers really do come from cows—but have you ever wondered how those giant chains process and distribute so much meat so cheaply? If you don’t want to know, stop reading now.

The Truth: Most fast-food hamburger patties begin their voyage to your buns in the hands of a company called Beef Products. The company specializes in taking slaughterhouse trimmings—heads and hooves and the like—that are traditionally used only in pet food and cooking oil, and turning them into patties. The challenge is getting this meat byproduct clean enough for human consumption, as both E. coli and salmonella like to concentrate themselves in the fatty deposits. The company has developed a process for killing beef-based pathogens by forcing the ground meat through pipes and exposing it to ammonia gas—the same chemical you might use to clean your bathroom. Not only has the USDA approved the process, but it's also allowed those who sell the beef to keep it hidden from their customers. At Beef Products’ authority, ammonia gas has been deemed a “processing agent” that need not be identified on nutrition labels. Never mind that if ammonia gets on your skin, it can cause severe burning, and if it gets in your eyes, it can blind you. Add to the gross-out factor the fact that after moving through this lengthy industrial process, a single beef patty can consist of cobbled-together pieces from different cows from all over the world—a practice that only increases the odds of contamination.

Eat This Instead: Losing weight starts in your own kitchen, by using the same ingredients real chefs have relied on since the dawn of the spatula. If you’re set on the challenge of eating fresh, single-source hamburger, and pick out a nice hunk of sirloin from the meat case and have your butcher grind it up fresh. Hold the ammonia, thank you!

As always, bon appétit!

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Weight Loss

It is a time-honored tradition to make resolutions at this time of year. If your resolution is to lose weight (and keep it off) then keep reading! Here are a few simple tips that will have you losing weight in a balanced and healthy way.

Drink lots of water: Water is essential for weight loss. If you haven't been drinking enough water, your body has developed a pattern of storing water. This water retention equals extra unwanted weight. By drinking more water, you are not only flushing out toxins, you are also teaching your body that it no longer needs to store water. Drink at least 60 ounces of water (about 8 glasses) a day. Boil water and sliced lemons, and drink this throughout the day to help with fluid retention. If you are still not sold on the merits of water, try this on for size: water is a natural appetite suppressant.

Eat early to keep weight off: The human body follows a circadian rhythm, which means that the same foods eaten at breakfast and lunch are processed differently than when eaten at dinner. Studies show that when you eat your daily protein and fat at breakfast you tend to lose weight and have more energy; however, eating the same things at dinner tend to increase tendencies toward weight gain. I suggest that you eat your last meal of the day by 7 p.m. if possible.

Adopt a balanced approach to your diet: Most of the fad diet programs out there nowadays are extreme in a few recommended foods, or else deprive the body of food altogether. This works in opposition to our metabolism and the results usually don't last, producing a yo-yo effect that depresses your metabolic function—not to mention your self-esteem. We are natural beings that need a balance of nutrition from all sources. Your diet should consist of a balance of organic sources of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Instead of white rice and pasta, opt for brown rice, bulgur, millet, or buckwheat. Eat greener, chlorophyll-rich foods such as broccoli, kale, spinach, and asparagus. Eliminate candy, sugar, soda, and all simple sugars from your diet. Excess sugar ends up being stored as fat in your body, which results in weight gain. Also, keep dairy to a minimum because most dairy products are high in saturated fat. Avoid fatty foods, processed or fried foods.

Get physical! The number one cause of weight gain is inactivity. Physical activity is the key to speeding up your metabolism and burning excess calories. The best way to be physically active is to use your legs! Walk as often and as long as you can. Always take the stairs instead of the elevator. Step outside during your break at work and take a walk around your building. Consider joining a local hiking club, gym or athletic club. Try taking a walk 30 minutes in the morning or 30 minutes in the early evening.

I hope these tips help you shed some pounds and add on the years! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Fat Traps to Avoid

Tis the season. This is a difficult time of year for most of us that are trying to eat well and pay attention to our waistline! There is an abundance of opportunities to eat way too much food. That being said, I think it would be unreasonable for any of us to try and avoid all the holiday cheer around the dinner table. However, choose wisely because there are a few holiday foods that can completely wreck your diet! Moderation is the key, along with keeping your activity level high through the holidays. Here are a few of the worst offenders to watch out for:

Pecan pie
What it’ll cost you: On their own, pecans are high in calories, but combine them with sugar, butter, and corn syrup and you’ve got a potentially deadly dessert. A single slice will cost you more than 500 calories, 37 grams of fat, and 26 grams of sugar! If you want to indulge, go ahead; simply plan a 40 minute run to burn off the calories.

Glazed ham
What it’ll cost you: A 6-ounce slice contains 1,760 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of sugar, and 300 calories. This might not seem outrageous, but think about how many slices of ham you fork onto your plate. The numbers add up quickly!

Swedish meatballs
What it’ll cost you: Lurking within each tempting ball can be at least 400 calories of white bread, butter, heavy cream, and sodium-laden beef broth. If you can’t resist, go ahead and enjoy. You can burn off the calories with 40 minutes of cycling.

Spinach and artichoke dip
What it’ll cost you: Spinach and artichokes alone are nutritious. However, generous amounts of mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese overpower the vitamin-packed veggies. One popular restaurant’s spinach and artichoke dip with tostada chips has 905 calories and 3,100 milligrams of sodium, over 1,000 more milligrams than the USDA recommends! Yikes!

As always, bon appétit!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fat Traps

First I'll start by saying that I hate the four-letter word "diet" simply because of the negative connotations it conjures up. The actual definition of diet is “a prescribed selection of foods.” That being said, paying attention to the foods we choose to eat has a profound effect on our overall well-being and weight.

One of the most common diet downfalls most of us encounter (including me) is our choice of beverages. A perfect example is a “blended coffee drink” from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Most of these beverages average at least 439 calories; those extra calories can lead to a 20-pound weight gain in one year. Yikes!

I’m not asking you to give up your morning coffee, because I certainly couldn’t dream of giving up mine. However, a simple switch to plain brewed coffee (which is nearly calorie-free) can save you a ton of calories. But I won’t be a total party pooper on this one; if you love specialty drinks, simply choose a smaller size and skip the whipped cream and syrups (add the sugar yourself). Presweetened drinks can contain 20 teaspoons of sugar which is double the 10 teaspoons of added sugar any of us need on a daily basis.

As always, bon appétit!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Worst Foods in America, 2010

This article is definitely worth reading. I hope you find it as enlightening as I did and, as always, bon appetit!

"This year brought perhaps the craziest, most calorically damaging menu items we've ever seen. In fact, you should not attempt to eat a single thing on this list unless you are sharing it with at least three other people—because each of these “individual servings” include a full day (or more) worth of calories."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Skinny Through the Holidays

Everyone knows when the holiday season rolls around, extra pounds seem to magically appear. Ur, um, or maybe its from eating all those baked goods, huge meals, party appetizers, and candy bowls around the office.

The most important thing you can do for yourself this time of year is to increase your exercise and overall activity level. You don't have to be a superstar athlete, just doing anything other than sitting around can help; jog, walk, run, chase your children around the house, clean out the garage, yoga, dancing (you get the picture.) If you can add some strength training in as well, that is perfect. The idea is to keep your energy level up and keep moving throughout the day. Limit your time sitting and when you are sitting, wiggle your legs as best as you can. You burn more calories standing then you do sitting, about 120 per hour. Anytime during the day you can sneak some exercise in do it, waiting in line, jump back and forth foot to foot, dusting your house add in a few dance steps, be creative have fun and keep moving.

One thing that has helped me to maintain my weight is simple; if I'm not hungry, I don't eat! Don't eat food just because it is there or to not hurt someone's feelings. You can take a piece and say "Thank you, I will save it for later I am not hungry now".

Maintaing a regular exercise schedule and eating sensibly is the best way to make it through the holidays without gaining excess weight. It is unreasonable to expect that you will go to parties and abstain from all the food choices that are offered.