Today I saw a commerical that was so decieving, I felt the need to blog about nutrition labels. So many foods are starting to target markets that are concerned with health and weight management, so it's no surprise that advertiser are twisting the way things are worded or presented in order to make their product appear less bad for you.
For example, the current Country Crock Buttery Spread commercial features active kids and warns that active children often don't get enough calcium. But, fortunatly for you, Country Crock now has added calcium so you can rest easy. One serving contains a whooping 100mg of calcium!
Wait a second. 100mg is only 10% of my daily calcium requirement. I can get more than twice that amount in a glass of skim milk, minus the all the fat calories. The advertisers at Country Crock are evil geniouses. They're warning viewers that their children are not in fact as healthy as they appear, but thank goodness for Country Crock Buttery Spread, because when you eat it you'll get the calcium you need. It fails to mention that this "buttery spread" is mostly fat calories. Advertising has becoming so misleading, I think manufacurers could add some protein to a Snickers bar and call it an energy bar.
Wait, that's already happened.
Seriously though, we Americans are busy with so many other things, the last thing we want to do is scrutinize every food advertisement or decode every food label at the grocery store. Here's a little cheat sheet to help you decide if what you're looking at is really good for you, or if it's junk food marketing itself as healthy.
The word REDUCED is very misleading. Reduced fat peanut butter does not mean that it is low fat. "Reduced" or "Lower" is only allowed to be used on food labels if that food contains at least 25 percent less than the given reference food. So reduced sodium pretzels may have less sodium that the regular full-salt variety, but can still contain more salt than may be good for you and your diet.
Fat-Free doesn't actually mean free of fat. The FDA guidelines say that in order for a food to be marketed at a fat-free food, it must contain less than .5 grams of fat per serving. Eating three serving of fat free yogurt may yield you up to three grams of fat!
The Sugar-Free guidelines are much the same. FDA guidelines for this label are less than .5 grams of sugar per serving. A food additive for baking may say it's "sugar-free", but given enough serving, the small stuff can add up!
Be wary of the number ZERO. Any food will contain calories, given enough of it. The FDA guideline for a labeling something as a"calorie-free" food is less than 5 calories per serving.
Let's look at cooking sprays, for example. The nutrition label on the back of Pam Cooking Spray tells the reader that there are NO CALORIES in one serving. Looking at the ingredient list, however, reveals that the first ingredient is canola oil (ingredients are listed in order of amount, from largest to smallest). The reason that Pam can market itself as a zero calorie food is because of their suggested serving size. A serving of Pam is a 1/3 second spray. I know that I can't cook my veggies without at least a one second spray, so I'm probably getting at least 4 serving each time I cook with Pam. Spray butter is another way to tack on undercover calories to your diet, so be wary of the label's suggested serving size, and always look at the first ingredient listed. If it's any kind of oil, make sure you are only using one serving at a time.
A good rule of thumb when looking at the ingredient list of any food, is to only purchase and consume edibles with five ingredients or less. The more ingredients a food contains, the more likely you are consuming extra calories, extra chemicals, additives and non nutritive fillers.
All of the articles I've linked to below were very interesting, especially the Time article exploring the link between anorexia and autism. Hope you enjoy!
Learn more about the Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough recall
Time magazine explores a possible link between Autism and Anorexia
Walking test can help determine mortality risk
Protein is an essential element of any diet. Every cell in your body is using the amino acids that make up protein to function. It is a key part of life, and necessary for survival.
The goal of weight training is to breakdown your muscle, and rebuild it stronger than it was before. When you are lifting really heavy weight, you are tearing the fibers in your muscle. In order for those fibers to repair and re-grow, you need to consume protein after your workout. Consistent weight training sessions let your body know that "hey, I need more muscle in order to lift weight", and it will want to respond by building bigger muscle in order to meet the training demands you are putting on yourself. Muscle is mostly made up of water and protein and cannot re-grow without it. Failure to eat protein within three hours of your workout will result in little to no gains. After you finish training, the body will go into recovery mode and work hard to rebuild, but it cannot do this unless you feed it the amino acids that it requires. You also need protein to maintain your current muscle mass, so even if you are not lifting weights protein stills plays an important role in maintaining healthy body functions. If the body cannot get adequate protein from food, then it will respond by breaking down it's own muscle mass to help cells continue to do their work and keep you alive.
If you have spent hours weight training but are not making gains, you may need to look at how much protein you get everyday. Most likely you are simply not consuming enough to be able to repair, rebuild and re-grow your muscles.
Feel Full Longer
Protein takes longer to digest than carbs or fats, moving slowly through the gastrointestinal
Burn More Calories
The breakdown of protein within the body also burns more calories than the breakdown of carbohydrates or fat. Anytime you eat something, you body will burn calories simply digesting it. Eating a diet rich in protein can boost your daily calorie burn. If you have two people (assuming they are eating at the same time of day and have the exact same genetic makeup) who both eat 1,500 calories a day, except one of them is consuming more protein than the other, the person who is consuming more protein will have a higher metabolism.
Slow Rise in Blood Sugar
Protein also slows down the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose in your blood-stream, keeping your blood sugar levels stable. Remember that protein takes longer to digest, so when you pair it with carbohydrates you have less chance of your blood sugar rising like it normally would when you consume only carbs. A sudden spike in your blood sugar triggers the pancreas to release insulin, and a sudden increase in insulin greatly affects your body's ability to burn fat.
Did you know that the average person who goes on a two week cruise will gain ten pounds? Have you gone through an intense workout and diet regime to get into shape for vacation, but when you come home you've put on all the weight you've lost, and possibly more?
Getting away for a week or two this summer is a great way to relax and spend time with family and friends. Although the news is reporting more people are taking "staycations" (vacationing within the state) because of the economy, I know three separate families who are on their way to the beach right now, along with other friend who is visiting a friend in Florida and another who is in Vegas. Next month a client at Baseline is going to Italy for a couple weeks. For my husband and I, vacationing is the one week a year we really look forward to. It's a week when we can be on our own schedules and slow down a bit. So, how can you maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine without feeling like it's taking away the fun from your getaway?
First, you must realize that if you go out to eat every night you will be faced with all sorts of diet sabotaging situations. Eating out once a week while you are at home can be mitigated by a week of clean eating, but the damage that eating once or twice a day while on vacation can't be undone so quickly. Mentally prepare for the fact that you will be seeing a dessert menu, and decide before you go to the restaurant if you are going to indulge. Be aware of things that are adding tons of extra calories, like the bread the server will put on your table, any mixed drinks, appetizers, etc. If you are renting a space with a kitchen, your best bet is to grocery shop the day to get to your destination for the week. This will put you more in control of the things you eat, and help to alleviate that piece of chocolate cake you want to have at a restaurant. Cooking for yourself during your vacation will also save you money.
If you are thinking that exercise is the last thing you want to do while vacationing, then understand that if you stop your exercise routine and abandon healthy eating habits, it is very likely you will gain fat weight. However a beach vacation can be a great way to burn fat. Walking through sand will burn 20-50% more calories than regular walking. Most beaches have places where you can rent bikes and kayaks. Water sports will eat up lots of calories, as will walking tours of local sights. The client we know who is going to Italy next month is going on a bike tour. She'll be biking most of the day, so she will be able to consume more calories in delicious Italian food without gaining the weight she would if she was sitting on a beach during the vacation. Another option is the hotel gym. Almost all hotels have a gym or a pool near the lobby, and a quick twenty minute run or walk on the treadmill may be more accessible than you think (it's also a great excuse to get away from the family to have some time to yourself. Everyone sleeping and eating together for a week or more can get stressful, especially if you are vacationing with several families).
Deciding on what you want your diet and exercise routine to be like before you reach your destination will help you stay on track. If you want to eat at restaurants while on vacation but are worried about gaining weight, make a mental promise to yourself before you leave to get in extra cardio that week. Research the area you are visiting, and if there are any bike or walking tours sign the family up! Chances are they won't even know they're getting extra exercise because they'll be having so much fun. And that's just what vacationing is about!
Experts say you may need more protein that previously believed
Finding fat with the Bod Pod and how your body's shape is related to your health
Quiz! Do you know your portion sizes?
Interesting article on how American's medical bills are a huge contributing factor to bankruptcy
Scott from Baseline explains different exercises you can use at home or at the gym to help tighten your abdominal muscles.
Thanks to Alexis Semach for demonstrating the movements.
This summer we decided to put together a challenge for our training clients. So far, we have twenty-five participants! Everyone paid an entry fee of $10, and did a Bod Pod at the start of the challenge. The challenge is twelve weeks long, and the winner will receive the sum of the entry fees. The participants give us weekly feedback as to how they doing with meeting their goals, and everyone is encouraged to do a Bod Pod every two weeks to help track their progress (Bod Pods are free for our training clients).
Clients' goals are to improve upon their own body composition numbers. They are encouraged to meet their water, cardio, and protein goals each week to help them achieve success. Bonus points are also awarded if they attend all of their training workouts, and if they do anything above and beyond that will help them reach their goals.
We can't wait to see the changes that everyone has made come August! Good luck everyone, and remember that you can talk to Eve Ann or I (Kate) about setting personal fitness goals.