Nutrition 101: How To Read and Understand Nutrition Labels

Nutrition labels allow you to make educated choices about what you eat.

They include: 

  • Serving size
  • Calories
  • Percentage of daily value
  • 13 core nutrients

The serving size is at the top.

All of this information is based on this amount.

So you need to make sure that you compare this to the amount of food that you actually eat. 

For example- eating a whole bag of chips when the serving size is only for 10 chips.

SPOILER ALERT!

The serving size on the label is usually a much smaller amount than most people would eat.

Moving on to calories.

The number of calories listed is based on the serving size.

If you have more than the suggested serving size the calories will be higher, if you have less the calories will be lower. 

Remember…

Not all calories are created equal.

Empty calories void of nutrition and full of chemicals and preservatives wear down the body and add up quick.

Clean, whole foods are lower in calories and much higher in nutrients and fiber.

We need to take other things into consideration when choosing foods like the percentage of daily value.

This tells us how much of a nutrient a food contains.

5% of less is considered a little amount of a nutrient.

And 15% or more is considered a lot.

Nutrients to look for include:

  • Fiber
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron

On the flip side, nutrients to consume in moderation include:

  • Trans fats
  • Sodium
  • Sugars

Let’s take a look at nutrition labels for two similar products and see how they stack up.

By comparing these two cereal labels, let’s figure out which option is the healthier choice.

First, check the serving size.

Is it the same for both products?

Moving on to calories…

Product 1 has 110 calories per serving while product 2 has 120.

Now look at the percentage of daily value and see which nutrients each product is high or low in.

Product 1 has:

  • 16g Sugar per serving
  • 1g Fiber
  • 2g Protein

Product 2 has:

  • 7g Sugar
  • 3g Fiber
  • 10g Protein

Even tho Product 1 has ten less calories, Product 2 is the healthier option.

It has 5x the protein (10g vs 2g)

It also has triple the fibre which will aid in digestion and help you feel full longer.

Product 2 also has less than half the amount of sugar.

There are some foods that don’t require a label including:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Raw meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish & Seafood
  • Foods made in stores like bakery items or store made salads.
  • Foods that contain few nutrients like tea, coffee and alcohol.

Ultimately, the information on a nutrition label is there to help us make informed decisions about what we eat.

Making Healthy Food Choices In Our Busy Lives

Making Healthy Food Choices In Our Busy Lives

You already know how important it is to make healthy food choices for you and your family. But how can you fit the best choices into your busy life?

You’ll be pleased to discover that a hectic life doesn’t mean that every meal has to be fast food on the run! Sometimes it’s difficult to make healthy changes, but with a little planning and know-how, it can be done.

Here are some strategies to help you and your family make healthy choices:

  1. Avoid temptation. It’s so easy to walk into the store with good intent, but walk out with bags full of unhealthy foods. Unfortunately, our wills are weak, especially if we’ve trained ourselves over the years to buy junk foods.
  • Never shop when you’re hungry. This way you won’t pick out unhealthy choices because they look good at the moment.
  • Get rid of the unhealthy foods in your home. If they aren’t around, you won’t be tempted to eat them. 
  • Think of healthier alternatives to your family’s favorite unhealthy foods. Rather than high calorie chips, try trail mixes or rice cakes. Low calorie puddings or frozen yogurts are better alternatives to higher fat ice creams.
  1. Eat fast and healthy meals at home. When you’re tired at the end of the day and you realize you still have to feed the family, it’s easy to go to a fast food chain and throw fast food on the table. It may save some time, but it won’t save your health – or your pocket book!
  • The great thing is that there are many easy, fast, and healthy foods you can make at home. This takes some planning, but you’ll be more satisfied, save money, and be healthier as well.
  • Look online for quick and easy recipes made with all natural ingredients. Many recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less and only have 5 ingredients. Taking the time to research recipes will save your sanity in the long run. Then once you find a “hit” with the family, store the recipe in a book or on your computer.
  1. When you cook, make large batches and freeze the leftovers. This way, you’ll already have meals in the freezer that you can just thaw, heat, and serve. This is the opportune way to enjoy “fast” food at home.
  2. Eat Slower. Since the brain takes about 20 minutes to get the signal that the stomach is full, if you eat too fast you’ll pack in a lot more food than you need. When you’re still thinking you’re hungry, it’s easy to make the wrong choices about food. If you slow down while you’re eating, you’ll eat less and you’ll still feel full.
  • Set a calming mood before sitting down for a meal. Avoid having the television on or eating as you’re rushing the kids out the door to another activity. Sitting calmly at the table will allow everyone to relax and enjoy their meal.
  1. Make dinner time a social experience. Dinner should be about enjoying your company and taking pleasure in the foods you’re eating.

When you begin to look at mealtime as a social experience, it becomes easier to make the right choices about healthy foods. Suddenly you aren’t so worried about rushing through and making it quick.

Dinner becomes a great experience when you’re able to enjoy healthy foods together. Take time to eat as a family and enjoy a real conversation with each other. Talking will naturally slow down your eating pace, while also reconnecting you with your family members.

Using these techniques will bring all kinds of healthy benefits to your family and teach your children a healthy lifestyle. Healthy food choices are a possibility in your busy life if you take the time to plan ahead and make dinner time a priority in your home.

Natural Health Benefits Of Drinking Hot Lemon Water

Natural lemon tea is so easy to make and has great health benefits! If you want to improve your immune system or boost your metabolism just follow these simple steps!

  1. Boil some hot water.
  2. Add some squeezed lemon juice.
  3. Enjoy your natural tea!

It’s that simple!

Hot lemon water helps stimulate the body’s immune system and prevents illness in the most natural way possible. This is because lemons are rich with Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that plays an important role in causing resistance against many diseases. The hot temperature of the water, along with the Vitamin C will help in reducing coughs and loosening the thickness of mucus forming bacteria.

Another benefit to drinking hot lemon water is that it can be a natural aid to helping you regulate, or even lose some weight, if that is a goal of yours. 

This is a more strategic approach, as the timing of your intake can help boost your results. Drinking hot lemon water in the morning is the best time for losing weight.

Why? 

This is because warm water raises your body temperature, which increases your metabolism. Your metabolism is naturally higher in the morning as opposed to later in the evening. So it’s best to begin your day with an extra boost and start burning more calories early.

I hope you found this information helpful. Enjoy!

Sources

Kumbhakar S, Verma R, Biju B, (2016) “Effect of warm lemon water drink on selected parameters among the overweight female nursing students of RIMS & R, UP”. International Journal of Nursing Research & Practice, Vol 3 (1)

Al-Juhaimi F, Ghafoor K, (2013) “Bioactive compounds, antioxidant and  physio-chemical properties of juice from lemon, mandarin, and orange fruits cultivated in Saudi Arabia” Pak. J. Bot., 45 (4): 1193-1196

Dhuique-Mayer, C., C.C. Veyrat, P. Ollitrault, F. Curk and M.J. Amiot. (2005). Varietal and inter specific influence on micronutrient contents in citrus from the Mediterranean area. J. Agric. Food Chem., 53: 2140-2145.

What Are Carbohydrates & The Benefits Of Consuming Them

Probably the best way to understand what carbohydrates are is to see them as sugars, starches and fibers that are found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products.

Even though they are often maligned in the popular diets, carbohydrates (also known as carbs) are important for a healthy organism.

In a nutshell, carbohydrates are macronutrients which means that they are one of the three main ways through which our body obtains energy or calories. Carbohydrates are also the body’s main source of energy – and they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen – hence the name.

Now, the classification of carbs includes many types and many groups. To better illustrate this, there are:

  • Simple and complex carbs (based on their molecule structure)
  • Monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides (based on their molecule structure and source)
  • Good and bad carbs (where good are the carbs coming from natural sources such as fruit, opposed to the bad carbs being found in processed products)

The function of carbohydrates is related to providing energy for the central nervous system and every working muscle. Below, we are listing their benefits.

The Benefits Of Eating Carbohydrates Before And After A Workout

As mentioned above, carbohydrates provide fuel for our central nervous system as well as energy for our working muscles. They also prevent the protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism. They are also important for proper brain function and are found to positively influence the mood, memory and other functions.

When it comes to the consumption of carbs before and after a workout, most of the experts would agree that it is before to consume carbohydrates before a workout as the main source of energy – and balance with proteins after the workout.

Still, carbohydrates can be a great source of glycogen after a workout (especially because your glycogen levels are low at that time).

So, if you want to have maximum energy while training, you can consume carbohydrates before your training. If, on the other hand, the purpose of your training is to bulk up (add muscle) rather than shred your body, carbing up before throwing on your kit is necessary.

The best-case scenario is to consume most of the slow-digesting carbohydrates before a workout – and leave the fast-digesting carbohydrates for after the exercise.

Examples Of Foods That Are Categorized As Carbohydrates

There are many different groups of foods that contain carbohydrates. Obviously, each food contains them in a different and relative amount. So, the best way to understand which food contains carbohydrates is through the following examples listed below:

  • Dairy products – milk, yogurt, ice cream
  • Fruit – whole fruit and fruit juice
  • Grains – bread, rice, crackers and cereal
  • Legumes – beans and other plant-based products
  • Starchy vegetables – potatoes and corn
  • Sugary sweets (processed carbs) – soda, candy, cookies and other desserts

What’s important to mention at this point is the fact that carbohydrates are not inherently bad. In fact, our bodies need the glucose sourced in them for fuel. However, it is always important to pick nutrient-rich food sources and pay attention to the size of your portions (if they include carbohydrates).

A Final Word

In the end, carbohydrates are best consumed in their healthy and unprocessed form – and at the right time. Usually, nutritionists advise to consume them in the morning or at least for lunch and leave the other nutrients for your snack and dinner choices.

Moreover, you should try to focus on the ‘good carbs’ which are essentially carbohydrates that are low or moderate in calories, high in nutrients, devoid of refined sugars/grains, high in natural fiber, low in sodium and saturated fat as well as low in (or devoid of) any cholesterol and trans fats.

 

Organize Your Process

 

Have you started working towards the goals you have set for yourself? If you followed my advice on the Lee’s Fitness Unlimited Podcast, the answer is yes. As I’ve mentioned in the “Organize Your Process” episode, the first step of putting action behind your goals is to write them down. Ok, so now you have your notepad with your goals written down. Now next to each goal write down five key factors that will contribute to your success.

Consistency is the key to successfully accomplishing your goals. Every day the objective is to take one of the five key factors and focus on improving in that specific area. For example, if your goal is to lose some weight around your stomach and mid section, your five factors of success might look like this:

    1. Get with a workout partner
    2. Do more cardio
    3. Eat with a better diet
    4. Do more core strength training
    5. Focus on recovery




Let’s start the list by getting with a workout partner and having another source of accountability. It is good to have someone to train with to push you to go harder when you would normally consider giving up. Feel free to bring your training partner to one of my boxing or fitness classes!

Next is to start doing more cardio. Go for walks, jog, run, or try going on hikes. If you need extra motivation to get into your cardio training mode, this would be a great opportunity to include your training partner.

Day three would be focused on sharpening your discipline with your diet. It is important to educate yourself about your diet and understand the nutritional facts about the foods you eat. You can also use this day to remove a unhealthy food from your diet for that day. If you can successfully go without a certain food craving for one day, it can become a healthy habit for your lifestyle with repetition and consistency.

By day four you can start to focus more on building muscles, so you will focus on your strength training more. Try a new core strength routine or set a goal for the amount of sit ups that you want to rep.

On day five you should slow the pace down and focus on your recovery. Go get yourself a massage or spend some time stretching and soaking your muscles. It is very important for your body’s development that you understand how to allow it to recover from intense training sessions.

Do you see how productive you can be towards accomplishing your goals by simply writing them down?



Health Benefits of Coffee

Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee—It has always been a controversial issue whether or not this magical drink has any meaningful benefits. This magical brew is such a staple in the common diet that it is enjoyed from morning wake-up call to decaf with dessert. Coffee is the beverage that most folks are drinking all day long, especially those who work in offices. There are numerous benefits of coffee ranging from mental alertness to lower diabetes risk. Take a look at only a handful of its benefits.

Prolonged life

This may come as a surprise but it is true. Coffee can reduce your chances of dying. But what does that really mean? Well, according to research published in The American Journal of Epidemiology, four cups of coffee per day reduced the risk of death, from any cause, by 16 percent, and three cups per day reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 21 percent.

Protects against cancer

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants such as polyphenols, which helps the immune system in the battle against cancer, parasites, and other similar diseases. According to a research conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, it was found that drinking four or more cups of coffee per day reduced a man’s risk of prostate cancer recurrence by 59 percent.

But It’s not just limited to prostate cancer either. According to a meta-analysis performed by Chinese researchers, it was revealed that higher coffee consumption could reduce the risk of liver cancer by 50 percent, and similar study by Canadian researchers discovered that high coffee intake was associated with reduced risk of breast cancer.

Aids in Weight Loss

Polyphenols, as discussed earlier, is a highly efficient antioxidant. But not only that, the polyphenol in coffee can also function as a prebiotic for the good bacteria in your stomach. In addition to this, the caffeine makes it thermogenic, which basically means it helps you increase your resting metabolic rate and energy expenditure, leading to more calories burned.



Headache prevention

Coffee has been found to reduce chronic headaches. On the other hand, caffeine withdrawal may contribute to headaches if you drink it in excess, A research done in Norway found that if coffee is consumed moderately and regularly, it can reduce headaches. Those who drank 241 to 400 milligrams of caffeine (which is equal to two or three cups of coffee) on a regular basis, had the least number of headaches. Those who drank the least amount of coffee, less than 240 milligrams of caffeine to be exact, had the highest instances of chronic headaches that occurred more than 14 days per month.

Safeguard the liver

A handful of studies published in well-respected journals have found that coffee has been linked to a healthy liver, this includes reducing the risk of death from liver cirrhosis, a decrease in harmful liver enzyme levels and limiting liver scarring in people who suffer from hepatitis C.

So, here were some of the advantages and benefits of drinking coffee. There are a ton more!

References:

Main sources:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390701522445
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11130-004-0049-7
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390500400009
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.900/abstract
http://authoritynutrition.com/8-ways-to-make-your-coffee-super-healthy/
http://www.globalexchange.org/fairtrade/coffee/faq
http://ecowatch.com/2014/08/04/why-you-should-drink-organic-coffee/
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/01/30/if-you-drink-coffee-make-sure-it-is-organic.aspx

Alternative Sources:

http://www.coffeescience.org/top10-health-benefits-of-drinking-coffee-everyday/

http://www.businessinsider.com/health-benefits-coffee-national-coffee-day-2016-9

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/coffee-health-benefits_n_4102133.html

https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/wellbeing/9-incredible-health-benefits-of-coffee

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/06/coffeeeeeeee/487181/

http://www.thealternativedaily.com/health-benefits-coffee/

https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-coffee

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/drink-up-health-benefits-of-coffee-are-numerous/

 

Healthy Foods and Nutrients to Fuel The Body For Early Morning Exercise.

Healthy Foods and Nutrients to Fuel The Body For Early Morning Exercise.

A good diet is absolutely necessary when you’re working out. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, or gain some muscle, a good diet on top of exercise and rest are the things that are absolutely necessary for that purpose. Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, so it has to be nutritious and healthy to get you through the day. And under no circumstances should it be skipped. If you work out early in the morning then it is twice as important for you. You will require something healthy and highly nutritious to fuel the body for this early morning workout. And here are 5 ideas for such a breakfast. These are super simple and take about 5 minutes to assemble and even lesser to eat. Not too heavy and not too light, giving your body the thing it needs just right.

We start off with A whole wheat English muffin with nut butter (peanut, almond, etc). All you need to do to prepare it is just toast it, smear the butter and then eat and enjoy. If you’re doing a light workout then half will suffice, and if you’re doing a heavy workout then eat it all. Next up we have an Avocado toast with some sea salt. To prepare it start by toasting a slice of bread and as it is toasting, mash the avocado on top of it. Then top it all off with some flaky sea salt. A healthy, nutritious and delicious way to start your day and fuel your body for that workout. Up next we have ½ a cup of yogurt with some granola. You may be tempted to choose fat-free and low-calorie yogurt, but I would advise to not do that. Not for this instance at least; some fat, sugar and some extra calories are good for a morning workout. It will help provide the necessary fuel, and make sure you don’t burn yourself out. Go for regular or fruit yogurt or whatever variant you may prefer.

At number 4 we have ½ a cup of mixed fresh fruit. A super simple recipe, but don’t let it fool you it is very good. There is no complex preparation involved, in fact it is exactly as it sounds. Just some fresh fruit. And last but not the least, we have some oatmeal. Oatmeal is a good source of carbs, protein and fiber. In the morning, you don’t have time to prepare something very complex so these simple little things go a long way. They provide with enough nutrients and energy to get through the workout efficiently. But keep in mind that these are only pre-workout for early morning exercise. Follow up with plenty of fluids, and a proper breakfast afterwards. Because there’s no way you can function all day with just these things. Take a break of 30-minutes to 60-minutes post-workout and then have a proper breakfast. That will allow you to have muscle recovery and give you the energy you used back.