Fitness and Nutrition Blog

Reading Food Labels

Reading Food Labels

Reading Food Labels

Why is reading food labels so hard. In the local supermarket, you can usually find many manufacturers of the same type of food, especially in the boxed cereal aisle where Kelloggs and other brands are competing every day with who has the healthiest, lowest sugar cereal on the market…

 

Unfortunately, many manufacturers have forgotten about the consumer and have led them down the deception aisle…

 

Here is some advice that will help whilst you are out shopping…

 

The first thing to be aware of on a food label is the serving size. All the other specifications like calories, fat, sodium, etc. are based on the serving size. Of course, you can get only 1-2 grams of carbohydrate in some products if the serving size is the size of a pound coin, but we know good and well that many of us will eat 3-4 times that amount and increase our carbohydrate intake considerably. Depending on the other ingredients and what the food is, this could be a lot of carbohydrate for one serving…

 

The calories listed are for the serving size only, not the entire package. Of course, some items may say serving size: 1 bar or 2 – 1” pieces. Please be aware that the serving size is very important for you to determine how many calories are in that meal…

 

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are listed by the weight in grams. For example, 5 grams of protein in one serving would have 20 calories for that serving:

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

 

The sodium on the food labels is something most people forget to look at. Unfortunately, many packaged products are loaded with sodium. Too much sodium in the diet can lead to water retention and possibly hypertension in some extreme cases. Be aware of a single serving size of sodium with 300 milligrams and above. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 2400 milligrams per day. This can be high if you are trying to lose weight or need to watch your blood pressure. One tablespoon of soy sauce has 2000 milligrams alone. Can you imagine how much sodium you take in during one dinner out for Chinese food…

 

Ingredients on the food label are listed in order of their weight per serving. For example, an item with high-sugar or high-fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient is going to be a high-sugar, high carbohydrate food, you would then want to look at the sugar content on the label and make sure the serving is less than 20 grams. If it is above that, be careful, sugar turns to fat if not used…

 

The fat content of food is usually broken down into total fat and saturated fat. The saturated fat, so check the ingredients for good sources of fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts…

 

Remember, when reading a food label, there are many ways for a manufacturer to list sugars. Here are a few examples:

 

SUGARS:

Fructose

Lactose

Maltose

Dextrose

Sucrose

Corn Syrup

 

To determine the fat content in calories of a particular food, here is an example:

 

1 serving of peanut butter = 2 TBSP, calories = 190, Fat = 16 grams

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

16 X 9 = 144 calories in fat.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, do not be a victim of all the manufacturer hype out there!! All the low fat, low sodium and fat-free products are causing consumers to add unwanted pounds to their bodies. Just because it says “FAT-FREE” does not mean that it is good for you.

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Real Food to Lose Weight

Eating Quality Real Food to Lose Weight

Real food to lose weight

It’s hard to eat a healthy diet these days but it is important to eat less processed food and more real food to lose weight.  Most foods that are for sale in a typical supermarket are processed and contain chemicals and ingredients that are best avoided, such as high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. You will probably find fruits and vegetables as well, but when you are in a hurry, it may seem easier to take a boxed meal and cook fairly quickly. Real foods that have not been adulterated with chemicals contain more nutrition than their processed counterparts.

If you have been interested in losing weight and improving your health for some time you have probably done a fair amount of research and come across many different ways of seeing how the body stores or releases fat, build muscle and the like. There is a lot of focus on macro nutrients like fat, carbohydrates, and protein, however one needs to be careful not to go off track in giving too much attention to individual foods and forgetting that the way we get these foods is with food quality.

Ideally, we should be able to achieve all our needs, both macro and micronutrient needs that are, only of the real food we eat. This can be challenging and may be impossible in some situations, but it is not as difficult as it may seem. The most important element to remember is the quality of food. Some people describe this as eating real foods or avoiding toxins, but whatever you choose to describe it since it can help you lose weight and improve your health.

Despite the common image of healthy whole grains that comes to mind for many people when they mention real foods, all I mean in this case for real foods are foods that are minimally processed or engineered or foods Which do not have anti-nutrient properties. Grain products fail this test because of their gluten, phytate and lectin content, where as quality, well-grown meats, vegetables, and fruits make the grade.

Obviously, since we would like to avoid toxins, we would also like to limit our exposure to pesticides, herbicides and other potentially harmful chemicals however, since it may be difficult to buy organic products on a small budget we should not let it get in the way Way of simply choosing the foods that will give us the most nutrition with the lowest content of anti nutrients.

In developing your plan to eat real foods and lose weight, you may want to do some study of what some traditional or old societies ate. This does not always guarantee that it was ideal, but it can give indications of what works best in the field of human nutrition than the current paradigm of products made from variations of soybeans, grains and seed oils. If you were not aware of the prevalence of the three most important ingredients be sure to do the reading label and you may be surprised where these items appear.

For more great information come and join our private Facebook group and be part of our great community, just follow the link below:

Pro Nutrition Clinic – Facebook Group

We would love to see you there…

I hope you liked this post and if losing weight through a real food diet is something that interests you, then head over and apply for one of our programs – CLICK HERE

 

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Black Beans and Carbs

Black Bean Photo

Worrying about black beans and carbs, don’t let it play on your mind to much.

Sometimes things happen by complete coincidence that confirms you have made the right choice.

While out lunching with my wife in London’s Leadenhall Market we stopped at a Mexican for a bite to eat. I ordered a naked steak burrito. My ingredients were lettuce, tomato, cheese, a chunky tomato salsa, guacamole, black beans, steak and all topped with sour cream. Being a naked burrito (no wrap) my food arrived looking like a messy salad box, but looks can be deceiving and it was actually very tasty.

Now being a relatively low carber I ummed and ahhed for some timeBlack Bean Nutrition when asked if i would like black beans, for no other reason than thinking about my total carb intake for the day. I know many of the benefits of eating black beans. The generous amounts of Thiamin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese make them very nutrient dense and a good choice if you have them available. Along with my green leafy vegetables I welcome another high fibre source and the black beans are perfect for that.

With that said, black beans as with other legumes are not for everyone. The body does not have the enzyme alpha-galactosidase which breaks down the galactans found in legumes which can cause discomfort and gas for some people and no one likes that trapped wind feeling.

As always, nutrition and diet are very individual, just because your neighbour is OK with black beans or any legumes for that matter doesn’t mean you will be, but experiment, start small and see how you react.

By complete coincidence, the day after taking an age to decide if I wanted black beans in my naked burrito the below article arrive in my inbox, which made me realise what a good choice they were for me.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/289934.php

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Measuring Body Fat

Here at PRO Nutrition Clinic we are excited to start using the latest mobile body composition technology with the BodyMetrix ultrasound scanner. The BodyMetrix System uses clinical grade ultrasound technology and allows us to be accurate in measuring body fat and muscle thickness to determine one’s body composition.

Body composition is used to measure the percentage of fat and lean mass (muscle, organs, water and bone) found in the human body. Measuring body composition goes beyond the number on a scale and looks inside a person to see what percentage of their body is made up of fat and lean mass. Having good body composition is hugely important for everyone as excess body fat is linked to many chronic health conditions. By reducing body fat and having a healthy body composition you can:

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Promote healthy blood pressure
  • Improve lung function
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Improve the pressure on joints such as on your knees, hips, and lower back
  • Increase energy
  • Increase self-confidence

Put simply, a healthy body composition is a must and will improve your overall quality of your life.

We will be implementing the new technology into our current programs where it will form part of our initial consultation for local clients. We have also designed a brand new program centred on the BodyMetrix system. Our Body Composition Evaluation program provides instant comprehensive reports, including caloric expenditure and risk levels for diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. These reports will be emailed directly to our client. The aim of this new program is to give each client an insight into their body, assess their relative disease risk and provide them with tangible information they can act upon and measure against future results.

During January 2015 we will be giving away some free body composition programs for anyone local and following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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“Keep Taking Statins” but should we?

An interesting article from the BBC a couple of weeks back titled “Keep Taking Statins” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27634000. A powerful message that will no doubt put peoples mind at rest who are taking statins and worried about doing so. But should people be continually taking these drugs when there are some simple nutritional changes that will reverse any cholesterol issues they have.

Not for one minute am I doubting or questioning the benefits of Statins for the people that really need them nor I am I against the medical professions that dedicate their life to keeping people fit and healthy, they have my upmost respect and admiration. My concern is not everybody taking statins needs to be. In short, Statins are prescribed to control cholesterol in your blood, and doctors like to control this number because they believe that high Cholesterol is to blame for heart disease, but we are seeing more and more evidence against this theory, even Dr Oz, the one time condemner of saturated fat because of its apparent effect on cholesterol, is changing his mind. Watch his U-turn on thinking here http://youtu.be/dw2WKOENFLQ.   Dr Oz’s simple demonstration reinforces the evidence we are now seeing that inflammation (the damage to the artery) is the villain in heart disease and not cholesterol.

With that said we shouldn’t be ignoring our cholesterol figures as high numbers are caused by something that our bodies do not like and this gives us the opportunity to address that cause before reaching for the statin bottle. Addressing the cause will be much better for your health. So let’s have a simple look at cholesterol for a minute and what you want to be seeing and what you want to be asking your doctor before you start taking statins.

Cholesterol is produced by the liver and is one of the most important molecules in the body. Every cell in your body needs cholesterol and without it you would simply die. So with cholesterol being so essential for life wouldn’t you want to ask your doctor some more questions before you start taking the drugs that stop the liver producing it.

If we take my own experience as an example then doctors will prescribe Statins on your overall serum cholesterol number. The trouble with this is that your overall cholesterol number is a meaningless figure. Your lipid profile or lipid panel is the general means of measuring your blood cholesterol, this breaks down your cholesterol into LDL, HDL and Triglycerides and the overall number is calculation of these three.

If your doctor says you have high cholesterol and need to start taking statins then you want to be seeing your lipid profile/lipid panel at the very least. Once you have your lipid panel results the numbers you want to be looking at are your HDL and Triglycerides, ideally you want these to be on a 1 to 1 ratio. If your Triglycerides are high with your HDL low this isn’t ideal and you need to address what is causing this. The normal cause will be excessive carbohydrates, start by cutting out any processed carbohydrates in your diet, this includes sugary drinks, ready meals, pastries and even breakfast cereal. Replace these lost calories with good quality fats, avocados, olives, coconut oil and raw nuts (don’t panic here, fat isn’t a villain either, but that’s a whole other discussion). Reducing the starchy carbs in bread is also a good idea. Get retested and see how your numbers are looking.

If your doctor still insists on statins then there are some more tests that can be done to assess your risk. One of the tests breaks down your cholesterol even more than the standard lipid panel. This test is called a particle size test and will identify the actually number of undesirable VLDL in your blood rather than just LDL being a calculation as in the standard lipid panel. You want the VLDL number to be as small as possible. It is the VLDL particulars that get stuck in the inflammation in your arteries. Another test to seek out is a CRP test (C-reactive protein test), this test shows if you have any inflammation in your body, if no inflammation is present then there is an argument that says do you even need to worry about your cholesterol. There is also a scan called CIMT scan, this is a scan that identifies if there is any plaque build-up on the walls of the arteries and indicates your cardiovascular risk.

I must reiterate that I am not condemning the use of statins for people that need them or medical professionals prescribing them but in my opinion there does need to be more dialog with doctors on this issue before people start needlessly popping pills. I hope this helps people open up that dialog and take control of their health.

 

Nutrition is key in the topic of cholesterol as with other aspects of health. Make the right choices and reap the rewards to your health.

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Cholesterol Clarity

photoAfter re-reading this book I thought it deserved a special mention.

 

Anyone who has concerns about their cholesterol or wants to understand their cholesterol test numbers should read this book. Jimmy Moore and Eric Westman MD have a done fantastic job with this book.

 

The way in which this book is written makes it an easy read and I found it intriguing and hard to put down. The book addresses all the keys topics you need to know about cholesterol, why you need it and how to attain the best levels without the need for drugs and their unwanted side effects. In the book Jimmy and Eric assembled a 29 strong panel of experts who all add “Moments of Clarity” which just adds to the fantastic content of this book.

 

Unsurprisingly nutrition is at the core of bad cholesterol levels and unsurprisingly it is nutrition that that will make your cholesterol levels good. The stand out from this book is that the answer doesn’t have to be found at the bottom of a statin bottle.

 

It is time that we start understanding the huge importance nutrition has on our health and this book goes a long way in helping us regain control of our own health. If nothing more this book will help you engage in meaningful conversation with your Doctor about Cholesterol.

 

Here are just a few of my favourite parts of the book:

 

“In terms of heart health, cholesterol testing is 99 percent irrelevant because cholesterol is not what causes heart disease. Therefore who cares what your cholesterol level is? It is associated with heart disease but not the primary causal factor.” – Dr Dwight Lundell

 

“If you don’t have access to measuring your small LDL-P, the next best markers to look at are your triglycerides and HDL. You should bring these into line, and not according to the usual guidelines that you may see on your cholesterol panel. Having triglycerides of 150 is complete nonsense. Aiming for less than 50 is more like it. And with HDL, I’m not happy until we’re seeing about 50 or higher. Ideally, I prefer this number to be 70 to 80 or higher. If you have low triglycerides and high HDL, then it is possible you may have small LDL, but probably not a lot.” – Dr William Davis

 

“We have learned a tremendous about the effect of diet on blood cholesterol over the last ten to fifteen years. If a recommendation was created before that time and hasn’t changed, then it can’t be up-to-date. Most of what was predicted about what would happen with the low-carb, high-fat diet didn’t come true when the studies were finally done.” – Dr Eric Westman

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Fat Because You’re Lazy or Lazy Because You’re Fat???

More often than not overweight people are labelled as lazy and the cause of their weight problems is blamed on a sedentary lifestyle. Let’s flip this way of thinking on its head. Although this idea is not new by any means, what if becoming lazy is the result of becoming overweight? Rather than being lazy causing you to be overweight.

The idea of all calories being equal is wrong and if your diet is made of up of calories that cause you to store fat and put on weight then in turn you will become lazy. Talk about compounding the problem!

Let’s stop blaming our growing waist lines on a lack of energy and energise our lifestyle with some simple dietary change.

More evidence that supports the idea that we become lazy as a result of become fat: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140404221904.htm

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Chocoholic

choc picChocolate, NOT such a guilty pleasure

If you like dark chocolate which is 70% cocoa content or more, then you can eat it with the knowledge that you are reducing your risk of heart disease.

Research over recent years has already shown that consuming dark chocolate may help with blood pressure and cholesterol levels and cut the risks of heart disease and stroke. A new study from Scientists at Top Institute Food and Nutrition at Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that consuming dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels, where they produce inflammation. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a role in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The researchers studied 44 middle-aged, overweight men over two periods of four weeks, as they consumed 70 grams of chocolate per day. The participants were given either specially produced dark chocolate with high flavanol content or well-known dark chocolate which can be found in most supermarkets (both chocolates having similar cocoa content). The study showed that high-flavanol and normal dark chocolate had the same benefits for arterial flexibility and non-adhesion of white blood cells.

“The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Until the ‘dark chocolate drug’ is developed, however, we’ll just have to make do with what nature has given us!”

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Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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Journal Reference:
D. Esser, M. Mars, E. Oosterink, A. Stalmach, M. Muller, L. A. Afman. Dark chocolate consumption improves leukocyte adhesion factors and vascular function in overweight men. The FASEB Journal, 2013; 28 (3): 1464 DOI: http://www.fasebj.org/content/28/3/1464

 

 

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