Choosing Sides in War on Sugar

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This article raises some very valid thoughts and questions toward the new labeling for ‘Added sugars”.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Justin Fox wrote

The people at candy-maker Mars Inc. have something to tell you: Stop eating so much sugar! According to the Wall Street Journal, the manufacturer of M&Ms, Snickers and Twix has thrown its weight behind a U.S. Food and Drug Administration push to include measures of added sugar on food labels. Non-candy food manufacturers such as Campbell Soup Co. are opposed to the change, but Mars figures that people already know their candy bars are full of sugar. From the WSJ story:

“It might appear to be counterintuitive, but if you dig down a bit more, we know candy itself is not a diet,” said Dave Crean, global head of research and development at Mars. “It shouldn’t be consumed too often, and having transparency of how much it should be consumed is actually quite helpful to consumers.”

In a comment letter submitted to the government Thursday, Mars also…

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International Waffle Day = More Protein

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Why would a personal fitness trainer talk about waffles? Let’s start with some background.

Today is celebrated as Waffle Day. This is also celebrated on August 24th in honor of the first waffle iron by Cornelius Swarthout in 1869. Waffles originated in Greece around the 13th century. Waffle celebrations coincide as a welcoming of Spring.

Waffle calorie counts can range from 82 per ounce to over 400 per waffle. The majority of the macro-nutrients in a waffle are carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are a beneficial fuel source, but for some they are restricted in their diet. If not monitored, carbs quickly become sugar and an ensuing ‘crash’ occurs.

This is where more protein can come into play. Pairing protein with carbohydrates, helps to slow the absorption of sugar from the stomach into the bloodstream. This will help keep blood sugar from spiking, which can lead to future cravings.

Adding more protein to your diet will help you burn more calories due to the thermic effect of food. That is the energy required to digest it.

In short, enjoy that waffle today, be modest with the toppings, add some protein to the meal, then do some exercise.

In fitness, Bob

Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad?

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I always thought I was doing myself a favor when I would use an artificial sweetener or sugar substitute in my tea, cereal, or anything else I would sprinkle it in, or on. Now all of a sudden I hear advertising claims for the use of sugar.  What gives?

Artificial sweeteners can raise insulin levels, which in turn will send a message to the brain to store fat, which leads to weight gain. It may be psychological as well. When we are told that something has no calories or less calories, we automatically believe that there is room for more. Maybe by cutting calories in your diet soda intake, you justify the burger, fries, chips, second portion of mashed potatoes or whatever you have.

Did you know that as little as one diet soda a day can increase your risk of diabetes or metabolic syndrome? Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that includes increased cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, larger waistlines and elevated glucose. This raises your risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Other negative affects can be headaches, tooth enamel loss and an increased risk of depression. Lower bone mineral density in female soda drinkers, raises the chance of osteoporosis as well.

Nutritional Value? Forget it. Not with an artificial sweetener. Do yourself a favor and drink water. So you like the bubbles? Get sparkling water, or put a straw in the glass and blow bubbles. Just kidding about the straw, I wanted to see if you were still reading. But I enjoyed it as a kid. My dad wasn’t so thrilled with me though.

If you are weaning yourself off of regular soda, a diet alternative soda may be for you, but only if it is short term. Our brains are wired to receive the signal that it had sugar, Not an artificial sweetener.

Our brain responds to sweets by telling us to have more. When we take in a sweet flavor without calorie content, the craving is not satisfied and we drink or eat more sweets to try to make up that difference, thus taking in more calories. Remember that the excess is stored as fat. Sugar actually sends a signal to the brain that it has received it’s reward, Sucralose, (my sweetener of choice),will not do that. So the viscous cycle continues. I will throw a word of caution about the excessive use of refined sugars. Moderation!

I am not a licensed medical professional, registered dietitian, nor do I claim to have all the answers. I am trying to raise your awareness of the possible dangers or hurdles you could face with a weight loss program. If you question this, please research for yourself. Knowledge and the application of it will take you extremely far. 

In fitness, Bob

Breakfast Matters

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IMG_20140710_083331_603 (1)                                    Do you ever skip breakfast or grab something from a fast food place, only to be left unsatisfied or feeling ready for a nap within a few hours? You have heard it before and probably more than you wanted to. Breakfast matters! The fact is that your body needs fuel to recover from the nights rest you had and to prepare you to start your day. A good plan is to have some form of breakfast within a minimum of two hours after waking and preferably within the first thirty minutes.

You don’t want your body to start going into a starvation mode and eating muscle. When you start skipping meals, your brain tells your body to store food as fat as part of a self preservation strategy. Breakfast need not be elaborate, a certain percentage of your daily intake, (depending on your activity level or timing for a workout), or standard breakfast menu fare. Leftovers are fine as long as you have a healthy blend of macro nutrients. Just a hard boiled egg, banana or handful of trail mix first thing will give you an edge before you finish your breakfast.

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I recently discovered refrigerator oatmeal, or summer porridge as it is called. I stumbled upon it through theyummylife.com and am glad I did. The fact that oatmeal helps keep cholesterol levels in check and keeps you feeling fuller longer due to a high satiety level are bonuses.

Using a one pint canning jar with a plastic screw on lid or similar container makes this portable as well. These can be packed to work for breakfast, midday snack or a lunch alternative. The variations are limited only to your taste.

The use of steel cut oatmeal instead of rolled oats is a texture preference for me.  I add chia seed to these recipes since discovering that they are an excellent source of fiber, protein and omega 3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seed. Another healthy addition is PB2. This is powdered peanut butter without all the extra fats and sugar. I also sprinkle in ground cinnamon to help regulate blood sugar. (Grapefruit and sweet potato are good breakfast choices for low sugar spikes as well)

The first recipe I tried uses 3/4 c almond milk, 1/4 c steel cut oats (quick cook), 2 Tbs chia seed, 2 Tbs PB2, 1/2 banana (quartered), 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1 Tbs agave (or sweetener of your choice). Simply pour the milk into your jar, add the banana, oats, seeds, sweetener and shake. Put the lid on and refrigerate overnight. You can stir the fruit in after refrigeration if you prefer or even add more.

The other variation I have tried uses Qi’a seed, (chia, buckwheat, hemp), oatmeal, walnuts, pure maple syrup, almond milk and cinnamon. This one came out moister than I liked, but I think it was due to the lesser amount of chia seed. Chia expands to 16x it’s size. Next time I will cut the almond milk back 1/4 c.

For this recipe I mixed 3/4 c almond milk, 1/4 c steel cut oats, 2 Tbs chopped walnuts, 2 Tbs Qi’a seed mix, 2 Tbs pure maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon in the pint jar, shook and set in the fridge overnight. The flavor of this one was outstanding as a cold cereal. I like banana, however this one edged it out.

Try adding in some yogurt, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds or a couple tablespoons of your favorite protein powder to switch it up. The key point is to start your day off fueled up. Pair this up with just five minutes of exercise and see what a difference it makes in your day. You will think clearer and feel less stressed.

In fitness, Bob