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December 15, 2010

10 Tips for Controlling Your Inner Cookie Monster

10 Tips for Controlling Your Inner Cookie Monster

By Mark Nelson from Beachbody

Face it. The deck is stacked against your waistline at the holidays. And there are scientific reasons for that. But the good news is, knowing why you crave those delicious holiday cookies can help you resist them. So what’s behind the cravings?

It starts with serotonin.

Produced by your brain, serotonin is the "feel-good" hormone. When your brain produces enough of it, serotonin can help you feel calm, confident, and relaxed. Several factors encourage its production. A primary driver is sunlight. In the bright days of spring and summer, sunshine stimulates our brains to produce plenty of serotonin. But during the short days of fall and winter, our brains need extra stimulation to produce enough serotonin. Now here’s the bad news, and you can probably guess what it is.

We crave sugar and carbs because they stimulate serotonin production.

It’s not enough that grandma’s decadent holiday calorie-bombs are insanely delicious. No. At this time of year, our impulses drive us to attack holiday desserts like brain-dead cookie monsters, just to get our serotonin fixes.

Does this mean we’re hardwired to add holiday heft?

Not necessarily. That’s because we can spur serotonin production in other ways. For example, did you know that exercise supports serotonin production? It’s true.

When you look at the big picture, most of the steps we take to avoid gaining weight happen in our head, not our stomach. That’s why we can think our way out of weight gain, regardless of how our brains encourage us to be bad around fattening foods.

Here are 10 tips for managing your inner cookie monster.

  1. Treat yourself. Ever notice how denying yourself something only makes you want it more? According to researchers, dieters who were told not to even think about chocolate ate twice as many candies as people who weren’t. The solution? Have a taste instead of eating the whole treat—or make smart substitutions. Instead of Fritos®, have some edamame. Or trade a bowl of ice cream for an ice-milk fudge bar.
  2. Think 25 minutes into the future. It takes 12 minutes for a thin person’s brain to register that he or she has eaten. But it can take 25 minutes for an overweight person to know this. So set a timer, have a sensible meal, and know that 25 minutes after your first bite, you’ll feel a lot less hungry.
  3. Skip the dip and gravy. Gravy is made of flour, salt, turkey fat, and broth. Do you really need all that? And dip? It’s just a lot of goo. You’re better off nibbling on fresh veggies. Besides, skipping these temptations will help you leave room for a little dessert.
  4. Flip your script. You slipped and ate two of Grandma’s killer chocolate chunk cookies? Rather than say, "I blew the diet, so why not keep eating," take a breath. Smile and say,"No big deal. I can stop now and feel good about myself."
  5. Sleep to avoid holiday stress. You know the holidays are hectic. So give yourself a chance to heal. Studies show that when we are sleep-deprived, the stress hormone cortisol is released at a higher level. That will help you feel hungry, even when you’re full. And who needs that?
  6. Say no to the nog. Egg nog, that is. An 8-ounce glass contains 343 fatty, high-carb calories. And that’s without the rum. Think about how long it takes to burn all those calories and saying no to the nog gets easy.
  7. Walk and talk. It’s harder to fill your mouth with sweets and carbs when you’re talking. Well, OK, a little harder. But it’s worth it, because you’ll be the life of the party. And that could keep you from eating everything on the buffet.
  8. Work out. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Sure, it’s a crazy time of year. But if you think of your workout as an essential way to stay grounded, you’ll do it. And here’s a hint that will give you more time to fit in your workout.
  9. Shop online. With all that you have to do, stay home instead. Eat healthy things you have in the fridge, instead of grabbing fast food or sweets. Put on holiday music if you must, and save your energy for a good, sweat-soaked workout.
  10. Try tag-team weight control. See if you and a friend can look out for each other. If one of you begins to blow your diet, a little friendly peer pressure could help you step back from the cookie. If you don’t want to burden a friend with this job, try a FREE 30-Day Team Beachbody Club VIP Pass. Team Beachbody Club members reach their health and fitness goals 3 times faster than people who don’t join, in part because of the online peer support they get to keep going with their diet and exercise programs.


Now’s the time to plan ahead.

Remember that a holiday is just a day. Even if you give in for 24 hours, it’s not the end of the world. Also, take a breath and think when you’re within striking distance of holiday goodies. You don’t really want to undo weeks of sensible eating with a day of crazed eating, do you? Try these helpful tips and you will be able to keep a leash on your inner cookie monster. Happy Holidays!

We look forward to seeing you at the Fit Club workouts in Charlotte!

December 9, 2010

Goal Setting and Your Fitness

Wow, it’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks.  My new saying is, "Full Plate, Full Life" and I truly believe in it.  I used to resent my busy schedule and lack of time.  I now realize that I’m very lucky to have my life, my family and my responsibilities.  Once I realized that, I knew that there were ways to make it work just by changing my attitude.  Alisha and I went to a 4 day PSI (Personal Success Institute) seminar in Phoenix last weekend.  Completely changed our lives.  I met some amazing people and heard some amazing stories and realized how lucky I am to have what I have.  But I also realized how much improvement I could do on myself and my attitude toward my life and my goals. 

The facilitator was a P90X grad and kept referring to us (about 8 coaches there) as the "P90" crew.  Several people there were wanting to change their lives and get in shape, some were wanting to work on their inner problems and some on their businesses.  But what was funny was how Jeff (facilitator) kept referring to P90X and how it compares to our lives.  He mentioned how when you want to get in shape, you have to eat right and workout.  There’s no magic pill that will fix it for you.  He then went on to talk about the pain your body goes through during the changes it experiences and how it relates to life and the pains we go through when we just live life.  There’s the pain we experience when we lose a loved one, like Alisha did when her grandmother died last week, or maybe it’s the pain of losing your job….or maybe you have goals you set in your life that aren’t coming true.  The obstacles you’re facing seem too big to conquer.  That’s when most people give up.  That’s especially true with your fitness.

So what do you do?  Here’s some tips that I learned over the weekend that I wanted to pass on.  First and foremost be excited!  Excitement creates EVERYTHING.  If you can think it, you can create it.  Think about what your fitness goals are and be SMART.  What do I mean by smart?  This:  S-specific (be specific w/ your goal), M-Measurable (make it a goal you can track as you go), A-attainable (make it a realistic goal but don’t be afraid to aim high), R-risk (take the risk of failing, or you’ll never succeed) and T-time (be patient and enjoy the journey).  Visualize your goal.  Is it a dress you want to fit in?  Is it to be the dad who can take his shirt off next summer and be OK with it?  In the end it’s you that has to be happy.  Don’t worry about what other people think, worry about what you think and do it for yourself and your confidence.  Don’t do it for other people, because you’ll never stick with it.

Last thing, remember that age has nothing to do with it!  It doesn’t matter how old you are, you’re always growing and becoming a better person.  Commit to be better.  Beachbody’s motto has never been more true.  Decide, Commit, and Succeed!

If you have any questions or need help, please contact us with any questions that you may have.  We’re here to help.


December 1, 2010

4 Supplements to Watch Out For

A phenomenal article by a very smart guy!  Beachbody’s own Steve Edwards on what the do’s and dont’s are when it comes to supplements.

4 Supplements to Watch Out For

Steve Edwards

This month, four of the major weight loss supplement manufacturers were fined 25 million dollars because science does not support their statements about the supplements. We’ve been warning our customers about false claims for years and, basically, these are just the tip of the BS iceberg. Let’s take a look at the major offenders and what to look for when evaluating a supplement.

It’s important to keep yourself informed because these supplements will still be on the market. The Federal Trade Commission, who handed down the verdict, has only stated that the manufacturers need to change the product claims, not the products. And, well, since the FTC cited that a placebo had outperformed one of the offenders, it will be interesting to see what the manufacturers come up with. If we don’t buy the supplements, then, of course, they won’t be on the market, but these folks can be very clever.

Let’s use Bob as an example. He’s that guy on TV who’s thrilled over his "male enhancement." However, when analyzing the product he’s used, we see that it’s little more than what’s normally sold as a mild stimulant. Yet Bob seems to be insinuating far greater lifestyle enhancements than a cup o’ joe will ever provide. This little exaggeration has allowed his marketing team to spend 181 million advertising dollars since 2003, according to Nielson Monitor-Plus, so we may assume that Bob’s become a wealthy man. Last year, however, 112 charges of fraud, money laundering, and mislabeling of product were brought against six executives at Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, marketer of Enzyte, Bob’s key to newfound self-esteem. In spite of this, the company took out a full-page ad in The Cincinnati Enquirer on September 5th that read, in part, "The future of Berkeley looks bright as we hope to work through our setbacks and continue providing great brands to the world . . ."

So let’s take a look at those recently fined and learn how to protect ourselves.

  • CortiSlim. These marketers were fined 12 million bucks and I’m using them first because I had a personal run-in with ’em at the Natural Products show a few years back. A guy essentially accosted me in the aisles, handing me a pamphlet of information that informed me of dangers of chronic inflammation and how this product would reduce it, leading to massive weight loss. Being familiar with the product, since we get plenty of questions on the Message Boards, I fired a few stats at him about studies involving CortiSlim’s ingredients. The guy looks at my identifying badge, turns away from me like a dog being submissive, and looks for someone else to engage. I throw one more tidbit his way and he refuses to even acknowledge me with a glance, keeping his eyes averted even though we were a foot apart. I didn’t find this to be a particularly strong endorsement of faith in their products.
  • Xenadrine EFX. The two companies that market this will pay between 8 and 12.8 million dollars. Xenadrine has been in the industry spotlight for a long time, at least since a popular fitness model, and one of their "success stories," was caught trying to gain weight for her "before" picture after she had shot her "after." In this case, the studies they provided showed that their product did nothing that it claimed. In fact, in one of the studies they provided, the group taking a placebo actually lost more weight than those using the product.

    One-A-Day WeightSmart. The Bayer Corporation will pay 3.2 million dollars for claiming that their multivitamin can increase your metabolism.
  • TRIMSPA. They will pony up 1.5 million dollars for their unsubstantiated claims. There was no word on whether Anna Nicole Smith would have to pay the money herself.

Click here to read what the FTC had to say about these products.

While we’re getting smarter—since sales of weight loss supplements have dropped half a billion in the last three years—we’re still being duped regularly. I was recently talking shop with a graphic designer whose job is to Photoshop "before" and "after" pics for an unnamed supplement that you’ve heard of. I’m not telling which, because she didn’t inform me on the record and also because I’m going to tell you how to not buy useless supplements anyway. If you read below, I assure you that you’ll never buy the unmentioned or any other highly hyped placebo.

 Rule 1: Never buy a supplement that promises body transformation without lifestyle transformation.
No supplement can offset your lifestyle. If you eat poorly and don’t exercise, you will not look good. Supplements can’t build muscle and they can’t make you lose fat. All they can do is assist with this process. Some initiative must come from you.
Rule 2: Read the fine print.
Many of these companies write "legal" with fine print saying something along the lines of, "Will work if you follow a healthy lifestyle" or something similar that gets them off the hook when studies show their supp isn’t as advertised. Generally, if you lived the healthy lifestyle they’re describing, you wouldn’t need the supplement anyway. I analyzed a carb-blocker supplement that had a tiny insert, with, like, size-4 font, that was an exercise program and low-carb diet that you needed to follow to get the claimed results. The obvious question then was, "Why do I need a carb-blocker if I don’t eat carbs?" And, of course, the answer is that you don’t.
 Rule 3: Read the ingredients.
Most of these use the same ingredients and these will be listed on their Web site. They have to by law. They may try and hide them—they almost always do—but click around and you’ll find them. If you don’t, then you’re dealing with a company that’s completely under the radar and you should not trust them. If you do, then do a quick Internet search on the ingredients or ask us on the Message Boards. There are many watchdog agencies that test everything. Bogus supplements are pretty easy to identify.
Rule 4: Use common sense about how the supplement actually works.
Hoodia, the main ingredient of TRIMSPA is one of my favorites. The TRIMSPA Web site tells you that you need it because African tribesmen would use the stuff on long hunts to keep thin and alert, as if anyone walking through the savanna hunting large dangerous animals with a spear needs any help in this department. Most of us would be so wide-eyed we’d be burning a thousand calories an hour with fear alone. Sure, those guys were probably fit. But before you go looking for some dietary secret, you might want to consider the fact that they were hunting large animals, on foot, using spears! Don’t you think that there might be another reason for those ripped bodies?

Another good example is the study that used displaced cultures in an attempt to show how something from their prior diet was the key to their former state of health. They never mention the fact that, using one common example, these people used to live on an island where they ate fruits, veggies, and fish and exercised daily to gather these things, and now they’re poverty-stricken factory workers who smoke, drink, and eat junk food in a polluted city. You don’t need to be a scientist to see that somebody besides those factory workers is blowing smoke.

Supplements are nothing more than a piece of the puzzle of creating a healthy lifestyle. Used correctly, they can aid with diet and exercise and greatly enhance results and performance. But they are not magical cures. They’re just targeted nutritional products, like a dense food, which is why they’re called nutritional supplements and not drugs.

 If you’d like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at [email protected].

December 1, 2010

P90X One on One’s for 1 PENNY in December!!!

Start your P90X One on One subscription for 1 penny this month!!!  For all you P90X lovers, a subscription to the P90X One on One’s will take you to the next level and get you ready for P90X MC:2 next year.  Here’s all the details.

You may recall the coveted P90X ONE on ONE penny promotion. This December, we’re bringin’ it back for another spin—and just in time for the holidays.

If you’re new to the penny promo, here’s how the offer works:
Anyone who subscribes to the P90X ONE on ONE series (it’s our only Home Direct workout program!) this December will receive their first DVD for just $0.01.* And seeing as how the average turn for a customer is roughly five months, that’s some serious commission potential for you. So get the word out while the X is hot.

Tip: Get five friends or family members to try it while New Year’s resolutions are on their mind. It’s the perfect complement to P90X® and delivers a challenging new workout to your doorstep every month. What’s better than that?

About the December Workout
"Even Tony was scared of this lineup. Get ready for moves that are just plain cruel like jack-in-the-box knee tucks. Or Think Drills that’ll make you think twice about your coordination. This is plyo to the Nth degree. Let the sweating begin."

"Feed on a steady diet of plyo for an hour with (thankfully) a few iso moves thrown in for dessert. You’ll be spinning, jumping, squatting, lunging, frog hopping and more. Work on your balance, vertical jump and just plain staying alive."

Here’s a sample of what you get!!!!


November 30, 2010

Stay Fit This Holiday Season

The holidays shouldn’t leave you looking like a bowlful of jelly. As fun as the holiday season is, it can be rough on your fitness program. Bad weather, stress, and lack of time can sap your motivation, while parties, visitors, and vacations can distract you from your workouts. It’s no wonder so many people gain weight in November and December, only to regret it on January 2nd.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can keep up or even improve your fitness level, stave off weight gain, and enjoy the holidays as much as ever. Just stick with the following guidelines.

            1. Manage Your Time. 

Scheduling your workouts in advance, either with a printed workout calendar or online with WOWY Supergym®, is always a good idea. But it’s especially important over the holidays, when just saying "I’ll do it when I have time" can be a recipe for failure. Your free time is sure to get filled up with other activities, and it’s easier than ever to forget about working out. On the other hand, if you schedule your workouts just like any appointments, you’re much more likely to do them when the time comes. (Better still, invite some Workout Buddies to join you for extra motivation.)

If you absolutely can’t find time on a particular day, mark it as a recovery period, and make sure you have a workout scheduled for the day afterward. It’ll prevent you from losing the fitness gains you’ve built, and ensure that you keep your exercise habit intact.

           2.  Keep up your energy.

If your holiday period is marked by flurries of frantic activity followed by a worn-out feeling, you’re not alone. But you can shorten those "dragging" periods with these healthy habits:

    • Stick to your food plan. Loading up on high-carb holiday treats can cause blood sugar fluctuations that leave you feeling tired, while subsisting on rushed snacks or skipping meals entirely prevents you from getting the fuel you need. But regular, high-quality meals and snacks will keep you running at top speed, whether you’re working out or fighting over the last Dora the Explorer doll in the toy store.
    • Take time to relax. A meditation session, a round of yoga, or just a few minutes sitting with a hot drink or your favorite music will go a long way toward recharging your batteries.
    • See the light. If your energy takes a nosedive in the wintertime, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, a mood-dampening condition caused by too little light exposure. See if you perk up after getting more rays (either by spending more time outside on sunny days, or by using a full-spectrum light box). If that doesn’t help, see your doctor.
    • No skipping. If you feel a little tired before a planned workout, don’t take that as a signal to skip it. Chances are your energy levels will pick up once you start moving. And when you exercise regularly, you’re much less likely to experience those lulls during the rest of the day.


    3.  Travel right.

This is a great time of year to take a vacation or visit family—but without advance planning, those trips can bring your fitness program to a screeching halt. Here’s how to avoid that:

  • Protect yourself on the plane. Since there’s no guarantee that an airline will have healthy food on hand, pack a meal or snack in advance, and make sure you drink plenty of liquids. If you’re worried about catching something on the flight, boost your disease-fighting ability with Herbal Immune Boost.
  • Watch out when eating out. Travel often means a lot of restaurant meals, and that can derail your food plan in a hurry. Try to find restaurants that serve high-quality meals, or, if that’s not possible, order the best of what is on the menu. (Even the IHOP® has some healthful, high-protein selections these days.) But if you eat in a chain restaurant, check out the nutrition ratings just to make sure you’re not getting one of those 2,000-calorie salads.
  • Organize healthy activities. When you go to a warm beach or on a ski vacation, this is a no-brainer. But if you’re traveling to an unfamiliar city, you should find out in advance what you can do that requires a little movement. And if you’re staying with family members who prefer life on the couch, suggest some outdoor games—or, if the weather isn’t cooperative, healthy indoor activities. Even a post-meal walk will get everyone’s blood pumping and prevent total lethargy from setting in.
  • Take your workout with you. One of the many benefits of a DVD workout program is that it’s portable. Decide which workouts you’ll want to do during your trip, and pack those DVDs, along with a resistance band. If you don’t have one, see if the place you’re staying has basic gym equipment, or stick to exercises that don’t require any.

            4.  Take care of your health.

Nothing can derail a workout program like getting sick. And you may be extra-vulnerable to illness at this time of year, when stress and bad weather collide with cold and flu season. But a few basic precautions can improve your odds:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before touching your nose or mouth. (A recent study found that it doesn’t matter how hot the water is, but for maximum benefit, you need to lather with soap for at least 20 seconds.)
  • Avoid germs. If you work out in a gym, clean the equipment with antibacterial spray, or at least cover it with a towel. Warm, moist surfaces are an ideal place for germs to live and grow.
  • Get plenty of sleep—less than 7 or 8 hours per night can compromise your immune system. (It can also slow your exercise recovery.) Try to save the late-night carousing for times when you can sleep late or take a nap the next day.
  • Drink plenty of water. It’s easy to forget when it’s cold outside, but staying hydrated helps keep your immune system in top working order.
  • Get a flu shot. Remember, there are different strains of the flu virus every year, so last year’s shot won’t keep you protected.
  • Maintain your healthy eating habits, and get a complete supply of vitamins every day. (To make sure, supplement with ActiVit® Multivitamins or Shakeology®.)

If you do come down with a mild cold, it’s okay to keep working out—moderate exercise can actually boost your immunity. (Though if you’re following a high-powered program such as P90X® or INSANITY®, you should ramp down the intensity for a while.) But if you have a fever, chest congestion, or can barely get out of bed, that’s a sign that you need to rest up and recover. When in doubt, ask your doctor.

If you have any questions, contact us today!  We’re here to help.

November 24, 2010

Have a Healthy Thanksgiving!

Here’s a great article I found to help you make your Thanksgiving a little healthier.  Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and we’ll see you next week!

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips for Thanksgiving

Written by Gloria Tsang, RD of HealthCastle.com
Published in Nov 2005; Updated in Nov 2007

(HealthCastle.com) Do you know that the average Thanksgiving dinner has over 2000 calories? It can be a real challenge if you are watching your waistline. The following are some eating tips so that you can still look good and be healthy after the Thanksgiving dinner without having to deprive yourself.

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips for Thanksgiving

If you are a guest of a Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Don’t go to the Thanksgiving dinner hungry: we often eat faster and more when we are hungry – therefore eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch on the day to avoid overeating at dinner time.
  • Thanksgiving dinner is not an all-you-can-eat buffet: Fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with a lean meat and the rest with a starch of your choice. Eat slowly and stop when you are full.
  • Turkey – go skinless: choose your 4-oz turkey portion skinless to slash away some fat and cholesterol. Save your appetite for the side dishes and desserts.
  • Side Dishes – watch your portion size: go for smaller portions. This way you can sample all the different foods. Moderation is always the key.
  • Make a conscious choice to limit high fat items: high fat food items can be found in fried and creamy dishes as well as cheese-filled casseroles in a traditional Thanksgiving meal . For instance, mashed potatoes are usually made with butter and milk; green bean casseroles are often prepared with cream of mushroom soup, cheese and milk and topped with fried onions; candied yams are loaded with cream, sugar and marshmallows. If you cannot control the ingredients that go in to a dish, simply limit yourself to a smaller helping size. Again moderation is the key.
  • Drink plenty of water: alcohol and coffee can dehydrate your body. Drink calorie-free water to help fill up your stomach and keep you hydrated.

If you are the honorable chef of a Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Substitute high fat ingredients with lower-fat or fat-free ingredients. Learn about the 5 easy steps to recipe substitutions or see table below.
  • Leftover Turkey? Instead of turkey sandwiches, use the leftover turkey to make a pot of soup with fresh chunky vegetables.
  • Experiment with new recipes: we did a search on Google and found numerous delicious yet healthy low-fat contemporary Thanksgiving recipes. Experiment!

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Substitution Tips

Recipe calls for…

1 whole egg

2 egg whites

sour cream

low fat plain yogurt or low fat sour cream


skim or 1% milk

ice cream

frozen yogurt

heavy cream (not for whipping)

1:1 ratio of flour whisked into non fat milk (e.g. 1 cup of flour + 1 cup of non fat milk)

whipped cream

chilled evaporated skim milk or other low fat whipped products such as Nutriwhip

cheese low-fat cheese (please note: non-fat cheese does not melt well if use in cooking or baking)
butter light butter

cream of mushroom

fat-free cream of mushroom

November 24, 2010

Recipe of the Week-Veggie Stir Fry

With it being a short week, we were short on time…so we decided to show you a recipe from Tony Horton’s personal chef Missy Costello (a good friend of ours) and a wonderful cook.  She’s taught us a lot.  For more videos like this, contact us today to find out how you can access more recipes and fitness tips on a weekly basis from Beachbody’s trainers and experts.  

November 17, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Salmon Dish

This week’s recipe, a little salmon dish.  Really good! 

November 14, 2010

Anyone Can Do Pull Ups!!!

Everyone tells me, "I can’t do pull ups or chin ups".   They start P90X and they quit because they let their mind get wrapped up in the results!  You can’t let your ego get in your way.  Here’s a great video from the man himself…showing how to do pull ups no matter what your fitness level.

November 12, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Healthy Sloppy Joes!

Easy and good! 

November 10, 2010

Nutrition Density… Why It’s Important.

Not all foods that are marketed as healthy are….it’s one of the reasons why Alisha and I use products like Shakeology, for it’s nutrition density.  So what is Nutrition Density.  Glad you asked.  Here’s a great article I found to explain just that.  After you read it, let me know your thoughts.  If it sparks something inside of you and you’re wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change….let me know.  We’ll be happy to send out some Shakeology samples so you can see what it is that this article refers to as "Super Foods".  It’s amazing what happens to your body when you feed it right!

What Is Nutrient Density

How do you decide which foods you want to eat? Flavor? Texture? Convenience? Comfort? Many people choose the foods they eat based on immediate gratification, without much thought about the long-term effects of their selections. That often results in choosing foods that taste good, but are not good for you.

What about the nutritional value of the foods you eat? When you choose your foods, be sure to consider the nutrient density of the foods. Nutrient density refers to the amount of nutrients for the given volume of food. Nutrient-dense foods have lots of nutrients, generally with fewer calories. All those superfoods you’ve heard about are nutrient dense foods. Energy-dense foods have more calories for the volume of food and generally fewer nutrients.

How Nutrient Density Works

You are hungry and it is a few hours until dinner so you decide you want a snack. You can choose either an apple or a glazed donut. They are roughly the same size and either food works as a quick snack so you can get back to work. Which one do you choose?

Hopefully you chose the apple. Why? The apple has around 80 calories and lots of vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals that will keep you healthy. The fiber and water in the apple will fill your stomach and keep you satisfied until dinner.

The donut has calories. Lots of calories. In fact, the donut has more than 200 calories but it doesn’t have many nutrients. There is only about one gram of fiber so it won’t keep you feeling full either, so eating that glazed donut will frequently lead to eating a second one. The donut also has lots of unhealthy saturated fat and plenty of sugar. Sure it tastes good, but your body might pay quite a price for the immediate gratification.

You can also compare nutrient density using the amount of calories in the food rather than volume or portion size. Let’s compare a cup of carrot slices to four saltine crackers. Both snacks have about 50 calories, but the carrots have many more nutrients for the same number of calories. The carrots are nutrient dense; the crackers are energy dense. This is important for people on weight-loss diets. Foods that are low in calories, but high in fiber and other vitamins, will keep you satisfied and healthy while you lose weight.

Nutrient-Dense Superfoods

You can probably already see from the examples that brightly colored fruits and vegetables are big winners in nutrient density. That’s one reason why so many fruits and vegetables qualify as superfoods, or foods that are rich in nutrients and other compounds that have healthy benefits such as fiber, phytochemicals and essential fatty acids. The superfood fruits and vegetables include carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, berries, apples, cherries, pomegranate and oranges.

Other nutrient-dense superfoods include salmon, tuna, trout, low-fat dairy products, oatmeal and whole grains, soy, dry beans sand even some fortified foods. On the other hand, energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods include things that are high in sugar and fat such as refined white breads, pasta, pastries, processed lunch meats and cheeses, ice cream, candy, soda, potato chips and corn chips. In other words, junk food.

Choosing nutrient-dense superfoods at the grocery store is pretty easy if you stay along the edges of the store, where the produce, fresh lean meats, low-fat dairy and fresh bakery goods are found. These fresh foods may be more expensive than the energy-dense packaged foods, but you buy more nutrition for that price. Of course, most shoppers choose some packaged foods for convenience, but you can still make smart choices with those products — just read the labels.

You can easily find the Nutrition Facts labels on the backs or sides of the packages. Look at the serving sizes, note the number of calories per serving and look at the amount of fiber, vitamins, calcium and iron. The packaged food that has the better combination of lower calories, higher nutrients and less sodium is the winner.

Nutrient-Dense Meals

You can prepare nutrient-dense meals by choosing nutrient-dense superfoods and ingredients for your dishes. A nutrient-dense meal should have one serving of a healthy protein source such as legumes, fish, poultry or low-fat meat. One serving is typically about the size of a pack of playing cards. The rest of the meal should be made up of healthy side dishes. Vegetables are always good, even with a little bit of cheese or sauce. Whole-grain pastas, brown rice and wild rice are good choices as well. A green salad with lots of vegetables can make a nice nutrient-dense superfoods side dish or can be a great meal on its own. Clear soups with lots of vegetables are nutrient-dense compared to cream soups which have more calories and are more energy dense.

Would I Ever Choose Foods That Are Energy-Dense?

People who are underweight need some energy-dense foods to make sure they are getting enough calories to gain weight. Healthy energy dense foods include peanut butter, dried fruits, starchy vegetables and cheese.

Why Should I Think About Nutrient Density?

Eating nutrient-dense food will ensure you are getting all the nutrition you need. A nutrient-dense diet won’t leave you feeling hungry so maintaining your weight is much easier. Choosing nutrient dense foods can become second nature. Once you understand which foods are more nutrient dense, the rest is easy. Just remember that the foods you eat can affect your health in a big way. To be healthy or unhealthy? The choice is yours.




November 10, 2010

Dr. Oz: 2nd Most Important # to Know is Blood Pressure

Great read on why it’s important to understand what your blood pressure is and what it means to you.  Mine used to always be high, before I changed my lifestyle.  It’s amazing how you can change the numbers in your body by changing your lifestyle.  Enjoy…

For the last few issues, we’ve been trying to get a message across to you in this column. Do you have it memorized yet? Your body is amazing. You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and isn’t that hard if you know what to do. We want you to know how much control you have over your quality and length of life.

What we are excited about today is your blood pressure. A new survey (we tell you about it below) reminded us of how important blood pressure is, so let us remind you: Your blood pressure is the second most important number for you to know (your spouse’s birthday is No. 1).

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar are on that list, too, but blood pressure (BP) swamps those in importance. Moving from the worst to the best cholesterol numbers makes about a six-year positive difference in your RealAge.

But moving from high to normal BP makes as much as a 25-year difference.

First, what do the numbers measure? Here’s the scoop: The top number—known as systolic pressure—reflects the pressure created in your arteries when your heart squeezes blood out into your blood vessels. The bottom, or diastolic, number indicates the pressure when your heart relaxes. Both numbers indicate what is pushing against your arterial walls.

Moving from the U.S. average (129/86) to 115/75 can make you nine years younger. Put another way, when veterans with an average age of 55 years had untreated diastolic BPs in the 90-plus range, more than 35 percent of them died in five years, as opposed to less than 7 percent when they got that diastolic BP under 85.

So what did the survey say? In this 2,400-person survey, about nine out of 10 adults (89 percent) who self-reported having high blood pressure believe the condition is a cause for concern and want to understand what is going on in their bodies to cause it. But less than a third knew their numbers or knew if they had good control. Ugh.

We feel compelled to say anyone, yes, everyone we’ve seen, can get their BP lower than 135/85, and more than nine out of 10 can get it to less than 120/80.

If you heard that your systolic blood pressure should be 100 plus your age, you heard what used to be commonly stated but wrong. Also outdated is the assumption that 120/80 is healthy. The BP you want is 115/75 or less. If your day-to-day BP is consistently higher than optimal, you have work to do.

Let’s be blunt: You don’t need to be a statistic. Having high numbers makes you part of a real health epidemic, one that will be responsible for more than 60,000 deaths this year in the United States and more than 6,000 in Canada. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the largest killer in North America, responsible for 900,000 deaths a year in the United States alone.

And here’s motivation for knowing the number and aiming lower: If you’re 55 years old, every five-point increase above that optimal top number of 115 makes your RealAge one year older. Ditto a seven-point increase in the bottom number. Healthy (and good-tasting) food choices and physical activity often will bring the numbers down—see below. And if you lose waist, even better: Shedding just 10 percent of the weight you gained since you were 18, or 2 inches of waist, will bring both numbers down and make your arteries years younger.

If you know your numbers and you and your doc set a goal, you can start aiming for lower readings and start doing more of the things that we know help people reach their blood pressure goals. Get a device and measure it—we’d like you to aim for 115/75, but work with your doc.

Looking for a Cause
There are a lot of things we can blame high blood pressure on: the dollar menu at the corner fast-food joint, the burden of pending mortgage payments, our family heritage. And it’s true that things like poor diet, stress and genetics can play a role. So can a lack of walking.

But there are also changes that happen inside your body that can lead to high blood pressure. And you may never know the real reason your numbers are high.

But here’s what is certain: how to get that number to where it ought to be. First, there are lifestyle changes:

  • Eating more vegetables, less meat, less saturated fat and more healthy fat instead, such as olive oil, canola oil and other omega-3 fats like DHA
  • Having more real friends—people whom you trust totally and can confide in, hopefully like your significant other, but the more friends you can confide in, the better
  • Walking daily

In addition to these, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your numbers. In fact, we ask our patients who need medicines to think of them as friends—steady, stable friends who help you reach a goal when other things don’t get you there. And there are more medication options than ever to help you do this job. Then why don’t people do so? More than 30 percent don’t fill their BP prescriptions when they do not have to pay for them. Maybe it is the side effects, or maybe they don’t realize how important it is.

But you have to be a smart patient and tell your doc what is bothering you about the medication. There are more classes of drugs than ever, so side effects can be minimized, or you can even find side effects that you like (one pill increases libido, one decreases it). In fact, there are at least 10 major classes of blood pressure pills available today, including the newest class of medication that targets a chemical system responsible for the normal rising and falling of blood pressure: the renin system. In some people, the renin system is too active, and that can lead to high blood pressure.

Your doctor may even start you on more than one type of pill, because combining pills can work in different ways at lower doses, maximizing benefits while minimizing side effects.

Whatever course of action you and your doctor decide is right for you, stick with it. Every point drop in blood pressure could mean that much more health, that much more life, that much younger in RealAge, and that much less risk for high blood pressure dangers like erectile dysfunction, poor-quality orgasms, kidney failure or even the big ones: heart attack and stroke. We want you to keep reading this column. So find out your number, and then get it to your ideal. Talk to your doc about more friends or use the tools at RealAge.com to aim lower.

NC Fit Club