Friday, July 30, 2010

Balance and Moderation the Key to a Healthy Diet, Part 4 - Carbohydrates

KohlenhydrateImage by fishy_ via Flickr

In this segment I'll talk about carbohydrates. There seems to be a lot of confusion these days about carbohydrates in your diet. Whether you should have them and how much? In this post I will explain what carbohydrates are and how your body uses them.

The popularity of the Atkins, South Beach, and other low-carbohydrate diets has probably led you to believe that carbohydrates are “bad” for you. Just reading the hype in the media would make you think that carbohydrates are the cause of the obesity epidemic throughout the United States.

Eating a lot of easily- digested carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods may contribute to your weight gain, and therefore, interfere with your efforts to lose weight. On the contrary, consuming whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and other intact carbohydrates promotes good health. As I mentioned before, a healthy diet is about balance and moderation. A basic knowledge of what carbohydrates are and how you body uses them is essential to understanding how to balance them in your diet.

Carbohydrates are essential nutrients that are excellent sources of energy (measured as calories) for your body; they are the preferred fuel for your brain and nervous system. Carbohydrates are found in an array of foods such as bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, soft drinks, corn, and desserts. The most common and abundant forms are classified as sugars, fibers, and starches.

The basic building block of every carbohydrate is a sugar molecule, a simple union of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Starches and fibers forms of carbohydrates are essentially chains of sugar molecules, some containing hundreds.

As mentioned above, most carbohydrates come from plant sources and are in the form of sugars, starches, and fibers. Sugars, also called simple carbohydrates, include fruit sugar (fructose), corn or grape sugar (dextrose or glucose), and table sugar (sucrose). Starches, also known as complex carbohydrates, include everything made of three or more linked sugars. Starches include foods such as breads, cereals, grains, pasta, rice, and flour. Fibers are technically classified as a starch because they are complex carbohydrate s that your body cannot breakdown into sugar molecules. Fibers are more abundant in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables.

Your body breaks down all carbohydrates, except for fibers, into single sugar molecules regardless of their source. These simple sugars are further converted into glucose, also known as blood sugar. Your body is designed to use blood sugar as a universal source of fuel for energy.

Fiber is the form of carbohydrate that your body cannot break down into simple sugar molecules. It passes through your body undigested. Fiber comes in two varieties: soluble, which dissolves in water, and insoluble, which does not. Although neither type provides energy for your body, they both promote health in many ways. Soluble fiber binds to fatty substances in your intestines and carries them out as waste, thus lowering your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol). It also helps regulate your body’s use of sugars, helping you to keep your hunger and blood sugar in check. Insoluble fiber helps push food through your intestinal tract, promoting regularity and helping to prevent constipation.

Here’s what happens when you eat a food containing carbohydrates. Your digestive system breaks down the digestible ones into sugar, which then enters your blood. As your blood sugar level rises, specials cells in your pancreas churn out insulin, a hormone that signals your cells to absorb the blood sugar for energy or for storage. As your cells soak-up the blood sugar, its level in your bloodstream begins to fall. Now, your pancreas starts making another hormone called glucagon ,which signals your liver to start releasing stored blood sugar. This interplay of insulin and glucagon ensures that cells throughout your body have a steady supply of blood sugar.

Maintaining a steady blood sugar level is a very important component of your diet. While you’ve just seen that your body breaks down all digestible carbohydrates into blood sugar, some are converted into blood sugar faster than others. Thus, some carbohydrates cause a spike in your blood sugar level causing you to feel hungry faster and to crave more sugary foods. Other carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar more slowly, leveling out your blood sugar and resulting in less hunger and food cravings.

In my next installment I'll explain how carbohydrates are rated as to how fast your body converts them into sugar. I'll also show you why most of the carbohydrates you consume should be those that you body converts to sugar more slowly.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Balance and Moderation the Key to a Healthy Diet, Part 3 - How Much Protein

My favorite protein sourceImage by Let Ideas Compete via Flickr

I mentioned what protein is and how important it is to have in your diet in my last post. Now, let's talk about how much protein you should have in your diet. According to research on this topic, there is no one-size-fit all answer. Recommendations range from a minimum of 10 percent of your daily caloric intake to a total of 30 percent. However, results from scientific research are now revealing that people who consume higher amounts of protein (20 to 30 percent of their daily caloric intake), while cutting back on their carbohydrate intake, tend to lose weight faster and stay leaner than those people on low-fat diets.

The reason higher protein, lower carbohydrates diets are more conducive to weight loss and maintenance is interesting. First, high-protein foods slow the movement of food from the stomach to the intestines, meaning you feel full longer and don't get hungry as often. Second, protein has a leveling effect on your blood sugar which means you are less likely to get spikes in your blood sugar that lead to cravings for carbohydrates.

Over the years, I have found that eating about 30 percent of my calories from protein works great for me to maintain my weight and muscle mass. Here's how to calculate how many grams of protein equate to 30 percent of your daily caloric intake. First, you must have an idea of how many calories you consume daily. I suggest you keep a food journal for at least a week in which you write down everything you eat and drink and the corresponding quantities. Next, calculate from this journal the total calories you eat each day. You can do this by finding the nutritional data from different sources such as the USDA's National Nutritional Database.

Once you know how many daily calories you are eating, it's easy to calculate how much protein you should be consuming. Let's say the result from the above calculations show that you are eating approximately 1800 calories per day. So, 30 percent of 1800 calories equates to 540 calories you are consuming from protein. Next, you convert the calories from protein to grams by dividing the 540 calories by 4, which equals 134 grams of protein.

Now that you know how much protein you need in your diet here are some good sources of protein listed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help you with you serving sizes.

1 ounce meat, fish, poultry equals 7 grams of protein

1 large egg equals 6 grams of protein

4 ounces milk equal 4 grams of protein

4 ounces low-fat yogurt equals 6 grams of protein

4 ounces soy milk equals 5 grams of protein

3 ounces tofu, firm equals 13 grams of protein

1 ounce cheese equals 7 grams of protein

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese equals 14 grams of protein

1/2 cup cooked kidney beans equals 7 grams of protein

1/2 cup lentils equals 9 grams of protein

1 ounce nuts equals 7 grams of protein

2 tablespoons peanut butter equals 8 grams of protein

1/2 cup vegetables equals 2 grams of protein

1 slice bread equals 2 grams of protein

1/2 cup of most grains/pastas equals 2 grams of protein

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Balance and Moderation the Key to a Healthy Diet, Part 2 - Protein

Low Carb Breakfast 090219Image by Cam Switzer via Flickr

This post is part two of mini-series on balance and moderation in your diet. As I mentioned in my previous post every food is broken down into its' basic components of protein, carbohydrates and fats. In order for you to learn to balance your diet you must know what these basic food components are and how your body uses them.

In this segment we'll talk about protein. Protein is a necessary part of every living cell in your body. Next to water, protein comprises the greatest portion of your body weight. Protein substances make up your muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, and many vital body fluids. It is essential for growth, repair, and healing of your bones, tissues, and cells. So, you can see the proper amount of protein in your diet is vital for your health and well-being.

Protein is comprised of building-blocks called amino acids. There are approximately twenty-eight commonly know amino acids that your body uses to create all the various combinations of proteins needed for survival. These commonly known amino acids are further classified as essential and nonessential amino acids. Nonessential amino acids can be produced in your body, while essential amino acids cannot be produced in your body and must be obtained from the foods you eat.

The sources of protein in your diet are classified as complete or incomplete. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids and are mostly from animal sources such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Incomplete proteins lack one or more essential amino acids that your body cannot make itself. Incomplete protein usually come from plant based sources such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. you must eat incomplete sources of protein in a combination that contains all the essential amino acids in order for your body to use them.

As I mentioned, you must get your essential amino acids from your diet because body cannot make them itself. Some of the best animal sources are fish, poultry, lean cuts of meat, and low-fat dairy products. Some of the best vegetable sources are beans, nuts, and whole grains.

Now, I hope that you have a basic understanding of protein and why it is important in your diet. I my next installment I'll explain how much protein you should have in your diet and how to figure out your serving sizes so you can start balancing the foods you eat.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Balance and Moderation the Key to a Healthy Diet

Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...Image via Wikipedia

As I mentioned in my previous post, fad diets don't work because they are hard to stick with over a long period of time. Consequently, as soon as you return to your old eating habits you are most likely to regain any weight you may have lost and more.

The key to eating healthy over the long-term is balance and moderation in the foods you consume daily. You can eat any food you desire as long as it is in moderation and balanced with the rest of the foods you consume. For example, I love brownies, so when I have a brownie for dessert, I only have one. I also balance the carbohydrates in the brownie by not having bread with my meal.

The first step in learning balance and moderation in your diet is knowing how to classify foods into their basic source of protein, carbohydrates, and fats and knowing how they are used in your body. The second step is mastering portion. Knowing how many calories you consume from each food source and what your serving sizes are will enable you to balance your meals. Eating this way can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle, it's a plan you can stick with over time.

In my next post I'll show you how foods are classified into their basic components of protein, carbohydrates and fats and how your body uses them.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fad Diets Don't Work

More Healthy EatingImage by TheFemGeek via Flickr

People always ask me how they can lose a lot of weight in a few weeks. They want a quick fix for a long-term problem. So, let me say one more time; fad diets don't work. You may be able to lose weight quickly on some diet by eating foods of a certain color, eating no carbs, drinking only shakes, or whatever the latest fad maybe. But, I guarantee you'll get tired of eating the same way after a few weeks and as soon as you return to your normal diet you'll regain the weight and probably more.

Fad diets don't because they are not a way of eating that you can stick with for the long-term. The only way for permanent weight loss and maintenance is developing an eating style and healthy habits that you can incorporate into your daily life.

Balance and moderation in the foods you eat is the best way to achieve a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle. I'll take talk more about this in my next post.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Help Improve the Health of a Loved One

The “weigh” he was Camp America commandant los...Image via Wikipedia

I have an idea on how to improve the health of the ones you love. Take the ones you love for a 30 minute walk each day. What better way to say I love you than to help someone to live a healthy and long life?

Walking is a simple and easy way to get the health benefits of regular exercise. A brisk 30 minute walk each day can decrease your blood pressure, decrease your risk for developing diabetes, help you lose weight, increase your energy level, and help you sleep better.

Just think you can help someone you love improve the quality of their life just by taking them for a walk each day. Plus, you can have great conversation and get to know them better. Try it for the next 30 days and you'll be surprised at how much better you and your loved ones will feel.
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Your Health, Your Choice

Obesity #1Image by Spree2010 via Flickr

I'm concerned about the health and fitness of America. Over 30 percent of our population is obese, not just overweight but obese. That's a shocking figure. That means one-third of our population will most likely not live past age 70 and if they do they will be in poor health.

Even of more concern is that most people know what they a have to do in order to lose and maintain a healthy weight but they just don't do it. That means that they choose not to be healthy.

Life is all about choices and the consequences of the those choices. It's really very simple. Choose to be healthy and you will develop healthy habits and improve both your lifespan and the quality of your life. If not for yourself, then for those who love and depend on you.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Obesity the New Health Epidemic

On overweight man's waistline.Image via Wikipedia

I just got back from a family vacation and we had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, I can't shake the shock of being at the pool and seeing so many obese people. I don't think people realize how badly that being overweight impacts their lives. First, being obese shortens your life span; you can rarely expect to live past 70 years. Secondly, if you are obese you can expect a poor quality of life; diabetes, aching joints, low energy, etc.... Thirdly, and the saddest thing about obesity is it is a lifestyle choice.
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Marketing Efforts Continued...

New picture books, late October 2007Image by your neighborhood librarian via Flickr

I know I've written a very good book. Everyone who reads it agrees. I sold the 30 copies I ordered in less than a week so, I know I won't have a problem selling the books in-person. The problem is how do I get my books exposed online?

Yesterday I requested a book review by a company called A good review by an independent source would not only be good for book sales but, also a boost to my confidence in my work. Today I'm researching online marketing techniques that have been successful to other.

I'm finding that one of the biggest obstacles in my way is time. I work with my clients over 50 hours each week and I am newly wedded to my beautiful wife. Consequently I have to make any time I have available very efficient. Where there's a will, there's a way.
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Marketing is the Hardest Part

www,domain,internet,web,netImage via Wikipedia

Now that my new book "Forever Fit and Firm" is published I'm finding that marketing my new work is the hardest part unless you've got mucho dollars to hire someone to do it for you. I don't so here's my plan.

I figure the world wide web is a gold mine when it comes to getting the word out about my book. Well, that's the attitude I'm taking anyway. You'll get that I'm an eternal optimist from reading my posts. The first thing I've done is to have my book listed online with Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Next, I'm searching the internet on how others have been successful marketing online; no need reinventing the wheel.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Is there anyone out there who has any pointers for me?
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Published Book

Personal trainer showing a client how to exerc...Image via Wikipedia

I've finally written and published the book I've always dreamed of. It's called "Forever Fit and Firm" and it is based on how I stay healthy and fit. I'm a personal trainer in my fifties and I am in better physical condition than I was in my twenties. You might ask is that possible, and I say yes it is.

You see most of the aches and pains, and physical degeneration that you associate with aging it actually a result of many years of negative thinking, lack of exercise, and poor dietary habits. In my book I show you how to get into the best shape of your life no matter your age.
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