Category Archives for Nutrition Advice

How to Avoid Weight Gain While Traveling

Fruit makes an ideal travel snack.

Traveling can disrupt your usual diet and exercise routine, but there are ways you can enjoy your vacation without gaining weight.

When you’re planning a vacation, you probably start by figuring out where you’re going to go, how you’re going to get there, where you’re going to stay, and what you’ll want to do once you get there. And if you’re like many of my clients, there may be something else you might plan for when you travel – weight gain. However, I’m going to tell you how you can take a vacation and avoid weight gain.

Many people tell me that they just can’t stay on their diets while they’re on vacation; admittedly, it’s a challenge. But when people plan to gain weight when they’re traveling, it sounds to me as if they don’t even want to try to stay on track. Vacations can turn your structured world upside down, which is one of the reasons we enjoy taking them. But just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to bring back “excess baggage” around your waist, hips and thighs.

Tips to Control Calories While Traveling

No matter where you go, or how you get there, it really helps if you’re well prepared. Aim to stick to your usual routines as much as you can. Here are some tips to help you avoid weight gain while on vacation.

–  If you’re traveling by car, skip the ‘road food’ and pack healthy meals and snacks instead. Don’t leave the house until you’ve eaten. If you’re in a rush, take a protein shake with you so you’ll be less tempted to pick up fast food on the way.

–  Easy-to-pack foods, such as protein bars, fruit, nuts or soy nuts, string cheese and individual packs of baby carrots, are good snacks no matter your method of travel. They’re great for road trips or flights.

–  Finding healthy items at the airport is a challenge – fruit, yogurt, salads or sandwiches can be found – but packing your own food will save you calories and cash.

–  When flights are delayed, use the time to walk around in the terminal rather than letting the restaurants and watering holes beckon. At some large airports, you can easily log a mile or more by walking back and forth along the concourses.

–  Watch out for liquid calories. Staying hydrated, especially if you’re flying, is important. It’s recommended that you drink a cup of fluid for every hour you’re in the air, but if you’re chugging sodas or cocktails, you’ll rack up a bundle of calories. Stick to water, iced tea or lightly sweetened sports beverages instead.

–  If a stop at a hotel figures into your plans, you’ll likely be suffering from a dangerous combination of fatigue coupled with tempting foods from the happy hour buffets or room service. Travel is tiring, but rather than using food as a pick-me-up, take a walk or hit the hotel gym after you get settled.

–  Many hotel rooms have refrigerators. Pick up some fresh fruits, cut vegetables or yogurt for snacks. And don’t forget some milk or soy milk so you can whip up a protein shake in your room.

–  Ask hotel staff about healthy dining options in the area where you’re likely to find the foods you generally eat.

–  Watch your calories at hotels that offer complimentary breakfast. It’s tempting to overeat when you’re not paying for food items. Most free breakfasts load you up with starchy bagels, cereal and waffles and it’s easy for you to eat more than you should, especially when you’re not paying for it. Instead, be on the lookout for fresh fruit, and maybe some protein in the form of hard-boiled eggs or yogurt.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

 

How Good Nutrition Supports Your Immune System

 

Eat fruits to bolster your immune system.

A strong immune system relies on a healthy diet for support. Here are some nutrition tips to help you keep your immune system in tip-top shape.

When you stop to think about how hard your immune system works for you, it’s nothing short of amazing. It’s an incredibly complex system that works nonstop to protect and defend you – and it’s a system that depends on good nutrition in order to function properly.

We tend to focus on immunity more in the colder months – it seems that colder weather and illness go hand-in-hand. Part of the reason is that when the weather turns chilly, we spend more time indoors – which means we’re in closer contact with more people, and there’s less air circulating – so we’ve got more exposure to the germs that can make us sick.

But that doesn’t mean our immune system isn’t on alert the rest of the year – your built-in defense system works 24/7. In essence, your immune system is your own personal army of ‘soldiers’ that protects your body by identifying anything foreign – from a virus to a bacteria to a parasite – and then seeking it out and destroying it.

And your body does depend on the proper nutrients and a healthy lifestyle to keep your defenses up.

How Nutrition Supports Your Immune System

Your immune system has some ‘special forces’ in the form of white blood cells. These cells produce specialized proteins – called antibodies – that seek out and destroy invading viruses and bacteria. Since antibodies are proteins, you need adequate protein in the diet to ensure you’ll be able to manufacture the antibodies your body needs. Healthy protein foods – like fish, poultry, lean meats, soy foods and lowfat dairy products – provide the building blocks that your body needs to make these specialized proteins.

Fruits and vegetables are key players in immune system health because they are great sources of vitamins A and C, as well as phytonutrients. Vitamin C encourages your body to produce antibodies, and Vitamin A supports the health of your skin and tissues of your digestive tract and respiratory system – all of which act as first lines of defense against foreign invaders. And, many of the phytonutrients found in fruits and veggies act as antioxidants, which can help to reduce oxidative stress on the body which may weaken your body’s ability to fight of illness.

Keeping your digestive system healthy is also important in supporting immune function. Your digestive tract is home to trillions of bacteria that have numerous functions in promoting health. Some strains of bacteria help you digest the fiber in your foods, others consume intestinal gas, while others produce vitamins, like vitamin K and vitamin B12. When your system is populated with these “good” bacteria, they also serve to ‘crowd out’ the potentially harmful bacteria that might enter your digestive tract. Some of the best sources of these friendly bacteria are cultured dairy products – like yogurt and kefir. As you know, whenever you are trying something new, make sure to check with your doctor or other professional about the amount to take that’s right for you.

Some people suffer medical conditions that affect the operation of their immune systems.  Diet alone won’t improve the function of a compromised immune system.  But for healthy people, eating well can help keep your immune system healthy and strong. And to help your body in the fight against foreign invaders, your internal ‘army’ needs the best nutrition possible. So call in the troops!

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

 

What to Eat for Healthy Nails

 

Healthy nails require the right nutrients.

It takes the right nutrients to help support strong, healthy nails.

Just like your skin and hair, your fingernails are a window to the “world within” – the health of your skin, hair and nails are a reflection of what you put into your body. And, like any other living tissue, your fingernails rely on a steady supply of nutrients to help them to be strong and healthy. Fingernail Fundamentals

Your nails are made up of layers of protein, known as keratin, the same protein found in your hair. And, they tend to grow at a fixed rate, with some slight variations: men’s nails usually grow faster than women’s (except during pregnancy, when the pace often picks up); fingernails grow faster than toenails; the nails on your little fingers grow more slowly than the others; and nails usually grow faster in the summer than in the winter. Also, the hardness of your nails is largely determined by genetics.

Even though you can’t make your nails grow faster or make them harder, it’s important to provide them with the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy, that way, your nails may be able to grow longer since they may be less likely to crack or break.

Four Nutrients that Support Nail Health

Protein. Since your nails are composed primarily of protein, it should come as no surprise that you need adequate protein in your diet to support the health of your nails. Choose from a range of low-fat plant and animal sources: soy and other beans, eggs, dairy products, seafood, poultry and lean meats.

Omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy fats can help keep your nails moisturized, keeping them from appearing dry and dull. Fish is the best source of these healthy fats, but you can also find omega-3s in walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.

Zinc. Zinc is a mineral that’s vitally important in protein synthesis, so it helps your body manufacture the keratin protein in your nails. Oysters are the richest source of zinc, but you’ll also find it in other proteins – meat, fish, poultry, beans and yogurt – as well as nuts.

Magnesium. Magnesium is a multitasker mineral – it’s needed for literally hundreds of chemical reactions in your body and, like zinc, helps your body to manufacture the proteins found in your nails. Magnesium is easy to get because it’s so widespread in healthy foods.  Green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, avocado, whole grains, yogurt and soymilk are all good sources of magnesium.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

 

Nutrition and Bone Health

 

Leafy greens promote bone strength.

In keeping with this month’s theme of “strength,” here are some key nutrients that help support strong bones.

Ask most people what nutrients are needed to support bone health, and they’ll likely say calcium and Vitamin D. And they would be right, of course, calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body (most of it is socked away in our bones and teeth) and Vitamin D is critically important in helping the body absorb calcium. But many other nutrients play an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy.

Nutrients for Healthy Bones

Bone is a living, growing tissue made up of a collagen – a protein that forms a soft framework for bone – and a mineral component called hydroxyapatite (made primarily of calcium and phosphorus) that is deposited in this framework to give bones strength and hardness. In addition to protein, calcium and phosphorus, there are other nutrients that help support bone health. Here are some key bone-building nutrients and where to find them:

 

Calcium makes up about 2% of your total body weight, and most of it is stored in your skeleton.

Where to find it: Milk and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.), almonds, green leafy vegetables.

 

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body and combines with calcium to form the crystalline structure of bone.

Where to find it: Phosphorus is in many different foods, and most people get plenty in the diet. Major sources include milk, fish, poultry, meat, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains

 

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the digestive tract.

Where to find it: Fatty fish, liver, some fortified foods. Many people don’t consume enough Vitamin D, however, and may benefit from supplementation.

 

Magnesium stimulates the production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps to move calcium from the bloodstream into the bones. Magnesium is also needed to convert Vitamin D into its active form, which, in turn, supports calcium absorption.

Where to find it: Green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

 

Potassium helps to maintain calcium balance in the body and helps to reduce losses of calcium in the urine.

Where to find it: Melons, tomatoes, bananas, peaches, oranges, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans.
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein matrix of bone tissue.

Where to find it: Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwifruit, peppers, green leafy veggies.

 

Boron is a mineral that supports the body’s use of other bone-building nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and Vitamin D.

Where to find it: Dried fruits (prunes, raisins, dried apricots), peanut butter and avocados.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

 

 

*Results may very from person to person

Sticking With Your Diet Plan: Finding Your Inner Strength

 

Be hungry before you decide to eat.

When you find yourself straying from your diet plan, learn to draw on your inner strengths to keep you on track.

It’s no wonder that so many dieters find it hard to stick with their plans. “If I never went anywhere, or saw anybody, it would be so much easier,” a patient told me recently. “It’s really hard to stick to my diet when there’s so much pressure to eat – and overeat,” he said.

Having to fight the urge to eat is a common complaint among struggling dieters. And, it isn’t so much the internal pressure of gnawing hunger, it’s the outside pressures to eat that can be their undoing.

When outside pressures beckon, it helps to understand what those pressures are, and how you can draw upon your inner strengths to push back. And, as with any other “strength training” exercise, you’ll slowly build the power to take charge of your food choices, stick with your diet plan and set yourself on the road to success.

Three outside forces that can undo your diet and how to push back.

Outside force #1: Tempting foods everywhere. The ever-present availability of tempting food is one of the strongest forces in pressuring us to eat. Everywhere you go, it seems, there’s food – even where you’d least expect it. My dry cleaner has a tray of cookies on the counter, my bank offers coffee and mini donuts and my pharmacy has a basket of free candy on the counter. I don’t want or need any of that stuff, but I can see how easy it would be to mindlessly pick up those extra calories… just because they’re there.

Using your inner strength to push back. When you run into food in unexpected places, remind yourself why you went there in the first place. You went to the bank to make a deposit, not because you were looking for a snack. When you come upon food unexpectedly, ask yourself these questions: Am I hungry? If I hadn’t seen this food, would I have thought about eating it? Would I walk a block in order to get it? Taking a moment to consider the temptation should stop you from giving in.

Outside force #2: Pressure from family and friends. Social situations put a lot of pressure on us to eat. When you eat out with a group, there’s pressure to “go with the flow” and eat the way everyone else does, even if that doesn’t fit in with your plan. Meeting friends for drinks means not only the pressure to drink but also to indulge in high-calorie bar food. With family, you might feel pressure to “show you care” by eating more than you intended.

Using your inner strength to push back. When you know you will be in social situations that might pose a problem, take a moment to remind yourself that you are in charge of what goes into your body. Reflect on your eating plan, and decide ahead of time how to make the social situation work for you. You can show your strength by ordering first when you dine out with others, and determine your drink and snack limit before happy hour starts. With pushy family members, let them know that the food is delicious but gently remind them that you’re watching your calories.

Outside force #3:  Pressure of everyday life leads to emotional eating. Our lives are busy and stressful and can stir up emotions and bad feelings that may lead us to eat when we hadn’t intended to. We may turn to comfort foods when we feel stressed or anxious, or use treats as entertainment when we’re bored.

Using your inner strength to push back. Many people use food as a way to distract themselves from experiencing an unpleasant emotion. But the pleasure is usually momentary, and is often followed by another unpleasant emotion – guilt. Instead of turning to food, take a few moments to turn your focus inward. Sit quietly, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, keeping it slow and steady. By calling upon your inner strength this way, you can learn to simply experience the emotion, without any judgment, and let it go. Just a few quiet moments can be enough to stop you from acting on impulse and eating something that you might regret.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

 

 

*Results may very from person to person

Four Things You Should Know About Iron

Lentils are a good source of iron.

Iron is a vitally important mineral, but many people – especially women – don’t meet their iron needs.

Iron is the most abundant mineral on earth – and one that nourishes nearly all life on the planet. Plants need iron to make chlorophyll, which allows the plant to convert energy from the sun into energy for the plant and, in humans, iron is found in every cell of the body. Yet for all its abundance, many of us don’t get enough iron in the diet. In fact, lack of iron is among the most common nutritional deficiencies worldwide, including in the United States.

Iron’s number one job in the body is to transport oxygen from the lungs to all the cells and tissues of the body – iron makes up part of the hemoglobin molecule in the blood (and the myoglobin protein in muscle) that performs this function. But equally important is iron’s role in helping to extract energy from your food. So, when you consider these two key functions of iron, it makes sense that if you don’t get enough iron in your diet, you might feel your energy flagging.

In general, women are more likely to experience a lack of iron than men, and this is due partly to differences in diet, and also the fact that women of childbearing age experience iron losses through their monthly menstrual cycles, and also experience increased needs during pregnancy. And, since the mineral is necessary for growth and development, shortages may occur among growing children and teenagers (especially girls).

With careful attention to diet, however, most people can meet their body’s needs for this important mineral. Here are four things you should know about iron.

  1. If you associate dietary iron with foods like red meat, you’d be right. Animal proteins – like meat and poultry – are the primary sources of iron in a typical diet. This form of iron is called “heme” iron, and it is generally better absorbed than the iron found in plant foods.
  1. But, that doesn’t mean vegetarians can’t get enough iron. A different form of iron, called “non-heme” iron is found in plant sources, such as beans, lentils, oatmeal, eggs, nuts, leafy greens and fortified grain products (like cereals).
  1. Vitamin C greatly enhances the body’s ability to absorb non-heme iron from plant sources. Vegetarians generally eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C, which helps explain how some vegetarians are able to meet their iron needs with a well-balanced diet. For instance, a vegetarian chili with beans and tomatoes, the Vitamin C in the tomatoes would help the body absorb the iron from the beans.
  1. Your body is able to adjust how much iron you take up, depending on your needs. When iron stores are waning, your body becomes more efficient at absorbing it. On the other hand, if you’ve got plenty of iron on hand, you’ll take up less.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

 

 

 

*Results may very from person to person

PROTEIN

High-Protein-Foods

PROTEIN

The word protein originates from the idea that proteins are central to life and the first nutrient. Vitamins – vita meaning life and amin meaning protein – got their name from the misconception that amino acids, the building blocks of protein, were the essential components for maintaining life.

Proteins are found in animals and plants, but the mixture of amino acids – the building blocks of the protein found from different sources – varies. As a result, there are 21 common amino acids consisting of 12 nonessential and nine essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be synthesized from other amino acids, but must be consumed in the diet. The usual way that nonessential amino acids are formed is by metabolism of other amino acids. All amino acids have a basic structure of an alpha-amino nitrogen and carboxylic acid.

Maintaining the amounts of protein in muscles and organs is essential to life and is the main objective of the adaptation to starvation. In fact, loss of more than 50 percent of body protein is incompatible with life. The protein is stored in organs and there is no labile compartment.

The Importance of Protein
There is evidence that modestly increasing the proportion of protein in the diet, while controlling total calorie intake, may:

  • Improve body composition.
  • Facilitate fat loss.
  • Improve body weight maintenance after weight loss.

Fat Retention
Mankind is very well adapted to malnutrition and starvation, and this adaptation is reflected both in the way the body stores energy and how it uses these stores of energy when food intake is reduced or eliminated altogether. In the average 70 kg (154 lbs) man:

  • The largest store of calories is in the form of fat in adipose tissue with approximately 135,000 calories* stored in 13.5 kg (30 lbs) of adipose tissue.

*A dietary calorie is 1,000 calories or a kcal, but for simplicity will simply be noted as calories. You may also see dietary calories capitalized as “Calories.”

This storage compartment can be greatly expanded with long-term overnutrition in obese individuals.

There are approximately 54,000 calories stored as protein both in muscle and organs, such as the heart and liver. Only half of these calories can be mobilized for energy, since depletion below 50 percent of total protein stores is incompatible with life. In addition to being an energy source, protein plays a functional role in many organs, including the liver, and depletion is associated with impaired immunity to infection. In fact, the most common cause of death in an epidemic of starvation is typically simple bacterial pneumonia. Conservation of protein is an adaptation tightly linked to survival during acute starvation.

Meal Replacement Shakes and Weight Maintenance
Studies show that meal replacement shakes are a viable way to maintain weight, as recognized by the European Food Safety Authority, and that increasing the protein to about 30 percent of resting metabolic rate, as estimated by bioelectrical impedance, leads to greater loss of fat with retention of lean body mass.

Want to Build Muscle? It Takes More Than Just Protein

High-quality carbs support the building of muscle.

Protein is important for building muscle, but other nutrients play an important role, too.

If you were to ask most people what it takes to build muscle, they’ll probably say that you just need to eat protein, protein and more protein. Protein is important, to be sure. After all, your muscles are made of protein, and so your body does require adequate protein in the diet in order to have the building blocks it needs to build up muscle mass. But, protein alone won’t do – you need to pay attention to the rest of your diet, too.

Related Article: What are carbohydrates and how many ‘carbs’ do you need?

A lot of men who are trying to bulk up are also trying to lose body fat at the same time, but sometimes the approaches they use to meet those goals are at odds with each other. They’ll take in plenty of protein, which, when coupled with a strength training routine, should lead to more lean mass. But, they may also cut their total calories back too far in an effort to get “shredded.”

And that can be a problem because if you cut your calories too much, some of the protein that you eat is going to be burned for fuel, rather than being used to support muscle development. So, to effectively build muscle mass, you want to ensure that you have enough calories to support your activity, and the right balance of nutrients, too.

  • Carbohydrates: Many bodybuilders see carbs as the enemy, and that can be a mistake. Yes, highly refined carbohydrates and sweets hardly do the body good, but the right carbohydrates (found in whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables) help to fuel activity, including working muscles. Without adequate carbohydrate to fuel your exercise, some of the protein you’re eating might get burned for fuel. So, to avoid “burning the candle at both ends,” make sure to include enough high-quality carbs in your diet.
  • Fat: Dietary fat is sometimes underappreciated by some athletes and, like carbs, fats may have an undeserved bad reputation. Small amounts of the right kinds of fats are really important. That’s because certain fatty acids – the building blocks of dietary fats – are essential because the body can’t make them. Fatty acids are a vital structural component of every cell membrane (including muscle cells) and the body relies on fat to fuel moderate intensity, longer-term exercise, just the type of exercise that might be coupled with a strength-training regimen to build mass and lose body fat. Focus on the “good” sources – like nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil and avocado.
  • Protein: Eating the right amount of protein is important for stimulating muscle development, but so is the timing of protein intake. The process of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is stimulated by strength training activity, but it is also stimulated when you eat protein, too. This is one reason that strength-training athletes should aim to spread their protein intake fairly evenly over meals and snacks throughout the day. MPS is greater under these conditions than it is under a more typical pattern in which little protein is consumed in the morning, a bit more a lunch and then a large amount at dinner. And, a bedtime snack containing about 25g of protein can help to stimulate MPS during the night.

Both plant and animal sources provide the necessary building blocks for MPS; “fast-digesting” proteins are high in the amino acid leucine – found in a range of both plant and animal proteins, including soy, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds and beans – which stimulates MPS, while more slowly digested proteins, such as egg and milk proteins, may help to prolong the MPS process.

At this point, there’s nothing to suggest that “fast” proteins are better than “slow” proteins (or vice versa) – what’s more important to know is that protein needs can be met from both plant and animal sources. With careful planning and attention to total intake, even vegetarians or vegans can consume enough protein to support muscle development.

Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

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