Category Archives for "Diet News"

December 14, 2018

Diet Foods That Cause Weight Gain

these diet foods may actually lead to weight gain

Considering that an estimated 40% of Americans can be deemed as “overweight”, there is no surprise that the diet industry is big business these days. However, despite all of the inundation we get from all different kinds of diets that are marketed to make you lose weight, how much of it is true and how much of it is B.S.?

Often times we don’t examine our food closely enough and just fall into a trap with all the marketing we see. As a matter of fact, a good number of foods that are marketed as low-fat, fat-free, or calorie-free are anything but.

So which foods that you commonly find in diets these days are actually causing you to gain weight instead of doing their intended purpose? Continue reading as I’ll get into that below so you know what to stay away from.

Stay Away From These “Diet” Foods

Protein Shakes and Smoothies

These have become ubiquitous and so convenient these days. You see so many Smoothie King or Jamba Juice stores and figure “hey, it’s just fruit blended together, it must be healthy!”, but it is anything but. While smoothies and protein shakes are hawked in the wellness community, they are loaded with calories and sugar.

diet foods that cause weight gain

The sugar part is particularly true for smoothies, with over 50 grams of sugar on average, while protein shakes can contain over 400 calories.

This isn’t to say all drinks in this category are bad for you. You just need to be knowledgeable of the ingredients and the source so you know what you’re drinking isn’t loaded with sugar or over the top with calories.

Dried Fruit

I’m as guilty as anyone in snacking on dried fruits. Those little plastic containers you find near the bakery section in my grocery store just pull me in. I love the dried mangoes, in particular. However, just because they are fruit, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily healthy for you. For one, because they are smaller due to being dried, and come in bite-sized bits, it makes it very easy to overeat these. On top of that, they are loaded with sugar and surprisingly high in calories. If you want fruit, stick with fresh fruit instead.

Diet Sodas

While it may say 0 calories on the side of the package, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for you. One study actually showed that individuals who drink a lot of diet soda had a bigger waistline than those who don’t. It’s causing weight gain, not weight loss! It also can contribute to higher blood pressure, as well as increase the risk of metabolic diseases and diabetes (as indicated in this study).

Low-Fat Yogurt

While you are drawn in by the label saying it is low in fat, you are making up for it (in an unhealthy way) with the inclusion of so much sugar to make it taste so good. There are nearly 30 grams in your typical serving of low-fat flavored yogurt. Surprisingly, it may be even better for you to go with a full-dairy yogurt option, as this study found evidence that women who eat full-dairy options gained less weight than those who ate “low-fat.”

December 14, 2018

Best Foods for Heart Health

best foods to eat to take care of your heart

If you have a family history of heart disease or other cardiovascular issues, it is so terribly important to be watching what you eat. What you put in your body is the biggest determinant of your health. As they say, you are what you eat.

I had written a previous post about the Meditteranean Diet and how it is great for combating heart disease, which you can read here. However, that post didn’t fully go into what kinds of foods make the best list of choices for heart health. I figured now would be a better time than any to address that.

What Foods Are Great for Heart Health?

While putting together this list, it came as no surprise that a lot of them are foods that you would find in a Meditteranean Diet. Of all the fads that have come and gone, that diet, in particular, is one that has true staying power as it has so many health benefits. Not to mention, it can be a great way to lose weight and get into better shape.

One of the many components of the Med Diet is eating a lot of fish. This meat is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that are typically lacking in a normal American diet. Make sure you are getting fish at least a couple times per week. My favorite, and one that is most recommended, is salmon. This protein can lower your triglyceride and lipid levels, which in turn lower your risk factors for developing heart disease.

That’s not to say you should be eating fish every night. I’m not sure even the biggest seafood lover could stomach that night after night.

However, be sure to work it into your schedule at least twice per week, if not more. Conversely, stay away from red meat, as it contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease (as I wrote about here).

Outside of seafood, another way to keep your heart healthy is by eating a lot of plant-based foods. That means fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and legumes. I wrote previously about healthy nuts to snack on. All of them listed there can lower your cholesterol levels, lipid levels, and contain omega-3 and other nutrients that are hugely beneficial for heart health.

Aside from those options, it is never a bad idea to be eating enough salad. Leafy greens are healthy no matter what your goals are, but they are particularly healthy for your heart. Try to make a salad with kale or spinach, as opposed to regular iceberg or romaine lettuce, to get even more nutrients from your greens.

Lastly, another great thing about the Med Diet is the encouragement of drinking some red wine! When consumed in moderation, it can reduce the risk of heart disease. However, the words in moderation are key. Going overboard can have an adverse effect and lead to a multitude of issues. Try to stick to a glass of wine per day.

December 14, 2018

Best Nuts for a Healthy Diet

healthy nut snacks

If you’re looking for some healthy options for snacks, look no further than nuts! I am a big fan of snacking on nuts, with pistachios being my favorite. However, when it comes to going out to a ballgame of any sort, I have to get a bag of peanuts along with a beer. It’s simply part of the game experience for me. I even have a wooden bowl of peanuts here on my coffee table to snack on while watching games at home.

Not only do they taste great, but they are a much healthier snack option that most anything else you like to munch on. Which ones are the best for your health? Continue reading for my list below.

What are the Healthiest Nuts?

What are the Healthiest Nuts?

Yes, the comedian in me is really trying hard to refrain to make some puns with this topic. Let’s keep it clean here. Anyway, if you’re looking to snack, here are the nuts you should be reaching for to get the most health benefits.

Almonds

These tree nuts have a ton of health benefits and are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Each serving will get you about 160 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber, nearly 40% of your daily amount of Vitamin E, and 20% of your daily value of magnesium.

Almonds are also highly beneficial for your cholesterol level. They can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol (LDL) and total cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular issues. They can also help regulate your blood sugar, making them particularly useful for those with diabetes.

Pistachios

My favorite! Just like almonds, they are super high in fiber.

A typical serving of pistachios comes with around 150 calories, 12 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fiber.

Just like with almonds, these nuts are helpful for managing your cholesterol level by increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDL). These nuts can reduce the risk factors of heart disease, and have been shown to lower your blood pressure to fight against hypertension.

Walnuts

This popular nut is very rich in nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids.

While a little higher in calories (around 180) and fat (18 grams), they are great sources of protein and healthy carbs as well as fiber.

walnuts are a healthy snack option

With a high amount of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and other nutrients, this nut similarly can reduce your cholesterol and lower the risk factors of heart disease and other cardiovascular ailments. They also help to fight against inflammation, which is a contributor to many other diseases. They have additionally been shown to increase mental cognition. That’s one smart nut!

Cashews

Another nut that is low in calories (155), high in protein (5 grams) and healthy carbs (9 grams), this nut is very beneficial to those with metabolic syndrome. They can also improve your blood pressure, an ailment common to those with heart problems. They are also strong with regards to your blood sugar levels, as well as raising the level of good cholesterol (HDL) and improving blood lipid levels.

December 14, 2018

Vegan Diet and Malnutrition

malnutrition in the vegan diet

Have you heard of the term “hidden hunger”? It refers to a case where you are getting enough food to eat – not hunger like starvation – but you aren’t getting enough nutrition. What it comes down to is not eating the right kinds of foods, or enough food variety, so that you are deficient in essential micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

While you may not notice the symptoms right away, they can be quite severe. Issues that derive from malnutrition from hidden hunger can range from a weaker immune system, impairment to the mental faculties, and even death in extreme cases.

Although cases like this are most often seen in developing, third-world countries, there is a rising trend of this happening in more wealthy countries lately as the result of fad diets. In particular, in this post I will be going into detail on the dangers of malnutrition as it pertains to a vegan diet.

The Hidden Hunger of a Vegan Diet

The rise in popularity of the vegan diet is a major culprit in the spread of malnutrition in the Western world.

It is said that the number of people who follow this diet has grown by a multiple of 4 in the last decade alone. Nearly 5% of the population of the US is vegetarian, with half of that total being vegan.

There is no doubt that there are some benefits to this kind of eating, regardless of what your reasoning may be, but there are hidden dangers to it as well.

vitamins to treat deficiency in vegan diet

While you may be lowering your risk of chronic disease, losing weight, and doing good for the environment and not partaking in cruelty to animals, many who abide by a vegan diet do not know that they are lacking many key nutrients that are obtained in other food sources outside of what they are eating.

One particular area of concern is bone health. In a vegan diet, with no consumption of dairy products, there is a deficiency in calcium and Vitamin D. These two nutrients play a key role in bone mineral density and strength. This issue is so severe that the bone fracture rates is more than 30% higher in vegans than compared with the normal diet population, according to doi.org.

Another essential nutrient that is deficient in a vegan diet is Vitamin B12, which is most prevalent in animal foods. Symptoms of a deficiency in this vitamin include fatigue and extreme tiredness, digestive issues, and can also lead to delays in development in young children. If left untreated, a lack of B12 can cause nerve damage that is irreversible.

What to Do


There are many other examples of malnutrition beyond just the vitamins and minerals listed above, but you get the point. If you are following a vegan diet, be aware of what nutrients you are missing out on from all the food you exclude from your consumption. For those that you have a deficiency from your food, be sure to supplement so that you are getting your recommended daily value. For my supplements, I typically shop at Amazon or HGH.com.

December 13, 2018

Is a Gluten-Free Diet Healthy?

who should eat a gluten-free diet?

A few years ago, hardly anybody had heard of the word “gluten”. But now, it’s gluten this and gluten that. It has become such a buzzword. Honestly, I question how many people who keep spouting off about it even know what it is. A bunch of sheep, if you ask me.

These days you are hearing about gluten on a daily basis, and the message is always to avoid this component of food at all costs. However, how true is this? Is this just a fad diet? Is there science behind it?

I came across an article recently in the Health section on cnn.com that set out to answer this question, and the answer may surprise you (or not).

Is Gluten Bad For You?

As one dietitian in the article puts it, “That’s the $64,000 question.” If you want to get the answer, here is what they say: going gluten-free is not beneficial for everybody, regardless of how often you hear it touted by celebrities, athletes, and social media influencers.

Who Is the Gluten-Free Diet For?

As mentioned above, this diet isn’t for everybody. Don’t just listen to all the buzz you hear about it and say “Oh, I should try that!” It isn’t a universal weight loss diet or a general healthy eating plan.

Rather, this kind of diet is specifically designed for individuals who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Don’t have either of those conditions? Then this diet isn’t for you. Plain and simple. When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, it stimulates a response in the immune system that can cause damage to the small intestine. This has an effect on the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients like carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. When these nutrients do not get fully absorbed, it can lead to a deficiency in essentials that promote better health. Even further, it can lead to osteoporosis, anemia, and other health issues.

When someone with celiac disease avoids gluten in their diet, it gives time for the intestine to heal and more efficiently absorb nutrients. This will lessen the severity and frequency of symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, and stomach pain that celiac disease sufferers are regularly afflicted with.

Why Is It So Popular?

Despite it being designed specifically for those with celiac disease and non-gluten celiac sensitivity, that hasn’t stopped this diet from gaining popularity among the general population. The article states that there were almost $1.6 billion in sales in 2015 in the gluten-free food market, with that number likely higher in the following years. Most of this revenue is due to consumers who have no medical reason to be eating these kinds of foods, and conversely, a good percentage of those who should be following this kind of diet isn’t doing so.

The main reason behind this is all marketing and word of mouth. You see it everywhere. Who doesn’t want to eat healthier? Or at least think that they are eating healthier? Honestly, there just isn’t enough research done on these kinds of things. People just see or hear a celebrity or an influential friend talk about something like this, and it just spreads.

The moral of the story is this: if you don’t have one of the conditions described in this article, there is no need for you to go gluten-free. In fact, it comes with risks like nutrient deficiency.

December 13, 2018

Simple Way to Eat Healthier

simple way to eat healthier

Time magazine is one of my favorite publications, and as I was perusing their online articles today I came across one that was of particular interest to me, considering my passion for health and wellness (which lead to the creation of this site). It talks about simple ways that you can eat healthier. Who wouldn’t want that? We all know that it is important to eat healthy to keep our bodies working and looking their best, but it is so easy today to eat unhealthy foods out of convenience.

It talks about how we are drinking less soda than we used to, which is a step in the right direction, but in general, there really hasn’t been any improvement in the American diet in quite a while. We are still consuming too many red meats, proteins, and refined grains. On top of that, a lot of the diet fads are pushing for anti-grain and low carbs, but that is depriving us of healthy fiber sources. So what do they suggest we do to eat healthier?

Easy Way to Eat Healthier

The biggest culprit in having in a bad diet these days is convenience. There are just so many things pulling us in each direction in our lives like careers, family, and a social life, that often we make unhealthy food choices out of convenience. We simply don’t have the time to make a proper grocery list and make a healthy meal at home. Restaurants are so abundant and there are tons of food delivery options these days. Unfortunately, by not getting healthy home-cooked meals, we’re often consuming way too much salt and other unhealthy additives.

What to Do Instead


The article goes on to suggest that we make a commitment to home-cooked meals. I say commitment because it means making the time to do grocery shopping and prepare a meal at home.

It may mean cutting a little bit of time from socializing or sitting in front of the television, but the benefits are worth it.

eat healthier with home-cooked meals

By making meals from scratch at home, you have complete control of what you’re putting in your body.

While it is hard to eat healthy when you go outside the house, on the flip side it is tough to eat unhealthy if you are preparing meals at home with whole food ingredients. It is stated in the article that most of the problems in our diet are that we don’t consume enough “real foods”, rather we consume a lot of processed and packaged foods.

Another advantage beyond the health benefits – you’ll save money! Think of what it costs for an average night out at a restaurant. The prices are marked up and you’ll be paying gratuity on top of that. The price of preparing a meal at home has declined over the years, and you can save even more money by being a smart shopper.

One more tip – plan ahead. Prepare multiple meals at once and have them ready for the next few days to heat up for a quick meal. Maybe set aside your Sundays to meal plan and prep for the week as best as you can, freeing up more time during the week for other necessities in life.

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