Category Archives: Nutrition

Final Results

I have been having computer problems for the last 3 weeks or so and I haven’t had consistent computer access so I haven’t been able to keep up with the blog. Regardless I did my last weigh in on Sept 8th and was at 211 pounds.  So I only lost 4 in my last week and didn’t reach my goal by 1 pound.  Oh well, still came very close and lost 29 pounds, and about 6% bodyfat.  I did really kick butt in the last week with my nutrition and exercise but it just wasn’t enough.  Once again, I am 100% positive that I would have easily reached my goal if not for the injuries.  I probably took approximately 14 days off from exercising because my injuries (left knee, both elbows, achilles tendon, and lower back) over the course of the program.

After the program was done, I took a full week off from exercise and wasn’t as strict with my diet.  My knee and elbow were still bothering me, and during the next two weeks I ran a couple of times, got a gym membership and lifted weights twice.  That’s about it.  My nutrition was mediocre at best and the  temptations of football season certainly didn’t help my waistline.

Now I have 4 weeks left until park and rec basketball starts and my goal is to generally kick some butt over the next 4 weeks.  When I weighed in at the beginning of this week I was at 220 pounds.  When I did my final weigh in I was definitely slightly dehydrated and had lowered my calories for the final 2 weeks of the program.  I probably, realistically, put on about 7 pounds in the last 3 weeks.

My goal is to get back below 210 pounds.  I also want to lift a lot of weights, increase my vertical, speed, quickness, and endurance.  With a gym membership, I will definitely put on muscle as long as I lift.  Lots of squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench presses, shoulder presses, and abdominal exercises.  I won’t be doing as much distance running, and more of my cardio workouts will be focused on sprints and plyometric exercises.  I need to play basketball at least 2X per week and include various basketball drills.  Lastly, I need to do my morning warm-up exercises and do lots of stretching and icing.  About 2 weeks before the season starts, open gyms will begin and I should be able to play basketball 3-4X before the season starts.

Phase I is complete and phase II will go from October through an alumni basketball game which is the first weekend after the new year.  My goal is to be able to dunk a basketball by then and get my bodyfat under 20%.  After that I will have playoffs for the park and rec league in early February and my goal is to win the league.  Looking forward from there I have my 20 year high school reunion this summer and I want to have my bodyfat in single digits by then.  It won’t be easy but as long as I hold myself accountable to workout hard, eat right, and keep my lifestyle in check, I should be able to reach my goals.

If you need accountability and the best information on how to exercise safely and effectively, check out our website at BodyBalanceHealthyLiving.com and check out our accountability services.  Thanks for reading and do something active today!

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BPA in Plastics

As you can tell from my previous posts, our food supply is under attack by unhealthy food additives designed to do 3 things, #1-make food taste better, #2-increase shelf life, and #3-get you addicted.  In addition to food additives, plastic containers pose a serious health threat.  This post contains more information on BPA, what it is, what it’s in, how to avoid it, and how it may effect your health.

BPA or bisphenol A is used to make plastics, and can leak into water, other beverages and foods.  It can be found in plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and plastic food containers.  In Jan. 2010 the FDA reversed its belief that BPA is safe for humans.  The FDA is especially concerned (if the FDA is concerned, you should be too) over BPA’s effects on developing fetuses, infants, and young children.  Definitely be aware of BPA if you have infants or young children.  You’ll have to look for recycling codes on the plastic products you use.   Look for three bending arrows that form a triangle around a number (1-7).  Each number represents one of the seven classes of plastics.  Types 1, 2, 4, and 5 are unlikely to contain BPA.  Types 3, 6, and 7 are most likely made with BPA which can leak into beverages and food.  You can also look for a BPA free label which is on many water bottles.

Another interesting fact is that when a hot liquid is exposed to plastic made with BPA, the amount of BPA that is leaked into the liquid is drastically increased.   So be aware when adding hot foods and beverages to plastic containers!

In closing, you should take steps to avoid products and foods that may have BPA in them, especially if you have infants or children.  Check recycling codes, try to use products with glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, and be especially cautious with hot foods and liquids.

Other Unhealthy Stuff-food additives part #2

In part 1 we covered artificial sweeteners, HFCS, Trans-fats, and MSG.  In part #2 we will continue on through the world of unhealthy food additives.  Once again, the only way to tell if this stuff is in the foods you and your family eat is to read ingredients lists.  Unfortunately there is no way around this, and oftentimes you may not even be able to find a specific product that doesn’t have unhealthy food additives in it.  For example, you may not be able to find pickles that don’t have nasty preservatives in it in a regular grocery store.  You may need to go to a health food store or to the organics isle at your grocery store.  Here is some other unhealthy stuff to look out for.

Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite

Nitrates are used as preservatives and for meat coloring (it makes brown meat turn red).  If you’re a vegetarian, you won’t have to worry about these chemicals, but if you eat meat, watch out for them.  Nitrates were almost banned in the 70’s so they’re definitely chemicals you will want to avoid.  Look for nitrate free meats, and read ingredients lists to see if the meat in the products you buy have nitrates.

BHA and BHT

These are preservatives that are used in a variety of products such as chewing gum, potato chips and vegetable oils.  As is the norm, read the ingredients list to see if BHA and BHT are used.  These chemicals have been found to adversely affect the brain and contribute to obesity so steer clear.

Food Dyes

You’ll have to go to the ingredients list to see if a food product has Dye’s in it.  Some dye’s that are worse than others, regardless, they are usually artificial, and you should generally avoid them.  Dye’s will be listed with a color and a #, for example yellow #6 and blue #3.  Keep a look out for them in the products you buy for yourself and your family.

Sodium Benzoate

This substance is often found in soft drinks and other beverages.  It is also used as a preservative in many processed foods.   By itself sodium benzoate appears to be safe, but when vitamin c is added to the equation the mixture turns into benzene which is a carcinogen.  Be on the lookout for Sodium benzoate in the ingredients list, and then check the Vit C % at the bottom of the nutritional label.  If the product has both, definitely avoid it.

Potassium Bromate

It is found in breads and is used to increase the volume of flour.  Potassium Bromate is linked with cancer in lab animals so it should be avoided.  Look for potassium bromate in the ingredients list of any bread products you consume.

That is the vast majority of unhealthy food additives that are packed into processed foods.  There are certainly others, over 14000 actually.  The best plan of attack is to avoid processed foods whenever possible.  When you do buy processed foods, read labels, and look for products that don’t have a ton of ingredients.  No you don’t have to eliminate all processed foods (lets be realistic), but eating more whole, organic foods will greatly benefit your health and energy levels.  Stay tuned, the next post will go over BPA in plastics and what you need to do to avoid this dangerous chemical.  Remember, Body Balance Healthy Living is dedicated to helping people lead a healthier lifestyle, and if you’d like to learn more, simply contact us.  We have a variety of different services and programs to fit into your busy lifestyle.  Exercise, eat healthy, and manage stress to live a better, healthier life.  Thanks for reading and do something active today!

 

 

 

Other unhealthy stuff: food additives part #1

Food Additives

There are over 14000 chemicals that are added to the American food supply.  That’s a lot!  Additives are substances (both natural and artificial) that are added to foods to preserve flavor, increase shelf life, and enhance taste and appearance.   Food additives have been used for centuries.  Examples are pickling foods in vinegar, salting, and adding sugar.  Additives definitely have their place (safe forms of food preservation are vital to the distribution of the worlds food supply), and some forms can enhance the healthiness of foods.  Examples are fermenting as in sauerkraut, adding vitamins and minerals, adding fiber, and the recent practice of adding probiotics.  Unfortunately the dollar rules and the cheapest and most available forms of preservation and flavor enhancement are often used.  Some additives and preservatives have been banned, but dangerous ones are still on the market.  Here is a list of the food additives you should limit if not eliminate from your diet.

Artificial Sweeteners

According to the Food Matters website (I highly recommend you watch the documentary Food Matters, definitely worth your time!) artificial sweeteners are the #1 food additive to avoid.  “Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal) is not your friend, it’s a neurotoxin, and is carcinogenic.  It is responsible for more reports of adverse reactions than all other food additives combined”.  There is also a laundry list of diseases and ailments linked to this artificial sweetener.  These are serious concerns, so limiting, and preferably eliminating aspartame from you and your families’ diet is highly recommended.  Examples of foods with aspartame are: diet and sugar free colas, other diet or sugar free beverages, sweets, cereals, pudding, and gelatin products.  When you are reading labels keep your eye out for aspartame.  If you are a diet cola drinker make the effort try to find healthier alternatives.  Your long term health depends on it.  Recommendations are: tea (there are many, many different kinds of tea’s, the best and cheapest way to go is to brew your own, think of the $ you’ll save by not buying your favorite diet cola or beverage with aspartame!) water, coffee, mineral water, and naturally sweetened drinks (we suggest you try to find beverages that are lightly sweetened without high fructose corn syrup, which is up next!).

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) aka Corn Sugar

HFCS is in EVERYTHING!  Go ahead, take a look, read some labels, you will be astounded.  If it’s processed in any way, it’s likely to have HFCS.  It’s absolutely startling when you realize that HFCS is “the #1 source of calories in America” (Food Matters website).  These are empty calories folks, and these empty calories end up getting stored as fat.  HFCS and all added sugars are unquestionably the main culprit in our obesity epidemic.  They don’t fill you up and don’t provide any nutrients.  Furthermore, HFCS is linked with diabetes, heart disease (two of the most prevalent diseases in America), and high LDL levels.  Look for products that aren’t sweetened with HFCS and avoid products with large amounts of added sugars.

Trans-Fats

Just as HFCS and added sugars are linked, so is animal saturated fat and trans-fats.  They’re bad for your health and you should limit or eliminate your consumption of these fats.  No more than 10% of your calories should come from animal saturated fats, if you choose to consume them at all.  Trans-fats are found in fried foods, and in processed foods that use margarine and partially hydrogenated oils.  Because trans-fats are dangerous to your health, their amounts must be listed on nutritional labels under fat.  However, as long as there is less than .5 grams of Trans fat (which would equal about 4.5 calories), it can be listed as 0 grams.  You must go to the ingredients list and if you see: partially hydrogenated, it’s got Trans fats in it.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is added to foods to enhance flavor and appearance.  You’ll have to look at the ingredients list again to find out if it’s in a food.  It’s in quite a bit of stuff, such as chips, Chinese foods (ask if they use it at your favorite Chinese restaurant), soups, frozen dinners, and luncheon meats.  MSG is linked with depression, fatigue, obesity, and headaches according to the Food Matters website.

This is part #1 of a two part series on food additives.  There are more to avoid so stay tuned!

Other Unhealthy Stuff That’s in Your Food

So the previous 3  posts I discussed how the food industry crams our foods full of the unhealthy S’s, sugar, sodium, and saturated and trans fats.  They do this because our bodies crave these substances, and they taste good.  The better their foods taste, the more they sell.  Unfortunately the food industry is too good at selling and it has lead to an obesity epidemic.  2/3 of adults are overweight in America!

The unhealthy s’s are just a part of the overall food and nutrition problem we have in this country.  Not only are our foods packed to the gills with sodium, sugar, and saturated/trans fats, but they also use artificial colors to make food look better, preservatives to increase shelf life, artificial sweeteners to make a food or beverage sweet without calories, and artificial flavors to, once again, make food taste better.  All in the pursuit of making as much money as possible off of the unhealthy foods they sell.

To find out if the groceries and other food products you buy have unhealthy stuff in them you’ll have to read ingredients lists.  It can be a sobering experience when you get in the habit of reading ingredients lists, especially if you know what to look for.  You’d be surprised at how many products that are advertised as healthy have crap (additives, preservatives, and other artificial stuff) in them.  There is a mounting amount of research on many of these food additives and how they affect your weight.  Many of them contribute to obesity in one of three ways: #1-They’re addictive, which is why you have such strong cravings for unhealthy, junk foods.  #2-they block feelings of satiety/fullness so you’ll eat more, and #3-they change how your body uses calories in a negative way (they make your body store more calories as fat).

I challenge you to begin looking at ingredients lists.  Look at the stuff you and your family eat.  Are you eating real food or is it just a highly processed semblance of something that once was food?  Stay tuned for my next post that will name some of the stuff to watch out for, and why, when reading labels.  In the meantime, take a look at a few ingredients lists and try to eat more whole foods, especially fruits and veggies!

 

The Unhealthy S #3-Saturated and Trans Fats

Why does fat get such a bad rap?  There are some legitimate reasons why, but fat is not bad in and of itself, your body needs fat.  Fat provides the body’s largest stores of potential energy, fat cushions and protects our vital organs, and fat acts as insulation against the thermal stress of a cold environment.  As usual, the problems arise when you eat too much fat.  Fat legitimately gets a bad rap for two main reasons.  First, fat is very calorie dense.  One gram of a carbohydrate or protein only equals about 4 calories, while one gram of fat equals 9 calories (more than double).  Fat calories can add up quick, so be aware.  The second reason fat gets a bad rap is two-fold: animal saturated fats, and trans-fats.

It is recommended that no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake be from saturated fat.  A double cheeseburger at McDonalds has 11 grams of saturated fat or 99 calories.  Eat two double cheeseburgers to bring in all the saturated fat you should get in a day (if on a 2000 calorie diet).  It is important to remember that not all saturated fat is bad.  Bad saturated fats are in animal proteins such as beef, chicken, pork, and dairy products.  You can remove much of the saturated fat in animal products by eating lean meats, and manually removing the fat (paper towels work great!) when cooking because saturated fat is liquefied when cooking.  Some plants contain saturated fat, examples are coconuts (including coconut oil, coconut milk), palm oil, and cocoa butter.  It is generally believed that the saturated fats in plant sources is not bad for you so don’t worry about cutting out coconuts and products with coconuts, they’re perfectly healthy and good for you in moderation.

Trans fats are, under all circumstances, bad for you and your health.  You truly should look to totally eliminate trans fats from your diet.  I rarely say that something should be totally eliminated from your diet, but trans fats are that bad for you, even in small amounts.  Trans-fats are formed during the manufacture of margarine and other vegetable shortenings.  Trans-fats are also in fried foods, and many commercial baked goods.  Trans-fats and excess animal saturated fats have similar effects on the body, mainly an increase in artery clogging LDL cholesterol.  There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (clogs arteries) which is bad cholesterol, and HDL which is good cholesterol (cleans arteries).  In addition to increasing LDL’s trans-fats also decrease HDL levels, so it has a double whammy effect if you will.  It is now required for foods to list the amount of trans-fats in them, but if a food doesn’t have at least a half a gram of trans-fat it can be listed as 0 grams of trans fat.  Check the ingredients of the foods you eat for the term hydrogenated.  If you see the word hydrogenated, the product contains trans-fats.

In conclusion, look to totally eliminate trans fats from your diet.  At very least try to drastically reduce the amount of trans fat in your diet by reading labels, using butter instead of margarine, and steering clear of fried foods.  Limit (but don’t eliminate) your consumption of saturated fats, and don’t worry about the saturated fats in plant products such as coconuts.

The Unhealty S #2-Sugar

Ahhh sugar, it comes in many forms.  From high fructose corn syrup (aka corn sugar) to table sugar to evaporated cane juice, when you eat too much sugar it’s hard on the body.  Just look at the number of people that have diabetes in America, about 26 million according to the 2011 Diabetes Fact sheet (go to www.diabetes.org for more info).  Furthermore, there are 79 million people that have pre-diabetes which means that they have a high risk of developing diabetes.  These are scary numbers that are projected to go up in the future and can be linked to diets high in sugar.  High sugar consumption can also be linked to high blood pressure.  Similar to excess sodium, when too much sugar is consumed it stays in the blood which thickens it and makes the heart work harder.  Consuming too much sugar is hard on the liver, and can contribute to high cholesterol.  This is because sugar is easily converted to fat, which can raise cholesterol levels.  Lastly, when you overload on sugar it blunts the effects of insulin which is the body’s main regulator of metabolism.  This is called insulin resistance.  When your body is resistant to the effects of insulin even more sugar stays in the blood.  Insulin’s main function is to remove sugar from the blood and shuttle it to cells to be used for energy, stored as glycogen or fat.  So….if you consume too much sugar it stays in the blood, as discussed.  Then, if you’re consistently consuming too much sugar, the body becomes more resistant to insulin’s effects and even more sugar stays in the blood.  Not good!  Is it starting to make sense why there are 26 million people with diabetes, and 79 million people that are at risk for diabetes?

Added sugars in various foods, drinks, and products are the main problem.  Added sugar has no nutritional value other than adding calories.  Added sugar is the ultimate form of empty calories.  Public enemy #1 is soda pop.  A 12 ounce can of soda has 39 grams of added sugar!  This is more added sugar than you should consume in a day!  The American Heart Association states: “soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugars in the American Diet”.  Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., associate provost and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington states: “High intake of added sugars, as opposed to naturally occurring sugars, is implicated in the rise in obesity.  It’s also associated with increased risks for high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, other risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and inflammation (a marker for heart disease)”.  Hopefully I’m getting through to you and you realize the importance of cutting out added sugars.

So how much is too much?  First, don’t worry about naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, and dairy (however be careful with fruit juices because they can be high in calories and are low in fiber).  According to the American Heart Association you should limit added sugars to no more than 25 grams, or 100 calories per day for women, and 37 grams, or 150 calories per day for men.  That’s really not much when you think about it, only 5-6 grams of added sugar per meal.  The only way it’s ok for your health to consume more sugar is if you’re active.  When you workout the body relies primarily on sugar/carbs for energy.  There you have it, Unhealthy S #2-sugar.