Shari Duncan

Weight Loss

Eat MORE Protein: For Fat Loss AND Muscle Gains.
Shari

by on May.26, 2012, under General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding, Weight Loss, Whey Protein Recipes

The human body is built and rebuilt everyday from and by proteins.

Protein plays an important role in any fat loss program. To lose weight you must restrict the number of calories you consume. However, when you cut down on what you eat, the body starts using muscle protein as energy – so it’s important to get enough protein from your diet to cover these losses. Among other important functions, protein is essential for

Eat protein with every meal.

stimulating cell growth and helping to repair body tissue.  Foods rich in protein help the body build lean muscle and can be converted into glucose for energy.  Because this method of

energy is more time consuming for the body, the body burns more calories digesting proteins, and does not convert as readily to stored fat. (As with food rich in carbohydrates and

fats)  This is one reason why high protein, low carbohydrate diets are popular for those attempting to lose weight and build muscle. And protein does a better job of filling  you up and keeping you full longer than carbohydrates or fats.

Any type of exercise or physical training increases the body’s need for additional protein which is why athletes and those with very active lifestyles generally consume a higher daily intake of protein. Since protein is the building blocks for new muscle tissue, it is a staple for anybody (or any body builder) wanting to pack on a little (or a lot) of mass. Training alone will not make the body grow.  And a lack of quality protein will result in a loss of muscle tissue and tone, as well as reduction in the function of your immune system, a slower recovery rate, and a lack of energy. If you fail to get enough protein on a daily basis, you’ll quickly lose strength and slow down your metabolic rate.  The body will also breakdown

muscle and conserve protein for basic, life sustaining needs and may not perform other duties such as healing and immune function if protein intake is not sufficient.

Protein Shakes make an excellent snack or meal replacement.

Proteins are found in all varieties of foods; however, some forms of protein are more healthful and beneficial than others. Choose foods that are complete proteins and do not contain high saturated fats or sugars. Fish and poultry are excellent choices of high protein foods, as are foods in the legume family including: beans and lentils.  Eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt (and other dairy); as well as various nuts and seeds are also protein rich choices.  Red meats contain a great deal of protein, but take care to choose lean cuts of meat, avoiding the extra fat.

A Whey protein shake makes for excellent snack  or a meal replacement for those trying to lose weight. Most protein powders mix easily with milk, water or juice and will quickly add 25 or more grams of protein a day. And shakes are easy to make and very portable, making it simple to get your protein on the go.   Here is a “recipe” that combines 3 of my all time favorite flavors:  Chocolate, Coffee, and Coconut!

Coco- Mocha Protein Shake

1 scoop chocolate whey protein

1 tsp instant coffee granules

~8 oz of coconut water (or unsweetened coconut milk)

ice (3-4 cubes)

Blend all ingredients for 1-2 minutes in a personal blender :  AWESOME!!

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WANTED: Healthy Food Fast.
Shari

by on Jan.15, 2012, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Healthy Snacks, Weight Loss

Healthy eating doesn’t really take any more time than unhealthy eating; it just requires a little more foresight.

Everybody has a story about when or why they gained weight, or why they have no time to eat right. When you’re constantly on the go, it can be hard to find time to eat, let alone eat healthy. So you turn to quick-fix foods that are high in fat, sugar, sodium, or calories, and low in essential nutrients.  But eating is what gives us the energy to do everything on our to-do list.  And when we are busy and “forget” to eat, or hurriedly rush into the nearest convenience store or hit up a vending machine for chips and a coke, we are not fueling bodies.  So how do you find balance?

The solution isn’t to find more time, but to work with the schedule you do have. Instead of  waiting in the fast food drive in line,  use this time to visit the grocery store, and pick up prepared salads, sandwiches, and meats, pre-washed and cut fruits and vegetables, canned soups, low-calorie and low-fat frozen meals, yogurt, string cheese, and cereals.

To lose weight, and keep it off  you must eliminate foods that aren’t healthy and eat foods that are good for your body. There is a strong correlation between how and what we eat and being well.  People hold on to the illusion that there is no time to cook, no time to shop, and no healthy options for “fast food” meals.  But just because there is no time to always sit down and eat, does not mean you have to eat poorly. What it boils down to is being prepared and carrying healthy snacks with you.

Healthy Fast Food...or is it Healthy Food Fast?

Here are some healthy tips to try:

  • Cook a bigger batch of food on the weekends, and refrigerate or freeze for weekday lunches or dinners.
  • Set an alarm for mealtimes. Even if you’re buried in work, don’t skip meals; designate a time to eat.
  • Try not to do anything else while eating. Mindless consumption prevents the enjoyment of food. When that happens, people tend to eat more and eat unhealthy alternatives.
  • Put fresh or dried fruit where you can see it to remind yourself of your goal to eat healthy. Bananas, grapes, and apples make handy and nutritious snack items.
  • If at a restaurant, turn down the supersize option, and choose baked and broiled instead of fried.
  • Order the lunch portion at dinnertime, and hold off on fatty condiments.
  • Keep handy snacks around, such as fruits, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, trail mix, yogurt, cottage cheese, carrot or celery sticks, low sugar cereals,  and wraps

Eggs are by far the fastest cooking protein you can get. Scrambling 2-3 eggs takes about 2 minutes. Sauté some spinach with a little garlic, or add some diced ham and cheese, and you have a healthy homemade meal in less than 10 minutes. This works for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Hard boil eggs take about 10 minutes. Boil extra, peel and place in Ziplocs and carry

Protein Smoothies...Quick, Versatile and Portable Meal in a Minute

with you for a quick protein snack or for breakfast on the run the next day.

Fresh fruit protein smoothies are also quick, nutritious and satisfying. They are so versatile… almost anything goes. And they travel well. 1 scoop of  Whey adds approximately 25-30grms of muscle building protein for satiability.  I recommend buying one of the many personal blenders on the market like the Ninja or Magic Bullet.  Mix and go, in under 2 minutes.

Planning healthy meals and snacks ahead of time is especially crucial for people with junk food cravings.  If you must have junk food, give the healthier alternatives, such as baked chips, dried fruit, or sugar-free Popsicles a try. Look for low-calorie, low-sugar, and low-fat options.

In place of chips, try light popcorn, whole grain crackers, carrot sticks, red peppers, and rice cakes.

For the sweet tooth, sugar-free pudding, sugar-free Jell-O, fruit bars, baked apple, fresh fruits, and dried fruits are options.

If you put your mind to it, you can come up with your own ideas for eating well with little cooking. It’s just a matter of wanting to find solutions.

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Feed your Metabolism with Food.
Shari

by on Jan.01, 2012, under General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

All Calories are not created equal.

Contrary to what you may have been told, the body does not burn and store 500 calories of fruit and veggies the way it does 500 calories of refined, processed or fatty foods. Some foods take more work to eat–and therefore burn more calories while you’re digesting them.  Just the act of chewing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean cuts of meat can increase your calorie burn by up to 30%! On the contrary, many other foods lack certain nutrients and minerals that have been proven to stimulate the metabolism.  The higher your metabolism level, the faster you will lose weight, provided you eat healthy food and pursue an active lifestyle.

Depriving your body of fuel is a surefire way to slow it down.

When you slash calories, the calories burned by eating are greatly diminished and so is your metabolic rate. Restricting calories also signals the body that there is no food available, so it tries to conserve stores of carbohydrate and fat by slowing down its metabolism. The best way to keep your metabolism revved is to eat regular meals with snacks when necessary to give your body a constant supply of healthy fuel.

Nutritional Superstars that Burn Calories

There are proven nutritional superstars that can fuel your metabolic fire and help you to burn more calories as you kick your diet into high gear. These foods/beverages act similar to the way a thermogenic or a cardio session in how they affect the body. They can ramp up your metabolism, and in essence, assist you in burning fat.   When you wake up in the morning it is especially important to “break the fast” (and a sleepy metabolism) by eating breakfast. When you eat breakfast you start burning calories earlier, thereby burning more total calories through the day. And keep your metabolism pumping all day long, by eating several small meals through the day.  You will tend to eat less at one sitting, which puts less burden on your digestive system and lets it work more efficiently.

So what are you waiting for?   Let’s get your metabolism moving!

Food does some amazing things for our bodies, including fight disease.  Try adding some of these metabolism friendly foods to your diet each day:

1. Oatmeal If you’re looking to jumpstart your metabolism, start your morning off with a bowl of oatmeal. This super food is rich in fat soluble fiber, which requires a lot of calories to break down. Eating oatmeal can also help decrease your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

2. Grapefruit Studies indicate that eating grapefruit can reduce insulin levels. Lower insulin levels after meals can help your body process food more quickly and efficiently. This means that you burn more calories and store less fat.

3. Hot Peppers Adding some spice to your food can speed up your weight loss. Hot peppers, like jalapenos, contain a chemical called capsaicin, which gives these veggies their heat and causes a spike in your metabolism. This chemical also keeps the calorie burn going hours after you’ve finished your meal.

4. Lean Proteins The protein found in chicken, turkey and other lean meats takes a great deal of energy to break down. Therefore, your body burns a lot of calories during the digestive process. Protein is also an essential ingredient in building lean muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat.

5. Salmon and Tuna High levels of the hormone leptin have been linked to slower metabolisms and weight gain. A good way to lower leptin levels is to increase your intake of fish. The oil found in fish like salmon and tuna has been shown to cut leptin levels and help your body process foods more effectively.

Burn more calories with Green Tea

6. Low-fat Yogurt Low-fat yogurt is one of the best foods to eat if you’re trying to lose weight and boost your metabolism. Yogurt is full of calcium and protein. It gives you the energy your body needs to keep going all day and helps you build lean muscle mass. Yogurt can also help regulate your digestive tract.

7. Green Tea The caffeine found in green tea accelerates your heart rate and speeds up your metabolism. The tea also contains a chemical, known as EGCG, that stimulates the nervous system and helps you to burn calories at a faster rate.

8. Broccoli Broccoli is rich in both calcium and vitamin C. These two vitamins work together to help you burn calories faster and more effectively. Calcium activates your metabolism, while vitamin C helps you absorb more calcium.

9. Almonds Almonds may be high in calories, but they are also jam packed with essential fatty acids which are great metabolism boosters. And the healthy fat in almonds has been proven to help in lowering cholesterol.

10.  Apples,Pears, Berries:  These fruits are low calorie, high fiber, and rich in vitamins and antioxidants.  Your body must burn calories to break down. Since they help you stay full for longer, you‘ll eat less.  And they are naturally sweet!

Spices can fire up your metabolism too!

In addition to some of the suggestions listed, certain spices such as chiles, cinnamon, curry and ginger fire up your central nervous system and can boost your metabolism by as much as 12%.

Metabolism-Slowing Pitfalls

Just as there are natural ways to boost your metabolism, there are also natural ways you slow  your metabolism — Here are a few:

  • Skipping meals–always eat breakfast!
  • Sleeping less than 6 hours a night.
  • Eating empty calorie foods–exchange them for low carb, low-fat, high nutrition foods.
  • Choosing processed foods–exchange them for whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

And don’t overlook the power of water!

Researchers in Germany found that subjects increased their metabolic rates (the rate at which calories are burned) by up to 30 percent after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water. Water is also a natural appetite suppressant that banishes bloat as it flushes out sodium and toxins. Drinking enough water will also help keep you from mistaking thirst for hunger. It is necessary to drink water at frequent intervals, because it is water that helps in digestion of food. So drink up! Make sure that you are starting your day with a big big glass of water and drink all day long.  It’s hard to get too much water.

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Fresh Start Solutions: A Healthy New You for the New Year
Shari

by on Dec.26, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

Quick fixes don’t exist for long-term health. Slow and steady wins this race.

We are creatures of habit. To make health-conscious changes, the changes have to fit in with our habits.

Have you ever changed, or tried to change, the way you eat? While you may want to change your diet, it can feel too hard and time-consuming. And when you are busy with work, family…life, there is just no time for added complication, right?  But, it’s the New Year and you are making a promise to start (and stay) on a strict diet to lose weight, but are you just setting yourself up for more frustration and failure…again?

Shifting to healthier eating habits can seem complex.   Nutritionists tell you, “Eat more vegetables; reduce your saturated fat; watch the sugar; buy organic; avoid trans fats; get enough calcium; eat low carb; high protein…”   On and on it goes.

Little wonder most people put off changing their diet…or opt for trendy rapid weight loss plans.

You already know that commitment is crucial for success; so you consider one of the popular commercial diet programs that promise quick and easy results. This craving for instant gratification is why people gravitate to fad diets. Unfortunately, (and statistically); these plans don’t let you MAINTAIN weight loss.  Once you “go off” the diet, and return to old ways, the bad habits return along with weight gain and associated health issues.

But no need to feel discouraged.  Small, incremental changes are the key to success. Health altering changes simply involve re-education to meal options that promote consistency while keeping your body filled with nutrition.    It is more a mind-shift and a behavior change, not a diet.  Learn to change the behavior you are used to and focus on building habits of living that improve your life.

Shift your attitude to viewing food as a fuel to sustain life and not something that controls your quality of life. We all have different body compositions, likes and dislikes, and finding success in making healthy lifestyle changes is a process that will take a little time and experimentation. Start with small steps and before you know it, the small changes add up to become part of a healthy new lifestyle.  For example, when you wake up tomorrow instead of skipping breakfast, eat a small meal consisting of healthy carbs, protein and a little fat. Do this for a week. Once this works for you with little effort, it will be time to make another small change.

Eat Real Food (and less of it)

No matter what diet you follow, make sure most of it comes from food without bar codes. Whole foods, with minimal processing and preservatives are best. Concentrate most of your shopping time around the perimeter of your grocery store.  Chances are the fresh produce, whole grain breads, meat and seafood departments, and dairy cases are around the perimeter of the store. Then dip into the isles for staples, like oatmeal and olive oil.  And you don’t need nearly as many calories as you think you do. Most women will lose weight (or maintain it) on 1,250-1,600 calories and most men between 1,500-2,000. Cutting calories by about one-third is also one of the best strategies for living longer.

Suggestions for the New Year / and a Healthier New You:

  • eat more fruit and vegetables
  • have a better awareness of your eating patterns and how to make your diet work for you
  • try some different foods and increase the variety in your diet
  • be on the way to controlling hunger and the portions you eat
  • work out some strategies for eating well when you’re busy

Follow these eight rules of eating, and you’ll more easily manage your weight and improve your nutrition From YOU: The Owners Manual by RealAge experts Micael F. Roizen, MD and Mehmet C. Oz, MD.

http://www.realage.com/food/8-ways-to-improve-nutrition

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Fitness Plateaus: How to get your body out of cruise control.
Shari

by on Nov.13, 2011, under Fitness, Motivation, Weight Loss

“… There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”  Bruce Lee

Workout plateaus are nothing new.  You are hitting the gym routinely. You feel more energetic and look better, but  suddenly now you‘re not feeling the burn anymore.  The scale stops moving and your body becomes immune to the stress of exercise.  You have hit the wall.  Fortunately, it usually only takes a few changes to overcome a workout plateau.

The key to overcoming plateaus is change.

Changing up just a few things can make a big difference.  Our bodies are highly adaptive and are constantly working to maintain homeostasis—so the workout that was so challenging and making you sweat and burn calories 6 weeks ago is no longer.   Changing your approach or routine will help you blast through frustrating plateaus. Remember the body acclimates to repeated challenges, making it necessary to make changes every four to six weeks.

A few suggestions from Web MD:

Pump it up. Instead of 40 minutes on the treadmill, pump up your metabolism with high-intensity intervals. Do four minutes of any cardiovascular exercise as hard as you can; then two minutes of strength-building exercises (using free weights or weight machines). Repeat this “harder/easier” cycle five times. (The magic cardio-to-weights ratio is 2-to-1.) Your

Change workout activities, intensity and break through plateaus.

post-exercise metabolic rate and fat loss will increase much more than if you exercised 40 minutes steadily at an average pace, and you’re also building lean muscle mass.

Shake it up. Walking doesn’t do much to help you lose weight, even though it’s good for your health. Instead, mix up your cardio intervals by throwing in new things every week: the elliptical machine, the recumbent bike, the rowing machine, the stair climber. Keep your body guessing.

Start it up. The one time when simple aerobic exercise can really boost your metabolism is in the morning. When you first wake up, your liver has burned through your carbohydrate stores, and light aerobic exercise can jump-start the fat-burning enzymes in your liver. So start your day with a brisk walk.

Count it up. You might think you’re not snacking between meals, but it’s easy to miss the bites of your kids’ leftovers you take here and there. For a few days, record everything you eat. Make sure the extra food you take in is accounted for — either by cutting out your dinner roll or by doing an extra high-intensity interval.

——

*Varying your activities or cross-training is important to avoid or break through plateaus.  But while changing up type of activity is important, it is also important to implement variations in intensity.

Specify different days of the week as low, moderate or high-intensity days.  Grab a new partner to work out with. Get out of the gym and move your workout outdoors.  The mix-up of activities will also keep your workouts enjoyable, thus helping with motivation as you break through the wall.

And if you’re not strength training, now is the time to start.  A pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat.  And you want to replace fat with muscle to increase the amount of calories you burn a day.  If you are already lifting and have hit your plateau: You MUST step up the intensity of your strength training program. Bump up the frequency of your training from twice to three times a week. Increase the amount of weight you’re lifting to challenge your muscles even more or try a more challenging exercises.

But plateaus do not necessarily mean you need to work harder or spend more days at the gym. It may be time for an active rest.  Proper rest and recovery from working out is so important, it may just be the deciding force behind results and no results.  Consider taking a few days, to up to a week off from structured exercise, and instead take leisurely walks, play ball with the kids, or take a yoga class. Active rest rejuvenates the mind and the body and allows for overworked muscles to rest and rebuild. You will return to exercise stronger and ready for new challenges.

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Wake up and…. EAT!
Shari

by on Sep.18, 2011, under General Nutrition, Weight Loss

You’ve heard it since you were a kid:  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  And if shedding excess weight (and keeping it off) is among your health goals, a healthy breakfast holds one key to success.

You may think that skipping breakfast is an easy way to cut calories when trying to lose weight. A growing body of research, however, indicates that eating breakfast is a successful strategy for lasting weight loss. Data collected by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) showed that over 90% of successful dieters usually eat breakfast. These are people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for a long period of time.

    Reduced hunger.

  • Eating breakfast can reduce hunger later in the day, which makes it easier to avoid overeating. . Some studies have found that those who skip breakfast end up eating more calories through the course of the day compared to those who don’t – and weight gain is the result.1This may be due to increased feelings of hunger which can lead to overeating, particularly higher-fat foods later in the day. Furthermore, people who eat breakfast regularly have better vitamin and mineral status and eat fewer calories from fat.   In addition, the prolonged fasting that occurs when you skip breakfast can increase your body’s insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. In fact, skipping breakfast actually increases your risk of obesity.

    Healthy choices.

  • Eating breakfast may get you on track to make healthy choices all day. When you eat breakfast, you tend to eat a healthier overall diet, one that is more nutritious and lower in fat. When you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to skip fruits and vegetables the rest of the day, too.  Choose foods that you enjoy and that fit your

    What's for Breakfast? You need to eat to lose.

    dietary weight loss goals. Whole grains, fruits, low fat dairy (yogurt) and lean protein, such as eggs.  Proteins provide a feeling of satiety which means you will feel full longer while actually eating less.  High-fiber complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals (like oatmeal) will keep you satisfied. Fiber also increases that sensation of fullness.  Look for breakfast cereals that provide at least 6 grams of fiber per serving, suggests Harvard Men’s Health Watch, but make sure your choice is low in sugar (less than 10 grams per serving). If you are not keen on eggs or cereal, try a high protein smoothie, made with fruit, low fat milk and protein powder, spread some almond or peanut butter on whole grain toast, or melt some low fat cheese on a whole grain english muffin.

    More energy.

  • Eating breakfast gives you energy, increasing your physical activity, which boosts your metabolism and may in turn actually assist in burning more calories.  Consider this: If you don’t eat  in the morning, you are literally forcing yourself into running on empty. If the last time you ate was 8 p.m. last night and you don’t eat lunch until noon today, that’s sixteen hours of no refueling!  Your body is screaming out for fuel so it stands to reason that skipping breakfast is associated with decreased physical activity.  A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply your muscles with immediate energy.   Increased energy levels will allow you to be more active during the day and give you more chances to burn calories. In turn, you are more likely to go for a run or hit the gym if you don’t feel exhausted all day.

Bottom Line:

Breakfast as part of a daily routine is a key strategy to use as part of a lifestyle management approach for long-term, sustainable weight loss. So, if you’re trying to control your weight and you frequently skip breakfast… you may wish to reconsider.

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/whats-for-breakfast-10-morning-meal-ideas-that-can-help-you-lose-weight.html

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Perfect Post Workout Pair… Protein + Coconut Water
Shari

by on Apr.08, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Healthy Snacks, Supplementation, Weight Loss, Whey Protein Recipes

Pump up your post-workout protein shake with coconut water!

* When it comes to recovering after an intense workout, coconut water may be the perfect liquid to add to your favorite protein powder. Derived from young green coconuts before they mature, this natural beverage is the water found inside young coconuts and is not to be confused with creamier coconut milk.  Natural coconut water contains five essential electrolytes and more potassium than a banana. Contrary to popular beliefs coconuts do not make you fat. They are loaded with medium chain fatty acids that are easy to digest and therefore your body doesn’t store it as fat.

Coconut Water Contains More Potassium than a Banana
One of coconut water’s greatest nutrition facts may be its enormous amount of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that promotes healthy kidney, heart, and overall cellular function.

Most often, potassium is associated with bananas, which contain about 450 mg of potassium per serving. However, a serving of coconut water offers your body a whopping 650 mg of potassium.

What’s more, it has no added sugar, fat or cholesterol.

PERFECT Post workout Pair: Protein + Coconut water.

All natural coconut water provides carbohydrates and electrolytes, which are both critical for optimal recovery.  In order to replenish, a lot of people turn to sports drinks or electrolyte-enhanced water.  However, sports drinks contain alot of unnecessary  sugars and calories, which coconut water naturally avoids.  It is also fat free, with a taste that is nutty and naturally sweet and a great thirst quencher.  In addition to aiding in hydration, incredibly healthy coconut water contains amazing anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that can help to remove toxins from the body.

Adding coconut water to protein powders such as soy, whey or rice makes a refreshing and nutrient-dense post workout drink. Its high potassium also helps regulate blood pressure, heart function and many other health benefits.

REFUEL YOUR BODY:

For optimal nutrient absorption, consume your post work out shake within 30-45 minutes after training. Mix coconut water with vanilla (or chocolate) flavored protein powder for a post-training meal to feed your muscles and replenish the electrolytes lost during strenuous exercise.

Look for it at your local grocery or health-food store.

“Almond Joy” PWO Meal.

  • 2 scoops ViSalus Nutrition Shake Mix
  • 1 Chocolate cardio-care Flavor Mix in (or 1 Tsp baking cocoa)
  • 6-8 Oz Natural Coconut Water
  • 4 Oz  Unsweetened Almond Milk

    Adds "tropical twist" to Protein Smoothies

  • 6 almonds
  • Ice.
  • Blend well  in personal blender ( I use a magic bullet) for 30-45 seconds.

TROPICAL BERRY SMOOTHIE:

  • 2 scoops ViSalus Nutrition Shake Mix
  • 4 -6 oz Coconut Water
  • 4 oz Low Sugar Orange Juice
  • 1/2 container Pineapple-Coconut Flavor Yogurt (Dannon Light n Fit)
  • 3-4 Frozen Strawberries, Mango or any other Fruit of choice.

Blend well.  ENJOY!

To Learn more about Visalus health and nutrition products:

http://sharipronatural.bodybyvi.com/


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See Less, Eat Less. Portion Distortion
Shari

by on Mar.27, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Motivation, Weight Loss

One of the most important pieces of information in a nutrition label is the serving size.

There is a difference between “a portion” and “a serving”. A serving is a standard or measure on how much food to eat and has been chosen by the manufacturer to describe the nutritional value of that food. For example 1 cup of milk, or a half a cup of oats. A portion is the amount of food someone CHOOSES to put on their plate and eat. Be mindful of portion sizes, for example 1 cup of oatmeal is actually considered 2 servings.

Buyers beware! Packaging can be misleading.  Many foods that come as a single portion actually contain  multiple servings. The Nutrition fact label on packaged foods—on the backs of cans, sides of boxes, etc. — also informs you of the number of servings in the container.  We may look at the calories but don’t notice the stated serving size. This means we may be consuming more calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc.

For example, look at the label of a 20-ounce soda (typically consumed as one portion), and you’ll see that it has 2.5 servings in it.  So if you choose to drink the whole bottle of Pepsi, you are consuming 250 calories and a whopping 69 grams of sugar!  A 3-ounce bag of chips—which some would consider a single portion—is actually 3 servings.

Buyer Beware: This is 2 1/2 servings & contains 69gms of sugar!

Another example of portion distortion is the bagel.   A typical bagel used to be 2 to 3 ounces, or about 200 calories. Today one bagel is 5 to 6 ounces, which can be well over 400 calories, depending on the type. (This is without any “schmear” on top!)   That same 5- ounce bagel that you might enjoy for breakfast is the equivalent of 5 pieces of bread and comprises the five servings of breads/grains that someone should eat for the entire day.

We live in a world of all you can eat buffets and “supersized” convenience foods. And when food is put in front of us, we will eat.  Restaurant portions tend to be two times or more than is recommended at one sitting, which leads to way too many calories. We can retrain ourselves to eat more slowly and stop eating when we are satisfied…not full. Also, it is healthier to eat several smaller meals, rather than a few large meals a day. This is because it keeps your body in the digesting-food mode, which means it keeps your metabolism up.

One of the easiest ways to cut back on calories and lose weight is by monitoring portion sizes.

A couple of “visual” tips to help with portion control and avoid consuming too many extra calories: In general terms, one hand, cupped = 1/2cup, two hands, cupped = 1 cup. An open palm, or the size of a deck of cards = 3-4 oz, the

Portion Distortion

standard serving size for a piece of chicken or fish,  and a serving of potatoes about the size of a computer mouse, for example.  Get to know the recommended portion sizes for your favorite foods and strive to stick to that as closely as

you can.   Another way to prevent over indulgence is to serve meals on smaller side plates, instead of dinner plates.  Think of meat and pasta as the side dishes and vegetables as the main course.  Fill half your plate with veggies, one quarter with lean protein (meat) and on quarter with starch/carbs (pasta, rice, potato).  Once you get into the habit of monitoring portions, it will become second nature and easier to monitor.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who shrank their portions by 25% slashed 250 calories a day—enough to help them lose a half-pound a week—and still felt full.

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Want Peak Performance? Detox your Body, Naturally.
Shari

by on Feb.13, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

You’ve decided to “clean up” your diet by eliminating fast foods, red meats, pork, junk foods, sugary drinks –  But don’t worry; there’s plenty of good stuff left to eat.

… once you get the junk out of your system and start eating right, chances are you probably will not want to go back to you old habits.

“We are what we eat” is amazingly accurate. Unnatural foods are harmful and tend to accumulate instead of being flushed.  Chances are if you are feeling tired, stressed, are bloated, frequently achy, or have low energy, your diet can be to blame. Ignoring these signs will not make your situation better.  It may be time to detox your body.  Eating natural foods, provided by nature, is the best way to cleanse and revitalize the body and stay healthy. Food is the fuel you feed the body to enable it to achieve peak performance. The cleaner and purer the fuel, the better and smoother the engine’s performance. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Why Detoxify?

Detoxification is one of the basic functions of the human body.  One of the body’s functions is to constantly detox on its own. During this process, the body eliminates toxins through the kidneys, colon, liver, lungs, lymph and skin.  Problem is that our lives are full o stress, pollution, chemicals and many other harmful substances and it is difficult for the human body to cleanse itself the way it was designed to do by nature.

When toxins are unable to be flushed out, they are set aside and surrounded by fat to protect the body from their harmful properties. However, this system of defense can cause even more health problems. Detoxification can also revitalize and eliminate bacteria and viruses.

It is important to keep well hydrated by drinking lots of water and herbal or green tea.   Aim to drink at

least 8-10 glasses of water every day. Packed full of antioxidants, green tea not only washes toxins out of the system through its liquid content, but also contains a special type of antioxidant called catechins, known to increase liver function.  Stay clear of sugary sodas and caffeinated beverages as much as possible.

What we consume every day is an extremely important aspect of detoxification.  Choosing and eating the right things could make the difference between overloading our bodies with toxins or keeping it clean and working properly. There is a wide range of foods to select from that can be incorporated into your diet to help you revitalize and detoxify.  So what foods are best to eat to remove toxins and get rid of that “sluggishness” feeling?

Basically, your diet should consist of foods that can be found in an organic form when possible or

Green tea, fresh fruit, nuts make the perfect "detox" snack

found in nature without preservatives or processing.  After all, it was all those processed foods with all the additives, dyes, added sugars, salt and extra fat that got your body into the state it’s in now.

Here are just a few suggestions that should be incorporated in your diet regularly to help heal your body naturally.

  1. Garlic, Ginger, Cilantro – Potent spices known to boost metabolism and rid free radicals
  2. Green Leafy Veggies- gives digestive tract a chlorophyll boost ridding the body from harmful environmental toxins. (including cabbage)
  3. Citrus (Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit) and other fruits (high in water content and vitamin C. Also fruits provide natural sweetness to help fight off sweet craving while trying to avoid processed sugars
  4. Broccoli Sprouts -stimulate the detoxification enzymes in the digestive tract. High in antioxidants.
  5. Seeds and Nuts
  6. Beans and grains (gluten free) like rice, quinoa
  7. Omega 3 Oils – Avocado, Flax Seed, Olive Oils, helps lubricate the intestinal walls, allowing the toxins to be absorbed by the oil, and eliminated by the body
  8. Asparagus: They are diuretic and prevent water retention. Weight loss while eating asparagus is due to the loss of water and not fat.

Dairy and wheat products are not the best choices while trying to detox.  Substitute instead when possible gluten free grains and almond or soy milk. Avoid fried foods during this period as well. Instead of using butter, chose a healthier canola based or olive oil product. Avoid processed cakes and cookies and other such flour-based products as well.  An area that is tough for most people is snack foods. Instead of snacking on chips, candy and cookies, snack on nuts and seeds as a healthier source, or of course fresh fruits or veggies. Virtually all fruits and vegetables are great foods but those full of color such as dark leafy spinach or bright red tomatoes are optimal.
The bottom line, when it comes to appropriate body detox foods, consider that if a food product is made in a factory and processed in some way (besides simple flash freezing or canning), then it is not the best thing for your detoxifying diet.

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Hey Honey, Pour some Sugar on Me…. or Not.
Shari

by on Jan.30, 2011, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Weight Loss

“There are four basic food groups:  milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles”.  ~Author Unknown

No denying it. We all crave something sweet occasionally. So when we indulge in making a dessert, or sweeten a cup of coffee, what sweetener should we reach for? Sugar, fructose, honey? Calories from sweeteners add up quickly though and most sweeteners contain no nutritional value….So what about artificial, no calorie sweeteners?  It’s all a bit confusing.

Let’s focus first on table sugar (Sucrose) versus Honey.

The case for Honey:

Honey actually contains the same basic sugar units as table sugar. Both contain glucose and fructose. Granulated table sugar, (sucrose), has glucose and fructose hooked together, whereas in honey, fructose and glucose remain in individual units. Fructose is sweeter than glucose, which is one of the reasons fructose is used in so many food products today. However, fructose does not convert to energy as efficiently as glucose. As a result, processed

Sugar, Honey, Splenda, Truvia.... Which is best?

foods containing granulated sugar high in fructose convert to fat stores more easily than honey. But, One teaspoon of table sugar contains 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey has 22 calories.  (Or 46 to 64 calories per Tablespoon, respectively). Since Honey is both sweeter and denser than sugar, people may use less of it which might bring the actual caloric count about the same.  Honey, however is less processed than table sugar and some nutrition experts say that honey contains trace vitamins and minerals that might aide in digestion.  Note that raw honey contains more nutritional value than commercial honey since it is not filtered.  Honey, also is far less processed than pure sucrose (table sugar) where all naturally occurring trace minerals are removed at the sugar plant, leaving nothing but  “empty calories .   Honey also has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) rating than sucrose.  The lower the GI rating, the more slowly the absorption and infusion of sugars into the bloodstream, meaning a more gradual and healthier digestion.

What about Caloric Sweeteners (Sugar/Honey) versus Artificial Sweeteners?

The case for sugar:

Our bodies understand how to handle incoming nutrients. Through the actions of insulin, the body uses or stores incoming glucose for future use, either as muscle or liver glycogen or as fat. The problem is the body can’t handle the high quantities of sugar that most people are shoveling in.  Most of us eat the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar a day which is definitely a problem if you are trying to lose weight, have to watch blood sugar levels because of diabetes, or all those sweets are keeping you from eating and drinking the nutritious foods your body needs. With that said, at least the body has a mechanism for dealing with and handling sugar. It doesn’t matter if that incoming sugar is in the form of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, or agave nectar…the body knows that it is sugar and breaks it down accordingly.

The case for Artificial Sweeteners:

Sugar is an empty calorie. Sure, with honey and molasses, you get a few vitamins, but calorie-for-calorie, sugar, in all of its forms, is just empty calories. Sugar sends your blood sugar (glucose) sky high which causes insulin levels to spike, sending you into a hypoglycemic funk, and ruining your insulin sensitivity. And sugar is exceedingly easy to over consume. There may be 20 -30 TABLESPOONS of sugar in one pan of brownies that is tempting you right now.

The main reason people choose artificial sweeteners is because they contain no calories. For dieters, sweeteners like Splenda and Equal are considered a free food. “Free foods” are those not counted as carbohydrates, fats, or any other exchange, says the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, “free foods” will not affect an individual’s blood sugar.

But consider this: as bad as sugar is in terms of processing, artificial sweeteners may be worse. These sweeteners are made in a lab from who knows what chemicals. Further, we have no idea what these chemicals will do to the body with sustained long-term use.

**One product you may have heard of that is gaining popularity is Truvia, which is a zero calorie, all natural sweetener

All natural, zero calorie sweetener extracted from the Stevia Plant

extracted from the Stevia Plant. Many people (including myself) see this as a healthy alternative, being that it’s derived from natural sources and it is FDA approved…..and no calories!

So, which is best?

You are probably not going to like the answer: None of the above.

The best option is to ditch the sweet stuff and opt for whole, real foods.  Fat, protein and nutrient dense foods will curb your appetite and fruit or a good dark chocolate your sweet cravings.

If you must add something to your food or drink, use the least processed that you can get, which would be either honey or evaporated cane juice, or if counting calories… TRUVIA. And if you opt for one of the many artificial sweeteners out there, please use sparingly.

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