Nutrition 101

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Why is it that every decade a new fad diet hits the market or a new magic pill fools all into thinking there is an easy alternative to diet and exercise?  It humors me to watch these diets fade away about as fast as it takes the user to put the weight back on!  As a trainer for nearly a decade, I’m always amazed to watch the masses take part in false, dieting propaganda time and again only to end up right where they started with less money in their pockets and more bad habits I end up having to break!  Don’t get me wrong, as long as society keeps looking for an easy way out of old fashioned hard work, I keep ultimate job security as my gym members come back humbly before me saying “You were right Nick.”  Don’t fret!  I will always take you back! 

1980’s – Zero Fat diets:  This was the time that every food came out with an option to be fat free.  Snack Wells cookies made their debut and skim milk became the milk of choice along with a hundred other fat free alternatives to everyday foods.  Little did we know (or want to know) that those foods were enriched with more sugar, substituting the calories from fat to carbohydrates.  Both of which, when not used, are stored in the body as body fat.  The negative side to fat free diets was the preconceived notion that one can eat all they want from fat free products and not gain fat.  Boy was America wrong and as we all can see, America got fatter!

1990’s – Zero Carbohydrate diets:  You would have thought we learned our lesson from the ‘80s.  Apparently Mr. Atkins was more persuasive than even the Law of Thermodynamics!  Like the Law of Gravity where you cannot alter science’s properties of “what goes up must come down”, the Law of Thermodynamics, simply put, is energy in/energy out.  1gm of protein contains 4 calories.  1 carbohydrate gram also contains the same, 4 calories!  So the bottom line is if you over eat your daily allotment from either source, you’re going to store them as body fat!  America got sold again… and got fatter! 

2000’s – Extreme Low Calorie + Holistic Treatments:  Extreme Low Calorie with Holistic Treatment gives the ability to stave off muscle loss while starving our bodies of valuable nutrients but it doesn’t make it right.  Mark my words this will be just like the rest, a “magic diet,” that grabs the attention of wishful consumers and eventually leaves them right where they started or worse off than before.

Short term gratification lasts just that, a short term.  To be successful long term, you must make your daily nutrition a long term strategy.  Most of Americans are obese not because of lack of exercise but the overwhelming increase of daily calories paired with a severe sedentary lifestyle.  The “no carb” diets seemed to work well only because carbohydrates are typically the main staple food of the obese.  Snacks foods, chips, candy, soda pop and cookies all contain high amounts of carbohydrates.  What if I told you that I can have you eating a lot of the same foods you already do however with better choices that take into account sugar, protein and total calories helping to keep the pounds down while simultaneously keeping that valuable muscle?  Below are but a few fantastic, affordable healthy alternatives to everyday foods designed to keep the waistline slim while keeping our bellies full! 

Breakfast:   
Quick -
Fat Free Cottage Cheese:  Very high protein with little sugar and zero fat. Kroger brand has a very high protein version!
Fat free Yogurt:  Medium protein to calorie ratio but watch for high sugar. Kroger “Carb Master” high protein/ very low sugar!
Oatmeal:  Always a healthy quick fix with good carbs to energize your day. Kashi Oatmeal or low calorie option makes for best choice!
Prepared –
Egg whites:  Egg whites from whole eggs or “Egg Beater” alternative. Mix both egg whites and egg beater for best taste!
Fat Free Cheese:  Fat free cheese has come a long way and can really make or break a healthy meal’s total fat content. Kraft fat free American great for omelets!
Deli Chicken or Turkey:  High protein alternative to ham for an egg/cheese additive.
Never add fat to food i.e., oils or butter.  Non-stick sprays now come in many varieties and are calorie free.

Lunch:
Multigrain/Low Calorie breads:  Choose bread high in fiber or low in calories.
Lunch Meats:  Turkey, Chicken, tuna and egg make great sandwich fillers. Avoid ham, pastrami and bologna. Use roast beef sparingly.
Peanut Butter and Jelly:  Good fats from peanut butter paired with low calorie or sugar free jelly and jams make for a great sandwich. Smuckers and Welches make a very tasty sugar free jelly!
Weight Watchers and Healthy Choice Frozen lunches/dinners:  Great portion control from these healthy, quick fix meals.
Watch for high sodium in prepackaged meals.
Stay away from mayos and creamy dressings.  Stick with mustards, fat free mayo/Miracle Whip

Dinner:
Ground Turkey:  Lean meats make great chilies and stews. Hormel Turkey (No Bean) is very high pro, low sugar.
Artificial Crab:  Made from the Alaskan Pollack fish, foe crab is a great source of protein with little else. Mix with a reduced fat crab salad or calorie butter spray (Parkay is great) for added flavor!
Chicken/Pork/Steak/Beef:  Choose lean versions of these meats. Grilled or baked preferred.
Weight Watchers and Healthy Choice Frozen lunches/dinners:  Great portion control from these healthy, quick fix meals. Watch for high sodium in prepackaged meals.

Always surround your meals with a protein primary keeping veggies and complex carbs as side items.

Liquids:  (throughout the day)
Water (Preferred):  Minimum 1 gallon per day. Crystal light or generic alternative is a great way to make drinking water more pleasurable!
Diet Sodas:  Zero calorie/sugar sodas make a better alternative to the latter. Lipton Diet Sparkling Green Tea is amazing!
Chicken/Pork/Steak/Beef:  Choose lean versions of these meats. Grilled or baked preferred.
Weight Watchers and Healthy Choice Frozen lunches/dinners:  Great portion control from these healthy, quick fix meals. Watch for high sodium in prepackaged meals

Always surround your meals with a protein primary keeping veggies and complex carbs as side items.

Snacks:  (between meals)
Beef Jerky:  Very high protein snack. *Avoid tube jerkies for they have higher amounts of fat, i.e., sausage.* 
Nuts:  Nuts provide good fats in moderation. *Nuts are very calorie dense so try buying single packs to avoid overeating!*
Pork Rinds:  Great munchie food with an abundance of protein. *Barbeque flavor always tastes best!*

Desserts:  (late night sweet tooth)
Sherbet/Sorbet:  Sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth with zero fat. Fat free doesn’t mean “all you can eat!”
Frozen Fruit:  Fresh fruits cut and frozen make a sweet dessert alternative. Frozen fruits also make great protein shake additives!
Single Serving yogurt/ice cream:  Suitable serving size to eat, start to finish. One will do the trick!

Spices/Sprays/Syrups: 
Calorie Free Butter Spray:  Great alternative for a fulfilling “butter” taste without any calories. Parkay Butter Spray tastes the best!”
Non-Stick Sprays:  Non-stick sprays now come in many varieties and are calorie free. Great for the counter top grill, i.e., George Foreman Grill!
Mrs. Dash:  Large variety of sodium free spices great for all meats.
Sugar Free Syrup:  Great for protein pancakes and blended protein shakes.
Artificial Sweeteners:  Great way to make bland foods taste better, i.e., fat free cottage cheese. Splenda is sweetener of choice among fitness enthusiasts!