Category Archives: Health Tips

5 New Exercise Rules For You!

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Out with the old, in with the new! Are you up-to-date on the latest rules in fitness? Popular belief about the most effective exercise techniques to achieve the highest level of fat loss and the best results vary from decade to decade. New studies come out, more data is considered, and we get smarter, more efficient, and more sophisticated in our knowledge and techniques. Here are 5 NEW fitness rules that will help you take your routine and your body to the next level of success…

1. NEW Fitness: Exercise Partners

A decade ago the mantra was that having a workout partner was the holy grail of accountability and success. Article after article touted the magic of workout partners, and so fitness enthusiasts across the globe obediently found their own fitness friend.

While this rule was made with good intentions, the reality is that not all workout partners are beneficial for your results. In fact, many exercise partners actually serve as a distraction rather than an asset when it comes to getting the most from your gym time.

The new rule about exercise partners goes like this: the right exercise partner can enhance your results, but the wrong exercise partner will tank your gym time. Choose your exercise partner with care, or choose to workout alone if no one in your life can fill that role.

2. NEW Fitness Rule: Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoes have undergone major changes over the past decade. Designs used to emphasize stability and cushioning, with bulky designs intended to give you the most support possible.

Today biomechanical experts have introduced the concept of minimalistic footwear, suggesting that it reduces injuries. While the bulkier shoes from yesteryear prompted strides with a forceful heel strike, putting stress on joints, the minimalistic designs encourage a softer landing with a mid-to-forefoot strike.

Should you swap out your favorite pair of workout sneakers in favor of a more barefoot design? Not necessarily. Simply working on softening your stride by eliminating heel strikes could also do the trick.

3. NEW Fitness Rule: How To Get A Six-Pack

The old school way to a six-pack was to save your ab workout for the end of your gym visit. You’d stop at the exercise mats to spend ten minutes cranking out crunches and sit-ups.

Today the popularity of stability exercises and functional training is on the rise. This means engaging your core (abdominal) muscles throughout your entire workout, not in an isolated movement after your main workout is complete. Exercises that require that you stiffen your core against resistance strengthen your abdominal wall, while protecting you from potential injuries.

Avoid an exercise routine that’s centered around seated weight machines, as these do not engage your core. Instead seek out free weights, cable machines, resistance bands and other stability exercises. And remember to squeeze those abs while you work it!

4. NEW Fitness Rule: How To Do A Push Up

Push ups from your knees are so last millennium! Not only does this position put unnecessary pressure and stress on your knee joints, it’s not as challenging as other techniques since it doesn’t allow for full range of motion to be achieved.

So what do you do if a full push up isn’t manageable? Find another angle, rather than drop down to your knees. Place your hands on a counter or low bench and assume the full push up position with your back flat and spine straight.

As your strength increases lower the angle of your push up until you are doing a full, traditional pushup.

5. NEW Fitness Rule: Your Pre-Workout Meal

Have you ever struggled through a workout on an empty stomach, fighting hunger pains as you feel the burn, simply because you read somewhere that exercise on an empty stomach burned more fat? You can stop doing that.

New research is showing that eating a small, sensible meal before your workout results in a higher fat-burning rate compared to workouts out on an empty stomach. It has also been shown that your workout will be more intense and more effective when hunger isn’t on your mind.

Keep your pre-workout meal small and sensible.. The intention of the pre-workout meal is to provide energy and fuel for your muscles in order to get the most out of your time in the gym.

Source: Rene Serrate, U First Fitness


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Prebiotics and Probiotics: Creating a Healthier You

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You’ve probably heard of prebiotics and probiotics, but do you know what they are? Nutrition research has pinpointed specific functional components of foods that may improve health, and prebiotics and probiotics are two such substances.

Although they are available as dietary supplements, it is not necessary to use special pills, potions, cleanses or other concoctions to incorporate prebiotics and probiotics into your diet. These “nutrition boosters” are natural ingredients in everyday food. In fact, Kristi King, MPH, RDN, LD, CNSC, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests focusing on the food sources first. “They are more readily available for absorption and digestion,” she says.

While research continues in this area of nutrition — investigating how effective and safe these substances are and how much we need to obtain health benefits — here’s what we know now.

What Are Prebiotics and What Do They Do?

Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut. Simply said, they’re “good” bacteria promoters. That’s right, not all bacteria are bad! Prebiotics may improve gastrointestinal health as well as potentially enhance calcium absorption.

Prebiotics in Your Diet

Prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides, such as inulin and galactooligosaccharides. But rather than focusing on these lengthy words, include more prebiotics in your diet by eating these foods recommended by King: bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat foods.

What Are Probiotics and What Do They Do?

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria — or live cultures — just like those naturally found in your gut. These active cultures help change or repopulate intestinal bacteria to balance gut flora. This functional component may boost immunity and overall health, especially GI health. For instance, probiotics have been used for management of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Some strains of these live cultures may help prevent specific allergy symptoms, reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance and more. However, effects can vary from person to person.

Probiotics in Your Diet

To obtain more probiotics, King recommends enjoying fermented dairy foods including yogurt, kefir products and aged cheeses, which contain live cultures (for example, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli). Plus, she suggests some non-dairy foods which also have beneficial cultures, including kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and cultured non-dairy yogurts.

What Makes Prebiotics and Probiotics the “Dynamic Duo?”

Ultimately, prebiotics, or “good” bacteria promoters, and probiotics, or “good” bacteria, work together synergistically. In other words, prebiotics are breakfast, lunch and dinner for probiotics, which restores and can improve GI health. Products that combine these together are called synbiotics. On the menu, that means enjoying bananas atop yogurt or stir-frying asparagus with tempeh is a win-win.

The bottom line: At a minimum, prebiotics and probiotics are keys for good gut health. “I think we are at an exciting time in research,” says King. “We’re finding that the gut flora is responsible for more than just digestion.

Incorporating health-promoting functional foods, such as foods containing prebiotics and probiotics, into the diet aids in creating a healthier you.

Source: Taylor Wolfram, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics


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4 Keys to Strength Building and Muscle Mass

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Muscle is harder to build and maintain as we age. In fact, most of us start losing muscle around age 30, with a 3- to 8-percent reduction in lean muscle mass every decade thereafter.

This is due to lower testosterone levels in men and lower estrogen levels in women — both hormones that help build muscle — as well as changes in nerve and blood cells and the body not converting amino acids to muscle tissue as efficiently, among other factors. But muscle loss doesn’t have to be inevitable: For adult men and women, regular resistance training exercises are key to building and keeping muscle.

Strength Training and Health

Strength training is an important piece of the fitness equation. Men and women should participate in muscle strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms) at least two times each week. Examples of strength training include lifting weights, using resistance bands and doing push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. Even everyday activities such as carrying groceries, playing with your kids and gardening can strengthen muscles.

One of the best ways to support strength building is good nutrition. Protein, carbohydrates and fat play a major role, as does getting enough calories throughout the day. Read on to find out how each macronutrient can help you bulk up — and how much to eat every day.

Protein and Muscle Building

When building muscle, the more protein the better, right? Not necessarily. While you’re working to build muscle with exercise, protein should make up 10 to 35 percent of total calories for adults. Research shows there is no benefit to eating more protein than this amount and it can be harmful.

Keeping muscle mass, on the other hand, requires a lot less protein than building new muscle. For example, the recommended dietary allowance for protein for the average adult is 0.37 grams per pound of body weight, and that equals about 56 grams of total protein for a 150-pound adult. A typical day that includes 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy plus 3 servings of protein foods (such as lean meat, poultry, fish or beans) will provide quality sources of protein to help reach that goal. Grains, especially whole grains, also provide some protein but may not be enough to meet dietary needs.

Protein levels of common foods:

  • 1 large egg = 6 grams
  • 1 cup low-fat milk = 8 grams
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt = 12 grams
  • ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese = 14 grams
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter = 8 grams
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa = 8 grams
  • 3 ounces of lean ground beef = 22 grams
  • 3 ounces skinless, baked chicken = 26 grams
  • 3 ounces grilled salmon = 21 grams
  • 3 ounces firm tofu = 8 grams

Carbohydrates and Muscle Building

Carbohydrates are an important group of foods for fueling your muscles. That’s because carbs are partially converted to glycogen, which is stored in muscle to power your workouts. Men and women who are strength training at least twice a week need at least half of their calories from carbohydrates per day. That doesn’t mean you should be loading up on pizza and bagels. Try adding in good quality carbohydrates that are low in fat, such as whole-grain breads and cereals for the best strength-training boost. Low-fat milk and yogurt and fruits and vegetables also are good options and provide some carbohydrates in our diet. When planning your meals and snacks, it is recommended to stay away from higher fiber foods immediately prior to or during exercise.

Fat and Muscle Building

Contrary to the fat-free trend, you actually need fat in your daily diet. Your body relies on fat to supply energy to muscles during activity, and how much fat a person needs can vary. As a general guideline, fat should make up 20 to 35 percent of your total calories.

For overall health and muscle strength, focus on sources of heart-healthy fats, including extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, avocados and fatty fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and trout.

Fat contains twice the number of calories as carbohydrates and protein, so it is important to monitor serving sizes. For example, 1 tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories and 1 ounce of walnuts (about 14 nuts) has 185 calories. If possible, measure and count before eating.

Source: Taylor Wolfram, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics


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Incorporating Healthy Fats Into Your Diet

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Fat is a nutrient necessary for your health. While various fats in foods have different effects on health, some fats offer health-protective benefits. Consider including foods with these fats, in moderation, to your meals.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that may help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health.

What to Eat

Fatty Fish: Current dietary recommendations are to include fish in your meals at least twice per week. Fish high in omega-3 fats are salmon, albacore tuna (fresh and canned), sardines, lake trout and mackerel.

Walnuts: Walnuts are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3. Add walnuts to cereal, salads or muffins. Try walnut oil in salad dressings and sautés, too.

Oils: Replace solid fats such as butter or margarine with oils such as canola and soybean when cooking or baking. It works well for sautéing and stir-frying.

Flaxseed: Add ground flaxseed to breakfast cereal, yogurt, baked goods including breads and muffins or mixed dishes and casseroles. Or, drizzle flaxseed oil over quinoa or use it for salad dressing. (Your body cannot break down whole flaxseeds to access the omega-3-containing oil.)

Eggs: Some chickens are given feed that is high in omega-3s so their eggs will contain more as well. When buying eggs, check the package label.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease.

What to Eat

Nuts: In addition to heart-healthy fats, nuts are a good source of protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Just keep portion control in mind. One portion of nuts is equal to 1 ounce or ⅓ cup and provides approximately 160 to 180 calories.

Oils: Use oils like olive oil in place of saturated fat, such as butter. Use it in salad dressing or to sauté vegetables, seafood, poultry and meat.

Avocado: Avocados not only contain monounsaturated fat, but they are also packed with folate, vitamins E, C and B6, potassium and fiber. Try adding avocado to salad, pizza, soup, salsa, eggs and sandwiches.

Peanut Butter: Nearly half the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated fat. Resist the urge to pour off the heart-healthy oil that’s separated out of natural peanut butter, and mix it in.

Source: Taylor Wolfram, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics


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3 Secrets For Your Daily Routine

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Incorporate the following diet secrets into your daily routine to naturally boost your metabolism, automatically lower your daily consumption of calories and keep your motivation going strong so that you drop excess fat quicker than ever before.

Secret #1: Weigh In Daily

Tacking your weight on a daily basis is a really simple way to drop pounds. A recent Duke study showed that participants who weighed themselves daily lost substantially more weight than participants who weighed themselves five times per week or less.
The act of getting on the scale and seeing your weight helps to understand how certain behaviors translate into weight gained or lost. If you ate a salty, carb-filled meal for dinner then you’ll visibly see the number go up when you step onto the scale the next morning. This will likely prevent you from repeating the weight-promoting behavior again and will keep your motivation on track.

Secret #2: Switch to Green Tea

Drop pounds by simply switching from soda to unsweetened green tea. The average soda drinker ends up consuming over 65,000 extra calories from their beverage of choice each year, calories that quickly add up to pounds gained. Even if your soda of choice is diet, this simple swap will result in pounds lost.
While diet soda doesn’t contain calories, there is evidence that the chemical compounds found in diet soda spike your hunger hormones, causing you to overeat. Unsweetened green tea, on the other hand, is calorie free and contains catechins that have been shown to help increase metabolism.

Secret #3: Go Gluten Free

You don’t have to be allergic to gluten to benefit from a gluten free diet. A Columbia University study reported that gluten triggers fattening biochemical changes, due in part to genetically altered wheat. These fattening biochemical changes are in addition to the high calorie counts of most gluten-containing foods, which means that avoiding gluten will help you drop weight twice as fast.
Rather than jumping from gluten-filled grain products to gluten-free grain products, do your best to trim even the gluten-free grains from your diet. This can be achieved by swapping out tortillas for large lettuce leaves and traditional noodles for noodles made from vegetables.
Don’t forget to exercise: the quickest way to reshape your body is with a combination of exercise and smart eating.

Source: Rene Serrate for U First Fitness


At Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine, we believe a nutritionally balanced diet is a crucial part of any health and fitness plan. Our 5 chef prepared menus that includes gluten free as well as our healthy snacks and low calorie desserts can help you reach your goals without sacrificing variety, quality and flavor.

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5 Workout Secrets You Need To Know

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If having a lean and sculpted body is your goal then I’ve got good news for you: follow these 5 Workout Secrets and your goal will quickly become a reality. These secrets aren’t secret in the sense that you’ve never heard them before, because you likely have heard them. The secret is that by faithfully following each and every one of these 5 steps your progress will become automatic and your results will be guaranteed.

Workout Secret #1: Consistency is KEY

If you want a fit body then exercise MUST be a consistent part of your life. You can’t exercise hard this week and then take the next two weeks off and expect to see results. Results come from consistency.

Workout Secret #2: Set ATTAINABLE goals

Let’s be realistic here, you aren’t going to lose 20 pounds in a week. That’s not an attainable goal! Those who achieve the most amazing body transformations do so by reaching a series of progressive, attainable goals. If you would like help in determining what an appropriate, attainable goal would be for yourself then simply reach out to me, I’d be happy to help.

Workout Secret #3: Make it CONVENIENT

Are you straining to include your chosen exercise routine into your life? If your exercise time isn’t a seamless part of your daily life, if it causes too much of a strain and headache to accomplish, then you won’t stick with it. Find a time, a place and a modality of exercise that is as convenient to your real life as possible, so that you can be faithful to Workout Secret #1 by staying consistent.

Workout Secret #4: Find something you LOVE

Similar to Workout Secret #3, finding a modality of exercise that you LOVE is key to making this a permanent part of your life. You may never love swimming because you hate getting your ears wet, or you may never love biking because you’ve always struggled with balance. If you’re straining to get through a modality of exercise that you loathe, then you won’t stick with it. It’s best to move on to something different that you would enjoy more.
**Note for exercise-haters: If deep down you consider yourself an exercise hater, then DO NOT take this Workout Secret as a free pass to forego exercise altogether under the guise of not loving it. Part of becoming fit for life is learning to find a type of exercise that you can learn to love.

Workout Secret #5: Work with a PRO

This is my favorite Workout Secret because this is where I get to work with you! My passion and focus is in helping folks like yourself integrate fun, challenging, health-promoting exercise into your daily routine so that you reach your body and health transformation goals.

Bonus: Workout Secret #6

Don’t underestimate the power of social accountability in your quest for a better body. Find a friend with similar goals and make a pact that you’ll hold each other accountable. No one likes letting down their friends, and so you’ll show up to your workouts day after day, week after week! Put rewards in place to enjoy together as you and your workout friend begin to reach your fitness goals.

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Defining Overweight and Obese

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Overweight and obese are labels for weight ranges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, weights in these ranges are higher than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. Having a weight in one of these categories may increase your risk for certain diseases and health problems. The definitions of overweight and obese are different for adults than children.

Definitions for Adults

Weight ranges for adults are defined using body mass index — a number, usually between 15 and 40, calculated from a person’s height and weight. The easiest way to determine your BMI is to an online BMI calculator. A calculator will give you both your BMI and the weight category your BMI falls within.

Weight Ranges for Adults

BMI

Weight Category

Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 to 24.9 Normal or healthy weight
25.0 to 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and above Obese

While most people associate BMI with body fat, it is not a measurement of body fat. This means some people can have a BMI in the overweight range even though they do not have excess body fat, which is especially true for athletes.

Definitions for Children and Teens

For people ages 2 to 19, BMI is referred to as BMI-for-age and is determined using height, weight, age and gender. Body fat varies at different ages; boys and girls tend to have different amounts of body fat.

BMI-for-age is given as a percentile that shows where a child’s or teen’s BMI falls in comparison to others of the same age and gender. (See CDC’s BMI Calculator for Child and Teen.)

Weight Ranges for Children and Teens

BMI

Weight Category

Less than 5th percentile Underweight
5th to 85th percentile Normal or healthy weight
85th to less than 95th percentile Overweight
Equal to or greater than 95th percentile Obese

As with adults, BMI-for-age may be used as a screening tool, not as a diagnostic test. A health care provider needs more information to determine if excess fat is a health problem. In addition to calculating BMI-for-age, a health care provider may ask about family health history, eating habits and the amount of physical activity your child gets. Additional assessments may include skin fold thickness measurements and lab tests for cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Overweight and Obese as Stereotypes

While the terms overweight and obese have precise definitions as noted above, these labels take on other meanings in our weight-obsessed society. Often, overweight and obese people are stereotyped, even enduring unfair treatment because of their weight. Larger children often are the target of weight-related bullying by other children and adults.

Overweight and obese are terms that refer only to a general estimate of an individual’s body weight. They do not in any way reflect on a person’s competence, self-discipline, drive or ability to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Source: Taylor Wolfram for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics


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