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Blog

Eating for the Season: Summer Edition

Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N. Jul 20, 2017 Nutrition

Summertime and the living is delicious! This is the season with the greatest variety of fruits and vegetables available, which are the perfect fuel for your active days (see sidebar, below). Whether you find yourself hiking, biking or playing a grueling tennis match, you need to stay well-hydrated and nourished to match your energy output. Fortunately, fruits and veggies are filled with water, clean carbs and fiber to keep you satiated for hours.

When choosing your produce this summer, keep in mind that some crops have a heavier residue of pesticides than others. This may influence whether or not you choose to purchase organic varieties instead of conventionally grown produce. The 2017 Dirty Dozen list put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes as the types of produce with the highest pesticide usage.

By contrast, EWG’s Clean 15 includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit because these foods contain the lowest amounts of pesticides. Note that a small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash grown in the United States is from genetically modified seeds. You may want to choose organic versions of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified foods.

7 Ways to Get More Movement Into Your Day

Kelsey Brown, MEd, CHES Jul 13, 2017 Fit Fun

Take a minute to think about the hours of your day. How much of that time is spent seated or lying down? Regular workout sessions are great, but they may not be enough to negate an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is a term for all of your daily movement separate from structured exercise. This includes walking from your car to the office, carrying groceries, playing with your dog and even fidgeting. This daily movement is vital to weight management and health.

Research shows that people who are impacted by obesity sit an average of 2.5 hours less per day than their normal-weight counterparts. However, they could burn an additional 350 calories daily with increased NEAT (Levine et al., 2006). That may not sound like much, but those calories add up to 3 pounds of weight loss in a month, or 36 pounds in a year, all without setting foot in a gym.

If you struggle to find time for activity, it’s time to think beyond the sets and reps. Here are seven ways to get more movement into your day.

7 Great Mornings: Your Prep Guide to the Most Important Meal of the Day 7 Great Mornings: Your Prep Guide to the Most Important Meal of the Day

Katie Ferraro Jul 6, 2017 Nutrition

You've heard it a million times, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. You can't start your car without a little fuel in the tank, and a well-balanced breakfast can set you off on the right foot for a fabulous day.

Most people who skip breakfast cite lack of time as their primary barrier. These seven easy-to-prepare breakfast ideas can be made in a few minutes and are packed with the nutrition needed to fuel you throughout your day.

You've heard it a million times, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. You can't start your car without a little fuel in the tank, and a well-balanced breakfast can set you off on the right foot for a fabulous day. Most people who skip breakfast cite lack of time as their primary barrier. These seven easy-to-prepare breakfast ideas can be made in a few minutes and are packed with the nutrition needed to fuel you throughout your day.

3 Stretches for Midday Back Pain

Brett Klika, CEO of SPIDERfit Kids Jun 29, 2017 News

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably suffered from back pain at one point or another. According to the National Centers for Health Statistics, back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain and it is listed as the most frequent cause of chronic pain.

To keep yourself off the list of frequent sufferers, it’s important to first understand where this problem comes from so you can apply some simple strategies to keep pain at bay.

As a human being, you get to walk around upright. For this to happen, you have a spine up the center of your back that provides an anchor and center point for just about every major articulating joint in your body. It isn’t just a rigid pole holding you upright—it curves in a slight “S” shape, allowing for the different bends, twists and other movements you need to do on a daily basis.

The spine isn’t designed, however, to take on all of your twisting, bending and rotating alone. The joints that articulate with the spine, such as the hips and shoulders, are supposed to work with the spine to make this happen.

When we succumb to the desks, chairs and couches of an inactive lifestyle, these joints that are supposed to work with the spine lose their range of motion. The muscles that help these joints move become immobile and weak. When these joints can no longer work with the spine effectively, the spine has to pick up the slack.

When the muscles that make it possible for joints like the shoulders and hips to move become weak and immobile, the spine has to excessively flex, extend and rotate to allow movement. This places quite a bit of stress on the tissues between the spinal vertebrae. After a while, these tissues become agitated, inflamed and injured. The result is chronic back pain and injury.

A potent two-punch approach to help alleviate some of these issues involves:

  • Improving the ranges of motion of the joints that articulate with frequent and efficient flexibility exercises
  • Avoiding prolonged periods of sitting

As simple as the two-punch approach sounds, modern daily life no longer naturally facilitates frequent movement. We sit in cars to go to a job where we sit at a desk. After a long day, we relish in the idea of sitting in our favorite chair while watching television. Our ancestors would be alarmed at what has now become a “back-breaking” lifestyle.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to start running some interference throughout the day to break up your bouts of sitting so you can get your back health back. Try setting a timer to chime every 60 minutes and stand up and perform one of the three stretches described below.

Note: If you experience chronic back pain, you should talk to your physician.

Carb Cycling

Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N Jun 22, 2017 Nutrition

Carbohydrates (or carbs) continue to be a hot topic. Right now, they’re coming under heavy fire from all sorts of nutrition experts as the cause for obesity, diabetes and inflammation. But are all carbs bad? How much should you be eating each day? And what’s the deal with carb cycling? Here are the answers to these carb-cycling questions and more.

Caloric Cost of Physical Activity

Pete McCall, MS, CSCS Jun 8, 2017 News

In the fitness industry, we often talk about burning calories, which can be important for individuals who are exercising specifically to lose weight or for those who need to quantify how hard they’re working with exact metrics. This begs the question: What is a calorie and how does it relate to your personal fitness goals?

Simply put, a calorie is a measure of unit of energy; specifically, it is the amount of energy necessary to increase the temperature of 1 liter of water by 1 degree centigrade. According to the first law of thermodynamics (also known as the law of conservation of energy), energy is neither created nor destroyed, but is merely transferred from one form to another. This means that when you eat food that contains 100 calories, you will do one of two things with it: You will either expend the energy through activity (technically called kinetic energy) or save it for use at another time (referred to as potential energy).

When it comes to managing a healthy body weight or achieving specific weight-loss goals, it is important to monitor both the number of calories coming in through dietary intake and the amount of calories being burned through physical activity. In addition, it is necessary to understand how exercise physiologists measure the body’s metabolism and classify different categories of energy expenditure.

Metabolism-damaging Foods

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse (“Lyssie”) Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins® Jun 2, 2017 Nutrition

Eat fiber and protein-filled meals. Check.

Drink green tea; add ginger, capsaicin and other anti-inflammatory and metabolism-enhancing spices to meals. Check.

Drink plenty of water. Check.

Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Check.

Incorporate interval training into workouts. Check.

Strength train. Check.

Make an effort to move more (take stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the water cooler, etc.) throughout the day. Check.

These lifestyle habits help keep the body’s metabolism at top speed, but it is also important to ensure that the foods you’re consuming aren’t having the opposite effect. Poor dietary choices can affect hormones, inflammation and gut bacteria, all of which can negatively impact your metabolism and cause fat gain.

To keep your metabolism in top working order, swap the following metabolism doozies for these metabolism-boosting actions:

Surviving or Thriving: Which Are You After?

Jonathan Ross May 26, 2017 Fit Fun

“Flex! Flex! Flex!” the kids called out over and over. They got off the bus all excited because Rosanna was there to pick up her grandchild from the bus stop. All the kids wanted to see Rosanna flex her arm muscles. Rosanna is a 67-year-old dynamo. Clearly, she’s been a topic of conversation among the kids.

A little less than a decade ago, Rosanna began actively pursuing health and wellness. She had no lifetime habit or pattern of fitness already established, so she’s not some outlier who has had fitness as a top priority for her entire life. She’s thrilled about how her tennis and exercise efforts make her feel and the gratifying experience of seeing herself improve day-by-day, week-by-week.

And this is what life comes down to: A series of small opportunities to make a choice each day that either moves you closer to health or further from it.

You can thrive or you can simply survive. Are you just getting by or getting better? I hope you will make the most of your days rather than just get through them.

These small, daily choices will affect you at all ages and stages of life, but the older you get, the consequence of the choices you have made are magnified.

Are You an Apple or a Pear? How to Eat for Specific Body Types

Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N May 19, 2017 Nutrition

Losing weight can be so frustrating. Why is it that one diet works well for your friend, but not for you? There’s no one-size-fits-all diet, because all bodies are different. Hormonal imbalances, amidst other factors like genetics, correlate to how and where you gain weight. Creating nutrition and exercise programs to balance your hormones, in addition to getting adequate quality sleep and managing stress levels, is proving to be a much more effective way to lose weight.

While most people can be classified into one of four body types—apple, pear, hourglass and box (or carrot)—the predominant two body types are apple and pear. The location and type of body fat in these two body types are driven by specific hormones and have numerous health implications.

Forever Fat Loss for Men

Brett Klika, CEO of SPIDERfit Kids May 12, 2017 News

Who is that guy in the mirror?

If a blanket of body fat now hides your once lean, chiseled physique, you’re not alone.

An analysis of large population medical-assessment data comparing body mass index and percentage of body fat suggests the average American male is now about 28% body fat. Male body-fat percentages over about 20% start to carry with them increased risks for morbidity and mortality.

But before you hop on the diet and exercise trend roller coaster, it’s important to understand some of the physiological and even cultural reasons why men gain body fat as they age. With this understanding, proper exercise and nutritional steps can be taken to end struggles with fat loss once and for all.

Men and Fat Metabolism

While men’s metabolic processes tend to be associated with higher morbidity and mortality compared to women, they are at a metabolic advantage when it comes to burning fat, particularly at rest. Due to a favorable hormonal profile for building and maintaining lean muscle, men have more lean muscle mass, which means they burn more calories, both at rest and during exercise.

However, as hormonal profiles begin to change as men reach their thirties, lean muscle mass begins to decrease. By the age of 50, it appears to decrease roughly 1-2% per year.

On average, men consume more calories then women. This is due, in part, to the fact that greater amounts of lean muscle mass have a metabolic need for more calories. However, it is also affected by cultural norms, which associate a large appetite with masculinity, regardless of metabolic need for calories.

The most widely accepted and effective interventions for fat loss are similar for men and women. However, keeping a male’s specific physiology in mind while overcoming social and cultural misguidances can offer a blueprint for long-term fat loss.

Here are four “forever fat loss” strategies for men to maximize their physiology, hone their psychology and end frustration forever.

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