The Myth of Healthy Cereal Bars

It has recently come to the attention of the public that cereal bars are not the healthy snack they advertise themselves to be. All together now – duuhhhh.

Eating cereal bars as a snack or meal is a bad idea for several reasons. First of all they are high in sugar and saturated fat. Secondly their sweetness actually increases appetite which means you will eat more during the day. Finally, they are very compact and as such do not fill you up and satiate your hunger. The feeling of being full is brought about by expanding the stomach with food. One tiny cereal bar isn’t going to do much. If you look at the amount of calories in a cereal bar, it contains about as much as a foot-long bunch of celery – which is going to make you feel much fuller.

Although we knew that they were unhealthy, the findings by a recent study of a range of cereal bars are quite shocking. Some of them – such as those made by Nutri-Grain and Monster Puffs – contain more sugar than a small can of coca-cola. A lot of them contained as much as 30% sugar and 45% fat.

The sale of these types of cereal bars relies on two misconceptions, namely that anything with the word ‘cereal’ in it is healthy and that anything you eat whilst walking doesn’t count. Take an objective stance the next time you chew on a gelatinous cereal bar – doesn’t it taste suspiciously like a cake or a muffin? A particularly honey glazed fattening muffin? That’s because it is. Remember the old dictum that if it tastes good you shouldn’t eat it.

Bodybuilding Hunger

Do you find yourself in a constant state of hunger? If so the solution might not be to eat more but to just change your lifestyle. The usual advice for people plagued by post workout hunger pangs is to drink plenty of water and increase fibre. However, to a lot of people this just isn’t good enough and the stomach won’t be fooled by filling it with excessive amounts of water.

One reason your hunger may be disproportionately large is that you have been taking low heart rate cardio to extremes. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do cardio, but rather that you should do shorter sessions at higher heart rates. If you keep pumping away at 50% of your maximum heart rate for hours on end then your hunger will spike and you will end up eating more than the cardio burned. This was recently verified in a study conducted on marathon cyclists who produced a surprisingly high amount of a hunger inducing chemical (ghrelin) in their bodies as a result of 2 hours of low-level exercise. On the other hand the same cyclists produced a mere fraction of the same chemical after a shorter burst of high intensity activity. This once again demonstrates the advantage of interval training over endurance cardio.

Another reason you could be hungrier than expected is that you’re not getting enough sleep. Ghrelin will rise significantly if you get less than your recommended amount of hours and you will have more difficulty sticking to your diet. The effect of sleep is surprisingly strong and you will feel the effects of one bad night’s sleep for a week.

One obvious hunger stimulator is the amount of high calorie sweet foods you see around you, such as on television and other people’s plates. The less temptation you are exposed to the less you will stray from your diet. Obviously smell is a powerful factor in this and a whiff of something glazed is enough to get your stomach complaining.

What Is Organic Food

The term organic is thrown around a lot in commercials, magazines and on food labels, but if you ask the average person what an organic strawberry really is chances are they won’t know. After all, it’s hard to imagine what an inorganic strawberry would look like.

The term organic is misleading and only means that the food wasn’t treated with pesticides or other artificial elements during production, and wasn’t exposed to any radiation or chemical supplements. So what’s the difference between organic and non-organic food? Is it really better for you? As it turns out, organic food is yet another fad in the diet and health market and advertising companies are latching on to the fact by promoting the organic factor to an ever greater degree. In actuality, there has been no conclusive study determining what difference (if any) exists in terms of health benefits between organic and non organic food. Organic producers have also failed to demonstrate any measurable difference in the taste of their food.

The fact that organic food isn’t treated with pesticides is irrelevant as long as you wash the food thoroughly before consuming. The absence of pesticide also means the presence of worms and insects is increased, which can make the dining experience rather unpleasant.

The term organic is not only applied to fruits and vegetables, but also to livestock that has not been fed or treated with articifial substances or antibiotics. Exact definitions of what percentage quantities of artificial substances constiture non organic food is regulated in the US, the EU, Australia and Japan by agricultural governing authorities.

One survey suggested that although organic food does not show any demonstrable advantage to consumers, the farms that produce the foods are more environmentally friendly. This is because organic farms tend to use less energy per square km and produce less waste. They also introduce less pesticides into the soil and water, which can have long term damaging effects to the local ecosystem.

All Calories Are Not Created Equally

Evidence is gathering at an increasing pace for the destruction of old calorie counting diets. When reading nutrition labels, it seems that comparing calorific content is not particularly meaningful, without further information about the substance in question – i.e. 100 calories from a chocolate bar is not the same as 100 calories from celery.

This seems to destroy any diet that limits daily calorie intake, such as the old rule about 2000 kcal for men and 1500 kcal for women. So with that model out the window, what exactly should you be counting in your diet? It turns out that the combination of foods that we consume is just as (or even more) important as the individual constituents. Your metabolic rate is affected by how you mix and match your meals – which introduces a whole new level of complexity. This ties in well with what your grandmother used to say about having as many different colors as possible on your plate.

Combining your foods correctly has a great advantage over mainstream portion control diets, in that this method does not slow down your metabolism. Usually when people want to lose weight they reduce their intake in terms of size and not quality of food. This results in a slower metabolic burn rate, which in turn increases hunger – making any resultant weight loss difficult to maintain. However, if the types and combinations of foods are altered but the quantity remains the same, then you won’t feel the urge to snack.

So what foods should you combine with one another for the most effective weight loss? Keep carbs to a minimum, but don’t cut them out completely – especially in the morning. Combine this low amount of carbs with a relatively large helping of protein. Between meals, have different fruits and vegetables, as well as the occasional nuts and grains. This will keep your insulin levels from spiking and make your road to weight loss less painful and more effective.

Is a Gluten Free Diet Healthy?

Is a Gluten Free Diet Healthy

The answer to this is, perhaps unsurprisingly, rather complicated. For most people a moderate amount of gluten in their diets won’t cause any problems. People who suffer from celiac sprue, an autoimmune disease of the digestive system, need to avoid gluten entirely. There is also a small percentage of the population that doesn’t suffer from celiac sprue but that still needs to avoid gluten due to heightened sensitivity or wheat allergies. Some health conscious individuals also choose to avoid gluten as a life style choice, as this makes it easier to stick to their weight loss programs.

Gluten is found in processed foods, such as white flour, pasta, bread and cereal. Healthy alternatives to these foods are brown flour, quinoa, rye bread and rolled oats. Those wishing to avoid gluten can also opt for brown rice, corn, yams, soybeans and buckwheat.

Is a Gluten Free Diet Healthy

The reason why a gluten-free diet helps people to lose weight is not necessarily because they avoid consuming gluten, but rather because they avoid the foods that are commonly associated with gluten. For instance, if you follow a gluten free-diet, you won’t be able to eat most junk foods, such as hamburgers, pizzas and indeed any deep fried dishes. By avoiding these overdoses of carbohydrates, calories and fat you will make your dieting goals much easier to reach. Remember that it is carbohydrates that make you pack on the pounds, not gluten, as carbohydrates cause your insulin levels to spike, which in turn sends signals to the body that it should store food in the form of fat.

So in answer to the question ‘is a gluten-free diet healthy?’, the answer is yes, but not because you’re avoiding gluten. It’s not the gluten, but the foods that contain gluten, which will make you gain weight. So you can use the presence of gluten as a guideline as to whether a certain type of food is good for you or not, as long as you keep in mind who the real enemy is – carbs.

Raw Eggs For Protein

Raw Eggs For Protein

Is it better to eat eggs raw or cooked? Does cooking an egg make a difference to the amount of protein you get from it? Taking data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, a raw egg contains 12.56g of protein per 100g (http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/111). According to the same Library, a hard-boiled egg contains 12.58g of protein per 100g (http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/117). This means there is a difference of 0.02 grams of protein between a raw and hard-boiled egg. If you consider the uncertainty in these numbers, and the fact that individual eggs will vary in protein content, this is a truly insignificant difference. So there you have it – Rocky could have saved himself the awful taste of raw eggs and just cooked them like normal people.

Raw Eggs For Protein

Even for those people that insist that raw eggs provide better quality protein, this is hardly worth the risk, considering the chance of salmonella poisoning. You may go many years without being adversely affected by raw eggs, but if you get salmonella your bodybuilding progress will be set back by many months.

If you want to get the most protein out of your eggs, you should consider eating only the egg whites, and throwing away the yolks. According to the USDA website, 100g of egg whites contain 10.9 grams of protein and 52 calories, making a ratio of 0.21. On the other hand, 100g of egg yolks contain 15.86g of protein and 322 calories, making a ratio of 0.05. This means you are getting about four times less protein per calorific content with yolks, rather than egg whites.

It is true that there are some benefits to the yolks, such as vitamins and minerals, but they are also high in cholesterol and calories. Furthermore, vegetables are a much more efficient source of vitamins and minerals. So consider limiting yourself to two or three egg yolks per week, and stick with egg whites the rest of the time.

Low Calorie Alcoholic Drinks

So the weekend has come along and after all it’s been a long week, and you’re looking forward to happy hour and a small break from your diet. But what most people do not realize is that a night on the town and the calories in Alcohol can do some pretty serious damage. Still, going out with your friends and hitting the bars does not have to be a diet downer. With a little planning and foresight you can avoid diet disaster, and below I have listed some low calorie alcoholic drinks you should look at.

Most of us never realize how easy it is to overdo it. It’s pretty obvious to most of us that fast food and desserts are fattening. But when it comes to alcoholic drinks, sometimes the nutrition (or lack thereof) just doesn’t seem to matter. Nevermind that a single cocktail can do more damage than a McDonald’s grilled chicken burger. In fact, 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories, compared with only 4 for a gram of carbohydrates or protein. Drinks are always typically overlooked as a source of weight gain and as result nobody looks out for low calorie alternatives. This is actually true for all drinks and not just alcohol. Below are some of the good and bad in terms of calories in alcoholic beverages. [Read more...]

Calories at Christmas

calories at christmas

Christmas is a well-known holiday for binge eating. It’s hard to stick to your diet when friends and family are gorging themselves around you. However, with some simple rules as outlined in our article below, you can minimize the negative effect of calories at Christmas. You’ll find that it isn’t necessary to say no to all of your favourite Christmas treats.

According to recent studies, women are the more susceptible gender when it comes to gaining weight over the Christmas holidays. An average woman gains approximately 2.3 kg over the holiday season. Although this is not a significant gain in absolute terms, it is enough to make you feel uncomfortable in your tighter fitting clothes, and maybe even enough to warrant searching for larger sizes. It is also quite disturbing that this happens over the relatively short time frame from Christmas through to New Years.

calories at christmas

One of the ways in which you start packing on the pounds at Christmas is through buffets. It is almost inevitable that you end up eating more than necessary, and even more than is enjoyable, if you do not have well-defined portions. This is why it is well-advised to drink two or three glasses of water before heading for the buffet. In addition, you can try eating a salad or your choice of low-calorie dish prior to the party. The worst thing you can do is arrive hungry.

Calories Christmas Dinner

calories christmas dinner

This is the one meal of the year where overeating is actively encouraged by society. Keep in mind that your Christmas dinner is a one off occasion, and as such you can allow yourself to eat more high-calorie foods than you are used to. The problem is that Christmas dinner tends to drag on for days! For one thing you’ll find yourself picking at the ingredients the morning of preparation. Then after the festivities are over you’ll be eating the leftovers for quite some time, and this is where the damage is done. Some studies have shown that the average person eats up to four times as much over the holiday season.

So how many calories are there in your average Christmas dinner? Obviously this will vary depending on exact ingredients and portions, but as a rough guide: a serving of roast turkey and stuffing will give you about 400 calories (kcal) on their own, with about 20g of fat. Roast potatoes with a side of gravy and cranberry sauce will provide an additional 200 kcal with 5g of fat. And for those of you who really like to indulge at this time of year, a helping of bread sauce, sausage and bacon will boost your intake by 250 kcal with 20g of fat. If you sum all of the above, and factor in the wine and desert, you’ll see why Santa needs all of seven reindeer to guide his sleigh.

Christmas Cake Calories

calories in christmas cake

Christmas cake is a very popular exception that people will allow themselves, as a reward for their otherwise strict diet during the rest of the year. It’s also one of those foods that people would rather not know about in terms of energy contents – but here it is anyway. Your average Christmas cake (60g) contains 220 calories (kcal) and over 5g of fat. The carb content is very high at 40g – that’s about two thirds of the total mass! And for those of you that thought they would at least be getting a dose of fibre – think again – there is barely over 1g of fibre in this serving size. But once again, don’t let that stop you if you really only have it once a year.

Christmas Cookies Calories

christmas cookies calories

Now this one is a real silent killer. The reason being first of all that they come in deceptively small portions, which can result in you consuming a hefty amount without even realising it. Secondly Christmas cookies are dangerous because they are not confined to the few days between Christmas and New Years, as you’ll find them being sold as early as November. Christmas cookies come in a variety of shapes, sizes and calorific content. The lowest calorie cookie is shortbread at 53 kcal per average serving, and the highest calorie cookie is the M&M cookie at approximately 200 kcal. So if you plan on snacking on these, make sure you read the package first.

Christmas Food Calories

christmas food calories

It’s hard to find a Christmas food that isn’t high in calories. The best advice if you’re going to a party and are conscious about your calorie intake, yet don’t want to appear obsessive to your friends, is to fill your plate with a variety of low fat side dishes. Go for the celery and the fruit instead of the potatoes and the stuffing. Another obvious tip is one that you should follow all year round: avoid sauces. It’s very easy to consume just as many calories through sauces as you do through the food itself. Tis the season to mix carbs – a well known recipe for weight gain. So if you do eat the potatoes, go easy on the bread and vice versa.

Calories Christmas Pudding

calories in christmas pudding

A celebrated desert, the Christmas pudding will be unavoidable at the table during the holiday season. Contrary to popular belief, traditional Christmas pudding isn’t that high in calories, averaging at under 300 kcal per 100g. to put this in perspective, this is less than most big brand breakfast cereals. The fat content isn’t that high either, at 4%. Carbohydrates account for just over 20% of Christmas pudding and the fibre is low at around 1%. So it turns out this is one Christmas food that you don’t have to feel that guilty about.

The main thing to remember during the Christmas holiday season, as throughout the year, is to approach your food intake with moderation and keep your calories down wherever possible. Keep track of what you’ve consumed and try to satisfy your hunger with lower calorie foods and several glasses of water prior to meals. And if you should stray too far from your goals, you’ve got several months to make good before swimsuit season starts!

Celery Nutrition

celery nutrition

Celery is universally acknowledged as a healthy and rather dull tasting vegetable. It is certainly an acquired taste, yet if you can get used to it, celery is a great source of vitamins. Celery nutrition guidelines usually quote approximately 16 celery calories per 100g, with trace amounts of saturated fat and high levels of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Some studies have claimed that celery nutrition benefits are outweighed by the relatively high levels of sodium, usually quoted at 80mg per 100g. However, the current consensus is that these levels of sodium are not harmful, unless consumed in excessive quantities. Furthermore, the sodium gained through consuming celery is organic and easily digestable. One aspect of celery that you should be aware of, is that a significant portion of its calories originate from sugars.

celery nutrition

One popular way to consume celery is in liquid form. The health benefits of celery juice are largely due to the fact that the body is able to absorb the liquid rapidly. However, it should be noted that plain water is absorbed at a higher rate. Celery juice nutrition facts also include the observation that the liquid is quite effective at neutralizing overly acidic stomach linings and intestinal tracts, due to its highly alkaline PH values. Celery juice has also been linked to reducing bad cholesterol levels in the body, as well as to overall improvements in digestion and blood pressure.

If you do not enjoy the taste of the raw vegetable, one way to introduce celery into your diet is through seasoning your regular meals with celery seeds. Celery seed nutrition data shows that it is highly beneficial to the circulatory and digestive systems. Celery seeds act as anti-oxidants, which aid in preventing inflammation. There have even been studies that have concluded that celery seeds can help to prevent carcinogenic growth under certain conditions.

Calories In Prunes

calories in prunes

One of the problems associated with eating dried fruits, such as prunes and raisins, is that one underestimates the total amount of calories consumed. For instance, the calories in prunes are more than expected, as one is consuming the same amount of food as if eating the untreated fruit. However, as the dried version has been drained of water, it is therefore smaller and does not seem as high in calories. This is a misconception, as the amount of calories in, for example, raisins is the same as in grapes. Yet one would never consume the same amount of grapes as raisins, due to their larger size.

It is this ‘density’ in calories that tricks the stomach into not feeling full, despite actually having consumed a significant amount of nutrition. It is this same phenomenon that renders prunes and raisins dangerous foods to snack on. It is quite easy to consume an entire packet of raisins and not feel satiated.

The calories in dried prunes vary according to type. However, a commonly accepted value is approximately 240 kcal per 100g. The standard serving quantity is taken to be around 50g, which corresponds to about six prunes of average weight. One aspect of prunes nutrition that is often omitted in dietary guides is the fact that they act as a reasonably powerful laxative. Therefore, it is quite possible that the calories gained through the prunes themselves, are compensated by the effective increase in metabolic rate.

calories in prunes

If this laxative effect is the only effect desired, then one popular way of reducing the amount of calories is to consume only prune juice. This is achieved by soaking prunes in water for a few hours in order to drain the fruit of its juice. This will achieve a good result, whilst cutting out the calories contained in the meat of the prunes.

Experts on nutrition recommend not consuming more than three or four prunes on any given day. More important than quantity, is the regularity with which one eats them. This will optimise their positive dietary attributes, whilst minimizing any discomfort caused by over consumption.

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