Speed Up Your Metabolism

runWith summer here and swimsuit season underway, you may look to cut out a few pounds as quickly as possible before the rest of the season fads away. Here are a few ways to speed up your metabolism to shed weight:

1. Lift weights. Tomorrow the calendars turn to July, usually the hottest month of the year; you may decide to avoid the heat and head indoors. This is the perfect opportunity to lift more. Did you know a pound of muscle burns six calories and a pound of fat only two? Try whole body lifting workouts done in a rapid pace for 30 minutes. You’ll boost your metabolism and lifting weights is just as important as a long run.

2. Try HIITs. This type of training was voted as the number one new trend in workouts. HITTS stands for High Intensity Interval Training, meaning you’ll do short, quick bouts of training. Try the following workout on the treadmill:

5 minute warm up
2 minutes tempo
2 minutes interval
2 minutes cool down
Repeat 4 times, each tempo and interval run going faster than the last time. Make your fourth time as fast as possible
5 minute cool down. It’s okay to walk the cool down.

3. Keep water with you at all times. Whether you are driving in your car, heading to work meeting or watching television, keep a water bottle with you and always be filling up on H20, as the heat will hydrate you so you can make it through tough workouts. If water doesn’t excited you, try adding fruit or powder for flavor.

4. Add in some green tea, especially if you get a little bored with water. Why green tea? According to research, drinking two to four cups of green tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories during moderately intense exercise. It’s cheap, too.

Try a few of these to slim down for the rest of summer.



New Food Labels for 2014

 Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thanks to nutrition supporters such as First Lady Michelle Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, the food label is changing for the first time in 20 years.

Unveiled last Thursday at a White House event, the new label emphasizes sugar and calories. For runners like yourself, this allows you to make more informed decisions about what you put into your body.

The changes include the following:

– More prominently displayed calorie counts. Dummy labels released to the public show calories in bold and in larger font.

– More realistic serving sizes. Some product labels trick you into thinking there aren’t many calories in a serving; but if you look at actual serving size, it’s so small. For example, a serving labeled half a cup of ice cream would become one cup–the size most people would consume in one sitting.

–  Differentiation of sugar. Currently, product labels include the proportion of sugar but they do not differentiate between added sugar, such as corn syrup, and natural sugars.

– The addition of “per package” as well as “per serving”. If you aren’t good at math, this will help spell out calorie counts for you.

– The substitution of potassium and vitamin D on the labels for vitamins A and C. Research shows Americans can get the required amounts of vitamins A and C by following a standard diet, but they lack proper amounts of potassium and vitamin D.

The White House administration stated that the product relabeling could cost upward of $2 billion to implement, but over the next 20 years, the benefits will measure $20 to $30 billion with lower obesity rates, lower healthcare bills, and higher productivity as people will be healthier in general.

Recent reports state that obesity rates among the youth are down and continue dropping. Hopefully such product label changes will continue this path and help adults with obesity rates as well.




The Trouble With Trans Fats

Trans fats are, or were, everywhere. This artificially created form of fat has been used to fry foods, to flavor foods and even as a food itself. You’re probably most familiar with trans fats as shortening or butter substitutes but you’ve likely eaten a lot more of these sneaky fats than you realize. In the 1990s, though, research revealed just how bad for you trans fats are and since them the FDA and other organizations have been working to limit the amount of trans fats in our foods. Most recently, the FDA has taken the initial steps towards what could effectively be a ban on trans fats. What are these maligned substances and why is everyone out to get them?


What They Are and What They Do

As mentioned, trans fats don’t generally occur in nature, apart from a few very rare occasions. Usually, trans fats are created by adding hydrogen to a vegetable oil to increase its shelf-life. This carries over to the food that the oil is then added to, acting as a preservative while giving the food a less greasy feel than other fats.

Here’s the problem: Trans fats are terrible for you. Although scientists aren’t really sure why, the simple addition of hydrogen gives the oil the dangerous ability greatly increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while lowering your HDL (good) cholesterol. In the long run, this can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.


Tricky Labels

It’s pretty plain, then, that trans fats should be avoided as much as possible. So, like the health-conscious consumer that you are, you’re going to carefully check all the labels on your foods, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

The FDA has a strange little rule that allows food manufacturers to label their product as containing 0g trans fat as long as the food has less than 0.5g per serving. While a half a gram really isn’t much, if you have multiple servings that could easily add up and bring you way above healthy levels.

In fact, many experts don’t think there are any “healthy levels” of trans fats and insist that the substance should be avoided completely.

To get around these tricky labels and bring your trans fat intake closure to the healthy level of zero, try sticking to whole foods. Be especially careful with processed, mass-produced baked goods like cookies or cakes.

Look out for “partially hydrogenated oil” as well. This invasive ingredient could also means that there’s a touch of trans fat lurking in your meal.






Having a Tough Time Understanding Nutrition Labels?

 Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Determining fat content, serving size, pronouncing ingredients–nutrition labels are often so confusing. But a recent bill introduced by three democrats on Sept. 19th may offer some help for those who just don’t understand labels. This legislation, introduced to the Senate, would require processed foods and drinks to produce certain changes.

Regulators would create a key for extra visuals and allow you to more easily determine the nutritional content of a food product. For example, cues and symbols would designate just how healthy a product really is, all based on its caloric content, amount of fat and other criteria. This should aid in the deception some products use to appear healthy, but really are not.

For example, if a good is labeled with grains, it would need to specify the ratio to total grains. Any added sugar would also have to be disclosed right on the label. This makes any product claiming to be healthy really have to prove it actually is healthy. It’s a win for consumers, especially as we’ve been duped by many so called “organic” and “low fat” food products before now.

In addition, labels would get a redesign, hopefully making the ingredients easier to see*:








This is all part of the Proposed Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2013. “The Food Labeling Modernization Act is a comprehensive approach to updating labels so that consumers have the clear, consistent information they need when making important decisions about the food they buy and give to their families,” says Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)**




Should You Be Juicing?

One of the fastest growing trends in the health and fitness world right now is juicing. While no by any means new, juicing seems to be everywhere now, with people buying bottled fruit and vegetable cocktails or mixing just up their own at home in specially designed machines. With all this attention towards the juicing movement, it begs the question: Is it worth it?


Easy Way to Grab More Greens

The most important benefit that comes along with juicing your fruits and vegetables is that, obviously, it gets you to eat your fruits and vegetables. This is a big deal when you consider that the Centers for Disease Control reports that the average American only eats about 1 serving of fruits and vegetables per day.

Often, though, juicing doesn’t just bring you up to the minimum requirement, you’ll sore right past it. Since one juice can contain a huge number of varied fruits and veggies, you can conceivably drink, in a single sitting, much more than you would be able to eat in a full day.


Other Claims

But the supporters of juicing have taken the claims of what it can do way beyond just boosting your green intake. Juicing has been credited with everything from reducing the risk of heart disease to curing cancer and all of this hinges on the idea that juicing isolates the micronutrients, making them easier for your body to absorb.

The fact is that many of the healing properties associated with juicing are more accurately ascribed to eating more greens in general. Don’t forget that those amazing healing substances found in juice are only there because they were first in the whole plant. There is no proof that juicing makes it easier for your body to make use of these chemicals, either. In fact, the very opposite might be true.


The Downside

According to the American Council on Exercise, the process of juicing can actually greatly reduce the concentration of those highly beneficial chemicals by exposing them to heat, light and oxygen. Additionally, many of these chemicals are contained in the skin of fruits, like apples, which is removed during juicing.

In reality, juicing may mean that you’re sacrificing many of the benefits of your fruits and veggies for convenience. The American Council on Exercise uses the example of one large apple compared to the juice of the same apple to illustrate this point. Both contain roughly the same calories, about 116, but the whole apple offers 5.5g of fiber while the juice will only give you about .5g.

As mentioned, there are no grounds to the claims that fiber stops your body from absorbing other useful chemicals so the lose of fiber isn’t a good thing. The dietary fiber found in plants helps to fill you up and calm your appetite so, without it, you’re likely to be hungry soon after enjoying your juice.


In Its Place

Does this mean that juicing is useless? No, of course not. What it does mean is that it is not a complete substitute for eating the whole food. However, juices can still be an incredibly useful tool to help you get your fruits and vegetables in during a particularly busy day.

Juicing isn’t a magic bullet but, used properly, can help you maintain a health diet.