Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

The Confusing World of Nutrition Bars

ThinkstockPhotos-614978722.jpgThere are so many nutrition bars out there that I am sure it can be a challenge to pick one that is the best. So how do you know if the bar you are choosing is the healthiest option for you?

With anything, when it comes to your food and nutrition, the key is moderation and balance. You should be choosing a bar that you like the taste of and that works for your schedule and habits. The goal is to try to eat as many whole, fresh foods as possible and decrease the packaged foods with giant ingredients lists of things you might have trouble pronouncing. However, these bars can be a nice backup for snacks to keep in your purse, car, gym bag, or desk drawer for those times when you need fuel and don’t have other options.

Choosing a Nutrition Bar

Here are some good rules of thumb to follow when it comes to these convenient bars.

Protein: Choose one with at least 5 grams and no more than 15 grams. This will help keep you full and is what makes these bars have more staying power than a regular granola bar or candy bar. Too much protein will make the bar have an unpleasant taste, or more ingredients will be added to cover the added protein taste. Also, this bar is intended to be a snack to hold you over until mealtime, and not to replace the quality protein you should be getting from meals.

Fiber: Choose one with more than 3 grams. Fiber is another thing that will help keep you full, so choosing a bar with staying power will help keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Fat: Choose one with mainly heart-healthy fat. Check the label and make sure the saturated and trans fat content is low and the majority of fat is coming from mono or polyunsaturated fats like you would find in nuts.

Carbohydrates: Choose one with mostly whole grains and 15 grams or less of sugar. This can be tricky because a lot of bars have added sugar to make them taste better. Try to steer away from the ones that are a fancy candy bar and choose one that is lower in sugar.

The Most Nutritious Bars

Here are a few bars that meet these requirements:

Was your favorite not on the list, or did it not meet the requirements? Remember, if you are choosing a nutrition bar occasionally, it can fit into a balanced diet and complement your healthy eating.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: nutrition snacks healthy eating fiber protein

Best Snacks for Healthy Eating

ThinkstockPhotos-88749380.jpgSome people think that snacking can sabotage your healthy eating plan. However, snacking keeps your energy levels up and prevents you from becoming overly hungry, which can lead to poor food choices. Eating every three to four hours can also help regulate your metabolism, which ensures that you burn calories throughout the day. Strive for at least two small snacks per day, but try to limit yourself to 100 to 150 calories or less per snack.

Also, be sure your snack is balanced—that it offers complex carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle building and repair, and a small amount of fat for satiety. You can ensure nutritional balance and prevent snack boredom by varying your daily choices.

Best Snacks for Great Nutrition

Here are some great snack choices:

  • 6 oz Greek yogurt topped with ½ cup of berries
  • ¾ cup of whole-grain cereal, nut, and dried fruit trail mix
  • 1 apple and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup yogurt smoothie made with real fruit
  • 1 oz. baked tortilla chips with ¼ cup bean dip
  • 2 oz. low-fat cheese on five whole-grain crackers
  • 1 whole-wheat tortilla with 1 oz. melted cheese and ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 cup raw vegetables and 2 Tbsp. low-fat dip or hummus
  • 1 Tbsp. nut butter on a banana
  • 1 cup berries topped with ¼ cup low-fat granola cereal
  • ¼ cup whole-grain cereal and ¼ cup raisins with ¼ cup skim milk
  • ¾ cup pasta salad made with raw veggies, cheese, and low-fat dressing
  • ½ pita pocket stuffed with raw vegetables and 1 slice low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat vegetable-bean soup
  • ½ turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • 1 handful almonds and ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cottage cheese and ½ cup pineapple
  • ½ peanut butter/banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • ½ whole-wheat English muffin toasted and topped with a slice of tomato and low-fat cheese

The Benefits of Snacks

You might feel guilty about snacking, but snacks aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, mini meals several times a day can be beneficial. Here’s how:

  • Binge control. If eating several low-fat, whole-grain crackers, a few pretzels, a piece of fruit, or some raw vegetables keeps you from taking second or third helpings at your next meal, you may actually consume fewer total calories for the day.
  • Extra energy and nutrients. Traditional, made-at-home meals often lose out to busy schedules. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and none at all.
  • Satisfaction for small appetites. Young children’s tiny stomachs can hold only small portionsof food at a time. Older adults who are less active and who burn fewer calories also may feel comfortable eating smaller meals more frequently.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

 

Topics: snacks nutrition healthy eating protein fiber weight control

Start Your Day Off Right with a High-Nutrition Breakfast

ThinkstockPhotos-dv2014027.jpgIf it’s the most important meal of the day, why do about 31 million people or 10% of the population still skip breakfast? Here are the top three reasons people give for skipping breakfast and how you can overcome those excuses to make eating a high nutrition breakfast be a part of your daily routine.

  • I’m just not hungry in the morning. You should wake up in the morning and be hungry. Your body has gone at least 8 hours without food, so it should be ready for some fuel. If not, take a look at your before-bedtime habits and check to see whether you are constantly having snacks like chips and ice cream late into the evening. If so, this can affect your hunger levels in the morning. Don’t go to bed hungry, but instead choose a reasonable snack around 100–150 calories like Greek yogurt or an apple with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter.
  • I don’t have time for breakfast. If you would rather hit the snooze button a few more times than prepare breakfast for yourself, you might find yourself without enough time to eat in the morning. The key is to aim for three food groups at a meal, so even if you grab a turkey sandwich and a banana as you run out the door, you are still starting your day right. The key is to combine some protein and whole grains to help give you energy and keep you full. Breakfast is also a great time to get in a dairy or fruit serving too! If time is an issue, use this recipe for Breakfast Egg Muffins to prepare breakfast for the whole week. Add an egg to an English muffin and grab a glass of milk or piece of fruit to go with it and you are set!
  • I want to save my calories for later in the day. Some people think if they skip breakfast it will help with their weight-loss efforts or it gives them more calories to consume at lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A recent study compared two groups: one ate more for breakfast and the other ate more at dinner, with both consuming the same amount of calories. The breakfast group lost more weight and inches than the dinner group. Typically people who skip breakfast overcompensate the rest of the day by eating more calories than if they had started their day with a balanced meal.

Whatever your reason for skipping breakfast is, try to break that habit and start eating something every day for better nutrition all day. Start small with a glass of 100% juice or a piece of fruit and then work up to a balanced meal between 400 and 500 calories and at including least three food groups.

Benefits of meeting with a nutrition coach >

Topics: weight loss breakfast snacks nutrition

Nutrition and Weight Loss: Why Is It So Hard to Stick to a Diet?

ThinkstockPhotos-157175948.jpgIt has been found that up to 50% of women in the US are on a diet at any given time. Americans spend more than $60 billion on weight loss products. So with all of these individuals spending money and dieting, why are we still by far the least healthy country in the world?

Most of the reasons are due to the extreme and unrealistic expectations that diets force individuals to follow. So why is it so hard to stick to a diet?

  • Trying to change your life and not making it a lifestyle change: Anything that has a start and end date when it comes to food choices doesn’t make it a lifestyle change. If you think of it as “I only have to get through this for the next x amount of time,” this isn’t something that you could or should maintain for a lifetime. Learning how to eat meals and snacks that will nourish your body for the rest of your life leads to success for the long-term.
  • All-or-nothing mentality: Are you on a diet or completely off of one at all times? The key is balance. Allowing yourself to have all foods in moderation at all times has been found to be the most successful “diet” there is. Enjoying foods that you would normally think of as forbidden, but making sure to balance it with the good-for-you everyday foods is key. Instead of cheat meals or days, toss that thinking out and enjoy any food at any time.
  • No patience: Change is tough. Trying to completely overhaul your diet is a recipe for disaster! Instead, have patience by making small changes that will last. One week start trying to incorporate more vegetables into your diet and figure out how you can make that a new habit. Once you have achieved that, move on to another goal such as packing lunch three times per week instead of one. Slow and steady changes have been found to be more effective, and you are more likely to stick to them.
  • Not nourishing your body: When you are walking around hungry, it is really hard to stick to a restrictive diet that has a lot of do’s and don’ts. A balanced diet that incorporates whole grains, lean protein, fruits and veggies, and low-fat dairy will help to make you feel full and satisfied and able to get through the day without the hunger pangs or guilt feelings for overeating. Aim for three food groups at mealtimes and two at snacks to guarantee a satisfying and balanced diet.

Studies vary, but between 5% and 20% of individuals that lose weight are successful at keeping it off long term. Those that are the most successful report following a balanced diet, self regulation by checking their weight once per week, averaging one hour per day of physical activity, eating breakfast, and maintaining consistent eating patterns across weekdays and weekends. Follow these tips to help add yourself to the list of successful dieters!

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Topics: nutrition weight loss diet lunch snacks