Monday, February 29, 2016

Eat Out Italian, and Lose Weight

Our culture loves to eat. Dining out is a social event where we relax, enjoy food good, and enjoy great conversations with friends. American’s are eating out more than ever and unfortunately it is resulting in an obesity epidemic. We all know eating at home is more calorie conscious, but it also is not always feasible. Is it possible to eat out regularly and still lose weight?

Let’s say you want to be weight conscious Friday night when eating at an Italian restaurant. You are going out with friends so you want to enjoy yourself but you still want to make health choices. 

You arrive at the restaurant hungry and fresh bread is placed on the table so you enjoy just one piece (80 calories) with a small amount of butter (40 calories). You practice good willpower and  resist a second piece of bread.

You skip the heavy appetizers and order a Caesar salad. Recognizing it has a lot of oil and cheese you only eat half (200 calories). Your plan is to limit starches so you order Chicken Marsala with steamed vegetables and no pasta. It is so good you eat three-quarters (575 calories).

You are having a great time with friends and enjoy 2 glasses of wine (250 calories). Your friends want to order dessert but you resist. You made some great decisions to cut out calories, but your total intake was still 1145 calories, way over your goal.

People following a 2000 calorie diet need about 500-600 calories at meals. People trying to lose weight with lower calorie goals need even less. Is it possible to eat out and still lose weight? It is if you stick to your calorie goals. Try this approach the next time you go out for Italian…

Eat an apple or another small healthy snack 1-2 hours before dinner so you don’t arrive at the   restaurant starving. Skip the bread altogether and enjoy only 1 glass of wine (125 calories). If you feel the need for an appetizer try a bowl of     minestrone soup (110 calories). Order a grilled salmon salad (without cheese, avocado, nuts, or dried fruit) with clear dressing on the side to use sparingly. Plan to eat about 1/2 the salmon and most of the salad (350 calories). Skip dessert and you are at 585 calories for the night. Skip the wine or soup and you are even less!

Many restaurants are now offering entrees under 600 calories which are great choices to select. Restaurants such as Harvest and Season’s 52 pride themselves in offering entire menu’s under 500 calories making them wonderful options for a night out with friends. Learning to eat all foods in moderation is important for a healthy lifestyle, and selecting smaller portions and lower calorie menu items sets you up for success in fitting the battle of the bulge.

Calories at Popular Italian Restaurants
1 glass wine 125Caesar Salad 400Tiramisu 510Lobster Ravioli 700Chicken Marsala 700Chicken Parmesan 850Salmon with Lemon & Herbs 990Steak & Gorgonzola Salad 1200Lasagna 1820Gnocchi 1870Fettuccini Alfredo 2000Mussels Diavolo 2310*these are general estimates, portion sizes and cooking methods vary  greatly among restaurants

Dining Out Strategies
Look up the menu and nutrition information before going out to eat
Order soup, salad, or healthy appetizers for your main entrée
Box up 1/2 or 3/4 of your entrée before you start eating
Ask for no cheese to cut out 100 calories per slice
Order salad dressing, sauce, and toppings on the side
Select items that are baked, grilled, broiled, poached, or steamed

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cheers to Good Health

Aging is a state of mind, and protecting our mind starts with the food and drinks we consume every day. One of the most powerful ways we can enhance memory, mental alertness, and slow brain aging is by drinking green tea regularly.

With over 4,000 years of use, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. There are three main types of tea: green, black, and oolong. The difference is in how the teas are processed. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves helping to retain the highest amount of antioxidants to protect against chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Tea also contains catechins which makes blood less sticky helping to further reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Catechins can also reduce free radical damage and some studies show it may help prevent breast, prostate, and GI tract related cancers.

Green tea has the highest catechin content, about 375 mg per cup, followed by black tea with about 210 mg per cup. Decaffeinated green and black teas appear to have the same benefits as regular.

Studies have also shown people who drink at least one cup of tea daily have higher bone mineral density helping to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. There are many properties in tea which could contribute to strong bones; fluoride being the best known can also help prevent cavities as well. Too much fluoride can be a problem, so it is best to limit tea to 4 cups or less daily.

Adding milk to tea blocks the absorption of catechins so this should be avoided. Sugar and alternative sweeteners do not  appear to effect catechin absorption, although consuming these in moderation is best.

Studies show tea is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against many diseases and enhance mental function. Enjoy green tea regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Does chocolate have health benefits? Or is it all a myth?

Media attention on dark chocolate research and potential health benefits has increased sales of dark chocolate, fueling a 93% growth in the market. If you are looking to justify some indulgences this Valentine’s Day scientists have uncovered health benefits in cocoa. But before you grab a chocolate bar or a slice of chocolate cake it is important to understand not all chocolate is healthy.

Chocolate comes from harvesting cocoa beans and combining them with ingredients such as sugar, milk, and butter to make the tasty treats we love. 

Studies show cocoa contains powerful phytochemicals which can improve blood flow, increase flexibility of arteries, lower blood pressure, reduce clumping of platelets, and increase brain alertness. Some studies show people who ate dark chocolate regularly had a 50% reduction in heart disease risk.

One promising study gave middle-aged sedentary mice epicatechin, a compound in cocoa, twice daily. Half the mice exercised daily and the other half did not. After 15 days all mice performed an exercise test. Mice who never exercised but consumed epicatechin performed better than mice not fed the compound but who exercised daily. The top performers were mice who did both, consumed epicatechin and exercised.

The epicatechin appeared to increase capillaries as well as mitochondria which produce cellular energy, even in mice who never ran during the 15 day study. Mice are not people, but this study provides evidence of chocolate increasing athletic performance even in sedentary conditions. The human dosage equivalent to the mice consumption is 1/6th of an ounce or 1/2 a dark chocolate square.

Most chocolate is highly processed, meaning it has a lot of added ingredients such as sugar, fat, and preservatives which are not healthy and can lead to weight gain. Heavily processed dark chocolate is also lower in phytochemicals and does not provide the same health benefits as minimally processed dark chocolate or pure cocoa powder. When purchasing dark chocolate look for over 70% cocoa to receive some health benefits and select the least processed varieties. One of our favorite ways to enjoy the health benefits is mixing 3 tbs of unsweetened cocoa powder into oatmeal for breakfast. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Winter Sports Workouts

Is the winter weather giving you cabin fever? We all love to be warm and toasty indoors, but spending time outside in nature can improve cognitive function and overall sense of well-being. Winter sports are a great way to stay active in the cold weather and burn off extra calories from the holidays.

Downhill skiing, also called alpine skiing, is a great way to engage your core, leg muscles, and arms. With mountains less than two hours from Philadelphia it is a great activity for the entire family. The best part is after 60 minutes of moderate downhill skiing a 185 lbs person can burn 530 calories! Are you more of a snowboarder? The same amount of calories are burned per hour making it a great workout as well.

Ice skating is easy on joints because it is low Impact. It can also improve balance and
coordination by engaging many small stabilizer muscles which are not typically engaged in day-to-day life. Skating can improve strength and help improve performance in other activities such as skiing, running, and yoga. Our same 185 lb person can burn a whopping 615 calories in 60 minutes of  moderate ice skating! The Blue Cross River Rink is open daily until the end of February so bundle up, get out there, and skate away.

Snow shoeing improves cardiovascular endurance while building strength and agility. Two studies conducted by Ball State University and the University of Vermont found snow shoeing can burn twice the number of calories as walking at the same pace, up to 1,000 calories per hour! The harder the terrain the greater the workout will be. Buckman’s in King of Prussia, Doylestown, and Ardmore rent snow shoes which is good to keep in mind when the next snow storm hits.

This winter get out there and have fun with winter sports. Enjoy the fresh air, the beauty of nature, and the calorie burning potential!

Ski Resorts in Pennsylvania

· Blue Mountain 86 miles from Philly

· Jack Frost 90 miles from Philly

· Camelback 102 miles from Philly

· Bear Creek 107 miles from Philly

· Alpine Mountain 109 miles from Philly

· Montage Mountain 122 miles from Philly

· Elk Mountain 149 miles from Philly

· Whitetail 183 miles from Philly