What is a Processed Food, Really?

processed food

Almost all food is processed to some degree; the differences between processed food products lie within the ingredient list. If you have ever seen the back of most food packaging labels, you have probably seen that it has both “Nutrition Facts” and “Ingredients” sections. Many consumers may say they feel overwhelmed by all the words they see and that is completely understandable! Ingredient lists reside near the bottom of a food label. Many of the words are understandable, but some may be completely unrecognizable.

In this blog, you will learn the relationship of the nutrition facts section to the ingredients section. Additionally, we’ll compare some food products based on their ingredient list as some examples and you will learn some tips for reading food labels and the significance of some specific ingredients used often in products. 

 

Important Ingredients to Look for

As mentioned, there are key components to pay attention to on a nutrition facts label. 

Added Sugars

Added sugars were added to the nutrition facts label so that people could make informed choices based on their needs. What is not told, is that “Added Sugars” is not synonymous with the ingredients list. There are many terms for sugar, such as: 

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Corn syrup (50% sugar, 50% oligosaccharides)
  • Terms ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
  • Fruit concentrate, which fruit without the pulp or skin. This removes the fiber and vitamins, leaving only sugar in the form of fructose. (1) (2)

Artificial Sweeteners

Like sugar, there are a number of names and types for artificial sweeteners that are added to products to add sweetness while providing no added sugar. Some examples of artificial sweeteners are: saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. (3) Numerous studies have mentioned that artificially sweetened foods and beverages can be a great alternative to limit sugar intake and mention some benefits, but also some drawbacks: 

  • Confuse the brain because body is not receiving calories for perceived sweetness
  • Make you eat more to feel full/increase hunger
  • May disrupt balance of gut bacteria
  • Easy alternative to decreasing sugar consumption, can help with weight control
  • Can help with reducing added sugar intake 

There is some research that links artificial sweeteners to issues with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased cravings. While artificial sweeteners are generally considered safe, much of the insight mentioned requires more research on the effects of artificial sweeteners. (3)

 

Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum

Guar gum contains high amounts of fiber and to reduce levels of blood pressure. The fiber thickens and binds foods. Excess consumption may cause some symptoms like gas, bloating, or cramps. (4)

Xanthan gum is another common additive meant to thicken or stabilize food. There is some research that ties xanthan gum to reduced levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. It is possible someone may experience digestive issues like gas and bloating when consumed in excess. (5)

 

Other Ingredients to Note

Nitrites/Nitrates: Good for preservation in processed meats to prevent bacterial growth. They are linked to higher risk of cancers with high intake. (6) It is recommended to look for nitrate- or preservative-free foods.

Enriched Wheat: This term is usually a “buzzword” to make the ingredient seem better than it is. When wheat is “enriched,” it is processed to remove the bran and endosperm. This process causes the wheat item to lose much of its nutrient value. Look for 100% whole wheat varieties instead. 

Lecithin: Comes in powder or liquid forms from soybeans or dehydrated sunflowers. Lecithin provides a texture to help foods mix, such as incorporating a powder into liquid. Its research boasts a host of benefits, like reduced cholesterol. (7)

Natural Flavors: Natural flavors must originate from a plant or animal material and are used to enhance flavor. Natural flavors are still highly processed, can be sourced from genetically modified crops, and contain chemical additives, like preservatives and solvents. (8) The word “natural” contains many different meanings, although it is often understood as healthy.  

 

How can you Determine the Quality of a Food Item?

Now that we know more about some ingredient terms, here are some things to remember when reading the label: 

  • All foods must list their ingredients in order of predominance
  • First three to five ingredients are the most prominent. 
  • Don’t hang on any specific term to look out for (i.e sugar has a large list of names that all mean about the same thing)
  • Compare the ingredients to the nutrition facts.

Now that we know this, let us check out some products to compare!

 

Protein Bars

The protein bars mentioned are in “blueberry flavor,” except the MET-RX bar because they only had a fruit flavor in apple; this allows for consistency.

reading nutritional labelsprocessed foods and nutritional labels

RXBAR

If we look at the ingredient list, the first mentioned are dates – a fruit sugar and fiber. Following dates are egg whites, almonds, and blueberries. Natural flavors come last, indicating minimal amounts compared to all of the other ingredients in the protein bar.

CLIF BAR

Clif Bar highlights using whole ingredients for its products. Important points include:

  • No artificial sweeteners. 
  • In the list of ingredients, almost every other ingredient is a form of sugar; note that while “organic,” organic sugar is still sugar. 
  • Other ingredients listed near the top are organic rolled oats, an organic protein isolate (which is composed of 90% or more protein), and organic almonds. 

All these ingredients offer a good amount of nutrients. Clif Bar does have a slightly higher amount of sugar in it, but can provide great fuel for the body to tackle going for a jog, working out, and to gain weight. 

LUNA BAR

Similar to the ingredient lists on the Clif and MET-RX Bar, LUNA Bars have a longer list. However, most words are not difficult to understand. 

  • Compared to sodium in the RXBar (140 mg), Clif Bar (180 mg) and the MET-RX Bar (390 mg), the LUNA Bar (95 mg) has a low amount. 95 mg of sodium accounts for a small percentage of your daily averages.
  • The LUNA Bar puts its protein blend at the beginning, meaning the protein blend is the most predominant ingredient.
  • There is moderate amounts of carbohydrates, which primarily come from four sources of sugar. None of these sources are artificial. 

I would recommend this bar before going to the gym or on a run, like Clif Bar. LUNA bar could do okay as a midday snack because of its lower amount of sugars and high fat and protein.

MET-RX Bar

Deemed as the “meal-replacement bar,” MET-RX has a claim to fame for its high amount of protein. The sodium count on this bar is high too. This bar’s list is fairly daunting to look at, but the main thing to notice is the first half of the ingredient list makes up three ingredients. Let’s break it down: 

  1. “Soy crisps,” consist mostly of soy protein isolate.
  2. “Apple layer,” many sugar sources. 
  3. “Yogurt flavored coating” contains mainly cultured whey protein concentrate.
  4. Corn syrup 
  5. METAMYOSIN, a protein blend. 
  6. Maltitol syrup – a sugar alcohol (denoted by the -ol suffix). Maltitol syrup is a sweetener that contains some carbohydrates. 

This bar contains a lot of protein and carbohydrates, and a fairly high amount of saturated fat. This bar provides what it states, but there are many extra additives.  

 

Protein Powders

Quick Terms:

Concentrates are primarily about 70–80% protein and contain some lactose (milk sugar) and fat.

Isolate contains 90% protein, or higher, with less lactose and fat 

isolate nutritional labels

TGS Whey Protein

This is a blend of only whey protein concentrate and sunflower lecithin, an emulsifier that helps the whey mix together. This blend was made with intent for absolutely no additives and is unflavored. This example shows that many of the extra ingredients in the following powders enhance flavoring. 

GHOST Whey Protein Powder

This ingredient list is shorter than some of the other companies. 

  • The whey protein mix is composed of whey protein isolate, concentrate, and hydrolysate. 
  • Although the formula isn’t entirely natural, they have lowered – not eliminated – the amount of troublesome ingredients used in many other whey powders, such as:
    • High Fructose Corn Syrup
    • Molasses
    • Sugar 
  • The most notable additive is sucralose, an artificial sweetener. 

The good thing is there are a total of 4g of sugars in this blend and 2g of added sugar, making it a fair recommendation based on its composition.

PROJym Protein Powder

  • The first ingredient listed is a mix of protein: this is a protein blend made from micellar casein, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, and egg white
  • Next is a creamer containing coconut oil, maltodextrin, food starch and a mixture of fat emulsifiers with a salt component. 
    • Coconut oil does provide some good fats, but mostly contains saturated fats. 
    • Maltodextrin contains some sugar, but it’s only present in small amounts in food. Maltodextrin is a mixture of starchy vegetables – like corn or potatoes
    • ProJym Protein powder contains natural and artificial flavors.

This powder is quite healthy all together. It has a reduced amount of additives with a high quality protein blend.

 

Dressings

dressing nutritional labels

Annie’s Cowgirl Ranch

Annie’s has all organic ingredients, which start with water, expeller-pressed canola oil, apple cider vinegar, buttermilk, and cane sugar. 

  • We extract canola oil using pressure, which is better than methods using heat that may alter the oil. Canola oil reduces LDL cholesterol, but does contain a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids. 
  • Apple cider vinegar fights against free radicals and cell damage and contains polyphenols, which may reduce inflammation.  This component isn’t high in a dressing blend, but it is acidic; consuming too much may damage teeth or upset your stomach. 
  • This dressing contains a little carbohydrate, 1 gram of saturated fat, and a high amount of sodium (240mg). 

 

Hidden Valley Ranch

  • The first ingredient is vegetable oil (from soybean and/or canola), which is seen as generally  healthy by the FDA.
    • Soybean oil has omega-6 fatty acids. When consumed too often, it may lead to chronic inflammation.
    • These types of oils are fragile and susceptible to degrading to chemicals that are harmful to the body.
  • After vegetable oil is water, sugar and salt. 

Hidden Valley doesn’t contain too many carbohydrates (2g), but it does have a higher amount of sodium (260mg).

 

Whole30 Ranch

Like Hidden Valley, Whole30 starts with an oil, but this time they used high oleic sunflower oil.

  •  This oil is healthier than soybean or canola oil because high oleic oils contain monounsaturated fats, which help reduce LDL cholesterol. 
  • Following the high-oleic sunflower oil is water, egg yolks, and distilled vinegar. 

Whole30 contains zero carbohydrates and a little less sodium (210 mg) than Hidden Valley

 

Conclusion

Whole foods that aren’t packed with lots of additives are generally the best way to go. If you do decide to buy processed foods, it’s good to know some common ingredients to look out for.  Some ingredients may not be present in significant enough quantities to affect dietary quality. Lastly, make sure to compare ingredients back to the nutrition facts. Multiple forms of sugar, for example, can be listed numerous times, but the overall amount of sugar and added sugar on the nutrition facts label may not be significantly high. Don’t be scared of processed foods, but do be cautious. Good luck shopping!

 

Need more help with understanding food labels? Check out our other blog post regarding updated to the nutrition facts label!

 

Resources

Protein Bars

https://www.rxbar.com/media/pdf/R/RX_Catalog_Fall_2019.pdf

https://www.walmart.com/ip/LUNA-BAR-Snack-Bars-Gluten-Free-Blueberry-Bliss-Flavor-15-Ct-1-69-oz/39800541?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&&adid=22222222227000000000&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=42423897272&wl4=pla-51320962143&wl5=9015392&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=39800541&veh=sem&gclid=Cj0KCQiAnKeCBhDPARIsAFDTLTIO96TvonousEhbXlqhBebvvH7Q1xFMswpIo70-LcYkTB5Ptz0DepUaAnrwEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds 

https://shop.clifbar.com/products/clif-bar-blueberry-crisp?variant=34478775140485&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google%20Shopping&ds_rl=1282849&ds_rl=1282849&gclid=Cj0KCQiAnKeCBhDPARIsAFDTLTIANO4DYZYRaExhBOgA7etOEmFTuWoldzdR-q8Hhd7tsh9jCpjqZjQaAjbgEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds 

https://shop.metrx.com/Big-100-Crispy-Apple-Pie/p/MTRX-159357&c=METRx@ProteinBars@Big100

 

Protein Powders

https://www.gnc.com/best-sellers-shop-all/527950.html?mrkgadid=&mrkgcl=1098&mrkgen=&mrkgbflag=&mrkgcat=&acctid=21700000001526007&&dskeywordid=92700057937791656&lid=92700057937791656&ds_s_kwgid=58700006417899872&ds_s_inventory_feed_id=97700000003618928&dsproductgroupid=317461650145&product_id=527950&merchid=1418768&prodctry=US&prodlang=en&channel=online&storeid=%7bproduct_store_id%7d&device=c&network=u&matchtype=&locationid=%7bloc_phyiscal_ms%7d&creative=472640341132&targetid=pla-317461650145&campaignid=11357099411&adgroupid=111332759517&gclid=Cj0KCQiAnKeCBhDPARIsAFDTLTIwnXMWafAXkXInejgkaotcDuxjr0K-rCBp8RuqN_nzfHNNl6Sw05EaAg3ZEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.bodybuilding.com/store/jym-supplement-science/pro-jym-protein-powder.html

https://www.amazon.com/TGS-Natural-100-Protein-Powder/product-reviews/B00HBFZNAO/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_show_all_btm?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews

 

Dressings

https://www.hiddenvalley.com/products/bottled-dressings-dips/original-ranch/original-ranch/

https://shop.whole30.com/product/house-ranch/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAv6yCBhCLARIsABqJTjYm6bBcL8_KhnzEb7thMTTQB6omfTBoA9uea9Uskruf-bnOuNfUnjcaAnvTEALw_wcB

https://www.annies.com/product/organic-cowgirl-ranch-dressing/

 

  1. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars 
  2. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/09/01/545336956/what-is-fruit-concentrate-anyway-and-is-it-good-for-you
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/artificial-sweeteners-good-or-bad#other-effects
  4. https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/39870315/1056.pdf?1447172730=&response-content-disposition=inline%3B+filename%3DGuar_gum_in_insulin_dependent_diabetes_e.pdf&Expires=1615780690&Signature=JYgii7oKpnfw0-l8E-UkhXOjJYKVpC4Ebl4k5r1B5Y0fvK1Ky31MGRKa02GgztmKxc6BagZNc4aT4CbpSbi7Fnh1L7-iRaKc3DKw8rk~e6elgHA0gc15R2DhMo0NUszv61IAuNsq8-ie25L4j2sby8GU0O6UtBDUzNmVOOEOSrNQBe8J2tPVRk0S5LuhMHe79PadtrN5CuVT3VMFktqxn33b3nqcBwz490xWquAGYWtZu0sgpIOOk7Lrk3zTHkQ2uPBXzoVVAjwh0Cf-EjmnSn1yWnoOEhCQK0nmyISuluCKzVcGbyzllZ9GT5od4KYFsQka~AnGWkZIZ2TnMf6-7w__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xanthan-gum
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16865769/ 
  7. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cholesterol/2010/824813/ 
  8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/natural-flavors#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7 

Continue Reading No Comments

Identifying Disordered Eating Patterns

disordered eating patterns

While specific criteria can identify a full-fledged eating disorder, disordered eating patterns may be more difficult to spot and understand. Disordered eating is defined as “a wide range of irregular eating behaviors that do not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder.” This broad definition does not speak to what these behaviors might be or how they could impact health. To spread some awareness on this issue, I wanted to highlight the most common disordered eating patterns, common side effects, and what actions to take to seek help if needed.

 

Common Disordered Eating Patterns

  • History of dieting or weight yo-yoing
  • Viewing foods as either “good” or “bad”
  • Engaging in rituals with food or exercise (i.e. not eating after 6 pm no matter what, exercising more in response to eating more)
  • Frequently feeling guilty or ashamed about certain food choices or amounts eaten
  • Occupation with food, exercise, and/or body image that negatively impacts quality of life
  • Feeling a loss of control around eating behaviors and food choices
  • Experiencing anxiety in social situations involving food

 

When a client presents with one or more of the patterns above, a red flag immediately goes up. These behaviors tell me that a client doesn’t have an entirely healthy relationship with food. The priority needs to be raising awareness of and addressing these behaviors before anything else, regardless of why a client may have come to see me. In fact, many clients I have worked with have come to me to improve sports performance or to change body composition and through conversation, disordered eating tendencies have been discovered for the first time. For any health professional not aware of these warning signs, they may not see the red flag and simply address the clients concerns about weight loss or performance without addressing the underlying disordered relationship with food, which in the end can frequently cause more harm.

 

Effects of Disordered Eating Patterns

Common side effects of long-term disordered eating patterns can include:

  • Decreased metabolism
  • Frequent gastrointestinal issues (such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, or nausea)
  • Increased rates of depression, anxiety, or social isolation
  • Decreased bone strength and increased risk of fractures
  • Significantly high or low blood pressure or heart rate
  • Electrolyte disturbances or other nutrient imbalances
  • Development of a clinically significant eating disorder

 

What Can You Do If You Suspect That You or A Loved One May Be Experiencing Disordered Eating?

The most important thing to do is reach out for help or additional resources as soon as possible. Both disordered eating and eating disorders have higher rates of recovery when these issues are addressed early. It’s important to find a trusted professional or team of professionals to help guide you or your loved one. Health professionals that can help include registered dietitians, counselors or therapists, psychiatrists, primary care doctors, and social workers. Please note that it’s important to seek out professionals that have experience working in the field of eating disorders or disordered eating in particular. Not all dietitians will be able to help with these issues, just like not all doctors are specialized in cardiology or orthopedics.

If you need help finding resources in your area, please click on the links below to find professionals in your area or reach out to me for help and recommendations:

 

If you would like to read more about this topic, please visit the links below for online resources or additional written materials:

 

 

References

https://www.eatright.org/health/diseases-and-conditions/eating-disorders/what-is-disordered-eating#:~:text=Symptoms%20of%20Disordered%20Eating&text=Rigid%20rituals%20and%20routines%20surrounding,food%2C%20including%20compulsive%20eating%20habits

Continue Reading No Comments

Dietary Intake and Acne: What is the Link?

diet and acne

If you are struggling with unwanted breakouts, you are far from alone. The prevalence of acne is estimated to affect 9.4% of people worldwide. The incidence rate is highest in adolescents and young adults but typically decreases with age beyond 30 years. Because this can be difficult condition to manage, many people who struggle with acne often want to know what factors can contribute to or prevent breakouts. While typical areas examined will include skin hygiene, stress, and personal care products, interest has increased in recent years regarding the connection between dietary intake and acne.

There are so many foods we eat daily, many of which are beneficial to our skin, and others that are not. So, which are affecting the condition of our skin the most? Read on to learn which foods may affect skin health and which do not.

 

Sugar and High-glycemic Index Foods  

Consumption of sweets and other carbohydrate-rich foods have been attributed to the majority of skin breakouts. (1) When the body breaks down carbohydrates, it releases insulin. This is normally an okay, and much needed, reaction from the body. Trouble begins when we are regularly consuming “high-glycemic” foods, which cause large spikes in blood sugar and lead to high blood sugar. When the body is in this consistent state of high blood sugar, it leads to multiple reactions:

  • Increased Insulin-like growth factor-1
  • Increased Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3
  • Elevated Androgen Hormones

All these reactions can lead to cellular, follicular growth and/or androgen-driven sebum production, which can affect oil production in pores.

 

Research Studies 

  1. Low glycemic load diet led to participants improving their acne and weight loss. (2)
  2. Low glycemic load diet led to participants improving acne, no weight loss. (3)

 

These two studies show connections between the improvement of acne and skin lesions and a low glycemic index diet.

Study 1

The first offers a strong study using a randomized controlled study but limited from having only 43 participants. 

  • The control group was asked to remain on their diet consisting of, generally, high-glycemic index carbohydrates/foods. 
  • The experimental group was provided a diet consisting of 25% energy from protein, 45% from low-glycemic index carbohydrates, and 30% energy from fats. 
  • Both groups received a topical cleanser to use in place of typical soap and water. 

The experimental group began with an average of 40.6 skin lesions and the control group began with 34.9. At the end of a 12-week assessment, skin lesion count had gone down by an average of 21.9 and 13.8, respectively. Additionally, the experimental group had a loss in BMI. 

Study 2

The second study also has limitations of 32 participants and self-reported diets from the participants. They had a low glycemic load diet group of 17 participants and a control group of 15. 

  • The low glycemic load diet group ate a diet that consisted of 25% energy from protein, 45% from low-GI carbohydrates, and 30% energy from fats. 
  • The control group ate carbohydrate-rich foods daily. 

The mean non-inflammatory lesion counts for the LGLD group and the control group were significantly decreased, by 27.6% and 14.2%, respectively.

Aside from the small group size, each study is completed with strong methods and results. Strengths are especially seen in the studies being randomized controlled trials and researchers and dermatologists not knowing which participants are part of which group until the end of the study.  In conclusion, it is suggested that following a low-glycemic load and low-glycemic index food intake may benefit skin health based on these two studies. 

 

connection between dairy and acne

Milk and Dairy Products

The effects of dairy products on skin health are closely related to the effects of sugar on skin. Milk has carbohydrates in it, which can produce a spike in blood sugar, as we mentioned for high-glycemic index foods. The difference between milk and carbohydrate-rich foods is that milk is considered low on the glycemic index compared to food like a slice of bread, which is considered high on the glycemic index. 

Milk consumed in excess can lead to high blood sugar levels. In addition to the effects of high blood sugar, dairy intake increases insulin-like growth factor-1. This may lead to the same effects that high blood sugar produces in relation to acne production.  

Research Studies 

  • 6,094 girls, ages 9–15 years, yielded a positive association between acne prevalence and consumption of whole, skimmed, and low-fat milk; there was no association with non-milk dairy foods, chocolate, and pizza. (4)
  • 4,273 boys, ages 9–15 years, discovered a weak association between acne and skimmed milk; there were no associations with milks of a higher fat content. (5)

 

These two large studies mentioned above report some relevance of milk consumption and acne. They were limited because the children were self-reporting their dairy intake and, if they had acne, its condition. It is difficult to know whether any certain component within dairy is contributing to acne. 

There is little possibility the fat content of milk would affect the condition of acne. Some researchers are attempting loosely to consider any connection to whey. There are no randomized controlled trials investigating the relationship between frequent dairy or milk consumption and acne. Overall, there is minimal evidence suggesting dairy would have an impact on acne outside of containing carbohydrates; but milk is also considered a low on the glycemic index, making that assumption difficult to conclude.

 

Chocolate

Another food item thought to affect acne is chocolate. It has been difficult to find a strong connection between acne and any specific component of chocolate. The major component that has been hypothesized to have an effect on skin health is cocoa. Other than the cocoa content, sugar in regular chocolate products could be what is contributing to potential acne breakouts. 

Research Studies 

  • Thirteen men consumed 100% cocoa, hydrolyzed gelatin powder, or a mix. The study found a statistically significant increase in acne lesions after cocoa consumption (6)

 

The researchers discovered that the thirteen men in this study had an increase in acne. The limitations of the study are that they only had 13 participants and the men were “acne-prone.” While the study used a randomized controlled trial, the evidence is considered weak due to the low number of participants and being the only study of its kind. More research is needed to conclude significant evidence. 

 

omega-3 fatty acids and acne

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids provide a unique perspective on the impact of food on acne. Unlike the rest of the food items mentioned here, omega-3 fatty acids offer a protective result from acne due to reducing inflammatory responses. 

Research Studies

  • A 10-week, randomized, controlled parallel study had 45 participants, ages 18 – 33 (36 men, 9 women), split into groups that received omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, γ-linoleic acid (an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid) supplementation, or were in a control group. The omega-3 fatty acid and γ-linoleic acid groups both show improvement from supplementation. (7)

 

This study shows a small connection for improved acne conditions while taking γ-linoleic acid or omega-3 fatty acid. This study does not provide strong enough evidence of omega-3 fatty acid due to the small size of the group. More studies could greatly benefit this research. However, omega-3 fatty acid supplements have many health benefits outside of skin health. Considering its great availability and health benefits, supplementation could be a considerable option to improve acne conditions.

 

Conclusions

  • High-glycemic index/load foods are likely to aggravate acne when consumed regularly.
  • Milk and dairy products could affect acne conditions if consumed heavily for extended periods of time.
  • Chocolate has loose connections to aggravation of acne unless considering its high glycemic index like any other sugary candy.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has loose connections to benefiting the condition of a person’s acne.

In closing, there are many studies to be considered when researching what dietary effects have on the condition of skin and acne aggravation. While research on this topic started decades ago, it was not until recently, in the 2000s, that more research has come out. If your acne is at a stage where it is just beginning, some of these dietary tips may be of benefit to you. 

If you are just starting to get into nutrition and health, try checking out How to Spot a Fad Diet  or our 7 tips for healthy eating when life gets busy!

 

Resources

  1. Kucharska A, Szmurło A, Sińska B. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016;33(2):81–86.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884775/ 

 

2. Smith RN et al. The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic–load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic–load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: A randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial. J Am Acad Derm. 2007;57(2):247-56. 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190962207004148?casa_token=Z_6HtL_cGTEAAAAA:519iBbjilAbU6goU89cxCnpqE16ZQEHP-esTh6hTw1r-gZ-hcs2SV7O6qf2kmbN2na27mYykqw

 

3. Kwon HH et al. Clinical and histological effect of a low glycaemic load diet in treatment of acne vulgaris in korean patients: a randomized, controlled trial. Acta Derm Venereol. 2012;92: 241–246. 

https://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content/abstract/10.2340/00015555-1346 

 

4. Adebamowo et al. Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls. Dermatol Online J. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/77b9s0z8

 

5. Adebamowo et al. Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;58(5): 787–793. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391699/

 

6. Caperton C et al. Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Assessing the Effect of Chocolate Consumption in Subjects with a History of Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 May; 7(5): 19–23. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025515/#idm140640642055376title

 

7. Jung JY et al. Effect of Dietary Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acid and Gamma-linolenic Acid on Acne Vulgaris: A Randomised, Doubleblind, Controlled Trial. Acta Derm Venereol 2014; 94: 521–525. 

https://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content_files/files/pdf/94/5/4112.pdf

Continue Reading 4 Comments

5 Sports Supplements NOT to Take

sports supplements

In one of my recent blog articles, “My Top 5 Most Commonly Recommended Dietary Supplements,” I discussed supplements that may benefit certain clients including omega-3 fish oil, vitamin D, GABA, vitamin B-12, and BCAAs. Although it is best to get nutrients from the diet, there are some cases in which this is not possible, and supplements can help to fill in the gaps. Situations that may require the addition of a supplement may include dietary deficiencies, certain disease states, and some demanding training regimens.  When purchasing a dietary supplement, it’s important to remember that the FDA does not regulate vitamins, minerals, herbals, or sports supplements. For this reason, looking for a third-party seal can ensure quality, purity, and potency of the product.  Examples of third-party seals include USP, Informed Choice, NSF, and GMP. The image below shows an example of a vitamin supplement with a USP seal.

USP label on vitamins

Figure 2 image source: https://www.quality-supplements.org/

Often, a product’s marketing or testimonials will promise superior effects. Because these products are not regulated by the FDA, the evidence for these statements is often lacking. Additionally, unregulated products often have added hidden ingredients that may be harmful.

This article will discuss five supplements that I do not recomend for sports performance in particular. If you have questions about other supplements not listed here, feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email!

Before taking any supplement, consult with a sports dietitian or other health-care professional. 

 

1. Vitamin C and Vitamin E

This first one might surprise you! While vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants (which protect our body from cellular damage), taking them immediately before or after exercise could interfere with progress. The reason for this is that while intense exercise does cause some cellular damage, this also triggers the release of proteins and enzymes that initiate muscle repair and recovery. Taking antioxidants before your workout can thus limit muscle recovery and performance adaptations. You can read more about antioxidants and performance in my blog post here. Does Taking Antioxidants During Your Workout Improve Exercise Recovery?

Supplement Claims:

  • Minimize free-radical damage to skeletal muscle
  • Reduce muscle fatigue and soreness

Clinical Studies:

  • Only small numbers of studies on sports performance
  • Findings do not show associated improved performance
  • Supplementation appears to hinder body’s physiological and exercise-induced adaptations (3)
  • Vitamin E: Several studies have shown supplementation is detrimental to health and may increase oxidative stress (2)

Summary:

  • Taking antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C before a workout may limit the body’s ability to initiate muscle repair and recovery
  • Most individuals get enough vitamin E and vitamin C from a balanced diet and don’t require supplementation
  • High dose vitamin E supplements should only be consumed if recommended by a qualified healthcare professional to treat a deficiency or other health-related issue

 

2. Citrulline

Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid. It enlarges blood vessels to increase the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the muscles. Athletes that take citrulline supplements hope to enhance exercise performance from citrulline’s effects on the cardiovascular system that enhance blood flow. The body can make its own citrulline, and it can be found in some common foods including watermelon, pumpkin, and cucumbers.

Supplement Claims:

  • Supports production of protein
  • Reduces muscle soreness
  • Supports the immune system
  • Assists body with muscle building

Clinical Studies:

  • Clinical trials show conflicting results:
    • A 2010 study in 41 men doing barbell bench presses showed a single dose of citrulline resulted in a 59% increase in number of repetitions performed and a 40% decrease in muscle soreness after exercise. The researchers concluded that citrulline may be useful to increase athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic exercises with short rest times and to help with post-exercise muscle soreness. (4)
    • A study in 2017 in older adults showed that citrulline demonstrated a modest increase in blood flow during submaximal exercise in men but not women. (4)

Summary:

  • Only a couple of studies that show enhanced sports performance
  • Conflicting results with men vs. women in submaximal exercise
  • Not enough evidence to show that supplementation is beneficial

 

3. Beta-alanine

Athletes take beta-alanine supplements to delay the onset of muscle fatigue and enhance performance. However, most people can get enough beta-alanine from the diet by eating meat, poultry, and fish. Vegetarians may have less beta-alanine in their bodies(5)

Supplement Claims:

  • Supports muscle endurance
  • Supports muscle output
  • Benefits athletic performance
  • Enhances high-intensity exercise

Clinical Studies:

  • Inconsistent data from studies that examined if consumption increases performance in sports that require bursts of high intensity (i.e., team sports).
  • Little to no performance benefit in activities lasting more than 10 minutes
  • May help with high-intensity and short-duration exercise lasting one to several minutes

Side effects:

  • Some people report tingling in the face, neck, and hands
  • Itchy skin

Summary:

  • Doses up to 6.4g/day appear to be safe
  • Benefit questionable regarding increasing performance in events requiring high-intensity effort over a short period of time
  • Little to no benefit in increasing performance in events lasting more than 10 minutes

 

4. DHEA

DHEA is short for dehydroepiandrosterone. It is a steroid hormone made by the adrenal glands. The body converts DHEA into other hormones, testosterone, and estradiol. DHEA production in the body declines rapidly after early adulthood. (2). For this reason, DHEA supplements are often referred to as a “fountain of youth.” DHEA in supplements is made from a substance found in soy and wild yams. However, the National Institute of Health issued a warning about DHEA that the body cannot convert the substance from wild yams to DHEA on its own. Athletes that take DHEA hope to improve muscle strength and enhance energy levels and athletic performance.

Supplement Claims: 

  • Helps immune cell function
  • Supports a healthy lean muscle mass to fat ratio (testosterone increases muscle mass by increasing protein synthesis and reducing fat mass)
  • Provides higher energy levels (fatigue is a common effect of low testosterone and estrogen.)
  • Supports bone and joint strength. (low levels of DHEA have been found in some people with osteoporosis.)

Clinical Studies:

  • Some studies show a short-term rise in testosterone concentrations however this short-term rise does not affect muscle size, strength, or power. (2)
  • Studies with older adults also confirmed that there is no evidence that DHEA increase strength in this population. (2)

 

Summary: 

  • Unknown safety profile
  • Not effective as a performance enhancer
  • No evidence of increase in lean body mass
  • No evidence of increase in testosterone levels in men
  • Should only be used under supervision of qualified health-care professional
  • Use is banned by many sports organizations

 

5. Glutamine

Glutamine provides nitrogen for the body in many biochemical reactions. The body uses glutamine in metabolism and energy production. Glutamine is stored in muscles and released into the bloodstream during times of intense physical exercise. Athletes take glutamine supplements to try and prevent muscle breakdown and improve immune function. In general, however, the body stores enough glutamine to protect against deficiencies during endurance exercise. (4).

Supplement Claims:

  • Aids in muscle repair
  • Promotes cellular energy
  • Supports immune function (the immune system uses glutamine during times of stress and intense prolonged exercise)

Clinical Studies:

  • Only a few studies examining the enhancement of athletic performance
  • Studies show no effect on muscle performance in weight lifters
  • No effects on body composition
  • May help with recovery of muscle strength or reducing muscle soreness

Summary:

  • The body can normally supply enough glutamine to protect against deficiencies
  • More studies are needed to determine effects on sports performance
  • Not effective as an immune enhancer
  • May help with recovery of muscle strength or reducing muscle soreness

Summary

In summary, although I routinely recommend some supplements for certain clients, there are many supplements that I do not recommend.  The FDA does not regulate supplements so many products do not have clinical evidence of safety or effectiveness. When choosing a supplement, check for a third party seal on the bottle such as Informed Choice or USP.

Two proven ways to increase sports performance are with optimal nutrition and hydration. A sports dietitian can help develop a personalized nutrition and hydration plan for you that supports performance, recovery, and good health. If you feel like you need some direction in taking your health or performance to the next level, leave a message on the contact page!

 

References

  1. Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2015, December). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26920240/
  2. Dunford, M., & Doyle, J. A. (2019). Chapter 10 Dietary Supplements and Ergogenic Aids. In Nutrition for sport and exercise (pp. 365-366). Boston, MA: Cengage.
  3. Office of Dietary Supplements – Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/ExerciseAndAthleticPerformance
  4. Leal, D. (2020, July 13). Do Pre-Workout Supplements Improve Your Strength and Performance? Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.verywellfit.com/can-a-pre-workout-product-improve-physical-fitness-4154378
  5. Semeco, A. (2018, December 07). Beta-Alanine-A Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/beta-alanine-101
  6. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, November 13). Vitamin E. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-e/art-20364144
  7. Contraindications for Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Oral. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-322/ascorbic-acid-vitamin-c-oral/details/list-contraindications
  8. Vitamin E: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-954/vitamin-e

Continue Reading No Comments

5 Key Changes You Need to Know About the Nutrition Facts Label

nutrition facts label

Have You Noticed the New Look of the Nutrition Facts Label on Packaged Food Products?

new label on all commercially packaged food items.

Figure 2https://www.fda.gov/media/97999/download

The FDA announced the nutrition facts label changes in 2016, but it gave food companies until 2020 and 2021 to make the changes. Companies with 10 million dollars in annual sales had until January of 2020 to make the changes. Companies with less than 10 million dollars in annual sales had until January of 2021.

Why Was the Label Redesigned?

The old label was over 20 years old and over time the nutrition guidelines have changed. The FDA believes the new label design will help consumers make better food choices.

What are the Changes to the Label?

  1. “Calories” and “Serving Size” have a Bigger, Bolder Font and “Calories from Fat” is Now Gone.

As you can see, the font size is now bigger for the words “calories,” “servings per container,” and “serving size.” These words are also bolded to draw your attention to them.

Calories from fat is no longer required. Current dietary guidelines focus on the type of fat that is in food rather than the total amount. Studies show that diets high in saturated fat and trans fat can lead to heart disease (1). Foods high in saturated fat include some dairy products, meat, and palm oil and coconut oil. Foods high in trans fat include baked goods, snack goods, and stick margarine. Healthier fats include unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados, almonds, peanuts, soft margarine, and canola, peanut, and olive oil. Good sources of polyunsaturated fats are salmon, walnuts, pine nuts, and corn, soybean, and sunflower oils. Eating healthier types of fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, can reduce the risk of developing heart disease (2) when they are eaten in place of saturated fats.

How to Use the Food Label to Identify Types of Fat in Food:

identifying Types of Fat in Food

Figure 3 Peapod.com

Let’s compare the type of fat in walnuts versus cheddar cheese. The walnuts have a high amount of total fat (20g), but most of it is healthy polyunsaturated fat (14g). They have low levels of saturated fat (2g) and trans fat (0g).

  • Nutrition Lesson: Walnuts are a healthy snack in moderation. Pre-portion walnuts to ¼ cup servings to stay on track with your nutrition goals.

The cheese sticks have less total fat per serving than the walnuts. They have 7g per serving rather than 20g per serving. However, one cheese stick has 4.5g saturated fat or 22% of the total daily value for saturated fat. The saturated fat in the walnuts is only 10% of the total daily value for saturated fat.

  • Nutrition Lesson: Choose low-fat cheese as a snack. Regular cheese is one of the most common sources of saturated fat in the diet (3)

 

  1. Serving Sizes Are More Realistic.

Amounts listed on food labels now reflect the quantity of food that today’s consumers are eating. Serving sizes were originally developed in 1993. The amounts that people eat of certain foods has changed since then. It is important to note that the serving size on a food package is not a recommendation of how much to eat. Rather, it demonstrates how portions have gotten larger with time.

The FDA knows that certain smaller pack sizes of foods are usually eaten in one sitting. Many packages of chips, ice cream, and soda, now show both calories per serving and calories per package.

snack size servings have changed

Figure 4 https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/food-serving-sizes-get-reality-check

Below is a bag of chips that shows both numbers. Although it appears to be a “snack size,” since it is only 2oz, it has two servings per bag. The entire bag is 270 calories which may be more than what you want to consume for a snack.

 

Ritz crackers nutrition facts

Figure 5 https://www.cvs.com/shop/ritz-cheese-crispers-cheddar-crackers-2-oz-prodid-321743
  • Nutrition Lesson: One package of food may contain more than one serving. Be aware of the serving sizes of packaged food items to stay on track with your nutrition goals.

 

  1. The Required Vitamins and Minerals on the Label Have Changed.

The original label listed the vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron content of food. The new label lists the vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium content in food. Why were vitamin D and potassium added, and vitamin A and C dropped?

The original version of the nutrition facts label is from the 1990s. During that time, many American diets were deficient in vitamin A and vitamin C. This is no longer the case. Currently, many American diets are deficient in vitamin D and potassium. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to poor bone health. Low levels of potassium can lead to high blood pressure. Thus, the FDA changed the label to reflect these changes in the population.

  • Nutrition lesson: Choose foods with higher amounts of vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and iron. This can reduce your risk of chronic diseases (5).

 

  1. The Actual Amounts of Vitamins and Minerals in a Serving Size are Now Listed.

The label now shows the actual amount of the vitamin or mineral in micrograms (mcg) or milligrams (mg). The percent (%) Daily Value (DV) is also shown. The DV of a nutrient tells us the recommended amount to consume daily or not to exceed. The %DV tells us how much of a nutrient in a food serving contributes to one’s daily goals. Having the actual amount of the vitamin or mineral makes it easier to keep track of your nutrient goals.

Soy milk nutrition label

Figure 6 https://www.pinterest.com/cspinutrition/

The updated recommended DV for calcium is now 1300mg per day (the original DV was 1000mg per day) (5). Yet, it is not recommended to consume more than 500mg of calcium at a time. The body cannot absorb more than this amount of calcium at once. Thus, it is helpful to see the number of mg of calcium in the food you are consuming. This nutrition facts label from a container of soy milk shows that one cup contains 300mg of calcium or 25% DV. A DV% greater than 20% also tells us this drink is an excellent source of calcium. You could drink 3 cups of soy milk throughout the day and have 900mg towards your goal of 1300mg per day.

  • Nutrition Lesson: 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high.

  1. The New Label Shows the Amount of Added Sugar in a Serving Size.

 

This number of grams of added sugar identifies foods that had sugar added during processing. Added sugar adds calories or energy, but not vitamins or minerals. Foods that naturally contain sugar, like fruit or milk, also contain important nutrients. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, and fiber (for fruits). That is why the DV for added sugars is 50g per day based on a 2,000-calorie diet (6), but there is no DV for total sugar. Eating a lot of foods with added sugar makes it hard to meet your nutrient needs and calorie goals.

The picture below shows a sports drink with a large amount of added sugar. There are 29g of added sugar per bottle. If you play sports or exercise for 90 minutes or more at a time, drinking a sports drink may help you with endurance. Your body converts the added sugar in the drink to energy it needs to perform the activity. If you are less active and you drink a lot of sports drinks instead of water, your body could store this extra energy as fat.

 

Gatorade nutrition facts

Figure 7 Peapod.com
  • Nutrition Lesson: Drink water for hydration. Save the sports drinks for exercise or competitions that last longer than 90 minutes.

 

Summary

You can use the new food label to make more informed and better food choices. For more information on the other components of the food label, visit this site. FDA Interactive Nutrition Facts Label. It has an interactive tool that teaches about all the sections on the food label.

In general, choose foods with higher amounts of fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium. Limit foods that are higher in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Choosing healthier foods can reduce your risk of many chronic diseases.

Have questions on how to read food labels to meet your nutrition needs? Leave a comment or reach out on the contact page!

 

References

  1. Ellis, R. (n.d.). The Basics of the Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/the-basics-of-the-nutrition-facts-label
  2. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2020, June 29). The New Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/new-nutrition-facts-label
  3. Levin, S. (2020, June 23). 5 Top Sources of Heartbreaking Saturated Fat. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/5-top-sources-heartbreaking-saturated-fat
  4. Office of the Commissioner. (2016, July 07). Food Serving Sizes Get a Reality Check. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/food-serving-sizes-get-reality-check
  5. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2021, January 04). Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label
  6. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2020, March 11). Added Sugars on the New Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/added-sugars-new-nutrition-facts-label

Continue Reading No Comments

6 No-Cook Meals You Can Make in Your Dorm

dorm, no-cook meals, college

If you’re on a college campus this year, it may be a good idea to stock up on groceries so you can prepare meals in the privacy of your own dorm. Since many school dining halls are transitioning to take-out only models anyway, you won’t miss much in terms of the communal eating experience if you make your own meals. Plus, this way, you can control the quality of food you eat and make sure it works with your health needs. Browse this list for some ways to mix up your basic routine. Each option is a no-cook meal (which is helpful if your access to appliances is limited), and everything is totally customizable to suit your palate!

 

No-cook Meal 1: Sandwich Pinwheels

Tired: a boring sandwich. Wired: wrapping all your favorite proteins and toppings into a tortilla and slicing into bite-size pinwheel pieces. If you’re feeling extra fancy, secure it together with a toothpick and skewer a pickle or pickled onion on top. Tortillas take up less room than bread in your mini fridge, and eating your meal this way will definitely feel like a step up from your usual routine. If you eat meat, turkey is a great base for your pinwheels. For a veggie option, go for hummus instead. Then go wild with your favorite sandwich toppings.

Hot tip: If you’re adding veggies to your pinwheels (like cucumbers or carrots), cut them into strips rather than slices so that they roll up easier.

 

No-cook Meal 2: Loaded avocado toast

Top your favorite toasted bread with smashed avocado, then add a drizzle of olive oil, and layer on some sliced tomato. Garnish with red pepper flakes and a dash of salt and pepper. Many dorms come with common area kitchenettes that have basic appliances, like a microwave and toaster oven. But if you don’t have access to a toaster, this meal can still work with no appliances if you use a fresh bakery loaf that has a hearty crust.

Hot tip: To cut your avocado, use a sharp kitchen knife and cut vertically all the way around. Twist the halves to rip the avocado in two. Once the pit is exposed on one side, gently whack it with your knife so that the blade lands in the pit. Wiggle your knife back and forth to remove the pit cleanly. Store the unused half in the fridge. Take the half you are going to eat, and score it with your knife before scooping out the meat. Confused on technique? Here’s a video.

 

No-cook Meal 3: Salad in a jar

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like I’m way more likely to enjoy my meal when the presentation is on point. A big mason jar can go a long way. This recipe is quite flexible, and it allows you to prep multiple lunches at the same time, then grab-and-go when you need to eat between activities. Prep your favorite chopped vegetables, proteins, cheeses, and herbs into a jar. My go-to combination of ingredients is an antipasto-themed salad that includes lettuce, olives, bell pepper, banana peppers, provolone, basil, and sundried tomatoes. But I mean, it’s salad—you do you. To keep your meal fresh and crispy, hold off on adding your favorite dressing until the day you’re ready to eat. When you do add your dressing, shake the jar like crazy to get an even mix.

Hot tip: Canned black beans or chickpeas can go a long way toward elevating your salad. No cooking required, they just need a little rinse and you’re ready to eat!

 

No-cook Meal 4: Tuna salad pita pockets

Prepare some tuna salad by combining canned tuna with mayo and onion. Or, for a lighter option, opt for olive oil, lemon juice, onion, and capers. Store what you don’t use. For your pita pocket, cut off one side of the pita, leaving an opening to put your filling in. Line the pita pocket with your favorite greens, like green leaf lettuce or baby spinach, then add your tuna salad.

Hot tip: In your tuna salad, you can also add chopped celery and/or canned water chestnuts for extra crunch.

 

No-cook Meal 5: Veggie banh mi

Because this sandwich is jam-packed with exciting, spicy flavors, you can make it with raw tofu pieces and still feel like your sandwich is restaurant-quality. To prep your tofu, cut into flat slices, then wrap them in a paper towel to drain out any excess moisture. Start with a piece of fresh baguette, then pile on your tofu slices, thin carrot strips, cucumber, jalapeno slices, and cilantro. Smear on some light mayo or vegan mayo, and top with sriracha.

Hot tip: If you stumble upon access to a fuller kitchen, you can graduate to this recipe that involves marinating and searing your tofu.

 

No-cook Meal 6: Protein Bento Box

This is a fun meal idea if you are nearing the end of your groceries and want to use up a little bit of everything. Instead of eating “just leftovers,” you’ll feel like you’re indulging in a store-bought treat. Grab a reusable bento box container and fill it with items like grapes, nuts, raw veggies, hummus, pretzels, granola, yogurt, or whatever you have in your fridge, like extra pinwheels or tuna salad from meals you made earlier this week.

Hot tip: In addition to being more eco-friendly than individual plastic baggies, a reusable bento box is also a cute, discrete way to transport your meal for easy snacking. So if you find yourself across campus with no downtime between activities, you can quietly open your box and enjoy some mid-meeting nutrition without drawing too much attention.

 

 

Bonus hot tip: Pickling your own onions is super easy and requires no cooking. Give it a try, and you’ll have a garnish that can be added to any meal idea on this list!

 

Continue Reading No Comments

How to Spot a Fad Diet

how to spot a fad diet

With a new year fast approaching it may be tempting to make a weight loss plan based on a fad diet that you read about or heard about from a friend. There are plenty to choose from! Diets including keto, paleo, the Zone, Atkins, the Dubrow diet, the Anti-Inflammatory diet, and many more are commonly talked about in our culture.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC), conducts a yearly study on consumer beliefs and behaviors about nutrition. This year, they reported an increased number of people (43% in 2020, vs. 38 % in 2019), who are following a specific diet or eating plan. The report clarifies that while some of these eating plans have evidence-based information that they work long-term, many of these plans fall into the category of fad diets. You can view the report here.

What are the Most Popular Diets of 2020?

According to the report, the most popular diets or food consumption patterns of those surveyed in 2020 are listed below. (Note: all four of these diets fall into the category of fad diets).

  1. Intermittent Fasting (10%)
  2. Clean Eating (9%)
  3. Ketogenic or High Fat (8%)
  4. Low Carb (7%)

The survey also reported the most popular reasons for following a fad diet or new food consumption pattern. They are listed below:

  • Losing weight (47%)
  • Feeling better and having more energy (40%)
  • Improving physical appearance (39%)
  • Protecting long-term health and preventing future health concerns (37%)
  • Preventing weight gain (36%)

 

How Can You Spot A Fad Diet?

How can you tell if you a dietary pattern is a fad diet? A fad diet is a diet that is popular for a certain amount of time but is not based on standard nutrition guidelines. Fad diets gain often gain popularity due to celebrity testimonials in books, magazines, television, and social media. Some common characteristics found in fad diets are [1]:

  1. Certain foods or food groups are eliminated
  2. Some foods or food groups are eaten excessively (i.e. the grapefruit diet or the cabbage soup diet)
  3. Strict rules control the timing of eating
  4. Rapid weight loss is common
  5. Exercise is not emphasized

 

Why do Fad Diets Stop Working?

Often, fad diets are not sustainable in the long-term for several reasons:

  • Eating a limited number of foods can become boring or repetitive
  • Severely limiting food choice can omit many nutrients our body needs to function properly
  • Strict rules that control the timing of eating can be disruptive to family meals and social gatherings
  • Restricting eating for long periods of time can lead to excessive hunger and or binge eating

 

What is the Difference Between a Fad Diet and a Lifestyle Diet?

A lifestyle diet is one that incorporates a person’s unique food preferences, lifestyle, health history and goals.

Some examples of lifestyle diets that have shown to be effective are [1]:

  • The DASH diet
  • The Mediterranean diet
  • The Mayo Clinic diet
  • Weight Watchers

 

What do Lifestyle Diets Involve?

Unlike fad diets, lifestyle diets include:

lifestyle diet examples

  • An emphasis on making permanent behavioral changes regarding food
  • Flexibility in food choices
  • A balanced approach that accounts for your unique health conditions
  • An emphasis on high-quality foods that provide essential nutrients our body needs
  • A plan that incorporates physical activity

Losing weight following certain eating patterns is not a one-size-fits-all approach. If you feel motivated to try a certain diet or eating plan check with your physician or registered dietitian (RD or RDN) before you start.

 

How is Working with a Registered Dietitian Different?

healthy eating tips

A registered dietitian becomes your partner in health and wellness to help you do the following:

  • Account for your food preferences in a personalized plan for eating
  • Discover behavioral modification techniques that help you deal with obstacles and barriers to reaching your health goals
  • Ensure that you have a balanced eating approach that provides your body with all the nutrients it needs to function properly
  • Monitor your plan and adjust if needed to reach your goals
  • Work with your other health care providers to tailor your plan to any health conditions you may have

 

 

Weight Management Techniques that Actually Work:

  • Aiming for a healthy and sustainable rate of weight loss of about 1-2 pounds per week
  • Self-monitoring meals with a food diary
  • Incorporating regular physical activity
  • Revising health goals when necessary
  • Being accountable (A recent study from Drexel University emphasizes the importance of working with someone to help you be accountable for your health goals)

 

As a registered dietitian, I frequently have clients, friends, and family come to me asking about different dietary trends and whether they should follow them.  As with many things, the key comes down to the motivation behind wanting to change dietary habits and whether you are looking to follow something because everyone else is talking about it or because you are making an informed decision that eating this way will help to alleviate persistent problems you are experiencing.

It is helpful to see if you can categorize a diet as a fad diet or a lifestyle diet. A fad diet is often a diet that restricts food intake in some way or is only meant to be followed for a short period of time for fast results. A lifestyle diet often does not restrict food intake drastically and therefore is more realistic for someone to follow for a lifetime.

 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that honestly, most people are never going to have to follow a specific diet to have a healthy, nutritious food intake. If you like certain aspects of a diet or enjoy making paleo or keto recipes sometimes, then great! Then you can incorporate bits and pieces and create a unique dietary style that is all your own. Changing dietary habits should always be more about what to include most often in our diet and which foods to have less often or in smaller portions for our own health and wellness goals.

Have questions about how to reach your health and fitness goals? Aren’t sure how to start making dietary changes? Reach out to Nikky via e-mail or leave a comment on the contact page!

 

References:

  1. Wolfram, R. (2018, March 18). Staying Away from Fad Diets. Retrieved December 21, 2020, from https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/staying-away-from-fad-diets
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2020, June 06). Weight loss: Choosing a diet that’s right for you. Retrieved December 21, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20048466

 

Continue Reading No Comments

LiveLifeBig Podcast

podcast

One of the best parts of being a small business owner is connecting with other business owners in the community. In March of 2020, I was invited to appear on the LiveLifeBig podcast by host Ben Glass. In addition to hosting LiveLifeBig, Ben is the owner of Ben Glass Law, a personal injury and disability law firm. He also started his own marketing firm, Great Legal Marketing, to help other lawyers and small business owners learn how to market their businesses effectively. Ben is a great example of the importance of authenticity, networking, and personalized service for both his clients and his colleagues.

To learn more about Ben and the services he offers, visit the Ben Glass Law website to learn more!

Learn more about NOVA Sports Nutrition here

 

Continue Reading No Comments

5 Tips for Staying Sane During Self-Quarantine

While many of us may complain about having to go to school or work, once our routine is disrupted and we are forced to stay at home, it can quickly become apparent how important these obligations were to providing structure in our lives! Here are a few tips to help you stay mentally and physically healthy, even while social distancing:

1. Continue to have a schedule.

It can be easy to stop setting alarms or to become easily distracted by chores or technology when you are spending most of your time at home. While your time commitments and daily routine may be different during this time, that doesn’t mean you should start treating every day like a weekend. A recent study from Northwestern found that a lack of routine can cause stress, poor sleep, and ineffective use of time. So, continue to plan out your day to ensure you are making time for important tasks like work, self-care, sleeping, eating, and staying organized. You will feel better at the end of the day seeing how much you have accomplished!

2. Plan meal and snack times.

Grazing is a common problem for many people who work from home. This can lead to overeating or relying more on processed snack foods than whole foods for energy. Continue to plan meals and snacks on a daily or weekly basis and aim to eat every 2-4 hours during the day. Aim for a balance of nutrients at each meal and continue to prep food ahead of time to make healthier choices easier. If you need ideas for foods to have on hand during self-quarantine, check out our previous blog article.

3. Move your body every day.

Exercise has a multitude of benefits. It can boost mood, improve heart and bone health, and increase metabolism. It can also boost immunity by improving circulation and allowing the immune system to operate more effectively. Even if you can’t participate in exercise the same way you used to, find ways to stay active daily and get creative with the space or equipment you have at home. If you need some ideas, leave a comment on this page or check out these tips published last month by CNN.

4. Pick up a new (or old) hobby.

More free time could be a great opportunity to try something you always wanted to learn or get back into an activity that you haven’t had the time to pursue. Examples could be writing, painting, drawing, playing a musical instrument, photography, cooking, scrapbooking, or a host of other pursuits. You could also consider studying new subject matter, such as a foreign language or meditation. If you familiarize yourself with a new skill now, you will have an easier time continuing to utilize this skill once self-quarantine restrictions are lifted.

5. Schedule regular social time (from a distance).

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to how much social time they need to feel happy and complete. Whether you consider yourself to be more introverted or extroverted, keeping in contact with the people who are most important to you is critical for maintaining a sense of connection. Aim to reach out to at least one friend or family member daily, and schedule regular phone calls or video chats to keep in touch and prevent feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Thank you for reading! Please reach out if you need additional help with navigating nutrition and fitness routines– NOVA Sports Nutrition is offering all our services remotely at this time!

Continue Reading No Comments

The Best Foods to Have on Hand During Self-quarantine

This time of self-quarantine and social distancing poses some unique challenges for meal prepping and following a nutrition plan. Some foods that were once readily available are now scarce on the shelves or hard to keep on hand due to a short shelf life. For ideas on the best foods to look for by food group when you go shopping, read the list below to stay healthy and balanced!

  • Proteins. Protein is a nutrient that is critical to get in every day. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, we cannot store excess dietary protein, so we need to consume adequate protein daily to meet metabolic demands. The next time you go grocery shopping, look for the following items:
    • Packaged or canned fish/chicken
    • Frozen seafood, meat, or meat alternatives
    • Eggs/egg whites
    • Sliced deli meat (no nitrites or nitrates)
    • Beans, lentils, or peas (canned or dry)
    • Milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese
    • Protein bars/powders

 

  • Fruits and vegetables. Produce is one of the top sources of essential vitamins and minerals that offer antioxidant and immune-protecting benefits for the body. If you aren’t sure what to get, look for:
    • Frozen fruits or vegetables (frozen options are great because they retain high levels of vitamins and minerals – sometimes even more than fresh!)
    • Canned fruit or vegetables (no added sugar or artificial sweeteners for fruit and low- or no added sodium for vegetables)
    • Fruit pouches (such as apple sauce or mixed berries – these aren’t just for kids, but great for adults if you need fruit on-the-go or an easy-to-digest pre-workout snack)
    • Fresh potatoes, carrots, and onions or apples, pears, oranges (long shelf lives)
    • Do continue to get other fresh options weekly or as often as possible! As long as you plan ahead of time to intentionally use ingredients such as lettuce, mushrooms, or cucumbers in recipes, you can utilize these foods effectively and avoid waste.

 

  • Starches. These are typically easier to get at the store, but the source matters! High-nutrient options are best, such as:
    • Brown or wild rice, quinoa, cous cous, farro, etc.
    • Oatmeal, cream of rice, muesli
    • Whole grain wraps, bagels, or pasta
    • Potatoes, corn, or peas
    • Beans, lentils, or chick peas
    • Limit high-sugar, processed starches like chips, crackers, cookies, etc. Some comfort food is okay, but don’t rely on these foods for most meals and snacks!

 

  • Dairy. Dairy is important for getting in calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and more! These foods should be consumed on a regular basis for strong bones and balanced electrolyte levels:
    • Milk, regular yogurt, cheese
    • Note: You can get many of these nutrients from dairy alternatives, but some dairy alternatives like almond or coconut milk are much lower in protein and some products may not be calcium-fortified. Check labels to make sure you are getting the intended nutrients from a particular product.

 

  • Healthy fats. Important for healthy cell membranes and neural function, as well as the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. See if you can find:
    • Olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil
    • Nuts/seeds (any type of nut or seed is fine, but look for lightly salted or unsalted)
    • Black olives
    • Avocado/guacamole
    • Pesto
    • Limit butter, whole fat dairy, and high-fat meat, esp. if heart disease or high cholesterol are concerns.

 

  • Other ingredients to have on hand:
    • Corn starch
    • Chicken or vegetable stock
    • Bouillon cubes
    • Minced Garlic
    • Herbs and spices
    • Soy sauce or hot sauce
    • Vinegar (balsamic, white, red wine, etc.)

If you need help with meal planning, please reach out! I would be glad to assist you with developing a meal plan to meet your specific needs and preferences during this time. NOVA Sports Nutrition offers virtual nutrition counseling from the comfort of your home for ease and convenience.

Continue Reading No Comments

Contact

Email

info@novasportsnutrition.com

Location

Fairfax, VA 

Virtual Telehealth
USA