Archive for December, 2010

#7 Powerfood: Lean Meats/Poultry/Fish

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Lean steak, chicken, and fish are good for building muscle and improving the immune system.

These foods include protein, iron, zinc, creatine (beef), omega-3 fatty acids (fish), vitamin B6 (chicken and fish), B12, phosphorous, and potassium, which help fight against obesity, mood disorders, memory loss, and heart disease.

Some sidekicks include: shellfish, canadian bacon, and lean pork loin. Avoid imposters like: sausage, bacon, cured meats, ham, fatty cuts of steak like T-bone and rib eye.

Protein should be the base of any diet plan since it is a muscle-building nutrient. Turkey breast is one of the leanest meats available and it contains nearly one-third of the daily requirement of niacin and vitamin B6. Dark meats contain zinc and iron. Note: avoid self-basting turkeys because they are injected with fat.

Beef is the top food source for creatine, which your body uses when you life weights. However, beef contains saturated fats, so look for rounds or loins which are extra-lean. Sirloins and New York strips are less fatty than prime ribs and T-bones.

If you need to avoid saturated fats, include more tuna and salmon in your diet. The omega-3 fatty acids help lower the leptin hormone in your body, which is associated with storing calories as fat. A research study done at the University of Wisconson found that misc with lower leptin levels had faster metabolisms. A Mayo Clinic study of two African tribes found that leptin levels were nearly five times lower in the tribe that ate fish frequently, than the tribe that primarily ate vegetables.

Researchers in Stockholm found that men who had no fish in their diet had a higher risk (three times) of prostate cancer than those who ate it regularly.

#6 Powerfood: Eggs

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The protein and vitamins A and B12 in Eggs are great for building muscle and burning fat. They also help fight against obesity.  Vitamin B12 is necessary for the breakdown of fat.

Sidekicks of eggs are just the egg whites, commonly known as “Egg Beaters”. They have fewer calories, no fat, but just as much of the nutrients present in the whole egg.

Doctors long avoided recommending eggs as part of a diet because two eggs contain more than your recommended daily value of cholesterol. Eating egg whites reduces the amount of cholesterol, but it turns out that more and more research shows that eating an egg or two a day will not raise cholesterol levels.

Most blood cholesterol is made by the body from dietary fat, not dietary cholesterol. That’s why eating them daily is no longer considered a danger – take advantage of the protein available in them. They have the highest biological value of protein of any food. This value is a measure of how well your body’s protein needs are satisfied by the eggs, and it’s high! That means they are more effective at muscle building than other sources of protein, such as beef and milk.

I have two to three egg whites daily, sometimes with an extra protein source like turkey bacon. I must get back into the habit of having McCann’s Oatmeal with my daily dose of eggs.

#5 Powerfood: Oatmeal

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Eat your oatmeal unsweetened and unflavored. It boosts energy and sex drive, reduces cholesterol, and maintains blood-sugar levels (think Zone diet). Complex carbohydrates and fiber help fight against heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and obesity.

Sidekicks of oatmeal include high-fiber cereals like All-Bran and Fiber One. Avoid imposters like sugary cereals. I got into the habit a few years ago of slow-cooking McCann’s Irish Steel-Cut Oats, which I think is a perfect choice. Add some skim milk, blueberries or raspberries to spice it up.

Oatmeal is a perfect 10. But avoid the sweetened, or flavored oatmeal – they come loaded with sugar.

Oatmeal contains soluble fiber; it attracts fluid and stays in your stomach longer than insoluble fiber (like vegetables). Soluble fiber is thought to reduce blood cholesterol by binding with digestive acids made from cholesterol and sending them through the blood stream. A deficit of digestive acids in the stomach means the liver must pull cholesterol from your blood stream to make more, lowering the count of bad cholesterol.

Most doctors recommend you get from 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day, but most of us probably get half that. Aim for 35 to 45 grams per day.

A Penn State study also showed that oatmeal sustains your blood sugar levels longer than many other food, keeping insulin levels stable. This helps control your appetite. Insulin is a storage hormone; spikes in this hormone slow down your metabolism and tell your body to store fat. Since oatmeal breaks down slowly in the stomach, it causes less of an insulin spike than other foods like bagels. Preliminary studies also indicate that oatmeal raises the levels of free testosterone in your body, enhancing the body’s ability to build muscle and burn fat.

#4 Powerfood: Dairy Products

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, Kefir, cheese and cottage cheese are some other power foods.

Constituents that help build strong bones and assist with weight loss are Calcium, vitamins A and B12, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium.

Avoid the imposters: whole milk and frozen yogurt 🙁

We all know that dairy strengthens bones, but there’s a lot of other good it does. Evidence has shown that calcium helps control your weight. A study done by the University of Tennessee found that dieters who consumed between 1,200 and 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day lost nearly twice as much weight as those who consumed less calcium. It’s possible that the mineral prevents weight gain by increasing the breakdown of body fat and inhibiting its formation.

Of the dairy products listed above, choose mile first since as a liquid, it take up more room in your stomach — leaving you fuller, faster.

I personally need to drink more milk. We always have fat-free milk in the house (from Halo-Farms) because Jeannie loves it and the boys drink a lot of it.

#3 Powerfood: Spinach and Green Vegetables

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I must admit I like spinach. Every day I have salad at work, I use spinach instead of lettuce, and I use a lot of it. There are so few calories in spinach that it’s hard to eat too much.

Spinach and greens neutralize free radicals (which are the molecules that accelerate the aging process). They do this with the following: Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K; folate; beta-carotine; minerals including calcium and magnesium; fiber.

They also help fight against cancer, heart disease, stoke, obesity and osteoporosis.

Some sidekicks of spinach include: cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts; green, yellow, red and orange vegetables too, like asparagus, peppers and yellow beans. Personally, I don’t like asparagus but I’ve only ever had it cooked. Come to think of it, I don’t like cooked spinach but I love it raw and fresh. Perhaps I should try raw asparagus. I love red peppers and occasionally enjoy green peppers, but I’ve never had yellow beans.

Don’t fry vegetables or douse them with fatty cheese sauces. It will ruin their effectiveness.

One serving of spinach supplies nearly a full day’s worth of vitamin A and half the required amount of vitamin C. It contains lots of Folate, which protects against heart disease, stroke, and colon cancer.

Broccoli is high in fiber and more densely packed with vitamins and minerals than almost any other food. I like to eat broccoli raw or cooked, but if you don’t it, try to puree it and add it to chili or a marinara sauce. Also, the more you chop it up, the easier it is for your body to absorb its nutrients.

To do: try yellow beans, and raw asparagus.

#2 Powerfood: Beans and Other Legumes

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Beans and other legumes include (but are not necessarily limited to): soybeans, chickpeas, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, and lima beans.

These beans help: build muscle, burn fat, and regulate digestion.  They fight against obesity, colon cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

This is done with these “secret weapons” fiber, protein, iron and folate.

Sidekicks in this category of food include: lentils, peas, bean dips, hummus and edamame. But don’t fall for the evil imposters: refried beans (which are high in saturated fats) and baked beans (this was one of my favorites growing up, but is high in sugar).

Beans are good for your heart; the more you eat them, the more you… can control your hunger.

Black beans, lima beans, pinto beans, navy beans — you pick it. They’re all low in fat and brimming with protein, fiber and iron. These nutrients are crucial for building muscle and losing weight.

Unfortunately, there are undesired gastrointestinal results side-effects, but they provide strong nutritional benefits.

Try to have a meal laden with beans a couple times a week, instead of meal heavy with meat and you’ll cut out a lot of saturated fat and replace it with more fiber.

I think I am already doing pretty good in this category. For lunch each weekday, my salad includes kidney beans and chickpeas. It also includes green peas.

12 PowerFoods for Christmas – #1 Almonds and other Nuts

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

It’s not quite 12 days before Christmas, but I’m starting a 12-part post on powerfoods that will help keep me healthy, reduce pain, improve recovery and rehabilitation, and help improve fat loss. Today marks the real first day I’m tracking my food, and it happens to be exactly four weeks prior to first days of Sensei Kisaka’s 2011 Karate Winter Special Training. The intention is for me to use these foods more and more in my everyday diet. I figure I will remember them better by focusing on a different one each day.

Credit goes to Performance Spine and Sports Medicine for the core of this information. They handed out a packet containing this data when I attended a seminar at Gold’s Gym Lawrenceville a few weeks ago: “You Can’t Do Squat Without Your Knees.” The talk was given by Dr. Jimenez.

Eat almonds and other nuts with the skins intact.

These almonds and nuts are superpowers in building muscle and fighting food cravings. This will be a big help for me now that I’m concentrating more focus on my eating habits.

The “secret weapons” in almonds and nuts are: proteinmono-unsaturated fats, vitamin E, folate (in peanuts), fiber, magnesium, and phosphorus.

They fight against obesity, heart disease, muscle loss and cancer.

Close cousins of almonds and nuts which are also helpful include: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, omega-3 rich flaxseed, and avocados. I don’t think I’ve actually eaten avocados before.

Avoid these evil imposters: salted or smoked nuts. Higher levels of sodium in these nuts spike blood pressure.

Worried about fats in nuts? There are good fats and bad fats. My favorite treat lately has been peanut butter cookies. These soft, tasty cookies are made by Dow Jones’ cafeteria and they are very good. They literally bake peanut butter cups into the cookie. Unfortunately, the small amount of unsaturated fats in the peanut butter in those cookies doesn’t make up for all the evils they bring, like all the saturated fat in the cookie itseld 🙁  Nuts on the other hand are high in protein and mono-unsaturated fats. And almonds are the king of this category. I can eat as much as two handfuls a day.

If I eat two ounces of almonds (about 24 of them) each day, my hunger will be suppressed. Apparently this appetite suppressant works even better if I wash down those almonds with a tall glass of water.

Maybe I’ll try this alternative to cookies sometime this week: spray a handful of almonds with nonstick cooking spray and bake them at 400 degrees for five to ten minutes. Once done, sprinkle them with either brown sugar and cinnamon mix, or cayenne pepper and thyme.