iPod App Review: LoseIt!

The LoseIt! App. is a handy dandy pocket dietitian! Well, not exactly.  Obviously you get much better and personalized information with a real RD, but this app would be a great thing to try out for a week or so before your visit. This way, you’ll have a clearer picture of where you are at right now when you go for your session.

The app allows you to input specific foods eaten during the day, exercise done and calculates your calories, all based on you weight loss or gain goals.  It is excellent to have on hand for those on the go but still concerned about their weight.  Simply create an account with your weight, height and current goals and the app will do the rest!

Pros:

  • Breaks each day down with a daily calorie budget, including food consume and exercise burned, to tell how many more calories today you can eat
    • Can get weekly averages, as well a nutrient analysis for each day and each weekly average
  • Food log allows for food input, with specific, brand name and restaurant food options
    • Also have the option to input and customize specific food if you can’t find a comparable
  • Exercise log very detailed, to include walking up stairs or carrying in groceries
    • Also allows for an input for customized workouts
  • Calculates your goals and presents them in an easy to read and  understandable fashion
  • Ability to add pass-code lock if your iPod is often viewed by others
  • Saves a log of My Foods for those you often eat to search through instead of entire database, as well as Previous Meals function if you often eat similar meals
  • Has a motivator function and a connect with friends function to keep your spirits and interest level up
  • Can input recipes you include in daily food log

Cons:

  • Requires input of each food, including details of individual condiments and components of the meal
  • Cannot transfer to metric units
  • Takes time
  • Can be a bad thing for those obsessed with tracking daily calories
  • You can’t “track” at this level the rest of your life

So check it out, but don’t play too long. You don’t want to associate “tracking” positive behaviors (eating healthy and exercise) with negative ones (like the “need” to watch/input every single step you take and food you eat the rest of your life.) My advice is always use the technology as a tool in the short term to get some information, then focus on yourself and behavior changes that will help you live healthier. An RD can really help you with that — oh and if you have a condition from diabetes to high cholesterol to food allergies, the app just can’t do that (nor should it!)

Find an RD at www.eatright.org

The Skinny on Alcohol and Healthy Weight Management

If you’re trying maintain a healthy balance in your life, it may seem that every time out for drinks with your friends could be a calorie disaster! Sugar-laden mixes push most standard cocktails well over 300 calories. Did you know that an 8-ounce pina colada can pack in 640 calories? Thats 100 calories more than a Quarter Pounder with cheese! Meanwhile, 8 oz of a Long Island iced tea tips the scale at 780 calories. But you don’t have to become a recluse to avoid these sugar bombs. Follow these tips and you’ll be in tip-top shape.

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Ask Yourself-do you really need that drink?

Try to limit yourself to only a couple drinks per week. There is no nutritional benefit to liquor, so each gram of alcohol provides 7 ‘empty’ calories. Not only will the drink up your caloric intake for the day, but it can also decrease your inhibitions when it comes to food. You may find yourself mindlessly overeating after drinking, be it a slice of pizza, cake, or whatever is closest to you before you stumble into bed.

Drinking alcohol can also make you feel hungrier because alcohol can lower blood sugar. Besides the fact that alcohol is highly addictive, drinking too much increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, and certain types of cancer. Leslie Schilling, RD, and low-calorie cocktail expert, said “There are many negative effects when alcohol is over consumed. Besides the obvious impaired judgment and operation of anything mechanical, decreased inhibitions and poor hydration status come to mind. Decreased inhibitions can lead to overeating and poor decisions of all sorts, while poor hydration status can leave you cramping on your morning jog and overly fatigued the next day.” If you feel pressured to be carrying a drink while out with friends-ask for soda water and lime.

Can I have your number?

According the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the allotted amount of alcohol per day is one drink for a woman and two drinks for a man.

A drink means:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5-ounce glass of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of an 80-proof liquor like vodka or rum

Each of these portions contain around the same amount of calories — 100-150 calories.

Watch the glass!

Serve wine in smaller, thinner glasses, so that you will not mindlessly pour more than the intended serving.

What are you drinking?

Wine
Remember: Despite all the press about red wine’s heart healthy benefits, the Mayo Clinic states, “There’s still no clear evidence yet that red wine is superior to other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-health benefits.” It’s not suggested by the American Heart Institute (or others) that you start drinking red wine solely for these health benefits! However, per oz, wine does have few calories than distilled spirits.

Beer
Reach for a light beer (around 100 calories per 12 ounce bottle) rather than regular bear (150 cal). Remember to stick to suggested portions (12 ounces for women and 24 ounces for men per day.)

Cocktails
Cocktail mixes are packed with sugar and when combined with alcohol, the calories for one drink can be 500 or more. Remember, you can also ask the bartender to make your order diet or light. Schilling’s favorite cocktail is a Vodka Grayhound-vodka and preferably fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.( See below for Schilling’s great Margarita recipe, and check out these lower Calorie Recipes of classic cocktails: Skinny Margaritas Low-cal Mojitos, Moscow Mules, and Caprhina’s . )

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Water:
Start your night off with a no-cal glass of H2O and continue to have one between every drink you order. Water will keep you hydrated so you’re not chugging cocktails to quench your thirst, and  it prevents you from having a hangover the next day, so we say cheers to that.

Leslie Schilling, RD, shared with me a low calorie cocktail recipe that’s in high demand at all of her dinner parties:

The Million-Dollar Margarita

Copyright © 2010 Leslie Schilling. All Rights Reserved.

Make 2 quarts (you might as well mix the pitcher)

  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1 12 fluid ounce light beer (yes, a beer)
  • 1 long squeeze lime (optional), ~ 1 Tbsp
  • 1 container sugar-free lemonade** (makes 2 quarts
  • Water

Mix the first four ingredients in a 2 quart pitcher. If you like, add the juice of one fresh lime (or natural lime juice). Add the sugar-free lemonade and mix with a whisk (clumps aren’t very popular or tasty). Fill the pitcher to the 2 quart mark with water. Stir and chill.

These are great served on ice right away or chilled for about an hour. They’re still very drinkable for about two days. **If you’d prefer a stevia-based sweetener, use one pack of no sugar added Lemonade, like Kool-Aid, and add 1 packet stevia sweetener to each glass.

Makes ~10, 6½ oz servings. Approximate calories per serving:  120-more than half the calories of an average margarita!

Take these tips into account and you’ll never gain the dreaded beer gut! See more of Leslie’s great recipes on her new blog Sippin Smart or follow it on twitter!

Do you have any tips to share? What’s your go-to drink at the bar?

A Margarita With Half the Calories

Who doesn’t love a good cocktail or wine at a dinner party? Those mixed drinks can be super high in calories. Well, if it is a margarita you crave, check out this delish recipe.

Leslie Schilling, RD, shared with me a low calorie cocktail recipe that’s in high demand at all of her dinner parties:

The Million-Dollar Margarita

Copyright © 2010 Leslie Schilling. All Rights Reserved.

Make 2 quarts (you might as well mix the pitcher)

  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1 12 fluid ounce light beer (yes, a beer)
  • 1 long squeeze lime (optional), ~ 1 Tbsp
  • 1 container sugar-free lemonade** (makes 2 quarts
  • Water

Mix the first four ingredients in a 2 quart pitcher. If you like, add the juice of one fresh lime (or natural lime juice). Add the sugar-free lemonade and mix with a whisk (clumps aren’t very popular or tasty). Fill the pitcher to the 2 quart mark with water. Stir and chill.

These are great served on ice right away or chilled for about an hour. They’re still very drinkable for about two days. **If you’d prefer a stevia-based sweetener, use one pack of no sugar added Lemonade, like Kool-Aid, and add 1 packet stevia sweetener to each glass.

Makes ~10, 6½ oz servings. Approximate calories per serving:  120-  a fraction of the calories of an average margarita!

Take these tips into account and you’ll never gain the dreaded beer gut! See more of Leslie’s great recipes on her new blog Sippin Smart or follow it on twitter!

There’s an App for That! The Top 14 Fitness Apps

By Carlene Helble- Elite Nutrition Intern

We are all permaninatly attached to our phones, but are you using  yours to help you stay healthy? Rebecca helped find 14 of the best apps to support healthy eating and exercise that you can download now! The article she is featured in is from the LifeScript website and has a variety of apps including Six Pack Abs, Run Keeper, and Exercise TV.

Have you downloaded some great healthy living apps yet? Ready, set, go!

Fruit Juice: Health or Hype?

Every time we turn on the TV, listen to the radio, drive down the road, we are bombarded with advertising from food marketers proclaiming that their product is the secret to weight loss, longevity, and pleasure. With over 200 food choices to make every day it is difficult to sort through claims produced by food manufacturers to make the best choice for your health. Today we’ll tackle the issue of fruit juices: health or hype

As part of its ongoing efforts to uncover over-hyped health claims in food advertising, the Federal Trade Commission has issued an administrative complaint charging the makers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice with making false and unsubstantiated claims that their products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said:

Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled. When a company touts scientific research in its advertising, the research must squarely support the claims made. Contrary to POM Wonderful’s advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses.

No one can argue that Pomegranates are a wonderful and healthy food, full of vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants, but a line must be draw as food marketers push their products to the extreme. According to Self Nutrition Data, pomegranates are a good source of dietary fiber (11 grams each), 5 grams of protein, folate (107 micrograms), calcium (28.2 mg), vitamin C (28.8 mg), and vitamin K (46.2 mcg). Since POM is made from 100% pomegranate juice, one would think it would have many of the same great nutrients.

Not so. A $3.99 16-oz bottle has 320 calories, 72 grams of sugar, no fiber, and no vitamin C, calcium, folate or vitamin K. Yes, the only ingredient many be pomegranates, but by stripping away the fiber and nutrients, you just have sugar-water. Nutritionally speaking, these aren’t much different from a soda. This isn’t unique to pomegranate juice. All fruit juice loses much of the original fruit’s nutritional value when the juice is extracted, but POM is going a bit overboard with their health claims. A glass of POM a day is not going to prevent heart disease if the rest of your diet is laden with trans and saturated fat. It is important to look at your diet in its entirety, rather than trying to gain benefits from a single serving of fruit juice.

So let’s get over this hype and get healthy! Swap out the juice and reach for a piece of fruit! Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit per day. If you enjoy fruit juice, try diluting it with sparkling water to make your own spritzer. Next time you are at a grocery store, take a closer look at the health claims the manufacturer proclaims. Turn the package over and take a look at the actual nutrition panel and judge the food for yourself. Knowledge is power, and make sure you are well-armed!

What are your thoughts on this Fruit Juice Debate? Do you have any other health claims that you are confused about?

Time To Taper

If you’re running a fall marathon like me, most likely your long runs are now behind you and it’s time to taper! Tapering is both an exciting and scary concept for most runners. By decreasing your mileage you are letting your body rest and recover before the big day, but at times it can feel like you aren’t doing enough. But tapering is a tried and true part of training that I urge you to incorporate prior to your race.

First of all, what is a taper? This is the period in training when weekly and long run mileage is reduced, usually 2-3 weeks before the race. If you are already following a training plan, like Hal Higdon’s this should be incorporated in the plan. If you would like to check out some more tapering schedules, check out this link.

So while reducing mileage may seem easy, often times runner develop not only a physical addiction to running, but also a psychological need to iron out any life kinks on the road. Without those long runs, it is important that you find other ways to occupy your time. Surround yourself by those who love and support you, take the time to watch a new movie, and enjoy some of your other hobbies. Don’t let Taper Madness grab hold of you, race day will come, and your training will shine through. Research has shown that those who taper properly perform better than those who train right up until race day.

Here’s a few more tips I have found helpful while tapering:

  • Runner’s World suggests sticking to your training log. No matter how short and easy your runs get during the taper, keep recording your workouts in your log to reinforce the feeling that you are studiously sticking to the plan.
  • Listen to your body. Last minute workouts the week of the marathon are not going to improve your time. Trust your previous training and if you are feeling either physically or mentally tired or your leg muscles are fatigued, give them rest.
  • Make Sure you are stretching! Check out these great stretches for runners
  • Keep your nutrition at it’s peak! In the week before the race, gradually increase your carbohydrate intake. Chose high quality, nutritious foods to fuel your race-day. This article has some great nutrition tips for the week before the big day!
  • Drink up!! Make sure you are hydrate well the week before the marathon and in particular, during the carbohydrate loading period.
  • Don’t fret over weight gain! If your weight fluctuates a few pounds, don’t panic. Because of reduced activity, and increased hydration, this is mostly water weight! I assure you it will disappear immediately post-race.
  • If you are traveling to your race, make sure to pack some of your favorite foods, and foods that you are used to using on your training runs. If you have been using a specific source of carbohydrates during your long runs, now is not the time to switch it up! Save yourself some headaches (and tummyaches!) by planning ahead and packing what you’ll need!
  • Catch your ZZZZZs! Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep the week prior to the marathon.

Need more guidence? Marathon Training.com has a great  Race Countdown and Marathon Strategy section for additional information about final preparations before the race.

By listening to your body and giving it time to rest and recovery, you’ll be more than ready when the starting gun goes off! Best of luck in your race!

Let’s here from my runner readers! Have any tips for other racers? What do you do before a race? Any superstitions or lasting traditions? What fall races are you running?

Is KFC’s Double Down Calorie Count Accurate?

The newest culinary celebrity to hit the red carpet is a cute little sandwich called the Double Down, courtesy of KFC. A fast-food chicken lover’s dream and a health foodie’s nightmare, (DIR actually called it “frightening”), the Double Down is cheese, sauce, and baconbetween two pieces of chicken, either fried or grilled.

The Original Recipe (read: fried) Double Down has 540 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat, 1,380 mg of sodium, and one gram of fiber. The grilled Double Down (for the health conscious, of course) is 460 calories, nine grams of saturated fat, 1,430 mg of sodium, and zero grams of fiber.

Not sure what those numbers mean? Well…  its over a half day’s worth of salt in a palm-sized sandwich (if we can call it that, considering the lack of a bun).

A blogger has recently disputed the above info, calling “bulls***” on KFC, claiming the fast food chain is not being truthful about the (ahem) nutrition facts. They came up with their own calorie counts, which pins the grub at upwards of 1,000 calories!

I actually have to respectfully disagree with that blog critic, however. This “double down” is pretty small and I bet that the blogger overestimated its portion size. The only way to really test if KFC is being truthful would be to burn it up in an incinerator and measure the kilojoules of energy burned. Not very practical. I guess you could also buy a sandwich, weigh and measure the ingredients and look up the info in a database, but that’s a lot of work!

Some eateries have, in fact, been off with their calorie counts. The sad truth is restaurants don’t have to be accurate with their nutrition facts, unlike food you buy off the shelf. But if you take a look at a video of the Double Down, you’ll see that the pieces of meat are barely larger than your hand.

So big deal, a fried chicken, bacon, and cheese sandwich may have errors in their nutrition info. Would you really think you are eating healthy if that palm-sized fast food sandwich took up a half day’s worth of saturated fat and sodium?

If your goal is to eat healthy, then this sandwich, regardless of any potential for errors, is not exactly the way to go about it. Not a health food. There is a serious lack of veggies, no carbs, and no fiber.

But far be it for me to tell you what you should put into your body. If you have a burning desire to try it, split it with a friend and pair it with a salad. You’ll get to taste a “double down” without doubling over.

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