Sunday, October 27, 2019

How to avoid the weight-gain struggle in mid-life

Remember when maintaining your weight wasn’t so hard in your 20’s and 30’s?  Then come the 40’s, 50’s and beyond and keeping the weight off becomes quite the struggle.  How can you avoid that midlife weight- gain struggle?  Adding pounds as you age, doesn’t mean you are eating all that much.  Your body changes as you age and it really is harder to keep the weight off.  What are those changes and how can we keep some of those pounds from showing up on our hips and waist? has some good suggestions.

How the body changes as you age:
  1. Fat cells -those pesky little buggers that are happy to grow bigger as they fill up with fat.  An article in Nature found that how our fat cells burn and store fat changes as we age.  Basically, as we age our fat cells store fat as before, but fat cells are less likely to release that stored fat, thus making it easier to add on those pounds.  To try to keep the weight off, many people try to reduce their caloric intake, which isn’t so easy to do.  
  2. But – one can do something to help those pesky fat cells burn up their stores of fat.  Add some HIIT to your week.
What is HIIT exercising and how does HIIT Help with Weight Loss? 
We are told to keep up our exercise during midlife and beyond.   In fact, one reason our body adds on some of those pounds is that many people exercise less and less as they get older.  Going for walks, bicycling, taking an aerobic or yoga class are all great ways to keep exercising.  However, the researchers found that to turn up the “burn” and get those fat cells firing on all cylinders, one should do more HIIT workouts.  The researchers had women bicycle for 20 minutes on stationary bikes three times a week.  Each time they did the HIIT form of exercise and continued this regimen for 12 weeks.  Not only did the subjects drop some weight, their belly fat decreased.  Interesting that the HIIT group lost more belly fat than those who bicycled twice as long – 40-minute sessions three times a week.  So, one exercises less but ends up losing more weight?  That is what many people like to hear.

What is the HIIT method of exercising?  HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training.  It is any workout in which you alternate between short bursts of activity followed by less-intense activity or resting.  These workouts are often pretty short – usually 15-20 minutes but very effective on burning fat and revving up one’s metabolism.
 1.  Bicycling – I often do a spinning class for an hour. However, if I miss my class I go to the gym and do a HIIT workout on the stationary bike for less than 30 minutes.  I find myself sweating and feeling more exhausted than my usual 60-minute bike class.  There are many ways to incorporate HIIT into bicycling but I tried: 
  •  5-6-minute warm-up 
  •  1-minute sprint followed by a 2-minute recovery and repeat 4x 
  •  5-6-minute cool down 
Enjoy bike riding and try some HIIT
2.  Walking – one doesn’t have to go to the gym to incorporate a HIIT workout into their day.  MyFitnessPal offers the 30-minute HIIT walk.  They encourage you to adapt the routine to fit your fitness level and time available.  One can shorten the intensity bursts and lengthen the recovery, if needed.
  •  3-minute warmup – walk at a comfortable pace
  •  Intervals – repeat 5 times:  3 minutes- walk briskly, 1-minute walk fast – as quick as you can, 1-minute recovery.
  • Cool down – 2 minutes or more if needed
How muscles affect our body weight – as we age, most of us will lose some muscle mass and gain more body fat.  In the nutrition class I teach I show a picture of a cross-section of a young woman’s leg compared to an older woman.  The young woman’s leg is mostly muscle.  The older woman’s leg is mostly fat.  The muscle she did have turned to fat as she aged.  Losing muscle and gaining fat is another reason our metabolism slows down as we age.  Weight lifting can help prevent the loss of our muscle and keep our metabolism firing better.  Other Researchers have found that including both aerobic exercise and weight lifting in your weekly routine can increase your Growth Hormone levels which promotes fat burning. 

Yes, our bodies seem to slow down with aging and along with the slow down can come those unwanted pounds and a bigger stomach.  But there are things we can do to stave off Father Time for a while longer.  Try to incorporate some HIIT workouts this week.  Who doesn’t like the idea of exercising for less time but getting a bigger benefit?
Add some HIIT to your walk

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Add some protein to your breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But a meal many people skip.  If you are trying to lose or maintain your weight, skipping breakfast is not a good idea.  The National Weight Control Registry studied the “success stories” of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off.  One of their findings is that of those who have lost weight and kept it off, “78% eat breakfast every day”.  Not only is breakfast a healthy habit, it is also a good habit if you want to maintain your weight.

One food group not to ignore at breakfast is protein.  Protein helps keep us full longer so you won’t be so hungry mid-morning.  And protein is important for helping each of us retain our muscle mass, especially for those over 50.  How much protein?  Aim for 20 grams at breakfast.  Doesn’t sound like much but achieving 20 grams takes some planning.

Typical breakfast

Cereal + Milk + OJ + black coffee = about 10 grams of protein.
  • 1 c. oatmeal = 5 grams protein
  • ½ c. milk = 4 grams protein
  • 1 cup OJ = 1 gram protein
Not a bad choice especially if the cereal is whole grain, like oatmeal.  Milk provides a high-quality protein, even higher quality than meat.  My husband wanted to increase the protein at breakfast so he added 1 cup of Greek yogurt.  Yogurt is made from milk so is a very high-quality protein.  And Greek yogurt provides more protein than regular yogurt.  A 5.3 ounce serving of Greek yogurt provides 12 grams of high-quality protein.  So, his 10 grams of protein breakfast became a 22-gram protein breakfast.  

More milk – I don’t like Greek yogurt so adding Greek yogurt to breakfast would not be my choice.  To add more protein to my breakfast, I began making my oatmeal with 1 cup of real milk instead of one cup of water.  As a result, I get 8 grams of high-quality protein along with the 5 grams of protein the oatmeal provides.  And I use real milk, not fake milk.  Almond milk is low in protein and would not be a good way to add protein to your day.  I add one slice of whole wheat bread for 6 grams of protein and my breakfast totals 20 grams of protein.  
Make with milk to boost protein
What are some other ways to add protein to breakfast?
  1. Scrambled Eggs + Toast with Peanut Butter = 22 grams of protein:  Eggs are number one when it comes to protein quality.  One egg provides 6 grams of the best-quality protein.  Two eggs (12 grams protein), 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter (4 grams protein) and one slice of whole wheat bread (6 grams protein) provides 22 grams of protein for your breakfast.  Want to cut back on cholesterol?  Then try one egg scrambled with one egg white.   Egg white has no cholesterol and is pretty much pure protein.   In one of my nutrition classes, a student asked if egg whites were a good source of protein.  Not only a good source of protein, but egg whites are number one in terms of protein quality.  And egg whites are very low in calories – only about 17 calories per egg white from a large egg.  But you don’t want to leave out the yolk, as the yolk has most of the nutrients.  This is especially important for growing children who need the iron, the B vitamin choline and the many other nutrients in the egg yolk.
  2. Greek Yogurt Parfait: enjoy one cup of Greek yogurt which alone supplies 20 grams of protein.  Top with granola, and your favorite berries like blueberries, fresh or frozen or fresh or frozen strawberries, or raspberries.  When buying granola, look for the kind with less added sugar.  The Greek yogurt parfait provides the protein and the carbs to start your day.
Breakfast Parfait
  1. Ham and Cheese Frittata great way to add some protein from eggs, ham and cheese to your day.  If you can afford the calories, make it as it is.  If not, you can use 2% milk cheese, 2% milk to cut back on some of the saturated fat. 
Ham and cheese frittata
Enjoy breakfast this week and come up with ways to up your protein at breakfast.  You will find out that the hunger pains stay away until noon or so.  Protein is quite satisfying and filling.  How can you add more protein to your day and to your breakfast?

Sources:  findings, Almond, breakfast, calories, nutrients, Frittata    Image Sources: Parfait  , frittata

Ham and Cheese Frittata
  •  2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (use EVVO)
  •  ½ pound sliced, then chopped deli ham
  • 12 eggs – large (we like to use Eggland’s Best eggs)
  •  1 cup shredded sharp yellow cheddar – divide as noted in recipe (use 2% cheese if you wish to cut calories and saturated fat)
  • ¼ cup real milk (If you wish to cut calories and saturated fat, use low fat milk)
  • If you like, add some chopped onion, chopped green and red pepper, and some mushrooms.
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
Preheat over to 400 degrees F.  Over medium-high heat, add olive oil to an oven safe, 12” nonstick skillet. Once the oil is hot, add in ham and cook (with the chopped onion, chopped green and red peppers and mushrooms).  About 4-5 minutes until ham is crispy on all sides.  While ham (and veggies) are cooking, crack 12 eggs in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and whisk until very well blended.  Whisk in milk and half the shredded cheese.  Pour the egg mixture over the ham (and veggies).  Using a plastic spatula, pull the eggs away from the edges once or twice and let the eggs set on the stove for 1 minute.  Top with remaining shredded cheese and bake 13-15 minutes or until the middle is set and top is beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and loosen the edge with a spatula.  (I would like to try these in 12 muffin cups to see how well they would come out.)   Slice into 8 wedges and serve. To pack up for a lunch, let cool before wrapping. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

What are the good fats?

Last week we talked about the fats that are not so good for your health – the saturated fats.  But what are the good fats?  Fats we can enjoy eating and not worry about heart health?  Yes, there are a lot of heart healthy fats.  How do you know how to choose the fats that are good for your heart?

What are the heart healthy fats?

 1. Unsaturated fats – the “good” fats, the heart healthy fats are unsaturated and usually liquid at room temperature.  These fats don’t clog your arteries.  The “bad” fats for our health are saturated fats and usually solid at room temperature.  The vegetable oils are usually liquid at room temperature while the saturated fats like bacon grease become solid at room temperature.  Unsaturated fats not only help lower blood cholesterol; they also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
a.       Oils – what oils are considered good for your heart?
                                                               i.   Olive oil – a healthy choice.  Olive oil is part of the Mediterranean Diet which is an overall healthy eating pattern to follow and a diet that promotes heart health.  Adding more olive oil to your day can decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.   Cooking vegetables with Extra Virgin Olive Oil actually promotes absorption of more of the healthy compounds in the olive oil. 
                                                             ii.      Canola oil – A heart healthy choice for cooking and in salad dressings.
                                                           iii.      Sunflower oil, safflower oil – these oils are better for cooking at higher temperatures.  Some studies have shown these types of oils are even better at lowering the bad or LDL cholesterol in the blood.  So, using these oils in the kitchen is a heart-healthy choice.
b.       Omega-3 fats – watch TV and you will see a lot of commercials about omega-3 fats.  Unfortunately, most are for some supplement and not real food.  To get heart healthy omega-3 fats think fish and include salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, the delicious lake trout and mackerel. 
c.       Nuts – especially walnuts are heart healthy.  And walnuts provide the heart healthy omega-3 fats.  Sprinkle some chopped walnuts are your cereal or on a salad to boost your heart health.  Add some walnuts to cookies, muffins when you are baking.
d.       Seeds – you will hear people into health talking about eating flax seeds or chia seeds.  Some sprinkle these seeds on their cereal, some add the seeds to smoothies.  Heart healthy breads like Dave’s Killer “Epic Everything” bread includes flax, chia, sesame and poppy seeds.   
This bread contains a lot of healthy seeds that are good for your heart.
 e.       Eggs – eggs used to be the “bad guys” because they have cholesterol.  But the American Heart Association has lightened up on eggs and says we can enjoy some eggs each week.   You can buy eggs that are from chickens given feed containing omega-3 fats and thus the eggs are higher in omega-3 fats.  Look for “omega-3” on the egg package.  We buy Eggland’s Best eggs which have the omega-3 fats.  
Eggland's Best eggs provide healthy omega 3 fats
f.        Avocadosnot only are avocados a good source of unsaturated fats, they also provide the mineral potassium (also good for heart health), fiber and many vitamins like folate, B-6, C and E. 
g.       Peanut butter – nuts are heart healthy as is the food made from nuts like peanut butter.  If you buy the natural kind with the oil separated on top, mix it in rather than pour off the oil.  You want the oil mixed in as the oil is heart healthy.  If your kids only like the peanut butter with some sugar added, fine.  As long as you get some peanut butter in them, it is heart healthy.

2. Replace the saturated, “bad” fats with heart-healthy “good” fats.  One doesn’t want to cut out all fat in their diet or replace the “bad” fats with foods high in added sugar or other refined carbs.  In fact, a healthy diet has about 20-35% of calories coming from fat.  Those wanting to lose weight can aim for the 20% fat calories in their diets.  Athletes, or those in occupations that burn a lot of calories will want to be at the higher end and take in about 35% of their calories as fat.  And even the heart association allows for 10% of calories to come from saturated fats.  Which is great as who doesn’t enjoy a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich or bacon and eggs for breakfast?

Don’t shy away from fats in your diet.  We have a variety of oils in our pantry including Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and sunflower oil.  In our fridge we have Smart Balance margarine which is made from vegetable oils including olive oil and canola oil.  We also have peanut butter, mixed nuts and usually some chopped walnuts to sprinkle on our cereal.  Or, we enjoy peanut M&M’s.  A fun way to add some nuts to one’s day.  How can you add some heart healthy fats to your day?  Perhaps try a Chocolate Banana Smoothie, recipe below.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie Recipe
  • 1 cup fat-free chocolate milk (real milk is the best milk)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
  • 4-6 ice cubes

Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a blender or a food processor. Blend until smooth.
Nutrition Information:  Calories:  330   Total Fat 13 grams, saturated fat 2.5 grams.  Sodium 180 mg, Total carbs 44 grams, dietary fiber 4 gram and protein 15 grams.