Category Archives: calorie counting

Exercising while restricting calories could be bad for bone health – Study

A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows how bones in mammals are negatively impacted by calorie restriction, and particularly by the combination of exercise and calorie restriction. Maya Styner, MD, associate professor of medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, is the senior author on the study.

“These findings were somewhat of a surprise for us,” Styner said. “Past studies in mice have shown us that exercise paired with a normal calorie diet, and even a high calorie diet, is good for bone health. Now we’re learning this isn’t true for exercise along with a calorie-restricted diet.”

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Styner’s research focuses on the fat in bone marrow of mice. Although fat in the bone is poorly understood, to date it is thought to be harmful to bones of mammals, including humans, because it makes bone weaker. Less fat is usually an indication of better bone health. Styner’s past studies have looked at the effects of calorie consumption on bone marrow fat, along with the role exercise plays. She’s found that in obesity caused by excess calories, the amount of bone marrow fat is increased. Exercise in both obese and normal weight mice decreased bone marrow fat and improved the density of bones. Continue reading

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Reading food labels …

The information on food labels was updated recently by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I think they did a good job on helping the consumer to better understand the nutrients in food packages.

Below is an example of the updated label.

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On the left is the old format, one the right, the new. As you can see the Serving Size and Calories are now more prominently displayed. Additionally, the number of servings per container is also given. In the past many folks would read the calories without paying attention to the serving size or number of servings per container. For example, a package of potato chips might have told you innocently that there were 150 calories per serving. Not bad, you might conclude … if you weren’t aware that the package contained four servings, so, if you ate the whole bag, you were getting 600 calories.

Here are some tips offered by Rush Medical Center on reading the labels:

 

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You can cut your ice cream calories

I scream, you scream. We all scream for ice cream.

Okay, summer season has officially arrived. Even here in Chicago where we have experienced the coldest spring in my memory. So, let’s talk about ice cream.

Ice cream was one of the highlights of my childhood summers and I can’t deny still feeling attracted to it at this time of year.

A waffle cone can double the calories in your ice cream treat.

A waffle cone can double the calories in your ice cream treat.

For the most part, ice cream is empty calories, but with a little foresight, you can still enjoy some without getting into trouble. Just don’t overdo it. Continue reading

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What about eating French fries? – Tufts

I confess that I love french fries. I also confess that I don’t eat them very often because of their fat content and fears of what I am putting into my system. The following is from The Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

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Photo by Marco Fischer on Pexels.com

 Q. Potatoes are a vegetable, so why aren’t French fries good for you? Are the nutrients destroyed in the frying process?

A. “A medium baked potato (with skin) is a good source of potassium, vitamins C and B6, and fiber. But potatoes don’t contain other nutrients, such as the carotenoids and phytochemicals found in more brightly-colored vegetables,” says Helen Rasmussen, PhD, RD, a senior research dietitian at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “Peeling to remove the skin to make fries and chips results in the loss of a large portion of the fiber, further diminishing the potato’s nutritional value. In addition, French fries are typically salted. Most of us consume more than the recommended amount of sodium, and eating highly salted foods like fries makes that situation worse.”

“Deep frying potatoes to turn them into French fries does not change them that much, but it does increase the number of calories per serving, so we get less nutrients per calorie when we eat them. We each need a particular number of calories to fuel our bodies, and we also need a sufficient intake of many different nutrients. If we choose to consume something like French fries frequently and in a large quantity, we will surpass our calorie needs before we meet all of our nutrient needs, which can impact health.”

“Enjoy potatoes sometimes as part of a balanced, healthy dietary pattern. Think of them as a substitute for grains rather than vegetables when you fill up your plate. Leave the skin on, prepare them in a variety of ways, and avoid adding a lot of butter, cream, and salt. Round out your plate with plenty of colorful vegetables and other plant foods.”

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Just how healthy is watermelon?

It’s early in watermelon season and I thought it might be nice to discuss this giant member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Although watermelons are sold year ’round, summer is their season and that’s when you get the best tasting ones. It is aptly named because a watermelon consists of 92 percent water. Can you say super-hydrator?

Full disclosure: Mr. Lazy Cook loves watermelon. What’s not to like? It is utterly simple to deal with and tastes delicious. Below is a photo of my first watermelon this year. Yum.

My first watermelon of the season

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Easter Ham – How many calories?

Ham is the traditional Easter main course, unless you’re going to an Easter buffet with your family and have miles of different foods to choose from.

Beware the salt in Easter ham

So how many calories are in that ham, or how much can you eat without ruining your calorie count on Easter? And what about the salt? Ham and salt go together because salt is used to cure and preserve ham.

Here are some differing estimates that may help you with that ham dinner. Myfitnesspal.com puts a three-ounce serving of honey baked ham, spiral cut, at a very manageable 150 calories. Three ounces is a small amount, less than a quarter of a pound, however. The quarter pounder works for McDonald’s. Maybe it can work for you, too.

But then the salt kicks in. That three-ounce portion has 960 mg of salt, or 320 mg an ounce. We need around 2000 milligrams a day and medical experts say that many of us should cut it to 1500.

Another site good on calorie matters, SparkRecipes.com, puts 5.33 ounces of ham, presumably made without the honey this time, at 337 calories but with a sodium level of 2,273.4 mg. Experts recommend that adults consume below 1500 mg of salt per day.

Maybe the idea is that Easter only comes around once a year. Enjoy some ham and be done with it. Just don’t overdo it, particularly in view of the sodium content.

I think the old saw, “All things in moderation” comes into play here. You can enjoy some ham on Easter as long as you don’t make a pig of yourself.

Tony

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How many calories do you burn in a day? – Infographic

Although this blog started out as simply a weight loss tool, it has since morphed into a guide for general healthy (and long) living. Nonetheless, knowing how to count calories and how we burn them is a super tool for living a healthy life. Hence, the following infographic.

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Trick or Treat – How Much Chocolate Do We Eat?

Since this is the biggest day for chocolate consumption in the year, I thought it might be interesting to check into it.

Do you know how much chocolate the average American eats in a year? One pound? Ten pounds?

As a matter of fact we eat an average of a pound of chocolate a month, so, by a process of rapid calculation, 12 pounds in a year.

chocolate

According to WebMD’s chocolate quiz “We each eat close to a dozen pounds of chocolate per year. And most of that is milk chocolate. More than 90 percent of Americans say they prefer milk chocolate over dark or white.

“It takes a long time to work off all that chocolate. It would take a 130-pound woman about four days and nights (95 hours) of brisk walking to burn off those calories!”

And I know you have heard that chocolate has caffeine in it, but how much? WebMD says,

“You’d need to eat 14 regular-sized (1.5 oz) bars of milk chocolate to get the same caffeine as you’d find in a 8-ounce cup of coffee! That would have about 3,000 calories and more than 300 grams of sugar — compared to only about two calories in black coffee.

“Dark chocolate does have more caffeine than milk chocolate. Even then, it would take four bars to give you the same buzz as one cup of regular Joe.”

So, enjoy the evening, but if you are going out with your little trick or treater, keep in mind how much walking is required to burn off those calories.

Tonya

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Everything you wanted to know about calorie-counting – MNT

This blog started out as a ‘weight loss blog’ in 2010. In the ensuing seven-plus years, I have come to consider that weight loss by itself is a shallow goal. It feels superficial and negative to me. Instead, I now focus on the positive goal of living a healthy life by eating intelligently and exercising regularly. My weight has fluctuated within about a five pound range for the past six years or so. I weigh myself once a week just to make sure that I haven’t gone off track as I still like to eat. I realize that with more than 60 percent of us overweight and 30 percent of us outright obese, there are lots of folks out there who need to lose weight. In that context, I have found that counting calories is an excellent tool in this endeavor.

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Here is a very useful write up from Medical News Today on the subject of calorie counting.

The number of calories burned each day is directly linked to weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance. For a person to lose weight, one must burn more calories than one takes in, creating a calorie deficit. To do this, one needs to know how many calories one burns each day.

In this article, we take a look at how someone can work out how many calories they burn in a day.

What is a calorie?
The three main food groups — proteins, carbohydrates, and fats — have different calorie contents. Most food products will display the nutritional content, including calories.

Most people think of calories as only having to do with food and weight loss. However, a calorie is a unit of heat energy. A calorie is the amount of energy that is needed to raise 1 gram (g) of water by 1°C. Continue reading

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Empty calories: What you need to know – MNT

I think calorie-counting is a very valuable tool when you are first getting started on weight control and living a healthy life. But, there are calories and there are calories. You need to know the food value of the calories you are consuming. You don’t want to eat a lot of empty calories.

Put simply, empty calories are calories that come from foods or drinks that have little or no nutritional value.

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There are many common sources of empty calories. People may choose to limit or eliminate these foods and drinks from their diets to stay healthy and within their ideal weight range.

Helping children limit empty calories can set them up for a healthy life in the future. It can also help stabilize their energy and decrease mood swings.

Avoiding or limiting empty calories is a simple step toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.

What are calories?

Calories are units of energy. Scientifically, a gram calorie (cal) is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 gram (g) of water by 1° C.

From a scientific perspective, what is typically called a “calorie” is actually a kilogram calorie (kCal). This is a unit of energy made up of thousands of “small calories” equal to the large calorie often used to measure the energy in food.

Calories are an essential part of the diet. The body needs to burn calories to do the simplest tasks, such as breathing or blinking. When physical exercise is thrown into the mix, even more calories are required to stay healthy and alert.

The amount of calories a person needs every day can vary widely. Most recommendations are based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day. However, this number may be higher or lower depending on the individual and their habits.

A registered dietitian can help determine a person’s ideal caloric intake based on activity level, age, sex, metabolism, and height.

What are empty calories?

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What Are Calories? How Many Do We Need? – MNT

When I started trying to eat healthy and control my weight, I found that counting calories was a very useful tool. It also happens to be quite easy to use now that I have a smart phone which is always with me. There are all kinds of apps that make calorie counting a snap to do. But, what are calories?

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This item from Medical News Today gives a useful answer.

A calorie is a unit of energy. In nutrition and everyday language, calories refer to energy consumption through eating and drinking and energy usage through physical activity. For example, an apple may have 80 calories, while a one mile walk may use up about 100 calories.

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Eating whole grains increases metabolism and calorie loss – Study

A new study suggests that substituting whole grains for refined grains in the diet increases calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. This research is published in tandem with a study on the effect of whole grains on gut microbiota. Both studies are published  in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Epidemiology studies have suggested health benefits of whole grains and high dietary fiber intake, including for glycemic control and insulin sensitivity. There has been controversy, however, about whether whole grains and fiber are beneficial for weight regulation, partially because there hasn’t been data from controlled metabolic studies. This new study provided food to participants for eight weeks and may help explain how whole grain consumption is beneficial for weight management.

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Some Facts About Weight Loss That Work

I would rather focus on eating healthy and exercising regularly than losing weight. However, since we are in the holiday season and eating temptations abound, I thought I would share these observations:

“…. There are facts about obesity of which we may be reasonably certain — facts that are useful today,” says researcher Krista Casazza, PhD, RD, from the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a prepared statement, WebMD reported.

Here they are:

1. “Your genes are not your destiny. Moderate environmental changes can promote as much weight loss as even the best weight-loss drugs.”

I love this one. So often people use ‘bad genes’ as an excuse for their weight problems, ignoring completely their own bad eating habits.

2.”Even without weight loss, physical activity improves health.”

Another winner. I have reiterated this statement in at least 25 different posts on this blog. Eat less; move more; live longer.

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3. “Physical activity or exercise in the right amounts does help people lose weight.”

Amen. Listen to Uncle Sam.

4. “Continuation of conditions that promote weight loss helps people keep the weight off. Think of obesity as a chronic condition.”

Likewise, I think of good eating and exercise habits as chronic, too.

5. “For overweight children, involving the family and home environment in weight-loss efforts is ideal.”

6. “Providing actual meals or meal replacements works better for weight loss than does general advice about food choices.”

Both 5 and 6 sound like first rate advice.

7. “Weight-loss drugs can help some people lose weight.”

I am not going to argue with the experts here, but I doubt that the weight stays off if the person doesn’t change his/her eating and exercise habits. I repeat my recommendation to pay attention to what you eat and exercise regularly. That will melt the pounds away. You won’t need drugs.

8. “Bariatric surgery can help achieve long-term weight loss in some people.”

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health. Our tax dollars at work.

Last, but not least, let me mention the Page that I have written – How to lose weight (and keep it off).

Tony

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Tips for Healthy Eating at Fast Food Eateries

As a retired guy I don’t eat a lot of fast food because I have the time to fix my own meals, so my experience since retiring is limited in this area. Being in the work force rips a lot of your dietary control away from you. You find yourself ‘on the road’ and subject to the vagaries of your present locale. Or, you have a deadline, so you can’t take the time for a proper meal. You find yourself at the mercy of local fast food eateries. But, maybe all is not lost.

FastFood

HELPGUIDE.org offers some worthwhile tips on trying to eat healthy at fast food restaurants.

“Making healthier choices at fast food restaurants is easier if you prepare ahead by checking guides that show you the nutritional content of meal choices at your favorite restaurants. Free downloadable guides help you evaluate your options. If you have a special dietary concern, such as diabetes, heart health or weight loss, the websites of national non-profits provide useful advice. You can also choose to patronize restaurants that focus on natural, high quality food.

“If you don’t prepare ahead of time, common sense guidelines help to make your meal healthier. For example, a seemingly healthy salad can be a diet minefield when smothered in high-fat dressing and fried toppings, so choose a salad with fresh veggies, grilled toppings, and a lighter dressing. Portion control is also important, as many fast food restaurants serve enough food for several meals in the guise of a single serving.”

Tips for making healthy choices at fast food restaurants:
▪ Make careful menu selections – pay attention to the descriptions on the menu. Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin, or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, or sodium. Order items with more vegetables and choose leaner meats.
▪ Drink water with your meal. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One 32-oz Big Gulp of regular cola packs about 425 calories, which can quickly gulp up a big portion of your daily calorie intake. Try adding a little lemon to your water or ordering unsweetened iced tea.
▪ “Undress” your food. When choosing items, be aware of calorie- and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese, sour cream, etc. For example, ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You can ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard and add it yourself, controlling how much you put on your sandwich.
▪ Special order. Many menu items would be healthy if it weren’t for the way they were prepared. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces. Ask for olive oil and vinegar for your salads or order the dressing “on the side” and spoon only a small amount on at a time. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it broiled or steamed.
Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what you eat and savor each bite. Chew your food more thoroughly and avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. It takes time for your body to register that you have eaten. Mindful eating relaxes you, so you digest better, and makes you feel more satisfied.

Pay attention to portion size, too. So many fast food places just give you too much food. Then you are stuck with the conundrum not wanting to waste food, but not wanting to pig out, either. So, they mess with your mind as well as your body. As I said on my page How to Lose Weight – And Keep it Off – “You don’t want to waste food? But you can’t continue to waist food, either. Understanding serving size and portion control will take you a long way on your weight control journey.”

Tony

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Top 11 Most Common Nutrition Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Eating healthy takes a lot of information. Here are some very useful looking tips.

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Tony

Our Better Health

Nutrition is full of misinformation.

Everyone seems to “know” what is right, most often based on zero evidence.

Here are the top 11 most common nutrition mistakes that people keep repeating.

1. Drinking Fruit Juice

Fruit juice isn’t always what it seems to be.

It is often little more than water mixed with sugar and some kind of fruit concentrate.

In many cases, there isn’t any actual fruit in there, just chemicals that taste like fruit.

But even IF you’re drinking real, 100% fruit juice, it is still a bad idea.

That’s because fruit juices like orange juice have just about the same amount of sugar as Coca Cola and Pepsi!

Fruit juice is like fruit, except with all the good stuff removed.

There is no fiber, no chewing resistance and nothing to stop you from downing massive amounts of sugar.

While whole fruits take a long time to eat…

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What About Calories? – Infographic

Here’s a ton of facts on calories. You can’t live without ’em. The trick is moderation ….

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Tony

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