Sugar Content of Jamaica Tea

Sugar Content of Jamaica Tea

Question:

I have been drinking a lot of Jamaica tea with a little Splenda. Does the tea have a sugar content? I have seen conflicting articles when I Google it. Thanks.

– Antonio D.

Answer:

Tea brewed from the dried petals of the hibiscus flower (also known as Jamaica or Roselle) is a pleasant ruby red, almost cranberry juice-like color, not to be confused with African rooibos tea.

According to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Legacy Release: brewed hibiscus tea has 0 grams carbohydrate per 8 fluid ounces, no caffeine and contains trace minerals. By contrast, a cup of the raw flower petals has 6.5 grams carbohydrate.

If you brew your own or obtain it unsweetened, there should be no sugar in your Jamaica. However, prepared hibiscus/Jamaica teas sold at a coffee shop/restaurant or in the drink aisle at a store may be sweetened with sugar.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Fruits to Help with Weight Loss

Fruits to Help with Weight Loss

Question:

I’ve been eating just fruit for lunch each day. Can you please recommend the best fruits to eat for weight loss?

– Lisa

Answer:

My first recommendation would be to consume more than just fruit if you eat only 3 meals and breakfast is not ample. On the other hand, if you eat heartily in the morning with snacks between meals, then you might get by on a fruit-only lunch.

Almost all fresh* fruits (save avocados, olives & coconuts) are pure carbohydrates with very little protein or fat. So, they may not sustain you for long. They do offer an abundance of fiber, vitamins/minerals, and water content, though. I would encourage you to balance your fruit only lunch with some nuts, seeds or even a hard-cooked egg for a little protein and fat.

While the nutritional content varies among fruits, there aren’t particular ones that promote weight loss, per se. Melons and strawberries are more calorie-dilute than some others, while cherries, grapes, and bananas are considered dense. Anything that takes a while to chew means you’ll consume less of it, so apples with the skin on and pomegranate arils may be better choices.

For further answers regarding fruit consumption click here and here.

*Dried and canned fruits are a no-no for dieters!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Increasing Fat Loss Without Impacting Performance

Increasing Fat Loss Without Impacting Performance

Question:

I have spent the past year working out five days a week doing both HIIT (2-3 days of the week) and strength training. I have had a lot of success with changing my shape, dropping 1.5 pant sizes and building muscle, but the process is slow. I still have body fat that I want gone. I have been reading some about the Keto diet, but don’t want to lose anything from my ability to perform and have heard mixed things about that diet. I eat pretty clean already and always have. Are there dietary changes that are key to increasing fat loss but don’t impact performance? Or should I just be patient with the process?

– Laura E.

Answer:

When you mention performance, what comes to mind is athletic competition or workout effectiveness. In either case, weight loss should ideally be tackled off-season or before the critical performance time. As it sounds like that is not your intended situation, there is no guarantee that while you are creating a caloric deficit your workouts won’t suffer.

Since you state that you eat clean already, I’d look to volume and timing of your meals and snacks for the greatest effect. Supporting your workouts with proper hydration, pre-workout snacks, and recovery nutrition is paramount. Don’t skimp in the few hours preceding and after exercise. Curbing intake at other times, particularly before bedtime and on rest days, would be the approach I’d recommend. Portions may be deceiving and appetite tends to increase with exercise, so watch not only the volume on your plate but how much goes in your mouth. An additional 100 calorie reduction equates to another lost pound per month.

Of course, if there are ‘extras’ in your diet like alcoholic beverages or sweets (even if organic), giving up on those will only benefit your performance and fat loss goals.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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The 16-8 Fasting Diet

The 16-8 Fasting Diet

Question:

I am a member of LA Fitness in Marietta, Georgia and I saw an advertisement about you accepting email questions. I was wondering what you think about 16-8 fasting diet. My doctor told me about it. I’ve read a lot about it but it appears it’s just for obese people which I’m not. I need to lose about 10 to 15 pounds. Any advice would be much appreciated.

– Donna G.

Answer:

From what I know of this variation of increasingly popular intermittent fasting, the 16-8 approach is strictly time based, with eating condensed into 8 hours after a 16 hour fast. Periodic fasting (time restricted feeding) allows one to forgo traditional calorie-counting in an attempt to reduce overall caloric intake. Successful long-term weight loss methods also incorporate routine food intake recording, weight monitoring and 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise.

Current articles show the following about intermittent fasting… In a small New Zealand study1 of 37 subjects with type 2 diabetes and obesity, 5:2 fasting over 12 weeks improved weight, HgA1C, fasting glucose, and reduced need for medication, though there were more hypoglycemic events. An even smaller pilot study2 on obese individuals following 16-8 fasting over 12 weeks resulted in lower systolic blood pressure, reduced daily intake by approximately 340 calories, and nearly 3% loss of body weight compared to controls. A Registered Dietitian’s review3 concluded that “There’s clear disagreement even among researchers on the benefits of fasting and which type of fasting would be best for which individuals,” yet “Fasting may be a viable weight loss option for obese individuals who can’t stick to a daily calorie restriction.”

The effect on normal-weight individuals is not known. See our previous answer to “Will intermittent fasting help me lose weight?” by clicking here.

References:

  1. Intermittent fasting in Type 2 diabetes mellitus and the risk of hypoglycaemia: a randomized control trial. BT Corley, et al. February 2018. Diabetic Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.13595
  2. Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study. K Gabel et al. June 2018 Nutrition and Healthy Aging 4(4): 345-353.
  3. Fasting Regimens for Weight Loss. Densie Webb. February 2018. Today’s Dietitian 20(2): 34

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Avoiding Obesity: A History Lesson

Avoiding Obesity: A History Lesson

“In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.” – Edmund Burke

ANCIENT HISTORY

As a whole, humans have experienced chronic food shortage and malnutrition since the dawn of time.1 Delve back to the Paleolithic period and there’s no skeletal evidence of overweight humans. Hunter-gatherers were most likely thin, like the current last remaining hunter-gatherers – the few indigenous peoples across the globe still living as their tribal ancestors have. Take the Kalahari Bushmen in Africa, for example, these persistence hunters may chase prey 2-5 hours until the target animal is exhausted enough for the hunter to spear it by hand! Needless to say, they were likely not overweight.

Enter the Neolithic era approximately 10,000 years ago in the aftermath of the last the ice age; its advent of agriculture and animal domestication systems are but two examples of human adaptations over thousands of years to which we can attribute our survival. The convenience of centralizing food procurement in such a way was a logical answer to the growth of human population whilst wild game dwindled and foraging grew impractical.2 The concentrated production of crops and edible animals saved us from the very real threat of starvation that existed. Historically, farming and agriculture were physically demanding ventures with energy costs comparable to, and in some cases exceeding, that of foraging.2 Thus, normal weight or underweight was the norm and obesity was rare.

Rachel Laudan, a noted food historian and author at the University of Texas at Austin, gave us her insight that “there’s evidence that there always was a propensity toward obesity among the wealthy in any society.” Some wealthy, high-status individuals in ancient Greece, Byzantine, Greco-Roman regions and elsewhere were obese for their time.2 Laudan explained that “overweight was viewed as a status symbol.” For most of history, humans faced a scarcity of food which led to the belief that being fat was good and in fact, desirable.1

Humans have long adapted to the natural environments in which they lived. Thus, agriculture was not the same everywhere and diets varied widely depending on geography.3 But in general, farming did allow the consumption of larger amounts of grain, milk, and domesticated meat.3 This shift in dietary patterns over thousands of years across the globe resulted in at least one evolutionary change — our ability to digest milk past weaning,3 attributable to milk consumption by our adult agricultural ancestors.

MODERN HISTORY

Welcome to the Industrial Age which began just over 200 years ago. With machinery, harnessed power, and train transportation of goods in the late 19th-century, the streamlined industrialization of food started to make basic subsistence relatively effortless for more and more people.2 As food systems delivered so much food to so many people at such a low cost3, populations largely went from subsistence to abundance in terms of food availability.

Food security around the time of World War I was such a primary concern that it drew then-US President Woodrow Wilson to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to expand production of the staple food crops beyond what was needed for American use. “There is no danger of overproduction.” – David F Houston, US Secretary of Agriculture c.1917

Not only did the volume of food change, but refined whole grains and sugar became available. Previously, the only type of long-term food storage was drying or dehydration. Increased stores of food by advanced preservation methods such as pickling, fermenting, curing and canning and by cold storage in ice houses, cellars and modern refrigeration brought us more access to food off-season.

These advances in improved public health and the amount, quality, and variety of food initially resulted in increased longevity and body size.1 Unfortunately, abandoning a traditional agricultural lifestyle may have triggered our fat-storing genes to kick in. Up until now, people that stored fat the most were probably the evolutionarily best suited to survive. Our genotype adapted for times of feast or famine are now probably causing problems due to the excessive amounts of carbohydrates typically eaten3. Essentially, our ability to store body fat became maladaptive when technological advances altered the balance between the availability of food and energy expenditure.1

It seems a shift in food intake and physical output has caused our modern malady of obesity and its pathologic consequences of hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Only a couple hundred years ago, obesity meant having enough money to buy and consume all that you want and was a sign of wealth and prosperity (see first highlight). Morbid obesity was relatively unheard of. The effect since World War II has been an overabundance of easily accessible food, coupled with reduced physical activity, that accounts for the recent increased prevalence of obesity.1 Industrialization first brought an abundance of high-density foods, then the 20th-century food industry’s manufacturing allowed for more processed convenience foods. Double whammy!

To avoid obesity, one must maintain balance between food consumption and energy expenditure. The effort to procure food (or in other daily living activities) must match the energy derived from it.

References:

  1. A History of Obesity, or How What Was Good Became Ugly and Then Bad. Garabed Eknoyan. Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease, Vol 13, No 4 (October), 2006: pp 421-427
  2. The fattest ape: An evolutionary tale of human obesity. Jesse Bering. Scientific American November 2, 2010
  3. Evolutionary Eating — What We Can Learn From Our Primitive Past. Juliann Schaeffer.
    Today’s Dietitian 2009, 11, No. 4, P. 36

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