Are Bananas Acceptable for Weight Loss?  

Are Bananas Acceptable for Weight Loss?  

Question:

I heard that to lose weight bananas are not recommended. My go-to food to replenish energy, vitamins, and minerals is a banana and water after my work-out. Do you have any other recommendations?

– Josh A.

Answer:

The notion that bananas are not good for weight loss probably stems from their slightly higher energy density and sugar content. However, that is only in context compared to other fruits! If you choose a banana over a granola bar, you might be saving on sugar and getting more micronutrients to boot.

One way to ‘balance’ the natural fruit sugars is to consume some nuts or protein with the banana. Perhaps add 20 almonds or an ounce of string cheese to the banana for your recovery snack. The net effect is a blunted rise in blood sugar over time versus a quicker spike. This would dampen the stimulus for fat storage, though your calories would go up because of the addition.  If you are still put off by a banana, then consider swapping it for 2 plums or an orange for slightly less sugar and energy.

– 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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 Does Cinnamon Help Lower Blood Sugar?

 Does Cinnamon Help Lower Blood Sugar?

Question:

I am interested in lowering my blood sugar. Does taking cinnamon help?

– Marc W.

Answer:

Just taking a supplement of an herb or spice is not a recommended treatment for lowering blood sugar.

In 2013, the American Diabetes Association indicated a lack of evidence to support the use of cinnamon for the treatment of diabetes.1 An article in Medical News Today noted that research is mixed yet suggests “cinnamon may help fight some symptoms of diabetes.2” The Diabetes Council indicates that the evidence to support the use of cinnamon to lower blood sugar levels is currently not strong.3

Overall, cinnamon may be a useful adjunct therapy tool for some people but is not a replacement for traditional diabetes treatments. Consult with your healthcare provider before trying any unprescribed diabetes remedies.

Sources:

  1. “American Diabetes Association Releases New Nutritional Guidelines” 9, 2013.   http://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2013/american-diabetes-association-releases-nutritional-guidelines.html Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
  2. Zawn Villines “Cinnamon, Blood Sugar and Diabetes” Medical News Today, April 28, 2017. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317207.php Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
  3. The Diabetes Council Team “Fact from Fiction: Is Cinnamon Good for Diabetes?” Oct. 13, 2018. https://www.thediabetescouncil.com/fact-from-fiction-is-cinnamon-good-for-diabetes/ Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.

– 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

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 Increasing Body Weight for Bulking

 Increasing Body Weight for Bulking

Question:

My name is Kenton and I am 20 years old. I little bit of background: I swam for the University of the Pacific for 2 years but decided to take some time off from school to work and train. With Pacific I was training about 20 hours a week and I weighed 143 pounds at my heaviest. I have been weight training 4-5 times a week since January but currently weigh 140 lbs. My goal is to weigh around 155 pounds. Any advice would be amazing.

– Kenton Q.

Answer:

I understand your weight goal is beyond your previous heaviest mark. That may take some doing! Further nutrition will only augment the weight training you are able to put towards that goal unless you want pure fat gain. (I’ll assume not.) As it’s not clear what your previous or current diet habits are, I can only offer general advice to put on lean mass.

First – increase nutrient density. Get the most out of every bite with high calorie and nutrient-packed choices. That means that dilute, air or water-filled choices take a back seat to heavier, and rich options. For example, eat oats or granola instead of puffed rice and choose ground meat patties over most fish fillets, except higher fat salmon, herring, mackerel or sardines. Tortillas can replace bread. Snack on dried fruits instead of melon. Fill half your plate with starchy vegetables like peas, corn, carrots and winter squash instead of watery vegetables such as onion, peppers, zucchini, and celery. Even higher sugar or fatty beverages like juices and whole milk help more than water for weight gain.

Second — eat a lot, eat often. Consuming more sheer volume boosts calories and usually offsets healthier (lower calorie) choices. When volume is limited, eating quickly before you feel full or splitting a meal in half to eat an hour or two later can mean getting in more bulk. When you think you’re done eating, push yourself to finish a couple more bites. Wait until after you eat to drink your beverage (and make sure it has calories, too.)

Third – time it right. Fuel your muscles properly pre- and post-workout to capitalize on the surge of hormones driving anabolism. The nutrition window to boost protein synthesis is considered about 30 minutes before and after weight training. Easy to digest lean proteins and low-fiber carbohydrates are the prime choices. Examples are egg whites, poultry breast, bagels, and pretzels. This is also when faster digesting liquid supplements have a leg up on solid food.

– 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

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 A Question on Protein Powders

 A Question on Protein Powders

Question:

I have been taking the protein powder below for 4-5 years. I was listening to something on the LA Fitness TV that said it is important to select the correct protein powder. I have a protein shake in the morning. I am about 107 lbs. I am working on lowering my cholesterol. Is there a protein powder I should be taking that will be better for me? https://www.vitacost.com/sunwarrior-warrior-blend-plant-based-organic-protein-vanilla

– Varsha P.

Answer:

Compared to consuming whole animal food protein sources, vegan protein sources are better for lowering harmful blood lipids. When it comes to protein drinks, there may be less of a difference because supplements are generally very low in fat, often under 2 grams per 20 grams of protein. While dairy-based supplements may have some dietary cholesterol, either may contain insignificant saturated fat, which is the primary component that’s known to elevate cholesterol levels. Protein powders are a poor source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and plant sterols which are food compounds known to help reduce cholesterol levels.

If you’re limited to the vegan protein powder category, you may not want to stick with one specific supplement for life. As each source offers a different mix of essential amino acids, it’s best to cycle your proteins to get the full range of building blocks your cells require. Of course, you can do that with the whole food protein sources in your diet by getting a variety of legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables. Doing so will enable you to consume adequate fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and plan sterols needed for blood cholesterol reduction.

– 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

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 Healthy Breakfast and Lunch Options

 Healthy Breakfast and Lunch Options

Question:

What is a better breakfast for weight loss: yogurt or egg, potato, and cheese? What is better for lunch: sandwich (with cheese and mayo), lean cuisine, or low-calorie soup?

– Larry S.

 

Answer:

Between your breakfast options of yogurt or egg, potato and cheese there are really more than two choices, as each can be prepared different ways and in varying volume. The yogurt by itself is probably less calories if you’re talking about a standard 6-ounce cup. Some non-fat yogurts are only 80 calories and contain food starch and gelatin. Not what I would call a decent breakfast that would stave off hunger before lunch!

If the yogurt is from whole milk and highly sweetened, then 8 ounces might provide 280 calories, 11 grams fat, 34 grams carbohydrate (31 grams sugar) and 11 grams protein1. For a similar 290 calories it would take two egg whites, a half-cup lightly fried potato and an ounce of low-fat cheese which provide 14 grams of fat, 24 grams carbohydrate (2 grams fiber) and 17 grams protein2.

For weight loss, I’d suggest getting more protein and fiber to fuel your morning and satisfy until lunchtime with these options:

1 cup high-protein, low-fat plain yogurt (Greek style) with ½ cup strawberries, Tbsp coconut, Tbsp granola and tsp flax seed [265 calories, 8 gm fat, 24 gm carb, 26 gm prot] 2

or

three egg whites, ½ ounce of low-fat cheese and a half-cup lightly fried potato/onion/pepper blend [273 calories, 8 gm fat, 31 gm carb, 19 gm prot] 2

In either case, the extra little ingredients and preparation make a more complete balanced breakfast.

Your lunch options of a sandwich with cheese and mayo, a Lean Cuisine or low-calorie soup are even more difficult to compare because there are so many possibilities! The latter two are usually under 300 calories, so I’ll use that target for evaluation. Really, you can find something that works in each category.

Here’s how a single pick from each option stack up:

Calories Fat grams Carbohydrate grams  (fiber, sugar) Protein grams
A sandwich with 2 slices wheat bread, 2 ounces turkey breast, an ounce of low-fat Colby Jack cheese and a Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise3 291 7 33  (2, 6) 22
Lean Cuisine

Chicken with Peanut Sauce4

290 7 35  (3, 11) 21
Full can of lower calorie Italian wedding soup5 270 6 38  (4, 13) 15

The picks above are fairly comparable overall, though carbohydrate breakdown varies. The sandwich can be made as you like it (so the nutrition may vary), whereas the packaged foods are set. I like that the soup has the most fiber, but unfortunately, it has the most sugar and the least protein. Swapping whole-grain bread for standard wheat or adding lettuce and tomato may up the fiber in the sandwich a tad. In any case, a sub-300 calorie lunch entree is likely to only suit daily intakes of 1200-1500 calories. As far as weight loss goes, I’d opt for one with more protein and fiber that you are most satisfied with and get the best energy from.

Sources:

  1. Nutrition facts for Noosa Strawberry 8 oz. from https://www.noosayoghurt.com/product/strawberry/ accessed October 15, 2018.
  2. Dietary analysis performed on FitDay.com by a Registered Dietitian.
  3. Dietary analysis performed on webmd.com/diet/healthtool-food-calorie-counter by a Registered Dietitian.
  4. Nutrition facts from https://www.leancuisine.com/products/details/10562 accessed October 15, 2018.
  5. Nutrition facts for Campbell’s Chunky Healthy Request Hearty Italian-style Wedding soup from https://www.campbells.com/campbell-soup/healthy-request/healthy-request-hearty-italian-style-wedding-with-meatballs-spinach-soup/ accessed October 15, 2018.

– 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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