Should I Cut Sugar From My Diet? | Q+A

Should I Cut Sugar From My Diet? | Q+A

Question:

I have a question about quitting sugar.  I’m coming across much conflicting information about refined sugar and its role in our diet.

I’m a 33 year old guy who lifts 3 times per week and runs almost every day, so my activity level renders my caloric intake to be higher than the average person.  I’d like to get leaner, and I know I’m supposed to be in a calorie deficit, so I heard getting rid of processed sugar will help with that.  Thing is, I came across a lot of bodybuilders saying the importance of sugar post-workout, but even though I consume sugar then, my cravings for it go beyond that.

I’ve heard that as long as the carbs I eat fit my macros, it doesn’t matter what type of carbs I eat, whether be it sweet potatoes or ice cream.  And to be honest I feel better and more satisfied after eating processed sugar many times rather than eating something healthier like brown rice.

So what’s the verdict?  Would I be better off to minimize sugar and stick with the lower glycemic carbs, or abide by the “If It Fits Your Macro” protocol?

– Andrew P.

Answer:

There is some truth in what you’ve heard, but you know your body best. “Healthy” carbohydrates alone may not be satisfying to you as they are often naturally without heartier companion fats or proteins. It would take four apples to give you the same energy as a cup of ice cream! Likewise, it makes sense if steamed brown rice may leave you wanting more versus a tasty side of lo mein (flour egg noodles in sauce).

You know that you need to reduce caloric intake or increase expenditure to get leaner. You are active and acknowledge that you eat more than the average person. The question as to where those deficit calories should come from depends on how much of your current intake is refined sugar and how healthy your overall diet is.

How Much Sugar Should You Have in a Day?

Analyze a few day’s intake with a good diet software program to give you an idea of your overall calories, added sugar, and saturated fat (another negative source of high calories). Are you getting the recommended minimum 25 grams of fiber daily? From there, you can determine if you can replace some processed foods with more wholesome choices. Small changes or reducing portions may be more effective than swapping out major items in your diet.

Furthermore, you can’t effectively reach a caloric deficit only sticking to the lowest glycemic carbs if it creates over-eating elsewhere. Like a rebound effect, deprivation or underfeeding can easily lead to compensating with higher energy intake from other sources. Switching to sugar-free puffed rice cereal only to pile on the bacon or overeat at lunch later is not going to get you to your goal.

Refined sugar is not good for you compared to natural sources. That said, it’s not a realistic expectation to have a diet completely devoid of any added sweeteners. Omitting a candy bar to make room for an apple with peanut butter is wise  – however, skipping an afternoon protein shake because it has a mere 7 grams of sucrose may be detrimental to your evening workout. Try leaving in the added sugars that compliment otherwise healthy food (e.g., brown sugar on oatmeal, honey for yogurt, dressing for coleslaw) and instead, focus on reducing the big culprits in your diet (typically beverages, baked goods and dairy desserts).

– 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.

 

Ask our Dietitian

QA_icon

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!

13 + 11 =

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

Want more? SUBSCRIBE to receive the latest Living Healthy articles right in your inbox!

Caloric Intake Needed for an Active Runner | Q+A

Caloric Intake Needed for an Active Runner | Q+A

Question:

I am currently 5’10”, 164 lbs., 16.5% body fat, and not toned. I have been a runner and I am training for a half marathon in 7 weeks.  I want to tone up and lose the body fat in my abs / midsection area. What calorie type and number do I need to take in to have ideal toning and fat loss?

– Cory D.

Answer:

Based on your anthropometrics, Cory, you are at an acceptable weight for your height (BMI 23.5) and you are not far off from a typical male runner’s body fat range (5-12% for 30-39 years old, 6-15% for 40-49 years old). By subtracting the amount of body fat you have, you have138 lbs. of lean mass. Keeping that stable and dropping 5-10 pounds of body fat would put you in the 11-14% body fat range. In order to tone up and shed belly fat down to a such a goal, you’re going to need to go from good to great.

However, cutting calories while ramping up your training may negatively impact your performance more than a lighter weight would benefit your performance. I’d suggest a modest reduction in calories for now, then tightening up your diet after the half-marathon. Not knowing what your current diet is like, I can share what a runner’s diet looks like for an estimated need of 2700 calories (3000 calories – 300 for mild fat loss). 60% calories (1670) should be from carbohydrate = 405 grams

20% calories (540) should be from protein = 135 grams This equals 11.8 gm protein/kilogram your body weight which is suitable for endurance running with modest caloric deficit.

20% calories (540) should be from fat = 60 grams You could attain these targets with 8 ounces lean protein, 3 servings plain milk or yogurt, 11 ounces grain, 4 cups vegetables, 4 cups fruit, and 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons) of added fat. Making sure that you choose great options in each food group*, in order to maximize both macronutrient targets and micronutrient delivery for the best muscle and cardiovascular functioning. Here is one example of a day’s meals that hit these numbers:

  • 2-egg omelet with spinach and mushrooms cooked in teaspoon oil
  • Banana
  • Multigrain bagel with tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1.5 cups of nonfat milk
  • 3 oz. chicken breast and ¼ cup whole beans in large 13” wheat tortilla with ¼ avocado, unlimited salsa
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • Orange
  • 6 oz. plain non-fat Greek style yogurt with ¼ cup dried fruit and ¼ cup granola
  • One bag of low-fat microwave popcorn
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables and 3 oz sirloin stir-fried in teaspoon oil, with 1 cup brown rice
  • Apple

*See www.ChooseMyPlate.gov/_____ with the extension: Fruit; Vegetables; Grains; Protein-Foods; Dairy; or Oils for descriptions of serving size and healthy choices in each group.

– 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.

 

Ask our Dietitian

QA_icon

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!

10 + 15 =

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

Want more? SUBSCRIBE to receive the latest Living Healthy articles right in your inbox!

Nutrition is Sprouting this Spring!

Nutrition is Sprouting this Spring!

Alfalfa sprouts were the rage in the U.S. in the 1970’s, but with a new millennium comes new options for nutritious early leaves and shoots. Sprouts are the first growth from the seeds of vegetables, grains and beans and are higher in protein per ounce than their full-grown counterparts. While these tiny whole-food powerhouses may be in the back row of your grocer’s produce section, they are at the forefront of nutrition. Here is a guide to what they are, what nutrients they contain, and how to use them.

Sprout: Alfafa

  • Nutrients: 35% protein, 1.3 g Protein/Cup, Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc
  • Comments: Delicate flavor. Great with egg dishes.

Sprout: Adzuki

  • Nutrients: 25% protein, Vitamins A, C, E, Iron, Niacin, Calcium
  • Comments:Use in wraps and salads, or slightly heated in soups or casseroles.

Sprout: Broccoli

  • Nutrients: anti-cancer Sulphorophane
  • Comments: Mild peppery flavor. Include in green juices and smoothies.

Sprout: Buckwheat

  • Nutrients: Carbohydrates, 15% protein, Vitamins A, C, E, Calcium, Lecithin
  • Comments: Fold into pancake and waffle batter. Use to make energy bars with dates, coconut oil, cocoa and ground nuts.

Sprout: Clover

  • Nutrients: 30% protein, Vitamins A, B, C, E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, anti-cancer Isoflavones
  • Comments: Top grilled cheese sandwiches. Add to coleslaw.

Sprout: Fenugreek

  • Nutrients: 30% protein, Vitamin A, Iron, Niacin, Calcium, Digestive aid
  • Comments: Compliments rice dishes.

Sprout: Garbanzo (chickpea)

  • Nutrients: Carbohydrates, 20% protein, Vitamins A, C, E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium
  • Comments: Use in Mediterranean salads or to extend burger patties. Roast and season for a snack.

Sprout: Lentil

  • Nutrients: 25% protein, 6.9 g protein/Cup, Vitamins A, B, C, E, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus
  • Comments: Peppery flavor. Enjoy in baked beans, potato salad, soups or with steamed veggies. Can be eaten raw.

Sprout: Mung Bean

  • Nutrients: 20% protein, 3.2 g protein/Cup, Vitamins A, C, E, Iron, Potassium, Fiber
  • Comments: Hardy for light cooking and stir-fry. Great with Asian dishes.

Sprout: Mustard

  • Nutrients: 2.5 g protein/Cup
  • Comments: Spicy flavor similar to horseradish. Delicate sprout. Nice on eggs.

Sprout: Onion

  • Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, D
  • Comments: Spicy flavor.

Sprout: Pea

  • Nutrients: 20% protein, Vitamins A, B, C
  • Comments: Great sautéed with garlic.

Sprout: Radish

  • Nutrients: 1.4 g protein/Cup, Vitamin C, Potassium
  • Comments: Spicy flavor. Add to coleslaw. Use with soft cheese dips.

Sprout: Soybean

  • Nutrients: 9.0 g protein/Cup, Vitamin C, folate Fiber
  • Comments: Complements casseroles and stews.

Sprout: Sunflower

  • Nutrients: Vitamins B complex, D, E, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Lecithin
  • Comments: Use in green juices and smoothies. Add to wraps and sushi.

Sprout: Wheat

  • Nutrients: Carbohydrates, 15% protein, 8 g protein/Cup, Vitamins B complex, C, E, Pantothenic acid, Magnesium, Phosphorus
  • Comments: (seed = sprouted wheat, long green shoots = wheatgrass) Use wheatgrass in green juices and smoothies. Cook sprouted wheat and use in place of rice or eat as porridge.

TIPS:

  • Use in sandwiches and salads to add texture and moistness.
  • Buy only fresh sprouts – those that are crisp with moist white roots.
  • Farmers markets typically have more varieties of sprouts than supermarkets.
  • Sprouts last from 3-7 days if kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
  • Grown your own sprouts, with or without soil, and harvest in less than 2 weeks!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

Want more? SUBSCRIBE to receive the latest Living Healthy articles right in your inbox!

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.

Sources: 

  • International Sprout Growers Association
  • USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 28
  • Vegetarian Nutrition dietetic practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Bananas or Sweet Potatoes – Which are Healthiest? | Q+A

Bananas or Sweet Potatoes – Which are Healthiest? | Q+A

Question:

Does eating two bananas a day make my tummy bigger?  Which one is healthier to snack on at night – a banana or a sweet potato?

– Christina Y.

Answer:

It’s doubtful that a single food is causing an increase in your middle. It’s true that bananas are somewhat more concentrated in sugar (14 grams in a medium banana) than some other fruits, but the effect is insignificant relative to a daily caloric input consisting of 1800-2000 calories. Bananas are such a nutritious food! They have much-needed potassium (12% Recommended Daily Allowance or “RDA”) that helps to counter the negative effects of sodium intake. Bananas also have a good amount of fiber (3 grams), vitamins B6 (22% for men, 32% for women) and C (17% RDA), as well as the minerals manganese, biotin, and copper. The issue may be the extra calories if you’re consuming two very large bananas, as they will have about 135 calories each. If you don’t burn off the second banana, it would add 135 calories to your consumption daily.

Which Fruits Contain the Most Sugar?

In a nutrition battle between a banana and sweet potato, the sweet potato would come out ahead. A baked sweet potato has the same calories per gram as a banana, yet has one gram more fiber and five grams less sugar per medium serving. A sweet potato has more calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamins C and E than a banana; however, a sweet potato does have more sodium. Also notable is a sweet potato’s vitamin A content, which is nearly three times that of banana and meets your RDA in one serving! The banana leads the sweet potato only in folate and vitamin K.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28

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.

Ask our Dietitian

QA_icon

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!

15 + 8 =

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

Want more? SUBSCRIBE to receive the latest Living Healthy articles right in your inbox!

Where to Start With Nutrition | Q+A

Where to Start With Nutrition | Q+A

Question:

Hello, I’m a new member. I’m a 360 lb. and 5’8” female. I don’t know where to start with my nutrition. What do I eat? What serving size should I eat? How many meals a day and when do I eat? What should I shop for when buying food and drinks? Thank you.

– Sherland B.

Answer:

Hello Sherland and welcome! Getting started on a new eating plan can be overwhelming. I’m guessing you have some idea of what healthier choices look like, though. Key points on choosing good foods are to:

  • Focus on complex carbohydrates
  • Eat plenty of vegetables
  • Choose lean protein and low-fat dairy
  • Opt for plant sources of fat
  • Avoid fried food, candy, junk food, alcohol and soda

Most often people don’t need nutrition information which you can get from a book but rather, they could use guidance on lifestyle and behavior. Your best bet may be to meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who can work with you to create a personalized plan based on your lifestyle and goals.

Without the level of detail necessary to give personalized advice, my initial nutrition advice would be to follow the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which are supported in the ChooseMyPlate.gov recommendations and MyPlate checklists. For an estimated 1800 calories that would be daily intake of:

1 ½ cups FRUIT

  • 1 cup of fruits counts as:
  • 1 cup raw or cooked fruit; 1/2 cup dried fruit; or 1 cup 100% fruit juice

2 ½ cups VEGETABLES

  • 1 cup vegetables counts as:
  • 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables; 2 cups leafy salad greens; or 1 cup 100% vegetable juice

6 ounces GRAINS

  • 1 ounce of grains counts as:
  • 1 slice bread; ounce ready-to-eat cereal; or 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal

5 ounces PROTEIN

  • 1 ounce of protein counts as:
  • 1 ounce lean meat, poultry, or seafood; 1 egg; 1 Tbsp peanut butter; 1/4 cup cooked beans or peas; or 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds

3 cups DAIRY

  • 1 cup of dairy counts as:
  • 1 cup milk; 1 cup yogurt; 1 cup fortified soy beverage; or 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese or 2 ounces processed cheese For a sample menu, see our answer to another member’s question by clicking here: How many calories a day should I eat and what should I be eating to lose weight?  The daily pattern above, combined with good food choices, can be helpful in creating a new routine to jump-start change.

– 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.

Ask our Dietitian

QA_icon

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!

9 + 3 =

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

Want more? SUBSCRIBE to receive the latest Living Healthy articles right in your inbox!

SUBSCRIBE TO

LIVING HEALTHY

Be the first to know about exclusive

content, deals and promotions

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest