Are Natural Sweeteners Better For You? | Q+A

Are Natural Sweeteners Better For You? | Q+A

Question:

After reading about some issues with artificial sweeteners, I have been trying to stop using them. Are natural sweeteners like Stevia or Monk Fruit, regarded as being better for you?

– Mary W.

Answer:

Yes, natural sweeteners are believed to be better for you than those synthesized in a lab. However, there are no long-term studies to date to support or contradict this notion. Research has tended to focus on blood sugar, insulin secretion and cellular responses to sweeteners. In regards to artificial sweeteners compared to sugar, the bulk of research tends to support benefits such as lowering the risk of diabetes type 2 and coronary heart disease and decreasing body weight.

The two main types of plant/fruit based sweeteners on the market are stevia and monk fruit. According to the FDA, stevia is comprised of “certain steviol glycosides obtained from the leaves of the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni),” and monk fruit sweetener is an “extract obtained from Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo or monk fruit.”

Since we posted our article “Is monk fruit extract a natural sweetener, and is it better for you than sugar? three years ago, not much has changed in the world of natural sugar replacements. In addition to stevia and monk fruit, there is now allulose (also called psicose). Its chemical structure is similar to fructose, the sugar in fruit. Launched in 2015, it is sold as Dolcia Prima® in North America. In most cases, these “natural” sweeteners are naturally derived, meaning that the identified natural compound is somehow produced from its origin or another source. Not surprisingly, even raw sugar is actually a byproduct of sugarcane processing. Oh, and honey and maple syrup may exist in the same form as found in nature, but are both pasteurized for safety.

– 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.

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I’m a Vegetarian: How Much Protein Do I Need a Day? | Q+A

I’m a Vegetarian: How Much Protein Do I Need a Day? | Q+A

Question:

I’m a vegetarian and concerned that I may not be getting enough protein in my diet (now getting around 50 grams a day). I lift weights and do cardio 6 days a week but feel I’ve stalled and am not making new progress. Can you please confirm how much protein I need a day and provide suggestions on how to achieve that goal?

– Sara M.

Answer:

Your question centers around a popular subject on Living Healthy!

  1. Can I replace chicken, seafood or turkey with tofu to get my protein? (2015)
  2. What are vegetarian things I can eat that contain a lot of protein? (2014)
  3. 5 Foods with the Most Protein (2014)
  4. Is Protein an Issue for Vegans? (2013)
  5. What are vegetarian things I can eat that contain a lot of protein? (2013)
  6. The Benefits and Basics of Going Vegetarian (2013)

How much protein you need depends on your age and weight, as well as your overall caloric intake. In general, people’s base requirements are 0.8 gm protein per kilogram body weight and at least 1.0 gm/kg if over the age of 65. To gain lean mass, the need increases to 1.2-1.6 gm/kg for resistance training. With an energy-balanced diet, protein should provide about 15% of calories. But for those that are restricting calories, a greater proportion of energy should come from protein, about 20-30%.

To reach 60-70 grams of protein, I’d suggest the following daily servings – 2 servings of beans, 4 servings of vegetables, 1-2 servings of dairy if lacto-vegetarian, 6-8 servings of grains, 1 egg if ovo-vegetarian, and any remaining energy from fruit and fat (not protein sources). If whole foods are an obstacle for whatever reason, you can always supplement with a protein powder as a last resort. Most vegetarian plant-based ones provide at least 10 grams protein per 20 grams powder.

– 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.

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Snacking and grazing are suitable ways to consume your daily intake, providing the choices are good ones and you compensate with smaller meals. Check out our RDN’s suggestions.

What’s the DASH Diet?

LA Fitness, RDN, Debbie James, gives a reader advice on the best type of diet to keep health levels in check. Learn more about the DASH diet.

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Nutritional Advice for Those with PCOS | Q+A

Nutritional Advice for Those with PCOS | Q+A

Question:

I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and have issues losing weight. I am 5’5″ and currently weigh 210lbs. I am interested in knowing what types of food I should eat and what types I should avoid.

– Cali D.

Answer:

As you may know, polycystic ovary syndrome may not cause you to have elevated insulin blood sugar levels, but the hormone disorder is often related to this condition. Losing weight often helps improve PCOS.

Sugars and refined starches (like white bread and pasta) should be managed. Keep them to a quarter of your plate. An example would be to have fajitas with only 2 corn tortillas, then eat the remainder with your fork. For stir-frys, opt for brown rice and have only 1 fork full for every 2 of meat and vegetables. Whole grains like oats, quinoa, wheat berries and corn on the cob are better choices than baked goods or processed potato products. For example, have oatmeal instead of waffles and fresh baked sweet potato instead of tater tots.

You can’t go wrong filling up on vegetables… aim for about half your plate every time you eat! The dense nutrients, low calories, high fiber and plant proteins in veggies can help with both insulin control and weight loss. In addition to typical meal sides, add veggies to breakfast (beet ginger smoothie, anyone?) and snacks (try homemade kale chips). Also include lean proteins, fruits, nuts, beans, and low-fat dairy to round out the remainder of your meals.

Your weight loss struggle is understandable. Besides focusing on the food choices above, pay attention to calories and when/why you eat. Only eat when truly hungry, stop when satisfied, and cleanse your palate to deter you from dessert/extras. Perhaps shift more of your intake to earlier in the day when you are more likely to burn it.

– 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

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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Snacking and grazing are suitable ways to consume your daily intake, providing the choices are good ones and you compensate with smaller meals. Check out our RDN’s suggestions.

What’s the DASH Diet?

LA Fitness, RDN, Debbie James, gives a reader advice on the best type of diet to keep health levels in check. Learn more about the DASH diet.

How Can I Gain Muscle, While Losing Weight? | Q+A

How Can I Gain Muscle, While Losing Weight? | Q+A

Question:

I am a 22 year old male that recently lost 100 pounds. I am currently 6’3” 145 pounds. I’m currently what could be considered skinny fat. About 2 weeks ago I joined LA Fitness and have been going about 6 days a week. I am looking to gain muscle and hopefully lose the stubborn fat that I still have around my chest. What should my diet look like to do this?

– Nate B.

Answer:

To get back to a healthy weight by gaining lean mass, you’ll need to support your weight training/resistance workouts with enough calories. As you still want to get rid of fat from your torso, those calories can’t be excessive. How much to eat, then? Since I don’t know how many calories you eat presently, let’s just say it’s safe to add 200-300 calories per hour that you’re now working out. (A man your age and size might burn 2800 calories per day.)

Those additional daily calories should be from lower fat (“lean”) and minimally processed (“clean”) foods. Suitable food combinations that fit into the 200-300 calorie range:

  • 1 C cooked oats + ½ C berries + 8 fl oz non-fat milk
  • Medium apple + palm full of raw almonds
  • 2 slices sandwich bread, 2 oz turkey, 1 oz low fat cheese, mustard
  • Vegetable egg white omelet
  • Small (130 gm) bean and cheese burrito
  • 1 C Waldorf chicken salad on greens

Note that you only need to add calories to fuel the muscle work and provide blocks for building muscle on the days you are working out.

– 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.

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

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

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Snacking and grazing are suitable ways to consume your daily intake, providing the choices are good ones and you compensate with smaller meals. Check out our RDN’s suggestions.

What’s the DASH Diet?

LA Fitness, RDN, Debbie James, gives a reader advice on the best type of diet to keep health levels in check. Learn more about the DASH diet.

Am I Eating Too Little? | Q+A

Am I Eating Too Little? | Q+A

Question:

I am a 40 year old male, I currently weigh 260lbs. I have a desk job but I am very active otherwise outdoors and I have started going back to the gym for weight training M-F during my lunch hours and also do 30-40 minutes of cardio 3x a week, in addition to a 6 mile hike and a 10 mile bike ride the other 2 days. On the weekends I am very active usually backpacking or hiking. My goal is to get back down to a healthy 225. I am currently 31% body fat. I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories. My typical day is usually under 1800 calories; I eat pretty healthy consisting of an average of 35% carbs, 25% fat and 40% protein. My goal isn’t necessary to gain huge mass, I would like to maintain my muscle (and get stronger, not necessarily bigger), and drop my fat. My question is, am I eating too little? Since I put myself on an eating schedule, I don’t feel like I am starving myself. I have only been at this routine for the last 10 days or so, and I don’t really expect to see immediate results, but my goal is around 2 lbs. per week. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

– Jason N.

Answer:

At first glance, your caloric intake does seem a bit low for the amount of activity you’re engaged in. However, if you are satiated after meals and aren’t lacking energy as the day progresses, you may be eating enough. Losing 2 pounds per week does take quite a caloric deficit — approximately 7000 calories per week! By eating smart, not more/less, you can maintain your muscle mass while you lose fat weight.

By my calculation, you’re getting at least 150 gm carbohydrate, so you’re meeting your base need there. Your protein intake equates to about 1 gram per pound of fat-free mass, the maximum you’re likely to put to use. Fat provides 450 of your daily calories (50 grams), which is not ample but sufficient. You should be able to maintain your described caloric breakdown as long as you see progress.

Additionally, I’d recommend that you support those workouts by consuming the bulk of your intake in the hours surrounding your physical activity. So if you’re exercising in the morning, eat more then and less at night. Keep up your fiber and fluid intake, as these help you to feel full when volume is down.

– 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.

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

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

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!

10 + 1 =

Recommended Reading

Snacks to Help Boost Energy

Snacking and grazing are suitable ways to consume your daily intake, providing the choices are good ones and you compensate with smaller meals. Check out our RDN’s suggestions.

What’s the DASH Diet?

LA Fitness, RDN, Debbie James, gives a reader advice on the best type of diet to keep health levels in check. Learn more about the DASH diet.

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