Are Protein Supplements Necessary?

Are Protein Supplements Necessary?

Question:

Are protein supplements necessary if you already consume a lot of protein naturally?

Answer:

Supplements are intended to fill the gaps missing from dietary intake, whether from food choices or impaired digestion/absorption. If your protein consumption is already high (> 1 gm/kg per body weight) then protein supplements are generally unnecessary. Many people still choose to include supplements instead of real food due to time, cooking or refrigeration restraints. The protein in certain supplements may be concentrated or isolated, but most supplemental protein is part of a bar or meal replacement shake with significant carbohydrates, fat or other nutrients. Consider the whole product when choosing a protein supplement.

– 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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Warm Comfort Foods Made Healthy(ish)

Warm Comfort Foods Made Healthy(ish)

When temperatures drop, it’s time to put on cozy slippers and pull up a blanket. A soothing plate to warm your belly doesn’t hurt… unless it’s unhealthy. Most comfort foods we turn to are heavily laden with fat, starch and calories. There are healthier ways to enjoy down-home classics by making a few tweaks. Try the following updates to your traditional favorites without leaving flavor behind.

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. This duo based on simple protein and starch can be loaded with saturated fat.

Meatloaf

  • Substitute 4 or 7% fat ground beef for regular.
  • Use whole wheat bread crumbs to increase the fiber.
  • Increase the diced onion, garlic or other vegetables.
  • Skip the egg yolks and “substitute two egg whites for every whole egg to help the loaf stay together,” suggests Emily McKenna Kennedy of EatingWell Magazine.1

Mashed potatoes

  • Leave skins on potatoes for fiber that helps with satiety.
  • Decrease the dairy fat by using light sour cream, fat-free milk and less butter.
  • Add zest with extra roasted garlic, paprika and fresh herbs instead of salt.
  • Options: moisten with reduced-sodium chicken broth; sneak in mashed cooked cauliflower; whip potatoes for creamy texture.

Pasta casseroles (e.g. baked macaroni & cheese, lasagna) While tasty now, the cheese and white flour noodles may depress your mood later after you get on the scale.

    • Increase vegetables by adding chopped cauliflower to mac ‘n cheese and sliced zucchini in lasagna.
  • Use lower-fat cheese (part-skim ricotta and reduced fat mozzarella) but concentrate flavor by adding an ounce of hard dry cheese such as Parmesan or pecorino.
  • To curb the need for salt consider a sprinkle of crushed red pepper for bite.

Chicken pot pie / Shepherd’s Pie  It’s not just what’s under the cover that adds up here. With a thick crust or mashed potato layer, you can also blame the topping.

  • Replace cream with a blend of low-fat milk, white wine and olive oil for the pot pie sauce.
  • Use vegetable broth, olive oil and tomato paste for the shepherd’s pie sauce.
  • Double up on the diced vegetables for more volume with little calories.
  • Go crustless on the bottom by using an oven-safe skillet or nonstick casserole dish.

Biscuits and Gravy – This Southern breakfast that sticks to your ribs is traditionally full of saturated fat and calories.

Biscuits:

  • Using fat-free buttermilk and less butter, Cooking Light offers a recipe for low-fat biscuits (3 gm fat each).2 We suggest omitting the honey for this savory dish.
  • Keep biscuits small (under 2”diameter) and serve only ½ C. gravy per 2 biscuits.

Gravy:

  • Substitute turkey breakfast sausage (or mushrooms for vegetarian) for pork sausage.
  • Use skim milk in the gravy and stir regularly until thickened.
  • Add extra herbs like fennel and sage for flavor when reducing salt.

Warm Apple Pie – Here is a double whammy! The crust is full of fat and the filling is full of sugar.

  • Gear up the ratio of solid fruit to the rest of ingredients.
  • Use fresh cooked apples instead of canned pie filling.
  • Make a lattice work or crumble topping instead of a full crust top. “Less crust on your pie = fewer calories from crust,” says Registered Dietitian Jessica Cording. 3
  • Optional: top with a dollop of vanilla frozen yogurt instead of a scoop of ice cream.

Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup  A thick chowder or bisque base isn’t the only culprit when the garnish can weigh in at a hefty hundred calories or so.

  • Substitute reduced fat sour cream for regular.
  • Try adding pureed cooked cauliflower to up the vegetable content.
  • Top with only an ounce of hard dry cheese or extra sharp cheddar for punch.
  • Top with just a sprinkle of fat-removed center cut bacon and plenty of green onion/chives.

Now you can take solace in knowing there’s a way to enjoy comfort foods without ruining your physique. Pick the changes you’d like to try, have a go at them in the kitchen and let us know your favorite updates in the comments section below!

Sources:

  1. Emily McKenna Kennedy, “How to Make Meatloaf Healthier,” EatingWell. http://www.eatingwell.com/article/56415/how-to-make-meatloaf-healthier/ Accessed Oct. 1, 2018.
  2. Maureen Callahan, “Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits,” Cooking Light. Nov. 2008. https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/flaky-buttermilk-biscuits Accessed Oct. 22, 2018.
  3. Jessica Cording, “Brilliant Baking Hacks That Make Your Apple Pie Healthier,” Shape. 2017. https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/cooking-ideas/healthy-apple-pie-hacks Accessed Oct. 22, 2018.

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Understanding Nutrition for Weight Loss Success

Understanding Nutrition for Weight Loss Success

Question:

What should start with if I want to learn with nutrition? My focus would be weight loss.

– Ricardo E.

Answer:

We already have a primer for you! Our previous post Let’s Talk About the Basics: Carbs, Fats & Proteins includes the nutrients that contain calories. Nutrients are components of food that are vital for life. Water is the fourth major nutrient, but it has no calories. These parts of food are called “macronutrients,” while vitamins and minerals are called “micronutrients.”

What do Macro and Micronutrients Have to do with Weight Loss?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics* has a simple 3-step message for weight loss: 1) Make smart choices from every food group; 2) Get the most nutrition from your diet; and 3) Balance food and physical activity. These are the key nutrition principles applied within almost every weight loss plan.

To learn more about nutrition, of course, you can read through our Living Healthy blog archives! For more in-depth learning consider a mass open online course (MOOC). Several are free (taken as an audit, not for credit) and available from trusted sources like respected U.S. universities.

Source:

Back to Basics for Healthy Weight Loss, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Oct. 18. 2018. Accessed 11.26.2018.

– 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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Gaining More Muscle and Less Belly

Gaining More Muscle and Less Belly

Question:

I am a 50-year-old man. My weight is 154 lbs. and I’m 5’ 10”. When I look at myself I’m not satisfied. I want more muscle and less belly. I go to the gym 5 days a week. I think I have too much fat on my abdomen when I eat a lot.

– @peurn_ma

Answer:

If your weight is acceptable but you’re not satisfied with its composition, you’ll need to change two things: what you’re eating and your workout plan. Though toning your abdomen is largely a result of resistance and cardiovascular work, reducing body fat can show off those new muscles. Belly fat cannot be ‘targeted’ per se, but the type of fat around your midsection should respond to some nutritional tweaks given the right exercise.

The following can help reduce stubborn abdominal fat:

  • Increase your fluid intake, but limit alcohol
  • Get plenty of fiber – whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, and seeds
  • Opt for fish and seafood vs. red meat, pork or dairy products
  • Choose unsaturated fats (and avoid trans fat)

– 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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Does the Body Burn More Calories in the Cold?

Does the Body Burn More Calories in the Cold?

Winter is here, and red noses are aplenty. Big coats shield us from the icy cold, and boots work their hardest to keep our feet nice and warm. Still, the chill of winter wind sends a shiver through the body every time a breeze blows by just the right way. Logically speaking, it makes sense to think that between our bodies constantly working to keep us warm in the winter months, that the body would obviously burn more calories in cold weather – right?

Not exactly, but kind of.

Cold weather is not the sole deciding factor dictating whether or not our bodies go into calorie-burning mode. It’s more so the process our bodies undergo once we start shivering from a temperature drop. This process is called thermogenesis. One way of this happening is to shiver, which is when the muscles contract involuntarily in order to create warmth and help maintain a healthy body temperature.

Or, your body could go into non-shivering thermogenesis. This is where the body’s brown fat breaks down to release heat and, again, help warm the body up. Both shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis increase the body’s energy expenditure, which helps burn calories. This is why your body may burn more calories in colder weather.

However, those two energy-expending and calorie-burning processes only kick into high gear when the body is truly cold. Once exercise begins, and the body naturally warms up from it, the body isn’t going to burn any extra calories just because of the weather. But don’t use that as an excuse to not exercise this winter season, sitting around and being sedentary is no way to keep the body healthy during the chilly months.

The Caloric Burn Breakdown

  1. BMR: Your basic daily caloric burn, known as BMR, or basal metabolic rate. That’s how many calories your body needs just to function at rest. (~60% – ~80% total energy expenditure)
  2. FOOD BREAKDOWN: The energy needed to break down all that yummy food consumed throughout the day. (~10% total energy expenditure)
  3. EXERCISING: Lastly, the energy needed when engaging in physical activity. (~10% – ~30% total energy expenditure)

The calories burned during thermogenesis plays a substantially small role in overall expenditure, less than 5% – 10% actually.1 In one study where individuals were put in cold rooms for an entire day, subjects burned an additional 150 to 200 calories.2 That’s not ideal or healthy, and not a smart way to burn extra calories.

So, if you’re looking to burn extra calories this winter season, then up your fitness routine rather than your time freezing in the cold. And for those of you looking to take your workout season indoors, get a 5-day LA Fitness guest pass here.

Sources:

  1. Belluz, Julia. “Do You Burn More Calories Exercising in the Cold? Here’s What the Science Says.” Vox, Vox, 6 Feb. 2018, www.vox.com/2017/12/23/16774320/exercise-in-cold-burn-more-calories.
  2. Ibid

Resources:

  1. Praderio, Caroline. “If Your Office Is Freezing This Summer, You Might Be Burning Extra Calories.” INSIDER, INSIDER, 3 July 2018, www.thisisinsider.com/does-being-cold-burn-calories-2017-8.

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