What’s the DASH Diet?

What’s the DASH Diet?

Question:

I am a male, 46 years old, 192 lbs., 5 11″. I exercise regularly and I’m looking for a healthy diet to help keep in good shape and keep my cholesterol, sugar levels, blood pressure, and other levels in check. What would you recommend for me?

– Jorge M.

Answer:

Great job exercising daily and being proactive to keep chronic disease markers in check! A Mediterranean or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan seems suitable for your goals. Really, a blend of these is ideal.

The Mediterranean style diet emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, and healthy fats as core foods. Fish and seafood are eaten twice weekly while dairy foods, eggs, and poultry are eaten moderate portions. Red meat and sweets are rarely eaten.

The American Heart Association’s DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy to provide potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It is high in fiber, moderate in sodium, and low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar with little red meat. See table below.

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Your anthropometrics and activity level suggests an estimated daily energy need of 2,700 calories. Combining the two plans, you should base meals on a foundation of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruit, and nuts. Fish, seafood, low-fat dairy and healthy plant fats (e.g. olive oil, avocado) should round-out your diet. Also, spread your food intake throughout the day to support energy levels, proper digestion, and metabolism.

– 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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What to Eat for a 6-Pack

What to Eat for a 6-Pack

Question:

I am in the process of cutting down my body fat, but nothing seems to work. My metabolism is not very good, but I’m doing cardio 3 times a week. I also not eating as many calories to cut down. What and how many times should I eat if I want a six-pack?

– Arib C.

Answer:

First and foremost, I hope you’re incorporating some resistance training into your workout routine! Cardio is great for reducing body fat around the belly, but six-pack abs are made from strength training to develop those abdominal muscles. See a ProResults® trainer for assistance and listen to one’s advice for best ab machines on our Ask a Trainer series.

That said, you should eat three to six times per day, schedule and appetite permitting. If you choose to eat more frequent meals and snacks, pay attention to portions so you’re redistributing the calories you eat, not adding more. Meals and snacks should be based on vegetables – lots of them!, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates with fresh fruit and low-fat dairy to complement. Avoiding alcohol and added sugars is essential if you aren’t getting results.

– 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!

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Work Out Day Meal Recommendations

Work Out Day Meal Recommendations

Question:

I am a 60-year-old male in fairly good shape. I’m lean with 16 to 17% body fat. I am in the gym three times a week, usually after work for about two hours each day. I start with 15 min. of cardio and I do abs every day between sets. I have a GNC protein shake for breakfast every day, oatmeal at 10am, salad for lunch, and on work out days I use a C4 pre-workout and a GNC Performix Shake post-workout. I then have a salad with lots of vegetables for dinner. I try very hard to limit sugar, carbs, and red meat.

I see improvements in my workout strength. I see definition improvements (no bulking) but the last little fat around the tummy remains. I started at 210 lbs. 6 years ago. I have been running around 170 to 175 lbs. for about 4 years now. The body fat number is staying around 17%.

What should I eat for lunch before working out? And what should I eat for dinner after I work out? And what should I eat on non-workout days?

– Larry B.

Answer:

Kudos on your consistent power workouts! I would recommend that on your workout days your lunch salad include a legume, lean protein and healthy fat in addition to the greens since you have several hours to fuel before exercise. For example, choose one* from each column:

Greens

Legume

Lean Protein

Healthy Fat

Other Veggies x2

Spinach

Edamame

Chicken Breast

Avocado

Tomato, Carrot

Kale

Chickpeas

Shrimp

Olives

Artichoke, Broccoli

Mesclun

Black Beans

Tuna

Diced Walnuts

Cucumber, Radish

Leaf Lettuce

Kidney Beans

Turkey Breast

Sliced Almonds

Celery, Red Onion

Cabbage

Cannellini Beans

Salmon

Pepitas

Bell Pepper, Beet

At dinner, I’d suggest including a starchy vegetable such as corn, yam or butternut squash and tofu or low-fat cheese to prop up your evening salad after exercise. You can maintain your normal eating regimen on non-workout days through a solid breakfast to replace the protein shake is advised. Just keep to the same calorie level.

Here are four options:

  1. a nonfat plain Greek yogurt with berries
  2. nonfat cottage cheese with pineapple
  3. egg whites with mushrooms, spinach, and salsa
  4. soy sausage patties with melon.

– 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!

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Understanding Portion Control Better

Understanding Portion Control Better

Question:

Please help me better understand portion control. How much is too much versus too little? Is there a chart to help explain the differences between men and women? Does age and weight matter? Are there ways to make portion controlling easier?

Answer:

Controlling portions is a way to manage volume of food served and thus consumed. There is no specific way that is the best, just as there is no perfect serving for all people of any one particular food. A standard portion is a means to compare the nutritional content of different foods, e.g. “a half-cup of ice cream versus a half-cup of popcorn…”

The approach I recommend is a combination of a) the American Institute for Cancer Research’s “New American Plate” which has a greater proportion of plant foods than a typical diet and b) serving sizes adjusted for energy needs as suggested by MyPlatePlan. The key is to know your total caloric requirement first! This takes into account gender, age and weight.

Here are some common portion sizes provided in terms of measure with a corresponding way to “eyeball” the relative portion size in order to help you identify what portions look like. You can also practice by using your scale to weight various foods and then attribute a way to gauge that portion size by using objects such as your hands and fingers. See the examples below.

Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta (commonly 1-3 per meal)

  • 4” pancake or waffle = serving size 1   pancake = width just covers palm of adult hand
  • Bread = serving size 1 slice (1 oz.) = standard sandwich slice of bread
  • Pasta, rice, cooked cereal = serving size ½ Cup = size of a custard cup or ½ baseball

Vegetables (goal: 2-3 per meal)

  • Chopped vegetables (raw non-leafy) = serving size ½ Cup = size of a custard cup or ½ baseball
  • Raw leafy vegetables = serving size 1 Cup = 1 baseball or fist of an average adult

Meat and Protein (commonly 1-3 per meal)

  • Nuts = serving size 1/3 Cup = level palmful for average adult
  • Lean meat, poultry, seafood = serving size 1 oz. = size of adult thumb
  • Peanut butter = serving size 2 Tablespoons = size of a ping-pong ball
  • Beans, cooked = serving size ¾ Cup = size of a tennis ball

Fats and Oils (limit to 1 per meal)

  • Butter, margarine or oil = serving size 1 teaspoon = 1 pat or size of a half-dollar
  • Cream cheese = serving size 1 oz. = size of two dominoes
  • Mayonnaise or dressing = serving size 1 Tablespoon = top portion of adult thumb
  • Sour cream or reduced = serving size 2 Tablespoons = size of a ping-pong ball
  • calorie salad dressing

Fruit (commonly 2-3 per day)

  • Dried fruit = ¼ Cup = 1 golf ball
  • Canned, chopped or cooked = serving size ½ Cup = size of a custard cup or ½ baseball
  • Fresh fruit = serving size 1 medium or ½ large = 1 tennis ball or ½ softball
  • Berries or grapes = serving size 1 Cup = 1 baseball or fist of an average adult

Milk, Cheese and Dairy products (commonly 1-3 per day)

  • Natural hard cheese = serving size 1½ oz. = 9-volt battery or 1-inch cube
  • Cottage cheese = serving size ½ Cup = size of a custard cup or ½ baseball

– 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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What’s the Deal Between Flaxseed and Fertility?

What’s the Deal Between Flaxseed and Fertility?

Question:

Does flaxseed help in increasing fertility and weight loss?

– Shamily BM

Answer:

There has been a lot of chatter in the media regarding flaxseeds and fertility. Looking at the research, I found evidence to support its effect on menstrual cycle and hot flashes, but nothing conclusive regarding conception in humans. So, flaxseed may have an insignificant effect.

Flaxseeds are high in fiber which helps promote satiety so that appetite is dampened and fewer calories are consumed. Theoretically, this would translate into weight loss if people didn’t compensate elsewhere in their diets. Again, there’s a lack of studies showing an isolated effect on body weight from flaxseed consumption alone.

No matter the physiological effect, it would take a lot of flaxseed to make an apparent isolated difference. My advice is that cracked or crushed flaxseeds* should be included to complement an overall healthy diet, similar to the addition of chia seeds, garlic, or ginger. Start with a teaspoon here and there to see in which foods it’s most acceptable. I like it on yogurt, in smoothies, oatmeal, grain breads, mustard, soups, and meatballs. If you’re committed you can work up to 2-4 tablespoons of flaxseed a day, as recommended by health experts.

*Why cracked or crushed flaxseed is best – Whole flaxseed is a good source of soluble fiber and lignans (phytoestrogen precursor) but isn’t fully digested to get the full nutritional benefit. Freshly cracked or crushed flaxseeds offer fiber and lignans plus thiamin, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid. Ground flaxseed, milled flaxseed, and flax meal can also be used but spoil more readily than the whole flaxseed, so keep them in the freezer. Flaxseed oil doesn’t contain the fiber, lignans or micronutrients; it only has the 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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