Lost on What to Eat? Start Here

Lost on What to Eat? Start Here

Question:

Hi, my name is Jordan, I am a new member of LA Fitness and I also have a personal trainer. He thought it would be a good idea to contact you to get some pointers on how I should eat. I am lost when it comes to that. I am 377 lbs., 5’4”, and 31 years old. Also, what should I look for when eating food? Calories? Fat? Sugar? Thank you!

– Jordan

Answer:

I’m so glad you reached out! It can be overwhelming navigating thousands of food choices and not knowing where to start. Try following these steps to begin:

For overall wellness, increasing vegetable intake is usually step one. Veggies are low-calorie and high nutrient-dense foods that you can eat a multitude of ways – as an entrée, side dish, snack, raw, juiced, oven-baked, and pureed in soup or sauce. For an equivalent 100 calories from starch or animal meat/milk, you can get nearly an equal amount of protein from vegetables. Aim for 3-5 vegetables daily.

Step two would be to choose the healthiest foods in other groups – raw fruit, whole grain products, lean meats, and plant fats. Examples would be a whole apple vs. applesauce, baked potato vs. French fries, baked fish vs. fish sticks, and avocado vs. cheese. You don’t need a formal education to identify wholesome choices, though reading labels can help you determine which choice within a food group is lowest in calories, fat or sugar, based on your personal health goals.

Next, balance food groups to get the nutrients you need by making ¾ of your intake from vegetables, grains, beans, fruit and nuts/seeds, remaining ¼ from animal sources. Shifting from a ham & cheese 3-egg omelet to a spinach & mushroom 1-egg scramble in a whole wheat tortilla with salsa exemplifies this balance.

Portion control is step four. You need to pay attention to the actual amount you eat! A couple tablespoons of unsalted nuts are adequate, a bowlful is too much. A few ounces of pork tenderloin are good, a half-pound is excessive.

That’s enough to get you started without getting too detailed or bogged down in ‘food rules’ that can de-motivate you. Keep following us for helpful nutrition and healthy living advice!

– 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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Recommended Reading - Q+A

Heirloom Tomatoes & Stracciatella from etta

Heirloom Tomatoes & Stracciatella from etta

“Healthy eating is important and knowing where your food comes from is what makes it special. We serve only the freshest and finest ingredients our local community has to offer. We work with numerous small producers in the Midwest to showcase the highest quality product available across our menu. Our relationships with these farmers and producers allow us to push for constant improvement in the quality of their product, and in turn, we treat their ingredients with the utmost care.”

Danny Grant

Award-Winning Chef, etta


More about etta:

Paying homage to the meaning behind its namesake, Henrietta – keeper of the hearth, etta is the latest project by award-winning chef Danny Grant and What If Syndicate. Located in Chicago’s bustling Bucktown area, etta is a light-hearted neighborhood restaurant that serves simple and seasonal wood-fired food. Opened in July 2018, etta focuses on classics done well in a fresh way. Showcasing a seasonally inspired and thoughtfully crafted menu that utilizes its wood-fired hearth in unique ways, etta offers a selection of salads, house-made pastas, pizzas as well as weekend brunch. Re-creating both the food and experience of dining at chef Grant’s home, etta’s concept is straightforward – to cook and serve simple, honest food thoughtful of the season and its guests.

etta is located at 1840 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL 60622. Open Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 10pm, Friday from 4:30 to 11pm, Saturday from 10am to 2pm and reopens for dinner from 4:30 to 11pm, and Sunday from 10am to 2pm and again from 4:30pm to 9pm. For the menu and additional details, please visit ettarestaurant.com

Photo Credit: Rachel Bires

Photo Credit: Rachel Bires

Photo Credit: Rachel Bires


Heirloom Tomatoes & Stracciatella from etta

Ingredients

For the Dish

  • 1 lb heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 12 ea summer squash ribbons
  • 1 c roasted sweet corn kernels
  • 2 c stracciatella
  • 12 ea mint leaves, chopped
  • 12 ea basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbls white balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • Maldon sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional garnishes: arugula, sweet basil seeds (soaked)

Method

Step 1:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine halved tomatoes with corn kernels and summer squash ribbons.
  • Add the white balsamic vinegar and olive oil and gently toss.
  • Gently top the stracciatella with the tomato mixture, so the stracciatella is hidden.
  • Season with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with arugula and sweet basil seeds.

Step 2:

  • After the tomato mixture is evenly coated, fold in mint and basil leaves and set aside.
  • Place 1/2 cup of stracciatella in the center of a small plate.
  • Using the back of a spoon, spread the stracciatella in a circular motion until it is 1/4 inch thick.

Step 3: 

  • Gently top the stracciatella with the tomato mixture, so the stracciatella is hidden.
  • Season with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with arugula and sweet basil seeds.

Serves 4


Featured Recipes

Stress and a Lowered Metabolism

Stress and a Lowered Metabolism

Question:

I have been eating a lot less, not meeting requirements, gaining weight, and noticing muscle loss. I’ve noticed a lowered metabolism and inflammation from stress. What can I do to fix these things?

– Angela M.

Answer:

That is surely a mixed bag of concerns, Angela. Address the first problem you mentioned based on why you think you are eating a lot less. Time constraints? Opt for healthy convenience foods like prepackaged bowls. Depression/anxiety? Engage with others during mealtime and include a few favorite comfort foods. To meet micronutrient needs at least, you can add a daily multivitamin/mineral to cover your bases until your intake improves. Physical activity is the main option to stimulate metabolism. While resistance exercise builds muscle, aerobic exercise burns calories to tackle both your physique concerns. Incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods to combat the effects of chronic inflammation.

These include tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, berries and citrus fruit.1 Lastly, practice good stress-management techniques. In addition to exercise, you can step away from the stressor, smile & laugh, reach out to a trusted friend, and meditate.2

References:

  1. Foods that Fight Inflammation. Harvard Health Publishing, June 2014.
  2. Five Tips to Help Manage Stress. American Psychological Association. Accessed May 28, 2019.

– 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!

11 + 11 =


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Beet Root and Muscle Gain

Beet Root and Muscle Gain

Question:

Will taking beet root help me gain muscle? How does it work?

Answer:

The evidence for beetroot supplementation is slowly gaining ground. Some studies show that it may be helpful for intermittent, high-intensity workouts as well as endurance training. Surprisingly, as a newer ergogenic aid, beetroot juice (BJ) has already met the Australian Institute of Sport’s highest evidence classification for effectiveness – joining beta-alanine, caffeine, creatine, glycerol, and bicarbonate – at threshold doses for certain situations in sport.

Beetroot, like several green leafy vegetables, has very high nitrate levels. According to a laboratory assay, about 100 ml (~3.5 fl oz) of beetroot juice provides between 48-150 mg nitrate and 10 grams of beetroot powder provides 165 mg nitrate, whereas studies generally used 300-600 mg of nitrate.

Beetroot juice’s effect may come from nitrate’s role as a precursor to nitric oxide, a vasodilator which can enhance oxygen delivery to muscle tissue. A review of 9 studies concluded that “the improvements observed were attributed to faster phosphocreatine resynthesis which could delay its depletion during repetitive exercise efforts. In addition, [BJ] supplementation could improve muscle power output via a mechanism involving a faster muscle shortening velocity.”

As with all ergogenic aids, the theory is that by enabling stronger/longer workouts, the increased output will promote muscle growth. Currently, the magnitude of research supports beetroot juice’s impact on performance, not body composition. So keep 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.

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!

6 + 8 =


Recommended Reading - Q+A

Fitness vs. Nutrition Trivia Showdown – Podcast Ep. 26

Fitness vs. Nutrition Trivia Showdown – Podcast Ep. 26


Welcome to the 26th episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this **SPECIAL EDITION** of Living Healthy, it’s a fitness vs. nutrition showdown with guest experts Debbie James, RDN and LA Fitness Master Trainer, Geoff Fox. Who will be crowned the winner on this episode’s battle of the brains? Listen and find out!

And play along with us and let us know how you did! 🙂

How Are We Doing? 


Special Shout-out

Thanks to our listeners who have sent in emails letting us know what you think of the show! Special shout out to Juliana M. who recently wrote in and said: 

“I just wanted to say thank you because your podcasts are helping me transition into a healthier lifestyle especially after listening to episode 20 on fast food […] maybe one of your future podcast should be about vegetarian and vegan [options] talking about if it’s healthy or if we actually need meat. I’m on the crossroads.”  

Well, Juliana, we heard you and we think that’s a great idea, so keep an eye out for our upcoming episode on The Plant-Based Diet: What You Need to Know.  

This podcast 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.


Timecard Markers – Fitness vs Nutrition Trivia Showdown – Podcast Ep. 26   

Intro    

Begins at 0:01     

Introduction of LAF Registered Dietitian, Debbie James, and LA Fitness Master Trainer, Geoff Fox 

0:52 

Rules Announced  

1:30 

Round 1 – The Fitness Round – Begins!  

2:26 

Round 2 – The Nutrition Round – Begins!  

7:50 

Round 3 – The LA Fitness Trivia Round – Begins!  

16:00 

The Winner is Announced!  

27:00 

Special Member Shout-out 

and Outro

27:39 


Recommended Podcast Episodes 

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