How 100-Calorie Snack Packs Smash 6-Pack Plans

Perhaps one of the most destructive and misleading components of the food industry today is the intense way that snack foods have come to the forefront as an American passion, and yet so little is understood widely about both their benefits and drawbacks. There is about any snack food you can imagine at every grocery and corner store in the nation. Cookies, chips, popcorn, pretzels, and more are ubiquitous as part of the fabric that makes American cuisine. As our nation’s consumers have slowly but surely started to trend towards healthier lifestyles, many snack food brands have responded by putting out what they dub “100-calorie” snack packs. Created and sold to blatantly cater to people who count or are just particularly conscious about what they eat, this well-intentioned attempt to aid portion control works by just limiting the serving size for you.

Unfortunately, this often spells disaster for people actually purchasing the snack. There are a two main reasons this is most often the case. First and foremost, 100 calories is nowhere near enough to fill a person. It really is not enough to give your body any meaningful sense of satisfaction, which is necessary to curb appetite. Instead, although you may mentally know that you just put in a small amount of fuel in the form of a small amount of food, your body is still going to be demanding food after you have finished the snack pack. This dangerous scenario, in which you tease but do not fulfill your hunger with such a small serving, is escalated by the second reason snack packs are diet catastrophes waiting to happen.

100-calorie snack packs just portion of the food into uselessly small portions, but they do not improve the nutritional value of the food itself. As a result, the vast majority of these snack packs consist of food that has no nutritional value and does nothing for your body composition – other than spur increased cravings for overly processed foods. These packs leave you hungry, and they leave you hungry for the wrong kind of food.

Now, do not make the mistake of thinking this indicates there is anything wrong with snacking itself. As a component of healthy dieting, snacking is phenomenal. It just demands that you snack on the right foods. Most packaged “healthy” foods do not fit the bill. Choose snacking on protein-rich, healthy, whole foods to achieve the best results, for life.

 

The Food Making You Fat That Nearly Half of Americans Eat Every Single Day

Image of a SandwichWith this country in a the midst of a full-blown health crisis when it comes to obesity and health troubles which can be directly traced to poor eating habits, many Americans are increasingly committed to embracing better lifestyles. Some foundational knowledge is pretty widely understood, like cutting out candy and eating more vegetables. Slightly more advanced health enthusiasts understand the importance of eating organic, consuming enough protein, and eating regularly throughout the day. However, there are a few extremely common habits that you may be surprised to learn are nothing short of disastrous for losing weight and staying trim. One of these is particularly dangerous. Simply by virtue of being so pervasive in kitchens across the country, this one food has become a sort of culinary reflex that nearly every man, woman, and child knows well. However, we should all be wary of it. This food – the sandwich.

This may initially be something of a shock. Sandwiches are both simple and wildly diverse. You might presume that least some permutations should be pretty healthy. However, the kind of sandwich that does not do more damage than good for your waistline is nearly mythical. This is true mainly for two reasons:

Processed Wheat Wrecks Weight Loss

The first simple cause for concern is that the one universal ingredient of every sandwich, no matter what recipe you opt to enjoy, is also guaranteed to be bad news – the bread. Store-bought breads are absolutely awful for your health as a general rule. That is because processed wheat is incredibly difficult to avoid. And, by its very definition, the contents of a sandwich (however healthy they might be) lie smack dab into between multiple servings of it. The carbohydrates in most bread has been so processed that they enter your bloodstream quickly, spiking glucose levels and requiring minimal output from your body to consume. Even the supposedly “healthy” options, like whole-wheat bread, are not doing you any favors. Although whole-wheat does involve a higher amount of fiber per serving, it still elevates blood sugar to undesirable levels.

Condiments Are Catastrophic

One of the most popular parts of a sandwich is topping it off with a seemingly innocent dab of sauce. That might include a dressing of sort, mustard, mayonnaise, or any one of hundreds of unique options. However, nearly all are certain to be high in fat, sugar, and calories. They might be delicious, but prepare to let one serving shoot your body’s production of insulin, the fat-storing hormone, into the stratosphere. That does not even begin to address the fact that most sandwiches involve way more than just one serving size of condiment, opting so slather it with the sauce in question instead.

The 3 Letters To Look Out For On Food Labels

Woman checking food labellingAnyone looking to create a balanced, healthy diet for weight loss, weight maintenance, or simple health needs to know how to properly read a food label. Food labels are there for a reason, and too many people ignore them when they’re making their choices at the supermarket. The problem is, a lot of the time people aren’t sure what they’re supposed to be looking for, especially when ingredient names start getting too long to even pronounce.

Luckily there are a few quick tricks you can learn to make this whole process a little easier. One of my favorite tips is this:

Keep an eye out for ingredients that end with the letters “o-s-e.”

You see, spotting sugar on food labels isn’t quite as easy as it once was. Food manufacturers started noticing that consumers were becoming more discerning than those of even 10 years ago, so they starting doing everything they could to disguise sugar on their lists of ingredients.

So what do they call “sugar” instead?

fructose
maltose
glucose
sucrose

The worst of the worst is high-fructose corn syrup. Seeing a pattern?

All of the above -ose words are code words for sugar. If you see them listed on the label, especially in the first 3 or 4 ingredients, guaranteed that product is probably LOADED with sugar. And you should be avoiding it. If a product contains any high-fructose corn syrup, you should just put it back and walk away. The invention of high fructose corn syrup is one of the leading causes of obesity today.

Understanding food labels can seem tricky at first, but the more you do it, the more you’ll begin recognizing ingredients, average percentages, and more, so you can spot when something is particularly high or low in a nutritional factor. In time, you’ll begin realizing just how much you were overlooking before, and you’ll be glad you’re able to make smarter choices.

For more help on reading labels, the FDA actually has some great info to help build your label-reading skills.

Three Foods You Are Eating ALL Wrong

One of the most foundational truths about losing weight and improving your health is that you need more than just exercise – nutrition is key. Choosing the right kinds of foods to put into your body very heavily determines the quality of fuel on which you run and how your body composition will (or won’t) change for the better. Every person truly committed to living a fit lifestyle should understand the critical importance of consuming appropriately sized servings of healthy, whole foods. However, when it comes to food, what you eat is not the only crucial variable to consider – how you eat it can matter as well.

Obviously, deep frying all your vegetables or downing your salads in high-fat dressings are both extreme examples of how food preparation can transform a great meal into a diet disaster. However, there are also lesser-known realities that even the most vigilant cook might not be aware is trashing the nutritional value of their eating habits. Here are three things you should know about how to eat otherwise very healthy foods.

Image of whole strawberries

Do Not Slice Your Strawberries

When you pre-slice strawberries, you are unknowingly working against yourself. The fat-burning vitamin within the fruit is actually eroded by oxygen exposure. Essentially, the longer the fruit sits slice with its vitamin-rich interior exposed to air, the less healthy and able to torch fat that it becomes. The best way to eat a nice, juicy strawberry is to just bit into it whole. Otherwise, wait to slice them up until you are ready to eat them immediately afterwards. Just be sure you do not slice and then store them, eating the fruit slowly over time. That method is guaranteed to diminish the strawberry’s fat-burning ability.

Image of Greek yogurt

There Is Whey In Greek Yogurt Water

Greek yogurt has recently become a health food staple for conscious eaters all around the country. Renowned for its ability to marry the probiotic benefits of yogurt with an especially poignant punch of additional protein, Greek yogurt certainly brings a ton of nutritional value to the table. However, when most consumers peel back their yogurt lids and find the “water” that settles on top, they are liable to just presume this is excess moisture and dump it into the trash or down the sink. However, that “water” is so much more than just that – it is actually whey protein jam-packed with amino acids, calcium, and vitamins. Do not dump it! The right way to eat Greek yogurt means mixing that watery whey back into the yogurt beneath it and really reaping the benefits of Greek yogurt’s fat-burning prowess.

Image of cooked tomatoes

Cooking Brings Out More Than The Tomato’s Flavor

In many cases, fruits and vegetables offer more nutritional value if they are eaten raw, as opposed to cooked. Cooking sometimes burns off some vitamin and mineral content. However, this is certainly not the case when it comes to tomatoes. Tomatoes are loaded with a phytonutrient called lycopene, which offers many positive health benefits. Cooking actually increases the concentration of lycopene in tomatoes, so go ahead and heat them up before enjoying your meal!

What You Should Be Counting Instead of Calories

calorie-countingWhile counting calories in, calories out can be a great way to help manage your meal choices, the results you achieve are much more related to the types of foods you choose than the calories alone. To this end, I’ve developed a better “counting” method for accurately determining the amount of food you should eat each day to support your body transformation goals.

It’s called the 1-100-1/2 method:

 

  • 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight
  • Less than 100 grams of carbs per day (less than 60 grams for women)
  • 1/2 gram of fat per pound of body weight

 

This is a much simpler and alarmingly more effective way of keeping track of your day to day food intake, and it’s a heck of a lot easier than writing down and adding up every ingredient you eat in a day and subtracting calories burned. This is called macronutrient counting, and it works for just about anyone looking to lose weight.

Why is it so effective? Because it’s relative to your body size, it ensures that you’re getting enough metabolism-boosting protein each day, it keeps your carbohydrate intake moderate, and it doesn’t discount healthy fats (which actually promote weight loss and muscle gain.)

By using this method, you’ll end up controlling your calorie intake simultaneously, but with a more balanced, nutrient-rich diet. A calorie from a Philly cheesesteak and a calorie from a greek salad are measured the same when you’re counting calories alone, but you’re getting very different nutritional make ups from these two meals, so you’re not getting the full picture. When you look at calories alone, your diet can actually end up really imbalanced.

If you’re looking at this and thinking.. but I’ll miss my carbs too much! Don’t worry. I still advocate a “cheat” day where you can lax on the counting for a day after you’ve put in your weeks worth of hard work, just make sure not to go overboard. Everything in moderation, including moderation.

4 Foods You Can Eat Before Bed

late_night_snackMost people have heard that eating before bed isn’t a great idea if you’re looking to lose weight. This fact has broken a few hearts, especially for those of us who love a tasty late night snack. Well, here’s some good news: hope is not lost.

Not every food that you eat past 7 PM will go straight to your hips. In fact, there are certain foods when eaten late at night that can actually help you lose weight. So what are these magical tasty treats, and how exactly does all this work?

First, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat. And that’s carbs. Carbohydrate consumption causes a significant rise in insulin (i.e. the storage hormone), which stops fat burning. In the late evening hours your metabolism is winding down, so an insulin spike is the last thing your body needs if you are looking to lose weight.

So what should you reach for instead? Slow-digesting, high-quality protein.

Slow-digesting proteins don’t cause an insulin spike, plus they provide your body with a steady flow of amino acids as they breakdown slowly throughout the night. Amino acids help you recover from exercise and maintain your calorie-burning lean muscle as you lose fat.

Now, ready for some prime snack options?

1. White Meat Protein (not red meat) – Chicken and turkey are great pre-bed meal choices because they digest slowly and have a very low insulin release. They also promote the release of another hormone, glucagon, that helps the body break down carbs and fat to be burned for energy. DO NOT have red meat. Red meat has a significantly higher insulin response.

2. Cottage Cheese – Cottage cheese is slow digesting and stimulates glucagon release. Just make sure you’re eating plain cottage cheese. Flavored varieties come with a lot of added sugars, which aren’t what you want at any time, but especially before bed.

3. Green Vegetables – Technically not a protein, but they contain virtually no calories, are high in fiber, and very filling. You can’t go wrong with a nice plate of fresh veggies.

4. A Protein Shake – Protein in a pretty pure form. If you’re having this before bed, make sure it’s slow-digesting protein and low in carbs. Many people even make having one of these before bed a nightly ritual. Just make sure you’re not having whey protein. Research has shown that it causes more of an insulin release than even white bread! Opt instead for a a time-released blend that includes a blend of slow-digesting, high-quality proteins.

Anyone else hungry, now?

Snack Your Way to a Stress-Free Tomorrow

Josh Bezoni Fruit that Help against stressOne of the best things you can do to establish a healthy eating pattern is to trade large meals filled with prepacked and overly processed food for a day jam-packed with snacking on healthy and unprocessed whole foods. Eating regularly helps keep your metabolism revved up and consuming energy (calories), which helps you shed weight and keep it off. You may be surprised to learn that certain snack not only can help you control your hunger and slim down, but also alter your state of mind. That includes positively impacting your stress levels and leading you to a more tranquil state of mind.

Oranges

It is fairly common knowledge that oranges are extremely high in Vitamin C. The health benefits of that little fact as pertains to keeping your immune system high are well-documented. Beyond that fact, however, scientists have also found that vitamin C reduces the amount of coritsol in your system. Cortisol is the most significant stress hormone in your body, so keeping it under control is a big deal! Vitamin C can also reduce your blood pressure when you find yourself in a stressful environment. Oranges aren’t the only great source of Vitamin C though! When you are looking for a snack, consider peppers cantaloupe, or tomatoes!

Almonds

These nuts make the ideal snack! They are a pleasant and portable bite for when you are on-the-go. In addition to being tasty, almonds are full of B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. All of these are involved in your body’s production of serotonin. More specifically, studies have found that combining a healthy intake of both zinc and magnesium can even improve the quality of your sleep. This means you feel better and are more alert when you wake up!

Blueberries

These little guys have earned their reputation as a superfruit many times over. Blueberries contain so many antioxidants that they actually diminish the oxidative stress in the body. They are also super rich in Vitamin C. In addition, they are very low glycemic, so you can enjoy them at any time of the day.

A Better Breakfast: Transform Your Mornings into the Strong Start They Should Be

Image of Healthy OatmealEntirely too often, the foods which are most aggressively marketed as healthy options are the products of companies willing to make enormous promises that their goods simply do not deliver. There are few situations where this is more of an epidemic than the breakfast food market. As the United States has slipped more and more dramatically into a health epidemic over the years, the demand for food that will not create such catastrophic health problems has begun to soar. Unfortunately, the modern consumer has been on the receiving end of so many years of brutally incorrect and manipulative messaging that many of us no longer remember the simpler times when good food was a given. Instead, many individuals have become accustomed to believing in “the magic pill.” As a result, the empty promises made by pre-prepared and prepackaged solution option look more appealing than choices that are actually healthy, like portion control and whole, unprocessed foods.

Consider oatmeal. In its purest form, the appropriate serving of whole rolled and steel cut oats (which should be minimally processed) is a great option for the first meal of the day. When they are processed and packaged, whoever, the grains are ground into much smaller “pre-digested” parts and additives like unnatural sweeteners are added in abundance, thus negating any potential health benefits. Businesses are almost always way more interested in creating a product which caters to the modern palette which, over time, developed a destructive preference for the unnaturally sweet or impossibly savory. To achieve that kind of taste, healthiness and quality and relegated to very bottom of the food producer’s priority pile. However, they rarely have any issues peddling the final product as the healthy food it could have been or initially was, nor do any of these producers make an effort to counter the widespread assumption that those sorts of benefits remain intact.

To reclaim your oatmeal and take control of your breakfast once again, you need to get back to basics. This means forgoing the options which have been processed heavily on your behalf and being an active, invested consumer. You have to care enough to read the ingredients and make new choices based on what is best for your health and body composition. Instead of prepackaged oatmeal, mix the following three ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup of rolled oats
  • ½ cup of mixed berries (or assorted superfruit that you may prefer!)

Words to Watch For On Your Cereal Box

Josh BezoniThe best breakfast rule of thumb by which every person interested in living a healthy lifestyle needs to abide revolves around consuming low glycemic-index carbohydrates. These are slower to be absorbed into bloodstream. This means you feel fuller for longer, satiated by a decent breakfast instead of craving a snack way before it’s time to even think about leaving the office for lunch. You should focus on finding the kinds of carbs that will actually increase your energy levels for a sustained period of time, as well as enhance your insulin concentrations and body composition. Furthermore, a diet that includes plentiful consumption of unrefined carbohydrates also results in a more favorable nutrient density. This means more vitamins, more minerals, more phytonutrients, and more fiber. Additionally, you will benefit from a higher thermic effect of feeding (like an increased metabolic rate).

To figure out if your favorite breakfast cereals include make the cut for the kind of meal you should be enjoying every morning, be sure to closely read the ingredient list at the soonest possible moment. You are likely to be astounded by the sheer amount of sugar that appears. Marketers and food scientists are notorious for hiding sugar under clever and overly complicated pseudonyms. Here are words to look out for:

  • Molasses
  • Maple sugar
  • Any permutation of corn syrup/sweetener
  • Agave nectar
  • Sugar beets
  • Cane Sugar
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Hydrolyzed starch
  • Maltose
  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose

Look at that long list of words! It is so crucial to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels if you are serious about losing fat and improving your body composition. And the benefits extend way beyond the aesthetic. The way you eat will define your energy levels and all markers of health. Just beware that the vast majority of the boxes in the cereal aisle are likely to be more trouble than their pretty packaging might suggest.

Snack to Be Slim

joshbezoni-snackOne of the most important things you can do for your overall fitness is, somewhat counter-intuitively, to eat constantly. Of course, this does not give you permission to eat unlimited quantities of junk food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Instead, you should absolutely break the habit of eating large portions of food three times a day and shoot for at least five or six smaller, healthy, nutrient-dense meals. Feed your body the good, natural fuel it needs to run as regularly and often as possible and your metabolism will get into the habit of running all day long. So, a huge asset to a healthy lifestyle is the ability to snack like a champion.

Unfortunately, the mainstream understanding of snacking is anything but healthy. Snack foods are too often synonymous with french fries, candy bars, and chips. Fortunately, healthy alternatives are rising in popularity. Unfortunately, as healthy alternatives boom in sales, it is becoming popular for everyone to claim their foodstuffs are great for you even when they are not. Pretzels, popcorn, and baked potato chip are often packaged to imply they are different from your run-of-mill potato chip in terms of fats and calories. That is definitely not something you should assume to be true.

In fact, baked potato chips and similar faux-healthy options can sometimes be even worse than fried potato chips. They can contain ingredients like artificial additives and preservatives as a result of sometimes being more heavily processed than regular potato chips. One main ingredient of baked potato chips is often dried potatoes, which are subjected to very high heat – enough to transform the starches into a compound called acrylamide which can be extremely damaging to your body in the long-term. The can also contain genetically modified corn- and soy-based product, which create Omega-6 oils and refined sugars.

Equally misleading, pretzels – often branded as a healthier option than fried potato chips – are actually made from the same high glycemic refined flour as white bread. They are no better, and sometimes worse, as any other chips.

Be an Active Eater, Not a Passive Consumer

The most destructive habit you need to break is thinking about snacking as mindless eating. Everything you eat should be mindful. Just because you’re snacking does not mean you get a pass. Choose to snack on nutrient-rich, whole foods all day long and you will be on your way to a better, happier, and longer life.

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.