Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Calculating the Nutrition Info in a Recipe

Calculating the nutrition info in a recipe can be  a lot of work if you do it by hand. Tonight, I found some apps that figure out the numbers for you. I tested out the one on SparkPeople, because everything else I've tried on that site has been so great and easy to use.

Calculating the Nutrition info in a Recipe image courtesy of Pixabay

My Experience With the SparkRecpes Nutrition Info Calculator


I made a chicken and broccoli stir fry for dinner, (not the one shown above, mine didn't turn out that pretty) and I was sitting down to enter the nutrition info for each separate item, it occurred to me to look for something that would let me enter the whole recipe and then break it down into serving seizes. I found several apps that looked good, but SparkPeople came through for me again, with SparkRecipes.

I entered everything I had thrown in the pan. Then I hit "Calculate". In about 2 seconds I was looking at an extremely detailed nutrition info label that was easy to read. But, I had forgotten an ingredient. So, I went back, thinking I would have to start over, but nope, everything was still there. What a time saver!!

Calculating Nutrition Info By Hand


To calculate the nutrition info in a recipe when you don't have an app available, grab a piece of paper and a pen.
  • Write the calories for each ingredient, then each other piece of nutrition info you track, like carbs, proteins, and fats.
  • Add up the calories, and other info types.
  • Divide each total by the number of servings.
Okay, it's only 3 steps, but when you add in the fact that you're doing it for every detail you want to track, it can get pretty time consuming. Using an app that calculates your recipe's nutrition info for you just makes it so easy and fast. 


Thanks for reading, and be sure to share your experience with nutrition info calculators and which one you like best. Oh, and if you're interested, join us on Facebook for updates and other info shared on the F&C page.


When Do You Like to Exercise?

I've always enjoyed exercising, but when I gained weight, it got harder and harder with each few pounds and I stopped. It was a vicious cycle, because without the active lifestyle, the weight kept coming, and with the weight building up on my body, it got harder to exercise.

When Do You Like to Exercise? image courtesy of Pixabay


Bedtime Exercise Routines?


So, lately, I've been exercising every day, making a point of it, and most days I end up squeezing in a workout right before bed because I forget to do it when I'm working. (And, as a copywriter, I live a very sedentary lifestyle.)

Logically, I know that's not the ideal because it can interfere with sleep. Plus, it would be very easy to forget and just go back to slacking off because, well, at the end of the day I'm tired. (Who isn't?)

Morning Workouts?


Today, I was logging my breakfast on SparkPeople, because I find their app easy to use and I helps me to see the details of what I've eaten. Plus, I love the little charts they provide that make it even easier to see how I'm doing.

Seated Dumbbell Workout


So anyway, while I was recording what I had eaten, I noticed a link to SparkTV. I clicked it and it was a bunch of free to watch exercise videos! I picked out a 9-minute seated dumbbell workout first and used my 3-pound weights. It was great and I got a surprisingly good burn in my upper body muscles, abs, and arms.

Seated Cardio Workout


I was having fun at that point, so I picked an 11-minute seated cardio workout with the same instructor. I had my doubts when I picked it but figured it was worth a try. It was great! And, surprisingly intense, though the instructor did explain how to increase or lower the intensity by adapting the movements.

So, now it's still morning, and I've completed a task I normally put off till the end of the day, and I feel great about it. That leaves me wondering; when do other people enjoy working out?

emoticon I would love to hear how everyone else fits in their workout and if you get the same positive feelings after finishing a good workout!

Feel free to share in the comments, browse around the site for more information, and be sure to join us on the Facebook F&C page.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Introduction to the Keto Diet

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine told me about the Keto diet, or more appropriately, the keto WOE (way of eating) and I was beyond curious when she told me she had lost 53 pounds so far this year. (I mean, the year's only a little over halfway over and that's a lot of weight to lose fast.)

Keto Diet image courtesy of Pixabay

I have been struggling with my weight for pretty much my whole adult life - and the older I got - the more I struggled with it. I've tried diets, lots of them. Some sensible, some crazy as all get out. Some work for me.... for a while.... but then the pounds come back and bring friends - meaning more pounds.

Learn About the Keto Diet

I was excited to try this new diet that my friend is having such amazing results with, but first, I wanted to make sure it would be safe. So, I started researching it, and I found a lot of amazing and confusing information.
As noted by Daily Health Post, the ketogenic diet was originally developed by the Mayo Clinic in 1924. It was originally created to help reduce the seizures experienced by epileptic patients. The dramatic weight loss the keto way of eating produced was discovered as an unexpected result. 
The diet is described by physicians at the Mayo Clinic as causing the body to produce ketones. Ketones force your body to burn fat as fuel instead of glucose. Glucose is what your body produces when you eat carbs, cutting carbs and making healthy fats available in your body makes your body produce ketones, or a state of ketosis, so, you're body learns to burn fat instead of carbs.

There are also a lot of other health claims about this diet (as of August 2017) such as it helps keep cancer in check, it helps control diabetes, and several other things. I can't really speak to those claims, because I'm just a person researching and trying a new diet, and I want to tell you about it because I'm impressed with what I see so far.

The Ketogenic Diet vs. Traditional Diet Thinking


I really can't describe how confused I was when I first started reading about ketosis. The ketogenic diet is basically high fat, moderate protein and low carb. What? High fat to lose weight? I've heard about high protein/low fat dieting, and I've seen the results.

Like keto, dramatic results in weight loss, BUT, as soon as the diet ends, and you go back to your old way of eating, the weight comes back fast, with more (just like I mentioned earlier - but  no - I never tried the high protein/low carb diet. I just saw some friends try that one.)

I think that rebound effect also would apply to the ketogenic way of eating, and that's probably why it's not typically described by most people trying it as a diet anymore, so much as a lifestyle change.

I would suggest that anyone who wants to try the ketogenic diet talk to their doctor, or physical trainer, and do plenty of research just to be safe. Everyone's body is different, so the diet that's perfect for one person may bring disastrous results to someone else.

The Evolution of the Keto Diet


The original version of the ketogenic diet developed by the Mayo Clinic had patients consume:
  • 75 percent of daily calories from fat
  • 20 percent of calories from protein
  • 5 percent of calories each day from carbohydrates
More modern versions of this way of eating as a weight loss program have lowered the fat intake a bit and slightly raised the protein and carb intake allowances to:
  • 40 percent fat
  • 30 percent protein
  • 30 percent carbs
For the version I'm trying, I don't actually even look at the percentages, I look at the grams of carbs I eat each day. My ideal goal is 20 grams of carbs or less per day, with up to 50 being acceptable. If I stick to clean carbs, like fresh vegetables, this isn't to hard to manage.

No Deprivation and Dirty Keto


I want to admit now that I don't do well with diets that are based on deprivation. I'm not a person who is going to thrive on a diet that leaves me hungry all the time. With this way of eating, you're not hungry all the time because the fat makes you feel full. You do end up lowering your overall calorie intake, but it's because you're not hungry all the time. Compare that to a carb-rich diet, where you are likely to be hungry all the time, for huge quantities of food.

The low carb availability drastically limits fruit, which I love, so at some point, I plan to adapt my keto way of eating to allow for more fruit. For me, that may mean switching to a paleo version of the diet, or simply going "dirty keto" to allow for my love of fruit.

My Experience With 9 Days on the Keto Diet


So, I've told you a bit about what I found in researching the ketogenic diet, but I haven't shared me experience so far. 

(I use the SparkPeople trackers to record my information, because it's so user-friendly. The nutrition entry doesn't seem to adapt for the keto diet, but I use it to record my dietary intake and refer to the chart it provides at the bottom of the page to get an idea how I'm doing as far as keto eating.)

Day 9: Out of the eight days I've completed, I actually only hit the 20 grams of carbs or less I was trying for once (It's amazingly hard to cut carbs that low, at first anyway.) Even with not doing the diet perfectly, as of this morning, the start of my 9th day, I have dropped 9 pounds. I've also lost 1/4-inch on my waist, 1-3/4 inches on my hips, 2 inches on my right thigh, and 1-inch on my upper right arm. (I didn't track the left side because the app didn't give me a spot to do that.) 

I've always heard that losing weight too fast is a bad thing, but I feel better already. My previous daily bouts of acid reflux have not flared up one single time in the days I've been doing keto. I've also been sleeping better and I'm not having the aches and pains (hip/knees) I did before. I have to admit I was pretty cranky the first 2 days, but once my body adapted to the new way of eating, my mood improved and it's, well, pretty great.

Motivating Weight Loss Numbers


Seeing the numbers go down on the scale and feeling my clothes get looser are also highly motivating things. I can hardly wait to start really experimenting with keto recipes so I can tell you a bit more about the keto diet, and share some ways to make it easy to get started if you're interested and your doc approves the diet for you.

By Laure Justice

Thanks for reading, and be sure to share your thoughts and questions about the keto diet in the comments, and join us on the F&C Facebook page to see updates on this information and new recipes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Actual Amount of Fruit and Vegetable Servings We Should Get Daily and Here's Why

Fruit and Vegetable Servings
Fruit and Vegetable Servings image courtesy of Pixabay

Remember the old food pyramid? That old thing that used to tell us the right foods and quantities to eat for a well balanced, healthy and nutritious diet? For those that can not recall, or maybe are too young to remember, in the early 90’s the United States Department of Agriculture released the first real traditional food model specifically focused on dietary consumption and provided within it were the recommended values of the varying food groups. The pyramid put a big focus on whole grains and the inclusion of fruits and vegetables and dairy products for a healthy, well balanced diet.

Throughout the 90’s as dietary fads grew, carbohydrates began to become more feared and the diet went through all sorts of transformations from being turned upside down, made into circles, squares, and all kinds of new trending shapes. One thing however that did not seem to be changing was the amount of servings of fruit and vegetables that should be present in a well balanced diet. Until recently the recommended amount was consistently four to five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and was treated only as a supplement to main, carbohydrate and protein-centric dishes rather than being the bulk of our fiber and carbohydrate intake.


So are we getting enough fruit and vegetable servings in our diet with four to five servings a day?

Info on Fruit and Veggie Intake Quality and Quantity


The thing about the intake of fruits and vegetables is that they can offer fullness through fiber content, a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, and provide a lighter feeling throughout the digestion process, all while not destroying your daily calorie count as you munch away. The main things to consider in eating your 7-8 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is sugar intake and variety; you want to shoot for a ‘produce-rainbow’ and avoid overeating the same fruit multiple times.

For instance, bananas are power packed with potassium and and B-6 but are also on the higher side when it comes to sugar and carbohydrates, now while these natural sugars and carbohydrates shouldn’t be treated like processed sugars and carbs as they digest faster and provide healthy regeneration of energy stores necessary for physical activity, you still don’t want to overdue your glucose intake by eating 4-5 bananas a day.

An Example of a Good Day's Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

In the following I will provide a normal day's intake of fruit and veggies as an example of how to eat and when. For best digestion, all fruit and vegetables should be eaten first with any meal; avoid eating any acidic fruits after other foods as this complicates digestion and can lead to stomach ache.

Here's what a normal day's diet looks like when shooting for 7-8 servings:

  1. First serving: Morning Coffee with Banana and Oatmeal - (Pros: Potassium, B-6/ Cons: 12-16g sugar)
  2. Second and third servings: 10 am Carrots and Grapefruit - (Pros: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, low sugar content, energizing/ cons: prep work)
  3. Fourth serving: Something Green With Lunch - Kale/Broccoli/Spinach (Pros: Calcium, Iron, Fiber)
  4. Fifth serving: Mid Day Snack - Berries and mint leaves (Pros: refreshing and energizing, heart health, focus)
  5. Sixth, seventh and eighth servings: Dinner should be 70% Veggie 30% other. Finish your day off with vegetable based carbs and avoid large meals or bread right before bed. Think beats, tomato, chard, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, sweet potato.
Why the Fruit and Vegetables? As a vegetarian, I am always asked if I think it is worth it to diet my whole life in some weird attempt at trying to live forever. In response I offer that it is not about living forever, but rather about being able to use my body to the fullest extent while I am here. As you phase more servings of healthy fruit and vegetables into your daily routine and diet you will not only notice a difference in energy stores and alertness, but you will also be helping yourself to lower your blood-pressure and strengthen your heart.


At the core of our cardiovascular issues as a human race is poor diet and exercise, if you up your raw fruit and vegetable content to 7-8 servings per day you are doing your due diligence to ward off disease by creating a strong immune system and building a powerhouse of antioxidants in your body.


It is not easy to go from zero to 100 in fruit and vegetable consumption, especially if you do not know where to begin. I encourage trying to take on the dietary change with a friend and doing as much further research as you can to learn how to add variety and zest to your diet.

Eating beautiful raw fruits and vegetables should be one of the joys of living on this wonderful earth, so do your best to get as many of the proper servings a day and you will feel light and invigorated, your skin will look beautiful, and you will be on your way to a healthier you!

By  IWrite4U!