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Category: health tips

Top 10 Health Tips For Americans

It can be hard to make the healthy choices. We get that, America. From the instant gratification of cheap fast food to the procrastination and excusing mentality of “Maybe tomorrow” and “I’m not feeling it today,” to the busy business of careerists and family obligations, there are a number of things that get in the way of the living the healthy lifestyle you’ve entertained for a good portion of your life. That’s right, we see you liking those quick morning workout routines and healthy recipes on social media. We know you drive by the gym and humor the idea of signing up. We know you want your doctor to stop nagging you. But, man, does being healthy have to be such a chore?

We here at Health Fitness Revolution have decided to make a list of the top ten health tips for Americans to help each and every one of you transform into the healthier, better version of yourself. If you follow these guidelines, the road to becoming healthy may be smooth and relatively painless (soreness from working out not included; bonus: that soreness if proof your muscles are building themselves up, proof that the progress is real!).

  • Get eight hours of sleep a night- While you sleep, your body repairs itself against the stress you put it through in a regular day, both physical and mental stress. Being well rested is proven to boost your immune system as those who sleep less are more susceptible to sickness. During sleep, the brain also processes all the information of the day, filtering between transitive memories that can be dismissed to storing short-term and long-term information for easier recall. The more you sleep, the more you retain! Sleep also makes you feel generally better, and allows for clearer thinking, enabling you to work and play more efficiently!
  • Consume two and a half cups of vegetables daily – Veggies boost your immune system and generally reduce the risk for diabetes. Loaded with necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, you body will be able have increased functions such as digestive ability, cognitive function, and cell damage repair while decreasing the risk and onset of various illnesses. These benefits, of course, depend on which vegetables you regularly consume.
  • Drink more water – Our bodies are 60 percent water, and daily functions in our body require that much water as you may have guessed. What you probably didn’t know is that water helps regulate body temperature, clears our skin by flushing out toxins, fights sickness, and boosts cognitive function. A suggested daily intake of water is between 10 to 16 cups depending on weight (the more you weigh the more you drink), exercise level (drink more with increased levels of exercise), age (as you get older you need to drink more), and gender (men should drink more on average). Another suggestion is half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should drink 65 fluid ounces of water at a minimum.
  • Exercise daily – Exercise improves your mood and boosts your energy levels; it’s a natural antidepressant and stress reliever and just so happens to lead to physical fitness while improving quality of sleep. To maintain a healthy weight and figure, Americans should aim for a baseline of thirty minutes a day. Don’t be afraid to up the amount of time you spend working out. The more you work out, the more you stand to gain.
  • Replace white breads and grains with whole-grain – Refined grains like the ones used to make white bread and bread products have had most of their nutrients stripped from them. Whole grains are a better fiber source and contain magnesium, potassium and selenium, and are also more filling, enabling you to eat less than your standard white bread but still give you that satisfying “I’m full” feeling.
  • Curb your sweet tooth by eating fruit – This is a pretty straight-forward tip: when your late-night cravings for sugar pounce upon you unexpectedly, simply reach for the fruit first. More times than not this will satisfy your desire for something sweet because fruit is naturally high in sugars (good sugars, to boot!). It’s the best of both worlds really: you get to satisfy that hankering without killing the calorie count. Cneck out some of our healthy desserts – most of which contain fruit and all a guilt-free!
  • Pay attention, portion control – When your protein covers over half of your plate, it’s time to cut that portion in half! Fill the newly found space on your plate with vegetables or fruit. Avoid overloading on carbs and calorie-heavy sides like baked potatoes (fixings included), too, and always be mindful of what you’re eating, the nutritional content and why you’re eating. If you eat simply because it’s a mindless activity or you’re feeling particularly emotional, it’s best to cut those habits in favor of overall health.
  • Mix up your mixers with water – Plan to go out drinking with the squad? While it’s ideal you may want to abstain from the empty calories and avoid alcohol altogether, it may not be the most sociable trick. What you can do, however, is add a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you consume. Add a slice of fruit with it for flavor, order fizzy water, even get it in a martini glass if you fear feeling out of place during cocktail hour. This trick will help you combat snacking at the bar and keep those liquid calories from stacking up.
  • Spice up meals – Spices raise body temperature and increase satiety (that is, make you feel fuller while you eat less). Hot peppers in particular are known to increase your metabolism – the rate at which your body burns energy; the higher you have, the more you burn, which is great for all those extra calories. Spices also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that may even aid in cancer treatment.
  • Don’t wait – add weight!  – Pound for pound, muscle weighs more than fat, so it might sound counterproductive to add weights to your workout routine if your goals is to drop pounds. Women in particular also fear getting fat. The truth is that building muscle in the way that bodybuilders do usually occurs as existing fat is being burned off, while bulking up occurs when muscle builds up over existing fact. If you cut calories in your diet while supplementing a cardio workout with weight, you will primarily burn fat and slim down.

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The Top 10 Foods to Avoid

We all have those guilty pleasure foods that we aren’t so proud of but refuse to even consider letting go of, but some of these are horribly intoxicating for your body, regardless of portion control or exercise habits. I know, I know you’ve more than likely heard that last sentence a thousand times, but that doesn’t make it any less pertinent. These foods do a heck of a lot more than just ruin a diet; they can jeopardize your health in the long run as well as make you more susceptible to life-threatening diseases – including some cancers and heart diseases, these being the number one killer of Americans. So treat your body like a temple and flush out these snacking sins. Pander to your guilty pleasures elsewhere, because this is a toxin-free zone! These are the foods to avoid if you want to live healthy.

  • Soda – High in calories and sugar, soda is essentially a drinkable candy. Studies have shown that soda has been a major contributor to American weight gain. Soda in general also does some serious damage to your dentures, and don’t think you can get away with diet soda. Though it may be low cal, the chemicals they put in actually cause you to eat greater amounts of food later in the day due to their lack of satisfaction. So diet soda actually can kill your diet, funny how that works. If you can’t stand the taste of just plain water, buy flavoring packets as a soda replacement.
  • Deep Dish Pizza – Picture this: you’re sitting with your pals in a local pizzeria and you’re famished, but you’ve also just started a health kick. Cue the waiter with your deluxe deep dish pizza. Your eyes widen with joy as this work of art sits before you, but you know you have to remain calm, so you take two slices and call it dinner. Sounds like a good choice right? Wrong. This pizza is deceptive with calories in the crust alone, not to mention the smattering of whole milk cheese and greasy pepperoni/sausage. This “health conscious” decision of only two slices can end up at 1200+ calories. Oops. But you don’t have to swear off of pizza completely: order the thin crust with veggie toppings instead of the meat and you have a yummalicious dish that ca be less than 300 calories per slice! Crisis averted.
  • White bagels – Made with refined wheat flour, this food has been stripped of the fiber and other nutrients that make whole-grains healthy. To top it off they’re ridiculously dense, both calorically and physically: one bagel is the equivalent to about five slices of white bread. They may be portable and easy to access, but the benefits stop right about there. Do whatever you can to keep these out of your life, but if you can’t live without bagels, then go for a whole wheat or bran version and scoop out some of the inner dough. Some other alternatives would be an English muffin, or two slices of whole-wheat bread with an egg and vegetables.
  • Bacon –  Don’t let the “45 calories a serving” sticker fool you. This food is still a mega carrier of fats and sodium that has been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. Harvard also found that men who ate larger amounts of processed meats (bacon include) had a below average sperm count.
  • Hot dogs – Sorry, meat lovers. Four-fifths of the calories in a regular hot dog come from fat of one kind or another. Plus do we really know what cuts of meat went into making that hot dog link? Like with the bacon point, eating processed meats (like the hot dogs) can lead to a greater risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. A barbecue cookout can still be a cookout without the traditional hot dogs. Substitute this culinary sin with chicken or turkey sausage, that way you get a higher protein and lower fat meat, as well as that same ‘hot dog experience’ you remember from being a kid.
  • American cheese – It’s a mixture of milk fats, solids, emulsifiers, whey protein, and food coloring: I don’t know about you, but that’s not what first comes to my mind when I hear the word cheese. It’s also incredibly high in sodium, and it’s the fat-holding equivalent of a piece of fatty meat. Four to five slices of American cheese will put you to about the halfway mark of your daily intake of sodium, yikes! So next time you’re in the dairy section, look for the good stuff if you must have cheese. And remember, keep it to the suggested serving: you don’t need to go Wallace and Gromit on that dairy product.
  • Toasted breakfast pastries – Again with the white enriched flour and high sugar content, there is almost no real fruit in that iconic fruit filling. This breakfast “treat” is a one stop shop for a blood sugar level through the roof, energy crashes a few hours later and binge eating due to dissatisfaction. Next time, reach for some yogurt, fruit, eggs, whole grain toast and avocado, or even cereal (just not the sugar-coated one). Breakfast can be sweet without being seriously bad for you.
  • Bread and crackers made with potassium bromate – Potassium bromate is a chemical added to dough to allow it to rise while baking. Animal studies on this chemical have been conducted and linked it to renal cancers and is also said to be have harmful effects on the human liver; it has also been banned from several countries including China, Canada, Brazil and the entirety of the European Union. What does that tell you? As a culture we eat a lot of bread, but what we eat shouldn’t be what kills us. So be on the lookout for this ingredient on the nutrition label to keep your body safe, and find an alternative if your breads and crackers contain this chemical.
  • Margarine – Though originally thought to be a healthier option due to the lower cholesterol, it turns out that a stick of margarine is filled with trans fat which actually lowers the levels of good cholesterol, raises bad cholesterol levels, and damages your blood vessels, essentially increasing the risk for coronary heart disease. To avoid this terrible food, you can resort to the tubs of either whipped butter, reduced calorie butter, or even avocado as a great alternative. However if you’re a purist and can’t live without the taste of butter, use as little as possible of the real thing, but otherwise avoid margarine.
  • Low-fat peanut butter – Peanuts are naturally stocked full of healthy fats. Misinformed food corporations however aim to make these have a lower fat content – which makes it more appealing on the shelves to people trying to watch their weight. However, the chemicals and hydrogenated oils they add to the peanut butter are actually difficult for your body to process, and like margarine, contains hydrogenated oils that will raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good ones. Though the natural version has a higher fat content, it is safer for you body as it can be high in antioxidants, just remember to exercise self-control, i.e. do not eat the whole jar in one setting when two tablespoons will do the trick.

Top 10 Health Tips to Promote Family Fitness

Family members – can’t live with them, can’t live without them. From the start of your life your parents nurture you and instill in you values important to them, and at the end of the day, it’s your family who cares for you the most. So it’s essential you have the best relationship possible.

But in this day and age, obesity in America is quickly rising so more and more kids are growing up unhealthy. It’s time to make a change in our diet, in our daily activity and in our home lives. Parents have the most power when it comes to teaching their kids to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Through family fitness you will build a connection that will last as you adopt the health lifestyle for years to come. Kids are the most impressionable when young and instilling the importance of health and fitness could lead them to following a healthy lifestyle for decades to come. If a son watches his father partake in daily runs, it’s likely he will imitate that behavior to emulate his father. On the other hand, the kids will not only adopt a healthy lifestyle, but also treasure fond memories of family experiences, whether it’s going on daily runs, camping and hiking over vacations, or hosting lessons on how to cook healthy, the influence you have on your kids can be immeasurable.

Here’s some advice Health Fitness Revolution came up with to inspire family fitness:

Work Out

  • Keep track of your goals – Odds are everyone in your family is at different levels in terms of fitness and nutrition. Perhaps one is a track star who devotes most of her time to athletic sports, while another has never played a sport in his life. Maybe one is diabetic while the other consumes water and granola bars like no one’s business. Not everyone will be on the same page. The best thing you can do is have everyone set individual goals for themselves, given their current position. Having your family at your back will hold you accountable for reaching your goals and maintaining whatever workout or diet regimen you maintain.
  • Hit the gym – Finding a gym that suits your needs and getting a membership is the first step. Some gyms offer deals for family memberships to motivate you to get your whole family active, so be sure to capitalize on that. Take each other to the gym – you don’t have to do the same workouts, but knowing someone is there with you can prove reassuring.
  • Cycling – Riding a bike is fun for all ages. Going on rides at the park, around the neighborhood, to run errands – all of this can be a fun activity the whole family can take part in. If you have older kids, you can take them on rigorous, enduring rides through the woods or back roads for enhanced physical activity and a unifying adrenaline rush.
  • Running – There’s nothing like a good run to clear your mind. Just like with biking, you can go running through the neighborhood or at the park as a family. One of the best things about family fitness is that you can wake up in the morning and go run together. There’s no need for plans in advance since you’re in the same household. There are also plenty of fun runs and family 5ks to participate in.
  • Swimming – Swimming is a fun interactive way to workout your body. You can do it recreationally or competitively. You can swim during the summer, on vacations, or even at neighborhood pools. Many families enjoy swimming as it’s a good way to promote not only athleticism, but also teaches the swimming ability – a fundamental life skill – while everyone’s having fun splashing around!

Nutrition

  • Breakfast – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, serving as the basis for the rest of the day as it is the first fuel in your body. You want to make sure you have a good balance of carbs, protein and fats to keep you energized throughout the day.
  • Lunch – As you approach midday, you feel your body craving for some tasty sustenance. You don’t necessarily need to completely fill yourself up at this time, but be sure to eat just enough to keep you on your feet. If you’re packing your kids lunch you want to make sure you’re giving them the right amount of protein, carbs, and fruits and vegetables.
  • Dinner – The last meal of the day is typically eaten with your family. This gives you a chance to have the whole family eat healthy. You don’t want to eat right before you go to bed because bad food can affect your sleep and can possibly lead to gas buildup in your digestive system. If you want to wake up refreshed the next morning, having a light dinner will be enough to keep you satisfied without weighing you down.
  • Snacks – Snacking throughout the day can be just as important as meals because having snacks can keep your metabolism at peak levels and decrease portion size in your main meals. Just as is with meals, it’s imperative you snack on foods that are nutritious, like fruits, vegetables, or even nuts. Grated, it may be tough to ease vegetables as a snack into your kids’ diet, so try adding organic peanut butter or ranch dressing as a dip for flavors. Click here for various snack recipes and tips!
  • Dessert – The temptation to consume dessert is an ever-present one, nagging at your sweet tooth and your taste buds as if to say there’s no harm in it. Unfortunately, there can be plenty of harm in coming dessert. Try eating some healthy desserts if you’re in the mood for baking or eat berries and other healthy but sweet foods to satiate that craving.

Top 10 Health Tips to Improve Your Pool Game

Pool. Billiards. The game with the giant stick where you hit a ball to hit other balls to go in a pocket on a tabletop. Ahh. Sounds easy enough, right? While some people are natural pool players, there are a great many who do struggle to maintain that steady hand, the perfect aim, the implementation of high school geometry and physics as you quickly calculate angles and the required amounts of mass and acceleration to create the required force you need, then applying it in practical terms to sink that sucker into the pocket. There are a great number of reasons to play pool but to actually play it requires skill, knowledge and practice.

As a result, HFR came up with ten health tips you could implement into your daily life to improve your pool game.

  • Eat a light dinner – Eating a light dinner improves mood, gives you quicker reflexes, and can give you peace of mind the following morning. To boot, eating foods high in magnesium promote a higher quality of sleep, giving you a longer, deeper sleep, making it easier to wake up in the morning to get your day started at the pool hall.
  • Have a good nights rest – Piggybacking on our first point, having a good night’s sleep allows for your body to be well rested, giving you greater control of your body throughout the day. Furthermore, having a higher quality of sleep enables your brain to process more information  – say of tips you learned to improve your pool game – enabling you to improve your ability to perform tasks, such as aiming, having a steady hand, and applying the right amount of force to a strike.
  • Calm nerves – Eating whole grains can decrease anxiety and calm the nerves, which is imperative in pool. Pool, of course, requires finesse and precision ad feeling antsy will ultimately lead to a poor game. Eating whole grains may help keep you calm as it promotes the release of serotonin, a neurochemical that allows you feel more in control.
  • Upper body strength – As pool requires you to hold and aim a stick, having the strength and capability to do so is a must. Executing a shot, regardless of aim, involves shoulder and arm strength. Doing a quick and easy arm and shoulder workout will make shooting the stick feel effortless.
  • Hand-eye coordination – Good hand-eye coordination is necessary for being a good pool player because one needs to set their sights on a pocket and execute the shot. One thing you can do to improve your hand-eye coordination is playing catch. Throwing and catching a ball allows for your eyes and hands to react in sync;continued practice at gradually increasing speed will enhance your reflexive abilities, which can not only increase your aim but also give you a sharper, quicker shot.
  • Meditation – The art of staying zen keeps the mind and body relaxed. Meditation is good for reducing stress and increasing concentration. Concentration is key in a game of pool. Your mind needs to only focus on hitting the balls into the pockets and nothing else. Mediation will certain increase your attention span, allowing your to focus longer and deeper on the task at hand.
  • Stretch – In a single match of pool, players can stretch their bodies at least twenty times as they extend and reach across the table. For more demanding shots you might have to lean far across the table and angle yourself in an otherwise unorthodox positions to get the shot you want. Stretching before a game will loosen your muscles, increasing immediate flexibility during the game.
  • Drink lots of water – Staying hydrated is always important during a sport, competitive or recreational. Before and throughout the game you should drink water to help energize your muscles and your brain.
  • Body alignment – Good stance and body alignment should be a number one focus for pool players. To line up the perfect shot you must first line up your body correctly. Acknowledging your posture is the first step to correcting your body alignment
  • Have fun! – Having a good attitude improves your overall mood. Even in competition or in facing adversity, you can remain focused and happy at the same time if you truly find yourself enjoying the sport.

See our Top 10 Health Benefits of Playing Billiards!

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How You Should Be Reading Nutrition Labels

Reading labels can be very tricky! Food companies don’t always make the ingredients clear because the truth may cause you to steer clear of their products. It is up to us to seek the truth and understand how to read the labels so we can make educated decisions. So grab something from your fridge or pantry and prepare to squint at those nutrition labels.

  • Serving size – Serving sizes are important. Often in America we tend to eat far more than we should. Food companies don’t do a great job at making it unclear so that you eat more of their product. The nutritional advice on labels refers to one serving size. For example, a bag of potato chips may say that a serving size 110 calories per serving but that entire bag may be 3 servings. That said, finishing an entire back can cause you to consume 330 calories! If you’re looking at nutrition labels, you must look at serving size and servings per bag/container to help you portion control.
    • Be sure that when you are reading labels you are adjusting them according to your actual serving size. For example, if half a cup is 75 calories and you are eating a full cup you are in taking 150 calories. The calories from fat line tells you how many calories come from fat. If most of the calories are from fat you may want to stay away from it or eat it in moderation.
  • Calories – To calculate the amount of calories you need to intake daily based on energy needs you can use the Harris-Benedict formula. It takes into account the person’s age, sex, height, weight and level of physical activity.
    • First you calculate your basal metabolic rate.
      • BMR Equation for males: 66 + (6.2 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.7 x age in years)
      • BMR Equation for females: 65.5 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
    • Then you take the number you acquired and multiply it by an energy factor to determine caloric needs.
      • Sedentary, little to no exercise: BMR x 1.2
      • Light exercise, 1-3 days of exercise: BMR x 1.375
      • Moderate exercise, 3-5 days of exercise: BMR x 1.55
      • Heavy exercise, 6-7 days of exercise: BMR x 1.725
      • Extreme exercise, 2-a-days, 6-7 days of exercise: BMR x 1.9
    •  Example: If you are a female, 21 years old, 5’2″, 123 pounds, who works out 6 days a week, your equation would look something like this:
      • 1.725 x (65.5 + [4.35 x 123] + [4.7 x 62] – [4.7 x 21])
      • Total Caloric intake: 1,368.27 Calories per day
  • Fats – When checking for fat content it is key that you note not just the total amount but the specific kids of fats. All fats are not bad fats. You should stay away from trans fats and saturated fats. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated are okay. It is also important to note that fat-free does not mean it is better for you. Often times fat-free items just mean added sugar. Companies do this because once you take away fats products don’t taste as well sometimes. They add in more sugar to keep people buying the product. Don’t let them fool you!
  • Cholesterol – Cholesterol is calculated as milligrams per serving. However, just because it says there are 0 mg of cholesterol doesn’t mean there is an absence of cholesterol raising fats known as hydrogenated fats. Hydrogenated fats can be worse than cholesterol and saturated fats. If you read the fine print of the ingredients and it says anything is “partially hydrated” before an ingredient, know that that food contains a cholesterol rising ingredient.
  • Sodium – If an item is more than 140 mg of sodium it is not considered low sodium. The daily recommended amount of sodium is 2300 mg. Anything higher puts you at risk for high blood pressure.
  • Potassium – Potassium is not required to be on all labels but just because it is missing from the label doesn’t mean it is not there. Many Americans need more potassium in their diets. Potassium can help with blood pressure levels, counteracts the increasing effects of sodium. Foods without nutrition labels, curiously enough, tend to be the most rich in potassium like fruit, vegetables, fish, poultry and meat. Even foods without it on the label such a dried beans, nuts and yogurt contain high levels of potassium. When you do come across an item with potassium on the label look for at least 10% of daily value.
  • Total Carbohydrates – The total carbohydrates portion tells you how many grams of carbs are in each serving. This number includes starches, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, added sugar sweeteners, and non-digestible additives.  The greater the difference between total carbohydrates and sugar the more “good” carbs there are. This means it contains more natural sugars than added. The closer the quantity of sugar is to total carbohydrate the worse the quality. One way to figure out the quantity of healthy carbs is to subtract total carbs from sugars. For example, if a box of cereal has 30 grams of total carbs and 15 grams are from sugar then there are potentially 15 grams of healthy carbohydrates.
  • Dietary fiber – Fiber falls underneath the umbrella of carbohydrates, and is unique in that it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. In fact, fiber can slow down the effects of carbohydrates on your blood glucose. When you are calculating the amount of carbohydrates in an item you should subtract the amount of dietary fibers from total carbs. This will give you the amount of carbs that do effect blood glucose levels.
  • Sugars – Sugar is added to most foods for flavor, and while that’s all very tasty and satisfying to your palate, the problem is that sugar is the leading cause of weight gain. However not all sugar is bad sugar. Sugar found in fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grain are okay for you because they contain simple sugars that when found in whole foods come with a number of other nutrients including fiber which dramatically slows down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. This moderates the impact on blood sugar. Try to avoid added sugars as much as possible! Those are where the problems lie. Guidelines from the American Heart Association recommend that women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily, while men should limit their added sugar to 9 teaspoons.
    • When reading labels it will tell you the amount of sugar in a product but going back to the serving size, it is key that you remember that is for one serving, not the entire product. So if the label says 7 grams of sugar per serving and there are 5 servings in a bad, that is actually 35 grams of sugar in a package. For women, that one serving has already exceeded your daily allowance for sugar intake, so don’t tempt yourself for more.
  • Protein – For the average person that is moderately active, it is recommended they consume .45 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That is plenty even if you are breastfeeding or working out regularly. Most people get enough protein without effort (the exception being vegetarian or vegans, who are likely to acquire their protein in the form of nuts and beans).
    • If you are trying to bulk up, protein powders are fine to add into your diet, but there is no need to overdo it. Three-quarters to one scoop is enough and adding more will just result in an abundance of protein that will go to waste, not actually increase gains. Also watch for added sugar in protein powders that are used to enhance taste
  • Percent Daily Value – Percent daily value is based on daily value recommendations for key nutrients based on a 2,000 calorie diet. You can use it as a reference as to if you ate more or less than 2,000 calories in your day. The label does the math for you. Each nutrient is based on 100% of the daily requirement for that nutrient. For example, one serving of whole wheat crackers has a total fat value of 18% then you have consumed only 18% of you daily value of fat out of 100% in that one serving. If you eat two servings you have consumed 36% of your daily fat allowance, leaving you with 64% more fat allowance for the day. 5% or more daily value is low and 20% or more daily value is considered high. Try to keep track of your macro and micronutrient percentages to allot yourself the proper nutrients to last you through the day.
  • Ingredients – Ingredients are listed in order of quantity. The ingredient listed first is the most abundant. When checking your grains that claim to be whole wheat it is particularly important you check the ingredients. If it says “whole-grain” or “wheat flour” it is not the same as whole wheat. Checking the ingredients is how you make sure you aren’t tricked into eating bad food.

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Health Tips for Portion Control

While it may be tempting to jump into the buffet line and see how much food can fit onto a single plate and into your stomach, the true way to gauge how fit your meals are is with portion control. Portion control is a way of balancing your meals – ensuring you have the right amount of protein, carbs and even fats and sugars in your diet. Portioning your plate is a simple yet effective for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Below are 10 ways you can bring yourself to a more balanced diet.

  • Section your plate – With an imaginary line as your guide, cut your plate into portions of three. The biggest section is what you want filled with grains, such as whole-wheat bread or pasta and brown rice. Be sure these grains are whole-wheat and avoid white grains like white rice or white bread. Brown grains are higher in dietary fiber and can keep you full longer.
    • The second portion of the plate is what you put your fruits and vegetables in. Be sure to consume plenty of these, as they are high in vitamins and minerals essential for various systems in your body.
    • The third section will include proteins, such as meats including chicken, pork, and even fish, nuts, and beans. This section will also include dairy, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
    • If you exercise regularly, the ratio between carb and protein may vary. Prior to a workout you may have more carbs in your meal to help maintain energy levels, while after a workout you may have more protein-heavy meal for muscle recovery and repair.
  • Keep it colorful – Fruits and vegetables are essential to preserving all-around health. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, while providing you with many necessary vitamins and minerals to keep your bodily functions operating at peak levels.
  • Measure your portions – It’s important to measure what you’re putting in your body. Take advantage of measuring cups, spoons and food scales when you can, and when you can’t, at least take the time to estimate. Use simple objects as a reference to measure your portions, such as a tennis ball equating to roughly the size of one cup.
  • Use smaller dishes – People tend to mentally measure how full they are based on how empty their plate looks. Therefore, it may be a better idea to use smaller dishes to help psychologically help you consume less. It’s also a better idea to serve food on portioned plates, rather than family-style on the table, which encourages people to take more food than they should eat.
  • Eat until satisfied, not full – “You should only eat when you’re hungry”- that sounds simple enough, right? Many people choose to eat when they’re bored or that the food was sitting there, tempting them. You should only consume food when you’re hungry and eat till you are satisfied, which isn’t necessarily the same as being full. A good method to use is to stop eating when you feel about 80% full, the body is usually satisfied by that point, and there’s always snacks to look forward to if you’re starting to feel hungry again before your next meal.
  • Read nutrition labels – Knowing what you put in your body is the first thing you should focus on when building your plate. Based on your own personal goals, determine if that food is truly good for you and how much of it you should consume. Not sure how to read nutrition labels? Check out our Guide to Reading Nutrition Labels.
  • Turn off the television – Sitting in front of the television with your eyes glued to the screen, can result in mindless eating. TV (and other distractions, such as reading or playing on your phone) can distract you from the amount of food you’ve consumed. Tuning out any distractions can help you focus more on what you’re eating and what your body is telling you.
  • Share a meal when eating out – Plates and meal sizes at restaurants tend to be bigger to encourage customer satisfaction in feeling full. A solution to making sure you don’t eat too much is to share a meal with whomever you’re dining with. To boot, you can be even split the check, helping you save money.
    • If you are eating out alone, don’t be shy in asking for a to-go box. Most restaurants offer to-go boxes free of charge, and given that most meals are so large, the average person can’t finish them in a single sitting, it’s best to not waste the meal and keep it for lunch the following day.
  • Avoid seconds – Getting seconds prompts you to eat twice as much as you planned on eating, which means double the calories. Instead, aim for making your (hopefully small) plate full for what you think you can consume.
  • Eat 5-6 small meals a day – While it may seem counterintuitive to eat more meals to promote a healthy diet, the keyword lies in “small” – that is “5-6 small meals.” While the meals are small, they serve to help curb cravings and overeating as you are constantly feeding your body energy. These meals will include your usual breakfast, lunch and dinner, and while the meal sizes will be smaller, you’ll consume snacks in between each meals, like trail mix, a cup of yogurt, and freshly squeezed and blended juices and shakes.

Hungry for more facts on diet and nutrition intake? See what’s cooking here!

Need a few more pointers to get your started on the road to health and fitness? Check out more of our health tips!

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Choosing the Perfect Workout Shoes: Road, Trail, Cross-trainers, etc?

Perusing your local sports store, you come across a number of different types of workout shoes. You see shoes categorized as running, trail running, cross-trainers, walking shoes – athletic shoes, generally, but they all seem to look alike. So what’s with the categorizing?

Note, while this article states shoes are “engineered” a specific way, wearing one type of shoe for another activity does not necessarily mean the shoe won’t be able to handle activity. How a shoe is constructed results in how it can be used more efficiently and may even affect the quality of your workout due to levels of comfort.

Running Shoes

ThinkstockPhotos-526902107Running shoes are constructed to propel you to move forward. Modern shoe technology has allowed running shoes to range in various styles – from minimalist to maximalist; from seamed uppers to seamless – so we’ll go into detail about that further down. Generally speaking, running shoes are engineered to encourage the forward movement of an athlete.

  • Most shoes you’ll see are road running shoes – shoes that are made for running on hard surfaces, including roads, asphalt and concrete.
  • Tend to be more cushioned and more supportive than other types of shoes
    • Level of cushion and support will vary depending on the particular shoe. Some shoes are made with extra cushioning while others have more stability or motion-control features.
  • Best for: heel-to-toe motions, such as running and fast walking; best for a more customized foot type, such as when dealing with overpronation or underpronation (see below) as running shoes are often engineered to accommodate different foot types.

Read: Choosing the Perfect Workout Shoes: Gaits and Arches

Notice the lugs on the trail running shoes
Notice the lugs on the trail running shoes

Trail-running shoes, on the other hand, are made for the trail – softer surfaces, such as dirt.

  • Essentially for the outdoor enthusiast, trail running shoes tend to have lugs – round, little pegs on the outsole – or deeper treads to enhance grip and traction on uneven surfaces. Can be worn on established trails or in the backcountry if you’re an experienced trail runner.
    • Many trail running shoes are coming out in “minimalist” styles to enhance natural foot motion and promote grip.
  • Best for: Outdoors, running on park trails or trail areas, light hikes and day hikes with simple terrain. 


Cross-Trainers

ThinkstockPhotos-482234125While running shoes are engineered to propel forward movement, cross-trainers are specifically made to encourage forward, backward and lateral movement.

  • This also means they generally lack in support and may not protect the foot from repetitive high-impact stress such as continuous running.
  • Trainers are usually cushioned enough for short, repetitive bursts of exercise.
  • Cross-trainers tend to have a wider sole to allow for lateral movement and sharp cuts.
  • Best for: workouts that include a variety of movements, including cross-fit, plyometrics, interval training, dance workouts and weights. Generally made for use on hard surfaces.

Walking ShoesThinkstockPhotos-177429476

  • The forward motion mechanics of walking and running may be similar, but the way the body moves during each of the motion will ultimately affect whether or not a walker should choose a walking shoe or a running shoe.
  • Walkers will heel strike (the heel landing before the rest of the foot while walking or running)
    • Runners, on contrast aim for the front two-thirds     of their feet to strike the ground, though some runners are naturally heel strikers
    • Walking shoes are engineered to have more cushion in the heel to account for heel striking. Will generally not have all-around cushioning the way a running shoe would.
  • Will also bend near the ball of the foot for a proper toe-off
  • Best for: walking!

Read More: Choosing the Perfect Workout Shoes: Gaits and Arches

Top 10 Ways To Boost Your Immune System

A strong immune system makes a strong person. Then you won’t ever have to worry about catching the common cold because your body fights off germs and diseases like mortal combat. Being sick leaves you feeling drained and tired but there are steps you can take to prevent illness. There are many tips and tricks to strengthen your immune system, your diet, daily activity, and sleep pattern all affect your immune system. We previously wrote about the things that are lowering our immune systems, here are the top 10 to boost your immune system:

  • Exercise regularly – Daily exercise does the body plenty of good. Exercise doesn’t have to be extremely strenuous – or even strenuous at all to qualify as exercise and allow your body to reap its benefits. Even walking for thirty minutes a day will make a difference in your immune system. Someone who doesn’t workout is more susceptible to getting sick rather than someone who does.
  • Get enough sleep – Every night you should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Not sleeping enough can throw your body off and lead to increased inflammation and the spread of germs. When looking to fight off illness sleep will be your best friend. Read our list of best foods to eat to promote sleep.
  • Drink less alcohol and avoid tobacco smoke – Excessive consumption of alcohol weakens the immune system and increases risk of lung infection. Smoking also increases your vulnerability to lung infection, as well as the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia for yourself and those affected by second-hand smoking.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables – When eating fruits and vegetables, always look for variety; you want to have brightly colored food. Citrus fruits are a number one when it comes to strengthening your immune system as they pack a ton of vitamin C in them. Some leafy green vegetables contain a strong amount of vitamin C, such as kale and spinach.
  • Get fresh air and sunlight – Sunlight triggers the skin’s production of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D correlate with an increased risk of respiratory problems, so it’s extremely important to get your daily dose of sunlight. Make sure to put on some sunscreen!
  • Manage stress – Stress drains the mind and body and can change your mood. Opening yourself to stress also opens your body up to getting sick. Once sick then you’ll be even more tired and stressed so it’s important to take steps to prevent yourself from getting sick. You can manage your stress by simply slowing down. If you have a high-demand, high-paced lifestyle, carve out some time to relax, even if that means substituting your workout for yoga, blaring music to the inconvenience of your neighbors, or going for a mindless drive around town.
  • Keep surfaces clean – Touching contaminated objects is one of the leading causes in contracting an illness. Throughout the day you touch so many things other people may have touched – doorknobs, stair railings, appliances, your phone – and then you do the unthinkable without even realizing it: touch your face (or even worse, your mouth!). This kind of contact makes your body vulnerable to potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. In your home make sure to keep surfaces clean with cleaner, particularly one containing tea tree oil because it is a natural antiseptic.
  • Use garlic – Adding garlic in its raw form is known to boost your immune system. You want to keep it raw to receive as many health benefits as you can because heat can cook off some of the vitamins you’re wanting to get. Its cloves were shown in a study to help fight off the common cold.
  • Drink green tea – Green tea does a lot for the mind and body. The antioxidants in green tea are beneficial in generally strengthening the immune system. It protects against damage from free radicals and keeps the immune system running normally. For more on the restorative effects of green tea, check out our top 10 health benefits of drinking green tea.
  • Avoid processed foods – You should avoid added sugar, gluten and processed foods because all of these will greatly decrease your immune functions. Many processed food can provide energy and nutrients, but ultimately lead to negative implications overall.