Mar 30, 2014

Are Healthy Foods Making You Fat?

Have you ever gained weight when you were trying to lose weight?  Seeing the number on the scale go the opposite direction is extremely frustrating!!  This often leads people to give up and throw their hands in the air saying, "what's the use?"  When trying to lose weight it is imperative to be aware of the healthy foods consumed because they may be tipping the scales when the desired effect is to lighten the scale.

Calories are needed to fuel the body for survival.  Carbohydrates are also needed to fuel the body and they also play a vital role in delivering nutrients to the brain.  Sugar occurs naturally in food, especially fruit and there is no need for added sugar in the body.  Matter of fact, excessive sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes and increase heart risks.  It is only added to make things more appealing but unfortunately that comes in the form of refined products and the body has no use for that.

If you have been trying to lose weight and eating much healthier but have been unsuccessful you may want to read this.  There are foods that are highly nutritious for the body but should be consumed in moderation due to being higher in calories and fat.  "Good for you" doesn't always translate to "eat as much as you want" if you are trying to lose weight.  This statement is not implying that a person is over-consuming, it is indicating that there could be more calories than we realize in healthy foods and even a serving can be too much for a person on a weight loss quest.

When a woman is working on losing weight they will be consuming between 1,200 and 1,800 calories per day.  Men are generally going to need to consume 1,500-2,300 calories.  Usually when people start their journey with 1,800-2,300 calories they are going to gradually reduce them until they achieve the desired amount of weight loss. This will vary depending on start weight, age, gender and the beginning level of fitness in reference to muscle density.  Typically, a person losing weight will consume between 50-100 grams of carbohydrates per day.  Per the American Heart Association, a woman  maintaining her weight should consume about 25 grams of sugar per day, which by the way is about 6 teaspoons, and men who are maintaining their weight should only consume about 37.5 grams.  Losing weight totally changes these numbers because the goal is to decrease their daily intake in order to shed the fat.

There are a variety of foods that have high nutritional content and are very good for us but also contain higher numbers of calories.  Even though something is good for us and has good fats or other valuable nutrients does not mean that the calories don't count.  The calories still count so when incorporating a healthier variety of foods into the diet, it is important to be mindful of higher calorie options to avoid accidental weight gain.

Here is a list of 6 foods that commonly get great exposure for being healthy but reek havoc on weigth loss:

1.  Avocado has 708 grams of potassium, in a 1 cup serving, which is way more than a medium sized banana at 422 grams.  They can help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), increase the absorption rate of other nutrients when consumed in a salad and they contain lutein which is commonly known to be good for the eyes.  Guess what else?  It has 10 grams of fiber which is 40% of the recommended daily value!  And it has almost 3 grams of protein, not to mention all the other vitamins and nutrients it has. 

Avocados contain 234 calories in one cup and 21 grams of fat.  1 cup does not typically go far in
reference to consuming enough for a meal.  A person trying to lose weight may be only consuming 300-400 calories per meal which means that the avocado, by itself, takes up most of the allotted calories for that meal.  Try cutting it to 1/4 cup instead of a full cup.  This way the wonderful taste and health benefit is still there while at the same time avoiding excessive calories and fat.  1/4 cup of anything can seem menial but it is still enough to get the taste and reap the health benefits.

2.  Nuts are commonly known for being a great snack high in protein.  They are commonly found on salads, in main dishes and a major part of trail mix.  Cashews, for example, have a high content magnesium which is good for bones and can help reduce blood pressure.  With 5 grams of protein per serving that is a pretty good amount from a tiny little nut.

Cashews contain 157 calories and 12 grams of fat per 1 oz so if the snack is more than 1 oz it can really add up in the calorie department. For example, think of the size of a matchbook and that is approximately 1 oz. Consuming 2 oz would be 314 calories and, again, for those who are paying attention to their weight loss it is important to be aware of the portions.

Almonds contain 6 grams of protein per oz so they weight in heavier inthat department than the cashew and it has many benefits as well.  They may help reduce cholesterol as well as heart disease with a high content of Vitamin E.

Almonds contain 163 calories and 14 grams of fat per 1 oz serving. Same thing applies in this example because 1 oz. is pretty small and nuts are so delightfully delicious that it is extremely easy to surpass the 1 oz. serving size.  These 2 nuts are just examples and other nuts fall in the same category because they are healthy but they are also higher in calories and fat which means it can produce the opposite desired effect for a person working to lose weight.

The same idea can be applied to nut butters as can be seen in the above examples of almonds and cashews.  Nut butters are just the chopped up and pureed version of the actual nut itself.  It is high in nutritional value but also high in caloric value as well.

3.  Dried fruit options are a better way to get the sweet tooth satisfied than something sugary like a
 doughnut.  Raisins are fat free, high in fiber and low in sodium.  They are super convenient on the go and can easily be stowed away in a purse or gym bag.  Traveling?  Great option too.  They have 130 calories per cup with 29 grams of sugar and 31 grams of carbohydrates......whew, makes you want to get on a treadmill just thinking about it!!  PS, A cup is about the size one of those little boxes of raisins.

What about something like apricots?  They are PACKED with nutrients such as potassium, Vitamins C, A and B-6,  iron, and magnesium.  Just one cup packs 1,511 mg of potassium -that even trumps our friend the avocado, 10g fiber- again that's 40% of the recommended daily value and about 4 grams of protein.  The problem is that 1 cup also provides 314 calories, 69 g sugar and 81 g carbohydrates.  OMG!!!  This is NOT effective for a person trying to lose weight.  A suggestion would be to cut this down, waaay down, to about 1/4 cup.  The best way to do it is to measure it out and put it into a serving container to avoid the potential of mindless munching.... believe me, it happens.

4.  Trail mix is a combo of the above mentioned dried fruits and nuts and is loaded with antioxidant benefits, vitamins, nutrients and a great way to fuel the body in a pinch.  It is easy to carry so a great choice to keep on hand at the office or to offer guests as mini snacks.  However, while it falls under the category of healthy, it is still high calories and a serving can easily get away from us.  Before you know it a cup can be eaten which will fill you up with a whopping 693 calories and 44 grams of fat.  Pair this with 67 g carbs and there goes half of a personals daily intake (if they are eating 1,200 calories in a day - which, BTW, should be a level that a person gradually works towards and typically does not begin at right away). 

[Image Source: http://kaylahoward.com/]
5.  Granola has a ton of fiber which help keep you feeling full longer as well as maintain regularity.  As discussed previously, fiber is great for the effect it has on lowering cholesterol.  The oats are heart healthy due to the unsaturated fats but be careful because just 1/2 cup contributes 225 calories, about 15 grams of sugar & 40 grams of carbohydrates.  It is wise, when trying to lose weight, to reduce this to about 1/4 cup to help keep the calories, sugar and carbs down.

6.  Smoothies are one of my favorite topics because they are soooo good for you and everyone's doing it!  Plus, they taste great :)  Also, I have been on a smoothie kick lately.  Most smoothies come with yogurt, milk, lots of fruit and sometimes veggies.  A Kale-ribbean Breeze at Jamba Juice contains Passionfruit Mango Juice Blend, Kale, Mangos, Nonfat Greek Yogurt, and Chia Seeds.  Kale has been all the rage lately because it is a green super food and it is loaded with Vitamins A and C.  Vitamin A is good for eye health and it helps fight off infections.  Their site indicates that this smoothie allows for 320% Vitamin A and 230% Vitamin C in a small drink.  It also delivers 320 calories, 48 g sugar and 66g carbs which is enough calories for a full meal plus a bit more sugar than really should be in a day.  The good news is that the sugar comes from the fruit rather than refined sugar which is better for the body but the point is that if a person is trying to lose weight it may not be the best option.

Smoothies should be reserved for treat meals and used/consumed in moderation when trying to lose weight.
While they have many nutritional benefits, they also have high quantities of calories, especially when purchasing any size larger than a small.

It is OK to consume all of the above items.  It is good for you.  It is important to remember to stick to the serving size and sometimes even less than the serving size if you are trying to lose weight.  Being aware and educated on the content of the foods you are consuming, even the healthy ones, will help boost your results.

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