Empty Calories

Alcohol and weight loss are enemies, but an occasional drink can have a place in a healthy lifestyle. In fact, many experts note the health benefits of consuming a single drink per day, including a reduced risk for high blood pressure. If, however, you are exceeding one drink, you might be sabotaging your weight loss plans.

Here are some facts about alcohol that one should be aware of:

Alcohol is a diuretic. It causes water loss and dehydration. Along with water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and offers NO nutritional value. It only adds empty calories to your eating regime. Why not spend your calorie budget on something healthier?

Alcohol affects your sleep in negative ways. Drinking might help induce sleep, but the sleep you get isn’t very deep. Ultimately, as a result, you get less rest.

Skipping a meal to save your calories for drinks later is a bad idea. Many people who drink know they will be having some alcohol later, whether going to a bar, a social event or just kicking back at home; knowing that drinking entails extra calories they might want to skip meals. This is a bad idea. If you go to an event, bar, etc., hungry, you are even more likely to munch on the snacks. Many foods that accompany drinking (peanuts, pretzels, chips) are salty, which can make you thirsty, encouraging you to drink even more. To avoid overdrinking, sip on a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage. Drinking on an empty stomach enhances the negative effects of alcohol. If you’re planning on drinking later, eat a healthy meal first. You will feel better which will stop you from overdrinking.

People on an exercise or healthy eating regime need to watch their calorie intake. If you are going to mix liquor with anything, opt for a diet or club soda instead of fruit juice or regular soda. Sweeter drinks, whether liquor or wine, tend to have more sugar, and therefore more calories. In that respect, dry wines usually have fewer calories than sweet wines. For example, red wine and white wine are about 100 calories per 5-ounce glass. Sweet liquor drinks are about 200 or more per 8-ounce glass. Light beer is about 105 per 12-ounce bottle.

Your health and well-being are very important; therefore, make wise decisions when it comes to thinking about what type of calories you decide to consume and how much. I can’t say enough about WATER and its importance… Keep hydrated!

Revving up your Metabolism

Boosting your metabolism is the secret to losing more weight. What exactly is metabolism? It’s the amount of energy in the form of calories that we burn during the day. Here are some tips to trick your body into burning calories more efficiently and give you a stronger, healthier, leaner new body.

Tip #1: Build muscle mass. As we get older we tend to lose muscle and gain body fat, and our metabolism slows down as a result. One way to combat this metabolic slowdown is with regular strength or resistance training. When you increase your muscle mass, you boost your resting metabolism and that makes your body burn more calories. That’s why I recommend adding strength training to your exercise program. Some examples are using free weights, using weight machines at the gym, and even doing specific calisthenics like push-ups and abdominal exercises. If you’re building strength, you are losing weight.

Tip #2: Get plenty of cardiovascular exercise. There is no getting around it; the biggest burn comes from cardiovascular exercise. That means jogging, hiking, walking, cycling, aerobic classes, jump roping, kickboxing, dancing or using cardio equipment at the gym. Anything to get your heart rate up. Choose whichever you prefer. One is not better than the other.

Tip #3: Snack right. Snacking can help ignite your energy by giving your body a fuel boost. Eating healthy snacks, in palm-sized portions, can help you avoid the overeating syndrome that often leads to weight gain and can leave you feeling lethargic. Be sure to include healthy carbs and proteins in each snack, such as organic peanut butter and banana, hummus and carrots, or an apple with low-fat cheese. The protein/carbohydrate combination will help regulate blood sugar and energy levels and you will feel content.

Tip #4: Always eat breakfast. Want to increase your metabolism? Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast increases your resting metabolism by at least 10 percent and reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes. Make sure it’s a healthy morning with foods such as whole-grain cereal, fruit, egg whites, stone-ground toast, organic peanut butter, fat-free yogurt or granola.

Tip #5: Stop slashing calories. Depriving your body of fuel is a surefire way to slow down your metabolism. When you slash calories, the calories burned by eating are greatly diminished and so is the metabolic rate. Restricting calories also signals the body that there is no food available. The best way to keep your metabolism revved is to eat three small meals with healthy snacks in between to give your body a constant supply of healthy fuel.

If you have a GOAL in life that takes a lot of energy, that requires a lot of work, that incurs a great deal of interest and that is a challenge to you, you will always look forward to waking up to see what the NEW day brings.

Carol A. White, Personal Fitness Specialist

Healthier ways to eat when you’re traveling

When traveling away from home, eating healthy food can be a challenge. Believe it or not, nutrition is pretty basic; you just need to be more organized. Here are some helpful tips for you when you are traveling.

Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can cause fatigue and make you feel just plain lousy. Yes, this will mean more stops and bathroom breaks. Trust me, it will be worth it in the long run. As a special note, alcohol causes dehydration. Drinking alcohol on the plane (or even the night before your trip) is not the wisest course of action. If you do decide to drink, make sure to match every drink with an extra glass of water.

Try eating an extra-healthy meal the night before leaving. Your body will be better prepared to handle the rigors of traveling. Load up on foods you think you might be skimping on during your trip, such as fruits, raw nuts, white meat and veggies (protein and fibrous carbohydrates). Don’t go overboard on the calories; just make sure you’re getting as much out of your meal as you can, nutrient-wise.

We all know that rest area food; fast food and airplane meals aren’t so great. Either they taste horrible, or are so loaded with bad stuff (fat, grease, sodium) that you know you’ll be doing your body a disservice by consuming them. So what can you do? I recommend that you bring some food with you! That doesn’t mean packing an oversized cooler (although you can if you have enough room in your car). It means bringing small, easy to pack, easy to eat, nourishing foods. Items such as raw nuts, fruit, protein bars, granola, string cheese, or raw veggies and fruit are simple snack ides. Individually wrapped items are especially useful when traveling.

It is important not to skip meals. It’s key to eat regularly, every 2-3 hours throughout your day. Try to eat as healthy as you can, just as you would any other day.

Small choices equal long-term results. Take charge of your choices…one bite at a time!