Though we can mentally differentiate between the stress of caring for a sick family member and being stuck in traffic, our bodies can’t easily distinguish between the two and reacts to each with the same fight-or-flight response. Hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released to boost alertness and trigger an increase in heart rate, pulse and muscle tension. This physical response is helpful during certain situations (like escaping a burning building), but it can negatively affect our mood and waistline if it becomes chronic.
Stress depletes the body’s stores of B vitamins, so eating foods high in B vitamins can help replenish those stores. Certain B vitamins, like B6 and folate, have an effect on brain glucose regulation, and are necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, GABA and melatonin, which reduces symptoms of depression and helps improve our psychological response to stress.
Try adding these foods to your plate to reduce the impact of cortisol and stress in the body:
Fish like salmon and mackerel are high in DHA and EPA, which helps to promote healthy brain function and can reduce inflammation. Fatty fish also boasts high concentrations of B vitamins, vitamin D and the antioxidant selenium, which fights oxidative stress.
Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, B vitamins and zinc, all of which play into brain health. Magnesium is involved in more than 600 reactions in the body, including mood and brain function. Deficiencies of magnesium have been linked with depression, which tends to reduce levels of serotonin in the brain and increase the cortisol stress response.
Chia seeds are a top plant-based source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. They can also help keep blood sugar levels stable and are high in magnesium, selenium and many beneficial plant compounds that have been linked to reduced inflammation in the brain and body.
Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats, as well as brain-boosting minerals like folate and magnesium. Additionally, avocados contain vitamins C and E, antioxidants that help counteract oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body. The healthy fats in avocado can also help increase satiety after meals, preventing overeating.
The recommendation to add more greens to your diet can benefit your brain health, too. Greens like spinach, kale, mustard and collard greens, are high in vitamin C, magnesium and plant compounds which help protect your cells from damage.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has a plethora of promising research about its health benefits. While curcumin is linked to lowered anxiety and reduced inflammation, a 2015 review found curcumin also helps increase DHA synthesis in the brain and liver, which can have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and calming effects.
Green tea, and specifically, matcha, contains several antioxidants as well as the amino acid, theanine. Theanine has been linked to calmness and relaxation, and may increase the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
Whole grains, like oats, are high in magnesium, selenium and B vitamins. Additionally, oats are complex carbohydrates, which means they’re digested more slowly, preventing quick spikes of blood sugar that can impact moods and stress.
If you’re new to spring sports, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the gear and lingo that gets thrown around by the more experienced athletes. You may wonder if you really need everything people to talk about, or if it’s OK to start out with a few basics. Nike, UnderArmour, Puma, Reebok, and Adidas all offer spring sports gear. One of the easiest ways to save money on sports equipment is to check online for Adidas deals before heading out to the store or ordering online.
Having a baseball player in the family can be an exciting time, yet it can also be a little confusing when it comes to buying equipment. The biggest question that needs answering is “What equipment is really important to have?” For starters a glove is essential. Baseball cleats are important to prevent injury. A mouth guard would be more for the infield positions. Even if your baseball player isn’t an infielder, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one just in case they were asked to play an infield position. A batting glove is good to have during adverse weather conditions like cold or light rain.
Regardless of your level of play, there are a few essential pieces of lacrosse equipment that every athlete will need in order to be successful. Lacrosse helmets have traditionally only been worn in the men’s game, but women recently introduced a soft version to make the game safer. There’s only one piece of equipment that will touch the ball, and that’s your stick. Players will need shoulder pads to protect them from checks and balls. The fastest game on two feet requires players to cut quickly, so cleats are required if you plan to play on grass or turf. Many players go with mid-level cleats, similar to the models worn in football. All players wear gloves to protect their hands, fingers, and wrists on the field. Mouthguards are required to be worn at all times when you’re on the field and help to prevent concussions.
There are two basic things you will need to buy or borrow for your first tennis game. A tennis racket and tennis balls are essential items you will need. If you have some sports shoes, shirts and shorts you are basically covered in terms of clothing for your first tennis experience. But later on, you will need to buy shoes or shirts for particular court surface or weather conditions.
Shoes are the most important thing (after a tennis racket and balls) in your tennis career. Different surfaces need different shoes for better movement on the court and preventing unintentional slides resulting in injuries.
So if you’re ready to do a fat-burning workout, but don’t can’t go to the gym or studio because of covid-19, there is a way you can do combined cardio and resistance training at home. Try this workout:
Do 10 push-ups or knee push-ups,
Then stand and do 15-20 jumping jacks.
Next to 10 squats or lunges,
Then do 15-20 more jumping jacks.
Next, move on to 10 crunches, again followed by 15-20 jumping jacks.
Finally, pick a set of dumbbells off the floor and lift them overhead up and down a total of ten times, and
Then finish with a final series of 15-20 jumping jacks.
How to Burn Fat Faster
To ensure that reap the greatest fat-burning benefits, remember to also follow these simple rules:
Don’t exercise hungry. A fed body will burn more calories.
Warm up first. Warm muscles will be able to burn more fat.
Use good form. Doing cardio before a resistance exercise makes that exercise more difficult to do properly, so don’t injure yourself. It’s tough to burn fat if you’re laid up on the couch with a thrown out back.
Eat after your workout. Post-workout nutrition will help you build metabolism-boosting fibers of lean muscle.
When Shouldn’t You Combine Cardio and Resistance Training
So when wouldn’t you want to combine cardio with resistance training? If your focus is not to burn fat, but to build strength, you’d be better off doing your resistance training as a separate workout. Similarly, if you’re training for endurance, then you should focus on a high-quality cardio workout that isn’t interrupted by strength training. But if your focus is pure fat loss, then you should absolutely follow the recommendations in this article and combine your weight lifting and cardio in one workout.
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Lunges are a popular strength training exercise among people wanting to strengthen, sculpt, and tone their bodies, while also improving overall fitness and enhancing athletic performance.
This resistance exercise is popular for its ability to strengthen your back, hips, and legs, while improving mobility and stability. Lunges are ideal for those wishing to get stronger and for current athletes, including runners and cyclists.
Continue reading to take a look at the benefits of lunges along with what muscles they target and a few variation options.
Lunges work the large muscle groups in your lower body, which builds leans muscle and reduces body fat. This can increase your resting metabolism, which allows you to burn more calories and trim excess weight.
If you’re looking to lose weight, push yourself to your outer limits by including lunges in a high-intensity circuit training routine using heavy weights.
2. Balance and stability
Lunges are a lower body unilateral exercise since you work on each side of your body independently. The single-leg movements activate your stabilizing muscles to develop balance, coordination, and stability.
Working one leg at a time causes your body to be less stable, which forces your spine and core to work harder to stay balanced.
3. Alignment and symmetry
Lunges are better than bilateral exercises for rehabilitation since they can correct imbalances and misalignments in your body to make it more symmetrical.
If you have one side that’s less strong or flexible, spend a bit of extra time working on this side so you don’t overcompensate or overuse the dominant side.
4. Stand taller
Lunges strengthen your back and core muscles without putting too much stress or strain on your spine. A strong, stable core reduces your chance of injury and improves your posture, making common movements easier.
Side lunges train your body to move side to side, which is a nice change from your body’s normal forward or twisting movements. Plus, side lunges target your quadriceps, hips, and legs at a slightly different angle, thus working them a little differently.
Pay attention to the outsides of your legs and work on activating these muscles as you do these lunges.
7. Walking lunges
To do walking lunges, you’ll need balance and coordination. The walking variation targets your core, hips, and glutes, and improves overall stability. They also increase your range of motion and help to improve your functional everyday movements.
To make walking lunges more difficult, add weights or a torso twist.
8. Reverse lunges
Reverse lunges activate your core, glutes, and hamstrings. They put less stress on your joints and give you a bit more stability in your front leg. This is ideal for people who have knee concerns, difficulty balancing, or less hip mobility.
Reverse lunges allow you to be more balanced as you move backward, changing up the direction from most of your movements and training your muscles to work differently.
9. Twist lunges
You can add a twist to stationary, walking, or reverse lunges to activate your core and glutes more deeply. Twisting lunges also require balance and stability as you twist your torso away from your lower body while maintaining the alignment of your knees.
You’ll also activate the muscles in your ankles and feet.
10. Curtsy lunge
Curtsy lunges are great for strengthening and toning your derrière, which is excellent for your posture. Strong glutes also prevent and relieve back and knee pain, all of which help to improve your athletic performance and lower your risk of injury.
Curtsy lunges also sculpt and strengthen your hip adductors, quadriceps, and hamstrings as well as improve hip stabilization. Use a kettlebell or dumbbell to up the intensity of this variation.
11. Lunges and squats
Lunges and squats both work your lower body and are a valuable addition to your fitness regime. You may favor lunges if you have low back pain since they’re less likely to strain your back. Consider focusing on squats if you feel more stable in this position.
Since this pair of exercises will work your body in similar ways, it’s a matter of personal preference to see if either exercise feels better for your body or brings you the best results. Of course, adding both lunges and squats to your routine is beneficial.
Lunges increase muscle mass to build up strength and tone your body, especially your core, butt, and legs. Improving your appearance isn’t the main benefit of shaping up your body, as you’ll also improve your posture and range of motion.
Lunges are simple, making them accessible to people who want to add them to part of a longer routine or do them for a few minutes at a time throughout the day. You must stay on track and be consistent to maintain your results over time.
If you do lunges regularly as part of a larger fitness routine, you’ll notice results in terms of building muscle mass and shaping up your body. You’ll likely feel the results before they are visible.
You may develop tight, toned, and stronger muscles and start to lower your body fat percentage within a few weeks. More noticeable results may take a few months to develop.
For each lunge variation, do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. If you feel yourself starting to plateau, up the intensity by doing more difficult variations, adding weights, or increasing the amount you do.
Most trendy diets share a list of off-limit foods, which can range from beans and dairy to whole grains and sugar. However, there are some foods considered so nutritious they make practically any approved list. Thinking in those terms can be more helpful for reaching health goals. “Thinking about what you can’t have feels restrictive. But shifting your perspective to what you can add in is a healthier mindset,” says Jill Keene, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer in New York City.
Google anything from keto to Paleo to Mediterranean and the biggest thing you’ll see is a push to focus on fresh, whole foods. “The big-three types of foods that can make up most any diet are lean proteins, healthy fats and vegetables,” says Keene.
Here are six go-to foods you’ll find on any approved list:
The Mediterranean diet is rich in leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, dandelion greens) and for good reason: Not only are they a non-starchy veggie (ideal for very low-carb diets), but they’re full of important vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, A and K, as well as iron.
Whether you’re on a high-, moderate- or low-fat plan, nutritionists advise honing in on healthy fats. Avocado fits the bill, as it’s rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) that are associated with cardiovascular health, says Keene. Plus, it’s a surprisingly rich source of GI-friendly fiber. One half of the fruit packs nearly seven grams.
Salmon is one of the top sources of omega-3’s, fatty acids that benefit the heart by slowing accumulation of plaque that gums up arteries and better lipid profiles and blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. The AHA recommends consuming two fatty-fish meals per week.
People who regularly consume nuts are less likely to gain weight over a five-year period or be overweight or obese, according to a study in the European Journal of Nutrition. Walnuts are particularly special because they contain a type of omega-3 called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). They’re also a good way to eat more fiber and are rich in magnesium, which plays a key role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
In the era of coconut everything, olive oil is an important staple in some of the top-ranked diets including DASH and the Mediterranean diet. Incorporating it in your diet as one of your go-to healthy fats pays off: Research shows people who do so may lose weight and reduce belly fat.
As a source of natural sugar, people remain weary that eating berries may cause weight gain. The reality is that, in moderation, fruit — especially berries — can add a source of satisfying, subtle sweetness to any eating plan. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries are rich in disease-fighting polyphenols and are lower-carb.
Try them as an oatmeal or yogurt topping, snack or dessert. (Source: MyFitnessPal.com)
Few things are more frustrating than seeing little progress after starting a workout routine—and sticking to it—no matter how many gym sessions you log or sweaty laundry loads you do. It’s so frustrating, in fact, that it might even tempt you to quit.
But before you start slacking, know the simple mistakes that could be sabotaging your results—and that you can fix them!
Below are six of the most common workout mistakes people make—and the expert advice you need to get your motivation and progress back on track.
1. Your Goals Are Unrealistic
Set the bar too high and you’re sure to fail. Whether it’s scoring a six-pack in a month or vowing to hit the gym every single day of the week, setting unrealistic goals is probably the number-one way people sabotage themselves, says trainer, yoga teacher, and nutrition coach Kendra Coppey Fitzgerald, C.P.T. When you can’t achieve these unrealistic goals, you’re bound to feel discouraged, which might lead you to give up on your exercise routine altogether.
The Fix: Check in with yourself to make sure your goals are realistic, and adjust if and as needed. Choose a goal you think you can accomplish and then commit to reaching it. So while scoring a six-pack in a month may not be feasible, goals like sticking to a regular workout routine or losing half a pound or so per week are attainable, says trainer and author Jeremy Scott, C.P.T., C.N.S.
Step one is creating a workout schedule that fits your lifestyle. You’re more likely to stay motivated when you have a schedule in place you can really commit to—even if that means squeezing in a quick 15-minute HIIT workout instead of spending an hour at the gym some days.
Then, adding mini fitness goals to your daily routine— such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work—can be really motivating, says Fitzgerald. This way, you’ll be more active—and feel more accomplished—every single day.
2. Your Pre-Workout Snack Game Is Off
What you eat (or don’t eat) before you get your sweat on can make the difference between having a killer workout and feeling like a sloth. Most people make one of two opposite mistakes: either eating too much too close to a workout or not eating enough.
Eat too much and your body doesn’t have time to digest and absorb the nutrients in your food, and you might feel sick to your stomach during your workout, says Fitzgerald. If you don’t eat enough, though, you could feel lightheaded and tired, and be more prone to muscle cramps, adds McCall. Your body relies heavily on glycogen (carbs stored in your muscles) during harder workouts, so if you don’t have enough available your body will turn to other less-ideal energy sources—like protein—and your performance will take a hit.
Another overlooked fuel issue: Not drinking enough water in the hours before a workout. Water comprises the majority of our muscle tissue, so you want to be well-hydrated before you exercise, says Pete McCall, M.S., C.S.C.S., C.P.T., master trainer for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Dehydration can make your body temperature and heart rate rise, which both put extra stress on your body during exercise—so much so that poor pre-workout hydration can actually cut your ability to do high intensity exercise almost in half, according to Sport Nutrition, Second Addition.
The Fix: If you work out first thing in the morning, don’t worry about eating much (if anything) beforehand, since your body still has fuel stashed away from your food you ate the night before, says Fitzgerald. If you’re saving your gym session for later in the day, though, and haven’t had a meal in a few hours, eat something that contains some protein and carbs about an hour beforehand, so you have time to digest. Some of our favorites are toast or a banana with nut butter, a serving of edamame, or Greek yogurt with berries. The carbs will cover your energy needs while the protein will keep your body stocked on the amino acids it needs to support your muscles, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
As for hydration, McCall recommends drinking 16 ounces of water an hour before working out.
And don’t forget to refuel after you work out, too! Nosh on something high in protein and carbs within an hour after you exercise, Fitzgerald recommends. The carbs will restock those energy stores while the protein will help your muscles repair and grow stronger. Fitzgerald’s go-to post-workout snack? Chocolate milk—because it provides protein, carbs and fats.
3. Your Workouts Are Too Repetitive
Yep, there is a such thing as too much routine. Mindlessly run through the same workouts day after day—whether it’s a spin class, weight-lifting session, or any old cardio—and your body will adapt and, eventually, you’ll stop seeing results, according to Fitzgerald. “If your body isn’t being stressed enough, or you’re not putting enough intensity into a workout, your body gets used to it,” Fitzgerald says.
Think of it this way: If a runner jogs at the same pace all the time, they’re not going to get any faster, she says. Bottom line: No matter how much you love a particular workout, it can’t be the only thing you do. And you definitely shouldn’t do it at the same speed or intensity every time.
Plus, doing only cardio—or only strength training—prevents you from developing well-rounded fitness. Cardio helps your heart pump blood (and oxygen and nutrients) throughout your body more efficiently, and helps you ward off cardiovascular issues and chronic conditions like diabetes, according to The Mayo Clinic. Strength training, on the other hand, helps your muscle fibers work more efficiently and grow, boosts your metabolism, supports strong bones, and improves your balance.
Women especially may get stuck in a rut of repetitive cardio-only workouts and miss out on the benefits of strength training because they’re afraid of bulking up, says Scott. But without a balance of cardio and strength training, you’ll likely sabotage your metabolism and even gain fat.
The Fix: Switch up your routine throughout the week to include a balance of cardio, strength training, and stretching (such as yoga), so that you challenge your body in multiple ways, says Fitzgerald.
To keep your cardio and resistance training effective, try alternating between high and low-intensity workouts. This will stimulate your muscles in different ways and give your body time to recover between tough workouts, says McCall. Think track or treadmill sprints versus a nice steady jog, or lifting heavy for just a few reps versus lifting moderate weight for a dozen reps.
From there, switch up the tempo, intensity, or order of your strength-training exercises to keep your workouts challenging, adds Fitzgerald. For example, if you usually do squats before lunges, try swapping them, adding more weight to your squats, or turning bodyweight squats into jump squats. You can also mix up your cardio workouts by cross-training and swapping a run for a spin class or a swim. This will help keep your muscles from plateauing and prevent overuse injuries from doing the same repetitive movements all the time, Fitzgerald says.
4. You Skimp On Warmups And Cooldowns
Your workouts are key to making continuous fitness gains—but what you do before and after them matters, too. Let’s start with warming up: If you jump right into a high-intensity workout without prepping your body, you put yourself at greater risk for injuries like pulled and strained muscles, according to Scott. And the same goes if you run out of the gym before properly cooling down, says McCall. During a hard workout, your muscles produce waste your body needs to clear out of its system—and your cooldown and post-workout stretch give it the opportunity to do so, he says. Skimping on that cooldown can delay your recovery process and leave you sore.
The Fix: Spend at least 10 minutes warming up before a workout, Scott recommends. Perform simple moves like lunges, arm circles, toe touches, and hip swings, which get your whole body moving and start to boost your heartrate.
Then, spend about 10 minutes stretching and foam rolling after nailing your sweat session. Stretch all of your major muscle groups for 30 seconds each, and pay special attention to your hip flexors, calves, and hamstrings, McCall recommends. Using a foam roller to massage out your muscles can also help relieve tension and boost recovery, says Fitzgerald. In fact, a review published in Current Sports Medicine Reports found that foam rolling after strength training decreased participants’ soreness later on.
5. You Don’t Take Rest Days
This one might come as a bit of a surprise, but to see results from your workouts you have to rest. Remember that glycogen we talked about earlier? Your body needs time to replenish the stores it used up during your workout, says McCall. If you continue to push yourself on an empty tank, you’ll just feel fatigued and under-perform.
Without solid glycogen stores, your body may turn to protein for fuel—and that’s the opposite of what you want! Your body needs protein to repair damaged muscle tissue and help your muscles continue to grow, so running off protein leaves you more prone to soreness and injury, he says. If necessary, your body will even pull that protein from your muscle tissue and your workouts can actually break down some muscle instead of build it up. And because muscle supports your strength and burns a lot of calories, this is bad news for your overall fitness and your metabolism.
The Fix: Fitzgerald suggests taking a rest day after two or three workout days—especially if any of those workouts were high-intensity (which puts extra stress on your body). Make the most of rest days by foam rolling and stretching to help sore muscles recover, she says.
It’s normal for soreness from a workout to last a day or so, but if you’re still feeling it after a few days, consider it a sign that you’re overdoing it on exercise and putting yourself at risk for injury, McCall says.
4 Common Weight-Loss Pitfalls That Lead to Weight Gain
Congratulations: You worked hard to hit your goal weight and you made it.
However, maintaining weight loss might be harder than you think. Research presented at The Endocrine Society’s annual conference found just 14% of those who lost moderate amounts of weight (defined as 10–15% of their original body mass index) maintained their weight loss; among those who lost less than 10% of their original BMI, only 23% maintained their weight loss.
Instead of letting months (or years) of hard work disappear in a haze of skipped workouts and sweet-tasting rewards, beware of these common pitfalls that could cause you to regain weight:
FOLLOWING A FAD DIET
The promise of quick weight loss might make it seem worthwhile to consume nothing but low-calorie shakes or cabbage soup. Chelsea Cross, RD, a dietitian with Dietetic Directions warns you might lose a lot of weight on a fad diet but dramatic calorie restriction is impossible to maintain long-term.
“Any plan that restricts a large food group simply because it’s off limits or too high in calories … is not something that can be stuck to,” Cross says. “You’ll eventually eat those forbidden foods and, because of the deprivation, will overeat them.”
Instead of adopting a fad diet or prioritizing quick weight loss, Cross suggests setting realistic weight-loss goals; eating a balanced diet that includes all of the food groups; and focusing on changing your lifestyle, not just your diet. These strategies, she says, help you achieve long-term, sustainable weight loss.
Whether you showed up for boot camp at the crack of dawn, squeezed in a run on your lunch hour or invested in a personal trainer to keep you motivated, the hard work paid off.
Once you hit your weight-loss goal, you might think you deserve a break from those high-intensity sweat sessions, but skipping workouts is a bad idea. Taking a two-week break from your exercise routine significantly reduces cardiovascular fitness and lean muscle mass, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
Anthony J. Wall, MS, a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise, notes that skipping workouts may make it harder to get back into an exercise routine.
STICKING TO THE SAME WORKOUT PROGRAM
Running the same 3-mile route or choosing the same settings on the elliptical trainer might have helped you shed unwanted pounds, but continuing with the same workout is going to make it difficult to maintain your weight loss. After you lose weight, you need to switch up your workouts, says Wall.
“When you follow a consistent exercise program, your body gets more efficient and you stop [burning as many calories],” he explains. “You have to take the intensity up a notch if you want to maintain your weight loss.”
Changing the number of repetitions in your strength-training program, adding high-intensity interval training to your cardio workout or checking out new classes like Pilates and aerial yoga instead of showing up for the same Zumba class each week ensures you don’t see the weight you lost start creeping back on.4
HAVING TROUBLE SLEEPING
If you struggle with sleeplessness, it might be harder to maintain weight loss. Sleeping less than six hours per night was associated with higher rates of obesity; and additional research found shorter amounts of sleep were linked to larger waistlines.
“Insufficient sleep can disrupt hormonal levels that are responsible for feelings of hunger and fullness,” explains Natalie Dautovich, PhD, National Sleep Foundation Environmental Scholar and assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The more time you spend awake, the more opportunities you have to eat — and you’re more apt to reach for high-calorie snack foods than fruits and vegetables when you’re exhausted, Dautovich says.
To maintain weight loss, aim for 7–9 hours of sleep per night. You can increase the odds of getting a good night’s rest by sticking to regular sleep/wake times and going to bed in a cool, dark environment.
Keeping the number on the scale from creeping up takes some work, but the effort will be worth it when your favorite jeans continue to fit like a glove.
If you’re diabetic, have prediabetes, or are simply worried about your sugar intake, you may be overlooking a certain mainstay in your cupboards.
White rice is a food typically considered a staple in most diets; this is certainly true of American culture, but even more true among Asian demographics. With this in mind, it may come as a surprise that white rice in large doses can increase the risk for diabetes.
This understanding explains why diabetic rates are higher in Asians than other populations. Contrary to previous theories, it’s not a matter of genetics, but the levels of starch found in white rice. In such large amounts, starch can flood the body with blood sugar, thereby increasing diabetic risk. How much of a risk are we talking? Well, according to Zee Yoon Kang, chief executive of the Health Promotion Board, when white rice is eaten daily, it can increase the risk of developing diabetes by up to 11%.
Concerned? That’s understandable. Here are some other things to consider:
On average, one bowl of rice has about double the level of carbohydrates of a can of soda. All of this excess sugar can put a strain on the pancreas; this is because the pancreas, by means of insulin production, converts the sugar in our blood into usable energy. Certain foods, white rice among them, cause problems then by dumping too much sugar into the blood at one time. When there is too much sugar in the blood, the event is referred to as a ‘sugar spike’. Sugar spikes are bad for the body because they overtax the pancreas, which makes it less effective in the future. What this means is over time, the pancreas gets weaker and weaker, which limits its ability to generate insulin. This means sugar levels in the body steadily rise as a result.
Excess sugar leads to kidney damage, and kidney damage leads to diabetes. So, put simply, too much starch in white rice leads to too much sugar in the blood, followed by organ damage and diabetic complications.
There are other factors that tend to contribute to diabetes. For example, a higher body mass index plays a part, and to a degree, genetics and family history do as well. As for the role that white rice plays in this, it, and other refined carbohydrate foods come packed with loads of extra sugar. Fortunately, the solution is simple: eat brown rice! Studies show that even replacing as little as 20% of the white rice you consume with brown rice can cut diabetic risk. Furthermore, brown rice, as well as other varieties of rice, simply packs more of a nutritional punch than typical white rice anyway.
If you’re dead set on keeping white rice in your diet, that’s okay. Just be sure to eat it in moderation. A good time to consume white rice is immediately after a workout. Post workout, your body will be seeking to quickly recover energy, and so the quick energy of white rice will be immediately broken down for the body’s use.
Another problem with rice (all rice) that is recently becoming more prevalent is the presence of arsenic in rice. Arsenic, typically known as a substance toxic to humans, does occur naturally in the environment, usually bonded to some other compound. It is found in rocks and ends up in water as well, which means it ends up in plants, and therefore, in our food. Normally, this is of little concern, because arsenic only appears in small amounts. However, human activity and pollution (pesticides, herbicides) have greatly increased the level of inorganic arsenic in the environment. Given the ability of rice to take in so much water, it comes as little surprise that high levels of arsenic can end up in rice as a result.
Arsenic is deadly to humans, particularly children. It can cause a number of harmful effects, including factors that contribute to heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and narrowed or blocked blood vessels. It can also hinder cognitive development.
While the level of arsenic in rice is increasing, fortunately, for the time being, it is not a serious health concern, according to the FDA, which as establish various levels at which arsenic becomes harmful. If this is cold comfort, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself:
Washing and/or soaking rice in water can remove some of the arsenic. The same goes for using lots of water during cooking. Furthermore, different varieties of rice, such as basmati and jasmine rice, typically harbor less arsenic than white or brown rice. In general, when it comes to healthy eating, and therefore healthy living, do your best to buy organic, non-chemically treated products, clean and prepare them properly, and consume a wide variety of food, rather than too much of any one thing. Remember, healthy eating is healthy living.
Many Asians consume refined carbs, such as noodles and rice. These foods come with a lot of sugar. What’s even worse is that if you have a high body mass index, your diabetes risk increases the more you eat white rice.
Thankfully, there are ways to combat this risk increase and among them is to replace 20% of white rice consumption with brown rice. By simply doing so, you cut your risk by up to 16%.
Sandwiches are a lunchtime staple and it’s easy to make healthy high-protein versions of your favorites, like turkey or steak. However, deli meat often gets a bad rap for being highly processed (which ups the sodium content). Still, “cold cuts can definitely fit into a well-balanced diet, but the frequency may depend on the type,” says Keri Gans, RD, author of “The Small Change Diet.”
Here, a look at how different cold cuts compare nutritionally, why sodium content matters and how to make a healthy sandwich that helps you reach your health goals.
As you can see, turkey, ham and roast beef run pretty similar in terms of calories, fat and sodium. It’s salami that is markedly higher in fat (including saturated fat) and sodium.
THE SODIUM DILEMMA
“The problem with many deli meats is they are very high in sodium, and for salt-sensitive individuals, this may increase their risk for high blood pressure and heart disease,” says Gans. Even if you’re not particularly worried about salt, think about how you feel after eating a sandwich packed with cold cuts. “For some people, very high-sodium foods can cause bloating, which leads to GI discomfort,” she adds.
Cold cuts are among the top 10 sources of sodium in the American diet, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consider that the recommendations are to limit your sodium intake to 2,300mg per day. If you’re eating a sandwich with bread, deli meat, cheese and mustard, you may get 1,500mg of sodium in a single meal, says the CDC — and that’s before sides like chips and a pickle.
ARE PRESERVATIVES A PROBLEM?
Deli meat often contains nitrates or nitrites, which are added as preservatives to keep slices fresh. A report from the American Institute of Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund says there’s evidence consuming processed meats daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer. It’s less clear, however, if it’s the nitrates specifically or because of other factors such as lifestyle. “More research is needed, but, in moderation, deli meat is safe,” says Gans.
TIPS FOR EATING DELI MEAT
If you eat a lot of deli meat, look for those free of added nitrates or nitrites. Applegate is one example; major brands also have lines free of these preservatives, says Gans.
Most people should also opt for cold cuts that are lower in sodium (you can look for low-sodium or reduced-sodium on the label). If you have a sandwich, it’s also a good idea to cut back on saltier foods for the remainder of the day.
Choose wisely: “Turkey, ham or roast beef are better choices than salami, bologna or pastrami, because they are lower in sodium, calories and fat,” says Gans. “Fresh roasted” is another buzzword to look for at the deli counter, she says. “These may include fewer preservatives, and thus, less sodium.”
HOW TO BUILD A HEALTHY SANDWICH
Gans advises using four slices of deli meat, max. “Build bulk by adding veggies, not more meat,” she says. Along with the standard lettuce and tomato, consider piling on cucumbers or sliced carrots for crunch or using grilled veggies as toppings. Avocado or hummus can replace mayo or cheese as a spread, which adds healthy monounsaturated fats.
You can also cut down on sodium by using one piece of bread and making it open-faced. Or, try placing a couple pieces of turkey between two slices of bell peppers as the “bread,” or roll it up in hearty greens like kale or collards.