I had a discussion today about baked potatoes. I’ve always had them and love eating them. But my friend had the following to say:
'I never eat them because they are fattening and bad for you.'
One medium-sized plain baked potato (about three inches in diameter) has about 150 calories. That same potato has about five grams of fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive tract. They’re also a healthy source of vitamins and minerals. A small baked potato, about two inches in diameter has about 130 calories. A large baked potato has about three and one-half to four inches in diameter can have about 275 calories.
Baked potatoes contain more potassium than any other fresh vegetable in the produce department – even more than bananas. One potato has almost 900 milligrams, which is about 20 percent of what you need every day. Potassium is important for body growth and cell maintenance. It’s also necessary for nervous function and for normal muscle contraction – including the heart muscle.
Potassium is also an electrolyte that helps to balance the fluids in your body, which is important for healthy blood pressure.
Baked potatoes also contain substantial amounts of vitamins C and B6, which are vital for blood clotting, wound healing, a strong immune system, normal nervous system function and for converting the food you eat to energy. There’s also a substance called kukoamine found in potatoes that may help to lower blood pressure, although more research is necessary to know for sure.
Potatoes are nutritious and can be part of a healthy diet, but you still need to get adequate amounts of fats and proteins while staying within your personal calorie budget.
Toppings such as butter, sour cream and cheese will add considerably more calories.
This is probably where people get the impression that baked potatoes are bad for you, because most people don’t eat them plain. Sure, if you load them up with butter, sour cream and cheeses, well of course they can be bad. You load up anything with high fat toppings like butter, sour cream and cheeses and it can be bad for you.
The trick here is to minimize and/or use low-fat versions of the toppings. I personally love to eat them with just A-1 Steak Sauce, which is of course low-calorie.
You’ve been cutting down on fat, controlling carbs and exercising five days a week. So why aren’t you losing weight? From physical factors (age and genetics) to self-sabotage (eating mindlessly), here are 10 things that will derail your weight loss goals.
You’re no slacker when it comes to your health: You exercise, watch what you eat, use portion control, and can resist Ben & Jerry’s without a problem. Yet the scale needle still won’t budge.
Why are so many dieters destined to regain lost weight or never lose anything at all?
Here are 10 reasons your body isn’t behaving:
1. You don’t have enough muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Fat and muscle tissues consume calories all day long whether you’re running, reading or sleeping. No matter what you’re doing, muscle rips through more calories than fat. That's why men typically burn calories a lot faster than women; they have more muscle. What to do: Lift weights. You don’t have to get huge, but building and maintaining muscle week after week, year after year makes a difference in the long run. Alternate between strength exercises and heart rate-raising cardio in each session. This way, the strength training includes the calorie-burning effect of cardio. Win-Win! 2. Genetics: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If both parents are obese, you are much more likely to be obese, says Jill Comess, M.S., R.D., food science and nutrition program director at Norfolk State University in Virginia. “Researchers estimate that your genes account for at least 50% - and as much as 90% - of your stored body fat,” she says. What to do: You’re not doomed. Your weight-loss challenge is just 10%-50% greater. “Losing even just a few pounds makes you healthier and less likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer,” Comess says. “So you don’t have to be super-slim to improve your health.” If an overweight woman loses even 5%-10% of her total body weight, she has a greater chance of reducing or getting off her high blood pressure or other meds, she adds. 3. You’re getting older. A sluggish metabolism is a common aging problem. And we encourage it by sitting in traffic, long hours at the office and in front of computers. All this inactivity means we gradually lose muscle and increase body fat, resulting in a metabolic slump. But it’s not unbeatable. What to do: First, lift weights. But don’t underestimate the power of just moving. You faithfully walk the treadmill for an hour each day or go to yoga class, but what are you doing the other 23 hours? It’s a no-brainer: Cutting the grass, playing with the kids, walking the dogs and even just cooking dinner burn more calories than just sitting on your bum watching TV, emailing your co-worker or driving to the pizza joint. Thin people fidget and move (called non-exercise activity) more than obese people, research shows. In fact, such antsy behavior might burn as much as 350 more calories per day – the equivalent of two doughnuts. 4. Your body can’t keep up. To survive in the days before supermarkets, your body evolved some complex starvation-coping strategies. Now that food isn’t scarce, these processes can work against us, explains Jim Anderson, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Medicine and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Kentucky. “The intestines make about two dozen hormones – some that stimulate eating and others that decrease the need to eat,” he says. The sophisticated hormonal response can’t cope with our sedentary lifestyle and all those tempting Twinkies, potato chips and frozen dinners we gobble, he says. So it’s harder to maintain ideal body weight. What to do: You can’t fight evolution, so you have to focus extra-hard on those things you can. Be active every day and fill up on low-calorie foods, such as broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, green beans and other non-starchy vegetables. 5. Your medicine cabinet is to blame. A host of drugs that treat diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, inflammatory disease and more affect weight regulation. Some will make you hungrier and others stimulate your body to store fat. And if a drug affects the brain, there’s a good chance it affects weight, Anderson says. What to do: Ask your health care provider if an alternate drug or a lower dose could work, but don’t change your medications without discussing it first. 6. You underestimate portions and calories. Even dietitians underestimate calories – and by huge amounts! One study found that women and overweight people miscalculate more than others. Other studies suggest that the greatest underestimating occurs when the meals are the largest, and that it doesn’t have anything to do with how fat someone is. What to do: Follow the portion guidelines at mypyramid.gov for several days. Use measuring spoons, measuring cups and a food scale to guide you. Then plug-in your food choices on that site or another reputable one to calculate your calorie intake. And read every food label for serving size and calories. 7. You eat mindlessly or when distracted. Do you eat dinner in front of the TV? Do you stop eating when you’re full or when the show is over? All too often, such distraction leads to more and more mouthfuls of pasta or potatoes. If you’re munching from a bag of chips or a box of crackers, you can’t keep track of how much you’ve eaten. And plenty of dieters report they didn’t even realize they had snacked from the candy bowl or nibbled from a child’s plate until it was too late. What to do: Make it a house rule to eat from a dish. Always. No bags, cartons or fistfuls. Put it in a dish, sit down and savor the taste as you eat – without distraction. 8. You deprive yourself. Your list of can’t-have foods is so long, it rivals the nation’s tally of foreclosed homes. In fact, you’ve been so strict with yourself, you can’t remember the last time you ate a doughnut, candy bar or slice of pizza. Then - like so many times before - you give in, scarf down something taboo, and now you’re mad at yourself. So what the heck, you think: You’ll just eat everything on your forbidden list to get it out of your system. You’ll start your diet over again tomorrow – or next week. Problem is, you can’t get it out of your system. It just doesn’t work that way. What to do: No more setting yourself up for feeling deprived. In fact, no more dieting. Take the focus away from that list of bad foods and emphasize those that are good for you. If 90% of the time you eat a wholesome diet of ample fruits and vegetables, some whole grains, lean meats or other sources of protein, then the other 10% doesn’t really matter. So enjoy that glazed doughnut – but just one. If you want another, it will still be there tomorrow. After all, doughnuts or candy bars or pizza or whatever won’t drop off the face of the earth. 9. You’re usually good, but… You always watch your portions. You start every morning with a healthful breakfast and eat only baked chicken, not fried. Always that is, unless you’re on vacation or dining out. Or celebrating a birthday. Or sharing an anniversary. Or honoring your son’s first home run. Or watching the ball game with friends. Consistency is key to dropping pounds. Researchers involved with the National Weight Control Registry found that those who eat similarly day after day are more likely to maintain weight loss than others. One splurge meal in a restaurant can easily undo all the small calorie-saving tricks you employed the whole week before. Derail yourself every week and you’ll never get anywhere. What to do: Again, stop dieting and start making small changes you can live with. Find ways to celebrate that don’t involve high-calorie eating or take half of that restaurant meal home to celebrate again tomorrow. 10. You overestimate your calorie burn. Gym machines are notorious for overestimating the calories burned by exercisers, and dieters can easily out-eat their workouts. Your 30-minute power walk might burn 200 calories, but that won’t make up for your after-exercise power smoothie. What to do: Exercise is an important tool in controlling your weight and maintaining good health, but stop rewarding your good work with food. If you’re tempted to follow a sweat session with a smoothie or muffin, consider these numbers first: Food and Calories / Activity and The Time to Burn Those Calories (based on average 180-pound person) Food: Medium nonfat latte and blueberry muffin Calories: 605 Walking 3.0 mph (20-minute mile), 2 hours, 14 minutes Walking 4.0 mph (15-minute mile), 1 hour, 29 minutes Food: Large bagel with cream cheeseCalories: 430 Jogging 5.2 mph (11.5-minute mile), 35 minutes Aerobic dancing, low impact, 63 minutes Food: 22-ounce strawberry smoothie with artificial sweetener Calories: 250 Weight training, light, 61 minutes Circuit training (includes aerobic activity), 23 minutes Food: Fast food sausage and egg biscuit Calories: 500 Yard Work, 92 minutes Cleaning Out Garage, heavy, 2 hours, 2 minutes
So be smart and don’t derail you weight-loss goals!
This morning I had a discussion with a co-worker about eating eggs for breakfast. He complained that he isn’t getting enough daily protein.
My first suggestion to him was to eat some eggs for breakfast instead of his usual health bar. Not only is the bar he eats low in protein, but it’s really high in sugars and saturated fats. I indicated that eating two large eggs for breakfast either scrambled with no butter or hard-boiled would give him a better boost in protein and would actually be better for him overall.
His response was: ‘No way! Eggs are bad for you! They give you really high cholesterol levels!’
Now I had to take exception to this statement, because I’ve actually done a little research on this particular topic.
Here’s a sampling of one report that I read:
Cracking the Cholesterol Myth More than 40 Years of Research Supports the Role of Eggs in a Healthy Diet Many Americans have shied away from eggs – despite their taste, value, convenience and nutrition – for fear of dietary cholesterol. However, more than 40 years of research have shown that healthy adults can eat eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease. And now, according to new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition data (1) , eggs are lower in cholesterol than previously recorded. The USDA recently reviewed the nutrient composition of standard large eggs and results show the average amount of cholesterol in one large egg is 185 mg, a 14 percent decrease. The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of Vitamin D, an increase of 64 percent. Studies demonstrate that healthy adults can enjoy an egg a day without increasing their risk for heart disease, particularly if individuals opt for low cholesterol foods throughout the day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association recommend that individuals consume, on average, less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. A single large egg contains 185 mg cholesterol. Several international health promotion organizations – including Health Canada, the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Australian Heart Foundation and the Irish Heart Foundation – promote eggs as part of a heart-healthy diet, recognizing that they make important nutritional contributions. (2) REFERENCES (1) In 2010, a random sample of regular large shell eggs was collected from locations across the country to analyze the nutrient content of eggs. The testing procedure was last completed with eggs in 2002, and while most nutrients remained similar to those values, cholesterol decreased by 12% and vitamin D increased by 56% from 2002 values. (2) Klein CJ. The scientific evidence and approach taken to establish guidelines for cholesterol intake in Australia, Canada, The United Kingdom, and The United States. LSRO. 2006 www.lsro.org. Accessed November 2006.
Here is another article that talks about specifically about cholesterol:
Cholesterol First, one has to understand that cholesterol is not necessarily bad. Humans need it to maintain cell walls, insulate nerve fibers and produced vitamin D, among other things. Second, there are two types of cholesterol: dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol . Both are important. Dietary cholesterol is found in certain foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. The second type (blood cholesterol, also called serum cholesterol) is produced in the liver and floats around in our bloodstream. Blood cholesterol is divided into two sub-categories: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL). LDL cholesterol is considered bad because it sticks to artery walls. What is bad, however, is the amount of LDL blood cholesterol in the body. Too much of it can cause heart problems, but scientists are now discovering that consuming food rich in dietary cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol. Evidence showing that eating a lot of dietary cholesterol doesn't increase blood cholesterol was discovered during a statistical analysis conducted over 25 years by Dr. Wanda Howell and colleagues at the University of Arizona. The study revealed that people who consume two eggs each day with low-fat diets do not show signs of increased blood cholesterol levels. So what does raise blood cholesterol? One of the main theories is that saturated fat does. Of the three types of fat (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and LDL levels. It so happens that eggs contain mostly polyunsaturated fat, which can actually lower blood cholesterol if one replaces food containing saturated fat with eggs.
Bottom line: Eggs are a great source of protein and are much lower in dietary cholesterol that most people know. If you happen to have high cholesterol levels, be sure to talk to your doctor about eating eggs before you decide to remove them from your diet completely.
I like the idea of this trainer but the execution isn’t the greatest. Here’s a summary of what I’ve found over the last few weeks:
First, the menu system is real sensitive and makes jumping through the menus quickly a difficult task. The only saving grace for the menus is the voice response. You can say ‘Trainer’ and have a menu pop up to pick one of the options. This takes a bit to navigate things, but it’s still quicker than the hand motion menu that’s used for everything else.
I’ve also had issues with saving my workouts. Not sure what the issue is here, but sometimes its saves the data and sometimes it doesn’t. Makes trying to follow a set schedule difficult, when it says that you missed a day but really did do it! I’ve heard that I’m not the only one to encounter this bug. Don’t know if there is a DLC patch for this yet or not, but I’ll check it out at some point.
The exercise selections are pretty good and the execution of them is relatively OK, but the trainers say darn near the same motivation expressions constantly. I almost have to turn the volume off just to get through the workout!
Overall, once you get things working correctly and as long as you don’t care about saving the workouts, it’s a decent enough trainer. I would recommend that anyone wanting to give it shot borrow or rent it before buying though.
If you happen to be overweight and want to lose some poundage, here are 20 tips that can help you on your journey:
1. Have a Plan:
There’s a saying: ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ Have a realistic goal and set specific targets. You should have at least two areas of your plan, Nutrition and Fitness. Determine how many calories you should consume daily and also come up with a fitness plan that works with your schedule.
2. Sleep More:
Sleep does more than help your body recover from a long day — it actually helps you fight fat. In fact, researchers at the University of Chicago reported that sleeping less than 7 to 8 hours can increase your appetite (forcing you to overeat), slow your metabolism (causing you to burn fewer calories) and make the body retain more abdominal fat. Need another reason to sleep more? Lack of shut-eye is also associated with bad workouts. Do yourself a favor and get some rest. Your body will thank you.
3. Cut Out Snacks:
Yes, some people benefit from eating four to six meals per day and enjoying snacks. But researchers from Purdue University found that the snacking method could be sabotaging your efforts. That’s because the average snack has increased by 200 calories over the last 30 years to nearly 600 calories. If you have trouble with portion sizes, reduce the number of meals you eat.
4. Create and Use a Daily Food Log:
Part one of the energy equation is to simply restrict your fuel intake. But unfortunately, most people do very badly with this. Research has shown that most people grossly underestimate how much they are eating, sometimes by up to 50 percent! There are a number of ways you can track what you are eating, such as using LoseIt!, but whatever system you use the key is consistency and accuracy.
5. Get Active and Move:
This is, essentially, the second half of the equation – the calories-out side. Unfortunately, most people struggle with this process. In today’s society we are largely sedentary: We travel in cars, we work in front of computers all day and we relax in front of the television. Add incidental exercise (like talking the stairs or tapping your foot) in addition to formal activity (such as playing sports, lifting weights, running) to see the greatest benefits.
6. Remove Liquid Calories:
You want the truth: America has a love affair with drinks! There are different drinks for just about everything. 65 percent of Americans drink beverages that are heavy in calories. Not only are these drinks less likely to keep you full, thus leaving you hungry, they are oftentimes loaded with sugar.
7. Plan a Cheat Day:
Going on a diet is tough on you, both mentally and physically. That’s why a cheat day is a frequent part of many successful diet plans. This splurge can provide you with the break from your restrictive habits that will keep you satisfied while still losing weight.
8. Lift Heavy Weights:
Whether you’re a man or a woman, the fastest way to burn fat faster is by lifting heavy weights. Not only do heavier weights activate more muscle fibers, they also increase your resting metabolism. In other words, when you lift heavy weights, you continue to burn calories at a higher rate, even when you’re doing nothing!
9. Make Yourself Accountable:
Surround yourself with tools to help you with your journey. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Join an online community. Let people know your goals and ask for their support in helping you achieving them. The more supported you are, the better.
10. Add Workout Variety:
For a high-impact workout that will kick up your metabolism in a short amount of time, try alternating cardio and resistance training in a circuit. For example, start with 5 minutes of cardio (treadmill, bike, elliptical) immediately followed by a dumbbell circuit of cleans, cleans and press, lunges, military presses and bent over rows, where each exercise is performed for eight repetitions. This entire circuit can be repeated two to three times.
11. Practice Carb Swapping:
Carb swapping is one of the easiest (and fastest) ways to jump-start weight loss. Replace foods like pasta, rice and bread with fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables have fewer calories and carbohydrates than their processed counterparts. That means you can eat more total food without adding weight.
12. Use Simple Tools:
You don't need to get on one of those fancy elliptical machines or treadmills. A $10 jump rope is highly effective as part of your warm-up, and as a way to get good-quality intensity into your workout. Stay light on your feet and control your breathing as you try to hit 50 jumps, 100 jumps or more without a mess up.
13. Rest Less During Exercise:
There are many essential variables that must be managed when structuring your workout, one of them being rest. The rest periods you take between exercises can be modified to elicit a fat burning effect. By shortening the time you take between exercises to as little as 10 to 30 seconds, you can increase your resting metabolism and the intensity of your workout.
14. Try Combination Exercises:
Linking two to three different exercises together into a chain of movements is a great way to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. This is the key to improving your workout efficiency and positively impacting your fat loss goals. Combos like linking a pushup and a burpee into a pull-up are an amazing example of this technique.
15. Eat More Fat:
Did you know that the Institute of Medicine recommends that a diet be made up of 25 to 35 percent fat? Turns out, high-fat foods like nuts, avocados and healthy oils can help you lose fat faster than other diet approaches. Just make sure you figure out how much fat you need in your diet to prevent yourself from overeating. And, as always, avoid the trans fats. They’re still not healthy.
16. Eat More Protein:
Protein helps you maintain lean body mass (muscle, not fat), and increase the thermic effect of your diet. That is, protein requires more energy for your body to process than carbohydrates or fat. This can subtly contribute to the calories-out side of the energy equation. As a bonus, eating protein keeps you fuller longer, and researchers have shown that it can reduce how much you eat per day by hundreds of calories.
17. Become a Heavy Drinker:
No I’m not talking about alcohol. While there’s nothing magical about water, the process of consuming lots of liquid can trick you into feeling less hungry. What’s more, when you’re dehydrated you burn 2 percent fewer calories per day, says University of Utah researchers. So if you struggle to control your appetite, drink up before your meal. Then drink some more. You’ll be more likely to fight off fat.
18. Drink Whey Protein:
Your diet should primarily consist of whole-food sources like meats, veggies, fruits and nuts. However, research published in the Journal of Nutrition found those who consume whey-protein shakes lost almost twice as much fat as those who didn’t have the shakes. Magic? Hardly. The protein in shakes isn’t any more effective than protein found in solid meals. However, most people don’t get enough protein in their diets, and the shakes are a convenient way to meet your body’s needs, suggest the researchers. This is especially true in my case, for try as I might, I can never seem to get enough protein. Adding a protein shake is a great way to boost your protein intake! Just be sure to account for the added calories that come with the shakes!
19. Be Patient and Give Yourself Time:
You didn’t gain weight overnight, so you will not take it off overnight either. Give yourself time and know that the weight will come off if you stick to your plan.
20. Weigh Yourself Daily and Use a Trending Average:
Be sure to weigh in daily and store your weight in a log, like The Hackers Diet. Also, be sure to focus on the trending data rather than the day-to-day weight fluctuations. This helps to minimize the frustration so many dieters feel when their daily weight goes up and down randomly. If this sounds confusing, stop over and give The Hackers Diet a read. It explains this approach in great detail!