HEALTH / FITNESS
Information about fitness, health, nutrition and weight loss
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In this Section....
- December Recipes
- Exercise Videos
- What Makes a Healthy Protein So Healthy?
December Recipes - Click Here
It's Christmas again (already???) and there is no other time like this to get together with friends and family and have a great holiday feast. Since we made turkey last month let's switch things up and make a traditional English roast beef dinner. And don't forget to leave the cookies and milk for Santa - we've got the recipes for those too!!! Merry Christmas to everyone and happy celebrating!!!!
We'd love to feature one of your favorite recipes in any one of our monthly issues, just send them on to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from all of you in the following months!
Exercise Videos - Click Here
In previous issues we have featured simple exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home and without buying fancy expensive equipment. You can view these videos on our Youtube channel.
What Makes a Healthy Protein So Healthy?
There are three nutrients in nutrition known as fats, carbohydrates and protein. You will easily find all three of these nutrients in your diet every day, but not always the healthiest versions. You might already have a good idea about what a good carbohydrate is (complex carbohydrate with lots of fiber) verses a bad carbohydrate (table sugar or high fructose corn syrup). And bad fats (saturated fats and trans fats) verses good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats).
So what makes a protein a good protein? Unlike fats or carbohydrates, which can be good for you or bad for you based on their natural biochemistry, all dietary proteins are about equal. The quality of a protein mostly depends on how the food is prepared or what fats naturally accompany the protein.
It may help to understand a little protein biochemistry first. Proteins are made of different combinations of 20 tiny building blocks called amino acids. Of those 20 amino acids, your body makes 11 of them. The other nine amino acids need to come directly from your diet, so they are called essential amino acids. When you eat, your digestive system breaks down the proteins into the individual amino acids, absorbs them, and your body uses them to make new proteins that you need for muscles, organs and components of your immune system.
Complete and Incomplete Proteins
All proteins that come from animals are called complete proteins because they contain some combination of all nine essential amino acids. Plant-based foods, except soy, are called incomplete proteins because not all amino acids are present in each type of plant. Soy is actually a complete protein. If you eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products or soy, you will easily get all the amino acids you need every day. If you are vegans, you need to eat a variety of plants to be sure you get all of the amino acids you need.
Making Good Protein Choices
All animal products contain a large amount of protein and some plant foods such as legumes, nuts and seeds, do as well. Fruits and vegetables generally donâ€™t have as much protein, but they still contribute to your overall protein intake. Most of us only need 50 to 70 grams of protein every day, which is about what you would find in eight ounces of beef. It really isnâ€™t difficult to get all of the protein you need each day -- the difficult part is choosing the healthiest protein sources.
When you choose your proteins, you need to think about how the protein source is prepared or what fats are naturally found with that protein. Fish, like salmon or tuna, is a terrific protein source because the fats that accompany the proteins are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for good health and often deficient in western diets.
An example of a poor protein choice would be a chicken-fried steak. Steak, as a red meat, has a large amount of artery-clogging saturated fats and the style of cooking (breaded, fried and drenched in gravy) adds more unhealthy fats and extra calories.
Here are some tips for choosing healthy protein sources:
- Drink low- or non-fat milk, which provides plenty of calcium along with the protein.
- Roast, bake or grill meats, poultry and fish so that you don't need to add extra fats.
- Choose lean red meats to decrease the amount of saturated fats.
- Try a vegetarian main course once or twice a week.
- Donâ€™t fry fish, it just adds extra fat and calories.
- Enjoy a handful of nuts as a snack â€“- nuts contain healthy fats as well as protein.
- Buy poultry and remove the skin and fat, or pick out a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
- Eating on the run? Choose a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a breaded chicken sandwich or greasy burger.
- Stay away from processed, high fat lunch meats, hot dogs and sausage.
A lot of people have been feeling the effects of shorter days and less energy. One of the main complaints I've heard recently is: "I haven't been exercising as much." This may be due to fatigue, pain, or certain exercise programs winding down for December. I wanted to touch upon the concept of "N.E.A.T." again...the concept of Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is actually well-studied, and this simple addition to your daily routine could make a difference in energy, stress, and basal metabolic rate...
Have You Accomplished Your 'N.E.A.T.' Today?
There are three components of human daily energy expenditure. One is our basal metabolic rate. The second is the thermic effect of food (energy needed to break down food), and lastly 'activity thermogenesis'. Basal metabolic rate is the energy required for core body functions and is measured at complete rest without food. It accounts for about 60% of daily energy expenditure in a sedentary person. Thermic effect of food (digestion, absorption etc) accounts for about 10% of energy expenditure; while activity thermogenesis provides the rest.
Now, activity thermogenesis is divided into two: 1) Activity thermogenesis (voluntary jogging, swimming, elliptical etc), and 2) Non-exercise thermogenesis. It's this latter idea that I want to emphasize. Highly active people expend three times more energy per day than inactive people. It can vary as much as 2000 calories per day!
NEAT is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sporting-like exercise. NEAT includes all those activities that render us vibrant, unique and independent beings such as dancing, going to work or school, shovelling snow, playing the guitar, or walking at the mall. To show you how dramatic this can be, compare the number of calories burned per hour sitting (5), standing (15), gum chewing (20), and stair climbing (200).
If we are aware that we can burn calories in ways other than formal exercise, then maybe we can adapt our work or home environment. It may be that NEAT is genetically induced. That is, a hormone called Orexin in the brain may modulate how much activity we do or don't do. Even so, we can override this and force ourselves to do more activity throughout the day.
One study demonstrated that obese subjects were seated for 2.5 hours per day more than lean subjects. (The lean sedentary volunteers stood and walked for more than 2 hours per day longer than obese subjects. Importantly the lean subjects lived in a similar environment and had similar jobs compared to the obese subjects. Thus, if the obese subjects were to adopt the same NEAT lifestyles as the lean subjects, they might expend and additional 350 calories per day!
The subject of NEAT is complicated biologically and genetically. However, we can improve our 'calorie burn' throughout the day by consciously moving more. Take a 5 minute break every half hour from the computer and walk around, stretch....anything but continued sitting. (We lose concentration after 30 minutes of steady work anyway). Walk to the corner store if you are out of something. Don't drive. Park far away from the store at the Mall. Climb the stairs whenever possible. Stand and talk to a co-worker, don't sit. Stand while you are talking on the phone.
It's interesting that in some elementary schools in the States they are experimenting with having no chairs and having kids work off upright easels, or using wrap around black boards for writing. At some offices they have designed slow moving treadmills such that the worker can be on the computer but walk at the same time.
One good idea I heard was to have meetings standing. No chairs. Not only would everyone burn many more calories, the meetings would be short and efficient. Better yet, maybe companies would encourage more walking discussions with a track around the perimeter of the office. (Yes, these are being tried too).
Years ago Fitness and Amateur Sport Canada designed a program called 'Fit-Break', where one person led an easy program for 15 minutes twice daily in the office environment. (it was way ahead of its time, never was fully promoted, and here we are 25 years later looking for ways to do what experts in Health Canada knew back then!).
Anyway, just move. Get off that computer at night and walk down or upstairs every half hour, or clean a room, or rake leaves on the weekend. Park further away if you're able to walk. Do 20 alternating leg extensions sitting at your desk. Any amount of extra movement will make a difference.
Can you imagine burning an extra 350 calories per day, without having to see a personal trainer for a hard 30 minutes!
Keep trying. Keep moving. You can do it. Don't ever give up.
Written by: Dr Doug