This week I thought we could get a little more practical. Even though habits, happiness, willpower and having fun are at the core of living a healthy lifestyle, they can be hard to nail down. So I thought giving some solid advice would help.
I want to discuss common food options and where people generally go wrong. Much of this can be negated by simply learning how to read the nutrition facts and ingredients of what you eat, but some quick tips may help make us all a bit more aware.
I recently had a client tell me she's been eating protein bars, but being the super-duper smart guy I am (cough cough, wink wink) I asked her to show me what her bar was. When I looked at it, there was a mere 6 grams of protein and a whopping 26 grams of carbs...19 of which were sugars! But I guess "sugar bars" probably wouldn't sell very well.
If you're eating protein bars, look at the protein, carbs and fats. If the carbs and/or fats are considerably higher than the protein, buyer beware. There are only a small handful of bars I consider acceptable, Quest bars being one of the more flavorful.
Yogurt has always been eaten for its beneficial bacteria, and Greek yogurt has recently become a favorite for its higher protein content. However, just because the label says it's Greek yogurt doesn't mean it's not loaded with sugar. Most flavored varieties will have added sugars.
A much safer method is to get the plain version and add a bit of flavored protein powder with a splash of almond or coconut milk. Stir it slowly and you'll have high protein chocolate or vanilla (or whatever flavor you prefer) pudding.
Most people know oatmeal is great for you, right? This is a true story that quickly gets dangerous when you get the flavored packets that come with added sugar and/or salt. Many people will even add extra sugar, brown sugar or fruits on top of the already sweetened mess.
You'll be a lot better off getting the plain, boring, old oatmeal in the cardboard tube. Use cinnamon or allspice to flavor it up a bit. Again, adding a small scoop of protein powder to it with a splash of healthy milk and stirring it up will do wonders.
Lastly, fruit is widely known to be full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. It's also a great provider of healthier carbohydrates and a good way to satisfy a nagging sweet tooth. But again, be careful to look at the ingredients. You've seen the "smoothie ready" bags of frozen fruit in the grocery stores, right? Check out the ingredient list. I can just about guarantee that they all have added sugar, which jacks up the calorie count on you.
A much better option is to buy whole bags of frozen (or better yet, fresh!) fruit. But even with a bag that is supposed to be only fruit you still have to read the ingredients. Some brands still slip in extra sugar (sucrose) hoping you won't notice. The same goes for many dried fruits.
So there ya have it, just a few quick tips to help make some healthier choices next time you're filling up your cart. Don't be overwhelmed, think of it like you're solving the case of the hidden sugars. They can lurk everywhere, and they usually do. Try your best to minimize the added version and get it in its natural source instead!
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and has a budding YouTube channel.