Fiber Facts: Understanding Food Labels and Isolated Fibers
Did you know that there’s fiber in my ice cream? Or did you know that there’s 3.6 g of fiber in one cup of blueberries? Have you noticed that recently the rise in foods (possibly some you eat on a regular basis) have much more fiber in them than they used to? Here are some of the eye-catching labels that you run into while grocery shopping:
- ⅓ of Your Daily Needs for Fiber
- An Excellent Source of Fiber
- Now With Twice as Much Fiber
Is it true? Did food manufacturers suddenly find a magical way to make all of our favorite foods healthier?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. What happened is that food manufacturers stumbled upon something called “isolated fibers.” Isolated fibers are insoluble fibers that help with our digestive system. Examples of these isolated fibers are inulin, maltodextrin, oat fiber, soy fiber, modified wheat starch, sugarcane fiber, and polydextrose.
Food labels count these isolated fibers when communicating how much fiber is in a serving of any given food. However, buyer beware, because these fibers absolutely do not lower blood cholesterol levels or reduce the risk of diabetes, like their natural counterparts do. Some of these fibers do help to promote regularity, but not all of them—for instance, inulin does not, but polydextrose might, and oat fiber, sugarcane fiber, and soy fiber almost certainly do. However, any of these isolated fibers can lead to gas and other gastrointestinal issues when eaten in large doses. In fact, any food that contains more than 15 grams of polydextrose must have a warning label stating that “sensitive individuals may experience a laxative effect from excessive consumption of this product.
It looks like if you eat five high-fiber ice cream sandwiches, you have met your goal for the day, but that is absolutely not true. These fibers do not give you the same health benefits, and depending on them to meet your daily fiber needs is not nearly as healthful as eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The trouble is that some people might pick up a package of high-fiber toaster pastry, and decide that this is just as good as whole-grain cereal. In addition, many of these new high-fiber foods are very high in sugar and Trans fats.
100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat - This means the product contains no refined white flour.
Whole grain - Most of these products contain little or no refined white flour. Look at the label’s ingredient list to see how far down on the list the enriched wheat flour, unbleached white flour, or wheat flour appears—the lower the better.
Whole-grain white - This label usually appears on bread, but it does not necessarily mean anything specific. In the best case scenario, the bread was made with an albino variety of wheat. Most breads with this label contain a mix of whole and refined flour from red wheat. Look for the brands that contain more whole flour, and less refined flour.
12-grain or multigrain - It does not matter how many grains are in a product. It matters how many of those grains are whole grains.
May prevent heart disease - This claim is approved for use on almost any food that is made from at least 51% whole grains, and is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Replacing isolated fibers
Instead of relying on highly processed food products with questionable marketing, you should rely on the following foods to meet your fiber quota, and rest easy knowing that you are certainly helping your health:
- Oat bran
- Breakfast cereals, including:
- All-Bran® Bran Buds®
- Shredded wheat
- Raisin bran
- Grains including:
- Brown rice
- Whole-wheat breads and pastas
- All fresh fruits, especially:
- Dried figs
- Dried and fresh plums
- All fresh vegetables, especially:
- Green beans
- Winter squash
- Broad beans
- Artichoke hearts
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Dried beans
Difference between whole grain and high fiber
Different grains naturally contain different amounts of fiber. Bran products, for instance, are not whole grain. Bran is an excellent source of fiber, but is not technically a whole grain, because whole grains must contain the bran, endosperm, and germ of the grain.
Did you know that portion sizes have grown significantly since the 1960’s? At that time, the average American plate was about 9” in diameter. Since then it has increased to 11-12”, sometimes even larger! Portion Distortion is one of the big lessons we teach at our weight loss camps for adults. Because most people don’t realize that along with the plate itself, the portions that we put on that plate have grown as well, this is one of the contributing factors of the rise of obese and overweight Americans. Did you know that the correct size of a bagel should be similar to a hockey puck, and a serving of meat should be comparable to a deck of cards? These portion sizes are significantly different than what we are served in a restaurant, or buy in a grocery store.
Knowing proper portion sizes is crucial to staying within your appropriate caloric range and is key in helping with weight loss. Be sure to familiarize yourself with what is accurate! Use measuring cups at home when you can, and when packing food for work. Try picking one meal a day where you always measure out your food. Another option is to measure food one week a month- you’ll notice your portion sizes tend to grow a little during that off time.
When eating out, try to use comparisons; such as a pancake should be the size of a DVD or a potato being similar to the size of a computer mouse. Portions you receive will almost always be oversized when eating out, so boxing up half of what is on your plate will also help to avoid over eating and then you have an already portioned meal for later!
Knowing the proper portions is important for everyone whether you’re trying to lose weight or not. And being aware of how much you’re eating is helpful to keep track of your caloric intake. At our weight loss camps for adults, we know this is the biggest hurdle for anyone to overcome because most adults are used to the portion distortion that surrounds us all. For more tips and tricks to help out with nutrition and portion distortion take a look at one of the many government funded sites or check out our nutrition page.
At our weight loss camps, we know there is more to losing weight, getting fit and staying healthy than just exercising and eating nutritious foods. It’s making sure that you are getting the proper foods before and after a work out to make sure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to make sure that you have a good workout.
Pre-Workout Meals and Snacks
Making sure you are properly fueled before working out is crucial to having a successful workout in which you can push yourself to a good level of intensity and have enough energy to get through without feeling overly fatigued.
The timing of a pre-workout can vary from person to person so it might take time to find out what works best for you specifically. A good general rule of thumb is to have a snack about 10-15 minutes prior to any workout. If you’re having a full meal, you’ll want to give yourself 45 minutes to an hour to digest before starting to exercise.
For a pre-workout snack you’re going to want to make sure you have some simple carbohydrates that will break down quickly so you have an immediate source of energy to utilize. This can be anything from a piece of fruit to a small granola bar- something mostly carbohydrates with a small amount of protein.
For a pre-workout meal, make sure you have some complex carbohydrates and a serving of protein in your meal. If you consume your meal about an hour before working out, it will provide your stomach enough time to break down the food and have that energy available to you while working out.
Post-Workout Meals and Snacks
The body’s ability to recover properly after a workout depends significantly on getting appropriate nutrition it needs. During your workout, you are putting a lot of tiny tears in your muscles and it is extremely important to refuel properly afterwards so that those muscles can recover and heal as quickly as possible.
It’s important to make sure that you have your post-workout meal or snack with carbohydrates and protein 15-30 minutes after working out. This is the best way to optimize nutrient absorption. If you’re worried about caloric intake, a great way to stay on track would be to make your post-workout meal one of your main meals of the day. For a post-workout snack a banana with chocolate milk, or a peanut butter sandwich are great options. You put the hard work in during the workout, make sure to reap all of the benefits from it!
Planning and sticking with your healthy snacks can be even harder than meals sometimes. You can get caught in the middle of an office party, have an after school snack with the kids, or get sucked into that before bed binge. Before you know it, your 100-200 calorie snack has turned into an extra meal…or two!
Knowing the times that you’re most likely to fall prey to over snacking means you can now come up with a plan to avoid it in the future. Whatever your favorite time to snack is, make sure you allot yourself enough calories to have your snack and feel satisfied. Also be sure to include at least two food groups in order for your body to feel full.
If you’re a person who likes to snack throughout the entire day, five to six small meals as opposed to three larger ones might be a better way to stay within your caloric range without feeling deprived. If there is only one time where you really get caught over eating, make sure you have a plan where you have a small snack that you enjoy every day during that time. Just knowing that you will be able to have something that you enjoy again the next day will help to avoid the need to binge on it. Need some ideas? Take a look at a few of our recipes or buy our cookbook Meal Simple.
In the last few years, we have all heard about Choose My Plate, Let’s Move and the Healthy Food Financing initiative, just a few of the things that we are promoting as a country to promote a healthy diet and to lower the number of overweight and obese Americans. But have any of these initiatives worked?
According to an article in the New York Times, Dietary Report Card Disappoints, we may not have had as much improvement as we have hoped for. A Washington-based advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has updated our “report card” on diet.
They have collected data from 1970-2010 on the changing patterns of food consumption and the results, although not all bad, are not as good as expected. Although we still consume a significant amount of added sugars (sugar and high-fructose corn syrup), it has been reduced from what the group called the “sugar high” of 1999 of 89 pounds per person to 78 pounds per person in 2010.
Since 1970, Americans eats 20 pounds more fat yearly, which has more than doubled the number of obese adults. There are a number of reasons why this number is still so high, as a whole, we are eating more fat, and grain products, and cheeses high in dairy fat and not eating enough chicken or fish. Americans are also eating approximately 500 more calories a day than in 1970 because we no longer know what a normal portion size is.
We still have a long way to go to get where we need to be as a country in terms of eating healthy and losing weight and we all have a part to play. Today for lunch instead of ordering a sandwich and a soda order a salad and water and snack on cut up veggies instead of chips or candy.
We know that changing our behavior towards food can be difficult and at our weight loss camps we teach you how to eat right and get fit. If you need some help getting that jump start you need and to get some tips on how to get started, take a look at attending one of our camps.
Whether you’re pressed for time in the mornings or you’re just not hungry, missing breakfast is one of the worst mistakes you can make when trying to lose weight and we teach this at all of our weight loss camps. We need breakfast to give our bodies fuel for the day ahead and to get our metabolisms revved up to burn off the calories we take in.
Try making these muffins on a Sunday and have them ready for the workweek, that way you can grab one and head straight out the door. By having one of these muffins instead of your standard Starbucks blueberry muffin, you’ll save 200 calories and 18g of fat! In this recipe, we substitute whole-wheat flour for white flour to provide extra fiber and use applesauce and pumpkin puree to replace the oil and butter. We slash the amount of sugar in most muffin recipes in half and add 1/8 cup of honey for some natural sweetness.
We challenge you this weekend to make these muffins or our Banana Bran muffins and eat them next week for breakfast. Tell us what twists you may of added, how it worked for you or what could have made them better!
Blueberry Pumpkin Oat Muffins
Makes 12 muffins (1 muffin= 1 serving)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- ¼ cup applesauce
- ¾ cup skim milk
- 1 ¼ cup can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1/8 cup honey
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pans with paper cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with blueberries.
- In a large bowl, combine remaining flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon, mixing well.
- In another bowl, combine applesauce, eggs, milk, pumpkin puree and honey, mixing well. Add moist ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
- Gently fold blueberries into batter. Spoon into the muffin cups, filling each one 1/2 full.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and serve warm.
A lot of the guests at our fitness resorts have tried fad diets, and they ask us why. Fad diets always seem to catch our eye because they make promises to lose an x-number of pounds in an x-number of days. We’ve heard of the cookie diet, no carb diet, high protein diet, 3-day diet, cabbage soup diet, and grapefruit diet, just to name a few. Many of these diets do show results and many lose weight quickly, but it is short lived. Most will not only gain the weight back that they lost, but also gain additional weight.
These are reasons why fad diets don’t work compared to healthy weight loss:
- They are quick fixes that won’t last. You may lose weight initially, but as soon as you start eating regularly again you gain the weight back. Healthy weight loss with balanced eating and exercise is one to two pounds lost a week
- Fad diets just focus on the food. A healthy diet should concentrate healthy foods, exercise, and overall well-being. One without the others, just won’t work
- Fad diets do not last a lifetime. Ask yourself, “Can I follow this for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, then it’s a fad. Following a healthy diet, and exercising is something anyone can follow for the rest of their life
Heard of these fads before? Understand the real facts:
- Eating after 8pm will make you gain weight
-False; As long as you’re still eating in moderation during the day. Suggest stop eating at least one hour prior to going to sleep.
- Supplements will help you obtain nutrition goals faster?
-False; Real food obtain more than just vitamins and minerals (benefits that supplements cannot possess)
- Low Carb diets help with weight loss?
-False; Your body needs carbs to work correctly (primary energy source)
- Red meat is bad for you?
-False; Lean red meat can be a healthy source of Protein, Iron, and Zinc. Lean beef or Lamb are healthy options
- Fresh vegetables are healthier than canned/frozen/dried?
-False; Fresh foods can lose nutrients as they age on shelves. Many frozen foods are flash frozen when fresh to lock nutrients.
Understanding what is a fad diet and why it won’t work for you is half the battle of weight loss. Just because you lose weight fast, doesn’t mean that you will keep it off. We understand that losing weight can be difficult, and we are here to help in any way we can.
I am writing this blog to all past guests. Whether you were with us at one of our weight loss camps this season, last season or any prior seasons, I’d like to re-emphasize your journey.
Those of you who have been home for some time, know it can be hard to translate an exercise routine from a structured program like ours to your home life. But I would like to remind you that it is never to late to start fresh. If things didn’t work out quite as you had planned when you returned home, ask yourself, why? What was it that made it hard? What can you take away as a learning experience from previous attempts at weight loss? Is there anything that could help alleviate some of the stress?
There is one thing I know about this situation, and that is that there’s no such thing as failure if something can be learned from the experience. Let’s face it, we can always learn something from our mistakes of the past, sometimes, we just have to look a little deeper than the surface. For those of you who have fallen off the fitness wagon, I challenge you to think about the steps that lead you there and take what you can out of them to make you a happier and healthier person moving forward. Then, I would like you to use this information, dust yourself off, get back up and get back in the game.
When you joined us, you made a promise to yourself to meet a goal, to get from point A to point B. We want to help you keep that promise to yourself.
So here I am asking you, have you been staying true to that promise? It’s okay to be honest with yourself. If you’re one that has been successful at home or that has not been home long enough to know, use these thoughts to prepare yourself for possible hard times in the future. However, if the transition has not gone as planned, let’s address this. Even if you started the transition smoothly but fell off the wagon recently, how can you change direction and start moving forward again? To better help you at home, we would like to provide you with some tools.
The Shane Team and I will be posting regular fitness and nutrition blogs with topics relevant to fitness, nutrition, healthy living and motivation to help you get back on the weight loss and wellness journey. Just like we were there for you at the resorts guiding you, we are going to again be here for you and help you stay on track. We will also be posting fitness challenges, exercises, inspirational thoughts and quotes on our social media pages, like Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. If you were with us before, it is not too late to dust off the old exercise program, and get started again. Tomorrow is a good day to also start that healthy eating plan, to start incorporating more movement in your day and to build positive thinking into your life. For those who have not been with us before, visit our website.
Think you need a refresher? Check out our Weekend Jumpstart Program at our Texas weight loss camp, a great way to help you get back on the road to success.
It can be overwhelming going through the grocery store, looking for healthy eating options, thinking of what to add to your basket especially with confusing claims made on food packaging and trying to decipher whether the item is really healthy or not. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you know what to look for.
The first thing you should do is plan your meals ahead of time. Try to pick a day that works with your schedule to sit down and jot down the meals you want for the week, including snacks. Next, based upon your meal plan make a shopping list that way you’re not tempted to add in extras that you don’t need.
When looking at products, always read the labels. When looking at grain product look for the word “whole” as the first ingredient to make sure it is a whole grain. Look at the types of fats in packaged food, saturated and trans fats should be kept to a minimum, focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. When considering trans fats, one way to make sure that a product is trans-fat free is to look for the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” before oils on the ingredient list. If it has anything that says hydrogenated you should skip it. Another thing to look out for is sugar content. Since the label does not distinguish between added sugar and natural sugar found in foods, look for the word “syrup” that can be hidden in the ingredient list. Another consideration to make is whether the food is a good source of vitamins and minerals look for items that contain 10 or more percent of the daily recommended values.
So what are some healthy staples to have in your refrigerator and pantry? It really depends on your cooking style, but here are some general things a healthy kitchen should be stocked with.
Whole-wheat pastas, breads and other whole grains such as, barley, brown rice, whole-wheat cous cous, oats, and wheatberry.
Canned goods such as low sodium bean varieties, and low sodium canned vegetables. You can include canned fruit but avoid the kind canned with syrup.
- Frozen goods: whole-wheat waffles, a variety of frozen fruit, frozen broccoli, cauliflower and mixed vegetables.
- Low fat dairy: yogurt, string cheese, shredded cheese, and cottage cheese.
- Nuts: unsalted nuts, almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Keep these along with dried fruit like raisins, cranberries and prunes. You can make your own trail mix with this!
- Greens: mixed salad greens, spinach, romaine lettuces are all good for quick salads.
- Fresh Vegetables and Fruits: Bananas, apples, seasonal berries, and oranges. Tomatoes, avocados, cauliflower, carrots, and onions.
Lastly, to avoid falling into the trap of not having enough time to prep things when cooking, try washing and cutting vegetables right after getting home from the grocery store. Simply store them in airtight containers and they’ll be easy to get to when you are cooking. Follow some of these simple tips and you can’t go wrong in picking healthy eating options for a healthy lifestyle and weight loss.
September is just around the corner and as the September days come and go the air gets cooler, the leaves begin to change color, and some of our favorite vegetables come into season; Pumpkin and winter squash. These two versatile vegetables, and two favorites of our nutritionists at our weight loss camps, can be used in an array of recipes, ranging from desserts to main dishes. Here are some of the choices you can choose from, how to prepare them for cooking, and how to share them with your family and friends:
Pumpkin is most useful in its canned form and easy to keep on hand in your pantry. Be careful when shopping to avoid canned pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar and fat. Look for canned pure pumpkin and load up for the off season when even the canned version can become hard to find in stores. Pumpkin puree can be used as a baking substitute for eggs and oil in cake recipes making for a thick and rich texture, added to your morning oatmeal for some extra flavor and fiber, or in a quick and simple soup with chicken broth, canned pure pumpkin, and veggies of your choice.
Winter Squash is great for creating a hearty and colorful meal. Some of the most popular include butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash. Butternut and acorn are very similar in taste and preparation but can be identified by their different shapes. Spaghetti squash is unique in its preparation and as the name states, looks like spaghetti on your plate!
When choosing a butternut squash look for ones with longer and thicker stems as most of the “meat” comes from this part and the bottom is where the hollow and seeded part is located. To prep your butternut squash start by peeling the skin from the outside with a potato peeler (be careful when dealing with its awkward shape not to cut yourself). Then cut the squash in half length wise so both the stem and bottom will be cut in half. Next, scoop out the seeds from the center and begin to cube up your butternut. If this is too much work you can find precut and cubed squash in your groceries refrigerated section. Butternut squash can be roasted up with onions, apples, olive oil, cinnamon, and salt for a side dish, made into a vegetarian chili with black beans and tomatoes, or into muffins for sweet treat. Acorn squash can be substituted for butternut in many recipes, but is harder to peel and cube. Acorn squashes are good for cutting in half, roasting, and stuffing with foods such as brown rice, beans, and veggies.
Spaghetti squash is a large yellow oval shape and can be found in the produce section with other squash selections. Start by cutting the squash in half length wise (this is sometimes difficult) and remove the seeds and pulp. Then place the squash face down on a baking pan and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes in the oven depending on the size of the squash at 375 degrees. If you don’t have a lot of time or only have access to a microwave no problem. Place the squash in a shallow dish with enough water to cover the bottom and place saran wrap over the dish. Microwave for about 6 to 8 minutes, remove the plastic film and let stand for a minute or two. If the squash is fork tender and starts to stings when you scrap it length wise it’s ready to go! Scoop out the contents from both halves with a fork to get the full spaghetti effect. This squash can be used as a pasta replacement, and can even be served as a sweet dish with a little butter or margarine and cinnamon sugar.
There are so many different uses for pumpkin and squash. Take some of these helpful tips from the nutritionists from our weight loss camps and you will be making delicious dishes everyone will love.
Having the right staple foods in your pantry can sound like a pain to keep up with, but with a few tips, it can be easy as pie (which is not a pantry staple). At Shane weight loss camps we teach that a healthy, well-stocked pantry is important when trying to maintain a well balanced diet. Even on the days that are busy, knowing you have enough items around to put together snacks and a balanced meal is crucial to sticking with your commitment to a healthy lifestyle. It will also help you save money, since you can grab foods from home instead of buying from convenience stores.
Some helpful tips to remember are:
- Keep the freezer full: Frozen proteins such as chicken, turkey, or hamburgers are great to keep around when you don’t have the time to buy meat fresh from the supermarket. Thaw in the microwave for a few minutes and it’s ready to cook up. Frozen veggies are another staple. These are perfect for making into a quick stir-fry or side, and are also easy to pick up on sale.
- Canned foods are a must have. They are cheap, easy to pick up at any time, and have an extremely long shelf life. Just make sure to rinse your canned items under water to wash away the high-sodium syrup they are preserved in. When buying canned foods such as fruit or tuna fish, buy ones that are water based, and when buying canned vegetables, stick to no or low sodium items.
- When buying grains, make sure to go for the ‘whole grain’ grain products. Don’t be fooled by the ingredient ‘wheat’- white flour is wheat too! Pasta’s, rice’s, quinoa all have a good shelf life and don’t take long to cook. Be sure to keep your wraps, pita’s, and breads in the fridge if they seem to spoil quickly.
- Fruits and vegetables are essential items for the household. Not only are they high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, they are low in calories, and also make great grab-and-go snacks. Apples can last up to 3 weeks when refrigerated and raw carrots are a great way to work another serving of vegetables into your day.
- Besides your meat based lean protein sources, there are also other plant-based proteins that are great to have on hand in your pantry. Sunflower seeds, almonds, or other nuts are great to grab as a quick snack or throw into a salad, and eggs or tofu are great foods to work into your meals.
- Dairy sources are essential to have on hand, as you want to get 3 servings a day. Dairy options are usually refrigerated so there’s not too much worry in foods spoiling. If you aren’t a big milk drinker, stick with the half gallon or smaller of skim or 1% milk. Low fat, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are great additions to breakfast and easy to take as a snack, and low fat shredded cheeses are perfect to add a light sprinkle to dress up meals.
The key to keeping a healthy pantry is just making sure that you have the healthy essentials at all times. This way not matter what, you always have what you need for a healthy meal.
Nutrition Tip: Keep your eyes out for frozen food sales. Having frozen veggies and lean proteins on hand can help whenever you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to buy or cook fresh foods. But because you don’t need them immediately, wait for the price to go down first!