Posted on

5 Nutrition Myths You Should Stop Believing NOW!

The field of nutrition is constantly evolving, with new research emerging daily. As we understand more about the relationship of food to human health and physical performance, some longstanding beliefs have been proven false. Yet these food myths persist, and they may be harming your health.

1. A Calorie is a Calorie


A calorie, or more correctly a kilocalorie, is a unit measurement of energy. It represents the amount of energy derived from a certain quantity of food. Calorie counting is one way to achieve energy balance by subtracting calories consumed from calories expended. However, not all food calories are created equal. Some foods have “empty” calories, meaning they provide energy but little else in terms of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and enzymes your body needs to stay healthy. Consuming empty calories can leave you depleted, and your body will quickly convert them to fat.

2. Grains are Essential


In the old Food Guide Pyramid of the 90’s, grains and other carbohydrate foods formed the base, with recommendations to consume 60 percent or more of your calories from carbohydrates. Our current obesity epidemic bears witness to the fallacy of that advice. Livestock are fed grains to fatten them up, and that applies to humans too. Grain based foods like flour, rice and corn should be eaten sparingly. Get your carbohydrates from fresh whole vegetables, and fruits in moderation.

3. Saturated Fat is Bad

Since the 1950s, naturally saturated fats have been demonized because they were thought to contribute to heart disease and arterial plaque, yet no concrete evidence has emerged to support those claims. In fact, the demonization of natural fat has led us to change our diets from protein-based to carbohydrate-based, and we know where that got us. The real demon, it turns out, is trans fat, derived when plant-based oils are artificially infused with hydrogen to make them solid at room temperature. Processed peanut butter, margarine and shortening are examples of hydrogenated fats. Trans fats are often hidden in processed foods, snack foods and baked goods. Nuts, seeds, coconut oil, egg yolks and avocados are all good sources of healthy saturated fat.

4. Low Fat Milk Does a Body Good


This may be a hard nut to swallow, but mounting evidence suggests that low fat dairy products are harmful to your health, and may contribute to obesity. Low fat milk is loaded with sugar, and most commercial brands contain antibiotics, pain killers, growth hormones and traces of other harmful pharmaceuticals fed routinely to dairy cows. Dairy milk is intended to feed baby cows, not humans. If you can’t give up dairy, mounting evidence suggests that full-fat milk is better for you. A 2016 study published in “Circulation” found the consumption of whole fat milk to reduce the risk of diabetes.

5. Margarine is Better than Butter


For decades, Americans have been slathering a goopy yellow substance from a plastic tub on their toast, thinking they were making a healthful choice. Now we know that margarine is loaded with trans fats and chemicals that are far more harmful than the naturally occurring saturated fat in butter. A 2015 study published in the “British Medical journal” revealed that saturated animal fat does not increase the risk of heart disease, but trans fat does. Choose European butter to avoid drugs and chemicals.

Ask Yourself This

Before buying into the latest nutrition fad, ask yourself a few questions: Is it a whole natural food, or has it been altered and processed? Does it provide nutritional value other than energy? Is it laden with chemicals or tainted with pharmaceuticals? Has the color or texture been altered to make it look more appealing? As much as possible, stick with whole organic food. Eat more plants, and if you eat meat or animal products, choose grass fed pasture raised animal sources.

Resources

Healthy nutrition goes hand-in-hand with physical fitness. As the saying goes, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” Whether you want to learn the basics or keep up with the latest, W.I.T.S. has course offerings to meet your needs. Bite into the basics with Certified Personal Trainer or Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Take a stab at Nutrition Concepts. Sink your teeth into Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Dig into Pregnancy Fitness or Older Adult Fitness Foundations. Feed your brain with continuing education from any of our awesome CEC bundles!

References and Credits

de Souza, RJ et al. (2015). Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. British Medical Journal, 351.

Yakoob, MY et al. (2016). Circulating biomarkers of dairy fat and risk of incident diabetes mellitus among US men and women in two large prospective cohorts. Circulation, 133(17), 1645-1654.

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net:

Posted on

Fuel Deficiency: Nutrition and Older Adults

Food for Thought
For older adults, healthy balanced nutrition can be a major factor in determining overall quality of life. Yet for many older adults, getting all the necessary nutrients for optimal health can be a challenge. According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging, malnutrition in older adults is highly prevalent amongst older adults living in their own homes, in long-term care facilities, and in hospitals. A 2013 study published in “Osteoporosis International” found malnutrition, especially inadequate protein, to be a major contributing factor to muscle wasting, and loss of strength. As fitness professionals, we need to be aware of the nutritional obstacles faced by our older adult clients so that we can help them achieve peak health and optimal daily function.

wits oa grumpy
Physical Factors
Many physical changes take place as a direct consequence of aging that can affect nutritional choices. Dental problems can make chewing difficult, causing older adults to steer clear of foods like meat and raw produce. Diminished senses of taste and smell can make food seem less appetizing. Poor prostate and bladder function, combined with reduced ambulatory function, can be a deterrent to staying hydrated, as every trip to the bathroom becomes a challenge. Reduced strength and diminished reaction time can make cooking and food preparation a chore.

wits oa medicine
Environmental Factors
In addition to natural physical changes, many other factors can keep older adults from eating well. Medications can affect the taste and smell of foods, making them seem unappetizing. Chemicals and preservatives in processed convenience foods can interfere with digestion and vital organ function, and microwave ovens can deplete nutrients. Antibiotics in animal products and medications can disrupt digestive intestinal flora, causing upset stomach, constipation and diarrhea. Poverty among older adults is also a critical component of malnutrition.

organic eggs
Simple Solutions
Despite the many obstacles faced by older adults, getting essential nutrients can be simple. A daily smoothie made from whole ingredients like bananas, berries, greens and organic Greek yogurt can provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein. Ingredients can be prepared and frozen in meal-sized portions, ready to be blended. Organic peanut butter on whole grain bread can provide protein and healthy fat. Organic free-range hard boiled eggs are a rich source of protein and nutrients. The yolks contain lutein for eye health, and egg yolks are a rich source of vitamins A, B and D. Plain organic yogurt is an excellent source of protein and digestive enzymes. A probiotic supplement may help improve digestion.

smoothie
Resources
Understanding the needs and physical limitations of older adults is important for trainers who wish to tap into this lucrative and growing market. As always, W.I.T.S. is on the cutting edge, providing quality education to help you grow as a fitness professional. To learn more about training older adults, explore our Older Adult Fitness Specialist, Older Adult Fitness Foundations, and Able Bodies Balance Training courses, all available online.
References and Credits
International Journal of Nurse Practitioners: Why are elderly individuals at risk of nutritional deficiency?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16529597

National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging: Malnutrition and Older Americans
http://nutritionandaging.fiu.edu/aging_network/malfact2.asp

Osteoporosis International: Impact of nutrition on muscle mass, strength, and performance in older adults.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23247327

*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Posted on

Trainer’s Lunchbox: Tools for Managing Your Clients’ Nutrition

by Michelle Matte, MSEd, CSCS

Fitness and Forks

Challenging and effective exercise programming is the foundation of fitness. But for optimal performance and successful weight management, nutrition plays a critical role. As the saying goes, you cannot out-train a bad diet. In a perfect world, you would be present to monitor every morsel of food that passes your client’s lips. But in the real world, your client must make his or her own decisions about what, when and how much to eat. The best you can do is to hold them accountable, and educate them as you go. Fortunately, you do have some tools available to help.

smart fitness

Dear Diary

Requiring a daily food and activity diary is perhaps the most effective tool you can employ to hold your client’s feet to the fire. A 2008 study of approaches to weight loss published in the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” found that subjects who journaled lost nearly twice as much weight as those who did not. The more frequent and thorough the journal entries, the greater the weight reduction. For maximal results, don’t wait until your next session to review your client’s food and activity log. Require them to submit a daily log electronically at the end of each day. Knowing that the log will be reviewed will make your client more mindful of their food and exercise behaviors throughout each day. Encourage them to add comments about their thoughts and feelings. Emotionally charged journaling is more impactful.

journal

What’s the Plan?

If you ask your typical early morning client what they plan to eat for the rest of the day, they will probably tell you they have no idea. Therein lies the problem. Without a plan, eating becomes random and your client often ends up eating too many calories from the wrong types of food. Here’s the strategy: Have your client submit a detailed plan for healthy meals and snacks for each day of the week, and then work with them to create a grocery list from their menu. When you have a plan, and you’ve stocked up on all the groceries you need to execute it, there are no excuses for making unhealthy choices. Offering some recipe suggestions and creative ways to use leftovers will help your client make the switch from SAD, the Standard American Diet, to FAB, the Forever Awesome Body.

healthy food

Healthy App-etite

Fitness training and technology have followed a similar growth curve over the past decade, and there are now a plethora of useful apps and online tools that can help you manage your client’s nutrition. Sites like livestrong.com and myfitnesspal.com provide tools that will count calories and give you a breakdown of nutrients for virtually any food eaten. They will also calculate calories expended for a wide range of activities. For tracking tools, daily food plans, menus and recipes, also try choosemyplate.gov. With your client’s permission, set up an account on one of these user-friendly sites so that you can both access and track their progress.

 

Resources

Nutrition and fitness are rapidly evolving fields, and new research is constantly contributing to our understanding about how the body uses food for fuel. You cannot rely on the latest nutrition fads to help your clients achieve results. To be a top trainer, nutrition education is an ongoing requirement. W.I.T.S. is here to help you succeed with our Nutritional Concepts available online.

References and Credits

Hollis, JF et al, 2008. Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35(2):118-126.

 

Livestrong Foundation

livestrong.com

 

MyFitnessPal: Lose Weight with My Fitness Pal

https://www.myfitnesspal.com

 

United States Department of Agriculture: Super Tracker

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/supertracker.html

 

*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.