Tag Archives: health

Dining out on a Diet: Our Guide to Atlanta’s Healthiest Hot Spots

Everyone loves to go out to eat; a statement made evident by the fact that Americans eat out an average of 4-5 times a week. And why not? It’s quick, easy, clean-up free, and a great way to get out and socialize with family and friends. However, studies have shown that the average restaurant meal contains over 1000 calories, which can make dining out on a diet nearly impossible. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to stay in and cook every single night, so what’s the solution to this calorie conundrum? We’ve put together a review of Atlanta-area restaurants that offer up healthier alternatives to the calorie bombs you’d encounter elsewhere. So go ahead and treat yourself to a fun night out, minus the guilt!

Seasons 52

If you’re looking for the perfect Friday night date spot, but want to avoid the rich and hearty fare often offered at romantic restaurants, Seasons 52 is the perfect choice. The atmosphere is casually sophisticated, and the menu offers a wide variety of healthy dishes prepared with fresh, local ingredients. The theme at Seasons 52 is “healthy indulgence,” and it delivers just that; delicious fare that you can enjoy without feeling guilty afterward. The menu features everything from baked flatbreads to grilled seafood to wood-fired steaks, lamb and pork chops, along with an extensive wine list. Even better? Nothing on the menu is over 500 calories, and the nutritional information on each dish is readily available to help you make the right choice for you. The best part? You can even enjoy a guilt-free dessert! All of the dessert offerings at Seasons 52 are served in a shot glass, so you get just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth without feeling like you’ve demolished your diet, and with flavors like key lime pie, rocky road, and chocolate peanut butter mousse, who could resist a little post-meal indulgence?

Seasons 52 is located in Buckhead at 3050 Peachtree Rd. NW and in Dunwoody at 90 Perimeter Center West.

Cafe Sunflower

For all of the vegetarian/vegans out there, Cafe Sunflower is a must-stop spot in Atlanta. A small, cafe-like feel with simple decor, reasonable prices, and a casual vibe, Cafe Sunflower is the perfect place to enjoy a light lunch with friends or a weeknight dinner date without breaking your wallet or your waistline. If your strictly vegan, it’s difficult if not almost impossible to find a dish let alone a whole menu that caters to your dietary restrictions, but Cafe Sunflower does just that. Everything on the menu is meat-free, and the few dishes that include dairy products such as real cheese are labeled as such so that any level of vegan can easily navigate the menu and find something they can eat. And with menu items such as Berry Barbecue Tempeh, Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash, and Orzo Eggplant Lasagna, who wouldn’t find something to please their palate?

Sunflower Cafe is located in Buckhead at 2140 Peachtree Rd. NW and in Sandy Springs at 5975 Roswell Rd.

R. Thomas Deluxe Grill

No article on healthy restaurants in Atlanta would be complete without R. Thomas, a family-owned eatery that has become a landmark in the Brookwood Hills neighborhood since it’s opening back in 1985. Self-described as an “oasis in the city,” R. Thomas’ eclectic decor and trademark patio surrounded by various plants and caged tropical birds, it certainly lives up to that description. The menu is based on the philosophy that food is medicine, and that a diet free of preservatives and pesticides will ultimately lead to better health. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and menu items include everything from quinoa stir-frys to pastas to grilled chicken and fish to Southwestern entrees such as tacos, burritos and wraps. They are also known for their fresh, made to order juices and smoothies, making it the perfect stop for a pre-workout fuel-up or post-workout snack. Also, R. Thomas is open 24/7, so Atlantans can enjoy fresh, healthy fare any time of day, any day of the week.

R. Thomas is located in Brookwood Hills at 1812 Peachtree st. NW.

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen is a growing restaurant chain which recently expanded into Atlanta with their newest location at Lenox Mall in Buckhead. The basis of the cuisine at True Food Kitchen comes from the anti-inflammatory diet, an eating plan designed to reduce chronic inflammation which can cause a number of health issues and diseases. Inflammatory foods are those that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, and are prepared without the use of added fats, oils, butter, and salt. True Food Kitchen aims to popularize these healthy foods by preparing them in a way that looks good and tastes good too, and serving them in a trendy restaurant environment that will bring people in whether they’re grabbing a quick bite during the workday or enjoying a Friday night out with friends. The menu offers a wide variety of dishes including salads, pizzas, appetizers, entrees, sandwiches and burgers using lean meats such as turkey and bison instead of beef. They also have a selection of natural refreshments using antioxidant-rich fruits, veggies, spices and teas as ingredients. Even the restaurant itself is sustainable, using recycled wood and materials in their floors and furnishings. With it’s fresh, tasty cuisine and bright, fun atmosphere True Food Kitchen is one chain that’s definitely worth a try; just order the edamame dumpling appetizer and you’ll see what I mean!

True Food Kitchen is located in the Lenox Square Mall at 3393 Peachtree Rd. NE

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Carbohydrates: Friend or Foe?

How many times have you heard a friend, family member or coworker say “I’m going on a low-carb diet”? Chances are, you probably know someone (maybe even you) that has tried this method for weight loss. And why not? The Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, and countless others advise that going low-carb is the key to achieving the body of your dreams. But is this really the answer to healthy, sustainable weight loss? Could it be that carbohydrates get a bad rap not because we don’t need them but because most of us don’t know how to use them to our advantage, which begs the question; carbs: friend or foe?

When food is digested, it leaves the stomach and enters the intestines where it is absorbed into the blood stream in the form of blood glucose, which is then stored in the muscle cells as “glycogen” or fuel for our bodies.  This process is known as “gastric emptying time.” Gastric emptying time varies based on what you eat, and when the process is complete your blood glucose levels drop, signaling that it’s time to eat again. Proteins have a gastric emptying time of around 2 hours, while fats take 3-5 hours. Carbohydrates however, take between 20 and 40 minutes. This is why we often feel an energy crash shortly after eating a carb-heavy meal. This is also why carbohydrates have gotten such a bad reputation. However, studies conducted on gastric emptying time have found that when you add a protein in with a carbohydrate, gastric emptying time is slowed considerably (remember; it takes 2 hours for proteins to be digested). This allows for blood glucose levels to rise slowly and drop slowly, releasing steady energy for the body to use effectively and preventing that dreaded energy crash. For this reason, proteins should always be present in a meal that includes carbohydrates. The only time it is acceptable to have carbohydrates alone is immediately after exercising because glycogen synthase levels are high, so the body will take all that glycogen and store it in the cells for later use. If you eat a high-carb meal and then engage in a sedentary activity like sitting at a desk or in front of the TV, the glycogen will instead be stored as fat because the body can’t use it right away. So, instead of swearing off all carbs, we just need to know how to eat them so our bodies can use them properly.

Now that we’ve established that carbohydrates are vital for providing energy to our cells, how do we know how much and what types we should eat? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that 58% of our diet should consist of carbohydrates, the RDA recommends 130 grams per day, and the Institute of Medicine recommends anywhere from 45-65% or more depending on the individual and their level of activity. Runners, for example, probably need closer to 70%. Why? Carbohydrates are our fuel. They are the body’s greatest source of energy. You wouldn’t get in the car for a cross-country road trip without putting gas in the tank first, right? However, you wouldn’t need as much gas if you were only going for a drive down the road. This is the mentality that one should use when determining how many grams of carbohydrates they should be eating daily. So, how do you know the amount of carbohydrates that is right for you? First of all, you need to know how many total calories you should be taking in daily. It is beneficial to enlist the help of a nutritionist or dietician when determining this, but you can get a good idea using this simple formula:

1. Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the amount of food your body requires just to maintain it’s most basic functions (breathing, digestion, etc.). You can figure this out by taking your weight in kilograms (lbs./2.2) and multiplying it by 1 if you are a male and 0.9 if you are female (this represents the calories burned per kilogram per hour). Multiply that number by 24 (hours in a day) and you have your BMR.

2. Add in your activity factor. If you are sedentary (you do not exercise at all and have a job that requires little to no physical activity), give yourself a 1.1. If you are on your feet at least half of the day, give yourself a 1.2 for light activity. If you are on your feet most of the day, give yourself a 1.3. If your job requires a lot of physical activity (manual labor), give yourself a 1.4.

3. Calculate your daily exercise expenditure, or the amount of calories you burn during exercise per day. This can be a little tricky, which is why it may be helpful to have a nutritionist or dietician assist in getting the most accurate calculation possible. You will need to consider how many days a week you work out and what kinds of workouts you do to get approximate number of calories burned per workout (be careful not to overestimate). 

4. Take your BMR and multiply it by your activity factor, then add your daily exercise expenditure. Now you have a good idea of how many calories you should be eating daily.

5. Now, calculate 58% of that number and you have a general idea of how many calories per day need to come from carbohydrates. Carbs have 4 calories per gram, so take that number and divide by 4 to figure out how many grams of carbs that equals.

Now that you have a general idea of how many grams of carbohydrates your body requires to keep you going, it is equally as important to know which kinds of carbohydrates are best. There are two types of carbohydrates; simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates consist of sugars (fruit juices, white breads and pastas, corn syrups, etc.), while complex carbohydrates consist of starches (whole grains, beans, legumes, etc.). You should never eat a food with more than 20% of it’s carbs coming from sugar. In general, this means that we should stick with the complex carbohydrates as they are more filling and slower to digest. While fruit does include sugar and simple carbohydrates, they also have essential vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, so you don’t need to neglect these foods entirely. Just remember to limit your intake and combine your fruit with a protein to keep those blood glucose levels in check.

Carbs don’t need to seem like the enemy; following these simple rules will help you to turn them into a useful tool toward reaching your weight loss goals in a healthy and effective way.

 

It’s Superbowl Sunday! Sip smart with our Cocktail Calorie Guide!

Snacking is as big of an addition to Superbowl Sunday as catching the commercials, and no matter what your plans are for the big game, you’ve probably got a medley of munchies to enjoy during the football festivities. We all know that nothing goes as well with a big pile of nachos and hot wings like a couple of ice cold beers, but your game day drinks can add hundreds of calories to an already fattening feast. And while it’s perfectly okay to relax on your diet a little bit this evening, there are some simple swaps you can make to lighten the calorie load a little and still enjoy yourself. The following guide to cocktail calories will help you navigate the beer aisle and make the best choices so you can have fun this Superbowl Sunday without feeling too much guilt come Monday.

*The numbers listed on this chart are an estimate and are subject to change based on changes in the brewers’ recipes. Calories and carbs are based on 12 oz. servings.

Beer                                     Classification                          Alcohol Percentage         Calories         Carbohydrates

Amstel    Light Amstel Light
3.5
95
5

 

 

Alaskan Brewing Alaskan Amber
5
 
 
Alaskan    Brewing Alaskan Pale Ale
4.6
 
 
Alaskan    Brewing Alaskan Stout
5.7
 
 
Alaskan    Brewing Alaskan ESB
5
 
 
Alaskan    Brewing Alaskan Smoked Porter
6.1
 
 
Alaskan    Brewing Alaskan Winter Ale
6.2
 
 
Anchor Anchor Steam
4.9
152
 
Anchor Liberty Ale
6
188
 
Anchor Anchor Porter
5.6
205
 
Anchor Old Foghorn
 
 
 
Anchor Anchor Small
3.3
 
 
Anderson    Valley Boont Amber
5.8
 
 
Anderson    Valley Hop Ottin’
7
 
 
Anderson    Valley Poleeko Gold
5.5
 
 
Anderson    Valley Belk’s ESB
6.8
 
 
Anderson    Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal
5.7
 
 
Anderson    Valley Winter Solstice
6.9
 
 
Anderson    Valley High Rollers Wheat
5.3
 
 
Anderson    Valley Deep Enders Porter
5.5
 
 
Beamish Beamish Stout
3.8
131
 
Beck’s Beck’s
5
143
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Two Hearted Ale
7
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Amber Ale
5.5
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Pale Ale
5
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Stout
6.5
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Oberon
6
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Double Cream Stout
7.5
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Third Coast Old Ale
10.2
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Expedition Stout
10
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Best Brown Ale
5.8
 
 
Bell’s/Kalamazoo Cherry Stout
8
 
 
Blue Moon Blue Moon White
5.4
171
12.9
Breckenridge Avalanche Amber
5.4
 
 
Breckenridge Autumn Ale
6.7
 
 
Breckenridge Pale Ale
5.7
 
 
Breckenridge Christmas Ale
7.4
 
 
Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout
5
 
 
Breckenridge Pandora’s Bock
5.8
 
 
BridgePort IPA
5.5
 
 
BridgePort Porter
5.5
 
 
BridgePort ESB
6.1
 
 
BridgePort Black Strap Stout
6
 
 
BridgePort Blue Heron
4.9
 
 
BridgePort Pintail Ale
5.2
 
 
BridgePort Ebenezer Ale
6.4
 
 
BridgePort Old Knucklehead
8.9
 
 
Budweiser    (U.S) Budweiser
5
143
10.6
Budweiser Bud Light
4.2
95
6.6
Budweiser Bud Ice
5.5
148
8.9
Budweiser Bud Ice Light
4.1
110
6.5
Budweiser Budvar Budvar
5
 
 
Busch Busch
4.6
133
10.2
Busch    Light Busch Light
4.2
110
6.7
Busch Ice Busch Ice
5.9
173
13
Clausthaler Clausthaler
0.4
96
5.8
Colt 45 Colt 45 Malt Liquor
6
172
 
Coors Coors Original
5
148
11.3
Coors Coors Light
4.2
102
5
Coors Coors Extra Gold
5
147
10.7
Coors Coors NA
<0.5
73
14.2
Corona Corona Light
4.5
109
5
Corona Corona Extra
4.6
148
 
Czechvar Czechvar
5
 
 
Deschutes Cascade Ale
4.5
140
 
Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale
5.3
175
 
Deschutes Bachelor ESB
5.4
180
 
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
5.5
185
 
Deschutes Quail Springs IPA
5.8
200
 
Deschutes Obsidian Stout
6.7
220
 
Deschutes Jubelale
6.7
 
 
Deschutes Broken Top Bock
7
233
 
Deschutes Pine Mountain Pils
5.1
154
 
Deschutes Cinder Cone Red
5.8
180
 
Dos Equis Dos Equis XX
4.8
145
 
Dragon    Stout Dragon Stout
6.8
220
 
Edison    Light Edison Light
 
109
6.5
Foster’s Foster’s Lager
5.1
156
 
Fuller’s Fuller’s ESB
5.9
 
 
Fuller’s Fuller’s London Pride
4.7
156
 
Genessee/High    Falls Genessee 12 Horse
4.8
152
14
Genessee/High    Falls Genny Light
3.6
96
5.5
Genessee/High    Falls Kipling Light Lager
3.4
99
8
Grolsch Grolsch
5
156
 
Gordon    Biersch Märzen
5.7
 
 
Gordon    Biersch Blonde Bock
7
 
 
Gordon    Biersch Pilsner
5.3
 
 
Guinness Guinness    Draught
4
125
10
Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
7.5
176
14
Hamm’s Hamm’s
4.7
144
12.1
Hamm’s Hamm’s Light
4.1
110
7.3
Heineken Heineken
5.4
166
9.8
Henry    Weinhard’s Weinhard’s Ale
4.6
147
13
Henry    Weinhard’s Weinhard’s Amber Ale
5.3
169
14
Henry    Weinhard’s Weinhard’s Dark
4.8
150
13.1
Henry    Weinhard’s Weinhard’s Hefeweizen
4.9
128
9.2
Henry    Weinhard’s Private Reserve
4.5
128
9.2
Hoegaarden Hoegaarden
5
 
 
I.C.    Light I.C. Light
 
96
2.9
Icehouse Icehouse 5.0
5
132
8.7
Icehouse Icehouse 5.5
5.5
149
9.8
J.W.    Dundee Honey Brown
4.5
150
13.5
Keystone Keystone Light
4.2
100
5
Kilarney’s Kilarney’s Red Lager
5
197
22.8
Killian’s Killian’s
4.9
163
13.8
Labatt Labatt Blue
5
153
 
Lowenbräu Lowenbräu
5.2
160
 
Marin    Brewing Mt. Tam Pale Ale
5
 
 
Marin    Brewing Bluebeery Ale
5
 
 
Marin    Brewing Albion Amber
5
 
 
Marin    Brewing Marin Weiss
5
 
 
Marin    Brewing Point Reyes Porter
6
 
 
Marin    Brewing Breakout Stout
6
 
 
Marin    Brewing Old Dipsea Barleywine
9
 
 
Marin    Brewing India Pale Ale
6
 
 
McMenamins Hammerhead
5.8
 
 
McMenamins Terminator
6.4
 
 
McMenamins Ruby
4.1
 
 
McMenamins Black Rabbit Porter
5.5
 
 
McMenamins Dry Irish Stout
4.6
 
 
Michelob Michelob
5
155
13.3
Michelob Michelob    Light
4.3
134
11.7
Michelob Michelob    Amber Bock
5.2
166
15
Michelob Michelob    Hefeweizen
5
152
11.8
Michelob Michelob    Honey Lager
4.9
175
17.4
Michelob Michelob    Black & Tan
5
168
15.8
Michelob Michelob    Ultra
4.2
95
2.6
Mickey’s Mickey’s
5.6
157
11.2
Mickey’s Mickey’s Ice
5.9
165
11.8
Miller Miller Genuine Draft
5
143
13.1
Miller Miller Genuine Draft Lite
4.2
110
7
Miller Miller High Life
5.5
156
11
Miller Miller Lite
4.2
96
3.2
Moosehead Moosehead
5
153
 
Murphy’s Murphy’s Irish Red
5
171
 
Murphy’s Murphy’s Stout
4
150
 
O’Douls O’Douls
0.4
70
13.3
O’Douls O’Douls Amber
0.4
90
18
Odell’s 90    Shilling
5.3
 
 
Odell’s Easy Street Wheat
4.7
 
 
Odell’s Cutthroat Porter
4.5
 
 
Odell’s Cutthroat Pale Ale
5.1
 
 
Odell’s Levity
5
 
 
Odell’s Isolation
6
 
 
Odell’s Bobby
4.6
 
 
Olde    English 800 Olde English 800
5.9
160
10.5
Olde    English 800 Olde English 800 Ice
7.9
216
14.3
Old    Milwaukee Old Milwaukee
5
156
 
Pabst Pabst
5
152
 
Paulaner Paulaner Original Munich
5.5
 
 
Paulaner Salvator
7.5
 
 
Paulaner Paulaner Hefe-Weizen
5.5
 
 
Pete’s    Brewing Pete’s Wicked Ale
5.3
174
17.7
Pete’s    Brewing Pete’s Oktoberfest
5.8
189
16.9
Pete’s    Brewing Pete’s Summer Brew
4.7
163
15.6
Pete’s    Brewing Pete’s Winter Brew
5.2
170
15.2
Pete’s    Brewing Pete’s Helles Lager
5
163
14.6
Pete’s    Brewing Pete’s Red Rush
5.3
170
14.8
Pete’s    Brewing Pete’s Strawberry Blonde
5
160
13.6
Pilsner    Urquell Pilsner Uruqell
4.3
160
 
Pittsburgh    Brewing I.C. Light
4.1
95
2.8
Pittsburgh    Brewing Iron City Lager
4.5
140
10
Pyramid Hefeweizen
5.2
 
 
Pyramid Coastline Pilsner
5
 
 
Pyramid Apricot Ale
5.1
 
 
Pyramid India Pale Ale
6.7
 
 
Pyramid Pale Ale
5.1
 
 
Pyramid Curve Ball Kölsch
4.8
 
 
Pyramid Broken Rake
6.4
 
 
Pyramid Tilted Kilt
6.3
 
 
Pyramid Snow Cap Ale
7
 
 
Red Dog Red Dog
5
147
14.1
Redhook Redhook    ESB
5.8
179
14.2
Redhook Redhook    IPA
6.5
188
12.7
Redhook Redhook    Blonde Ale
5.4
166
13.1
Redhook Redhook    Hefe-weizen
5.2
155
10.9
Redhook Redhook    Nut Brown
5.6
181
16
Rhinebecker Rhinebecker
5
106
2.5
St.    Pauli Girl St.    Pauli Girl
4.9
148
 
St.    Pauli Girl St.    Pauli Girl Dark
4.8
150
 
St.    Pauli Girl St.    Pauli Girl N.A.
<0.5
96
23
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Light
4.05
124
9.7
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Boston Lager
4.8
160
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Golden Pilsner
4.6
145
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Cream Stout
4.7
195
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Boston Ale
4.9
160
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Cherry Wheat
5.2
166
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Spring Ale
5.2
170
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Summer Ale
5.2
150
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Pale Ale
5.3
145
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Octoberfest
5.7
165
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams IPA
5.9
175
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Winter Lager
6.9
190
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Double Bock
8.5
240
 
Sam    Adams Sam    Adams Triple Bock
17.5
340
 
Sapporo Sapporo    Reserve
5.2
 
 
Shiner Shiner    Bock
4.4
143
12.5
Shiner Shiner    Light
3.9
120
9
Sierra    Nevada Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
5.6
200
12.3
Sierra    Nevada Sierra Nevada Porter
5.6
200
15.7
Sierra    Nevada Sierra Nevada Stout
5.8
210
19.4
Sierra    Nevada Sierra Nevada Wheat
4.4
150
11.8
Sierra    Nevada Sierra Nevada Summerfest
5
 
 
Sierra    Nevada Sierra Nevada Celebration
6.8
215
 
Sierra    Nevada Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
9.6
295
24.6
Stone    Brewing Arrogant    Bastard Ale
7.2
 
 
Stone    Brewing Stone Pale Ale
5.4
 
 
Stone    Brewing Stone Smoked Porter
5.9
 
 
Stone    Brewing Stone IPA
6.9
 
 
Stone    Brewing Ruination IPA
7.7
 
 
Stone    Brewing Double Bastard Ale
10
 
 
Stone    Brewing Stone Old Guardian
9.9
 
 
Tsingtao Tsingtao
4.7
152
 
Widmer Widmer    Hefeweizen
4.7
159
 
Widmer Widmer    Pale Ale
5
 
 
Widmer Widmer    Blonde Ale
4.3
 
 
Widmer Widmer Widberry
4.6
 
 
Widmer Widmer    Sommerbrä
4.8
 
 
Widmer Widmer    Oktoberfest
5
 
 
Widmer Widmer    Winternacht
7
 
 
Widmer Spring Run IPA
6
 
 
Widmer Drop Top Amber Ale
 
 
 
Yuengling Premium
4.4
135-140
12
Yuengling Light
3.8
98
6.6
Yuengling Ale
5
145-150
10
Yuengling Porter
4.5
150-155
14
Yuengling Lager
4.4
135-140
12
Yuengling Black & Tan
4.5
150-155
14
Yuengling Light Lager
3.6
96
8.5

 

             

 

Your favorite brew not on the list? Calculate the calories with this simple formula:

There are two reasons for beer’s caloric content: alcohol and carbohydrates. There are 7 calories per gram of alcohol, so the higher the alcohol volume, the more calories in the beer. An easy way to estimate how many calories are in your favorite beer is to multiply the ABV by 2.5 to get an estimate of calories per ounce. Multiply that number by the number of ounces and you have an estimate of how many calories are in each can or bottle of your favorite brew.

Now, lets get ready for some football!!

The Firefighter Fitness Guide to Gym Etiquette; The Dos and Don’ts of the Fitness Floor

The gym is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places for people-watching. There’s the lady in the neon spandex who looks like she stepped out of an aerobics class in 1984, the guy who’s constantly flexing in front of the mirror, the girl in full hair and makeup who’s just there to show everyone how cute she looks in track pants, and the guy who’s shorts are always just a little too short. And while the gym may be full of characters, there are a few rules everyone should know in order to get in a good workout while allowing everyone else to do the same. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts that every gym-goer should follow to make the most of every workout.

1. Do- Use the mirrors to your advantage.

The mirrors aren’t just there so meathead guys can flex their muscles and check themselves out; they actually do serve a useful purpose. You should perform exercises in front of the mirrors so that you can check your form and make sure you are performing the exercise correctly. This can help you avoid making mistakes that could prevent the exercise from being as effective, or even lead to injury. A lot of people are uncomfortable watching themselves during their workout, and it can be a bit awkward at first, but getting used to watching your form during each exercise will help you to make each rep count.

2. Don’t- Talk on the phone.

We get that sometimes this can’t be avoided, like when you’re waiting on a call but aren’t sure when to expect it, but for the most part, do you really need your phone in the gym? You’re only going to be in there for an hour or so, and pretty much anything can wait that long. It’s distracting to other people (not to mention annoying) to have someone chatting on their cell while walking on the treadmill or worse, standing in the way of others trying to move around the gym in order to take a call. It can also cause you to lose focus and miss out on getting in a good, hard workout. Leave your phone in the car or in your gym bag, and return any missed calls after your workout.

3. Do- Have a plan.

It’s a good idea to know before hitting the gym what exactly you’re planning to do once you get there. Separate your weight training days by muscle group (legs one day, chest the next, etc.), and at least have an idea of which exercises you’re going to do. It may also help to keep a notebook with sample workouts and number of sets/reps for each muscle group. This will help you stay on track and you’ll be less likely to leave the gym until you’ve finished what you planned to do.

4. Don’t- Block others in front of the mirror.

While it’s a good idea to use the mirror to check your form during a workout, you don’t want to prevent others from being able to do the same. Be mindful of others while choosing where to stand in the weight room, and make sure you aren’t blocking someone else from being able to see. It’s easy to forget that there are other people in the gym when you’ve got earphones in and are focused on doing your own thing, but remember to be courteous of other gym-goers who are trying to do so as well.

5. Do- Wipe down the equipment when you are done.

This one seems to be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone up to a bench or piece of equipment only to find that it’s covered in sweat. Gross! The gym is already a minefield of germs, so the least we can all do is clean up after ourselves. Sweating is inevitable during a great workout, but be polite and wipe down the machines after use. If you tend to sweat excessively, bring a towel to the gym with you to prevent dripping.

6. Don’t- Forget to hydrate!

Be sure to drink plenty of water during every workout to avoid dehydration and to keep your performance levels at their peak. Losing just 2% of your body weight in fluid during exercise can decrease performance up to 25%, and most people drastically underestimate how much they actually sweat during their fitness routine. To keep this from happening, try to drink a glass of water fifteen minutes before hitting the gym, and another eight ounces every fifteen minutes during exercise.

7. Do- Invest in the proper gym gear.

The right fabrics and fit can make or break your workout, so be sure you are adequately dressed for whatever type of exercise you plan on doing. Tight-fitting fabrics are ideal for both cardio and weight training to ensure that your clothing will not impede a vigorous cardio session and will allow you to better check your form while lifting weights. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that are gym-appropriate (we’ve all seen the guy who wears flip flops and khaki shorts to the gym!) and consider investing in a pair of fitness gloves for added comfort and ease while lifting heavy weights.

8. Don’t- Take too long on one piece of equipment.

I actually once saw an old man sit down on a leg extension machine and open up a newspaper to read…seriously?? The gym is not for your personal use only; there are others who want to use the equipment too. Just because there’s no one standing over you waiting for you to finish up on that weight bench doesn’t mean that someone isn’t keeping an eye on it so they can snag it as soon as you’re done. Avoid sitting for too long in between sets or stopping to text or chat with a friend while sitting on a bench or machine (another good reason to leave that phone at home!). Limit cardio sessions to thirty minutes per machine, and allow others to work in with you on the weight machines. Variety is key to a good workout anyway, so there’s really no need for you to be on that elliptical for a whole hour or clock in 100+ reps on the bench press.

9. Do- Ask for assistance.

If you don’t know how to use a particular piece of equipment, you need a spotter or just someone to double-check your form, don’t be afraid to ask! While not all of the gym staff and personal trainers have the same certifications (and no, not all certifications are created equal), they should be able help you with the basics, such as navigating the equipment if you’re a gym-newbie, and helping to ensure that you are performing exercises correctly and efficiently.

10. Don’t- Make loud noises such as grunting, yelling or dropping the weights.

Not only is doing so distracting and irritating to others, dropping the weights can be dangerous to others and damaging to the gym floor. If a weight is too heavy for you to safely re-rack it, you should be using a lighter weight. As for the grunting, is it really going to help you perform that rep? We think not. Focus instead on keeping your breathing normal and steady during each set.

FALL in Love with this Season’s Best Superfoods: Five foods you should be eating now!

The temperatures are beginning to drop, and cool-season crops are reaching their peak. Take advantage of this season’s superfoods with our five favorites and healthy ways to enjoy them. We bet you’ll fall in love!

1. Pumpkin:

Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte’s aren’t the only way to enjoy this festive fall favorite! A cup of cooked pumpkin serves up 200% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, which aids in healthy vision. Pumpkin is also a great source of fiber, potassium, and the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may help in the prevention of cancer. Even the seeds are healthy; they are rich in plant-based chemicals called phytosterols, which have been shown in studies to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Break away from plain ole pumpkin pies and breads and check out this incredible recipe below for Southwestern Pumpkin Burgers:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/southwestern_pumpkin_burgers.html

2. Acorn and Butternut Squash:

Acorn and butternut squash both peak during the fall season, and while they add flavor to lots of delicious dishes, they offer up some serious health benefits to boot. Like pumpkin, these seasonal superfoods are an excellent source of fiber and potassium. They also contain Vitamin C and carotenoids, which help in the prevention of heart disease. As if that weren’t enough, butternut squash has anti-inflammatory properties which help stave of inflammation-related diseases such as asthma and arthritis.

Warm up with this delicious and nutritious recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallot Soup:

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/top-rated-recipes/healthy-butternut-squash-recipes-00400000055219/page5.html

3. Swiss Chard:

This leafy-green veggie is a nutritional powerhouse, offering up Vitamins A, K, and C, along with magnesium, potassium, iron, and fiber. It also contains calcium for bone health, lutein for eye health, and biotin for healthy skin and hair. Even better? One cup contains just 35 calories. Eat both the leaves and stems to make the most of these amazing health benefits!

Enjoy this flavor-packed food with this tasty recipe for Sautéed Swiss Chard and Parmesan Cheese:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sauteed-swiss-chard-with-parmesan-cheese/

4. Turnips and Rutabagas:

These root vegetables are rich in glucosinolates, which help the liver to fight off toxins, fight carcinogens, and help prevent the growth of tumors. They are also packed with vitamins including vitamins A, C, E, manganese, and beta-carotene. They also help to lower cholesterol and contain excellent amounts of folate, a B vitamin critical to cardiovascular health. High in fiber, these cruciferous veggies help aid in digestion and weight loss.

Give your mashed potatoes a makeover with this mashed turnip and rutabaga recipe even the kids will love:

http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Mashed-Rutabaga-_yellow-Turnip-Or-Swede_-And-Potato-Recipezaar?columns=3&position=14%2F69

5. Pears:

Pears reach their peak between the months of August and February, and bring with them some pretty impressive health benefits. They contain a water-soluble fiber called pectin, which helps to lower cholesterol levels and regulate the digestive system. They are also an excellent source of Vitamins B2, C, E, copper, and potassium. Another interesting fact about pears is that they are considered a hypo-allergenic fruit, meaning that they are less likely to produce an adverse affect than other fruits. Because of this, doctors often recommend them as a good fruit to introduce to infants. Additionally, they contain glutathione, which helps to prevent high blood pressure and stroke, and they even can even help boost your immune system and give you a quick burst of energy. If that’s not enough, pears provide a cooling effect that can actually help bring down a fever.

Need another reason to eat more pears? This peary good recipe for Arugula and Pear Salad with Maple Vinaigrette should do the trick:

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/arugula-pear-salad-maple-vinaigrette-10000001132435/index.html

Other seasonal superfoods to try this fall:

  • Grapes
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Persimmons
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Cranberries

Happy Fall!

Ten Tips to Tone that Tummy and Blast Belly Fat for Good!

Tired of doing crunches everyday and still not melting that muffin top? The solution may be simpler than stepping up your sit-ups. The truth is, it’s just not possible to spot-train any one muscle group, and that includes your abdomen. Even if it’s the only problem area you struggle with, ab exercises alone aren’t enough to pulverize that pooch. The key to a toned tummy involves a combo of diet, cardio, and core-strengthening moves. Read on for our top ten tips to help you whittle your middle and have you strutting in your skinny jeans in no time!

1. Fill up with Fiber

Fiber not only fills you up, helping you to consume less calories during the day, but it also helps transport the foods you eat through your body quicker. This allows your body to absorb less calories, and banishes belly bloat to boot! Try to incorporate more fiber-rich fruits into your diet such as apples, berries, and pears, as well as whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Experts recommend getting 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily.

2. Own Your Omega-3s

We all know omega-3s are essential to a heart-healthy diet, but did you know they can also do wonders for your waistline? These healthy fats promote fat burning by making your metabolism more efficient. So, if you tend to carry a little extra pudge in your pants, upping your omega-3s will help to metabolize and melt that unwanted ab flab. Aim for at least two servings of fatty fish such as salmon or tuna per week, along with an ounce of almonds or peanuts (about 23) every day.

3. Perfect Your Proteins

The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn, and without protein you can’t build those muscles. The complex make-up of protein-rich foods make these foods harder for your body to digest, meaning your body uses more energy to digest them. In short, this means that you burn more calories when you eat protein. The amino acids found in protein also help speed up muscle recovery after a workout, helping you to build muscle more efficiently. To figure out how much protein you should be eating, multiply your body weight in pounds by .37. That number is the minimum amount of protein grams your body needs per day, but you may need more depending on how much you exercise. Make sure to stick to lean proteins such as turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, beans, and tofu.

4. Reach for Red Fruits

Recent studies have shown that compounds found in both watermelon and tomatoes help to reduce lipids (fat) in the blood which in turn helps to control belly fat. In one such study, women were given watermelon juice every day for eight weeks. The women ended up reducing their body weight and belly fat significantly more than those who were not given the watermelon juice. So add more tomatoes to your diet by topping a salad or using in soups and sauces, and enjoy a cup of cubed watermelon with breakfast or as a midday snack.

5. Keep up the Cardio

Everybody has a six pack; whether or not you can see it depends on how much fat it’s hiding behind. The best way to shed that extra layer around your abdomen is through cardiovascular exercise. As you lose extra fat, your skin will become more taut, and as the fat within your muscles decreases, you will begin to looked more toned. To reach that fat-burning zone, you want to get your heart rate up and keep it up for twenty minutes. For optimal fat-burning, shoot for five intense, twenty minute cardio sessions each week.

6. Target Your Core

Instead of doing endless sets of crunches which only work the rectus abdominis (the largest abdominal muscle), you need to pay attention to the other muscles that make up your core as well, such as your obliques and transversus abdominis (your “lower abs”). Target your core as a whole with moves such as medicine ball slams, planks, dumbbell side bends, sit-ups with a medicine ball toss, and twisting crunches. For more information on core strengthening moves and how to perform them properly, check out www.exrx.net.

7. Engage Your Abs

This is an easy little trick that you can do in and out of the gym. While working out in the gym, keep your back straight and tighten your abs during both cardio and weight training exercises. This way, even if you aren’t doing ab-specific workouts that day, you will still be engaging those abdominal muscles. When you’re not at the gym, practice good posture while standing and sitting, and keep those abs tight. Not only will you look better by standing up straighter, you’ll be getting in a little extra ab work too.

8. Stave Off Stress

Stress activates the secretion of cortisol, a hormone in our bodies that, at prolonged increased levels can lead to higher blood pressure, higher levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and ultimately, more belly fat. To keep cortisol levels under control, you need to learn to manage your stress levels in a healthy way. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or treating yourself to a monthly massage, be sure to find a stress reliever that keeps you cool under pressure.

9. Rest Up

Lack of sleep is another factor that can negatively affect your body’s cortisol levels. Not getting enough shut-eye messes with your body’s natural biorhythms, which can also trigger cravings for sugar and fatty foods. Not only that, but the longer you are up during the day, the more you’ll likely eat. That said, get 7 to 8 hours a night when possible.

10. Beware the Booze

While alcohol isn’t the only culprit in developing the dreaded “beer belly,” there is something to the saying. When you drink alcohol, your body burns that off first, meaning that it blocks your body’s ability to burn fat. Add to that the fact that when drinking, we don’t always use our best judgement when choosing what foods to eat, and often eat more or less healthy foods than we typically would, and you have a recipe for belly fat. The best thing you can do is stick to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for alcohol consumption: one drink per day for women, and two for men.

One Last Word…

The most important thing to remember is that there is no magical pill for toning your tummy. If there were, we’d all be on it. It takes hard work and a lot of patience to get the results you desire. So skip the pills and powders and contraptions that claim to magically melt away your muffin top, and remember that diet and exercise are the only real keys to success.

Just….don’t.

 

 

Sip Your Way into Labor Day: Low-cal cocktails that won’t destroy your diet!

Labor Day weekend is here again, and with it comes plenty of festivities and fun! With the end of summer drawing near, most of us want to kick back with a refreshing drink (or two!) and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts. However, it can sometimes be tricky sticking to a sensible diet with all of the fruity frozen coladas and monster margaritas served at pool parties and backyard barbecues. These innocent-looking libations can easily pack up to 700 calories; even more than those cheeseburgers sizzling on the grill! You shouldn’t have to give up your favorite beverages just because you’re watching your waistline, so we’ve uncovered five fabulous cocktail recipes that will spare you some calories but still allow you to kick back and enjoy your Labor Day weekend, drink in hand!

1. Pina Colada Cooler

Calories: 165

  • 1 1/2 oz. coconut flavored rum
  • 3 oz. pineapple juice
  • 4 oz. sparkling water
  • 1 tbs. Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut Lite (you can find this in the drink mixer section of most grocery stores)

Pour ingredients over ice and stir.

2. Raspberry Refresher

Calories: 115

  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 8 oz. Minute Maid Light Raspberry Passion
  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka (or raspberry flavored vodka)

Combine ingredients in a blender. Garnish with fresh raspberries if desired.

3. Made-over Mojito

Calories: 140

  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. Splenda syrup
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 7 mint leaves
  • splash of club soda
  • 1 lime wedge

In a shaker, muddle together mint leaves and lime wedge. Add ice and other ingredients and shake. Pour into tall glass and top with soda.

4. Slimmer Sangria (makes 10 eight-oz. servings)

Calories: 94

  • 1 12 oz. can mango juice
  • 1 12 oz. can pineapple juice
  • 1 liter seltzer
  • 1 bottle white wine
  • your favorite fruit (pineapple/orange slices and strawberries work well)

Slice up the fruit. Combine all ingredients in large pitcher and add ice. Stir and refrigerate so flavors blend together.

5. Slender Sauzarita

Calories: 150

  • 10 oz. Sauza Blue Silver Tequila
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • 3 oz. lime juice
  • 3 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. agave nectar

Combine ingredients in a pitcher filled with ice. Stir vigorously, pour into a margarita glass, and garnish with a slice of lime.

Happy Labor Day!