Archive for the ‘Diet and Nutrition’ Category

Burning the Fat

Trying to decipher all of the fitness and diet information out there can be so confusing.  I’m always looking for realistic advice on maintaining my weight, exercise, and what the best foods are to aid in fat loss.

As I was searching for information on losing fat, I kept coming across information on the book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. It seemed like everywhere I looked, there was someone talking about it. I decided to go to the website to see what the hype is all about. The author of the book, Tom Venuto, is a natural bodybuilder and has written a lot of articles for different fitness and bodybuilding magazines. After reading all the testimonials about the book, I continued to read about his experiences and the knowledge he has gained over the years in regard to bodybuilding without supplements. It seems like he really knows what he’s talking about. He doesn’t pull any punches when talking about all of the lies and misconceptions on losing weight, exercise, and supplements. I signed up to his newsletter and also a 12 part mini course on “Big Fat Lies”.

I just completed reading the 12th part of Big Fat Lies and the whole series was quite eye opening. I’ve learned some pretty interesting things on all the lies that are spewed on the public and they all make perfect sense. The bottom line is you get out what you put in. The only REAL way to lose weight and be fit is to work hard for it. There are no miracles.

Fats – Good and Bad

Having heard so much about trans fats lately and how New York City has banned the use of them in restaurants, I wanted to find out more about them and why they are so bad. I thought you may be interested too.

Trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to help make them solid. They can also be referred to as partially hydrogenated oil. Restaurants like to use them for their fried foods as they makes the food taste good, have a long shelf life, and are pretty inexpensive to make. Unfortunately, they are not good for your health, as they raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

There are four different types of fat: trans, saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. The first two, trans and saturated, are not good for you. Trans fat can be found in a lot of fried foods and baked goods, and most stick margarine has trans fat. Saturated fats can be found in red meat and dairy products. Trans and saturated fats can clog arteries and may increase your risk for heart disease.  The other two, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, are much better choices. Polyunsaturated helps to lower your bad cholesterol and is found in fish like salmon, herring, and trout, as well as many nuts and seeds. Monounsaturated can be found in oils like olive, canola, and soybean. These are oils that are recommended when you fry or saute food. Even though these fats are better for you than trans and saturated fats, they still should be eaten in moderation. There is a lot of information at the American Heart Association if you want to learn more.

We all need some fat in our diet, but when you have a choice, choose foods made with poly or mono unsaturated fat. Your body will thank you for it!

Artificial Sweeteners

When I started researching artificial sweeteners I was overwhelmed with information, both pro and con. What I have tried to do is take that wealth of information and boil it down to a quick summary that might peak your curiosity. I hope you will research sweeteners in more depth after you read my post and then make an educated decision on the use of artificial sweeteners.


You probably know this sweetener best by the name “Sweet and Low”. Sweet-and-Low has been around for a very long time and its available in almost every restaurant and many homes. I was a regular user a long time ago until I started hearing it being linked to cancer. For a time there was talk that it might get banned. This was before the internet was popular so all we had to go on without extensive research was what we heard on the news or read in the newspapers. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I’m also not naive. I understand the influence Corporate America has so based on the chatter I was seeing I stopped using it. It has since been determined that the naysayers could have been mistaken and it might only cause cancer in rats.

Nutra Sweet and Equal

After Saccharin there was a lot of buzz about this wonderful new sweetener called Nutra Sweet or Equal made from aspartame. It was much better tasting than saccharin and much better for your health.  Pretty soon popular “diet” foods and drinks were being made with aspartame. As this sweetener started to gain popularity there were bits of information trickling out about how it may cause memory loss. There was also concern that you shouldn’t use it if you are pregnant since they did not know what it would do to a fetus. Despite the talk it is still going strong after all these years. The FDA claims it is safe but there is a lot of evidence from independent researchers that says it may not be.

Splenda or Sucralose

When this sweetener first came on the market it was being sold with the claim that it’s made from sugar. It might start from sugar but is so chemically altered that they had to change their claims. It is still relatively new so no one really knows what the long term effects may be. There is evidence that it may cause quite a few different problems, some mild and some severe. Only time will tell whether or not it is a safe product.
Here is an article with a summary of pros and cons for these artificial sweeteners.

Stevia – Truvia – PureVia

From all reading I have done this sounds like one of the best choices for sweeteners. It is a natural, no calorie sweetener that is native to areas of Paraguay. It has been used for centuries and is very popular today in Japan, areas of South America, China, Germany, Malaysia, Israel, Australia and South Korea. There are not any known ill effects from using Stevia as a sweetener. It has been sold in the United States in health food stores for quite some time but only as a dietary supplement. It was not lawful as a sweetener until recently. It is now being sold in grocery stores under the name Truvia. Pepsico and Whole Earth Sweetener Company have introduced PureVia,  their Stevia product. Some drinks and foods are starting to be made using Stevia. How exciting to think of being able to drink and eat sweetened products without the fear of health problems!

I am no expert when it comes to chemical or natural sweeteners but I hope this has enlightened you and encourages you to study your choices when that sweet tooth starts calling.