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What you always needed to know about health, nutrition and fitness to get and stay healthy and fit.

Healthy Eating

Good nutrition is essential in maintaining good health, which can be done by eating vitamin and mineral loaded foods on a regular basis. Eating healthy isn’t difficult to do. Good food consists of:

  • Beans
  • Fruits
  • Nonfat dairy (cottage cheese, skimmed milk, quark, fromage frais, yogurt, etc.)
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Seafood
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Nutrients have an array of roles that include:

  • B Vitamins – B-vitamins are water soluble and play a role in essential bodily functions like making red blood cells and energy production.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D – Get enough calcium and vitamin D for strong bones.
  • Iron and Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps increase iron absorption and promotes the immune system.
  • Protein – Proteins serve as a source of energy and helps with the growth and maintenance of muscles.

Why should I make healthy food choices?

When you have a healthy diet, you decrease the chance of becoming obese and suffering with obesity-related diseases like:

  • Cancer (colon, breast, endometrial)
  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stroke

The food eaten should contain all kinds of nutrients… necessary to the many important bodily processes. Some of the essential nutrients in your diet include:

What is a healthy balanced diet?

When it comes to a balanced diet, you need to give your body the fiber and nutrients it needs. The five key food groups include:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Protein
  • Sugar and fats

When it comes to eating food from the above five groups, you need to get a varied and healthy balance to stay fit and well.

Carbohydrates

Starchy foods are high in carbohydrates and give your body energy which is slowly released during the day. Make sure to eat starchy foods for your key energy source. Healthy carbs can give a feeling of fullness, and leave you less likely to eat high-calorie snacks during the course of the day.

Starchy foods should consist of about one-third of the food eaten.

The foods that are regarded as starchy include:

  • Barley
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Millet
  • Noodles
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Yam

However, when you eat these foods, make sure they have the wholegrain or whole meal types like brown rice because they tend to have high amounts of fiber and make you feel fuller for longer.

The majority of people need to include more starchy foods in their diet; eating one starchy food at every key meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) is an ideal practice.

Many people are under the misconception that starchy foods are extremely fattening. In fact, the calorie count in each gram of carbohydrate is about 45-50% the calorie count of a gram of fat.

Fruits and vegetables

When you want to eat your body’s vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, fruits and vegetables are the best sources. Eat at least 5 portions of fresh, juiced, dried, tinned, or frozen fruits and vegetables daily.

A single portion of fruit and vegetables includes:

  • 1 banana, pear, orange, or apple
  • 1 slice of pineapple, melon, or other large fruit
  • 1 tbsp of dried fruit such as apricots, prunes, raisins
  • 10-15 small fruits such as berries, cherries, or grapes
  • 2 kiwifruit, satsumas, plums or other small fruits

Milk and dairy products

Dairy products are great sources of vitamins, calcium and, of course, protein, and include:

  • Milk
  • Cheese (soft and hard cheese)
  • Yogurt
  • Milkshakes

Be sure to go for low-fat choices like skim or semi-skim milk.

Protein

Protein sources (non-dairy) include eggs, nuts, fish, soya, lentils, peas and beans.

Seafood and fish are a great source of protein. It’s a good idea to eat one or two portions of fish each week. Oily fish is ideal because it is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Now, you don’t have to consume fresh fish all the time. Canned and frozen fish is enough to give you the beneficial protein, vitamins and minerals. Be mindful though that smoked fish and canned are generally high in sodium (salt).

What fish constitutes oily fish?

  • Carp
  • Herring
  • Kipper
  • Mackerel
  • Pilchards
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Swordfish
  • Trout
  • Tuna (fresh only)

If you want to go with fish that’s non-oily, you can choose from:

  • Cod
  • Coley
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Lemon sole
  • Monkfish
  • Plaice
  • Sea bass
  • Tuna (tinned)

Be sure to vary your fish choices to get as much variety in the diet as you can.

Some kinds of meat are loaded with fat, which is why you should remove the skin and fat. When you cook fish or meat, be sure to grill, poach or bake it instead of frying it. Keep the amount of processed meat eaten down since this is high in fat and can heighten the risks of bowel cancer.

High fat, high sugar foods

Fat is an essential part of a well-balanced food plan, but you don’t need much. Be mindful of the fat you consume.

There are two kinds of fat:

  • Saturated
  • Unsaturated

An excessive amount of saturated fats can boost your blood cholesterol level, which can lead to heart disease.

Eat foods with unsaturated fats:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios and walnuts)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Oils (canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame and soybean)
  • Olives
  • Oily Fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sesame and sunflower)

Avoid (or at least moderate) foods that are loaded with saturated fat:

  • Biscuits
  • Butter
  • Cakes
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Ghee
  • Ice Cream
  • Lard
  • Pastries
  • Sausages

Reduce Your Sugar Intake

The majority of people consume a high amount of sugar. When it comes to sugary drinks and foods – this includes alcohol – many consume it in excessive amounts. These foods are generally high in calories, and when consumed excessively, can lead to a quick gain in weight. Sugary foods also lead to tooth decay.

In order to reduce the amount of sugar you take in, be sure to reduce or eliminate the following foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Biscuits
  • Candies
  • Cake
  • Cereals
  • Ice Cream
  • Jams & spreads
  • Milkshakes
  • Pastries
  • Sodas

Sugars that are in milk and fruit can be consumed.

Be sure to read food labels to determine the amount of sugar in the food. If you see the total sugars exceed 22.5 grams per 100 grams, it’s safe to say the food is loaded with sugar. 5 grams per 100 grams is closer to an acceptable amount.

And, even though you get a burst of energy from sugary foods – biscuits and sweets – you don’t get a lot of nutrients from them. These foods also lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Limit how much you eat of these foods.

Eat Less Sodium (salt)

Even though you may not add salt at meal time, you could still be eating an excessive amount. Nearly 75% of all salt eaten is already contained in the store-bought food.

Eat small portions of these foods that are often high in salt:

  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • Gravy granules
  • Ham
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Salami
  • Salted and dry roasted nuts
  • Sausages
  • Soy sauce

Other foods that can be high in salt (varies with the process and brand) include:

  • Baked beans
  • Bread products (bread, scones, sandwiches, crumpets, etc.)
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Cooking sauces
  • Pizza
  • Ready meals
  • Soup
  • Tinned pasta

A high amount of salt can cause your blood pressure to rise. And, people that suffer from high blood pressure are at higher risk of stroke or heart disease.

Be sure you read food labels to reduce the salt consumption. High salt content is more than 1.5 grams per 100 grams. Children (aged 11+) and adults should consume less than 6 grams of salt daily. Children, younger than 11, should be even more restrictive with salt intake.

Drink fluids to avoid dehydration

A healthy fluid intake is six to eight glasses daily to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Beside water, milk is the next healthiest drink you can consume.

Avoid fizzy and sugary drinks because they’re loaded with calories and sugar, and these drinks may lead to tooth decay. Also, restrict unsweetened fruit juice to just one 150ml glass daily for the reason it is very sugary.

Fluid intake (six to eight glasses) is on top of the food eaten. Foods high in water as well as nutrients include:

Bear in mind that when you’re active, or when the weather turns warm, you need to take in more fluids to compensate.

Fitness: FAQ’s

Are you looking to get strong? Do you want to get the athletic look? Here are 11 frequently asked questions asked about fitness and exercise.

Fitness FAQs

 

1 – What is the best time to exercise?

The first thing everyone needs to understand is that exercise can take place anytime of the day or night. It’s all down to personal preference. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you wake with morning aches and pains, don’t exercise until later in the day. Other people do better with a morning workout.

If you eat a large meal, you should not exercise for up to two hours. Exercising right after eating could cause stomach aches, stomach cramps and nausea.

2 – Should you eat before a workout?

It’s a good idea to eat a light snack or meal before exercising. Do not eat foods that are loaded with sugar like soft drinks. They’ll give you the energy you want, but give you the sudden crash that you don’t want.

Good foods to eat (1-2 hours) before a workout include:

  • Breads
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Raisins
  • Rice
  • Vegetables
  • Yogurt Smoothie

Use starchy foods, fluids, heart-healthy fats, and lean protein to ensure your energy levels stay high while you exercise.

3 – How important is warming up?

It’s important that you warm up before a workout. When you fail to warm-up, the exercise routine won’t be nearly as effective. After all, your muscles are not warm and are not as flexible – this can lead to possible injury.

A warm-up exercise involves gentle, slow movements, which you will eventually increase in intensity.

  • Frankenstein walk
  • Hip extensions
  • Jump rope
  • Leg Swings (forward or side)
  • Pushups
  • Spiderman steps
  • Squats (body weight)
  • Walking lunges

Spend 8-10 minutes warming up your muscles, readying them for the planned workout. This warm-up activity will give muscles oxygen where, working with glucose, will generate energy. The body will work better and provide a more efficient workout.

4 – What Is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic activity (also known as endurance activity) is any kind of exercise that uses the body’s large muscles for an extended period of time in a rhythmic movement. Aerobic activity also helps to strengthen the body’s heart and lungs.

List of aerobic activities:

This kind of activity is important for three things:

  • Calorie burn
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Weight management

Adults should make the time for 30 minutes (at minimum) of moderate-level intensity aerobic exercise at least five days weekly.

5 – Why is strength training a must for everyone?

Everyone can benefit from a regular strength training session to help the body fight the loss of strength, bone mass, and muscle that is associated with age. Strength training can be done at the local gym or at home.

Good choices include:

  • Body weight (abdominal crunches, Burpee, leg squats, plank, pull-ups, pushups, rollout)
  • Free weights (barbells, dumbbells)
  • Resistance tubing
  • Weight machines

Physical and mental health benefits of this kind of training include an improvement in:

  • Balance
  • Bone density
  • Joint strengthening
  • Muscle tone and strength
  • Pain management
  • Posture
  • Self-esteem
  • Stability

6 – Should you do cardio or strength training first?

The answer to this question depends on what you are looking for. Many personal trainers feel strength training should be done before any cardio training because it increases the fat being used during the cardio workout. Strength training will use the muscle store of carbohydrates for energy.

But, strength training isn’t likely to use up the glycogen stores, since much of the workout time is spent resting between exercises and sets. You could have an intense workout, but if you exercise in a state where the glycogen is depleted, there could be some negative consequences to it. Such issues include hypoglycemia, rise in muscle and blood ammonia and fatigue.

There is no definite research into which is better: cardio first or strength training first. It all depends on what your goal is:

  • If you want to lose weight or increase your aerobic endurance, then do cardiovascular first.
  • If you want to increase muscle mass, then do your strength training first.

The idea is to do the kind of training you’re looking for when you’re not tired out. Of course, many people want to lose weight and bulk up to, which is why workouts should be alternated during various training cycles.

When you do strength training, it causes your ability to do your daily tasks without feeling winded to rise. Thus, the more muscle mass you’ve got, the easier your body will burn calories, even when you’re not working out. In fact, for every one pound of muscle, your body will burn 50 calories extra a day.

7 – Why is it important to cool down after exercise?

As soon as you work out is over, you need to do some cool down exercises. This starts a gradual decrease in the heart rate, lowers body temperature, and reduces lactic acid buildup. It will also decrease muscle stiffness, soreness and injury.

Be sure to continue the activity for 5-10 minutes at a low-intensity. All of this will help to increase your flexibility.

8 – Do you need to stretch before or after exercise?

Stretching is essential because it helps the posture, balance and flexibility. Proper stretching relies on slowly stretching the muscle out until you start to notice resistance. This is when you feel a slight pull, no pain. Each stretch should be held for about 15-20 seconds.

While you stretch, be sure you breathe regularly and deeply. Do not hold your breath, and make sure to fully warm up before stretching. A full stretching routine is best performed after exercise when the muscles are warm and relaxed.

9 – Do I need a break day when exercising?

If you plan on doing intense exercises or anything that requires a high level of intensity for your muscles, it’s often demanded – by your body – that you take a rest day.

Rest days are necessary because they help the body repair and strengthen between exercise routines. If you over-train your body, it can weaken the body, and cause you to injure yourself or fall sick.

10 – What should my target heart rate be?

The target heart rate, which is what you use to determine an activity’s desired intensity, differs based on what your goal is for the workout. A way to determine what your target heart rate is to use a percentage of your heart rate maximum (HRMax) and subtracting your age from 220. You can also measure your heart rate while do you a maximum exercise test. It can also be determined by using the resting heart rate (RHR).

Keep in mind that this will change with age and fitness improvement. And, your target heart rate should be 65 to 80 percent of the HRmax. When doing interval training, the target heart rate needs to be 80 percent or more of the HRmax.

11 – What to drink during your workout?

Make sure to get a regular intake of fluid if you plan to exercise for more than 25-30 minutes. If you plan to exercise at a low intensity, water is more often than not suitable up to 40-45 minutes.

Stay hydrated during exercise with:

  • Chocolate milk
  • Coconut water
  • Sports drink
  • Vitamin water
  • Water (plain)

A sports drink can keep up your energy levels with the salt helping to preserve hydration. Pick drinks that have sodium in them if you plan on working out for longer than 60 minutes or any time when you’ll lose salt through sweat.

Weight Loss: Advice

You must make sure to eat better, exercise and make lifestyle changes to ensure a serious weight loss effort can be achieved over time.

Weight Loss

 

1 – Why you should never skip breakfast

Most people make the false assumption that skipping breakfast helps to lose weight. However, eating breakfast is said to help maintain weight as it avoids overeating later in the day. Therefore, eating a healthy breakfast can play an integral role in a balanced diet and gives the vitamins and minerals needed for all-round health.

Healthy breakfast ideas include:

  • Blueberry waffles
  • Cereals (fiber-rich bran flakes with low-fat or fat-free milk)
  • Fruit and cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut butter waffle
  • Scrambled eggs with goat cheese, asparagus, and smoked salmon
  • Smoothie

2 – Get into a regular eating pattern

Be sure you eat meals on a regular basis, so calories will burn at a faster rate. It also decreases your desire to eat junk food that is loaded with unhealthy fats and sugars.

3 – Drink more water

Being thirsty can give the same reaction as hunger, so you may eat extra calories when all you need is water. Be sure to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid – water mainly – daily. If it’s warmer outside or if you are exercising, you need more.

4 – Increase your activity level

A non-sedentary lifestyle is essential for weight loss. Regular physical activity can provide plenty of health benefits and burn off the extra calories you consume that cannot be lost through dieting alone. Be sure to take part in an activity you like.

5 – Fiber-rich foods you should be eating

Be sure to consume foods that are high in fiber to help keep your stomach full for a longer period of time. Fiber can be found in all kinds of food like:

6 – Control portion size with a small plate

Use a small plate to help control portion size and still be satisfied. When you use a small plate, you’ll start to eat smaller amounts without being left with a feeling of hunger. Keep in mind the stomach needs about 15-20 minutes to let the brain know it is full. Pace the eating habits and stop before getting full.

7 – Better weekly meal planning

The best thing you can do to ensure you stay within your calorie count is to plan your meals out – breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner. Be sure to create a healthy grocery list and avoid visiting the store when you are hungry because you are likely to purchase high-calorie and unhealthy food and snacks.

8 – Take a closer look at food labels

If you know how to properly read nutrition labels it is much easier to make the best food choices. Be sure to take notice of the calorie count and cut down on sugar, salt and fat content. Use the guidelines to determine how the food forms part of a well-planned diet program.

9 – Don’t stock the pantry with funk food

If you want to avoid temptation, you need to eliminate junk food. This often includes:

  • Chips
  • Chocolate
  • French fries
  • Ice Cream
  • Pork skins
  • Sodas

The best thing you can do is stock up on the healthy snacks like:

  • Carrot cake cookies
  • Fruit (whole or juiced)
  • Oat cakes
  • Popcorn (unsweetened/unsalted)
  • Rice cakes (unsalted)
  • Trail mix

10 – Don’t ban it entirely

When you’re dieting and have a craving, it’s okay to give in every now and then. If you ban certain kinds of foods, you set yourself up to crave them more often. You can always eat a special treat every now and then, but you need to remember two things:

  • Keep within the daily calorie allowance
  • Eat in moderation

11 – A mission to moderate drinking

It’s okay to have a glass of red wine every now and then – although, you may not realize that a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate have similar calories. If you drink excessively, you are setting yourself up for weight gain over time.

A serving of alcohol can include:

  • Gin & Tonic = 120 calories
  • Red Wine (100ml) = 76 calories
  • Rum (25ml) = 58 calories
  • Vodka & Coke = 120 calories
  • Whiskey (25ml) = 56 calories
  • White Wine (100ml) = 75 calories

Superfoods: What Are They

Superfoods are regarded as those foods with a high amount of nutrients, which make them so worthwhile for human consumption. These foods tend to have huge amounts of nutrients and antioxidants – things the body is unable to produce.

Healthy Eating
There is no definitive superfood list, but there are several popular foods that are often seen on a “superfood list”, including:

Antioxidants: What Are They?

Antioxidants are molecules that can neutralize free radicals (groups of atoms) in the body. These atoms are unstable substances caused by oxidization and leads to various diseases like heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants include:

  • Beta-carotene & other carotenoids
  • Lycopene
  • Vitamins A, C and E
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Superfoods contain a significant amount of minerals, fatty acids and vitamins and provide greater protection against a number of ailments compared to regular food. Add these foods to a varied and well-balanced diet.

Superfoods do have much the same nutrients as other natural food sources, but in greater amounts. This means it isn’t necessary to eat a lot of these foods to receive the benefits. The message is simple: good health means eating whole grains, fruit and vegetables and carbohydrates (good) and eating less processed foods and animal protein.

Supplements: Muscle-building

One of the most important parts of any diet is protein. It helps to build and maintain all kinds of body tissue such as muscle. Protein also has amino acids, which is essential for muscle growth.

Muscle Listing

Protein enrichment in the form of bars, capsules and shakes are the most commonly used muscle-building options. These are store-bought online or over the counter. They’re often sold as a means to up the body’s metabolism and/or muscle growth promotion – all of this to ensure the body is able to fight the signs of aging, increase energy, and attain peak physical performance.

Protein supplements include:

  • Weight Gainers
  • Meal Replacement Powders (MRPs)
  • Protein Powders

Protein supplements are intended for pre or post workout – as well as during training – to better the performance and aid recovery. Muscle-building protein powders are also put in shakes to offer a nutritious between meal snack.

But similar benefits are possible by eating food-based snacks high in protein or putting powder in regular meals to up the protein count. Protein shakes are quick and easy to prepare, but not always a practical choice for a meal replacement, as they are unable to provide all the nutrients a well-balanced meal contains.

Foods that are high in protein include:

  • Beans – 8g of protein per cup of Edamame
  • Chicken Brest – 26g of protein per 80g serving of Chicken
  • Cheese – 21g of protein per 6-ounce serving of Cottage Cheese
  • Eggs – 6g of protein per medium egg
  • Fish (halibut, salmon and tuna) – 19g of protein per 85g serving of cooked Salmon
  • Lamb – 23g of protein per 75g serving of Lamb
  • Lean Beef – 28g of protein per 4-ounce serving of Grass-Fed Beef
  • Cow’s Milk – 8g of protein per 1 cup of Milk
  • Nuts & Seeds – 6g of protein per 50 Pistachio Nuts or 13g per ¼ cup of Hemp Seeds
  • Pork Loin (Chops) – 16g of protein per 85g serving of cooked Pork
  • Tofu – 6g of protein per 1 slice serving of Tofu
  • Yogurt – 18g of protein per 6-ounce serving of Greek Yogurt

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