Smart Snacking: My New Favorite Snack

I have to share an amazing snack I tried today. I’ve raved about Quest Protein Bars in Protein Bars: The Good and the Bad and now I’m going to rave about another product from Quest that is equally satisfying and delicious; QUEST Protein Chips! Yes, these are HEALTHY potato chips AND they taste good!

My friend at GNC recommended Barbeque flavor, which I tried and loved, but there are also Sea Salt and Cheddar flavors available.

QUEST BBQ chips

Just take a look at the nutrition facts and see for yourself how good this product is.

Nutrition facts

These baked chips are Gluten free, contain no Soy, no trans or saturated fats, and the total net carbs are only 5 grams. But you know what my favorite thing about these chips is??? 21 GRAMS OF PROTEIN!!! HOW GREAT IS THAT?! Not only is it a delicious snack it has substantial nutrition! Okay, obviously I’m a little excited about these chips, but seriously they are amazing and I hope you give them a try.

Advertisements

Protein Bars: The Good and the Bad

There are a gazillion different protein bars out there, some of the most popular include the Luna Bar, Cliff Bar, Think Thin, etc. The problem with many of the most popular protein bars is that they are lacking in the very purpose they are supposed to serve; PROTEIN! Look at the nutrition facts of your favorite protein bar. How many grams of protein does it actually have? Now look at how many grams of carbs there are? What about the fat content and don’t forget about sugar, how many grams of that does it have? In the most popular protein bars, you will often find that the number of grams of protein is LESS than the number of grams of carbs. If you’re about to run a marathon, then the extra carbs are fine. But it you are trying to ward off hunger with a protein bar in between meals, or if it is part of your regular diet as a protein supplement, then the extra carbs really aren’t working in your favor.

Here’s what you should be looking at when choosing a protein bar.

PROTEIN: 20 grams of protein is a good amount. Anything less than 20 grams of protein would make me reconsider eating a protein bar entirely. On the other hand, more than about 25-30 grams of protein is generally more protein than you need at one time and usually when the protein is that high, you can bet that the carbs are going to be just as high or higher.

CARBOHYDRATES: Look for two things, Total Carbs and Net Effective Carbs (or Net Carbs). These number should be quite different, the Total Carbohydrates should be less than 30 grams and ideally around 20 grams, whereas the Net Carbs should be around 3-7 grams. Net Carbs are the carbs that cause an increase in blood sugar so you want the number of grams for net carbs to be very low.

FAT: There are three different listings for fat on the nutrition facts; Total Fat, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat. The Total fat should be around 6-8 grams. If it’s higher than that, you might be holding a candy bar. Saturated fat- there’s been some recent debate as to whether or not saturated fat is healthy but it should be around 0-2 grams. Trans fat should be 0 grams. It’s very unhealthy fat and no good quality protein bar will ever have trans-fat.

SUGAR: The sugar should be very low, 3-6 grams at the most. There are also some options that are sugar free and use stevia instead to sweeten.

My current FAVORITE protein bar is a QUEST BAR. They generally contain 20-22 grams of protein, 3-4 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of total fat and most are sugar free. The fiber is also high, about 18 grams so that’s an added bonus. They come in so many flavors and they are just Awesome!!!

Another alternative when I get tired of quest bars is GNC PUREDGE COMPLETE PROTEIN. They have around 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of total fat and about 3 grams of sugar. They are also high in fiber at around 15 grams.

ANSI NATURAL PROTEIN BAR is a third healthy option. They contain around 20 grams of protein, 7 grams of net carbs, 6 grams of total fat and about 6 grams of sugar. They are HIGH in fiber at around 20 grams!

 

Those are my current favorites. Look at the nutrition facts on your current favorite protein bar and  see how it compares. If the nutrition facts are no where near the numbers above, then definitely give one of these three a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

Why is Sugar Bad for Beauty?

You’ve probably heard that too much sugar is bad for your waistline, bad for your teeth and bad for your body in general. Did you know sugar is bad for your skin and ingesting large amounts of sugar can cause you to age more quickly? Have you ever woken up and noticed your face looked puffy or swollen? Much of the time, this is caused by too much sugar in the diet and here’s why:

As soon as you eat anything with sugar, your body breaks down the sugar (carbohydrates) into glucose. Glucose causes insulin levels to rise and too much sugar causes “spikes” in the insulin levels. The spiking insulin levels are what give you that burst of energy, which is generally followed by a feeling of being tired or lethargic. This spike in insulin levels also results in inflammation, and inflammation affects your skin by producing enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. This eventually results in wrinkles and sagging of the skin. Additionally, any carbohydrate (sugar) that is not used right away gets stored as fat, and for women that means generally on your waistline, hips and thighs.

Today there is sugar in so many foods, so how do you know what to eat and what not to eat? Here are my quick tips:

  • Stay away from all REFINED and SUPER –RREFINED sugars. Refined and Super-Refined sugars are what cause the rapid spikes in insulin and that are bad for your body and skin. They are also known as simple carbohydrates, and they provide a short burst of energy, no nutritional value and they are strenuous on the body to process and digest. Refined literally means that all the color and impurities are removed. The white granulated sugar that we use for baking or stir into coffee is an example of refined sugar. Other obvious examples of refined sugars are in cookies, cakes, donuts, etc. Super-refined sugar is what ends up in manufactured products such as soda and is hidden in the ingredients of many foods you might not suspect including all kinds of white bread, frozen meals, tomato sauce, canned foods, salad dressing, and the list goes on and on. Next time you’re at the store, read the list of ingredients on everything you put into your cart and you might be amazed at all the sugar you eat without even knowing it!

 

  • Sugar that you eat should be in the form of a complex carbohydrate, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit (just don’t overdo it on the fruit; one serving a day is plenty). These sugars provide energy as well as nutrition for the body and are much easier for the body to digest. In fact, complex carbohydrates are generally high in fiber and are therefore essential to the body to aide in digestion. Sugar is also in many dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, which are good sources of protein so you shouldn’t eliminate these from your diet. Just go with a yogurt that is low in sugar or plain yogurt. For cheese, no more than one serving a day (typically 1-2 ounces) is fine, and stick with a more firm cheese, such as cheddar.

A great way to commit to being a fit and fabulous female is to start monitoring your sugar intake. If you currently consume a lot of foods with refined sugars, then I don’t recommend trying to quit all of them, all at once. Your body will actually be addicted to sugar if you consume it regularly enough so you will have to slowly remove foods from your diet in order to avoid headaches and major cravings. Message me for tips on how to cut down on your sugar intake. If you don’t consume foods with refined sugars very often, then good for you! Too much of the wrong kind of sugar is just bad for health and beauty, plain and simple.

Keep Stress OUT of the Gym!

We all know that prolonged stress can negatively affect our mind and bodies. We also know that working out is possibly the healthiest way to relieve stress. But do you ever find yourself working out to relieve stress and yet you are still thinking about the things that stress you out? Or are there things you encounter during the workout itself that stress you out? I think we could all agree that if there was an easy way we could reduce the stress in our lives we would do it! Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to reduce our individual life stresses, which consequently, just thinking about can add more stress! You may not be able to remove all the stress in your life, but you can at least try to focus on not allowing stress into your workouts.

 

The gym where I work out in the evenings used to have the music on REALLY LOUD! It was so loud, that even with my headphones and music on, I could still hear the gym’s music. I was forced to turn up the volume of my music in order to block out the gym’s music but I can only handle loud volumes of music for a certain amount of time. One night, the music was louder than usual, and I was having trouble focusing on my workout because of it. I became so irritated and stressed out by the loud music, I had to leave the gym after only about 15 minutes. I was angry and upset because I hadn’t finished my workout but I didn’t want to continue because the loud music was causing me too much stress and I simply could not focus. The next day I contacted the gym and asked if they would lower the volume of the music at night and much to my relief they did. No more unbearably loud music while I’m working out!

 

I know that my experience with the gym’s loud music was a small stressor considering what some deal with, but it was enough to make me leave the gym. The point is, try to avoid anything that you know or discover that causes you stress while you are working out. Maybe you need to not answer calls while you’re working out or leave your phone in the locker. Maybe you need to have a workout buddy to help distract you from your life stresses when you’re working out. Whatever it is, try to be very aware of anything that stresses you while you’re working out and figure out what you need to do to eliminate that stress. You owe it to yourself to have at least one part of your day where all you have to do is focus on YOU!

Post Workout Recovery

I want to share my tips for post workout recovery. Maybe you’ve heard of post workout meal, referring to the meal, snack or shake you consume after working out to help muscle repair. A post workout recovery is more than just the meal; there are several steps in the process including eating properly, replacing fluids, stretching, and resting. Here are a few tips based on what I do.

 

REFUEL: Immediately after I’ve finished my strength training exercises, I like to start drinking a protein shake that I’ve prepared in advance of my workout. I normally like to shoot for at least 25 grams of protein in this shake and I use a protein that is quickly absorbed such a whey or soy. OR if I’m working out close to my bed time, I’ll use a medium absorbing protein that gives me immediate muscle repair benefits plus recovery all night. Read more in Protein Powders: A Quick Overview. I try to “down” the protein shake in about 5 minutes since our muscles absorb the most protein within about 20 minutes post workout. NOTE: If you aren’t getting any protein after an intense work out, you are doing more damage than good to your body for the most part. In order to build muscle, you have to do resistance training, which breaks down muscle. After your work out, your body immediately goes to work rebuilding the broken down muscle and it uses the energy source that is most available. So by not providing your body with the energy it needs to recover, it will actually start breaking down existing muscle to try to repair the damage. Talk about a lose, lose situation!

 

HYDRATION: I follow the protein shake with hydration. Water or Gatorade are what I use, but not the sugar-free Gatorade, just the regular stuff. The hydration part can take more time, no need to chug like I do with the protein shake.

 

COOL DOWN: At the same time that I’ve started chugging my shake, I like to do light cardio. I just get on the treadmill and do slow to medium paced walking, 3 mph or less, to help my body cool down. The light cardio or cool down can last anywhere from 10-20 minutes, it really depends on how I’m feeling and where I’m at with my 10,000 steps goal for the day. The purpose of walking is also to help prevent the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles and it helps avoid muscle pain the next day after a strenuous workout.

 

STRETCHING: After the cardio is the stretching. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t save all my stretching for post workout. I do light stretching throughout my strength training, between most reps, especially when I’m working my legs. This helps me to help avoid muscle cramps or pain later on. Stretching after a workout is very beneficial though and it’s much safer than stretching before a workout when your muscles are cold.

 

REST: One of the most important things you can do for overall health and beauty is to get enough sleep. Six hours is the minimum recommended; much less than 6 hours is not sufficient time for your body to repair itself. Eight hours is the average recommended amount for most adult women; much more than eight hours will likely make you sluggish and more tired. I generally aim for 7 hours of sleep, sometimes I get a little extra, sometimes I get a little less but as long as I’m close to that I’m in a good place.

 

There are various supplements that I would like to add to my post workout recovery routine. The supplements I’m looking at are designed to increase post workout recovery benefits and avoid muscle soreness so I’ll update this once I get started on those.