Nutrition Tip of the Week

January 5th, 2014 by admin

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of December 30, 2013

One Pot Wonders: Ways to Maximize your Crock-Pot

At the end of a busy day, the last thing you want is a sink full of dishes.  Using your crock-pot is one of the easiest ways to cook, all in one pot. Soups and meats cook easily while you work the day away. From breakfast to dessert, and from side dishes to dinner, it is time for you to think outside the pot. There are a few simple rules to keep in mind that are key to creating a rich, satisfying slow-cooked meal.  Be sure to check the list for a flawless and flavorful meal, which is sure to please anyone’s taste buds.

Choose the Right Cut(s) of Meat. Chuck roasts, short ribs, pork shoulders and lamb shanks (think fatty and tougher meats) become extremely tender and melt in your mouth with the moist, low heat of a slow cooker. Leaner cuts like pork tenderloin tend to dry out. Likewise, dark meat chicken — thighs, drumsticks, etc. — will remain juicier than white meat breasts.  This may also be beneficial as a weight loss surgery patient as fattier cuts of meat are often more tolerable than leaner meats that tend to dry out and be tough.  However, it is always important to consider your current portion sizes and where you are in your post-operative journey when deciding what and how to prepare your meals.

Keep the Lid Closed.  Because steam is released with each peek you take during the cooking process, this will add an additional 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time. And curb the urge to stir; it is usually not necessary and tends to slow down the cooking.  For best results, keep your crock-pot covered at all times.

DON’T Over-Fill Your Crock-Pot. Keep the crock-pot about 2/3 full.  The contents can expand, so over-filling can be dangerous.  On the other end of the spectrum, a mostly empty crock-pot can end up cooking too quickly and burning your food.  For the best results, fill a slow cooker between one-half and two-thirds full. Go ahead and cook big roasts and whole chickens; just make sure you use a large crock-pot and that the lid fits snugly on top.

Choose the Right Size for You.  Here is a good rule of thumb to help you decide which size is right for you:

  • 1-quart = more for appetizers, like dips and dessert toppings
  • 2-quart (small) = 2 people
  • 4-quart (medium) = 4 people
  • 6-quart = 6 people
  • 8-quart (large) = perfect to bring to that potluck or family get-together

Browning Meats Boosts Flavor.  You can certainly just pile food into the slow cooker, turn it on and get tasty results. But when you take a couple of minutes to brown your meat and sauté your vegetables before adding them to the crock-pot you will be rewarded with an additional layer of deep, caramelized flavor (this is doubly true with ground meat). Want a thicker sauce? Dredge the meat in flour before browning. Additionally, browning the meat ahead of time also allows you to drain the grease, resulting in a healthier meal.

Put Veggies on the Bottom. Because vegetables require more time to cook than meats, you should place them at the bottom of the crock-pot for quicker cooking.

DON’T Add Frozen Foods to Your Crock-Pot.  Whenever possible, use thawed meats.  Similar to the preheated crock-pot conundrum, freezing temperatures mixed with hot temperatures do not always get along.  Loading a slow cooker with icy ingredients will keep food in the danger zone where bacteria can flourish (40°F – 140°F). So make sure your meat and vegetables are fully thawed before turning the cooker on. On top of that, combining frozen foods with non-frozen ones will result in an unevenly cooked meal.  The exception: prepackaged slow-cooker meals sold in the freezer case are fine to use as long as you follow the package’s directions.

Add Dairy Products Last. To prevent dairy products (milk, cream, etc.) from curdling, save them until the end.  Sour cream, milk and yogurt tend to break down in the slow cooker, so stir them in during the last fifteen minutes of cooking.

Think Outside of the Soup Pot. Many people automatically think of soups when considering crock-pot recipes or they think about slow cooking large portions of meat. While both are yummy and useful, there are plenty of other amazing uses. You can use your crock-pot to make baby food, cook breakfast overnight (French Toast anyone?), bake bread, cook dried beans, use as a rice maker, and even make crafts.  Pinterest is a great place to find crock-pot cooking ideas, recipes, and inspiration.

Pasta and rice can be cooked in the crock-pot. Pasta needs lots of liquid to cook properly, and should be added during the last hour of cooking time, depending on the consistency of doneness you prefer and can tolerate. Rice can be more difficult to cook. Try using brown or wild rice for better results. Make sure you have enough liquid in the recipe so the rice becomes tender.

Cakes and desserts can also be made in the crock-pot! Use a small round rack or vegetable steamer to lift the cake pan off the bottom of the crock-pot so heat circulates evenly around the pan. A larger crock-pot is ideal for ‘baking’ cakes and other desserts.

Crock-pots can certainly be a money saver but do not go in the hole by biting off more than you can chew (or even need). Maximize your time and money and come home to a yummy dinner at the end of a long day this winter.  Here are a few bariatric friendly recipes to get you started.  Bon appetite!!

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili

  1. 4 cans (15 oz.) White Beans
  2. 1 can (15 oz.) petite cut diced tomatoes
  3. 1 can (4 oz.) Fire Roasted Green Chilies, Diced
  4. 2 packages White Chicken Chili Seasoning
  5. 3 cups water
  6. 1-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (boneless thighs can be used as well)

Drain and rinse the beans; add the beans, tomatoes, chilies, both packages of seasoning mix and 3 cups of water to the crock-pot. Stir ingredients to mix well.  Lay the chicken breasts on top of the bean and seasoning mixture.  Put the lid on the crock-pot.  Turn on high setting and cook for 3-4 hours – no peaking!!

Before serving, remove the chicken breast from the crock-pot and shred the meat. Add the chicken back in the crock-pot, stir and serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

Saturday Morning Crock-Pot Oatmeal

  1. 2 cups skim or 1% milk
  2. ¼ cup brown sugar
  3. 1 Tablespoon melted butter
  4. ¼ teaspoon salt
  5. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1 cup rolled oats
  7. 1 cup chopped apple
  8. ½ cup raisins
  9. ½ cup chopped walnuts

Spray the inside of the crock-pot with a non-stick spray.  Put all the ingredients into the crock-pot and mix with a whisk. Put the lid on the crock-pot.  Turn the crock-pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours.  The cereal will be perfect for the morning.

Easy Crock-Pot Roast

  1. 3 pounds chuck roast
  2. ½ can beef broth (low sodium)
  3. 1 cup flour
  4. ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1-2 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 medium onion-diced
  7. Salt and pepper to taste

Spray the crock-pot with a non-stick spray.  Season the chuck roast generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place the roast in the crock-pot.  Next add the onions. Toss in the whole garlic cloves; pour ½ can of beef broth over the roast.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Nutrition Tip of the Week

December 30th, 2013 by hmackie

Author: Heather K. Mackie, MS, RD, LD

Week of December 23, 2013

Chewing Ice: Is that an Iron Deficiency?

Have you ever found yourself stopping at a Sonic (or other similar fast food establishment) for a cup of ice?  Maybe this happens a couple times throughout the day?  Many bariatric patients report this behavior after their weight loss surgery.  While chewing ice does not necessarily mean you are experiencing low iron levels, it does warrant at least getting your iron levels checked to ensure you are not experiencing an iron deficiency.

What is the Role of Iron? Iron is the key element in the metabolism of all living organisms and helps to make up hundreds of proteins and enzymes.  Iron has many functions, but below are some of the key functions related to iron:

  • Heme is the iron-containing compound found in molecules.
  • Hemoglobin and myoglobin are heme-containing proteins that help to transport and store oxygen.
  • Hemoglobin is the primary protein in red blood cells and makes up two-thirds of the body’s iron.  It helps to transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
  • Myglobin transports and stores oxygen (short-term) for muscle cells.  This is extremely important when the muscles are working (such as in an exercise session).
  • Iron is involved in electron transport (synthesizes a compound called ATP, which is the primary energy storage compound in cells) and energy metabolism.
  • Iron acts as an antioxidant.
  • Iron assists with DNA synthesis.

What are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency? There are many symptoms related to iron deficiency and we have included several of them here: fatigue (low energy levels), increased heart rate (especially during an exercise session), heart palpitations (especially during an exercise session), rapid breathing on exertion, decreased athletic and physical work capacity, the inability to maintain a normal body temperature, brittle and spoon-shaped nails, sores at the corners of the mouth, taste buds diminish, sore tongue, some forms of hair loss, pica (the eating of non-food substances, such as clay, cornstarch or the chewing of ice), and a lower immune status (the increased ability to catch a cold or get sick).

Some other symptoms of iron deficiency include: dry, scaling, cracking skin, itchy skin, confusion, headaches, decreased mental capacity, amnesia, irritability, restless leg syndrome, dizziness, and depression.  If the iron deficiency continues and is advanced it can lead to difficulty swallowing due to the formation of webs of tissue in the throat and esophagus.

How Much Iron is Needed? The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) was developed for the general, healthy population and these recommendations do not always apply to the weight loss surgery patient.  Males (all ages) and females greater than 51 years of age require 8 mg of iron per day.  Females aged 19-50 require 18 mg of iron per day.  However, weight loss surgery patients vary in their daily needs.  Some patients only require 18 mg per day, while others may require as much as 100 mg per day or more.  It is very important to get your personal iron status checked via blood work so your bariatric program can make your individual iron recommendation.

Why do WLS Patients Require More? There are several reasons as to why weight loss surgery (WLS) patients require more iron following bariatric surgery than prior to their bariatric surgery.

  • As many as 3-57% of pre-op bariatric patients are deficient in their iron levels prior to their bariatric surgery.
  • There is less stomach acid following bariatric surgery and iron needs this acid to aid in its absorption.
  • Post-operatively, about 20-50% of patients experience an iron deficiency and the risk increases over time.  One study reported half of the patients were getting the recommended amount and were still deficient, which further explains the need for individualized recommendations and continued blood work.
  • A daily multivitamin may not prevent an iron deficiency since so many patients require above and beyond what is included in their daily multivitamin.
  • Keep in mind the risk of iron deficiency increases over time as the body eventually runs out of stored iron.
  • If you chose gastric bypass, then the primary area of absorption for iron was bypassed and this further increases your need for iron supplementation.  This same area is also bypassed in the duodenal switch.
  • Post-operatively, there may be incomplete digestion of protein and many patients have an aversion to iron-rich foods, such as red meat.  Red meat tends to be one of the top five foods that patients do not tolerate very well (although every patient is different in what they do and do not tolerate following their bariatric surgery).
  • There is decreased absorption of iron in gastric bypass and biliopancreatic diversion with or without duodenal switch.
  • As many as 25-50% of patients develop a deficiency of iron and often this happens within 6-9 months following bariatric surgery, although it may take 3-4 years to develop.

Maintenance Level/Daily Dose vs. Waiting. Of course you should always follow the instructions of your bariatric surgeon, but I want to explain why some surgeons have you start iron immediately following your bariatric surgery while others do not.  Remember, your surgeon knows your individual medical history and blood work.  This blog is just general information.  There are two schools of thought when it comes to iron supplementation following bariatric surgery.  Some surgeons prefer to monitor lab levels and then have patients start iron once levels start to drop, while others prefer to have patients start a daily dose of iron shortly after their bariatric surgery in order to prevent levels from dropping.  Either way, the most important thing is to continue to get your blood work done as recommended so the recommendation of iron can be adjusted as needed and you can maintain normal iron levels and feel good and healthy.

Lab Level Info Related to Iron. It is important to get your iron levels checked in the morning while you are fasted as levels can change throughout the day.  While ferritin is the normal lab checked for iron in general population, it may not be the best one for bariatric patients.  Typically ferritin is a sign that iron stores are dropping and is typically touted as the primary sign of iron deficiency.  However, ferritin is also an indicator of inflammation and obesity is a disease of inflammation.  There are three levels of iron deficient states.  Anemia is characterized by low serum iron levels, low MCV (mean corpuscular volume) levels, high TIBC (total iron binding capacity) levels, and high transferrin levels.  Depletion is characterized as a serum iron between 60-115 mcg/dL and a TIBC between 360-390 mcg/dL.  Iron deficiency anemia is characterized as a low MCV, low MCH (mean corpuscular hemoglobin), low hematocrit, low hemoglobin, a serum iron less than 40 mcg/dL, a ferritin less than 10 ng/mL, a TIBC greater than 390 mcg/dL, and a transferrin less than 15%.

Keep in mind storage iron depletion means that iron stores are depleted, but there is no change in the functional iron supply yet.  Early functional iron deficiency means that the supply of functional iron is low enough to impair red blood cell formation, but there is not a state of anemia yet.  Iron deficiency anemia means there is inadequate iron to support normal red blood cell formation (the ones formed will be smaller and have less hemoglobin), which means there will be inadequate oxygen delivery and/or a suboptimal function of iron-dependent enzymes.

Food Sources of Iron. There are two types of iron from food: heme and nonheme iron.  Heme iron comes from hemoglobin and is found in animal foods that contained hemoglobin, like red meats, fish, and poultry.  The body absorbs more iron from heme sources compared to nonheme sources.  Iron found in plant-based foods, such as lentils, beans, and dark leafy greens is nonheme iron.  This is the form of iron added to iron-enriched or iron-fortified foods as well.  Our body is not as efficient at absorbing nonheme iron, but most food sources of iron are nonheme.

  • Very good sources of heme iron contain 3.5 mg of iron or more per serving (3 oz.) and include:  beef or chicken liver, clams, mollusks, mussels, or oysters.
  • Good sources of heme iron contain 2.1 mg of iron or more per serving (3 oz.) and include: cooked beef, canned sardines (in oil), and cooked turkey.
  • Other sources of heme iron contain 0.7 mg of iron or more per serving (3 oz.) and include: chicken, halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, tuna, ham, or veal.
  • Very good sources of nonheme iron contain 3.5 mg of iron or more per serving include: breakfast cereals enriched with iron, one cup of cooked beans, ½ cup of tofu, and 1 oz. of pumpkin, sesame, or squash seeds.
  • Good sources of nonheme iron contain 2.1 mg of iron or more per serving and include: ½ cup of canned lima beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, or split peas, one cup of dried apricots, one medium baked potato, one medium stalk of broccoli, one cup of cooked, enriched egg noodles, and ¼ cup of wheat germ.
  • Other sources of nonheme iron contain 0.7 mg of iron or more per serving and include: 1 oz of peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, roasted almonds, roasted cashews, or sunflower seeds, ½ cup of dried seedless raisins, peaches, or prunes, 1 cup of spinach, 1 medium green pepper, 1 cup of pasta, 1 slice of bread, pumpernickel bagel, or bran muffin, or 1 cup of rice.

Types of Iron. There are several types of iron salts when it comes to supplementation.  One of the common iron salts recommended to the general public has only 20% elemental iron available.  What does elemental iron mean?  This means that typically the dosage listed on the label would then need to be multiplied by the percentage of elemental iron associated with that iron salt to determine how much iron is actually absorbed/able to be used by the body.  Please keep in mind all Celebrate products list our dosages as the elemental dosage and you do not have to do this math (YAY)!  Ferrous gluconate is even lower with only 12% available as elemental iron.  Ferrous fumarate is the most recommended iron salt due to its higher bioavailability with 33% available as elemental iron.  Ferrous fumarate is also gentler on the stomach, another reason why it is the most common type of iron used in the bariatric population.

How to Increase the Absorption of Iron. There are ways to ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck when taking iron supplements.  Ensure that your iron supplement also contains vitamins C to enhance the iron absorption or add vitamin C to the iron that you are taking (first talk to your surgeon and/or dietitian before making any changes to your supplement routine).

  • Do not take calcium at the same time as your iron or a multivitamin containing iron.  Separate calcium and iron by at least two hours.
  • Do not take your iron product with calcium rich foods, such as with a glass of milk.
  • Do not take in excessive tannin-rich products (tea, wine, chocolate, coffee) throughout the day (general intake).  This is especially important for those trying to increase their iron levels.
  • Avoid black tea or black coffee one hour before and one hour after taking your iron (this is especially important for those trying to increase their iron levels).
  • Consider checking your vitamin A status if you are having trouble correcting your iron levels.  Sometimes once you get your vitamin A levels within normal limits, it helps with the absorption of iron.
  • Adequate copper status is also important for normal iron metabolism.
  • There are also a couple drug-nutrient interactions when it comes to iron, which cannot be prevented if you are told to take these medications (just something to keep in mind).  If someone takes the following class of drugs (PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) or H2 receptor antagonists), then it decreases the absorption of the iron.  PPIs or H2 receptor antagonists are medications commonly used to treat heartburn or esophageal reflux (GERD).  If you take thyroid medications, such as synthroid, levothyroxin, etc., then it is important to talk to your surgeon and/or pharmacist about the timing of your bariatric vitamins, as you may need to change the timing of your doses due to taking this type of medication.
  • Please keep in mind if your individual iron recommendations are on the upper end, talk to your bariatric program about starting at a lower dose and increasing the dosage to the recommended level to decrease the risk of toleration issues.  If you have any stomach upset with taking your recommended iron, you may want to talk to your surgeon and/or dietitian about taking your iron with food to decrease stomach upset.  Ensure these are not calcium-rich foods.

Too Much of a Good Thing? Iron can be toxic, so do not take more or start iron without talking to your surgeon and/or dietitian and possibly getting blood work done.  The upper limit is set at 45 mg/day, but keep in mind this is for general population.  There is plenty of research showing us that many bariatric patients require more than 45 mg/day to maintain their levels within normal limits.  Please keep your iron supplement out of the reach of children, as it can be very dangerous to them if taken accidentally.

Iron is one of the most common deficiencies seen in the post-operative bariatric patient, but is also one of the most preventable since we have great lab parameters to see what is going on with each individual patient’s iron stores.  Be sure to follow the instructions of your bariatric program in regards to iron supplementation and follow-up blood work schedule to keep your iron levels within normal limits and keep yourself feeling healthy and happy to continuing CELEBRATING your successes!

Nutrition Tip of the Week

December 22nd, 2013 by admin

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of December 16, 2013

Hot Yoga:  Too Hot to Handle?

Yoga has become an extremely, effective way to exercise over the last decade with a variety of different styles, which appeal to people of various ages for assorted reasons. A “hot” current trend is hot yoga.  An astonishing number of Americans are getting hooked on the exercise phenomenon with classes popping up in communities across the country, including professionals, celebrities, and the like.

When one mentions he or she is about to exercise in a room packed with people and the heat is cranked up to 90°F to 105°F, people either shutter with fear at the thought or think it is outrageous… until they have tried it for themselves.  Hot yoga is highly addictive after experiencing the mental and physical benefits unique to this practice.  But is it too hot to handle?

What is Hot Yoga? Hot yoga, sometimes referred to as Bikram Yoga or Power Vinyasa Yoga, is a style of yoga performed in a room that is typically heated to 105° F with a humidity of 40%.  During a typical 60 to 90 minute class, the toxins are removed from the body’s lymphatic system via sweat. The contaminants in the blood vessels are eliminated as a result of all the sweating that takes place in such a hot environment.   Bikram classes are very rigid and strict in their routine and consist of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that run for exactly 90 minutes. It is designed to eliminate toxins from the body, leaving it much healthier. If you provide your body with large servings of fresh, clean water before, during and immediately after class, it helps in the toxin elimination process.  Remember, it is extremely important to talk to your bariatric surgeon and/or family physician before starting any new exercise program.

What Happens to your Body when you Exercise in Hot Weather? When you exercise in hot, humid climates, your core body temperature has a tendency to rise.  To help cool your body, your natural cooling system (skin, blood vessels and sweat) work to bring your body temperature down.  You start sweating, your blood vessels dilate and your heart rate increases, moving blood away from your muscles to circulate near your skin to help cool you down.  If the humidity is high, your sweat has less opportunity to evaporate from your skin, which in turn pushes your body temperature higher.  And if your body is placed under this stressful environment for too long, your natural cooling system can fail, resulting in a heat related illness.

Why Hot Yoga? Hot yoga is often an exercise routine your body will get used to slowly. Hot yoga can be harmful, unless you follow the instructions and guidelines presented by your instructor.  The physical advantages are weight loss, increased flexibility and more defined muscles. Heat helps to make the muscles more pliable, so practicing hot yoga can increase the body’s flexibility. It tends to be fairly strenuous, so muscle tone becomes more defined in every muscle of the body. Additionally, hot yoga also might help one maintain a healthy, youthful glow to the skin.

Hot yoga provides the opportunity to improve the whole body, without affecting the health of muscles and joints, leading to increased strength & flexibility. Yoga creates energy, balance and mobility, while massaging the spine, muscles, tendons, joints and internal organs of the body. It helps to facilitate stretching, injury prevention, and the elimination of tension and stress. It improves the health of all the muscles, joints and organs. And it is also a great stress reliever. This can be done by following the special meditative breathing techniques on a daily basis, which helps mental focus while helping the body cope with stress.

What are the Benefits of Hot Yoga? Think yoga is great? I agree!!  It strengthens you while you stretch, which is kind of hard to achieve with any other method of exercise.  Proponents of hot yoga claim that since it is practiced in hotter temperatures, it assists in detoxifying the participants by sweating out possible pollutants floating around in their bodies, helps with mental focus and meditation, and increases mobility. Other benefits that hot yoga gurus boast are accelerated weight loss, relief of muscle and joint pain (with regular practice for more than 30 days), stress relief, increased immunity (working out in a heated room simulates your body having a fever) and improved athletic performance.

While some of these might be true for some, there are no scientific studies that prove gains from hot yoga practice can deliver on their promises.  However, there have been studies on hatha yoga.  This is a practice that incorporates breathing exercises and repetitions of various poses similar to that of Bikram or other hot yoga in more temperate environments, which have produced positive results.  One might infer hot yoga could yield similar results but does a hot room cancel it all out?

What are the Cons of Hot Yoga? Exercising in an 85+°F room does present a few dangers.   It can give one the false sense that they can bend more than your body naturally should be able to and it can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure to the point that it actually induces more stress on the body. Furthermore, the Petri dish-like conditions allow bacteria and other pathogens to breed and multiply (unless the room exceeds 105 degrees, possibly killing such germs).

In Bikram yoga, you are encouraged to push yourself to improve.  Nausea, dizziness, fainting and other heat-related side effects are considered natural and should not be reasons to discontinue the class.  Although, sweating is our body’s “natural air-conditioner” so to speak, excessive heat and humidity can lead to hyponatremia, vomiting, muscle cramping, cardiac arrhythmias, and breathing difficulties.

Extreme heat puts extra stress on the body, which can lead to heat related illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke if the body is unable to regulate the heat. That is why people tend not to exercise during the hottest part of the day, especially in humid climates.

Hot yoga may be appropriate and beneficial for some or even most, specifically those who are at an advanced level of fitness or those looking to increase strength and flexibility and are not heat sensitive. The important thing is to take appropriate precautions to stay safe while appreciating your hot yoga class.

  • Always seek a physician’s advice before attending or starting any new exercise program.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after class to stay well hydrated.
  • Pay attention to heat-related side effects.
  • Wear light, loose fitting and/or comfortable clothing

We all have different strengths and levels of fitness. If you feel you are not flexible – it is perfectly fine!! The heated room for hot yoga can create the ability to stretch more than normal. If you are flexible but need to gain strength, hot yoga may be the way to go with the series of postures that will help you achieve the flexibility you desire. All you need is patience and a desire to be happy and healthy!  Then you will be on your way to CELEBRATING your fitness and weight loss success.

Nutrition Tip of the Week

December 15th, 2013 by hmackie

Author: Heather K. Mackie, MS, RD, LD

Week of December 9, 2013

Cold Weather Workouts

It is that time of year where the temperature is dropping and it makes it harder to get outside to get that workout in the frigid temps.  Below are a few tips to take care of yourself in the cold weather and get a calorie-burn at the same time.

Cold Weather Safety. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, asthma, or bronchitis, it is important to talk to your physician before starting a cold-weather workout.  In fact it is good to talk to your physician before starting any new workout.

Layers are Critical. Always dress in layers to stay warm and dry.  When you dress in layers, air can get trapped in-between the layers, which creates thermal insulation.  Dressing in layers allows you the ease to remove layers when you get hot and then add them back on when you get chilly.  Below are the types of layers you should include for your weather workout:

  • Wicking – Choose a lightweight, synthetic (polypropylene or polyester) stretch fabric that wick moisture and allow you to move easily.  The fit should be somewhat snug without constricting your movement.  This should be your first layer.
  • Insulating – This should be your middle layer.  Select wool or synthetic fibers that retain body warmth.  This fabric should have small air pockets in these materials to trap the warm air.  The fit should be snug and not constricting.
  • Wind and Water Resistance – This should be your outer layer.  For dry weather, a lightweight shell provides warmth, breathability and wind resistance.  When weather is more severe, choose a waterproof laminate shell that allows water vapor to escape.

Protect the Extremities. It is extremely important to protect your hands, feet, and head in the cold weather.  Cold weather and dampness reduces blood flow to your extremities.  As your body experiences a chill, blood moves towards its core to help vital organs (like the heart and lungs) to continue to function and to fight against hypothermia.  When this happens less blood is available to flow to the hands, feet, and head, which leaves them susceptible to frostbite.

  • Head and Ears – Choose an insulating thermal hat with earflaps.  Create a small space between your face and scarf to keep in warm moisture.
  • Hands – Wear breathable, water-resistant shells over regular gloves.
  • Feet – Pick out socks that wick sweat away from your feet.
  • Stability – If you are working out on icy terrain, consider rubber strap-on metal cleats over running shoes to provide yourself with more stability.  Consider using walking poles when walking or hiking.

Sunscreen. If you are surrounded by snow, then you will experience an increase in reflective light (UV rays), which can increase your susceptibility to sunburns.  Follow the same sunscreen rules that you would during the summer.  Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher and make sure to apply it to all parts of your body that will be exposed.  If you are outside for long periods of time, make sure you reapply your sunscreen as necessary.

Hydration. Drier winter air can increase your risk of dehydration.  Plan on consuming at least two cups of water per hour for aerobic walks an hour or longer.  Even though it is not the hot summer days, you may need to hydrate like you do for summer time.

Move it Indoors. If the thought of braving the elements gives you an excuse to skip a workout, then consider moving your workouts inside to continue your healthy lifestyle.

  • Home Workouts – There are many ways to bring your workout home.  Consider workout videos, video games (like Wii Fit, X-box, etc.), stair climbing, or vigorous housework.  Even marching in place during commercials is a great way to burn some extra calories.
  • Outside the Home – Consider finding a workout facility at a community center, YMCA, and/or health club or gym to keep a more structured workout in a group setting that will help you to stay motivated during the cold winter months.
  • Work – Some companies have an on-site gym or group exercise classes to help you stay on track.  Also, consider starting a walking group during lunch or challenges between departments to create team-building opportunities while increasing everyone’s fitness.
  • Social – Consider making your social life a part of your active life.  Have your friends meet you for a hike outdoors to enjoy some time together while getting your fitness on.  This can make exercise more fun as well as boost your motivation.  If your friend is not into the cold weather, then consider having your friend meet you for an indoor workout.

While we still have a few more months of cold weather ahead of us, do not let it get you down and miss your workouts.  Try a few of these tips to stay safe, healthy, warm, and motivated so you can continue to on your path to CELEBRATING success!

Nutrition Tip of the Week

December 15th, 2013 by admin

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of December 2, 2013

Alternative Lean Meats

Meat is a dietary staple and a great source of protein for many Americans, particularly beef, chicken and pork. Unfortunately, some of these choices can have serious health consequences. For instance, people who consume more beef tend to be at higher risk for heart disease (according to the American Heart Association). While you might have heard the health warnings about beef and other fatty meats before, you might not know about the many beef alternatives available today.

There are more choices than ever when it comes to lean red meats, as well as a few white meats. And best of all – they are all lean!  You may be interested to try the following alternative meats:

Ostrich.  I know it sounds strange – eating ostrich, but you better believe those funny looking long-legged long-necked creatures make for a good burger. Ostrich is a red meat that is leaner than both beef and chicken, and it is making its way onto restaurant menus. It has half the fat of chicken and only one-third the fat of beef.  A 3 oz. serving of cooked ostrich contains 132 calories, 3 g of fat, only1 g of saturated fat, and it contains more iron and protein than most traditional meats, including both beef and chicken, as well as pork, turkey, and lamb. It is also an excellent source of niacin, vitamin B6 and B12, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.

Bison.  Bison meat comes from the great American buffalo, and it is making an amazing comeback due in large part to the rediscovery of this lean and tasty alternative to beef.  It has a mild flavor and a deep red hue.  Bison generally has fewer calories (~122 calories in a 3 oz. cooked serving), a lower fat content (2 g total fat and 1 g saturated fat) and more protein than beef due to the lack of marbling it contains, making it a good choice for the health conscious meat eater. Extremely nutrient dense, a single serving provides an excellent source of iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and the antioxidant selenium.  Cuts of bison are identical to that of beef, which makes it easy for consumers who are used to eating beef, since they can be prepared in the same way.

Venison.  Venison is a term for meat that comes from deer, elk moose, reindeer, caribou, and antelope. The biggest difference between beef and venison is the way they are raised. Human hands raise beef cattle, where venison is wild game. It has a rich and distinct flavor that can vary depending on the time of year the animal is killed and the animal’s age and diet.  From a nutrient perspective, the meat is very low in fat, with a 3 oz. portion of cooked tenderloin containing 127 calories, 2 g of fat, and 1 g of saturated fat.  It is an excellent source of phosphorus, zinc, iron, and several B vitamins, and a good source of thiamin, potassium, copper, and selenium.  It can be prepared as burgers, steaks, fajitas, stew, meatballs, and chili.

Lamb.  Lamb is one of the most versatile meats and it can be prepared in various ways with excellent results.  The meat is obtained from young sheep under the age of 1 year, which makes this red meat very tender and flavorful. It is a rich source of protein and vitamins A, B3, B6 and B12. It is also a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorous and calcium, as well as selenium, manganese and copper.  Lamb delivers, on average, 175 calories, 23 g protein, and 8 g of total fat per 3 oz. serving cooked.  Many consumers are aware of racks of lamb, but there are leaner cuts including the leg and loin.

Alligator.  This exotic white meat is extremely lean at just 177 calories and 1 gram of fat per 4 oz. serving.  It taste like chicken, cooks well, and is easily seasoned. Cuts of meat come not only from the body of the alligator, but from the tail, too (waste not, want not).  Alligator is high in protein and it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Try searing the alligator over high heat or preparing it like a stew cooked slowly over low heat, as it is not advisable to cook it over medium heat.  People looking only at the calorie count might be tempted to pass on alligator.  However, health experts usually recommend taking a more comprehensive view since calories are just one way of assessing whether or not a food is good for you, since it could (and alligator actually does) deliver superior nutrition.

Kangaroo.  Kangaroo is one of the leanest red meats around and is low in saturated fat. It is also extremely high in protein and rich in both iron and zinc. Kangaroo connoisseurs describe the meat as having a fairly mild non-gamey taste, similar to venison. Because it is so very lean, without much fat, the recommended cooking method for kangaroo is either roasted or pan seared over high heat. Prepare the meat rare to medium rare for optimal flavor and tenderness.

Buffalo. Buffalo meat just might be a more natural meat source for us than beef.  After all, buffalo roamed in abundance in America’s early days. It is a red meat, but it is much healthier than beef with anywhere from 70-90% less fat than beef and only half the cholesterol. It is also higher in iron, protein, and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Clearly, buffalo is a healthier choice than beef, but that is not all. Buffalo lovers say the slightly sweet red meat is more flavorful than beef. This lean meat is best served rare to medium rare for optimal flavor and taste.

Elk.  Elk is a part of the deer family; however, elk meat does not have quite the same flavor. It is a red meat and is somewhat course in texture. Compared to venison, it has a less gamey flavor and it is low in fat, calories, and cholesterol, but high in protein. Elk meat makes a great substitute for beef. Recommended cooking methods vary depending on the cut of meat you choose.  Loin cuts or tenders are best prepared over high heat, while a shoulder cut should be slow roasted.

Emu.  Not only do they look somewhat like ostriches, but emu and ostrich share a similar taste as well. Emu meat is an extremely healthy red meat that is almost 99% fat free. It is healthier than beef and it beats chicken as well. Compared to skinless, boneless chicken breasts, emu meat has fewer calories (110 calories, 23 g protein, and 2.5 g total fat per 3 oz. serving) and cholesterol (40 mg). An added benefit of emu meat is that it is high in iron; one serving of emu meat provides ~25% of the iron needed each day.

Although many of these meats will be more expensive than purchasing beef, chicken, or pork in your local grocery store, the benefits to your health are priceless. Many of the alternative red meats mentioned can easily substitute for beef in most recipes so they can be easily incorporated into your diet. In most cases, these animals live free range and enjoy a much cleaner diet that is free of hormones as compared to the more typically consumed meats.  As many of these meats are similar to red meat, it is important to cook them in ways that keep them tender to decrease the chances of intolerance for the bariatric patient.

Considering all of the health benefits associated with these alternative lean meat sources, they are certainly worth a try. So go ahead and have an ostrich burger or venison steak. You just might enjoy it. Here’s to lean eating and CELEBRATING your success!!