Monday, January 27, 2014

Nutrition Labels - Decoding the Mysteries and Myths

We had a super informative discussion today about the basics of nutrition and what to look for when reading nutrition labels.

The "Fab Three"
  • Protein builds muscle and is key for movement and cell productivity.  You can't get protein from within the body, so we must add it to the body.  Cutting back on this when "dieting" or trying to lose weight will only result in exhaustion and muscle function breakdown.  Examples of good protein sources:  lean meat (non-breaded chicken, turkey, grass fed lean cuts of beef and fish), dry beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy products, whole grains.
  • Carbohydrates provide your body with glucose giving you quick energy.  Many think carbs are the enemy, but keeping your carbs "whole" - like whole grains and "fresh" - like fruits are the way to give your blood sugar a healthy boost.  Avoid white pastas, breads, sweetened cereals, etc.  These may give you quick energy, but are don't have other valuable nutrients.
  • Fats satify and sustain our appetites.  Try to keep these in small amounts and spread them throughout your day so you are not left feeling unsatisfied.  Avoid foods containing trans fats or high saturated fats.   Examples of good, healthy fats include olive, canola and sesame oil, avacado, nuts and nut butters, sesame, pumkin, chia and flax seeds, salmon, tuna, trout, soy and tofu products.
Think Nutrition Labels are confusing?  You are not alone.

Some final tips:
  • Be wary of claims like "all natural," "good source of ___," "low fat," "low sodium."  Chances are that those foods can be packed with sugars and chemicals to enhance flavor... and that can be worse than the sodium or fat!  Also, some claims are regulated and some are not.
  • Watch out for portion sizes!  Food packagers cannot take into account your personal daily needs.  You have to be aware the things that are going to impact your serving sizes and food choices such as activity levels, metabolic conditions, age, weight, etc.  (If you are struggling, you may want to talk to your doctor or a good nutritionist.  Just Move also offers meal planning via Evolution Nutrition.  Contact us for more information.)
  • As always, the best choices are the whole foods that are in their original state.  (Need recipe ideas?  Check out the awesome recipes from our class participants in the "Challenge Recipes" section of this blog!)
  • If you are interested in taking things a step further and buying organic, start with "The Dirty Dozen."  This is a continually updated list of the produce that is most impacted by pesticides and other harmful products.  You can view that list here.

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