Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Balanced U’s Theme for March: Metabolism Boosters

What is metabolism? Metabolism is the process of transforming food (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) into energy for you to use. More simply put - it is the rate at which your body burns calories (uses up energy). The rate of your metabolism depends on the interaction between the number of calories you consume and the number of calories you burn through eating, exercising, and daily functioning. While no food can actually burn off enough fat to impact weight, the following foods and activities can assist you by slightly raising metabolism.

  • Small but frequent meals help keep your metabolism in high gear and helps you burn more calories overall.
  • Increase the protein in your diet. Protein requires about 25% more energy to digest than other foods (in other words it takes 25% more calories to digest protein than it does to digest carbohydrates or fat), so meals that contain adequate protein can temporarily increase metabolism.
  • Some studies have shown that hot peppers and very spicy foods can increase metabolism by about 20% for about 30 minutes.
  • Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant that some research suggests may boost metabolism temporarily.
  • To really boost metabolism, your best bet is to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscles burn 3 times more calories at rest than fat does. If you’re trying to lose fat, build muscle.

The bottom line is that foods may have a slight impact on metabolism, but the increases are insignificant compared to what is necessary to lose weight. Every little bit helps, but no one should rely on a miracle food to get rid of excess pounds.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is celebrated annually each March. The theme this year is Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Consumer research confirms that taste tops nutrition as the main reason why one food is purchased over another. While social, emotional, and health factors also play a role, the foods people enjoy are typically the foods they choose to eat. This year’s key messages for National Nutrition Month focus on how to combine taste and nutrition to create healthy meals so that you experience a win-win with your meals - by enjoying all-in-one meals that are nutritious, healthy, and delicious.

Chartwells is celebrating National Nutrition Month with their own take on enjoying the taste of eating right with the “Taste of the Mediterranean.” The “Taste of the Mediterranean” celebrates the traditional Mediterranean diet and lifestyle that is often associated with improved health.
  • The Mediterranean diet focuses on the unique foods and beverages indigenous to the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea
  • The traditional Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods from plant sources including whole grains, vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes, and herbs and spices. Moderate amounts of dairy and seafood are included, with meats eaten less often. Olive oil serves as the main fat source.
  • Other key elements of the Mediterranean Diet/Lifestyle are daily exercise, sharing meals with others, eating simple meals, and fostering a deep appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy and delicious foods.
  • The Mediterranean way of life can help protect against heart disease, diabetes, cancer. It can also help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Many scientists believe the health benefits of eating and living the Mediterranean way result from an interaction between a diet rich in micronutrients, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, along with being physically active.
Enjoy the taste of eating right this month by looking for healthy and delicious staples in the Mediterranean diet that are being served in the dining halls at Saint Louis University this month. Key ingredients and foods in the Mediterranean diet include oregano, mint, thyme, tomatoes, eggplants, greens, chickpeas, whole grains,, fresh seafood, yogurt, olive oil, and almonds.
Keep in mind that even when eating a Mediterranean diet your plate should still allow you get nutrients from each food group (protein, carbohydates, and healthy fats). A balanced plate following the Mediterranean diet would include:
  • grains: whole grains
  • protein: legumes, beans, nuts, fish
  • vegetables: greens, tomatoes, eggplants
  • fruits: berries
  • dairy: low-fat yogurt and cheeses in moderation
  • (olive oil, a healthy fat, could be used in the cooking of the protein sources, pasta, or vegetables)
Use this image as tool to help you when filling your plate.