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Low-Calorie Foods: Are they Healthy?

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adidas Runtastic Blog: Running, Fitness & Health


Low-calorie foods are booming: cold cuts, milk, cheese, granola bars, soft drinks, salty snacks — there are “light” versions of all these foods and many more. We turn to “light” products because we want to eat healthy and hope they will help us lose weight. We automatically associate words like “sugar-free,” “low-fat,” or “wellness” with health and well-being. But do these “low-calorie” products really deliver what they promise?

What are “light” foods?

Wherever it says “light,” it means there is less of something: for example, less fat or less or no sugar. “Light” products have to contain at least 30% fewer calories than standard products. There are a lot of different terms for “light” products, but each term has its own meaning. Here is a list of the most common terms and their definitions:

  • Fat-free: no more than 0.5 grams of total fat for a given serving size*
  • Calorie-free: fewer than 5 calories for a given serving size
  • % fat-free: must contain 3 grams or less of total fat for a given serving size. A “100% fat-free” claim can only be made for foods that meet the criteria for “fat-free” and also have less than 0.5 grams of fat per 100 grams and contain no added fat.
  • Cholesterol-free: less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol for a given serving size and 2 grams or less of saturated fat for a given serving size
  • Saturated fat-free: no more than 0.5 grams saturated fat per serving size, and no more than 0.5 grams of trans fatty acids
  • Low-fat: 3 grams or less of total fat per serving size
  • Low-calorie: 40 calories or less for a given serving size (except sugar substitutes)
  • Low-cholesterol: up to 20 milligrams cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat for a given serving size
  • Low-saturated fat: 1 gram or less of saturated fat per serving size and no more than 15% of calories from saturated fat

* The serving size represents the amount of food customarily consumed per eating occasion.

Source: https://caloriecontrol.org/what-the-labels-mean/

Corn, a low-calorie-food, can be bought in every supermarket

How does “light” affect taste?

Fat is an important flavor carrier because it absorbs and preserves flavors. Substances like glutamate, glycine, chlorides, lactates, yeast extract or flavors are often used to make up for the lack of taste of low-fat products. Many of these substances can cause headaches, diarrhea, polyuria or even allergic reactions.

Are light or low-calorie foods unhealthy?

More research is needed in order to clearly determine whether and how “light” foods affect our health. However,  longitudinal study in Europe shows that even two glasses of sweet soft drinks per day can be harmful to your health. Interestingly, it doesn’t make a difference whether the beverages are sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners. There are also studies showing that artificial sweeteners can be detrimental to the health of our digestive tract.(1)

Switching to artificially sweetened beverages isn’t the right choice for diabetics either, because the regular consumption of diet sodas can be an independent diabetes risk factor. (2) The healthier and safer option is to drink water or unsweetened tea.

Bowl of low-calorie-foods

Beware of diet foods

Light or low calorie foods do not deliver what they promise! Just because they are low calorie, does not make them healthier; they may contain many substitutes. And as far as weight loss goes, long-term studies have shown that heavily processed diet foods contribute little, or none if anything, to weight loss.(3,4) We tend to eat more of something with a good conscience when the word “light” is written on the label. A better strategy would be to simply eat less of the standard product, which will result in weight loss.(5)

Takeaway: are low calorie foods healthy or unhealthy?

There is no clear evidence indicating how healthy or unhealthy light or low calorie foods are. The fact is that they don’t have any proven benefits for our health. They are not necessarily the most effective choice of foods for weight loss either. If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, the best route is to stick with natural, unprocessed foods and cut about 300 calories per day.  

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What It Took for This Obese Doctor to Take His Own Health Advice

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What It Took for This Obese Doctor to Take His Own Health Advice



Kevin turned to food for comfort as he dealt with the death of his father. He chose a healthier path when his sister was diagnosed with cancer.

The post What It Took for This Obese Doctor to Take His Own Health Advice appeared first on MyFitnessPal Blog.

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Chipotle Black Bean Burgers With Avocado Salsa

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Chipotle Black Bean Burgers With Avocado Salsa



Chipotle Black Bean Burgers With Avocado Salsa

Easy veggie burgers with a delicious hint of smoky spice. Greek yogurt boosts protein to 10g, but add a fried egg for more!

The post Chipotle Black Bean Burgers With Avocado Salsa appeared first on MyFitnessPal Blog.

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Magnesium for Athletes – Get the Facts

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adidas Runtastic Blog: Running, Fitness & Health


Magnesium is probably one of the first minerals that comes to mind when you think of fitness. But, hardly anyone knows how essential magnesium truly is and how it can improve your physical performance. We have the facts for you!

Magnesium performs numerous functions

Magnesium is a vital mineral: it is present in nearly every cell of your body. Approximately 30% of the magnesium in your body is stored in the muscles. The mineral performs numerous functions: it is needed for aerobic (= with oxygen) and anaerobic (= without oxygen) energy production. Magnesium is also required to form endogenous protein (protein of body origin, rather than dietary origin) and plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. The mineral is also essential to the formation of bone and teeth. In addition, it is involved in the activation of hundreds of enzymes.

How important is magnesium for athletes?

Studies show that the more active you are, the more magnesium you need.(1) Scientists have linked a high level of magnesium in blood to improved muscle performance, such as greater leg strength. This means that you can improve your performance by ensuring an adequate supply of this important mineral. What happens in your body? According to studies, magnesium appears to lower lactate levels in your blood.(2) Lactate (lactic acid) is a metabolite that is primarily produced by intense physical exercise. If it builds up, it can limit muscle performance and you will fatigue faster. Plus, exercising without sufficient magnesium will lead to increased oxygen consumption and heart rate. The mineral also plays a major role in strengthening your immune system. It works similar to an antioxidant by strengthening your defenses and protecting you from diseases.

magnesium for athletes

Increased magnesium intake can be helpful

According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), healthy adult females should get 310-320 mg per day and healthy adult males 400-420 mg per day.(3) A balanced diet is usually enough to satisfy this daily requirement. But, if you like to exercise or work a physically demanding job, your diet probably won’t cover your daily needs because you can lose a lot of magnesium through sweat. This loss has to be replaced, but the amount of magnesium required varies depending on the individual and should be discussed with a sports physician.

You also need to consume more magnesium in the case of stress.(4)

How can I tell if I’m getting enough magnesium?

Pay attention to Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

  • Leg cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Digestive problems
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Headaches

Consult your doctor if you experience the magnesium deficiency symptoms listed above.

Top 9 Magnesium Rich Foods

The general rule is that getting nutrients through your food is the healthier option – as opposed to taking dietary supplements. The same holds true when it comes to magnesium for athletes. A balanced diet gives us (almost) all the nutrients we need. So which foods are highest in magnesium? Here are the 11 best sources of magnesium:

  • Sunflower seeds (395 mg/100 g)
  • Pumpkin seeds (402 mg/100 g)
  • Sesame (347 mg/100 g)
  • Flax seeds (350 mg/100 g)
  • Cashews (270 mg/100 g)
  • White kidney beans (140 mg/100 g)
  • Chickpeas (115 mg/100 g)
  • Oats (139 mg/100 g)
  • Swiss chard (81 mg/100 g)

oatmeal with blueberries and almonds

Good to know:

Mineral water also contains varying amounts of magnesium. You can find the nutrition facts on the label of the bottle.

Magnesium Supplements – Good or Bad?

If your doctor recommends magnesium supplements to treat a magnesium deficiency, it’s important to be careful about the dosage. You shouldn’t take more than 250 mg of supplemental magnesium per day.(5) Magnesium can act as a natural laxative; if you take too much, it may cause diarrhea.

Takeaway:

The more you workout, the more magnesium you need in your diet. Don’t underestimate the importance of magnesium for athletes and focus on meeting your daily requirements with a balanced healthy diet including magnesium rich foods. If you do experience magnesium deficiency symptoms, consult your doctor. Supplements could be a helpful solution. Keep in mind: if you are preparing for a race or competition, make sure to start integrating the supplements into your diet several weeks beforehand to give your body time to adjust.

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