What is the food label telling you?

The food label can be a confusing thing. However, looking at the nutrition facts and the ingredients can tell you a lot about a food.

Serving Size

The first thing under “Nutrition Facts” is the serving size. This is one of the most important things to notice. If you are not looking at this, the rest of the information is useless. Compare what you actually eat to the stated serving size. If you are eating more, more you will need to multiply the calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates and so on. If you are eating less, you will need to divide everything. For example, this label reads the serving size is 1 cup. If you eat 2 cups you would multiply everything by 2. If you eat ½ cup, you would divide everything by two. Some serving sizes can be really small. When you look at the calories, protein, fat, sodium… it may seem like a fine choice. But, if you look at the serving size and multiply to get the amount you are actually eating, you may be shocked.

Nutrition Facts Top Part

Servings Per Container

This tells you how many servings are in the container/box/jar. In this case, if you were to eat the whole container of broth you would have consumed 4, or 4 cups. To figure out how many calories, fat, protein and other nutrients you would consume multiply by 4!

Food Label WholeCalories

This is the number of calories in 1 serving of the food. When trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight the number of calories you are consuming is important. However, choosing calories that will nourish your body and listening to your body’s hunger are even more important for success.

Calories from Fat

This tells you the number of calories you will get from fat in one serving. These calories are already included in the calories; you do NOT need to add this number to calories.  It is really not that important to look at this number. The fat section will tell you more about the health of the food.

Total Fat

Total fat is the TOTAL amount of fat in one serving of the food or beverage. Typically you will see saturated fat and/or other fats listed below. Those fats are included in the total fat. Fat has 9 Calories per gram, unlike protein or carbohydrates which have 4 Calories per gram. This explains why foods that are higher in fat are also higher in calories.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat often gets a bad rap, but it is not a fat to avoid completely. Try to keep your saturated fat intake to about than 1/3 of your total fat intake.

Trans Fat

This is the one fat to try to avoid. It is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil in a process known as hydrogenation. Even if you look at the label and you see 0 grams next to trans fat, your food or beverage may still have this unhealthy fat. According to labeling laws, if a food has less than 0.5 grams of a fat in one serving, it can be listed as 0 grams. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you eat four servings you could be consuming one to two grams of trans fat. Looking at the ingredient list is a good way to see if they are telling the truth. If you see the words partially hydrogenated, hydrogenated, margarine, or shortening, it contains trans fat.

Total Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates, otherwise known as carbs, give your body energy. If you are not an active person you do not need as many carbs as an athlete. It is important to choose carbs that will fuel your body, not cause it to crash. Foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar are good choices. Oatmeal, fruits, veggies, and brown rice are a few choices.

Dietary Fiber

This is a number that you would like to see high! The average healthy female should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, while the average male should consume 38 grams per day. This is based on an Institute of Medicine equation that calculates 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories.

When you are increasing your fiber intake, do not make a huge increase all at once. If you drastically increase your fiber intake in one day your body will most likely hate you. You will probably experience bloating and gas. Try adding a little fiber one day and little more the next. Drinking plenty of water is also important when increasing your fiber! Oatmeal, fruits, and veggies are a few examples of foods that contain fiber.

Sugar

Contrary to fiber, you want the grams of sugar to be low number. Foods that are high in sugar and low in fiber will not keep you full very long and will have a bad effect on your blood sugar levels. Foods like white bread, candy, ice cream, and sodas great examples of sugary foods and beverages. Other names that basically mean sugar include agave nectar, barley malt, beet sugar, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, buttered sugar, cane juice crystals, cane juice, cane sugar, caramel, carob syrup, caster sugar, coconut sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystalline fructose, date sugar, demara sugar, dextran, diastatic malt, diatase, ethyl maltol, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, galactose, glucose, golden sugar, golden syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert syrup, lactose, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, maple syrup, molasses syrup, muscovado sugar, organic raw sugar, oat syrup, panela, panocha, confectioner’s sugar, rice bran syrup, rice syrup, sorghum, sorghum sugar, sucrose, sugar, syrup, treacle, tapioca syrup, turbinado sugar, and yellow sugar. Yikes that is a lot of names!

Sodium

Your body needs some sodium to function, but too much is not good. If you have high blood pressure, watching your sodium intake is especially important. The average healthy person should try to limit their sodium intake to less than 2300mg per day. Soups, frozen dinners, deli meats, and canned veggies are foods that are high in sodium.  If an item says reduced sodium, that means the sodium content has been reduced by 25% of its original version. It may still be high in sodium though. Also, if a label says low sodium, it must have less than 140mg per serving. Remember to check the serving size and compare it to what you are actually eating.

Protein

Protein in your diet is a definite must. It helps to build muscle and is important to cell and organ function. It will also keep you fuller longer than just eating carbohydrates by themselves. Grass fed chicken, beef, and turkey, fish, nuts, nut butters, pastured/cage free eggs, quinoa, bone broth, Greek yogurt, and beans are all good sources of protein.

% Daily Value

If you look to the right of the grams listed, you will see percentages listed. This is the % Daily Value. This is the percent of a person’s daily needs they will consume from one serving if they are on a “2,000 calorie diet.” However, a majority of people do not need 2,000 calories a day. Some people will need more, while others will need less. Because of this, I typically focus more on the grams.

 Ingredient List

Ingredients

The ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight. This means the food that is in there the most is listed first.

This is the place to catch any tricks food companies may try to play. As I mentioned before, you will be able to tell if there is any trans fat in your food by looking here. Also, if you want to make sure you are eating bread that is 100% whole grain, look to see if the ingredients following whole wheat are not enriched, bleached flour.

There is another thing to look out for here. If you are looking to make sure sugar is not one of the first few ingredients on the list, good for you! However, even though sugar might not be in the top three ingredients, a food or beverage can still have more sugar than you would think. Often times multiple sweeteners are used. Here’s the issue. If sugar is the only sweetener used in a product, it might be listed as the first or second ingredient. However, by using sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and molasses. Sugar is now listed as the fifth ingredient and high fructose corn syrup and molasses, the sixth and seventh.

It is also important to look for other ingredients to avoid. Here are some to get you started artificial colors (yellow #5,red #40, blue #2), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), polysorbate 60, MSG,  (Monosodium Glutamate), carrageenan, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, artificial sugar (sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, saccharin…), artificial flavors, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), and BVO (Brominated Vegetable Oil).

Hopefully, this has answered some questions about what the food label is actually telling you. It can be a great tool to help you make healthy food choices.

Three Steps of Stress Management

By: Nick Lape

Stress ManEvery single person at some point during their week has that moment when they think that the entire world is out to get them. Or they have so many things to do they don’t see a way to accomplish it. With work deadlines, kids’ schedules, constant connection to email/the internet, and the want for some time to relax, life can get pretty stressful. Even if you start off fine as weeks progress all of these tasks begin to wear on us if we don’t manage it. During these stressful times it is imperative that we learn to manage ourselves, our nutrition, and our physical well-being.

1. Ask yourself positive questions and get positive answers.

In order to manage ourselves we must first be able to understand what makes us tick. We spend a good portion of our day inside our own heads. We have a constant dialogue with ourselves saying, “Why does this always happen to me?” and “Why am I always so busy? I never get to relax.” What if we stopped asking ourselves negative questions and started asking empowering ones? Instead of searching for negative answers we would search for positive ones. Due to the amount of time we talk to ourselves without anyone else hearing this is truly crucial when it comes to stress management. Empowering thoughts, questions, and answers to those questions are going to be your first defense against the battle inside your head that can consume you. DON’T LET IT!!!! Don’t let it affect the other aspects of your life, especially nutrition.

2. Choose foods that will benefit your health, mind, and mood.

Why do so many people in this country choose to eat during times of stress? Well food does have a way of comforting us. To go along with empowering thoughts, why don’t we take the time to choose something that will empower our mind as well as our body? During times of stress if we haven’t mastered our inner thoughts when it comes to fueling our bodies, it is a lot easier  to choose the easiest route possible to feel better immediately. We choose donuts, twinkies, bags of chips, etc.; foods laden with sugar. Or you could go the other route and swing by McDonald’s or order a pizza. Mastering our thought processes can prepare us for this. When we know a day is going to be painstakingly long or busy planning ahead can be a game changer. Choosing foods that benefit your health like veggies, fruits, nuts, grass-fed meats, healthy fats etc., can easily satisfy your hunger cravings and make you feel better about yourself.

3. Exercise on a regular basis.

When we talk about feeling better about ourselves one of the best ways is through physical activity. Every person enjoys their “me” time. How you choose to spend it is up to you. When managing stress, doing something that is physically taxing can make you feel less of that stressful burden. Personally, I choose to lift weights, however, running, biking, hiking, or just getting outside and go walking. All of these can have drastic effects on the way you feel. Choosing the healthy road when dealing with stress in this matter can only help.

Everyone in this world goes through stressful times. Sometimes you ask yourself, “How is that person so happy?” when you know personally they have a lot on their plate. The answer is that they have probably mastered a couple if not all three of the things that I’ve mentioned previously. They probably have the ability to manage their thoughts which will empower them to eat well and exercise. The product of all of this is efficient stress management. Ask yourself empowering questions, and answer them with empowering answers. Prepare food that will benefit your mind and your body. And lastly use exercise as your escape. In addition, time management, learning to say no, muscle relaxation, and breathing can help with stress. Choose the things that make your mind and body happiest and healthiest. I can guarantee that if you master these things that you will be the person that people ask that question of “How can he be so happy with some much on his plate?”

Could Your Beer Belly Really Be Anterior Pelvic Tilt?

By: Mike Klaus ISSA, RKC, FMS,

Hi. My name is Mike, and I have an anterior pelvic tilt (APT). Most people do, but mine is excessive and has been the cause of my training plateaus and low back injuries. It also makes me look like have a gut, which is not the case. (I am right around 8% body fat.) So, if you have any of this going on then you may be suffering from APT as well.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Anterior refers to the front side of your body and ‘pelvic tilt’ referrers to the pelvis being tilted to one side. APT tilts forward, like in the image below.

Mike Anterior TiltWhile researching APT I came across a wide variation to “acceptable” degrees of APT in men and women. I have come to the conclusion that optimal range for men is between 8-12 degrees and 12-16 in women. Of course each individual is different and more or less could be beneficial. You can estimate your own tilt by putting your back against the wall and measuring the space between the small of you back and the wall. A hand is the ideal amount of space. Significantly more could be problematic.

Initially my remedy was to simply rotate my pelvis externally and tuck my rib cage. I did constant checks and after a couple of weeks did notice an improvement in my posture. However, when I did anything physical my body would default back to that awful APT.  I needed to do more than walk around in neutral. My body needed to be trained so that deficient muscles could hold up to the required resistance I would ask of it.

There are several causes for APT and they include weak hamstrings, weak abdominals, weak glutes, tight hip flexors, and tight spinal erectors. Hip flexors are a group of muscles near the pelvis that move the hip forward during walking and running. Spinal erectors are group of muscles in the back that supports the spine.

In order to fix the problem and bring the pelvic tilt back to acceptable levels you will need to make the hamstrings, deeper abdominals, and glutes stronger and stretch the spinal erectors and hip flexors. Here are a few exercises that have helped me. (Of course be sure to check with your doctor before you diagnose yourself or try to do these exercises.)

  1. American Deadlift – Focus on and over emphasize the pelvic motion using a lighter weight than your typical barbell hinge. The movement ends with the pelvis in a posterior pelvic tilt really squeezing the glutes at lock out. 2-3 sets of 10.
  1. The Posterior Pelvic Tilt Hip Thrust – This is simply a bodyweight hip thrust using the glutes and emphasizing pelvic motion. 2-3 sets of 20-25.
  1. The RKC Plank – Setting up like a normal plank, only the focus is the squeezing of the glutes to achieve PPT. 2-3 sets of 3-5 :10-15 reps.

An anterior pelvic tilt can prevent you from progressing past a certain point in your training, cause injuries, and make you look like you have a big gut. It may require you to take a step back in your training program it is totally worth it in the long run.

Can Weight Loss be as Easy as Sleep?

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD

Sleeping GirlWhen we think of weight loss or health, most of us think of exercise and nutrition. However, sleep plays a very important role. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of continuous sleep EVERY night.

Think about those nights when you don’t sleep well or get at least seven hours. How do you feel the next day? Are you able to think as clearly? Do you have lapses in your attention? Do you over react to situations? Chances are you answered yes to at least one of these questions.

In addition to the above, lack of sleep affects metabolic hormones. It decreases glucose tolerance affecting blood sugar levels.  It also decreases leptin and increases ghrelin. These are two hormones that have an effect on your appetite. Leptin tells the body that we have had enough to eat, while ghrelin tells us to eat. It’s the perfect storm, you are over emotional, don’t have control of your feelings, and feel hungry. How likely are you to make a healthy food choice especially when there is chocolate in the break room at work?  Multiple studies have shown that sleeping less than seven hours each night is associated with an increased BMI.

How can you improve your sleep? The first step is to make it a priority. If you are getting ample sleep you will be able to focus better and accomplish to-dos more efficiently. Here are some other tips to help insure a quality seven to nine hours of shut eye each night.

  • Turn off ALL light producing electronics at least 60 minutes before bed. Having complete darkness is really important to a good night’s sleep. Light affects melatonin levels which will affect your sleep.
  • Set a peaceful timer to remind you to get ready for bed. One of the most common reasons people do not get enough sleep is because they choose to stay up. Whether they get sucked in to a TV show or want to get in extra work the choice is made to stay up.
  • Create a calming bed time routine. You want to be relaxed when you go to sleep, not stressed.
  • Turn down the heat. Most experts say that the best temperature for sleep is between 65 and 68 degrees F. If you get too hot while you sleep you will wake up.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon or at least 6 hours before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and can affect your sleep schedule.
  • Avoid alcohol. Any amount of alcohol can affect quality of sleep.
  • Exercise early. Exercising in the evening can make it hard for some people to fall asleep.
  • Breathe. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out through your nose without making any noise. You should not be able to hear yourself breathe. Your exhale should be twice as long as your inhale.

Don’t let a lack of sleep be the limiting factor to your health.

The Heart is a Muscle

heart health artworkBy: Nick Lape BS, HFS, FMS, IYCA, CRBC

The media and grocery store are not shy about telling you what to eat for heart health. But, what about what you should physically do to improve your heart? If you think about it in one way it can be very easy to understand. The biggest trick is realizing that the heart is a muscle. In order to make it stronger you must use it. Because, everybody all together now, if “You Don’t Use It You Lose It!”

What does this mean? I guess one example would be to say that in order to make any muscle stronger the tissue must be able to expand and then contract in on to itself. Adding speed and/or overload is where these muscle fibers begin to get stronger.

No, technically, you can’t hand your heart a dumbbell and say go, but what you can do is make it beat faster or add speed. The electronic impulses of the heart can be sped up through cardiovascular exercise (cardio = heart). Many people achieve this by running long distances and while that may work, one of the best ways that I have personally found to strengthen the heart is through short bursts of speed followed by a little rest. This allows the muscles of the heart to pump hard and then rest as if you were asking it to do one set of reps. And again, just like any other muscles, we do multiple sets of exercises. When it comes to the heart you can’t treat it any different.

We look constantly to media sources in order to see what we think our body should look like on the outside, but what about the inside? If we don’t allow the muscles of our heart to work as hard as the muscles in our arms or legs then we are missing a HUGE part of our overall health. The next time you exercise, add a little speed to kettlebell swings/snatches, sprints or any of your exercises — any of these can increase your heart rate. A simple change in your workout can increase your heart health. Let us know if you need our help!

Celebrate Moving Forward

Cheers to a new beginning, to moving forward. We can’t tell you how excited we were to celebrate our grand opening. We want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement! We were blown away by the number of people who came to the celebration.

 Grand Opening Cheers

Ecstatic can only begin to describe our feelings about being Maplewood’s newest fitness facility. We offer group training, personal training, and kettlebell classes. Before you stop reading because you have already grown tired from thinking about lifting a weight know this: we are not your average training studio.

  • We pride ourselves in making health fun. Very few people will continue to work out if they dread it. You will never leave our studio without a smile or chuckle.
  • We watch how you move, learn how you move, and keep watching. This may sound creepy, but it’s not. We screen you using the Functional Movement System (FMS) before we create a training program for you. Think about this in terms of an eye doctor. When you go to your eye exam, you don’t want to be given a random pair of glasses. You want the eye doctor to exam in your eyes to determine what prescription to give you. We aren’t going to give you a random work out. We want to see how you move to write a workout that is right for you! Once you have that workout we keep watching to make sure you stay in good form. We don’t want any injuries.
  • One size DOESN’T fit all. One size usually fits no one. By screening you we can create a workout program that fits YOU!
  • We have a registered dietitian on staff. Nutrition plays a HUGE roll in results. If you fuel your body with foods that promote health, you will see great results.
  • We don’t judge you. We welcome EVERYONE regardless of his/her fitness level. Whether you have never set foot in a gym or make it part of your normal routine, we have something for you.
  • We focus on the future. It can be easy to focus on the past and why things didn’t work out. At forward fitness we focus on moving forward and creating the future you want!

If you have been thinking about becoming active or looking for a better fit, we would love to move forward with you! Please email Suzanne at Suzanne@ForwardFitnessSTL.com to get started.

Don’t Train Before You Do This

By: Mike Klaus ISSA, FMS, RKC and Suzanne Doerries RD, LD, FMS

What is the FMS?

ffjune-205The FMS or Functional Movement System is the screening tool used to identify limitations and/or asymmetries in seven fundamental movement patterns crucial to everyday living. These are movements that not only allow you to train to your full potential, but ones that you do every day. Whether you are walking, carrying your child, moving equipment, gardening, getting up and down off the ground, or going up stairs, you are using at least one of the seven fundamental movements. The FMS shows us if there are any weak links in those movement patterns. It allows us to see how well your body is able to perform basic motor and stabilizing movements. It does this by placing you in positions where weaknesses and imbalances become noticeable if appropriate mobility and motor control is not utilized.

Can you fail the FMS?

No, the FMS is simply a screening tool that allows us to see how your body moves. It helps us to give you the best training possible. We re-screen our members every two to three months to see how their movements have changed. This allows us to make sure your training is current and relevant.

Why screen our clients?

Would you go to an eye doctor that didn’t test your vision before handing you a pair of glasses? Probably not. When you decide you want to start an exercise program, get over a plateau, or set personal records, it is crucial that you are doing movements/exercises that are helping your body, not hurting it. If you don’t have a solid movement foundation you will not be able to reach your full potential. Just like a crack in the foundation of a house, a crack in your movement foundation can cause problems. After we screen you we will know if there are any “cracks,” or exercises that will cause you more harm than good. We will also be able to give you exercises to help improve those movements. When we re-screen you we will hopefully find that those cracks have been repaired and you no longer have issues with that movement. It doesn’t matter if you choose semi-private or group training, every person who walks through our doors will be screened and get an exercise program that is fitted for them.