Low-Carb Vegetables to Add to Your Diet

Cutting back on carbohydrates can be an effective way to lose weight. While cutting out bread and pasta are no-brainers when it comes to limiting carb intake, carbs can also be found in unlikely places, like vegetables. Vegetables are necessary for a healthy diet, but it’s all about finding the right ones for your body and personal health goals. If you’re looking to lose weight or stay lean, look for the following low-carb/high-fiber vegetables:

Zucchini

One cup of raw zucchini contains only four grams of carbs, a quarter of which being fiber. Zucchini is extremely filling, firm in texture, and mild in taste, making it a perfect substitute to many favorite foods. Swap french fries for baked zucchini spears, pasta for zucchini noodles, or lasagna noodles for thick, vertical slices of zucchini to make low carb, delicious meals.

Bell Peppers

Chock-full of antioxidants, bell peppers are crunchy, tasty, and low in carbohydrates. One cup of bell peppers contains only 9 grams of carbs, 3 of them being fiber. For a low-carb, yet satisfying meal, try a tuna fish salad-stuffed out bell pepper, and feel free to get creative.

Green Beans

Though a member of the legume family, green beans are much lower in carbs than other beans. One cup of green beans has just 10 grams of carbs, almost half of which is fiber. This vegetable is the perfect side to a protein, but also great thrown into a veggie stir-fry for some added crunch.

Cucumbers

Eating a cucumber is comparable to drinking water. While they may not contain as much fiber as some of the other vegetables on this list, they are one of the lowest in carbohydrate levels. A cup of cucumber is only 4 grams of carbs, with one of those being fiber. Swap carrot sticks or pita chips for cucumber slices when dipping into hummus or salsa for a healthy snack.

Tomatoes

Containing 6 grams of carbs, a third of which being fiber, tomatoes are an incredibly healthy addition to most diets. Though technically a fruit, tomatoes are often seen as vegetables and are high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium.

Celery

Also high in water content, celery is much higher in fiber than cucumber. Celery is great dipped into nut butter or hummus, or added to soups and stews, and with only 3 grams of carbs (2 of them being fiber), celery is a snack you can feel good about.

Many people think of carbohydrates in a traditional sense, solely contained in breads and pasta. It’s easy to forget that almost everything has some level carb-count. Carbohydrates are necessary for energy levels and digestion, but it’s all about finding those that are right for you. Incorporating these vegetables into your diet will offer you healthier alternatives to some carb-heavy foods.

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Name Brand Cereals That Are Unhealthier Than You Think

We’ve all seen the commercials. Mothers lovingly pour cereal into the bowls of their excited children. Mom is smiling because she’s happy she can give her little one a bowl of something healthy without complaints. These commercials are pretty deceptive, though. Companies often claim their cereals are nutritious, but some of those “healthy cereals” are just as jammed full of sugar as Count Chocula and Fruity Pebbles.

As you browse the breakfast aisle during your next shopping trip, steer clear of these cereals:

Kellogg’s Original Fruit Loops

Kellogg’s is a brand famous for boasting health facts that deem their cereals acceptable for a wholesome breakfast, and their famous Fruit Loops is no exception. However, all those heath facts fall flat when compared to the sugar content of the cereal. When researchers weighed the cereal to measure the ingredients, they found that 41.4% of the weight was sugar.

Post’s Honeycomb

Some cereals that have high sugar counts makeup for their sugar content with lots of fiber and protein. Honeycomb isn’t one of them. The cereal contains only 2 grams of protein, less than a gram of fiber, 150 milligrams of sodium, and 10 full grams of sugar. Honeycomb is full of sugar and spice, but nothing nice.

Kellogg’s Apple Jacks

Just because this cereal has the name apple in it, doesn’t make it healthy. Apple Jacks is 42.9% sugar and has none of the nutritional value of its namesake. Though the cereal boasts to have dried apple in it, the proportion of real apple to sugar and carbohydrates is too small to truly even count.

Quaker Oats’ Life

Often thought to be healthy, Life doesn’t have nearly enough protein or fiber to keep someone full. With only 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 160 milligrams of sodium, and 6 grams of sugar. The sugar count on this cereal isn’t as high as others, but with so little nutritional value nothing about this cereal is healthy.

Quaker Oats’ Cap n’ Crunch

What may be more alarming than the 12 grams of sugar is the amount of salt this cereal contains. One serving packs 210 milligrams of salt! Cap n’ Crunch also contains only one gram of protein and less than a gram of fiber.

Kellogg’s Honey Smacks

A serving of Honey Smacks contains more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie. Let that sink in for a minute. This cereal, which is 55.6% sugar, is more unhealthy than what’s long been known as one of the unhealthiest foods. As mentioned above, the Honey Smacks box also contains the health facts used to try and market the cereal as being a healthy breakfast choice. However, with the amount of sugar the cereal contains, all other nutrients are rather ineffective and pale in comparison.

Don’t let misleading advertising and nutrition facts lead you astray. Make sure you’re doing your research and thoroughly reading labels to understand what you are eating. Even if something doesn’t seem unhealthy by looking at the numbers, remember to keep the serving size in mind. 6 grams of sugar is a lot when the serving size is only half a cup of cereal.

Foods Athletes Should Avoid

Regardless of the exact sport, there are several foods that athletes should avoid to ensure maximum efficiency on the court or field. These foods have poor nutritional qualities or high caloric levels that are inappropriate for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy, high-functioning body.

Food 1: Pasta Made with Refined Flours

Pasta made with refined flour is a poor nutritional choice that athletes will not commonly add to their meals due to the many health issues associated with high-carb diets. In addition, pasta has a lot of calories that can lead to weight gain. For obvious reasons, athletes will want to maintain their weight, which can help protect their bodies’ joints from damage during physical activity, for example.

Food 2: Sugary Boxed Cereals

You’d be hard pressed to find boxed cereals in the kitchen cabinets of athletes, especially those catered to a younger audience, i.e. Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, etc. Rather than eating this unhealthy food for breakfast, an athlete should make healthier cooked oats with nutritious fruit such as raisins or berries, or perhaps a vegetable omelette.

Food 3: High-Sodium Canned Soups

Most canned soups are high in sodium and other preservatives, making this option a bad nutritional choice for an athlete. Consuming a lot of salt can reduce an athlete’s level of performance because it can cause a number of serious health issues including, but not limited to, high blood pressure, kidney damage, and cardiovascular disease.

Food 4: High-Fat Meats

Meats high in fat can, obviously, cause a severe decrease in athletic performance. Athletes often look for leaner meats such as chicken, turkey, or most seafood to protect the body’s cardiovascular system. Additionally, athletes would be wise to cut off the excess fat from poultry, beef, or pork.

Food 5: Ice Cream

While ice cream and most junk foods are not harmful in moderation, consuming these products immediately before or after a game can be. A standard serving size of ice cream contains high levels of fat along with several tablespoons of sugar. Eating this several times a week can lead to not only weight gain, but an increase in cravings for sugary foods in general.

Food 6: Microwaveable Popcorn

Most brands of microwave popcorn contain artificial ingredients such as preservatives, sodium, fat, and sugar. While plain popcorn has only a few calories, microwaveable popcorn with excessive amounts of butter is often processed with several substances. Preparing air-popped popcorn for a snack is a much healthier choice, especially athletes.

Tips to Help Avoid Stress Eating

There’s arguably nothing more satisfying than eating while you are hungry. However, this is not to be confused with stress eating. Stress eating is characterized by consuming food in response to your emotional state rather than simply hunger. Basically, your mood dictates when you eat, and how much you consume in one sitting. This can be an especially unhealthy lifestyle, but there are ways present to combat stress eating. Here are some tips for you to avoid this behavior and return to a normal pattern of food consumption.

Practice Breathing

Taking a deep breath is a powerful tool for you to use in response to stress eating. This is because breathing controls the portion of the brain that controls the flight or fight response that is activated in the sympathetic nervous system. This will help calm you down and the urge to eat or binge should decrease.

Eat With a Conscious

If you eat consciously, it removes all of the rushed nature of stress eating. Take smaller bites and allow yourself to fully appreciate what you are eating. When you become a conscious eater, you will then learn to understand the difference between when you are full and when you are eating for the sake of eating.

Change Your Approach

Believe it or not, stress eating is all about your approach to the situation. Stress eating is predicated on conflicting emotional feelings. This means changing your lifestyle and switching to a healthier diet. Once you do that, you will appreciate the value of indulgence. Unless you are on a specialized diet, stick to foods that are healthy yet filling. The habit of stress eating may slowly wither away as a result.

Examine Your Feelings First

Arguably the most important thing you can do before stress eating is examining your own emotional state beforehand. Self-reflection is an important tool for stress eaters because stress eating is not about what you are eating, but what is going on in your head at the time. Examine if you are breathing correctly. Is your heart racing a bit faster than it should? Observe your thoughts and your physical behavior, and try to slow down.

Stress eating can be difficult to overcome, but these simple steps can help you exponentially.

Fighting Constant Hunger and Maintaining Fitness

It isn’t something many people are proud to admit, but the average caloric intake of Americans today is 20% higher than it was in 1970, and more often than not, our average meals greatly exceed those of other countries in terms of size. So, why is it that many of us are so hungry so frequently? While excessive eating could certainly be a factor, it’s excessive snacking that seems to be our nutritional downfall.

According to personal trainer Sam Wood, there are various reasons why many people find it difficult to suppress their appetites throughout the day. From a sociological standpoint, we’ve been conditioned to believe that more is better when eating. Our average portion sizes as Americans are much larger than what is recommended by health professionals. Even worse, the actual food on our plates is not always what our bodies need.

One prominent issue that has taken the dietary world by storm is the notion that highly caloric foods are unhealthy. Believing this eliminates healthier fats and great sources of protein from one’s diet, seeing as both have higher calorie contents. Carbohydrates are another group of important nutrients that have been cast in a bad light as well, albeit they should be complex carbs and not processed. Complex carbs come with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The goal is to feel comfortably full for as long as possible. Healthy fats, foods rich in protein, and complex carbs will do just that.

The time of day at which you eat could also be beneficial (or detrimental) as well. For example, intermittent fasting allows you to eat all your daily foods within an 8-hour window, thus preventing you from snacking late at night, or eating too early, then feeling hungry again before 10:00 a.m. Though this may sound challenging, there are some helpful rules to abide by:

  • Never eat when bored or due to emotions
  • Meal prep
  • Grocery shop once a week
  • Shoot for 21 meals a week

Sticking to one strict routine can prove challenging. Don’t feel as though this is the key to optimal fitness. Changing it up can actually be highly beneficial. For example, some of the most common breakfast foods include bagels, cereal, white toast, etc., all of which are high in carbs that lead to you quickly feeling hungry soon after. More filling foods like eggs, greek yogurt, quinoa can have you feeling fuller longer, while also giving you a protein boost early in your day.

Finding a diet that works for you is exactly that; one that is personal. Results will more than likely vary from person to person, but following these general guidelines could be very helpful.

The Healthiest Grocery Stores to Shop At

Your grocery shopping is extremely significant when it comes to the health of you and your family. There are many natural health food markets and supermarket chains that have expanded their health food offerings in recent years. More stores are beginning to exclude all foods and beverages that carry hydrogenated fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. Here is a list of the best grocery stores for your organic and all-natural health food needs.

  1. Whole Foods Market

You will find over 420 Whole Foods Market stores in the United States, The United Kingdom, and Canada. It is one of the largest supermarket chains in its class. Whole Foods has the widest variety of freshly caught seafood, organic fruits and vegetables, free-range chicken, and grass-fed beef. Their prepared foods are clearly labeled and never contain any additives or preservatives.

  1. Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s carries 80% of their own chain’s brands. While this grocery store is drastically smaller than your local supermarket, the food they do sell is often delicious and impressive. The meals in their brand contain no GMO’s, trans fats, MSG, or artificial preservatives. Trader Joe’s is truly unique and includes gourmet foods, vegetarian, organic, and alternative items for a vegan or vegetarian diet.

  1. Publix Super Markets

Publix stands out above their competition by making healthy eating a family affair. Pregnant women can join Publix Baby Club and receive newsletters about infants and earn special coupons. They have their own brand of pre-packaged organic foods called “GreenWide.” Publix makes it their focus to guide their patrons towards the produce that is the freshest and most nutritious.

  1. Natural Grocers

Based in Colorado, Natural Grocers now has over 90 stores in 14 states. You will find shelves stocked with organic produce, dietary supplements, vitamins, natural and organic food, and natural body products. Natural Grocers makes a free nutritional health coach available to all of its customers.

  1. Sprouts Farmers Market

Similar to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, Sprouts is a chain of over 200 grocery stores that focus on healthy foods, supplements, and fresh produce. Their prices make them extremely competitive with their all-natural and higher-priced competitors. On a daily basis, you will find nutritious fruits, fresh vegetables, a full-service deli, wholesome grains, nuts and sweets, and seafood and meat counters that even make handmade sausages and burgers. Sprouts Farmers Market fully stocks their shelves with ready-to-eat meals, freshly baked goods, gluten-free groceries, and gourmet cheeses, as well.

Testosterone-Boosting Foods for the Male Diet

Testosterone is a male hormone responsible for hair growth, sperm production, and building healthy bones. As men age, or suffer from chronic illness, they lose testosterone which can cause low libido and other medical issues. Testosterone replacement therapy can help men by using medication in the form of pills, patches, or gels. However, there are natural ways to prevent low T levels; by consuming these testosterone-boosting foods.

  1. Tuna

Tuna fish is loaded with vitamin D, which is linked to testosterone production. Tuna is also rich in protein, low in calories, and good for heart health. Both fresh and canned fish can naturally boost testosterone levels. Besides tuna, sardines and salmon are other excellent sources of vitamin D.

  1. Egg yolks

Another rich source of vitamin D, egg yolks contain more nutrients than egg whites and can increase low testosterone. You can safely eat one egg yolk per day if your cholesterol levels are in check.

  1. Fortified cereals

If you have to watch your blood cholesterol, you can still raise your T levels during breakfast with fortified cereals. Many ready-to-eat kinds of cereals on the market today are enriched with a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, niacin, iron, riboflavin, and folic acid.

  1. Oysters

Zinc is a vital nutrient that keeps male hormones at regular levels from puberty through adulthood. Oysters are a good source of zinc and are beneficial for men with zinc deficiencies. A daily dose of zinc can increase T levels, especially during weight training. Consumption of oysters has shown to increase the amount of sperm in your semen. They also contain D-aspartic acid which dramatically increases the synthesis of testosterone in the testes.

  1. Beef

While eating too much beef has been linked to certain cancers, some cuts have nutrients to increase testosterone. Chuck roast and ground beef contain zinc, and beef liver has a high source of vitamin D. Choose only lean cuts of beef and avoid eating it on a regular basis.

  1. Beans

Beans are full of plant-based proteins, zinc, and vitamin D, and is powerful at protecting the heart. Choose from kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas or lentils to give yourself a good dose of testosterone-boosting nutrition. Beans provide a winning combo being both low in fat and high in protein.