Let’s Talk About Fitness Watches

They are so trendy now. You know, Apple Watches, Fitbits, GPS tracking watches…there are so many to choose from! Are they beneficial? Are they detrimental? Should you get one?

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Honestly, I always kind of wanted a fitness band to track my workouts…I really didn’t care about anything else other than my activity level and calorie burn. I am a runner, and I hated having to carry my phone with me on my runs to track my distance…a watch would be so convenient…

 

When I graduated the summer of 2017, my parents got me a TomTom GPS watch for my grad gift. I WAS IN LOVE! I could track my distance when I went hiking, biking, swimming, and running. I workout in the gym a lot and do dance fitness classes too, so there is a “gym” feature for that as well. It even keeps up with my daily steps and calorie goals.  I could then start setting weekly goals for myself to feel accomplished after a long week.

 

So that’s it. I love my watch. Everyone should have one…

 

Not necessarily.

 

There are so many benefits to having a fitness watch, but there are a few things I don’t love about them, and these watches may not be for everybody.

 

For starters, I don’t love how some watch brands cause people to be unhealthily competitive. This brand of watch has the option to “add friends” and then you are able to compete with them daily and weekly on your workouts. There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition here and there, but I had classmates in college who were obsessed with “beating” the other person in “who could get the most steps in today”. These type of settings can become detrimental if you’re constantly trying to beat the other person for daily steps or daily calorie burn…because guess what? Every BODY is different, and some people naturally burn more calories than others. Or, some people may not be “working out” more but have a more active job therefore they get more steps in. Regardless, these competition applications can convince you to have the mindset of “I am better than you” because I got more steps in today.

Your workout should be for you only. You are your only competition. It does not matter what anyone else is doing, compete with yourself.

 

Secondly, sometimes these watches may cause negative thoughts. Typically, when you first purchase the watch, you answer a bunch of questions about yourself…your gender, age, height, weight, activity level, and so on. The watch does a pretty good job at calculating calorie needs and burns through the anthropometric data, but there is a component missing from these watches. The watch cannot tell how much muscle mass you have…

I get so caught up on the calorie burn during a workout…my watch has a built in heart rate monitor (which many watches do not have), so it does a pretty accurate depiction on what a 155 lb. woman in her 20’s would burn (though not 100% accurate), however, my watch does not know my muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism is, thus the more calories you burn throughout the day. I try not to get too obsessed with the “calories burned” section of my watch because I know that my body is naturally burning more while resting because I have quite a bit of muscle. However, if I do not meet my calorie goal for a workout, I feel bad about myself and wonder why I haven’t burnt as much…

“Why did I only burn 400 calories doing my dance fitness class today, but yesterday I burnt 550 calories? Did I not go hard enough?  I should push myself harder, but I am tired…”

Those are the thoughts that go through my head when I pay attention to those numbers. I think watches can be a good thing, but I think they can cause you to put yourself down, too. The important thing is that you are being active and listening to your body. If you are too tired to keep going, then stop. Your body is telling you to. On the flip-side, if you are kind of tired but could keep going, then keep going until you’ve had enough. The only thing that should indicate whether you are “finished” should be the way your body feels.

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Now, should we all go throw away our fitness watches? Of course not. As I said before, I love my watch. My watch works for me and my fitness activities…but I do not have “friends” on my watch to compare myself to, and I listen to my body during a workout. I do not categorize my workout as “good” if I burn a certain number of  calories…I base it on how I physically feel afterwards.

 

Challenge for the week: Try not to focus so much the watch settings during your workout…listen to your body. If your watch becomes an obsession, try going a few days without tracking your calories and steps. Really get back to listening to your body during your workouts.

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Follow me on social media!
Facebook: Live Better with Kat Detter

Instagram: @betterwithkatdetter_rd

 

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

We’ve all heard it…”eat more protein if you’re working out”…

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But what does that really mean?  For the average individual who starts walking for an hour after work–do they really need to bulk up the protein?

For the person who wants to lose weight the “easy” way and not exercise, does higher protein diet benefit their goal?

So many questions, so many opinions…today I am going to share some research with you and my own opinion based on evidenced-based literature.

 

**Disclaimer: I am going into detail of what protein is and how much our bodies need for various different activity levels…HOWEVER I do not typically promote macro/calorie counting for the average individual BECAUSE I believe in mindful eating, balance, and not obsessing over food…if you listen to your body and eat a well rounded, balanced diet, you should be eating adequate amounts of protein, carbs, and fat.**

 

First off, what is protein?

Well, in short, protein is made up of amino acids that build muscle, support metabolism, carry out cellular communication, heal wounds and repair cellular damage–just to name a few. Amino acids help our nails, hair, and skin look and feel healthy. So–it sounds like protein is a very important macronutrient–and it IS! We need protein.

There are 20 amino acids–9 of which are essential, meaning our bodies do not make them. This means we have to get those 9 essential amino acids from the food we eat. Foods like lean poultry, fish, beef, eggs, dairy and plant based proteins like legumes and grains. Animal and soy protein contain all 9 essential amino acids while other plant based proteins like beans, rice and corn are missing a couple amino acids. However, legumes and grains compliment one another making them a “complete” protein…so eating plant based protein is just as beneficial as animal proteins–maybe even a smidge better because they contain fiber. (you know me and fiber…build that healthy colon!)

 

Alright,  now we know what protein is and what it does for us…so how much do we need?

That question is such a debatable one…considering fitness industries promote all kinds of supplements…”Eat protein and have big muscles”…

And sadly, some people believe that…”If I eat over 100 grams of protein a day, then I will build muscle”…

Negative. The only way to build muscle is to work out. It is that simple. You cannot expect to eat more than the recommended amounts of protein and gain muscle mass. Your body does not work that way. You HAVE to put effort in the gym (or home workouts) to build lean muscle. Protein does, however play an important role in rebuilding the muscle fibers being “torn” during your workout. You cannot have one without the other.

 

Protein Recommendations

As far as recommendations of protein, the average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram. Through my research, it amazes me how many fitness industry websites recommend 0.8 grams per pound of body weight…can you imagine?

Note: 1 kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds. 

I’m roughly 155 lbs…155 lbs. x 0.8 grams=124 grams protein, meaning I need to consume 124 grams of protein as a sedentary individual…(if I followed the 0.8 grams per pound of body weight recommendation).

Following the 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram recommendation, I would need 56 grams of protein (155 lbs. / 2.2 lbs. = 70.4 kg; 70.4 kg x 0.8 grams = ~56 grams protein). Do you see the difference? That is nearly half of what you’d be getting following the “per pound” calculation…It is so important to calculate our needs using our weight in kilograms versus pounds.

However, I am not sedentary. I workout 6 days of the week doing various cardio and resistance training exercises…the recommendation for active individuals is 1.2-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram…again, some parts of the fitness industry promote 1.2-1.8 grams per pound…

So, if I were to eat 1.2-1.8 grams per pound I would be consuming 186-279 grams of protein DAILY. What does that look like? Typically, 1 ounce of meat, dairy, eggs and plant based protein contain about 7 grams of protein (the figure below will give a more accurate representation of the grams of protein in high protein foods). You would ultimately have to consume 26-40 servings of protein each day. Holy cow! That is 1116 calories in protein alone…keep in mind that all food contains a combination of the macros (protein, fat, and carbs) all of which contain different calorie components.

protein needs
picture found at https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/ultimate-list-40-high-protein-foods.html

 

What happens when you consume too much protein?

A dissertation research article by Jake Fenwich in the UK showed that the average non-athlete male who works out regularly consumes 2.48 grams of protein per kilogram per day…that is still above recommendations for active individuals(1.2-1.8 g/kg). [2] We live in a very protein-heavy nation, but if we do not utilize that extra protein by building lean muscle, then that extra protein can do a couple of things…

  1. Store extra protein as fat

  2. Excrete excess amino acids in urine (wasteful)

  3. Long term= weight gain (especially if your overall calorie intake increases because you are increasing protein)

So in short, yes you need extra protein if you are vigorously working out and “tearing” your muscles (1.2-1.8 g/kg)…but for the average sedentary individual, stick to the 0.8 grams of protein/kilogram.

 

What about weight loss? Can’t eating more protein help you lose weight?

The idea behind this thought is that protein promotes satiety–feeling full after a meal…so you would not need to eat as much altogether because you would be “full” from the high protein diet.

Which is more satisfying:

  1. Having 2 scrambled eggs with 1/2 cup of cooked grits for breakfast

OR

2. Having 1/2 cup of cooked grits with a slice of toast and jelly for breakfast

I think we can all agree that we would be more satisfied for a longer period of time when eating the eggs with the grits versus toast with grits. This is because eggs are rich in protein, which will keep us full for a longer period of time. Also, the protein in the eggs will cause our blood sugars to increase gradually instead of abruptly by just consuming carbs alone.

A meta-analysis study by Ernaehrungs Umschau International titled “Protein Paradox” suggested that high protein diets do show minor beneficial results in overweight individuals short term.[1] This would not be something you’d want to do long term–goes back to my point of excess protein leading to fat storage, amino acid waste in urine, and overall weight gain.

My Advice

Really think about what category you fit into…

Are you a mostly sedentary individual who does not get a lot of movement? You still need protein…but not as much as those who are gaining muscle mass. Stick with the 0.8 grams protein/kilogram recommendation.

Are you a lightly active individual who enjoys going on walks in the evenings or participates in light aerobic activity a couple times a week? I would still stick with the 0.8 grams protein/kilogram recommendation because our bodies are meant to be slightly active and that amount of protein would be sufficient.

Are you an avid exerciser partaking in weight lifting, sports training, regular running, frequent intense biking, or any other vigorous sport/exercise/work most days of the week? You would want to follow the 1.2-1.8 grams/kilogram recommendation because your body is wearing and tearing your muscles and they need to be rebuilt…sufficient extra protein will help rebuild those muscles and make them stronger…just be sure to not exceed your needs regularly as it could lead to unwanted weight gain.

 

Hopefully you have a better understanding on what protein is and what is does for our body, and ultimately what happens when we exceed our daily limits.  Challenge for the week (and hopefully adapted into your lifestyle): calculate your protein needs and see if your consuming the recommended allowance for your particular activity level.

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing,
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Follow me on social media!

Facebook: Live Better with Kat Detter

Instagram: @betterwithkatdetter_rd

 

 

 

 

References:
  1. Ernaehrungs-umschau.de. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.ernaehrungs-umschau.de/fileadmin/Ernaehrungs-Umschau/pdfs/pdf_2018/02_18/EU02_2018_Special_englisch.pdf [Accessed 29 Oct. 2018].
  2. Fenwick, J. (2018). An investigation into the dietary practices, beliefs and knowledge of protein in resistance training male gym goers between 18-45 years of age.. [online] Repository.cardiffmet.ac.uk. Available at: https://repository.cardiffmet.ac.uk/handle/10369/9945 [Accessed 29 Oct. 2018].
Picture References:
  1. https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/ultimate-list-40-high-protein-foods.html

Healthy Holiday Hacks

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…almost! November is here, which means turkey day is near with Christmas right around the corner…

Did you know that the average person gains roughly 1-2 pounds during the holiday season? Are you surprised? This may not seem like a big deal…1-2 pounds is not that much…however studies show that the weight gained during the holidays may become an overall pattern for the upcoming year…and no one’s resolution is to gain unhealthy amounts of weight! (1)

Have no fear! We can still enjoy our holiday parties and activities without busting a button. Here are my healthy holiday hacks.

  1. Stay Active

While I am a registered dietitian and believe nutrition is key to living a better life, holidays are a time to splurge…and exercise is just as important–and maybe a little more during the holidays. The season is so busy, so many parties, shopping trips, and get-together’s with family that it becomes too easy to “forget” to work-out, but I assure you this is something you do not want to do!

Exercising will help you burn off those extra pumpkin pie calories that you would not eat on a normal day as well as help you not feel as sluggish after a heavy meal. It could be as simple as going for an evening walk after Thanksgiving dinner with your family. Or, better yet, schedule time for your workout! There are tons of holiday run/walk races this time of year.

If you know the only time you have to workout is in the morning before your holiday gatherings, make time for it. Set a reminder on your phone. Pick an accountability partner. Do something fun that you can enjoy. Staying active is key in forgoing that dreaded holiday gain (not to mention the crappy feeling after a huge meal).

2. Don’t Skip Meals

“What? I know I will stuff my face sick at the family gathering at 1:00pm, so I am going to fast all morning so I can eat as much as I want…”

Think again! This is probably the worst thing you could do, because your body is going to be so hungry for that meal that:

1) your eyes are bigger than your stomach, so you stuff your plate full of food

2) you overeat

3) you feel miserable, can’t move, but still want to hit up the dessert table.

We’ve all been there, am-i-right?? Thanksgiving should be a memorable, enjoyable time…and I know I can’t enjoy the company or annual Grant corn-hole tournament after overeating at the meal…

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Instead of skipping breakfast just to gorge yourself in the afternoon, I suggest having a light breakfast packed with protein and healthy fats to get you going…you can skip the extra carbs if you know you will be indulging in more festive treats in the afternoon…but don’t skip on food altogether.

3. Scan the buffet before making your plate.

You know the feeling…you grab your plate and head to the food bar, and everything looks so good and it’s so overwhelming that you just put a scoop of everything on your plate…

Did you know that the average amount of calories consumed at Thanksgiving dinner alone is ~3,000 calories? (2) That is not even including desserts and possible after dinner drinks. Think about the standard American Thanksgiving dinner…

It includes: mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, corn pudding, squash casserole, macaroni and cheese, and of course–turkey. A lot of those casseroles contain generous helpings of saturated fat and hidden refined sugar.

My advice is to pick your top 2-3 favorite sides to go along with your turkey. You can even forgo the extra dinner rolls to save some empty calories. As always, load up on the non-starchy veggies like the Brussels sprouts, fresh salads, and asparagus–then choose 2-3 of your favorite sides and turkey.

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Photo by Foodie Factor on Pexels.com

What does a Thanksgiving plate look like for me? I would fill half my plate up with non starchy veggies before handling the casseroles. I would then choose sweet potato casserole and dressing, and a small piece of turkey (I am not a huge meat eater). That sounds like a happy plate to me!

If you prefer the dinner as opposed to the dessert, then allow yourself to have a second helping of your favorite casserole instead of that pumpkin pie.

As for me, gimme that pie! 🙂

photo of pumpkins
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

4. Choose your beverages wisely.

The holidays are a time to celebrate–and for some people that includes alcohol. Go easy on your drinks because alcohol contains 7 empty calories per gram of alcohol consumed–that may not mean much to you now, but it adds up-and alcohol contains no nutrients in it whatsoever.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat my calories than drink them…however, if you get in the holiday spirit with a cocktail or glass of wine, check out some “healthier cocktail” recipes on Pinterest. 

5. GIVE THANKS

Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years, remember to give thanks with a grateful heart. It is so easy to get  caught up in the “now” and business of everyday life, but take time this holiday season to write down what you are thankful for. I know I am counting my blessings…and it gives me hope for the next year to come!

Happy Holidays!

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Follow me on Social Media!
Facebook: Live Better with Kat Detter

Instagram: @betterwithkatdetter_rd

Sources
  1. Patch.com. (2018). Patch.com – GDPR. [online] Available at: https://patch.com/us/across-america/how-much-weight-do-most-people-gain-over-christmas [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].
  2. Korn, M. (2018). How Many Calories Americans Will Eat on Thanksgiving. [online] ABC News. Available at: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/calories-americans-eat-thanksgiving/story?id=43690796 [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].

Go-To Food Swaps

We all have those foods we love but maybe aren’t the most nutrient dense options for us. Today I am going to break down some of my favorite food swaps that are my go-to’s when craving something not so forgiving to my waistline (and overall health)…

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Before I  continue, I want to express how I believe you can indulge in your favorite treat occasionally. Our bodies are smart and know how to handle some sugar and grease here and there, but make sure these “treats” truly are occasional.

How to know if it is truly “occasional”? Set goals for yourself! For me, I set monthly goals. I have certain foods I only eat once a month. For example, my husband and I go on ice cream dates once a month so I can get my real ice cream fix. That is an occasional, monthly treat we do together. I do the same thing with other favorite foods that do not sit well with me–like pizza and french fries. Everybody’s goal is different–this is what works well for me so I do not feel deprived but am still staying on track with my healthy lifestyle.

 

  1. Craving something sweet?

Chocolate bars, Reese cups, ice cream, warm chocolate chip cookies, fudgy brownies…..ahhh yes. We all crave these every now and again! If it is not time for your occasional treat, I suggest swapping the high fat, sugar and calorie dense dessert for a more nutritious option listed below:

  • Dark Chocolate (70% or more) with natural peanut butter spread on top: Sweet, satisfying…dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and natural peanut butter is a good plant-based protein and fat source.
  • Dessert Smoothie: Using frozen bananas, peanut butter, dark chocolate cocoa powder, and honey, you can make your own “nice cream”; if you’re feeling spunky, you can even add some frozen riced cauliflower to bump up the nutrients and fiber.
  • Halo Top (Arctic Zero or Enlightened): These ice creams are low in calorie and sugar and are actually packed with protein. My favorite flavors are the s’mores, mocha chocolate chip, and strawberry Halo Top ice creams. Try to stick with 1-2 servings at a time (1/2-1 cup).
  • Energy Bites: My favorite go-to snack when I need a nice pick-me-up in the afternoon. Try my recipe! Mix together 1 cup of old fashioned oats, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed, 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut, 2/3 cup of natural peanut butter, and 3 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips. Refrigerate for a few hours then use a cookie scoop to form balls out of mixture. Should make about 24 balls. These also work great as a pre-workout snack.

 

2. Craving french fries?

I have a few hacks on fries! I LOVE french fries, and I rarely (and I mean rarely) order them because I can’t eat just a few…and they are loaded with trans fats and calories. I like it when other people order fries and I can steal a couple of them (thanks, hubs!).

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • Make your own! Potatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium, B6, fiber (in the skin) and magnesium. My favorite potatoes to make are “oven fries” with Yukon Gold or sweet potatoes. Wash your potatoes well. Chop potatoes into your favorite size (I like steak fries). In a bowl, mix in 1-2 tablespoons of canola or avocado oil (high smoke point), salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, and a dash of red chili flakes. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 400 degrees flipping half way through.
  • You could also use the method above for all veggies including: broccoli, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, or rutabagas to get the same effect with even more fiber and nutrients.
  • Cauliflower or Broccoli Tots! I like the Green Giant brand-loaded with fiber and super quick to prepare. You could be “extra” and make your own (which I have done before), but I like the convenience of these tots when I am in a bind.

 

3. Craving Pizza?

Quite possibly my favorite food, pizza is a staple in my house hold…but I typically make my own crust from scratch and load the pies up on veggies and low sugar tomato sauce to make a complete, balanced meal. If you’re not into making whole wheat pizza dough from scratch (because it is work!), see some quick hacks below!

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Homemade Cauliflower Crust: Was really good but I am still perfecting my recipe. Store bought cauli-crusts are delicious!
  • Use 100% whole wheat English muffins (like Ezekiel brand: wholesome ingredients) as the “crust” and add your favorite toppings on top. Of course, the more veggies the better! Stick with just a sprinkle of cheese, and if you like meats on your pie, stick with one variety.
  • Portabello mushroom caps as the “crust” and use the same concept from above. When cooked correctly, these can be delish! Place the mushroom on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from oven and place your sauce and toppings on top. Bake for another 20 or so minutes until cheese is golden.
  • CAULIFLOWER CRUST! My newest obsession…you will be amazed. I love it more than real crust to be honest with you! You can make it yourself (which I am still perfecting my recipe) OR look in your local grocery store for pre-made cauliflower crusts in the freezer section. They are super convenient and most crusts have 2 per box: score! I found the Caulipower brand at Publix. Some pizza restaurants (like Village Inn) also carry the cauliflower crust option.

 

4. Craving burgers?

Many Americans love their burgers, especially during cook-out season. And in all honesty, it is super easy to make burgers a part of a healthful diet!

food salad healthy italian
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • When choosing ground meat, opt for the 85% lean/15% fat ratio. They may not be quite as juicy, but you will be saving saturated fat and calories with this option. Research shows that too much saturated fat could potentially lead to heart disease–so be mindful when choosing your meat.
  • Forgo meat altogether! You heard me right…if you are truly having a hankering for a burger but are not ready for your splurge, opt for a black bean burger or some other veggie burger option. There are so many flavors out there now–Mediterranean chickpea, garden burgers, tomato basil…the list goes on!
  • Ditch the bun: Make a lettuce wrap! Sometimes when eating a burger, the bun can get soggy fast, especially if you like to load it down with toppings and condiments. Get some nice leafy romaine lettuce to wrap your burger up in and add all the toppings you like. You could use iceberg, but dark green, leafy veggies are more nutrient rich containing folate, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It will taste so fresh you won’t even miss the bread. You will be swapping out the refined carbs for some veggies: that is always a win!

 

Try any of these hacks when you are hitting that craving slump and I promise you will be satisfied.  Do you have any food swap hacks? Comment below and tell me about them! I would love to try.

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing !
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Follow me on social media!
Facebook: Live Better with Kat Detter
Instagram: @betterwithkatdetter_rd