A Calorie is a Calorie Myth

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It has been well understood that in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, one must reduce overall calorie consumption and increase calorie expenditure through physical activity. One pound of body weight equals 3500 calories (so to lose one pound a week, one must decrease food intake by 500 cals/day), but not all calories are created equal!

Get the Most Bang For Your Buck

When trying to lose or maintain weight, it is best to choose your calories wisely; this means that in order to get "more bang for your caloric buck", choose foods that will positively affect your health. If most of your calories come from fatty foods like red meat, sausage, fried foods, baked goods, and creamy dishes, then blood cholesterol levels tend to be higher, which in turn can lead to clogged arteries and other cardiovascular diseases. Consuming most of your calories from healthier sources like lean protein (beans, nuts, white meats), vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, and whole grains will have a positive effect on cholesterol and blood sugar levels which leads to a steady release of energy and an overall feeling of wellness.

Another benefit of selecting healthier foods towards your daily calorie goal is that you will feel full (not hungry!) even while losing weight. Calories that come from sugary, refined foods like candy, white breads, sugary cereals, and white potatoes will cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels followed by a surge of insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down. When blood sugar rises and falls at rapid rates, you tend to feel hungry more often and have less energy. On the other hand, a diet that is rich in whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy (unsaturated) fats will allow blood sugar levels to rise and fall at a steadier, more controlled pace, leaving you feeling satisfied between meals and more energetic. 

UFO’s

Beware of dietary “UFOs”, or Unidentifiable Food-like Objects. This term refers to foods that are highly processed, contain many chemicals, and offer very little (if any) nutritional value for the calories they contain. Choosing whole foods that are closer to their natural state will help maximize the health benefits of the foods you are eating. The calories that come from whole, natural foods will help you in meeting your health goals and feeling the best you can.

 

 

A Calorie is a Calorie Myth Graphic

image sources: http://www.ihearexercisewillkillyou.com/2013/05/peanut-free-chewy-granola-bars.html, http://www.myjewishlearning.com/blog/rabbis-without-borders/2013/02/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SnackWells, http://talesfromthelou.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/the-nasty-nine-food-additives-to-avoid/

Your Brain on Sleep

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Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and the Army Performance Triad. Signs of sleep deficiency such as lack of energy and concentration are usually pretty apparent. However, research has demonstrated the negative effects of sleep loss extend much further than feeling a little tired. Sleep plays a crucial role in both mental and physical performance. Without the proper amount of sleep, the body is prone to injury, fatigue, stress, muscle weakness, and poor focus. In fact, the body declines in physical performance by 25% every 24 hours that it is deprived of sleep. Conversely, a fully rested body can think more clearly, make better decisions, and perform at a physically optimal level.

Sleep and Mental Performance

Memory

During sleep, the brain consolidates long-term memory into storage, removing the short-term memory stores to allow for the absorption of more information. Being well-rested also improves working memory.

Mood

A lack of sleep can increase irritability and mood swings. A general absence of emotion can also result from not getting enough sleep. During sleep, the body releases hormones. Premature waking can disrupt the delivery of these hormones, causing moodiness.

Focus and Concentration

Having a full night of rest increases the brain’s ability to concentrate. Sleep also improves alertness and reaction times.

Multitasking

During sleep, the brain prioritizes information. Sleep is also important in the formation of new ideas and the ability to multitask.

Logical Reasoning

Without sleep, it is harder for the brain to perform higher level cognitive functions, such as mathematical concepts. A well-rested brain is able to reason and think more clearly.

Sleep and Physical Performance

Energy and endurance

Sleep increases energy stores in the body used to fuel physical activity and exercise.  Without enough sleep, insulin resistance and a decrease in glucose tolerance occurs. This means the body cannot readily utilize fuel for physical activity as efficiently as when it gets a full night’s sleep.

Muscle recovery

During sleep, the body is able to recover and repair damaged muscles and bones.

Stress

Sleep reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Without enough sleep, cortisol levels increase, which can lead to slowed healing, increased risk of injury, and poor memory.

Accuracy and reaction time

Sleep can also improve brain function, which helps improve accuracy and reaction time related to focus and athletic performance.

Bottom Line

Sleep loss impairs both mental and physical performance. After 24 hours without sleep, mental and motor skills are impaired at the same level as someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10-legally drunk in all 50 states. For those who are struggling with sleep or simply not prioritizing it to the top of their list, start by setting some simple goals tonight!

Try to keep these sleep practices on a regular basis:*

· Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool.

· Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual (such as a hot bath).

· Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.

· Avoid caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening.

· Wind down. Spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading.

 

*Resource: The National Sleep Foundation

Navigating the Buffet

Like all buffet-style dining, the dining facility offers a vast selection of food options. Before you enter the DFAC, prepare yourself to say no to unhealthy items because they will inevitably be available. Despite popular belief, there are healthy meal options at every DFAC. If you’re not sure which food items are the healthiest, pay attention to the “Go for Green” labeled foods.  These foods are high performance, healthy food options. 

Make a Healthy Plate  

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Try One of These

  • Salad with extra vegetables and fruit topped with protein source (lean meat, beans, chick peas)
  • Turkey sandwich on wheat bread with vegetables and low-fat cheese and mustard or low-fat mayonnaise
  • Burger with low-fat cheese on wheat bread with side of grilled or steamed vegetables
  • Chick pea or bean salad with added vegetables and vinaigrette-based or low-fat salad dressing
  • Baked/boiled/grilled chicken or fish and steamed veggies with wheat roll

Just Say No!

  • Large portions. Don’t be afraid to ask for a smaller serving size
  • The snack line (pizza, fried chicken sandwich, French fries, pizza)
  • Ice cream, cake, cookies, and other desserts (try fruit instead)
  • Salads topped with heavy amounts of cheese, bacon, and/or fat-based salad dressings like ranch, blue-cheese, and thousand island
  • Soda, juice-cocktail, and sweet tea. Did you know that on average, a 20 ounce fountain soda has ≈225kcal and 50g of sugar? That’s a lot of sugar and calories for such a small drink
  • Vending machines. Vending machine foods are typically high in empty calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. Always have a healthy snack on hand to curb your appetite in between meals
  • Multiple trips. Do not return for second or third helpings.  Give yourself enough time (20-30 minutes) to “feel” full rather than eating seconds before you’ve had time to digest your food

Sports Drinks

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What to look for: natural sources of electrolytes like bananas & coconut water 

What to stay away from: sports drinks all together unless intensely exercising

Sports drinks are intended to maintain hydration and restore electrolyte balance lost during heavy exercise. Electrolytes are maintained in body fluids and needed for nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Electrolytes like sodium and potassium are lost through heavy sweat and must be replaced to keep the concentrations in your body fluids constant. But, buyer beware.  On average, sport drinks contain 20 grams of sugar in one 12 oz. serving.  That’s over 13 teaspoons of sugar in the average 32 ounce sport drink bottle. All of the added calories from sugar can seriously interfere with weight loss/maintenance efforts in addition to sending blood sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride of peaks and valleys. Therefore, it is important to know when sports drinks are appropriate and useful and when they are not necessary.

Sport drinks are ideally used by athletes engaged in high‐intensity workouts lasting 60 minutes or more. They are not recommended for routine consumption.  However, factors such as duration of exercise and weather conditions can affect the need for an athlete to supplement carbohydrate and electrolyte loss with a sport drink.  It is especially important to be mindful of electrolyte loss when exercising in high temperatures.

Most people exercising at a moderate-vigorous rate can stay hydrated and energized by eating a healthy meal or snack and drinking enough water prior to and during their workout. Check out the list below of electrolytes and common food sources for each.

Potassium-bananas, kiwis, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes

Magnesium- green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nut butters, pumpkin

Calcium- milk, yogurt, black eyed peas

Chloride- olives, tomatoes, celery

Sodium- The typical American diet is quite high in sodium, so dietary need to supplement is rare. However, nut butters are a healthy source of sodium if needed.

Physical Activity vs. Physical Fitness

As a Soldier, it is important to be physically active as well as physically fit to be prepared for combat. The terms physical activity and physical fitness are often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference in these terms.

The Differences

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Physical activity involves day-to-day actions that keep the body moving and blood flowing, whereas physical fitness consists of workouts that elevate heart rate and perspiration.  Both physical activity and physical fitness are equally important to a healthy lifestyle. 

For those looking to increase their daily physical activity amount, it may be helpful to insert small bouts of activity spread throughout the entire day. 

For example:

  • Take the stairs as often as possible
  • Park as far away from the door as possible
  • Go for a family walk after dinner (don’t forget the dog!)
  • If sedentary at work, take small “walking-breaks” at least once per hour         

FITT

Whether for personal fitness goals or in preparation for the APFT, service members are often searching for new ways to increase their physical fitness.  When creating a new workout, it is important to remember the FITT formula. The factors in this formula can determine the success of a fitness plan. Consider a few recommended guidelines regarding the FITT formula:

Frequency: 3-5 times/week

Intensity: target heart rate range

Time: 20-30 minutes

Type: varied  

FITT_army

 

Bottom Line: Although both are essential for a healthy lifestyle, there is a difference between physical activity and physical fitness.