Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exercise Activity Log

I was perusing around the internet for an activity log to show one of my nutrition classes today. I was a little disappointed by the options. Some logs are great for people who are just starting to exercise, but it's difficult to find a log for the advanced exerciser who may be using ACSM or NSCA general guidelines (rather than accumulating "x" number of minute/steps per day). On this log, I left out stretching, since static stretching is a bit controversial. I also didn't include warm-up or cool down components, but it is important to do both. I had a bit of trouble making a log that isn't overly complicated, but also has room for specific exercise/reps/sets. Please comment if you have any suggestions for modifications to this log or know of another good exercise log for the advanced exerciser!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fill Up on Fiber—Fight Fat?

Taking in loads of dietary fibers, which are found in natural foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grain cereals reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.1 As an added bonus, epidemiologic studies provide evidence that high dietary fiber intake prevents obesity and is inversely related to body weight. For instance, one study of 2909 participants (CARDIA) looked at the relationship between dietary fiber intake and weight gain over ten years.1 Participants with fiber intakes in the highest 1/5 of the study group had body weights that were significantly lower than those in the lowest 1/5 of fiber intake. Liu et al.2 used data from The Nurses Health Study, a study of 74,091 nurses over time, to show that women who increased dietary fiber the most gained about 3.3lb fewer pounds than women with the smallest fiber increase over 12 years. Increasing dietary fiber intake may allow an individual to maintain his or her weight over time.

In 2009, Tucker and Thomas reported the effect of women’s dietary fiber intake on weight gain and fat gain over 20 months, while controlling for factors like age, body weight, fat intake, energy intake and physical activity3. The women were asked to keep a 7–day weighed food record at the beginning of the study and after 20 weeks. The investigators determined that for every 1g decrease of dietary fiber intake (per 1000 kcal) per day, the women gained about 0.5lb (P=0.0061) and increased their body fat by about 0.25% (P=0.0052). On the other hand for every 1g (per 1000 kcal) of increased fiber consumption, the women lost about 0.5lb. When the weight changes were analyzed while controlling for overall energy intake, the association between a decrease in fiber intake and weight gain weakened, but was still significant. The change in body fat % was not ssignificant after controlling for overall energy intake.

Lean and Obese People

The modulation of weight by fiber intake may be dependent upon the initial size of participants. In the 12 year evaluation of the Nurses Health Study, as conducted by Liu et al.2, a 14g daily increase of daily fiber intake was associated with a reduction in weight gain of about 7.7lb over 12 years, on average. If the women were overweight at baseline, the reduction of weight gain was greater than in participants who were lean to begin with. In essence, high fiber intake may protect overweight participants from becoming obese. In fact, the risk of developing obesity was decreased by 50% for the women who increased their fiber intake to the highest 1/5 of the group.

In an analysis of 12 intervention studies Howarth et al.4 reported that an increase in dietary fiber intake of 14g/day is associated with a 4.2lb weight loss over 3.8 months. Furthermore, participants that were initially obese benefited from weight loss that was three times that of lean participants. These studies suggest that increasing dietary fiber, in addition to emphasis on Calorie intake and macronutrient composition may be very important an overweight or obese person tried to lose weight. Also, feeding kids a diet with sufficient dietary fiber may help to prevent excessive weight gain.5,6

Functional (Supplemental) Vs. Dietary Fibers

Though fiber supplements are marketed as a healthful addition to weight-loss diets, does the evidence support that fiber supplements will yield the same benefits observed for long-term dietary fiber intake? Unfortunately, the research has not been thorough enough to examine whether fiber supplements are as good as mixed dietary sources of fiber. And as research of fiber intake and LDL lipids ("bad" cholesterol) has suggested, different sources of dietary fiber have differential effects in the human body.6 Therefore, the association between each type of supplemental fiber and weight loss would have to be examined before definitive conclusions may be made about fiber supplement and weight loss. On the other hand, some reviews suggestthat fiber supplement in the amount of 6-7g/day may aid weight loss efforts in combination with a hypocaloric diet.7,8

How Does Fiber Work?

Many mechanisms have been suggested for how dietary fiber aids in weight management, including promoting satiation, decreasing absorption of calories, and altering secretion of gastrointestinal hormones, including ghrelin and CCK. Some researcher think that fiber helps with weight loss mostly through energy displacement (fiber bulk replaces foods with more calories in the diet), since the impacts of fiber intake on weight loss are much less when energy intake is controlled for statistically.


There is convincing evidence to suggest that increasing dietary fiber will reduce overall energy intake and promote weight loss or weight maintenance in overweight and obese individuals. Some studies show greater weight loss for people who receive a fiber supplement in combination with a low calorie diet7,8—the bulk of added fiber may make it easier for someone to follow a lower Calorie diet plan. The best approach is probably to eat a diet high in natural fibers from primarily fruits, vegetable, legumes and whole grains and maybe add a daily fiber supplement in the amount of 7-14g/day. Experimentally, oat bran, inulin, psyllium and guar gum may be good supplemental fiber choices.


  1. Ludwig DS, Pereira MA, Kroenke CH, Hilner JE, Van Horn L, Slattery ML, Jacobs DR Jr. Dietary fiber, weight gain and cardiovascular disease risk factors in young adults. JAMA. 1999;282:1539-1546.
  2. Liu S, Willet WC, Manson JE, Hu FB, Rosner B, Colditz G. Relation between changes in intakes of dietary fiber and grain products and changes in weight and development of obesity among middle aged women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78:920-927.
  3. Tucker & Thomas. Increasing Total Fiber Intake Reduces Risk of Weight and Fat Gains in Women. J Nutrition, 2009; 139:1-6.
  4. Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev 2001;59:129-139.
  5. Kimm SY. The role of dietary fiber in the development and treatment of childhood obesity. Pediatrics, 1995;96:1010-1014.
  6. Erkkilä AT & Lichtenstein AH. Fiber and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: How Strong Is the Evidence? The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 2006;21:3-8.
  7. Editorial. Dietary Fiber and Control of Body Weight. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 2007;17:1-5.
  8. Slavin JL. Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition, 2005;21:411-418.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Healthy 5 Cheese and Sausage Pizza

This pizza is rich and delicious! If you don’t use the word “healthy” when serving this dish, your guest (or family) will never know. To limit the sodium content, prepare your own pizza crust and sauce—this could reduce the sodium per slice by 200-500mg per serving, depending on the dough and sauce recipes. Enjoy!

1 uncooked whole wheat pizza crust (like Trader Joes; about )

½ cup crumbled/broken soft goat cheese

1 cup pizza sauce (homemade or canned)

¼ cup chopped tarragon leaves (or basil or oregano)

2 links reduced fat chicken sausage (like Trader Joes Tomato-Basil), cut in to slices

1 cup (about 4oz) shredded 2% mozzarella or 4-cheese Italian blend


Pre-heat oven to 450o F (232o C)

1. Allow pizza dough to stand to 30 minutes

2. Knead dough into an elastic ball (flour surface with whole wheat flour, if needed)--allow to rest for 3-5 minutes

3. Toss or roll out dough, so that it fits roughly on a 15 X 12” cookie sheet; allow to rest for 2 minutes

4. After waiting, sprinkle goat cheese evenly on top of the dough and press the cheese into the dough and spread the dough to the edges of the cookie sheet

5. Pour sauce evenly over the dough and smooth with the back end of a spoon.

6. Sprinkle the tarragon evenly over the sauce

7. Place the sausage slices evenly over the pizza

8. Sprinkle shredded 2% mozzarella evenly on top

9. Add to oven; cook for 12-15 minutes, until the edge of the crust is crisp and brown(er)—use oven light for viewing

10. If the cheese is not browned when the crust is crisp and brown, turn the broiler on high and broil for 1-2 until cheese on top is lightly browned and bubbly (do not walk away from the pizza while it is broiling)

11. Allow pizza to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 even slices with sharp pizza cutter

Serves 6

Nutrition (for 1/6 of recipe): 330 Calories, 11g fat, 850mg sodium, 41g carbohydrates, 5.5g fiber, 16.5g protein, 345mg calcium, 430mg potassium

Dr. Jean Gutierrez currently serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at The George Washington University. You may contact her directly at escjlj@gwumc.edu

Friday, May 15, 2009

Easy Beef Lasagna

This recipe is a throw together dish that can feed one person for several meals.  In order to avoid cooking the lasagne noodles ahead of time, prepare the casserole the night before you plan to eat it.  When you're ready for dinner, you need only pop it in the oven!


         cups cooked lean ground beef (96% or 90%) (Buy 1 lb)

         (26-oz.) jar fire-roasted tomato-and-garlic pasta sauce 

         (15-oz.) container low-fat ricotta cheese

1/2       cup shredded Parmesan cheese ( shredded kind in the little plastic tub will taste better)

         whole wheat lasagna noodles 

         cups (8 oz.) part skim or low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Stir together ground beef and pasta sauce. Stir together ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese.

2. Spread one-third of meat sauce in a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish; layer with 3 lasagna noodles and half each of ricotta cheese mixture and shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat procedure once. Spread remaining one-third of meat sauce over mozzarella cheese.

3.  Allow the dish to sit overnight

4. Bake, covered, at 375° for 1 hour; uncover and bake 15 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Note: Used Classico Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic pasta sauce.

Easy Turkey Lasagna: Substitute 3 cups cooked ground turkey for 3 cups cooked lean ground beef, and proceed as directed.

6 to 8 servings


Monday, March 9, 2009

Tips for Eating Out Healthfully!

1. At a burger-type fast food place, the safest choice is a plain salad lettuce and raw vegetable salad with grilled chicken breast.

- Top the salad with a small package of almonds, pecans, or sunflower seeds

- For dressing, stick with 1 tablespoon of oil and vinegar or a light dressing
- Choose vinaigrettes over creamy dressings

- Avoid croutons, cheese, and grilled bread on the side

- Avoid low-fat fruity dressings; they are usually loaded with added sugar

2. Not all salads are healthy
- Specialty salads are often laden with hidden sugars and saturated fats
- Ensure that meats are not breaded or cooked in butter before ordering

3. At a sit-down chain restaurant, a grilled or broiled lean protein, along with steamed, grilled or roasted vegetables on the side, is the most satisfying and healthy meal to order.

- The best protein sources to order at dinner chain restaurants are usually grilled chicken, grilled/broiled fish or shellfish, without added sauces or butter rub

- An appropriate protein portion should be about the size of your palm. ½ of a large portion may be immediately placed in a to go box before you enjoy the meal

- Bread and chips are mindless filler
- Layered, stuffed, or caked (like crab cake) meat dish are usually cooked with white flour and saturated fats

4. Avoid buffets like shark-infested waters!

- It’s nearly impossible to control exercise self control with a variety of foods easily accessible; many studies support this fact

- When at a buffet, load your plate with available raw vegetables and top with the grilled chicken, a hard-boiled egg and nuts

5. Limit alcohol in general. If you have a drink, enjoy it during or after the meal, not before.

- Alcohol limits inhibitions, it is harder to make the right food choices after a beer

- One glass of wine or beer may be enjoyed with or after dinner

- Most alcoholic beverages, especially mixed drinks, provide unneeded energy and may limit the body's ability to absorb vitamins

6. Look up the menu online before leaving; find a meal that includes a healthy source of protein (such as fish, chicken or legumes) and is low in saturated fats and carbohydrates. Make your choice before leaving home. Click here to search for the calories and other nutritional information of your favorite dishes!

7. In the case of a planned dinner or party, eat a small portion of protein before leaving home. Have a chicken breast the size of your palm to reduce hunger while waiting for you meal. This preventive strategy will allow you to refrain from unhealthy appetizers.

8. Always carry your own tuna or salmon (milder) packets and/or nuts in your gym bag, briefcase, or car. Yes, you'll be ridiculed , but you will also be able to order a plain salad and top it with a healthy protein source.

9. Stay hydrated with water throughout the day and at the dinner table. Thirst is sometimes mistaken for hunger.

10. Traditional desserts of any kind are not your friend (unless it's your birthday :-). If other diners are indulging, order a decaffeinated coffee.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Grocery Shopping Guide

You’ll gain a healthier pantry by following the following grocery shopping guidelines! Purchase mostly “whole” foods and avoid excess processing and packaging. Also please don't be fooled by terms like "natural" and "organic." All added sugars are from a "natural" source, so moderation shoulde used with "all-natural" cookies and similar products that may have an artificial coloring or flavoring!

1. Shop mostly around the perimeter
2. Avoid bags, boxes, pouches, wrappers, and other forms of packaging, in general
3. Make a list; don’t wander down certain aisles (you know, that one with all the chips and cookies ;-)
4. Choose wisely from the following groups:

- All fresh produce are good choices—even potatoes are good in moderation!
- Choose types that you will actually eat
- Pre cut and/or washed is fine. Make it easy on yourself!
- Bananas, bagged apples, bagged grapefruit, broccoli, sweet potatoes and spinach give you a lot of bang for your buck!
- Try frozen fruits and veggies without added sugar or sauces—they are usually an economical choice!

- Look for the word “whole” in the ingredients section of breads, pastas and cereals
- Whole kernels intact are even better: brown rice, quinoa, old-fashioned rolled or “steel-cut” oats
- At least 3g fiber per serving
- Less than 10g of sugar per serving of cereal
- Avoid pastries, cakes, cookies, etc.

- Choose “lean” types, with less than 5g of fat per 4 oz serving
- Chicken, fish, shellfish, 96% lean ground beef, top round roast (beef), center-cut pork tenderloin, eggs, egg whites, beans and soybeans all fit
- Avoid forms that are high in saturated fat and/or high in processing (salt and nitrates)

- Choose “lean” types, with <5g fat per serving b. Low-fat cheese sticks, low-fat cheddar, ground Parmesan/

- Romano, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese

- Choose plant and fish sources
- Choose “whole” forms—Nuts, olives, fish. Cooking with oil is preferable to cooking with butter or lard. Use PAM whenever possible

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bring a Lunch—Fast and Fit

A simple lunch sandwich at a deli can easily provide more than half your daily needs for Calories and fat. Try these ideas for a healthy lunch that will help you reach your goals!

1. Sandwiches/Wraps
Bread: Use a whole grain product, like whole wheat or rye bread, South Beach® tortilla wraps, or corn tortillas.

Meat/Protein: Grilled/baked chicken (made in bulk on the weekend); Peanut or Almond Butter—Tuna or Salmon Packet

Cheese: Cabot 50% or 75% light—babybel laughing cow light cheese—one slice of regular cheese

Spreads: Avoid Mayo—Choose Hummus—Mustard—Light Mayo

2. Salad*
Lettuce: Any kind you like: my favorites are spinach, romaine and arugula

Meat/Protein: Grilled Chicken—hrad-boiled egg—packet of salmon or tuna—low-fat cheese—2-4Tbsp of almonds, pecans or walnuts

Dressing: Newman’s Own light dressing (I like Asian Sesame and Balsamic)—spray dressing (Wishbone; Newman’s own)

3. Dairy and Fruit*

Dairy: Low-fat plain yogurt—light yogurt—low-fat cottage cheese
Fruit: Berries—Nectarine—light canned fruit
Avoid pre-fruited yogurt and pre-fruited cottage cheese

4. Steamable Vegetables and Fish*

Vegetables: Many companies are making vegetable packages that can be steamed in the bag

transfer to bowl and add one wedge of babybel laughing cow light cheese if you like creamy veggies

Fish: Add a packet of salmon or tuna

5. Large casserole or soup prepared on the Weekend

It may be convenient to make a large, healthy casserole or stew on the weekend and take a portion with you to work each day; these foods can also serve as quick meal when you get home!

Try making a healthy lasagna, beef stew or rice and beans!

6. Frozen Meals

Here are some of the best frozen meal choices: Low in saturated fats (2.5g or less); lower in sodium (700mg or less); low in added sugars (5g or less); decent protein content (15g or more). Several of the Kashi® and Healthy Choice® meals meet these guidelines

If there is a brand you like, try going to http://www.calorieking.com/ to check the nutritional value

*These options may be low calorie

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Five Healthy Protein Foods to Start Eating NOW

5 Healthy High-Protein Foods to Start Eating Now!

I think we know that prime rib is not the best nutrition choice, but what are some of the best high protein foods to include for health? There are several factors that may make a food a healthy choice, including:

  • Nutrient dense: high levels of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals per serving

  • Contain healthy sources of one or more macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat). For instance, complete protein, healthy fats, or high-carbohydrate foods with a lot of fiber.

  • Low calorie density: foods high in volume but low in energy. These foods are also high in water

  • Foods that protect us from chronic diseases

  • Low in the nutrients that may make us sick in the long term: saturated and trans fats, salt, refined carbohydrates (sugar and white breads), MSG an other preservative

1. Salmon and Other Fatty Fishes

Salmon and other fatty fishes have so many health benefits. These fish contain special and essential fats called omega-3-fatty acids. Why all the hype about some fat? As reviewed in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings by Dr. John Lee and his colleagues, two research studies showed that supplementing with two omega-3 oils naturally found in fish, DHA and EPA, resulted in 29% to 45% reduction in cardiovascular events for patients who were not taking prescription medications. Experts recommend that most people consume about two 3-4 ounce servings of fatty fish each week to maintain a healthy heart. Those who cannot stand to eat fish may consider taking a fish oil supplement instead. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals with heart disease take 1g of DHA/EPA each day. However, if you are being treated for heart disease, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any supplement program, since supplements may sometimes interact with prescription medications.

If salmon is not to your taste, consider trying herring, jack mackerel (the one that comes in a can) or tuna. All of these fish are also high in omega-3 fats and are also relatively low in mercury. Generally speaking, health experts agree that the benefits consuming fish, both wild and farmed, outweigh any potential risks from heavy metal contaminants potentially found in water-dwelling creatures. Though some other forms of omega-3 fats are available from plant sources, like flax seeds and walnut oil, these sources have not been shown to have the same cardio-protective benefits as the fish-derived omega-3 fats. Fish have “longer chain” (more carbons) in their omega-3 fats, as compared to plant omega-3 fats. As revealed by Dr. Plourde et al. in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, only about 5% of vegetable sourced omega-3 fats are converted to the active form in the body. In short, flax seed oil is still good for you, but fish is a superior source of omega-3 fats.

2. Black Beans

Black beans, and really all beans, are very healthy food choices. As reviewed by Dr. Donna Winham and her colleagues in Nutrition Today, research indicates that a diet rich in beans may help to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Furthermore, beans are good or excellent sources of many nutrients, including: protein, fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. In fact, ½ cup of cooked black beans has nearly 8 grams of fiber—that’s 3-4 times the amount in one slice of most whole wheat breads! Furthermore, black beans are a good source of vegetarian iron. Just remember that vegetarian iron sources are absorbed better with some source of acid, so you might want to add tomatoes and make a black bean chili ;-)

3. Eggs

Perhaps one of the most controversial protein sources of all time, eggs are back in the healthy nutrition spotlight. “Eggs aren’t the dietary demons they’re cracked up to be,” as stated by the Harvard Heart Letter in 2006. Though one large egg contains about 220 mg of cholesterol (about 70% of the maximum recommended amount for 1 day), in the context of a healthy diet, eggs can provide significant benefits. First, eggs are a good source of high quality protein. In fact, the protein content of a whole egg is nearly perfect.

Furthermore, eggs are a good source of choline, a nutrient linked to memory retention, vitamin A, vitamin D and iron. As reviewed in the Harvard Heart Letter above, dietary cholesterol is not the nutrient that’s most related to heart disease—saturated fats, trans fats and refined carbohydrates have a stronger association with high blood lipids and heart disease. With that said, if you are healthy, one egg per day, on average, will enhance your well-being.

4. Low-Fat Plain or Light Yogurt

Yogurt, like all low-fat dairy, is a good source of high quality protein, calcium, and potassium. Even better, yogurt often provides probiotics. Probiotics are the “live and active cultures” that are used to convert milk to creamy yogurt. In other words, yogurt provides the body with healthy bacteria to inhabit the large intestine, which may help to fight off bacteria that cause sickness. Several research studies suggest that yogurt may enhance the immune system, help gastro-intestinal distress and support vaginal health. Some yogurts are made with enzymes, instead of healthy bacteria, so look for the “live and active cultures” on the label!

5. Extra Lean Beef

Though some dietary iron may be gleaned from vegetarian sources, the intestines actually have special transporters for heme iron, or the iron contained in meat. Therefore, iron provided by meat sources, like lean beef, are absorbed about 3-5 times better than vegetarian sources. A 3oz broiled beef patty (95% lean ground beef) has 2.5mg of iron. That’s about a third of the RDA (a value of a nutrient that will meet the requirement for the vast majority of the population) for a man and 1/7 of the RDA for a woman. As an added bonus, a small amount of beef will enhance the absorption of non-heme (vegetarian-sourced) iron. So that’s a good reason so add a little lean beef to your black bean chili! Be aware of red meat high in saturated fat, however. The calories and artery-clogging saturated fat values add up quickly if beef is eaten haphazardly. The best choices for beef are listed below; each has five grams of fat of less for each raw 4oz serving.


Eye round ~ top round ~ bottom round ~ sirloin tip side ~ top sirloin ~ brisket flat half ~ 96% lean ground beef

Protein is an essential nutrient and many nutrition and fitness professionals believe that extra protein is required for active individuals. Furthermore, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommend up to about 1.8g/kg of body weight (about 0.82g/lb of body weight) for individuals who lift weights on a consistent basis. Fatty fish, beans, eggs, low-fat dairy products (including yogurt), and lean meats (including beef) may all be included as healthy dietary protein sources. Want a hearty dose of protein, fiber and iron? Try the easy, low-fat chili recipe below!

97% Lean Ground Beef Super Easy Chili

Step 1: Combine in large soup pot: 1 lb 97% lean ground beef, 1 can (14 oz) fire- roasted tomatoes, 1 large jar (24 oz or thereabouts) salsa, 1 can of black beans (well-rinsed), 1 can kidney beans (well-rinsed), red pepper flakes, black pepper and hot sauce to taste.

Step 2: Cook on medium heat for 1-2 hours and enjoy

Nutrition (1/8 recipe): 200 Calories, 20g protein, 26g carbohydrate, 2g fat, 8 g fiber