Choosing the Right Nutrition Bar – A Few Simple Tips

Nutrition bars have become a “go to” snack for many health conscious individuals. They are convenient, require no preparation, and are easy to store in a desk or take along in a purse or backpack. They require no refrigeration and come in a wide variety of flavors to suit every taste and palate.

Depending on the bar, they can function as a snack or as a meal replacement. There are literally hundreds of brands, recipes and flavors on the market which makes it hard to choose the best one for you. They vary wildly in terms of caloric content, ingredients, and Protein/Carbohydrate/Fat ratios. And, some of them are not much more than expensive junk food bars. All of this leaves you wondering, just how healthy are these bars?

If you want to choose a healthy bar, and one that works for your particular needs, you have to understand that it is all about the ingredients. And, you have to learn to read labels. Whether you are looking for a healthy snack, a protein boost, a carbohydrate fix or a meal replacement, you need to understand what is in the bar if you want to get the benefits you desire.

A good place to start is with the ingredient list and the nutritional facts label. Every bar has one, and just reading these two labels will tell you everything you need to know.

Regardless of whether you are looking for a nutrition bar that is high protein, high carbohydrate or a combination, there are certain ingredients that are simply not healthy for you.

For a nutrition bar to be healthy, it should not contain a significant amount of added sugar. Dried fruit such as dates, cranberries, apple etc should provide enough sweetness. If however there is added sugar, it should not be among the first 3 or 4 ingredients and it should not contain corn syrup of any sort. Nor should it contain any “sugar” with a chemical sounding name. Natural sugars such as honey, agave or brown rice syrup are healthier as long as they are used in small amounts.

While you do not want a nutrition bar to contain a lot of fats, there are good fats and bad fats. The body needs fat to function properly. Nuts and seeds are high in fat but these are good fats. They are good for your body and regulating metabolism. Bad fats include any product that contains hydrogenated fats. These should be avoided.

While it is beyond the scope of this article to provide detailed nutritional counseling, certain basics apply. Carbohydrates are digested quickly and give a quick burst of energy. Protein takes longer to digest and thus helps one feel fuller longer. Fats slow down the digestive process of carbohydrates and help with metabolic and brain function. Fiber helps move waste and toxins through the body ad any calories not used are stored as fat.

Based on their specific needs, you should look at the amount of fiber, calories, protein and carbohydrates in a whichever nutrition bar you plan to choose. Each of these items serves a particular purpose. So the individual needs of each consumer come into play here.

Perfect for runners, bicyclists and other athletes, anyone needing a burst of energy should opt for a high carbohydrate nutrition bar.

Many people are following a high protein or zone diet should pay attention to the Carbohydrate to Protein ratio. If the goal is to use the bar as a meal replacement it should contain about 1/3 each of carbs, protein and fats.

Nutrition bars can be a great addition to a healthy eating program. They can curb cravings, help level out blood sugar, give you a quick burst of energy or, in a pinch, act as a meal replacement. Choosing wisely can help achieve weight loss and good health. However, if you don’t pay attention, you may be buying very expensive candy bars.

4 Key Benefits of Taking Fish Oil Supplements

There are so many choices when it comes to health supplements, therefore, it can be difficult to decide which one will benefit you the most. This is where fish oil comes into play. Fish oil has numerous benefits that will not only help you from within, but also on the outside as well. Firstly, fish oil has been touted to be a great supplement to take if your interested in improving your cardiovascular health. Secondly, it helps to reduce inflammation on the outside and within the body. Thirdly, you’ll reap the skin benefits. And finally, it can also be used as food for your brain and help to combat a variety of mental health issues.

Cardiovascular Health
The first benefit that fish oil has is that it is beneficial for cardiovascular health. If you have high blood pressure, fish oil supplements may help to reduce your high blood pressure. According to CNN.com, the omega-3 found in fish oil has been shown to reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure and reduce heart rhythm abnormalities. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil also prevent the blood from clotting fairly easily. Therefore, fish oil may be helpful for treating a variety of heart conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil also help to lower the level of bad cholesterol while increasing the levels of good cholesterol. So it can also be beneficial for cholesterol.

Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation occurs within your body when it senses infection. And if you have arthritis, osteoarthritis or any types of severe skin inflammation, such as eczema, fish oil can help reduce the side effects of these disorders. When you take fish oil supplements, they help to calm these nerves by balancing levels of omega-6 and omega-3 within your body. In accordance to the Linus Pauling Foundation, fish oil supplements have even been shown to benefit patients so much that some patients taking anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to be less dependent on these drugs.

Skin Benefits
In regards to skin health, fish oil supplements, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, help the skin in a variety of different ways. First, they improve the health of skin cells and their functioning. So, the healthier skin cells are, the better your skin will look. Omega-3 fatty acids also help give skin a smooth appearance and resilient texture. Research has also shown that they even help to prevent wrinkles and slow down the aging process. There’s even research that demonstrates how fish oil can also help prevent sun damage to the skin. So, not only will your skin look good, but you’ll age gracefully as well.

Brain Food
Fish oil is known as a brain food mainly because a lot of people eat fish to help cope with a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, stress disorder and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. According to researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, in their research publication titled “Fish Oils and Bipolar Disorder: A Promising but Untested Treatment”, they state that fish oil be helpful in stabilizing the mood and help with the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Now that you are aware of the 4 benefits of fish oil supplements, now you can decide whether or not they are right for you. We’ve discussed that they provide the user with cardiovascular health benefits and help the heart in many different ways. We’ve also discussed how fish oil supplements help to reduce inflammation within the body. There was also a section on skin benefits. And lastly, fish oil helps provide the brain with food and this food helps to combat a variety of mental health problems

Fat Loss Tips for the Ultimate Beach Body

beach body

As summer is fast approaching it is important to find and cultivate sustainable ways to keep fat off and remain as healthy as you can. Staying in shape may be a challenge especially with a hectic lifestyle. Also many are confused and tricked into believing myths such as ‘crunches get you a lean stomach’ or spot fat burning. That’s why we offer some reliable tips on how to stay lean and fit especially in the summer!

Increase Your Protein Intake

Many people, especially women can be skeptical about this one because of a common misconception that protein makes you fat or you should only eat a lot of it when you work out. There’s nothing more misinformed! Protein is the most filling of macronutrients and it speeds up your metabolism. It will also protect your muscle for the optimal fat burning effect. Aim for at least a gram per pound of bodyweight.

Stay Hydrated

Most of our bodies is actually made up of water. It is absolutely essential for the functioning of all systems in our bodies including the digestive system and metabolism. 3 litres per day is a goal you should keep in mind. Drinking will flush and cleanse your body and keep you full so you can avoid food cravings.

Your Diet Should Be 90% Whole Foods

This tip, as opposed to many complex diets and restrictions thrown at us daily is simple. Stick to whole, natural and unprocessed foods most of the time. They have all you need to stay healthy and lean, including vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fill your menu with veggies, fruit, whole grains and lean meat, poultry and fish.

Bring Intensity Up To A New Level

To get leaner keep your workouts intense and avoid long breaks between sets. Continuously look for new stimuli for your body so it gets tired every time. You can take it up a notch from your usual 8-12 rep range to exhaust your muscles and keep your heart rate up for maximum fat loss.

Use Cardio Wisely

Don’t be one of the people who spend their lives on the treadmill with little or no result. Be smart – do good cardio (with the right heart rate for fat loss) or high intensity intervals a few times a week. Variety and consistency will bring more effect than doing it all the time – for hours every day.

 

Take Rest Seriously

Your body works and develops when you rest. Sleep maximizes that potential as during sleep you produce more growth hormone which helps your body heal, regenerate and develop. To see best results commit to 8 hours of sleep every night. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body can go into a stressed state, which can lead to elevated cortisol levels and other hormonal imbalances. Try to make your bedroom a stress free environment and avoid watching TV directly before bed. Take a relaxing bath or drink some herbal tea to help you unwind.

 

 

The Benefits of Foam Rolling

foam rolling

 

What is foam rolling and why is it so popular in the fitness world lately? You may think rollers are just another gimmick or a useless gadget but actually they have many health benefits if used properly.

The Concept

Foam rollers are effective tools for physique-building, recovery and injury prevention. The mechanism behind the health benefits is called self-myofacial release, or SMR. SMR is an alternative medicine method which treats skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in the muscles. It is actually nothing new since therapists have been using this technique for years. To achieve the release, a therapist applies a low load, long duration dragging force across layers of soft-tissue in the body. After a period of time, the tissue becomes more mobile. Using a roller to perform this is a great alternative to a therapist.

The Benefits of SMR

Increased blood flow throughout, better movement and increased range of motion are all befefits of SMR that will protect you from injury and improve recovery times. They are an excellent addition to anyone’s workouts regardless of age and ability. Rolling can also increase your performance during training by improving your range of motion and circulation.

Where to Start

Start gently. For example you could begin by foam rolling your calves. Our lifestyles are ususally quite bad for the calves, we sit all the time and wear uncomfortable shoues with little support and women wear high heels. This means the calf is rarely stretched properly and its natural range of motion is limited.

Simply place one leg on the roller and the other leg on top of it. Raise the hips and slowly begin to roll to the knee. If you find an extra tender spot, stop and hold. After about 20 seconds continue to roll through the area four times. Then set the hips on the ground and rotate the leg four times side to side.

Other great ways to use the foam roller include rolling the quads and the upper back. Just remember do it slowly and carefully.

 

When Should You Roll?

You have probably already figured out that SMR should ideally be done before and after a workout. Roll before you even begin your warm-up or cardio for optimal results and preparation for physical effort. You will improve blood circulation and reduce any tensions. Rolling improves flexibility and range of motion which will make your workout more effective. Also, use rolling as a part of your cool down or stretching routine, post workout. It will enable the muscles to relax and recover quicker. Additionally, it will help replace the oxygen depleted blood with fresh, nutrient packed blood and facilitate growth.

You can roll for as little as five minutes and still you will notice improvement in your flexibility and range of motion. Rolling will help you with stress and tension accumulated throughout the day.

 

Fat Burning Myths: Don’t be Fooled

fat burning myths

Even fitness experts believe certain things about burning fat that have existed forever but there is little or no scientific backing for those claims. Take a look at this short review of the most popular and wide – spread fat burning myths.

Myth # 1: Cardio Is Best for Fat Loss

Most people believe that performing cardio for long periods of time is the best way to lose stubborn fat.

In reality cardio will help you lose weight, but a significant amount of that weight will potentially be muscle tissue. Losing muscle will slow down your metabolism and as a result you will burn even less fat! Build more muscle and become a fat burning machine! Burn the muscle by performing too much cardio and become skinny fat.

Myth # 2: Spot Reduction

Corporations, fitness gurus and exercise regimes offer ideas of quick fat loss in specific areas such as the thighs or stomach. In reality the spot reduction theory is an absolute myth. Fat loss occurs throughout the body depending upon genetics, sex (hormones), and age. Overall body fat must be reduced to observe loss in any particular area. Although fat is lost or gained throughout the body, it seems the first area to get fat, or the last area to become lean, is usually the midsection, hips and thighs. Don’t waste your time doing thousands of crunches to slim down your waist. Instead, invest your effort into a healthy diet and reasonable exercise.

Myth # 3: You Shouldn’t Eat After 6PM

In reality the amount of calories consumed will determine whether you will lose or gain fat. Secondly you should worry about the macro and micronutrients necessary to keep your body running smoothly. Timing is of secondary importance.

A recent study by Italian researches compared eating in the morning to eating in the evening. The result showed no difference in weight loss between the two groups, but fat burning was actually higher in people who ate their meals after 6pm.

 Myth # 4: Eating Every 2-3 Hours Will Speed Up Your Metabolism

Many people preach that small, frequent meals increase your metabolic rate, which is true. But that does not necessarily promote fat loss.

In recent studies it was discovered that groups of people eating the same amount of calories divided into 5 small, or 3 larger meals didn’t show differences in fat burning.

Myth # 5: Fasted Cardio is Necessary to Lose Fat

Training fasted puts you at risk of losing lean muscle mass and we have already discussed why you wouldn’t want to do that. Training in the morning is not really special. What really matters is that you train regularly, intensely and consistently. People like believing in ‘secret’ ways to lose fat that are super-efficient and superior to others. Sorry, I have to disappoint – you will have to work hard for a lean body – day or night!