Ask Dani – 200 Calories or 240 Calories?

I couldn't resist this pop-tart kitty picture. Sorry.


Dear Dani,

My friend and I were arguing this week about what’s better for you to eat: A 200 calorie pop-tart for breakfast or a 240 calorie egg sandwich on whole-grain bread. I said that the sandwich was a better option, since the stuff inside it is better for you, but my friend swears by eating as little calories possible to lose weight, and therefore the pop-tart is a better option. Help me prove her wrong please!

Thanks, Fighting Friends

Dear Fighting Friends,

Sorry to say this, but your friend is wrong. Just because something has fewer calories doesn’t mean it’s better for you to eat and it doesn’t mean that it will help you lose weight. It is true that the formula for losing weight is calories in vs. calories out, but not all calories are the same. Pop-Tarts are loaded with sugar and refined flour, which means that when they enter your body they get absorbed way too quickly, and because of that you’re hungry (and most likely sluggish) an hour later. And that means you’re going to end up eating something and then not only take in your lower calorie pop-tart, but something else on top of that too. Had you just had the egg sandwich, which is full of whole-grains, fiber, and protein you would have been satisfied for at least 3 hours. Plus, because your body absorbs those kinds of calories a lot slower you would be using more of them for energy.
So, sorry friend, I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to lose weight, make sure that your calories are coming from good sources, even if it means eating more of them.

The Favorites List

There are a few things that I use regularly that make it easier for me to stay in good shape and health. They also help me feel like I made the right choices which makes me feel strong in body AND mind. So, here are a few of my favorite things…

* Cooking Light Magazine – This is actually my all time favorite I think. All recipes have a calorie count and you won’t feel like you’re cooking a tasteless, ugly, healthy meal. You’ll feel like you’re eating a gourmet meal. I use this whenever I entertain and no body believes that the food is good for them. Plus, they have great articles too.

* Skinny Cow 100 Calorie Truffle Ice Cream Bars – Each bar comes individually wrapped, so you won’t have to worry about eating too much from the container. They taste so good, you wouldn’t know they were only 100 calories. And they come in both chocolate and vanilla. YUM!!!

* Stability Ball – A stability ball is a great way to maximize your workout, by challenging your balance. Say you’re doing a bicep curl, if you do it seated on a bench you’ll just be working your biceps, but if you do it seated on a ball you will be working your biceps plus your core, which will boost caloric expenditure and shorten your total workout time.

* Oatmeal – This is my regular go to breakfast. It will keep you satisfied and tide you over until your next meal. Added bonus is good for you carbs and fiber which will help clear out bad LDL cholesterol and keep hunger from creeping up too soon. I make mine over the stove with water, a bit of milk, some Splenda, cinnamon, and frozen blueberries. You can make it however you choose though, the possibilities are endless.

* Salmon – When I need dinner in a pinch and I don’t have a lot of time on hand this is the perfect go to meal. Within 30 minutes I can have salmon, asparagus, and potatoes on the table. Salmon cooks quickly (broil on high for 10 minutes), is packed with protein, and has heart healthy Omega 3′s which are the “good” kinds of fats.

* Lulu Lemon Pants -Ok, so this has nothing to do with making me feel strong in mind or body. Well, maybe mind, because they are fabulous! I don’t wear any other kind of workout pants. They fit great, can be worn around the city without looking frumpy, are made of real quality material, and if you care for them properly by only washing on delicate you will have them for at least 5 years. My favorite thing is the little hidden pocket in the waistband for a key, cash, and credit card. If you think you don’t look good in tight black pants, try these! They’re a bit pricey, but well worth the investment.

* Water – Of course!! It’s the only real thirst quencher and as many of my friends know is my answer to everything. Have a headache, drink water. Feel sluggish and run down in the middle of the day, more water. Dry skin, water. It will provide much needed oxygen to your body and will help you feel at your best.

Have Your Carbs And Eat 'Em Too

Everyone either knows someone or has been someone who’s been on a low-carb diet at some point. It sounds promising – as long as you’re having little to no carbs, you can have all the meat, cheese, and eggs that you want, without any worry about how much. Yay quantity! But really, is it that great? I was thinking about this once and I honestly think that all the best foods are carbs – pasta, cereal, bread, pancakes (yum!), muffins… I’m just speaking for myself, but I LOVE carbs. I don’t feel satisfied without them. And I don’t think that you’re really learning how to live like a normal person by cutting them out completely. Being social and going out to eat is a part of life and how can you really sustain this diet when you’re out with your friends without being the weirdo that orders the pasta Primavera, but asks the waiter to only bring the Primavera part, not the pasta. It’s just another band-aid that you’re sticking on your weight problem.

I once had a friend who went on this diet and he lost over 20lb. in what seemed like 3 weeks. He’d come over to my house and instead of his regular chips and salsa buffet he’d just ask for some cheese, which he’d eat and eat and eat and eat. He basically just replaced all the carbs he was eating with protein and had himself an all-you-can-eat cheese fest. He dropped the weight quickly, but there was only so long that he could go on like this without seriously craving some bread, and when one day he actually gave in to his craving he couldn’t stop and all the weight came back and then some.

And you want to know something? It’s not just carbs that cause you to put on weight, it’s protein too. Any time you have too much of something your body will store it as fat! Ouch!

Walking down the street, I can point out to you people who are yo-yo dieters, without knowing anything about them. There is this puffy look that they have and a way that the fat distributes on their body that all point to a history of riding the roller coaster scale. People crash diet, because it’s an easy fix to a troubling problem and it’s quick. The problem is that it’s short-lived and you never really learn how to control your weight AND have the foods that you love. Which is where the Glycemic Index comes in…

Ok, let’s start from the beginning (and I promise I will do my best to be brief and make it as simple as possible). The Glycemic Index (GI) is a system for classifying carbohydrate-containing foods, according to how fast they raise blood sugar levels (also known as glucose). When we eat, our bodies convert digestible carbs into blood sugar, our main source of energy. Our blood sugar level can affect how hungry and how energetic we feel, both important factors when we are watching how we eat and exercise. It also determines whether we burn fat or store it.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. Our pancreas secretes insulin, which helps transport blood sugar to our cells where it’s used for energy. When we eat simple carbs, such as white bread or candy that are quickly processed into blood sugar, our pancreas goes into overdrive to produce enough insulin for all this blood sugar to be used for energy. This insulin surge tells our bodies that we have enough energy from the blood sugar, so it should stop burning fat and start storing it.

The real problem now is that this insulin surge causes too much blood sugar to be transported out of our blood and this results in our blood sugar dropping below normal. This leaves us feeling tired and hungry and wanting to eat more. The worst part is that it makes us want to eat something else with a high sugar content. And when we do, we start the cycle all over again.

To be more simple: 1. Carbs = Blood Sugar (Glucose)—> increases insulin.
2. Simple Carbs = Blood Sugar spike —> insulin spike
3. Too much insulin —> causes us to store fat

So, what you want to do is eat the foods that will keep your blood sugar levels in control. By choosing foods that have a low to moderate GI rating you can be sure that you won’t have the crash and burn later. A low GI rating is 54 or less, moderate is 55-69, and high is 70 +. For example, oatbran bread has a rating of 46 (low), while white bread has a rating of 70 (high). You can still have bread, you should just have the right kind. There are no foods that are off limits, but going back to my 80/20 rule that I mentioned yesterday, you want to eat the foods that have a moderate to low GI value 80% of the time, and high GI foods the other 20%. The fantastic part of following this type of plan is that it’s not about counting calories or grams of carbs, it’s just about choosing the foods that will leave you feeling satisfied and energetic, which means that you can have your pasta, cereal, bread, muffins, etc., and even cake sometimes too. And, you won’t be falling into a food coma any time soon.

If you want to learn more about this, I’m running a 12 week weight loss (or weight management for those of you who just want to learn how to eat more healthfully) group that begins the last week of March. I will be giving a FREE introduction in the next 2 weeks, so that if you’re unsure and just want to learn more, you can have a chance to see what this is all about. You will learn how to make this an effortless lifestyle and not just a temporary solution. Even better, you’ll lose body fat, not muscle, so you will slim down without having that skinny-fat look. Stop the yo-yo dieting and finally learn a way to enjoy food again and keep the weight off for good. Food isn’t only something we need to survive, but it should bring pleasure to us as well.

Have Your Carbs And Eat ‘Em Too

Everyone either knows someone or has been someone who’s been on a low-carb diet at some point. It sounds promising – as long as you’re having little to no carbs, you can have all the meat, cheese, and eggs that you want, without any worry about how much. Yay quantity! But really, is it that great? I was thinking about this once and I honestly think that all the best foods are carbs – pasta, cereal, bread, pancakes (yum!), muffins… I’m just speaking for myself, but I LOVE carbs. I don’t feel satisfied without them. And I don’t think that you’re really learning how to live like a normal person by cutting them out completely. Being social and going out to eat is a part of life and how can you really sustain this diet when you’re out with your friends without being the weirdo that orders the pasta Primavera, but asks the waiter to only bring the Primavera part, not the pasta. It’s just another band-aid that you’re sticking on your weight problem.

I once had a friend who went on this diet and he lost over 20lb. in what seemed like 3 weeks. He’d come over to my house and instead of his regular chips and salsa buffet he’d just ask for some cheese, which he’d eat and eat and eat and eat. He basically just replaced all the carbs he was eating with protein and had himself an all-you-can-eat cheese fest. He dropped the weight quickly, but there was only so long that he could go on like this without seriously craving some bread, and when one day he actually gave in to his craving he couldn’t stop and all the weight came back and then some.

And you want to know something? It’s not just carbs that cause you to put on weight, it’s protein too. Any time you have too much of something your body will store it as fat! Ouch!

Walking down the street, I can point out to you people who are yo-yo dieters, without knowing anything about them. There is this puffy look that they have and a way that the fat distributes on their body that all point to a history of riding the roller coaster scale. People crash diet, because it’s an easy fix to a troubling problem and it’s quick. The problem is that it’s short-lived and you never really learn how to control your weight AND have the foods that you love. Which is where the Glycemic Index comes in…

Ok, let’s start from the beginning (and I promise I will do my best to be brief and make it as simple as possible). The Glycemic Index (GI) is a system for classifying carbohydrate-containing foods, according to how fast they raise blood sugar levels (also known as glucose). When we eat, our bodies convert digestible carbs into blood sugar, our main source of energy. Our blood sugar level can affect how hungry and how energetic we feel, both important factors when we are watching how we eat and exercise. It also determines whether we burn fat or store it.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. Our pancreas secretes insulin, which helps transport blood sugar to our cells where it’s used for energy. When we eat simple carbs, such as white bread or candy that are quickly processed into blood sugar, our pancreas goes into overdrive to produce enough insulin for all this blood sugar to be used for energy. This insulin surge tells our bodies that we have enough energy from the blood sugar, so it should stop burning fat and start storing it.

The real problem now is that this insulin surge causes too much blood sugar to be transported out of our blood and this results in our blood sugar dropping below normal. This leaves us feeling tired and hungry and wanting to eat more. The worst part is that it makes us want to eat something else with a high sugar content. And when we do, we start the cycle all over again.

To be more simple: 1. Carbs = Blood Sugar (Glucose)—> increases insulin.
2. Simple Carbs = Blood Sugar spike —> insulin spike
3. Too much insulin —> causes us to store fat

So, what you want to do is eat the foods that will keep your blood sugar levels in control. By choosing foods that have a low to moderate GI rating you can be sure that you won’t have the crash and burn later. A low GI rating is 54 or less, moderate is 55-69, and high is 70 +. For example, oatbran bread has a rating of 46 (low), while white bread has a rating of 70 (high). You can still have bread, you should just have the right kind. There are no foods that are off limits, but going back to my 80/20 rule that I mentioned yesterday, you want to eat the foods that have a moderate to low GI value 80% of the time, and high GI foods the other 20%. The fantastic part of following this type of plan is that it’s not about counting calories or grams of carbs, it’s just about choosing the foods that will leave you feeling satisfied and energetic, which means that you can have your pasta, cereal, bread, muffins, etc., and even cake sometimes too. And, you won’t be falling into a food coma any time soon.

If you want to learn more about this, I’m running a 12 week weight loss (or weight management for those of you who just want to learn how to eat more healthfully) group that begins the last week of March. I will be giving a FREE introduction in the next 2 weeks, so that if you’re unsure and just want to learn more, you can have a chance to see what this is all about. You will learn how to make this an effortless lifestyle and not just a temporary solution. Even better, you’ll lose body fat, not muscle, so you will slim down without having that skinny-fat look. Stop the yo-yo dieting and finally learn a way to enjoy food again and keep the weight off for good. Food isn’t only something we need to survive, but it should bring pleasure to us as well.