Controlling Cholesterol 101

 

Happy New Year everyone! After a week long binge of Christmas foods, wedding foods and New Year foods, my arteries are feeling pretty clogged up.

Side note: I want to take a new approach to my blogs this year, and keep them a little bit more to the point, short and sweet, more digestible per say, and try post a little more frequently.

Why is cholesterol bad?

Actually, it is your triglycerides (amount of fat in your blood) and your LDL that are the two to be concerned with. Now i could get into the details of different types of LDL and what not, but for MOST people high LDL is indicative of “bad cholesterol” levels. Having high numbers means that one is more susceptible to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes,

Why is my cholesterol high?

It could be a combination of things: genetics, diet, activity level – i.e lifestyle.

While genetic can play a big role, they also CAN be controlled through proper diet and exercise.

Sedentary lifestyle, extra body fat are the two biggest culprits that can be changed with a simple caloric deficit and increased activity. Losing 5-10 pounds of fat has been proven to drop cholesterol numbers by 5-15% alone!

My Exercise Prescription:

  1. Walk 30 minutes everyday – with a end day goal of 10,000 steps
  2. Lift weights 2-3 days per week with full body, strength training focus

How Specific Foods Effect Cholesterol:

For the longest time, dietary cholesterol was demonized for leading to high cholesterol – but fear not, it has since been un-vilified.

Now, for people with high cholesterol I still recommend caution with the following foods:

Eggs, high fat red meat, high fat other meats, cheese, butter, butter spreads, processed desserts, anything that comes in a silver lined crinkly bag (chips, chex mix, etc.), *nuts and seeds.

This is for two reasons:  

  1. These foods are high in SATURATED and some TRANS FATS – which can lead to increases in LDL and triglycerides. It’s not the cholesterol in the egg yolk that I’m worried about, it is the TOTAL intake of fat at the end of the day.

For example, most people do very well wth diets where about 25-30% of calories come from fat (and about 10% of that being saturated fat). If your weight loss calorie number is around 1800, this would mean that you should be having right around 50-60 grams of fat per day, with no more than 20 grams being from saturated fat, and as little as possible trans fat.  (one slice of cheddar cheese has 9 grams of fat, 6 of them being saturated)

* Why nuts and seeds? Most people think that nuts and seeds are heart healthy, which they are – however, it is super easy to over eat these, like a handful is 500 calories easy. Use caution with nuts/trail mixes*

Thats really not that much! Also, fat is higher in calories meaning that it adds up quickly if you are trying to maintain a deficit.

2. These foods can also be high in highly inflammatory processed carbs. When you are loading your body with high sugar/high fat foods (chips, dessert) you are hitting it with a double whammy of sorts. You are increasing your cholesterol production AND increasing inflammation in your arteries over time. If something is high in processed carbs, and fat – it’s probably best to be avoided. 

SO what should YOU do?

I already gave my exercise script.

For nutrition you should avoid the previously mentioned foods as much as possible (or at least in moderation – this is where tracking can be a beautiful thing)

Foods to consider adding:

Fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, oats, lean proteins, fatty fish (salmon) 

Image result for cholesterolFoods to consider making swaps for:

Swap out: butters, spreads

Swap in: olive oil, avocados

These oils are high in mono-unsaturated fats – very heart healthy – BUT still  keep your fat totals in mind for the day! Just like nuts, they are easy to go overboard with.

Supplements to consider:

Plant Sterols and Stanols – essentially these are the plant form of cholesterol and have been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol. Buy these:

Cholest-off Plus – http://amzn.to/2iyB7ua

Fish Oil – diets higher in Omega-3’s can lead to lower cholesterol levels as well.

Dr. Tobias Fish Oil – http://amzn.to/2hNsf5g

Give it all a try, and get your blood levels checked in 6 months – your numbers will be greatly improved!

 

 

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Boozin and Losin’? Is it Possible?

You are trying to lose some fat, but don’t want to be a party pooper and drink water every time you go out. I get it.

Is it possible to still drink alcohol AND continue losing bodyfat/weight? Yes, but you also need to remain aware of your decisions and the rest of your night/weekend/party.

It’s not as simple as “oh just drink vodka sodas all night, and you will lose weight!” It’s all about strategy and making it work for you.

Here are the 2 factors that will hurt you, and tips that can help you make the most out of drinking, and still work towards your goals (albeit at a slightly slower pace).

1) Alcohol itself has calories, lots of them. Add in other ingredients, and you have a gut bomb.

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, so depending on the spirit you choose, it will run you about 100 calories per 1.5 oz (standard shot). Now unless you drink straight up, the calories might not stop there. Add in 4 oz of coke for a mixer and you are looking at another 50 calories. Add in some crazy mixer and sugary beach like drink and you are easily pushing 300-500-800 calories. 

Think sticking to beer is better? Maybe, maybe not. Most light beers are 90-110 calories. Standard macro brews are around 150 calories. Enjoy your micro breweries? Well their beers can run 200-300 calories per 12 ounces.

Red wine is healthy right? It still will cost you 125 calories per 5 oz pour – and who does a 5 oz pour?

These calories can easily add up, and if you are not remaining in a caloric deficit, then you are not losing fat. So what should you do with your drinks?

  • Minimize sugary mixers – club soda and lime, diet soda, water are great, NO calorie mixers.
  • Space drinks out – have a water or two between drinks.
  • Hold yourself accountable and aware of what you are drinking – and be ready to accept the consequences and move on.

Example:

You go to a microbrewery on a nice night with some friends and hang out to watch a band. Over the 4 hours of being there, you consume 6 of their 12 oz. Amber beers. A standard for Amber microbrews is roughly 160-180 calories per 12 ounces. That is 960-1080 calories of beer for the day. 

Besides maybe waking up with a little gut ache, you might have just totally ruined your calorie goal for the day. It happens. Move on. However, the damage from drinking doesnt usually end there.

2. What You Eat WITH and AFTER drinking will destroy you.

As if drinking 1000 calories from booze wasn’t bad enough, now you want pizza, nachos, deep fried bacon, etc etc. The drunchies (drunk munchies) are the worst. Needless to say it’s easy to consume a TON of extra calories when you are not aware of what you are eating. Let’s go back to our example at the brewery…

While enjoying the music with your friends, you guys decide to order up a pizza to be delivered to you, at the brewery (because thats a thing in Wisconsin). It is your standard, greasy, meat and salt filled pizza. Well, as I guy I know I could easily put down 4 slices if I was hungry and had a few drinks in me. For ease of calculations, I looked at Pizza Hut, deep dish, meat lovers – 320 calories per slice. Well now you are at 1280 calories from pizza, plus your additional 1000 from drinking – putting you at 2280 calories for that night out.

I can venture a guess that this might be close or over many of your recommended calorie goals for fat loss.

So what can you do to minimize the damage, and stay as close to on track as possible?

  1. Be honest with yourself
    1. Can you go out, and have a good time without getting bombed and eating a ton of food? If you are reading this, you are likely an adult – and it might be time to re-evaluate your life decisions if you think this isn’t possible. (Aside from the occasional “wow, that night got out of hand” nights of course might still happen…)
    2. Can you control your eating once you start drinking? Remind yourself what your goals are, and when you want to get there. Truth is, alcohol won’t help you get there one bit. If you have a timeline, then maybe you need to sit this one out.
  2. Prepare for the night out accordingly
    1. Don’t starve yourself prior to drinking, but limit your fats as much as possible, and eat as much from vegetables and protein before going out (leaves more calories in the tank)
    2. Hydrate before
    3. Look into different drink options and set yourself a limit – if you think you can stick to it.
  3. Practice Damage Control When Out
    1. Space drinks with waters
    2. Limit sugary mixers
    3. Don’t order garbage food – and keep drinking water
    4. Remind yourself that eating garbage food often leads to feeling even worse the next morning, and it will be worth feeling better tomorrow.
  4. Get back on track ASAP
    1. Don’t go for your usual hangover cure foods. They will only add to the snowball effect.
    2. Get right back to eating as normal as possible.
    3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – if you ate a ton and drank a ton the night before, you might still be full. There is no need to eat right away if you feel full. ***If I ever have a night like this, I am often full until around lunchtime the next day, so I usually just skip breakfast***
    4. Get up and walk. Sweating it out and just moving will help – so get walking, and keep hydrating. There are no REAL cures for hangovers, besides preventing them in the first place.

So can you still drink and lose weight? SURE! Will it happen at a slower pace, and maybe with some hiccups along the way? You bet.

This is where you need to be honest with yourself, and what you are trying to accomplish. If you are fine with a slow and steady progress, then you can make it work.

If you are looking to optimize health, results, and overall well-being – then maybe it is time to cut out a few of those 1000+ calorie nights from your life. It’s a free country, so your choice is your choice – just pointing out some facts 🙂

 

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Drinking Plans For The 4th (And The Rest of Your Summer)

Summer in Wisconsin is short, too short. We all want to get outside and have a good time as much as possible. Apparently Wisconsin was also named the drunkest state…surprise. Not something to be proud of when you really think about it. The fact is, we all like to kick back and have a nice cold adult beverage once in awhile.

Anyone who knows anything about alcohol and how it affects the body (besides getting falling down drunk) knows that it does not have a good effect on our body composition. Alcohol provides 7 calories/gram, and even worse, those calories can’t really do much good for us. Thus, they are known as empty calories.

For example:

  • Wine is right around 125 cals/5 oz. (3-4grams of carb as well)
  • Beer and Light Beer are about 105/150 cals respectively (along with 12g carbs and 6g carbs)
  • Vodka, Tequila and Rum all have 97 calories per shot (1.5 oz).
  • Whiskey, Bourbon and Gin all contain about 105 cals/shot.

Now, if you are mixing your own drink, are you really just putting in 1.5 oz? 

Those are the calories from the alcohol alone. The amount of calories can severely increase with all the mixers, fixings, and chasers we add to the drinks.

The following are some simple strategies I recommend to minimize the alcohol damage this summer, and hopefully get Wisconsin out of that #1 spot.

1 .Limit the sugary mixers.

Most soda is about 90 calories worth when made in a mixed drink at a bar (6-7 oz.). Add one shot of alcohol to that and you are already at 180 calories. Get loose with the pours and that cocktail could easily be 250+ calories. Have 4 of them, and you are at 1000 calories, all useless for your body. Useless calories don’t just vanish, they get converted and stored – as fat. And thats just added soda. What about simple syrup, sugar cubes, other mixers, slushy drinks, and other simple sweeteners…things could get out of hand.

 

My Suggestion: use club soda or seltzer water (0 calories) and add a lime/lemon/orange wedge. Those 4 cocktails just dropped from 1000 calories to 360 (not great, but MUCH better). You can also try muddling fresh berries, mint, or citrus fruits in your drink for some flavor.

I’m still not a fan of diet soda, but when it comes to calories, it is a better choice.

2. When it comes to beer, light may not be best.

Think about it, do you drink beer to get smashed, or just to enjoy. Hopefully by now you’re not spending your weekends getting smashed at the bar and club with your bros/bro-ettes. If you are drinking to enjoy a beer, it’s okay to pick a slightly heavier, and more flavorful beer – IF you drink in moderation (1-2 drinks).

My Suggestion: One heavier beer is about 150-170 calories, while one light beer is about 100 calories. However, light beer is much less filling and it is much easier to drink more light beer than dark beer (learned this quickly in college). You need to be honest with yourself and listen to your body. Stick to more flavor if you are only having one. Go light if quantity is you goal (not recommended).

3. Watch the food you choose.

Often times, its not the drinks that really pack on the calories, its the dumb life food choices we make after a few drinks. Be smart with your food, and try eating some more wise choices before you start drinking, so you aren’t starving once you start drinking – or you will hit up the first “Fat” Food restaurant that you see.

My Suggestion: Try a small snack rich in fat and protein before you start drinking to get some slow digesting foods in your body. Mixed nuts, veggies and guac, or a half of a quality sandwich.

Try these three tips, and then check out some of these quick drink swaps to save you from some serious calorie damage.

NO: Pina colada (525 cal)
YES: Caipirinha (161 cal) – traditional Brazilian cocktail – lime, 2 tsp. brown sugar, cachaca (alcohol) – or rum.

Caipirinha Recipe

NO: Frozen Margarita (675 cal)
YES: Iced sangria (225 cal)

NO: Long Island Ice Tea (420 cal)
YES: Gin Martini (110 cal)

NO: Mai Tai (310 cal)
YES: Cosmopolitan (170 cal)

Low Calorie Cocktails
For more information on alcohol consumption in America, check out this link:

Drinking In America