Disclosure: This is a non-compensated guest post, courtesy of Rise.
Rise coach Elisa Itkowitz, MS, RD shares tips to help avoid sneaky food traps. Rise is a nutrition service focused on helping people lead healthier lives by connecting people 1:1 with their very own registered dietitian “coach” to guide them through nutrition education and small behavioral changes to achieve their health goals.
(1) Protein Bars: Unless you’re extremely active—doing strenuous exercise for more than an hour per day—you likely don’t need the high amount of protein that’s packed into these bars. If you aren’t burning it, excess protein is stored as fat! For the average exercise enthusiast, simply grabbing a glass of skim milk will help you replenish and refuel post-workout. If you do grab a bar, look for one that has no more than 250 calories, 8-10 grams protein, 1 gram or less saturated fat and no more than 4-8 grams of fiber.
(2) Smoothies: Blended fruit is healthy, right? The answer depends on the size of the smoothie and what else is in it. A good tip is to go for the smallest size, which can easily save 200 or more calories, and make sure the base is either ice, non-fat yogurt or even coconut water. Then stick to 1-2 servings of fruit. Some smoothies pack 4-6 servings, which can cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you susceptible to more sugar cravings.
(3) Low Fat Foods: Even after the SnackWells Era, we’re still hesitant to include fat in our meals. But including healthy fats (nuts, avocado, salmon, tofu) in your diet can help your satiety level and actually lead to eating less! Plus, in order to make a food low-fat, the manufacturer typically has to add something to make the food taste good. That something is often sugar, which means low-fat foods are often higher in calories than the regular version. A good rule of thumb: if you’re eating 2,000 calories per day, aim for 30% calories from fat, or about 66 grams.
(4) Serving Sizes: There’s no doubt that our food portions are getting larger and larger. Take a simple burger. A few decades ago, it would have been a simple 3 oz patty. Now? It’s mainstream to have it be at least 6 oz topped with loads of cheese, bacon and mayonnaise. I recommend that everyone spend about a week paying attention to labels and measuring out certain foods that we tend to overeat at home, like cereal, rice and pasta. And when out to eat: order apps, which are typically a healthy size, in place of entrees.
(5) Coffee: Black coffee with a little bit of milk is great; but over the years, coffee has morphed into a decadent dessert, with some coffee beverages weighing in at more than 600 calories! As with everything, watch your portion sizes and the add-ons like sweeteners & whipped cream. To keep your coffee to 200 calories or less, opt for a small with low-fat milk. Stick to 1 pump of added sweetener or packet of sugar and use cocoa powder or cinnamon for extra flavor.