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Nutrition 101

  • 27-09-2007 2:41pm
    Closed Accounts Posts: 13,497 ✭✭✭✭ Dragan

    Sometimes your gonna have really strong days. You'll wake up fresh, you'll eat a good breakfast, you'll dodge that chocolate snack at 11 and opt for some fruit and mixed nuts insteads. Your tuna salad for lunch will taste good. You'll see that nature gives us nicer food than man does when you have a fruit salad before the gym. Dinner will taste good and you won't even burn it when you get distracted by watching Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. You'll enjoy and hour or two on the couch and then you'll go to bed.

    It might not even rain.

    Then there's the other days. The first thing you are greeted with in the morning is a reflection that you frankly do not like. You slept through the alarm so breakfast is out the window. By 10 o clock in work your hungry but your food options are limited so it's Nestle time. Work is crap, your boss is on your back and deadlines are tight. Lunch is not worth taking about and it makes you feel a little better for a little while but that wears off like the energy from that Aero did this morning. By the time you get home your worn out and beat down, it's a takeaway and it's the couch.

    And it's raining.

    Now then, both of the above days WILL happen. Somedays you'll be a Superhero, somedays you'll need rescuing. So how do you stack the odds in your favour? Batman has a utility belt and a well spoken butler. Wonderwoman had a whip and sex appeal for weeks. If this were Vegas I'd be telling you how to card count. If this were the army I'd be telling you how to dig a fox hole while under fire. But it's not, it's the Diet and Nutrition Forum so I'm gonna tell you how to lessen the chances of having one of those bad days.

    Now then, before you look at my sig, or where I Moderate and label me a fitness Nazi because some of the things I'm going to say below are pretty harsh you'll need to know that I used to weigh 300lbs. Physically I was a mess. These days I'm roughly 100lbs of fat lighter, 50 lbs of muscle heavier and in much better nick. My heart doesn't give me **** for walking up stairs any more, I'm healthier and happier all round. I've walked the road your on.

    1) Get your head on straight.

    If you’re an overweight drug addict with 8 kids, no job and no options then you have a lot to feel sorry about. If your just overweight then you kinda don't. It was only really when I realised this that my weight loss got emotionally and psychologically easier. I wasn't in debt to drug lords, I didn't have cancer…. I was just fat. I could do a little bit each day, and do it right and eventually I wouldn't be fat anymore. I literally had all the time in the world. It's amazing the kind of pressure that realisation will take off you.

    2) Find a system you have faith in and give it an honest shot.

    Now then, I have very strict idea's about the way people should and should not eat, but frankly this is not about that. This is about you and what YOU need to help you lose the weight. If you feel Weight Watchers will work then do that, if you feel Curves will help then do that! Here's the thing though, sometimes you gotta learn to cut your loses. If something is not working for you and you have been giving it honest effort for 4 weeks then it's time to change. It's time to find something else and give that a shot.

    3) Drink water.

    Pretty much the one thing that every diet system has in common is the advise to drink plenty of water. Why? Because water rocks, and not getting enough of it can slow your metabolism, mess up your sleep, screw with your heat regulation and generally make you feel like poo. Who wants that? Just keep a steady supply of water going all day and your good. Easy, right?

    4) Be prepared.

    Last time I checked we all went to bed with a rough idea as to what our next day is gonna be like. You have an idea of what you need to do , work and family wise, where your free time will be and what time Dog the Bounty Hunter starts on Bravo. At the very least your know you gonna get up and need to eat. That alone is enough reason to prepare for the day. Whatever meals you can prepare to bring with you, then do so. I don't accept excuses about this one, to be honest. I have sat in my gym, talking to the staff, eating cold carrots, brocolli, tuna and eggs from a tubberware dish. Why? Because it was called for at the time. Just do what you need to do, and if that includes being prepared…..then be prepared.

    5) Stay basic

    The best system to lose weight is the most simple. Eat 3 nice sized meals and 3 snacks a day. Eat fruit, veg, lean meats and healthy fats from good quality oils. Be active, walk, run, swim, play sport. Enjoy yourself. Get enough sleep and relax.

    6) A friend in need…..

    Sometimes it's good to have a buddy, someone you need to meet at the gym, or can walk with, or someone in work who has the same goals and you can offer each other support. Not everyone is gonna understand your desire to change your body, people will try and tempt you with drinks and dinners and Malteasers. Just say no. There will be more than enough room for that in a few weeks time when your down a few pounds.

    7) Take pictures

    It's hard to keep track of changes to your body, but a picture taken every 4 weeks under the same circumstances cannot lie. You'll get an honest evaluation of the changes that are happening, and how fast and where. No ones gonna see the picture, and if you can't be honest and brave with yourself then your ****ed from the get go.

    8) Work hard….

    And be honest! Hardwork in the gym or on the field or while your running is normally uncomfortable. It's about pushing yourself because you have a goal. I've bled, puked and passed out in the gym. I'm not asking you to do that, I'm just asking you to put in some honest effort and have a bit of faith that you won't break!#

    That’s about it, nothing to specific, just general advice you can apply no matter what you are doing.

    Have Faith,



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,819 ✭✭✭✭ g'em

    Ok, so here’s the thing. I’m a scientist; a nerdling, a boffin, a white-coated super-geek, and so it’s in my nature to question things all the time :o . When it comes to my diet, I like to know what I’m eating and why I’m eating it. But don’t worry, it’s not my intention to completely bore you senseless with food biology, instead this is very rough and ready, totally simplified version of the science behind nutrition, but by knowing the basics it’ll help you make more informed decisions about what foods you’re going to include in your diet.

    All foods are composed of one or a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each one of these macronutrients has its own functions in the body, and we need them all for a healthy existence. The requirements of each varies on the person: a strength athlete for example will likely have a diet high in protein to aid in muscle repair and growth, an endurance athlete will probably have a higher carbohydrate content to give them sustained energy, someone trying to gain healthy weight will do well to have lots of good fats in their diet and for someone just looking to maintain a good, healthy diet a nice balance of all three will probably be the best and easiest plan to follow.

    So… what are they and do they all do?

    My favourite :D When we think of protein in the diet it’s usually bodybuilders or highly muscular athletes that spring to mind. But proteins are *so* important in our diets, and they have a massive number of functions in our body, so it’s really important to get plenty of them in your diet. Proteins aren’t as easy for your body to digest as carbohydrates, so you actually need to work harder to break them down – they naturally increase your metabolism. They also help you stay fuller for longer and if you’re a highly active person, they’re vital to help you keep your muscle mass up.

    The best protein sources are foods like lean meats (chicken, turkey, beef with the fat stripped off), dairy, eggs, seafood and nuts. Getting some form of protein in at every meal is a great idea, as it helps keep your body supplied with all the necessary ingredients to keep you ticking over nicely and keeps your metabolism ramped up.

    fish steaks are *so* good for you and super quick and easy to cook. Bang one on the grill and it's done in 10-12 minutes!

    It almost feels evil to use that word given the bad press that carbs have got in recent years. But the truth is, carbs are great to have in your diet, they’re the easiest source of energy for your body to use.

    is it just me or is anyone else getting really hungry looking at this??

    We generally classify carbs in two types: simple and complex. Simple carbs are basic sugars like sucrose (table sugar) or glucose or dextrose (often you’ll see dextrose as an ingredient on processed foods – that just means it has added sugar in it). Simple carbs are very easily broken down by our bodies and they are classified as being high GI, when you eat them you get a ‘sugar rush’. The only problem with this rush is that what comes up must go down and so soon after eating a lot of simple carbs your blood sugar will tend to crash, leaving you feel a bit sluggish and tired and hungry for more food! All processed foods (very loosely translated as anything with more than five ingredients or comes out of a box!!) are usually very high in simple carbs.

    Complex carbs are things like wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, grains and potatoes, the carbs that give you a slower, more prolonged energy release. The ‘white’ versions of all those foods have been stripped of their ‘wholesomeness’ and will usually be more like simple carbs than their complex counterparts.

    So, long story short to keep your energy levels nice and steady and your appetite happy it’s better to keep your carb intake to complex carbs and nutrient-rich simple carbs like fruits and dairy.

    The most misunderstood of all the macronutrients. Fats are wonderful though, and are so, so important in your diet. We all hear about omega-3 being necessary for brain power, fat is necessary to protect your organs, it’s a vital component of our cells… and that’s all well and good, but what does it mean practically??

    To cut a very long story short,
    Good fats = mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Found in nuts, seeds, oily fish and nut, plant and seed oils (omega-3, 6 and 9 are types of polyunsaturated fats).

    Bad fats = saturated fats, trans-fats. Found in animal fats and processed foods. These should be reduced but wholefood sources of sat fats need not be altogether eliminated - a little goes a long way.

    Even though they're calorie dense, fats in moderation are vital to include in your diet

    An equal amount of natural saturated fats and mono- and polyunsaturated fats are the best way to get fats into your diet, but try to avoid trans-fats at all costs (look for hydrogenated fats/ oils on the packaging).

    Now, obviously there’s a lot more to it than that, and no doubt I’ll post up some more about the intricacies of each group, but even if you can get a handle on what the basics are you’ll be a lot better at making good choices for your daily eating habits. If I want a high protein, medium fat breakfast I go for scrambled egg made with almond oil. If I need a carb-heavy lunch because I know I’ll be really active in the afternoon I might have a wholemeal pitta bread with chicken and lots of salad. It takes a bit of effort in the beginning, but it’s worth it ;)

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,819 ✭✭✭✭ g'em

    So once you know what your foods are made up of, now comes the more difficult part - putting it all together. Dietary compositions and percentages of the macronutrients is a fairly contentious issue. Needless to say it'll vary according to what your personal needs are - some people can eat lots of carbs and thrive on it, others (like me) only need to look at bread and they balloon up to resemble the michelin man's long lost twin.

    But there are some general guidelines (and they are just that- guidelines, not hard and fast rules) that will apply to virtually anyone for healthy eating habits. This is something I posted on the fitness forum, but it's not exclusive to athletes, it applies to anyone wanting to improve their eating habits:

    1. Have you figured out what your (rough) daily calorie needs are?
    If not, go here
    I need to stress here that you DON'T need to get caught up in numbers, but it's a good idea to know an approximation of the amount of calories you need on a daily basis to help you to manage your eating habits better.

    2. Do you eat small regular meals 5-6 times a day?
    Small regular meals help to keep your metabolism primed and functioning optimally - it's like keeping a fire burning in your belly topped up with small fuel loads every few hours.

    3. Do you eat protein with every meal?
    (From lean meats, eggs, milk, fish, nuts, beans and pulses)

    4. Do you have at least 2 servings of the following sources of good fats every day?
    Nuts, seeds, flax/ walnut/ sesame/ almond/ avocado/ olive oils, oily fish

    5. Do you eat vegetables (not fruit, specifically veg) with at least half of your meals?
    By veg I mean broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, beans (runner, green, string), carrots, pepper, asparagus, kale, lettuce, onions, mushrooms, cabbage, tomatoes.

    6. Aside from veg (which count as fibrous carbs), do your carbs come from wholegrain/ unprocessed sources?
    Wholemeal bread/ pasta, brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, low GI fruits

    7. Do you avoid processed foods as much as possible?
    By as much as possible I really mean 'at all costs' - if it comes out of a box and has more than five ingredients, it's not worth it.

    8. Do you eat clean 90% of the time?
    If you eat an average of 35 meals a week (5 meals, 7 days a week) it's perfectly fine to eat two "cheats" a week. Use your discretion - a 16" pizza with a tub of Ben and Jerry's on the side is going to constitute a lot more than a single cheat - you're looking at around 2500 calories in one meal.

    Don't be put off by the term 'clean eating'. All that really means is eating a diet that's devoid of junk. Nutritionally, junk food has no redeeming factors - it's generally high in sugars and trans-fats and plays havoc with your insulin - that's not a good thing, trust me ;)

    9. Do you drink at least 2L of water a day? 3-4L if you exercise regularly?

    10. Do you enjoy what you eat?
    Might sound like a silly thing to say, but the more you enjoy your food, the more likely you'll be to stick to it!

    If you can honestly say that you stick to those guidelines, then eating habits are most certainly 'healthy'. If you want to take it a step further and look at exact % of macronutrients, by all means ask for help. Otherwise, eat well and enjoy it!!

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,184 ✭✭✭ neuro-praxis

    Otherwise known as the Good Carbohydrate!

    *please wait while neuro puts on her factoid hat*

    There are two types of fibre that your body needs to stay healthy - soluble and insoluble. Fibre reduces the risk of bowel problems, some cancers and keeps your digestive system working well (makes pooing easier!). These are very important in sustainable weight-loss, and some studies have suggested that a high-fibre diet will even lower your blood cholesterol levels. High-fibre foods contain trace elements of zinc and magnesium which are very important in muscle tissue development.

    It's recommended that we eat 25g of fibre per day, which may seem like a lot, but with some careful choices it is easily achievable. A tip for when selecting higher fiber foods is to see the word "whole" - wholegrain, wholemeal, wholewheat etc. Also simply stuff yourself with fruit and vegetables as they're fibre-rich and packed with nutrients which will improve your skin, hair and nails, and will make it easier to get up in the morning and feel alert throughout the day.

    Foods that are higher in fibre have a low Glycaemic Index, which in layman's terms means that they have a controlled effect on your blood sugar levels. This means you will feel fuller for longer, and you won't have any serious highs and lows in your energy levels (ever notice how, shortly after eating cake or chocolate, your energy levels drop and you feel absolutely starving?). A Mars bar, for example, will send your blood sugar soaring, force your poor pancreas to produce loads of insulin to cope with the sugar and in turn, store the extra sugar as fat instead of helping you burn it off in your day-to-day activities. Eating some wholewheat toast and 2 kiwis for your mid-morning snack is a much better idea than the KitKat or the Danish.

    The list of ordinary every-day foods below should help you when trying to make up your 25g of fibre a day:

    Medium avocado 10g (great if you like guacamole - make your own and dip carrot sticks, peppers and celery into it)

    1/2 cup of All Bran 13g (an easy way to get a big morning dose - if you can stomach this stuff!)

    Kiwi 6g (2 kiwis provides almost half your daily requirement of fibre - they are cheap, easy to eat and with natural yoghurt and you have a high-fibre, high-protein snack)

    1/2 cup kidney beans 7.3g (add these to your chillis, soups, salads, wraps and stir-fries)

    Medium apple 3.5 (if you are like me and overdosed on apples in childood, improve apples by stewing them with a little brown sugar, cloves and cinnamon and eating them hot either with yoghurt or on top of porridge...alternatively, core them, drizzle with honey and bake them until they slightly explode :))

    1 cup strawberries 3g

    1 cup blackberries 7g (very expensive I know - you can get a carton in M&S for around €3.49 and you can top your porridge with them or add them to your fruit salad - delish)

    Small can baked beans 7.5g (pop them on top of your baked potato or toast - or eat them with eggs, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms for a tasty cooked breakfast)

    Medium banana 2.5g

    1/2 cup peas 3.6g

    3 prunes 3g

    6 dried apricots 3g

    1 bag Manhattan popcorn 3.8g

    Medium jacket potato 4.9g
    (eat the skin!)

    230g Wholewheat pasta (cooked weight) 8.1g

    230g White pasta (cooked weight) 2.8g

    180g Brown rice (cooked weight) 1.4g

    180g White rice (cooked weight) 0.2

    2 slices wholemeal bread 4.2g

    2 slices brown sliced pan 3g

    2 slices white sliced pan 1g

    30g bowl of Odlums porridge oats 2.7g

    Most of the other vegetables that I have not listed contain approximately 1-3g of fibre per serving. I hope this will be helpful to you. Fibre is king. So eat up!

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,394 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Vegeta

    great post

    now where's me toilet paper

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 35 Shockin Stockin

    Just like to add, as someone who has recently conciously upped her fibre intake, drink plenty of water to help stuff "move"....:D

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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,587 ✭✭✭✭ fits

    an avocado has more fibre than porridge? Are you sure?

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,184 ✭✭✭ neuro-praxis

    Yes I am certain that an avocado has much more fibre. in fact lists it as having up to 15g of fibre per medium green-skinned avocado.

    However, when I read your question, I went and checked multiple sources on porridge oats and funnily enough they vary wildly!

    My package of Odlums says that there is 2.7g of fibre per 30g serving. Fitday reckons there is 8.9g of fibre per cup (I am unsure about American measurements but would eat around half a cup of porridge for my own brekkie, providing 4.5g).

    This source says 4g per cup of oats. This source says (cooked) 3/4 of a cup has 1.6g. This source says a cup of raw oats has 12g of fibre - giving 6g per half cup serving.

    There are dozens more variations. I am going to adjust the post so that it complies with what it says on my Odlums packet - for now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,587 ✭✭✭✭ fits

    Well you learn something new every day... I never would have guessed that an avocado had so much fibre. ;)

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 37,215 ✭✭✭✭ Dudess

    neuro-praxis/g'em:- Isn't it the case that fibre isn't absorbed as fat, but goes through the body, "cleaning" it out and such (hence the increase in bowel movement)? Anything that isn't absorbed as fat but still fills you and releases energy slowly has gotta be a good thing.
    However, gals, do let me know if I'm talking through my arse...

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,819 ✭✭✭✭ g'em

    Dudess wrote:
    neuro-praxis/g'em:- Isn't it the case that fibre isn't absorbed as fat, but goes through the body, "cleaning" it out and such (hence the increase in bowel movement)? Anything that isn't absorbed as fat but still fills you and releases energy slowly has gotta be a good thing.
    However, gals, do let me know if I'm talking through my arse...

    Well you're pretty much right!! Highly fibrous foods have a tendency to be low in fat anyway, foods like wholegrains and vegetables, and the fibre helps to slow down the absorption of simple sugars in the small intestine. Because modern diets tend to be so highly processed and devoid of fresh veg, fruit and wholegrains the average person is usually not meeting their dietary fibre requirements, and there's a range of GI problems that can arise from it - excess fat being one of the milder side-effects.

    Again, this is another reason why eating fresh produce and unprocessed foods is so good for you!!

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,819 ✭✭✭✭ g'em


    In the post above I talked about the macronutrients – carbs, proteins and fats. But there’s an even smaller breakdown: the micronutrients. These are the vitamins and minerals, the stuff we don’t actually see but are vitally important for our bodies to function well.

    There’s two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Vitamins A, D, E and K are the fat soluble vitamins that circulate in the blood and any excess is stored in fatty tissue. This means that they are available whenever you need them and don’t need to be eaten everyday. The vitamin B family and vitamin C are water soluble. They circulate freely but don’t get stored so you need to get them into your diet quite regularly.

    Vitamin A
    There’s a couple of different types of vit A depending on whether the food source is animal or plant in origin. The vitamin A we get from animals is generally retinol (yup the very same retinol that’s used in anti-wrinkle creams!!) and the plant forms are carotenoids. This vitamin is necessary for new cell growth, healthy skin, hair, and tissues, and vision and can be found in dark green and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits, such as broccoli spinach, turnip greens, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and apricots, and in animal sources such as liver, milk, butter, cheese, and whole eggs.

    Indeed. Airbrushing has nothing to do with it of course...

    Vitamin D
    This is a slightly strange one because we actually make most of the vitamin D we need through exposure to sunlight. Around 10 min of sunlight a day will allow you to make all the vit D your body needs to promote absorption and use of calcium and phosphate for healthy bones and teeth. Food-wise it can be obtained from fortified milk, cheese, whole eggs, liver, salmon, and fortified margarine.

    Vitamin E
    An antioxidant, it helps protect red blood cells and protects your skin from UV light. You can find vitamin E in green vegetables, whole grains, eggs, nuts, seeds and plant oils.

    Vitamin K
    Hugely important for blood clotting and found in spinach, lettuce, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, wheat bran, organ meats, cereals, some fruits, meats, dairy products, eggs.

    Vitamin B complex
    A group of eight vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, biotin and pantothenic acid) that help release energy and maintain the nervous system. They are found in milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables, yeast extract, whole grains and meat.

    Vitamin C
    The immune booster!! Found in lots of fresh fruit and veg, but specifically fresh vegetables and fruits, such as broccoli, green and red peppers, collard greens, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, lemon, cabbage, pineapples, strawberries, citrus fruits and potatoes funnily enough.

    A single kiwi fruit can give you all the vitamin C you need for the day

    There’s lots of minerals needed by the body, but the more important ones are as follows:

    Around 99% of the calcium in the human body is in the teeth and bones, but it also has a role in muscle contraction. Dairy products and green leafy veg are great sources.

    *sigh* I'm off dairy at the moment... I miss my cheese...

    Helps carry oxygen around the body and is involved in releasing energy. If you have a low iron intake, you may find that you are tired and unmotivated, and an iron deficiency can lead to anaemia. Found in red meat, green leafy vegetables and dried fruit

    The body needs a small amount of sodium to help maintain normal blood pressure and normal function of muscles and nerves. We usually consume sodium in the form of sodium chloride, or table salt – most of us could do with reducing our intake! It’s hidden everywhere and in virtually all processed foods.

    Used in gazillions of processes in the body, especially in the immune system. Meat, eggs, shellfish and green leafy vegetables are good sources.

    This helps maintain fluid balance in our cells and is crucial to the nervous system. Found mostly in fruit and vegetables.

    A trace mineral that acts as an antioxidant. It is found in the soil and is passed through the food chain. Seafood, meat, grains and Brazil nuts all contain selenium.

    There’s a great website that lists the World’s Healthiest Foods – if you ever want to check on the nutritional composition of anything (right down to the micronutrient level) this is one of the best places to do it :)

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 37,215 ✭✭✭✭ Dudess

    Went to the chipper tonight after a few scoops (vodkas and diet Coke - I know, no alcohol would be the best policy). Anyway, it's been months - maybe over a year - since I last got a chippie meal. It was tasty but stodgy, and it left me feeling sluggish.
    Here's the disgusting part: it FLEW through me - I wonder is that because my body's not used to crap (not meaning to sound all holier-than-thou with my diet by the way, I've just made some significant changes in the past 18 months or so, but I'm definitely not averse to a treat).
    Anyway, lovely choice of pics g'em. They do indeed make good fresh food look fabulously gorgeous. Looking forward to eatin' the good stuff again tomorrow!

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 984 ✭✭✭ cozmik

    Here are some more examples of high fiber foods from the USDA National Nutrient Database
    One-half cup cooked navy beans - 9.5 g
    One-half cup baked beans, canned – 9 g
    One-half cup cooked lentils – 7.8 g
    One-half cup cooked black beans – 7.5 g
    One-half cup dates – 7.1 g
    One cup raisin bran cereal – 7 g
    One-half cup cooked kidney beans – 6.5 g
    One-half cup cooked lima beans – 6.7 g
    One-half cup canned tomato paste – 5.9 g
    One-half cup cooked garbanzo beans – 6.2 g
    One-half cup bean with ham soup – 5.6 g
    One-half cup frozen red raspberries – 5.5 g
    One medium bran muffin – 5 g
    One-half Asian pear – 5 g
    One-half cup cooked artichoke – 4.5 g
    One-half cup frozen peas, cooked – 4.4 g
    One cup oatmeal – 4 g
    One-half cup frozen mixed vegetables, cooked – 4 g
    One-half cup raw blackberries – 3.8 g
    One-half cup canned pumpkin – 3.5 g
    One-half cup cooked whole-wheat spaghetti – 3.4 g
    24 almonds – 3.3 g
    One apple with skin – 3.3 g
    1/2 cup cooked barley 3 g
    One cup broccoli – 2.4 g
    One red sweet pepper – 2.4 g
    One nectarine – 2.3 g
    28 peanuts – 2.3 g
    One slice whole grain bread – 2 g
    15 walnut halves – 2 g

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 984 ✭✭✭ cozmik

    High Potassium Foods Summary



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2 dublin1234

    cozmik wrote: »
    High Potassium Foods Summary



    Hi, I'm a Dietitian (a.k.a. clinical nutritionist) just browsing through and came across this thread. Fair play to you guys for putting in the effort, its great!
    Just one point i thought i'd mention about the last comment on potassium... It's essential for maintaining fluid balance and muscle contraction, but excessive intake can result in sudden cardiac death. Salt substitutes for example "Low-Salt" (which people consider a healthy alternative to table salt) is composed of Potassium-cloride instead of sodium-cloride (table-salt) so avoid it like the plague! (just a little fact I thought people might find interesting!)
    So i just wouldnt get hung up on Potassium and its sources, or get worried that you need to increase your intake. 5+ portions fruit & veg/day and your sorted! Dont get me wrong tho, its still great to know whats in your food and why its important to eat what media etc is telling you you should... but i just wanted to make that one point about the secret of potassium! :-) xx

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,136 ✭✭✭ olaola

    This might be helpful for people - I was trying to find out how many calories were in a tray of muffins I just baked (and tried not to eat!!) and I came across this site.

    You just type in the recipe you used, without consulting dropdown menus etc etc, and it comes back with a breakdown per serving. Very useful if you're making your own dinners etc!

    (Here are the muffins btw!

  • Registered Users Posts: 32,259 ✭✭✭✭ rubadub

    I find a lot of online calorie and points counters are inaccurate, so would like to get real products in Irish supermarkets.

    Popular tricks:
    Low portion sizes: Manufacturers quote ridiculously low portion sizes to appear low calorie, photos of weighed portions next to a scale, like a €2 coin might show this well. Look at the ad for maltesers and you would swear they are ryvitas or something, a pack of malteasters is just over half the weight of a mars. (I think ~38g vs ~65g)

    Watering down: Tinned food can be quoted as the non drained calorific value per 100g, so includes water (no calories). Also many ready meals like frozen WW or other "healthy option" meals like curry or spag bol are very watered down. You can spot this by comparing to similar meals and checking the protein and carb content. Manufacturers do not have to list water as an ingredient, it could well be the main ingredient.

    Low fat/Low sugar: if it is low in fat and tastes too good to be true it is probably high in sugar, and vice versa. Walkers "baked" crisps are only a little lower in calories than standard ones, they have far less fat, but what takes its place? more highly processed potato, some might argue the normal ones are healthier.

    WW points- I have not looked into this much but I would presume some might use the point system to their advantage, having portions or packs on the borderline points scale, e.g. if 3.4 or 2.8 gets rounded to 3points, they might make it 3.4- the person gets full more so goes for the product again, choosing it over a similar product which is 3 points on the dot. Another trick would be using unsaturated fat, as only saturated fats get entered into the UK WW points system, and many would argue that some saturated fats would be healthier than the unsaturated fats they might use.

    Alcohol- some drink for the taste or with food, but most I know drink to get to a certain level of drunkeness/tipsiness. A vodka might appear to have far less calories than a pint, but it only has about half the alcohol, so you may drink twice as much. Many "light" beers are low in alcohol and low in sugars, not to mention low in taste! A strong german beer might have 1.5times the alcohol, yet less than 1.5times the alcohol. If you drank 2 german beers and 1 pint of water, it would have the same effect as the 3 lite beers- but lighter on your wallet, and lower in calories, and better tasting. BUT the biggest problem I see with booze is the post-pub feeding frenzy.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 984 ✭✭✭ cozmik

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 6,370 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Macha

    Hi y'all,

    I was just doing some web-surfing today on some websites that I have found useful - maybe you guys will find them useful as well:

    Food Tracking Websites - has lots of articles - has lots of other resources plus good videos on youtube

    Recipe websites the series - has a great recipe search option. You can search by cooking method and by "healthy".

    For the low-carbers

    Nutritional information

    Blogs (Irish, yaay - and he's cute!) (Californian, focuses on whole foods, almost veggie) (American, what it says on the tin) (American, focuses on general health issues as well as weight loss) (American, unfortunately many products are only available in the US (American, low GI blog) (American, focuses on healthy, sustainable foods)

    Hope that list comes in handy for some of you!

    Edit: thanks for moving it - I couldn't figure out which sticky to put it in!

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,288 ✭✭✭✭ ntlbell

    I would like to just add a few tips that have worked well for me over the last two years or so various forums on boards have been very helpful and this is a summary of bits I've learnt that have worked very well. nothing ground breaking but has made a huge difference to me.

    The most important thing for me and I think a lot of people is taking on far too much too early it's a bit like learning to juggle you start with one or two balls and gradually add a ball if you start with too many they all get dropped. It's great to have some goals but try and split them up into mini one's that can be achived every month or so building up to a long term goal.

    It's not a race, there's no need to rush it you don't _need_ to be losing a stone a week or gaining x amount of muscle mass you have your whole life take it nice and slowly try and get well used to one change before adding anymore. Taking it slowly will make it enjoyable and if you start to enjoy the changes there is a much bigger chance of you sticking to the plan.

    For example for the first month look at your current diet try and work out the worst possible thing you eat/drink and remove it for a month. The next month add something else to list maybe add a 15 min walk every day. the following month remove something else up the 15mins to 25-30, if you get the bus get off a stop or two early and walk if there's lifts in the job try using the stair's etc all the small things add up when they're done every day.

    As important as it is to take it slowly it's equally very important to have regular increases in the amount of exercise but if you make the increases every 3-4 weeks they shouldn't have a negative impact on you that you get overwhelmed and give up.

    Try where possible to avoid concentrating on weight loss, the over goal shouldn't be just to lose weight it's for your overall health both physically and mentally as you will have a lot more energy, look better and feel better about yourself but avoid concentrating on the scales a scales can't measure your well being/confidence/self asteem etc

    Try and have a bit of fun, if you love tennis and haven't picked up a racket in a few years go down to your local club and get back into it. You can join hillwalking clubs and go for a nice stroll in the wicklow mountains burning off a lot calories having a chin wag and taking in some views. sign up and do a small fun run say 5k which will give you a goal and is something you can build up to over time, tell people about it do it for charity which will give you good motivation to not slack off

    Consitency is another big one, sometimes the hardest part is just getting out the front door so if you're not feeling like going for your walk or heading to the gym or soccer training don't set the activity as the goal just set the goal to get your coat on and open the door once your out the door it's a walk in the park but you will really see the changes if you stay consistent.

    Rewarding yourself, If you're doing well and you have been honest to yourself and kept going give yourself a reward if I didn't eat a take away for a month or some other crap I was trying to cut out I would buy myself a shirt or pair of jeans or whatever I built a wish list and treated myself to something on it everytime i completed a new goal.

    Not been to hard on yourself, no one is perfect everyone has an off day, maybe a friends dinner party not been able to say no to a desert or whatever the case maybe. don't be too hard on yourself the most important part is that you get back on track the next day don't dwell or you will start to feel guilty and probably end up eating more to feel better and remember when your exercising and eating well you can afford to have a treat.

    If you're someone who loves to start things and never finishes them, find yourself making all the promises in the world and then get frustrated at yourself for not keeping them then it's very very important to start slowly.
    Good diet/health/fitness is a life long journey, take it easy...

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 984 ✭✭✭ cozmik

    Storing Milled Flax Seeds
    Don't Believe Everything You Hear!

    Some reports would have you believe that flax becomes rancid if not eaten
    within 15 or 20 minutes of grinding. This is not true. Milled flax is stable when
    stored at room temperature and remains fresh for several months, most likely
    because it is rich in lignans. Lignans are powerful antioxidants that may protect
    the polyunsaturated fats in flax from oxidation. In fact, the antioxidant action of
    secoisolariciresinol and enterodiol is greater than that of vitamin E.
    (Read more on this topic in Chapter 4.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,756 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs

    Great thread but this to me appears incorrect.
    rubadub wrote: »
    A vodka might appear to have far less calories than a pint, but it only has about half the alcohol, so you may drink twice as much.
    Firstly vodka has far more alcohol than beer per volume. 5/6% for a strongish beer, 40% for an average vodka. I'll drink a pint of beer and you drink a pint of vodka and we'll see who is ossified more quickly. ;):D

    Vodka is basically alcohol and water. As such it's calorie count as far as the body is concerned is pretty much nil as very little is converted into sugars or fat. If you add a mixer with sugar that's where your actual calories come from. Beer has sugar thrown in. It's precious little to do with the alcohol. Indeed alcohol free beer will have way more calories than vodka.

    The main problem with alcohol is that it's largely converted by the liver in to acetate. This is used by the body in lieu of fat, so will slow down fat burning. Beer also contains phytoestrogens(from the hops), which also slow down fat burning. Some theories have it that brewers droop is more prevalent after a feed of beer as opposed to say a feed of wine for this reason - My own *ahem* non scientific experience would tend to bear this out. A decent bottle of claret spread over the evening and its a case of "how you doin.." A feed of pints and its "I'm terribly sorry, this hasn't happened before, its not you its me...":o:eek::). Drop in effects of alcohol on insulin(hence the apres pub stodgy food binge) and you're on a hiding to nothing. Especially if you're prone to weight gain or have an already dodgy insulin response.

    I was also wondering about the info on Vit D and sun exposure. A WHO report I read(though can't find online sadly) suggested that many if not most people in northern latitudes are very low in blood levels of vit D. 10 mins in the daylight on your face, in winter, doesn't come close to cutting it in our climate. If you're dark skinned that goes even more for you. Apparently a white skinned person needs an exposure to 40% of their body for 20mins in full sunlight to get the right levels going. Dietary vit D or supplementation doesn't make up for it and indeed supplementation may increase the problem. best way is through decent exposure to sunlight. The problem is that with all the understandable hype surrounding skin cancer we may be setting ourselves up for more issues. Obviously cooking oneself once a year on a beach in Lanzarote is a bit daft. Vit D is involved with the expression of 1000 different genes and as such is probably involved in more disease processes than pretty much all other vitamins. On top of diet, it may go some way to explain the drop off in many cancers the further south you go in Europe.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.

  • Registered Users Posts: 837 ✭✭✭ oppiuy

    Hi, im kinda in the process of changing my lifestyle and looking for a bit of help. I never eaten any veg before other than spuds. I have tried before without giving it a chance but could never get to like the taste.
    So lately ive been trying small amounts, building up portions and i have to say i really enjoy it last nite.
    i had a mixture of mushrooms onions thinly diced carrot and a few peas and im just wondering what is the nutrional value of those items. are they any good for you. Of course im going to keep adding to it

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,962 ✭✭✭ jumpguy

    While we're on the subject, does potassium prevent cramps? Is a lack of potassium the (partial) cause of cramps?

  • Registered Users Posts: 32,259 ✭✭✭✭ rubadub

    Wibbs wrote: »
    Great thread but this to me appears incorrect.
    rubadub wrote: »
    A vodka might appear to have far less calories than a pint, but it only has about half the alcohol, so you may drink twice as much.
    My post was about portions, when I said "A vodka", I meant a 35.5ml measure @37.5%, which does have about half the alcohol of a pint @4.7%, and so people will drink more to get to the same level of drunkenness.

    I was not saying one was better than the other, I was warning about portion size calculation. Unsweetened spirits & diet mixers are probably the most low calorie way to get to a given blood alcohol concentration, the sweeteners have been shown to increase alcohol absorption rates.

    Wibbs wrote: »
    Vodka is basically alcohol and water. As such it's calorie count as far as the body is concerned is pretty much nil as very little is converted into sugars or fat.
    This is an important point I make a lot. Not all calories are used the same by people. I would be interested if you or anybody else has links to studies on this.

  • Registered Users Posts: 215 ✭✭ Duffman'05

    I'm doing alot of training for triathlon these days (swimming, cycling and running) and have been eating alot of white pasta along the way

    - sometimes a little bit before training to supply some energy
    - usually a huge serving of it after a long training session

    Am I actually doing myself good or harm with this kind of carb intake?

    Should I only be doing one of the above? (or neither?)

    Any advice would be much appreciated!:o

  • Registered Users Posts: 983 ✭✭✭ Frogdog

    Duffman'05 wrote: »
    I'm doing alot of training for triathlon these days (swimming, cycling and running) and have been eating alot of white pasta along the way

    - sometimes a little bit before training to supply some energy
    - usually a huge serving of it after a long training session

    Am I actually doing myself good or harm with this kind of carb intake?

    Should I only be doing one of the above? (or neither?)

    Any advice would be much appreciated!:o

    Switch from white to brown (wholewheat) pasta. Better for a steadier release of energy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,282 ✭✭✭ Slugs

    does potassium prevent cramps?
    Apparantly it does. I can't say for definite, but ever since I've thrown a banana into my diet before I workout, I've had less problems with cramps.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,225 ✭✭✭ Ciaran500

    By far,the worst scientist I've ever seen. I recommend you do some proper research before advising people on what they should be putting in their bodies.

    Don't start insulting posters when you haven't posted a single bit of evidence for your meat only diet.

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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,756 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs

    rubadub wrote: »
    My post was about portions, when I said "A vodka", I meant a 35.5ml measure @37.5%, which does have about half the alcohol of a pint @4.7%, and so people will drink more to get to the same level of drunkenness.

    I was not saying one was better than the other, I was warning about portion size calculation. Unsweetened spirits & diet mixers are probably the most low calorie way to get to a given blood alcohol concentration, the sweeteners have been shown to increase alcohol absorption rates.

    This is an important point I make a lot. Not all calories are used the same by people. I would be interested if you or anybody else has links to studies on this.
    Oh I agree with you. The point I was making(badly) is that I can't see how the alcohol in the beverage is the issue. Yes alcohol has a high calorific count, but its not used by the body. Extreme example; a lump of coal would have a high calorific count, in that burning it produces energy, but if I powder coal and ingest it I'm never going to put weight on as it will pass through the body. It's not a bio available calorie.

    To a lesser extent the same would hold true for alcohol. The body treats it as a poison and breaks it down and excretes it. I could see the body using the acetone in lieu of sugar/fat in the body and yes I can see how the insulin spike it would cause would screw with the metabolism, but the alcohol itself has no bio available calories.

    So my take(however wrong?) would be that some calories are more bio available than others. So the bio availability in 100 calories of white sugar would be be much higher than in 100 calories of say lean steak?

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.