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Food and Health Tips

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Note:  These are user submitted tips, and are not endorsed by Fitness Factory or any personal trainer.

High salt/sodium intake is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that adults stay under 1500 mg of sodium per day, and never take in more than 2,300 mg a day. More than half of fast food meals exceed the 1500mg daily for just that meal alone.

Try to take at least 20 minutes to complete a meal. This is how long it takes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full. If you race through your food, you'll still be hungry no matter how much you eat, then when it hits you, you'll feel bloated.

Pumpkins provide a good source of vitamin A and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Try these tips with your leftover pumpkin. Pumpkin smoothie: Mix together pumpkin, fat-free milk, frozen vanilla yogurt, a dash of pumpkin pie spice of cinnamon in a blender. Pumpkin oatmeal: Add fresh cooked or canned pumpkin to your morning oatmeal.
Pumpkin muffins: Add fresh cooked or canned pumpkin to your favorite muffin batter.

It takes 3500 calories to gain a pound. On average, if you want to lose a pound per week, reduce your calorie intake by 250 calories and incorporate daily physical activity that will burn 250 calories.

"Hills- If you run or bike or walk for cardio, you’ll want to incorporate hills (after the first month or two of doing it at an easy pace on flat ground). These will make you stronger and make your limited workout time even more effective. Take them easy at first, but once you’re used to hills, you can get a good pace going. Either use a hilly route or do repeats on one hill."

"Do you know what's lurking inside your kitchen sponge? A smelly, wet sponge is a sure sign of one thing: bacteria. Reusing a sponge that's contaminated is dirty business. You can easily spread bacteria to other kitchen surfaces and utensils, increasing your chances of foodborne illness.Keep your kitchen clean by swapping out kitchen sponges regularly and following these rules: 1. Replace worn sponges rather than reusing. 2. To clean a sponge, wash it in the hot cycle of your dishwashing machine or wet the sponge well and microwave it on high for about 2 minutes. Microwaving a dry sponge could start a fire. 3. Pay close attention to what the sponge was used to wipe up. If it was a drip from raw meat, it's necessary to clean the sponge and sanitize it in a diluted bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach added to 1 gallon of water) before using a second time. 4. Since bacteria also can live in dishcloths and kitchen towels, wash these items often on the hot cycle of your washing machine."

"If the Label Says Natural, Does that Mean the Food is Healthy? Not necessarily according to the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates claims on food labels. "Natural" can be used on products that do not contain added color, artificial flavors or artificial ingredients. However, products labeled "natural" are not always organic or low in salt or sugar, and may not have any other special nutritional qualities."

"Diabetes is one of the nation's leading causes of death and disability. An estimated 26 million Americans of all ages have diabetes and are at risk for disabling and life-threatening complications such as heart attack, stroke and kidney, eye and nerve disease. Another 79 million adults (age 20 and older) are estimated to have pre-diabetes and are at high risk for developing diabetes. Yet research shows that Type 2 Diabetes and much of the illness and premature death caused by diabetes can be prevented or delayed through modest weight loss and regular physical activity."

"Having trouble getting your fruits and veggies into your diet?  Here's what I do.  Every morning--first thing in the morning--I weigh out 1 pound of fresh veggies that I can eat raw, and slice them/prepare them for quick snacking throughout the day.  I do the same with one pound of fresh fruit (fruits tend to be heavier, so it's a lot easier with the fruit).  My goal is to finish all the fruit and all the veggies before I'm ready for dinner.  It's surprisingly easy to do.  Actually, I started with one pound each a day, and am now up to 2 pounds.  I never have cravings for other snacks, and my tastes have adapted so I crave good fresh veggies and fruit!  Whatever is left when I'm making dinner gets used as part of my evening meal.  At the end of the day, I know I've eaten my veggies and fruit for the day, and I've noticed that I eat less unhealthy foods too.  It also encouraged me to try new things in the produce department at my store" Submittted by Kevin Key

"Can You See the Benefits of Vitamin A? Vitamin A promotes normal vision and it also helps your eyes see normally in the dark, helping adjust to lower levels of light. In addition, vitamin A also influences the immune system, is essential for bone growth and affects both male and female reproductive processes. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin A is 3,000 International Units for men and 2,310 IU for women 14 and older. IUs are listed on food labels and dietary supplements. Good sources of vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots and dark, leafy greens, as well as eggs, tomatoes and fortified milk." Submittted by Debbie


"One 8oz glass of milk is considered a complete meal because of carbs and quality protein it contains. When asleep we build muscle and we go without feeding because we are sleeping meanwhile your body would just love a glass of 2% milk in the middle of the night. A sure way to add muscle quick." Submittted by Rick Allen

"While produce contaminated with E. coli has made headlines this summer, most health risks linked to produce can be eliminated with proper food preparation, like cleaning all produce thoroughly. Below are tips from to keep your family safe as you enjoy fresh summer produce:
    Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating.
    Wash produce before you cut or peel it so dirt and bacteria aren't transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable. Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There's no need to use soap or a produce wash. For firm produce such as melons and cucumbers, scrub with a clean produce brush.
    Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating. Remove and discard outer leaves of lettuce.
    Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
    Use two separate cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination, one for raw meats and the other for fruits and vegetables. Color-coded cutting boards can help you remember which is which.
    Cook raw sprouts (such as alfalfa or clover); it significantly reduces the risk of illness."

"Calcium and weight bearing exercises are a winning combination for building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Your goal should be to build up your calcium stores early in life, then maintain that level to later minimize the loss that comes with age. Consuming enough calcium—at least 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams a day, depending on your age—offers protection against bone loss. Weight-bearing activity, such as running, cross-country skiing, tennis and soccer, promotes the deposit of calcium into the structure of bones. While non-weight-bearing activities like swimming and cycling offer many benefits of physical activity, they don’t help to build bone. For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every week." Submitted by Jeff Allan

"What is Nutrient Density to describe foods and beverages? Nutrient-dense foods and beverages provide vitamins, minerals and other substances that may have positive health effects with relatively few calories. Foods that are low in nutrient density are those that supply calories but have very little health benefit. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk and lean meat and poultry usually fall into the nutrient-dense category. Candy and soft drinks, on the other hand, contain calories but have few vitamins and minerals."

"How to Recognize a Fad Diet: With all the focus on weight in our society, it isn't surprising that millions of people fall prey to fad diets and bogus weight-loss products. Conflicting claims, testimonials and hype by so-called "experts" can confuse even the most informed consumers. The bottom line is simple: If a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no foods or pills that magically burn fat. No super foods will alter your genetic code. No products will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep. Some ingredients in supplements and herbal products can be dangerous and even deadly for some people. Steer clear of any diet plans, pills and products that make the following claims: Rapid weight loss, Specific food combinations, Rigid menus, No need to exercise."

"For breakfast on the run, a bowl of plain cheerios top with blackberries, blueberries, walnuts, add some 2% milk and your day is off to a great start. If you're into endurance, a great way to start is to have a bowl of fruit, it could be strawberries, raspberries, apples cut up, peaches, pears, or a combination, after eating wait 30-45 minutes, for cantelope an hour, then have whatever you usually have, bowl of oatmeal, bagel, eggs and you have yourself an energized start for the day." Submitted by Carl W., Swansea, MA

      "Summer Produce Tips: For melons, cantaloupe should have pronounced netting on the rind and a few tiny cracks at the stem and should smell sweet. Smell is also a good measure for honeydew and watermelon. Peaches should be slightly soft to the touch and yellow or cream-colored. For berries, choose plump, firm ones with a bright color. For vegetables, look for corn that has green husks and silks free of decay and tomatoes that are smooth and firm but not hard. Bell peppers should be firm, bright and have smooth skin." Submitted by Tim C.

      "Watermelon is the unofficial fruit of summer! Watermelon gets its name because it is made up of about 91 percent water. A source of vitamins A and C and potassium, watermelon is also high in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases. A one-cup serving of watermelon contains almost twice the amount of lycopene as one tomato." Submitted by Steve

"Father's Day Food Tips: Prime cuts usually have more fat than 'choice' or 'select', look for ground beef with the lowest percentage of fat on the label, Grill lean turkey dogs, chicken sausages, buffalo burgers or veggie burgers in place of full-fat options, Instead of sautéed onions, put onions on the grill for great smoky flavor."
Submitted by Tom R.

      "The average American diet contains enough protein for recreational or even competitive athletics. Six to seven daily ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish or the equivalent from eggs, beans, nuts or seeds, along with dairy foods and grain products, supply enough protein for most athletes. Weight lifters and athletes involved in endurance sports do need more protein. Athletes who are vegetarians can consume enough protein for rigorous activity by eating a variety of foods including beans, nuts, seeds and peanut butter." Submitted by Jeff

      Are You Eating Enough Iron? Many people choose not to eat meat or other animal byproducts. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, or even if you eat meat, how do you know if you're getting enough iron in your diet? Consuming a good source of vitamin C at each meal increases iron absorption in your body. Consider adding any of the following vegetarian-friendly sources of iron to your meals: Dried beans, Dark green vegetables such as spinach and beet greens, Dried fruits, Prune juice, Fortified breads and cereals, Instant oatmeal,Potatoes (eaten with skin). Submitted by Barry Davis

     "Be careful of foods that are less healthy than they appear.  Dried fruit has far more calories than fresh fruit. Granola, besides low-fat granola, contains lots of fat, sugar and calories.  Bottled teas or waters may be sweetened and add hundreds of calories.  Energy drinks or sports drinks add lots of sugar calories.  Reduced-fat products are often not nutritionally better- reduced-fat peanut butter has the same calories as regular peanut butter, but they have taken out some of the fat and replaced it with sugar." Submitted by James, Iowa City, Iowa

05-19-2011: HOW TO LOWER BODY FAT%

-every 3 hours, no more than 4 hrS., small meals
-calories are 1/3 protein,  2/3 complex carbs
-essential fatty acids, 3 times daily (Udo's 3-6-9 blend, Barleans's flax oil), 1 tablespoon with 3 meals, fish oil tabs, 2 to 3 with other meals.

PROTEIN SOURCES: Boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, tuna in water, any low fat fish, extra lean ground beef (4% fat) 6 to 8oz 1 times daily, whey protein (prefer isolate) low in sugar, meal replacement pack low in sugar (Prolab, Labrada, MetRx, etc.), low fat cottage cheese, egg whites.

-sweet potatoes and yams, white, red, yellow potatoes after workout, brown rice, any green vegetable or substitute (Udo's green blend), oatmeal low in sugar, pasta after cardio workout.

Critical meal Pre workout: sweet potato or yam + whey (1/2 to 1 hr.)
Post workout: 15 min. critical window, potato & whey
Post cardio workout: 10 min. window, allow a sugar carb source power bar, 15 to 20 grams of sugar.
Submitted by David Weinstock

     "For some added protein: Take 2 plain rice cakes and spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on each one. It will give you about 20 grams of protein. Very quick, very simple, and very good." Submitted by Marcus, Sylvania, OH

     "A good breakfast I like to make to help keep me in shape is 2 packs of sugar free instant maple and brown sugar mixed with a few scoops of peanutbutter and some sugar free maple syrup. This breakfast is nutritious, taste about like a no bake cookie, and the best part is it's sugar free" Submitted by Brooke H.

     "About half an hour before you workout, drink a 24 gram shake of protein.  Over time it could increase your muscle mass by 25%" Submitted by vschraufnag

     "This is more of an eating tip (or non-eating) than a food tip. I found that if I stop eating at 7-8pm and don't eat again until 7-8am, that 12-hour fast makes a huge difference in my weight loss goals. Sometimes at night I get hungry, and if I decide to curb the hunger, I'll have a one-scoop protein shake. Don't mix in fruit or peanut butter or anything, just the shake. You'll get through until the morning. Who's in charge anyway? I am. Not my stomach." Steve from Sandy, Utah


     "Mango salsa is a very popular topping for grilled salmon in restaurants, but not as common at home, which is a shame since it's so easy to do well. The tropical and tangy topping is a perfect match with smoky fish. Makes 6 Grilled Salmon Filet with Fresh Mango Salsa


Prep Time: 40 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • 6 (6-7 ounce) salmon fillets, boneless and skinless
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • For the Mango Salsa:
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded, and diced small (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoon red bell pepper, diced fine
  • 2 tablespoon red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced jalapeño
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of cayenne, optional
  • salt to taste
  • lime wedges to garnish


In a mixing bowl, combine all the mango salsa ingredients and set aside. Let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Toss before using.
Brush salmon lightly with the vegetable oil, and salt generously on all sides. Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill the salmon for 5 to 7 minutes per side until lightly charred, and cooked to your desired doneness. Serve with the mango salsa and lime wedges.

"Fat free cream cheese plus peanut butter on whole wheat makes a good sandwich with 30+ grams of protein and good complex carbs plus monosatrated fats.  Great pre-or post workout snack." VR Mike Hilert