Recipe: Lean Lasagna

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

Everybody loves lasagna, but we don't love the fat that comes with that gooey mozzarella cheese. Here's a great recipe that uses nonfat mozzarella for all the flavor without the fat, tofu for protein, and spinach for vitamins, minerals, fiber—and Popeye-approved yumminess!
  • 1 lb. soft tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1 lb. firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 1-lb. package dry lasagna noodles, cooked al dente and drained
  • 1 cup nonfat mozzarella, shredded
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Food processor
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tofu in large bowl and crumble. Chop spinach, then combine in bowl with tofu, parsley, salt, and pepper; mix well. In bottom of a 4-quart rectangular baking dish, spread a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of noodles, then a layer of tofu/spinach mixture. Repeat layering process with the remaining sauce, noodles, and filling until all ingredients have been used, ending with noodles covered by sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella over top. Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
287 21 g 9 g 46 g 4 g 1 g

By Joe Wilkes

If you spend any time perusing the fashion mags and tabloid rags in the supermarket checkout line, you'll see a wide array of articles claiming to have discovered the latest "miracle food" that'll burn off the pounds while you sit on your butt and eat. Well, sadly, the news isn't quite that good. Without regular exercise, a decent night's sleep, and a thought-out meal plan, your metabolic rate is going to be dragging. However, there are some things you can eat that'll move the needle into the fat-burning zone. And all of these foods are delicious, nutritious, or both, so why not? Here are eight of the best ones.

  1. Fish. Most of us have read about the benefits of fish oil, which is full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Found in many common oily fish like mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, tuna, and salmon, it can also be taken in capsules (at least 300 mg/day) by those who are averse to seafood. Fish consumption has been found to boost your calorie burn by as much as 400 calories a day. Fish is also full of great, low-fat, muscle-building protein (which requires your body to burn more calories to digest it). And now's a great time to get fishy, as fresh wild-caught salmon is in season.
  2. Dark green leafy vegetables. These include arugula, chard, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, and spinach. They are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and lots of fiber. While the vitamins are great antioxidants and very healthy for you, the fiber is where the rubber really meets the road as far as your metabolism goes. Your body expends a lot more calories digesting fiber and protein than it does simply digesting carbohydrates. This is called the thermic effect—the amount of calories required to digest food can sometimes be almost as much as the number of calories in the food itself. Dark leafies also contain many B vitamins, which are necessary to produce the enzymes for metabolism. Most other vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories and can boost your burn, but the cream of the crop, nutritionally speaking, are the dark green leafy vegetables. So listen to Popeye and eat your spinach!
  3. Tomatoes. Tomatoes have gotten a lot of good press lately, as they contain high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been proven to have several anti-carcinogenic properties. And like the dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes are a good source of fiber. But tomatoes can also work overtime to flush fat, as they contain citric, malic, and oxalic acids, which support your body's kidney functions, helping your body eliminate more waste and fat from your system.
  4. Blueberries and other whole fruits. Whole fruits contain lots of fiber, and many contain so much, they can be said to have "negative calories," meaning your body burns more calories digesting them than it stores. One cup of blueberries only has about 80 calories, but it has 4 whole grams of fiber. Your body will expend much of those 80 calories digesting those 4 grams of fiber. Blueberries also contain lots of antioxidants, and are believed to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Plus they taste great! Try adding them to a high-fiber unsweetened cereal or oatmeal in the morning to get your metabolism up and running at the start of your day.
  5. Whole grains. Well, if you've read this far, you've probably gotten that fiber is key to keeping the metabolic fires burning. Whole grains are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. This is where careful label reading comes in. Lots of items that are purported to contain whole grains only have just enough to make the claim truthful, and may in fact be full of insulin-spiking carbohydrates or sugars, which will take your metabolism in the wrong direction. Check the ingredient list of your breads and cereals carefully and make sure the lion's share of the ingredients is whole grains.
  6. Chilies, curries, and other spices. Ever eaten a particularly spicy meal and felt your heart race a bit faster and your forehead start to perspire? The capsaicin found in many hot peppers and other spices can fire up your metabolism while it fires up your mouth. In fact, some studies have shown a 50 percent increase in metabolism for 3 hours after eating capsaicin. So it helps to keep a bottle of hot sauce on hand at mealtimes. You can also use spices to add flavor to recipes instead of salty or fatty ingredients to help kick your metabolism into a higher gear.
  7. Green tea. Researchers have found that green tea consumption can increase calorie-burning by up to four percent. It's believed that green tea accomplishes this by helping to increase metabolic rates, as well as fat oxidation. Studies have also shown that green tea can reduce sugar cravings and help inhibit enzymes that slow digestion, thus raising metabolic rates. Green tea's thermogenetic properties are convincing enough that Beachbody includes it in its ActiVit® Metabolism Formula. In addition to its metabolic properties, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, making it one of the most healthful beverage choices around.
  8. Ice water. Almost every nutritionist will recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, but did you know that if you drink ice water instead of room-temperature water, your body will burn an extra nine calories per glass? Drinking room-temperature water can burn about 16 calories per glass—that's 25 calories per glass for ice water. So eight glasses of cold water a day can be responsible for burning 200 calories! Besides, water is necessary for all your bodily processes, including the ones that control your metabolism. If you're underhydrated, your body will underperform. Water also flushes out fat deposits and toxins, which can hamper your energy.
Remember, a good night's sleep and smaller, more evenly spaced meals can be your best metabolic friends. And the best thing to really get your metabolism going is exercise. You can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour with Turbo Jam®. And because stress has been found to produce cortisol, a steroid that inhibits the metabolism, we recommend that you try and relax . . . and have a blueberry. Or a fish!

The 4-1-1 on Fiber

Sunday, November 28, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Omar Shamout

When I was very young, my mother implored me to eat my bran flakes or else I wouldn't get enough fiber. I don't know about you, but from the age of 4 on, anything my mother told me to do automatically seemed worth avoiding at all costs. Plus the word "bran" kind of sounds like "bland," so it's like my mind was already telling me I was going to dislike it even before I tried it. But in hindsight, maybe my mother knew what she was talking about. Fiber is essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system, and it also has a positive effect on your heart, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar.

What is fiber?

Fiber is a complex carbohydrate found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. In fact, it's so complex the body can't digest it.

Note that I said whole grains. When it comes to grains, you'll find the fiber in the outer shell, or bran (there's that word again). The problem we face in getting fiber from bread, pasta, rice, or cereal—the processed foods many of us know and love—is that they're often made from refined grains that have been stripped of their bran, which means they contain very little fiber. And just because a product says "wheat" somewhere on the bag or box doesn't mean it has fiber in it. (Technically, Wonder® Bread is made from wheat.) If you want to make sure you're getting your whole grains, and the fiber that comes along with them, you need to verify that the ingredients actually list "whole wheat" or another kind of whole grain. And even then, you should check the fiber listing on the nutrition facts panel to see how much you're getting.

What does fiber do?

There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber goes through your system "as is" and helps to regulate bowel movements. As insoluble fiber moves through the digestive tract and colon, it carries other things along with it, which bulks up your stool, making it easier for it to pass. If one of your goals is weight loss, consuming more insoluble fiber is helpful, because it helps you eliminate more waste from your body.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water, taking on a gel-like consistency in the stomach, helping to slow digestion and lower blood sugar levels by slowing the rate at which sugar is released into the blood. Soluble fiber also helps to regulate cholesterol by binding with fatty acids and helping them to be eliminated from your system. Fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary artery (heart) disease and type 2 diabetes.

But I don't like the way fiber-rich foods taste!

We get it, and food manufacturers do too—they realize consumers have gotten increasingly savvy about what goes into their food (and subsequently, into their bodies), and are offering more and more whole-grain versions of many of their popular brands of products. Taste preference, especially for foods made from refined flour, has a great deal to do with what you're used to. Making a commitment to buying whole-grain products requires your taste buds to adapt, but learning to prepare whole-grain foods in a way that's appealing and combining them with other other nutritious foods can result in healthy meals that are also good to eat.

It's important to realize you don't need to change everything about the way you eat overnight. Small changes can add up. If you don't like whole-grain bread, start with adding more apples or beans to your diet. Have fun and experiment. Don't get frustrated because you don't like eating bran muffins and proclaim that fiber isn't worth the trouble. There are always solutions to a problem if you're patient enough to find them. One great resource for gourmet, high-fiber recipes is The High-Fiber Cookbook by Bryanna Clark Grogan.

Supplements, you say?

If you change your diet and you're still not getting all the fiber you need, supplements are a great way to boost your fiber intake. One main drawback of getting your fiber as a supplement is that you can deprive your body of the other vitamins and minerals you'd be consuming along with the fiber you get in natural food form. If a food is high in fiber, it's probably high in many other things that are good for you too, and you end up killing eight essential birds (or vitamins) with one stone (or bowl of lentil soup). Keeping this in mind, let's explore four popular forms of fiber supplements:
  1. Apple pectin. Pectin is a compound found primarily in apples, but also in other fruits, including plums and citrus. It's useful in aiding ongoing conditions, like diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive disorders. It's also an antioxidant, and antioxidants have been shown to have a positive effect in reducing the risk of certain cancers, and lowering cholesterol in the bloodstream. As a result, it's recommended especially highly for those who consume a high-fat diet.
  2. Psyllium husk. The dried covering of plant seeds, psyllium husk contains a whopping 71 grams of fiber in only one-third of a cup. Some people are very allergic to psyllium husk, so always consult your doctor before adding this or any other new supplement to your diet. One side effect of psyllium husk powder, and high-fiber diets in general, is that it can give you gas. A lot of gas. The best way to deal with this unfortunate problem is to increase your daily fiber intake slowly. A sudden increase of 20 grams of fiber or more per day can cause discomfort, so allow your body to become comfortable with a new diet, and don't rush into it. Also, popular fiber supplements like Metamucil® merely combine psyllium husk with sugar, so you're better off skipping the sweetness and going for the real thing.
  3. Flaxseed. Flaxseed is a wonderful plant food because not only does it contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, but it also has high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to greatly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and help fight different types of cancers, specifically of the colon, prostate, and breast. Lignans found in flaxseed have also been proven to prevent the incidence and growth rate of tumors in cancers that are sensitive to hormones. One or two tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily is the suggested dose, and it can easily be added to foods like yogurt, cereal, soup, etc. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised not to supplement their diet with flaxseed until further studies examining its effect on them are concluded, and again, it's important to consult with your physician about adding any supplements to your diet.
  4. Wheat germ. Wheat germ is another good source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, but it's especially valuable for its high quantities of vitamin B, which aids in regulating metabolism and stress levels, and vitamin E, which benefits the skin.
Whether you do it because Beachbody suggested it, or because you think it's about time you finally heeded some of your mother's advice, it's not a bad idea to figure out a way to get the recommended amount of fiber in your diet. It may help you achieve a smaller waistline, while also helping to stave off a myriad of dangerous diseases. That's gotta be worth a bran muffin or two . . . right?

Recipe: BBQ Beef Tri-Tip Roast

Saturday, November 27, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

Summer's on the way, and so are backyard barbeques. Here's a flavorful recipe for barbequed tri-tip beef roast—the secret's in the sauce! (Well, in the marinade, actually, but "sauce" has that whole alliteration thing going for it.)
  • 1-1/2-lb. tri-tip roast
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. ginger, grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup plum jam (or use Chinese plum sauce)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bunches green onions, sliced in half
  • 3 or 4 serrano chiles, sliced
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Blender
  • Casserole dish
    Horseradish Sauce (optional)
  • 8 oz. unsweetened plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh horseradish, grated (or 2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Small covered bowl
  • Whisk
Place all ingredients except roast, onions, and chiles in blender. Blend until smooth, then add onions, chiles, salt, and pepper and mix together. Reserve and refrigerate half of the mixture: one-quarter to use as basting liquid; the other quarter to serve as sauce with the finished roast. Wash roast thoroughly. Pierce meat with a knife or sharp fork several times so liquid can penetrate more easily. Place roast in casserole dish, turn to coat with marinade, and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or as long as overnight), turning several times so meat marinates evenly.

Preheat grill. Remove meat from casserole dish and discard used marinade. (Important: Do not use marinade that raw meat has soaked in as a sauce.) Place whole roast on hot grill; brown 5 minutes on each side. Turn heat to medium and cook slowly, turning and basting every 10 to 15 minutes with half of reserved unused soy sauce mixture. (Refrigerate remainder to use as sauce when roast is served.) Allow about 45 minutes to 1 hour to cook a 1-1/2-pound roast; use a meat thermometer to test degree of doneness. (If it's cool or windy, you may want to use the grill's cover to keep heat in.) Transfer meat to platter and slice thinly across grain. Serve with unused marinade or horseradish sauce. (You can make a low-calorie horseradish sauce by whisking together horseradish, yogurt, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and refrigerating for 1 hour.) Makes 6 servings.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes (plus marinating time)
Cooking Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
208 32 g N/A < 1 g 8 g 4 g

By Omar Shamout

What is sciatica? It's a pain in the behind—and more. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body, originating in the lower back and running down through each buttock and the back of each leg. Sciatic pain is "radicular" in nature, meaning it can radiate from the nerve root at the base of the spine down to the toes. It occurs when the nerve is pinched or irritated by a disc herniation in the lower back, or by some other underlying cause. The pain can manifest anywhere along the nerve, and can change locations as the injury progresses. Fortunately, educating yourself, as well as using a little patience and common sense, can help make it a little easier to deal with the pain and inconvenience of sciatica.

How can I tell the difference between nerve pain and muscle pain?

Because the sciatic nerve covers such a large area, many people confuse other types of pain with sciatica, when what they're really experiencing is "referred pain" from another source in the body, like a pulled muscle or an arthritic joint. Here are some characteristics of nerve pain and muscle pain to help you begin to tell the difference.

Nerve Pain
  • Doesn't seem to be caused by an event or trauma.
  • Constant and/or recurring pain that doesn't seem to go away.
  • Burning, stabbing, pins and needles; even wearing clothing is painful.
  • Feel depressed, helpless; normal pain medicine like aspirin does not stop the pain.
Muscle Pain
  • Caused by a physical injury, such as a fall.
  • Pain that stops once an injury heals.
  • Sore and achy feeling.
  • Feel distressed but hopeful because more pain medicine relieves the pain.
Why should I be worried about sciatica?

Sciatica is not a disorder in and of itself, but rather a set of symptoms that potentially indicate the presence of an underlying condition. A herniated disc is the most common reason for sciatic pain, and depending on the severity, the pain will often get better after a few weeks of rest, but because back pain can signal the need for more extensive treatment, it's important not to ignore it. (Even minor back pain that's persisted for more than a couple of weeks should be checked out by your doctor.)

As we get older, the cartilage all over our bodies, including the lower back, wears down, leading to conditions like arthritis. This weakened cartilage leaves us susceptible to sciatic pain because the nerve is not receiving the same kind of protection it once was. When the nerve becomes pinched, the sharp pain that results can make it difficult to stand or walk. Sitting can also make the pain worse, so it's important to consult with a physician to find out if a) the pain is indeed being caused by the nerve and b) the underlying condition is severe enough to warrant further treatment.

Is there anything I can do to help prevent sciatica from either occurring or recurring?

There are several "prehab" techniques you should practice regularly to aid in preventing sciatic pain. Not only can these help with back pain, but they'll help with pretty much every activity you do in your daily life.
  1. Strengthen your core muscles. Strengthening the muscles in your abdomen and lower back is crucial to maintaining good posture, which will help to prevent the cartilage and muscles surrounding your sciatic nerve from weakening. Ideally, this should be done as part of a full exercise regimen like P90X®, which features a Core Synergistics workout that helps you build the muscle groups that support your core.
  2. Stretching. Keeping your muscles loose and limber is one of the best ways to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of sciatic pain.
  3. Maintain proper posture when sitting. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your lower back and hips should be properly supported by your chair. Your knees should be even with or slightly lower than your hips to avoid putting pressure on your lower back. Avoid sitting for extended periods of time. If your job requires that you sit for more than 30 minutes at a stretch, try to take short breaks to walk around and help keep those muscles from tightening up. You should also avoid strenuous activity, like lifting heavy objects, immediately after sitting for a long time—try to move around and stretch a little first to warm up your muscles.
  4. Maintain healthy sleep posture, too. It may not be the most obvious connection, but the way we sleep is crucial to the long-term health of our backs. Avoid using giant pillows, or piling pillows on top of one another—this can force your neck into an unnatural angle. Not only can this leave you with neck pain, but the improper alignment can put stress on your entire back. Putting a pillow under your knees when sleeping on your back can help alleviate strain on your lower back. When sleeping on your side, putting a pillow between your knees and bending your knees slightly will help you keep your body aligned in a less stressful way for your lower back. (Sleeping on your stomach is generally not recommended, as this position doesn't support the natural lumbar curve of your back.)
  5. Consider taking glucosamine and magnesium. While the medical benefits of glucosamine and magnesium haven't been proven, many people take both in an effort to strengthen deteriorating cartilage, which can be a factor in back pain.
How do I deal with sciatic pain when it happens?
  1. See your doctor. Especially if pain is chronic or persistent. Almost everything you do radiates from your back, and it's not something to try to work through or take lightly. However, many of us have some amount of chronic back pain, and it's not always practical to call your doctor every time you wake up with a stiff back. Anyone with a preexisting back condition should be fastidious about their prehab routine. If you're unsure about what to do, have your doctor recommend a physical therapist, who'll give you exercises to do. Once you're armed with this information, it'll be much easier for you to assess when you should call your doctor and when you should take care of things yourself.
  2. Apply ice. Most pain is caused by inflammation, and nothing reduces inflammation as well as ice. Start by applying an ice pack to your lower back for about 15 to 20 minutes to relieve inflammation and discomfort. This should be done several times a day. If the pain continues longer than 2 or 3 days, call your doctor.
  3. Rest. We recover best when we're asleep, so getting adequate rest is vital to promote healing. When pain is acute, all you can really do is ice and rest. If this doesn't make the pain better, you need to see your doctor.
  4. Apply heat. You don't want to use heat when you're inflamed, but for minor discomfort, warming up the area will help blood circulate in your muscles and make synovial fluids become less viscous. Applying heat can work in a way that's similar to an exercise warm-up if you're too stiff to begin doing any exercise.
  5. Move. Exercise is a very important component of recovery from any injury, but it's only advised when you know you're on the mend. Be careful, follow your doctor's and/or physical therapist's orders, and limit what you do. If you exercise to the point where your injury hurts again, you've done too much. Most of your prehab exercises can serve as your rehab exercises too. It's certain, however, that many things, especially many stretches, can make sciatic pain worse, so this is another area where you'll want professional consultation rather than just winging it.
At some point in our lives, virtually everyone experiences pain, sciatica included. However, if we're proactive about keeping our bodies strong, we can often help prevent or postpone the onset of chronic discomfort, while also preventing further injury to ourselves by taking precautions once we do begin to feel pain. That's why it's important to be smart about the way we react to pain, and listen to our bodies when they're trying to tell us something.

By Shaun T, creator of INSANITY®

Leaving your home where all your dumbbells and videos and favorite workout mat are all laid out for you? I'm here to tell you that's not an excuse to fall off the fitness bandwagon, or to act like you don't know exercise is NOT NEGOTIABLE. It's vital to your health, energy, and mental outlook. So now that I've called you out on it (you know who you are out there), here are some of the things I do when I'm traveling but not performing. And don't laugh. I do what I've got to do to get results. I make no apology.

First, pack anything you can within reason that will help your workout commitment. Grab sneakers, workout wear, favorite workout DVDs—INSANITY, Hip Hop Abs®, Rockin' Body® . . . whatever gets you moving!

When you get to your destination, whether it's a hotel or a friend's or relative's home, ask where a local gym is located. Most will be happy to give you a 1-day pass to check out their facilities, or only charge you a small fee for the day or week.

No gym in the scenic, out-of-the-way location where you find yourself? Rent a bike, or if it's winter, some cross-country skis. Got a computer? I'll bet it plays DVDs, so pop in your workout, Push Play, and get busy!

No computer or DVD player? Grab a chair and do squats and tricep dips. Lie on the floor and bench press your suitcase (close it securely first!), do push-ups, or if you can't do that, push off a wall to work your chest and arms. Need cardio? Find some stairs, go for a run, or turn on some music and do some of your favorite dance moves. Or do some yoga—those moving asanas are strenuous, and an amazing way of working your whole body.

Sound crazy? Recently while on the road I stopped by a friend's room to see if she wanted to go to the gym with me. She was lifting her little carry-on bag over her head doing tricep presses. Looked pretty effective.

You get the idea. Just keep fitness as a priority and you'll find ways to make it work.

Peace out,
Shaun T

Recipe: Apple-Raisin Coffee Cake

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

Got relatives staying with you over the holidays? Here’s an easy breakfast recipe, chock-full of healthy fruit and nuts, that'll serve a small army.
  • 5 cups cored, peeled, and chopped apples
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2-1/2 cups whole-grain flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish or pan
  • Large mixing bowl
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish or pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, raisins, sugar, and walnuts, and mix them together well. Allow mixture to stand for 30 minutes. Then stir olive oil, vanilla, and egg into mixture. Sift flour, soda, and cinnamon together, then slowly stir into apple mixture, making sure it stays moist. Fold mixture into pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving. Makes 20 servings.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
164 3 g 3 g 28 g 5 g 1 g

By Joe Wilkes

It's that time of year when it's not just the turkey that's getting stuffed. The Thanksgiving table is full of irresistible treats and sweets, but before you commit yourself to an afternoon of gluttony, followed by the traditional unbuttoning of the pants in front of the TV, you might consider that there are a lot of options that are actually good for you. And, if you're the one planning the menu, you can include even more choices so that you can enjoy Thanksgiving without turning into a Macy's parade float.

  1. Turkey. You can't beat lean turkey breast. With only 44 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 8 grams of protein per ounce, this is one of the healthiest things you can load up on. Even the dark meat only adds an extra gram of fat and 9 more calories per ounce. But skip the skin, which adds extra calories and fat, and go light on the gravy. Try the salad-dressing technique—dip the tines of your fork in the gravy before you spear your meat to get more flavor with less fat. Also, if you're cooking, baste the bird with broth, not butter, to keep the fat and calories low.
  2. Cranberries. These tart little berries are bursting with nutrition, including high levels of vitamin C and several polyphenol antioxidants. Cranberries are also good at inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria in the bladder and urethra. It's also believed that cranberries contain a chemical that helps stop tooth decay, but this could be moot if the cranberries are prepared with sugar. Instead of going overboard with the sugar, try cooking cranberries in orange juice, or a little port wine, to bring out their flavor without oversweetening them.
  3. Yams. These tasty tubers (not to be confused with sweet potatoes) are great sources of vitamin B6, which can reduce the risk of heart disease, and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure. And because yams contain complex carbohydrates and fiber, they won't spike your blood sugar. Candying the yams, a popular Thanksgiving tradition, will largely negate any blood sugar benefits, however. Try having them with a little cinnamon instead. They are generally sweet enough on their own, but if your guests insist on candying them, maybe serve them with a little maple syrup on the side, so at least the sugar rush is optional.
  4. Sweet potatoes. Like their relative, the yam, sweet potatoes have lots of nutrients that regular potatoes don't have, including beta-carotene and vitamin C. The high levels of carotenoids in sweet potatoes also help regulate blood sugar, which will help you avoid the post-Thanksgiving "coma" that afflicts so many overindulgers on the holiday. Although, once again, you can easily counteract the nutritional benefits by melting marshmallows on top of the sweet spuds. But, at least marshmallows can be easily scraped off as opposed to the poor candied yam, which would have to be scrubbed down to get it back to its natural nutritious state.
  5. Salad. Load up on salad! And by salad, we mean lettuce and vegetables, not a cream-based Waldorf salad or mayonnaise-laden potato or macaroni salad. This is a good contribution you can make if you're a guest at someone else's Thanksgiving dinner. Offer to bring a salad, with dressing on the side, and you'll at least be guaranteed that there will be one healthy dish on the table.
  6. Pumpkin pie. When you're looking at the dessert selection, keep in mind that a slice of pumpkin pie has as much beta-carotene as an entire carrot. Take that, apple pie! It's also high in vitamin C. Unfortunately, it can oftentimes also be high in fat and sugar. But if you're making the pie, you can substitute skim milk for cream or sweetened, condensed milk. Some chefs even add silken tofu to thicken the pie filling, and provide the extra health benefits of soy.
If you're lucky or unlucky enough to be hosting the main event, you can try some other things to "health up" the meal. Think about offering a salad course and/or a (non-cream-based) soup course. This can prolong the meal and conversation (which can be good or bad, depending on your family) and allow you to fill up on healthy stuff before the main-course shoveling begins. Also, try scheduling the meal so it isn't eaten in front of the football game. Then, you can pay attention to your guests and what you're putting in your mouth. If you're at the mercy of some other Thanksgiving host, hope for a cornucopia of vegetables that you can choose from or offer to bring something healthy and delicious yourself. By making healthy choices, you'll have something to be thankful for instead of a couple of extra pounds.

By Steve Edwards

Good ol' "holiday cheer" doesn't always leave you feeling cheerful, especially when you can't fit into your little black dress or fancy-occasion suit for New Year's Eve. Here's a simple 10-step plan to help make your New Year's something to celebrate. Let's start with the big picture, then count down toward a healthy New Year.

  1. Visualize. This first step won't take long. In fact, do it right now, before reading step 9. Close your eyes for a moment and visualize yourself in a place you want to be sometime next year. This is a fantasy, so make it a good one. Imagine looking and feeling a way you've always dreamed of. Now hold on to that vision.
  2. Target an event for next year. Think of something to focus on as a day for looking and/or feeling and/or performing your best. It can be anything from a class reunion to a triathlon to a trip to Cancun. Your goal is to find something to look forward to that will motivate you to improve between now and then.
  3. Plan a training program. Begin by finding a monthly calendar and figure out how much time you have until your event. Next, make a loose training program. You don't have to decide exactly what to do right now. Maybe start with progress you'd like to make each month leading to the event. Then pick an exercise program (or series of programs) that'll help you achieve your goals over that time.

    Be realistic. It might be difficult for you to focus on exercise and diet during the holidays, so you might want to schedule yourself a bit of flexibility for now. At this point, your aim is to plant a seed in your mind to keep you focused on a bigger goal as you go through the holidays. This little extra bit of motivation will be enough to keep your holidays from becoming one long binge.
  4. It's better to give than to receive. It's time to get busy. You've planted an image of success in your mind and on paper. Now you've got to get practical. Just how are you supposed to stick with an exercise program when temptation looms around every corner? Start by becoming proactive about the season. Become a giver. Instead of letting the holiday festivities come to you, where you'll have little control over them, plan them yourself. Organize your Thanksgiving dinner, help out with the company Christmas party, or plan your friends' New Year's get-together. If you're the organizer, you have a lot more control over the relative healthiness of the event. You must be reasonable, of course. You won't get the gig again if you turn Thanksgiving dinner into a tofu-and-broccoli Zen-fest, but being in charge allows you to make healthy options available. Plus you'll be busy, which'll leave you less time for indulging.
  5. Learn to cook. The easiest way to eat healthy is to cook food yourself, because that way you know exactly what's in it. There's a wealth of information out there about healthy cooking. Once you start, you might find it easier than you ever imagined to cook decadently tasty yet healthy meals.
  6. Plan to snack. Let's face it, over the next month your workplace is going to be filled with temptation. Willpower alone might not be enough. Since the easiest way to avoid these things is to be full, plan to snack throughout your day. Head to the market and fill your cart with healthy snacking options like fruit and raw veggies. OK, this probably sounds boring, but these foods are loaded with fiber and have very few calories, so they'll fill you up without filling you out. A large apple has about the same number of calories as a tiny square of chocolate. By munching on fruits and veggies all day, you'll keep your stomach full, which will make you far less likely to dig into the Christmas cookies. And if or when you do choose to indulge a bit, it'll be far, far easier not to overdo it.
  7. Drink water all day long. Another way to ensure that your stomach feels full when workplace temptations present themselves, drink a glass of water an hour during the workday. This won't just help you resist treats—it'll also keep you hydrated, which will help reduce the effects of that après-work holiday "cheer," alcohol.
  8. Rise and shine! Begin each day with a few minutes devoted to yourself. Lie in bed, breathe, visualize, and contemplate your goals. By focusing each morning on something you really want, you'll get out of bed with a better outlook on the day. Then you'll be more apt to make positive choices throughout your day.
  9. How to eat your holiday meals. You're almost certainly going to overeat, but here are a few rules you can follow to stack the odds in favor of your figure:
    • Drink a large glass of water 30 minutes prior to the meal.
    • Begin with a salad. Go light on the dressing, and eat as much as you can. You probably see a pattern but, again, water and fiber are going to fill space in your stomach and make it much harder to overeat.
    • Don't be shy. These meals were meant to be social and the more you talk and listen, the less you'll eat. Have you ever had a meal where you've been so involved in a conversation that you've forgotten to eat? Try making it a goal.
  10. What to do if you "blow it." Because at some point, we all do. And you know what? It just doesn't matter. If we were perfect, life would be boring, right? Anyway, one day isn't going to hurt you. What you need to avoid is one day turning into two, then three, and so on. So on those days when you've backslid, try this nighttime ritual that'll have those little gaps in your willpower filled in before you wake up:
    • Have a cup of herbal tea or drink a glass of water before bed. Herbal tea is great. It's both hydrating and calming. If you've been drinking alcohol and fear a hangover, take vitamins and drink some electrolytes (P90X Results and Recovery Formula® works well). Don't worry about calories at this point. Offsetting the effects of alcohol is more important. The most common effects of a hangover result from dehydration and lack of sleep. You need nutrients and water to fight these off.
    • Stretch. A few minutes of slow and easy stretching will relax you and help you begin the process of recovering from the day's activities. A scant 2 minutes is a million times better than no minutes.
    • Relax and reflect. Lie in bed, focus on relaxed breathing, and take a minute to reflect on yourself and your future, and then let it go. Don't think too much. You don't want to get excited, because you might lose your ability to sleep. You just want to center your thoughts and get them away from your negative associations of "blowing it." Tomorrow, as Scarlett O'Hara famously said, is another day.

20 Secrets of Very Fit People

Sunday, November 21, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Chalene Johnson, creator of Turbo Jam®

Here are a few helpful, healthy "TurboFired" tips. Read them, then print and post them so you have them as a daily reminder.

  1. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink from it often. Water is the drink of choice, but if you don't enjoy plain water, than liven it up! Try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice to your water bottle. You can also drink Propel Fit Water®, VitaminWater®, or some other form of healthy enhanced beverage with zero or very few calories, but remember: pure water is best.
  2. Look at exercise as a pleasure and privilege, not a burden or chore. Think positively about the changes regular exercise will bring about in your body and your life. Rather than obsessing about your next meal, get excited about your next workout!
  3. Eat well-balanced meals and remember that excessive calories, even if they are fat free and high protein, will turn to excess weight. No matter what the latest fad diet is, extra calories always equal extra weight!
  4. Limit your caffeine intake and your exposure to smoke—even secondhand smoke.
  5. Focus on short-term fitness goals with an emphasis on completing daily exercise.
  6. Keep a daily log of what you're actually eating. This includes grabbing a handful of chips here, the crust of your kid's sandwich there, and ALL your snacking.
  7. Enjoy an occasional (once a week) "unhealthy" treat, but never an "unhealthy" week or "unhealthy" vacation.
  8. Enjoy contributing to the health of others by having a partner or friends to exercise with, as well as recruiting others who have the desire to feel better and have more energy. Have a neighbor who walks every morning? Ask if you can join in!
  9. Avoid monotony by introducing new forms of exercise to your routine—in addition to your regular workout, try biking, hiking, swimming, or rollerblading to keep you motivated and inspired.
  10. Subscribe to fitness magazines to keep focused on health as an overall way of life.
  11. Invest in the right tools—new workout shoes, a portable MP3 player or iPod with great music, the right fitness equipment, a new series of exercise videos, etc.
  12. Make it your goal to do some form of exercise 6 or 7 days a week. If some days you exercise once in the morning and once in the evening, even better! If you're eating right, exercise will fuel your energy level!
  13. Don't compare your body to other people's. Instead, work to be your personal best.
  14. If your diet is unbalanced, work to balance it, and make sure you take daily vitamin and mineral supplements for total health.
  15. Work to take your exercise to new levels of intensity.
  16. Create an exercise schedule the day before, instead of leaving it to chance or waiting to "find" the time. Everyone from busy heads of corporations to mothers who work full-time to the President of the United States can make time to work out every day—you can make time too!
  17. Move beyond the boundaries of weight loss and into total fitness. Measure success by the way your clothes fit and not some number on a scale.
  18. Stick with eating plans you can maintain indefinitely. Remember that no matter how hard you're working out, if you're consuming too many calories, you'll never see the muscles that lie beneath the layers of fatty tissue.
  19. Get adequate amounts of sleep, but remember that people who exercise regularly fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
  20. Limit alcohol intake to special occasions.

Recipe: Vegetarian Gravy

Saturday, November 20, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

Every Thanksgiving table assembles a motley crew of family, friends, and sometimes people who just wander off the street, lured by the smell of roast turkey. The turkey's not going to be a big hit with your vegetarian guests, but often, they can make a great meal out of all the fabulous sides, including the mashed potatoes, yams, and veggies. Instead of a fatty turkey-based gravy, try this vegetarian gravy, which will add layers of flavor to your main course as well as the potatoes and stuffing for your non-fowl-eating friends.
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 3 Tbsp. mushrooms, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp. minced parsley
  • 3 tsp. olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
In a skillet, sauté onion, mushrooms, and garlic in 1-1/2 tsp. of the olive oil for 2 or 3 minutes, then transfer them to a bowl. Place remaining oil in skillet over heat and stir in flour; continue to stir until flour browns. Next, add water and whisk until it starts to boil; then add Worcestershire sauce and allow mixture to thicken (about 5 minutes total). Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic back to pan; add parsley and cook for 1 minute more, seasoning to taste with pepper, then remove from heat and serve.

Tip: If gravy is too thick, slowly stir in more warm water to make it thinner. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
48 2 g 1 g 9 g 1 g < 1 g

By Denis Faye

Everyone loves a good villain. Be it Darth Vader, Bernard Madoff, or Cruella De Vil, we feel better when we have someone to collectively hate. The same holds true for nutrition. It's great to have one evil, toxic food out there to despise, because if we can avoid that food, all will be well in our world. Health, fitness, and longevity will fall into place just like that.

Over the years, these supervillain foods have run the gamut from tomatoes to trans fat to all fats to peanuts to HFCS to MSG to carbohydrates. Sometimes the hatred is founded, but other times, the food in question is the victim of a pointless witch hunt, such as the evildoer du jour, grains. While grains probably aren't required eating, blaming America's rising levels of obesity, diabetes, and general malaise on a little cereal is like blaming the sinking of the Titanic on an ice cube someone dropped over the railing during happy hour on the promenade deck.

From what I can tell, this grain/cereal–based fear and loathing started in the Atkins "low-carb" years, when all things carbohydrate were seemingly on a mission to make you fat. Eventually, people started to figure out that you need carbs to survive, given that they're the body's primary source of fuel, so low-carb programs like the South Beach Diet®—and even Atkins—began putting emphasis on the reintroduction of fruits and vegetables into your eating plan.

But not so much with the grains. The superfood of the 1980s Pritikin era is today's toxic enemy number one. My guess is that there are two reasons for this. First, celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerance—the body's inability to process a certain kind of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—have become morning-show talking points. Second, paleo or primal diets have come into vogue. For those not in the know, paleo dieting stems from the theory that people should eat the way their hunter-gatherer ancestors did, which means mostly fruits, veggies, and meat, while avoiding agriculturally generated foods like grains and dairy.

Although Atkins, gluten intolerance, and paleo dieting have all helped to instill in the public the notion that grains are problem-causers with little nutritional value, I don't buy it. Grains just don't deserve the across-the-board vilification they're getting. For most people, in moderation, they're a healthy part of a balanced diet.

But before I explain my thinking, I want to make a few things clear.
  1. I don't think grains are the be-all and end-all of nutrition. I wholeheartedly agree that the old USDA Food Pyramid, with its "6 or more servings of breads and cereals," was completely absurd. The recently revised pyramid, however, with its "3 ounces of whole grains" per day is much more realistic.
  2. I concede that some people genuinely need to avoid grains—or at least gluten—but this is a small percentage of the population, and the fact that these few are gluten-intolerant doesn't mean we should all go without. I personally have lactose issues and keep cow's-milk products to a minimum, but that's just my body. While I'm not a huge dairy advocate, for me to categorically rule out cheese and yogurt for the entire human race would be absurd. If you have celiac disease or suspect you have it, you certainly should be tested, but that doesn't mean the rest of us should toss out our buckwheat pancake mix.
  3. If primal eating works for you, congratulations. Carry on! I don't think people need grains, especially if they're eating nuts and legumes, which can be extremely similar nutritionally. However, to pointlessly attack a perfectly nutritious food rankles me. This article isn't intended as an attack on grain-free eating. It's intended to defend grain. It may become a bit aggressive at times, but sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
With that in mind, let's get started.

What is grain?

For the purposes of this article, grains—or cereals—are the seeds of certain types of grasses. Better-known grains include wheat, barley, rice, oats, rye, and corn. In their whole form, they can be rich in vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates (including fiber), and, to some degree, protein. Whole wheat is a great source of manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, and fiber. Brown rice has all that plus selenium. Whole-grain oats add vitamin B1 and phosphorus to that list.

There have also been studies, such as this one in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that showed "whole-grain consumption was associated with a modest reduced risk" of colorectal cancer. And at least seven different studies have also indicated that people who ate three servings of whole grains a day had a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than those who ate less than three servings.

Presumably, the people in the "ate less" group consumed refined grains, which are bad news. To refine a grain, you strip it of its bran (the outer shell filled with fiber) and its germ (the little nubby thing inside filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants). You're left with a nutrient-poor blob of carbohydrates unregulated by fiber. The most common forms of refined grain are white flour and white rice. Without the fiber to slow absorption, refined grains can create insulin spikes, which in turn lead to excess body fat and diabetes. This is why eating whole grains is crucial. People opposed to eating grains often jumble whole and refined products together in their arguments, so in your research, please keep in mind that there's a vast nutritional difference between the two. In fact, some scientists theorize that Western societies' prolonged use of refined grains, which are more gluten-dense than whole grains, could be the reason that celiac disease is on the rise.

Why are these carbs so complex?

The main thing that separates grain from most fruit or veggies is that grain consists primarily of complex carbohydrates, whereas produce tends to be a combination of complex carbs and simple carbs.

Simple carbs, or sugars, are single molecules that break down into glucose (the body's primary fuel) quicker. Complex carbs are three or more simple carbs linked together, so the body needs to break them down into simple carbs before it converts them into glucose. The benefit of this is that complex carbs can provide more of an energy "slow drip" because they take longer to enter the system.

Other primarily complex-carb-based foods include legumes (like beans) and tubers (like potatoes and yams), but even if you skip those, complex carbs are nearly impossible to avoid. They tend to show up in most carb-based foods. In broccoli, 50 percent of the digestible carbs are complex. Even a medium-sized banana contains 10 grams of digestible complex carbs.

Blame it on the farmers?

One of the main criticisms anti-grainers have of grain is that humans didn't start eating the stuff until the Neolithic revolution. We spent our first 190,000 years hunting and gathering. (Whew!) We've only been farming for the last 10,000 years. Therefore, our bodies aren't suited for grains.

With this logic in play, we should also avoid all tropical fruit, given humans probably only got to Polynesia about 40,000 years ago. Furthermore, penicillin and various other medicines pioneered in the last couple centuries are completely out of the question.

Also, as I previously stated, the parts of grains that we eat are seeds—and they're strikingly similar to legumes and nuts, which Homo sapiens have been snacking on for millennia. And the argument that humankind became weaker and more prone to disease at the advent of grain-based agriculture grossly oversimplifies the situation. People were also suddenly establishing permanent settlements, which is something they'd never done before, so there was a lot of trial and error going on, including reduced physical activity, a lack of knowledge of sanitation, and living in larger groups in close proximity to livestock, which is a far greater source of disease than barley—unless you convert it to beer, but that's another article.

But you still want to blame the seeds? Well, technically, you might have a point. Suddenly, humans had easy access to one food source but no knowledge of nutrition, so of course, they were going to eat too much of it. If apples and asparagus were as easy to grow and preserve as rice, wheat, and corn, we'd have eaten too much of those instead and still suffered from nutritional imbalances.

Pooh-poohing fiber.

Many anti-grainers claim that the body doesn't really need as much fiber as you'd think, thus eliminating one of whole grain's primary draws. The problem is, they have nothing to base this theory on. One popular primal eating blog points to this article in Science Daily entitled "Scientists Learn More About How Roughage Keeps You 'Regular.'" It points out this quote: "When you eat high-fiber foods, they bang up against the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, rupturing their outer covering. What we are saying is this banging and tearing increases the level of lubricating mucus. It's a good thing."

The blog then goes on to mock the scientist for claiming this is a "good thing," basically because he doesn't like the sound of it. Apparently, the fact that the breakdown of bodily tissue can occasionally be a good thing is troubling for this blog. I wonder what they'd think if they found out that lifting weights actually tears down muscle tissue. Heaven forbid.

And if the tearing up of cell lining is categorically a bad thing, that means we'd have to cut out high-fiber food as well, including avocados, legumes, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and that evilest of all evil veggies, broccoli. Arguments regarding soluble fiber versus insoluble fiber don't hold up either, considering you get a mixed bag of both kinds with the various fruits, vegetables, and grains out there.

If you're still not sold on the benefits of fiber, have a look at this reference list for a rather pro-fiber entry in Oregon State University's Micronutrient Information Center5. Good luck debating the relevance of 160 separate studies and scholarly papers.

Toxic shockers!

Another concern is that grains contain a number of toxins, including lectins and phytic acid. Let's have a look at these two.

Phytic acid is a form of phosphorus found in many seeds, including grains, legumes, and nuts. It can be an antinutrient in that it binds to some minerals and prevents absorption. If that were the entire story, I could see why phytic acid would be viewed as a serious threat—but it's not.

First off, there's not as much phytic acid in grains as there is in almonds, Brazil nuts, or tofu—all considered healthy foods in many anti-grain circles.

Second, there are a host of potential benefits to phytic acid. It's been shown to ward off osteoporosis. It's an antioxidant that has prevented cancer in animal tests. It's been shown to lower glucose response in diabetes patients.

Third, even if it were a serious threat, you have to have an incredibly nutrient-poor diet for the mineral-blocking to be an issue—like third-world poor. And phytic acid is neutralized by cooking, fermenting, or sprouting, so if it's really an issue for you, you can eliminate it—and still get the nutritional benefits—by buying sprouted-grain breads and cereals.

Lectins are sugar-binding proteins present in most things we eat. True, they're more prevalent in grains, legumes, and dairy, but they're also highly evident in foods from the nightshade family, including tomatoes and eggplant, so if you decide lectins are the reason you want to stop eating grains, you'll probably be eliminating a number of other foods.

Anti-grain types point to lectins as being toxic, and while this is true to some degree, I couldn't find a single solid study or theory that justifies wiping out grains to solve the problem.

One study that gets pointed to a lot is "Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity" in the online journal PLoS ONE. It confirms that "Lectins potently inhibit plasma membrane repair, and hence are toxic to wounded cells. This represents a novel form of protein-based toxicity, one that, we propose, is the basis of plant lectin food poisoning." However, there are several different types of lectin and the thesis—as well as the execution—of this study centers around the notion that "certain improperly cooked vegetables" can cause the poisoning. It has nothing to do with grains.

Furthermore, although it's never been scientifically proven, it is generally accepted that the toxic nature of lectins is curbed by cooking them. And while I don't know many people who eat raw wheat, I know many people, primal eaters included, who chow down on lectin-heavy goodies like raw nuts and tomatoes.

That said, in the same way people can have gluten intolerances, it's highly likely they can have lectin intolerances, so it's something to consider if you have one of the dozens of symptoms some anti-lectin people pin to the protein, including obesity, schizophrenia, ADHD, and pretty much anything else you want to throw at it.

The kitchen sink of miscellaneous villainy.

But these aren't the only attacks made on grains. If there's a flaw in the human condition, inevitably someone will blame wheat, corn, or rice for it. Usually, the attack is based on . . . well, I'm not sure what it's based on, because relevant scientific research is a little thin when it comes to the evils of consuming a moderate amount of whole grains. However, when a study is cited, if you take the time to read it, you often discover that it has nothing whatsoever to do with grains.

For example, one popular primal-eating Web site claims eating grains can cause "inflammation," then points to an article in Science Daily titled, "Low-Carb Diet Reduces Inflammation and Blood Saturated Fat in Metabolic Syndrome."

The title alone explains that this is a study about how low-carbohydrate diets help to reduce inflammation in obese people. I'm not sure how that means grains in a healthy body will cause inflammation. Just because one nutrient has therapeutic properties in certain situations doesn't mean another nutrient is toxic. That's not just bad science, it's stupid. Furthermore, if you do read the study, you'll see it was not a lifetime nutritional plan, but a 12-week program in which low-fat and low-carb diets were compared. And even though the low-carb diet provided a greater decrease of inflammation, the low-fat diet, which contained 56 percent carbs, decreased some inflammation as well. So how could carbs be the problem?

And there's no mention of grains—particularly whole grains—whatsoever in the study.

There's also this report in Science Daily about a study out of Sweden showing that type 2 diabetes patients showed more improvement on a paleo diet than a Mediterranean diet. That's great news for diabetes sufferers out there, and again, I think paleo eating can be perfectly healthy, but once you've abused your system to the point that you have type 2 diabetes or you're close to getting it, you're playing by a whole different set of nutritional rules. The carbohydrates that fit, active people need to push their exercise regimes can, admittedly, wreak havoc with someone whose ability to process glucose properly has been shot to pieces.

Anti-grainers also point to this review article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that discusses "Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism." In truth, it does make some good points for lowering carb intake if you live a sedentary lifestyle. However, it makes no mention of grains and it features a large section on "Low-carbohydrate diets and exercise" in which it plainly states, "Therapeutic use of ketogenic (low carb) diets should not limit most forms of physical activity, with the caveat that anaerobic performance (i.e., weight lifting or sprinting) may be limited by lower-muscle glycogen concentrations."

If I were writing this article for the Couchbody Newsletter, I might let that slide, especially considering it says "therapeutic use," meaning "temporary and controlled use," but I'm not writing for a bunch of slackers. I'm writing for you, the ones who lift weights or run or jump around with Tony Horton or whatever else you do, so why on earth would I validate a way of eating that might limit your performance?

Americans got off to a bad start with grains. Lack of knowledge and an aggressive agriculture lobby arranged it so we ate too many of them in their worst possible form for too long. But we're better informed now, and as usual, moderation seems to be the shining path. Should you go through half a loaf of Wonder Bread® daily (or ever)? No. Is it okay to have a sandwich on sprouted rye for lunch and maybe a handful of Triscuits with hummus for a snack? Of course. It's important to do your own research and make your own nutritional choices, but just because you're doing that, it doesn't necessarily mean you always need to go against the grain.

Recipe: Winter Wonderland Salad

Thursday, November 18, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

As the days grow shorter, there's still plenty of delicious seasonal produce to enjoy. Check out this recipe that features late-season favorites like beets, cauliflower, and walnuts for a delicious, nutritious salad that’s great any time of year (but especially now!).
  • 2 oz. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. whole-grain or coarse-grain mustard
  • 4 oz. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 oz. mixed salad greens
  • 2 Belgian endives, cut in 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup beets, thinly sliced (precooked or steamed)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
Whisk vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice to create dressing. Add pepper and a pinch of salt if desired. In a large salad bowl, combine salad greens, endive, cauliflower, beets, and walnuts. Pour dressing over salad a little bit at a time while tossing, being careful not to saturate salad with dressing. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Serves 6.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 to 18 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
193 3 g 6 g 10 g 16 g 2 g

By Omar Shamout

While personal health and fitness are typically the reasons people come to Beachbody®, we're not blind to the fact that certain outside motivators are sometimes necessary to kick-start you into shape. Often times, the quest for love or companionship—or just plain old lust—is on your mind, and a P90X-shaped ego boost is needed to get you out the door and back into the dating scene. So now that you're physically and mentally ready to meet someone new, let's look at some activities that'll help you continue your newfound lifestyle while also putting you in a position to find a different kind of "exercise" partner.

The Gym Dilemma

The gym seems like a great place to meet active singles, but in truth, it's really not. First off, everyone's wearing headphones, and just think how annoyed you get when someone tries to talk to you while you have yours on. Not hot. Second, the cute guy or gal you have your eye on is either too focused on their workout, or it's left them too exhausted to carry on an interesting conversation. There are those rare moments when it's possible to make a connection, but your best bet is to look beyond the treadmill for that special someone.

Why not consider these ideas?
  1. Yoga. Yoga is an ancient Eastern tradition that rejuvenates both mind and body. Luckily, we live in a consumer-driven country that has capitalized on a niche practice and turned yoga into an easily accessible, trendy, mass-market activity. Yoga classes can be found everywhere. Now that you've been initiated into the practice by Tony Horton, continue to build your flexibility and show off your moves next to a very bendy member of the opposite sex, and who knows? Maybe true love will blossom out of a successful lotus position.
  2. Dancing. Yoga might be good for showing off your slo-mo moves, but if you need to release your energy in a more high-intensity environment, then take it to the club! Dancing is a great cardio workout, and since your weeks of training have increased your stamina, you can shake it all night long on the dance floor until you catch the eye of that special someone. Not into the crowded club scene? Then try joining a dance class at your gym or studio. If you don't feel like venturing beyond the comfort of your 24-Hour Fitness® or Bally's® to meet someone, then this is the best way to go. Salsa classes are also a great way to get up close and personal. Guys, don't worry if you have two left feet. If you show confidence, and are willing to laugh at yourself, women will think it's adorable. Ladies, if you're not quite Laker Girl material, don't worry, because guys won't really care. Plus they'll be more than willing to help you in a one-on-one tutorial!
  3. Aquatic sports. Water is the perfect place to show your new sculpted body! If you don't live on a tropical coast, find an indoor pool to get in some laps and tone all those muscles you learned about when Michael Phelps was winning his gold medals. When summer weather rolls 'round again, everyone will head to the beach, so that's the perfect time to grab some friends and have them invite other friends, and so on, and so on . . . Not much of a swimmer? No problem. Play some coed volleyball or basketball to show how much of a team player you can be.
  4. Hiking. No matter what type of terrain you live near, there's bound to be a way to explore it on a hike. Whether you're the adventurous type who's ready to scale a mountain or a more peaceful soul who craves a meditative walk through the forest, there are groups of people out there who would love to have you join them. Investigate the clubs in your area, then tag along on whatever hike interests you. You'll have hours to talk and get to know one another as you enjoy the scenery!
  5. Cooking class. Okay, technically this isn't exercise, but a class to learn healthy cooking techniques is the next best thing, and equally important to your fitness. Depending on your palate, there's a variety of cooking classes out there that focus on heart-healthy eating for every cuisine. Ladies, they say that food is the way to a man's heart, so why not show him how your cooking skills shine? And guys, do I really need to explain to you how much women will appreciate the kitchen moves you pick up at one of these classes? You'll have to fend them off with your, er . . . baster.
The most important thing to remember when trying to find a date through a shared interest is to always be yourself. Don't go to an activity you don't like just to meet someone, because if you do, then you're stuck! If you're not happy or comfortable with salsa dancing, your discomfort will come through loud and clear, and that's a huge turn-off for someone who finds that type of dancing muy caliente. It's OK if you've never danced or cooked or hiked or swum before, just be enthusiastic and willing to try new things. Keep at it, and that eagerness just might earn you a new friend . . . or more!