Turkey: White Meat vs. Dark Meat

I have always liked the dark turkey meat much more than the white stuff.... but in recent years I have opted for more of the white stuff because the bad rap that the dark turkey meat has.  So I was curious as to why the dark meat has got the bad rap?  
First, we need to understand why their is both white and dark meat in the turkey. Well since turkeys don't fly much, their legs and thighs are the their primary mode of transportation.  So the muscles of the legs and thighs are full of myoglobin proteins , which ship oxygen to the muscle cells so the turkeys can run around all day and not get tired. These myoglobins make the flesh darker.

Now we know why it appears darker......  what are the nutritional differences??

Well overall turkey is a great source of low-fat protein and nutrients, whether it is dark or light.  
When comparing dark vs light nutritionally here is the comparison: 

Dark meat contains about twice as much riboflavin and zinc than white meat. They also usually contain more heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. It is the saturated fat content which lowers the true quality of dark meat that most people worry about.  

But I found that per one ounce....... dark meat only has about ~10 more calories and a little over 1 gram of fat more when compared to one ounce of the white meat.  So although the dark meat is slightly higher in calories and fat, the benefits that it contains don't really make that big of a difference.  So go ahead and grab for the drumstick on occasion. 

*I believe that it is more important to avoid the skin.... this is where the majority of the fat is. So eat up on the turkey while avoiding the skin. 



The holidays are here... this is the time of year that many, including myself fall out of my healthy eating habits and instead eat way more calories than I should.  So this week I want to address specific questions and thoughts on Thanksgiving healthy eating....

******Use a smaller plate******
One of the simplest ways to cut calories for Thanksgiving dinner is to use a smaller plate. Instead of the typical dinner plate size, opt for the appetizer size plate for your main meal.  This way you won't have room to stuff it with double or triple helpings although you will still have the appearance of eating a full plate.  So go ahead and give it a try.


Keeping the numbers down!

So I was reading in Fitness magazine the other day... when I came upon some very interesting and eye catching stats. Not quite sure where they got all the info but interesting all the same.... and too be honest I don't doubt what they are claiming.  I have seen what I eat on some Thanksgiving.... and I know some people eat more than me!

3,000 Number of Calories in the average Thanksgiving Dinner. (that's almost gaining one pound just for that meal - - 3,500 calories = 1 pound gained)

4.7 Number of hours you'd have to jog to burn them off. That's a long long long time to be running....

8 Pounds the average American gains in a decade just from pigging out every November and December.

So let's not be part of the statistics.... and do what it takes to get healthy! 


new Tradition.

Over the past few years my family has held an annual Turkey Trot (5K Run/Walk) on Thanksgiving morning for my immediate and extended family as well as any friends that want to join in. It's not only a fun event to get together and have a little competition with friends and family, but it burns a few calories prior to your Thanksgiving feast. (remember the average Thanksgiving dinner is around 3,000 calories-- so any calories burned are bonus)  

So if you aren't currently involved in a Thanksgiving morning activity, START A NEW TRADITION.  YOU can be the one in your family or group of friends to start it all. So get organizing..... whether a Turkey Trot or a Turkey Bowl (football game), do something to get everyone out moving!  It does not need to be anything serious... everyone can walk... so don't let your family tell you they can't take part.  Our turkey trot consists of old, young, fast and slow......  you don't have to be an experienced runner.   

So let's all GET ACTIVE this Thanksgiving! 


Know Your Numbers.

I am a firm believer of knowing and checking your weight on a regular basis.  I know when I check often (at least once a week), it keeps me on track and I stay on goal with my ideal weight.

Do you know your numbers?  

If not, find a scale and weigh yourself TODAY....
 then check out these websites to see where you fit in.  Knowing is POWER.

BMI: Click HERE to calculate. You can also calculate your RMR (resting metabolic rate aka metabolism, and calculate for weight loss.)
Waist to Hip Ratio: Click HERE to calculate.
HAMWI Method: Click HERE to calculate.


Count it as .....

Counting Calories and knowing how many calories you are consuming is quite easy when it comes to most packaged items. Read the label and you have your answer.  Fresh Fruits and Vegetables are more of a challenge to accurately know how many calories you really are consuming.  So I compiled this list of common Fruits and the amount of calories they each have.  Be careful about portion sizes.  For example....  Many apples at the grocery store are easily 2x the size of a serving of an apple.... so in that case if you eat the whole apple be sure to double the calories.  

Apple (1 medium)  = ~75 calories 
Avocado (1/2) = ~145 calories
Apricot (1 med- 35 grams) = ~20 calories
Banana (medium; 7-8 inches) = ~100 calories
Blackberries (1 cup) = ~60 calories
Blueberries (1 cup) = ~80 calories
Cantaloupe (1/4 of medium melon) = ~50 calories
Grapefruit (1/2) = ~40 calories
Grapes (1 cup) = ~100 calories 
Kiwi (1 medium) = ~45 calories
Mango (1/2) = ~75 calories
Orange (1 medium) = ~70 calories 
Peaches (1 medium) = ~45 calories 
Pears (1 medium) = ~100 calories 
Pineapple (1 cup) = ~70 calories 
Plums (1 medium) = ~35 calories 
Pomegranate seeds (2 Tablespoons) = ~20 calories
Raspberries (1 cup) = ~70 calories
Strawberries (1 cup) = ~100 calories
Watermelon (1 cup) = ~45 calories

Vegetable Calories to come. 


Late Night Eating Debate.

One topic of debate that I often find myself in when talking to friends, family, or giving presentations is....
"Will Eating Late at Night Cause me to Gain Weight?" 
Their argument is that you aren't moving around and exercising off those calories at night so they will turn into fat.    BUT I AM HERE TO SAY THAT............

Your body doesn’t know what time it is. It doesn't matter what time the food was consumed, but more importantly how much food was consumed throughout the entire day (week, month, or year).   

So whether it is  8 am or 8 pm, your food is going to have the same amount of calories and total calories is what leads to weight loss or weight gain.  For example the apple you just ate isn't suddenly going to have 250 calories instead of 100 calories just because you ate it at 9 pm instead of 9 am.  What matters is the TOTAL amount of Calories (food and beverages) that you have over time.... say a week, a month, a year etc.  Eating additional calories (whether you eat them in the early hours of the day or late at night) will turn into extra fat over time. 

But remember: 
Although the calories you are eating at night aren't adding up more than your other calories, I still highly encourage you to limit your late-night eating because if you aren't eating at night your total daily caloric intake is most likely going to be less- which means less calories added up over time, which means less weight gain- or maybe even weight los. Plus I know when I start snacking after dinner and into the night, it is usually the higher caloric- less nutritious food like ice cream, cookies, or whatever else I can find lying around the house.  


Swap your Workout DVDs

Do you get sick of you are home workout DVDs after doing them just a handful of times? I know there have been times that I have purchased a workout DVD in hopes that it would transform me into a lean, toned, hot body when in reality I do it a few times and realize that the workout is just not for me (whether too boring, too hard, too easy, too cheesy etc.).  So if you have DVDs lying around collecting a dust, check out these websites---- Swap-Tree or  Swap-A-DVD website.  
Get out of your at home work out rut and SWAP YOUR DVDs for some new ones.  

Here's just a couple of my favorite workout DVDs. 

-I love Jillian's 30 Day Shred.  It is perfect for days that I only have time for a quick workout. The DVD has 3- 20 minute workouts (easy, moderate, and hard).  Just because they are only 20 minutes don't think that you won't be sweating; it kicks my trash everytime-- even the easy gets me. I am pretty much dripping bullets by the end of them. So try it out and you'll feel like you are on the Biggest Loser. 

- On days when I have a more time and can't make it to the gym, I love Slim-in-6 workout by BeachBody.  I have used this DVD now since 2003 and I'm still not sick of it.......  mostly because I get results and results make me happy.  I also love the segment, Slim and 6 pack.  It's an 11 minute ab-workout.  It is the perfect addition on days when I go for a run or just want a quick ab workout.
What are some of your favorite Workout Dvds?


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Fats get a bad rap, but the fact is: we all need fats to some extent. Fats help with nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, and are used as protection to vital organs. However, when consumed in excess, fats have been shown to contribute to weight gain, diabetes, & heart disease. Fats are not created equal. Some fats are GOOD, some BAD, and some very UGLY. The key is to replace bad & ugly fats with the good fats!

The GOOD Fats are Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats(Omega 3s). Focus on increasing these in your diet. Food Sources include: Cold Water Fish-Salmon, Mackerel, Trout, Tuna, Fish oils, Flaxseeds, Nuts-walnuts, almonds, Olives, Avacados, Olive oil, Canola oil. Good fats help lower your total cholesterol, Lower LDL(the bad) cholesterol, Raise HDL(the good) cholesterol, & help reduce your risk of Heart Disease.

The BAD Fats are Saturated Fats. Focus on limiting these. Food Sources include: Red Meats, Butter, Milk, Yogurt, Ice Cream, Cheese, Eggs, Coconut, & Palm Oils.  Saturated fats raise your total cholesterol, raise LDL(the bad) cholesterol, and increase your risk for heart disease.
The UGLY Fats are Trans Fats. Avoid these at all costs. Food Sources include: shortening, stick margarine, commercially packaged items: sweets, cookies, crackers, cakes, Doughnuts, Fast food-most fried foods. Trans fat Increase your risk for heart disease, Lower HDL(the good) cholesterol, & Raise LDL(the bad) cholesterol.

Kitchen tips and hints for cutting out some of the BAD fat:

  • Use lower-fat version dairy such as 1% or skim milk instead of whole milk.
  • Grill or Broil over Frying!
  • Remove the skin from chicken/turkey —the skin is where the majority of the bad fat is. 
  • Rinse off melted fat from cooked ground meats before serving.
  • Cut butter or margarine in half when making boxed meals.
  • When baking, replace 1 cup shortening or butter with ½ c. applesauce & ½ c. vegetable oil.


Birds of a Feather Flock Together.

A very interesting study entitled, “What you eat depends on whom you eat”, published in the online international journal, ‘Appetite’ found that what a person chooses to eat at lunch or dinner is influenced by who they eat with and the gender make-up of the group.
By observing students in naturalistic settings in three large university cafeterias with a wide choice of food options and dining companions, Young found that women who ate with a male companion chose foods of significantly lower caloric value than did women who were observed eating with another woman.

What's more, when women ate in mixed-gender groups their food choices were at the lower end of the caloric scale; the more men in the group the fewer the calories. When women ate in all-female groups, their food was significantly higher in calories.
"Eating is a social activity," says Young. "In university cafeterias people select their food before they are seated and perhaps before they know with whom they will eat. Given the observed differences it seems likely that social groupings were anticipated at the time of food selection."

I think back to my single years and all the dinner dates and group dinners. I would agree that I made more healthful choices if men were present.  But I think it also goes to a further level. I not only chose healthier choices when with guys, but if I was eating with friends that were more health conscious I was more health conscious. So my message of the day....  Birds of a Feather really do Flock Together. When my friends are eating ice cream I am usually eating ice cream… or if my friends are stuffing their faces with other sweets and goodies I tend to be stuffing my face with sweets and goodies.  The fact is that your friends and family are a huge influence on how and what you eat.  I think back to all my years at college living with different roommates I now realize that I ate healthier when living with others that were concerned about their health. The times when I gained a few pounds were times that I lived with roommates that had cookies, candies, ice cream a bit more often.  

So moral of the story; Eat with MEN  or surround yourself with friends and family that you want to be like (health and weight) wise.  More likely you will develop some of their  healthy eating habits!   


Jump away the Calories.

I am sure many of you haven't picked up a jump rope since you were in elementary school. It wasn't til a couple years ago when I realized that jumping rope was more than  singing jump rope rhymes with my little friends at school.  I can now say that the jump rope can be a very intense, high calorie burning, cheap, and fun exercise.  I think that it gets overlooked by most people.... but I am here to say that it works!  Whenever I jump rope, I end up sweating buckets and feel so much stronger afterwards.

Why Jump Rope? 
1. Easy..... All skill levels can take part in this. There are so many ways to do it---- you can start as simple and intense as you want....  Remember to push yourself though.
2. Portable..... all you need is a rope. It is a great exercise to bring along when you are traveling and want a quick workout on the road.
3. Fun..... At first it may not seem fun, but once you get used to it you soon will find it addicting and fun.
4. Cheap.....  No need for a gym pass. All you need is a rope, which you can get a decent one for as little as $5-$15 for a good quality one.
5. It's a total body workout and burns a ton of calories.  Every part of my body is burning when I am finished.. my arms, my calves, my stomach.... pretty much everything is getting a workout in........ Plus jump roping has been found to burn up to 1,000 calories a hour.  That's a lot.

My Jump Rope workout.... I like to do it as part of my regular workout...
*I do this 3 times.
- 50 regular two leg jumps.
- 50 right leg only jumps.
- 50 left leg only jumps.
- 50 more regular two leg jumps.
I try to do these as continuously as I can.   It may take some practice to get it without mistakes, just do your best!

SO GET JUMPING.... and the pounds will literally jump off you.