5 Power Snacks to Get You through the Holidays

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Written by The Nutrition Twins

The holidays are quickly approaching and we can already feel the excitement in the air—people are bustling to buy gifts and busy preparing for holiday parties and family gatherings. As much as we love the holiday time, it can be downright exhausting.  And if you choose sugary snacks or those that lack fiber and protein that seem to be everywhere especially this time of year, you’ll find yourself crashing before you get to your celebration.  Admittedly, we’ve been there more than once, thanks to overdoing it on poor choices ranging from a pumpkin pie sampling to Williams-Sonoma’s peppermint bark, and we don’t recommend it.  After all, choose the wrong snacks and you’ll feel like you woke up in a daze after being been dragged through the snow for miles on the back of Santa’s sled.

The good news is that by choosing the right snacks that contain both satisfying protein and fiber (which usually comes bundled with energy- revving quality carbohydrates), you’ll have the energy to power right through the holidays.  Choose these snacks and those toy-delivering energizer bunnies (a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Claus) will have nothing on you.  Pssst… in fact, you’ll have something on the Claus’s since you won’t have their big bellies—these snacks are all under 200 calories!

  • Low-fat Cheese and Tomato Toast.  When it’s cold outside, this is the perfect, energizing snack.  Our Mom made this frequently when we were growing up.  Simply take a slice of whole wheat bread (fiber-filled, energy-providing carbohydrates) and top it with a slice of tomato and a slice of low-fat mozzarella (for satisfying protein and bone-building calcium) and pop it in the toaster. Voila!
  • Pistachios. Whether you’re shopping for gifts at the mall or in the comfort of your own home, pistachios are the perfect snack, since they’ve got that winning combination of both fiber and protein to keep you feeling satiated.  Plus, they’re portable!  This is one of our faves and we’ve been using it for an afternoon snack to boost us for as long as we can remember.  In fact, pistachios are such a staple in our energizing diet that we now work with Wonderful Pistachios to help others to benefit from their nutritious benefits.
  • Red Peppers and Black Bean Dip.  Red peppers are loaded not only with anti-oxidants, but with fiber too.  They’ll give you a quick burst of energy while the beans in the bean dip will extend that energy boost with fiber and protein.  Red peppers are a staple in our house, and we love combining them with black bean dip, hummus or low-fat yogurt dip—all give us protein to fuel us even longer.
  • Whey Chocolate Covered Popcorn. Make a small bag of fat free popcorn and add 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder. Shake until the powder covers the popcorn.  We love this snack because it instantly quenches our sweet tooth craving and our desire to crunch. Plus the popcorn is packed with energy-providing carbohydrates and fiber and the protein powder gives you that staying power.
  • Non-fat Greek Yogurt with Apples and Cinnamon.  We like to cut an apple into little chunks and stir them right into the yogurt, and then we add a dash of cinnamon.   Our clients tend to like their yogurt with cinnamon as a dip for the apples. Whichever you prefer, rest assured you will be getting an energy surge from the apple’s fiber- packed carbohydrates.  The creamy, satisfying, protein-filled yogurt will prevent energy crashes and keep you powering through.

What is your favorite snack to help you get through the holidays?

 

For More like this you may like…

For a Get Healthy Guide Check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure!

 

3 Calorie-Saving Cocktail Strategies

As seen on December 9th, 2013 on:

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written by The Nutrition Twins,

 

Cookies get all the attention when it comes to holiday gluttony, but there’s another festive treat that can lead to unwanted winter padding: the cocktail. It’s officially party season, and if you’re trying to keep it healthy—or at least healthier—while you celebrate, selecting holiday cocktails can be stressful. In fact, cocktail confusion is one of our clients’ biggest complaints: They tell us that they know to stay away from those fruity, sugary mixed drinks, but other alcoholic options trip them up.

Follow these tips to get in the, um, spirit without undoing all those reps and runs:

Have a pre party. Whether this first “party” is at your house, the office, or in the car on the way to your seasonal soiree, its purpose is the same: to fuel up for the main event. If you show up to a party with an empty stomach, you’ll feel the alcohol faster, which means you’ll end up drinking more and likely eating more as well—thank you, missing inhibitions! Our favorite pre-party options: veggies and tea. Tea is warm and soothing, and will take the edge off your hunger. It also contains an amino acid called theanine, which has been shown to produce a mental calmness and alertness that can help you make rational decisions (like declining your fourth pig in a blanket) at the party. Meanwhile, munching on veggies will fill you up with fiber, so the cocktails won’t hit your system as quickly.

Know your mixers. Classic cocktails like Rum and Coke, Gin and Tonic, and Vodka Cranberry may seem harmless, but they all have one problem in common: their mixers are comprised mostly of sugar. Most of the calories in alcoholic beverages come from the alcohol itself, so no need to jack up your drink’s calorie count with added sugars. Try these solutions for smarter spirits:

  • Use seltzer, not tonic, as a base for your low-cal cocktail. It’s calorie-free and the bubbles make for a fun, festive drink. You can also add healthy garnishes so you don’t miss out on flavor. Try fresh mint leaves or wedges of orange, lemon, or lime.
  • Opt for light cranberry juice, which is usually just a watered-down version of the classic, to get a similar flavor with fewer calories.
  • Order your drink on the rocks. The ice takes up space that would otherwise be filled with liquid calories.
  • If you prefer standard fruit juice, request just a small splash of your favorite variety along with some seltzer.

Be aware of portion inflation. Gone are the days when bartenders served a standard 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or a mere 1.5 ounces (a shot) of liquor. Today’s glasses are often super-sized, which means two goblets of vino may equal nearly half a bottle! Bartenders can also be heavy handed, serving you up to 3 ounces of alcohol in your mixed drink, which means you’re downing about 200 calories of booze instead of 100. Your calorie-saving solution? Count each alcoholic drink as two servings. So, if you’re allowing yourself to splurge one night with four cocktails, you’d be wise to draw the line at two.

And if you do end up overdoing the beverages (or the food!) this season, check out The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure which contains a 10-Day Weight Loss Jumpstart and Detox Plan to flush toxins, halt holiday overeating, and get you back on your healthy track fast.

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse “Lyssie” Lakatos—otherwise known as the Nutrition Twins—are registered dietitians, certified personal trainers, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty.

For more healthy eating tips, visit nutritiontwins.com.

Edamame Hummus

For more nutrition guidance and a ‘get healthy’ plan, please check out the “The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure

Published on Fitbie on December 9, 2013

 

Are You Eating Enough Protein?

As seen on December 3rd, 2013 on:

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written by The Nutrition Twins,

 

If you’re like many women, your breakfast and lunch tend to be light and you rake in most of your protein at dinner via lean options like chicken or fish. On paper that sounds like a healthy diet plan, but it turns out that loading most of your protein into one sitting may not be getting you the results you’re after.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that the ideal protein intake for building lean muscle is about 30 grams per meal. Translation: If you aspire to a svelte body like, say, Jessica Biel’s, but feel like your hard work isn’t yielding the sculpted muscle tone you deserve, you may need to amp up your protein throughout the day.

If any of these typical breakfasts and lunches resemble yours, you’re clocking in at anywhere from 12-20 grams of protein per meal and selling your muscles short:

Breakfast

  • A bowl of oatmeal (1 cup), made with skim milk (1/2 cup), a handful of blueberries, and slivered almonds (4 Tbsp) = 12 grams
  • Nonfat Latte (Starbuck’s Tall) and a fruit parfait = 13 grams

Lunch

  • A salad with corn, artichokes, beets, feta cheese (1/4 cup) and chickpeas (1/4 cup) = 14 grams of protein
  • A peanut butter (2 Tbsp) & jelly sandwich = 12 grams
  • A bowl of minestrone (2 cups) and a slice of grain bread = 20 grams
  • A veggie burger on a whole grain bun and a side salad = 15 grams
  • A California roll (8 pieces), salad with ginger dressing, and 2 steamed shrimp dumplings = 18 grams

So, how can you bump up your protein without necessarily having to swallow more meat? Just add any of the options below to each of your meals, and you’ll increase your plate’s protein content by as many as 10-20 grams.

Greek Yogurt. It packs nearly twice the protein as regular yogurt, so just 5 ounces will boost your intake by 13-18 grams. Just pop open the container and enjoy the creamy snack right along with any of your favorite breakfast or lunch options.

Eggs. They’re one of the simplest ways to pack in protein in the morning. Any style will do, but scrambled and hardboiled are especially quick and easy. Two whole eggs have 150 calories and 14 grams of protein; 4 egg whites have 60 calories and the same 14 grams protein.

Tofu, chicken, and beans. Most salad shops dole out quarter-cup scoops of their ingredients, making it tough to get adequate protein, so just ask for more than one scoop of your favorite protein sources. And don’t assume that cheese will do the job! The majority of the calories in most full-fat cheeses come from fat, not protein.

Protein shakes. They’re tasty and deliver sustained nutrition and energy, making them an ideal on-the-go snack or light meal. You can make your own blend  or buy a healthy ready-made option like Svelte. All the flavors pack 11 grams of protein and 5 grams of belly-filling fiber, plus they’re gluten-free and use non-GMO soymilk.*

Roasted soy nuts. Munch on 1/2 cup for a snack or toss them on your salad and you’ll boost your protein intake by 17 grams with just 200 calories.

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse “Lyssie” Lakatos—otherwise known as the Nutrition Twins—are registered dietitians, certified personal trainers, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty.

*The Nutrition Twins work with Svelte to help people get more protein in their diet.

For more healthy eating tips, visit nutritiontwins.com.

Edamame Hummus

For more nutrition guidance and a ‘get healthy’ plan, please check out the “The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure

Published on Fitbie on December 3, 2013

 

5 Things Weight Loss Winners Know

As seen on November 18th, 2013 on:

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written by The Nutrition Twins,

 

Doctors and dieticians can provide important facts about shedding fat—what to eat, what not to eat, how often to work out—but if you really want to know the most effective ways to lose weight, your best bet is to go straight to the source: those rare individuals who have managed to drop significant pounds while avoiding the dreaded regain.

Below are the top 5 knowledge nuggets shared by our most successful clients. Embrace their weight-loss wisdom, and you’ll be well on your way to a smaller jean size.

1. The time is now. Plenty of clichés speak to the importance of taking action—“carpe diem,” “there’s no time like the present,” “don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today”—and with good reason. Throughout our careers as trainers and nutritionists, we’ve seen firsthand how ditching the I’ll-start-my-new-diet-on-Monday attitude is key for long-term weight loss. If you’re truly ready to make a change, do it right away—not tomorrow, not on the first of the month, and not on New Year’s Day. Our tip: circle today’s date on your calendar and start taking the steps to make the change happen immediately.

2. There’s no such thing as perfect. Slipups are part of any worthwhile journey, and weight loss is no exception. Some days, your get-fit plans will go smoothly and you’ll effortlessly do everything “right,” while other days you’ll face temptations and obstacles, and, yes, inevitably make some mistakes. But that’s a good thing! If you’re making mistakes, you’re trying, and if you’re trying, you’re learning. Weight-loss winners don’t beat themselves up. They pick right back up where they left off at their next meal.

3. The small stuff is the big stuff. People who successfully drop pounds tend to track their progress, but we’re not just talking about stepping on the scale. “Little things” like walking up a few flights of stairs without getting winded, bringing your belt in an extra notch, or noticing an improved complexion after eating and sleeping well for several months are what losing weight is all about: good health. Remember to reward yourself for the small achievements, as well as the large ones.

4. You’re only as healthy as the company you keep. How much easier is it to hit the gym after work when your friend offers to go with you, as opposed to begging you to bag on your workout and hit happy hour instead? Surrounding yourself with people who are either already living a healthy lifestyle or working towards that goal can play a major role in helping you achieve your own goals. Find like-minded people who support your healthy lifestyle: Join a running club, find a hiking meet-up, or take cooking classes.

5. Food is AWESOME. You don’t need to give up your love for food to be slim! Successful weight losers ditch “diet” foods in favor of whole foods, which provide tons of flavor, along with healthy nutrients. “For lasting weight loss, it’s really important to focus on clean and natural foods. Cut out processed and packaged foods and fill your body with what it needs most: real, nutrient-rich foods. Eat with the season and you can’t go wrong,” says weight-loss expert and dietitian Heather K. Jones. Right now we’re loving these seasonal picks:

California Grapes

In season through January, grapes are packed full of important nutrients like polyphenols, an antioxidant that’s been shown to promote overall health. Check out Heather’s delicious and healthy California Grape and Avocado Salad here.

Pumpkins

With just 40 calories, a whopping 5 grams of fiber, and a hefty dose of beta carotene in every half-cup serving, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin. And it’s not just for the sweet stuff, either. Try out this delicious savory pumpkin pizza to get your fill!

Apples

Fall’s signature fruits are loaded with flavonoids and fiber, and their phytonutrients and antioxidants have been linked with a reduced risk for cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Our homemade apple butter is our go-to apple recipe.

Up Next: Banish Binges for Good

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse “Lyssie” Lakatos—otherwise known as the Nutrition Twins—are registered dietitians, certified personal trainers, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty

For more healthy eating tips, visit nutritiontwins.com.

Edamame Hummus

For more nutrition guidance and a ‘get healthy’ plan, please check out the “The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure

Published on Fitbie on November 18, 2013

 

The Plank

Have you ever noticed that after doing ab exercises your stomach actually pouches out more? That’s because people often do exercises incorrectly and the muscle builds up under the fat and pouches out! Not with this exercise! Meet your new, flatter tummy maker—AKA THE PLANK!


THE PLANK—quite possibly the most effective ab exercise! No reason to fear the plank, it will make you stronger!

How to:

1. A plank can be done on the floor, but using a mat may be more comfortable.

2. Lay down on your belly.

3. Lift your upper body & support yourself with your forearms.

  • Elbows should be bent at 90 degrees.

4. Lift your lower body by supporting yourself with your toes and forearms.

5. Your body should be straight like a board from head to toe—like a plank!

  • Be careful not to curve your back up or down (don’t let your butt sag to the floor or bend up).

6. Engage your core (squeeze your abs tight).

7. Hold for 30 seconds.

  • Try 1 minute if you’re feeling brave!

8. Repeat 3 times.

  • Rest 30 seconds to 1 minute in-between.

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Nutrition Twins Fitbie: What Do Nutritionists Do to Eat Smarter During Holiday Travel?

fitbie_logo copy fitbie December 26, 2012 | By The Nutrition Twins

 

Every time we return from traveling our clients ask us what we do to prevent weight gain on the road. First, let us tell you, it doesn’t’ come easy for us either.  We have to plan, and it takes work!  After all, if get stuck at the airport without backup food not, your best option is often burger and fries.
As registered dietitians and personal trainers, we do have a little extra motivation to keep the weight off (if we come back 10 pounds heavier after every trip, it wouldn’t be good for our practice), but these strategies can work for anybody.  Here’s what we do when we travel.

1. We cut red peppers into strips and put them into Ziploc bags and pack pistachios to take with us for our travel day 
Red peppers are sweet, crunchy and satisfying. They’re loaded with fiber and water, so they fill your stomach. Pistachios are another ideal snack. Not only are they easy to transport, but they also have got both fiber and protein, which will squash your cravings for something savory and crunchy without compromising your healthy eating goals. You can eat 30 of them for 100 calories.

Eating a snack is necessary because, without it, we are hungry when we reach our destination. A snack takes the edge off hunger so we don’t eat a bag of chips or a candy bar (or whatever tempts us) while we’re waiting for dinner. In fact, just this past weekend on her way to South Beach Tammy was able to pass up candy her husband picked up at the airport for later for the trip, because she knew she was prepared with her peppers and pistachios.

2. If we’re traveling for more than 3 hours, we pack a meal
We make sure to include a high-fiber carbohydrate, like fruit and veggies or beans, for energy, and then a lean protein to keep us feeling satisfied and to extend the energy boost of the carbohydrate.  Often we bring big salads with veggies, poultry, and a piece of fruit. We have packed tuna or salmon (in the seal-pack pouch before), but of course this is a meal we have when we don’t plan to eat it on the plane next to other passengers.  After all, we’re not in the business of creating enemies.

3. We pack apples for breakfast
Even if we have a hard time finding healthy food, we have something. Plus, it’s usually easy to find a string cheese, yogurt, or hardboiled egg to accompany the fruit. Just bring one or two so that you have them for the first day, and get more while you are at your destination.

4. We bring sneakers
Although we make it our priority to exercise (again, it’s our job!), even if you don’t exercise, you can at least burn some extra calories walking around your vacation spot. We try to do pushups and sit-ups in our hotel room if there is no fitness center.

What do you do to keep the extra pounds from following you back from the airport?

For more like this you may like:

Nutrition Twins Fitbie: 3 Breakfasts to Get you Back on Track After a Big Splurge

Nutrition Twins Fitbie: In Search of a Weight Loss Magic Bullet: Could Raspberry Ketones Be the Answer?

For a ‘Get Healthy’ Guide Check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure