Four Fit Facts: Tips to Stay Lean, Healthy and Geared for Performance

  1. High fiber intake = Lower fat storage

    •  You’re standing in the cafeteria dining hall at the hot cereal counter and you are presented with this dilemma: steel cut oatmeal or cinnamon-flavored grits?

      •  Consider the following: Oatmeal is digested and absorbed at a slower rate because of its high fiber content. Our gastrointestinal tracts lack the enzymes needed to breakdown fiber and for the most part, it passes right through us.  As a result, this carbohydrate is relatively calorie-less, making it a perfect addition for those looking for ways to decrease caloric intake. Fiber also has some neat fat-relinquishing properties.  When fat and fiber are combined together in a meal, digestion of the fat decreases, while fat excretion increases.  Earlier this year, researchers in Denmark showed that flaxseed intake (a high fiber source) was linked to increased fecal fat excretion, as well as decreased energy intake.  Fiber is thought to bind fat in the intestines, carrying it out of the body before it can be absorbed.  Additionally, insulin (aka the carbohydrate responder), the hormone involved in regulating the amount of fat deposited in the tissues, responds poorly to fiber. Compared to the low fiber content of grits, ingestion of steel cut oatmeal decreases the insulin that signals for fat deposition. Staying lean means adding fiber-rich foods to your diet. This practice can result in lowering your intake of unwanted fat from your meal and also, keeps insulin levels from sky-rocketing

          1. Kashi Go Lean cereal over Frosted Flakes

          2. Whole Wheat Penne Pasta over White Pasta

          3. Tri-color Quinoa over Enriched Rice

          4. 12- Grain Arnold’s Bread over Wheat Bagel

  2. Still eating when you’re full? Increase your protein and  healthy fat intake.

    • Cholecystokinin (CCK) is an effective satiety hormone that sends signals to your brain to indicate that you’re full and should wait longer to eat again.  This hormone is released in the small intestine in the presence of fats and proteins. The feeling of fullness provided by CCK helps to limit meal size.  If you find yourself eating without any regard for the wall of connective tissue that’s keeping your stomach from bursting then consider changing your meal choices.  Lean protein sources, such as turkey breast, ground chicken and halibut, as well as healthy fats, like olive oil or avocado, may be a helpful solution to curbing your appetite and keeping you satisfied.

  3. Antibiotics causing you discomfort? Consider eating non–fat Greek yogurt.

    • Taking antibiotics can cause disruptions in your healthy bacterial balance.  Healthy bacteria are responsible for a number of beneficial digestive functions. This includes reducing harmful bacteria and yeast in the gut, decreasing inflammation, fighting cancer and boosting your immune system.  Healthy bacteria are also thought to prevent allergies. Consuming pre-biotics, such as artichokes, garlic, raw oats and onions and pro-biotics such as yogurt may improve your digestive function. Researchers have demonstrated that probiotics may be beneficial for those with a lactose allergy. The benefits may be attributed to the presence of a certain bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus. This bacteria is important in the chemical breakdown of certain dairy foods.  For those of you, who are lactose-intolerant, try a cup of non-fat Chobani yogurt.

  4. Feel hungry all day? Increase your intake of lean protein

    • CCK isn’t the only chemical messenger messing around with your brain and food intake.  Ghrelin (aka the hunger hormone) is released by the stomach in response to low food intake or fasting. This hormone is generally at its highest during those long days at work when you’re sitting at your 2pm meeting, wishing you hadn’t hit the snooze button instead of preparing your breakfast, snack and lunch. It generally decreases about 20 minutes after the 3pm post-meeting splurge.  When battling against the hunger hormone, consider increasing your lean protein intake.  Australian Researchers have demonstrated that proteins may not only curb your appetite better than carbohydrates, but may also result in longer periods of ghrelin suppression. This simple addition may translate to fewer appearances of that voracious appetite. Controlling hunger urges can translate to improvements in performance through positive changes in body composition.

Bottom Line:

 When you wake up tomorrow morning, skip the snooze button and head straight to the kitchen to prepare your stay-lean meals.  When putting your meals together, remember the following: adding a lean source of protein and a healthy fat may keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day. And don’t forget including high fiber carbs in your diet will result in less fat deposition, increasing your chances of staying lean.

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