Sweet potatoes have more sugar and around the same number of calories as russet potatoes. So why are sweet potatoes marketed as the healthier option? The answer is glycemic index (GI).
Foods like russet potatoes, white rice and flour, and oatmeal are often exiled by the health-conscious because of their high glycemic index. The term is thrown around on every fitness blog and forum, but what does it actually mean?
What is glycemic index?
Glycemic index is a measurement of how much a carbohydrate-rich food spikes your blood glucose (sugar) level. It also measures how fast glucose is released in your body. The greater the GI, the greater the spike. According to Healthline, “chronic high blood sugar increases the likelihood of serious diabetes complications like heart disease, blindness, neuropathy, and kidney failure.”
Therefore, it’s important to incorporate more low GI foods into a healthy diet. But that doesn’t mean cutting out carbohydrates altogether, since your body prefers glucose for energy. It just means being aware of the inconspicuous effects certain foods have on your body. When created, The low-GI diet was intended for diabetics. However, several other communities have adopted the lifestyle. It’s proven successful in managing blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics, according to Diabetes UK.
Why follow a low glycemic index diet?
Eating low glycemic foods can benefit anyone, not just diabetics. Unless you’re keto, carbohydrates are likely a major part of your diet. When choosing which carbohydrates to fuel yourself with, look at glycemic index databases online to find information beyond the nutrition label.
Some popular benefits of the diet are weight loss and maintenance. Not only do low GI foods regulate blood sugar, but they metabolize slower. Not only do insulin spikes from high GI foods hurt your health in the long run, the make you hungry in the short run. Therefore, those spikes lead to more calories consumed, and more weight gained. Foods with low glycemic indexes usually fall under complex carbohydrates, which are carbs that take more time to become sugar in your body. Complex carbs don’t have the drastic effect that simple carbs (high GI foods) do.
Weight loss isn’t the only thing to gain from this popular diet. With a few simple swaps to your carbs, here are some other low GI benefits, according to the Glycemic Index Foundation:
- Improve heart health
- Sustained energy levels
- Heightened mental performance
- Elevated sports performance
- Acne reduction
- Reduce breast cancer risk
What foods have a low glycemic index?
The many delicious foods you’re already eating that have a low glycemic index might surprise you. The GI scale ranges from 1-100: 1-55 being low, 56-69 being medium, and 70-100 being high. Keep in mind that amount, cooking method, fiber, and processing all affect glycemic index. Here’s how some of ingredients stack up:
- Sweet Potato
- Rolled oats
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
- White bread
- Rice cakes
- Instant oatmeal
- Russet potatoes
- White rice
At Thrive Fitness, we help educate our members on the relationship between diet and exercise. The beauty of a low GI diet is that it can compliment almost any other nutritional preference. With Atlanta Meal Prep and our Holistic Nutrition coaches on-site, you can accomplish your goals both in and outside the gym. When you combine a healthy diet with one of Thrive Fitness’ personal trainers, you can live the healthy lifestyle that will benefit you for years to come. To get started today, email email@example.com.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – unless you’re following intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting has gained popularity throughout pretty much every diet clan – especially the ketogenic diet community. Fasting may not sound attractive for snacking enthusiasts or fans of many small meals a day. Some fasting protocols are more extreme than others, but research suggests that it’s more sustainable and filling than you may think. If you’re opposed skipping out on meals – some research may make you think otherwise.
What is intermittent fasting?
Although there are several variations, the premise of them all is all the same: spend less time eating and more time not eating. For weight loss, research has shown that intermittent fasting can be a long-term, effective way of sustaining a healthy lifestyle. The typical fast lasts arounds 14-16 hours with an eating window of 8-10 hours. This version seems to be a fan favorite. There are other versions that have been slower to fame – like the ‘every-other-day’ fast and the ‘25/115’ fast. The ‘every-other-day’ fast is self-explanatory, while the ‘25/115’ consists of eating 25 percent of your calorie needs one day, and eating 115 of your calorie needs the next. Using either means, you significantly reduce the total amount of calories during the week.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Many weight loss success stories have accredited intermittent fasting. However, research suggests that intermittent fasting can help you do more than lose weight. Here’s a sample of benefits you may experience while fasting:
- It’s easy. Little meals means little cooking. Its simple structure is easy to follow and is applicable to every diet preference. Intermittent fasting is also sustainable; The Atlantic reports that 80-90 people are able to stick with the plan long-term.
- Weight loss. Intermittent fasting has obvious benefits for weight loss, since you’re consuming significantly less calories in the long run. Besides reducing calories, this eating pattern works for weight loss because it boosts your metabolic rate, according to Healthline.
- Disease prevention. Intermittent fasting isn’t a cure for anything, but has showed promising results in prevention. By reducing blood sugar levels, intermittent fasting has protected people against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It has also been linked to preventing/delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer.
Brain function. Studies show that intermittent fasting can gradually improve cognitive function. This includes improved learning and memory and decreased oxidative stress. That’s why fasting has been growing in popularity as a treatment for the obesity epidemic.
- Prolonged lifespan. This research is fairly recent and still in progress – but so far, the results have are positive among several species, Business Insider reported. The fresh research on humans so far has also been successful. The results are most likely because of the dips in bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Increased endurance. Intermittent fasting shifts your body’s fuel source from carbohydrates to stored fats – so basically ketosis. The fuel preference reduced their respiratory exchange ratio, or “the ratio of CO2 produced to O2 consumed,” according to Medical News Today. In other words, intermittent fasting makes for more efficient exercise.
Should I try intermittent fasting?
This tactic works for many, but it may not be your best choice. When it comes to losing weight or building muscle, they key factor is building sustainable habits. At Thrive Fitness, we believe that a well-balanced diet is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle along with an active lifestyle. Any diet change should be made under a nutrition expert’s guidance. That’s why we have Holistic Health and Nutrition Coaches at your disposal. Contact Thrive Fitness Atlanta to talk about which diet suits your lifestyle today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bacon, steak, avocado, repeat. That’s a snapshot of the keto diet (short for ketogenic diet), the latest weight loss trend. The diet is high in saturated fats and low in carbs. That’s right – instead of a bowl of fruit and oatmeal in the morning, the “keto” tribe suggests whole eggs, bacon, and “bullet-proof coffee” (i.e. 1 cup of coffee with 1 Tablespoon coconut oil and 1 Tablespoon butter).
Intuitively, your first instinct in the morning probably not to throw butter and oil in your coffee for weight loss – but some research shows otherwise. While many tout the effectiveness of the Keto Diet, it ranked last on U.S. News’ list for Best Diets for Healthy Eating. So what’s the verdict?
First, let’s look at what it is.
What is keto?
It’s short for ketogenic, which is named after the distinguishing process of the diet, called ketosis. On this diet, you reduce your caloric intake and essentially deprive your body of carbohydrates with an intake of around 20-25 grams daily (the same amount of carbohydrates in one apple). Carbohydrates are converted into glucose – which your body uses as its primary energy source, completely dismissing stored fats. When your body can’t produce glucose, it produces ketones – which break down fats as energy. Ketosis will usually begin two to four days after maintaining the 20-25 grams of carbohydrates (note: values may vary).
Keto helps you lose weight – just like any other diet that allows a calorie deficit. The low-carb, high-fat diet has been shown to shed more body weight over the course of 12 months than a low-fat diet alone. The well-known Atkins diet, which similarly restricts carbohydrates, also wins the match in terms of weight loss when squaring up to three other lesser-known high-carb diets: Ornish, Zone, and LEARN.
On a wellness note, children who have epilepsy have responded well to the ketogenic diet, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information – because of the switch of energy sources. Some, but less evidence has also showed uplifting results in patients with Parkinson’s, ALS, and Alzheimer’s.
If you’re considering a keto diet for short term rapid weight loss, we won’t sugarcoat it – it’s extreme, (which makes it hard to follow). The extent of “long-term” research on the diet only goes up to about a year – it’s not sustainable for most people. Another con is the fact that as soon as carbs show up to the party again (and eventually, they will), you’ll spike in water weight. Some studies have also shown that the diet, when practiced for longer terms, may promote tumor growth.
Some of the possible temporary side effects from rapid weight loss associated with the Keto Diet are lethargy, flu-like symptoms, constipation, excessive cravings, bad breath and leg cramps.
Weight loss for the long run
Slow and steady wins the race. Since many specialized diets can lead to weight fluctuations later, you may opt to find a more sustainable program. The nutritionists at Thrive Fitness can advise you on the pros and cons of specialty diets vs. a diet comprised of proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
With balanced nutrition, you’ll enjoy improved health and immunity, natural energy, and sustainable weight loss. (You may even be able to enjoy a small cheat meal here or there that won’t wreak havoc on your progress).
The decision to put certain foods in your body should not be taken lightly – that’s why Thrive Fitness offers nutritional coaches to create the perfect program for you. To find out which one of the hundreds of diets out there are best for you, contact Thrive Fitness today or email email@example.com.
Transformations can’t and won’t happen overnight. Instead, weight loss transformations are the product of little victories conquered over weeks, months, and years.
Setting goals is the easy part – sticking to them is the hard part. Just ask any resolutioner.
The solution is imagining S.M.A.R.T. goals. To nail your dream #TransformationTuesday post, your weight loss goals should follow these simple, but underestimated criteria:
Specific. Everyone wants to get shredded, but what steps are you taking to get there? Without specific goals in mind, you’re bound to grow frustrated not from a lack of progress – but from a lack of certainty. You can’t build a house without a blueprint. Visualize your start and finish line – and fill in the blanks with specific steps. This can be creating a meal plan you enjoy or attending two training sessions a week.
- Measurable. Quantify – and qualify – your goal. The scale can be a tremendous tool, but it can often be misleading. Those three pounds you literally gained overnight does not equate to three pounds of fat. Taking pictures of yourself as you tread along your journey can also be a useful tool. Pictures offer you a valuable glimpse of how your body is changing. Tape measures are also a useful tool that can quantify your weight loss even when the scale seems deceiving.
Achievable. Some goals are simply unattainable – and that’s okay. If your goal is to hit the gym seven days a week for five hours, your body won’t appreciate you very much. Sustainability and attainability go hand-in-hand. When you go on someone else’s extreme diet or rigorous workout plan, add your own modifications so that you’re not exhausted after three days. By all means, don’t pick the lowest-hanging fruit – but make sure the fruit is still on the tree.
Results-driven. Make sure your goals are yielding results. If they’re not, it’s time to tweak them. If your cardio-only goal isn’t giving you the transformation results you want, try adding some weightlifting into the mix. If your diet isn’t giving you the results you want either, shock your body and switch it up. Fitness is all about trial-and-error when it comes to finding what gives you results.
- Time-bound. Performance under pressure is a game-changer. Try adding a sense of urgency to your goal by applying a reasonable time-frame. Make a timeline – losing half a pound per week is much less of a burden than ten pounds per day. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
If you’ve set a goal for yourself, congratulations! You’re already halfway there. The next step is to tweak your goal to make it S.M.A.R.T. Your body transformation starts with transforming your goal.
The elite training and nutrition team at Thrive Fitness are able to guide you towards creating the right goals. We offer one-on-one and small group training to provide the optimal training environment. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s face it, eating healthy can be a challenge in our daily busy lives, especially if you’re a working parent, busy executive, or have serious weight loss or training goals. When you’re on the move, your diet shouldn’t suffer. It’s time to get on point with your nutrition!
This spring we’re happy to announce Atlanta Meal Prep now at Thrive Fitness! It’s the perfect solution, whether you seek to lose weight, eat healthier, or to give your body the serious nutrition it needs.
If you’ve never tried healthy meal services, (and even if you have), you’re in for a real treat! Atlanta Meal Prep prepares delicious gourmet dishes that are customized for your unique dietary needs using only the freshest ingredients. Choose from a variety of favorite dishes and inspired recipes, each perfectly balanced with lean proteins, crisp greens, and healthy carbs and just the right count of calories, macros, sodium, sugars and healthy fats.
Say goodbye to ingredients you can’t pronounce, preservatives, artificial flavors, sweeteners and colors. Say hello to healthy!
Atlanta Meal Prep is perfect for:
- Transformations (weight loss)
- Building muscle
- Gaining healthy weight (for sport or health reasons)
They also prepare custom meals for individuals with dietary considerations including lactose-free, gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian diets or those who suffer from Chron’s / Colitis, digestive sensitivities and ailments. Visit their website to choose your number of meals from a delectable assortment of dishes including: Buffalo Shredded Chicken Salad (paleo), Cheesy Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna (vegetarian), Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp & Veggie Hot Pot, Nigeria Jollof Rice (vegan) and many more.
Thrive Fitness also has an on-staff certified nutritionist who, along with your trainer, can help guide you to understanding your nutritional needs and create your very own perfect recipe of diet and exercise.
Learn more about Atlanta Meal Prep at www.atlantamealprep.com or call (404) 805-4726. To make the most out of every meal, we invite you to meet with Thrive Fitness’ nutritionists and trainers to put together a smart plan for your optimal health & fitness. Call us at 404-431-2639 today.
Have you heard that you’re supposed to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day? What about the one where you take your weight, divide it in half, and that’s how many ounces of H2O you’re supposed to get? Or what about the idea that you don’t need to drink water because you get enough from your food?
The truth is: optimal water consumption varies for everybody.
Hydration recommendations can be a confusing land to navigate. That’s because it’s not as simple as one baseline suggestion for everyone. The amount of water you need to drink in a day depends on your weight, sex, activity level, diet, and even where you live.
The Institute of Medicine has determined that for an average-sized healthy man living in a temperate climate with a moderate activity expenditure has an Adequate Intake (AI) level of fluid of about 3 liters per day (it’s 2.2 liters for women).
So, what does that mean in English?
Well, if you’re a guy, who’s a healthy weight, does an average amount of exercise, and lives in a mild to moderate climate, you need a minimum of three liters of total fluid in a day. And fluid means more than just straight up tap water. Juices, milk, and even coffee can count to your total. But really, plain water is your best choice because it’s calorie free, doesn’t spike your blood sugar, add calories and doesn’t have other chemicals that affect your body (think: caffeine).
So what if you aren’t an average-sized person living in an average climate with average energy expenditure? Well, chances are, you need even more water.
Here are a few factors that might up your need:
- Exercise. Love a good sweat session? If so, you need to be drinking more water to replace that sweat. Keep in mind that you not only lose water, but also electrolytes during heavy exercise. Sports replacement drinks (Try natural dissolvable tablets without added sugar) are a great way to keep your electrolyte balance intact.
- Climate and altitude. Where you live can greatly impact how much water you need. If you live in a particularly hot and humid part of the world, you’ll need to stay hydrated more than someone that lives in a cooler climate. Live up in the mountains? High altitude can trigger symptoms of dehydration. Folks who live in high altitude areas need to drink more than the standard AI.
- Health conditions. If you’re feeling under the weather, you’ll need to be downing more water than usual to keep your body in good condition to get healthy. It’s especially important to drink more than the AI if you have a fever or diarrhea.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Not only are you eating for two, but you’re also hydrating for two. It’s important for pregnant and breastfeeding women to drink more than the AI level of fluid.
Great, but really, how much water should I drink?
If all of this sounds too complicated, you’re in luck, because unless you have a medical condition that otherwise prevents it, your body gives you all the tools you need to determine your proper hydration levels. If you’re drinking enough during the day to rarely feel thirsty, you are in good shape. Also, check in the bathroom, if your urine is colorless or very pale yellow, you’re on the right path. Sometimes, just keeping an eye on your own body and how you feel is better than any recommendation you could read from even the most reliable source.
The elite training and nutrition team at Thrive Fitness are able to guide you through the maze of proper training, nutrition, hydration and recovery. We offer one-on-one and small group training to provide the optimal training environment for you. Email us today at email@example.com.
Junk Food Swaps
Swap these 14 common junk foods for our recommended healthier (great tasting) alternatives.
These substitute options can help you achieve your desired body weight, and maintain your health for a more positive lifestyle choice.
White potatoes and sweet potatoes have similar nutrition profiles except for sweet potatoes have more vitamins A & C. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic load and glycemic index than regular potatoes (meaning, your blood sugar won’t rise as high when you eat a sweet potato compared to a white potato).
Chips > > Veggies & Dip
Chips are typically high in fat, calories, and salt, which can raise the risk of weight gain and obesity. Eating healthy snacks like veggies and dip will offer you full nutritional benefits in between meal times.
Sports Drinks > > Coconut Water
Because coconut water is high in potassium, and such a great electrolyte replacement, it has even been used for IV hydration in certain emergency situations. Some of the electrolytes found in coconut water, specifically calcium and magnesium, may help with stress and muscle tension. Many of us are missing these critical minerals in our diets, making stress management even more challenging.
Cacao is chocolate’s natural superfood source. Unlike the processed milk chocolate in the aisle, raw and organic cacao is rich in antioxidants and fiber and has zero sugar. Carob is also another chocolate substitute, originating from the carob tree pods and has a creamy taste. Or if you must eat chocolate- eat dark chocolate for those health benefits!
Forget about gelatins and corn fructose syrups – dried fruit is the way to go! Mix it up with a trail mix, or simply enjoy the natural sugar from fresh fruit. Try them all, mix your favorites, and create your own ziplock bags to take with you on the go! Read the label to ensure your dried fruit is free of added sweeteners and artificial ingredients.
Fried Chicken > > Grilled Chicken
Fried foods are unhealthy because they tend to be very high in fat and calories. But, deep frying also robs food of nutrients. Swap your fried chicken choice for grilled chicken instead. Sprinkle with your favorite herbs or a dry rub for mouthwatering flavor!
Soda > > Sparkling Water
Swapping those notoriously sugary carbonated drinks for bubbly aqua means you don’t have to give up the fizz and flavor, especially when the alternatives have fewer artificial ingredients, zero calories, and just as many bubbles.
Treat yourself to some guilt-free ice cream substitutes that taste just as good and are such a healthier alternative. Sorbet is made from water and fruit puree or juice. It contains no milk, cream or eggs- making this a winner in our book. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with a frozen yogurt as long as you don’t go overboard with toppings!
Bagels > > Crackers
If you are looking for calories and carbs, then a bagel is the snack you need. For something just as satisfying, try substituting your bagel for a multi-grain cracker, saltine cracker, or wheat thins. You can still top it with your favorites, and you’ve just saved yourself up to 350 calories.
Sour Cream, or Cream Cheese > > Greek Yoghurt
Greek yogurt is a protein and probiotic-packed alternative, that makes an equally tasty ingredient in dressings, dips, and sauces. Or dollop this thick and tangy swap onto baked potatoes, tacos, and chili for a healthy dose of vitamin D12, calcium, and potassium.
Pizza is a convenient food weakness for many! But it is quicker to make your own homemade tortilla pizzas, or stuffed Portobello mushrooms. Swap that doughy pizza base for a tortilla or mushroom instead, and top it with your favorite toppings (and try to be moderate with the cheese)!
If you’re craving carbs and tempted to whip up mashed potatoes, reach for this equally hearty (and more vitamin-packed) substitute, which can be quickly steamed and mashed. Add almond milk, grass-fed butter, and sea salt to complete the dish.
Spaghetti > > Squash or Zucchini Noodles
If Italian comfort food is your culinary weakness, try substituting spaghetti pasta for squash or spiralized zucchini. The benefits- you’ll create a tasty low-carb, veg-heavy “pasta” dish that’s full of vitamins, minerals and filling fiber.
Ketchup > > Salsa
Ketchup may sound healthy with the primary ingredient being tomatoes, but the sugar content is ridiculously high! Homemade ketchup is easy enough to make, but if you are out and about, then substitute that ketchup for salsa instead.
Looking for sound diet and nutritional advice? Contact Thrive Fitness for BMI testing or to meet with our onsite nutritionist to learn about your body’s needs for optimal wellness. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have any other suggestions you would recommend? We’d love to hear them!
Comment below and let us know your favorite junk food swaps!