Archive for September, 2012

What’s the Best Protein Source?

I just got back from a trip to NJ with Ella.

I was there speaking.  She came with me, stayed with my parents, and then when I was done each day I’d go and hang with them, have dinner and head back to my hotel.

It was a blast.  She had fun with her grandparents.

I got to play with some of my childhood toys (helloooo, WWF Wrestlers circa 1985).

I digress.

On the way back from our NJ solo mission — well, of course we had one of her babies with us that I got to cart around the airport — we were eating in the airport and I overheard a person at the table next to us telling the person he was with about the BEST protein source out there.  I wasn’t paying attention, until I heard this statement, then from what I gather he was talking about a MLM company and trying to get the other person involved.

We sat there enjoying our buffet (hint, if you have a long layover in the Philly airport, head over to the Marriott that’s attached – it’s much more comfortable, cleaner than the airport (particularly the restrooms) and it’s good to get out of the hustle and bustle, particularly when you have a 3 year old in tow.

Anyhow, we’re at the restaurant and Ella and I were sharing the buffet.

I had an omelet, some fruit, smoke salmon and oatmeal.

Ella has tried and likes smoke salmon, so asked to have some again …

… but then that, with the conversation to our left, got me thinking.

What IS the best source of protein?

Eggs are often touted as such.  Of course you can’t go wrong with wild salmon.  Beef, chicken, turkey, etc.

But let’s take a step back for a minute.

All proteins are made up of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.  Some proteins — like animal based protein — have a nice variety of all essential amino acids and are called "complete proteins." Plant proteins are usually missing one or more amino acids and are called "incomplete proteins."

When I first started school it was taught that incomplete proteins had to be eaten at the same meal to "count" – more recently, people realized the timing didn’t matter as much as the overall variety within each day.

The key is that you are eating a variety of different sources; each is unique and has advantages.

Back to the point about eggs.  Eggs are in fact a fantastic source of complete protein.  They’re also one of the cheapest forms of protein, gram for gram, giving you the most bang for your buck.

We’ve written a lot about the health benefits of eggs lately.  Eat whole eggs regularly and enjoy them.

The other message we’ve been saying for awhile when it comes to different protein choices is, "The less legs the better."

In other words, fish is fantastic (with no legs), then chicken and turkey, followed by beef and pork.  Sure, all are great and all have different nutrient profiles, but the ones with less legs are traditionally a bit leaner.  That’s a good thing.

And tossing in some vegetarian based proteins throughout the week is smart, too.

Beans
Nuts
Tofu
Nut butters
Whole grains, like quinoa and barley

We try to do at least a couple vegetarian based nights each week.  Sometimes we do.  Sometimes we don’t.  The effort is always there, though!

What’s YOUR favorite way to eat protein?

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Flawed Study on Omega 3 Fats

The news flashed across the screen — Omega-3 fats do nothing to help heart patients.  Use your money elsewhere!

It was all over the media, TV, radio, online and in print.

Coincidentally, I was scheduled to do radio interviews all day on … you guessed, omega-3 fats.

flawed study on omega 3 fatsWell this study quickly changed the tone of the radio interviews and the questions asked from those interviewing me.

As you know, we’re big fans of omega-3 fats, both through eating fish and taking a high quality fish oil.  We’ve talked about them before and are supported by many, many studies done over the last several decades.

This study was different.

It was published in the highly regarded Journal of the American Medical Association.  And though the Journal is very well respected, this particular study certainly left a lot to be desired.

Basically, it was what’s called a meta analysis – meaning a review of many other studies.  In this case, 20 studies.  And in those 20 studies examined, they found no significant association with all cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, heart attack and stroke for those taking omega-3 fats.

Conclusion from media outlets and one well known news anchor "Omega 3 fatty acids could not prevent heart disease as once thought." 

This. Is. False.

Why do we say this?  Let’s look at this study a lot more closely, instead of simply reading an abstract or trusting a small snippet from your favorite news anchor.

The conclusion above was based on only 20 studies. While that may seem like a lot …

… there are currently 3,635 citations on these topics, but only 20 out of that 3600+ were included. As we’ve said before, science is like politics – when you take snippets of the whole picture, you can create whatever message you want.

The other piece to this is that 68,00+ subjects from these 20 studies had established and mostly severe heart disease.  Combining different populations makes it hard to draw hard – nearly impossible – to draw conclusions.  Second, some subjects were taking multiple cardiovascular drugs, which may interfere with the true outcome of the omega 3 fats themselves.

And another … the doses used, an average of 1.4 g omega-3 daily, is also low when trying to "even" out the balance of omega-6 fats (like the dangerous soybean oil) in the diet, as we’ve discussed in previous posts. 

No significant association in these 20 studies does not prove that a significant reduction of cardiovascular disease by omega-3 does not occur.

Many studies show strong significant benefit from omega-3 intake.

In regards to this particular study — what I call a "selective meta analysis" — it directly conflicts with the many, many much more well controlled studies measuring the same outcome.

Mohr Results Bottom Line?  Continue (or start) to take a high quality fish oil supplement daily.  Aim for 1-2 grams EPA + DHA for general wellness.  Reduce your intake of omega-6 fats.

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21 Nutrition “Rules” To Look Better, Feel Better and Boost Energy

There’s a lot of nutrition junk out there.  A LOT.

And we hear more and more of every day.  But just in the last week, we received several emails asking if we could change just 1 nutrition habit of a person, what would it be?  Just 1.

Hmmmm.

That’s really tough to narrow down, but it got us thinking that we should put together a list of ‘basics’ – through thick and thin, as fad diets come and go, these are solid nutrition behaviors that if you do nothing else but work on these daily habits we can promise you 3 things:

  • You’ll feel better.
  • You’ll look better.
  • You’ll have more energy.

Sold?

Now don’t read this thinking we’re sharing some voodoo nutrition secrets of the stars – but until you master these basics, you shouldn’t be worrying about those "secrets" anyhow.

21 Nutrition "Rules" to Look Better, Feel Better and Have More Energy

  1. Beware of anything that makes no sense. Nutrition specific?  Kind of — because people are always promising the world in this field, yet often have little to back it up.  This is particularly true with supplements.  And, as your mom always said, if it sound too good to be true, it is.  There are no miracles pills, potions or foods out there. Stop looking.
  2. Eat a vegetable and/or fruit with each meal.  Often people talk about certain fruits and veggies being "off limits" but that, well, makes no sense (see #1).  There are NO bad veggies and fruits.  Some are ‘A’ players and others more ancillary, but none are inherently "bad."  And we don’t care of these are organic or conventionally grown.  We just want you to eat more.  And we want you to eat ones that are darker in color, like berries & leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, etc.
  3. Eat Breakfast.  Daily.  While intermittent fasting is getting popular with some, the majority of research and clients we work with would benefit from eating breakfast regularly. The key is a quality breakfast — making sure it has some protein, some veggies or fruit (see #2), and little to no added sugar.  Research suggests the right fuel will give you more energy, improve your mental function, and will help you eat less overall during the day. 
  4. Include protein with each meal & snack.  Protein helps fill you up, provides the amino acids you need to function and recover, and since there is not "storage" place for protein in your body, frequent feedings help provide what’s needed by your body regularly.  It’s particularly important in the first meal of the day since you’ve been fasted for 7+ hours (see #3).
  5. Start Every Day with 1 Glass of Water.  Make it the first thing you put in your body.  Ice cold water.  No science.  To me it’s mental — starting your day with something pure and cold water feels amazing after not eating or drinking for the last 7+ hours.
  6. Drink 2 Cups of Water Before EACH Meal.  Dr. Brenda Davy and her Team at VA Tech found that when people drank 2 cups of water before each meal, they ate less overall and lost more weight at the end of the 12 week study.  Everything else was the same.  Water helps fill you up. 
  7. Don’t Drink Your Calories.  Piggybacking on #5 and #6, note that water is what’s suggested.  Not soda, Sweet tea, fruit punches or anything else along those lines.  Americans drink about 450 calories each day.  Replace this single source of calories with water and it could mean nearly a 50 lb weight loss after 1 year.  Seriously.
  8. Think Fiber.  Not Carbs.  Carbohydrates get a bad wrap.  From the very low carb diets, to the celebrities who go "gluten free" to lose weight.  It’s not about carbs.  It’s about quality.  And focusing on fiber will help.  Focus on whole grains – quinoa, barley, Farro and the like — and you’ll get loads of fiber and vitamins that are important for you.  Aim for a minimum of 25 grams daily.
  9. More is Not Better. Fiber is good.  Around 25 grams is good like I said in #8 — it doesn’t mean if 25 is good, 100 is better.  You won’t leave the bathroom and you’ll have no friends because when you’re around them, you’ll be too gassy, bloated and uncomfortable.  Same with anything else we talk about.  Protein is good.  Water is good.  Vitamins and minerals are necessary.  Don’t be extreme.
  10. Take Fish Oil.  We aren’t huge supplement pushers, by any means.  We do think fish oil would benefit everyone.  We take it daily. Ella and Sophia take it regularly (they’re 3 yrs and 9 months, respectively).  And, in fact, one study out of Harvard showed there are up to 96,000 deaths per year from low omega-3 intakes.  We use, like and trust Nordic Naturals. 
  11. Everything Works.  Change works.  The novelty of change works.  The key, though, is to change your habits so you’re not jumping from diet to diet trying to find the next, best and greatest ‘thing.’  You shouldn’t have to "change" when you follow simple, sound principles and practice good habits.  A friend told me this morning about a diet that promises a 10 lb weight loss in 10 days.  She said the first meal is 1/4 cup of oatmeal and ONE (1) walnut.  Yes, everything works for a short time.
  12. Eat Beans.  Beans are a great source of carbohydrate (see #8), super high in fiber, a decent source of protein and help fill you.  They’re also packed with various vitamins and minerals.  Aim for 1-2 servings daily.
  13. Plan Ahead.  While not about a specific food, per se, it does change your food choices.  Fail to plan and plan to fail.  We make our menu on a weekend and grocery list from that menu.  We pack Ella’s lunch the night before she goes to her school.  When we forget either of those, our days and week are completely different and we are flying by the seat of our pants, rushing to get things done and making poor choices.  This is maybe the most important rule out of any of them … I promise you, planning ahead will completely transform you mentally and physically.
  14. Eat Frequently.  It surely doesn’t have to be 6 times per day or even 5 times per day.  Do what works for you, within your schedule.  What we do know is eating consistently is important so you aren’t left without a plan and when very hungry, quickly turn to fast food or another "quick fix."  The key is planning ahead (see #13).
  15. Make Veggies/Fruit the Base of Your Meal.  This goes with #2.  When you do this, you’ll eat more of them.  Here’s an example.  Want some oatmeal with blueberries?  Great — fill the bowl with blueberries, first, then top with oats.  Making chicken stir fry?  Have veggies as the base (vs. rice or noodles), then add the chicken on top.  This is a simple way to bump up that produce intake and decrease your less healthy carb intake.
  16. Have Most of Your Carbs Come from Veggies/Fruit.  Have we hammered this one home enough, yet?  These both provide carbs (along with a ton of other nutrients). They’re where most of your carbs should come from.  Make the switch and notice the difference.
  17. Dessert is a Sometimes Thing.  We’re all about dessert.  Sometimes.  We tell Ella dessert is a "sometimes thing."  You don’t need a sweet every night after dinner.  Make it special by having it occasionally and enjoying a quality dessert.  Eat real ice cream, no sugar free, fat free, flavor free chemicals.  Occasionally.  Same thing goes for any other dessert.  Eat small portions of the real thing once in awhile.
  18. Don’t Use Added Sugar.  Funny to list this after talking about eating dessert, but again, that is only occasionally.  Overall we add way too much sugar to our foods, over double what’s recommended.  If you think a food is bland, find an alternative to boost flavor or find a more flavorful food.  Sugar shouldn’t be that alternative.
  19. Supplements are Complements.  Don’t ask us what supplements you should take if you didn’t eat breakfast and are going to grab fast food for lunch, then meet friends out for drinks later.  I gave a talk once to a local high school football team — this high school is consistently ranked top (or close to the top) in the country.  My first question — "how many of you ate breakfast this morning?"  3 people raised their hand out of about 80 or so.  THREE.  Yet I was asked to talk about supplements.  Supplements complement a quality diet.  They don’t replace or make up for a poor diet.  Taking fish oil (#10) — omega 3s — are a basic ingredient we should eat daily so think of it like that when we suggested taking them daily.
  20. Eat Together.  Without TV.  If you have a family, eat with them.  As much as possible.  And talk vs. being distracted by TV.  One study showed just 25% of 17 year olds at dinner with their family regularly (sad, but true).  Unfortunately, the statistics are clear that kids who eat with their family are healthier, happier and better students. 
  21. Eat Less.  Over the last 40 years, our calorie intake has increased by around 800 calories per day.  EIGHT HUNDRED.  So even outside of what we eat, just simply eating less is a good idea.  Eat until your satisfied, not stuffed. 
  22. Don’t Eat Cookies in the Day time.  Yes, yes — we said 21.  This one doesn’t really "count."  But we thought it was funny — Kara packed Ella a special homemade cookie that she and Ella made the other day.  When I picked her up from school she said "WHY did mommy put a cookie in my lunch?  We don’t eat cookies in the day time?"  So that now became rule #22.  No cookies in the day time.

After years and years of working with all different clients, from pro athletes to soccer moms, billionaire CEO’s to factory workers … we stand by these 21 (errr, 22) "rules."  And at the end of the day, they’re all rather simple to implement. 

The key is to take action and simply get started!

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Are You Better Off than 4 Yrs Ago?

On the heels of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, we thought we’d ask this question that came up over and over again in the last 2 weeks as the RNC and DNC were airing.

But we’re not getting all political on you.

We’re talk about you physically …

are you physically better than you were four years ago?

It’s an interesting question.

Just the other day I had a conversation with a recent college graduate.  She’s 25 years old and was complaining that she’s wearing a size 8 now when she used to be a 2. 

So what has changed for you in the past 4 years?

Is the number on the scale the same if you’ve been trying to maintain?

How about your pants or dress size?

When in Orlando with a friend about a month ago, he was telling me he’s happy he’s the same weight as he was when we were in high school — 20 or so years ago. 

This is not the ‘norm’ though, considering the average man is 16 lbs heavier than he was in 1990 and the average woman, 18 pounds heavier in that same time frame.

Where do you fall along that spectrum?

If you’re not "better" than 4 years ago, does that mean you’re worse?

Again, we’re talking physically here.

Mitt Romney Republican Presidential candidateWhat have you done to change, maintain or improve your fitness?

How about your fatness?

I’m going to call myself out here.

I’m not as fit as I was 4 years ago.  Actually, not even close — 4 years ago, almost to the day, I had just finished the Louisville Ironman.

I weigh the same.

But I’m certainly not as fit, though my goals are very different.  Since then we’ve had 2 kids and now I’m not training for anything specific … just training for life.  But I am training, though it’s very, very different.

The question — then, if you’re not better off than 4 years ago — why?

And, more importantly, what will you do to change that?

Because on September 7th, 2016 when I ask this same question …

You surely don’t want to be the "average" man or woman, who has gained several pounds, and continuing on that upward trend.

Your health.  Your body.  Your strength, fitness and fatness are 100% in your control. 

Where you are today is not anyone’s fault but yours — for better or worse.  The government can’t fix it.  Your spouse can’t fix it.  Your friends, kids or parents can’t fix it.

You Fix You!

If you’re not happy with where you are, do something to change that.

Maybe it’s with your diet.

Maybe it’s with your exercise.

Maybe both.

But take 1 step NOW — as soon as you read this — to do it. 

Here are 10 things you can do TODAY … that can ultimately make a BIG change when continued day after day. 

  1. Add a 10 minute walking break for every 50 minutes of sitting.
  2. Only watching as much TV each day for the amount of time you are active.  Favorite shows on tonight?  Great, if it’s 2 shows for 30 minutes each … get in 60 minutes of structured physical activity.
  3. Don’t drink any calories — no soda, alcohol, sports drinks — nothing.
  4. Do 10 squats and 10 pushups in your office 60 minutes.  Stand up, sit down in your desk chair.  10 times.  Then put your hands on your desk and get in 10 reps of pushups.  Or do full pushups if comfortable.  Stay at home mom?  Same rules apply.  Your kids will get a kick out of it.
  5. Replace 1 snack today with a vegetable.  We all love carrots in the Mohr House – carrots and hummus make regular appearances here.
  6. Eat 80% of what’s on your plate.  Yes, that means leaving some food behind.  It’s not the clean plate club.
  7. Ask for them to hold the bread basket if you go out to eat.
  8. Drink 2 cups of water before every meal and snack.
  9. Leave the TV off at night — if you have kids, go out and play instead — if not, go for a walk after dinner.
  10. Skip dessert.

Think about it again.

It’s a big, big question.

Are You Better Off Than 4 Years Ago?

Are you more fit?  Are you less fat?  Are you maintaining your already healthy, fit and strong body?

Regardless of where you are now, there is only one way to change it — you.  Start with any of the 10 tips, or what can become habits, we suggested , continue with them day in and day out …

…And when 4 years rolls around and the next Presidential or Presidential Candidate is on TV asking if YOU are better off 4 years from where you are now, you can answer definitively.

YES!

Please do us a favor and take a second to click the ‘like’ button below to share this article with your friends and family so they, too, can be better than they were 4 years ago!

Organic Foods A Waste of Money? (Controversy Alert!)

The organic vs. conventional debate rages on … and will continue to for a long time.  And now even more fuel has been added to the organic fire. 

We wrote thorganic food controversyis blog earlier this year, but with a recent study coming out just the other day, it was time to update and edit.

You may have seen snippets from the study — here’s a summary that was published online in the New York Times: "Study Questions Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce."

To summarize, the authors analyzed data from 237 other studies — something called a meta analyses — to determine the differences between conventionally grown and organically grown foods.

Two of the main conclusions "…fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli"

Hmmm, an interesting wrench into the mix. 

People on the organic side have been screaming for years that the produce they buy is MUCH higher in nutrients.

People on the conventional side have been screaming for years that there’s no difference.

But there’s more to it than that.  It’s not just about nutrients — in fact, we think that’s the smallest part of the story. 

As we’ve talked in the past when reviewing studies, it’s impossible to control or measure everything … and, to be honest, sometimes research only brings up more questions that need to be answered. 

They did find the conventional produce had more pesticide residue than the organic produce.  This research study also found "no obvious health advantages to organic meats."

But what they didn’t look at is how pesticides — though arguably the levels found were below what’s ‘allowed’ by the EPA — may accumulate over time in the body, may affect pregnant women, children or the fetus.  Again, though, those are all a ton of factors that may have been out of the scope of this review.

One finding that supports our personal belief — with the organic meats they found less antibiotic resistant bacteria, though they noted these would be killed during cooking anyhow.  However, in our minds, this is a concern.  Another recent study showed chickens had the highest levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria to begin with …

… and with a culture that medicates for everything, this concerns us in the long run for us and our kiddos. 

It’s why all of our meats — beef, chicken and pork — are from our local farmers market, from farmers where we know their farming practices, like the quality of their products, and of course enjoy the taste.

We buy organic meats.  We buy organic dairy products. 

But back to one of the original questions at hand — nutrient content.  Maybe organic produce doesn’t have more nutrients than conventionally grown produce.  But you know what — when you buy foods locally, they WILL have more nutrients because you’re eating them closer to when they were picked.  We stand by that and buy as much local as possible. 

We don’t always buy organic vegetables.

We grow many of our own.  We use a CSA. 

When we shop to supplement both, we use the "dirty dozen" list and buy organic of the top 12 "worst" offenders.  Others are usually conventional.

Our conclusion of the last blog … and still … is that local is best.  If organic, great — but we would even say local over organic.  Sometimes the other option is an organic vegetable that was grown 3000+ miles away, like much of it is when shopping at the grocery store.  At that point it’s picked weeks before it even gets to your kitchen vs. something picked just days or hours before you eat it. 

Our conclusions to the Organic Food "Controversy":

  1. Local Produce is Best
  2. Meats (inclusive of all animals) are best from farms where you know their farming practices
  3. The less pesticides we can eat, the better
  4. Eat what you can afford.  Conventional produce is certainly better than none, so if you can’t afford organic, still eat it.  A lot.
  5. Make it easy — find a local CSAsearch this website and type in your zip code.  

We’re also fortunate that there is a local company that does food delivery from local farms — produce, meats, dairy, etc.  Great to have options. 

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