Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

This article is not meant to demean supplements in anyway. In fact there are numerous advantages to using such products to balance your nutrition and improve performance. Just like every food product, however, there are some to avoid and the more educated you are when making a purchase the better off you will be. Typically when you sign up at a healthclub, both the salesperson and personal trainers will take you by the “pro-shop” and tout the advantages of nutritional supplements. Since there is generally a commission involved they will of course push you toward the gyms own product line or brand with an arranged marketing agreement.

I and a few others were rare in that regard; we generally looked at the label and told our client’s to head for the nearest supplement shop*. I remember we had the head of the corporate offices’ nutrition products division conducting a meeting on the importance of selling Bally’s product line tell me one of our supplements mixed differently because of a “filler” when on the label it stated no fillers were used. It made me wonder how many other “healthy” products are being pushed on unsuspecting consumers.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples: the Apex bar available at 24 Hour Fitness and the Bally Snack Right bar. I have highlighted some of the ingredients in question below.



Nutrition Facts: Serving Size: 1 Bar (55g), Amount Per Serving: Calories 220, Fat Calories 50, Total Fat 6g (9% DV), Saturated Fat 3.5g (18% DV), Cholesterol less than 5mg (1% DV), Sodium 160mg (7% DV), Potassium 50mg (1% DV), Total Carbohydrate 28g (9% DV), Dietary Fiber less than 1g (3% DV), Sugars 20g, Protein 13g (26% DV), Vitamin A (10% DV), Vitamin C (10% DV), Calcium (15% DV), Iron (20% DV), Vitamin E (10% DV), Thiamin (10% DV), Riboflavin (10% DV), Niacin (10% DV), Vitamin B6 (10% DV), Folate (10% DV), Vitamin B12 (10% DV), Biotin (10% DV), Pantothenic Acid (10% DV), Phosphorus (10% DV), Iodine (10% DV), Zinc (10% DV). Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

INGREDIENTS: Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, calcium caseinate, sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, almonds, whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, nonfat milk, lactose, cocoa (processed with alkali) high oleic sunflower oil with tocopherols added to protect flavor, natural and artificial flavor, cellulose gel, salt, dextrose, vegetable oil (coconut and/or palm), soy lecithin, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean), calcium phosphate, butter (cream, salt), guar gum, sodium ascorbate, ferric orthophosphate, alpha-tocopherol acetate, niacinamide, zinc oxide, calcium pantothenate, coffee, vitamin A palmitate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, vitamin B12. Manufactured in a plant that processes peanut, tree nuts, soy, milk and egg products.



Nutrition Facts: 160 cals, 4.5 fat, 23 g carbs, 7 g protein

Ingredients: Corn Syrup, Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Natural Flavor, Nonfat Milk, Lactose, Barley Malt Extract, Rice Bran, Calcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Milk Mineral Concentrate, Dextrose, Honey, Calcium Caseinate, Guar Gum, Milk Protein Isolate, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Ferric Orthophosphate, Maltodextrin, Alphatocopherol Acetate, Niacinamide, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodate, Vitamin B12.


If you were to compare these products, the Bally bar comes out ahead of the Apex for a few reasons. First, both contain corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which can contribute to obesity, but when it comes to the Apex bar it is one of the first two ingredients. In addition to HFCS, the Apex bar also contains partially hydrogenated oils that can possibly lead to a slower metabolism (not something you want if you are trying to get in shape). These problems are not unique to these two bars alone as there are several on the market with similar ingredients. In some cases you would be better off grabbing a Snickers instead. Just remember when looking for a decent snack the first ingredients on the label should not be sugar based.

* When choosing a supplement shop keep in mind that there are several options. The most popular is GNC/Livewell largely due to the fact they were one of the first to the market and invested heavily in advertising. In general they are the most expensive even on Super Tuesday, GNC’s first-Tuesday of the month sale. My advice would be to find a local shop which generally locate near larger gyms. Smoothie Factory, Smoothie King, and Fitness Essentials are all good examples. Their prices are almost always lower than GNC’s Super Tuesday sale all month long.


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Making Your Diet Public

Last year LifeHack’s Kyle Pott tracked his 50 pound weight loss in his post, 10 Unconventional Diet Tips. Among his many suggestions is the following,

Make your diet public

Tell people you’re on a diet. There’s no reason to be ashamed to be on a diet. I found that trying to keep my diet a secret was harder than just telling people. In fact, telling your coworkers, girlfriend, family, etc. will increase your accountability. It motivated me knowing that my coworkers and family knew that I was dieting because I did not want to fail. I also chose a typical “fat picture” and put it on my fridge, in my cubicle, and on my wall. I wanted to have a continual reminder to lose the weight. I know it’s a cliche, but it was important for me to remind myself of my ultimate goal.

I feel I should also note that although I was 50 pounds over weight, when I told people I was on a diet they often said “you don’t need to diet.” I found this surprising because I was obviously overweight. Beware that you will likely hear similar comments. I found it easier to just accept the “compliment” than to try to justify my diet to them. Remember that you are on a diet for you, and that you do not need to justify yourself.

Making your diet public is a good idea if you have a stable support group around you. This means more than just having family and friends, but individuals who will actually support your weight loss. One significant barrier to losing weight and keeping off the pounds is the lifestyle we choose to lead, part of that lifestyle being the acquaintances we keep. If the people you surround yourself with are generally negative about your attempt, the likelihood you will fail increases. It has also been discovered that the influence of obese friends may increase your likelihood to become overweight.

I was the fat kid in school and when I finally decided to go on a diet and lost a few pounds, my parents were the first to become critical. At first it was innocent, “well don’t go loosing too much weight now” to “you need to stop loosing weight, you won’t have any meat left if you get sick.”

When I took up amateur bodybuilding I was faced with the same issue only this time people tempting me with food. “Oh come on, you can have a piece of cake” or “you need to eat, it’s rude not to.” I finally had to make the hard decision and limit my contact with some individuals to help reach my goals. It seems that when it comes to weight loss, the old adage is sometimes true, misery does in fact love company.

If a positive environment with which to loose weight does exist, you should be one step closer to achieving your goals. Great work Kyle and good luck to everyone else in their weight loss endeavors.

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parkay-spray1.jpgThe topic of this article is the growing popularity of spray butter substitutes. There are several on the market, Parkay and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter being the two most popular.


For some time I have been looking for the nutrition information related to the calorie content of Parkay Fat Free Butter Spray to change. When this product first hit the market I, as I am sure many other people, thought it should be in consideration for product of the year. A product that tastes like butter, no cholesterol, zero trans fat, in fact zero fat period (or at least that is what the bottle claimed). Then I looked at the ingredients:


Water, Soybean Oil, Buttermilk, Salt, Soy Lecithin And Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids (Emulsifiers), Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate And Sodium Benzoate (To Preserve Freshness), Lactic Acid (Acidulant), Artificial Flavor, Colored With Beta Carotene (Source Of Vitamin A), Vitamin A Palmitate.


Now, let’s ignore the long list of preservatives (some of which are potential carcinogens) and emulsifiers and focus on the second and third, soybean oil and buttermilk. Now it doesn’t take a food scientist to realize there is fat in both of those ingredients. After a quick search I have run across several websites that tout these products as a great substitute to real butter and definitely margarine, which is typically made up of hydrogenated oils (more on the negative health benefit of those here). Most of these sites use the nutrition label that is directly from the bottle.


With all the confusion around and attempt to educate the public on food labels and serving sizes over the past few years, it seems a label with nothing but zeros on it would be simple to understand. Just use a couple sprays, but with information like 0 calories it would be like telling someone to eat just one potato chip. I decided to contact ConAgra (owner of the Parkay brand) regarding the contents and here is what they confirmed.

March 24, 2005

Thank you for contacting us. The Parkay Spray was developed to give you the buttery taste of real butter without the fat calories. There are .8 calories in 1 spray and 4.0 calories in 5 sprays. Fat content is .085grams in 1 spray, .4grams in 5 sprays. We appreciate your interest in Parkay.

ConAgra Foods Consumer Affairs


That means that in the entire bottle there are 813 total calories from 90 grams of fat. Now you may be wondering why it is they can list it as 0 calories. Phil Kaplan, who runs PhilKaplan.com, has the answer.


The FDA labeling law says that if there’s less than 1/2 gram of fat in a serving, a food can be labeled “Fat-Free.” The catch is, nobody regulates what the food companies refer to as a serving size.


I guess the ideal situation for the food and beverage industry would be to set the serving size on every product so small it could be considered ‘fat-free.’ Fortunately this tactic has been receiving increased scrutiny over the past couple of years most often with soft drinks and snack foods.


I do agree that this is a good product, in fact I have two bottles in my refrigerator. The problem with this labeling occurs when a person does not realize there are ‘hidden’ calories and decides to use it in a manner inconsistent with a ‘few sprays,’ such as with baking. What is thought of as a 0 calorie replacement for butter in your dishes is simply substituting one fat for the other.


I hope you have found this article educational and should you choose to try or continue using one of these products, you can do so a little smarter. For a decent list of products you can choose from in this category I recommend the following page: Better than Butter.



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