As a dietitian, I sometimes find people carefully watching what I choose to eat. The common misconception is that while I have a healthy lifestyle and maintain both my weight and physique, I must greatly limit myself in my selections of food. This actually couldn't be further from the truth!
I often get a surprised, "You're eating that?" People tend to think that I can't eat foods that aren't considered 'healthy' - but it's simply not true.
Here is the skinny on four foods that tend to have a bad reputation and the best ways to add each one back into your food plan.
Lean beef is a low-fat source of iron and protein. Because protein takes longer to digest, it helps you feel fuller longer. A study of 100 women from Australian researchers found that overweight women who ate reduced-calorie diets rich in protein from red meat lost more weight than those whose reduced-calorie plans had little meat and more carbs.
Choose lean cuts such as filet mignon, sirloin, strip steak, T-bone, strip or flank steak. Buy ground beef labeled "97% lean" or "extra lean." Buy cuts graded Choice; less fat and still tastes good. And remember to limit your portion size, no matter how lean the meat.
Peanut butter is a concentrated source of calories, but you don't need to eat much to feel satisfied. Just a tablespoon (90 calories) of peanut butter goes a long way and provides good nutrition, too. Peanut butter is loaded with heart-protecting fats, protein, and vitamins and minerals including, vitamin E, niacin, folic acid, and magnesium. Furthermore, peanut butter has resveratrol, a compound that has the potential to reduce damage to blood vessels and the amount of LDL, the "bad" cholesterol.
When selecting your peanut butter, be sure to look for one that's of the natural variety. Commercial peanut butter tends to contain far too much added sugar.
Yes, egg yolks contain cholesterol, but medical and nutrition experts now stress that saturated fats and trans fats raise blood cholesterol more than dietary cholesterol. Plus, eggs are a good source of nutrients. One egg contains 6 grams of perfect complete protein.
Eggs are also good sources of choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss from age-related macular degeneration.
The protein in eggs increases satiety and decreases hunger, helping people eat fewer calories throughout the day. A study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that overweight women who eat egg breakfasts lost twice as much weight as women who started their days with bagels.
Unless you are on a strict low-cholesterol diet, eating one egg a day should be fine. Other ways to enjoy eggs without worrying about cholesterol include not eating the yolks (which contains all the cholesterol) or using egg substitutes. Make a veggie omelet with 2 to 3 egg whites to every one yolk to keep the calories and fat low.
Potatoes do rank high on the glycemic index, which measures how quickly different foods raise your blood sugar. It's worth noting that the glycemic index is an imperfect and controversial scale. The glycemic index of a mixed meal can be difficult to predict. So unless you're eating a plain potato all by itself, its glycemic index value doesn't matter.
Potatoes have a lot of nutrition to offer. A small potato contains just 110 calories, has nearly half of the Daily Value for vitamin C, and it is one of the best sources of potassium and fiber in the produce section.
Preserve the most nutrients by keeping the skin on, and steam or microwave potatoes instead of boiling them. Serve the potato with healthier choices such as salsa, low-fat turkey and bean chili, nonfat plain yogurt, or nonfat sour cream for a delicious treat.
Maria Faires, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist and freelance writer based out of Sammamish, WA. Maria is considered to be one of Western Washington's premier fitness and nutrition experts. As the owner of Active Nutrition Fitness & Consulting, Maria provides highly personalized nutrition services, personal training and preventative and post-rehabilitative fitness programming in her private training studio. She also provides Skype, phone and online nutrition counseling and training for remote clients. Maria leads the industry in the development of cutting edge fitness and nutrition techniques as well as innovative and unique fitness programming. Maria expertly designs every workout, nutrition plan and provides the personal attention, extra motivation, support and accountability that helps her clients achieve optimal performance and health. Contact or read more about Maria at www.myactivenutrition.com.