As a fitness professional, I enjoy trying different diets and products so I can intelligently give feedback to our clients – and having an opportunity to try the Atkins Diet couldn’t come at a better time!
After a week entertaining house guests and another week in Atlantic City with my mom (for Ms. Senior Florida), all shortly after going to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, I am SO ready to put the Atkins diet to the test next week!
5 things I didn’t know about Adkins.
The truth is, I thought I had a grasp on the basics behind the Atkins Diet principles. However, the more I studied it, the more I realized how much misinformation is out there. Since you can eat fat on Atkins, I think many people are under the impression it’s an all-you-can-eat bacon and sausage kind of diet. A big surprise to me, someone on Atkins eats a lot like I do! Here are just a few things I’ve learned so far.
1. More Calories - The average amount of calories in an Atkins diet is 1,500-1,800 calories, which is 25% higher than a typical diet. The truth is, I normally average 1,400-1,600 calories a day when I’m dieting to lose weight. I only drop to 1,200 if I’m at a standstill or not losing as fast as I’d like. Most people should easily be able to lose weight eating 1,500-1,800 calories a day.
2. More Filling – Atkins frozen dinners are the same amount of calories I already budget per meal when dieting, which is around 350 calories. While you can get lower calorie meals, Atkins’ meals are high in protein and fat, and low in carbohydrates, so the meals will stick with you much longer than a standard frozen low calorie meal.
And don’t freak if you look at the fat in their snack bars. This bar has 10gms of fat, 16gms protein and only 19gms of carbs (only 3 net carbs). Again, because it does have more fat, this bar will keep you fuller longer.
3. More Healthy Fat - Atkins doesn’t just encourage dieters to eat fat, like many people may believe. Atkins encourages you to eat HEALTHY fats, like avocado, nuts, olive oil, Greek yogurt and dairy. I think a lot of people who don’t know much about Atkins think Atkins is all about steak, bacon, sausage and greasy food – I know, because I was one of them!! This is the Atkins pyramid, to give you a better idea of the structure of this diet.
4. More Vegetables - From day one, Atkins encourages the consumption of vegetables, recommending more servings than the USDA guidelines.
5. Atkins is 100% FREE – there is no cost to do the program. Atkins offers an online community, resource center, recipes, tools and meal plans at Atkins.com. You can get some of their yummy bars, snacks and food in stores and online. Click HERE to learn more.
As I was typing this, Steve just text me this text. That stinker dove into MY Atkins bars! I have a feeling we’ll both be doing Atkins next week!!! I better go stock up! haha
Why It Works
Click HERE to get more info, like this video, on why it works.
Here is a great page on more common Truths & Myths (and, again, I admit I believed some of those myths myself!). I am always learning!
Did You Know?
- A low-fat diet is almost always a high-carb diet. When these carbs are low-fiber, the body becomes most vulnerable to blood sugar highs and lows that leave a person hungry and low on energy.
- The Atkins Diet is designed to “flip the body’s metabolic switch” from burning carbs to burning fat. Graduated carb introduction helps avoid blood sugar and insulin spikes, which cause hunger and cravings.
- When eaten in large amounts, carbohydrate (not fat, not protein) is the macronutrient responsible for raising blood levels of saturated fat and triglycerides.
- Excess carbohydrate consumption is responsible for raising triglycerides and lowering “good” (HDL) cholesterol. Have you seen Fat Head? OMG! So interesting!!
- Atkins improves cholesterol profiles and blood sugar levels, as well as other health markers. Following a low-carb lifestyle can also reverse metabolic syndrome and even slow down the progression Type 2 diabetes.
- Atkins is the weight loss plan of choice for the millions of people who have a reduced ability to process carbohydrates – those who have varying levels of “carbohydrate intolerance.”
- The Atkins Diet is backed by more than 80 independent, published, peer-reviewed studies conducted over the past several decades. Recently published medical journal articles that reinforce the unsurpassed effectiveness of the Atkins low-carb approach have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine and Lancet.
Follow Atkins to get more tips, facts, news and motivation.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Atkins.
The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Canadian Maple Syrup.
When you think of maple syrup, you probably think “PANCAKES”! A beautiful stack of buttermilk pancakes with warm golden brown maple syrup poured over melting butter, ready to be washed down with a glass of cold milk. At least that’s what I think of! However, there is a lot more to maple syrup than you think – and I think you’ll be very surprised to read what I have to share!
First surprise: 80% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada. If you want real maple syrup you need to make sure it is Canadian Maple syrup, which is unprocessed and 100% natural.
Second surprise: Did you know most leading pancake syrup brands do not even have maple syrup in their syrup? How crazy is THAT? They rely on high fructose corn syrup (which isn’t as healthy and has more calories than Canadian Maple Syrup). When I heard this, I had to go check it out for myself. (watch the video)
Third Surprise: Canadian Maple Syrup has fewer calories than honey (and a LOT more flavor too!). This is funny to me because I prefer maple syrup over honey in many recipes (like oatmeal and mashed sweet potatoes), but figured it was higher in calories. Maybe it’s because it’s called “syrup” and I just think high calories when I think syrup. Ironically, I found I use less syrup than honey because it has more flavor!
Fourth Surprise: Canadian Maple Syrup is high in anti-oxidants – and the darker the grade of syrup the higher in anti-oxidants it is. Check out the difference between Canadian Maple Syrup and other sweeteners.
Canadian Maple Syrup Versus Popular Sweeteners
Pre-Workout Protein Rice Pudding
I found this great pre-workout rice pudding, and I decided to tweak it to make it a little lower in calories and higher in protein. So, I put my thinking cap on and went mad-scientist in the kitchen. I replaced the flour with protein powder and the condensed milk with fat free milk. I reduced the amount of maple syrup (because I’m trying to make the yummy stuff last!!) and I topped it with a sprinkle of cinnamon and granola. Then I tested it out on my house guests. …and the verdict was “Wow! That is really good. Can I have a bowl?” So, I would say it was a success!!
3 cups cooked rice
2 cups fat free milk
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup Canadian Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Combine all the ingredients, minus the greek yogurt and protein powder, in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, mix in the yogurt and protein powder, reducing heat while mixing. Remove from heat and let it stand to thicken. Serve cold or hot. Makes 4 servings. 314 calories per serving.
Cooking With Maple Syrup
Steve and I have recently discovered spaghetti squash (yes, I’m a bit behind!). So now we’re on a spaghetti squash kick! Steve can’t get enough of it, and for only 42 calories a cup, you can’t really beat it!
On our weekly “Sunday Food Prep Day” I began to get creative in the kitchen, thinking of ways I could use spaghetti squash. We were going to dinner at my parents house last night so I wanted to bring a new healthy flavorful dish to introduce to the family. I was in the mood for some Italian, so I began brainstorming and concocting, and this is what I came up with.
I was cracking up because no one knew what it was. My sister asked what the “squishy stuff” was, saying it was really good! My aunt also was perplexed, as she was asking who made “this dish” as she points to it. She took a plate home to her son (my cousin) and said he lapped up the plate, and he too wanted to know what the mystery dish was too. So, even though no one could place it, everyone liked it and there wasn’t a drop left of it to take back home with us, so I guess this creation is a keeper! Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: As always, I did not follow a recipe and was just making this up as I went along – which often means, I add a dash more of this, and a pinch more of that. This recipe is what I came up with to the best of my recollection. I hope you can recreate it and enjoy it too!
Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash Casserole
1 Whole Spaghetti Squash (makes approximately 4 Cups)
1 Bag of Marzano Tomatoes (approximately 20 Cherry tomatoes)
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Sliced Black Olives
1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
2 Teaspoons Basil Paste (or fresh basil leaves)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Teaspoon Cracked Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Shredded Cheese (optional)
Cut the squash in half and take the seeds out. Place face down in a microwave safe dish and add one cup of water. Cook for approximately 15 minutes in the microwave until soft. Let it cool before handling.
While the squash is cooking, you can slice the Marzano tomatoes and measure the black olives, combining them in one container for holding. In a separate small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, cracked pepper and salt. Add a small portion (maybe a teaspoon), along with the vinegar, to the tomatoes and black olives in a small container.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the squash out in spaghetti strands into your mixing dish. Mix in the olive oil mixture until the squash is fully covered. Add vegetables and parmesan cheese until mixed evenly.
Measure cup by cup to (for tracking calories) into a baking dish. My ingredients added up to 5 cups, making 10 1/2 cup servings. Sprinkle a very light layer of cheese (I used a little regular cheddar with some shredded parmesan cheese) on top and back on 350 for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Serving Size: 1/2 Cup
51 Calories (not including the cheese on top)
Only 6.4 Carbs
We Pfiesters are always looking for high-protein snacks and easy meals. This is why chicken salads are a hot item in our kitchen. Last weekend I made a Low-Fat Buffalo Chicken Salad that Steve LOVED, and this weekend I made a Curry Chicken Salad. Throw it on a cracker for a snack or scoop a cup out on a bed of greens for a meal. Either way, this is one great low-cal recipe that makes dieting pretty darn easy! The only hard part will be not going back for seconds!
Curry Chicken, Grape & Apple Salad Recipe
1/2 Cup Chobani Plain Yogurt
1 Cup Chopped Grapes
1 Cup Chopped Apple
6 1/3 Cup Chopped Chicken Breast
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
4 Packets Truvia (or your favorite sweetener)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Whisk the yogurt, curry powder, 2 (of the 3) tablespoons lemon juice, salt and sweetener together until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the grapes, chicken, apple and the final tablespoon of lemon juice together. Then stir both together until well-coated and mixed. Chill before serving.
TIP: I’d add walnuts if I wasn’t dieting, but they crank up the calories quick, so no nuts for us. I do have some nuts, but I don’t put them in our food because they are too hard to count accurately in a recipe. Instead, I add them on top so I can adjust my fat as needed for that day.
Makes 8 cups, or 16 1/2 cup servings. We do 1/2 cup servings because we often eat them as a snack. 2 servings with salad greens is great for a full meal.
97 servings per 1/2 cup serving
15g protein, 1.8g fat, 3g carbs
5 More Chicken Salads
People do NOT like the word diet. It’s like a bad 4-letter word that’s offensive in all countries. Everyone has a different definition of diet. I admit I use the word all the time, but I never think of it as a bad thing. To me, diet means results. It means healthy food, smart food. It means perfect portions, not overeating, not eating junk. It means practicing self-control and it means feeling great.
When did practicing self-control become so scary and bad? God ENCOURAGES us to practice self-control. There are countless scriptures on the importance of controlling our body, cravings and desires.
As you know, I like chips and salsa. I can’t eat it every day (but I WANT TO), but I do eat it. What if you let your kid eat whatever they wanted to eat every day? That’s a scary thought right? Well, it’s not too much worse than a grown adult eating whatever they want to eat every day. It might “look” healthier than PopTarts and Happy Meals, but it’s not much different when it comes to self-control.
Stop looking at dieting (or practicing self-control) as a horrible thing. Instead, look at it as empowering! Every time you resist your favorite cheat food, you are reminding yourself you are strong, you are one step closer to your goal, you are in control, you are not letting food rule your life, you are bettering yourself, you are doing the right and healthy thing. Every time you are eating healthy, you’re fueling your body with the foods it needs to help you reach your goals. Be proud, be excited!
Self-control requires sacrifice. Sacrifice requires being uncomfortable at first, but pleasure follows. Lack of self-control is the other way around. Pleasure first followed by discomfort that typically way outlasts the pleasure. Dieting (eating right, practicing self-control, managing calories) is investing in your future – and it’s SO worth it!!
Download the LoseIt app today and start taking control of your eating – and your body!
First, it’s important to know we all have different goals. Right now, I’m trying to reduce my body fat. I started at 18% body fat and I’m now down to 14%, but I still have to get even leaner for the LiveExercise shoot on August 21st. I’ve consistently lost about 2lbs a week, while maintaining muscle mass (according to the InBody body composition machine we use to track progress). I actually even gained a pound of muscle during the process.
My diet is based on 1200 calories a day. Right now I’m doing 7 cardios a week and strength training 4-5 days a week. With that said, here’s what I’ve been eating & doing…
BREAKFAST: (Budget: 200 calories)
5oz plain Chobani greek yogurt, berries & 3 T granola (198 calories)
OR protein shake with orange juice & protein powder (181 calories)
OR egg beaters with spinach & tomatoes (or 2 63 Calorie Quiche)
LUNCH: (Budget: 200-300 calories)
Pinwheels: 4 ounces of fresh lunch meat (rolled up) with 1/4 avocado or cream cheese
OR 4 ounces of grilled or smoked chicken with avocado, lime juice, garlic, tomatoes and salt
OR the above meat, avocado over greens with vinegar
SNACK (3-4PM): (Budget: 100 -150 calories)
100-150 calorie snack like 140-calorie progresso light soup, grapes & cheese stick, more pinwheels, 1/2 banana & 1 tsp peanut butter, or a few almonds.
PM WORKOUT – LIFT WEIGHTS (4-6PM)
Post workout protein shake (1 scoop) or one Cocotein protein drink by IsoPure (100-140 calories).
Grilled Chicken with one green side (asparagus, brussel sprouts, broccoli, green beans, kale or salad greens). Read 25 Low-Cal Greens for more ideas. (200-250 calories)
Note: I season my greens a few different ways: #1 – lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper (tasty on cabbage), #2 soy sauce & olive oil (perfect on green beans), #3 Badia Complete Seasoning & olive oil (good on everything), #3 Steam with salt, garlic & butter spray, #4 Balsamic vinegar, olive oil & seasoning (great on asparagus), curry, stevia, olive oil & salt (yum on brussel sprouts) or #5 lemon juice, parmesan cheese & salt (yummy on broccoli). I grill and steam my veggies a lot. I personally like my veggies crisp and a little charred from the grill.
100-150 calorie snack (100 calorie popcorn, Veggie Straws, Weight Watcher’s Smoked Mozzarella string cheese, big dill pickle, cucumber chips in vinegar, hot tea, pretzel sticks or caramel rice cakes (minis). NOTE: I don’t need ANY of these snacks, but I budget in a salty snack because I enjoy it!
My meal plan is based on a daily budget of 900 – 1200 calories – 1200 calories on days I exercise and 900-1000 calories on days I don’t workout. My goal for my substrates (protein, carbs & fats) for what I’m training for is 40-50% protein, 30-40% fat & 20-25% carbs. A simple 33/33/33 would be perfectly fine for most people (and you’d still get insane results). The more extreme split is VERY HARD for me. Every day I strive for this, and most days I miss it, but I learn every day and I do better than I would if I wasn’t trying!
Please realize this is not a prescribed diet. This isn’t a diet at all. This is what I am eating. I treat my body like a science project and adjust my food according to how I perform, how I feel and the results I’m getting. If I am low on energy, I boost my healthy fats or increase my healthy carbs. If I’m losing muscle, I check my LoseIt app and look to see if I need to increase my protein. However, I RARELY increase carbs – that’s one area I seem to have NO problem getting enough of! lol So far, at 1200 calories a day, I’m loosing weight and feeling great, so I’m pretty much sticking to the same things since I know they work for me.
When I reach maintenance, I like to continue this format during the week (with a little more room for extra fun calories) and have a cheat meal once a week. It’s all about checks and balances. The more you learn to maintain balance, the happier and healthier you will be. Some people cheat a little everyday but never cheat big (this is more me). Other people like to be strict during the week and cheat big on the weekends (this is more Steve). The key to success is finding what you can live with long-term because fitness isn’t supposed to be something you do for a season, it’s a lifestyle. Sure, you can lose weight for a competition or photo shoot, and have extreme moments, but you should be programmed to go right back to a healthy balance of a healthy diet and lifestyle you can maintain long-term.
If you are like me, sometimes the thought of another frothy thick milky protein shake on a hot day is enough to make you want to gag. When you have a protein shake every day, they can get old. Of course, this isn’t always the case with everyone. I don’t think my husband EVER gets tired of them! However, I am very different. I don’t like super sweet drinks and I don’t crave sweets so I struggle to get a chocolatey milky shake down sometimes. So, when IsoPure asked if I would like to try some of their crystal clear protein drinks, I jumped on the opportunity!
The first drink I tried was their Cocotein. OMG! That’s all I can say. OOOO MMMMM GGGGGGG! My eyes must have popped out of my head when I took my first taste. I had to read the label again to make sure I was seriously getting 20gms of protein in such a refreshing awesome tasting cold beverage!! I was FREAKING out!!! I was sad I only had one bottle. I chugged down a few sips after a hot run, enjoying every drop. Being the wonderful wife I am (lol), I saved a little for Steve so he could taste it too because that’s what you do when you taste something amazing. He doesn’t even like coconut water and it wowed him too!! So I am hooked! Now I have to do a GNC run and stock up!
Where to buy them:
Why would you want to get IsoPure (besides because it tastes ridiculously good)?
- Lactose Free – First, for all those lactose intolerant peeps, IsoPure Drinks are Lactose Free!
- Low-Carb/Low Fat – Most of their drinks are super low-carb and have little to no fat.
- Extra Oomph – IsoPure has potassium, sodium and to help replace electrolytes from sweating. Their IsoPure Teas have caffeine, BCAAs and antioxidants too (SO COOL!)!
- Refreshing & Thirst-Quenching – The crystal clear drink is super refreshing, tasty and easy on the tummy!
- Yummy! – Out of all the flavors I tried, I have to say the Cocotein is definitely my favorite.
There you have it! There’s my review on IsoPure drinks! Now, go out and grab a bottle and see for yourself!! And don’t you leave without trying the Cocotein – and then tell me what you think!!!! YUMMMMMMM!!
Check out IsoPure Protein at http://www.theisopurecompany.com/
Follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Isopure
Follow them on twitter: https://twitter.com/isopurecompany
Follow them on Instagram: http://instagram.com/isopurecompany
Many people grocery shop with the best intensions, searching for low-fat low calorie items. However, just because an item is low calorie or low fat doesn’t mean it is the best choice. A great example of this is Greek Yogurt.
Before you can decide which yogurt to purchase, you need to ask yourself “what type of fuel do I need?” and “what are my goals?”. What do I mean? When I added my yogurt into my LoseIt app, I realized my yogurt was one of the small things throwing off my goals. I was getting more carbs than I wanted and I noticed my protein wasn’t quite as high as I expected (especially at breakfast). As I looked a little closer, I discovered the difference was my yogurt. I had gone from plain greek yogurt to vanilla (and had no idea it was non-fat).
Non-Fat vs. 2% Fat Greek Yogurt
As I compared the 2 yogurts, I was surprised to see how different their profiles were. See for yourself!
The non-fat vanilla yogurt has zero fat, but a whopping 20g carbs (and 20g SUGAR!) – and only 14g of protein compared to the 2% which only has 7g carbs and 17g protein. Don’t boycott non-fat vanilla yogurt just yet though. There’s more to this story than just choosing low-cal, low-carb foods.
While the 2% plain yogurt is ideal for a breakfast, snack or meal, there is one time of the day the non-fat vanilla yogurt would the perfect fuel for you – after a workout. You see, after a workout you want protein and sugar (to help push the protein through your system quickly). You also don’t want to have anything that would slow digestion in it (like fat). So, the non-fat vanilla yogurt would be a great fuel for those times you can’t get a post-workout protein shake. Since you can buy yogurt in small containers, this makes a great alternative to a shake if you are traveling or in a pinch.
When it comes to breakfast, stick with the 2% plain (unsweatened) greek yogurt. The fat will help the yogurt stay with you longer, keeping you full and energized. You get more protein and also less carbs, which is great for all of us trying to limit carbs and sugar while building or maintaining muscle mass.
Remember, not all yogurt is created equal. If you have some regular yogurt in your fridge, you need to compare labels. For instance, plain Yoplait yogurt has 33g carbs and ONLY 5g protein! That’s MORE calories, MORE sugar, MORE carbs and much less protein and nutrition for the fit peep.
Even Yoplait Lite has double the carbs and sugar than Chobani’s plain Greek yogurt. This means you will be hungry about 30 minutes after you eat the stuff, and that’s not what any dieter wants to hear!
As you track calories and learn more about nutrition, take your time studying labels and shopping for foods for fuel. Dieting isn’t just about choosing low-calorie foods, it’s choosing healthy foods that give you the nutrients you need without the extra riff-raff (sugar, fillers, etc). When you eat like this, you’ll discover you aren’t really dieting at all, you are just eating smarter!
This summer salad is not only a refreshing healthy salad that’s super yummy, but it has just the right amount of healthy fat to keep you feeling full and energized!
Summer Strawberry & Grilled Chicken Salad
1 1/2 Cup Mixed Spring Greens
1/2 Cup Baby Kale
8 Ounces Grilled Chicken (marinaded in Apple Cidar Vinegar, Splenda, Salt & Spices)
1 Cup Chopped Strawberries
1/4 Cup Chopped Onion
1/2 Chopped Avocado
2 T Slivered Almonds
1/4 Cup Panera’s Low-Calorie Poppy Seed Dressing (available at Publix)
Toss the above ingredients together until all the ingredients are covered in a light coat of the dressing. Makes 2 servings.
Add 1 tablespoon of a low-calorie Balsamic Vinegar to your salad for more yummy Zip!
(look for the lowest-calories one you can get. See my blog on calories in vinegar for more tips)
Total Calories per serving: 315 calories
Prefer to Dine Out? Be careful!
For YEARS I poured balsamic vinegar on my salads having NO CLUE they had so many calories in them. I thought, like apple cidar vinegar, they were ZERO calories so I thought I could pour on as much as I wanted. Well, imagine my surprise when I looked at the back of my vinegar and saw that 1 tablespoon had 20 calories in it! I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I use TONS of the stuff – and at LEAST four times that much for a salad. Yes, 80 calories in what I thought was calorie-free bliss – PLUS I added olive oil too! Cha Ching (that’s me racking up the calories!)
The good news is, this isn’t the case for all balsamic vinegars. Balsamic vinegar just has more sugar in it than white vinegars. I bet you are thinking “Oooooh! THAT’s why I like it so much better”. Yep, that’s probably right!
Last night I was checking out labels of some of the salad dressings I had in they fridge, and low and behold, this yummy poppy seed dressing had HALF the calories of plain balsamic vinegar!! See! You NEVER know unless you take the time to study labels.
VINEGAR: The Search for Calories
I did a little homework on various vinegar for you. Here’s what I found.
Calories for 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar:
Balsamic Vinegar, Of Modena: 0 Cal
Balsamic Vinegar, Roland: 20 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Of Madena, Monari Federzoni: 20 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Pompeian: 10 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Bertolli: 30 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Alessi: 20 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, White, Alessi: 20 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Ages, Colavita: 10 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Regina: 40 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Holland House: 30 Cal/2 T
Average Calories Per Tablespoon (for all types of vinegar)
Cidar Vinegar: 3 Cal/1 T
Red Wine Vinegar: 3 Cal/ 1 T
White Wine Vinegar: 0 Cal/ 1 T
Balsamic Vinegar: 14 Cal/ 1 T
Distilled Vinegar: 3 Cal/ 1 T
Rice Vinegar: 1 Cal/ 1 T
Malt Vinegar: 0 Cal/ 1 T
Sherry Vinegar: 0 Cal/ 1 T
Champagne Vinegar: 3 Cal/ 1 T