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diets in review

Food Fight: The Best Irish Beer for Your Calorie Budget

Written on March 16, 2012 at 9:05 am , by

pretzels and beer

Photo by iStock.

By Kelly Turner for DietsInReview.com

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year…so, with no worries of heading into work the next morning while little leprechauns jack-hammer in your head, you can really get into the holiday spirit. Nothing says cheers to St. Patty’s Day like knocking back a few brews at your favorite Irish pub. But nothing can derail your weight loss efforts faster than alcohol.

Many people have the misconception that the darker or heavier the beer, the higher it is in carbs and calories. Not so. Some of your classic Irish beers contain no more calories or carbohydrates than your mainstream domestics–so drink up, but drink wisely, because no alcohol is a freebie. Let’s compare three popular Irish beers:

Guinness Stout – Calories: 170 per pint, 5.7 g carbs

Guinness Stout is very dark, almost black, with more carbonation than Guinness Draught. Guinness is the lowest in carbs, so you don’t have to feel bad about that slice of soda bread you snuck off your friend’s plate. To burn off one pint, however, plan on hitting the elliptical for an extra 17 minutes*.

Killian’s Irish Red – Calories: 163 per 12 oz., 14.4 g carbs

Killian’s has a chocolatey, toffee flavor that makes it almost a treat to drink. Can’t get enough Killian’s? You better make friends with your stair stepper. To burn off each bottle, you’ll have to climb stairs for 25 minutes.

Harp Lager – Calories: 189 calories per pint

Harp Lager is a pale golden yellow with a very mild taste and subtle sweetness. Harp is a relatively light beer, so go ahead and order those bangers and mash, but be prepared to spend 20 minutes running on the treadmill for every pint you down.

If you are looking for a  guilt-free beer to celebrate St. Patty’s, go for a low calorie beer like Miller 64, dyed green. With any luck (of the Irish, ha!) you can enjoy your St. Patty’s Day without feeling a pinch in your waistband.

 *calories burned are calculated for 150 pound woman

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Face Off: 3 Popular Supplements Go Head-to-Head

Written on February 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm , by

raspberries

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By Margaret Badore for DietsInReview.com

Can a concentrated dose of one of these “super” plants really help you lose weight? Our experts tend to say not likely, at least not anything long term. However, the growing popularity of raspberry ketones (since Dr. Oz’s “miracle fat burner” endorsement last week) has us looking back at some of the biggest supplement fads in recent years.

Here, we take a look at three supplements that promise weight loss: raspberry ketone, hoodia and acai.

Raspberry Ketone 

This supplement recently got major attention when Dr. Oz touted raspberry ketone as a fat-burner that can help anyone lose weight. Although scarce in nature, the synthetic raspberry ketone is relatively inexpensive. The supplement is basically a stimulant that works by increasing the body’s production of norepinepherine and adiponectin. Norepinepherine boosts metabolism by raising the body’s temperature, while adiponectin makes glucose less likely to be stored. However, there haven’t been any controlled studies on humans showing that these effects result in weight loss. “Like other diet pills that have an effect on body temperature and metabolism I would think that these products would only be effective for a short period of time and would eventually have to be discontinued,” says Dr. Sarah G. Khan, DietsInReview’s resident pharmacist.

Acai  Read more

DASH Diet Meal Plans: How They Work

Written on February 2, 2012 at 9:01 am , by

dash diet book

Photo courtesy of dashdiet.org

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

When you think of weight loss, the DASH diet might not be the first plan that comes to mind. Afterall, it was designed to help individuals lower their blood pressure and not necessarily their calorie intake, right? Well, yes and no. Although the DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, diet has been proven to reduce blood pressure, it can also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

This diet was recently named the best overall diet for health by US News and World Report. That’s because it’s balanced, relatively simple to follow, backed by scientific research, and generally safe to put into practice. From fruits and vegetables to lean meats and low-fat dairy, this meal plan correlates well with the USDA MyPlate recommendations. Many of these foods are lower in calorie and rich in important nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber.  A few more things to know about DASH diet meal plans:

-An individual should consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium a day. With the more stringent or low sodium plan, no more than 1500 milligrams should be consumed on a daily basis.

-Followers must go easy on fats, oils, sweets, and added sugars. Depending on how many calories you need to function each day and how
physically active you are, the amount of these and other components of your diet vary.

-Instead of utilizing special foods or counting calories, the emphasis here is more on servings and portion sizes. In general, those following the DASH diet should aim for 4-5 servings of both fruits and vegetables a day, 6-12 servings of whole grains, 2-3 servings of low-fat or no-fat dairy, less than 6 servings of lean meats, poultry and fish, 2-3 servings of fats and oils, 4-5 servings of legumes, nuts, and seeds, and no more than 5 servings of sweets per week. Alcoholic beverages should also be limited to no more than two drinks for men and one drink for women each day.

Not sure what a serving looks like? ChooseMyPlate.gov has a few excellent resources to help you identify what a serving size is for each food group. It varies depending on what type
of food you are eating and it can be tricky to keep all your serving sizes straight, but in general:

A serving of fruit = 1 cup
A serving of vegetables = 1 cup
A serving of whole grain= 1 ounce
A serving of protein = 1 ounce
A serving of dairy = 1 cup

The DASH diet might be for you if you’re looking to improve the nutritional quality of the way you eat. It is often associated with improved blood pressure maintenance; however, weight loss can also result from the dietary modifications taking place!

More from Diets in Review:

DASH Diet’s Marla Heller Suggests it May Not be Sexy, but it Makes Sense

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Food Fight: Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate

Written on January 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm , by

chocolate bar

Photo by iStock.

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

With all the recent talk about how certain types of chocolate are indeed good for you, an excuse to eat it isn’t all that hard to find.

But before you go and start eating chocolate bar after bar though, there is a small catch to all this good-for-you business. Chocolate, no matter the type, is still a source of calories and because it tastes oh-so-good to so many of us, it’s easy to over do it. Plus, not all chocolates are created equal. To get the health benefits chocolate provides, you really have to know which chocolate bar offers the most amount of nutrients and the least amount of calorie-ridden fat and sugar.

Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate

Although milk chocolate may taste great, it’s not nearly as good for you as dark chocolate is. This is because milk chocolate contains less of the original cocoa bean than dark chocolate does. Although milk chocolate does contain cocoa solids, it’s often diluted with the addition of milk solids, sugar, and cream. Since milk chocolate does contain some cocoa solids though, its not completely void of all nutrition; however, the nutritional quality is minimal in comparison with dark chocolate, which typically has more of the original cocoa present.

This is important because the more cocoa that is present, the higher the nutritional quality. Cocoa is a fabulous source of flavonoids, a special class of antioxidants that are the primary reason chocolate is now considered to be a good-for-you treat. The more cocoa, the more flavonoids, and the better for you the chocolate becomes. Plus, dark chocolate varieties often have less added sugar and fat which can also improve its overall nutritional value.

The Benefits of Flavonoids

Flavonoids are often found in wine, fruits, vegetables, and, of course, dark chocolate. These flavonoids have been shown to reduce the amount of cell damage often implicated in heart disease. Flavonoids also help improve vascular function and can assist in lowering blood pressure. They can also enhance the power of vitamin C and prevent inflammation throughout the body when eaten in proper amounts. Some studies have also shown that they may be beneficial in keeping blood glucose levels stable and may help normalize cholesterol levels as well.
Read more

What to Look for in an Instant Oatmeal

Written on January 4, 2012 at 8:30 am , by

apple oatmeal with cinnamon

Photo by iStockphoto

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

It’s undeniable that oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfast option. However, not all oatmeal varieties share the same nutritional benefits. Of all the varieties, instant oatmeal probably takes the hardest hit since many are either loaded with sugar or fail to incorporate whole grains. Nevertheless, instant oatmeal can be a wonderful addition to your day if you know what to look for when choosing your brand at the grocery store.

Look for whole grains.
The first ingredient you find on your nutritional label should be a whole grain. Look for terms like “oats,” “instant oats,” or “whole grain rolled oats” to be listed as the first ingredient. This ensures that you will receive the same heart health benefits from your favorite instant oatmeal that you would from regular or quick-cooking oatmeal.

Look for fiber.
Choosing an instant oatmeal variety with at least 3 grams of fiber can also be beneficial. The fiber will help you feel fuller longer because of slower digestion time. This is important because instant oatmeal has been processed to cook more quickly and usually digests more quickly in the body. By slowing down the rate in which your body breaks down the oatmeal, the more likely blood sugars will remain stabilized. Bonus tip: Adding a little lean protein or healthy fat to this meal can also help slow digestion and keep blood sugar levels more even (try a few almonds on top).

Look (out) for sugar.
The amount of added sugar we see in some flavored varieties of instant oatmeal is where we start to see the dark side of instant hot cereal. Six grams or less is ideal, but you may be hard pressed to find something under this amount in a flavored variety. Instead, choose an unsweetened or original flavor and add your own fruit, honey or cinnamon to the mix.

Look (out) for sodium.
Although it may seem slightly out of place, most instant hot cereals add sodium for flavor and preservative purposes. Try to choose a cereal with less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.

In reality, instant oatmeal and regular oatmeal are quite similar nutritionally. The only main difference is how fast they are absorbed and digested by the body. Of course, added sugar and sodium has the potential to make instant oatmeal a less nutritious choice than the traditional; however, by sticking to plain or original flavors, incorporating instant oatmeal into your day can be a great way to eat well and stay full.

Looking for a few instant oatmeals that meet our nutrition criteria? Check out these three top picks:

  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal – Original Oatmeal – 100 cals, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar, 75 mg of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Walmart’s Great Value – Original Oatmeal – 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar, 80 mg of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Nature’s Path Organic – Original Oatmeal: 210 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar, 160 mg of sodium, and 6 grams of fiber per serving

More from Diets in Review:

10 Breakfast Foods With As Much Sugar As a Candy Bar

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The Most Popular Diets of 2011

Choosing the Best Canned Soup

Written on December 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm , by

 

alphabet soup

Photo by iStockphoto

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

As the weather turns colder, nothing quite hits the spot like a bowl or cup of delicious soup. Homemade soup is typically the most nutritious option for when you’re on a diet, because you have total control over which ingredients you add or omit from the mix…but it’s not always possible on a hectic day.

When canned soup is more convenient, knowing how to determine which ones are your best choice is important. Not all canned soups are created equal, so here’s what to look at on the label:

Fat
Cream-based soups are often higher in fat than their broth-based counterparts. Although this is an admitted generalization, you can be sure you are choosing a soup low in fat by checking the label. If your soup has 3 grams or less of fat per serving, consider it a low-fat choice.

Sodium
Canned soups are notorious for their often high sodium content. Again, broth-based soups are typically lower in sodium than cream-based options, but this may not always be the case. You’re best bet? Soups that have 360 grams of sodium or less in each serving.

Fiber
If you can, try to grab a can of soup that has at least 10% of its daily value of fiber. Most Americans don’t get enough of this very important nutrient. Plus, the more fiber your soup has, the more likely it will keep you feeling full.

Vitamins and Minerals
The more nutrients your canned soup has, the better. Look for soups that have plenty of vegetables, beans, and lentils. These ingredients can increase the amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and protein your soup has and help you more easily reach your daily nutritional needs. Plus, bean- and lentil-based soups are often higher in fiber and lower in sodium than other soup varieties.

Look for the Word “Healthy”
Soups that use the word “Healthy” in their brand name are required to meet specific guidelines. Brands such as Healthy Choice, Campbell’s Healthy Request, and Healthy Valley must keep sodium levels below a certain threshold, as set forth by the Food and Drug Administration. This means that these food may have a lower sodium option than others; however, it is still important to turn the can around and determine for yourself whether the sodium levels in each can meet your own specific requirements for health.

MORE from DietsinReview.com: If you do want to prepare your own healthy soup, try these recipes. It’s easy to spend some time on the weekend making a big batch (or two), filling single-serving containers, and then freezing or refrigerating for the perfect brown bag lunch during the week.

 

Diet Face-Off: The Most Popular Diets of 2011

Written on December 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm , by

Happy Woman on Scale

Photo by iStockPhoto

By Brandi Koskie for DietsInReview.com

Each year, every web site and publication comes out with their year-in-review lists, including the best and worst of everything from movies and fashion to Twitter trends and songs. DIR’s list includes the most popular diets of the year. Stick to what you know, right?

For the past four years there have been a few mainstays on the list, like Nutrisystem, Medifast, and Jillian Michaels. This year we saw newcomers from celebrity-endorsed weight loss plans, like Kirstie Alley’s Organic Liaison, Suzanne Somers’ Sexy Forever (with a forthcoming cookbook), and the rumored Dukan Diet of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

While the complete list of 20 includes the fads and the fantastic, there are a few that can be deemed most popular. According to DIR’s readers, the most popular diets of the year were:

17 Day Diet and 17 Day Diet Meal Plan
It’s the first time in DIR history that Weight Watchers hasn’t filled the top spot. After selling a million copies this year, as well as a 17 Day Diet Workbook and a version in Spanish, everyone from Dr. Phil to your favorite aunt was talking about Dr. Mike Moreno’s diet and fitness plan. It’s a four-cycle plan that integrates nutrition and fitness is a manageable way that sets you up for life-long success. The book was number one and the complementary meal delivery program, fulfilled by Bistro M.D., took position three.

Weight Watchers
With Jennifer Hudson singing the brand’s praises and a complete re-engineered plan called PointsPlus, Weight Watchers was a mainstay in the lives of many this year. It’s one of the most flexible weight loss programs out there, using the points program to let users make their own choices about food and exercise. Eating nutritionally dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains will fill you up and keep you within range; however, a chocolate cake splurge or day without exercise could quickly deplete your point stock, not to mention progress to goal.

Jillian Michaels Online
She may have left Biggest Loser, but Jillian’s presence over the fitness industry reigns supreme. Her daily appearances as a co-host on The Doctors no doubt helped raise the visibility of her no-nonsense and highly effective workouts. Subscribers to her online program will find meal plans and nutrition guidance, customized workout plans, a support community, and much more. You can supplement your work there with any one of her books, DVDs, or other products.

TELL US: Did you try a diet this year? Did it work and why or why not?

 

Build a Better Party Platter

Written on December 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm , by

veggie platter

Photo by iStock

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

Whether you’re hosting a holiday party or bringing a dish to share, you can keep yourself and fellow party goers from overdoing it by building a party platter that not only tastes delicious, but is full of healthy choices. How to make it happen:

Load up on veggies. Use fresh veggies to complement party dips instead of crackers or chips, or consider incorporating your favorite vegetables into the dips themselves. Carrots, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, and even asparagus spears can make great dipping options. Meanwhile, avocado, onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms are great additions to any dip. Give this Sweet Potato and Sage Dip a whirl.

Think Lean Protein. Foods rich in protein can help you and your guests feel more satisfied, but you’ll want to consider leaner fare to keep calories low and the fat content within reason. White meats like chicken and turkey are often lower in fat than their red meat counterparts, and many seafood options are also relatively low in fat. Remember to remove the skin and avoid frying them or smothering them with calorie-ridden sauces. Instead, stick with baking, broiling, roasting, or grilling and flavor with your favorite herbs and spices.

Incorporate Beans. You can serve them in soups, salads, dips, quesadillas, or even by themselves. Beans are tiny nutrient powerhouses with one half cup of them providing as much protein as a one-ounce broiled steak. They are also a great source of fiber which can help keep your guests feeling satisfied without the extra calories.  White Bean Bruschetta, anyone?

Get Nutty. Although mixed nuts are no stranger to many holiday parties, these aren’t necessarily the best choice. Instead, think unsalted almonds and walnuts. They are loaded with nutrients and, although they are a source of fat, it is the kind associated with improved heart health. Serve these nutty delights with your favorite fresh fruit for a colorful and complementary display.

Mind Your Portions. No matter what you decide to serve at your party, make sure to watch your portions. Consider putting out smaller plates…tapas feel chic, anyway! Another idea: Keep the platters in a separate room away from the best place to congregate. This will help take the emphasis off the food and put it back onto what really matters – the people you are choosing to spend your holiday time with.

Eating healthy over the holidays doesn’t have to be a challenge. In fact, there are many ways to offer nutritious options to your friends and family. What are some additional ways you like to healthify your party menu?

More from Diets in Review: Healthy Holiday Gift Guides Featuring $1,800 in Prizes and Gear


Food Fight: The Greek Yogurt Debate

Written on December 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm , by

yogurt cup

Photo by iStockPhoto

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

It seems like everyone has jumped onto the Greek yogurt bandwagon. Perhaps this is because it’s relatively low in calories, often fat free, and packs a strong protein punch. This powerful combination can help you feel fuller for longer with less calories, and often help you maintain a healthy weight.

Because of Greek yogurt’s recent buzz and skyrocketing sales, not all Greek yogurts that have hit the market are as great as they claim to be. Additionally, determining which yogurt fits best into your diet depends on more than just nutrition facts. Texture, cost, and versatility all play a role. To help you determine which Greek yogurt is best for you, let’s take a look at three of the most common varieties available.

1. Yoplait Greek Yogurt

Yoplait Greek yogurt is relatively inexpensive; however, many do not consider it to be a true Greek yogurt because it contains milk protein concentrate for added protein power and several different thickeners in its flavored varieties. Milk protein concentrate is also considered to be a controversial ingredient since it is often imported from other countries where safety regulations aren’t as stringent.

On a more positive note, this brand does have a wide variety of flavors available and boasts double the protein of traditional yogurt. It is also a great source of both calcium and vitamin D. If you are a fan of traditional Yoplait yogurt, you may find this brand enjoyable; however, it is important to note that the flavored varieties often contain more sugar (18-20 grams per serving). According to Yoplait’s website, all of their products contain live and active cultures, important probiotics that have been shown to be beneficial for overall health. Some diets, like The 17 Day Diet, advise a daily serving of probiotic-rich yogurt. Unfortunately, the live and active cultures used are not individually listed on the ingredient list, making it difficult to know which type or quantity of each is found in the end product.

Keep reading to see how Chobani and Stoneyfield Oikos compare! Read more

Food Fight: Dark Meat vs. White Meat Turkey

Written on November 15, 2011 at 9:02 am , by

Turkey illo

Illustration by Flickr user tengrrl

By Heather Ashare, MPH for DietsInReview.com

In response to the fear of fat that has been driven into all of us, this Thanksgiving we may shun the dark turkey meat and instead pile our plates high with the white meat. But in our attempts to shave off a few calories, are we missing out on some key nutrients?

We decided to compare dark meat and white meat turkey and determine once and for all if the drumstick or the breast is the better option. Some surprising facts presented themselves in our research…

*Note: The serving size for our analysis is for a 3.5-ounce serving of turkey meat without skin—about the size of a deck of cards.

Round One: Nutrition

  •  Calories: White meat = 161 calories. Dark meat = 192 calories.
  •  Fat: White meat = 4g. Dark meat = 8g.
  •  Protein: White meat = 30g. Dark meat = 28g.
  •  Iron: White meat = 1.57 mg. Dark meat = 2.4 mg.
  •  Zinc: White meat = 2.08 mg. Dark meat = 4.3 mg.
  •  Folate: White meat = .01 mcg. Dark meat = 10 mcg.

Round Two: Taste and Leftover Potential

When it comes to taste, dark turkey meat offers an undeniably richer taste than white meat, but its higher fat content also lends itself to tasting a bit more on the slimy side, which may detract those who are sensitive to their food’s texture, or prefer lighter-tasting eats.

In regards to cooking with leftover turkey, dark meat’s higher fat content gives it a juicier flavor and therefore protects it from suffering from the dry taste that accompanies white meat turkey once it has sat in the refrigerator for a few days. Therefore, for a sandwich, salad or soup protein-punch, dark turkey meat is the clear winner. But if you’re looking to undo some of the gluttonous Thanksgiving Day damage, then you might want to reach for the white meat to save a few calories and fat.

Post-Match Commentary

Drumstick-lovers rejoice! Dark turkey meat delivers a much more nutrient-dense wallop than white turkey meat. With greater amounts of vitamin B like riboflavin, thiamine and folate and minerals like iron and zinc, dark turkey meat’s sullied reputation for being too high in fat deserves to be overturned considering these impressive nutrition numbers.

When it comes to calories and fat, the difference between the two is negligible. In fact, dark turkey meat contains a mere 30 calories more than white meat and just an additional four grams of fat. Place your fork down just one bite shy of finishing off that slice of pumpkin pie and you will have balanced out any extra calories you consumed by choosing dark meat over white.

To reap the powerful nutrition benefits of the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal, whichever kind of meat you select, just make sure to remove the skin and go easy on the gravy. These two items pile on the calories, so you’ll keep your dinner on the leaner side without them.

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Infographic: How Many Calories are in a Thanksgiving Dinner?